Hello… is anyone there left reading? LOL. I can't believe it's been SIX months since I last updated. After I published the last chapter of this fic I had every intention of publishing the next soon after, but then life became crazy busy. My workload increased dramatically, and I suddenly found that it was taking me weeks to even get the chance to sit down to write one page. And then, in bizarre timing, I finally cleared my schedule so I could start writing chapter 11 on July 14. And, one day before that, we all know what happened. Losing Cory devastated me as much as every other fan, and I wasn't right for weeks. I spent most of the first week in tears, and then went a little catatonic. I still can't believe it. It's every Cory (and Monchele) fan's nightmare, and it's hard to believe it actually came true. And I'm still coming to terms with it, like all of us. Anyway, I didn't think I'd ever finish this fic after that, but now here we are, four months later, and I finally found I could write about Finn again. So I hope this chapter is OK - I haven't written fiction since the last one! And there will be one more chapter after this. You may want to read back the last chapter or two so you know what's going on, lol. Oh, and there isn't a lot of smut in this chapter, or rather, it's not as detailed as it usually is *gulps* sorry about that for those who like it! ;)

"I am his… forevermore."

Barbra's impassioned voice held Rachel's entire body hostage until the credits began to roll up the screen. Finn's face was so close to hers as they lay entwined on her couch that he could have kissed her nose without moving a muscle. His eyes flicked to hers and noticed her pretty brown irises had turned glassy as she watched, and he couldn't stop the smile that curled into the corners of his mouth as her hand stayed tense with concentration in his. As he stared at her his eyes sparkled with affection, finding it so cute that she was still so stirred by a movie she had clearly seen at least 20 times.

And, he had to admit, the movie Funny Girl was pretty good. It was the kind of film he'd never have imagined Quinn being able to talk him into watching – not only was it a total chick flick, but it was also old and the hairstyles were weird – but, with Rachel, he felt like he'd really enjoyed it because he knew she loved it so much. He'd come to realize that some of his favorite things to do were the things that she loved; it brought him an undeniable sense of comfort he'd never felt before.

Acting on instinct, Finn suddenly leaned forward and cupped Rachel's face with his hands, making her giggle as he planted spontaneous, soft kisses all over her lips and cheeks.

"Finn… it tickles," Rachel mumbled in pretend protest before she moved to connect their mouths again, pressing her soft lips into his. The taste was divine, and within seconds their mouths were open and their tongues were sliding around each other's, Finn's jeans tightening with a growing heat as he gripped her tiny neck in his hands and let their kiss arouse him to a hardness that wouldn't back down until it had what it wanted.

A gentle moan tumbled out of Rachel's mouth as Finn's kisses intensified, his tongue sweet and soft, and wanting to be licked and sucked, and she rolled onto her back as his large frame climbed over her, her legs falling open in unabashed invitation, the way they always seemed to in his presence. Their bodies came together like magnets as Rachel cried out softly and clutched Finn's hair in her hand, his thick erection begging for relief as he pushed himself against her panties that were darkening with moisture, his hand hitching her skirt high up over her thighs. Crying out softly, Rachel let her face fall to the side as Finn's tongue began swirling up and down her neck, her hand fumbling for the button on his jeans as his thickness pressed against her in request for her to hurry.

And within seconds the familiar feeling of fullness engulfed Rachel as she moaned, Finn's breath becoming ragged as he sunk himself all the way inside her, both of them stopping still for a moment as his length lay completely surrounded by the wet warmth of Rachel Berry – the only place it ever wanted to be. And, as his eyes moved down to meet hers, amber locking with brown as her eyelids drooped with desire, the sight of both love and lust that she gave him made Finn want to do things to her that made his body shake with need. Sweat dripped from his brow as he squeezed the round globes of her ass in his bare hands and began his relentless sliding in and out, pushing her thighs higher in the air and pounding her little body until she cried out and saw stars.

I am his… forevermore.

Rachel held the slightly crumpled photo in her hand, her legs folded under her as she sat with her arms draped over a half-filled cardboard box. Her heart squeezed to almost the point of physical pain as she gazed at the smiling couple; Finn's dimpled face lighting up the frame as Rachel stood with her tiny arms wrapped around him in front of Lake Erin. She sighed as she let the only photo she'd ever printed of them – a safety mechanism to minimize the chances of someone finding it – fall into the box, a haphazard mix of household objects beneath it as she continued her distracted attempt at packing.

Rachel sighed heavily as she tried to focus her mind on the audio book that was playing in the background, Smarter Choices: Avoiding the High Cost of Wrong Decisions, which she'd been playing all morning in an attempt to keep her mind off Finn.

The tension in her body caused her to nearly screech when something soft suddenly brushed against her leg. She quickly realized it was just Trouble passing through the room and pushing past her with cranky purpose, the cat making his disapproval clear ever since Rachel had sold her chair that he liked to sit on. She reached for the cat to give it a cuddle, wishing he would just understand that moving house means selling furniture, but all she felt was fur escaping through her fingers as Trouble scampered away from her to sulk some more.

Oh have it your way, you cantankerous cat. I guarantee your despondent temperament is the least of my problems right now. As is your crack habit. You may as well open up shop again and deal to the community. I don't believe I even have the energy to stop you. Deal away, Trouble.

"…and when a mistake is considered truly outrageous, its crippling effects can be lifelong."

As Rachel's restless mind tried to focus on the somber words that were playing on the audio book, she jumped a little again when her phone suddenly beeped inside her pocket. As she turned down the CD and reached for it, her chest sunk like a rock in a river before she even answered, the Jukebox Hero ring tone telling her who was on the other line. She took a deep breath.

"Hello, Finn," she said softly.

"Hey, beautiful," he replied, his smile audible. Rachel tried to hide her sigh as his warm voice relaxed her just a little. "How's it all going over there?" he asked.

Rachel appraised her surroundings. Barring a few basic pieces, including her sofa, much of her furniture had already been picked up by buyers; the room scattered with boxes that were strewn around the place without her usual strategic methodology – each one a disorderly symbol of how her heart just wasn't in this. If it had been, her boxes would have been neatly aligned in order of object type, each one clearly labeled with a gold pen. But, this time, the familiar desire to be neat had vanished. Neatness felt like such a waste of time at a time like this.

She looked down at her lap. "It's going fine, I guess. I'm probably about halfway through."

She could hear Finn's voice deepen a little as the topic turned to one that had become a little controversial over the past week. "And you're sure I can't come over and help?" he continued.

Rachel sighed, trying to keep her anxiety under a camouflage that even Finn couldn't penetrate. "I'm sure, Finn, as I've expressed to you many times already. But thank you."

"Ok, well I just worry about you hurting yourself or something," Finn replied.

"You mean from a falling pen?" Rachel asked, not unkindly, as she dropped a couple of pens from her coffee table into a box.

"Hey, pens can be sharp," Finn replied in sheepish defense, his warm voice making Rachel tilt her cheek affectionately toward the receiver.

"Finn, you have very kindly assisted me with the selling of my furniture," Rachel said, as she continued clearing her coffee table into the box. "You really needn't help me pack up my incidentals into boxes when you still have your own packing to do."

"I know," Finn replied with his own sigh. She could tell he was looking around his room with his phone pressed against his cheek. "I don't even know where to start. Moving sucks."

Rachel didn't know what to say, so she just swallowed hard.

"But it's totally worth it, in this case," Finn continued quickly, grinning into the phone.

