|The Rest Of Our Lives
Author: Tribbith PM
No one imagined Finn Hudson to become the owner of one of the most popular bars in New York, and no one imagined Rachel Berry to be a Lima loser after all.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Finn H. & Rachel B. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 92,204 - Reviews: 236 - Favs: 182 - Follows: 132 - Updated: 09-15-11 - Published: 03-02-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6791071
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There's so much fire. The smoke is choking him and he can't feel his legs and where's Rachel? He needs Rachel to be safe but he can't see her so he yells and yells and yells.
Finn woke to Rachel gently shaking his shoulders. "Finn baby, it's okay, it was just a dream."
He moaned and groggily blinked a few times before he broke into a wide smile, because of course, it was just another nightmare. "What time is it?"
"Early enough for you to get some more rest if you want," she said softly while she stroked his cheek.
"I need to use the bathroom a sec," Finn said with a nod, and as he swung his legs out of bed, Rachel jumped up and hurried to help support him.
"Not so fast," she scolded, and Finn rolled his eyes, because she was just like his mom (except Rachel was actually worse than her, but he loved her for that). "Do you need any help getting ready?"
"Nah, I can manage, thanks Rach. Just... Can you sit on the bed and like, not move? I need to show you something."
Perplexed but intrigued all the same, Rachel simply nodded, and waited diligently for him while he limped slowly into the bathroom of their new apartment.
Well, it was new-ish, and they actually had a double bed to share (though they still ended up cuddled together each night without fail).
The support bars on practically every wall still made his heart sink a little, 'cause it sucked not being steady enough to walk properly on his own, but his physical therapist told him that if he stuck with the sessions, he'd be as good as new in no time (he still refused to use the walking stick he'd been given though).
Ten minutes later, his teeth were brushed and he was back on the bed (with only one slight stumble, and Rachel had been there, as always, to catch him).
"Are you going back to sleep?" she asked innocently while she ran her fingers through his hair, and for a second, Finn was definitely tempted; he was sure he was a dog or something in a former life, 'cause there was nothing as comforting as being stroked.
"No, I still need to show you something," he said, and with the briefest of winks that left Rachel giggling, he pushed her down onto the bed and kissed her as passionately as he could muster so early in the morning.
"Mmm, minty," she murmured appreciatively, and Finn shrugged before kissing her again, his tongue tracing patterns in her mouth.
"I didn't want to subject you to my morning breath."
Rachel scraped her nails down his back and wrapped her legs around his waist, and sucked briefly on his bottom lip. "That's very thoughtful of you."
"That's what they all say."
Even if he was still learning to walk properly, he hadn't forgotten how to have awesome sex with his awesome girlfriend.
"I don't want to do this," he said through gritted teeth, and though she knew how weak and vulnerable he felt, Rachel couldn't let him quit. It hurt though, so much, to see him crying day and night without being able to help, and she knew that for him to get better, he had to attend physical therapy.
"It'll be fine," she said as she pushed him down the hospital corridor in his wheelchair. "I'll be there the whole time, and-"
"No." She could hear him whimpering, and her heart all but broke at the tortured sound. "I don't want you to see me like this, pathetic and useless and ugh, fucking hell."
Rachel stopped, set the brakes on the chair, then moved around to the front, staring into her boyfriend's red rimmed eyes. Half of his face was still covered in bandages after one of his many skin grafts, and yes, though he admittedly looked beaten and worn down, he was anything but useless.
"Though we're not married... yet," she whispered with a smile, and Finn managed a tiny smile in return, "I promise to love you in sickness and in health." Carefully, knowing that his hands were still sore and badly burnt, she took one in her own and softly ran a thumb over his knuckles. "I know that you're hurting in so many ways, Finn, and I know that you hate to rely on other people or show physical weakness, but you need to do this, and I'm going to stay." Before he could protest, she gently pressed a finger to his dry lips. "Before you protest and insist that you want to do this on your own, I'm going to be there. I want to watch you be strong and get through this, and then we can look back on your bravery and be proud of what you've achieved."
