She was curled up in bed when he got home from work, her long, brown curls sprawled out behind her. She wasn't sleeping, though. She hadn't slept properly in months.
Her used-to-be warm brown eyes were dull, the healthy glow of her skin had vanished, her hair was lifeless. He wasn't greeted with a kiss and a smile.
Rachel Berry, his Rachel Berry, was gone.
She heard the front door slam shut and she winced, the sharp sound interrupting her silent thoughts. She rolled over in bed, hoping Finn wouldn't try to make conversation with her like he did every day after he got home. She never answered him, anyway.
They had gotten married her junior year of NYADA. She got a few roles on Broadway after she graduated and he became a fireman, much to her protest. It was too dangerous, she had said, but he didn't listen. She learned to be okay with it, simply because he loved it. They were crammed together in a shoebox apartment on the ninth floor, but it was okay because they loved each other. They'd spend mornings giving each other tickle attacks, their evenings filled with stolen kisses and vegan dinners and their nights with love making.
They fought sometimes. Like when Finn missed her opening night when the old shoe factory downtown caught on fire, or when they didn't have enough money so he could buy a new drum set, but he did anyway without asking her, or when she brought home that damn kitten that would always pee on his clothes.
They got through it all though, because they loved each other.
Because they loved each other.
The words sounded so foreign to her. How long had it been since they had told each other they love each other? Weeks. Months, maybe. She'd stay curled up in bed all day while he worked, he'd come home and fix himself some dinner. He had given up on trying to get her to eat, because she never did. He'd crawl in bed with her and they'd fall asleep together wordlessly. It was a routine.
What a sick routine.
She shook the thought out of her head quickly. This was how things were now. This was their lives. Together, but so seperate at the same time. Finn was Finn and Rachel was Rachel and things were fine that way.
He started drinking again on a rainy September night. She hadn't talked to him in weeks, hadn't looked at him in months. He quit trying to reach out to her, and the pain in his heart was too much to deal with while sober. So he washed it away, one gulp at a time. His pain turned to anger and his anger turned to hatred.
He hated her.
He hated her for leaving him. She was there physically, sure, but emotionally she was gone with the wind. He hated her for giving up on them. He hated her for giving up on her dreams.
He slept on the couch that night, and for the first time in his life, he cried himself to sleep.
He notices a few of her things gradually go missing, and he knows she's packing them up. He knows she's leaving him. He knows they're getting a divorce. He knows, but he doesn't feel. He's too numb to feel anything anymore.
On a cold November night, she leaves. He doesn't stop her, doesn't even say anything.
She turns to face him before she opens the door, though, and he barely recognizes her. It's the first time he's heard her voice in what feels like forever. "You're not stopping me?"
"All I do is hope."
And she was gone.
The divorce was civil. He signed a few papers and just like that, it was all over. Ten years of breaking up and getting together and proposing and accepting and wedding plans and high school and college and tickle attacks were over.
Finn was Finn and Rachel was Rachel, and they didn't need each other anymore.
It was her 27th birthday. He knew the date by heart, even if they hadn't spoken in almost two years. He still asked Kurt about her sometimes, and he'd fill him in on who she was dating and what roles she landed recently.
He went to every single opening night. He sat in the back so he was never seen. He never left her flowers or saw her after the show. She never knew he was there, and he planned to keep it that way. She was finally Rachel Berry again, the real one, full of life and energy and enough ambition for a whole crowd of people. And she was just as talented and beautiful as he remembered.
So instead of sending the text that read Happy birthday, Rach. Hope ur having a good day! :-), he deleted it, figuring some things were better left unsaid.
After three years of not speaking, he stopped asking Kurt about her. His dating became more than one night stands, and he found himself falling for a pretty blonde named Hanna. She had a cute laugh and she worked as a nurse at the hospital. She had a two year old named Ava, and Finn connected with the little girl right away. He was falling in love with Hanna, he was sure of it.
So when he looked into her blue eyes, why did he only see brown ones?
He broke up with Hanna after eight months of dating. He really liked her, he did, but he couldn't keep pretending the relationship would lead to something it wouldn't. She wasn't Rachel.
