eff_reality: (kim/zoe [Death Proof])
[personal profile] eff_reality
Title: To Tango
Pairing: Brittany/Santana ("Glee")
AU
Note: For my favorite lurker. Happy belated birthday! *Here’s the catch: you’re not permitted to give me feedback unless it’s IN AN LJ COMMENT. Foiled!


This is your only option, the only way you can feasibly graduate on time, I’m sorry. The dean’s so-completely-not-sorry voice echoed in Santana’s head as she literally rolled out of bed and onto her feet. Six AM. “Fuck.” This was so not worth cutting archery half the semester.

Santana didn’t bother changing out of the sweats she wore to bed and managed to pull on a sports bra without taking off her t-shirt. She gathered her sneakers and pulled them on, leaving the laces untied, but took a minute to straighten out her ponytail: her one concession to vanity this morning. She glanced briefly at the clock and shook her head at herself in the mirror. “Fuck me.”

But who needs fucking archery now? she thought, pulling on a light zip-up and throwing the hood over her head. Do I look like Robin Hood? She scowled as she grabbed her keys and headed out of her dorm room and down the hallway. And I’m certainly not about to bust an arrow through someone’s melon if they try to assault me. That’s what my Swiss army knife’s for.

She pulled her zipper higher and shrugged her shoulders as she emerged from the old building, and began tramping her way across campus to the rec center. Six AM sucks. It’s so much colder than any other AM, ever.

To be fair, the dean wasn’t really being accurate; this wasn’t Santana’s only option. She’d had two: run laps with the track team twice a week (no thank you), or this. And she liked dancing. Just not at six fucking AM on Monday morning.

As Santana made her way upstairs to the dance studios, she went over what the dean had told her over the phone. Room 300B. One of the dance TAs will be there to work with you. She exhaled heavily as she approached the studio, noting that, to her shock, there were other students actually awake and working in some of the other rooms. She fiercely hoped that the TA wasn’t chatty; she couldn’t fake conversation about Justin Bieber at this hour.

Some Madonna song greeted her as she shuffled over the threshold and pushed off her hood. The TA—a blonde, of course, in Spongebob pajama pants and a tee—was in a split at the front of the room, folded over her front leg so her forehead kissed her shin. Santana belatedly knocked on the open door. The TA looked up and smiled. “Hi. Santana, right? I’m Brittany.”

“Of course you are,” Santana muttered.

Brittany lifted herself up on her hands slightly, switching the direction of her split so that she faced her. “I know who you are,” she said brightly. “You were in the drag show last year, right? It was really funny.”

“I’m sure it was, Betty.” Santana walked to the front of the room and turned the music off. “Look. The sooner we get started, the sooner I can go back to bed and finish that sex dream I was having about Mariska Hargitay that was so rudely interrupted by my alarm this morning. So let’s skip the chitchat and go straight to getting our cabbage patch on.”

“...Okay.” Brittany’s smile faded, but she didn’t rise from her split. She reached for her iPod and offered it up to Santana. “Here, pick a song.”

Santana scrolled aimlessly through Brittany’s playlist, darting stealth glances at her all the while. She was folded over her leg again. Santana wouldn’t admit it, but she knew who Brittany was, too, way before they’d met just now. Their sophomore year, Brittany had been featured in a dance showcase at the PAC (Santana had only been there to pull a late night prank). She remembered stopping in one of the balconies on her way down from the prop room (industrial adhesive for the musical theatre director’s desk chair—classic), to see Brittany—Brittany Pierce, she’d later read in a pilfered program—dancing her ass off to “When Doves Cry,” her wheat stalk hair whipping streaks around the entire stage.

Even with the way she was contorting now, the curves of Brittany’s figure were indiscernible under her pj’s, unfortunately. Santana shook the memory of long bare legs and spandex out of her head. Her fingertip skipped over The Very Best of Prince and went straight for Bjork.

Brittany pulled her legs in and got on her feet. “Your shoelaces are untied,” she offered, stretching out one of her triceps.

“And you’re wearing Spongebob pants. I don’t think you’re in any position to judge.”

“If you don’t tie them, you’re going to fall on your face. Come on,” Brittany quickly retorted, smiling to herself as Santana bent down and got to work.