Rachel couldn't have stopped her face falling if she'd tried, and she was glad Finn wasn't there to see it. She rubbed her eyes, forgetting the contact lenses she'd begun wearing ever since she first tried them out at prom. As they burned against her fingertips, she reminded herself that this was the real reason she had kept Finn away from her house as she packed up her things. She knew she wouldn't have had a chance of holding herself together in his enthusiastic company. She hadn't even been able to accept her dads' offer to come and help, which had worked out better for them anyway, given how they still couldn't quote imagine their baby girl moving to another city without choking up.

But, as she sat there crouched over, and hearing Finn waiting on the phone for a response, Rachel shook herself into action as she had done so many times over the past few weeks.

"Of course, Finn," she eventually replied, trying to keep her voice light and warm. "Moving will be very much worth it." She even managed a smile.

A moment of silence passed between them. "And you're still okay with everything?" Finn blurted softly, his voice tightening just a little.

Thrown by the unexpected question, Rachel looked up at the empty wall ahead of her, where her cat tapestry used to hang.

Well? Are you still okay with everything, Rachel?

Tears threatened her eyes again as she felt Chairman Meow staring at her from the corner, unsure of his position in the house now that Trouble was having such a temper tantrum.

"Rachel?" Finn repeated, an almost imperceptible trace of anxiety filtering into his voice.

Rachel wanted to shake herself. "Yes," she replied quickly as she licked her dry lips. "Of course I'm still okay with everything."

Finn sighed happily into the phone. She could hear him tugging at his hair with his fingers. She'd come to know all his sounds so well, even through the phone.

Finn tugging at his hair.
Finn running his hand along his jaw.
Finn swallowing with concentration.
Finn shuffling because they were watching The Bachelor instead of ESPN.
Finn breathless and wanting her.

"Just checking," he replied softly, the relief clear in his voice. He paused for a minute, before continuing a little nervously. "I know how hard this must be for you, Rachel."

Rachel placed her hands over her eyes, glad that Finn couldn't see the gesture. This was the first time they'd actually talked about it since they'd come back from Lake Erin, when Rachel had promised Finn she'd move to Georgia with him. In the few weeks that had passed since, Finn had concentrated on trying to contain his almost palpable excitement, while Rachel felt herself slowly turning to stone, day by day, inch by inch, one body part at a time.

And now all that was left that still felt painfully alive was her heart, and Finn's words were beginning to undo all the concrete walls that she'd built around it.

Just three more days, Rachel. Just three more days.

"Thank you, Finn," she replied tightly, hoping her words would end the conversation.

But they didn't.

"Hey, I really want to say something," Finn blurted, the sincereness of his tone freezing her to the spot.

"Yes?" She managed to reply.

Finn took a deep breath. "I've kinda been wanting to say this to you for awhile now, but, t-to tell you the truth, I was kind of worried, because I didn't want to even make you think about it." Rachel could feel her brow lining with a fearful confusion. "Like, I didn't want to say something that might blow off my own foot and give you second thoughts."

"What are you trying to say, Finn?" Rachel replied as her hand clenched tensely around the phone.

Finn cleared his throat. "Sorry… fuck. I'm crap at expressing myself. "I just mean… I just want to thank you, Rachel. So much. For coming with me."

Rachel's brow creased as she nodded into the phone. Her eyes crumpled together as if that might stop the tears that longed to fall.

"Of course, F-Finn," she managed to reply. "You don't need to thank me."

"I do," Finn replied urgently, his voice soft. "I just want you to know that… I know this isn't how you wanted things to go." She could hear the apology in his sigh. "And I feel really bad about that."

"Please don't feel bad," she cut in weakly.

"I do," Finn replied. "I can't help it. But I just want you to know that I really, really appreciate it. I know that you're the one making all the sacrifices here. And I'm gonna do everything I can to make you see that it was the right decision, Rachel," he continued, as Rachel tried to focus on that blank white wall in front of her. "I'm gonna make sure you love Georgia, and that you're happy there. Whatever it takes."

The heartfelt, almost naive promise in Finn's voice almost made Rachel crack.

Hold on, Rachel. You've been doing so well. Just three more days.

"I just really love you," Finn continued softly.

Rachel sighed deeply as Chairman Meow's newfound confidence caused him to slowly prance over to her.

"I love you, too, Finn," she replied, the truth finally finding her words the way it needed to. "And thank you for saying those things."

Chairman Meow nuzzled her leg as if he could sense her sadness and was trying to offer some comfort. She reached down and brushed his fur with her fingers.

"My little Rachel Berry," Finn said with affection, his smile returning to his voice, which carried a familiar cheekiness.

"Little?" Rachel asked as her brows rose. "I'm nearly six years older than you, Finn Hudson."

Finn laughed into the phone. "Fuck age. I'm about fifty thousand times stronger than you. And about ten times your body weight. I could pin you down with one finger and not even break a sweat."

Rachel pulled her soft, comforting cat up to her chest as she leaned back on her sofa.

"Of course you are stronger than me," she replied. "And taller. And larger. And more handsome."

"Whoa," Finn cut in. "I don't think girls can be called handsome. If you were more handsome than me I think I'd be a bit worried."

"Don't be ridiculous, Finn," Rachel scoffed lightly as she reached for a vase and placed it into a box, the lighter subject causing her energy to return a little. "Of course women can be called handsome. Usually, such women are quite dignified and mature. For example: I happen to find Barbra Streisand very handsome."

Finn chuckled. "Geez, do I need to get you and this Barbara chick a room?"

"Finn, please don't call Barbra a chick," Rachel replied as she winced.

"Well, anyway," Finn continued. "I thought only dudes could be handsome. So there you go. You're also smarter than me, like that wasn't already obvious. Littler and smarter. Little, smarter, and sexier."

Rachel could almost see the twinkle in Finn's eye as she heard him bite into an apple.

The thought that he was – once again – calling his girlfriend on the phone and eating snacks instead of doing the packing he was meant to be doing made Rachel want to scold him like a mother and rip his clothes off at the same time.

But instead she just played along, the conversation undoubtedly lifting her spirits. Talking to Finn always calmed her down, even when talking to Finn was the problem. The tragic irony of that wasn't lost on her.

"I am not smarter than you, Finn," Rachel replied sincerely. "I am merely older and more educated. You will catch up soon enough. And I am 100 per cent, categorically and unequivocally not sexier than you."

Finn laughed a little as he swallowed his apple. "Whatever you say, sexy. I'm a fucking lump of coal next to your burning hot little body."

Rachel rolled her eyes with an affectionate blush. "Finn, for a start, coal can be one of the hottest elements on earth, and is actually burned to produce heat and energy–"

"–Uh, I didn't realize college had started yet," Finn cut in sarcastically, taking another bite of his apple.

Rachel just shook her head. "Secondly, you are quite misguided if you believe you can ever convince me that I am a sexier person than you. Thirdly, I have repeatedly requested that you please do not swear in front of me. I do not enjoy it."

Finn just laughed softly, brushing off her words. "Sometimes you enjoy it, actually."

Something in his tone made Rachel's neck turn hot.

"Oh, I see," she replied, sitting up on her knees. "You have become an expert on my responsiveness to swearing?"

"I have, as a matter of fact."

"Well, isn't that interesting." Rachel could hear the brazen tone in her voice that only Finn could inspire, even though she was trying to sound stern. "Enlighten me. When do I enjoy you speaking bad words to me?"

Finn laughed. "Bad words? Um… you know you like it when I talk bad words to you."

Rachel's mouth fell open just a little, even the sound of Finn's knowing breath making her cheeks blush.

