It's been a week.
A week since Regional's. It had been a good week. Everyone was motivated and happy and they were going to New York City in a few weeks, and it was only just starting to become real. Everything was starting to become very real and there was a part of him that was excited. He swears there is a part of him that is excited. But then there's this other part, this very real part that leaves him with a sick feeling in his stomach and a bad case of the sweats. He doesn't think its nervousness. Maybe it is. But there is enough crap to get through the next weeks as a distraction, a distraction from the only part of his life that he can't figure out for the life of him.
He sits with Kurt out in the backyard, and it's a really sunny day, which was strange for March. Kurt is drinking lemonade and he is talking really loudly and excitedly and Finn thinks he might have to start to pay attention. Kurt tends to notice when he zones out.
'And he says, and I quote ' there is a moment, when you say to yourself 'oh, there you are.' I've been looking for you forever. 'I swear to God, my heart almost dropped out of my chest.'
This part sticks with him. He kind of get's this weird clarity with his attention span and he listens. Kurt kind of blushes and he would laugh except for the fact that it was very clear that this wasn't a laughing matter. Besides, that feeling in his stomach had returned. His attention would be all Kurt's.
"So, are you and Blaine like together now?" He asks him, bringing his cup to his lips.
Kurt smiles and nods. "Yeah. Yeah we are."
Finn stares at him for a moment before he smiles back at him. He is really happy for him. To be quite honest this was a long time coming, and he was kind of glad this was happening because he was sick of Kurt going on and on about Blaine and wether or not he should express his feelings or reciprocate his flirting or whatever. Really, he didn't know why the hell Kurt decided to come to him for advice on his love life. Finn had no fucking clue.
His phone buzzes next to him and he reaches over, flipping it open. It's from Quinn, and he reads the first three lines, something about coming over and prom (there's that fucking word again) and he doesn't reply, snaps the phone shut and tosses it to the side, laying back on the grass with his cup of lemonade resting on his stomach.
"Quinn?" Kurt asks, peering over at Finn with his eyebrows raised.
"Yeah," is all he can bother responding with. He really couldn't be bothered getting into it.
"So that's really happening, huh?" Kurt says and Finn wants to roll his eyes and tell him to shut up, but he knows better than that.
"I guess so," he replies, and he knows his voice sounds resigned and sarcastic, like it wasn't even his decision to begin with. A part of him thinks that. Because he wound back up in this position again, where he was at the beginning, and he feels like everything is now out of his control. Like his life is already being planned ahead. He doesn't look at Quinn the way Blaine looks at Kurt.
He doesn't say anything like that to Kurt though. Because it wasn't worth it.
"Okay, well I hope you're happy anyway," Kurt says, and he's tone is obvious that he is dropping the subject. Finn is both grateful and a little annoyed. He could always count on Kurt for giving unwanted yet necessary advice.
He thinks about that long after they abandon the backyard for indoors. Is he happy? He doesn't even know what the true definition of happiness is anymore. He thought he was happy. At one stage there was a moment where he thought he was happy.
Kurt distracts him by putting on a game, and even though he knows this is Kurt's own personal definition of hell, he really, really appreciates it.
There's Glee pretty much everyday after school now, because Nationals are in just under seven weeks and they need to work really hard if they want to beat Vocal Adrenaline. Their Regional's song selection was killer and they are all kind of struggling to find something to top that. So it's been pretty much Four til six Monday through Friday until they find something that works.
He's kind of sick of the arguments.
"Look, I'm not doing this because of me, I'm making suggestions that I think will help us win!" Rachel says, turning around to face Santana.
Santana rolls her eyes. "Whatever, all this is about is you getting another solo. You choose songs for yourself, not for us. And I'm sick of you-"
"No, you know what? I'm sick of you – all of you – not trusting me. I'm not doing this out of spite or maliciousness; I want to win, just like you! So get off my back and help me instead of disagreeing with me," Rachel interrupts her, standing up and snapping.
He kind of wants to high five her. Instead he shoots her a small smile, one that he knows she will see and appreciate, but small enough so that Quinn doesn't see and get her panties in a twist. Santana shuts the hell up, mutters something under her breath, but doesn't object. Neither does anyone else.
