a/n: this is a secret santa gift for Alex, or simplysweetperfection on tumblr. I hope you like it! title and lyrics are from Dan Wilson and Bic Runga's Good Morning, Baby.
See your pretty face in the sunshine,
In the morning after staying up all night.
I want to wake you just to hear you tell me it's alright.
And all I want to be is too much sometimes for me.
He thinks about it all the time.
And he wonders if this is what it'll be like after it all ends, if he'll still think about it, about her, about what she looks like and how she laughs and where she is. He knows that kind of stuff totally messed with Puck, and with Quinn, too, and he can't believe it won't mess with him.
What about Rachel? It'll mess with her, too, doesn't she know that? She can't have forgotten what went down in high school, how crazy Quinn turned, the way it, like, haunted her, or whatever.
Rachel says this is how it has to be, that it's the smart decision, that it's better for the baby, and she knows more about this stuff than he does. If he really wanted to say no, he could. She told him that. It was just as much his baby. If he didn't want to give her away for adoption, they wouldn't.
But he knows she's right about it all.
The door in the back of the lecture hall slams open so loudly that Finn jumps in his seat.
But the professor doesn't falter in his lecture, because kids come in late all the time. The kid shouts, though, his voice desperate, "Finn!" This time the professor does falter, and Finn recognises the voice; he snaps his head back to see that, yeah, it's Blaine who raced into class half an hour late. Finn knows immediately what's happened. His heart starts to hammer, and he stumbles to his feet, shoving his untouched book back into his bag. Blaine catches sight of him.
"It's Rachel," Blaine says. Finn nods, and he apologises under his breath as he pushes his way down the row and to the aisle. "Kurt took her to the hospital," Blaine explains, and they're already out of the lecture hall, and Finn will worry about his stunned professor later. "It's real this time."
"Her water broke?" Finn asks.
Blaine nods, and he drives to the hospital, because Finn can't; his hands tremble too much. Rachel is about to have a baby. Rachel is about to have his baby; this is all about to become so scary real.
But she isn't, not really, because it isn't his baby, because it isn't hers, and it hasn't been all along.
It'll all be over soon, this whole crazy mess.
Rachel sobs his name when she sees him.
Kurt sits on the bed beside her, but he stands when Finn and Blaine appear, and he reaches a hand out for Blaine. Finn doesn't have any interest in Kurt, though; Rachel looks so upset, and he can't blame her. Her cheeks are flushed, her hair in a messy ponytail, and she grasps his hands so tightly he thinks she might break a few of his fingers. "I can't do this," she whispers, shaking her head.
"The nurse says she isn't very dilated," Kurt says, "and it could be several hours more."
"I'm not ready to have this baby," Rachel says, and her face contorts with tears. "They'll take her away when I do, Finn." The words are a broken breath. "They'll take her away from me."
His heart is in his ears now, so loud it downs out the world.
She looks as terrified now as she did in their apartment bathroom all those months ago, and he lifts his hands up to brush away the tears that trickle from the corners of her eyes. "Finn, I couldn't pick a couple in the book," she says, voice thick, and her own hands cup his face, "because — because I know that we're only kids, and some couple really wants a baby and is actually ready for a baby, and they should have her, but I can't do it, Finn. I can't let them take her away. I can't, Finn."
She grits her teeth suddenly, and her nails dig into temples.
He covers her hands with his and pulls them from his face to hold them properly again.
"They won't take her," he says, "if you don't want them to take her. They won't. And we can — we can keep her. Why can't we? You said from the start that we couldn't, but why can't we? She's ours, isn't she? We made her. We can keep her. We can do it." He squeezes her hands.
She nods. "I want her. I changed my mind. I want her so much."
"I heard you and Rachel," Kurt tells him. "And I saw you with the adoption center lady."
He nods. "We changed our minds." He can't take his eyes off her. She isn't even six pounds, and the doctors say that it doesn't matter; that she's perfectly healthy, but she looks so tiny, and they don't have a name for her and they don't have a crib for her and they don't have anything for her.
But he doesn't really care.
"Mrs. Pankin, the adoption lady, she said it was okay," Finn says. "She said people change their mind a lot, actually, and she kinda suspected we would. We don't even have to do anything. We just, you know, keep our baby." He smiles a little when the baby whips her head to the left.
She probably thinks it's totally cool to be out in the real world with all the other babies.
"Finn," Kurt says, something in his voice, and Finn finally tears his eyes away from his baby to look at his brother. "You never really wanted to put her up for adoption in the first place, did you?"
"It was the smart thing to do," Finn says. "And Rachel was just so sure it was what we should do. But she changed her mind." He smiles a little. "Are we totally crazy? I mean, we still have two more weeks of class, and finals, and, like, another year of school. How are we gonna do this?"
They're barely even legal, and they're about to keep this baby, and Finn remembers all the spiels Rachel gave about how this was the right thing to do, and she isn't stupid; she had legit reasons.
"I'll help," Kurt says. "And Blaine will, too. We'll help. It'll be hard, and it is crazy, but we'll help."
He smiles, and Finn nods. He looks back at the baby, at his baby. They can do this.
The nurse shows him how to hold her.
She squirms a lot, and she is about as big as his basketball shoes, and he supports her head, and she is so totally, completely helpless, and it does funny stuff to his heart. Kurt went to dinner with Blaine, and they're gonna bring Finn and Rachel something back, and Kurt said he'd call their parents, too. Rachel is still asleep. It's just Finn and her, their helpless, tiny, squirming baby.
She starts to cry, and all the babies in this room cry, like they're shouting at each other, and he starts to panic, because her face is super red, and the nurse is on the other side of the room, and what if she looks up and freaks out and talks the baby away from him, and he can't do this.
He starts to sing. It always works with Rachel.
"This isn't actually about a baby, okay, but just um, just, okay," he clears his throat a little, and he keeps his voice as quiet as he can. "She's got a smile that it seems to me," he sings, "Reminds me of childhood memories, / Where everything, /Was as fresh as the bright blue sky." She still looks upset, tears on her face, random limbs flailing, but she isn't bawling anymore, and that's good.
He cradle her, trying to imitate the womb, or whatever.
And he tries to wipe her tears, and his finger trembles a little because he doesn't want to squish her face or anything with his giant fingers, but she turns her head and she catches his finger in her mouth, and she isn't crying anymore. He smiles, and he runs his other hand over her peach fuzz.
"Now and then when I see her face, / She takes me away to that special place, / And if I'd stare too long, / I'd probably break down and cry. / Sweet child o' mine, / sweet love o' mine. . . ."
She sucks on his finger, and her little forehead wrinkles. Her eyes are really big, he realises, and they're bright brown, just like Rachel's, and he really likes that. As he smiles at her, though, she starts to grow upset, and she sucks on his finger harder, and the nurse touches his shoulder.
