A/N: Hello everyone. This is my first story for Glee, and I am excited to embark on this little adventure. I wanted to go ahead and give you fair WARNING: This story will contain much angst, as well as mentions and visual descriptions of violence, blood, rape, and depression. So, be prepared for that or avoid if you are uncomfortable. This story is a slow-burn Rachel/Santana romance, with epic Quinn/Rachel FRIENDSHIP and Quinn/Santana friendship. While I do ship Faberry, there will be NO Faberry ROMANCE in this story. I hope you enjoy. XO-Chrmdpoet
Also, I do not own Glee or any of its characters.
Chapter One: A Moment
All it takes is a moment. It can feel fleeting or it can drag on for what may seem like centuries, but in the end, it is only a moment. That's what life is after all—just a cluster or sequence of moments, and through these moments, we grow. We succeed and we fail. We fall and we rise. We live and we die. Sometimes, a moment is only a moment—simple, boring, ordinary, but sometimes…sometimes, a moment is everything. Sometimes, a moment changes us forever.
And that moment, the moment I found her there—bleeding, unconscious, broken; that moment rocked me to my very core. That moment…it completely and utterly altered my life.
The commanding voice of the ER nurse crackled in my ears with the force of a hammer, shattering the burning bubble of shock that had developed around me. I snapped to attention, trying desperately to bring the woman speaking into sharp focus, but I could hardly see through the blurry sheen coating my eyes. She was nothing more than a fuzzy image, a frantic blur assaulting my senses much as the last hour of my life had been. As her voice sank into me, reality crashed around me and brought me back to the here and now, and suddenly I was made aware—aware of the quaking in my knees, of the strain in my biceps as I fiercely cradled the warm weight in my arms. My body felt as if, at any moment, it might splinter. It might crack and crumble and fall helplessly to the cold, white floor of the hospital's emergency room.
"Miss, you need to let go now," the nurse's voice rang out to me again. "Let us do our jobs now. It's okay, just let go." I felt the sting of her hand upon my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me, to let me know that it was okay for me to let go, to let me know that I had done well—that I had done all I could do, but the hand just felt cold to me. It felt as foreign and as unreal as this night now felt. It felt wrong, and I just wanted to slap it away and scream at her that I couldn't. I couldn't let go. I couldn't let go, because if I let go, then reality would only crash more forcefully into me, and I would have to realize that this…all of this…was really happening. But she kept on, and before I could really say anything, before I could think to put words to voice and force them up my stinging throat and through my trembling lips, another nurse, a man this time, was pulling the weight from my arms, and the woman whose hand was still resting atop my shoulder was pushing me onto a thin, white bed in the corner of the chaotic room and flashing a light in front of my eyes before pressing the rounded head of a stethoscope to my chest.
It was too much. It was all too much. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think. The sounds—voices around me and in front of me, shouting and panicked and low and soothing, questions assaulting my ears more rapidly than I could think to answer; machines beeping and somebody crying on the other side of the room and another person cursing in pain and more machines beeping and nurses scuffling hurriedly around the massive room and curtains sliding and doors whooshing open and clicking closed and more machines beeping and traffic teeming outside the sliding doors and cars honking and fucking machines…beeping…beeping…beeping; they were all just too much. Too much for me to bear. Too much for me to take in and process. Just too goddamn much.
"Miss, I need you to try and focus, okay?" The nurse tried with me again, and slowly her voice was leaking into my ears and pushing me toward clarity, forcing me to drown out the surrounding sounds of other people's emergencies and come back to the moment, back to myself. I forced myself to focus, lifting my blurry gaze to meet hers, and was instantly rewarded as she said, "Good, good. You need to breathe for me, okay? You're in shock, and we need to try to slow your heart-rate. So look at me and do as I do, okay? Deep breath in…" she inhaled deeply and I did my best to imitate her, sharply and violently sucking much-needed air into my lungs, "and let it out slowly." I did. I let it out, and with it went the very last fractured bits of that bubble I'd been in. A strangled sob tore from my throat and fresh tears ripped furiously down my cheeks, re-wetting the tight and dry tracks from before—the evidence of tears I hadn't even known I'd been crying. We breathed together several times before I could feel my pulse slowing and the swarm of screaming panic in my head dull to a mild buzz. She nodded encouragingly as she patted my arm soothingly, and after a few minutes, her voice spilled into my ears again.
