"This is a do-it-yourself test for paranoia: you know you've got it when you can't think of anything that's your fault." Robert M. Hutchins
Rachel was beginning to wonder if her list of enemies had grown. Between Brittany's blue stare and Quinn's whispers, she was starting to find that her relationship with Santana was sliding out of her control. If there was something Rachel hated more than not being the center of attention, it was not to feel in control of a situation.
She had spent another sleepless night, staring at her ceiling, wondering how she would manage these new people antagonizing her plan. She ended up flicking her light open and pulling out a notebook from the drawer of her nightstand. She poured her heart down on its white pages, writing the lyrics of a song meant for only her to hear. She wrote and wrote until the sun came up. Her tiredness was making her sick and she was feeling like throwing up. With time things were getting more complicated, too complicated, so complicated that it made Rachel feel nauseated.
Starless nights were more beautiful to her than the ones where the sky was illuminated by sparkling stones because only when the world was plunged into dark did it mirrored Rachel's thoughts. Star she was not, she had never been, and she would never be. She was a grain of sand lost on an endless beach. She would almost drown every time the night's ocean tide of sadness would wash over her body, but it was never enough to kill her. Every morning, the sun would always dry her up, leaving her seemingly unstained by her pain. Nobody would notice how hard she struggled to breathe and it didn't matter to her. It was better that way.
Rachel pulled out her cheerleading uniform from her closet and covered her face with a mask of beauty products.
When Rachel arrived into the locker room that morning, Santana was its only occupant. She had probably decided to come abnormally early to compensate the fact that she had missed practice the previous day. Her eyes were full of her sleep and her face was free of makeup. At the sound of the door opening, she squinted in Rachel's direction and grunted something that sounded like a "hi".
Rachel sat next to her, pressing her bare leg purposely against the other girl's. Santana stared at her from under a half-hooded stare. Her brown eyes were soft, tired, left completely unprotected by their lack of disguise. Her pulpy lips were dry, chapped, and almost seemed vulnerable. She seemed prettier or uglier- depending on who was looking- that way.
"Brittany and I used to meet up super early at school to make out in here before the others would come." She said in a low raspy voice, her breath tickling Rachel's cheek and her eyes opening a little to set free a contemplative stare.
Rachel blushed, unused to be talked in such a way by the Latina. She was also surprised because for the first time Santana had acknowledged her past relationship with Brittany.
"Weren't you scared...you'd get caught?" Rachel asked and she had to clear her throat for the words to properly come out of her mouth.
"Yeah...I was scared shitless." Santana whispered breathily, her gaze on the singer's lips. "It was part of the kick. It was, like, breaking the rules in the last place we should have. It made it twice as good."
Rachel had to blink herself out of the other girl's spell. She did not understand how the Latina did it, how her strange charisma seemed to easily envelop people into a world of confusion and wake up in people's body an artificial need to be desired by her. She was a vicious version of Venus or her son, Eros, embodied by a lust consumed woman.
"What are you thinking about?" She asked, her face leaning closer, and her dark brown eyes peering into her own.
"Kissing you," answered Rachel, trying to beat the darker brunette at her own game.
Santana caught her bottom lip under a row of white teeth.
"mmhm...Yeah?"She said, quirking an eyebrow and letting out a throaty laugh.
"Yeah," Rachel replied with firmness.
Santana anxiously rolled her bottom lip with her teeth before releasing it to take a sharp breath. She cautiously approached the other girl, her gaze flickering from Rachel's mouth to her eyes. She paused at a hair distance from the other girl's lips, gulped, smiled shakily, and hesitantly, almost shyly, kissed Rachel, lingering a little before pulling back. Her tanned cheeks had taken a dark shade of red and her gaze was darting in every direction but the other brunette's face. Rachel was surprised by how innocent the kiss had been. She had expected something more forceful, demanding, with grasping hands, but there was none of that. Even Finn had never kissed her in that way and Rachel was almost angry at Santana for being so reserved.
"You lips are dry." Rachel stated a bit more harshly than intended.
Santana scowled and got up on her feet. Only then, Rachel realized her mistake. She caught the other girl's arm before she could walk away.
"Wait," she yelped, almost desperately. She tried to cover her frustration with some lies. "I'm sorry San, I'm so sorry. I really don't know why I said that. It's just- I thought- I was- I was expecting something else. I was under the impression you were was attracted to me as much as I am to you and, when you pulled back so quickly, I thought that I had maybe foolishly imagined everything. Please, give me a chance. I'm new to this. I've never kissed a girl before you and it scares me. I'm terribly insecure about it. I make all of these scenarios in my head and-"
"Stop rambling!" Santana yelled suddenly, unhooking her arm from Rachel's hand, and bringing both of her hands to her temples. "It's so freaking annoying."
She sat in front of Rachel, crossed her arms over chest, and studied her in silence. Her eyes were filled with rage. They were searching for answers Rachel was certain she would not find. The Latina's stare wasn't nearly as piercing as usual. It was sincere, angry, but sincere. Rachel's eyes were the one wearing a mask and it was made of so many layers that even the singer could not tell true from the false. After a time, Santana sighed and looked away, breaking the tension, and the singer knew she had won.
Rachel stood up. She bent forward and used her right hand to gently lift Santana's chin.
"I'm sorry," she reiterated, smiling guiltily.
Santana did not reply. Instead, she wordlessly stared at her. Rachel knew most of her anger had dissipated, but she needed to wash it completely away. The singer pulled Santana into a kiss almost as soft as the one the Latina had given her just a moment before but much more insistent and long. Santana's arms uncrossed from her chest and wrapped around the other girl's waist, pulling her forward. Rachel's calves hit the bench and she almost fell unto Santana's laps. She broke their kiss and giggled against the Latina's cheek before climbing on the bench to straddle her thighs. After settling herself in this new position, she cupped Santana's jaw with her hands and kissed her again. The darker brunette gasped against her mouth. To play this role was much easier than Rachel had thought. It was so empowering.
"It's been such a long time since I-" Santana stopped on her trail. Rachel inched backwards, waiting for more, but the only sound coming out of the Latina's was the one of her shaky breath.
Santana tried to lean forward to resume their kiss but Rachel's hands held her back.
"Since you what?" Santana frowned, her eyes staring longingly at Rachel's lips.
"Nothing..." She whispered.
"What?" Rachel insisted, speaking in a soothing voice.
"Since I felt this way," Santana completed the earlier sentence with her eyes to the ground. She brought her hand to her ear as though she was trying to readjust her hair, but since it was already neatly pulled into a ponytail, she settled on toying nervously with her earring. Her silver bracelet was dancing under the light. "Do you- Do you have, like, butterflies when you kiss me?"
Rachel could hear the drumming of her own heart in her ears. It was not supposed to be like this. Santana wasn't supposed to sound sweet and fragile. She was a ruthless predatory bisexual girl. She was completely insensible to her lovers' feelings. Most of her actions were driven by her highly active libido. Santana was starting to fidget under her stare and Rachel had no choice but to answer.
"Yes," she replied. Santana was probably trying to do some weird power play. There was no way she could be so insecure. Then, she thought of it. Maybe Brittany knew Rachel was up to something which was why she was giving her all those looks and maybe she had told Santana. This could explain the other girl's innocent manners.
Footsteps resonated down the hallway. Rachel jumped off Santana and sat back to her previous spot. Her eyes shifted nervously towards the door.
"Hello world!" Brittany screamed as she stepped into the room. "Hi Rachel! Hi Santana!"
"Britt, no shouting at this hour, please." Santana growled and rolled her eyes. "You know how much I hate it."
"I know, I know, grumpy missy." Brittany answered before seating next to Rachel. She gave a little scolding tap on Santana's nose. The Latina scowled at the touch, but the blond ignored it completely. "So, like, did you two kiss again like I said you should do?"
The silence that followed was interrupted by a loud slapping noise. Brittany intercepted Santana's hand while it was pulling away from her reddening thigh. She held it firmly.
"I know you didn't want to hit that hard but it kind of hurts." Santana tried to wriggle her hand out of her grasp, but Brittany stood up, caught the brunette's other arm, and pinned them both behind her back. "Say you're sorry."
Santana giggled, her body writhing under Brittany's strong hold.
"Stop!"She squealed, her cheeks turning crimson, and her eyes shining like the ones of a child.
"Not until you say you're sorry."Brittany replied, trying to sound threatening, but failing miserably at it.
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry Brittz" Santana replied, laughing loudly, in an almost carefree way. Brittany released her but didn't let go of her hand. She sat back at her place.
