you know, this all sort of came out last night and today, so, enjoy.
glee is not mine
The threadbare elbow of his sweater brushes against Santana's forearm as he sinks into the barstool in their apartment. "Where're you goin' again?"
"Brittany's dance recital," she responds coolly, thin arms lifting and tying her long, dark hair into a ponytail.
"Why?" He inquires, fingers reaching out to grasp her beer. He lifts it to his lips as he asks, "I mean, like, what's the point?"
"You ever been in love?" Her words tumble roughly from her mouth, and he frowns a little.
"Well, that's why you don't get it."
He waves to her as she flees the apartment, and sits at the counter, chin placed in hand, brow furrowed, thinking about love. Like, honestly, he could care less about why Santana's going to some lame recital tonight. Sometimes he just can't control his curious mouth.
He's dated plenty of girls, and fucked some, too, and the closest he's been to love is Quinn, who slept with his best friend five months into the relationship. He's done with that, now, and shit, he can't remember the last girl he even remotely liked.
Before he knows it, he's thumbing through Santana's address book, looking for someone to talk to—he's tired, just come off a thirty-six hour shift, and he should be sleeping, but the night calls for him. His thumb hovers over a few names before finally landing on one, Rachel Berry. He's never met this chick, so he figures he might as well call and see what she's like.
"Who are you?" She asks for the millionth time.
"I told you," he grunts, "my name's Finn, Finn Hudson, I'm a firefighter and I just want to go on a date with you."
"I don't go on dates with strangers," she huffs primly, and he's starting to understand that this Rachel girl is downright crazy.
"'Kay. You said that," he reminds her, and rolls a dime between his fingers, "look, honestly, I'm not that interested—it's not you, it's me, or actually, it's you, but hey, I could use a friend, so let's get coffee."
"That was vaguely insulting, I'll have you know, and—"
"Great!" He interrupts, hopping from the stool, "I'll see you at Gorilla coffee."
She's kinda hot, he thinks, subtly checking her out as she orders some weird herbal tea thing. He sips a black coffee that would've been way cheaper at his apartment, but he wanted to get out or some shit, and the first date is too soon to take a girl back to your apartment. At least that's what his mom told him.
He keeps studying her as she leans against the counter, tapping her fingers as she waits. She's thin and real small, her head barely reaches his shoulder, and she's got this long dark hair that tumbles over her shoulders. She's kinda perfect, he realizes, and maybe he could fall in love with someone like her.
She slides into the seat beside him, which surprises him, and tucks her knees beneath her chin. "So," she begins, "what made you call?"
"I dunno," he answers. "I guess I'm lonely. Like, everyone I know is in love and I can't figure out what that means."
"You're having an existential crisis," she says slowly, like she's trying to make him understand—or maybe make herself understand, "and you called a stranger to keep you company?"
Her eyes meet his, wide, brown, and calculating, and finally she nods. Her tongue darts out and licks her lips, and his eyes follow her every movement. "So, Finn Hudson, what's your story?"
"My story?" His left eyebrow seems to lift on its own accord.
"Yeah. Like, how did you get here, et cetera. I'll help," she concedes at his befuddled expression, "what do you do?"
"I'm a firefighter," he explains, a little bit of pride swelling in his chest. Her eyes roll, though, and he frowns again, brows furrowing. "What?"
"Obviously, you are a firefighter," she clarifies, gesturing to his FDNY tee shirt, "and you told me that on the phone. But besides that, what do you do?"
"I only have—oh, like, hobbies or whatever?" She nods wordlessly. "I like to, uh, play drums. Sometimes I draw. What about you? What do you do?"
"A little of this, a little of that," she answers ambiguously. "Where're you from?"
"A little town in Ohio."
"Why did you come to Brooklyn?"
"Seemed like a good place at the time." He can be cryptic, too.
"That's not the whole story."
"You are aggravating."
"Am I?" He smirks, "Yeah, so are you."
"I am not aggravating!"
"We've been here for, like, forty minutes and I only know your name and that you like shitty herbal tea. What do you do?"
"I told you that. If it helps, I was born and raised in Manhattan, got kicked out after high school, and had to relocate here."
