A/N: No, I've never watched 'The Vow' and my understanding of head trauma is a bit muddy [I'm an engineer not a neurologist!] But, if someone is truly your soul-mate then something as silly as amnesia shouldn't be able to erase them from your memories. Right? Had this draft laying around my computer for a minute now, decided to share. Ensemble centered around Finn & Rachel of course.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just a lil bit crazy in the head. Sorry. (Not really.)
and when the sunshine breaks it doesn't match your smile
Her head hurts. Like a really, really, really terrible headache.
She wakes up from possibly the weirdest (but best) dream she could ever have, blinking her eyes slowly against the bright sunlight. She feels like she's been asleep for too long but still she tries to hold on to the dream as long as she can. The amber-eyed man was a very good singer but a crappy dancer as he whirls her around on the make-shift dance floor. She was laughing and happy, she didn't mind him stepping on her toes, because as long as he was holding her, she was fine. Better than fine even.
His song changes and he wraps his arms around her waist, tucking her head under his chin and as they sway he murmurs the words into her hair:
The thing that I feel is stronger than love believe me
You're something special
I only hope that I'll one day deserve what you've given me
But all I can do is try
Every day of my life
She smiles groggily as her eyes finally slide open.
It's early, just after 7am judging by the clock on the wall, but she still feels tired and with the worst hangover ever. She looks around at the room filled with flowers, bouquets of orchids and tulips, sunflowers, on every surface, everywhere and frowns.
And she finally realizes she's not in her apartment. Surprised, she eases up on her elbow and sees she's covered by a blue sheet… on a hospital bed?
She starts panicking when she sees the ID bracelet and the monitor clipped to the index finger on her right hand; she looks over to her left and freezes when she realizes there's somebody sleeping beside her with his head on the bed, his fingers threaded through hers, grasping tightly in his sleep.
She tries to tug her hand away and the movement jerks him awake. He looks around sleepily and when he sees her leaning up in bed he's instantly alert, his face beaming as he looks at her.
"Rach?" His voice is husky and she can see tears pooling in his eyes and he screams for a doctor to come.
"Baby, you're awake," he murmurs, his hands reaching out to touch her face. She backs away from him, scurrying her body over in the small bed, wincing as the movement hurts her head and sets fire down her leg. His face scrunches up in confusion as he watches her, tears spilling from his eyes.
"Rachel?" She cocks her head; he obviously knows her name, so why doesn't she know who he is?
Retrograde amnesia, the doctor tells them after asking her a million questions and running a billion more tests. Her fathers had strolled in right behind the doctor, Hiram grasping the amber-eyed man's broad shoulder before he moved away, his face hurt and forlorn as he watches her from his post on the wall.
She can't worry about the sadness in his eyes right now. Her head frickin' hurts.
"Alright, so you're telling me a part of my memory is just gone?"
Dr. Matt Rutherford nods. She squeezes the insides of her eyes as she tries to wrap her head around this absurd piece of information. It hurts to think.
"Like how much? I mean, I know you're my fathers and that I'm 21 and that I'm supposed to start the graduate program at NYADA…" she trails off when she sees the looks on her fathers' faces. LeRoy Berry is a doctor, well, musical therapist, but he tries his best to help explain to his daughter why everything she should have remembered for the past 26 months of her life has simply disappeared.
"Star, you're 23, your birthday is in two months. You've already graduated from NYADA and you're working on off-Broadway and teaching piano when you aren't on stage," he hesitates and looks at his husband before continuing.
"Right now you are - were - rehearsing for opening night to star as Wendla in a 'Spring Awakening' off-Broadway production."
Her dad's face falls and he turns his head so she can't see the tears she can already see falling down his face.
She's shocked. She lays against her pillows and listens as the doctor speaks again, her eyes staring to the right and landing on a vase with a single blue orchid standing in water on the desk; beside it lay her iPod, a Mortal Instruments book with the spine very much worn, a couple picture frames and a bottle of water. There's a calendar behind the desk and her eyes widen at the circled date she sees.
She closes her eyes, reaching her left hand up to rub at the pressure point between her eyebrows and she can suddenly feel the cool metal of the ring nestled comfortably on her fourth finger. She's quiet for all of four seconds as she stares.
She shrieks, ignoring her pain and lethargy and holds her hand out, indicating the offensive piece of jewellery. "What's this? What is this?"
Her dad tries to placate her, patting her shoulder gently to reassure her. He looks over at the amber-eyed man then back at her.
No. No, no, no, no. NO!
"And he's who?" She's barely breathing as she points at the man leaning by the door with a broken look on his face.
"That's Finn, Rachel, he's your fiancé," her daddy explains softly.
"My what?" She doesn't mean for it to come out so cruel, she sees the way Finn flinches and more tears leak from his eyes but she can't care about that right now. Her daddy just told her that this Finn dude, is her fiancé, like, they're getting married at some point and she doesn't remember a damn thing about the man or apparently the past two years!
"I need to breathe. Dad, can I have some water please?" Her father walks over to the little table in the room with the water jug. "And can just - someone please just tell me what happened?"
Again, the doctor tries to explain as best as he can.
Three weeks ago she was mugged on her way home from the theatre. Even though she had used the rape whistle Noah had given her, her attacker had dragged her into an alley, throwing her against a brick wall and kicking her in the side. Head trauma. Lacerations to her forehead and right arm. Right leg broken in three places, two fingers broken on her left hand, several bruised ribs on both sides and a bruised collarbone.
She wasn't raped, but she was beaten up pretty badly when someone passing started screaming for the cops. Her attacker had gotten away.
From the wall near the door, Finn looks like he's the one in pain by the look on his face. She's not sure she likes that look.
But, the last thing she remembers was being at Tina's and Mike's engagement party, Noah drove them back home, Santana and Brittany were staying with her.
Dr. Rutherford continues talking and she now knows that they patched her up, put her leg in a cast and she's basically been asleep for 20 days. And Finn has practically moved into her hospital room. Her eyes flicker to him again, he's still leaning against the wall by the door, his arms crossed over his chest and his head hanging down, but he looks at her from under his lashes, his eyes searching her face.
He's looking at her like he's willing her to remember him and his face sort of crumbles when he finally realizes, she really doesn't.
She wakes up a little while later and it's just a few hours into the day, minutes after 2pm. Finn is still there, but he's sitting on the sofa with her dad, talking quietly. Her daddy is beside her in the chair where Finn was sitting when she woke up. The only sound in the room is the low murmur from the men's conversation which is rudely broken up as her cousin strolls into the room.
"Berry! You're finally awake. Hey Uncle Hiram." He walks over to her other side and she gasps as she looks at him, he looks the same, just older, and there's a scar on his chin that wasn't there the last time she saw him.
He leans down and squeezes her tightly. "Noah," she breathes, her hand reaching up to touch his scar, "What happened to your face?"
Confused, he stares at her for a few seconds then looks to her father, his eyes flickering to the couch at the two other men sitting, now less engrossed in their own conversation.
"Finn, Uncle LeRoy, is she fucking with me?" He jerks a thumb at her. All three men shake their heads slowly.
"Rachel, are you telling me you don't remember me falling down your stairs because your damn dog jumped me when Finn stashed beef jerky in my jacket pocket?" He laughs nervously.
Her head actually hurts from trying to remember and she has a feeling this is going to be the first of many conversations like this she's bound to have. Her dad beats her to it, however.
"Noah, Rachel has amnesia, she's basically lost the last two years of her memories."
Noah's head whips towards Finn, eyes widening at the pain in the man's eyes and then looks back at her. "Shit, Berry. Why the fuck didn't you call me to come get you from work? Or take a damn taxi?"
She knows he's not really angry. Her cousin had always found it hard to express his feelings and he was always crass and brash to people when he didn't know how to. He often lashed out when he's frustrated and she's very much aware this was just cause to act out.
"So.. you don't even know who Finn is then?"
"Well, my fathers have told me that I'm supposed to be marrying him. He wears a FDNY t-shirt, so I assume he's a fireman. And he loves to cry."
She stares at the man in question. He stares right back at her, his eyes hurt.
"But aside from that, I have no idea who he is. And since when did I get a dog?"
Noah rubs his hands over his face. "Jesus," he breathes.
He's dressed in jeans and a shirt, with his jacket collar high on his neck. Its Wednesday afternoon as far as the calendar tells her so why isn't he in uniform?
"Noah, aren't you coming from the station? Aren't you on duty?"
His face falls even more as he stares at her. "Rach, I made detective six months ago. We got shitfaced, - sorry Uncle H-," he nods over at the older man, "in your apartment. The whole gang, we even had actual meat on the pizza and we dared you to eat a slice." He says this like she's supposed to remember and when he sees the blank look on her face his body just slumps and he leans against the wall just staring at her.
