The Twenty Year Reunion
Pairings: You'll have to see.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee. If I did, the Club would never graduate and Noah Puckerman would forever be doomed to repeat European history because I'm going to miss him when he leaves. ALSO, I DO NOT own Billy Joel's "Lullaby", copyright goes to its rightful owners.
You've probably heard that high school is like a fish bowl; in a lot of ways, this is true enough. Secondary school is bigger than its elementary predecessor, but unless you've cleared halfway across the country or changed districts, you will still know people when you walk through the doors of the high school. You will meet more as time goes on. You will get lost and feel confused, but you will get the hang of things, and soon you will be a sophomore, then a junior, then finally, a senior who is both itching to get out of the high school's confines and dreading having to leave such a safe, guaranteed place where the future is tomorrow, such a distant point that you don't have to worry over. And when you leave for good, maybe look back once over your shoulder just to make sure things are still the same, and your world has not rotated on its axis, that's when you go out into the future and try to make yourself someone.
But when you have to come back to the high school (for reunions, maybe a meeting about yourchild with the very same principal who disciplined you for setting off a stink bomb in the Glee Club's hallway), you walk in again and you realize just how small it is. It's like an old sweater that doesn't fit anymore, and you start to wonder if nostalgia is messing with your head. Maybe it never really fit properly in the first place.
In any case, you have to go on and cast the sweater aside. Maybe you can wear it once-in-awhile because it's not so constricting to the point of suffocating you, but you can't start parading around in your high school sweater like it's a retro fashion statement. Once high school (and that sweater) doesn't fit you anymore, it just doesn't, and no amount of wiggle room or weight loss will change that.
That's how the original members of the New Directions Glee Club feel when they walk in, on the night of their 20-year reunion. Almost all of them had found some way to abandon Lima, Ohio, and most don't make it a priority to come back, unless someone they care for is on the verge of dying or having a mental collapse, or something awful like that. But each of them has a different emotion when they push through the high school's double front doors and walk down the Pledge-scented hallway, towards the gym.
Finn Hudson, formerly the Glee Club's original lead male vocalist (and still currently in possession of his Gigantor height, at least that hasn't changed with age), feels a little sick as he walks through the doors. The school is like this place, suspended in time. It still smells the same and looks the same- hell, there's still a water stain on the ceiling from when he and Puck initiated an indoor Super-Soaker fight on the last day of freshman year- but it feels different. He hasn't walked these hallways in 20 years, and at 38, he's beginning to feel the pressure of life slipping between his fingers.
You'd think he would be enjoying it, the lifething. Especially when he has a family (ranging in age from the angsty "Why Don't You Understand Me?" fourteen to the heart-wrenchingly curious, "Daddy, where's Heaven ?" four, and oh yes, he has a three-year-old. A silent, petrified three-year-old) to come home to.
Finn's dreams of becoming an actor had been granted, just not in the way he'd hoped. At least he was working steadily, and had been since he dropped out of The Actor's Studio to instead become the male lead of a critically-acclaimed soap opera, Freedom Harbour.
When he auditioned, the director had commented that he was "perfect for the part!" before hiring him on the spot, but really, Finn felt he hadn't had to strain himself too much to act as Brody Thurlman, the stunning yet goofy cop who discovers the body of a beautiful Russian heiress, the victim of a homicide, on Freedom Harbour's main road. The story-arc involving Brody's investigation into Kaleena's (that was the heiress's name) murder was a drawn-out plot that had expanded over two seasons. While married to his wife, High School Had-It-All, Alice Moyer, Brody began seeing Kaleena's ghost, eventually falling in love with the deceased woman's spirit.
Finn remembers it particularly well because the day before he was scheduled to have his first-ever kiss with Kaleena's ghost (Kaleena, by the way, was played by a Czechoslovakian actress, Teresa. Tere for short), his fiancé, a Broadway newcomer who was making a huge splash with her portrayal as the lead in a brand-new musical about Jewish girls, dumped him flat on his ass.
"This just isn't working." Rachel had told him one night, over crappy take-out pasta. "I love you, Finn, and I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, but we really have no time for each other with our respective careers, and I think it's time we part ways."
