A/N: I can't thank you all enough for the amazing responses to this story, from alerts and favorites to the thoughtful reviews, especially from those of you who are taking the time to read pairings you wouldn't normally. Thank you!
Finn gets chicken pox when the football team goes to some elementary school to do mentoring or whatever, and it turns into a big fucking deal. Somehow neither Puck nor Rachel has ever had chicken pox, and Rachel's full of ridiculous statistics about the virus in adults, so they both refuse to even be in the same apartment as Finn. Puck moves into Rachel's room (which is interesting since he's been spending less time there lately than he had been before Finn and Rachel's fight), and Santana ends up staying at the guys' apartment because someone has to take care of Finn's pathetic ass.
Santana hates sick people.
She's not the most sympathetic person on the planet. She hates being expected to do things and she hates it when people whine, and taking care of a sick person is basically both of those things multiplied by a thousand. But she had chicken pox when she was six (like every other normal person) and she understands how much it sucks to feel awful all by yourself, so she'll deal with Finn.
(She also knows that he would do the same thing for her if she needed it, and that shit counts for something with her.)
And it's not so bad, even though Finn's really fucking sick. His doctor puts him on antivirals to keep it from getting worse and causing swelling in his brain or something ridiculous, and he's hopped up on some cold medicine or the other about eighty percent of the time. NyQuil turns him into a zombie, but this Sudafed or whatever he's taking during the day makes him hilarious, somehow mellow and jittery all at once. He is, however, driving her crazy with the itching.
He's lying on the couch watching TV while she sits on the floor in front of him with her laptop on the coffee table so she can work on a paper. She can feel him moving behind her, rubbing at his arms through the sleeve of his hoodie and fidgeting around.
"Stop," she orders, not looking away from her screen.
She's heard that exact phrase about half a million times in the last three days. She rolls her eyes even though he can't see her face. The kid refuses to take an oatmeal bath (which she sort of understands) and the calamine lotion she bought only seems to stop the itching for a little while before he's fidgeting again. She's at a pretty good stopping point in her paper, and she has an idea.
"Sit up," she orders, closing her computer and turning to face him on her knees.
He does what she asks without asking questions. This is a side effect of something, the drugs or the illness or just because he's glad that she's here. She likes it. "What are you doing?" he asks when she starts tugging at the waistband of his sweats.
She smiles up at him. "Distracting you."
She uses her hand until he's hard and looking at her sort of desperately, then he groans when she puts her mouth on him, burying his hands in her hair. She kind of loves the sounds that he makes when she goes down on him, the way his fingertips massage her scalp until just before he comes, when his grip tightens like he wants to hold her in place.
She sleeps in his bed because he asks her to, and besides the fact that he's too pathetic to refuse right now, she doesn't hate sleeping beside him. Generally, he stays on his side and she stays on hers, and that's how she likes it. Sometimes, he'll curl his body around hers in his sleep, his fingers tucked just under the edge of her panties at her hip, and she doesn't really mind that either.
He's already asleep one night when she goes in, doped out of his head on NyQuil with his mouth hanging open just a little bit as he breathes. He mumbles her name when she slips under the covers beside him, looks at her blearily for a moment before closing his eyes again. It's ridiculous and drug-induced and not at all attractive, but it's somehow so fucking cute that she has to smile, reaching over to fix the side of his hair where it's sticking straight up.
Between school and chicken pox and all of the extra stuff Rachel's undertaken as part of her last semester at Berklee, it's been forever since she and Finn have had a chance to go out on a real date. They manage to go for coffee once in a while or hang out when they're both studying, doing separate things in the same space. They spend the night together at least once a week, but Finn gets that having sex and falling asleep beside each other isn't enough for a relationship, especially when you're both doing that with other people, too. If they don't make an effort, they don't have a relationship.
So he asks his girl out on a date.
