this fic is canon from 4x12 and contains spoilers for 4x13-4x15 so if you don't want to see my take on interpreting those spoilers or you want to remain spoiler free PLEASE TURN BACK NOW

that being said, i wrote this fic over the course of like, four days, which is practically a marathon for me, so i hope the quality doesn't suffer due to that!

title is from 'little talks' by of monsters and men which i listened to A LOT while writing this because i think it really fits!

dedicated to mary gael for being awesome always and helping me out when i need it and reading things when i ask her to and also to shanna and laura for reading snippets i sent them and always giving helpful advice!

disclaimer: sadly, ryan murphy has not offered me a job as a glee writer yet


this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

i.

She throws away her tube of eyeliner. She doesn't think she needs to hide behind it anymore; she feels validated within herself after turning down the topless role earlier in the afternoon. She may not be the naïve girl she was in high school, but she knows she's not really the person she's been pretending to be for weeks now, either.

She thinks she needs to find a balance, and throwing away the eyeliner might be a good start.

Kurt comes into the bathroom, stops in the doorway, raises his eyebrows. "Giving yourself another makeover?" he asks.

She purses her lips, shakes her head. "Just finding a sense of myself again."

Kurt nods, but Rachel knows he's trying to bite back a smile. It makes her a little angry, because he's the one who suggested a makeover in the first place. He didn't tell her that she was perfect the way she was, like – like Finn would've. Thinking his name when she's tried so hard to push him into the back, secret corners of her mind is like a sharp pang in her gut, so she decides to just drop the issue.

Kurt leaves, and she goes back to sorting through her makeup, throwing out the dark, overwhelming colors and keeping some of the more natural tones. She's not going back to reindeer sweaters any time soon, but she thinks a sense of balance between the New Rachel and the Old will be good.

She thinks that she'll feel a lot better, because she's not so scared anymore.


ii.

Santana starts texting her regularly, just to check in or to chat. Rachel thinks it's nice, having someone to talk to almost every day. She hasn't really had someone like that since she and Finn broke up, and she's reminded again of how he was her very best friend, so she stops comparing her newfound friendship with Santana to her relationship to Finn.

They aren't even that alike anyway.

Santana's back in Lima (although why, exactly, Rachel doesn't know), and she keeps telling Rachel that Finn looks good, like really good, like "my lady parts actually tingled a bit, Berry" good. She even sends Rachel a super creepy picture of Finn from the side view, clearly completely unaware that Santana even had her phone camera trained on him.

Rachel has to swallow thickly when she sees it, but she does manage a small smile. She might even save it to her phone. (Okay, she does). All she sends back, though, is a short, "I'm happy he's happy."

And she thinks she actually is. After all, she's happy, isn't she? She has great friends like Quinn and Santana and Kurt, and she has a boyfriend, and school's going well, so of course she's happy.

(She tries to ignore the fact that Santana and Quinn both live so far away, that it seems like Kurt is annoyed with her more times than not, that when she kisses her boyfriend or cuddles with him with the lights off that she's imagining he's Finn instead.)

Brody sees her smiling, tries to glance over her shoulder at her phone, but she quickly tucks it into her purse. "C'mon, let's go get dinner," she says, and she links her fingers with his and lets him kiss her cheek, but when he pulls away, she's reminded again of how she so badly wishes that they were Finn's lips instead.


iii.

Kurt auditions for the same piece in their Vocal Studies class as her, and when Rachel teases that she's going to take him down, Kurt seems to snap.

"You just think you're so much better than everyone else, don't you?" Kurt asks, his voice harsh, and Rachel's taken aback for a moment.

"No," she says slowly, "I just know I'm good. That doesn't mean I think I'm better."

Kurt scoffs, rolls his eyes, turns back to the macaroni he's cooking on the stove.

"Kurt," she says slowly, "I don't really understand why you're mad at me."

Kurt doesn't answer, but she sees his shoulders tense, sees his fingers grip the edge of the countertop. "I'm not mad at you," he answers flatly, but she doesn't really believe him. "I'm just tired of your attitude."

Rachel feels anger coursing through her veins, because Kurt of all people should know just how hard she's worked to get where she's at. She drops it for the night however, simply retreats to her room, and she thinks that at least it'll probably all go away in the morning.

It doesn't. Kurt calls her out in the middle of class, hands on his hips and a fire in his eyes, and Brody of all people says that they should have a diva off to see who gets the solo. Rachel glares at him, her eyes narrowed into slits, and she hopes he knows that they are definitely not cuddling tonight.

(She feels a slight sense of relief that she won't have to feel his body against hers, his hot breath on her neck, and that she actually has an excuse to kick him out of her bed, if only just for a night.)

Anyway, Kurt proposes a song from the seminal classic Les Miserables, so Rachel agrees to the diva off, even though she knows from previous experiences that it won't prove anything besides each of their own points.

They sing the song, just as angry afterwards as they were before, and Brody is the only one who's clapping; everyone else sort of sits there in shock as to what's happening. Rachel and Kurt are both glaring at each other, but finally, Brody says, "That was great, guys, truly passionate."

"So who won?" Kurt demands.

"Yes," Rachel seconds, hand on her hip. "Who won?"

Brody pauses for a moment, licks his lips, and Rachel suddenly that he likes this, the fighting and the sense of power it brings him. "I think I need some time to deliberate," he says, the hint of a smirk on his lips.

Rachel purses her lips. "Fine," she allows, snatching up her bag, "take all the time you need."

She sees Kurt roll his eyes and she whips around, heading for the door, hears Brody call after her, but she doesn't stop; she just keeps walking.


iv.

Brody lets himself into the apartment a few hours later, and Rachel glares at him from her spot on the couch.

"Hey, sexy," he says easily, and she stares at him in disbelief. He opens up the fridge, takes out a beer before finally turning back to her. He raises a quizzical eyebrow. "What?" he asks finally.

