a/n: I normally only publish my stories on LiveJournal, but I'm trying something new here. Enjoy!
She's 24, living in New York City.
She's 24, living in New York City, and about to make her big break on Broadway.
She's 24, and life seems almost perfect, except for one little thing.
He's always throwing a wrench in her plans.
They dated long distance throughout college. Visits were infrequent, but it never seemed to matter. They spent all of their breaks together, barely a second apart. By the time they were juniors, they didn't even stay at separate houses anymore.
When they graduated, Finn moved to New York City and in with Rachel. He came to the city with a degree in communications and a job lined up at a small ad agency, working in customer relations. He wasn't sure how he managed it, but it was a job and it would help pay the bills for the insanely expensive, insanely tiny apartment Rachel had just leased, which he would be added to and responsible for as soon as he actually got there.
She'd been working on and off in little shows throughout college, but when she graduated, she had been in a workshop for a show a friend had written and put together. It had managed to gain some attention for its brilliant music and controversial storyline (Rachel never thought she'd make it big playing opposite another female as a romantic lead). Moving the production off-Broadway was surprisingly easy enough, because critics seemed to go nuts over the show, and there were a number of directors eager to take the reins of the project.
Off-stage, things were good. Really good. She performed, he worked full time, and somehow they made enough money to pay their rent and eat more than just ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They didn't run the air during the summer because it's expensive and they were trying to save money, but they got by because clothing is optional, always. They got used to paying for heat pretty quickly, though, because maintaining the clothing-free lifestyle in the winter meant the temperature in their apartment can't match that of the temperature outside.
It's not until winter started turning into spring that they started having problems. Trivial things that they always used to bicker about but forgave became fights that lasted for hours. He was working late again, she was spending too much time at the theater. He forgot to pick up dinner, she hadn't gone to the store in days.
They tried to make things work for as long as possible. They renewed their lease in the beginning of May, and they broke up at the end of it.
It's not really messy or painful, just abrupt.
When she yells, "then maybe we shouldn't be together!" he answers with a "fine!" and a slamming of their bedroom door.
After a week of glaring and avoidance, he finally says something.
"Is this really happening? Are we really broken up?"
"Yes, Finn," she snaps from the kitchen area of the apartment. "Clearly, this isn't working out."
"Well, what are we going to do then, about all of this?" he asks, motioning around the apartment.
"We shouldn't do anything hasty. Living in New York is expensive enough with two people paying rent. I have no problem living with you, as long as our expectations for each other remain at a platonic level."
"Right, so basically, we become roommates, and that's it?"
She's stubborn, he knows. He figures she'll come around.
After another week, he's annoyed.
"So this is seriously it? All those years of making it work throughout high school and college, and that's it? All for nothing?"
She sighs, setting down the knife she was using to chop vegetables for a salad.
"We've tried it Finn, and clearly, this relationship isn't working."
"So one fight, and you're ready to throw it all away?"
"It wasn't one fight, Finn," she clarifies. "We've been fighting non-stop for the past few months. It's not healthy."
"And you're okay with this," he replies quickly, clearly agitated and upset. "You don't care, you don't have any feelings about this?"
"Of course I have feelings, I'm—"
"Well you certainly seem fine!" he snaps, the volume of his voice rising slightly. "I don't know about you, but I've spent all my time thinking that we'd get over this thing, that in a week or two we'd forget this even happened. And now that I know that's not what you're thinking, I'm kind of panicking. Like, a lot."
"Finn," she tries, stepping towards him a little.
"No, no, you don't get it. You're acting so calm, and I know that you're stubborn and you're going to pretend like nothing's bothering you, but I know that you have to be upset like this," he says, motioning to himself. "It hurts that you don't want to care, Rachel!"
When he sees tears well up in her eyes, he instantly feels bad for raising his voice.
"I do care, Finn. It hurts, a lot. And I'm sorry if I choose to express my emotions in private, but you're right, that's just who I am."