She looks beautiful in her green dress, and he takes her to one of those restaurants she read about in the newspaper that he really only chooses because it'll make her happy. She talks so much during the meal that he isn't sure how she actually eats anything; he's been trying to figure that one out for years, but he's given up on trying. He likes hearing her talk and tell stories, and it's been a while since they've been able to do this. It's really comfortable, and it feels good.
"So I walk into rehearsal, and it's absolute chaos," she's saying, gesturing a little with her wine glass. "Apparently Liz and Avery accidentally had sex this weekend. How do you accidentally have sex?"
"Wait, who's Avery?" he interrupts.
She furrows her brow a little over the rim of her glass. "I told you all about Avery. He's the one who hit on me on the first day of rehearsal."
Yeah, she definitely never told Finn about this guy. One, he'd remember hearing a story about some guy hitting on his girlfriend, and two, what the hell kind of name is Avery for a dude? "No, you didn't," he tells her simply.
She blinks and sort of stares off into space for a moment, thinking. "I thought I had, but I must be thinking of Noah." She waves a hand. "It doesn't really matter."
She goes on, and the rest of the story is actually pretty interesting, but it's hard to appreciate it. (Avery ran away from Liz when she started walking towards him with a pair of sewing scissors in her hand, shouting things about castration. It reminds him of Santana.) The thing is, Finn's sort of hung up on the fact that he has no idea who most of these people are, but this obviously isn't the first time she's talked about them.
It's just the first time she's talked about them to him.
It's weird, because he thought he knew everything about her at this point in their relationship, but this is proving him wrong. Even the little things are a big deal to Rachel, and they always have been. He knew dozens of trivial little bits of information about her before he even really iknew/i her. Somehow, now he doesn't even know who this Avery dude is, some guy she sees every day at rehearsal. It makes him more than a "little thing," and Finn's never even heard his name.
It sounds stupid, but it's kind of a big deal to him.
They don't spend the night together because she has an early rehearsal the next day. He just kisses her goodbye at her door and goes upstairs to fall asleep alone.
Santana catches Puck leaving the apartment with his guitar on a Saturday night, so he kind of has to tell her where he's going, and when he does, she insists on coming along.
He's started secretly performing at open mic nights in the city.
The thing is, he's been like, really inspired to write for a while, and the stuff that's coming out isn't half bad. Some of it might actually be good, and he likes playing and getting the feedback. He's just not quite ready for everyone to know. Mostly Rachel, because the girl can't just let things lie. She'd be bugging him about playing for his professors or something really crazy, like recording a demo or whatever.
He doesn't hate that Santana caught him. She sits beside him a table at this little hole in the wall, sipping gin and tonic and murmuring snide comments in his ear about the other performers until it's his turn. There's a little smile on her lips when he finishes his song, and it's still there when he asks her if she's ready to go a little later.
"How long have you been doing this?" she asks as they walk down the street.
He shrugs. "A few months."
They walk side-by-side in silence for two full blocks before she says, "You're good, you know that?" He grins at her and she looks up at him knowingly. "Has Rachel heard that song?"
He tries to keep his face neutral as he shakes his head. Fucking Santana.
She stops walking, puts her hand on the inside of his elbow so he'll stop and face her. "She's going to love it when she does," she tells him seriously, her eyes locked with his.
Honestly, he doesn't know how Santana does it. The song isn't about Rachel or even for her, but yeah, she may have inspired it a little. He didn't realize it was that obvious, or he would have sung something else, something that Santana couldn't use against him. (Though, to be fair, Santana hasn't schemed in a long, long time, and he doesn't think she'd go after him if she decided to take it up again.)
"Can we just keep this between us?" he asks. He drapes his arm over her shoulder when she nods, drops a kiss to her temple as they start walking again.
Santana wasn't quiet when she started applying at law schools, partially because the applications stressed her the fuck out and she needed to vent and partially because keeping things like this quiet just isn't her style. She knows that they all expect her to crow about her acceptances as soon as they come in, but she finds herself keeping them a secret. There's this tiny, niggling fear in the back of her mind that she won't get into law school at all, or that she'll only be accepted at one of the schools she doesn't really want to go to or something equally awful.
