WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MESS THIS IS
He tells her to "break a leg" in hopes that she'll spew out an "I love you".
She doesn't. Instead, she goes back to last year when really, all he wants to do is move on from it. "Last time we were here, you told me you loved me." He remembers last time all too well, too, but it's not like he really wants to keep talking about it.
So in return he tells her how much he likes her song and she tells him to listen to the lyrics carefully because she means everything she's singing.
He's backstage on the verge of tears now because she's signing a song about trying and trying to get it right but screwing everything up on the way there and he starts to think this song is sort of like a bible for him and her and their relationship or something.
If this were last year and she'd been singing this song, he probably would've ran right out on stage and hugged her right as it finished because it was just that good. But it's not last year so all he can do is stand in the wings and feel the rage of fire in Quinn Fabray's eyes as she stands behind him, arms folded with a huff, as he looks onto the stage.
Rachel starts to cry, he thinks. He knows it's bound to happen because she cries just about every single time she sings a solo, but this time feels different. It feels as if she's singing for herself even though he wants to think she's singing for him, too. Whatever. The song still touched him even though he's kind of too mesmerized to remember any lyric past the words 'get it right'.
Rachel introduces the glee club with quivering lips, wet eyes and a proud grin but before he can look on any longer, Quinn tangles her fingers into his and scoots closer to him, grabbing his hand all the way until they leave the wings.
"It's almost over," Quinn whispers just as the lights fade, the whole group crowding around each other as they start to head onto the stage. "Think about it. Then we can go public with all of this and it'll all be better."
Or worse, he can't help but think to himself. Much worse.
He thinks it's only natural to hug her when it's over. It's kind of their thing.
She only giggles a little, squeezing her body closer to his.
"You were so, so awesome," he manages to say over the cheering crowd.
She breathes a little, then lets out a little sigh as she pulls her body away from his just a bit. "You think so?"
He nods. He knows so. Only, he doesn't tell her so because Quinn's throwing him this glare with such rage it's almost scary. She's got nothing to be jealous about; she knows she belongs to him right after the hype from Regionals is over. But for some odd reason, she glares at him and Rachel like they don't belong; like they aren't right. Whatever. He likes this feeling so he decides he'll keep as much of it as he can.
"Thank you," she hugs him again and he hugs her too because he can't even be bothered to care about Quinn right now. Not when Rachel is this fragile, he can't.
She's got a new title. She's the most valuable player now and really, there isn't anyone else who deserves it more.
"I'm happy for her," he's pressed up against his locker, Quinn beside him as she starts to question the whole 'MVP' ordeal.
"I am too," Quinn nods, toying with the lock on his opened locker door. "Maybe she'll get the hint."
"...The hint?" What hint? What a talented, devoted team player she is? Because, really, there's nothing more to understand, he knows. "She deserves that trophy. You and I both know it."
"That's why I voted for her," Quinn says. "I voted for her so she'll realize she is better than us and she can make something of herself. At least something other than that stupid little fantasy she's got about marrying you and then forcing you out to New York with her."
"So that's what this is about?" He cocks his brow for a minute but he's not angry and he's really not surprised, either. It's a pretty low blow, sure, but she's Quinn Fabray and he totally expects this from her. (He thinks it's really the only thing he understands about her anymore.)
Quinn just snickers.
"And she wouldn't be forcing me out there, y'know," he says once Quinn's attentions practically drifted elsewhere.
"Excuse me?" She sounds offended and really, he doesn't mean to offend her; he's just being honest.
He just shakes his head, "Is there a reason you're always out to get her? I mean, you're pretty awful to her, behind her back or not. Any reason?"
She presses her lips together and lets out a little snicker, fiddling with the buttons of her cardigan as she looks down to the ground. "Because," she says with a whisper, "she's the one thing that just might take you away from me."
He nods and again, it's not like it's totally unexpected. "I see."
"She deserves better, Finn," Quinn says, doing that thing where she bats her eyelashes a few times, tucking a strand of her blonde locks behind her ear and looking up to him with those green eyes. It's pretty, sure, but it turns him on for not even minute because, well, he's sort of fed up.
"Is this whole 'befriending Rachel' thing a scheme to like, keep me around until prom or something?" He's not that stupid; it's not too hard to catch on once Quinn really gets into the swing of things. As clever as she may she think she is, for some reason, her plans are always falling apart.
She's quiet and with a whisper, she takes her hand to his forearm, "I just didn't want to lose you again."
Bullshit. He slams the door to his locker, boosts his backpack up on his shoulder and turns the corner of the hall before she even has time to chase after him.
"She's using you," Puck tells him one morning as he's too tired to do anything but pile all of his books up in his locker and shut the door slowly.
"She's... she's what?" He opens and closes his heavy eyelids three times before Puck can get a grip on his shoulders.
"Quinn's using you, bro," Puck hisses. "She's got this stupid ass idea about coming out on top again with you on her arm. She's been bitten by that prom queen bug or some shit. At least that's what Santana tells me."
He wants to believe Puck, he does. But he looks to him once more, his expression kind of sorry yet glad at the same time and Finn can't help but believe Puck's only doing this to keep Quinn to himself. And he totally won't let Puck steal one of his girls away from him again; it can't happen a third time. "I'm with Quinn," is all Finn answers. "Prom queen or not, I'm with her."
