So, now it's officially over. I've loved writing this so much. It was such a different fic to what I normally write, and it was just refreshing to do.
Thank you to everyone for following this story and giving all your support!
Finn finishes collecting the small rabbits they'd caught and stuffs them into the bag that's over his shoulder. "There," he smiles, "that should be good for dinner tonight." With a half smile, he looks upwards at Rachel who stands beside him. Rachel then holds out a hand to help pull him back up from his position on one knee.
"I'm not that old, you know," he chuckles, "I'm only thirty five."
"You're my old man,"Rachel jokes with a nudge to his side, only to giggle as he wraps his arm around her and lifts her off her feet. "Finn," she reprimands him, managing to wiggle from his grasp. Before she can fully get away, he tugs her back in, this time placing a kiss to her lips. "Let's get back," she says when they pull apart, hands slowly moving down his chest, "it's getting late and I don't like being out here when it's dark." Her expression falters, only slightly, but he understands. Sometimes she still wakes up with nightmares, but thankfully those night are far and few between.
"Alright," he nods, slipping his arm over her shoulder while his other holds onto the bag of rabbits.
By the time they return to the settlement, the sun is barely peeking through the mountains, and they step hand in hand back through the gate.
"Took you long enough," Mike greets him with a smile and a pat to his back, "we almost thought you'd gotten yourselves into trouble, again."
"We can look after ourselves," Rachel insists, "last month was just a lapse of judgement because we were otherwise distracted."
"Distracted," he mumbles, "sure."
Rachel gives Mike a look, and then tugs on Finn's hand, "come on, we have to hurry up." Feeling her eagerness spread to him, they both rush into the building, suddenly enveloped in warmth. But before he can even speak, Rachel is practically setting into a run to the common room. All he can do is sprint after her, and despite his long legs it's difficult to keep up with her speed.
Just as he steps inside the large room, he finds Rachel with a small bundle held against her chest, her eyes closed in content.
He advances toward the two, who suddenly looks up to him with bright blue eyes and a huge grin. "Daddy," she beams, sliding her arms from Rachel's neck and toward him, "I miss you."
"You mean missed," Rachel smiles softly. "We're here now, baby." She gently strokes Mia's hair while the girl slips into Finn's embrace, nuzzling her face against his shirt. She's always like this when they come back after a day of hunting. He hates leaving her really, but they have to go; they have to contribute to the community, which seems to grow constantly with newcomers. And she's so young, she barely understands why she can't go out hunting with them, but there are still infected out there, bandits and hunters, too If anything happened to Mia he'd... he really has no idea what he'd do.
Kissing her hairline, he hoists her up higher, "right, let's go take this stuff to the kitchens and get dinner ready. You wanna come with me or Momma?"
"With you, Daddy," she mumbles tiredly. In his peripheral, he sees Rachel watching them with a small smile to her lips. Carrying her in his arms the entire way, he hands off the rabbits to be skinned and cooked, while Mia tells him about what she's done that day. They're constantly trying to think of ways to keep all the children entertained, sometimes with movies and sometimes with group games. But it's still hard. Kids are curious. They want to leave the settlement, to know what's out there, and he's terrified of the day when Mia's old enough to be able to do that.
Finn sighs at that thought, and instead hugs her close to him, "did you have a good day with Blaine?"
She nods with a sweet smile. "We picked the carrots," she announces proudly, "I got a big one!"
"You did?" he asks enthusiastically, "that's my girl."
He feels a figure lingering next to him, and then suddenly hears a scoff. "You know," Kurt begins, "sometimes it's hard to believe that you're the same guy who fought your way across the country and single handily took down most of the Fireflies when you're such a big softie around Mia."
"What can I say?" he shrugs, "how else am I supposed to act around her?" Sometimes it bothers him that she'll one day found out about all the crap that he's done in his life, how many things he's done to survive. With a small sigh, he shifts her on his side, noting how her eyes droop slightly. The tiredness seems to be contagious and he suddenly feels the long day sweep over his muscles.
Kurt reaches for her, "go and rest if you're tired. You're not on patrol tonight and you look like you need it."
"I'll wait," he insists, though still hands Mia off to Kurt. She barely even realizes, dropping her head to his neck. "Dinner shouldn't be long and then we can all sleep. It's been a long day."
"Rachel said you ran into some infected."