Finn looked taken aback, and though he said nothing, she could see the doubt in his shining eyes. "I know it's going to be scary at first, and you might get frustrated at how little you can do, but it's about perseverance. When you first joined the glee club, your voice was average, and after some forceful vocal training by none other than yours truly, you were slightly better than average, so it can be done." She winked at him and he let out a small but honest laugh, which she claimed as a victory.
"I love you Rach," he said, and he pulled her against him for a brief kiss, tears rolling down his scorched cheeks.
"I love you too Finn, and I know you can do this."
She definitely knew he could do this.
Rachel checked the rota for the third time that morning, and though she knew how much it annoyed Kurt when she did so, she re-checked her watch and cell phone simultaneously.
"Don't you think you're babying him, Rachel?"
She looked up after clarifying that all of the shifts were in order and frowned, glancing at the clock behind Kurt's head. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Please," he drawled as he put away one of several hundred wine glasses, "you treat Finn like he's an invalid who can't do anything for himself; do you think that will help him psychologically? Soon he'll come to depend on you when he doesn't need to, and-"
"Hey, Hummel," barked Puck from the kitchen, "lay off Berry, she's doing an awesome job."
Rachel beamed at that comment (since Noah rarely complimented her), and overcome with a childish need to gloat, she stuck her tongue out at Kurt. "I'm doing no such thing," she said primly. "In fact, I'm trying to let him cope on his own."
"I've seen you both though! You're his walking stick and you do everything for him!"
If it hadn't been for the fact that Finn had made love to her just an hour before, Rachel would have snapped Kurt's head off in outrage. However, still high on the euphoria of knowing that someone loved her so intensely, she found herself to be calm and collected.
"It may appear that way when you come to visit, but that's only in a short period of time. In fact, Finn can walk unsupervised around the apartment, and I only have to help him when he's nervous he's going to make a fool of himself in front of you." Kurt's cheeks flushed with colour at the revelation, and she continued as she placed a soft hand on her friend's arm. "You know that me working here isn't necessary. Finn insisted that I let you run things like you have been, but the reason I'm here is because he needs to learn how to look after himself."
Kurt looked dumbfounded. "Really? Isn't that hard for you?"
"It's awful," she admitted quietly, and Kurt pulled out a stool for her before pouring them both a glass of lemonade. "Whenever I'm away from him, I'm worried that he's slipped in the shower or has fallen over the coffee table. Sometimes I worry that he's hiding how painful it all is." She took a sad sip from her drink and shrugged slightly, tears brimming in her eyes. "Sometimes I wonder if he cries when I'm not there, and then I just want to rush home and hug him forever."
Kurt drunk some of his orange to avoid having to talk (his tears were a little less subtle than Rachel's), and once they'd finished, they didn't talk about it again, and simply focused on getting the bar ready for the night.
Artie was terrified as soon as they stepped foot (and wheeled) inside the building. He remembered, in the days of high school, when Puck had told him all about juvie, and how mortified he'd been at some of the details (he thought the whole claiming bitches thing was a myth). This place? It looked a hundred times worse, and he couldn't imagine anyone living in there, even Santana.
He rolled beside Brittany, who looked lost and a little intimidated, and he wondered if this was such a good idea after all. Either way, if his girlfriend wanted to visit her ex-best friend, he was obligated to accompany her.
After signing in and sitting in the waiting room with a group of scary looking people, they were called in to see Santana, who looked completely different in her new environment. It wasn't just her lack of makeup that made her looked washed out, but her whole appearance was beaten down and defeated, and it didn't suit her at all.
Her eyes barely lit up when Brittany took her seat, Artie sitting beside her, and she didn't offer them a smile of any sort.
"I don't understand why you're both here," she said dully, and he looked nervously at his girlfriend; so much for introductions.
"We wanted to see if you were okay," said Brittany innocently, and she squeezed Artie's hand; Santana's gaze flickered down briefly at the interaction, but a second later she looked back at the table separating them, her eyes distant.
"Well I'm not, so you can go now."
"Do you have your own bitch yet?"
Santana raised an eyebrow in Artie's direction while Brittany held back a giggle, and miraculously, the Latina cracked some semblance of a rusty smile.
"Very funny wheels. Actually, I just keep myself to myself and try not to attract too much attention."
"Are you sad?" Both Santana and Artie looked at Brittany, who was twirling a piece of hair around her finger. "Well, San?"
