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The One That Got Away

Chapter Text

The One That Got Away

Or

The Five times Rachel Kissed a Girl and the one time the Girl kissed back

And in another life

I would be your girl

We keep all our promises

Be us against the world

And in other life

I would make you stay

So I don't have to say

You were the one that got away

The one that got away

The second time Rachel kisses a girl was at the end of her first year at NYADA. And what surprised her, the most about that encounter was not the way she responded to the kiss (or how wet it got her) or what happened after (her third ever orgasm and first girlfriend).

What surprised Rachel the most was the first image to pop into her head was that of Santana in her cheerios outfit, leaning against the doorway of the choir room. That ever present smirk on her face and a chaser of an insult falling from her lips. It was jarring yet it suddenly all made sense in a weird 'oh my goddess' epiphany considering the first time she had kissed a girl, it had been Santana.

And even as she finally realizes what she truly wants, she knows that all she'll ever have are memories. And the only thing she does is to change her facebook status to taken and… gay. The taken part lasts about four months although the gay stays there for the longest time.

Four Years Ago

She's not uncomfortable as she used to be at these parties of Noah's. The first time she had come was sophomore year and that had been a complete disaster from the start and all she can remember was crying in the downstairs bathroom until Santana had barged in angrily, demanding she let people use the facilities and telling her she could easily cry in the garage and bother less people.

Then each subsequent party got more familiar and had less tears although the one constant was Santana's ever present insults. Her clothes or shoes or just her presence, nothing could sit right with the fiery Latina and all Rachel could do was to accept that their interaction would always be like that, quick strikes that hurt and cut.

This time, she seeks it out, not because she's used to it but mainly because she wants it over with so that she can at least enjoy her last few days in Lima before flying to New York and finally absofinalfuckinglutely begin her life. She knows she's a bit drunk when she curses in her head. So she walks through Noah's house, stopping every now and again to say hi to Tina or to make plans with Kurt as to what to do in their first week in New York.

She even finally spent more than thirty minutes talking to Quinn. Not the stilted half conversations they were prone to but a full blown one with plans to meet up since Yale was only an hour or so away from New York. She still felt so guilty but its buried deep within and she tries to focus on Quinn's hazel eyes and not the chair that she's still in or the fact that her hands keep fidgeting with a piece of paper. Her dreams of dancing at Nationals never really materializing but she was still as determined as ever to try.

So Rachel promises that she'll visit first chance she got and bends to hug Quinn because at last, they were friends like her and Mercedes or Tina or Sugar or even Brittany. It was something she had truly hoped for and even if it had taken an accident and not marrying Finn to achieve it, at least it was finally true.

Her only regret was never being able to bridge the gap with Santana. It wasn't as if she didn't try. Even Finn had managed to at least stop the volley of insults if only to accept that without them, he and Santana would barely say five words to each other.

"San…" She hears Brittany's voice up ahead and it stops her in her tracks. Out of all the couples in Glee, they were the only ones still together. Tina and Mike had broken up last week. She and Finn hadn't even lasted through Valentine's Day. Kurt had caught Blaine kissing Sebastian which at least led to their Glee Club banding together like nothing before.

Kicking Blaine out and supporting Kurt brought all of them together, giving them a solidarity that only came with time and circumstance. But it also left only two Glee couples and Mercedes and Sam held on longer than anyone of them could imagine. Only finally ending it not because of any third party or drifting apart. But only because they knew they were going to different colleges and maybe time apart would eventually bring them together.

With her and Finn, it wasn't for want of trying. They had tried so hard, giving up parts of themselves for each other. Only to finally realize that they were losing themselves, so Finn had actually done the one right thing by breaking up with her. Her initial shock soon replaced by a feeling that she was always going to be missing something.

"Please don't be mad." Brittany's voice drops and Rachel can picture her reaching out. "You know I love you right?" She's pleading now and Rachel holds her breath, wondering if this is really the end in more ways than one.

"Then why….why won't you just come with me." Santana's voice sounds so different from the razor sharp words spat out in her direction every now and then. She sounds broken, off, like she's lost.

"I love you so much."

Rachel feels like she's intruding now so she hurries back from where she came from, running into Noah.

"Hey. What's the hurry?" He's slightly buzzed and she can see him staring at her breast as opposed to her face.

"Nothing." She bites her lower lip as she glances back to see Brittany reaching out but Santana slapping her hands away with such force that she can hear the retort of the contact.

"Cool. Just have fun Rach, ok?" He touches her cheek and she remembers how sweet he can be, "And maybe later we can make out in my bedroom since you're not with Finn anymore." And then she's reminded that he tends to not always think with the head on his shoulders.

She rolls her eyes at his raucous laughter and turns to wander around trying her best to navigate away from Brittany or Santana only it seems that Noah's house is not as big as she thought it was as she passes a bedroom only to hear that familiar voice.

"Please B, don't…don't leave me." Santana's crying now, sobs swallowed because she's trying to get all her words out. "I thought… we had plans…" Her voice has that harsh quality like she's hurting and it's the only way it can leak out.

"We can still be together, just not you know…in the same city."

"That's not being together, B." Her voice drops. "I thought we would be together always…I love you."

"I love you too. It's just that…it's a full ride and I get to dance." Brittany's crying too, her muffled voice most probably because she's hugging Santana, her face buried in the crook of the Latina's neck. "We can still be…"

"What? A long distance couple? NYU is a long way away from UCLA." She sounds shell shocked like the news was slowly seeping into her, squeezing any ounce of hope and happiness out of her.

"Yes but."

"No." It's the way she expels the word, like she's trying to keep herself together and not just break open only that word opens a floodgate and what comes out are the sound of cries so heartbreaking that Rachel feels an ache in her chest.

"Let's go home, we can..."

"No." This time Santana shouts. "We're done."

It happens so fast that all Rachel has time for is to brace herself as the door slams open and Santana barrels into her, Her hands reaching out to steady herself but more to offer some form of comfort because the look on Santana's face is pure agony.

"Just get the fuck away." The snarl accompanying the words is feral but Rachel does not let go. Instead, her fingers curl around Santana's wrists even as she feels the girl push at her. "Get off." her voice hoarse and shattered.

"No." Rachel's tone soft even as she firmly holds onto Santana, "Please, let me..." But she does not have the time to finish as Santana pulls her hands free, her shoulders down as she rams into Rachel, sending the smaller girl into the wall before she falls to the ground.

Still Rachel tries to reach out but Santana rushes past and the sound of Noah's front door slamming sounds more final than anything else she's heard tonight.

"Rachel?" She looks up to see Brittany standing there, her eyes red and puffy as her hand reaches out to help Rachel to her feet.

"Hey Britt. Are you…are you ok?" She sees Brittany shake her head.

"Did you hear any of it?" What Brittany lacked in book smarts, she more than made up for in intuition.

Rachel nods even as she averts her eyes. "Sorry, I didn't mean…I.."

"It's ok. Maybe you can…You're going to NYADA right? Maybe you can see her when you're there. Make sure she's alright." Brittany looks at her so earnestly only she can't help but shake her head.

"We're not friends Britt. I mean I really wish we were… but you and Santana. We've been teammates and I've always wished…but we're not friends and now it's too late."

"Why?"

Maybe she has overestimated Brittany's level of insight. "Because in a few days, we'll all be going our separate ways and it's too late for that. So no."

"You sound like Santana." The tears that accompany that statement makes Rachel feel like she's responsible for the blonde's sadness only she knows that its actually all on Santana and all she can do is maybe try because that was what she had wanted all along.

Do you know which dorm she's staying at?" Brittany just stares at her before swiping at her eyes and finally pulling Rachel into a hug so tight that Rachel feels like she's completely safe and encircled.

"It's the farthest from Campus.." she sees Brittany give her a half smile like she's reminiscing before the state of her situation hits her and her face falls. "…because it's the only one with a dance studio around the corner…for me. Will you promise to go and see her?"

She takes her promises seriously, never making them lightly and always keeping them regardless of how long it took. Rachel had a long list of them, some already fulfilled while others she knows will take time, like actually finally calling Santana a friend.

