A/N: Hello everyone! Just wanted to give a quick reminder/Trigger Warning for graphic imagery in this chapter, including physical violence, blood, and rape.
This is a rather long chapter. I hope you enjoy. XO-Chrmdpoet
Chapter Thirteen: Bruises and Memories
I woke up again just a little before dawn, my own nightmares haunting me far too much for me to sleep peacefully. I couldn't shake the image of Rachel's blood flooding over my hands and soaking through my clothes even though she was lying right there next to me when I opened my eyes. Her body was pressed close to mine and her hair tickled at my nose as the top of her head rested at an even level with my chin.
I lay there like that for a long time, just running the pads of my fingertips up and down Rachel's arm and staring out of the windows in her bedroom. I tried to keep my mind clear and just zone out on the orange rays peeking past buildings as the sun made its debut in the city that never sleeps, and it wasn't long before I felt Rachel stirring in my arms. She grunted a bit as she slowly drifted into consciousness and I knew that her pain medication had worn off. She hissed a bit when she moved, which only proved what I already knew, but just as I was about to carefully get up to grab her pain pills, I felt her small hand latch onto my arm and pull me closer.
"Please don't," she whispered softly, her eyes still closed and her breathing growing shallow as a result of her pain. "Please just stay with me a bit longer."
"You're in pain," I told her as I began to run my fingers up and down her arm again, trying to soothe her as much as I could. "You need to take a pill."
"I know," she said. "I just…not yet, okay? Just stay me with me." I could've died with those words. I felt them in every part of my body, tingles shooting in every direction. Rachel looked so beautiful laying there beside me, her hair and her face aglow in the early morning light. It somehow made my heart beat faster and slower at the same time. So, I swallowed down the lump in my throat and inched a bit closer to her, reveling in the warmth of her small body and in the fact that she not only needed me there with her, but that she wanted me there as well.
"Okay," I whispered, because what the hell else was I going to do? If I was being honest, I didn't want to be away from her so when she was blatantly asking me to stay, I sure as hell wasn't going to deny her that.
Rachel seemed content to lay in my arms, her eyes still closed and her body completely relaxed despite the fact that I knew she was in pain, but it wasn't long before we both heard Kurt tinkering around in the kitchen. It was then that Rachel finally opened her eyes and turned to me, but as soon as her gaze settled on me, her face contorted in absolute horror. I was so shocked by that reaction that I immediately jerked away from her, and I'm not exactly sure why but without knowing the reasoning for that fucking horrible expression on her face, I just felt…rejected. It was stupid and irrational considering she had only just asked me to stay with her, but I couldn't help it. It was like it was ingrained me to think that way, to jump to conclusions, especially where any sort of rejection was involved.
"Oh my god, Santana!" Rachel shrieked, her hand reaching for me as I scooted away from her.
"What?" I snapped at her. "What the fuck, Rachel? You're freaking me out!"
She quickly shook her head as if only just realizing that her face in that moment was contorted into an expression that practically screamed that the sight of me was her worst nightmare. "I—I'm sorry, Santana," she said quickly. "It's just…well, your face. What happened to you?"
What?! I thought. What the hell was she talking about? My face was perfect like it always was. Following her gaze with my hand, I pressed my fingers to the side of my face, and pain instantly shot through my jaw and cheek. "Ow! Fuck me!" I swore loudly before shooting up out of the bed and over to the large mirror on Rachel's wall.
Well, shit, I thought as I took in my appearance. One entire side of my face from halfway down my cheek to my chin was tinted a deep purple with little hints of red mixed in. Well, that's definitely not cute. Everything came flooding back to me in that moment, and I couldn't help but laugh a bit as I realized that the tiny girl in the bed behind me was the reason my face looked like a damn eggplant. Who would have ever thought that Rachel Berry would jock me in the face? It was only knowing that she didn't mean to and that I didn't want to upset her that kept me from actually being upset about it myself. Honestly, it was kind of amusing.
