Fic: All the Stars Play for Me (3/3)
Pairing/Characters: Rachel/Finn, ensemble
Setting/Spoilers: general spoils, but nothing specific--it's a near!future!fic
Warnings: sexual situations, language
Summary: senior year at McKinley.
A/N: Title and lyrics come from "Singing in My Sleep" by Semisonic.
He asks Mr. Schue for advice.
He tells him that his mom wants him to go to OSU, but Finn thinks he might want to go to New York. "They have community college there, right?" he says. "And then I could transfer to NYU after two years. I mean, do you think that would work?"
Mr. Schue hesitates for a moment. "Look, Finn, to be honest, I know some of what's going on in the club right now, with colleges and relationships. And this is about Rachel, right?"
"I know that you love Rachel," Mr. Schue goes on, "and I know that you can't imagine a life without her, but, Finn, your life is just beginning." He pauses. "You know, I think a big mistake that Terri and I made, because — because we were so young, really — is that we didn't realise that everything doesn't always come down to love. You can't build an entire relationship on how much you love somebody. I know that doesn't sound very romantic, but even if you love somebody with all your heart that doesn't make that somebody that right person for you."
Finn doesn't really know what to say. He knows that Rachel is the right person for him. Right?
"You're young, Finn. And you have turned into such an amazing kid. A man, even. But you still have so much more to grow. College is going to open up so many doors for you. And you shouldn't deny yourself any of that because you're afraid to lose Rachel. Your future is too important."
"What if Rachel is my future?"
That isn't such a crazy idea, is it?
Mr. Schue sighs. "She might be," he concedes. "But you don't know that yet. Like I said — you still have so much more to grow. And — and I know that every relationship is different, and that my ex-wife isn't anything like Rachel, but I would just hate to see you make the same mistakes I did. I was so in love with Terri, with my high school girlfriend — I experienced, just, just so must for the first time with her, and — and I let that dictate the decisions I made for years, instead of making my own decisions."
"But if I went to New York," Finn argues, "that would be my decision."
"If you went to New York," Mr. Schue replies, "and turn down the opportunity for a great education at a great school here in Ohio, you aren't making that decision for you alone. And, Finn, the only person you should plan your future around is you. I'm not saying that you don't love Rachel. I'm not saying that she isn't right for you. But your life is your life. And you need to live your life for you. Go to the college that is best for your future, and don't think about Rachel."
Finn nods. He doesn't really know how to separate his feelings for Rachel from the decisions he makes, but he doesn't think Mr. Schue does either. "I should go," Finn says. "I'm supposed to pick Rachel up from her dance class."
"Okay," Mr. Schue says. "I hope this helped."
Finn stands, and he isn't sure it really did, but he nods at Mr. Schue anyway. He starts to leave, but he can't help himself, and he glances back. "We could still try long distance, though, right?" he asks. "Me and Rachel. She could go to college in New York and I could go to OSU, and we could try long distance. That might work."
"Long distance is hard," Mr. Schue warns softly.
"I know. But we could still try, right?" Finn asks.
"Sure," Mr. Schue says, offering a small smile. "You could still try."
He doesn't sound very convinced, though.
Senior skip day is early this year, only a week or two in to April.
The entire Glee club meets at the lake, and somebody even invites the new kids.
They play volleyball in the water, and they take turns jumping off the rope swing into the freezing water, and Rachel, too afraid to go by herself, jumps a few times with Finn. Mercedes and Kurt drive out and pick up Chinese takeout for everyone, and then they all play Never Have I Ever with beer that Puck paid a college kid to buy him.
The girls all lay out on towels in the afternoon, until Puck quietly hands super soakers to all the boys, and then they ambush the girls, who scream and try to hide behind their towels, and Tina even shoves Mike into the lake, taking his super soaker from him as he goes, before turning on Puck.
Around five in the afternoon, they all start the half mile hike back to the parking lot.
