A/N: Sorry about taking so long! I wanted to write more, but, you know: life.
This isn't the last chapter though, just so you know.
Santana quirked her eyebrow at Quinn's word. They had started walking again a little while ago, the two of them holding hands as they struggled onwards, and after a couple of moments of comfortable silence between them Quinn was the first one to speak again.
"So?" Santana smiled, locking eyes with the blonde, making her smile in return.
"Nothing, it's just that…" She paused again, causing the smaller girl to roll her eyes.
"What is it? Just come out with it, Q, you know you're gonna tell me eventually."
Quinn sighed. "Fine, but… You're seriously going to laugh at me if I tell you this."
"Okay, now I'm curious, what is it?" When Quinn still didn't answer, she squeezed her hand and started walking even closer to her. "What is iiiiit?", she sing-songed in the girl's ear, causing her to chuckle.
"You're crazy you know that, but okay… We've had an elevator crash, we were almost crushed underneath rubble - twice! – we had to squeeze ourselves through a tiny hole, and we constantly had to remember that we might be dying here…" Santana looked shocked at her list, not knowing if she was really going to like whatever came next.
"But, I have to say, so far…" Quinn smiled at the Latina now, "this has been the best first date I've ever had."
Santana's eyes went wide in shock, but her surprise was quickly replaced by loud laughter as she really registered what Quinn had said. Between gasps, she was able to say something back to the blonde.
"Well, Q - *huff, laugh, huff* - I have to say,…" she paused to quickly and softly kiss the other girl's cheek, and whispered, "the feeling's completely mutual."
At that, she turned away blushing as she saw the smile on Quinn's face, but her laughter turned into a heavy coughing fit now, making Quinn frown in concern.
Santana let go of the blonde's hand as she used her left to cover her mouth, gasping for air.
As the coughs were gradually getting less pressing, the Latina looked up teary-eyed to see a bottle of water dangling in front of her. She quickly grabbed it and took a long swig, containing her coughs a bit better.
"Thanks, Q. I needed that one." She smiled at Quinn, obviously still struggling to hold the coughs inside.
"Don't worry about it. What's wrong, though? That didn't exactly sound like a normal cough." The blonde's voice was laced with concern, and her hand went to Santana's face to wipe away a few of the tears.
"Uhm,… Probably the dust I guess… You know, from earlier. I think I pretty much inhaled enough of it to never have to smoke for the rest of my life." She made an attempt at laughing, but Quinn could see by the way her jaw clenched that the smaller girl was still struggling; her breathing was very controlled, and as heavy as it could be without her having to cough again.
Santana saw the worried look on her face and quickly went closer to the blonde, intertwining the fingers of her left hand with Quinn's right again. She smiled sweetly as she made eye contact with the girl, trying her best to mask what was really going on.
"Seriously, Q, stop worrying so much," she said, her voice soft now as she locked her eyes with hazel ones. "It's just a cough, it's not like I'm on the verge of getting killed – again."
She playfully nudged the taller girl's elbow, smiling so brightly at her own joke that Quinn couldn't help but smile along.
"Fine, you're right, I guess. But you're going to a doctor the moment we get out of here, you hear me!"
Santana rolled her eyes. "Yes, mama, I will." She looked around her for a bit, her smiling fading slightly. "I'm guessing we all will…"
They were quiet again, absorbed in their own thoughts. What would be going on in the outside world right now?
They probably think we're all dead, everyone in the mall. Would anyone else have survived? Maybe it was only the basement that was affected?
Quinn looked around her for a bit.
No, that's pretty much impossible Fabray, looked around you today yet? This doesn't just happen to the bottom of a building, but to the entire place. There are probably ambulances and cops all around the place, trying to get people out of the ruins… Rach and Britt, would they still be out there, hoping? Or would they assume… Oh God, no, they don't know I'm still alive! I wish I could let them know I'm okay.
She looked at her cell phone for the umpteenth time that day, hoping for a bar to show up, indicating that she had a signal.
Her eyes were trained on her background picture, when she noticed something.
