A/N: So this is a birthday present for my dear friend, music spouse (sometimes more loved than my real spouse), and one of my favorite writers, Wendi - also known as holygoof101. If only baby holder in a bar bathroom had happened like a week later; I guess this will have to do. Happy Birthday! She prompted me with the song (Hurricane) The Formal Weather Pattern by Something Corporate. Not only is it now on permanent rotation, I'm pretty sure it's never coming out of my head. And you can play a game of spot the random lyrics if you'd like. It's like the FF version of Where's Waldo. Oh, and props to Lizzie (Paceismyhero) for the ending-related help and Jen (wants2beawriter) for the impromptu beta.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, really. And some of the stuff I do own, I'm totally not claiming.
Come On Sweet Catastrophe
The first time they broke up, he had a baby that wasn't his and a future to rearrange and just…yeah. It wasn't ideal or good timing in any way.
The second time they broke up, he was a total mess and had a broken heart because girls kept cheating on him and he didn't get it, didn't understand and he had some growing up to do as it turned out.
The third time they broke up, she thought she was pregnant and it freaked her out so bad that she might not reach her dreams and she told him she couldn't handle being more than just friends with him because he helped her get lost in him, in them, and she couldn't really do both just then.
The fourth time they broke up, they weren't really together; but she followed her dreams and left him behind because it turned out his dreams were in New York and hers… weren't. Which was weird.
The first time he saw her, she was a tiny girl with a huge voice on a stage and she was lighting the whole thing up. She kind of lit him up, too, but he didn't really have the balls to admit it just then.
The second first time he saw her, she was already dating someone else.
The third first time… well. She ran away from him and told him she was living her dream and he couldn't talk her out of it.
The fourth first time was because he couldn't just stop seeing her. She was already like an addiction for him.
The fifth time he saw her—like really saw her—was when he watched her walk away and he was pretty sure she took his heart with her because he didn't really feel much of anything after that.
The sixth first time he saw her….well, that was this time.
He really hates the way the studio assigns numbers when he comes in for auditions. He would rather just know who he's looking at because, let's face it—half the time he knows anyway. He yawns and sits back in his chair, looking through the file in front of him. The girl who's coming in next, also known as number 638-0909, has a different resume than the rest and he doesn't bother looking at her headshot. He's sick of seeing the difference between those and the real thing. Maybe he's craving a little three-D or maybe he just needs to pick a girl they can all agree on for once. And why do headshots matter when the film is animated?
She walks in and he sits up a little in his chair. He's paying attention now. He kind of wishes he'd paid closer attention to the resume. He glances back down at the page, but it's too late now and he knows that.
"Hello," she says, smiling just as brightly as she ever did. "I'm Rachel Berry."
He's sitting kind of in the middle of the directory staff so she might not even see him; he's the music director and the only reason he's even sitting in for this shit is because it's, y'know, Disney. And musical. He gets to help pick 'cause it's so related to what he does for a living.
He has no idea why they're doing this in person. It's an animated film.
But here they are and more importantly, here she is and … he already feels like he's being pulled back in and she's auditioning for a whole group and he's not really planning on speaking up anytime soon and drawing attention to himself.
She made it pretty clear he should make as much noise and draw as much attention to himself as possible—just she was going to stop listening and not pay attention and she was the only one he really ever wanted to impress and here he is—being impressed by her as she opens her mouth to sing, right on schedule.
She's here because she's a recording artist; and he's like a go-between for recording artists and the movie studio. If she gets this…well, if she gets this he's going to have to work with her a lot.
He can totally see the notes the casting director is scribbling down by looking over her shoulder. Rach—number 638-0909 is the first person they've heard today that this director has had even a mildly favorable reaction to. He's not making any notes. He knows he should be. He knows he should be taking notes and listening and all that stuff because there are people here who are going to ask for his opinion and he needs to be prepared to give it. Right. He'll get right on that. As soon as he can, like, close his mouth and stop staring.
