"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." –T. S. Eliot
It doesn't take long for Aden to become exhausted with the playing and I soon find myself saying goodbye to him again as he heads to Finn and Santana's for the night. He gives me one last lingering kiss on the cheek before Santana tugs him out the door and I can't help but smile as he giggles at the way she waddles down the sidewalk.
Tina excuses herself a few minutes later, promising to call in the next day or two. There is something different about her now, a sort of distance that wasn't there before, but I chalk it up to my confusion and simply offer a wave as she walks out the door.
With everyone gone the house is empty, quiet. I curl up on the couch, using the remote to flip through the various radio stations. It's all a bit disarming, to be honest. Everything seems the same and yet different and I know that it's going to take some getting used to. Finn and I are divorced. The words feel foreign to me and I find myself repeating them out loud and letting them linger in the air around me. I'm not sure what I'm expecting, but I'm a bit surprised that there is no heavy feeling; no deep loss or regret.
My eyes scan the pictures on the wall, taking in the new family portrait. My heart seems to swell at the image of Noah with his arms around Aden. They both look so happy, so right together that it almost takes my breath away. The thought of having both Aden and Noah seemed so incomprehensible, so non-plausible that I have a hard time taking my eyes away from it.
I'm still sitting on the couch an hour later when the front door opens. I hear his heavy footsteps before I see him poke his head through the entryway. He looks worn out, tired, and he drops his guitar on the loveseat before joining me on the couch.
"Long day," Noah mumbles as he pulls me closer to him, his arms wrapping around my waist and lifting me into his lap. I feel him nuzzle the side of my neck with his nose and he lets out a small sigh. "I fucking love you."
He pulls back to look at me, his eyes alight with mischief and delight. He scans the room for a second, brow furrowing as he takes in the empty room around me. "Where's Ad at?" he questions as his lips run along the edge of my hairline.
"He went to stay with Finn and Santana for the night," I reply as my body sags into his arms a bit more. He lets out a low growl and I can't help the small chuckle that escapes my lips. "He will be back tomorrow," I reply sensing the concern that Noah is trying to hide. "It's not like he hasn't stayed with them before."
Noah nods his head in acknowledgement, his fingers brushing against the small strip of skin between my shirt and sweat pants. "Does that mean we have the whole night with just the two of us?" I nod my head, unable to fight back the smirk that is forcing its way onto my face.
His arms wrap around me and lift me up and I can feel the way his body vibrates as he moves the two of us up the stairs. "Why didn't you say that in the first place?" he questions.
I wake up some time in the middle of the night and find myself unable to fall back asleep. I curl into Noah, relishing his warmth, and rest my head against his chest listening to the steady beating of his heart. "Can't sleep?" he murmurs. His voice is groggy, soft, and he pulls me closer to him.
"Just thinking," I find myself replying. His hand sweeps down my spine in a soothing manner and I feel the brush of his lips against the back of my head. Seconds later, I can hear his gentle snore as he falls back asleep.
I lie awake for awhile, just watching him sleep until my eyes burn from exhaustion. I think about wishes, hopes, dreams, and how we got to where we are today. I think about Finn, Aden, and the man lying in bed beside me and the crazy journey we all have been on. It's strange to think how making a few different choices can alter your life, can change your path completely.
"Go to sleep, Rachel." Noah mutters his arm tightening around my waist as he pulls me closer. He seems to sense that there is something deeper bothering me, though, and his eyes open and squint through the darkness. "What's wrong?" he questions.
"I love you," I reply truthfully. He smiles at me through the darkness, his lips leaning down to reach mine. "I feel like I don't say that enough," I reply honestly, "and I need you to know how important you are to me."
Noah's quiet for a moment, his eyes studying me seriously. He nods softly in response. "You're important to me too," he whispers. There is something more he wants to say but I can see the nervousness behind his eyes. "Marry me, Rachel?" he questions.
He twists to the side and digs in his nightstand, pulling out a small black box a few seconds later. I'm a bit speechless really and I can't seem to find the words to answer him. "I've wanted to ask you for so fucking long but it never seems like the right time. But the truth is Rachel that any time is perfect because we fucking love each other."
"Yes," I reply as the tears fall from my eyes. "Please."
Our relationship is far from perfect. There are times when we get on each other's nerves, we have our fair share of fighting and yelling, and sometimes we say things we regret. These are not the moments that define the story of us; far from it, actually.
I'd like to think we were defined by our good moments; those moments of borrowed time where it's just the two (or three) of us together. Each is different and special in its own way but almost all of them are filled with laughter, love, and a hope for the future.
