Finally, finally, the end is here. Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed and acknowledged this fic, and I hope the wait was worth it. As for future endeavours, I'm going to take a break from writing multi-chapter fics, and instead focus on random drabbles and one-shots until I have the time to tackle something bigger. Sorry if I never got round to replying to any reviews that I got; let's just say that I have a terrible memory and I'm way too easily distracted. I appreciate every single comment, and I promise to reply to any that I might receive on the conclusion (if there's anything that's confusing at all, let me know and I'll try and clear things up, either in an email or an epilogue).
Thanks for everything you wonderful, wonderful people, and I hope it all makes sense!
Disclaimers: There are instances of violence in this chapter, along with the suicide of a minor character.
He stares at her because he can't quite believe that after all this time, she looks exactly the same. Her image had faded a little in his head, but God, she's so much prettier than he remembers.
A warmth floods through his body, and though he's not usually a shy person, he finds himself feeling self-conscious and shaky and-
He's fucking terrified, basically.
"You remember my name," he whispers at last, and Rachel doesn't laugh, or even crack a smile. He just stands there awkwardly as she storms towards him and slaps him across the face, and then her lips are on his, and he can't find it in himself to be pissed.
How could he be? He has Rachel again, and that's all he really needs.
He teases her mouth open and has to stop himself from grinding his hips against hers when their tongues meet, and fuck, damn, it's like coming home. Rachel tastes like fruit and happiness and security, and he definitely hasn't had that for a while.
He drags his teeth over her bottom lip and almost creams himself when she whimpers and tugs on his hair without mercy. Her fingers cling to him in the same way that he clings to her, and he's holding her waist so tightly that he's frightened he's gonna bruise her.
Regretfully, they have to break apart to breathe, but Finn keeps his forehead resting against hers, and they stare into each other's eyes like some soppy romantic comedy.
Holy crap though, he's missed those eyes. He smiles breathlessly, and Rachel smiles back, and then there are suddenly tears rushing down her cheeks, and he holds her against his chest as she lets out soft sobs.
"I know," he admits, and he kisses her hair while she gets it out of her system. "I know how you feel 'cause I'm feeling pretty emotional too. Can you believe it? Nine months apart. That's, like, a whole unborn baby." This elicits a giggle from her at least. "Talk to me, Rach. I've missed you, and there's so much to say that I don't know where to start."
"Sit on the bed with me." It's more of an order than a request, but Finn doesn't complain, and he sinks onto the mattress beside her, grinning at the fact that her feet don't even touch the ground.
"Do you wanna know anything specifically?" he starts, and Rachel bites her slightly swollen lip as she thinks.
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
Finn snorts with a laugh that makes her smile, even if she doesn't understand the joke. "I escaped near-death and disappeared without a trace, and the first thing you wanna know is that?"
"So sue me," she challenges, and he kisses the defiance from her face.
"No, I don't."
Rachel pouts and crosses her arms, and he knows he probably shouldn't find that adorable (he totally does). "I'm not your girlfriend?"
"We're really having this conversation? I haven't seen you in months!" He looks down at his hands. "For all I know, you could have a boyfriend who's gonna beat me up for kissing you."
"I do, and he's actually hiding under the bed."
He nearly looks, nearly, and he sees the laughter in Rachel's eyes before it spills from her lips.
"I really missed you," he says quietly, and she takes his hand and holds it protectively in hers.
"I missed you too, probably an unhealthy amount considering the circumstances."
He nods and bites his lip guiltily. "Did you think I was dead?"
"No." Her voice is strong, and he believes her, which warms up his heart. "This will sound completely ridiculous, but-" She takes a deep breath. "I could feel that you were still alive. If you'd... died, I would have felt it."
He kisses away the silent question of 'is that crazy?' because it's mad, it's undeniably insane, and yet it makes perfect sense to him. That's a bit like them though, isn't it? It was mad to fall in love with his hostage, and it's undeniably insane that they've been apart for so long, yet it doesn't feel like they've been apart at all. It makes perfect sense because he's Finn and she's Rachel, and that should be explanation enough; they fit.
When they finally break apart for air, Rachel threads her fingers through his hair while he all but purrs, and the silence is nice and comfortable and appreciated. God knows he's had enough of silence to last him a lifetime, but silence with Rachel is something else.
He apparently lets out a noise that sounds like a cat enjoying the sun, and as soon as she starts giggling, Finn finds himself laughing until tears run down his face.
"Finn." She cups his cheeks and kisses his nose, and it takes him a minute to realise that he's sobbing into her arms. His whole body shakes the bed and he knows he's getting her nice pyjamas wet, but Rachel doesn't complain, and simply rocks him back and forth as she sings a lullaby under her breath.
Before he falls asleep and crushes her, she invites him to stay the night, and he slips under the comforter, tucked up against her body. It feels like he hasn't slept properly in years, but when he's pressed up against Rachel, and when he hears her whisper 'I love you, Finn Hudson', he closes his eyes and doesn't have a nightmare.
He always has nightmares.
He wakes up to the sound of Rachel singing to herself, and God, he could get used to that. He sits up and rubs his eyes roughly with a yawn, and his jaw drops with the sight of Miss Berry on her elliptical machine.
"Good morning!" she says brightly, and her body sways back and forth in time with the machine.
Her boobs shake from side to side, but he's not staring, honest.
