Words: ~4 300
Spoilers: None, completely A/U
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary:Seventeen year old Santana is on vacation with her family. Away from the luxury resort she finds a camping park and in it a girl with pink hair and carefree ways. Soon there is an unfamiliar void feeling inside Santana whenever she leaves the park, a void feeling that disappears when Quinn smiles at her.
A/N: Comments are greatly appreciated. The story is inspired by Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness".
”Santana, I don’t want you hanging out there.” He looks sternly at his seventeen year old daughter.
“Why? What do you think is going to happen? You think I’m going to get beaten up and robbed? Raped?” She snaps back defiantly.
“Maybe. Anyway, I don’t want you to go there. I know you’ve been spending time there. Don’t think I don’t know. Stick around in the hotel area or go out with your brother. End of discussion.”
Ten minutes later she walks through the open gates to the forbidden camping park down the beach. She has left the beautiful holiday resort where the Lopez family is vacationing for the summer. It’s the kind of resort where the service is discrete, efficient and taken for granted and ladies’ restaurant menus don’t show the prices.
At the park people have suspended string between trees, trailers and tents and used them as clothes lines. Thin summery garments hung up to dry in the gentle breeze. There is the ever present smell of food cooking over charcoal on small rusty grills. Kids play outside the trailers, laughing, crying, chasing each other. Time doesn’t seem to matter here. No three o’clock tee time, five o’clock guided tour, no fake smiles to greet the next door neighbours you struggle to remember the names of.
“Ah. The rich girl is back! Slumming it, are we?” The voice belongs to a young blond man. The tone is slightly mocking but not altogether unfriendly. She seems to recall the others calling him Sam. He’s a little older than she is. She remembers him from last night, sitting around the camp fire. He had played the guitar. She had enjoyed his voice. She gives him an uncertain smile, hoping he doesn’t mind her presence.
“Lay off her Sam!” A girl saunters towards them. Her bright pink hair is a little tussled and Santana has a hard time determining if her clothes are ripped from wear or by design. Despite the ragged general appearance it is abundantly clear that she is beautiful. There are many words that could describe the girl, Santana supposes, but none fit better than “beautiful”. She remember her from last night too. Quinn, that’s her name.
“Got a light?” Quinn holds up an unlit cigarette. Santana shakes her head, slightly embarrassed. Sam reaches into the pocket of his shorts and pulls out a box of matches. He passes it to Quinn who carefully lights her cigarette.
“So what brings you back from the big fancy hotel? Want a cup of coffee?” Quinn exhales and a cloud of smoke emerges from her mouth. Santana nods mutely. She desperately wants to say something, to offer a witty reply or just to make sense at all.
“I… It gets a bit stuffy there, you know..” Her voice trails off. She feels stupid. Quinn just nods with an understanding look on her face, turns around and starts walking towards one of the trailers.
Santana wishes she was cool. She wishes she was like Quinn. She wishes she could just do what the hell she wants. She imagines Quinn can. Silently she follows Quinn to the trailer.
“Instant ok?” Quinn asks as she pours water into a kettle. “Actually, it’s the only kind I’ve got.”
“Instant is fine.” Santana smiles a little.
“Just push the junk to the side there and make yourself at home.” Quinn nods towards an old couch. The trailer is small and cramped. It’s a little messy but still cosy. Santana carefully moves a pile of paper, some magazines and a large inflatable pigeon and sits down. She feels adventurous.
“Have you lived here long?” she inquires.
“Erm.. Let’s see….” Quinn stops what she’s doing and seems to be counting in her head. “I guess it’s been about seven months now. I was heading towards San Diego but then I came across this place and decided to make a stop. Didn’t mean to stay this long but I like it here and you know, time flies when you’re having fun.” She flashes Santana a smile that makes her feel all warm inside. She thinks she’s blushing and unconsciously raises a hand to her cheek to feel if it’s hot. Quinn returns to her coffee making.
“What about school? I mean, you don’t look much older than I am and….” She catches herself and feels painfully uncool.
“Yeah. I quit.” Quinn doesn’t look up. She just keeps on stirring boiling water into two coffee mugs. “You know, I reckon I can always go back and finish later if I feel the need to. Somehow I don’t miss homework, lunch break seating hierarchies and mind numbing physics classes. Besides, I’m learning a lot of useful things here. I meet people who’ve travelled the world, people from all walks of life, real people with real stories to tell.” She shrugs and Santana wishes desperately that her own life was more interesting. She wants to be a real person with real stories to tell. She wants to ask Quinn a million questions but she doesn’t want to seem like she is prying. Where does this girl come from? Do her parents let her live here? Why was she going to San Diego in the first place? How can she afford to live here? Is there no one who takes care of her?
Quinn puts the mugs down on the coffee table.
“So, fed up with your fancy hotel?” She looks straight at Santana.
“Yeah… It’s nice and all but you know…” She wants to say that the camping park is so much cooler. Quinn is so much cooler than anyone at the hotel resort. She doesn’t want to be around her parents all the time. She’s not a kid any more. She wants to find her own thing and this place pretty much feels like it is it.
“Oh, I know. All too well. Been there, done that.” Quinn chuckles. “I used to hate going to vacation with my parents. Or, I liked it when I was little but not after I started high school.”
“Where are you from?” Santana can’t help herself.
“A small town in Ohio, Lima. You’ve probably never heard of it and believe you me, it’s not worth hearing of either.”
Santana hasn’t heard of Lima. She says nothing.
Santana goes back to the camping park the next day too. Sam grills fresh fish for her and Quinn. Later on some other people from the park join them. Sam plays the guitar and Quinn sings. Santana feels like she belongs and she can’t stop looking at Quinn.
It becomes a daily routine, spending the mornings with her family and sneaking off in the afternoons to go to the camping park. It keeps her father reasonably unsuspicious.
“What?” Quinn smiles.
“What?” Santana answers back.
“You’re looking at me like you’re trying to read my mind or something. Ask away. I have no secrets.”
“Everyone has secrets.” Santana says it almost more to herself than to Quinn.
“Yes. I guess that is true. Everyone has secrets”, Quinn muses. “Want to tell me any of yours?” She looks straight at her guest and it hits Santana again how beautiful Quinn is.
“Erm.. I…” She wracks her brain for a secret to tell. She wants to tell Quinn secrets. Things she’s never told anyone before. “I… I have never been in love with any of my boyfriends. I hate the pressure that comes with being popular at school and my teddy bear is my most precious possession.” The words pour out of her mouth and when she’s done Santana avoids making eye contact with Quinn.
“Wow. Not bad! So where are you from, popular Santana, person who appears to have deeper feelings for teddy bears than boyfriends?”
“I’m from LA. Born and raised there. My dad is a doctor and my mom is lab technician. I have an older brother who goes to college in Texas. They’re all here too. My dad still insists we go on family vacations together but he always gets to decide where and when we go.”
Quinn clears her throat and imitates a man’s voice and points at Santana “You pay, you get to decide where we go”. Santana laughs.
“Jeez! Have you been eaves dropping on my family?”
“Maybe your dad is related to mine.” Quinn chuckles.
They drink their coffee. Then they drink more coffee and eat cookies one of Quinn’s neighbours baked. Suddenly it’s eight in the evening and Santana has missed dinner.
“Shit! I gotta get back. My dad is going to kill me!” Santana stands up with a worried look on her face.
“Well, I hope he doesn’t. I’m going to borrow Artie’s boat tomorrow and go out to one of the islands to look for seashells. You’re welcome to join me if you like.” Quinn looks at Santana and smiles with her perfectly shaped lips and glittering hazel eyes. “That is if you can sneak away from your parents.” Quinn adds. Artie is a hippie who’s lived in the park for years. His trailer smells of incense and pot and the walls are covered with abstract art and peace signs.
“That sounds really cool! I’d love to. I’ll try to make it.” Santana means every word. So much.
“Great! I’ll be leaving around ten or so in the morning.”
She’s grounded. She has to spend the rest of the evening in her room and the next day she has to go with her parents to visit some local art centre. She has no way of letting Quinn know she won’t make the boat trip. Her tears stain the bed cover and the sound from the tv blares from the speakers. Her parents are fucking idiots! This is the last time she’s going on holiday with them!
The next day they rent a car and drive to the art centre. Santana’s mother likes art. Doctor Lopez is mainly indifferent to it but he brings the family there to compensate for the golf rounds his wife has to endure almost daily at the resort.
They wander through large halls decorated with sculptures, paintings and photographs. Some are nice but Santana doesn’t want to be here. Not now, not with her parents. She wants to be on a boat with Quinn. Thinking of the girl with the pink hair makes Santana feel a strange kind of longing. She can’t quite put her finger on it but she feels a sort of emptiness inside, like there is void. She looks at her watch and sees it’s a little after ten. Her heart sinks.
She finds it humiliating to still be forced by her parents to accompany them. She yearns for freedom. She wants to be able to make her own choices. She wants to feel that she is responsible for herself. She can’t wait to go to college and live in a dorm where no one knows or cares when she comes and goes.
They have lunch at the club house by the golf course. Doctor Lopez is going to play eighteen holes and Santana is let out of his sight at last. She tells her mother she is going for a walk and heads straight for the camping park. A few people greet her as she walks through the park. She recognises them from the camp fire party. It makes her proud they remember her.
She finds Quinn’s trailer but there is no one there. Santana guesses she is still out on the boat. She starts strolling back towards the gate. Sam is sitting at table under a large parasol.
“Hola Santana!” he calls out in a Spanish accent. He waves at her.
“Hola!” She waves back.
“Looking for Quinn? She went out to the island to pick seashells. She usually stays out there the whole day if the weather is good.”
“Yeah… She invited me but I couldn’t make it this morning. I thought she might be back by now.” Santana walks towards Sam.
“I can bring you out there if you like. I have a nifty little RIB.”
“Really?” Santana feels the corners of her moth stretching towards her ears.
“Hey, I wish girls always looked that happy when I say something. Yeah, sure. I’ll drop you off and then I’ll go fishing. Let me just get my keys.”
Five minutes later Santana is sitting in a small boat that almost flies across the water. The spray nearly soaks her but she loves it. She turns her face up towards the sun and holds out her arms to let the wind catch her body.
She can’t tell how long the boat trip took but as Sam slows the boat down and docks it next to Artie’s boat, Santana feels like all her cares and worries have been washed away by the ocean and the breeze.
“There you go. The island is really small. She’ll be somewhere on the beach. You’ll find her.”
She thanks him and gets off the boat. Within minutes he’s a distant dot on the glittering water and she’s walking along the water away from the boat. She’s taken off her sandals and enjoys the feeling of warm sand under her feet.
Quinn is sitting crouched down at the water’s edge. She’s poking in the sand with a stick. Santana watches her from afar. Watches how she moves, the way the sun falls on her hair, how the water washes over her bare feet. The void inside is gone.
She doesn’t want to startle Quinn so she calls out. Quinn looks up. Her face lights up when she sees who it is.
“Hey there! How did you get here?”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it this morning. My dad… He kinda lost it last night and grounded me but I managed to sneak away while he was playing golf. Sam offered to bring me out here.”
