A/N- Thank you all for your wonderful reviews, this is the final chapter of this story. I hope you've enjoyed the journey!
You can't breathe right.
It's not that you are breathing wrong. You spent enough time breathing wrong on the side of a road, tasting blood and gasoline, feeling air slip out of your destroyed left lung like water in a sieve, that you know exactly what it feels like to breathe wrong.
This isn't it.
This is the too close, the every cliche suffocating feeling of diving too deep in a pool, the final drawn out breath just before you cross the finish line, but you aren't in a race, there's no prize here, and nobody is congratulating you because you aren't allowed to stop yet.
You can't breathe right so you leave. The room is so crowded anyways that nobody really notices your absence, you squeeze Rachel's shoulder, press a kiss to her forehead, because you really do love her, and you really are so proud of her, but you can't breathe.
You leave the room and walk all they way down the hall until there's no more hallway and you're in a staircase. You were taught in school that smoke rises, and all the same, you follow your hummingbird heart all the way up the stairs until you find a door that will take you out onto the roof.
You don't go anywhere near the edge, you haven't thought those kinds of thoughts since you were twenty and still so young. Besides, the lights of the city at night are far too beautiful to be thinking about taking a dive. Rather, you lean back against the wall beside the door you've just come out of, and you breath.
You focus on your out breath because that's what your therapist has always been telling you, and for how much you're paying her, you might as well take her advice. You consider going to the stop and shop down the road and buying a pack of cigarettes, but you haven't smoked since you were in high school and you decided to dye your hair hot pink.
Instead, you take a deep breath, and scuff your shoes against the concrete of the roof.
You don't hear the door open behind you, and you don't hear the even footsteps track across the roof to stand beside you. Rather, you see the black of your best friend's blow in the wind, and you know Santana has found you out.
"How did you know I'd be up here?" You ask without bothering to actually look at her.
"It might be because I know you, and it might be because I followed your unsneaky ass."
You can hear the smirk on her voice, and all it takes is one sideways glance to verify the expression.
"Tell me something." You ask, wanting to be distracted.
Santana shakes her head because you're both nearly thirty and you're still playing this game, "I haven't been in a hospital since your car accident."
You nod, because you know that Santana's never liked hospitals and even less after that day.
"Tell me something." She asks.
"I want to smoke." You say.
"No you don't." Santana says without hesitation, "Because if you did, I would kick your ass so hard, you would feel it in the lung and a half you have left."
You laugh because you both know that she's right.
"Tell me something."
She shoves her hands deep in the pockets of her jacket, and for a moment you wonder how she manages to look so damn put together even at this ungodly hour, "I still don't know what I want to do with my life."
You smile because her definition of 'don't know what to do' equates to not knowing if she wants to run for public office the next election season, or take the position she was just offered at one of the most prestigious law firms in the city.
"I'm sure whatever you chose to do will end up being the best for you."
Santana shakes her head, "Tell me something."
"I'm not ready to be a mother." You admit quietly. It's something that's been weighing on your mind for nearly a year, more so in the past nine months especially. Now standing on the roof of a hospital where three floors down your wife and newborn daughter are waiting, you can hardly bring yourself to say these words out loud.
"You've always been ready to be a mother." Santana replies easily.
"But what if-"
"No buts." She interrupts you, "Do you love Rachel?"
"This is ridiculous."
"Answer me blondie, do you love Rachel?" Santana asks, narrowing her eyes, and forcing you to meet her own.
"You know I do."
"And do you love the adorable eight and a quarter pounds of baby girl downstairs?"
"Then you're ready." She concludes easily.
"My mom loved Fran and I, that didn't make her a good mother." You whisper sadly. It's something you've been coming to admit more and more easily lately as you come to accept your past as a part of you that you'll never really be able to get away from.
"You are nothing like your mother, nor will you ever be. Bad parenting isn't genetic."
"It's just, what if I mess the kid up?"
Santana pulls you in for a hug, she knows you don't like breaking down like this, but you let yourself be held for just a minute.
"Everything will be fine. You and Rachel are going to spoil that little girl rotten, and she's going to grow up believing that she can do anything because people come from across the world to hear her mom sing, and her mother writes novels that spark social change. She's going to grow up with all the love in the world."
Before you know it, Santana's wiping the tears leaking from your eyes, and straightening your hair, and you know that you must look like a mess.
"Now let's go back down there so you can try and fight with Rachel more about the name, then in two minutes concede and let her name your daughter Nora, because we all know that you let Rachel have what she wants."
You sniffle once more, and hug Santana one last time because you're still not good at the whole 'L-word' thing before you straighten your shoulders and prepare to go back to your family.
But you can do this, because you have a family one with unconditional love, and singing barefoot in the kitchen while you make Rachel pancakes, and movie nights where Rachel insists on watching scary movies even though you both know she won't sleep through the night afterwards, and now a beautiful daughter who already has Rachel's perfect chocolate brown eyes, and the most adorable dimples you've ever seen.