A/N: This is a little side story(less than ten chapters, likely) I started after a friend prompted me with the idea of Santana and Rachel stuck on a road trip by themselves, encountering trouble. Well, I'll certainly expand on that initial idea, but they will run into trouble. I just hope you enjoy.
To those of my followers wondering what exactly I'm doing writing Glee instead of Mass Effect, I promise you I've got more ME goodness in the works right now, but I'm fighting my way out of a writer's block, and this has been the easiest route so far. I'm just trying to get my groove back, and then I'll be able to have that AND this to have fun with over the summer. So thanks for your patience! :D
Rated M because I will eventually describe violence, there will be cursing, and there will be nudity (tasteful, though), and while I'm sure I could get away with a T on this site, I'm just trying to be honest about what's in the fic.
Disclaimer: I don't own glee or the characters. And Michigan can be an alright place sometimes. I'm no English major, but I do like writing, and I tend to be pretty darn accurate in my proofing. But if you find spelling errors and point them out, I'd certainly appreciate it and happily update to amend the errors
This story's title is based on TV on the Radio's "Province", because it was somewhat fitting, and it came on often when I was writing. *shrug*
It may as well have been the end of days. Santana Lopez was close to four hours into a Barbra Streisand sing-a-long music marathon, alone in Rachel Berry's car as they traversed deeper into Michigan. Of all states in the glorious US of A, it just had to be dreary, depressing Michigan, and Mr. Schuester had to basically force them into a damn road trip to some camp ground for bonding and team building exercises. It all sounded kind of like junk, but all of her closest friends were there, and so Santana Lopez went. Just don't confuse that with the word 'followed'. Even if her friends reserved seats in other cars, leaving her to be stuck alone with Berry and her insane ways.
So when Rachel Berry's exceptionally efficient Prius finally needed to get some fuel into it, they were so far from civilization that they had to take close to a half hour detour off the main highway to reach a gas station. Of course, Santana Lopez, the one giving directions, had advised Rachel to fill up at one of the stations about an hour back, but since it would have interrupted the live performance recording of "Don't Rain on My Parade" that Rachel had blaring in her car, that idea was quickly vetoed.
So there they were, sitting at the pump, Santana guzzling whatever octane fuel the decrepit gas station from some B-rated horror movie had into the damn car, if only to just get out of that show-tunes infested prison. To be truthful, Santana Lopez didn't mind show tunes in moderation, but Rachel Berry did not entertain such restrictions, as the last four hours had taught her. The least she could do is buy herself some alone time until she had to get back in that car and on the way to the glee get-together debacle.
She let out a heavy sigh as the pump signaled the car was full up, and Santana took her sweet time walking to the driver's side window to tell Rachel she could pay. The girl was entirely too paranoid for Santana's liking, even if it was entirely justified; she'd asked for Rachel's PIN for her credit card so she could pump the gas as well as pay, in hopes that she might sneak inside and buy something like pork rinds with it just to aggravate Berry's sensitive vegan heart a bit. Though luckily, she managed to be suspicious enough around the keypad to make Rachel fumble her PIN twice, buying her even more of a temporary reprieve from the Streistravaganza.
The only fortunate thing about getting back into the car was that the storm that had been brewing for the past hour or so had finally unleashed the torrents of rain it was holding back, leading to something of a torrential downpour that Rachel Berry had to navigate through on a shoddy, unmaintained back road. Which, of course, meant that Rachel needed to concentrate, which led to a temporary hiatus of the music marathon. This could have been a good thing, but the intermission that took its place was a primo grade Rachel Berry freak-out session complete with incoherent babbling, scared shrieks, and rants about the importance of weather networks to warn people ahead of time about such storms. Apparently, as Rachel insisted at least a dozen times, there were no such warnings made up until the time of their departure, making them solely responsible for their fates and possible deaths. Leave it to Rachel Berry to amp up the dramatics in the absolute worst of times, because while she was in the middle of one of her weather-related rants, her left front tire bounced in and out of a pothole, the impact causing the tiny babbling diva to panic, and soon the car was careening toward something of a moderately steep descent before Santana's hand could grab the wheel.