She smiles back at him softly before she sits back down. And his stomach kind of twists in a knot, and not in the 'I just ate a whole bag of Doritos' kind of way. Quinn rests her hand on his knee and he closes his eyes.
He remembers a time when everything wasn't so complicated.
Prom's coming up, in like a week or something, and he's getting really sick of talking about it. He kind of went along with it, because it's what Quinn wanted, but after the fifth campaign poster of them he swears to God he wants to punch something.
"This is completely stupid," he says after he rips it off the wall in the empty corridor, turning around to face her and gesturing to it in his hand.
"Excuse me?" she says, and she gets that haughty tone in her voice that he really doesn't want to have to deal with. "I told you what I was doing, and you were perfectly fine with it."
"Perfectly fine? I agreed, because I was sick of you talking about it. It's all you ever talk about. Prom, and the crowing and what we are going to wear and how we are going to colour co-ordinate our freaking accessories. I'm sick of it," he says, and maybe he's being a little harsh, but he should have an opinion about something that involves him, shouldn't he?
"I didn't realize it was such a hassle for you," she bites back, and he can see the tears welling in her eyes and he really, really wants to roll his eyes. But he can't. He shouldn't.
He should care about this stuff right? He's got a hot girlfriend, and he's back on top, and he should care about what colour bow tie he is wearing to prom and what they are going to dance to when they win. He feels like he should care, but he can't. He can't care. He isn't sure what that means.
"Look, can you just tone it down a bit? I don't want any posters. Seriously. I don't want people seeing my face all …"
"You mean you don't want Rachel to see?" She says, her voice hard.
He stops, his fingers stilling on the poster still crumpled up in his hands. The knot it his stomach becomes bigger and he wants to turn around and walk away. Because this has nothing to do with her he tells himself and she needs to stop bringing her up. He can't think about her. Not now.
"You can make the decision about where you want to go from this," he says before he turns around and walks away, tossing the poster on the ground as he rounds the corner.
When he finally gets to his car he slams the door shut and stops. He finally stops and he has to close his eyes he feels so dizzy. Because he is back in this place again, and he feels the worse sense that he completely fucked up doing this again. There was a reason him and Quinn didn't work out in the first place, wasn't there? A reason deeper than her sleeping with Puck and getting knocked up. He slams his hand into his steering wheel, before resting his head back against the seat.
This is definitely not what happiness feels like.
It's prom, and he feels like the most awkward and uncomfortable person in the room. He's in a tux that he hates, this bowtie that is seriously cutting off the circulation of his neck, and shoes that are giving him blisters. The hall is crowded, and there are balloons (matching blue and silver, Quinn's idea) everywhere and streamers and the band that is playing make's him feel like he is in a really bad 90's high school movie.
But he's here right? And Quinn is on his arm, and she's like super happy and cheerful, even though she's squeezing him just a little bit too tightly. They haven't really spoken much since the hallway last week, she came over on Wednesday to drop off his tux and all the other stuff he had to wear and left him a message not to forget the corsage. He feels like a royal class jerk-off because he kind of really hates this. He hates the idea of prom, and the higher expectation that it's supposed to be the best night of your life and that everything is supposed to fall into place and be perfect. This is anything but perfect.
He sees Rachel instantly. She walks into the hall with Kurt on her arm (she brought him as her date) in this dress that he swears she was born to wear and he honestly feels like his heart has stopped beating. She laughs as Kurt whispers in her ear, her fingers smoothing the emerald green silk of her dress and she catches his eye. She smiles at him, really smiles and he finds himself grinning stupidly back at her.
Yeah, this is kind of what prom is supposed to be like.
He loses track of her after a few moments and Quinn grabs his arm, turning him around to face her.
"What are you doing?" She snaps, her eyes flashing. Yeah he's getting real fucking sick of this.
"Nothing, what do you think I'm doing?" He asks her, resigned, because if she's got something to say, she's sure as hell going to say it.
"I saw you looking at her," she replies, the bite back in her tone and he really does roll his eyes this time.
"She's my friend. I can look at her if I damn well want to," he snaps back at her and her grip on his arm tightens.
