Title: Last Living Souls
Pairing: Quinn/Rachel, Santana/Brittany, Kurt/Sam
Synopsis: The military outpost turns out to be a straggling group of five survivors; two of which happen to be familiar faces. The trek out to rescue them turns out to be a bit harder than our girls (& Jupiter) expected.
Author’s Note: Title was inspired by Gorillaz’ “Last Living Souls.” Thank you for all the comments – at this point they’ve grown so many I’d have to dedicated a whole chapter just to the responses, but know that I read every single one of them and appreciate every word. I apologize for the really lengthy wait – life gets away with me sometimes. However, after writing this chapter I’ve realized that 7 chapters should be a good length. Although this chapter is semi-short (running at about 3.3k words), chapters 6 and 7 will be running at about 10k words per chapter.
“Crack of dawn, kid,” Santana stifled a yawn, her words muffled. When nobody responded, Quinn felt a stiff kick to her side and groaned.
“Fine, fine,” Quinn was still not a morning person – even though they had no choice but to rise with the sun. Her ruffled blonde mane was almost unmanageable and she knew it. Making quick work of her hair, she hid it under a bandana and stood up. Rachel was already packing their things. “What, am I the last one to get up?”
Santana rolled her eyes, “Like that’s new.”
“Hah,” Quinn poked her tongue out. She shook out her bedroll, dirt and debris flying toward Santana intentionally before she rolled it up and tied it to her pack.
They still had some miles to go this morning before they’d reach the source of radio signals. Apollo had rigged a basic locator that picked up radio frequencies and dialed in their exact location; he sent it along with the group while he stayed back to manage the little village they’d all built together. Quinn wasn’t looking forward to the trek – after all she’d gotten used to the luxury of staying in one place after their long journey to their settlement. As she tied the straps of her pack into place, she glanced up and saw playful brown eyes watching her from afar.
Rachel grinned at being caught, and bit her bottom lip as she glanced back at the food rations she was packing up for them. Her small hands worked determinedly, and Quinn chuckled low in her throat, inaudibly, feeling that familiar warmth bloom in her chest in remembering all that had transpired between them in the last hundred-plus days.
Jupiter was plotting out their course, having surveyed some of the surrounding land before it’d gotten dark last night, Santana leaning on Duckie and appearing lost in thought as to what the best way was to go. The terrain wasn’t overly friendly in this area. There were a few high cliffs that they’d not been aware of until now, and they had ropes and gear to climb and rappel back down, but it didn’t mean they had the training. Santana and Jupiter were the only ones with any significant training. And then there was the problem of getting everyone down with a limited amount of gear.
Obviously, they had a few hurdles to deal with.
Santana was the first to climb up, hitching a line all the way up for everyone else to use as a safety. When she reached the top, she motioned for the next to come up. Quinn watched a little nervously as Rachel scaled the cliff rock, seeing the girl slip once or twice but catch herself accordingly. New world, new skills were required.
Quinn was next, and she found the task a little difficult at first but then quickly joined the others at the top. Jupiter was the last up, collecting the safety rope and clips. Santana clapped him on the back before motioning to the others. The trek was one of stealth. They didn’t want to alert any rogue groups of bandits – just because they weren’t in the city that didn’t mean there wasn’t danger involved. Quinn wasn’t really keen on getting shot again.
As they trekked through the woods, Quinn found herself walking just behind Rachel. Her senses were alive, keen to catch any threat. There was something about being in this kind of world with someone you loved – a part of you awoke when you realized you had to be unceasingly vigilant. Any threat to Rachel would have had Quinn on high alert.
Luckily, harm didn’t come as she had thought it might.
Around the campfire at night, the group shared stories about what life was like before. It was a kind of nostalgic thing, and the group itself had only just reached an emotional place where they could acknowledge that once the world had been different.
“We hated each other,” Quinn laughed a little as she chewed on a dry piece of jerky, motioning to Rachel.
“Oh, come on,” Santana groaned, rolling her head back. “Seriously? I mean sure you guys had words or whatever but the whole time in glee you were eye-banging each other and even during solos. Like … Rachel,” she motioned to the brunette, “when you wrote that song ‘Get It Right,’ Quinn was mooning at you from the side of the stage.”
