this story is for jenna, who requested angst. i suppose it's my take on what might happen in season four, although of course i have no idea what's actually in store!

there is a lot of angst ahead though so be warned

also dedicated to my angel snowflake princess mary gael for being an awesome friend all the time etc etc

title is from the song 'poison and wine' by the civil wars

i don't love you, but i always will

Kurt moves to New York in September to pursue an internship at a fashion magazine, and it's not long before he and Rachel buy an apartment together.

Things are going well, she thinks. She's doing fine at NYADA, getting into the swing of things. She knows how things work now, knows that she can be okay here.

She tries to forget about Finn, about how she set her free at the train station. Part of her is glad he did, and the other part is still extremely upset with him. He hasn't called, hasn't texted, hasn't even acknowledged her since she got to New York.

(He said he still loves her, and she knows he meant that. But then why did he make her leave him behind? Doesn't he realize this hurts her, too?)

She focuses on NYADA and her starring role in a school production of Oklahoma! and decorating her new apartment with Kurt. She tries not to think about Finn at all.

(That's easier said than done.)

She takes off the ring after it's been nearly five months since he put her on the train and left for Georgia. She hasn't spoken to him during that time, but she's guessing he doesn't consider them engaged anymore, so she shouldn't consider them to be either.

She tucks it away in her jewelry box that sits on her nightstand, and she tries not to think about it, tries not to cry just thinking about Finn and the promises he made.

Obviously, he didn't believe in his own words, so she was a fool for believing in them as well. He said they were going to get married. And now she's here in New York City and he's God knows where. She knows that he set her free to reach her dreams, but what if that's not even it at all? Surely he would have realized that somewhere along the way, her dreams changed.

As long as he's not with her, she can't possibly reach her dreams, because he was part of her dreams as well.

She's been in New York for a total of five months when Kurt says he has a surprise for her. She assumes it's tickets to a Broadway show or something of the like, so the last thing she expects to come home to is Finn Hudson in her living room. This definitely isn't what she had in mind.

"Hi," Finn says, standing up from the couch and giving her a small smile that tugs on the corner of his mouth.

Kurt's nowhere to be seen.

She stares at him, her arms folded across her chest. That's all she can do for a few minutes: stare. She's angry, so incredibly angry at him, and she doesn't know what to do with herself.

"Rach," he says weakly, taking a step toward her. "Please, say something."

She doesn't think; she just lunges, hitting every inch of him she can reach.

"Ow! Rach, what're you—"

"You're an asshole!" she screeches. "You told me you were enlisting in the army, Finn!" She whacks his arm – "You broke up with me and then you put me on a train!" – hits him on the chest – "You left me, Finn! You hurt me!" She slaps him across the face then, his head snapping to the side.

She stops, her breathing still heavy. A red handprint is visible on his cheek.

She's about to say she's sorry, but she bites her lip, because she's not. He deserves it.

"Rachel," he says, but she shakes her head, slowly backing away.

"No," she tells him. "I – I don't know why you're here, Finn, but I – I'm not okay with it." She turns her back on him as she heads down the hallway toward her bedroom. She sees Kurt peering at her from behind his own cracked door.

"I'm mad at you, too," she tells him shortly.

"Just give me a chance to explain—"

She slams her door shut before he can say anything else.

She can hear every word they're saying.

"She seems really upset—"

"You think, Kurt? She hates me."

"No, she doesn't. She's just – she's hurt, Finn."

"I just did what's best for her! How does that make me the bad guy here? I was just trying to get her here, even though I couldn't follow her."

Her heart gives a pang. She doesn't want to think he had good reasons. It makes it harder to stay mad at him. She's been here for five months; what gives him the right to come back just when she thinks she might be okay?

"Finn, I know that," she hears Kurt saying exasperatedly, "but maybe you staying here isn't the best idea, at least until she cools off—"

"Where am I supposed to go, Kurt?" His voice breaks. Her heart gives another small pang. (So maybe she doesn't hate him. She wants to, though. She wants to so badly.) "You know I don't have anywhere else to go."

