I'm updating a day early, seeing as I'm so excited to post this last chapter!
Thank you to my wonderful, amazing beta Lucy. Without her, I would definitely not have managed weekly updates and a fic which I am very proud of. Love you :)
She stares up at Finn in complete and utter shock, never having expected him to say such things to her. She's sure that this is the part where she's supposed to squeal excitedly and shout out "yes!", but nothing comes out. Someone has just asked her to be their wife, and she can barely form a word to reply. It's most likely the rush at which the proposal came, after such a short time of them being together, but she understands why he's doing it. He loves her, he does, and she has no doubt that if he could he would have asked her at some point in the future if this whole drama wasn't happening.
"Finn," she feels herself saying softly, her voice barely audible.
Sensing her hesitance, he leaves a few stray kisses along her cheek, before saying, "I know it's rushed, and it's completely crazy, but you know, it's kind of crazy that against all odds we fell in love, too, so maybe that's just us, our relationship? I've never been all that big on fate and stuff, but maybe, just maybe, the universe meant for this to happen, for us to be a family." He embraces her securely, lips brushing against any exposed skin.
Rachel hums in contentment, finally having mulled over his words. She closes her eyes, lips curving into the sweetest of smiles. "Okay," she agrees, "if you want me, I'm yours. I'll marry you."
"I'd marry you no matter what," Rachel admits, staring at his happy face with her own smile, "any time, any place. As long as it's you, I'd do it in a heartbeat." Leaning that few inches closer, the gap between them disappears and their lips meet in a sweet kiss, both desperate to stay near one another. "I love you," she breathes against his lips, eyes searching for his, and when they find each other they lock in a deep gaze.
"I love you," he repeats, kissing her once more, "so much."
She smiles, "so we're… we're going to get married?" It all seems so simple, saying the words out loud, but marriage – her marriage – is something that she's dreamt about since she was a little girl, down to every little detail. And she knows that the lavish wedding that she'd always pictured isn't on the table right now. A part of her is sad about such, but the bigger part of her, the part that's had to mature so much over these past few weeks, doesn't care all that much, knowing that the material value of the wedding means nothing. They have no one to please, no one to impress (which would surely be the case if her circumstances were much different and her Papa was involved in the planning process) – no one other than themselves. Rachel knows that all she needs is Finn's unwavering love and she's happy.
Finn gives her a soft half smile, "yeah, we're getting married." He finds himself leaning down, pressing feather soft kisses against her shoulders, then along to her collar bone, her sweet taste making him lightheaded. His grip on her tightens. The way his body seems to tense in nerves doesn't go unnoticed by Rachel, and she feels an equally tight knot in her stomach. "We're doing the right thing, aren't we?" he speaks out loud what is being thought by both. He then says, lips twitching in an attempt of a smile, "I just want to do what's right by you, a-and the baby."
Peering up at him, she can see the worries deep in his eyes, alongside his doubts and insecurities, and she'd do anything to chase each one away, but all she can manage is a soft kiss against his jaw, then leaning nearer to him repeat the same sweet kiss to his lips. "You are, Finn. Trust me." She gives a shaky smile, "but how – how are we going to do this so quickly? Without anyone knowing?"
"Leave it to me," he assures her, "I can pull a few strings, call in some favors. We'll be fine."
Finn kisses her forehead, smiling brightly, "promise."
They sit like that for a while, Rachel content in his arms, and Finn's mind deep in thought as he conjures a plan. She lies on the bed, pulling Finn down with her and bringing his arms around her waist. When Finn rests his chin on her shoulder, his hot breath tickling her neck, she smiles and reaches a hand up to caress his cheek.
But he can feel how her body is tenser than normal, and in contrast to her he's frowning, "are you alright, Rachel?"
"I'm just… I'm scared about the future," she admits, slightly twisting her neck to peer his way, "I just have a bad feeling."
"Hey, everything is going to be fine." Finn's hands caress her sides, the pleasurable sensation causing Rachel's eyes to flutter closed, "it'll be just as easy as getting Kurt and Blaine out of here. And then we'll be gone, we'll be together, just like we want."
"What if – "
He cuts her short with soft words and a look, "Rach, don't worry."
"I can't help it," she mumbles.
Finn gazes at her, delicately brushing some of her hair from her face. "Everything is going to be fine. We're going to get married, and then tomorrow night we'll get on the road to San Francisco, to Blaine and Kurt, and our new life together." She smiles again, her hand that's resting above his squeezing tightly at his fingers. "We can do this," he whispers in her ear.
Rachel moves around her room slowly, brushing her long hair as she does so. She can't stop the way her hands shake, or how the feeling of sickness persists in her stomach. It's only a couple of hours until she's supposed to meet Finn, and she's not dressed, nor has she even spoken to Miss Shelby, like she'd planned. There are things that she needs to say to her before… before she leaves here tonight, forever.
