a/n: I've got one week left of winter break, so this may be my last update for now. to be honest, I really wanted to put this song in so I built the chapter around the song, something that is often the other way around. I discovered the band, Arrows In Action on the Clock App. and by God they're good! give em a listen and enjoy your read! -GEK freaking out over a new band.
Chapter 34: All The Ways I Could Die
Despite going to therapy, things were still grim from Brittany. With the nightmares slowly coming to an end for Santana after almost two weeks of non-stop night terrors, it was time for Brittany to go home for a while. She'd visited home periodically, but she'd stayed with the Lopezes for the duration of Santana's nightmares. However, the lack of sleep had the blonde falling behind already when they were only a month into the school year. Unfortunately, Santana couldn't help catch her up as she too was falling behind from exhaustion. So, Brittany would go home where she could sleep full nights and focus on homework. would also be available to help with her homework in a way Ali can't. Brittany was resistant to the order to go home, but eventually caved, on the condition that Lady Domino came with. And so, Sunday evening Lady Domino and Brittany made their way back to the Pierce household. Lord Tubbington was less than impressed with his new housemate, but tolerated her as long as she didn't eat his food.
"It's good to have you home Britt." her dad said, sitting at the table with her "Liv has really missed you."
"I missed her too. But Santana needed me." the dancer swirls the hot cocoa around I'm her mug.
"Cinnamon?" Whitney asks as she joins them at the table. Brittany nods and her mom hands her the shaker. The girl had grown to love Mexican hot chocolate, and the cinnamon somewhat sated the craving for a serving of Santana's perfect brew.
"So, your school work has fallen behind." Daniel says "Both your mom and I are committed to getting you caught up.'
"I appreciate it, but doesn't Livvy need help with her homework?" Brittany asks.
"Not these days. She's doing exceptionally well in school. Her teacher is even considering having her skip a grade." Whitney smiles softly.
"So I'm really off the mark, huh?" Brittany sighs "Held back and all."
"Darling," her dad shakes his head "You are brilliant in your own way. And you are successful just the same."
"Your father is right. You'll see that as soon as we put a dent in that pile of schoolwork starting tomorrow, okay?" her mom asks, and Brittany nods, gulping down the rest of her hot chocolate. She bids her parents goodnight and trudges up the stairs. Sitting on her bed, far past her bedtime, is Olivia.
"Why are you up?" Brittany leans against the door frame.
"I wanted to see you." her little sister says. "It's been a while."
"I know. I'm sorry." Brittany takes a seat beside her sister.
"It's okay. I know you were taking care of Tana. That's all that matters." Liv smiles.
"You matter too." Brittany gently boops her sister's nose "But you're up past bedtime."
"Such a stickler for the rules these days." Liv crosses her arms.
"Not usually, but it's actually really late. I wouldn't want you falling behind in school like I am." she admits.
"Impossible! If I was gonna fall behind, it would take a lot more than a late night. But sleep is important for the brain, so I'll listen. But maybe we can talk more tomorrow?" Liv asks.
"Sure. Is something up?" Brittany raises an eyebrow.
"Don't you worry about me. I'm perfect." Liv smiles and skips off to her room. Brittany shakes her head in wonder as she closes her door to settle down for the night. Her bed feels so cold without Santana snuggled up next to her. Her blankets feel different than Santanas and her sheets smell like laundry detergent rather than Santana's perfume. She hugs a stuffed bear Santana got her to her chest and stares at the ceiling. She hates how her thoughts spiral quickly and pulls out her journal. Writing down the thoughts helps clear her head enough to sleep for the night.
Brittany wakes up with a headache but knows she can't miss another day of school, so she drags herself out of bed and into the shower. The hot water soothes some of her aching joints which relieves some of the pressure. She sighs and stares at herself in her now fixed mirror. Every part of her wants to punch it again, but she resists, walking back into her room to pick out clothes for the day. Usually on a Monday she tie up her hair, but the last thing she need was more pressure on her aching head, so she grabs a plain black snapback. From there she finds a long sleeve gray tee to layer under an All Time Low shirt she'd stolen from Santana. She finds some gray sweatpants to complete her lazy day outfit and trudges down the stairs.
"Morning B" Olivia says, pouring herself a bowl of cereal.
"Morning Liv. Where's Ma?" she asks.
"Running errands. You can drop me at school right?" her sister asks and Brittany nods.
"Yeah, I just need some Tylenol for my headache." Brittany rubs her temples.
"Don't you have some in your medicine cabinet?" the younger girl sits at the counter with her bow.
"Nah, they stripped it bare." Brittany sighs.
"There should be some in that cabinet" her sister points out. Brittany finds what she needs, and even though she's young, makes a point of showing Liv she only takes two.
"Thanks for not treating me like some silly kid." Liv says.
"No problem kiddo." Brittany winks "You got your stuff together?"
"Aren't you going to eat?" Liv asks. Brittany grabs a protein bar, and eats half of it in one bite, shoving a second one in her pocket.
"Let's go?" Brittany asks.
"Alright, alright. You're lucky I start earlier than you." Olivia says grabbing her backpack.
"Homework in there?" Brittany asks as her sister climbs in the backseat.
