A/N: Language warning for offensive terminology. It is only being used as a tool to enhance the scene, and I do not mean to condone the use of any words that offend or attack a specific group of people or culture.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.


Cheerleading Nationals leave you feeling over the moon.

You've never felt this important before. It's amazing how one competition can make you feel like the most accomplished teenage girl in the world, but somehow it does and it's just…just wow. The bus ride back to McKinley is rowdy and even Coach Sylvester doesn't try to keep order. She lets the madness happen, and you think you even spot her dancing with some of the seniors at the front of the bus.

The disappointment you had felt when your parents had told you they couldn't make it has ebbed away with the happiness of such an awesome day, so when you, Brittany, and Quinn are snuggled up together on Quinn's bed with Bring it On! playing on the TV, you feel nothing but contentment.

"Do you think Finn will ever ask me out?" Quinn asks you. Brittany shrugs and mumbles something incoherent through her mouthful of popcorn.

"Say it, don't spray it, B," you tease her with a fake grimace. She rolls her eyes and chews exaggeratedly, disgustingly, and loudly in your face. You squeal as bits of popcorn spray from her mouth and land on your cheek. Quinn laughs at your antics, but her eyes remain serious and you've known her for long enough to know that when Quinn wants to talk about herself it's better to stay on that topic for as long as humanly possible.

"I was saying that Finn is a boy, and boys are stupid," she says after swallowing her food. "But Finn's, like, kind of a bit slower than the other guys so I think you'd better ask him out, Quinn." You nod along with what she says. It's true. You didn't dub him Finncapable for nothing.

"But the boy is supposed to ask the girl out!" Quinn whines, and you roll your eyes so enthusiastically you're surprised they didn't just fall right out of their sockets.

"Okay there, sixteenth century Barbie, let me tell you a little story," you say, "It's called feminism. See a few decades back a bunch of armpit hair-growing, moustache –sporting women decided that men were idiots and were ruining the great land some people call America. Now, these apparent ladies fought long and hard for equality and to state that yes, women can do anything men can do and you know what, we can probably do it better because we aren't driven by testosterone that tells us to punch literally every other opposing male."

Quinn tries to interject but you raise a hand and cut her off. "Moving forward a bit to you. You, Quinn Fabray, are a young lady of the twenty-first century. This means your daddy can't marry you off at age sixteen, you won't be forced to have babies at age seventeen, and god above knows that you are just as capable of asking Finnocence out on a date as he is capable of eating twelve sloppy joes in one sitting." Brittany nods along with you, her face mocking the serious tone you're using. "However, as your best friend, and as someone who really thinks Finn is the last remaining descendant of the Neanderthals, I can't find a single reason as to why you would ever want to ask him out. But, I support you and reserve the right to say 'I told you so' when he fucks your life up endlessly." You finish your speech with a flourish of your hand and lean back against the couch. Quinn is staring at you with a look of disbelief on her face. Brittany is grinning at you like you're the best person in the world. You raise a challenging eyebrow at Quinn, hoping she has something to say back to you, but you must have silenced her because she just frowns and returns her attention to the movie.

Later that night when you and Brittany are lying on the spare mattress at the foot of Quinn's bed (Quinn hates sharing sleeping space – plus, she kicks and Brittany kisses, it's a no-brainer), Britt turns to you and whispers, her lips brushing yours as she speaks, mint breath washing over your face.

"Santana?" You nod and press a gentle kiss to her lips, a quiet kiss even though no one could have heard it through Quinn's snoring. "Why did you say feminists all look like Rachel Berry?" Her eyes tease you and you only stop laughing when Quinn wakes up and throws a pillow at you. When you're sure Quinn has gone back to sleep by the tell-tale sound of her snores, you scoot closer to Brittany and press a soft kiss to her lips, hand on her cheek. She takes a deep breath through her nose. You tangle your legs together and pull away from her lips. She smiles at you and you smile back. It's small and quiet and almost everything you know tells you it's wrong, but the one thing you know best is telling your right now that it's right, because she leans back in and captures you with her lips.

(Like a lobster in a trap.)

(No way out.)