Kurt sighs. "How long are you staying, Finn?"

There's a beat of silence, then he says, "As long as it takes for her to forgive me."

Rachel scoffs then, turning over so she's lying on her stomach, and she jams her iPod earbuds into her ears. He's going to be here for a long time, because she's not planning on forgiving him any time soon.

Finn's sleeping on the couch when she heads out into the living room the next morning, his hands curled around the blanket, his fingers clutching the fabric tightly. His mouth is open, and he's snoring, and she tries to remind herself that she's mad at him, and the sight of him asleep actually isn't adorable.

He groans, turning over in his sleep, and she frowns. She doesn't want him to wake up and see her watching him. She's definitely not ready to forgive him yet, and that means she still doesn't care to hear what he has to say.

She moves past him and to the door, letting herself out of the apartment, letting the door snap shut behind her. She lets out a sigh of relief, leaning against the wood. Her eyes flutter closed.

She doesn't know why, but just being in the same room as him still makes her knees go weak. She wants to get over that, to be able to forget that feeling, the way he makes butterflies flutter in her abdomen. She hates that she wanted nothing more than to brush his hair out of his eyes, to lean down and press her lips against his forehead.

He gave her up, and he has to accept that.

She won't just let him walk back in and get her to fall in love with him again. She can't let that happen.

(Even though she never really stopped loving him in the first place.)

Finn's seemingly gone when she gets home from school, and she lets out a sigh of relief, setting her keys down on the kitchen counter. Kurt comes hesitantly in, not missing the glare she sends his way.

"I'm sorry—" he starts, but she quickly cuts him off.

"You should be! Why would you do this to me, Kurt? Why would you just let him back in here, thinking I'd run back into his arms?"

"You've been miserable, Rachel!" he says exasperatedly. "I know you put on this brave face, but we both know you've been miserable without Finn."

"That's not—"

"Don't act like it's not true, Rachel. I've heard you crying at night, when you think I'm asleep."

She's silent then. She didn't think he knew about that.

"Look," Kurt says, his voice quiet, "Just give Finn a chance to explain—"

"No," she says harshly. "I'm not letting him just waltz back in here expecting everything to magically be alright—"

"He just wants a chance to explain!"

She eyes Kurt warily.

"He loves you, Rachel, that's why he did what he did."

"If he loved me," she whispers, "he would've come with me. Or he would've taken me to Georgia. He wouldn't have lied to me about the army, and he wouldn't have let me do this by myself."

Before Kurt can say anything else, she pushes past him and into the living room, where Finn's sitting on the couch. She stops for a moment, and he just looks at her.

She knows he heard every word she said.

She swallows, then she presses on, into her room. She doesn't slam the door this time, just lets it click shut behind her.

She collapses onto her bed, curling up into a ball and squeezing her eyes shut. She doesn't want to think of the hurt look on Finn's face, the pain in his eyes, but it's all she sees behind her closed eyelids.

Three days later, Finn's still camped out in the living room. Kurt reminds her that the sooner she listens to him, the sooner he leaves, and finally, she gives in.

She wanders out into the living room, a hand perched on her hip, lips pursed.

"Hi," she says bluntly, her voice sharp and cold.

His head snaps up, his eyes growing wide. He hasn't shaved, his cheeks are scruffy, and his hair is sticking up in all directions. "Hi," he says slowly, almost as if he's testing it out. Clearly, he thinks she'll realize who she's talking to and will stop talking at any moment.

"I understand you have some things to say," she says.

He nods.

"So say them."

He swallows, licking his lips, his eyes never leaving hers. "I – You have to know that I really do love you, Rachel."

She rolls her eyes, but she bites her lip to keep from saying anything.

"I really do!" he says defensively. "Like, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me, but I – I had to make you come here. It wasn't fair to you, staying behind for me, and you know it. Plus, I was heading to Fort Benning—"

"You don't have to lie to me anymore," she says shortly, her voice sounding sharp even to her own ears. "It's pretty obvious you didn't join the army."

