Notes and Disclaimers: Spoilers/ set after 2X22 New York. Thanks to egyouppt (Kenz) for the beta and hand-holding. Thanks to everyone for encouragement when given snippets. I don't own Glee or anything else mentioned. See bottom of the story for proper credit on items mentioned by name herein. Please enjoy! And please let me know what you think. Thank you!
She finally finds him in the library. She thinks it's a weird hiding place for him because… well, come on. It's Finn. He doesn't even go to the library to study; he uses the Internet and then usually gets distracted before whatever he's researching is finished.
But the place is incidental because it's where they get back together. And she knows, even though there's an expiration date and she's totally focused on that date in some ways, it's a really big deal. And when it happens, when they share a kiss on the floor of the library, they're totally in the self-help section. After they helped themselves. To each other. In a rather inappropriate place. Again. But at least this time they didn't have an audience and well…kissing on stage is obviously not something she's against.
Even Finn seems to note the irony. Before they leave, he hands her the snow globe he was holding and grabs a random book from the restocking area at the end of the shelf they were sitting by.
"What's that?" She asks curiously.
"Hmm? I don't know what you're talking about," he says simply.
She smiles and raises an eyebrow. "You're just … you're just stealing things now?"
"Well, it's worked for me twice before," he says pointedly, looking at her. Their hands are linked and she flipped them so his arm is around her, but now he drops her hand to give her shoulder a little squeeze.
"You cannot steal a library book."
They're just passing the librarian's desk when she says it and his voice is a low hiss as he pushes the door open for them, sending a glance to the librarian who is otherwise focused on the computer anyway. "Will you shut up? I'm going to for something romantic here and you're totally killing it."
"I don't need romantic," she scoffs. "Romance is nice but pragmatism is more…practical." She decides to change the subject before he can spew off anything else that turns her to absolute mush and looks at the book in his hand. "The Art of Loving Yourself?"
They're strolling down the hallway and it's kind of nice not to be in such a hurry all the time. She knows when she gets to New York she's going to be moving constantly, like the city itself. It's just one reason she's so excited to actually get there. Nationals helped that reach a fever pitch. She doesn't have the heart to tell him she submitted several applications to drama programs there over the summer, with her fathers' full support. One is even some sort of a Broadway camp. That's the one she wants the worst; it's only three weeks though, so it's not the end of the world right?
"Well, I guess that won't be so important if I'm not single."
She looks up at him with a surprised smile and the laughter bubbles over. (Because she's pretty sure that's not what the book is talking about.) She can't help it. He's so adorably clueless sometimes. And it's usually right on the heels of him being intelligent and heartfelt. She loves the dichotomy. She loves the randomness.
Hell, she just loves the boy. Is that so bad?
It seems impossible that it's raining but it's also one of those metaphors she loves so fondly. Of course it's raining when they have their first major fight. He finds out about the Broadway drama camp thing and he's so mad. He's so mad she didn't just tell him. She knows it's not real mad because he doesn't say how disappointed in her it makes him or how it makes him hurt.
She knows it's more sad than mad. She knows he's sad she'll be gone. Between her drama thing and his football thing, they won't be home together much after the fourth of July. And since they've been kind of isolated, spending lots of time making up for lost time, he thinks he'll be alone for most of the summer before his senior year once she's gone. And Finn doesn't particularly like having time to himself. He doesn't like being alone. He's way too social for that. Not to mention, as he said before he left, he thinks it's just a sign she has one foot out the door already.
But she kind of told him that, didn't she? She's been nothing but honest about that. So maybe following his comment about it up with her agreement that she does wasn't the best or most sensitive idea. She's never been accused of being particularly sensitive to other people's needs. Usually not until she's screwed something up.
Which is why she's wandering around out in the rain looking for him; she's been on a roll of being so good with balancing other people's feelings and her own and she can't just stop doing that now. Especially not when it's his feelings. His feelings… just him. He's too important to her. And this kind of stuff is exactly what she feared—and still does. She knows she's walking a fine line between his feelings and her goals and it's not easy. She knew it wouldn't be. She knows he's worth it, but she just needs to find him.
By the time she strolls to a stop outside of the Lima Public Library, she's totally soaked. She absently hopes Puck doesn't drive by and mention a wet t-shirt contest because she is just not in the mood and it seems like something that would happen to her.
Kurt's truck is in the parking lot behind the building and she thinks maybe she can have him call Finn for her. Kurt might even know where he is and just be able to point her in the right direction. But, truth be told, she has a suspicion he might be here somewhere. And she might even know where to look.
