A/N: So, this story was uploaded a long time ago, then it was deleted, so I'm re-posting the second and final piece now. Thanks again for all of the feedback ;)

Summary: Brittany Pierce always felt her emotions ten times more than anyone else around her. Although these strong feelings hindered her at times, she would have never fallen so hard for the love of her life without them. Brittany looks back on the summer after graduation where she first saw and fell desperately in love with Santana Lopez. Through pain and heartache, Brittany teaches Santana how to love again while in return Santana teaches Brittany how to live again.

Part II

Describing my body and mind as an empty shell would've been an understatement, especially following the days right after that fateful night between Santana and I on the dock. I didn't even have to will myself to stop crying. I somehow managed on my own.

I felt so drained of life as I'd lay in my bed all day and paint in the basement at night. I didn't leave the house or bathe or even eat. I was a disheveled mess. The house reeked of spoiled milk coming from the fridge. My hair was in knots and my eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. Clothes and magazines and garbage littered the floor of my bedroom. The whole house was in disarray, barely recognizable as I unknowingly trashed it more and more each day.

During the whole wreckage of my house, I hadn't stopped fantasizing about Santana for even a second. Everything reminded me of her anyway, so it was basically inevitable. My brain wouldn't cooperate with my words when I'd try to tell it to stop thinking about her. The more I willed her away, the faster and harder Santana's image fought itself into my subconscious.

It wasn't until the third day of my self-pity parade that Julie came by to check up on me, because apparently I had been MIA. I remember her knocking on the door multiple times as I just stared at it from across the room on the couch with half lidded eyes. I tried to call out to her, explaining the door was already open, but it'd only come out as a whisper. I was too emotionally drained to get up from the couch where my security blanket hid me and kept me safe from the depressing world out there.

Eventually, Julie had let herself in, gasping when she saw the mess in the living room, as well as the mess that was me hanging off the couch like a dead goat. After making sure I was okay, Julie took out her phone and immediately called my uncle. I was cuddled up against my future aunt-in-law's bosoms when my uncle came barging through the door with frantic eyes bulging out his head as he scanned the disheveled house.

All I could do was stare blankly into space as they took care of me. Julie was frightened by my behavior, but my uncle was more than aware of how I dealt with traumatic events. He didn't ask what had happened, because he probably just assumed I'd seen another tragedy on the news, thus sending me into a tailspin downward.

Julie was more than willing to stay with me when my uncle had to meet with lawyers and bankers regarding the lake and bait shop. I was barely aware of what was happening around me. All I knew was that Julie took care of me for longer than I could've imagined. She bathed me, fed me, talked to me even though I never responded or acknowledged her words. I could hear her voice, of course, but I never answered her when she'd ask me questions.

Julie tried multiple times to get my uncle to take me to a therapist. According to her, I was not well. Bipolar was the word Julie had used. I didn't know the word back then, neither had I ever heard of the condition before. But somewhere deep in my mind, I had laughed bitterly at the suggestion of myself having some type of ridiculous emotional disease. It wasn't until years later when I finally agreed to see a specialist that I learned Julie's diagnosis was spot on.

Julie very rarely left me home alone during those two weeks. But on the thirteenth day in particular, when she left me at the house to buy some groceries, I was met with one of the biggest, most heart-stopping surprises of my young life.

There had been a knock on the door at around noon. I stayed frozen on the couch, despondent. My hold on the comforter over my body had gotten tighter as my muscles tensed, but other than that slight flinch, I didn't move at all. Julie was always forgetting her key. She also seemed to forget we always kept the door unlocked. But after a few minutes, when I noticed the knocking continued every once in awhile, my brained finally snapped out of its reclusive fog, coming to the conclusion that Julie obviously wasn't at the door.

Someone else was.

I hadn't gotten off that couch in so long it felt unnatural to freely walk towards the hallway. My legs felt weak and my vision blurred briefly as all the blood rushed out of my head towards my feet. It wasn't an easy journey from the couch to the door. My muscles ached with each step I took, but if I wanted the persistent knocking to stop, I had to chase away the intruder.

If I had known the intruder standing on the other side of my door was none other than Santana Lopez, the girl who made me realize I had a heart, and then stomped carelessly on it all in matter of a month, then I would've definitely moved faster to answer the door. Of course I was angry, and of course I was suffering because of her rejection, but this was only because of how much I loved her. I wouldn't have been dealing with the heartbreak so tragically if I didn't need her in my life like a flower needs rain.

I wanted to smile so badly when I first saw her, but I had to push it back. Instead, I scowled at her through the screen door. Adding to my obvious hostility, I reached forward to lock the thin door separating us. Santana's regretful eyes followed my every move. I knew I probably looked terrible, but the self-conscious part of my mind didn't trigger until hours after our conversation. I was more concerned about what Santana Lopez was doing at my house thirteen days after she tore me apart with just the horrified expression on her face.