"I never said I was going to," he says quietly. "You just assumed, and I let you."

She swallows the growing lump in her throat. "Same thing," she mutters.

If he hears her, he ignores her as he presses on, "I – I had to try to clear my dad's name, Rach, and you were meant to come here, not on a wild goose chase with me—"

"That wasn't your decision to make," she cuts in hotly.

"Rachel, don't you see? I was trying to do what was best for you—"

"You don't get to decide what's best for me!" she shouts. Her hands are shaking, and her blood is pounding in her ears. "You were what's best for me, Finn, and you left!"

"Rachel, please—"

"No," she says, sniffing and wiping at the tears streaming down her cheeks. "I – I listened to you, and you had your chance to explain, so—"

"You didn't let me finish!"

She stares at him for a second, and she swallows the bile that threatens to come up her throat. "I heard enough, Finn, okay? I just – I can't feel this way about you anymore. I've cried over you for the past five months, and I can't pretend like none of this happened. I can't just go back. You hurt me, and – and I can't just give you my heart again. It's not that easy, and you can't expect that of me. It's too much, and I just can't handle it."

He looks like he wants to say something else, but this time, instead of her leaving, he does. He gets up off the couch, gives her one last look, and then walks straight out the door.

She's breathing heavily even after the door slams shut, and she thought she would feel relieved when he left. She doesn't. She just feels nauseous.

She begins to cry in earnest, sliding down the wall until she's hugging her knees to her chest, crying into the denim of her jeans. She hates that she still needs him, still wants him.

She hates that she's pushing him away, but she doesn't know what else to do. She can't just take him back, but now that he's here, she doesn't want him to leave, either. She wants to be strong, to move on, but at the same time, she just wants him to hug her, to kiss her hair and tell her it'll be okay.

She knows she can't have it both ways, so she just cries, sobs wracking her entire body. She cries until Kurt comes home an hour later, and he doesn't even ask any questions, just gives her a hug, helping her into her room.

She cries herself to sleep that night, and she doesn't hear Finn come back in.

Finn does come back, though, and it doesn't seem like he's giving up that easily. He cooks her breakfast two mornings later, and she gives him a tight smile before saying "no, thank you" and quickly heading out the door.

He sends her flowers at the rehearsal for her show, and they're orchids (her favorite), so it kills her to throw them away. She doesn't even look at the card, because if she looks, she might cry, and she just had her makeup done.

"From an admirer?"

She looks up to see Stan, the male lead in her show, watching her with an inquisitive eyebrow raised.

She clears her throat. "Something like that," she allows.

"Why'd you throw them away?"

She laughs darkly. "It's… complicated."

He shrugs, taking a step toward her. "I like complicated."

She swallows as he inches even closer. He's looking at her in a way that suggests he has more than friendship on his mind, and it makes Rachel's heart pound.

"You might have another admirer, you know," he murmurs.

She lets her eyelids flutter shut for a moment before she looks up at him from beneath her lashes. "Is that so?"

He nods. "Let me take you out tomorrow night, okay?"

Wordlessly, she nods.

"Good." He leans down and presses a kiss against her cheek. Her skin grows warm as he pulls away, and he shoots her a smile as he leaves the dressing room. Once he's gone, she runs her fingers over the smooth skin of her cheek, touching the spot where his lips were previously. They felt foreign.

She can't decide if it's a good or a bad thing. She supposes she'll find out.

Unsurprisingly, Finn is not happy when he finds out Rachel has a date. He sulks around the apartment, shoots her dirty looks, but she just pointedly ignores him.

"Finn, please don't slam down the cereal bowl. We can't exactly afford new ones," Kurt snaps.

Rachel glances over to see Finn glaring at her. She shouldn't have told Kurt about her date. She should've known he'd tell Finn.

"Can you stop staring, please?" she snaps. She glances at the clock. Stan should be here in a matter of minutes.