"What do you mean, 'what'?" Rachel snaps, standing up. Her hands end up back on her hips. "You're just going to pretend that the little display in Vocal Studies didn't happen?"

"Look," Brody says his tone teasing as he walks toward her, "I was just having a little fun. I mean, you know how to persuade me to declare you the winner—"

"I'm not persuading you of anything!" Rachel says hotly, taking a few steps back so she's free of his hand that had been snaking around her waist. "I'm mad because you clearly enjoyed pitting me and my best friend against each other in some sort of weird, twisted battle!"

Brody sighs. "You both auditioned, Rachel, I couldn't just give you the part—"

"I wasn't asking you to," Rachel says curtly. "I just don't think that pitting Kurt and I against each other in front of everyone like we were in some sort of medieval jousting match was the proper approach."

"Yeah, well, I think it went over well," Brody shoots back.

Rachel glares at him. "Well, congratulations, I'm officially mad at both of the men I share this apartment with. I hope you like sleeping on the couch."

"Rachel, this is stupid!" Brody shouts after her, but Rachel ignores him as she heads into the space of apartment she calls her room. She jams her headphones into her ears, turning on her ipod so she won't have to interact with either Kurt or Brody.

She thought she was finally finding her herself and finding her place in New York, but now she's fighting with the only two people she knows here and she finds herself wishing desperately again for Finn, for his strong arms to wrap around her and for him to whisper that everything will be okay.

He's not here though, and she doesn't know when or even if he ever will be, so she just turns up the music louder, letting the sound of Barbra Streisand's voice fill her ears and attempt to drown out the loneliness that threatens to overcome her.


v.

She wakes up the next morning to the smell of coffee. She wanders into the kitchen to see two mugs already sitting on the table, Kurt at the stove.

She raises her eyebrows. "Kurt?"

He jumps a bit, his hand flying to his chest. "Oh, Rachel, you scared me!"

"Is this – is this for me?" she asks timidly.

Kurt gives her a small smile, nods. "It's a bit of an apology," he admits.

"Look, Kurt, I'm sorry, too, I don't mean to act like a spoiled brat who thinks she's better than everyone else, even though I do know that I'm talented—"

"No, Rachel, honestly, I was just jealous of your confidence—"

"And then Brody was egging us on and I just kind of let him and for that I'm truly sorry—"

"I've just been so frustrated with school and I took it out on you—"

"Do you think you could forgive me?" they both finish at the same time. They stare at each other for a moment, and then they both laugh, and Rachel's glad that all of the tension between them is gone. She walks around the counter to give him a hug, and she thinks Kurt's stunned for a moment, but eventually, he hugs her back.

"Let's never fight again, okay?" she mumbles into his shirt, and Kurt laughs again, pats her on the shoulder.

"Okay."

She sighs, squeezes Kurt a little more tightly (even though she can sense him getting more rigid, because Kurt's never really been one for PDA), and she's glad that she managed to fix at least one thing about New York. Maybe more will follow.


vi.

Mr. Schuester and Miss Pillsbury are having a Valentine's Day wedding, so Kurt and Rachel both fly out a couple of days before. Rachel hasn't really been talking to Brody since she shouted at him in the living room of the apartment, and she's not even sure if he's still living with them or not. She's finding it rather hard to care, especially with the impending notion of potentially (almost certainly) seeing Finn at the wedding, or maybe even before.

Her dads as well as Burt and Carole are at the airport waiting to pick up her and Kurt, and after she hugs her fathers, Carole pulls her into a bone-crushing hug, telling her she's so glad to see her. Rachel gives her a small smile, and it really does warm her heart that Finn's mother still thinks so highly of her. She wonders if Finn still talks about her, if he ever mentions her just because.

He probably doesn't, and she can't really blame him.

Her dads take her out to their car, so she parts ways with the Hummel-Hudson clan in the parking lot, hugging Kurt one last time before climbing into the backseat of her daddy's SUV. She turns her phone back on for the first time since boarding the plane in New York. She sifts through a few texts from Santana, wondering if she's in Lima yet and when they're going to go hang out, and then she finds one from Brody, sent a few hours earlier, right after she boarded, she thinks.

It reads, Hey gorgeous, I haven't seen you in a few days. Think we can meet up later to hang out or something? I miss ur pretty face.

She stares at the message in disbelief, because she told Brody weeks ago that she would be in Lima this week, and besides that, he seems to be completely overlooking that fact that she's mad at him. She sighs before stuffing her phone back into her purse, tuning in to what her dad is saying about it being so nice to have her back in town.

"But how's New York treating you, sweetie?" he asks. "Tell us everything you've omitted in your phone calls."

Rachel smiles, leans forward between the two front seats, just like she used to when she was a little girl, and tells them about New York.


vii.

Miss Pillsbury has a major meltdown which delays the ceremony by a couple of hours, a panic attack of the extreme variety, but eventually Mr. Schue calms her down and she walks down the aisle and she looks pretty happy, so Rachel assumes that everything is back on track.

Her gaze falls on Finn, who's pulling nervously at his tie, standing next to Mr. Schue, since he's the best man and all. He looks adorable in his tux, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat as he murmurs something to Mr. Schue. Mr. Schue nods, smiles.

The wedding march begins to play then, and the whole congregation stands up to watch Miss Pillsbury come down the aisle. Rachel's standing behind Kurt at this angle, and she can't really see over his hair, which he's poofed practically sky high, even in her heels, so she gives up and turns to look toward the front, at Finn, instead.

He looks so good – older, leaner, but still the same Finn. She finds herself smiling, and in that moment, he locks eyes with her. She feels herself blush, but she doesn't look away. He smiles back, and her heart pounds in her chest.

Miss Pillsbury reaches the end of the aisle then, and Finn looks away, and so does she, but she thinks that maybe, just maybe, that smile meant everything.


viii.

