Rachel clung to Quinn, willing sleep to come but knowing it wouldn't. It had been weeks since she'd been able to sleep through the night, ever since she witnessed her daddy, Leroy, being mauled by their next-door neighbour. Her dad had tried to stop Mrs. Gould but before he could even take a swing at her she had sunk her teeth into his neck. Quinn had been the one to drag her outside and into her car, though Rachel didn't remember any of it.
Now here she was, in the choir room at McKinley High, in the arms of her former enemy. She sighed and rolled onto her back, giving up on sleep. Quietly, she got up and walked out of the room and into the empty hallway.
She paused when she passed by her old locker, thinking back to the time before. She could hardly remember when the things that plagued her mind were as trivial as 'would Finn remember our anniversary' or 'what songs would be fitting to sing at Nationals'. She snorted to herself and continued walking until she reached the auditorium.
They were lucky they had found the school deserted as it was the perfect place to ride this out. Not that Rachel believed this wasn't the end of the world but they all quietly agreed to keep their gloomy (and realistic) thoughts to themselves. 'Them' being most of the glee kids, a few other students and Mr. Schuester, Ms. Pillsbury and Coach Beiste. Most of the kids there had lost their families and had nowhere else to go.
She turned on the lights and sat down on the edge of the stage. The auditorium had always been a place where she could clear her mind and at least that hadn't changed, for which she was grateful because things hadn't gotten any easier or less confusing. Her relationship with Quinn was a good example. The fact that any one of them could die had changed the way they viewed life and they were prone to living in the moment, which resulted mostly in new relationships (they were still teenagers after all).
Quinn had saved her life and had been by her side constantly all this time. Quinn was the one who held her during the night and Finn was the one snoring and drooling on the other side of the room instead.
Things had changed drastically and she missed her fathers so much. Just thinking about them made tears well up and, since she was alone, she allowed herself to cry. There was no point in pretending to be brave when there was no one around. She covered her face with her hands and let go.
Her dads used to say that letting it all out was the best cure but once she started she didn't know how to stop. She had lost everything and nothing would ever be the same, more of them would die and she wasn't sure she wanted to live in this world.
Arms wrapped around her shoulders and she was pulled against a warm body, her head coming to rest against a shoulder. Comforting words were being whispered into her ear and her tears were being wiped by soft fingertips. All she could do was cling to the soft material of a black t-shirt and hope she would stop crying eventually.
"I-I'm sorry," she said softly after a while, when her tears had finally stopped. She shifted from her position but the arms around her were unyielding. "Quinn?"
"I don't want to let go, Rachel," came the silent response.
Rachel lifted her right hand to touch Quinn's cheek and turned her head to face Rachel. Quinn looked sad; a deep sort of sadness, which had always been there, but had been magnified by recent events, and Rachel understood. She understood the sadness and the loneliness and the pain, and she understood why Quinn didn't want to let go.
"It's okay." Rachel moved her hand and started tracing Quinn's eyebrows. "It's okay," she repeated in a whisper while continuing to map Quinn's features with her fingertips. Quinn closed her eyes and released a soft sigh.
When Rachel traced her fingertip over Quinn's bottom lip her eyes opened again and fixed on Rachel's. Rachel swallowed nervously and dropped her hand to her lap.
Suddenly Quinn surged forward and pressed her lips against Rachel's, soft and unmoving, waiting for the smaller girl to make the next move. Rachel fisted the material of Quinn's shirt and slid her lips over Quinn's, giving the blonde girl the green light to continue. The kiss deepened and before long Quinn found herself on her back, with Rachel on top of her.
"Quinn," Rachel breathed, gazing into Quinn's eyes.
"I need you, Rachel," Quinn said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Rachel felt her heart-rate pick up and she nodded jerkily before capturing Quinn's lips once again.
What they offered each other was comfort, a cure, maybe even love, and it left them both less broken. Santana was the first to notice and oddly enough she started treating Rachel like a friend and they sometimes hung out together when Quinn and/or Brittany were otherwise engaged. The other glee clubbers didn't bat an eye at their newfound closeness, things like that didn't matter as much anymore, except for Finn. Finn had taken up glaring at the girls from afar but they ignored his childish behaviour in favour of enjoying their time together.
Rachel still had nightmares but Quinn had discovered that she could kiss away the bad things. At night, when Rachel lay shivering in her protective embrace, she'd whisper to Rachel and Rachel would fall asleep knowing that Quinn wouldn't let anything bad happen to her.
Finn and Puck didn't return from their supply run. They waited a day before adding their names to the list on the white-board. Rachel quietly guided Quinn into an empty classroom on the second floor and held her as she broke down.
She wasn't jealous; she knew Quinn loved Puck in a way that she couldn't imagine. They had created a life together, they were bonded forever. Tears streamed down her face as she remembered Puck, he had been her self-proclaimed bro and he had looked over her. The idea that he was gone made her tighten her hold on the blonde.
Thinking about Finn was too painful. They had grown apart but part of her would always love him, as a friend, as her first boyfriend, as the boy she had wanted to marry once upon a time.
It wasn't long before Quinn's lips found her own and she found herself pressed up against the wall.
"I love you."
They were on the roof of the building staring up at the star-covered sky, Mike, Tina, Sam, Santana and Brittany with them. It was a warm summer's night and it offered them a bit of normalcy. Santana had found Puck's secret stash of Jack Daniels and they shared it while telling stories about the two boys.
Rachel looked at Quinn, searching for any sign that she hadn't meant it. They were standing a few feet away from the group and they could hear the laughter coming from them.
"Quinn," she sighed.
"It's okay, Rachel. You don't have to say it."
She could hear the sadness in Quinn's voice and she grabbed the front of Quinn's hoodie, making the taller girl look at her. "I can't lose you, Quinn. I can't."
