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oh, you say you love me (but you don't know)

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All in all, he didn’t think he’d ever really forgive her for what she pulled on him with Puck, but then... she showed up in his room one day, crying her eyes out, and said, “I think my parents are going to throw me out again.”

“What?  … are you pregnant again?” he asked, dropping his XBox controller and gaping at her.  “Quinn, how could you even let that happen?  I mean, I don’t know anything about anything but Ms. Holiday showed us how to use condoms and--”

“I’m not pregnant,” she snapped at him, and then crumpled to the floor at the bottom of the stairs.  “I’m... it’s worse than that, because this isn’t going to go away.”

He almost asked her if she killed someone, because hell, she was capable of it, but then she looked up at him with shiny eyes and said, “Finn, I can’t be like this, and I can’t feel this way about …”

“About what?” he asked, before shifting to his knees and crawling over to her, because even though they weren’t exactly dating or anything--they were friends.  They were trying to be friends, at least.  And friends hugged and were there for each other when things sucked.

She took in a deep breath and then crossed herself and finally just burst into tears all over again.

“I think I’m in love with Rachel.”

*

The Puck thing kind of paled in comparison, somehow, and also made a lot more sense now.

He never brought it up again.

*

The thing was, this couldn’t actually be happening to her, because he’d met her parents like twice in his life and both times it was actually in circumstances where they demonstrated just how hard they sucked.  Once, it was after church, when he’d just been there to pick her up to go out on a picnic in sophomore year--before she’d started showing, and when he’d just been trying to lift her spirit or whatever--and her dad had been talking about what a great sermon the pastor had delivered, and how Lima would be a better place if those “Berry queers” would just move to a city where they could drown in sin.

Quinn hadn’t said anything the rest of the day, and that, too, made a lot more sense now.

The other time he’d seen her parents was obviously when he sang her that stupid song and got her thrown out of her house.

Maybe she’d lied about the baby, but she’d paid for that in spades by now, and also: she was gay.  Maybe.  She said maybe, but she looked so fucking upset that he couldn’t help but hear a definitely.

“Shit,” he said, and reached for her hand and held it as tightly as he could.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know who else to tell,” she said, sniffing hard and then wiping at her eyes with the sleeve on her jacket; the denim rubbed along her skin painfully.  “Santana would … use it against me somehow, and there.... there just isn’t really anyone else.”

“And you’re sure?” he asked, because... Quinn hated Rachel, which was sort of why dating either one of them had always been a complete pain in the ass.

She nodded weakly after a moment.  “It’s been months.  And every time I look at her I just wonder what it would be like to kiss her, and...”

“Wow.”

He moved to sit next to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders and just let her cry for a little bit longer, because there wasn’t much else he could do.  He wasn’t the smart one, between them, and if anyone was going to figure out a way to cope with this, it would be Quinn.

*

She did come up with a solution.  Not quickly, actually, because all of Junior Year passed with her just avoiding Rachel and dating this new guy named Sam, which--he didn’t really want to think too hard about how that could work, but then in March she dumped Sam (and told him, late at night while watching a horror movie on his bed, that she just hadn’t been able to take the guilt anymore; Sam was in love with her, and the only reason she tolerated him is because he kissed like a girl--which she knew about because of cheerleading camp--and she’d thankfully stopped talking at that point because honestly, there was only so much of this lesbian stuff a guy could listen to without getting hard) and she’d gone into the summer single.

He hadn’t seen her for three months, and they’d at best exchanged like two or three text messages, usually just to say that they were still alive; he’d spent the summer sort of flirting with Rachel a little, but it was hard to really mean that when he knew that Quinn would like, in a different lifetime, basically set herself on fire to be near Rachel in any real way, so... he kept her at a distance, and ended up making out with Brittany at a party and then hiding from Santana for two weeks.

It was a pretty average summer, full of parties and part-time jobs and hanging out in Puck’s basement with the guys, and then Quinn showed up on his doorstep at the very end of it with a light tan and a very determined look on her face, and said seven words that he absolutely never thought she’d say to him.

“How do you feel about marrying me?”

*

“You’re gay.

