A/N: The idea of married!Finchel is too damn intriguing to pass up. So, I started writing this (which is essentially just a whole lot of drabbles that are very loosely set into something that sort of, maybe resembles a plot line). This first chapter is really just a long prologue, showing little glimpses into Rachel's first semester at college. The story's going to progress from there, with each chapter looking into another semester of college. Hope you enjoy!

(Also, let's assume that Rachel is eighteen in her senior year of high school and that NYADA has a dorm building. And, the angst category and the 'M' rating aren't needed for this chapter, but they will be for future ones.)

-x-

"I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep." – Pablo Neruda.

-x-

She decides that they should paint their bedroom yellow. At first, she tries to say that it's because she wants the room painted in a color that is conducive to good moods and happy thoughts; a blue room would only lead to blue moods, or at least, that's what her daddy always says.

Finn glances down at her when she says that. They're at the store comparing different paint samples and for the past five minutes, they've been debating between Marigold Yellow or Ocean Blue. Finn holds the paint stick that is covered in blue, and Rachel is holding firmly onto the one that's been dipped in yellow. He nudges her with his arm, and she looks up at him.

"You miss your dads?" he asks, and Rachel shakes her head vigorously, no. Finn raises an eyebrow at her, questioningly, and she sighs.

She doesn't want to have this conversation in the middle of a hardware store, but at the same time, she doesn't want to have this conversation at their apartment, either. She thinks that it's a conversation that she really doesn't want to have at all, actually. Homesickness only increases the more you talk about it, she reasons, and Rachel Berry – no, Rachel Hudson – has no time to be homesick.

She and Finn have been living in their apartment for around a week now – they arrived during the first week of August in order to get settled before classes started. Rachel's tried organizing their new home as best she can, but it's difficult when there are so many things that are distracting her. Namely, Finn, New York, sex with Finn, and missing Ohio.

She never thought she would miss Ohio. But she also never thought she would be married at eighteen, either, so clearly, things have a way of changing.

"I don't miss them," she says quietly, and she looks back down at the paint sample. Shrugging, she says, "I suppose I'm just feeling a bit out of sorts. If you had asked me a year ago if I ever thought I'd be picking out paint samples with you, I would've probably laughed or asked if you were feeling alright."

Finn leans down, presses a kiss against the top of her head. "Me, too. This is almost like whiplash, right?"

Rachel furrows her brow, confused, and Finn continues, "like, how this is all happening so fast. We just got married last month and now we've moved to New York and it's just – it's totally awesome, just happening really fast."

Rachel nods in agreement and even though it's scary being away from home, it's not so scary when she knows she has Finn. It's comforting – whenever she can't think of the words to properly vocalize how she's feeling, Finn always seems to know what to say.

She looks at the paint sample in her hand. It's the exact shade that she has in her old bedroom, at her house in Lima. She remembers when she picked out that color, she was thirteen years old; her dads told her that no matter how sad she felt when people picked on her in school, or how lonely she was, she'd always have a sunny place to call home.

Silly, of course, because it's not as if the color of her room ever truly made her feel better. Still, though, it is a pretty color and she'd certainly rather have a light, airy room versus a room that is gloomy and ominous.

She holds the paint sample up to Finn's face. "This is the shade I want our bedroom walls painted," she says firmly. "It's beautiful and will brighten up the room – it's already so small, we don't want it to look even smaller by darkening the walls." Finn looks disappointed.

"But this blue would kind of match our comforter," he argues halfheartedly, one last stab at trying to proving his point. Rachel thinks about that for a second, because the blue would look nice with the bed set that Mercedes and Sam bought them as a wedding present…

A wedding present. Honestly, the rings are on her finger, and she's obviously well aware of the fact that she's married, but it's still so new that sometimes she forgets that she and Finn aren't just playing house here in New York. They're in school, they have jobs, they're building a life. Together.

She plucks the paint sample out of Finn's hands and holds the Marigold Yellow and Ocean Blue next to each other. Pursing her lips, she thinks about this seriously. She's married now, and yes, while if she had her choice she would decorate her apartment in varying shades of yellows and pinks – this isn't about just her anymore. Because while Finn loves her unconditionally and will most likely let her decorate the apartment however she wants, he should have a say in these decisions, too.

This is just as much his home as it is hers.

"How do you feel about yellow walls and a blue trim?" Rachel suggests. "Or, maybe we could paint the walls of the kitchen a light blue. I've heard that the color works as an appetite suppressant, so that way we can make absolutely sure that we aren't overeating in an unhealthy way now that we're living on our own."

"But I like eating," Finn says, and he plants a kiss on her cheek, smacking his lips loudly against her skin because he knows she thinks it's cute. "Especially when you make those spinach enchiladas."

Rachel blushes and then takes a hold of his hand, tilting it so she can see the time on his watch. Three-thirty.

"Well, if we buy this paint now and then hurry over to the store to get some ingredients, I can make those for dinner tonight if you want," she says. Finn smiles widely, and he looks at the paint samples in her hand once more, nodding confidently.

"I think the blue and yellow will look awesome," he says, wrapping an arm around her shoulder as he leads her over to the paint mixing station. Rachel smiles and she locks her arms around his waist as they wait in line.

-x-

They don't paint the kitchen blue. After Finn spent three days meticulously painting the bedroom with Rachel watching his every move to ensure that absolutely no paint landed on the carpet, Finn suggested holding off on any more painting for a while. She had been a little upset at first, but when he reasoned that this meant they could spend the rest of their painting budget on some tickets for that off (off-off) Broadway show she had been dying to see, she quickly let go of the initial disappointment.

Besides, once Kurt moves to the city at the end of August, he says that he'll help her find some fun, kitschy things for the kitchen. There's a thrift store that's a couple blocks away from her and Finn's apartment, and Kurt has himself convinced that he and Rachel are going to become the best thrift stores shoppers New York has ever seen.