She gently pushes past him then, making her way to the bedroom. "I'm sorry," she starts, turning around to look at him, "if I'm hurting you, but I think that this is best. Maybe I'm making a mistake, but I have to do this, Finn."
She slips into the bedroom, closing the door softly behind her. Finn drops into a chair around their little kitchen table, letting his head fall into his hands.
He won't give up on them. He believes they're meant to be, even if she doesn't.
Things start falling into place after a month.
"I want us to be friends," she says, sitting down next to him on the couch one night.
"Rach, if I've managed to deal with you for this long without running away screaming, then I think it's safe to assume we'll always be friends."
She hits him in the face with a pillow.
"You want Thai food for dinner?" she asks, choosing not to respond to his statement.
"Actually, I really want a burger."
"Great! Thai food it is!" she says, jumping off the couch to grab her purse.
Finn rolls his eyes, getting up and following her. "You never listen to me," he fake pouts.
"And you secretly love Thai food," she replies, waiting for him at the door.
Things go like this most days.
Finn works, Rachel performs. Sometimes they'll share meals, but they aren't dependent on each other. She sleeps in the bedroom, he stays out on the couch. There's a pullout bed, but most of the time he's too lazy. Rachel had felt bad, telling him that he could have the bed because it had to be uncomfortable for him to try and fit himself onto the couch night after night, but he refuses. She says that they can get another bed and try to find a place for it, but he refuses that as well.
"You're not getting back into that bed with me, Finn Hudson," she tells him, eyeing him knowingly.
"We'll see about that, Rachel Berry," he replies, smirking.
Two and a half months, and it happens.
It's six o'clock on a Thursday night when she comes out of the bedroom wearing a simple lavender dress.
"You look nice," Finn says from the couch once she walks past and causes him do a double take. "What's the occasion?" He knows she's off from her show tonight, so it can't be anything to do with that.
"I actually…have a date," she answers reluctantly. She knows this can't possibly end well.
"What?" he exclaims as he practically jumps off the couch.
"I have a date, Finn, and I know what you're going to say—"
Rachel looks at him in shock. "No? Finn, you can't stop me from going out."
"Yes, I can," he replies, nodding as he walks towards her.
"Oh really? How exactly are you going to do that?" she asks, crossing her arms over her chest in annoyance.
Finn takes a moment to think before he answers. "Stand in front of the door, lock you in the bedroom, take your keys away, put—"
"You are insane," she says, cutting him off from finishing his list.
"Just trying to stop you from making a terrible mistake." He says it as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
"Really? What kind of mistake? Please, enlighten me, oh wise Finn."
Well, for starters, you're wasting your time with this other guy, I can guarantee it. I know how serious you are about using all your time wisely."
"Mhmm," she agrees sarcastically, nodding. "And how might my time be more wisely spent?"
"Here, with me," he replies simply. "You act like you're actually going to end up with someone else."
"Maybe I will!" she snaps. "Finn. Give. Me. A. Chance. Please." She punctuates each word in exasperation.
"Where'd you even meet this guy?"
"Not like it's any of your business, but he was a classmate of mine a few years ago. We ran into each other yesterday and he was nice enough to ask me out."
Finn just rolls his eyes before moving back to the couch and flopping down on top of it. A second later, the buzzer to their apartment rings, and Rachel walks over to the intercom to unlock the front door to the building.
"What if the person who you just buzzed in is a serial killer? You didn't even check to make sure it was your date," Finn mumbles as Rachel walks over to stand in front of him. "You're blocking the TV."
"Shut up," she snaps. "Now, please try and act civilized. No funny business."
Finn gives her a thumbs up right as there's a knock on the door.
"Oh," Rachel starts, turning around to look at him before she opens the door, "and if this is a serial killer, then it's your job to take care of him."
Finn rolls his eyes once again. He watches as she unlocks the door, pulling it open slowly.
"Hi," Rachel says softly, and Finn's mouth sets in a tight line when he sees the guy standing on the other side. There is definitely nothing unfortunate looking about him, and it kind of pisses him off.