"So..."The blond girl trailed off, looking at Rachel. "Did you two kiss again?"
Rachel glanced at the Latina. Santana had lost her smile and was now staring at her caramel fingers intertwined with Brittany's paler ones.
"Yes, we did." The singer replied.
"I think Santana has a lady crush on you." Brittany told her teasingly.
"Britt, shut up, I'm not gay." Santana sneered.
"I'm not gay either and I get lady crushes all the time and Rachel too. She totally has a lady crush on you. Don't you Rachel?" Rachel nodded uncertainly and Brittany pursued. "See! It's like super normal to have lady crushes. There's like totally no reason to cry about it...if ever, you know, someone felt like crying about it. Not that anybody does."
"'Kay, Britt, we got it."
Rachel's eyes darted from one girl to the other, wondering exactly in one world did these notoriously promiscuous girls live in. She brought her feet up on the bench in front of her. She was uncomfortable. How strangely coincidental was it that their friendship had seemed to be renewed just after Rachel had decided to kiss Santana.
She had to admit that she was starting to wonder if the two girls were playing a game with her. After all, Rachel was pretending, why wouldn't they be doing it too?
Maybe Quinn was in it too...Maybe Quinn was still doing drawings of her in her notebooks and they were all making fun of her behind her back...maybe Santana was repeating to her two friends every single word Rachel would tell her.
What if Santana and Brittany were never even attracted to one another?
Maybe they had waited to be sure that Rachel would see them kiss to do so...Maybe they had planned it all along.
What if everything she thought was real was not and she was the one being played?
The only thing Rachel knew for sure was that she was about to enter a world ruled by madness.
"Hatred is blind, as well as love." Oscar Wilde
When Rachel entered the choir room at the end of the day, she immediately felt that something was different. A heavy silence was filling the room. Finn and Puck were sitting in the back row. Their eyes were on the ceiling and they seemed profoundly bored. It was nothing unusual. Lauren was next to them, eating skittles. Mike was next to Tina, looking straight in front of him, waiting for everybody to arrive. Tina was bent forward, giggling, and gossiping with Mercedes. They were both giving side looks to Sam who was standing against the wall, looking forlornly at Quinn. That was when Rachel noticed how distant they were from one another.
"Why is Sam sitting so far away from Quinn?" Rachel whispered to Mercedes as she sat on a chair next to her.
"Haven't you heard?" Mercedes replied a bit too loudly. "Quinn broke up with him."
Rachel glanced at the head cheerleader and their eyes met briefly. There was no doubt that Quinn had been listening to their exchange. The blond girl's stare was now set on her notebook on which she appeared to be sketching a Sue Sylvester caricature. Rachel took note of how similar the drawing was to the one she had discovered on the backseat of the Cheerio's bus. Of course, that particular caricature did not represent their coach; it was an unflattering portrait of Rachel. It had been made a long time ago. Their relationship had evolved a lot since then, but it still hurt every time Rachel laid eyes on it.
"Faster Artie! Faster!" Brittany and Artie wheeled their way into the room. The tall girl seemed much better than earlier. She sported a childish grin on her face and was looking at her boyfriend in an amorous way. They rolled their way to the side and Brittany jumped off her ride. She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him one quick last kiss on the cheek before taking place on a seat right behind him. Rachel smiled at the sight. She was glad to see that their little conversation had paid off and that Brittany was able to recognize how lucky she was to have such a loving boyfriend at her side.
Mr. Schuester entered a few seconds later and closed the door behind him. He started to explain the assignment of the week and Rachel barely listened. She didn't want anyone to know how she felt, she kept everything to herself, it wasn't safe to show glimpses of herself, and sang mostly only to herself at home. She didn't feel free to be herself in glee club anymore. She was too lost for that.
Someone knocked at the door and, before someone could react, Santana barged into the room. She was out of her cheerleading uniform which made it clear that she had spent the entire day ditching class. She was wearing boyfriend jeans that were hanging loosely around her hips and a tight soft beige blouse patterned with very small triangles of various colors. Her heels were impossibly high which, to someone as small as Rachel, made her seem incredibly tall. Her hair was tied in a mid-low ponytail and straight bangs were shading her eyes which made her even harder to read than usual. She was wearing makeup, a massive amount of makeup. Her foundation made it impossible to see any flaws in her face which made her seem alien, emotionless: inhuman. Her lips were shiny and almost viscous under the amount of lip-gloss covering them. Around her right wrist was a silver chain- a friendship bracelet- that Rachel hadn't seen in months. It matched perfectly the one Brittany had never stopped wearing around her own. The singer's heartbeat quickened anxiously when she recognized it.
"Thank you for joining us Santana," Mr Schuester said, breaking the silence provoked by her sudden appearance. "I'm glad you could make it. I heard you were sick. I hope that singing with us will make you feel better."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever…" Santana glanced at her teacher and rolled her eyes before giving a circular look around the room. Her eyes fell on the only free chair, between Quinn and Rachel, her usual spot. She scowled, crossed her arms over her chest, and walked towards her seat, her hips swaying proudly under her steps.
Quinn swiftly shifted her body toward the brunette and whispered something to her. Rachel tried to decipher what she was saying, but the head cheerleader was muffling the sound of voice with her hands in a way that made it impossible for anyone that wasn't Latina to hear. Santana smirked and snorted.
"Really?" She asked, sounding deeply amused. Quinn nodded vigorously before pulling back, giggling and gently nibbling her bottom lip under her friend's mocking gaze.
Rachel's heart sank. She felt left out. She should probably have worked more on gaining Quinn's friendship, but the head Cheerio was even harder to approach than Santana. She was cold and calculating. She wasn't as gratuitously mean as the dark brunette, but she chose her friends in a very selective manner. No matter how hard Rachel tried, she never seemed to be able to fall into this category. It wasn't that she wanted to befriend the other girl. She was just uncomfortable to know that Santana had a relationship with someone that fell completely out of her control. She also disliked the fact that –while completely ignoring her- the Latina was giving so much attention to her other friend.
Rachel sighed and tried to focus on Mr. Schuester who was gesturing in exaggerated motions in front of the group, but all she could hear was her two classmates murmuring to one another. She felt like interrupting them to point out how rude they were. The slight noise they were making was buzzing in her ear in a way that was deeply irritating. Her frustration was growing by the minute and was feeling like running away from the room, away from the horrible feeling emerging in the pit of her stomach. She didn't notice that she had been subconsciously scratching her right arm until Mercedes grabbed her hand to stop her.
"What the hell are you doing?" The black girl told her and Rachel's gaze dropped on the dark red patch across her skin.
Everybody turned towards them and the singer blushed under their stare. Santana nervously glanced her way for the first time that day before looking away and Rachel felt her heart stop.
"I think I have a rash. I must be allergic to something." The words came out of her mouth awkwardly.
Her declaration was followed by an uneasy silence. Then, Mr. Shuester cleared his throat, bringing the attention back to himself and everything was forgotten. At least, the two Cheerios had stopped talking. Their moment had been broken and they were now both staring at the front. Quinn had her limbs wrapped around the legs of her chair. Her feet were pointing gracefully to the back and a crooked smile was twisting the corner of her mouth. Santana's eyebrows were furrowed. Her feet were tapping at an irregular rhythm on the floor. She seemed to be chewing her cheeks alternatively and her hands were gripping the sides of her chair.
Rachel hated this situation. It was beyond awkward. She probably shouldn't have made that move the previous day. It was too early. Santana did not trust her and their seemed to be no way to cross the sudden gap between them. As subtly as she could, Rachel tried to move her chair closer to her. The darker girl noticed it and her features hardened. The singer waited until the Latina's attention was to the front before attempting anything else. When Santana's expression seemed to relax a bit, Rachel extended her fingers, separating the distance between her hand and the other girl's, and grazed it shyly. Santana's grip on her chair grew so hard that her knuckles turned white. Rachel took a deep breath. She stayed still until she was certain that the other brunette wouldn't pull away from her touch and when it seemed sure that she wouldn't do so she let her finger's gently brush the back of the caramel hand. Santana's mouth twitched nervously and her body stiffened. She closed her eyes for a second or two before slowly opening them and turning her gaze towards Rachel. The singer gaped, flushed, and her heart stammered anxiously against her chest. She was surprised, shocked, by the large amount of struggling emotions reflected in the other girl's stare. Fear was the most preeminent of them all. Rachel gulped and her eyes grew wide.
For a second, she almost forgot how much she hated the girl in front of her.
For a second, she almost forgot where she was and why she was there.