Eyeing the bed, she glances over the few dresses fanned out across it, one of which she'll be getting married in. A faint smile grows as she nears them, running her fingers across the nearest and admiring the simple, white dress. She doesn't care about it being expensive, or intricately detailed; all that matters is that she feels beautiful in it as she gets married, which she knows she will. Her smile now grown, she heads back over to her vanity, where she sits herself and stares into the mirror. Instead of seeing the lonely little girl that she used to, a grown woman stares back at her, someone who is going to get the happiness that she craves, and that happiness can be found with Finn.
She feels her hand rise to cradle her stomach, thinking about what she and Finn have created – they've made a life together, a tiny, beautiful baby who's probably so small that they can barely see it right now. Rachel can't help grinning, imaging a small child, with her thick, brown hair, but its Father's dimples and bright smile. Her heart swells at the thought, and she holds her stomach all that more fondly.
At the sound of Miss Shelby's voice, she almost jumps out of her own skin, and stares wide eyed toward her tutor. "What're you doing?" she asks, her startled reaction sounding more suspicious than she'd have liked.
"I was just coming to see if you were ready," she smiles, eyes moving over Rachel, "but you're not even dressed." She stops when she sees her holding onto her stomach, and she gently steps nearer, "are you still feeling sick?" The moment she realizes the woman is staring, her hand snaps back to her side and she gets to her feet, though she's still significantly smaller than her. She finds herself gazing up at Miss Shelby, all the things she's wanted to say to her mother whirling around her head in a huge mess of thoughts. And now she's scared, faced with this confrontation, knowing it will be her last chance. "Rachel?" Miss Shelby calls out when she doesn't manage to respond.
"I…" she tries, "I…" Rachel frowns, not used to her words failing her.
But Miss Shelby just smiles and gently places a hand to Rachel's shoulder, giving it a small squeeze, "is everything alright? You know that you can tell me anything, Rachel." She knows, of course she does, but how is she supposed to tell her this? It's the fear of rejection that's kept her revealing what she knows to Miss Shelby, to her mother, but after some encouragement from Finn, she'd realized that this is the right thing to do, no matter how scared she is.
She swallows down any of her remaining fears, and finally takes the plunge, "I know that I'm your daughter."
A lot of emotions cross her face: shock; relief; fear and so many others, until she shakes her head slowly. Miss Shelby lets out a long, slow sigh, and then starts to speak. "How did you find out? You weren't supposed to know." Her grip on Rachel's shoulder tightens slightly, face leaning in closer to her.
"I overheard you and Papa – I didn't mean to listen, but I couldn't help it," she admits, bowing her head and trying to ignore the thumping of her heart. But Miss Shelby doesn't seem angry that she knows, on the contrary she's gazing toward her with softness and caring to her expression. "I-I didn't know what to do, so I ran and Blaine – I told him, but I was so confused and – "
"Shh." She finds herself being pulled into the arms of Miss Shelby, completely unresisting as she's held against her. Rachel hadn't realized that there were tears in her eyes until she feels them rolling down her cheeks. As she moves to wipe them away, she's beaten to it as Miss Shelby's soft hand rubs away each other with a gentle touch. "You know," she begins, her own voice seemingly a little choked, "I always imagined what it would be like if I could tell you… but I never, ever thought that you'd know."
She finds herself staring up, her heart clenching tightly, "you were never going to tell me?" More tears spring to her eyes, "d-did you want to?"
"Of course I did!" she defends herself, "ever since the moment you could understand, I wanted to tell you, so much, but," she looks to her softly, "I just couldn't… your Father, he didn't want you to know." That seems about right, she thinks, "h-he didn't want you knowing that your mother was from a lower clas – "
"But I don't care about things like that," she counters, her eyebrows knotting together tightly as she speaks.
"He does though," is the gentle reply. Miss Shelby caresses her cheek with a delicate touch, as though Rachel isn't real and this is all a dream which is at any moment going to vanish. So Rachel just nuzzles further into her, breathing in the scent of her mother, and smiling at the comforting embrace; she's holding her like she's the most important thing in the world.
In that time, more questions come and go, but she only finds herself uttering one. "Ho – how did this happen? I mean, you and Papa – if you weren't married then…" She doesn't want to accuse Miss Shelby of anything, but her curiosity is getting the better of her.
The woman takes in a deep sigh, chest rising and falling slowly, "It's a long story." Rachel can sense the hesitation in her voice, and some little nagging feeling tells her that it's not a nice story either; she begins to question whether it's worth it to hear said tale just to satiate her curiosity. "One that can be saved for another day," she says, "I'm still getting over the shock that…that you know." She hugs her more tightly.
She reciprocates the action, though in the back of her mind there's the incessant voice telling her that there won't be another day for Miss Shelby to tell her the story, that she might not see her again. And it's at that precise moment that she feels the tears brimming in her eyes, feeling as though there's a dark cloud hovering above her, drowning her in a heavy feeling of sadness.
"Rachel? Why're you crying?"
