Everybody looked at her nervously. They had all gotten up to form a circle around the Latina, a circle of dusty, tired people, standing in the middle of the ruins of a mall basement.
Santana was still looking down breathing heavily, until Frank asked her the question they all wanted to know.
"So… Is there another way out?"
At that, Santana slowly lifted her head to be able to look at the group. She was still catching her breath.
"Yeah…", she said breathily, almost a sigh as it left her mouth, "Yeah, I think I might have found another way."
As the last words left her mouth, her lips curled up just a little bit. "I think we might have another chance to find us some stairs."
The others started smiling now as well, and gave some kind of breathy chuckles, clutching their hearts.
Quinn felt like a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders as well.
We could still have a chance… We're not dead yet!
They all came together a bit, smiling and laughing with relief, hugging each other happily. Their laughter grew louder as they started patting each other on the shoulder. Quinn also threw herself in the arms of some others, just happy to still have a chance.
"Guys?" Santana was trying to get their attention again. "I don't want to burst your happy bubble, but I think I'll just have to do it."
They all calmed down a bit, worried about what Santana was going to say next.
"So, there is a small way through the rocks that we can squirm ourselves through. If we do, we'll get to the left corridor that hopefully will lead to the staircase that leads outside. It won't be easy to get to that other hallway, but we should be able to manage getting that far. I just want you guys to be realistic though: there is still a possibility that that way will be blocked as well."
The others hung their heads down again, knowing Santana was right. It can never be easy, they could still die. The odds of the other staircase being completely open were almost inexistent and –
"But…", Santana went on, "even if that happens again, I'll find a way."
Quinn looked up at the small Latina. The two of them locked eyes. Quinn saw the fierce look in the other girl's eyes, her determination, and something else she couldn't quite put her finger on.
"I promise you all, I'll get you out of here. No matter what, you will live."
They all fell silent again. This girl… They should've known that that type of promise was almost impossible. They knew that the odds of them getting out of there were minimal.
But if she said it, they believed her. If there was someone who could pull this off, it was her.
"Santana…" Frank was looking at her with tears in his eyes and made to go and hug her.
Santana put her HBIC-face on and quickly shrugged him off.
"Oh hell no, you ain't gonna get sappy with me now, are ya Frank? I was just stating a fact, and it doesn't mean I like you now. I can still go ALL Lima Heights on your ass. And that goes for all of you."
She glared across the room, her arms crossed. Instead of being afraid though, this time the others almost laughed at it. She wasn't their saviour when she was like that, just… Santana.
"So, get your stuff and let's get the hell out of here! Naptime's over!"
Quinn smiled at the feisty girl. She knew the Latina was really starting to like their little survival-group, even if they were seriously high maintenance.
But I'm pretty sure she likes me the best…
Quinn's smile got bigger as she thought that, staring at the Latina again. She was caught however, and her loving smile was caught by Santana, who looked away quickly, obviously blushing furiously.
Quinn quickly checked herself. A loving smile, seriously? It's really way too early to talk about love. I mean, sure, I like her… A lot. And the thought of losing her is just… no. And she's sweet, and tough, and gorgeous, and those lips are just – Oh my god I'm falling for her. I am seriously falling for her! What-do-I-do-what-do-I-do-what-do-I-do?
She looked up to see Santana helping Fran up on Frank's back again, and apparently informing them about something. She sighed a bit.
What shouldn't I do? I like her, I think she likes me too, and we could be dead in no time… It's like Madame blablablah said, this is my chance.
She smiled to herself as she saw Santana come over.
"You ready, Q?", Santana asked, putting her left hand on the girl's wrist.
Quinn took Santana's hand in her own and smiled at the brunette. The latter couldn't help but smile back.
"Definitely. I trust you, San."
Santana smiled and blushed at this, before her eyes went a bit sad.
"I wish I could say the same.", she whispered, hardly loud enough for Quinn to hear, and the girl couldn't say anything about it anyways, because Santana was already pulling her toward the wall of rubble that was blocking their path.
She let go of Quinn's hand after the blonde shot her an encouraging smile, and started crawling up a part of the wall, pointing with her phone's light.
"Okay, so you see this hole here?" There was a small dark part between the regular wall and the rubble that should just about be able to fit one person at a time.
"We should all be able to crawl through here. You just have to stick close to the wall, then you'll feel the corner of the hallway. Just follow it until you're at the other side. The tricky part is to get down at the end, but if I go first, I'll be able to help you all down, okay?"
They all nodded, a bit nervous now. This wasn't going to be easy, but they weren't going to back down now. It was their only chance, and they would definitely take it.
Santana gave some last pointers to the wounded, to make sure they all got through alright, and then she took of first. Quinn saw the girl disappear through the gap and couldn't help but feel like she had lost the girl again.
Wow, abandonment issues already, really?
She sighed to herself as she climbed halfway up the rubble to be able to help Fran up; they had decided that the wounded ones would be helped through first, and for Fran especially it wouldn't be easy to get through this thing.
When finally it was Quinn's turn to go through, she was already starting to get pretty nervous as well. She had heard some shouts coming through the gap, usually Frank's voice was heard loudly from the other side, and Quinn was getting kind of worried about this entire idea. Besides, small spaces weren't exactly her favourites either.
After a deep breath she pulled herself through the hole, and was immediately surprised by how cramped it was in there.
How the hell did Fran get through here? Seriously! Drop me from in an elevator again, just not in this freaking hell-hole, like, literally!
When she was able to squirm herself through to the corner, she felt the passage get even more narrow, and because of the darkness she couldn't see where she was or where she was going.