'Ok"

And because it felt like a huge weight on her, she didn't wait until New York, actually going over to Santana's the day before she was to fly to New York.

#$#$#$#$#$

"Can we talk?" Her tone is unsure and she's actually thrown by the fact that Santana hasn't as yet insulted her or slammed the door in her face. Rachel can see that she's preparing herself though as her hand tightens around the handle of the door. "Please."

"What do you want?" Santana feels like she's barely hanging on although she knows that it's only until the end of the week and then maybe when she leaves, she'll also leave her heartache behind.

Its wishful thinking more than anything else but she really doesn't have a choice. It was either hope for the best or accept that she'll always feel this empty. She's surprised to see Rachel on her doorstep and even more surprised to see the girl's hand reach out.

For a second, she thinks Rachel wants to make contact like she did yesterday. The distinct memory of Rachel's hands encircling her wrists, that point of contact the only thing that really kept her from collapsing to the ground and just giving up. That one touch allowing her to collect herself and at least leave Noah's house without embarrassing herself further.

Only now, Rachel's hand does not make contact but hovers in front of her, a piece of paper held between tapered fingers. Instinctively Santana reaches out to take it. Rachel's handwriting was so much like her, rounded letters threatening to spill off the page with stars that dot the i's. Emotion poured onto paper.

"It's my dorm address. And walking directions from the nearest subway station….Daddy found a vegan restaurant about eight blocks down although there are numerous coffee shops in the area. I'm not really sure if they use free trade coffee beans although if the Lima Bean here does then don't you think the coffee shops in New York would too?"

The words come out in a rush like she needs to fill the silence that she knows is distancing her from Santana. And when she makes eye contact, she can see Santana's expression morph from surprise to disdain in about five seconds flat. Still, she does not give up as her eyes go back to now focusing on the paper in Santana's hands. Those tapered fingers grasping the flimsy cut out paper.

Suddenly, she's hit by a mental picture of those fingers trailing up her arm and actually shakes her head which unsurprisingly perplexes Santana enough to spur her into finally reacting as she arches her eyebrow (giving her a more devilish look compared to when Quinn would do that.)

And that one look suddenly speaks volumes to Rachel as she takes the implied dare and steps forward. Her momentum driven by an unsaid need as her hands grip soft cotton and pulls forward.

The kiss is wrong, the trajectory too fast and contact too hard. But then Santana takes over, her knee pushing between Rachel's legs as her nails dig into pliable flesh. Her head tilting and her tongue pushing through.

And Rachel finally understands the concept and execution of taking one's breath away. Sharing the same space with the Latina and feeling that tongue caressing, her breath stolen by proximity and arousal.

But as quickly as it occurs does it stop just as abruptly when Santana pushes her away, causing her to stumble backwards as she falls, scraping her palms on the floor as she sees Santana shut the door with so much force that she feels the air it displaces, push against her sprawled bare legs.

She scrambles to her feet and does not look back figuratively and physically, leaving for New York on the first flight out of Columbus the next morning.

End Part 1

Chapter Text

 

The One That Got Away

The third time Rachel kissed a girl, it happened to be Quinn Fabray and to be absolutely honest; it had been a long time coming. Although when it finally did occur, she convinced herself that she was pretty drunk at the time and though Quinn had been more than willing, it was just a onetime thing. The encounter unplanned but culminating in the best sex she had in her life up to that point.

And it would have been perfect except they never talked about it after, Rachel feigning being an amnesiac drunk and Quinn maybe blaming hormones and probably the solar flares as well as intrinsically understanding (and convincing herself) that everyone experiments in college and it was a better experience than the freshman fifteen. No further contact except for that one time.

It wasn't as if it meant anything (except that she knew it kind of did) because after that encounter, Rachel realized that she wanted to only kiss girls even if she couldn't really admit that there were just two that kept plaguing her mind.

And turning over in bed, hoping to see honey blonde hair splayed over off white sheets, she can't help her tears when all she remembers are rumpled sheets and the lingering smell of Jasmine and Lime accompanying the sudden ache she feels in her heart.

Three Years ago

Rachel spends the entire bus trip going over conversational starters in her head. 'That's a nice skirt' would not do as it would draw attention to Quinn's legs which as far as she knew was still not working.

'How's all of your classes?' was generic enough but definitely not friend worthy and therefore not good enough as a conversation starter with Quinn Fabray. It wasn't that she's dreamt about this but ever since Quinn's 'Hey You' message on her facebook wall, she hasn't stopped thinking of the blonde.

Her (in her mind) nonchalant, 'It's been a long time, what are you doing this weekend?" back had gone unanswered for two days which made her feel foolish and very much like she had in High School when she had tried to reach out to Quinn.

Only, a message appeared back as if Quinn was working up the courage to press send, an invitation to come out to New Haven for a long promised tour. And Rachel didn't care about appearing desperate or showing her need as she answered back as fast as her fingers could fly over the keys, saying that she'd be out on the first bus she could catch Saturday morning.

The bus depot is surprisingly busy such that when she alights, she has no idea how Quinn was going to maneuver through the throng of people with her chair. She's so worried about that happening and racking her brains as to how to find Quinn that she misses the girl walking towards her until she feels a slight tug on her elbow. She looks up into hazel eyes that she swears has a hint of gold to them and her jaw drops open.

"You know, if I thought walking was all it would take to leave you speechless, I may have tried it that last month before Nationals where you just couldn't stop with the critiques." Quinn tempers her words with a smile even as she leans a bit to the left, tilting her head to give Rachel the once over.

"Looking good, Berry."

And all Rachel sees is Quinn standing even if she has a silver cane supporting her and all she feels is the pressure in the pit of her stomach, like she's short of breath. And before she can form words or finish that thought in her head that would indicate how best to address this change, Rachel launches herself at Quinn, almost pushing the blonde to the ground only to wrap her arms around her and pull her close at the last second.

"Oh Quinn, I'd always hoped…I'm so sorry I…" And her tears come unbidden even as she tries to tamp down on her guilt, not wanting to ruin this one moment where Quinn's actually standing and hugging her back.

"I knew. I always knew you'd… walk." There's a hiccup on the last word as she tries to swallow her tears even as her hands go to wipe them from her face because she does not want this to be about her but about Quinn instead.

"Well, for a short time, you were probably the only one." Quinn remembers giving up so clearly when she first got to Yale. The classes already so demanding that the physiotherapy was akin to torture especially when she could see no improvement day after day and week after week. So she just stopped. Stop going and stopped talking to her old friends because they would remind her of her promise to walk.

She couldn't completely stay away though, still trolling their facebook pages, smiling at Santana's use of syntactic expletives on her page to Rachel's postings of the roles she was auditioning for and her score of getting them compared to not.

She had to blink a few times when she saw Rachel's status change and finally understood that that everyone was truly moving on with their lives. They were changing and she had remained stagnant. She had gone back to physiotherapy that afternoon. Pushing through the pain and gradually regaining her ability to walk.

And when she thought back on all the times she'd be on the verge of giving up, she would remember Rachel being there, egging her on even if it wasn't her intention to do so. So the first person that came to mind, the minute the doctor had finally given her the all clear, was Rachel.

Except she hadn't spoken to the girl in over a year even if she still felt that she knew her or at least the old non-gay her. So Quinn fretted for about a month more as she stared at Rachel's facebook page, reading her ever changing status and wanting to reach out. In the end, she types the two words and presses send before she can change her mind.

Not sure if Rachel would even respond but she does and four days later, she's standing here hugging the hell out of her and crying.

"I'm so happy for..you…Quinn." She's still blubbering and knows that it's not the best first impression to make but she's so damned happy that she actually doesn't care that her eyes are puffy and her nose is Rudolph red.

"Hey, it's all good, ok?" Quinn's hand finds her and tugs on it as she starts to walk towards the exit. Rachel keeps her pace, her eyes trained on Quinn, how she uses the cane so naturally that the limp is imperceptible. It still hurts her heart but the warmth of Quinn's hand in hers and that smile on the blonde's face brightens her mood as she nods at Quinn's words.

