A/N: tumblr prompt for post-finale Finchel angst.
She cries the whole journey through. She doesn't stop crying from the moment he disappears from her sight, sobbing uncontrollably until exhaustion takes over and she falls asleep. She wakes up a few hours later, momentarily disoriented, thinking that she's still in Lima, still in the car on the way to her wedding, still with Finn. It isn't until she catches sight of her pink luggage up in its compartment, and looks outside that she remembers, she's nowhere near Lima, nowhere near him.
It still hasn't hit her yet, her mind can't think straight or really process the words he told her in the car, or the fact that he had put her on a train that is taking her 350 miles away from where he is. She feels the hysteria bubbling up again and she tries to remember the good things, the comforting things, like the warmth of his hand in hers, or the last kiss they shared, and his smile. She remembers his smile, and the way it faltered when they both realized that he could no longer keep up with that train. A foolish part of her had wished that he could have, a foolish part of her wishes that he's beside her right now.
She hadn't known until he had asked her, hadn't understood until his question forced her to be honest with herself. But she wants to marry him, she does. She wants to stay with him forever, she wants him to be part of every memory she will ever make, but she couldn't lie and tell him that the thought of deferring didn't come as easily as she pretended it did. She couldn't lie and tell him the thought of putting their marriage on hold didn't cross her mind. But he'd known anyway. He saw right through her, even when she was still fooling herself. She thinks that maybe she's still in shock, that the entirety of the situation is still lost to her, and she can't feel anything, she feels numb.
She looks out to see the beginnings of the New York skyline in front of her, and the excitement she feels is quickly extinguished by the cold fact that he's not beside her the way he should be. He's supposed to be here, holding her hand. If only things had gone according to plan, he would be. He'd be next to her, asleep, and she'd wake him up, force him to look out the window, and she knows what she will say.
"There it is Finn," she whispers out loud, fingers touching the cool glass of the window. "That's our future."
But he's not. And it's not. It's not their future anymore. Now it's just hers, and she finally understands what he meant by surrendering. This is not his future. It's not theirs. It's hers, and no matter how hard they tried to change that, they couldn't.
Maybe they were never meant to.
Daddy calls the minute she boards off the train, his voice soothing her jumbled nerves as he softly tells her to hail a cab straight to the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts where they are waiting.
"Rachie sweetheart," he breathes out in excitement. "It's majestic."
She can't help smiling at the thought, imagining herself walking down the halls of NYADA, immersing herself with the people who will shine her star to gleaming perfection, grooming her for Broadway and stardom, and she can't wait, as she makes her way out of the station, briskly walking, eyes wild as she looks for a cab. She can't wait until the fall because she wants to start now, now, now.
"Relax Rachel," Finn would say, smiling that smile he always saves just for her. "You've got all the time in the world."
She stops short in the middle of the crowded street, completely ignoring the woman behind her, swearing up a storm, because Finn isn't here. He can't say those words, because he isn't here.
Her fathers are buzzing with excitement behind her, talking over one another as they tell her the schedule for the next two days.
She stands still with her arms to her side, head tilted up to get a good look at where her life will be for the next three years. Daddy was right. It is majestic. It's everything she ever hoped it would be.
But she doesn't know how to feel.
The hysteria bubbles up again, and she can't seem to stop herself this time.
"Sweetie what's wrong?" her dad asks, pulling her away from her thoughts when she looks behind her to notice his worried glance. That's when she realizes that she's shaking. He wraps a long arm around her shoulders as he pulls her trembling body against him, pulling her close and moving his hands up and down her arms like she's just cold, and needs to be warmed up. The tears spring out of the corner of her eyes before she can stop herself, and she looks away from his alarmed expression only to see daddy eyeing them with a panicked look on his face. They must look like quite the sight, standing in the middle of the street, a crying girl with her two gay fathers.
"Finn," she chokes out, and she feels him sighing against her.