"I think she needs to be fed," the woman tells him gently.
He nods. Okay. The kid has a stomach. It is his baby. "I can take her to Rachel," he says. "That's cool, right? I mean, I can take her, right? I won't drop her." He holds her as close to his chest as he can without smashing her, and she's started to wiggle around like crazy now.
The nurse smiles. "It's fine. I'll come with you to help, okay?"
Rachel is sleepy, but she sits up, and she takes the baby. The nurse shows her what to do, and, yeah, Finn's finger definitely doesn't do that. It's kinda super cool how the baby knows exactly what to do, and he can't take his eyes off the way her tiny fingers curl and uncurl, and her tiny dark eyelashes flutter, and he's kind of in love with the little sucking noises she makes.
"I thought of a name," Rachel murmurs, and Finn draws his eyes up to look at her.
"Yeah?" He sits on the edge of the bed.
She nods. "I always loved these books when I was a little girl," she says, her eyes shining. "They were my favourite, and I would make my papa read them to me over and over and over again." She looks back down at the baby. "They were about a little girl who lived in the Plaza Hotel, and —"
"Eloise," he says. He smiles. "I remember those books." He looks back at the baby, and she looks like she's started to finish. "You want to name her Eloise?" he asks.
"I think it's pretty," Rachel murmurs. "And I thought it went well with Carole." She bites her lip.
"Eloise Carole," he breathes.
He swallows thickly. "Yeah. Eloise Carole Hudson. Let's do it."
She laughs a little, and he leans forward to kiss her forehead. He turns to the nurse, who nods and smiles at him. "It's a very pretty name." He looks back at Rachel, who starts to hand him Eloise, but she makes this face that's totally her upset face, and she doesn't want Rachel to pass her way. "I think she's finished, though," Rachel says, a little concerned, looking at Finn and at the nurse.
"She probably just likes the comfort of it," the nurse explains. "It's fine."
"Oh," Rachel says, and she pulls Eloise close again, letting the baby latch back on, and she looks so suddenly happy. Finn doesn't think he'll ever not be happy again; he can't imagine this feeling in his chest will ever go away, not as long as he can look at his baby. Eloise. His daughter.
It turns out the reason it takes Kurt and Blaine forever to come back to the hospital is that they actually went back to the apartment to get everything all ready. They're actually being super cool, 'cause this is their apartment, too; they've all shared the place since the start of sophomore year.
And now Kurt and Blaine are totally okay with, you know, a baby.
They hang this giant banner, and they have all this food, and Blaine bought a trillion diapers, and he says they can consider it his present to them. Rachel clutches Eloise to her chest as she starts to cry, and Finn rubs her back and just grins, 'cause Kurt and Blaine are two of the most awesome people in the world. Kurt tells him that he already sent out an e-mail to inform all their friends.
"I said that we wouldn't have a baby shower for a few months, because we don't want to expose Eloise to anything accidentally, but gifts would be accepted whenever, and I made it clear that if a baby needs it, you need it. I also offered to organise gifts." He looks like he has more to say.
But Finn cuts him off to hug him, and Kurt lets out a little oomph of surprise.
Rachel calls her dads as Finn eats the pizza Blaine bought, and she starts to cry on the phone.
He freezes for a second, ready to spring into action, but she laughs through her tears, and he realises the tears are the happy kind. Her parents aren't pissed. And when she starts to talk dates, he knows her dads will fly up to visit soon. That's good. His mom already booked her flight for tomorrow afternoon, and she's gonna stay two weeks to help out. She's awesome like that.
He takes another bite of pizza, and he asks Blaine what he knows about diapers, because Finn doesn't know squat. And, yeah, a few minutes later they totally have to change Eloise.
Rachel doesn't know how to do it, either.
"I never had anymore experience with babies than any of you!" she exclaims. "I spent my formative years in diligent practice for my future stardom, not babysitting!"
Kurt cleans the kitchen table, and they lay a clean towel out on it, and finally they put Eloise on it, and they stand around the table and look at her. She stares right back at them, as if to tell to get on with it already. Finn reaches for her. He's her dad. He can totally do this.
He unwraps the diaper, and it smells super foul, but, like, he still loves her. Mostly.
"We totally need some toilet paper," Blaine says. Kurt fetches some. Rachel takes Eloise by the feet and lifts her up, and Finn tries to wipe her clean. He misses a little bit, but Kurt points it out. It only takes like half a roll of toilet paper, and Blaine pulls the diaper out from under her as Kurt slips a new one under her. "I'll just, um, find something to do with this," Blaine says, dirty diaper in hand.
"I think the picture of Pooh Bear is supposed to be in front," Rachel says. She lifts Eloise back up by the feet, and Finn turns the diaper around. "There, it looks like the picture on the box now." She takes over with the tabs and somehow manages to do it right. Finn is gonna have to practice that.
"We did it," he says. Eloise kicks his hand, and he tickles the arch of her tiny foot, smiling at her.
"And now we have, what, a solid two hours before we have to do it again?" Kurt asks.
Finn hadn't thought of that.
She cries a lot.
It's this really shrill, awful sound that makes his head pound, and it happens all the time. Rachel doesn't sleep that night; she just sits up in bed with Eloise in her arms, and Finn wants to stay up too but he can't. As soon as he starts to fall asleep, Eloise will wake him up, like she knows he actually started to abandon her for sleep. Rachel shushes her, and nurses her, and sings to her.
She starts to panic around five in the morning, though, because Eloise just cries and cries and cries.
"It's how babies are," Blaine says, yawning. He looks kind of like shit. Finn feels bad.
He really hopes Kurt doesn't look that bad. Kurt will totally kill him if he does.
Her eyes bloodshot, Rachel paces the room, burping Eloise, and she nods. "It's normal," she murmurs, but she doesn't really look like she believes him or herself as she hums softly to Eloise. He watches her. He has class that afternoon. Blaine and Kurt both do, too. Rachel is in three independent studies, already talked with her history of the script professor about missing class, and plans to talk to her Shakespeare professor that afternoon. They all knew she was pregnant.
They just didn't know she was gonna keep the baby.
It'll be fine, Finn tells himself.
They only have a few more weeks of junior year, and Rachel can take all summer off. He'll work, and they'll figure out all this money stuff, and they'll figure out what to do about senior year.
It'll be fine.
He skips his afternoon class, and he practices putting diapers on a football for most of the day, because Jim did that on The Office. Rachel makes him stop so he doesn't waste diapers, but he offers to change Eloise the next time she needs it, and he does, and he totally rocks it.
Rachel finally sleeps for a couple of hours, which she really, really needs, and he watches baseball on the television with Eloise on his chest as he explains the rules to her.