For a second, she lost herself in that terror and it almost became her own.
Santana looked away, breaking the spell. Rachel shook her head, trying to erase those fearful brown eyes from her mind, and tried her best to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall of her own. Her vision became blurry. She didn't want to know that fear existed. It scared her because it shouldn't have. She chased her tears away with a swift hand motion and her gaze shifted anxiously around the room. She caught a flash of blue and had to hold back a gasp. Brittany had been studying them all along. Rachel shuttered at the thought of the expressionless stare she knew was set on her. She sniffed and Santana's soft hand suddenly shifted under her own. Rachel felt the Latina's index wrap around her own to squeeze it reassuringly. Cold metal pressed against her wrist. Rachel looked down to find Santana's friendship bracelet brushing against her skin. She glanced back at Brittany.
The dreamy girl was smiling in a strange kind of way.
There are moments in life where everything seems perfect. Everything seems to be at its rightful place. Everything you wanted, everything you wished for, seems to be within reach. All seems possible and nothing seems to stand in your way. Rachel used to feel that way when she sang. Her talent-an inner ability that she had nurtured with love- gave her the strong feeling that she could accomplish anything.
With time, she had come to realize that talent wasn't enough to get what she wanted. The truth was that she didn't even know what she wanted anymore. It was this confusion over her own aspirations that was on Rachel's mind that morning, taunting her, torturing her. Part of her felt happy of what had happened the day before and part of her just felt empty.
She had woken up a bit before sunrise. To celebrate the arrival of spring, Coach Sylvester had one of her extreme training session prepared for them that morning and she couldn't be late. Quinn was already stretching near the bleachers when she arrived. She went up to her, offering her a helping hand. The head cheerleader gave her a brief head nod as a sign of agreement.
"We're going to run outside." Quinn told her. Her hazel eyes were filled with annoyance. Rachel pouted.
"Outside? It's pouring!" Quinn laughed sarcastically.
"Welcome to the team!"
Other cheerleaders were starting to arrive, but Santana wasn't one of them. Rachel realized that a knot had formed into her stomach at the idea of seeing the brunette again. Not seeing her was even worst. They had barely exchanged words after the kiss. The Latina had interrupted the silence to ask her if she wanted to be driven back to her house, declaring that it was getting late. The second after Rachel had step out of Santana's car, the engine had raced away at a speed way above limit.
Rachel excused herself, pretending that she had forgotten her water bottle in her locker, while what she really had to do was to regain her composure. She was secretly hoping that she would come across the Latina but when she got to the locker room there was no sign of her. She walked in front of a mirror. She stared at her own reflection, trying to control her nervous breath. She ran her hands nervously under her top, scratching over and over her wounded skin. She pressed her forehead against the mirror, lifted her top, and lowered her gaze to her stomach. There was red all over the whiteness of it and blood was tainting her fingers. A tear ran down her cheek and fell unto her hand. She dropped to the floor, sobbing quietly, her body shaking restlessly.
"Rachel?" Quinn's voice came from the door. Rachel stood up, readjusted her top, and wiped her tears away.
"What?" She replied, trying to erase any trace of weakness from her voice.
"We're leaving soon. Hurry up."
Rachel took some toilet paper and cleaned her face up. Her eyes were a bit puffy, but it was too subtle for someone to notice it.
Jogging under the pouring rain was probably one of the worst experiences Rachel had to face in her life. Her entire body was stiff and refused to move forward. The only thing that kept her from dropping to the ground was Quinn's hypnotizing ponytail bouncing in front of her and the lyrics of Singing in the Rain playing over and over again in her mind. She was pretty sure that Kelly had disappeared in the middle of their run. She had heard someone whisper that she was turning blue from hypothermia when Coach Sylvester finally took her plea to stop seriously.
When it was finally over, she took more time than usual under the shower, trying to raise her body temperature. She lost track of time and hadn't finished changing back into her clothes when the bell rang.
She threw her bag over her shoulder and walked swiftly towards her class. Her wet sneakers were squeaking loudly as she stepped down the hallway. She glanced out a window and saw Brittany sitting on picnic table. Her head was heavily resting on her hands. It wasn't raining anymore, but she was shivering under the cold windy weather. Rachel realized at that moment that she had been absent from their morning practice. Intrigued, she decided to seek an explanation to this outlandish behaviour. She found her way out and walked up to the blond. Brittany was looking in her direction, but she did not react when Rachel got close and her face remained expressionless.
"So are you, like, Santana's new best friend?" She said all of a sudden.
Rachel writhed awkwardly under Brittany's blue stare. Wind was flowing through the taller girl's hair. A golden strand was dancing near her mouth, but she did nothing to remove it from there.
"Well, we do spend a lot of time together."
Brittany nodded pitifully. She seemed thoughtful for a while, lost in her own little world.
"She called me yesterday." She whispered, her eyes firmly set on the brick wall in front of them.
Rachel felt irritated. That was not part of the plan. They were not supposed to talk to one another. Whey would Santana got to Brittany when she had her? Weren't they friends? They were almost always together, why would she go back to Brittany?
"Why? I thought you two weren't friends anymore." Aqua eyes turned towards her, scrutinizing her in a contemplative way. Rachel gulped. She hadn't meant to sound so angry.
"We're not really friends. She just- she needed me. She's very confused." The dreamy girl replied after a while. A frown had crept his way upon her face and she seemed pretty puzzled herself. Rachel, eager to hear some more, licked her lips in an anxious manner and was about to open her mouth to talk when Brittany spoke again.
"She thought I was special. That it was different 'cause we were BFF'S." Her eyes filled with tears and, for a second, Rachel thought she saw a flicker of anger flash through the blue gaze settled on her. "Turns out I'm not."
Rachel sighed, relieved. While she obviously did not understand what the other girl was saying, it didn't seem as though the childish girl's relationship with Santana was mending.
"What do you mean? I don't understand."
Brittany's lips were pressed into a thin line and her eyebrows were furrowed. She seemed very present suddenly, far from her usual self, much more aware of her surroundings.
"She told me she liked your sweet lady kiss." Brittany answered bitterly. Rachel yelped, surprised and shocked that Santana had revealed her the incident, but the blond seemed unfazed. "She said it was almost as good with me, but she doesn't like girls in that way. That's why she was crying all over the phone like that time Coach told her boob job wasn't good enough for her to be captain and that she wouldn't be flying anymore. I don't like it when she cries. It's scary. It's like a water explosion. When it happens, I don't really understand what she says 'cause her words are all slippery."
Rachel did her best to process the chaotic pile of information. Santana did enjoy the kiss they shared the previous night, but she obviously didn't feel nearly as close to her than she did to Brittany. Never had she told her anything about how she felt, but she did speak of them with the blond, even after months of not talking to her. She also wasn't exactly sure what to think of the fact that the Latina had spent the end of the night on the phone, weeping hysterically over what had happened. She could hardly picture it. It seemed somehow incongruous.
"I don't understand why she would be crying if she liked it."She stated after some time.
"She's scared." Brittany said. Her voice was suddenly softer, tender. "She's like my cat. She doesn't like when strangers get to close. I think she confuses people with evil gnomes like the one in my backyard. It's almost like she believes that everybody's planning to hurt her or something. It doesn't make any sense. Why would people do that? It would put them on Santa's naughty list and they wouldn't get any gifts for Christmas which totally sucks."
Rachel smiled at her. Brittany was endearing even if most of what she said was based on a logic that defied reality.
"You're so adorable!" She had the sudden urge to hug her. Brittany frowned and backed up a little when the singer tried to wrap her arms around her waist, pushing her hands away.
"Rachel..."She sighed. Her facial expression was suddenly very serious. "She likes you a lot and I don't like it 'cause it makes me feel weird in my stomach."
"Wait, Brittany, are you jealous? Do you have feelings for her? I thought you were in love with Artie" Rachel asked her.
Who would prefer someone as unbalanced and moody as Santana to Artie? He could offer to Brittany everything she could not. They had a stable relationship. He loved her. He cared for her. He protected her naivety from the dark reality of this world, while Santana used to egoistically drag her down the dangerous path of debauchery. She was a vile self-centered person who found pleasure into destroying everything around her on her to self-devastation.
"Well, yeah...We were best friends. Best friends always love each other very much, don't they? Like it's not that I don't love Artie, I love him so much. He's my boyfriend, but I miss her 'cause she was always there and now she's not. She's always with you, but I can't be, like, jealous. It wouldn't be fair for her so I'm not jealous. I'm just sad."
