a/n: i haven't written in a long time and i know that. so if you've forgotten who i am, i don't blame you haha. anyway, i suppose i'm a bit rusty, so your opinions would be greatly appreciated. and thank you in advance. also i hope you enjoy.

disclaimer: i own nothing but any and all typos. and special thanks to all-delighted people for her continuous support. and i hope you're doing well.


Even though he knows it drives Kurt crazy, he wipes his hands on his pant legs, not relishing the stern talking-to he's gonna get. So what if there's paint on his jeans? He always wears one of the same two pairs of pants when he paints anyway.

Maybe he's doing it because he doesn't have anything better to do.

He sighs in frustration and pulls his canvas from the easel, stashing it in the "this is really shitty so I'm gonna paint over it and start over" pile. As in, the pile that his last six attempts at painting anything have gone into.

Mostly, he's finding that inspiration is a bitch.


He thinks about moving upstate because the city is loud and dirty and it messes up his concentration. He knows it's just an excuse for being uninspired, but it's the best he can come up with.

When he tells that to Kurt, his brother merely rolls his eyes, but does tell him with sincerity he hopes Finn can manage to find the motivation he needs again. "Finn," Kurt says. "Maybe if you'd get out more, you'd find what you're looking for."

Finn merely snorts because the last thing he wants to leave the apartment more than he has to and risk the possibility of running into someone who knows he's sort of a failure. "Sure thing," he says, though. But he knows Kurt doesn't believe him.

That's okay. He wouldn't believe him either.

In fact, he never really does.


It's been three months and all that's changed is that he's lost his job at the pizzeria. It was an accident, of course. It's not like he'd meantto miss five days of work in a row because he'd been too depressed and uninspired to even get out of bed.

That's the thing about being an artist, he'd realized then. When you can't make art, it's like nothing else matters. He's always been one of those people who need a creative outlet, you know? In high school, he was quarterback of the football team and it was great, but it hadn't been enough.

His mom made him take dance lessons, but it took him less than twenty minutes to know there was no way in hell that was gonna work out. That was when the instructor, Mr. Schuester his name was (he was also Kurt's vocal coach) told him to maybe try art.

At first, Finn had scoffed. But at that point all he had known about art was that people in the, like, dark ages or whatever liked to draw and paint pictures of naked women.

Of course, that had also been his cue to reconsider.

He hasn't been able to stay away from it since then.

He's painted all sorts of things; portraits, landscapes, abstracts, still lifes, blah blah, and all the stuff he talks about when he knows people aren't listening, because they've never really listen to him about anything. So it wasn't that different when he started talking about art stuff a lot.

Kurt frowns when Finn tells him about the job thing, but gives him thirty days to find a new one. As it is, he's got two days left and it's not looking so good. But that's probably because he's not, well, looking.

God, talk about the cliché starving artist much, right? His mom must be soproud of him.

He bets the kids he went to high school with would be laughing in his face right now; they always said he'd be nothing.

It sucks how so far he can't prove them wrong.


He stands on the sidewalk, glancing longingly at the window display of his favorite place to shop for art supplies. It's not like he has any money to pay for anything. And to make matters worse, his cable got shut off, so he can't even mope about his complete lack of being anything useful while watching shitty Western movies anymore.

He can hear his best friend Puck laughing, "Life's a bitch," in his head right now.

Which is why he doesn't hear her approach and nearly jumps out of his fucking skin when she taps him on the shoulder. He accidentally smacks her in the nose, and fumbles for words as he tries to apologize. "God—what? Sorry, Sorry," he says. Jesus, he's kind of an idiot sometimes, isn't he? Maybe those assholes in high school were right.

And he feels terrible because her eyes are welling up with tears as she clutches her nose and he's pretty sure he can see blood trickling between her fingers. "I'm sosorry," he tries again.

"It's fine," she says, but she sounds a little indignant and he can't blame her. He offers to take her to the emergency room; he'll even pay for the cab.

She looks hesitant at first, but then he brings up the paying part and she reluctantly agrees. And of course that's when he realizes that oh yeahhe doesn't have any money. Shit.

Well, it's too late now because he's already hailing a cab and when did that even happen? Finn purses his lips, about to say something—except he doesn't know what to say, so he closes his mouth again. What's there to say anyway? "Sorry for standing in the middle of the sidewalk daydreaming like a douche and breaking your nose?"

Yeah, that's classy. Granted, he's never been especially tactful or whatever, but this is a new level of absurdity, even for him.

He makes sure to remind himself not to tell Kurt about it.


He manages to find ten dollars in the emergency stash of his wallet (which is funny 'cause he didn't know he had an emergency stash—which is probably a good thing since he would have spent it on Cheetos weeks ago).

"Are you all right?" he asks as he holds the door open for her. And, like, it's a stupid question because obviously she's not, but he thinks he might mean it in the please tell me you're not gonna file a law suit or somethingkind of all right.

Which probably isn't any better, but there you go.

She can't really write, so he offers to check in for her. Until he realizes—"Hey, what's your name?"

"Rashfesh Bree-ee," she says, her hands still covering her face. Right, because knows what that means. He pretends he does anyway and writes down Ra Breebecause those are the only parts he almost understood from her and she'll just have to deal with it, okay. The nurse at the counter is looking at them like there's cottage cheese spurting from his ears, and hey there might as well be because this day's already been a shitstorm. Might as well add something gross as cottage cheese to the mix.