During the next weeks, you find yourself spending more time with Quinn than you had ever hoped to have to. Brittany is busier with dance than she's ever been – she was asked to choreograph their spring recital piece, and she's taking it as seriously as she would if she were getting paid. Quinn isn't easy to like, but she's easy to want to like. She commands everyone around her with such easy authority, even you. It feels kind of nice to just be told what to do, to not have to worry about if other people will think you're stupid for doing something. Quinn knows what's dumb and what isn't, and okay, maybe you don't exactly trust the bitch, but you have no issues with just letting her tell you what to do.

"Ignore him, Santana, I heard he gave Leanne chlamydia."

"Stop slouching, Santana, do you want people to think you're a slob?"

"Oh, no, don't eat that, you already some carbs on that plate, I'd hate for people to think you're going to get fat."

Normally you would not be down to be told what to do like a stupid little kid, but this means you don't have to do any thinking. And you've been thinking too much, recently.

With April comes the spring recital, and you put on a nice outfit and stop by the flower store and buy a red rose. The Pierces pick you up at six from your abuela's and you entertain Riley and Lily by singing along with the radio loudly. Audrey ignores the party going on in the back of the van and buries her nose in her book, while Mr and Mrs P chat in the front. They tell you that Britt's been at the performance hall all day, and you feel bad that you haven't been able to properly see her recently.

Mr P lets you all out at the door to avoid too much exposure to the April shower that decided to fall. You carry Lily on your hip because she's irrationally scared of puddles. Your hair isn't too damaged by the rain, you spent way too long trying to straighten out the weird kinks that you think you'd probably scream at the sky if it starts puffing out or trying to revert to its natural kinky state.

You stand in the lobby until the lights flash, the signal that it's time for you to go get seated. Your seats are perfect. Close enough to the stage that the dancers don't look like ants, and far enough away that you can see the entire stage. The first few pieces are the little kids, and you spend most of the time re-reading the little bio beside Brittany's picture in the programme.

Brittany 'Fierce' Pierce

Thanks to my family and friends to always being supportive! Thanks to Lord Tubbington for letting me run all my crazy ideas by him, and thanks to my best friend for always believing in me – especially when I didn't. Kisses, B.

It's not until Lily is starting to drift off and Riley is fidgeting madly that Brittany walks on stage. Like all the other choreographers before her she has to give a little speech about her piece. She walks onto the stage with a robe over her outfit (Britt hates spoilers) and she taps the microphone shyly before speaking.

"Um, hi everyone," she says, "my name is Brittany S Pierce and I'm a freshman at McKinley High. So, my piece is kind of different than what I normally like to do. I really like hip-hop and stuff like that, but uh…I thought I'd make myself expand my horizons. This piece is built around the music, I found some old records in my dad's closet while I was playing hide-and-seek and I fell in love with this song. So, thanks dad, for teaching me how to use a record player, and for not yelling at me when I let Lord Tubbington DJ with them. I didn't know he would scratch it so badly." Everyone chuckles at this and Brittany blushes. You smile because she's standing there in a bathrobe and god can she get anymore perfect?

(You check yourself and wipe the idiotic smile off your face before anyone notices.)

(You know Mr P has his video camera with him and hell no do you want to be caught smiling like a goob.)

Brittany walks backstage and there's a bit of rustling and then the lights dim. Curtains open and the back of the stage is lit up orange and yellow, the dancers look like silhouettes. The opening piano plays, and from beside you, Mrs P sighs as se recognizes the tune. You don't tear your eyes from the stage.

Brittany has written a poem with bodies as words, and routines as stanzas.

You've never been moved to tears by a dance performance until now. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the immaculate movements of the dancers, but something stirred inside you and it's created this gigantic hole in your walls.

(Something tells you that hole is always there when Brittany's involved.)

(You just patch it up again with tissue paper.)

After the performance ends you burst out into cheers and clapping, rising to your feet. Mr P yells, "Bravo!" in a booming voice, and Mrs P is wiping her eyes and looking prouder than you've ever seen her. The lights on stage go out and the curtain closes, then the house lights come up and everyone makes that mad rush to the lobby to wait for their dancer. You ask Mr P for the car keys and rush back out to the van and grab that rose. The rain isn't as torrential as it was, but it still ruins your hair and probably your makeup but there's something inside you that stops you from caring about that.