He hears the playing of the same piano keys over and over. It sounds like a lullaby and it's kind of pretty so he walks into the doors of the choir room and is pretty surprised when all of the lights are off.
"Hi," is the first thing he hears, a small whisper from over by the piano bench. "Sit."
So he doesn't object; he just sits down next to Rachel on the tiny piano bench. She scoots over, making just enough room for him without making it any more awkward than it already is, and just turns to him and smiles a little from the corner of her lips.
"Songwriting?" He asks, enthused as he looks onto the stack of papers she's got resting beside her. Some things are scribbled out; some things are erased; some things are jumbled and meshed together.
She shakes her head, "No." A little flushed in the face, she takes note he's picked up two of the sheets of paper she's got beside her so she reaches her hand out, waits until he puts them down and just picks them up and places them in her lap.
"But you're like, really good."
She just arches her brow and fiddles with a strand of her hair. "So you did listen?"
He nods, "You really feel all of those things about yourself? Like, you really think you've never gotten anything right?"
She tugs at her bottom lip with her teeth and shrugs. "I didn't get a mom. I didn't get a boyfriend; I got egged instead. I didn't get you."
He doesn't say anything now because, well, he feels like too much of a jackass to say anything at all. "That last part isn't true." Maybe he'll be a jackass just this once because she's on the verge of tears and even if it's sort of a lie or whatever, he thinks he should say it if it'll make her feel better for like, a minute or two.
"I don't have you," she says, grabbing the stack of sheet music from her lap and boosting her body up from the piano bench.
"Where are you going?"
She ducks her head and makes way for the door before she even answers him. "I can't do this right now."
Quinn invites him to spend the night because she's finally bought her prom dress and she can't wait to try it on for him.
"Isn't that bad luck?" He asks as he stands outside of her bathroom door.
She laughs, her voice echoing, "We're not getting married! Save that for the future!"
He's not even thinking about that. Hell, he's not even thinking about prom.
But she comes out of the bathroom two minutes later, her hands holding the back of her dress together as she asks him to zip her. The dress is pretty, sure, and he tells her that the white almost makes her look like an angel or something so she turns her head around quickly, wraps her arms around his neck and just kisses him. "I love you, Finn."
When they pull apart, he breathes, "I love you too, Rach."
He goes home only two minutes later because he's not sure he can take any more of her pacing back and forth as he sits on the couch and only watches with wide eyes.
"I can't believe you! Do you know how big of an asshole you are? I mean, here I am thinking we're one big shoe in for prom king and queen and you say her name out of everyone else's?"
He says sorry, but he's not sure if he should correct it or not, so he doesn't. "It was an accident. It... it won't happen again."
"Damn straight," she hisses. "I'll find myself another prom king; no worries."
He's not too worried, so he nods, heads out her front door and tells himself he's got no place in Quinn's life anymore. (He wonders if he's ever really had a place there to begin with.)
He's with her in her bedroom because she's got this amazing setlist she's planned for Nationals but she needs his approval or something. He sits on her bed while she sits at her vanity chair, hundreds of pieces of paper in a stack in front of her.
"I was going to suggest a duet between... well... you and I, but since you're with Quinn and all, I -"
He chimes in, "I'll duet with you."
Arching her brow, she smiles, "Really? I have one in mind for us but I figured you'd rather duet with Quinn so I've picked a back-up song just incase things happened to work out that way."
"Save it," he says. "And uh... Quinn and I... we're... that's over." He tries to say it in only a few words, he does, but it ends up being a jumbled mess because, really, he's a nervous mess himself and yet she's still looking at him like he's holding up the world. He doesn't deserve that, he knows; he doesn't deserve to have her look at him like he's something so special when really, he's not at all.
"I'm sorry to hear that," she responds, turning around in her chair so she's facing him, her reflection disappearing from the mirror he was just looking into.
"It's alright, really," he's not lying because it really is alright.
"Well," she starts, "now I just feel stupid."
"Because I went as far as to pick out a duet for the both of you. It'd probably even compliment your voices, but..."
"I think you care too much," he says with a laugh as she just rolls her eyes. "It's not a bad thing, Rach. I don't know anyone else who'd arrange a setlist they already like, envisioned, just to squeeze in a duet between two people who probably shouldn't be singing one together anyway."
She's a little flushed in the cheeks but she runs her hands through her bangs and just smiles. "I did it for the team."
"You do everything for the team," he says. "Why not try doing something for Rachel instead?"
She bites her lip, turns back around in her chair and grabs two pieces of sheet music. "Open Arms," she says. "It's one of the more challenging Journey songs but together we could win this thing."
"And that's doing something for yourself how...?"
"Winning Nationals means the world to me, Finn," she says. "If you help me out, we could really win, you know."
"Of course I'll help," he nods, leaning his back further into the pile of pillows and stuffed animals lying on her bed.
She boosts herself out from the chair by her vanity, flattens the bottom of her checkered skirt and just sits down on the bed, a few feet over from where he is. She puts her hand on his knee, looks up at him and smiles. "You sure this won't be too awkward?"
"Nope," he says almost too confidently. "You're not like, a stranger or anything. You're Rachel."
"And you're Finn," she says with a giggle. "Now can we please work on this?"
He wants her to mean something other than the song, he does, but he just shrugs and boosts his body off of the mountain of pillows he's leaning into. "Always."
