A/N: Yet another therapeutic (hopefully not just for me) one-shot. This one is set in Season 4 up to "Swan Song," revealing some of what I always believed was going on behind the scenes. It was comforting for me then, when what we actually saw was so often frustrating or disappointing. I hope some of you find comfort in it now.
For Cory, and for Lea.
Disclaimer: Don't own Glee. All mistakes are mine.
Okay, so she hadn't butt-dialed him.
She'd actually never butt-dialed him in four years, meticulous as she was about locking her phone – what if she was anxiously awaiting a callback for her break out role one day and was so careless as to allow some opportunist like Puck to prank dial her contacts? No, it was just good practice for her future career to staunchly guard her phone and its contents. She was surprised Finn didn't remember that, but she was almost glad he didn't. Otherwise he might realize that she hadn't been mistakenly calling him from her pocket or her purse all these months.
The summer they were supposed to be surrendering, when she'd been in a city of millions and never felt so alone, she called him more times than she cared to remember. His phone was always turned off – she assumed he wasn't allowed to have it at boot camp – but just hearing his voice (even in a years-old pre-recorded message) steadied her. "Hey it's Finn," came his happy voice, and she could pretend he was just across town, that she'd see him tomorrow.
He was the one who insisted on no-contact after their break up, and she wished she were strong enough to respect it fully. Talking to him hurt, but knowing she didn't even have the option was much, much worse. She actually did last a few days, though. She was just so mad at him. How could he want nothing to do with her, not even to know when she was in town? She'd assumed they'd continue to support each other as friends – he wasn't mad at her for breaking up with him, at least not until he remembered Brody was in the picture. He was just punishing her now because he was jealous, because he didn't want to see her moving on. Well, fine. The joke would be on him. He was stubborn, but eventually he'd realize what a stupid idea this was.
It was easier to be mad than heartbroken. The trouble was, she'd never been an angry person – passionate, dramatic, yes, but never bitter – and her fury at him burned itself out in less than a week. Then she just missed him all over again. Only these days when she broke down and called him, she knew he had his phone on. The first time he answered, she was so surprised she only just bit back a shaky "hello" – this having been after a particularly brutal dance class – and, okay, she'd been selfish. She needed to hear his voice, but she couldn't let him think she was calling him, breaking their deal on purpose. She wouldn't even know what to say to him because nothing had changed – she wanted him with her, and he just wasn't ready.
These weak moments became regular occurrences in the days leading up to the Winter Showcase at NYADA, even with extra practices to keep her busy and tired.
What she could never forget, what kept her heart weak and hopeful, was that no matter how many times she called him and breathed silently down the line, phone pressed tightly against her ear, he always answered. She never knew if he was hoping she would call for real, or if he was gathering background noises like precious, incomplete details of her life (like she was for him), but he never rejected the calls or sent her a curt rebuff via text.
He always answered, but he never called. And more than anything, she wished she knew what that meant. Was he regretting ever suggesting this stupid rule? Would he tell her so if she asked? Or did he really mean it, and answering was just his weakness? Would he ask her to stop calling, to let him get over her? She didn't think she was strong enough to hear that right now.
It was funny. Four years of slushies and bullying had made her strong and self-reliant. But she didn't think she'd ever be anything but fragile where he was concerned. She guessed that was true for everyone's first love, so she was lucky, in a way. She'd given herself to him wholly and completely – she knew that that's why it had nearly killed her each time it all came tumbling down. She knew better now. She'd never lose herself like that with anyone else, no matter how talented or chiseled they were. So she was lucky it had been Finn – because no matter their status or drama, he always supported her, wanted what was best for her (they seemed to disagree lately about exactly what the best was, but beside the point). She never doubted his heart.
Of course, the fact that she was so fiercely, irrevocably connected to him (tethered, he would say) was also the source of her current misery. Finn was a part of her past, of course – he'd helped make her a happier and better person just by being himself – but he'd been a part of her future, too. She wanted to marry him – she'd tried to marry him. Twice! She'd pictured Hanukahs with Christmas trees, football-and-award-show Sundays, bought a bed and shelves and dressers for two. How was she supposed to just shut that off?
She hadn't physically pulled herself apart yet, so, borderline-stalkerish butt-dialing aside, she thought she was handling this as best she could.
Everything changed the night she won the Showcase.
Her butt-dialing had reached an all-time high that week, between wishing he could talk her down from the multiple stress peaks she hit as she worked and re-worked ideas for her Showcase performance and wanting to offer condolences over the New Directions' Sectionals loss. She knew without a doubt he'd blame himself for it, as though there was anything he could've done to stop that new girl from passing out on stage. She wanted to say something to pick him back up, but she was afraid she would make it worse – that he wouldn't want to hear from her, or that she'd just end up sharing her own misery and add to the hurt.
But she won. How could she have forgotten the miracle medicine that was success? Carmen Tibideaux handed her a small crystal statue and a plaque for posterity, and she felt more like herself than she had in months, since she'd left everything she knew on a train platform in Ohio.
The moment she was free and alone afterward, she wanted to call Finn. This night wouldn't be complete without him, and she finally felt like she could be honest with him, support and encourage him the way they'd always done for each other. She could be the strong one – she knew what to say now. And he would answer, just like he always did, just like she always would for him.
She didn't know how long it would take them to find each other again, but she the number of times they'd stayed on the line, gratified just to listen to the other breathe because they were too stubborn to speak, told her they had never really let go. And wouldn't, as long as he kept answering.
"Rachel, it's Finn. You butt-dialed me again."
This time, she'd answer him back.
A/N: Look out for more one-shots, as long as the ideas keep coming. I'm open to suggestions, too. Hang in there, guys.