They miss the first three times a nurse calls her name, and that's probably because it's not actually her name. But for now the bleeding has mostly stopped, and she asks in a whisper what's taking so long. He's about to make up an answer when he hears someone say, confusedly, "Ra Bree" again and that's when it hits him.

"That's you," he tells her. She gapes at him. "I didn't understand what you said when you told me your name," he adds.

She expels a breath of exasperation, but looks at him expectantly as she follows the nurse into an examination room.

He guesses he's supposed to go with her.


Well, looks like he's broken her nose. Way to be, Finn.

He can't paint anything for shit anymore, but he can break a girl's nose when he's not paying attention.

Now if only that were actually, you know, useful.


"Rachel Berry," she whispers as they leave.


"Rachel Berry," she repeats. "That's my name."

"Oh." Then he catches on. "Oh.Yeah," he says sheepishly. "Sorry about that. And for, ya know, breaking your nose and stuff." And stuff? What? What other stuff? He's pretty sure people are actually supposed to be able to control the words that come out of their mouth. Why hasn't he learned that yet? Jeez.

In the end, she tells him not to worry about hospital bills or anything. "My dads are lawyers and I'm not aware of the specifics of these kinds of situations, but I'm sure they'll know what to do." She looks up at him, like she's actually lookingat him—intensely—and then adds slowly, "Still. Perhaps you should give me your number just in case anything comes up."

It surprises him because he's pretty sure most girls would kick him in the 'nads if he broke their nose, but okay then. So he takes the time to really look at her and even though her nose is swollen and covered in bandage, he realizes that she's pretty. Like, reallypretty. And he can't help but smile a little. "Um, sure," he stutters. "My name's Finn, by the way. Finn Hudson."

"Well, Finn Hudson," she chirps after they exchange numbers. "Be careful." She looks down at her feet and it's like he can feelthe insecurity radiating off of her—which is weird because he doesn't even know her—and he frowns.

"Yeah," he promises. "I will. Um, call me if you, you know, need anything." Except money, he adds silently. Bad enough to have your nose broken by a loser; worse having your nose broken by a poorloser.

"Hey," he calls after her as she starts to leave. When she turns around, he takes a deep breath because he's crazy, obviously, and he should just leave and forget all this ever happened, but he can't. So he doesn't. "D'you want me to, I dunno, walk you home?" He figures he owes her something because she's been so nice about all these when she doesn't have to be and he really doesn't have any more money to pay for another cab.

She looks surprised, but a small smile graces her lips and he finds himself needing to catch his breath. "Okay," she murmurs. "Thank you."

Talk about a fucking weird ass day.


He rolls over in his bed because he knows he needs to get up and that he's about get another berating from Kurt about still not having a job. Just like he knows if they weren't brothers, Kurt would totally kick him out of the apartment.

Sighing, he kicks off his blankets and moves into the bathroom to brush his teeth. Just as he finishes, there's a knock on the door and oh good, here comes the talk. Finn opens the door, resigned, 'cause he's learned that life is just sort of there and you gotta take it as it comes (except say it more eloquently when you're talking about it being your philosophy, okay).

"Finn," his brother starts. "There's a girl here to see you."

He sounds more surprised than Finn is, which is saying something because Finn's pretty sure his eyes are bugging out of his head. He hasn't been on a date or anything in over a year, way before this downward spiral of sucking at life.

What's more surprising is that it's Rachel. It's been four weeks or so since that day he broke her nose—the last time he saw her—and his first thought is oh shit. Because why else would she be here except to give him bad news?

"Fuck," he mutters to himself, but opens the door anyway.

She looks great, like majorly, which is distracting him from why she must be here. And then he realizes she's at his apartmentand how does she know where he lives, anyway? Before he can ask, though, she seems to anticipate his question.

"I took the liberty of looking up your address," she tells him primly, like it's something she does all the time. "I'm here to ask you for a favor, actually."

Also not what he was expecting to hear. "What?"

"A favor," she repeats with exaggerated patience.

"No, I know—I just." He pauses, gathering his (scrambled) thoughts. "I mean, why—why me?"

"May I come in?" she asks, instead of answering his question. He realizes it's eleven in the morning on a Saturday and he's still in his pajamas and he hasn't eaten anything yet, but strangely enough, that doesn't seem to encourage him to say no, though.

"Sure." He steps aside and she brushes past him and suddenly he wonders if his life can get any weirder.


Sure enough, it does.

Turns out, her best friend is having a Christmas party and he needs to be her date because Rachel already told her best friend she hada date (even though she didn't). But since her friend—"Her name is Santana. She's grating, but once you get to know her, I promise she's wonderful"—didn't believe her, Rachel told her about how they met when he broke her nose and etc, etc because she's talking really fast and he doesn't catch most of it.

"I figured rather than trying to convince someone else to stick with the story, I would just seek out the person for which the story is actually true." Her voice is all chipper and reasonable(like those things can even go together).

"So you don't have a boyfriend, then?" is what comes out of his mouth.

She falters, turning away momentarily. But then she looks back up at him and answers with a soft, "No. I don't."

