Chapter Title: To Make an End is to Make a Beginning
Pairing/Characters: Rachel/Santana, Rachel/OCs, Santana/OCs, Brittany, Puck
Rating: R for use of the 'C' word
Summary: Despite attending college in the same city, Santana and Rachel are definitely no longer dating.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Word Count: ~8,200
Spoilers: Not really, just the previous parts of this crazy series.
A/N: All information is from research on the interweb, so I can't say it's 100% accurate, but I did my best. Title is from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets
Despite attending college in the same city, Santana and Rachel are definitely no longer dating. Rachel is, of course, at Julliard, while Santana is at NYU. Each tries not to give the other girl any thought, but neither is very successful.
It's Rachel's idea to break up. Just as it was her idea to start dating in the first place. Though she supposes she shouldn't be surprised by the turn of event, Santana is.
They're lounging on Rachel's bed, the day after Finn's Fourth of July blow out that turned out to be more of a small explosion, if that, when Rachel springs it on her.
"As you know," Rachel begins. "You and I are set to finally leave this hell hole at the end of the summer."
"And even thought we will be in the same city, I think we should break up," Rachel finishes.
"I think we should break up," Rachel repeats, quietly.
"We're going to be in the same city," Santana points out.
"Santana," Rachel tries. Santana ignores her. "San, look at me. I love you. You're made these last two years amazing, but I think we need to move on."
"We're both going to be extremely busy-"
"I'm not," Santana interrupts.
"Really? A double major of psychology and physics? Andyou need to keep a GPA of at least 3.5? But you won't be busy?"
"Maybe," Santana grumbles.
"I just think it would be better this way. We can part as friends. However, if we go there expecting things, I just fear we won't be able to keep each other happy. I worry we'll end up hating each other. I don't want that. Do you?"
"Of course not."
"And nothing has to change right now," Rachel continues. "But once we leave Lima, we're done."
"Yeah, whatever." Santana stands.
"Are you really not okay with this?" Rachel asks.
"I need some time to think."
"All right. I'll see you later?"
Unshockingly, Santana ends up at Brittany's. She's fought the tears on the drive over and so instead of the good cry she probably needs, she's just melancholy.
"Hey, San," Brittany greets when Santana straggles in and slumps onto Brittany's bed. "What's up?"
"Seeebookpitpeee," Santana mumbles into the fabric.
Santana lifts her head. "She broke up with me."
"No, she didn't."
Santana nods. "She did, Britt. She said once we leave Lima, we're done."
Santana stares at Brittany. "My girlfriend broke up with me."
"Yeah," Brittany agrees. "But the end of summer is months away. And Rach said it's better this way. I agree. You guys will be way too busy."
Brittany nods. "Yeah. Rach mentioned it the other day."
"What? She told you before she told me?"
"She wanted me to be prepared when it came up."
Santana just stares at Brittany.
"What?" the blonde asks after an extended silence.
"I can't believe Rachel Berry is letting the practical drive her actions and not her emotions."
"She got that from you," Brittany says.
"Which would be fine if I didn't become more emotional from her," Santana replies.
"I really am sorry, San," Brittany says. "I know it hurts. But I agree with Rach. You two would have ended very badly."
"You don't think we might have just faded?"
"It's possible," Brittany allows. "But I think the odds are better that you'd explode like a volcano."
""You mean erupt?"
"Fine. Explode like a pipe bomb," Brittany continues. "Either way, it would have been bad."
"But maybe not."
"You've been saying for years that once we're done, you're out of here. There'll be no looking back. I think maybe Rachel wanted to give you that," Brittany explains. "Besides, you don't meet the love of your life in high school. Everyone knows that."
"Sometimes they do," Santana insists.
"In movies, maybe," Brittany replies. "When'd you become such a romantic?"
"Maybe it stings because in the back of your mind, you always thought it'd be you ending it, maybe?"
Santana scowls. "Maybe."
"Rachel loves you, San," Brittany says. "Just enjoy the rest of the summer together."
"Yeah…" Santana sighs. "Can I just be sad for a little while, Britt?"
Brittany nods. "We'll watch a sad movie and you can cry all you want, okay?"
Rachel, knowing Santana won't be back for a while, heads over to Puck's. She feels the need to cry, but know that would make driving difficult so she refrains until she's parked in front of the Puckerman house. She opens the front door and heads towards Noah's room. Entering his room, Rachel finds him playing a video game.
"Yo bro," Noah greets as Rachel flops onto his bed.
"Hey," Rachel mumbles.
Noah pauses his game and looks over at Rachel. "Told her, huh?"
Rachel nods, eyes full of tears.
"You want a hug?"
Rachel nods again.
Noah reaches over and pulls her into a bear hug. Rachel then flops back onto the bed and Noah picks up his controller and restarts his game.
"Don't second guess yourself," he says. "High school relationships don't last in college. Everyone knows that. Don't they make movies about it?"
"You'd think Lopez would be glad to get rid of you."
