A/N: In the words of Monty Python, "I'm not dead yet." I also have not forgotten about We All Play Our Part. I'm working on that and hope to have an update on there soon. It's just a matter of having time to sit down and write what I have planned out to my own satisfaction. I had much help and encouragement on this one and thank those who know they did it. Hope you enjoy. There will eventually be a second part to this as well; this one was inspired and titled from the song Under Fire by Green River Ordinance.
Disclaimer: Don't own. Don't care. Don't sue.
Singing All Your Lullabies From Memory
So they push their wedding through and he uses some of the money he had been saving up to move to New York (don't act so surprised) for first and last on the world's smallest apartment. He still has some money saved but not enough and Rachel's never had to work. And basically… okay, the thing here is they're "asserting their independence" after her dad was a dick about them getting married. So they're not taking any help and Finn really has no idea what Rachel would do for a job. Plus this part of the school year is busy for her and she barely squeaked her way into NYADA after the whole suspension thing so it's not like she can slack off. She doesn't ever say it and she totally never would, but it's gonna fall on him. Burt refuses to give him more hours, though (he's surprised he still has a job because Burt was totally the bread in the jerk sandwich of their parents, so he's not gonna say too much). So instead he gets a job washing cars at the car dealership that's clear over in Van Wert. It's not a lot of money, but it basically covers their rent. Either they lucked out or Rachel used some real-world knowledge 'cause their rent actually includes utilities so they don't have to worry about that, which he thinks is a good thing. If they had to worry about a power bill on top of food well… they'd burn through his—their—savings before they ever left the city.
Nationals this year are in Los Angeles and it's expensive as fuck and Rachel kind of loses her shit when they sit down and look at actual numbers and realize they can only afford to send one of them. They agree it should be her and tell Mr. Schue that's how it's gonna be and he loses his shit 'cause he's facing a national competition with only one of his co-captains and he goes off on them about how stupid and irresponsible it was for them to get married and how it affects everyone and just ruined a lot. During the argument, Finn quits Glee altogether and Rachel cries and they fight about it more in private afterward. It's like the second time he thinks being married kind of sucks so far in some ways, even if he'd never tell her that. Plus he thinks that most of the time it's okay and they'll be so much better off once they get to New York and their parents and teachers and everyone is just, like, not in their face all the time.
When they had sat down and talked about the whole getting married thing, like the actual conversation no one ever knew about, they thought it would be really nice to have this one, last summer. Something beautiful, something they could remember when they were young and in love and still had all their friends around them. That isn't how it happens, really. Mike and Tina and (shockingly) Santana were pretty nice about them getting married. That's about it, though. Blaine was, like, neutral. That might've been mostly because Kurt didn't want much to do with it and once it was done, he kind of backed way off. In fact, Finn barely graduates after his grades drop off when he gets the second job and Kurt just gives him this look that makes Finn want to cry because Kurt just looks so fucking disappointed in him. Anyway.
They go to New York together, move there, the third week of June instead of after their perfect summer because it's not shaping up that perfect and they just… they have to go. They have a good stretch of luck which means they end up with a pretty decent place (shoebox is generous) to live really close to her school; Finn finds a pretty decent job right off the bat, working at a music store and he'll be able to give drum lessons once people kind of know he's there. After just a few weeks when they realize he's actually pretty good with that stuff and good with people so he managed to sell things, they give him some input into what they order or keep on the floor and they let him practice in his time off. Rachel is working at some Jewish summer school thing and giving voice lessons. She doesn't get paid much, but enough that between their two jobs they can cover rent on their tiny apartment. They might sweat their guts out because there's no air conditioning and they live most of the summer on peanut butter and jelly since there's not actually a kitchen in their apartment, but… whatever. The living practically on top of each other thing really isn't a problem and later he'll swear that was their best summer together ever.