If anything, the amount of care in her voice makes Rachel cry more, her face nuzzling into Miss Shelby's shoulder. "I'm going to miss you," she mumbles, face crumpling up. She must look pathetic, seemingly sobbing for no reason whatsoever, but at least she knows that there's something behind each tear. She truly will miss her, and how good she feels when she's with her, how loved she feels.
"What?" Miss Shelby frowns in confusion toward her.
Rachel finds the words slipping out before she can even think about it. "I'm leaving, tonight."
Her mother gapes at her, though her grip tightens, her reluctance for Rachel to go obvious, "y-you're leaving? What do you mean? Where?"
"To San Francisco," she manages out through the tears.
"I don't understand…"
She stares up at her, with her red rimmed eyes and pink face. "Something happened, and I – I need to leave."
Miss Shelby shakes her head slowly, trying to understand what she's told, but it all just seems to random to her. "But why there?"
"Because," Rachel sniffles, "that's where Blaine is."
The reaction is a small gasp, "you know where Blaine is? Rachel… why… why haven't you told anyone this? Your Fath – "
"He can never know! Please, Blaine is safe and he's happy."
"And you're going to be with him?" she asks. Rachel notices that she hasn't tried to talk her out of the idea of leaving; instead she's sitting and listening. She finds herself nodding to Miss Shelby, and is about to say something when she continues to speak. "How do you plan on getting there? It's on the other side of the country, Rachel. It's dangerous. I-I want you to be happy, but I also want you to be safe."
She waits for the right moment, before taking in a deep breath and saying, "Finn is taking me."
It's clear that the name is recognized by Miss Shelby, who stares at her in complete shock. "You're still seeing that man? Do you know how foolish that is? If someone found out – "
"They're not going to find out," Rachel insists. "We're getting married and we're leaving tonight." The last part is spoken so rapidly that Miss Shelby has to blink a few times, waiting until it's sunk in, and then she just continues to stare at Rachel like she's crazy.
In the end, she brings a hand to her sore forehead and rubs gently at the skin. "Have you… have you thought this through?"
She tilts her head, a defensive look spreading across her face, "I know that this is the right thing to do."
"But Rachel, you don't know enough about this man to marry him," she shakes her head, "I don't understand why you're so eager. You don't want this rash decision to affect your future in a bad way." Rachel visibly deflates, maybe not having considered what would happen if things between her and Finn didn't work out for the better, if some force tore them apart.
Closing her eyes, she tries not to think about that. "All I know is that Finn makes me a better person – he makes me happier than I've ever been, and I like who I am when I'm with him." She pauses, lost in thought, before adding, "and at some point during our time together I fell in love with Finn – I know that I can't live without him. It's like he's part of me." She doesn't quite know if she explained the last part well enough, but Miss Shelby's face softens and she gently runs her fingers through Rachel's soft hair.
"Does he really make you feel like that?"
"Every time we're together," she says, without any form of hesitance.
"Then," Miss Shelby begins decisively, "I can't stop this. I won't stop it." She sighs, "the heart wants what the heart wants."
Rachel feels unbelievably happy upon hearing this, pulling Miss Shelby in for the tightest of hugs, much to the woman's own joy. She closes her eyes, enjoying the sweet moment with her daughter. "Thank you," Rachel whispers, "thank you so much. I – I love you."
Slightly taken aback at first, she is silent, before Rachel shifts in her arms and stares up at her. She glances into the big, brown eyes gazing to her, and smiles, "I love you too. But you have to promise me that you're going to stay safe, Rachel. If anything happened to you…"
"I promise," she says gently, before moving onto another thing she's been meaning to ask. "Will you come… to the wedding?" Rachel questions shyly.
Already trying to hold back the tears, she manages a nod, and hugs Rachel again. This isn't how either had imagined the talk going, but both are left smiling and with their hearts a little less heavy.
They sneak out of the house as the preparations for one of her Papa's parties are underway, the busy foyer making it ideal to slip through the people and out onto the street unnoticed. Rachel stays close to Miss Shelby's side, still not completely able to believe that she agreed to be with her for this, yet she is beyond happy that she did. Not long after they've started walking, the older woman gently encases Rachel's hand in hers, sending a smile in her direction. Rachel doesn't miss the tears in her eyes.
"Miss Shelby?" she asks, a worried frown worn on her lips.
She smiles down at her, her hand holding Rachel's so tightly. "I'm fine," she insists, using her other hand to wipe at her eyes.
"But they're not sad tears," she tells Rachel fondly.
Rachel doesn't get the chance to question her further as they reach the cathedral, both staring up at the beautiful building with awe. So entranced, Rachel doesn't notice Finn come up beside her, until he breathes out a soft, "hi." Then she snaps her head in his direction, her grin doubling in size as she takes his appearance in. The sight of him looking so dashing in a suit makes her go slightly weak at the knees, but Finn beats her to the compliment. "You look beautiful." He says, unable to keep his eyes off her.