"Noah Puckerman, why would you say such a thing?"
Noah shrugs. "Trying to help. But if Lopez just thinks about it for a minute, she'll realize you're right."
"I usually am."
"You sound depressed about that," Noah comments.
"I'm depressed because I broke up with my girlfriend, Noah."
"It's only July," he replies. "You should have waited another month at least."
"And let her believe we'd keep dating in college?" Rachel questions. "That seems cruel. As soon as I was sure of the decision, I took care of it."
"You're being rather pragmatic about this," Noah comments.
"Yes, well, I find it helpful when your girlfriend is Santana Lopez."
"Well, once Lopez lets it sink it, she'll come around. And then you guys can spend the rest of the summer making out. And let me watch."
Rachel just smacks him in the arm in response.
"Puckerman," Santana replies, walking into his bedroom. She falls onto his bed and idly watches him kill things. Catching a whiff of Rachel's perfume, her eyes moisten.
"Rach was here, I take it?"
"Bro wanted to talk."
"To you? When'd you start doing the sensitive thing?"
"Same time you turned into a total girl, Lopez," Puck snarks.
"I've always been all female, Pucky," Santana snaps back. "You better know that."
"Yeah, you're a hot babe," Puck agrees. "But dating my bro has apparently turned you into a total chick. Wanna hold hands and talk about our feelings?"
"It's not going to work, Puck."
"Trying to piss me off enough that I'm not upset," Santana replies. "But thanks."
"Hey all this girl drama is good practice for college chicks, I figure," Puck replies. "I can totally be sensitive. They like that right?"
"How upset was she?"
"Plenty," Puck says. "She's just had more time to deal with it than you."
Puck pauses his game and tosses the controller onto the bed. "Look Lopez," he begins. "We all know Rach is right. In the long run, you two are doomed. You both want big things from life after Lima and you're totally willing to go after that. But then something's got to give. And it'd most likely be your relationship. Besides, if you guys did stay together, it'd either end so terribly that Britt and I would have months of clean up or one of you won't get as far as you hope and one will resent the other. Do you want that?"
"Of course not," Santana snaps. "I just can't handle how practical everyone's being about this. When I'm the most emotional one in the group, we're in real trouble. You know that, right?"
Puck snorts. "Trust me, you're still not. Rach is plenty broken up. She was here for hours watching me play and crying."
"Yeah. So cut her a break, okay?"
"Yeah. All right."
Puck grabs his controller and restarts his game. "You gonna lay there and cry too?"
"I think I got most of it out at Britt's," Santana replies. "But mind if I stick around a bit?"
Brittany stops by the Berry residence and enters without knocking. She finds Rachel curled up in bed, crying.
"Oh, Rachy," Brittany says, crawling into bed with her and curling around her.
"She's never going to forgive me, Britt," Rachel manages. "I was trying to be honest. I'm Rachel Berry. That's what I do. But that doesn't matter because she doesn't see it that way."
"She's getting there, Rach," Brittany replies. "She just needed to get over her initial shock. And talk to someone that's not you about it. And aren't you lucky, it's me?"
Rachel nods as she sniffles.
"When she left this morning, she seemed better. Honest."
"You think we're still together?"
"I don't know," Brittany replies. "I hope so. There's still like two months of summer left. It be a shame to waste them."
"You'd tell me if I was being stupid, right?" Rachel asks. "I mean, when I told you I didn't think a long distance relationship would work, you agreed with me."
"And I still do."
"She'll come around Rach," Brittany says. "You just have to give her time."
It's four days before Rachel sees Santana again. She spends most of her days at Noah's watching him playing video games. Though, they do end up doing a few of the bro activities Noah wants to do before they part company, like riding lawn mower racing and pyrotechnics. He also makes her borrow the catapult again so they can launch various disgusting items at McKinley.
"Noah," Rachel says. "We've graduated. We never have to come back here again if we don't want."
"Yeah. I know. It's awesome."
"So, why are we here again?"
"One last prank sort of moment, Rach," Noah replies. "Hand me that box there."
Rachel does so, wrinkling her nose. "Do I even want to know what's in here?"
She watches him set it on the catapult and launch it towards the front doors. It hits with a satisfying smoosh and judging from the smear, Rachel's pretty sure it's some sort of animal excrement.
It's disgusting and inappropriate and so Noah that Rachel finds herself tearing up a bit. She's been so focused on the break up issue, she'd almost forgotten that at the end of the summer, she'll be saying good bye to Noah too.
"What's that for?" Noah asks after Rachel gives him a long hug.
"I'm going to miss you, Noah," Rachel sniffles.
"Me too, Rachel. Me too."
Rachel's getting ready for bed when Santana shows up. There's a timid knock on her door before it slowly swings open and Santana sticks her head in.
"Hi," Rachel says.
"Come I come in?"
"Listen," Santana begins. "I've been thinking about it. And you're right."
Rachel nods. She sits on her bed and pats a spot next to her. Santana sits next to her.