"Yes," she said with a sigh and a shrug. "I'm still super pissed that Jacob used me when I hadn't killed that guy, and I'm still super guilty that I shot you in the first place." She bit her lip, cocking her head in intrigue. "Why don't you two hate me? I could have killed you Britt, and you're just acting like it's no big deal."
"I don't hate you," said the blonde quietly. "I know you were just frightened of Jacob and everything that was going wrong, and it was an accident." She mirrored Santana's shrug. "I forgive you."
They didn't miss the tear that slipped down Santana's cheek.
"How's it all going man?" asked Artie as they played their third game of Halo. Finn liked hanging out with the guy, because unlike Kurt, who had to check that he wasn't dying every five minutes, Artie gave him space and acted like it was no big deal. Finn figured that he was used to being pitied and all that kind of crap, and he understood how annoying it could be when people thought you weren't capable of looking after yourself.
"I think I have everything ready," he said with a grin before briefly shouting at the TV in outrage. "I'm still shitting bricks that something's gonna go wrong, but yeah, I'm as ready as can be."
Artie glanced away from the flat screen to briefly smile across at his friend, though he paid the price when he was shot from behind.
"Damn it," he growled, and Finn leaned over to pat him on the back.
"Man, you really have gotten worse over the years." Artie gave him the middle finger as Brittany walked in, Lord Tubbington in her grasp and Lady Whiskerly trailing behind (why they had to bring their goddamn cats every time, Finn would never know).
"Artie, stop that, the babies will see!"
Finn chuckled as he turned off the game, 'cause he knew that the two of them were heading out to visit Santana in jail, something they'd started doing regularly since the 'incident' at the bar. Rach had been furious when she'd first heard that they were going to see her, but as far as he could see, it was a good thing, since not even Santana deserved to be alone.
"Are you nervous about tonight, Finn?" Brittany asked softly whilst she brushed her long blonde hair and pulled it into a ponytail. He noticed, as her shirt rode up and her stomach was slightly exposed, that the scar was bigger than he thought it would be. Still, it was kind of one of those things that they didn't talk about. Sure, Santana was an okay topic to breach, but any reference to the shooting made Brittany uncharacteristically quiet, so everyone backed off.
"Yeah," he said, biting his lip. "You promise you'll both be there, right?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world."
Finn pulled them both in for a hug.
"Today's the big day," said the doctor in an over the top, chipper manner, and Rachel felt Finn squeeze her fingers automatically. She wanted to ask the man to tone down his enthusiasm, because since the accident, this had been the thing Finn looked forward to the least. "Are you nervous?"
Before he could protest and curse at the doctor, Rachel stepped in for her boyfriend, knowing that being polite was preferable to being crude. "Not to be disrespectful, Dr Price, but that question seems a little unnecessary. Finn and I are both trying to deal with this the best way we can, and though I'll love him just as much if his burns are worse than expected, it's obvious that we're both slightly nervous."
The doctor, instead of looking embarrassed, simply let out a loud, bellowing laugh that made Finn wince and look away. "Sorry I spoke." He checked the chart that hung on the end of the bed, made a few additions to the forms, then approached Finn, who was looking more and more green with every footstep.
"Maybe we should wait for another day."
"Nonsense," said Dr Price in an offhand manner. "I'll remove the bandages and hand your girlfriend a mirror. Take as long as you need; I'll leave the room and come back later to properly examine you."
The silence strangled Rachel as she watched, fearful, while the doctor slowly unravelled the bandages from Finn's face. She had a vague idea of what he'd look like, since his burns would no doubt resemble the ones that covered the rest of his body, yet she was still terrified that he'd look un-Finnlike.
Quite honestly, she knew she would always love him, even if the bandages revealed that he now looked like a monkey. For her, it had never just been Finn's physical appearance that had attracted her, and though it would be painful to see such a perfect face damaged in some way, it wouldn't make any difference to her.
It was Finn that she was worried for. Though he rarely voiced his concerns to her, Kurt had relayed the information several times that his brother thought Rachel was going to leave him if he was too badly scarred. Every time his doubts got the better of him, she'd try to make him see that she'd always love him, no matter what, but he never quite believed her.