Except now she has a stack of acceptances (Duke, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard, plus others she's already disregarded) and a huge decision to make, and none of the people who would usually offer their opinions even know about them.
She goes to Puck first, explains the situation and asks him what he thinks, but he's basically useless. All he knows about any of these places is where they are geographically, and his advice is to, "Go wherever you'll learn to be the most kick ass lawyer, Lo'."
It's not at all helpful, and she tells him as much.
She doesn't decide to tell Rachel so much as her roommate comes bursting in when Santana has all four letters lain out on the bed in front of her so she can stare at them. (What? Maybe if she thinks hard enough, the one from the right school will levitate up off the blanket or something.) Rachel lets out a little squeal before she runs out of the room, coming back in a moment later with a thick stack of papers all binder clipped together. She's practically beaming when she thrusts it into Santana's hands.
"I did research," she tells Santana, though it's sort of unnecessary when she sees the front page: Law School Options and Information for Santana M. Lopez.
Rachel watches for a moment as Santana leafs through pages, then drops down to sit on the edge of the bed. "I think you should go to Columbia, and then we'll be in New York together," she says in a rush. "If you look at all of the research, you'll see that Columbia is the perfect choice for you," she adds diplomatically, "but can you imagine taking New York together, too, Santana?"
Santana smirks over at her friend. "Like we made Boston our bitch?"
"Exactly!" Rachel laughs.
Santana actually does look at all the stuff Rachel's printed out and highlighted, but it doesn't really help her make up her mind. It's mostly information she had before she applied at these places, and she just needs something more than that. She knows the statistics, knows the history, knows about the cities. She already understands all of that, but this decision isn't just about those things.
She calls Finn to come over one night when Rachel is at a rehearsal. "I want your help," she tells him when he comes into her room.
He glances around the room, looking for the heavy object she needs lifted, she assumes. It's endearing even if she does roll her eyes at him.
She explains the situation to him, and when she finishes, he leans back against her headboard. "What do you think?"
"I don't know anything about law schools. You do. I think you need to talk it out," he tells her seriously. "So talk. Tell me about them. Tell me why you applied to them." He shrugs one shoulder. "I think it'll work."
So that's what she does. She talks about the things she knows he expects, the statistics and the history and the prestige, but then she tells him other things. Like how she's considering Duke because there's a part of her that always wanted to live in the South and how tempting it is to go to Columbia so she can stay close to Rachel.
"What about Harvard?" he asks after she tells him that at least a tiny bit of her attraction to Yale comes from watching Gilmore Girls reruns on cable all through high school.
She lets out a breath and shrugs one shoulder, smiling at him. "It's Harvard. I love it here," she tells him, and she really means it. "Presidents have gone to Harvard Law. Thousands of important, successful people. Rich people," she adds, making him grin. "It's...fuck, Finn, it's Harvard."
He nods his head when she finishes talking, a little smile on his lips. "C'mere." He slips his hand into the back of her hair when she's close enough, then leans forward to press his forehead against hers. "I think you just told me what you want."
She shifts so that she's straddling his thighs and leans in to kiss him before he can say anything. Honestly, this guy. She doesn't understand how he does this shit, doesn't really offer his opinion at all and still manages to be the most helpful person she's talked to.
She mails her letter of intent the next afternoon.
Rachel takes a weekend trip to New York in April to meet her fathers and find an apartment. New York is the dream. New York has always been the dream, the goal, and there's no way she isn't going to have it now.
She finds the perfect place, a tiny one-bedroom with southern exposure in a building that actually has clean, well-lit hallways, and puts down a deposit.
As of July first, Rachel Barbra Berry will be a resident of New York City.
She practically floats for two weeks after she gets back to Boston.
Puck and Rachel write a song together and end up performing it at a singer-songwriter concert thing for school. Finn sits with Santana in the audience and thinks it almost feels like high school all over again, watching Rachel singing with someone and being completely blown away by her.
