"Here I am again in this mean old town,

And you're so far away from me

And where are you when the sun goes down?

You're so far away from me.

So far away from me,

So far I just can't see,

So far away from me.

You're so far away from me.

I'm tired of being in love and being all alone.

When you're so far away from me.

I'm tired of making out on the telephone,

'Cause you're so far away from me."

::freshmen year::

College is awesome.

Rachel has to leave for NYU before he has to go to Ohio State, so he takes her to the airport with her dads. She makes a big, dramatic scene, crying and clinging to him and making him promise he won't forget her when he's surrounded by blonde Ohio State cheerleaders. He's sort of amused by her antics, at how very Rachel she is and how little this part of her has changed in the years he's known her. (But he makes sure his smile doesn't show.)

He patiently promises everything she asks and then he bravely kisses her in front of her dads.

But when he actually gets back to his house, he feels kinda freaked. Rachel is on a plane to New York — until Thanksgiving. That's months from now, and months is a long time. He hasn't gone that long without seeing Rachel since, like, he met her. Before he can really freak out, though, he's hugging his sobbing mom goodbye, 'cause he's on his way to college, too.

And, seriously, college is awesome.

His room is tiny, but his roommate, Billy, is on the football team with Finn, and he's a pretty cool dude. There's a vending machine, like, ten feet from his room, and it always has all sorts of chips and chocolate bars. And he can eat as much as he wants in the cafeteria, too. His mom's a good cook, sure, but this is pretty much the best food ever, and he can have as much of it as he wants every time he swipes his meal card.

Football practice is hard, but all the guys are great. They take all the freshmen out to bars after their first practice, somehow get them drinks with no questions asked, and when Finn gets so drunk he agrees to do karaoke with Billy, all the boys cheer him on. He's totally cool again.

Classes are kinda hard, but the football team pays for tutors, and they're pretty good. They're better than Rachel had been in high school, actually, probably 'cause he doesn't always start making out with them when he gets sick of hearing about Spanish or physics or some dead poet.

He talks to Rachel every night on Skype, He isn't sure she hears a single thing he says, because she's too busy gushing about how spectacular New York City is, but he doesn't mind. He's happy and she's happy and that's what counts, right? He knows everybody doubts that he and Rachel can make it in colleges across the country from each other, but so far it's totally working.

Rachel gives him a picture of the two of them framed in a glittery pink thing, and he promises he'll put it right by his bed. He doesn't. There's no way he'll be caught dead with that frame anywhere anybody can see it. He's so not gonna commit social suicide before the year's even really begun.

(It's not like she'll know if it's shoved in the back of his dresser.)

But he finds an old picture of them from one of his football games junior year, one where she's wearing a jersey with his number on it and he doesn't look like a complete dork, and he tacks the photo up on his bulletin board. "Who's the chick?" Billy asks later that night.

"My girlfriend," Finn says, adding proudly, "she goes to NYU."

"Cool," Billy says.

Yeah. It is cool.

He does miss her.

He misses all of them. He misses having Puck around to make stupid comments. He misses Artie's jokes. Hell, he even kind of misses Kurt and watching American Idol with him. He misses Glee, and singing with a group of people who love it as much as he does. But he misses Rachel most, 'cause he's used to having her around all the time, and now that she's not it's just weird.

He's sitting in class and he hears some girl talking about how great High School Musical is. He chuckles when he thinks of the rants that Rachel likes to give about the musical that "denigrates the musical community beyond all imagination and ought to be blacklisted from film and stage!" His mind jumps to when he'll see Rachel next to tell her about the girl rhapsodising over what a great voice Zac Efron has — in between classes? third period? lunch? — before he realises that he's being totally stupid.

They're not in high school anymore, dumbass.

He'll tell her on Skype, he assures himself. He forgets to, though, and as he lies in bed after and remembers, he feels it suddenly: the pang. He misses her. It's different than when she was with Jesse and he missed her friendship and her affection and that way she used to look at him. He's not sure what this is like. He's never felt it before.

He just knows it sucks.

He and Billy go to a big house party a few miles off campus.

It's full of football players, everybody hails them the moment he and Billy walk in, and Finn can't remember the last time he went to a party and actually liked it this much. He does some shots, and his teammates pound him on the back and chant his name and it's so boss.

(That's a word Billy uses a lot. Finn really likes it, so he's started using it, too.)