He nods with a crooked grin before resting back down against the pillows. "Very well, thanks. How 'bout you?"
She makes a big show about trying to think about it, and Finn playfully throws one of her stuffed animals at her head. "Be careful of Franklin!" she scolds, and she makes him kiss the bear on the head for hurting his feelings; he'd be embarrassed, if it wasn't for the almost evil glint in her eyes.
"I slept remarkably well, actually."
"Oh yeah?" He cockily raises an eyebrow. "And why was that?"
"Probably the sleeping pills." She winks and blows him a kiss, and he catches it and devours it like it's his last pretend meal (he can't get enough of the way she blushes). She steps off her machine and stretches her arms in the air, and he wonders if she's doing it just to torment him since her thin top rides up to reveal her stomach, and when he lets out a quiet groan, she definitely smirks.
Oh yeah, she knows what she's doing alright.
"Come here," he orders, and he pulls back the duvet so that she can slip in beside him.
"I'm all sweaty though."
"I don't care."
She beams before throwing herself into his arms, and they just stay like that for a while as he peppers kisses across her neck.
"It's my birthday today."
He stiffens, pretending he doesn't know, but he has his sources, and he came prepared; that's for later though. "Happy birthday baby."
She snuggles closer to him, her hands tracing patterns on his across his shirt-covered chest. "Will you..." He waits for her to finish her sentence, and it takes her a while, but that's okay. He knows this is just as strange for her as it is for him. He's been technically missing for nine months, and how does he even begin to explain it all to her?
"Will you tell me what happened?"
He nods a little and bites his lip. "Sure."
Finn did some things and then finally made his way back in time for a special girl's birthday.
Finn! I want details, from the very beginning!
Once upon a time, a woman called Carole Hudson had a baby, who-
Stop trying to be funny.
Where do you want me to start?
The... the crash, please.
He's aware of a lot of things, and at the same time, he hasn't a clue what the hell's happening. His head hurts (everything hurts) and there are loud noises everywhere, and he must be on autopilot or something 'cause somehow he's dragging himself away from the danger.
He doesn't remember the names of his friends or the reason why he feels like he's going to give in at any minute, and he doesn't remember where he is or why he's even there.
He remembers a face though, as the darkness takes over and he stumbles in the dirt, and when he falls and hits his head, he remembers the name of the face that smiles at him with her bright, beautiful everything.
Really? You were thinking about me?
You're ruining the story so can it, Berry.
"God, you really need to lose some weight," groans a voice, and Finn opens his eyes, groggy and feeling like absolute shit, to see blonde hair and red cheeks. She's out of breath as she continues to drag him along the ground by his arm, and he's suddenly aware of the-
"Ow, fuck, what are you doing?" He pulls himself out of her grasp, and taking her by surprise, she squeaks indignantly and falls backwards until he's no longer the only one sprawled across the ground. He rubs his arm and winces at the pain before glaring at the unwelcome presence. "Leave me alone, Quinn."
Quinn? The same Quinn who betrayed us?
Are you gonna keep interrupting all the time? You're putting me off.
He tries to stand, not realising his ankle is pretty fucked up, and the blonde just rolls her eyes when he crashes unceremoniously to the floor with a cry and a curse.
"I hope you enjoyed your trip; send me a postcard next time."
Finn weakly flips her the finger, but she only rolls her eyes again. "You hear to stab me in the back yourself? 'Cause I'm not really in the mood."
"No," she says coldly, "but the least you could do is give me the chance to explain."
"Oh yeah, sure, it's not like you ruined everything." He scrubs a hand over his face, and only then does he remember. "Puck, San, Britt- Are they okay?"
Quinn looks down at her nails like there are more important things in life than the wellbeing of his friends, but she nods all the same. "Yes, or at least, I think so. They were put into the ambulance before the truck blew up."
The truck blew up, huh?
"Yeah." She looks up at him, waiting for the question that never comes. "Well?"
"Don't you want to know why I pulled you away from there? Don't you want to know why I didn't leave you to be discovered by the police?"
Finn knows he should care, and to be honest, yeah, he should have asked that right away, but he shrugs like he doesn't give a damn. "I guess."
"I need your help."
Please tell me you're joking Finn, please. I don't think I want to hear anymore of this story. Is that why you didn't come back, because you were with her?
Yes and no, but you kinda- you need to hear it. It'll make sense eventually, and at least you know it's a happy ending, right?
Yes, I suppose you're right. I just can't believe she'd ask you such a thing.
"Help." He can't remember the last time he laughed so hard. Literally, tears are streaming down his face (partly because he's in a lot of pain), and Quinn's death-glare just makes it even funnier. "Help, sure, right."
"I'm being serious."
"Yeah, I know, and that's what makes it so ridiculous."
"If you'd just give me the chance to-"
"No." The laughter's gone now, replaced with hostility, because it's not even funny, is it? If this girl hadn't given their position up to the boss, he'd still be with Rachel now, possibly in the clear, and yet he's not, and he feels resentment sting at the back of his throat and eyes. "I know I'm supposed to be the good guy, the one who doesn't like to see people getting hurt, but you've gotta be kidding me."
Quinn clenches her jaw and stares him down, but he doesn't feel anything apart from pure hatred. "I had to do it for my daughter."
"Did it work, then?" The brief flash of pain across her face says it all. "That's great, that's really- You sold us out for nothing."
