Chapter 2 is finally here! My summer vacation is pretty much done so now i'll be able to focus more on writing.
This one is really long and i was debating whether or not i should split it into two parts but I decided not to. A lot is said in this chapter and you'll find out about Rachel's past.
Hope you all like it!
Once they arrived to the diner and gotten settled in and had their orders taken, Lily had warmed up to Finn a bit, already joking around with him or laughing at his silly jokes.
When their food arrived, the little girl dug in to her waffles, immediately getting whipped cream all around her mouth and her little lips stained red by the strawberries.
"Mmmmm. These waffles are yummy, Mr. Nice man."
Rachel laughs and corrects her.
"Sweetie, his name is Mr. Hudson."
He chuckles at the formal name, its weird when he hears it.
"You both can call me Finn, that's my first name. Mr. Hudson makes me sound like an old man, and I'm glad you like your waffles, Lily."
The little girl giggles, a piece of waffle sticking out of her mouth.
"Like fishies?" He laughs, totally confused and amused at the same time.
"Yeah, fishies have fins. And your name is Finn. Like a fishy!" For some reason repeating it makes her laugh even more. Within seconds, all three of them are laughing.
"Momma, can I go play with the game over there?" She points to an old arcade game in the corner, lit up with colorful lights.
"Ok, but just for a little bit. I only have a few quarters in my pocket."
Rachel hands the coins to Lily and she skips off happily to the other end of the small diner, hopping up and down on her feet as she begins to play. Finn smiles as he sees how excited and happy the girl gets just by playing a dumb arcade game, how much joy it brings her. It's heartwarming. He's interrupted from his thoughts by Rachel's soft voice.
"She's my entire world."
She's been mostly quiet ever since they left the office building, only smiling and laughing and replying to whatever Lily would say. He didn't want to push her to talk about anything so soon especially when it's off the clock, instead he focused on making Lily feel comfortable, not wanting her to be affected by the serious issue her mom is going through. He knows from experience how much that can screw a kid up. But now that she begins to talk he gives her his attention, listening to whatever she says.
"I can tell. I can also tell that you're her entire world too."
"Yeah, I know. We're kind of all we've got, right now."
His heart clenches a bit.
"You don't have any family around?"
Rachel looks down at her hands and shakes her head.
"I had two fathers, best parents one could ever ask for. But they were both killed in a car accident when I was in high school. I have some family members from both sides but we don't really keep in touch, especially since they live halfway across the country."
There's a moment of silence and she looks down at her hands.
"I'm sorry about your parents. That's a terrible thing to go through, especially during your teenage years. I kind of know the feeling, my dad died when I was five. He was a soldier."
She raises her head up and looks at him, eyes softening as her lips form into a consoling smile, no longer frowning.
"I'm sorry about your father too. Despite the unfortunate circumstance, it's really nice to hear someone say that. I've never really met anyone who can relate, let alone know, what it feels like."
"Yeah, well it's always good to have somebody in your corner."
Little footsteps disrupt their quiet conversation followed by frantic yelling.
"Momma! Momma! I need more quarters! Ms. Pacman got eaten by monsters again!"
Finn can't help but laugh. 'Cause seriously, a four year old girl freaking out over Pacman? Priceless.
"Sweetie, I don't have any more quarters. Besides, it's time for us to go. It's getting dark out so now we gotta go look for the shelter."
His eyebrows furrow.
"Shelter? Wait, you don't have anywhere to stay?"
Rachel looks down again and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.
"No. I haven't talked to practically all my friends since college and I don't really have a family. Remember?"
He runs his fingers through his hair as he thinks over it and lets out a breath as he reaches a decision.
"Well then you both are staying with me for the weekend."
He immediately notices her eyes widen and she begins to protest.
"What? No! We can't. We're going to the shelter, Mr. Hudson. You've done quite enough for the two of us and can continue to do so Monday morning during office hours. I won't let us be an even further inconvenience."
"Yes you will," He responds. "Not that you both are an inconvenience, cause you're not. If you haven't noticed, this is what I do for a living. I help people. Besides, it's already late, the shelter closes at 8pm and it's almost always over capacity on weekends. So you have pretty much little to no options right now. I have a decent sized apartment and live on my own; I'll gladly take the couch for the next couple days. Monday morning we can go back to the office and then figure out some other living arrangements for you two. And PLEASE, never call me Mr. Hudson again. This is the last time I'm telling you." A playful grin sits on his lips. "So what do you say?"
She sits silent, seemingly weighing out her options. Her eyes veer towards the window, looking out at the storm that assaults the city as the skies darken.