"Okay, here's the mirror," said the doctor quietly, and he handed the object over to Rachel, who had her eyes closed tightly. "I'll see you in a few hours, Finn."
The door closed, the silence remained, and eventually, Finn cleared his throat. "Um, Rach, are you gonna uh... look at me?"
His voice alone broke her heart, because now more than ever, she could hear how terrified he was.
Taking a deep breath, Rachel readied herself, opened and her eyes, and gasped loudly, causing Finn to grit his teeth and look away bitterly.
"Just go," he growled. He didn't look at her when the bed dipped at her weight, and he didn't look at her when she softly placed her hand on his cheek.
"Baby, turn this way."
Tears ran down Finn's face, and though he was reluctant, he turned to her, his expression a mixture of anger and fear.
From a medical point of view, Finn had suffered major burns, and it was pure luck that his right eye hadn't been damaged in the fire. The right side of his face was distorted and unfamiliar, skin grafts making it uneven and raw, and everything seemed to shine, pink and painful. Though his lips were practically unscathed, they dipped in almost a grimace, though Rachel wasn't sure if that was just because of Finn's current mood.
Clumps of hair had disappeared, burnt bald patches left in their place, and his right ear looked almost black, though the doctor had insisted once before that it would eventually improve over time.
"You're beautiful," she whispered, and for a second, Finn managed a smile, pulling uncomfortably at the healing skin.
"You don't mean that, and don't say it if you're just going to leave me."
Ignoring him, she curiously ran a finger over the burnt side of his face, getting familiar with the texture and the feel underneath her touch. He said nothing, only sat and watched her in a half daze as her finger moved to his lips. She trailed over the outline of his mouth, exploring every part of his face, and when she'd memorised him, she gently cupped his face in her hands and kissed him with all the passion and love she had in her heart. Though surprised and confused at first, Finn gave in to her lips, and they shared a long, needy kiss that left both of them breathless and dizzy.
"You're beautiful," she said whilst she ran a hand through his hair, a blush on her cheeks. "A burn is a burn, and I'm just glad that your freckles weren't melted off in the fire."
Finn gave her a crooked grin that still, after all these years, made her heart flutter, and she knew they'd be okay, even if it was going to hurt at the same time.
"In fact," she whispered, peppering kisses over his damaged cheek, "I think it's kind of hot."
"No you don't," he snorted, and she silenced him with a brief kiss.
"Yes I do. It's a reminder of how amazing you are. You went through so much to keep your friends and family safe, and none of us will ever forget that." She wiped away one of the tears that ran down his face (she was used to the fact that was Finn was more emotional after the fire) and rested her head against his chest while she listened to the comforting sound of his heartbeat. "You're really beautiful, Finn, and it's going to take a lot more than a tiny burn to make me stop loving you."
At that moment, Finn didn't care what he looked like, because it didn't matter, so long as he always had her.
Rachel couldn't wait for her day to be over. Though she loved working at the bar (well, it was more of a love of actually performing at the bar), she constantly missed Finn, and like she'd told Kurt, it was hard to be away from him, knowing that he might be struggling on his own.
He'd come a long way in six months though, and considering he hadn't been able to walk after the fire, she was so proud of how far he'd come, even if he had a little bit of trouble now and again.
"Do you mind if I take the night off?"
Kurt's head snapped up as she shook it frantically from side to side. "You are certainly not disappearing tonight!" he all but squeaked, and Rachel was taken aback by his insistence. Yes, he was the 'boss' now (until Finn returned at least), but they had some sort of an understanding, and she wanted to go home and see her boyfriend.
"Why?" She put her hands on her hips and frowned indignantly; Noah was always taking random nights off to look after his pregnant girlfriend, so why should she be exempt from occasionally skipping her shift?
"B-because... because it's going to be busy!" Kurt busied himself with making some kind of nasty looking cocktail, and Rachel didn't question it when he added coffee beans, apple juice and vodka because something was going on.
"It's always busy, but that doesn't stop me usually."
"It's just important that you work tonight, that's all. We're... We're short staffed, and I need you because... because Barbra requested that you sing for her!" He looked proud of himself, and Rachel rolled her eyes; he was a terrible liar. "Yes, that's it, she requested you specifically, so you can't disappoint one of our best customers."