Kurt shoves her toward the center of the dance floor when it's announced that it's time to throw the bouquet, and she'd really rather not go through the embarrassment of being one of the single girls on the floor (and is she really single, because she and Brody never really defined what they had and they haven't spoken in several days, but she also thinks she doesn't really care regardless). She's not the only one, of course, but she still feels self-conscious, especially when Miss Pillsbury says, "Alright, girls!" and turns around, in position to toss the bouquet.

It feels like everything happens in slow motion. She sees Miss Pillsbury's arm come up, sees the flowers fly through the air, and all of the girls are reaching up and she is too, her fingers brushing the stems, and then her fingers are wrapping around the base as a whole. Some of the other girls groan, and she blinks, and oh, the flowers are in her hand. She's caught the bouquet.

Before she knows what's happening, everyone else is being ushered off the floor, and she's just standing there, bewildered, and someone's announcing that the two guests who caught the bouquet and the garter will be sharing a dance. She suddenly recalls that Finn caught the garter, but before she can do anything with this information, he's standing in front her, hand outstretched, smiling shyly.

She swallows, and suddenly Quinn's gently taking the bouquet from her and nudging her toward Finn, so she takes his hand. He pulls her to him, and it's so natural. She's having flashbacks to prom, when he danced with her and made her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, how her classmates believed in her enough to vote for her as their prom queen, about the words of encouragement Finn whispered into her hair.

She doesn't lay her head on his chest this time, however, and there seems to be some kind of stiff formality this time that wasn't there before. She knows they're broken up now, but she never wanted things with Finn to be awkward.

He's still holding her hand, and when the music starts, they begin to sway back and forth. She hates that she doesn't know what to say. That's never been a problem with her and Finn until now. She doesn't like feeling as if they're virtually strangers.

He clears his throat, and she glances up at him, her gaze sweeping over the freckles splashed across the bridge of his nose. His eyes are warm, the hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "How's New York?" he asks, and she realizes it's the first time she's heard his voice directly in months.

"It's fine," she says carefully. "Classes are good, and living with Kurt has more pros than cons, so."

He nods, kind of glances down. She knows he's wondering about Brody, but he doesn't ask, and she doesn't give an answer to his unspoken question. She's not sure what she would even tell him, because the more time she spends with Finn or even around Finn, the less she thinks or even cares about Brody.

"What about you?" she asks finally. "How are things with the glee club?"

He smiles, the kind of smile that takes up his entire face and warms every fiber of her heart. "It's good," he says, and she can sense the pride just from his voice. "We're going to regionals after all, which the kids are super stoked about."

"I bet," Rachel says, and she can't help but smile back at him. "When does Mr. Schue come back permanently?"

Finn smile fades a little bit, but he says, "Well, I think he and Ms. P. are going on their honeymoon and then they'll be back for good, so…"

It hurts her to see him looking so sad and uncertain about what comes next, and it reminds her of their senior year of high school, about how lost he was, and she wishes more than anything that he could just find his passion. She knows now, however, that she can't find it for him, even if it breaks her heart.

"I'm sure you'll find something else," she tells him. "Have you considered teaching, Finn? I mean you really seem to have a knack for it."

"Yeah," he says, "Mr. Schue and Ms. P said that, too, but…" He sighs.

"But what?" she prods. He still looks uncertain, still looks like that lost boy she tried so hard in vain to shepherd, so she adds, her voice soft, "Finn, you can tell me anything, you know that right? I mean… even though we haven't spoken very much in the past few months, you're still – you're still my best friend."

He ducks his head, but he's smiling, so she squeezes his hand. "I don't know," he says finally, "I guess I'm just not stoked about the idea of reapplying to colleges I may not even get into, because if I wanna teach I have to go to school."

"Finn, you're amazing," she says softly, and he looks like he definitely doesn't believe her so she adds, "Look what you've done already with this glee club. The kids adore you, and I can tell you that you inspire them so much, even the ones were classmates with. Especially them, even. They look up to you, and they listen to you, and they care about what you have to teach them, and I don't know what could be more important in a teacher than that. And I'm sure all the schools you apply to will see that, too."

He smiles, and in that moment, she wants so badly for him to kiss her, to cup the back of her neck and lean down to press his lips against hers just like he used to, but she knows he won't, because they're different now. She doesn't want to be different, doesn't want to think about the boy in New York who's already texted her several times today alone. All she wants to think about in this moment is Finn.

The song stops then, and people are clapping, so she lets go of Finn's abruptly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Did you wanna… go talk somewhere?" Finn asks, and she nods, glad he took that step. Maybe she's not the only one who wishes things weren't different.

And, maybe for tonight, they can pretend like they aren't.


ix.

They go out on a balcony that's just off of the main room the reception is being held in. She leans against the rail, her arms pressed against the metal bar, and he leans beside her. The balcony looks down into the lobby, and a few people are down below, some most likely wedding guests judging by their attire. They just stand there for a few moments, and she thinks the air feels different, thicker, like something's shifted between them.

His hand is inches from hers, and she thinks of how easy it could be to slide her hand over and place it on top of his. It's weird to think that they've done in thousands of times, that their hands are practically fitted for each other's, yet she can't touch his now. Things have changed but they feel the same, and maybe that makes her bold, because she says, her voice almost a sigh,

"I miss you."

He doesn't look at her, just sighs. His hand shifts imperceptibly closer to hers. "I miss you, too," he admits.

She smiles even though she shouldn't, and he finally looks at her, his eyes warm, his mouth slightly upturned.

"What are we doing?" she asks finally. "Why are we pretending like there's nothing between us?"

"We're doing what we're supposed to," he says.

"Says who?"

"Us."

"Well, I've changed my mind," she declares, and he laughs. God, she's missed his laugh, low and warm.

"No, you haven't."

