A/N: I haven't had electricity for days, so I started writing this in the dark by candlelight...which explains the angst and the subject matter. Enjoy
"I made tea."
Quinn looked up from the bed, her hand resting on the top of Rachel's head. By the flickering light of the one candle in the room, Santana could see tears streaking her friend's face. She stepped forward to place a thermos in Quinn's hands. "Thanks," Quinn said softly. Santana's eyes trailed over to Rachel. "She's sleeping," Quinn said.
"How long as she been out?" Santana asked.
"About fifteen minutes." Quinn moved her hand slowly through Rachel's hair, watching her chest rise and fall. "She just doesn't look sick."
"I know," Santana said gently. "I know."
"They say that if they can still recognize you, that's how they can get better. If they just focus on remembering their world, they won't go to the other side."
"Has she said anything?"
"No but she..." Fresh tears came to Quinn's eyes and she struggled for a moment to keep them at bay. "No but earlier, her eyes followed me when I walked across the room. It was the first time. Usually she just stares at the wall, but it was the first time her eyes actually followed me."
"Are you...are you sure?" Santana asked apprehensively.
"Positive," Quinn said. She took a sip of her tea. "Was this the last tea bag we have?" she asked.
Santana nodded. "But we can get more. Probably."
"You shouldn't have wasted it on me," Quinn said. "It's Rachel's favorite. She'll want it when she gets better." She looked up at Santana pleadingly. "Promise you'll try to find some more? I really want her to have it."
"I—I promise," Santana said.
"Good." Quinn looked back down at Rachel, moving a finger to trace the soft skin of Rachel's cheek. "Look," she said suddenly, reaching a hand down to move some blankets off of Rachel's arm. Santana took the candle from the broken table next to the bed and moved it closer so she could see. "The bandages. They're leaking. I think the bite started bleeding again."
Santana looked at the blood-soaked bandages on Rachel's arm, and the small circle of crimson that had dripped onto the dirty mattress. "It's really not getting any better, is it?"
"It'll heal," Quinn said sharply. "I know it will. These things take time..."
"Of course," Santana said quickly. "Of course. We'll get new bandages for her."
"Thanks," Quinn said, her voice barely above a whisper. Her eyes trailed back towards Rachel's face and suddenly Santana had the uncomfortable feeling of intruding on something very intimate. She cleared her throat lightly.
"I'm going back out front," she said. "Tell me if she wakes up."
"I will," Quinn said, never taking her eyes off Rachel's face. Santana slipped quietly out of the room and breathed a sigh of relief.
She went through the gaping hole that had at one point been a front door, and out onto the stoop where Puck was standing, holding a cigarette between his fingers. "How is she?" he asked.
"Sleeping," Santana said. "And still catatonic when she wakes up."
"I meant Quinn."
"Oh." Santana exhaled slowly. "She's...alright. Sad."
"Yeah, can't blame her," Puck said. He took a drag and leaned his head back to look at the sky, blowing the smoke out slowly. "I loved her, you know."
"Yeah." Puck sighed. "I loved Quinn, too, but Rachel was...she was something else."
"Is," Santana corrected firmly. "She's not gone."
"She will be." Santana didn't answer, and Puck stared hard at her. "Santana," he said firmly. "She will be gone. It's only a matter of time."
Santana felt her throat constricting. "You said she looked good," she said with difficulty. "You said you've seen people with worse infections survive it."
"I would have said anything with Quinn in the room, you know that," Puck said. "But S, come on. You need to face facts. The disease has progressed pretty far, I don't think she can fight it off at this point. And she hasn't shown any improvement..."
"I'm not giving up hope," Santana said firmly.
"You can't keep waiting around," Puck said. "There were zombies casing me and Finn's camp yesterday night. We're leaving first thing tomorrow, and if you have any sense, you'll leave with us."
Santana shook her head. "We got lucky, finding this house. We're gonna stay."
"San, you don't even have a front door," Puck said in disbelief. "Sure, you've got a house instead of a tent, but what good is that gonna do you when there's twenty bloodthirsty monsters in your front yard? You have to be realistic."
"We can't move Rachel."
"Exactly." Puck sighed, running his fingers through his hair. Santana dropped down onto the step, bringing her knees to her chest. Puck sat down beside her and brought the cigarette to his lips once more.
"Where did you find that?"
"We raided a convenience store the other day," he said. "I nearly got my arm bitten off, but we did get a pack of Marlboros, and some water. God, the water." He shook his head. "I never even realized before, how much water I drink. Now it's like there's never enough."
"At least we have a car," Santana said. "So we can carry a lot of it, whenever we find it."
"Yeah, you girls did good for yourselves," Puck said. "You should join us again. It gets lonely with just me and Finn. We should all be together again, like we were at first."
"Hudson doesn't want us."