Rachel loves Finn, truly, but she doesn't know what she'd do with herself if her best gay hadn't made it to NYC with her.

"What about this?" Rachel asks, holding up a dark brown ceramic salt shaker that looks like it's seen some better days. "This is kind of cute, right?"

Kurt glances over his shoulder, makes a horrified look, and then goes back to rummaging through a box of old kitchen dishes. Rachel takes that as a no, and puts the salt shaker back.

She walks over to where Kurt's at. He has a small pile of items lying next to him; a salad bowl, a couple of funky glasses, a water pitcher, and a few plates.

"I figured we could go with a 60s sort of motif," Kurt suggests.

"Any reason why you picked that particular decade?" Rachel asks brightly, as she starts to look at the next shelf over that's filled with various types of photo frames and old looking photographs.

"Well, it was either the 60s or the 80s," Kurt says, and he points to a couple of lime green tumblers that have orange blue stripes going all around the rim. Rachel wrinkles her nose.

"60s it is."

Kurt laughs, "Yeah, I thought so. I mean, I'm sure Finn would love those glasses, but I don't want you to be embarrassed in case someone comes over who actually understands color schemes." He puts his hands on his hips and looks over at Rachel, who's now clutching onto a heavy photo frame. She holds it up to him excitedly.

"Wouldn't this be perfect for that one photo from my wedding? The one where Finn and I are standing underneath the willow tree, with all of those flowers around us?" she asks, and she brushes her finger over the frame. It's silver and has a flower design etched into it and she knows that it'd look beautiful on her nightstand. She quickly looks at the shelf again to see if there's another frame like it; maybe Finn would like to have a photo on his nightstand, too, so that they could match.

But there isn't another frame and Rachel feels a little pang of disappointment.

Kurt takes a step closer to her so he can look at the frame.

"It's too bad that there's not two of those frames; that way you could put one on your nightstand, the other frame on Finn's. It'd be one of those matchy-matchy things that all newlyweds seem to be obsessed with," he says dryly.

Rachel says sadly, "That's just what I was thinking."

She looks at the frame for another second, checking for a price tag. It's only five dollars, and she and Finn decided that she'd be able to spend thirty dollars today on her shopping trip. She glances over at the pile of other things her and Kurt have accrued. If she buys the frame and not the plates, she wouldn't go over her budget.

That's another part of her life in New York that she's still getting used to – living on a budget (or as Finn says so cheerfully when they buy the generic brand of everything and when they buy iceberg lettuce instead of romaine lettuce, "living like cheapskates"). It's not that her dads are ridiculously rich, but she's never truly wanted for anything – her dads always bought her clothes, paid for her car, bought her books and movies. But her dads warned her that when she and Finn married, financially, she'd essentially be on her own. They'd pay for school and they'd pay for her rent for the first year, but after that? They told her that if she was going to get married like an adult, she'd have to support herself financially like an adult.

And while Finn and her have already lined up jobs (he at a bookstore, her at a small café close to her campus) it's not like that money's going to be enough to support them like how they're used to. No more random date nights. No more going to buy a new dress just because, or buying that new Xbox game the day it comes out.

But Rachel knew all of this when they got married. She knew they'd have to save their money; she knew they wouldn't be able to just buy things willy-nilly! Still, though, she half wishes that Finn was here, so she could convince him that buying the frame and the plates wouldn't be a complete waste of money. And honestly, Rachel can rationalize this to the point where she can see this as an investment of sorts – it's not like they're just going to throw the frame or plates away after a week of use!

She sighs, staring at the frame in her hands. Her fingers tighten around it because she knows that she doesn't need it. But she wants it.

So she buys it and forgoes the plates. When she puts the picture in the frame later that night, and rests the frame against the mantel in their bedroom, she knows that she's made the right choice. Finn notices the picture when he comes into the room later that night, after he's finished his shift at work.

"Hey, that picture looks good, babe," he says, as he climbs onto the bed next to her.

"Yeah?" Rachel asks, smiling to herself. "I thought you would like it."

Finn nods, "I do," and stretches out on his stomach, pushing his head into the pillows. He lets out a loud yawn, then a groan, shaking out his shoulders a little. Rachel frowns, and rolls over closer to him, kissing him on the cheek. She brushes her nose against his and he brings his mouth up, bites the tip of her nose gently.

"Love you," he whispers quietly.

"I love you, too," she says, and she rests her chin against his shoulder. He winces a little.

"Do your shoulders hurt?" she asks, pulling away. She runs a hand through the hair on the back of his neck, scratching her fingernails against his skin lightly. He shrugs lazily, closing his eyes. He looks exhausted; the bookstore has never had an employee as athletic as him before, and they're taking full advantage, having him deal with the shipments of books in the back of the storeroom.

If they were back in Lima right now, she'd run out to Bath and Body Works so she could buy massage oil for him. But even though Rachel may not have the funds to buy those anymore, she is nothing if not resourceful. She reaches over to her nightstand and grabs her bottle of vitamin E. "Shirt off?" she asks Finn, and he lets out a small moan.

"Rach," he says, "do I have to? I kind of don't feel like moving… at all."

"I promise it'll be worth it," she says, and Finn shakes his head, no. But Rachel's not taking that for an answer, and so she pokes him until he finally relents, sitting up and pulling his shirt off slowly before lying back down on the bed. Rachel crawls over him, trying to sit as lightly as she can on his butt as she starts to break the vitamins over his back. Once enough oil has gathered, she rubs her fingers softly across his upper shoulders.

Finn lets out a little noise of contentment. "That feels good," he says, yawning again. "Best wife ever."

Rachel can't stop the smile that spreads across her face (wife) and she leans forward to brush a kiss against the side of his stomach, before resuming her ministrations.

