A/N: Title and inspiration from Uncharted by Sara Bareilles. Inspiration and spoilers from episode 3X01 – The Purple Piano Project. You might not want to read if you haven't watched. Please, as always, drop me a line and let me know what you think. It's always much appreciated.
Disclaimers: I don't own Glee or this song or anything else, really. I've said before and I'll say again: my sand but not my sandbox.
Never Knew How Much I Didn't Know
The knock on his door should probably make him pause his video game, but it totally doesn't. Even though his back is to the door. Besides…wasn't the door closed anyway? It was supposed to be. He needs to blow of some steam after this lame day and the brutal workout in weights class wasn't enough to do it. It was like the fourth day of school so there was basically no homework except signing a bunch of crap that outlined all the work he was gonna have to do (ignore).
There was no way he was leaving this shithole with an attitude like that. It was just hard to care when Rachel and Kurt weren't around with the future in their eyes.
"Nice, Finn," Kurt says with attitude. "The least you could do is acknowledge me."
Finn knows his tongue hangs out of his mouth when he plays this part. Mostly 'cause Artie took a picture of it over the summer and texted it to…well, he doesn't know who he texted it to but he knows he was called mediocre by Jacob because of that and also because he's dating Rachel and Jacob has some 'master plan' to make Rachel see the 'error of her ways.' See? His day was lame.
Rachel explained mediocrity (she actually used Puck as an example and it was kinda harsh; it was also kinda funny in her sneaky sorta way because the dude was sitting right there when she did it and he totally flipped her off and she ignored him and…yeah. The whole thing had been entertaining as hell) and then told Finn he wasn't mediocre he was just undecided. She said that like it was supposed to be better. So why didn't he feel any better?
"One thing at a time," Finn says to hold him off for just a second while he dies. He's only sort of being paying attention anyway and it's not like it'll take long. Sure enough, it takes him too long to trade weapons and the screen goes red. He doesn't even have the energy to sigh, he just sorta turns in the banana chair toward Kurt. "Okay, so go. What's up?"
Kurt just raises his eyebrows and Finn thinks that means he's supposed to know what's up with Kurt. Shit. He scowls a little bit, like maybe his memory is powered by the scowl. Truthfully, after the second straight week of nasty comments from Kurt about The Kiss at Nationals, he kinda tuned his brother out for most of the summer. Usually, Kurt was with Blaine anyway, so if he was around it was only to make nasty comments or make plans with Rachel and, quite frankly, he wasn't particularly interested in the list of better places to make out than on a stage Kurt kept offering. No, seriously. Kurt had a notebook and as far as they could tell, the notebook was dedicated solely to that.
"God, sorry." Finn rolls his eyes and he thinks maybe that's what he needed to jog his memory because he remembers Kurt and Rachel had some thing to go to tonight in Dayton. If Kurt's back, that means Rachel will probably call, which means Finn better find his phone because it got chucked somewhere in the direction of his bed when he undressed for the shower a couple hours ago. "How was the thing?"
Kurt leans against the doorway and folds his arms over his chest and why in the hell is he still wearing his coat? Did he like just come in?
"Do you care to be more specific?"
Finn turns in his chair again, actually getting up a little bit so he can turn. That's awkward so he ends up tossing the controller from his hand into the chair and just standing up. It probably seems more annoyed than he actually is because he puts his hands on his hips. "No. That's even what Rachel called it, so just tell me already."
Kurt rolls his eyes. "Well, actually…it was terrible. Rachel's still crying as far as I know."
His heart drops a little. "Wait… what?"
Hearing she's upset or something didn't work out that well for her…well, it kind of feels like a tug inside his chest somewhere. The tug must be connected to his eyes or something because he starts looking around for his phone. It'd probably be easier to find a) if Kurt hadn't insisted black was a great color for bedding and b) if the bed he'd tossed it onto was made.
Maybe his mom kind of knew what she was talking about when it came to cleanliness in general. That wasn't the real reason Rachel hadn't just come in when she dropped Kurt off, right? Like—she hadn't been downstairs today so it's not like she knew his bed wasn't made or anything. The rest of his room wasn't that bad.