“The only two people who know that I’m not straight are you and me.”

“Okay, but I plan on having sex with whoever I marry, and--”

“Finn, I don’t think you understand how I was raised if you actually think that I haven’t already resigned myself to the idea of having to sleep with men, and it’s fine, okay?”

“Wow, that’s really appetizing, I mean, seriously, why don’t you just take off your dress right now--”

“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you.  So.  If you marry me, I’ll sleep with you.”

“This is almost exactly like actually dating you; do you know that?”

That finally got her to stop being so fucking casual about the whole thing, and the slight hint of panic in her eyes made him stop rolling his eyes at her.  “Finn--my mother is starting to figure it out, and we know what she’ll do when push comes to shove.  Do you really think I want this hanging over my head for the rest of the year?  Or when they’re putting me through some Christian college education where I’ll end up engaged to some guy I don’t even like?”

He sighed.  “We’re like, seventeen.  I’m not in love with you, … and I mean, I don’t mean that in a bad way.  You’re like, my favorite girl, you know?  But you’re also just not into me, and I just don’t...”

“You could sleep with other people,” she finally said, in a small voice.  “Just … I’ll be a good wife.  I’ve been trained to be a good wife my entire life, and we’d have a good marriage.  You know we would.  I’d take care of you, and you’d make me laugh, and it would be just like us hanging out and watching A Nightmare on Elm Street together, except there’d be two gold rings on our fingers and...”

“Okay, I’m not wearing gold; what am I, a pimp?” he said, with a wince.

Her face slowly shifted, until she finally looked at him with absolutely no expression at all and said, “So... you’ll consider it?”

“What?  No.  That’s like, the opposite of what I’ve been saying,” he said, and watched as she sighed.

“You’re right.  This is crazy.  I can’t ask you to do this, this is--”

“Hey,” he said, and covered her hand with his and squeezed.  “Don’t like, freak out.  I know you’re going through a lot of stuff, pretty much always, and I’m not kidding when I say that you’re my favorite, okay?  I’m here for you.  I just.... marriage, Quinn?  I can’t even make an omelet.”

She gave him the saddest smile he’d ever seen on her face, and then said, “Yeah, you can’t.  But I could teach you, or just do it for you.”

He pulled her into a hug after that, and just kissed her on the top of her head, because--she was losing it, a little, and he obviously wasn’t going to marry her but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take care of her all the same.

*

The thing was, being proposed to by your gay ex-girlfriend was sort of hard to forget about.

It’s not that they talked about it again; he just sort of … pretended it hadn’t happened, and that was her specialism in reality, so they went about their senior year as two people would, and she helped him apply to OSU and he watched as she applied to a whole bunch of schools, mostly Christian, and her face got more tight and drawn with every passing day.

Somewhere around December, Rachel started seeing this guy that Kurt had introduced her to--some guy from that school that Blaine attended, he could never remember what it was called--and he actually had to follow Quinn blindly into the girl’s bathroom to stop her from just losing it altogether.

“I don’t even know why I care,” she said, muffled into his chest.  “It’s not like I ever would’ve stood a chance anyway.  She’s not into girls.  She doesn’t know how I feel, and she hates me and I have to act like I hate her or I’d just throw her against a locker and--”

“Shhh,” he said, and then closed his eyes and wondered if he could think of anything at all to make this better.

“Finn, I just don’t know what to do anymore; I can’t stop feeling like my parents are figuring it out because they keep looking at me, and the other day I wanted to get a notepad from my nightstand and everything in there had been moved around and--”  She pulled away and shook her head.  “I try so hard not to let it show.  I mean, do I look... that way to you?  Is there anything...”

He shook his head.  “No.  If you hadn’t told me... and I mean, Puck’s a pretty good indication of these things; he told me the other day that he’d still, y’know.... if you weren’t such a .. um.”

She smiled for a split second and then sighed.  “I probably should.  Just....”

“Okay, now I know we need to get you to a doctor or whatever, because--you can’t seriously be thinking about hooking up with Puck again.  What the fuck, Quinn?”