They spend most of the late morning on a walking tour around the Green, Quinn pointing out the memorials and old buildings, especially pointing out Toad's Place, extracting a promise from Rachel to someday perform there.

She takes a picture of Rachel in front of Calder's mobile and laughs when Rachel whips out her own phone to take a picture of Quinn taking a picture of her, both of which go straight to their facebook accounts racing to see who could upload faster.

They end up at Kosher Kitchen for lunch, Quinn pointing out the vegan dishes and Rachel amazed that she not only remembered but had actually admitted to trying out the food yesterday just to be safe. The food ends up probably being really delicious although Rachel's pretty certain that she can't say for sure because she's distracted each time Quinn touches her arm and nudges her with her shoulder to make a point.

"So what else haven't I seen?" Rachel feels sated and is amazed at the tranquility and beauty of the Branford Courtyard as she looks at Quinn standing in the middle, her arms outstretched as she gazes up at the clear blue sky. Quinn finally looking comfortable in her own skin, the low slung jeans and multicolored sweater accentuating her figure and that happy look on her face, tilted up, eyes closed to catch the last rays of the sun.

"My dorm room." The invitation is implied or so Rachel thinks as she blinks at Quinn, trying to figure out if Quinn was asking or telling. But all she sees is that impish smile and all she feels is a flutter low in her belly, anticipation overlaid with this pull to go wherever Quinn asked her to.

Not trusting herself to speak, she just nods shyly before tilting her own face up following Quinn's lead and catching the last rays of the sun before it disappeared behind the clouds.

#$#$#$#$#

"Ohh, wait, do you remember this…." The words are accompanied with a dance move that in no way could be considered smooth or good but its Quinn and she still has the elegant grace that can only come from years of training and pushing herself such that even the stupid disco hands and shuffling feet looks poised and polished as her cane is discarded to one side.

Rachel can only giggle as she takes a really big (in her mind) swig from the bottle of tequila before unsteadily getting to her feet and mimicking Quinn's dance move. She only gets as far as the third step before she misses the turn and collapses onto the carpeted floor.

"You ok?" She blinks at the question, not sure why her vision is so blurry until she feels Quinn's hair ticking her nose and realizes that Quinn's looking down on her, their faces only inches apart. She tries to focus, her eyes drawn to pink lips and wide hazel eyes.

"Rachel." Quinn's voice drops to a whisper, her name coming out in a breath that Rachel captures as she tilts her head up, their lips meting and Quinn's eyes widen before slipping shut.

Quinn's fingers finding purchase on Rachel's shirt as the brunette's arms encircle her, pulling her down, their point of contact increasing even as the kiss deepens. She feels Quinn's deft fingers pulling on the buttons of her shirt and wants to help only her hands seem frozen, the need to hold Quinn overriding the need to feel skin on skin.

Then Quinn moans her name and Rachel truly wonders if she'd dreaming this, if she's fallen into some sort of alternate universe where her desires and distant dreams meld together to play tricks on her mind because she hasn't been with anyone in months and she's actually had this particular dream (Quinn moaning, check, Quinn on top of her, check, Quinn trying to get her shirt off…well that was new and so much better than anything she could imagine.) more than a few times since.

She actually whimpers in protest when Quinn pulls away only to have all words and most of the air in her lungs disappear when Quinn arches back and pulls off her sweater in one incredibly sexy move. Rachel's mouth goes completely dry and she has to stop herself from reaching out for either the tequila bottle or to touch Quinn, just co convince herself that this was really happening.

She doesn't do either only because she feels the pressure of Quinn's legs on hers, and her own fingers are now busy pulling at those stubborn buttons on her shirt, in the end not caring that it was one of her favorites as she pulls it open, sending a few of the buttons flying. It's worth it just to hear Quinn's giggle at her actions.

But even more worth it was that particular look through half closed eyelids, Quinn's mouth partly open as she tilted her head back to thrust down on Rachel, sending sparks up Rachel's spine, causing her to lift her own hips upwards to keep contact and experience the pressure, building up to a point where she thinks she won't be able to think straight much less reciprocate except she does as her hands wrap around Quinn's waist.

And Quinn seems to have the same idea as her hands make contact with Rachel's exposed belly, splayed across like she wants to make an imprint, before she bends forward, her fingers trailing down, her thumbs already drawing small circles on Rachel's soft skin, just beneath the button on her jeans.

They move in tandem, unsnapping buttons and wiggling out of their clothes, always in contact, skin on slick skin, fingertips leaving a trail of desire as they touch and probe. No words uttered but such promises made, gazing into brown eyes filled with passion as Quinn's tongue finds her pulse point on her neck.

It's only when Rachel's hands brush against the jagged scar on Quinn's side does she pause, her need somewhat muted as she's reminded of her own hand in the accident.

"Don't" Quinn's quiet entreaty somehow bringing her back as she stares into hazel eyes filled with passion and yearning.

"You're beautiful." It was an incontrovertible fact borne by time and needing to be said even as Quinn shakes her head in response. Rachel traces her cheek, her finger following the sharp angle of Quinn's jaw line. "You're beautiful on the inside, Quinn, always have been, always will be."

The smile she elicits is a sight to behold but more than that, the kiss she receives is searing, full of promises of things to come, experiences to encounter together even as she feels Quinn finally let go, her need overriding her insecurities as she guides Rachel's hand down as they finally(finally) come together.

End Part 2

Chapter Text

The One That Got Away

The fourth time Rachel kissed a girl, she had sworn off alcohol and been on a cleanse for about a month and a half, preparing for her debut as second lead for their Junior Production at NYADA. Trying to focus on school and the play and not on herself and that hole she feels within that is only getting bigger each second of each day.

The entire inane situation, all of it, just making her irritable and to be honest more of a facsimile of Santana, at the height of her bitchy reign at McKinley than anyone else she could think of. Sniping at everyone including her Director and costars and actually earning her a nickname that she neither likes nor fully deserves but just accepts because she thinks she just needs to get through this year and maybe, (she hopes and prays), it would be better and she wouldn't feel so lost.

And then she actually turned up and Rachel really was lost.

Two Years Ago

So she completely ignores the pounding on her dorm room door, not even bothering to say anything as she scrambles to cram all her accumulated stuff into the eight half-filled boxes scattered around the room. She could have moved out sophomore year except in the back of her mind, she always felt that maybe she'd get a visit from the few people she'd given her address to. And Mercedes and Mike did turn up, as did Tina and Artie.

She would never admit that she was keeping track and ever hopeful that the one last person she had scribbled her address down for would also eventually find her way there. Because how difficult was it really to take the Broadway subway from NYU, the name in itself a big frigging clue. But staying in campus housing for two years was enough and maybe she really did need a change.

Maybe accepting that hoping and wishing would never get her what she wants and accepting that, was the first step. Only, she hears that voice accompanying the loud knocks and it sends a frisson of anticipation through her that almost makes her lose her footing when she turns around to stare at the door.

"Berry, open the damn door."

She can already picture the sneer and wonders, actually pictures Santana in her mind, leaning against the door jamb in the always too short cheerios red skirt. It stops her from opening the door because Rachel knows that sometimes, her imagination was way better than her reality.

The only time that was proven wrong was last year but the aftermath from that encounter was something that she knew she didn't want to experience again.

"Rachel." But it's really the way Santana says her name because she's never heard it in that particular voice, not in jest or frustration, just enunciating it, saying it aloud like they were friends.

Rachel opens the door not sure what to expect except for the rush of anticipation as she remembers that first kiss.

She sees Santana Lopez standing there, her foot scuffing the worn rug that Rachel had snagged from home, her hands shoved deep in the pockets of her leather jacket, and that somewhat familiar expression on her face that Rachel has pegged somewhere between pissed and infinitely miserable.

"So instead of coffee, I want a drink or five." There's no hello or how's things? Or god forbid, even ,'looking good Berry' said in a low husky voice that makes her toes tingle each time she thinks of it even though the ache in her heart that takes over soon after, makes it seem like torture.

