A/N: I APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAIT. Goodness, this chapter took me so long to write! I've been busy with school, of course, and I recently recovered from a brutal case of writer's block. Watching the new season of Glee has completely flooded my mind with new story ideas so this one was (unfortunately) pushed to the backburner. But luckily, I'm back in action! And just in time, too. This story is about to take an exciting turn in the next few chapters! Enjoy!
The Good Life
Despite Rachel's perpetually sour attitude, Finn's presence did come in handy around the apartment—although there was a significantly greater amount of ESPN being watched than Kurt would have liked. When the UPS delivered their bedframes, Finn helped Blaine lug the heavy packages up two flights of stairs to their door. His abnormal height also made every-day tasks much easier, like changing the overhead light bulb in the living room or reaching a cereal box on the top shelf of the pantry. When Blaine lightheartedly suggested that they keep Finn around the apartment more often, however, Rachel huffed and sulked her way back into the safety of her room.
"Way to go, Blaine," Kurt reprimanded teasingly as he spread fat-free cream cheese across his bagel. "You've upset the princess."
Blaine laughed as he settled down at the kitchen table with his bowl of cereal. "I don't see how she's still upset—it's been long enough."
Finn leaned against the kitchen counter and heaved a sigh. "Sorry about all this, guys."
"Are you kidding?" Kurt snorted as he joined Blaine at the table. "It's so much more peaceful around here with Rachel holed up in her room all day. She's barely said five words since you got here."
Blaine nodded in agreement as he chewed his mouthful of cereal. "She hasn't even argued with me about which 1997 Tony Award performance was most memorable in over a week."
This news didn't seem to cheer Finn up. The tall jock brought his eyebrows together as he stared grimly at the pattern on the tiled floor. "I miss her."
"I think she misses you, too," Blaine replied sincerely, cracking a slight smile. "That's why this is so hard for her."
Finn shook his head slowly and squinted his eyes as if he were contemplating something very significant. "Maybe I shouldn't have come… Maybe I should just go home."
Blaine and Kurt shot a quick, desperate look at each other from across the table until Kurt returned to his stepbrother, eyes pleading. "No! No, no, Honey, you stay here. We could be on the verge of a breakthrough with her—just give it some more time. She's conceited and obnoxious, but you love her. That means it's your duty to wait by her side—er, door, rather—until she's ready to come to terms with the intense romantic feelings she's been harboring for you since she first laid eyes on your endearingly helpless face."
Finn blinked. "I guess you're right," He casually lifted the carton of milk close to his lips until Kurt released a noise of disapproval.
"Not in my house, Finnegan," Kurt pointed threateningly at his stepbrother. Finn promptly set the carton back down.
"But how long is this supposed to take?" Finn wondered aloud, heaving a sigh. His eyes lingered toward the calendar that hung on the small refrigerator in the corner of the kitchen. "I have to go back to school eventually."
Kurt scoffed and dropped his bagel against the plate, glaring at his stepbrother with a look that he hoped came across as affronted. "Excuse me, Finn. Are you putting a time limit on love?"
Blaine stared into his cereal bowl, biting his lower lip to suppress his laughter. Finn was instantly reduced to a bumbling mess, completely defenseless against Kurt's biting aggression. "Uh, well—I mean—no?"
"Let me tell you something, you dear, dear pathetic thing, you," Kurt crossed his legs and placed his clasped hands in his lap daintily. "Rachel is miserable without you—"
"—and a miserable Rachel Berry is not someone you want to live with," Blaine interjected.
"Precisely. Finn, you come all the way over here to win her back, she refuses to say even one word to you, and you're already talking about going home?" Kurt's voice rose in pitch as he continued to speak more and more passionately. He shook his head shamefully at his gaping stepbrother. "You're a disgrace to the Hummel-Hudson family."
Finn threw his arms into the air exasperatedly. "What am I supposed to do? You said it yourself—she won't talk to me!"
