Brittany had warned them; December was the worst month.
If Santana was being honest with herself, she hadn’t taken Brittany’s warning to heart. Boston was, at its core, a college city. Around the holidays, when all the students left to visit their families and hometowns, the city slowed down. Mellowed. Santana would go as far as to say that the city’s buzz died off, only to be replaced with the feel generally associated with small towns and the suburbs.
She knew she wasn’t wrong. She’d been living in Boston long enough to get a sense for the place, for how it worked, and for what made it tick. But she’d been wrong to underestimate Brittany. She’d been wrong to underestimate Brittany’s restaurant.
Christmas was just around the corner, and Santana was exhausted. She hadn’t been prepared for how hard it would be to keep up with the restaurant’s demand around the holiday season. She knew Quinn felt the same; in fact, she’d had to convince her (meaning she’d had to threated to shave her bald while she slept) not to quit a few times in the past couple of weeks.
It didn’t help that Brittany hadn’t planned well either. She’d been counting on Jake being back by this time, but his dad was still in critical condition, having had to undergo a couple of risky surgeries. She’d also been counting on borrowing a few helpers from Mrs. Patti’s staff at the diner for the holiday rush, but that also fell through. No one besides Tina had been available.
Not that Tina was a huge help. All the sullen bitch did was skulk around the kitchen, sniffing around Blaine. Quinn thought she didn’t know Blaine was gay. Santana was pretty sure the woman was just crazy and delusional.
Delusional and utterly useless, she thought bitterly as she removed half-empty glasses and dirty plates from a recently vacated table. Tina’s questionable work ethics was the reason why she now found herself moving around tables, refilling drinks, and cleaning up messes. Her cool, sexy bartender gig had turned into a servant’s gig from waitressing hell.
“Excuse me, miss. Excuse me, por favor!”
Santana turned away from the table she was currently clearing, towards the loud, obnoxious old lady who had been calling her.
“Could. You. Please. Get me. Some more. Water!”
The woman, who was so grossly addressing Santana as if she was a demented half-wit, sat primly in her chair dressed all in gold (hair, jacket, shirt, and what could be seen of her pants – her whole get-up was bright gold) holding what looked like an overgrown rat on her lap. Santana could do nothing but stare. She was absolutely, honest to God, stunned speechless.
“Hello, honey! Do you. Understand me. At all?”
“I do,” was her deadpan answer. Was this old hag, with the very obviously fake blonde hair, for real? And what the hell was the freaky creature on her lap staring at her for?
“Ok, because I’m very. Caliente. So I’d like some water. Por favor!”
“I’m from Ohio, you racis−”
“Hi there, is everything alright here?”
Santana shut her mouth, mortified. Brittany had suddenly materialized from somewhere behind her and while her eyes were turned to the obnoxiously retro, rude lady who had been borderline yelling, she’d clearly meant the question for Santana. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything; she stood petrified. From Brittany’s tense, rigid posture, Santana was sure she’d heard what she’d been about to call one of her customers.
And fuck, the rat-like dog was still staring at her. His big black eyes were so large, they took up almost half of his entire face. Santana had never seen an animal this physically unappealing.
“Oh Brittany, my dear. I was just asking this young lady here for some water, but I’m afraid she didn’t understand me. Does she even speak English?”
Santana snapped her mouth shut so hard, she could hear the back of her teeth grinding together. Brittany threw a semi-apologetic look her way before turning her back, leaning down to say something to gold get-some-fashion-sense lady that was too low for her to pick-up. The lady threw her fake ass blonde head of hair back as she loudly laughed, and Santana had enough. She roughly finished removing the dirty dishes from the table and carried the full tray to the kitchen, leaving the two women behind without a second glance.
On her way back she stopped by the bar. She needed a fucking break. Tina was, again, in the kitchen harassing Blaine instead of being out on the floor doing her job. A quick look around showed Brittany was still at that same table, standing just a tad too close to the woman who stood out like a neon sign in her trashy gold outfit.