"It's been two years." Actually, just shy of that, seven hundred and sixteen days to be exact but hey, she was the only one counting in her head and maybe it was better out than in as she stares defiantly back at Santana. "What do you want?" channeling the Latina was easy when she was standing toe to toe with her; it was surprisingly like looking in a mirror. Two sad expressions don't make a happy one but misery apparently really loved company.

"I want a drink and you look like you could use one too." There is still a bit of bite in Santana's voice or maybe Rachel is just projecting but it's not like what's she's saying isn't true. Only Rachel knows that even though alcohol may improve her short term outlook, it wasn't really going to fill that hole she's been trying to ignore since last year.

Rachel weighs her responses swiftly and finally she stands there and laughs, a big belly laugh, knowing that the jokes on her but even Santana's increasingly pissed look is just making her laugh more as tears stream out and she's laugh crying or was it cry laughing since the situation is as far from funny as she could get and this was her defense mechanism kicking in because her first reaction was just to cry.

She sees Santana staring at her before turning on her heel to go back the way she came. And Rachel knows she needs to make a choice. Stay and pack or go and lose what little dignity she had left. Simple choice really as she grabs her pea coat and her wallet, before following Santana down the stairs.

#$#$#$#$#

Rachel tells herself she's not counting when the bartender puts the fourth glass of wine in front of Santana and exchanges her half-finished ice tea for another. "So how's pre law?" So far, she's got two 'maybes', a 'not a chance in hell' and a couple of grunts and one 'Are you fucking kidding me'look to all the questions that she's posed to Santana.

The Latina's only focus really on gulping down the pinot noir and catching the eye of the bartender as soon as she finished in order to get another. And her response to that question being a shrug of her shoulders before she finally takes in Rachel, looking at the brunette up and down.

Rachel's hair's longer and she's lost some weight, probably more than she should but she does sound the same and the only question Santana really has is whether she taste the same as well.

Rachel knows when she's being judged and she resist the urge to look away because she finally picks up on that one want of Santana's that's suddenly so clear. Maybe it's because she's not drinking and can discern every look and understand that some questions cannot be posed but needed to be answered nonetheless.

So she braces her hands on the bar top as she leans forward, this kiss not as quick as her first, because she telegraphs all her movements, holding Santana's gaze before looking down at her lips, the initial contact made, so feather light before she pushes forward, her hands cupping Santana's face as she kisses the hell out of her.

Coming apart only because she realized that she needed air in her lungs and passing out in the bar round the corner was almost as stupid as kissing Santana in said bar. And allowing herself one stupid thing was going to be her limit for the day.

Only Santana seems to have a very different idea as she grabs on to Rachel's hand, flinging a fifty dollar note on the bar top and pulling her back towards her dorm. It's only when they get to the traffic light does she pull away, her hands going around herself because she still feels like reaching out otherwise.

"Why are you here?"

The question tentative and really not Rachel Berry-like at all but truth be told, she really is lost and just needs some kind of direction, a map of some kind maybe, something to let her find her way back.

"You asked me to come." Santana's words like a beacon of sorts, not completely true because there were no words, just an address on a piece of paper but the invitation was implied and apparently finally accepted.

They barely make it into the room, a tangle of limbs as they crashed against the wall, Santana's arms supporting her even as her legs curled around the Latina's waist. Santana carries her into the room, Rachel's arms around her neck as they kiss, tongues dueling, even as Santana bites down on Rachel's lower lip, wanting to do that ever since she opened the door.

Rachel breathes her in and it triggers so much heat pooling within even as she feels teeth scraping and nipping without, hands pulling at her clothes that she doesn't even care if the door is closed or maybe not, just needing to feel every inch of Santana as she pulls off her jacket and t-shirt, thankful for the clement weather that meant less layers of clothes to remove.

But a naked Santana was so worth the wait and it's a multitude of sensations, not new but just long dormant and all Rachel wants to do is not slow down, her fingers working feverishly, hands exploring ridges and curves, as she kisses Santana each time she finds a patch of bare skin. Each taste so different from the one before and finally Rachel doesn't care as she loses herself.

#$#$#$#$

She blinks open her eyes and freezes because what she expects to see and what she actually sees are just two so very different things that she really does feel like maybe she's finally gone off the edge. Started hallucinating because she shouldn't have given up alcohol and no self hating twenty one year old drama student would have except for her.

But even as she blinks for the twentieth time (she does actually count), there's a still a hand laying across her abdomen, attached to a softly snoring (oh my goddess, she's actually snoring) Santana.

And Rachel does not know what to do as she lays there, idly following the spider cracks on her ceiling, as she tries to go over conversation starters in her head. She's about eighty per cent through with the almost perfect way of asking Santana to breakfast that involves mentioning bagels and a really funny cat story, when reality hits like it normally does.

"Tell me you have some aspirin." Santana pops open an eye to look at her, her words almost slurred as she slowly gets up, her back to Rachel. She can hear her rooting around for her clothes and Rachel just keeps quiet when Santana pulls on her 'I'm Glad You Came' joke t shirt her first and only girlfriend gave to her.

She does however grab some water and puts two aspirin into Santana's outstretch hand before retreating to the furthest side of the room as she braces herself, telling herself that at least she gets some closure this time.

Santana dry swallows the pills because her hands are shaking and she can't quite open the bottled water. She does not even consider asking Rachel for help because what she was probably going to do say to her was more damage than she should inflict without asking for any more favors.

Santana closes her eyes at the word, because last night wasn't a favor, it was intense and raw and she felt, she felt something that she just cannot verbalize. She hears Rachel clear her throat and use that damn tentative voice that she really, truly hates more than she hates what she needs to say next.

"What made you come now?"

She does consider lying because she knows she's good at it and can actually get away with it only, Rachel deserves the truth and she knows she deserve the look of hate that would follow.

"She's engaged. Her mom sends out these quarterly family emails. I got put on her list junior year when …" When she sang that song and Brittany finally, absolutely, irrevocably understood that she did love her. "He's a cadet pilot. They met because his sister was in one of her dance classes."

She can feel the tears roll down her face but cannot bring herself to wipe them off although she does turn away, staring out of Rachel's dorm window instead of at the beautiful brunette that she's making stand in the corner of her own room.

"The wedding's not until she graduates but they wanted to announce the engagement and share the happy news." each word in each sentence running on to the next, no inflection in her voice as she tells Rachel exactly what she had been used for. She wants to say sorry, to explain that it wasn't her intention but deep down, she can't be sure that it wasn't one of the reasons that finally gave her impetus to turn up at Rachel's door two years later.

Santana had over the course of the seven hundred days or so contemplated reaching out but didn't know what to say and didn't really feel like apologizing because it did feel wrong to say sorry for a kiss that even if she didn't initiate, she really did enjoy. So she stands feeling sorry even if she cannot verbalize any of it.

And instead of volatile angry words or looks of utter hatred, all she sees is this sad smile gracing Rachel's face even as her hands go around her middle and she blinks her eyes as if chasing away any tears.

"Did it help you forget?" Rachel's question direct and Santana knows she needs to look at Rachel when she answers it. But there really are no more words so she nods because for that one night, she did.

Rachel remembers soft touches and the feel of a hug, whispered words, blond hair and hazel eyes and she really wished she didn't. "Me too."

Maybe using each other to get lost for a short time was ok.

End Part 3

Chapter Text

The One That Got Away

The fifth time Rachel kissed a girl was at her Graduation or to be exact, two hours and twenty minutes after she got her degree and sung her original song on stage, leaving her dads blubbering in the audience and almost missing that last note when she finally spotted her standing off in the corner.

She thinks it's a mirage, her imagination in overdrive like the time she was so sure Quinn was standing in the rain on the opposite side of the street staring at her apartment window, a forlorn expression on her face. Only, a boy had come, twirling the girl who just looked like Quinn, around and kissing her, leaving Rachel feeling foolish and still very much alone.