*

Santana groaned as her alarm buzzed on Thursday morning. “Six AM, we meet again,” she rasped into the dark. Going from there, however, was much less painful than it had been on Monday, surprisingly so. She’d have been lying if she said she hadn’t enjoyed herself; Brittany was an awesome dancer and a good teacher, even if she had the IQ of a pop tart.

Not that Brittany’d said much to confirm that, or at all. After Santana’s Spongebob remark, Brittany’d been all work and no play. They’d gone through a brutal round of stretching (Santana couldn’t bend over and touch her toes, let alone do a split) and then spent the rest of the hour going over choreography to some salsa or merengue song. Santana suspected it had been chosen in honor of her Latin roots, and she’d had half a mind to bitch Barbie out for it—except the song was hot. The actual dancing had gone pretty well, and Santana was one hour closer to freedom.

The second morning, she found Brittany in 300B bent in half, her legs spread and her hands on the shiny wood floor, an interesting position to say the least, considering she’d traded the Spongebob pants for a powder blue leotard and booty shorts.

“Ooh, me gusta.” Santana pushed her hood off, tilting her head in appreciation. “You’ll be a shoo-in for the swimsuit competition.”

Brittany came upright, shooting a glare at Santana’s reflection before striding over to her iPod. “Come on, let’s stretch.”

Her icy tone got Santana quickly moving to her usual spot at the center of the room, behind and just to Brittany’s left. She concentrated on the sounds of Radiohead instead of her own remorse, extending her arm over her head and bending like a teapot.

After a moment, Brittany’s voice—about halfway closer to the one she’d greeted her with that first day—broke her concentration. “Thank you for tying your shoelaces.”

Santana looked down at her sneakers as if noticing them for the first time, and nearly fell out of her position. She righted herself, glancing in the mirror just in time to see a triumphant smile fading from Brittany’s face.

*

Brittany wasn’t as insufferable as Santana had originally expected, as far as straight girls went, anyway. She didn’t talk much, and when she did, her words rarely went beyond encouragement: Good. Shoulders back. Nice. Be sure to bend your knees a little. Perfect. All in a not-quite-there voice that managed to be calming and unnerving at the same time.

And Santana had to respect how dedicated Brittany was. On one of their off-mornings, she’d stumbled upon her in the dining hall fixing herself a big bowl of Lucky Charms, her cheeks flushed and a light sheen of sweat covering her face and chest. She’d obviously already been at it, rehearsing for God knows what, maybe a sequel to sophomore year, maybe “Raspberry Beret” or “Little Red Corvette.” As much as Santana’s instinct had been to avoid her (and she fully expected Brittany to follow suit), Brittany’d had other plans, nudging her shoulder with her own as she walked past—making her stomach flip in that ridiculous adolescent way and her hands pile a few too many french toast sticks onto her plate.

Their fifth meeting, Brittany announced that they were going to start working on something new. “Have you ever done the mambo?” she asked, twisting and tightening a black band around her hair.

Santana rolled her eyes. “No.”

Brittany smiled and cuffed her on the shoulder. “Haven’t you ever seen Dirty Dancing?”

“No.” Yes. Just the other day, Santana’d been reminded of that scene where Baby’s practicing her dance moves on the bridge—after she’d found herself doing the same thing while brushing her teeth.

“Well,” Brittany continued, turning her back on her to fiddle with her iPod. “When Baby has to replace Penny for that big performance at the club... this is what they do.” After a moment, another Latin beat was blaring through the speakers. “Okay.” Brittany took a deep breath as she turned back to Santana, physically positioning them opposite from each other. “Pretend I’m a guy.” She motioned for Santana to put one hand on her shoulder and grasp her opposite hand with the other.

But Santana’s hands remained on her own hips. “All that does is make me want to throw up.”

“Okay, then pretend I’m K.D. Lang,” Brittany deadpanned. When Santana gave her another look, she huffed a breath. “I don’t know, just follow me.”

Santana swallowed and stepped forward, positioning her hands. Brittany gave her a reassuring smile, placing her free hand on her shoulder blade so that their arms rested one on top of the other.

“Now, watch my feet and see if you can follow.”

“You’re not going to start singing ‘Hungry Eyes,’ are you?” Santana arched an eyebrow.