"Nothing Puck. The last thing she remembers is playing cards with Santana and Brittany, a couple nights before she started at NYADA." Finn murmurs softly. It's the first he's spoken out loud since she woke up – his voice was husky and comforting – but she honestly can't stand the look on his face anymore. It's the same look she sees on Noah's face and she just sighs.
She remembers her dream of dancing on a rooftop but it causes her head to ache more so she just closes her eyes and rests her head against the pillow.
She wants to remember. Without the pain, though.
Her friends come to visit her in the days before they let her leave. Tina is literally beside herself and crying as she hugs her close and tries to tell her every single thing she's missed, well as much as she can fit in before Santana waltzes in and practically tackles her onto the bed.
"Ooof! San! Easy with the hugs! My leg isn't exactly a hundred percent yet and the ribs are still sore." The Latina brushes away the tears before they fall, pressing her forehead to hers before she settles herself on one side, whispering words in Spanish as Tina moulds herself on the other side.
Finn looks at them, smiles sadly and walks out, his head hung low. She watches him walk away. "Is he always like that?" she asks.
Tina and Santana look up as Finn's figure disappears down the hallway.
"Finn's always been kinda intense. And he's very protective of you too," Tina says.
"He nearly went bananas when they called him from the hospital. Mike was the one who picked you up, ah, from the alley," Santana offers.
"My dads say he practically lived here the entire time. It's creepy."
She can feel her friends' eyes boring into her and she resists the urge to snap at them. "What?"
"Rachel, the man loves you. Hell, he proposed to you after less than a year and you said yes. Put yourself in his shoes: your fiancé is lying in a bed, unconscious from an attack, are you going to go anywhere?"
Begrudgingly, she shakes her head. "Then to add insult to injury you wake up and have no clue of who he is," Santana continues.
"I know," she says, "I know. But he can't expect me to just accept the idea that we're supposed to get married, I don't know him, and I don't remember anything of the life we supposedly built together. I'm not even sure I'm attracted to him, I just - I just don't like seeing anyone sad and the way he looks at me, it's like he's waiting, just waiting for something. And he's going to be really disappointed when nothing comes," she finishes.
Tina pulls her head onto her shoulder, running her fingers slowly through her hair. She doesn't even realize she's crying until hot tears run down her cheeks but she doesn't bother wiping them away. She's surrounded by familiarity and it kind of soothes her constant headache.
She asks them to tell her what she's doesn't remember - or what she's missed, as she prefers to say.
Tina and Mike got married in December last year; Tina shows her the pictures on her phone and she sees herself wrapped around her best friends, eyes sparkling and smiles wide as she poses. They tell her she was maid of honour and Finn had stars in his eyes the entire time. Tina looked radiant in her wedding shiromuku and Mike actually had tears in his eyes when she walked down the aisle to him.
"Of course my father taped the entire thing, so you'll able to see him blabber through his vows," she jokes.
Santana tells her nothing has changed with her except that they're giving her harder cases at the law firm she works at. "Keep your fingers crossed, at the way I'm going I'll be partner before I'm 30 and hopefully can give Brittany that ring she's been hoping for."
She smiles at the radiance on her friends faces as they chatter away happily.
They tell her Mercedes is in LA and she flew in just after the accident, but had to leave for a show she was putting on and she's coming back in a week's time because she's planning on moving back to NY to work and also because her boyfriend lives here.
They tell her about Kurt, Finn's brother and one of her closest friends from school. He came by everyday with Finn but stopped the day she woke up because she wouldn't know who he was but that he still called every day. They tell her Finn's parents flew up the day after they she went into the hospital and they stayed a week into her perpetual sleep. They wanted to come back but Finn told them not yet, that she needed to readjust.
She's met his parents and is best friends with his brother. And she doesn't remember anything. She doesn't know how to respond to that so they just sit in silence for a while. She stares at the blue orchid beside Tina's shoulder.
"They recast your role as Wendla and gave it to me," Tina says quietly.
Her eyes are wide before she pulls her best friend into a one arm hug. "That's great Tina!"
"You're not mad?" Tina asks, surprised.
"Why would I be mad? You're a fantastic singer and actress. Wait, is it open yet?"
Tina shakes her head. "Two months to go."
"Awesome! I want tickets."
"Of course! Will want to see you too. He said he would wait until you were home. I think he really wants you back."
She grins. "As soon as these doctors give me the go ahead, I'll start performing again."
"Good. And hopefully Finn will regain a social life. He's been glued to your side for far too long," Santana quips.
She doesn't react outwardly to that but they don't miss the look on her face when Finn comes back in with bags of food for them. He hands them to Santana and smiles at her, his eyes lingering on hers briefly before he walks back out.
When Santana hands her the container of pasta and meatballs she sees the receipt ticket and catches the word 'vegan'. She figures her friends probably reminded him of that, but when Santana also hands her a smaller container of garlic bread and then a cup of Taco Bell's cherry limeade she's pleasantly surprised. It's always been a guilty pleasure of hers and she remembers she'd usually buy it when she's had a crappy day.
All the food is from one restaurant, but he went out of his way to get her this particular treat.
She can't help the smile that pulls at her face.
They release her three days before Halloween. Her friend Artie is grinning when he comes to see her the morning before they do.
She beams at him when he comes in and leans over and kisses his cheek soundly.
"Wow. If I'd known all it'd take for you to greet me like that I'd push you down the stairs every day woman."
She laughs, happier than she's been since she woke up and she squeezes his fingers. Her headaches aren't so bad now and the pain in her side is manageable as long as there are no sudden movements and she doesn't feel like a total invalid when Dr. Rutherford tells her it's a wheelchair or crutches. Her fathers insist on the chair, they'll give her the crutches when she comes back in for her check-up in four weeks.
"So, four wheels huh?" Artie chuckles.
"I'm guessing that's why you're here?"
"Yea and no. Tina and Santana demanded I come back for a visit. Boston isn't at all like home, I'll tell you that much." He shakes his head and smiles, pulling on her big toe playfully. "They said you'd need some friendly faces around, after - you know," he whistles and circles his fingers by his head. She laughs at his silliness.
"It's not so bad you know, before you know it you'll be up and at 'em again. It's just really good to see you awake. And talking."
Artie's smile turns sad. "Rachel - Finn nearly went crazy. He stopped eating, stopped sleeping; he stayed by your bed day and night, Santana and his brother had to physically pull him into the bathroom so he could actually take a shower."
Again with Finn. She can't understand why everyone feels the need to tell her about him. What's so special about the man?
His hands find hers again. "We came by every day. With flowers. Tina and Kurt brought movies that none of us really liked but they were your favourites. We just wanted you to wake up." He grips her knuckles tighter. "I'm glad you woke up."
She gives him a sad smile.
He waves his hands in the air to dismiss the tension and his smiles widens.
He tells her that he's seeing someone. A classmate of hers from NYADA.
Last she remembered, he'd berated the dating scene and was just tired, grad school was a bitch. He was happy now, his eyes sparkling as he tells her about Harmony; he shows her pictures on his phone, of all of them, her and Harmony, her and Finn, her sitting in his lap; laughing when he tells her that Harmony wasn't the best dancer but she sung like an angel. Almost as good as her. He wants to marry her too.
She doesn't remember ever seeing Artie this ecstatic about anyone and hates herself a little for not even remembering it was her who had introduced them.
When her fathers and Finn come by later to take her home, she and Artie are wheeling down the hallways, grinning and laughing and running into nurses. When she turns around to see Finn and her fathers standing by her door she grins.
Finn helps her into his truck, throwing her wheelchair into the back as her dads put her bags and flowers into their car and she waves at Artie when he tells her he'll follow them over to her house.
She glances over at Finn, his eyes aren't as sad as they were before, but he still wasn't really talking much.
Her voice is quiet as they sit at a stoplight and he glances over her. He nods and responds quietly. As the light turns green, he looks over at her again and smiles, the right side of his mouth pulling up.
She kind of likes his smile.
Her first real breakdown happens basically the same night she gets home. There's a frisky golden retriever jumping at her and he distracts her from her parents' conversation as she wheels herself towards her bedroom. Stopping just inside the door, she wheels herself back out, surveying the room to see pictures of her and Finn all over the room, and their stuff mixed together: a Canucks #16 jersey hanging on one wall facing a poster of Funny Girl on the next. Her eyes find his and he's standing just inside the front door, leaning against the wall, his hands jammed into his pockets, watching her.
She turns back to the bedroom and it's the same thing. Its Rachel and Finn. She can see his FDNY jacket hanging over the wardrobe door, sheet music on her side of the bed, reading glasses on top of an Anne Rice book, pyjama bottoms and bed slippers and she freaks out just a little.
"You live here?" She turns to him and the room goes silent.
"Rachel, he's your fiancé, yes he lives here," LeRoy says.