Except this wasn't a conjured image from her fevered brain but Santana actually standing there. Sunglasses over her eyes and still wearing a pissed look (Rachel could tell even from this distance) along with a tasteful little black dress with a demure neck line that accentuates her chest and makes it completely unfair because Rachel cannot tear her eyes away. It was bringing a gun to a knife fight as she held that last note and instead of closing her eyes and letting loose, she keeps her eyes focused on Santana (and maybe a bit at her chest), still holding the note regardless.

One Year Ago

"You were a bit sharp there at the end but it was…it was beautiful." It's not the sentence she had wanted to open with. There was a joke somewhere about long notes and hearing Rachel come that she figured would at least elicit a smile if not a roll of the brunette's eyes followed by a huff and a perfect Rachel Berry storm out.

But seeing Rachel on stage, hearing that voice (which was worth sitting through lectures and critiques and fights over solos all through high school if she were being that honest), it was truly a gift, and all of it made her realize that she was still that confused girl who knew what she wanted but didn't really know how to get it.

Her behavior had been abysmal but worse, she had not picked up on the fact that Rachel had been hurting too, that she had wanted to forget something or rather someone as well last year. And Santana figured that taking the year to take stock of her life, actually applying herself in her classes and getting early admission to law school, it all finally culminated in her knowing that she still had one more thing to do.

Rachel stares at her, wide eyed and still trying to decipher the hidden message she just knows is coating all of Santana's words. She just doesn't get it though as she stands there looking back, waiting for the punch line or maybe just the punch.

"About last year…using you.. not about the sex, that was..that was pretty spectacular but I …I am sorry about after, not keeping in touch. You were…" Her words are stilted and she actually blushes when she mentions the sex and Rachel wants to ask her who she really is and what happened to the fiery Latina who didn't give a damn.

Only, she actually feels her heart flutter at this incarnation of the ex-Head Cheerio and try as she might, she can't help the small smile from forming on her face, even if she can recall with great clarity feeling like she really didn't matter for the longest time and still carrying the vestiges of that feeling even if it has somewhat lessened now with Santana standing right before her.

"Do you want to grab a drink?" It's about three in the afternoon and she needs to meet her dads for dinner, hopefully not inebriated but maybe it would help her get through the inevitable questions of whether she had someone special in her life that they were primed to ask and fret about when she would shake her head.

And this time, Santana really does surprise her with her answer and she has to really control the urge to reach out and touch Santana to see if she really was there and maybe tug on her hair a bit just to make her react and say something that would indicate that she was still the Santana Lopez. "You ever find any of those coffee shops with free trade coffee beans?"

She remembered. Well Rachel remembered every thing, she just never thought anyone else would. She remembered every prank and mean word along with the songs sung together and post win hugs or cries depending on the results from all those competitions. And definitely all the conversations that probably meant more to her than the people she was having them with. Because she was prone to feel every single thing, she just never forgot.

"Yeah, I..umm..I did." She gestures for Santana to follow as she makes her way to that one café where she has this table in the back that gives her a view of the sidewalk. She's written more than a few songs there, taken calls from her dads and daydreamed about her future, all happy memories and on two occasions brought a girl. The first one had been in her sociology class, tall, blonde and in no way (in her mind) reminded her of Quinn.

And she guessed this was the second time even if it would be a stretch of the imagination to call it a date but here they were, all dressed up and actually speaking civilly or as civil as you could get if you got over the sunglasses and the sneer that seems to be Santana's go to look.

Rachel actually takes the initiative and orders for them, extra hot, tall, black coffee, Arabica beans with just a hint of cinnamon for Santana and a Chai Latte, soya milk with some foam for herself. She purposefully ignores the eye roll she receives from the Latina as she moves towards the pick-up counter, craning her neck to see if her table at the back was available.

She knows this entire situation should feel uncomfortable, sitting across from the girl who treated her with disdain in high school, ignored her one brave overture that last week in Lima and who last year swept into her life, slept with her (giving her probably the other best sex experience she's ever had) and then admitted that it was a ploy to forget Brittany.

However, to Rachel, it really doesn't feel all that bad compared to her own issues of denial, avoidance and right now paralyzing fear that she's already peaked in college and the real world was just going to chew her up and spit her out and she'd never find love.

Which meant in her mind, sitting across from Santana in the one place in New York that she felt safe and happy in wasn't that bad compared to what she needed to face tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. Knowing she wanted things (maybe just one person) that maybe she could never get.

"How did you know my order?"

"We went to the Lima Bean weekly that last year." Sometimes in groups and on one occasion only Quinn had turned up and Rachel remember her wheeling herself towards their table and instead of talking about song lists or dance moves, Quinn had told her about Yale and which college she'd hope to get into. It was before Rachel understood why she felt compelled to reach out to Quinn and Santana and before she accepted that she was in love with one of them.

"So you just remembered my drink order?" Santana really wants to know, to gauge if she had missed out on something then and maybe accept that she should feel regret now.

"Medium Drip and a Non Fat Mocha for Blaine and Kurt. Iced Mocha with extra whip for Mercedes, Vanilla bean latte with mint for Brittany…" She stares at Santana knowing she'd made her point. She had been their friend even if they never wanted to admit it.

"Why did you come?" She's heard Santana's apology or the sorry makings of one and to be honest, she didn't even expect that much. Which meant Santana needed her to forget again maybe or well, she really could not think of any other alternative of why she would turn up. Which meant like before, she had to make up her mind if her dignity or the opportunity to forget was more important, and looking at the black dress hugging all of Santana's curves, Rachel kind of already knows which side of that internal argument she was going to land on.

"You announced your graduation day on your facebook page along with your status."

'Gay' She never did take that down and it was neither a label or a status but just the truth so why bother.

"Who is she? That girl you're trying to forget but…can't." Santana is not sure if she's ready to hear Rachel's confession even if there's this tiny part of her that thinks maybe. She sees Rachel think over the question, her two hands gripping the mug so tightly that she figures there's an internal battle going on somewhere inside the diminutive brunette. She's also hit by that one particular sense memory of those fingers and rounded nails dragging down her arched back.

"Quinn."

And that one name snaps her out of that particular memory, consigning it somewhere deep inside because she's still second best and even if she didn't want to be first here or even if she did, it didn't matter anymore.

Rachel notes the change in Santana's demeanor almost immediately. She cannot reconcile the look though because she sees anger and disappointment, mixed in her brown eyes. They were never...it wasn't…but maybe it could have been and just as sudden, she feels that pang of disappointment within.

"Santana…" it's the first time she's used her name and it does not feel foreign or strange just sad that it took two kisses and four years to get to this point. "You don't even like me." There is no rancor in her voice just a sense of trying to make a connection here even if she knows it's just too damn late for the both of them.

But she sees Santana smile at her statement, not smirk or give her that feral grin that signifies harsh words are on its heels. An actual smile with that dimple peeking through, "I tried…not to like you." She truly had, she had tried to hate Rachel only she never could. "I really did. I mean you're this irritating know it all with the most amazing voice and completely entitled attitude." Rachel actually nods at her description, not in agreement but just because it had been and possibly still was the prevailing view.

"Only…I don't ...I don't hate you, Rachel." And maybe that's why she won't be Rachel's first choice. It can't be about negative acknowledgement, it had to be about being the one and maybe if she had taken the chance that day in Lima or even last year or on any of the intervening days since, maybe things would have turned out differently.

"Well, I don't hate you either. In fact, Santana Lopez…I think I maybe like you." She feels the weight of Rachel's hand as the brunette places it over her own, a physical link augmenting her words.

And then it happens again as Santana arches her eyebrow and Rachel suddenly knows she's a goner, conditioned to take that particular challenge. Pavlov's dog really had nothing on her.

As she leans forward, her forehead touching Santana's, both their eyes open as her lips make contact. The kiss is gentle, soft and so so different from their first. But it also means so much more than that one ever could.

It's not a kiss borne out of a challenge with no thought of consequence and it's definitely not a kiss borne out of hurt and the need to maybe forget for a short time. It's a kiss of what could have been, a hint of what may be and a promise that they could never hate each other.

As she pulls back, she sees that Rachel's crying and she somehow knows it's not about her or what they've shared.