“You can’t possibly be jealous.”
Santana turned away from glaring at her girlfriend practically fawning over that gross woman to glare at Quinn.
“I’m definitely not jealous.”
“Good. Because that woman looks like someone from those God-awful music videos from the 80s. Whatever was she thinking, leaving her house dressed like that?”
Despite her foul mood, she couldn’t help but smile at Quinn’s jibe. Leave it to her home girl to say just the right thing to make her feel better. She came around the counter so they could talk without risking one of the people sitting at the bar listening in.
“Tell me about it. And that fucking dog. I thought pets weren’t allowed in here.”
“It is snowing pretty hard,” Quinn mused, turning to look out of one of the big windows to the left of the bar. “It probably would’ve frozen to death if it’d stayed outside.”
“Not a huge loss, if you ask me.”
“Hey,” they turned around and came face to face with Brittany leaning over the bar counter, and Santana wanted to die. Why did she keep showing up right when Santana was shit-talking that customer?
“What’s up, Brittany?” Quinn asked when it was clear Santana wasn’t going to say anything. Brittany looked at her briefly before shifting her attention to the other blonde.
“Can you make me a dry martini real quick? Three olives.”
“Sure thing.” Quinn set out to make the drink, and in the two minutes it took, Brittany wouldn’t meet Santana’s eyes. She murmured a “thanks” when Quinn handed her the finished drink and went back to fugly in gold and her lapdog.
“Please tell me you put some rat poison in that old bitch’s drink.”
“She’s not that old.”
She stared at her best friend; surely she must have gone insane.
“Are you kidding me? That washed out hag? She looks like she’s 70. Not even Puck would go near her with a 10-foot pole.”
“Hey! What is that supposed to mean?”
She rolled her eyes.
“Come on, Quinn. Just because you’re now engaged to the guy doesn’t mean you get to forget he’s gross. What about all those ‘MILFS’ he kept bragging about banging back in high school?”
“Oh, please. You honestly believed that? That was all talk.”
“I believe it. No way were those women paying for just pool cleaning. He was cleaning out all their pipes, if you know what I mean.”
“God, spare me, Santana.”
Their laughter was cut short by Finn approaching the bar. They waited for him to put in what they assumed was an order he had from one of his tables, but he just stood there and stared at Quinn. Santana scoffed. Could this day get any shittier?
“What do you want, Finn?” she finally asked. Quinn only raised a finely sculpted eyebrow, staring him down.
“A beer,” he answered distractedly. Santana didn’t move from the spot, unsure if he’d meant it for himself, or if it was indeed an order for a table.
“I’m still engaged, Finn.” Quinn’s sweet, melodic voice managed to carry a frosty disgust that would have sent any sane man scurrying away. Finn still stood there, the ever present vaguely confused, dopey expression firmly etched on his face.
“And you’re still dating our friend, Rachel,” Santana couldn’t help but add, beyond angry by that point.
At least that got a reaction out of him. He blinked in rapid succession, as if waking up from a daydream. He reached into his apron’s pocket and retrieved his notepad. Without another word, he pushed it towards them, turned around, and headed for the kitchen. The two women watched him go, a little bewildered by the whole thing.
“What the fuck?”
Quinn shook her head, disgust apparent on her face.
“I can’t believe Rachel is dating him. What does she see in him?”
“Beats the hell out me. I don’t think even she knows. There’s a reason why she never introduced him to us. Maybe that’s why she threw such a fit when she saw we were serious about working here.”
Quinn made a non-committal sound as she filled out the order on Finn’s abandoned notepad.
“Apparently he’s Kurt’s step-brother, whom by the way I also never met until a few weeks ago. I’m thinking the little troll kept us from meeting her other friends on purpose.”