It was a strange feeling, the Prius getting airborne for a half second; in that moment, Santana knew that if she were to die, she would haunt Rachel Berry's ghost until the end of time. She would somehow discover a TARDIS somewhere and go back to when Rachel WAS alive, and haunt her then too. She knew that ever since she and Brittany watched the new Doctor Who series, that Britt had been working on a time machine much in the same vein, and while she was never all that confident in the girl's academic abilities, she happened to be confident in her best friend's brand of intelligence and creativity.
Thoughts of time machines and ghostly vendettas were shaken from Santana's mind as the car made impact with the ground, Rachel's head cracking audibly against the glass as the car began to tumble violently down the hill. It was after the third roll that Santana felt her consciousness slip away from her, the angry Spanish curses and threats she was busy tossing out blurring to a halt as everything went black.
Everything was blurry at first, and there was a blinding pain throbbing in her right temple, as well as a distinct feeling that she wasn't quite on level ground. As Santana gained some of her wits, she came to recognize the feeling; it was similar to when Sue decided to do a week of random 'stress-testing', where the flyers of the Cheerios were occasionally dropped from peak height after a throw, just to see how durable their skeletal structures were. Santana had been dropped twice that week in freshman year and suffered a moderate concussion, a compound fracture in her right wrist, as well as a broken right foot, alongside a number of sprains and bruises that made her life miserable for a while. So…concussion…fuck, well, I didn't seem out for long, and I'm not all that dizzy or nauseous, so it's probably just minor, luckily. Those neck strengthening exercises Sue had us do probably helped in some way.
Letting out a pained groan, she turned her head to the left, her vision eventually focusing on an entirely unconscious Rachel in the driver's seat, her head still and sideways against the headrest, facing slightly down at Santana, who now realized that the car was partially propped up against a tree. The girl had definitely seen better days, blood slowly streaming down her cheek from the head wound just above her hairline. Both of them were covered in bits of shattered glass, and as Santana went to angle herself to get a better look at the total damage, her right shoulder screamed out in pain, forcing a guttural groan from her throat. Okay, not a break, but…damn it, mixed with a full-body strain, it's fucking painful…
Santana took a moment to gather her bearings and energy, and reached blindly into the backseat, managing to find a hold on her bag after a minute or so of fumbling. Her hands quickly found the holster for her knife; the seat-belts seemed broken, or just too rattled to function enough to detach at the time, so she made quick work of the restricting straps on herself before moving to Rachel's. Despite both of them being in surprisingly good condition considering, she didn't like the idea of any more blood loss, so she carefully and painfully crawled into the back of the car, hands scraping onto broken glass in spots, and fished in her bag and the boxes they were given to carry for any useful supplies. Well, thank fucking hell that Schue loaded us with all this extra crap…gotta hope no one else got into a car wreck, I think we've got all the first aid stuff here.
Quickly, she tossed it into the passenger seat and then flipped down the rear seats and pulled their overloaded backpacks out of the trunk, stuffing anything that wasn't first aid into them, before hopping back into the front seats again. Using her knife, she tore a swath of gauze and held it to Rachel's head wound with one hand, using the other to try for a signal, or any sort of reception on her phone to no avail. Freaking Michigan…bet this doesn't happen in New York City or Chicago or anywhere near civilization.
Unsatisfied with her cell's inability to get even a single bar, Santana turned off and pocketed her phone, deciding to get to the more pressing matter at hand. Despite her actions many days in school, Santana really kind of enjoyed the pint-size wonder, even if only just in short bursts and on stage. The girl was a hell of a performer, and so long as she was singing instead of speaking in paragraphs complete with oxford commas and semicolons, she could stomach the girl. She was, after all, in glee, which meant she got at least minimal protection. When she was on the Cheerios, she'd given each of the members that service free of charge, requested or not, and had long decided to put her energy into at least keeping glee's laundry bills and clothing expenses as low as she could manage. Any excuse to keep Rachel Berry from reinforcing her position as the top patron of whatever mystical thrift shop she visited in her shire homeland was worth jumping on, anyway. She wasn't entirely sure who made those owl and reindeer sweaters, or who supplied stores with so much argyle that the government could realistically classify Berry's closet as a potential fashion disaster equivalent of Ms O'Leary's cow, and she wanted to keep it that way; quarantined. Besides, she was sure that one day, if Kurt ever got into fashion, he could find out the culprits for her, and Santana would gladly push aside her ethical concerns over homicide.