As Rachel nurses her a little while later, he orders a Cleveland Indians onesie online.
This is the stuff she needs, you know? They don't actually have any clothing for her yet, or any of that stuff. His mom totally knows that, though. Kurt picks her up from the airport, and half an hour later she arrives at the apartment with a suitcase packed full of baby stuff she bought at K-Mart.
She has those sucky things, pacifiers, she calls them, and all these different outfits, and she also brought all his old toys that she never had the heart to throw out. She coos over Eloise, and she hugs Rachel super tightly when Rachel reveals that her name is Eloise Carole Hudson.
Rachel sleeps for another hour, and Finn does, too, because his mom has it in the bag.
Blaine comes home from his night class with a crib and a billion stuffed animals.
Apparently all the kids at the theatre bought stuffed animals, one from each of them, and they also all gave Blaine some cash to buy a crib. He and Finn set it up that night, and Kurt drives out to buy a pad for it, because Blaine forgot that. Finn would've forgotten, too.
His mom makes spaghetti for dinner, Eloise cries lots more, and nobody sleeps that night.
It's actually kind of terrifying to try to give her a bath.
They try it in the kitchen sink, and his mom bought Baby Johnson shampoo, which is this special shampoo just for babies. He holds her while Rachel, like, sponges her, but she squirms a lot, her skin soft and wet, and he thinks he might have nightmares about dropping her and letting her squishy little head smash into the metal of the sink and all her baby brains everywhere.
But he doesn't drop her. They towel her off, and Rachel nurses her, and she falls asleep.
He wonders what she dreams about. He hopes it isn't her daddy dropping her in the sink.
Ellie lies on the pillow between them, her chest rising and falling in sleep.
"That's sweet," Rachel says. "Ellie. I like that you call her that." She smiles tiredly, and she brushes her fingers over Ellie, against her tiny tummy, against her tiny knuckles, against her tiny ears. Finn thinks everything about her is tiny, and he wonders if she'll always be tiny, if she'll only ever grow as big as Rachel, which isn't big at all. "It'll be hard to see your mother leave."
"Yeah, but she taught us all her tricks," he replies. "We can do this."
"Can we?" Rachel asks, and he frowns as he looks over at her. She really is tired, her hair messy, her eyes ringed, and she actually looks kind of, like, distraught, and he doesn't know what to do. "I mean look at us, Finn. I haven't left the apartment in two weeks, and I'm still exhausted, and I don't even know if I'll be able to pass all my classes for this semester, and what about next year?"
"We'll figure it out," he says.
"I don't know if we will," she replies. "I was so sure that we had to give her up for adoption, that I couldn't abort my baby but I couldn't keep her either, because what about Broadway? What about my future? What about our future? How will I even finish school? How will you? How will we pay for everything? This wasn't how it was meant to be. We were supposed to be married, and —"
"We can get married," he says.
She falters. "What?"
"It's not like it wasn't gonna happen eventually," he says. "I mean, I don't have a ring, and maybe if money is a problem we should wait, or whatever, but I always figured we'd get married no matter what. And, okay, this is all kinda crazy, 'cause it all happened so fast, and we just decided at the last second to do this, to keep her, but I'm glad we did, Rachel, 'cause just, seriously, look at her."
They both gaze down at their baby, dark hair already on her head, her eyelids fluttering in sleep.
"I don't know what's gonna happen. I'm gonna get a job this summer and that should cover all the baby stuff, and our parents will keep paying for our apartment and food and stuff, at least until college ends, and then we'll be out in the real world, but we'll have it figured out."
"You really believe that?" Rachel asks, her voice almost a whisper.
He nods, and Rachel leans forward to kiss him sweetly, the baby between them.
"I freaked out when you first told me you were pregnant," he whispers.
"I remember," she murmurs, and a smile plays across her lips. He reaches out, and she lifts up her hand to intertwine their fingers. "I don't think I've ever seen that much panic on your face before."
"Yeah, well, it was kind of a big deal," he replies, and he squeezes her hand. "And then you were all but don't worry, I've decided to give the baby up, and you had all the pamphlets, and it was just like I didn't even have a chance to process it and to realises that, like, we made this person. She's a real person, Rachel. It's so cool."
Rachel looks like she might cry. "Yeah. It's cool. I'm just scared."
He nods. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm still freaked."
She laughs a little. And Ellie is awake, blinking her eyes, squirming, making a sucking face.
Rachel shifts to sit up, pulling down her shirt, and she's already such an expert, or whatever, knows just what to do, and he watches her pick Ellie up, and she can cradle her with one arm. Ellie knows what to do, and they're perfect, his tiny girls. He smiles to himself.
"I love you," he says. He likes to say it. He likes her to know it.
"We love you, too," Rachel replies. He likes that even more.
She starts to cry as he pulls an all-nighter for his African history class, and Rachel actually whines his name from the bedroom. He drops his flashcards to find her lying in bed perfectly still, eyes still closed, even as Ellie tries to wake the dead. Her mom kind of is playing dead, so, you know.
He picks her up, and he waits for her to make a face, but she doesn't. She isn't hungry.
She just felt like crying at the top of her lungs as if to alert the building that ninjas were attacking.
He picks her up and carries her out to the living room, which will probably piss Kurt off, but Rachel needs sleep, and Finn needs to study. He holds Ellie against chest with one arm, and he picks up his flashcards with his free hand. He starts to sing, because it works maybe three out of seven times, or something, and she starts to calm down after a little while.
He looks at his flashcards. She freaks the fuck out.
Okay, she likes the singing.
He has a totally awesome idea. He starts to sing the notes on the flashcards, 'cause Elf is all about how you can sing anything, right? And it works. He doesn't know if that's an effective studying tool, but it seems like studying, and Ellie likes it. She finally quiets against him, and he starts to lie her down. Yeah, she doesn't like that. She squirms and starts to cry, even as he continues to sing.
He pulls her up against his chest. She calms down. Ah. That's what she likes.
It's singing as he holds her against his chest. He can do that. His arm might die, but it happens.
She starts to stare at them.
Kurt takes Rachel for a day out; first at a big fancy lunch, second to study in the NYU library all afternoon for her upcoming exams, and finally to watch the big NYU spring production. Rachel was supposed to be in it, but her understudy took over. The professor still gave her full credit.
Rachel needs a day out.
It leaves Finn and Blaine with Ellie, and Finn starts to notice that she stares at him when he talks.
He even does a test. He puts her in the bouncy chair that his mom bought them right before she left, and he walks to the left as he tells her, "I'm walking to the left, Ellie." Her eyes follow him, all big and all intent. He walks to the right. "I'm walking to the right now." And she watches him.
Basically, she's the smartest baby ever.