Rachel blushed, laughing, “Were you really?”
Quinn grinned, shrugged a shoulder noncommittally.
“And when you two sang that mash up? It looked like you were either going to hug each other and cry or throw your chairs to the side and make out.”
“Totally,” Duckie agreed with a thoughtful nod.
Fully blushing, Quinn laughed, “You guys are ridiculous. I mean, okay. Okay. So I had a thing for Rachel and I didn’t know it. Besides, it’s not like Rachel didn’t totally have a thing for me too.”
“Oh, I definitely did. You should see my diaries from when we were fighting at our worst,” the brunette beside her was blushing red and grinning from ear to ear. “But I thought you and Santana liked each other, honestly.”
Santana, Duckie, and Quinn all blanked, then broke out in assorted laughter.
“What? It’s totally believable. That girl fight you and Santana had,” Rachel motioned between them, “I’m pretty sure there was a betting pool on whether you’d lock yourselves together in an empty classroom after that.”
Santana laughed, “Claro que no, are you serious?”
“Y’all grow up together?” Jupiter motioned between the four of them.
“High school,” the girls answered simultaneously.
“Weird how you’d all end up in the same place after … “ he indicated the overgrowth around them, bringing them all back to the state of the world as it was now. It was essentially a post-apocalyptic world, one they’d only ever imagined in science-fiction films.
“I came to find Rachel,” Quinn answered honestly. Beside her, Rachel’s soft hand joined with her own. The warmth of it made her grin quietly and cast her eyes to the ground. “I just felt compelled. It was weird.”
“Finding us was a bonus,” Santana smirked. Jupiter laughed; his grin was wide and bleach-white.
Rachel giggled at the pair before glancing at Quinn. In the firelight, the diva’s eyes glittered, her face aglow with the kind of look one had when they were first falling in love.
“You two are so cute,” Duckie mused, smiling a little at the pair.
“It only took the end of the world to get Quinn to realize her lesbianism,” Santana added wryly. They exchanged playful glares.
“What about you, Jupiter? What was life like?”
The larger man shrugged his shoulders, “Normal life for a New Yorker. Work, work, work. I worked at an office building. I wasn’t anybody important, you know, but I didn’t mind my job. I worked to the point where I missed a lot of my daughter’s life,” Jupiter frowned a little bit at this. Around him, the girls were rapt with attention at the mention of a daughter. “Her mamma took her to Jersey one year, we ended up divorcing before that. I was trying to make ends meet at work without realizing I wasn’t keeping my marriage together.”
“What happened to them?” Rachel asked, solemn and quiet as she gazed on the man.
Jupiter shook his head, “I don’t know, little one.”
A nod of his head affirmed that he, too, was sorry. The reminder of family made the group fall silent. It wasn’t something easy to think about now. They all had families they had come from, but now practically none of them knew what had happened to those they had loved. The assumption was grave.
Quinn thought of little Beth, who would have been a toddler when everything finally happened. She would’ve been walking, talking, starting kindergarten. Beside her, she felt Rachel kiss her hand on the knuckles.
The group went to bed a little somber that night, reality sinking in around them. As much as they built the world back up, they would never be able to restore the lives that had been lost.
Santana was scanning the walkie for anyone that might be broadcasting over the channels. It was a long-shot, because often the walkie only picked up frequencies shared by the singular device it matched.
Quinn was perched on a high branch, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. Her knee was feeling a little stiff and as she shifted, she almost lost her balance. She cursed and grappled at the tree trunk beside her, awkwardly hugging the massive thing. Below her, she saw Rachel jerking toward the tree in a sudden motion as if she was going to catch Quinn. The blonde waved her off, a little embarrassed. She flashed a smile to assure her lover she was alright.
They were closer to the last known location of the little surviving group. Quinn felt it in her gut. As she rappelled down the side of the tree and landed on firm ground, she felt Rachel’s hand at her back and smiled. They shared a look before Santana whistled to the group to keep moving. The blonde gathered her gear and strode ahead, Rachel trotting beside her.
“He’s … bleeding … “ Another crack on the radio. “Bandits … “ the static made the rest of the message incoherent.
They moved faster, covered more ground, hoping that whoever was calling for help would still be alive when they got there.