"You don't get to decide my opinions on things, Finn Hudson."

"Fair enough," he allows, but she notices he's still smiling a bit.

"Is there…" She stops, takes in a breath, but then she decides that, while part of her doesn't want to know, a bigger part of her does. "Has there been anyone else?"

Finn shakes his head. "Nope," he says. "Just you, Rach." He glances back over at her, slides his hand closer. "It's kind of always gonna be that way, I think."

She knows her heart shouldn't pound frantically in her chest, knows that she shouldn't want him like this, but who is she to kid herself? She's wanted Finn since she was fifteen years old, and she thinks she was silly to think that would ever change.

"What about Brody?" Finn asks finally, and he says his name like it's a disease. "Is he your…?"

She finds herself shaking her head, because even if he considers himself to be her boyfriend, she knows that she doesn't want him to be. She's sure of that now, with Finn. "No. I mean… he was my – my someone, for a while, but… I don't know, I'm beginning to see that he wasn't the right someone after all." Finn purses his lips, so she adds, "I don't think he was ever the right someone."

"You don't?" Finn asks flatly.

"No," she whispers, and she takes a chance and finally moves her hand so her fingers are brushing his. "I was just trying to move on, and I picked Brody because I thought he was everything I wanted, but I found out that he wasn't anything I wanted, in the long run."

Finn looks at her, his face unreadable, and he says, "And what do you want, Rachel?"

"You," she whispers.

One minute, she's standing a foot apart from Finn, and the next, his hands are on her waist and his mouth is pressing against hers insistently. Her fingers thread themselves in his hair, and she's pushing her tongue into his mouth, and God, she's missed this so much. Kissing Brody was never like this, never like every single cell within her body was on fire. She never felt like she needed to kiss Brody like she feels like she needs to kiss Finn.

"God, Rach, I missed you," Finn breathes against her lips, and she smiles, pushing his head closer to hers, molding her lips back to his.

"We should get a room," she manages to whisper, and he freezes, pulling back to look at her.

"Rach," he says, and his voice cracks, "are – are you sure?"

She bites her lip, nods, runs her thumb over the smooth skin of his cheek. "I want you, Finn."

He smiles, gives her one last lingering kiss, then laces her fingers with his. "Let's go get a room key."

She grins, letting him lead her down the staircase, and she doesn't remember feeling this happy, this whole, in months, and she wonders how (or even if) she can keep this feeling from going away.


x.

She feels like they're two horny high school kids again, the way his hand slides up her dress in the elevator and the way they practically burst through the door in their haste to finally be with each other after months of being apart. He's barely shut the door behind them before she's tugging at his belt buckle, before his lips are on her neck, and she can't help but moan because how could she ever think anything could be better than this?

He finds the zipper on her dress, and she grips his shoulders as she steps out of the fabric. He looks her up and down, and she notes how different his gaze is than Brody's. Brody saw her close to naked only a few times, but each time, he looked greedy, possessive. He didn't relish the sight of her like Finn does. She can tell just by his gaze that he's committing her to memory, every curve, every expanse of skin.

She kisses him before she pulls his shirt over his head, his jacket already discarded somewhere near the door. She trails kisses down his neck, his chest, and she's planning on going lower, but he catches her wrist, says he just wants her, all of her, if that's okay.

She smiles, presses a kiss to his shoulder. He picks her up, and she squeals as he carries her over to the bed, depositing her on it before crawling on top of her.

She sits up slightly so she can undo her strapless bra, letting the material simply fall off. His gaze falls directly to her breasts, and she blushes under his gaze.

"You're perfect, Rachel," he whispers, one hand kneading one breast, pinching her nipple between his fingers. "Absolutely perfect." He lowers his mouth to her one, and she moans, her back arching so that she's closer to his warm, hot mouth.

He slides his hand down so his fingers are looping through the waistband of her panties, and he moves his mouth further down her body, leaving open mouthed kisses in his wake. She lifts her hips so he can tug off her underwear, and his touch and gaze are so familiar that she doesn't feel nervous exposed to him. It feels right, and she feels sexy with him, but more importantly, she feels beautiful. Brody never really made her feel that way.

He kisses around her belly button, cups her with his hand, and she can't help but rock into him a little bit. "Finn," she groans, and she can feel his lips curl into a smile against her skin. "Finn, please."

He moves back up her body, pressing his lips sweetly against hers. She smiles against his mouth, reaching into his boxers to grip him firmly. He groans, his face pressing into her collar bone as she peels his boxers down his legs. She'd forgotten just how big he is, but she's not worried about him fitting, because she knows by now that he will.

They've done this so many times, but in a way, this feels like the first time, the way he brushes her hair out of her face as he lines himself up, the way he smiles, whispers that he loves her before he pushes inside. It's tight at first, and it hurts a little because it's been so long, but soon they find a rhythm like they'd never been apart, and she's sighing and flying and feeling everything at once. Her nails dig into his shoulder blades and he's peppering kisses across her face and she knows she's not going to hold on for very long, not when Finn's not just inside her but all around her, filling her up completely in every sense of the phrase.

Soon she's coming and he's coming, too, and she stares up at him, panting, tracing the freckles across the bridge of his nose with her fingertips as he finishes. She feels like she could take on anyone or do anything, and she knows that this is what she needs: Finn, now and always.


xi.

It doesn't take long before she's completely tuckered out. She's curled into his side, her fingers drawing lazy circles on his chest. He has an arm wrapped her, and he's playing with a few strands of her hair. She doesn't think she's ever felt so content in her life.

"I love you, Finn," she whispers, looking up at him from beneath her eyelashes.

He grins, a slow and lazy smile. "You're not just saying that because we had really awesome sex?"

She rolls her eyes, hits him lightly on the arm. "No."

"Oh, well in that case, I love you, too, Rach."

"You do?"