The difference is, he doesn't feel like going up on stage and breaking Puck's guitar over his head, even when the dude is smiling at Rachel and singing about lingering looks and stolen moments
Honestly, Finn thinks they sound - and look - good up there together.
He sticks with Santana at the little reception afterwards because Rachel and Puck keep getting pulled aside by people he assumes are important, and he doesn't want to be in the way.
"They make it look easy," Santana comments once. She's rolling the stem of her wine glass between her fingers, her eyes on Rachel standing across the room with Puck's hand on the small of her back as they talk to some short dude in an ugly blue suit. Finn just nods; Santana's right. "I think it is easy for them," she adds thoughtfully.
Finn doesn't disagree. It's always been easy for Puck and Rachel to fall together, and it's something that Finn's spent a lot of time thinking about. Since high school, really, because it just always seemed like Puck was there in their relationship.
Finn watches them as ugly suit guy walks away. Rachel turns and looks up at Puck, makes an excited little gesture with her hands, and throws her arms around his neck. They're both laughing as Puck hugs her, and Finn really isn't bothered at all.
He's lying in bed watching an Entourage rerun when she comes in later, her face washed clean and her hair up in a messy ponytail. She glances at the TV and smiles. "Oh, Turtle."
He watches her sit facing him on the bed, her legs crossed indian-style. "You guys were awesome tonight."
"I'd forgotten how much I like songwriting," she says thoughtfully. "I haven't done it too much since glee club, but there's something so freeing about it."
Finn loves listening to Rachel talk about music. He always has. She's such an expressive person, and you can see the love all over her face when she talks. He realizes, lying there watching her talk about this song and how it's inspired her to start writing again and she's considering journaling and whatever else, that it's been a while since he's seen this look on her face.
He used to see that on her face every time she looked at him.
He takes her hand in his and traces his fingertips over her palm when she finally exhausts the topic. "You aren't in love with me any more."
Her eyes go wide and she takes a breath. "What?"
"You aren't in love with me any more," he repeats quietly. "Think about it. We aren't the same as we were before."
He doesn't know what it is exactly, but he knows it's true. She's always put music before their relationship, and he's always understood that, supported it even. It's what she's meant to do, and he loves it about her. But their relationship has been on the bottom of the list - for both of them - for a while now, shoved down by school and sports and other people. He thinks they've just grown up and grown apart.
And that's the thing. He isn't in love with her any more either.
"Finn," she says quietly, squeezing his hand. "I love you."
"I know. I love you." He reaches up to push a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "But we aren't in love any more."
He can see the realization on her face. "So what do we do? Do we try harder?"
He shakes his head slowly. "I think we let go."
"You mean break up." He nods. "Okay."
He tells her to stay when she tries to leave, and they lie together without talking until they fall asleep. The TV is on, but Finn knows they're both just pretending to watch. He's thinking about their other breakups, all those times that they hurt one another and walked away with broken hearts. This time, Rachel doesn't cry, and Finn doesn't feel like kicking anything.
That's how he knows it was the right thing to do.
Puck isn't really surprised when Finn tells him what went down. Finn and Rachel have been pulling apart for months, if not for longer, and Puck thinks that they probably knew they weren't going to make it forever. It's probably better, in the long run, that they figured it out now instead of killing themselves trying to do long-distance.
What does surprise him is how okay with the whole thing Finn seems. Puck's been around for each of the epic FinnandRachel breakups - fuck, he was the cause of one of them - and it's always been a fucking dramatic mess for one or the other of them.
He texts Rachel to meet him for coffee after her rehearsal, and he can't help smiling when she sends back, I'm fine, Noah.
He tells her to meet him anyway, and she's shaking her head when she walks up to him on the sidewalk. "So you talked to Finn."
"We live together," he points out. It's fucking stupid how good she looks right now considering that she's in jeans and one of Santana's Harvard tee shirts with no makeup and her hair in a ponytail. "You're both kind of weirding me out."