"I had to do it for my daughter."
"You've already said that."
"You love Puck, don't you?"
Her question catches him off guard, for a second. "He's my brother."
Quinn smiles; he knows he's not gonna like this. "Then you have to help me."
"I don't have to do anything!"
She sits forward and doesn't even flinch when she brushes a spider from her skirt, and Finn suddenly remembers that they're still sitting on the ground, and it's pretty damn uncomfortable. "Remember when I told you that our boss wasn't just going to let this drop? He may have tried to have you taken out, but he didn't, which means that Puck is still in danger."
He doesn't say anything to that. He half wondered himself if this was gonna be the end, but he almost laughs at his stupidity; this just doesn't seem like the kind of guy you could outsmart. "And?"
"And that means you need to kill him before he kills you."
Despite the throbbing pain in his ankle, Finn drags himself up and walks away from the blonde girl because he's had enough with all of this crap. He just wants to go home so he can hug his mom.
He just wants to see Rachel again.
"Wait for me."
"Finn, slow down."
"You need to think rationally here."
It's a really long, boring journey to God knows where.
How long did she follow you for?
About a day. She kept trying to talk to me, and I ignored her, but it wasn't as if I could outrun her or anything.
Would you skip to the part where you agreed to help her?
How'd you know I'd say yes?
Because you wouldn't want to let her down, no matter what she'd done, and you love Noah.
He finally lets her catch up the next day. Okay, so it wasn't like she couldn't keep up with him, but he stops and turns to look at her, and she flashes him a grateful smile, however brief.
"So you have a plan, right?"
"Sort of." He blows out in frustration. "Is it gonna be dangerous?"
They find an off road diner to eat in, though he doesn't order anything. He has a sickness in his stomach that can't be cured, and he turns his nose up when Quinn orders a plate stacked mountain high with bacon and eggs.
She tells him calmly that they have to sneak into the boss's 'hideout' and kill him, and while his jaw hangs open on horror, she slurps at her milkshake.
Kill him? Finn...
I know Rach, believe me, I know.
"It's the only way."
"Killing someone can't be the only solution!" He almost yells it, but he doesn't wanna be kicked out; at least it's warm.
"I've been thinking about it for a while, and we don't have a lot of choice."
"But we have some, right? We have some choice."
She nods with a smile. "Of course; hand to hand combat or a gun? I'm not picky."
When the waitress's back is turned, Quinn darts out of the diner (it only just occurs to him that they have no money), and he hurries after her. He vows to come back and pay the bill when he can.
Rachel kisses his cheek before he can continue, and she jumps out of bed with a smile on her face. "How about you tell me the rest later? After breakfast at least, since my dads will want to meet you."
Finn freezes, a look of horror on his face, because he wasn't expecting to meet her parents so soon. He still kidnapped their daughter, and no matter how things turned out, he's pretty sure they hate his guts.
"Um, maybe I should wait up here until you're done..."
"Finn." Her voice is stern, and with her hands on her hips, she reminds him of his mom a little. She's in control, and that means he doesn't exactly have a choice. "It is my birthday, after all."
"Damn," he moans, "you're using that against me already?"
Smiling sweetly, Rachel simply nods. "Of course I am! Now come on, I don't have all day."
He feels like a mess, wearing the clothes he slept in, but Rachel insists that her dads won't mind, and that they'll be eager to learn all about him.
He's never had a dad before. His father was killed when he was a baby, and so he's never really learnt had to deal with them, you know? Moms are different and nice and friendly, but dads are something else entirely, and yeah, he'll admit it, he's terrified.
"Wait here," she whispers, and she kisses him briefly before skipping into the kitchen, while Finn just stands in the hallway, admiring the house.
It's big, and not just big, big big. It makes sense, since they're millionaires and all, but to see it with his own eyes... It must be nice to have money.
There are suddenly raised voices, and out of nowhere, a man appears beside him and pins him to the wall. He's even taller than Finn is, and he resists the urge to struggle as he hears Rachel pleading for her daddy to let him go.
He does when his daughter starts crying, and Finn stumbles backwards as another man arrives to stare him down.
"Rachel, please go into the living room."
"Now." The tallest of the two, a man wearing glasses and a distrusting glare, snaps his head towards Rachel, and she retreats with a whimper while her other dad follows after her."I'm Hiram Berry," announces her daddy, "and I have one question for you, and one question only. Do you love my daughter?"
"Yes," he says without hesitating, and despite how nervous he is, his voice is strong and confident (even though he doesn't feel like either of those).
"Good, because she hasn't stopped talking about you since the incident, and I don't want her birthday ruined." He holds out his hand, and unbelievably, the guy starts to smile. "Welcome home, Finn."
"Th-thank you sir." They shake on their new found 'friendship', and when Hiram offers him a plate of fresh waffles, who is he to say no?
"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?"
"I guess it could have been worse." Finn follows Rachel obediently back to her room after surviving breakfast with the Berrys, and since he's still in one piece, he considers it a victory. "Do you think I passed the test?"
"Oh yes, definitely. Daddy, especially, seems very taken by you."
Finn wrinkles his nose as he sits beside her on the bed. "I dunno Rach, he's a little too old for me."
She giggles as she playfully pokes him in the side, and he pats his lap until she crawls into it and leans against him to listen to the sound of his heart.