We stood like that for awhile; just staring silently at each other. Her eyes were soft and pleading while I tried to maintain my stoic, impassive posture. Santana Lopez wasn't going to break me this time. Not that easily. Thirteen days ago, I had exposed too much to her too soon and it probably overwhelmed her, so I remained unaffected by her presence, which probably threw her, but I didn't want to chase her off again.

I had unknowingly been wishing for her to show up here for days.

And my wish was finally granted.

I thought we were going to be standing there all day in silence until Santana awkwardly cleared her throat and tried to force a smile in my direction. But I kept my expression blank. I was known for wearing my heart on my sleeve which caused me a lot of pain over the years, but this time I had to fight the hurricane of emotions to maintain my indifference.

Santana bowed her head and gazed up at me through her long eyelashes when I didn't give her the response she was probably expecting. Dropping the charade, Santana pinched her lips together before releasing a sigh through her nose, saying, "I visited the lake everyday, waiting for you to show up." I watched with inquisitive eyes as she nervously rubbed the side of arm up and down. "Um, I wanted to see you. You're easy to talk to, I guess. And a good listener."

I didn't understand what she was saying. It didn't sound like an apology, or a declaration of love. She was just stating the facts. I wanted to shrug my shoulders indifferently, but I wasn't a rude person. My uncle didn't bring me up like that, so instead of tapping my foot impatiently, I waited.

"Your uncle told me where to find you," Santana explained, scratching the back of her neck anxiously. "I, um...wanted to apologize. The way I went off on you was totally uncalled for."

I nodded, silently accepting her apology. I already knew she hadn't meant those words about me being confused. What really had me reeling was the fact Santana didn't love me and perhaps never would. That thought was enough to make me depressed all over again.

I personally witnessed Santana slowly breakdown as she stood on the opposite side of my screen door. As she lifted her hand to rest it on the glass, I could see her thick walls crumbling down. I admired the lines on her palm through the window separating us before focusing my eyes back on her face. "That day on the dock, when you told me how you felt, I was caught by surprise," she murmured, biting her bottom lip. "We don't even know each other, yet you're declaring you are in love with me. You can't blame me for being a bit overwhelmed, Brittany."

I didn't blame her. I didn't blame her at all, and that was the issue. That was why I hadn't left the house in days. It was because I was to blame; me and my raging emotions.

"Please don't give me the silent treatment." The sadness in her eyes almost made me cave, but I couldn't give in to her. "I've been seeing you around town all summer, then you just strangely disappear because of me?" she whispered, her dark eyes focused on my blue ones. "I wasn't sure what happened to you. And that scared me."

I couldn't give in. I couldn't give in.

My heart wouldn't allow it. Santana clenched her jaw, dreading the next words she was about to speak. I could tell her admission was going to be honest by the way she blinked quicker than usual. I had been observing her behavior for most of the summer and learned this quirk meant she was holding something in she desperately wanted to say.

"I reread the letters," she told me, shutting her eyes to rid the desire to continue blinking. I found the quirk endearing, but it was obvious Santana found it a nuisance. "In the v-very first one you wrote me..."

Her stammering sentence trailed off as she nervously wiped her sweaty palms down her jean clad thighs. With a deep breath and a reassuring nod, Santana willed herself on, starting where she left off.

"You said I had to give love a chance in order for it to exist. I've never been loved by anyone like you love me and I guess it caught me off guard," she admitted, wringing her fingers together, but my attention was mostly focused on Santana's eyes as she spoke. Continuing to blink unknowingly, she swallowed and hesitantly stated, "I think it'd be better to not rush into anything and just be friends." She paused to look for my reaction, but I remained unreadable. "That way no one gets startled by random confessions," she joked anxiously, trying to lighten the mood.

Her honestly slowly mended my heart. I was beginning to feel lightheaded again, but in a good way. My heart hadn't pumped with so much vigor in such a long time; thirteen days to be exact. My knees felt weak, my eyes were tearing up, and I felt my throat begin to reopen my vocal passages. It had been so long since I had last spoken that I'd forgotten what my own voice sounded like. My emotions were finally starting to work again. And it was all because of the girl I loved standing on the other side of the screen door; the door I had originally used as protection against her forthcoming presence.

Santana no longer needed to force a smile in my direction; the one she was sending me now was more than genuine. "Since I'm an amateur at this, you have to be patient with me," she whispered, pushing against the knob on the locked screen door in front of her, signaling for me to open it.

Once I reached forward to unlock the only barrier keeping Santana from hurting me, something was released inside of me that I'd been carrying for a long, long time. Something that felt a lot like numbness.