"Your friend? Don't make me laugh. Would you get your head out of the clouds just for one minute and maybe you would see what is right in front of you. You are so incredibly oblivious to the fact that I'm here, and I'm the one who is doing all this stuff for you and making all these sacrifices and –" she stops, her face flushing as she glares at him.
He's smiling. He can't help it. Because she's right, he is incredibly oblivious to what's in front of him.
"We're done. Have fun at your prom, Quinn. I hope it's everything you ever dreamed of," he says, turning around and walking away. He doesn't look back, because he knows what he's going to see and for the first time in weeks he actually feels a resemblance of happy.
He has to get out of this hall. He high fives Puck and Mike and smiles at the girls as he exits the hall and he must look like a complete idiot, stalking out of there with a weird smile on his face. He doesn't care. He doesn't care about any of it. He just wants to get rid of this fucking bowtie.
He walks down the main corridor and past the choir room. But then he stops. Because he sees a sliver of green through the crack of the door and he knows who it is instantly. He steps up to the door and cracks it open, seeing Rachel sitting at the piano, her fingers brushing the keys, but not pressing down.
"Hey," he says gently, not wanting to scare her. She turns around, smiling, her hair falling around her shoulders. She pats the seat next to her.
He moves over to her, wrenching the bowtie so that it comes undone and he pulls it off, undoing the top buttons of his shirt. That's better. He sits down next to her, and watches her as she presses down a few keys, humming softly.
"What are you doing in here?" he asks her, his eyes falling to her fingers.
She shrugs. "Got a bit much in there."
He smirks. "Yeah, you're telling me."
She grins, still staring at the keys and he swears his heartbeat quickens at the sight of her smile. He feels really messed up, actually, that he just broke up with his girlfriend at prom and now he's in the choir room with Rachel. It feels like it should be messed up, but it doesn't feel that way to him. It feels normal. Right. She plays the piano gently and the tune sounds familiar, though he can't pinpoint what it is. They are silent, and it should be awkward, but it isn't. He really likes the way it feels though.
"I broke up with Quinn," he says, because he feels like he needs to tell her, even though he doesn't know why. He kind of just blurts it out and he waits for her response. She keeps playing, and he thinks he sees a change in her expression, but he can't tell.
"Oh," she replies, but it's not really the response he was hoping or waiting for. He isn't sure what he was expecting. Maybe that was it.
She stops playing and turns slightly to face him, a small smile on her face. She slides out of the seat as she speaks.
"I should probably get back. Kurt's really excited," she says, turning to face him as she smooths over her dress.
He nods and she smiles as she turns slightly to walk out the door.
She stops and turns around her fingers twisted together. He looks at her from his seat in front of the piano and he notices her face soften.
"You look really beautiful," he says, and he thinks his voice almost cracks, but he can't be sure. All he knows is that she grins at him before she turns away and walks out of the room and he feels the best he has all night. All week, actually.
He knows that that means something.
It becomes second nature, Glee Club rehearsals. Nationals are getting closer and closer, only three weeks away now, and they have started doing rehearsals on Saturdays. Nobody seems to mind, because everyone had gotten into this motivated mood where everyone is totally on board and they want to win. Rachel and Santana have even started agreeing on things, which was a surprise to everybody. Every one of them has clicked in a way that they never have before.
Quinn is still pretty pissed about prom. She lost, to Puck and Lauren of all people and she made it her life's goal to shoot him as many death stares as she possibly could. He doesn't know why she was so mad, really, she knew as well as he did that their relationship was never going to work. They both wanted each other for different reasons; Quinn to gain her popularity back and Finn used her as a distraction from Rachel. He isn't proud, in fact he kind of hates himself for what he did to her, but he just didn't want to lie anymore. He didn't want to lie about loving her, about caring about all the small things she cared about. He didn't want to hurt her, and breaking up with her was the only way to avoid that. He avoided her as best as he could.
"I hope you're happy," she says one afternoon after practice when he is walking to his car. "You broke my dream and my heart."
He rolls his eyes, because she's being more dramatic than Rachel and turns around to face her. "I didn't break anything. We didn't love each other. What was the point?"
