"How can I tell you that I love you..."

The weather matches her mood today – gray, pale, no sun breaking through, melancholy. She stands on her front porch, looking at the washed out sky, debating whether or not to take an umbrella with her. Will the drizzle turn into rain? It's a good day to hide inside the house and read...if she didn't have to go school. Her stomach hurts a little bit at the thought of going. Too much drama there lately. She is nothing if not a girl who usually loves her drama – making it, being in the middle of it – but lately it's just been too painful. Maybe she'll get lucky and Quinn's parents will have shipped her off to a home for fallen women by now.

She can't help grinning a little at that thought before scolding herself. Quinn is her teammate and her...friend? No. Colleague? No. Frenemy, at the very best. Whatever she is, Rachel does truly believe they need to stick together right now, no matter what's between them. No matter who is between them. All sweet-smiling, brown-eyed, six-foot-three of him.

At least she'll get to see him today.

And right on cue, the sun makes a bid to peek through the haze. She pulls up the hood on her pink raincoat and decides against taking the umbrella.

When the sun goes back in its hidey hole, she walks a little faster, humming to herself, looking at the sidewalk to avoid squishing any worms. Worms are gross and she doesn't really care about hurting them, she just doesn't want to get worm guts on her new Converse. They're custom-made, pink and red, and she'd hate—

"Oof!" she gasps, running smack into something large and hard. She stumbles back and looks up to see what she's run into. Six-foot-three, brown eyes, but not smiling just now, he's just standing in the middle of the sidewalk, looking up at the sky. His face is shiny with moisture and she guesses instantly he's been standing here awhile. He doesn't even look down to see what's hit him. It's like he's a thousand miles away in the middle of Grove Street. "Finn!"

He finally looks down and stares at her for a minute, his face blank, like he's not sure what he's seeing, like he's trying to decide if she's real. She smiles at him and he seems to come back to himself, waking up. "Hi, Rachel. What are you doing here?"

"Walking to school."

"Oh yeah. Me too." But he just stands there looking at her.

"Want to walk with me?" she asks timidly.


She smiles at him again and fights off the urge to take his arm. They walk, but slower than she had been before. He sets the pace and doesn't seem to be in a hurry. And he's not saying anything. She bites her lip, feeling the need to fill the void, feeling the need to reel him back from wherever he is. She racks her brain for a safe topic. The weather, that's safe.

"So how about this—"

"Don't you love this kind of weather?" he asks, cutting her off. She laughs to herself – she wasn't the only one hoping to fill the void, it seems.

"Yeah," she says. "It's like...like you still get that fresh, clean rain scent in the air but you don't get totally soaked."

"Yes! That's exactly what it's like," he agrees, nodding his head excitedly, grinning like she hasn't seem him do since he was on Mrs. Schuester's blue pills. Wow, he must really love this weather.

"And everything sort of looks like we're walking through a JRR Tolkien novel," she adds.

"That's the 'Lord of the Rings' guy, right?" She nods and he beams again. "Yeah! You're totally right." He sighs deeply, but he's smiling, his eyes bright in the dim morning light. He seems happy now, not lost at sea like he was when she found him, and that makes her happy. Proud.

"Hey, Rach, guess what?" he says a half a block later, touching her hand briefly. It's just a brush but her heart sings.


"Quinn's going to have a girl."

Now her heart feels like a block of cement in her chest, crushing her lungs so she can hardly breathe. "Oh." She tries to sound a little more cheerful, for his sake. "Wow. I-I didn't know that."

"Yeah, and after I found out, I started thinking of all these baby names, you know? I just couldn't help it. It was like, wow, this is real, really real, so she should have a name."

Rachel keeps her head down, squeezing her eyes shut for a moment, trying to tamp down the burning sensation in her throat. "What-what names?" she manages to choke out.

So he tells her about how he Googled celebrity baby names and about his love for apples and how that somehow led to the creation of the best baby name ever. "Drizzle," he finishes.