I wonder if any other man will ever be able to make me feel this way.

The most likely answer to that hit her like a freight train.

"Finn…" she just murmured, hearing the slight plea in her tone. The plea for the satisfaction to the endless ache that only Finn caused and only Finn could relieve.

"Baby, you know I love to talk bad to you," he softly, his voice turning hot with huskiness.

"Finn…" Rachel pleaded again.

If only I had a dollar for every time I said Finn's name in that way.
I'd have at least forty dollars.

"And you know how much I want you," Finn continued, his voice turning needy. "All the time."

Rachel went to reply with something equally as provocative, before she heard herself sighing heavily instead, reality refusing to leave the room. "Well…" she mumbled as she looked at the floor. "That will change soon enough."

She could almost hear Finn's brow crease. "Huh?"

"You will tire of it, Finn," Rachel replied softly, trying not to sound as defeated as she felt. And that she truly believed. "There may even come a day when the mere thought makes you ill."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Finn cut in, sounding genuinely shocked. "Rachel, I'm embarrassed by how hot you make me." His hand moved to the apex of his thighs as a reflex, as he remembered so many occasions where he'd had to picture the mailman around Rachel.

"Finn," Rachel hissed softly, trying to divert him away from the road he was travelling down. "I'm just making sure you're aware that, when two people are in a very long-term relationship –"

"Nope," Finn just cut in firmly as he finished off his apple. "No more of this talk. You just see where things are at when you're knocked up and pregnant with little baby Finn – or even better: little baby Rachel – and how much I still want you."

Little baby Finn.

"So, on that note… a bit of Berry 'the world's gonna end', a bit of me telling you how epically sexy you are – I think we can call this one of our typical conversations," Finn replied, the upbeat smile in his voice causing Rachel's cheeks to widen.

How do you do it, Finn Hudson? How do you own me the way you do?

And, after several more minutes of harmless chatting that left them both a little giddy, they said their reluctant goodbyes and Rachel moved to flop onto her couch, feeling how exhausted the conversation had made her. For a few minutes she just lay there, before her eyes dropped to the empty notepad sitting out on the table, waiting.

And, finally, Rachel began to cry.

Rachel craned her neck a little to see past the bodies seated in front of her, forever one of the tiniest people in any crowd. As her good friend Emma Pilsbury beamed from the auditorium stage as she handed Finn his high school diploma, Rachel felt her cheeks flush with pride as she brought her hands together and clapped along with the audience of parents and teachers.

Cloaked in his red graduation outfit, Finn turned to face the rows of seats, searching for his mom's face before finding it, lifting up the curled piece of paper in her direction as he smiled. Rachel could only see the back of Mrs. Hudson-Hummel, who was seated several rows in front of her, but she could see that the woman's hands were boisterously clapping together. Something deep inside Rachel pinched at the thought that this was a woman she'd never come to know the way she wanted to – the mother of the man she loved – but she deleted the unhelpful feeling as fast as it came.

Rachel glanced back toward the stage, seeing that Finn's eyes were looking right at her, before he turned back to join the line-up of graduated students along the the back of the stage. Rachel felt redness seep back into her cheeks as she looked down for a moment, before glancing up again into his tractor beam stare. And, just for a moment, even though they were surrounded by the people who would be the most shocked and affected by their love, Finn and Rachel smiled at each other for an exhilaratingly long moment of freedom.

Less than an hour later, Rachel was standing outside in the schoolyard, gripping a plastic cup filled with cheap sparkling wine as parents, teachers and students mingled around her. She tried to avoid the stalkerish stare of Harry Prince, a face that had become nothing more than an irritation to her now, as she took comfort in the fact that, at least her move away from Lima would mean she wouldn't have to put up with his invasive and misguided affections anymore.

The atmosphere was as electric as Rachel had ever felt it at McKinley, as eighteen-year-olds high-fived each other and breathed in the freshness of independence. And, as Rachel gulped for air over the realization of what that meant for Finn, and them, her stomach battled a surge of nausea. She sipped some more fizzy wine to try to swallow the feeling, but it only made her feel worse.

Two days, Rachel. Just two more days.

"Rachel?" The soft voice fluttered into Rachel's ears as she flicked her head up from her gloomy stupor into Emma's wide brown eyes. "Are you OK?" While Emma was smiling, it was clear that she had noticed Rachel's bleak expression.

Rachel's first instinct was to flick her eyebrows up like they were made of rubber bands. "Pardon me? I'm absolutely fine, thank you Emma, why do you ask?"

Emma just frowned a little at Rachel's overcompensating response, her eyes dissecting Rachel's ashen face, before Rachel suddenly felt a gentle hand grip her arm from behind. She spun around to face the other way, unsteady on her feet.

Her minor queasiness upgraded its status to major as she looked right into the face of Mrs. Hudson-Hummel, Finn towering over her from behind, as he whispered, "Mom!"

"Don't be silly Finn," the friendly-faced woman scoffed with a smile as she stepped right into Rachel's space, taking her small hands in hers and squeezing them together.

Oh my goodness, Rachel Berry, the twilight zone is an actual phenomenon and you are in it right now. A mysterious land of shadows and dimensions, and Mrs. Hudson-Hummels.

"Mrs. Berry?" Finn's mom asked Rachel's blanking face, before suddenly shaking her head at herself a little. "Oh, shoot, I don't even know if you're married," she turned to Finn. "Is she –"

"–She's not married, mom," Finn cut in under his breath as his eyes met Rachel's, the invisible electricity between them sparking a little. Rachel looked back at Mrs. Hudson-Hummel, still totally confused about what was going on.

"Ms. Berry," Finn's mom corrected as she smiled back at Rachel, freeing Rachel's sweaty hands. "I'm Finn Hudson's mother, Carole." She gestured to Finn when she said that, as if Rachel might not actually know which student she was talking about.

It's okay, Mrs. Hudson-Hummel. I believe I am fairly well acquainted with your son.

"Hello," Rachel managed to squeak, suppressing another wave of nausea. "Please call me Rachel." She offered the woman a confused smile, before the energetic Carole leaned back in to her space.

"Lovely to meet you, Rachel," she said. "I'm Carole. And I don't want to keep you – actually, we need to leave in a minute as my other son has already left with his dad for an important audition…" She leaned in closer to Rachel, lifting her hand up in a pretend whisper. "He's the talented one, like his father," Carole smiled with a wink as Finn just brought a hand up to his face with embarrassment. Rachel couldn't help but smile as Carole continued to waffle her words. "Finn's got my two left feet, but we love him to death anyway!" She rubbed Finn's arm, ignoring his continuing facepalm. "But I really wanted to just thank you for helping Finn these past few months." Carole's face turned serious as she looked at Rachel. "Quite frankly," she said sincerely, "I think you may have changed his life."

Rachel's throat dried up faster than the Gobi desert. "I'm s-sorry," she replied thinly. "What do you mean?" Rachel could feel Finn's eyes on hers, but she couldn't bring herself to look at him.

"Your help with his studies," Carole replied with a confused frown, as if Rachel should know what she was talking about. "Finn's been telling me all about the extra assistance you've given him these past few months, and the tutoring, and…" she looked up at her son, her face warm with an affection for Finn that Rachel recognized. "And I don't want to embarrass him," Carole continued, "or imply that he's anything less than a bright boy, but, well… in all honesty, I wasn't sure if he was going to go to college before he began working with you, and I believe it made all the difference."