He shows Rachel that night. She cries. "Eloise knows her mommy and daddy," she exclaims, and she tickles Ellie, because Ellie now also makes this awesome new sound that sounds kind of like a hum and a gurgle and a burp all at once, and Rachel loves it. "It's her way of saying she loves us!"
A week later, exams finish. Their junior year is over, all their credits counted.
They did it, or at least they finished the start.
He tends a bar that summer. He earned his licence last winter break, right after he became legal, and he rakes in so much money, and that's important. He has a family to support, you know.
Rachel is supposed to teach dance at the local JCC like she always does every summer, but she won't leave Ellie, and the kid is only a month old, so it's cool. Finn doesn't like how he spends so much time away from her. What if she does something totally cool and awesome and he misses it?
"All she does is poop, cry, nurse, and stare at us," Kurt says over breakfast, "what do you think, exactly, you'll miss?" A moment later he makes a funny face at Ellie, who totally has Kurt madly in love with her, too, even if Kurt doesn't want to admit it. And Finn knows that his stepbrother spent his entire paycheck last week on clothes for her. His only defence was that Rachel is her mother.
"If I want any chance at saving her from a genetically terribly fashion sense, I need to start early."
Rachel only rolls her eyes at that, but she isn't about to tell Kurt he can't spend money on her kid.
Her dads visit a week and a half into the summer, and Finn knows the word spoiled is definitely in the picture, because they bring more toys than their apartment can fit, and they fight over who can hold Ellie when, and they call her princess and peaches and peanut, and, yeah, they adore her a lot.
Who wouldn't love Ellie? She's perfect.
She turns a month old, and she starts towards two months old, and this is their life. It works. They have Ellie on a kind of schedule now. She doesn't sleep through the night, but they do put her to sleep at night time, and she stays asleep for little while usually, and Rachel knows when to nurse her by, like, the minute, so Ellie barely has to blink and Rachel has her in her arms. It's cool.
They take Ellie to this pediatrician for all the baby shots and stuff.
The doctor is friends with the lady at the NYU student health center who helped Rachel when she was pregnant, or something like that. She's actually a pretty cool woman, the pediatrician, and she knows everything about babies, even if she scares Finn sometimes with all her talk of target weights and target heights and all these complicated charts. But he does mostly like her.
She takes him totally by surprise when she mentions sex.
"You're in very good health, Rachel," she says. She checks up on Rachel, too, asking her creepy questions about her boobs and all that stuff, but they're not creepy 'cause she's a doctor so it's okay. Anyway. "It looks like, whenever you're ready, I'd say you can resume having sex."
She just, you know, says it. Rachel nods, and she asks a question about her period.
Finn doesn't really listen to the answer. He watches Rachel. They had a lot of sex when she was pregnant. It turns out that pregnant women really like sex, which nobody told Finn, but he took care of his girl, okay? But it's been months since they did it, and he is a twenty-one-year-old guy, you know, and his girlfriend is Rachel Berry, and if the doctor says that they can, well, can they?
Are they allowed? It won't hurt Rachel, will it?
He could have sworn Puck told him he had to wait six months.
He does some research the night as Rachel sings to a sleepy Ellie. It's definitely just six weeks, and Ellie is six weeks old. The doctor said it was okay. The website says he has to make sure Rachel feels ready, and it tells him he can't push her. Why would they even say that? He isn't an asshole.
Rachel touches his shoulders. "What's that?'
"It's just, like, research," he mutters. He would have closed the window if he knew she was right behind him. "You know, um, Dr. Morreall said we could, um, have sex, so I just thought I'd. . . ."
She nods, hair brushing his face, and she kisses his cheek.
He kind of wants her to say something, like, you know, whether she wants to have sex tonight. She only draws back, and she tells him she feels like a shower. "I think Ellie spit up in my hair," she says, and he scrunches up his nose. He loves his baby, but she somehow manages to make sure she spits up on them in every place possible as often as possible. It's her freakin' mission.
She locks him out of the bathroom. She usually leaves it unlocked so that he can come in to pee or to brush his teeth or to tell her something, and he doesn't really know what to do. She only locks it when she's upset. He hasn't said something bad, has he? He totally didn't mean to push her.
He checks on Ellie, and he wipes away a little of her drool. She drools like a fiend now. He turns on the television, but keeps it on mute with closed captions so he doesn't wake Ellie. It's kind of just what he always does now. It's really not that bad to watch like that, even if he always reads the jokes Jon Stewart says ten minutes after he says them.
The shower turns off before long, but it takes another half hour for Rachel to come out. He even hears the blow dryer, but he knows she hates to go to bed with wet hair.
She climbs onto the bed. "Finn."
He slowly pulls his eyes from the television to look at her, and she smiles at him, her hair soft as it falls around her shoulders. She smells like that coconut butter lotion stuff that Kurt bought her for Christmas, and a nightie, green and sheer, also from Kurt, and Finn swallows thickly.
She leans forward and kisses him, sweet and simple.
"Are you, um, sure?" he asks. "Because I was totally prepared to wait six months, which actually I kind of want to punch Puck in the face about, but, anyway, we don't have to, if you don't want."
She touches his face, her thumb brushing against his lips. "I know. Just, um, let's take our time."
He nods, and she smiles at him, and she kisses him a little more, sliding her hand around to cup the back of his head. He hesitantly touches her waist, and she shifts. The remote falls off the bed loudly. She smells pretty, and he knows a smell can't be pretty, but he doesn't care.
"My breasts," she breathes, breaking away from him. "They're too sensitive, and you can't —"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," he says, "they're loaned out."
She snorts a little, and he smiles, kisses her, toys with her hair, and he waits for her to relax. He loves to kiss Rachel, and he can do it for days; he lived on her kisses in high school, and he still loves the way her lips move against his. He loves that way she bites his lips, too, always, without fail, and the way she pours herself into kisses, the way she grasps him as she kisses him, fingers digging into his shoulders or curling into his hair. He just loves it, loves to kiss her.
He hasn't really been able to kiss her for real like this since the baby, and he makes up for lost time.
But he finally moves to pull her night gown up, and she lifts her hips to help him. He shifts to kiss her stomach, the stretch marks, her baby fat, and she runs her fingers through his hair and he can feel her tremble under the attention. He strokes her thigh, and he waits for her to relax once more.
He tugs off her underwear, and he slides them down her legs, nipping affectionately at the inside of her thigh. Her whole body shudders when he breathes again her, and she says his name when she realises what he plans to do, a kind of whimper in her voice. She wants this, too.
It takes a long time to work her up. It hasn't taken this long since they were kids, actually, since back when he didn't really know what to do, but he finally does make her come, and she arches up off the bed and smashes her face into the pillow so that she doesn't make too much noise. And afterward, as he lies beside her, she smiles that secret, sly, sated smile only he ever sees.