He nods, "just a couple. Nothing we couldn't handle." It'd barely taken a few shots to bring them down, quickly and efficiently. "Right, gonna go and wash up before dinner. Can you watch her?"
"Sure," Kurt smiles, "she can be our little helper with the cooking." With a thankful look, he heads off to the washroom and cleans up as much as he can, then goes to wait in the common room with Rachel, who pats the seat beside her for him to take. When he does so, she slides her hand into his and leans her head against his broad shoulder with a smile. He quickly returns it.
As the light in the room begins to fade to darkness, they get the large fire going and all gather around. There are electric heaters, but they prefer to use as little energy as possible – only when it's really cold do they bring them out. When the stew for dinner is ready, they eat in comfortable silence as the long day finally settles in. He watches with a small chuckle as Rachel feeds a tired Mia her food. It's kind of amazing how easily she fell into the mom role; right from the very second that they decided her and Finn would raise her as their own daughter. She was the one who could calm her down as she cried in the middle of the night, the one who could recognize each cry and coo, knowing what they meant. She's just been perfect from the start, and he couldn't be more proud of her.
The night draws on, leading them to slowly retire to bed. They've spent the whole day hunting and the early wake up has taken its toll on their bodies.
It's the first night in a few weeks that they've both been off patrol together, and the pair slip into bed together, Mia snuggled between their bodies. She goes to sleep first, as always, and Finn is content to just stare at her peaceful expression. Unlike the rest of them, she's had a relatively good life so far, and her dreams aren't haunted with bad memories. He's thankful for that; he never wants her to have to deal with the pain that they have, but one day surely something will happen. The world is so unpredictable, even in their little safe settlement. In the past five years here, they've had their fair share of ups and downs, one of them involving the tiny girl nuzzled against his chest.
She's not theirs. Well, she is. They're her mom and dad, the one who've loved and cared for her since she was a baby, but biologically, she isn't theirs. Blaine had found her mother out while he'd been hunting, the woman sporting a bite from an infected and beginning to show the signs of turning. What scared them all most is the tiny baby she carried, the one that she'd begged would be kept safe.
For a few moments, it seemed that Will and Emma were going to step up, to bring her up. It's hard enough looking after yourself, but having a baby, too. That makes it even more difficult. But then Rachel suddenly had the baby nestled in her arms, holding her for the first time, and Finn saw the way she looked down toward her, a look of pure love. He knew there and then that she was theirs; no one was taking that away from them.
And here they are three years later, after the long struggle of raising her while trying to survive. It's hard, really hard. But they always knew it was going to be – it's the reason why he hadn't wanted him and Rachel to try for a baby in the first place. Being pregnant would have made her incredibly vulnerable, but sometimes he wonders what it'd be like. He can't help it. Ever since Mia came into their life, he imagines what it would be like if they did it themselves, and while it seems scary and totally crazy, it's also kind of good to think those things.
Rachel wants it; he can see it in her eyes all the time.
Like right now, as she watches the two of them, her face bright with happiness. "What?" he asks gently. He keeps his voice quiet, because there are some people asleep in the beds surrounding them.
"It's just..." she pause for a moment, "this is always what I wanted. Some sort of normality in my life. A family, friends, somewhere safe." Her fingers brush through Mia's dark brown hair. She gives a small smile, "it's just so easy to imagine that everything is safe here. We rarely see any infected, there are only a few bandits in the area left, so most of the time it's like – you know, almost as though the world is okay."
"It is okay," Finn insists, "things are better. We can all see that every day."
"You really think so?"
He nods with certainty, "I know it is, Rach. Who knows? Maybe in like, a hundred years' time things will be completely normal again and maybe there'll be a cure, or the infection will die out." His voice becomes suddenly quieter than ever, "maybe people will be able to live again, you know. Not just survive."
"But we're not just surviving, are we?" she asks with genuine worry.
Finn reaches around Mia to rest his hand on her waist, thumb softly rubbing over the exposed piece of skin. "Of course not. You and me, we're living." He then gives a wry smile, "if before we met someone told me in just a few years, I'd be living in a self-sufficient settlement, with the most amazing girl and our kid, I would have probably have called them crazy."
A smile grows on her lips, "I can imagine. But here we are."
"Here we are," he repeats, face just as bright. "And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
I really hope that you've liked this fic as much as I have.
Please review :)