"Drizzle," she repeats. "Like the weather?"

"Exactly. What do you think?"

Rachel ponders how to answer that. "What did Quinn think?"

"She hated it," he says, a frown creasing his forehead. Rachel can't say she blames the other girl, but then Finn goes on, "She doesn't want to pick a name at all. She wants to...get rid of it. Like, adoption."

Rachel can see the conflict rippling across his gentle, open face; she can hear the sadness in his voice, the pain. It makes her sad, too, his emotions hers. It's weird – Rachel knows that Finn and Quinn are far from prepared or equipped to be parents, and certainly adoption is the best choice, but she can't help feeling, too, that Finn would take to it like a duck to water. He'd be wonderful as a father – most boys his age would be running for the nearest Greyhound bus out of town if they found out their girlfriend were pregnant. But not him. Rachel kind of hates Quinn more than ever – she's lucky a thousand times over to have gotten pregnant by this boy and not some other boy. Someone like Puck, for example.

She doesn't ask what he'd rather do about the baby – she knows, she thinks, so she reverts to the original topic. "I think Drizzle might be a hard name to grow up with, Finn," she says honestly.

"You do?"

"A little. Especially for a girl. Girls want pretty names."

"Like Rachel," he says simply, off-handedly, and she almost trips, stumbling forward. "Whoa!" He catches her by the arm, keeping her upright. "Careful there."

"Th-thanks," she says, embarrassed, blushing. But when he folds his arm around hers, keeping her close as they continue walking, her cheeks burn brighter as her heart starts to race. She can't help it – she grips his arm, taking the opportunity given. She can feel the hard muscles under his letter jacket.

"So what would you name her instead?" Finn continues.

Picking a name for her would-be boyfriend's baby by another girl... Not how she imagined this walk going when she started it. "Um, I dunno. You said you like apples, right?"

"But Apple is already taken. I don't want to be a copy-cat."

"What about Pink Lady, then?" Rachel suggests, off the top of her head. "That's a kind of apple. They're my favorite."

"Pink Lady," he repeats slowly, like he's tasting the name in his mouth. "Pink Lady. Pink Lady Hudson." The grin that spreads across his face is an easy replacement for the day's lacking sun.

"Pink Lady Hudson," she says, too, liking that he likes it. Liking it despite the deep ache it causes her. "You could call her Pinky."

"I love it. That's the best baby name ever," he says, apparently forgetting all about ill-fated Drizzle. Rachel watches him as he seems to contemplate his future daughter, Pink Lady; she can almost see how her life flashes before his eyes, the softness that comes to his face as he pictures all the ways he'll spoil daddy's little girl Pinky.

Rachel loves him. The realization emerges like a memory resurfacing – she knew it somewhere in her mind but hadn't really known it until just now. Not a crush, not an infatuation, not an obsession. She loves him. She knows it. She almost says it out loud, the words pushing against her lips. She can't let them out, though. It wouldn't be fair - not fair to him because he's still with Quinn, sticking with her. And not fair to herself, either. She has to protect herself.

As mercurial as the sun, however, his face changes again. Rachel thinks he should never take up poker. A darkness falls over him, his grin gone, the softness replaced by hurt and sadness. They slow down and stop, coming to the curb at an intersection. She can see the school on the other side of the street, the low buildings surrounded by the huge, treeless grounds. A car passes but they don't cross the street, just standing there, and he says quietly, almost to himself, "But she's getting rid of it." He drops his arm, letting hers slip away. He looks her in the eyes, searching for something. An answer maybe, like she could have one. "She's giving the baby to someone else."

She doesn't know what to say about that – there's nothing she can say, nothing she can do but reach out for him, take his hand, hold it in hers. She thinks she sees tears in eyes but then can't be sure because the sky finally cracks open, dropping sheets of rain down on them, suddenly, fiercely.