Blushing under the attention, she feels herself smile and reply, "you look incredibly handsome, too." The pair seems to get lost in each other – though that isn't uncommon for them – but it's not long before Rachel hears Miss Shelby clear her throat behind her. With a sheepish grin, she looks back to the woman, who is gazing at Finn, as though trying to figure him out. "Finn, this is… this is my mom," she tells him, being able to say such a thing making her heart swell in her chest, and looking at Miss Shelby she guesses that she has a similar feeling at being called that.
She turns back to Finn, finding him looking nervously toward Miss Shelby. "It's nice to meet you," he starts, holding out a slightly shaky hand.
It's ignored in favor of a hug, initiated by Miss Shelby, while Finn stands awkwardly, his expression causing Rachel to hide her giggles behind her hand. "Thank you," the woman says, "for taking care of Rachel."
He nods in acknowledgement, now pulling back and bringing himself nearer Rachel once more. He takes a deep breath, eyes rising up to stare at the cathedral, and then he looks down toward Rachel, no hesitation or doubt in his voice when he says, "let's do it, let's get married." The way that he stares at her makes all self-consciousness dissolve away - she feels like the most beautiful girl in the world.
With a look toward Miss Shelby, she finds her smiling at the pair, now clearly convinced that this is the right thing for Rachel, and she nods toward her, giving them her blessing. Rachel beams, takes Finn's hand in her, and lets him lead them inside.
"I have a friend here, he can marry us. When I told him about our situation, he was more than willing to do it," he says happily, and Rachel easily shares said happiness.
The cathedral looks even more beautiful from the moment she takes the first step in; the evening sun is casting a soft light across one side of the magnificent architecture. Every last part of the place is so detailed, so intricate that she could just stare at it for hours on end. She smiles at Finn, squeezing his hand. This really is going to be a perfect wedding.
Everything is packed, or anything worth taking with her that is, and now she's staring at them all, wondering what it's going to be like to leave this life behind. Of course, it'll be better, she knows that, but leaving behind this life for a completely new one… it's all so scary and daunting, like walking into the unknown.
At least with Finn by her side the whole way, it won't be as terrifying. They can start this new life together, as husband and wife, and she knows that they're both willing to do anything to make it work, for the both of them. And for their baby, too. Subconsciously, she fiddles with the ring around her neck, itching to wear it and show it off to the world, but she knows that it's a foolish thing to do, especially at her Papa's party, where he might see and question her about it. No, she'll just wait until tonight, when they leave here for good, when she doesn't have to worry about what her Papa could do.
Now clad in a different dress – a soft pink party dress – she gets ready to go and join her Papa downstairs, for the last few hours she'll be in this house, before it's time to go.
With one last glance at her bags, she turns and leaves her room. The party is in full swing by now (it'd just been starting when she'd returned home before, thankfully Miss Shelby providing an alibi for her) and she easily slips into the crowds. Due to the abundance of people in the usually empty house, the air around her is stifling to the point where she has to constantly fan herself.
As usual, Blaine's presence is missed, Rachel knowing that with her brother there the party wouldn't be so bland, so lifeless, but the knowledge of seeing him soon brings happiness so strong and unyielding that she's smiling brightly to herself that she earns a few stares. She doesn't care. Tonight, it'll all be over then, and her new life begins. And she won't ever have to be around people like this again.
Her smile is soon usurped by a slight frown when the feeling of nausea returns. Though it seems to be slowly getting better, there are still the occasional moments when it strikes, and it's just her luck that one of these moments is now, right in front of her Papa. She gently places her hand over her mouth, trying to take control over the strong feeling. It takes a few moments, but at least it's passing and she hasn't been sick, which she's thankful for – such a thing could put a snag in the plan, especially if her Papa takes her to her room, where her things are neatly packed away in her suitcases.
So relief is the first thing she experiences when she no longer feels sick, yet the relentless heat counters said relief, and she tries to move from the crowds in hopes of finding a cooler spot. Yet her body somehow doesn't seem under her control, a heavy sensation growing over her limbs. Around her the room seems unfocused, almost dim, and the music and voices are far away. Feeling strange and lightheaded, and trying to ignore both, she pushes forward and keeps walking, until she's finally overcome and everything turns dark.
"… chel… Rachel…" She hears her Papa saying, but she's not quite sure where he is.
And, when she tries to find her voice, she's unable to do so. She does, however, manage to blink open her eyes, the suddenly blinding light making her want to close them again, but she resists, needing to know what's going on. As Rachel begins to focus, she appears to be in her Papa's office, with her Papa and Mr St James, the doctor.
Making a small, whimpering noise, she grabs their attention, wanting to ask how she ended up here, and why her body feels so odd.
Mr St James observes her slowly, a thoughtful expression tiding over his wrinkled face. He takes her unresisting hand, fingers finding her pulse on her wrist, and begins to count each little thump. After a while, he says, "how are you feeling?"