21u36… Valentine's is almost over… I hope we can get out of here before midnight. Maybe I could still celebrate with Santana a bit… In the hospital.
She chuckled to herself, putting her signal-less phone ahead of her again to light the way.
"Inside joke, huh? Care to share?" Santana was looking at her with an amused expression on her face, one eyebrow up questioningly and a smirk firm in place.
"Yeah, I was just wondering about something…" Santana's brows went up when she paused, indicating for her to go on. "You totally didn't answer my question earlier!"
Quinn was smiling deviously as Santana's brows furrowed in confusion.
"Okay, I've been able to follow your train of thoughts for the past couple of hours, but now you've seriously lost me… Whatcha talking about?"
Quinn grinned. "I'm talking about my question earlier, before we 'found' the first staircase, when I asked you why you were pretending to be invisible when we got in the elevator."
Quinn remembered Santana turning away at the question and hoped to get a reaction out of her now as well. And – bingo! She could see a blush start to spread on her cheeks as she suddenly started walking a bit faster, looking at her feet the whole time.
The blonde grinned even wider at the otherwise so fierce Latina's reaction, and tugged at their still joined hands.
"Come on, Sannie." She smirked as the shorter girl looked shocked at the nickname, but still refused to make eye contact.
"What was that Sannie?" The blonde was really having fun now. They were still walking rapidly, away from the others, and Santana still hadn't looked up, but was mumbling something to the other girl.
"I said, - " Santana came to an abrupt stop, looking into the blonde's eyes defiantly, her head held high, but a blush still very visible on her cheeks. "Imaclosetgeek, okay?"
She had said it very fiercely and made to keep walking, but was held back by Quinn, who locked eyes with her again quickly, an amused smile on her face.
"Sorry, sweetie, but I didn't quite catch that. Care to explain?"
Santana sighed audibly, the self confidence she had earlier fading quickly.
Quinn saw her hesitance and decided she would stop messing with her. She tilted the dark haired girl's chin up with her fingers and smiled sweetly.
"It's okay to tell me, you know. I won't laugh… much."
Santana's face changed into a glare as she said that last part.
"Come on, San, I just meant that you can tell me anything, but with the way you're acting right now, I'm not sure if I'll be able to, you know,… Not laugh at you. But-" she continued as she saw the Latina open her mouth to protest, "- if I do laugh, it's because I like you so much. Okay?"
Santana rolled her eyes, gaining back her confidence, but still trying to look anywhere but in the blonde's eyes.
"Fine… I'm a closet geek." She said it slowly this time, but also very softly, so that Quinn had to lean closer to be able to hear her. "I just,… I come here every week, to the comic store, for, you know, comics and games, and… stuff."
She paused for a bit, and Quinn kept looking at her. So adorkable… She squealed on the inside at her girlfriend's pouty face.
"So, you know, I try to be invisible, 'cause… I mean, seriously." She rolled her eyes nervously. "Being a nerd is so totally not good for my rep, you know. If people I know saw me…" She made a face at the thought, shaking her head, but her movement was quickly interrupted by the feeling of a set of lips on hers.
Quinn couldn't hold herself in anymore at all the cuteness she saw in front of her, and she just went for it. Of course, Santana didn't mind at all.
When they finally calmed down, Santana's arms had ended up around Quinn's neck, and the blonde's hands were still on the Latina's cheeks. They put their foreheads together, breathing heavily (especially Santana).
"Not that I don't appreciate the gesture," Santana chuckled, and Quinn along with her. "But, what was that for?"
Quinn smiled lovingly and pecked the girl softly on the lips again.
"That was because you" kiss "are just" kiss on the nose "too cute!"
She laughed out loud as Santana scowled and gently pushed her away.
"I am not!" She crossed her arms and pouted again. "Hot, maybe, sexy, fine. But cute? Oh, hell no!"
Quinn laughed at her antics, grabbing the Latina's face again and kissing her on the forehead.
"Oh, but you are! You're seriously adorkable!"