Santana used one of her spare tank tops to brush as much glass off of Rachel's unconscious body as possible, just so she could safely lean over by the girl and see to her head wound. Using her hands, she worked to part the sticky blood-matted hair, the fresh seeping blood making the search for the gash rather quick. Santana frowned at the cut, it wasn't long, but it looked like it could be a little deep. She got a new swath of gauze and applied their lone cloth compress kit to hold it in place so she could use both hands to check for other wounds. Well, considering she was covered up like an Egyptian sweater mummy on one of the hottest damn days of the year, I probably won't have much to check… she thought, looking over the girl for any blood stains or tears in the fabric, randomly picking at the sweater to see if there's any resistance.
It was only when she was finishing bandaging up the small cuts on Rachel's right hand that the small diva began to shift into consciousness. Which, of course, led to Rachel swinging her arms and groaning at Santana to stop murdering her. Obviously.
Disregarding the slowly flailing limbs and dazedly panicked gibberish, she took hold of the girl's wrists and stared her in the eye. It wasn't often that she ever had to perform first aid on anyone, but Brittany had a fantastically sad tendency to get concussed, only to come to in a daze, thinking Lord Tubbington's mafia friends were interrogating her over the contents of her diary or her time machine. Sometimes both. So Santana was used to dealing with half-conscious, scared, desperately violent women. At least, so long as that position was held temporarily; she'd do poorly as a caretaker at a drug rehab facility or a long-term care home for serial killers with dementia and those kinds of mental illnesses.
"Berry, you need to calm down, you've been in a car accident." Santana spoke as calmly and slowly as she could, slightly discouraged that while Rachel's eyes looked more focused, it only seemed to spur her ridiculous terror of being in a confined space with the same Santana Lopez that had made her life hell in past years, all while feeling tremendously sore and stiff if Santana's first-hand experience could be translated.
It was only when she saw Berry's eyes flitting between her and the unsheathed hunting knife on the floor by the passenger side seat that it kind of clicked, and she started to start paying attention to the girl's wailing.
"Berry, I used the knife to cut our seat belts, stop trying to reenact a scene from a B-rated horror film! Now sit still, you're hurt!" she demanded, raising her voice in hopes it would silence the diva. It managed to stop her words, but only led to a fresh stream of tears, matching the pitter-patter of rain on the car roof and somewhat intact windshield.
"Why would I be hurt? What did you do to me?!" Rachel cried out, looking panic-stricken at her slightly bandaged hands.
"Hey, I'm not the one who decided to panic over a stupid pot-hole in the road, and ridiculously swerve off the road and into this perfectly comfortable and hospitable ravine." Santana grit out, slowly guiding one of Rachel's hands up to the head wound. "Hold your hand there and soon it might clot up and stop bleeding, and I'll be able to fix your slightly over-sized head properly."
"Oh no, my head! It could be a skull fracture, it could be deadly! I could have an aneurysm! I could have hemorrhaging! I could…" Rachel began ranting wildly, tears now fully pouring like comical waterfalls from the girl's eyes, and she couldn't help but wonder if she was that dramatic about everything. It was kind of entertaining, if not slightly endearing. Even if it just meant that she was formulating dozens of new outlandish pranks to test out on the girl in the future.
"Rachel, you're not going to have a damn aneurysm, it's just a small cut, but head wounds bleed a lot, and I don't need you passing out on me again after you've been concussed, alright?" she asked again in a stern voice, trying to give a serious look that wasn't entirely unfriendly or intimidating. Rachel just nodded tearfully, hiccuping sobs.