"Fine," she said with a huff, and she disappeared into the kitchen to prepare the more popular dishes (Quinn worked sporadically, being pregnant and all). Whatever Kurt was planning, she knew that he was up to no good.
Either way, since she was a good friend, she would humour him, and make him pay in the future somehow.
"So, what do you think? Good or bad idea?"
Kurt practically pounced on Finn, engulfing him in an extremely tight hug, and even though all he could see was Sam's chest before he joined in on the action, he could hear his mom crying already.
"I love it!" breathed Kurt, and Finn awkwardly patted his brother on the back.
"You can both let go now," he mumbled, slightly embarrassed, and when they'd both taken their seats, he smiled at his mom. "You're crying in a good way, right?"
"Course she is son." God, even Burt was tearing up, and if they didn't quit it, Finn would be joining them. "We'll help in any way we can."
"You're looking extremely handsome today."
Finn looked over his shoulder and grinned at Quinn, who, as always, had a protective hand over her belly. He couldn't remember how far she was or whatever, but according to Rachel, she'd been pregnant before the whole Jacob shit had hit the fan, and without sounding rude, she was pretty huge now.
She looked completely different the second time round, and not just because she was older. The first time, with Beth and everything, she hadn't been comfortable in her own skin (even Finn could see that) and she'd never been happy having a baby in her belly.
Now that the pregnancy was a good thing, she practically glowed wherever she went, and he knew, without a doubt, that her and Puck were gonna be awesome parents.
"Thanks," he said, and he brushed down his suit, only wincing slightly at the constant pain in his right shoulder. "Could you help with my tie please?"
Rolling her eyes with a smile, Quinn walked into his bedroom and pulled up his collar before wrapping the tie around his neck.
"I already know what the answer is going to be, but are you nervous?"
He laughed and nodded, gulping as he checked his watch. "Yeah, but it'll be worth it."
"She's going to be so happy," the blonde said softly, and when his tie was all sorted out, Finn pulled her against him into a careful hug (he didn't really wanna squash the baby).
"I hope so," he whispered, and once he'd managed to put on his shoes, the two left the apartment, Finn shaking from head to toe.
By nine o'clock, the bar was filled to the brim with customers, and Rachel felt like she was drowning. She was still in her element though, and after working in the kitchen for a few hours, she was out serving drinks to those who waited, occasionally singing a song or two to a round of impressive applause.
She'd tried, countless times, to convince Kurt to let her go, but even she could see that it was too busy for her to disappear, so she persevered, grimacing now and again when she thought of Finn on his own.
Rachel smiled briefly in Sam's direction, and was a little taken aback when she saw Brittany and Artie beside him; she hadn't realised that they were in the city.
"Hey guys, how are things?"
Sam had already zoned out of the conversation and was instead watching his fiancé singing some Wicked song, and Brittany was too busy checking her cell to pay any attention, so it was left to Artie to reply, though Rachel could barely see him over the bar.
"Good thanks. We went to see Santana today, and she seems to be getting better."
"That's nice. I'm sorry, I'd really like to stay and chat, but it's busy tonight and I need to give Natalie Portman her drinks."
"No you don't."
Rachel almost dropped the tray of glasses in her hand at the sound of the familiar voice, and, eyes wide, she looked up at Finn, who was grinning so hard that she wondered if she had something embarrassing on her face.
"F-Finn, what are you doing here?" She placed the tray on the bar and stood on the tips of her toes so she could pull him into her for a hug. She could feel him chuckling as her arms wrapped themselves around her neck, and damn, she really had missed him, and she wasn't sure if that was healthy.
"Can't I stop by my own bar to say hi to my awesome girlfriend?" he teased, and when she pulled back, she noticed that he was all dressed up (and looking especially fine).
"Of course, I- It's a nice surprise." She smiled at him, and he smiled at her, and before she could ask him what was really going on, Kurt was tapping his finger against the microphone on the stage.
"Could I get everyone's attention please?"
"Sssh, listen to Kurt."
Rachel, more than a little confused, directed her gaze at Kurt, and her hand found Finn's, which made her feel more at ease (why did she have the feeling that this was all some kind of huge prank?).