She lowered her eyes and wiped at her face and then took a deep breath.  “Can you think of any clever alternatives?”

“Yeah, like, any other guy at school--”

“They’re all going to figure out that I’m not into them, Finn.  Everyone did,except you, and that’s only because girls couldn’t even look at you without...”   

He flushed when her eyes dropped to his crotch, and then said, “Don’t be a bitch”, a little stiffly.

“I … sorry,” she said, and then ran a hand through her hair before walking over to the mirrors; some freshmen girls walked into the bathroom, and Quinn glared at them so hard that they immediately scrambled out again.   She then sighed, and ran a paper towel under her eyes, and smiled faintly.  “Well.  That should give Jacob Ben-Israel something to talk about.  Finn Hudson and Quinn Fabray in the girls’ bathroom together.”

It was like a lightbulb went off over his head.  “Um.  … that’s it.”

“What?”

“I’ll date you,” he said.  

She stared at him in the mirror, unmoving.  “I thought...”

“I don’t want to marry you, but like--of course we can date.  I mean, you’ve always wanted to be prom queen, right?  So I could help you with your campaign, and you can come watch my basketball games or whatever.  It’s really just... not a big deal.”

“We’d have to sell it,” she said, after a moment.

He rolled his eyes.  “I’m not the one who isn’t like, attracted to you.  You’re beautiful.  And hot.  Like, both.  You always have been.”

She actually blushed, just for a beat, and then said, “Insofar as I’ve ever been attracted to a guy.... you’ve been the benchmark, Finn.  So don’t sell yourself short.”

There were worse things to be than a gay girl’s benchmark for how much other guys sucked.

“So... um.  Will you like, be my girlfriend?” he asked, actually stumbling over the words.

She laughed briefly and said, “You were absolutely no better at this two years ago, you know.”

“Well, I actually know you now, so I’m like twice as scared,” he said, before smiling at her gently.

Honestly: it wouldn’t be the worst thing.  It’s not like he was seeing anyone else, and if he was honest, there was something very satisfying about how awesome they looked together.  She did look great on his arm, always had, and after another second of cleaning her face, slotted back into his side like she belonged there.

Maybe she did, even if she was gay.

He could learn to live with that.

*

He didn’t really understand what this had to do with selling their relationship, but fuck if he could form enough words to actually ask her.

All she’d said was, “That whole above the bra, below the shirt thing--I don’t really see the point of it anymore, do you?”

And yeah, maybe they were at a party and maybe someone could walk in on them at any moment, but nobody was actually walking in on them and yet he still had a hand on her boob--like, naked boob, this was more than Rachel had ever let him do, even, and he’d been too afraid of Santana to actually touch anything--and her hand was wrapped around his cock.

“Uhhh,” he said, staring at her with--well, was he panicking?  He was pretty sure he was.

“Consider this... a test,” she said, before leaning down and kissing him again, and like, what the fuck was his life?  If she was actually a lesbian, shouldn’t all of this be grossing her out like crazy?  But her nipple was getting hard, and--

“Wait,” he said, covering her hand for a second and squinting at her.  “Are you thinking about Rachel right now?”

She gave him the driest look he’d ever seen on her face.  “No, but apparently you are.”

“What?  Quinn, your hand’s on my dick.  I’m not thinking about anything,” he said, before blushing and apologizing.  “Sorry, that was really crude.”

She smiled at him in the weirdest way.  “So you like it.”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Good,” she said, and leaned down and kissed him again.

He came all over her hand a good five minutes later, and then watched limply from the bed as she dug around Puck’s closet for a towel and wiped her hand off with it, before settling back on the bed with him and curling up at his side.

“I... what....” he started saying, and then just rubbed at his face.  “I’m very confused.”

“I like Rachel,” she said, after a long silence, and then pressed a kiss to his cheek.  “But I also like finding ways to reduce boys to … well.”

A hand gestured at his body, and he twisted his neck just enough to be able to look at her.

“So... if we were to get … keep doing this.  Later, I mean.  After... we graduate...”

Honestly, he didn’t think she’d ever looked happier or more relieved in her life.

“I’d have to be in control of... what and when, but--yes.”