She steps to the door of the coffee shop and waits for him to pull the door open for her. "What do you mean?"
"Neither of you are crying," he says, following her in. "You don't look pissed off or depressed or heartbroken. Nobody wants to punch me in the face or claw Santana's eyes out. It's fucking weird."
She ends up laughing so hard that she's holding onto his arm like she might fall over. She can't even stop to give the barista her order, so he ends up doing it, glaring at her after he's paid. "You can stop now."
"I'm sorry," she manages, taking a deep breath. "I guess it is weird, but it's really not. It's been different for a while."
He nods. He knows they've been different, and he's wondered, just a little, how much of a role he played in that this time around. But honestly, if it was all his fault, they would have broken up two and a half years ago, after the first time he and Rachel fucked.
And yeah, the fact that he and Rachel have been doing this thing for two and a half years? That's been weirding him out, too, since he realized just how long it's been when he was talking to Finn this morning.
He offers Rachel a smirk as they're going back outside to distract himself. "Are you sure you don't need me to cheer you up or something?"
He's half-kidding, but then she looks up at him through her eyelashes and fuck. "I jammed my finger at rehearsal," she says, shrugging her shoulder a tiny bit as she shows him her hand. "I guess I'm a little sad about that."
"Yeah?" He takes her hand and brushes his lips over her knuckles as they walk. "I think I can make it better."
He's sort of relieved when they're in her bed and he's inside her. Part of him - the selfish part that loves sex with Rachel - was worried that the end of FinnandRachel would somehow be the end of the thing he's been doing with her.
He was never, ever going to step on Finn's toes any more than his friend was willing to let him. He'd promised Finn once that he was never going to get in between his friend and Rachel again, and Puck meant that. But now there is no Finn and Rachel, and if he's being completely honest, it isn't just sex with Rachel.
He's not going to hold back any more.
Santana knows she should move into back into Cambridge since Rachel's moving to New York, but she doesn't want to. She likes Boston and living in the city proper, and the commute to school isn't terrible.
"I hate looking for apartments," she declares one night when she walks into the apartment. Finn and Rachel are sitting on the couch studying. It's funny, as different as things should have been since those two have broken up, they really aren't. The only difference, honestly, is that they aren't having sex any more. They hang out just as much as they did before, and they're each still having sex with one another's roommates.
Honestly, the four of them really are the most fucked up group of people Santana's ever seen. And she's part of it.
"I'm sorry, sweetie," Rachel says absently, her eyes still on the pages of sheet music in front of her. Bitch. It's her fault Santana has to find a new place anyhow.
Finn just kind of grimaces at her, barely glancing up from the notebook in his lap. It's annoying, but she gets it. Rachel's working on her final project for some big, important class, and Finn has finals too, even if he isn't graduating in two weeks like the rest of them. Plus, Puck's already told Finn that he's not staying in Boston, though he hasn't decided where exactly he wants to go, the flake.
All right, so she's a little stressed out and it's making her bitchy. Fuck off if you don't get that.
She's sitting on her bed with her textbook, surrounded by her notes separated into various stacks, when Finn taps on her door and steps into her room. "Don't touch anything," she warns, glaring up at him.
He holds up his hands. "I have an idea. If you have a minute to talk," he adds.
She blows out a breath and glances at the clock on her bedside table. "You can have two."
"Awesome." He's grinning when he sits in her desk chair and rolls over to the edge of the bed. "I think we should live together next year."
She doesn't know what her face looks like, and she's too busy thinking what the fuck to imagine it or say anything.
Finn must know that, because he barrels on. "You can move upstairs, or I'll come down here, and we won't have to look for a place and deal with all that bullshit. Plus, it'll be cheaper than getting places alone. And we've basically lived together before."
"For two weeks!" she cries, finally finding her voice. "When you were sick and I took care of your stupid ass."
He shrugs like it doesn't matter, then glances over at her clock. "Two minutes is up." He leans over to kiss her forehead when he stands up. "Think about it."