Rachel's reasoning- the lack of time they spent together- might have been a valid one, if she wasn't Rachel Berry. Finn had been in love with the girl since high school, and he knew that when she was committed to something, she really sank her teeth in for the long haul. Immediately, Finn thought that it was because they hadn't gotten married yet, but Rachel was quick to shoot that theory down. She did not want to marry him in a tacky shotgun wedding in Vegas, she did not want to take the time to plan out the perfect Big Day in a year. She did not want to marry him. Period.
Heartbroken, Finn had perhaps done his kissing scene with Kaleena/Teresa a little too enthusiastically, but it was clear that his co-star was thrilled with the emotion he put into it. Soon, the director would be yelling at him to be "more heated! Like when you kissed her!" during their love scenes, and Teresa would always be perfectly suited, her air always reflecting the intensity of his actions.
When she kissed him offstage one day, and then asked him out to dinner (Teresa, bold, perfectly-proportionate Teresa who was incredibly beautiful but had no defining features, like a big nose or big lips), Finn realized that maybe it was time to move on. The tabloids stopped pitying him as a heartbroken fool and started rejoicing him as a man in love again. Before the end of that year, at 23, he and Tere were married in Mexico at a destination wedding. He'd invited Rachel, his inner teenager hoping that she would turn on the theatrics and burst in and stop the ceremony, but she never responded either way.
And why should she? A week after columnists were able to deign Finn and Tere as an official "thing", Rachel stepped out with a new- well, old, but new to the media- beau, one Jesse St. James, who was the lead in another musical. Rachel was with Jesse, a man who'd broken her heart in high school but shared the exact same competitive drive and love for show tunes as she did. They got married too. Finn was invited to the wedding- as were the rest of the Glee Clubbers. And Artie Abrams, who'd become a famous director, had been commissioned to immortalize the over-the-top event as a TV special- but couldn't bring himself to show up.
Finn shakes himself out of the memories. He still imagines what their- Rachel and Jesse's- home life is like sometimes. He bets they live in a huge house on a hill, and Barbara Streisand plays 24/7, but they never get complaints from neighbours because they choose to live in perfect, harmonic, seclusion to focus on the bettering of themselves.
Anyway, it doesn't matter. He really was happy with Tere for awhile there, convinced that she was The One while Rachel Berry was The One That Got Away. He chooses to believe they were in love, even though he knows deep down inside that the only reason he has seven -wait, only six- kids is because every time he and Tere fought about how he was still and always would be in love with his ex, they had angry, unprotected sex.
First there was Tyler, born eleven months after their wedding ceremony. Christened Tyler Matthew Hudson, he favoured his father; he was a bigger baby at 9 pounds, 11 inches, with pale skin, a thatch of dark brown hair, and cloudy blue eyes that would turn to his father's light brown. Raising Tyler had been the first truly selfless experience of Finn's life- he'd been the one to stumble out of bed in the middle of the night and feed or change his firstborn, and he always sang him back to sleep. Not because Tere was selfish or lazy, but because she was a heavy sleeper, and not even their home alarm going off would wake her up.
Finn can still recall the first time he took Tyler out on a bike, and the first time he let him have a sip of Pepsi, at three-years-old, when Tere wasn't looking. He loves his boy so much, but these days, its impossible to get past the toxic yellow "KEEP OUT" sign on his son's constantly-slamming bedroom door.
Six months after Tyler's birth, after spending an hour banging on a hotel room door, begging for Teresa to come out and no, he didn't love Rachel anymore, he'd been changing Tyler's onesie when the re-run of her wedding special had aired on TLC- they conceived their second child.
Born fifteen months after his brother, Miles Henry Hudson was easier to manage from the start. He was even bigger and even taller than Tyler, but he didn't cry as much. The only time he really demanded attention was when he was hungry, and he suckled milk from his bottle the way a pig devoured slop. Finn had always reflected, while watching Tere feed Miles, that Rachel probably wouldn't have stood for him growing up on bottled formula, she would have been adamant about providing his nutrients from her own body, because it would make him smarter, or more gifted, or something. Then, Finn would have to shake himself, because paternal observation or not, he'd just been contemplating the usefulness of his ex's breasts. Tere would have divorced him on the spot, had she been a mind-reader.