"Sick," she mumbles pathetically, having thought that she'd avoided most of the nausea for the day. Out of the corner of her eye, she catches the way her Papa gazes down at her, though right now all she wants to do is sleep and get rid of the heavy feeling in her mind and body, so she ignores him.
"I'll just run a few more tests," Mr St James says quietly, peering up to her Papa from where he's kneeling before her, "if that's alright. You can return to the guests, Michael – she's fine now, if only a little shaken up."
Papa frowns deeply, "then what on Earth do you want to test her f – "
"It's merely precautions," he assures his friend, "she could be anaemic. That's a cause of fainting and feeling sick. It's always best to check, to prevent this from happening again."
She glances between the men, watching as her Papa nods in acceptance, gently patting her shoulder before he leaves the room.
Once Mr St James has received his kit, with everything he might possibly need, he spends a good few hours doing things she barely tries to understand, while she just sits patiently and tries to let this horrible feeling disappear.
But it's worrying when the man gives her this strange look, almost startled, before going to retrieve her Papa. As she sits in that room, by herself, she allows the calm atmosphere to lull over her, relaxing her everything as she thinks about the future, what it brings, and considers whether she'll enjoy her life in San Francisco. It's no New York, that's for sure, and a culture change might do more harm than good, yet she's determined to make the best of the situation. Besides, what choice does she have?
Rachel is ripped from her thoughts the minute the door bursts open and she's faced with her Papa, looking both shocked and angry with her, and she feels her heart plummet. This can't be good. "You," he points to her, causing the girl to wince at the way his speech twists so harshly, "what have you done, Rachel? How could you do this?" Rather than anger now, he looks at her with disgust in his eyes.
She knows what he's talking about, aware that trying to deny it is fruitless, yet for some reason – perhaps grasping on the last straws of hope – she plays dumb. "Papa? W-what's wrong?" The way her voice trembles can't be helped, showing just how scared she is. This isn't supposed to happen, not when she's so close to freedom. Rachel struggles to find her breath, her entire body rife with panic.
He shakes his head, mouth snarling nastily in her direction, "you are just like your brother – a disappointment, not worthy of this family." Reaching her in two quick strides, he pulls her from the chair with a painful grip, bringing her onto her wobbly feet, before he leans down so that they're face to face. "How could you do this to me? After everything I gave you?"
Rachel steps back, eyes hard, "you gave me nothing."
"What?" he balks, "what did you just say?" The fury in his own expression makes her want to be as far away from his as possible, but with him blocking the only exit, she's still trapped in this house.
She forces herself to appear strong, confident, when inside she's quaking. "You – you never gave me what I needed, just as you didn't Blaine. We're not children to you; we're just… pawns in your game." For as long as she can remember, he's never been a Father figure to her or Blaine, rather an intimidating and controlling man in which they live under the rules of. She can barely remember the last time he genuinely showed any affection toward her, any love. Daring to look her Papa in the eye, she finds the words coming out strained, "and I'm not going to do that, Papa, not anymore."
He's silent, thoughtful, though a look glazes over his expression, making her feel uneasy.
"You were going to leave," he says lowly, everything clicking together in his mind, "that's why your bags are packed." He growls, "you were going to run away."
Unable to say anything, she just stares up at him with her teary eyes. The worst part is that he doesn't look hurt that she wants to leave, just angry. Always angry.
"And you were going to go with that man," he spits out.
Her head snaps up, "w-what?" How does he know about Finn? That's – that's impossible. No one could have told. Miss Shelby wouldn't do that to her, and she has definitely not mentioned even his name since the incident at Blaine's birthday party.
"Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about!" he shouts in a snap of rage, and Rachel flinches from her Papa. "The man who got you pregnant, it must be him. Who else?" he snarls, then notices the shock that spreads across her face, "Andrew just told me."
"H-he said he was testing me for anaemia," she stutters out.
"A lie to find what he was truly looking for," he snaps back, "and looks like he found it." Her Papa's hard face bores into her eyes, waiting for her to say something, but she's barely able to breathe, let alone talk. Her chest feels heavier and tighter by the second, throat closing up, too. "Did you really expect me not to find out?" he continues, "I'm your Father – of course I was going to find out that my daughter has been… whoring herself out to some man she barely knows."
"I do too know him," she argues back, surprising herself with her sudden burst of inner fight, "I love him, Papa."
Upon seeing his eyes widen, she bows her head, biting her lower lip. Again, she feels lightheaded, though it's more from the adrenaline of the argument rather than her condition. "You love him… that – that… worthless piece of scum."
"He isn't worthless," Rachel defends Finn, "he is more decent that you'll ever be, and he loves me too."
"You really think that? That he isn't just some… pervert looking for a young, innocent girl to prey on. And now he's got what he wants, he won't just leave you? Leave you pregnant, for me to clean up the mess."
Rachel looks to her Papa, almost sadly, and says, "y-you clearly don't know what it's like to be in love."
