Author notes: This is an AU story in an alternate universe. Santana has a twin named Adriana who the story mainly focuses on, but other characters in Glee will be featured prominently.
Disclaimer: I do not own anyone but Adriana Lopez.
Adriana Lopez was four years old when her parents died.
She guessed, when she thought about it, that most people would say that something so terrible would be the defining moment of her life. They were probably right; even though it had happened twelve years ago, three quarters of her life time, she still remembered very clearly what had happened on the day that she and her sister were told. The saddest part to her now, though, was that she couldn't imagine very clearly what might have been different in her life, if her parents had lived. Four years wasn't a very long time to be able to build up many memories, and between what few things Adriana and her twin sister Santana could recall, the picture they added up to was pretty blurry.
Santana remembered that when Adriana got scared at night and would leave the room to go sleep with their parents, their father would come to bring Santana into the bed as well, or else their mother would leave their room to go lie the rest of the night with Santana, so she wouldn't have to wake up alone. Adriana remembered a silly song that their father would sing to them when he gave them a bath, and they both remembered being read stories at night and getting an exactly equal number of kisses. Santana remembered the silly faces that their father would make, and Adriana remembered how her mother's eyes crinkled up when she smiled.
But even between the two of them, their memories added up to only vague shadows of people instead of coherent wholes. Sometimes Adriana thought that this was worse, to have only partial memories that made her ache for more, than if she could remember nothing at all. They knew just enough to make them curious, just enough to make them want to know the rest. Or at least, that's how she felt; Santana grew impatient and irritable whenever she talked about it, but she knew her sister, and she suspected that the immediate grumpiness she always showed at the topic meant that Santana felt the same way, but found it too hard to talk about.
They couldn't have asked their abuela for more information. Alma Lopez had raised them, this was true, and though they grew up in Lima Heights, an area of Lima that well deserved its poor reputation, they had never wanted for anything physical or material that they needed- at least, nothing that was essential. Their abuela had neither youth nor money on her side, but she had done her duty by her granddaughters as she saw fit, and they couldn't fault her that. Especially since she so frequently reminded them.
Long ago they had learned the line of what she was and was not willing or able to give them. Sentimentality, affection, praise, and flexibility were all on the list of things the twins knew not to expect, and on that list as well was information to questions she considered foolish or unnecessary. Learning more about their parents was considered both to her.
The past was in the past, their abuela told them. It was silly to moon over what could not be changed. Best to move forward with life and get done with things that needed to be done instead of wonder and worry over people long gone.
The past might be over, but for Adriana, it was never quite gone. After all, it was a piece of her and her sister both; how could it ever truly be over?
Then again, Adriana had also learned that there were pieces of both her and her sister that Alma Lopez would never be able to accept. And their past was nothing compared to their present.
"It's time to wake up, girls," their abuela's curt voice greeted them, piercing the remnants of Adriana's morning dreams. "Dress and come into the kitchen for breakfast, please."
She didn't linger in the doorway to make certain that her granddaughters complied. Although they were only four years old, it was expected of them by her that compliance would never even be a question. For Adriana, this was true; naturally eager to please, she rolled over in the twin bed of her abuela's guest room, rubbing at her eyes with chubby fists and yawning. For her sister Santana, compliance was not only questionable, but sometimes out of the question entirely.
This morning was no exception. Little Santana entirely ignored her abuela's direction, instead burrowing further beneath her blanket to form a small lump beneath. Adriana shook her in the direction of what she assumed to be her shoulder, calling her sister's name.
"Sanny. Sanny, 'Buela said we gotta get up. Didn't you hear her?"
"Don't wanna. It's early. No," Santana grumbled into her pillow, curling even more tightly into a ball. When Adriana shook her again, she kicked out at her beneath the covers, hitting her foot.
"Hey!" Adriana cried, indignant. She slipped out of bed, hands on her hips, and stuck her lower lip out at her sister, pouting. "That was mean. Mami and Papi say you can't kick."
"Don't care," her sister growled, not emerging from the blankets.
