Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Author notes: Takes place during season 5.
They had been living in the teacher's lounge of William McKinley High School, the six of them, not stepping foot outside that single room and its adjoining bathroom, for nearly three days now.
It had been the best possible choice, given the circumstances, and the short time frame they had had to make the choice. The cafeteria would have been ideal, given its larger selection of food and the long tables they could have used to lie on top of, but it had too many difficulties that went along with it, too many problems to resolve before it could become even briefly a viable place to stay. There were too many windows, all which would need to be blocked or boarded up in some way, and nothing with which they could have accomplished this. Someone would undoubtedly see the lights on, through all those windows, realize the room was occupied, and try to get in, and it was almost certain that it wouldn't be someone who could help- or even someone who was still even partially sane.
The teacher lounge, though smaller and containing a lesser stock of food, was a better choice, and it was lucky that Quinn had had the presence of mind to suggest it even as they fled for their lives. The teacher's lounge- at least the second, smaller one that had recently been added on, when Sue Sylvester had demanded near exclusive use of the original one- had no windows, and therefore no one could see inside of it to know they were there. Although they had to be careful about not being too loud, and Quinn had shoved paper towels under the crack at the bottom of the door to block out the light, lest the people they could still frequently hear roaming about the school halls would see it and know someone was inside, it was nevertheless still the only room in the building that they could reasonably use and still have the basics of what they needed.
There was a table and several chairs, which they had been using to stretch across as beds in shifts, when they were too exhausted to be able to stay awake any longer. There was a refrigerator with old remnants of staff member lunches and snacks, a water dispenser with cone shaped cups, a coffee maker and the makings of coffee, two couches, a microwave, a sink, paper and plastic dishes, cups, and utensils, a snack and drink machine, though they had run out of quarters and dollars and been forced to let Puck break them open to be able to get anything out of them. And the best of it was there was an adjoining bathroom, so no one had been forced to use the sink for anything other than what it was originally intended for.
They could and had been surviving in those two small rooms, the six of them- Quinn, Puck, Rachel, Kurt, Santana, and Brittany, the ones who had managed to get away from Lima…and also the ones who had nevertheless been brave or nostalgic or self-sacrificing enough, or maybe just foolish enough, to return, even knowing what they knew about the situation. They had returned to help, to try to rescue, or in some cases, just to be there with those who mattered most to them even as those people no longer were themselves at all, and it was clear to all of them now that whatever their original intent or reasons, whatever their initial thoughts, they had been in vain. Because here they were now- Puck, slumped in a seat with his jaw clinched, fists balled at his sides, Rachel, nervously pacing, head down as she frequently wrung her hands, Kurt, sitting in the corner with his arms tightly wrapped around his knees, face hidden against them, Quinn, pale and strained as her eyes darted to each of her companions in turn, and Santana, face alive with both ferocity and fright as she kept protective arms around Brittany. Here they were, together, and yet none had ever felt so very alone, so very hopeless, in the face of what their future might hold for them.
They had all heard about the outbreak in Lima, first by word of mouth from their friends and family there, and then more and more steadily from the media as it became national news. Lima was quarantined now, with no one allowed in or out, in the country's attempt to keep what they knew assumed to be some form of a plague, or even what had been rumored to possibly be a terroristic attack involving chemical warfare of some kind. The six of them had not realized the seriousness of the situation when they first decided to come to Lima, to check on their family and friends, to help care for the ones who seemed to have fallen ill, or to protect those who had not- but how could they have known? How could anyone, even the media, even those who had been there from the start, really have understood it until it was too late to escape?
The illnesses started seemingly like a simple virus, with the person becoming feverish and experiencing sweating and shivering, running noses and vomiting, often what appeared to be delusions, coupled with incoherent speech. Initially this normal-seeming sickness would last as long as a week before the second stage set in, but as more and more fell ill, it appeared that the length and intensity of the sickness was progressing considerably faster, until it was sometimes now only a matter of hours before the "ill" stage progressed to the violence.
There seemed to be no way of predicting how the violence would present itself from person to person- it was only clear that it would, somehow, show itself in their behavior, and that there was very little one could do to stop them from carrying it out. Some people became suicidal, deliberately maiming, mutilating, and eventually harming themselves to the point of death, but others became suddenly and viscously aggressive towards any other person around them. In less than two weeks' time the streets and buildings, both public and private, of Lima were littered with dead and dying bodies of the murdered and the suicidal, to the point that hospitals, police departments, and fire departments no longer responded to calls….in fact, the majority of those who had made up those services were among the bodies.