Finn sits up, not really expecting her to agree. He was fully expecting to practically carry her and Lily to his apartment by force.
Rachel nods but puts her hand up.
"But only for the weekend. First thing, and I mean first thing, Monday morning we're going to the shelter or finding another place to stay. I don't like to free load and refuse to start now."
"Alright. Fine. Well, we should get going then cause it's starting to get late and I'm pretty sure that's the fourth time Lily has yawned in the past two minutes."
They both look at the little girl who is slumped on the chair, leaning against her mother. She looks like the poster child of a sugar crash and like she's five minutes away from completely passing out. Finn leaves a twenty dollar bill on the table for the food and leads Rachel and Lily out of the diner. He decides to splurge a little bit and hails a cab, not wanting to ride the subway at night, especially with the girls.
Hopping inside with Lily in the middle, he politely tells the cab driver his address, choosing to ignore the man's groan about going to Brooklyn. The ride to his apartment is relatively quiet but not awkward. The three were tired and spent, just wanting a restful night of sleep.
Fifteen minutes later the cab pulls up to his apartment building, Finn gets out and sees that Lily has fallen asleep and offers to pick her up, not wanting Rachel to struggle carrying a child up two flights of stairs.
"I can take her if you'd like, I don't mind. You look really tired and I'm sure she's as light as a feather."
She nods her head in agreement. "Thank you, Finn. That's very chivalrous of you."
After paying the cab fare he picks up the sleeping child and cradles her against his chest; an inexplicable warmth filling him as she unconsciously snuggles against him, burying her face in the crook of his neck and grips his shirt with her tiny hands. He smiles softly and makes his way into the building, Rachel following him from behind, making their way slowly up the stairs. Stopping at the door, he fishes out his keys from his pocket with one hand while holding Lily tightly with the other. He opens the door, and walks in, shutting and locking it as Rachel enters after him. He breaks the silence, talking softly not wanting to wake up the little girl, when Rachel lets out a surprised gasp.
A large German shepherd is sniffing at her feet and licking her shoes.
"Sorry, totally forgot to tell you about Charlie. He's an extremely good dog though. He's great with kids and really sweet. Only barks when he senses some danger. I'll keep him out here with me at night."
She scratches between the dog's ears and lets him nuzzle his nose into her hand.
"That's okay. He just surprised me is all. I don't mind dogs."
"Awesome. Well, you guys can take my bedroom and I'll take the couch. Let me just grab some of my things and I'll leave you alone for the night. There should be a pack of unopened toothbrushes in the cabinet in the bathroom and washcloths and towels under the sink if you want to wash your face or shower, feel free to take whatever you want."
Rachel's eyebrows furrow slightly. "Oh no Finn, I can't kick you out of your own bed. Lily and I can stay here in the living room, its ok. We're already being a burden by staying in your apartment, I can't do that."
Finn shakes his head. "No, you guys are taking my bedroom because there's no way I'm letting a woman sleep on my couch, my mom raised me better than that. Much less have a woman and her child. Now, I'm going to go set down Lily in the bed and I want you to make yourself at home. I'll set out some old sweats and a t-shirt of mine too for you to wear since I'm sure you won't be able to sleep comfortably in your damp clothes. Ok? No more turning down everything I offer you. Deal?"
The corners of her mouth slowly turn up into a smile. "Deal."
With that, Finn walks down the hallway to his bedroom and lays Lily on his bed softly without waking her, lightly prying her little fingers off his shirt. Rachel appears at his side and puts her hand on his arm. "Thank you."
He lightly squeezes her shoulder and whispers "No problem." He turns to dig out some clothes from his closet and sets a pair of sweats, a t-shirt, and a much smaller pair of pajama pants and a long sleeve thermal shirt.
"I found my nephew's pajamas that he left here last time I took care of him and he's around Lily's size so I think they should fit. There are more blankets in the closet if you guys get cold and if you need anything I'm right out there, don't hesitate to ask. Also, feel free to sleep in tomorrow since I'll be doing the same, alright?"
She nods and gives him a thankful smile.
"Goodnight Rachel." He smiles back and makes his way out the door with the extra clothes he grabbed for himself and shuts the door quietly behind him.
He throws an extra pillow and blanket on the couch and turns on the television, which is already tuned to some old basketball game. He tries making himself comfortable, struggling to keep his gigantic body on the piece of furniture that was clearly not designed for a 6'3 man to be sleeping on.
