This chapter is like 99% angst, soaked in romance… so idk if it'll be any good at all!
So I was re-watching the second episode with a friend the other day and even though I thought that they made Rachel's body image issues quite funny the first time I watched it, this time it just really pissed me off that they were showing a beautiful, healthy young girl like Lea Michele sitting there saying she wanted to be skinnier so a boy would like her, cos it's a REALLY bad example! So this is kinda my answer to that!
Also I'm just bullshitting massive amounts of background information and all of my medical stuff is just (mildly) educated guess work and personal experience, so if its mostly wrong…get over it, I'm too lazy to do heaps of research!... just a heads up!
This week had been the scariest week of Finn's life, scarier even then the first week he had thought he was going to be a father, at least then he had known what was going on, well sort of, more so then now.
One minute every thing had been fine, and then he'd blinked and it has all gone to hell. She'd coughed a few times one Saturday afternoon at glee practice, and even though she'd seemed worried, she insisted that she was fine, and he believed her, because it was just a few coughs. He'd been busy with overdue homework on Sunday so they hadn't gone out like they usually did, and she hadn't come to school on the Monday, so he'd assumed she'd decided to stay home and try and ward off any bug that she was coming down with, she was so obsessed with protecting her voice.
He'd called her that night to check how she was feeling, but no one answered at her house, he tried a couple more times before trying her cell which was answered by her Aba. All he'd heard from the conversation was "sick" "fever" and "hospital" and aside from that nothing registered, he'd made his mom drive him to the hospital because he was too freaked out to do it himself. When he'd gotten there she'd been sleeping and he'd sat with her exhausted looking dad in the dark hallway outside her room while he explained what was wrong.
"Has Rachel ever told you about when she was little?" Finn shook his head, not quite sure what her father was referring to.
"She was born premature, she was so little, her whole body fit in my hand" and he stretched his hand out to show Finn, "her head could sit on my fingertips and her feet didn't go past my wrist. She spent four months in hospital, and even when she'd gotten big enough to take home she'd only been the size of an average newborn."
He sighed rubbing his hand over his face. "She used to get sick all the time, coughs, colds, flu's, chest infections, everything and anything, she'd get it." He paused as if bracing himself for the next part, "When she was about nine, she got a cold, which turned into pneumonia, and really bad bronchitis"
Finn nodded along, even though he didn't have a clue what that was. "She spent weeks in hospital, she was so sick, and afterwards she had all this scarring on her lungs" he gestured to his chest. "They told us she was would be really susceptible to chest infections, probably have all sorts of breathing problems for years. That's when we pushed her into more singing, it was like exercise for her lungs, she hated it at first, until she got stronger and then she realised how talented she was and she fell in love with it." He sighed again, clearly mentally exhausted as well as physically, he turned his head to peer into the dark room behind him and Finn's gaze followed. He could make out her outline on the hospital bed, she looked so little, which he thought was ironic considering how normal she looked on her king size bed back home. He could see her Aba sitting on a chair at her bed side, he was playing with her hair, watching her taking every breath. She was coughing in her sleep, every now and then, strong heaving coughs, so strong in fact, he was surprised it wasn't waking her up.
Her dad turned back around, leaning forwards, putting both elbows on his knees and letting his forehead rest on his palms. "She hasn't been this sick in years" he whispered, almost scared to admit it out loud, "we should have brought her in sooner, but we didn't think she'd get this bad." He sounded almost ashamed of himself.
Finn's heart went out to the older man, he himself was terrified, but on Saturday when she'd seemed a bit sick, something like this hadn't even crossed his mind. He placed his hand on the older mans shoulder "Rachel's the strongest person I've ever met, its hard to tell when she's not 100%" her father nodded in agreement, "sometimes I think she even fools herself" he admitted. Finn looked up at her dad, not wanting to upset him, but he couldn't help asking, "if she was this bad, why didn't you call me?" after all she was his girlfriend, regardless of how his dads felt about him, he should have known what was going on.
Her dad looked Finn in the eyes, nodding slightly almost as if her were agreeing with Finn's thoughts, "she asked us not too, she wanted to talk to you herself, but the medication made her so drowsy, she's been sleeping almost all day, we should have..." he trailed off a bit, "we haven't really been thinking straight" was all the explanation he gave, and Finn could understand that it was a non-malicious truth.