“I’m glad.” Quinn stands up and starts walking towards Santana. She keeps walking and she doesn’t stop. She just comes closer and closer until she can’t come any closer. Then she puts her arms around Santana and briefly lets her lips brush against Santana’s cheek. It happens in seconds.
The ground disappears. The sun and the ocean are gone. There are no sounds. All that remains is a searing burn on Santana’s cheek. A burn that doesn’t hurt. A burn that works its way through her cheek and into her brain where it lodges itself for the rest of her life.
“Come! I want to show you my favourite spot on the island.” Quinn has already moved away from Santana. She holds out her hand and without thinking, Santana takes it. Quinn’s hand is warm but dry, her skin is smooth and soft and it’s the best thing Santana has ever held in her hand. They stroll in silence. It’s like they’re afraid to say anything, as if it would break the moment, force them to think of their actions and let go of each other’s hands. But they both know the other feels it too. They have a silent agreement and Santana has a new secret. She’s almost sure she knows what that void feeling is now.
Quinn takes Santana to a large rock overlooking the ocean. It’s a glorious place. The sun is shining, the sea is glittering, there is a warm and gentle breeze. It’s summer and they’re seventeen years old.
Santana is lying in her bed in the hotel room. She touches her lips with her fingers. She feels how soft they are. It is the evening after the afternoon when she kissed Quinn Fabray. They had shared sandwiches and fruit salad up on the rock. Quinn had blushed a little when she admitted she had brought food for Santana too and that she had really hoped Santana would come with her. That was when Santana leaned forward and kissed Quinn on the lips. She hadn’t meant to. It just happened. And ten minutes later they were still kissing.
The next day Santana sneaks away after breakfast. She tells her parents she is going to see a friend. She lies when they ask if the friend is from the camping park. She tells them it’s a girl from one of the other hotels.
Quinn has borrowed Artie’s boat again and they go to a different island this time. Quinn is wearing a light blue polka dot dress. Her hair is held back with a hair band. She looks like a 50’s movie star. Santana is almost afraid to look at her too much. Maybe yesterday was just a dream. But as they cast off Quinn kisses her and tells her how happy she is to have Santana all to herself all day.
Quinn brings them to a beach on a small island. She has brought large beach towels that she lays out on the sand. Really close to each other. She’s wearing a bikini under her dress and when she takes it off Santana can’t help staring.
“Like what you see?” Quinn says with a playful smile on her face. Santana nods, unable to speak. She’s never allowed herself look at a girl like this before. She may or may not have wanted to but she never has. Quinn is slender but toned. Her skin is golden from exposure to the sun. She has perky breasts and Santana blushes a little when she looks at them. Quinn watches her watching. Then she comes towards Santana. Again she doesn’t stop until they are pressed against each other. Slowly Quinn puts her arms around Santana and kisses her. Slowly but intently. Santana feels energy radiating from Quinn, she feels like she’s being infused with life. As they lay down on the towels Santana’s life changes. They are so tender and so young. Their excitement makes them bold and under a sunlit clear blue sky they become lovers.
Santana lays naked on her back and watches the sky. Quinn lies with her head on Santana’s chest and listens to her heart beating. Suddenly Santana start giggling. It makes Quinn’s head bob up and down.
“Nothing..” Santana continues to giggle.
“Come on! Tell me!” Quinn looks up at Santana.
“It.. It’s just... I was wondering before what your natural hair colour is and well, it occurred to me that now I know, Blondie!” Santana can’t stop giggling while Quinn sits up and stares at her in disbelief.
“You! You… I cannot believe you said that!” Her cheeks are flushed.
Santana quickly gets up to run away and Quinn gives chase. They run around on the beach until Santana heads for the water, shrieking, running straight into the sea. She hasn’t skinny dipped since she was seven.
“How can you afford living in the trailer? Do you work?” They’re lying on the towels, facing the sun and holding hands.
“No, I have some money. Actually, my mom helps out. My dad doesn’t know. He’d be furious if he found out. I talk to her on the phone sometimes and send postcards.”
“Don’t you ever miss them?” Santana knows she’d miss her mother and maybe even her father sometimes.
“Yeah. I miss them. But my dad doesn’t want to see me so it doesn’t really matter where I am as far as he’s concerned.” Santana can hear the sadness.
“Do you mind me asking why he doesn’t want to see you? Is it because you’re gay?”
Quinn props herself up on one elbow and smiles at Santana. “No. I don’t know if I’m gay. The gayest thing I’ve ever done, I did with you about an hour ago.”
Santana can’t think about that. She regrets asking about Quinn being gay. It makes all the big questions form inside her head.
“I got pregnant and I had a little girl. My upstanding-member-of-society-father, good Christian lawyer, Mister James Fabray, could not handle that. So he threw me out. Shit happens.” Quinn lies down again. Santana’s grip on her hand tightens.
“Is your name Quinn Fabray?” Santana wants to ask about the baby but she’s obviously not at the camping park so she leaves the subject alone.
“I’m Santana Lopez.”
“I am very pleased to have met you Santana Lopez. Very pleased.” Quinn turns to her side and kisses Santana tenderly.
It’s already evening when they get back. Santana knows Doctor Lopez is going to be angry but she doesn’t care. However angry he gets, today was worth it.
She’s surprised to find that her father contents himself with grunting about her making dinner time tomorrow or else. She spends the rest of the evening with her brother and some people he hangs out with at the hotel.
They see each other every day. Quinn brings her out in Artie’s boat and they go for drives in her old Ford. Santana feels free and carefree. She smokes Quinn’s cigarettes, drinks cocktails Sam mixes and when Quinn goes down on her she goes to heaven. When she lies in Quinn’s arms she knows she’s where she’s supposed to be.
One evening Quinn is unusually quiet. They’re lying in the bed in the trailer. Quinn watches the smoke rise from her mouth and she exhales.
“I was thinking… You know, when you leave. Please don’t tell me when it is ‘cos I don’t want to say goodbye to you. Would you do that for me?”
Santana has worked hard to push all the unpleasant questions and thoughts into a small dark compartment of her brain. Now they’re out in the open again. She swallows hard.
“I wish this summer would never end,” is all she can bring herself to say.
“I’ve fallen for you.” Quinn is whispering now. “For real.” Santana sees a tear trickle down the side of Quinn’s face. “Have you… Do you…” Quinn closes her eyes and draws in a ragged breath.
Santana leans forward and whispers into Quinn’s ear. “Yes. I have. I do. For real.”
“Don’t wander off too far now! The transfer bus will be here in two hours and you’d better be here in time.” Doctor Lopez raises a finger and looks at Santana as she passes him in the hotel lobby. She rolls her eyes.
“Yes daddy.” She keeps walking. A few minutes later she’s left the hotel area and walks down the path by the edge of the beach towards the camping park. The scent of the sea fills her nostrils and the warm breeze caresses her skin that has gone a dark bronze colour in the summer sun. She tries not to think about the fact that this may be the last time she goes to visit the park and all the things that notion entails.
As she walks through the gates she heads straight for Quinn’s trailer. She finds it locked and deserted. Maybe Quinn’s gone to the market. She never mentioned anything about going somewhere today. She decides to go find Sam in the meantime. She’ll just wait for Quinn to come back.
Sam’s sitting by the table outside his trailer as usual. He seems to be working on a new song. He looks up when she calls out to him.
“Hey!” She hasn’t told him either that she’s going home today. He looks at her but doesn’t say anything. Then he gets up leaves the guitar leaning against the table. He steps inside the trailer but returns a minute later with something in his hand.
“Hey,” he says and sounds a little awkward. “I know you’re going home today. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry to see you go.”
“How did you know?” She looks at him and feels the void grow inside of her at a sickening rate. “How long have you known?”
“I know Quinn told you not to tell her when you were going. But I guess the part of her that needed to know was stronger. She knows a guy who works at the reception at your hotel. She asked him to check how long you were staying. She’s known for about a week.”
Santana closes her eyes in attempt to process what Sam’s just said. Quinn knew!
With an unsteady voice she asks “Where is she?”
Sam looks down at his feet. “She left. She packed all night and left at dawn.”
The void swallows Santana whole. She doesn’t realise she’s crying.
“Where did she go?”
“She said she was heading back east. She said it was time.” Sam wipes a small tear from his eye. “I’ll miss her. That’s for sure.” He holds out a white envelope. “She asked me to give you this.”
Santana takes the envelope but doesn’t open it. Sam steps forward and pulls her into a hug.
“Goodbye Santana. I hope to see you again sometime. It’s been a pleasure.” He feels her squeezing him a little harder.
Five hours later she is on a plane on her way home. She made sure to get a window seat and ever since they took off, she’s been staring out the window. In her hand is Quinn’s unopened letter. It’s time.
Slowly she opens it and pulls out the folded piece of paper.
I hope you’ll forgive me. I couldn’t keep my nerve. As you’re reading this, I’m probably in my car or in some shabby wayside diner, on my way eastwards.
I’m writing this so that you’ll know that I didn’t just leave out of carelessness. There is nothing casual about my leaving. On the contrary.
You are my first true love. Whoever I meet in the future, whatever they will mean to me, you will always hold that title. Know that.
Rating: PG-13 (may change later on)
Words: ~2 000
Spoilers: None, completely A/U
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Eight year old Santana has been washed ashore in Japan. She is found by an old man who happens to be a ninja master. She grows up to become a shinobi, a ninja.
chapter 1 chapter 2
A/N: This chapter has not been beta-read. Please forgive the mistakes. I know the story moves forward a little slowly but please bear with me. We’ll get to know Brittany better in the next chapter.
They ride as fast as they can through the open landscape. Santana enjoys feeling the magnificent animal move beneath her, the wind against her face and the sun on her skin. She has put her hair up and is dressed like a boy. The few people they pass on their way think they’re two young men out for a ride. They are probably taken for young noblemen. No peasants could afford horses this strong and beautiful.
In the afternoon they reach the tiny village Takai has pointed out to them on a map. They leave their horses at a stable belonging to a ryokan and then they proceed on foot, all the time trying to draw as little attention to themselves as possible. They walk for two hours until they are only a few kilometres from Tanaka’s compound. There they find a secluded place in the woods where they camouflage themselves and lie down to rest. They take turns, one sleeping while the other rests. Santana goes through the map in her head while Takeshi snoozes next to her. She has memorised the layout of the entire compound. She and Taskashi have discussed entering the area by scaling the west wall and climbing up on the parapet. Then they’re to work their way all the way to the opposite outer wall. They have gone over their plan throughout the day. They have the skills to improvise if need be but they’d rather not. This is their first mission. The fewer glitches the better.
As night falls they eat a few rice rolls and drink water. Then they change into their black clothes. Santana’s hands tremble a little as she ties the black hood around her head. She takes a deep breath. It’s alright to be nervous now. Once they reach the compound she has to concentrate to keep her nerves in check, all her sense sharp and to be all she’s trained to be. As they reach the wall they unfasten their kaginawas and throw them up onto the parapet. There is a faint clanging sound as the metal hooks land. Santana pulls the rope to make sure the kaginawa is fastened properly. Then she begins to climb. She ascends as fast as she can. They’re vulnerable while they climb and they do not want to be spotted.