"I'm sorry, have I missed something?" Rachel asked from behind me. "Is there something humorous about your face appearing as someone's punching bag?"
"A little bit, yeah," I told her, turning back to face her and chuckling a bit as that same look of horror was still painted across her features. "Considering that it was you who punched me."
"What?!" She shrieked, her voice rising in pitch as she tried to sit up several times, each time hissing in pain, before she finally just gave up and laid back down again. "I did no such thing, Santana Lopez!"
"Actually you did." This time it was Kurt who answered as he appeared in the doorway balancing three mugs of coffee in his hands. Rachel's mouth dropped open dramatically as she spluttered to find something to say. Kurt and I just laughed at her reaction as he made his way carefully across the room, making sure not to spill any of the searing hot liquid on himself as he went. He handed one mug to me before stepping over to the bed and passing the other to Rachel, and then he settled himself on the foot of her bed. She took it absentmindedly, her gaze darting back and forth between us as her jaw continued to hang open as if some hinges had come loose somewhere and her face was just going to fall apart at any minute.
"Told ya, dwarf," I said, giving her an affectionate smile; well, more like a half-smile since it fucking hurt to move one side of my face. It felt good to tease Rachel again, almost like normal, except, you know, for the bandages on her body and the cast on her foot and the fucking massive bruise on my jaw. Other than those things though, yeah…it was like old times, and that felt pretty fucking wonderful.
After a few minutes, Rachel seemed to snap back to life as she barked in true Rachel Berry fashion, "I demand an explanation right now."
Both Kurt and I laughed again at that, but then I caved, sighing as I moved over to settle myself in Rachel's bed again. "You were having a nightmare last night, remember?"
"Yes, I remember," she answered, and I didn't miss the way her voice grew quiet as she said those words, a flash of fear flickering across her face before she schooled her expression again and motioned for me to continue.
"Well, you were thrashing around and I was trying to hold you in place so that you wouldn't hurt yourself and then I lost my grip on one of your arms…"
"And then it just went flying," Kurt finished for me.
"Yeah," I said, nodding, "flying right into my face."
That look of horror was back as one of Rachel's hands shot up to cover her mouth, muting the sound of her gasp. Kurt and I glanced at each other, and then before either of us could stop ourselves, we just burst into a loud round of laughter. It wasn't even really that funny to be honest. Everything had just felt so fucking terrible and so damn intense that it was like we had just hit our limit. We just needed to feel good for a bit…so we laughed, and we laughed loud, because laughing? It was so much freaking better than crying.
When I realized that Rachel hadn't joined in, though, even after several minutes, I turned to look at her and my chest constricted as I took in the tears filling her eyes, her hand still cupped over her mouth. "Hey, hey, come on," I said, scooting closer to her and pulling her hand from her mouth to lace our fingers together. "It's okay, Rachel. You didn't know what you were doing."
"I'm so sorry, Santana," she whispered, her voice cracking, and though I could practically feel Kurt's stare as it darted back and forth between me and Rachel, I kept my focus on her as I leaned over and pressed my lips to her forehead. I just didn't give a fuck if he was watching or not or what he might assume based on that one little display of affection. I'd pretty much come to accept my feelings, though, you know, I wasn't about to start shouting them from the rooftops or anything and I certainly wasn't about to tell Rachel considering she already had way too much on her plate to deal with all that crap, too. But I certainly wasn't going to act like I didn't care about her or like I didn't want to make it better in any way I could. Rachel was going to come first, and that was all that mattered. To hell with anyone else's assumptions or questions or stares. That's just the way it was going to be.
"Don't be sorry," I told her softly, pressing another kiss to her cheek this time and running a hand through her hair. "It's good for my rep, anyway. I plan on telling people I was in a wicked bar fight and kicked some serious ass."
Rachel smiled a bit at that, which I thought was the most beautiful fucking thing ever, until she started laughing softly a few seconds later. Nope, I thought. That was the most beautiful thing ever. She squeezed my hand, obviously feeling a little better, and said, "Oh, so you're not even going to give me the credit for it?"