"I mean, I know the odds are against us," Santana continues. "But I thought maybe the fact we'd be in the same city would work in our favor."
Rachel shrugs. "Maybe. But I think unless we're on the same campus, it will be too difficult. Those fifty blocks might as well be five hundred miles."
"Yeah." Santana leans her head on Rachel's shoulder. It's awkward. She's about to suggest a position switch when Rachel pushes her onto her back and cuddles up to her. Santana smiles.
"And we have the rest of the summer to do everything together we wanted to, right?"
Santana's smile gets wider. "Everything?"
"Oh, yeah, Lopez. Definitely everything. Or at the very least, as much as we can fit in as possible."
Despite it being her idea, Rachel really misses Santana. It's an actual physical pain. But she does her best to ignore it. High school romances rarely translate into the real world.
And there are so many distractions between school, shows and new people who actually see her talent, Rachel feels like she's stepped into a fantasy world.
She even finds a boyfriend. A sophomore named Dylan, who reminds her a lot of Jesse St. James, except he has pale blond hair and clear blue eyes.
Yeah, the arrogance is a bit tough to take at times, but they have fun together and they're so busy, that they don't have a great deal of time for each other.
They break up near the end of the year when she hears rumors of his indiscretions. It's no big loss. The only thing hurt is her pride. The fact that almost everyone knew he was fooling around behind her back makes her look like a fool, which she hates.
It's odd to think that Santana is still her most loyal partner.
Noah is going to a two year music program in Chicago. Rachel doesn't know if it'll help him with his life plan, but she is proud of Noah for getting out of Lima. And she knows how relieved he is as well.
They talk about once a week which surprises them both. The distance between them is great and they're both very busy, but somehow, they make the time.
And it isn't as if they talk for hours on end. Sometimes it's just a ten minute catch up of each other's week. Once in a while it is an hour long conversation, usually if either is feeling lonely and reluctant to admit it.
When she tells him about Dylan's infidelity, he offers to drive up and kick his ass, but Rachel declines. The offer is enough to fill her with a warm feeling of home.
He tells her about the girls he's seeing, this time it's more than just sex, even if it's just causal dating. In Rachel's mind, this is definite growth for Noah. Maybe they'll both be okay.
Sophomore year she has a friends with benefit relationship with her roommate, Kelly.
They're both very busy, so it really doesn't happen as often as expected, despite the fact that they live together.
They never really talk about it, it just happens one evening, but there's nothing stopping them from continuing. And even when Kelly starts dating someone, it doesn't stop, though it does lessen.
There really isn't time to be too serious about anyone. Even though her and Dylan dated for seven months, they were never serious. They were exclusive, but never serious. So when Kelly breaks it off with Laura four months later, Rachel offers sympathy and the two fall into bed together a bit more than usual for about a month.
Rachel is in no way surprised that she still talks to Brittany. The exuberant blonde cannot be ignored and they keep in touch through emails and texts and the occasional phone call.
Because Brittany is just as busy as Rachel, they don't talk nearly as much as she and Noah, but the texts and emails seem to be enough to supplement the monthly phone calls.
Rachel refrains, just barely, from asking about Santana. Though they're still friends on Facebook, so Rachel could keep a closer eye on her life if she really wants. However, she never does. She wanted a clean break and so she can't give in to her loneliness induced whims.
Brittany will occasionally throw in a tidbit or two about what Santana is up to, but Rachel never asks or comments. Brittany throws out the information as if she's talking about the weather, so Rachel will sometimes counter with information of what Noah is up to. Not because she thinks Brittany cares or can't find out on her own, but because she doesn't know how else to respond.
Junior year, she rooms with Kelly again. It makes perfect sense in both their minds. Besides the added physical benefits, they're extremely comfortable with each other. They know each other well enough to know what they're getting into, hopefully ensuring there'll be minimal conflicts.
Which is good because junior year proves to be even busier and Rachel doesn't have time to deal with unknowns.
Junior year is also when Rachel meets Rita. She's a senior who's actually shorter than Rachel. Yes, it's just an inch, but Rachel's almost giddy about actually being taller.
She reminds Rachel of Santana so much that the actual physical pain returns with a vengeance. A pain she hasn't felt since the beginning of freshman year. Rachel doesn't like it.
So one night, while drunk, Rachel pushes Rita into a corner and kisses her soundly. Thankfully, Rachel doesn't rebuff her and they start a brief, but torrid affair.
When it ends, it ends badly. It's an intense argument behind closed doors at a party that everyone overhears. So much intense passion is bound to be loud; though the host turning down the music and shushing everyone probably also helped.
It leaves Rachel with the reputation of being a heartless cunt. Because that's what Rita called her before stomping out.
Thoroughly embarrassed, Rachel is grateful that everyone pretends to return to their conversations and allow her to conspicuously tip toe out.
Oddly, it seems to make her more attractive.
"That kind of passion and intensity usually means a freak in the sheets," her fourth conquest, Lisa explains.