"Hey," he hears the guy say, and he leans down to press a quick kiss to Rachel's cheek.
Finn wants to punch something.
"Ready to go?" Rachel asks, and Finn knows what she's doing. And he's totally not having it.
"Definitely," the guy says, and Finn stands then, making his way to the door.
"Hey man," Finn greets, overly happy, and Rachel spin on her heals, glaring at him. She's giving him the "I swear to God if you do something stupid I will castrate you later" look, which he replies to with a raise of his eyebrows and a smirk. He sticks his hand out, and the other man tentatively reaches forward to shake it.
"Hey," he replies slowly, eyeing Finn with curiosity.
"Finn," Finn says, and he looks at the other man expectantly. "And you are?"
"Ben. Are you-"
"He's no one," Rachel interrupts, practically turning to shove Ben out the door. "He's not important. He's also crazy, so just don't pay attention to him."
"Wait, what?" the guy—Ben (annoying, Finn thinks)—says, looking back and forth between Finn and Rachel.
"Aw, Rach, you're so dramatic. I'm actually just Rachel's ex-boyfriend." He almost throws in a "no big deal," but he refrains.
"Um, what?" Ben asks, looking down to Rachel for confirmation, who's looking up at Finn like she's about to strangle him.
"Ex-boyfriend. Like, we used to date…"
"Yeah, uh, I know what an ex-boyfriend is, thanks man," Ben says, frowning. "Were you visiting, or—"
"Nope, I live here, but it's cool. Don't worry man. Rachel and I haven't—"
"Finn!" Rachel screeches, her little hands balled into fists at her sides. She gives him one more glare before turning to look at Ben. "We're just roommates, it's nothing to be concerned about. Now, how about we go enjoy dinner?"
Ben just nods, giving Finn one more awkward look before turning around and walking back out into the hall.
"Have fun you gu—" Finn starts, but Rachel whips around and cuts him off.
"Shut up!" she hisses as she pulls the door closed behind her.
Mission accomplished, Finn thinks.
She literally beats the shit out of him when she gets home that night.
She starts with her purse, but then she thinks she might see a bruise forming on his arm, so she switches to a pillow from the couch.
He laughs the entire time.
It goes on like this for another few weeks. Possibly months. She goes out on dates here and there when she has time, but nothing ever seems to pan out.
It doesn't help that Finn keeps coming up with new ways to scare her dates away.
She thought that things would definitely work out with a nice guy she met named Alex. She always ran into him at the little café right down the street from her theater when she was headed to rehearsals and he was on his lunch break. He'd always smile at her, and he started to pay for her drinks whenever he was ahead of her in line. It was sweet and charming, and Rachel liked sweet and charming. Sweet and charming was nice.
So she let him buy her drinks, and once they started talking, she'd let him walk her all the way to the theater. He finally asked her out on a cool November day, and while her hair whips across her face from the wind, she smiles and accepts. It isn't until she inside, pulling off her coat when she realizes it.
Finn. He's going to completely screw this up.
She decides that the best way to approach this is to be upfront about it. She thinks that maybe if she begs Finn, he won't completely ruin this for her.
And if all else fails, she'll resort to making deals. Letting him have the bed for a month, doing all the dishes, all the cleaning, all the cooking. Something has got to work.
She's surprised when he agrees readily. In hindsight, she realizes she shouldn't have believed him as readily.
So on the evening of her date, Finn retreats to the bedroom while Rachel waits patiently in the living room. When the buzzer goes off and she calls him up, Finn's still in the bedroom and Rachel thinks that maybe they can avoid the awkward "yes-I-still-live-with-my-ex-no-we're-not-sleeping-together" talk.
Again, she shouldn't have underestimated Finn. As soon as Alex is inside the apartment and Rachel is slipping into her coat, Finn emerges, completely naked except for a towel around his waist.
"Oh hey guys," he says, smiling cheekily as he walks over, "I was just about to jump in the shower, but I wanted to say hi to, Aaron, is it?" Finn hold out a hand for Alex to shake while the other holds the towel in place.