"Now, can you talk to me? Can you tell me your name?" She asked.
My entire body shook so forcefully that I was afraid at any minute I might just explode, but she held onto my shoulders, grounding me and forcing me to stay in the moment. Tears spilled endlessly down my cheeks, slid over my chin, and dripped down my neck. I could feel my heartbeat thudding in my ears, in my throat, in my chest, in my stomach, in every inch of me, and I just wanted to run. I wanted to wake up from this fucking nightmare, but instead, I opened my mouth and stuttered out my reply, my voice gravelly and broken as it touched the air of the ER for the first time since I'd stumbled through the doors screaming for help.
"S-Santana," I managed to get out in a rocky whisper between fractured gasps for air and wet sobs. "My n-name is S-Santana Lopez."
"Good, okay Santana," she said with a small smile and an affectionate squeeze of my shoulders, "my name is Elaine. Keep breathing, and tell me, have you been injured in any way? Do you need to be checked out?"
I shook my head in answer, my gaze piercing into hers, latching on as if this woman could somehow save me from the reality knocking furiously at doors inside my head, trying to get in.
"Okay, and this blood," she said softly, motioning to my clothes, and forcing my gaze downward. My hands were painted crimson, both wet and dry, as were my clothes now clinging to my chest and arms and legs, sticky with sweat and blood. As the haunting vision slammed into me, another sob tore from my throat and my body only shook harder, my breathing spiraling into a frantic, gasping mess once more. "None of this blood belongs to you?" she asked, running her gloved hands soothingly up and down my arms, and reminding me again to breathe.
I shook my head in answer once more, and cried harder than I could ever remember crying in my entire life, choking forcefully on my own saliva. "Okay," she cooed. "Okay, Santana, it's alright. Just breathe. Keep breathing." I did as she asked, and she breathed with me in silence, waiting for me to calm enough to continue. After several long moments of sobbing and gasping and wishing I could just wake up, she spoke softly to me again, reminding me that none of this, regardless of how I longed for it to be, was a dream.
"And the young woman you brought in with you, Santana; do you know her?" she asked.
A whimper that I didn't even recognize as my own rumbled in my chest and slipped across my lips as I nodded my head to confirm that I did, in fact, know her. "Good," she said, nodding in encouragement. "Now, I know you're tired and you're scared, Santana, but I'm going to need for you to stay with me right now and try to keep it together, okay? Because the more you can tell me, the better we can help her. Do you understand?"
"Y-yes," I whispered, and before I realized what I was doing, I grabbed her hand and clutched it fiercely in my own. Waves of nausea rocked my body as the events of the evening crashed through my brain with aching clarity. I needed something, someone, to hold onto, and this woman…she was all I had in the moment, so I clutched onto her desperately, and hoped she would allow it. She did. She matched my grip, and with her other hand, continued to pat and rub my arm soothingly, which was a damn good thing, because the next thing she asked me to do caused my insides to clench violently and my stomach to roar in protest.
"Santana, I need you to tell me what happened tonight," she said, squeezing my hand in encouragement. "Can you do that?"
"I-I…I c-can-can…" I tried. I tried to talk to her, but my voice wouldn't work. My body wouldn't allow it. My brain was actively trying to force away the images of everything that had happened in the last hour, and before I could manage even a sentence, I was doubled over just to the side of her, emptying my stomach on the hospital floor. I couldn't even be embarrassed. I was too fucking tired, too shocked and stunned and disgusted and terrified by all that had happened. My stomach had been rocking and rolling constantly since I'd found her.
Elaine rubbed my bank soothingly, encouraging me to get it all out, and after several minutes of retching until I could do nothing more than dry heave, I managed to push myself back into a sitting position and face her. She smiled sadly at me and quietly asked, "How about we start with a simpler question? Can you tell me her name, Santana?"
I swallowed and nearly vomited again as the soured, bitter taste on my tongue slid grotesquely down my throat and sizzled in my gut, but somehow I managed to choke it down and force myself to keep it together. I locked gazes with her and nodded before my ragged whisper slipped into the air once more.
"Rachel," I rasped. "Rachel Berry."