“Maybe. It is strange that she never brought them around our apartment, at least not since I started living there. Speaking of Rachel, she wants to get together before she leaves to visit her dads. Should we just do drinks at our place sometime tomorrow?”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Santana said, eyeing the clock. Another 15 minutes and they could start handing out checks. “Almost time to go.”
“It’s really coming down,” Quinn said, looking outside again. “Can you cover me for a few? I’m just going to call Puck and tell him not to pick us up.”
“Are you sure? I was planning on staying with Brittany tonight.”
“Oh,” she chewed on her bottom lip. “I don’t want him driving in this snow though.”
“Just tell him to walk over. My apartment is literally right down the street.” Quinn nodded.
“I’ll be right back.”
It took over an hour for all customers to finally leave the restaurant, and then another hour and a half until it was just her and Brittany cleaning the main floor while Marley and Ryder finished up in the kitchen.
“Babe, I got this. Go home.”
“No, no, I want to help.”
Brittany chuckled, apparently giving up on getting Santana to leave the rest of the clean-up for her.
“I just don’t understand why you have to do this,” she uttered under her breath, half-hoping Brittany wouldn’t hear her.
“The restaurant needs to be clean for the next day, Santana. Kind of simple, really,” her girlfriend replied, sarcasm dripping off her fake-cheerful tone. So she heard. And got a little pissed.
“Britt, I know that. I mean, why do you have to do it? You’re the boss, can’t you have one of the guys do it?”
“Santana, I told you already. We have a rotating schedule. The closers clean-up. I’m closing tonight, so I’m cleaning-up. Like I said, simple.”
Maybe she was more than just a little pissed. Santana sighed. Was she being unreasonable, not wanting her over-worked girlfriend to tire herself out even more by doing things that were technically beneath her paygrade? What was the point of owning a successful business and having a staff if you were stuck mopping up shit at the end of the day?
Like, literally. Brittany was literally mopping up dog shit off the floor at that moment, from that little yappy fucking alien dog, no less. Winter had finally set in over Boston with a vengeance, so she understood that her sweet Brittany just didn’t have the heart to make her customers leave their pets outside.
But like they say, no good deed goes unpunished. How did that overgrown rat repay her kindness? By shitting on her floor. And that snotty gold infused bitch didn’t even pretend to make an effort to clean it up. She just hopelessly stared up at Brittany with her big doe eyes, her plastic boobs, and that old plastic face, and was all like “ooops, I’m so sorry, Brittany, my little poochy is just nervous.” And Brittany ate it all up, tending to the customer and even smiling at the slut’s shameless flirting. Santana had been this close to accidently tipping over a drink on top of her fake blonde head when the woman and her stupid pocket-sized dog finally left the restaurant.
“Stupid bimbo,” Santana growled, sweeping at the ground so aggressively the dirt was dispersing everywhere.
“Did you say something?” Brittany asked from further away, around the main entrance.
“Ok,” she saw Brittany look her way, but she quickly diverted her eyes, staring down instead. So, Quinn was right. She was a little jealous. Or like, way jealous. Infuriatingly jealous. And a little mad at Brittany, who hadn’t looked at her once while she started flirting with that disgusting woman, even after she saw how she’d treated Santana. So what? No big fucking deal.
“Hey, what’s the matter?” Brittany’s voice sounded right at her ear. She gave a start, startled by her how close the taller woman was all of a sudden.
“Are you sure?”
“Yep. Just, finishing up here.”
“Hm. Cause you sweep any harder, you’re going to break the broom in half.”
“San,” she heard Brittany sigh. She felt her lightly grasp her elbow. She was about to turn into the touch when they were interrupted by Ryder poking his head out of the kitchen’s door that was propped open.
“Hey, Britt. Marley and I are about done here. Do you guys need any help?”
“No, it’s ok. You guys go, we’re almost done too.”
“Ok, good night you two.”