Ducked down behind an outcropping, the group waited. A pack of bandits were spotted just a few minutes before and it was uncertain how hostile they were. Santana handed Quinn the binoculars and motioned the girth of the bandit group.
They were carrying an unconscious body between them. Laughing.
It didn’t seem good.
They followed them for a half a day, always sticking to the trees and staying out of sight. At one point, they let the bandits get ahead about a half a mile before pursuing them further. Santana motioned for the group to halt as one by one, the bandits dropped into the ground. Likely they had an underground shelter. The unconscious body they carried with them showed no signs of stirring or struggle.
Santana caught the last bandit with a bullet in the head. He dropped to the ground. Another bandit called out, and one by one Santana shot each curious bandit. When Quinn marked the last bandit as dead, their little mercenary group advanced. In formation, they moved around the dead bodies. Duckie rolled each one over to check pulses.
When Quinn dropped down into the bunker, she helped Rachel down and they spotted the unconscious body draped over a busted-down couch.
“Area’s clear,” Santana called. Duckie confirmed topside, and Rachel was the first one to go over to the apparently unconscious captive.
It wasn’t anyone they recognized, but he was clutching a note in his hand. It was simply coordinates, scrawled in messy handwriting.
“Quinn, help me,” Rachel beckoned, and the pair dragged the body to the ground. Rachel checked his pulse and performed CPR. It was to no avail, and Quinn kissed her lover’s temple when Rachel showed signs of grief.
This was the world they lived in now. Quinn had to remind herself of that.
Santana, frowning, helped Rachel stand and took the note from her hand. “I think this is where our stragglers will be. He must’ve been a runner, sent to find help.”
“I tried to save him,” Rachel stated tearfully.
It was late in the afternoon when Santana checked her compass. They were somewhere around the coordinates. A pole stuck out of the ground, a white scarf tied around it. Santana checked the ground around it, but it was Rachel who spotted the clue.
“These rocks,” she murmured. Large stone slabs where arranged about thirty feet away on the ground. “They’re … like an arrow.”
“It seems too obvious,” Santana worried aloud. She and Quinn shared glances. “It could be some kind of trap.” She clicked a round into her pistol and shoved it into its holster. “Quinn, Jupiter, you watch our backs. Rachel and Duckie, stay behind me.”
They moved as one, methodically watching the surrounding area. Where trees had been, they seemed to have moved beyond the vast forest-section of land. They were moving through tall grasses when Rachel disappeared.
Or rather, Rachel yelled and tripped over something. In the six-foot tall foliage, it wasn’t easy finding her. Quinn would have laughed if they weren’t acting as rescuing mercenaries. She helped Rachel to her feet, but as she brushed Rachel off, Duckie shoved them both aside.
“It’s a door!”
Buried under dirt, grass, and twigs, was a door. Rachel had tripped over the metal handle to a bunker. The team worked quick, uncovered the bunker door. Jupiter and Duckie flanked Santana and Quinn as they tugged the doors open, guns aimed at any potential threat that might burst out.
It was eerily silent as the group descended into the bunker. There seemed to be little light down below and there wasn’t any indication of life. Santana trained her light on the area around them, Jupiter just as vigilant. Quinn had her arm in front of Rachel, shielding her in what way she could.
“Please don’t shoot!” A woman’s voice called in the darkness. “Please.”
Santana narrowed her eyes. Never too trusting, she shone light on a group of people huddled together. “They’re friendlies,” she called. “We’re not here to hurt you. We heard the call for help on the radio. I’m – “
“Santana,” Sam’s face appeared, dirt-covered.
Quinn, Brittany, and Rachel all collectively gasped at just about the same time the nickname came from Santana’s lips.
“Another high school friend?” Jupiter asked in a way that seemed to suggest he wasn’t surprised at all. “Might as well make it a reunion.”
Santana hesitated, but moved forward and hugged the familiar friend to her. Rachel did the same next. Quinn and Brittany followed, and when introductions were made, Quinn realized Sam looked like he’d been crying.
“Sam, besides the obvious end of the world scenario,” she grabbed his hand, “why do you look devastated?”
It was then they realized that the huddled group hadn’t been hiding. They’d been protecting a body.
Rachel dropped to the ground beside the unconscious boy. She turned and met Quinn’s eyes, “It’s Kurt,” she whispered in total disbelief.