He spots Quinn alone at a table in the back of the cafeteria so out of habit, he grabs his lunch tray and starts to head over to her.
"Don't," Rachel's behind him and he almost drops his tray because he swears he was alone not two seconds ago. "It'll just hurt more, trust me."
"Oh... hi, Rach," he turns his body around and she's standing with a paper lunch bag and two composition notebooks. "What's all of that?"
"Ideas," she starts, reaching her hand out and handing over one of the notebooks to Finn. "There's also some random songs in there but it'd be better if you didn't read those. They're... unfinished. And weird; really weird."
"They're based off of my own experiences and, well, I'm not that interesting," she says, kicking the heel of her flat hard on the floor.
He shakes his head, "That's not true. You're like, the second most interesting person I know."
"And the first would be...?"
"Kurt," he tells her. "He's got a different Prada bag for each day of the week."
"I've got a song for each day of the week," she whispers. "Apparently never being accepted in your own high school can result in hundreds of stupid, unfinished songs."
He places his hand to the small of her back and guides her toward a table in the corner of the cafeteria, one not too far over from Quinn's. "I'd listen to all of 'em," he whispers just before they sit down. "Except ones about headbands."
"You don't have to worry about that," she laughs, turning to him as she places her notebooks down onto the table, her paper bag following. "Those have all been discarded, trust me."
"There were more than one?"
"I like headbands," she says with a shrug.
And he likes her, but he doesn't ever see himself writing a song about it. He sets his tray down on the table next to her, using his plastic fork to pick at his salad with a sigh. He's no songwriter - or a writer in general - so writing his feelings down for her won't be an easy way to let her know. Rachel's pretty quiet, just nibbling at her cheese sandwich and apple slices as she flips through page after page in her notebook, barely even looking to him.
He only talks to her when he sees her flip through a few blank pages. "Hey, do you think you could rip out an empty page? I've... I've gotta finish up something for history."
Not looking up from the notebook, she nods and starts to fiddle with a blank page in her notebook, tugging at the seams. "There you go," she hands it over to him quickly, looks back down to her notebook and starts jotting down too many words for him to even count.
He's gotta start jotting down his own words if he ever wants to finish. Staring at the blank page, he writes down only three: 100 Reasons Why. If it works out the way it does in all of the movies, he should be good, he thinks.
He looks over to her once, still picking at her sandwich in between scribbling in her notebook. He wonders if she feels his eyes on her because she doesn't even look back to him once. Maybe she's just pretending because everything'll stay less awkward that way, he thinks.
He shrugs and hopes it's just a coincidence; she's not looking back at him because she's got no clue whatsoever he's looking at her to begin with. He picks up his pen now, trying to neatly write on the almost-blank sheet of paper in front of him. Sighing, he looks over to her one more time, her tiny hand racing across her notebook paper.
The way you never seem to notice when I'm staring at you
One down, ninety-nine more to go. What is he getting himself into?
She's crying when he comes over next. He's sprawled out across her bed and she's throwing hangers around her closet, dropping every other piece of clothing onto the floor.
"You're stressing me out," he laughs, boosting himself off of her bed and walking toward the closet. When she turns around to him, he grips her shoulders with his hands and breathes, "Whatever you wear'll be fine, trust me."
"I might as well not go," she says, a little disappointed. Even if she doesn't admit it now, he knows how much she's really looking forward to prom. "I figured I'd end up going with a few friends but it seems as if the whole world aside from me has other plans, so..."
"I'm pretty sure Kurt isn't going with anyone," he mumbles. "He's your friend, right?" He knows she wants to ask about him and about Quinn, he can tell. But he decides not to push it out of her because, really, he's so undecided about everything himself and after months of prom plans spewing from Quinn's mouth, he's only sure that he'd rather never hear the word 'prom' again.
"I'm not so sure I have any friends, Finn," she answers, head ducked to the floor, gripping a navy blue dress in her hand.
"I'm not your friend?" He's kind of offended when she continues to duck her head and lets out a little sniffle because, well, he could've sworn they were friends. "Rach?"
"You're my friend, Finn, you are, but..." There's always a but. "But I'll never be able to talk to you about boys. I'll never be able to sit down and ask you to braid my hair or flip through the latest issue of Vogue with me. We'll never be able to have a sleepover like two friends would because we're not two friends, Finn. I'll probably never have a friend and I guess I'm just going to have to learn how to accept that."
Cocking his brow, he walks over to her vanity and grabs her hairbrush off of it.
"What are you doing?" She folds her arms below her chest and just shakes her head. "Finn."
"Sit down on your bed," he says, nodding his head as he follows behind her.
"Finn," she starts to let out a little laugh, but he puts his hand to the small of her back and sits down behind her, almost so she's sitting in between his legs when she finally places her body on top of her comforter.
"I don't see a Vogue magazine around here anywhere, but..." She brings her palm to forehead and just starts to giggle as he takes a strand of her hair in between his fingers. "Who says I can't listen to you talk about boys or brush your hair for you? I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to do a braid but living with Kurt's given me like, a totally new insight on hair styling, so..."
She turns around to him, flashing him one of those smiles he hasn't seen in months; the one he's sure he's missed the most. "I could use someone to vent to."
"Well, I'm not sitting here for nothing," he says, lifting up the brush and stroking it through the back of her hair. "I still suck at braiding but I'm all for listening."
