They don’t hate each other. Not even a little bit. Not anymore.
She suspects it’s New York. It changes people -- not that Santana’s changed much -- but she’s definitely a little nicer, smiling a little bit more (at least in Rachel’s direction) and not mad at the world. It doesn’t seem like she’s fighting demons, or herself, or the world anymore.
Rachel likes it.
“Heat’s messed up,” is the first thing she hears when she blinks her eyes open. Santana’s standing above her with her baggy grey sweats hanging off her hips at an angle and her nipples hard against her tee shirt, the waistband of her red and white underwear visible below a patch of tan skin. It’s then that Rachel realizes just how cold she is. Mostly because her cheeks are warm.
Santana doesn’t seem to notice, she just fills Rachel in on the issues she, Mike and Sam are having with their heating system and how their super, Danny, is fixing it but it’ll take awhile. Apparently, it snowed all night after they got in from the movies and a few too many drinks at the bar three blocks away.
It’s not the first time she’s spent the night here in the two years she's been in New York. The four of them hang out together in some variation as often as their schedules allow. Sam’s working full-time and studying at NYU part-time while Mike’s teaching Saturday dance classes at a community center in Brooklyn and working on a psychology degree. Santana’s at Columbia studying English and interning at the law firm of some family friend.
She’s slept in Santana’s room the three or four times she’s been too drunk to go home or they’ve gotten in too late and Sam, Mike and Santana won’t let her travel home. The girl has a queen-sized bed that Mike says almost took out their door frame and scoffed at Rachel the first time she asked for a blanket for the couch.
Santana gets her a sweatshirt, some sweatpants and a pair big thick black socks and then pulls a sweatshirt over her own head and wanders off. She’s sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal when Rachel finds her after changing. It’s chilly in the house and she’s cold by nature most of the time. She honestly wishes she could go home but there’s a bunch of snow outside and she knows there's no way Santana's going to let her go off alone.
“Sam's stuck at work because he went in when there was like, an inch on the ground and Mike claims to be on the way home but—“ Santana tips her head toward the window with an amused smirk, which has somehow become a charming thing. Rachel giggles in response and Santana gives her a quizzical look then shrugs and says, “We have some of your nasty muesli shit and Mike is pretending he drinks Silk now, so.”
“It's not nasty but thank you.”
“I tried it after I bought it. It's nasty.”
“You bought it?”
Santana shrugs and spoons the last of her Cinnamon Toast Crunch into her mouth. “Hurry and eat. I'm getting back under the covers.”
Santana squeezes her shoulder on the way out the room and Rachel fixes a bowl of muesli and bananas.
Santana’s laying on her side in the middle of the bed with a remote in her hand and a messy bun atop her head when Rachel gets back to the girl’s room. Rachel’s practically drowning in clothes but she’s still freezing to the tips of her toes. She knows she’s shivering. Santana smirks and says, “Uh, hurry your ass up and get in. You look like you’re going to ice over.”
She rolls her eyes but slips into bed anyway. There are one, two, three covers over the both of them. The red duvet that Santana keeps on her bed, a black one from the closet and a colorful quilt she says is from her abuelita. She seems to shift uncomfortably whenever she notes that.
Santana doesn’t seem to be nearly as affected by the cold as they watch 10 Things I Hate About You on the large flat screen Santana has mounted to her wall. Rachel can feel how warm her skin is when her fingers brush the top of Santana’s hand. She’s actually hot.
Santana tips her head back so she can see Rachel from the angle and says, “You’re shivering. C’mere.”
“No you’re not. I don’t bite, promise.” It’s honestly not what she’s worried about but — Her train of though is veering in a direction she doesn’t want it to. She squeezes her eyes closed but she still feels Santana roll her eyes. “We’re friends now. I promise I don’t have like, ulterior motives to knock you off the bed or something.”
“That’s not …”
“You’re cold. Just c’mere,” Santana says again then lifts the covers and rolls more fully onto her side, pressing her back against the wall. Rachel fits herself into the space Santana’s made for her and doesn’t resist when Santana puts a hand on the small of her back and pulls her closer.