When he starts to get really drunk, he finds himself singing, but he's too messed up to care. And besides, he's not too messed up to recognise that their laughter is the good kind — which rocks. "The boy can sing!" shouts Eric, the linebacker who sits with Finn in geology. He's drunk, too. They're all drunk.

"Whoa, there," says a girl, and Finn starts apologising profusely. He's an oaf. He nearly splashed his drink all over her. But she seems slightly amused by him. She's kind of cute, but she's like 5'7, which is freakishly tall. "Don't worry," she says, "no harm, no foul. You're the football player that can sing, right?"

"That's me!" he trills.

She giggles. "You're cute. And I heard you earlier. You're good, even drunk."

"Thanks!" He grins at her.

It's an awesome night.

He only vaguely remembers the car ride back to campus with Billy ralphing into a paper bag, and his memories of stumbling over Billy in their attempt to get to their dorm room are even fuzzier. When he wakes up the next morning, his head is pounding, he's got some gross stain on his shirt, and Billy's lamp is broken. He glances over at Billy, whose popping advil and glaring accusingly at the window and the bright sunlight it lets in.

But Finn doesn't really feel that bad until he sees a number written on his hand and the name Lizzie written in thick black pen.

That's so not boss.

"I really miss you, Rach," he admits. It's been almost a month.

On the computer screen, her face softens. "I miss you, too, Finn — so much." Tears start to well in her eyes. "It's hard," she whispers, "being in New York all by myself. I mean, I've made a few friends, and they all appreciate my star talent, but my roomamte, she's awful, and I miss my dads, and, Finn, I really miss you."

Before he knows what's happening, she's sobbing, and it sucks that he can't reach out and rub her back or kiss her forehead or squeeze her hand and just make her stop crying. Finn can't handle any crying girl, let alone a crying Rachel, which is, like, three hundred times worse.

"Don't cry, babe," he says, trying to sound soothing. "Thanksgiving's not that far away."

"Promise me," she tells him, "promise me that nothing will change between us. Promise me that we'll become the couple everyone thinks of when they hear that trite old phrase that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Promise me that we won't fall prey to out of sight, out of mind. Promise me, Finn!"

He's not sure he actually knows what she just said, but he'll promise her anything at this point. "I promise, Rach."

"Promise you'll love me forever!" she demands tearfully, nearly wailing.

"I promise!" he assures, so glad that Billy isn't in the room. "I'll love you forever, baby, I promise."

She eventually calms down, and a few minutes later, they end the video feed. He closes his computer slowly. He spent nearly an hour talking down a hysterical Rachel and assuring her that he misses her and loves her and of course he has the framed photo of them by his bed.

And it's kinda made him miss her more.

He keeps partying, but he tries to tamper the drinking.

He doesn't do too many shots, and he brings a bag of pretzels to eat between drinks, 'cause he swore to Rachel he would. He doesn't ever want to leave with another number on his hand, so he makes sure to tell all the girls he talks to at the parties about Rachel, his awesome girlfriend who's totally gonna be famous 'cause she's a great singer. He tells them that she's really smart, too, and really hot, and she loves argyle.

And, it turns out, raving about how great your girlfriend is when you're drunk totally make girls think you're sweet and adorable. They tell him he is, anyway. After every party, he finds he's friends with a dozen more girls, until it's like he knows every girl on campus. They tell him he's good to talk to, which he wouldn't have liked in high school, but it's totally cool now. It's kind of nice to be able to talk about Rachel and how much he misses her with a bunch of sympathetic girls.

And when his teammates figure out that Finn's, like, a lady expert, they all want him to help hook them up with girls, and it's so awesome. He tells Rachel the truth: that he has lots of friends and a lot are girls, but she's the only girl for him. He can happily say that she never overreacts or anything (well, not a lot, anyway).

High school was so full of drama for them it's like they get a free pass for college.

It's hard, though, being friends with so many girls when his girl is half way across the country. It's not that he's tempted to cheat on Rachel. He'd never do that. And even if he were a douche like that, he just isn't interested in any of these girls. They're all cool and stuff, but they're not Rachel.

The problem's just that he misses her. Skype isn't enough. He feels like a pussy saying that, though, saying that he misses singing with her and her girly smell and the feel of her small hand in his. But he does, he can't deny it.

And, seriously, his hand's gonna fall off if he jerks off anymore.