A whole hour passes before he notices that he has no idea what is going in the game, paying zero attention to the screen. All he can think about is the woman and child sleeping in his bed at the moment. He thought of what terrible incident could have brought them to his office building. He thought of what kind of fucking asshole would even raise a hand at that young, beautiful woman. He also thought of where they would be staying after the weekend was over, he had called the shelter and several others throughout the city and they were all at capacity. At capacity? Weren't those places always supposed to have room for people like her? Where did all the other women and children go that were rejected? The ones that didn't happen to meet a social worker like him? What would of happened to Rachel and Lily had he left the building when he was supposed to? Would they still be wandering around the city, looking for a place to stay? Would they have given up and gone back to whatever monster that had caused all this in the first place?
Finn thought of all these questions and of different scenarios that plagued his mind when he was suddenly startled by footsteps coming through the hallway. He looked up to see Rachel standing next to the armchair next to the TV.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know you were awake." She says, playing with the end of her hair. "I was just going to get myself a glass of water, if that's ok."
Finn chuckles a little at the sight of her. She's practically swimming in his clothes. The drawstring on the sweatpants had been tied tightly in a double knot and the hem of the pant legs had been rolled up at least ten times so that she could walk freely without dragging it on the ground. His gigantic NYU t-shirt nearly swallows her, almost looking like a dress, the sleeves falling well past her elbows.
He motions towards the kitchen and gets up off the couch.
"Help yourself. I'm gonna get something to drink too."
He shuffles over to a cabinet and brings down a couple glasses and fills them up with water.
"Can't sleep, huh?" He asks.
Rachel shakes her head. "Not one bit. I've spent the past hour watching Lily sleep since sometimes that does the trick, but it's like my mind won't turn off."
Finn sets his glass in the sink after finishing his water.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I tried watching TV but my brain was too keyed up to even concentrate."
She walks over to the small dining table and pulls out a chair to sit down on. Finn follows suit and sits across from her.
"I know you're wondering what happened and why I just avoided talking about it, despite the fact that you already know the gist of it given that we met at a social services office specializing in domestic abuse. But it's time I tell you what happened. It's time I tell someone everything." She fiddles with a thread sticking out of the table cloth. "I wanted to tell you everything at the diner but I couldn't with Lily there. I've tried so hard to keep her out of this, always making sure she was out of the room whenever my husband and I would get in arguments. If I knew he would be in an especially bad mood or if he would give the slightest hint of danger I'd send her over to a neighbor's apartment. I didn't want her to be exposed to this at all."
Finn kept his gaze on her, her own fixed on the napkin hold in the middle of the table.
She takes a deep breath before she keeps going.
"We've been married for six years, my husband and I. And I've only truly been happy with him for one out those six, the first year actually. We met in college our freshman year. We attended this prestigious performing arts college in the city and were both so driven and extremely competitive and so talented. We had so many things in common that we naturally gravitated towards each other. Everyone knew of us on campus and deemed us a power couple, taking all the lead roles on the stage, winning every talent competition put on by the school, and we were fully expected to take Broadway by storm. Jesse and Rachel: Broadway superstars. That was our dream."
She smiles softly as she speaks, probably reminiscing about her college years, Finn assumes. But the smile disappears almost as quickly as it had formed.
"Then everything changed the summer before our senior year, when I found out I was pregnant. It obviously was a complete surprise; we weren't even engaged nor had any plans to get married until after college. But I would never call her an accident. Lily was a surprise, the greatest, most beautiful surprise of my life and I have never regretted having her for one moment."
Her eyes begin to fill with tears but she keeps them at bay, how she hasn't completely broken down yet today is a mystery to him.
"Unfortunately, my husband never really saw it that way. When he found out I was pregnant he always said 'it' was an obstacle for our dreams and goals. The first thing he said to me when I told him the news was: 'You're getting rid of it, right?' He didn't even consider keeping her for a second. But I refused. There was no way I was getting an abortion, my dreams and aspirations would never be greater than my own child. I mean yes, the timing was unfortunate but I couldn't make a cruel decision like that. So, after I had made my decision clear he stopped berating me about getting rid of 'It' or telling me that my Broadway career was now shot to hell and he accepted it. We then went to his parents' apartment for lunch where we gave them the news."
Her tone changed as she began to speak about her in-laws. More bitter than sad.
"His parents are very well off financially, they live in a fancy apartment on the Upper East Side and have a grand reputation in their high class social circles and had their son's life all planned out down to where he would retire when he turned 65. So of course they were shocked, especially my mother in law. The first thing she also asked was if I was going to get rid of it. Like mother like son I guess." She laughs dryly.