Finn thinks it's kinda the perfect day. He doesn't even think about college until that night, alone in his room. And then he reminds himself that everything will work out. Rachel isn't worried, because she would tell him if she were, and he shouldn't freak out over nothing.
They can do long distance.
"It'll be a good story," Quinn says.
Startled, Finn glances at her, closing his locker. "What?"
"Sam and Rachel," she replies. She nods down the hall to where Rachel stands with Sam at his locker, waving her arms about as she explains something while Sam laughs and nods. "They can tell everyone how they met in high school but were only ever friends. And then they both left their small Ohio town for the big city, where they grew closer and closer, until one day friendship became something more."
Finn scoffs. "Sam and Rachel aren't going to get together."
"Maybe not," Quinn says. "But they were both always meant for bigger and better than Lima." She finally draws her eyes away from them and looks at Finn. "We aren't, Finn."
Does she honestly believe that?
"Is that why you broke up with Sam last week?" he asks.
She doesn't respond for a moment, but he sees her turn tense, her defenses shining in her eyes.
"I'm not going to be the high school girlfriend he dumps two weeks after he gets to NYU," she says. She glances away from him for a moment, and when she meets his gaze again, she smiles sadly. "I'm sorry our relationship never went the way I wanted," she tells him. "I've never told you this, but I really am sorry for the way I treated you. I wanted so much for me and you to make sense, even if we never honestly loved each other, because I thought you were the best this town could give me. And you still are, even if we won't ever really work."
She turns away and starts to leave.
"I'm better than this town," he tells her.
She glances back. "Did Rachel tell you that?" She pauses. "I wonder if she'll still think that after she spends a year in New York." She smiles in this unpleasant way. "Do you really think she'll still want to be with you after she realises everything she ever wanted is in New York, and she has to choose between that and her old boyfriend, still stuck in Ohio?"
She disappears down the hall. He looks at Sam and Rachel. He swallows thickly.
He tries not to let what Quinn says bother him.
He sees Rachel in the empty stands at baseball practice.
He frowns a little, but he has to wait until Coach blows the whistle and tells them to head home before he can go over to her. Sam and Puck wave, and she smiles sadly and waves, too, but her smile fades slightly when she sees him. Everything between them has been off for the last week, ever since Quinn talked to him, and he knows he needs to tell Rachel what she said.
Everything is better when they talk to each other about their feelings and stuff, right?
"Hey," he says quietly, climbing the last few bleacher steps to stand in front of her.
"Hi," she says, and she looks down at her lap. "We need to talk."
"Yeah." He sits down beside her, and he waits for her to say something, but she doesn't. He hates when this happens. He never really knows what to say or what to do, but she almost always does, and when she doesn't he kinda feels like the world is spinning backwards or something. He touches her back hesitantly, trying to come up with a way to start.
"I think —" she says, taking a deep breath and finally facing him, "— I think we should take some time apart."
What? What did she say? His stomach drops, and his chest constricts in this really painful way. He can't believe he heard her right. She didn't really say that. This is one of those unreal moments. Cows will suddenly rain down and this will all turn out to be a whacky dream. This isn't real.
"Time apart?" he echoes. "What does that — what does that even mean?"
She drops his gaze and stares instead unseeingly out at the baseball diamond.
Why won't she look at him? "Are you breaking up with me?" he asks.
"No," she says. He tries to see some sort of tell in her face. He doesn't understand any of this. "I don't want to break up with you," she says.
"Then what does that mean? Take some time apart?"
She doesn't answer.
"Rachel, I know things have been awkward lately, but that doesn't mean we have to break up."
"But what's the point?" she says, and she turns her whole body to face him. Her eyes are wide, and she looks so confused and messed up and so much like she did last year, when they were broken up and he was with Quinn, and he hates that look on her face. He doesn't ever want her to feel like that, feel all lost and broken. "Why should we bother to stay together if we don't have a future?"
