a/n: Sorry for the long wait! My weekend was entirely HP-oriented. This is the end of this story, but I'm toying with the idea of writing a legit multi-chapter story that isn't simply made up of several small scenes, so that's probably soon to come (along with ten thousand one-shots). As for this final chapter, I hope you've brought some floss. The fluffiness runs amok in this one. (Oh, and the song they sing is I Got You, Babe by Sonny and Cher.)
The talk. A lot. All summer.
It's not bad, really, 'cause they need to talk, and if talking is what she needs from him to make everything right again, then he'll talk. A lot. All summer. They sit at the drive-in and talk instead of watch the movie. They go for ice cream and talk instead of flirt. They go to the lake and talk instead of swim. They sit on her couch and talk instead of watch a movie. They lie in bed and talk instead of undress.
They talk about everything they missed in each other's lives in their months apart. They talk about exactly why he broke up with her and how he realised it was a mistake. They talk about how she dealt with the blow and her feelings after he came to New York.
They talk about what they want from the future and from each other. They talk about how much it would cost to live in New York, and whether they want to live together. They talk about the past and the things they never talked about in high school, like why she lied about sleeping with Jesse or why he really broke up with her that first time.
And it turns out that talking? Not really so bad.
Like, sure, there are more enjoyable things he can think to do, especially when the talking turns to screaming or crying to stomping off in anger or annoyance or simple exhaustion. But when the summer ends, he's never felt so close to anybody in his life. And after hashing everything out — literally everything — he's sure of one thing above all else: they can make it.
There's no hit they can't take now.
There's just something different about senior year.
Like, it's a feeling. Billy says it's a disease they're all catching. Seniors pay attention in class, and they talk about grad school and jobs and the future, and they just seem to care so much more about everything. Finn thinks it's kinda cool, but it's still weird.
He wonders if this is what it's gonna be like in the real world. And that's beyond terrifying, the real world. He tells Rachel, and she sighs a little. "It's natural to fear what you haven't yet experienced. The truth is that I'm a little intimidated, too. After all, it'll be the true start of my acting career. What if I — what if I fail?" She finishes in a whisper.
"You won't," he says confidently. "Power of positive thinking, right?"
"That's right!" she says, and he can hear the sudden conviction in her voice. "It's important to remember that. Thank you for reminding me, Finn."
"Anytime," he says, hoping she doesn't know just how widely he's grinning.
Maybe different's good.
"Wait," Rachel says, "so Billy and Nick are both out?"
"Yeah," says Finn, fiddling with the camera again in an attempt to make it point at her face and not the lamp beside her.
"Stop touching it," Rachel reprimands. "You're making it worse."
"You don't know what it's like," he protests, "you've got a built-in camera in your computer." He finally manages to make it point at her, and it's more pointed at her boobs than at her face, but he's really okay with that.
"Well," Rachel says, "maybe if you hadn't dropped your computer and broken it's built-in camera, we wouldn't be having this problem." He grumbles under his breath, but she move on. "What about your new roommate?" she asks. "Is he there?"
"Manuel?" Finn says. "He's at the party, too."
"Sounds like everybody's at this party," Rachel observes.
"Pretty much," Finn replies. He smiles at her. "How was your day?"
"Finn, are you positive none of them will be back for a few hours?"
He frowns, not sure why she cares so much. "Yeah, I'm positive."
And she bites her lip, and there's something in her gaze that make his pants suddenly feel a little tight. Before he can ask what, exactly, is happening, she reaches down to the hem of her shirt, and in one swift motion pulls it up over her head. She has some fancy lacy bra on that shows more than it hides, and he knows she only wears stuff like that when she wants to have sex.
(By the end of senior year at McKinley, Finn was so boss at pressing a hand to her back when they were out and totally being able to feel if she was wearing lace or cotton. He could always tell if he was getting lucky that night or not.)
And that bra she's wearing now. . . . Fuck.
"Your turn," she says.
He tears off his shirt as fast as he can. "I love you," he says a little breathlessly.
She smiles smugly. "I know."
He never really hangs out with Kevin or Bobby anymore, even though they were among his best friends freshmen year. So when they rib him about how he never goes out anymore, he agrees to go to a frat party with them.
They're playing the music so loudly it feel likes the ground is pounding beneath him, they only have Natty Lite, like half the girls are freshmen, and before it's even midnight, somebody ralfs on the beer pong table.
