a/n: Sorry this took longer to post than I had said! I kept on changing my mind about the order of events and what I did and didn't want to include. I'm still kind of meh about this chapter. Well, sophomore year of college is pretty boring anyhow, right? And this is something of a filler chapter, a lead-in for junior year (which is angst-tastic, by the way). Anyway, here's part two, and I'll try to post part three more quickly.
Finn starts mowing lawns for twenty dollars a pop.
He makes a lot of money, and it's so much better than working at Sheets 'N things. It starts with the little old ladies in his neighbourhood who want to crow over little Finn, all grown up and playing ball for Ohio State, and pretty soon he's doing four or five lawns a day.
When he isn't, he's shooting hoops with Puck, or watching television with Sean, or hanging out downtown with Mike and Artie. And he spends a lot of time with Rachel, but that's a given. He uses his money to get a new TV for his dorm next year, but he also spends lots on really expensive dates with Rachel, and it's totally cool that he can pay, like, twenty five bucks for her to have some funky-looking brown goopy vegan soup.
Her dads want to take Rachel for a two week trip to Italy, and they actually invite Finn to come. He doesn't know what to say, and he's pretty sure his mom can't afford it, but Rachel won't take no for an answer, and of course he needn't worry about money 'cause he's a guest. That part sort of makes him feel sucky, but he does manage to pay for his own plane ticket.
And Italy is awesome, even if Rachel wakes him up really early every morning so they can go see some really old building or painting or statue. (She also tries to make him learn Italian, which totally doesn't work, but she's cute when she's speaking in an Italian accent.)
The rest of summer slowly smears into long, hot lazy days of hanging out with Glee like they're all still in high school. On Rachel's birthday at the start of August, they all start singing Don't Stop Believin' to her, and she quickly takes the lead part, like they knew she would. The whole restaurant applauds. It's their song, Rachel and Finn's, and the club's, too, and Finn never gets tired of it. And he never gets tired of the summer. He doesn't want it to end.
But sophomore year is gonna be even better. He just knows it.
Two weeks in, he isn't sure if sophomore year is better, but it's definitely busier.
He has, like, no free time.
He already knows all these people, but he keeps meeting more people, and everybody always wants to hang out and do stuff, and he can't say no. And he actually plays in every football game now, and there's practice for hours every day. Classes are harder, too, even though he's still taking lots of intro classes. (Who knew Into to Pottery would be hard?)
Rachel's busy, too, because she joins a choir, and she starts tutoring kids, and she declares her major on, like, the second day of classes. "I want to make the most of my college experience," she says. They still talk, sure, but sometimes they go for days without more than a few texts between them.
He knew it was coming. But it's still hard.
In October, Rachel becomes determined to make time. He goes along with everything she says. Every week he prints off the list of scheduled Skype dates she e-mails him, and he never misses a single one. He's pretty proud of himself — he's totally acting like a good boyfriend should.
Billy says he's whipped, but Finn doesn't care. He knows Billy likes Rachel, anyway.
After surviving a year of it, he and Rachel are pretty boss at this whole long distance college thing.
Advisor meetings are stupid.
"Hello Finn," she greets, smiling across her desk at him.
"Hey Professor," he says. He sits down uncomfortably, feeling like a giant in the little chair at the little table in the little office. He hates these meetings. He had to go to two last year, and he has to go to at least two this year, too. It sucks. What does he need an advisor for, anyway?
"I haven't seen you since last March. How have you been since then?"
He shrugs. "You know . . . okay."
"Did the semester finish up okay?"
"How about your summer? Did you do anything fun?" She's being really nice, and he can tell she's trying hard, so he tries, too.
"I, er, started mowing lawns. As a job, I mean. And I went to Italy with my girlfriend and her dads."
"Your girlfriend?" Professor Yates smiles. "Does she go here?"
"No, um, she goes to NYU. She's a theatre major." He pauses. "She's great."
Professor Yates nods. There's an awkward silence. Finn fiddles with a loose string in his trousers. "So," Professor Yates says finally, "let's talk about this semester. How is everything so far? Do you like your classes?"