"You are not in love!" he yells, "you have an infactuation with this man. I should have seen it coming – all those books you read, giving you the wrong idea. And he took advantage; you have been corrupted by this man and now he's – he's defiled you. And we have a problem, Rachel." He grabs her arm, as if trying to be gentle, but the surfacing anger is making it hard to do so, "we have to get rid of that bastard child before it's too late, before anyone finds out."
A gasp escaping her lips, she shrugs off his hand and stares at her Papa with accusing eyes. Her hand moves down to cradle her stomach, head shaking. "No," she says, quietly but strongly.
"Excuse me?" His forehead creases, eyes hard, "when I tell you you're going to do something, Rachel, you will do it. You are my daughter – you will obey m – "
"I won't kill my child to please you, to uphold our reputation of all things," she frowns, "I'm not you. I'm not heartless." She continues to shake her head at him, "and you can't tell me what to do anymore." With that, she uses all the force she has left and barges past him, headed for the door. She doesn't quite know what she's going to do after that – go straight to Finn (who should be waiting outside) or got to her room to get her things? She's going to have to make a decision, and she's going to have to make one soon.
"Rachel Anderson, get back here this instant!" her Papa orders, the threat in his tone clear.
She turns, eyes narrowing at the man. "It's Rachel Hudson," she corrects, her hand reaching out to tug the door open.
She expects the party to still be on-going, seeing as she couldn't have been in her Papa's office for that long as Mr St James ran his tests, but the house is practically deserted. She doesn't know where everyone went, whether they'd been sent away, but she doesn't bother wasting another second considering it as she needs to get out to Finn, before it's too late.
"Rachel, don't you dare take another step!"
Throwing a look over her shoulder, she finds him fumbling for something in his desk draw, pulling a small, black object from there. Her eyebrows knit together as to what it is, but she can't focus on it for long as she reaches the front door. She doesn't hesitate to swing it open, the door slamming against the inside of the wall and shaking a few pictures from the sheer force of the hit. Rachel barely hears that as she's searching around, body sighing in relief when she sees Finn, leaning against a dark car with his gaze intent on the door. The moment he sees her, he's in action.
She moves desperately toward him, knowing that her Papa is behind her, "Finn!" She doesn't make it out of the house as strong hands wrap around her from behind, pulling her back inside. With a loud screech, she feels her body dragged backwards, until she's roughly thrown to the floor. "Finn!" she calls out again.
"You are not leaving," her Papa yells, "I'm not going to let y – "
He's interrupted by Finn appearing, some crazed look in his eye. He dives for her Papa, succeeding in knocking him over and raising his fist ready to punch the man. Rachel watches as he struggles beneath Finn, his smaller build definitely not an advantage this time, especially when compared to Finn's much stronger body. Still, something happens that makes Finn freeze on the spot, his eyes wide.
Rachel tries to move forward, to see herself, but her Papa's clear voice echoes around the room. "Get up," he orders, visibly sighing a breath of relief as Finn's huge torso is no longer towering his, and this also allows her a direct line of sight to the reason why.
"Papa…" she whispers in horror, a hand flying to her mouth when she sees the pistol held against Finn's chest.
"Shut up!" he shouts to her. She flinches, slowly rising to her feet as the men do also, though her Papa's eyes are intent on Finn, full of anger that's no doubt ripe to explode. Her eyes draw down the weapon once more, watching the way his hand trembles as he holds it. Is this part of that 'stock' he had spoken about? He kept some for himself, so that he could take control when he was otherwise powerless.
Finn's is frozen like a statue, breath shaky. She supposes that she'd be similar if she had a gun pointed at her. "Look, you don't have to do this. Yo – "
His face scrunches up, "don't you dare. Don't. You. Dare." He eyes Rachel for a moment, then moves his gaze back to Finn, "did you just think that you could do this my daughter and get away with it? You're not worthy of her, of this family. And now you've ruined her. You've made her one of your kind. A common bitc –"
"Don't say that about Rachel. She's special!"
"I wouldn't use that tone if I were you," her Papa says, moving the gun again.
"Papa," she manages out, her voice shaky.
In the brief moment that the man's distracted, Finn reaches out and snaps his hands around his arm with the pistol, moving out of the way as it's accidentally shot, a bullet shooting right into the wood panelling of the wall. Rachel screeches out in shock, placing a hand over her racing heart. It looks as though Finn's going to succeed until her Papa manages to knee him in the groin, causing him to double over in pain.
He regards the man, now kneeling below him, and takes a few feet back. He raises the gun, eyes widening. "You're going to pay for what you did to me."
Finn's eyes grow for a second, before squeezing close as his finger closes around the trigger.
And then a deafening bang follows.
He waits for the pain, but it never comes.
Then he hears a soft whimper, then a cry, and his eyes open. He feels sick. Rachel is lay on the floor before him, and she's clutching at her side, hands shaking. "R-Rachel," he barely whispers, crawling toward her, an intense feeling of sickness plaguing his body.
