Santana was standing at her locker checking her make up. She was pleased with the thought that her face was healed completely and she was beginning to look like herself even though sometimes her insides still felt like they were shattered in a million pieces.
Thank God I have someone trying to put me back together, she thought to herself as she pictured Rachel in her minds eye, making her smile.
"Hi," Quinn greeted with a grin, noting her friend's smile. It had been far too long since she'd seen Santana smile like that.
Santana smiled back. "Hi."
Suddenly Quinn was absolutely beaming. "You look like you're feeling better."
Santana shrugged. "Not having bruises and cuts all over my gorgeous mug helps."
"You're kind of glowing," Quinn noted, her grin remaining as her eyes turned curious. "What's up with you?"
Santana shrugged again, trying to appear casual about it. "You call it a glow, I call it love."
"Love?" Quinn repeated, looking shocked but happy for her friend. "Have you told your parents?"
Santana shook her head. "Not yet. Mom won't be back from London for another week. I want to wait until I can tell them at the same time."
"So you're official then?" Quinn asked with a grin.
Santana nodded slowly. "It's crazy, right?"
Before Quinn could answer, Santana's face dropped when she noticed a hulking jock rushing past her with a slushie. It wasn't so much that he had the slushie; it was where he was headed with it.
Straight towards Rachel.
"Karofsky!" Santana yelled, causing him to turn.
"What?" He smiled lecherously at her, making her stomach turn. He grabbed his crotch. "Need something?"
Something happened in that moment. Her concern for Rachel right then was so intense that her fear of the jock didn't even register. Her eyes narrowed. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Slushying the loser." He stared at her, grin widening, silently daring her to try to stop him.
Santana stalked closer to him, some of her former self returning. "Hell no you're not."
"Try and stop me."
"Do it and you'll regret it." It wasn't a threat, it was a promise.
He stared at her for a long time before turning and tossing the slushie in Rachel's face. He smirked and tossed the cup down the hall so it clattered at Santana's feet and crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the locker next to him.
The hall went almost dead silent as everyone stopped and stared at the showdown between Karofsky and Quinn and Santana.
"It was him," Santana told Quinn, standing to her left.
Quinn's eyes went wide. "Karofsky was the one that hurt you?"
Santana nodded, her eyes locked on his, refusing to back down this time. "He raped me."
Quinn turned to him, stalking towards him slowly. Her gaze turned deadly and suddenly it was dead silent in the hall. "You better pray that your parents take you out of school before I'm finished with you. Because by the time I'm done, you won't be able to step foot in these halls again."
Santana ignored them, knowing Quinn could handle Karofsky. He'd been afraid of her since junior high. Instead, her gaze fell on Rachel, who had Puck standing next to her, with him looking torn between helping Rachel and helping Quinn. She could feel her panic suddenly making a delayed appearance, threatening to swallow her whole and she grabbed Rachel and her emergency slushie bag and headed for the nearest bathroom.
Santana had the room cleared in a matter of seconds and she tossed Rachel's bag down and dug through it looking for a towel.
"Are you okay?" they both asked at the same time.
"I'm okay," Rachel said. "Just sticky. Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Santana replied quickly. She slid the towel around Rachel's shoulders and guided her towards a sink. "Let's get you cleaned up first."
They remained silent as Santana washed the slushie from Rachel's hair. Rachel was silent as she watched Santana work over her to rinse her hair out. She could tell the other girl was barely holding it together and all she wanted was to wrap Santana in a hug and not let go.
Once Rachel was in clean clothes she pulled Santana into her arms. She could feel the taller girl trembling and she squeezed her a little tighter. "Are you okay?"
Santana's head shook and she finally broke down into sobs.
"Oh, sweetie," Rachel said softly, stroking her back gently. "It's gonna be okay."
Santana shook her head against Rachel's shoulder. "I have a feeling it'll be a long time until everything is okay."
Both girls looked up as the door swung open and Quinn stood before them with Sue Sylvester, who had broken up the fight.
Quinn's left eye was swollen and her nose was bleeding. Her bottom lip was split, but she was looking extremely smug.
Sue stared at Santana for a long minute, an unreadable expression on her face. "You two, come with me and Rocky to Figgins' office."