She tugs him closer and kisses him, her hand reaching for the drawstrings of his bottoms.
And Ellie starts to cry. Rachel fed her an hour ago. She shouldn't need anything for another hour.
She might need to be changed. She cries when she's upset about something like a dirty diaper. It doesn't really matter why. Her cries are loud, and Rachel looks at Finn apologetically. He rolls off her and onto his back, staring up at the ceiling. "It's her diaper. I'll be back in a minute." He nods.
She doesn't come back in a minute. But she wakes him up at some point, and she kisses away his sleepiness, and he really, really loves her. Afterward, as she lies again him, he runs his hand up and down her bare back, he whispers the words to her.
"Mmm, yes, Finn," she murmurs, snuggled again him. "I love you, too."
They take Ellie to Central Park at the end of July.
It's the first time they've really left the house with her, beyond the occasional morning walks Rachel takes her on, and Rachel is in kind of a major panic. It's super pretty and nice out, though, and Ellie is almost three months old, and disaster doesn't strike. They spread a blanket out, rest Ellie, soaked in baby sun tan lotion, on a pillow in the center, a tiny pink hat on her head to shade her face, and Finn tickles her feet with grass to make her smile as Rachel finally relaxes, a book in front of her.
They totally have the hang of it now, all the parenting stuff. He can change a diaper like a pro, he knows what this cry means and what that cry means, and he can even put her to sleep super fast.
As the summer wears on, it's actually really cool to watch Ellie become, like, an actual person.
She can sit up, even if she bobs forward kind of hilariously, and she can babble, even if she also starts to drool a lot. But she totally knows them, knows her parents and her uncles, and she laughs when they make faces at her. The four of them can calm her down faster than anyone, and it's cool.
He kind of doesn't want to go back to school for senior year.
They live in this bubble, the four of them with their baby, and, sure, he works, but he doesn't ever really see his buddies from school, and the only person he talks to regularly from Lima is his mom. He doesn't have to worry about the future, or he doesn't let himself worry about it, anyway. He likes it that way. He doesn't want to think about how complicated it'll all soon become.
A week before classes start, he puts Ellie to sleep and starts to walk back to the main room. He pauses in the doorway, though, and he watches as Rachel wipes a few stray tears off her face. She sits with Kurt on the couch, mugs of warm milk in their hands. Finn frowns, but he doesn't move.
"I really don't know," Rachel murmurs.
Kurt tilts his head, eyes sympathetic. "I didn't mean to upset you. I was just curious. You always have a plan for everything, often outlined and colour-coded, but I guess this all happened so fast."
She nods. "It did. It all happened so fast. I guess it would have been better if I'd admitted from the start that I wanted to keep her, and we could have planned." She sighs and takes a sip of her milk, and Kurt reaches out to touch her arm affectionately. "I don't know, Kurt."
"We've all worked out our schedules," he says. "We'll be able to juggle Ellie. Finn doesn't have any morning classes, Blaine doesn't have any afternoon classes, you'll be here to help at lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I'll be here Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and we do have a plan for the next year, Rachel. We can do this. We can take care of our baby."
Rachel chuckles. "Our baby?"
"That's right," Kurt replies. "That's what I said."
Finn swallows thickly at the way Kurt smiles. He feel guilty sometimes, because this is something he and Rachel chose, but Blaine and Kurt didn't have a say. And they never complain, and they say they're happy, but Blaine quit kickball, and Kurt sold these tickets for an off-Broadway production of Wicked, and lots of stupid little stuff like that make Finn worry every once and a while.
And then Kurt says something like that, our baby, and it just makes Finn really love his brother.
Rachel smile and looks down, and Finn knows she's still upset. "What about after the next year?" she asks. "What about the real world? I want Broadway, Kurt. I want it so much, I really do."
"You can still have Broadway," Kurt replies. "Blaine and I will still be around to help out, and Finn is in the picture, too. He'll help. We might not have an exact plan, outlined and colour-coded and all, but it'll happen, Rachel. Broadway will happen. I know you too well to think otherwise."
Rachel sets her mug down and leans forward to hug Kurt. Her eyes are squeezed shut, her lashes wet, and Finn can see how tightly she clutches Kurt, a genuine smile on her face.
Finn looks back at Ellie, asleep in her crib, legs tangled around her blanket, and he smiles, too.
Kurt and Blaine finally throw a baby shower the afternoon before classes start.
It's a surprise, and Rachel actually squeals aloud in shock, but all her friends from NYU are at the apartment, and they all want to hug her and to see her baby and to tell her much they missed her over the summer, and Finn can see her nearly glow under all the attention.
The party doesn't exactly have a keg or beer pong or anything all his previous college parties had.
He doesn't really care.
He catches up with all the guys who were on the basketball team. He came to NYU on a music scholarship, but he knows the fact that he could play basketball had something to do with his acceptance, as did the fact that Burt's sister went to NYU and has, you know, friends. It's awesome that Rachel and Kurt both ended up at NYU, too, even if it wasn't originally what either wanted.
And Finn loves everything about NYU, the food, the music scene, the basketball team.
He realises how much he misses it all, and he finally feels excited for senior year. Rachel said last year that he would miss the life he had at school if they had a baby, and it turns out she was kinda right. But his senior year will still rock, he decides, especially because his baby is still his baby.
It really is a lot to juggle, a baby while in school.
They've all figured out their schedules so that someone is always able to babysit, but what about papers and tests? And they can't all go out at the same time, can't even go for drinks on a Friday night, not all together. They do still have lives; Finn still does basketball, Rachel finally starts to teach dance, and Kurt even finds an internship at some weird fashion magazine.
They're in college, and they have lives, and they take care of their kid. They make it work.
Ellie really loves to dance.
She loves music, obviously, and now she loves to dance as someone sings to her, too.
Finn likes to swoop her up and down, twirling her around while he sings, her tiny hand in his, and she laughs madly. That's the best part, actually. He loves her laughter, and it isn't hard to make her laugh. If they dance, she laughs. If he makes funny faces at her, she laughs. If he gives her stuffed animals funny voices, she laughs. If Rachel laughs, she laughs.
She really loves Rachel. It doesn't surprise Finn, and he knows she loves him, too, but it's like his daughter wants to be Rachel, and she'll watch her mom and do what her mom does. If Rachel is happy, Ellie is happy. If Rachel is upset, Ellie is upset. Finn is pretty sure Ellie even smiles like Rachel, or tries to smile like her, anyway, with this toothy little grin and her eyes blindingly bright.
He gets it. He knows what it's like to be Rachel Berry's biggest fan.
The first time they go to an actual party is for Halloween.
Ellie is almost six months old, and Finn and Rachel haven't really had a night out since she was born, and Kurt basically shoves them out the door and says he'll look after Ellie while Blaine works on a major paper, and they better enjoy themselves. They don't really dress up.
