''I've been thinking about this… ever since the first bucket of water I'd consumed.'' He pauses, exhaling a deep breath. ''And then what happened to Puck… those flames… it's not ordinary, you know. It was fucked up…''
She whispers, softly; ''Sam…''
He never hears as he closes his eyes. ''But think about it… it all happened after the meteorite crash… Who's to say he's the only one… changing?''
''Dude, don't be stupid!'' Noah shouts, standing at the left side of her. He balls up his fists, his feet softly shuffling forward. Scrunching the stones of the concrete. He's looking at Sam's figure, the Blonde's body arched as he stares over the sea. Has never looked more serene. ''Do you want to commit suicide? Do you want to leave your loved ones behind?'' Noah vehemently shakes his head. ''You know that this shit ain't the way to cope with our problems.''
''I always picked you for a hard-core kind of guy, like, you'd totally kill yourself in the name of Avatar.'' Santana pitches in. ''But this – this even goes above all of your fantastic-four standards.'' Santana's hand raises, her index finger pointing at his back. ''Don't do anything stupid and just step away from the cliff, Fish lips… please.''
He laughs haughtily instead. His arms rising at his sides as if he's taking in the cool wind. Summoning something up larger than their knowledge. ''Guys… can you hear it?''
Rachel shakes her head. He's insane. He's gone completely ballistic. And if she doesn't do anything to get him away from that awful looking edge, his insanity might get the best of him. ''We don't hear anything, Sam!'' She exclaims, taking a step closer, a miniature daring step. ''Don't be stupid.'' She inhales this breath that puffs her chest up and clenches her heart painfully. Scoring her throat. ''Don't do it!''
The wind blows her hair to the side, swiping it over her right shoulder.
''I can hear the waves sing. Do you hear it too?'' He mutters.
What happens next is a vague vision. An image attached to a rolling film.
His feet gently lose power, his tippy toes tipping him over the edge and as he falls head over heels for the sea beneath the cliff, Santana's deafening scream of his name zooms in on her ears.
(It's not a choice. It never was. It's not a decision. How could it? It's a spontaneous reaction. As she screams his name right along with her peer.)
Two days ago.
Noah doesn't move an inch from his seat on his couch. Holding in his hands the cup of tea that she has made for him.
Rachel's made herself at home in the Puckerman household, his mother has told her several times before to do so. He's twirling the cup in his hands, the tea satchel lying soaked on the coffee table. It's an unsanitary habit. But she can't bring herself to comment on his behavior. It's not the right moment, anyway.
His shoulders are tense, she notes. And his eyes are focused solely on the wall ahead of him, engraving the familiar spot into his mind.
She hovers somewhere next to the couch, fumbling with the ends of her sleeves. It's as if she lost the will to think altogether. Make sense out of something that is way above her league. This puzzle piece doesn't fit in her puzzle. It shouldn't be here. And she's lost to figure out where it really belongs. How can she help someone when she can't even figure out what is going on with herself? She's not whole and here she is, intending to fix someone that isn't whole either.
Sam's the first one to speak up. ''Are you… are you like, going to explain… Or?'' He bites his lip. Awkwardly motioning a hand to Noah as the mohawked boy at the same time looks up into Sam's marvelous eyes. Sam moves up and down on his toes. ''You know.'' The look Noah's shooting Sam implies that he doesn't know. He resolves into making his words a bit clearer. ''What happened out there, dude?''
Rachel wants to know the same thing.
''You think I know? Like what…'' He scrunches his nose, frowning. ''You think I know what the fuck is happening to me?'' He exclaims, jutting an eyebrow up. ''If I knew I wouldn't be fucking sitting on my damn sofa drinking tea. For fucks sakes, I at least need something stronger.'' He spits it out, word for word. He can't even bring his self to look at her and catch her reaction. She knows that feeling. ''I – I don't… I don't know. I fucking want to… But I just don't know… I can't… I can't make sense of this!''
Noah's needy for an answer. Blindly grasping at those straws that lay before him. But every time he picks one up, expecting that this will reveal him the truth, it doesn't seem to fit his situation. And it's quite sad seeing him reach for things that won't bring him any further.
She bites her lip, intending to drill his feelings out. ''How do you feel?'' An ice-breaker, she guesses.
