The day Santana leaves is the worst.
Spoilers for 3.22 “Goodbye”
Companion piece to Four Months (4, 3, 2, 1).
The day Santana leaves is the worst.
She curls up in her room with Lord Tubbington and sinks her fingers into his fur, clutching tightly until he turns to look at her kind of like he’s annoyed and she lets go, suddenly self-conscious even though there’s no-one there to see. He purrs a little and snuggles closer and she knows he’s not really mad, so she pulls him into her lap and keeps him close, just in case he tries to leave too.
It takes her what feels like forever to re-orientate herself to a Santana-less existence, because even when Santana would go on vacations with her parents during the summers she always knew she’d come back, and so it wasn’t hard to miss her for two weeks because she was just waiting until she filled her days again. Now she doesn’t know what’s waiting for. She keeps expecting Santana to be there and she just isn’t, not when she wakes up, or when she gets out of the shower, or when she goes downstairs to get cereal and expects her to be sitting at the counter with a bowl and a spoon for her, half of it already eaten.
Santana isn’t there in English and she isn’t there in Math, and even though she sits next to Sam which is kind of like sitting next to Santana but with less hand holding under the desk, she misses her. She pays attention and goes to all her classes, and with the work she did at summer school she’s not that many credits short of graduating now, especially since she skipped out on the Cheerios this year, just in case she managed to get her credits done before the cut off in December and wasn’t around for the second half of the year.
She doesn’t tell Santana. Again. She doesn’t know why, just knows she can’t disappoint her again or get her hopes up, just in case she falls flat on her face and messes up her second go round too.
They Skype as much as they can, at all hours of the day depending on Santana’s shifts at the coffee shop, so sometimes Santana is blinking at her sleepily from behind her glasses in the mornings and sometimes she’s buzzed and wide awake after a late shift while Brittany needs to go to sleep. Santana tells her about how all the girls at the auditions she goes to are bitches, and how the subway freaks her out and she keeps getting lost, and Brittany listens to her and feels her breath catch in her throat because Santana may be a little fish in a big pond now but Brittany will always be the little fish in the little pond and that hurts just as much sometimes, especially without the big fish to hold you at night. Y’know, if fish could hug each other with their fins or whatever.
She pulls solid Bs in her English class even though she’s still not sure of the difference between a metaphor and a simile, and her teachers actually start smiling at her instead of looking through her like they did for so many years, even when Santana was there to glare at them. Sam gives her a hug every time they get an assignment back, and it’s not really the same as a hug from Santana but it’s an okay second place, and Artie starts calling her a smarty pants every time he sees her, which is nice even if she thinks he is mostly joking.
She shows her mom the stack of papers and watches her smile like she’s so proud of her that she might burst from it, and she doesn’t even care that it’s kind of silly when her mom puts her sheet of quadratic equations next to her little sister’s times table quizzes on the fridge, both of them with matching Bs in the corner in red pen.
Santana gets her first part in the chorus, and even though it’s this tiny show and she doesn’t have any solo parts, she listens to the whole thing over Rachel’s phone, sitting cross legged on her bed and ignoring her sister hammering on her door, and thinks she can pick out Santana’s voice even though the chorus is all supposed to blend together. She can always pick out Santana’s voice, because she’s been training to do it her whole life, and she thinks how stupid it is that she’s expected just to blend in with everyone else when she should be out front and centre, stealing all the applause. She sends her a text message before she falls asleep that says how good she was, and squints at her screen, thinking that maybe her phone is broken because she doesn’t even get a reply when she wakes up.
She has a big Physics test that she and Tina and Artie study for together in every spare minute they have, and it feels like her brain is a sponge, soaking in all the information but then getting too full of it so that bits of things she’s supposed to remember just fall out. She forgets to pick her sister up from her gymnastics class, and she forgets to lend Sam her copy of the book they’re reading for English, but she can remember how to work out how fast something is going if she has the distance it’s travelled and the time it takes, and she wonders if she could walk to New York if given enough time, and how long it would take until she was in Santana’s arms again once she got there. She’s so busy trying to work it out that she forgets to talk to Santana even though she’s staring at her on the screen, and it takes her a while to realise she’s crying quietly, and then she wonders how long it would take her to get to New York if she ran instead.
She almost gets caught up in preparing for Sectionals and forgets to complete her assignments, the same way she had the year before, but she catches herself and makes sure she studies, because she only has two more English tests and a Maths test to take and she’s done all she can before she gets her results back and finds out if she has all the credits she needs.
She feels the same way she does when she’s dancing and her feet have just left the ground, that little moment of doubt between whether she’ll fall or the ground will be there to catch her, and even though she isn’t quite done with her tests she feels the ground rushing up to meet her, and wonders if the fall will hurt the same way it did at the end of the year before, even though she’d known that one had been coming.
