Quinn looked at Frank in surprise. Why the hell would Frank, of all people, want to talk to me about Santana?
He obviously noticed her scepticism.
"Listen, I know I got off on the wrong start with pretty much everyone in this place, especially Santana. But hear me out okay? Please?"
The look in his eyes was so serious and genuine that Quinn decided to give him a chance. I mean, he even said 'please'. When have you ever heard Frank the Business-Boy say 'please'?
"Sorry, Frank, I guess you're right. Can you blame me though? You've been giving Santana a rough time from the beginning, even though all she ever wanted to do was help."
Frank actually even looked deflated at those words, and hung his head down nodding as they walked on.
"Yeah, yeah I know. But this whole… experience has changed me quite a bit. Santana has changed me quite a bit." His head went up again to look at the woman he had been carrying the bigger part of the time, and who was now on Bill's back. "And helping Fran has just been…"
Quinn smiled as she saw the look on his face. "You really like her, don't you?"
Frank looked at her in surprise at first, but quickly smiled warmly as he noticed that Quinn hadn't meant any harm in saying that.
"Yeah… Definitely. Some Valentine's Day, right?"
They walked on together in silence for a bit, bypassing big parts of concrete again, each in their own thoughts.
Frank was the first to speak after a little while.
"I guess it's the same with us at it is with you and Santana, huh?"
Quinn jerked her head to the side in surprise. How could he-
Frank laughed at the shock in her face.
"Oh, come on, you're not exactly subtle either. The sweet looks, the comforting touches, the smiles… I swear, you're the only person she truly smiles at down here!"
Quinn was laughing with him now. They were pretty obvious, indeed, and down here you couldn't exactly hide anything from anyone. The Frank stopped laughing, and his face became serious again.
"That's actually why I wanted to talk to you about this… Quinn, you're the only one she trusts down here. She has to be strong for all of us, but with you, it feels like she's a bit more relaxed. I can try to talk to her as much as I want, but she won't listen to me. She'll listen to you, though."
Quinn was really starting to get worried at this.
"What do you mean, Frank? Why do you try to talk to her? About what?"
Frank sighed and looked in front of him. The others were already a bit further up ahead, obviously not listening in on their conversation.
"She's hurt, Quinn… Really hurt."
"I know, Frank, I've seen her hand, but I've bandaged it and she-"
"Oh no, I'm not just talking about the hand, Quinn!"
He stopped now, his hand on her wrist, looking her straight in the eye.
"She concealed her hand problem pretty well, I only noticed when I came to get you two earlier, at our first break. I'm talking about her injuries after she… you know, protected you when the ceiling came down on us."
Quinn frowned her eyebrows, getting a bit angry now. "What are you talking about, you said she was fine!"
"She told me to say she was fine! She said nobody should worry about her, and I believed her! She's like our life raft, Quinn, we need her!"
"Yeah, but you need her in one piece!" Quinn was almost shouting now, happy that the others were out of earshot. "We all need her healthy!"
"I know!" He calmed down now and put his head in his hands. "I know. That's why I've been keeping an eye on her since then. Or at least, I've been trying to… She won't let me in, Quinn, she won't show any weakness! All I've been able to discern is that she's been having more trouble breathing than the rest of us, even though at the beginning she was way fitter than anyone."
Quinn calmed down as well now… It wasn't Frank's fault, he's been trying but of course, Santana won't let him help. Santana…
"Quinn, just please… I don't want to lose that girl… And I don't mean as our last hope, I mean, as someone I respect and admire… A friend. Just, please, try and take care of her."
Quinn put her hand on his shoulder, causing him to look up again. "Thanks, Frank, for caring about her. Don't blame yourself for her stupid stubbornness." Frank smiled a bit at that. "I'll do my best to help her."
Frank pulled her in for a quick hug. "Thanks, Quinn.", he whispered, before letting go.
"Anytime Frank.", Quinn smiled, but her smile was quickly replaced by an angry frown. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to have a word with a certain stubborn Latina."
At that, the two of them hurried on, Quinn fuming, Frank just following after her, to where they saw some lights, indicating the group that was waiting for them.
Santana saw them coming and spoke up, her voice filled with concern.
"There you are, what the hell happened that took you so-"
She couldn't even finish her sentence as she was pulled away from the rest by an obviously angry Quinn. She tried to protest, but the girl's grip was so strong, and one look of her told Santana that she shouldn't even try to talk right now.
"Ehm, break-time everyone! Take 5!", Santana shouted, before she was pulled around a big rock, out of the others' sight.
"Quinn, what is-"
"Don't you dare ask me what's wrong, Santana!"
She looked into the Latina's eyes, her anger being met by confusion.
"I had a little talk with Frank, Santana."
She saw the smaller girl's eyes go from confusion to a weird mixture of shock, anger and fear.
"Yeah, oh! What were you thinking, Santana! Why didn't you just tell me you were seriously hurt, I could have helped you! Care for you, remember?"
Santana looked down at this.
"I know, Q, I do, but everyone was lost then. I needed to find a way out, I needed them to trust me, and they can't do that if they think I'm-"
"What? If they think you're what? Human? You don't have to be freaking superwoman to gain their trust! You're not superwoman, Santana!"
"I know I'm not, that's the problem!" Santana had her arms crossed by now.
"Wait, what?" Quinn calmed down at Santana's answer.
