Where I Would Mumble, You Would Say
Glee, Brittany/Santana, PG-13. 1400 words. For the prompt "Santana likes to brush and play with Brittany's hair" at glee_fluff_meme. Spoilers for 1.13 Sectionals.
The first time Santana touched Brittany's hair, they were in kindergarten. Brittany had borrowed and broken Santana's green crayon, and Brittany's mom insisted on putting her hair up in pigtails, so it was only natural for Santana to retaliate by pulling at them.
The second time, they were also in kindergarten, and Santana had been pulling at Brittany's pigtails, and then suddenly she stopped and said, "Your hair is really shiny," and Brittany said, "I know," and then Santana fixed the mess she'd caused.
They've been best friends, for better or for worse, ever since.
Santana playing with Brittany's hair is just habit. This one time in the third grade, Brittany didn't have enough patience to undo her tangles, so Santana grabbed the brush and did it herself. Even though it took a while, instead of being frustrating Brittany just sat back in her chair and relaxed into the touch, and Santana took it upon herself to make sure Brittany's hair was always soft and free of knots.
Some other time in the fifth grade, they were at a high school football game, and their teacher got there late and spotted them, so they had to squeeze in to make room for her, because that was the polite thing to do and Miss Larsen had always been very nice to Brittany. Brittany was smaller than Santana, so Santana scooped back so Brittany could sit between her legs, and after a while it got uncomfortable to be leaning forward, so Brittany just leaned back, and Santana's hands came up to drag Brittany's hair away from her face and just stayed there, curling strands around her thumb and massaging her scalp and overall making Brittany want to fall asleep into Santana's touch.
She would eventually, when they were both in high school and tired from their first cheerleader practice with Coach Sylvester, and many times after practice afterwards.
It was the first time they had extra Cheerio practice for Nationals that Brittany fell asleep to a different kind of touch, with one of Santana's arms under her ribs, palm low and cozy on her belly, and her other hand absently brushing Brittany's hair.
Brittany didn't know if she felt so sated because she'd just had an orgasm or because she wanted to fall asleep like this every night, but Santana was out like a light by the time Brittany figured out how to ask, and then Brittany got distracted by the sudden missing eye on the plush lion Santana had gotten her at the last winter carnival and forgot what it was that she was wondering about.
It didn't happen again until Santana broke up with Puck, but Brittany was never jealous, because it was still her hair Santana played with in class, or when Santana brought her and Mike along to one of their dates. It took a while for the realization that that wasn't really how most double dates went to sink in, and it only did because Quinn explained it to her.
Brittany still didn't see how that mattered, except then the dates stopped happening and it was just Brittany and Santana only having sex or only being friends and Brittany couldn't tell any more if it was okay to hold Santana's hand over the armrest between their seats at a movie, or if Santana would look at her weird if she kissed her goodbye on the lips when Santana dropped her off at her house.
But that was just them, right? So there was no need to worry about that. She wasn't so dumb that she couldn't stop herself before doing something stupid.
Santana still does her hair sometimes, mostly at Brittany's house before bed or whatever, and maybe it's just the knowledge that Santana's fingers are going to hold onto Brittany's hair differently later, when Brittany's head is somewhere else, but every brush of Santana's fingertips over Brittany's ear takes on some sort of edginess, sexual tension, kind of like—like foreplay or something. Like it turns Brittany on, and when Santana's sliding the hairbrush smoothly down a small, manageable lock of Brittany's hair, Brittany has to squeeze her legs together to relieve some of the pressure and it's like something overlaps that shouldn't and her entire emotional system has a silent breakdown.
It's not even that obvious to Brittany the moment it happens, but then, the next day in class, Santana's fingers in her hair feel weirdly sweet, not friendship sweet but romantic sweet, and they still feel that way the day after, and for weeks after that. Even when they don't, Brittany wants them to feel that way, and it hurts a little. Not a lot, just—there's this roaring ache in her stomach, kind of like when all she's had to eat all morning are fries because she's supposed to watch her diet but can't bring herself to give them up.
She just doesn't like to hurt, that's all. So she sits a little further to the left, where Santana can't reach, or pretends she has to go to the bathroom when Santana's hands get too close, or acts like she got a cramp in her leg and it might be good to change seats.
Because, well, they're not dating, and it feels like cheating to take something from Santana that Santana's not aware she's giving. Or—Brittany doesn't know, she just knows it hurts less when she puts some distance between them.
She just hopes she won't need to do this forever.
Santana notices soon enough.
"Are you okay?" she asks Brittany after practice once. She's sitting on a bench in their locker room, waiting for Brittany to finish rummaging in her bag so they can leave, and Brittany just slipped out of Santana's reach twice. Maybe it's been more obvious than usual. Maybe Santana noticed ages ago but is only beginning to get annoyed now. "Are you avoiding me on purpose?"
"I'm not avoiding you," Brittany says, dodging Santana's gaze. She hears a resigned chuckle and shrugs.
"You won't let me touch your hair," Santana says. "I thought you liked it."
Brittany presses her lips together tightly and scrunches up her face, looks down at Santana through her eyelashes. "I don't know," she says. "It kind of feels like we're on a date when you do that."
There's a long silence, or it feels pretty long to Brittany, at least, and then Santana says, "Do you want us to date?" and Brittany realizes she does. That's where things overlap, and it's not weird because they shouldn't, it's weird because she wants them to. All the time.
"Maybe," she attempts. "I don't know. Would that be bad?"
"Of course not," Santana says, shaking her head like it's totally normal to want to be your best friend's girlfriend. But maybe it is; everyone always tells Brittany her views on the world are weird, so maybe she's wrong about this too.
Brittany hums under her breath and moves to sit next to Santana, resting her head on her shoulder. It's a few seconds until Santana reluctantly places her hand on Brittany's head, fingertips tracing patterns down to her ear, along her neck and collarbone. "I kind of feel like your girlfriend when you do that," Brittany repeats.
"We can be," Santana says quietly, "if that's what you want." Brittany nods once, biting her lip and leaning into Santana even though there's hardly any space left to cover between them.
"I'd like that," she says, and Santana's fingers skate under her chin, tilt her head up like she's going to kiss Brittany. Maybe Brittany should say something, like tell Santana that's totally okay with her, but she just said she wanted them to date, so it's like—Santana should know she's allowed, right? Tacit permission or something. The Cheerios therapist told them about that.
"Yeah?" Santana breathes, air warm on Brittany's nose, and places a kiss on the tip, soft and barely there, and then she pulls Brittany up to her feet.
Brittany's kind of confused until Santana runs her fingers through Brittany's bangs and then holds the back of her neck, fingertips twirling the thin, soft hairs there.
"Let's cross that line, then," Santana says with a grin, and kisses her. And Brittany knows they're both way too tired to have sex on a hard surface or standing up, especially this far away from a bed to fall asleep in, so it's really just a kiss, in private, nothing new about that.
It's Santana's fingers in her hair that smooth things out.