Kurt and I both cracked up at that before I asked, "Do you want the credit for it?"
Kurt then jumped in saying, "It would certainly solidify your diva status."
"Yeah," I agreed, squeezing her hand back, "we can take pictures and once you hit it big time and get your first shitty assistant, you can show the pics and be like, 'This is what happened to the last girl who messed up my coffee order.' That'll scare the shit out of the idiot."
"But my coffee would most likely always be perfect afterwards," Rachel said with that same soft smile. We all just laughed together as I slid my arm under Rachel's back to help her sit up a little better and hugged her close to me. She surprised me then when she leaned into my touch and rested her head on my shoulder.
Again, I didn't give a shit if Kurt was watching, and trust me, he was watching, those beady calculating eyes darting back and forth between us again and a small smirk gracing his lips. I just rolled my eyes and turned my head so that I could bury my face in Rachel's hair and quietly whispered, "Better?"
She squeezed my hand tightly and I felt her nod against my shoulder, and that was all I needed.
My knees bounced rapidly, my nerves like live grenades about to blow at any minute, as I sat in a hard plastic chair next to Rachel's wheelchair. Rachel's dads were sitting on the other side of her, both looking just as unsettled as I was feeling. Rachel's hand was in my lap, her fingers laced through mine and her grip like fucking death, but I didn't blame her, nor did I ask her to ease up. I could only imagine what was going through her mind in that moment. She had to be terrified, nervous, nauseous, and everything in-between.
We'd only been waiting a few minutes, having just gotten to the station, but those few minutes felt like years and the laughter that Rachel and I had shared with Kurt just a few hours earlier now felt like fucking light-years in the past. It didn't take long for the detective to come and greet us, though, which I guess was a good thing if you approached the whole situation with that "the sooner we start, the sooner it's over" kind of mindset, but I was more on the side of "I wish we didn't have to do this shit at all." I was thankful that I had already given my account of everything and wouldn't have to again, but my heart was breaking for Rachel. She was going to have to relive every moment she could remember of the attack. I just wanted to scream, and part of me really wished that I could do it for her, even though I didn't want to talk to anyone about what happened. I still would do it for her if I could.
The detective shook all of our hands, and I was surprised to hear that she actually remembered my name from when we met at the hospital; then again, I'm sure she had it written down in Rachel's file. Her eyes lingered on my jaw again, but she didn't ask about it, which I was grateful for, because explaining that shit to Rachel's dads had been enough for a day. She then said she was ready to take Rachel back for her interview, and when she said that I couldn't go with her, I nearly passed out. My stomach bottomed out like there was a fucking earthquake inside me, and when Rachel squeezed my hand even harder to the point that I was afraid she might break some of my fingers, I knew that she was going through pretty much the same experience as me in that moment. We hadn't really been separated since the attack, and I wasn't entirely sure that Rachel could get through this interview without me, but I guessed she was just going to have to try, because the detective wasn't budging—some shit about protocol. The only person who was allowed to go back with her was Hiram because he was also Rachel's lawyer. I just hoped that he'd be able to provide her with enough strength and support to get her through it.
After a few minutes of us just sitting there in complete silence, I literally heard Rachel gulp as she peeled her fingers away from mine, pain coursing through my hand where she'd been gripping it tightly. Hiram pushed her forward in her wheelchair, and Rachel and I shared one last look before they rounded the corner and were out of my sight. My knees bounced even faster once Rachel was out of sight and Leroy must have noticed, because he instantly took Rachel's place, scooting his chair next to mine and wrapping an arm around my shoulders.
How the hell was I going to just sit here for who knows how long with no clue of how Rachel was doing, if she was okay, if she needed me?
I didn't have to wait long, though, because less than five minutes after she and Hiram disappeared around the corner, I heard Rachel's voice yell out, "No!" from somewhere down the hall.