"Then make her," Kurt urged, squeezing his hands into tight fists of conviction. "I have seen all of the romance movies that Netflix and OnDemand have to offer—combined. Trust me on this one, Finn."
Finn shot a lost glance at Blaine who merely nodded in confirmation as he began idly flipping through the stack of mail that rested on the tabletop. "He really has."
"I don't really get it," Finn admitted feebly, keeping his gaze downward in shame.
Kurt sighed. "I'll make it simple for you—do not leave until Rachel is back in your arms."
Finn nodded in compliance despite his obvious hesitance. He knew better than anyone how stubborn Rachel could be. The mere task of getting her to glance in his general direction might take weeks to attain—and Finn didn't have that kind of time with school and football—
"Oh, my God," Blaine's low, incredulous voice broke the silence. He was staring, wide-eyed, at one particular letter that had been addressed to Kurt, Rachel, and himself. The envelope was a light pink color and the messy scrawl covering it looked vaguely familiar. Kurt leaned over in his chair to get a good look at the letter himself while Finn simply gazed upward, expectant.
"Dear Kurt, Rachel, and Blaine:
You are cordially invited to the engagement celebration of
Mike Chang and Tina Cohen-Chang.
April 15th, 2013 at Lima County Country Club (Lima, OH)
3:00pm to 7:00pm
Kurt reread the invitation a few more times before allowing his jaw to drop gracelessly. "Oh, dear lord…"
This piqued Finn's curiosity. He tilted his head to the side. "What is it?"
Both Blaine and Kurt looked up at Finn with matching expressions of disbelief—a rather comical sight if not for Finn's utter confusion. "Mike and Tina…"
"Are engaged!" Kurt finished, high-pitched with excitement. He clapped his hands together, bounced in his seat, and gripped Blaine's forearm with unintended force. "I knew it—I knew it—I totally called this one!"
"Engaged?" Finn repeated, moving toward the table and wedging his thick head in between Kurt and Blaine. His eyes scanned the letter with astonishment. "But…they're only eighteen—they're our age!"
"They're in love, Finn," Kurt narrowed his eyes at his stepbrother accusingly. "People make commitments to people they're in love with."
Finn's face flushed a deep scarlet as he leaned away from Kurt's admonishing glare. "You want me to propose to Rachel?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Kurt scoffed, crossing his legs gracefully. "I'm not saying I personally endorse Mike and Tina's decision—I mean, I don't intend to be married until I'm successful on my own right—but I must admire how serious they are about their relationship."
Finn's eyes glanced upward in thought so Blaine decided to chime in as well. "I think Kurt just means that you have to let Rachel know how serious you are about her."
There was a pause until Finn slowly began nodding absently, lost in thought. Kurt stood with the letter and hung it on the refrigerator with a magnet. "We should RSVP soon—I'm just so thrilled for them! Oh, I have to skype with Mercedes about this tonight!"
"I'm playing at the restaurant a couple extra hours tonight," Blaine informed his boyfriend, standing from the table to bring his coffee mug to the sink. "Double pay if I come in early."
"But first," Kurt began, swirling around with a devious yet ecstatic smile on his face. "You and I are going to Hugo Boss to get our complimentary designer suits fitted for the Gala!"
Blaine's eyebrows lifted. "Hugo Boss, huh?" He had a sinking hunch that Ren had something to do with this perk, but he kept his thoughts to himself—the last thing he wanted was to instigate another argument with Kurt.
"Well, of course," Kurt grinned. "We can't show up to the most fashionable social gathering of the year in just any old suit."
Finn glanced back and forth between Blaine and Kurt who were now exchanging flirty smiles at one another. The tall jock furrowed his brow. "What am I supposed to do while you guys are out?"
Kurt unwillingly broke away from his boyfriend's glance and heaved a frustrated sigh at his stepbrother. "Gee, I don't know, Finn. You could raid the fridge, sit on the futon and watch sports all day—the possibilities are positively endless."