"Coach?" Santana asked slowly, looking apprehensive.
"The police have been called," Sue informed them softly. "David will be put in custody and we're going to talk to Figgins before Rachel takes you to the hospital."
A few hours later she'd spoken to the police, she'd spoken to the doctors and she was sitting on a hospital bed after being examined, even though she still wasn't sure why she had been.
The doctors had told her that it was more a precaution to ensure there hadn't been any permanent damage internally. She'd had blood drawn and every test imaginable done to be sure that she was perfectly healthy and so far everything had come back negative.
Through the entire exam Rachel remained patiently at her side, holding her hand through the entire ordeal. Santana was beyond grateful for her presence. Rachel kept her grounded when a panic attack threatened.
Santana only wished she'd been present during the questioning, but it was clear the police wanted her alone for that and it had been hell.
She was seated on the edge of a bed, her legs dangling off the side, and she glanced up as the door to her room slid open, letting out a sigh of relief when Rachel poked her head in. "Can I come in?"
"Please," Santana replied immediately, her shoulders slumping as relief settled over her now that Rachel was back in the room. "That was terrible."
Rachel paused halfway into the room and she studied Santana carefully for a moment.
Something was wrong.
"San? What is it?" she asked quietly, moving towards her once again. She cradled Santana's face in her palms carefully, kissing her gently.
Santana swallowed thickly, her heart rate spiking instantly. "Karofsky took off."
A sharp pang of fear rippled through Rachel and her brow tightened into a deep frown. "What?"
Santana sighed, her eyes turning up towards the bright fluorescent lights, and she blinked rapidly, trying to fight back tears. "He got away somehow. He took off at school before the police showed up."
"He's just out there running free?" Rachel asked, totally baffled as to how this had happened.
Santana's chin quivered and she blinked, fat tears finally tumbling over her cheeks and a moment later she was wrapped up in Rachel's embrace.
"Easy, baby," Rachel said softly, rubbing circles over Santana's back. "The police will find him."
Santana nodded, remaining silent as she tried to fight back her panic and her tears, trying desperately to draw as much comfort from Rachel as she could.
"What did the police say when they talked to you?" Rachel asked softly.
Santana shook her head, swiping at her tears. "They just asked me questions about what happened and then one of them came in and said that he'd gone AWOL."
"Are you alright?" Rachel asked, pulling back enough to settle between Santana's dangling legs, a hand falling to either thigh.
Santana nodded, her hands resting on top of Rachel's. "Just freaked out. What if the police can't find him? What if he gets his hands on me now that this is all out in the open?" She was silent for a beat before her biggest fear came out. "What if my dad doesn't believe me?"
"Sweetie, you know that will never happen," Rachel assured her softly, her heart aching painfully in her chest.
"Miss Lopez, your father is here," a nurse informed her after peeking her head in the door.
Santana nodded wordlessly, her mouth suddenly going dry and her panic washing over her in a wave. A gentle squeeze to her hand brought her back to the present and she gazed into those warm eyes watching her so intently as Rachel settled back into her seat.
"Are you sure you don't want me to leave?" Rachel asked softly.
Santana shook her head, her grip on Rachel's hand tightening. "Please stay. I know it'll be uncomfortable, but I can't do this without you."
Rachel nodded and stood abruptly when the door opened and Carlos Lopez stood almost panting in the doorway, clearly winded from running. He was a large, good-looking man who had an intense gaze set on his daughter.
"Santana?" he questioned softly, taking three steps towards her and pulling her into his arms. "Thank God. They told me you were here and I was afraid it was a car accident."
"No," she sighed, sounding relieved. "Daddy, I'm fine."
"What are you doing here?" he asked, pulling back to cup her face in his hands gently. He only then seemed to notice Rachel sitting nearby. "And who is this?"
"Rachel Berry," Rachel answered, standing up, her hand extended and a timid smile on her face.
He smiled at her politeness. He'd seen far too many teenagers with no manners and it was a huge pet peeve of his. "Carlos Lopez. Nice to meet you."
"You too, Mr. Lopez," Rachel replied softly.
He smiled warmly at her before turning his full attention back to his daughter. "Tell me what happened, honey."
"You should sit," she told him softly.