It's not like that's gonna happen anytime soon, honestly.
They have this big meeting after all the auditions. Her group was the last group they had lined up after listening to what felt like a billion demos and whatever else. He's not surprised she's the only callback they have out of the whole day's worth of listening. Bias aside (and he knows how much that's saying because when it comes to that particular girl—he can't remember her number he can only remember her name and her smile and her voice and what it felt like to be with her to be near her to be hers), she really was the best they heard today. He thinks she's the best one to be the voice of the next Disney princess.
It has everything to do with the fact that she sounds good, she'll look good doing promos, and her recording contract and Broadway-heavy schedule is the easiest to work around. It has nothing—nothing—to do with the other stuff. He might have to say it at least a few more times before he believes it. Okay, no. He's not going to believe it because it's all tangled together into one big mess, just like he is.
He definitely doesn't cheat her phone number from the production assistant's call back list. He doesn't. He can't help it if the seven digits just magically land in his phone, okay?
He didn't factor in that the production assistant would be notifying her agent. He's kind of avoided this crap for far too long. He's off his game.
Out of the four hundred girls who audition, they give forty the chance to record one of the songs from the show—the song from the show. There's a clear winner and it's less than six days later, not even a week after she walked through the door and rendered him speechless, that she has the job. And he has to work with her. It would probably be a lot easier if he magically remembered that he could make words when she's there.
It's probably dumb that the first person he unmutes around is his brother (stepbrother. Step. He's got to reintroduce that word into the title. The jerk kinda deserves it for laughing so hard he accidentally hung up the phone when Finn busted out with Rachel's name at the start of his unmute.)
"She just…Kurt. C'mon. Come on. Give me something to go off of."
"She's up for a Tony."
"Something that's not on her resume," he pleads.
"She could take this role to Broadway when she's done with recording. It could become her signature role." Kurt sighs. "She's really, really excited about it. In fact…" there's a click that is so well-timed Finn thinks it was planned that way. "I think I made her stop talking too long when I put her on hold to answer your call."
"You have her phone number?"
Kurt clicks his tongue. Finn already knows he's not getting it this way, either. Man. He's gonna have to ask her directly. "Of course I have her phone number, Finn. I've had her phone number since high school. It's not like it's changed."
"It…." Finn raises his eyebrows. " It hasn't changed?"
"I'mnot really at liberty to say," Kurt says, backtracking just a little. Thing is, okay. Finn didn't start pushing to get her phone number or any information on her at all for a while after the last breakup because it hurt. It really hurt. There were moments of weakness (read: drunkenness) when he got all girly about it and wanted to check up on her and Kurt always turned him down and refused even the tiniest bit of information. She's happy enough. She was getting by. She was making a name for herself. Her dreams were coming true.
She walked away. He didn't get to chase her.
"Kurt, c'mon man. Where's the family loyalty?" Finn asks in a mumble.
"Do you really want her to think you're the reason she got the job?"
"Do you really want her to walk into her first day recording and have her seeing me with no warning? This way is better. Trust me. I…I know this girl."
There is a long pause. And by long pause, he means the one with more syllables than he has patience. "If you knew this girl, you would've done this a long time ago."
"That's dumb. She's the one who—"
"—waited. And you're the one who never called."
"That's not fair," Finn says. "You know that's not fair."
"Never said it was. Are you going to hang up so I can text you her number or what?"
She calls him before he gets up the guts to call her (which admittedly means he's taking his sweet time since it's two days before they're supposed to start pre-recording on the film) and it starts off with awkward apologies and explanations that fall short and well…
"I missed you," she says. It kind of cuts off all the other stuff.
"You just didn't believe me," he argues.
"For what it's worth, I think I was wrong. I know I was wrong about you, but…but I think I was wrong about us and me, too," she says. Her voice is all quiet and he thinks she's either starting to cry and trying to hide it or she's going to cry as soon as they hang up.
