Chapter One – She Likes Ducks and I Like Her

"You're my best friend," she whispered, molding her face into the crook of Brittany's neck. The contact and familiarity of past intimacies seeps from pale to tanned skin, forcing Santana to take an unsteady breath.

"Yeah, me too," Brittany replied, barely above a whisper, as her hands grasped to pull her best friend closer. Everything was said, but at the same time nothing was conversed.

A moment of silence and peace wafted over them. Santana wished they could always be like this. Just the two of them. She felt secure and loved within Brittany's arms, like nothing else mattered. It was intoxicating, the way Brittany had to slightly crouch down because she was a few inches taller, the way her blonde ponytail brushed against Santana's cheek, the way Brittany's fingers traced light circles on the small of her back. She was Santana's personal drug, and the thought alone caused her to fear the unknown, the uncertainty of who they truly were to one another. Santana hastily pulled away, immediately regretting the loss of contact and heat.

A smile spread across Santana's face, a hope, like a glimmer of maybe, as she held up her pinkie to Brittany. The exuberant blonde smiled and laced her pinkie with Santana's. Their fingers locked between them as they turned to walk down the hallway.

"When did you get so smart?"

Brittany blushed, not necessarily because of the words spoken, but because of the meaning behind them.

"San, I'm bored." Brittany hummed as she turned to lie on her back. Her muscles flexed as she adjusted her position, forcing a drop of sweat to roll into her belly button. The sun reflected off the moisture around her ribs as they expanded with each breath.

Santana heard Brittany's complaint but continued to lie on her stomach as she flippantly looked over the new issue of Cosmo. "What am I suppose to do about that?" Her voice was laced with sarcasm but hopeful. Although tanning was what one ought to do during summer vacation, it wasn't something that kept her interest for very long.

"I don't know. Entertain me," Brittany whined with a slight giggle.

Santana gulped back the flood of ideas that popped into her head. Oh the things she wanted to do to Brittany that could definitely be qualified as entertainment. But an air of awkwardness had settled upon them since school ended. They were friends, best friends. But both wanted more.

"And how would you like me to do that?"

"Sing to me. I always like when you sing."

Santana chanced a glance at the earnest angel lying next to her. The sun's rays were casting an almost glow around her, lighting her pale skin on fire. She looked like a porcelain doll, flawless from top to bottom. Santana pinched her thighs together in a moment of weakness as thoughts of running her own tongue across perfection crept into her mind.

"I don't really feel like singing Britt." Staring too long at those never ending legs was never good for one's sanity. Santana's attention refocused back on the article she wasn't really reading.

Santana wanted her, and not just sexually. She wanted her physically, emotionally, mentally. She wanted Brittany in every way possible. But you can't always get what you want, isn't that how life works?

She was ripped from her thoughts as a shrill voice tore through the backyard. The high-pitched tone emitted from the deck, causing a slight tremble to force its way through Santana's body. "Santana Maria Lopez!"

Santana rolled her eyes before sitting up, folding her legs underneath her so she could see the woman from where they were by the pool. "Yes?" Santana immediately noticed the stupid sun hat Mrs. Raezer down the street had let her mom borrow. Her mom was convinced these hats were fashionable, but all Santana wanted to do was burn the damn thing and use the flames to light a cigar.

"How many times have I told you not to leave the front door unlocked if you and Brittany were gonna be outside. Do I need to remind you where we live mija?" The edges of the hat flapped with her mother's movements, mocking Santana in a way that made her skin crawl.

"We just got out here," she lied, but her mother received it as truth. Just like the time Santana had accidentally backed into a trash can and she blamed the scratch on the neighborhood delinquents.

"Well either way dear. Please remember," she cooed. But then she eyed her daughter over, and her voice changed slightly, a change that didn't go unnoticed by Brittany. "And honey, maybe you could rearrange your afternoon schedule to fit in a run. Sitting like that easily displays what you have lost from quitting Cheerios. A decision I still don't understand…" her voice became distant as she ranted on her way back inside. Even though her volume decreased with each step, the venom of her words lingered on Santana's skin.