"You shouldn't be sad Brittany." Rachel told her with sincerity. She truly believed that it was better for her to stay away from the wild brunette. Nothing good could come out of it.
"San, she- she doesn't really like to like people. And I-"She exhaled with difficulty and bit her lip."I think I've hurt her a lot so it's even harder for her than before. What I'm trying to say is: try not to make it worst. Promise me you'll take care of her."
The blue eyes staring into Rachel's were very alert, piercing, which made her wonder if Brittany was as truly innocent as she was letting on. Rachel chewed the inside of her cheek, trying to make up a reply. It was one thing to lie and be mean to cruel people, but this was entirely different. Brittany was a loving and caring friend, filled with good intentions...But there was no other way to escape from this, besides she was doing it for Brittany's own good.
"I promise. I'll do my best not to hurt her." Brittany's eyes narrowed as if she was evaluating her reply.
"Pinkie swear?" She extended the small finger forward. Rachel intertwined her finger with Brittany's.
"Pinkie swear." She answered back, swallowing with difficulty.
"Good." Brittany smiled childishly and gave a quick peck on Rachel's shamefully crimson cheek. She stood up, stretched her arms over her head. Her gaze was lost in another world. When she spoke again her voice seemed to come from a faraway distance. It was a barely audible murmur. "If you ever happen to forget the promise you gave me, I'll be there to remind it to you."
"My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand." Thich Nhat Hanh
It is said in Hinduism that every action that we take will have its consequences. In order for one's soul to progress through higher levels of reincarnation, one must be able to go through the obstacles sent to him or her by the higher powers. Often, faith will be send obstacles one was not able to overcome in his or her previous life. It is similar to echoes of their past mistakes and it acts in a way like a punishment of one's failure to triumph over the task before.
Sadly, at that point in her life Rachel was not one to be able to perceive the subtle twists of her own destiny, busy that she was interfering with Santana's.
Rachel spent the rest of her day feeling anxious. Her reconciliation with Santana had put on edge. She was under the impression that something important was going to happen, as if she was about to arrive at a crossroad.
She had reached a point in her relationship with Santana where the other girl was starting to trust her. That book she had let her burrow proved it. Rachel had spent her entire class exploring it. Unlike her own school material that was in the exact same state as when it came in her possession, it was strangely private. Scribbles had been made on almost every page. A few hearts, weird looking people, circles, squares, were drawn here in there. There were a few words written in graffiti-like characters: sex, hot, gorgeous, bitch, popular, damn, boring, music, cheer, and on one page a humongous "Bla, bla, bla" right beside a man with glasses who shared a vague resemblance to Santana's biology teacher.
The written conversations between Brittany and Santana at the beginning of the book were what Rachel found the most interesting. Those where Santana's handwriting was the most heavily featured were mostly snarky comments about their classmates to which Brittany's replies were marked by amusement. When Brittany was the one to start their conversations, she mostly wrote strange illogical sentences. Santana answered them by smiley drawings or by few sweet words. There were also a few compliments, references to shared memories, and small games. On the first page of the book, both of their hands had been drawn, side by side, with glittery gel-pens. These discoveries had made her feel like an archeologist. They were interesting, intriguing, filled with history and mystery.
After school Santana and Rachel left together, there was as strange feeling in the pit of Rachel's stomach. The first thing she did when she got in Santana's car was to give her back her book. The Latina just took it and threw it carelessly unto the back seat. This nonchalance was one of those many things that Rachel disliked about her but she was starting to get used to it.
"You're quite talented." Rachel said, breaking the silence. Santana scowled, seemingly confused, and glanced in her direction. "I am talking about those drawings you made in your book. It's a joke."
"Huh, okay. Definitively, not your best." Rachel blushed and shifted nervously on her seat. She was feeling uncomfortable. It was as if her old self was back in her body and she was failing at having a normal teenage interaction.
"So what do you wanna do?" Santana asked her after some time. Rachel turned towards her. She giggled when she noticed that the Latina was scrunching her face in a funny way while trying to shield it from the sun with one of her hands.
"Didn't you want to go to the park?" Santana nodded, turned towards her, and smiled.
"Yeah, we should grab something to eat before. I'm so hungry."
They drove towards the park after stopping by a coffee shop to take out some food: a salad for Rachel and a sandwich for Santana. Rachel was trying to figure out where exactly they were going. They were far away from the Latina's part of town and pretty close to her own house. She wondered why the darker girl would feel like going to a park so distant from her own neighborhood. As they were going through familiar streets, Rachel was becoming more and more aware of their destination and, suddenly, she was feeling strangely apprehensive.
"Where are we going?" She said a bit more aggressively than she intended too.
"It's just this park I used to hang out to with Brittz and Quinn before they got all boring."
A lump settled in Rachel's throat. She licked her lips and exhaled heavily. She knew where they were going. They were going to that park, that park near her house where she used to play as a child. She hadn't been there in years. She kept away from it after the Marise incident. Eventually she grew up and there was no reason for her to go back there.
When they pulled over next to the familiar place, Rachel became livid, guilt draining her blood away. Things seemed strange suddenly. She contemplated the idea that maybe Santana was playing a mind game with her. Maybe she knew…Maybe she knew all along…Maybe Rachel was the one being manipulated.
She heard Santana unbuckle her seatbelt and shuddered with terror. Then, soft tanned hands reached for her own seatbelt, freeing her from it with the small sound of a «click».
«Come…» A word whispered in her ear, escaping from a slightly giggling mouth.
Soon after, they were walking side by side towards the dreaded playground. Santana was whistling a song with an uprising beat that was making the moment grow in tension and, consequently, it was driving Rachel crazy.
"STOP IT!" She felt like shouting but she didn't. She couldn't after what had happened the previous day.
Suddenly, Santana grabbed her hand, causing her to jump.
"Oh g- Wow, someone's on edge." She mused. "Look at this"
She bent forward, pulling Rachel with her, and pointed an inscription on the underside of the slide. Rachel squinted and moved closer.
"Why is my phone number written- Oh! What? "Please call me; I'm desperate enough to pay for sex." Who wrote this? You wrote this? This is absolutely outr-"Santana stopped her rant by muffling her mouth with her hand, laughing loudly as she did so. Rachel squirmed to get out of her grip, but, with her free arm, the Latina circled her waist and pulled her flush against her chest, restraining her from moving by her strong grasp.
"Shhhh" She said before letting her hand slide off the other brunette's mouth. "It's Quinn. She wrote this just before joining Glee club. You know-" Her gaze fell on Rachel's lips and her voice dropped."You know, when you were…chasing after Finn."
Rachel held her breath, scared to move, afraid to talk. Santana glanced away, released her hold, and cleared her throat.
"I brought some weed." She murmured, taking a plastic bag out of her jacket. "This is where I did some for the first time. I thought it'd be cool if you were to do your first time here too. That's -it's the surprise I had for you yesterday."
Rachel stared at her with her mouth agape. The situation might have been endearing if it hadn't been drugs they were talking about, but this, this…
"Marijuana? Do you have any id-" Santana shushed her by waving a hand impatiently in front of her face.
"Come on. You've got to try it at least once."
After a few minutes of furious debating, Rachel inhaled for the first time the illegal substance which sent her into a coughing fit. Santana tried to calm her down by gently rubbing her back and, when Rachel refused to try it again, she insisted.
"It's your first time. It's like that for everybody." She told her soothingly.
When Rachel declined it again, she shrugged her shoulders and stoop up from their uncomfortable spot on the seesaw, joint still in hand.
"What are you doing?" Rachel asked her.
"I feel like climbing on top of those monkey bars." She replied sliding the joint into her mouth and jumping to catch hold of the first bar. She then threw herself into awkward acrobatics and, somehow, she squirmed her way up. Rachel observed the strange show with her heart stammering loudly against her chest.
"Why?" She asked, anxiety sipping into her voice. "Why would you want to get up there?"
This strange situation was starting to scare her.
"It used to be my favourite spot. I used to climb up her and watch the other children play underneath. It made me feel important." She laughed pretentiously. "I liked to sway my legs like this 'cause my mother would get all nervous about it. She'd be like:"Santanita, you're gonna fall down!" Of course, I never did."
Rachel tried to talk, but now words came out of her mouth. She could hardly breathe. How could this be happening? She had to know.
"You're too far! Come here with me. You'll see. You'll like it."
Rachel scratched her forearm nervously, her gaze dancing from side to side. How could she know? Nobody knew. She took a deep breath and walked toward the other girl. It was hard for her to climb make it to the top because her palms were sweaty and her fingers were rigid.