She opens and closes her mouth a few times before she purses her lips and turns around to walk away. She stops suddenly before she reaches her car and turns to face him.
"I hope she's worth it," she says, and there is something in her voice that makes him think that she really means it, but she turns and gets in her car without another word.
He kind of stands there for a moment and is knocked out of his thoughts by Rachel, who kind of jogs up to his car, her books cradled to her chest. Her face is flushed slightly and she smiles at him.
"Hey," she says, kind of breathless. "You sent me a message today asking me to meet you here?"
"Yeah, yeah I did," he replies, dumping his bag on the cement as he leant up against his car. She watches him expectantly, waiting for him to say something, but he kind of forgets. He doesn't think he had any real reason to message her to meet him, he just wanted to see her.
"I – uh, did you want to go see a movie tonight?" he says, and he thinks it's kind of lame that he suggests they go see a movie. It's kind of first date stuff, and they have had three first dates so far, so he thinks that they are way past this barrier.
She looks surprised. "Oh! Oh well um – I'd love to, but I promised my dad's I'd go to a show with them at the revival tonight. They already booked tickets."
He tries not to show he is disappointed. "Oh, okay. That's cool, its kind of last minute anyway."
"Message me though." She replies, backing up.
She shoots him a grin before she turns and walks to her car. He watches her as she gets in, and pulls out of the lot. He watches her until he can't see her anymore. And then he pulls out his phone.
sent 6:08pm friday april 15th to rach
She sends him a :) within a matter of minutes. And he is smiling all the way home.
She seems a bit hesitant around him. Like, when they are alone, or he talks to her alone, she smiles shyly a lot and kind of moves away from him if he gets too close. Which he doesn't really get because this is what they wanted, right? Well it's what she wanted, and then he went and fucked everything up in the first place, but now it's all about making her see that he screwed up and that he only wants her. Nationals is in two weeks, and they have a killer number in place, and he's really confidant that they can actually win this.
"I'm kind of nervous," she tells him one day when she's sitting in the bleachers at school during lunchtime. He followed her, and it would have been creepy except for the fact that they are them and it kind of works. He is resting his back against the metal chair in front of her to the side, his elbows hitting the solid. He turns to face her.
"What do you mean you're nervous? You're going to be amazing, everyone knows-"
"No, not about Nationals. About you. And us. And this." She doesn't elaborate, even though he wants her to. He figures he's going to have to do some prodding to get to what she means.
"Why?" He asks simply, and he waits for her to respond.
She doesn't at first, kind of looks down at her books that she is writing her homework in, playing with her pen between her fingers. She opens her mouth a few times until she speaks. "It's like this is the most important thing, you know? You and me. I've been waiting, and you've been waiting, and so much stuff has happened in between that and I'm not sure I'm ready. I'm nervous because I don't want this to be rushed, you know? We have to … reacquaint ourselves with each other. We've both changed."
He kind of gets what she means, but he's still confused. Because in his head this goes a completely different way, and there is no hesitation on either of their parts. He knows that he fucked up, and he knows that she is still hurt from that. He knows this, and he knows that they need to get to a place where they are both in this before they continue.
So he nods. And she smiles, continuing with her homework.
He already has a plan.
So his plan doesn't entirely go to, well, plan.
He has this idea that he was going to take her to the revival, because he knows she loves that, and then he was going to walk her to her front step after and tell her everything he has been thinking over the past few weeks, about them and about how he feels and about how he is going to make sure they don't screw it up this time. He has this grand plan.
But then she rings him in hysterics, the good kind, because Kurt surprised her with tickets to the revival and she's really sorry but she can't go out tonight. He's super pissed at Kurt, and he makes sure he knows it. Kurt's all apologetic and stuff, but when it comes down to it, he's still really excited because him and Rachel love going to the revival and singing along to the shows and being all musical and all that. So his anger kind of disappears.
Nationals are in a week. Next Saturday to be precise. And they leave on Thursday. They will be spending an entire weekend in the Big Apple, the place where he knows she's going to be in her element and he thinks maybe he can wait a week.
He still punches Kurt in the arm when he walks out, a little picnic basket in his hand.