"Finn, quite frankly, Hiram and I are worried," her dad says on the phone one night. Rachel's using one of the practice rooms at school, getting ready for a winter recital, and Finn's not sure why her dad called his phone or, really, how Leroy (who he does still call Mr. Berry) even got the new number. His mom is the only one in Lima who has it. They burned a lot of bridges and even six months later, he hasn't brought himself to care.
"Um… okay. Why is that?"
"We haven't seen a tuition bill for Rachel yet and we know you guys haven't paid it."
So they're more worried about the fact they haven't seen a bill than the fact that they've only talked to their daughter once every other week since the Hudsons moved to the city? Nice. He fights the urge to mention it, fights the urge to point out she still cries about not talking to them more often than she talks to them, and instead just offers up an "Oh."
(Once they were in the city, she found a scholarship for aspiring stage actors from a foundation for some rich person's daughter who'd died of a drug overdose while the daughter was in school at Tisch. What it didn't cover, they co-signed on a student loan to pay for. She swore she didn't want help from her dads. So really, they have paid her tuition.)
"She isn't really taking money from us and she doesn't say much about where you're living or if you have enough to eat."
He looks around the apartment and has to hide his smile. They've pieced together enough furniture that they aren't sleeping on the floor and they can eat at an actual table, even if it's one of those little tiny ones for two people and the chairs don't match. They finally bought a microwave, which she is still a little horrified to admit sits on the bathroom counter with her curling iron on top, but they can have a meal that's, y'know, a temperature. The next thing she wants is a Crock Pot and it's more a matter of buying one than it is anything else. She's been working really hard finishing up her first semester and they haven't had time. He doesn't want her to go alone 'cause he doesn't really want a pink one and she doesn't want him to go alone 'cause she wants a certain one. He doesn't really care about the reasons why in this case, he just wants to get the right one and yeah, it'll happen eventually.
"We're doing fine," he says. He tries not to sound smug about it, but he kind of is a little bit and why not? He's working his ass off and so is she. And they fight half the time about stupid crap (she was really not happy about where the microwave sits or the time he bought Coke instead of tea), but they always make up and he's so happy to see her when she comes home. She tells him she's glad he's there with her, so…
Leroy Berry sighs into the phone and Finn doesn't hear his words then asks him to repeat them. "I just wish we would've listened to your mother, I suppose. She was right about you and right about Rachel."
He can't even keep his eyebrows down and he hears Rachel's keys in the door as he answers. "My mom? What'd she say?"
"She said you guys would go your own way and we would lose you if we didn't try to be supportive. It seems as though that's what's happening."
Rachel's inside and she's mouthing the words 'who's on the phone' to him. He mouths back that it's her dad and her eyes go wide. It's not Friday night, their designated time to talk. (The one she pretends to be working through half the time.) He's not even a little bit irritated when she drops right down in his lap, her messenger bag and keys sliding down to the hardwood floor with a loud thump.
His eyes offer Rachel the phone and she talks things through a little bit more than they have yet with her dad, sitting there in his lap with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. And he calls his mom afterward for the same basic thing. (Without the tears, okay? At least for the most part.)
It takes a lot of negotiation for them to go back to Lima for a week in the summer. They kind of put it off and wait until it's one of the really, really hot weeks at least so they don't have to sweat it out in their apartment. In the end, his mom was crying on the phone about how much she misses him and how she didn't do anything wrong like the other parents and she still doesn't get to talk to him much and… yeah. He lives with Rachel so he handles crying girl okay, but it's his mom and… she's kind of right. She's only ever tried really hard to support him. She did ask him once if he was glad they got married; it was a whole conversation 'cause she asked him that right after a fight about Finn trying to find somewhere to go to school and…yeah. He kind of paused when she asked and it took him a minute to say yes and the conversation took a turn and his mom was actually really supportive. It honestly was just circumstance that meant he didn't talk to her again for like two weeks after that and that's how he ended up making her cry on the phone about not seeing him. And that's how they ended up back in Lima.