Finn puts on a suit and says he's from Mad Men, and Rachel wears cat ears and a cute black dress.
It's kind of weird. She doesn't drink, but Finn has a couple of beers, and they talk with people, and it's all really normal, which is, you know, weird. A couple guys from the basketball team convince him to play a round of beer pong, and he still totally kicks ass. Rachel dances with some of her friends, and she smile at him across the room, and he kisses her against the stairs banister an hour later, his hand in her hair as he tilts her head back and grips her hip tightly, just because he can.
They skip out a little after one in the morning.
Blaine and Kurt are asleep on the couch, but Ellie is awake, and she blinks up at them with these big, bright eyes. Rachel starts to sing that Phil Collins song, and Ellie smiles curling her legs up almost to her mouth. Finn laughs a little. "Are you gonna eat your toes, baby girl?"
She just watches Rachel, and she finally does fall asleep by the end of the song.
"Happy Halloween, Eloise," Rachel whispers. She leans back against Finn, and he wraps an arm around his waist. "Happy Halloween, Finn," she says. He kisses the back of her head.
Rachel enters Ellie in a beautiful baby contest.
It's pretty much all she and Kurt talk about for, like, a month. A mall an hour north of the city has a beautiful baby contest for babies of all ages, with awards for different age groups, of course, Rachel explains, and she firmly expects Ellie to win her age group handily. "Look at her little smile with her dimples," Rachel says, "and her fluffy brown hair, and, ooh, her tiny baby knuckles."
"I think all the babies have tiny baby knuckles," Blaine says.
Finn just shakes his head at him.
Ellie comes in second. Rachel cries, and Kurt rants and raves all night long because didn't the judges even look that heinous plaid sailor outfit that first place baby wore, and Finn doesn't know what do to do. Blaine tells Rachel that Ellie certainly has the cutest baby knuckles in the world.
Rachel throws a dish towel at him.
Finn looks down at Ellie, sitting in his lap and sucking on the ear of her stuffed dog. He smiles at her, and she smiles back at him, drool on her chin, and he ruffles her hair. "You're first in my book," he tells her. "You're the prettiest baby in the whole world." She doesn't need an award.
He'll tell her that truth every day himself.
He wakes up in the middle of the night, and Rachel isn't beside him. He rubs his eyes, sits up, and looks over at the crib, and he's pretty sure Ellie isn't in it. They're probably just out in the main room. He would just fall back asleep, but now that he's awake he needs something to eat.
And he finds Rachel and Ellie in the main room, dancing as Rachel sings at a whisper.
"If you be my boat, / I'll be your sea, / A depth of pure blue just to probe curiosity, / Ebbing and flowing and pushed by a breeze, / I live to make you free, / I live to make you free. . . ."
Ellie clings to Rachel, and Finn doesn't think Rachel has ever looked at anybody the way she looks at Ellie, not even him. "But you can set sail to the west if you want to," she sings, "And past the horizon till I can't even see you, / Far from here where the beaches are wide, / just leave me your wake to remember you by." She smiles a little at Ellie, falling asleep.
Finn walks towards them, and Rachel pulls her gaze from Ellie to smile at him, her eyes soft and sleepy. He touches her hips and starts to sway with her, Ellie caught between them. He doesn't know the song she sings, but he hums along with her.
"If you be my star, / I'll be your sky, / You can hide underneath me and come out at night. / When I turn jet black and you show off your light/ / I live to let you shine/ / I live to let you shine."
He takes her hand and twirls her, and he laughs a little when Ellie smacks her lips and snorts a little to herself, head burrowing against Rachel. "But you can skyrocket away from me, / and never come back if you find another galaxy, / Far from here with more room to fly. / Just leave me your stardust to remember you by, / stardust to remember you by."
It's quiet, and they sway to silence.
"I like that song," Finn says. Rachel nods, her own eyes falling closed as she leans against him.
He realises what he wants to do.
It's kind of a risk, because he knows how seriously Rachel takes her dress rehearsals, and this whole production is especially important to her since it's her first show since Ellie was born. But Kurt promises it'll be fine, and Finn talks to everybody else involved, and they all swear it's okay.
They're all big drama queens, so he knows they're excited.
He rents a tux, 'cause he knows Rachel will be in that fancy cocktail dress she's so excited to wear at the start of the second act. Finn can't button his jacket with shaking hands, but Kurt buttons it for him. Kurt will be in the audience with Ellie, even if strictly speaking an audience isn't allowed.
They sit in the far back so Rachel won't see, 'cause that might make her suspicious, and Finn heads back stage as Rachel starts her solo. Blaine is supposed to join her in a minute or two to make it a duet, and Blaine grips Finn by the shoulder. "It'll be fine," he murmurs, smiling widely.
"Yeah," Finn says, "except it might not be."
"You know she'll say yes," Blaine replies. That's true. Finn does. He still feels like his heart might jump out of his throat in a suicide attempt, and he can't really breathe, and he thinks Kurt might have picked up a tux two sizes too small. Blaine claps him on the back. "It's be fine," he repeats.
And he nudges Finn forward.
Finn lets out a slow breath, rolls his shoulders, and steps out on stage.
Rachel turns towards him, a smile on her face, only for that smile to freeze when she sees Finn instead of Blaine, but her voice doesn't falter as she continues to sing, always the performer. He takes her hand and pulls her around in the smooth move that took him about two hours to learn, and he sings the male part. Rachel has this puzzled smile on her face, but she plays along.
The stage lights are blinding, and it reminds him of New Directions, of the last time he performed on a stage with Rachel Berry, and a surge of confidence washes over him.
As she sings the last note, she twirls to find herself pressed against him, her hands on the sides of his face just as the stage directions say. He doesn't know what Blaine is supposed to say right now, but this is where he starts his own script. "Rachel," he says, breathless, "you have been the best part of my life since — since the moment I heard you sing that song from Grease."
She doesn't interrupt, her eyes so bright, and he smiles shakily at her.
"You always forgave every mistake I made, and you loved me so unconditionally, and you taught me to let myself want things, to dream, to believe in myself, and I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you." He swallows thickly. "And I don't just mean that I wouldn't be here, on stage, but I wouldn't be in New York, I wouldn't be who I am, I wouldn't have a life I loved if it weren't for you."
"Finn," she whispers, and her eyes are wet.
"And I love you, and I love Ellie, and I — I thought of all the places I could do this, all the important places in our — in our romance, you know, like in the auditorium at McKinley. And we could have gone there when we went to Lima for Christmas, but this isn't about what's happened. I mean, it is, but it's also about — it's about what's gonna happen. You're gonna be on Broadway, take the world by storm, and I want to be right beside you for all of it."