He's packing his bag on Wednesday night when his phone buzzes. He reaches over and grabs his phone from the beside table, flipping it open and smiling when he sees rach on caller id.
"Hey," he says, holding the phone up to his ear as he puts a pair of jeans in his bag.
"Hi," she says, and she sounds pretty happy. He grins just at the sound of her voice.
"Excited?" He asks, sitting down on his bed next to his suitcase lying open. He picks at his jeans as she laughs on the other end.
"Can you tell? This weekend's going to be amazing," she replies, and he can just see the smile on her face. "What are you doing?"
"Packing," he responds, looking at his open suitcase. He doesn't need to pack that much, just some jeans, shirts and jumpers. And underwear and a toothbrush. He can't forget that.
"Same," she says. "I just wanted to ring and tell you how excited I am."
He laughs. "I'm glad you called."
There is silence on the other end for a moment before she responds. "I'll see you in the morning, Finn."
He smiles. "Goodnight, Rach."
He clicks the phone off and tosses it on his bed, laying back down on the mattress. He really hopes they win this weekend. They have all worked so hard, so, so hard and he needs to win this. For the team. For her.
Everything was for her. And the thought should scare him, but it doesn't.
It's Friday night and they have been in NYC for just over a day, preparing for tomorrow. They are out on Times Square, eating dinner from carts lining the streets. He's eating a pretzel. It's a freaking awesome dinner. Everyone is kind of scattered around, Brittany and Artie are over to the side with Santana and Sam eating and laughing as they watched everything. Quinn, Puck and Lauren were leaning up against the railing, eating and watching the busy street. Mike, Tina, and Mercedes were running around after each other, laughing their heads off over something or other. Rachel sat by herself, eating her vegan dinner (it was ridiculous how New York had vegan places everywhere) and watching everyone. She had a look on her face that he didn't recognise, so he walked over to her and sat down.
"You okay?" He asks, taking a bite of his pretzel.
"Yeah," she says, kind of surprised, and then smiles. "A little bit nervous, I guess. Big day tomorrow."
He bumps his shoulder with hers. "You're going to be amazing. I know it, they know it, we all know it. Don't be nervous."
She grins at him and stares down at her food. She looks back up at him. "You're kind of amazing, you know."
He looks away and smirks. "No I'm not."
"Well I think you are," she says, taking another bite of her food and staring ahead. He watches her, his eyes staring at her features. She can tell he is staring at her and her face flushes slightly, but she still stares ahead. She smiles.
"We're gonna win this," he says gently, looking out at Times Square.
"Yeah, we are," she says, looking with him.
This night is kind of perfect.
They are about to go on, and he peers out into the crowd. It is massive, bigger than Regional's and Sectional's put together, and there is this small nervous feeling bubbling up in the pit of his stomach. There are hushed voices throughout and he takes a step back, breathing deeply. Rachel steps up next to him, looking at the red curtain ahead of them and he looks at her. She takes a deep breath and turns her face, smiling at him gently as the booming voice of the MC erupts throughout the theatre.
'From McKinley High in Lima, Ohio, The New Directions!'
He grabs her hand and squeezes it and she squeezes it back as the band starts up and the curtains pull back. And he sings. And God does she sing. The duet is perfect, and they are perfect and he feels his heart swell as she opens her lungs and belts out the song, her face expressing every emotion he could possibly imagine plus more. He loves her. God, does he love her. He loves her more than anything in this world, and it's taken him a long time to realize it, but this is it. They are it. And he can't help but slide his fingers into hers when they finish and the crowd erupts into cheers.
Their second song breezes by and he can't even think when it finishes and everyone in the crowd stands up and cheers. He glances at Rachel, grinning stupidly, and she has tears in her eyes and he grabs her, pulling her into a hugs. She squeezes him back, tighter than she ever has before and he feels his heart swell. They have this.
When they get back stage, they have an hour. The judging panel has gone away to decide, and the nervousness is incredible. But he can't think of anything but her. She is smiling and she is sitting in the corner, her fingers twisted together and he walks up to her, opening his mouth to speak.
She shakes her head, and grins, reaching out and holding his hand. "Later."