It's totally lame.
He doesn't end up drinking anything at all, but instead he spends the night sitting in a corner with a sophomore girl who's cat died on Tuesday and who's friends have taken her out in a failed attempt to cheer her up. She's actually pretty cool. She shows him the picture of her cat she keeps in her purse, and he shows the picture of Rachel he has in his wallet.
That's kinda lame, too, but it's the right kinda lame.
That fall, Rachel's cast as Maria in NYU's production of Sound of Music.
She's always called that musical her guilty pleasure, and Finn knows she's thrilled to be in it. He's thrilled for her, at least until he's on the phone with her and some random guy starts talking to her and making her laugh and Finn's forgotten. And, he soon learns, that random guy is not so random. He's Blake Baker, and he's Rachel's co-star in the play.
"His voice is absolutely fabulous!" Rachel raves. "His performance of Edelweiss leaves me breathless!"
"He can't be that good," Finn says, disgruntled. "And what sort of name is Blake Baker anyway?"
"I think it has something of a show business ring to it," Rachel replies brightly.
Finn's never actually seen Blake, and he tells himself he's being paranoid for no reason — Rachel would never cheat on him. But it's not Rachel he's worried about, really. It's Blake. That's such a douche bag name. He tells Lydia that, and she rolls her eye. "You're such a guy. Rachel's had co-stars before, hasn't she?"
"Yeah," Finn says. But that was before Michael. Not that she likes Michael, or ever really did — she told him as much over the summer. Still, she first met Michael 'cause he was her co-star.
"Don't worry," Lydia insists.
"I'm not," Finn says. He is. And he's supposed to be past all this. Rachel's only ever been good to him, and every time she's dated someone else — Michael, Jesse, even Puck all those years ago — it's 'cause Finn pushed her into their arms. So he's not gonna go all possessive, jealous boyfriend on her.
He's just gonna be a really, really good, attentive boyfriend, even all the way far off in Ohio. He texts and calls her constantly, and she's always so happy to talk to him. He even agrees to help her with extra practice. He reads the lyrics for Sound of Music she e-mails him and then sings various parts with her over the phone. (And he simply flicks Billy off when his friend makes faces at him.)
He kind of wants to ask if he's better than Blake. He doesn't, though.
It's a Thursday when he calls her and someone else picks up. "This is Rachel Berry's phone," the girl says, sounding as bubbly as Rachel usually does.
"Um, this is Rachel Berry's boyfriend?" he replies, confused.
"Oh, hello Finn!" the girl exclaims. "It's Anna. How are you?"
"Hey Anna," he says. He's met Anna before, and he likes her. A very tall girl with white blonde hair and round glasses that always make Finn think of Harry Potter, Anna's one of Rachel's best friends and has been since freshmen year. "Is Rachel okay?"
"She's fine, but she's in the middle of practice."
"I thought practice ended at five," he says.
"Oh, it does, but . . . we've been having some disagreements. Here, listen for yourself."
She puts the cell on speakerphone, and the soft buzz in the background quickly becomes Rachel's familiar voice turned shrill. "You have to give it some feeling," Rachel yells. "You have to mean it!"
"I do mean it!" a boy replies angrily. "I'm performing the song perfectly!"
"Perfectly?" repeats Rachel. "I must disagree!"
"Rachel," somebody says, sighing.
"No, Professor Kim," Rachel insists. "Something Good is an outpouring of love and of awe at that love, and it requires more than mere perfection of vocal chords. It requires emotion — only that will allow the song to achieve true perfection. Blake's current performance has all the passion of a brick wall."
Finn grins into the phone.
"Maybe we should wrap up for today," the professor says. "And start again tomorrow afternoon."
"No," Rachel says. "We need to practice."
"You're insufferable, has anyone ever told you that?" Blake says. Finn really hopes Rachel chews the dumbass out some more.
"Plenty of people," Rachel replies primly, "all of whom simply could not grasp my need for perfection. Honestly, true stars mean what they sing. How is that a hard concept to understand? My boyfriend sings this song over the phone with more feeling than you!"
"Oh, yes," Blake says, "let's sit around and listen to you rave about your boyfriend, 'cause you doing that twenty-four hours a day never gets old. This is stupid. I'm done. I'll see you all tomorrow."
There's more shouting, more reprimands from Rachel and failed intercessions from other students and a professor who doesn't seem any better at handling spats between his students than Mr. Schue ever was. But Finn doesn't really listen to it.