"You look as comfortable as a cat near water." Santana laughed at her expanse before moving to the side and patting the cold metal next to her."Come next to me."
Rachel made her way towards the other girl and, when finally sat down, she realized that her heart was racing. All she could think of was the grown beneath her, waiting for her to fall. She closed her eyes shut and tried to calm herself down. She felt Santana gently take her hand, her thumb rubbing circles against her skin.
"Are you afraid of heights?" She asked her, concerned. "Rach! You're shaking."
Santana's other hand cupped her jaw, an herbal odour bypassed her nose, and she felt soft fingers brush against her cheek.
"Look at me…" She whispered and her hot breath spread across her face.
Rachel slowly opened her eyes and fell into worried-looking pool of brown. Santana knew nothing. It was just a coincidence. Immediately, the singer's fear disappeared and she smiled. That was when she noticed how Santana's hand was suddenly stiff, how her eyes were falling again unto Rachel's lips, and how her own mouth seemed to be quivering anxiously.
Santana, she did it all the time with men. Why wouldn't Rachel play her game? She could do it too: tease her, mock her, and hurt her with no care for her feelings.
Rachel took her hand out of the other girl's tight grasp and brought it up to Santana's face. She let her fingers run across her jaw, surprised by how different it felt from touching a guy's stronger bone structure. Then, she let her thumb slide across the darker girl's bottom lip. She parted it gently from the upper one, pleased by the small gasp it drew out, before leaning in to capture Santana's mouth with her own. The Latina moaned into her kiss. The hand Rachel had left earlier cupped her other cheek, pulling her forward. It was obvious by her eagerness that she had been hoping for something like this for a while and Rachel proudly relished into her own seduction power, abandoning herself to Santana's soft desire.
When Rachel pulled back, the other girl's eyes were still closed and her cheeks were flushed. The singer chuckled at the ironic view and turned her gaze to the sky. It was almost as if a higher power was helping her with her revenge. How superstitious had she been to think the contrary…
"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude." William James
Human relationships, sometimes, they evolve so fast that we never really get why they changed or how it happened. Most of the time, we tend to believe that others are to blame for it which, without being completely false, isn't exactly true.
Many factors contribute to such transformation. For one, in a relationship there are always two people. Those two people will bring to that relationship their own personal history, their personalities. They will give and they will take, mostly the latter, because relationships are usually formed by want.
Sometimes, it will be to receive affection or to know that there will always be someone to count on. It could also be for a more obviously selfish reason like to promote one's career or it could be for something that could seem selfless at first like helping someone but, even then, one will gain something out of it, the gratifying feeling that they are useful.
However, a relationship is not only composed of two actors. There are also minor parts distributed to other people, the ones that were in their life before and the ones that are in their life at the time of their current relationship. These people will have an influence on one's mood, way of thinking, and way of acting: on one's behaviour.
Finally, most importantly, there are also circumstances. Rachel knew how this last one could have a major impact on how people interacted with others. She knew it because she, herself, didn't act the same way that she did months before. Situations changed people, situations made people. Rachel was the same, but she was different, her life was different.
What she did not understand was what had made her relationship with Santana seem to shift the previous night and it made her so anxious that she felt sick.
It drove her crazy not to understand what had happened. She was scared that what had been broken between them could not be repaired. She knew it wasn't that she liked Santana because she despised her. It was simple that she had come to realize that she was dependant of her. Everything in Rachel's life was define by her obsession of her and without it she was lost, she was nothing.
Rachel had spent the entire night tossing and turning into her bed, trying to find in what way she had failed and she knew that the results of her anxiety was stamped across her forehead. She was tired, she felt awful, her steps were heavy, and she knew that she probably looked like a character from a Tim Burton movie.
It was probably for that reason that she found herself raging while rummaging through her locker, trying to find her biology book. She did not know how she could have lost it when her locker was so properly organized. She was so tensed that she almost jumped out of her body when she felt shy fingers brush the skin between her skirt and the hem of her slightly rising top.
"Hey," Santana said softly and Rachel had to hold a scream.
"Hi," she replied harshly.
"Do you want some help?" A guilty smile was dancing on Santana's lips.
"I don't need your help." Rachel hissed.
"You sure? 'Cause you look like you picked up a fight with your books and lost it." Santana mocked her, leaning her side on the closest locker. Her darks eyes seemed lighter than the previous day and bit uncertain. "What the fuck did you do last night? You look like you're having the worst hang over ever."
Rachel sighed, closed her locker, and pressed her forehead on the cold metal. She had most probably left her biology book at home. She slowly let her eyes slide to the side to stare into the other girl's awaiting gaze.
"Are you really expecting me to forgive you just like that? You didn't even have the decency to apology." Santana gaped at her. She blinked a few times and frowned before bringing her hand to her chest in an offended manner.
"Apology?" She blurted out, sounding confused and irritated. "What the fuck? If there's someone who should apology here, it's you. You were the one acting like a total bitch."
Rachel straightened up and turned to face the Latina. She was speechless. None of this made sense. Santana had to be completely insane if she truly believed what she had just said.
"Bitch?" She asked, venom slipped through her voice. "You stood me up, completely out of the blue, to engage into sexual intercourse with a guy with whom I've never even seen you have any interaction whatsoever."
"It's your freaking bitchy attitude. It pissed me off." Santana pursed her lips, her nostrils flared, and she shook her head from side to side.
"What?" And, then, Rachel realized what had ticked the other girl off. "Santana, not everybody likes to flaunt their anatomy to others the way you do. You should respect that. As a friend you should respect me."
"There's a way of saying things." Santana replied, her eyes narrowing.
"While I do admit that I might have spoken to you in a harsh tone of voice, you're reaction has been completely disproportionate."Santana stood silent, pondering her affirmation. After a time, her features softened and she rolled her eyes playfully.
"Look Berry, you were wrong, maybe I was too, but let's just forget about this and move on."
Rachel nodded impassively, but she was not going to forget this soon. The Latina's attitude was completely unacceptable. The hurt, maybe the rejection, she might have felt at her words did not excuse her deplorable behaviour. How could people even like her when she had such a hot temper?
Santana beamed, pulled her in a hug, kissed her on the cheek, and stayed there for a few seconds breathing softly against her skin.
"You smell good." She whispered before backing up, her hand still remaining on the singer's hip, and her head resting against the nearest locker. Rachel noted that her eyes were twinkling and it made her nervous.
"You smell like cigarette." She countered. "Could I borrow your biology book? I forgot mine at home."
"Sure," Santana interlocked their hands and pulled her down the hallway. "I stole a pack of cigarettes from Patrick. The guy deserved it 'cause he was a damn lousy fuck."
Fearful people parted on their way. It was funny how not so long ago she would have been the one running away from the Latina's path. How things had changed since then.
"You're locker is so far from mine. Maybe next year we could find a way to be side by side." Santana told her as she opened her locker and searched through the mess it hosted. She finally pulled out a dismembered looking book. Rachel took it cautiously, afraid that the pages would fall out of it and spread all over the floor.
"How kind of you Santana to loan me this thing..." Santana laughed and closed her locker.
"Well, huh, it's the only one I've got." Rachel flipped through the pages. The book had been completely vandalized. There were drawings everywhere and in the first few chapters she could see written exchanges she could only assume to be between Santana and Brittany.
"So I was wondering if you wanted to hang out with me tonight after glee. We could go to a park or something."
Rachel looked up from the open book in her hands. Santana was staring at her. She seemed confident, indifferent, but Rachel knew she was nervous. She made her wait because she deserved it, but for the sake of her plan, for the sake of her sanity, she could not say no.
She accepted half-heartedly and a large smile spread across Santana's features.
"Cool," she said, squeezing Rachel's hand and the singer smiled in return. "See you later then."
Rachel clutched the biology book against her chest and walked toward her class. There she was selling her soul to Satan, for what? She did not know. Maybe for revenge, maybe out of vanity...It all seemed to mix up in a confused blur that made her wonder if she was beginning to lose her grip on reality.
"Vanity is the quicksand of reason" George Sand
With the newest development on Santana's perception of her, Rachel was starting to see their friendship in a new light. She, somehow, newly enjoyed being in her presence. Strange, it could have seemed for someone observing the evolution of their relationship from an external point of view but it wasn't that much. Rachel loved to be the center of attention. She loved to be admired.