Every person they knew had fled town before the borders and guards were set into place, if they were very lucky, and had either joined the bodies or the still-drifting, rarely resting homicidal if they were not. No one knew how it spread or how long its effects would last, and they could neither escape nor hope for a rescue. They were waiting, simply waiting, now, having exhausted all theories and possibilities of escape discussions long ago, and no one had the energy to bring it up again.
After all, it was what had brought them to the school in the first place. It had been Rachel's insistence that they, the so-far survivors, would meet in the recently shut down library to research and discuss in privacy just what it was they could do, what were there possible options now; they had been there no longer than ten minutes before a horde of homicidals chased them out, and they had barely managed to shut themselves in the teacher's lounge in time. They didn't dare come out- where else would they be safe? Where else could they go? And besides, they could still on occasion hear the footsteps of someone in the halls and knew that if they were not actually being guarded or watched, they were nevertheless rarely alone.
Three days now, shut together in one small room, all of them exhausted, anxious, and above all, terrified. Three days of little sleep and food, of suffocating emotions and bouts of hopeless tears or fits of rage. Three days, and through it all they had still hung onto the faint hope that they at least were possibly immune, because so far, it seemed only those who had been living in Lima when the illness first hit had been affected, that so far, they at least were all physically okay. They had hoped, they had held their breath, and some of them had even prayed.
But in the end, none of it had mattered, because in the end, one of them had fallen ill all the same.
Brittany lay with her head in Santana's lap, seemingly unable to move spontaneously even at Santana's urging. The Latina seemed to believe that somehow, Brittany would be able to walk off the sickness that had struck her, that as long as she was walking and talking and moving around, she would be able to fight it off, to outrun it somehow and keep it from fully taking over her. For as long as Brittany could manage, Santana had walked her in circles around the small confines of the room, even as Brittany's footsteps slowed and her ability to move on her own diminished, until she was leaning so heavily against Santana that the smaller girl was struggling beneath her weight, until she had to nearly drag her along. Still Santana had kept on doggedly, even as her own muscles began to shake with the effort of holding Brittany up, until the others had insisted and Puck had physically forced her to put Brittany down, convincing her to stop only by stating that she seemed to be making Brittany feel worse with her efforts.
Brittany had vomited into the room's only trash can three times earlier that day, and although this seemed to have run its course, she was now shivering frequently, despite the coat and blanket Santana had wrapped around her, and her eyes were glazed with fever. She had spoken in slurred, murmuring words that even Santana didn't seem to understand at first, but it had been hours now since she last spoke, and they all knew what this indicated. When those infected stopped speaking, they were on a downward slope towards the more violent stage of the illness, and it was clear to everyone that this was exactly what was going to happen to Brittany, what was closer to occurring with every moment that they let slip by.
They all knew it, as much and as strongly as Santana wanted to deny it. But Santana would not hear of anyone doing anything about it, no matter what this might mean for the future.
"You will not touch her," she stated fiercely, for the fourth time in the past ten minutes, as she hunched over her ex-girlfriend and beloved friend, lightly stroking her fingertips over the blonde's flushed face.
Brittany's eyes were closed, her breathing slow and labored, and she seemed unaware of Santana's presence, let alone her touch. Her hair was damp with sweat as Santana combed her fingers through it, and all looking towards them noticed how badly Santana's hands were shaking, the sheen of tears she was blinking back fiercely from eyes so dark and full of hurt they seemed almost bruised in appearance.
Santana had not slept at all since Brittany's symptoms first began, over two days ago. She had eaten only when Quinn insisted, and her stress was more than obvious in her face and demeanor. She was clearly exhausted, her cheeks sunken, deeply purple shadows beneath her eyes, her hair limp and straggling in her eyes, but she nevertheless met the eyes of her companions, one at a time, with fierce intensity as she spoke again.
"You're not laying a hand on her. If you do, I'll fucking kill you."
"No, SHE will," Puck retorted, lifting his head to stare back at her, every bit as intently and with a tight undertone of anger in his voice as he took a step closer to them, arms crossed over his chest. Santana's head snapped up, and she tightened her arms around Brittany, as though intending to protect her with her own body against the man as he continued to address her. "She'll fucking kill us all, Santana, and you know it. That's exactly why we have to do it."