Just as suddenly but without the ferocity, he pulls her closer, a hand around her waist, leaning down as she stretches up, her hood falling away as they kiss. She tastes the rain and his mouth; she feels her hair getting soaked and his hand on her back. She's drowning in the rain, in him. She won't push him away.

He ends the kiss gently, wiping wet strands of hair off her face. "I can't go in there," he says, and if they weren't so close, she wouldn't be able to hear him over the rain. She wonders for a moment what he means but it's clear when he adds, "Let's ditch school today."

Rachel's eyes get wide. She has never ditched a day of school, not even when people started throwing slushies on her. Ditching school means detentions and groundings and uncomfortable consequences. Ditching school is for the bad kids. Rachel Berry doesn't ditch school. But Rachel Berry has never been in love before. "Okay," she hears herself say.

"I long to tell you that I'm always thinking of you..."

She stands in the hall outside his bedroom, shivering, watching from there as he digs through his dresser drawer. He finds a sweatshirt and gives it a sniff. "These are clean," he says, bringing the shirt and a pair of gym shorts to her. She thanks him, still shivering, but half her shivers aren't from being cold, she knows. She's nervous and excited being here, alone with him in his house, ditching school, with no idea what's going to happen.

"Bathroom's there," he says, pointing the way. "There are towels in the closet behind the door." She shivers again, and he says, "If you want...if you want to take a hot shower, go for it."

"I think I just need to get these wet clothes off," she answers.

"Yeah." He's quiet for a moment and she can't bring herself to look at him, the nerves and shyness overwhelming. "Me too."

She nods and turns away, going into the bathroom and shutting the door, leaning heavily against it as she tries to calm down and stop shaking. She catches sight of herself in the mirror and almost doesn't recognize herself. She's used to seeing a young girl staring back, someone full of girlish wishes and dreams but with no real experience of the world. Now, though she still sees the girl there, she thinks she can see someone else, someone older, peeking through, waiting to emerge. It's a strange feeling, an out-of-body sensation. She doesn't know what it means.

She emerges from the bathroom dressed in his old Woodrow Wilson Jr. High sweatshirt, which isn't too enormous, the drawstring of his shorts cinched tight around her waist, and her hair restored thanks to the blow-dryer she found in the closet. She feels a bit more normal now, calmer, in control of herself. She thinks it's the hair, actually; if her hair is okay, she's okay.

She finds him in the kitchen, staring at the coffee maker while it dribbles into the pot. He's cleaned up too, in a pair of long track pants and a gray t-shirt, his feet bare like hers. She's never seen him without shoes on before and for some reason the sight of his feet fascinates her. They're big. And pale. And finely shaped.

"There you are," he says. "Girls sure do take a long time in the bathroom." She gives him a look and he grins that goofy grin of his, the one that kills her every time. "Do you want some coffee?"

"I'd love some. With lots of milk and sugar, please."

"You got it." She watches him move around the kitchen, preparing two cups for them. She laughs at his excitement when he finds a package of Entenmann's donut holes in the cupboard. One would think he'd just found Blackbeard's buried treasure chest in there, not donuts. He stuffs one in his mouth and offers her one, too. She normally doesn't eat pastries – totally empty calories – but today she's doing a lot of things she doesn't normally do, it seems.

God, that's a good donut, she decides, savoring each little bite she nibbles off.

"You know," he starts, still chewing his own donut and judiciously picking out a second from the box, "since Quinn isn't going to name her baby and stuff, you and me can still totally use Pink Lady if we ever have a kid."

It takes a few seconds for her to understand and then process what he's said, but when she does, and for the second time that morning, she's accosted by something he's said so off-handedly and easily, like there's absolutely no filter between his brain and his mouth. She starts choking on her donut, coughing and wheezing in a most unattractive fashion, her eyes watering, her face going scarlet. "Rachel!" he yelps, panicked, rushing over to whack her on the back a few times. He's about to Heimlich her, she thinks, so she waves him off.

