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The Flour Baby

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''I've missed this so much, Britt,'' Santana mumbled between kisses.

''Mmm, me too,'' Brittany hummed back against her mouth.

''I feel like I haven't touched you in forever.''

''It's been three days.''

''Well, three days feels like eternity without you underneath me.''

''Or you underneath me,'' Brittany countered as her hands travelled over Santana.

It was a rare intimate moment of peace and quiet for them now and they were happily sinking into each other on top of Santana's bed.

It had been a several rough and (sexless) days for them, but then again that was to be expected what with being new parents and all. Neither of them ever thought it would happen, but life had a funny way of working out. Neither of them had planned it, it - teen parenthood - just sort of landed in their lap. They had been blessed with a newborn bundle of joy.

Now, if it had been anyone else Santana totally would've dodged and refused responsibility, but when she found out that Brittany was going to be her baby mama she knew she had to do the right and honorable thing and help take care of the little one.

Life was suddenly filled with late night feedings and early morning tantrums. Now when Santana looked in the mirror all she saw were tired sleep deprived eyes. Gone were the days and nights filled with coming and going as she pleased, she was no longer just a carefree teenager who could drop everything and anything on whim to go to the mall or take a wheelbarrow to Breadstix, no, now she had this little bundle relying on her and Brittany to survive.

Being a parent, for Santana at least, was like having a constant case of heartburn.

It wasn't fun.

It was stress. It was tiring. It was so not her.

She sorta-kinda spilled coffee on the baby. She even once accidentally dropped it down the flight of stairs at her house. One time she even forgot to secure it in the backseat of her car properly and it went flying down onto the floorboard when she slammed on the breaks. She also may or may have not stuck a piece of gum on it because she couldn't find a trash can nearby. Brittany also may have had to chastise her one day in glee when Santana hurled the baby at Rachel's head during a solo performance.

Which, like, that couldn't be helped.

Being a parent was cramping her style, her sleep schedule and her sex life and Santana was frustrated as hell adjusting to this new way of life. All she wanted, all she had hoped for was to have one night, one night where she and Brittany could just be together just the two of them, like it used to be.

That was the plan for the evening and Santana had even arranged for a babysitter to take the little one for a few hours but that punk ass Sam Evans flaked out to her over the phone at the last minute claiming he was having mondo serious baby issues himself and couldn't look after her and Brittany's. Santana had been on the cusp of exploding until Brittany wrapped her in her arms and said that even with their new baby in tow, they could still have a nice, romantic night together.

And so they went out to dinner as a family at Breadstix. Santana had tried to talk Brittany into leaving their bundle in the car while they ate and Brittany had looked at her like she had just slapped her across the face. ''No, we are not leaving the baby in the car, Santana,'' Brittany had said with a look of horror and disappointment. And then when they had made their way in Santana maybe-sort of-kind of-dropped their bundle on the hard tiled floor which earned her another look from Brittany, who carefully picked their baby up and carried it for the rest of the night, even making sure their server gave them a high chair for their table so the baby could sit properly.

The rest of dinner went along relatively fine, although Santana had to inwardly sigh on occasion when it looked like Brittany was paying more attention to the baby than she was to her.

She wanted to be kissed and coo'ed over too ya know.

Things, she thought, were finally looking up when they made their way back to Santana's afterwards. Her parents were thankfully already in bed when they made their way in and up to her bedroom. She and Brittany both laid the baby down for the night over in the corner where they had made a comfortable little spot for it and then made their way over to the bed.

Physical touch had always been really important to them as a couple and when they found out they would have baby together they both promised the other that no matter how hard it got, no matter how exhausted they were, they would always make time for each other to connect in that way.

Sure, they had this little bundle to take care of now, but that didn't mean they had to stop taking care of themselves or each other. It had felt like forever since she touched Brittany or since Brittany had touched her and Santana had been more than a little eager to reconnect and reclaim that intimacy.

Their slow and languid kissing came to a halt though when Santana reached for the zipper of Brittany's cheerleading skirt and Brittany reached out to place a hand over hers.

''Maybe we should stop and cool off,'' Brittany said through tiny pants.

Santana smiled weakly. ''I was kind of hoping we were just getting started here.''

''I know and trust me, I so so so want to but, I feel weird.''

''Weird how?''

''I mean like, the baby is right there.'' Brittany tossed a little head nod off to their baby resting off in the corner of her bedroom.

''So.''

Brittany squinted at that, taken back by Santana's nonchalance. ''So?''

''It's not like the baby is gonna know what we're doing,'' Santana laughed. ''Who cares?''

''I care.''

''Brittany, please.''

''Don't you think I want this to?'' Brittany asked. ''I've been wanting to be alone with you for days, Santana, but we have other responsibilities now.''

Santana got up from her bed and went to their makeshift crib area and picked up their little bundle. ''Look if it bothers you so much I can toss the baby out into the hallway while we do this.''

''Toss our baby into the hallway?! Santana, that's our child!''

''Our child is a bag of flour with a diaper on it!'' Santana huffed, holding their little bundle up to display it for what it was.

Their little bundle wasn't a wiggling, giggling baby, no, it was indeed a literal bag of flour with a diaper wrapped around it.

It was a flour baby.

Ms. Holliday, who had been the one to assign it to them in Health class, had taken it upon herself to decorate each bag of flour with sharpie drawn eyes and a little mouth. The tiny thing was also comically sporting a bib and baby beanie, for authenticity of course. Attached to the center of each bag was a compact electronic contraption that would beep and blip and light up with little colors on occasion, notifying each 'parent' that their flour baby required some kind of attention. If left unattended the bleeping and blipping would only get louder and the inactivity of the 'parent' would be electronically recorded and tracked which would of course result in a poor grade.

When Ms. Holliday rolled them out for class that day Santana wasn't exactly thrilled. What was this a Disney family sitcom? Who was she, Lizzie Mcguire? Pah.

Santana was willing to give up her late nights, her sleeping in and her social life for the flour baby but like hell was she going to give up orgasms. Not for anything or anyone and certainly not for some silly bag of flour.