Rachel wonders what kind of vibe she's giving off since everyone seems to think that about her. She also wonders how she's become so promiscuous.
"College is for experimenting," Kelly tells her.
And it's not as if she has the time or want to properly date anyone. Her whirlwind schedule keeps her plenty occupied.
It's her last year and Rachel can't believe it. There's so much to do and even though she can't wait to be done and out there, she's still a bit apprehensive. There are dozens and dozens of talented people. She's graduating with a lot of them. How is she going to make herself stand out?
A voice in her head that sounds a bit like Santana tells her to be short. Maybe people will remember her for being a midget. She scoffs as if Santana actuallysaid it, before smiling sadly. Maybe they should have kept in touch. It was just too painful at the time.
In her mind, a clean break was still a good idea. Even though she still misses Santana, she doesn't want to be her friend. So she figures it's better this way. Pushing it out of her mind, she buckles down and concentrates on getting everything out of her last year possible.
Freshman year is chaotic for Santana. She hates to admit it, but Rachel was right. She's so busy she can barely meet her own standards, much less have time to worry about what other people need from her.
She falls back into her pre Rachel sexual habits. It scratches the itch. Plus she has plenty of options. But afterwards when the euphoria wears off, she finds herself missing Rachel. She only ever really cuddled with Brittany and Rachel, but they both seem to have corrupted her.
She'd be pissed about that, if she had the time to be. However, it simply makes her more choosey about her bed partners. And so while she doesn't have one night stands anymore, she also doesn't have any terribly serious relationships.
Sophomore year things seem easier even though she knows she's busier.
She hooks up with even less people; her interest in it has definitely waned. She blames Rachel for that. She joins more clubs and works on making her transcript look perfect. She wants to have her choice of law schools.
She's not sure what her future will be, but it's going to be awesome. Once she figures out what direction she wants to go, she's going to run at it full force. She refuses to ever be ordinary. She blames Rachel for that too.
She'll get random, sober calls from Puck. Which is weird. They mostly keep up their high school posturing with each other, but there are occasional moments of genuineness.
Unlike Brittany, Puck will bring up Rachel from time to time, though more in a reminiscence sense than an update of what she's doing.
Every time she hears the name, a jolt of something, she hesitates to call it pain, shoots through her. She ignores it and gets used to it.
Junior year, she has to start thinking about her LSATs and so she spends a lot of time studying. She's thankful to have a single; it helps; though her already short temper seems to grow even shorter. By the time she realizes this, it's too late to know if having her own room is to blame. Her mother says it's stress.
She meets Jen that third year. Jen reminds Santana of Quinn, so much so that she's tempted to ask if she was preggo in high school too. Because when Santana's drunk and hanging out with Jen, it's almost hard to tell the difference. Even if they look nothing alike. She supposes that's why she gets along with Jen, though.
It's confirmed when Jen drunkenly admits that Santana reminds her of someone she went to high school with too.
Jen also has a double major of Urban Design & Architecture Studies and Civil Engineering. She plans on being an architect.
When she tells Brittany about Jen during one of their phone calls, Brittany, naturally, thinks they should hook up.
"No way," Santana replies. "I'm done mixing friendship and sex."
"It worked okay for us," Brittany points out."
"Yeah, but you and are different-special. Right?"
"Duh. But I want you to be happy, San."
"I'm okay, Britt," Santana tells her. "I promise. Once I get into Columbia, then I'll be better."
"Really. I'm okay."
And she is for the most part. College is different than high school. And Santana wants things. Things that only hard work can get her. She knows later that her looks will again play an important role in how the world sees her. And she'll definitely excel at taking advantage of that particular route. But for now, studying is the best way to go.
Santana takes her LSATs in June and kicks ass. She's knows she needs a score in the high 150s at least, so when she reads that she earned a 171, she's ecstatic. She'd been aiming for 160 and praying for 165. A 171 combined with her 3.93 GPA should get her into Columbia.
She goes out with Jen to celebrate. They drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol and stumble into a taxi because they're not sure they can stay awake long enough to hear their stop on the subway.
Riding the high of her excellent LSAT score, Santana spends the first half of her senior year trying to improve her GPA and working on her application. There isn't a moment she isn't either studying or trying to get a letter or recommendation or working on her personal statement or checking to make sure the right information is sent to the proper place. It's exhausting and by winter break, Santana's glad it's almost over. She's applied to Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, DePaul and Northwestern. She know she's dreaming big, but she's confident that between her LSAT score, her GPA and her transcript in general, she'll be getting into at least one of them.
She spends the rest of the winter keeping her grades up and working on acquiring financial aid. It almost seems like a break after her first semester. She's just glad she didn't have to retake her LSATs.
She gets into DePaul and Georgetown first. The letters actually arrive on the same day. She breathes a sigh of relief, because even if they aren't her first choice, she at least has options. She's leaning towards Georgetown because she really doesn't want to return to the Midwest.
