Santana reached into her jacket pocket and felt around for her phone. She came up empty.
Glee had started rehearsing a new dance number that'd gotten a little intense, and Santana had placed her phone on the piano in the choir room – much to Brad's disapproval, but whatever – after Finn had nearly knocked her over with his swinging arms. She must've forgotten to put it back after rehearsal.
Shutting her locker door, she reached into her pocket again, wanting to check the time on her phone. Which wasn't there. Obviously. She was losing her goddamn mind.
The hallways had already cleared out, and it didn't take her long to make it back to the choir room. She just hoped some klepto – Puck – hadn't swiped it to pawn it for guitar picks or something.
Rachel was waiting for her in the choir room. She wasn't alone; Quinn and Tina were flanking her. Santana's black-and-red cell phone was gripped tightly in Rachel's hands. Santana extended her arm.
"Give it here, Dwarf."
Without a word, Rachel took a step forward and handed Santana the phone. The others remained motionless, but they were watching Santana cautiously, like she'd break if the air shifted.
Something was very wrong.
Dread pooled at the pit of Santana's stomach. Her mouth went dry, even though she wasn't quite sure what this was about. But living with her secret for so long had made her alert, anxious. She talked big and had the confidence to match her words, but there was one thing she wasn't prepared to face yet. She had one weakness.
But it couldn't be this… lesbian thing.
After all, Quinn had known about her and Brittany's tonsil hockey for years now. She'd had an awkward but brief conversation with Tina about her attraction to women when they'd worked on Trouty Mouth together. And Rachel Berry, with her two dads and enthusiastic plans for a GayLesbAll or whatever the hell she'd called it… there was no way all this tension was about her liking girls. Santana stuffed her phone back into her pocket and frowned.
"Did someone die or something?"
At the question, Rachel jerked. "Santana…"
"I swear to god, Rachel, just spit it out."
"I found your phone on the piano." The words tumbled from Rachel's lips. "I wasn't sure who it belonged to, so I slid it open. I meant to hit address book. I figured it'd give me an indication about whose phone it was."
It didn't click immediately. "Okay…"
"Santana," Rachel said softly, "I went into recent calls."
Suppressing her instinct to acquaint her fist with Rachel's mouth for completely infringing on her privacy, Santana thought back. She'd called Mercedes at lunch, but she was pretty sure that was it. Frowning, she pulled her phone back out and checked her recent calls.
 Trevor Lifeline
Santana's heart sank. Anger, fear, frustration all boiled inside her. Who the fuck did Rachel think she was, sticking her gigantic nose in things that didn't concern her? Then confronting her about it like this was some fucking intervention. She hated that Quinn was here, too, witnessing this, because if there was one person she didn't want gaining the upper hand on her, it was that smug bitch. Santana's face burned with both humiliation and rage. Her head snapped up, a slew of insults at the tip of her tongue, but she stopped short.
Rachel was crying.
Rachel Berry was fucking crying, and it made Santana want to either shove a sock in her mouth or start crying herself. Maybe both at the same time. Santana swallowed hard.
"This isn't what it looks like," she finally said. Her throat felt raw.
Rachel rolled lightly on the balls of her feet. She lifted her hand, then seemed to reconsider. "Santana, I just want you to know that we're here for you."
"I'm not going to fucking kill myself, Rachel," Santana snapped. "I just… I don't know, I was bored."
"Santana." It was Quinn who spoke this time. Her voice cut through Santana like a sharpened knife.
Tina remained deathly silent.
"They'll talk to you even if you aren't suicidal, Jesus Christ. This is ridiculous." Santana took a step back. "I don't have to explain myself. I'm leaving."
Santana turned on her heels and left the choir room without glancing back.
Rachel started calling just to check up on her, under the premise of not checking up on her, which was annoying as fuck.
"Rachel, I swear, if you don't stop calling me, I actually might kill myself."
The line immediately went dead, and for a moment, Santana felt like a terrible person. Just for a moment. Then her phone buzzed.
Please don't joke about that, Santana.