-x-

Rachel works at the café every week day afternoon. She was nervous at first that working would affect her school work and her ability to focus on her career as a performer, but it turns out that she's even more fantastic at multitasking than previously imagined. While baking cupcakes in the kitchen, she practices her monologue for her Acting I class, and when working at the cash register, she often sings back people's orders to them. It's not necessarily the most ideal practice situation, but it does earn her a lot of tips, so she supposes that it will suffice.

Finn comes into visit her on Fridays. He doesn't have classes at all on that day, but he works at the bookstore from eight to four. Once he's finished his shift, though, he goes to the café to work on his homework while Rachel finishes up her own shift. He always sits in the corner and he always gives her an outrageously large tip when she sings to him that he ordered a small coffee, a red velvet cupcake, and his total's going to be three dollars and fifty eight cents. Rachel knows that it's silly, because it's not like the tip is going anywhere besides back into their own pockets – but still. It's adorable.

She gets off work at five and afterwards, they stop at the deli on the way home so they can buy groceries. Kurt usually meets them there and once they're done grocery shopping, they all head back to Finn and Rachel's.

"I swear," Kurt offers – or practically begs, "I would clean up after myself, I would scrub the entire bathroom every week, and I would be more than willing to help you both with your daily wardrobes."

Finn rolls his eyes and Rachel giggles. They're all standing around the small kitchen island, a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes in the middle of the table. Finn dips one in the vegan ranch dressing, and then holds it out to Rachel. She takes it out of his fingers with her mouth, and Kurt groans loudly, clapping his hands to get their attention. Finn doesn't even look at him; just focusing on stuffing more tomatoes into his mouth.

"Hello! Brother and best friend, I have a serious crisis on my hands here!"

Finn sighs and pops a couple more tomatoes into his mouth at once. "I don't get what's the big deal," he says, his voice practically inaudible as he chomps loudly away. He swallows and then grabs a few more. He glances over at Rachel and grins. "I'll be honest, I always thought tomatoes were kinda gross, but this ranch stuff makes them ten times better. You're so smart, babe."

Rachel beams. Kurt groans again.

"My roommate is hideous. I need to stay with you guys until I get switched to another dorm room and this is a nonnegotiable issue."

Finn's eyebrows rise practically past his hairline, and he shoots a quick look over at Rachel before busying himself with dipping more tomatoes into the ranch dip. He doesn't even have to say anything, because Rachel knows exactly what he's thinking.

Kurt moving in with them means no more sex in the living room and while Rachel absolutely adores her best friend, she's honestly not so sure if she's willing to give that up. Does that make her a horrible person? She doesn't necessarily think so. After all, she and Finn are newlyweds. Aren't they allowed to be just a little selfish?

"Kurt, maybe you just haven't given Nash enough of a chance," she says diplomatically. Finn nods enthusiastically, and Rachel continues, "school has only been in session for what, a couple of weeks? You probably just haven't clicked with him yet. You obviously have something in common, since we all go to NYADA together."

"Yeah, dude," Finn says. Kurt looks at Rachel if she's insane, completely ignoring Finn.

"Rachel, you've seen Nash. You know him; he's in all of our classes. He smells, and while yes, his baritone voice is lovely, his hygiene habits are atrocious. You cannot possibly say that I haven't given him a chance," Kurt says, and he actually sounds offended. Rachel starts to feel a little guilty, and she looks down at the ground, plucking at a loose thread on her sweater. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see Finn's resolve weakening by the second.

"I'm not asking to live here for forever," Kurt says earnestly, "but I cannot focus on my classes when I'm living with a man who should apply to be on the next season of Hoarders."

"Kurt, we would – we would love to have you stay, but it's just that. Well. You know," Rachel says, smiling awkwardly at him. Kurt stares blankly back, folding his arms across his chest.

"No, I do not know. Because I know that if either of you were in my situation, I would be more than willing to help, because Rachel, you have an anxiety attack when you see food crumbs on the floor, and Finn, you can't stand when people pile dirty laundry in the middle of the floor. Nash does both of these things!"

Rachel looks over at Finn for backup, but that backup is nowhere to be found. He's leisurely chewing on some tomatoes and is avoiding saying anything by sticking more food into his mouth every time he swallows. He actually looks a little bit like a chipmunk and she frowns at him. He looks at her, then at Kurt, and then motions towards the living room. He mumbles something and she raises an eyebrow. Kurt starts to look excited and for some reason, Rachel has the feeling that Finn is about to give up living room sex.

"I can't understand you, Alvin," she says tightly.

Finn swallows the last bit of tomatoes, then says quickly, "I mean, like, he could stay for a couple weeks or whatever." Rachel doesn't say anything, and he mumbles, "the couch pulls out and stuff."

"The couch pulls out so we can sleep on it for when guests come to visit and need to stay in our bedroom," Rachel says and looks apologetically at Kurt. "I'm sorry, Kurt, really, I am. But Finn and I are newlyweds, and as newlyweds we have certain needs -."

"I'd pay for a third of the groceries," Kurt interrupts, and Rachel abruptly stops talking. "And that new television that you two have been trying to save up for? I'm sure I could help pay for a bit of that as well."

Finn glances over at Rachel. "We're going to need to have a quick talk," he says, and he pulls on Rachel's arm, leading her out into the hallway. He folds his arm and leans down so that he can talk quietly without having to worry about Kurt listening in.

"I really want that TV," he whispers urgently, "and before you say anything, yeah, not having living room sex will totally suck but we can just do it on the floor of our bedroom and it'll kind of be like the same thing. I'll still get rug burn." Rachel nods, conceding this fact. But -

"I just don't know if it's the best idea," Rachel whispers back. "Yes, he's your brother, and yes, he's my best friend, but you and I are still developing our own system here – we're going through so many changes with school, and with our relationship… I just don't know if it's a good idea to add another change into the mix."

She sighs. The next point is egocentric but she made a promise to Finn when they got married that she'd always be honest with him, so… "Also, Kurt takes longer in the bathroom than I do, and I really don't want to have to wake up any earlier for class than I already do."