Two months into school, they win a huge game. Finn's so excited that he breaks his own carefully laid out rules for partying, and at Marty, Rob, and Jimmy's apartment, he gets totally trashed. He blacks out.

When he wakes up, he doesn't remember a thing, but he's in his room, so that's something. And then he gets a package. There are little gold stars all over the address label, and that's all the identification he needs. He tears it opens and his thudding headache recedes to the background as he realises that, according to the long letter on her pink cat stationary, she's sent him a care package.

Everything is packed securely in pink tissue paper, and Finn quickly covers the room in it as he unearths his goodies. There's all sorts of candy, like Snickers and Twizlers and jelly beans and milk duds. There's a pack of highlighters in really cool colours, a poster of Kiss that she thought he'd like, a watch she bought from an actual New York vendor, Finn! and a recording of her practising her solo in the NYU fall musical.

When Billy comes in, Finn is almost done with his second box of milk duds. "What fuzzy pink monster blew up in here?" Billy asks.

"Rachel sent me a care package," Finn explains. "Twizler?"

Billy grins. "Rachel, huh?" he says. There's something wrong with his voice.

Finn glances up at him. "Yeah," he says slowly, "you know, my girlfriend?"

"Oh, I know," he replies, "the one with the really great ass, who makes all those sexy breathy noises when you're having sex, right?"

Finn chokes on his milk dud. "What?" he sputters.

"You don't remember last night at all, do you, dude?" Billy chuckles as he pulls a coke from the fridge and plops down on his bed.

"What happened?" Finn asks, swallowing thickly. "What did I do?"

"It wasn't so much what you did as what you said."

"What did I say?"

"A lot about Rachel Barbara Berry, and how she's awesome and hot and you totally miss having sex with her. You were kinda graphic, man."

Fuck. Finn groans and falls back on his bed. Billy seems to grow sympathetic. "Don't worry about it, dude. You were plastered. It could have been worse. You could have pissed on a police car, like Kevin Weiss. Or pantsed yourself and starting dancing half-naked on the pool table, like Bobby Craft."

That really doesn't make Finn feel any better. "How many people heard?" he asks.

"I don't know — like, everybody? Dude, seriously, everybody loves you. Nobody cares. Besides, it's not like you insulted her. I'm pretty sure half the guys in this school totally want to get with her now —"

"That's not a good thing," Finn growls.

Billy only laughs.

"I am never drinking again!" Finn declares.

"Yeah," says Billy, "good luck with that."

Finn feels bad about saying all that stuff about Rachel in front of everyone.

He's so not that guy, the one who brags about sex to his buddies, especially not about sex with his girlfriend. And it wasn't bragging, exactly, but. . . .

He almost takes out the girly picture frame of them to make up for it. But he decides it wasn't that bad, and he'll just make sure Rachel never finds out. It's not like she goes to this school, anyway. He calls her, though, and he asks her lots of questions about her upcoming musical and lets her gush on for hours, and he thanks her again and again for the care package.

"I'm glad you liked it," Rachel tells him.

"I loved it, Rach," he says. "And I love you. You — you know that, right?" Even if I act like a jerk, I still love you, you know that, right?

It's quiet. "I know, Finn. I love you, too."

Who's bright idea was it for him to take Intro to Shakespeare, anyway?

He's pretty sure Rachel's the culprit, and he tells her as much. She's smart, and she so should have known that Finn Hudson and Shakespeare would not mix. He doesn't even get what Sparknotes says! Rachel, however, doesn't seem nearly as upset about this as she should be. "Think of it like this," she says cheerily on the phone, "now you can say with complete certainty that you do not want to be an English major!"

"Sorry, babe," he replies, "but I could have told you that before The Class From Hell."

"Don't be so dramatic," she tells him.

"Yeah," he says, "because I'm the person in this relationship who needs to work on that."

"Oh, go read Shakespeare."

"Can't. It's in another language. Guess you'll just have to entertain me for the rest of the afternoon."

Thanksgiving break kind of sneaks up on him.

At the airport, so does she.

He's a big dude, and Rachel's tiny, but she still manages to knock his breath away when she pounces on him. For a moment he doesn't know what to say or to do or even to think, and he just stands there flailing. But he quickly realises that Rachel has her legs around his waist and is peppering his face with kisses, and fuck yes.

He kisses her, his tongue greedily plunging into her mouth as he clutches her tightly to him.