As soon as I heard her, I didn't even think. I just acted, instantly shooting out of my chair and sprinting down the hall where I could see Rachel holding onto a wall to keep from being pushed any further forward. "No, I'm sorry. I can't. I just can't. I need…I need S-Santana. I need Santana," she said in a panic and I could hear the tears already forming in her throat, making her words and voice thick.
"I'm here," I said as I rushed up to her, pushing past Hiram and the detective and dropping to a squat in front of her. Her cheeks were wet and her eyes were wide and panicked with just the mere thought of having to relive everything. "I'm here," I repeated, slipping my hands into hers. "It's okay."
"I'm sorry," the detective interjected, "but you can't be in the room while she gives her interview."
"Well then what the hell do you suggest because she obviously doesn't want to do it without me?" I snapped at the lady, because really? Could she not fucking see how scared Rachel was?
"Is there not some sort of compromise we can make?" Hiram asked.
The detective sighed heavily, which only irritated me more, but then she nodded and said, "The best I can do is to allow Santana to observe the interview from behind the glass. You won't be able to see her, Rachel, but she will be able to see and hear you. Would that work?"
Fresh tears slipped down Rachel's cheeks as her gaze locked with mine and I heard a small whimper just barely escape her throat, which told me that it definitely would not work. I knew, though, that that was the best we were going to get, so it was just going to have to be enough. "Hey," I said to her softly, "we can do that, okay? You won't be able to see me, but I'll be watching and listening and if you get scared or if you feel like you can't keep going, just look at the glass. I'll tap it to remind you that I'm there, okay? I promise I'll be there with you every step of the way."
Her eyes bore into me as she seemed to consider my words for a long time before she finally just squeezed my hands and nodded. I smiled softly at her and squeezed her hands in return. I then nodded to Hiram who, in turn, nodded to the detective, and we all walked down the hallway together, making our way to the dreaded interview room.
I stood silently behind the two-way glass watching Rachel nervously fidget in her wheelchair on the other side. The detective was gentle with her and kind, which I appreciated, but it did nothing to settle the constant churning in my gut. Not even I knew what had actually happened to Rachel in the alley that night, and I wasn't entirely sure that she remembered much of it, but the thought of hearing it now just felt…I don't even know how it felt. There weren't any words for the feeling. All I knew was that I didn't like it.
The detective went through the routine shit first—state your name for the record, your age, where you were at the time of the attack, blah, blah, blah—and then she got right to the meat of it, and that's when my stomach completely flipped and roared until I had to swallow several times just to push down the bile that kept rising in my throat. Rachel's tears were endless as I watched her take in the detective's words and swallow down several heavy breaths. God, I just wanted to fucking hold her through it, and it was killing me that I couldn't.
"Okay, Rachel," the detective said softly, "I know that this is going to be difficult for you, but I need you to try and be as detailed as possible. If there are things that you can't remember, that is fine. Just tell me everything you remember, starting from just before the attack and on."
I watched as Rachel's mouth opened and closed several times, her eyes clenching shut before opening again, and I just knew she wasn't going to be able to get through it. But just then, her eyes shot to the glass as if she could see me behind it, and my reaction was instantaneous. I tapped three times on the glass, and it was like fucking magic—beautiful in that moment, because as soon as Rachel heard the tapping, her body visibly relaxed and my heart swelled in my chest.
It was like every bit of strength I was channeling her way just washed over her and her eyes took on a steely stare as she set her shoulders and began to talk. Her voice trembled, but she was strong, and I was just so fucking proud of her in that moment that I could feel it in every part of me.
"I was going to meet Santana for dinner and I was running a bit late so I was hurrying," she said nervously. "I was only a couple of blocks from the restaurant, and I had my phone out because I was texting Santana to let her know I was nearly there, when I heard him as-ask me-"
She stumbled a bit in her words and her eyes shot up to the glass again. I tapped three times and watched as she breathed a heavy sigh of relief before pushing forward. "I heard him ask me if I could spare some ch-change. I didn't see him at first, but when he called out to me, I saw him in the alley. He was leaning against the wall just inside the alley and he was holding out a cup. I th-thought he was h-homeless. I thought he n-needed help."
