A/N Guess who's back! I've been trying to hold off posting this until February for Brittanaversary but I'm too excited. Let me know if this is worth continuing; I'm a little rusty. Enjoy!
Judging by the light that streams in through the edges of Santana's curtains, it's way too early for her liking but the incessant buzzing of her phone against the nightstand is too hard to ignore. She's so exhausted from the night before; she hates working doubles, but the money is decent so she sucks it up a few nights a week.
She swats at the screen without looking in hopes of snoozing the alarm she must've accidentally set to AM instead of PM. It takes three attempts before the buzzing stops. Santana sighs in relief and snuggles deeper into her pillows.
Santana's heart jumps and she picks her head up slightly from the pillows. She recognizes that voice, a familiar blonde she once knew. Then again, maybe she's dreaming.
She's definitely not dreaming and realizes the voice is coming from her nightstand. She rolls on to her back with a groan, refusing to open her eyes as she brings the phone to her ear.
"This better be good, Fabray." Santana grumbles although she is genuinely curious as to why Quinn of all people is calling her out of the blue. She couldn't remember the last time she spoke to her. Matter of fact, she can't remember the last time she spoke to anyone from the Glee Club days.
"After all these years, you're still not a morning person?"
If Santana's eyes were open, she'd roll them, "Are you calling just to check because if you have to ask then it's way too early."
"It's 11:45," Quinn chuckles down the line.
Quinn's voice turns solemn, "I assumed you've heard the news already, but I guess not."
That tone piques Santana's interest, she remembers it well from the day her father told her that her abuelo had cancer and her mother had the same tone when she told Santana she and her father were getting a divorce. Several things rush through her mind all at once and it causes her to sit up.
"What's happened?" Santana finally musters the courage to ask. She tries to fight the images of another blonde she used to know from surfacing and all the tragic possibilities because she shouldn't be the first person she thinks of, no matter how long it's been since they've spoken.
"It's Coach Sylvester." Quinn says and the name is yet another blast from the past, "She passed away yesterday. The funeral is Sunday."
Santana's jaw drops and she's overcome with a mix of emotions; some of relief because Sylvester wasn't the name she was expecting but also grief because despite the amount of shit Sue put her through while on the Cheerios and in Glee Club she had her moments. Sue taught her how to be hardworking and to have drive and be disciplined in the most unconventional ways and she wouldn't have met Quinn or-
Santana stops and swallows thickly; that's the second time she's thought about her today, the most she has in awhile.
She decides later that night, after thinking long and hard whether or not a trip to Lima, Ohio is worth not flying her mother up for Christmas, that she really wouldn't be the person she is today without Sue and the right thing to do is pay her respects.
She wonders if others from her squad will be there too, one Cheerio in particular, and that curiosity might've been what swayed her decision.
But mostly to pay her respects, at least that's what she tells herself as she books her flight.
If you had asked Santana in high school where she pictured herself in five years, working late nights as a singing waitress at the Spotlight Diner, scraping gum from underneath tables and barely making ends meet wasn't really what she had in mind.
Then again, she didn't really have a game plan in the first place but rather two things she was certain of: She would be living in New York and she would be with Brittany.
In a way, she somewhat got it right: she lives in New York and- Well that's about it. She found a tiny apartment that's kind of cute if you close your eyes and she has a job that she generally enjoys most of the time and she even transferred her credits from Louisville and finished her Business degree despite having a really hard time deciding whether or not she should.
But she did it anyway and she found herself a community of people who are like her and appreciate her and it all should make Santana feel accomplished, like she really is doing something with her life, but she can't help but feel like something is missing.
Or rather someone, but that someone isn't an option anymore.
She stopped being an option the day she told Santana to follow her dreams. Santana didn't know at the time that the conversation that took place back stage in the auditorium would also be the last time they'd speak, but that was unintentional. She had every intention of keeping in contact with Brittany, updating her on how things were going and sometimes just to talk because even though New York is filled with people it can get pretty lonely, but it was too hard for Santana to go back to being just friends, as if they ever were. She couldn't compromise Brittany and Sam's relationship, no matter how much it hurt her to see Brittany with someone else.
And it wasn't like Brittany was reaching out to her either, so it kind of just stuck. When Santana walked away that day, that was it. She vowed to move forward with her life and never look back.
Santana's mother, Maribel, picks Santana up from the airport late Thursday night with a kiss on her cheek and a warm hug Santana hadn't realized she had missed.
"Welcome home, mija." Maribel says as she pulls away from the hug, "You look thin. Did they feed you on the plane?"
Santana shakes her head as they begin walking towards baggage claim, "There were snacks, but I'm not very hungry."
Maribel gives a disapproving look, similar to Santana's abuela, and back when she was a teen she used to hate that look, like she couldn't take care of herself or something, but now it makes Santana chuckle. Now she knows that's how they show they care.
"I'm fine, Mami, really." Santana assures and that seems to appease Maribel who begins to smile again.
It doesn't take too long for Santana's suitcase to topple out onto the conveyer belt and soon enough they're loaded up in Maribel's little SUV and headed home. Santana stares out the window at the passing cars and buildings that were just the same as they were the last time she was in Lima.
It's hard to believe that was nearly five years ago to the day.
Santana doesn't realize she's dozed off until Maribel is gently nudging her to wake up. When she hops out of the passenger seat, she shivers a little, not expecting it to be colder than before when they left the airport, and she quickly moves to roll her bags inside.
She hadn't expected there to be much change as she walked through the door and there isn't. Everything is exactly how it was when she left and she finds comfort in that. It's not until she makes her way to her room that she realizes she isn't too fond of how unchanged some things really are.
She had forgotten how dark her room was, how Maribel let her get away with picking out such dark wallpaper she'll never know, but she missed all the space. She could probably fit her entire apartment in New York in her bedroom in Lima. But her room was a lot emptier than it used to be; she took most of her clothes and shoes with her to New York so all that was left was furniture and a few knick-knacks and-
Her eyes fall on a bedazzled picture frame on her desk, home to an image of two girls, with beaming smiles on their faces, so completely in love. Santana remembers that day like it was yesterday; the day they became official. They were at the annual carnival that came around every summer and they had spent the evening wasting money on rigged carnival games and stuffing their faces with cotton candy and funnel cake and riding every ride at least twice. It was nothing but laughter and love, the best day ever.
Santana was the one to ask; she waited until they reached the very top of the Ferris wheel. She couldn't remember a time she was that nervous but afterwards, she couldn't imagine why. Despite being terrified of heights, Santana focused on shimmering blue eyes and suddenly the rest of the world fell away. Nothing else mattered that night; she didn't care about the talks and the looks, just her.
They were already so in love.
Santana blinks herself back to reality, fighting a strange lump that forms in her throat. She's in Lima for barely a few hours and she's already taken a painful walk down memory lane. She had been doing so well over the years, barely ever giving that girl in the picture a second thought because she promised herself she wouldn't do that. She wouldn't let herself reminisce because that led to thinking of all the possibilities of what they could've been and that was too painful.
Wishing and hoping for something that was clearly not meant to be.
Things are different, the girls in that picture are just two ghosts now so what's the use in dwelling on the past?
She takes a deep breath and gently lies the frame down before moving to unpack and get ready for bed.