Rachel immediately recognized the inflection change in her voice and knew she was close to tears so she reclaimed her seat and held Santana's left hand between both of hers.
Santana looked her way for a long moment. She tried to calm her racing heart, nodding when Rachel offered a warm, encouraging smile.
Carlos noticed immediately. Something about the two girls and the way they were sitting, the way they were silently communicating, indicated they were very close. He took the seat on the other side of Santana and gripped her other hand.
"Daddy, I have to tell you something and I need you to listen and not freak out until I'm finished telling you," she told him softly, her chin practically resting on her chest as she spoke, her voice getting thick with tears already.
"Are you pregnant?" he asked instantly, his worst fear surfacing immediately.
"No," she answered. She almost smiled at the relief she could see washing over his features, but she knew what was coming and how much worse it was than being pregnant. She took a deep breath and drew strength from the squeeze to her left hand. "I was at a party a few months ago and I was drinking. A bunch of us, cheerleaders and football players, decided to go for a walk in the woods behind the house."
Rachel froze in her seat because she'd never actually heard the story of what had happened that night.
"Before I knew it, most of the other people had broken off to go back to the house or go make out or whatever, but I was left alone with one of the guys from the football team."
Rachel spared a glance to Santana's father, who at this point had gone completely pale, as if he knew what was coming next.
"He started kissing me, but I pulled away from him to go back to the house. He's vile, and I didn't want to do anything with him. I just wanted to go back to the party, but he grabbed me by my shirt and it ripped when he pulled me into him again. I tried to knee him, but I missed." She paused, her chin quivering and tears pooling in her eyes. "I tried to fight him off. He was too big and too strong." She met her father's teary gaze then. "Daddy, he raped me."
If Rachel hadn't been there in the room with him, she never would have believed what happened in the next few seconds. One moment she was watching the horrified, heartbroken father of the girl she was in love with, and the next moment she was watching a man hell-bent on revenge.
"Who?" he growled, standing up so abruptly that his chair tipped over. "Who did this to you?"
Santana swallowed thickly. "His name is David Karofsky. He goes to school with us."
Carlos leaned over so he could look her in the eye. "I will kill him for this."
Santana shook her head. "Daddy, the police told me that he got away from them."
Carlos suddenly let loose an impressive string of curse words – in English and Spanish- that made Rachel blush. "I'll deal with them later." He pulled Santana into a gentle hug, holding her tightly for a few moments before he drew back and held her by the shoulders and gazed at her with teary eyes. "Sweetheart, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Maybe if I'd been around more-"
"No, Daddy," Santana cut him off with a shake of her head. "It's not your fault. It's not mine either. It's his."
"You're right. It is his." Carlos gazed at her with concerned eyes for a long beat before his gaze settled on Rachel. "You seem very close to Santana. I'm assuming I have you to thank for getting her through this ordeal?"
"She's been amazing," Santana answered, unable to keep the adoration out of her voice, and Carlos noticed immediately.
Rachel blushed, shrugging modestly. "I've just tried to be a good friend."
Carlos looked between them. "Rachel, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking care of my girl." He set his gaze on Santana. "I just wish you had come to me. It kills me to think you've been fighting with this alone."
"I haven't been alone," Santana told him, squeezing Rachel's hand. "Rachel's been putting me back together."
Carlos gathered her in his arms carefully and squeezed her gently. "Well, starting now, honey, I'm going to be helping with that as much as I can."
Santana let out a relieved sigh in her father's arms. She had been so worried about everything getting out and having all her personal business aired out for everyone to see, but now that it had happened, she felt so much better. Lighter, even. "Can we go home now?"
Carlos nodded, cupping her face and pressing a kiss to her forehead. "I'll take care of it. Sit tight."
Once they were alone again, Rachel stood up and pulled Santana into her arms and held her. Santana was content to stay in that embrace as long as Rachel was willing to hold on to her.
Rachel pulled back enough to watch Santana carefully for a few moments. "Is it stupid to ask how you feel now that your dad knows?"
Santana shook her head, leaning forward enough to kiss Rachel softly. "Not at all, baby girl. I was just thinking about how good it feels to have it all out in the open. It sounds weird, I know."
Rachel shook her head. "It doesn't." Her eyes mapped the beautiful face before her and she smiled softly. "I love you."