Soon they find themselves up on the stone clad parapet. Silently they move along the wall and make their way down onto a small courtyard. They are now inside enemy territory but they can’t afford to dwell on that thought. Instead they focus completely on the task at hand and begin explore the compound, gathering as much information as possible. As they are about to enter the main building they decide to split up and meet back up on the west wall again.
Santana sneaks inside like a black shadow. She moves swiftly along a corridor and enters a great hall when she suddenly hears footsteps. Someone is quickly approaching the hall with confident steps. She presses herself against the wall, partially shielded from view by a large cupboard. Her left hand is on her wakizashi and she is ready to strike. She can see him now. He appears to be a guard on routine patrol. He comes closer but hasn’t seen her. Instead he walks right past her and leaves the hall into the corridor she came from. Santana exhales slowly.
Methodically she goes through the buildings, taking mental note of everything. She comes across a few more guards but manages to avoid being discovered. Most of the rooms are empty as the inhabitants of the compound sleep unaware of the trespasser. She finally emerges out onto a roof overlooking a yard. Well hidden in the shadows she allows herself to sit down and rest for a moment. In her mind she retraces her steps and the information she has gathered.
“We have him!” a loud voice penetrates the night. “We have the spy!”
There are more voices speaking loudly and excitedly.
Moments later she sees a group of men come into view in the yard. In the middle is a figure covered by a large net. She knows it’s Takashi. She doesn’t have to see his face to know. Her heart races and she feels her pulse in her temples. Her thoughts are in disarray. This was not supposed to happen! How could this happen? She knows they are going to keep him under close guard and it would be impossible to defeat his watchers alone. Still… She also knows the men are going to try to make Takashi talk. Her Takashi, her best friend. He would never talk, that’s not who he is. Instead he would silently let them torture him to death. No! No! No! That is not an option. Takai would have told her to leave him. A shinobi knows what the job means and what the risks are. Still she doubts Takai would have abandoned his best friend in this situation. He would have thought of a clever plan and freed his friend.
She tries to compose herself and gather her thoughts. She forces herself to breathe deeply and slowly, letting the oxygen flow to her brain and muscles. Before she leaves her hiding place she checks all her equipment and makes sure everything is ready to use. Then she sneaks across the roof and follows after Takashi and his capturers.
They hold him in a hut at the edge of the compound. He is in a large wooden cage. Four men are taunting him. Apparently they have decided not to interrogate him tonight. Santana draws a sigh of relief. She hears one of the men say “Don’t forget he’s a fucking shinobi so be on your guard. Don’t stand too close to him. And there could be more. They often work in pairs. My guess is that his partner is on his way back to their master, like a rat scurries home. Anyway, we’ll be right outside.”
She knows she has to take out the first two guards without alerting the two guards inside. Otherwise she will have to fight all four at the same time and the risk that one of them calls for further reinforcement is too great. At the same time she is wondering if Takashi wants to be rescued. He has compromised the mission and because of his mistake Tanaka will know someone is spying on him. He will raise security and be prepared for attacks. Takashi will feel terribly ashamed. It will be up to Takai to restore his confidence.
Santana has her plan ready. Carefully she moves closer to the guards. She sizes them up and assesses their height and weight. Then she makes a dash towards them. Just as she is upon the nearest guard, she leaps up and the overside of her right foot connects with his head. The very next second she turns in the air and she grabs the garrotting string with both hands before looping it around the other guard’s neck. Then she pulls tight. Her biceps flex and her knuckles turn white. She’s thankful she doesn’t have to look at his face. It doesn’t take long but it feels like an eternity before the man falls and joins his fellow guard on the ground. Santana stills and listens. There are no sounds of footsteps.
The next step is trickier. Opening the door will alert the guards inside and she doesn’t know where they’re positioned. She has to improvise completely. She takes another deep breath as she puts her hand on the handle. Then she pushes the door open steps inside and closes the door behind her. It takes her a second to scan the room. One of the men is standing by the cage, the other is sitting in the left far corner. She draws her wakizashi and lunges for the standing man first. She sees him reaching for the hilt of his sword so she crouches down a little and spins around in order to make herself a more difficult target. As she swirls closer she stretches her left arm and the shiny blade cuts through skin, sinews and flesh. Warm blood drenches her hand and there is a sickly sweet smell in the air. The other man is on his feet now. He has taken a defensive stance and is armed with a sword. Slowly she takes a few steps closer to him, trying to read his movements. He’s waiting for her to strike first. She would like to disarm him. After that it’s easier so she lunges for his right side and her hand hits hard at the top of his shoulder to paralyse the arm. There is a muffled thud as the sword hits the floor but his left hand is in the air and he strikes her across the head. It’s not a full on blow but it still hurts and for a moment she becomes slightly disoriented. He pulls his arm back to hit her again and doing so he exposes his chest. His eyes widen in surprise and pain as he feels her thin dagger blade being driven in between his ribs. She staggers backwards away from him.
She allows herself a few moments to compose herself after the fight. She hasn’t had time to think about her actions and now is not the time either. She steels herself and blocks out her emotions. She knows she will have to process what she’s done but that will have to come later.
When she finally turns around and looks at Takashi he meets her gaze with expressionless eyes. He knows he’s battling with feelings of guilt and gratitude. Quickly she opens the cage and he springs out. Carefully she opens the door, making sure there is no surprise attack outside the hut. Then they move swiftly in the shadows towards the west wall. They lower themselves towards the ground so fast they feel the friction burn through the cloths they use to protect their hands. Once on the ground they run. Santana feels the air sting as she draws shallow ragged breathes as she presses on. She doesn’t know for how long they run but they want to put as much distance between themselves and the Tanaka compound as possible before they rest.
Eventually they are forced to rest. Their bodies simply won’t carry them further. Shielded by shrubbery they lie down on the ground to rest. Fighting to gain control over her breathing, Santana stares up at the stars. She and Takashi still haven’t spoken. She knows he wants to tell her she should have left him in the cage but at the same time he is grateful to be alive. He would not have feared death but wants to be alive.
A little before dawn they find the place where they left their clothes. They get changed and continue on to the village to fetch their horses. To their great advantage, Tanaka’s men will most likely be searching for a man travelling alone or two men. However, they prefer not to be seen as Santana is a gai-jin and easy to recognise and describe.
The journey back to the Kawada compound is uneventful, something both Santana and Takashi are thankful for. Exhausted they leave their horses at the stable and walk back towards their quarters. A group of young women pass them on the path. They are dressed in beautiful kimonos and their hair is done up in intricate beautiful dos. Santana and Takashi can only see the women from behind but they both notice that one of them is clearly taller than the others and her hair is golden blond like ripe wheat.
Rating: PG-13 (may change later on)
Words: ~1 800
Spoilers: None, completely A/U
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Eight year old Santana has been washed ashore in Japan. She is found by an old man who happens to be a ninja master. She grows up to become a shinobi, a ninja.
A/N: I am so sorry for the long delay of this chapter. Real life collapsed during the summer and I’m only now crawling out of the debris. Anyway, here is chapter two. It’s a bit shorter but I promise the next update won’t take as long. Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment. =)
chapter 1 chapter 3
He gathers them in the great hall. They sit in rows. Takai is at the front of the room, facing them.
“As you know, Lord Kawada is warring with the Tanaka clan and we have always held ties to the Kawada clan. Kawada-sama has now asked for our aid. I have told him he will have it. Initially, we will move into the Kawada compound, learn more of the situation, protect the compound and eventually strike against Tanaka. We leave at dawn.”
Santana feels her heart pounding in her chest. They’re going on a mission! She’s going to put her skills to the ultimate test. She feels adrenaline rush trough her body. She glances over to Koichi. His eyes are glowing. He’s feeling what she’s feeling.
Back in her room she opens her wardrobe and carefully takes out clothes to pack. She bites her lower lip as she reaches for the black hood. She’s a shinobi . Anyone who sees her wearing the hood will know this. She packs her utility belt, the black shirts and the trousers. She also packs kimonos. Takai prefers she dresses in women’s clothes outside the village.
They set out at dawn, leaving in smaller groups, clothed as ordinary peasants. She has a bag slung over her shoulder and she carries a staff in her left hand. Takai walks a few steps ahead of her. He knows she can handle herself but he feels better keeping her by his side. She watches him walk. His back is straight and his gait is that of a young man’s but he is old. His tan skin looks paper thin, his hair is white and she has noticed that he eats less. She knows better than to fuss with him though.
The sun is blazing out of the sky as they progress through the landscape. It reminds Santana of that time when she was a little girl, frightened and lonely in a foreign land. She remembers how strange the village looked. She remembers the odd sensation of sleeping on the floor on a futon, getting used to the salty flavours of soy sauce and dashi. It was ten years ago. She wonders what her mother looks like now. Does she have grey hair? Does she wonder where Santana is? Dejectedly she thinks her mother must think she is dead. Her poor mother. She thinks her daughter is dead! Juan and Jose, they’re men now. She imagines they’re handsome. Anna, her little sister. She was cute as a button. Is she a young beauty now, fending off suitors? Her papá. She closes her eyes for a moment.
She’s brought from her reveries by the sudden sound of screams. Five men come running straight at them, screaming loudly.
“San-chan! Stay behind me!” Takai’s voice is a little tense.
The five men are only twenty meters away from them, closing in fast. She can see they are masked and armed with knives and sickles. Robbers.
Koichi steps up in front of the group. She senses how tense he is. Takeshi has taken a defensive stance. Takai is just standing there, walking staff in hand.
“Give us your money! Don’t try to be brave. Give us all your money and any valuables you’re carrying!” barks one of the robbers.
“Just let us pass. We are poor farmers. We do not carry anything of worth and just want to be on our way,” Koichi says calmly.
“Give us what you’ve got! We know you have something!”
Koichi makes a sudden move and steps behind the robber and hits him hard where the neck meets the shoulder. The robber’s knees buckle and he falls sideways. Two of the robbers head straight for Santana but before they can reach her Takai has moved in between them and his protégé. It’s like they never saw him move but suddenly one of the robbers is on the ground screaming. He is clutching his left shoulder with his right hand. The other is still moving towards Santana. As he is about to reach out his hand to grab her, she steps to the side, leaps up in the air and as she lands, her elbow connects with a point just below his neck. He makes no sound as he falls. She lands on her feet and follows up with a stance standing over him, ready to strike again. He stays still on the ground and after a while she takes a step back. She looks up at Takai who has been watching her closely. There is a faint trace of sadness in his eyes but also relief.
Takeshi drags the robbers to the side of the road and ties them together by the thumbs. That way it will take them a good while to break loose.
Santana and Takashi want to discuss what just happened. They want to talk about their moves and how easily they defeated the robbers but they dare not in the presence of Takai. They know he takes no pleasure in violence even though he has dedicated his life to making them deadly. She has tried to understand him and she thinks she knows how he reasons. She has tried to see things that way too and sometimes she thinks she does but right now she’s on a high. A grown man came charging at her with intent to hurt her and she defeated him with ease. She’s not just good in the dojo, she’s actually good.
They walk all day and continue into the night. As they walk in silence they can hear the sound of the cicadas chirping in the tall grass and the rattling of animals moving in dark. Eventually they can see the town where Lord Kawada lives. The compound is located at the edge of the town, up on a small hill. The main building towers above them and there is a wall surrounding the perimeter. Santana has never seen such an impressive looking building before.