Rachel swallowed tightly as she nodded. "Of course, Carole," she replied awkwardly, her eyes anywhere but on Finn. "Finn is a h-highly intelligent man, and to be quite frank, he achieved this incredible accomplishment mostly on his own."

All on his own, Rachel Barbra. Do you not recall your attempt at tutoring Finn at home?

Rachel's face turned hotter than the August sun as Carole beamed up at her son with pride. "Well thank you very much again," she repeated warmly as she turned back to Rachel, "You are a wonderful teacher, and you've really made a difference to my son's life."

Rachel's eyes met Finn's for a moment.

"Thank you, Carole," Rachel quickly replied, as the burly woman turned back to Finn and took his arm. "Well, Finn, we should go – I'm just going to find the bathroom first."

"Ok," he replied as he stood there awkwardly, unsure whether to follow her or not.

"Goodbye, Rachel," Carole smiled. "I hope next year is a lovely year for you at McKinley."

Rachel blushed as she smiled in thanks, before Carole turned and headed toward the nearest building, reminding Finn she'd meet him at the entrance in a few minutes.

Finn just slipped his hands into his pockets a little stiffly as he looked back at Rachel and murmured, "Well I, too, hope next y-year is an awesome one for you at McKinley, Ms. Berry. And–"

Rachel's soft chuckle poured naturally out of her mouth as she began talking right over him, the cuteness of his pretend awkwardness making her forget her melancholy for just a moment. "There's no need to be facetious, Finn," she replied warmly. "Although that was certainly awkward," she continued under her breath, her face still red. "I can't say I'm familiar with speaking with the parents of students I'm dating."

As her dark eyes searched for his smile, her brows lifted with surprise when, instead, she saw Finn's face turn white.

"Finn?" she asked with confusion, as his eyes flicked past hers to something behind her, his mouth dropping open with bewilderment.

And, as Rachel quickly flicked her body around, she realized that Emma Pilsbury was still standing right behind her, her brown eyes widening with shock.

As Finn went to dial Rachel's number for the twelfth time later that night, he thought about using that phone to punch himself hard in the face for being such a dick and running off like that. The last thing he remembered was Miss Pilsbury's horrified face as she looked at Rachel, and then back at Finn, and then back at Rachel, before he mumbled an uncomfortable goodbye and headed in the other direction, hoping his mom was already done in the bathroom.

He'd left her there.

He'd left Rachel alone with Miss Pilsbury to explain, and now she wasn't even answering her phone or replying to his texts.

You big, giant, dumb fuck.

The sound of Rachel's sweet voice on her voicemail again made Finn throw the phone at his bed.

How could you leave her there? And you only recently got her to trust you. You epic ASSHAT.

Finn dropped back into his desk chair and placed his head in his hands, surrounded by boxes and more junk to riffle through and decide whether to keep or not. It all seemed so insignificant; so stupid. There was only one thing that he wanted to take to Georgia. And she wasn't even answering her phone.

Overcome with the exhaustion of worry, Finn flopped back on to the bed and imagined folding Rachel's tiny body into one of his boxes and literally packing her away for Georgia, letting the smile reach his face as he realized she'd fit perfectly inside. He rolled onto his side as he gripped his pillow and tried to shut eyes, like the action might also seal off the worry from his mind. A minute later he was holding his phone again, looking to see if there were any texts, even though he would have heard it beep. He sighed deeply as he decided to send just one more:

I am so sorry. please talk to me. I love you.

He closed his eyes and left the phone close to his head, waiting for the reply that never came. When Finn opened his eyes again, it was morning.

When Finn still hadn't had any response from Rachel by the following afternoon, the tightrope that had formed inside his chest finally snapped. He threw his video game controller at the wall and leaped up from his sofa chair.

"You heading out?" Carole asked as she passed through the room carrying fresh flowers from the garden.

"Going upstairs to finish packing," Finn replied glumly as he headed for the stairs.

"Oh, great," Carole replied, her endless to-do list of household chores making her oblivious to his mood. "I was beginning to think you were waiting for me to do it for you." She threw Finn a smirk before heading into the kitchen, Finn just ignoring her comment as he thundered up the stairs.

The privacy of his room freed him to release the deep sigh he'd been holding in, as his stomach knotted with sickness. The last time he'd felt this bad was when Rachel had called off their affair, which felt like a lifetime ago now. His eyes fell on the duffel bag sitting on his chair that contained the 'Top Schools in Athens, Georgia' book that he was going to surprise her with on the plane. Anger welled in his chest before he kicked his chair to the side, frustrated with himself for feeling this way.

He refused to call her one more time. He'd thought about driving over to her house, but his pride wouldn't let him. He felt upset with Rachel for ignoring him this way, but even angrier at himself for pissing her off this much by running away from her and Miss Pilsbury as soon as the going got tough.

The going got tough, and you got going, didn't you. Asshat.

As Finn sit down on his bed, he closed his eyes and pictured the image that made his heart hurt: He and Rachel are entering a University of Georgia party, hand in hand, with the secrecy and sneaking around that had contaminated their relationship finally behind them as they raise their red cups in a cheers and begin to make lifelong friends in their new city.

That's if it's all still on.

The unbearable thought had been plaguing Finn since last night.

What if Rachel has changed her mind and isn't coming to Georgia?
What if Miss Pilsbury talked her out of it?
What if Miss Pilsbury told the school board?
What if Rachel was arrested last night!

Finn didn't know the first thing about the law, and if she'd broken it. Maybe she had been thrown in prison overnight. It would explain her not calling him back or replying to his texts.


Finn couldn't believe it had taken him this long to figure it out. His hands quivered as he began hunting through three pairs of jeans laying on the floor for his car keys. And, when he finally found them, within a minute he was pulling out of the driveway, his body practically shaking as his boxes sat empty in his room.

Finn pressed Rachel's doorbell so hard and fast he thought his finger might fall off.

When the door suddenly opened, instant relief swept through his body, before his stomach plummeted when he realized he was standing face to face with Emma Pilsbury.

Both their mouths dropped open a little as they froze, before Finn's worry for Rachel's wellbeing overpowered every other anxiety.

"Hi, is i-is Rachel home?" he blurted urgently, hearing the nerves in his voice.

Emma glanced over her shoulder before turning back to Finn, her face even paler than it usually was. "Uh, yes, F-Finn, she… she is," she murmured softly as she looked down at the floor awkwardly, her huge eyes alarmed.

Finn's relief that Rachel wasn't in prison almost sent his body tumbling over. "Can I come in?" he asked urgently as he took a step forward, his pride all but gone and past the point of trying to pretend.

Emma wavered on her feet for a moment before opening the door wider as she swallowed hard on her words. "Yes, I… of course," she replied softly, reaching for her pink bag that was hanging behind the door and brushing past Finn as she moved on to the front porch. "I'm just going to… to run s-some errands," she continued, unable to look Finn in the eye. "Please tell Rach– Ms. Berry I'll call her later." Finn just nodded as he pushed the door open and rushed into Rachel's lounge room, consumed by worry.

"Was it the real estate agent, Emma?" he heard Rachel's weak voice ask as his eyes found her tiny frame sitting on the couch with her back to him, one of her cats nestled into her lap. His heart squeezed at the sight of her.

"It wasn't the real estate agent," Finn just replied huskily as Rachel's body flipped around in surprise, their eyes meeting.

Finn's heart tightened sharply at the sight of her eyes, swollen red from crying as she sat deep into the couch in grey sweat pants and a light pink singlet, used tissues scattered on the table in front of her.

"Finn…" she breathed with shock.