Blaine rolled his eyes playfully at Kurt's sarcastic tirade and turned to Finn with a sly gleam in his eyes. "Or you could invite Rachel out for the day."
"Or you could invite her out of her bedroom for the day," Kurt suggested a bit callously. "Baby steps, you know."
Finn grumbled to himself. "I think either one would be a stretch…"
Glancing at the clock, Kurt made a beeline toward the sink where he rinsed his hands under the water and dried them against a paper towel. "Well, while you're facing that romantic dilemma, Blaine and I must leave for our fitting," The slender brunette took Blaine's hand and pulled him out of the kitchen. "We can't be late for our appointment."
"See you later, Finn," Blaine called out as he followed Kurt's lead by slipping on his coat and gloves. "We'll be back—when will we be back?"
"When we've found the perfect outfit," Kurt answered matter-of-factly as he swung open the front door. He arched his back slightly so that he could peer into the kitchen where Finn still stood aimlessly. "Be good, Finn!"
The tall jock heard the door slam shut, the light jingle of keys, footsteps and voices disappearing down the hall and, finally, silence. Finn glanced around the kitchen as if he were waiting for something to give him a sign—telling him what to do next. No such thing happened. Instead, the brawny football player sighed and slowly made his way into the living room. Rachel's door was still shut, as he expected, but Finn was thankful that he no longer heard sobbing from behind it. It appeared as if Rachel's depression had taken the form of rage over Finn's presence and, honestly, he didn't know which one was better.
Finn couldn't sit around and do nothing. Rachel was only a mere ten feet away from him—the only thing that separated them was a wooden door. He longed for her close proximity. He longed for her laugh, her smile, her voice, her touch… Finn needed her. So, with his head held high and his chest stuck out, Finn marched up to Rachel's closed door and issued three swift knocks to the locked barrier.
"Blaine, would you quit fooling around and come out of the dressing room, please?" Kurt huffed, adjusting his striped tie in the full-length mirror before him.
Shuffling could be heard from behind the curtain where Blaine changed, followed by a strange, muffled groan. Kurt lifted an eyebrow. "Blaine…?"
"Uh, Kurt," Blaine's voice began tentatively. "I don't really think this one fits."
Kurt spun around, unintentionally striking a pose in his newly fitted Hugo Boss suit. The slender brunette placed his hands on his hips and glared at the unmoving curtain. "Let me see."
Another soft groan could be heard, followed by a defeated sigh. In one swift motion, the curtain was pulled back and Blaine stood in the dressing room. The dark haired boy wore a grimace and a navy suit that was entirely too small for his frame. The sleeves stopped well above his wrists and the pants showed off far too much ankle to be deemed appropriate. The jacket was left hanging open in front of his chest after Blaine's many futile attempts to keep it fastened. He held out his arms unceremoniously while Kurt looked on with raised eyebrows and promptly shoved his fist into his mouth to muffle his oncoming laughter.
"I look ridiculous," Blaine deadpanned.
Kurt sputtered and scoffed behind his hand before giving up his charade. The slender brunette burst into a fit of giggles, stumbling backwards onto a large ottoman to steady himself. Blaine's grimace deepened.
"I told you it was too small," Blaine grumbled, turning to face the mirror.
Kurt's laughter continued. "I always knew you had an unhealthy affinity for high-waters, but this…"
"Okay, okay," Blaine shrugged the jacket off and tossed it over the rack of suits that waited by the dressing room. He turned back to face Kurt, a small grin spreading across his face in spite of himself. "That's enough humor at my expense."
A single eyebrow popped up to Kurt's hairline as his laughter subsided. "I never thought finding a suit too small for you would be an issue."
Blaine's mouth formed a perfect 'o' shape in mock offense. The dark haired singer placed his hand over his heart for added effect, letting the sound of Kurt's melodic giggle fill his ears yet again. With a scheming glint in his eyes, Blaine grabbed Kurt's hands and pulled him off the ottoman. "Oh, you're in trouble now."