He's not sure why he asked her that question in the first place, but now he kinda feels bad. And since he still feels bad about fucking up her pretty face—which he notices is even prettier without the blood and bandages—he feels compelled to agree.

It'll be interesting, he thinks.

And interesting is at least better than uninspiring.

He'd forgotten Christmas was coming up anyway.


"Why did you tell your friend you had a date?" he asks as they climb the stairs to her friend's—Santana—apartment.

He sees her shrug a shoulder a little. "She told me I wouldn't be able to get one, so I told her I already had one. You were the first person I thought of."

Some friend, he thinks. But it's not his place to say. And anyway, he gets a date and stuff out of it too. Kurt's eyes nearly popped out of his head when Finn told him he was going out today. His parents will be coming up tomorrow—which is Christmas Eve—and well, there's a lot he probably has to tell them. But going to a Christmas party with a pretty awesome (so far as he knows) girl and the fact that it counts as "having a life" might take the sting out of it when he tells them he hasn't worked in months and well, yeah.

"Well, I'm glad you asked me," he tells her without thinking about it. Before he can take it back if it weirds her out or something, he notices she's looking up at him and smiling.


"Yep," he says, grabbing her hand as she opens Santana's door.

It's only then he realizes what she'd said before: You were the first person I thought of.

It makes his stomach do this weird sort of flippy-floppy thing.

It's nice.


"So what do you do?" he hears a girl ask him, looking pointedly at Rachel. He's pretty sure this is Santana and she's actually pretty scary and—

"I'm an artist," he says, then winces. Because he remembers that being an artist isn't that impressive or whatever and he doesn't want Rachel's friend to think (or know) she's dating a deadbeat. Because he knows not all artists are stuck in his position, but it doesn't matter because heis where he is and he's always saying too much and too little.

Santana just rolls her eyes a little and tells them to have fun, fixing the Santa hat she's wearing on her head.

Rachel looks up at him, her eyes wide. "An artist?" she asks. "Really?"

He sighs, rubbing a hand through his hair. "Yeah." He leads her over to the bar and gets her a drink. "I mean, it's not, what's the word? Lucrative. But yeah, I'm an artist. I don't really know how to be anything else," he adds absentmindedly after a moment.

He realizes that her eyes get really big and intense and it's a bit overwhelming but not necessarily in bad way, because she's looking at him like he's really great. And he can't remember the last time someone was great.

"I'm an artist too," she tells him. He starts to ask about it, but then she says, "Well, in a manner of speaking." She notes the confusion on his face and leads him to an empty seat on the couch. Sitting down on the arm, he joins her, somehow still interested in what it is she has to say. And he also can't remember the last time thathappened.

"I'm an actress," she says wistfully. "Nothing high-end—yet, anyway. But I'm working on it." She sips at her chardonnay and he finds himself staring at her lips as she licks them. They're full and pink and they look really soft and—"It's harder than I imagined it would be," she murmurs.

He falls out of his trance or whatever and nods. "I know what you mean," he says, and he hopes she knows he's not just saying that, but he really doesget it. Because well, if she knew all about his life, it would be obvious how much he gets it.

He always thought New York would be full of opportunities and inspiration and all that jazz, but now all he's really doing is trying to keep from turning jaded and bitter.

"You wanna dance?" he asks suddenly. And he doesn't know why because he sucks at dancing and shit, but her face lights up and she pulls him off the couch. And even though it doesn't take her long to notice he's shit at dancing, she doesn't say anything. She just rests her head against his chest and he wonders if she can hear his heartbeat.

And it's, you know, nice and everything, so maybe it wasn't a stupid idea after all.

And when he walks her home again, she gives him a kiss on the cheek before turning away and going in her apartment. And he's left staring after her in wonder because it was the best fake date he's ever had.

He thinks he wouldn't mind being her fake date again in the future.

Hell, he thinks he wouldn't mind being her real date in the future.


He thinks people probably don't realize how much effort it takes to actually paint stuff. Like, they know it takes work and time and everything, but they never think about how each brush stroke has to be done in a certain way. They never think about colors and blends and the different types of paints and canvases and brushes and he always has so many things to choose from.

It hadn't taken him long to realize his favorite kinds of paints were oil-based. And he breathes in, humming along to the Jackson Browne song on the radio, he carefully glides his brush along the canvas.

And then it hits him.

He's actually painting and not just staring stupidly at a blank canvas. More than that, he's almost finished and it looks…good.Actually, it looks really good.

And then he realizes whathe's painting.

It's Rachel. It's Rachel and the way she'd looked curled up on Santana's couch, her hair a little messy and her cheeks flushed, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.

And he remembers how he'd thought about kissing her because she'd looked so stunning there was just, like, some magnetizing force between them. But he hadn't because, well, he doesn't really know. Maybe because he was just doing her a favor, maybe because he didn't want to make her feel awkward, maybe because he's a coward.

Yeah, probably that one.

But he's been in here for hours and hours and he's putting the finishing touches on this painting and it almost captures that Rachelnessshe has and he feels like maybe he's found what he was looking for. And even though that kinda terrifies him—because he wasn't expecting it in an intense girl he met when he broke her nose on accident—she's the only thing that's been able to inspire him in a long time.

That date or whatever it was happened four days ago and he still hasn't forgotten exactly what she looked like—or smelled like, but that doesn't really transfer into a painting.