"I'm fine," she gasps, trying to swallow and cough at the same time. She coughs a few more times, clearing her throat, assuring him she's not actually dying. "Sorry," she finally says, hoarsely, when she's better. "Went down the wrong pipe."

"I could totally save you, if you really were in trouble," he says. Rachel stares at him, pretty sure that's the truest thing she's ever heard. "I took classes at the YMCA."

She nods, unable to think of anything to say at the moment, utterly dumbstruck. This boy is going to be the death of her, that's all she knows right now.

It's actually their parents who are going to kill them, but she already knew that the moment she said yes to skipping school.

It's raining harder than ever outside but inside, they're warm and dry, the lamp in the corner beating back the gloom with a warm yellow glow. They're next to each other on the couch, halfway through the first disk of season one of "30 Rock", the coffee and donuts almost gone. He laughs at something Alec Baldwin says and bumps her shoulder with his own, checking to see if she found that funny, too, but in truth, she's enjoying watching him more than she's enjoying the show. She smiles and he smiles back, leaning down. Her stomach flips, knowing he's going to kiss her again, ready for it, wanting it, her every nerve ending sparking. But when first his cell phone rings, followed five seconds later by her own, he stops, the sound of "Don't Stop Believing" clashing with her ringtone of "On My Own", breaking the moment.

She jumps off the couch, digging in her backpack for her phone as he reaches for his. "It's my mom," he says.

She pulls hers out, checking the screen. "One of my dads. The school must've called them."

"What do we say?"

"The truth is always the right answer," Rachel says succinctly, though quite terrified by the prospect.

"I haven't told my mom about the baby situation," he blurts, his phone still ringing.


"I was gonna! I just hadn't decided when yet."

"She's going to find out, you know. This town is too small."

"Oh god. Oh god, oh god. I can't do it now, not like this!" His phone stops ringing, going to his voicemail. He stares at the phone, slumping back against the couch. "Crap."

Her own phone stops ringing. "Crap." She sits down next to him, nervously turning the phone over in her hands. "What do we say?"

"I don't know. All I know is I'm not going to school today. I just want to stay here with you."

She looks at him intensely, her body tingling at his words. "Tell her you're sick. Tell her you started throwing up on the way to school so you came home and went back to bed and forgot to call her." She can't believe she's telling him to lie to his mom. She really is a delinquent now. His knee is bouncing a mile a minute. She touches it, stilling it, continuing, "But you're going to have to tell her the truth tonight. About Quinn, I mean."

He nods slowly, looking at her hand on his knee. "Okay." He dials his mom's number, glancing at her as he waits for the connection. She knows the moment his mom picks up because she can hear the yelling start immediately. "I know, mom, I shoulda called, I know... I got sick. I was throwing up in the bushes and stuff... Yeah."

Rachel listens to him tell his mom a story, glad she isn't here to see her son's face, which is telling an entirely different story. But his mom seems to buy what he's saying – the yelling ceases and Finn starts breathing again. He heaves a sigh when he flips the phone shut. "She bought it."

Rachel nods, feeling guilty. "You promise you'll tell her everything tonight?"

"Yeah. Well... I might not mention the part about having another girl over here alone all day. She might not understand." Rachel ducks her head, blushing, not sure she understands either. "Are you gonna call your dad?"

She speed dials her dad at work and thinks quickly about what she's going to say. As soon as her dad answers, he, too, starts in with the yelling, but she interrupts, "I ditched school today, daddy." That shuts him up and earns a surprised look from Finn. "I'm at Finn's house." Finn sits up, alarmed. "We're just hanging out. He was having a hard morning with all the baby drama stuff."

Finn's jaw drops, panic and shock filling his eyes. He reaches like he's going to take the phone from her, but she holds him off with a firm hand planted to his chest.