He shrugs, leaning back against his couch with the tea still in his hands. She's just set that tea; it's incandescent hot. That Noah's able to hold it without burning his hands just states how out of the ordinary this situation actually is.
She wonders if they need professional help. Perhaps go to the police and hope to find a savior there.
''I feel… I don't know how I feel.'' He starts to move his tea to his lips. She eyes him drinking it without blowing the heat, swallowing the tea down. ''It felt strange – not a good strange… not a bad strange. Just really freaky… Like the first bungee jump, you know? The thrilling excitement, the fear, but then there's that feeling. That good feeling. The feeling that's just... right. That things are exactly as they should be. You guys probably won't understand… but it was…'' He straightens his back, staring ahead. ''…Uplifting and frightening, at once…''
She understands. She thinks she understands.
''And when the fire just… rushed throughmy body.'' He frowns, almost confused. ''I was – it was – it didn't hurt, you know. I was just pissed off scared. I mean, a stud like me shouldn't die combusting. Figures fear'll come rolling by.'' She rolls her eyes. Slightly amused. ''But then it looked like – looking death in the eyes.'' Her eyes follow his face, as he slowly shakes his head. ''I have to live to see it all. I want to live to see it all.'' He clenches his jaw and the silence that overtakes them is nauseating painful. He moves his head up to cast his audience a fast glance. ''It wasn't like it was trying to kill me or something. It wasn't after that… It felt like it was speaking to me… calling me to… to… understand it, befriend it… become it.''
It's an odd analyze. But the faint sparkle in his hazel eyes seem like he's explaining it from the heart. And that is something that she would never understand.
''Do you guys think that maybe, like a far out maybe, this could have something to do with those screwed up monsters?'' Sam wonders out loud. She resolves into shrugging out a maybe as Noah falls back into his silent demeanor. She feels like he's thinking back at the moment, trying to make better sense out of it. Sam licks his lips, his teeth lingering in his bottom lip. ''I'm starting to think that the meteorite did this to you.'' He looks at Noah. ''To all of us.'' His sight falls on her – meaning her dreams, those persistent dreams that seem to explain the future. ''Maybe to everyone. Maybe it made something out of us… something that we can't simply explain. Like… something supernatural.''
She can't believe that without cold hard facts. There is indeed something going on with them, but if the meteorite is the cause of this... that is yet to be investigated. ''We don't know that for sure.'' She tells him. ''It could be only Noah suffering these alleged supernatural powers… For all we know something else could be the cause of this.''
''Then how do you explain those monsters.'' Sam states. ''You can't tell me that there's nothing supernatural about that… They obviously needed something from Quinn… who knows, maybe she's like Puck.''
In a fit of pressure she raises her hands, shooting back. ''We don't know that! And we can't make these accusations if we don't have cold hard facts!''
But Sam snorts, as if he has already made up his mind. And when he looks at her with this uneasy glint in his eyes, her face oozes, her hands travel back to their sides, as she starts to fear the worse.
If only she knew what was hidden in that mind of his, behind those innocent green eyes.
Suddenly a phone starts beeping. They slowly move their heads to the source of the sound, right in time to see Puck move over to fetch his phone out of his scalded jeans.
'''S Puck.'' He mutters in greeting. He nods a few times, a dint forming in his forehead, as his hands clench around the cup. ''What? What. Calm… calm down! Calm the fuck down Satan! Don't worry, yeah… yeah.'' He nods frequently. ''I'll be there. Just wait… I said I'll be there!''
He shuts the phone, a frown at place as he stands up with the tea cup in his grasp. Small smokes emerging from the liquid.
He looks uneasy, his tongue barely able to emit the sentence. ''We need to head up to the hospital.''
(The look on his face scares her.)
A crying Santana is all kinds of wrong.
It's the sign that Jupiter hit Mars, that the stars fled to solid ground, that sunshine became rain and rain became snow. It's the sign of the apocalypse. But more importantly; it's finally downed upon their world that something has hurt the indisputable girl. Something has irked its way through layers of barrier, crawled beneath rows of fences and crossed a path full obstacles, finding at the end of it all a beating heart owned by the undisputable Santana Lopez. And then it touched the nectar of heart, inflicting pain. Ensuring pain.