"Finn," she says back weakly, "Finn, it h-hurts."
"Oh God, Rachel."
He takes hold of her hands, holding back a sob when he feels the warm blood beneath his fingers, and then he pulls them back to see the red stained spot on her dress. "Fuck," he brings a hand to his mouth. So much blood.
Rachel tries to look to Finn, but it feels as though there's a searing pain in her side, burning throughout her body and leaving her unable to move, to hardly speak. She closes her eyes, letting the tears drop down. It all feels too much, a darkness beginning to overcome her vision, so much that she can barely see Finn's face anymore. She reaches out fingers brushing against his cheek. "F-Finn…" she says, eyes fluttering closed.
"Rach, stay with me," he urges, gripping her hands with much more will, "come on, stay awake."
"It hurts… s-so much…"
"Please, Rachel – I can't lose you," he openly begs, tears in his own eyes.
It's getting harder to stay awake. The pain is too much, a deep throbbing in her side. "I l-love you." She attempts the smile, to show him how happy he'd made her. And that's when her world disappears before her. She barely hears another gun shot before there's nothing but darkness and silence.
The following day is probably the worst in his entire life. Between crying and feeling as though life has stopped altogether, he doesn't really get much done. He barely eats. He barely sleeps. He just sits there, completely devoid of any emotions other than worry and pure sadness. And, every time he closes his eyes, all he sees in Rachel lying on the floor, the blood stain growing and becoming darker in color. That image haunts him.
"I can't do this without you," he finds himself saying, "Rach, come back to me. Please. I miss you so much." He draws in a shaky breath, repeating, "I can't do this. I need you."
All he can hear is the incessant beeping of the machine, something that follows him around even when he leaves the room. Now, directly beside it, it's strong and clear in his ear, momentarily distracting him from the problem at hand. Sitting forward in his seat, he reaches forward and takes hold of Rachel's pale, limp hand, choking back the tears. "Rachel," he brings the back of her hand to his mouth, gently kissing it, "please."
At first, he doesn't react, used to imagining her voice speaking to him over the past twenty four hours, as if his mind is just torturing itself.
It takes it to be said once more, along with a few twitches of her head, for him to finally look up, eyes disbelieving when he finds her staring back at him. "Rachel!" he exclaims, his breath hitching in his throat. She blinks, eyes tired and whole body looking worn as she tries to sit up, but a sharp gasp escapes her. He's instantly closer to her, peppering her face with kisses. "I was so scared, you – you…" The words can't seem to be found to show how relieved he is to see her okay.
She gently lifts the covers, wincing when she sees places a hand over where her stitches are. He takes the hand away, holding it tightly in hers, and just takes the time to look at her, to relish in the fact that she's awake and she's okay.
Finn notices her glancing around the room in confusion, her eyes moving from the bed, the hospital gown she's in, to the beeping machine beside her. "How did…" she starts, gaze finally lifting up to him, "I thought I was…" Her bottom lip wobbles dangerously as she gently touches her wound once more."
"You're safe," he assures her, the softest of smiles appearing on his lips, "and… and the baby is, too."
Barely able to keep it together now, she breaks into deep sobs, body shaking with each one. He travels to the bed, perching himself on the side – which is difficult with his long limbs – and attempting to pull her into a hug. She falls into his embrace easily enough, trying to avoid her stitches. "T-the baby's okay?" she asks again, as if needing further reassurance.
He nods, not wanting to let her out of his arms, "the doctors said that you were lucky. The bullet went to your side, missing any organs. And we got you to the hospital in time."
"Mr Hummel," he offers, "he'd heard the first shot and arrived after you passed out. It was him who called the ambulance. I was – I was too panicked to do anything."
Her brows scrunch together in thought, "and Papa? What did he do?" She watches Finn's expression fall, the heavy onset of guilty causing his shoulders to sag, his eyes to avoid hers. An unsettling feeling bubbles away in her stomach. She remembers jumping in front of Finn before the shot was taken, the look of shock on her Papa's face as he realized it had hit her, but everything following that feels fuzzy, far away, and the only other person who was there was Finn. But she doesn't like the way he's behaving now. "…Finn?"
He drops his face into his hands, hiding the shame. "I'm so, so sorry." This is repeated over and over, with varying levels of distress. Rachel, still uneasy, reaches out and tenderly pulls his hands away, unveiling his face once more.
"Finn," she says, looking him dead in the eye, "I can – I can take it. Just, please tell me."
Sighing again, he starts to speak. "I was so stupid and angry and I couldn't …- I couldn't stop myself. I thought that you were…" Finn doesn't have it in him to say the word, "and he did it. He hurt you. I-I wanted to hurt him too… so I picked up the gun and I… I just s-shot." And this is where he returns to repeating his 'I'm sorry' mantra as the words sink in.
Finn hesitates, then nods. At this, she takes in a long breath, eyes watering. While he never acted like a Father should, she still feels something for the loss of the man.