"Friends?" Santana asked with a beaming smile, stepping into the doorway to stand directly in front of me.

Being friends with Santana was more than I could have ever asked for, so I willingly nodded in agreement. "Friends," I spoke for the first time in two weeks, thrusting my hand forward.

To my disbelief, Santana totally ignored my offered hand, and instead gathered me into a tight embrace. Inhaling a whiff of milk and honey, I never wanted to let go.

A friend was something I thought people only kept around in order to feel appreciated, in control, powerful. But that summer, after Santana came to my door, I learned friendship meant a lot more than keeping one's company when bored, or sharing deep dark secrets.

At least with Santana and I, friendship meant something else entirely. Our bond was unique; something you can only find once in lifetime. I learned from her, and she learned from me. The more time we spent together, the more we became balanced as one unit; two halves of the same person.

Our friendship didn't start off this way, of course. It was mostly awkward for the first couple of days. I was just remembering how to speak again while Santana was learning to keep her walls down long enough for me to actually enter.

We had to work together to make it work. It never occurred to me until days later why Santana was doing this for me. I was the one with the fixation. I was the one who was infatuated. Santana was merely the object of my affection.

It wasn't until we spent the whole entire day at the lake that I learned Santana, like myself, didn't have any friends. Sure, she was in many school activities, but the way she carried herself intimated many of the students in our school. What made Santana want me as a friend was the obvious fact I wasn't afraid her.

No matter how many times she got frustrated as I taught her how to fish, or how to attach the bait, I never once flinched in fear. All I was afraid of was another broken heart because I had just barely gotten through the first one.

If there was anything else but love that I felt for Santana Lopez, it was probably respect. She was a hard worker, and I'd see this everyday as I'd accompany her to work or help babysit her younger siblings who proved to be just as adorable as their older sister.

Santana and I would talk and laugh for hours on the phone. Sometimes we'd even forget the time and be on the phone until the wee hours of the morning. Those phone calls would mostly consist of silence as we listened to each other's breathing, only speaking to wonder if the other was still awake.

As the month of August began, Santana and I were literally inseparable. We did everything together for we had no other choice since we were basically conjoined at the hip. I would mistakenly find myself staring longingly at Santana at times, then I'd embarrassingly snap myself out of it before being caught. For awhile I actually thought Santana would never love me the way I loved her.

Maybe I was just incapable of being loved.

The best memory I have of that summer is the day it downpoured. Santana had wanted to stay inside and watch a movie, but I insisted we go outside and play in the rain. Santana never wanted to do any of the childish things I'd suggest. We were technically already adults, how would we look dancing in the rain?

But Santana had a soft spot for me that I couldn't see back then, and she'd always begrudgingly agree to my requests. We ended up getting soaked down to our undergarments in the storm. And as we ran back inside, hand in hand, our laughter filled the quiet corners of my house as we dried off.

Santana would hold me against her as we'd sit in front of the fireplace, drinking cans and cans of soda. I never would've guessed Santana could be so open and hilarious before meeting her, but I came to discover she was one of the best belchers known to man. And we'd lay in each others arms on the warm couch, telling stories, cracking jokes and laughing at the occasional burp that would escape our lips from all the soda we'd consume.

We shared everything. Santana told me about her dreams to go to New York, buy a huge studio apartment, and perform on Broadway one day. But Santana also shared other dreams with me; real dreams that she'd have at night about the future. Santana expressed to me that those dreams in particular would scare her into tears.

I didn't have any long term dreams or wishes or goals like Santana did. All I wanted was for her to love me. I'd share my insecurities about my parents with her, my fears of living alone and possibly dying alone one day. Till this day I've never told anyone but her the things I rawly expressed that summer, not even my uncle.

When I cried, Santana cried, and vice versa. Throughout the weeks, I learned being soulmates was much deeper than falling in love. Being soulmates was more of a spiritual connection between two people. They could understand each other with just one look. Distance was not even in their vocabulary, for spending only a few hours away from each other was just too much to bear. I knew for a fact Santana was my soulmate. I would never find anyone who knew my insides and outs like her no matter how hard, how long, or how far I searched.

I continued to paint every other night now. I was spending so much time with Santana I just didn't have the time like I used to. While around her, I'd come up with poetic verses about the way she smiled with such honesty, or how her laughter sounded like a crisp winter night. Whenever I thought about these things, a crease would form between my brow that Santana was always happy to smooth out for me. This was when I felt closest to her; when she was close enough to touch me, and when I was close enough to feel her.

If I could see the future, I still would've never predicted what happened on the night of August 17th. Santana was sleeping over my house that night, which was nothing new. Whenever Santana's mother didn't take the late shift at the hotel she cleaned, Santana would spend the night at my house just to get away from all the commotion and chaos occurring in her small home.