"Yup. Are we getting Tana before you drop me off?" the little girl asks, buckling her seatbelt.
"Yeah, text her for me?" Brittnay hands her sister her phone.
"Done!" Olivia sets the phone in the passenger seat.
"Excited for school?" Brittany tries to make conversation.
"Yeah, we have science today!" her little sister smiles "It's my favorite."
"I used to love science. It's harder in high school. A lot less Bill Nye and Magic School Bus…" Brittany muses.
"You're silly. We do experiments too!" Olivia says.
"I know. Alright, here we are. Stay here, I'll go get San and Asher." Brittany parks in the Lopez driveway and returns a moment later accompanied by Santana and Asher.
"Asher!" Liv says as Santana let's him into the backseat and secures him with his doggy seat belt.
"Hey Livvy!" Santana says, climbing in the passenger seat.
"Hola Tana!" Liv smiles big.
"You learning some Spanish?" Santana asks.
"Si senorita!" Liv says "I haven't learned much yet."
"Don't worry, I'll teach you anything you want in Spanish." Santana smiles.
"How do you say I love you?" Liv asks.
"Te amo." Brittany replies in a swoon.
"Cool!" the little blonde says as they pull up to drop off. "Bye Britt, bye Tana!" she says as she gets out, swinging her backpack in one hand and lunch box in the other.
"She's so cute." Santana smiles "How are you?"She turns to Brittany.
"Fighting off a killer headache, but hanging in there." the dancer says as she drives towards McKinley.
"Did you take meds?" Santana asks.
"Yeah. I'll be okay. Might be a bit hard to read though." Brittany says as they pull into the student parking lot.
"Well just let me know when you need help okay?" Santana kisses Brittany's temple as they park. She get out and helps Asher into his vest and grabs her backpack. She opens Brittany's door, encouraging the girl to get out. She hand the blonde her bag and they make their way into the loud crowded halls.
"Here." Santana hands the girl her earbuds, and Brittany gratefully tunes out the noise around them.
"Hey Britt." Kurt says, but pouts when he doesn't get a response.
"Sorry Kurt, she has headphones in." Santana says pulling one out. Brittnay turns and sees Kurt.
"Kurt!" Brittany smiles "Good weekend?"
"It was pretty great. I met this guy for coffee" Kurt smiles.
"Tell me more!" Brittany squeals.
"I will at lunch. See you later Santana!" Kurt goes off towards his first class.
"I'm so happy for him." Brittany smiles "lets get going."
"Yes, an angry teacher awaits." Santana sighs, hooking pinkies with Brittnay as they make their way down the hall.
Despite her happiness from Kurt's news, Brittany's mood quickly plummeted from angry teachers with overwhelming assignments coupled with her ever persistent headache. She did her best to take everything in stride, but by lunch she'd nearly forgotten the exciting news. The cafeteria was loud and crowded, and all Brittany wanted to do was get her food and escape. Santana worried her lip between her teeth, trying to spy Kurt to wave him over. She caught sight of Finn and decided he could help.
"Hey can you send Kurt out to our tree if you see him?" she asked. The footballer nodded, heading to their usual table and Santana led Brittany outside. Not long after, Kurt came along.
"Why aren't y'all at the lunch table? I told everyone the good news!" he smiled, looking to Brittany who was playing with her food. The blonde looked up with sad eyes. She'd disappointed Kurt again. She went to move but Santana grabbed her hand.
"The noise was too much. Brittany's fighting a headache." Santana explains.
"Oh, that's okay. Britt" Kurt kneels in front of her "I'm not upset. I can tell you now, yeah?" The blonde nods. Santana smiles at Kurt encouragingly, and he tell Brittany all about the guy he's talking to: Blaine.
"I'm really happy for you Kurt." Brittany cracks a small smile "I'm sorry I'm not showing it well."
"You don't feel good. It's okay. Maybe you should lay down at the nurse's?" he offers.
"I can't miss class. But maybe a quick stop for some Tylenol?" Brittany looks at Santana who nods.
"Good. Well, I hope your head feels better. Santana, a word?" Kurt says, and she raises and eyebrow but follows him a few feet away, one eye on Brittany.
"What's going on?" he asks "Brittany hasn't had a headache this bad since before her dyslexia was diagnosed."
"How can you tell how bad it is?" Santana glances at her girlfriend.
"She's barely eating. Tylenol didn't work. She keeps rubbing her temples and eyes. Her hair isn't tied up. She can't even handle a smile." Kurt points out.
"Wow. You must've seen a lot in those early days." Santana says, and Kurt nods. "Well, she went home last night. She needs help with her homework and I'm slammed with my own. Plus she deserves a full night's rest even though I still can't sleep through the night." Santana shrugs "The dreams are pretty tame now. I don't need someone watching over me."
"That's probably it. Do you have a body pillow you can give to her? It'll help." he assures.
"I'll see what I can do. Thanks Kurt." Santana pats his back and heads back to Brittany,gently massaging the girl's scalp.