Sure enough, he's crouched down in the self-help section. She pulls up a piece of rug (industrialized carpeting that is entirely inadequate for any sort of long-term sitting, but it will work for the moment) right next to him. His wrists are propped on his bent knees, his hands dangling uselessly in the air and he looks over at her without breaking his posture at all.
She tries to decide how to start, because she knows in this instance she needs to say something. She leans against him and ducks her head. "I know you aren't angry because if you were angry you would be at the rec center with a punching bag."
"I'm not mad," he confirms. "Maybe embarrassed."
Her head comes up and there's a curious tilt to it. "What do you have to be embarrassed about?"
"I just…I'm an idiot. I guess I thought I had a year to convince you but…but this is just more of the same crap. I didn't think about you getting ready to leave. That's what this time really is for you, right?"
"It's what my whole life has been," she confirms.
"I'm an idiot because I wanted it to be me," he says, the words almost a whisper. "The way you are mine."
She lets out a long breath before she reaches out and takes his hand. "You are not an idiot. But you do know everything about me. And none of it has really changed and…and I just need you to not freak out when I take steps toward my dream. You kind of signed on to figure it all out with me. You can't just bail."
He pulls his arm up to wrap it around her, their hands still linked at her shoulder. "Yeah…I know. And it's just going to get worse from here on out. I'm proud you got into that thing. I'm just really going to miss you."
"Yeah," she agrees. "I'll miss you too."
He gives her a kiss and tells her she looks like she entered a wet t-shirt contest. She suggests he not spend as much time with Puck at football camp as normal. And somehow, as they locate Kurt (who just happened to be there finding a good SAT prep guide, which ends up being the book Finn swipes as a 'keepsake' this time anyway), she knows even if it gets worse, it's going to get a lot better too. And she can't stop smiling because these next few weeks before she goes are going to be the best ever.
She doesn't really like being a mess, but today she feels like a mess. She knows it's probably way too serious to be counting on Finn to show up and at least distract her dads with football long enough for her to bake the four pies she committed to; she knows it's probably way too serious that she and her fathers are attending Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with the Hudson/Hummel family. She doesn't care about that as much as the fact that Finn is supposed to be at her house right now and she hasn't been able to get a hold of him at all. He's usually pretty reliable, so this is concerning and she's just a mess about it. That's all.
She's kind of glad the library is on the way out of her neighborhood. She had a feeling as to where he might be, so she was already slowing down as she passed and sure enough, there's his truck in the parking lot. In addition to being nostalgic, though, it's also handy she didn't have to go far.
She's rather surprised though that he's sitting in the truck instead of in the building. She gets out of her car and has to use the spare key he gave her to climb into his truck. She does so without preamble, though. He's sitting there looking at an envelope with a long, grim look on his face and he doesn't look at her as she gets in, but once she closes the door he starts talking.
"Sorry, I know I'm supposed to be at your house to help you but I needed some self-help first. The stupid library closed at three." He gestures to the door. "Mrs. Kaddas was sort of nice when she kicked me out I guess."
Rachel smiles; she remembers Quinn talking about how when you're young and beautiful you think everyone is nice to you. Finn is both those things and he still manages to just put a spin on it. He looks for the bright spot. That's why it's wrong to see him look so uncertain. It's been a long time since he looked so uncertain.
"Well that's good," she allows. "What's the envelope?"
Sure, she already knows. Her dad insisted she get a paper copy of her own SAT scores for the Rachel Berry Museum (she then delved into a twenty minute conversation on how they needed to stop calling their office area by that name), and that's the shape and thickness of the envelope she got last spring.
"You know what the envelope is," he gasps out. He finally looks over at her, but the look is no more than a glance and he extends his arm to hold the package out to her.
She accepts it with shaking hands and is a little surprised to see it's already open. He needed help after he saw his scores? He usually only went to the library when he was sad or disappointed or hiding…so was he afraid she would be one of those things once she saw his scores?
She takes a deep breath and pulls the paper out, her eyes skimming expertly over the composite scores and ignoring the more details breakdown information on each section. Critical reading, 750; Mathematics, 650; Writing, 500. After a quick tabulation, she adds his score up as 1900. That's very good. Maybe not Ivy League (and she hasn't told him her own score from last spring—she now knows she won't tell him), but solid. He can go to a wide variety of colleges with that score.
"These are great," she says. She raises her eyes from the page to look at him.
"No, I know." He agrees. She offers the page and he accepts it, and then takes his time tucking it back into the envelope. "I just… I…" he swallows and she frowns.