“No, I can’t really sing.” Brittany glanced down at their feet, sounding wistful. “Okay. Remember what Patrick Swayze says: the mambo starts on the two.” She waited for the next count of eight and began the steps, shifting her weight from hip to hip as she took a small step forward, together, and then back together with her other foot.

“Do I mirror, or...?” Santana stammered.

“No, you do the opposite. When I go forward,” Brittany rocked onto her right foot, “you go back. Then when I go back,” she rocked back on her left, “you go forward. Like a jigsaw puzzle—fill in the empty space.”

Santana lifted her gaze from their feet, the quiet intensity in Brittany’s face making her stomach do that ridiculous thing again. She quickly looked back down, waited a beat, and began to follow. It was a simple step, stupidly simple, but she found herself overthinking it with Brittany’s eyes on her and her smirky little mouth only inches away.

“Easy, right?” Brittany purred, as if reading her mind.

Santana promptly stopped, letting her hands drop to her sides. “I can’t do that with my hips.”

“Of course you can.” Suddenly energized, Brittany picked up her iPod and changed the track to something more contemporary. “It’s in your blood,” she smiled, circling behind Santana and standing close, her fingertips light on her hips.

“What are you doing?”

“Helping. Just follow me. Forward on the right, then back on the left. 5, 6, 7, 8, and...”

As they began the steps, Santana felt the heat of Brittany’s thighs close to her own, closer than necessary, mimicking her movements. After a few beats, Brittany’s fingers spread and tightened at her sides, and Santana felt her own hips rocking to meet them. Her hands fidgeted even as they danced, lost with nothing to hold onto.

“See? It’s just like Dirty Dancing,” Brittany said quietly, her breath rustling Santana’s hair.

It suddenly hit Santana just how alone they were in this huge studio, at six fucking AM, most of the rest of campus asleep and oblivious. She wondered if Brittany was fucking with her or if this really was just innocent for her, if she was that naive.

Santana was too old for this shit.

“I got it,” she said, brushing Brittany’s hands away and moving out of her space. “We can go on.”

That night, after at least an hour of fitful attempts, Santana finally fell asleep and dreamt. She couldn’t remember exactly what happened in her dreams when she woke up the next morning, but she could feel it in the back of her throat and between her thighs. And if that wasn’t enough proof, the brief flashes in her mind, of fluid stomach lines writhing and blue cat eyes fluttering shut, certainly were. Within seconds, her hand had crept down her shorts, bringing her a half-hearted half-asleep relief.

About a minute after that, she was fully awake and fully angry with herself. And angry at Brittany for being a fucking tease. She should have been used to it by now, women’s college and all, and the lines of camaraderie between women were so blurred anyway; she’d had at least three friendships with “straight” girls who did everything short of taking their pants off and throwing them in her face. And they expected her to not be tempted?

In her next life, Santana vowed to be a nun. Or a priest.

*

At their next meeting, Santana walked in a bit early to find Brittany in the midst of a spirited modern dance routine, some angsty 90s rock anthem blaring as she leapt, spun, and tossed herself across the floor, her tee hanging off her shoulders, billowing around her as she moved. As Santana silently watched from the doorway, she realized just how much Brittany held back when they were dancing together, when Santana was learning, and just how intimate it was seeing her do this up close. That performance at the PAC had been compelling, of course—it was a performance, after all. But for that same reason, it had also been self-conscious; as far as Brittany knew, she was by herself now, and she was dancing as such, with abandon.

Santana shifted her weight and knocked loudly on the open door. Brittany gasped a little and stopped in her tracks, stumbling a bit, her temples glistening as she caught her breath. “Hi,” she said, heat darkening her cheeks as she strode over to her iPod and turned off the music.

“How long have you been here?”

Brittany stood as she scrolled through songs, pushing a bunch of stray, sweaty wisps of hair out of her face. “Five, when the building opens,” she mumbled. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Frat boys kept you up?” It wasn’t even a fully formed jab—Santana was still fucking exhausted—but the way Brittany’s head jerked up in the mirror, her eyes wide, sent a shiver of guilt through her, not just for the insult but for what it was protecting. She’d said some pretty bitchy things over these past weeks, but after what happened at their last meeting, this was especially scathing.

