Chapter 19: Take My Hand
I felt myself stir into consciousness with an uneasiness in my stomach.
At first, all I could feel was the aftermath of obvious emotional distress. The exact reason why was not clear, but the memories started to seep in through the darkness ever so slowly. My eyes remained closed, knowing somewhere deep within my psyche that the longer I could put off waking up, the better. I had planned the night to go one way, but it took another turn completely. I had been so ready to face reality after my strangely good talk with Rachel. However, nothing went as I wanted it to go.
We turned into my apartment building, the awkwardness between us only growing. I still had yet to say anything about my behavior, and I knew that Santana was expecting me to as soon as we got inside. After unlocking the door, I followed her inside and turned on the lights. This was probably the earliest I had ever come home from a party, and I wasn't really used to coming home and not being so drunk that I fell over the threshold.
"What did you want to talk to me about?" Santana asked, as soon as the door was closed.
I let out a low sigh, rubbing at my forehead with my hand. I had been so eager to talk after my pep talk with Rachel, it seemed so different how that reality set in. I didn't even know how to talk about it, or where to even start.
"Is this about… That game?"
I looked up at Santana when she spoke again, and could see the apprehension written all over her face. I acted like a complete ass, storming out like a child for no reason at all other than my own irrational jealousy. I wondered what Santana thought made me leave. After all, I had already talked about being straight until I was red in the face. There was no way that Santana would think that it was because I wanted to be the one to kiss her.
I snapped my eyes away from Santana and shook my head. I wasn't ready to talk. Not now.. And not like this.
"I'm tired." I whispered, feeling the guilt that ate at my stomach the instant I uttered those words.
"O…. Kay. Do you want to go to bed?" Santana asked, the disappointment more than evident in her voice.
I nodded, chewing on the inside of my lip. I had never felt so damn insecure in my whole life, and I hated it. I was always overconfident and too loud for my own good. But these feelings changed everything.
"I'll just… Leave," Santana whispered halfly to herself.
"No.. Stay. With me,"
I wasn't sure if that was the best choice, but I didn't want Santana to leave. I needed to talk to her and if it wasn't going to come out of me that night, I was determined to talk in the morning. If I didn't, I was legitimately worried that I was going to destroy myself in the process. Not talking was hurting more.
Santana took a few moments to consider it. I knew that she wanted to, because she seemed to make any old excuse to spend time with me, but I was acting very strangely. Whenever I did that, I usually snapped at Santana or acted like a general dick.
"Okay.. I'll stay," Santana finally decided, kicking her shoes off and padding into my bedroom with a nervously small smile.
I remembered that I didn't utter another word for the rest of the night. Santana tried to talk to me, but I brushed her off and turned to face the other way in my bed. We were about as far away from each other as we could possibly be on the mattress, and although I could tell that Santana was getting increasingly more upset about me ignoring her, I just shut down. When I finally noticed when Santana drifted to sleep when her sniffling stopped, and only then did I drift off.
I could feel movement beside me on the bed as Santana moved to sit up in bed. She was tap tapping away on her phone, probably to check that her friends made it through the night okay. She was sweet like that… I wasn't. She was everything that I wasn't. She was good.
Letting out a shaky breath, I opened my eyes slowly, lettin them travel to Santana sitting up against her headboard. Though I wasn't sure what was going to happen between us, I couldn't help but smile a little that she was still there.. And that she hadn't crept out of the apartment in the middle of the night to get away from me.
There was still hope.
"Hi…" I whispered, getting Santana's attention and letting her know that I was awake.
Santana was quiet for a moment as she looked over at me, warm eyes scanning my face. I knew that she was trying to assess the situation before she said anything in case I was going to blow up or get angry. It was only when she was satisfied that I wasn't a ticking time bomb that she relaxed back into the headboard and offered me a small smile.
There was a pregnant silence between us, bursting with the feeling of what was to come. Both of us knew that we were going to have a conversation about something, but only I knew what about. With Santana's anxiety, it was a wonder that she seemed more zen about it than I expected her to be. Though, after everything, maybe she was getting immune to my bullshit. That wouldn't surprise me.
Moving my body up, I moved into a sitting position and folded my legs underneath me. I was still tired after having a restless sleep through my worrying, but there wasn't anything I could do about it now. This had to happen as soon as possible, and if I didn't do it in that exact moment, I never would. I didn't know where to stay with any of it, much less what I was going to do about it when I did. I wasn't even one hundred percent sure about what I was even feeling. All I did know is that I had feelings for Santana that I'd never had for anyone before - and I didn't know what to do about it. I needed to tell her so much, and I needed to do it before she found someone else and I wasn't an option for her anymore. If last night taught me anything, it was that I really hated the thought of her kissing anyone else. I wanted her to be mine.
"I'm..." I started before closing my mouth and clearing my throat.
My heart was thumping in my chest, stomach clenching with fear. My adrenaline was spiking, and I felt as though I could throw up at any moment.
"Go on a date with me."