Santana slowly walks up to Noah the moment he strolls out of the door, her feet gradually speeding up until she's running. Her legs taking her as far as they can. When she finally hits his chest, he momentarily flinches. His hands are pressed tightly against his sides as Santana's manicured nails dig into his back, holding him as close as their bodies let them. The ironed shirt wrinkles underneath her hands, turn into balls of clothing in her fists.
He can't touch her – if anything, he fears to touch her.
''They said it's serious!'' She sobs against his chest. He looks pained; he's obviously not used to crying girls. ''They said –'' a sob breaks out of her throat, her nails digging deeper into his back. Santana's hug seems to leave Noah in physical pain. ''They said that she needs an operation…''
There's only one she that Santana would ever cry about.
(And then it hits her. As if the impact has enough ammunition to destroy her.)
''Brittany?'' Rachel mutters under her breath. Sam seems to think the same thing, because his eyes start to shimmer, his chin shivering as he frowns sadly. ''No…'' She breathes out.
This can't happen. Not Brittany. God no. Not her.
Santana whips her head up, her bloodshot eyes and strained mascara tainting her cheeks. She frowns. ''What the hell are they doing here?'' She barks out, pushing herself off Puck. ''I told you to come – not bring them with you.''
''We just… wanted to help.'' Rachel's voice is tiny. She's not façade of the glare Santana shoots her way. Not at this moment, at least. She's too tangled up with the thought of everything that is currently bitting through her skin. ''I'm so sorry Santana.''
With each step that Santana takes the glare seems to falter. She can't even see how weak she's getting while nearing Rachel. She can't even feel the way her knees seem to tremble with each coming step. Gaining closer is all that she wants to do, voice her wrath up-close – but even that seems to take a lot out of her.
Rachel has to contain herself from crying, because right now there's somebody else that needs to let it out. There somebody else right in front of her that is damaged. Rachel's pain just simply has to wait and her arms gradually have to open. ''I'm so sorry, Santana.'' She feels like she could've stopped it that the smallest detail could've stopped everything.
(What if prevention was right ahead of her but she was too blinded by the figure of Finn?)
This time Santana completely halts.
When Santana knees cave in, her tears pleading against the numbing pain, Rachel finally releases a few tears of her own. Their cries in a soothing harmony, yet so astray.
It's like re-runs of Puck on his couch looking defeated, only this time Puck's replaced with Santana and there's no cup of tea in her hands, no angry facial expression, no couch. She's just utterly heartbroken, completely destroyed. Just like him. Sam's touching her – the only one who dares to move a finger. Noah can't, he fears that he's going to set the Latina in fire. Rachel won't, she doesn't want to move into an alternative universe of their future again.
They're all just a bunch of scared little kids in a complicated world.
''I can't lose her.'' Santana cries, shaking her head. Her eyes detain the white wall before her, never moving her sight even when a person passes her by. ''Not her.''
''You won't.'' Sam helpfully pitches in. He rubs his hand up and down her back as she sobs and sniffs her nose. ''Brittany's strong.''
Santana pouts. ''I know she is. I know she'll make it.'' She presses her lips together, frowning sadly. ''I trust that she'll make it… she won't leave me.'' She sniffs again, shaking her head. ''But she might… but they said that she might never dance again. And that will kill her.'' They're like that. They love each other so much that their significant other's pain – becomes their pain.
''How big is the chance?'' Noah asks her from his seat at Santana's right side.
She sniffs, louder, noisier. ''Forty percent.''
''Than you have to believe in the sixty percent.'' Rachel pipes up. ''At least it's a bigger chance that she'll make it unscratched out of the operation.''
She refuses to respond as she changes the subject. ''What are you guys doing together anyway?'' She wipes her nose, directing the question to Noah. ''You know I love me some trio sex stories but I would've never guessed that two guys and one girl was your cup of tea.''
''The fuck Santana!''
''What… No!'' Sam shakes his head, flabbergast. ''It's not; it's not like that…'' He points to his self. ''I'm not –''
''I'll have you know that though I don't condole such actions, means that I actually prefect them!'' Rachel bites out.
Santana holds her hands up in mock-surrender. ''I'm just asking, no need to throw in a fit.'' She retorts truthfully, yet a playful smile lingers on her lips. ''So how 'bout it? What's going on – 'cause there has to be something going on if Puck's willing to hang out with Berry and Trouty mouth at the same time.''