"So why are you sad?
"I'm not sad," he says. He turns in the driver's seat to look at her. "I'm just…I was kind of afraid of what you would say when I told you what I'm thinking."
She doesn't answer with words, but her scowl is answer enough.
"I'm applying to schools in New York," he says flatly. "And if these scores are right about me, I'll probably get in. My grades are good, I have tons of extracurriculars…"
Her heart is full. She's not sure why he thought she would or could react badly to this. Really, the only reaction she has isn't a reaction. She just…she just wants to kiss him and not stop kissing him until they're in New York together. So she at least gets a start on that and presses herself against him right there in the truck, kneeling on the seat to compensate for the length of his torso.
It might be too serious to think about moving away together. But she doesn't really care. She just wishes the library were still open because this feels like a moment for the floor in the self-help section.
She came straight here after school and she's reasonably certain the librarian will kick her out soon. She had to go home and get the envelope when her dad said it was there. Even that was after Glee club once Finn had given her the guilt trip when she claimed dentist appointment. You're the leader. If you start skipping, it's going to start stuff. Then you're just going to have to drag everyone in there and regionals are, like, next week.
So fine, she goes to Glee then she goes home and get it and then she feels like she might have asthma or some other major breathing issue that could prove detrimental. Not impossible; she's been helping Sam conquer SAT preparation in spite of dyslexia, so she thinks even a major breathing disorder would not stop her from achieving anything. But would they want her if she can't breathe? Does it affect her singing? She's never felt this paralyzed before.
She stares at the envelope with the black-printed logo up in the corner. She can't do this and breathe at the same time so maybe she'll just sit and stare for a bit longer because breathing is important.
She feels him before she sees him, and she watches every familiar movement as he drops down beside her, tucked away in the middle of the rear part of the library after hours when no one is there. She knows he's not stupid. He can see the envelope and he knows what it means to her and he knows her well enough that he knows how scared she is and how she feels like she's holding her entire future in her hands.
He puts his arm over her shoulders and she leans over to rest her head on his chest. They sit like that until she's lost track of time.
"Rach?" He says slowly. She feels his lips in her hair and she smiles. He makes her feel so safe she almost forgot what was sitting in her lap.
"Will you open it for me?" She asks, the words sliding out of her mouth when the lights above them all fade suddenly.
She pulls her head up off his chest and looks at him, but he's just as confused as she is. It's still daylight outside and there are a few windows around the outer wall so that dim, greyish light is filtering in. They aren't entirely in the dark. But it's clear the last of the library staff has just left for the night. If the lights going off didn't make it obvious, the sound of the metal door locking closed would.
He laughs as he looks at her. "Is this for real? Like—did they just leave us here?"
As nervous as she feels, she can't help smiling. "I think so. Mrs. Scott walked by a while before you got here and told me she was closing up."
He leans forward and gives her a soft kiss. "See… so you have no reason not to open that envelope. It's just me and you."
She issues a shaky sigh. "I just…I know I spoke of a singular ambition last year when…well, when I kept pushing you away. But now…now I just kind of want it all and this is the first step."
He nods. "Yes it is. So take it, would you? And I can't open it. That's against the law. I had to remind my mom of that because I got my letter from NYU this afternoon."
"You did?" She asks, pulling away excitedly. "What did it say? When do you have to accept by?"
"Why are you so certain I got in and so nervous about this?"
It isn't so much the words as it is the look in his eyes that prompts her to stick her finger under the flap of the envelope and rip it open even though her eyes are squeezed tightly shut the whole time. She takes a deep breath and, cradled there safely against him, she reads her acceptance letter with him leaning forward to look over the edge of the page and read it upside down.
She always thought she would jump up and down. She always thought she would celebrate in some loud, outrageous way. Instead…she leans into him and kisses him.
He pulls back just enough to mumble. "Just you and me and our super-secret makeout spot in the stacks?"
"We can do more than make out," she breathes.
"I like the way you think," he says. He takes the precious page from her hands and sets it up on the shelf above his head, keeping it safe so she can keep it, before he leans forward enough to lay her down and lay against her.
She smiles and moves her hand down to the button on his jeans. This is a much, much better way to celebrate anyway.
Saying he looks nervous is the understatement of the century. She knows what today is. It's the day before they officially graduate, which makes it the last day of high school. And sure, it isn't all coming together quite like they planned because Rachel is committed to a workshop thing in the middle of July and Finn is committed to help at football camp here in Ohio before he goes to New York. She has to live in the dorms anyway, it's a contract requirement. At first they were disappointed, but some basic money math has revealed that they couldn't afford another way to live during this year anyway and… and she's really okay with that because at least there's a library in between them.
