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Silver and Gold

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They celebrate New Year’s Eve by drinking hot apple cider spiced with rum and pouring enough silver bullets to get them through January’s wolf moon. Tina’s the best at it, hands steady no matter how the hot metal threatens to splash, but she can’t keep them stocked on her own, so Artie and Mike help out.

Brittany and Lauren and Quinn clean all the guns. Normally, they each keep their weapons in shape, but those three, they like doing it best, and this one night of the year, well, they get to do what they want. Even if what they want has changed a lot since they sang and danced and shed silver sparkles and gold stars across stages from Ohio to New York.

They’re ten years out of high school, five since the world changed and it became clear that everyone’s understanding of reality skewed wrong.

(Except maybe Brittany’s. She didn’t get it all right, but more than a little, and sometimes a lot. There are times when the only reason they’re all still alive, when other families have lost so much – when other families have lost everything and aren’t even around to be families anymore – is because Brittany tilts her head and looks at the world and tells them what they need to do.

If anyone asks why she knows so much, she’ll beam and thank Lord Tubbington for all his training. And considering how long that cat has been alive and how much he’s survived – after all the monsters came out of the dark, but before just as much – maybe he’s something special too.

Mostly, though, it’s Brittany.)

Right at midnight, Rachel goes around handing out kisses and gold stars. (Her collection is endless, and Lauren thinks the end of the world will be cockroaches, monsters starving to death without human blood, and little glittering bits of gold stars left behind.)

“What are you doing?” Santana snaps, but doesn’t turn down either kiss or star.

“What you do at midnight you’ll do the rest of the year.” Rachel beams. “I want this to be what I do, spreading love and support through my family.” She takes a deep breath, and her voice shakes a little as she continues. They may all be here now, but they’ve all had loss along the way. “My living, breathing, wonderfully alive family.”

Quinn’s hands still on the gun she’s cleaning and she looks down, jaw set. Lauren reaches out, rests her fingers on Quinn’s wrist for a moment, no longer, but that’s enough. They both get back to work. If Rachel’s right, if what they do at midnight is what they’ll do the rest of the year, Lauren can think of very little better than making sure her family has the means to stay alive.

Puck brings her hot chocolate and presses a kiss against the corner of her mouth. He’s filled out with age and the physical strain of hunting monsters. They’re all harder, stronger, tempered into fighters and survivors.

His breath is warm against her cheek, and as his teeth close on her earlobe, heat throbs low in her body. Okay, yeah, she totally can think of at least one other thing she’d like to be doing the rest of the year. His laugh rumbles in his throat and the side of his arm brushes against her breast, completely on purpose, she’s sure.

Keeping the others alive is, in a way, the means to end, because what is life without enjoying it?

She turns her head to kiss him, safe in the warmth of their family and their home.