She really didn't get why Brittany was making a big deal over this.

Brittany scrambled up and over to Santana and moved to cover the bag of flours non-existent ears. ''Don't you talk about him that way.''

''Since when is it a him? It's flour!''

''It's the physical embodiment of our love, Santana!''

''Oh my god.''

''You know, when Ms. Holliday told us we were going to be doing this flour baby project for Health I thought I was the luckiest person in the room because I would be partnered with you.''

''Why? I mean, what ever gave you the impression that I of all people would be any good at this baby stuff?''

''It's not...you don't…I...'' Brittany gathered herself and the flour baby up into her arms. ''You really don't get it do you?''

''Get what? It's just a stupid project for a stupid class. And you know what, I get it,'' Santana sighed pitifully. ''I know I've been slacking and not really taking this seriously but if it's really that important to you I'll try harder. I want us to get a good grade on this too.''

Brittany blinked rapidly and looked down at the flour baby between them. ''This isn't about a grade for me, Santana.''

Santana didn't know how to respond. All she saw was disappointment on Brittany's face and she was still completely clueless as to why.

''Did you even want this baby?'' Brittany questioned.

''Uh no.''

''Wow I don't even know who you are right now.''

''Brittany.''

''I think it's best if I leave. I'm taking the baby and I'm going to my mother's,'' Brittany said, like a middle aged married woman who had finally had enough of her dysfunctional marriage.

Santana looked up and exhaled. ''You don't have to say it like that, you could just say you're going home. I don't understand why you can't just tell me what you want me to do or say.''

''Because I don't want you to do or say anything you don't feel, Santana.''

Brittany held the baby in one arm and slinked her backpack onto the other and went to her. She didn't look angry though. Santana thought she mostly looked sad there as Brittany looked into her eyes.

''Forget about it. It's okay. We're okay. I promise. We'll talk tomorrow alright? I'll take the baby for tonight.''

''Britt,'' Santana whined.

''Hey,'' Brittany said softly, leaning in and brushing her nose against Santana's cheek. ''We're fine. It's just...the stress of the baby getting to us. That's all. You can pick me up for school in the morning.''

Santana nodded and leaned in to Brittany's nuzzling. ''You still love me?''

''I'll always love you.''

Brittany gave her a peck on the cheek and lingered for a few moments as Santana pressed a few onto her as well before stepping out. Once she was gone Santana let out a frustrated groan and plopped herself back onto her bed starfish style.

She knew she kinda sucked at being a flour mommy and that was something she could accept about herself, but she had never really felt like she sucked at being a girlfriend until now. And that? That was something she wasn't cool with.

Why was this such a big deal to Brittany?

Why was she acting like this little Health class project meant something?

Why was it so important to Brittany that Santana want to take this seriously when she of all people knew Santana took nothing about Mckinley seriously, ever?

''Knock-knock!''

Santana propped herself up onto her elbows just in time to see her father step into her bedroom.

''Everything okay, angel?'' he asked.

Santana grumbled. Her dad still on occasion referred to her as 'angel', it was an old term of endearment from her childhood that he had never quite let go of. Even as it became clear after puberty Santana could often be less than angelic.

''Everything's fine dad,'' she deadpanned.

''You don't sound fine.''

Santana shrugged wordlessly.

''You know you can talk to me, about anything. It's me remember? I'm not like other dads you know, I'm a Cool Dad.''

''The fact that you have to remind me that you're a cool dad just highlights how uncool you are, dad.''

Her father lifted his head high with pride and continued. ''I've always told you, whether it's trouble with school or trouble with the ladies you can always come to me.''

''Please stop talking.''

''After all you inherited the trademark Lopez smolder from me, Santana. I, more than anyone know how exhausting it is to be so devilishly attractive and witty. It's our curse really.''

Dr. Santiago Lopez was a highly regarded surgeon at Lima General. He was a much respected and beloved pillar of the community, an upstanding citizen. He was also - according to much of the female population (as well as some of the male population) - viewed as something of a hunk. He had the dark and dashing thing down and he had always taken a bit of pride in that.

It kinda grossed Santana out when she overheard older women talking about how dreamy her dad was and how lucky her mother, Maribel, was to land someone so handsome and loyal to boot, because ew. Of course every time Santana tried to give her dad sass about it he liked to remind her that she had in fact inherited her smolder from him, to which Santana would always laugh and scoff. She had cultivated her brand of smolder all on her own she would always insist and he would in turn always deny. They would go back and forth in rapid fire exchanges, huffing and puffing at each other with familiarity and fondness. Their playful father-daughter squabbles would always end up with the two of them standing in front of an exasperated Maribel who would interject only to inform them that neither of them were as dreamy and dashing as they seemed to believe they were. Maribel would roll her eyes and shoo them away leaving Santana and her father to shuffle off together, licking their wounds. More often than not Maribel would spot them later on nursing their bruised egos with Breadstix takeout meals in front of the TV with matching pouts on their faces.

Santana had indeed inherited her smolder from her father, but she had also inherited her brand of ridiculous from him too. And like Santana, he also had the tendency to pry or tell hard truths. Like father, like daughter, he was a meddler. So when he noticed Brittany and Santana acting peculiar with each other he of course couldn't help but stick his nose in. Out of love of course, Santana knew, but it wasn't any less annoying.

''First of all, for the millionth-billionth time dad my smolder came from me,'' Santana groaned like a giant toddler. ''I own that. I'm sure you were like the Fonz or whatever back in your day, okay, but that doesn't matter now. And anyway, I'm not having 'trouble with the ladies', alright? Brittany and I are totally fine, not that it's any of your bidness.''

''Well it may not my bidness as you say but it seemed to me like Brittany sure left in a hurry,'' her father noted with a raised eyebrow back in her doorway.

Santana averted her eyes. ''She uh had a test to study for so we made an early night of it.''

''Mmhm,'' he hummed and sounded rather unconvinced. ''Her rushing out of here and you being in this delightful little mood of yours wouldn't have anything to do with your Health class project?''

''Why would you say that?''