To his credit, Finn doesn't laugh at her when she says this. He knows that she has to wake up early in order to get to class on time; their apartment isn't as close to NYADA as it is to his campus, and Rachel has to wake up at six so that she can get ready and to school for her eight thirty class.

Finn thinks about this for a second, before he nods. "Okay, I've got it," he says, and he grabs onto Rachel's hand, intertwining their fingers as they walk back into the kitchen. Kurt's sitting down at a chair now, despondently tossing tomatoes into his mouth.

"Yes?" Kurt asks, clearly hurt that they took so long to discuss the matter of him living with them. Finn takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Rachel looks up at him, wondering as to what, exactly, he has up his sleeve.

"Okay. You can definitely crash here for as long as you need to, because you're family and if Nash is really leaving piles of laundry in the middle of the room, you shouldn't have to live with him," Finn says. Kurt raises any eyebrow, clearly aware that there's a 'but' coming. "But," Finn delivers, shifting on his feet a little nervously, "you either have to be done with the bathroom by six o'clock, or you have to wait until Rachel's totally done with it. This is our apartment and Rachel shouldn't have to change her whole daily routine for you." He shoots her a quick, nervous glance, as if to ask, is this okay?

She can actually feel tears starting to well up in her eyes and she can't even find words; she just nods okay, and brushes her fingertips against her eyes.

Okay, yes, perhaps she's being a smidge dramatic, but honestly.

She knows that Finn's not perfect, but he's so good to her that she can't even stand it sometimes. Like yesterday, he bought her a small bouquet of flowers 'just because' and the other day he met her at NYADA and brought her a lunch that he'd made all by himself.

And now he's defending her bathroom time.

She looks over at Kurt, who's seemingly considering his options. He nods slowly. "Okay, I agree to those terms. But you can't yell at me if I take a shower at five in the morning and wake you both up," he says warningly. "And I am also going to need at least one half of the sink space," he adds on.

Rachel agrees. "That's fine; Finn and I put most of our stuff in the medicine cabinet." Rachel's not going to say anything to Kurt about how she absolutely hates when people leave things around the sink because it looks messy and out of place; she knows how badly Finn wants the television and honestly, more grocery money means that she might be able to buy some coconut ice cream. (Being a vegan on a budget is a bit more difficult than she originally thought.)

Kurt finally smiles and looks at them, sighing a little in relief. "God, I can't wait to get the hell out of that dorm room. I won't have to listen to Dash clipping his nails at two o'clock in the morning ever again."

Rachel laughs and walks over, giving him a hug. "I'm glad we could help Kurt," she says honestly. And she really is glad. He's her best friend and while it's been nice living with just Finn, she can't abandon Kurt when he needs her, because Kurt's right - he would never in a million years abandon her or Finn.

"Me, too," Finn says and walks over to the pair of them, enveloping them in a big bear hug. Kurt pats them on the back.

"If possible, you two have gotten even more embarrassingly sentimental since the wedding day," Kurt says conversationally as Finn hugs them tighter. Rachel can't deny that, because she knows it's completely true.

-x-

Finn and Rachel (and Kurt) fall into a routine. Finn takes out the trash, Kurt cleans the bathroom, Rachel makes dinner, and they all take turns washing dishes. Rachel and Kurt do their homework out in the living room and Finn works on his homework in the bedroom; even though they're all musical theater majors, it's insanely distracting to hear Finn practicing one song while Rachel and Kurt are practicing another song that's in a completely different key.

Kurt sleeps on the pull out couch and when Blaine comes to visit in September, the two of them go to a hotel room so they can have some alone time. Finn and Rachel consider having sex in the living room when Kurt's gone, but honestly? It kind of creeps the two of them out, knowing that's Kurt's space now. So they give up on that whole idea and instead just have sex in the kitchen, which is communal space and communal space makes it Finn and Rachel's space, since it's their names on the lease.

Rachel asks Kurt at the end of September if he's given up on trying to find another dorm, and Kurt nods and quickly says that he'll search for an apartment so he can get out of her and Finn's hair by next semester. Rachel just kisses him on the cheek and tells him to take as much time as he needs. Yes, her and Finn are married, but she discussed it over the phone with her therapist from Lima, and that doesn't necessarily mean that they have to act like adults all the time; if they want a roommate, they can have a roommate.

It's still a little surreal, saying that she's married. Her classmates are all quite accepting of it but Rachel knows that Finn's new friends were all shocked when they saw the wedding band on his hand.

"I'll be totally honest," Jeremy says, on a late Friday night in the beginning of October. Rachel, Finn, Kurt, and a couple of Finn's friends from school are all hanging out at a local dive bar that never seems to ID them (specifically because of the wedding rings that Rachel and Finn wear) and they're well into their fourth pitcher of beer. "When I first realized you were married, I thought you'd knocked her up or something. Who the fuck gets married at eighteen, you know?"

If Rachel wasn't so tipsy, she would probably slap Jeremy across the face for insinuating that she and Finn had a shotgun wedding. But she is tipsy; so instead, she just leans into Finn shoulder and starts giggling uncontrollably, covering her face with her hands.

"We thought it was a fabulous idea at the time," she says, and she looks up into Finn's eyes affectionately. He smiles at her and then calls over a waiter, asks for another pitcher of beer and a gin and tonic for his girl. He got a raise at work the other day, and that combined with the A that Rachel received on her Music Theory midterm means that tonight is a celebration of epic proportions.

Rachel giggles again and presses a kiss against his neck without even having to stand up on her tip toes.

She's wearing very, very high heels – Kurt convinced her that every girl needs a pair of black pumps and while she agrees with this idea, she's not so sure that wearing them tonight was the smartest idea. Finn grips her tightly around the waist, though, so even when she slips a little, she doesn't fall.