"But after we told her that we were keeping the baby, despite her saying that we were much too young and that all our hard work and talent would go to waste, she told us that we should get married. She didn't want a grandchild to be born out of wedlock, I mean, what would the charity board members think? The St. James' are too good for that." Rachel says sarcastically.
"So that was that, she gave us the family ring, set a date for our wedding, and reserved a ballroom at The Plaza. All within two hours. Three months later we were married and living in a big, luxurious apartment that his parents bought for us because God forbid we live and raise our child in a two bedroom apartment in Midtown. His mother would never have that."
She lets out a heavy sigh then tucks a strand of hair behind her hair. Finn was almost tempted to do it on his own, completely captivated by Rachel and her story and just everything about her.
"My life changed so drastically within nine months that I hardly had any time to process it all. One moment I was about to be a senior in college, preparing for my showcase at the end of the year and the next I was holding a little baby girl in my arms, rocking her back and forth as she slept. Luckily I managed to graduate on time, thanks to the somewhat unwilling help of my mother in law. She took care of Lily whenever I had class or needed to rehearse for my showcase. That's the only thing I truly appreciated about her."
She then takes a sip of water from her glass and continues.
"Anyways, after we had graduated I took a bit of a break during the summer to focus on the baby then in the fall I was able to get a job as a show choir teacher at a prep school close by and my husband was cast in a supporting role in a Broadway show, which I thought was absolutely wonderful. I was genuinely happy for him. He, on the other hand, was not happy for me. It was almost like he looked down on me for abandoning my dreams of making it to Broadway and all our goals. But it wasn't like that, I didn't abandon anything, I just happened to grow out of those dreams and found a new one. I loved being a mother and I loved teaching my students despite what he thought. Broadway wasn't really what I wanted anymore, I was happy where I was and loved what I did. He never seemed to understand that though and grew more and more distant. I hardly ever saw him and he almost never spent time with Lily, which is what hurt me the most. I mean, what kind of father didn't want to hold their child and spend time with them and play with them? Yeah, I know she wasn't planned but that wasn't her fault. She deserves all the love in the world and he couldn't even spare one minute to talk to her, always needing to go to rehearsal or go to lunch with his director." Tears slowly stream down her cheek not even bothering to wipe them away.
"He wasn't even there when she was born, you know that? He wasn't there when she started crawling or when she said her first word or when she took her first steps. He avoided her like the plague. Whenever she would start crying he'd always tell me to quiet 'her', never calling Lily by her name. And when he did he would call her Lillian. Granted, that is her full first name but the way he said it seemed so cold and detached. That's actually what caused our first big fight. I called him out on being a terrible father and being selfish and so egotistical, and then he slapped me, saying that I should never talk to him like that and that he didn't choose to be a father. That this was my entire fault and that he shouldn't have to suffer the consequences for my own mistakes."
Finn grasps a pencil that he finds on the table, trying to control the anger rising in him.
"I couldn't believe that he had hit me, I was frozen and in such shock. But being one of those girls, I decided that it was just an accidental reaction. He couldn't have meant to hit me; his anger just got the best of him. That is until it happened again about a month later."
She swallows a breath and her hands begin to tremble a bit.
"He had just finished a show and I went backstage to see him, wanting to just spend some time with him since he had been so busy lately. I opened the door to his dressing room and was greeted by the sight of him pressed up against his co-star, Stephanie, the gorgeous female lead of his show. They didn't even notice me standing in the doorway, too busy kissing and groping each other until I yelled out his name. The worst part was that he didn't even seem to care. He just looked up and said: 'Hey Rachel, I didn't know you came to see the show.' I became so furious that I just turned around, slammed the door shut and left the theatre. He had the decency to follow me home, I expected some sort of apology but the first thing he asked when he entered our apartment was 'Why are you mad?' Can you believe that? I exploded. I absolutely exploded and being the somewhat theatrical and dramatic person that I am I began throwing things and telling him that he was a good for nothing husband that loved no one but himself. I had left Lily at our neighbor's apartment that afternoon so that I could go to his show, so fortunately she wasn't there when we began to fight. I don't even remember what else I told him, I was so angry, but he snapped me out of it when he flung his fist at my face."
She stops for a second and Finn reaches out to hold her trembling hand, giving it a squeeze, encouraging her to keep going.