"The rest of your story," she begins, and he makes a noise of acknowledgment in the back of his throat, "can you summarise it for me? The more time I spend with you, the more I realise that I don't really want to dwell on what's happened."
He purses his lips, because it's not that easy. His story is a long one, a dangerous one at times, and he's not convinced he can explain it in a condensed format.
"We travelled by foot for a while," he says quietly, and she draws circles on his chest with her finger. "We didn't have any money to get a bus or cab or anything, and I looked like a mess from the accident anyway, so people probably would have been suspicious."
"Naturally," she nods, and he nods in tandem with her.
Finally, after what feels like too long, they arrive at the base of the boss. Finn's an old school romantic, and he expected it to be some huge villain hideout, like in James Bond or whatever, but it's a gym.
Seriously, a gym and he considers laughing at how ridiculous it looks.
"Don't you think there's a reason he's situated here?" Quinn sighs in exasperation as she massages her temple. "Honestly, why you were ever hired is beyond me. Does this look like the lair of some criminal mastermind?"
"No," he responds flatly.
"Exactly, which means that he's hidden away from idiots like you; you were no doubt expecting moats filled with killer sharks."
What a very rude girl.
Tell me about it.
"So, the plan."
She squints up at the sun. "Yes, the plan."
Silence. "Are you gonna share it, or what?"
"Maybe... You're really testing my patience."
"Follow my lead."
And so he does, against his better judgement. They're buzzed into the building when Quinn says the 'secret code' and-
What was it?
Is that some kind of euphemism?
I have no idea what that means.
A word substituted for another that may be considered a little too blunt or offensive.
So you think it stood for the pink, spiky penis?
Never mind, please continue.
They're buzzed into the building when Quinn says the 'secret code', and with nothing but a warning of 'act like you're a dick who's capable of being evil', he strides down the hallway by Quinn's side, his whole body on fire with excitement. The adrenaline pumping around his body makes him feel alive, which is ironic, considering he could be dead before the day is over.
Did you really believe that?
I thought you were gonna let me tell my story?
I will, I promise, but did you think... were you worried you were gonna die?
That I wasn't spending my last day on Earth with you.
Rach, you okay?
Y-yes, I'm just... Carry on.
Now they're inside, it's obvious that the gym look is just a front. If anything, the place is more like a hospital, and the smell that seems to take permanent hostage of his nostrils is a mixture of bleach and antiseptic that does little to put him at ease.
He jumps when a voice hisses out the blonde's name, and he glances around the surroundings to try and locate the person.
A door opens into a darkened room, and before Finn can ask if it's such a good idea, Quinn's dragging him inside as she clutches his hand too tightly in her own.
It's dark, and that's pretty much all he knows. The door closes, and though Quinn doesn't break the contact, he feels alone, and it hits him like a bullet.
Quinn's voice. "Is this necessary?"
'Matt's' voice. "Yeah, I'm not supposed to be here."
Finn strains his eyes, but no such luck; he can't make out the guy.
"I appreciate this." Quinn's voice again.
"Don't mention it, you're both my friends."
Finn furrows his brow. "I know you?"
"It's Matt Rutherford," scolds the blonde, as if he's supposed to be able to recognise people in the dark, and though it takes him a moment to register the name, when it clicks, it clicks.
"M-Matt? What are you doing here?"
"Helping you guys out," he laughs, and a hand pats his shoulder in the shadows. "We need to go. I know where Beth is, but if you're gonna take the boss out, you'll need to act fast."
How did you know him?
He's one of the guys who we used to work on the small jobs with.
How did he know what you were doing?
Berry, you're doing it again.
"How do you know what we're up to?"
Quinn scowls. "Does it matter? The details aren't important right now. You heard him; we need to act fast, and at this rate, you're only going to slow me down."
"That's it!" he snaps, and though he can't see her, he feels Quinn jump, somehow. "Stop treating me like an idiot! I don't like you, and the more you act like a bitch, the more I find myself hating you, so shut up!"
There's brief silence until she snorts with a laugh, and even Matt has the balls to chuckle.
"Okay Finny," she says in her nasally voice, "duly noted. We have to leave."
He's dragged back into the hallway, and passing random strangers, each wearing the same glazed-over look, they stop in front of an office marked 'Sylvester'.
"Like the cat?" he asks numbly, and both Matt and Quinn ignore him.
"Good luck." They kiss each other's cheeks, and the kid holds his fist out until Finn bumps his own against it.
Then he's gone, and Quinn barges into the room.
I was too, and I really thought I was gonna pass out.
"Why hello Q, what a pleasant surprise."
To be honest, he wasn't sure what to expect. An evil Russian scientist, a bald guy holding a cat, a man in some dumb costume, they were all things that came to mind, but not this.
The voice is female.
"Sue," says Quinn in a cold manner, and Finn gulps as the chair in the middle of the room begins to turn, revealing a blonde woman wearing a tracksuit.
Yeah, you can't make this stuff up.
"This your latest fuck buddy?"
"That's none of your business."
The woman smiles, and Finn's never been more terrified of a smile before. "So you won't mind if I ask Azimio to shoot him, then?"
The click of a gun reverberates around the room, and Quinn's calm facade cracks as she grabs his hand. "You don't want to do that."