“It was the bandits,” Sam was nearly sobbing and he wasn’t shy about pushing people away from Kurt. The boy tugged Kurt into his lap. “They hit him over the head. I don’t know if he’s going to be okay.” He was rocking Kurt close to him, lips pressed to his temple.
Tears sprung to Rachel’s eyes. Santana reacted in typical military fashion. She coaxed Sam to let Kurt go, and motioned to Jupiter.
“He has a pulse. We just have to find a way to rouse him so I can see if he’s got a concussion.”
Jupiter squeezed Sam’s shoulder, “We’re gonna take care of him, dude.”
Sam was still crying; Quinn tugged her former friend by the arm and pulled him into a hug. The taller boy almost collapsed into her embrace. “It’s going to be okay,” Quinn soothed.
Rachel was gently slapping Kurt’s face. When that didn’t work, Santana pried one eyelid open and shone her flashlight into one eye, moved his head either way, and repeated the process with the other eye.
“Normal dilation,” she informed them, “normal reaction. He should be okay. If anything it’s a mild concussion.” She patted his cheeks, tried speaking his name with some volume. “Do you guys have water? Cold water?”
“There’s a running well,” one of the survivors, a short Asian man, motioned to another part of the bunker.
“Jupiter, get cold water, put it in here,” she shoved her water bag at him. When he complied, she opened the nozzle and turned it upside down. In a move that was slightly surprising and a little worrisome, she opened Kurt’s mouth and poured water directly into his throat.
His body’s reaction was to cough and sputter. It was enough to wake him up.
“Jesus Christ, don’t let me drown! It’s not a good look!” Kurt blinked deliriously, coughed, and spat up water. He didn’t realize he was practically in Santana’s lap just yet.
“I got you, Lady Hummel,” she patted his back and when she could get him to sit straight, she shone a flashlight in both of his eyes again. “Are you feeling dizzy or nauseated?”
“I have woken up in some kind of weird Twilight Zone,” the boy was in total disbelief and must have just realized who his rescuer was. “Did you try to drown me? And are you really Santana or am I hallucinating?”
Santana grinned, “I’m really Santana and, Sam, I think he’s going to be fine.”
Sam all but ran to Kurt and gathered him in his arms.
“Uh,” Santana cleared her throat, “right.”
Sam and Kurt held one another. It was .. a little weird? Quinn wasn’t sure what to make of it. And at the same time, it wasn’t all that unexpected.
“Sam, were you crying?” Kurt touched Sam’s face. “Sweetie,” he cooed.
“I thought you weren’t going to be okay.”
Santana’s eyes were a little wide and she blinked in a bewildered sort of way in Quinn’s direction. “Oo-kay! So, I hate to break it up and at the same time I do because what … but we’re here to get you guys out of here and back to a safe zone.”
“We?” Kurt pulled away from Sam – but continued holding Sam’s hand – and seemed to realize that he recognized more than a few faces in the small group. “This is a really badly planned glee club reunion, isn’t it?”
Rachel laughed a little tearfully, “We didn’t plan it, but … “
“Universe has a funny sense of humor,” Quinn added.
“Hi Kurt,” Brittany grinned.
Kurt and Santana had similar confused looks on their faces. Kurt was decidedly unamused but somehow pleased.
“You mentioned something about a safe zone?” One of the other survivors asked, breaking up the small reunion.
“Yeah. There’s a big group of us who survived. We built a kind of village, I guess,” Brittany explained.
“We’re here to get you back there.” Rachel finished. “Do you guys think you can get supplies ready and get ready to travel in twenty minutes?”
“We definitely should stay on the move. And fill water bags,” Quinn lifted hers and tossed it to Jupiter. The man caught it and began filling the canteens with water. One by one he tossed them back as the other survivors followed instructions and started grabbing things they needed. In twenty minutes they were ready to move.
Quinn and Rachel held up the back end of the group, always alert and quick.
Only later would Quinn ask Rachel, in a whisper, if she thought Sam and Kurt were a couple. It seemed silly to ask earlier, but now that they lay in bedrolls together, it seemed okay to ask.
“Sam was always a little gay,” Rachel answered in just as quiet of a whisper.