She was openly stuttering now, which was something Rachel Berry never did, and I didn't even wait for her to look to the glass. I just reached up and tapped it three times, and her eyes instantly shot toward the sound. "You're doing great, Rachel," I heard the detective say and all I could think was that it should have been me in there encouraging her. "Just keep going."
My stomach only twisted further, but this time I couldn't stop it. I quickly turned and grabbed the trashcan just off to my left and vomited into it. Oh god, how the fuck was I going to get through this? Rachel hadn't even gotten to the bad stuff yet, and I already felt like I was going to fall apart. I straightened up as quickly as possible to lock my gaze on her again, swiping the back of my hand across my mouth, because there wasn't time for me to be weak. Rachel needed me to be strong for her, and that's what I was going to be, even if I had to fucking throw up a hundred times to get through it with her. Another detective who was watching the interview with me patted my shoulder, but it didn't help. Nothing was going to help.
"He was kind of in the shadows, so I couldn't really see his face, but his clothes were dirty, and I-I felt bad for him, so I took a few bills from my purse to put in his cup. I had to get a bit close to him, just inside the alley, to give him the money, but when I pushed the bills into the cup, he…he g-grabbed me," Rachel told her, tears still streaming down her cheeks and I could see that Hiram's cheeks were wet, too. I felt a small splash on my arm, and that's when I realized that I was crying as well. Fuck…
"I didn't really have time to react. I think I was in sh-shock. He jerked me forward and shoved something in my mouth, a-a r-rag or something. I…I think I dropped my phone. I don't remember. He dragged me into the alley, and I tried…I tried to sc-scream around the rag, but he told me not to."
"He spoke to you?" the detective asked, jumping in as she jotted something on a notepad in front of her. "Can you remember specifically what he said to you?"
A soft sob wrenched up from Rachel's throat, and an identical one slipped from mine as new tears spilled down my cheeks and I ached for her. I hated myself in that moment, because all I could think was why the fuck couldn't I have gotten to her sooner? Why did I wait around at that damn restaurant for twenty fucking minutes?! I could have…
And then I was retching into the trashcan again while that other detective patted my back. When I was done he handed me a handkerchief which I wiped my mouth with before wadding it up in my fist and clenching it tightly. I watched Rachel like a hawk, my heart beating so fiercely in my chest that I was afraid I might just collapse or black out at any minute. Her eyes shot up to the glass again and I practically banged on it this time, three hits, which seemed to comfort her still despite the considerable amount of extra force I'd used.
She nodded to the detective as she wiped at her eyes. The detective slid some tissues to her across the table, which she took with a quiet "thank you." She blew her nose and cleaned her face even though her tears were still coming. "Yes, he said, 'If you try to scream again, I'll kill you. If you fight me, I'll kill you. If you try to run, I'll kill you. Got it?'"
It was amazing that Rachel remembered everything that bastard had said to her verbatim, but then again, it was Rachel Berry. She'd been memorizing song lyrics and play scripts since she was a toddler, and this…this would be even more embedded in her mind. It probably would be for the rest of her life. It definitely would be for the rest of mine.
"So, you stopped fighting?" the detective asked softly, still scribbling on her notepad, but making sure to keep eye contact with Rachel in an effort to try and make her feel more comfortable, I guess. Her back was to me, but I could read her body language and the way Rachel's own gaze would lock on her.
"Yes," Rachel whispered quietly as if she was ashamed of it, even though she shouldn't be. She whimpered again, and I instantly tapped the glass, which again, seemed to help. "I—I didn't want to t-test him."
"That's okay, Rachel," the detective told her, and I watched as Hiram, cheeks thoroughly soaked, placed an arm around Rachel's shoulders to try and comfort her. Again, I could only think that it should be my arm around her. It should be my words in her ears.