"This is stupid, Rach," she hears Finn say (even though she's doing her best to ignore him). "Do you even like this guy?"

"Not that it's any of your concern," she snaps, pointedly keeping her stare trained on the clock instead of him, "but yes, I do like Stan."

Finn snorts.

She turns to glare at him. "What?"

"Is that his name?" Finn asks, quirking an eyebrow. "Stan?"

Rachel's eyes narrow into slits. "Why, do you have a problem with the name Stan?"

"No, I have a problem with Stan coming in and – and seducing my girl!"

Rachel stands, the wooden legs of her chair screeching against the linoleum. "You don't get to call me that anymore, Finn Hudson," she hisses. "You lost the right to call me that when you sent me away. So don't you dare try to ruin this for me. I don't belong to you, and I'm going out with Stan, and I'm going to have a good time, no matter what you say to try and ruin this for me!"

She leaves then to wait in the living room. She's so angry she can barely see straight. What gives him the right to act like a jealous boyfriend?

Kurt's voice echoes in her head: He still cares about you.

She huffs. If he cared, he'd just want her to be happy. And obviously, that's not the case.

She manages to intercept Stan at the door, quickly ushering him back out into the hallway before Finn can come in and most likely berate him some more.

"I don't get to see your apartment?" he teases.

She sets her mouth in a firm line. "No."

He frowns, picking up on her tone. "Oh."

She feels a bit guilty, but there's no simple way to tell him about Finn, especially when she's still unsure about how she feels about the situation herself. She still cares about him, she knows that much, but she doesn't want to care. And maybe that makes all the difference.

Stan takes her to a quaint little Italian place a few blocks away, and she can talk with him, which is nice, and the conversation flows naturally enough. She even laughs a few times, but her thoughts keep straying back to Finn, who's probably sulking in the apartment.

He wouldn't be jealous if he didn't care about her, right? Maybe he really did care enough to send her away, even if it would him as much as it would hurt her. Maybe he just wanted what was best for her after all.

"Hey," Stan says quietly once they're waiting for the check. He reaches across the table, his fingers brushing the back of her hand. "Is everything alright?"

She nods, plastering a smile on her face. "Yeah, of course!" He's still looking at her, his gaze probing, so she adds, "I've had a lovely time. Really."

"Me, too," he murmurs, and his thumb begins to rub back and forth on her skin. Her heart pounds, and she's not sure if it's the good kind of heart-racing. He's inching closer to her, across the table, and she feels her eyelashes flutter. She stops breathing for a moment. He's going to kiss her, and she's going to let him.

His lips gently touch hers, and she lets her eyes fall closed. They're warm and soft, but they don't feel right. Actually, when he's kissing her, she doesn't feel anything at all.

It's weird, feeling nothing but his mouth pressed against hers – no feeling, no fire that starts in her stomach and spreads throughout her body – but when she pulls away, she smiles, because he's given her one thing, and that's a sense of clarity.

"Thank you," she whispers.

Stan furrows his brow. "For what?"

"Just…" She's still beaming as she stands up. "Just thank you. I've got to go, but I'll see you around, okay?"

She turns and leaves then, because she has to get back to the apartment right away, has to share her revelation. She ignores Stan when he calls her name, just pushes the door to the restaurant open and heads out into the cool night air.

She touches a finger to her lips as she walks back to the apartment. She felt nothing, and that means everything.

Kurt and Finn are watching a movie when she walks through the door, and Kurt turns to look at her when she shuts the door behind her.

"How was your date?" Finn asks flatly.

He looks so sad, so lost, his mouth trained in a line as he watches the television. He doesn't even look over at her.

"Kurt," she says, giving him a small smile, "can you excuse us for a second?"

Kurt's eyes widen, but he hastily stands up, saying, "Yeah, um… yeah! I'll just… be back in my room…"

She knows that he'll have his ear up against the door, trying to hear what they're saying, but he goes nonetheless.