As soon as I blurted out the words, Santana's eyebrows furrowed deeply with confusion. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, unable to form any words. I could feel my blood pumping fiercely through my veins, and if I didn't know any better, I would have probably assumed I was having a stroke.
"... W-what?" Santana finally stuttered out, somehow giving me the confidence to actually speak.
"I like you, Santana. I've liked you since.. I don't even know. When I asked you to kiss me after that party, I fucking freaked out. Because I liked it and it was real. I wanted it. I got scared and frustrated at myself for liking you - Liking a girl."
I paused to catch my breath, assessing Santana's shell shocked expression.
"I tried to stay away from you to forget about it all, but I couldn't.. I couldn't stay away from you and it killed me to see you so sad.. I needed to see you and spend time with you. I thought I was finally getting my shit together but I saw you kiss all those people in that game and it hurt. I wanted to tell you last night but I couldn't."
I stopped, looking down at my lap to wipe away the water that was building up in the corners of my eyes. I didn't cry.. Not ever. But there were so many feelings, it was getting increasingly difficult to keep them in. I wasn't one for speaking my truth.
"I'm sorry I've confused you… And hurt you. But please.."
The apartment fell silent. No sound could be heard over the sounds of cars driving past on the street outside. I waited for Santana to say something back, but I wasn't getting my hopes up in the slightest. I didn't deserve her to like me back after how I've pulled and pushed her around so much. After all, Santana could do much better than me. She was a nice person. A good person.
"Brittany… I don't know what to say right now," Santana finally broke the silence. Looking up from my lap, I could see how she was avoiding my eye contact, her eyes filled with confusion and pain.
My chest felt as though it deflated, losing the small amount of hope that I had.
"I don't know either. You're the best thing that's ever come into my life.. You make me feel better - happier. I want to make you feel that way too." I managed to get out, a single tear spilling from my eye and staining my cheek. "If you think I'm being crazy.. Or you won't ever have those feelings for me too, then you can leave and I'll never talk about it again."
After just a moment of agonizing silence, Santana moved closer to me. She reached out, nestling my cheeks in her open, warm palms and brushed my tear away with her thumb.
"Britt… Hey, it's okay," Santana smiled widely at me, her own eyes misty with emotion. "I do.. I do like you. So much. I even liked you before we even started talking. I just never thought you'd ever return those feelings. I'm just….. Confused. But you're not crazy. Not at all,"
A smile found its way onto my lips, widening with each passing moment. My hand moved to cover Santana's where it rested on my cheek, feeling our shared warmth.
It was a sumb question, but I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my chest. So many weeks of thinking and beating myself up over all of my complicated feelings were over. It felt so much better than I could have ever imagined it feeling.
"I'm confused too," I continued, wanting to give Santana the same reassurance she always gave to me. "So fucking confused. But I do know how I feel. And I really like you. In a gay, feelings hearts and lovey dovey kinda way. With or without the sweaters,"
Santana giggled lightly, her cheeks flushing the most wonderful shade of pink. I liked nothing better than making her smile. If I could do that just one time a day, my day was worth anything else it would throw at me. Ten times over.
"I can't believe this is happening," Santana sighed, bringing our joined hands down to rest between us. Our feelings tangled with one another like they had done it many times before. It felt like the most wonderful and natural thing in the world. " I probably look like a mess right now.."
I could see the way her shoulders slumped with lack of confidence. It was because of people like me relentlessly bullying her over years that she didn't see her own worth. I vowed to myself that she would never feel that way ever again.
It was my turn to let my hand cup Santana's face and bring our eyes back to connecting.
"You look beautiful. You always do,"
Getting a smile from Santana, I returned it and closed my eyes as I let our foreheads press against one another. Just feeling her soft breath against my face was a comfort. It was the first time in as long as I could remember that I was blissfully happy. Anything could be happening right now, but as long as I was with Santana, it was okay. We were going to be okay.
"Yes, I'll go on a date with you," Santana suddenly chirped out of nowhere.
"Good," I smiled back, my eyes still closed, wrinkling at the corners with the force of my smile. Santana liked me, and I liked her. I couldn't ask for anything more at that moment.
I let my nose brush against Santana, feeling how she shivered against my touch. Her mouth was open, her breath catching in her throat with our close proximity. I wanted to kiss her - to feel her lips move against mine. This time because we wanted to.. And knowing that I wouldn't run away. I was done with running away from myself and my feelings. I wanted to embrace all of it, and hold Santana as close as I could without ever letting her go again.
She was mine, and I was going to keep her.
"Can I kiss you?" I asked in barely a whisper, my words dancing along her lips.
Before I had any chance to react, Santana's tiny fists bundled in my shirt on my chest, crashing her lips against mine.
A/N: I hope you are all doing well during the quarantine and staying safe. My heart goes out to each and every one of you, and as always, I feel so much love from your continued support. As an essential worker in animal care, I'm still out every day but I wanted to make sure I can give you all something to smile about while social distancing.