"My head hurts." The girl pouted sadly, ducking her head as she sunk back into the driver's seat.
"Just keep pressure on that, and I'll take care of the pain soon, okay hobbit?" Santana huffed, the feeling of blood oozing down her right arm reminding her that she has her own wounds to care for. "Now, I've got my own cuts and shit to take care of now, so just sit there quietly, be patient, and I'll get back to you."
Santana saw Rachel's head turn toward her as she freed her body of the tiny glass shards with the makeshift tank top rag, but paid the diva no mind. She had been dressed for the occasion, wearing a thin, off the shoulder tee, which meant a lot of glass got under her top, which in turn made for a lot of minor cuts. For once, Berry's fashion sense was more practical. She briefly wondered if hell had indeed frozen over, but considering the moniker her glee friends had given her, she was pretty sure she would have gotten the memo.
After cleaning the first few cuts, she just decided to remove the top altogether, the fabric proving to be more hindrance than anything. Carefully, she plucked the shards from her skin and used medical tape and whatever bandages she could find to cover them up.
"Your right arm's bleeding." She heard Rachel speak quietly, prompting her to take a gander at the limb yet again. The slightly larger wound was still there, but it had inexplicably stopped bleeding shortly after she'd removed the offending piece of glass, so she'd decided it could wait.
"Just focus on your own stuff, Berry. I'll get you your painkillers soon." Santana grumbled, continuing to work away at the smaller cuts that were still bleeding.
"Why did you help me first?" the smaller girl squeaked out, a question Santana had hoped to not answer, or need to answer. Though Berry wouldn't be Berry if she wasn't abundantly and absurdly curious.
"Your wounds were obviously worse." Santana answered nonchalantly, her focus on finishing bandaging herself up, now covering up the cut on her arm. "Besides, glee would come after me if I let you die, and that's simply too many dead bodies for me to hide without bringing attention to myself."
She heard Rachel laugh nervously in her seat, clearly not sure if Santana was joking, and that kind of rankled her a little. It had been months since she'd legitimately threatened anyone from the group seriously with physical violence. "So where are we?" Rachel asked, her voice hoarse from crying, and likely the pain.
"Last I checked, about 20 miles away from the main highway. I don't have reception in my phone at all, and my battery's low from navigating the whole trip, so barring a miracle, I don't think it would be efficient to boot it up right now to double check." Santana noted, leaning over to remove the compression cap from Rachel for a bit, checking to see if the wound had stopped bleeding. It seemed dry, so Santana pulled the gauze off, rinsed her hair with water, and began a makeshift hair stitching job over the wound to bind it together. "The car's obviously totaled, too, and it's still raining kinda hard outside, but it's supposed to clear up tonight a bit, so that's probably going to stop soon. Sun set about an hour ago, so it's probably nine-thirty or ten at the latest. Any more basic questions I can answer while tediously wielding your stupidly thick hair to seal the deal?"
Rachel jumped in her seat a little her arms somewhat flailing against Santana as she worked away, and while she could tolerate the diva, the act was getting a little annoying. "You're using my hair to what?! You're going to give me a bald spot? Will I have to shave it? I can't go to school with a bald spot at my hairline, Santana!" the girl shrieked, and Santana wanted nothing more than to take one or both hands away from the favour she was doing the frustrating diva and strangle her a little, but despite the smaller girl's lack of trust, she was a teammate, and Santana didn't let her team down. It wasn't really in her capabilities, as far as she was concerned.
"Berry, the glue can be washed off, and the string can be untied, but you need it right now so that wound doesn't open up. I don't need you bleeding everywhere, and I don't have a fainting couch for you to use, though I almost expected you to pack one 'just in case'." Santana snarked, finishing the binding with a bit of glue before fishing in her bag for one of her beanies. "There, you can use my hat to cover it up if you're really that self conscious about it." She finished, holding out the hat.