"I'm not going anywhere," Quinn replied softly as she brought her hands up to Rachel's cheeks.
Quinn swallowed, knowing that this was something she couldn't promise but god, she wanted to believe that she could. "I promise."
Rachel's arms snaked around Quinn's waist and she pulled her closer until there wasn't any space between them. She rested her head against Quinn's shoulder and released a content sigh. "I love you, Quinn. So much."
She was gone before Rachel could stop her. They had needed volunteers to go on a supply run and Quinn, along with Santana and Mike, had volunteered.
Quinn had left without saying anything while Rachel was in the kitchen with Tina, Sam, Mercedes and Kurt. Brittany was the one who caught her before she could fall to the ground. Rachel did have a flair for the dramatic but losing Quinn was not an option. She wouldn't survive.
"Hey, she's gonna be fine. You know Quinn's tough as nails, besides; Santana and Mike would never let anything happen to her."
"How can you be so calm, Brittany? Aren't you worried?"
Brittany shrugged. "I'm worried but I know Santana wouldn't leave me."
Rachel wanted to have the same faith in Quinn but she knew it didn't work like that, they were living in a cruel world and she was foolish for believing in happy endings, yet she couldn't stop herself from hoping just a little bit. Tina joined them and they went to sit at the front entrance, waiting for them to return.
Five long hours passed before they saw the black Range Rover speed towards the building.
"Move, out of the way!"
"Santana, what happened?"
"Mike, hold her back!"
"No! NO! Let me go!"
"Rachel, calm down!"
Quinn was lying on a bed in the nurse's station. Santana had stopped Rachel from entering and pulled her into an empty classroom instead.
"Rachel, you need to listen to me," she said softly.
Rachel looked back at her with wide, teary eyes and Santana took a breath.
"We were on our way back from the store when one of them jumped out of nowhere. Mike was too far away to react, so, so Quinn pushed me aside and he got her. Bit her shoulder. I didn't see him, I couldn't... She saved my life."
Tears were streaming down Santana's face as she finished talking. Rachel was trembling, her fist clenched and her lower lip firmly lodged between her teeth. A trickle of blood began running down her chin and Santana bit back a sob. "Rachel," she spoke softly. "Go see her. It-it won't be long."
Rachel left without another word.
Quinn was ashen and the bandage on her shoulder was saturated with blood. Her eyes were open and she watched as Rachel drew closer. Rachel gasped softly when she found herself looking at pale green eyes, growing red around the edges, instead of the hazel she was used to.
She grasped Quinn's hand in her own, ignoring how cold and clammy it was. "Quinn, why..."
"I'm sorry. I know I broke my promise. I-I couldn't let, Santana, Brittany."
Quinn flinched, feeling the virus infect her blood. It burned through her veins and she took a big gulp of air, trying to calm herself. She squeezed Rachel's hand and gasped.
"No, no, don't, Quinn, you can't leave me, you can't!"
Rachel was crying freely now. Quinn wanted nothing more than to comfort her so she sat up, panting heavily, and pulled on Rachel's hand so that she fell into her arms. "I'm so sorry, Rachel. So sorry."
The pain was almost becoming too much and she knew it was a matter of minutes now. She had seen it before, the turning. Rachel had to leave before it happened. Santana had left her a gun and she had every intention of using it before she could become one of them.
"I love you, please don't ever forget that."
Rachel could feel Quinn start to shake and she sobbed loudly against Quinn's uninjured shoulder. "I love you, too. I love you."
"I – Rach, you n-need to go."
It was getting unbearable for Quinn. She could feel sweat stream down her back and she swallowed thickly. "I c-can't hol-hold on."
Rachel pulled back so that she could face Quinn. Her eyes were just a very pale, transparent green now. It was happening so fast, Rachel didn't know what to do. Say goodbye? The thought alone made her stomach turn.
"I'm not leaving."
Quinn growled. "You ha-have to!"
"I've got nothing left to live for, Quinn. What do you expect me to do?"
"G-go!" the blonde snarled.
"No! You can't do this to me! You can't, you can't just make me fall in love with you and then leave me like this!"
Quinn was too weak to push Rachel away and she groaned in agony, grasping Rachel's shirt in her hands as she waited for the pain to subside. She was crying, too, and she didn't know how to make Rachel leave. Things were starting to get hazy but she could hear a distant pounding. She turned slowly and saw people banging on the door. They couldn't get in. She turned back to Rachel.
"Why?" she croaked.
"I told you. I have nothing left." Rachel, though calm, was still crying.
The smaller girl shifted in Quinn's embrace, unwilling to break it, and reached for the gun on the table next to Quinn's bed. She checked the magazine and found a full clip of bullets inside.
"Hur-ry, Rach. Pl-please."
She loaded the gun, released the safety and raised her trembling hand. "Quinn."
"'s O-okay," Quinn muttered, managing a small smile. She lifted her own trembling hand to Rachel's and guided the gun to her temple. "Lo-love y-you."
Rachel pulled Quinn down for one last kiss and when she let go she pulled the trigger, her eyes never leaving Quinn's. The blonde's lifeless body fell back onto the bed and Rachel quickly reloaded the gun, refusing to give herself time to think.
The gun rested against her head and her finger twitched as she started squeezing the trigger. A hand pulled the gun away and threw it to the floor, away from her. "NO! NO, LET ME GO!"
"Rachel, don't do this." Santana held her from behind, refusing to let go, no matter how much she struggled. "Don't do this."
She fell to her knees, Santana still holding on to her, and released a painful wail. More people entered the room and she was vaguely aware of being carried into the hallway. Santana kept speaking but Rachel wasn't listening. They couldn't keep her from trying again. She'd find another way because literally anything was better than living in this godforsaken, hopeless world.