And she does, as much as that annoys her. She has one final left, one final before she's officially done, and then two days till graduation, and she keeps thinking about what it would be like to live with Finn.
She goes straight to the guys' apartment after she finishes that last exam on Wednesday afternoon and finds Finn sitting on the couch with a beer in his hand. She knows it's because his last final was at the same time as hers, actually, but it takes her longer to get back from Cambridge. She's just a tiny bit annoyed that he's gotten a head start, so she flops down beside him and snags the bottle from his hand, taking a long, slow sip.
"I'm not moving up here," she tells him without preamble. She has to bite the inside of her lip to keep from smiling when he starts to grin. "And taking out the trash is your job."
What? She fucking hates dealing with the trash.
Finn takes the beer out of her hands and sets it on the coffee table in front of him before turning to kiss her, pressing her into the back of the couch a little. "Can I still do this?" he asks against her lips.
She lets out a moan when he skims his hand up her side to cup her breast. "Yes," she breathes, though it's just as much a response to the way he tweaks her nipple as it is to his question.
She doesn't really know what this thing between them is. They're good friends who have great sex. Apparently they're going to be roommates who have great sex. But there's something more there, and she doesn't hate the idea of finding out what it is.
Noah writes a song about loving where you are and performs it as part of a showcase of graduating seniors. When one of his professors suggests that he record it, he asks Rachel if she'll do background vocals. "I know you're the star and shit," he tells her, grinning, "but we sound awesome together."
She's happy to do it, actually, even without the ego stroking he offers her (though that is nice). The song is incredibly sweet on the surface, but it's more than that, deeper, exactly the kind of thing that music is supposed to be. It's just the sort of thing she wants to be a part of, and all the better that it's for Noah. She knows he's something special, even though he hasn't totally realized that yet.
She meets him at the studio after a dance class, sings her part with his voice in the headphones she's wearing, and she loves it. She can see him through the window of this little booth that she's in, watching her and smiling as she sings, and it's this perfect musical moment. She's been lucky enough to have a lot of those in her life, but it's been a while since she's shared one with someone else.
It feels amazing, and it just gets better when they sit there with Noah's professor and the sound mixer and listen to the rough cut. She grabs his hand because she has to, and the way he squeezes hers lets her know that he feels it, too.
It's late when they leave the studio, but she insists on stopping at the pub on the corner for a celebratory drink. They're still buzzing with excitement when they leave.
"I love music," Rachel says randomly when they're walking down the sidewalk. They aren't anywhere near their building, but the weather is lovely and they've each had a couple of drinks. Walking felt like a good idea.
Noah laughs at her. "Yeah, I know."
"No, I mean I love music," she repeats with more emphasis, looping her arm through his. "It makes me feel...everything."
Noah stops walking and turns to look down at her, shaking his head. "I love you for that, you know?"
She puts her hands on his shoulders, stands on her toes, and presses her lips to his gently. "Come to New York with me," she whispers, sliding her hands down his arms until she's lacing their fingers together.
She shrugs her shoulders. "You don't know where you're going, right? So come to New York. Be a songwriter. That place..." She trails off, smiling up at him. "It's everything. Come with me."
She doesn't know what this is, this thing that she's feeling with him. He's been such an important part of her life for so long, and she loves him. But right now, standing in the middle of a sidewalk in Boston, she think she might be falling in love with him.
She has no idea when that started to happen.
"Okay," he says after a while, nodding his head slowly. "New York."
She knows her smile is so big it almost looks silly right now. "New York."
Harvard and Berklee have graduation ceremonies on the same day, but it's okay because graduation ceremonies are boring. Rachel's dads and Puck's mom and Santana's parents are all in the city, and because Mrs. Puckerman has been like a second mom to Finn over the years, he ends up going to the Berklee ceremony with her.
Santana doesn't mind. She only got two tickets to hers, and they all meet up for dinner afterwards. She sits between her mom and Finn and gets tipsy because her dad keeps ordering champagne for the table. (Honestly, he's just so proud of her, and she loves that. She loves doing something that makes him look at her like that.)