"Screw him, I want you," Puck said.
"And he would just weigh us down," Santana said. "We split up for a reason, remember? We gotta take care of ourselves."
"Yeah, but we had more people back then, we had to break off so we wouldn't attract attention," Puck pointed out, his voice growing soft. "We had Sam...and Mike and Tina."
Santana should have felt numb at the mention of her former friends. She'd suffered so many losses at this point that she simply didn't have the energy to cry over all of them. But when Puck mentioned Sam, Santana felt her stomach clench. "At least Mike and Tina probably got away," she said quietly, trying not to think about Sam. Witnessing his death had been bad enough, and she didn't want to remember it if she didn't have to.
Puck shook his head. "I don't think they did."
"They're probably halfway to the ocean by now—"
"No," Puck interrupted. "They're not. There's just...they would have come back to us if they could."
"Maybe they thought they'd be faster on their own."
Puck looked at Santana pityingly. "I'm sorry," he said. "I just don't think they're alive."
Santana looked at the ground, forcing herself not to feel sad. "I wish you wouldn't do that Puck," she said. "Is it really so bad, to imagine that they got away?"
"Yes," Puck said. "You've gotta face reality Lopez. There's just no time to fuck around. I thought you knew that, you used to be such a realist before."
"I guess I changed," Santana said, toeing the ground.
"I guess you did." Puck took another long drag and blew smoky circles into the dark night air. "You'll have to decide who's gonna do it," he said.
"Kill her." Puck looked at Santana, his eyes big and dark. "When the disease progresses, she'll start trying to bite everyone in sight. It's best to do it before she gets that bad."
"Rachel's not gone yet," Santana said.
"I know," Puck said. "But the longer you wait, the harder it'll get. You just...you have to decide who's gonna do it."
Santana looked up at the stars, breathing deeply. She had never looked at the stars before they'd gone on the run, but now she looked at them almost every night, and their pattern had become familiar to her. It was the one thing that was unchanging, the one thing that looked the same no matter which broken down house they were living in or which supermarket or gas station they were searching through. The world she knew—her parents, her friends, everything—was up there, in the stars. Sometimes she thought she could see it all, if she squinted hard enough. But right now, her mind wouldn't let her escape to her fantasyland, not with so many things to be done and Rachel in such a dire condition. "Won't Finn wonder where you've gone?" she asked finally.
"I can stay a little longer," Puck said. In the distance, the low rumble of a car engine became audible, and Santana looked around to search for the headlights. The distinct headlights were the key—until she saw them, she couldn't relax. Puck looked a little alarmed too as he searched for the sound of the noise.
"She must be coming from behind that row of houses," Santana said. "I can't see her."
"It is her, though, right?" Puck asked nervously.
"I don't think zombies can drive," Santana reasoned. "Stiff arms and no brains and all that."
"Sure, but zombies aren't the only thing to fear," Puck said. "It could be thugs." Santana's heart began to beat quickly as she listened carefully to the engine noise growing ever louder. A sound of drum beats was mixed in, and as the noise became more audible, Santana sighed in relief. "It's her," she said. "I can hear her music."
"Music?" Puck asked. Headlights suddenly appeared about a hundred yards away, and Santana saw the familiar shape of their car. Suddenly, Puck laughed. "Is she listening to Eminem?"
"It was the only CD in there," Santana said. "And tracks three and seven don't even work. But she loves it."
Puck shook his head in disbelief as the car came closer and the music blared from the speakers. "She'll wake up whoever's left in this place, making noise like that."
"I know," Santana said, biting back a smile. "But she gets all sad when I tell her to turn it down."
The car barreled over the remains of the neighbor's lawn and pulled up in front of the house. Then the engine turned off, and without the blaring headlights Santana could see through the front window of their jeep to the driver behind the windshield. She stood up as Brittany jumped out of the car and walked over, a triumphant grin on her face. She wrapped Santana in her arms and said, "Amazing haul today, you wouldn't believe it."
"You got water?" Santana asked, reaching up to Brittany's face and wiping off some stray dirt. Brittany nodded enthusiastically.
"I got water, gas, batteries, food, and a blanket," she said. "And then I dug through this suspicious looking pile of dirt and found a couple of tools and some medicine. It looks like whoever was camping over there finally bit the dust." She smirked. "I'm going back at dawn to see what else I can find. I couldn't use a flashlight, the place was crawling." She looked past Santana's shoulder towards the porch. "Hey Puck."
"Hey Britt," he said. "You're looking good. What's that on your arm?"
"Oh, this?" Brittany lifted her forearm to reveal a bloody gash trailing down her skin. "This is nothing, you should see the other guy. Zombie was trying to get in the car and I stabbed him."
"Shit," Santana said. "Britt, you shouldn't go out alone anymore. How many of them were out there?"