Why did everything always come back to her? The relationship ended almost four years ago and they hadn't even spoken since then. He was 29, still caught up on a girl he met when he was 16.
It made him sick.
He was getting a cup of coffee from his favorite little cafe when he saw her again.
She was standing in line, a happy little grin on her face that she got every time she got coffee, a cute little red scarf wrapped around her neck. She was so beautiful, all he wanted to do was take her up in his arms and kiss her until they forgot their awful past.
But he didn't.
He let a small, genuine smile cross his lips and cleared his throat, speaking hesitantly. "Rach? Hey!"
Her head quirked to the side and she turned around at the sound of her name being called, blinking a few times in surprise before a blinding smile radiated off of her. "Finn?" She squealed and flung her arms around him in a hug, speaking quickly. "It's so great to see you, oh my god! You look great! How are you?' She was so happy, so genuinely happy that he thought his heart was gonna burst. He missed this side of her.
The words fell out of his mouth before he could think.
"Y'wanna get some coffee with me?"
Coffee turned into... more than coffee.
He had her pressed against the door of his bedroom, his hand up her shirt as they kissed until they struggled to breathe. He scooped her up in his strong arms and laid her down on the bed, hovering over her small frame, kisses being scattered across her neck.
They undressed each other slowly, pressing gentle kisses to each inch of newly exposed skin, exploring each other, rediscovering each other.
They took it slow, soft moans and gasps and apologies filling the air. Their bodies pressed together and everything was so familiar, so right. They built up to their breaking point and moaned each other's names and collapsed against one another, holding each other close, promising to never let go again as they panted softly in the dark.
He felt her tears gently hitting his arm and he turned onto his side, pulling her closer to him, wiping them away with the pad of his thumb. He kissed the top of her head, whispering softly in her ear. "Baby, shh.. Please don't cry, it's okay. What's wrong?"
"I'm so sorry, Finn. I just.. I was so weak and I gave up on everything. It was all my fault, everything was my fault."
"Baby, no." He soothed her, stroking her long hair as he stared up at the ceiling, too dark to see in the pitch black room. "I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough for the both of us." They both went quiet after that and he sighed quietly, his hand sliding lower until it rested gently over her flat stomach, whispering in her ear. "That... That wasn't your fault either, Rach." He cleared his throat, this being the first time he ever brought up something so touchy with her. "I know you think it's your fault that we lost her, but it isn't, baby."
"Yes it is. I worked myself too-"
"No, Rachel." His voice was a little more firm this time, his fingertips brushing over the tiny tattoo of a star she had gotten in honor of their daughter, who never had the chance to come into the world. "You did everything you could." He pressed a kiss to the back of her head, and for a moment it felt as if nothing bad had ever happened to them. "You ate what you were supposed to and took vitamins and went to every single appointment. And.. And I know that Alyssa-"
"Finn, please don't-"
"Alyssa would have loved you so much, Rachel.."
"Please stop saying her name, Finn.." Her voice was a little more high pitched than normal, hysterical even, but he cut her off.
"Just like I love you."
She went silent and swallowed a little, her fingertips lacing with his as she stared at him. "Do you.. Do you think we can find our way back to each other?"
"We already have, Rach. We're already here."
They took things slow this time around.
She'd surprise him with lunch sometimes when he had a busy work day, and they'd hide in one of the old firetrucks to eat. They pretended like they were sneaky and no one never knew they were there, but her giggles and squeals were always too loud to ignore. His coworkers never said a thing, though. It was the first time they ever saw him genuinely happy.
She found a three-legged kitten stranded in the pouring rain one day. They drove twenty miles to the nearest vet and had her nursed back to health. They named her Belle, and this time, Finn never complained about the furry creature.
She bought him a drum set for his birthday, the best one he'd ever seen. He never missed an opening night.
He proposed a year later at dinner with both of their parents. She starts to cry, whispering "yes" and "I love you" over and over.
It was a small wedding this time, their closest friends and family the only ones invited. It was sweet and simple and filled with nothing but love, love, love.
During their second first dance as a married couple, he dips down to whisper in her ear, "We're gonna get it right this time." And it was true.
Because Finn was Finn and Rachel was Rachel, and no matter what, they always came back to each other.
I can live without you, but without you I'll be miserable at best.