When you get back inside, Britt still isn't out yet, and you rock anxiously on the balls of your feet, twirling the rose gently between your fingers. Suddenly you start panicking that maybe a rose was the wrong flower to buy, that Britt might get the wrong idea, that Mr and Mrs P might think too far into it. Roses were usually associated with romantic gestures, and this isn't supposed to be romantic, it's platonic because you aren't in love with Brittany. But then she comes into the lobby, her sweaty hair pulled up into a messy bun that flops on the top of her head, her eyes doing that thing where they shine like the stars, her sweatpants hanging low on her hips so that a sliver of pale skin is exposed between the waistband and the bottom of her loos tank top that she has on under (what you're secretly pleased to recognise as) your sweater with the zipper open.

She's radiant.

She bounds over and receives hugs from her parents and siblings, everyone gushing over how amazing her piece was, how beautiful it was, how it moved them. You stand back until she turns to you and you smile, dimples and all, and offer her the rose. She takes it with a smile you'd almost classify as bashful and then pulls you in for a hug. Her arms around you feel like home and you can smell her sweaty skin underneath the body spray you know she applied with abandon. She squeezes you to her body tightly and your arms find their pace on her waist, and she mumbles a thank you into your neck. Her lips on your skin send shivers down your spine and you have to pull away sooner than you'd like because this girl is too much for you to handle and god knows what would happen if someone figured it all out.

Mr and Mrs P take you all out for pizza and Brittany's post-performance energy starts to wear off halfway through her third slice of pepperoni and olive pizza. She leans her head on your shoulder and you hope that the blush you feel on your cheeks isn't visible. She nuzzles into your neck and her warm breath hits your skin and sends ridiculous shivers through your body. You contain the smile that creeps onto your lips and try to chew stoically and when Mrs P gives you a look that makes you feel naked and exposed and raw, you look away and check your nails.

(Short, blunt, red, always under strict supervision from Sue Sylvester.)

(There's a chip on your thumb and it distracts you briefly from Brittany's hand on your leg.)

The Pierces drop you off at your abuela's house and you wave from the front porch before going inside. You walk into the kitchen and see your father sitting at the table with his other staring at him with the glare that you know now you inherited from her. He stands up when you enter and smiles tightly.

"Hola, mija," he says, and his arms twitch like he wants to open them for a hug. "Cómo estás?" You look at him. He meets your eyes and you see the hardness of his gaze clearly and it stings you that your own father feels that he can't even hug you or show any sort of emotion towards you.

"Bien," you answer. "¿Por qué estás aquí?"

He sits back down and gestures to the seat across from him. You look down at the shoes you haven't removed yet and wonder why your abuela hasn't yelled at you for tracking mud in the house yet. Treading carefully and lightly, you make your way over to the chair and sit.

"There have been some major developments in the past few months," he begins, like he's giving a fucking seminar or pitching a business idea. "I have been offered the opportunity to work as a neuroscience researcher at a el Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques in Spain." Different scenarios rush through your head. Is he going to take you with him and away from Lima? Is he taking your mother? Are you going to live with your abuela for years to come?

"I'm moving there in three weeks."

The next week of school passes in a haze. Brittany is back from her exhausting weeks of dance preparation and she is full of her usual energy. You think maybe she doesn't notice your stupor or maybe she doesn't care, but you that isn't true, that she's just Brittany and she knows that you're just Santana and when you want to talk about it you'll talk about it. Quinn sends you glares every time during Cheerios that you miss a step or stumble on a landing, or when you correct her pathetic excuse for Spanish during class with disinterest.

You see your father off at the airport with your mother on May 17th. He kisses your mother chastely and gives you a hug and quick smile, and then he's off through security and you get back in the car with your mother. She takes a deep breath before driving away, and you hesitate to get out of the car when you reach your abuela's house. As you open your door, your mother stops you.

"Santana," she says slowly, like she can't quite remember how to let your name roll off her tongue. "Mija, lo siento."