He realizes he really needs to see her again.

And more than that, he wants to.


He's sitting on his counter top, holding his phone in his hand, willing himself to just make the call. He could just text her, sure, but that would be lame. And he's kinda past being lame. Or he's trying to be past it, anyway.

Kurt's out shopping with his boyfriend and no doubt he'll come home with a bunch of new clothes for Finn too because that's what he always does. But Finn thinks maybe this time he'll have use for the new clothes—if, you know, Rachel says yes anyway.

Oh fuck it, he thinks and finally dials her number. She picks up on the first ring.

"Hello?" He smiles automatically because he really likes the sound of her voice and—wow, what was that about not being lame?

He clears his throat. "Rachel, hey. It's, um, it's me. Finn," he adds.

"I know," she says, and he can hear the smile in her voice.

"Oh. Cool." He fumbles for a moment about what to say because he probably should have planned this out more, but it's too late now. He doesn't think, "hang on while I go think of a good way to ask you out; I'll call you back in a while" is really gonna work here. "What're you doing for New Year's?"

He hears her suck in a breath and he's not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. "I don't—I don't have any specific plans. Why?" she asks shyly, and he can picture the way her tongue would be sliding over her bottom lip nervously and he hopes that doesn't make him seem like a stalker or something.

"Well, we're having this, you know thing and—oh hell," he mutters. "I was gonna see if I could rope you into coming over as a favor since I went to that Christmas party with you." He pauses. "But actually I just wanted to see you again. If you're not busy, we could, I dunno, do something…if you want," he adds hastily.

He's aware that he probably sounds like an idiot, but he can't really help it and he thinks he hears her giggling or something on her side of the line and he wonders what that means. "I appreciate your honesty," she says. "I'd like to see you again, too."

"Cool." He grins, even though she can't see it. This time he remembers where she lives and how to get there, so he tells her he'll come get her at like "Seven or something." And he knows giving a specific time is more suave and socially acceptable, but it's sort of last minute and this way if they have to improvise plans, it's not a big deal.

"I'll see you soon," he tells her.

"I'll be looking forward to it. Bye, Finn."

He's looking forward to it, too.

But he should probably clean up his apartment first.


Finn rubs his hands together nervously before knocking on the door of the apartment he remembers is Rachel's.

She opens it after a moment and he nearly loses his breath and all that girly stuff because she looks…even if he was good at words—which is really isn't—he'd be at a loss.

Her hair is in soft curls and she's wearing a red dress that fits just right and her coat is slung over her forearm and he really needs to come up with something to say before she gets creeped out. "You look—" he croaks. He clears his throat. "You look beautiful," he murmurs. He wants to tell her she didn't have to dress up for him, but that's sort of patronizing and she put in all the effort, so he might as well appreciate it.

Though he feels a bit underdressed because all he's wearing are jeans that Kurt bought him (see, Kurt brining home clothes for him never fails) that fit a little tighter than he's used to and a black sweater. But he guesses it's all okay because the way she's smiling at him is making his heart hammer in his chest. And even if that's not normal, he just really likes it.

He helps her with her coat as she thanks him quietly, and when she turns around to lock her door, he can't help but get a peak at her ass—which is really great, by the way.

"How, um, how's your nose?" he asks lamely, leading her downstairs.

She laughs outright. "It's healed," she says. "But thanks for asking."

He laughs too.


When she asks him what he has planned for the night, he shrugs. "I dunno," he answers honestly. "I thought maybe we could go to the supermarket and go back to my place, maybe make dinner together." He's still low on cash, but he'd taken some out of his savings account that he'd forgotten he'd had since it'd been so long since he used it.

But anyway, he was feeling better—a little, anyway—so maybe he'd get back in the job-hunting swing. But he has the bottle of wine Puck had gotten him for Christmas—his favorite kind—and he figures they can make use of that too. Kurt's out tonight and will be for the next couple days.

If he'd been listening when Kurt explained what his New Year's plans were, then he'd know exactly what was going on, but he hadn't been. Because all that he'd been thinking about was how he'd have the apartment to himself and there was a girl he really liked and, well, basically it's the best he's felt in a long time.

But Rachel agrees and he's pretty sure he can hear her mumble something about it being "so romantic" under her breath and he smiles. It's a bit chilly as they walk, hand in hand, to the store, but it doesn't bother him. It's colder where he's from, and anyway, his blood is warm enough probably for both of them. But he notices a shiver run through her, and he pulls her closer to his body, wrapping an arm around her waist.

She smiles up at him gratefully and suddenly, he stops.

She looks up at him, confused, but he can't hold it back any longer. His head dips down and he presses his lips against hers, his eyes fluttering closed. He's about to pull back and apologize, but she's already grasping at his hair and opening her mouth under his and he's pretty sure that's a good sign.

He was right about her lips being soft and he can taste the cherry-flavored lip gloss she's wearing, and peppermint and something else he can't really classify but he wonders if it's normal to feel so attached to someone after only three dates. And this only counts as the third if you count the day they met as one and their fake favor date as two.

But he doesn't really care because she's given him the one thing no one and nothing else has been able to in months.

And that's gotta be worth something.