Finn finally looks over at her, muting the tv. "Here to tell me about how perfect your date was and how Stan's actually the love of your life?"

She sighs, sitting down next to him on the couch, her body facing his. "Finn, don't do that."

"I'm not doing anything, Rachel! I'm not the one throwing everything we had away like it didn't matter! I mean, I didn't exactly expect you to wait for me, but… a part of me thought… wished you would. And that's not fair of me, I know," he adds hastily, "but I thought that – that feelings like the ones I have for you, and the ones you had for me, just couldn't… disappear like that. I mean, we were gonna get married, Rachel." He swallows, and she notices his eyes are glistening. "I meant that. I wasn't lying to you." Her heart gives a little pang.

"I really thought I was doing the right thing by letting you go," he says softly, and she can tell his voice is about to break.

She reaches over to squeeze his knee. "I know," she assures him.

He gives her a weird look. "You didn't believe me three days ago, but now you know?"

She nods. "I – I mean, I know it probably doesn't make much sense, but… when I was on my date with Stan… everything was going great. He was great. And he – he kissed me."

She sees Finn blanch. "Jesus, Rachel, I don't want to hear this—"

"No," she says quietly, and she traces his cheek with her fingertips, feeling the light stubble on his skin. "Please, just… hear me out."

He pauses, but then, slowly, he nods. "Okay."

"Stan kissed me, and you know what I felt?"

He just looks at her, the pain evident in his eyes.

"I felt nothing."

"Look, Rach, I get – wait, what?"

The corner of her mouth quirks upward in a smile. "I felt nothing," she repeats.

Finn bites the inside of his mouth, and he scoots slightly closer to her. "And so that means…?"

She smiles, cupping his cheeks in her hands. "It means that the only person who can make me feel like I'm on fire but in a good way, feel something so – so astronomical, so pure with just a simple kiss, that person is you. It always has been and it always will be."

She sees the grin spread across his face, and then he's kissing her, and boy, can she feel that, feel it through her veins, throughout her entire body. She pulls away after a moment, and his eyes are still shut, his lips slightly swollen.

She smiles, pressing her forehead against his. "I'm so sorry, Finn," she murmurs.

"Don't be," he mutters back, and then he's kissing her again.

She knows that they still have so much to talk about, but they have time. She smiles against his mouth as she realizes that. They really do have time. For now, he's not going anywhere.

His hand grips the back of her neck and she just melts into him.

Finally, for the first time, New York truly feels like home.

She wakes up to the sound of a scream. She blearily opens her eyes, and she feels Finn's arms tighten around her. She blinks up at Kurt, who's standing in the doorway, his hands over his eyes.

"I don't know what's happening but I can see more of both of you than I could ever care to see," he says, his words rushed and tumbling over each other.

"Then stop looking," Finn grumbles, and he moves Rachel's hair aside so he can press his face against the smooth skin of her neck. She giggles, rubbing her behind against him. He growls, nipping lightly at her skin.

"Oh, God," Kurt groans, "please stop."

"I thought you wanted us to resolve our differences?" Rachel asks innocently. "To essentially kiss and make up?"

"Yeah, but I didn't expect things to escalate this quickly!"

"We're still in love with each other, Kurt," Finn says, and Rachel can feel the vibrations of his voice against her skin. "Some things just don't change."

"So… you're back together?"

Rachel grins. "Almost as if we were never apart."

She squeals as Finn presses a sloppy kiss against her cheek.

Kurt mutters "Oh, God" again, but then he leaves, shutting the door behind him. Rachel laughs as Finn hovers over her, pressing kisses anywhere he can reach: her nose, her cheeks, her eyelids, and finally, her mouth.

She feels him pressing against her stomach, and as his fingers find their way between her legs, she whispers, "I love you."

She knows he knows, but it feels good to just be able to say the words again, just because she can. She definitely won't be taking that phrase for granted.

His eyes shine brightly, but he just grins and says he loves her, too, and then he shows her just how much.