"Are you... are you still taking Quinn to prom?" She hesitates a little as he knows she feels him tugging on the back of her hair, twisting strand by strand through her hairbrush. When all she hears is a gulp, she mumbles, "Forget I asked."
"No, it's alright," he says. "To be honest, I'm probably not even going."
She turns her body around completely now, causing him to drop the brush out of his hands and onto her bed. "That sounds like a better idea as of now."
He's surprised she's agreeing with him. But then he thinks about it a bit and well, he doesn't remember her mentioning prom at all. It seemed to be just another part of her life to Rachel; it was never a big deal like it had been when Quinn insisted on talking about it day and night.
"So we won't go," he says, pressing his lips together as she starts to nod her head a touch. "I mean, if you're alright with that."
"'We'?" She arches her brow and looks a little confused and a little offended and he silently curses himself because he's probably messed something or other up again. Whatever. "Finn, we aren't together. Incase you forgot, you chose Quinn over me."
He just sighs, "I don't want Quinn, Rach. Promise."
When she doesn't buy it, he takes his hand and runs it over her thigh just a bit, resting it there for a minute. She, surprisingly, doesn't pull away from him or anything.
"It was a mistake," he says. "I wish you'd realize that."
"Me?" Did he say something wrong? Probably. "I've been trying to make you realize my mistake back from December, Finn! You think I don't ever regret cheating on you with Noah? Because I do."
Shit. He forgot about that. At least, he thinks he forgot about that. (So he didn't forget about it, but he's trying.) "That's over too," he says, running his hand a little higher up on her thigh.
She flinches a bit, but she doesn't pull away so he keeps his hand right where it is. "I'm sorry," she says lowly, fiddling with her fingers nervously. "I hope you know that."
He nods, grabs the hairbrush in his hands again, and tells her to turn her body back around. "You never finished venting to me," he says with a laugh. "And I haven't even tried goin' for a braid yet. Turn around."
She laughs, playing with a strand of her hair in between her fingers as she turns her body back around to him once more. "Are there any rules that say I can't vent to you about yourself?"
"About... wait... what?" He jerks his head toward her and feels her glance upon him. "Did I do something? I mean, we're just talking, right?"
"Yeah," she sighs, "but sometimes I wish it'd be more. Sometimes."
He takes a breath, then, "Let's start with the braiding and we'll go from there."
"Thanks," is all she says.
"For being my friend."
"Oh... yeah," he says, smiling a little. "C'mon, let's be friends some more. I need practice with this braiding crap if we're gonna keep doing this."
He wants her to turn around; to let him be her friend some more. She needs this, sure, but he's starting to think he may need it just as much. He takes the brush and runs it through her hair a few times as she sits still, flipping through one of the notebooks she grabbed off of her nightstand just before.
"You know," he clears his throat and speaks when it's most silent, "I don't have many friends either."
"Yes you do."
"I don't," he fights back. "Ask me when the last time I just hung out with one of the guys was."
She just shakes her head and takes a breath.
"I don't care though," he tells her when she says nothing. "I'd rather this."
She shakes her head so all of her hair is in back, letting him brush through the rest as he holds a few strands in his fingers. Yeah, she'd rather this too, he knows.
"You ready for prom?" Puck turns to him as soon as he shuts his gym locker, tossing his bag over his shoulders and hitting Finn's locker with his fist to get his attention.
"What? I... I don't think I'm going."
"Are you shittin' me? Dude, you're like the fucking prom king or something," Puck scoffs. "Q's gonna flip a shit."
Finn just sighs, "She won't care. We're done."
"Wait!" Puck runs to catch up to Finn once he starts to grab his things and head for the door to the locker room. "You can still go, bro. Me and some people are gonna pitch in for a limo. All you gotta do is give me like, fifty bucks and -"
"I'll see what Rachel feels like doing," he says without thinking.
Puck lets out a little snicker, "So that thing is back on?"
"Not completely," Finn shakes his head, still pushing to make his way out of the locker room, one hand on the door handle. "But I'm not giving up this time."
"Neither is she," is all Puck answers.
He doesn't even ask how Puck knows; he's not sure he wants to know. The only thing he knows is he'll get her back, he will.
It oddly takes a lot of convincing for her to tag along with him and the rest of the group. "It... it doesn't have to be a date," he's sure to mention when she arches her eyebrow at the sound of the limo and the corsages and everything else. "I mean, if you want it to be a date, then..."
She shakes her head and clutches her notebook to her chest. "You can pick me up at seven. Don't be late because unlike Kurt, I'm not into that whole 'fashionably late' business. And I don't want a corsage from you; only boyfriends and girlfriends get corsages for each other and we're not boyfriend and girlfriend."
He sighs, then reminds himself to find that corsage he bought a few days back and give it to like, Kurt or something. "But it'd match your dress."
"You bought me a corsage?"
"I figured I'd be nice," he says, leaning up against his locker as he lets out a small smile from the corner of his mouth.
"You're always nice to me," she breathes. "Most of the time."
"I'm really not," he starts, a pang of guilt hitting him as he catches her hopeful grin. "Rach," he leans forward, grabbing her hand with his now, "I'm kind of an idiot."