"Yeah. They're good."
"Any one you like in particular?"
He shrugs again. "Not really."
"That's okay. Sometimes we have to face a boring semester or two. Do you have any idea what you might want to major in, though?" She's only trying to help, he knows, but he really hates that question.
"No," he says.
"Well, what do you like?"
"I like football," he answers — and singing, and food, and Rachel. And that's pretty much it.
She smiles. "It's okay, Finn," she tells him, "relax. You've barely begun your sophomore year. Nobody expects you to have your future all planned out. You have until the end of the year to declare a major, and even that's not set in stone."
He nods. "Cool." He grabs for his backpack. This means he can go, right?
"But it's never too early to think about what you might want to do, as a major and later in life."
"Is there anything you could see yourself doing in ten years?"
"Not really," he says uneasily. She stays silent, obviously waiting for something. "I mean, I guess all I've ever really wanted is to get out of Lima. To not be, you know, a Lima Loser." He sort of mutters it, but he's pretty sure she hears him.
"Well," she says kindly, "you're on the right track. You're at a good school, and you're doing very well."
He's kind of flattered, and he gives a small smile. "Thanks, Professor."
"Sure," she says. "Have a good day, Finn. And if you want to talk about anything, just send me an e-mail or come by." He tells her he will, and as he walks across campus, he can't help but be glad that someone besides Mr. Schue, his mom, and Rachel think he can actually be something more than a Lima Loser.
(Even if he has no idea what that something more entails.)
It starts when he's drunk. (He should probably stop being drunk so much.)
He doesn't even know what he's done until the next morning. He's still in his boxers and a ratty t-shirt and is groggily checking his e-mail when Billy mentions that text Finn sent him last night. "What text?" Finn asks, frowning.
"You don't remember? You kept texting me about how you love cupcakes. You have the dumbest drunk texts, dude."
Finn grabs his cell and looks at his sent texts. He winces when he sees all the crap he sent people. There's something to Kurt and to Lydia and to Kevin and to like fifteen other people. Stupid drunk me, he thinks. Should he send a mass text to everybody saying sorry? He sees he sent something to Rachel. He opens it up hesitantly and nearly drops his phone.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
"Hey babe! Miss me? I miss you so much! I wish you were here so I could fuck your tight little pussy."
He gapes at his phone, looks around the room as if he expects cameras to jump out and tell him it's all a joke, and then glances back at the stupid text he sent Rachel. The stupid dirty text he sent Rachel. He's misspelled some words, and it's not even a good dirty text . . . not that he'd know one if he saw it. Besides, any kind of dirty text is gonna piss Rachel off.
He's pretty sure she's not even a fan of dirty talk in general.
"What's the matter with you?" Billy asks.
"I sent Rachel a drunk text last night," he says.
"It's kinda dirty."
"That's not a good thing, man!" Finn exclaims. "What do I do?"
Billy doesn't have an answer for him.
Finn paces his room for nearly ten minutes. Maybe it didn't go through? Billy asks if he wants to get breakfast, but Finn waves him off. He needs to come up with a game plan, dammit! Two hours later he's still agonising over it, and he's hungry now, too. His phone buzzes suddenly in his hand, and Finn nearly jumps two feet in the air. He looks down at the screen. One new text from Rachel. His heart starts pounding.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
He takes a deep breath and presses view. He nearly drops his cell again.
"I wish I were there, too. I want you to fuck me against the wall. I want to feel you hard and hot, thrusting into me. ;)"
He stands there for a minute. He's gone hard in his pants, because holy shit, Rachel Berry just sent him a dirty text. It's all spelled right and has perfect punctuation and a little winking smiley face, but it's still a dirty text. He should reply, shouldn't he? She'll probably freak out if he doesn't (if she isn't already). It takes him ten minutes, and his fingers tremble a little. But no — he can't write that. He quickly deletes it. He takes a deep breath. Get it together, Hudson, he couches.