"Well, moved out. You know. College." She's a little overdramatic.
"I like you, Ms. Berry."
Her eyes turn to his, a little fearful. "Promise me you won't like me too much."
With a liberal roll of his eyes, he answers, "Promise."
He kinda forgets about her. Well, as much as he can forget about her. He doesn't call her, she doesn't call him, and he figures that's the end of that. Until Santana decides to throw some huge blowout party and calls everyone in her phone book.
"Frankenstein," she yells, "you're in charge of the door. Just open it, don't try to charm everyone. Not that you could, but—"
"I get it!"
He sits patiently in the living room, staring at the ticking clock until there are knocks on the door, successive raps for a good hour, interspersed with small talk with Santana's lame lawyer friends.
The door swings open, no knock, and Santana shouts, "Berry!" And his head snaps to the front door. Their eyes meet and he smiles at her knowingly. It occurs to him, suddenly, that he's missed her, just a little bit. She doesn't talk to him, though, and he doesn't talk to her until he watches her step out of the apartment, and onto the fire escape that they use for a small porch.
He gazes at her as she leans against the side of the building, all black and gray and glittering in the waning moonlight. He steps out onto the fire escape, resting on the wall opposite hers, and trying desperately to meet her eyes. She coolly lifts a cigarette to her lips, sucks in, and blows out little puffs of smoke. His eyes follow her movement, fascinated at the ash she flicks onto the ground, and the careless grasp of the cigarette between her fingers.
"How've you been?" He asks, and he winces slightly at the grating sound of his own voice.
"Just fine," she responds. Nothing else. He can't tear his eyes from her lips and fingers as they caress the cigarette, and he briefly considers leaning down and planting his lips over hers. Would he be able to taste the nicotine on her lips?
Her eyeliner-rimmed eyes snap up and meet his. "That's rich. You're kinda weird, too, you know. Like, it still boggles my mind that you'd call a complete stranger before your mom to talk about some love bullshit."
He's been doing a lot of reading these days, building up a complete encyclopedia in his mind, and he's read a lot about love to know that, "Love's not bullshit."
"Exactly my point."
"No," he corrects, "I could totally prove it, but I promised you I wouldn't try."
Somehow, he winds up with his back on the bed, tasting the tobacco on her tongue as their bodies tangle together in the darkness of his bedroom. It's nearly three in the morning, and they've spent all night doing this and talking (about nothing too personal, naturally). He thinks she might be a little drunk, 'cause as he presses closer to her and brushes his tongue against her teeth, he tastes a little of that shitty orange flavored vodka Brittany likes.
He murmurs a low, "fuck," into her mouth as her fingers run beneath his shirt, and this has been playing on repeat for forever. Has there ever been a time when he didn't feel like this?
Moments after they break away, she falls asleep, using his arm as her pillow. "What are you hiding?" He wonders softly, his fingers brushing back the thick bangs covering her forehead. Her eyebrows furrow and release, and he smoothes his thumb over them.
"Tell me your story, baby girl," he implores one blustery March morning, weeks and weeks later. This relationship of theirs, whatever it is, is completely fucked, up, down, over, under, any kind of fucked it can be, it is.
"I'm not your baby girl," she corrects, nearly without thinking, and takes a sip of his black coffee. She winces at the bitter taste, nose scrunching up cutely. "That's gross."
"Get your own, then," he teases lightly. She flicks him off and rolls her eyes. Her hand rests near his on the table, chipped black nail polish on her fingernails, which is ironic, considering she's got a smiling moose on her orange sweater. "Who are you?"
She laughs, scrunching up her nose. "I wish I could answer that."
"Honestly, though, Ray—"
"—don't call me Ray—"
"—we've been screwing around for, like, maybe two months or so, and I still don't know where the fuck you go all day, or what you do. C'mon, you know all about me."
She blows out a sigh and lifts her eyes to meet his. "Not really."
"You know more about me than I do about you," he counters, and she nods in defeat.
"Fine, you wanna learn more?" He nods and she stands up from the table. "Well, come on."
"Where are we going?" He asks excitedly as she grabs his hand and pulls him down the street.