Santana slid out her phone's keyboard and tapped back.
fine if you don't stop calling me i will break into your house and steal your bedazzler.
Rachel didn't call again.
Santana didn't really want to die, but she was stuck in a small town with a big secret, and she didn't really know who else to turn to.
She couldn't talk to Brittany about it because Brittany saw her in a different light. Brittany didn't think she had anything to be ashamed of. Brittany wanted her to be proud of who she was. Where Brittany saw individuality, Santana could only see an ugly difference that set her apart and made her an outsider. Santana was far from self-loathing, but when it came to this, she felt vulnerable, exposed. The world made it clear that her attraction to girls was wrong, and in her darkest moments, she let herself believe that.
Kurt had slipped her the number when he'd transferred back from Dalton. She'd almost tossed it out on the spot, because she wasn't a fucking invalid. She could deal with her own shit. Seeing the little slip of paper in her hand made her angry because it felt too real, like she had a reason to be concerned about her own safety. But the look on Kurt's face had convinced her to keep it.
The first time she used it was after she rejected Brittany's invitation to go on Fondue For Two.
She'd been crying hard, knowing she'd hurt Brittany, hating that she couldn't just get over herself like everyone else was expecting of her. She was alone in her house, desperate for someone to tell her everything would be okay. She remembered the number Kurt had handed her; she dug it out and keyed in the digits.
It didn't save her life or whatever, because her life wasn't in danger to begin with, but for the first time, she admitted everything she'd been too afraid to verbalize: everything about how her family was staunchly religious, about how she had nightmares where she was forced out before she was ready, about the best friend that she couldn't help but be attracted to.
The anonymity offered her a security blanket. Nobody would know.
The call lasted an hour and twenty minutes. She only hung up because she heard the garage door, signaling her parents' return.
hey midget did you tell anyone else??
Santana's thumbs tapped over the keys on her phone. She couldn't help but feel like everyone was looking at her differently, silently judging her, but she wasn't sure if that was just her paranoia or if the Man-Child had really spilled her secret. Her phone buzzed back immediately.
Of course not, Santana. While I may have earned a certain reputation for spilling the beans, so to speak, I understand the importance of allowing a teenage homosexual to hold power over her own process of coming out to the rest of the world. One of my fathers was dragged out of the closet when he was a freshman in college; he tells me it was a horrifying experience.
Santana couldn't help but think that if Rachel were standing in front of her, relaying the response face-to-face rather than as letters across her phone screen, she would already be strangling her.
wasn't asking for your life story god berry.
Santana looked out across the football field, watching the team practice. Sometimes she wished she were still on the Cheerios. The uniform protected her. Her position all but secured her a scholarship to college. Without it, everything seemed a lot less certain. Maybe that was why Kurt had transferred to that school of over-privileged douchebags. There was strength in numbers.
Santana sighed as she watched Sam spiral a football. Things were simpler when she was pretending to date him, and he hadn't been a bad boyfriend. Other than the part where he was a boy.
As far as Santana knew, Rachel, Quinn and Tina were the only ones who knew that she'd been calling the hotline. Which was… kind of okay. Rachel didn't bother her, Tina was Tina, and her relationship with Quinn had been strained for a long time. As though on cue, someone sat down next to her on the bleachers.
"It wouldn't hurt you to be a little kinder to Rachel. She's only trying to help."
Santana tightened her jaw. "Whatever."
Quinn crossed her ankles and looked down at the field. "She's worried about you, Santana. We all are."
"It's really none of her business," Santana shot back. "Or yours."
"It is if you're thinking of hurting yourself," Quinn answered calmly.
"Oh yeah?" Santana demanded. "Why's that?"
Quinn pulled out her phone and flipped it open. She thumbed through her address book until she came upon a number. She held it out for Santana to see.
Santana squinted. "Who the hell's Margaret?"
"That's a teen pregnancy hotline," Quinn explained. "I hid it behind a name so no one would ask questions."
Santana turned away, suddenly uncomfortable. "Damn," she mumbled. "I wish I'd have thought of that."