"What do you want, baby? Do you want me to lick your pussy? Do you want me to finger your ass?"
He deletes that, too. But then he types it out again. He hits send before he can change his mind. Shit. He shouldn't have sent it.
Moments later, she texts him back. He nearly jizzes in his boxers right then and there. He realises with a sudden jolt that he's sexting. He's heard Eric say it. Holy shit. He's sexting with Rachel. And it's freakin' awesome. One hands slips into his boxers, even as he starts to reply.
He's really glad Billy isn't there.
He still goes out to parties, but they're not as boss as last year.
Like, he's still a beer pong champ, and he's pretty killer at flip cup, too, but he doesn't ever really get wasted anymore, 'cause, come on, he's not some dumb freshman. He mainly just sits around with Billy and Eric and this new kid who's awesome at Halo.
He mentions it to Rachel, and she tells him he's maturing.
Then he feels like he totally can't do something stupid like get wasted, 'cause Rachel thinks he's mature. So he goes to parties, drinks a beer or two, and talks sports and video games with his friends. That's really mature, right?
Either way, he stays cool, and that's pretty sweet, so he's not gonna complain.
"They went to the same high school, Finn!" Rachel raves. "They've been friends since they were younger than us! And Professor Kim says that he's only ever seen somebody with my potential pass through his theatre a few times, and he'll make sure that David Reid comes to the musical."
"That's great, Rach," Finn says.
"An actual Broadway star at my musical! Oh, what if he tells his agent about me? Or his director? Finn, I wish you could be here. The musical's going to be spectacular! Kurt has been helping me practice in the evenings, and this is my chance, Finn, I just know it!"
"You're gonna blow 'em out of the water," he says.
For the first time in nearly an hour, she pauses. Her voice goes soft. "I really wish you could be out there in the audience, too," she says softly.
"Me, too," he replies, and he really means it. He misses all sorts of things about Rachel, but never being able to listen to her sing, or watch her on stage, or sing with her — well, it's like, those are the reasons he fell in love with her in the first place. How can he not miss them?
"But your friend Anna is gonna film it all for me, right?" he says. "And we can watch it on Skype together after."
"Yes, of course!" she exclaims, and she's off again, gushing to her heart's content.
There's this new guy who walks onto the football team, and it turns out he's totally into classic rock. His name's Nick, he's built like the hulk, and he's from a hick town in no where, Ohio, just like Finn. And he can play bass guitar.
When Finn tells him that he plays drums, Nick says they should have jam session.
Finn is determined to make it happen. When it finally does, it's awesome. Finn plays his heart out on the drums Andy Gusgow lets him borrow, and he starts to sing, too, and Nick rocks away on the bass, and it's not like Glee, but it's still totally killer. They play the best of Guns 'n Roses, and some ACDC, and even some Poison.
"Dude, we should start a band," Nick says.
It turns out Kevin can play guitar, too, and he's a pretty decent singer (Rachel would have a few critiques for him, but Finn's not gonna tell him that), so they totally start, like, regular practices. They can't agree on a name, so they just become Nick, Finn, and Kevin's band, and they start playing at all the house parties.
It never really goes anywhere, but it's music, and Finn loves it.
Winter break is as awesome sophomore year as it was freshmen year.
He sleeps in past noon everyday, and he plays video games with Puck and Mike until his mom says his eyes are gonna rot out of his head. He gets to hang with Artie a few times, too, and he even sees Mr. Schue, who's got a kid now. And he gets all these awesome presents, including two seasons of Funny Guy on DVD.
But the best part is Rachel, hands down. They go sledding, and it turns out she's too scared to go by herself, so she rides with him, screaming a lot and hugging him really tightly. They go out on dates, too, just like in the summer. Mainly, though, they just hang. And he waits for a few minutes alone.
Like, just a few minutes, please God, when his mom isn't in the kitchen banging pots and pans around to remind them that she's there, or her daddy isn't knocking on her bedroom door "just to check in and say hello."