"Oh, please tell me you did not just use the word 'adorkable'!"
Quinn laughed even harder, when the rest of the gang caught up with them.
"What's so funny?" Johnny asked it. Wow, I think that's the first time he spoke tonight.
Santana kept looking at Quinn angrily, whilst the blonde was supporting herself with her left hand on a rock, laughing loudly.
"It's just…" She continued laughing, her phone almost slipping out of her hand as she did so. She started calming down as she continued explaining. "Santana is just-"
They didn't know what Santana was, because Quinn suddenly went quiet, her face in shock.
"Q, what's-" They watched the blonde's shocked expression as she looked at her cell phone.
"A bar…" They all went completely silent. "Signal… I have a signal!"
They all went crazy at that.
"Oh my god, don't move!" – "Shit, quick, sent the SOS!" – "Oh my god, let me see,… No wait, don't move, just… Oh my god!"
They were all crazy messes, and looked at Santana to silently ask her what to do.
The Latina scraped her throat. Her heart was beating loudly in excitement as well. "Try and sent the message. You changed it to 12 people and not in the elevator anymore, right?"
Quinn nodded softly, she hardly dared to move a muscle in fear of losing the signal. She swiftly pushed her cell's buttons, and send the message to Rachel, who she was sure had her phone with her most of the time.
The next couple of seconds they were all quiet, waiting for Quinn to say something.
She watched her phone, and breathed out deeply as she saw the icon meaning that her message was sent.
"It got out… Message sent!" She turned to the group smiling, tears apparent in her eyes.
They were all smiling and fought the urge to jump up and down in joy. They dared hope a bit more now.
"Can you… You think you'll get any answer?" Mary asked, her voice shaking with tension.
"I… uh… I'm not sure. The signal is gone now." She moved her phone up and down, waving it above her, but the signal only came back for a few seconds before it went away again.
"Why do you think I suddenly got a signal at all?" She looked at the group asking it, but her question was mostly directed to Santana.
"I think it's because there's less rubble on top of us. I mean, we're heading for the outside staircase now, so with a bit of luck… We're getting close!"
They were all beaming now, and Santana could swear that she was hearing all their heartbeats speed up. Frank was the first to speak up again.
"We should keep going then! I haven't got any signal yet, but as we move on, maybe we will get more!"
They were all nodding, and Santana was very eager to go on as well. She just nodded as well and they all went on their way again, looking out for the door to the staircase that would lead them outside.
They hurried along now, all their fatigue seemed to have left them. Santana breathed heavily as she went on, but she and even Quinn didn't care right now. They all looked at their cell phones every two seconds, hoping for more signal.
Sometimes one of the group stopped, but apparently the signal went away as fast as it appeared, because they hurried along pretty quickly again, without any explanation needed.
"Guys…" They all looked up. Santana had stopped and was looking ahead of them, pointing at a door at the end of the corridor.
"Is that…" The question didn't even need to be finished. The green pictogram on the wide door was very obvious in the light of all their phones, so the group almost ran there. This was their goal, had been since they were trapped in that elevator. And now they were there.
The teens were the first ones to get to the door, and they threw it open, smiling. But their smiles quickly faded. Things could never just be easy.
When the others reached the door, they understood why the teens had paused suddenly, their shoulders slumped. The first flight of stairs was okay, but after that they could all see chunks of concrete and other rubble on the part in between.
They all stopped to look at the rubble, but Santana went on, tugging Quinn with her. They went through the doorway together, the Latina going up as far as she could, taking Quinn up on the first steps.
The others were staring at them from below, looking at Quinn and Santana, the latter continuing up to be able to see what the rest of the stairway looked like.
It was then that they heard a soft music play.
Don't tell me not to live,
just sit and putterLife's candy and
the sun's a ball of butterDon't bring around a cloud
to rain on my parade
Quinn's breath hitched. Rachel!
She quickly reached for her phone, and pressed the answer button with shivering hands.
Everyone was looking at her with big eyes as she picked up the phone. In the complete silence that surrounded them, they could hear the other girl loud and clear.