Rachel warily took it and put it on her head, using the intact rear view mirror to ensure it looked okay, Santana assumed. "I'm sorry for driving us off the road." The girl mumbled sadly, wincing as she crossed her arms.
"Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm kind of pissed you freaked out back there. Thing is, we can't do anything about it now, so don't sweat it short stack." Santana spoke, and she knew she was right. They were out in the middle of nowhere, with no phone, no help, and no transportation at all, or one of those magic flutes from Super Mario Bros 3 that she could use to take them to some other place. Hey, it wasn't her fault that she slowly came to love those old games; Puck was surprisingly uninteresting on his best day, and being able to waste some free time on a fun game while having the full competitive opportunity to taunt him was something she rarely passed up. Not her fault that she took advantage of the rumours about her and Puck hooking up, it was good for her rep. They shacked up twice, and the whole 'fool me twice, shame on me' thing seemed entirely applicable, but if people wanted to think she was a little looser than she was, then so be it. It just meant she'd have half of McKinley's population under her thumb.
"I…well, I mean…I hadn't really considered being in a car accident without access to AAA or my parents or…anyone…" Rachel started to disjointedly ramble, her brow furrowed in concentration despite her clearly sub par thoughts she was voicing. "And we can't just wait by the road for help, I doubt many cars drive this road. That gas station looked like it hadn't had a visitor in years. There were cobwebs on the PIN pad!"
Santana nodded at the single coherent thought. "We have some options. We can walk back to the main road and try to get service, or a lift by someone who isn't a serial killer…or we could walk to the gas station and wait until it opens in the morning, and use their land line." She said softly, looking out her window, up at the road hidden by bushes. "Just let me know when you want to head out, Berry." She finished, using her left hand to massage her aching shoulder.
"Santana, there are at least seven hours until the sun rises." Rachel argued, seemingly perfectly content to sit in a broken car, in broken glass, with rain misting in at them; their bodies likely getting stiffer the longer they remain stationary. At least, that's what she figured would happen. Santana thought that so long as they didn't push themselves at all, their bodies would cope well enough.
"Yeah, and while I know you're banged up, you're going to feel like hell has descended upon you tomorrow if we just stay in here and don't move. Besides, the earlier we get to the gas station, the earlier we get help, and the earlier we get well rested and out of this horrible state." Santana shot back, trying to keep calm and remain a voice of reason, but she'd had about enough of Rachel's apparent need for conflict and drama.
Rachel, thankfully, fell silent for at least two precious, worshipped minutes before her mouth opened again to break the sweet silence. "You want me to go there alone?" the diva asked, her words barely louder than a faint whisper, and if not for the slight lull in rainfall, Santana wasn't sure she would have heard it.
"Rachel, that's the worst damn idea possible." She laughed, her shoulder hurting as it shook, despite her efforts to restrain herself. "We go together."
At that, Santana reached for the leather holster she'd pushed under her seat and pulled her trusty hatchet from its home. She admired it for a moment before realizing Rachel was gaping at her wide-eyed, with fresh panic written across her face. "Berry, this isn't the Shining, or Deliverance, I'm not going to murder you." She said, hoping to reassure the girl. I won't kill you…even if I want to sometimes…
Rachel, for her part, grabbed the coat she'd left in the backseat and gingerly slipped it on before sitting as far away from Santana as possible in the driver's seat, pressed up against the door so the cheerleader was in full view. It was a childish effort by the diva, one she couldn't help but chuckle over.
Santana, for her part, put her hair into a bun and began removing her jewelry, stashing it in her backpack for safe keeping. She didn't want anything catching anyone's attention, and long hair was a potential safety risk when out alone. No harm in taking proper precautions.
"Why do you have a hatchet?" she heard Rachel ask from her little safe bubble by the car door.
Santana just rolled her eyes, wondering if Rachel had ever gone camping before that didn't involve a cottage or an RV or something of the sort. "Lots of campers carry hatchets. They're useful, Berry."