This is the ninth time they've gone out now—since New Years—and things just keep getting better and better. They'd spent New Year's mostly drunk and watching crappy movies while eating good food and it was brilliant.

Now she's over at his place again and he leads her into his room because Kurt will be home any minute now and he doesn't feel like explaining, not yet anyway.

He notices she's glancing around his bedroom, but she stops and her mouth falls open when her eyes land on a stack of paintings. He winces as she picks them up and looks through them because, well, they're all of her. There's the first one from Santana's party, and there's one of her and the way she'd looked at him when they'd pulled away from their first kiss. And there's one from two nights ago when he'd first heard her sing.

He'd been mesmerized because he'd never heard or seen anything so completely breathtaking that as soon as they'd parted ways, he'd immediately began drawing details from his mind to paint it. He sort of wishes he could just be swallowed up by a hole in a floor. "Finn, what are these?" she asks, looking back to him.

"I—" He sighs. "I dunno, whenever I try to paint now, it's like all I can paint is you. I mean, most of what I think about is you, and I don't mean to freak you out, and I can get rid of them if you want, but you're the first thing that's inspired me in forever," he confesses softly.

She sets the stack of canvas down and takes his hand, pulling him toward her. "You're really talented," she says.

He doesn't know what to say to that. "I—what?"

"I was just more surprised than anything," she tells him. "You could have told me. You probably should have told me, actually, but they're beautiful."

It's because you're beautiful, he thinks. But he doesn't say it because she's already leaving a trail of kisses down his neck and he can't really think. Maybe he doesn't want to, though.


He's been seeing Rachel for about four months now, and considered her his girlfriend for the better part of three. Before, they were just in this weird state of dating or whatever even though it wasn't exclusive. Except that it was because neither of them saw or thought about anyone else. It's just that he'd finally mustered up the courage to tell her he thought they should be exclusive—and she'd agreed.

But the other thing is, he has a job now. It's not ideal 'cause it's just as an assistant in a local art gallery, but it's way better than nothing. And now he has stable income again, and it's still better than working at a fucking pizzeria. So there you go.

The weird thing is that he still hasn't spent the night at Rachel's house—or been inside it, actually. She comes over all the time, and sometimes she stays at his place, but whenever he drops her off at hers, she gives him a hard kiss and tells him she'll talk to him tomorrow.

It bothers him, but he never has the guts to say anything.


Most of his paintings are still of her, but he doesn't mind and neither does she; she likes the attention. But sometimes she poses for him—not like, naked you perv—and he paints her portrait and he loves it.

He's pretty sure he loves her, too, but he hasn't said it yet because it's only been six months and he's never been good at social protocols.

But he paints other things too now, sometimes. Mostly whatever she tells him to. Sometimes it's a bowl of oranges, sometimes it's Kurt and his boyfriend eating breakfast. Sometimes it's the view out the window—which is basically nothing, but she says she likes the colors of it. But it works out okay because she's pretty much his muse.

That's a lie; there's no pretty much about it. She's his muse, even when she's not trying to be. But it's all right and more than all right because his life is finally starting to look like he pictured it when he first moved to the city.


And it's all great. All almost seven months have been so great.

Until she breaks up with him.


"Rachel, what are you talking about?" he asks after she tells him it's "just not working."

"You and me," she repeats, but there's something in her eyes that worries him. "And I don't have time for this relationship anymore. I'm sorry, Finn."

"This is bullshit," he mutters.


He snorts bitterly. "If you wanna break up with me, the least you could do is be honest with me." He paces around the hallway in front of her apartment, watching her from the corner of his eye. "You don't just suddenly not have time forsomeone you love!"

"I don't l—" she starts.

"Oh, the hell you don't," he interrupts. "You love me, Rachel. And I love you and we both know it. But if this isn't what you want, then fine."

He looks at her one last time, dejectedly, before turning away and marching down the stairs.

It figures because he was only on his way to tell her that the director of the gallery was giving him a small exhibit.

But now he's not sure if he can deal with it.


He doesn't lose his job this time, which is nice. But he doesn't really enjoy it either. Or anything.

He can still paint—sort of. But he's always running out of blue and black paints because those seem to be the only ones he uses anymore.

Pictures of Rachel sitting by the window, missing him—wishful thinking, probably. But he doesn't care. Because it's just not fair. Kurt asks him nearly every day if he's all right, and he always replies with the same brusque "fine."

He's tired all the time, too. Mostly because he doesn't sleep. Because when he sleeps he can't block out all his images of Rachel.

Rachel laying in the grass at Central Park as he sketches her in charcoal, Rachel laughing when he tells a stupid joke, Rachel blushing furiously the first time she met Kurt. Rachel's face when he's inside of her, thrusting desperately, and the way her breath catches as she comes. And how whenever he compliments her, she looks at him with utter adoration.

He just can't escape it, so he paints it instead—even if it's all a little more twisty and depressing and whatnot. It's still not bad art, he guesses, because the director is still offering him that exhibit.

This time, though, he accepts.


"Are you sure about this?" Kurt asks him.

"Yep," he says simply. Just because Rachel decided he wasn't worth it or whatever doesn't mean he's gonna waste the shitload of paintings he did of her, considering they're all his best works. And you know, whatever, it's cool. (Okay, it's not but since most of his other stuff is crap he doesn't have much choice).