And for the record, that's gonna be now. Because he just can't handle this. He can't figure her out while she's fumbling through her explanations. "You were," he says quietly. "Maybe you still are."
She asks him what he's saying, but he doesn't know. And they hang up no better off than they have been for years.
It's about two days of working together on pre-recording before the sound guy asks her out and Finn loses his shit. Okay, well, not like out loud. But inside, he swears. That guy dies about six different ways before lunch. So he grabs her favorite tea that she likes after she's been singing a lot and brings it to her. He knows he got it right when she smiles slowly and goes up on her toes to kiss his cheek thank you.
He may or may not turn his head so her kiss lands somewhere else.
She doesn't even have to tell the sound guy no; the making out in the mixing room kinda did that for her.
It's like two days later when she's sleeping in his bed; she still likes to sleep on her stomach with her arms tucked up underneath her when she's naked. The sheet is mostly covering her ass and he thinks that's a shame. Next time he'll turn the heat up before she gets here so she won't want that over her at all. This time… well, this time he didn't really have any notice.
His hand is shaking as he tickles her back with his fingertips and she sighs in her sleep and shifts toward him and it's like he's been here a thousand nights before. How long is a thousand nights exactly? Like three years or something…they're way past a thousand nights there. He doesn't know why his hands shake when he holds her; maybe it's because of all the times it's come crashing down when someone wakes up. And waking up sometimes is literal because yeah, there was that whole 'friends' period where they fell into bed together a lot and they'd wake up and not say a word, like not even an 'again' because they weren't surprised. Waking up is sometimes, like a life-awareness thing or whatever where they realize something isn't working and that's the scarier kind of waking up because it's the kind of storm that comes in with no warning. There are some things you just cannot fix. There are some things time and tides just have to wash away so you can feel clean and start over.
Maybe his hand shakes because he's clean from the clean break that broke him all way through and tore his life apart the time before. But it doesn't make him hurt; the hurt is gone. He's just a little shaky. He thinks for hours, until she wakes up again, and he can't come up with a single reason this won't work out now. He hopes she feels the same way, but he'll wait until she wakes up to ask her.
It's, like, night 2,478 when she admits she saw him while she was auditioning. She says she actually felt like he was there first and it kind of knocked the wind out of her and made it really hard to concentrate until she saw him. She said once she did see him, though, it wasn't so much like drowning in expectation and I can't and reasons why it wouldn't work anymore. It was more like the sun had come out and then she was just afraid of getting burned again. It's night 2,481 when he can actually laugh at that 'cause yeah – he can relate.
They finish the movie and really, it went ahead of schedule and they work together well and… he's just already sucked in and he's kind of dreading when she says she has an audition or there's open call or something because he's already right back in the damage path and she could be leaving again. Once upon a time, he didn't think she'd leave, but then she did so now he will kind of always wonder.
The movie gets picked up by a playwright almost as soon as it's released and they invite her to come to New York to help them get it going—on Broadway. Her smile is huge but he understands that drowning thing she was talking about before 'cause he's seen this girl go to New York. Hell, he's gone with her before. It didn't really end too well for him.
He can't explain why the only word that falls out of his mouth she asks him to 'accompany her this time, please' is agreement. Specifically, he's like "Okay." And that's all he really says about it 'cause that's all they need to say.
It's day 2,601 when they're back in New York and he realizes he's been totally sucked into her again and he wouldn't really have it any other way. It feels like they're starting over but not really because it's more like starting better and getting the chance to do it the way they didn't do it before.
So they're in New York for like four months or so, him working at a small recording studio that tries to 'place' its songs in movie soundtracks or whatever and her. She's working in her show and she's extended her run twice already 'cause she loves it and it's just a lot of back and forth with them sharing an apartment in the theater district and all, but it's good. It's a lot like the last time things were good, actually, and it seems pretty easy—clear skies, smooth sailing. That kinda thing.