"I blacked out, he hit me so hard. I came to about two or three minutes later, he had carried me to our bed and there was a glass of water and a couple aspirin on the bedside table. He walked in right as I woke up and acted like nothing happened. When I saw my face in the mirror I broke down in tears because this is not who I was, and not who I wanted to be at all. He saw me crying in the bathroom and all he had to say was 'Maybe that'll teach you to not disrespect your husband and appreciate what you have.'"
Finn's jaw clenched as she spoke those words, the pencil in his hands nearly snapping in half.
"When he spoke those words I was floored. Absolutely floored. I couldn't believe this was the man I had married, the man I thought I loved, and the man that I used to want to spend the rest of my life with. The next day his mother came to drop off some things and she didn't even comment on my face. I asked her if she was even going to ask what happened, all she said was that it was none of her business. That was the moment I knew I hated that woman. She knew EXACTLY what happened, I know she did but she ignored it because it wasn't appropriate to talk about because that's what that family does. Ignore problems and push it under the rug, that way they don't exist. I'm sure she would rather ignore this than have everyone in the Upper East Side know that their perfect family is anything but. "
"Every time he would spend all day at rehearsals or go out for late night drinks with the cast I knew he was hooking up with someone. I knew it, but every time I'd bring it up it would cause a huge fight and he would hit me or threaten to do so. The only good thing that he ever did was to not argue or even touch me in front of Lily, although I'm sure it wasn't to protect her it was probably just so that she wouldn't tell people about what she saw. So I just became silent about everything hoping that one day he'd change or that one day he'd grow a heart and play with his daughter for a few minutes. But the day never came and now I've realized that it probably never will."
By now, tear tracks mark her beautiful face. His heart hurts just by looking at her.
"A few months ago during my lunch break I was speaking my co-worker, Tina, who teaches at the same school I do. It had been an exceptionally stressful day; I had some fresh bruises on my arm from when my husband had grabbed me to keep me from hitting him back. I usually am really good at hiding the marks but my sleeve had ridden up and Tina saw it before I could cover it up again. She just gave me a long, hard look and asked how long he had been doing that. She knows my husband and had met him several times but I had never told her anything concerning my marriage but she just knew what was going on for some reason."
"All these years I had never had anyone that I could confide in, someone that I could trust, so everything had been bottled up for so long that at that moment it was like everything had reached its boiling point and I lost it. I completely broke down and told her everything that I had gone through since I had gotten pregnant to the absolute love-less marriage I was trapped in. And through it all she didn't pass any judgment and was so concerned about my well-being. Do you have any idea how good that felt? It felt absolutely amazing, like I finally had the weight of the world off my shoulders. I'd forgotten what it was like to have a true friend. "
"After unloading everything on her and letting me cry on her shoulder for a while, she wrote down on a piece of paper an address and a phone number. It was the address to your office building. I was so scared yet ashamed at the same time to go. Tina would talk to me about it every week and convince me to go but I was scared of what would happen. Of what that would mean for my family, I don't want Lily to become a product of a broken home. I don't want her to know that her father is a selfish, abusive, egocentric bastard. I was afraid that taking this step would bring everything to light and just disrupt her life in a traumatic way."
Finn hands her a napkin to wipe her tears with his free hand, his other hand still firmly clasped in hers.
"But the decision was kind of made for me about a month later. Something forced me to make the decision."
She then falls silent, as if lost in the memories. He speaks up for the first time and breaks the silence.
"What happened? What made you change your mind?"
He watches her take a deep breath, letting it out slowly through her nose and closes her eyes for a moment. He wonders if she's trying to muster up the courage or if it just hurts too much to talk about.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want," he says, "If it's too hard for you right now we can do it during office hours later in the week."
She immediately shakes her head.
"No, no. It's ok. I have to do this. I've already told you this much, might as well, right?" She laughs, humorlessly, "Besides, it kind of feels really good to let it all out. And I feel comfortable right now for some reason, here with you, sitting at your kitchen table. I don't know if I would feel the same in a cold, detached office."
Her remark warms Finn's heart in a way that he doesn't quite understand but he knows that he enjoys it very much. Knowing that he made a woman feel comfortable after going through such a traumatic and just all around terrible situation and like she can pour her heart out to him, well that's an amazing feeling.
"Ready to hear what made me decide to take control of my life?"
He squeezes her hand and responds with another question.
A couple more tears run down her cheeks and she wipes them away with her sleeve before looking at him with a courageous look in her eyes.
Tell me what you thought!
Sorry for making Jesse the bad guy, I do like his character but I can't help how my mind thinks up these stories. Haha.
The next chapter I will be posting will be for 'Hometown Glory' then I'll work on this one. I gotta balance with both fics!
Reviews are love! :)