Disclaimer: I do not own Glee. That privilege belongs to Ryan Murphy and Company. Also, I don't live near Ohio but I have access to the internet so I did do some minimal research. Anything I get wrong is entirely my fault. I am also NOT a medical professional and anything having to do with diagnoses or treatment is completely based off of things I have seen on television or found online. This is a work of FICTION and should be treated as such.
A/N: This isn't my first foray into fanfiction, but it is my first Faberry. I have become obsessed with this pairing and this idea came to me and it won't leave so I had to give it a shot. I also have a few other ideas in the works, but this story is the one that has kind of been writing itself for the last couple days. Please let me know what you think, whether it be bad, good, or even an, eh.
Quinn adjusted the straps of her pack as she watched the heads of her fellow glee clubbers bob ahead of her. The sun was high and hot as it burned its way through the dense foliage casting shadows across the hiking trail they were all following. She was bringing up the rear by choice. They were only a week out of junior year and were staying a week in the Wayne National Forest in southern Ohio as another one of Mr. Schuester's grand ideas to foster camaraderie. Part of her wished he'd stop trying so hard to get them all to be friends. The fact was that considering the differences in background and personalities that were found among the group of teammates it was amazing that they were able to get along as well as they did. They had never really let their differences affect a competition and she felt that a lot of the tension in the club fed their creativity and the emotion it took to give the performances they did. However, in this instance, she had to admit that she was enjoying herself.
Each of the club members had contributed toward a fund and they had rented a cabin even though Mr. Schuester had wanted them to "rough it" in tents. Rachel and Mercedes had insisted that the only way they would be participating was if there was an actual roof and solid walls over them as they slept and running water when they wanted it. Since Artie wasn't able to come because his family already had vacation plans and Sam couldn't come because his family was moving to Dayton where his dad had finally found a job they hadn't needed as many beds.
This was their second day in the wilderness area and they'd all decided to go on a hike. They'd each prepared a small pack and had a leisurely lunch in a small clearing and now they were making the long trek back. Quinn smiled wearily as she could now easily spot the difference between the more athletic members of the club and those who were less active. Mercedes and Kurt walked slowly in front of her, their feet barely rising from the ground with each step as they trudged slowly along the rough terrain. Rachel, Finn, Lauren, and Puck were staggered between the rear of the pack and Santana, Brittany, Mike, Tina, and Mr. Schuester leading the way.
Quinn let her pace slow even more to put more distance between her and the rest of the group. She wasn't tired. She just wanted some quiet. From all appearances she would be one of the least likely of the group to enjoy the great outdoors, but Quinn actually liked camping and hiking. From the time she was little she had accompanied her father and older sister on annual fishing trips both locally and even across the state borders into Indiana and Kentucky. Her grandmother on her mom's side liked to bird watch and had been a member of the Ohio Ornithological Society. She had passed her appreciation for winged creatures on to her youngest granddaughter and Quinn had packed a pair of binoculars in her pack in hopes of getting some time away from the group to bird watch in peace without the threat of ridicule.
Just as she lost sight of Mercedes and Kurt around a bend in the trail a flash of bright yellow flitting through the trees to her right drew her attention away. She stopped as she peered into the thicker brush, focusing on the lines of branches until she saw it again; a flip of quick wings and a bright almost neon yellow movement of color. She grinned as she slung her pack from one shoulder so she could reach in with her now free arm and grab the binoculars. Zipping the pack back up and readjusting it on her shoulders she wandered off the trail, picking her way slowly through the underbrush. She wanted to be careful to not frighten the bird off by being overly noisy. She was about twenty yards from the trail when she saw the movement again, but closer now.
She stayed focused on her goal as she moved slowly through the woods. She picked each step with care until she found herself in an area of thick ferns and decided to stop. She found the movement again and raised the binoculars to her eyes as she remained fixed on her desired location. Everything became too big once looking through the magnifying device and she deftly adjusted the focus with her right index finger until what she saw became sharp. A grin spread across her face as she watched the small bird rest on the limb. He took a few small jumps along the limb as his bright yellow head swiveled and twitched as he took in his surroundings.
"What are you doing?"