When the letter of acceptance to Columbia comes, she lets out a loud whoop of joy and almost exhausts herself dancing in celebration. Even after all this time, her first instinct is to call Rachel. It's fleeting and she pushes it away before picking up the phone to call Brittany.
She spends the summer working her ass off. She knows she should take the time to relax while she has it, but she's used to being crazy busy and doesn't see a reason to stop. Besides, she definitely needs the money. She knows she'll have even less time once school starts up again.
Her parents are helping some, but she'd really rather do it on her own. Or at least as much as possible. She knows they appreciate it as well and it's that summer that she feels real respect from her parents, as if they're truly seeing her for an adult. It's a confidence booster that pushes to work harder and be better.
Her first year is an experience. The sheer amount of information is a tad overwhelming. There's also no hand holding or coddling; not that she expected any, but from the first minute of the first class, that was veryevident.
She does just fine though. She worked extremely hard in undergrad and so that's an aspect she's easily able to slip back into. It's learning to think like a lawyer that requires a bit more effort.
There are plenty of times she feels overwhelms, but her pure tenacious want, is enough to help her push through it. And so she's able to finish her first year with above average scores and go into the summer feeling confident about her second year.
The second year is more intense. There's even more material to go over and it's coming much quicker. She's prepared for it, but every once in a while she's surprised by the amount of work she has. She spends a lot of time in the library.
She also tries to fit in as many extracurriculars as possible. It looks good and gives her experiences that will help her decide ultimately what direction she wants to head towards.
She also has interviews with several possible future employers. She's in the top five percent of her class. She knows she has to spend this coming summer gaining knowledge and experiences that will make her more marketable after graduation. She does her best to make every opportunity count.
Santana spends the summer interning with The New York County District Attorney's Office. They approached her, in fact. And she definitely couldn't turn down such an excellent opportunity.
The real world is harsh. For once Rachel is glad that her high school experiences were so demoralizing. It makes the constant rejection she's currently experiencing easier to handle.
She's not concerned. She knows she's talented. And that there are hundreds just like her running around the city. But she's tenacious and it only takes one opportunity for something amazing to happen.
She just has to find it.
She supports herself with temp work. Besides not wanting to be a complete cliché, Rachel knows she'd have trouble being patient and nice enough to earn proper tips. Even pretending it's an acting exercise probably won't help.
Office work is simple and relatively undemanding. And doing temp work allows her to accept and decline work as necessary, so she has plenty of opportunities to attend auditions.
About two months after graduation, a friend of a friend gets her a job doing voiceover work. It's nothing major, but it pays well and opens the door for more jobs. It's more pay for less time spent and gives her more time and money to keep taking classes.
After about nine months, she lands a supporting role in an off Broadway show. She's not sure what excites her more; all the buzz surrounding the show or that she's landed a supporting role in an off Broadway show. This could be the break she needs.
Rachel works diligently as do her fellow actors and their preview night goes off without a hitch.
However, the critics are not particularly nice. No one really seems to like the show and they say so in vivid detail. Seeing her name in print is definitely not a thrill when surrounded by so many negative adjectives. Because of the reviews, the ticket sales go severely downhill and so the show closes after thirteen performances.
Rachel doesn't let this set back get her down. She continues just as she did before, working even harder. She keeps going to her classes and doing the occasional voice over job.
Though she still lives with Kelly, they rarely see each other. Their schedules just don't match. Kelly has gotten into a small, but well known dance company and she's usually rehearsing when Rachel's home.
Still Rachel finds the familiarity comforting and thankfully, her living situation never gives her any stress. For that, she's grateful.
And then one day, nearly a year after her off Broadway flop, she gets a call back for an off, off Broadway show. But it seems that she's up for the lead, which appeals to her. Besides, the show itself really appeals to her. Though she'd love to have the lead, the show's amazing enough that just being involved would be a wonderful opportunity.
"I'm really not in the mood for a party," Rachel tells Kelly.
"Come on, Rach," she replies. "I know you think you blew that call back, but there's nothing you can do about it now."
"I'd still rather stay home and practice a little more. I'm sure that's why I did so poorly today. I've gotten sloppy."
"Rachel, you practice every day. I know. Remember? We live together. If you're not at a class or working, you're practicing. You probably did better than you think."
"Nonetheless, I'm not really in a festive mood-"
"You have to come," Kelly says. "You already said you would. And Ryan is counting on you."
"Yes, I'm sure if I don't show, it'll be easily notable in a crowd of dozens of people," Rachel comments, wryly.
"I'm not taking no for an answer, Rach," Kelly threatens.
Which is how ninety minutes later, Rachel finds herself in the apartment Ryan shares, sitting in the corner, nursing a Vodka Gimlet.
The party's not in full swing, but there are enough people that Rachel is able to hide in the crowd. She's just not in the mood to socialize with a bunch of law students. She knows quite a few of them, this not being the first party of Ryan's she's attended, but she's just not in the mood tonight.