"Rachel, I'm sure you can survive without him for a few days-"
"He told me to surrender," she blubbers out, crying harder against her father's coat, because the thought of New York without him, the thought of three years without Finn is killing her. "He said he's setting me free, and I don't understand- I don't-"
She loses it again, and she's crying hard. She's crying so hard because she doesn't want to be set free, not from Finn, never from Finn. He's her soulmate, and why can't she have both? Why can't she have New York and Finn, why won't he justcome with her? He could- he could get a job, and- and take acting classes while she's in NYADA, and she can help him. She can help him with his lines and his acting and his everything. Why can't he see that? The army? He's joining thearmy? What the hell is he thinking right now? Why is he doing this? She can't understand. She can't-
She can't stop crying. Not when dad tries to tell her that it'll be okay, not when daddy tries calm her down, not the whole way back to their hotel. She can't stop crying when she reaches her room, ignoring the glass of water her parents placed next to her bed.
She can't stop crying, because the only thing she wants right now is to be in the sanctuary of his embrace.
She can't sleep. Her parents are leaving her alone, and she's grateful, but it's almost midnight and she can't sleep. She doesn't know how to, without hearing his voice telling her "goodnight", and "I love you," and "I'll see you tomorrow".
She stares up at the ceiling in the darkness, and she's so tired, and her eyes hurt. She's in New York but it all feels so wrong.
She can't sleep.
Her phone lights up in the dark, and her heart leaps into her throat as she reaches for it blindly, closing her eyes tight for a few seconds before she dares herself to look at the screen. She sees his name, and her heart lifts. They're just two simple words. But they're his.
She doesn't answer right away as she sits up, mulling over what to say. She hasn't felt this awkward around him for a long time, but she doesn't really know what to say right now. She decides to go for the jugular, asking the one thing that has been playing in her mind for hours.
(Are you really joining the army? Please be honest with me.)
She waits on pins and needles for his answer, and she wonders if he's already asleep. He can't be, because how can he be sleeping right now? How can he- She jumps for her phone again when it lights up.
(I don't know.)
Her momentary relief at the lack of affirmation gives way to a sinking sense of wariness, because that's not a definite no. She stares hard at those words, willing for them to make things clearer to her, to help her understand where his mind is right now. She comes up blank.
(Do you want to?)
Her thumb poises over the send button, scared of what his answer might be. It's 2.30 in the morning, and all she wants more than anything is to call him up and demand an explanation, but she's too scared of breaking down at the sound of his voice. It takes him longer to reply this time, but she knows he will.
(I need to clear my dad's name.)
She knew it. She knew that it would have something to do with his misplaced sense of loyalty to his father. It's Finn and his foolish hero complex once again. She feels the rush of adrenaline when she stands, her thumb pressing the call button before she could stop herself. It takes one and a half ring for him to answer.
"Rachel," he breathes out, and she'd stop to note the relief in his voice if she isn't so preoccupied.
"Is that why you're giving up your dreams?" she demands.
"You're giving up on acting-"
"Rachel, I didn't get in-"
"And New York, and- and-" And me? Her words hang in the air as she grips her phone tighter, heart trapped in her throat, his heavy breathing loud against her ear.
"You know that's not true," he finally says, his voice the quietest she has ever heard it. "Nothing I'd ever want would ever make me give you up."
"But you just-"
"You don't need a guy who's going nowhere dragging you down-"
"Rachel, listen to me, okay? You know I'm right. I wish I wasn't, but you know I am. I'm not going anywhere, right now," he amends quickly before she could say another word to argue. "You can't- you can't put your life on hold for me Rachel."
His tone is soft, soothing, the way he always sounds when she's worked up and he's trying to calm her down, and it's bordering on ridiculous how it's working right now, when he's trying to get her to let go, and she's trying so hard to hold on.
"It's just a year Finn," she whispers. He doesn't say anything, and she moves from the edge of her bed to her window, pulling against the curtain to peek out into the street. It strikes her again how far away she is from home, when she sees people still bustling around in the dead of the night.