"H-he threw my purse on the ground and dragged me back behind a dumpster. I could sm-smell the garbage, but I couldn't r-really see very well. It was getting dark and there were sh-shadows. He shoved me against a w-wall…"
Rachel was practically hyperventilating at this point, and so was I. My knees were shaking and my palms were drenched. I could see the fear on every inch of Rachel's face, and I just wanted to make it go away. Her chest heaved rapidly and I was afraid she was going to pass out, so I quickly tapped on the glass, which seemed to help a bit, but not as much as she needed. Hiram squeezed her shoulders and told her to try to calm down and breathe. It took several minutes, but she finally calmed down a bit, and though I was relieved, I was already bracing myself for the next part of her story.
"He shoved me against a wall," she repeated, her voice a bit steadier now, though her face was still riddled with fear, "and when he did, he let go of me for a minute. I couldn't see him, but I heard him unbuckle his belt, and I just…I panicked."
My stomach fucking bottomed out again, because I knew exactly what was coming just from those few words and from what I'd seen and heard at the hospital not long after. I dry-heaved a bit, my head hanging over the trashcan, but nothing came out, and I quickly forced myself to pull it together and pay attention in case Rachel needed me.
"All I could think was that he was going to…" A guttural sob wrenched up from her throat and tore through her lips as she gasped out, "…he was g-going to r-rape me, and I was just sc-scared. I was s-so scared. I p-panicked. I tried to run, and he p-punched me in the stomach. H-he just k-kept punching me until m-my knees gave out."
Rachel took a great gasping breath as tears ripped hard and fast from her eyes. Anger surged through every part of my body and I just wanted to find that mother fucker and tear him limb from limb. I wanted to make him suffer, to watch him fucking suffer for what he'd done to her. Rachel's eyes shot to the glass again and I couldn't help but cry out loud as I saw the pain in those deep, chocolate pools. I beat the glass again, wishing I could just fly right through it and be with her.
Rachel stared into the glass for what seemed like hours, and she didn't know it, but her eyes were locked right on mine. I just kept tapping the glass, never stopping until she was able to breathe again. I watched her take it in raggedly, but it helped. Her shoulders drooped from where they had been tensed and drawn together and I knew that it had to have hurt, because the stab wound to her shoulder had been deep. God, this was so fucked up. Like it wasn't enough for her to have to live it already; she had to basically live it all over again. It was necessary, yeah, to catch the fucking bastard…but still…it just sucked.
I wish I had a more accurate word than sucked, but there wasn't one. No word could even come close to how horrible this was.
"The last time he punched me," Rachel continued after she was able to calm herself down enough to talk, and her voice was surprisingly steady, "I guess my breath loosened the rag and I screamed because it hurt. Every part of me hurt."
"And that angered him?" the detective asked, passing more tissues across the table.
Rachel nodded, and I wasn't prepared for the next words that came out of her mouth, because when they did, I was instantly retching into the trashcan again. "He shoved the rag back in my mouth until I choked, and that…that was when he st-stabbed me the first time."
"I didn't even…I didn't know h-he had a kn-knife. It burned…when it w-went in my stomach. It b-burned like fire, and I r-remember thinking then that I wasn't g-going to make it out of there a-alive."
The detective beside me had an arm around me now, and I had to lean into him just to keep from collapsing, because my legs just weren't holding me anymore. I sobbed openly, because this was just too fucking much. There was a hopelessness in Rachel's voice, in her eyes, that ate right through my flesh and tore at my soul. She sounded so small, so afraid, and it hit me like a thousand needles all over my body. I hadn't felt that sick since the night in question, since I'd found her lying there in the aftermath of the attack, naked and bleeding to death.