"Manhattan?" He grasps her hand as she leads him to a high-rise apartment building, and squeezes it when she greets the doorman and walks in. He's never been to Rachel's apartment before, but he's always assumed that she lives in Brooklyn. "You live here?"
She takes her bottom lip between her teeth and doesn't answer. She frees her hand from his and wrings it with her other one as the elevator takes them up, up, up. They're on the roof, now, staring out over the whole of Manhattan. "Baby?"
She gives him that don't-call-me-baby-I'm-not-your-girlfriend steely glare and doesn't say anything. He follows her to the edge of the building, and out of instinct, his hands grasp her thin waist. Her thin arms cross over her chest, elbows knocking his forearm down until his arms are around her hips. "This," she starts shakily, and her arms wrap around her own waist, squeezing at her skin, "this is where my dad killed himself."
His mouth falls open, words failing to pour out. How the hell does he respond to something like that? Like, jeez, sorry your dad jumped off a fucking twenty story high-rise in Manhattan? Shit, he's not good with his own feelings, let alone hers. She turns around to face him, and her eyes are hard and unfeeling. He knows what she's doing, putting up that block again.
Luckily, he knows to act on instinct, so he gets them the fuck off that high rise and into a nearby pub. It's three in the afternoon, but he orders them each a beer, cause they need it. Her index finger runs around the rim of her glass, not drinking or speaking, just running her finger in those circles.
"My dad left my mom when I was just a baby for my daddy, and I never got to know her. But the problem was, they rolled in some sort of elite high society and once he came out, he was shut out, my dad, and I think that put a lot of strain on him, or whatever, those assholes said a lot of shit to him—anyway, he kinda spiraled downward as I grew up and it absolutely killed my daddy, seeing him like that, and it led to a lot of drinking and smoking, and before I knew it, my daddy took me out of school and told me what happened. Finn, I was ten, and my dad jumped off a rooftop and killed himself."
He squeezes her thigh and leans over to nuzzle her cheek with his nose. He doesn't know what to say.
"Dad wanted me to be a lawyer," she says, rolling her red-rimmed eyes, "but that was too much time in school. I wanted—want—to be—" She breaks off, laughing self-deprecatingly, "a singer."
"Huh," he says. "What kinda singer?"
She takes her bottom lip between her teeth and casts her eyes downwards and says, ever so softly, "Broadway." She lifts an unlit cigarette to her lips, searching through her purse to find her lighter, and he grabs her hand, cutting her short.
"What the fuck are you doing smoking these, then?"
"It's an addiction," she says caustically. "Been trying to quit since I was eighteen."
"How old are you, even?" He's beginning to realize how little he knows about her. "Where do you live?"
"Twenty-two. I'll take you there. You ready, Mr. Rogers?"
He laughs and slings his arm around her shoulder as he hops off the barstool. "'Course. I'll follow your lead, Baby Bop."
"I am not a baby!" She exclaims. "You're only three years older than me!" He laughs and pulls her into the side, tickling the skin there a little. She squeals, and elbows his stomach.
"I wanted to be an artist, you know," he says as they begin walking, "but I got here and realized I couldn't make it."
"I thought you loved firefighting?"
"I do. I love music a little more, though." She nods and leans her head against his arm. He presses a kiss to the crown of her head, and she squirms uncomfortably. "Hey, Rach?"
"Why d'you hate relationships? Like, why do you freak out when I try to get close to you?"
She pats his arm lightly. "Finny, that's a story for another day."
They end the day, naturally, tangled up in each other's bodies. Her tongue brushes against his, and he sighs into her mouth softly as his fingers inch up and down her body. He wonders if this is how Santana feels when she and Brittany make out, like his entire world is just this one person, like nothing matters but her, and her lips and teeth and tongue, and the way her hands run under his sweater.
It's a headlong, impetuous leap he's taking as their bodies collide, and he feels like he both can't breathe and doesn't need to. He's a cloud, and she's the only thing anchoring him to earth, and his heart leaps into his throat and falls into his stomach. There are constellations on her skin as his fingers run over her bare stomach, and each time he presses a kiss to her is a symphony.