Finn's mother finally spoke, sitting in a chair on the opposite side of the hallway, "so, she's going to be fine, right? I mean they can fix everything and she'll be ok?" she seemed hesitant in asking, considering how she would be feeling if it were her son lying in that bed and someone were asking her the same question.
"She's on steroids to reduce the inflammation in her chest, and antibiotics for the chest infection. They're giving her ibuprofen to get the fever down, and another stronger painkiller because her breathings so painful and ragged, that's what's making her so sleepy. They've got an IV in her because they want to make sure she stays hydrated." He paused, knowing he hadn't actually answered the question, "If the antibiotics kick in quickly and the fever doesn't get any worse, she should be ok within a week or so, and we've just got to hope there's no more scarring." Neither Finn nor his mother asked what would happen if the antibiotics didn't work fast enough, neither of them wanted to know the answer.
Her dad yawned, before standing up and facing the room his daughter slept in, he watched her for a moment before he turned back to Finn, "look, there's no point in both of you staying here tonight, its very kind of you to come, but all she's going to do is sleep, you should go home, you have school tomorrow."
Finn shook his head, "no, I want to stay here" he looked pleadingly at his mother.
She glanced at him sympathetically, "sweet heart she needs to rest, there are plenty of people here to look after her, if I take you home now, you can get up early tomorrow and come see her before school" she looked to Rachel's father, asking for permission, and he nodded back at her a small smile on his lips.
"Your moms right" her dad agreed, "why don't you go say goodbye to her, and you can come back in the morning and talk to her then" it wasn't a question so much as a suggestion, and Finn realised there wasn't much point arguing with them, especially since they both had good points. He stood up and her dad took him into her room, gesturing at her aba to give them a minute alone.
As he walked past her aba in the room, the man gave him a gentle pat on the back, before disappearing out into the corridor. He sat down in the chair next to her, he could see now that she was wearing an oxygen mask, and there was a sheen of sweat covering her skin.
"Rach?" he whispered quietly, he leaned down and placed a kiss on her searing forehead, wincing a little at her temperature. He ran his fingers across her cheek, and she stirred, her eyes opening a fraction as a coughing fit shook her body.
She lifted her hand up to pull down the oxygen mask, he hesitated, unsure if he should stop her, "I wanted to talk to you, I fell asleep…" her voice was so raspy. He cut her off by pulling the mask back up to her mouth, looking down at her he could see that she looked exhausted, her heavy lidded eyes peering up at him.
"I don't think you're supposed to take that off" he leaned in close to her, he didn't want her to worry, "your dad explained everything" she nodded, her eyes drooping a little more as she failed to fight off the drowsy feeling. "I'm going to go, so that you can sleep, ok, but I'm gonna come see you in the morning" he stroked her head. "Rach?" her almost closed eyes opened again in response, "be okay, okay" he leaned right down, resting his forehead on hers, "I love you," he whispered it so quietly he wasn't even sure she heard him.
She lifted her hand up to her mask again, but he took her hand before she got a chance, squeezing it tight in his own. When he let go she lifted her hand up, pointing it at his chest, "Me?" she nodded, holding up her fingers in a peace sign, he chuckled quietly, "too?" she smiled a little, "you love me too?" she nodded and he leaned his forehead back against hers, staying like that while her eyelids slid closed again, and she drifted off. He placed one final kiss on her cheek before he stood up, taking a moment to compose himself before he walked back into the hallway.
She was still sleeping when he went into the hospital the next morning, and in the light of day he could see how sick she really looked. When her dads told him she was already doing a bit better, he was glad he couldn't see her properly the night before, because he didn't know how he would have handled seeing her sicker than this. He sat next to their sleeping daughter for half an hour, running his fingers through her hair, before they shooed him off to school, promising him they'd tell her he was here.