He looks at one, biting his lip because he's pretty sure he can feel a tear form in the corner of his eye and he just doesn't need this right now.

It's Rachel, dressed only in one of his shirts, standing in the middle of his living room on his birthday and singing her heart out—her birthday present to him. She'd been so nervous about whether or not he'd appreciate it, but it had been the best gift he'd ever been given. Her voice is so powerful and filled with so much emotion, especially when she sings, that it's his favorite song. Even now.

Maybe especially now, seeing as he doesn't get to hear her anymore.

Kurt sighs, but helps him load up his paintings to be taken to the gallery.

Finn tells himself that it'll be fine and that his heart isn't still broken, because this could be his moment. And no matter what happened between them, he only got there because of Rachel.

He wipes at his eyes and lets out a slow breath.

His mom's always told him it's a make it or break it world.

And he's hoping this will put him on the path to really making it.


He's talking to an older couple when he sees her in his periphery. He politely excuses himself, making his way over to her, trying not to convey his confusion and surprise, but probably failing.

"What are you doing here?" he asks quietly, but not unkindly. He wasn't expecting her to show up at his display, let alone on the opening day, though there are a lot more people here checking out his stuff than he'd expected.

She bites her lips. "I'm sorry," she whispers.

He wants to take her in his arms and rock her and tell her it's all good, it's all right. But he can't, not yet.

"For what?" He needs to know because if he can understand, maybe they can fix it—and that's what he wants. He wants to fix it more than he wants to see Eric Clapton on tour—which he does, like, a lot.

"Can we talk—outside?" He can see that her eyes are red and she's probably been crying and his heart squeezes painfully.

"I can't," he says. Her face falls and she gets ready to leave, but he reaches for her wrist. "I mean," he adds, "I have to stay here for the exhibit. But tonight—after, we can—we can talk. I'll be done cleaning up in, like, an hour and a half. Is that…does that work?"

He sees the ghost of a smile flicker across her lips and she nods her head, telling him she'll be waiting right outside before disappearing.

He's distracted the rest of the night when people ask him about his inspiration for all these works of art, though he finds himself smiling when he hears people talking about how beautiful his paintings are.

It's unusual; not a lot of people really cared about art or believed in him that much growing up.

So it feels good, you know?


"I'm sorry," she says again as he walks up to her later.

"What's going on?" he asks, concerned.

She lets out a deep breath and grabs for his hand; he lets her. "I've been working so hard lately," she says, looking thoughtful. "Anyway, I was rehearsing all the time. I was finally going to be in a Broadway play. They pretty much guaranteed the role to me, Finn," she whispers, her eyes tearing up again.

He doesn't say anything, just lets her collect her thoughts because she needs him to listen and despite everything, he just wants to be what she needs.

"They changed their minds." She sniffles a little and wipes her nose on her sleeve, swallowing audibly. "They promised me my first Broadway role and then they took it away. I'm twenty-five, Finn. I thought—I thought I'd have a Tony by now," she admits. "It's stupid."

"It's not," he says, his voice quiet.

She gives him a little smile and continues. "And your art and everything, you were doing so well and still are, I guess. Anyway, I didn't want to be or seem unsuccessful in comparison and I didn't—" She pauses again, smoothing her skirt down with her hands. "I don't want you to think I just want to be the center of attention and I don't want to be with you if you're more well-off than I am—that isn't it."

He keeps listening, but things are starting to clear up for him because, well, he's been there. But before he can offer her any support, she's going on. "I just got frustrated because I've been trying so hard and I didn't want it to seem like I was competing with you." She shakes her head, like that isn't the phrasing she's looking for. "I didn't want you to think I was nothing," she says after a moment, her voice shaky.

It breaks him. He rests his hands on her shoulders, looking down into her eyes. "Rachel," he murmurs. "I-I think you're everything."

She opens her mouth to speak, but he places his index finger over her mouth. "Shh." He presses a kiss to her forehead. "You've given me everything, Rach," he tells her honestly. "You gave me my inspiration and my confidence, or helped me get them back anyway. And I can never repay you for that. But I've been there."

He tells her about how when they met he'd been daydreaming about art supplies because he'd been broke and uninspired and he was starting to loathe the city and himself. He tells her about how his whole life he's always been told he was gonna be nothing, and even though Kurt tries to support him, it didn't always matter when Kurt was so successful and for a long time, Finn wasn't. So many times he thought about giving up.

And then one day he started painting again and it looked good and it was her. "I just came to the city all those years ago to find something better. And I did," he says quietly. "And she's standing here in front of me and I promise you don't have to feel like you're nothing. Because you're the most hardworking, most talented person I even know."

She's crying again and he curses to himself because this isn't what he wanted to happen, but then he realizes she's hugging him too, so maybe it's not the bad kind of crying after all.

"You're right," she says after a while. He's walking her home again, his exhibit nearly forgotten as her hand clutches tightly to his.

That isn't something people tell him that often, so he has to ask, "What?"

"I do love you."

He smiles to himself as they reach her apartment building.

"Yeah," he says. "I know. I hope that I love you too counts for something."

She's standing in front of her door, holding on to the front of his shirt. "It counts for a lot of somethings," she assures him, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Come inside," she whispers.

And there's no way he can pass that up.