Still pouting a little, Adriana started to dress herself, calling out again to her sister as she struggled to pull up her pants.
"'Buela is gonna be mad at you if you don't come. She said come and she's gonna be mad. Maybe you won't even get breakfast."
That got Santana's attention as none of her earlier tactics had. The little girl definitely loved her food, and she did not like the thought of being denied it, even if she did have to get up for it earlier than she was pleased about in order to avoid this. With a muffled growl, she shoved back the covers, revealing a rather tousled head of wavy black hair, and pushed her legs over the bed's edge, still glaring as she too started to dress. Pleased with herself, Adriana finished, and already in a forgiving mood, held her hand out for her sister to take.
"Come on. Maybe we get pancakes!"
To her disappointment, there were no pancakes at the table, only oatmeal and toast. Adriana ate it nonetheless, knowing how her abuela was not happy with little girls who didn't eat what was put before them. She was surprised when the woman didn't comment on Santana's grumpy expression, her messy hair, or how she poked at the oatmeal with her spoon instead of eating it. In fact, the woman was barely looking at them at all, and she didn't seem to be eating her own food either. No sooner had Adriana finished her last bite and Santana shoved her own bowl away did she clear her throat, jerking her head towards the living room.
"Go in there and sit down, girls. We have a matter to discuss this morning."
Adriana gave Santana a wide eyed glance, curious. Maybe she was going to get in trouble after all. Maybe she knew that they didn't wash their hands before eating. Or maybe she had a surprise for them and was going to do something fun. Hopeful of this last possibility, Adriana nearly skipped into the living room, sitting down on the loveseat and swinging her legs over the side of the couch. Santana followed more slowly, looking up at her abuela with a more wary expression.
Many possibilities had occurred to Adriana, but in none of them did she expect her abuela to clear her throat, look at them without any emotion visibly showing on her face, and tell them that their parents, on their way back home last night from their date together, had been in a car accident and died. Never would she have expected that she would never go home, never see her parents again, and that she and Santana would now live with and be taken care of by an abuela that neither particularly enjoyed spending time with.
Even twelve years later, Adriana remembered how Santana's small body had gone rigid beside hers, how her face had froze before dissolving into hysterical tears. She remembered how her own mind had been awash with confusion, how she had asked her abuela questions over and over that the woman had mostly not answered. She remembered hugging Santana to try to calm her down, but still being at a loss as to why her sister was so sad.
She wasn't sad, not then, not right away. It took longer than that first morning to really understand how everything had been changed. And once she realized just how much it had, Adriana didn't like it. Not one bit.
All she wanted was to have her mami and her papi come back and get her, because even though her abuela was her abuela and mami always told her abuela loved her, Adriana thought that her abuela did not like her at all. She just wanted to go back to her mami and her papi and do everything just like they were supposed to, but her abuela said that this was where she and Santana lived now and this was the way they did things, and that was that. Adriana didn't understand why though. It seemed very bad and very wrong to her, and even though she loved her abuela she did not love her like her mami or her papi, and she did not understand why they couldn't just come back already and she and Santana could stay in their own house.
"Your mother and father are with the Lord now," Abuela explained to her.
Adriana did not like how her abuela's voice was not soft and gentle like her mami's and how she did not smile very much like her papi. She always thought that her abuela was mad at her when she talked to her and she did not know why. She tried hard to be good for her, but it seemed to her like her abuela always thought she was bad anyway.
"Well why can't they go away from the Lord and come back with me and 'Tana?" she had asked, but her abuela had just shook her head at her, pursing her lips.
"That is what happens when you die, Adriana, if you know the Lord. You go to be with him forever. I intend to raise you and your sister both in such a way that you will also go to be with the Lord when your time comes."
"I don't wanna be with the Lord," Adriana had decided, sticking out her lower lip in a pout as she shook her head at her abuela. "I just wanna be with my mami and papi. I think it is very mean that the Lord will not let them come be with me and 'Tana. I think the Lord is very bad to take them away from us."