He squeezes her hand, and he moves down on one knee. She gasps, her eyes so bright, but she doesn't look away from him as he pulls out the ring box his mother shoved into his hand at the airport before she left last spring. He tries not to let her see his hands tremble as he reveals the ring.
It's yellow gold, and it's three tiny diamonds instead of a big princess cut, but he hopes she still likes it.
"It's kind of soon, but — but, Rachel Berry, will you marry me?"
She nods furiously, and she launches herself at him, nearly knocking him onto his back. "Yes. Yes, Finn Hudson, I'll marry you. Yes. Yes. Yes!" She laughs and she cries and she clings to him, and he manages to stumble to his feet. He pulls her up, and he twirls her around as she laughs.
All her castmates appear from backstage, clapping and whistling, but Rachel only kisses him.
A moment later, she snatches the ring box away from him, but she lets him slip the ring on. She looks down at her hand and laughs a little as she looks back at him. "We'll have to start the dress rehearsal over again," she says, wiping away her tears. "We'll be here past midnight."
"I'm sorry," he replies, kind of sheepish. He can't make himself stop grinning.
She shakes her head. "Don't be." And she kisses him. He can feel the ring against his cheek as she cradles his face in her hands, and he can hear Kurt shout something, and he knows all her friends want to hug her and to congratulate her, but he can't possibly care less about the rest of the world.
They fly home to Lima for break, and it's the first time Ellie has ever been to Lima.
Finn takes her on a walk around town to show her all the sights, and they spend Christmas Eve with Mr. Schuester, who happily insists they call him Will. They introduce Ellie to Puck and to Mike as well, and Rachel shows her ring to anyone who comes within ten feet of her.
"I'm happy you like it," his mom says, holding Ellie and letting the baby play with her necklace.
"I do," Rachel says, smiling at her hand. "It's beautiful, Mrs. —"
"Mom," she interrupts quickly, and she smiles warmly as she continues quietly. "You can call me Mom now, if you'd like." Rachel nods, biting her lip, and Finn smiles into his coffee as his mom wraps Rachel up in a hug, Ellie giggling when she's smashed between them.
The snow isn't as deep in New York, and Rachel finally agrees to take Ellie out in it.
His mom brought her a bright pink coat with matching pink mittens and a pink hat for Christmas, and they bundle her up and take her to Central Park. The snow isn't too deep, but it falls in large, fluffy flakes, and Ellie happily tries to catch them. Finn opens his mouth and sticks out his tongue, and Ellie just stares at him like he might be crazy, but he laughs and tickles her and she laughs, too.
Blaine and Kurt built a snow man as Rachel oversees, and Finn walks Ellie around, holding her hands as she kicks the snow up with her tiny, fashionable baby boots from Uncle Kurt, and she doesn't seem to tire until suddenly she's exhausted. Rachel picks her up and shushes her, and they head home.
Kurt and Blaine part ways with them to pick up coffee, and Finn decides to say something when they're alone in the apartment. Ellie doesn't want to be changed, because she never wants to be changed, but he talks her down and starts to change her as Rachel makes her something to eat.
"I've started to think about something," Finn says. He's kind of nervous.
He picks Ellie up by the legs, wipes her clean, and grabs a fresh diaper. "It's about, um, the future. I've thought about it a lot since my psych class did that project at the elementary school, and. . . ."
He knows he should just spit it out. It's not a big deal. "What is it?" Rachel asks, leaning against the counter. He doesn't look at her as he fastens the clean diaper and picks Ellie up. "Finn?"
"I thought maybe I could teach. Elementary school. Be a teacher. For a job." He clears his throat, and he puts Ellie in her high chair. Rachel touches his back suddenly as she sets a plate down in front of Ellie. He finally looks at her, and she has one of those big, brilliant smiles on her face.
"You would be an amazing teacher!" she exclaims.
He lets out a breath and sits beside Ellie. "Yeah, I thought that I'm, like, actually good with kids."
"You are! And you could even teach Ellie! What grade do you think you'd like to teach? You could probably just earn a degree in elementary school education and teach whatever grade you want, right? Or do you earn a specialised degree? I need to do some research."
She already has her laptop open. He holds a spoonful of mashed potatoes up to Ellie.
"Would you really be okay if I stayed in school for another year or so?" he asks.
Rachel looks up from her computer. "Of course! Why wouldn't I be?"
He walks over to her and kisses her, just 'cause he loves her a lot. "You're the best fiancée ever."
She smiles against his lips, but her eyes are back on her computer a moment later. He grins and looks over at Ellie, who lets the mashed potatoes fall back out of her mouth as she smiles, happy just like her mama, happy for him, and maybe he'll change his mind, but he doesn't really care.
Ellie catches some kind of cold.
Her cries are angry screams, and she squirms and flails, and her nose is stuffed. Rachel freaks out when she tries to wipe it and the snot is bright green, and she shouts for Blaine to dial 911. Kurt calms her down as Finn checks to see if she has a fever. She's only a couple of degrees hotter, but that's enough to freak him out. He skips class to take Ellie to the doctor with Rachel.
The doctor is not that freaked. "As long as her fever doesn't worsen and her symptoms remain like this, a little fussy, a little stuffed up, I wouldn't worry," she says. "It'll clear up in a week or so." He tells them they can give her a tiny dosage of Tylenol, and he recommends they keep her nose clear.
Finn glares at the woman as they leave. "If anything worsens, just call, Mr. Hudson," she says, eyes knowing. He nods and walks Rachel and a fussy Ellie out of the office. Fine. His daughter is actually sick, is miserable, even has a fever, but, okay, fine, just do nothing. That's fine.
It makes him a little heartsick to see her suffer, and Rachel doesn't really sleep for a week, not until the cold fades. But it does fade, and Ellie is okay.
As winter melts into spring, the whole idea of graduation starts to hit home.
It's too late to apply for a teaching masters program next fall, so he'll just work to save up some money and apply for the year after that, and that'll give Rachel some time to focus more on her career rather than money. They have a whole plan, actually. It still seems scary that they'll be college graduates in a few months, though, real adults out in the real world.
"Because Ellie wasn't enough to make us feel like real adults," Kurt says, flipping a page in People.
"My dads won't pay my rent as soon as I graduate," Rachel says, and she looks up from the baby book that she spends all her free time perfecting. "They won't pay any of my bills, in fact. I will be entirely fiscally responsible from graduation on. That's always been the plan."
"You'll be fine," Blaine says, making a fish face at Ellie, who babbles at him. She can't really talk yet, even if she says random words sometimes. "And they're gonna help with the wedding, right?"
Rachel nods. "They're so excited, and my daddy promised he wouldn't spare any expense!" The excitement radiates off her. The wedding is that fall, and Rachel already put together a binder with a detailed plan for it all. It kind of makes Finn excited to think about, because it's his wedding.