Quinn jumped at the sudden question and saw the flash as the bird took off. She turned around with a frown on her face to find a petite brunette standing beside her. She could have let herself feel a little warmth over the fact that Rachel seemed concerned about her, but the fact that the girl had just interrupted her first opportunity for watching one of her favorite species of birds let her instead find the annoyance she needed. She glared at the girl and said, "God Rachel. We're not in glee club right now. I don't have to answer to you. And besides, what are you doing? Why aren't you with the group?"
Rachel's back instantly went rigid and she crossed her arms across her chest, taking a defensive stance. "While I did notice that you didn't answer my question I will not extend you the same discourtesy. I was performing my regular ten minute head count to ensure that all members from our hiking party that set out this morning would indeed make a safe return when I noticed that you were no longer with the group. I dropped back to find you and noticed you walking off the trail and disappearing into the woods. Feeling that this was a much too dangerous task for you to be attempting without a partner I followed you. Your safety was my only concern Quinn."
Quinn clenched her jaw and shook her head. Of course Rachel would be performing regular head counts. The entire drive up in the rented van had been filled with a tutorial on the dangerous animals and poisonous plants they may encounter. Rachel had expressed her disappointment in not being able to provide the presentation in Power Point multiple times. She really wasn't upset with Rachel for following her. She was upset that it made her feel good to know the brunette cared enough about her to travel off the trail to make sure she was safe. She was upset by the feeling in the pit of her stomach whenever the two of them were in each other's presence. They had gone through a tumultuous couple of years and Quinn's recent realization about the true extent of her feelings for the girl only added to her discomfort. She didn't know why she chose to fight with the girl in that moment instead of just accepting her explanation and heading back to join the group.
"Well as you can see I'm perfectly safe so you can go back to Finn now before he mistakes some woodland fairy for you and takes it home instead." She regretted it as soon as it was out of her mouth. The hurt she saw flash in brown eyes made her regret it even more.
"I'm sorry that Finn hurt you Quinn, but I had no choice in that matter. It was completely his decision and there's no reason for you to be cruel to me when I was simply concerned for you. I see now that my efforts are wasted on you." Rachel turned quickly on her heels to begin her normal storm out, but doing so in the woods with branches and rocks and uneven earth is much different than while doing so on tiled floors. As she turned her foot caught on a protruding tree root causing the momentum of her upper body to continue as her foot remained where it was. Quinn saw her begin to fall and instinctively reached her arm out to try to catch the girl at the same time that Rachel instinctively reached out for the blonde to try to stop her fall. Quinn felt Rachel's hand in her own, but instead of stopping Rachel she was pulled along with her through the thick ferns and brush that had stopped Quinn from proceeding further.
They both hit the ground with a hard thud that knocked the air from Quinn's lungs. She was aware of Rachel yelping in pain and in the next instant she felt her body hurtling forward and slamming again into the earth as they each continued to tumble. As small branches and twigs scraped across her body Quinn realized that the relatively flat ground they had been on had not continued where they had fallen. The brush had concealed a steep decline that they were both now tumbling down with no way to stop. Quinn tried to dig her heels into the earth to slow her descent but she couldn't keep her feet planted long enough to get traction. Her hands flailed as she tried to grasp onto anything to give her purchase but the world was flying by too quickly for her to find anything and what she was able to grab was either too weak and broke quickly in her grasp or she was going too quickly to hold on and her grip would fail.
It felt like she was falling forever but it truly only took a few seconds to come to a stop. It was a painful stop and Quinn let out a grunt of pain as her body settled hard on the ground. She lay motionless in the dirt as she tried to catch her breath and assessed her body for serious injury. She'd had the wind knocked out of her and she could feel small cuts across her hands and arms from the branches she'd passed but overall she didn't think she'd suffered any serious injury. When she finally opened her eyes and turned her head to see the large rock inches from her face she swallowed the bile that rose in her throat as she realized how close she had come to a serious head injury, if not death. She heard a groan of pain a little distance away and suddenly remembered that she wasn't the only one to make the unintended trip down the hidden ravine and she forced herself to rise to unsteady feet as she searched for Rachel.
