Brittany was too beautiful for her own good, was Santana's first cohesive thought in days. Too sweet, too innocent, too trusting, and too damn beautiful.

A few days earlier, Santana had felt miserable. She constantly thought of her favorite blonde and how she kept stepping back into her life so fleetingly, leaving again whenever she felt and with no concept of how easily she was capable of hurting people— simply by the act of taking herself back out of their lives. By creating light and life around her, and then disappearing and leaving an aching presence.

In this moment, Santana could feel nothing. She just kept flashing back… she was in an endless loop of terror and horror and tears…

The text appeared on Santana's phone at 11:03 PM. "MMEEEET ME GILLLYS?" Santana stared down at it and sighed, knowing it meant Brittany had gotten drunk again. Still, she gathered up her coat and car keys and began to head for the door. Such were the woes of a girl hopelessly in love.

Brittany had been in a downward spiral for the past few weeks, ever since being turned down to go to Julliard to study in dance. She'd been pulling away from Santana, the rest of the glee club members, and even her family. She had told Santana in a drunken haze a few nights previous that she still just needed to get out of this town, one way or another, and planned on leaving without any notice.

Santana opened the door to find a surprised Quinn on the other side. "Oh, hey, I wanted to see if you wanted to watch The Breakfast Clubtogether, I found the DVD at the bottom of my closet."

"I can't, Brit's drunk at some bar again. She'll need my help."

Quinn sighed, looking over her friend's worried face. "Santana, you can't keep doing this to yourself. She's just using you, using you for hookups and then blowing you off. It's not good for you; you'll never be able to move on this way."

"What else am I supposed to do?" the brunette asked, leaning against the smaller blonde and letting out soft, weak sobs.

Quinn tipped Santana's head up, a slightly smile on her face. "Well, for starters, you could watch a movie with me. You know Brittany will be fine. If she's at Gillian's again, that's two blocks away from her house."

Santana still felt uneasy, but she supposed she wasn't in a place of good judgment right then. She went inside, and tried to leave her troubles behind in the tale of a few high-schoolers stuck in detention.

Part way through the movie, however, tears began to roll down her face. It had reached the bit when Claire Standish, in an amazing feat of dexterity, applied lipstick in her hands-free manner. All Santana could think of was a silly night from years ago when the two close friends had spent the entire evening trying to nail down the skill.

Santana rose to her feet and looked down at Quinn, who had fallen asleep. "I'm sorry, Q. I can't do it. I need her as much as she needs me."

She rushed to the car and drove the two miles to the pub. Shoving her keys and phone into her back pocket, Santana dashed into the bar and began to search for her beloved girl. She saw no sign of her, which was alarming— Brittany was not exactly a quiet drunk, she was usually the first she spotted. Perhaps she'd gone home?

Santana left the bar and began to walk to Brittany's house, afraid of taking the car in case she missed her sitting on the sidewalk somewhere.

By habit, she turned her head down each dark alleyway she passed— it was a quick trip to the bar from the blonde's house, but a sketchy one. The final alleyway highlighted a reclined figure. Santana's heart dropped as her mind quickly began to shout that it was merely a homeless man or woman, and to walk away quickly.

Coming to a stop, Santana pulled out her phone and shone the dim light down the way. Before she knew it, she was running in her heels faster than she ever had before, for she'd seen an unmistakable blonde ponytail curled near a ladder.

Shock pulled Santana down to her knees as she took in the full scene— the beautiful blonde's forehead bruised and cut, her skirt torn and flung aside, her shivering limbs and fat lip.

"Oh, no, oh no oh God Brit what happened, what happened," she cried as she bent to cradle Brittany's head in her lap, pulling out her phone to call 911.

Brittany's eyes fluttered open, and she winced as she spoke. Her voice was terrifyingly weak. "He followed me… he did things to me. I told him I'd tell, so…" she gestured vaguely to her abdomen, which Santana hadn't yet paid attention to, hidden as it was by her jacket.

Santana pulled it aside and saw a large pooling of blood spilling across her shirt.

"Who did this? Who? Oh, God, oh God Sweetheart just stay here with me, okay? I'm going to call an ambulance, it'll be okay, it will all be okay."

"I'm just glad… you're here…" she said with some difficulty, and tilted her chin up slightly. Santana understood. She pressed her lips to Brittany's injured ones.

"Now, just let me call the ambulance," Santana fiddled with her phone, shaking fingers unable to hit the buttons. Brittany held her hand.

"Brit," Santana choked out, "you're not letting me hit the numbers."