For a fleeting moment, Rachel thinks she sees Santana. But she's thought that so many times over the years and it's never been true. It took over three years for Rachel to stop chasing after people to check.
Needing some air, Rachel heads out to the balcony. The crisp autumn air always seems to relax her.
She's so lost in her thoughts that she doesn't hear the door quietly slide open. It isn't until the other person speaks, that Rachel notices she's no longer alone.
Slightly startled, Rachel turns. "Santana. Hi."
"Fancy meeting you here."
"It was bound to happen eventually," Rachel replies. "This city is miniscule."
"Yeah, I guess it is." Santana shrugs. "Ah, not to be rude, but what are you doing here?"
"You mean besides the obvious?"
"It's just this party is mostly law students," Santana explains.
"My roommate's boyfriend is throwing it."
"So you got into law school?"
"Columbia," Santana confirms.
"Congratulations," Rachel replies. "I know that was your first choice."
"It was a good day when I found out," Santana nods. "Listen, Rach. I just wanted you to know… you were right. We never would have made it."
"We might of," Rachel says. "I don't know. I, uh, I just missed you."
"I realize this might be out of line," Rachel says. "But you want to get out of here? Go some place we can talk?"
Santana grins. "Definitely."
They debate, but decide not to fight it and simply link hands before going to find Ryan and Kelly.
Finding the couple in the kitchen refreshing their drinks, they bid them good night. Rachel tries to ignore the smirk on both Kelly's and Ryan's face. She knows it isn't because the couple are aware of the history she shares with Santana. They just assume it's a random hook up.
Two blocks down there's a little hole in the wall, late night diner and they duck inside. After ordering coffee and a splattering of breakfast food, they're left alone to talk.
"I, um, always knew we'd run into each other," Rachel begins. "I kind of thought it'd be sooner actually."
"Well I've been avoiding places that could allow that to happen. If that helps," Santana returns.
"I have as well," Rachel replies quietly.
"It, uh, was a bit too painful."
They lapse into another awkward silence. Rachel glances around. It's late enough that most people have already eaten dinner, but still early enough that the drunks aren't seeking out greasy soberness. The silence stretches on and lasts until the food arrives. The waitress looks at them both, but doesn't say anything, except to ask if they need anything else. When they say no, they're left alone again.
This time they have food to distract them. And the awkwardness lifts a bit.
"Gave up on being a vegan?" Santana asks, seeing Rachel's plate.
"It's a very difficult diet to maintain when one has limited funds," Rachel admits. "At first I found it extremely frustrating since there are exponentially more options than in Lima."
"Maybe after you win your first Tony," Santana replies.
They finish their food in silence. Their plates are taken away and their drinks refreshed.
"We're going to have sex tonight, right?" Rachel asks.
"Oh hell yeah."
"Maybe we should just skip this awkwardness and move onto the pleasurable activity."
Santana raises an eyebrow at this. "Yeah?"
"Why complicate this? Either we're getting back together or we're not," Rachel replies.
"That's true," Santana allows. "Wouldn't be easier to decide that now? With some conversation?"
"We could have that conversation here, in public," Rachel answers. "Or we can have it alone. Naked. What's your preference?"
Rachel nods. "Kelly was sure to remind me that she'll be staying at Ryan's. Just in case that information might push me towards hooking up."
"With you, it wouldn't matter if she and Ryan were there or not," Rachel replies. "We'd still be holing up in my room tonight."
"I'll get the check," Santana says, standing.
"I can pay my half Santana."
Santana shrugs. "Thought we might do this thing in the right order this time. A meal and thensex."
"What a novel idea."
Santana just smirks before chasing after their waitress.
It's a bit like riding a bike, Rachel thinks as she and Santana lay entangled in bed. You never really forget. Though it's been six years and numerous partners, the familiarity had been both comforting and intoxicating. Though they haven't spoken about it, Rachel knows Santana feels it as well.
"You've learned a few new tricks," Santana says, wryly.
"So have you," Rachel smirks. "Miss-I've-been-around-the-block-at-least-a-dozen- times."
This earns her a pinch to the stomach. "Hey."
"I really, really missed you."
"I gathered," Santana replies. "I missed you too."
This time the silence isn't awkward; it's familiar and relaxed.
"So now what?" Rachel asks.
"Again? It's like three in the morning. What have you been celibate?"
"I'm a third year law student," Santana replies. "I'm busy."
"Hey, I have two jobs, dozens of auditions and classes."
"Whatever. I'm like a sex shark. If I stop moving, I die."
Rachel groans. "Well, you're going to have to tread water, anyway. I need somerecovery time."
"Sorry. I, uh, just missed you."
Rachel just smiles.
"So how is it that we haven't run into each other before?" Rachel asks as they watch the sunrise. "I mean, I've been to lots of law student parties over the past year."
"Because Ryan goes to New York Law School and I go to Columbia. We met over the summer during an internship," Santana explains. "The law students you've been mingling with aren't the same ones I've been matriculating with."