He laughs, the sound reverberating throughout his body and, due to their close proximity, hers as well. "Of course I do. How could I not?"

She smiles, presses a kiss to his shoulder. "So… if we still love each other… what does this mean for us?"

Finn sighs, and his fingers stop twirling her hair. "I don't know," he admits. "I mean, I wanna be with you, Rachel, more than anything, but… You have a life in New York, and I have a life here."

She pouts, her lower lip jutting out, but she knows he's right. "You could have a life in New York," she points out quietly despite herself.

"Not right now," Finn says. "I wish I could, but…"

"You have responsibilities here," Rachel says. "I know."

"Yeah…" He sighs again, running his hand up and down her arm.

"I'm really going to – to miss you," Rachel whispers, her voice wobbling. A tear slides down her cheek.

"Rach," he murmurs, "I'm going to miss you so much." He's kissing her then, his hands cupping either side of her face, his lips moving frantically over hers, and she wonders if he can taste the tears on her skin. "I'll – I'll call you okay, though, I'll call you every day if you want me to. Because I don't want to pretend like we don't know each other, like you don't matter to me."

"I don't want that either," she whispers. "But I – I also don't want to hold you back from – from anything that might come your way."

Finn raises an eyebrow, so she adds, "I mean, if you meet someone, I don't want you thinking about me or how I would feel about it, or—"

He kisses her, effectively cutting her off. She pulls back after a few moments, shoves his chest lightly. "Finn, I'm being serious!"

"Rachel," he replies, his thumb stroking her cheek as he looks her in the eyes, his gaze intent, "when are you going to realize that I don't want anyone but you?"

She smiles, kisses him again.

They stay like that for a while, just kissing and talking, but eventually, she drifts off to sleep, and she knows that things won't really change, because she'll be in New York and he'll be in Lima, but she thinks that just the possibility of them being a them again someday is enough for now.


xii.

Santana moves to New York practically on a whim a week after the Schuester wedding. She drops out of the University of Kentucky, and the next thing Rachel knows, Santana is texting her, telling her to open up the fucking door because I have a lot of shit and it's heavy.

So Santana moves in, and Brody has sort of moved out Rachel thinks, because his stuff's gone and she doesn't see him around anymore. Actually, she hasn't really spoken to him since she's been back. She thinks she should probably feel worse about that than she does, but she knows now more than ever that she loves Finn, and she most certainly does not love Brody.

She's just sort of putting off telling him.

"So, you and the jolly green giant hooked up at Mr. Schue's wedding?" Santana asks after she's been living with her and Kurt for about a week. She's on the couch, her feet propped up on the coffee table (because no matter how many times Rachel reminds her to please not do that because it'll scratch the wood, she ignores her and does it anyway), flicking through the stations on the flat screen television she brought from her dorm room.

Rachel blushes, and she pretends to leaf through her sheet music. "I don't know what you're talking about," he says hurriedly.

Santana rolls her eyes. "Oh, please. You were eye-fucking throughout the entire dance you shared, and then you disappeared together shortly afterward. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out."

Rachel's feels her cheeks grow impossibly hotter, and Santana's still looking at her expectantly, so she finally says, "Yes, alright, fine, Finn and I had sex at the wedding."

Santana smirks. "See, was that so hard to admit?"

Rachel doesn't answer her, pointedly leafing back through her sheet music.

"What about that guy you were seeing, Brandon?" Santana asks.

"Brody," Rachel corrects automatically.

"Whatever," Santana says with a roll of her eyes. "Anyway, what does he think about all of this?"

"I haven't told him," Rachel says carefully. Santana looks skeptical, so she adds, "We never claimed to be exclusive, and that whole situation was – was something completely different, anyway, and – and I don't regret what happened with Finn, not at all."

"So are you and Finn back together?" Santana asks.

Rachel sighs, tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "Not exactly," she admits. "I mean, he's still in Lima, and I'm still in New York, and we don't see that changing anytime soon."

"But you love him," Santana clarifies, and it's not a question.

Rachel nods, bites her lips. "I do. And I always have."

Santana snorts. "No shit."

Rachel rolls her eyes, but she laughs when Santana starts to laugh. She's really glad that Santana's here, and that she's starting to feel so much better in her skin. She thinks that, for the first time, New York is really starting to feel like home.


xiii.

She realizes her period is late mid-pirouette in her dance class she's taking this semester (with a different instructor, thank God). She stops spinning, and she starts to count backward on her fingers. She gasps. She's three days late, and Rachel's never had a late period in her entire life.

She makes up an excuse, grabs her bag and practically bolts out of the classroom and down the hallway, looking for the nearest bathroom. She finds one, pushes open the door, and immediately heads to the sink, turning on the faucet. She studies her reflection, and she doesn't think she looks any different, really. If she were really pregnant, wouldn't she look different? Wouldn't she feel different?

She takes in a deep breath, splashes some water onto her face. The sound of rushing water fills her ears, but they can't drown out her thoughts.

If she's pregnant, it has to be Finn's, because she and Brody never had sex, but surely she and Finn had remembered to use protection. She thinks back to that night, and she remembers many things, remembers his hands pressed against her skin, remembers his lips against her neck, remembers his whispered declarations of love. She doesn't, however, remember him wearing a condom.

She curses herself, because she's just as much to blame as he is, and she was so caught up in being with him and loving him that she didn't even think about protection, and how could she be so stupid?

She takes a deep breath in, lets it out, inhales again. She needs to calm down, because she's not even sure she's pregnant. This could be a complete misunderstanding, and she needs to think about this rationally.

Her phone buzzes, and she takes it out of the outside pocket of her bag. Brody's name is on the screen, and she clicks on the little message button.

yo girl, have you been avoiding me? let's hang sometime. miss u hot stuff.

She bites her lip, and for the first time in days, she replies.

Brody, I think we need to talk.


xiv.