Finn just stood there staring at her, for some reason unable to speak.

"Oh God, Finn, I'm so sorry," Rachel whimpered as she dropped her face into her hands, her voice cracking as her eyes flooded with tears. She dabbed her eyes with a crumpled up wet tissue.

"For what? Where have you been?" Finn replied as he stepped forward, his voice cracking.

Rachel tried to speak, but all she could do was cry a little more into her tissue, her eyes tightly closed until the familiar scent of his shampoo arrived first, before she realised Finn's warm body had moved over to hers. Completely overcome by impulse, Rachel stood up, their bodies connecting like an electrical charge as she threw herself into his thick arms that wrapped tightly around her.

He could feel her tiny sobs as she hugged him tighter than she ever had before, his fingers finding her hair and stroking it lovingly, the scent like medicine to him. He was just so glad to be holding her again.

"Baby, what is going on?" Finn whispered into her hair. He squeezed her tighter.

Eventually Rachel lifted her face up to his, their mouths inches apart as he brushed tears away from her cheeks with his knuckle, her teary eyes looking into his.

"Finn, there is no excuse for me not calling you back last night," Rachel whimpered, her voice breathless from crying, and her tone making clear she was more than upset with herself. Finn's face softened a little with compassion, even though he was still confused about what was going on.

"It's ok–"

"–It's really not," Rachel replied as she shook her head. She only wished she could just tell Finn the truth. The real reason why she'd been avoiding him for the past few days. Why she'd been barely able to talk to Emma through her tears last night as she'd confessed so many suppressed emotions, let alone talk to Finn on the phone. She wished she could just tell Finn the reason why she was finally cracking into an epic meltdown that she'd foolishly thought she could stave off for another day or two. And, now, all she'd done was hurt him again.

Rachel heard Finn sigh as he held her in his arms. "Rachel, what is going on?" he repeated softly. "What happened with Miss Pilsbury? I'm so fucking sorry I left you there…" his arms tightened around her. I'm so sorry I just ran off like that. That was not cool."

Rachel just shook her head as she wiped her eyes with one hand, the other remaining tightly around his back that she didn't want to let go of. "It's okay, Finn," she replied as she looked at the floor. "It's a conversation I was honestly better off h-having with Emma alone." Her face darkened at the memory.

Finn brushed Rachel's damp hair from her eyes as the truth of the realization finally hit him. "So she knows," he confirmed, his voice weak. Rachel's eyes pooled with tears again before she nodded at the ground.

"She knows."

Finn released a heavy exhale as he suddenly took an unsteady step back, feeling overwhelmed. He rested his body on the edge of Rachel's sofa as she sat back down, the atmosphere thick as he reached for her hand and held it.

"Is she mad?" Finn asked, his voice faint.

Rachel sighed deeply before she thought about it.

"She's not mad, exactly," she replied softly, "But I don't think she understands it."

Rachel's mind flashed back to her and Emma sitting a few feet apart on the empty auditorium stage as Emma's mind whirled, her face colorless.

"The prom…" Emma suddenly blurted, looking back at Rachel with enormous, anxious eyes. Rachel's eyes stayed locked to the floor as her body shook with the shame of being caught in an unacceptable act. "Finn hit Harry at the prom," Emma continued, the penny dropping inside her mind as she blew through her lips to try to cure her queasiness.

Rachel's panicking mind flew back to the night that changed her relationship with Finn forever. "He didn't exactly h-hit Harry," she eventually replied under a breath that was so shaky she could barely speak, wanting herself to be anywhere other than in that conversation. "He just… pulled him off me when we were dancing."

Emma's response was silent, but Rachel could see her nodding out of the corner of her eye.

Emma shook her head a little, but mostly at herself. "And I'd thought Finn had a c-crush on you, but all the while…" her face paled even more. "You both had a crush on each other," Emma mumbled with slight but clear distaste, her whole body trembling.

For the first time since they'd sat down to talk, Emma felt Rachel looking right at her.

"It's not a crush, Emma," she replied softly, but with more firmness and conviction than anything she'd said yet. Emma looked back at Rachel, and for the first time, the two friends' eyes locked together. Rachel's face flushed with an honesty that even the school guidance counselor couldn't deny. She gave Emma a small shrug of helplessness. "We love each other."

After Rachel finished telling Finn about her conversation with Emma, leaving out the last part, they just sat there in silence for awhile, overcome by the reality that someone finally knew.

"Is she going to tell Figgins?" Finn finally whispered, forced to really consider for the first time how his mom, Burt, and Kurt would react. Given that Rachel was coming to Georgia with him, he already knew that, in time, he would need to tell his family the truth, but he'd always figured he'd have a lot more time.

But when he looked back at Rachel, she just shook her head.

"I told Emma that if she w-wanted to tell Principal Figgins, or the school board, that I wouldn't try to stop her," Rachel replied, her face paling at the thought. "But Emma is insisting that she won't tell anyone." Rachel could sense Finn's relief; the same feeling she'd had when Emma had said those words to her. "Because you have already graduated, and because she is my friend," Rachel continued to explain as she stroked Finn's fingers in hers, "she's going to do a very kind and unprofessional thing, and keep our secret."

When she looked back up at Finn, she saw his face lift with both bewilderment and hope. "So that's it?" he asked, not sure he could even believe it. "It's over?"

Rachel just looked back at him, the last few words he'd uttered stabbing her in the heart, even though he wouldn't understand why. And if she hadn't already cried herself out of tears that day, she'd have been crying again now.

"It's over," she managed to whisper, before she began dabbing her sore eyes again with her damp tissue.

One more day, Rachel. Just one more day.

And when Finn finally asked Rachel why she hadn't called him back, his voice gentle and caring as he slid down next to her on the sofa and pulled her against his chest, Rachel sighed deeply and told him she'd just been too upset after her talk with Emma, and that their conversation had rattled her so much that Emma had offered to stay the night, and she'd taken the chance to make sure their friendship was still okay.

But now they were alone again, and Rachel already knew that Emma wouldn't come back to the house that night without Rachel's permission. And, right now, Rachel only wanted Finn. For minutes on end they just sat there as he stroked her hair and she looked down at his skin, savoring every part, her eyes memorizing every freckle on his thick arm, every vein, every hair. Eventually, Rachel stood up gently and reached for Finn's hand. As he looked up at her and accepted her fingers with his, Rachel smiled down at him, her heart as whole as it was ever going to be in her life.

"I love you, Finn." she said softly.

His just gazed up at her, her eyes ablaze. "I love you," he replied, before he stood up and followed Rachel into her bedroom. And on their last night before their scheduled departure for Georgia, when Rachel closed her door behind them, he was already kissing her.

Finn glanced down at his watch as the taxi turned on to Rachel's street, his duffel bag stretched over his thighs. It was 10:53am. He was early. Yawning through the jittery excitement that was brewing deep in his stomach, he marveled that he was awake at all, given how little sleep he'd had the night before, and made a mental note to try to get some shut-eye on the plane. He'd planned for a good night's rest before their flight, wanting to arrive in their new home bright-eyed and full of energy, but when their hungry mouths had finally met as he'd carried her into her room, his body had succumbed to other wants. They'd made love twice before bed that night – breaking only for dinner – their first coming together as sweet as it was needy; every touch, every kiss, every push of his hips tender with apology after their day spent painfully apart.