They called out their good nights and waited in silence until they heard the back door slam closed, signaling the other two had left. Santana then saw Brittany turn to her, but she lowered her head and continued sweeping, albeit less aggressively. She saw Brittany hesitate from the corner of her eye, but after a few moments she also returned to cleaning.
After they finished, they moved in unison to the back of the restaurant toward the little stairway that took them to the apartment upstairs. They’d spent the night there a couple more times since their first date, on days like today when Brittany had to close the restaurant and Santana stayed to help.
But tonight felt off, unlike the other times when they would stumble in the small apartment and move effortlessly around each other, crumbling on top of the bed too exhausted to do anything else besides cuddle close.
Tonight their movements were terse and awkward. They tried climbing the narrow stairs at the same time and ended up pushing the other against the wall. After Santana let Brittany go first, they barely looked at each other as they reached the upper floor and made their way further into the apartment. Santana moved to grab a bottle of water from the fridge and bumped against Brittany’s shoulder from behind, who was in the process of removing her shirt. Momentarily blinded and disoriented, she hit her bare foot against one of the chairs in the small kitchen and yelped in pain. She yanked the shirt the rest of the way off and locked herself in the bathroom before Santana could even try to apologize.
She was frankly fuming at the cold shoulder. Why was Brittany even acting like this? Santana was the one who had a bad day, not her. Even though things had been great with Santana helping out at the restaurant so far, today had been a crappy experience, plain and simple. She thought that after her shift from hell was finally over, she would get to relax and enjoy some alone time with her girlfriend. But apparently not.
She sat on the bed waiting for Brittany to come out. She waited so long, in fact, that she was no longer in the mood for anything. All she wanted was to brush her teeth, relieve herself, wash her face, fall into bed, and forget this day. She briefly wondered if she should leave, and was surprised to realize that she was so irritated she was actually considering staying away from her girlfriend for the night.
When Brittany finally emerged from the bathroom, Santana passed by without a word, closing the door behind her. She took a few moments longer than necessary to get ready, spending a few minutes leaning over the sink and orienting herself. She didn’t know what was going on with them today, and she was upset that she didn’t know how to turn things around. She couldn’t even pinpoint when in the day they had started to go wrong.
Brittany was already in bed when she finally came out. She turned off the light and moved to the other side, sliding under the covers next to a body that was too tense to be asleep. They laid there, tired but still unable to rest. Santana felt inexplicably uncomfortable. Every time she switched positions on the narrow bed, she could practically feel annoyance radiating off the woman by her side.
After a misplaced elbow hit her spine, Brittany finally rolled over until she was facing her restless self.
“What?” she eventually asked when the odd, silent staring started to unnerve her.
“Wanna have sex?”
She started in surprised, and a quick look into her girlfriend’s eyes confirmed she was actually serious. She panicked. She really wasn’t in the mood. Should she tell Brittany the truth, or get over it? Maybe that’s exactly what they needed; sex to relieve this weird tension that had developed between them.
She must have taken too long to answer because Brittany sighed and rolled onto her back. They both laid there for a few minutes, staring at the plain grey ceiling. Santana peeked after another painfully silent moment and saw Brittany was still wide awake. She would have given anything at that moment to know what the other woman was thinking.
“Sorry, Britt,” she said in a small, weary voice. “I’m just not feeling it. I’m kind of wiped out.”
When tears prickled at the corner of her eyes, she realized she couldn’t do this. She couldn’t stay there, in that bed, next to Brittany in that suffocating silence. She stood up in one fluid motion.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I should go.” She didn’t look back at the bed. She looked around until she located her folded clothes on top of a small dresser in the corner of the room.
“Because, Brittany, this is weird. And I don’t know, I think I just need to go home and sleep this day off.”
She started getting dressed, still refusing to face Brittany. She was afraid of what she would see. Would she find the blonde about to ask her to stay, with her big blue eyes all sad and pleading, or would she find one of Brittany’s stoic expressions that she used to mask faked obliviousness and indifference? Which one would hurt more?