Is this what it feels like? Being in love? Because God, if it is, he never wants to be out of it, never wants there to be anything but him, and Rachel, and this big, white bed in her nice apartment in Williamsburg.
When they finish, when his lips are swollen and bruised from their kisses, she curls into his side and rests her head on his chest. She puts on this front, like she's this tough little woman, but he knows her, and she is much more vulnerable than she appears. Her made-up eyes fall closed, eyelashes fluttering against her cheekbones, and she kisses his chest lightly. "Stay."
His eyes sweep over her tenderly. "Yeah, okay." He watches her as she snuggles closer, and her breath evens out. "I love you."
Weeks later, he learns what she does—she's a teacher, a kindergarten teacher, hence the animal sweaters and craft glue in her apartment. "You're a parakeet, babe," he tells her.
"Er, paradox," he corrects, and a blush rises on his cheeks as she doubles over, howling in laughter. "Songbird," he laughs with her, "like the Fleetwood Mac song, y'know?"
She nods and sits on his lap on the couch, still adamant that they are just two friends who hook up occasionally (re: all the time). "What d'you mean, I'm a paradox?"
"Well, you act like this tough, mean chick, but on the inside you're this fluffy girl who loves animals and kids. I like that about you, I mean, you're totally a bitch most days, but you're actually the sweetest."
"Is that some sort of insult?"
"Nah," he responds coolly. "Just me letting you know you don't have to keep up that steely front for me. I like the nice girl just as much as the mean one."
"I'll keep that in mind." Her fingers play with his on her lap, running over and over the skin and knuckles, and he kisses the spot just below her ear, because he knows that makes her weak in the knees. He really wants to have sex with her, but she just keeps it to kissing so it's still casual. Sex involves feelings, she explains with a scrunch of her nose, bad feelings. They're not bad, though, he wants to tell her. They're wonderful, beautiful, even, and every day he falls deeper and deeper into his affection for her.
She slides off of his lap and disappears onto her balcony, and he follows and watches her as she lights a cigarette and lifts it to her lips. Summer has settled in on Manhattan, and she's out of school and so fucking bored all day long. He tells her to pick up a hobby. She tells him to fuck off.
"I almost got married, once," she tells him, bringing her cigarette to her lips and sucking in. Her movement mesmerizes him, and he's supposed to tell her to put it out, but he can't stop staring at the circle her lips make when the smoke puffs out.
"Yup," she says, "I was nineteen, and I thought I loved him."
"How'd you know you didn't?" Her tongue darts out and licks her lips.
"When he sabotaged my role in the spring musical, I knew he didn't love me," she responds, "if I'd kept that role, I could've been successful—there were directors and shit there, and he ruined it for me."
"I want to hear you sing."
She laughs, "Maybe someday, you'll get to."
"Do I have to earn it?"
"Yup." Her smile is so wide, and he loves when she smiles like this. "You always make me laugh."
"I'm a riot," he says. He steps close to her and winds his arms around her waist. His fingers pluck the cigarette from her fingers and toss it to the ground, stomping on it to put it out.
"Whenever I think it's too much you always pull me down," she tells him softly.
He falls in love with her all over again, right there.
"What are we?"
The cerulean smoke puffs around her as she looks up in surprise, and she doesn't object when he tosses the cigarette to the ground. "What d'you mean?"
The sun beats down on his neck, and it's already seven o'clock—shouldn't the sun start its crawl back to the horizon sometime soon? His heart is aching, squeezing painfully, because he feels so much, now, and he misses when he didn't feel anything.
"I mean what are we doing? This…thing we have."
"We're friends," she explains quickly, and her feet begin to move faster across the pavement, "I think that you're probably my best friend, Finn."
"Yeah," he says gruffly, and his arm wraps around her, and he chickens out. He's never really been someone's best friend before, except for Puck, who fucked him over. "Me, too."
He's not quite as surprised as she is when they wind up actually sleeping together. He fixes her air conditioner, she brings him lemonade, and before he knows it, he's on his back, beside her on her bed, hand intertwined with hers. She sits up, pulling the comforter with her, and her hands begin to tie her long hair in a ponytail.
"What're you doin'?"