Brittany looked back to Santana and immediately noticed a change in her posture. Her arms were folded around her midsection, her face portraying an array of emotions, ranging from both agony and anger. But the display vanished almost as quickly as it had unfolded. Brittany knew her. She knew what she was doing. She was hiding. She was doing what Santana did best, forcing her emotions away before anyone could witness moments of what she deemed as weaknesses.

"So, how bout we blow this joint and see what kind of entertainment we can find elsewhere." Santana's voice was an octave lower than it had been earlier. Her lips curled, but her smile didn't quite reach the corners of her eyes. Brittany noticed all of this. But as Santana stood and pulled the black material of her bikini top down to cover the underside of her breasts, Brittany stood with her as if nothing was different.

So when Santana mentioned finding entertainment elsewhere, she didn't realize it would eventually involve everyone from glee club. But as life would have it, her and Brittany found themselves sitting on the couch in Rachel's basement as the others fought over the choice of movie. Brittany interjected every once in a while to aid in the conversation, but Santana remained quiet. Absentmindedly sipping on the cocktail she had made courtesy the Berry Bar, Santana watched the room erupt in stubborn opinions.

A finger graced Santana's thigh, and almond eyes met crystal blue. The touch ignited her skin, forcing desire to run unrestrained through her veins. "You okay?" Santana wanted to kiss her. Wanted to pour every ounce of love she had for this girl through her lips.

Instead a smile forced its way across her face as she took another sip. "Yeah. Just waiting for the Chihuahua to stop yapping about which blade of grass she'd rather pee on so that maybe we can actually watch a damn movie."

Brittany wanted sincerity. Brittany wanted the quick display of want that formed on Santana's face before she brushed it away. Brittany wanted her to stop being scared. She just didn't understand. But she vowed to herself that she wouldn't put her heart out there again until Santana was ready to hold it proudly. So Brittany waited, patiently, well sometimes patiently. On nights like this, when Santana's eyes sparkled, when her hair fell in loose curls around her face, when her shirt snug perfectly to every dip and curve, Brittany found it very difficult to wait patiently.

Santana grew uneasy under Brittany's stares. "What?"

Brittany smiled, tucked her head down to Santana's shoulder, and whispered "nothing" as if it would resolve every unanswered question. The opening credits to Moulin Rouge began to play on the screen, clearly Rachel had lost the argument, but Santana could have cared less. With Brittany's cheek pressed against her shoulder, the confines of the room began to slip from Santana's focus. The scent wafting to her nose, a mix of Brittany's shampoo and perfume, created a state of euphoria.

A genuine smile arose as the corners of Santana's luscious lips curved upward toward her eyes. She draped her arm around Brittany's shoulder to rest lazily on her hip, pulling Brittany into a side hug. A simple gesture that would easily elude the others from its true meaning. But Brittany couldn't help but smile as well. A small gesture or not, it was a step in the right direction. Right?

They walked back to Brittany's house in the dark, illuminated simply by the porch lights scattered throughout the neighborhood, the crescent moon aiding slightly as it hid behind lingering clouds.

"You know that's one of my favorites," Brittany's voice echoed through the empty street.

"What is?" Santana turned her head briefly to see Brittany's concentration face. Her lips were pursed together in a straight line. The strain of her furrowed eyebrows formed creases in her forehead. Santana inwardly giggled before facing forward again.

"Moulin Rouge. It's one of my favorite movies."

"And why is that?" The back of Brittany's hand brushed against her knuckle as they walked. It forced a shiver to rupture down Santana's spine. God she hated the effect Brittany had on her sometimes. The ghostly touch of her hand sparked a yearning deep inside Santana that had her squirming from within. Brittany literally turned her into a pile of mush, a pile of mush and feelings.