"Tonight, the owner of Faithfully bar, Mr Finn Hudson himself, is in the premises for the first time since the unfortunate incident that occurred here six months before. If you could all give him a round of applause for being brave, that would be wonderful."
Every single person in the room began to clap and cheer for Finn, and Rachel could see the tips of his ears burning bashfully. "I won't be long," he whispered as he kissed her forehead, and while her heart slammed frantically against her chest, she watched him walk unsteadily towards the stage.
"Thanks man," he grinned at Kurt, and he took the microphone in his own hands, quickly scanning the room for someone or another. "Hey, I'm uh, I'm Finn Hudson, and like Kurt said, this is actually the first time I've seen the place since it was rebuilt and remodelled and stuff." He nodded and smiled a little awkwardly in a way that made Rachel melt, because he'd never been comfortable with speaking publicly. "Looks good, huh?"
There were a few cheers, and Rachel giggled when she heard Elton John wolf whistle at the back of the room.
"Anyway, uh, I'm not just here to admire the scenery," Finn continued. "Actually, I have a surprise in store, and a few of my friends came to help."
On cue, her parents, Finn's parents, and Sean and Celine walked towards the stage from out of nowhere, and it took all Rachel had not to cry; it felt like forever since she'd last seen any of them.
"Rach, could you um- Could you come over here, please?" Finn was grinning from ear to ear, and with the whole bar silent, she walked hesitantly into the middle of the floor, smiling timidly at her parents and granting Sean with a wave. "Okay, so, when we were apart, it pretty much sucked balls." A few people laughed, and Rachel giggled when she saw Carole giving him a disappointed glare. "Even though I was a dick for not taking you back, I wanted to, so badly, and I wrote a song for you that I never got to perform." He cleared his throat and nodded to someone behind her, and when a live band started playing (with Artie, Sam and Puck all on guitar), Finn closed his eyes and began to sing.
Face to face and heart to heart; we're so close yet so far apart
He was amazing at many things, whether it was playing the drums, getting her to stay in bed for a little longer, or having a heart big enough to forgive anything, but Rachel had never suspected that he was a secret song writer, and not just a mediocre one; he was phenomenal. Brittany, Quinn and Kurt began to sing in the background, harmonising gently with the powerful lyrics, and through no choice of her own, tears rushed down Rachel's face as she listened to Finn's heart in every word.
Before she knew it, the song was over, and all she wanted to do was hug him forever, but he cleared his throat and modestly accepted the overwhelming applause before he continued with his speech. "Thank you, thanks. Yeah, uh, I wrote that a few years ago, and I just wanted you to know that even though we were apart for so long, I never stopped loving you, and I was stupid for not realising that sooner."
And then he stepped off of the stage and began to approach her, and the fire in his eyes made his knees go weak. Whatever he had to say now, it was just for the two of them, because without a microphone, his voice wouldn't carry more than a few feet away.
"Rachel," he said softly, tilting her face up towards his, "I love you more than you'll ever know, and I've never been so sure about something before; I just want to spend the rest of my life with you." He gave her his infamous crooked grin that made her laugh and tear up, but when he started to kneel down, she pulled him back up and placed her hands on his cheeks.
"Finn, kneeling down is something that you haven't conquered in physical therapy yet, and you could injure yourself and-" Her face went white as she placed a hand over her chest. "Oh my God, why do you want to kneel down? I-"
Still smiling, Finn got down on one knee, barely wincing. "I've actually been practicing this for a while," he admitted as he took her hand, and Rachel looked like she was going to pass out at any moment. "You're it for me, Rachel, and even if I've always known it, this stuff with the fire and everything... You've just been so amazing, and you've never complained about having to look after me, and you still love me, even though I'm ugly as hell." She tutted and was about to interrupt, but he shook his head, and she simply bit her lip instead.
"Rachel Barbra Berry, even though I'm gonna be a huge burden on you, I thought..." He gulped and licked his lips, and the girl in front of him giggled at his nerves. "You know, you can marry me if you want to."
"I want to," she breathed, and Finn spluttered as his eyes widened.
"Of course I do!"
Their friends and family cheered around them as Rachel helped Finn up and leapt into his arms, sharing a kiss, and it wasn't until Kurt screamed a reminder about the ring that Finn remembered that he had it in his pocket.