"Uh, Alex," Alex says, reaching out to shake Finns hand, his face etched in confusion. Rachel just glares at Finn, her mouth hanging open in shock and surprise.
"Okay," Rachel says suddenly, breaking the awkward moment. "Alex, would you mind just waiting outside for one moment while I grab my purse and Finn gets into the shower?" She hisses the last few words, looking directly at Finn. Alex just smiles politely and steps outside, letting the door shut behind him.
When he's gone, Rachel grabs her purse off the kitchen table and turns one last time to look at Finn, smiling back at her.
"I hate you," she says quietly but with force. She turns and rushes out of the apartment, slamming the door on the way out, and Finn flinches.
She's never said that seriously before.
She hates him.
She doesn't speak to him for about a week. When she returns from her date that night, she walks through the living room without even acknowledging him and goes into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Every time they run into each other during the day, he tries to speak, but she just cuts him off with an angry glare.
And he knows better. He really fucked up this time. But how was he supposed to know that she'd really get angry this time? Every single failed date she's been on, she'd never said anything to him about. Sometimes she'd hit him or tell him he was ruining her life, but she never meant it. There was always that playful, joking tone to her voice, no matter how small. He knew her too well to not notice it. But this time, there is no joking, no playfulness. She's truly upset, and he feels terrible.
"I'm sorry," he says finally one night, pushing the door to the bedroom open to reveal her sitting up on the corner of the bed, just staring at the door. "I'm sorry I ruined your date."
"No you're not," she says quietly, looking down and away from him. "You got exactly what you wanted."
"I don't want you to be so upset. I never want you to be upset."
"Well fuck you, then," she hisses, looking up at him swiftly. "Because I'm upset, and if you don't want me to be upset, then neither of us got what we wanted, now did we?"
He's a little shocked because she hardly ever swears, and the venom in her tone is overwhelming.
"Rach, I just—"
"Just go away, Finn," she says, cutting him off. "I'm tired of dealing with this. I'll just put my life on hold, wait until you grow up, and then maybe we can both move on. Until then, I'm not going to keep giving you the opportunity to screw up everything I work for."
"Wait, what?" he says, looking at her, taken aback by her words. "I'm screwing up everything? Rachel, you've never cared! All I've done is talk to these losers who've tried to take you out, and then you get angry with me when it doesn't work out!"
"That's bullshit, Finn. You try to scare them off by making it seem like they have competition, and you don't even care how I feel!"
"But they do, Rach! They do have competition! If I didn't matter to you at all, you would have made sure I knew after that first date you went on! I know a part of you is still holding on to us because you don't fight me on it! At least, not until now." He tries to move closer to her, but she stands, pushing him back.
"Get out," she says angrily, shoving him towards the door.
And he doesn't try to fight her. Because she's Rachel Berry, and she wouldn't get so damn mad and defensive if he wasn't right.
He actually pulls out the bed from the couch that night. He hasn't heard any movement in the bedroom or seen her emerge since he walked out of there, so an hour later, he turns off all the lights and tries to make himself comfortable on the stupid pull-out mattress. He's staring up at the ceiling, willing his eyes to close, when he hears the creak of the bedroom door and little footsteps padding across the floor towards him.
When she scoots onto the bed next to him, he knows she's not angry.
"I just want to be happy," she whispers. "We're not happy. We weren't when we were together, and we're not when we're apart. I'm just looking for something that works."
"You're the only thing that's ever made me happy," he replies, looking right at her.
"I know. And I'm sorry. I'm just trying to do something for me this time around."
She crawls under his comforter and curls up next to him, because sleeping next to him is the only thing that's ever made her feel safe.
He knows it's not the same as it used to be, though.
Things calm down. They resume the routine they created before the whole dating disaster started, and it works. They live together as roommates. Their days intertwine but their lives still remain, to a point, separate.
Rachel stops dating, though. She hasn't been out with a guy in weeks. But then again, maybe that's how dating is supposed to go, Finn thinks. Rachel seemed to score dates with a LOT of guys since she's been single, and don't get him wrong, she's an amazing, beautiful woman, but he wonders where all these suitors come from.