Her apartment is small but tidy, and there are lots of bright colors. It suits her, he decides.

Her hand slips to the zipper of his jeans. "C-can I…?"

He nods, suddenly glad he decided not to wear a belt. "On one condition."

Her eyes snap to his and they're full of passion and he grips her waist. "Let me stay," he says. She starts to open her mouth, but he shakes his head. "I don't mean just stay here tonight—though that's part of it. Let me stay with you, you know, as your boyfriend. Whatever you need, Rachel, I'll do my best for you because you deserve it, especially from me. You helped me get my life back, and I wanna do that for you, too."

She's crying again and nodding into his chest. "I was hoping you'd say something along those lines," she muffles into the fabric of his shirt. She pulls away and glances up at him. "Though you always claim to be inept at speaking your feelings, but that was wonderful, Finn. It was perfect."

"Well, I have my moments," he teases before capturing her mouth.

She leads him to her bedroom and part of him wants to check it out, feel her space, but he's more focused on the way her hands feel against his skin; hot and desperate. He hasn't been with anyone since they broke up and he's missed her in so many way, sex being just one of them.

He peels off her skirt as he kicks his shoes off, leaning over her on the bed. And wow, her bed is way more comfortable than his and he's really not sure why they he hasn't been here before, but he makes sure to ask that later, since he's a bit preoccupied right now.

He feels her breasts pressed up against his naked chest as he moves above her, panting. He hasn't exactly forgotten how tight she is and how good she feels around him as he pumps into her, but he's sort of back-burnered how good it felt, still feels.

She's sighing out his name, her legs wrapped around his waist, and he sinks into her on so many levels; he's inside her in so many ways, he knows. Just like she's inside him too. And when she shatters and calls out his name—his own end not far afterward—he cradles her in his arms until they both fall asleep.

Things are pretty much right again, he thinks.


When he rolls out of her bed in the morning, she's wearing his T-shirt and making pancakes, singing a Celine Dion song to herself.

"Hey, babe," he greets, planting a kiss on the back of her neck.

"Hi," she whispers back. "Hungry?"


She laughs and he grins in return.

And while they're eating pancakes, she looks at him bemusedly. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," he agrees. He doesn't see why not. And even though people usually say that to preface a question that will be difficult to answer, he still doesn't mind. He wants them to have a relationship where they're both comfortable sharing whatever it is they want to share. And he doesn't want her to feel like they need to keep a bunch of secrets, even if there might be things he isn't gonna bring up as a conversation starter or whatever.

"Do you ever wish you'd done something besides art? Something that other people would consider more practical?"

It's not really what he's expected, but he does his best to answer. "Not really," he answers. "A degree in art probably isn't relevant to anything for a lot of people. But I only went to college for the credit." He's not sure if he should admit that or not, but it's too late now and her eyes are sparkling with mirth anyway. "I've always needed the creative outlet."

He's pushing his last piece of pancake around in the syrup, mulling over the best way to address her question. "It makes me happy, sure. But it lets me, I dunno, be myself, I guess. I never wanted to be the office kinda guy; too boring. But I started taking art classes in high school and I realized I'm actually not a bad painter. And whatever emotion I was feeling, whatever I needed to let go of, I had a way to do it. And now, I mean, if I can evoke in people some of the things I feel when I paint, then that's what I wanna do. Because it's important to me. It's a part of me."

He eats his last bit of pancake. "I don't think just business and stuff is practical. People are a lot more than just money or rationality or whatever. We have feelings and dreams and that stuff is just as important because that's what shows us who we really are. And if I can help people with that, I don't see how I could ever wish I'd done something else."

She's looking at him like he's hung the moon or baked a twenty foot diameter chocolate cake, and he knows that he could never doubt the way he feels about her. He loves her and that's it. "What?" he asks, grinning at the way she's staring at him.

"People ask me that sometimes," she says. "If I would do anything else besides theatre. But you get it. You get why I wouldn't."

She sips at her orange juice, looking at him over the rim of the glass, and he reaches across the table to grab her hand.

He doesn't know how he ended up lucky enough to have her, though breaking someone's nose is probably not gonna seem lucky when it happens—and it hadn't. But he isn't gonna question it now.


He's stir-frying vegetables on the stove when it occurs to him that he's been at her apartment for a while now. And while he wouldn't say he lives there, he's got more than a suitcase worth of clothes in her closet and all his toiletries and stuff are here.

"Can I ask you a question?" he asks, recalling their conversation a couple weeks ago.

"Of course," she responds promptly.

"How come the first time we dated, how come you never let me in your apartment?"

Rachel sighs and moves closer to him, watching him as he continues cooking their dinner. "I don't know, to be honest," she says. "It's not as if I'm embarrassed by my apartment; I have no reason to be. I guess part of it was that I'm just used to being on my own. I love you and I love being with you, but it's been just me for years, as most people find me grating."

He shrugs. "Maybe at first, 'cause you're kinda intense. But I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing," he says thoughtfully. "And it works for you."

She smiles at him. "You think so?"

"Definitely. I spent a lot of time wondering to myself, though."

Her eyebrows rise up and she presses her forehead into his bicep, nipping gently at the muscle there through his t-shirt. "How come you didn't just ask?"

"Not sure," he says, mirroring her answer earlier. "Maybe I was afraid of the answer."