Finn insists that the four of them have to go out after all the parents go back to their hotels for the night. They're all overdressed for the pub they go to, but it's one of their favorites, and honestly, Santana doesn't care about anything because she just graduated.
She's giving herself exactly one week to celebrate and relish the feeling before she starts an internship with the prosecutor's office and has to start taking shit seriously again. She intends to make the most of that week.
Finn and Rachel go to the bar for more drinks, leaving Puck and Santana alone in their booth. She's hit by a ridiculous wave of nostalgia coupled with a rush of affection for him (it's the vodka, she swears) that makes her move to the other side of the booth so she's sitting beside him.
She just shakes her head at him. "This is almost it, you know?" It doesn't make sense, but he nods anyhow. "This has been the weirdest four years in fucking ever."
He snorts out a laugh. ""S'cause we're all fuckin'...fucked." He's trashed. She finds it strangely endearing.
"You're going to New York," she says, turning sideways in the booth to face him. "With Rachel."
"You have to take care of her," she tells him seriously. "I mean it, Noah. I'll never forgive you if something happens to her."
He's still sort of grinning at her, but she knows he means it when he says, "I know. I will."
"And keep your fucking mouth shut," she adds, almost as an afterthought. "Don't say something stupid and get shot in the fucking head." And yeah, she means that shit. Puck runs his mouth more than just about anyone, and even though she knows that he can take care of himself, New York is different.
He laughs at her so hard that there are tears in his eyes. It kind of pisses her off, because she thinks he isn't taking her seriously, but then he catches her chin in his hand turns her head so he can press a gentle kiss to her lips. "Love you, too, Santana."
Fine. Yes, she fucking loves this asshole, and she isn't too proud to admit it, even if he does look way too smug when she says the words.
The guys complain about the lack of junk food in the girls' apartment when they get home, so Rachel kicks them out, telling them to "satisfy your junk food cravings in your own house!"
Then she goes into her bedroom and reappears with a bag of the blue corn tortilla chips they're both addicted to. Santana fucking loves this girl.
"You have to take care of him," she tells Rachel randomly. They're sitting on the couch watching The Holiday even though it's May, eating chips and salsa and finishing the last of a bottle of tequila that was buried in the freezer. "I mean, he can take care of himself, but...just...take care of him, okay?"
It's weird, because it's basically the same thing she said to Puck earlier about Rachel, but that doesn't make it any less true. Santana's not a worrier - that's Rachel's job - but these are her two best friends, and she needs to know that they're going to be okay, that they're looking out for each other.
"I will." Rachel just has this perfect, knowing little smile on her face. "I'm going to miss you."
"You aren't leaving for a month," Santana points out, even though she started this conversation.
"I know." She looks at the TV for a moment, watches Cameron Diaz dance around for a bit. "You're my best friend."
Santana just smiles and leans her head against Rachel's shoulder. They fall asleep on the couch together in their dresses, curled up under a throw blanket, and Puck makes a dirty comment when the guys let themselves in the next morning and finds them like that.
Finn gives Rachel shit for holding out on him when she had tortilla chips and blames her for his hangover. ("Because I went to sleep with my stomach full of alcohol," he whines.) Rachel buys his breakfast when they go out to make up for it, even though she probably feels worse than he does thanks to Santana and Jose Cuervo.
Finn and Santana help Rachel and Puck move to New York, and Finn thinks it's weird how not awkward the whole thing is.
He and Puck do the heavy lifting while Rachel and Santana organize boxes and things so that there's room for the furniture. Honestly, this place is tiny and Finn has no idea how it's all going to fit, but Rachel just waves her hand at him dismissively when he asks.
Eventually, they get everything into the apartment and all of the furniture is at least in the right room, and Rachel agrees that it's good enough. They've been lifting and carrying and organizing for hours, and they're all starving and exhausted. Puck orders pizza from the place on the corner, and Finn can tell that having the boxes everywhere is making Rachel crazy, mostly because the rest of them are sitting on the couch while they're waiting for the food, but she's in the kitchen unpacking small appliances and glassware. It's insane, but it's Rachel.