Quinn pocketed her phone and leaned back, elbows resting on the bench one row above them. She didn't speak or move. Her eyes glided around the football field; Santana could see her watching Finn, then Puck, then Sam. Finally, Quinn glanced across the field at the cheerleaders.
"You're not pregnant anymore." Santana's eyes locked with Quinn's. "Why'd you keep the number?"
Quinn smiled faintly. "It saved my life, Santana."
"You were—you wanted to off yourself?" Santana was never one to mince words.
Quinn didn't flinch. "I don't think I even realize it at the time. I was in a trance. I had just been kicked out of my home. I was sixteen and pregnant. My social status hit rock bottom. I lost my family, my friends… you."
Santana snorted, but her words weren't malicious. "Bitch, you never had me."
"I just—you're not alone," Quinn told her, sitting up. "We give each other a lot of crap, but—I'm here."
Santana stiffened. "You gonna tell me all that bullshit about how it gets better?"
"No," Quinn shook her head, "but I remember desperately wanting someone to say those words to me when I was at my lowest."
Santana looked away, stupidly overcome. She knew Quinn had struggled last year, but it never occurred to her to care. Now that she knew how it felt to want someone to just be there, she almost wished she could go back and extend a hand to Quinn after she'd lost everything.
"I'm sorry," Santana said quietly.
Quinn looked amused. "For what? Thought you prided yourself on being a bitch."
"I do." Santana smirked. "Takes one to know one."
Quinn rolled her eyes. Her hand brushed Santana's.
"Here. I know, Q."
what are you doing here? aren't you jewish?
this is a CHURCH. we believe in JESUS.
Judaism does not challenge the existence of Jesus, Santana. We simply do not believe him to be the Messiah.
whatever. look what the hell are you doing here?
Santana got her answer a few minutes later when Rachel raised her hand and began to question the Bible's stand on homosexuality. Santana curled into the pew, face hot as she listened to Rachel recite verses and offer her own interpretation of events. Hushed murmurs passed among the other churchgoers.
Santana's mother turned and whispered, "Why, she is a rather strong-willed individual, isn't she?"
"She's uh, she has two dads," Santana whispered back. "I don't even know why she's—"
"If all children raised by two men were as spirited and lively as this one, maybe I could support this gay marriage business after all."
Santana couldn't explain to her mother why she started crying.
Tina was on the golf team. Apparently her parents were both champion golfers or something. Santana wasn't actually going to join the McKinley golf team, but when Tina invited her to tag along on a weekend game and she had nothing better to do, she agreed.
Plus, she looked smoking hot in a polo.
Tina's parents took them to a fancy golf course a hundred miles outside Lima. Tina lent her an old set of clubs, and they decided to stay in the driving range for a little while to get Santana used to the swing.
"I know you don't want to talk about it, but—"
"Yeah, I really don't," Santana cut in, squinting up at the sky.
Tina nodded. "Okay."
"Hey, T." Santana looked down at her form. "Am I doing this right?"
"It's a little more—" Tina stepped up behind Santana, her arms reaching around Santana's body to show her the proper way to grip a golf club. Tina's knees bumped against the back of Santana's legs. "Bend your knees a tiny bit… That's it. Relax your shoulders. Okay, give it a shot."
Santana took a deep breath and waited for Tina to step away before lifting the club over her shoulder and swinging it back down. It hit the ball with a thunk. Santana watched it fly into the distance.
"That was great! You're a natural."
Santana's head snapped back. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Tina stared at Santana for a full ten seconds before bursting out laughing. "No one on the golf club is a lesbian, Santana. That's just a myth. An unfounded one at that."
Santana flushed. "That's not what I meant," she mumbled, even though it was.
Tina smiled. "I asked you to join the team because I've seen you hit a softball in gym class."
"Now that," Santana interjected, "is totally lady gay."
"I've also seen you punch someone in the face," Tina continued, undeterred. "You've got a heck of an arm. I figured since you left the Cheerios, you might be looking for another sport team to join."
"Golf is hardly a sport."