"Let him talk daddy."
"Yes," Finn replies, his eyes watching hers.
Noah chooses that time to waltz in, knocking once on the door as he greets them. He looks from Artie and her, over to Finn and his uncles. "OK, what did I miss?"
They ignore him.
"And do you plan on living here now that I'm back home, in my condition?" She continues.
He raises an eyebrow as he watches her. "Do you want me to?"
"You expect me to live with you and I don't even know who you are?"
He closes his eyes and then takes a deep breath; when he looks at her again, he's steeled his face into an unreadable mask. "I can move out."
"No. Finn! Rachel needs someone here with her, she can't live alone," Hiram protests.
"What's going on?" Noah asks again.
"Dad, I'm fully capable of taking care of myself. I do not want to live with a complete stranger for however long I will be off my feet."
Hiram watches her with a funny look on his face. "Your options are limited. Do you want one of us to move in?" He points between himself and his husband. "Noah?"
"Fuck no. Berry on medication is a no-no for me. Call a chick or something," Noah refuses loudly. She glares over at him and he glares right back.
"Finn already lives here, he can move into the next bedroom. Or you can ask Santana or Tina to stay," her father suggests.
"Santana will want to bring over Brittany. And Tina won't want to be too far from her husband for too long," Noah mutters.
She rolls her eyes at him and stomps her foot in frustration, forgetting for just a moment, she's not supposed to.
"Ow. OW!" she cries out, her face pinching in pain as the movement jerks her broken foot. She sees Finn make to move towards her and has to mentally restrain himself not to, her daddy walks over to her, gripping onto her shoulder as he tries to reassure her. Artie rolls over to her and pats her knee, murmuring to her to keep her behind still. She glares at him and he just rolls his eyes.
"Rachel, all stubbornness aside, you'll need help to move around, to help you to take baths, to get you in and out of the bed easily until you can do it on your own. Fine, you can call in one of your girlfriends to come over but are you going to kick Finn out of the house he's been living in for the past six months?"
"Why the fuck does everyone keep telling me about Finn? I DO NOT KNOW HIM! I wake up to this man staring at me, a ring on my finger and everyone telling me that I love him and he loves me. I cannot remember! For crying out loud! Can I have one thing that's just mine, untainted by him?"
It's quiet in the room until Artie speaks. "Mercedes should be flying in soon. She made plans to stay at a hotel. I'm sure she'd love to stay here, help out Rachel until she finds an apartment."
She's actually glad Artie's there. Even though she's known him for the better part of twelve (fourteen) years, having him there today is a lifesaver and not just for the wheelchair thing. She's living in the house she grew up in, her fathers moved out to Connecticut to follow new job opportunities and she just stayed home with school and Broadway. The house already has a wheelchair ramp from when Artie would come over after school when she, him, Tina and Noah would play video-games or bake cookies or whatever idea they had to entertain themselves that day. It eases her anger a little.
"Rachel." LeRoy's voice isn't hard. "Be reasonable. Call Mercedes, see if she'll be willing to stay here for a couple of weeks. Give Finn time to figure out what to do, at least."
"It's fine, LeRoy. I can move out. I can go stay with my brother for a while." He gives her another sad look before nodding to her fathers.
She bites her tongue but says nothing as she watches him walk into her (their?) bedroom and start packing clothes into a duffel bag. Fiancé or not, she was not living with a man she did not know.
She has to give him credit. After her blow-up three weeks ago she assumed he'd leave her alone. Mercedes moves into her guest room and Finn moves out.
Still, she's woken up a few times by Mercedes' phone or low voices in the living room. She never sees him, but there's always a fading, distinct scent that she recognizes as his whenever she rolls into a room.
The day after he leaves, she wakes up to hear him talking to Mercedes in the kitchen. Though her head still hurts and her leg and side feels like they're on fire, she manoeuvres herself into her chair and peeks out the bedroom door. He's helping Mercedes unpack groceries, tossing Puppy Dog Chow into a doggie bowl near the kitchen counter.
"I'll bring over some shelves, to put up in here so she'll have easier access to stuff she wants if you aren't around. Santana's dropping by later with some movies and stuff too, so, ah -" Finn clears his throat and wipes his hand on a dish towel. He rubs the back of his neck and looks around the kitchen.
"My schedule is on the fridge as usual, so if there's anything you need, just call, OK?" He says quietly, his voice pained.
She watches Mercedes pat his hand, murmuring quietly to him. She's not sure what her friend says, but Finn wipes his hand under his eyes and tries to give her a sheepish smile. He nods, bends and ruffles the dog's - Montego - head before slinking towards the front room and out the door.
Mercedes finishes putting away the groceries and then snaps a garbage bag shut.
"That man loves you. I know you don't remember it, but I'm praying you find your way back to him. If not, I don't think he'll ever be the same." Mercedes doesn't turn around, doesn't acknowledge her just whistles at Montego as she grabs his leash from off the counter.
She rolls back into her room, grimacing as she pulls herself back onto the bed.
She knows Finn spends most of his time now at the firehouse or with his brother or Noah and Mike. He doesn't avoid her, he just doesn't cross her path too often.
Her birthday comes and goes with little fanfare. And she doesn't really mind that. Tina and Mercedes spend the day with her, plugging in their phones to her TV and going through the pictures of her last two birthdays while they eat Thai food in yoga pants and ponytails. Her fathers send her a huge bouquet of flowers and tickets to Cancun (she's always wanted to do spring break, but was too busy with school and her Broadway dreams.)
Noah pops in for about two seconds and snickers at their hairstyles, giving her a sloppy kiss before he shoves a badly wrapped package and a gift bag onto her lap. "Enjoy, pig out and happy birthday baby cuz."
She wheels back towards the couch and unwraps the messy package, grinning like a fool at the 40th anniversary double-DVD of the Fanny Girl movie and play, her cousin's messy scrawl wishing her happy birthday on a card.
"What's in the gift bag?" Tina motions towards the pink bag.
She pulls out a sleek newspaper wrapped box on top of another. The first box has an original playbill for the 1964 Broadway run of Funny Girl and an autographed copy of Barbra Streisand's 1963 album. Mercedes whistles and Tina gingerly takes the playbill from her fingers when she passes it over.
The second package is a box of chocolates from her favourite vegan chocolatier, Allison's Gourmet. Located in California. There's no card and no note but her eyes fly to the hockey jersey facing the poster on the wall.
The week before Valentine's Day, Will Shuester from the workshop she worked on in college calls her for a favour. He wants to record two songs for a studio which he thinks will be excellent for her voice. He applauds Tina's performance in Spring Awakening and even though he's not really apologizing for her missing playing the role, she hears it when he offers the job. She doesn't mind.
Tina and Kurt scream and jump around when she tells him yes.
"You're recording a song!" Kurt gushes.
She spins around in her chair and winks at them.
She can't imagine how she ever forgot Kurt. He's like her. But a guy. They're both similar on so many levels except Kurt fell back on his second love of fashion after NYADA. He tells her he's helped with so many costumes designs and changes during their two years that he should've gone straight to FIT. She finds her kindred spirit and best friend (again) the day he stops by with Mercedes with donuts and an infectious smile.
"It's not that big a deal. Seriously. I've recorded songs for him before, Tina and I both have," she insists, but they give her a funny look and go back to their mini-celebration.
"We need to find you something spectacular to wear." Kurt stops suddenly turning to her. She rolls her eyes as she tries not to laugh. She's not big on fashion, but from what they've told her, he's her fashion godmother. She has no complaints.
"Kurt. I'm still in the wheelchair. And I'll be inside the studio, I'm pretty sure no one is actually looking at what I'm wearing."
He tsks her remark away and walks into her bedroom and to her closet. "We'll need to get you some pants that will flatter that horrendous cast you're wearing, and maybe a cute top to show off those arms. Leave it to me."
She looks at Tina and they cover their mouths to stifle their laughter at him. She won't argue.
The night after they've completed the tracks just happens to fall on Valentine's. Noah comes to pick her up in Finn's truck saying they're all going out for dinner. Despite her protests and pleas to beg off, he stops the truck outside the restaurant she used to waitress at when she went to NYADA. She smells a set-up but doesn't say anything when he helps her out of the truck and into her chair.
Everyone is there. And everyone is paired off.
"Don't worry. We're not trying to force anything. Just - we did this last year and it was fun, and at least talk to the guy."
Her cousin stops her chair right before he opens the door. "I'm not saying you should fall in love with him or anything, but at least give him a break. We're friends, we're all friends and with you two, not together anymore, no one wants to choose sides."
Her glare softens and she nods her head, allowing him to push her inside. The restaurant is filled with balloons and streamers and paper hearts and she wants to throw up in her mouth a little.