"Because it shows the true meaning of raw love. Two people who crave each other can't be with one another because the world has deemed it unacceptable. But they fight anyways, because they believe love is stronger than hate."

Brittany's words hit her hard, sucking the air from her lungs instantly. When did this girl get so freaking smart? The memory of the end of the school year flooded her senses. Santana wanted Brittany to hold her again, wrap her in those sturdy arms and take her away from this reality. Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes, but she refused to be that pile of mush and feelings. So instead, she took a few stumbling steps before regaining her strength.

"She ends up dying so obviously their love wasn't strong enough. People leave, people grow apart, people die. No love can stop that from happening. Every heart dies alone." The lie wretched itself from Santana's lips before she could help it. She knew it was an automatic defense mechanism, but the words were more for herself than for Brittany. Love is like an auction. You put your heart on the table for other people to bid on, only to be turned around and resold. It's better to believe that love doesn't last than to be shocked when your heart is broken.

Brittany sighed in defeat and Santana cursed herself for being such a bitch to the one person who actually gave a damn about her. She turned toward Brittany and saw that the light in her eyes had dimmed. Her shoulders were slumped forward and Santana knew she was crushing her.

"Hey," Santana said softly, reaching for Brittany's hand. "It's just a movie." She tried to lessen the blow of her previous words.

"Yeah," Brittany muttered, but it wasn't. In Brittany's eyes, Santana was just like the girl from the movie, afraid. She's willing to let the world dictate whom she should be with, and for what? To be popular in high school? To please her fucking parents? All Brittany wanted was honesty. She wanted the sincere and vulnerable Santana who confessed her love in the middle of the freaking hallway. Where was that girl?

"I have an idea," Santana smiled, pulling Brittany from her thoughts. Brittany gave her a skeptical look as Santana's smile quickly faded to a devilish grin. She gripped Brittany's wrist and led her across the street, between a row of bushes, and into a backyard.

Santana continued to move forward, pulling her tank top over her head, revealing her black bikini she was still wearing. Brittany gulped at the sight and froze mid-step. "San, what are you doing?"

Santana turned to face her as she unbuttoned her jeans, sliding the material over her thighs, calves, ankles, until it was lying at her feet. "Swimming," she grinned, stepping from the dark, blue denim. She watched as Brittany's eyes rove over her. Santana thoroughly enjoyed how the roles had reversed, allowing her to regain control over the evening.

Brittany quickly glanced around the yard. The edges of the lot were lined with rows of bushes. Unlike Santana's pool, which had no privacy, the two of them were completely hidden from the view of curious neighbors.

"This isn't your pool," Brittany subconsciously responded, her eyes never leaving Santana's body.

"The Collins' went on vacation yesterday. They won't be back till Saturday." Santana allowed Brittany's eyes to linger for another second before she turned and jumped into the awaiting water.

The coolness washed away the heat from Brittany's stares as she swam to the surface, flinging her hair back from her face in the process. The strands slapped against her back as she noticed Brittany still hesitantly standing in the grass. Her toes were unconsciously digging into the ground, and Brittany was fiddling nervously with her thumbs.

"Um, Britt, in order to swim you actually have to get in the water." Santana let out a throaty giggle that caused Brittany's knees to go weak.

"San, I don't think this is a good idea." She mumbled shakily, avoiding the smoldering brown eyes looking up at her expectantly. "Lord Tubbington told me about the bears that live in this neighborhood."

Santana smiled and rolled her eyes. "Britt I really don't think bears live in Lima, Ohio. Plus, I'm pretty sure I could take a bear. Have you seen the trash that lives in my neighborhood?" She sneered, counteracting Brittany's lame excuse.

"San I don't think you could fight a bear naked."

Santana quirked her eyebrows as a smirk plagued her face. "I'm not naked Britt. But I gladly can be…"

Brittany opened her mouth to ward against the idea, but Santana was already tugging at the strings on her back and neck. The material fell easily to the water below before Santana threw it at Brittany's feet. She eyed Santana suspiciously, but before she could speak, a pair of black bottoms hit the grass with a wet thud.