Finn and Kurt both come to see her play on opening night. She spots them both in the front row, and she sees that Finn has a bouquet of flowers in his hands, and her heart does a few somersaults.

(She just really loves him, and she wonders how she could've ever denied otherwise, how she could've thought she could forget about him. He's unforgettable, and he loves her so. It makes her stomach swoop and smile so hard it hurts.)

Afterwards, they both come to her dressing room, and Kurt hugs her first, assuring her that her performance was perfect, that she made him cry, and oh, she's going to be Broadway one day, he just knows it!

Rachel beams as she hugs him back, and then she turns to Finn.

"Hi," he says with a smile, brandishing the flowers. (Orchids, her favorite). His dimples are showing, and she thinks she could melt on the spot. "You were amazing, Rach."

She throws her arms around him, kissing him square on the mouth, getting her makeup all over his face. He just laughs, catching her and kissing her back, the flowers still in one hand, the other firmly grasping her waist.

She hears a throat being cleared behind her, and she reluctantly breaks away from Finn, expecting to see Kurt looking at them distastefully. Stan's standing there instead, and, if possible, he looks more disgusted than Kurt ever could.

"O – Oh," she says, surprised because she honestly didn't expect to see him in her dressing room. Finn's hand doesn't move from her waist. "Hi, Stan."

Finn's fingers curl into her side.

Stan just gives her a confused stare.

"Oh, how rude of me!" she squeaks, and she gestures to Finn. "Finn, this is Stan, the – the Curly to my Laurey. And Stan, this is Finn, my fiancé."

She feels a familiar jolt in her stomach as she calls him that once more, and it feels nice. It feels right.

"Since when do you have a fiancé?" Stan asks, hurt evident in his voice.

Rachel swallows. "Well, we – we weren't together for a while, but…" She glances up at Finn, who's watching Stan with a frown on his face, a muscle tensing in his jaw. "But I've loved him since I was fifteen years old, and that's not going to change anytime soon."

Stan just stares at them both stonily.

"I'm sorry if I led you on—"

"Whatever, Rachel," he sighs. "It's – it's whatever." He turns to go then, but he pauses at the doorway. He turns back to add, "I'm glad you're happy."

She glances back up at Finn. Now he's smiling down at her, his lips quirked upward. "Yeah, me, too."

And she is. She's the happiest she's been in a long time.

Finn officially moves in with her and Kurt a few days later, his stuff from Ohio shipped to the big city. He tells Rachel about his time in Georgia, about how he learned more about his dad.

"I couldn't get the discharge changed because too much time has passed," he says regretfully, but she just rubs his arm comfortingly. "I talked to some of his friends, though," he adds, and this makes him look more cheerful.

"I'm sure he was a man to be proud of," Rachel says quietly.

Finn nods. "He was." He plays with the ring Rachel's now taken to wearing again around her finger. "I like to think that he'd be proud of me, of my choices."

Rachel presses a kiss against his shoulder. "He would," she assures him. She kisses his cheek. "You're a great man, Finn. You don't just make the easy choice. You make the right one."

Slowly, he nods. "Like – like driving you to the train station."

She has to squeeze his arm to assure herself that he's still here – that she's not going to wake up to find him gone and that all of this, the past few days, have been a dream – but slowly, she nods. "Yes, like that. It – it wasn't easy on either of us, and I resented you for it for a while, but now I know that it was actually best for us both. Because it led us both to where we are now, this moment, and this moment's pretty perfect if you ask me."

He laces his fingers with hers. "I think so, too," he murmurs.

She smiles, and then she asks him where he wants to go for dinner. This is the future she wanted all along: to be here, in New York, with Finn, the boy she loves, the boy she plans to marry. Sure, they took a little detour and it took a bit longer to get to the point they're at, but they got here after all.

All in all, weighing the both the good and the bad, she's sure she wouldn't change a thing.

thank you so much for reading, and if you'd take the time to review, it would be much appreciated :)