And then, somewhere in the dead of night, the sweat in Finn's hair just dried, he'd woken up to feel her climbing him again, her little body burning with a wet heat as she'd parted her legs on top of him and gently rocked her slickness up and down him until he was firm enough to sink himself deep inside her soaked center, his half-asleep voice moaning huskily. As Rachel had cried out and dug her nails into his arms, their movements soon became more physically intense, although no less emotionally true. Finn sat up and fisted the hair that tumbled down her brown back, pulling it until she moaned as he thrust himself deeper inside her, filling her with a thickness that made her feel like she could burst, as the sound of wet sliding and skin on skin filled the room. Overcome with a sudden need so primal that he didn't quite understand the cause of it, Finn took Rachel in every way he could get to her - from underneath, as she sat on top of him in a perfect little curve and let him smack himself hard into her; from on top, as she lay below him with those provocative eyes of hers that had started all this in the first place, her aroused gaze making him so hard he moaned with every thrust; from behind, as he flipped her breathless body over and pulled her up on all fours, holding her down with his hands as he trapped her with deep, wet movements that made her cry out; and even against the wall, their hair messy with sleep and their bodies hot with sex as Finn pounded her little wetness so hard and deep he almost bruised her. Rachel wrapped legs, arms and fingers around every Finn Hudson body part she could get her hands on, the room silent to all but the sounds of smacking, and moaning, and grunting, as Finn took his girl so hard and deep she wouldn't walk straight for days, her scratch marks tattooing him for a week.

Finn instinctively shifted his legs at the arousing memory as his mind turned to the last image from the night before: Rachel's repeated "I love you"s, and his same response until they'd both fallen asleep, arm in arm. And now, here he was back at Rachel's house, which he had left at dawn that morning to rush home and complete the fastest packing session in history. After shoving down a piece of toast, he'd hugged his mom, step-dad and step-brother goodbye faster than any of them wanted to, his parents still a little miffed after he'd told them he'd slept at Puck's the night before for their last night together in Lima. His mom had also been a little sore at him for leaving his packing to the eleventh hour, too, the movers due to collect his boxes later that day, but when he'd thundered down the stairs that morning with a relieved smile, his expression revealing he'd finished just in time, Carole had taken one look at his sweet face and fallen into a heap of tears. Even as he was climbing into his taxi she was still offering to drive him to the airport, Finn gently reminding her that this was all part of him learning how to look after himself, and that it was something he wanted to do, and that he didn't want her to lose her day's wages because of him.

And now there he was, back at his girlfriend's house, his face crinkling into a silent smirk as he contemplated that he'd actually gotten away with it – making it all the way through their relationship in Lima without anyone suspecting a thing. Apart from Miss Pilsbury, of course, which wasn't even his fault. As Finn slid his duffel bag down to the taxi floor in front of him to make room for Rachel, he still couldn't quite believe that he was this lucky. He didn't even try to hide his smile as he asked the driver to wait for just a minute and opened his door.

Looking back on it later, Finn wished he'd savored that moment more as he'd strolled down Rachel's path – that moment of pure, innocent, and hopeful happiness. He'd seen their future as he'd walked toward her door, the image finding his mind before he even spotted the folded note that was pinned to the door and flapping gently in the wind. As he headed down her path, Finn had imagined himself opening the door to their family home in years to come, their kids running toward him as he dropped his keys on the table, Rachel stepping into the room and flashing him that radiant smile as he scooped up a child in each arm and beamed back at her, his heart beating harder as he took in her sight.

But then, as Finn arrived at Rachel's door, all he saw was that folded note flapping gently in the wind as his brow creased a little with surprise.

Knowing they had a plane to catch, he quickly pressed the doorbell a couple of times before he even reached for the note, hearing its hollow chime as he stood there and looked at it, assuming it must have been for the agent, or movers, or maybe even Miss Pilsbury.

But then he saw his name.


It was scrawled onto the front of the note in her trademark cursive writing, a gold star placed next to it. Finn's immediate instinct was to worry – why was she leaving him a note when they had to leave for the airport? Was she okay? Was she sick? Did she forget something? Was there an emergency at the school?

But then, as he pulled the note off the door and begin reading, his eyes flashed open wide with shock and his breath seized up. His chest tightened so hard and fast it almost sent him tumbling over as his eyes began darting down the page, scanning the words that were to unbelievable to be true for some sort of explanation. But as the the impossible words just continued as they were, relentlessly attacking his eyes like enemy soldiers, Finn stood there and read and read, trapped by the horrific words that seemed to never end as his eyes watered and his hands shook. Feeling such a sudden anguish in his chest that he hadn't felt since his dad died, when Finn finally finished the letter he crushed it in his fist before he brought his palms up to his eyes to stop the leaking. He felt like he was on another planet. It had to be a joke; it had to be. His entire body shaking, he suddenly lurched forward and began banging on Rachel's door, switching between pressing her doorbell and pounding on the door as he called out her name, until he eventually accepted that nobody was going to answer. Feeling the tears already escaping down his cheeks and as the panic grew inside his heart, Finn scaled one of Rachel's hedges to run to her window, holding his trembling hands up to the glass to peer inside. And it was when Finn saw nothing inside but her empty sofa, with no more boxes, no cats, no life inside, that Finn dropped to the ground, his back sliding down Rachel's wall as he pressed his face into his hands and began to sob.

Emma Pilsbury looked down at the offensive fleck on her otherwise spotless office shelf, wondering if she had time to rub it 64 times before her staffroom meeting. Back and forth. Right to left. 64 times. That usually seemed to work, or she'd have to start over. When Emma's door suddenly burst open without warning, she released a soft shriek as she spun around.

She almost screamed again when she saw she was looking into the face of Finn Hudson, who was almost unrecognizable, his face a white sheet except for his flushed cheeks, his eyes red with tears, and his body shaking. His right hand was holding a duffel bag.

"Where is she?" he demanded as he stared at Emma with frightened eyes; his voice so distressed it didn't even sound like his.

As a student glanced absently into the room as they passed by the open doorway, Emma felt her trembling body push past Finn and swing her door shut, whispering for him to "Shhh" as she spun back around to face him.

"Tell me, Miss Pilsbury," Finn urged as he stared back at her, his face darker than she'd ever seen it. "I don't have much time. Please." Emma could see how tightly he was gripping his bag, his knuckles almost white.

She tried to remember her calming breathing exercises, which she'd learned when she'd finally decided to profess her love to Will Schuster several weeks ago. But right now they weren't doing much good. "I assume you are t-talking about Rach– Ms. Berry," Emma replied nervously, as she moved back to her desk, Finn's eyes following her the whole way. "And I'm truly sorry, Finn, but I don't know where she is or what you are talking about."

Finn dropped his face into his hands. "Please!" he exclaimed, his panic visible through his shaking fingers. He had such a small window of time to fix this. He couldn't imagine not fixing this. "I know you know where she is," he urged, as he took a step forward, trying to calm his voice. "You were there yesterday. You talked to her. She was crying. She must have told you."

"Told me what?" Emma replied, terrified that her boyfriend Will or some other teacher would burst through the door at any moment.

"Where she went!" Finn blurted. His face was so consumed it was scaring Emma.

"I told you, Finn," Emma replied, her voice shaky. "I truly d-don't know what you're talking about, and I really think it would be the best thing if you would just calm down, and take ten deep breaths, hand on your stomach," Emma slipped her trembling fingers down to her stomach as her eyes gleamed with stress, her brain already thinking how many shoelaces she was going to have to iron that night.

When she looked back up, she saw Finn was holding a crumpled piece of paper out to her, his fingers trembling and his face pleading. She just looked up at him in confusion.