It's kind of fucked up that Kurt lives in the same city, actually goes to the same school as Rachel, and they haven't even seen him once. As far as Finn knows, they haven't even talked to him. He knows he hasn't even though there have been a couple times he wanted to text his brother about something at the music store; his finger hovered on send before the text was stored in his drafts (which everyone knows is the black hole where text messages go to die.) He thinks Rachel would've mentioned it if she'd talked to Kurt. Well… maybe. Her hand gets a little tighter around his when they sit through the world's most awkward family dinner after Blaine and Kurt walk in. Blaine's looks are sympathetic and Kurt's looks don't even exist. Whatever. Finn's over it.
(He definitely does not pace for like two hours after the get back home, asking her if he should just try saying something to Kurt; she does not admit she's run into Kurt a few times at school and he was actually kind of bitchy to her. They also don't fight at all about her not telling him and he doesn't end up sleeping on the floor—their couch is a loveseat and not long enough by any means—after their fight. And by they don't, he means they totally did and it was not awesome at all.)
There's a fire in the amplifier room at the music store that causes some problems. Since Finn has worked there for about three years, he's like; the guy in charge when it happens and it's scary. Thing is, they said there was a problem in the cord to one of the amps and the problem in the cord made a problem in the wall and it was a slow burn. By the time the slow burn becomes an actually noticeable fire, it's just… it's bad. Plus the music store is on the bottom of some apartments that have a bunch of smoke damage and really, the whole thing is enough that the music store folds. They have to pay for all the damages, insurance only covers some of it, but Finn has some problems since one of the other employees—a cute girl he started teaching drums to when she was finishing up her senior year right after he started working there—was trapped. He was the one who noticed she didn't evacuate, he was the one who told them about the supply the last place he'd seen her doing inventory (which wasn't the place she actually was) and it took the firefighters a while to find her and it's really hard on him afterward.
He ends up going to talk to one of the firefighters about it; he's in awe of them for saying it really wasn't a big deal, but then they explain why and it makes a weird sort of sense to him. He thanks them for their time and freaks Rachel right the hell out when he comes back with some general catalogues and stuff for CUNY's firefighter program since he won't be going back to the music store.
At the point he's applying for college (and trying to find another job which… well, it's actually not the easiest task and he thinks it sucks he worked as a retail manager for like three years for basically nothing), he remembers how much work school is. He should know considering Rachel is still in school, but he forgets how much of a joke it used to be to figure out what you needed to get what you needed and… he gets enrolled in a spring semester and about five minutes into his first class, Fire Science 101, and decides he wants to go to paramedic school, too. Which yeah, it helps with the B.A. he already declared but it's a lot more work than either of the other things he could've done.
He's pretty sure it annoys Rachel when he lands a job right about the same time he starts school. She wants him to go to school now that there's finally something he wants to do, but their budget over that summer was basically non-existent. She's doing, like, off-Broadway understudying that's basically interning and getting offered workshops in London that he really wants them to send her to but they just can't. So he needs the job he gets at the Adidas store in the theater district, but then his school for the paramedic part is in Brooklyn. After the summer with tiny income, they end up giving up their little apartment near NYADA and settle for one in Brooklyn closer to his schools that get them a "student" discount. It's tiny, but not as tiny as the first one and it actually has a real kitchen and a fridge and stuff but still… it's like a 30-plus minute commute every day for Rachel's school and his work and that's not ideal. It's also only if they take a cab or something. He got an okay raise and their apartment is cheaper so they can spend a little more but… it's stressful. Rachel hates living in Brooklyn and is constantly afraid he'll get sucked into sports or something through his job (honestly, the basketball coach at John Jay tries it's just that Finn is way too busy) and… they almost never see each other and they fight a lot and… yeah. Worst school year ever.