So in some ways, it's their last normal day. Sure, the month of June stretches out before them like a perfect and unscheduled block, but this is the last time they'll be able to be here. She suspects that's why he's here.
What she doesn't expect is the little black box in his hand.
She sits down with her legs crossed and he looks over at her anxiously.
"What's going on?"
"Well," he starts off. His eyes glance up and around him. "This is the last time we'll be able to sit in our spot."
"There's always the public library. And we already picked out a spot in the library at your school," she says easily. "Aren't you excited?"
"I'm so excited," he says. "I'm just…I'm just a bunch of other stuff too." She nods so he continues. "I'm in love with you. I'm still the same guy who would give up anything to kiss you one more time."
She feels something sink like a rock into her stomach. This isn't… he's not… what? She knows her look is confused and wary at best. He smiles quickly and it doesn't really help how she feels.
"I guess…I guess what I'm saying is I wanted to come back to our roots to give you this." He tosses the box sideways toward her with a gentle throw. She catches it. "I asked you, in this spot, on this day last year… what your plans were for the year before graduation."
"I remember," she asks. She's a little afraid to open the box, but she's holding off anyway more out of courtesy. She knows he isn't finished talking yet.
"Well… the year you agreed to give me is up. So I'm wondering what you're doing for the rest of your life."
"Just open it," he says gently. "I know we're not ready to get married and we have a lot ahead of us. This is just…it's just…I just want to give this to you and I want you to know. Like see it every day when you're at school and you want to curl up in the corner of the library or something and…I'm just here. I'll be there. Just….it's just a reminder. And a little bit of a promise. With a lot more of that to come."
Her eyes are a little teary. He's sitting so close to her and he smells so good and…he's just so warm and so there and this last year has been wonderful and she's honestly starting to believe they can work through anything. Because he's her favorite person and she gets to take him with her. And he doesn't feel like he's just tagging along in her daydream. He's figuring out what he wants and everything he wants is putting him right there with her, every step of the way.
She moves and her eyes swim over to the box she's got in her hands, the box her thumbs are rubbing over softly. She finally pulls it open and when she blinks the tears spill over. The ring is small and simple, a thin gold band that weaves into a Star of David with just a chip of a diamond in the middle.
"Your dad helped me," he says. "But if you don't like it…"
"I love it," she agrees. She pulls it out of the box carefully and holds it up to her face to look at it more closely. "Almost as much as I love you."
"Well, that's good. I don't want it to upstage me or anything," he comments lightly as he takes the ring from her with a gentle pull. He takes her right hand and puts it on the third finger, then he folds her fingers into his and pulls them to his mouth to kiss her hand. "But I love you, too. And I think I feel okay about leaving our spot behind."
"Too bad we're not alone this time, too."
His laughter is contagious and pretty soon they've ruined all the secrecy of it being their spot for good because they have earned more than one curious check to make sure the loud people in the back of the library are okay—and one not as curious and more stern request that they leave already. So they do. He takes her hand and he can feel the ring rubbing against his palm while they leave and it's not unpleasant at all.
Neither one of them look back once they're out the door. She's pretty sure they never will.
She's totally freezing and he was supposed to be out here like an hour ago to meet them before they went to open mike night where her roommate is playing. Sarah has kind of a standing singing date there and has had for at least the last three months. He's always gone with her and they've even wondered a time or two if they could legally perform the song he wrote for her for their first Nationals competition.
Point being, she's bored and she really could've been rehearsing with Aaron all along because it's finals next week and the scene is a massive part of their grade. Not to mention, she's kind of uncomfortable with the scene because there's a fair amount of groping involved.
So she and Aaron, who loves hearing Sarah sing and is tagging along, decide to start rehearsing. Even if they're on a stupid bench outside the library waiting for Finn to finish his meeting. She has never believed there was a bad or inopportune time for rehearsal and that belief has only increased during her first semester of college. All Julliard has really taught her so far is she knew nothing about busy or overloaded with school work before.
The rehearsal is awkward but they make it through the scene twice before she gives up any pretense of believing Finn is actually on his way out. She tries to call his phone and it goes to voicemail, so she enters the heady atmosphere of the Bobst library. The place may be huge, but it's packed with students feverishly cramming in various stages for their finals. She can relate.
It's maybe the first time she wishes her own finals were on paper instead of being mostly performance related. Bubble sheets would undoubtedly release some of the pressure she's under.