(He knows she's waiting for it, too, 'cause they've come pretty damn close all break, but they so can't get caught with somebody's hand down the other person's pants again, or the parents are totally gonna go all apeshit on them.)
Finally, finally, the afternoon of New Years Eve, her dads have to go to some lame office party. She texts him the night before. "House is ours tomorrow after 2:00." He can barely sleep, and the moment he gets to her house, he's all over her.
She giggles a little at his enthusiasm, but he doesn't care — he grips her ass under her little dress, lifts her so she straddles his waist, and stumbles up the stairs. He falls onto the bed with her, and as she kisses his neck, he works on getting her out of that dress. When he finally does, he goes so hard it's painful. She's not wearing a bra. He stares.
"What? What's the matter?" She's breathless. "I thought you were a man on a mission."
"I just . . . missed them . . . so much."
She laughs. "Oh, Finn," she coos, "my boobs missed you, too!" and she tugs him to her for another kiss. He palms her breasts, feels her small hands pulling down his pants, and his eyes nearly roll back in his head. He's not really sure how she does it, 'cause he's kind of a little busy worshipping her boobs, but she gets his pants off, and his boxers, too, and pretty soon she's going down on him.
He loves her. So. Fucking. Much.
Before he loses it, he tugs her up. He kisses her, and she makes that awesome mewling sound. It makes his head go all hot and fuzzy, and he presses her into the bed. "C-condom?" she breathes into his neck
"Mmm," he replies, trying to think straight. He brought one, right? Didn't he bring, like, fifteen?
Quick and aggressive, she pushes him over so that she's on top, and she reaches to her desk drawer. He grips her hips and stares up her boobs. So perfect. "Got it," she says triumphantly. "And look! They're berry flavoured!" She grins delightedly and tears open the wrapper.
He watches her, watches her face, and when he flips her again, as she rolls the condom on him and he settles in between her thighs, the best place ever, she has this breathless little smile on her face. It's adorable. She's adorable. He pulls back slightly. "Rach," he says, "I . . . I really love you. A lot." She bites her lip, and he grins at the kind of shy pleasure in her gaze. "Okay," he says, "just wanted to say that." And he thrusts inside her.
Her dads don't get home until past 9:00.
It's the greatest day in the history of Lima, Ohio.
So, yeah, Rachel is definitely the best part of break.
But it's in the middle of winter break that he realises what sucks most about college.
He's in the kitchen, making a PB&J and listening to Rachel rave about her musical and the encore the cast received at the final showing, when she mentions Jill. "Wait, who's Jill?" he asks.
"She's Peter's girlfriend," Rachel answers, and she starts to go on.
"Who's Peter?" Finn frowns, grabbing his sandwich and coming to sit beside her.
"He's the art major who did the background for Oklahoma," she says, frowning too, as if he should obviously know this. "He was the only one who listened to my ideas. You remember that, right?"
"Ah, not . . . not really." He racks his brain, but he doesn't even have a fuzzy memory, not even a few words he can recall from a long spiel she gave while he pretended to listen and really just watched television. "Are you sure you told me?"
"I thought I had," she says, and she looks thoughtful. But then she simply shrugs. "Oh, well, I guess I didn't. Oh, Finn, Peter was a lifesaver. See, Cassie — that blonde horror who spent the whole semester making snide comments about how she should have been the lead — said that it was unnecessary to have the background change with the seasons as the play progresses, which is absolutely preposterous, because. . . ."
She goes on, and he nods and tries to keep up. But it bothers him, and it still bothers him hours later when she finally goes home. It's not that weird, he guesses, that he and Rachel no longer tell each other every little thing, 'cause they live in separate states and, hell, it's not like they need to tell each other every little thing.
But he liked how, in high school, there was nothing happening in her life or going through her head that he didn't know. He didn't always like it, sure, but that's 'cause he was a blind douchebag. And once they were dating, well, like, he sort of came to love how much she talked, and how far and intensely she pulled him into her life.
And it sucks that college in separate states makes it so he just can't have that anymore.
Second semester, he gets a job waiting tables.