But this night was different from all the others, because this was the night Santana went downstairs into my basement and stumbled upon my multiple paintings of her. I was mortified when I found her down there staring at them. Her back was to me as I climbed down the rest of the steps cautiously.

I didn't know what to expect when I saw her face, but it definitely wasn't a pool of tears pouring down her cheeks. She wasn't mad, or humiliated, or taken aback. All I saw was a vulnerable girl looking between the paintings and me with so much adoration in her eyes it made my heart stop.

"B, these are beautiful," she whispered, gazing around the room in amazement. "Why didn't you tell me you could paint like this?"

I hadn't kept my talents hidden from her on purpose. Whenever I was with Santana, I merely focused on her and her only. What I could do, or my favorite thing in the world wasn't important to me when I was in Santana's presence, so I just never thought it was necessary mentioning.

Apparently I had thought wrong, because it seemed Santana was vastly enthralled with my artwork. And I knew this thought to be true when Santana turned to me and asked, "Is this really how you see me?"

Her eyes sparkled as she stood in front of the oil painting of the first time I saw Santana and forever fell in love with her. She was in the bridal boutique, her elbow propped on the table with her chin in hand.

The shading I chose for that portrait was exactly how I saw her that day through my eyes. Santana's beauty was even too strong for the darkness to take over during her worst of days, because I always saw the light for her.

If I remember correctly, I never got a chance to answer Santana as her lips collided heatedly with mine. I hadn't even seen it coming because my eyes were still focused on the oil painting when it happened.

Nevertheless, without a second thought, I kissed her back hungrily. It's unknown to me how our clothes became discarded on the floor, leaving us in the nude as we made hot, passionate love all night. The only sounds I could hear were our sweaty bodies thrusting together, searching for much needed pleasure and friction.

Santana howled in ecstasy as she clutched my wet hair, pleasurably pulling at the scalp. The sound of screaming, muffled groans, squeaks of naughty surprises, and guttural moans filled my basement as we continued well into the night, only taking a break to catch our breath before we'd continue again.

Santana was shameless in her nudity as she took control of my body, twisting into all types of flexible positions. She was a demanding force in the bedroom, or shall I say on the fluffy basement futon. It was impossible to count how many orgasms her quick, pumping fingers granted me that night. Our sexual marathon went on for hours and hours.

The rounds were endless seeing as we both wanted to dominate. My damp hair stuck to the sides of my face as I pointed my toes with the feeling of Santana's tongue in my most desired area. I throbbed for her touch after every orgasm she held me through. I wasn't ashamed to beg for more, and we never left each other unsatisfied for long before we caved again and again and again. Yes, we were exhausted, but our love and need for each other overshone that exhaustion and turned into the most erotic lovemaking I'd ever have in my years to come.

Young love is driven by a passion only the two in love can understand. The illusion of love was what kept us grounded, although I felt like I was floating on air. As I fell asleep with Santana, my love, in my arms, nothing in this scary world could harm me. I was unstoppable, a force to be reckoned with.

I had finally caught my fish.

Or so I thought.

The problem was Santana, like the fish, had no pockets; she had nowhere to store all of my love, therefore it was all gone by the time I opened my eyes the next morning. My love practically never existed when she fled without my knowledge in the early morning sunlight.

Something inside me died forever when I awoke the next morning to discover a note on my pillow from Santana. The girl I had made love to all night long and well into the morning was gone, in her place, a small note. I wanted to tear it up after reading it. All that was written was an apology, saying it would've been too hard for her to have said goodbye after what happened the night before.

I wanted to crumble up the note and rip it to vicious shreds. It took all the willpower in the world not to throw on some clothes and run after her, but her note warned me not to come after her, for she would already be in New York City by the time I arose. The only thing that kept me moving, that gave me hope was the last line of her note, explaining she'd be back for me one day.

It didn't make sense to me. Nothing made sense. How could she leave me like that? Especially after what happened between us; the bond we created, the love we made for hours, fucking each other senseless until we lost feeling in our most intimate areas, unable to even stand let alone walk in the morning.

My whole body trembled as I tried to choke back the sobs violently erupting through my chest. I didn't even want to breathe, for I'd only get a whiff of Santana's scent from the sheets tangled around my bare legs. I probably laid in that bed for hours and cried silently, clutching the sheets over my mouth to quiet the sobs.

Every part of my body remained sore for the rest of the day. I couldn't even look myself in the mirror, not because I was ashamed, but because her markings were just too painful of a reminder. They weren't just on my neck. Hickeys and bruises and scratches covered random places all over my body from the violent sex we'd had that night.