As much as Rachel used to dislike any physical contact with the Latina, she suddenly couldn't get enough of it. It wasn't that she enjoyed the physical aspect of touching her because she did not; it was more that she was pleased to see the reactions they would generate. She had, for example, realized that when she returned the soft, slightly tickling, caresses the other girl tended to unconsciously give to her arms and legs while they sat beside one another, Santana listened much more to what she had to say, smiled at her from time to time, and even giggled if she was in a particularly good mood. She was amused by how Santana would flush every time she would let her lips linger on her cheeks, a bit longer than necessary, after kissing them. More than all, she enjoyed to see Santana shiver under her fingers whenever she ran them over her neck or down her back. It was as if her touch could magically transform a tiger into a purring cat and it made her feel special, unique, extraordinary…
One could have believed that this abrupt change in Rachel's behavior meant that her heart was warming up to her, but it was not the case. On the contrary, it was simply a new way she had found to express her disdain of her. What Rachel liked about this novelty in their relationship was that it put her in a position of superiority to the other girl. She was the one with the upper hand because Santana, though she did not talk about it, seemed to be starting to care about her. Still, it was not enough. Except for that single moment of weakness in the car, Santana did not confide in her. Rachel was starting to believe that she did not confide in anybody at all, not even to Brittany. It probably was the reason why she used to enjoy her company as much because with Brittany there was no need to have serious conversations. Rachel needed more than that.
Often, Santana would invite her over after cheerleading practice.
"Hey Rach," She whispered in her ear once while they were changing. "I have a surprise for after."
"What kind of surprise?" She replied nervously. Somehow, the combination of "Santana" and "surprise" did not appeal to her.
Santana gave her a wicked smile, reached for the back of her uniform top, and unzipped it. She threw it carelessly over her bag.
"You'll see" Then, she was off to speak to Quinn about their routine while discarding lazily the rest of her clothes. Rachel had noticed that now that they seemed close again, Santana would be giving the head cheerleader advices, instead of her aggressive opinion, on how to proceed. Well, at times her advices would be said a bit roughly but Quinn was more patient with her than she used to and would sometimes even apply them.
Rachel sighed. She would have to do something about that eventually. She removed her uniform swiftly because she did not want someone to see the marks on her stomach, covered her body with a towel, and walked towards the showers. She took her shower with her eyes closed because she couldn't bear to look at herself. The water running on her skin was hot, inviting, and she was able to relax. Soon, she would be back into her horrifying reality but for a moment, in this comfortable haven, she could be herself again.
She stayed like this for more time than she had thought because, when she got out, the other cheerleaders were gone. There was only Santana left, lying on a bench in the middle of two rows of lockers. She had music in her ears and her eyes were close. One of her feet was swaying over the ground in a hypnotizing pendulum motion. She was humming happily the song that was playing on her I-pod.
Rachel opened her locker and took out her perfectly folded clothes.
"It took you some time." Santana told her and Rachel heard her body shift.
She froze. She knew the Latina was looking in her direction. She turned on herself. Santana was now in a sitting position and she was facing her.
"Could you look to the other side while I change?" Santana seemed taken aback by her hard tone.
"Okay…" She rolled her eyes exaggeratedly and sat towards the other side.
Without ever taking off the towel, she put back her clothes. She was scared that Santana might take a peek at her, that she would see her skin, see her naked, see what she did to herself, see who she was, see how ugly she was. When it was over, she exhaled deeply and sat down next to the other girl. Santana was scowling.
"I'm ready to go." Rachel told her softly.
Santana did not answer. Instead, she took out her cell phone and replied to a text message. Rachel frowned when she realized the content of the reply was entirely sexual. She did not understand how Santana could find a way to sneak in her depravity into every single aspect of her life.
"I said that I was ready to go." Rachel insisted.
Santana glared at her. Her eyes were so hard that it made the singer gasp.
"I know. I heard you the first time." She took her bag and walked towards the door. Rachel stayed still. She was stunned by the Latina's sudden mood shift.
"Santana, I don't understand what is going on. Did I do something wrong? Look at me when I speak to you." Santana turned towards her and pressed her back against the door.
"Patrick's parents are having a romantic evening and he invited me over." She crossed her arms over her chest and her chin rose in sharp way. "I think I'm going to go at his place."
Rachel stood up and crossed the distance between them. Santana flinched and took a step back, opening the door as she did so.
"We were supposed to spend the evening together." She squeaked trying not to sound too desperate. "You told me you had a surprise."
"Yeah, well, things have changed." Santana replied coldly. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It was terrifying.
"That's it? Rachel's frustration was flowing so energetically through her body that she could barely conceal it. "That is the only explanation I'm allowed to have?"
Santana seemed to hesitate. She took a small step forward. She opened her mouth to speak but, then, her eyes took that infuriating stoic expression that made her absolutely unreadable.
Rachel looked down. She grazed Santana's fingers with the tip of her own. Seeing that the other girl wasn't running away from her touch, she let her fingers slide across caramel skin, around her wrist, and down to her hand again which she explored gently, afraid that a sudden movement might scare the Latina off. When she looked back up, Santana swallowed hard. Dark eyes, defiant eyes, scrutinized Rachel for what seemed eternity.
"I need to hump something." Santana jerked her hand backward and looked away.
"What?" Santana gave a violent push to the door.
"You said you wanted a more explicit explanation." And, just like that, she was gone.
"HYPOCRITE, n. One who, profession virtues that he does not respect secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises." Ambrose Bierce
Colorless days were going by and Rachel still didn't have any idea to how she was going to proceed in her Machiavellian plan. She realized that she tended to find herself observing Brittany more and more.
At first, she wasn't able to understand why people as intelligent as Artie and Santana could find in such a girl. There was nothing mentally challenging in spending time with her. She could barely form a concrete sentence.
After some time of spending time with her, she started noticing some things. For someone like Rachel who could only see darkness in her surroundings, to be in Brittany's presence seemed to act like a strong analgesic.
She was a very strange girl. Sometimes, while everybody else was in class, she could be seen twirling down the hallways as if Peter Pan was pulling her by the hand towards Neverland. While everybody else seemed reluctant to go into the cold, she could be found running against the wind with her coat wide open and frozen tears of excitement in the corner of her eyes.
When she liked you, she would sometimes intertwine your fingers and invite you in her strangely wonderful world. Without even realizing it, you would lose your balance and fall into Brittany's wonderland. There, it seemed like you could breathe again. It was all your trouble would fade away and you could be as carefree as a child. Rachel had become friends with her out of necessity, but she was truly starting to be fond of her.
Contrastingly, the more time she spent with Santana, the more her hate for her grew deeper. Paradoxically, the Latina, on the other hand, seemed to grow in affection for her or, more exactly, for the image Rachel had built for herself. What was odd about it was that as much as she was cold and distant when she did not like you, when she did, her need for physical contact seemed to be restless. It was as if she had been deprived of affection for so long that, when she could get some, she would latch on it almost desperately. She also seemed to try to physically compensate for her incapacity to express herself verbally.
She would come and hug Rachel from behind when she wanted to pull her out of sorrowful thoughts. She would kiss her on the cheek when she wanted to be forgiven. She would slide her fingers up and down her arms in a feather-like touch to express contentment. She would braid her hair or simply twirl a brown lock around her finger when she was bored. Everything seemed like a pretext to touch her. It shouldn't have come as a surprised considering the fact that Santana's favourite activity seemed to be to throwing all of her emotions into her highly active sexual life. She clearly had no understanding of them which would have been sad if it wasn't so revolting.
It was the only thing Rachel could think about when those filthy hands would touch her skin or when those lips linger on her cheek.
"Where have they been?"
"Does she wash her hands?"
"Does she brush her teeth?"
In the beginning, she would flinch every time it happened or shudder with disgust. With time, she grew immune to it. It was simply one of those things she would suffer through like high school. Sometimes, she could almost convince herself that she liked it. At some point, she would gain something out of it. It was the only thing that mattered.
One night, they were working on a school project when Rachel realized that, even though it had to be the twelfth or the thirteenth time she was at Santana's house, she still hadn't met her parents.
"Where are your parents?" Santana didn't even lift her head from the book she was reading. She continued on staring at it with a frown on her face."Santana, your parents, where are they?"
"My father's working." She replied. "My mother's on a business trip." She closed her book and walked towards the bed."I'm tired of this shit. We're never gonna finish this paper by tomorrow."
"Santana, this is import-"Rachel started.
"I didn't say I didn't want to finish it."Santana interrupted her." Do you think you're the only one that wants good grades? I'm just fed up so I'm gonna take a break and we'll get back at it later."