"They were so good Finn. It's going to be really hard to get into that school and it turns out we both kind of choked a little on our dose of humble pie."
"Well…" Kurt rights his posture again, standing up straight. Finn notices the balled-up Kleenex in his hand for the first time. "It turns out there is a group from the surrounding area. They're so much like us only more experienced and they get together and do routines with all of them and they performed Anything Goes with tap shoes. I've got to take tap lessons starting tomorrow because there's no way I can do that."
"Anything Goes…is…." Finn looks off to the side; maybe it's a side effect of hanging out with Rachel but his head starts listing musicals and songs and all the stuff she and Kurt talked about over the summer. "Like a free agent kinda thing, I guess?"
"No." Kurt's arms fold again and he sniffles a little bit. He blinks a few extra times and Finn knows that's how he gets rid of frustration. Well, that and with his attitude in general. "It's the big leagues. It's a musical running on Broadway and it won several Tony's this year and…" he shakes his head. "They were so good. And we're not…we're not part of that group. At least—not yet."
"But you guys are both awesome," he protests and where in the hell did his phone go? The bad news is he leaves it on silent in his locker during weights and he usually forgets to turn the sound back on. So even if she did call he wouldn't hear it.
Also, he's kinda thinking if these two are feeling like they won't get into the school they want then he's screwed because he doesn't even know where he wants to go yet.
"Well, apparently awesome only gets you so far," Kurt says. He sniffles again and sounds a little pissy, so Finn's pretty sure Kurt is going to cry to Blaine about it on Skype for a while. "You should check on Rachel, though."
"I will when I find my phone," he says honestly. He doesn't know if Kurt waits an extra second because he thinks Finn will be glad for the heads up or whatever, but when Finn doesn't say anything else, Kurt just kind of shrugs and leaves, tossing a good night over his shoulder and sounding put out about it.
What did he expect to hear?
It's not like Finn knows any more about this crap than anyone else. All he really knows about it is that he doesn't actually know anything. It seems like as good of a starting place as any but at the same time, it's totally not. Because it's not like he knows where to go from where he's at, either.
And he still can't find his damn phone.
Well, he knows where to start with that. Maybe he should at least kind of make his bed. He'll compromise because he was really just about to lay awake in it all night anyway, so it's stupid to make it but he'll pull the covers up and shake 'em out a little. (He might do it a little more like he's whipping them than just kind of 'fluffing' them; that's what Rachel called it, anyway, when she explained hospital corners to him. Whatever—the blankets had it coming to them because he has to take out all this frustration on something. It's kind of starting to make his shoulders hurt.)
If Rachel is feeling hopeless about her future, he's really gonna have a hard time finding footing and figuring it all out. She's like the most together person he knows about stuff like that. Then again, maybe there's something to be said for just 'going with the flow'. It's only just barely the school year and it feels like people have been way in his face about what his plans are but maybe they're the ones with a problem. Maybe his plan should be to just get good grades and do good at football and basketball and Glee. As the blankets he's been whipping around come untangled and settle on the bed, he tilts his head a little and a thought hits him. Maybe he's already doing alright. Kurt's talking about running for senior class president (the girl who got elected to do it at the end of last year had a bad summer—she ended up in some clinic for girls with an eating disorder) and Rachel is all gung-ho and crazy eyes about the fall musical… but he's got plenty of extracurriculars. And really, he has to keep his grades over a 3.0 for sports, so…he might not take hard classes or whatever but his grades are okay. It's just his direction that's kinda…lacking.
He drops down on the bed and suddenly he's totally tired. He's also pretty sure his brain won't shut off, especially not 'til he makes sure Rachel is okay too. He thinks about her crying again and he's not as tired. He's just like…sick of thinking. He wants to bring her in his room and lock both of them there and make hospital corners out his black blankets or y'know…whatever. She really sucks at the video game he likes to play the most, but they have other games for his X-Box. He should stock up on a few of those before he locks her in with him. Also maybe some snacks of some kind.