"She will not," Santana's voice sharpened, rising in pitch and volume. It seemed that between the two of them, there was a dangerous electricity crackling in the air, and the others watched with growing apprehension. No one would put it past either of them to become physically aggressive, as strongly as they felt and as high as the tension was…as high as the stakes were becoming.
"She will not. You don't know which way she would go, and Brittany would NEVER, EVER hurt ANYONE, she will not. And YOU will not. Don't you fucking touch her, don't even come near her, I fucking mean it."
"Santana, get a damn clue! There are fucking old women out there who are trying to tear people apart with their bare hands! There are little kids and sweet neighbor ladies, what the hell makes you think that Brittany is so damn special that you know for a fact she wouldn't-"
"Maybe there's another way!" Rachel called out anxiously over them both, trying to distract them from each other as it seemed clear that if Puck were to press on much longer, Santana would in fact become violent herself.
Rachel had spent the first day of their entrapment doing nothing more than crying, allowing herself to completely fall apart in her grief and her fear for all that she had lost and was continuing to lose, for the hopelessness that seemed to surround her. But in the second day she had started to try to gather up her will to move forward, to assess all possibilities and find a way, if at all possible, that they at least could all still survive, and now she tried to put this attitude forward again, to manage to salvage those that she could who were still with her- namely, Puck and Santana.
Although neither so much as turned their heads to look at her, they didn't lunge at each other, so she took this as a sign that they were listening, and slightly encouraged, continued, her own voice shaking a little as she tried to maintain their attention.
"Maybe…maybe we can quarantine her…we wouldn't have to hurt her, just…keep her away from us. Maybe we can do that."
"We're not leaving her alone," Santana countered immediately, shaking her head, but although her voice still definitely held an edge, there was no longer quite as much blatant hostility in it as there had been towards Puck. She seemed to sense that Rachel, at least, didn't want to harm Brittany.
"Oh, so if it's up to you, we'll keep leaving her here with us then?" Quinn challenged, not raising her voice, but from the lift of her chin as she regarded Santana, the skeptical arch of her eyebrows, she nevertheless made it clear what she thought of this option. "Santana, please be reasonable. Think about what you're suggesting. The longer we let her stay in here with us, the more risk there is of her harming us, and the more time there is where we're exposed to her. We still don't know how this spreads, and some or all of us could be infected now-"
"Then whether or not we stay with her wouldn't be a fucking problem if we're already infected, wouldn't it?" Santana cut her off, but Quinn pressed on, not acknowledging her point.
"We all know what could happen if we let her stay here with us. We've know and we've seen it, and I'm sorry, Santana, I may have had my crazy times in the past, but I'm not and never have been suicidal. I won't put my life in Brittany's hands no matter how much you love her."
"You don't know what she'll do or how she'll react, I don't see a fucking crystal ball in your hands, Quinn, YOU DON'T KNOW," Santana's voice was starting to climb in volume again, and she squeezed Brittany harder against her chest. "You don't even know if she has it! She could just be NORMAL sick!"
"She's puked her insides out, she's sweated through her clothes with a fever, and she's not talking, Santana!" Puck nearly shouted, jabbing a finger in the girls' direction in an almost violent manner. "What the hell else could it possibly be?! You know what this is, you know what it means, and you KNOW what we have to do! You think I want to do this? Of course I don't want to fucking do this, but the difference is that I have to, the difference is that I give a shit over everyone else and what will happen to them even if I don't want to do this to Brittany-"
"You only give a shit about yourself, Puckerman, don't you fucking tell me that you give a shit about ANYONE but you and saving your own ass! You don't care about Brittany, you don't-"
"You know we have to do it, Santana!" Puck yelled over her, almost screaming now, his face as flushed as Santana's was pale, and his fists were now knotted at his sides so tightly that the tendons of his arms stood out, stark and obvious for all to see. "You know we have to kill her!"
For several long, painfully drawn out moments after the words left his mouth, there was complete silence among the others in the room as they all avoided looking directly into each other's eyes, with the exception of Puck and Santana, who both remained unmoving, unwavering, as they stared each other down. They could only hear the continued shallow breaths of Brittany in her lap, their own hearts beating too hard and fast in their chests, and then Santana broke the silence, her voice a whisper, but nevertheless very clear in tone and words.
"You will not fucking touch her."