"R… Rach?" Quinn's voice was shaking slightly, thick with emotion.
"Quinn? Oh my god, Quinn, is that you?"
They all looked on in shock as they heard the first outside voice since they got stuck in the elevator.
"Oh god, Rachel, it's so good to hear you!" Quinn broke into tears, clutching her phone tightly to her ear.
"I can't believe it… I knew you didn't die, I knew it!" Quinn could hear her cry as well, and she just nodded in agreement.
"I told you, Officer, that she wasn't dead!" That was Brittany's voice in the background. Quinn couldn't help but smile at her friends burst. Wait a minute… Officer?
"Rach, are you still around the mall?"
"Yeah, of course! They wanted to send us away, but I wouldn't allow them to do that while you were still in there. And even though they produced a number of facts that were according to them 'evidence' to your death, I knew that you would in fact fight and- But how did you do that when you were in the basement, I-"
"Okay, Rach, wait a minute. Explanations later, I want you to get us out of here now. Pass me the officer."
She could hear Rachel pass on the phone, and some squeals of her and Britt in the background, followed by a heavy voice.
"Hello, Quinn I believe it was? You said in your SOS message that there were survivors in the basement? I'd like you to tell me your location, and status, as well as-"
The cop went into a ramble about what he wanted, and Quinn's confusion must have been very obvious, because Santana went to her side and told her to hand her the phone, to which Quinn gladly obliged.
"Okay, listen up, copper. This isn't the time to use hard words of the police-lingo on us. We're tired, hurt, and seriously hungry. I'll tell you all you need to know, just let me do the talking for now, 'kay?"
The cop murmured a calm "yes, of course" at Santana's words, so Santana went and quickly explained the situation to him.
"Okay, so we've travelled from the elevator we were stuck in to the outer staircase that leads from the basement to the parking lot. We can't go up there, because the upper part of the stairway is blocked by rubble. There's 11 survivors, and pretty much all of them were hurt, so I suggest you bring a couple of ambulances here. Any questions?"
They could all hear the policeman shout instructions around, and were silent until they heard his voice again.
"Got it. Some of my people are starting to clear up the rubble as we speak. I suggest you move downstairs as we work, to ensure your safety."
Santana mumbled something about that so-called safety of his, but did what she was told and joined the others together with Quinn. She looked into the blonde's eyes with her leader-mask on, but Quinn could see she was anxious too, probably about finally getting out. She smiled to herself.
That's our leader alright, working till the end. Didn't think she'd make a mistake though. She should know there's 12 survivors, not 11. The stress must be getting to her too…
It didn't take long before they could hear noises from up the stairs. At first, it was mostly the movement of rubble they heard, but as the work progressed, they could hear people shouting at one another, and even sirens in the background. It seemed surreal to them as they sat there waiting, like sounds from another world.
Suddenly, they saw a bright light come down the stairs, that shone in their faces. It was the most light they had seen since noon.
After that, everything went very fast, but Quinn saw the whole thing almost in slow-motion.
At one point the guy with the flashlight on his head shouted at some other people that "I FOUND THEM!", then others came down as well and helped them up.
Quinn remembered that one of them grabbed her arm, and that she had pulled Santana with her, their hands linked, as the rescue worker led the two of them upstairs.
She remembered the lights on her face that were used to shine on the exit of the stairs.
She saw the rubble around her, the ruins were the mall had once been.
She heard shouting, and saw her two friends behind a police line, shouting, and struggling to get to her.
She let go of Santana's hand for a second, and ran off to her friends.
She glanced behind her to see Santana still standing there, a sad smile on her face.
She noticed other people standing there, and others from her group run towards them.
She hugged Brittany and Rachel, tears of happiness on all there faces.
She remembered turning around to see Frank and Fran already with an ambulance, smiling at her happily but tiredly.
She saw Bill and Mary, the teens, the friends and all the others.
But when she turned to look for Santana, she noticed that the girl wasn't standing there anymore.
Santana was gone…