She knows where to find him, though; the library stopped seeming overwhelming to her eventually and they found a spot to call their own. They've upgraded from the self-help section at tiny Lima Public or in the even tinier high school library.
Sure enough, he's curled up in the far corner. His legs are pulled up so tight in front of him that she wonders how in the hell he's possibly comfortable. He kind of looks like he wishes he were somewhere else. She sits down next to him and he tries to scoot over, but the wall doesn't move so he's stuck between her and it.
"We're still waiting outside," she says. "Do you need us to go on ahead without you?"
"Yeah, that sounds like a great idea."
She scowls in an automatically defense response to the low tone of his voice.
"… since obviously you two are happier if I'm not around anyway."
Her scowl deepens and it's more confused than defensive. "What are you talking about?"
"Just… drop it, okay? I saw you."
"Saw me," she repeats slowly. "Saw me doing what, exactly?"
"Like, your lab partner or whatever you guys call them." He waves impatiently in the vague direction of the exit. "And I'm sure he's still out there waiting so go ahead. I don't feel like watching you two grope each other."
"Do you remember me telling you about the scene I have to do in my Dramatic Interpretation class?" She asks quietly, still trying to press closer to him even as his discomfort with that is just obvious. "Me telling you how it was an assigned scene that I didn't feel comfortable with? And that I thought the teacher was doing it just to stretch us and see if we would complain?"
His breathing is the only answer she has.
"Aaron was rehearsing with me. We got bored waiting for you and he was rehearsing with me. And I'm so sorry you felt uncomfortable watching and you saw it from afar, but Finn… we made promises and I've learned a lot and one thing I can say with unequivocal certainty is that I will never cheat on you."
"Again," he says, the word rough from his own throat. He looks over at her, but she's already standing.
She wishes her voice weren't shaking or there weren't already tears in her eyes, but she really can't help it. She never would've believed, after all this time, he would use that against her. They had talked it all out, they had resolved. They had burned for their sins already and she had thought the last two years were enough to protect her from all those feelings – all the shame and the hurt and the loneliness she had caused herself.
"I cannot believe you said that to me."
"I can't believe you did this to me," he fires back without any regard or without even a pause. "Again."
The quiet emphasis in the last word just about kills her and she leaves without another word or another glance in his direction.
It's three days later that he returns to the spot to find her curled up in a ball, tucked so tightly into the corner she might just be part of the shelving. It's not entirely clear how long she's been there, but it doesn't look like a recent development. It's definitely not as recent as the tears crusted and dried to her cheeks, plastering her hair against her flushed skin even as she continues to sniffle in her sleep.
He slides a hand along her back and leans down to breathe a whispery kiss onto her cheek. She wakes gradually but when she turns toward him and swipes the back of her hand over her cheek, there's nothing on her face except anger and maybe a little snot.
"What do you want?" She asks. She's had three days to rehearse all this. She isn't going to back down.
He clears his throat. "I watched you do your final scene thing. Sarah invited me." He sees her eyes flash, but he continues even as her mouth hangs open. "I was wrong and I'm so sorry."
"You were wrong," she says coldly. "You don't ever get to bring that up, okay? I learned that lesson and it was painful. I don't want to hurt like that ever again, and more importantly, I don't want you to."
He nods. "Yeah." He shrugs and holds up a book. "I'm gonna make it up to you and I have the perfect book to teach me."
She looks over the glossy cover of the book as he pulls away and stands up. The book cover is a white background adorned with black stick figures and accented with red hearts that had all been drawn in crayon. Liam Says "Sorry": Repairing an Encounter Gone Sour.
She can't help it. For the first time in hours, she laughs out loud. "We're not in the kids section. I'm pretty sure that's where you got this."
His eyes shift around to make sure no one's looking. "What's your point? It's on my reading level." He tucks the book into his jacket. "Besides, it's small and it fits under my coat. Let's go."
She reluctantly extends a hand toward him and he helps her up.
"Liam really is sorry," he mumbles before he leans down to give her a gentle kiss. "And he'll spend every day of Winter Break trying to make it up to you. Liam wants to start with hot make-up sex back at his place if you'll come with him."
She raises her eyebrows at the dirty entendre. "I hope Liam is good for a two-for-one." She clings to his hand even as he swings his arm out around her shoulder to pull her close and kiss her hair.
"You know by now that he is."