"Santana…we don't have to…kill her," Rachel's voice spoke up again hesitantly after a long pause, and she took a breath that was both audible and visible, releasing it slowly before taking a slow step towards the girl herself, trying to meet her eyes at last. "We don't. We don't even have to hurt her. We don't want to have to do that, no one does, I promise. We could just…find something to tie her up with, maybe. I don't know what, but…maybe we can make something. Or…or we could just put her in the bathroom with some food, and…lock the door, and put stuff in front of it so she can't break out. It would be okay like that, wouldn't it? She couldn't hurt us but we wouldn't be hurting her either. We could do that, and it would be okay…right?"
"No," Santana's reply was flat, immediate, and very decisive, occupied with a short but swift shaking of her head, even as her hand gently smoothed over Brittany's cheek. "You won't do that to her. She can't even sit up, Rachel. You won't leave her in there alone because you're too afraid to help her. If you want to lock her up in there, you lock me in there with her too."
"Santana, don't be ridiculous," Quinn started, exhaling with more exasperation in its sound than Rachel's hand, and Puck showed even less patience, unclinching his hands long enough to spread both arms out towards her so rapidly Santana tensed, seeming to think he was going to try to hit her.
"No, she wants that, let her do it. She wants to lock herself up with someone who's going to turn into a homicidal psycho any second now, she wants to be the first one to go down? Fucking let her, Quinn, why is anyone arguing? She wants it, let her, but just get the ticking time bomb away from the rest of us!"
"Puck, stop it. You're not helping," Quinn leveled a pointed look at him as she spoke through her teeth, and she heaved another sigh as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Santana-"
"Santana…sweetie," Rachel was trying to talk to her too, moving closer, but with three of the four others having moved in towards her now, Santana was on high alert, sitting up as straight as she could on the couch while still clutching Brittany, her eyes darting between each of them as though trying to think through her options of escape. "Santana, we can't let you be trapped with her where we couldn't help you if you needed. You know that. We can't let you be hurt, or in danger..."
"I'm not afraid of her!" Santana shouted. Her face contorted briefly, and she appeared to be blinking hard against tears, her throat working as she swallowed, then her cheeks growing red. "I don't care, I don't give a shit what happens to me, I DON'T CARE! I'm not leaving her alone, I will NEVER leave her alone with this! She's sick and she needs me, she needs someone to be with her and I will NEVER force her to do this on her own! You're all cowards, you all talk about love and family and you're fucking abandoning her, you're talking about KILLING her, don't tell me how much you fucking love her or how much you love me, you're all leaving her alone when she needs you the fucking most! You don't know she'll hurt ANYONE, what if she has the type where she'll try to hurt herself, then what?! Then you'd just lock her up in there alone where she could break the mirror and…and…" her voice cracked then, and a few tears did spill over, making tracks down her cheeks, but Santana, if she noticed, didn't acknowledge, pushing past her tears to continue, her voice just as harsh as before. "She'd hurt herself in there and you would be too fucking scared for your own asses to help her. You'd rather she hurt herself then your own ass be in any danger. You would just let her fucking kill herself if it meant you would be safe."
No one responded to this; no one would even meet her eyes. As the silence stretched out before them, it became more and more clear that what she was saying must be perfectly true, because for what other reason could they go so long without saying a word?
Disgusted, infuriated, Santana released a long, slow breath, biting down on the inside of her cheeks until she tasted blood, and her voice was hoarse when she spoke again, but no less full of feeling.
"I fucking hate you, I hate every single one of you. Don't come near us. If you want to be so fucking safe, go lock your own selves in the bathroom and leave us the fuck alone."
"Maybe we should," Rachel said quietly after a few more moments of silence, briefly licking her lips as she looked from the closed bathroom door to the two figures still huddled on the couch. "I mean…we'd be safe, and if Brittany needs help, Santana could help her. Maybe that's what we should do."
"No," Quinn said firmly, shaking her head. "No, because you know what will happen, Rachel, you said it yourself. If she needed protected from Brittany we couldn't help her."
"That would be her choice!" Puck exclaimed, "Let her fucking make it! If she wants to die, don't' try to talk her out of it, but don't make it where none of the rest of us have a choice either! You want us safe, then do what needs to be done! You want Santana safe too? Then lock Brittany in the bathroom, or better yet, throw her out in the hall with the others like her and leave her to join them, that's what we should have done in the first place, the second she started getting sick!"
"Don't you dare!" Santana screeched, but this time, Puck's threats were not idle discussion.