Her father shrugged back, smiled and shook his head. ''Doesn't matter. Just know if you ever need some pointers on how to do the parent thing I'm also really good for that too. I did help raise you after all. Now I'm going back to bed. Whatever you do keep it down in here. I need my beauty sleep, princess. Your mother thinks I just roll out of bed looking like my usual magnificent self but what she doesn't know is I have to wake up an extra half hour early to look handsome for her. If I wake up tomorrow with bags under my eyes thanks to you, you're grounded.''

''Goodnight dad.''

''Goodnight Santana.''

X

The next morning Brittany seemed more or less over the previous night when Santana picked her up for school. She had toddled out of her house, strapped their precious flour baby in the backseat and then slid into the passenger's side where she leaned over to kiss Santana good morning.

It was a quiet and calm ride to Mckinley. When they arrived a few minutes earlier than usual they doddled in the parking lot.

Santana turned the engine off and sat back in her seat. She was apprehensive about bringing up their little squabble from the night before and kind of wanted to avoid anymore awkwardness between them. She was hoping to side step the whole matter by reminding Brittany that her mother was making her famous tamales and had told Santana to make sure Brittany dropped into the Lopez house for dinner in the next few days.

''That sounds like fun,'' Brittany said.

''Dinner with my embarrassing folks is pretty low on my list of fun ideas, but it'll be worth it since my mom's tamales are awesome.''

''Your parents aren't embarrassing.''

''Uh have you met them?'' laughed Santana. ''Like I'll give you my mom, she has her moments but she's mostly cool. My dad though?''

''I love your dad.''

''Yeah, I love my dad too but he's like mondo dorky. The first time I brought the flour baby home he took it into his arms and proceeded to take a bunch of silly selfies with it, all of which he proudly posted on his Facebook. What makes him even more embarrassing is he's the kind of dork who thinks he's a dreamy heartthrob or whatever. Honestly, I don't even know how my mom fell for him.''

''You know I've always thought you and your dad were a lot alike.''

''Puh. Whaaaaaat?'' Santana scoffed at the insinuation that she was anything remotely like her father. There was no way. She was smooth, she was sexy, she was striking. Her dad, however, was the definition of nerd. He always tried way too hard and was never not over the top, not to mention prone to ridiculous blustery fits that fizzled out with him huffing and puffing like a toddler. He was the most ridiculous human being alive in Santana's eyes, and there was no way she was anything like him.

''Yeah totally,'' Brittany insisted with a laugh. ''You and your dad are like almost the same person. Me and your mom talk about it all the time.''

''You what?''

''It's remarkable how much you take after him. Not just physically either although the resemblance is totally there but I also see it in the way you both talk and react. You even have some of the same mannerisms. You both like to think you're all suave and serious but the truth is you and your dad are like super cuddly baby kittens.''

''Uhhhh I'm offended. There's nothing cuddly or kitten like about me. And for the record my dad wishes he was half as cool and awesome as me.''

Brittany made a small accommodating noise, almost as if she were humoring Santana.

''You do realize of course that by saying I'm like my father you're basically calling me a giant dork, right?'' Santana wanted to clarify things. ''I'm head cheerleader, queen of McKinley. The entire student body worships at my throne.''

''Last week you cried because someone at the Lima Bean made your drink wrong.''

''Well I asked for a tall non-fat latte with caramel drizzle and they forgot my drizzle, Brittany.''

''Yeah I know I was there.''

''I think you just fail to understand how devastating that was to me at the time. Like I'm still contemplating a lawsuit just based on the emotional trauma they inflicted.''

''The fact that you can't see how nerdy and ridiculous you are is what makes you just like your dad.''

Santana pulled a face. The hell was her girlfriend talking about.

''It's sweet though…'' Brittany exhaled and looked almost wistful there for a moment. ''How you take after him. It makes me wonder one day what it would be like if you and I were to…''

Santana waited for her to finish her thought but it looked like Brittany got lost in her head there for a minute as her words got caught in her throat. ''If you and I were to what?''

''Nothing. It doesn't matter anymore. Now come on let's go inside. We still have to strap you into the baby carrier before class starts.''

Santana frowned at that but followed along as Brittany stepped out of the car. Soon enough Brittany was suiting her up with the strappy contraption, fitting it around her snugly before tucking the flour baby inside the front compartment.

''I love the way you look with this thing on,'' Brittany sighed.

''How is this remotely attractive?''

''It just is.'' Brittany adjusted the bundle's beanie hat with affection. ''It's adorable...you're adorable. The baby has your eyes.''

''The eyes are drawn on with Sharpie, Britt.''

Santana shook her head at her. She didn't get what was so appealing to Brittany about her wearing this weird vest. If anything it made her feel like a kangaroo walking around with a baby in its front pouch.

''So you'll take care of the little one until lunch and then we'll switch places,'' Brittany reminded her then, producing a toy baby bottle and tucking it into Santana's backpack for her.

''Right, got it.''

Brittany moved in to give her a kiss. ''Promise me you won't stick gum on the baby again.''

''I did that one time.''

''Or leave it unattended in a stall in the girl's bathroom.''

''That was an accident.''

''Or throw a slushie at it.''

''It was coffee not a slushie and I only threw it because they forgot the drizzle, we just went over this.''

''Whatever, just try to make it to lunch with our flour baby in one piece okay?''

''I can do that.''

Brittany then leaned down a bit in order to be face to face with the bag of flour. ''And you be good for your mommy.''

Santana couldn't help but smile as she watched Brittany have a very silly but very cute exchange with the flour baby. Wearing the stupid strappy vest thing was maybe-possibly worth seeing that alone, Santana thought.

The rest of the day passed without any incidents or major mishaps. There might have been a tiny moment of panic when Santana accidentally nicked the front of the flour baby with the sharp end of a pencil during Math resulting in a tear but it was nothing a trip to the nurse's office and a simple band-aid couldn't patch up.

Santana was thankful when lunch time rolled around. She found herself sitting at a table with Kurt, Blaine, Mike, Tina, Mercedes and Sam. Like her, Blaine, Tina and Sam had flour babies strapped to their chests as well. Blaine's flour baby for some reason was wearing what looked like a very flamboyant infant outfit, bedazzled from head to toe.