Kurt squealed in delight and shock as Blaine's taught arms wrapped around his waist and lifted him off the ground, swinging him in circle. Blaine laughed into his boyfriend's neck, carrying him behind the curtain into the small dressing room. "Blaine! Oh, my gosh—you're insane!"
Their laughter weaved together harmoniously as Blaine playfully pinned Kurt against the wall. The pair remained like that for a while, breathing hard and flushed in the face from the excitement. Blaine's hazel orbs latched onto Kurt's own cerulean ones and his lips twitched upward in a soft smile. Kurt returned the gesture by leaning forward to eliminate the small amount of space between their lips and Blaine immediately melted at their gentle touch. He took a step forward to bring their bodies closer, chests pressed together and legs intertwining. Kurt could feel his back being pressed harder into the wall behind him as Blaine attacked his mouth with vigor. Soon, Kurt's lips parted ever so slightly and Blaine seized the opportunity to invite his tongue inside. Kurt breathed loudly out of his nose with pleasure, snaking his arms around Blaine's neck to keep their contact impossibly close.
A soft moan escaped Blaine's throat as their lips moved faster and hungrier against each other. Kurt used this brief opportunity of vulnerability to swing Blaine around—without breaking their kiss—so that he had him pinned against the wall instead. Blaine did not resist as Kurt pressed him against the hard surface behind him and continued to move his lips ravenously. The dark haired boy's breathing hitched as he felt Kurt's hips lightly begin to move against his own. Blaine was practically paralyzed from the sensations coursing through his body, but everything stopped just as Kurt's ringtone broke through the sounds of heaving breathing and moving lips.
"Oh," Kurt mumbled breathlessly, barely breaking the contact of their mouths. "That's mine…"
Blaine's lips left Kurt's motionless mouth and began trailing down his face to his neck, desperate to return to their previous ministrations. The ringtone sounded again, this time causing Blaine to break away and look Kurt in the eyes. "Should you…?"
"Yes," Kurt sighed regretfully, retracting his arms from around Blaine's neck. "I'm sorry…I'll just be a minute."
Blaine nodded once and removed his own arms as well, catching his breath as Kurt made a dash for his messenger bag. The slender brunette dug out his phone from one of the compartments after re-tucking his shirt into his pants. He slid a finger across the screen of his phone and held it up to his ear just before the final ring.
"Hello?" Kurt answered, only slightly out of breath. "Oh, hi, Ren…I'm at Hugo Boss getting my suit fitted for the Gala…yes, with Blaine. Why—oh, I see…"
There was a long pause as Kurt listened and Blaine narrowed his eyes.
"…uh-huh…oh, God, that's awful. I'm so sorry…of course. I'll meet you in twenty minutes," Kurt pulled his phone away as Blaine pushed himself off of the wall, sauntering out of the dressing room to find Kurt hastily gathering his things. Blaine swallowed and attempted to keep his tone nonchalant.
"Who was that?" He wondered innocently.
"It was Ren," Kurt replied as he yanked on the tie that lay around his neck. "Something about his ex being back in town… I don't know exactly. He sounded so distraught. I told him I'd meet him at the coffee shop in twenty—he needed someone to talk to—"
Kurt stopped what he was doing and glanced up at Blaine with a concerned expression. "Is that okay?"
"Of course," Blaine assured him, grinning at Kurt's avid compassion. "You should make sure he's alright."
Kurt's face contorted into deeper concern. "Are you sure? I just—we were—I feel bad…"
"Kurt, go," Blaine chuckled. "I'm serious—it's fine. I'll take care of the suit orders."
The brunette's eyebrows came together uncertainly. "Blaine…"
"Get changed and go catch a cab," Blaine ordered, ushering his hesitant boyfriend into the dressing room. "I'll take care of everything."