Santana lays her head on Finn's shoulder after she finishes eating. "Are you going to be able to drive home?" she asks quietly.
He nods, then slides his palm up and back down her bare thigh. "Soon?" She makes a little noise of agreement. "I'm gonna go say bye to Rachel."
Santana just nods when he stands up. He knows that the girls had their goodbye last night; they locked the guys out of their apartment and did crazy secret girl things that he knows he'll never know about or understand. Santana also already has plans to come back to the city for a shopping trip in August, and unless something comes up between now and then, Puck and Rachel are planning to be in Boston for Finn's first football game.
They aren't living in the same building any more - or even in the same city - but Finn thinks they might actually manage to stay friends after all this.
He finds Rachel in the bedroom smoothing out the fitted sheet she just put on the bed. "Hey." He grabs the flat sheet from where it's sitting on a box and moves to the opposite side of the bed where she's standing to help her spread it out. It's funny, he thinks, that Puck and Rachel haven't decided what they are - if they're roommates or fuck buddies or in a relationship - but they're going to be sharing a bed. It probably makes sense, given the way they've all been. He thinks he and Santana will probably be sleeping in the same bed more often than not even though they'll each have a bedroom, and they aren't together either.
"You're getting ready to leave?" she asks, smiling a little sadly when he nods. "I'm going to miss you both."
He's tucking the sheet under the edge of the mattress, so he isn't looking at her when he says, "Whatever. You and Santana are gonna be talk all the time."
"It's not the same."
He smooths out a wrinkle in the sheet and moves around the end of the bed so he's standing in front of her. "Yeah, I know." He puts his hands on her upper arms, rubbing his thumbs up over her shoulders like he has a million times before. It's one of the things that's always made him realize how much bigger he is than her, how much of her he can touch at once because she's so small under his hands. "You gotta just...go be awesome, Rach."
She lets out a little laugh that almost a sob, sets her hands on his forearms, and stands on her toes to press her lips to his gently. Her lips are wet with tears he didn't realize she was crying, and he wonders, randomly, how many times he's tasted tears on her lips over the years. She wraps her arms around him and presses her face into his chest. "I love you."
He says the words against her hair, then tells her to stop crying when he pulls away. She's too pretty to cry, for one thing, and it's kind of stupid, he says. (It isn't at all, but he says it anyhow.)
Santana sits in the middle of the bench seat in his truck on the drive back to Boston, lays her hand on his thigh and tucks herself under his arm when they're out on the highway. It's taken him years to learn it, but she's always more cuddly when she's tired, and it isn't long before she falls asleep and her breathing evens out.
They go back to the girls' apartment - he figures he should get used to calling it his apartment soon - when they get back to Boston and fall into her bed after peeling off the clothes they're wearing. Santana curls her nearly-naked body into his, but he knows it isn't a sex thing.
"I miss them," she murmurs. He can feel her eyelashes brushing his chest. She takes a deep breath and he skims his hand up her back even though he's just barely awake. "I guess you'll do."
He chuckles a little because he knows that almost like 'I love you' for Santana.
The only thing in their apartment that isn't a disaster is the bed. Puck thinks that probably has some kind of significance, but whatever. He likes the way Rachel looks curled up in it when he gets out of the shower, the light from the hallway on her face. She opens her eyes when she hears him fumbling around in the nearly-dark room. "I can't find the clothes," he tells her. He was looking for boxers, trying to be considerate and shit when she's this tired. He's actually not trying to sex her right now. (There's a first time for everything.)
She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, shaking her head. "Don't worry about it."
He presses his chest to her back when he lays down and puts his hand on her hip, smiling against her shoulder when she laces her fingers through his. "'S'good, Rach." He doesn't know what that means, but she doesn't seem to mind when she turns her head so her lips brush his.