Welcome to the epilogue, I want to thank you all so much for your support of this story, as always it's been a blast and a half writing this.
The apartment is a cracker box, much smaller than Rachel's that's for sure, but it's his, and he can always get a bigger one later if they decide to keep him around on All My Children. And it's not so bad really, not once Rachel spruces it up with a few sophisticated touches, a framed vintage movie poster here, designer curtains there, a billion thread count sheets, aromatherapy candles in what Rachel says is the manliest scent there is, and of course more than one picture of him and Rachel together. Kurt warns him that she's marked her territory, the truth is he doesn't mind. Things are getting beyond serious between them and it's only a matter of time before his home is their home, just another reason to hope the soap gig pans out and he can get a bigger place. Being on the show feels a little cheesy to be honest, compared to Shakespeare anyway, and he can't imagine anyone really buys him as a top neurosurgeon, but it's fun, and it's nice to not have to wear tights for once.
He could tell that Rachel was nervous at first, with all of the pretty girls he would be working with, she didn't say anything about it because she knows he hates that, but he could tell. It wasn't until one of the hot extras blatantly hit on him in front of her when she visited him on set and her attempts at seduction went right over his head the way they always do (because he really is incredibly dense sometimes) that her mind was put at ease and life went on. In spite of Rachel's insecurities, which he knows deep down will always be there in some capacity, no matter how beautiful and amazing he says she is, they're happy.
The truth is he doesn't have to work so hard at his career, if he wanted to then he could let Rachel take care of them both at this point. After being hired for Seth McFarlane's newest show as a regular and snagging a role in the latest Pixar film, her career is nothing short of on fire, being famous for her voice is something she's always dreamed of, now it's actually real. It's a mixed bag to be honest, for Rachel it is anyway, because the more celebrated her voiceover work becomes the more public appearances she's expected to make, and she can only blow off so many TV interviews and cast photoshoots. For the most part Finn doesn't push her, he wants her to feel confident enough to show herself to the world, open herself up to it the way she opened up to him, but he wants her to get there on her own terms.
She's coming over again tonight, since Kurt and Blaine started seeing each other exclusively she's over more and more, and he can't help but think she seems withdrawn for some reason, distant.
"What's the matter Rach?" Finn says, reaching over his plate of eggplant parmesan to take Rachel's small hand in his.
"Oh, it's nothing," she says unconvincingly, shaking her head and forcing a weak smile.
"Rachel, we've been together almost a year, don't you think I know you at least a little by now?"
"It has almost been a year hasn't it?" she says, a beaming smile on her face, he knows she's just trying to change the subject, still that smile gets him every time. "What do you think we should do for our anniversary? I'm thinking Sardi's-
"Rachel," he says, gently cutting her off, squeezing her hand a little. "What's wrong? Tell me."
She lets out a low exhale and shakes her head a little, and she finally looks him in the eye. "Finn, how do you think my fans would really react to me, you know, if they saw me for the first time? I need you to be very honest with me."
He swallows hard, she's never asked him before, but he's been waiting for it to come up.
"You're not what they're going to expect," he admits. "I'm not going to lie about that."
She simply nods, understanding.
"But so what?" he continues. "Everybody loves you Rachel, they love your voice and your spirit and everything that makes you you that's not going to change just because you look different than what they may have imagined. I know from personal experience."
"So you're saying you'd still love me if my entire body was covered in razor sharp scales?" she teases.
"I'd have to wear protective clothing when we cuddle but, yes," he answers without missing a beat. "What about me? Would you still love me if I gained like 800 pounds and couldn't leave my bed?"
"I'd sponge bathe you myself," she jokes, and he laughs and leans over the table to kiss her. "So, what brought this on anyway?"
She takes another deep breath and opens her mouth to speak. "I got a call today, from my manager... Finn I...
"What? What's wrong babe?"
"Nothing's wrong, everything is right," she says, a smile reaching her lips. "I got nominated for a daytime Emmy Finn."
His heart seizes a little and he can't control the smile that reaches his face, because he doesn't think he's ever been prouder of her, or anyone for that matter.
"Oh my god!" he exclaims, scrambling up from his chair and sweeping his tiny girlfriend up into his arms, twirling her around and making her laugh uncontrollably.
"That's so awesome Rachel, I'm so proud of you," he laughs, squeezing her tight once more and kissing her full on the mouth before setting her back down. "You're going to win I know it."
"That's the thing," she says, deflating once again. "It's always been my dream to get up on that stage in a beautiful dress and accept my award, of course I've always pictured a Tony, but still, this is big Finn."
"It's huge," he agrees. "It's great."
"I've arrived Finn," she continues, and he can see the tears beading in her eyes. "If I win this, I can't let someone accept my award on my behalf, I want that moment more than I've ever wanted anything."
"Then take it Rach," he replies. "What's stopping you?" and he sees the conflicted look on her face and it finally dawns on him. "Oh, oh Rach it's okay. It's going to be okay."
"Do you know that all of the magazines refer to me as 'reclusive actress Rachel Berry'?"
"Well I know that when Imaginationville had that panel at Comic Con this year you sat in the audience dressed as the tiniest, cutest storm trooper I've ever seen," he teases affectionately.
She smiles a little at that.
"Rachel," he sighs, and he takes her into his arms, stroking her hair. "You know I love you, and I don't want to lie to you. You have to stop this, you have to stop hiding baby. You've come so far and you need to show them how amazing you are, really show them."
"That's the thing," she says. "I don't want to hide. I don't want to be 'reclusive actress Rachel Berry' anymore. I want to be 'Emmy award winning actress Rachel Berry.' When I win, I want my moment."
"So you're going to go?"
"Only if you'll be my arm candy for the night," she says hesitantly. And he kisses her with every ounce of love in his heart, so proud that he can hardly contain it.
"I'd be honored," he says. "But wait, what if you lose?"
"Oh Finn be serious," she says, rolling her eyes.
"That's my girl," he says, smiling warmly, and combing her hair behind her ears. And he kisses her again. "Rachel, I know you get really annoyed when I waste food but as delicious as this eggplant parm is, I really don't see myself finishing it."
"And why is that?" she says, crossing her arms over her chest in faux-irritation.
"Oh I think you know why," he says devilishly, sweeping her up bridal style and carrying her to his room as she giggles madly all the way.
She wins the daytime Emmy, and accepts it with grace, poise and humility. It's considered one of the most triumphant moments in television history. Everyone loves her. But not as much as he does, because that's just not possible.
That's all folks!