"Oh god…", Quinn whispered, her breathing getting shallow and rapid. "Oh god oh godohgod-"
She just froze to the spot, breathing heavily, not knowing where to go, not even remembering where the hell she had come from. Her body was shaking all over, and tears were starting to fall from her face, when suddenly she heard a rustling come from somewhere to her right. Or was it her left?
"Hey…" She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked to her right. Even though she couldn't see anything, just the smell of the girl sitting so closeby indicated to her who was next to her.
Santana had noticed that the blonde took way longer than the others to get out of the gap, and had been seriously worried. Not that she would show it to anyone, though, of course.
Should I be worried? She's been in there for a really long time now. Keep your cool, Lopez, she's not a kid, she can take care of herself! Maybe I should just go and take a look. A look won't hurt, will it?
By this time she was almost jumping up and down. Frank was glaring in her direction and made way to come and talk to her about something she really didn't want to talk about, so she made up her mind right away.
"I'm going to check up on Quinn for a bit guys, she seems to be taking a long time there. Take a breath, see you in a bit."
She quickly hurried back onto the rubble, into the gap, leaving behind a sighing Frank.
As she made her way back through the narrow path, she heard Quinn's sobs getting closer, and as she made to sit next to her, she felt the girl's body shaking violently as well.
"Hey", Santana said as she put a hand on the blonde's shoulder.
The terrified girl stopped her sobbing a bit when she noticed who was sitting next to her.
"I'm sorry…" was the first thing she blurted out through her sobs.
Santana frowned. She didn't understand where this was coming from.
"You're sorry, Quinn-", she tried to find the girl's face with her hand, and as she did she tilted it to try and make the girl look at her.
"Quinn, at least try to look at me.", she joked, hoping it would calm the girl at least a bit.
When she heard the girl chuckle lightly, she knew that had at least somewhat worked. She kept stroking the girl's cheek as she began talking in on her.
"So, why the hell would you be sorry? It's not your fault that this place is so damn narrow and dusty and just freaking dark."
She could feel Quinn smile now underneath her hand, although the girl did let her head hang a bit more at the question as well.
"It's just… Our talk earlier, and our promise."
Santana really didn't get it anymore now. "You mean my promise to get us all out of here? Look, I know it's a bit pretentious of me, but I swear…"
"No!", Quinn quickly interjected, "No it's not that… Well maybe a bit, but no!"
Quinn felt tears sting at her eyes again. "It's just… God, It's just so unfair! I'm afraid of this freaking small space, and I'm not even hurt, and here I am and I can't even keep going! I'm the weakest weakling of this entire place!"
Santana engulfed the girl in an awkward hug – the space was still too narrow to move around a lot.
"Relax, Q, that doesn't' matter. Everyone has something they're afraid of doing, you have the right to let go and be weak sometimes and-"
"No, San, no! You have the right to let go and be weak sometimes! You probably also have something you're afraid of doing. And I know-", she continued as she felt Santana start the counter – they were so close now she didn't need to see the girl to know when she was frowning –
"I know we talked about this earlier and that you don't have a choice, but I did promise you that I would take care of you! I was too afraid to do so earlier, when we thought we didn't have a way out, but even then you ended up protecting me! And now here we are again, and again you're the one who is forced to take care of me! So tell me, Santana, how is that fair?"
Santana was silent after that, and just hugged the girl even harder. Quinn leant into the embrace, leaning her head against Santana's shoulder.
"Nobody is forcing me", Quinn felt the voice come from Santana's body rather than hearing it. She put her head up a bit to be able to 'look' the girl in the eyes as good as she could, waiting for an elaboration.
She heard Santana sigh a bit as she began to explain, her head down so as to not have to be seen by Quinn, even in the dark.
"I just… Nobody is forcing me to care for you, Quinn. Maybe I'm not supposed to care for the others, fine, and you could call that forced, but for you I just… care. It's just… something about you I guess."
Her voice had turned to a complete whisper at the end, but Quinn could understand every word of it and felt her heart beat rapidly. She placed her hand under the suddenly shy Latina's chin and lifted her head up again. She stroked her hands a little higher, finding Santana's lips and brushing over them with her thumb. As she found them, she leaned in closer, bridging the already small distance between them to kiss the other girl.
Santana was too surprised to answer at first, but after a few moments her mind understood what was happening and she kissed the girl back sweetly. Her hands crept their way up to the other girl's neck, pulling her closer, when-
"Guys? Are you okay in there?"
They pulled back, gasping for air as they came back to reality. Santana was the first one to regain her senses.
"YEAH COMING! Jeez…"
She sighed deeply and turned back to Quinn.
"We should probably…"
"Yeah, let's go."
They crawled on to the end and were met with Frank's head looking suspiciously through the gap.
"What the hell g-"
"She got stuck Frank, that's all! Stop freaking out, will ya?"
Santana was obviously pissed, but as they made their way down the steep pile of rubble, Quinn wasn't sure whether it was at the fact that she had kissed her or at Frank.
When they got down, though, she made eye contact with Santana, and as the other girl smiled lovingly, followed by an angry glare at Frank, she knew that they were good. Maybe a talk later would make it even better, but for now, they were good.
As the last person finally came through the hole, Santana was almost raring to go and get away from Frank's suspicious looks.
"Alright everyone, one obstacle taken, only about a million more to go! Keep checking those cell phones, let's go!"
She started walking first, the others following right behind her. Quinn wanted to hurry and walk next to the brunette, when she was stopped by a hand on her wrist.
It was Frank. "Hey, Quinn, can we talk? It's about Santana."