"We — we do," he says. When did she suddenly start to think like this? She seemed fine with everything, even as he started to freak out and make everything tense.
She only turns away from him again, and her shoulders hunch slightly. "No, we don't. We're a great high school couple, but that's it. I'll go off to New York, and you'll stay in Ohio, and we'll grow apart and — and who actually marries their high school heart? We might as well just end things now, and spare ourselves the pain of —"
"No! No. I don't — I don't want to break up with you. And you don't want to break up with me. I know you don't. So — so we can make this work, we can —"
"It's not that easy!" she cries. "Long distance is hard. It's hard, and it breaks your heart. Why shouldn't we spare ourselves that pain, like Quinn and Sam?"
"Like Quinn and Sam?" he repeats. "We're not Quinn and Sam. We're Finn and Rachel! We're —"
But Rachel shakes her head, and desperation claws at his insides as she goes on. "Finn, I — I have always wanted to go to school in New York, to Juilliard, or to NYU, or to Rochester, or — I have always wanted that. But these last few weeks I've started thinking . . . this past weekend, I went online to do research about the OSU music department. But I can't — you're not supposed to — everybody, Finn, everybody warns you not to plan your future around a boy.
"And everybody is right. I need to go to New York. It's where I belong. But —"
"Then I'll go to New York!" he says. Mr. Schue is an idiot anyway. "I can move up there with you, and I can get a job and go to a community college, and —"
"No, no," she says, shaking her head as her tears finally spring free. "You can't do that! You can't plan your future around a girl, around me. You can't. OSU is perfect for you, Finn. You have a scholarship, and you'll get to play football, and to major in music if you want, and —" She starts to cry, clutching her mouth and rocking forward, and he doesn't know what to do.
"I don't want to break up with you," he says, his heart in his throat. "I won't."
He reaches out, touching her arm, and waits as she wipes her tears slightly so that she can meet his gaze. "Look, I don't want to break up either." She hiccoughs. "And Kurt says that we should try long distance. He says — he says that we — but we can't pretend we'll be together forever just because everything is so great right now. People don't marry their high school sweethearts. Look at what happened to Mr. Schue."
"Mr. Schue? Rachel, if I were like Mr. Schue, then I would — I would marry Quinn, the girl who never wanted anything more than to settle. You can't keep comparing us to other people," he tells her. He takes her hands. "Baby —"
She shakes her head again. "Don't. I just — I just think that before we decide to — to try long distance or to — before we make any more decisions — we just need a little while away from each other. I've spent every moment with you this year, and I can't think clearly anymore, and I — we need to — to take some time apart. We need to figure this out. Apart."
He swallows thickly. "I can't really say no, can I?"
She shakes her head, tears welling up again in her eyes.
"Okay," he murmurs. "We can take a few days apart."
It's quiet, and she takes a few deep breaths, wiping at her tears once more. She slowly stands, slinging her backpack over her shoulder, and then she looks back at him, and she leans down, steadying herself with one hand on his shoulder, and she kisses him. He can taste her tears as her lips move softly over his.
She draws back. "I'm sorry."
She walks away, and he only watches her go.
She avoids him at school the next day.
She texts him in the morning to remind him not to pick her up. He feels like she slapped him. She isn't by his locker between classes, and he barely catches a glimpse of her at her own locker. She isn't in the cafeteria at lunch, and in Glee she sits with Tina and Mercedes on the opposite side of the room from Finn. He loves Glee, he really does, but he feels so off without her beside him, leaning against his shoulder or holding his hand or passing notes back and forth with him.
The next day goes much the same way. Puck asks him if they broke up. He says no.
He doesn't say anything else.
He can't take this. She said they weren't breaking up, but what if she only wanted to be nice? What if everything really is over between them? He knows she loves him, though. On Friday, she avoids him yet again, and when he calls her name out in the parking lot, she pretends not to hear, and he can only watch her scurry off to her car.