So, her dating life slows down. She's still busy performing, though, and she seems happy. Finn starts coming to her shows again, and it's nice, seeing her up on stage, singing her heart out. She never fails to amaze him.
Her show is still just off-Broadway, but it still has buzz and attention. She's good, and people are really starting to notice.
Then one evening, early in December, she comes bounding into the apartment, face flushed and beaming.
"Good day?" he asks, looking away from the television. She bounds over to the couch and practically throws herself on top of him, squeezing her arms around him tight.
"Whoa, really good day?" he laughs, wrapping his arms around her in return for a short moment before she pulls away.
"I had a meeting with the director of my show and a bunch of other important people today," she says, bouncing a little on the couch. "They're moving the show!"
"To Broadway! The show is officially moving to Broadway, and they want me, Finn! Me!"
His eyes go wide, and he can't even speak.
"They want me to move with them and continue to play Morgan. Finn, I'm going to be on Broadway!"
"Oh my God!" he cries, reaching and pulling her back into a hug. "That's so great!"
And it is. It's fantastic. It's everything she's ever wanted and dreamed of, and she's finally achieved it.
It's everything he's ever wished for her, but he knows that his own wishing was pointless. She was going to get here on her own no matter what.
She's warm and giggling in his arms, thrilled beyond belief, and he's so goddamn happy for her that for a split second, his heart kind of aches. He always thought that when this day came, he'd be able to congratulate her as his girlfriend, or even wife. That he'd be able to kiss her over and over again, whispering how much he loved her into her ear as his hands held her tight.
But he's got her in his arms and she's squirming and laughing that it's enough for now. He loves her too much not to be overjoyed right along with her.
"Celebrate!" he says suddenly, pulling away to look her right in the eyes. "We need to celebrate! We're going all out tonight, on me!"
She laughs, shaking her head. "But it's nearly seven pm, and all the places in the city will surely be booked solid tonight."
"Who cares? It doesn't even matter, not tonight."
So she throws on a dress and he puts on a nice shirt and they leave the apartment, fully set on making the most out of the evening.
They make it three blocks before they decide to fuck expensive restaurants and turn right into one of Finn's favorite diners. The food is greasy and people talk way too loud, but it's also kind of perfect. Finn's buddy Marcus owns the place, and when he tells him about Rachel's big news, Marcus pulls the alcohol out from under the counter (they don't sell it because they don't have a liquor license, but Marcus isn't charging his friends here. They're celebrating). Neither Finn nor Rachel really remember how many vodka shots they all do, but he does know that they're sober enough to 1) stop at a convenience/liquor store on the way home and pick up some really cheap, shitty champagne, and 2) actually make their way back to the apartment, because they're currently lying on the living room floor, taking turns drinking straight from the bottle.
(Later, he'll realize that while they were sober enough to make it home, they were drunk enough to down the champagne like it's freaking Cristal.)
"God, you're amazing," he slurs as she takes a drink, tilting the bottle back over her head. "So fucking amazing."
She giggles, handing the bottle to him as she turns to look at him and smile. "I always knew you'd be the one with me when it happened." When his eyes go wide, she quickly clarifies. "Like, just here, celebrating with me. Even if we're not—you know, together."
He nods before taking another drink.
"You'll always be my best friend," she says softly, turning her head back to stare up at the ceiling. "I don't know what I would do without you."
And then suddenly, he's letting the bottle of champagne fall beside him and roll away as he himself rolls over on top of her, pressing her down into the floor. She doesn't fight or protest when his lips cover hers; in fact, her mouth opens under his right away, capturing his upper lip between her own. Her body is so warm and soft against his, and he lets a hand slip down her side to grasp at her hip, pulling their bodies as close together as possible.
She moans when his lips leave hers to travel down her neck, placing hot, wet kisses there as he makes his way to her collarbone. He nips at her skin but then soothes it by running his tongue over it, creating a little pattern of red marks—a telltale sign of where he's been.