Flash forward to today, and his once always-hungry second child, at thirteen, is struggling in school. He'd been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of seven, bullied regularly by other kids, and the tormenting had gotten so bad that he refused to eat, until Finn, desperate, found a school for the "specially-abled", the learning environment was one that was conducive to Miles's educational experience. The bullying is still there, though.
Miles is careful when he talked to his father, and he won't utter a word to his mother. He still looks at the both of them with blame in his light brown eyes.
In retrospect, Finn wishes that Tere had divorced him when Miles was a baby. Maybe he would have been saved the world of pain that has befallen him- but also, he would have missed out on all of the joy, and there's no way he can will that away.
Two children and a thriving career was not enough to make their marriage an entirely harmonious one, though thanks to the addition of the boys, Tere always ranted and raved at Finn outside of the home.
That was how their third child had been conceived. Two years after Miles, on a pair of freshly-laundered sheets at a Bed-N-Breakfast, on their wedding anniversary, which had quickly turned sour. He still isn't sure how that round started. Sometime after their steak and eggs breakfast arrived, probably over some innocuous comment he made that set his wife off. But it had started. And the finished product was another boy.
Teresa was screaming that he didn't love her enough- "enough" being as much as, if not more than, he had loved Rachel- and he was trying to calm her down and they found themselves falling onto the bed, their steak and eggs forgotten. Nine months later, out popped Kendrick James Hudson. He was smaller than his brothers, with a darker complexion and darker hair. He was an incredibly jovial baby, the light of Finn's life, but if you were to look at Kendrick now, you'd find no trace of the boy he'd been up until a few years ago. He is quiet, and smiles are something to be earned from him. He spends most of his time zooming around on a skateboard, refusing to have a heart-to-heart with either of his parents about… well, anything. His grades are excellent, the best in the family, but he's excited when he comes home with the highest-graded test in his class. The night he was to receive a special science award, he only informed Finn about it the hour before, and Tere not at all.
It had been a struggle, getting into a suit and tie, trying to cajole his sons into doing the same. In the end, they showed up to the VIP formal event in suit jackets, ironed jeans, and t-shirts (a vintage band t-shirt, in Tyler's case). Teresa was on his ass the next day when she found out she hadn't been invited or even notified.
Finn passes by the McKinley High sport's display case, unable to shake the sense that this whole school, a wet wool coat, is going to fold in on him and smother him. The picture of his team, senior year, back when he played football, is still in that case, looking faded and sad next to the newer pictorials.
He is overcome with the urge to smash that case. Just beat it with his fists until the glass smashes, the way his own life had been broken, and his fists and knuckles are bloody from the effort. He sees the floor stained with shards that he has not touched, just imagining, and it makes him dizzy. He gulps down a breath of air and forces himself along on the trek to the gym, wading deeper into his own pool of memories.
If he had stayed with Rachel, Finn knows, he wouldn't be this hollow, pitiable shell of a man. He'd be able to commune with Tyler- who wouldn't, he was also certain, be this damn angsty if Rachel was his mom- and he'd be able to help Miles, who is still teased sometimes for being different, taunted with the meanest words Finn's ever heard kids say. It's not Miles's fault tragedy has struck his family, but Finn has no doubt that the kids at school avoid him and steal his lunch and call him The Retarded Grim Reaper (their nicest term of "endearment") because they believe he is bad luck.
Then there's Kendrick, still trying to process everything in his own, sullen way, carrying his grief around like a semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. If Rachel was the boy's mother, Finn is certain she'd help him, because every fucking grief counsellor and family therapist he'd dialled -and he'd practically expended the New York phone book, looking for specialists who could get through to his boys- had been unable to get Kendrick well again.