"Oh believe me, I do," chuckles Sue, and Finn has to look away from her while he can. It takes him a while to notice the hundreds of trophies lining the room, and though the light is dim, it reflects off of them all, causing the same effect as a disco ball.
"There's a reason we're here." Quinn glances up at him, gives him the smallest of smiles, and takes a step forward. "His name is Finn Hudson." If Sue recognises his name, she doesn't react to it, and merely raises an eyebrow while she waits for Quinn to continue. "He's Will Schuester's protégé."
Everything changes in an instant. The mention of his old Spanish teacher catches him off guard, since he has no clue what the guy has to do with anything, and Sue reacts by letting out a deafening yell.
Who is Will Schuester?
Before I had to drop out of school, I went to McKinley High. It was a dump. Except for one thing, one person, and that was Mr Schue. Even though he knew that most of the kids at school were trouble, he tried so hard to save us.
You were his protégé?
I think so, I mean, I'm not entirely sure what that word means...
It means to take someone under your wing, so to speak, and to look out for them and educate them in a certain way.
Oh, I get it. I guess it was like that. He was just an awesome teacher, and he saw the potential in me that I couldn't see myself, you know?
He doesn't dignify that with an answer, mainly because he can't open his mouth to say anything.
"He is." Quinn keeps her eyes firmly ahead, and Finn's forced to just go with it; it's not as if he has a lot of options. "And you can have him if you meet my demands."
"W-what?" he splutters. "Quinn, what the hell are-"
A shot rings through the room, and it takes him a moment to realise that there's a bullet in his leg.
You were shot?
Didn't I just say that?
You don't need to be so flippant about it! Oh my God, you poor little baby, I can't believe it.
He collapses to the ground, and Quinn's confident facade falters as she kneels beside him and presses a hand to his cheek. "You didn't need to hurt him!"
"His voice irritates me," says Sue with a shrug, and she nods to the hidden sniper in the room while Finn feels himself drifting in and out of consciousness. Getting shot; that's a new experience to say the least. "What do you want for him?"
"I want four people to go free." He doesn't hear the rest, because everything turns into darkness, and the pain disappears.
He yawns and wraps an arm around Rachel's body before pressing kisses along her neck.
"No way," she gasps, "you cannot leave it there and expect me to be okay with- oh, Finn, a little lower, please."
After an impromptu make out, they've changed positions, and Rachel runs a hand up and down his leg when he shows her the scar from the bullet. She doesn't say a lot, but kisses it a few times while he groans, and runs her finger along the scarred tissue. He takes a deep breath.
He wakes up in a cage, like literally, a cage, and he can smell blood.
His leg throbs like a mother fu-
Oh, yeah, he was shot.
Shit, that hurts like hell, unsurprisingly. He tries to move his leg, but coupled with a still-healing ankle, he's not that successful.
Quinn's nowhere to be seen, but then again, neither is Sue. He's on his own, in a cage, and he misses home.
He tries to remove the bullet himself, and ends up passing out again.
I don't think I like this story.
Happy ending, remember? The handsome hero gets to make out with the princess, so it can't be all bad.
He comes to when he feels a throbbing pain in his leg, and he opens his eyes to see a stranger stitching it up. He panics and kicks out, and in retaliation, she prods him with a very sharp pair of scissors.
"Stop squirming or I might accidentally cut your leg off." She pauses. "And when I say accidentally, I don't really mean it."
He's done asking questions, and at least she's helping with his wound and everything.
Then it clicks.
"You're Terri Schuester."
"Del Monico," she hisses, "it's Del Monico."
He rubs his eyes, saying nothing. She says nothing too, and she leaves his cage (seriously) while he just stays there, awkwardly sprawled across the floor. He cries because he misses his mom and he misses his Rachel.
You're making me cry.
He wakes again when Terri comes back with a plate of something inedible, and it's only then that it dawns on him that karma really exists (even if he's not completely sure he understands it). Seriously though, he kidnapped a girl, and now he's being put through the same kind of torture.
He totally deserves it.
No, no, you did not deserve that kind of treatment.
You're just saying that.
Because it's true.
"I'm the Honey Badger," she says as she tries to spoon feed him some colourless slop, and he resists as best he can. "Have you ever seen one of those bad boys? Overly vicious and mean." She laughs, and he recoils. "She'll get what she wants, she always does."
His head hurts because he doesn't understand anything.
I'm so sorry, Finn. I was home, warm and safe, and you were in a hell hole.
Hey, that's not your fault, and it's not you who needs to apologise. Can I... Can I ask you a question?
Were you happy?
...no. No because all of my time was spent worrying about you.
He wakes up and his head is still hurting. He lets out a groggy moan as he tries to take in his surroundings, and suddenly he remembers where he is, and sits up abruptly. Terri is still there, flipping through a magazine on the other side of the cage; he has no clue what to say.
"Can I get you anything to eat?"
"No, but you can let me out."
She laughs under her breath. "Nice try sweetie, but I'm afraid you're going to be here for a while. So, would you like anything to eat?"
He gives her a dry smile. "Steak, medium rare."
"You're cute," she chuckles, and she shakes her head whilst turning the page. "But that's not going to help you." She looks up for a second, and when he catches her gaze, he's surprised she's evil, or whatever the hell she is. She looks relatively kind, and he wonders what she has to do with anything.
"You and Mr Schue got a divorce, then?"