He's got that warm, fuzzy feeling inside him, that feeling of his chest expanding as if a balloon is rising in his chest, that feeling of fuck yeah reverberating in his head. Eventually Rachel picks up the phone and begins to rant to him as she walks back to her apartment, and Finn basks in the sound of her voice.
He knows he's always gonna be that guy, the one who's jealous and possessive and all stay-away-from-my-woman. But he'll do his best not to act like it, 'cause he also knows he's got Rachel for keeps. She's definitely got him for good.
"You know," Rachel tells him furiously over the phone, "I should have known Blake wouldn't be able to complement my star talent properly! And Blake Baker is such an ludicrous name."
He finally goes to a game.
He sits in the stands with Manuel, and he cheers on Billy and all his old football teammates, and he feels so weird. He should be out there, should be helping, should be doing something other than just sitting here.
He gets a text from Rachel at half time. I'm watching the game. It's boring without you on the field. :(
He laughs a little to himself as he texts her back. Better get used to it, babe. We're gonna watch lots of OSU football, even in New York.
Barely moments later, she replies. As long as we're watching together, I suppose I'll survive.
Yeah, he supposes he'll survive, too. He focuses back on the game, and he screams for the team until his throat burns. He was just a fan once, and he can be just a fan again. Plus, there's nothing just about rooting for the Buckeyes.
When winter break comes, Finn is actually a little freaked.
One of his professors announces at the end of his exam that all the seniors better really enjoy their winter break, 'cause this might be the last time they ever get a whole month off for break. That shocks — and totally scares — Finn. But being back in Lima calms him down. Lima hasn't changed, and Finn has a feeling it won't ever. He doesn't want to spend his life here, but it's nice to know he'll always have a place to come back to.
And then Burt and his mom proudly present him with a brand new truck, all his own, and Finn is pretty sure this is the best Christmas ever. Like, he's had his own truck before, but this is so nice, and those old trucks always really belonged to his mom.
Rachel assures him that it's very nice, and she lets him drive her out to Crater Lake. (And, yes, they totally have sex in the bed of the truck, and it's amazing.) Lying curled up beside him, she gives him her present. It's a gift card to Victoria's Secret.
"Nothing too kinky," she says. She pauses thoughtfully and then says with an air of determined generosity, "Actually, this is your present, and I really shouldn't limit it. Pick whatever you like." It takes him a moment, but he realises he's supposed to pick something out for her to wear for him, and then it's like a forcefrom God comes over him and he has to have sex with her again right then and there.
The only other highlight is when he goes to temple with Rachel. It's a first for him; even after dating for years, even after celebrating Chanukah with her, he's never actually been to temple with her. It's kinda weird, and he feels like he sticks out like a sore thumb, but he knows it means a lot to Rachel that he comes.
Afterward, when everybody goes down to the basement, he heads straight for the snack table. Once he's snagged five cookies and some cider, he looks for Rachel and finds her only to end up eavesdropping on her conversation with some little old lady. "Not Jewish, is he?" the lady asks, frowning. "Any chance he might convert?"
"Finn is very proud of his Christian heritage and beliefs," Rachel tells her.
"Oh, well, I suppose it doesn't matter," the old woman goes on. "Your children will still be Jewish if you are." Finn's a little confused by that, but he gets that the lady thinks he and Rachel will get married and have children, and that's pretty cool.
When he asks Rachel about it later, she starts going on about "outdated beliefs in matrilineally" and "minding her own business" and "of course our children will be raised in the Jewish faith, as we long ago agreed, but that's none of her concern, is it?"
"You know I can, if you want," he offers.
"Can what?" she asks.
"Convert. Become a Jew. Is it really hard to do?" He hopes not. But he'll do it.
"Oh, Finn," she says, and she kisses him long and hard. "It's actually a very long and complicated process and I would never ask it of you, but to know that you would, Finn —" She kisses him some more, and he really should have suggested this earlier.
All in all, he decides if this is his last really long winter break, he has a pretty good last run.
"Do you ever feel like you're wishing away your life?"
Finn's Rachel-is-saying-something-you-really-should-listen-to spidey sense starts tingling, and he tears his attention away from the basketball game he and Billy are watching on television. "What do you mean?" he asks.