Even ten-year-old Burtram ("Burt", named after Finn's stepfather) Evan Hudson (conceived, Finn ashamedly remembers, in his maternal grandmother's laundry room after a fight. Tere had nearly clawed off one of his eyebrows with her nail inserts) has shown signs of withdrawal from his parents. His first four range from hating his existence to being falsely indifferent to it. He knows (hopes) Tyler and Miles don't really hate him, they're still reeling because of what happened. Kendrick doesn't smile anymore because he has no reason to, and Burt isn't sure what's going on, really, but he's smart enough to understand that his life has been irrevocably altered and he should be wary of it changing for the worst again.
None of them speak to their mother. Not even four-year-old Cody Chase Hudson, who will hide in the cupboard under their back staircase, just like Harry Potter (Kendrick read him the first book and now he wishes he could be a wizard so that he could go back in time and save his family, but he's only ever been honest with Finn about that. When he said it, it nearly broke his father's beaten heart) when Tere so much as demands to speak to him on the phone.
He doesn't remember much about that day, the shrinks all agree that he's blocked it out, but he remembers that he doesn't trust his mom. Doesn't want to speak to her or be with her, but sometimes, he wonders about her in the idle way that six-year-olds wonder about things. Cody looks exactly like Finn did at his age, he is his mom's favourite, but still, he declines every invitation of contact with her. Partly because his brothers do, too, but partly because his magic won't work if he agrees to accept the world as it is. He can't make time turn backwards, he reasons, if everything is okay.
But Finn knows that it's not okay. Last on his list of viable sperm donations, there is three-year-old William Noah Puckerman. He doesn't talk anymore, even though he knows how, but most importantly, he'd once been a twin.
Finn remembers it like it was yesterday, the birth of the twins. They'd had to do a caesarean section on his wife because her tiny body just couldn't handle the delivery of two humans into the world. Finn was right alongside the doctor when they split Teresa, blissfully silent, open, and pulled out the first child. William was the first one, and he was prettier than his brothers before him. His eyes were (are still) lovely, long-lashed and dark, his nose pert, and his lips looked like they'd been fashioned from the most delicate of rose petals. Just like his mom. When he was cutting Will's cord, Finn traitorously wondered if- if!- he had any children with Rachel Berry, would a boy look good with any of her features?
Finn had been expecting two boys, as that was all he'd ever had in the past. But when the doctor handed him a baby girl, he was stunned for a minute. She was just as beautiful as her brother, but seemed extra-miraculous, even as she screeched and cried, because she was the first girl he'd ever had. His heart immediately bonded with all of his children, even before he saw them, but the girl, she would be special. She would be different, because he'd have to buy her a pink bike and learn how to braid her hair (Teresa didn't do her own hair, she had stylists do it for her, and she'd once admitted that she only remembered how to do a simple ponytail, maybe some pigtails) and buy a fake shot gun and deer head to hang on his wall, just to scare her future suitors. He'd have to get better at dancing because one day she'd get married, and she'd probably hate it if her dad moved with all the grace of a horror movie character at her wedding…
He looked down, cataloguing each of her features the same way he had with William. He was pleased to see she had her father's skin tone and height and she'd later have his hair and eyes, but the rest of her was directly from Teresa's line. She was so tiny, so beautiful, and Finn was instantly bewitched with less than a smile from her.
They named her Abigail ("Abby") Carol Grace Hudson. Finn thought this was especially appropriate, because the baby book told him that Abigail meant "Father in rejoicing."
He was the first to call her Abby. He carried her around everywhere and sang to her and promised that he'd love her no matter what.
He didn't realize "no matter what" could be synonymous with "even if you're dead."
Finn wasn't even in the same State when it happened, and he doesn't think he'll ever forgive himself for not being there when he promised to protect her, for notcalling to remind Teresa to keep an eye on their kids. It doesn't matter that she's their mother and she should have known this just as well as he did (still does), he should have done something.
Back when they used to be married and together for the sake of appearances and their ever-expanding family, they had a pool. It was one of Teresa's suggestions (i.e., "I won't move into a house if it doesn't have a pool!") because she had grown up without one, but always loved to swim. Now that she had the money, she could install a saltwater pool in her own home and never have to visit a urine-infested public pool ever again.