You look at her, eyebrows raised in confusion. "Mami, you have nothing to apologise for. He's the one who left." She shakes her head, and you twist your fingers together.

"No, Santana, I must apologise to you for…for everything this past year," your mother says, her eyes searching yours. "I allowed your father to convince me that having you live with your abuelita would be a good idea, that it would be for the best. The best thing for you and the best thing for the entire family. I should never have listened to him." Your mother drops her eyes and smiles sadly at the streetlamp. "Your father is a good man, Santana, please do not fault him for wanting to follow his dreams, or for doing what he thought was best. You two are not unlike each other. Where do you think you got your ambition from?"

You nod, and the smallest smile creeps onto your face. Your father's words from what feel like a lifetime ago echo in your head.

"We Lopezes are not easy to love, mija. We are headstrong, ambitious, and often ruthless when we want something. These are not bad things to be. Do not run from what you are, Santana, or from what you want. Set your sights, and never look away. You will succeed where others will fail because you will never give up."

"I hope that you can forgive me for all my mistakes, mija," she says, and she takes your hands in hers. You swallow back tears and nod.

"Of course, mami," you say, "I forgive you." She touches your cheek and smiles. You smile back and with a final kiss to your forehead, she ushers you from the car teasingly and promises to bring you home soon.

You return to your house the next day. It took you three hours to pack everything up, and your abuela pretended to be glad toto get rid of you, but you will swear that you saw her wipe away a tear as your mom drove the car down the road.

You're back to your bedroom, where the walls are black and the bed is huge, where you can rest behind thick walls and use your ensuite bathroom however and whenever you want. The duvet is fluffy and the pillows are like clouds. It surprises you to find that Tulla and Dante are no longer living in your house. Part of you misses Dante, but the part of you that is so fucking glad to be rid of your bitchy cousin wins out and leaves you happy.

Vanessa, a senior Cheerio, throws a party that weekend. Your mom tells you to enjoy yourself and be safe. You almost feel bad taking advantage of her guilt, but the promise of alcohol and uninhibited fun distracts you from that immediately. Quinn and Brittany come over to your house to get ready. There are no changes in this routine; makeup and outfits, last minute panics about who will be at the party. Quinn seems to think that this is her last chance to seduce Finn. The whole thought of Finn as anything but the boy who picked his nose until the sixth grade makes you want to vomit all over your dress. Brittany looks amazing as always in unbelievably short shorts and a flowing top that dips low beneath her clavicle and stops above her navel. Your mom drops the three of you off at Vanessa's house and doesn't make any comments about the cacophony coming from the house.

Inside, the music is pumping and the drinks are flowing. Puck and Matt Rutherford are performing a keg stand, and you can see Timothy and Jared from the basketball team challenging anyone to beer pong. You cross your fingers that Brittany doesn't notice the beer pong, but of course she does. Brittany's quite an awesome beer pong player, but the system used at these parties is usually that the winner stays on to face the next challenger, and with Britt, she's always the winner until she gets too drunk to stand without a wall to hold on to.

She spots the beer pong table from the entrance. "Look, Santana!" She grabs your elbow and points towards the two jocks chest bumping as they sink a ball. "There's pong! C'mon, let's go kick some ass!" You barely have time to attempt a protest before she is dragging you by the arm. When Timothy and Jared spot you they grin and you wave back with a weak smile.

"You ladies up next?" Timothy asks.

"Bring it," Brittany replies, her eyes narrowing in challenge.

It takes you one drink to realise that it isn't beer in the cups. Someone decided that lemonade and vodka made a good mix, but they must have seriously underestimated the amount of lemonade needed to dilute the sting of the alcohol. You watch Brittany sink another shot and laugh as a disgruntled Jared chugs from the red plastic cup.

Unsurprisingly, you and Britt win the round. Both of you are decidedly tipsier than when you arrived, but you snatched victory from the basketball players' hands. It isn't just Britt who is pretty good at pong; you aren't too bad yourself. You win the next round, challenged by an already wasted Puck and a horrifyingly uncoordinated Finn. Quinn hovers by his elbow the whole time and you feel slightly betrayed by her choice of allegiance. It doesn't matter nearly as much when you crush the boys and do a victory chest bump with Brittany. The alcohol is coursing through your veins and watching her eyebrows furrow in concentration as she sinks another shot send heat down and your hands twitch to grab her by the hips and press her against the wall. The expanse of stomach exposed by her shirt tempts you too much, and you celebrate her point by hugging her from behind and quickly running your hands over her stomach, her muscles twitching under your touch. She spins around and the desire in her eyes matches yours. Her lips are parted and her tongue darts out to moisten them.