"I feel as if I'm living entirely for the future," Rachel says, and she sounds a little sad. "And while it's always good to be forward thinking and to set goals for yourself, I think I sometimes tend not to appreciate the here and now."
He isn't really sure what he should say, but he kinda gets what she's talking about.
"It's hard," he offers. He pauses, thinking about it. "Like, you only get to do college once," he says, leaving the living room and going into his empty bedroom with his cell. "But all I want is for college to be over so we can be together again."
"Exactly!" Rachel says. He smiles. He always likes moments like this, when they just so clearly get each other, and that makes everything so much better.
After a moment, Rachel takes a deep breath and then speaks with an air of determination to her words. "You know, the future will come when it comes," she says, "and we really ought to enjoy our life to its fullest every single day."
"Have you been collecting fortune cookie messages again?" Finn asks, smirking.
"There is nothing wrong with collecting fortune cookie messages," Rachel tells him. "They are both inspirational and instructive. But never mind that. Promise me, Finn, promise me you'll experience everything you can of your final semester at college, and I'll do the same, and in the future we'll both be able to look back on our college experiences and have absolutely no regrets."
"I promise," he says. It's quiet for a moment.
"You should still miss me, though," Rachel adds.
He smiles into the phone. "Don't worry, Rach. That's not something I can really change."
One by one, he starts to hear about everybody's plans.
Mike is gonna go to grad school for biology. Who would have thought?
Brittany has a job at J. Crew, and she's up for position as assistant manager.
Santana is applying to medical school. That's definitely a shock. But, Finn supposes, of all the bad things people said and thought about Santana, nobody ever called her stupid. He thinks she'll probably be a really scary doctor, though.
Artie has an internship at a newspaper, and he plans to get a job there.
Quinn's volunteers at this Crisis Pregnancy Center, where girls who don't want an abortion can go for help (that's how Rachel explains it, anyway), and she's already been offered a job there after she graduates.
Puck is going to work for Burt, like get paid with benefits and everything.
It's weird, Finn thinks, to hear about all his old high school friends entering the real world, 'cause, really, the last time he spent any extended time with them, they were all just kids. He can see Billy and Eric and Nick as adults, but the old Glee club members . . . it's just different. But, just like Finn's grown up since high school, so have they.
Like, Tina's studying abroad in Europe and wants to work for the State Department. That's so cool and just . . . they're real adults now. It's so awesome, and it's also freakin' terrifying.
(Especially 'cause Finn still has no idea what he wants to do next.)
Rachel calls him in a panic, and he can barely hear her through her tears.
He gets it out of her eventually: she has tonsillitis, again, and the doctors say there's a good chance she'll lose her voice if she doesn't have the surgery to remove her tonsils. The longer she waits, the doctor warns, the harder recovery will be and the greater chance that it can change her voice.
Finn tries to calm her down, tries to assure her that nothing bad will happen and she'll have the surgery and it'll all be okay. "But what if I lose my voice? I know that I'm a person beyond my voice and that I'll survive — but I love my voice!"
"You won't lose it," he says.
"You don't know that!" she cries, and nothing he can say is enough.
She eventually agrees to have the surgery, however, after her dads, Anna, Kurt, and Finn all prod her into it. Anna and Kurt promise to help Rachel rehearse her part after she recovers to make up for time lost. Her dads both fly up for the surgery, and they agree to pay for Finn to fly up the weekend after. (Honestly, those two spoil her rotten, but if he benefits from it, Finn's not gonna complain.)
She gets the surgery on a Thursday, and Finn actually grows a little worried as he sits in his apartment. Like, surgery's a big deal. He goes online, and he starts freaking out, 'cause there's all this stuff about too much blood and infections that can go really bad and when they give you the gas stuff to put you under it can sometimes backfire and —
"And giant flying monkeys could come storming into the hospital and attack Rachel as she lies helplessly in bed," says Kurt over the phone. "Calm down. I thought you were all for the surgery."
"I was, I mean, I am, but —"
Kurt then spends the evening calming Finn down, and throughout the week he updates Finn on her condition. "She's fine," he assures. "She even left the hospital, and her dads are hovering around the apartment driving me crazy. I now entirely understand where she got her terrible fashion sense from. The other day I saw the one with glasses wearing a purple and green polka-dot sweater vest. The fashion world wept at that sweater's creation."
"Why won't she pick up the phone when I call, then?" Finn demands.
"Probably because it won't do either of you any good," Kurt says, sighing. "She won't talk."