Santana smiled, reaching out to run her hand over Rachel's hair affectionately, gently pulling her close by the back of her head. She pressed their lips together softly. "Love you too."
A few hours later the three of them were seated around the Lopez living room with an open pizza box sitting on the ottoman. The two girls were seated on the couch, trying to eat despite the unease that had settled upon them finding that Karofsky still hadn't been located.
"Santana, I don't want you going anywhere alone until he's found," Carlos said from his position on the floor on the other side of the ottoman.
"I agree completely," Rachel told her.
Santana rolled her eyes. "Why do I get the feeling that this is just the first in a long line of rule changes."
"Honey, we just want to keep you safe," Carlos told her. "And I'm going to get you in to see a therapist as soon as I can."
Santana's face soured instantly. "Do I have to?"
"Yes!" Carlos and Rachel answered immediately.
Santana's scowl deepened and she poked Rachel in the side. "You're supposed to be on my side."
Rachel looked at her with a glowing smile. "I love you, so I'm on whatever side keeps you the safest." Her eyes suddenly went wide when she realized what she said. Her eyes met Santana's and they both turned to Carlos.
He gave them both a look. "Please don't even try to act like you two were keeping that a secret. I could tell from the moment I saw you together."
Rachel suddenly felt like she was imposing on an important conversation so she excused herself to get another glass of water to give them some privacy.
Santana suddenly looked worried. "Please tell me you're okay with this."
"Of course I am, honey," he told her softly. "I love you no matter what. And I know I've only known Rachel for a few hours, but she seems genuinely kind and smart and she obviously cares about you a lot. I honestly couldn't have asked for more from someone you have a relationship with."
"She…" Santana trailed off after a moment as a rush of emotion suddenly overwhelmed her. "She just means a lot to me."
"I can tell," Carlos replied.
"Do you think Mom will be okay with it?" Santana asked softly.
Carlos nodded, smiling warmly at her. "Honey, you haven't really been fooling anyone all these years with your relationship with Brittany. We've known for a long time."
Santana felt the relief wash over her and her shoulders slumped. Something occurred to her then. "What do you think mom will say about all the other stuff?"
Carlos was quiet for a moment, watching as Rachel moved back into the room and took her seat at his daughter's side. "I think she'll be heartbroken that this happened to you, but I know that she will do everything in her power to help you through this. We all will. Right, Rachel?"
Rachel smiled, leaning over to press a quick kiss to Santana's cheek. "Absolutely."
The doorbell suddenly chimed through the house making the three occupants exchange a glance, wondering who would be at the door at this hour.
"I'll get it," Carlos told them, standing from his place on the floor and heading for the front door.
"How are you holding up?" Rachel asked softly, reaching out to rub comforting circles on Santana's back.
Santana was quiet for a moment. "Today was kind of cathartic. I feel a lot lighter than I have in weeks. I know I probably shouldn't feel that way because he's still out there somewhere and who knows what's going to happen if he's caught. But somehow I just have a feeling that everything's gonna be okay now."
"Like a weight's been lifted?" Rachel asked, smiling affectionately at her.
Santana nodded. "Exactly." She felt her heart flutter under the glow of that smile and she was suddenly filled with that strange sense of anticipation that encompassed her when she thought about finally moving on from all of this with the beautiful girl sitting next to her.
They both looked up when they heard the front door close and Carlos came back into the room, his expression unreadable.
"Daddy?" Santana asked, her brow creasing in a worried frown.
Carlos stood absolutely still, a baffled expression suddenly settling on his handsome features before he turned to the girls. "That was one of the detectives. They found David Karofsky."
Santana's stomach suddenly rolled violently and lurched into her throat. "Where was he?"
"They found him in his family's garage," Carlos said softly. "With a noose around his neck, hanging from the rafters."
"What?" Rachel exclaimed, her hand unconsciously reaching out to grasp Santana's, who was silent next to her.
Carlos faced them then. "He's dead. Apparently he left a note. He admitted to attacking Santana and apologized for it. I'm assuming there's more, but that's all they told me."
Santana felt them both staring at her, like they were waiting for her to freak out, or cry, or melt down, something. Anything. But she was so completely conflicted that she didn't know how to react.
