To Rachel, it genuinely felt like she was in an episode of Sex and the City. She walked through the streets of New York that evening, the wind a little brisk from the cool October air, harsh and crisp from across the Atlantic. The breeze hit her bare legs and her unbuttoned sweater twirled around her with whimsy. The shoes Kurt had insisted she buy were higher, steep pointed heels, but right now, as she made her way back to her and Kurt's loft on the J-train, it felt like she was walking on air.
As dedicated as she was, she'd been unable to fill her mind with any of the acting theory she'd tried to study - her head was so distracted with everything it felt like a buzz of insects trapped under a tall glass. Surely, she thought, after everything? Still? They'd kissed; she'd fallen for him, into him, literally. Yet her body only craved his strong but tender touch more.
When she finally walked through the door of the apartment, her previously bouncy hair was a little damp and flat, frizzy from the rain, but she still couldn't wipe the smile from her face as she fixed herself a mug of peppermint tea. Her brain screamed to tell Kurt what had happened, but the kiss just felt like an intimately beautiful secret she wanted to keep to herself.
"Not going to offer me a cup?" Kurt said, and Rachel gasped a little. She had assumed that Kurt was out. How did he do that? He tracked himself across the noisy floors of their apartment more stealthy than a jungle cat. Then, he tutted a little. Even in his sweats - Rachel was more than a little surprised to realise that Kurt Hummel wore sweats - his deportment was nothing but regal. "Oh." He said, simply, then looked at her again, drawing the syllables out. "Oh?"
"Oh?" Rachel echoed, clutching her Wicked mug in her hands, trying to warm herself from the October chill. "What do you mean, oh?"
Kurt smirked at her then walked over to the couch, where he'd been hand-sewing something which looked a little bit like a romper suit. It probably had a fancy name, but Rachel wasn't about to ask her roommate. Fashion wasn't her thing, as much as Kurt crowed on about "signature looks" and "fake it until you make it". She was happy to let Kurt plan outfits for her while she focused on the other challenges NYADA brought.
"Oh, just oh," Kurt said back snidely, and went back to his appliqué. "Safe to say that Brody's kiss didn't miss, hm?"
"How did you know I kissed Brody?" she asked him, as she sat cross-legged on the floor in front of him.
"Because," Kurt set down his sewing and started to weave his hands through Rachel's hair. "I've seen that look on your face before. You're absolutely smitten." He chuckled a little. "Two parts smitten, one part cat-in-heat, actually, but... I like it. Yes, Finn let you go, and I can't say this is exactly what he may have had in mind for you, but your happiness is everything to me, Rachel."
Rachel instinctively leaned into his touch, so grateful that she'd managed to mature enough for someone like Kurt Hummel to become her best friend and soulmate. She'd known from the moment he'd signed her yearbook in senior year that their friendship would endure anything that could come between them, and Kurt was the one thing that had finally made New York feel like home. She wanted to tell Kurt all about the magical kiss, but there was something so special about it that she wanted to cherish the memory, hold it close to her heart and process it first. Also, she was mindful that although Kurt's face was brave and he was as attentive and caring as ever, he missed Blaine, and missed fairytale kisses himself.
"He does make you happy," Kurt said, patting the couch and indicating Rachel sit next to him. "Doesn't he?"
Rachel tilted her head on his shoulder; she suspected Kurt was wearing one of Blaine's old shirts and the material was soft against her cheek. "So far," she admitted. "But..."
"But you think there's a catch?" Kurt shook his head. "Rachel. You are talented, and beautiful. If I wasn't gay, I'd be proposing to you in a heartbeat. Hell, I am gay, and taken, and I still might be chasing off that tall drink of water."
Sniffing a little, Rachel briefly wished for something a little stronger than peppermint tea. Kurt had reminded her exactly why she was so distrustful of Brody. After everything had happened with Finn, who had been so caring and kind and romantic to her at the start and then shattered her heart like a crystal bauble, how could she let someone else in like that?
"I don't have much luck with tall drinks of water," Rachel reminded him. Kurt was silent, and Rachel sipped a little more at her peppermint tea. She thought of the many boys who'd entered her life only to hurt her. "Or shorter, curly-haired ones. Or Jewish ones with mohawks." She sighed, burying her nose in Kurt's t-shirt, trying to gain comfort from her best friend. Her heart shattering like a crystal bauble, she thought, and all she could think about was Finn. The way he'd been back at the end of their junior year as he sat in the library of McKinley, turning that show globe around in his hands, over and over and over.
"Brody seems to..." she started. "Brody is the only boy I've met who truly liked me for me. Not because I boosted his esteem; not because he wanted to use me for my talent; not because he was using me to try and get over someone else. I just think there's a catch. How can anyone be that kind, and nice, and genuine?"
"Would you call Blaine a catch?" Kurt said, and didn't wait for an answer. "Believe me. Nice guys do exist. Blaine, and Mike Chang, and..." Kurt paused, knowing that Rachel would have known he'd been a little smitten himself back in the day. "Sam Evans." He shook his head. "I suspect you're thinking I should be loyal to my brother, but I have to admit, I haven't seen you smile like that since before he proposed, and nice guys do exist!"
Rachel laughed. "Um, Kurt? Didn't you have that silly little crush on Finn because he was a nice guy?"
"Don't remind me. I'd sooner crush on Ann Romney these days." Kurt shook his head. "Yes, Brody might not be the nice guy he seems, but I don't want you holding yourself back from something that could make you happy. And if he's not the nice guy he seems?" Kurt tapped his nose with his fingers. "I have connections."
Suddenly, Rachel's phone rang, the beautiful, crystal tones of her own cover version of Celine Dion's "Taking Chances" sounding out across their spacious loft.
"And speaking of..." Kurt said, smiling a little. "I'd say speaking of the devil, but my intuition tells me a certain Mr. Weston is definitely saintly!"
Immediately, Kurt sprang off the couch and patted his cheeks in the gesture Rachel knew meant he was going to be occupied with Blaine on Skype for a while, and Rachel stared at the name flashing on her phone. Her fingers seemed to ache as they brushed across the keys, but with a heavy heart, she set her phone on the arm of the couch until it stopped ringing, and continued to drink her tea, each sip doing little to quell the waves of trepidation running through her stomach.
It wasn't fair to do this to Brody, but she just couldn't quite shake the feeling that one simple, delicious kiss might lead to so much heartbreak. She'd only just found her first friend in New York, and maybe that was all they should be, for a while?
Then, her phone vibrated, indicating a new text from Brody.
"I looked at the stars in the sky, but none were as bright as you."
Rachel curled her feet under herself and hugged herself into a ball. Briefly, she was tempted to text him back. Brody was outside, in the city somewhere. Thinking of her while he started up at the sky. The idea of watching the stars with him, his strong arm wrapped around her as they gazed at the constellations together was intoxicating.
She felt horrible for letting his call go to voicemail, at passing up something that could feel so real, and be so good. But even now, the wound of Finn's love was still raw, and Rachel wondered whether she'd ever be able to gaze up at the sky without trying to find his star again.
A/N: Thank you so much for all the reviews! I am so happy to know I am not the only one who thinks Rachel/Brody are absolutely adorable together. Rachel's a little hesitant, but don't worry, they'll get there, and if you have any suggestions I'd love to incorporate them into the story. :)