"What else are you afraid of?" she asks quietly.

"Mazes. I hate them. I just…hatethem." A grin cracks on his lips as she laughs heartily, and he loves the sound of it. But then he turns serious. "I'm afraid that all these good things in my life are gonna end. Or just disappear. I mean, I have you. And I'm actually selling my own art now, can you believe it? For a while, I wondered if maybe people were right when they said I wasn't gonna do anything with my life. It feels good to prove them wrong."

She looks deep in thought and she's twisting the hem of her sweater in her fingers, doing that thing again where she bites her lip all sexy-like. "Well, I'm not going anywhere," she promises. "And if everything else does, it won't matter to me. Because like you said before, we can support each other. And help each other get our lives back. You know so much, Finn," she says. "So much more than people think you do. And I know you're capable of so much."

He nearly cries (shut up) because he's not sure anyone has ever believed in him this much and the force of Rachel's faith in him is nearly enough to buckle his knees—in the best way possible.


"Don't you think you should just admit that you're living with Rachel?" Kurt asks one night as Finn is finishing up his laundry. "It's not a big deal, but you're hardly here anymore."

"Miss me, bro?" he jests, ignoring Kurt's playful eyeroll. "Actually," he starts. "We're, um, we're getting our own place together. A new place."

His brother looks surprised, but he smiles in appreciation. "I'm really happy for you," he says. "And I'm glad that the rare occurrence when she's over here I won't have to hear you two going at it like monkeys."

Finn's face turns red, but he swats Kurt away. "We don't go at it like monkeys," he insists, folding a pair of jeans. "We just like…expressing ourselves…and stuff."

"Just stop, I beg of you." This time, it's Finn's turn to roll his eyes. But he's glad Kurt isn't upset about having one less renter, though he supposes Finn will just have his boyfriend—Sam—move in with him. He likes Sam and he's glad Kurt's happy, too. And it's probably win-win for all of them.

Because even though Finn doesn't say anything about the times he's heard Kurt and Sam, he totally could.

Instead, he gives one last glance to Kurt before heading to his room, laundry in tow, to call Rachel.


When he meets her dads for the first time, it's nearly a disaster. They're both super intimidating—one because he's like six feet tall and super muscled, and the other because, well…he just is.

They come up to visit for Christmas and they're nicebut they really love Rachel and he can tell just from the way they look at him that he'll be in huge trouble if he breaks her heart.

But he manages to convince them that he loves their daughter beyond measure and he'll never intentionally hurt her, which is all they can really ask for. He notices Rachel watching the three of them in amusement and winks at her, causing her to laugh.

They can't have sex because her dads are in the second bedroom of their shared apartment—he really loves actuallyliving with Rachel, by the way—and they both have their limits. But he covers her in kisses, some light and some hot and open-mouthed, whispering about a million times that he loves her. Just in case she forgot.

She assures him that she hasn't, but she thanks him all the same and makes sure he knows that she loves him too.


"What's up?" he asks as he unlocks the door and sees her lounging on the couch.

She yawns tiredly. "Not much. Rehearsal ran late tonight and I decided not to go to Pilates class tonight because of it, which is why I'm home before you, if that's what you're wondering."

"I was, but I'm definitely not complaining."

She grins. "How's the set up going?" she asks, wrapping her arms around him as he plops down next to her, rubbing her back with his hand.

"Really good, actually. It's insane. I just never thought I'd have my own gallery," he admits. "Even when I first moved to the city."

He realizes that since he's moved to the city, he's found exactly what it was he was looking for. And a whole lot more.

"It's going to be fabulous," she murmurs against his lips before kissing him, deep and slow. "You're wonderful."

He laughs. "I dunno about that, but I know I couldn't have done it without you. We make a pretty good team, don't ya think?"

She answers by slipping her hands into the front of his pants and he groans at the contact. That's one of the many things he loves about Rachel; she can be so unpredictable sometimes, and (usually) in the best ways. She'd finally gotten her role on Broadway and he'll be opening his own gallery in about two months and he doesn't feel like he has any reason to complain about things. Because life is, for the most part, basically awesome.

A bit later, as she's snuggled up next to him on the couch under the blanket, her breath warm against his shoulder, he turns to look at her. "So listen, he starts. I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor."

"Go on."

"Puck's having this party because—well, being alive is really the only reason he needs to have a good time. Anyway, I kinda need a date." He presses a kiss to her hair. "And you're the first person I thought of."

She's looking up at him, that small appreciative smile on her lips, even if she looks a little sheepish. "You remember that?" she asks.

"'Course," he answers. "I remember being amazed that Iwas the first person you thought of when you made up that you needed a date. You've intrigued me since then," he admits.

"Have you found out anything interesting?"

"Lots," he confirms. "But there's always more to discover and I've grown to like challenges a lot more. Especially when they involve you."

He pushes her down onto the couch so he's leaning over her, hard again.

She moans as his fingers press against her wet flesh. "Is that a yes about the date?" he manages.

She tries to laugh, but it comes out raspy. "Of course," she grounds out. "Always."


That's way more than a good enough answer for him.

if you've read this whole thing, i thank you deeply. and if you've enjoyed it at all, i'm glad. either way, your thoughts are extremely valuable to me and help me become a better writer.