Brody meets her after class the next day, and Rachel tells him that she doesn't think they should see each other anymore.

"Have we been seeing each other?" he asks, his voice slightly bitter, and she supposes she deserves that, because she has been blowing him off lately. "I mean, you went to Ohio, and suddenly you came back and I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've seen you in person in over a week."

"Look, Brody, I'm trying to be mature about this," Rachel says evenly. "You're just – you're not the guy for me."

He narrows his eyes, looks her up and down. "You hooked up with him, didn't you? Your loser ex-boyfriend?"

Rachel flushes, purses her lips and crosses her arms over her chest, her eyes narrowed into slits. "That's none of your business," she snaps, "but I will say that Finn is certainly not a loser. He's practically the best man I've ever known."

Brody gives a liberal roll of his eyes, says, "Whatever, Rachel. You didn't have to string me along."

He turns to go, and she can't help but calling after him, "Did you even like me at all?"

He stops, turns around, a smirk she doesn't really like on his face.

"I liked parts of you," he answers.

Her jaw drops, and she crosses the distance between them, slapping him across the face with all the strength she can muster. He winces, and his hand flies to his cheek. "Fuck, Rachel!"

She bites her lip, tears stinging her eyes. "I can't believe I ever even remotely cared about an asshole like you."

She walks away then, her arms wrapped around her middle, and she's desperately grateful for the fact that, if she is pregnant, the baby will be one hundred percent Finn's, because she doesn't even want to think about her child sharing genes with someone like Brody. She wonders how she could've been so blind for so long.

She really hopes Santana and Kurt are up for a movie night tonight, because she thinks she just needs a tub of ice cream, a good chick flick, and her two best friends to make her feel better.


xv.

She hasn't told Kurt and Santana that she thinks she's pregnant, because she thinks she should tell Finn first. She ended things with Brody yesterday, and she realized that her period was late two days ago, and there's still no sign of it coming, so she decides she better call him.

She's sitting on the edge of her bed, her phone pressed against her ear. Kurt is in class, and Santana is looking for a waitressing job, so she's alone in the apartment. She hears three rounds of ringing, and she's nearly convinced herself that Finn won't pick up when he answers, his voice a little breathless,

"Hello?"

She takes a deep breath in. "H-Hey, Finn, it's Rachel."

"Rachel, hey. How are you?"

She tears up just at the sound of his voice, and she knows it's stupid, that she's crying, but she just misses him so much. "Oh, Finn," she manages to get out, and then she kind of lets out a little sob.

"Hey, hey, hey," he says quickly. "Rach, is everything okay?"

"Finn," she manages to get out in between sobs, "Finn, I think I'm pregnant."

She can hear his breath hitch, and his end of the line is silent for a long few moments. "Are – are you sure?"

"No," she admits, "but m-my period's late, and it's never been late before, and Finn, I'm so s-scared—"

"Hey, Rach, it'll be fine, okay, I promise." His voice is soothing, and she can almost imagine him rubbing her back in that comforting way he always used to, and she's overwhelmed with the feeling of wanting him there. "Have you told Kurt or Santana yet?"

"No," she whispers. "I – I thought you should be the first to know."

"So… so if you are – it's – it's mine?"

"Yes, Finn, I'm so sorry." She's crying even harder, and she hates that he's being put through this situation twice, even if this baby is definitely his, when Quinn's obviously was not. "I – I never meant to – we didn't use protection—"

"Shit," Finn breathes, "God, Rachel, it's – it's not your fault, I – I should've—" He breaks off, and she hears him taking in a few shallow breaths. "Rachel, I'm coming out there, to New York. I – I wanna be there for you when you – when you take the test."

"Finn, you don't have to—"

"I want to," he says quickly. "Rach, I – I wanna be there for you. So I'll get on a plane tonight and I'll be there tomorrow, alright?"

"Okay," she whispers. There's a beat, then she adds, "Finn, I'm scared."

"Everything's going to be okay, Rach," he assures her. "Everything – everything's going to be fine."

He stays on the phone with her until she calms down, and after she hangs up, she's really glad if this has to happen that it's happening with Finn.


xvi.

Rachel skips her classes the next day so she can be at the apartment when Finn arrives. She's equal parts nervous and excited to see him, and she knows that he's determined to do the right thing, but she really doesn't a baby to change things between them completely. She doesn't want Finn sticking with her just for the sake of their child.

Finn calls at about 11:30 to let her know that he landed safely, and within forty-five minutes, he's entering the apartment, a plastic sack in his hand.

"I bought a bunch of different tests," he says hastily. "I mean, I don't know what kind's the best or – or—"

She doesn't reply, simply crosses the room and wraps her arms around his waist, laying her head on his chest. She feels him relax, feels his heartbeat slow down as he hugs her. She feels safe with Finn, and she feels like, if they have to do this, they can.

"Thank you," she mumbles into his shirt.

He sighs, just squeezes her more tightly.

He helps her take out all the tests (five in total), and she kisses his cheek before heading into the bathroom, all of them in her arms.

She comes out a minute later.

"Wh – you're done already?" Finn asks in disbelief.

She shakes her head. "I – I got my period, so I… I don't need the tests after all."

"Oh," Finn says. He runs a hand through his hair before looking over at her. "Is it – is it weird that I'm kind of… I don't know, disappointed? I mean, I'm relieved, don't get me wrong, but—"

"No, I – I feel the same way," Rachel assures him. "I'm just… You flew all this way and my period really was just late and I should've taken a test before I called you – I'll pay for your plane ticket, I swear—"

"Hey, Rach, I wanted to be here for you," he assures her, crossing the distance between them, placing his hands on her waist. She sniffs, looks in his eyes, and she really does feel like he's completely telling the truth. His gaze is soft, and sweet, and she can't help but lean up on her tiptoes to press a kiss against his mouth.