As he strode forward, grabbing at Brittany's shoulders and attempting to force her out of Santana's grasp, Santana continued to scream as though she rather than Brittany were being pulled at or physically harmed. For several seconds she and Puck scrambled to be the one to have hold of her, each maintaining harsh, desperate, and likely bruising grips of the limp girl between them, not willing to give up their hold as they fought to be the one to have control of her. All the while Puck was shouting close to Santana's face, and Santana was screaming and swearing at the top of her lungs, her face vivid with color and feeling, eyes wild as she struggled against a man nearly twice her size to keep him from taking Brittany away.
It seemed that this battle was going to get ugly fast. Although neither Puck nor Santana had hit each other yet, as this would mean letting go of their hold of Brittany to be able to do so, the others were certain that this was coming. Santana would slap Puck or claw at his face, and it was likely he would hit her back, maybe hard enough to genuinely hurt her. It was because of this fear that Quinn and Rachel inserted themselves into the mix, each latching on to one of the two as they tried to drag them apart. Quinn grabbed Santana's upper arms, Rachel wrapped her arms around Puck's waist, and in between them all still was Brittany, being tugged back and forth in opposing directions and still showing absolutely no reaction to any of their presence, no signs of pain at the rough way that they were handling her body. The two girls were trying to talk over Puck and Santana too now, raising their voices above them, and all had by this point nearly forgotten the sixth person in the room, the one who had remained silent in the corner, not adding any input whatsoever, nor being asked for it, until he nearly screamed over all of them, his voice cracking.
"They hear you…stop it, you have to stop it, they hear you!"
Rachel and Quinn pulled back almost immediately as they looked towards where Kurt crouched on the floor apart from all of them, hands over his ears, rocking back and forth slightly, holding himself in such a position that he seemed to be trying to expose as little as his body as possible, to protect himself from attack. As the two girls started hissing orders for Puck and Santana to stop, to shut up and listen, they were gradually able to reign themselves in enough to do so- and immediately froze when they began to hear.
There was something, or someone outside the door, pulling at the doorknob, rattling it and scrabbling at the wood of the door. There was someone outside, someone not speaking, but seeming determined enough to get inside, and as they listened, horror arose anew inside their hearts.
If those people had weapons- and they very well could, it would be not only likely but almost expected- they could get inside the door within minutes. If those people were intent enough on coming inside, there was absolutely nothing they could do to stop them, and nothing they could do to protect themselves.
Without any discussion needed among them, Puck, Quinn, and Rachel scrambled to find items to stack against the door in an effort to block it off, grabbing up chairs and the table and hastily placing them in front of the door. None of them were very heavy in their build, and even if they were to delay the people outside, they would not hold them off indefinitely. And even as they were doing so, Puck was hollering over his shoulder to Santana, not losing sight of the Brittany situation even as he attempted to shove a chair back beneath the door handle.
"Santana, get her into the fucking bathroom and help us block it off, or hand her over to me and I'll do it, but either way, get off your ass and help us out!"
"Puck-" Rachel shouted back towards him, anxious as to his tone and intent, but nothing she did or said would have been noticed by either of them by this point. Santana was already screaming back at him, mostly insults that were punctuated by other words that seemed to be a mix of Spanish with English and were understood by no one. But what was clear to all who so much as glanced at her and her arms tightly wound around the taller blonde in her lap was that she had no intention whatsoever of letting go of her, let alone surrendering her up to Puck, and if this were to happen, she would have to be physically forced to do so.
And this is exactly what Puck chose to do. Letting out a noise in his throat that almost sounded like a growl, he abandoned the efforts of blocking off the door to Quinn and Rachel and instead came at the two figures on the couch, his steps quick and menacing in demeanor, the strides long enough that it took him less than two seconds to reach the couch. With Santana still screaming up at him, her hands digging into Brittany's arms until both her fingers and Brittany's skin beneath went white from the pressure, Puck grabbed Santana's hands and squeezed hard, until he felt something pop beneath his grasp. He wrenched her hands off of Brittany and forced them up and over her head, away from being able to hold her or have any control of the situation. Even as Santana shrieked and swore at him, fighting to release herself from his hold, he still didn't touch Brittany. Instead, he forced Santana up and out from beneath Brittany, lifting her up and then tossing her bodily to the ground beside the couch so that she fell hard onto her back and elbows, appearing briefly stunned, too pained to catch her breath or get back to her feet and fight him. Even as Rachel gasped and choked Puck's name, even as Kurt, still crouched in the corner, half covered his face with his hands, Puck then lifted Brittany up and holding her carelessly in his hands, as far out from himself as he could manage without dropping her. The girl dangled in his hands, arms, legs, and head unsupported, and they all watched him head not for the bathroom, as he had originally told Santana, but rather for the door out to the hallway, barking all the while for Rachel and Quinn to step back and get out of the way.