The singer started pacing back and forth. She stopped abruptly in front of the mirror and chewed her bottom lip in a way that made her seem as though she hadn't eaten in days. She was tired of this. She couldn't stand the Latina's infuriating way of acting. She briefly closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She had to calm down. She didn't want to say something that she might have regretted saying later.
Her gaze fell on the dresser's disorganized top. There were beauty products everywhere. They were carelessly piled on top of each other. On one side, Rachel could see an animal patterned bra hanging loosely around a straightening mousse. An old exam was squished between various bottles of nail polish. On top of a school book, there was a half-eaten chocolate bar which made her want to scream in horror. How could someone live in such a repulsive environment? She sighed. She grasped the cleanest looking lip-gloss and started applying it on her lips.
That's when she noticed them, Santana's sad dark eyes, half-hidden by a dark lock of hair, slowly, shyly, travelling up her legs. Even through the mirror, Rachel could see how much shame they wore. The Latina's lashes were barely able to conceal the world of emotions that existed beyond their gates. How strange was it that the fierce woman seemed so vulnerable when she thought no one was looking.
She almost looked like a defenseless child. She was clearly fearful to admit her own desires.
Rachel blushed as she suddenly realized that she was the one being scanned by that hooded stare. For a second or two, she stopped breathing. She became deeply aware of her own body which seemed to be paralyzed at the moment. It didn't make sense to her that the girl she envied the most could be physically attracted to her.
Blinking her way back to reality, Rachel nervously licked her lips.
Maybe she was wrong. Maybe she was imagining everything. Maybe Santana wasn't looking at her the way she thought she was.
She had to verify her hypothesis. Lazily stretching her arms over he head and arching her back in a sensual manner, Rachel waited to see the other girl's reaction. As she did so, Santana shifted her position pulling her legs towards her chest as though she was trying to shield herself from some external danger. Her brown eyes darted nervously from side to side before taking their usual undecipherable composure.
Rachel laughed inwardly.
It stunned her suddenly how confident this situation was making her feel. It made her proud to know how much power she held over her enemy even if it was that kind of power or maybe because it was that kind of power.
The power Santana had over Finn.
Yes, truly ironic…
Rachel smiled at her own reflection. She was beautiful. She had to be beautiful for this gorgeous woman to look at her that way. The girl desired by Finn was attracted to her.
"You're right. We should take a break." Rachel blurted out after a moment.
Santana shrugged her shoulders. She unfolded her legs and changed position to lie on her back. The tension left her body as she did so. She closed her eyes. Rachel climbed into the bed and sat next to her. Her hand went to the Latina's forehead. She pushed her bangs to the side and slid her fingers down her face. It was the first time that she was voluntary touching her. Santana smiled under her touch and reached for her hand, topping it with her own.
"It tickles." Her eyes flew open. They were brown and shiny.
Rachel dropped her head on the Latina's pillow and smiled. She grasped her enemy's hand and squeezed it firmly.
Santana was not strong. She was fragile, so incredibly fragile.
When Rachel walked through the entrance of McKinley High that Monday, she felt happier than she had done in weeks.
Everything seemed as usual.
There was a couple making out by the lockers. Jacob Israel was stalking some poor girl. Mercedes was eating tots while speaking to Tina. Quinn was making a speech to Sam on how important it was for them to be Prom King and Prom Queen. Puck was flirting with Lauren whose response seemed to be more cold than hot. Meredith and Kelly were gossiping about everything and nothing. Mr. Schue and coach Sylvester were having an argument in the principal's office and Mrs. Pillsbury was sanitizing her pens.
Everything seemed the same, but something was different. When Rachel passed by Santana who was talking suggestively to a muscular looking jock, she did not pay attention to it because, for the first time since Christmas, she did not care.
It appeared that spending the previous day in the Latina's company had almost erased any thoughts of plotting against her. It wasn't that Rachel liked Santana- her behaviour was till more than reproachable - it was simply that she did not hate her anymore.
For that reason, her step was lighter and she was starting to believe that maybe, eventually, she could be happy again.
Rachel was joyful enough to sing to herself while she circulated down the hallways, something she hadn't done in a long time. Ironically, she was almost smiling when she reached the staircase where she was about to hear the conversation that would shift her mood and erase all of her good resolutions.
"So Saturday night, Santana invited me over and you know what that means." It was Jack she was hearing. He seemed to be talking from a hidden spot under the stairs.
"Everybody knows what that means." Rachel's heart froze when she recognized Finn's voice.
"That girl knows what she's doing. I swear it was the best fuck ever. She's so fucking good!" The singer sat on the third step, near the wall. She wrapped her arms around her legs and brought them towards her chest.
"I-I know." Finn stuttered and Rachel's body stiffened. "My first time was with her."
"Seriously? You banged her?" Jack seemed dubious. "I didn't think you were her type."
Rachel scoffed. If given the right amount of alcohol, Santana was probably sleazy enough to make out with a mannequin.
"What makes you think I'm not her type?" Finn shrieked, sounding like an offended child."When I was with Rachel she threatened me to tell her about our one night stand because she wanted us to break up. She told me that, if we did so, she'd be happy to date me so, obviously, she's got to be at least a bit into me."
Rachel had to cover her mouth with both of her hands not to gasp loudly. Time stopped flowing, her lungs stopped working, and, suddenly, a loud pounding noise was hammering against her skull. She got up on her feet. Her vision became blurry. She started running up the stairs and her wobbly members almost made her trip.
Santana was inconsiderate
Santana was vicious.
Santana was horrible.
Santana was cruel.
Tears were now streaming down her face. She could hardly orientate herself towards the art class she was supposed to attend. Intense pain was rushing through her body and it made her feel sick.
The bell rang.
Since she did not want to be seen in such a state, Rachel opted to spend her first period hidden in her safe haven, the choir room. When she got there, she closed the door and slid against it until she was crouching on the floor. Then, she sobbed without inhibition as if she were a child.
"Are you hiding from the dragon too?" Brittany's head popped from under the piano. Rachel bit her bottom lip trying to control her body from trembling.
"Brittany, dragons don't exist." She replied in a shaky voice.
"Yes, they do!" The childish girl squealed, her eyes growing wide. "Haven't you watch Shrek?"
"Could I get into your hideout?" Rachel crawled toward the other girl. It wasn't that she believed in dragons because she clearly did not, but she needed to hide from her own monsters. The position she had to take to fit under the piano was beyond uncomfortable, but it made her feel better. Brittany snaked her arms around her waist, seeking for reassurance. Rachel noted that she smelt like vanilla and baby powder. It was an odour that had a flavour of childhood and happiness.
"You know what?" The dreamy girl whispered into her ear. "This reminds me of the first time Santana and I kissed."
Rachel's head snapped up. She had been trying to make her open about her relationship with Santana for weeks. She couldn't believe that it was finally happening.
"How did it happen?" She asked and she realized, at that moment, that she had stopped crying. An unhealthy form of curiosity had replaced her sorrow.
"Well, it was on her first year here, right after cheerleading practice. Santana told me she wanted to show me something and she dragged me here." Rachel knew she was staring at Brittany with a shocked expression on her face, but she couldn't help herself.
"Why here?" The blond girl smiled at her.
"Let me finish my story! "They have a special room for music here" She said and she, like, ran towards the piano. She doesn't know how to play it and she just made some horrible sound, but she was super excited. I tried to play piano too and I was just as bad. We made so much noise that a janitor came to see what was going on. We decided to hide under the piano and we were super close like you and I right now. Santana was holding me from behind and I could feel her breathing down my neck. It made me feel super weird. It was like there were thousands of caterpillars climbing up my body but, like, in a nice way. I think she was feeling the same because she wasn't moving like me. We stayed like that for a very long time. I got scared that maybe everyone was gone and we were locked inside. I turned to ask her what we would do if it were the case. When I did, she made this funny little noise and I realized she was staring at my lips. It was totally in the same way guys did before I kissed them." Brittany made a dramatic pause. "That's when I decided to kiss her because, you know, that's what she wanted. Then, she cupped my cheeks with both of her hands and became super intense like when you're very thirsty and someone gives you a glass of water. She started breathing like really, really, hard and I wasn't used to people breathing so hard when I kissed them so I pulled back to see if she was okay. She didn't like it. She jumped like she was scared, hit her head on the piano, and started cursing. It thought it was funny, but I think she didn't because she glared at me and left."