He nods, because there isn't much else to say, so he sits next to her on the couch, his hand still in hers and they wait.
It feels like six hours later when they are called back to the stage (really it was only 74 minutes). The all walk on, silenced immediately by the impending decision. She is still holding his hand when they read out the winner.
They lost. They lost. Some school in Michigan, and they lost. He's kind of in shock, and she loosens her grip on his hand, but he tightens his. This isn't over. Everyone looks devastated and they file off in single order after a few moments of clapping for the school that won. He is disappointed, he is, but then there is this part of him that is squeezing her hand tightly and all he wants to do is talk to her. Because this isn't over.
They have dinner at the hotel restaurant and everyone is kind of glum, but after an hour Mr. Shue tells them they can all go mingle upstairs and try and forget about it. That they did great. That they were fantastic. Because they were fantastic. He grabs Rachel's hand when they reach the hallway and she starts to head into the direction of her room.
"Come with me," he says, gesturing down the lifts.
She opens her mouth to object and he almost laughs because he knows she's worried about breaking the rules and leaving but he just shakes his head. "Puck's covering for us. Let's go."
She nods and follows him into the elevator. The ride down to the bottom in silence and when it opens to the ground floor he grabs her hand and leads her out. They end up out on the street and he marches her straight up to the cab that is sitting in the cab bay out the front. She looks at him when he opens the door and gently pushes her in, questioning him with her eyes. He grins and hops in after her, buckling his seatbelt before he talks to the cab driver.
"44th Street," he says and she looks at him, a small smile playing on her lips.
"Where are we going?" She questions, and he knew that if they were standing she would have her hands on her hips.
He grins at her. "Just wait, will you."
She rolls her eyes, but he can tell that she's excited. She looks out the window and her face lights up, and he beams at the sight of her. This is her city.
They get to 44th street and he pays the cab driver before jumping out, reaching for her hand to follow him. She is still looking at him as he pulls her down the street. She begins to laugh, because he has this grin on his face and this is possibly the most insane thing he has ever done, but this was the moment. He thinks that this is it, this is his moment, and he wasn't going to screw it up.
He stops suddenly and she almost runs into him. He still has a hold of her hand as he turns her around and places his hands on her hips to still her. He looks up and she does the same, a small smile appearing on her flushed face.
"Do you know where we are?" He asks her, and he grins because she knows exactly where we are.
"We are out the front of the Majestic Theatre," she replies, beaming up at him as she tears her eyes away from the building.
He nods. She is looking at him, really looking at him and for the first time he realizes that he can't screw this up. That this moment is everything he had hoped and planned and that he was ready. She would be ready for this.
"I love you," he says simply, and her smile doesn't fade. He grips her waist tighter before he continues.
"I'm an idiot. And I don't deserve you. I know we both screwed up, but I don't care about that anymore. We are out the front of the Majestic Theatre because this is it. This is what we are aiming for. You are going to be on that stage one day, and I will be there front row. We are here because I am in this. No more screwing around. We are both coming to New York, and watching your dreams come true. I will come with you. I'm not running away anymore," he finishes, and her eyes glass over as he presses his thumb against her cheek, brushing away her tears. "I am so in love with you Rachel and I-"
"Shut up," she says, staring up at him, her cheeks stained with wetness.
He's kind of taken aback and he opens his mouth a little before she laughs.
"Just kiss me," she says and her hands are gripping his forearms so tightly his fingers are starting to go numb.
He grins down at her before he pulls her to him and crushes his lips down to hers. Her hands curl around his neck she kisses him hard, her mouth opening as nips at her bottom lip with his teeth. He slips his fingers through her hair, his arm going around her waist holding her as close as possible to him. She whimpers against his lips and pushes herself closer to him, and he swears he feels his knees go weak.
She breaks away and rests her forehead against hers. "I love you, so much."
He kisses her lips again, softly, as he lifts her up off the ground. She giggles slightly against his lips and she curls her legs around his waist as he holds her up. They are out in the middle of the street, and people are staring at them, but he really doesn't care.
Now he knows exactly what Kurt meant. This was their moment.
This was what happiness felt like, he remembers.
And this night was kind of perfect.