He fails a class the spring of his sophomore year and he has to stay in the city all summer to make it up. She was planning on going home, but once she knows she's staying she finds two jobs and her dads agree to kick in the money she can't cover because she enrolls in a vocal workshop thing that involves tutoring. So they find the world's smallest apartment that's crammed into a not-very-nice building and they make it work.
Except it smells more like feet than the locker room at McKinley did and she can't get the maintenance guy to fix their air conditioner because she doesn't speak Polish.
She hasn't seen him more than in passing for the last three days because she's working, he's working, and he's playing drums for an up and coming 90s cover band late at night. It's total chaos and she misses him even if their address is technically the same.
So when the coffee shop lets her off work early the day no one wants coffee because it's almost 120 degrees out, she doesn't even go back to the sweatbox of an apartment. She grabs a bottle of wine, stuffs it in her oversized purse, and goes to their spot at the library. The nice, air-conditioned library.
He's there and he's in a tanktop and basketball shorts so she wonders if he got involved in some street ball, which would be insanity unless a fire hydrant was broken and spraying a basketball court. He has his head propped on the wall, though, balanced on a balled-up t-shirt and he looks like he's asleep. She hesitates to interrupt because neither of them have been doing enough of that lately.
She rubs his shoulder as she sits down and he immediately wraps his arm around her even if he doesn't immediately open his eyes. She sinks into him; one thing they've been a lot more casual about in terms of contact is grooming. She thinks it's inevitable – not that they don't take care of themselves now, but they don't get out of bed in a rush to brush their teeth before they kiss. She doesn't worry about lounging without makeup on, and he doesn't worry about bathing in Drakkar Noir before a date.
She's secretly glad because she likes the way he smells without that. Part laundry soap, part soap soap, and part something that is only him. He's told her he's secretly glad because he likes kissing her without lip gloss and he likes messing his hands into her hair if she just leaves it loose. They like the dressed-down versions of each other much better and it's never more evident than when she sinks against him on this hot summer day.
Before she can do anything, he's twisted and pressed his lips against her. The apartment is so stifling they don't do this as much as either one of them would like, but it's also because they aren't home.
He backs away from the warm, wet kiss just enough to lick his lips and open his eyes. "Hey, stranger."
"I miss you," she says sweetly. She unzips her purse just enough to pull the very top of the wine bottle out. "I thought we could have a date in our spot."
"Is date a code work for sex? 'Cause I'm totally on board for that."
She looks over her shoulder covertly but she already knows no one is around. This place operates at half-capacity during summer in the first place, and on a stifling Friday afternoon it's a veritable ghost town. She just gives him a smile and goes up on her knees to remove her panties. She'll leave the short cotton skirt on, just for some semblance of privacy, but as soon as he sees what she's doing he's already tugging his shorts off too. She leans down to kiss him and then moves into his exposed lap, straddling him as he brings his knees up to cradle her body close to him.
Their kisses are not as rushed as the rest of their movements and he thrusts into her easily. They are so hot, so separated, and so constantly longing for each other these days that it doesn't take more than a kiss to pull the ripcord and start the fire. He barely has to touch her during their morning shower before she's screaming his name and scratching his skin. She barely has to enter the room before he wants to jump on top of her.
"Be quiet," he whispers into her ear as her teeth sink into his shoulder when his fingers press into her clit. She grinds against him a little more, her ass rubbing against his thighs but hidden by her skirt. They don't have enough room for the long, slow, and deep lovemaking they enjoyed at the start of the summer when the novelty of a bed was fresh and there was actually a breeze coming in through the window.
Instead, they grind instead of thrusting. He can feel every inch of her against every inch of him and it's completely different than they've felt before, but different is not bad.
Her cheek is right by his ear and he hears her breath hitch and then speed up as she clamps down all around him.
"Fuck, baby," he mutters in her ear. The only time he can get away with saying 'fuck' is when he's deep inside of her because she's usually too preoccupied to correct him and this time is no exception. Good thing because he can't help himself as the world inside him explodes and all he can feel is her anyway. "God, I love you."
She stays in his lap like that for a long time. They hear someone thumping around a few rows down and she scrambles off his lap just enough to let him pull his shorts up. He pulls her back against him and she takes out the bottle of wine. They're poor enough it's a screw-top lid and she's glad she looked for one of those specifically.
"So what book are you going to take this time?" She quips, taking a long pull of the chilled wine from the bottle before she hands it over to him.
He smiles and cups the bottle in one hand because the other can't be bothered to stop touching her. "I dunno. Where's the section on sex?"
She just laughs and shakes her head because maybe they ought to change their spot; it seems like sex always becomes part of their library rendezvous anyway.