It's not like he wants to, but he's long since run out of his summer cash, and his football scholarship doesn't pay for everything. Textbooks are really expensive, and the lady at the bookstore says he can't sell back his books 'cause he's spilled chocolate milkshake all over them. Plus, he wants to get Rachel a really ballin' birthday present.
He doesn't have to spend hours every day at football practice anymore, so he sucks it up and applies all around campus and Columbus, and he gets a job at this diner place with really great fries. (He totally gets to eat them for free, which kind of rocks.)
Between work, classes, Skype dates with Rachel, and hanging out with his friends, Finn doesn't have time to sleep, let alone think about how much he misses his girlfriend.
He still does, though, 'cause that's just the way it is.
He admits randomly one day that he had been drunk when he sent that first dirty text to her.
"I should have known!" she exclaims, and she sounds more amused than anything else, so he lets out a sigh of relief. "I was so shocked, Finn. I couldn't sleep. But I got up early, and I did all this research —"
"Wait, what? Research?"
"Yes, research. It's not like I was an expert in encouraging sexual excitement over a text message, obviously. So I looked a few things up on the internet."
He pauses in the middle of getting a pepsi from his tiny dorm fridge. Somehow the image of Rachel sitting in her apartment and using her pink lap top to find out how to send dirty text messages to him turns him on.
"Oh, don't worry," she goes on, "it's not as if I still resort to that. I think I've become rather good at sexting. Don't you agree?" He can almost hear her coy little smile over the phone. "Besides, I think we've moved beyond sex over text message."
No more sexting? No way. "I don't think we have," he says quickly.
She laughs. "Don't you want to try something new?"
"Like?" he asks, half wary, half eager.
"Like phone sex. Is Billy in the room?"
"No," he squeaks.
"Good. Lock the door. Now, I did some research on this too, so I know just how to get us started. Ask me what I'm wearing, Finn."
Kurt and Rachel become friends. Finn's not really sure how. They bonded over freshmen year alone in New York or something like that, and now they share an apartment with another sophomore at NYU. When they're both home for Spring Break, they bicker with each other like brother and sister, making sniping, snide comments but never seeming very bothered by anything the other says.
Kurt tells her he saw an eighty-five-year-old woman cross the street wearing that same blouse she's wearing now; Rachel asks if he can really hold his head up with that much hair gel in it. And then they both ooh and aah when the commercial break ends and Dancing with the Stars comes back on the TV.
Honestly, Finn's kind of jealous, and he doesn't know if it's of Rachel, who's now suddenly a kind of sibling to Kurt, something Finn's never really been able to become, or of Kurt, who gets to live with Rachel, to see her every day and be involved in every part of her life.
But he has to admit, it's kinda cool, too.
'Cause it makes Rachel happy, and probably Kurt, too, and Finn's not gonna mess with that.
At Eric's twentieth birthday part, Finn gets a little drunk (it's kind of hard not to, okay?).
That's not so bad, except that he then forgets that he has a Skype date with Rachel. And then he kind of loses track of his phone while playing beer pong, and when Rachel calls, a drunk Lydia picks up and refers to him as Finny. So, yeah, anyone who's met Rachel for, like, five minutes can imagine how that goes down.
She breaks up with him over facebook.
He doesn't know until the next morning, when his facebook news feed tells him that Rachel Berry is now single, and it takes him a little while to put the pieces together. He spends all day calling her and texting her and pacing his room, 'cause what the hell?
She finally picks up the phone to yell at him and tell him to stop calling her, and he jumps on his one chance. He interrupts her and tries to say everything he needs to say before she can hang up on him. "I went out to a party last night," he says, "and I got drunk, and I'm a total asshole for forgetting our Skype date, and you should totally be mad at me for that, but I was not fooling around, I swear, so whatever you think happened, didn't happen."
"Rach? Baby? Still there? Look, my friend, Lydia, you've met her, she was at the party, too, and she was really drunk, and she loves that my phone plays Journey whenever you call, so she picked it up. But it's not like we were out on a date or anything like that." She has to believe him.