"I m-must have passed out after that, b-because the next thing I remember was waking up with him on…on t-top of me. I remember thinking it was c-cold. S-so cold. And that was when I realized that I was n-naked. He'd t-torn my clothes and my st-stomach and my shoulder were on fire. I didn't know h-how many t-times he'd stabbed me at that p-point. I j-just felt wet and c-cold. I c-could feel my blood, and then he…he...oh god."
As soon as those words left her lips, she bent as far as possible to the side and vomited onto the floor. I tried to push my way to the door that led into the interview room, but the detective with me held me firmly in place. He rubbed my back and repeated over and over that everything would be okay, that Rachel would be okay, but he didn't fucking know anything! He didn't know how much she needed me, how much I needed her. Nobody knew; nobody but Rachel and me.
When she finally finished emptying her stomach, the detective handed her some tissue and said, "Perhaps we should take a break."
"NO!" Rachel practically shouted, her fist slamming into the table and her eyes clenching tightly shut as tears pushed through her lashes. My heart was doing all it could to try and rip through my fucking chest at that point, just trying to get to her. I tapped incessantly on the glass, and she looked up, our eyes locking through the glass even though she didn't know it, but somehow, I felt like she could feel it. "I can do this," she said, her teeth gritted together and her chest heaving.
"Okay," the detective said, nodding. "Okay, Rachel. Just take your time, then. Whenever you're ready."
Hiram hadn't said a single word the entire time, and I couldn't really blame him. He looked like he might throw up, too, at any minute. I could only imagine what it must be like for him to be hearing all of this, too. This was his daughter; his little girl.
"He pushed into me," Rachel growled out, still gritting her teeth as if she was forcing the words out, and I knew that she was. It was the only way she could get through it at that point. "I could feel his breath on me, hear him grunting and p-panting. He smelled like al-alcohol and cigarettes. I j-just kept thinking that I was never going to s-see my fr-friends again or my dads. It f-felt like I was dying. I m-must have passed out again, b-because one minute he w-was inside me," she growled out again, and my stomach rolled at the word inside, "and then I w-was in San-Santana's arms."
I cried out loud as my name slipped across her lips in a stutter, and I just wanted to wrap around her and never let go. I tapped the glass to remind her that I was still there with her, and she took a heavy breath before finishing by saying, "She was t-talking to me, but I couldn't un-understand her, and then I w-was in the hospital."
Rachel's entire body went limp when she finished those lost few words, and the sigh that left her sounded like her fucking soul leaving her body. I completely tuned the detective out after that, my eyes fixed so fiercely on Rachel that the rest of the room just seemed to blur and disappear around me. I saw her lips moving as she answered a few more questions for the detective, but then she was shaking hands with the woman, and the next thing I knew, I was blasting through the door to that interview room and all but launching myself at Rachel's crying form.
I dropped into a crouch beside her wheelchair and pulled her into my arms the best I could without hurting her or aggravating her wounds. She cried openly into my shoulder and I cried openly into hers. We just held each other like that for a long time, even after the detective left the room with Hiram to discuss further details of the case.
"I'm so sorry, Rachel," I sobbed out. "I should have been there sooner. I should have gotten there sooner."
My heart was fucking exploding in my chest as I poured it out to her in words and apologies. I felt her shake her head against my neck, though, and she quickly pulled back from the embrace. She cupped her hands around my cheeks, looked me directly in the eyes, and said, "You have nothing to be sorry for, Santana. You saved my life."
I only lost it harder when she said those words and we wrapped around each other again as much as we could with her in that chair. I didn't even realize what I was doing as I planted kisses all along her neck, her jaw, her cheek, and in her hair. I felt her hands slip up to cup around my face again, a slight bit of pain biting in my bruised jaw as she pressed a little too hard, but I didn't fucking care, because it was Rachel, and I just wanted to be with her. I wanted her to touch me. Her touch was what kept me grounded.
She then gently ran her fingers along the bruises on my jaw before pressing her lips to that very spot and whispering, "Thank you for being here with me."
I leaned forward and rested my forehead gently against hers and we stayed that way, silent and together, until her father returned to take us home.