He reacts immediately, his arms wrapping around her waist, drawing her impossibly closer to him. She sighs into his mouth as he parts his lips, and she gently bites down before she pulls away.

"I love you," she tells him, "and I'm really glad you came."

He smiles, kisses her again, once, twice, before saying, "Me, too." He kisses her again. "On both accounts."

She grins before taking his hand and leading him over to the couch. He sits down and lets her curl into his side, and as she turns on the tv and he plays with the ends of her hair, she starts to feel sad. She knows it's silly, to be mourning a child that wasn't even real, but she'd had flashes of a future, with a little girl, half her and half Finn, dancing around their living room, her brown eyes bright.

She sniffs, trying to keep the tears at bay, and she feels Finn's cheek rest against the top of her head. It's slightly damp and she realizes he's crying, too.


xvii.

Kurt and Santana both look mildly surprised when they come home to see Finn and Rachel cuddled on the couch together, but surprisingly, they don't ask too many questions. Rachel's glad, because she doesn't really want to talk to them about what's gone down, and she kind of just wants to spend as much time with as possible with Finn. So after they say hi to Kurt and Santana, she gives them both small, apologetic smiles, takes Finn's hand, and leads him to her room.

She crawls onto her bed and he crawls up next to her, his face inches from hers. She smiles, scoots closer to him, rests her hand on his jaw. He kisses her, his hand sliding up her back, and she wishes New York could always be like this, like sweet, slow kisses and the feeling of Finn's body next to hers.

They don't have sex (because she thinks one pregnancy scare is enough to keep her off of it for a while); they just talk and kiss a little bit, and she tells him that she wants him here, in New York with her, and he kisses her nose, whispers, "Not yet, baby girl, but soon."

She smiles, her eyes already falling shut. She falls asleep with her head pressed against his chest, nothing but the beat of his heart echoing in her ears.


xviii.

She wakes up with Finn's arms around her, and she's never felt more at home. He's still asleep, his chest rising and falling with each slow breath, and she watches him for a few moments, wishing she could wake up every morning like this, but she knows that he's leaving tomorrow afternoon.

She manages to slip out of his grasp without waking him. He frowns, turns over, furrows deeper into the blankets. She smiles before heading out into the kitchen, intent on making him breakfast.

To her surprise, Santana is already at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee set in front of her. She looks like she's waiting for something, and when she looks at Rachel, she realizes that she's been waiting for her.

"Santana," she greets, trying to sound as bright as possible, "what are you doing up so early?"

Santana, not being one for formalities, simply holds up one of the pregnancy tests Finn brought her yesterday. "I found this in the bathroom. Is there something you need to tell me?"

Rachel's heart pounds in her chest, and she slides into the chair across from Santana. "I'm not pregnant," she says quickly. "I thought I was, but then I received confirmation that I wasn't, but Finn came out here because I called him and I was scared—"

"Rachel, how could you be so stupid?"

"Finn and I made a mistake—"

"A mistake that could've ruined both your lives!" Santana's voice rises, and Rachel's sure she'll wake up Finn and Kurt. "How were you and Finn possibly going to raise a child when you don't even live in the same state? Are you even together?"

Rachel sighs, folds her hands. She feels tired, so, so tired, and all she really wants to do is crawl back in bed with Finn, where's it warm and she's safe. Sitting across from a glaring Santana feels like the complete opposite. "Look," she begins evenly, her tone calm, "I love Finn, and he loves me. We just had a minor lapse in judgment—"

Santana snorts. "Rachel, you thought you were pregnant."

"But I'm not, and we're learning from this experience."

"I assumed you already knew the importance of a condom."

Rachel ignores her. "I learned that Finn will stand by me no matter what, and that, also no matter what, I want to be with him. I don't want anyone else. There's no one better for me than Finn."

She sees Santana's eyes move to focus on something behind her, and then Finn's voice says, "You really mean that, Rach?"

She smiles, turning so that she's sitting sideways in the chair, facing him. "I really, really do."

Finn grins, walking until he's standing in front of her before taking her face in his hands and kissing her. She hears Santana making barfing noises, but she ignores her, covering Finn's hands with her own as she pulls away.

"I was going to make you breakfast," she murmurs.

"Didn't you almost light the entire apartment on fire when you tried to make dinner last week?" Santana asks. Rachel feels herself flush as Finn laughs, his hands still on the side of her face.

"It wasn't that bad!" she insists, but now Santana's laughing, too. She pushes her lower lip out until Finn kisses her again.

"I'll make you breakfast instead, baby."

She grins, and her heart flutters. He hasn't called her "baby" in months. "Okay," she agrees.

He presses one last kiss against her forehead before letting go of her and heading over to the fridge. Rachel's heart swells, and she doesn't think she's felt this happy in a long time.


xix.

Rachel and Kurt both go to the airport with Finn the next day, and she guesses she should at least take some comfort in the fact that she gets to say goodbye this time.

Finn hugs Kurt first, promises him that he'll keep a close on both Carole and Burt (Burt especially, he assures him), and says he'll miss him. Kurt tries to act nonchalant, but Rachel sees him tear up a bit when he tells Finn that he'll miss him, too.

She already feels tears stinging her eyes when Finn turns to her, and she hastily wipes at them, intent on not letting any fall. It proves fruitless, however, because within a few seconds, he's hugging her tightly and she feels a few tears slip down her cheeks.

"You're gonna go call, right?"

"As soon as I land," he promises. "And we're skyping tomorrow."

She nods, pulls away slightly, looking up at him from beneath her slightly wet eyelashes. "So we're really doing this? The long distance thing?"

"Yeah, we are," he says, and he smiles, so she smiles tentatively back. "I love you, Rach, and I'll be back out to visit again soon, okay?"

"I know," she tells him. "And I'll visit Lima in a few weeks."