The smile on her lips turns into a sour pout, and she almost rips a page as she turns it. "Why do you care?"
"He used to talk about you a lot." He rubs his leg and lets out a groan. "He seemed happy."
"Things change," snaps Terri, and she glares him down while he winces in discomfort. "Stop being a baby, I dropped some pain medication into your mouth while you were snoring."
He doesn't know whether or not to believe that, but he stops complaining nonetheless. He has a lot of questions to ask, and he needs her to be in a good mood to answer them.
"What happened to Quinn?"
She continues to flick flick flick through her magazine. "She left in exchange for you, with the guaranteed safety of her friends."
He raises an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Oh." She mmms and aaahs over some article, and he rolls his eyes.
"I mean oh, who were they?"
Terri presses a finger to her lips, and Finn cocks his head. She reminds him of Quinn, actually. She's pretty, blonde, and from the looks of things, ruthless. "Some boy called Noah, two of Sue's girls, and..."
"Rachel Berry?" he offers, and she nods. "You sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure." There's more silence as she intently reads her magazine, and Finn has time to go over the thoughts in his head. Quinn thought to look out for Rachel, and though no doubt she'll want something from him in the future, he's grateful for that, and he doesn't feel so bitter about being locked up anymore. Hey, if it was a choice between his safety or Rachel's, he'd choose hers every time.
I really want to kiss you right now, but I don't want to distract you from the story.
(They fit in fifteen minutes of make out before he continues.)
Terri leaves a few hours later with the promise of something edible, but he's not holding out too much hope. As the door closes, and he's left alone, he tries to stand up, only to cry out in pain as he clings to the bars of the cage.
There's no hope, is there? Even if he somehow manages to escape, he'll be detected straight away if he can barely walk.
The door opens, and the woman from earlier, Sue, walks inside, wearing a different coloured tracksuit.
"Enjoying the five star accommodation, Hudson?"
A leering smile spreads across her face. "That's what I like to hear. Now, I'm gonna lay some info on you, and if you can't give me what I want, I'll just have you killed, okay?"
"Are you the boss? I thought he was a guy."
She waves him off with a scoff. "He was just one of my minions who thought it would be fun to kidnap a snotty rich girl. They get a kick out of their power plays, and I get the finances to continue on my quest." She leans in towards the cage, eyes narrowed as a leer pulls at her lips; she's scary as hell. "My quest is where you come in."
Finn yawns and rubs at his eyes while Rachel stares at him, entranced, waiting.
He shrugs. "Well what?"
"Continue, I need to hear more!" She folds her arms with a huff, causing Finn to chuckle to himself. "Who was Sue? What did she have to do with your Spanish teacher?"
He yawns again, and Rachel playfully slaps his arm. "Long story short, she used to work at McKinley alongside Mr S before I ever went there. They didn't have any problems or whatever, until Mr Schue failed one of her cheerleaders because she couldn't spell her own name or something."
With a tut, Rachel shakes her head. "How awful."
"Sue started a vendetta against him as payback, but things got out of control. She was fired after she started threatening him, like, properly, and that was that."
"But it wasn't."
"No, not even close."
As Sue finishes her Will Schuester tirade, she drinks from some kind of smoothie in her hand while Finn stares down at his shoes; he really needs new ones.
"The Honey Badger worked for me for a while behind enemy lines, gathering information and passing it onto me."
"Why?" He finally looks up at her, his jaw tight. He doesn't remember a lot of things, but he remembers Mr Schue being a happily married man.
"I told her that he'd been making googly eyes at the ginger guidance counsellor, and she ate it out of the palm of my hand. I don't know if it was true or not, and frankly I don't care, but she messed up anyway and Schuester asked for a divorce." She sucked loudly, obnoxiously, on her drink until she'd finished every last drop. "She's been working for me ever since. It's not all bad news though; I'm pretty sure she's screwing Sergeant Handsome, but I've yet to find proof."
And then she leaves, not actually asking him for anything. Terri visits later on, giving him some vitamin D tablets so he doesn't become sunlight deficient or whatever.
He sees Sue now and again. What she wants isn't clear, but it's obvious she's obsessed with getting Mr Schue back for something. She asks him question after question about the Spanish classes he used to go to, but in all honesty, he doesn't remember most of it. Come on, he found school boring, how was it his fault if he fell asleep most days?
The next time he sees her (he's lost track of the days), her eyes are rimmed red and her hair is a mess.
She's also holding a gun in a very unstable grasp as she points it at him, wobbling all over.
"He killed her!"
Finn holds his hands up. As clichéd as it sounds, everything slows down.
He can feel his heart racing to pump blood through his panicking body. He can hear the thump thump thump as he struggles to breathe. He can see the name of a girl fall from Sue's lips.
"I needed those Cheerios to pay for my sister," she yells. Her voice is croaky, almost unrecognisable, and she can't keep herself steady. "I needed the team to win Nationals, but he flunked them, almost every single one of them. We didn't even place, didn't even win a few thousand dollars."
There's a snap as she removes the safety catch, and Finn prays to a God he doesn't believe in.
"She died, died because I couldn't pay for the hospital bills. But who can in this side of town?" She laughs a laugh void of anything other than pain. Finn's not exactly sure who she's talking about, but he feels the hurt radiating off her. "She died because Will Schuester was too good of a teacher to let my girls pass a Spanish class."