He blinked at her a few times.  “Have you applied to OSU?”

She shook her head.  “Not on the list of approved colleges.”

“How would it get there?” he asked, and watched as she propped up on one elbow and then started toying with his fingers, which was kind of nice.  In fact, everything about this was kind of nice, and...

Out of all the times he’d dated her, this was probably the best one, and he wasn’t at all just saying that because she’d surprise jerked him off just now.

“Could it.... become approved?” he asked, before linking their hands together and looking at how they fit.  Rachel’s hand was like, a baby hand, compared to his.  Quinn’s hand, on the other hand...

“As much as my parents like to control ever facet of my life, there is a circumstance in which they’d cede that control to someone else,” she said, not looking away from him.

This probably wasn’t a decision he should be making right after an orgasm, but whatever; it’s not like he’d been able to stop thinking about it much at all.  He didn’t even know how to do laundry; Quinn like, knew how to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner by herself.  And then... she didn’t know a thing about cars, and her Miata was always breaking down places, and that was one of like three things he did know about.

That, and he could make her laugh. He was basically the only person who could make her laugh.

“When do you turn eighteen?” he asked, and she laughed and said, “I don’t need to be eighteen; you just need to ask for my hand.  Welcome to the world of organized religion.”

*

Nobody in Glee club believed them at first; it was like that day when Santana had randomly shown up with Dave Karofksy all over again.

Except--he meant it, when he looked down at her and smiled and said, “We’re really happy.”

The way she smiled back at him, he was pretty sure she meant it too.

*

It was a June wedding.

Everyone they knew showed up; Quinn’s parents looked the part of proud Christians who like, were letting their daughter live a dignified life, and his own mother had finally stopped crying long enough to at least acknowledge that Quinn would take care of him well.

Puck hadn’t spoken to him in three months, but whatever. Quinn had been his first anyway.  Puck could just fucking learn to live with it.  

And then there was that whole thing where neither of them had her at all, but even so, she was his now, in a way that he couldn’t really explain, and so when Rachel and Trevor, that douche from Dalton or whatever, came over to wish them well, his arm around Quinn’s waist tightened automatically.

She looked very amused, when they left, and said, “We’re going to have to do something about your jealousy.”

“It’s not jealousy.  She just... she hurts you, and she doesn’t even know it,” Finn finally said, and then looked down at his feet.  “And we should probably dance again, but you’re not going to be able to walk tomorrow if we do, so--”

“Whatever; just lift me up, then,” she said, leaning into his side.

It was kind of a dream wedding, in the sense that he mostly still felt like he was hallucinating the entire thing, but then they were off to the airport together, for a trip to Chicago that the entire Glee club had paid for (because they liked him and probably felt sorry for him, a little, which was incredibly stupid) and they were both wearing platinum rings that Quinn had picked out for them and had made her father pay for, and when she pushed her driving license over the counter towards the flight attendant, she turned and smiled at him.

“Probably the last time I’m ever checking in anywhere as a Fabray.”

And yeah, maybe this was all just a dream, but it was one in which he’d completely saved her ass, and she was going to make him happy for the next forever.

“I like the idea of you being Mrs. Hudson,” he said, and when her lips quirked again, he stepped in closer and pulled her to him again.

The flight attendant gave them a fond smile.  “Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” Quinn said, easily, pocketing her license and tangling their fingers together until their rings clanged against each other.

He just accepted their tickets, and then chased her off to the gate because they were on the verge of missing their flight; she laughed the entire way.

*

So, the honeymoon was mostly about... trying to find things to do that they both liked, because she wanted to stop by some museums and he really couldn’t bring himself to care, but then he wanted to go and see the Cubs play and she flinched at the thought of going to a baseball game.

They both seemed to realize that this was just par for the course of learning to travel places together, and by the third day they’d figured out that they both really enjoyed just strolling down the waterfront and looking at people, and he didn’t mind so much when she wanted to go shopping for both of them, either.