"Santana, this really isn't a good idea." Brittany's eyes lingered a little too long on the upper part of Santana's breasts that were visible above the water. The rest of caramel flesh was distorted through the water, but Brittany's memory knew exactly what it looked like.

"Why don't you stop saying what isn't a good idea and just join me."

Brittany finally reached her eyes, and Santana could see questions and want flooding those clear blue spheres. "What about…"

"Let's just forget about the rules for one night." Santana's voice was confident but shaky, and Brittany couldn't help but allow her heart to beat faster in anticipation. She wanted to care that there were so many things they had to work through, so many words that needed to be spoken. But right now, all she cared about was the naked goddess in front of her. All she cared about was kissing those lips, pulling the bottom one between her own teeth. Sucking the spot on her neck where she could feel Santana's pulse, the entity that makes her alive. Licking underneath Santana's breasts, rolling an eager nipple between her lips. Grazing her stomach with chaste kisses that cause Santana's core to ripple with anticipation. Brittany just wanted Santana, and that's all she cared about right now.

Brittany's clothes fell to the grass in a hurry. Her limbs couldn't move fast enough for her own liking. She managed to make her way to the water's edge, but hesitated. Santana looked at her with increasing lust, her eyes turning a shade darker. Brittany's heart fluttered from her chest. She reached behind her and untied her bikini top. She slowly allowed the material to slip from her fingers, and let it fall to the ground. Santana's eyes flickered to Brittany's breasts, and she unconsciously pulled her bottom lip between her teeth.

Brittany looped her thumbs in the material by her hips and pulled it down slowly. She watched intently as Santana's eyes followed her hands down her creamy legs. Brittany's hands were shaking uncontrollably, but she managed to discard her swimsuit to the ground next to her. She gulped back the rest of her questions and uncertainty as Santana's eyes fell back to hers.

"Come here," Santana whispered seductively, and Brittany gave in immediately. She walked to the steps leading into the water and slowly maneuvered her way into the pool. The water lapped at Brittany's ankles, creating goose bumps across her skin. Santana swam toward her, a smile plastered to her face the entire time. Santana's eyes roamed again and Brittany couldn't help the blush that formed on her cheeks.

Santana noticed the hint of blush and uncertainty painted across Brittany's face. "You okay?" She asked, her voice laced with concern and lust.

"You're staring." Brittany replied as her arms immediately crossed over her chest.

"That's because you're beautiful." Santana didn't miss a beat as the answer rolled off her tongue. She reached toward Brittany, grabbing her gently by the wrists, and easing her fully into the water. She moved her hands up Brittany's arm and down her back, feeling a shiver escape her body in the process.

"Are you cold?"

"A little," Brittany replied, her eyes never leaving the brown orbs staring back at her. "San, we shouldn't…" Brittany began to protest again, but her voice was silenced as Santana's lips captured hers. They slid elegantly against Brittany's, forcing the world around her to become a foggy haze.

Santana kissed her top lip and Brittany elicited a groan. Santana kissed her bottom lip and Brittany let out a moan.

Santana clawed at Brittany's porcelain back. Her fingers were desperate, stimulating, and passionate. Santana's nails scraped between ribs and Brittany had to fight the urge to surrender completely. She couldn't let this get too far. She won't. Has she already? She refused to go back to being Santana's secret. But god she made it so hard sometimes.

Santana's tongue flicked across her lips, begging for entrance, and she had to pull away. She began to retreat but Santana's hands on the small of her back prevented her from going too far.

"What's wrong?" Her eyes were pleading with desire. With love. With everything Brittany wanted from her that the rest of Santana wouldn't give her.

"I'm sorry. We can't do this."


"You know why." Brittany's voice dropped, as did Santana's hands, and Brittany stepped back a little to put some distance between them.