It was clear that Puck intended not to quarantine Brittany, but rather to sacrifice her. Whether or not she was going to be violent, he appeared to be taking no chances, operating under the assumption that the others outside the door would be distracted enough by her to forget about them, still inside.
It might have very well worked as he imagined, if it had gone according to his plan. But Santana would never have allowed for that. Even as shocked as she was, even if she was feeling physical pain from Puck's handling, she could not have, would not have let him do this, not without putting all she had into stopping him. And that was exactly what she did.
Screaming and shrieking loudly, without any coherent words that anyone could hear, Santana was on her feet and rushing him, throwing herself against Puck with all her weight and forcefulness as she attempted with a half-tackle to slow him down from reaching the door, maybe even to knock him over. Although her weight was slight, he was not expecting this, and having to hold Brittany as he had been, and at such an awkward and unbalanced angle from his body, Puck did not fall, but he did stagger, having to recover his balance by shifting Brittany in closer against him to make up for the weight now attached to his back. From behind him Santana was still clinging onto him and yelling at him, hitting him with both fists and scratching long, manicured fingers down his back and arms, which actually was more physically painful than anything her fists could do to him. Quinn and Rachel were shouting now too, Kurt was crying, and all of this mixed into a terrible cacophony that none of them could understand, and which only seemed to stir up and excite the crowd outside the doorway, if the increased scratching and scrabbling noises outside the door were anything to go by.
They were still trying to get in. They were interested, they were dedicated, and they showed no signs of slowing down.
Screaming on the inside, screaming on the outside, and Brittany's body in the middle of it all, the center of the storm. The reason for it all, the focus of all the commotion and noise, and yet there was little attention being actually cast her way, no one's eyes on her in the midst of everyone else.
And that was why when she slowly opened unfocused eyes, and shifted herself in Puck's newly tightened grasp, turning her head towards his chest, no one noticed, no one registered this as a change. That was why when Brittany lifted her head, opened her mouth wide, and bit into Puck's throat, no one saw, no one could have stopped her until it was already too late. That was why until they heard Puck's screams, until his legs started to buckle and he fell to the floor, Brittany's teeth still clamped onto his neck, Santana being dragged down to the ground with him and nearly pinned beneath his weight before she managed to roll away, no one had any idea what was happening.
"Oh my god, oh my god, no, no, no," Kurt was gasping from the corner, eyes wide and unblinking, even as tears streamed down his cheeks. He rocked back and forth on his heels, his hands tightly gripping his elbows in a self-embrace as he sobbed aloud, seemingly unable to look away. "No, no, no…"
"Oh my god, help him, somebody help him, SOMEONE HELP HIM!" Rachel was screeching over Puck's yells, but she herself made no move to do so, standing as though frozen near the doorway, both hands pressed hard over her mouth as though she were trying to force back nausea rising in her throat. She was crying too, her eyes every bit as large as Kurt's in her face, and she said again helplessly, "Someone help him, please, please…"
Quinn had already disappeared into the bathroom, almost as soon as she saw what was happening, but no one knew what she was doing, as she had not informed them. She could have been locking herself alone inside, or maybe she was looking for a way to escape. Meanwhile, as Brittany continued to bite Puck, slow, deliberate, and repeated, all over his neck and throat, Santana, almost as stunned as the others, pulled at her shoulders with all her strength, nevertheless finding it completely ineffective to pull her off.
"Brittany…Brittany, no, stop…Brittany! Oh god no, stop, stop, stop…"
Brittany didn't turn to bite her, didn't even look at her, and of course, she didn't speak. Instead she flung one arm out, catching Santana directly in the solar plexus, and shoved her back with considerable strength, sending Santana crumpling into a heap several feet away from her. As Santana's face drained of color and she struggled to regain breath, attempting with great clumsiness to crawl back towards her, and Puck's screaming began to die down into wet, gurgling gasps from his torn throat, his body twitching in terrible jerking spasms as he began to lose muscular control, Quinn emerged from the bathroom, with what looked like the metal toilet paper holder, ripped directly off the bathroom wall, in her hands. Her face nearly as pale as Kurt's and Rachel's, but her chin lifted, her lips pressed into a firm line, she dove towards Brittany and swung the object in her hand with all her strength towards Brittany's head.
