Make a Map and There You AreFandom:
Femmeslashy stuff. Introspective, slightly angsty.Notes:
Beta'd by fallon_ash
. Kind of my way of processing. Title from "Lullaby" by Sia. Spoilers past Duets.Summary:
On graduation day, Santana really only has one regret.
On graduation day, Santana finds herself standing with the Cheerios who are graduating with her. Quinn is there, but Brittany isn't.
She tries to shrug off this fact. The sun is shining. Everyone is laughing around her. She finds each smile harder than the next, each laugh more forced, but she still manages to do both the whole time.
They'd drifted apart since Brittany started dating Artie, and Santana had stuck to Puck, even though she often found herself yawning in his company. Graduation, when it came, just highlighted that he was going nowhere. It was easier to want him, uncomplicated, but it never stopped feeling just a bit empty under the surface, something Santana could ignore. Something she'd always ignored. Cheerleaders were meant to have tough skins. It was just the way things were. Which is why she had trouble forgiving Quinn for acting so weak when she'd gotten herself knocked up. Shoving things aside, not letting herself feel anything so that she could walk down the hall with her head up, even when the other girls called her a slut or commented on her boob job, that was the only option Santana saw as viable.
Most of the girls who said things about her during high school are standing around her now, and she surveys their faces, apathetic to the prospect of never seeing them again. She doesn't hate them enough to want them gone. She doesn't even care that much.
That day, that last real day with Brittany, they'd been coming off from practice when Meghan Hamilton had passed them, saying, “dykes” just loud enough for Santana and Brittany to hear. Brittany had put a hand on Santana's arm, but Santana was on her feet and had the girl shoved against a locker before anyone around them could stop her.
“You want to say that again?” she asked, twisting Meghan's arm behind her back.
“Oh, come off it.” Even with her face pressed against the lockers, she was smirking. “It's not like I said anything that wasn't true.”
“It's not true,” Santana told her, twisting the arm farther. “So take it back.”
Meghan winced, but she refused to say anything, so Santana shoved her against the locker again and walked away, charging through the locker room doors.
She'd found herself in the auditorium, and she'd sat at the front of the stage so that her legs were dangling off the edge. She'd have smoked then, if she hadn't seen it kill her aunt, but she had, and so she just stared out into the darkness instead.
It seemed like forever had passed before Brittany found her. “I thought you might have gone home.” She sat down beside Santana, handing her her cheer jacket. “You left this.”
Santana grabbed it and let it sit in her lap. They sat in silence for a while, then Brittany had said, “I know I'm not smart.” They didn't turn to look at each other. “But I know you don't care about me like that.”
“Thanks for stating the obvious,” Santana had told her, getting to her feet. She stopped. “I'm not going to stop hanging around with you because people think things about it.”
Brittany looked up at her with those blue eyes. They usually looked so trusting and innocent, but for once they had looked sober. “I don't want to anymore.”
“Don't want to what?” She held out a hand to Brittany. “Come on, let's go do something.”
Brittany didn't reach for her hand. She shook her head. “I don't want to pretend anymore.”
“What do you have to pretend about?” Santana heard herself sneer the words. “It's not like I ever pretended anything. If you decided things were different, that's your fault.” She crossed her arms over her chest, but she doesn't make a move to leave.
“It's not wrong to want things.” Brittany stared down at her hands in her lap. That was all she said.
Santana left then to go find Puck. She had been sure they'd make up later, when Brit was less hurt. The sex with Puck was what sex always is, but it had left her with this feeling that she couldn't shake off. The kind of feeling she gets standing outside in autumn, when it's just getting cold, and she's wearing her uniform out in the weather anyways. Something about the way her mind detaches from the icy feel of the wind against her legs, but she knows it's at the edges of her mind, keeping her from thinking about anything but trying to get to some place where it stops.
Usually that's when she walks in the door of the high school and the first burst of warmer air hits her. Now at the graduation the weather is better, but she has that shivering feeling, like the wind is too cold. “It's not like anyone expected her to graduate.” The words snap Santana back into the present. “I mean, I know I'm not the only one who wonders how long it will take a manager to teach her how to say, 'Do you want fries with that?'”