Plus, there was one part of the honeymoon that really wasn’t proving to be a problem, even though on the first night he’d sat on the bed, fully clothed and as far away from her as he could, and said, “We really don’t have to--”

She’d shoved him onto his back, unbuckled his pants, tugged a condom out of his front pocket with a smart, “Really?  We don’t have to?”

“Dude, I married you,” he’d said, and then hung on those words for a moment before chuckling.  “If you don’t think I’m always going to have a condom ready, like, you must think I suck a lot more than I actually do.”

She’d forced him to sit up and had pulled his shirt over his head, and had looked at him for a moment with a sort of critical assessment that had made him want to curl up and hide from her, before she’d softened her expression into a smile and said, “I really do love you, you know.”

The thing was; he did know, then and now, and so when she’d pulled his jeans off and then let him unzip her dress, it had felt more or less like how things were supposed to be.

“Say stop at any time,” he’d made her promise, before she’d straddled his waist and glanced down between them, and she’d sort of rolled her eyes and said, “Finn--you’re my husband.”

He’d come unexpectedly after about ten minutes of her riding him, because she’d been doing this fucking crazy thing with like... inside muscles he still didn’t really want to think about, and had then spent a good half an hour trying to figure out just what he could do to get her off.

It didn’t really matter to him all that much that she’d closed her eyes and like, clearly had been thinking about someone not him, when it finally happened.

She’d opened them again eventually, and had looked like she wanted to apologize for how long it took or whatever, and that was just bullshit; so he’d kissed her and said, “I really do love you too, you know.”

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been,” she whispered into his ear, every night, right before they fell asleep, and even though nobody would ever understand this, and he probably didn’t even really himself, he was sure he’d done the right thing.

*

They were a golden couple at OSU; he still played football, as a second stringer, but after six months, Quinn was basically second in command of the cheerleading squad, and they were greeted at parties like absolute royalty.

It was awesome.  He wasn’t going to pretend he was above it, and it was more awesome because when they weren’t at parties together, they were cuddling together in their one-bedroom apartment downtown, where he was putting together different bits and pieces of IKEA furniture and she was figuring out what, out of her endless arsenal of recipes, he liked the best.

“You can cook what you like, and I mean, I should probably learn how to cook myself,” he finally told her, sometime in late October, when the balance of who was doing what was starting to get a little crazy.  “I mean, I know your mom’s like, your dad’s maid, but c’mon. Things don’t have to be like that between us.”

She burst into tears.

“... or you can keep doing all the household stuff, I mean,.... Quinn, what the fuck?” he asked.

“I... I kissed someone,” she said, and cried even harder.

They hadn’t talked about this, not beyond that first conversation when she’d made it pretty clear to him that he could fuck whoever he liked if he wanted to, but... there wasn’t any reason for him to step out, so far, and so this was still kind of a surprise.

“Uh, … you mean a girl, right?  Because--I get that, but I’m not okay with you kissing guys or whatever,” he finally said, trying not to sound as annoyed that she was springing this on him right when he was trying to say he could learn how to vacuum or whatever.

She nodded, a little pathetically, and he moved over to where she was cutting a pepper and took the knife from her hand, before kissing the back of her head.

“Was it nice?”

“No.  Yes.  … I don’t know,” she said, and then sighed deeply.  “It just sort of happened.  It was a girl on the soccer team, and … she got kind of pissy when she saw my wedding ring.”

He laughed without meaning to.  “Wear it around your neck.”

“Finn--I don’t want to hide it.”

He didn’t really know what to say to that.  “Baby... I know we’re like, really fond of each other and whatever, but you do realize this isn’t a real marriage...”

“Don’t say that,” she snapped at him, before flipping the board and throwing it at the wall across from them, where it created a massive dent and then cracked on the floor.

He wrapped an arm around her waist and took a deep breath, before saying, “You know, if you want me to do more around the house, you don’t need to start like, putting holes in the wall; I could always just start doing the dishes or whatever.”

She laughed and turned around and buried her face in his chest.  “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Well, you’re... you know, you’re with me, and then you want other people, but--”

“The thing is, I don’t. Not at the expense of this.  It’s just sex, Finn,” she said, and shuddered.  “Since when have I ever cared about sex?”