Takai leads them up the hill and makes their presence known at the gates. They are escorted by a group of serious looking men carrying katanas. Santana wonders if they are samurais. She assumes they are. They wear expensive clothes and their posture tells her that they are strong and confident. They are shown to their quarters while Takai is escorted to what seems to be the main building. Santana assumes he is going to meet with Lord Kawada.
Their quarters are spacious and comfortable. There are several rooms and a large bath section. There are many scrolls on the walls. Old poems and quotes. She recognises a few of them. Through the years, Takai has made sure she is well versed in poetry and the arts and she likes to sing.
Santana finds a spot in the large room she is to share with seven of the others. She puts her knapsack down on the floor and collects her futon. She neatly lays it out on the floor before taking a quick bath to get her body heat up again. Once she has tucked herself in under the heavy covers she allows her mind to wander. She’s thinking about the assignment, about fighting men who will seek to kill her. She imagines how they will quietly celebrate their victory afterwards. Takai will not condone their celebration but she knows the young men will want to as much as she will. She knows she needs to stay sharp and alert the next day. She has to sleep, dawn is only a few hours away. She flips over to lie on her belly and within minutes she is asleep.
When Santana wakes the next day, most of the group is already up and getting ready to face the day. Young maids bring them hot soup and rice for breakfast. They quickly fold away their futons and eat their food. Then Takai gathers them in a room.
“Today, we are going to study. We must learn as much as we can about Tanaka, his compound and his men. When we strike, it is imperative that we are as prepared as possible. Tomorrow, I want two of you to travel to Tanaka’s town to scout and gather additional information but only after we have reviewed all information available to us at this time. Then we will know what we need further knowledge about.”
Takai fetches a large scroll and hangs it on the wall. It is a map of Tanaka’s compound. Systematically they go through the whole compound bit by bit. They memorise, analyse and review. They take their meals in the room and don’t leave until long after sunset. Santana’s head aches and her whole body craves rest. As she sinks into the bathtub she feels her body relax in the warm water and sighs contently. She looks at herself. She is slender and the contours of her muscles are visible. Her left forearm is slightly wider than her right since she is left-handed. She wonders what tests her body will be put to in the coming days. She wonders if anyone will ever see her like this, touch her naked body and caress it. She hopes so but she can’t imagine what that someone would look like. It would certainly not be any of the young men she’s been training with. She thinks of them all as her brothers and she can’t imagine Takai would approve.
The next day they gather in the large room again.
“Like I said yesterday, I would like two of you to travel east to Tanaka’s compound to gather more information. I have decided that Takashi and Santana are to go. There are horses ready for you at the stables. Your assignment is to complement our information in accordance with what we discussed last night. I want you back here by sunset tomorrow. Travel today during the day, rest when you get close and work at night.”
Takashi and Santana rise, bow to Takai and leave the room to pack a small bag each. They’re to travel in ordinary clothes but by the time they enter Tanaka’s compound they will be in their shinobi outfits. Hood and all. Then they go to the stables. Santana is given a tall beautiful chestnut coloured mare. Her fur is smooth and shiny and she has large kind eyes. Takashi is given an equally beautiful black mare.
They lead their horses out of the stables and mount. Santana’s heart is pounding hard in her chest. They let the horses walk until they reach the end of town. Santana and Takashi give each other a look and nod at each other. Then they shorten the reins and squeeze their heels into the sides of their horses.
Rating: PG-13 (may change later on)
Words: ~4 400
Spoilers: None, completely A/U
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Eight year old Santana has been washed ashore in Japan. She is found by an old man who happens to be a ninja master. She grows up to become a shinobi, a ninja.
A/N: I don’t really speak Japanese so please excuse any mistakes in the Japanese phrases. I know it’s not customary to use the –desu form when speaking to children but I want Takai to be strangely polite to her when they first meet.
Many thanks to my awesome betabasisforming
chapter 2 chapter 3
She runs through the corridor as fast as she can. The scream had come from the room farthest away. As she reaches the door she comes to a perfect standstill and takes a quick look around. There is no one else in the corridor. She reaches for her wakizashi, and with a swift movement she slides the shoji door open.
He has an arm around the woman’s waist. His other hand is covering her mouth. Her blue eyes are wide open in fear.
Santana acts on instinct. The shurkien leaves her hand before he sees her. There is a faint squelch as it hits its mark in his left eye. The strong poison enters his bloodstream immediately, and she rushes forward towards him as his arm loosens its grip of the blonade’s waist. He staggers backwards before slumping to the floor without a sound. She presses her shin against his mouth and muffles any sound he tries to make. His arms flap a little but the poison is already taking effect. A few moments later his eyes roll back in his head and his body is forever still.
The blue eyed woman doesn’t move. She just stares. Santana feels her heart pounding in her chest, as much from the sprint as from the scene in the room.
Those eyes. Santana has never before seen anything like them. They’re so blue. They’re mystifying. For a moment she can’t stop looking at them. They lock gazes with each other for what feels like an eternity, then she remembers where she is. With a last glance at the blond woman she turns around and silently leaves the way she came.
There is water everywhere! It washes up over the railing and crashes onto the deck, pushing and pulling her in all directions. She tries to hold on to a rope by one of the masts but her hands are slipping. The water pulls so hard and it’s so cold. The wind tears at her clothes and her wet hair whips her face. Where’s her papá? She hears the men shouting and screaming but she can’t hear her papá.
The ship rocks violently tilting from one side to the other. It’s getting harder to hold on to the rope. Her small fingers are turning white. She thinks she’s crying but she’s not sure. Her face is wet anyway.
“Papá,” she cries out. “Papá, help! Papá!”
Then the ship tilts even more to the side and she loses her footing. Barrels, ropes and boxes come sliding down the deck and plunge into the water. She’s hanging from the rope as the waves wash over her and she gulps for air. She mustn’t let go. She has to hold on! Her wet clothes feel so heavy and they cling to her body. They feel so cold. There’s water in her eyes and water in her mouth. Suddenly, the water engulfs her.
And then there is just darkness. Wet darkness.
She feels two fingers pressing against her neck and senses the presence of someone crouching down next to her. She hears a low voice mutter something she doesn’t understand. Slowly, she opens her eyes.
The sun is shining brightly out of the sky and she’s looking at a face. A pair of dark eyes are calmly looking at her. She thinks he’s old, but she’s not sure. His hair is grey and his eyes look strange. They’re almond shaped and it looks like he has no eyelids. His skin is the colour of bronze, not completely unlike hers. He keeps looking at her. She wants to say something but her lips would not form any words. She closes her eyes again. She is so tired.
He says something again. It sounds strange- Choppy, somehow. She’s never heard anyone speak like that before. He doesn’t sound angry, though she’s too tired to be afraid anyway.
When she wakes up again, he’s sitting next to her. He smiles and says something. She slowly sits up and finds she’s on a beach. It is still bright and the water looks calm and peaceful, nothing like the raging scary sea of the night before. Half of her dress has dried in the sunlight, but the part that has been pressed against the sand is still wet and the sand sticks to it. Her arms and legs are full of bruises and she’s really thirsty.
“Where is my papá?” she asks the man.
“Eh?” He looks at her and answers in the strange language.
“My papá? I want my papá.” She tries to hold back the tears but they well up and spill out of her eyes.
The man shakes his head and makes soothing noises while holding up his hands waving them slowly in front of her. She understands that he’s telling her not to cry. Swallowing hard, she wipes her face with the back of her hands.
“Who are you?” she asks.
He cocks his head to the side a little and looks at her questioningly.
“I’m Santana,” she sobs, pointing at herself.
“Santana…” he repeats. Awwh. Hm.. So desu. Watashi wa Takai desu. Hai. Takai.” He nods his head and puts his palm to his chest.
“Takai?” She has stopped crying.
“Hai! Hai. So desu. Watashi wa Takai desu. Anata wa Santana-chan desu.” He pronounces her name San-ta-na. The man beams at her. She nods and gives him a small smile.
Then she remembers how thirsty she is, and tries to make gestures to show him. She raises her hand, forming it like she is holding a cup before tilting it in front of her mouth. Takai nods and stands up, pointing towards a small path that leads away from the beach.
Slowly, she rises to her feet. Her right leg hurts a little and she sees that her dress is torn in several places. Then, she looks around for her father but the beach is empty. There is just sand and rocks.
They walk for a while. To Santana it feels like they’ve been walking forever, but in reality it may have taken them about half an hour to reach a small fishing village. The duration of the walk was held in companionable silence. On Santana’s part, it was mainly because she doesn’t know how to speak to Takai.
He notes that she doesn’t complain. Instead, she is stoic and proud. What a peculiar child. Something bad had obviously happened to this little girl. He found her alone and half drowned on the beach. And she’s a gai-jin, a foreigner. She must have arrived on a ship, but where is the ship and where are the sailors?
They enter the busy village and make their way over to a ryokan, an inn. Takai talks to a lady who shows them to a small room. She leaves them but promptly returns with cups of water, which Santana drinks greedily. The water tastes sweet and soothing. Takai holds out his cup towards her. With a brief, thankful smile she accepts the cup and drains it. When she’s done she stares wide eyed at the walls and doors and the strange soft floor. Takai has taken off his shoes and motioned to her to do the same. Her feet tread on the tatami mat. The room is strangely bare. She’s used to rooms full of furniture and paintings and carpets on the floor. In this room, there is only a small low table. There is one painting on the walls, and it doesn’t really look like a painting. It looks like someone has drawn black inky swirly lines with a paintbrush.
Takai leaves the room while she is standing in the middle of the floor, just looking at the strange room. He returns after a few minutes and beckons for her to come with him. She follows him down a corridor and into another room, which has a wooden floor and a large bathtub in the middle of it. It has been filled with hot water and she can see steam rising from the surface.
Takai makes a gesture towards the tub.
“Do so,” he says. She understands he wants her to take a bath. She nods at him and he quietly leaves the room.
She undresses until she stands shivering naked on the floor. Gingerly she climbs into the tub. The water is hot, but not too hot. It has a faint scent of flowers and herbs. When she sits down the surface comes up to her shoulders. She feels her body relax and she leans back. When she closes her eyes, pictures of the ship form in her mind. Of her sitting at a dinner table with her father and the other officers. Her playing on deck with the crewmembers. Her father tucking her in at night and saying evening prayers together. She misses her father. So much. She sniffs quietly as tears roll down her face and fall to become one with the bathwater. This is such a strange place. Everything looks different; everything smells different. The people all have black hair, except the older men and women who have grey or white hair. Their eyes look like Takai’s and she doesn’t understand what anyone is saying. She wishes she could speak their foreign tongue. She wants to go home. She misses her room and her toys.
She stays in the bath until the water turns cold. Then she gets up and finds a towel and a clean cotton robe that has been placed on a stool. She notices that her skin has gotten all soft and smooth from the bath. It smells faintly of the herbs. She puts on the plain yukata and rolls up the sleeves that are much too long for her, then proceeds to find her way back to the room.
When she gets there, she sees Takai sitting on the floor in front of the table. There is a pile of papers, a paintbrush and a small inkwell on the table top. He gestures for her to sit next to him before passing her the brush. He has drawn a ship on a piece of paper. The man points to it and looks at her.