"It's not so crazy a thought, you know," she says quietly. "To think that you'd leave me for someone cooler. I know you love how you're cool again at Ohio State."
"I love you more," he insists. Isn't that obvious? And didn't they get past all this shit in high school? It takes a while, but he talks her down eventually. She brings up the pink picture frame, claims he's ashamed of her, and even starts to cry a little, but he swears his love up and down for her, and it finally works.
She admits, a few days later, why she got as upset at she did.
"I just feel like . . . we're not as close as we were in high school. It's as if we live in separate worlds, as if we're star-crossed loves. I want to play a star-crossed lover on stage, Finn, I don't want to be one. And I know this feeling of emotional distance is part of a long distance relationship, but I still hate it, I still hate that I'm missing out on essential parts of my boyfriend's life."
He's kind of bowled over by the confession.
"Me, too, Rach," he says softly. Because he definitely knows exactly what she's talking about.
She sighs. "But I know you love me, and I promise not to break up with you on facebook again without talking to you first."
"Thanks," he says. "And I promise I'll try really hard not to forget any more Skype dates."
Billy asks if he wants to grab dinner. "Is that Billy?" Rachel asks. "Do you have to go?"
"No. I can talk as long as you can," he says, and he shakes his head at Billy, who nods and leaves.
"I can talk all night," Rachel declares.
Finn smiles a little, knowing he looks like a goof. But, hey, not even Billy's there to see it. "Prove it," he says.
He e-mails Professor Yates, and she invites him to stop by her office the next day.
"So I think I know what I want to major in," he tells her. "Communications."
He's pretty sure she's not gonna like that. He knows Rachel didn't; he could just barely hear the trace of disappointment in her voice on the phone last night. "Do you really have a passion for communications, Finn?" He didn't know what to say. He doesn't have a passion for it, no, but that doesn't really matter, does it?
It's a major for dumb jocks, he thinks. And Rachel thinks that, too, even if she would never say it. But he's good at those classes, and Billy's a communications major, too. (And I am a dumb jock.)
"I think that's a really great idea," Professor Yates says, smiling brightly. "It's always good to choose a useful major. There are so many job opportunities that follow a major like that."
He's surprised, but pleased. "Cool."
She helps him fill out the paperwork.
His phone goes off in class, which is really embarrassing.
It's his nine 'o clock night class, and it kind of sucks to have a night class, but it's so much better than a class at, like, nine in the morning. But, anyway, the muffled sound of Journey singing from his backpack interrupts the professor, and Finn wants to disappear.
He pretends it isn't his. A minute after it finally stops, though, it goes off again. Finn grabs it, turns it to vibrate, and shoots the professor an apologetic look. When he's pretty sure Dr. Moore isn't paying attention to Finn anymore, he risks a glance at the phone. He has two missed calls from Kurt. Seconds later, the phone starts buzzing yet again — and it's Kurt. He frowns. He barely ever talks to Kurt. What's going on?
He texts the other boy. "Dude, what's up? I'm in class." He tries really hard to pretend he's listening to Professor Moore drone on about some Greek myth and waits for a reply. It comes almost instantly, and Finn feels the world collapse around him a little as he reads the three words.
"Rachel got mugged."
He stands abruptly, disrupting the class once more. "I've got to go," he announces dumbly, and then he grabs his books, shoves them into his backpack, and leaves before anyone can say a word. He calls Kurt as soon as he's out, and Kurt starts talking the moment he answers the phone. "She's okay," he says hurriedly. "She wasn't hurt. She's still talking with the police, though."
"What happened?" Finn demands.
"She was coming back from dinner with Anna — they'd gone out to the new Indian place by that shop that sells custom balloons — and some guy pulled a gun on them."
"Let me talk to her," he demands. "Are you there with her? Did they get the jackass?" He can't fire off the questions fast enough. He wants to get on a plane to New York right now.
"She's with the police, Finn. I'm sure she'll call you as soon as she's finished talking with them. But she's alright, okay? I promise. And I'm here with her." He's trying to comfort Finn.