"I suppose that's true."
"Besides I haven't been partying as much as I used to," Santana continues. "I only showed up last night because Ryan begged me to come."
"Kelly begged me as well," Rachel says. "She thinks I don't relax enough. Which is easy for her to say, she has a job."
"A pretty decent one, actually."
"Yes," Rachel agrees. "If I didn't like her so much, I'd hate her."
"You'll get your break, Rach," Santana replies. "You just need to persevere a while longer."
"Will you be there as I persevere?"
"Damn straight I will be."
Not that it was as simple as that. They still had a lot to talk about, figure out and catch up on. Not to mention how incredibly busy they both are.
However, in Rachel's mind, there's no stopping them. Years have passed, they've both grown and matured while their intense connection has stayed the same, so Rachel now believes they were meant to be.
They talk about it a little. They, in fact, put aside the catch up conversations to cover it. Rachel feels it's best to get that out of the way first; to make sure they're both on the same page. Because as she discovered during their extended break, Rachel doesn't want to just be friends.
Thankfully, Santana agrees. And just like that, they're back together.
"So," Kelly says that evening. "Tell me everything."
Rachel had been doing vocal exercises when Kelly burst in. Santana had reluctantly left about twenty minutes earlier to write a paper. But they'd spent all day Saturday and most of Sunday in bed together; it was time to face the real world again. Missing her already, Rachel reckoned singing would be the best distraction.
"There's not much to tell."
"Come on, Rach," Kelly replies. "I know you. You never initiate hook ups, but Ryan said that Santana doesn't either. So one of you had to make a move. Who was it?"
"Neither of us. Santana and I… have history."
"What? Was she some random night freshman year?" Kelly asks.
"No. She, um, she's my, was my high school girlfriend."
"I bet you were surprised to see her here in New York."
"I was surprised to see her," Rachel says. "But not here in New York. She did her undergrad at NYU and I know she had her heart set on Columbia."
"Wait a minutes. So you were both going to school in the same city and you broke up? What are you nuts?"
"We wouldn't have had time for each other. Besides, I think the time away from each other did us good."
Despite Rachel's belief in what she's saying, Kelly is giving her a strange look. Rachel's gotten used to that over the years, but this time she feels very much like a bug under a microscope.
"So what? You guys run into each other at a party and that's that?"
"And what? Now that you've had that one last night, or weekend, whatever, all these years later, you guys can finally move on?" Kelly asks.
"Why would we want to move on?"
"We're back together," Rachel says.
"Just as simple as that?"
"It's just as simple as that."
That statement was an exaggeration on Rachel's part. With the history between them and the recent distance, they butt heads a lot more than either remembers. The passion and fire is still there, but this time, it seems to cause arguments more than orgasms.
But they're both in it for the long haul. That had already been decided that first weekend. So whatever problems or issues come up, they're dealt with. Sometimes it takes days and days of quarrelling, but eventually they reach a happy medium.
"I'm starting to forget what you look like," Jen tells Santana one evening. "You're always with your girlfriend."
It's cheaper having a roommate, so when Jen had suggested they live together after NYU, Santana had jumped at the chance.
"I was barely around before, too," Santana protests.
"Yeah, but that's because you were working or at the library. Now you're really never here. You're always at Rachel's place."
"You're mad at me?"
"Course not. It's just we used to hang more. I kinda miss that."
"Awww, J, when'd you become a big marshmallow?
"Shut up Lopez. I'm beginning to change my mind about wanting to hang out."
"You like me, you really, really like me," Santana continues.
This earns a pillow to the face, which has to be retaliated. And then it becomes a full out war. The only reason it ends is that the buzzer goes off and Jen has to go answer the door.
A week and a day after running into Santana, Rachel receives a call she hadn't been expecting. Turns out, she didn't completely blow her call back, but instead managed to survive to be summoned to another call back.
This one goes better in her opinion. Of course since she thought the last one went terribly, she becomes paranoid that she did horribly this time around. Trying to push it out of her mind, she does her best to distract herself.
Rachel and Santana spend a lot of time together. Just like in high school, they spend a lot of their free time in each other's presence. Just having Santana around, doing her homework is enough to bring a smile to Rachel's face. It's nice because it means the romantic in her is still around and not crushed and beaten like Rachel had once believed.
Brittany notices the change two sentences in. She chuckles as quietly as she can.
"Of course I am. Last year of law school. Things are going well. Why wouldn't I be happy?"
"You'd be content," Brittany replies. "But happy? I'm not so sure." There's a pause where Santana can almost hear the cogs in Brittany's brain turning. "You're seeing someone."
Santana blushes, glad Britt can't see her over the phone. "Yeah."
"Uh, would you believe Rachel?"
"You met another girl named Rachel?" Brittany asks. "Wait a minute. Rachel? As in your ex and my friend, Rachel Berry?"
"Why the hell didn't you tell me right away?"
"Wanted to see where it went."