Finn frowns. "What do you mean?"
"I mean she refuses to talk. She won't say a word, which is less exciting than I would have thought. I find my life oddly empty without her incessant chatter buzzing in the background. And, oh, the worse part — her dads bought her a bell."
Finn finally takes a plane up there a week later on Friday night.
He finds Rachel lying in bed, wearing her pink pyjamas (the cute ones with the little gold stars all over them), and surrounded by half-eaten bowls of ice cream and pudding, mountains of tissues, and three hundred books and magazines.
"Hey," he greets softly. "How's your throat?"
She bursts into tears and scrambles from bed to throw herself at him.
It's gonna be a long weekend.
"You have to talk eventually," he tells her.
She scribbles something on her whiteboard with a sparkly pink dry erase board marker and displays it. Eventually isn't today it reads. He sighs. "C'mon, Rach. This isn't very mature." She narrows her eyes at him and then writes something furiously on the board.
I realise my petulant attitude is unbecoming, but I can't help it, and I would greatly appreciate my boyfriend's support in this dire time in my life.
"You'd never let me get away with this," he says.
But you're a better person than I am.
He laughs a little at that, at how determined she looks to keep her silence. He hadn't quite believed that she'd gone all this time since her surgery without saying a word, 'cause let's face it — the girl loves to talk. But he's not having so much trouble believing it now. And he has to snap her out of it. A Rachel who doesn't talk is like a grilled cheese sandwich that doesn't have cheese, which is just toast, and why would he would want toast when he could have grilled cheese?
"You know," he says nonchalantly, "on the ride from the airport, Kurt said that Vicki Lewis's performance in the reprisal of I Can Get It for You Wholesale surpassed the original performance by Barbra Streisand."
Rachel gasps, and Finn bites back a grin. Her hand and pink pen fly across the whiteboard, and she shoves it at him moments later. He only reads the start — Tell Kurt that Barbra's performance as Miss Marmelstein at only nineteen was so sensational that — before he looks at her and shakes his head. "Tell him yourself," he says.
She purses her lips, grabs the whiteboard from him, and writes another message.
He refuses to read my whiteboard messages.
"Then maybe you should just tell him, you know, with actual words out loud."
She grinds her teeth, wipes the whiteboard completely clean, and writes in large letters No! She underlines it several times and even makes the dot of her exclamation point a little star. "Aw, c'mon," Finn encourages. "Your voice'll sound just as good. It's been over a week. You're all better now."
She merely crosses her arms over her chest and glares at him.
He sighs. "C'mon, baby," he pushes. "Are you really never gonna talk again? Are you never gonna tell me you love me again?" He looks at her with large, pathetic eyes, the kind that always melts her the way her pouty lips always manage to melt him.
Her shoulders sink a little. She writes something on her whiteboard and passes it gently to him. His heart rises up in his throat when he reads it, and he looks at her to see her literally chewing nervously on her lip as she waits for his reaction. How can she even ask that?
Will you still love me if I can't sing anymore? Because I can stand to lose my voice, but I can't stand to lose you.
"Sorry, Rach," he says softly, "you're stuck with me, voice or no. You can carry around a whiteboard for the rest of your life, and when we're fifty I'll still be beside you, reading your messages and buying you more dry erase markers when you need 'em." He brushes his knuckles gently across her cheek.
Promise? she writes. He holds out his pinky; she smiles sweetly and hooks her pinky around it. "So are you gonna talk now?" he asks eagerly. She sighs, ever put upon, and writes out yet another message. Nope.
He finds the lyrics online.
He can't stand this anymore. He needs to hear her voice. He memorises both parts but prints off a copy for her, and then he has Kurt help him download a version of the song without any words, 'cause he and Rachel (dammit, he'll make her) are gonna be the ones to sing the words.
She smiles brightly as he comes into her room, but her smile falters as he drops the sheet music on her lap and sets up his laptop. He turns the song on, and her eyes go wide as she looks back and forth between the sheet music and Finn.
When she doesn't start to sing, he takes her part. "They say we're young and we don't know, / We won't find out until we grow," he croons softly. "Well, I don't know if all that's true, / 'Cause you got me, and baby, I got you."
She watches him carefully, and he doesn't know what she's thinking, but he goes on. "Babe, I got you, babe, / I got you, babe. . . ."