"It wasn't Mr Schue's fault!" he blurts out, and she lowers the gun for a moment (only a moment though, when she aims for his head again). "It's... it's society's. Yeah, it's society. The rich are only interested in helping the rich. I know, I know, because I had to do the shittiest of things just to pay for food for me and my mom."
Suddenly everything snaps in to place, for the most part. As scary as it is, they're all in the same boat; people go to desperate measures for those they love. Sue, she built up some kind of empire to get money because it was a lack of the stuff that saved the girl she was talking about, and it helps to just blame anyone. He remembers Puck blaming the Berrys for having so much money, 'cause it was just easier to have something solid to direct your frustration at.
Sue doesn't hate Mr Schue; she hates the injustice of Ohio.
"What do you do with your money now?"
She falters, and a dreamy, almost distant smile flickers on her face. "I donate it all to organisations helping those with Downs'." She nods, lowering the gun. "For my sister, for Jean."
Her wrist snaps upwards and a bullet sails straight through her head.
Rachel wraps her arms around Finn as her tears seep into his shirt. He gets it; he cried too. He helped Terri move the body, helped console the woman until some guy called Dustin could be there to hold her, and then it was chaos. There was a scramble for the money she'd left behind, for authority, and no one really noticed when he walked out of the building.
"Except one guy," he whispers, and she looks up at him, slightly bewildered.
"The boss, the man who made you kidnap me... He followed you?"
He manages to make it outside. He blinks, blinks again, rubs his eyes and winces, because as dumb as it sounds, he forgot what sunshine looked like. He has to take slow, careful steps so that his leg doesn't drop off, and yeah, it's a fucking pain.
It's a real pain. Regardless though, he manages to pull himself long enough to get out of sight of the gym, and then he's free, completely.
"You don't get to quit on me like that, F42."
A fist collides with his nose before he can even blink. There's a searing pain in his face as a worrying crack emanates the air, and he flies backwards, hitting his head on the wall of someone's house. He's big, sure, and usually he can take on anyone (not that he takes pride in that), but his leg throbs and his nose hurts and everything starts to spin around him.
He can't make out a face, but he can make out another hand as it slams into his cheek.
Pain, a lost tooth, blood and a yell and a curse and a readiness to give up. The man goes for the kill, his foot ready to kick his head in, until there's a yell and a curse that isn't Finn's, nor is the blood that splatters onto his shirt, dripping onto the sidewalk beneath him.
All he can make out is a mop of blonde hair.
"Quinn?" he breathes numbly, trying to stay awake. "Quinn?"
"Still as intelligent as ever."
Another crack, another groan that isn't his, and Finn passes out to the sight of Quinn strangling some guy to death.
He would help, you know, if he could keep his eyes open.
He wakes up when something starts tugging on his hair. He tries in vain to slap away the hand, but it's smaller, much smaller than his.
It takes him a while, but he manages to open his eyes, coming face to face with a toddler that looks just like Quinn. It's... unnerving to see the greens of her irises in the face of a little kid.
"Finally," says her nasally voice. He watches as she pulls the kid away and kisses its head. He doesn't know where they are, but it's fancy looking. The ceilings are really tall and everything looks kind of extravagant and expensive, especially the bed that he finds himself sprawled across.
He sits up and throws his fist down onto the mattress (it probably would have had more impact if it wasn't the softest thing he'd ever felt). "You abandoned me," he hisses, and she doesn't say anything, only nodding. "I hate you." He lays back down to stare up at the ceiling once more; not a cobweb in sight.
"Are you done?"
"Bitch," he mutters under his breath, and he can see Quinn smirking from the corner of his eye.
"No thanks to you."
"No, thanks to me, actually. He was going to kill you, if you'd care to remember."
His head is fuzzy and he can't really remember what he's supposed to be, you know, remembering. His head hurts and his face feels bruised, and his leg is still throbbing like a bitch. "You, uh... murdered him?"
He looks up this time, properly, to judge her reaction. She diverts her gaze to the girl in her arms, who keeps waving around a stuffed monkey. "No, actually." She stares at him, then, and her eyes pierce his soul like they always do. "I was going to, but I didn't think you would have wanted that, not really."
"Did you call the police?"
She shifts uncomfortably in her chair. "Yes. They arrested him, and to avoid going to jail, a few of Sue's henchmen provided enough evidence for him to go away for a long time." She kisses the blonde hair of her kid. "He's not coming out anytime soon."
"What about her, Sue?"
"She's going to be buried next to her sister."
"I guess everything worked out then."
Her daughter starts cooing to fill the awkward silence that fall upon them. "Then we all lived happily ever after."
It's nearing the end of the day, just like the end of his story. She doesn't ask him where they're going when he takes her out in her dads' car (their treat, so at least it means they already trust him), and he appreciates that.
It's December, which means it's cold, but he still has a destination in mind.
She sings a little. Her cheeks pink and her eyes close, and she joins along with the radio, putting so much emotion into every word that Finn has to discreetly wipe his eyes.
She's good, dude.
It's quarter to twelve when they pull up outside McKinley high school. He can tell by the slight crease of her forehead that she doesn't know where they are, but why would she? She's from the good side of Lima.
"Come on." He helps her out of the car and straightens the woolly hat on her head. With her big coat, her thick scarf, and a light up 'Happy 18th!' badge on her chest, she's never looked more beautiful.