''Why's your baby dressed like that?'' she asked, looking at Blaine and Kurt in turn.

''Because our offspring will of course inherit my cutting edge style sense that's why,'' Kurt explained and reached over to adjust his flour baby's sparkly beret. ''Anyway why does your baby look like that?'' Kurt countered, dipping his head back in Santana's direction, indicating her little bundle.

Santana looked down at her chest. Then at Blaine's, Tina's and Sam's. Their babies were intact and relatively spotless and ''healthy'' looking. Meanwhile Santana peered down to look at her own. It was covered in dry coffee stains, sticky bits left over from the gum incident and it had a rather large band-aid across the front of it where its head would be.

Her flour baby looked pretty darn rough in comparison.

''It's been a hard week,'' Santana said in her defense as she felt her friends staring down at her. ''That stupid tracker attached to it is always going off and beeping because it needs to be 'changed' or 'fed' or whatever. Ugh to the ugh. I'll never understand why people do it on purpose.''

''Do what?'' asked Mike.

''Have kids,'' Santana answered mirthlessly. ''Babies.''

The others at the table looked between themselves as they seemed to be considering their own stances on the matter.

''I don't know I kind of like the idea,'' Sam admitted and tossed a sly smile to Mercedes at his side. He bumped her shoulder with affection. ''It's been a blast playing house with Mercedes. I know firsthand how much hard work it takes to have an actual family just from helping my folks with my brother and sister but I think it can be a pretty rewarding and awesome thing if you get to experience it with the right person.''

Mercedes chimed in. ''Motherhead is something I do want to experience one day in the distant-distant-distant future because there's still a lot of things I want to do and accomplish for myself first but, Sam has really shown me that with a great partner anything can be an adventure. It's been fun. Challenging but fun.''

''One thing is for sure,'' Sam continued happily gazing at Mercedes. ''If there's ever a little Jones-Evans kid that baby is going to have some serious singing pipes.''

''And some serious lips,'' Santana quipped with a roll of her eyes. She then turned to Tina nearby. ''What about you, Chang? You gone all tiger mom on that flour baby yet?''

''Must you really?'' Tina asked, unamused. ''And for your information no.''

''Tina and I have been doing really well as partners,'' said Mike as he spoke up for his girlfriend.

''We do make a pretty kickass team together,'' Tina declared and gave her guy a cute celebratory high five.

''It sounds like you two have the whole parent thing in the bag,'' Blaine said to Tina and Mike with admiration.

''Yes well Blaine and I haven't been slouching either,'' Kurt tutted and did a cute shimmy in his seat. ''I'm proud to say that the Hummel-Anderson flour baby is happy and healthy and stylish.''

Blaine beamed to the others who he quietly informed, ''Kurt's been on a little bit of a baby outfit shopping spree.''

''I can't help it,'' Kurt gushed. ''Look I know the baby isn't an accessory of course but there's no reason we can't embrace the project with a little flair.''

''Did you draw on eyelashes with glitter glue?'' Mercedes asked Kurt as she leaned forward to get a better look at the Hummel-Anderson baby.

''Oh my god that's awesome,'' Tina said. ''You have to do that to the Chang baby!''

''And the Jones-Evans baby!'' Sam exclaimed, throwing his hand up.

Mercedes raised an eyebrow at her boyfriend. ''I thought we decided ours was a boy?''

Sam shrugged. ''So. You're the one who told me we should raise boys and girls the same way, Mercedes.''

Mercedes laughed and nodded. ''I did, didn't I? Got me there. You're right. Ain't no reason our baby boy can't have beautiful glittery eyes.''

Blaine chuckled along with them. ''What does everyone say to getting together this weekend? We can all hit up the mall. We can eat and walk around with 'the kids' and make a day of it?''

The group mumbled their agreement, everyone seemed pleased with the idea for a trip to the mall with their little family units.

''What about you, Santana?'' asked Mike. ''Can we count you and Brittany in?''

Before she could reply though Brittany appeared with her food tray in hand. She took the spot at Santana's side. She gave Santana a kiss on the cheek and then even leaned down to give a quick peck to their rough around the edges looking flour baby.

''Sorry I'm late,'' Brittany said to Santana before looking to the others. ''And count us in for what?''

''Couples outing,'' Kurt sang quietly.

''A bunch of us are going to the mall this weekend, you and your girl in?'' Mercedes asked.

Brittany's eyes lit up at the opportunity. ''I'm game. Santana?''

In truth the idea of a big group outing didn't really appeal to Santana, at least not now. Not when she had spent the past week just trying to get some real proper alone time with Brittany without a bag of flour strapped to one of their chests or without the near constant beep-beep-beeping of the weird baby tracker telling them it was time to change a diaper or fix a fake batch of formula.

Brittany beamed and took her hand under the table and gave it a couple of appreciative squeezes.

So maybe tagging along with their friends for a night wouldn't be too horrible. Plus they were going to the mall so it's not like she and Brittany couldn't ditch them if they got bored and anyway she was totally due for a trip to Sephora she told herself.

Santana winced. ''Sure, why not.''

X

''...so then I told Dr. Stevens that the next time he puts his hideous Hummer in my parking space I will go all Lima Heights on him!''

At the dinner table Santana, Brittany and Maribel had just finished listening to Santiago Lopez recount an unpleasant interaction he'd had that morning with a fellow surgeon who had unknowingly parked in Dr. Lopez's assigned parking space. Her father had fumed and fussed as he recalled the details to them until he finally stopped talking and began to chew with a weird but very comical kind of intensity.

''Darling, please don't do anything rash,'' Maribel warned her husband with a shake of her head.

''I? Me? I would never dare,'' Santiago laughed. His smoldering expression diffused into a sweet smile in the blink of an eye as soon as he looked at his wife.

Maribel held a silencing hand up. ''All I ask is that you please not turn this into a big ordeal. Do you remember last year? You started some ridiculous rivalry with that neighbor down the street, and over what? Lawn clippers.''