"Read it," he said, his face grim. He held it closer to her.

Emma took the note from Finn's quivering fingers and began to read it. As every word sunk in, causing her own heart to race, she could hear the anxiety in Finn's labored breathing as he stood there and watched her as she read it.

When Emma finally finished reading, she blinked away tears as she looked back at Finn, his face distressed as she held the note back out to him, which he slid back into his pocket.

"Finn, I'm… I'm so sorry," Emma said under her breath, hearing the shakiness in her own voice. The words had thrown her more than she thought they would, and her head was spinning. "I'm so sorry this happened to you, Finn." Her body slumped as she rested back on her desk, shaking her head. "It's not right… it's not right at all. I just truly cannot believe that she –"

"I know!" Finn replied as he stepped forward, feeling like he was finally getting through to Emma. "I can't fucking believe Rachel would do this to me."

Emma didn't know if it was the swear word or Finn's continuous use of Rachel's first name that made her glance up, but she decided to let it go after realizing that Finn had taken her all wrong, which was a far bigger issue.

"Finn, I didn't mean that," Emma replied, her face confused. "I meant... Ms. Berry and you in the first place, it's…" her face pinched tightly as she just shook her head again. "It's not right, Finn, I think you are both very dear people, but if you ask me it's just not right. And I'm truly sorry, but from the sounds of that letter, your only option here is to catch that plane to college, and that truly is the best thing for you–"

"It is right," Finn suddenly cut in, his voice as firm as his body was weak. Emma's mouth fell open. "This wasn't done to me, Miss Pilsbury," he said softly as he looked right at her. "I did this... I wanted this." His voice cracked as he looked down, his eyes glistening. "I wanted her." But then his voice deepened with frustration. "And I would still have her if you hadn't scared her away."

"That's not true, Finn," Emma cut in, as she stood up defensively. "She had already decided–" but then her voice suddenly stopped as she caught herself.

"What?" Finn pressed suddenly as he stepped forward, his eyes widening with urgency. "She decided what?"

Emma exhaled loudly and just shook her head, trying to keep her mind away from that stain on the shelf that suddenly seemed the size of a continent.

"Miss Pilsbury, where is my girlfriend!" Finn pleaded, the strength of his tone shocking Emma.

"Finn, please–" Emma cried, wanting to just run from the room, never good at handling pressure. She buried her face in her hands.

As Finn looked down with alarm at the tiny woman in front of almost shuddering, he suddenly felt like slapping himself. This wasn't like him to be so threatening or confrontational. And it wasn't Miss Pisbury's fault, and he was taking it out on her, when the person he really wanted to yell at was Rachel.

"I'm sorry," he said softly, his eyes apologetic. "I don't even have time to explain it all," he continued with frustration, as he felt the burden of time ticking away on his wrist. He took a deep breath, trying to find Emma's eyes, but she just kept looking at the floor. "And I wish I could," he continued, appealing to her, "because I know it sounds whack. I know you think we're two freaks, and I know you probably think Rachel took advantage of me, but it's not like that, Miss Pilsbury. I'm not a kid anymore… I haven't… I haven't been one since I fell in love with her." He could hear his voice breaking as he continued, Emma's face crumpling at his words. "And she acts like she's so much older than me, but I see her, Miss Pilsbury. I see her. And she might act all high and mighty, but on the inside? She's just a girl. She's a girl who needs to be loved. And I know she loves me, and I know she needs me." Finn wiped his eyes. "And I'm really sorry you got dragged into all this… I truly am. But I'm begging you, Miss Pilsbury…" Finn stepped so close to her their bodies were practically touching, his eyes desperate as Emma finally looked back up him. "I'm begging you, Miss Pilsbury, please… I've got a plane to catch in an hour, and I need to find her. I need to. Tell me where she is. Please."

Emma just stared back at Finn for several moments, her throat feeling too lumpy to speak as her brown eyes darkened with distress.

"Rachel's gone, Finn," Emma finally whispered. For the first time, she felt her own heart break a little at the true words, realizing for the first time that perhaps Rachel and Finn had something more real than someone in her position could ever truly understand. Finn's face dropped faster than he could catch it, as tears sprung in his eyes. He searched Emma's loyal face so hard for signs of deception, but the honesty in her eyes showed him she was speaking the truth. "I promise you," Emma continued with a whisper, her face flooded with compassion. "She wouldn't tell me where she was going, maybe because she knew you would ask me. But all I know is… her movers came early this morning, and... she's gone. She's already left Lima." Emma tried to steady herself with a deep breath as she leaned forward to clasp Finn's shaking hands. "And I truly think you need to read her letter again, and read each word carefully, Finn." Every tear that rolled down Finn's cheeks represented a word of Emma's he didn't want to hear. "Because you'll find your answer there, Finn," Emma continued gently, her own eyes becoming wet. "And you'll see why this is truly the best thing for both of you, and why you really, really, should go and get on that plane before its too late."

Finn pressed his fingers to his eyes in an attempt to stop the growing flood, his broken heart fighting to understand. To accept what it just couldn't. But as he opened his eyes and looked back at Emma's disarming face, a face that had counseled him through humiliating football losses, awkward teenage body transformations, and endless career confusion, it finally hit him that he had been defeated. That he'd lost the fight. He'd lost her. He'd lost Rachel.

After several moments of just standing there in mild catatonia, the school bell finally snapped Finn out of his melancholic haze enough for him to look at his watch.

"Go get on that plane, Finn," Emma whispered, reaching out and squeezing his arm sincerely. "It's what she wants for you more than anything."

As Finn looked back at her, his mind and stomach whirring, he realized there was still time to make the flight if he hurried. At that moment he felt completely out of options. And he really didn't have any more left after what Rachel had said in her letter.

"Thanks, Miss Pilsbury," he mumbled through his tears, trying to remember his manners as he reached for his bag, his nose sniffing. And as he turned to leave, he heard Emma speak again from behind him.

"She didn't want to do this," Emma whispered, saying the words that she felt she shouldn't, but yet couldn't quite stop. Finn spun around, his face overcome with emotion.

"She never wanted to hurt you," Emma continued, as she recalled her conversations with her inconsolable, blubbering friend the day before. Finn's eyes pooled with tears as he brushed them away. "Please don't blame her for this, Finn," Emma continued under her breath, her voice cracking. "Please don't hate her. Because, as much as she did this for herself… perhaps even more so, she did this for you. And I know she loves you." She nodded gently as she said the words, as if she was finally realizing it herself.

Finn just looked back at Emma, completely at a loss for words. Finally, he managed a small nod of thanks, before wiping his eyes again and throwing his bag over his shoulder to leave. Emma quickly spun around and selected three pamphlets from her desk.

"Take these," she blurted as she held them out to him. "A bit of light reading on the plane," she smiled.

And when Finn finally lifted his heavy body back into a taxi to go to the airport, his swollen eyes dropped to the first two pamphlets in his hand, which depressed him as much as they made him want to chuckle at the same time:

Help! I Lost My Girlfriend.

I Want to See My Teacher Naked.

And the last one made his throat choke up:

When Love Isn't Enough.

"Flight AA147 to Atlanta, Georgia, this is your final boarding call; I repeat, your final boarding call."

Finn tried to swallow the razor that was slicing up his throat as he watched the last two flight attendants eyeing him off at the gate, unsure if he was going to board, one of them looking at him a little too long, her face flushed with the sort of look he'd seen girls give him at school.

He turned around and looked at the empty gate one last time, his eyes searching desperately for the dark curls bobbing up and down as she ran toward him, her hand clutching a boarding pass, her eyes wet with tears.