“Santana-chan?” he says.
“Did you come here on a ship? Did your ship sink in the storm? Do you know if anybody else survived?” He asks her these questions but at the same time, he knows she doesn’t understand what he’s saying.
She thinks she understands what he’s saying. He wants to know if she was on a ship. He wants her to draw what happened.
She dips the tip of the brush in the black ink and begins to draw.
After a light meal Takai opens a cupboard and takes out two futons, laying them out and placing heavy covers on them. The child kneels and clasps her hands together, bows her head and starts mumbling something. When she’s finished she gets under the covers. Within minutes her breathing has evened out and he can conclude that she has fallen asleep.
He smiles to himself and picks up the pile of drawings. There are pictures of her and two people he assumes are her parents, and three siblings. In one of the pictures it says “8 años” above Santana. He guesses she is eight years old. It appears she has a dog. He smiles again. There is a picture of her and her father onboard a ship. Then there are pictures of the storm. Waves that wash over the ship; men in the water waving their arms with their mouths open. He imagines her alone and afraid on a ship about to sink. She must have been terrified. Yet she seems so calm and collected now. She is a most intriguing little girl.
With that last lingering thought, he puts the lantern out and goes to bed.
The next day they both wake up early. Santana braids her hair and washes her face in a basin. She is still wearing the yukata with a wide belt to hold it in place as her own dress is too torn to wear. The ryokan-lady comes to their room with a tray filled with food. There is soup, noodles, fried fish, rice and toasted seaweed. There are also cups of tea. Along with the food, there are four wooden sticks on the tray. Takai picks up two and holds them in his hand and starts eating when he notices the girl is staring at him. She carefully picks up the other two sticks and tries to hold them like he does. He helps her adjust the chopsticks in her small hand.
“Hashi,” he says and points to the chopsticks.
“Hashi,” she repeats and he nods at her.
She drops some of her food. The hashi won’t move the way she wants them to but she manages to get some breakfast into her.
The lady has also left them a bundle filled with food. Takai puts it in his bag and lets her know it is time for them to go.
They set out in the morning sunlight heading away from the coast up towards the mountains. She looks back towards the glittering sea, one thought forming in her head.
They pass endless fields and head through luscious green woods. They walk for three days, spending each night at a ryokan. It’s always the same. They have supper, and then she has a bath. When she comes back, Takai goes for his bath. Then they draw each other pictures, telling one another things about themselves. When they’re done, he makes their futons and she goes to bed while he stays up a little longer. She feels safe lying under the heavy cover, watching him sit by the table in the soft light from a lantern.
He’s teaching her words in his language and she soaks them up like a sponge. On the second day she starts stringing words together. He thinks she’s a remarkable child.
She likes him. He is so calm and he is kind to her. He never gets impatient. From his drawings she has gathered he lives in a village in a big house with other people. She thinks he is some kind of teacher.
He has started shortening her name. He calls her San-chan.
On the fourth day they reach his village. It’s located at the top of a hill and the climb up is steep. Her feet are so tired. He has explained they are in an area called Iga.
She notes that people greet Takai by bowing. She’s seen other people bow to each other along the way. They walk through the village up towards a large house. When they reach the door he holds up a hand.
“Chotto matte, San-chan.” She understands that he wants her to wait for a moment. He removes his shoes and disappears into the house.
She stands on the wooden deck and looks around. The village looks like many of the other villages they have passed through. The people are dressed in plain but tidy clothes. They look neither poor, nor rich. She’s still wearing her yukata. It needs a wash.
Takai returns and beckons her to enter the house. He leads her through winding corridors until he stops in front of a door. He slides it open and holds out his hand to show her inside. There are several scrolls on the wall. She knows now that the swirly lines are writing. There is a table and a few shelves. There is a large cupboard alongside one of the walls. She knows that is where Takai keeps his futon and bedcover.
They have supper around a large table with five other men. One of them is very old. Santana secretly stares at him when no one is watching. She thinks he looks like he’s a hundred years old. His hair is white, and so is his thin beard. His face is filled with wrinkles and he has bushy eyebrows. Takai tells her his name is Kato-sensei. They dine on rice, pickled vegetables, tofu and omelettes. She still struggles a little with her chopsticks but she manages to eat until she’s full. The men talk and she understands a few words here and there. Eventually she gets bored and she feels how tired she is after their long journey. She whispers to him that she’s tired.
He excuses them both and she understands he’s telling Kato-sensei that he will be back.
He escorts her to the bathroom and leaves her while she bathes. He returns twenty minutes later to take her back to the room. He has laid out their futons on the floor. Sleepily, she says her evening prayers and climbs into bed and he pats her goodnight. He leaves the small lantern lit and leaves to rejoin the men in the other room. She falls asleep almost immediately, and dreams of gliding through the water on a ship.
She wakes in the morning as he enters the room. He’s carrying a tray with rice and a simple soup. She rubs the sleep out of her eyes, then moves over to the small table. There is a small pile of clothes on the floor. He points to them and then to her. Two sets of undergarments and two clean yukatas. After breakfast she changes into clean clothes and as soon as she is done, he rises and beckons her to follow. They leave the house and walk a short distance to another building. It’s large and it’s all one big room.
“Dojo,” he says.
Soon a bunch of boys start to pour in. They all bow deeply in front of Takai. Then they stand in straight lines, facing their teacher. When it seems the last of them has positioned himself, Takai looks at them. Santana notes that the youngest boys must be about her age while the oldest is at least three heads taller than she is.
Takai calls out loudly and the boys reply in unison while they take a step forward and make hitting movements with their arms and hands. Takai calls out again and the boys make more movements. It’s like a stop-start dance. Santana sits in a corner and watches. After only a few minutes she finds herself mimicking the boys arm movements. She concentrates on getting the movements right. It’s a bit hard to remember in which order to do them.
At a break Takai tells her she can look around in the village but she wants to stay. Not only is she reluctant to go somewhere without him, but she also wants to watch the boys train.
In the afternoon the younger boys leave the dojo and older boys arrive. Santana decides to go explore the village for a while after all.
She draws in the scents of the village. It smells of grass, animals, earth and smoke. Similar, but so different from where she comes from. Everything here looks so different, but when she thinks about it, it’s really quite similar to home. Home.. She feels a lump in her stomach. Mami.. Juan, José, Anna. Her dog Pepito. She misses them something awful. As she walks through rice paddies and wheat fields, she gazes at the distant mountains and listens to the birds. Home seems like a million years ago. Almost like it was only a dream. She knows she is in a place called Nihon but she doesn’t know where in the world that is.
Days pass. Weeks pass. Eventually it’s summer again.
Each day, she follows the same routine. In the morning, she accompanies Takai to the dojo and watches the boys train. In the afternoon she goes for a walk. Some of the villagers recognise her now and sometimes she stops to talk to some of them. Her sentences are short and simple. A lot of the time it’s mainly greetings but it cheers her up when people wave at her and call “Hi San-chan!”. It makes her smile and she waves back.
In the evening after supper, Takai tutors her. He teaches her more words and she’s learning to write too. It’s hard! There are so many lines to remember and it’s difficult to get them to look good. Writing with a brush is also harder than writing with a quill.
It’s late afternoon when Takai unexpectedly comes back to the room to fetch a scroll. He’s expecting Santana to be out on one of her walks, but instead she’s in the room, standing in the middle of the floor with her back to him. Her legs are slightly bent and her arms move swiftly through the air in a long series of complicated moves. He stills. She takes a step forward, still moving her arms. Her posture is straight and she’s perfectly balanced. She finishes the routine, lets her arms fall to her sides and bows deeply.
She must have sensed his presence. Slowly she turns around and her eyes meet his. She feels embarrassed and blushes a little.
“Have you revised your homework for tonight?”
“Yes Takai-san,” she replies, still looking a little flustered.
“Good. Good.” He gets the scroll and leaves again.
‘She’s such a serious child,’ he thinks to himself. He wonders if she was like that before the voyage.
The next morning they follow their usual morning routine. Takai fetches them breakfast while Santana washes and puts the futons away. Eating with chopsticks isn’t hard any more. After she has finished he looks at her.
“San-chan…” He gets up and grabs something from out of a chest. “San-chan, put these on.” He hands her a small pile of clothes.
As she unfolds the cotton garments she realises it’s a gi, work out clothes. The same as the boys wear in the dojo. She looks up at Takai with a question in her eyes.
“Today, you start training with the boys, San-chan.”
She tears off her yukata and puts the gi on. It fits her well. She tightens the belt around her slender body. Then she suddenly stops.
“Takai-san, what will the boys say? And is it ok with Kato-sensei?”
“Yes. Don’t worry. And from now on you call me Takai-sensei or just sensei, like the boys.”
“Yes sensei.” She bows before him.
She feels a little shy taking a spot on the floor in the dojo. She’s watched the boys train so many times she doesn’t have a problem following the routines. He notices the fluidity in her movements.
There is a taste of blood in her mouth but she keeps running. It’s heavy going in the tall grass and the hill is steep. She can hear him panting behind her and she pushes herself to the limit. She can’t let him catch her. She nearly trips but scrambles to regain her balance and keeps running. She’s almost there, just a little bit further. The muscles in her legs are screaming but she ignores them, forces them to take the next step. She’s so close now. She holds out her hand and there! She’s grabbed the flag!
She drops to her knees and lets herself fall over and lies on her back, gasping for air.
“You are the most stubborn person in the whole world San-chan!” Koichi laughs and lies down next to her, panting heavily.
“You’re just slow Koichi. I keep fit. You should try it sometime.” She sticks her tongue out at him. He slaps her on the shoulder and laughs.
“It’s not fair. You’re so much lighter than I am.”
“Maybe you should try eating less nabe so you don’t get so fat.”
“I’m not fat!” He pulls up his shirt and exposes his stomach. His abdominal muscles show clearly in two neat rows. Look! No fat!” He pinches at the skin. There isn’t a trace of fat.
She sits up and looks at him, serious now.
“Sensei says there may be a mission soon. He’s been talking to Lord Kawada. He wants to defeat Lord Tanka one and for all and rumour has it he may call in aid from Iga. I want to go on this mission. I want to do what I’ve been training for all these years.” He can see the determination in her eyes.
He looks at his unusual best friend. Not only is she a girl, she is also a gai-jin and on top of that, she’s a fully trained ninja. They’ve been training together since they were nine. He was the first of the boys to talk to her when she joined them. At the time, her Japanese had been faltering and she was usually very quiet. She hadn’t been unfriendly, just… reserved. He knows she’s very pretty but he has never really thought of her in that way. Even if he had, she is the shoinin’s, the ninja master’s daughter. He has more sense than to go there. In fact he’s often asked for her advice about girls and she dresses like a boy most of the time. She almost always wears her hair in a long tight braid, her skin is browner than his. She is slender and quite small in stature but he knows how toned she is. She is all muscle. He also knows how flexible and fast she is. Fast as the wind and she can outrun several of them. Her head is as quick as her feet. That’s what actually makes her deadly. Although her technique is excellent she does not have the strength or height of the boys but she outsmarts her opponents in combat. It’s like she can sense what their next move will be.
“Come on,” she rises to her feet and stars walking down the hill again. He follows.
