They ran for what felt like hours, until their legs and their lungs burned and Santana thought they might fall down dead from exhaustion or maybe a lack of air. They stopped for only a few moments to rest before moving on, cutting a path through the woods away from the roads. The wild men had a vehicle and though the gas was probably diluted sludge, it was still more than Santana and Rachel had.
Santana could see the blood on her hands and covering her body every time she looked down to step over something, splatters and spots of red drying on to her skin and clothes. With every step, she saw red, felt red.
Eventually, they came out of the woods into a wide open field. They couldn't hear anyone behind them, hadn't since they fled, but they moved on anyway, jogging across what looked to be long abandoned farmland, broad stretches of dirt and grass occasionally broken up by roads, first paved two-lane streets and then paved one-lane streets and then gravel backroads that were full of holes.
They moved on. They moved on until Rachel couldn't take it anymore and she demanded that they stop.
"No," Santana said immediately. They were standing in a field full of waist-high grass next to a stand of trees. Her hands were below the tops of the grass but when she looked down, she could still see Mike's blood on her fingers. When she closed her eyes, Santana could see him in her mind's eye, his easy smile, his calm eyes, his skull split open by an axe.
Rachel reached out and grabbed her hands, rubbing at them with her fingers. "Are you bleeding?"
"No," Santana said again. She went to pull away her bloody hands, but Rachel wouldn't let her. "You were right, okay?" Santana sighed. "You were right."
Rachel dropped her hands and pulled off her backpack, setting it in the grass. She dug around inside and then pulled out their gallon jug of water, popping the top. Water was precious, essential, and they were running low again. They were always running low.
"It's not about being right," Rachel said, standing back up and pulling both of Santana's hands into one of hers. She slowly poured a bit of water on to their joined hands and began rubbing them again, washing away the dirt and blood that clung to Santana's fingers. "It's about trusting others. Not everyone is a villain."
"I know that," Santana replied softly. Rachel's hands were soft, slipping wetly against hers.
"Do you?" Rachel looked up at her pointedly and she was suddenly aware of how close they were.
Santana nodded slowly. The water on their hands dried quickly and then they were just holding hands, Rachel's fingers still stroking her skin. Rachel was as dirty as she was, clothes stained with dirt and a little blood, and her face was pale beneath the dirt, but there was still something very pretty there, something in her soft brown eyes and steady gaze.
"I do," Santana murmured. "But some people are villains."
Rachel nodded. "Not us, though." She spoke slowly. "We're better than that. We have to be."
"Why?" Santana asked before she could stop herself. Rachel was mesmerizing and she couldn't look away.
Rachel's hands slid up to her lower arms and she was suddenly and uncomfortably very close. "For each other," she said, "and for ourselves. Otherwise we'll probably lose our minds and that's unacceptable because I haven't had a chance to rebuild the long lost theater scene."
Santana grinned and without another thought, leaned down and pressed her lips against Rachel's. Because Rachel was hope and optimism and smiles and it stirred something deep inside Santana that she didn't know existed, something warm and comforting, even in the face of death. Rachel had grown on her somewhere in between long daytime walks and longer nighttimes. So Santana kissed her, because she didn't know what else to do.
Rachel kissed her back earnestly, her palms slightly wet against Santana's forearms. Her lips were dry and cracked but eager, insistently meeting every movement of Santana's lips. Santana brought her hands to Rachel's bony hips, slipping her fingers up under Rachel's dirty t-shirt to feel her skin. Santana's hands skimmed up Rachel's sides and she let herself move closer, pressing her body against Rachel's even as she pulled her head back, breathless from running and from the way Rachel kissed her.
"Oh, Santana," Rachel breathed, voice small and soft. "How did you ever get this far?"
Santana licked her lips. "By finding people like you," she replied honestly. "And being a total badass," she added.
Rachel nodded, smiling in acquiescence. "Mm-hmm," she hummed, moving forward to wrap her arms around Santana's neck.
Santana was conscious of the blood that covered both of them, dried on to their clothes, and of the way that Rachel looked at her, trusted her, believed her. She kissed her again and this time she didn't stop, not even when she grew lightheaded from a lack of oxygen.
Rachel was impossibly close and Santana could feel her warmth and the way she eventually began to tremble. They had been on their feet, fighting and running and standing, for too long. Santana dropped to the ground suddenly and pulled Rachel down with her, her legs aching with every move.
Rachel's arms were still around her neck and she didn't loosen them as they landed on the ground. She didn't stop kissing Santana, either, because it felt good and right. And Santana didn't stop either because she had practically forgotten what it meant to feel something besides fear and panic and numbness and everything about kissing Rachel was hope and the promise of a tomorrow that Santana had forgotten could exist.
Santana rolled to the side, her hands still on Rachel's hips guiding her to her back in the grass. She settled between Rachel's legs, her hands on Rachel's outer thighs pulling them apart. Rachel groaned, her fingers combing through Santana's hair, catching in tangles and knots. Santana kissed her again, harder and more insistent. Her body was on fire, burning from the inside out. She wanted to burn. It was all she had left.