"But why on this trip? We're heading to a camp ground with enough facilities that it would be fairly obsolete." Rachel added, her train of thought somewhat logical, but she could sense the undercurrent of fear. She was more or less trying to have Santana admit something untrue to assuage her thoughts of the cheerleader taking her to slaughter.
"I was on the Cheerios." Santana answered simply, knowing it would frustrate the diva, a pastime that she could at least take part in if the brunette insisted on being annoying.
Rachel, now clearly flustered, just looked at her with confusion. Santana once again rolled her eyes and continued. "Look, I quit Cheerios to stick with glee, and it cost Sue her championship streak, and publicly humiliated her. While I don't think she's responsible, there's a real possibility Sue sabotaged this road trip just to get back at me, and prove again her training was effective."
"What…what training? And…Again? What does that mean?" Rachel squeaked out as Santana sharpened her hatchet. She'd always considered naming it, but she couldn't think of anything fitting.
In all honesty, Santana rarely talked about the training, but getting a bit of it off her chest wasn't the worst idea, and would certainly make Berry either impressed, or more intimidated, both of which were likely better than how Rachel was currently.
"Well, after Quinn was kicked from the Cheerios last year for being preggers, I was promoted, but Sue kept insisting that due to my ethnicity, I'd likely follow blondie's lead soon and somehow lose ownership of all my shoes in the process. So she decided that if I would end up pregnant, it wouldn't be that semester, so she gave me this weird illegal birth control device from Morocco, and decided we'd all need cohesion building." Santana noted with some amusement, recalling when their illustrious coach had informed them of her plans. "Which, of course, meant that we were drugged on our flight to what we thought was Los Angeles, and were woken five minutes from our drop zone…some mountainy forest area in northern British Columbia, Canada. We were split into threes and forced to parachute down to the training ground where we'd prove our hardiness and ability to survive."
She saw Rachel appearing shocked, appalled, and entirely confused at Santana's somewhat vague telling of her training. It felt good, getting some of Sue's antics off her chest, but she didn't feel like spilling all of it to the small diva.
"What does that mean? What happened?" Rachel asked, her curiosity clearly piqued, and Santana would hold onto those answers likely until she felt too annoyed to not snap Berry like a twig.
"I'd rather not go into it, it wasn't exactly fun, but I did learn that a hatchet is a hiker's best friend. And I can take care of myself out here, so as long as you stick with me and don't annoy me too much, I won't amend my previous agenda of murdering Mercedes to murdering you and leave your body in the wilderness where there won't be witnesses. Soil's soft with all the rain, it'd be pretty easy to dig a small hobbit grave." Santana rambled with great amusement, watching Rachel's face twist into horror before shifting to a more skeptical expression. "Of course I'm joking. Again, glee would try and kill me, and I don't have a burial ground planned out to dump the bodies into. So I'll keep this for chopping down branches and bushes and whatever, Berry. I have dreams outside of spending the next forty or so years in jail. I'm too hot for jail."
Rachel still gave her a strange, skeptical look, but with the rain having slowed to nearly a stop, Rachel nodded and gestured to her door.
Santana gaped at the girl. "Oh come on, Rachel. You have a prime opportunity to kick out a car window, and you're going to try a door? A door that probably won't open, because the car rolled so much? Live a little!" Santana called out, crawling forward enough to weasel her way into the back seat. "Go on, kick my window out, it's low to the ground, but with your height, it should be ideal."
Santana laughed at the girl's huff, and smiled when the diva hesitantly moved to the passenger seat.
A/N part 2:
ttyjj: I used "looser" purposefully. If you paid attention to the context of the passage, and are from a North American locale, you'd probably understand she was insinuating that her actions were giving her a reputation of being promiscuous. Loose = easy/promiscuous/etc. I'm not averse to criticism, and upon another read-through, I did catch two other grammar errors that I probably should have caught, but if you're going to call me out on something, please be accurate and don't waste my time. Otherwise, you'll be the one who potentially looks 'borderline retarded' (which is entirely ableist language by the way), and I don't wish for any of my readers to come across poorly. Thank you either way for your review, and for taking the time to read the chapter.