“But it’s snowing. The streets are full and it’s freezing.”
“I live close, it’s not a big deal.”
“Just,” Santana stood up straight, so close to a breaking point she was about to pull her hair. She had to get out of there. “Don’t worry, ok? Get some rest and I’ll call you tomorrow.”
She stooped to pick up her purse from floor near the door. She was about to step out when she heard a broken whisper from the back of the apartment.
“Please don’t leave.”
She ceased all movement, hand wrapped around the door knob in a vice-grip. She was almost out the door. She could pretend she didn’t hear Brittany’s plea and keep going.
But damn it. Why did she have to sound so sad?
She let her purse fall back on the floor before turning around and slowly making her way back to the bed. The big shimmering eyes and dejected pout waiting for her almost brought her down to her knees. A sad Brittany should be a crime; it felt so wrong, it physically pained her to see it.
“Britt-Britt,” Santana couldn’t help but go all soft at the sight of the blonde sitting up, hugging her knees against her chest and looking so small. “I’m in a mean, bitchy mood. I’m just not good company right now.”
“Santana. I don’t want to be around you only when you’re good company.” She got off the bed and came closer until she was standing directly in front of her. “I’m your girlfriend, right? That means I want to be around you all the time, even when you are grumpy and full of your vicious words. I want to take care of you,” she finished with a sweet smile.
To Santana’s dismay, she felt herself blush. She was sure she was smiling a huge, dorky smile, and when she couldn’t make it go away she ducked her head to try and hide it. She felt fingers under her chin, and she didn’t resist when Brittany brought her up until they were facing each other again.
“I love it when you smile. This one is like, my favorite. I can’t think when you smile like that.”
“Britt,” she sighed, shaking her head to try and get some semblance of control over her emotions. Where was badass, Lima Heights Adjacent Snix? If only Quinn could see her now. She would probably never let Santana live this down.
“Will you stay? Please?”
“Yeah,” she answered the quiet begging with a gentle whisper of her own. Her breath hitched at Brittany’s blinding smile. But when hands moved to her chest and grabbed the open front of her coat, she freaked out a little. Was Brittany still expecting to…?
“Shhh.” Her panic must have shown on her face. Brittany continued to try and calm her as she removed her coat and let it fall behind her. “Just let me take care of you.”
Brittany waited for her to nod before she moved to raise her shirt, leaving Santana clad in the tank top she had changed into to sleep in. She then knelt in front of her so she could ease her out of the thick wool pants. She leaned forward and kissed her stomach, and Santana was incapable of stopping the soft moan that slipped out.
“Come on, let’s go back to bed.” Brittany pulled her along and pushed her gently until she was under the covers. She then slipped in herself, and moved Santana until she had her back pressed to Brittany’s front. They both relaxed at the easy, comfortable fit. A sudden bout of exhaustion crept over Santana then, and she was about to give in to the pull when she heard Brittany say something right in her ear.
“Do you want to talk about what was bothering you?” she repeated at Santana’s questioning noise.
“Hm,” she fought the heaviness in her eyes to answer. “Just a bad day.”
“Are you sure? Are you still happy with working at the restaurant?”
“Britt,” she pulled the arm holding her around the waist tighter against her body. Brittany answered her silent request by coming even closer, until Santana could feel every inch of her long, lean body pressed to her back. “I love it. It was just an off day. Ok?”
“Ok. Just promise you’ll tell me if—”
“You need to fire Tina, though,” Santana couldn’t help but add. Her pissy mood was all that bitch’s fault, come to think of it. “She gots to go.”
“Can I tell you a secret?” Brittany asked, sounding like she was holding back laughter.
“She actually really scares me. I’m serious,” she continued at Santana’s disbelieving laugh. “I think she’s a little crazy.”
“Go to sleep, Britt,” she said after their chuckles died down.
“Sweet dreams, San.”
“With you, they always are.”