Rachel’s warmer instantly and she’d like to give all the credit to being near another body but it’s more specifically which body she’s close to. She mumbles a thanks and Santana just makes an unintelligible noise and pats her back, lets her hand rest on Rachel’s side, her attention back on the movie.
Santana doesn’t move to switch the disc when the movie ends and Rachel doesn’t really mind. Her legs are tangled up with Santana’s and she’s fit herself so that she’s perfectly comfortable with her head on the girl’s chest.
Santana doesn’t seem to mind.
Her eyes are closed when Rachel looks up at her. Her eyelashes fanning out over the tops of her cheeks. She’s not sleeping (Rachel knows exactly what that sounds like) but she’s relaxed and so pretty from this angle. Her body radiating enough heat to warm the both of them.
Rachel doesn’t realize that her fingers are stroking along Santana’s hip bone until the girl shifts a little closer and sets her hand on the small of her back, beneath her sweatshirt and over her undershirt. She doesn’t think about how odd it is to wish Santana’s hand was touching skin because she’s more concerned with the desire to tilt her head back and press her lips to Santana’s jaw.
It’s sixteen degrees outside when she realizes she’s in trouble.
There’s a little red reusable tote filled with groceries hanging over her shoulder and the sound of rain padding against the concrete all around her.
“Yeah, you’re not holding the umbrella,” Santana says and Rachel glares at her. “What? You’re fucking tiny. I’m not ducking. Hand it over.”
She passes it to Santana because she doesn’t feel like arguing. Again. They’ve already done that in the grocery store; in the pasta aisle, and in produce. At check out, too.
Santana smirks, victorious, and it should be off putting but it only makes her want to duck her head. She doesn’t because Santana’s giving her a funny look; instead, she dips under the umbrella and lets Santana steer them toward her apartment.
It’s Mike’s 21stbirthday and Sam and Santana decided to surprise him with a birthday dinner (before they get him "completely trashed"), which somehow means that Rachel is cooking.
(She apparently, “Cooks good shit even if it’s, y’know, vegan. So, please?”)
She likes to take care of prep way before she starts cooking so she made Santana get up at ten to come with her to the grocery store. There’s a ton of veggies she needs to get chopped and set aside for the dish she’s making and those snickerdoodles Mike loves to bake. She likes knowing she has time to get everything done.
Some idiot (“the fucking bastard” according to Santana) nearly takes her out, pushing past them on the slippery, chilly street. Santana catches her with an arm around her waist and yells a string of obscenities she’d rather not remember or repeat at the guy.
There’s a hand resting on the small of her back for the next three blocks. It doesn’t leave even as she’s trying to work the stupid, sticking lock on the door of her building.
“Got it?” Santana asks without actually looking at her. She’s holding the umbrella steady over Rachel’s head but her eyes on the shiny red Range Rover parked on the corner.
“Yeah, I—” Sometimes it catches her off guard just how pretty Santana is. Especially when she’s just looking at things. Her hand is still there, her thumb moving back and forth, a light hum coming from under her breath.
It’s gloomy and pouring down when Rachel realizes she needs to kiss her.
She knows the girl’s surprised because she makes a noise when Rachel leans up on her toes and presses their lips together firmly.
She’s not sure what she expected.
To be pushed away quickly?
But Santana has two hands holding onto her waist and a tongue gliding across her bottom lip. She doesn’t care that she’s being rained on, or that they’re on the stoop of her building or that Santana’s wedged a thigh between her legs. It all feels like exactly what should be happening.
So does Santana pulling away, then leaning back in to press their lips together one, two, three times before twisting the keys and telling her to “c’mon” in a sexy, desperate voice.
There are lips on the back of her neck the whole way up the stairs.
Santana’s hand gliding up her back then coming down as she tugs at her zipper feels like what should be happening, too.
And, god, she should be concerned that they haven’t said anything but Santana’s got a way of speaking with her eyes. And her mouth.
Santana doesn’t say anything at all until Rachel’s in nothing but white panties with her back flush agains the mattress.