On one hand, she hated David Karofsky for not only attacking her, but showing absolutely no remorse whatsoever. He'd tormented her for weeks after the attack. But on the other hand, picturing him hanging in his garage left her with nothing but a feeling of pity for him.
Rachel studied Santana carefully, noting the conflict in her eyes, the slump of her shoulders and the frown tugging at her lips.
"Honey, are you alright?" Carlos asked softly, asking before Rachel could.
Santana nodded automatically. "I think I just want to get some sleep. It's been a really long day."
Carlos nodded, exchanging a concerned glance with Rachel. "Of course, you two go on up to bed. I'm taking a few days off to get you all squared away with therapy and everything, so I'll see you girls in the morning." He moved to press a kiss to each girl's forehead.
Rachel nodded absently, her attention focused on Santana. She reached out to wrap an arm around her to guide her towards the stairs. "Good night, Mr. Lopez."
"Night, Daddy," Santana said, her body reacting as if it was on auto-pilot.
As soon as Santana crossed the threshold to her bedroom she seemed to snap out of it and she went about her normal nightly routine of changing, washing her face and brushing her teeth, with Rachel doing the same, keeping a watchful eye on her.
Once they were settled comfortably in Santana's bed, Rachel turned on her side facing the other girl. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Santana was silent for so long that Rachel nearly repeated the question, but suddenly she turned to mirror Rachel's position. "No. Is that okay?"
Rachel nodded, reaching out to tuck a dark curl behind Santana's ear. "Of course. Is there anything I can do?"
"Not unless you can shut my brain off," Santana sighed.
"I don't know about that," Rachel breathed softly, scooting close enough to press a long, slow kiss to Santana's lips. "But I can try to distract you if you want?"
Finally Santana cracked a smile and she reached out to grasp Rachel's arm slowly. She gently coaxed Rachel towards her until the diva's weight was settled comfortably on top of her.
Rachel propped herself on one elbow and traced the pad of one finger over the slope of Santana's eyebrow, then down her nose, then across the bow of her lips. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" She leaned closer and allowed her lips to follow the same path. She gently nudged Santana's head to the side and allowed her lips to press softly against the soft skin of her neck.
"Fair warning," Santana breathed, "the fastest way to get into my pants – or panties in this particular case - is kissing that spot right there, so unless you want things to unravel really fast, you might want to try somewhere else."
Rachel smirked, nuzzling that spot teasingly for just a moment. "I think I'll file that away for future use."
A breathy sort of moan escaped Santana's lips in that moment, causing a spike in Rachel's heart rate. "Now you're just teasing."
"Hmm," Rachel hummed, pressing her lips to Santana's jaw. She moved back to Santana's mouth, allowing her teeth to sink into a full bottom lip before soothing it with a kiss.
"Jesus," Santana groaned, her hands fisting in the back of Rachel's shirt to keep them from wandering too far. "How are you so good at this?"
"Maybe I'm just good at you," Rachel breathed, pulling back to meet the other girl's eyes.
"Mmm," Santana hummed. She reached a hand up to trace Rachel's bottom lip with her thumb as her other snuck under the back of Rachel's shirt and splayed softly against her lower back. "That you are, baby girl."
Rachel suddenly smiled rather shyly. "I really like it when you call me that."
Santana smirked. "Expect me to use it a lot more if it elicits that kind of smile." She tightened her hold on Rachel, pulling the shorter girl impossibly close, smiling when Rachel's head dropped to her shoulder. "Thank you for everything, Rachel. I'm not sure I would have survived this without you."
Rachel pressed her lips to Santana's neck. "You never have to thank me. I love you and I'm here for you. Whatever you need. I promise."
A.N. Like the last chapter, I had a lot of doubts about this one. Originally I didn't kill Dave off. I had Carlos attack him in the ER, but I changed my mind for two reasons and one is very selfish; I didn't want to have to deal with the trial and all that he-said, she-said bullshit (it's not exactly that simple, but it's enough of an explanation for an author's note). The second reason was that I felt like suicide was a very real option for someone who hates himself and then does something horrible because he hate himself. Point being, it's different and I wasn't sure how people would respond to it.
Anyways, we're approaching the end of this one. I see two or three more chapters before we come to a close. Hope you enjoyed