When he came back in the early evening, on his way home from football, she was still sleeping, and he has a hard time believing that she was getting better at all, but her dads assured him she had been awake for a few hours in the afternoon. Her dads let him do his homework in her hospital room that night, he knew she'd probably sleep the whole time but he liked being near her. Only he couldn't make himself concentrate on work, so instead he ripped a sheet of paper out of one of his notebooks and started writing stuff down for her, nothing important, just things that happened. How Tina asked him to pass on a hug and how Kurt had said something funny and incredibly 'Kurt' during football practice, how Puck and Quinn had decided on a baby name, but wouldn't tell anyone what it was, how Mr. Shue had seemed lost without her there to explain his musical theatre references to everyone. He told her little things that he thought would make her feel better, feel more connected and more motivated to get better faster. He wrote two full double sided pages finishing them with "I love you so much" and then folded them up, and slid them down the front of her hospital gown while no one was looking. He knew it was kind of stupid, he was pretty sure that if he gave her dads the note they wouldn't read it, but he wanted it to just be between them, so he hid it somewhere only she'd find it. Then he kissed her on her forehead and went home.
The next morning he brought her flowers in a vase and left them on her nightstand, she didn't look like she'd even moved all night, and he had a feeling his note was still hidden inside her top.
When he came back that afternoon, she was asleep again, but there was a note with "Finn" written on it, sitting next to the flowers. He took it home to read in privacy, and he smiled while she explained that the woman played by a man in Hairspray wasn't actually a transvestite, but that the female character had always been traditionally played by a man. He ran his thumb across the doodles she'd drawn in the margin, of flowers and stars and love hearts, wishing he could have just sat there and watched her draw them. His brow furrowed and his heart felt achy as he read the final part of her letter where she begged him to wake her up next time he was there, because she missed him and she needed a hug, and he promised himself that even if he had to 'accidentally' wake her up because her father's wouldn't leave the room, he'd still do it just so she could have her hug.
He didn't have to worry about it though, because they did leave the room, once he saw them disappear down the hall in search of some sort of breakfast, he sat down on the edge of her bed and whispered in her ear, rubbing circles on her back til her eyes fluttered open. He barely saw her smile before she reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, holding on tightly to him, and it felt good just to have her in his arms. When she pulled off her oxygen mask and started telling him about how much she missed him and how bored she was. He was relieved just to hear the difference in her voice from a few nights ago. She wasn't as breathless, or wheezy, she sounded like a really quiet version of herself, and he admitted to himself that quiet wasn't usually her default setting, but at least she sounded somewhat normal.
A week later she was back home on 'bed rest' and even though she still spent hours sleeping and she seemed bored shitless with nothing to do while she was awake, he was so relieved that she didn't have a breathing mask or tubes coming out of her. Her skin wasn't so sallow looking (a word his mom had used), she was finally eating a bit, and her energy levels seemed to be slowly creeping back into her.
He practically did a dance the night she called and told him she was coming to school the next day, (he actually did do a spazzy sort of dance in the privacy of his own bedroom later.)
"So can you pick me up before school?" she asked sounding tentative, "I just don't want to drive" she lied.
"Babe, if you're not well enough to drive to school then you probably shouldn't be going!" he warned, he wanted her there, but only if she was up to it.
She sighed a little before mumbling a confession into the phone, "I just don't want to go by myself" she admitted. He didn't know quite what she meant, all her friends were going to be there, but she further explained, "what if people say stuff?" and he wanted to wrap his arms around her and promise to protect her from the bullying that he knew she'd probably be on the receiving end of, he wanted to vow to her that anyone who said anything rude would get it back tenfold and that if anyone even brought a slushy to school they'd be wearing it themselves before they got near her.
But instead he just said, "of course I'll pick you up" and he heard her voice brighten after that, because even if he hadn't said it, she knew what he meant.
He arrived at her house the next morning. Expecting to find her in her ensuite, he pushed open the door to her bedroom without knocking, but instead he found her standing in front of her full length mirror, wearing jeans and a bra.
He averted his eyes away from her, he'd only seen her without a top on once, and considering the amount of trouble she'd gotten into over it, he felt guilty for having not asked permission to enter.
"Sorry, your dad said you were doing your hair" he looked back up at her hesitantly, seeing her arms wrapped around her torso just below her bra, and a look of dismay on her face, "are you ok?" he asked, not quite sure what to think.
She was wearing a pair of jeans that were being held up quite obviously by a belt, and her bra, to be frank looked fairly gaping on her. He looked up at her face just in time to see her eyes welling with tears, so he dropped his bag quickly, and crossed over to her in two big strides, pulling her into a tight hug against his chest while she let out a few sniffily sobs.