When they finally break apart, she starts talking a mile a minute, and he just stares at her, her voice washing over him with a familiarity that feels all warm and fuzzy and just good. Her hair's a little longer, but not much else is different. Her shirt has two kissing bunnies on it. God, he's missed her.

"— Don't you think?" she asks eagerly.

What? "Totally."

She gives an exasperated sigh. "Finn, did you listen to a single word I just said?"

"Um, yeah?" He doesn't even really try to lie. And she doesn't even really care, apparently.

She only giggles, and he's positive she's got the same jumpy, giddy feeling he has right now. How can she not? This is, like, the best day ever, right up there with that first awkward time they had sex and when they finally won nationals senior year.

"C'mon," he says, taking her tiny hand, and they leave the airport. He drives with his left hand, because she won't let go of his right hand. She jabbers away, her fingers idly playing with his. At the stoplight on main street, he glances over at her, and she pauses in her rant about how her roommate is like the second coming of Sue Sylvester. "I really missed you," he says.

He's kind of got one thing on his mind, and he's pretty sure she's thinking about it, too. "Rach, right or left?" The soft question makes him feel like a charmer from a movie. If he turns right, it's only five minutes to her house. But if he turns left, they can go up to Crater Lake, which'll totally be empty at this time of year.

Rachel bites her lip. "Left," she whispers.


So, yeah, he knows she had to talk her dads into letting Finn pick her up from the airport, and he knows they've missed her too and he should drive her home to see them. But she doesn't want him to take her home right away any more than he does. And if she doesn't care that it's two in the afternoon and that, even empty, the parking lot of Crater Lake is still a public place, then he sure as hell doesn't care.

She's climbing into the back seat before he even puts the car in park, and he follows quickly. He bangs his elbow on the window, his coat gets caught on the passenger seat headrest, and he might have broken his belt buckle in his eagerness to tear it off. He doesn't care.

In the end, he doesn't even manage to take off her kissing bunnies shirt.

There's lots of too quick, too wet kisses and knocking limbs and awkward shifting, and she gets so frustrated with his fumbled attempts to open the condom wrapper that she takes it from him and rips it open with her teeth. But eventually — like, after three minutes that feel like fifteen — she's wiggled out of her underwear and he's tugged his jeans and boxers down far enough, and he can finally sink into Rachel Berry for the first time in forever.

Afterward, when they're back on the road, she takes his right hand captive again.

Thanksgiving break flies by far too quickly, but there's only a few weeks left of first semester after that, and he can barely process that Thanksgiving break has ended before he's suddenly taking exams and then returning home for a whole month off.

(He scarcely even has time to miss Rachel. He finds the time, though.)

And Thanksgiving's great, but winter break is the bomb.

His mom makes all these really cool cookies that she only makes around Christmas, all the old members of Glee meet up a few times, and he and Rachel spend every spare moment together. It's almost like that first summer they were together, when they always found a way simply to be together, even if they were mostly doing nothing.

They sit on her couch and watch Funny Girl. They go to the batting cages with Puck, Quinn, Tina, and Mike, and Rachel even gets a little tipsy on the Natty Lite that Puck brings. They make s'mores in the microwave. They lie on his tiny bed and listen to music with one set of earbuds between them. When he has to shovel snow off the driveway, she sits on the front steps all bundled up in her pink parka and reads some really big book. When she has to run errands for her dads, he trails after her from shop to shop.

He misses a lot of college. He misses the vending machine down the hall, and he misses his football buddies and Billy. He misses the parties and he misses the freedom. But Rachel kind of makes up for all of that, and he does not want to have to go back to stupid classes with stupid homework.

It comes eventually, though, and he finds leaving Rachel after he's got used to being with her all the time again sucks a lot more than he'd thought it would.

Veronica Hewitt waves at Finn as she passes him by, and he smiles at her.

"Now there's a nice rack," Eric says, grinning wolfishly.

"Dude," says Steve, looking at Finn, "you should totally get with that."

He's taken aback. "Why me?"

"Come on, man, she practically fucked you with her eyes."

"She can fuck me any which way any time," Bobby says, and Eric nods.

"Yeah, well," Finn says uncomfortably, "I've got a girlfriend."

"So?" asks Steve. "She's not here, is she? It's not like she'll ever know."