"Oops, yeah, I probably should have given you this first," he said lamely as he fished it out of his pants. He opened the tiny box, hoping she wouldn't be too disappointed by the small diamond and simple gold band, though judging by the way she squealed and practically deafened him, it had been a good choice.
"Oh my God Finn, it's beautiful!" she squeaked, and she shakily held out her hand to him. He carefully slipped it on (and sighed in relief that it fit) before leaning in to brush his lips over her temple.
"Gold rings are important, and this gold ring is a metaphor for you being um... something."
She was about to kiss him again when she was bombarded with hugs from her fathers and everyone in between, and when she was sure that she'd shown her perfect ring to just about everyone, she found herself standing in front of Finn again, who was flushed with excitement and pride.
"I have one more surprise." He took Rachel's hands (silently marvelling at how awesome Rachel's hand looked with the new addition) and nodded in Puck's direction, and just like before, music started playing, though this time it was the unusual combination of Sean and Kurt who began to sing.
"Faithfully," Rachel breathed as she gazed up at Finn in adoration.
"Yeah," he said shyly, placing her hands on his shoulders as his rested on her hips. "I know they're not gonna be as good as us, but I wanted this song to play while I showed you what else I've been practicing."
Thought it was slightly awkward at first, Finn started a gentle sway of a dance, and Rachel teared up as she leaned into his body, moving with him as he did his best not to step on her feet.
"Are you sure you're not in pain?" she whispered against his shoulder, and he nodded, concentrating on the rhythm.
"I'm a little sore, but it's totally worth it. I can't believe we're engaged!"
Rachel laughed, burying her face against his chest, and as they danced slowly to the music, Finn smiled over at his mom, who was watching proudly, Burt by her side.
"You named the bar after us, didn't you?"
Caught off guard by her question, he grinned and shrugged as he twirled her around. "I might have."
"I love you Finn."
"I love you too Rachel."
It was getting late, and after working so hard, Rachel wanted nothing more than to sink into bed beside Finn, who had that glint in his eye that meant she wouldn't exactly be sleeping for a while. She was about to reward him when the phone started to ring, and though Finn slumped back against the bed with a groan, she knew she had to answer it.
"I won't be long baby," she said softly before blowing him a kiss, and her lips quirked when she saw him catch it and pretend to press it against his heart. Honestly, sometimes she couldn't handle how utterly adorable he was.
Reluctantly, she stepped out of the bedroom and picked up the receiver, holding it to her ear.
"Hi there. I hope this isn't an inadequate time but I'm calling on behalf of a national survey. Could you spare five minutes to help collect some data?"
Rachel frowned; they were calling a little late, but knowing it wouldn't take long, she was feeling particularly generous. "Of course."
"Thank you. Though the questions may appear a little personal, they will not be distributed for third party use, and will be used in the strictest of confidence. Firstly, how old are you please?"
"Where do you live?"
"New York City."
"What is your occupation?"
"I work as a singing waitress, and sometimes a chef, at a bar."
"Did you attend college or any kind of further education?"
"I spent a year in college, though reluctantly had to drop out."
"Are you currently single?"
"Are you happy?"
"Yes, very much so."
"That's all; thank you for your time. But oh, one last thing. Could you give me your name, please?"
Rachel wrapped the cord of the phone around her finger, and with a smile that made her cheeks ache, she tried to control the butterflies in her stomach.
And she was planning on being Rachel Hudson for the rest of her life.
A/N: And there we have it, the very end of this story! I can't believe I actually stuck with it long enough to finish the damn thing haha, but yeah, there we go (it was corny and cliche, I know, I know, but I'm a sucker for fluff and a happy ending, so hopefully it wasn't too disappointing).
Thank you thank you thank you to every single person who has read, reviewed, alerted and favourited this story. I've had an absolute blast writing it, and I couldn't have done it without the insanely kind words of you wonderful people.
Though this story may have come to and end, I literally have about seven other fics that are almost ready for publication, so this is me closing a door and opening a new window (or whatever that saying is haha).
Again, thank you guys so much, and I hope you enjoyed it! (feel free to let me know, and if you have any specific questions about the characters that I didn't focus on as much, I'll be more than happy to answer them).
Rachael :) x