And there we are, the end of Borrowed time. I'm kind of really sad to see this one go. Thanks to all of you who have supported me, cheered me on, reviewed, alerted, author alerted, or added to your favorites. This story is for all of you.
I have two multi-chapter story fics that I've been contemplating working on next. I'm going to post a little snip of each below, feel free to tell me what you think! I've also been working on a few one shots that should be posted soon (although I'm not sure when). If you'd like to catch these, make sure you add me to your author alerts : )
Safe Haven (or You Saved Me)
"None of us knows what the next change is going to be, what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner, waiting a few months or a few years to change all the tenor of our lives."- Kathleen Norris.
The snow drifted softly to the ground as the young girl trudged through the slick streets towards her destination. The biting chill of the wind cut through her thin clothes and forced her to pull the bundle in her arms tighter to her chest. She listened to the small whimper and fought back her own tears, pushing forward.
"Shhh," she whispered as the cold air burned her throat and lungs, "we're almost there."
Growing up she never imagined her life would end up like this, never imagined the cruelty and pain and fear and loneliness. Then again, there are so many things they don't tell you as a little girl. They don't tell you that life is nothing like the books that were read to you as a child; there is no prince charming, no happily ever after. They also don't tell you that people only look out for themselves; the world is far much more cruel and unkind than is even fathomable to imagine.
She was wiser now, though. And she knew it all.
The tall building loomed in front of her, the final destination for the bundle in her arms. She stopped just a short block away, her eyes stinging from the cold and looked down at the pink blanket letting her tears fall and freeze to her cheeks.
"I know that this may be hard to understand," her words caught in her throat and she choked back her emotion. "But I pray that one day you will." She laid a gentle kiss against the cloth, her face snuggling into the tiny ball of warmth before she trekked the last block.
The electronic doors swung open and she was hit with a burst of heat that made her face sting and her eyes water. Taking a deep breath and willing back the tears, she stepped inside. The lobby was filled with people bustling about their day. A small desk to her left offered pamphlets and information. Another offered directions.
She bypassed them all, making her way to the right walking past the coffee shop and gift shop before stopping in front of an open office door. A young girl sat at the desk, shuffling paperwork as she hummed along to the festive music. Her heart lurched in her chest as she looked at the sign next to the door.
Dr. Elijah Berry – Pediatrician.
She walked into the office and up to the desk, feeling her stomach drop as the girl set her paperwork aside and smiled at her kindly.
"Hello, may I help you?" the girl questioned.
Her nametag stood out against the brightness of her childlike top, the black letters etched into the white sticker. "Yes, Rachel," she replied softly, "I think you can."
She lifted up the pink bundle, her heart breaking in her chest. She held her small baby girl out, placing the pink bundle into Rachel's arms. She fought back the tears and the overwhelming sense of dread as the young secretary looked on with confusion on her face.
"Tell her I'm sorry and that I love her," she whispered as she took one last long look at the swaddled baby.
And then, she ran.
Even In the Darkness
"Just remember - when you think all is lost, the future remains." - Robert H. Goddard
It's not an easy thing, telling my story. There's no way to sugarcoat what happened to me, no way to quell the disbelief. The fact of the matter is, my life started the day I woke up in the emergency room. I can remember the numbing whiteness of the walls, the voices talking all around me. My body was sore, my head spinning, and I tasted blood.
An elderly nurse stood next to my head, gently brushing her fingers along my shoulder. Her dark grey hair was pulled back in a bun, her glasses low on her nose. I remember thinking how sad and kind her eyes looked as she leaned down over my face.
"Rachel?" she questioned softly. "Can you talk dear?"
I remember trying to clear my throat, trying to get rid of the metallic taste in my mouth. "I think so," I whispered, not a bit surprised at the raspy quality.
"My name is Janet," I felt her fingers gently brush across the skin. "Do you have any family?" I could feel the weight of my wedding ring on my finger and found myself nodding my head.
"A husband," I whispered feeling the strain on my throat.
She holds her pen poised above the clipboard in her hands. "What's the number we can call him at?"
I wrack my brain, trying to remember the phone number and then look up at the nurse with tears in my eyes. "I don't know." I whisper.
She holds up a New York driver's license in front of me. "This is your driver's license; we found it in your pocket. I'm not sure how to tell you this, Rachel." She clears her throat her eyes looking worriedly over my face. "We found you on the side of a county road just off the interstate. This," she motions to the hospital around us, "isn't New York. In fact, you're quite a bit of a ways away from New York."
I'm not sure if she can see the confusion on my face or if she just understands how much this all is to take in. "Where are we then?" I question, my voice is shaky and I sound like a scared child.
"Right now Rachel, you are in Texas."