"It's been really hard on him, and now with that story going out... Yeah, yeah exactly." Finn looks sick, so she strokes his chest a little, soothingly, willing him to trust her. "I know I'm in trouble but I am fully prepared to accept all the consequences and repercussions without complaint. He's my friend, daddy." Finn is staring at her. "My dearest, most wonderful friend. I had to be here for him..." He puts his hand over hers on his chest, clutching. She half-listens to her dad, her explanations falling on thankfully receptive ears. "I'll see you tonight, we'll talk more about it then. Thank you, daddy." Her eyes lock on Finn's when she says, "I love you." Can Finn read between the lines? Can he hear her? She thinks he might, a soft, yearning look filling his eyes and parting his lips.

She hangs up the phone, Finn still holding her hand to his chest. She can feel how warm his skin is under his clothes and that sends a shiver through her body. "You told your parents about the baby?" he asks, not accusingly but sort of amazed.

"I tell them everything. Well, I don't tell them about the times people threw slushies on me. But everything else."

"Oh. What else do you tell them about me?" he asks shyly.

Again, the urge to tell him she loves him, really tell him, is overwhelming. Why is it so hard? Because everything is so complicated. Because he's Finn Hudson and she's Rachel Berry and they're not meant to be, even if they are. The truth is always the right answer, however... "I tell them how I wish you could be mine," she says softly, looking at their hands.

And then his lips, so soft and full, are on her own, gentle at first, giving her a chance to back away. But she doesn't. She wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him back, still gentle, still tentative, giving him the same out he offered. He doesn't take it either. His hands are on her, pulling her against him, tilting his head to deepen the kiss. Oh god, he's a really good kisser, she realizes, and suddenly she has a moment of pure panic – she's never kissed him like this, never kissed anyone like this – what if she doesn't know how to kiss like this, what if she does it wrong, what if he thinks she's lame because she's not good at it? It freezes her.

"Are you okay?" he asks, his mouth forming the words against her lips.

"I'm nervous," she admits.

"Don't be nervous, Rach. It's just me."

Well that's exactly why she's so nervous! But she knows what he means – she can trust him. And she does. She leans into him again, showing him how she trusts him, letting him set the pace, his kisses deep and slow and searching. He tastes so sweet, traces of donut glaze still clinging to his lips. Without meaning to, she licks the sugar off with the tip of her tongue and he takes that as a sign, touching her tongue with his for the first time ever. A little sound escapes the back of her throat, the sensation at first odd and so intimate, but it soon sparks something powerful inside her - a warm buzzing between her legs, spreading upward into her belly, into her breasts. She presses her chest to his, almost climbing onto his lap, her fingers clutching the soft cotton of his t-shirt. Now she's the one setting the pace, speeding it up, greedy and eager.

"Rachel," he murmurs approvingly, one hand sliding down her back, reaching for her bottom, and she lets him, she wants him to. Her hips do something of their own accord when he squeezes gently and she thinks she's going to explode. She doesn't know what she's doing. She can't believe what she's doing, what he's doing to her, what they're doing together. She does know what they're doing is wrong. Cheating. Betraying their teammate, his girlfriend, her frenemy. And maybe he's just using her, taking comfort because she's putting it on a plate for him. This is so so wrong.

But she wants more. She wants him. She wants to show him how much she loves him since it seems too hard to say it. She wants to give him all of her, even if she shouldn't. She's still nervous, actually shaking, but she's not afraid. Breathless, she asks, "Can we...can we go to your room?"

"I need to know you, need to feel my arms around you..."

It's messy and awkward and clumsy and rushed.