"Did you get to see NYADA?" he asks quietly. She nods.
"Was it everything you ever thought it would be?"
"Yes," she whispers, remembering the awe she felt earlier as she looked up at the building.
"A lot can happen in a year Rachel. You can't throw this chance away, I can't let you. I'd hate myself if I did. Remember how hard you worked for this? Remember how hard it was to get that second chance? You can't throw that all away for me Rachel. I'm not worth it."
"Don't say that! That's not-"
"It's true, okay? This is your dream baby."
"You're my dream too," she argues, her eyes filling up with tears again. He sucks in a breath and she leans her head against the window pane, closing her eyes as she imagines him in his room, lying in his bed. She can imagine his eyes, and the way it's probably closed like hers, his brows furrowed the way they always do when he's upset.
"I can't do this without you Finn. I need you."
He scoffs at that and she frowns.
"Now you know that's not true. You were the girl who won us Sectionals back in sophomore year. You were- you were the who girl single-handedly won us Regionals in junior year. You made Carmen Tibedaux come see you for Nationals-"
"That was Tina-"
"And you blew her away. You made her change her mind so fast, and you got accepted. That was all you. I had nothing to do with any of that. You're Rachel Berry. Don't you know by now that you can do anything?"
She can hear his smile, see those dimples and the way his lips stretch over his teeth, and though his words are beautiful, they can't seem to comfort her.
"I'm not giving you up Finn," she says resolutely. "You can't make me do that."
"I will concede that you are right. That- that we don't have to rush things, or- or get married now. But I'm not giving you up, and you can't make me."
He's quiet again, but she's used to that by now. That's a good thing.
"You don't need me to hold you back-"
"That's never going to happen," she cries. "You'll never let it. You're right, okay? Maybe- maybe I can do this on my own, and maybe I do need to have these experiences alone. And maybe, maybe you'll go to Fort Benning, or maybe you'll go to New York. But you said if we're meant to be together, we'll be together right? Well we are. I know we are, and it doesn't matter if we're hundreds of miles apart, because we're meant for each other. Even- even if we can't be together physically, and- and we'll be on the opposite sides of the world, and I'm busy being a star and you're- you're redeeming your father's name, or becoming a famous actor, we'll still-"
"We'll be on hold."
"What?" she asks, disoriented by his interruption. He stays quiet, and she wonders if he even said anything in the first place. She hears him take a deep breath.
"We'll be on hold," he says again, his voice louder. "While you make your dreams come true, and I- I find mine or- or like, work for it or whatever, and- and if we can't be together, we'll just- we'll be on hold."
She holds her breath at his words, her heart thumping a million miles per second as she tries not to be presumptuous.
"What does that mean?" she asks, her voice barely audible.
"That means you keep that other dream."
NYADA is amazing.
She meets up with the Dean of admissions, a young, mid thirties, beautiful woman, who tells her exactly what she wants to hear, and she beams at her fathers when Ms. Monroe asks her to give a demonstration on what it was that made Carmen Tibedaux change her mind.
Rachel Berry never turns down a request for a performance.
Standing in the Dean's office, she belts out Celine Dion once again, watching in satisfaction as Ms Monroe eyes her in appreciation.
"Rachel," the woman says when she's done. "I think you'll fit right in."
Ms. Monroe continues talking about NYADA's summer programme, a month long intensive training for hopefuls in real off Broadway productions, a real life look into a musical production. It starts in two weeks.
She's about to decline, because she had planned to spend each and every day of her last summer in Lima. But as she opens her mouth, the lasts words he said to her stops her.
"You can always come home."
Finn's home, and home will always be there. But she's a star, and it's only right that she shines first, isn't it? He'd think so.
She looks up at Ms Monroe, a bright smile on her face.
"Where do I sign up?"
A/N: yeah I know. Not that angsty. But I just don't see the finale as the end-all be-all moment like a lot of other people seem to think, or maybe that's just misguided optimism on my part. lol