"Don't let my parents hear you say that," Tina laughed, returning to her own slot.
Once they'd both emptied their baskets, Tina suggested that they grab lunch. Santana agreed, and a few minutes later, Santana found herself in a golf cart, which Tina drove with expertise.
"You have so much to live for, Santana," Tina said softly. She was staring straight ahead, her knuckles white against the steering wheel.
"Tina, that was really just a big misunderstanding."
"I understood that you felt like you couldn't talk to anyone about what you were going through. I understood that you were lonely, that you wished you weren't so different. Am I misunderstanding?"
Santana remained silent.
Tina slowed the cart to a stop and dropped her hands to her lap. "For years, I faked a stutter. I didn't want people to talk to me because I thought that if they got to know me, the real me, they wouldn't like me."
"What's your point?"
"My point is that I was wrong. People do like me, the real me that I was so afraid to show anyone. I know that there are reasons why you might want to keep this a secret, but… I don't care that you like girls. I'm pretty sure I do too." Tina offered a small smile. "I know we aren't particularly close, but maybe that's what you're looking for? Someone to talk to who doesn't really know you?"
Santana stared straight ahead into the open course. The grass was startlingly green, the sky a soft blue. It was what she wanted. It was the reason she kept calling the number. A stray tear rolled down her cheek; her hand snapped up to wipe it away. She swallowed against the lump forming in her throat.
She called Rachel entirely by accident.
Maybe she should've changed Rachel's name in her address book to something other than Treasure Trail, but her number ended up right next to the number to Trevor Lifeline, and Santana had misclicked.
The fact that she was crying so hard she couldn't see through her tears might've also been a factor.
Santana's gut reflex was to hang up and pretend it never happened, because she was so not in the mood to talk to Rachel. In fact, she could name about fifty things off the top of her head that she would rather be doing instead of talking to Rachel, and the list included getting all her teeth pulled while being slowly torched to death by a flamethrower.
"Wait, Santana! Don't hang up."
Santana quickly wiped at her tears, though Rachel could not see them. "I didn't mean to call you," she said curtly.
"I figured. Um, how have you been?"
There was a long pause.
"Look, Rachel, I know you think it's your job to fix everyone, but I'm not a charity case."
"I didn't say you were." Rachel's voice was quiet.
"Yeah, well." Santana leaned back in her bed, eyes affixed to the ceiling. "You say it with your beady little eyes sometimes."
"I'm just concerned," Rachel huffed. "I know you would like to set me on fire—informed me of that last week, actually—but I still consider you a friend, Santana."
And there it was. To say that it made Santana feel awful would be an understatement. She didn't know why it never occurred to her that Rachel could actually take everything she said to heart. She remembered how Rachel had been crying when she found out that Santana had been calling a crisis hotline and realized that maybe this hit closer to home than she would like to think. Santana deflated.
"I don't—shit, I didn't mean that."
"I know," Rachel answered primly. "I've long ago learned to let your insults slide off me."
Santana shut her eyes. "Rachel."
"Thanks." Santana took a breath. "For, you know."
Santana could almost hear Rachel beaming at the other end.
"And your eyes aren't beady or whatever," she added awkwardly.
"I do have rather handsome eyes. I believe I got them from one of my fathers, though we can't be sure which."
Santana chuckled. "Yeah, sure, whatever."
There was some shuffling at the other end. "Listen, Santana, my dad overestimates his ability to handle a grill. I need to go make sure he doesn't burn his eyebrows off." A pause. "Will you really break into my home and take my bedazzler if I called you from time to time?"
Santana laughed in spite of herself. "No, but just… don't overdo it."
"Fantastic! Talk to you later, Santana."
When she hung up, Santana fiddled with her phone for a minute before going into her address book and changing Treasure Trail to Rachel. Then she scrolled down to Trevor Lifeline and changed that one to try a friend first.
Who do you find more attractive: Scarlett Johansson or Halle Berry?
really rachel? just cause i'm gay doesn't mean i have an opinion about anybody with boobs.
I apologize for the assumption.
ok but seriously... scarlett johansson.