''Who says we've been hanging out?'' Noah begins defensively. ''We could've seen each other on the road.''
Santana shakes her head determined. ''Nah, that can't be. So you just happened to see them on your way to the hospital? Please, Puck. I'm not stupid. And besides, you look fucked up – have I already told you how fucked up you look? No? 'Cus you do. Shit man, I dunno what the crash has done to you, but you need sleep. And fast.'' She eyes him up and down, making a disproval sound as she eyes his clothing. ''What'd you do? Jumped into your hearth? Had a death wish? Made deal with the devil and he came to collect your sorry ass and drag you back to the flames of hell?''
''Shit… What the hell do you think I do in my free time?''
''Honestly, I don't know Puck and I don't wanna know.'' Santana is honest to God waiting for them to answer her questions. ''So?''
She looks at the boys, both giving her the approval nod.
It's funny. Santana and secrets. But, yeah.
''Something is going on…'' Rachel purses her lips. ''Something really, really weird.''
Perhaps the Latina has some weird symptoms too; perhaps she knows how to cope with this. Has a faraway relative that's specialized in these cases. Santana could help them out.
Santana frowns when she looks at her, clicking her tongue. ''Okay…''
''So wait, wait.'' Santana leans down with her hands on her knees, curiously looking around. ''Le' me get this straight.'' She sits up right, crossing her arms over her chest. Rachel's been explaining the story for over ten minutes now and Santana had never made any motion to interfere her, never even shoved her the most common look that Rachel has received in her life; 'yup, it's true, you crazy'. Instead the Latina stayed calm and nodding ever so often.
But now, after her explanation, she finally utters her thoughts.
''Puck over there.'' Santana thrusts a thumb behind her shoulder. ''Can combust –''
''Not combust… I just, like… yeah. The flames and I are tight.''
''Okay…'' Santana mutters. ''And you,'' she just her chin to Rachel. ''See the future… and Quinn's not actually dead that's just a sick lie that all of you made up… 'cause you three, including Franketeen saw the bitch get taking away by monsters. No joke. Actual, living, freaking, creepy… monsters…'' Rachel nods (calling Quinn a bitch is frankly inappropriate right now, though). ''And Sammy, he's got – what? Nothing?''
''Nothing that we know of.'' Rachel corrects.
''You never said that you saw the future.'' Noah shoots her and ridiculed look, cocking his eyebrow up. ''You saw them fuckers take Quinn?''
Of course she said nothing, would he have believed her if she did? Heck, she didn't even believe herself for a few days straight.
She opens her mouth to explain herself but Santana cuts in.
''I'm not done yet, Puckerman. You can bitch later.'' She turns to face him, narrowing her eyes, which he returns gladly. ''Whatever. Anyways.'' Santana turns back around, pursing her lips. ''So all in all, you guys think the meteorite fucked you up?''
''We don't really think so.'' Rachel says. ''But it's a... possibility.''
''Aha. This is more drama than an episode of The O.C.. And believe me when I say that that show's packing.''
Santana doesn't believe them. Whatever, though. ''Look, we don't need you to believe us!'' Rachel exclaims. ''What's of importance now is finding out where Quinn is. The rest will eventually fall into place.''
It doesn't surprise her that Santana doesn't believe them. She didn't believe it for quite some time either.
''Who said that I didn't believe your shit?'' Okay, that really is a shocker. She seemed disbelieving. ''I mean.'' Santana shrugs. ''It's insane, like really insane. Mentally insane. Like shit, I know this really good psychiatrist that mi padre could hook you up with.'' She purses her lips to Rachel's solidified gasp. ''But I've heard a lot of insane things and this doesn't even cut it.''
Rachel scrunches up her nose. What kind of insane things? Does she even want to know?
Sam looks confused. ''So, you'll, like, help us?'' He sounds scared for even asking this.
(Rachel can't blame him; Santana can be really abrasive if she wants to.)
''Yeah, why not –'' she shrugs. ''I've got nothing else to do. Sides, it'll…'' She sighs. ''It'll keep my mind of Brittany for a while.'' She shrugs. ''Anything to kill of time, right?''
Santana wants to help them. Okay, granted, she's only doing it because she has nothing else to do. But it's nice, nonetheless.