Finn's just as nervous as she is now – he fumbles with the nightstand drawer as he searches desperately for a condom, still trying to kiss her at the same time, not accomplishing either task with much skill. She's got one hand burrowed under his t-shirt, fingers clutching his back, another trying to untie her shorts and push them down with her underwear, and trying to keep covered with her sweatshirt, too, shy even as they do this. She hears the crinkle of the foil wrapper, feels him shifting around wildly, his knee pinching her thigh as he hurries to get his pants down and get the thing on, his mouth heavy on her neck, his breath fast and hot, his hands everywhere, one pushing up her shirt, grabbing her breast, rubbing it greedily as he positions himself between her legs, his other hand touching her secret area, making her gasp, making her accidentally bite his tongue when he rubs something hard and smooth and hot against her sensitive folds - his most private part seeking to enter hers, and suddenly he is, with a loud grunt he's inside and oh god it hurts, the sharpness, the pressure, and she yelps like an idiot, hardly understanding this thing moving inside in short jerks, not understanding the wetness she feels, embarrassed, and what if he thinks it's gross? does he think it's gross? She chances a look, finds his eyes screwed shut, his mouth open, concentrating, a soft "oh oh oh" escaping his throat as he pushes faster, his whole body jerking atop her, building something inside her, and it tingles, and now it almost feels good, really good, the beginning of something really really good, until he stops and groans, long and deep and loud, collapsing, panting, burying his face against her neck, placing soft kisses there, saying her name.

It's over already. Almost as soon as it started.

She blinks, waylaid, overwhelmed, trying to catch her breath.

That needy tingling is still there, an ache, but fading, unattended. She doesn't know what to do about it so she strokes his sweaty back, still feeling him inside of her. She uses this quiet moment to get used to it, relax around it, and take stock of what the hell just happened.

One. She just had sex.

Two. She's naked from the chest down, and so is he.

Three. She just had sex!

Four. His...penis is inside of her.

Five. She's not going to die a virgin now, yay!

Six. She just had sex. With Finn Hudson.

Seven. It wasn't what she expected.

"Can we take all our clothes off?" she asks a few minutes later, after he's calmed down, after he's taken himself out of her.

So they remove the rest of their clothes, both blushing, and lay quietly, facing each other, looking and touching, gently kissing.

She likes his hands on her and the way he's staring at her. She likes when he murmurs, "You're so hot, Rachel," because she believes him. She likes his chest, how broad and hard it is, and she likes his butt, rubbing her palm over it, smooth and round, firm. She likes the sound her skin makes sliding over it and the sounds he makes while she does it. She likes how pale he is compared to her. She likes how he looks at her chest, likes how his big hand feels on her little boob, gentle now, rubbing his thumb over her nipple, cupping. She always worried about her small breasts, wishing them bigger, but he doesn't seem to mind, given the careful attention he pays to them. She finally dares to look lower, trailing her eyes down to his cock. She stares at it like he's staring at her chest - fascinated, intrigued, wide-eyed. It's...bumpier than she thought it was. Well, not bumpy, but textured, ridged, hair surrounding it, with a funny little cap at the end, and so not like a hotdog, despite the rumors she heard in sixth grade. And despite living with two fathers and having the basics of a sexual education from a set of Time-Life books her dads made her read, Finn is the first man she's ever seen fully naked. And he looks nothing like the drawings in those books.

That buzzing starts between her legs again, and she's about to shift closer to him, but his voice brings her attention back to his darling face.

"I know that wasn't, like...good," he says with regret, stroking her hair, toying with a silky strand.

"I'm not much of a judge," she says honestly.

"But I mean, I know I was too fast, I just..." He touches her face. "I just couldn't control myself, you're just so...you're so...rad."

Rachel has to smile at that, warmed to the very core. Rad, he says. Her lovely, sweet boy, with the words and the trying. "You're rad, too."

"And-and you're beautiful and smart and hot and talented and you're-you're just magic, Rachel. You're perfect."

"I'm not," she argues, thinking for a moment of the outside world they're ignoring right now.

"To me, you are." He takes a shaky breath. "And I am, you know."

She laughs at that. Bold statement! "Well I've always thought so!"