He doesn't understand how this happened. She never showed any doubt all year long. She encouraged him to apply to schools all over the country, and she seemed so confident that everything would work out for them both, for them together. When did that change? When did she, like, lose faith in them?
He stares at the ceiling of his bedroom, and all he can think is that this is wrong.
She is wrong.
He won't let everything happen like this. He might have been worried all year about college and how they would make everything work, but now that he suddenly has to face the actual idea of life without Rachel, without his best friend, without his girl, without his Rachel, he knows that he can't let everything play out this way.
Mr. Schue and Quinn and Rachel — they might all be right when they talk about high school sweethearts and long distance relationships and how life really goes.
But he isn't gonna give up that easy.
Mr. Berry lets him into the house. He goes up to her room, and she looks up at him from her desk only to look determinedly back at her computer again a moment later. "You shouldn't be here, Finn. I need you to respect my decision — we have to spend some time apart."
"No, we don't," he says. He waits. She won't look at him. "Rachel, I — I want to say something, okay? Let me just say this, and then if you still want to spend time apart, or whatever, we can. But just hear me out. Please."
She shuts her computer and turns to look at him. "Okay," she agrees.
He takes a deep breath. "It's like this — you told me not to promise that I would never break up with you, 'cause we have to be realistic and stuff. And you were right about that. About the fact that, about, like, that we have to be all mature and, I mean —" This isn't really coming out as well as he had imagined it would.
He sighs and runs a hand over his hair.
"Do you maybe want to sit down?" Rachel suggests quietly, motioning at her bed.
He sits down, and he looks at her, sitting at her desk with her hands in her lap as she waits patiently for him to go on. "We have to be realistic," he says. "I get that. Last time we lived in this little bubble where we never let anything go wrong, it exploded in our faces. And we promised each other after Nationals that we wouldn't do that again. I promised you that I would be honest with you. Do you remember that?"
She nods. "Of course," she says softly.
"So I'm gonna be honest with you, Rach. I know that we might not be together forever. I know that, realistically, most people don't marry the people they were with in high school. And I know that everybody assumes they're the exception to the rule, when really you can't even know until way after high school. But —" He pauses. He will do this right.
He leans forward, and he hopes she can see how earnest he is. "— But I do think we're the exception to the rule, Rachel. I do. And I don't see what's wrong with that. Maybe we won't get married and have kids and all of that. But we're together now. And I — I am so in love with you." He chokes a little on the words. "And — and you love me, too, right?"
"More than anything," she whispers.
"So it'd be stupid, baby, can't you see that, it'd be so stupid to just, like, break up now because we might not be the exception to the rule. And I don't buy that it'll hurt less now, or whatever. Because at least if we fall apart in college, then we'll know we tried, and we couldn't make it work. But if we break up now? That'd be the dumbest thing ever. And I know dumb."
"You're not dumb, Finn," she says.
"I know," he replies, smiling slightly. "But I've done some dumb stuff. We both have. And I'm not gonna let us mess this up. I love you. And I want to stay with you. And I want to see if we are the exception. If it turns out we aren't, that'll suck. But, honestly, right now I can't imagine marrying anybody but you, or having super awesome babies with anyone but you, and I don't think I should have to. I know you like to plan the future. So, please, Rachel, don't stop planning ours. Don't lose faith in us yet."
Her bottom lip trembles a little, but she smiles at him, and he knows the tears in her eyes this time are the good kind. "We would have very attractive, talented children," she says. "They would have both musical and athletic prowess."
"Yeah," he says. "And they'd be the best Jews ever."
She laughs a little, and he reaches out to grab her hands. "So you really want to do this?" she asks. "You want to try long distance, with me in New York and you in Ohio?"
"I really want to do this," he repeats, nodding.