"So, you're gay for Quinn Fabray." No malice in her tone and Rachel actually detects just a hint of regret.

"Yeah. go figure" Makes sense to admit it to the one person who actually can empathize. She wants to ask about Brittany but does not want to ruin this understanding they've finally arrive at. "Although, kissing you made me realize the gay part before Quinn made me realize…the love part."

"Bummer." it was succinct and to the point and Rachel clinks her mug against Santana's coffee cup in agreement at her assessment of her current situation.

"You know those pacts that friends make like if they're both not married by the time they're forty, they'll get together, get married, have kids…" Rachel cannot believe words like friends, pact, married and kids just came out of Santana's mouth but she just nods.

"Let's never do that." And the burst of laughter it gets out of Rachel is sudden and so infectious that they giggle and laugh for a good five minutes before Santana finally continues.

"We're going to be alright."

And when Rachel kisses her goodbye, it doesn't feel like the end but the beginning.

End Part 4


Chapter Text

The One That Got Away (Alternate Faberry Ending)

They're holding hands, swinging their linked hands between them as they walk along the sidewalk, like they're together, more than friends maybe. Not linked pinkies but clasped hands, fingers curled and intertwined and Quinn just cannot understand what could have happened to result in Rachel and Santana walking together like they're a couple.

She's not sure what to do next when she sees them duck into Toad's Place, the flyer still clutched in her own hand and the feeling like she's again been left behind. However, this time, she knows that it's her own damned fault for feeling like that. When she had seen the flyer at the record store in Boston, she took it as a sign.

'Rachel Berry performing for one night only in New Haven's Historic Toad's Place'.

Quinn had asked her to, promised to be in the front row when it happened and she had to take that as a sign because God knows she's been trying to make sense of everything even if it was more just trying to ignore most of it until it got to a point where she couldn't because every brunette she came across reminded her of Rachel.

And if she was being brutally honest, she couldn't not think of her, how she tasted, the feel of her as she opened herself up to Quinn, that look in her eyes that reflected so many different emotions that still resonate within her. It was too much to bear and yet something that she secretly craved because it made her feel.

It made her realize what she had been missing all along, love and longing and that singular knowledge that someone actually loved her that much. Or at least used to. She had a chance, definitely more than one and she just never took it and now, it would seem like she was too damn late.

4 Years Ago

She's never not come to any of Puck's parties. Initially as a form of rebellion because God knows Russell hated the fact that he could never call Puck's mom just to check up on his daughter because Puck's mom didn't go to his church but to Temple instead.

Then it became tradition for the Glee Club to unwind after a competition, to let loose and maybe mingle with the jocks and cheerleaders that didn't take the lines of hierarchy as seriously as some of the others did.

And there was just no way that she wouldn't make it to the last Senior party of the year, especially when she knew that she would have maybe that one last chance to talk to Rachel, to make plans, to maybe put herself out there since they were both going to be in the same state.

Quinn convinces herself that it's no different than her letting Santana know that she expects her to call and not only because she needed answers to her psychology exam. But maybe it was different because she's actually written a note, not only her dorm address but possible dates when they could meet up and the bus and train schedules for New Haven.

It wasn't in any way weird and even if it was, they were friends and Quinn felt the need to ensure that their friendship didn't die.

Only when she did finally have that talk with Rachel, some pop song blaring in the background and Rachel's eyes on anything except on her, she just couldn't give her the note. Rachel said all the right words, she just couldn't look at her or look at her damn chair and maybe Quinn realized it was just timing and she needed to get out of the chair so that when she did finally reach out, Rachel could actually look at her when she replied. And at least there was still the promise to meet up. And by then, she's sure she'll be ready for Rachel Berry.

3 Years Ago

It scares her how fast she goes from euphoria to sheer terror once she opens her eyes and noticed the tiny brunette curled into her side. It's irrational but the fear gripping her senses is so overwhelming that she actually has trouble pulling in a breath and knows that she needs to get out of there because she was going to fall apart and it would ruin any chance of continuing whatever had just occurred between her and Rachel.

So Quinn eases herself out of bed, only stopping when she hears Rachel moan a bit before tucking her hand under her chin. She looks beautiful and miraculous and what they shared yesterday was exactly what she had wanted even if she could never admit it out loud. Except she does not know what next and that uncertainty, that knowledge that she's so far from where she ever thought she'd end up, that frightens her beyond belief.

She pulls on her clothes and tells herself that she's really just going for coffee, the caffeine a necessity to wake her up and maybe bring back that soy latte for Rachel. There's a small coffee shop about fifteen minutes away that specializes in organic produce and makes the best chai latte she's ever had.

Only, when she comes back carrying the takeaway cup, she still cannot bring herself to enter her building. Instead, she sits in the foyer of the building opposite, the beverage getting cold in her hand but the terror gripping her heart not really dissipating in any way or form.

Her eyes begin to tear when she sees Rachel walk tentatively down the stairs, her hands clutching the front of her shirt where Quinn knows some of her buttons are missing. And what hurts is she can see Rachel crying as well as the brunette swipes at her tears before buttoning her coat, still looking around, probably hoping to spot her.

And Rachel actually stands by her building for a good twenty minutes looking this way and that, her hopeful expression eventually morphing into disappointment and finally settling on hurt and betrayed. Like she'd been used and thrown aside and she finally realized that Quinn wasn't going to show up. Quinn felt it then, that sharp stab of pain as Rachel's face crumpled, her tears not ebbing as she realized her predicament. That final look before she started running towards the bus depot would stay with Quinn for the longest time.

2 Years Ago

"Have you talked to her?" Quinn pours more than she should into the glass before holding it out to Santana, the amber liquid sloshing over the side but disappearing down Santana's throat as soon as she grabbed hold of the glass.

Quinn takes a swig herself from the bottle before going back to search for the book Santana was asking to borrow. Only she knows that there's more to the conversation than just the need to borrow a psych textbook. She can hear the undercurrent of desperation and anger in Santana's voice and can see that she's teetering so close to the edge. It's a replay of high school each time she had broken up with Britt or they had a fight.

"Who?" Yet the Latina seemed hell bent on making Quinn drag it out of her as she feigned ignorance to Quinn's question, even if the both of them knew that there really was only one her that pervaded Santana's thoughts.

"She calls me every two weeks or so…." It had been the impetus to reach out to Santana. Listening to Brittany talk about her fiancée and still ask about Santana hoping that the Latina was ok. It made Quinn feel like the worse friend ever because she didn't know if Santana was ok or not and if she knew of Britt's own engagement.

So calling her and demanding she come to New Haven was necessary as was pushing her now to let out whatever anger or grief she was bottling inside. Santana grabs the bottle from her hand and fills her glass, downing that shot before pouring herself another until Quinn's hand still hers.

"Do something or move on but don't keep it inside." Such easy cheap advice to give even if she herself could never take it as she recalls brown hair and brown eyes and that feeling like she's falling that ends abruptly because she's still alone and too damned scared to do anything about it.

"How can she love someone else?" Santana thinks it's an impossibility for her to think of anyone else the way she thought of Brittany. The girl had been her life, she was the reason she woke up in the morning. She had been the reason why she stayed in God Forsaken Lima instead of leaving the first chance she got.

"Maybe…" Quinn thinks that saying it may actually make it true or maybe it's still wishful thinking but it's her only avenue, "Maybe, you can too? There has to be more than one person for us out there. I mean I thought I loved Finn for God's sake and even Puck and Sam…maybe. I did love them. For that time, I did. So there can't be just one …"

The desperation in Quinn's voice is palpable and Santana thinks that she's trying to convince herself just as much as Quinn's trying to convince her. "Right?" Quinn looks at her, desperation shining through.

And Santana thinks of tapered fingers encircling her wrist, that one kiss that she does still think about because it had been sudden yet so natural in the scheme of things and it had felt right. She still has that damned piece of paper too, tucked in her passport in her dresser.

"Maybe."