"When'd this happen?"
"Couple weeks ago," Santana answers.
"And you guys didn't tell me? I'm hurt."
"Sorry, B," Santana replies. "Still kinda new is all."
"I knew it!" Brittany squeals. "I knew you guys weren't done. Ha. Puck totally owes me fifty bucks."
"You guys bet on us? Isn't there a statue of limitations or something?"
"Yeah," Brittany says. "But it was us turning thirty-five."
"You two are unbelievable."
"So what's this I hear about you and Lopez?"
Rachel's just picked up her phone and is greeted with the question.
"Who told you?"
"Brittany," Noah answers. "Thanks. Now I owe her fifty."
"I should be annoyed that you bet against us," Rachel tells him.
"I was just playing the odds," Noah replies. "Odds you constantly quoted to me to justify your break up."
"And I still think it was a good idea."
"Yeah? Lopez even more of a tiger in the sack?"
"Very much so," Rachel says. "And I've learned a thing or two as well."
"I'm sure you have baby," Noah replies, saucily. "The rate you were going there for a while, I thought you were trying to break my record."
"I'd rather not," Rachel tells him. "Your conquests were rather questionable and I'm not in the mood for herpes."
Third year is more about practice than theory. Santana interns with The New York County District Attorney's Office again, knowing that it's where she wants to end up after graduation. Between that, and studying for the bar, she's extremely busy.
She's thankful that Rachel's just as busy. It makes things easier. And being able to study or in Rachel's case go over lines, together helps. They spend time together while still getting done what needs to get done.
She's loathe to say it, but Santana's not sure she would have survived without Rachel's support. Running into her, getting back together with her turned out better than she could have ever hoped. Thinking that makes her feel like a pathetic sap. The only thing that helps is that Rachel seems to feel the same way.
Rachel can't believe she's been cast as the lead. Yes, admittedly, it's an off, off Broadway show, but the lead role is the lead role. And this should get her more exposure, thus helping her move towards bigger and brighter things.
She dives into the rehearsal process with enthusiasm and exuberance. Her fellow actors seem to view her as a strange experiment they're being forced to endure. It doesn't garner her any friends.
However after a month, attitudes have changed. She's hard working, dedicated and talented. And seeing all this people slowly change alter their opinion of her. She can actually feel it happening, just in the way people observe her and interact with her.
It's refreshing for Rachel because she'd been so afraid this show was going to be high school all over again; and that saddened her because the show is starting to grow on her. She hopes it does well because Rachel can see herself performing this show for an extended period and thoroughly enjoying it.
Santana's looking forward to her last winter break. She's worked hard and wants a slight rest before the last hectic semester. She's looking forward to spending time with Rachel and actually being able to focus on her girlfriend.
Neither of them are able to go home for the holiday, but it's not surprising. It's not the first time and it probably won't be the last, thought Santana is shocked to learn Rachel hasn't been back to Lima once.
Santana has. She went back the first couple years. Mostly because others, like Brittany, were and she wanted to see them. She knows she could have visited or had Brittany visit her, but this just seemed easier. But after a couple years, it was more stress than help and so she stopped.
She hasn't regretted it yet. At least this time, she won't be alone over the holidays.
The show opens to rave reviews. Due to the scale of the show, it's not a lot, but it's enough that Rachel allows herself to be giddy and enjoy the experience. Unlike last time, all she could do is analyze the situation over and over until she gave herself a headache.
Kelly drags her and Santana out to celebrate, telling Rachel that it's a victory that needs to be celebrated. Rachel doesn't disagree, per say, but she also is a bit superstitious and doesn't want to jinx anything.
Santana spends a lot of time second semester studying. The bar exam is getting closer and closer. Also keeping her grades up can only help her chances of getting the job she wants after graduation. In between studying and her part time job clerking, she rarely sees Rachel.
They discuss moving in together, but agree that summer would be a more appropriate time.
When Rachel learns her show's run has been extended, she's ecstatic. She's really enjoying the whole experience and it seems people are really flocking to the show. She's starting to read reviews from people she never expected to see the show; high profile people that will definitely help propel her to stardom.
Santana graduates in the top three percent of her class. It's almost too good to be true. It appears all the hard work and dedication paid off. Now all she has to do is pass the bar.
Graduation happens just a few weeks after they learned that Rachel's run has been extended, so when they go out to celebrate Santana finally being done, they combine and celebrate Rachel's victory as well.
They drag out everyone they know, Kelly, Ryan, Jen, whoever; they drink way too much, dance and stumble home before falling into bed together.
Now that things have slowed a bit, they start the process of moving in together. They're both in it for the long haul, so it just makes sense. Santana has a bit more free time and they spend about two weeks looking at places.
Rachel's already talking about actually buying a place, but Santana knows they're not quite there yet. Still it's a nice thought.
She still has the bar exam in front of her, but Santana has no doubt she'll pass. For now, things are going in the direction she'd always hoped for and she's feeling confident about the future.