“San, why do you call him sensei? He’s your dad.”
“He told me to when I started training and I don’t know, we know what we are to each other. He is my only family but you know I had a family before him. When I was Santana Lopez.” She smiles a little sadly. Lopez. The name tastes foreign in her mouth. She still talks to herself in Spanish sometimes. Just so that she won’t forget what she was but she knows words are disappearing from her vocabulary. Instead she’s perfectly fluent in Japanese and her handwriting is beautiful. Being left-handed is even convenient writing from the top down, from right to left.
Spoilers: Journey to Regionals
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Puck is trying to come to terms with his situation. He tells Quinn what he thinks their futures are going to look like.
A/N: This letter is a side note to relax_o_vision's wonderful letter suite of letters from Quinn to Beth. If you haven't
read relax_o_vision's letter suites already, do yourself a favour and read them. =) Thank you r_o_v for the encouragement! <3
This letter is Puck's last to Quinn.
Sorry about the letter the other day. I was upset. I mean, I’m still upset but I’m thinking clearer now. I wasn’t being fair to you. I guess this is hard for you too. I just feel so empty. I feel like I died a bit standing there in that hospital.
I just hope she’ll be happy. God, I’ve never wanted anything so bad in my life than for her to be happy. I just wish I could be there to see it.
But I’ll go back to just being Puck. I’ll woo the ladies, steal Rachel’s dads’ booze, do stupid things for kicks and clean rich people’s pools. We’ll see each other at school, do glee club together and mouth off at each other. You’ll think I’m kind of a loser who will never get his shit together and I’ll think you’re a sanctimonious bitch. And then we’ll finish high school. You’ll get the hell out of here and probably go to some fancy Ivy league college. I’ll clean some more pools.
And then some day I’ll be sitting in a bar watching tv or flipping through a news paper and your name will come up. Maybe you’ll be a successful lawyer or doctor or marry some filmstar. I know you’re going to go far. You’re smart and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with a will of steel like yours. But I’ll still be here in Lima. It won’t be a bad life. I mean, I’ll have friends and we’ll go out drinking, pick up chicks and talk about how we’re gonna make it big some day but we’ll all know we’re never leaving this dump.
But however far you move and however much I’m gonna stay here and be a failure, you and I will always be connected. We created a little person. The most beautiful person ever imaginable. I don’t care if her last name is Corcoran, she’ll always be a part of me and a part of you. A part of us. I will always be grateful to you Quinn, for giving me Beth. For giving me that moment when I first saw her and I was king.
Spoilers: Journey to Regionals
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Shelby is adopting Beth. Puck watches as Beth is carried away by her new mother.
A/N: This letter is a side note to relax_o_vision's wonderful letter suite of letters from Quinn to Beth. If you haven't
read relax_o_vision's letter suites already, do yourself a favour and read them. =)
I never cared much about Puck but suddenly I'm writing his letters.
I don’t know why I’m even writing you this.
I was there today. I was fucking there! I stood there hidden, watching Shelby sign the papers and walk away with Beth. My daughter. My child! Do you want to know how that felt? I don’t think you do but I’m going to tell you anyway. It felt like I was slowly being ripped apart into a thousand tiny pieces. I felt like I fell into a dark hole from where I will never be able to get up again. And it made me feel like the biggest fucking loser in the world! I am less than useless. I am nothing. Nothing!
And this…. This is supposed to be the right thing?? This is what all those fucking people meant to happen when they looked at us with pity in their eyes and smiled and said it would be the right thing to do. Well fuck them! Fuck them all!
She looked so happy. Shelby. I couldn’t help thinking that all the pride and all the happiness I felt when Beth was born, when I looked at her sleeping in her cot, all that had been sucked out of me and pumped into her. Now she gets to feel that when she looks at Beth. And me, I’m a drained empty used up shell.
It’s not fair Quinn. It’s just not fair.
Spoilers: S1 and S2 (just to be sure)
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Quinn has just given birth to Beth who is about to be put up for adoption. Puck pleads with Quinn to think the decision through again.
A/N: This letter is a side note to relax_o_vision
I think we’re making the biggest mistake of our lives.
I told you before that it is your decision and I’ll go with it. I still stand by my words but I can’t not tell you how I feel any more. She’s our flesh and blood Quinn!
I know you don’t love me and that’s ok. I don’t know how I feel about you either. Honestly, yeah, I totally wanted to get you in the sack that night but I had no idea this would be the result of it. I mean, I’m not like Brittany, I know where babies come from but you know what I mean.
I know I don’t have much to offer you. I’m a poor guy. My family is pretty messed up and my dad’s gone and all that but I’m a pretty good guy. I can work. I would work. Maybe I’ll never make the kind of money your family has but I would make sure to provide for you and Beth. Money ain’t everything. You know, we could sing her to sleep. I’d get up in the night if she’s crying. I could bottle feed her. I don’t know how to do these things but I could learn. I’d be a totally awesome dad! I’d even change her diapers.
When I stood there next to you at the hospital and we were watching our beautiful baby girl, well, that was the first time in my life that I felt truly proud of something I’d done. I felt proud of myself for having been a part in creating something so perfect. Looking at her, even just for a moment, I knew I love her. No matter what happens, I will always be her dad. And it fucking breaks my heart to think she won’t know that. It breaks me inside that I won’t be there for her when she needs me. If kids at school mess with her, I should be there to protect her. When she’s wondering who she looks like, I should be there to tell her she has grandma Puckerman’s nose and my ears. And she should be able to look at you and see that her beautiful eyes come from you. To think that some clown is going to walk her down the aisle on the day she gets married makes me want to beat him up. It should be me! She’s my daughter!
I know some other family will be able to give her things we can’t. We’re high school kids and all that shit. And sure they’ll love her. How could they not? She’s perfect. But she was ours first and we are her real parents.
You know what kills me? Thinking that some day in the future I’ll go to answer the door and some stranger is standing there saying she’s Beth. And I won’t even recognise her. And she’ll ask me why I gave her up? Why I didn’t want to be her dad? Why I didn’t fight for her? And I’ll have no answers to give her.
Don’t worry, I won’t say that. I’ll tell her we wanted a better future for her than what we could provide but in my heart, I’ll know that I have no truthful answers. Or worse, that the truth is her dad is a coward who didn’t stand up, didn’t fight and let her slip from his fingers. It’s gonna take me some time to wrap my head around this.
So I have to ask you again, are you absolutely sure this is the right thing to do? Are you sure Quinn?
That’s all I wanted to say.
Spoilers: none that I can think of
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Night after night Quinn falls asleep in Santana's arms. It feels so right, so real. But it isn't. At least not according to Santana.
A/N: Just a short Quinntana-something. Slightly angsty.
- Please leave a comment.
They lay on their backs in Quinn’s queen sized bed, looking up towards the ceiling in the dark room. Quinn rested her head on Santana’s arm. Legs touching. Sticking together.
“Will you be here when I wake up?” Why did she ask? The answer was always the same. But every so often she still allowed herself to repeat the question. Every time with the faintest hope of a different result.
“No.” The reply was short and honest. She pulled Quinn a little closer.
“Why are you never here when I wake up?”
“Because this isn’t real,” she whispered, still looking at the ceiling.
‘Yes it is. To me anyway,’ an unvoiced thought replied.
“Sleep now Q.” She wrapped both arms tightly around Quinn and rocked her gently while softly humming into blond hair.
Quinn felt the warmth of Santana’s body envelop her and she realised how tired she was. Reluctantly she gave in and relaxed. She pushed the thought of waking up alone, out of her mind. She’d deal with that in the morning. What she felt now was too good to waste.
Santana carefully untangled herself from Quinn’s limp limbs and eased herself out of the bed. Blindly she fumbled for her clothes on the floor and quickly dressed. She found an elastic band in her pocket and put her hair up in a pony tail. Holding her shoes in her hands she walked as quickly and quietly as possible through the Fabray residence. Not until she had closed the door behind her did she put her sneakers on. She hopped on her bike and cycled home in the dark.
* * *
Quinn stood in front of the bathroom mirror, studying her reflexion. Time to turn into Quinn Fabray. Little by little she created the girl she wanted to present to the world. The hair tightly pulled back in a perky high pony tail, the light make-up that suggested she cared but was still modest, the perfectly ironed Cheerios uniform. To top the image off she fastened a golden cross necklace around her neck.
‘This is what’s real,’ she whispered to her mirror self. ‘This is real.’
* * *
Santana swiftly climbed up the ladder and onto the Fabray’s garage roof. From there she could easily reach Quinn’s window and she hauled herself up like she’d done a million times before. Sitting on the window sill she watched as Quinn re-entered the room after washing and brushing her teeth in the bathroom. She looked almost boyish without make-up and her slender body dressed in boxer shorts and tanktop. Something tugged inside Santana.
She unceremoniously stripped down to her underwear and got into bed. She propped up a few pillows and leaned back with her arm held out for Quinn to snuggle up to her. Quinn crawled up and pressed the remote control to the tv, a new episode of Dexter about to start. Santana loved Dexter and Quinn loved.. Well Quinn liked Dexter too.
* * *
Quinn’s stomach quivered as Santana’s fingertips traced across the sensitive skin. Ever so lightly the Latina closed her lips around a light pink nipple. Quinn gasped. Santana’s touch feather light and gentle, so utterly contradictory to everything Santana was at school. It all made Quinn’s head spin.
“I just like it when you like it,” she simply replied when Quinn brought it up one night, lying spent and content in Santana’s arms. Santana kissed her forehead.
“Please stay the night.”
“Nah Q. Gotta get home. You know...”
“Yes, I know. This isn’t real.” Quinn stared at the ceiling and swallowed. “Kiss me.”
“That I can do.” Santana parted her lips slightly and pressed them against Quinn’s. Quinn cupped Santana’s head in her hands, closed her eyes and felt much too much.
“Lie down on your belly Q and try to go to sleep,” Santana gently instructed her.
Propped up on her right elbow, Santana lay on her side stroking Quinn’s back. Her fingers traced invisible patterns across smooth pale skin. Tirelessly the tan hand moved back and forth as Quinn’s breathing slowed down and shifted into the unmistakable sound of sleep. Certain that Quinn had drifted off, she slowly sat up. Quinn’s face looked so young and open when she slept. She could watch it for hours, except she really couldn’t. Reluctantly she got up. Santana glanced at Quinn’s back. If her fingers had been dipped in ink a moment ago Quinn’s back would have been covered with letters. “It’s too real”.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: A/U Brittany and Santana go interrailing in Europe one summer.
A/N: A truckload of thanks to jacs1010 for beta-reading and giving fabulous feedback.
- Please leave a comment.
They’ve walked all the way up to Montmartre and climbed all the steps up to Sacré-Cœur. The view of the Parisian skyline is spectacular.
They have climbed the stairs up to the second platform of the Eiffel Tower and the view from there is also breath taking. As was the climb.
“There are elevators you know”, Santana complains when they reach the first platform in the midday heat.
“The queue is too long. You can look up my skirt climbing the stairs”, Brittany chirps and winks as she heads for the next stair case.
Brittany buys a plastic miniature model of the tower to bring home to her parents. Santana hates knick-knacks but spends four dollars on a bottle of d’eau mineral in a stall with a sign that says “souvenirs”. It should have said “Daylight robbery”.