Tina and Santana pull her chair between theirs and drop a Hershey's kiss onto her palm. Kurt winks at her, mouthing that his boyfriend is hot when he introduces her (again) to Blaine. Quinn smiles politely at her and Noah glares at her to behave herself. Sam, Mercedes' boyfriend is there too though she barely remembers meeting him. Mike grins at her, and hands her a paper Valentine's. The writing on it isn't his though, and by the light blush in Finn's cheek when her eyes meet his she thinks she knows why. She smiles at him and picks up her glass when Tina clinks to make a speech.
She dances with everyone that night, even Finn, laughing as he bends over and twirls her around in her chair. And no, she doesn't mind the fluttering in her tummy when he smiles at her, the sides of his eyes crinkling.
Kurt and Mercedes think they're slick.
The day she goes to get her crutches Kurt suddenly has a fashion emergency and Mercedes has a viewing on an apartment she really, really wants. So they send Finn to pick her up.
He stands there nervously as she peers up at him, silently cursing her friends in her mind. Her and Finn sorta have had a kind of new, strange, quiet friendship since the Valentine's dinner.
"If it helps, I tried to talk my brother out of it." He holds his hands up.
"I'm sorry. I could've called a cab or have Noah come pick me up. You really didn't have to do this."
He shrugs and puts his hand at the small of her back as she hobbles towards his truck.
"Rach, it's not a problem, really. It's my day off, so it's fine."
Her breath hitches at the nickname. It's the same thing he called her when she first woke up. She peeks up at him as he opens the door for her, taking her crutches in one hand as he helps her in with the other. She doesn't think he realizes he's doing it. And she finds she kinds of like it.
He plays Lady Antebellum as he drives towards her place and they sing along. Finn actually sings, and he's really good. She turns and watches him, mouth open in surprise as he sings. He catches her looking at him at the stoplight and blushes.
"You're really good at that."
He nods, a small smile on his face. "Thanks, you say - used to say, sorry – that all the time.
"Said that you know I'm talented because you're talented too."
She blushes and turns back to the road, fighting a smile as he pulls up to her house. It sounds just like her. She barely has time to unstrap herself before Finn's pulling her door open, holding his hand to help her out. He pulls her crutches out and looks behind him to the small flight of stairs leading up to her brownstone and back to her now standing on her crutches.
"Can you make it up the stairs?"
There are ten steps on the stairs to her door. She's pretty sure she can make it up them unharmed. She looks back at Finn and nods. He frowns and looks from to the stairs and back to her.
"You sure? I mean, I can help you."
She chuckles lightly and wobbles ahead. Looking back at Finn, he's hovering nearby with a worried look on his face. She shakes her head and makes it up the first step. It's adorable, Finn worrying about her like this.
Aside from her fathers, Noah, Artie, Kurt and Mike, she doesn't have that good a relationship with men. And with just one failed relationship under her belt, she's not counting her engagement to Finn because, well, if she doesn't remember, does it count? He drops by with Kurt sometimes or with her cousin. He even still gets her grocery when Noah acts like a punk.
Getting to know each other again, it's nice, even though sometimes Finn looks at her with pained longing in his eyes, he doesn't try to force her into anything, but she's not sure how to react to him sometimes. He's nice, but he used to be (still is?) in love with her and he's her best friend's brother. It doesn't help that he's adorably attractive, and when she sees him in uniform, her mind wanders.
"Thanks for helping me, Finn." She tosses her crutches the second she's inside the door. She still has physiotherapy twice a week and she can hop around quite easily. She's really happy to be out of the chair though.
He nods, bending to pick up her crutches and leaning them against the wall. She smiles at him.
"I hope I didn't keep you from anything today."
"Nah, just hanging out, playing videogames, ordering take out." He shrugs and smiles at her.
She doesn't miss the way his shirt stretches over his chest or the way the muscles in his arms move as he crosses his arms. She turns away quickly and fans herself; he's really good-looking. Seeing him standing there in a tight-fitting t-shirt was kind of distracting.
"How about I make us dinner? I mean, it's the least I can do."
"You don't have to, I mean –"
"Please?" She risks turning around to give him another smile.
He nods and shuts the door behind him, following her as she hops to the kitchen. "Can I help with anything?"
"You can chop," she grins, handing over a cutting board and the pak choi.
"I can do that."
His smile is beautiful.
Mercedes comes home to see them eating and laughing as Finn tells her stories about his brother. She doesn't miss the smirk Mercedes throws them as she joins them for dinner.
Her dads drop by one afternoon after a conference in the city. Her daddy fusses over her shorter hair and her dad gives her a look when she forgoes a physical therapy lesson in order to have lunch with them.
"Dad, it's one lesson. I can reschedule it for another day or two."
LeRoy squeezes his husband's hand and pats her shoulder. "As long as you're getting back on your feet sweetheart. But how're you doing? Still having pain in your leg?"
She lets her father fuss over her and appreciates the fact that they don't bring up Finn. It's painfully clear they love him and she's pretty sure they still talk to each other. Still, Finn doesn't come up and she enjoys a hearty lunch with her fathers. During dessert, her dad fishes baseball tickets from his pocket, lamenting that they're going to go to waste because they can't go.
"Take someone with you, Star. They're excellent seats we got from a client. And you do love baseball."
She doesn't bother asking her cousin, he hates baseball. Santana nor Brittany aren't fans either and Mercedes is too busy moving into her new apartment. Tina just says no and Mike and Sam beg off as well. She tries Kurt but he's giggling and sweet-talking to his boyfriend and suggests she ask Finn.
"I know what you're doing Kurt Hummel!"
"Good. Then do it," he says and hangs up.
She does end up going to the game with Finn, and ends up having the time of her life. If she doesn't go with her parents, it's usually Artie or Tina, but Finn knows a lot about baseball, even though hockey is his favourite sport; he jokes that he's secretly Canadian. He buys her nachos and salsa with lemonade and gets himself two hot dogs, nachos and cheese and a huge cola, smirking at the look on her face as she stares.
"I'm a big boy, I like to eat."
She shakes her head and grins, handing him a napkin when mustard drips onto his shirt. His smile is infectious, and she smiles throughout the whole day, even though the team she was rooting for lost.
They end up on her couch after the game, eating takeout and watching SNL reruns in the living room.
His phone beeps and he grumbles at the text he gets. "I seriously need to find an apartment."
"Date night for Kurt and Blaine. Believe me, you do not want to be around them for date night. They remind me of Disney movies how sappy they are."
She snorts into her tofu stir fry and shakes her head at him.
"You know, if Kurt and Blaine are driving you crazy, you're welcome to move back in here. I mean, Mercedes and Sam are moving in together and I'm back on my feet and the guest room is just there and not a big deal, so." She realizes she's babbling and Finn's smile is shy.
But he nods and pushes the carton of white rice towards her. "If you're sure you don't mind, I'd like that. Maybe I can get some peace and quiet. My brother can be very vocal when he wants to be."
She snickers and the tips of his ears turn red. He leans back onto the chair and tosses a packet of duck sauce at her.
"Are you sure it won't be weird? I mean, between us?"
They're friends now, her and Finn. Friends who used to date. She still has the ring he gave her in her jewellery box because he refuses to take it back. She doesn't want to think he's holding out for her to remember, because there's been no indication of her memories coming back, and the doctor's aren't sure they ever will.
But Finn spends most of his time at the firehouse any way and really, how bad could it get with them living together? As friends?
"No. No reason why it should, right?"
"Right." He nods curtly and turns back to SNL.
Finn hasn't even been moved back in a week when he comes home sick one evening in March, Sam carrying him inside. She's sitting at the piano going over some sheet music for the boy that just left her lesson when Montego starts barking as the front door opens. She clutches one of her bedazzled crutches as a messy mop of brown hair pokes through the doorway. He's coughing and sneezing as Sam supports him in.
"Finn? Sam? What's the matter?" She hurries over as best as she can.
"He's sick, got the flu. Doc sent him home to sleep it off," Sam grunts, Finn's heavy arm slung over his shoulders.
"Couch," Finn mutters, trying to move forward.
"Put him in my room." Sam raises his eyebrows.
"It has a bathroom," She huffs, narrowing her eyes at him.
She follows them on her crutches, tugging the blankets off and pulling down the covers. Finn literally falls facedown onto the bed, coughing a little until he moves his head to the side, curling himself into a ball, a pillow in his arms. Montego turns in a circle twice then settles at the foot of the bed. She pulls the covers back over Finn and follows Sam back out.
He walks back to the front door and picks up Finn's duffel, tossing it inside then hands her an envelope. "I didn't get a chance to fill his prescription before I came over, he was grumpy and complaining so I brought him straight here. I could still go now though."
She nods, "I'll come with. I'll need to pick up some things by the drug store. Can you take me to the corner store while we're at it?"