And slowly, softly, her voice barely more than a whisper, she sings her part. "They say our love won't pay the rent, / Before it's earned, our money's all been spent."
He grins and belts out the words. "I guess that's so, we don't have a pot. / But at least I'm sure of all the things we got. / Babe, I got you, babe, / I got you, babe. / I got flowers in the spring, I got you to wear my ring."
She's smiling now, and her voice lifts slightly. He can hear how much she means the words, and he might have picked this song 'cause it's how he feels about her, but to know, to hear, that she feels the same makes his heart race a little.
"And when I'm sad, you're a clown," she sings, "And if I get scared, you're always around. / So let them say your hair's too long —" She reaches out playfully and ruffles his hair. "—'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong."
He takes both her hands in his. "Then put your little hand in mine. / There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb." Tears start to bead in her eyes as they both sing the short chorus. "Babe, I got you, babe, / I got you, babe. . . ." He pulls her up onto her knees on the bed so her face is level with his.
"I got you to hold my hand," he sings.
"I got you to understand," she sings, and her voice is finally loud and proud and so very Rachel Berry. He grips her waist and picks her up, twirling her off the bed.
"I got you to walk with me." They spin around the room, silly and happy, like they're prancing around the old Glee choir room again.
"I got you to talk with me."
"I got you to kiss goodnight." He hoists her up and her legs come around his waist.
"I got you to hold me tight." Her hands grip his shoulders.
"I got you," he says, his voice breaking a little as he goes on, "I won't let go."
"I got you to love me so," she says, and he can't help but sing that part, too. "I got you, babe," they sing, and then the song goes on without them, because she kisses him, and if there's one thing better than the feel of his voice singing with Rachel's, it's his lips pressed to hers.
In March, he goes to talk to Professor Yates.
"So, I'm moving to New York after graduation," he explains. "I mean, I'm gonna go back to Lima for a weeks to hang with my mom and stepdad. But then I'm moving to New York. So, if I want get a job there, do I, like, have to start applying now?"
"Well," she says, "it's always good to start planning ahead of time, but it's rather difficult to start applying for a job in a state you don't actually live in."
He was afraid of that. "So what do I do?" he asks.
"There are a lot of things you can do," she says, smiling encouragingly. "Do you have a reseme already? If not, you should start to put one together. I can help you, if you like. And the Career Center gives practice interviews, if you want to try that. It's pretty helpful, actually. And you can do a little research, too, and think about the sort of job you might want to apply for once you get to New York."
He nods. Okay. He can do all that.
"Do you have an idea what job you might like?"
He shrugs. "I don't know," he says. "Something with computers. Or music. Or both. That'd be really cool. But there's probably nothing like that. I just want something, you know? I mean, I wanna make money so that if it takes Rachel a few years to get a good job performing, then I can support her and stuff until then."
Professor Yates nods. "Okay, then. Go by the Career Center when you have a chance and schedule a practice interview for yourself. As for a resume, you need to gather all the information you have on jobs you've had and awards you've won. Find everything you can, and then e-mail me, and we can meet and start to put it all together. Sound good?"
He keeps missing her a lot.
Even thought they've had years of handling this long-distance thing, and even though he knows it's all coming to a close soon, he can't help himself. He loves her, and she loves him, and they're in separate states, and that just plain sucks.
So, yeah, for the record, he still misses her.
They've only got about two weeks left of senior year when Billy asks casually, "When did you and Rachel first get together?" He doesn't talk his eyes off the screen.
It's a Saturday afternoon, they've already got a few beers under their belts, and they're sitting in the living room marathoning on the xbox. And Billy wants to talk about Rachel? "Like in high school?" Finn asks. "We got together for real at the end of sophomore year."
Billy doesn't reply right away, and Finn starts to think maybe he imagined the whole small exchange. Neither of them have even taken their eyes off the television screen and the video game, even. Then, still nonchalant, Billy says, "You're, like, totally head-up-your-ass in love with her, right?"
"Yeah," Finn says slowly.
"When did you first know?"
"I don't know." He shrugs. "Why?"
Billy shrugs, too. "Just . . . it's just . . . you're pretty much the only dude I know who's legit in love and everything, and I just . . . how do you know? Like, when does one girl suddenly become better than tons?"
Finn thinks about it. He glances at Billy. "Is this about Lydia?"
"No. Never mind, dude."