After a while Brittany starts to complain about the heat. Santana has an idea where they can go. It will definitely not be too sunny there! They find the nearest Metro-station and go to Denfert-Rochereau. From here it’s just a short walk to the entrance of l’Ossuarie Municipal, the Paris Catacombs.
They walk down the stone stairs into the catacombs. At the bottom there is an inscription on the stone portal: Arrête, c'est ici l'empire de la Mort ('Stop, this is the empire of Death'). Brittany grabs Santana’s arm.
Santana places a hand on Brittany’s arm.
“It’ll be really cool. We’ll see loads of dead Frenchmen.” She grins. She’s right. As they enter the catacombs the walls are lined with skulls and bones of Frenchmen from a long time ago. Brittany never lets go of Santana’s arm. There just might be a bruise there later. Santana is slightly creeped out too, but oh boy! Is this cool or what? She doesn’t tell Brittany she thinks it’s awesome though, seeing as Britts is already uneasy.
The next day they make their way to Musee d’Orsay. Brittany likes the photography section. Santana is quite taken by the impressionists. She loves Monet’s paintings. Really loves them. Brittany can’t help touching her left ear as she watches Van Gogh’s self portrait. While they’re on their art roll they decide to visit the Louvre too. They’ve seen “The da Vinci Code”, they know the holy grail is buried under the Louvre.
“Really! What is the big fucking deal?” Santana blurts out incredulously as she looks at the rather small painting that is Mona Lisa. Brittany really likes the Egyptian stuff.
As they enter Notre Dame, Our Lady of Paris, Santana swears this is the last bloody church she’s going to enter on this trip. She has to admit it’s a cool building though. The gothic architecture is kind of creepy in a good way. Brittany wants to know where the Hunchback lives. Can they visit him? In her head Santana makes up inappropriate jokes on the theme of being inside the lady. The words ‘spacious’ and ‘old’ come up.
After leaving Notre Dame they stroll along the river Seine hand in hand in the early evening. They pass the book stalls, draw in the appetizing scent from the restaurants and cafés and Santana supposes there may be a certain charm to this place after all. Brittany loves Paris. They make their way up through the narrow streets of Les Quartiers Latin, the Latin Quarters, and find a small restaurant with a menu they don’t understand but like the look of.
“Let’s close our eyes and point at the menu to decide what we’re ordering”, Brittany suggests and covers her eyes with one hand while the other circles above the menu that’s lying flat on the table. Santana rolls her eyes.
Santana can’t stop giggling when the waiter puts down a sizzling hot plate full of melted butter with parsley and garlic and six snails in the shell, in front of Brittany who stares in horror at her appetizer. Santana is pleased she has managed to identify the words ‘tomate’ and ‘salade’ and her starter somewhat resembles what she had in mind.
“At least you didn’t order frogs legs”, she smirks and Brittany looks even more horrified. Santana has ordered lamb chops and fries (They’re automatically French here, right?) for her main and Brittany stares down at some sort of unidentifiable stew that tastes good all the same. Best not to ask what it is. They drink red table wine just because and finish with ridiculously large portions of mousse au chocolat and coffee.
The pair of them are left panting after stuffing their faces way beyond any measure of appropriateness. Santana is convinced she needs a wheelchair to leave the restaurant.
“If you mention the word ‘food’ within the next twelve hours I’m going to throw up.” They sit for half an hour trying to gather enough strength to stand up.
Once on their feet, they slowly stroll back across the river again making their way over to the Centre Pompidou and sit amongst tourists and Parisians alike on the stone clad slope opposite the large odd building. They watch street artists juggle lit torches and listen to a woman sing accompanied by a man playing the accordion. Brittany snuggles up to Santana and puts her arm under Santana’s. Her lover slowly strokes her hair as they take in the warm Parisian evening. Being young and in love in Paris isn’t so bad.
* * *
The boat ride across the English Channel makes Brittany seasick. She throws up four times before finally falling asleep on the floor in one of the lounges. They should have taken the Eurostar train under the bloody channel but it was way more expensive than the ferry. Santana is relieved when they finally board the train again and start the last leg up to London. The baguette they brought from Paris has gone stale and is hard as a board, so Santana ditches it in a bin and hopes the British cuisine isn’t as bad as its reputation.
As the train rolls in to Victoria Station Santana is starving but Brittany is still pale with a light greenish tint from the boat ride. They take a taxi up to Bayswater where their hotel is. The room is small but comfy. Brittany has bought a London A-Z map book. Santana has grabbed a copy of Time Out.
“Look San! We’re really close to Notting Hill.” Brittany is really excited because Notting Hill is just about the only place in London she’s heard of. She’s seen the movie.
Santana lies on her belly on the bed studying Time Out. She decides they’re to dine at Jamie’s Italian in Convent Garden and then they’re going out clubbing. At a gay club! Obviously they have to go clubbing when in London. Brittany drops down on top of Santana and reads over her shoulder. Santana feels slightly flattened but Britt’s body feels so damn good against her own. She flips Brittany over and places herself on top and plants a long sloppy kiss on Brittany’s mouth. Hitting the streets of London will have to wait for an hour or so.
They take the tube to Leicester Square and stroll the short distance to the restaurant in Convent Garden. They stare at the theatre signs on the way. London’s famous West End theatres. ‘Eat your heart out Rachel Berry’, Santana thinks to herself with a small grin.
The restaurant seems mad busy and they’re given a strange little buzzer that will buzz and light up when their table is ready.
“Righ’, you’ve goh’ ten minnits to geh’ ‘ere after it buzzes. It’ll be abou’ ‘alf an hour. Ok?” They look at each other. They think they understand and nod. Santana grabs the little black plastic device and they wander off towards Piccadilly Circus.
Brittany buys a tea towel sporting a picture of the queen. It’s for her parents. Santana feels a little sorry for Mr. and Mrs. Pierce who are going to be presented with all the souvenirs when they get back home. At least they can use a tea towel.
Santana jumps when the buzzer goes off in the pocket of her jeans. Yikes!
“We’ve goh’ ten minnits”, she imitates the waiter in the restaurant. Brittany giggles and starts skipping back in the direction of Convent Garden. Santana trots after her.
Dinner is great and there is not a Yorkshire pudding in sight. Brittany has never seen one but she’s heard they’re evil. Especially floating around in gravy. She leans over across the table and whispers “San, why is the chef naked?”
Bewildered Santana looks around in the restaurant. She can’t even see a chef, let alone a naked one. Her face looks like a question mark.
“Britts, why the hell would the chef be naked?” she hisses.
“That’s what I’m asking you!”Brittany whispers back and points to a book propped up on a shelf on the wall. The cover says ‘The naked chef – Jamie Oliver’. “He’s the chef here, right? The restaurant is called Jamie’s Italian. Shall we go look?” She grins.
Santana doesn’t know where to start.
“Honey, I don’t think he’s naked and I don’t even think he’s here. He just owns the place.” Brittany pouts a little.
They finish dinner and stroll out onto the busy street and wander over to Soho. It’s still much too early to go clubbing and what do you do in the evenings in England? You go to the pub! So they do.
They find a pub that looks authentic enough. It smells strongly of beer, food and stale cigarette smoke. Santana has read that the thing to order in a pub is a pint of lager so she does. They drink their beer and try not to look like tourists. It goes so-so.
By half past eleven they reckon it’s time to head off to the club. Santana has found a place called Heaven somewhere under some arches. She’s memorised the directions from Leicester Square. They follow Charing Cross Road down to Trafalgar Square and check out Lord Nelson up on his pedestal. Brittany poses on top of one of the large lion statues and Santana takes a picture with her mobile phone. They continue down towards the river and eventually they find the tall brick arches that tower up against the dark sky. The place looks more than a little shady from the outside. Santana likes it already!
To their relief they’re admitted in. The bouncer doesn’t even look twice at them. The club is huge on the inside. There are several bars and the main dance floor is like a sea of moving people. Eighty percent of the patrons are men. Mainly quite young men.
“I wanna dance!” Brittany squeals and pulls Santana along by the hand as she heads for the dance floor.
Brittany enters the dance floor and begins to do that magical thing that makes Santana’s knees go a little weak and her mouth dry every time. Brittany becomes one with the music and moves her body with such ease and grace it leaves Santana full of love, lust, wonder and awe. Even the boys around Brittany are giving her appreciative looks. A few of the women openly stare at the beautiful blonde in her short skirt and sheer lacy top, doing her thang. Santana catches their ogling looks and she possessively moves closer to Brittany placing her hands on her girlfriend’s hips, moving with her to the beat of the music. She can’t help feeling really proud of how fucking hot Brittany looks when she dances.
‘And I, Santana Lopez, am the one who’s going to take this smoking hot girl home with me tonight and make really passionate sweet love to her ‘til she screams my name. Yeah that’s right bitches! My name’, she thinks to herself with a satisfied smirk on her face.
They catch the night bus from Piccadilly Circus. It’s a double-decker and they climb the stairs and sit at the very back.
“You looked so hot dancing tonight.” Santana let’s her eyes wander over Brittany’s body. Brittany leans in and kisses her. They make out on the bus. Santana puts her hand on Brittany’s thigh and lets it travel up under her short skirt. Brittany gasps. This spurs Santana on and pretty soon they’re both breathing hard as their kissing gets more intense.
“Oh shit! Where are we?” Santana looks up and out the window. Its pitch black. They rush down the stairs and ask the driver. They’re two stops away from Queensway where they get off and walk to the hotel. They arrive at their hotel room at four in the morning. The night proceeds according to Santana’s plans.
* * *
Brittany wakes Santana after four hours of sleep.
“San Wake Up! We have to go get breakfast! I want to try a real English breakfast.”
Santana puts a pillow over her face and makes muffled grunts that Brittany understands is a refusal to get up. Brittany jumps Santana and tickles her out of bed.
“For fucks sake!” she whines. “It’s not even nine o’clock and we’re on our holidays Britts!”
“Please come with me to breakfast! Please, please, please, pretty please!” Brittany begs. “You can go back to bed afterwards.”
Santana knows she’s not getting out of this one. Naked she stumbles over to her backpack and digs out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
Brittany squeals “Yay!” as she hugs Santana and plants a big wet kiss on her cheek.
Santana has to admit breakfast is pretty impressive and after dancing for hours the previous night they’re hungry. Eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, baked beans, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, toast and tea disappear within minutes.
“You look like you don’t eat that much but you really do!”, Brittany muses as she watches Santana mop up the last bits of egg yolk with a piece of toast.
“Ghood metabolishm. It’sch in mah genes.”
After a nap they set out again. They grin like idiots all through their ride on the huge Ferris wheel London Eye. Brittany fires off at least fifty shots with her camera. Santana only takes two pictures. They’re both of Brittany’s face as she looks down mesmerised at the city below them. They look at wax figures at both Madame Tussauds and The London Dungeon. Santana has a clear preference for the latter. They take the obligatory pictures of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Tower Bridge and try the famous fish ‘n chips.
“Are they short on paper in England?” Brittany looks at the greasy newspaper her food is wrapped in.
“No, it’s traditional. The British are quirky in that way”, Santana replies knowingly.