When Brittany finished talking, Rachel exhaled a breath she did not know she was holding. Her head was swirling from the lack of oxygen and she let it fall unto the blond girl's shoulder. As time went by, she seemed to collect more and more evidences that there had been a strong connection between the two cheerleaders. Now, she had to find a way to be absolutely sure that they wouldn't talk again. The further apart Santana would stay from Brittany, the more she would be hurting.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?" Marianne Williamson
Rachel Berry spent the 1st of January in her bed staring at the ceiling. She didn't feel like exercising on her treadmill or practicing her singing like she usually did when she was in vacation. She didn't feel like posting a video of one of her performances on MySpace or planning her calendar of activities of the month. She didn't even felt like eating or moving. Somehow, it seemed now pointless to her. Girls like Santana would always be the one to win no matter how much girls like Rachel tried.
Santana could easily get away with terrorizing everybody because she detained all powers. In high school world she was a queen and an evil one as that. She was William McKinley High School's Queen of hearts. Wherever she would go heads would roll and everybody was too scared to contradict her reign except Quinn, but the beautiful Christian girl was no angel either. Actually, until not long ago, Rachel used to find the head cheerleader even worse than Santana but, due to recent events, she had changed opinion.
Rachel turned on her stomach and buried her nose in her pillow. Santana's voice came ringing back to her mind rising from the inmost depth of her subconscious.
"You think you're life is miserable? If you ever say something about what you saw, I'll make your life a fucking nightmare. Believe me; Holocaust will seem like a walk in the park compared to what I could do to you so you better shut the fuck up."
She felt like crying. She didn't want to go back to school and face her. It was not like the usual discomfort she had towards the idea of confronting her pairs. It was more than that. She was feeling sick of having to watch over her shoulder to see if someone was going to come and throw a slushy at her, of people continually talking down on her, and of constantly being subjected to awful pranks. The idea of now having Santana watching her from behind readying herself to attack at the slightest faux-pas was making her tremble with fear. She was pretty sure that the horrible paralyzing sensation of fear that had overtaken her body was similar to the one of a pray being thrown at a very hungry caged tiger.
What did girls like Quinn or Santana had more than her? How could they do all those awful things and still be admired by others like they did? Rachel did not understand. It reminded her in a way of the musical Chicago in which two murderess find a way to use their crime to increase their celebrity and become in that way famous singers. Was life the same? Did cruelty really engender popularity?
Rachel sat down and gave a circle look to her bedroom. She pitifully pushed herself out of her bed and walked towards her desk. She turned on her laptop and opened a Facebook page. She went on Finn's profile which was a daily habit she couldn't resist to accomplish. She laughed sombrely when she read the first message written on his wall. It came from Santana. It was filled with sexually charged comments. She sighed knowing that the message was displayed for her intention more than for her ex's. It was a not so subtle threat.
She couldn't help clicking her way to the Latina's page. Even though they weren't friends Rachel could see all of her profile pictures. In most of them the girl was exhibiting her body through the meaning of very short and tight-fitting clothes. In some, she was by the pool wearing a dark purple bikini in diverse very suggestive position. It was easy to tell that Brittany was the one that had taken this particular set because they were followed by few arm-length shots of both of them dressed in their swimwear. They were holding each other's waist while they winked, gave provocative stares, and sent kisses to the camera. All through that set of pictures, Santana appeared to be wearing a genuine smile on her face and in one of them, that had obviously been caught while she was off-guard, she could be seen looking at her best friend with large shiny loving eyes. It was strange to see her in that light. She seemed so far off from the Santana Rachel knew, so much less intimidating.
There was much older photo taken the previous winter that was particularly endearing. The two girls were dressed in their winter coats. The brunette had her nose buried in a large red scarf. Brittany was hugging her tightly with her eyes closed in contentment. She seemed as though she was pulling away from kissing her friend's cheek which had taken a wintery shade of red. Santana was grimacing funnily as if she was about to scowl and laugh at the same time. Her half closed eyes were secretly set on her friend's visage and Rachel could read such tenderness in them that it wouldn't have been touching if it had been coming from anyone else.
How could Rachel have missed that? How could she not have seen this obvious, but odd, love relationship right before her eyes? Surely others must have known. Their promiscuity made it hard to believe that they could have true love feelings, but when you took the time to look at them, which Rachel barely ever did, they seemed to be sharing a deep connection that exceeded the simple lines of friendship or meaningless sexual partnership.
At that moment, Rachel realized what made her different from girls like Santana. While she was trying to go through her day being, as much as she could, true to herself, Santana, her, would hide it all. With the exception of Brittany who really knew who the Latina was? Everything about her that wasn't socially acceptable was carefully guarded behind her dark manipulative eyes.
That was the key to popularity.
Being popular was not due to some natural talent. It was all part of a game with no moral boundaries. In it, people would lie with no shame, would cheat in ignominious ways, would betray their closest friends, and wouldn't mind crushing others under their steps on their path to the top.
It was an opprobrious game in which the rules were high school social norms and in which you could find people who were ready to do anything, literarily anything, to win. It was easy to remember, for example, how Quinn had dethroned Santana from her head cheerleader position at the beginning of the year by telling their coach about her summer surgery. Then again, there was that time, she now knew, where Santana had viciously taken Finn's virginity to get that same spot in their cheerleading squad. Although she did not know which one of the two was the most morally reprehensible, the second seemed to her far worst because it affected her.
Brittany was probably, in a way, the most intuitive player at that game. She had found her way to link herself to a stronger player whom she followed on her battle to take over the board game that was their high school without ever having to do the dirty work herself. It was, in Rachel's opinion, a pretty clever move for someone of her mental capacity when one thought of it. It showed that she was probably more intelligent than people would give her to be.
Rachel slid down her chair and closed her eyes. Her shoulders slumped forward under the weight of her discovery. Why hadn't she thought of it before? She was always so busy thinking about her future and how to plan it that she never seem to see the evidence. If she was obviously failing now to construct a solid social network how could she do it in the future? She bit her bottom lip and started thinking very fast. If even Brittany could play that game, why wouldn't she be able to do it? The way she over-analyzed everything could and her strong determination could easily become important skills to play the game. What did she have to lose anyways? Everything had been taken away from her even her, even the strength that motivated her to believe in her childhood dreams, and most of that was because of Santana Lopez. If Rachel was able to find a way to become popular, she would be to socially powerful for people to terrorize her and probably that Finn would regret leaving her. Even more than that, if she did indeed reach that goal, she would earn Santana's respect and maybe, if she worked a little more, she could gain her trust. After, she could use it against her and socially destroy her. Santana would then know how it was to be at the bottom, how it was to be the one to be stepped on by people like her. It was brilliant when she thought of it.
Rachel opened a word document. She wrote a title at the top of the page.
Rachel Berry's secret plan of socially destroying Santana Lopez
She took a hairpin from a hair accessories leather case on her desk and started biting it nervously. Her plan had to be perfect because playing Santana was like with fire: very dangerous. She squinted and scrunched her nose. She took one last peek at the winter picture that displayed so openly one of the weakest sides of her enemy and it gave her courage.
Part 1: Becoming popular
Step 1: Hide characteristics of my personality that people tend to dislike the most
She stopped a moment to think. What did people criticized about her? Firstly, there were her speeches. There were always people to roll their eyes when she made one. Secondly, there was her controlling issue. Rachel had particularly terrifying memory of Santana launching wildly off her chair in her direction once when she had tried to coordinate Glee club. Thirdly, there was her dressing. People always made harsh comments about her choice of clothes.
Step 2: Befriend "cool" people
If she was right about step 1, step 2 should come naturally. With her new attitude people should start wanting to be her friend.
Step 3: Become a Cheerio
She was a talented dancer and was pretty skilful when it came to acrobatics. After following the first two steps, it shouldn't be too hard to fulfil the third one.
Part 2: Gaining Santana's trust
Step 1: Use the fact that I now revolve in the same social circles as Santana to attend the same social gathering as her.
This one should be easy. It is the next one that was going to be much more complex.
Step 2: Tame the beast
It was hard to tell at that point in what way she would be able to accomplish it because she did not know the Latina well enough for that. In time, she would probably be capable to pinpoint how to approach this matter.
Part 3: Socially destroy her
Only step: Use what have been learn during part 2
Hasta la vista Santana Lopez!
Part 4: Enjoy the position swapping
Rachel smiled to herself. She saved her document and turned off her computer before running out of her room. She skipped happily down the stairs to eat a quick breakfast. She then stretched, opened the radio, and started training on her treadmill half-listening to the Pussycat doll song that was playing. Maybe she should have because it was ironically foreshadowing what would follow.
"...be careful what you wish 'cause you just might get it, 'cause you just might get it."
- Current Music:"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.