A/N: Hello everyone. I just wanted to thank everyone who has read and reviewed, favorited, and followed this story. It truly means more to me than I can say. I hope you all continue to enjoy! XO-Chrmdpoet
Chapter Six: To Be A Hero
After what felt like hours of just sitting in the waiting room wrapped around each other, shaking like leaves desperately trying to hang onto their branches, Quinn and I were snapped out of our daze by a young doctor. When he came into the waiting room, glancing around at the few people scattered about, I instantly knew he was there for us. I'm not sure how I knew. I guess it was just a feeling, but I couldn't stop that twisting in my gut as I waited for him to say something, anything.
"I'm looking for the family of a Rachel Berry," he announced to the room, and I felt Quinn stiffen beside me before she slowly raised her hand to signal to him that we were the family he was looking for. He frowned a bit, I guess confused as to why there were only two teenaged girls waiting, before walking over to us. I watched as his eyes tracked over my body, taking in the blood and the grime before he seemed to snap out of it and finally said, "I was asked to keep you updated on Miss Berry's condition, and as of right now, she is still in surgery and most likely will be for a few more hours, at least. Unfortunately, that's all I have for you right now, but I will come out periodically to keep you updated, okay?" We nodded and he finished by saying, "In the meantime, the cafeteria is just two floors down if you're hungry, and there is a gift shop on the first floor with a few clothing options if you'd like. I'll speak with you both soon." He gave me a soft smile before nodding and turning to leave.
We sat together in silence again, just mulling over everything. I felt dead…just completely and utterly dead. My body was heavy and exhausted and aching for sleep, but I couldn't allow it. I couldn't close my eyes, because I was terrified of the images I might see or of not being awake if something happened. My mouth and throat felt dry and itchy, aching every time I tried to swallow, and my face felt painfully tight from the massive wash of dried tears that had caked into whatever makeup was left on my face. I could only imagine how I must look—like complete hell, which I guess was pretty fitting considering that that's what I felt like and that that's exactly what I'd been through.
I sighed heavily just as I felt Quinn rub my arm and turn toward me. When I looked up at her, her face was ghostly white and her eyes were reddened and watery. She tried to smile at me, but it looked more like a grimace and I certainly couldn't blame her. I squeezed her hand affectionately, and that was when she finally broke the silence.
"Come on, Santana," she whispered. "Let's find a bathroom and get you cleaned up, okay?" I just nodded and let her pull me up from the plush comfort of my chair. As soon as I was on my feet, though, my knees gave out and I toppled into her. My body was lead, and I couldn't lift it. Every little movement took more effort than I had to give. Quinn caught me easily though, slipping one of my arms around her shoulder and letting me lean on her as we followed the directional signs leading to the restroom.
When we stumbled through the swinging door into the restroom, Quinn led me over to the sinks and I leaned heavily on one as she wetted several paper towels and began to wash my face. New tears slipped from my eyes as I watched her. She was crying silently as she gently washed the makeup, blood smears, and tear stains from my face before moving to clean my neck and my hands. It took a while to entirely rid my hands of Rachel's blood. It had dried and caked into my skin, so she ran the warm water and scrubbed softly at my fingers, palms, and forearms as she moved them under the water. I don't think I had ever loved Quinn Fabray more than I did in that moment. Her strength was staggering and her affection just made me want to crawl into her and hide from the world, just claim some sort of refuge in the familiarity and comfort of my best friend. I wanted to let her harbor me, but all I could think in that moment, while she washed away the evidence of everything that had happened, was that someone should be doing this for Rachel. Someone should be stroking her soothingly, washing away her pain, and promising her comfort and shelter, and that only broke my heart.
"She was right, you know," I heard Quinn whisper softly. I looked at her, brows furrowed in a silent question, and she only sighed before explaining. "That detective, she was right. You saved Rachel's life." Her voice cracked as she said the words and fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. "You're a hero."
I don't know why, but as soon as the words slipped across her lips, anger flared in my gut and I snapped, "Don't. Don't say that."
She only looked at me sadly before squeezing my hand and saying, "No, Santana. You are." And before I could stop it, that rage ripped up my throat and shook my entire body as it shot through my mouth and I slapped her hands away, screaming, "Stop! Just fucking stop, Q!"
Quinn stepped toward me again, reaching for my hands, but I just pushed her away again. I don't even know why I was so mad, but for some reason, the words just weren't sitting right with me, and suddenly all I could feel was pure, unadulterated fury for all that I had been through that night and all that Rachel had been through, and I just completely broke. "Don't touch me! Just stop!"
"Santana, please—" She started, stepping toward me again, but I just backed away, shaking my head as tears scorched my cheeks. "No!" I screamed. "Don't you get it, Q?! I don't want to be a fucking hero! I shouldn't have to be a fucking hero! This shit…this…"
"Santana," she tried again, but I wasn't hearing it. My heart was racing frantically in my chest and I couldn't stop it. I couldn't calm it. I couldn't fucking breathe.
"No, no, goddammit, NO!" I shouted, my voice echoing madly around the tiled room. "It's not supposed to be this way, Quinn! It's not supposed to be like this! Rachel is NINETEEN, Q! She's just a kid. We're all just kids, and this…it's not supposed to be like this. This isn't supposed to happen to us." My voice broke and trembled as it died in my throat on the last words and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, the cold of the tile seeping through my jeans and freezing my legs as great heaving sobs racked my body and violently stole my breath. In an instant, Quinn was beside me, crawling onto the floor and pulling me into her lap, fiercely wrapping her arms around me. She planted kisses in my hair and rocked me back and forth as she whispered softly to me through her own tears.
"I know, San, I know," she told me, and guilt bubbled uncomfortably in my gut at the way I had pushed her away, had screamed at her, but I knew she understood even if I didn't fully understand it myself.
"Oh god, Q," I moaned as I cried heavily, gripping onto her as I trembled in her arms. "So m-much. There was so much fucking b-blood, Q, and she…she…was n-naked and…and she fucking…she t-tried to d-die on me, Q. I c-couldn't…I couldn't…I d-didn't know wh-what to do. Quinn, I d-didn't know…" I didn't even know what words were spilling from my own lips because my head was a riddled mess of haunting pictures, flashing and flickering and taunting me until I wanted to claw at my fucking eyes and at my chest and just rip out my own heart so that I wouldn't have to feel this way. I just wanted it to go away. I just wanted…I just wanted to go back to before, before all of this. I just wanted to go back to being a fucking kid whose only care in the world was finding a damn job. I just wanted to wake the hell up.
My voice was a ragged mess and my words…hell, I don't even know if they were understandable at that point—just a cluster of stutters and stammers and great, gasping, aching moans, but Quinn just held me. She just rocked me through it, until I could breathe again. As much I loved Quinn for her strength and her comfort in that moment, I couldn't help but wonder when she was going to break. I knew she was trying to keep it together, to stay strong for me, but Rachel was her best friend, maybe even closer to her than I was, and I knew she was hiding her pain and her fear and her own torment. She was hiding her heart, protecting it from her own grief, and I knew…I just knew that she'd break at some point. I just hoped that I would be able to be there for her when it happened the way she was there for me.
But most of all, I just hoped we could both be there for Rachel, in whatever ways she needed us to be, because when all of this really hit her, when the magnitude of it all finally sunk in, she would be wrecked. And Quinn and I? Well…we would have to pick up the pieces and put her back together again.