She goes back to the room for her purse, making a mental list of what she needed. "Watch him Montego. I'll be back in a bit." She brushes a hand over Finn's clammy forehead and frowns, then hurries out carefully on her crutches behind Sam.
When Finn wakes up a while later, he looks surprised to see her sitting on the loveseat by her window, leg stretched out as she reads.
"Rach?" He croaks out. "Why am I in your room?"
She nods towards the bathroom. "Easier access. How're you feeling?" She gets up and hops on one foot over to him. She smacks his hand away from the compress on his forehead. "Leave it."
He frowns and tries to swallow. "I feel like I just went a round with Ali and they stuffed cotton balls in my head," he moans, "I'm cold."
She takes the compress off, wipes the sheen from his skin and pulls the covers up to his chest then helps him to drink some water.
"Go back to sleep," she says softly and hops back over to her seat.
"Déjà vu," he murmurs sleepily.
She looks over at him. "I've taken care of you before?"
He nods slowly, turning onto his side to face her as he falls back asleep, a small smile on his face. She can't remember when was the last time she saw him smiling and relaxed, despite being ill, and a part of her is starting to miss it.
She watches him as he does cool down exercises after his run one evening. He's wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt that clings to him with sweat. From her vantage point at the window she can see his muscled arms, a tribal tattoo around his right bicep, he's wearing a baseball cap backwards and sunglasses as Montego keeps running around him on his leash and he tugs the retriever back towards him as a car pulls up in front of the house.
Finn greets his brother cheerily, then they both walk up to the door, greeting her as they walk in. Kurt grins mischievously and she suspects he saw her at the window. Her cheeks colour and she busies herself with the sheet music in her hands.
"So, I'm thinking of inviting Mom & Dad up for their anniversary. Dinner, Broadway and Dad wants to go to car show they're having in Manhattan. Rachel and I can have a spa day with Carole and you Dad and Blaine can go enjoy the car show."
"Wait, what? Kurt,-" She's not sure about going to dinner with Kurt's and Finn's parents. She may have met them before, but she's thinking the fact that she and Finn are no longer engaged anymore might be a tad bit of a problem. Kurt just waves her off.
"C'mon Rach, my mom loves you, and so does Burt. I know they'd really like it if you'd come." Her protest dies on her lips as she sees the earnest look on Finn's face.
"Oh, alright. I'd love to go."
"Good!" Kurt claps his hands and she drags her eyes away from Finn's to pay attention to the man whirling about the room.
"I know Carole really likes Tina, so I was thinking of inviting her and Mike as well. So I have a list of restaurants, here," he hands them to his brother, "choose one. You'll pick them up from the airport, take them back to the apartment, I'll just stay with Blaine while they stay there. Now, dinner and a show on the same night or do the show another night?"
She blinks when she realizes they were both staring at her. "Huh? What?"
Kurt sighs. "Dinner and the show, or do the show another night?"
"You're asking me?" She frowns. Finn chuckles.
"You are our resident diva after all. And planner extraordinaire," Kurt supplies. She stares at Finn for support but he just shrugs and grins at her. She doesn't say anything, so he just sighs.
"Um, dinner and drinks the night of? You can always do the show the next night, you know how Broadway shows go, they can be really long and I'm sure Burt will want a beer afterwards. I mean, I wished I'd eaten before you took me to one." Finn colours slightly as she stares him.
"I took you to a Broadway show?"
He scratches the back of his neck, his ears turning red in embarrassment. "Ah, yea? Rock of Ages. You said the shows I saw you in at NYADA didn't count. I needed the true Broadway experience."
Kurt has showed her the tapes of her auditions and performances at school and Finn was usually the one taping her performances. There were a lot of candid videos of her and Kurt, or her and Finn, her and Artie and Tina, videos of everybody, with and without her. She doesn't think they know she watches those videos for nights on end, hoping she'd just remember even one.
She doesn't remember seeing Rock of Ages either. And again Finn's ears turn red when Kurt tells her that's what they're seeing. He's on the phone with Tina while she stares at the two men, Finn playing with Montego as Kurt sidesteps the frisky dog dashing around the room.
How could she have forgotten this life? Especially these two men?
She blushes when Finn looks up and catches her watching him, and she drops her hair to hide her eyes. She peeks at him as he makes his way to the bathroom, tugging his shirt off as he goes.
He's kind of not really talking to her - just a lot of glaring - one night he comes home from the firehouse. She's not entirely sure why and they haven't said two words to each other since he left for work on Thursday. She has his work schedule and instead of working the scheduled three nights, when she calls on the fourth night, he says he'll come home in two days. And hangs up.
So when he comes through the door and goes straight to his room, bypassing her at the kitchen table where she's watching a show on her laptop, she gets really annoyed. He comes back out, goes into the bathroom, still not saying a word and after a shower, heads straight back to his room, the door clicking closed softly behind him. She waits eleven more minutes (because he has to eat sometime) and when he doesn't come out, she walks over to his door, banging on it for him to open. He does, glaring at her.
"What's going on? What's with the silent treatment?"
"Really not in the mood to talk to you right now Rachel."
"Since you went out with Jesse St. James," he snarls, then steps back effectively shutting the door in her face.
She frowns. She and Jesse were old friends. He had visited by a few days ago; he was in LA working on a movie and had stopped by just to catch up, after he'd heard about her attack. They'd flirted a little when they had rehearsals together so long ago. And she's pretty sure that's before she knew Finn. So she doesn't understand his behaviour at all. She leaves dinner in the oven for him then hobbles back to her bedroom.
When she comes out the next morning, the dishes are put away, the fridge is packed with groceries and Jesse is sitting on the couch.
And Finn is in the kitchen. OK then.
"Jesse?" He looks around and jumps up.
"Hey, love. I was hoping to take you to breakfast so we could catch up some more."
Her eyes flicker over to Finn and she knows he's listening.
"Ah, today's not a good time. Can we do a rain-check?"
Jesse purses his lips as he looks at her unhappily. "Rachel, I'm a very busy man, I can't just reschedule everything, you know."
"Hey Jesse, how's what's her name doing?" Finn calls out, snapping his fingers as if he's trying to remember something. "Clara! Yea, she was Rachel's understudy, for that play you guys did together a few years back?"
She turns back to Jesse and is surprised to see a worried frown on his face that he morphs into a smile as soon as she's looking at him again. "I don't know what you're talking about," he sniffs.
"Yea, you do. She's that girl Rachel caught you having sex with in your dressing room while she was waiting for you to go have dinner on your date together? You don't remember that? Rach? Or trying to get her dropped from the production when she dumped you?"
She turns her glare from Jesse to Finn just as his words catch up to her. He knows very well she doesn't remember anything!
"Wait, we dated? And then you cheated on me? With my understudy? And tried to get me fired?" This is ridiculous.
"Come on Rachel. It's all in the past. We can move on from that," Jesse pleads.
"So, you came over, because now you know I didn't remember what a cheating bastard you really are and want to try again?" Jesse steps back when she glares at him. "You should know very well that I hate cheating and cheaters and to think you honestly wanted to mislead me ... get the hell out of my house Jesse."
She uses one of her crutches to smack him on the leg and he yelps. "I said, get the hell out!"
He looks over at Finn leaning against the kitchen door and then back at her. "Rachel, think about this."
"Jesse, right now I'm only thinking of which of these crutches to break over your head. Don't look at Finn, he'll help me."
Finn barks out in laughter. "Nope, don't get me involved."
Jesse holds his head up, a false smile on his face as he smooths his shirt out. "Fine. Be like that. But don't come running -"
"No dear. I'm on crutches, no running. There's no way in hell I want anything to do with you ever again. Don't let me tell you again." She points to the door.
He frowns and walks quickly to the door, sparing Finn a disdainful look before slipping through. Finn's laughing quietly when she turns around.
"I swear to God, if you so much as even whisper 'I told you so' I will punch you." She balls her small hand into a fist for effect and Finn just falls onto the couch still laughing. She stomps into her room, ignoring the slight pain at her leg and waist and slams the door, pulling out a book and curling her foot under her.
She's not sure who she's more pissed at, herself for not remembering what a jerk Jesse is (was) or Finn or Kurt or even Tina for not telling her sooner. Montego woofs quietly from the floor beside her and she looks at him, silently agreeing at the forlorn look the dog gives her. Men.
Finn knocks at her door twice and she doesn't answer. When he pushes it open after the third knock, he's standing there with a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with chocolate syrup and granola. And two spoons.
She blinks up at him. The things he knows about her have stopped surprising her really. They're friends (who were engaged) so she figures he'll at least know about more than one of her quirky habits.
"Look, I'm sorry I laughed at you. But I figured that if I had told you the truth about Jesse you'd probably hate me even more and I know you get, like, frustrated at times when we say something you don't remember..." he trails off, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. He holds out the sweet treats and the side of his mouth pulls up. "Truce?"