(It's getting out of control, and you can't figure out how to stop it.)

(You don't think you want to stop it.)

You lose that round. Both of you have substantial amounts of alcohol in your systems, and neither of you were focusing that intently on the game. You had spent most of your final turns staring at Brittany, watching how her muscles moved beneath her skin when she leaned forward to take a shot, and something tells you she did the same to you.

Without wasting time, the two of you find an unoccupied room and you almost slam her back into the door as soon as it's closed. She grunts in surprise, maybe a bit of pain, but her hands weave into your hair as you kiss down her neck and across her collarbone, tongue darting out and teeth nipping at the skin, tugging lightly. Her moans are breathy and spur you on. Your hand slips beneath her shirt and covers her breast. She tugs your head up to meet your lips with hers. Your lips slide together, her tongue forcing it's way into your mouth. You pull her away from the wall and look frantically around for a surface. There's a desk in the corner, and you lead her over to it. You sit on it and wrap your legs around her waist, pulling her in closer until your bodies are flush against each other.

"Oh my god!"

A high-pitched shriek breaks through your Brittany-induced haze. You shove her away and she stumbles backwards. You look to the door. Kurt Hummel is standing in the doorway in all his bowtied glory. His eyes are wide with shock and you leap off the desk and grab him by the collar of his shirt and practically throw him into the room. You slam the door shut and take a deep breath.

Then you whirl around on Kurt.

You push him by the shoulders so he backs into the corner. You advance on him, and you're satisfied to see the fear in his eyes.

"Listen to me very carefully Hummel," you say in a low voice. "What you just saw – it didn't happen. You walked in here and Brittany and I were not here. You then turned around and left, left this house and immediately regretted your decision to come because you remembered that you are nothing. You remembered that with one word from any single person at this party, you would be thrown into dumpsters twice a day everyday from now on. You saw nothing." You're nose to nose with him now.

"Santana, leave him alone," Brittany pleads with you. She doesn't make a move towards you, keeps her distance instead.

"Shut the fuck up, Brittany!" You turn your head to look over at her. She's got her lips pressed together, and her hands are clasped in front of her body.

"I-I won't tell anyone, Santana," Kurt says, drawing your attention back to him. "I promise, I won't tell anyone!"

"Did I say you could speak, fag?" You ask him, venom dripping from your words. "You know, it's a wonder that you even got in here with all the football guys hanging around, I hear they've basically got a bounty on your head these days. I even heard some of them talking about getting you to transfer." Kurt's eyes go from fear to anger in two seconds flat. He pushes you away from him, and you immediately retaliate, shoving him back into the wall. Brittany steps closer to you.

"Santana, he promised he wouldn't say anything," she says, reaching a hand out to you. You slap her hand away.

"Don't touch me!" You spit. "And what the fuck were you thinking, huh? Ever heard of locking the fuck door, Brittany?" Her eyes are cast down, staring at her feet. She sniffs and wipes away a tear. "Don't fucking cry! Don't make me seem like the villain here, Brittany, you know you have to lock the door; we've been over this so many fucking times, and you always fucking forget! Why are you so stupid!?" She looks up at you and covers her mouth with her hand. A sob wracks her body and you throw your hands up in exasperation. "I'm so fucking done." You shove Kurt one more time and say, "Watch yourself, joto." You storm out the door and out the house. You find Quinn on the front lawn with Finn. They're kissing, and it makes you want to be physically ill. You see Puck across the expansive front lawn from you, looking dejected and he kicks at the ground before turning and walking away.

(Everything has gotten too complicated tonight.)

(Maybe it's always been too complicated.)

A/N: Et, voila. Thank you for reading! My apologies for how long it took to get this one out. Hope you enjoyed.