It only takes four words to make her moan.
There’s two wonderful weeks of freedom between final exams and commencement for Rachel, Mike and Santana. Sam’s finishing up next year but he’s celebrating just as hard with the three of them. Being free is a weird feeling and she’d love to just sit and reflect on the last four years of her life in New York but everyone else seems to have other plans.
They’ve all been hovering in and out of drunkenness for far too many days and Rachel’d really like to sit at the apartment she and Santana are sharing now and catch up on her shows or read a book or just … be still.
But, Karaoke Thursday’s are a tradition and, well, she still can’t pass up an opportunity to sing even if no one will allow her to sing any show tunes.
It’s not like she doesn’t love all music.
Drinks are a dollar and somehow that seems to mean drink ten of them in Santana’s mind. “I’d spend $10 on a drink somewhere else, why not do it here?” is the “logic” she spews to Rachel after drink six. Mike and Sam aren’t far behind her.
It’s not like they’re driving home but someone has to be responsible so she enjoys her three martinis and that tequila shot Santana wouldn’t let her get out of and sings her little heart out, laughs at Sam’s interpretation of “Baby, Got Back” and tries to pretend that Santana singing “Rock The Boat” doesn’t make her a little warm in the cheeks.
It’s a quarter past four in the morning when the guys drop them off at their building and head four blocks over to their own. She’s mostly sobered up on the walk from the bar and Santana’s, well, she’s still drunk and pink-cheeked, letting out another round of la la la la la’s at the top of her lungs.
“You were super awesome on that duet with Mike, baby,” Santana slurs, holding Rachel’s hips and moving her wet lips against the spot behind Rachel’s ear that makes her squirm and giggle. She presses a soft elbow into Santana’s stomach and chuckles when she tells her she doesn’t like it that rough.
“You’re gross; you know that, right?” She says with a soft chuckle as she pushes the door open and waits for Santana to sort of waddle in after her. Santana just slides her tongue over her bottom lip and runs a hand through her hair as she toes off a pair of yellow low top Chuck Taylors and proceeds to unbutton her jeans.
Santana has this knack for stripping as soon as she steps in the door. The girl just doesn’t seem to like clothes and Rachel’s grown accustomed to it though it still makes her shake her head.
“Don’t leave your pants on the fl—“ she starts, but Santana’s already kicked them off and taken a step toward their bedroom. She doubles back with a devious grin on her face and scoops up her jeans then takes off in a little run. She’s leaping onto their bed, arms spread out like a jet plane with matching sound effects when Rachel steps into the room. “Really?” she asks around a giggle she can’t help.
“Shh!” Santana stage whispers, rolling onto her back and patting the space beside her expectantly. Rachel rolls her eyes playfully, shaking her head and tugging her hair up into a bun with the elastic around her wrist. “C’mon,” Santana half-whines.
“Hold your horses,” she sort of hisses. There’s no heat or annoyance in her voice. She’s just meticulous about her nightly routine and Santana knows that. She slips into a pair of soft cotton shorts and pulls a soft yellow camisole over her head.
Santana’s hand is still rhythmically thumping against the empty spot next to her after Rachel’s washed her face and brushed her teeth. Her other hand resting behind her head and her legs stretched out at different angles. She’s still drunk. Rachel’s sure of that, but it doesn’t really annoy her. She’s pretty cute when she gets like this.
There’s an arm slung over her stomach and a head resting on her her chest as soon as her back hits the mattress. (If anyone asks, she doesn’t cuddle.) Santana’s fingers dance up and down her side soothingly as she mutters the lyrics to “Say You’ll Be There” before she drops the lyrics all together and makes noises that are supposed to pass for the opening cadence.
“Hey,” Santana whispers pausing her noisemaking. She waits until Rachel looks down at her to say, “Love you.”
“Love you, too,” Rachel replies, fighting a yawn trying to wriggle free and sweeping a hand through Santana’s hair the way she knows she likes.
At five am, it’s the lazy, half sleepy grin Santana tosses her way that makes her realize that this is probably forever.