As the toilet paper holder hit its mark, connecting with Brittany's skull with a sickeningly loud cracking noise, Brittany's hold of Puck loosened, and she either pulled back or fell away from Puck's inert form, a low, growling noise emerging from deep within her throat. The back of her head appeared to be cut from the sharp edge of the holder's base, blood beginning to seep from her skull and showing up clearly in her blonde hair, but she didn't move a hand to touch it or acknowledge in any way that she was hurt. Although she was moving more slowly than she had been before, her movements slightly unsteady, she nevertheless did not stop, starting to move towards Quinn, even as Quinn, backing up a few steps, eyes narrowed and intense, swung out at her again.
Behind them all Puck gasped out one final, choking breath, and then drew in no more. His twitching limbs stilled, and although his eyes were still open, he didn't blink, and this gaze began to take on a distinctly lifeless sheen. Only Kurt noticed from his corner, and his sobbing began to increase in intensity and volume. Her back to the doorway where the infected people outside still continued to push and pull at it determinedly, Rachel took in everything happening around her with nearly shellshocked expression, her eyes huge and barely blinking, hands still pressed tightly over her mouth as small whimpering gasps emerged.
"No, no, no," she cried, "stop her, someone, please…"
It was unclear whether she was talking to Quinn, telling her not to hurt Brittany, or to Brittany, to tell her not to hurt Quinn. Neither girl was listening to her, regardless. Brittany, still moving slowly but determinedly, single-minded in focus, snatched out at Quinn, gradually backing her towards the wall near the vending machine, and Quinn, breathing audibly, swung her holder out at her again, catching Brittany this time in the side of the ear.
"STOP IT, QUINN! STOP IT, DON'T HURT HER!" Santana nearly shrieked, and she managed then to get to her feet, throwing herself towards Quinn and managing to overbalance her to the floor. As Quinn dropped the toilet paper holder on impact of hitting the ground, Santana wrapped her arms around her, half straddling her as she fought to keep her from getting up, hitting herself or Brittany, or being able to reach the holder again.
Quinn struggled beneath her, trying to hit or elbow or push out at her to detach her from her, but although Santana was of a smaller frame than she was, she was also much more passionately invested in the situation, her emotions giving her a strength that she normally didn't have and that was challenging to Quinn to surpass. As Quinn yelled for her to stop, to get up and let her go, Brittany, meanwhile, appeared to have shifted her focus. Her head turned from the grappling girls before her towards the corner, where Kurt remained curled within himself, eyes now tightly shut, head lowered towards his knees as he hugged them tightly to his chest, rocking slightly back and forth. Eyes still fixated on Kurt, she began to move towards him slowly, one foot in front of the other, almost as though she were preparing to walk a balance beam.
Seeing this, another high-pitched whimper escapes Rachel, and without seeming to think twice about it, she turns abruptly on her heels and begins to move aside the chairs and table that had been blocking the doorway out into the hallway of the school, intent on escape. She seemed not to remember in that brief moment of panic that there were others like Brittany outside, that there were likely more of them, that there was no way to know whether or not they were armed or would be faster or more efficient at kills than Brittany currently was. Or maybe she was thinking very clearly indeed; maybe she had made a calculated decision that she would have a chance, at least, to outrun others, whereas trapped in one room, she would not. Perhaps it had crossed her thoughts that if she were to die, she would rather it be at the hands of a stranger than of someone who had once been her friend. Whatever she was thinking, whatever her intentions, Rachel turned, opened the door, and slammed it shut behind herself, leaving the other four still within the room.
By the time Santana and Quinn, still struggling with each other on the ground, realized that Rachel had gone, and had started to pull apart from each other, hurriedly getting to their feet as they intended to split forces- one going after Rachel, the other moving to help protect Kurt, to stop Brittany- it was already too late. They could hear the sounds of Rachel's screams outside the doorway, of Kurt's breathless pleas and broken sobbing against the wall, and Santana didn't bother to so much as open the door to look down the hallway to what was happening to Rachel. She knew; she didn't have to see. All she could do then was to re-stack the chairs and table back in front of the door as rapidly as possible before turning to see what was happening with the others, even as Quinn's shouts arose again, as Kurt's screams pierced her ears.
Some time when the other girls had been distracted, Brittany had managed to find and take hold of a kitchen knife, either having taken it from one of the drawers by the sinks and cabinets, or else someone had carelessly and foolishly left it out for her to see. It was with this knife now that she held Kurt captive, and even as Quinn grabbed up the dropped toilet paper holder and hit her between the shoulder blades, then in the back of the head, screaming out her name, Brittany didn't drop the knife, or even turn to face her. Instead, she plunged the knife directly into Kurt's throat, burying it to its hilt.