Fin decides maybe he doesn't like Steve too much. After lunch, he has two hours before his next class. He calls Rachel, and before he knows what he's doing, he asks her to sing something. "Anything," he says, "I just miss listening to you sing."

She's pleased, he can tell, and she sings him a song from Sound of Music. It makes him happier than something like that should, and he knows he's totally not a normal teenage boy, but he can't help it. There's something about the sound of Rachel singing that just gets to him.

"I really miss you," he admits quietly.

He's pretty sure Veronica Hewitt can't sing. And Steve Black sure as hell can't. Jackass.

He's walking to class with Kevin one day when he sees them.

They're sitting at that little cafe with the really ballin' muffins that have huge chocolate chunks in them. They're a really old couple, and the woman is yelling at a waitress while the man quietly eats his eggs. He's wearing this bright red sweater with a teddy bear in overalls stitched onto the chest. All of a sudden the woman starts yelling at the old man, saying exasperatedly, "Harold!" and something about cholesterol and eggs.

She takes his eggs away and puts grapes in front of him, and he quietly starts to eat those.

Kevin follows Finn's gaze. "That's kind of pathetic," he says. "Poor dude. C'mon."

"It's not pathetic," Finn defends. "He loves her."

Kevin gives him a funny look and Finn wishes he hadn't said it. "Whatever, man," Kevin says. "Let's go."

They leave, but when Finn glances back, he sees the little old man lean forward and press a kiss to the little old lady's wrinkly cheek. She turns pink.

It's actually Billy who wakes Finn up.

"Dude," he groans, and a pillow smacks Finn in the face. "Make the fucking thing shut the fucking fuck up!"

Finn groggily realises that his phone is going off. He picks it up, squints at the bright screen, and sees that it's Rachel. "Rach?" he answers sleepily.

"I've been sexiled!" she wails.

He frowns. "What about sex? Sex? Rachel, what —?" He sits up, not sure what's going on. He can barely think straight. What time is it, anyway?

"I was out late with my study group and I came back and my asinine, anorexic roommate has locked the door and I can hear her, Finn, I can hear her having sex!" she exclaims.

Oh, he thinks stupidly. It's her roommate who's having sex, not her. He feels relief, and then he feels like a douche. Rachel only goes on, however. "She's sexiled me! What am I supposed to do? All my friends are from the musical; none of them live in my dorm. I can't traipse across campus at one in the morning to stay with them! I might have a rape whistle, but I'm not going to risk that!" Her voice is shrill.

"Yeah, no, definitely don't do that," he says, kind of wanting to kill her roommate.

"I swear, Finn," she says furiously, "when you come to visit me, we are going to sexile her — for hours! All night long!"

He grins into his dark dorm room despite himself. "Whatever you want, babe."

"What am I going to do?" she asks.

"Go to the lounge or something. Is there a couch there you can sleep on?"

"Yes, but how humiliating! What if someone finds me? And my teeth feel mossy. I haven't brushed in over eight hours! I just want to curl up in my own bed, with my pyjamas and freshly cleaned teeth, and —" She let out a long sigh. "I wish you were here, Finn."

"Me, too," he says. He lies back on his pillows. "No, I wish you were here. There's plenty of room in my bed." There must be something suggestive in his voice, because she giggles a little.

"You know what?" she asks suddenly. "I'm Rachel Barbara Berry."

"Um, I know?"

"I'm Rachel Barbara Berry," she repeats, and she has that voice. He smiles a little to himself. "And I will not be locked out of my own room by that vacuous cow!" She begins to rant and to rave against her roommate, something that's become a favourite pastime of hers in the last several months.

"That's right, baby," he adds, sort of-maybe-actually having a little fun egging her on."Yeah. Yeah, you do that."

He hears pounding and the sound of her shouting. "Open this door right this instant, Jackie! If you would like to have sexual intercourse, do it on your own time! You've been in there long enough! I've met that boy of yours and I'm fully aware that he cannot possibly have that much stamina!"

Finn laughs so hard he starts to cry.

"Open up this door, Jacqueline Moiser, or I'll call the fire department to break in! Don't think I won't!"

There's more shouting, someone else's voice, and Rachel says quickly, "I'll call you back tomorrow, Finn!" and he doesn't even have time to say goodbye before she hangs up. He stares up at his ceiling through the dark. He sighs.

He hadn't thought it possible, but he actually misses her more.