1 Year Ago

She managed to get Rachel's address from Mercedes but does not do anything about it until she realizes that they will all be moving on and this was maybe her last chance to make amends or to reach out or to finally give into what she knows she really wants deep inside if only she could just maybe admit it out loud to the one person whom she needed to tell.

It's one of those dreary days in New York, wind and rain mixed with the cold and she can't seem to stay warm even if Jim's arms are around her. She knows he wants to move forward with their relationship and has been incredibly patient with her, giving her space and accepting that she wanted to just be friends first. His insistence on accompanying her to New York to show her his view of the city was sweet even if all she really wants to do is just see Rachel.

"So whose address is this?"

Quinn really does not know how to describe Rachel. 'friend, lover maybe.' All she knows is that she needs to see if she's finally brave enough to take that one step forward. She does not answer Jim and is relieved to see him distracted by the guide book in his hand as he stands on the corner to get his bearings and Quinn stares across the street at Rachel's building.

On any other clear day, it would be obvious that she's there for a reason. But the rain is coming down in sheets and she's hunched into her jacket, just looking at that one window that she just knows is Rachel's because it has that treble cleft stuck on the window pane.

She swears she actually sees Rachel staring back at her and she does not look away as she closes her eyes to take a breath and finally take a step. Only she feels Jim's hand grab at hers, pulling her around even as he dips his head to catch her lips.

It catches her by surprise and when she pushes at his chest, her eyes going up to the window, she doesn't see anyone there and loses whatever courage she thought she had.

#$#$#$#$

"When does Brittany's flight get in?" Rachel fiddles with the sound equipment. Not really knowing anything but she can't really keep still so she twiddles the knobs on the speakers pretending she knows what she's doing even as Santana looks at her from the chair she's sitting in and rolls her eyes.

"In an hour or so and she'll pick up a car and drive over. You know you're going to break that and I'm pretty sure whatever they're paying you.." Her eyes looking over the premises before surmising that Rachel was doing this for something or someone and not for the money, "it's not going to cover that."

"I can still send her the invite." She knows that Quinn's in Boston and that Rachel's stubborn and scared in equal measure. They apparently had a lot more in common that she could ever imagine. And because of that, it had been Rachel who bridged the gap for her with Birtt.

She had reached out and when she found out that not only had Brittany broken off her engagement but was miserable and it had been so easy for her to talk about Santana and push the Latina into admitting that she missed Brittany too and it was never too late for the both of them. All they needed was really the time apart to realize that they were meant to be. Distance and stupidity was easy to bridge.

Pride took a bit longer but with Rachel always pushing, it was easy to just admit that she never stopped loving Brittany and for the blonde to admit that LA was great in all aspects except for one. Santana wasn't there and therefore, she didn't think it was that great. And calls turned into weekends together which turned into her asking Brittany to move in with her.

It had taken four months to convince her during which time Rachel had bombarded Brittany with enough Dance job offers and opportunities to convince her that New York and Santana needed her a whole hell of a lot more than LA would.

It made Santana feel beholden, it made her want to kick Quinn's ass even if Rachel kept telling her that it didn't matter anymore and the reason she needed to do this one performance was her need for closure.

Her own dreams were slowly taking shape. It had been her graduation song that caught the attention of a record producer who actually offered Rachel a contract resulting in her six songs EP actually making it on the iTunes chart, not breaking the top twenty but doing well enough such that she's been getting gigs and offers, though the only one that made her smile was the one from Toad's place.

She's still fidgeting with the knobs when she hears the door open and wonders if Brittany's early and she'd have to make herself scarce because she knows that Santana wants to welcome her in their own special way. Which more often than not meant very public displays of affection and having sex in said public places that Rachel envies but would never admit to.

But when she looks up, the greeting dies on her lips because it's not Brittany standing there but Quinn. Quinn looking beautiful and real and there and she finally figures that the fact that Santana's been having sex and she hasn't in the past year finally has resulted in her losing her mind and hallucinating. She blindly reaches out to the Latina only to hear that voice.

"Rachel."

She's dreamt of this moment, she truly has which is why she just can't believe it's true as she turns on her heel and rushes out the back, her hands shaking as she tries to unlock the back door only to feel Santana's arms encircling her from behind, her chin resting on her shoulder, her voice, sure and true in her ear.

"I didn't call her. I wanted to. And the fact that she's here…Well I could kick her ass for you or…or you could go back in there and listen to what she has to say." And Rachel takes a deep breath, finally accepting that she's not crazy or dreaming.

"What if…"But Rachel feels like she's lost that ability to take that leap. That she's put herself out there so many times and it didn't work and maybe it was time to grow up and accept that it never would.

She feels Santana's hands tighten around her waist, "You won't know for sure until you try and…if it doesn't..I'll kick her…" Santana doesn't get to finish the sentence as Rachel turns around and buries her head in her chest, hugging her with all her might before she takes that one last deep breath and walks back towards the front stage.

#$#$#$#$#

There are times where words are necessary, where things need to be said out loud and reiterated because that was the only way a bridge could form and relationships could mend. There are times where the right words make all the difference in the world and each word, each inflection allows for an understanding to form and to forge a new beginning.

In this instance though, the second Quinn sees Rachel walk back into the room, she doesn't think of saying all those beautiful words she's been rehearsing in her head or even just that all-encompassing sorry. She just acts, driven by need and instinct, finally recognizing that she's been missing the better part of herself and she has this one chance to finally be whole.

She pulls on Rachel's coat, her hands fitting around the brunette even as she bends forward and kisses her. Fitting together like they were meant to, the kiss so long coming that even if it's a foregone conclusion to a story that started in Lima perhaps, it is still necessary. As Quinn tightens her hold on Rachel and Rachel finally gets kissed by the girl.

The End

Chapter Text

The One That Got Away (Alternate Pezberry Ending)

Rachel tells herself that she needs this and it was the only way she could get closure even if she hasn't thought of Quinn in months. But maybe the invitation to perform at Toad's Place was really a sign. Even if she didn't believe any more about serendipity and love, it didn't mean it didn't really exist. It just meant that it probably didn't exist for her. So she quickly signs the contract before she leaves her apartment as she really does not want to be late today.

And Rachel knows that even if she was still unlucky in love, she had so many other things going for her. Her EP on iTunes was at number 24 this morning. She had to blink about fifteen times, rubbing her eyes as she looked at the charting on her laptop. The fact that she'd never performed on TV as yet and her music was just being talked about on the internet. Coupled with her graduation you tube video actually getting close to a million hits and a couple of hundred thousand reviews, was just overwhelming. Even if about one hundred and eighty six of those comments actually came from Santana (she most definitely counted and noted the word sexy appearing about eighty two times).

Better yet was the number of offers to perform, small clubs around New York and at the end of the month, an actual appearance on the Tonight Show. There's still a chance they would cancel if a bigger musical act was available but Rachel doesn't care because she finally feels like she's doing what she loves and is actually good at it.

It in no way fills that particular hole she knows she has in her but even that was slowly fading. She knows it is because she feels it less and less and when she hears her phone ring (the melody some old Katy Perry song that she picked but does not want to admit means something) she knows exactly why that is and smiles as she answers.

"I'm just walking to it now. God, impatient much?" She can picture Santana rolling her eyes as she leaned back into the chair, a steaming cup of coffee in front of her as she sits at their table. They meet up every week or so if Rachel doesn't have any auditions or gigs and Santana can tear herself away from her law books.

And miraculously, they haven't missed a date, not a date date, although Rachel knows that she's skirting close and tries not to think of that because they were friends and she cannot afford to lose another like she had lost Quinn or more precisely, Quinn had lost her.

"Don't try to sound like me." Santana's voice warm in her ear and she can also tell that the Latina is smiling. "You fail every time. Besides why would you want to?"

"It's the most sincerest form of flattery. Come on...You know you love it." Rachel sees the café up ahead and hurries her steps, the light still blinking green as she steps off the sidewalk.

"You're lucky that I lo.."

The motorcycle swerving round the corner so fast that all she hears is the sound of its engine over the sound of Santana's voice and all she feels is the impact as it crashes into her.