It's quiet again, except for the son of the machine gun on the video game. "I guess," Finn finally says, "I guess you know one's worth more than tons when you're watching porn and all the girls faces start, you know, looking like hers, and when you start jerking off and thinking of her makes you come harder than thinking of, like, Angelina Jolie. That's when you start to know."
Billy doesn't say anything, so Finn goes on. "And when something really awesome happens, you just gotta tell her before anybody else. And when something suck-y happens, you wanna tell her that, too, 'cause she can make you cookies and rub your back and make you feel all better. And you don't mind doing stupid stuff if it makes her happy, and she never treats you like you're stupid." Finn smiles at his explanation.
"You know you love somebody when her crazy becomes cute," he finally finishes, "and you miss it when she's not around."
"Dude," Billy says, "that's just you and your girlfriend."
"So you're saying you don't think it's cute when Lydia stats crying all over Star Magazine 'cause some singer broke up with some actress?"
"Fuck you, man," says Billy.
Finn only grins.
They never do stop playing the video game, not for another few hours.
He graduates on a Friday morning.
Rachel and Kurt both fly down for the graduation, and his mom and Burt drive up from Lima. The ceremony goes by really fast, and then they all go out to this big fancy lunch afterward with Billy and Lydia and their parents. And then he's a college graduate. That's so unbelievable.
That same afternoon, Finn's mom, Burt, Rachel, Kurt, and Finn pile into two cars and drive all the way up to New York. It takes, like, nine hours. But they make it in plenty of time for Rachel and Kurt's graduation on Saturday afternoon.
When they call her name, Finn pulls off his jacket, and he stands and whoops and shouts. Rachel glances across the field and, he knows she catches sight of him, because she beams suddenly at him and at, he's pretty sure, his t-shirt, blue with the words Team Rachel written on it in gold sharpie. It's not as fancy as her Team Finn shirt back in high school, but he's pretty proud of it.
And, just like that, by Saturday night, they're both college graduates.
It's actually all because of Mr. Schue.
Glee gets together the first week of June, and afterward Mr. Schue takes Finn out to dinner. It's been a long time since Finn's spent actual time with his old mentor, and Mr. Schue is totally as cool as ever. They start talking about Finn's future, and New York, and suddenly Mr. Schue is talking about making phone calls.
"I have some friends in New York," he says. Finn's not really sure what's going on, but three days later Mr. Schue calls to tell him he has an interview at a high school on the edge of New York city that needs another computer tech guy.
"My old college buddy Jake is a math teacher there. He says the school's desperate for somebody to help the one tech guy they have, who doesn't even really know what he's doing to begin with. And," Mr. Schue adds, clearly excited, "the school's old choir master retired a few years ago. Jake says the school would definitely be interested in starting a Glee club if there were somebody willing to run it for free."
Finn isn't so sure that it could all work out so well, but it's worth a shot, right?
(And could he really run a Glee club? He'd totally have to hire a choreographer. Or make Rachel do it.)
He and Rachel drive to New York with all their worldly possessions a week later, and a week and a half later, Finn gets the job. He can't believe it, but Rachel can, and she dances around squealing in delight for hours afterward. Finn just thanks Grilled Cheesus that Mr. Schue was ever desperate enough to plant pot in Finn's locker and totally change his world — in more ways than one.
The fire escape in the apartment they get in New York serves as a kind of balcony.
This apartment is slightly bigger than Kurt and Rachel's old apartment, but with three people to pay rent instead of two, they can afford it. They finally finish moving in on a Wednesday. Kurt goes out with some friends, but Finn and Rachel stay in.
Finn drags out two old camping chairs to the small balcony and Rachel brings a bottle of cheap wine from the grocery store and two glasses. She ends up sitting in Finn's lap rather than in her own chair, but he really doesn't complain.
She uncorks the bottle, pours them each a glass, and raises hers. "What should we toast to?"
He considers her. And, like he has so many times in the past few weeks, he thinks about the last four years, kind of just sees it all in his head, and then he just sees her, so close to him, and he thinks about what happens next. He thinks about his working late and her countless auditions and an engagement ring he won't be able to afford and marriage and babies.
"To finishing college," he says, raising his glass, "and to what comes next."
She clinks her glass to his, her smile soft. College was full of awesome.
But what comes next?
It's totally gonna be filled with so much more awesomeness.
"I get so tired when I have to explain,
When you're so far away from me.
See you been in the sun, and I've been in the rain,
And 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."