"Then lets do this," she says, squeezing his hands. She leans forward and kisses him, and his hands slip from hers, up her arms, and then around her to tug her closer. She sinks into him, straddling his lap, and she breaks the kiss only to hug him, pressing her face into his neck. "Let's do this," she repeats.
He smiles. "Yeah. Lets do this."
They make a whole plan.
She tells him on a random Tuesday that she might finally be truly, honestly, completely ready, especially after they worked their way past all of the college drama. And he knows he is, too. Rachel goes on birth control, and Finn gets tested to be extra positive he's good to go. And then they only have to wait for something special, because Rachel has always wanted it to be special, and, honestly, Finn has too.
Chicago is Special.
The night before Nationals is special.
The wine that Puck swipes for him and the flowers Finn buys are special — or special enough.
Everybody switches rooms in this train wreck of new arrangements after Mr. Schue goes out with Ms. Pillsbury and leaves the club to their own devices, and Rachel and Finn make sure they end up in their own room. A little past ten, they break open the wine, and she starts to giggle at everything, nervous, like he is, because they've waited so long for this. And then she kisses him before she's even had half a glass of wine, and she tastes so sweet.
They know what to do at first, as they fumble their way of out of clothing and over to the bed, as they kiss and they touch, as she goes down on him and he goes down on her, as they laugh and they tumble around a little. When she tries to pour more wine, she spills the drink all over herself, and her laughter turns into moans as he licks her clean. And suddenly they're somewhere new. He settles between her legs, and she nods at him and smiles, and they link hands, and he kisses her before he, as fast he can to lessen the pain, thrusts into her.
She gasps sharply, and he looks down at her, holding her gaze, trying to focus on her and not how desperately he needs to move. "Does it hurt lots?" he breathes.
"Not so much," she whispers. "Just lots of pressure . . . and lots of you, and. . . ." He kisses her sloppily, and he waits for her to respond to the kiss, and he tilts his hips a little because he can't help himself.
She wraps her arms around his neck, and whispers for him to "love me" into his ear.
It's all pretty awkward, to be honest. She clings to him, and they can't really manage to properly kiss, and limbs seem to be in places they shouldn't be, and he only lasts about fifteen seconds. But it's still kind of completely awesome, at least for him. And, afterward, as they lie side by side, breathing heavily, sweaty and sore, she takes his hand. He turns to look at her properly, and she turns, too, and she smiles. "I love you," he says.
"I love you, too," she replies.
He remembers the last time he had sex, and how he lay in a motel room afterword, and the sick feeling that swelled up in his chest. He can't even explain how different he feels now, how something so much better is swelling up inside him, and when she stretches ever-so-slightly to kiss him, he lets his hand skim down her stomach, because she should feel as awesome as he does. She feels different down there, but she responds almost immediately, and she smiles when she comes, arching into him.
He loves those kinds of smiles.
They put on pyjamas and turn off the lights, and she lies half on top of him, ghosting her fingers across his chest. "Didn't you bring Henrietta?" he asks randomly. He feels this kind of warm lazy contentment. He thinks he could lie in this bed forever.
"I thought I would cuddle with you instead," she replies sleepily. He smiles to himself. Moments later, she props herself up to look at him, and he runs a hand through her messy hair. "It was special, Finn," she tells him. "But I think it was always going to be special with you."
He doesn't really know what to say, so he only leans up slightly, cupping the back of her head and kissing her. She lies back down, shifting her head to rest right over his heart, and he knows she loves that, loves to fall asleep to the sound of his heartbeat.
He doesn't know what will happen at Nationals the next day, and he should be nervous. He isn't.
Is it totally lame to say he already won? Yeah, probably.
They place third.
Finn can see the disappointment shine in Rachel's eyes, but she bravely smiles as Mr. Schue accepts the slightly smaller trophy. He takes her hand as they all head back to their dressing rooms to collect their things, and he pulls her aside. "You would have won first place," he tells her.