''He kept blowing them into our yard, Maribel,'' Santiago huffed in his defense.

''So you just had to snip and clip his prize winning petunias, put them through a shredder, deposit the remains in an unmarked envelope and place them on his doorstep to find one morning?'' Maribel asked.

''Okay for the record,'' Santiago began calmly. ''Neighborhood Watch named me as a person of interest for that but there was never enough concrete evidence that could prove it was me. But I'll tell you all this - he never blew his grass and leaves onto our lawn ever again.''

Maribel chuckled inwardly and continued to cut up her meal into nice neat slices. ''You're ridiculous.''

''But you love me,'' Santiago said with a wiggle of his brows.

''But I love you,'' Maribel repeated with a nod and leaned over to give her husband a kiss which he happily accepted and leaned into.

Santana let out a long repulsed noise. ''Can we please refrain from displays of affection at the dinner table? If not to spare my eyes, then to spare Brittany's.''

''Nah, I don't mind it,'' Brittany said after swallowing a piece of Maribel's homemade tamales. ''It's totally sweet that you guys are still in love even after all this time.''

Santiago fed himself a spoonful of rice and moved their conversation on. ''So how have you two been doing in school? Brittany, have you been keeping my Santana out of trouble?''

''Mostly,'' Brittany answered. ''Though she does have a knack for finding it on her own. But this new school project has totally been eating up our time, we haven't really been up to much of anything else.''

''Ah, yes, my first grandchild,'' Maribel joked. ''How is the little one?''

Instead of answering Brittany simply picked up the bag of flour from the empty chair on the other side of her at the dinner table. Maribel and Santiago paused as they saw how torn and tattered the flour baby looked.

''Wow,'' Santiago grimaced.

''It's not like we haven't been trying though,'' Brittany insisted. ''I guess Santana and I haven't exactly found our parenting rhythm together.''

''Well, I'm sure you'll get the hang of it soon,'' Maribel encouraged.

X

Later that night, after Brittany thanked her folks for dinner and said a long goodnight to her at the front door, Santana retired to her bedroom. With flour baby in hand of course because it was her turn to care for it overnight.

She tossed it into the middle of the bed and then went about getting ready for bed. She changed out of her clothes, washed her face, brushed her teeth and climbed in under the sheets and turned off her bedside lamp. She pulled on her sleep mask and got herself comfortable. It was one more day closer to the finish line, one more day closer to the day she and Brittany got to turn in their freaking flour baby.

One day closer to getting her life back to normal, back to when it was just her and just Brittany.

She could do this she thought as she slowly began to sink into slumber. She could totally do this.

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

She yanked her mask off of her to see the tracker attached to the flour lighting up and making a loud ringing noise. It was yellow. Yellow meant the baby needed to be soothed. Santana grunted as she pulled herself up and yanked the flour baby up along with her.

''I can't believe I'm doing this,'' she said to herself as she began to pace up and down her bedroom, rocking the bag of flour.

Unfortunately it didn't seem to be doing the trick. The light was still blinking rapidly on it and if anything the sound was getting louder and more frustrating.

''Okay, I'm soothing you, you can be quiet now...come on...please...ugh…'' Santana grumbled as she walked every inch of the room and became more overwhelmed by the second. ''What's wrong with you? What's wrong with me?''

She went on for fifteen minutes like that. She half contemplated calling Brittany but then decided against it, she didn't want her girlfriend to think she was totally clueless or useless or whatever. She almost felt like crying.

''Do you need a hand?''

Santana turned around and saw her father at her bedroom door in his pajamas, sporting sleepy eyes and ruffled hair.

''What?''

''With your baby,'' he said stepping inside and gesturing to the bundle.

Exasperated Santana placed the flour baby on her bed and rubbed at her face to collect herself. ''I'm sorry if I woke you and mom up. This little chillona over here went off and won't stop.''

''Don't call your baby a chillona.''

''Fine whatever. But I've been like rocking it or whatever and it won't stop making this noise.''

Her father placed a hand to her shoulder. ''Let me try.''

Santana worriedly rubbed at the back of her neck and watched her father pick up the flour baby, place it against his shoulder as if it were a real infant and then rhythmically rock it. It took a couple of minutes of movement but thankfully the tracker went silent and the light on it stopped flashing.

Santana guessed it was the whole rhythm thing. She had maybe been jostling it around too much for it to be 'soothed' properly and for the little alarm to shut down. Her father though did it like a pro, with finesse.

He had even hummed a little something under his breath as he did so. It sounded familiar, it sounded pretty, Santana thought.

Once the flour baby had quieted itself he carefully placed it down on Santana's bed.

''It's all in the rhythm,'' he whispered then, as if the baby were real and he didn't want to wake it.

''What was that you were humming?'' she asked.

''Hm?''

''You were humming as you rocked it. It sounded familiar.''

Her father tilted his head in thought. ''It's nothing special. Just a little tune my mother used to hum to me. I used to hum it to you too when you were little.''

Santana smiled down at the flour baby. ''Thanks for this.''

''You're welcome. But don't expect me to do that again,'' he said and placed a kiss to the top of her head. ''This baby is all yours. I want you to do the work.''

Santana plopped herself back down on her bed. ''It's stupid though.''

''Yes well, your mother and I expect you to at least try to complete the project. And anyway, it wouldn't be fair to Brittany if you didn't.''

''I know,'' Santana sighed.

The last thing she ever wanted to do was let Brittany down.

''But you can still come to me for advice,'' he said. ''Next time just remember what I said, it's all in the rhythm and I know you have that because if there are two things I handed down to you it's my smolder and my rhythm.''

Santana smiled. Her dad was a fucking nerd. And god she loved him.

''Yeah no,'' she laughed. ''The only thing I inherited from you were my dimples, which like, mine are cuter than yours anyway so.''

''You wound me with your words,'' he exhaled as if in great devastation. ''You, young lady, should be thanking me. If it weren't for me you wouldn't have your smolder, your wit or rhythm. Those are the things that attracted your mother and I guarantee you those are the things that attracted Brittany to you. It's the Lopez way.''

''Goodnight dad.''