She shuts the book as she looks at him. "Finn, I am going to get frustrated, all the time. We are friends, right?"
"Then, even if it's something you're absolutely positive that I'll be apprehensive about or disconcerted knowing, please tell me. I may not remember how I was feeling then, but I know my life hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows. But, everything, good or bad, that's what makes me me, you know?" She wants to know as much of her what's she's missed from her life and even though she would have been happy being spared the drama that is Jesse St. Jackass (again), if she had known he'd badmouthed her to a director and slept with her understudy while they were supposed to be dating, she wouldn't have even let him set one foot inside her door.
She nods, and scoots over as Finn comes over and drops everything on the bed. "From now on, I'll tell you everything, good and bad, especially all the crap Jesse pulled. So you should also know that that weekend when you came home and all your vegan sausage went missing it was Montego's fault."
She snickers and casts a glance to the floor where Montego still has that expression on his face. "Right, because my dog managed to open the fridge, reach onto the highest shelf and devour three links of sausages, then toss the wrapper into the trash?"
Finn's already starting in on the ice cream, shovelling it into his mouth so he doesn't answer, he just sticks his tongue out to lick the syrup that's on the side of his mouth, grinning broadly as he smirks at her.
There goes that smile again. And cue butterflies.
They go bowling eight months after she's back home. Everybody: Artie visits and brings Harmony, Santana, Brittany, Sam, Mercedes, Kurt, Blaine, Mike and Tina, Noah convinces Quinn to join them and Finn drags her out of the house telling her the bookstore and corner store don't constitute as fun.
So she goes and makes a fool of herself. She was never really good at bowling and she's horrible on crutches and just as bad when she tosses them aside, but she doesn't feel that bad because its men vs. women and Tina, Mercedes and Harmony are aces at the game, betting the men a night of tequila shots for the losers. Finn's pretty good, just like Mike and Noah, but they're not good enough and despite her pretty much getting a gutter ball every time, she dances and shimmies with the rest of the women in glee while the men concede defeat.
"Dude! Your wife's a fucking ninja! Next time she's on my team!" Noah complains to Mike as they walk into the bar. They crowd two booths and Finn, Sam and Blaine go to the bartender to get a round of shots and beer.
"None for me or Rachel. They still have her on medication," Finn says, sitting down with orange juice and pushing a glass of cranberry juice towards her. She smiles, touched that he'd forgo a night of drunken debauchery just because she couldn't partake. Still, they have fun and when she starts yawning at three in the morning, their get together slowly breaks up.
Finn acts as DD for her cousin and Quinn. They're practically mauling each other in the backseat and Finn frowns, shooting her nervous looks as he tries to keep his attention away from the two in the back. For her part she just finds it funny. Noah is a hilarious drunk and his hands are all over Quinn who keeps slapping him away when he gets too grabby. He's muttering obscenities and sucking at her neck when she grabs the water bottle in the cup holder beside Finn's thigh and squeezes it over them when they park in front Noah's apartment.
"The fuck! Rachel!" Noah shouts. Quinn glares ice at her. She snickers in response.
"Down boy. Keep it in your pants until you're upstairs." She motions with her head towards his apartment doors and he flips her off before opening the door, wobbling out. They drive off once they're inside, laughing all the way to their own apartment.
She goes to the fridge and pulls out a bottle of water before turning to see Finn still standing near the front door. She walks out to him. "Finn?"
"We had fun tonight, right?" He blurts out. She nods.
"It was almost like old times." He smiles sadly. She walks over to him and rests her hand on his arm.
"That's a good thing, right?" She asks.
"Is it?" He's hopeful, his eyes staring at her lips then back to her eyes.
After a minute, she pushes herself on her tiptoes and kisses him. Her kisses her back softly, almost like he's afraid to until she grabs the back of his head, pushes herself against him and deepens the kiss, her tongue slipping into his mouth before she pulls away. He rubs his thumb over her cheek as he watches her.
"I'm going to, ahm, go to bed. Mercedes and Tina asked me to come down to the theatre house tomorrow. Well, later today." She laughs lightly, pulling away to walk awkwardly backwards towards her bedroom on one crutch.
He nods, watching her as she moves away.
"Good night," he says as her back brushes against her door.
"Sweet dreams." She winks and disappears inside the bedroom.
The butterflies are flying in formation and her cheek gets red but she likes it.
She likes him and she can't wait to kiss him again.
She's been home for all of nine months now. Tina and Kurt keep bringing over audition flyers and sheet music they claim are for her piano classes but are actually songs they know current productions are running. She snickers at their not-so-subtle urging. She's walking much better now, barely limping and she's even proud of the scars on her thigh. Noah drags her to self-defense classes and she drags Tina and Mercedes after the third night. Things were better.
Her friendship with Kurt was strange and amazing at the same. He was her classmate in college, they shared the stage together. He was also Finn's brother. Well, step-brother. But the way they acted, you'd never know they'd only known each other for ten years. Still, she's eternally grateful that he doesn't try to force them together; he understands that it's still somewhat strange that the man she's kinda-somewhat-dating for the past month and a half is the same man she doesn't remember agreeing to marry a year ago. Kurt doesn't push, doesn't question her, he just smiles at them a lot, like somehow he knew they'd find their way back to each other. Noah's been grinning like a Cheshire cat too lately.
It's early, like almost 3am when she's woken from sleep by a strangled yell somewhere in the house and she lays in bed, staring into the darkness. She hears Montego breathing on the floor beside her, so she knows its nothing threatening or else the dog would be barking the whole neighbourhood down.
She hears it again, a pained groan and she's out of the bed in a flash when she realizes it's coming from Finn's room. She hurries towards him and pushes the door in. Finn is lying in bed, the sheets tangled by his legs. His t-shirt is wet, his hair plastered to his forehead and he's breathing in struggled gasps as he clutches at his chest. He's fast asleep.
He cries out again and her heart clenches, she runs over to him and climbs into the bed by his head, grabbing a towel from over the bathroom door as she passes and pulls his head onto her lap.
He's still making pained noises but his breathing eases just a little, his brows creased in sleep. She wipes the wetness from his face, not surprised to see that he's crying and she strokes his face as she brushes his hair back. He won't wake up and she's trying not to freak out so as her fingers trace the marks on his face she coos the words Steve Perry made famous
two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy of rediscovering you
His breathing occasionally gets better, his cries ebb and his hands unclench. She stays there a while longer though, because even though she has a full day ahead and needs her entire rest, somehow she knows Finn needs her there more. So she stays until he's breathing easy, his features relaxed, then slips away back to her own bed.
She's curled up in the booth at the café he meets her for lunch later on that day. He brings her two more audition sheets and taps the Mamma Mia! one with a determined look in his eyes.
He looks up from his sketchpad.
"Did you know Finn has nightmares?"
His face falls a bit and he sighs, pushing his pencil away as he nods. "Yes. From the fire he was in about a year and some months ago. The floor caved in above and trapped him and two other firemen, Finn was holding up a beam that had fallen on one of the others and they were having a hard time getting in to them."
She looks at him, urging him to go on, her brown eyes wide as they bore into his. He fidgets with the napkins as he continues, "When they finally reached them, after they pulled Graham out, Finn's arms gave out, and he passed out from the exhaustion, and hit his head hard. He was unconscious for some time and they kept him overnight on oxygen and taped up some bruised ribs. It wasn't so bad, in the end, but he told me afterwards that he was scared that he'd never make it out and he'd never see you again."
She's afraid to breathe.
"He's had that nightmare a few times, but they kinda stopped."
She doesn't say anything.
"How'd you find out?"
"He was screaming last night. In his sleep. Clutching his chest and crying."
"What did you do?"
"I crawled into bed with him. Wiped his face and sang Faithfully to him." She's embarrassed to say, but it's Kurt, and he may laugh, but she knows he's not being unkind.
Kurt's eyes are wide and she wipes at her face thinking there's something there. He reaches over and covers his hand with hers.
"You did the same thing that night in the hospital room," he says, tears brimming in eyes. "You crawled into bed and held his hand and sang the same song over and over while he slept. You didn't go home the four days he was there and funny enough, you guys moved in together a couple days after they released him."
Kurt laughed lightly, brushing his tears away and smiled at her when she did the same. "You told him someone needed to look after him since they were obviously not doing it at work. Nelson and Sam were embarrassed!"
She laughed, shaking her head. "Yea, that sounds like me."
They were quiet for a while. She watches the steam from the cup in front her as Kurt watches her.
"He doesn't know. I went back to my room long before he woke up," she says.
"Rachel. The last time he had that nightmare, was the first night you were in the hospital. He fell asleep on the chair beside you and Carole had to wake him." She stares at him.