"Twenty or so, but they didn't see me," Brittany said. "If that one guy hadn't been near the car, they wouldn't have noticed me at all. I think they thought I was one of them."
"Even so," Santana said worriedly. "Next time, we should try to stick together."
"Yeah, well, you were helping Rachel," Brittany said. "How is she, by the way? Is that why you're here?" she asked Puck.
Puck nodded. "Had to see her," he said. "And she's..."
"It's not looking too good," Santana said honestly. "But she's alright for now. Quinn's with her."
"'Kay," Brittany said with a nod. "Good. We can wrap her in the new blanket when we have to move her tomorrow."
Puck stood up. "I was just telling Santana that maybe-"
"Puck," Santana said warningly, and Puck fell silent. Brittany looked between the two of them curiously.
"Nothing, baby," Santana said. "You should go tell Quinn what you got. She'll be thrilled."
"Alright," Brittany said, letting go of Santana's waist and heading for the house. When she was inside, Santana turned to Puck.
"Don't worry her," Santana said. "She doesn't need that."
"I dunno," Puck said, looking into the dark house that Brittany had just disappeared into. "Seems like she's pretty tough."
"Physically, maybe, but not emotionally," Santana said. She lowered her voice. "I hear her crying sometimes. At night, when she thinks everyone is asleep."
"Crying about what?"
Santana shrugged. "Everything. People lost, I guess." Santana swallowed hard. "She's such a—she's such a kindhearted person."
"Yeah," Puck agreed quietly.
"I know I'll have to be the one to...to do it to Rachel," Santana said. "Britt and Quinn aren't gonna be able to handle it."
"I'll be with you," Puck said quickly. "I'll help you. I've had to do it before."
Santana shook her head. "No. Don't waste time. You guys need to get out tomorrow morning."
"So do you."
"We might be able to stick it out one more day," Santana said. "If we lay low during the daylight hours."
"I dunno, S," Puck said. "It's risky."
"It's worth it." She paused for a moment, and then said, "Quinn's going to be devastated."
"I know," Puck said. "I can tell. The way she looks at her, it's like Rach is her whole world or something." He looked up at Santana. "Are they...?"
"I'm not sure," Santana said. "Probably. Sometimes Britt and I will be talking and they'll just...disappear. And then they come back and won't say where they've been."
"Wow," Puck said, shaking his head back and forth. "I mean, I could see it coming from a mile away but...wow. Back before this all happened, who would have thought?"
"Zombie apocalypse does things to people."
"Clearly," Puck said. He looked off into the distance and Santana could tell he was thinking the same thing she was. Both of them had gone through a lot of losses, but the pain of losing your other half was something else entirely. Santana couldn't imagine what she would do if anything happened to Brittany. Just the thought of her girlfriend fighting a zombie off their car was enough to make her feel sick to her stomach. Santana wasn't sure if Quinn would be able to survive the anguish.
"Maybe we should join up."
Puck looked at Santana, a smile creeping slowly across his face. "You serious?" he asked.
Santana nodded. "I hate Hudson but...it's what Rachel would have wanted. And Quinn and Brittany will feel safer." She shrugged. "Three is a bad number to have. We need more than that."
Puck reached forward unexpectedly and pulled Santana into a hug. "Thanks," he said in a strangled voice. "Just...thanks." He pulled away and quickly wiped a tear from his eye, but not before Santana noticed it. She laughed shakily and Puck began to laugh too.
"Just so you know, though, I'll be expecting you to do a lot of work," she warned. "Britt needs bodyguards."
"Eff that, we'll go out and get the stuff ourselves," Puck promised. "We'll take care of you guys, Finn will love a chance to prove his manliness."
Santana shook her head. "You'll want Brittany," she said. "That girl's got a knack for finding things. I'm not sure how she does it."
"Alright," Puck said. "I'll take care of her." He stood up, brushing dirt from his worn jeans. "Let's go tell them."
Santana stood up and led the way into the house, through the drafty living room and into the bedroom where they were keeping Rachel. Brittany was sitting on the bed with an arm around Quinn, who was watching Rachel as tears streamed down her face. When she saw Puck and Santana come in, she quickly wiped her eyes. "Hey," she said in a broken voice.
"Hey, guess what?" Puck said. "Finn and I are gonna be joining you when we go to our next location."
Brittany's mouth fell open and she stood up, clapping her hands together. "Yay!" she said. "More people!" She went between Puck and Santana and threw an arm around each of their shoulders. "It's like the glee club is back together again. Well, mostly."
"Mostly," Santana echoed. She looked over at Quinn, expecting to see some sort of relief on her face, only to see that Quinn was glaring at the three of them.
"What does this mean?" she asked in a low voice. "Santana, we only have room for five in the jeep."
"We can double buckle," Brittany said. "No cops, remember?"