''Goodnight Santana.''

X

The next morning Santana picked Brittany up for school like usual and since they once again had some extra time before the bell rang they sat in their parked car.

They made the most of their time by making out of course. Santana much would've rather prefered the back seat but seeing as how the flour baby was back there they couldn't. Still, as uncomfortable as it was with the console between them Santana sank into Brittany's embrace. She savored each kiss, running her hands through blond hair and enjoying each little pleased squeak and hum that popped out of Brittany's mouth.

''I love it when you're like this,'' Brittany said, pulling away.

''Like what?''

Brittany just bit her lip, smiled. ''Greedy.''

''Mmm. So next month my parents are going away for a long weekend for their anniversary. My dad's surprising my mom with a trip to the Bahamas. She doesn't really know yet. But like since they'll be gone I was thinking maybe you and I could...you know, have a special weekend of our own.''

''Oh yeah?''

''Maybe you can spend the night and I can totally cook us dinner, or, well I can UberEats us our dinner. We can do the whole romantic candlelight thing. What do you say?''

''I say...I have the most romantic girlfriend ever in the history of the world.''

Santana shrugged. ''It's not the Bahamas. I can't really afford that but maybe one day.''

''One day huh?''

''Yeah one day. It'd be fun to travel like that. And like, not just because I totally wanna do you somewhere far off and exotic-'' Santana laughed when Brittany gave her a playful swat in the shoulder for that. ''But because I want to give you everything you could ever dream of. One day.''

''You really mean that?''

''More than I'll ever mean anything.''

Brittany pressed her face into the side of Santana's and breathed her in. ''Just so you know you are everything I could ever dream of.''

''But it'll be nice to have some one on one time. Plus we'll be done with this whole silly baby project by then so it'll be just me and just you, finally.''

Brittany's eyes sort of dimmed at that. ''Yeah, totally.''

''Are we still hitting up the mall tomorrow night with everyone?''

''If you're up for it.''

''I could use a new contour stick so yeah.'' Santana looked down at the clock in the car and groaned. ''We better get going. I still have to strap the baby to you.''

Santana spent the next few minutes putting the baby carrier on Brittany and securing it in place before sliding the sack of flour in. She still thought this whole baby project was ten kinds of dumb and lame but Santana had to admit to herself that Brittany did like mega cute with the carrier on.

The next day or so passed and everything was relatively calm.

When their planned trip to the mall rolled around Santana was relieved. It meant she had to endure one more weekend as a ''mommy'' to their flour baby before turning it, along with the baby tracker, into Ms. Holliday on Monday morning.

With their friends they hit up the food court first to scarf something down and from there they went about strolling the building, window shopping as they slurped on their fountain drinks. She and Brittany held hands as they went with Santana once again donning the baby carrier on her front. In an odd way Santana couldn't help but feel like an actual adult.

There they were walking around like a real grown up couple and even though their baby was technically a bag of flour there was something about it that felt weirdly mature. Especially when they paused in front of one storefront to admire something and Santana caught their reflection in the window.

They kind of looked like a real family, the two of them with a little bundle of their own.

Surprisingly, it wasn't a totally hideous sight.

They went along though. They watched Mercedes purchase a new phone case from a kiosk and helped Tina pick out a fresh new pair of fingerless gloves from Hot Topic. They were even witness to Sam and Mike get all squealy and excited at baby clothing. Or rather baby shoes. The two of them had been in a shoe shop looking and drooling over pricey new sneakers when they had spotted baby Air Jordans. They fell in love at first sight. How could something so awesome be so tiny?

''I'm buying these,'' Sam said to the group as he placed the small pair of baby sneakers into his palm and displayed them.

''Sam,'' Mercedes admonished through laughter.

''I want them,'' he insisted firmly and his eyes went wide and soft. ''Look I know this flour baby isn't real and can't wear them but look how cute and tiny they are? They're perfect. They're made for perfect little baby feet.''

''I know they are and they are adorable and I promise you if we ever get there one day, you can pick out all of the baby shoes. For now though? Save your money.''

Sam sighed and nodded as he placed the pair of sneakers back on the wall. The group laughed but then carried on with their browsing as Santana and Brittany and their flour baby trailed in the rear. They slowed their stroll to browse the baby shoe wall themselves.

''They are pretty cute,'' Brittany observed as she found a pair covered in Peanuts characters.

''I guess so,'' Santana said monotonously. Baby shoes really didn't make her feel anything.

From there they all splintered off then. Mike, Mercedes and Blaine wandered into a bookstore. Sam and Tina decided to get their snack on with a giant hot pretzel which they ate as they watched Kurt model neckerchiefs for them from a nearby kiosk.

Santana and Brittany however had wandered off for some ice cream. They had purchased it from this little corner of the mall that was right next to a giant sectioned off play area for children. It was like an indoor playground filled with soft foamy toys, bouncy ball pits, activities and games. All along the area there were cushioned benches filled with shopped out parents watching their little ones play from the sidelines.

Santana and Brittany sat on one of said benches and finished their ice cream off in silence as they watched kids run and scream around them. Brittany had managed to finish hers quickly while Santana was savoring her double scoop. Or she was anyway until some red faced kid randomly came up to her and decided to sneeze directly onto it. Santana flinched and handed the kid the cone and flapped her hand at him, clearly indicating he really needed to scram from her vicinity.

Santana huffed as she wiped her hand off with a spare napkin. ''Kids are the worst, I swear.''

''I'm sure it was an accident.''

Santana stared ahead at the madness in front of her. Sweaty, sticky, loud kids running and laughing and screaming and crying. ''Ugh I don't know how they can stand it?''

''How who can stand what?''

''The parents.'' Santana made a subtle nod to the adults sitting around. ''Why would anyone give up their social life, their money, their time...hell, their sex life for this?'' She then waved to the indoor park. ''Like this, this is probably the highlight of their week as adults. Taking the kids to the mall and sitting on their ever expanding asses. How do people live like that?''

''For some people this…'' Brittany made her own motion to the playground in front of them. ''...isn't some kind of death sentence. Maybe for some people it's fulfilling?''