But all Finn wants to do is scream that's not good enough! Kurt can't protect Rachel, and even if he could, it's not his job. It's Finn's job. He's supposed to be there to beat the shit out of anybody who pulls a gun on her. Oh, God. Somebody pulled a gun on Rachel.
And Finn was half way across the country, sitting in class.
He's never felt worse.
He won't let Kurt hang up. He pelts him with questions, desperate to know everything, desperate to make sense of it all. Kurt can't give many answers, but that doesn't deter Finn.
Kurt's suddenly cut off, and Finn starts to freak, but then Rachel's voice washes over him. He can hear how shaken she is, and he nearly breaks his phone he's holding it so tight when she starts to describe everything, to explain how the man wouldn't let them look at him, and how he made her and Anna lie face down on the pavement when he left. She starts to cry, and she says he took her phone and her wallet and the bracelet Finn bought her for her birthday and —
"I'll buy you another one," he says quickly, "it's okay, baby. It's okay."
He stays on the phone with her until she's in bed and has fallen asleep. He doesn't go to sleep, though. He can't. He wants to buy a plane ticket. He wants to go to New York and crush Rachel to him and make sure she knows that he's never gonna let something like that happen to her again.
But he can't do that.
He can't do anything. And tomorrow another jackass could pull a gun on her, could completely terrify her and leave her shaken, crying, and lying on the pavement of some back street, and Finn wouldn't be able to do a single thing.
He's felt all year as if he's missing out on her life, as if they're chugging along on separate train tracks, and this only proves that they are. He's her boyfriend. He should have been there. None of this would have happened if he had been there.
And then he starts to think about if something worse had happened.
What if the guy had tried to hurt her? To rape her? What if he'd killed her?
Over the phone, he can hear Rachel breathing slowly and softly in sleep, and he listens to the sound, refusing to hang up, 'cause maybe it will calm him down. But it doesn't. He almost lost her. And he can't lose her. He can't.
She's not just his high school sweetheart, or his college girlfriend, or . . . she's Rachel. She's a voice that doesn't need a microphone, she's a heart that's way too big for her tiny body, she's exuberance and gold stars and cookies that spell things out when she doesn't know how to say them. And she's become such a big part of his life, such a big part of him, that he doesn't know how to be Finn without Rachel.
There isn't a Finn anymore.
There's just Finn and Rachel.
"Finn?" she whispers suddenly, her voice sleepy.
"I'm still here," he says. "I'm not going anywhere."
The next morning, she's afraid to leave her apartment.
In a small voice, she asks him to sing something to her, because that always makes her feel better, reminds her that she's loved, gives her courage. He sits up a little straighter in his seat. If his singing really can do all that, then he'll sing until he's hoarse.
He's in the dining hall for breakfast, and when he breaks out in song, everybody looks at him, but he can't be bothered to care. He sings All My Loving by the Beatles, and maybe that's cheesy, but he knows the lyrics and they totally fit. She's got all his loving forever.
People hoot and clap afterward, but what matters is the soft, whispered thank you she gives him.
He gets it now. He gets that missing her, that being too busy to talk or forgetting a Skype date 'cause he's drunk, that's part of college. And he does like college. There's tons of cool stuff about it. But college'll end, and then he and Rachel'll make up for lost time, and they'll never have to be apart again.
Maybe he already knew that, but now he really knows it. Now he realises he knows it.
He and Rachel are gonna go the distance.
(That's a play on words. Rachel told him.)
Summer doesn't take him by surprise.
He's ready for it. He's ready for a break from stupid classes and stupid tests; he's ready for another hot, lazy summer with Rachel and the rest of Glee club. When Burt's car finally pulls into his driveway and Finn is home, he finds Rachel waiting on his front steps, having returned to Lima two days before.
He picks her up and hugs her, burying his face in her hair.
She smells like strawberries and sweetness and Rachel, and he can't get enough of it.
"College rocks, Rach," he tells her, "but you totally rock more."
"I love you, too, Finn."