Santana slid her hands up Rachel's legs, over her hips and up to her waist, pushing Rachel's dirty shirt up as she went. Her fingers skimmed over Rachel's skin, stopping just below her breasts.
She paused for a moment, breathless and panting with Rachel beneath her. She had done this before but she didn't know if Rachel had and with their luck as it was, they might not get another chance to lose themselves this way.
Rachel, always responding to the things Santana didn't even say, pulled Santana down into another kiss and arched her back, pushing her body against Santana, who sighed at the contact and the way Rachel moved under her. She was practically squirming.
Rachel lifted up, pulling away from Santana long enough to pull her shirt off. She gave Santana a long look, her eyes dark with arousal and her lips swollen from kisses. Rachel then grabbed the hem of Santana's top and pulled the other girl's shirt up over her head.
The midday sun was warm on Santana's back and heat waves rose from the ground and engulfed them. Rachel fell back again, her bare back on the grass, and Santana followed her. When she kissed her again, it was slower, warmer and languid, and she sighed when her bare breasts pressed against Rachel's.
Santana's clean hands found Rachel's breasts and her fingers lightly pinched the other girl's nipples. When Rachel gasped against Santana's lips, she smirked and added more force, one hand palming Rachel's breast and the other still lavishing attention to Rachel's nipple.
They were running from one death towards another and all Santana could feel was skin and heat and desire, building in the pit of her stomach. Rachel was soft and pliant beneath her, so inviting, and Santana wanted her more than anything. She left death for another day and lost herself in Rachel.
Santana slid down a bit, ignoring Rachel's groan of protest, and wrapped her lips around one of Rachel's pert nipples, pink and inviting. She swirled her tongue around the tip and trailed her fingers down Rachel's stomach, stopping above the lose waistband of Rachel's pants. She waited only long enough for Rachel to moan at the way Santana's lips were sucking on her nipple to slip her hand inside Rachel's pants.
Santana's fingers slid slowly and carefully through wetness. "Shit," she muttered around Rachel's nipple. "You're so fucking wet."
Rachel arches her hips off the ground, forcing Santana's hand against her just a bit more. "Kiss me," Rachel says, half-gasping.
Santana smirked again, leaning up to kiss Rachel, her wet tongue dipping between Rachel's parted lips just as she slipped two fingers into her, who shuddered.
They didn't have much time — they've already been in this field for too long — so Santana set a quick pace. Rachel was unbearably wet and every thrust of Santana's fingers inside her was met with heat and slickness and soft urgent moans.
Santana kissed Rachel again, feeling the girl's hands in her hair, keeping their lips pressed together to muffle Rachel's cries. Rachel met Santana's lips as best she could, gasping Santana's name in between fervent kisses, and Santana curled her fingers in response. Rachel's hips met her every thrust and the movement spurs her on, pushing her fingers deeper inside Rachel.
She pressed her thumb against Rachel's clit, drawing circles around it, and fucked Rachel faster. Her wrist burned and her back ached from running and the constant movement of her body against Rachel's.
When Rachel finally came, her muscles clenching around Santana's fingers and her hips stilling, her eyes were closed and her lips were parted. Her face was pink with exertion and her back was arched off the ground. It was the most amazing sight Santana had seen in longer than she could remember.
Rachel wordlessly wrapped her arms around Santana's neck and pulled her down as she lay flat again. Santana pulled her fingers out of Rachel's pants and sunk into the other girl's embrace, burying her face against Rachel's neck.
Rachel's fingers caressed her back, which was slick with sweat. "I think this is it," she whispered.
"A safe place for us."
Eventually the sky began to darken, growing first navy and then black, and they put their shirts back on and left the field behind. The air was calm and the night was still. They said nothing but they walked together, hands clasped between them, unafraid of what might be behind them. There were only more fields ahead of them, fields and a narrow gravel road that led to a two-story house, sheltered on three sides by trees and overgrown bushes. The glass in the windows was all broken but the night air was hot and they were grateful for the breeze that blew into the house, setting up their blankets in what was left of the living room.
Santana heard the sound of rainfall after a time and stood up in the dark. She walked outside, leaving the door open behind her. She walked out into the grass and heard footsteps on the wooden porch behind her, stopping just before the edge.
Rachel called out to her. "Santana? What are you doing?"
Santana stood in the rain, letting it run over the dirt and blood that clung to her, and didn't answer. The water was cool against her skin and she could hear it hitting the roof of the house behind her, pinging off of the shingles and dripping over the sides of the rusted gutters.
And then she coughed, her lungs burning with each spasm. She coughed once, twice, and then turned her face up towards the sky, closing her eyes. The air smelt of fresh rain and her lungs protested each breath that she drew so that she might smell that scent, might memorize and tuck it away in her mind until she needed it to remember why she walked on as she did. Because there was fresh rain.
Rachel stepped off of the porch, standing beside her in the rain. She felt Rachel's fingers slide against hers as Rachel took her hand. Because there was fresh rain and because there was Rachel.
She coughed again. Let the sickness come, she thought, squeezing Rachel's hand. I'll kick its ass.
They stood there until the rain had soaked through their clothes and through their skin and through their muscles, seeping down into their bones. They stood together and let the rain cleanse them until they could stand no longer.
And then they walked again.