He gets used to it.

He doesn't grow to like it or anything like that, but he "becomes accustomed" (that's what Rachel says) to taking classes and going to parties and living at Ohio State while his girlfriend is in New York, showing all those theatre people how it's really done.

He misses Rachel, sure, probably more than is healthy, but he can't see her all day every day like in high school. Like, it sucks that he doesn't see her all the time, but that's just the way it is now. He still talks to her every night.

College is different from high school, but they make it work.

Rachel's Spring Break is the week before his, and they plan it all out.

She'll spend the first few days of her break with her dads and then the rest of the week with Finn. When her break ends and his begins, he'll go to NYU with her for a few days and return in time to visit Lima and see his mom before he returns to school. It's perfect. And this time when he meets up with her, he sees her first. He wraps his arms around her from behind, she gives this really cute squeal, and before she can say a word he spins her around and kisses her.

He can't wait to show the campus to her, and to show her to the campus. Like, he wants everybody to meet her. He wants Billy to meet her, and Jack and Eric and Kevin and Mary Alice and Lydia, too. He loves this school, this whole campus and all his friends, and he wants Rachel to see it all and love it, too. Billy totally makes a good impression, and Finn knows from her expression in their first conversation that his roommate has her seal of approval.

She likes all of his friends, really, and they all like her, too. Eric gives him a big thumbs-up when he first meets her. Kevin gets into a long conversation with her about Nancy Reagan, who Finn is pretty sure is a politician or something. She and Lydia agree with each other over and over again that Streisand's A Star is Born is by far the best of the three versions.

Finn takes her everywhere, showing her his favourite restaurants and the football stadium and everything, and it's totally awesome having her there. (He's so proud that she's at NYU, but how cool would it be if she want to Ohio State, too?)

On Friday night, he talks her into going to a party with him. "C'mon, Rach," he wheedles. "You wanted to know about my life at Ohio State, right? I go out to parties. It's not like in high school. It's really fun, I promise. Please, baby?"

She gives in eventually.

By the end of the night, he really wishes she hadn't.

He doesn't know how it happens, but it does. She spends hours getting ready, and when they arrive she doesn't want to leave his side, which he actually kind of likes. He keeps an arm around her shoulders, 'cause she's his girl and everybody should know it, and he lets her take sips of his beer. But then she wants to go to the bathroom, and there's a game of beer pong, and he loses track of her, and . . .

. . . And before he knows it, Mary Alice has him cornered against the wall near the stairs and is saying all this stuff about knee socks and grandmothers and you know you want to and then she's kissing him. Like, she leans up and plants a big wet one right on his lips. He's frozen in shock. He doesn't know what to do. And it's totally weird, 'cause he hasn't kissed anybody but Rachel in years, so it's just . . . weird.

She pulls away and looks up at him with a bold gaze.

But his eyes fall on Rachel, standing a few feet and looking as if she were just slushied. His mouth goes dry. Shit. He can't even finish saying her name before she's gone, and he wonders how something stupid from a bad rom com movie actually managed to crawl into his life and fuck it up this much.

He pushes his way out of the party, and the onslaught of fresh air after the stale smell of smoke and beer and people disorients him. "Rachel!" he shouts. He doesn't see her anywhere. He feels a hand on his arm and he spins around in relief, an explanation already on his tongue, when he sees it's Mary Alice.

"Not now," he says. "I gotta find Rachel. I can't believe she saw that."

"Maybe it's easier this way," Mary Alice suggests softly. "Now you don't have to worry about, you know, having the whole long, painful conversation with her."

He frowns at her. "What?" He really wishes he hadn't had that fifth beer.

"Finn, come on," she says, as if he should know what she's talking about. "Nobody actually ends up with the person they date in high school." She waits, but he doesn't say anything. "Look, all year long you've been the model boyfriend, always spewing on about your hot, talented girlfriend in New York and not even noticing the way girls throw themselves at you."

"I don't —"

"And that's really loyal and great of you, and it just proves that you're a great guy. But come on, Finn. It's not like you have some epic romance with her. First of all, it's impossible to have an epic romance when you're not even legal yet. And you two have nothing in common. I mean, look at her." She stares imploringly at him.

He's pretty sure she just insulted Rachel. "Mary Alice," he says, because he has to make this clear even if he's drunk, "Rachel's my girlfriend."

"Oh, come on, Finn!"