I thought I'd been through every emotion imaginable and its symptoms. I was greatly mistaken. When I went through a loss, I stayed silent. When I witnessed something tragic, I'd scream my head off and cry my eyes out. The only thing I never felt was nausea. I associated this feeling with shame. I couldn't even make excuses for Santana. The girl I loved, still loved after what she did to me, had fucked me and left me all in a matter of hours. My whole being felt slimy and it made me sick.

I felt used.

But more than that, I had failed in my mission to teach Santana what love really meant. I wasn't even sure if I knew the definition of love anymore.

Because when I lost Santana, I became lost as well.

Instead of losing myself in my emotional turmoil like the last time Santana hurt me, I decided to distract myself with the wedding. I was comforted by the promise she'd be back soon for me, so that kept me going. Santana wasn't answering her calls or any of my text messages anyway, so the best thing to do was to trick my mind into thinking she was still around.

I tried to hate Santana for leaving me; leaving me naked and cold and lonely in our love nest to wake up and discover the most heart wrenching note of all time in her place. I tried to hate her for it all, but I'd just end up hating myself, for there was a piece of me in Santana that she took with her the morning she ran away to New York. I could only be mad at the part of my heart that followed Santana; that would continue to follow her to the end of this earth, until the end of time.

There was an unspoken agreement between Julie and I; I would help her with the final plans of the wedding as it quickly approached, and she would refrain from asking about the emotional roller coaster I insisted on staying on no matter how damaged I was at the end of the ride. I'd catch her concerned glances as we'd run errands around town, picking up her dress, consulting the wedding planner, choosing the perfect flowers for the ceremony, deciding what food would be served at the reception.

I was a real help to Julie. Since my uncle was barely around as he finished up business deals regarding the lake and the property surrounding it, I was his eyes and ears when picking out certain colors and patterns, or champagnes and wines. I knew everything about my uncle, for we'd talk for hours on end during my summer visits with him as a child. When we'd make our own fishing poles was when we talked the most, because we always had to stay super quiet as we sat in his boat in the humid summer air, waiting for the fish to take the bait.

No matter how distracted I tried to keep myself, Santana would always slip into my mind at the most random of times. Those times were always the hardest, because I was caught off guard, and I had to control my tears around Julie or she'd definitely piece together what I was suffering through.

Julie was a smart woman. She'd met Santana many times during the weeks we became friends. It was no secret how badly I had it for her, but Julie never addressed it or asked me about it. She knew how fragile my feelings were, and I was grateful to her for not asking. It would've been impossible for me to say aloud that my only friend in the world chose show business over me.

I didn't notice until I went back into my humid basement that I had neither written a poem nor painted a picture in days. Ever since Santana left there was just no use. I always had the ability to feel her in me, even when she was in a different vicinity, but it was different when she was miles away.

I could no longer feel her. And I think what hurt the most was that she'd left me when I was at my most vulnerable. She knew how I felt, how much love I put into each touch and caress of her smooth body; how languid I was in my motions, how gentle my lips traced the outline of her body, kissing her into euphoria.

But what was worst of all, when Santana left, I hadn't just lost the love of my life; I had lost my best friend.

On the 25th of August, exactly eight days after Santana left me alone in the basement tangled in a web of sheets, nothing there to wake up to but a simple note which tore me to pieces, was the day of my uncle's wedding. Things had been so hectic and rowdy the week prior, I hadn't had much time to really wallow in self-pity by thinking too deeply into my situation.

I was too busy helping my future aunt-in-law to think about the deep desire I felt in the pit of my stomach, the raw hole Santana left in my chest, or the monumental headache I tried to desperately ignore the morning of the wedding. I didn't think about the way Santana Lopez had cared for me as a friend, then as a lover soon after.

I tried to forget the way she'd look at me from the corner of her eye with a small smirk, making me assume she knew a secret I'd never learn unless I was her. I didn't think of the way she'd hold me against her chest when I thought about my parents at odd moments. And I definitely didn't think of the way I'd hold her when she cried for her mother to love her again.

I would whisper I love you into her hair over and over again in a pleading tone, begging for her to understand that if her mother didn't love her, I'd always be there. I would just suppose my presence wasn't good enough for her, that I wasn't who she needed, but later that night, on the 25th of August, would be the night I discovered just how much I'd meant to Santana after all.

I stood proudly next to Julie as her maid of honor. My uncle was sharp in his white tuxedo. He looked incredibly different, barely recognizable without his blue baseball cap and overalls. His waning hairline was cleanly shaved, and he also looked as if he had built up some muscle during the months following up to this big day. His scruffy beard was even shaved off, which shocked me, because Uncle Fred had sworn along time ago that he'd never shave that beard for as long as he lived.

I guess you do crazy things when you're in love.