Ellie giggles at another face Blaine makes, and she picks up the glue stick that Rachel sets down.
Blaine pulls out it out her grasp before she can put it in her mouth. She likes to put everything in her mouth now. "No, sweetheart," he says, "not that." Ellie stares at him for a moment, and her forehead wrinkles, and her lip trembles. "Aw, don't do that. Come on. Don't do that."
She only continues to stare at him, tears welling in her eyes as she makes the face Finn imagines Rachel would make if she witnessed someone shoot a kitten in the face. Ellie doesn't handle the word no so well these days. Amused, Rachel hands Blaine the cap to the glue, and he shoves it on and shoves the stick back to Ellie. She eagerly takes it, and she smiles when Blaine does.
"Crisis averted," Rachel says, and she kisses Ellie on the cheek.
Rachel drops a plate of spaghetti all over the floor when she sees Ellie crawl for the first time.
Finn has worked on this for weeks, holding out toys and encouraging her, and she finally abandons Blaine and the television to crawl across the main room to Finn, on his knees with her favourite stuffed elephant in his hand. Rachel pulls her camera out of nowhere, and it's like Ellie is on a red carpet the way the camera flashes continuously until she reaches Finn.
He picks her up and kisses her all over her face, and he blows raspberries on her chubby little tummy because she loves that, and Rachel documents that, too. They end up ordering pizza for dinner, because they're all too busy trying to have Ellie crawl again to cook dinner for themselves.
They read her Go, Dog. Go! that night. It's fitting, right?
They've started to read to Ellie every night right before her bedtime song, and it's kind of fun. She touches the pictures, and Finn tries to do funny voices as he reads so that she laughs, and Rachel helps her tiny fingers turn the pages. Rachel says it makes your kid smarter to read to her.
Finn already knows she's as smart as Rachel is, but he still likes to read to her.
She doesn't actually know what the word bye means.
Finn blames Rachel, but he can't really blame her, 'cause it's kind of his fault, too. It's just that Ellie actually calls them mama and dada now, looks right at them and knows that they're her parents, and it's awesome. He does everything he can to make her say the word, to call him dada. It's awesome.
It also makes it so much harder to leave her for anything.
Rachel is the same way, and on a random Monday she starts to leave for class, and Kurt says bye.
Finn and Blaine both call goodbye as well, and then Ellie does, too. "Bye, Mama!"
Rachel gasps and runs to Ellie, picking her up and kissing her. "Did you just say goodbye to me? Oh, you're so smart! Give me a kiss." Ellie laughs and wetly kisses the cheek that Rachel taps, and Rachel ends up half an hour later to a fifty minute class. That starts to happen a lot, actually.
All Ellie has to do is say bye to one of them, and they're right back with her.
Finn finally realises what Ellie has figured out when he starts to leave for work and Ellie says goodbye to him. He smiles, waves, and opens the door. "Bye, Dada? Dada? Bye, Dada!" She starts to squirm in her highchair, nearly crying, and Blaine looks wordlessly at Finn.
Finn moves back towards her, and Ellie reaches her hands up. "Bye, Dada!" She wipes her stray tears, calming down as her legs curl around his waist, and he rubs her back, uncertain.
Kurt is the first to say it. "Oh, God — she thinks bye means stay, doesn't she?" He starts to laugh.
Finn looks at Ellie, and she only looks back at him innocently, her hands curled in fists around the material of his shirt. He decides to skip class that afternoon.
Finn bounces the pink rubber ball, and Ellie tries to catch it, her tongue between her lips as she concentrates her hardest. She jumps a little with the ball and claps her hands together for another failed attempt. Finn laughs and bounces the ball a little higher. She stumbles backwards and falls on her butt.
A moment later she's back on her feet, reaching for the ball. "Ball, Dada!"
He tosses it into the air as slowly as he can, and she finally catches it. Rachel gasps dramatically, and Ellie beams, holding the ball up in the air. "Ball!" Finn claps for her, and she claps, too, dropping the ball, but she doesn't seem to notice. She stares happily at Finn, and they clap together.
She spots her ball out of the corner of her eye suddenly, though, and she takes a hesitant step forward, her hand on the leg of the couch. She reaches for the ball. Kurt scoops it up, and he holds it out to her. She drags herself forward, clinging to the couch. Finn grins as he watches her.
He looks at his watch. They only have four minutes left.
"UnkaUrt, ball," Ellie says, reaching for the ball. Kurt hands it to her and pulls her into his lap.
"Uncle Kurt loves you," he says, kissing the top of her head.
"Ball!" she exclaims, holding out the ball and looking at Finn.
"I see," he tells her. "You've got the ball!" He laughs, and he checks his watch. It's only two minutes now. "Yeah, I see! You have the ball!" Rachel comes into the living room, the cake finally in the oven. It'll need to be iced after it finishes basking, and they won't eat it until tomorrow, but tonight is the actual night. Another minute, and Ellie will officially be a year old.
"Sing!" Ellie demands when she spots Rachel. "Mama, sing!"
Finn thinks that might be her favourite thing in the whole world, to hear her mama sing.
Rachel smiles. "Look at the stars," she starts, "Look how they shine for you, / And everything you do. / Yeah, they were all yellow." Rachel squats down and holds her hands out for Ellie, who stumbles towards her.
"I came along, / I wrote a song for you, / And all the things you do, / And it was called Yellow. / So then I took my turn, / Oh what a thing to have done, / And it was all Yellow." The song should be a little slower, a little less happy, but it doesn't matter. Kurt starts to hum softly as he leans against Blaine, and Ellie smiles as Rachel picks her up. "Your skin, / Oh, yeah, your skin and bones, / Turn into something beautiful,/ You know, you know I love you so, / You know I love you so."
Rachel gives Ellie an Eskimo kiss, and Ellie smiles and hugs her neck.
Finn starts to sing, too, and both girls look over at him. "I swam across, / I jumped across for you, / Oh what a thing to do. / 'Cause you were all Yellow. / I drew a line, / I drew a line for you."
"And you know," Blaine sings, "For you I'd bleed myself dry, / For you I'd bleed myself dry."
"It's true," Kurt sings, "Look how they shine for you, / And all the things that you do."
It's quiet for a moment, and Finn looks at his watch. "Happy Birthday, baby," he whispers. His kid is a year old exactly. They survived a year in school with a baby. It's kind of amazing. A year ago, he had no idea it would end up like this, no idea he would keep his baby let alone love her like he does.
And he knows this whole crazy mess has just begun. He wouldn't have it any other way.
Good morning, baby.
I hope we're gonna make it through another day.
And when you rise you'll find me here.
Open your eyes and see myself reflected there,
And for awhile, a little room becomes an everywhere.