Brittany wants to see where the Queen lives. They take the tube to Hyde Park Corner and stroll through the park towards Buckingham Palace. They walk up to the palace gate. From there they can see the Queen’s guards in their red and black uniforms. Brittany stares wide eyed at their tall bearskin caps.
“San, what the heck are they wearing on their heads? They look like huge microphone covers“, she giggles. “The guards look like toy soldiers.” Santana rolls her eyes. Brittany takes lots of pictures.
They leave London the next day and catch a train to Holyhead.
Rating: G? PG-13? (I'm not quite sure how to rate. There isn't anything very offensive in the text anyway.)
Spoilers: Season 1 & 2
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: Part two of two. Quinn tells the story of how Santana and Brittany met and developed a friendship and more.. (I'm so crap at writing summaries.)
A/N: This story completely ignores the Lucy Caboozey story-line.
Thanks to jacs1010 for beta reading and feedback.
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High school was a jungle. Eat or be eaten. So we ate, Santana and l. We climbed the social ladder not caring too much about who or what we used as tiers. Together with Brittany we made the cheerleading team. Brittany liked it but didn’t much care about what she could accomplish by being a Cheerio. Santana and I worked it for all it was worth.
Blessing or curse, we grew up pretty. Santana’s fantastic facial structure topped by those dark smouldering eyes, a perfect body and shiny black hair, made most of the boys overly eager to impress her enough to get a date. Rumour also had it that she put out. She did sometimes but not half as often as her reputation implied. The boys she denied access were too embarrassed to say so at school anyway and would tell tales of what a hot little number my Latina friend was. It didn’t seem to bother her in the least. On the contrary she seemed to revel in the notion of being desirable. Me, I was Santana’s opposite and had a cold-bitch reputation. They wanted her because they had heard that others got to go all the way. Me they wanted because they’d heard no one had gotten to go all the way and they wanted to be first to conquer the ice-queen. That of course changed when I got pregnant. I don’t know how I would have gotten through that ordeal without my friends. Giving up my child was the hardest and maybe the worst decision I’ve ever made. But that’s another story.
Santana and Brittany had moved their relationship to the next stage even if they weren’t exclusive and didn’t think of it as a romantic relationship. They were almost inseparable in and out of school, always walking around linking pinkies. They reckoned they were best friends with benefits. But I would have had to be both blind and stupid not to know what it really was. Fortunately I’m neither. The last one to catch on was Santana and when she did, all hell broke loose.
Brittany knew. But being Brittany she mainly took it in her stride. Her mistake was calling Santana on it too early. I watched Santana panic. She lashed out randomly at people at school. She got under every boy she could find and she partied like there was no tomorrow. It all cumulated when Brittany finally got tired of waiting for Santana and found a boyfriend to go out with. Santana even challenged me at school. I’ll admit, sometimes she got to me.
Eventually she decided to spell it out to Brittany, how she felt. She was hoping her feelings and her honesty about them would sway Brittany to be in an exclusive relationship with her. To her surprise and great disappointment Brittany turned her down. She claimed she couldn’t leave her boyfriend just like that.
Another problem was that Santana didn’t want anyone to know about them. Brittany however being the most honest person in the world was not prepared to go along with the secrecy.
That day I found Santana on my doorstep crying. Her mascara had made tracks down her face and her eyes were puffy and red. She’d waited for me for two hours. I ushered her inside and into the kitchen and made her coffee.
“I know”, I said quietly, stirring the hot beverage in my cup.
“How?” she croaked.
“I’ve always known.” I shrugged. I had always known. Ever since I gained an understanding of love, I knew that Santana loved Brittany. She had loved her since that first day in third grade.
I held my friend as she cried. I tried to find encouraging things to say but we both knew there were no short cuts. I had never seen her so distraught. And I wished I could tell her the world was an understanding place. I wished so much that I could have told her that no one would be small minded enough to mock or belittle the most beautiful parts of her person. Instead all I could do was to act as her arms bearer and help her prepare for battles that would inevitably occur. But it’s hard to be a terrified sixteen year old having to face the pettiness, the ugliness and hatred in the world. I’ll give her that. She cried for her Brittany and she cried for herself. She cried out of heartache and a fear that was ripping her apart. She second guessed herself for loving. That still makes my blood boil thinking about it. My beautiful, beautiful Santana.
* * *
I watched them struggle on. It was sad to see them cast longing glances at each other when the other wasn’t looking. Santana couldn’t hide the pain in her face when she saw Brittany together with her boyfriend. If possible, she’d leave when that happened. I know it made Brittany sad. The irony of it all was that Santana always felt she was Brittany’s second choice since Brittany chose to be with Artie but in reality that was never the case. Brittany had settled for second best since she couldn’t have what she really wanted. She just tried to make the best of it.
Brittany was a lot smarter than most people gave her credit for. The girl had integrity. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to stand her ground. When she and Artie eventually broke up Santana was delighted but there was still the problem of secrecy. Brittany wanted her but she just wasn’t willing to be Santana’s dirty little secret. Those were the rules she laid down. They’d be an official couple or not at all. Brittany was disgusted and hurt when Santana even staged a fake relationship with a gay boy just to keep up appearances. It made me a little queasy too but I was too busy running for prom-queen to pay much attention to anything else at that time. Santana had such good intentions and she wanted Brittany so badly but courage failed her again and again. She had always been so good at hiding behind her bitch-facade but this time accomplishing what she wanted meant she had to expose parts of her person that she never wanted to put on display. Brittany on the other hand kept providing openings for Santana to take the plunge and come out. But she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.
I’ll never forget the look on her face that time when we all had to print t-shirts exposing something about ourselves we had a hard time coming to terms with, in big black letters across our chests. Brittany gave Santana a t-shirt that said ‘Lebanese’. It would have been hilarious if it wasn’t for the civil war it fuelled inside Santana. “Clearly you don’t love you as much as I do or you’d put this t-shirt on and you’d dance with me”, Brittany had declared when Santana hesitated to put the t-shirt on, and she stormed off. She couldn’t have been any clearer. I think that is the only time I’ve known Brittany to completely lose patience with Santana.
Eventually Santana did wear the t-shirt but she didn’t get up on stage with the rest of us in the glee club. She just sat there in the auditorium next to her gay-beard boyfriend, looking so thoroughly miserable. Still, putting the t-shirt on at all was a step in the right direction. She wanted so badly to be braver than she was. She had so much to win but she still thought she had more to lose. I tried to talk to her about it later that day but she didn’t want to discuss it. I think she was too ashamed of herself.
Then New York was next. Our glee club had qualified for nationals and we were all going to the Big Apple to compete. I remember I was pining over Finn Hudson who had just dumped me. Few things can hit harder than teenage love. I blamed myself. I shouldn’t have cheated on him the first time we were together. I think he never really trusted me again after that. Especially since I let him go months thinking he was the father of my unborn child. I know that was cruel but I was desperate. I wasn’t in love with Puck and I thought he had nothing to offer me or the baby. It turned out he was the more mature parent out of the two of us. He was prepared to become a father. I think he would have loved to keep the baby but he was too young and insecure to argue against all the overwhelming reasons as to why it would be better to put Beth up for adoption. Me, I’ll never forgive myself for what I did but that’s something I’ll have to learn to live with.
From day one I think all of us fell in love with New York. In the big city we saw how our dreams could come true. For some, the dream was to win Nationals and return triumphantly to school. To others, this was where they saw their whole future filled with opportunities and careers. To some the city held a promise of living a life without shame or hiding.
Oh gawd there was also that really embarrassing moment when I was crying over Finn, Brittany and Santana tried to cheer me up and I thought they were proposing a threesome. I still cringe today thinking about it and let me tell you, they are never going to let me live that one down.
We came in twelfth at the competition. Of course we were sorely disappointed but thinking about it now, being the twelfth best show choir in the country isn’t too damn bad now, is it?
Shortly after we returned from New York the school year ended. It had been an exhausting year I think many of us were grateful to get a break from each other. Sure, we hung out with our friends but we weren’t forced together in those cramped school corridors.
Santana and Brittany were still working on their relationship. It had put on some kind of just-friends-disguise that enabled them to hang out together. I guess they needed time. Especially Santana.
In fact, it took them years to work it all out. They both went to New York to study after high school. Brittany studied dance and Santana went to medical school. By then I had already left America to study law in Cambridge, England. I still live in the UK and work as a solicitor in London.
They dated on and off until they finally settled down together in a small dingy apartment in Brooklyn. That’s where they in earnest started a grown up relationship with dinner parties, laundry day and all that. They probably have the happiest marriage out all the people I know. Oh, yeah, they got married as soon as Santana graduated. Rachel sang at the wedding and I was Santana’s bride’s maid. Tina was Brittany’s. They had arranged for a small service on a roof top in Manhattan and the party was held in the same building. Most of our old friends from the glee club attended, members of both the Pierce and Lopez families of course and some of their new friends from New York. Brittany and Santana both looked radiant and there wasn’t a dry eye when they exchanged their vows. “…with my body I thee worship, with my heart I thee cherish...” They had chosen to use the old fashioned English marriage vows. I nearly tear up thinking about their wedding. I can see them twirling across the dance floor and the way Santana looked at Brittany with so much love and pride showing on her face. I was so happy for them!
When I first moved out here I talked to them on the phone all the time but as the years have gone by, our contact has become a little less frequent. To my shame I haven’t been to see them in LA where they live now. Last time we met was at a high school reunion in Lima two years ago.
Almost a year ago the phone rang a little after midnight. I remember I was already asleep. As soon as I picked up I heard an overly excited voice almost yelling
“Guess what Q!” Startled I sat up.
“Santana! Do you know what time it is here in England?”
“She’s pregnant! We’re going to have a baby!” It took me a moment to process the information.
“Oh my god! Oh my god!” Was all I could manage to say but I felt my face cracking up with a huge grin.
“She’s twelve weeks pregnant but she made me promise not to tell anyone until now. I’ve been bursting to tell you! We’re going to have a baby! Can you believe it? You’re going to have a little godchild Q.” She laughed happily.
“I am?” I was still not quite awake and this was a lot to take in.
“Of course you are. I just emailed you a picture of the ultra sound so you know what he looks like. Well, we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet but I think we’re having a boy. He’s due in September so make plans to come see us then.”
We talked for another few minutes before hanging up. It was hard to go back to sleep afterwards.
They e-mailed me pictures of Brittany’s growing belly every week. Santana tried to be all professional and not worry too much if Brittany got tired or had a light cold but she couldn’t help fussing over her wife. I think Brittany is going to be a really cool mom and Santana is probably going to be completely neurotic. Well at least for the first few years. I can see her being a cool mom when he’s a teenager though.
Three weeks ago I received a short text message. I was in court sitting next to my client when my phone buzzed. Awkwardly I fished it out of my purse. “He’s here! 7lb 5oz. 8:17 this morning. We’re all fine. Love ya!” and there was a picture of a small red face with piercing blue eyes. My godson!
Listen, my intention was to make a long story short but I see it didn’t quite turn out that way. I won’t keep you much longer and I have to go myself. I have a flight to catch. Today I’m heading for Paddington Station in a little while to travel on to Heathrow and fly out towards LAX. I can’t wait to see all three of them.