Kurt was back to looking flawlessly put together in his original clothes in record time. He slung his messenger bag over his shoulder before placing a chaste kiss on Blaine's cheek. "I'll call you when I'm done."
Blaine cracked a small, solemn smile. "I'm working early tonight, remember?"
"Oh…that's right," Kurt mumbled, staring at Blaine with wide blue eyes.
"It's fine," Blaine repeated, issuing an assuring squeeze to Kurt's hands. "Don't worry about waiting up for me tonight. Get some sleep, okay?"
Kurt nodded once and placed another kiss on Blaine's opposite cheek. "Thank you." With that, Kurt bolted toward the door and out onto the sidewalk. Blaine watched from the store window as Kurt hailed a cab and hopped inside. The yellow car took off among the sea of vehicles, becoming nearly unrecognizable.
Blaine stood alone in the dressing room as Kurt's cab disappeared out of sight, one moment closer to Ren.
A thin sheet of snow covered the grassy areas of Central Park and the trees stood tall and mighty without their leaves. Finn and Rachel walked silently down the shoveled pathway at a respectable distance apart, per Rachel's request. The air was dry, but this was not the cause of the choking sensation that was bubbling inside Finn's throat. Instead, it was the biting awkwardness that was practically tangible between the two teens. Finn shoved his hands in his jacket pockets and exhaled.
"…so how've you been?"
Stupid question, Finn, he scolded himself mentally.
"I mean, uh…besides…that,"
Rachel glared harder.
"Uh, shoot, I mean…" Finn winced at his own stupidity and released a sigh. "Never mind. I'll stop talking now."
Rachel tucked a lock of dark brown hair behind her ear as she stared at the ground. "I don't understand, Finn."
"Yeah, me neither," He mumbled uselessly.
The small brunette froze in her tracks, causing Finn to halt as well. She crossed her arms across her chest and pouted downward, away from Finn's gaze. "Why don't you just go home?"
Finn's mouth formed a straight line across his face. "I can't just leave knowing that you're this upset."
Finally, a flicker of Rachel's doe-like brown eyes flashed up at Finn, filled with curiosity and hurt. Her bottom lip trembled. "Why do you suddenly care so much?"
"I've always cared, Rachel," Finn told her plainly. "And I think I always will."
Rachel blinked helplessly, a heavy weight filling her chest. "It's easy to say that, but…you aren't willing to sacrifice—"
"Does it have to be all about sacrifice?" Finn wondered aloud.
"—I would sacrifice anything for you, Finn!" Rachel suddenly cried out, cheeks flushing with cold and conviction. "Why don't you realize that I love you that much? It kills me inside knowing that you weren't as committed to me as I was to you!"
Finn's mouth opened slightly at her outburst. His mind ran rampant in an effort to digest everything she had said when, suddenly, something clicked. "Wait…love?"
"Loved," Rachel corrected snippily, a stern look in her eyes. "I said loved."
The brunette continued down the pathway at a faster pace while Finn collected his thoughts. He broke into a jog to catch up to her stride. The football player stood in front of her, blocking her path with his arms out wide. Rachel flinched back. "Rachel, I'm here now. I came to prove to you that I am committed—I do care about you."
After a pause, Rachel lowered her head, mumbling to the cold ground. "But you aren't staying—you're just going to leave me again."
"New York's too big for me, Rach. It's meant for big dreamers like you. But…you gotta know," Finn spoke soft and took Rachel's mitten-clad hand in his own large one. "I'll always care about you—no matter where I am or how far away we are. I can love you all the way from Ohio."
Rachel blinked back the tears that were already making an appearance at the corners of her eyes. She yanked back her hand from Finn's who kept his tender expression.
"You have to concentrate on becoming a star," Finn told her. "No matter what kind of jerks try to cheat you."
"I told you," Rachel griped. "I don't ever want to sing again."
Finn's eyebrows came together. "That's crazy, Rachel. You can't do that."