"I don't know if he ever told you, because knowing my brother he can be thick-headed as a stack of phone books. He was scared that he was going to lose you. And maybe it's not as bad as it could have been, but, it some strange way, he still did."
"He's not going to lose me." She surprises herself with that. But she knows it's true. She's not going anywhere and it was silly for her to believe she didn't want him in her life.
"He's not going to lose me," she repeats. She gazes back to the Mamma Mia! audition sheet in front of her and Kurt doesn't miss the way her finger goes to her neck, absently toying with the ring on her chain. She'd put it on earlier that morning.
He has the night off. She had a doctor's appointment earlier and they were pleased with her progress. Eleven months since her attack and even though she never regained those missing memories, she has no complaints. She's doing better, well physically at least.
She dug up her papers from her final college years and her, Tina and Kurt, and sometimes Finn, watched every single taped performance she'd ever done. She smiles every time she sees Finn in the audience. He'd been to almost every show she'd done. She heard him breathe out amazing on more than one occasion and every time he did she'd kiss him. He blushes every time.
She made new (old) friends, found new favourite movies and music, fell in love with her dog and found the man of her dreams (again).
So tonight she wants to celebrate. She's made all his favourite dishes and even baked banana bread and got him ice cream – rocky road. He tells her it's his favourite one night when they're in the supermarket together.
She sets the table, gets dressed and takes Montego for a walk. All ten blocks towards his firehouse. A squad car keeps driving by her and she doesn't even have to ask to know her cousin is being an overprotective fool. She doesn't say anything.
"Huddy!" Sam yells behind him as soon as he sees her. He grins and scratches Montego's ears.
"How's it going Rachel?"
"I'm doing much better, Sam. Thanks for asking." Her smile is wide and he reciprocates, nodding his head at her and bids her good night when Finn comes out.
"Rach!" He looks around, "Is everything OK?" He walks up and wraps his arms around her, kissing her cheek.
She nods, breathing in the smell of him. "I'm fine. Montego and I just wanted to walk you home."
"Ten blocks? Rach, are you trying to kill me?" His face looks almost pained and she reaches up and cups his cheek. His frown falls away immediately.
"That's why I brought the dog, and my rape whistle and Noah sorta had a car following me anyway." She frowns at the last tidbit. Finn chuckles and wraps his arms around her again, lifting her off the ground to kiss her. Montego barks impatiently as he tries to step from in between them.
"Remind me to thank Puck." He laughs at her glare and kisses it away then takes her hand and pulls her towards the firehouse. "Let me get my bags and clock out. You sure you don't want us to take my truck back to the house?" He sighs as she shakes her head and rubs his thumbs over her knuckles as he leads her inside.
She greets his squad-mates and hands a container over to his Chief. "I made extra banana bread." She smiles.
"Rachel! Nice seeing you dear, you really didn't have to," the older gentleman says. He pulls her in for a hug and pats her hand as he releases her.
"I know, but if I'd left it at home Finn would've had it all and I know you like my banana bread. There's enough to go around."
The Chief smiles and thanks her. "You need to marry this one before I do, son!" He says to Finn as he comes back into the room with his duffel slung over his shoulder. Finn looks at her and she blushes. He did ask her to marry him. And then she forgot. Would he ask her again?
"It's in the stars, Chief." His smile is genuine as he kisses her hair again and shouts his goodbyes, grabbing Montego's leash as he leads them towards home.
Once they get there she pushes him towards the shower, asking him to dress up a little. She runs into her room and changes into a pretty light blue dress, slipping on a pair of diamond earrings and tying her hair into a low ponytail.
She sets out the food on the table and puts a bottle of sparkling cider on the table to chill. Finn doesn't drink, not even beer. And every time they've gone out with their friends, he never did. She thought it was because she couldn't drink since she was on medication; he'd frowned and shook his head. He hasn't had a drop of alcohol since he was 19.
She adjusts her latest blue orchid on the vase in the centre of the table and jumps as she hears him speak from behind her. She turns around and bites her lip as he walks closer. He's dressed in a navy blue shirt and dress slacks. He's wearing a tie, although his sleeves are rolled up to his elbow. It's not how he usually dresses, but it's very sexy, so much so it distracts her from what he's saying.
"Rach." She flicks her eyes back to his. He gives her his lopsided smile. "What's the occasion?"
"None." She shrugs lightly. "I had another check-up today." His smile drops.
"I'm all healed. Bruised ribs and broken bones no more. Barring the missing memories thing." She flourishes with her hands. He looks at her then walks over, running his fingertips over the raised scar at the back of her head under her short hair. He touches his other hand to her cheek.
"You are beautiful," he whispers. She covers his hand and pushes herself up to kiss him, pulling away when he tries to pull her closer.
"Food first." She winks. He nods, smile bright and pulls out her chair for her.
They laugh and talk easily over dinner. He's shovelling food into his mouth, and she can't be bothered to tell him to go slow because he's happy. His smile is wider, his eyes are brighter and every few minutes he'd reach over and brush his fingers over hers.
"I can't believe you made roast beef." He muses as he spears another mushroom, stuffing it in his mouth with the meat and potatoes.
"Well, it is your favourite, no?" she raises an eyebrow.
He pauses mid-chew and stares at her.
"You order it every time we eat out with everyone else. You do know you don't need to eat vegan just because I do."
He swallows. "You've never said that. I mean, I don't mind eating the same food you do. In the house at least."
"Well, it was hard earlier, to actually cook meat." She shakes her head. "I had to bribe Noah to taste the food to make sure it was edible. He pretty much did the same thing you just did." She points to his plate. "You men don't chew, you inhale. I don't think Quinn's feeding him properly."
Finn laughs, he leans over and kisses her cheek, wiping the gravy from her jaw.
"Just know you're brushing your teeth before you kiss me. I will not put my lips anywhere near yours with meat on your breath."
He nods again and chuckles, wrapping his palm around hers on the table.
"But you don't need to stop eating what you like to just because I don't." He stares at her, inclining his head slightly. "But don't overdo it. You need to eat healthy Finn. Stuffing your face with pizza and nachos isn't good for you."
He grins, because it's Rachel. Just like the first time.
After dinner, they move to the couch and as he finds a movie for them to watch, she puts a piece of banana bread on a plate, with a cupful of the ice cream for him. She adds some chocolate syrup and tops it with a strawberry then brings it on the tray with her plate of bread and cup of yogurt. She sits on the couch beside him and he tugs off her heels and puts her feet into his lap.
"Honestly babe," he mutters through a mouthful of ice cream, "we'll need to go running in the morning. This is too good."
Her face gets red as she stares at him. Finn does not need to go running. At all. She can't pull her eyes away from the hard planes of his shoulders, at the shirt bunched over his muscles as he moves and the angles of his jaw as he eats.
Finn Hudson is a very beautiful man. Messy hair, freckled cheeks and all. That much she's seen in the past few months.
He gets up when he's done eating, gently pushing her feet way as he does, snatching her plate from her hands. "Thanks babe. That was awesome. I love you." He drops a kiss on her hair and walks away.
She wonders if he realizes that he does that. He's always kissing her hair and he says he loves her like its common knowledge.
Finn Hudson is a beautiful man who happens to love her. She knows he still comes into her room right before he goes to bed and he whispers the words into the dark when he thinks she's asleep. On the days where he leaves and she's still in the house he used to shout the words as he leaves, only to stop at the door on the way out and turn to her with an awkward look on his face. Bad habit, he'd mumble.
She wishes she'd remember.
She turns to watch him put away the dishes in the dishwasher and the leftovers in the fridge. He clears the table and wipes his hand on a dishtowel then winks at her as he strolls off to his room.
He's in there a while so she turns her attention back to Funny Girl on the screen and soon he walks out running his hand over the back of his neck. He walks back to the couch and sits down, pulling her feet onto his lap again and resting his hand on the back of the couch, giving her a small smile before turning his attention back to the movie.
She can't pay attention to the TV any more than she can ignore the man sitting beside her. She doesn't want to.
"Finn," she calls. He turns his head to her and she takes a hold of his tie and pulls him closer.
"Did you enjoy dinner?" He nods, his gaze on her lips.
"Good. And dessert?" He swallows and nods again, his eyes flickering back to her face. Warm amber eyes bore into hers. He needs to shave, but she finds his scruffy jaw even sexier so she closes the gap and presses her lips to his. He tastes like toothpaste and mouthwash and she giggles into the kiss, scratching the scruff at his jaw.
"Thank you for dinner. And dessert," he says against her hips.
She grins and wraps her hands around his neck. "You're welcome. Less talking."
He smiles against her lips. "Yes ma'am."
This kiss is different. Hard and insistent as she twirls her tongue in his mouth and sucks his bottom lip between hers. He adjusts her on the couch, his hard body above hers on the cushions and his hands are everywhere, hot on her skin and seeking.