"No," he says, "let me finish. Rachel, I was a jackass who let someone who doesn't give a damn about me play me like a fool. And because of that, I treated the only person who actually did give a damn about me like crap."
"Like you said," she says, "that's all over now."
He's just in shock because, well, how the hell can she forgive him after the load of bullshit he threw on her once he started fooling around with Quinn again? It was like a big 'fuck you' in the face, maybe worse. But he doesn't question it; he's just kind of relieved and surprised and a million other things, too.
He doesn't want it to be a big deal and she doesn't want it to be a big deal, but he promised his mom he'd let Kurt come along with them too and Kurt being Kurt insists on taking picture after picture after picture.
"Finn, angle your body a little to the left. Good." Kurt's fiddling with the lens cap on his camera when he points for Finn and Rachel to stand under the tree in their front yard. "Rachel, grab his tie with your hand. Don't tug, just give a little grab. It'll add a sexier appeal to the picture."
Finn can feel himself grow red but all Rachel does is let out a snicker, then, "How about I give your tie a little grab instead? We've been out here for twenty minutes and you've taken about one picture you actually ended up liking."
"For one, it's a bow tie," he says, grabbing the blue bow tie around his neck and giving it a pull. "Second, the lighting goes horribly with your hair. You both being brunette doesn't help the situation any."
Finn rolls his eyes but grabs Rachel by the shoulders and positions her the way Kurt's signaling for them to stand; him facing inward and Rachel leaned up against him.
"I'm not grabbing your tie," she turns around and whispers to him with a giggle.
"That's alright," he whispers back. "You look pretty."
Blushing, she bites her bottom lip and turns back around to face the camera. (Kurt's orders.)
"You know what?" Kurt says, still fiddling with the lens cap. "At this rate I've got a better chance getting better quality pictures on my iPhone. I'll be back." With that he holds up his index finger and struts inside of the house.
Rachel, laughing, turns around to Finn once more, running her hands through her waves of hair. "Thank you," she says. "For before, I mean. You said I looked pretty."
"You do," he huffs, sticking his hands deep down in the pockets of his suit. "Really pretty."
She blushes once more, "I actually needed to hear that." She doesn't turn back around this time, no. She turns toward him, stands up on her toes and touches her lips to his. He thinks she'll just give him a peck but she lifts her hand to his cheek and starts to stroke it, pressing her lips back onto his. "Thank you."
"Oh... yeah... no problem," he says once they finally break apart, tugging at his bottom lip with his teeth as she turns away. "Rachel?"
"What was that for?"
She laughs, "I think it was long overdue."
"Totally," he agrees, holding out his hand for her to grab as he looks onto Kurt, who's strutting out of the house, no camera in sight. "What happened to the whole picture thing?" Finn shouts.
"I give up," Kurt whines, walking toward the two of them now, fidgeting with every strand of his hair. "But I see you didn't." This time he's looking toward their intertwined hands with a small smirk. "I was hoping tonight of all nights you wouldn't."
He feels Rachel press her nose to his shoulder with a small giggle and can't help but look down at her. "Hey," he whispers once Kurt's running back inside to call Puck about the limo. "Look at me," he says, tipping her chin with his hands once she turns her head his way. "No matter what happens tonight, you're my prom date, alright? Not Quinn or any of those other girls."
"Why are you even telling me this?" She asks, narrowing her eyes. "We agreed we'd go together weeks ago."
Because he's betting that somehow, Quinn Fabray'll strike again and she'll be prom queen and he'll be prom king. Does he want it to happen that way? No. Does he doubt it won't? It is Quinn Fabray, after all. He gulps, "I bet you look hotter than like, everyone there."
She just rolls her eyes and ducks her head. "Well isn't that the biggest lie ever. Are you seriously gonna stand here and tell me Quinn and Santana and the rest of them won't look better than I do? That's where you're wrong, Finn. Obviously you must think they're attractive. I mean, you did hookup with both of them, so..."
He doesn't say anything because the limo pulls up and Kurt's scattering out of the house and grabbing the both of them by the arms. "We're the first stop!" He shouts. "Everyone else is after so we have to hurry up. C'mon!"
As they walk inside of the limo, Finn holds the small of her back, making sure she doesn't trip over her dress or her heels or anything else. Once they sit down, he feels the warmth of her presence sloe behind him, the soft rumble of her breath by his ear. "Was I wrong?"
"No," he knows she still won't let go of before so whatever, he'd rather answer it now than later. "But it's not like that anymore."
She leans her head closer into his, her breath still heavy as she closes her eyelids tightly. "You wouldn't lie to me, right?"
Placing his hand in her lap, he shakes his head. "I love you."
"So that's a 'no'?" She could've said it back, but whatever. She's not yelling at him and even though that may have to do with the fact that Brittany, Santana, Puck and Lauren all pile into the limo and can hear every single word they're saying, it's relieving.
"It's a 'no'," he says, taking his hand and placing it over hers. He rubs his fingers over her knuckles for a few seconds and she leans her head even closer to his. "I wasn't lying when I said I love you either, by the way."
"I know," she leans into his ear, whispering softly. Puck and Lauren sit down in the row beside them, scooting closer to Finn and Rachel as they make room for Brittany and Santana, who're pushing past Kurt to get to their seats. She knows they're all there, sure, but he thinks she forgets for a moment because she just leans forward and presses her lips to his cheek.
