He doesn't really sleep well at night. In fact he doesn't really sleep much at all. And that's a problem because Rachel has a regular schedule and call times and all this stuff that makes her life kind of normal. She's got a routine and here he is coming in and just disrupting it all because he doesn't really sleep much. He doesn't realize this until one night when she comes home from the theatre and can barely keep her eyes open. But it hits him that she hasn't been sleeping much because he doesn't really sleep and he feels like the world's biggest ass for not seeing it sooner. It's just the first few weeks they had so much time to make up for, lost moments, lost days, hell lost years, so he didn't really see it as him keeping her up.

Now he does though and he's not sure how to fix this problem. It's not like he can just will himself to sleep on cue, years on the road playing shows at night have totally screwed up his circadian rhythm, he's proud he knows that's what it's called because it means he actually learned something watching the Discovery Channel all those late nights, his internal clock is all jacked up so going to bed at a reasonable hour is out of the question. Plus it's been so long since he's had a regular bed to sleep in that lying down on the same mattress every night feels weird.

It's not that he misses the road. At least not yet. He knows he's bound to at some point because it was his life for so long that no matter how miserable he got towards the end at some point he knows he's going to miss it. But it's not that he misses the road, it's just it was his life for so long that he never really noticed how much it affected him. How many things about him it changed. How many things it caused that weren't normal for most people. Like not sleeping at night.

He knows there's a lot more they have to figure out. A lot more he has to figure out but right now his number one priority is to figure out how he can stop disrupting her sleeping. So he comes up with this plan they're going to go to bed when he first starts noticing she's tired and once she falls asleep he'll just sneak out of the bed and do his whole not sleeping thing. And that plan works for about two nights until she wakes up and finds him sitting on the couch watching some show about how aliens built the pyramids.

"Have you even been going to sleep?"

As soon as she asks that he knows he's been caught. There's no sense in lying to her because he's always been a crappy liar and it's even worse with her because she's always seen right through him when he's trying to lie. So he tells her the truth. He tells her how he's just not used to sleeping in the same place and how he hasn't slept like a normal person in years. How the last time he slept like a normal person was when they were together before the road engulfed his life. And how he just doesn't want to screw up her life anymore than he feels like he has so he needed to let her sleep.

"You didn't ruin my life. If anything you taught me patience. Come on, we'll figure it out together." There's softness in her eyes as she holds her hand out to him. He knows those words. He's heard them before. And he knows that look. He's seen it before. And he knows that she's not just talking about sleeping. But it's a start.

It seems a little silly at first when they climb into the bed and she curls against him and starts to sing like he's a child that needs a lullaby. But it's soothing. There's a comfort in her voice. It's like having scenery that never changes. Her voice stays the same and that's comforting. So maybe he does need her to sing him her own version of lullabies because before he knows it he's out. And it's the first time in years he's gotten a decent sleep.

00000000

He's got this list of things he needs to do now that he's trying to make a new start for himself. A list of things he needs to figure out because instead of trying to figure anything out he's just spent his time making a list. And he's working on that list when Charlie calls him. The band's got a replacement for him and they're about to start recording again. And is it cool if they use some of the songs they worked on during the last tour.

They want to use some of the songs they wrote while he was still around. They want to use songs he helped write for an album they're recording with his replacement. That sucks and it hits him hard. Real hard.

It would be lying if he tried to tell anyone he didn't question his decision to walk away from the road, from his band, from his life. And okay he didn't exactly walk away. It's not like he was onstage and just stopped playing and decided to come to New York to be with Rachel. He knows exactly when he realized he should but he sat on the decision for a long time. And when he finally did make the decision he gave the guys in the band a notice so to speak. He sat down with them and told them he was done after that tour. And they took it way better than expected. There wasn't any flipping out. There really wasn't even any trying to convince him to stay because it had been obvious for a long time that his heart just wasn't in it anymore and a musician without heart just doesn't make good music. So they parted ways on good terms, they were all still friends and even though he didn't talk to them often he still talked to the other guys. And he had totally convinced himself that he was perfectly happy with his decision even.
Or at least he thought he had.

But now he's like being replaced. And it sucks. It makes him feel like everything he contributed is worthless because he's like replaceable. Realistically he knows that those guys have to go on without him. It's still their life; it's still what they do. But it doesn't mean it doesn't suck for him because he's got no clue what he's going to do now. It's been on his list of things to figure out he just hasn't wanted to get around to it yet because he honestly still doesn't know where to start. And maybe it's because there was a part of him still holding on to the thoughts that if things started to not work out for him he could always just go back to the band and the road and make that his life again.