Before much else really occurs to him as far as this planning goes—and honestly, he might need his own notebook for it. Could Kurt's really be full or can he just steal it and sort of… make it his own?—his eyes hit the clock and he feels the frown on his face tug all the way down into his stomach. It's almost ten o'clock and Rachel never really calls that late. If it gets to be this late and they haven't talked she'll send him text. She's always afraid she's going to wake him up, which is a non-issue 'cause she's totally worth waking up for. She's worth waiting up to talk to. He wishes she got that but he kind of doesn't want to have that conversation again because it has a lot of "no"s in it. Like if she says it three times in a row (No, no, no … you need your rest and we'll always see each other tomorrow) she thinks he's more likely to agree. Not the case.
He wonders how many times she'd say no if he suggested bunkering down in his room for the rest of forever. He has a couple tricks he could try that would persuade her. He's going to put that one in the maybe column. And totally see if he can lift Kurt's notebook while he's a tap lesson or whatever the fuck he's going to be doing now for fun.
Doesn't sound as fun as a downstairs bunker.
So there's no video game list or no real snack ideas by the time his hand lands on his phone where it's kind of fallen (or was it flung?) at some point between his bed and the wall. It's not really out of reach, but it takes him a second to get it loose then to tuck the blanket down between the bed and the wall. He's pretty sure he flails or something when he sleeps 'cause that blanket never stays next to the wall. He pinches the phone and he kind of fell and is leaning awkwardly as he looks at the screen and is it wrong if he hopes for like ten missed calls and a pissed off message?
That might be what Rachel would've done before. It's kind of freaking him out that she's mellow this time around. His mom calls it growing up. He's not sure what to call it, other than kind of nerve-wracking. He's kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. She hasn't been riding his ass about schoolwork (day four – she has plenty of time) or really much of anything. He doesn't know what to make of her being so relaxed. Does she know something he doesn't? Is she growing up more than him?
What the fuck is he going to do with his life if she's not pushing him any particular direction? He starts to think about if she's not there, like she isn't on his phone at all 'cause she hasn't even called once, and his chest hurts and his heart starts beating faster and he just knows that's not gonna help anything.
He rubs his eye with the heel of his hand and looks at the clock again. It's like ten minutes after ten and that's late for her, but he almost doesn't care. He needs to know she's okay, even if he has to wake her up to do it. He could sit and debate if that makes him more of an asshole or a nice guy, but he's just too tired to bother and he really wants to hear her voice so he calls.
"Hello?" She says. She wasn't sleeping, but her voice doesn't sound right.
"Hi," he replies. He flops back all the way across his covers and kind of wishes he turned out the light already. If he had an iPhone he could just put her on hold and do it from his touchscreen. He's totally asking for an iPhone for Christmas. "How was your thing?"
And because she's awesome and she's nice to him and she's not Kurt she doesn't ask him a bunch of questions that don't matter. "It was a learning experience," she says slowly. "I'm assuming Kurt already came in to talk to you about it."
"Yeah he did," Finn says. He's noticed he has this whole different voice when he's talking to her. She has a different voice for him. He likes her 'him' voice. "He was pretty upset and said you were worse off. "
"He's such a drama queen," she says and then she sniffles and he feels bad because she's totally still crying, but he has to laugh because it's funny that Rachel of all people is calling someone a drama queen. "He told me we'll get there. I'm just trying to believe."
"You just can't lose faith, okay?" He says after a moment. "'Cause if you of all people lose faith then I'm in real trouble."
"I'm not giving up," she answers. She sniffles again. "I just…it's just going to be harder than I ever wanted to believe and I'm wondering if unfailing optimism is going to really be enough. I might need something else."
He nods 'cause he knows that feeling – that not being enough and still not knowing what else there is until magically you somehow just, like, rise to the occasion and prove you can do it. His most recent example?
He's just gonna point to how he got the girl. If he can do that, he's pretty sure he can do anything 'cause he's basically got everything he needs, doesn't he? It's just a matter of getting everything lined up.
Then he realizes he's nodding. And he's on the phone with her. Maybe he should y'know talk instead. That'd be way better.