He stares, then realizes what he just said. "Oh, no no, I didn't mean..." He starts laughing too. "I didn't mean that! That totally came out wrong. I meant... Remember what you said before, when you said how-how you wished I could be yours?"

She stops laughing. "Yes?"

"I am yours."

Tears spring to her eyes and she gives him a watery smile, kissing him so she won't start sobbing.

He's not. Not hers. Not wholly. He's not going to ditch Quinn, and Rachel wouldn't be in love with him if he did, if he were the kind of guy who'd ditch his pregnant baby momma like a dirty old sock. She loves him because he's better than that, and so, yeah, he's not wholly hers, and though she wants to tell him sobadly how very much she loves him, how can she?

She just...can't.

She can't say it.

Not until the day he really is all hers, hers and no one else's. Maybe that will happen. Maybe it won't. But for now, hoping it's good enough, she says, "I'm yours, too, Finn."

They cling to each other, their hands seeking, their mouths seeking, their bodies seeking – she can feel his awakening again and hers sure as hell is. She feels herself opening, ready. This – this is what she expected. This feels like the start of that really really good something. He reaches for his nightstand drawer again, slipping a leg between hers and about to roll on top of her, but she stops him, holding him back, asking, "Can I be on top?"

"each night and day I pray, in hope that I might find you..."

She can't sleep that night. Her bed feels too big for some reason. And she can't stop thinking about him, about his adorable butt, about what they did that day, about how she found out well what that really really good thing was, about what will happen when they're back in school tomorrow, about whether today was just stolen from her daydreams or something real, about all the consequences and repercussions to come and about how her fathers decided to give her the "sex talk" earlier that evening, over dinner. A little too late, dads! She didn't tell them that, though – they don't need to know everything.

She sighs, tentatively touching herself under her covers – she swears she can still feel him. She closes his eyes and pretends he's there, pretends he's got his hand on her-

"On My Own" suddenly fills the silent room, way too loudly, interrupting her activity. Her phone. She flings herself out of bed and grabs it off the vanity table. Her heart jumps a mile when she sees who it is.

"Finn?" she answers.

"I miss you," he says suddenly, no preamble.

"I miss you," she says, emotional.

He's quiet for a while and she checks to make sure the call didn't drop. She thinks she can hear something from his end – she listens, straining, and realizes he's crying. Her chest squeezes and she clutches her pajama top, scared. "Finn, what's the matter? Did someone die?" she yelps, panicked. He doesn't respond, just seems to be crying harder, and she knows freaking out won't help. She pictures him in his room, sitting on his bed, upset and alone, and so wishes she could be there with him, comfort him, hold him. Her voice is soft and small when she asks, "What is it? What's wrong, baby bear?"

She's never called anyone by a pet name before. Not even a pet. It sounds kinda weird coming out of her mouth but she thinks she could get used to it.

He sucks in a wet, shaky breath. "I did what you said. I talked to my mom tonight. About Quinn, the baby, all that... We talked for hours. She asked me, like, a million questions. And she...she explained a lot of things to me."

He falls quiet again, so she prompts, "Like what?"

"Things I should've known!" he shouts suddenly, making her jump. "I'm sorry. Sorry," he says instantly. His voice is so choked. It hurts to listen. "Rachel... Can I come over? I have to see you."

It's one in the morning, and it's late October, freezing outside and still drizzling. "I'll be waiting for you out front."

"I have so much to tell you," he says.

"Okay," she replies, holding onto her calm as best she can. She needs to stay strong, no matter what it is he has to tell her. "I'll see you soon. I love you," she says, not even thinking about it.


That wasn't so hard.

"I love you, too, Rach," he answers without hesitation, and he's gone, the call ended.

She stands there, frozen, amazed, the silent phone still pressed to her ear, catching her dim reflection in the mirror. Is that her? Is that the same girl who woke up this morning?

Not really, no.

She puts the phone down and turns on the lamp, smiling at her reflection as she starts to get dressed.