Brittany looked at her carefully, and in that moment Santana could see that once again her intelligent blonde had already understood something she herself couldn't come to believe. Brittany knew she wouldn't make it. She didn't want to waste these last few minutes waiting around for an ambulance.

Santana pulled Brittany up a bit and held her closer. If she held on tighter, perhaps she'd never get left behind again. "I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you," she whispered.

"I knew I was the lucky one," Brittany smiled weakly up at her.

"How?" Santana breathed, tiny hopes threatening to break free.

"I will get to spend the rest of my life with you."

And Santana was undone. She had unconsciously tried to be brave, tried to keep the tears from coming, tried to be strong. Now she held her best friend and wept helplessly. "Brit, I…"

"I love you, too," she said. And they spent the next few precious seconds wrapped up in each other.

After a bit, Brittany spoke again. "I'm scared," she admitted this time.

"I'm here," was all Santana could think to say.

"I don't want to leave you."

"I don't want you to go."

"I love you."

"I will always love you."

Brittany turned slightly and looked into Santana's eyes with purpose, a fire rushing into them. A final flame. She kept silent, spending a moment memorizing each of the gorgeous girl's features. Then, she seemed to slump from the use of energy and curled, tinier than ever before, into Santana's arms.

Santana wasn't sure when the final moment came; when she was the only one breathing and the only one crying.

An ambulance came after a few minutes, or a few hours… it would make no difference to the girl who had just lost her world. When Quinn and Puck came with the police, she saw Santana sitting there with Brittany, wrapped close around her and kissing her hair over and over again. She was whispering things to the girl, probably not even aware of the constant stream of I love you's and I need you's that were falling from her trembling mouth.

Santana felt them pull the girl who meant absolutely everything away from her, curled in on herself, and allowed Puck to pick her up, wrap her in a blanket, and put her in the back seat of a car. Quinn slid into the back as well, tears falling down her face as the ambulance carted off their precious blond.

The world moved on. It had a funny habit of doing that. But Santana still felt nothing. Where was there cause to?

The day of the funeral had come yesterday— Santana had gone, of course, but she had not grieved. She saw nothing, heard nothing, caught up in the past as she was. The present didn't exist for her; she would rather stay in her head, for even though the memories were horrific, they were her strongest remaining link to Brittany.

It wasn't until two months later that Santana was able to visit the grave herself— the day of Brittany's birthday.

She searched the chilly graveyard for the headstone she was looking for, yet most dreaded seeing. Soon enough, she found the engraving of her beloved blonde's name and sank to the ground before it.

"You were too beautiful for your own good, you know," she whispered as she leaned her head to the cool stone. It was a beautiful day for early March; the sun was out and shone brightly on the tender grass sprouts that were beginning to emerge from the cold ground.

"Everyone says I have to let go now, to move ahead. But I don't know how. I can't let go of you."

Suddenly, Santana could hear Brittany's voice. Not spoken aloud, but inside her heart, she heard: you need to sing.

A single tear rolled down Santana's cheek. Brittany had always known just what to do.

In the softest, sweetest voice that had ever emanated from the characteristically spicy Latina's throat, Santana began to sing.

"When somebody loved me,
everything was beautiful.
Every hour we spent together
lives within my heart.

And when she was sad,
I was there to dry her tears,
and when she was happy so was I.
When she loved me.

Through the summer and the fall,
we had each other that was all.
Just she and I together,
like it was meant to be.

And when she was lonely,
I was there to comfort her,
and I knew that she loved me.

So the years went by,
I stayed the same.
But she began to drift away.
I was left alone.
Still I waited for the day,
when she'd say "I will always love you"

Lonely and forgotten,
never thought she'd look my way,
and she smiled at me and held me,
just like she used to do.
Like she loved me;
when she loved me.

When somebody loved me,
everything was beautiful.
Every hour we spent together
lives within my heart.
When she loved me."

For the first time in weeks, Santana didn't feel numb. As the tears rolled down her cheeks, her heart began to ache. She knew that that would be the norm for a while, and that in time, the ache would become smaller and more manageable— it would serve as a reminder of the bit of Brittany that would forever live on in her heart.

Santana stood up, knowing that the world was moving on and she would have to make an attempt to live again. To regain a sense of normalcy. And to sing. Brittany had always told her to sing.

She touched the grave softly and dropped a golden rose onto the top. "You're amazing. You're a genius, Brittany. And I will never, ever stop loving you."

With that, Santana left, still softly singing.

"Every hour we spent together
lives within my heart.
When she loved me."