Puck sees, he knows, because he throws a little thumbs-up to Finn and nudges Lauren on the elbow. "Told you," he snickers, Lauren flicking him on the forehead.
Finn just shakes his head and starts to laugh, the feel of Rachel's hand in his familiar now as she squeezes it tightly.
"It's our night tonight, alright?" She whispers.
He nods and looks down to their intertwined fingers. It's familiar, sure, but more than that, it feels right; so right.
It's their night. It sounds like a promise. Really, he's more than alright with that.
She's tugging on his arm not twenty minutes into the the dance. "I'm all for your idea on skipping out," she confesses. "If you're still up for it..."
He turns to her and just nods. "Give me two minutes and we'll get out of here."
His house isn't far; ten minutes away if they walk fast. Before anyone can notice they're gone, they're gone. Rachel trails behind him, her feet dragging along the street as she holds her dress up on her body.
"Don't walk so fast," she teases. "I can't catch up to you."
He slows down and waits until she's close to him before he scoops her up in his arms and playfully throws her over his shoulder. "We're two minutes away," he tells her. "It wouldn't have killed you."
"I think I like this better," she says with a laugh, nestling her head far into the cove of his neck.
He likes it better too; a lot better.
So they skipped out on prom. Is it the end of the world? Probably not. He thinks of Quinn for just a minute while they're in his bedroom, Rachel slipping off her dress and rummaging through his top drawer to find one of his oversized sleep shirts. He thinks of the way Quinn would've made him stay all the way through the crowning and probably after, too. But then he reminds himself he doesn't have to think of Quinn at all because it's prom night and he's at home in his bedroom with Rachel Berry, sprawled across his bed as she takes off that dress and slips into one of his sleep shirts. It makes him feel special for a minute when she turns around and she's got one of his gray t-shirts on. Sure, it looks like a dress on her and the sleeves come down to almost her wrists but it's his and she's wearing it so he can't help but smile just a little bit.
"Hey," he says like he hasn't been with her all night. She sits down at the foot of his bed, almost brushing up against his foot, when she leans her body back, resting her head just by his knee. "You alright?"
"Tired," she mumbles. "I thought it'd be fun skipping out on prom but I'm tired. So tired."
"You can lay down," he tells her. "It's cool. I could just play video games or something and wait until you wake up. I mean, if you wanted to sleepover you could. My mom and Burt are away for the weekend; you know that."
She boosts her body up now and drops her jaw a bit. "A sleepover?" She says it like he's just kicked her out of his house and told her to go hitch a ride home, not like he just offered to let her spend the night because, well, he's totally in love with her or whatever.
"Yeah," he says, smiling a little. "You told me you never had sleepovers before because no one would ever invite you. Well, I'm inviting you."
She ducks her head and lets out a small laugh.
"C'mon, Rach," he begs. "It doesn't have to be boring."
"I'm not bored."
"You look bored."
"Fine," she huffs, "I'm a little bit bored."
She does that thing where she presses her lips together and pouts. It's so cute he doesn't even fight off the urge he's got to lean forward and kiss her, so he does. He doesn't plan it and she doesn't expect it, but it happens just like that.
She kisses him back even harder than he kissed her. She scoots over so her body is practically on top of his now, her hands running up and down his chest as she loops her lips through his. "Mm," she breathes. "Finn?"
Pulling up from her lips, he presses his own together. "Yeah?"
"Why are we doing this?"
He doesn't know why they're doing it because, well, he doesn't know he has to know why. He's not doing anything that'll hurt anyone else, really, so why should it matter?
"We're not boyfriend and girlfriend anymore," she says it like she really, really doesn't want to have to say it, but she still says it. "Maybe this was a bad idea."
Lifting his head up a bit, he looks to her as she sits still on top of his body, her legs straddling him as she holds near his hips with her hands. "I'm not so sure you think that," he says, laughing. "You don't seem to be having a problem with it."
She looks down at her hands and pulls them up, folding her arms below her chest.
"I love you, Rach," he says. "Doesn't that count for something anymore or am I totally missing the bigger picture here because I could've sworn you loved me back too. You're telling me all of this was for nothing?"
She just shakes her head, pursing her lips. "It's not for nothing. I'm just... I'm afraid of you hurting me again, that's all."
"I love you," he answers, taking his hands and running them over her wrists a few times. "I think I made that pretty clear."
"I thought you loved me last time too," she says softly. "But it turned out you loved Quinn and then I doubted you and I ever being together again. Sometimes I still doubt it."
"Don't," he finds her glance and just begs for her to hear him out. She's stubborn, he knows, but he makes it his own personal goal to get through to her even if it takes until morning. "Rachel?"
He can hear the sound of her tears even though she boosts herself off of his body and onto the floor, ducking her head as she makes way to the armchair in the corner of his bedroom, sitting down.
"Was that song for me? Y'know, the song about never being good enough and trying to get it right and screwing everything up over and over again?" He has to ask even though he knows it's about him; about them. "That one."
She lets out a sniffle and then a breath, then, "You listened to all of the lyrics, right?"
He nods and she lifts her body out of the chair and walks closer to the bed.
"Then you should know."
Yeah, he knows, but he just felt like hearing her say it.
She goes to sit down at the foot of the bed, sighing. She lays on her side and shuts her eyelids tightly, curling her legs up into a little ball as she squeezes her body in the space between his legs and the end of the bed.