"I know I'm not superwoman, I know I'm just some little girl who's trying to be a freaking hero. But that's all I have going for me right now, Quinn! I'm nothing without the image they have of me, I'm nobody! Don't you get it? This image of being superwoman is all I have right now? Who the hell do you think will listen to me if they find out I'm just like them, another small-town loser, doing some stupid office jobs just like everyone else! I can't do anything if I'm me, they won't listen to me, they'll listen to someone who's able to protect them without having any problems herself!"
Quinn was completely baffled now. This girl seriously thinks way too much about others… And way too little of herself.
"Santana…" She put her hands on the girl's shoulders, forcing the brunette to face her.
"Don't put this all on you. I told you before, you can let go sometimes. And don't think you're nobody besides the image everyone here has of you." She cupped the brunette's cheek. "There's so much more to you than you think."
Santana wiped away a few tears, trying hard not to make Quinn notice she was crying.
Quinn wrapped her arms around to girl in a hug, but was surprised when she felt her flinch as she held her tight. She let go quickly.
"Let me see."
Santana was looking away now.
"San, let me see! Please!"
Santana couldn't handle the pleading tone of Quinn's voice, and the concern in the other girl's eyes, so she stepped away from Quinn a little and started unbuttoning her plaid shirt.
Quinn swallowed a bit at first as she saw the girl's naked skin, but quickly got over that when she noticed the way the Latina winced as she had to get her arms from her sleeves, being extra careful with the girl's right hand.
She turned the girl around and took the collar of the shirt, so that she could take it off for Santana. She gasped loudly as she saw the girl's back, the perfect olive skin marred by bruises and scrape wounds. She decided not to get angry at the girl again, though.
"Let's just get you cleaned up now, okay?", she said, taking her bottle and some leftover rags from her backpack. She softly placed her left hand on Santana's shoulder, and gently used the wet cloth to clean out the brunette's wounds, trying hard not to hurt her too much.
Even with all the awful bruising, Quinn still couldn't believe how soft the girl's back was.
I know I shouldn't be thinking this right now, but I really wish I could just keep touching her forever. She's seriously gorgeous.
When she finished taking care of the wounds, she couldn't help but trace her fingers along the Latina's shoulders, caressing the girl's neck as she went. She felt the girl's tension flow away at her touch, as her shoulders visibly relaxed.
Quinn couldn't help herself but place a kiss between the girl's shoulder blades, causing the brunette to roll her neck back, her breathing laboured.
"There, all better…" Quinn whispered softly, smiling into Santana's back.
The Latina chuckled at that. "So, I'm a little kid now, huh?" She smiled as she turned to face the blonde. "With what I'm thinking, I don't think it would be okay for you to be my mom though."
Quinn couldn't help but laugh at that. "Well, shorty, in that case I don't think I even want to know what's going on in your mind."
Santana placed her arms around the blonde's neck, still shirtless, pulling the taller girl's face closer to hers. She whispered huskily: "Are you sure you don't want to know?"
Quinn swallowed hard at that, looking from Santana's eyes, to her lips, to her uncovered upper body. It took a lot of her to focus her attention back to Santana's eyes.
Two can play this game, Quinn thought, as she leaned in, placing her mouth right next to Santana's ear.
"I'm sure, San. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be a good idea for me to tear your clothes off and take you against this rock when the rest of the group is waiting only a couple of feet away."
This time it was Santana's turn to swallow. She pulled Quinn in for a passionate kiss, but just as their lips touched, of course-
"Santana, Quinn? Is everything alright there?"
"WE'RE FINE! God! Freaking cock-block", the Latina mumbled the last part softly, but just loud enough for Quinn to laugh at her.
"Oh come on sweetie, he's just concerned, you know. Let's put your shirt on and get back to them."
Santana pouted at Quinn and looked at her with big puppy eyes as they put her shirt back on.
"Oh no, that's not going to work on me, S. It's not because I said you don't have to be superwoman all the time, that being a baby is the way to go."
Santana didn't relent, and her bottom lip started to quiver as she looked at Quinn pleadingly.
"No, no don't do that." She was completely melting for the Latina now. "Oh, come on, stop it, seriously, I'm just gonna turn my cell phone off and then I won't see you and it won't affect me at all, and… Oh screw this-"
She stopped her rambling and captured the pouty lips between her own, sucking slightly on the – no longer – trembling bottom lip as she did so. When they finally let go, they were both gasping for air; Santana's chest was heaving up and down as she tried hard to control her breathing.
"Satisfied?" Quinn asked, licking her swollen lips.
"Not really", Santana answered, still catching her breath. "But I guess it'll just have to do." She winked as she passed Quinn to get back to the group, noticing the blonde smile and roll her eyes at the same time before she followed as well.
"Okay guys, sorry for the interruption, we should probably get going again, aight? Okay let's go then!"
And without saying anything more, she turned around again, grabbing Quinn's hand as she walked on.
Santana shot the blonde a smile as she intertwined their fingers.
Quinn couldn't help but smile back at her and walked next to the brunette happily, her mind filled with thoughts of the two of them doing the exact same thing on a regular street, not in the ruins of a mall struggling to survive.
To her, the future looked very bright at that moment, and she couldn't help but grin widely, not even noticing how Santana's happy smile had turned into a sad one as they walked on.