''Do you know what we're about to do, guys?'' Rachel asks while eyeing all of them. And this is it. Their little group has expanded to four. ''It's abnormal. We're like… about to solve a mystery.''
''Whatever.'' Noah rolls his eyes, standing up and cracking his back. ''Let's quite this sissy ass moment, because fuck it if this doesn't feel like we're about to put out hands together and go all 'one for all and all for one'…'' He snorts. ''Just know Berry… we're in it to figure out what happened to Q and what the hell is happening to us. Nothin' more. No superhero shit. Just a little arrangement 'till everything goes back to normal.''
Rachel glares at him. What would've been a beautiful touching moment has been destroyed by Noah's crude remark. However, this is not something new. Perhaps they are moving towards the right direction of become their old selves again. Extraordinary circumstances not with counted, of course.
They've been searching for information for two days straight. Sitting here in her house with Noah and Santana and five thick books scattered around the living room floor, is no exception.
She receives the call at six pm.
Noah and Santana are discussing the kind of powers everyone could have received from the meteorite and Santana's shutting all his suggestions down with (il)logical retorts, which infuriates him – he was never fond of losing. Not the kind of boy that admitted defeat. Rachel's come to notice that whenever Noah rages he'll turn red in his face and if what had happened two days ago is any indication, they shouldn't infuriate him if they value their lives.
(She's still intending to take Broadway by storm. Keeping Noah happy is so to speak a requirement.)
She stands up the moment her phone beeps – glad to be away from the bickering two students in her living room.
When she sees Sam's number flash across her screen she expects him to tell her that he's arriving a little later to their meeting. But as she clicks the green button and takes the phone to her ear, he tells her otherwise.
''Where are you?'' She asks him, moving away from the noises leaving her living room. They can be loud when they want to and if what Noah has told her is true, Santana's a screamer. ''I need you, I'm fearing Santana's wrath and Noah seems to be getting angrier every second… I have no intention, whatsoever, to cremate!'' She giggles to show him that she's not that angry about him running late. ''When will you be here?''
She hears a gushing sound at the background. She frowns against her phone, wondering where he exactly is. ''You need to come… bring Puck and Santana.''
''What? What are you talking about?'' She waits for him to clarify, but he has no intention of doing so. ''Where are you?''
'''Portal Sea'.'' Portal Sea? What is he doing there? Doesn't that exist of only water?
''Why are you –''
''You need to come over.'' He sounds giddy, out of breath. As if he's climbing something. ''I need to show you something.''
Her heart skips a beat. It's not a good feeling – more of fearsome bite against her chest.
''Sam –'' She hears the beep from the other line, meaning that he's just disconnected her. She holds the phone from her ears, staring ridiculed at it.
It's one thing to be late, but disconnecting her on the phone while she's still talking… well, that's just rude.
The frown deepens on her face when she re-thinks their conversation; the gushing sound at the background, his out of breath words. His need show her something.
She puts the phone in her pocket, turning around with her tongue stuck out, hovering at the tip of her upper lip. Santana's the first one to see her indecisive demeanor.
''What's with you?''
When she shrugs, stepping closer, this feeling in her pit builds up. It claws at the inside of her chest and twirls her stomach clockwise. ''Something's about to happen.'' She mutters loud enough for them to hear.
Her living room falls silent right after her hunch. And for the first time in the two hours that they've been here, no one utters a sound.
The sound of silence had never been more fearsome, than today. Right here. Right now.
She loses it.
Rachel Berry; loses it.
During his jump several emotions shoot throughout her body; fear, pain, betrayal, anger. But the thought that springs out the most through those jumbled up emotions; he's going to leave her. He's going to run up, and go, and die and leave her like everyone else has. Like Finn, her mother, even in some way Quinn, like her fathers. And eventually, all of them leave.
He's going to leave her if he hasn't left already.
(He has left, damnit, he has.)
She can't, she just can't lose anyone else. It's too much for her heart; it's too much for her to bear. It's enough to break her… shatter her. If it hasn't broken her already. If she hasn't been shattered already. Sam can't leave her. Not like this. Not without goodbye. She deserves more than that.
More than this. Better than his lackluster farewell.
She runs after him.
All clear thoughts thrown on the floor; 'don't do it' 'you're going to kill yourself, too' 'let him commit suicide alone', as she runs up to the edge where he has just discarded his self and jumps. The air is cold as it clamps to her skin, hitting her face as she swiftly falls to the sea. The sounds of Santana's and Noah's voices calling her become more faded as time slows down.