Santana grumbled inwardly. ''Fulfilling? More like a soul crushing nightmare to me.''

''Is that what you really think?''

''I just don't get why people would ever want to sacrifice all that they are to bring some sticky drooling little monster into the world.''

''Not even if that sticky drooling little monster was mine and yours?''

Santana let out a nervous awkward laugh. For a second she didn't think Brittany was serious but when Brittany didn't start laughing along with her and instead began to look troubled she realized Brittany wasn't trying to be funny or cute.

Brittany was talking kids.

About them having kids.

Together.

In a for serious way.

''That's not...I wasn't talking about...it's not like…'' Santana stammered for a few moments as she tried to find the right words. ''Brittany…'' she said, softening suddenly. ''That isn't how I meant for it to sound. I was talking about other people. I've never thought about me or you or us as...like…''

''Parents?''

Santana went silent.

''I'm not mad,'' Brittany said soothingly and Santana knew she was telling the truth. There was no judgement in Brittany's eyes. A little bit of confusion perhaps, but not jugement. ''Over the last however many days I've kind of figured out that this baby stuff isn't your thing and that's okay. I guess a part of me was kind of hoping it would be.''

''Why?''

Brittany bit her lip and stared at a couple of giggling children going down a small slide. ''You know when Ms. Holliday told us what we were going to do and paired us up I for sure thought me and you would rock this whole parent thing together and be, like, totally in sync. I thought you would be the best at it, even more than me.''

''Me?''

''Well yeah. Because no one loves me like you love me,'' Brittany admitted softly. ''I'm pretty sure no one loves anyone the way you love me. You give me everything, with everything you are. It's just how you love. It isn't conditional or limited or anything like that. You love hard and you love passionately. So. I thought that you would love and care for our baby with the same kind of devotion. In the back of my head I always liked to believe you would be a kickass mommy with a hardcore heart. Because if you love me like you do, I assumed you would love a little me or a little you just as hard and just as deeply.''

''Brittany.'' Santana gulped as she felt a horrible ache in the back of her throat.

''But I shouldn't have put that expectation on you.'' Brittany looked at the bag of flower in her lap. ''This whole Health class project made me want to play house I guess and my head got a little carried away with the fantasy.''

''And a baby is a part of your fantasy?''

''A baby with you is part of my fantasy. God, I sound like a ridiculous schoolgirl.''

''You're not ridiculous,'' Santana said. ''If that's your fantasy future, it's not ridiculous.''

''It's not like I want it today or tomorrow or any time soon, but the flour baby has made me wonder what that would look like. Me, you and a real little bundle of joy.''

''Oh,'' was the only thing Santana could croak out.

''Have you? Thought about our future I mean?''

''I think about what our future is going to look like almost every day. I think about where we're going to go after high school and what you're going to be and what I'm going to be and - yeah. I do.''

''And you never thought about us having a family?''

''I don't know. I never really day dreamed that far ahead for us.''

Brittany went silent.

''Are you upset?'' Santana asked.

''No. Of course not. It's not like any of this is some kind of deal breaker or even set in stone,'' Brittany reasoned. ''Ten years from now I can wake up and feel differently, ten years from now you could wake up and feel differently, or not, we don't really know and that's okay.''

''Is it?''

''Not everyone wants the same things out of life, it's just how it is.'' Brittany spoke with a calm ease. ''This is a conversation we'll probably need to have one day way way way far off in the future or whatever but it doesn't change anything now.''

''Really?''

''Totally. Hey…'' Brittany went to turn Santana's head towards her. ''You said you'd give me everything I could ever dream of, didn't you? And I told you, you're everything I could ever dream of.''

Santana nodded and smiled at that.

''And yeah,'' Brittany continued on. ''It does make me a little sad, the idea that we possibly might not have kids one day but I would never ask you to do something you didn't want to do.''

''And I would never ask you to give something up because of me.''

''Right, and so when the day comes when we need to have this talk we'll figure all of that out, together.''

''Together,'' Santana repeated.

Brittany pursed her lips and grinned slyly. ''Plus now that I'm thinking about it, who even knows if I want to have kids with you. I mean judging by your genes I know what to expect. Your dad's a nerd, you're a nerd...any baby you and I would have would be at risk for having severely nerdy tendencies.''

Santana burst out into mad, offended laughter. ''For the last time, I'm not a nerd. I'm stunning, I'm striking, I'm dark and dangerous.''

''Yeah no, not buying it,'' Brittany went on teasingly, grinding her gears. ''You would totally make dorky babies.''

''Pah. You know what, not that they would be but even if any hypothetical baby of mine was dorky, you would be all about that. You would love my dork ass baby!''

''Absolutely I would.''

''...it would be kind of cool though,'' Santana said after a long moment of silence.

''What?''

''Like, a tiny Snix. She'd come out of the womb like a tiny badass.''

''She?'' Brittany raised an eyebrow.

Santana caught herself. She wasn't sure why she had said that. It's not like she had any present desire for kids, boy or girl, but for some reason when her head went into that weird hypothetical place she kind of saw a she, a baby girl. Not that she would be upset with any hypothetical baby boy either but she did rather like the idea of a baby girl carrying on her Snix legacy.

''A hypothetical she.''

''Right. Hypothetical.''

Later that night after saying goodbye to their friends Santana took Brittany home.

In the end there was no big conclusion, no big conversation, no big revelation. In the end they were still seventeen. In the end they still had their lives ahead of them.

''I'm with you,'' Brittany said. ''Even though you're a nerd who thinks kids can be annoying and you can't seem to go two seconds without dropping a bag of flour, I'm with you, Santana.''

''You still love me?''

''I still love you.'' Brittany reaffirmed it with a kiss. ''Pick me up tomorrow?''

''Of course.''

They had a long goodbye and then Santana watched Brittany leave, taking their flour baby with her for the night. She drove home then in a daze. She kind of went on autopilot as she walked into her own house, taking her coat off, tossing her keys in the bowl near the front door. She hadn't realized how much noise she was making getting settled in until she saw her father walk out of his study and approach her.