Brittany let her iPod fall clattering to the floor and turned to face her. “I’m not what you think I am, stop making assumptions about me. I’m here at six every morning, not just when we meet. I work my ass off.”

Santana flinched. Brittany could be a tough teacher, but Santana had still assumed that she had no backbone.

Brittany licked her lips, gathering more nerve. “Just because I dress the way I do and like stupid pop music doesn’t make me any less gay than you.” She bent down, her fingers fumbling as they unplugged her iPod. “Doesn’t make me less of a human being, either,” she muttered, her face scrunching up as she finally pulled the plug. She plucked her bottle of water from the floor and walked across the room in quick, hard strides, without so much as a backwards glance.

And there it was again, that feeling in Santana’s stomach. She considered patenting it: The Brittany Tumble. Only this time it felt more like nausea. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to get one of the other TAs to work with you. They don’t pay me enough to put up with your crap.” Brittany stopped in the doorway and hesitated before finally turning back. “You can go back to bed. You’ll have to make up this meeting.” She didn’t wait for a response before walking over the threshold and disappearing around the corner into the hall.

Santana was sure she’d never stood so still.

*

It took three full days of guilt for Santana to gather her nerve to go searching for Brittany’s dorm room. In the meantime, some other overenthusiastic dance student had already e-mailed her, full of exclamation points and ideas for what they could work on at their first meeting. Santana ignored it, hoping that once she apologized there would be no need for that, that she and Brittany could pick right back up where they left off and forget that entire conversation ever happened, all of it.

The search took less time than Santana hoped. Brittany’s room was on the first floor of the adjacent building, the first in the complex. Other than a bunch of flyers for dance shows, her door was pretty standard, with she and her roommate’s schedules posted and a white board for people to leave messages. Santana wondered how lame it would be to write “Sorry for the harsh words. Still want you for my Patrick Swayze” in dry erase marker. She took a deep breath and knocked.

A tiny girl with short blue hair answered with a smile. “Hi.”

“Hi,” Santana waved, feeling awkward. “Is Brittany around?”

The girl opened the door wider as Brittany shuffled over in fuzzy purple slippers, holding a notebook over her lap, a pencil braced between her teeth. She said something that could have either been “Hi” or “Oh” or “Hey,” before removing the pencil and sticking it behind her ear. She tossed her notebook over her shoulder and walked out into the hall, pulling the door shut behind her. “What are you doing here?” She sounded more genuinely curious than annoyed or angry.

“I, um...” Santana stepped back, startled by the sudden reminder of Brittany’s height. She cleared her throat and lowered her eyes to the floor, as if there would be courage to harvest there. “I wanted to apologize. For what I said the other day—well, pretty much every word that’s come out of my mouth since we started working together. You’ve been getting up at the ass crack of dawn to make sure I graduate, I’m really in no place to be giving you shit.”

Brittany lowered her eyes, that same little smirk she was sporting when they danced the mambo tugging her mouth up at one corner.

“I’m sorry I was such a bitch. It was uncalled for.” Santana clasped her hands in front of herself and waited.

“It’s fine,” Brittany eventually shrugged. “I’m used to it. That wasn’t really the reason I left.” She crossed one fuzzy purple foot over the other, suddenly awkward, or as awkward as a dancer could be. “I’m—.”

“What?” Santana stepped closer, suddenly very interested.

Brittany hesitated, pulling at the bottom of her t-shirt a bit. “It wouldn’t have been so hard to deal with if I wasn’t attracted to you.” She looked up. “It makes it kind of hard to take your insults.”

Santana blinked, reeling at the confirmation of those words Brittany’d left her with at their last meeting. So she hadn’t imagined that, nor had she imagined the intention in Brittany’s hands when she’d had them wrapped around her hips. “I didn’t even know you were...”

“Yeah, most people don’t.” Brittany pursed her lips and shrugged again, and fuck did Santana want to kiss her.

“I think you’re...” Santana felt heat blossom over her cheeks. “Well. Let’s just say I have a lot to learn about misdirected feelings, too. So.”

“So,” Brittany laughed sweetly.

“Um.” Santana’s sneakers inched their way between Brittany’s slippers. She licked her lips, opened her mouth, and stood on the balls of her feet, but not to insult—or mambo. And she still couldn’t believe just how welcoming Brittany was.

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