Then water hits her skin.
It's cold. So achingly cold. It takes little bites out of her flesh, pulling her down with it lavation. Her feet move slowly, her hands pushing her upwards to the surface. But the waves are strong, the water is strong and it slaps her hard in the face. Yet she refuses to let it overpower her as she musters the strength to swim up to the surface – it's not much strength, but it's enough. Rachel exhales a large breath when she hits the sky, couching irrevocably as her nose relishes into the feel of air.
Just breathe… calmly breathe.
She's coughing up water, blinking rapidly to relieve her misty eyes.
As her sight slowly becomes clearer, Rachel doesn't waste any time to freestyle forward.
''Sam!'' She exclaims, using her feet to keep her afloat. ''Answer me!'' She spits the water out that reluctantly forces its way into her mouth.
She feels herself sink, but the need to find him is much stronger than the need to give up. She doesn't know how long she can manage to keep this pattern up, though. Swim and cry out. Hope and wish at the same time. But for now, this just has to do.
''Rachel, are you crazy!'' Noah shouts from the cliff. He's got his hands curled up around his mouth. ''What the hell do you think you're doing!'' He forces his hands down. Shaking his head as he mutters; ''fuck it.''
He has a dark glint in his eyes.
''Don't you dare go down, Puck.'' Santana tells him as she sees him willingly hold the end of his shirt. ''You don't know what could happen – for all we know you can desiccate the whole fucking sea and kill them. We don't know the volume of your powers. Don't test it out now.''
He gives her a pointedly look. He doesn't want to leave his friends hanging, but he does see the truth in Santana's statement. ''Fine.'' He steps away from the cliff, giving up without ever having tried. He bites his lip, venomously pulling his hands through his Mohawk. Tugging at the ends. ''Shit… It sucks feeling so helpless.''
Santana anxiously, staring at the sea, nods in agreement.
Rachel thrusts her hands forward, screaming his name continuously. She pauses ever so small, waiting to hear his voice. Or any sign that could indicate his existence. But as she hears nothing, she proceeds to pick up the same pattern.
She screams. But he never answers.
She cries, the echoes that revolt are only hers.
What if he has sunken?
Because he could, couldn't he?
Without a second thought she dives into the sea, thrusting her feet behind her as she wills them to bring her deeper. Her eyes scan over the blue liquid, looking for any sign of his existence; a Blonde hair, his stripped shirt, perhaps his shoes. She holds it out for at least five seconds, maybe even seven, before she dives up, inhales a deep breath and proceeds to do the same thing over again. Repeat after repeat.
Her body is getting tired, her legs move in a slower pace. Who knew that swimming could be so exhausting?
After each dive and each thrust of her hands she seems to drain herself out even more. Her hand trails along her face, moving her fingers along her eyes. Water drips across her arm as her heavy wet sleeve powerful claims her hand back to the sea.
(She can't keep doing this the whole time.)
''Sam!'' She hears herself yell out his name, but the sound of her own voice becomes vaguer and vaguer. ''Sam, dammit!''
She's so exhausted.
''I knew it!''
Her head whips up, her hair clashing against her cheeks. His voice. His body. He's still alive. ''Sam.'' She mutters, a smile blossoming on her face. It's all good. He's there.
But wait? Is he… is he… Is he walking on water or is her insanity starting to take control of her eyesight?
It's her exhaustion; she's starting to see things.
''Look what I can do!'' He shouts like a six year old. He moves the water surrounding him along his hands, swirling the water around him like a vortex. ''I can control water.'' He chirps in.
The smile on her face brightens – apparently she's not mentally insane – and when he catches sight of her in the sea, his face turns from confusion, to shock before a smile graces his lips. But it's a bigger smile. A brighter smile.
And she smiles back, ever so lightly.
(Truth be told, seeing him smile like that, was worth the sacrifice.)
Her tired body finally gives in as her heavy eyelids follow shoot and shut close. His voice taints through her ears, a remarkable soft pitch; whispering her name like a forbidden fruit. Sweet, deliciously sweet.
And that's that.
(She likes to replay that smile. Recalling the reason she jumped.)
Next, chapter 7