Now he can't think that anymore. Now he's in New York with no plan. And he's living off of Rachel. Well not really living off of her because he's paying his share and everything but it feels like he's living off her. It feels like it did the first time he came here with her. Like she had it all figured out and he's got nothing. And that totally sucks because he's not eighteen anymore and he walked away from the life he'd made for himself. Even if it wasn't much of a life it was still his and now he just feels like he's got nothing. And he really wishes Rachel was home right now because she's got this way of making him feel better and he just really needs that right now because he can feel the suck setting in.

By the time she gets home the suck has turned into complete self loathing so he's just going to be quiet and listen to her talk about her day. He's kinda hoping she won't ask about his even though she always does. Usually there's not much for him to talk about and they just go back to talking about her day because she can talk. She's never had a problem talking. But tonight he's got something to talk about and it's as if she senses that because she doesn't let him keep the conversation on her day. So all the suck he's feeling, it all comes out in this long ramble that he's not even sure makes sense because right now nothing makes sense.

And he tells her that. That nothing makes sense because he walked away and he was okay with that but now maybe he's not but it doesn't matter. And how he feels like her doesn't have anything but her and there was a time when he was okay with that but he's an adult and he can't just live his life around her. And it's all just a bunch of circles in his head that don't make any sense. He knows she's going to say they'll figure it out together but at this point he's not even sure what they're trying to figure out.

00000

It's been three days since he found out he's being replaced and he needs to get the hell out of this apartment. He needs to find a reason to put on pants and a clean t shirt other than Rachel insisting he wear clean clothes. So he's sitting at the kitchen table looking through the classifieds while Rachel drinks coffee when his phone rings.

It's the owner of a local independent recording studio. The guy's familiar with Finn's band and says he heard through the grapevine that Finn was in town and wants to know if he wants to come over and check out the studio. Maybe even help out with recording a few tracks. Really he doesn't even have to ponder the offer. Of course he does. How soon can he come and how long can he stay. It's not really a job but it's something to get him out of the apartment and it's the first time he's been excited about music in a long time.

Their conversation is brief but he makes plans to come by later in the week. And when he hangs up he sees Rachel eyeing him as she tries to hide her expression behind her coffee cup. It looks like she's smiling but he can't quite tell. No, no she's definitely smiling and he knows that smile. It's one of those Rachel smiles that she gives when she's up to something.

"Did you have something to do with that?" He knows her better than she thinks and he knows by that smile and the way she tries to casually shrug her shoulders that she had everything to do with the phone call he just got. And as excited as he was about it knowing that kind of kills it a little because if anything pans out it's like he's still going to be living off of her.

But he's still going to go. It's a reason to put on a clean shirt.

00000

All the time he spent inside recording studios he never really pictured himself working in one but it turns out to be pretty cool. He starts off just doing some session work but before he knows it he's learning how to engineer and mix tracks. It starts off small a song here and there that may or may not make an album. Then the studio gives him a real break. There's this up and coming singer songwriter who knows the stuff from his band and likes what he's heard and wants Finn to produce his album. Like the whole thing and he wants to write with him too.

And he ends up really liking the kid. Producing his album isn't work, its fun. Its music and something he loves. And the kid he's working with hasn't been jaded by years on the road so he's enthusiastic and excited. And Finn realizes that he's kind of mentoring this kid in a way and it's really cool. And he can see himself doing this on the long term.

Yeah maybe Rachel did make the phone call that got the ball rolling for him. But he's the one who's making something out of it, so he doesn't really feel like he's living off of her anymore. And he's actually really grateful she made that phone call. He's really grateful for her.

0000

Producing his first album ends up bringing in a lot more work and even though it seems like he's always at the studio he's still home every night. Even if it isn't until two or three in the morning sometimes, he's still home every night. And he's got something to add to the conversation now. And someone to listen to his stories again. No not someone. He's got Rachel to listen to his stories. He's got Rachel to come home to and he's making a life. A life he's going to have something to show for and there was a time when he didn't really think that was going to be possible.