But Rachel never came.

And a heartbroken Finn took one last heavy breath, and boarded his plane to Georgia.

Dear Finn,

If there were words able to accurately express how painful this letter was to write, it would require a whole new letter. I even had to restart multiple times, because my tears kept wetting the paper and blurring the ink.

Finn, the only way to say this without causing you even more stress as you read on is to just speak it plainly from the start: I cannot come with you to Georgia. And I am more sorry for that than you will ever know. Please take a deep breath and continue reading this letter, for I hope it will explain everything.

Finn, please believe that I want nothing more than to be with you. That has not changed, and I know that will continue to not change for an exceptionally long time – if ever. But, over the past few weeks, I have done so much thinking about how we can be together, and I have tried to share with you my feelings and fears, but I have found that either you simply do not understand them, which I do not blame you for in any way, or that I become so traumatized by any attempt to talk them through with you and face the difficult realities of my heart, that I simply canno't proceed.

I have already tried to explain to you, however inadequately, that I don't believe that me moving to Georgia with you is the best thing for either of us. And I don't think our relationship would survive it. I know you don't understand that, but I live in the hope that maybe someday you will. Maybe it will be when you are surrounded by your peers at a college party – nothing to concern yourself with except having fun, making friends, and getting through class – that perhaps it really wasn't the best place for me… for us. Finn, I am a grown woman. I want different things to you, and I have always feared that I would simply become a burden to you there. Please understand that this goes far beyond me simply thinking I won't enjoy being with you in Georgia. I would love being with you anywhere. It is a much more complex issue than that, which has nothing to do with how I feel about your company and everything to do with us being at very different stages in our lives. Please know, without condescension, that I truly feel that you can't yet know what you want out of life; how you want your future to look, and what sort of woman you want to be with. To have those first years as an adult that everybody deserves to have, unburdened by a shadow who is clinging to you with hopes of children, and of family homes, and of commitments far sooner than the age of which you should be required to give them. Right now I feel that if I stay with you, I will end up forcing you to become more like me, and you will end up skipping a key part of your life. So, while in one way, I am protecting myself here, I am also protecting you. And I hope, with every fiber of my soul, that you understand that one day.

And I know, with gut-wrenching shame, that telling you this way is a cruelty beyond forgiveness. But I honestly could not think of any alternative, despite some truly desperate soul-searching. Telling you this face to face would have been impossible. And when I tried – you promised me you would withdraw from college to stay with me, and that frightened me more than even the prospect of not being with you. Because I want the best for you more than anything, Finn. You are the most intelligent, talented, and special person I've ever met, and there is nothing you won't be able to achieve in life if you set your mind to it. And I want you to think for a moment about how much you love me, Finn. Really imagine it; as strong and as deeply as you can. Now double that feeling. And then double it again. And then keep doubling it until you can't see or breathe through your tears and then you'll know how much I love you. And how much this is killing me.

But I have so much to thank you for, Finn. I will never, ever regret falling in love with you. You changed my life. You brought forth the person I didn't know I was, and the person I have always wanted to be. A woman who believes in herself. Who is worthy. Someone who knows she is capable of love – not only receiving it, but of giving it. And you gave me the biggest gift of my life, other than my belief in love, Finn: You gave me confidence. You made me believe I can do anything. And something I have come to realize since I've come to know you, is that I need to follow my dreams too. I need to be more brave - as brave as you are. I need to acknowledge the desires of my heart. And I truly believe that, until I find that woman inside and bring her forth, my heart will never be truly whole enough to withstand the challenges that our relationship has brought.

So, as much as it crushes my soul, and as many tears as I am shedding right now as you read this, I truly believe that the best thing for both of us is to part ways for awhile. To get away from the immense difficulties of where we are at now, until we can come to a place where we can be as two free people, in a world that accepts us. As two adults.

Therefore, I have a proposition for you. And all I ask is that, if you dismiss it now, that you remember it enough so that, perhaps, you may consider it when enough time has passed.

I want you to meet me in five years, Finn. Meet me on today's exact date, in five years' time. Meet me at 11am (EST) on the Bow Bridge inside Central Park, Manhattan, New York. I know that, right now, this may sound completely ludicrous, but I am asking this of you in the promise that I love you, and that I want us to have a future together – if it's what you want, too, when you have finished college, and if you have decided that you still feel the same way about me. I chose that location because it's far away from where either of us will be over the next few years, therefore it's neutral, it's easy to find, and I know you like bridges. This is a truly beautiful one. I can't think of a better place.

I realize this goes against many things I have said about not wanting to delay my opportunities to settle down, and to have a family, and for that reason, this is a possibility, not a promise. And I don't want to hurt you by saying that, but the fact is, this is not designed to keep either of us hung up on each other for the next five years, or waiting for that time to come. That would defeat the purpose. If we meet other people in the meantime and don't want to be there – so be it. This is purely an invitation for either of us to accept that, when the time comes, if we find that we both still feel the same way, we can go to this special place and see if the other person is waiting for us.

And I know you probably feel like tearing up this page in protest of me attempting to control the situation, but, Finn, I really just didn't know any better way to handle it. What I didn't want was for us to be in touch over the next few months, or even years, as I know what will happen to me if we do. You see, Finn – I cannot be around you and not be with you. I believe I have already proved that certainty time and time again. Which is why, I feel the only solution right now, is to just disappear and let us both grow up a bit. And you have already made perfectly clear that you weren't planning on going to college without me. So, in a way, I feel like I've had no choice.

All I will say now about my whereabouts, is that it's not where you think. And I will not be returning to Lima for a very long time, so please, please, please, go to Georgia today, or this will have backfired in the worst possible way, and we will have lost everything.

For now, Finn, it's time to say goodbye. And to say I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry for blindsiding you. I'm sorry for not being there for you as you begin this exciting chapter in your life. I'm sorry for being the one to force these very painful decisions without your consent. And, most of all, I'm sorry for hurting you. Because right now you may be feeling like I have destroyed your life, and that upsets me more than you can ever know. Because you have done the exact opposite for me, Finn. You brought me to life. And I know mine will be forever changed because you loved me. And for the shortest, but most wonderful time in my life... I was your girl.

I love you, Finn Hudson. Thank you for everything.


Rachel Barba Berry

Well there's nothing like a happy, upbeat chapter to help us through that Finchel grief - lol. Ok please don't hate me; don't hate Rachel. I already knew when I started this fic that the relationship wasn't going to work out at this point in their lives. Maybe it's because I've already been through college, too, but I can't help but agree with Rachel that there may just be too many temptations and distractions for an 18-year-old at college to withstand. But I might be wrong, and I might not be giving Finn enough credit. But, at the end of the day, it's a big ask for an 18-year-old to partner with one woman for life - particularly an older one. Although I do have a few friends who are happily married to their high-school sweethearts, but in this case, Rachel and Finn aren't high-school sweethearts. Their relationship, while genuine, really got off on the wrong foot, and I think they need to reset for awhile, and Finn needs to grow into more of an adult. I also used Finn's vision of Rachel going to parties with him in college as a symbol that perhaps he wasn't quite realizing the person that she is at this moment and how she wouldn't really fit in with that world. Also, Rachel's letter sounds a bit formal because that's the way she is in this fic, so I've tried to stay true to her character, lol. So, I hope you're all still with me, because there's one chapter to go. And sorry for the lack of smut for those who enjoy it *_*. And please review and let me know someone is still there! LOL.