Kurt didn't scream; it was possible he was not able to. He made no movement, either towards Brittany or towards himself. Instead, as Brittany pulled the knife from him, beginning to stab him with imprecise thrusts in his stomach, his chest, even his cheek, he closed his eyes tightly, making no effort to fight her off. And when Brittany turned at last, responding to Santana's screaming her name, or perhaps just to Quinn repeatedly trying, around Santana's efforts to restrain her, to keep hitting her with the metal holder, she still showed little signs of feeling the pain of Quinn's blows, even as blood continued to slowly trickle down the wound at the back of her head. In fact, when Quinn hit her again, Brittany reacted faster than either had expected.
Her hand snatching out, she seized hold of the holder and managed to rip it out of Quinn's grasp. With one harsh swing she struck Quinn upside the head with it, sending the girl staggering back against Santana and almost knocking her over to the ground. Holder in one hand, knife in the other, Brittany stepped forward, hitting Quinn again until the smaller girl did fall to the ground. She hit her again, then again, until Quinn was bleeding from the mouth, until she was spitting out blood and teeth, until Santana had attached herself to Brittany's back and was pulling at her arms and shoulders, screaming, sobbing, struggling to get her back from her. And then, for a few moments, Brittany appeared to listen.
She dropped the holder beside Quinn, looking down at the girl's gasping form impassively, and as Santana gulped and wept audibly behind her, draped over her almost in an embrace, Brittany didn't acknowledge her. And then, with one decisive movement, her knife flicked across Quinn's throat, cutting deep.
There were no last words from Quinn, only that terrible flash of understanding of her fate that crossed her eyes just before all thoughts and livelihood left them entirely. There was nothing, nothing but Santana's shuddering sobs against Brittany's back, her heavy tears dampening the girl's shoulder blade as she kept her arms locked tightly around her, refusing to let her go.
Brittany didn't move for some time, didn't react to the weight against her back, to the last living presence so near her. And when she finally shrugged Santana off of her, it was almost gently, as though even in her current state, she could somehow sense that this person, this circumstance was different than the ones before. As Brittany slowly stood, Santana stood with her, her legs shaking, tears still streaking so heavily down her cheeks that her vision blurred, and she could barely make out Brittany's features at all. Nevertheless she stood, facing her, seeing Brittany's chest rise and fall evenly, seeing the blood streaking her lips and chin and arms, and even then, she loved her; even then, she knew more than she knew any other truth left in the world that she always would. Even then.
"I won't do it," she whispered, her voice cracking badly, as more tears spilled over. "I won't hurt you, Brittany…I can't."
She watched as Brittany's even breathing slowly began to stagger, as the girl blinked, as a sheen of what looked to Santana like reflecting tears came into her gaze. Brittany did not speak, did not step towards her, did not offer any sort of apology or regret; she could not have done so, but still, there was that trace of what Santana took to be tears, and it was enough for her to hope and dream and wish upon with all her might.
Brittany was in there, she was sure of it. Somewhere, somehow, some piece of Brittany was still in there, and it was this that she responded to, for this that Santana stepped forward, taking Brittany into her arms.
Within the ever familiar, always comforting presence of her best friend and ex-girlfriend's embrace, Santana wept, hiding her face in the hollow of Brittany's throat, and felt the girl's arms slowly close around her shoulders. She could feel the sticky heat of other's blood seeping into her clothing, Brittany's hot, staggered breaths against her hair, her heart racing against her own, and Brittany's hand was on her hair, not stroking, but there, its weight somehow steadying in spite of it all.
She knew that likely within moments, whatever respite from her infection Brittany was experiencing now would come to a close. She knew that this moment would not last, that Brittany's embrace would become a capture, that the breath against her hair would move down lower towards her throat, that Brittany's mouth would open wide to bite through her skin. She knew this, and she braced herself for it, and did not try to stop it or move away. It was inevitable now; there was nowhere to go, no other way to be, and so Santana closed her eyes and concentrated on the beating of Brittany's heart against hers, the warmth of her skin.
If this were her fate, if this were her end….then it was best, it was fitting, that she would die within the embrace of Brittany's arms, no matter how her death might come about. It was right, and so she waited, even as Brittany's mouth moved ever closer to her pulse point, open too wide for a kiss.