"What can I do?" He asks. He doesn't feel like he has a lot to offer; at least not when it comes to answers. As far as, like, love and support and whatever else—he's all over that. He'll drive her home from play practice and he'll help her set up her video camera to make audition tapes, and he'll tell her she's awesome. When she's not so awesome, he'll tell her that, too; he'll just do it in a nice way so she won't cry like she is right now. He will be a lot nicer than those Say Anything assholes.
Wait. Anything Goes. Yeah – those guys.
"I'll be okay," she answers slowly. She sniffles again. The sniffles aren't really getting any further apart. That's how he knows she might be okay eventually, but she's not actually okay right now.
"Yeah, you will," he agrees. "But you're not right now."
"No," she admits. "Right now it feels as though the future ran over me like a freight train."
It really only takes him a second to decide what he's going to do before he's on his feet. "Your dads home?"
There's a long pause that tells him the answer to that question—and it's a big, fat no. They've been working on some huge case with a judge who got tossed off the bench in an election or something and they've been in Columbus quite a bit the last few weeks and he thinks it sucks even though he knows they try their best to talk to her all the time. They've set up the house with alarms (it's Lima—really?), have offered her a dog that she refused, and they call almost all the time. In fact…
"No, but I just hung up with them."
Well, he feels a little better about her not calling just yet.
"What'd they say?" He asks. It's kind of just idle chit-chat, which he hates, to keep her on the phone, which he always wants to do. He slips his feet into his tennis shoes and then bends down to tie them, pinching the phone between his ear and his shoulder.
"They said to sleep on it and hold off on any definite decisions until at least tomorrow morning," she says. There's something to her voice though and as he stands up, he uses a hand to push his phone to his ear, then switches hands as he shoves his arms into a zip-up hoodie. It makes it hard to hear if she's gonna say anything else, but he's pretty sure she didn't.
"That sounds like good advice but maybe I'll do them one better?"
The interest in her voice is anything but subtle. "Like what?"
"Well…what's one thing I can offer you they can't?" He asks. He tucks his wallet into the pocket on his jacket and grabs his keys before he turns off his bedroom light and heads into the quiet house beyond.
She laughs a little bit and it makes him smile because he's pretty sure she just thought something gross even if she's not gonna say it. And he's not a total douche all the time, so he's not gonna say it for her either.
"Um," she finally says. She sniffles again, and he knows it's been a while since the last one so he feels okay about that. She's already feeling better so he's doing his job.
"I'm just gonna come give you a big hug. That's all," he says. He turns to lock the front door behind him as he leaves the house.
"You don't have to do that," she protests but it's that girly thing where she's not actually saying no.
"What if I want to?" He asks. "Look…you know I get feeling like crap about things, especially future things and especially lately."
"I know," she says. "I'm sorry, I…"
He sighs. "It's not your fault. Most of the time you make it like a thousand times better and sometimes all it takes is a hug."
"I see," she answers. "So I'm speaking with an expert?"
"Something like that," he says, finally coaxing a roar out of his truck. The thing is a lot of good things, but quiet isn't exactly one of them.
"You're serious about coming over here?"
"I'm serious about making you stop crying," he admits.
"Well in that case…what would I have to do to get a hug and a kiss?"
"I'm gonna start charging you for house calls if you're this demanding all the time," he teases lightly. She laughs and he thinks he might be capable of setting and reaching goals, even if they're little and he's taking them one at a time.
Today's goal was getting her to stop crying and he's totally okay with saving the next goal—whatever it is—for tomorrow. And later on, as he's holding her against him tight (it's not like he can stay for a long time because of school tomorrow), he realizes some other stuff, too.
He might have to make more late night "house calls". He might have to power through conversations and situations he doesn't want to deal with. He might have to work his ass off to get to New York and stay there—or he might have to try the long-distance thing with a girl who's totally worth all that. He doesn't know what the future will be for either of them or what kind of compromises they'll have to make. There's really only one thing he knows for sure and he can work with that.
He's just never gonna let her go.
(He'll figure out how exactly that's gonna work later on.)