Author's Note: Brittany/Santana oneshot post-ep to 4.04, "The Break-Up." I hope you all enjoy, and comments are always appreciated.

If love was enough to sustain a relationship, they would never have to worry about a thing.

If love was enough to sustain a relationship, they would be able to live forever in each other's embrace.

But The Beatles had lied - you needed more than just love. You needed a mixture of various factors - including luck, which they didn't have. Love played a part, of course, but it wasn't the only ingredient.

It had been naive for them to think that they could live strictly on a diet of Skype, bi-weekly laundry sessions - and love. It was just for now, they reminded themselves, just until the end of the year, and then they could be together in their blissful bubble of togetherness.

Just one year. Not even. From when Santana left in late August to Brittany's graduation in early June. Just over nine months.

When did nine months turn into an eternity? When did it all become so complicated?

How can they make it stop?

Santana returned to Kentucky; her laundry clean and neatly folded in her backseat. She could return to the monotony of life on a college campus, to girls who could not only read Virginia Woolf but could deliver a beautiful analysis of the deeper themes that would leave a literature professor in tears. To girls who would go on to become the radical thinkers of their generation, leaving their feminist prose scattered among the rooftops. Or they'd be the doctors and lawyers leading the way forward.

She'd go back to them, because they were where she was going anyway, but she'd never return for them.

Because her heart would always belong to the girl who read the comic strips in the newspaper every morning, the one who marveled over Marmaduke's latest antics. The girl who would never win any awards for her prose, but always managed to make her arguments in a forceful, yet endearing, manner.

To the girl who taught her not only how to look for the small things in life, but to cherish them. Hold them close.

To her Brittany.

Brittany couldn't escape. She was stuck in Lima, stuck going to school with the people who knew the most about her and Santana.

It was easy to smile, because smiling was good - smiling meant that people smiled back, and smiles were beautiful, beautiful things. She didn't like sadness. Sadness meant that everything was gray and boring instead of bright and beautiful.

She was sad. That was all there was to it. She could pretend and pretend and look in the mirror and see her smile plastered across her face, and yet, she fought back tears all the same. Her tears could bring a unicorn back to life, and she liked unicorns, but she liked being happy more.

She liked Santana more. She loved Santana, even. She loved her like she loved the feeling of waking up in the morning, loved her like the satisfactory feeling she got when she put on a new shirt for the very first time, loved her like the feeling of cheating death by beating her brother at the Game of Life. Except it was different than that. It was more.

She couldn't put it into words if she tried. Santana believed in her. Believed that she was more than some dumb blonde who couldn't do math.

She could shoot for the stars when Santana was around, except they don't make guns that can shoot stars out of the sky, at least not that she can find when she gets on Google and types in strings of words that she thinks would work for finding one. Except that apparently they do exist, because if they didn't, how else would a shooting star be shot?

Santana would know. Santana would help her find one, and together they would do it. Santana knew everything.

Her Santana.

It was a long, cold winter apart.

Brittany hugged Lord Tubbington to her every night, despite his squawks of discontent, because he would never leave her behind - he would never leave her without a word. He would always warm her bed - and her heart. And while it was not the same as a pair of warm, human arms wrapped around her, a mouth whispering sweet words of love and tenderness in a breathy mix of English and Spanish, a set of long, beautiful legs intertwined with hers - it would do.

Santana lay in her bed in her dorm alone, staring out the window, seeing the moon hung low in the sky. She could have struck out on her own, found any number of girls willing to let her sleep in their beds - except that every time that she tried, and she did, she saw Brittany's face in her mind's eye. She could never hurt Brittany, not any more than she already had. She locked her pinkies together - it was not the same doing it to yourself as it was doing it to another person - and she fell asleep dreaming of sparkling, beautiful innocence.

It was a long, cold winter apart.

But the winter always has a way of thawing.

The leaves came back on the trees, and the sun's warmth finally penetrated the ground and the air, warming the chill.

"You came back," Brittany declared, looking at Santana with a gaze of suspicion. Was this a hallucination? Had she eaten some bad bread with her toast this morning? It had been five months. Nowhere close to nine, but five was more than four, or three, or none at all. "You came back."

"I did," Santana said, tentatively moving closer to Brittany; she still buried her hands in the pockets of her jeans.


"Because -" Santana was never good at lying to Brittany. On the surface, it seemed like it would be an easy thing to do, but Brittany was always so trusting and loving that it was like kicking a cute little puppy or something. "Because I missed you, and it's stupid for us to be apart when I still love you, and the girls in Kentucky are stupid."

"I'm stupid too," Brittany said. "That's what everyone always calls me, anyway."

"You're not stupid, though, Brit. You see the world differently than everyone else, and it's what makes you special." Brittany beamed, and Santana rubbed her hand against the inside lining of her pocket. She itched to touch Brittany, push the hair back from over her eye, feel the softness of her skin underneath her touch again. "And the girls in Kentucky want to quote Woolf and Plath and Steinem and one even said Solanas was right - and that's not my thing." Brittany nodded blankly, and Santana realized that what she said probably went completely over her head. "Sorry."

"You're a smart college girl now," Brittany said, her voice tinged with the faint edge of sadness. "And I'm stuck in high school hell forever. You've moved on, and I'm still always left behind."

"But I don't want those girls. The only girl I want is standing right in front of me. I want you. Nobody else. I love you, and only you."

"I love you too," Brittany said. "But - you're just going to go back and the people who like talking about wolves and plates will take you away from me again, and then you won't come back next time."

"I will always come back, for you."

Brittany lifted her hand to Santana's cheek, and leaned forward, so that her face was all Santana could see. It was all she could ever see. "Do you promise?"

"Pinky promise." Easiest promise she'd ever had to make; she'd made it to herself a long time before. Almost unspoken. Brittany closed her eyes and nodded; Santana took the move into her own hands, looping her arms around Brittany's neck and planting gentle kisses on each of Brittany's eyelids.

Brittany arched her head back and upward, in an attempt to find Santana's lips, her eyes still closed. "Santana," she said, her voice almost completely hoarse from desire.

And then, they kissed. Real and proper and true, their lips meeting together for the first time in far too long. One of them sighed with content - it didn't matter which one it was, both of them echoed the sentiment. Too long. Never again would it go this long.

They could worry about how to bridge the remaining three months of their nine month separation after the afterglow had dimmed.

Their winter had thawed into a beautiful, brilliant spring.