They're all standing around a table towards the back of the bar, and at some point she thought they were going to play darts but now they all just seem to be waiting around for karaoke to start. Another one of Finn's friends, Matt, has been bothering the bartender now for about ten minutes, asking when they can get the damn music started.

Honestly, a karaoke bar should know better than to deny a group of musical theater majors the chance to sing.

And while Rachel is secretly convinced that NYADA has the absolute best musical theater program on the entire planet, she knows that Finn's school's has a fantastic program as well. Matt and Jeremy are truly talented singers (though nowhere near as talented as Finn, who as a freshman landed a prime role in the fall production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and Matt's girlfriend, Louisa, has a wonderful voice that reminds Rachel of Tina's.

Rachel frowns when she thinks of Tina. She misses her. She misses Mercedes, too, and Sam, and Mike, and -.

"I miss Ohio," Rachel says to Finn. He looks at her, confused, as the waiter passes by them to drop their drinks off. "I mean – I love it here," she says, "but I miss home, too? Is that bad? Since I always wanted to escape from there?" She sighs, and suddenly she's a little sad because she's thinking about Lima and there's a lemon in her gin and tonic, and it's ridiculous, but whenever she sees yellow now she thinks of her childhood bedroom and home. "I think I miss my dads."

Finn shakes his head, and he puts a couple fingers underneath her chin, pulling her face closer to his. "It's okay to be homesick, Rach," he says. "I get homesick sometimes, too. It just means that, you know – we still like where we come from, and we miss it. It's not like you have to act super mature all the time." She pouts.

"Even though I'm an old, married woman?" she asks, and Finn responds by kissing her. She wraps her arms around his neck and he pushes one of his hands up into her hair, kissing her again. She's found that mentioning the word 'married' is like some kind of… turn-on for Finn now. Whenever she mentions anything about being his wife, he automatically kisses her.

It's a wonderful thing, especially when they're in a tiff. For instance, the other night she wanted to watch Grey's Anatomy but he wanted to watch the hockey game, and somehow that evolved into them fighting about him spending so much extra time at rehearsals with Bernadette Daniels ("she plays opposite me in the musical, Rach, I can't help that!") and her spending too much money on a new shower curtain ("it has stars on it! Why you fighting me about this?"). After a half hour of angry comments, Rachel finally whispered something about not wanting to fight with her husband on their two month wedding anniversary.

The fight ended almost instantaneously.

Finn pulls away from her. "Best married woman I know," he says, and Matt throws a napkin at them as he makes violent gagging noises.

"Break it up, you two. We didn't come out to see you two get it on in the middle of the bar," Louisa says, and Finn laughs in response, but takes a step away from Rachel, holding his hands up innocently. Kurt rolls his eyes, and points towards the karaoke stage.

"I think they're done setting up." Finn, Jeremy, and Matt all run up to the stage, tripping over each other as they try to grab the microphones, arguing over what song to sing first. Rachel can't help but smile because it's nice to see Finn have friends who truly love the same things that he does – performing without holding back and watching sports and playing Xbox games.

Louisa nudges her with her shoulder as Finn holds a glass of beer in one hand and the microphone in the other. "How much do you want to bet that Finn's going to throw up tonight?"

Rachel looks at her haughtily. "Finn knows his limits. He's very aware of how damaging vomit is to his vocal cords."

This may be true, but three hours, four more pitchers of beer, and three shots later, Finn and Rachel are back in their apartment, and Finn is retching. He's practically wrapped around the toilet, his head hanging inside the bowl, and every time Rachel tries to ask him a question, he just moans in response.

She sits beside him and rubs his back gently.

"Maybe next time, we don't celebrate your raise quite so much," she says, kissing him lightly on the ear. He shrugs sadly but doesn't say anything. "It's a good thing I stopped drinking after my G and T, otherwise I wouldn't be able to take care of you properly," Rachel tries again, and Finn just nods, still not looking up at her.

She sighs, and stands up, walking out into the hallway. She pulls an extra blanket and pillow out from the linen closet, and then lays them down in the bathroom for Finn. He holds a hand up in thanks, and she brushes a final kiss against the top of his head before leaving the bathroom and closing the door gently behind her. She shuffles out into the living room; Kurt is still up, watching late night infomercials and eating some kettle corn. She lies down on the couch beside him.

"How bad is he?" Kurt asks, looking over at her. She shrugs, reaching her hand into the bowl to grab a couple of half-popped kernels.

"I think he will have a horrible headache in the morning and will want to sleep in until noon," Rachel says, "but he has rehearsal at ten, so I'll have to make sure he's up by eight. He certainly will not be a happy camper but he's the one who really wanted to go out tonight, so…" Rachel doesn't finish the sentence because she can't talk about Finn behind his back, but the message is implied : it's not my fault he got so drunk.

"Well, at least Matt and Jeremy will be in the same boat," Kurt notes, and Rachel nods in agreement. Kurt motions for her to come closer, and she cuddles up to him, laying her head on his shoulder. On the television (a brand, spanking new thirty six inch flat screen that is by far the nicest thing in their apartment), the infomercial is trying to sell some new sort of Snuggie, and Rachel makes a mental reminder to buy the blue one for Finn for Christmas. He's always complaining that their apartment is cold, after all.

"Well, at least we celebrated his raise and your A sufficiently," Kurt comments after a few minutes, "and hopefully now he'll learn not to get so drunk when he has commitments to attend to the next day."

Rachel thinks about this for a moment. "You know," she says thoughtfully, "I'm just glad that he had a good time tonight. I think he feels very stressed out a lot of the time; we're always worrying about saving money, and working, and school. It's nice when he can relax and have a nice time with his friends." Right as she finishes that sentence, she can hear the unmistakable sound of Finn vomiting. "But perhaps next time, we'll stop him from the shots."

"Rach," Finn calls sadly from the bathroom. "Water?"

Rachel looks over at Kurt, who nods seriously. "Yes. Next time, we stop him from the shots."