"Getting dressed," she answers coldly, "you should, too."
He turns onto his side to stare at her, at the curve of her back as she pulls a shirt over her head, and the way her arms settle in the shirt. "Come back here."
"I don't do cuddling."
"I know for a fact that you do."
She ignores him and stomps out of her bedroom. He hears her banging around in the kitchen and figures it's time for him to get dressed. Somehow, she finds a way to always win.
"Hey," he says, and tension settles in the air of her kitchen. She's sitting at her kitchen table, pouring over some sort of document, sipping a glass of water. Her eyes lift to look at him, and return to the page. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she brushes him off, "friends have sex all the time. It doesn't mean anything."
He stares at her, at her loose ponytail and giant tee shirt, and her small frame, and he says quietly, "Yes, it does. It means everything, Rachel, and you know it."
"Why would it mean something?"
"Because I love you, that's why, because I am in love with you, through and through, and I've tried stopping but every time I see you and you bitch at me, or you smoke a cigarette that I have to put out, I fall a little more in love with you and I promised you I wouldn't, but here I am."
She stares at him, hard, brown eyes, and nearly hisses, "Get out."
He glares right back at her, and he can't even try hating her, it's impossible, and he just crosses his arms over his broad chest. "No."
"Finn," her hands clench into small, white fists atop the wooden table, "get out!"
"Not until you admit that you love me, too."
"No! Because I don't! I told you, Finn, you promised you wouldn't do this to me! You—you promised."
His anger fades, waning to nothing as she nearly comes apart in front of him. He kneels in front of her, grasping her wrists in his hands and easing his hand into hers. "I need you, Rachel. And I know you need me, too." She's still glaring, but he kisses their intertwined fingers, and her façade falls, and she leans forward until her forehead resides in the crook of his neck, and he pulls her close until she's in his lap.
"I'm sorry," she says, voice small. "I do love you. I do."
He shakes his head and kisses her hard.
December is colder than usual, but he still feels so warm. Her hand is intertwined with his atop his thigh, and she's tucked into his side in the cab of his truck. Her head rests on his shoulder, and he knows her eyes are closed. It feels weird that he's known her for so long, a year and a few months, now, and he spent so much of it miserably pining when she was right in front of him.
He gets her all the time, now that they're roommates and everything, and he couldn't be happier, honestly. He understands love, now, and doing something for someone you don't necessarily want to—but he's not going to lie and pretend he didn't want to see Rachel's first Broadway musical eight times.
He loves her, okay? And that's that.
She squeals excitedly, pointing to a CVS. "I want a candy bar!"
He furrows his brow, but pulls into the plaza entrance anyway, because really, he'd do anything for her. She scurries inside, short, red skirt swinging side to side as she tries to evade the cold. Her clothes are so weird, sometimes (like last night she wore a shirt with a sleeping cat and dog on it), but he loves them, like he loves her. She's a bit of a paradox, a dichotomy of childlike and damaged, and he loves that she falls in the in-between of life.
She slides into the truck moments later, asks him to keep the truck stalled as she rubs her hands in front of the heater. "I've got—"
"Bad circulation," he finishes, smiling, "I know." She grabs her hands and runs them between hers, and the sky opens, and he still smiles at her even as puffy white flurries fall to the ground.
She swallows and looks at him. "I love you."
He'll never, ever get tired of hearing that. "Love you more."
"Remember when we, um, you know, like all night a few weeks ago? When we first moved in together?" He's confused, but he nods, and the snow starts falling more heavily, and she takes a bite of her candy bar. "Did we—did we use protection?"
Shit. Fuck. "No."
"Yeah." She intertwines their fingers. "I, uh, fuck, I'm—shit, we're pregnant, Finn."
His whole life, his mom told him not to knock up a girl before marriage, but here he is, and she's only twenty-four or something, and still so young, but he loves her so much and they both have jobs, now, good jobs, and he smiles and leans over and kisses her softly.
"You're happy?" She asks him softly, and she smiles with tears in her eyes, and god, is she lovely. He nods and she kisses him again, and again, and he's never felt so much for one person in his entire life.
She breaks away and rests her forehead against his chin, and he's happy.