"You know how you said you doubt me loving you and stuff?" He speaks when it's the most silent so she opens her eyes, boosts her head up from the comforter she's leaning on and just looks at him, almost emotionless. "Look, I know I probably wasn't the best boyfriend, and I can't promise you I'll ever be as good of a boyfriend as like, all of those really, really good boyfriends out there who like, carry their girlfriends' shopping bags and make them tea, but I like being your boyfriend. I mean, saying, 'Hey, I'm Quinn Fabray's boyfriend' doesn't sound half as good as saying 'I'm Rachel Berry's boyfriend'.
She giggles for a moment, presses her lips together and then leans forward so she can hug him. She stays in his arms for a minute, letting him weave his fingers through the mess of waves in her hair.
"What was that for?"
She moves her body so she's in his lap now, her butt brushing up against his thigh. "I love you," she leans in once more, giving him a short peck on the lips before pulling away.
"I love you too," he says. "Really, I do. Stay there, alright? I just... I've been meaning to give you something forever and I remembered about it tonight. Just... stay."
"I'm not going anywhere," she laughs, kicking her legs up as she leans into the two pillows he's got on his bed.
Fumbling with a sheet of paper in his hands, he hands it to her awkwardly, then grabs the back of his neck and tilts his head as he watches her open it carefully, the staple popping off of the page. "You can just... just get that later."
She laughs, then cries, then cups her hand over her mouth, then cries some more, all while he stands at the foot of his bed like an awkward mess because, well, he's never been a writer. "Reason twenty-two," she reads. "The way you've already got me thinking about ways to ask you to the senior prom without screwing it all up." She drops her jaw and just laughs endlessly, something he really can't complain about.
"We're not skipping out on that next year," he tells her. "I hear they've got better food."
She giggles once more, "Of course not." Still gripping the paper in her hands, she skims it some more. "Reason forty-six," she starts. "The way my t-shirts look like dresses on you." She looks down to her own body and starts to laugh even more. It's almost contagious, he thinks, because soon he's sitting down on the bed beside her, his hands fiddling with the ends of the material that stops just below her knees.
He feels proud. He's proud of that list and he's proud of himself because if anyone would've asked him to make a list like this one last year, he probably would've just laughed at them and asked them if there was any way he could've done something like this through a video gaming system instead. But it's not last year; it's now. And now he's got a whole lot of better things, Rachel being one of the best.
"I'll read them all tomorrow," she says with a yawn, bringing her arms up to her chest as she lets out a little shiver, leaning back onto a pillow. "Promise."
"Of course," he says. "It'd be a waste reading 'em all in one day anyway."
She nods in agreement, folds the list back into two halves and rests it on the night table. "Should I sleep here or...?"
"You should," he says. "I could take the armchair."
"No," she says, running her hand over his chest once as she scoots her body closer into his, pulling up the cover so it's over the both of them. "Stay here. Please?"
It's not like they'll actually do anything; they'll just be sleeping because they're super tired and it's already almost midnight. He tries not to flinch when she sighs and drapes her arm over his body. He doesn't mind it, but he's just not used to it. It's been so long.
(But taking things slow wouldn't hurt this time around, he knows.)
Kurt tiptoes into his room at eight thirty in the morning, two glasses of orange juice in his hands. "Hey," he says with a whisper, bending down over Finn, placing the glasses of juice on the nightstand beside the bed. "Prom was magical."
"Was... was it?" Finn rolls over, eyelids heavy as he lifts his arm up and grabs the juice. His other arm is under Rachel and he doesn't feel like moving it because he can't remember a time where Rachel's ever gotten to sleep past like, six in the morning. (That and he just likes the placement of it.)
"Say hello to your prom king," Kurt does a little bow and Finn lets out a laugh, then a stutter.
"Wait... then... then who was the prom queen?"
"Mercedes of course," Kurt says with a snicker. "Oh... oh! You're only asking because of Quinn, aren't you? Well, since you wanted to know, Quinn stormed out before the whole thing was even over."
"What didn't happen would be easier to tell you, to be honest," Kurt says. "Aside from the fact I actually spilled a bit of punch on her dress, more than just that set her off."
"You spilled punch on her?"
"Accidents happen," Kurt says with a shrug. "Speaking of accidents, looks like someone accidentally snuck out of the dance last night."
Finn just shushes him and rolls his eyes.
"How'd that go for you?" Kurt says, adding a wink, as he nudges Finn in the arm. "I heard you two talking once I got in at around two thirty. Were you awake all night?"
"We fell asleep way earlier," he says. "Rachel just woke me up at two thirty because she was hungry."
"And you ate?" Kurt says, lifting one eyebrow.
Finn laughs, "Well, yeah. I mean, she's always said how much she wanted to have a sleepover and well, I'm not really the kind of friend she wants but, we made do." He looks over to Rachel once more, her head nestled far into the pillow beside him, her eyes shut tightly. "I even sort of learned to braid hair."
Kurt just cocks his brow and lets out a laugh, "Was it really worth skipping out on prom?"
Was it? He thinks so because, well, for once he wasn't expected to act a certain way or dress a certain way or forced to be somewhere he really didn't want to be, so yeah, it was so worth it. He feels the squeeze of Rachel's hand on his arm and nods to Kurt, "Totally."