-x-

While Finn managed to land a role in his school's fall musical, Rachel and Kurt didn't even bother trying to audition for NYADA's. The fall musical at their school generally consists only of upperclassmen, so Rachel decided that her time would be better spent at extra vocal lessons, rather than being a member of the background ensemble. When she calls her dads to tell them this, they're disappointed because they love seeing her in musicals. She placates them though, by saying that when they come to visit for Columbus Weekend they can all go see a Broadway show together. Afterwards, they'll go to dinner and discuss how much better of a singer Rachel is than the actress in the lead role. Her dads agree excitedly, and so on Friday night (a week after Finn's incident), the four of them go to a show together.

Her dads sit on either side of her and hold her hands throughout the entire musical. Every so often, her papa will lean over and whisper that Rachel's vibrato is so much more controlled than the actress's, or her daddy will tell her quietly that her dancing puts this supposed 'professional's' to shame. In the very, very back of her mind, Rachel knows that she should be a bit embarrassed that her parents think so highly of her… but she's their only daughter and if they want to shower her with compliments, she's certainly not going to stop them.

After the show, her dads take her and Finn out to a fun dessert restaurant that's only a few blocks from their apartment. There aren't too many vegan options, but Rachel has a small bite of Finn's cannoli and a spoonful of her daddy's chocolate sundae. When they finally get back to Finn and Rachel's apartment, Rachel's a bit exhausted, but her parents insist on hearing absolutely everything about their lives.

So, they all sit down at the kitchen table, and talk about life – which essentially consists of her daddy grilling them about married life.

"What do your friends say?" Daddy asks, elbows on the table and his head propped up in his hands. "Are any of them married?"

He asks the question innocently enough, but Rachel knows that he has an ulterior motive, because Daddy always has an ulterior motive. She also knows that he's still not entirely thrilled that her and Finn went through with getting married, because he told her so a day after the wedding.

"No, but then again, not everyone meets their true love when they're fifteen years old," Rachel says, and she smiles at Finn, who's sitting to the left of her. He doesn't say anything, but he reaches over, pulls her hand into his lap, and runs his thumb across her ring finger. He does that a lot when he's nervous - he holds her hand, but more specifically, he touches her wedding rings. Rachel's not sure if he's trying to reassure himself that they're married, or what. But whenever he does that, for whatever reason, he always seems to feel better.

Daddy clears his throat. "Well, I'm sure some of them thought that they had met their true love."

Rachel looks over at him sharply. "Thinking is different than knowing," she says, and she pushes her chair away from the table, standing up. "Would anyone like a cup of tea?"

"Green," Finn says, and then looks up at her. "Please." She smiles at him then looks at her fathers, her eyes narrowing. She knows that they're not entirely comfortable with the fact that she and Finn are married, but quite honestly, if they had that many reservations, shouldn't they have voiced them before the wedding?

"I'm fine," Papa says quickly, aware of the look in his daughter's eyes, and Daddy asks for a cup of tea, but chamomile. Rachel goes about making the tea, and Daddy turns his questioning to Finn.

"So, I hear that you have a role in the fall musical?"

"Yes, sir. I mean, not a big role or anything – it's like, a couple of steps away from ensemble," Finn says, stuttering slightly. Her papa smiles at him, and Rachel feels a rush of love for her father at that moment. Even if Papa still doesn't understand exactly why she had to marry Finn at eighteen, at least he doesn't try to interrogate them either.

(And Rachel knows that a lot of people don't understand why she had to marry Finn right after high school. But she did, she absolutely did, because… because he's her person, he's her person that she's been waiting for ever since she was a little girl dreaming about one day finding her true love. And why wait when you find a love like that, right? Why not start their life together as soon as possible?)

"Congratulations," Papa says warmly to Finn. "That's quite an accomplishment for a freshman."

"Yeah, but it's not NYADA or anything," Finn says, then quickly adds, "not that I'm downplaying my school or anything it's just – just not as competitive as NYADA is, you know?"

"Oh, we know," Daddy says. Rachel glares at him over her shoulder, and Daddy sighs. "Not meaning any offense, of course."

Finn smiles at him unsurely and looks at Rachel gratefully when she places a mug of tea in front of him and one in front of her daddy. She sits back down and without him even having to reach over, she places a hand on his thigh. Immediately, she feels his hand wrap around hers, and feels his thumb once again touch her rings.

He takes a long sip of tea and then looks over at her daddy nervously. "Mr. Berry, I know you're still like, kind of upset that Rachel and I are married. But honestly, we're not doing all that bad here in New York. We're really happy and we're both doing good in school and – and we've saved up some money for next year, and yeah, Kurt helps us clean but we've still managed to take really good care of the apartment -."

Daddy interrupts him. "Finn, I know you're a good guy. I know you take good care of the apartment. Your bedroom looks lovely and your bathroom's extremely clean." Rachel says a silent thank you to Kurt for that one. "And I know you love my daughter very, very much. But I can't say that her getting married at eighteen was something I wanted for her. You have to understand that." Her daddy looks at Finn, not meanly, but just honestly. Finn grips onto Rachel's hand a little tighter.

He nods slowly. "I get that, I do. But Rachel and I are married, and that's not changing."

Rachel smiles at him and she randomly looks at the pictures that are hanging on the fridge; her and Finn at their graduation, at their last Glee Club rehearsal, at their wedding. There's a notepad that hangs on the fridge, too, and she writes Finn a good morning note on it every day before she leaves for school or work, and by the stove there's the cookie jar that Finn bought her for their one month wedding anniversary; it's shaped like a big, fat cat and it's possibly the cutest thing Rachel's ever seen in her life (and it's a little hilarious because even though her and Kurt were convinced that they'd be the thriftiest of all New York shoppers, it turns out that Finn knows his way around the Salvation Army very well, and randomly picks her up little presents from there for either an anniversary or just because).