"Finn," she murmurs, "I really don't want to talk about this. I know that third place at the national level is a huge accomplishment, but I can't help my disappointment. I'm going to try to enjoy my time left in New York, however, and —"
"No, Rachel, listen to me," he says, and he touches her chin to turn her face up towards his. "The truth is, this club probably isn't the best in the country. We're probably more like third. But you, Rachel? You're the best in the country. If this were, like, American Idol or something, you would have totally won. And you are gonna win someday. You're gonna be so famous, and you're gonna win all these awards, I know it."
She bites her lip and smiles at him, tears beading in her eyes. "I won you, didn't I?" she asks.
"You never really had to compete for me," he says. "I was always yours." He shrugs. It's a true story, you know? "And I always really will be."
She kisses him, holding his face in her hands, and then she hugs him tightly, her fingers curling around the material of shirt. He's disappointed they lost, too, and he knows she isn't suddenly going to be not disappointed, but he means every word he tells her. She is the best, and after college they're going to head out to New York and she'll have chance to show that to the world.
He kisses her quickly again before they link hands once more and follow the rest of the club out of the concert hall.
Mr. Schue takes them all out to dinner, and he cries when he gives a speech about how much he loves all of them, and how proud he is of them, and how they changed his life. Finn kind of cries a little, too. How can he not? This club changed his life. Rachel changed his life, and if Mr. Schue had never started New Directions then Finn never would have had the chance to know Rachel, and to fall for her, and that would be the worst life ever.
Third place can suck it.
It was never really about Nationals, anyway.
Rachel wants to take ten thousand photos at graduation.
He tries to beg off, because Kurt and Mercedes both did, but Rachel won't let him. "Let my daddy take a few more," she insists, smoothing out her dress again. She does look really pretty, wearing this white sundress, with her hair up in this fancy twist. But he has to pee really bad.
"Rachel," he whines.
"Three more, Finn," she replies, and she wraps her arms around him and gives her daddy and the camera another winning smile. He does, too, but he won't be surprised if he looks like he's in pain in all of these photos. "Just think," Rachel tells him, straightening his tie a little, "our children will look at these pictures. We want them to be perfect."
Her daddy snaps another photo as his mom bites back a smile. "Rachel," she asks, her voice playful, "do you mind if I ask exactly how many grandchildren who will enjoy these photos I can expect in the distant future?"
"One of each or up until three of one," Rachel says brightly. "Okay, Finn, just one more photo."
Finn sees his mother trying to hide her smile behind her program, and he grins at her.
He drives to the airport with her and her dads.
Her dads each hug her, and her daddy cries, and her dad makes her to promise to call him as soon as the plane lands. They both seem unable to let her go, and they tell her over and over again how much they'll miss her, and she starts to cry a little, too.
Finally, she turns to Finn. She takes his hands.
"You ready to go?" he asks, his words sticking in his throat a little. She nods. "You have everything you need? Did you pack Henrietta?" She laughs a little and hugs him. He buries his face in her hair, and wishes he never had to let her go. He can't believe his girlfriend is about to fly off to New York and he won't see her for two months.
She pulls back slightly. He brushes his knuckles under her eyes, wiping away the last of her tears.
"I love you," she whispers.
"I love you, too," he says. "I'll love you forever." He smiles. "Am I allowed to promise that?"
She laughs, her eyes watering again. "Yes," she says. "You can promise that."
He kisses her, holding her as close as he can and trying to savour this last kiss for a long, long time. She reminds him he needs to be on Skype at eight that night to talk to her, and then he watches her walk towards security. She waves before she disappears. He doesn't know how everything will work between them for the next few years, but he does love her, and he can't imagine a time when he won't.
And he isn't going to pretend he can.
I've been living in your cassette.
It's the modern equivalent,
Singing up to a Capulet,
On a balcony in your mind.
And all the sounds dream for me,
Dive me down in a soul so deep.
I can hear you singing to me in my sleep.
part 1. part 2.