She decides during her sophomore year that she wants to apply for the accelerated music master's degree at Julliard. Her dads are ecstatic and it turns out they've been saving money at a voracious pace should she decide to do something like that. Either way, she has to wait until the end of her junior year to apply because she can't have any more than two classes left and any less than an A-minus average per the school requirements. Her grades are impeccable but once she makes the decision it throws her entire junior year and the first semester of her senior year into a state of utter chaos and working so hard she starts losing weight. He spends plenty of time in the library, but it's all studying because he thinks he wants to get an MBA. They almost never make it to their spot any more.
But then all the auditions she land fail to result in parts she can play. The coffeeshop she worked at for almost two years closes. She gets stuck into an in-between place she hates and eventually, one night, she doesn't text him to say goodnight. They had moved out of the shitty apartment at the beginning of junior year to save money and because the stupid Polish guy had painted the windows shut so hard they couldn't open them and because he was pretty sure the neighbors had bedbugs. It was gross. So she doesn't live with him, but she always, always texts and most often she calls. When she doesn't do so, he heads to the library and finds her sniffling in the corner.
He remembers before , the last time she was so curled up and he knows he didn't do it this time. That means someone else hurt her and he wants to kick their ass so hard.
She feels him staring, feels him sitting, and she goes without complaint when he pulls her right into his lap to hold her close.
"I missed your call," he says. "So I thought something was wrong. What's wrong, babe?"
"It just…I just…" she barely manages to get out. His presence steadies her most of the time, but when she's coming apart it just makes her fall apart faster. His voice trying to soothe just somehow pulls all of it out of her like a sponge soaking up the water. She clings a little tighter so he wraps his arms around her more. "It's isn't supposed to be like this."
"Like what?" He asks. He lets his hand drift over her back while he reaches the other one over for the cotton grocery bag he set down before he sat down. He pulls out a bottle of water but he can't untwist the lid without it brushing against her skin. She gasps at the cold but he replaces his hand over the spot almost as quick as it was gone. She takes the bottle of water and doesn't lift her head off his shoulder while she drinks.
He waits until she's finished the bottle of water and he retrieves another one for her. She doesn't drink, though.
"I didn't get a single part. I can't apply for graduate school yet. I feel like I'm standing still."
Her right hand is clutching the full water bottle and he catches it in his left hand, letting his fingers rub over the texture of the ring he gave her in another library. "I just barely picked a major," he says simply. "I get it."
"So how did you get over it?"
"Well, what I want has never changed," he says simply. "Just like what you want hasn't changed, so I think you're gonna be fine even if you feel discouraged right now. You just don't get to feel alone."
She pulls her head off her shoulder. "And what is it you want?"
His eyes trace her face and he doesn't smirk or smile. "Do you really have to ask?" He breathes out. "It's you. It's always been you. If you're there… well, I can do anything and I know I can even if sometimes I just have to be patient and wait for it."
"I'm so bad at patience. I think I still want things too much," she admits. She rests her head on him again, shifts in his lap a little, and he adjusts his grip, his fingertips still bouncing over her ring. His touch is making her remember all the promises that came with that ring and it's almost impossible to feel like anything is disappointing when she thinks about him and how far they've come.
"Just keep reaching," he says. "You're gonna get there. We both know it."
"Will you just keep holding onto me?" She asks. Her voice is sad and he knows the real reason. He knows her so well he can see her whole day, or her whole couple of days, playing in his mind. He knows she struck out at her auditions, he knows she's frustrated with school, and he knows she misses living with him the same way he misses living with her.
She presses a kiss to his neck. She knows he gets it and she doesn't have to talk about it.
"Hey, guys?" Some random who looks too young to work at the college library says. "We're closing down for the night."
Finn just nods at him and she doesn't have to move.
"Come back to my place," he says quietly and she mumbles her agreement.
Once she's back in his place, she doesn't really leave. Even though it's the dorm and she technically can't live with him—she just sort of does after that.
She's pretty sure they're both going to die before they actually have their college diplomas in hand. At least, it feels that way all through the last semester of their undergraduate careers as they head toward finals. They live in an off-campus, three-bedroom apartment with two other couples, and the six of them usually keep the place pretty hoppin', but during finals week it's more like a tomb.
They probably don't need to go to their spot anymore, but they still return often. It's actually their favorite place to study and the corner gets surprisingly good wi-fi access, so if the apartment is too loud they go to the library together when they Skype with Kurt every week. This week though, he has a final –like a final final because he isn't killing himself with graduate school—and they decide to just stay home instead.