It's a bit surreal, because she still misses Ohio and maybe a part of her permanently will, but she's started building this home here. It began when she and Finn painted their bedroom that first week in New York and now it's just continuing and continuing, and it's exhilarating and overwhelming, realizing that for the rest of her life, she's going to be building this life with Finn.

Her papa smiles at her and he motions towards the pictures on the fridge. "I don't see any pictures of Daddy or me on there," he says, teasingly reprimanding her. Daddy looks over at the fridge and his eyes widen in shock.

"Rachel Barbra Berry," he says, "why in blue blazes is there no picture of us on there?" he demands, and then he pauses, looking at Finn for just a second before looking back at Rachel. She looks at him a little expectantly, and he leans over, kisses her on the cheek. "Rachel Hudson," he says, and she throws her arms around him, hugging him tightly, because honestly? Her daddy finally referring to her as Rachel Hudson is the biggest form of acceptance that she and Finn will probably ever get from him.

"I have photos of you two all over the living room," Rachel says happily. "Clearly, you just haven't looked hard enough." Papa holds his hands up in a conciliatory manner and Daddy pulls away from her, and looks over at Finn.

"So, when's the opening night for the big play?" Daddy asks finally.

"Oh, um, it's actually the first week of November," Finn says. "I think it runs Thursday through Sunday."

Daddy looks over at Rachel for confirmation, and she nods. She's had Finn's fall play schedule memorized since she first found out he was going to be a part of the production; she wanted to make absolutely sure that she'd get the time off from work so she could go to every single show.

Daddy taps his fingers against the table for a second, before pulling his cell phone out and adding the date to his calendar. "Well," he says, "I suppose we'll be making another trip out here in a month, Leroy."

Finn's jaw drops and Rachel has to literally sit on her hands so that she doesn't burst out into applause.

She just loves her fathers.

-x-

NYADA is difficult, certainly much more difficult than Rachel ever anticipated. Her professors expect so much out of her, and while they tell her that it's because they know she's destined for greatness, sometimes she gets nervous that maybe they tell everyone at the school that. When she tries to voice these worries to Finn, he tells her that she's being crazy; since when has Rachel ever been unsure of her talent? She tries to tell him that it's not that she's unsure about her talent – she knows she has a gift. It's more so that she's nervous because everyone at NYADA has a gift; what makes hers so different than everyone else's?

She only voices these concerns to him late at night, in the safety of their bedroom. If Kurt heard her talking like this, he'd just dismiss her concerns and talk about something else completely. But Finn doesn't do that – even if he says she's being crazy at first, he'll always talk her through her anxiousness until she feels calm enough to get some sleep.

Curling up next to him, she wraps one of her legs around his and he lays his arm over her waist. She always loves when they lay so close like this - it makes her feel very safe and very whole.

He reaches with his hand to tuck some of her hair behind her ear. She sighs. "I know I shouldn't be feeling this nervous and that I should just take what my teachers are saying at face value. But it's so stressful knowing that everyone at this school is quite honestly…" she trails off and Finn doesn't say anything, just waits for her to find her voice again. "They're just as good as me," she finishes quietly, and she looks into his eyes.

The lights are off in their room, but she can still make out his face, and she wraps an arm around his neck, pulling herself closer to him. She can feel his breath on her face now, and when he talks, she can feel his lips moving against her cheek.

"So what?" Finn says softly. "Maybe they can sing the same notes that you do; maybe they can sing the same songs that you do. Probably a lot of people can. But they can't sing with the same – the same intensity you do, Rach. You know? And your teachers wouldn't lie to you – if they didn't think you were going to make something of yourself, why would be they giving you extra vocal lessons?"

"I suppose you're right," Rachel says, and she sighs again. "I know I'm supposed to be confident all of the time, but-."

"But sometimes even you need a little reassurance. And that's what I'm here for," Finn says. "Just like you reassured me that forgetting my lines during the Saturday matinee wasn't the worst way I could've fucked up my performance."

Rachel kisses him. "I think hardly anyone noticed," she blatantly lies, and Finn laughs. He rolls onto his back, pulling her on top of him and nipping at her bottom lip with his teeth.

"I think everyone noticed, but that's not the point. The point is that after that show I felt like shit and I needed my pretty wife to tell me that one performance wasn't going to end my career before it even began." He cups her face in his hands, looks at her seriously. "So now I'm reassuring you. You know you're going to make it in New York. Don't let anyone make you think differently."

She blushes and is glad that it's dark in the room so he can't see. "You have to tell me that," she says modestly, and he shakes his head.

"No, I don't. I tell you because it's the truth."

He runs his hands up and down her back, before slipping his hands underneath her night shirt. She smiles as he inches his fingers up, up, and up. She can feel him starting to fiddle with her bra clasp, and she giggles when he frowns after a couple seconds.

"Why do you always wear bras to bed that need like, five hands to get them undone?" he mumbles, his forehead furrowing as he concentrates on the task at hand.

"I like to make you work for it sometimes," Rachel says lightly, and Finn laughs. After another minute, he finally gets the clasp undone; immediately afterwards, he pulls at her shirt. He takes it off quickly, and he pushes the bra straps off from her arms, throwing the clothes towards the end of the bed. She leans towards him, kissing him gently as he holds onto her tightly.

"I love you, so much," she whispers, and he smiles at her, as he slowly edges her shorts off from her hips.

"You know I love you, too."

-x-

Rachel's first semester at NYADA officially ends on December 19th, but she has to stay in New York until the 21st because Finn's not done with his finals until the latter date. Kurt decides to stay in New York until the 21st as well, because he doesn't see the need to fly back to Ohio all by himself; and besides, he wants to make sure that they leave the apartment absolutely spotless so that when they return in a few weeks there will be no weird odors coming from anywhere.