Tonight wrapped up pretty early and he's glad because he's exhausted. This new band he's working with are in like a weird place and they're being difficult and it's exhausting to watch them argue over every chord change. It almost makes him glad he left his band before it came to that. And he kinda wonders if that wasn't where it was all heading. But he hears they're doing alright without him and he sorta chuckles to himself as he wonders if maybe one day they'll want him to produce for them.

Even though he's home early tonight he knows Rachel's already left for the theatre so it's a night of cereal and applesauce for him because that's what he eats when Rachel's not around to eat with him. And he knows there will be cereal and applesauce because she always makes sure he has cereal and applesauce. Sure enough he's right there's a box of cereal sitting on the kitchen table with a note attached.

There's a new jar of applesauce in the fridge try not to eat the whole thing tonight. And there's a package for you on the coffee table. See you tonight, love you.

She knows him a little well because he's totally going to eat that entire jar of applesauce. For a second he thinks the package on the coffee table might be an extra jar but when he looks it's not big enough. It doesn't even look like much of a package just kinda plain square brown envelope. He rips it open to find a CD with a post-it note attached. What it is with people and notes today.

Got the first printing in. Thanks for everything. Let's do it again.

This isn't just any CD, this is his work. He feels his face curve into a broad smile as he flips the case over to read "produced by Finn Hudson." He's seen his name on CDs before but there's something different about this one. Before it was about trying to make something of himself. This was about trying to make something. About having a vision for something. He can't really explain what's different but it feels awesome. And he can't wait to see this kid's album on the shelf. He can't wait to watch this kid's album succeed. And he hopes it does.

He hopes it does because his name is on the back. Other artists are going to hear this and see his name and maybe they'll want to record with him too. Maybe his old band really will want to record with him. It would be cool. If this album succeeds it could lead to so many things for him. He could really make a name for himself in business. He could pick and chose who he wants to work with, maybe even start his own label.

His own label. It dawns on him what he's doing there. He's dreaming and he's dreaming big. And it's like breathing fresh air. His eyes land on the box of cereal with a note attached and like in an instant it all makes sense.

It all makes so much sense that he rushes out of the apartment and into a torrential downpour to flag down a cab. He knows they won't let him inside the theatre right now so he texts her to meet him outside the stage door. He doesn't care about the weather. He doesn't care about anything except the fact that it all makes sense.

"Why are you out here in the rain?" She asks as she standing in the doorway.

"It's just a light sprinkle." He says as he laughs off her comment because she's looking at him like he's completely lost his mind and maybe he kinda has. "I got a copy of the album I was working on. That's what was in the package on the table. And when I opened it I started thinking all these things. Things about who I wanted to work with next. And what could happen if this album hits big and I could have my own label."

"So you rushed here in the rain to tell me you want to start a record label? You scared me and that could have waited Finn." Her tone is a little annoyed with him, and he knows that and maybe she's right maybe it could have waited but he doesn't think so because she's not really getting where he's going.

"No you're not getting it. It's not just that I want to start my own record label. It's that I'm dreaming. I never knew how to do that. I spent years on the road going from show to show. From place to place and I had dreams. I thought I had to have it all figured out before I could start having dream and start planning. Even after I got here. Even after I realized that what I wanted had been right in front of me those time I still felt like I needed to have it all figured out. And you kept saying 'well figure it out together' and I don't think I ever really believed that until right now because I'm dreaming. I have dreams now because of you." He takes a breath and steps forward, he doesn't want to get her in trouble for getting all wet so he's not going to get too close but he is going to hold her hand because he just needs to touch her. He needs her to feel what he's feeling. "I'm dreaming because you taught me how. Because you kept saying how we'd figure it out together and now it's like we kinda have because I'm not just dreaming. I'm planning. And I've only ever really planned one other thing in my life." There are tears starting to well up in her eyes, now she's with him. And it's almost like he doesn't have to say anything else because she knows where he's going with it all know.

His hand is shaking as he holds it out to her. Maybe it's cold. Maybe it's nerves. Maybe it's both. But he wants it to stop shaking because there's a ring in his hand. A ring he stole out of her jewelry box. A ring he gave her with a promise when they were teenagers and he's finally ready to make good on that promise.

"So what do you say we try planning that again? And we'll figure it out together?"

She doesn't need to answer because he already knows. This time he knows even if it comes to a point again when he's got nothing figured out he'll always have one thing figured out. And they really will figure it out everything else together.

~Fin