Finn had agreed, though when the kids came along he made sure to have a gate erected around the pool. One with a latch instead of a padlock, because he and Teresa were both liable to lose any and all copies of a key that they made, and Teresa didn't want to have to shimmy over the gate like a common criminal just to go for a dip.
Tyler was thirteen at the time. He'd been inside, on the computer, talking to his crush when it happened. He ran out when he heard his brothers yelling, and he'd been the one to dive into the pool, fully-clothed, to act as a rescue team. Miles, a twelve-year-old with a cast-encased broken leg, had been trying to teach an eager, idolizing three-year-old Cody how to properly throw a football. Kendrick and Burt, at ten and nine, mercifully, was at someone's birthday party when it happened. Finn would always be grateful that they hadn't
Teresa was swimming while the twins played on the grass a good distance away from the pool, when she got the call from her agent, Roland Freeman. For years, he'd been trying to cajole her away from Free Harbour onto something "bigger"- the problem was, the only parts he had to offer were for other soap operas, and Free Harbour was a ratings smash-hit, so leaving it would have been a mistake- and Teresa would have to insist that she was happy where she was.
Still, she climbed out of the pool to take the call, turning her back for just long enough…
Teresa, Miles, and Cody couldn't say what had made Abby get up from the grass. They hadn't seen what happened, engrossed in their game, and Finn isn't sure, even to this day, that he wants to know. But the truth is this: his darling daughter had been playing with her doll when, as two-year-olds do, Will had tried to knock it out of her hands with his Transformers action figure. Instead of letting up a cry like she usually would (Abby was a diva, even at two), she looked over, seeing the sun glinting off the water, making a beautiful, mesmerising, blue pattern for her to stare at.
Abby got up on her two-year-old legs and went for the pool, hesitantly, knowing Mommy wasn't around. William got up and followed; it was only good luck that spared him from sharing his sister's fate.
Kneeling down by the pool, Abby reached a hand in. The water was warm, safe, she was sure, and it looked as pretty as her doll's blue dress… she leaned in too far to peer into the depths, wondering what was at the bottom, splashing head-first into the shallow end and bumping her head on the tile below.
"Abby!" William yelled, "Wait fo' me!"
"NO!" It was Miles who shocked the boy into stillness, having seen his sister go under. "MOM, ABBY FELL IN THE POOL!"
Miles confessed once, in an individual session with his grief counsellor, that he felt guilty for not being able to jump in and save his sister. But with his leg encased in a thick, plaster-and-gauze cast that would have absorbed the water and tightened on his skin until they both drowned, he would have been more of a hindrance than a help.
Teresa turned, her phone dropped from her hand and her eyes went wide. She was immobile as the icy fear crushed her spinal cord and closed her throat. The backdoor sprang open, and Tyler, with superhuman speed, dove into the pool. Cody ran to pull Will away by the hand, before the two-year-old got any ideas about imitation.
When Tyler brought her up to the surface, she was still breathing faintly. EMS were called, Finn (who was in Lima, Ohio, for his mother's birthday ) was alerted. She died before he could even get to the hospital to tell her to live, to tell her goodbye.
The whole family was hysterical when it happened. Except for Will, who got quieter and quieter as the day wore on; he seemed to know, from the moment the ambulance showed up- no, from the moment she fell into the pool and he ran to follow her- that his sister was not coming back home.
William hasn't said a word since that summer day. Not even at Abby's funeral, when they buried her in a white casket adorned by pink ribbons (Abby loved pink ribbons, she always wanted Finn to do her hair with them). He just curled up on Finn's lap and cried, but he never spoke.
He's three at current. Finn doubts that his now-youngest will come out of his silence anytime soon. He just hopes and prays for a miracle.