I admired the way my uncle's eyes shined as he gazed at Julie, his wife-to-be, with all the love in the world, not even bothered that his brother, my father, wasn't there to witness the best day of his life. He was just so focused on Julie that it didn't really matter. In their world, nothing else mattered but the love they shared.

I didn't blame my uncle for staring so awestruck at his bride. Julie was one of the most beautiful brides I had ever seen. Her dark black hair was tied up in a huge bun with sparkly pins holding it all together. Julie had very pretty hair, a lot of pretty hair, and it amazed me how her hairdresser, who came all the way out from California, was able to fit it all into such a neat bun.

Julie's dress was even more jaw-dropping than I remembered seeing it at the bridal boutique that day. I suppose I was just so overwhelmed by the sight of Santana that I barely noticed what dress Julie had picked out. Nevertheless, she looked spectacular, both of them did, as they said, "I do." Smiling at each other like giddy teenagers in love, they slowly closed the distance between them for their first kiss as a married couple.

Although I was happy for them, it still pained me to think about losing my uncle and now Julie as well. Julie had become a sister to me over those last three months. I didn't want to see them leave. If it meant staying in Ohio forever to watch over the lake, I would, but only if Uncle Fredrick and Julie stayed with me. This, I knew, was a naive thought.

At the reception during the first dance, I sat alone with my elbow propped on the table. The reception was beautiful. It was held on my uncle's property on top of a hill overlooking the lake, just a few yards away from where the white tents were setup. Sparkling white lights shone across the tents like lightening bugs brightening the night sky.

It was the perfect night. Everything was perfect about the whole day. The marital ceremony, the weather, the food, the guests, the reception. Everything imaginable had run perfectly smooth; everything except the empty hole inside my chest that no one could fill but Santana Lopez.

She should have been there. She should have been there with me. And when I thought I had finally learned to hate her, there was a tap on my shoulder. I held my breath as I turned around, already knowing what to expect, or who to expect, because if I concentrated hard enough, I'd always be able to smell the scent of milk and honey from miles away for the rest of my life.

Before I had even felt her finger on my shoulder, I'd felt her presence. I was always able to feel Santana; it was both a gift and a curse. And that's why I hated her so, because how dare she show up here after what she did to me? How dare she show her face? But as soon as I gazed up into those brown, cautious eyes, my hatred completely disappeared. I doubted I'd ever felt hate in the first place, because back then I'd always confuse my emotions anyway.

My jaw clenched firmly as I took her in for the first time in days. For weeks, Santana and I had been inseparable. We hadn't spent more than a few hours away from each other at a time as we really started to get close. But seeing her now, after eight days of absence, it was like we were never apart. Santana looked stunning in her royal blue dress and heels. And as I stood, her height took me by surprise; now she was just an inch shorter than me.

We were equals now with the ability to look each other straight in the eyes. Santana gazed back at me with hooded eyes, silently begging me for my forgiveness, but that was impossible for me to hand over without an explanation to her bizarre actions.

My lips were pressed together in a straight line as I watch the internal struggle flowing through Santana's eyes. The soft melody of the waltz died in the background as Santana took my hand before I even had the chance to snatch it away.

Squeezing my fingers reassuringly, she whispered, "Dance with me?" When the corner of my lips twitched in surprise, a nervous habit, Santana's eyes followed my movement, unconsciously licking her lips. I almost forgave her at that exact moment, but just like before, I couldn't give in.

Without my agreement, Santana pulled me out on to the dance floor where most of my relatives danced in their own little world. The music recaptured my ears, and I naturally moved Santana and I along to the rhythm.

My arms wrapped around her waist and I sighed in content as she rested her head on my shoulder, hugging me around my neck as if she were afraid to let go. "Don't hate me, B," she whispered against my skin. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I breathed in Santana's familiar scent and memorized it all over again.

"I could never hate you," I mumbled into her soft hair, kissing her temple so lightly it could've just been an illusion. "I just want to know why." That was all I had been wondering every second of the day for eight days. I needed an answer soon, or I would no doubt crumble.

"Did you read my note?" Santana asked softly, pulling back slightly to look into my eyes. I could see my own irritated expression in the reflection of her glassy eyes at the mention of that stupid note. Santana caught on to my dismay, explaining, "I'm sorry, B, but it would've just been too hard to say goodbye before I left."

"That's what I don't understand," I sighed in exasperation, shaking my head. "Why did you leave? Everything was perfect after that night. You and I, we connected on another level when we made love, and I know I wasn't the only one who felt it, so why?"