He doesn't say it directly, but Rachel knows that Kurt's thinking about Dash whenever he makes comments about cleanliness now. Rachel still can't possibly imagine just how disgusting that dorm room must have been to freak Kurt out so thoroughly, but a tiny, tiny part of her is forever indebted to Dash because now Kurt is just as obsessed with cleanliness as Rachel is, which means that their apartment is always looking perfect.

It's not that Finn is messy – it's just that besides his slight obsessiveness about not having dirty laundry lying all around around, he's not really concerned with things like dusting, or vacuuming, or organizing. But that's fine because he kills spiders, fixes sinks, and is always willing to cook breakfast on the weekends for everyone. It works out nicely.

Rachel and Kurt are sleepily lying on the couch early on the morning of the 21st. Their flight leaves at nine but Finn insisted that they make one last meal in their apartment before leaving for Lima, so he's making them waffles. Rachel's certainly excited about the waffles, but she's even more excited about the coffee that she can smell brewing.

She rolls over to face Kurt. He blinks a couple times, wipes his hands across his eyes tiredly.

"These better be the best damn waffles I've ever had in my life," he tells Rachel under his breath. "Honestly, I'm going to see Blaine and he's going to run the other way screaming because the bags under my eyes will be so large."

Rachel giggles, reaches out a fingertip and pokes a little at the bags. Kurt swats her hand away.

"They're not that big," Rachel says kindly. "Not compared to when we pulled those all nighters last week."

Kurt groans dramatically. "I feel like I'm still recovering from those. I'm not sure whose brilliant idea it was to schedule back to back to back finals, but if NYADA pulls that crap again, I'm going to the Dean. There are only twenty freshmen and we're all in the same classes – they could've broken up the finals schedule a little bit more nicely, if you ask me."

Rachel nods in agreement, and she sighs. "At least it's done, right? We've survived our first semester of college," she says, almost wistfully. It went by so fast; she can't believe that it's actually over.

"And we even made the Dean's list," Kurt says, grinning, "and we're finally friends with people who don't promote Snix Juice or stealing other people's babies!"

Rachel laughs but still hits Kurt lightly on the arm. "Stop," she says, "we love Santana and Quinn." Kurt snorts in a very unladylike manner.

"Speak for yourself. I can handle Santana but Quinn is still on thin ice with me. I don't care how many status updates she writes about how fantastic life is at Yale – the girl is a Looney Tune."

Rachel looks at him admonishingly, and Kurt just stares back at her innocently, shrugging his shoulders. She's about to retort but Finn comes in with a huge plate of waffles, setting the plate on the couch, right in the middle of her and Kurt.

"I think these may be the best waffles ever," he says, sounding serious. "I added some vanilla in there and they just – well. You'll see. They basically kick last week's batch's ass."

Rachel pulls a waffle off from the plate, and nibbles at it. She smiles at Finn.

"Very delicious, honey," she says, and she tilts her head towards him. He grins and bridges the distance, kissing her quickly before heading back into the kitchen. Rachel holds out the waffle for Kurt, and he takes a bite. He looks surprised.

"Those are good."

"I know, right? He's gotten so much better." Rachel sighs happily. "Today's our five month anniversary, you know." She holds her left hand out in front of her, staring at her wedding rings. She bites her lip to stop the smile that's threatening to completely overtake her face.

Kurt can only handle her gushing about his brother to a certain extent.

But Kurt smiles back at her. "You know, I thought you two were absolutely nuts when you got engaged."

Rachel frowns.

"I remember."

"And then when you actually got married, I truly thought you both had lost your minds." He doesn't say anything for a second, then, "I still think you may have lost your minds, but to be honest? I can't imagine you two not being married now."

Rachel raises her eyebrows, and takes another bite out of the waffle.

"I still think you should've waited. I do. If you had waited until you graduated, you wouldn't have to worry so much about money, you wouldn't be so stressed out about balancing school and your relationship…" Kurt trails off, and he shrugs his shoulders almost in a mollifying manner. "But after living with you guys now, I can almost understand why you thought getting married was the best decision for the two of you."

Rachel nods, and she can feel the tears starting to slide slowly down her cheeks. "He's my guy," she says, and she's smiling through her tears. "I just couldn't see any point in waiting, in holding off the inevitable."

Kurt nods and he looks at her. "I understand," he says, and for the first time ever, in any discussion that Rachel has ever had with him about Finn – he doesn't put an 'almost' before the 'understand'.

Finn walks back into the living room, and he looks at Rachel, confused.

"Why are you crying?" he asks nervously. "I thought the waffles were pretty good."

Rachel laughs, and she shakes her head. "No, they were perfect, Finn. I'm just emotional, you know."

Finn takes her answer at face value, even though he knows that there's more to the story than that. He looks over to the bedroom and then back at her, wiggling his eyebrows and she giggles, wiping her hand across her face. She glances at the clock on the wall quickly; six thirty.

"We'll be right back," Rachel says hastily, following Finn down the hallway to their room. "Don't eat all the waffles!"

"Heathens!" Kurt shouts after them, as Finn slams the door shut. Rachel lets out a yelp of surprise as he picks her up and tosses her lightly on the bed. He climbs on the bed after her and presses kisses against her neck, cheeks, nose, lips.

"So did you really like the waffles?" Finn asks as he pulls his shirt off over his head. Rachel nods.

"Oh, yes," she says, curling her arms around his neck. "They were perfect."

And so Finn and Rachel start winter break by having sex in their bedroom that's painted Marigold Yellow (with Ocean Blue trim) and yes, maybe their first semester at college wasn't exactly how they'd imagined it be – but honestly? It was certainly better than Rachel ever thought it'd be.

For the girl who started high school with big goals and no friends, starting college with those same goals plus a husband and a best friend is an immeasurable improvement.

-x-

A/N2: I never specified what college Finn goes to because I'm honestly not that familiar with NYC. By the time I post the next part, hopefully I'll have made a definitive decision as to where he goes. Thanks again for reading!