Rushing her is like instinct, and though a few girls try to stop her, she manages to get Meghan on the ground, pinning her down with the weight of her body while she hits her, listening to the satisfying smacking sounds as her fist collides with the other girl's face.
It's Quinn who finally manages to pull Santana off Meghan, using all of her weight to pull Santana back while the other girls drag Meghan out from under her. “Stop getting in my way, Fabray,” Santana tells her, kicking to try to get back to her feet.
“This isn't the time,” Quinn hisses in her ear. “She isn't worth it. Not today.”
There's blood streaming down Meghan's face. “I bet she was the man,” Meghan says to Lindsey Collins.
“Come back here, baby, and I'll show you just how much of a man I can be,” Santana shouts, spitting in Meghan's general direction.
“Dyke,” the other girl spits back, letting her friends lead her away while she continues covering her nose.
Santana sits with Quinn in the grass. Eventually a few of the other glee kids come over. Rachel just gives Santana this look like she pities her. Finn looks like he might think she got what was coming to her.
It's Mercedes who offers her a hand to get up. Santana shoves it out of the way, yanks herself away from Quinn, and gets to her feet on her own. “When are you going to see for yourself how much you act like someone who's hurting?” Mercedes asks her.
“I don't need your opinion,” Santana says.
Later that day she'll be drinking beers with Puck. “I'll take my GED later,” he'll tell her. “Screw that graduation shit. I don't need a diploma.”
The bottle is cold in her hands. “That's because you're a loser.”
“And what are you going to do with yourself?” he asks her. “I don't see you applying to colleges.”
Santana takes a long swallow. “I might. Just not now.”
“When?” Puck asks. “When you're thirty and everyone there will think you're some loser mom?”
“Screw you,” she tells him. The truth is she couldn't imagine leaving without Brittany. It makes her feel like only half of something. The part she can't figure out is what that something was supposed to be.
“Whatever,” Puck says, hefting himself from the ground to go get more beers. Sometimes she wishes she were brave enough to hear some speech about people needing people or whatever those old movies used to say, and she'd get up and walk to Brittany's house. Artie wouldn't be there, or if he was, he'd know instantly by the look on their faces that he'd lost.
Puck returns with the beers, and Santana shakes those thoughts away. Her eyes sting. She's not that sentimental. The truth is that walking to Brittany's would cut her like a scalpel, and she'd rather stay closed. It's more solid. Like nothing can touch her.
Looking at the stars and drinking beer with Puck in his backyard, she's going through the motions, but that's the kind of risk she's willing to take. It's like choosing the horse that won't win, so that she can say she just wanted to be at the racetrack. So that when the other horses cross the line first, she can toss the whole experience in the garbage can.
Dreaming can be for everyone else. She'll be the one strong enough to keep herself standing.
She looks up at the moon, and for the life of her, she can't make it stop looking like cheese. Santana laughs so hard her whole diaphragm hurts. She remembers a night with Brittany, laying together on the swing in Brittany's porch, looking at the stars together. There was nowhere to be, and nothing felt important enough to worry about. “Did you make a wish?” Brittany had asked her, turning her head to look over at Santana.
She'd found herself smiling, despite herself. “I don't know what to wish for.”
“Everyone has something,” Brittany had told her. She'd looked back up at the sky. “Maybe you could wish for a puppy.”
“Why would I want a puppy?”
“Everybody needs a puppy,” Brittany said. “They have cute, wet, little noses.”
Santana had leaned up on her elbow. “So did you wish for a puppy, Brit?”
Brittany shook her head. “There's something else I want.” Kissing her then had felt simple, like if it had repercussions later, they wouldn't last long. The two of them didn't know how to fight. Not really.
“You okay?” Puck asks her. “You're acting kind of strange.”
“Yeah,” she says. “Why wouldn't I be okay?” She gestures to the backyard with her bottle. “I've got the whole freaking world waiting for me.” There are a few crickets chirping in the grass, a few cars driving by occasionally that she can hear, but the silence is what she hears, loud, like a freight train.