An air of silence overcame them, neither daring to look at the other. Santana could see that Brittany had re-crossed her arms over her chest, and she imitated the action with her own. Without the heat of Brittany's body pressed against hers, the cool water forced a tiny shiver through Santana's core. The hair on her arms began to rise, and she noticed Brittany had similar goose bumps on her own arms.

"I'm sorry," Santana muttered.

"For what?' Brittany replied, finally looking up at Santana as she saw her retreating form to the side of the pool. The physical action mirrored Santana's emotional struggle, the idea that hiding the truth is better than fighting for the unknown.

"That I can't give you what you need." It was so soft and muted by the pool's edge and Brittany barely heard it. But she did, and she heard Santana's heart break all over again. She could hear the defeat in Santana's voice. She could hear the fears lacing every syllable. She could hear it all, and when Brittany didn't think she could love this girl any more than she already did, Santana opened her mouth to speak again. "You deserve so much more than me."

Here was the vulnerable girl from the hallway the day she first confessed her love. Here was the scared girl who made up a dumb rumor about her and Karofsky to avoid going to prom with Brittany. Here was the girl who built a fortress around her emotions, but every once in a while she'd lower the bridge across the moat and give Brittany another reason to love her.

Brittany swam toward her, just as she was about to climb out of the water, and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's most definitely the other way around."

Santana turned to face her, her eyebrows scrunching upward in confusion. Brittany placed her hands against the ledge of the pool on either side of Santana's face, pinning her in place.

"What are you talking about Britt?"

"I'm saying, you deserve much more than me." As Santana shook her head and opened her mouth to speak in protest, Brittany placed a finger to her lips. "Shh. Let me speak." And Santana crumbled in defeat, but the oh so good kind. The kind that turns your legs to jelly. The kind that makes your heart beat in anticipation.

"You are perfection to me." She began and Santana's eyes closed. "Yes. You say you have your flaws, but they don't matter to me." Brittany's hand cupped Santana's chin, begging her to open her eyes. When she did, Brittany's glare latched on and didn't let her go.

"And one day, I'm gonna break down all your walls and prove to you that loving me is something to be proud of. I'm going to spend the rest of summer vacation showing you that loving me isn't wrong. I'm going to do everything in my power to be the person you deserve so that you won't be scared to be mine."

Santana closed her eyes and a tear escaped down her cheek. Brittany's thumb was there instantly, wiping it away with so much love that it broke Santana's heart. "That's not fair to you." She shook her head in defiance as another tear fell to the water below.

"I don't care." Brittany breathed, running the pad of her thumb over Santana's cheek again.

"I can't ask you to wait for me."

"You're not asking." Brittany snickered as her other hand dove under the water to caress Santana's ribs. Santana fought the urge to free herself as the graze tickled her and set her skin on fire simultaneously.

"It's so selfish…"

"I can be selfless for a while."

"Do you have an answer for everything?" Santana couldn't help but choke out a giggle through sobs, slowly bringing her gaze back to Brittany's eyes.

A smile tugged at Brittany's lips, curling them upward as her eyes sparkled from the neighbor's kitchen light. "No I do not," she stated simply. "But I'm going to try."

And Santana couldn't contain the love and adoration she had for this girl anymore. She was beyond amazing. Like seriously, amazing couldn't even begin to describe Brittany. She was unbelievably loyal, and her love literally had no bounds. It was unconditional. She wasn't afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve because she was willing to trust that no one was going to hurt her. She's fucking sexy, but that's a given. But one of the best things about Brittany is the fact that out of everyone in the entire world, she wanted Santana. She wanted her, and somehow that became the first step in helping Santana accept herself.