She thinks she hears Santana's horrified scream but cannot be sure as her consciousness fades because the pain is too intense.

#$#$#$#$#$#

Santana looks at her watch, trying not to tap her foot in impatience but still somewhat anxious to see Rachel. It's not a feeling that she really wants to examine too closely. They're friends, both living in the same city and sharing a past. It made sense to meet up, have coffee weekly and talk about, well everything.

Santana had rushed through her last class, ignoring the dirty looks sent her way by the bitchy TA that she knows just has it out for her even if Rachel keeps telling her otherwise. She had less than an hour to get to the café and she didn't want to be late, at least not today.

She knows it's kind of stupid to want to acknowledge a one year anniversary where she told Rachel that she didn't hate her. Only, Santana finally understands exactly what she had been trying to convey even if she couldn't say it correctly then. It should never have been about not hating Rachel and today was the day she'd correct that.

Spending the year, telling Rachel about her classes and how she actually likes Corporate Law, not Criminal or Civil Law. How her course is so tough and sometimes she feels like quitting. But then Rachel would give her that patented 'Are you fucking kidding me look' that she knows actually comes from her. And likewise, Rachel would tell her of the auditions she didn't get and more often than not the ones she did.

Texts and calls and this one weekly date make her feel…something. And even if she didn't want to address that early on because they're just friends who don't hate each other, the parameters drawn up a year ago in this very café, she knows that things do change. So instead of just thinking about Rachel, she whips out her phone and calls. Santana just cannot ignore all the signs that say otherwise anymore as she focuses on the voice over the phone and works towards deciphering her true feelings.

There is no need for a 'hello' or 'hey' as she leans back in the chair knowing that Rachel's a minute away and they're already fake bickering over the phone. It's comfortable and she looks out of the glass panels, already making out the diva walking towards her, her head down as she clutches the phone to her ear.

And it hits Santana then, that frisson of longing and love that she's been trying so damn hard to work through. But just looking at Rachel and hearing her voice, it finally pushes through all her damn defenses, scaling over the wall she's built around her heart. And she cannot hold back any longer as she says the words, "You're lucky that I lo.."

She doesn't get to finish the sentence as she sees Rachel get hit, her body sent sprawling even as she screams Rachel's name.

#$#$#$#$#

She calls everyone on her way to the Hospital; Rachel's dads, Mercedes, Kurt, Tina, Brittany, Finn and even Quinn. Her voice hollow and scared such that Brittany does not recognize it or realize it's her until she actually has to say her name.

She cannot give them any news except for the fact that Rachel is hurt and for the life of her, she cannot understand why (apart from Rachel's dads)no one else sounds like their life was maybe over.

The hospital is busy and it takes her more than two hours of going from one counter to the next to find out about Rachel. In the end she's crying and cursing in Spanish and only then does one of the nurses takes pity on her because she shaking so much that she can't get Rachel's full name out.

"I think she's still in the emergency room, dear.." And that's all Santana needs as she rushes down, pushing through the throng of people looking for the one person she desperately needs to see. And when she does, she almost collapses to the ground. The only thing preventing her from doing so was the fact she finally makes contact with deep brown eyes staring back at her. She sees Rachel sitting up in the bed, her arm in a splint and scratches marring her beautiful face. But alive, whole and looking anxiously around until their eyes finally meet.

Rachel was alive and then she sees it too, love reflected back in that one look, pure and simple and so very scary that Santana does the only thing she can think of as she turns and rushes out, finding the nearest bathroom and emptying the contents of her stomach. This feeling of cowardice was also not new and to be honest, everything she felt for Rachel was so damn familiar even if scared the hell out of her.

Santana loved her, completely, absolutely loved her and the second she thought that she had lost Rachel, Santana had felt lost herself. Somehow, Rachel had become not only her love but her life as well. She remembers loving Brittany, how she felt connected to the blonde and a strong impetus to be a part of her life, her love burning like a low flame, constant and always there until it was snuffed out.

With Rachel though, it was different. Her love didn't burn, it scorched, obliterating everything except for the one truth that she belonged to and loved Rachel, body and soul.

#$#$#$#$#$

Rachel comes to in the ambulance and the first word out of her mouth is Santana's name. Her eyes darting about even as she tries to remove the oxygen mask because all she wants is to see is the Latina as she struggles through the pain.

"Hey, you have to relax. You have a broken arm and multiple contusions and a concussion." The paramedic looks at her with kind eyes and she says Santana's name again even as she tries to stop struggling.

"You're talking about that girl, the tall one who knows more Spanish curse words than my sailor uncle?" It's an apt description even as Rachel finally relaxes because he had seen Santana and was telling her about it. "She was crying and demanding to come with you but it's against regulations. She knows which hospital we're taking you to though. Don't worry; she looked determined to see you."

With those words still ringing in her ears, Rachel ignores the pain as she probed and examined, her eyes peeled for that one person she knows she needs to see when she finally arrived at the hospital. And all through the two hours, she does not give up hope because she just knows. So when Santana finally shows up, her clothes disheveled and a shell shocked look on her face, Rachel does not hold back, showing her love and hoping to see acceptance.

What she does see back is a myriad of emotions and over-riding all of it is a palpable sense of fear as Santana's eyes widen, her hands still somewhat shaking as they look at each other. And Rachel finally knows exactly what the Latina is thinking when she turns on her heels and runs away.

Rachel wants to call out, to say that it was ok but she doesn't because it's not her decision to make. She just hopes that Santana does finally make up her mind and Rachel truly wonders if she'd survive if Santana walked away. Surviving Quinn was one thing but Santana was always a bigger force and more a part of her life that she would ever admit.

But, all she knows is that she's stronger for having known the Latina, spending the year being friends, acknowledging their connection, building up this link that evolved into love. And she just needs to maybe believe again even if she knows that she may not have the courage to do so. And even if she didn't believe in herself, deep down, she truly believed in Santana.

So she still hangs on to her faith in Santana as she keeps staring at the door, even if in the back of her mind all she remembers is standing and waiting at the foot of Quinn's building. Only this time, she does not give up even if more than twenty minutes have passed.

Rachel keeps vigil, not focusing on the pain in her arm and the scratches on her body but just on the door because she knows that this time it has to be different. And it's only when she's wheeled to her room, does she think that maybe…maybe she's wrong again.

#$#$#$#$#

Santana uses all her money she has on her and actually goes to draw some more from the ATM machine around the corner. She's somewhat on autopilot as she picks out the flowers and balloons and that one stupid large teddy bear whose tummy states 'I hope you get better beary soon.' Its close enough that she hopes it elicits a smile out of Rachel.

The room is small and filled with all of it as Santana sits in the corner, waiting for Rachel, the bear on her lap. She feels pretty foolish but she does not move because she knows Rachel deserves this and more. All Santana knows is that this day, this one year anniversary for them is only the start and from now onwards, she'll always be there for the brunette. By her side, holding her hand, whatever it took because Rachel was her life.

She's pretty sure that what she's done now though still does not in any way make up for her turning heel and running away but she hopes Rachel understands that she needed that short amount of time to finally (finally) accept that there was someone else out there for her who loved her not in spite of who she was but because of it; someone, who pushed her and who reached out when no one else could.

So when Rachel is finally wheeled into the room and she sees tears shining in those beautiful brown eyes when she takes in the flowers and the get well soon balloons and that stupid bear on her lap, Santana cannot hold back any longer as she goes to her knees, her arms encircling her love and their tears mingling.

She does not get her first words out though as she hears Rachel's wondrous voice saying them instead. "I love you Santana Lopez. I truly do.." But then she sees it too, that arched eyebrow, that unspoken challenge and she herself gets it. She absolutely fucking finally completely gets it, this pull, this need that's always been lurking there, not to forget or to use as a distraction or some cheap diversion; but this need, this constant pressure on her heart to taste and partake and give herself over completely.

Santana unequivocally understands as she leans forward, capturing Rachel's lips, conveying all her love and accepting love in return. Pure unadulterated love, making her feel that she's finally whole as Rachel finally gets kissed by the girl.

The End