She comes home and drops her bag unceremoniously in the doorway before she trips over to the bed and lands face down. She doesn't care anymore because she's so exhausted she thinks her brain is literally numb. She's almost to the point she could tell Julliard to kiss her ass and she doesn't ever want to work on Broadway anyway. Except she knows she would regret that in the morning and she just has a really bad case of senioritis.
She hears Finn's laughter from the chair in the corner. He's tucked away with something that vaguely resembles a textbook and she's kind of impressed. His worst final, or the one he was most afraid of, was first thing this morning and she half expected him to be drunk by now in celebration that it was over and consequences be damned. She's totally glad he isn't. But as she raises her head off the bed to inquire just what in the hell he thinks is so entertaining, she notices the books spread all over the small bedroom.
"Hey," she says, her face crumpled into curiosity. "What's all this?"
He puts down the book he was looking at and she realizes what it is. It's The Art of Loving Yourself. It isn't a textbook.
"This is our library," he says simply.
This feels important. She thinks she'd better sit up.
"I'm not sure I understand." She pushes her hair out of her face, wondering if clear vision will give her any clarity.
He nods and moves toward her. He reaches a hand out and pulls her down onto the floor with him, the towers of books reaching into their faces in some spots. There are literally hundreds of books stacked around her and it seems impossible that she could've missed this many books when they moved stuff from the dorms into this apartment. Or that she could've missed them when she all but lived at his dorm for his entire junior year.
But she must have. Because every single one of the books has a library barcode on the side. She knows what they all are.
He sighs and reaches over to a stack right by him. "Before you say anything, I have three things."
"Okay," she allows.
"First, this is the most recent book I grabbed. After we had that fight about going back to Ohio for Schue's wedding. I think it was the picture that caught my eye, I don't know. But it made me think."
She looks down at the book he's holding out. It's got a picture of a plain solitaire engagement ring against a black background and the words Molly , Will You Marry Me? as the title. She frowns.
"Well, obviously that wouldn't exactly work because your name isn't Molly. And even though the reviews said that book was kind of good, the dust on the front of it when I picked it up said otherwise."
She tries not to laugh but she's not successful. She presses her hand to her mouth so he can at least continue.
"…but then I remembered that stupid movie Julia made us watch a couple weeks ago claiming it was romantic or something." He hands her another book and she sets the first one down to make room for the second in her lap. She flips the brown, ancient-looking, hard cover back and finds the cream colored pages totally empty. She flips through them quickly with a small burst of air roaming her face while he talks. "And while you know I thought that movie was garbage, there was a line from it that stuck with me. And maybe I heard it first in a song or something because normally that's the case. But it said the greatest love story ever told is your own." He rests his hand on the front of the empty book. "So…I think you could write it better than me. Like actual writing with words and whatever. But I think…I think we should start the next part of the greatest love story ever told."
"Wait… what?" She asks. She thinks she knows what he's saying. It's been a long time since he's had to really spell out anything he was thinking for her.
He looks at her directly. "Will you marry me? Finally?"
"You're asking me in our library?"
He looks around at the books and shrugs. "Yeah. Is that a problem?"
"We have this many books?" She asks. She's looking at the titles on the ones she can see and all of them are vaguely familiar.
"Yeah, we have this many books," he says simply. "The only kids book we have is kind of tainted by the whole 'Liam' thing but… we can keep building our library. Maybe even put it on some shelves or something. That might be better than the floor."
She can't hide her smile any more. "Okay."
He raises his eyebrows at her. "Like… okay? Are you agreeing or…"
"Yes, I'm agreeing," she clarifies. She tugs the Star of David ring off her right finger and holds it out to him. "But you'd better find a more proper place for that." He takes the ring from her and she holds out her left hand to him.
"Nah, I think that one's good where it was at. I have another one to give you."
"You do?" She asks breathlessly.
"Yeah… I'm just not sure what section it's in."
She looks around. "Wait… what? You organized these into sections?"
"Sort of," he says. "I guess you'll just have to figure out what method I used."
She looks at him like he's half-cracked, but she eventually finds the simple eternity band hidden in a section she can only assume is supposed to be books that became Broadway hits; she now realizes that's actually the biggest section of their library.
What can she say? It just fits.
Books mentioned are as follows:
The Art of Loving Yourself by Lou Diamond
Liam Says 'Sorry': Repairing an Encounter Gone Sour by Jane Whelan Banks
Molly, Will You Marry Me? by Gregory Paglia
Again, no harm or infringement is intended. Honestly, I've never even read any of them.