By the time Rachel graduates from NYADA, things are so bad her dads take her home for the summer; she gets a job helping the New Directions—who apparently placed like third or fourth at Nationals so that's really, really good Finn guesses—with summer rehearsals since Mrs. Pillsbury-Schuester is having a kid soon. He didn't know any of that; he hasn't heard much about or talked to Schue at all since before graduation when they yelled at each other and he quit Glee. Rachel's also doing something with the school's fall musical and they are paying her plus it's a directing credit for her resume; he totally hears how bitter she is when they talk on the phone (which isn't that often; he's doing the paramedic part of his degree first and he's fucking busy all the time. He's pretty sure the clinical/intern hours are gonna kill him, especially since he's still working full-time at the store while he goes through. Basically, he gets to sleep like three times a week if he's lucky) because she hasn't gotten to do a lot. He's killing himself to give her every opportunity he can but it's like the fourth time he thinks maybe they shouldn't have gotten married, or maybe they shouldn't stay married, and she hangs up crying when he accidentally says it out loud once.
Her dad calls him one night like, five minutes after he finally got to sleep, to say Jesse St. James has been around a lot because he did the show choir advisor thing and somehow managed to turn it into a whole theater production company and he's offered Rachel a job and isn't that awesome and maybe now Finn can finally let her go 'cause even that in Ohio is better than what he gives her in New York. He's pretty sure she feels him tell her dad to fuck off and never call again, because Rachel doesn't call again after that either. It's almost two weeks before he has the guts to call her and then she just sounds really sad when she says hopefully the break is doing them some good 'cause she doesn't want a divorce ever. He might be crying a little when he agrees and he might not get back to sleep that night no matter how exhausted he is.
He finishes his paramedic and is just going to the one school with like three and a half years left on his stupid degree, back in the theater district, right about the time she comes back to be almost an assistant vocal coach or something at NYADA because she wants to start auditioning "in a more traditional manner." He's gone back to part-time at the shoe store and has a part-time paramedic rotation at Montefiore in the Bronx that he was lucky to get 'cause he's got no real experience yet, but he's still in school full-time and he wonders how much they'll fight. Instead, she just quietly comes back and gets a job at a bookstore that she doesn't totally hate while she starts hitting the pavement for auditions and stuff. What he doesn't necessarily know until way after the fact is she's working and saving money to pay her own dues for Actor's Equity.
She curls up next to him in bed one night after he gets home from the hospital way after she was asleep. After she's molded herself to him (and he's not complaining 'cause he really missed her all summer and he's pretty sure even if he hasn't said the words, she knows by the way he holds her) all sorts of things start pouring out of her mouth, like…
"…Jesse's company is really doing quite well and he did offer me a permanent position there. He said I was proficient at giving others orders and I did give his offer its due but it truly isn't what I want to do. I don't want to stay there with him and I was furious when I discovered my dad called you and said those things; I cut myself off and returned immediately…."
"…I know we've spent the better part of the last year fighting and I'm sorry for my own role because I really love you and I know things will not always be easy and at least there was an actual kitchen in that other apartment and I feel so silly for not understanding sooner…"
"…so worried you're losing something precious by working as a paramedic, Finn. I can hear this heaviness in your voice that hasn't been there since we were speaking constantly about your dad and now that I'm here it's even worse because I can see how tired you are and I'm just afraid your innocence is gone and it's clear proof you need me to mitigate the terrible things you see at work and those things are only going to get worse so I really can't leave you again…"
He basically agrees with her but he's too tired to say that much stuff or that many words. He cuts her off two hours later with a soft kiss, a promise that he's sorry for his part too; he agrees to talk to her about it later like after he finishes enjoying the fact that they're in bed together again after the worst summer he's ever had.
They honestly don't fight at all, like, for a really long time. They have the real, wide-awake conversation about where things were going wrong, one time. Things are great after that, even if they're working their guts out. Rachel's work pays off before his does, and as he's sitting in the fourth row center seat that's been deemed his by the off-Broadway theater company where she's got a major supporting role and he's pretty sure things will only get better. (It's actually her last off-Broadway performance before the show moves to Broadway, opening two weeks before his finishes his Fire and Emergency Services B.A.)
Basically, he's not wrong. They have their whole lives ahead of them and really, they have the only thing behind them that they've ever needed there. (Each other.)