He picks her up and leads her to her bedroom, kicking the door closed behind him and he drops her onto the bed, pressing her into the mattress.
He pulls away as her hand tries to tug his shirt from his pants, grabbing hers. The only light is from the moon outside and she can barely make out his eyes, but he rests his forehead against hers. "Are you sure Rach?"
"Yes," she breathes. She wants this. It's been too long since she's been with anyone – with him. They've kissed before, but it never went beyond that and they always went to sleep in separate rooms. But she wants this, and she kisses him again to prove it.
He peels the dress from her body and kisses her skin as it is revealed. She undresses him, her fingers moving over him as he tosses their clothes aside. Lips moving, hands seeking, bodies pressed close, all breathy moans and sighs she lets him love her.
Yea, so maybe she doesn't remember everything she probably should, but she knows the little things. And that is that Finn loves her. And she's positively sure she loves him. She's sure that's what this feeling is: her heart beating impossibly fast, wanting to burst into song every time she sees him, blushing every time he touches her and just wanting to keep this feeling of him pressing into her over and over again.
"I love you." She looks up at him and his smile spreads, his eyes glistening and he nods, pressing kisses to her face whispering I love you every time his lips taste her skin.
So, she doesn't remember their first first time, but this second first time? It's awesome. It leaves her breathless. And she tells him. Well, she tries to.
"Puck!" Finn shouts and he promptly leans over and punches her cousin on the shoulder so hard that he falls off the couch arm to the floor, laughing loudly. "Dude, did you really have to tape us?"
Noah's laughing too hard to answer and she's trying to pay attention to what's going on on the screen. What was supposed to be a SAW marathon – so much so that Mercedes, Tina and Kurt already had pillows pressed under their chins – but instead of blood, guts and gore (hiding in Finn's chest is becoming one of her new favourite things) there's a video of Finn, and her, on a rooftop.
"Dude, does the word privacy mean nothing to you?" Finn seethes, glaring daggers at Noah.
"C'mon! You tell us you really want to have dinner with Rachel on the rooftop and I'm supposed to leave you alone? Hell no."
"Asshole," Finn mutters.
She ignores them, too engrossed in Finn singing to her on video.
"It's kind of a good thing we did, though." She hears Artie say quietly and she doesn't need to look around to know that everyone is staring at her. She can feel the wetness on her cheeks.
On screen she's dancing with Finn, and even though he's mostly shuffling and trying to avoid stepping on her feet, she's laughing, and she sounds happy, she looks happy, despite the jagged movements of the video.
You don't even know how very special you are
You leave me breathless
'Wuss. Can't believe Huddy is singing a chick song to my cousin – OW!' Noah's mutters off-camera.
'Not because you have the emotional range of a peanut, Puckerman. Shut up, if Finn sees us, you can run, I can't.' Artie hisses.
She chuckles in spite of herself.
'You really think he's gonna propose dude?' Sam asks.
'He better. He's practically been burning a hole in his pocket with his grandmother's ring.' Mike pipes up.
"Wait, was everyone there?" Finn mutters. She reaches behind her and puts a hand over his mouth.
She wants to hear everything. Her hand goes to the ring she's wearing on a chain around her neck, he wouldn't take it from her when she offered it back; he says it's always been hers, even if she doesn't want him.
She's never been happier to be wrong.
On camera her face is buried into Finn's chest, her fingers curled into his shirt and Finn's hands are resting on her hips as he sings the words softly into her hair.
You just walked out of one of my dreams
The words of the song. From her own dream. The one she's had every night since she saw Finn.
She's full out crying now, not sure if she can really understand what's going on.
"Rach, wh-?" Finn starts and she shuts him up again, putting her hand back over his mouth.
On screen she's crying too, looking down at Finn on one knee. Someone grunts off camera, a muffled curse, the camera shakes before settling again, zooming in on her face. Finn is actually crying too as he tries to get the words out, it's too low to hear but Artie turns up the volume and she mutters thanks, her hand moving from Finn's mouth to his shoulder, gripping him tightly.
'So, I know we haven't been together that long, and I know you said you wanted to wait until you were 25, already a Tony-winning actress before you got married, but, ah… all that's inevitable, but Rachel, you're literally the best thing to ever happen to me. You believe in me, you support me, you love my family, even Kurt and I love you. I am so in love with you Rachel Barbra Berry and I know you love me and I promise, for every single day you let me love you, I'll do my best to protect you, to believe in you and support you. I'll be there for every show you have, front seat with the loudest cheer and I'll beat up every single critic who says one thing wrong about you. I could say a million and one things more but I'll save them for the days you'll spend with me. Rachel, star of Broadway and my heart, will you do me the honour of being my wife?'
She reacts pretty much the same way she does on camera, falling against Finn and sobbing against his chest.
On camera she can see her lips moving and she knows she must be saying yes because Finn beams, wrapping his arms around her and practically shouting with joy.
Whoever's behind the camera is trying to muffle their own glee and the camera is shaking too much and all she can see is herself wrapped in Finn's arms before it cuts off entirely.
The room is eerily silent and she lifts her head to see everyone else has left. She looks up at Finn and he's staring at her, a strange look on his face, his eyes searching hers.
All this time she thought it was just a dream, the rooftop and that song. Every day since she woke up they'd be dancing at the corners of her mind. The doctors always said she may never remember those months she'd lost of her life and she knows she's misses the memories of falling in love with Finn the first time, but this second time, it's fantastic and her heart literally sings every time she sees him, and she wonders how she even forgot him the first time.
Then she realizes she didn't. She couldn't. He's always been a part of her dreams, even when she didn't actually know it.
She touches his cheek, smiling as he lifts his hand to cover hers.
"I dreamt about you," she says quietly. "The rooftop, the song. Almost every day since I woke up."
His eyes are wide as he watches her.
"It's the only thing I can remember actually, that and the smell of blue orchids."
"I gave you blue orchids the first time we met," he murmurs, his fingers rubbing over her hand. She smiles.
"I can't believe I forgot you."
"Come on, Rach. Don't do this to yourself."
"Finn, I love you," she says suddenly.
He blinks. She's said it before, after they started dating again, after he took her home to see his parents as his girlfriend, again. And she'd meant it all those times before too. But knowing, and seeing the proof that he really, really, does love her reaffirms her statement.
"I love you," she repeats.
He bends and touches his lips to hers, her hand tugging on his ear as she kisses him. This is familiar; this is them; this feels like something she's been doing all her life and something she'll be glad to do for the rest of theirs.
She pulls away, reaching her fingers to the clasp of her chain and taking his hand and dropping his mother's ring onto his palm.
"Ask me again."
Finn blinks back tears as she stares up at him. He'd still managed to love her in the past fourteen months. He never gave up. He told her she still loved him, she just didn't know it at the time and he would stay for as long as it took for her to realize. She'd argued, fought and done everything to push him away and he stayed.
"Ask me," she urges when he's still frozen.
He shakes the hesitance from his face and takes a deep breath. He glances back at the screen and back to her.
if our love was a story book
We would meet on the very first page
The last chapter would be about
How I'm thankful for the life we've made
He sings, brushing the tears from her face. "Rachel, I want to write a second, better story with you. Will you marry me?"
"Yes." Her voice is clear this time and she holds her tears back until he slips the ring onto her finger - again - and she swears this time she's not taking it off. She tells him this and he laughs, gripping her face in his hands and capturing her lips, their tears mixing with their kiss. Vaguely, somewhere in the background she can hear their friends hollering. She ignores them.
"Thank you. Again," he murmurs.
That word seems to be popping up in her conversations lately and she nods shyly because whilst she doesn't remember the stories they've shared with her, she doesn't mind being reminded. 'Again' is slowly becoming another favourite word of hers.
She kisses him. Again. And again. Because she can. He's her fiancé. And its kinda better the second time around.
They both look around to see Noah. With a video camera pointed straight at them.
Finn curses, his head falling back onto the couch. She giggles, because this is just like Noah, and she remembers that much. And just in case she forgets it, at least there is proof of this moment.
Finn gently pushes her aside then lunges at Noah and she laughs at them and harder still when everyone else comes back in to see what's going on. Tonight is a special memory she realizes, because the sight of Finn holding Noah's arms locked behind his head is simply priceless. And she's pretty sure that didn't happen the first time.
A/N: So there you have it. Amnesia, 0 – Love, 1.
Song is 'Breathless' by Shayne Ward.
While writing this, the missing 26 months of Rachel's life just started flashing across my mind, so I gave in and started a series of one-shots, last pages from a journal, and as always everyone's a star, even though it's Rachel Berry, she wouldn't be who she was without the rest of Glee along for the journey. So, go read.
Reviews are like gold stars, you can never have enough.