But instead of sympathizing or agreeing with her, Alma Lopez has gasped, her eyes bulging, and she had spoke very sharply to Adriana, the look on her face scaring the child so much she had shrank back from her, reaching out to grab hold of her sister for support.
"You do not EVER speak against the Lord in that manner, Adriana Isabel! God is not mean nor is He unfair or bad! Jesus Christ gave His life for you and you will not dishonor or disrespect Him by saying such things! Now come set out the napkins and silverware, and know that you are to eat everything on your plate. I will not have wastefulness in this home."
Her pout having slipped away with her confusion and her fear of her abuela's sudden shift in intensity, Adriana had slowly gone to do as she was told, still clutching onto her sister's arm for as long as Santana would allow it. She put all the silverware in the wrong places and was again corrected for this; she was corrected again as well for not putting her napkin in her lap, and for using her hand to push her food onto her spoon. By the time they were finished eating and are dismissed from the table, she was relieved just to be allowed to relax. Dinner with her mami and papi had been more fun. They had talked and teased her and Santana and told stories sometimes, and Adriana had liked her mami's food better.
She was actually happy when their abuela told them to go into their room to get their pajamas; it was time for their baths before bedtime. Adriana loved bath time. She loved to splash and play in the water, and she loved to make bubble beards and give her baby dolls shampoos. She grinned, glad that at least something would be fun and the same today, and eager to get started with this, ran ahead of Santana towards their bedroom- what had once been her abuela's guest room.
But she didn't notice the slight bump in the middle of the carpet in the hallway, and Adriana's shoe caught on it, causing her to fall hard on her hands and knees. More from surprise and a build-up of overwhelmed emotions from her day, Adriana's face puckered up, and she started to cry, looking back over her shoulder to see if her abuela would come to her.
Abuela did come, though not quickly. Frowning slightly at her, she shook her head, tsking. "This is why you do not run in the house, Adriana, you hurt yourself and damage objects when you fall. Are you injured?"
"Yessss my knee hurts," Adriana wailed, gratified that she was at last getting somewhat of the reaction she wanted from her abuela. Tearfully she pointed to her knees.
If this had been her mami, she would have picked her up and given her a hug, then kissed her knees so they felt all better. If it had been her papi, he would have lifted her up high in the air and tickled her and made her laugh so she forgot about her knees. But her abuela just looked at her knees matter-of-factly, then shook her head at Adriana.
"They are not injured, Adriana. It is certainly not worth crying over. Come, get up and have your bath with your sister."
Sniffling, Adriana looked up at her abuela with quivering lips, then, hopefully, but not very expectantly, half lifted her arms, wanting her to pick her up. But as she had almost expected, her abuela didn't move to lift her.
"Your knees are not injured, as I said, Adriana. You are perfectly capable of walking. It is time for your bath."
She walked ahead of her to the bathroom, seeming to expect that there was no option for Adriana but to follow, and after a few more moments of sniffling on the floor, Adriana got up and went after her. At least the bath would be fun.
But as it turned out, the bath wasn't either. Abuela was not pleased with any splashing or gleeful noises, she did not want Adriana to "waste" shampoo on her dolls, and in fact, she said that there was no reason to bring any dolls into the tub to make more of a mess. In abuela's house, bathing was an act designed to get oneself clean and nothing more, and this too was a disappointment to Adriana.
When she took the shampoo, intending to wash the girls' hair, Adriana had offered tentatively to her abuela, hoping that at least this much could be done, "Can you sing the hair washing song?"
Abuela had frowned, lifting one eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"The song Papi sings us," Adriana had explained, eager to show it off to her. "So we don't get soap in our eyes. It's really easy, Abuela. It just goes, "put your head back, close your eyes, if they're open you will cry. Shampoo and soap is for your hair, put your head back, and take care!" Just like that, abuela. You just sing that over and over. I can teach you. Can I teach you?"
But Abuela had just looked at her, sighing aloud.
"Really, Adriana, I do not think it is necessary to sing a song to remember to put your head back and close your eyes when your hair is washed. Certainly you should be able to remember that on your own by now."