And Finn is still apologizing to her, blaming himself. She can't let him do that, take the weight of the blame – that only means disaster for the individual. Once she's shed her tears for her Papa, she strengthens the grip on his hands and pulls him closer, leaning her head against his shoulder. "Stop saying sorry, Finn. It's not going to change anything."
"But he was your Father and I – God, I killed him."
"Shh, you didn't… you didn't want to. It just happened. I can't let you keep blaming yourself," she caresses his cheek gently, "I'm sad, of course I am, but watching you like this makes me even sadder. Please Finn, forgive yourself. Can you do that?"
Dropping his head, he finally nods. "Okay," he says quietly, "I'll do it."
Those simple words make relief run through her body, and she gently squeezes his hands, wincing once more as she irritates her stitches with movement. Finn insists that she lies down as he informs her in on everything else: how talking to the police went (Finn going free in favor of self-defence – as Burt Hummel had explained that's what he'd seen to the police, for which Finn is extremely grateful. Being locked away is not something that he wants to happen.); how the wait for her to wake up had been excruciatingly long; and how he'd called Blaine after it'd happened.
She gasps, "Blaine knows? What did he say?"
"He was so worried about you. I could hear him and Kurt arguing about coming back to New York, just to see you, but I told him that we'd be there soon, after you're deemed safe to leave," he explains, idly playing with her fingers as he speaks, "when I told him about your Father he was just quiet for real long. I don't know – it was weird."
But Rachel doesn't find it weird at all, imagining that he felt like she did. Sadness, but at the same time relief, knowing that she's safe. She's free, just like she always wanted to be.
It takes a couple of weeks before she's released from the hospital, and then there's another two weeks where Finn is reluctant to let her do anything other than sit in bed all day, insisting that she needs rest. It's frustrating, but understandable, and she only gets irritated at him a little. They stay in Finn's apartment for those two weeks, Rachel not fancying to go to her home and relive the experience of that night.
The house is technically in Blaine's name now, but she's guessing that he's not going to want it either, and they'll probably sell the building at some point, when they've discussed it together.
So when she and Finn finally set their sights for San Francisco, she couldn't be more happy, or relieved. It takes them five days in all, and Finn's still being a little overprotective of her, but it's worth the entire drive when she finds herself waiting outside Blaine and Kurt's apartment. The only thing stopping her from bursting inside and practically jumping on Blaine is her own stupid fears. "What if he's changed? What if he's different?" It's been months, and he's had this whole new life while she's been in New York. Things aren't going to be the same, are they?
Finn just kisses her gently and smiles, "go and find out for yourself."
Rachel gives him a look, before he's pushing her nearer the door by the small of her back, an encouraging expression on his face. With a deep breath, she knocks on the door and waits. Her limbs are jittery, stomach churning uneasily, but then the door opens and she finds herself face to face with Kurt.
His smile grows in an instant and, before she knows it, he's calling out her name and enveloping her in a tight hug. "I missed you so much," she mumbles against his shoulder.
"Blaine?" she pulls back from Kurt in an instant, eyes landing on her brother. He looks as though he's half way through getting dressed, a few of his shirt buttons undone, tie completely forgone and hair a mass of curls atop his head, but she doesn't care. Not one bit. She pretty much throws herself at him, "Blaine!" and then commences to speak to him in such a quick paced speech that he just stares back in confusion.
Once she's calmed down, he takes his turn in talking at an alarming rate, mainly asking about her wellbeing, and then he's demanding to see her wound, to make sure it's healing properly. The second he looks down and sees the tiny bump protruding from her stomach, his thick eyebrows knit together. He stares up at her, "Rachel?"
She turns back to Finn, who is staring at the ground, avoiding all possible looks. "Finn didn't tell you?"
Blaine's eyes widen. "He got you… you're… you're going to have a…" And that's the precise moment that his eyes roll to the back of his head and he faints to the ground.
"Oh my, Blaine!" she covers her mouth with her hands, watching as Kurt and Finn help him onto the sofa. Well, she hadn't been expecting that reaction, but at least he's not angry. When Blaine returns to the land of the living, they all sit at the small table that they have and discuss everything, for hours on end. By the time they finish, she's leaning her head on Finn's shoulder, her eyes threatening to close shut, but it's the arrival of Kurt and Blaine's roommate that startles her awake.
Santana is kind of crass and says what she thinks, and she seems to find it amusing that there's someone smaller than Blaine, but other than that she is nice enough. She's just… different to what Rachel's used to, yet if there's any time to adapt, it's now, and Rachel knows for that. She's ready for the change.
She looks over to Finn and smiles, a 'thank you' never leaving her lips, but he knows what her smile means, and he smiles back, too.
So that's it. Complete!
I am completely floored by the wonderful support of all the people who read/favourite/story alert/review this fic. It means so much to me and I really hope you've enjoyed reading this fic as much as I have writing it.
Also this last chapter is dedicated to Tara, for her undying support, and just because she's amazing :)
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