"Stop saying that," he says. She's starting to piss him off. Where does she get off talking down to him? And insulting Rachel? And kissing him?

"Just because she was your first love or whatever and you were two totally cute teenagers, doesn't mean you're supposed to pine for each other all throughout college and then end up married and with babies. I mean, do you really want that? Do you really want to spend the next three years dating someone who's not even in the same state as you? Is she really worth that?"

He stares at her for a long time. He can't deal with this. "I have to find Rachel." He turns away. Where would Rachel go? Back to his dorm? It's his best bet.

"Finn!" she calls.

"You shouldn't have kissed me," he yells. "I have a girlfriend."

She's at his dorm. She tells him she's sleeping in his bed and he's sleeping on the floor, and he doesn't have the right to argue after he's wasted all her time. "I'll be gone by eight sharp tomorrow," she says.

He argues and pleads and tells her that he's never kissed anybody but her for years and he's been totally faithful and — "And what?" she challenges. "And the one week that I'm visiting you, at the one party I go to, I happen to walk in on the one time this one girl decides to kiss you? Seriously, Finn? Do you think I'm that blind?"

He keeps on arguing and pleading and telling her that he loves her, but it doesn't do any good.

"I refuse to listen to this anymore," she finally declares. "You've made clear your feelings for me with your actions, Finn, and I don't need to hear your words. My dads booked me a hotel room to stay at while I'm here," she says, "and I think I'll put that room to good use." She picks up her bags — already packed — and leaves, throwing off the hand he reaches out to stop her like it burns.

So much for a free pass from drama in college.

As he lies in bed, he thinks about everything Mary Alice said. Three more years of living in a different state than the girl he's dating would be really hard. Hell, all this shit wouldn't have gone done if they hadn't spent the last year in separate states. And, yeah, they're young, and, yeah, he and Rachel are pretty different.

But she is worth it.

Maybe he can't give some big speech about it and he can't, like, compare their love to some flower or something 'cause he's not all good with speeches like Shakespeare. But just 'cause he doesn't know how to say it, doesn't mean he doesn't feel it. He knows he loves her, and that should be enough.

He calls her. She doesn't pick up. He texts her. She doesn't reply. Should he start calling all the nearby hotels, like a guy in a movie? Before he can figure out what to do, though, someone knocks on his door. It's Rachel. "So I don't actually have a hotel room," she says, not meeting his eyes. She's been crying. He's such a dick. "Can I please stay here?" she whispers.

He lets her in. (Like she even has to ask.)

And before she can stop him, he lets it all out. He tells her that she has to believe this really was the first time anything like that had happened because he loves her and the only person he wants to kiss is her, even if it's hard to date in colleges in different states. "Finn," she says, a sad sigh in her voice.

"No, no, listen," he insists. "A few months ago, I saw this couple at this cafe, and this dude was wearing this sweater with this bear on it, and it was totally something you'd pick out, and I'm pretty sure his wife picked it out for him, but he wore it 'cause it makes her happy, I think. Okay, what I'm trying to say is that I get that. Like — I mean, I want to be like that, Rach. I want to have the guts to do stupid stuff, I mean, not that sweaters with bears are stupid, but I want — I want to be able to make you happy even if other people don't think it's cool, and I know I'm not there yet, but —"

"Finn —"

"— but I'm trying! I mean, I don't even have the balls to put up that picture of us in that frame 'cause it's so girly. But I want to, and if you just stick with me, Rach, I promise I'll get it right in the end. I do stupid shit, like that party — I shouldn't have taken you to that party and I — I love you, and that counts for something, right? We can be like those old people! I'll eat grapes for you, Rachel, you just have to —!"

She cuts him off with a kiss.

Billy gets sexiled.

In New York on Finn's spring break, Jackie gets sexiled, too.

His GPA at the end of freshmen year is 2.8.

He's pretty proud of himself.

Rachel is, too. She gives him a picture of the two of him in front of the Statue of Liberty, and it's in a simple black frame. "It's the manliest one Michael's had," she tells him.

He so doesn't deserve her.

(But he's pretty sure he never has.)


a/n: If I had any power whatsoever to control my word vomit, this whole story would be one chapter. As it is, however, I can't seem to help myself, so this will have four chapters - one for each year of college. I'll try to post them all within the next week :) Title and lyrics are from Dire Stait's "So Far Away."