''Everything okay?'' he asked.

''Huh, what? Oh, yeah,'' Santana answered as she awkwardly hopped out of her painful, ridiculously high heels.

''No baby tonight then?''

''No, it's uh...it's Brittany's turn,'' she sighed.

Santiago narrowed his eyes on observation. ''Are you sure you're okay?''

''Yeah. I was just sort of thinking. You know. About stuff.'' Wearily Santana made her way to the staircase and took a seat. ''Do you think I'd be a good mom?''

Her father looked surprised by the question as he came over to sit at her side. ''Do I think you'd be a good mom?''

''Earlier Brittany and I got to talking and I don't know. She seems to think I'd be really good at it one day but a part of me wonders.''

''Wonders what?'' he questioned.

''Say one day when I'm older I decide that I do want kids, and I have one, what happens if I suck at it.''

''Why would you think you would suck at it?''

''Have you seen my bag of flour?'' Santana asked. ''It's covered in stains and tears and the only reason it's still in one piece is because of Britt. She's like way better at that caring stuff. And then it's like when we were at the mall with our friends some of them were freaking out over how cute baby shoes were, but I didn't really feel anything when I looked at them. They were just really small shoes. And even when I just see a random kid, I don't really feel anything. To me they're just mini humans. I guess I just got to thinking, if Brittany and I ever had kids she'd be like the best mom ever and I don't know what I would be. I don't know if I would be any good for a kid.''

''Santana,'' her father said hushing her gently. ''That's ridiculous.''

''Is it though? This flour baby project pretty much proves that I would suck at being a mom.''

''No, the only thing it proves is that you suck at handling a bag of flour. I mean this little thing your teacher has you doing, it's just a taste of what parenthood is. It's demanding and challenging and tiring yes, but parenthood is a million other things too. You doing poorly with this project of yours doesn't prove anything.''

''How do you know?''

''I just know. You're forgetting, me and you, we're cut from the same cloth.''

''Meaning exactly?''

Her dad gave her a tight smile. ''Once upon a time I was just like you.''

Santana let out a puff of air.

''I was,'' her father insisted. ''I was just like you, Santana. Sharp, no nonsense, proud. I never thought I would want kids. That wasn't something I had any great desire for. Your mother came along though and it's like she opened parts of my heart that I wasn't even aware existed until she showed up. I like to think I was the one who swept her off her feet but the truth is, I think it was your mother who swept me off mine. I thought my heart was full. I had found the love of my life and I couldn't ever imagine making room for anyone else. Until she told me we were going to have you.''

Her father took a deep, unsteady breath as his voice became warmer and more emotional.

''I knew I would love you and care for you because you were a part of her and a part of me but I don't think it was until the moment I first held you in my arms that I knew. 'Oh. She's going to change everything'. And you did. You changed everything I thought I knew about the world and about myself. When I looked into your brown eyes I knew then...you would always be my perfect little angel. It's why we named you Santana. It means saint-like.''

''I'm the furthest thing from a saint.''

''Yes, well, regardless of that, it's always how I'm going to see you. I know you're getting older but sometimes I still catch glimpses of her. Of that tiny baby in swaddling clothes. I still see her sometimes when I look at you.''

''And your point being?''

''Before you, I didn't care about baby shoes or bags of flour or anything like that. Because those are just things. But holding your child, it changes you in the most beautiful profound way. It transformed me and it'll transform you...if that's something you decide you want for yourself.'' He reached over and tugged her towards him, encouraging her to lean against him in a tender side hug as they sat next to one another. ''If you decide that's something you want to be one day, there's no doubt in my mind you have it in you to be an amazing mother.''

''You...you really think that?'' she asked and relaxed as her father hugged her side.

''I know that. Why? Because you're a Lopez, Santana. We don't do anything halfway or halfhearted.''

Santana looked at her father. ''Are you crying?''

Santiago sniffled and tried to compose himself. ''Of course I'm not crying, you're crying!''

Moved by her father Santana felt her own tears well up.''Oh my god, dad, stop crying.''

''You stop crying!''

''I'm not crying!'' Santana shouted back, wiping at the tears on her face.

''Yes you are!''

''No I'm not!''

''Santana!''

''Dad!''

Santana and her father tearfully continued to yell at each other for several minutes until Maribel walked out and stood before them.

''Why are you two crying?'' she asked her husband and daughter.

''We're not crying!'' Santana and her father hollered as they ugly-cried in front of a straight-faced Maribel.

''Right. Well, I'm going to make myself some tea. You two chillonas are welcome to join me when you're both finished.''

X

And so Monday came along and Santana and Brittany turned in their flour baby along with its tracker. By the end of the day they got their results. They hadn't done exceptionally well but they passed. Their baby had a little wear and tear on it but according the the tracker data each time the flour baby made noise it was tended to. It was fed, it was rocked, it was given attention. They didn't do so bad as parents after all.

The first chance she got Santana texted her dad the news. She was maybe more than just a little proud of herself. He replied back with an embarrassing amount of emojis and said they should do a little something to celebrate.

That's how she ended up with her folks as well as Brittany standing in line later that evening at the Lima Bean.

''I just want you to know that Santiago and I are proud of you two,'' Maribel said quietly to Brittany. The two of them stood just a step behind Santana and her father who were chatting to each other and reading the signage up ahead and trying to decide on what to order. ''I know our Santana, as much as I love her, isn't always the most...how should I put this...easygoing person.''

''I mean it was totally challenging but to be honest, there's no one else I would've rather been partnered with,'' Brittany said. ''I love her. I can't imagine having a fake flour baby with anyone else.''

''Maybe one day you and her will make me a real grand baby.''

Brittany smiled. ''Maybe one day yeah.''

''I'd like that.''

''I'd like that too.''

Maribel patted Brittany on the back with affection as the two of them turned to face forward as Santana and her father began to place their order.

Santana began. ''I want a tall non-fat latte with caramel drizzle and so help me god, if you forget the drizzle-''

''I will go all Lima Heights in here,'' her father interjected. ''And by all Lima Heights I mean I will talk to your manager!''