"Rachel! Rachel!" Quinn quickly scanned the area as she called for the brunette. She spotted the red of her shirt at the same time that she heard her moan again and stumbled the few remaining yards that had separated them. She dropped to her knees beside Rachel and placed a hand gently to the girl's back. She worried her lower lip as she scanned what parts of Rachel she could see for any visible serious injuries.
"Rachel, are you able to move?"
Her hand ran soothingly across Rachel's back. She was relieved to see that the prone girl appeared to be breathing normally and that she didn't see any blood. "Rachel I'm going to help you roll over, okay?" Quinn placed one hand against Rachel's neck to stabilize her and then placing her other hand under Rachel's hip she slowly rolled the brunette onto her back. Another moan escaped her lips as she changed positions.
Quinn bit her lip to hold back the gasp that threatened to leave her mouth at the sight of blood trickling across Rachel's forehead. It was only when she reached to shrug her pack off in order to retrieve her first aid kit that she realized it was no longer attached to her. She raised her head and scanned the surrounding brush. "I'll be right back," she whispered to Rachel before she scrambled a few feet up the slope to retrieve her pack which had ended up tangled in the branches of a small evergreen. She hastily wiped the tears from her face before quickly making her way back to Rachel.
"I'm right here. Rachel, don't move." Quinn said as she gently pushed the girl back down to the ground as she struggled to rise. Quinn quickly opened her pack and pulled the red box from the bottom. Her hands shook slightly as she opened it and she tried to take a calming breath as her fingers deftly moved through the contents to find what she was looking for. She grabbed a couple alcohol wipes to start with and turned back toward the brunette.
Rachel's eyes were full of tears, her complexion was pale and her breath was coming in sharp gasps. "Rachel, sweetie, you need to calm down," Quinn whispered as she tried to comfort the hurt girl. Her fingers gently brushed the long brunette locks away from her face as she gently began cleaning the blood from Rachel's forehead with her other hand. "I'm going to take care of you Rachel. Everything's going to be okay. I know you're in pain. You have a little bit of a cut on your head and I'm going to take care of that first, okay. Then we're going to check the rest of you for injuries." Quinn swallowed hard. She was reassuring herself just as much as she was trying to reassure Rachel.
A small smile of relief played across her features as she realized that the cut to Rachel's head wasn't as large or serious as she had initially thought. It was right at her hairline which made it difficult to bandage, but once she was certain she'd cleaned the small wound thoroughly she worked a couple of small bandages together to properly cover the cut.
"Is it bad?" Rachel asked as Quinn gently finished dressing her wound.
Quinn smiled into the worried brown eyes below her. She felt the urge to tease the girl and play the injury up as being worse than it was, but she forced the urge down with a bite of the inside of her cheek and a smirk. "It's not bad." Quinn's fingers threaded softly through Rachel's hair and then cupped her cheek before taking a shaky breath. "Now that we've stopped the bleeding can you tell me where you hurt?"
Quinn chuckled. "Okay, let me restate. Where do you hurt the most?"
Rachel's tongue darted out as she wet her lips and Quinn could see the concentration on her face as she tried to determine which parts of her actually hurt worse. "Well, my head hurts, but that's most likely due to the wound you just dressed. Besides the aches I feel I think that my left ankle may be seriously injured."
"Okay. Do you want to try to sit up or do you want to lie here while I check out your ankle?"
"Could you help me sit up? I don't like the idea of lying on the ground with all the bugs."
With a smile Quinn reached forward and grabbed Rachel's shoulders as she helped the girl sit up. She wobbled slightly even though she wasn't standing and Quinn worried that she may have a concussion. She determined to keep a close eye on the brunette until she could rule it out. Once Rachel was stable Quinn moved down to her ankle and gently moved the leg of Rachel's blue jeans up to give herself access to the injured ankle. She knew it was bad as soon as she saw it. Rachel's ankle was already beginning to swell and when she gently ran her hand under Rachel's foot to test its mobility Rachel wasn't able to contain the hiss of pain or stop herself from flinching away from Quinn's touch.