"Quinn..." Santana began hesitantly.
"No." Quinn shook her head back and forth quickly. "No, we're not leaving her, no. I won't do it."
"We won't just leave her here," Puck said quietly. "We'll make sure that she's in a good place."
"No." Quinn's eyes began to fill with tears again.
"We'll give her a proper burial-"
"No!" Quinn's entire body shook with sobs. "No, we can't! We can't just give up! Santana, you promised me you wouldn't give up!"
"I'm not," Santana said helplessly, looking over at Brittany. Brittany slid her arm off of Santana, letting it fall limply to her side. She looked shocked.
"I love her," Quinn choked. "I can't live without her. I can't."
"Quinn." Puck stepped forward and reached out to her, but she pushed his hand away. "Quinn, you'll still have us. We're going to keep you safe."
"I don't care!" Quinn shouted. "I don't care, all I care about it that she gets better!" The noise echoed off the walls of the room and Rachel began to stir. "How can you all sit there so selfishly? Rachel's been with us since this mess started. We're not going to just sit her and let her die! What the hell is wrong with you people?"
"Quinn-" Santana began.
"You would never leave Brittany!" Quinn said. "If this were her, you'd be doing whatever it takes to get her back, you wouldn't be planning to leave tomorrow, or joining up with other people to replace her, you'd be helping her."
"Quinn, we have to get out of here!" Santana said, tears beginning to form in her own eyes. "It's not a choice, I'd love to stay here too, but this house will be swarmed by tomorrow night and we need to be as far away as possible."
"I don't give a fuck if a thousand zombies come in here!" Quinn said. "I'm staying with her, that's final."
"What?" Quinn snapped. She turned to Brittany. "What do you want?"
"I didn't—I didn't say anything," Brittany said nervously.
"Quinn." Quinn looked over to the bed, towards the source of the noise, her mouth falling open in shock. Rachel was sitting up, staring blankly forward. "Quinn," she said again.
There was a moment of silence as everyone stared at Rachel in shock. Then Quinn sprung into action, reaching forward and placing a hand on each of Rachel's cheeks. "Rach!" she said desperately. "Rach. Are you okay?"
"Quinn," Rachel repeated.
"Oh my God," Quinn moaned. "Rachel. Say something, please!"
"My God..." Santana breathed. "She remembers..." Brittany rushed over to the bed and sat down next to Quinn, looking at Rachel.
"Her eyes," Brittany said. "They're not as gray anymore. There's some brown there."
"Rachel," Quinn said, collapsing against the other girl's chest and weeping. "Oh Rachel. I love you so much."
Rachel lifted her uninjured arm to Quinn's hair and cradled her head, still gazing at the wall. "Quinn..." she said softly, and tears sprang to Santana's eyes. Brittany looked up at Santana excitedly.
"She's gonna get better," she said. "She needs to come with us. We can heal her."
"Never forget me, promise?" Quinn sobbed. Rachel's head moved unmistakably up and down, and Quinn began to cry harder. Puck put a hand to his heart.
"It's like our very own romantic movie," he said. Santana smacked his arm playfully and wiped at her watery eyes.
"Britt," she said. "Let's change her bandages. And Puck, go back and tell Finn. We're leaving first thing in the morning."
"Okay," Puck said. "I'll see you ladies tomorrow." He looked over at Rachel, tenderness clouding his eyes. "Take care of her."
"We will," Santana promised. "Honestly, the only thing that can hurt her now is if Quinn smothers her."
"I can't believe you guys doubted her," Quinn said, still crying with relief. "I knew she could do it...she's so strong." Brittany came back with fresh bandages and Quinn took them from her. "I'll do it!" she said. Brittany shrugged and moved towards Santana.
"Maybe we should leave them alone..."
"Please," Santana said. Brittany went out of the room and Santana followed, looking back at Rachel one last time. She was watching as Quinn began to gently remove her bandages, and Santana could see a life in her eyes that hadn't been there before. She joined Brittany in the living room, feeling lighter than she had in days.
"I'm so glad Rach is going to be okay," Brittany said. "I'd feel so sad without her."
"I'm glad too," Santana said, pulling Brittany into her arms. The two of them stood there for a long time, holding each other tightly. Tomorrow, they'd be working all day to find a new base camp, but for now, everything was okay. "Quinn was right, you know," she said quietly. "If you got bitten, I'd never leave you. I'd want you to bite me so we could become zombies together."
"Zombies forever." Brittany pulled away from Santana and reached down, linking their pinkies together. "I like that." But then she frowned. "Could Quinn and Rachel come too?"
"Of course," Santana said.
Brittany grinned. "Good. I like them."
Santana smiled as the sound of Quinn's relieved sobs came from the bedroom, along with Rachel's voice repeating her name over and over. "Yeah," Santana said. "I like them too."