"I love you. You know that right?" Santana breathed, and Brittany nodded in response. "I don't want you ever questioning the fact that I love you." And with that she wrapped her arms tightly around Brittany's neck. Brittany looped her arms around Santana's waist, pulling them inevitably closer. Bare skin slid against bare skin. Full breasts pressed against full breasts. And Santana couldn't help it as she subconsciously wrapped her legs around Brittany's waist. Brittany's hip bones probed against Santana's inner thigh, and Santana squeezed her legs tighter in need for more intimacy. Brittany reacted by piercing Santana's back with her nails.

Neither went for more. They simply held each other. And that was more than enough for both of them.

"You are wrong about one thing though," Santana whispered into Brittany's ear.

Her eyes remained closed as Santana's voice tickled her skin and sent shivers down her spine. "Mhm, what about?"

"I don't deserve more than you. You are everything to me." And with that Brittany clung closer, molding her body against Santana's until she felt like they had merged into one.

"Mija, there's a letter for you on the kitchen table. I'm leaving for work. Leftovers in the microwave." Santana heard as her mother called up the stairs. The front door was opened and shut moments later, and Santana peeled herself from her bed. Jersey Shore continued to play on the TV in the corner as she made her way into the hall and down the stairs.

Her bare feet hit the cold, tiled floor as she entered the kitchen. After opening the microwave and seeing what had been left for her, she decided against dinner for the evening. The simple sight of leftover meatloaf and steamed veggies forced a weight of heaviness upon her stomach. She fought the urge to throw the food away; knowing the sight of it in the trash wouldn't please her mother.

Making her way to the table, she fingered the white envelope that simply contained Santana's name. Eyeing it suspiciously, she flipped it, tore it open, and pulled out its contents.

Letter One.

Dear Santana,

Do you remember that time in second grade when the teacher asked us to draw our favorite animal? We didn't know each other, but you sat two seats in front of me. I took out my crayons and began to draw. I'm pretty sure I only used one color though, which is pretty unrealistic because no animal is really only one color. Unless it's an ant or something, but who's favorite animal is an ant?

Anyways, I was busy drawing when the boy sitting next to me grabbed my paper and started making fun of me for drawing a duck. He went on and on about how ducks were stupid and anyone who likes ducks was probably stupid too. Do you remember what happened next? I do. This short little girl with hair as dark as charcoal whipped around in her chair and began yelling in a language I had never heard. She walked back to the boy, ripped my drawing from his hands, and then proceeded to make fun of him for the fact that he had drawn a fish, since apparently the only thing worth noting about fish was the fact that they get flushed down the toilet.

This feisty, little girl then continued to hand me back my drawing, wink, and went back to her seat. When I craned my neck to see what animal she had drawn, I noticed the paper was blank. And I became sad because I figured she didn't have a favorite animal, and everyone should have a favorite animal. So I scribbled a note around my duck, and as the bell rang for recess, I placed it on her desk before running outside.

Do you remember what I found on my desk when I came back in? There, next to the note I had written about giving her my duck so she could have a favorite animal, were the words 'you can be my favorite animal'. Do you remember this day? Because this was the day I met my best friend. The girl who fought some boy because I like ducks. The girl who would grow into the one who would continue to stand up for me when I needed her. This was the day I met you Santana. This was the day my life changed because you decided that I was gonna be your favorite animal.

I'm your favorite.

You decided it. You wrote it. You believed it. And because of that, ten years later, when asked what your favorite animal is you blush. Because I'm still your favorite.

Reason #1: I like ducks, and you like me.

Sincerely yours,

Brittany S. Pierce.

Santana smiled as she folded the letter back into the envelope and raced back upstairs. Sammy and Ronnie continued to yell at each other on the television screen as she sat at her desk, pulled out a sheet of paper, ripped off a piece, and picked up a marker.

After scribbling down some words, she grabbed a piece of tape from her drawer and walked to her closet. On the inside of the right door, she placed the piece of paper to the wood panel and smoothly applied the adhesive to the top side, sealing it in place. Stepping back, she smiled at the words glaring back at her.

Reason #1: She likes ducks and I like her.