Without realizing it, Finn's feet have led him into the choir room. He shakes himself out of it, turns to redirect himself to the gym- the reunion's proper place- but then his body rotates around again, and he's staring at the seats, seeing double. They're empty now, claimed by a new group of outcast teens, but the choir room Finn envisions has he and his friends- his family- sitting in those seats. He's sitting with Rachel at the bottom, very centre, with her head resting sweetly on his shoulder as she wordlessly prepares for her next knockout number, solo, duet, or group, depending on Mr. Schuester's assignment. He kisses Rachel's silky dark hair, only to hear gagging coming from two rows behind him. He briefly turns, along with Blaine, who is in the spot directly after him, and finds Santana Lopez, making a gagging motion with her index finger at Finn's barely-there PDA. Britney, Santana's girlfriend, smiles in that clueless way that she probably still does and twines her pinkie with Santana's. The Latina smiles and sits back in her seat a little more fully. Blaine chuckles, turning back around, looking dapper in his bright red shorts and striped t-shirt. He turns to whisper something to Kurt, his boyfriend, Finn's stepbrother, who's dressed without a flaw in Alexander McQueen men's wear. Kurt smiles, nudges Blaine, and his beaming blue eyes focus back, with difficulty, on Mr. Schu's lesson.
Mercedes Jones and Tina Cohen-Chang sit side-by-side behind Rachel. They're not lesbians like Santana and Britney, but they do vie for solos with Rachel (Tina less so, she's always allowed herself to be invisible, fading into the background with only oneoutburst about it, ever, in her entire high school career). Tina, with her quiet Tina flair (she was Goth in sophomore year, but back when they graduated, she appreciated colours and more subtle looks) wears a paisley lace shirt with a black Peter Pan collar and black shorts, while Mercedes, ever the diva, attracts attention in a neon-green top. Finn can count each of the dark grey stripes stretching from her shoulders down the shirt, and the bold, neon pink graphic of puckering lips stamped in the middle makes him smile. Mercedes isn't tearing up the Broadway stage like Rachel, but she's a star in her own right. Next to Tina is Mike Chang, dressed in a casual t-shirt and jeans, the most ferocious of the Glee dancers, Finn always envied Mike for his ability to glide along, performing cool kick-flips and midair twists and such. Last Finn had heard, Mike had been doing alright for himself, consistent physical conditioning and the good love of his wife (Tina, as fate would proclaim it), keeping him spry as a teenager.
Wedged into the very corner of the row, Quinn Fabray, another of Finn's exes, sits in a pretty teal day-dress, cinched by a tight gold belt. She smiles and nods along with what Mr. Schue is saying. Up in the top row sit Noah "Puck" Puckerman and Sam Evans, two of Finn's best friends. Puck, ever the delinquent, is spitting out a piece of gum and sticking it on the bottom of his bleacher, while Sam, a boy with such full lips that he earned the moniker of Trouty Mouth from Santana, keeps sneaking covert looks at Mercedes. They went out all the way back in high school, mostly in junior year, but Mercedes called it quits. Finn can relate to the feeling he can see scrawled all over Sam's youthful face.
"Holla!" his eyes dart down- how could he have forgotten?- find the boy in the wheelchair, and he smiles. Artie has probably become the most successful of them. He was one of Finn's best friends in high school, he wishes they were still close now. Artie's raising a gloved hand into the air, his dark hair a mess and his blue eyes wide behind square-framed glasses.
"I want you to sing with your heart…" Mr. Will Schuester, AKA Mr. Schu, AKA, Finn's second-and-a-half-dad (he didn't want to offend Burt, but Will had basically made sense of everything in Finn's life during high school, helping him through each and every tribulation he faced with a smile), says to the teens. "You got it?"
As the kids nod and smile and ad-lib some form of assent, the not-quite-memory-but-partway-vision ends. Finn smiles sadly.
"I got it, Mr. Schu."
Anyone else might have felt ridiculous or self-conscious, standing in their old choir room with no music or an audience. But when he stands there and lets the words free, air whooshing from his lungs and his chest depressing as he lets the weight out, Finn Hudson can't remember the last time he felt more at home. Well, yes, that's a lie. He was at home every time he was with Rachel, and his heart will always regard the Glee Club as a place of refuge, though it's dissolved.