She arches into him when the hand formerly on her waist moves back up to cup her breast, and he presses her back down in response. She's so tiny compared to him, but she's so forceful when she pushes herself back up against him, grinding her pelvis against his own.
"Shit," he groans, pulling his lips from her chest as she continues to writhe underneath him, her own head thrown back. Her eyes are closed, and she's letting out these little breathy sighs every few seconds. However, when he sneaks a hand under her dress, her head snaps up instantly, as if she's returning back to Earth from some blissful little break.
"Wait," she exhales, trying to sit up underneath him. "We can't do this, we can't."
"No," she says, gently pushing against his chest. "It's not—we shouldn't…" she trails off, shaking her head. "We're drunk."
"But I love you," he pleads, and she sighs, falling back against the floor.
"And this is just making it worse." She pushes against his chest again, and he finally relents, moving off of her. When she tries to stand, she stumbles before finally gaining balance and wobbling over to the couch, using it for support as she turns around to look at him on the floor.
"Bed," she murmurs, pointing absently behind her. "I'm going."
She runs into the couch, the counter, and the doorframe before she makes it into the bedroom.
He simply falls back against the thin rug on the ground, groaning as his head hits hard.
He passes out there, until the sunlight wakes him up the next morning, streaming through the window where they never closed the blinds.
She wakes up the next morning and freaks out. She's wearing her dress from the night before, and she's all alone in the bed, but she feels like something's off.
Something happened, she just knows it.
She crawls out of bed and notices the clock. Almost 11, meaning that Finn's already gone for work. She doesn't know how he could possibly drag himself out into the world if he feels anything remotely like she does right now, but when she walks out of the bedroom, he's no where to be found.
She makes her way into the kitchen area to locate aspirin and retrieve coffee when she notices the note stuck onto the refrigerator with the West Side Story magnet he bought her on their trip to New York for Nationals junior year of high school.
She pulls the note off the fridge, biting her lip.
She briefly remembers kissing him on the floor, the feel of his body pressed so close to hers once again. But as nice as it felt, she knows it was wrong. She screwed up, and she worries that maybe she's gotten Finn's hopes up again. And it's not her intention at all. Hurting him is the last thing she ever wants to do, but sometimes, you have to go through a little pain to come out better in the end.
She reminds herself that she's doing this for both of them—that they'll both be better off once they move on. Things just weren't working before, and she's not going to let the inevitable (they have been sleeping together since they were 17 years old, after all) sexual tension between them break all progress they've made towards getting over each other.
She quickly flips the note over, grabbing the pen off the counter to scribble a reply.
Late rehearsal tonight :( Won't be home until around 10 or so.
One day, she'll know she made the right decision.
Her show off-Broadway wraps up right before the New Year, and rehearsals with the new Broadway cast begin right after. She's so excited, she can barely contain herself.
Many of the people she's spent the last year performing with have been cast along with her, but the girl she's been playing opposite of, Katherine, is not. She's been offered a different role in a different production, and Rachel is sad to see her go. They had pretty fantastic chemistry for two straight women playing lovers, but Rachel is a professional, and she knows that she'll be able to work just as well with whomever they cast to play Carly, the love interest of her character, Morgan.
When she is informed that Kristina DeLeon has been cast as Carly, Rachel is ecstatic. She knows exactly who Kristina is, and she knows the girl is amazingly talented.
She got her start playing Sally in the Broadway revival of Cabaret. Most recently, she starred as Sherrie in Rock of Ages, which she left only a few weeks ago. Rachel figures she left so she could play Carly, and Rachel understands why. This show has buzz. Lots of buzz. And Rachel has become a lot more realistic than she was in high school, but it's not just wishful thinking saying that if anything is going to earn her a Tony at the age of 25, it's this show.
So yes, Rachel knows a lot about Kristina DeLeon, because she likes to keep herself informed about the Broadway community.
She also knows that Kristina happens to be dating Jesse St. James.
Jesse St. James. Oh dear God.
It's been a while.