Adriana didn't say anything, but she was so disappointed she felt like she wanted to cry, and it was not because she had soap in her eyes.
Maybe bed time would be better. Every night before she and Santana went to bed, her mami would read them a story. One night Adriana would get to pick it and the next night Santana would. It was Adriana's night to pick a story and she knew exactly which one she wanted to hear. Then if her Papi was home he would kiss them good night and her mami would too. Maybe abuela would know how to do that. But she didn't. She didn't kiss them and she didn't read them a story. She just put them in bed and then told them good night and turned out the light and shut the door, and she didn't even put a nightlight on.
Adriana didn't like that at all. She didn't like that there were scary shapes on the walls, and Santana was sleeping and wouldn't even stay up and talk with her like she wanted her to. She didn't like that she heard noises and didn't know what they were, and the more she thought about it, the more scary it all seemed. Finally she got up out of bed and tiptoed to the door, then, throwing it open with a burst of bravado, nearly ran down the hallway to her abuela's room. Opening the door, she tiptoed inside, seeing her abuela sitting up in bed, reading, glasses on her face.
Abuela looked up when Adriana entered, and she was frowning at her again.
"You are supposed to be in bed, Adriana. Do you need something?"
"It's scary in there," Adriana told her. She held onto the door, looking up at her abuela shyly. "I don't wanna sleep in there."
She didn't ask, but she hoped that her abuela would come to the conclusion that she wanted to sleep with her. A few times a week, with her mami and papi, she would get scared at night and come into their room, and they always let her sleep with them. Her mami would cuddle her and play with her hair, and her papi would rub her back until she fell asleep. Then in the morning when she woke up her mami was gone but her papi was still cuddling her, and Adriana always felt much, much better.
But her abuela did not do this. Instead she just frowned at Adriana some more.
"Well, that is your bedroom and your bed. You will have to sleep there. What is it that is scary? There's nothing in there to be scared of."
And Adriana couldn't explain it. She didn't have the words to describe how it felt to be awake while her sister was sleeping, in a strange bed in a strange room in a strange house, without her mami and papi to go to. She didn't know what to say, so she just blinked up at her abuela, biting her lip.
"Go back to bed, Adriana," she told her, and as much as she didn't want to, Adriana knew better than to disobey.
She almost ran back to her room, afraid with every leap forward that one of the shadows on the wall would reach out and grab hold of her. Jumping back into bed so hard it bounced and she jarred Santana a little, she hid herself under the covers, then curled as close to her sister as she could get, hoping that if one of the shadows came for her, it would have a hard time telling them apart or pulling her away. Her sister was sucking her thumb, seeming oblivious to the danger that Adriana felt they were in, and as Adriana closed her eyes, trying to relax, she wound her finger in Santana's hair, beginning to twirl it around her fingers in an unconscious attempt to self-soothe in a similar manner that her parents had soothed her before.
When their abuela came to wake them up in the morning, Adriana realized almost as quickly as she did that their sheets and her nightgown were wet. This was not an unusual occurrence; she usually wet the bed several nights a week, and her parents had always dealt with it as though it were to be expected, without getting mad at her. Normally they would wrap Adriana and Santana in separate sheets and blankets and simply change Adriana's out when she woke up along with her clothes, and if her father was sleeping alone with her, he would just take her to the bathroom when she came into their bedroom. But her abuela had not done this, and as she saw what had happened, she sighed in disapproval, shaking her head, even as Santana scrunched up her nose and fussed about her being "gross" beside her.
"Adriana, you are much too old for this to be happening. You must not be too lazy to get up and use the bathroom at night, this is very unsanitary."
Still shaking her head, she had stripped Adriana down still instructing her as to how to do better, and again, Adriana had been left with a resigned sadness and disappointment. It seemed very clear to her now that nothing would ever be the same. The only options she had were to try as hard as she could to do what her abuela said, and maybe she would finally make her happy, one day. Maybe, if she tried hard enough, her abuela would like her, even if she did not love her like her own mami and papi did. Maybe.