Then he kinda hears her on the phone with her dad. He doesn't hear the words as much as the tone (it's, like, his job to listen to things) and it makes him nervous 'cause there's only been one other time he heard it before. And when he asked her about it then, she said I just have some questions for my Dads is all… contract things… and it's the exact same thing she says now and it makes his stomach a little shaky and a little stormy and a lot nervous for what's coming.
Then it's two weeks later and he's still heard nothing about it and he's not heard the tone again either and he's starting to feel like he's going to blow away or something, like…he's scared about it all the time and she's been spending more and more time at work, which seems weird 'cause she's been doing the run for like six weeks and they basically have all the kinks worked out, right?
It's another late night even though it's supposed to be her day off, but this time it's with a stack of boxes that he seriously takes out of her hand while she's in the doorway 'cause he just jumps right on her.
"Rachel… what's going on? You going somewhere?"
I've been offered a part in the West End. Original run musical. I'm going.
"Yeah, they um… they want me for a musical theater workshop at UCLA," she says. Her face crumples like it's weird. "It's actually the same program Jesse St. James was admitted into. Remember him?"
That girl from NYADA, Harmony…she asked for me specifically, which is weird because I didn't think she cared for me but…but this is a huge opportunity.
"Yeah, I remember," he says. He remembers the way it felt before. Not only does he remember, but he thinks he feels it again. It feels like all the air has been sucked out of the room.
"Anyway…I mean, I'm just going to pack up some of the stuff I haven't really been using and I'm gonna ship it to my dads' house," she points to the boxes in his hands and he's not sure he's thrown anything down so fast in his life.
My dads will just come get the rest of everything else. I don't need it…and it just doesn't belong here.
"Wait," he says, his eyes closed and his hands in fists at his side as she's turning to walk across the small apartment into their bedroom.
Wait….just please, please wait.
"The FedEx guy will be here in a half hour," she says. She looks at him like she's puzzled at his reaction and he's…he feels like he can't move even though he can't even explain why he's stuck there.
"Rachel…" he whispers. "Please don't, just… just…hang on a second."
I can't wait for anything… this isn't working and this isn't what I want and I… you're here and you should stay here and I can't do this any longer, Finn. I cannot wait a moment longer to start the rest of my life. You understand, don't you?
She's heard that tone from him one other time. He knows she recognizes it from the look on her face. She walks toward him slowly and she goes up on her toes and kisses his cheek. "This isn't that. Things are different now."
Things have changed.
"How?" He chokes out, his eyes still closed and God, he wants to hold her there against him forever so she can't run away.
They don't have to.
"I don't know," she admits. "But I love you and I refuse to leave you behind. I just didn't know how to tell you… or rather, how to ask you to join me."
I didn't know how to tell you, and now…well now I guess all I'm telling you is goodbye. Please just let me go.
His eyes pop open. "Wait…what? You want me to move to Los Angeles with you?"
She just nods.
Please don't go.
"Please come with me," she asks. "This time I know nothing is wrong."
Something is wrong, Finn. I don't know what it is, but I know I can't fix it in New York. And I can't fix it when I'm with you.
"I'm quite certain," she agrees. "Are you coming? Say you'll come."
He couldn't say anything so he just watched her walk away and walk out of his life.
He can't say anything, so he just nods. And then she knocks him over with her excitement and… well, he can't explain it. She turns his whole life upside down again like a hurricane or something and he's pretty sure she'll always do it and he'll never care, as long as he gets to stay with her.
The first time they got together, he was an absolutely tangled mess of embarrassed, humiliated, affronted and like eight things he never bothered to figure out.
The second time they got together, she was sweet and she hesitated a little and they had this innocent and easy summer before the weather turned and brought some ugly weather with it that they didn't survive.
The third time they got together, they were indoors and they felt safe and protected, crammed between shelves in the library where it was just the two of them.
The first time they were really, really together, they had toasted months of no fighting and nothing but love, love, love…and it was one of his favorite times ever.
The last time they got together, everyone around them toasted a lifetime together and a lifetime ahead and it felt like the first time all over again.