He sings now because he wants to, has to, needs to get the words out. For everything he lost. For Tyler the hero, who is in a self-imposed prison of guilt that manifested as endless rage. He's still a Superman to Finn, even if he doesn't know it. For Miles, who bravely endures ostracism at school, only to have to sink into the cold, harsh depths of reality when he comes home. For Kendrick, who had loved his baby sister almost as much as Finn did, even putting her hair in ribbons when Dad wasn't around to do it for her. For all of the smiles he has lost with her death, and the rare few he'd exposed since. For Burt, who's just a kid trying to make it through, doing the best damn job he can on such short notice. For Cody, who sits up late into the night, praying to God and wishing on wishing stars that he could develop powers, just like his fictional champion, to turn back time for his family. For Will, who's lost his voice. And for Abby, the star that never got her chance to shine.
Before he begins, he remembers Teresa, too. Her remaining children had cut her off, seeing her as weak and selfish, unable to spring to their baby sister's aid. She'd left her supervision duties to have a familiar argument with a man who called far too much anyway. Finn can't say he's in love with his ex anymore (they fast-tracked their divorce, so now the kids live with him, by their own volition, and Teresa has even had to switch jobs, allowing her ghost character to be "killed off" once and for all so that she can 'take a breather' while Finn still keeps his role as Brody Thurlman), but he appreciates what she has done for him. What she has given him.
When Finn starts singing, he's surprised at the sound he makes. He hasn't tried to sing since Abby's funeral, and even then, he was so choked up that he couldn't go on with the performance. But his brain knows this song, it's engraved deep in his heart. He used to sing it for Abby before she fell asleep. Except this feels more like "goodbye" than "goodnight".
Finn's breath hitches and a wetness stings the back of his eyes, but he forces himself to go on. He has to do this, and he'll be damned if he doesn't make the lead male vocalist he once was proud.
"Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away
Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me
Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullaby
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me
Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabies go on and on...
They never die
That's how you
Finn realizes he's not alone when he notes Mr. Schuester from the corner of one blurry eye; his former Spanish teacher/Glee instructor is standing by the door, a sad, knowing smile on his face. He'd heard the whole thing. Schu's wife, Emma (AKA Ms. Pillsbury AKA Mrs. Schu), is behind him, looking as Bambi-like as ever. She offers him the warmth of an encouraging smile, and that's all he really needs as permission before they step forward and he falls into their arms, crying like a child himself.
He lets Emma shush him and pet down his hair with cool fingers, and he lets Mr. Schu's sweater-vest muffle the sounds of his sobbing.
"I'm sorry," he manages to say. Emma kisses his ear, Will his forehead. It's not even weird to him to have them be so affectionate with him. Emma pulls out a pack of Kleenex from her pocket, wipes his face gently, like a toddler.
"Never apologize for that." Emma murmurs, and Will makes a humming noise of agreement.
After a few more minutes, Finn takes a deep breath, straightens up, and is grateful to see that his high school parents are still bracing him on either side.
"Did you want to go to the gym?" Mr. Schu asks gently.
"Yeah." Finn nods, the warmth of two bodies on either side reassuring him that he can do this, as he exit's the choir room and is led into the gym. There are people there- most beneath his rank, people he didn't even notice in high school, though it wasn't as if he snubbed them because he was a prick- but only one head of thick, glossy brunette hair matters to his swollen, red, waterlogged eyes.
She turns to the side and he sees her face, big schnauz and all. Timidly, Finn Hudson smiles at the love of his life. And she can't help smiling back.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading this entire thing. It's not the best I've ever written, nor is it particularly funny or sad, or anything else. It's just a story. I've been terribly inactive for the last year (probably longer), and I apologize for that, but I'm counting on some free time in the future so that I can work on this and other things. This whole story's concept, by the way, is inspired by the fact that a majority of the Glee Clubbers are graduating and thus, the original Club is no more. Do you think this should be continued, following up with the rest of the original Glee Club's lives? Let me know in a review, but please don't be too critical, this is my first attempt at writing in a long while. I'd appreciate the truth, as respectfully as you can give it -insert smile here-. The song in the chapter, by the way, is "Lullaby" by Billy Joel.