Quinn worried her lip between her teeth as she tried to figure out what to do. She gently released Rachel's ankle and slowly stood. Her body ached and she knew that the next day would be even worse. She stretched slowly and twisted around as she checked for any possible injuries she hadn't found before. With her new height advantage she was able to see much more and for the first time since she'd stopped her tumble down the ravine she really took in their surroundings. The glint of the sun off of water caught her attention and she noticed there was a small creek flowing a few yards behind where they were currently resting. They were in a narrow ravine, perhaps a maximum of thirty yards in width. The opposite side from which they'd entered the ravine was a nearly straight rock wall with bits of hardy plants and bushes making their homes in the cracks between rocks. She looked back up the side they had come down and swallowed hard.
It was a miracle either of them were alive. For as far as her eye could see there were large trees growing up out of the steep incline. She guessed it was probably a seventy degree grade and mixed between the tree trunks that they had somehow avoided were large ferns and smaller trees and shrubs with rocks scattered around them. She saw Rachel's pack caught in a low hanging tree branch about halfway down the hill. With a creeping feeling of dread Quinn forced herself to look down at Rachel instead of their current surroundings.
She could see the fear mixed with pain in Rachel's eyes. Rachel was a city girl in every sense of the word. She'd never camped in her life. She didn't go hiking or fishing. She definitely had never been hunting. Her dream was the concrete jungle of New York City not the forests of Ohio. Quinn forced her own fears down as she gave Rachel a comforting smile.
"I see your pack up there. I'm going to climb up there and get it and at the same time I'm going to scout a way out of this ravine." She saw a surge of fear in the soft brown eyes and reached down to place a reassuring hand on Rachel's shoulder. "I'll be right back and if you turn and rest against this tree trunk you should be able to see me." She waited for the slight nod from Rachel before she started slowly picking her way up the steep hill, choosing her footing carefully because she didn't want to risk another fall. She stopped and turned when she heard her name. Rachel had dragged herself against the trunk of the tree as she had suggested and was now watching her intensely.
Quinn nodded and then turned her focus back to her current task. It had only taken a few seconds for them to end up in this situation, but it took Quinn nearly fifteen minutes just to reach Rachel's pack. She leaned against a tree trunk to catch her breath and closed her eyes as she tried to calm her racing heart. There was no way Rachel would be able to climb out of the ravine. Quinn wasn't even sure if she'd be able to climb out. She wasn't even halfway up the slope and she was exhausted, but she knew she had to try. If Rachel couldn't climb out on her own then at least Quinn could go for help and maybe Puck or Finn could carry her out. She considered grabbing the pack and going back down to let Rachel know what she was going to try to do, but the thought of having to make the climb she'd just made again convinced her the best idea right now was to press on.
She decided to leave Rachel's pack where it currently was and with a grunt pushed herself off the tree and continued her strenuous climb. Twenty minutes later with sweat dripping down her face and her chest heaving with exertion she reached the point that she and Rachel had fallen from. Quinn closed her eyes and leaned her head against a cool rock as she rested her exhausted body. Where the ridge began was a rock face approximately five feet up. Once again Quinn thanked God that they'd actually survived the fall.
Quinn reached up to try to find a finger hold in order to pull herself up but all she found was dirt and rocks that came loose as soon as she took hold. She worked her way along the edge grasping for anything sturdy enough to pull herself up until she finally was able to grab onto the base of some sort of bush. She gave it a few hard tugs to test and when it held she placed her foot up on a rock as if it were a ladder and used the branch like a rope to begin pulling herself up over the ridge of the ravine. Quinn almost had her hips pulled over the edge when she felt the root suddenly give way. "Oh shit," she whispered as she felt her body fall backward with the momentum of the loosening root and her foot slip from its place.
She was more aware this time as she plummeted back down the mountain. She could see the branches of trees whizzing by her and caught glimpses of blue sky with each occasional flip of her body. She was aware of Rachel frantically screaming her name and she tried to keep her limbs tucked in toward her body and to direct her fall, but the momentum was too much and she knew it was futile. Please just let me survive this, she thought as she felt a sharp pain in her back as she slammed against a small boulder. It caused her to slow her descent slightly and spun her around. In the next instant she felt a tremendous pain shoot across her shoulder and she cried out and then saw nothing.