After a few minutes she finally spoke up, "I grew out of this bra two years ago" she whimpered against him, pulling back and squashing her hands down over her boobs. "I don't have breasts anymore, I mean I hardly even had any in the first place, and now they're gone" she whined.
He was pretty lost on what to say, he didn't realise that you could un-grow boobs once you had them. He had been under the impression there were some bits inside them that had to do with making milk, he had no idea if losing weight could make them get smaller. For all he knew, the disease-y stuff she'd had could have eaten them or something. So he took a stab in the dark, bumbling in his typical Finn fashion, "they'll come back though, right? I mean, not that it matters, cos I don't care if you have boobs, I still think you're pretty no matter what, but I mean, its cos you lost so much weight right?" he hoped he'd gotten it right.
She sniffed and nodded, turning back around and taking a good look at herself in the mirror again, "but I look gross" she said, running her fingers over her protruding ribs.
He'd never admit it to her, but she did. He wouldn't have cared if she'd just lost weight, or even if she'd gained weight, and really the boobs didn't bother him that much, cos she was right, she really hadn't had a much there to begin with, but right now she didn't look good, she looked sick, and sick wasn't hot.
As if reading his thoughts she piped up again, "ughh, I look so ill, and my skins disgusting" she commented, thrusting her face right up to the mirror to examine the skin on her nose.
Deciding she'd had enough time to dramatically wallow in self pity, and knowing she'd go on all day if he didn't stop her, he put a hand on each of her shoulders and pulled her back from the mirror. "I'll tell you what" he started, whilst dragging her over to her wardrobe to look for a top she could wear. "I'll steal you some of the Japanese protein bars that coach gives us to bulk up. If you eat them for a week, you'll be bigger than me" he teased. She laughed, and he actually turned to look at her, because he missed seeing her smile. "Seriously though" he added, "there is a reason they're illegal in the states" he paused as if considering something for a moment, "would you object to growing a moustache? Cos there's a freshman on the wrestling team who was a late bloomer so to speak, well he started eating them and like three days later his voice broke and he had hair coming out of his everywhere" he teased her. She laughed more, although her hand was resting protectively over her top lip.
All the while he'd been pulling top after top out of her wardrobe and holding them up to her, only to have her shake her head at everyone, as if to say 'that won't fit'. Having gotten to the end of her clothing supply he huffed, before an idea dawned on him.
She'd been too distracted thinking about how sweet it was that you could practically read his thoughts off his face sometimes, to object when he pulled a plain white t-shirt down over her head.
She grimaced when she turned to the mirror to see how she looked in it, missing the fact that he'd walked over to her bed, pulling back the pillows in search of something. He found what he was looking for and walked over to her, brandishing his sweater in front of her with a big grin on his face.
She rolled her eyes, "Finn, I can't wear that to school, I look ridiculous in it, it's so big."
His smile only got bigger, "yeah, but you always looked ridiculous in it!" he reasoned, pulling it over her head, just like he'd done the first day she wore it. "It doesn't make a difference that you lost weight" he pointed out, clearly thinking he was a genius. She'd have protested, and insisted on changing if he hadn't sweetly picked up her arms one at a time and proceeded to roll up the sleeves for her so that her hands actually poked out the ends before running his fingers through her hair and freeing in from the collar. She practically melted into him when he leaned down, placing a gentle kiss on her lips, whispering, "I missed you so much" because, while one part of her reasoned that she'd never gone anywhere, the other part knew exactly what he meant.
Her father's gave her an odd look, when she said goodbye to them, but they stayed silent, assuming there was some reasoning behind their daughter's bizarre wardrobe choice. She had also been pleasantly surprised on arriving at school that all of her friends had been too distracted welcoming her back to make any comments about her attire. With the exception of Kurt of course, however, she had a feeling that his rather benign quip had been fuelled by jealousy that it was her and not him wearing Finns sweat shirt.
Sorry if its crap, please tell me what you think!!.. Next chapter; how does Rachel cope at school?? and are her dads really over the 'bedroom incident'??
Also… I just noticed this, did anyone else realise that Kurt's dads name is Burt?...Kurt and Burt?...really??