She slips her mittened hand into his bare one as they silently walk towards the main entrance. It's empty, obviously, and Finn pulls a set of keys from his pocket before unlocking the doors. He lets Rachel in first ("Thanks Finn, you're so chivalrous!") and follows closely behind, keeping a hand on her back the whole time.
"There's a question you've been wanting to ask for a while," he says casually, Rachel squeezing his hand in response. He breathes in, the smell of dust and books and a place he'll never forget. "I know what it is already."
"How long did it take for you to escape?"
His lips twitch with a smile. "Less than a month."
"There was a reason you didn't come back."
He snorts as he tugs her down the hallway, passing the principal's office, an old haunt of his. "You don't believe that."
She shoots him a bashful smile as she dips her head. "I know."
"Any other guesses?"
"Abducted by aliens?"
"Not that I remember."
"Too frightened to show your face?"
He stops at the tinge of sadness in her voice. He's seen her vulnerable before, but not like this. She bites her lip before beaming at him, but her smile doesn't reach her eyes.
They reach the auditorium, and just like he'd left it, the picnic is spread across the small wooden stage, looking onto a few hundred seats.
Rachel gasps. She stands there in shock, leaving Finn to light the countless candles scattered around the room. It's a little creepier than he thought it'd be, but Rachel's eyes are even darker than the auditorium, so he figures he's done good.
He pours them both glasses (pink champagne because she can legally drink in Europe and they're celebrating after all) and they toast to being happy as they lick the bubbles from their lips and smack them together, eyes on eyes.
"I didn't come back because I came here," he starts. He runs a finger around the rim of his glass, smiling when it rings. "I wanted, still want, to graduate high school."
He feels embarrassed all of a sudden, like Rachel will look down on him for being a screw up, but she doesn't say a word, save for the single tear that runs down her nose and drips into her glass.
"I couldn't face anyone, my mom or Puck, except Mr Schue. He welcomed me back and promised to help me get back on my feet, and he's been letting me sleep on his couch." He sighs, messing up his hair as he bites his lip. "I'll have to attend summer school, but I can graduate."
There are tears in Rachel's eyes that he brushes away the pad of his thumb. "I want to make something of myself. I want to leave Ohio and be someone I can be proud of." His cheeks blush with colour as he dips his head. "I want to be someone you can be proud of."
Then silence. More silent tears stream down Rachel's face while Finn just sits and waits for some kind of reaction. It was hard enough showing up on his mom's new doorstep to tell her that he's been safe all these months, but this is even harder, somehow.
She places a hand on his chest to feel the beat of his heart against her fingertips. She smiles, angelic, lips and eyes glistening, and she sighs, her eyelashes brushing over her cheeks. "I was a spoilt, lonely little girl who had no idea how lucky I was until I was kidnapped." Finn winces harshly, but she continues regardless. "You changed me in all the ways I needed to be changed, Finn Hudson. In finding you, I found self worth, self understanding..." She takes his hands in her own, and despite how shitty he feels, his stomach does back flips when she brushes her lips over his palm. "I found love."
"I think I finally get what that Rihanna song is about," he chuckles, and when she quirks an eyebrow, he wipes at his cheeks. "Love in a hopeless place; that's gotta be a metaphor for falling in love with the girl you kidnap."
Their lips meet for a slow kiss that he savours in the very soul of his being. They're both crying, but hell, he's just emotional, alright? It doesn't make him a pansy or anything.
They have to break away for air eventually, so Finn takes that as his cue to give her his gift. It's five minutes until midnight, so he's just in time.
"Here." He lifts a small box out of the picnic basket, which has a ribbon around it (that took almost as long to tie as it took him to pick the damn thing out in the first place). "Happy birthday, Rach." She opens her mouth to protest, but he beats her to it. "Puck kept me informed, and as a thanks for telling me, I gave him Quinn's phone number. Last I heard, they're gonna try and raise Beth together."
She presses a hand over her heart, mirroring what Finn feels in his own. He doesn't like Quinn, not really, but he has a certain level of respect for her. She went to huge lengths to try and get her baby back, and that's kind of admirable; he'd do the same for Rachel, without a doubt.
As for his best friend, he's happy for him. It's weird to imagine himself with a kid, but being a father really suits Puck. He's back on the straight and narrow, a steady income and a family to look after, and he's gonna be okay.
He hands Rachel the box, which she stares at in shock.
"I would let you take all the time in the world and stuff, but you only have four minutes left of your birthday."
"Oh, right, sorry." She laughs at the goofy look on his face, and with a sucked in breath, she opens the box, peeling away the wrapping paper until she's gazing down at the heart shaped necklace that cost him a hell of a lot more than it should have. "Finn..."
"After everything that happened at the gym, Quinn got her hands on a lot of money and gave half of it to me, so don't feel guilty if-"
Her lips cut him off along with a hand that cups him through his jeans, and he blinks a few times with a gulp at the look she's giving him.
"Thank you Finn."
"I love you."
She shuffles over until she's sitting in his lap, cradled against his chest as he runs his hands up and down her back, and she hums contentedly under her breath as she whispers an "I love you too."
"The necklace is supposed to be a metaphor," he whispers into her hair. "You stole my heart from the very beginning, so you might as well keep it around your neck."
You are the best one of the best ones. We all look like we feel.