I shivered as Santana's hand trailed down my pale arm, slowly intertwining our fingers to calm my quickening heart beat. "After I saw those paintings in your basement, something struck me, and I realized you weren't destined to stay here and own your uncle's lake," she whispered, looking me straight in the eyes with all the seriousness in the world. "You're so talented, Brittany. And I know the perfect place you can be free and explore those talents." She paused, searching my teary eyes for something I wasn't sure of. "You belong in New York...with me."

Here was the girl of my dreams asking - no begging - me to forget about college, forget about the lake I grew up at, and run away with her to New York. The offer was more than tempting. It was all I ever wanted, but I was still hesitant to let Santana know this. So many questions were still buzzing around my mind, and I had to have them answered before I agreed to anything.

"I still don't understand why you left," I stated, pulling her close to me. Now that I had her in my arms, I never wanted to let go.

Santana smiled softly, like she knew something I didn't. "What I did, I did for us, B," she assured me, caressing my cheek in her hand. "The morning I left, I woke up to you sleeping so deeply I didn't want to disturb you."

A new song came on, and I tightened my grip around Santana's hips as we swayed back and forth to the music. The way her eyes gleamed, the way her lips twitched upward, the way her head tilted to the side. I was captured by it all as my eyes traced over the features of her face and rested on her lips as she continued to speak.

"That night I had a dream of us in New York together; you as an artist, me as an entertainer," Santana explained, twirling a strand of my blonde hair around her finger. "In the dream I ran off to New York with your oil painting, bought a studio apartment, and hung the picture above our very own fireplace. And, B, I had to make our dreams come true." When all I did was gaze at Santana in bewilderment, she nervously bit her bottom lip and stroked my skin with the pad of her thumb, saying, "Sorry, I'm a rambler."

Those familiar words were what finally made a smile break across my face. Santana always knew exactly what to do to make me smile. I tried to stop it. I tried to hold it back, but it was no use. The tears came anyway. They blurred my vision and pooled around the edges of my eyes. If only I blinked, then all of the tears would spill over and drench my cheeks.

Julie had spent nearly an hour on my make-up, and she would surely scold me for messing it up if she were here. Good thing for me, she was nowhere to be seen, so I finally blinked my eyes, allowing a lone tear to slide down my cheek and pass my jawline. Before I could comprehend what was happening, Santana was pulling me off the dance floor and out of the huge white tent that glowed from within.

As we ran hand in hand, our heels haphazardly flew off our feet. Laughter echoed through the night air, and I couldn't help but smile as our hair flowed in the warm breeze. Shuffling down the hill, barefoot and in love, the grass tickled our ankles. We shed our clothing all the way to moon-reflected lake, and at lightening speed we tore off our underwear on the dock, remaining unashamed in our birthday suits.

The water was freezing cold when we jumped in together, but when Santana's arms encircled my slim waist, my whole body filled with warmth. Her body molded perfectly behind mine as we peacefully floated in the water, the sound of music drowning out in the distance.

"I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't mean to," Santana apologized, her soft fingers tracing lazy circles over my tummy and around my bellybutton underneath the water. "I just wanted this to be a surprise. I guess I'm not very good at these romantic gestures, huh?"

I giggled, shaking my head in agreement before admitting, "I'd already forgiven you the moment I saw your face again." I could never stay mad at Santana for long. I'd almost forgotten why I was angry with her in the first place. She was impossible to hold a grudge against, especially when I'd look into her brown, puppy dog eyes.

"I love you so much," Santana whispered hotly, ghosting her lips over my ear. "As a friend, a lover, a soulmate, a person."

I turned my head so I could see Santana's beautiful face under the bright moonlight. Our lips connected immediately. And we kissed slowly and meaningfully as she held me tightly against her so I wouldn't drift away. "I'll love you always," I spoke against her lips. "As a friend, a lover, a soulmate, a person."

Santana chuckled at the repetition of her words, grazing her lips against my neck and up my earlobe. Her breath sent shivers up my spine as I bent my head back to further accommodate her heated actions. "In your first letter, you said if something is strong enough it can survive anything," Santana murmured, trailing one hand down my waist and the other up my shoulder. My breath hitched at how well she knew my body after just one night of making love. "Do you really believe that?"

I nodded against her cheek immediately, because I wouldn't have wrote it if I didn't mean it. "Of course I do," I whispered, turning my head to look at her, but my attention quickly snapped back to the water in front of me when I saw movement from the corner of my eye.

I gasped, clasping my hand over my mouth in astonishment as Santana's hand emerged from the water with the most exquisite ring I had ever seen. It could have been the gleam from the moon, or it could have simply just been my love for her, but whatever it was, the ring was magnificent as it sparkled under the stars.

I blinked slowly with wide eyes, speechless. Staring at the ring in disbelief, I almost questioned if this whole night was a dream, but I knew I wasn't seeing or imagining things when Santana took my hand from underneath the water and held the ring at the tip of my finger.