Brittany is distant in Glee club. Their last class had been miserable, and Brittnay just wanted to go home and cry herself to sleep from the pain. The Tylenol hadn't done a thing, and every light was too bright. Santana pulled her hoodie off to give to the girl, glad she had an extra jacket in her locker to cover her own arms. Brittany turned the hoodie backwards and covered her face from the choir room lights.
"What's the deal with Britt?" Quinn asked.
"Headache. Lights." Santana says sadly.
"Sounds like a migraine might be setting in." Rachel piped up.
"I know." Santana sighs "She's never had one before, has she Q?"
"Not in many years. Her dyslexia used to cause them." Quinn sighed.
announced the lesson for the week: Thoughts. Particularly thoughts they wanted to erase, whether it was worry about school or something more dire. Once the lesson was announced, Santana got Brittany to her car and drove back to hers where Ali followed in her own car so Brittany's car could get home.
"Britty…" Whitney sighed as she helped her daughter to bed "This isn't good."
"I didn't ask for a migraine Ma." Brittany rubs at her eyes irritably. "The pain feels like it's right behind them."
"Have you had trouble reading anything at a distance?" her mom asked, and Brittany looked at the poster on her wall, and had trouble making out some of it.
"I need glasses, don't I?" Brittany said.
"You like Santana's so much, it's not so bad right?" Whitney smiled.
"Yeah. So when are we going to the optometrist?" Brittany asked.
"As much as I hate it, I'll have to take you during your first class tomorrow." her mom sighed.
"It's okay. That teacher was the easiest on us. It's only history. She said she'd just remove the tests from our grades so long as we did a makeup project. It's not too complicated." Brittany smiles.
"Well good. Let's get you some working pain meds and try to knock out some work?" Whitney offers, and Brittnay nods. They get a fair amount done until Brittany's head throbbed too much. Whitney leaves her, and about thirty minutes later Liv comes in.
"Hey Liv." Brittany says sitting up.
"Hey. Can we talk?" the younger Pierce asks.
"What's going on kiddo?" Brittany says.
"Well, I just feel kinda funny about myself." Liv sighs "I don't really have the words."
"Take your time. What about yourself makes you feel "funny"?" She encourages the girl.
"Like, sometimes, I'd rather be Oliver but I really like being Olivia too." she tries to process "That sounds dumb, huh?"
"Of course not." Brittany says "Can I tell you about something?"
"Sure." Liv says. Brittany opens a web page on her phone and shows her sister.
"That sounds like me." Liv says "Gender fluid. That's kinda fun."
"Yeah. You don't have to use it though. You can just be Liv too."Brittany assures.
"What do you think Ma and Pa will think?" she worries.
"They'll support you however you need." Brittany kisses the top of Livs head "But you don't have to tell them until your ready, okay?"
"Okay. Thanks B. You're pretty awesome." Olivia says, hopping up and going back to her room.
"I wish I felt awesome." Brittany sighs.
Waiting for her glasses to come in was torture. Brittany knew it would be a wait, but the whole time her eyes ached and thusy so did her head. Being late to school on Tuesday sucked too, but she did her best to push through. But with pain and stress, her mood got worse, and by Wednesday evening everything felt as bad as her head.
"Brittany, did you want some dinner?" Daniel asked.
"My stomach's upset." the blonde muttered. Her dad left water and Ritz by the door. She couldn't eat them, her anxiety turning her stomach no matter what. It was 10pm that the cloud of depression settled over her as she searched for a song for Glee. She stumbled across a new band through a suggestion on YouTube.
"Cool." She whispered as the blue light illuminated her skin. She plugged in headphones and found a song that couldn't be more perfect. The cloud parted, and she ate her Ritz. Music really was a miracle drug.
"You seem peppy." Santana said the nest day.
"I found a song for Glee, and it made me feel so much better. My head still hurts a little from my eyes still, but the stress and anxiety isn't there to make it worse." Brittany smiled, kissing Santana's cheek.
"Not to mention I have everything made up. Mom has gotten me caught up so fast!" Brittany grinned.
"I'm glad." Santana said organizing the last of her late papers. They both handed a paper on the last history topic to their teacher as they took their seats. Things were looking up.
Glee couldn't come fast enough.
"Before I start, I just want to say these are the thoughts that come when I'm at my worst. They can be a little scary, but I know not to trust them. And hearing them spelled out helps so much." Brittany said, grabbing an electric guitar.
I just can't wait to go sit in my room
Contemplate all the ways I could die
Self sabotage is an old friend of mine
And self care just isn't worth the time
Done rearranging my mind for the chase
Won't let all my ambition go to waste
If everything's nothing, then what's left to blame?
It all changes and nothing's the same
Brittany sang with all the emotion she had, and Santana just sat there in shock as she watched her girlfriend bare everything.
Now I just can't wait
To go hide in my home
Shut the door be alone
Brace the fall on my own
Brittany grit her teeth as she took on the last chorus. She hit the last note and flipped her hair out of her face. The club clapped the loudest they ever had for her as a soloist. It wasn't just her talent confirmed- her feeling had been validated. Santana hugged her close and said "You know I love you and will face the world with you, right?"
"I can assure you, this is a thing of my past." Brittany whispered "But my anxiety sometimes misses it. I can beat it though."