She misses Santana at Sectionals, and even though Tina holds her hand while they wait on stage for the results, it’s not the same as Santana trembling next to her, and the hugs she gets don’t feel the same either, even when Artie says how it was her choreography that won it for them, and Sam picks her up and spins her around until she’s laughing, just sort of on the outside, without ever really feeling it in her lungs the way Santana always made her.
It gets cold, and even though she wears Santana’s old Cheerios jacket—the one thing Coach had let them keep—she still feels like her bones are freezing inside her and her limbs don’t quite work, because it isn’t the same without Santana’s arm tucked through hers and rubbing against her wrist, fingers searching for hers as they went from History to English to Math and back again.
Santana talks about Rachel and the coffee shop and Brittany sees the sadness hiding behind the lenses in her glasses, even though she’s trying to hide it which she’s never been good at even when there’s miles between them and they’re looking at each other through computer screens, grainy and jumping every now and then. She tells Santana about Sectionals, but doesn’t mention how it wasn’t the same, and Santana asks her something about Regionals that Brittany is about to answer before she remembers that she doesn’t know if she’ll be there for Regionals, and then she gets quiet and just stares at Santana instead, watching her yawn and rub at her eyes behind her glasses and wishing she could cuddle her until she falls asleep.
Nothing’s the same without Santana, but it’s not long until winter break and Santana promised her she’d come home, and she has a chart on the wall counting up the days until she gets to see her again, because she promised herself she’d kiss her once for every day they missed and she needs to keep some sort of accurate record otherwise what was the point of making the promise in the first place?
Santana isn’t coming home for the holidays. She cries when she tells her, and Brittany feels the sobs crawling their way up her throat too as she tries to swallow them back down. Santana tells her how she has lines to go along with her chorus role this time, and Brittany nods because lines are important, especially the ones you cross without knowing, like how Santana doesn’t call her at all for three days and how she hangs up on Sam and hasn’t even spoken to Quinn, even though Brittany called her to ask.
There’s a line in the sand as thin as a piece of paper between them, and she takes her last Math test without telling anyone, just heads to the choir room afterwards and sings Christmas carols with them, and nods along mutely when they wish her a happy holidays and say they’ll see her in January. Sam fixes her with a look and hugs her for longer than he should, and Brittany thinks she hears him mumble something into her hair about how he promised Santana he’d take care of her, but that Santana never told him how to take care of her if she was the one hurting her, and Brittany shakes her head and runs her fingers through his hair the way Santana used to until he smiles, because none of this was ever his fault or his mess to fix.
Ms Pillsbury calls when she’s been at home for a week, and Brittany takes a deep breath before she comes to the phone, trying to ignore the way her mom hovers in the doorway and looks at her anxiously, waiting to hear if she’s screwed everything up again.
She doesn’t hear anything after you passed because she hangs up the phone mid-sentence and dials Santana’s cell with shaking fingers, and she’s breathing so hard by the time she hears a voice on the end of the line that it takes her a minute to realise it isn’t Santana. Rachel tells her that Santana left her phone at her place the night before but that she’s on her way to take it back to her before she leaves to come home to Lima and asks if she can pass on a message, but Brittany shakes her head and then adds a no when she realises Rachel can’t see her.
She calls her back and asks her for Santana’s address ten minutes later, ignoring the way her mom looks at her, and wondering how close her savings will get her to New York and Santana, to hugs and kisses and all the things she’s missed more than she knows until this moment, wondering if there’s some equation for expressing the way her heart feels like it’s only half there when Santana isn’t. Like Brittany - Santana = distance(heart/2) but she never learnt the kind of math that would let her work that out, so.
Rachel gives her instructions for the subway and tells her which stop to get off at, and she wonders if going to find Santana at the coffee shop would be too much of a cliche or not, like some kind of lame romantic comedy that Santana always hated, ever since they were young and Brittany had secretly wished that their lives would work out the way they did in the movies.
She hopes she has the right apartment, and she checks the address Rachel gave her three times and she’s pretty sure she’s on the right street, so she sits down on the steps to wait after she presses the buzzer and no-one answers, blowing on her hands and tucking them into her pockets as the night gets colder around her.
She sees Santana almost fall out of the cab before Santana notices her, hears her grunt a happy holidays at the cab driver as she slams the door, and it’s almost too good to be true, that she’s real and Brittany could reach out and touch her if she wanted to without hitting the computer screen first.
“Hi,” she says and watches Santana’s jaw drop as she blinks at her in confusion, almost like she doesn’t even recognise her which is ridiculous because she’s her Brittany and she always will be, even if they lived their whole lives in separate states and never saw each other face to face again.
“New York is kind of scary at night,” she says, and then Santana’s hands are reaching for the ends of her scarf and using it to pull her towards her, until their lips meet and her brain shuts down, because there’s no use trying to figure out the equation anymore because she thinks her heart just snapped back together with its other half, and there’s no way math can get any better than that.
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