"I believe whatever you believe, B," Santana whispered lovingly. I was rendered speechless as I listened to her words and stared at the ring with shocked, wide eyes. "You once told me to give love a chance. I learned about love from you. You learned about life from me. We're a team, B. Forever."

My breath hitched as Santana kissed me on the back of my neck, sighing nervously with a shaky breath as she composed herself for her next words. Santana's strong arms were the only thing keeping me from sinking into the water, because my heart was beating so hard, I thought I would collapse on the spot.

"You and I can have a life together in New York. We can make love for hours and hours until we can no longer breathe. We can shout our love from off the rooftops. We can do anything," she concluded, slowly inching the ring up my finger. "But only if you promise to be with me through it all, B."

Tilting my head back to look at my beloved, I giggled at the nervous expression written across her features. "I promise," I murmured, staring longingly into her eyes before closing the distance between us.

My heart was beating hard in my ears as adrenaline pumped through my blood, leaving me feeling invincible. The sound was so loud inside my head as I kissed Santana, it surprised me how clear I could hear the crickets as they chirped in the distance, as well as the guests' laughter from the white tents.

Ignoring the surrounding noises, I concentrated on kissing Santana, my eyes rolling back as her tongue met mine. Holding each other tightly, our body's waded in the water, legs entangled together like vines in a jungle.

Santana chuckled bashfully to herself as she pecked me on the lips one more time before quickly nuzzling her nose into my neck for more warmth as she confessed, "I am so in love with you, Brittany."

Here she paused, letting her words sink in because she knew how long I had been waiting to hear those words. Quiet tears poured down my cheeks as I repeated her words in my head over and over again.

"I didn't think love existed in the beginning of the summer, but you proved me wrong," Santana told me, running her fingers through my wet hair. "B, you taught me how to love in the most passionate of ways."

My heart soared along with the clouds in the sky as Santana floated around my body to wade in front of me, still holding the ring at the tip of my finger. I ran my free hand through Santana's damp locks, smiling at how smooth and gentle each strand felt against the palm of my hand.

Staring into her eyes, I saw more than the girl I fell in love with that summer after graduation...I saw my eternal soulmate. The tears in her eyes matched mine as we listened to the sound of our heartbeats thumping in synchronization.

Looking up at me through her thick eyelashes, Santana took a deep breath to steady her voice, finally asking, "Brittany Pierce the painter, will you marry me?" She pinched her lips together and watched me carefully, waiting for my reaction.

I was so elated to finally hear the words I'd been dreaming about all summer, the best I could do was squeal in excitement, splashing the water around us as I screamed, "Yes, yes, yes!" As I threw my arms around Santana's neck and crashed our lips together, she somehow managed to slip the ring on my finger between our naked bodies.

That summer, I not only taught my beloved, Santana Lopez, how to love, but she taught me how to live in return. Together, we were more than strong enough to survive anything. I survived my emotional turmoil by going to therapy. Santana was there to hold my hand through every session. She helped me through my parents absences by opening her comforting arms and whispering words of affection into my ear.

Santana dealt with her mother's anguish by, what else, using confrontation. But her method seemed to snap her mother out of a six year long funk, reminding her that she has a family who desperately needs her love and care. And I was with Santana through it all.

In the fall, we moved to New York and into the studio apartment Santana had dreamt about the night we made love for the first time. It ended up being everything I ever wanted and more. Near a huge window that looked out onto the city, I had my very own working space with an endless load of art supplies. Santana really wasn't kidding when she said she'd been saving since she was twelve.

As soon as we unpacked everything from the moving van, Santana and I made sure to christen our new apartment the way we knew best. The whole day was spent in our new bed, rolling around in the sheets as we tried to top each other, screaming out each other's name as our fingers and tongues worked in and out to satisfy our needs, mumbling unintelligable words as we fell over the edge, whispering sweet nothings as we caught our breath to get ready for our next round of heated oblivion.

Let's just say the neighbors aren't our biggest fans.

With an inspiration in the form of Santana strolling around the apartment in nothing but her unabashed nudity, I painted and painted and painted until one day I hosted my very own gallery during the winter. Santana stood proudly by my side the whole night while the oil painting of her hung on the wall behind us with a big sign that read NOT FOR AUCTION.

Santana didn't exactly make it big on Broadway, but I don't think she really cared much. One night as she sung at a bar, a talent scout had been sitting in the audience and was very impressed with her performance. He ended up being a television producer, so my love got her big break. And instead of her name in lights, Santana's face appeared all over the world.

So I guess the rest is history. I was just happy to have finally caught my fish.

And I wasn't afraid of losing her this time, because according to Santana, her pockets were more than full with my love. And the wedding rings on our finger was just another blissful reminder.

The End.