Quinn's throwing a party the night before Nationals and he hears about it from Rachel of all people.
"It's true," she says, sprawled out across his bed as he opens his drawers, shoving a pile of his t-shirts into them. "I mean, I didn't expect you to say you'd go or anything, but..."
He just turns to her and raises an eyebrow because, yeah, of course he won't go; it's Quinn.
"We can't skip out on everything, you know," she blurts out quickly once he turns to face his drawers again. "I think it could be fun."
It sounds nice when she says 'we' instead of just him or her; really nice. But then he thinks about Quinn and how he'd rather not go back over to her house since, well, the last time he was there he pretty much called her Rachel. He's got like, two seconds to think of a good excuse because Rachel's doing that thing where she flutters her lashes and folds her hands in her lap like she's waiting or something. "You're not even friends with Quinn," he says.
"Yeah, but I figured now wouldn't be such a bad time to start making friends with her," she says, pressing her lips together.
"Are you serious?"
She nods, "Of course. I'd rather start now before she starts to resent me for being with you again. That is, if we're together..."
"Oh... yeah... we... we're together," he stutters, turning around back to her, walking over to the edge of his bed.
"You don't seem so sure of it," she says with a little giggle, lifting her hand up and fiddling with the zipper on his sweatshirt. "I'm sure of it, but I'm not so sure you're sure of it."
He breathes, then looks down to her, her fingers still tugging at his zipper. "I told you," he says, "I was an asshole. I don't think I want anything more than to just be with you and like, forget all of that stupid stuff."
"So you want nothing more?"
She knows full well, but he thinks she likes to see him either struggle with words or try so hard until he looks like a babbling idiot. Maybe both. Leaning his head down to hers, he kisses the top of her nose. "Nothing."
They lose Nationals and it's a drag because they're all the way in New York City and they were supposed to win. Sure, maybe they're no Vocal Adrenaline or whatever, but he had a feeling they'd win when he was on that stage; it was all there right in front of him.
"It's not our year," she says, a pause in her breath as the entire glee club gathers in the elevator up to their rooms. If Rachel Berry is hardly disappointed, maybe it really isn't their year.
"Why would you say that?" He says, stroking her forearm with his hand as they all squeeze next to one another, crowding in the back of the elevator.
"It just doesn't feel like our year," she says with a shrug, looking onto a disappointed Mr. Schuester as he stands at the back of the elevator, hands deep in his pockets as he lets out a huff. "But it does feel like our year," she's turned to him now, her eyes a little hopeful. So somehow, it all leads back to them.
"Oh?" It comes out as more of a question but he places his hand to the small of her back and guides her out of the elevator after the rest of his teammates step out. Turning to her once more, he takes a breath, "Let's skip out on dinner."
"Rach, please," he takes her hands in his, dangling them as she looks to him, annoyed. "I promise we'll never ever skip out on anything again, promise." (It still feels good to say 'we'll'. Really good.)
She looks hesitant but she grabs his hand anyway and almost turns the corner down the hall before she leans over her shoulder and shouts. "We'll be there in a few!" Mr. Schuester only nods and gives them a thumbs-up. Puck gives them a thumbs-up too, but he's cocking his eyebrow and then loses himself from the crowd of his teammates to trail behind them.
"Hey," he says, almost panting, "don't be too loud. Hotels don't make soundproof walls anymore, y'know."
Finn hits him on the arm and Rachel just lets out a snicker, then, "We'll try."
"Are you disappointed?" He just has to ask because she's lying on her side, closing her eyelids tightly as she lets out an elongated breath.
"What? No," she shakes her head, taking her hand up to his hair and running her fingers through it.
She just lets out a sleepy yawn and then a nod.
"I mean, it was only your first time so it's expected you'd be nervous, but..."
She shoots her head up now, followed by an outburst of giggles. "I don't think we're talking about the same thing here."
"No," she laughs, taking her hand and placing it down on his chest, nestling her head further up by his. "But if you'd like to talk about that, we could..."
"Oh," he says, a little red in the face. "I meant it when I said I wasn't disappointed. It was kind of special."
"Yeah," she agrees, "it was."
Yeah, so he just had sex with Rachel Berry for the first time in a hotel room in New York City and well, he sure as hell didn't plan it and he sure as hell didn't expect anything like that to ever happen. But it happened and it's nothing he can take back, even if he's pretty sure he'd never take anything like that back. He knows it's for real this time; he knows it's serious. She never would've done anything like that with him if it wasn't.
"Hey Rachel?" He says just when her eyes flutter shut and she turns to her side once more, nestling her head into one of the pillows closer to him.
He knows this isn't the time for a speech, really, because she's worn out and he's getting there too, but really, he's just got to say this before he'll ever let anyone else say it to her. "Thank you," he says, taking his hand and running it over her forehead, moving a piece of her bang out from her eye. "Just... thank you."
He's thanking her for making him open his eyes and realize; realize that Quinn was never and probably won't ever be the right one; realize that as much of an asshole he chooses to be, he's always got just one person who has a little faith in him.
"I love you." It's three words, sure, but he's not sure he's ever heard them so perfectly before. Maybe because he was waiting until it was just right to really, really hear them. He's pretty sure now is just right, even after the mess he knows he's created and is still trying to fix. Hearing her say those words though? It carries him one step closer, he knows.