"I can and I will," She affirmed. Finn's eyes were scanning the area. They had stopped by a large fountain that had been shut off during the cold winter months. Joggers with dogs ran by, families were strolling around the fountain's border, and a few couples could be seen on nearby benches. That's when the gears in Finn's unknowingly brilliant mind began turning. He grabbed Rachel's hand once again and led her onto the fountain's raised ledge, eliciting a cry from a hesitant Rachel.
"Finn!" She argued. "What are you doing?"
"I know you," Finn smiled. "I know that you can't resist the chance to perform for an audience."
Rachel's face scrunched into confusion so Finn gestured grandly to the people mingling around the fountain. Realization crossed the brunette's face as she began shaking her head violently. "No, no, Finn. I told you! I don't want to—"
"Just sing, Rachel," Finn instructed calmly, releasing her hand and stepping off the ledge. "Just one more time."
A cold breeze blew past Rachel as she stood alone on the raised ledge, overlooking her audience. It was true—Rachel Berry seldom refused the opportunity to sing for a crowd. Singing just felt so wrong now that her pride has been bruised… Regardless, Rachel could not refuse Finn's hopeful glance or the musical urge that was quickly bubbling inside her soul. With a deep breath, Rachel opened her mouth to sing for the first time in weeks.
"Skies are crying, I am watching,
Catching teardrops in my hands.
Only silence as it's ending like we never had a chance.
Do you have to make me feel like there's nothing left of me?"
Her voice sounded as clear and effortless as ever. As soon as the notes passed through her vocal chords, Rachel knew that this is what she was meant to do. Finn's eyes never left Rachel as she continued to sing, catching the attention of her makeshift audience members.
"You can take everything I have,
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass,
Like I'm made of paper.
Go on and try to tear me down,
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper.
Like a skyscraper…"
The imaginary music was blaring in Rachel's mind, soaring over the sounds of the bustling park. A group of onlookers had gathered by the fountain ledge, staring up at Rachel with wide eyes. Finn remained among the crowd. Closing her tear-filled eyes, Rachel continued.
"Go, run, run, run, I'm gonna stay right here,
Watch you disappear, yeah.
Go, run, run, run, yeah, it's a long way down,
But I am closer to the clouds up here.
You can take everything I have,
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass,
Like I'm made of paper, oh.
Go on and try to tear me down,
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper.
Like a skyscraper…"
Rachel's final note lingered in the air until it faded into nothing but a soft, beautiful memory. She opened her eyes to see a large group of passersby surrounding the ledge, clapping uproariously at the beauty of her performance. Stunned, Rachel watched as Finn made his way through the crowd and onto the ledge.
"See? You can't give up singing, Rachel," Finn told her pointedly, motioning out toward the audience. "Look at what your voice can do."
Rachel gazed over the audience once more, noting their moved and impressed expressions as the applause died down. The exhilaration inside Rachel's pounding heart could not be denied. She barely noticed when Finn took her hand again, but she did notice when his face began to inch down closer to her own. At first, she did not fight. Kissing Finn seemed as natural as singing to her, but that's when Rachel forced herself to pull away.
"I'm sorry, Finn," She whispered with scared eyes. The brunette pulled away and hopped off the fountain ledge, scurrying back down the path they had come from.
A/N: Mike and Tina! I totally think they'll get married one day. :) Their engagement party will get worked into the end of this story. And holy moly, can we talk about that Klaine scene real quick? Nothing like some dressing room action to make any Klaine fic complete, haha! But, alas, Ren is a cockblock once again… Rachel and Finn's scene is so sad. And that song ("Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato) gets me every time! Plus, Lea Michele would totally kill that song—not even funny. Why can't Rachel realize she belongs with Finn? Again, sorry about the long wait. I'll try to post more regularly from now on. However, the next chapter is pretty action-packed. It might take more time… but it's definitely gonna be one of my favorite chapters to write!
Thanks for reading! Next chapter coming soon!