"I can't wait," he tells her honestly, and he presses a kiss to the top of her head.

The final boarding call is announced, but Rachel tightens her grip on Finn's waist. She doesn't want him to go, and she thinks he can sense that.

"I'll see you soon, baby girl," he promises. "I love you."

"I love you, too," she breathes, and then she stands up on her tiptoes to press a kiss against his mouth.

She says goodbye one final time, and then Finn's wheeling his suitcase into the boarding area. She knows she's crying again, but Kurt reminds her that Finn will call her in a few hours.

She leans her head on his shoulder, and she knows that this time, everything really is going to be just fine.


xx.

Rachel skypes with Finn nearly every night, and even though the picture isn't always the best quality depending on their connection, and sometimes Finn's face freezes in the middle of him telling her about his day, and he whines when she laughs for fifteen minutes because his mouth is permanently half open on her screen, despite all that, it's still nice to be able to physically see him, even if she can't be with him.

She still misses him like crazy, especially at night when she's alone in her bed, but doing long distance with Finn is definitely better than the months she went without any contact from him at all.

He sends her cute text messages every morning, and she always calls him before she goes to bed. He even mentions that he's applied to a few schools in the New York area for the next semester, because he's really serious about pursuing his teaching degree, and she beams and she wishes she could kiss him on the mouth, but she settles for screaming hysterically in his ear instead.

"I mean, I haven't got in or anything—"

"You will," she tells him confidently once she composes herself. "You're amazing, Finn."

"Nah, you're the amazing one."

"We're both pretty amazing," she allows with a giggle, and she can practically feel Finn smile, like his smile is seared onto her heart. Maybe it is, she thinks.

He asks how her day was, and she practically bursts with excitement when she tells him that she's been invited to perform in the spring showcase and a freshman being in two showcases is practically unprecedented, and he sounds so proud when he tells her congratulations, and she just loves him so, so much.

He says he'll be at her showcase, and she doesn't doubt that he will. She really can't wait to have him cheering her on from the crowd, the one person she wants there most in the world finally there, by her side.


xxi.

Finn does come to New York for her spring showcase, and after she wins, she runs over and kisses him, knocking the flowers he got her right out of his arms, but she can't bring herself to care. He's here, and she won, and she doesn't think she's ever felt so happy as she feels in this moment.

Her semester is over after the showcase, so she goes back with Finn and Kurt to Lima. She falls asleep on Finn's shoulder on the plane ride there, and when she wakes up, she's back in Ohio. Her dads and Carole and Burt have a huge homecoming dinner for the three of them, and Rachel really loves that she feels like her entire family is finally, finally back in place.

After dinner, Rachel and Finn head up to his room, and she knows their parents aren't naïve as to the sexual nature of their relationship (her cheeks still burn thinking about the time their senior year when Finn's mother not-so-discretely slipped a box of condoms into her purse), but she doesn't really feel comfortable having sex knowing his (and her) parents are just downstairs. Somehow, though, her shirt ends up on the floor and his hands are pressed against her bare sides, his lips on her neck.

"I missed you so much," he breathes against her skin, and they had sex only yesterday, in celebration of her win, but she knows exactly what he's talking about. She can't get enough of him either.

"God, I missed you, too," she tells him, kissing the side of his ear, digging her fingernails into his shoulder blades. "I can't wait until you come to New York."

He pulls away then, his expression odd, and he sits up, running a hand through his already-messy hair. She thinks she might've said something wrong.

"Finn?" she tries.

"I just… There's something I haven't told you, Rach, and I was sort of waiting for the right time, but – but I think this might be it."

Her heart pounds, and she really hopes he's not about to break up with her.

"I – I got into all three schools I applied to in New York." He looks up at her expectantly, his bottom lip trapped beneath his teeth.

Rachel thinks she's stopped breathing. "You – you're coming to New York."

He nods.

She squeals, tackling him and peppering his face with kisses. He laughs, but he moves so that she's lying on the bed and he's hovering overtop of her. He places a hand on her cheek, and her eyes flutter closed at his touch. He kisses her, and she smiles against his mouth.

"When can you move in?" she asks breathlessly as his lips travel down her throat.

"Definitely as soon as possible," he murmurs, gently nipping at her collar bone.

She smiles, her fingers playing with the button on his jeans.

He frowns, looking down at her hand, and he asks if she's sure. "I mean, our parents…"

"Finn, your mother gave me condoms," she reminds him, and he blushes, but he doesn't protest when she kisses him again.


xxii.

Their apartment for three officially becomes an apartment for four in June. Santana says she's only fine with Finn moving in because Rachel will be less of a mope, but Rachel sees her smirk, and she knows that everyone's really fine with it.

Finn's moving straight into her room anyway, so it's not like he's really taking up extra space.

She definitely likes having someone in her bed again, and more specifically, she likes that it's Finn. He's unloading his clothes into the half of the closet she offered to him (with the agreement that she gets more drawers in the dresser) when he looks over and smiles. She pats the bed next to her, tells him to take a break, and he happily obliges.

It doesn't take long for his mouth to find hers, and she's so happy she could burst. This is how New York was supposed to be all along, not her alone and lost and missing Finn. She knows they can't turn back time, and she's not even sure she would want to, because everything that happened has led to this moment, and she's pretty sure that this is exactly where she's supposed to be.

Finn's fingers knot in her hair, and she lets him lay her back on the bed, ignoring Kurt when he comes into the room and promptly shrieks, "My eyes! Honestly, you two couldn't even wait until it was at least afternoon?" before running out as fast as he entered.

"That's gonna happen a lot, isn't it?" Finn asks, and Rachel giggles, kissing him harder.

"It sure is," she agrees.

She's finally convinced that she can have it all, Broadway and Finn, her dream and happiness, and she thinks that finally, she's got it right.


thank you so much for reading, and any reviews/favorites are definitely appreciated! :)