It was a fair point, except that... he just couldn’t really relate.  “Sex is great, when it’s with the right person.”

He could basically feel her roll her eyes.  “How would you even know?  This entire relationship is basically robbing you from ever having it with the right person.”

“Look, just because you...”  He started saying, and then closed his eyes.  “Maybe you are the right person for me.”

She pulled away and sighed.  “That is really messed up, and I say that as the girl who needed a husband just to be able to live with herself.”

“Why is it messed up?  Why do we have to feel the same way?” he asked, with a shrug.  “I mean, I’m not saying I’m madly in love with you because like, whatever.  All I know is that I’m happy with you, and I don’t want to marry anyone else, and.... okay, you’re kind of an insane control freak but the sex is great and …”

She chuckled and then shook her head before looking at him, with shiny insecure eyes.  “Just promise me that if there ever is someone else, you’ll tell me.  I don’t want to … keep you in this, if there’s something better out there for you.”

“Will you do the same?” he asked, and after a moment of chewing on her lip she nodded.

“Awesome.  Okay. I’m going to go buy some plaster now, and... how about we just go out for pizza tonight?”

“Pizza loads weight onto my thighs.”

He grinned before he could stop it.  “Good.  More for me to hold on to when you’re doing that cowgirl thing that....”

“Okay, just because I can do it doesn’t mean I can talk about it, Finn.  God.”  She tossed a towel in his general direction and muttered something about how he was a pervert, and it was weird, but all it made him want to do is ruffle her hair and kiss her.

It wasn’t like, crazy in love, or anything, but they just worked.  He would be damned if her making out with some chick she’d never talk to again made a difference to that.

*

It happened unexpectedly, sometime in their second year; he was taking this choir elective just because he kind of missed Glee, and there was a girl in the class who was loud, annoying, and really talented.

The really fucked up thing was, he didn’t actually know if he was interested in her because she was his type or because she was clearly Quinn’s type, even though she wasn’t Jewish and didn’t have Rachel’s dark eyes or anything like that.

He didn’t even really mean to flirt with her; offering to help her carry her stuff back to her dorm was just, y’know, what nice guys did, and then she noticed his ring and asked him if it was a fraternity thing.

Before he could stop himself, he said, “Yeah”, and then next thing he knew, she was sucking him off in the middle of her living room, until one of her roommates walked in and he scrambled to the bathroom, pulling up his pants and feeling like he was going to fucking wreck something or just cry like a little girl about what he was doing.

He was still in the bathroom when he called home, and Quinn answered all relaxed and casual, like she was just sitting around doing some homework and watching one of those stupid MTV reality shows about teenage girls getting knocked up or thrown parties or whatever.  She sounded so much like home that yeah, he did start crying.

An explanation came out in stages, and by the end of it she was just saying that it was okay, like that meant anything.

The really screwed up thing was that he didn’t even want to be with this girl, or like, see her ever again; he was probably going to drop the damn class, and might even try to sneak out the window to avoid seeing her again.  He didn’t want anything about her, because he had a good life and a great marriage and Quinn.

“I think I needed to do this just so I knew that I didn’t need to do this,” he finally said.

She laughed softly and said, “Finn--it’s okay.”

“No, it’s not.  I mean.  … I don’t even know where this is coming from, but she was like, sucking me off, and all I could think about was that you are going to be the mother of my children, some day, and like...”

Quinn’s surprised little gasp shut him up in an instant.

“Sorry, I know that’s like...”

“No... don’t. … are you...  do you actually want a family with me?” she asked, in a tiny voice he couldn’t read.

“... yeah,” he finally said, before adding, “I know I wasn’t ready, but I wanted one with you then, Quinn, and it’s like... things are so much better now than they ever were before, so …”

“Finn--just come home,” she finally said, and he had to break a lock on the bathroom window and then sneak around the apartment block until he could catch a bus home.

When he got there, Quinn was lounging in the doorway in a pair of jeans that he really liked on her--and it was great, actually, that he got input in these things now; she trusted his opinion, and wanted to look however he liked, and in kind he’d started growing out his hair a little more and had stopped shaving as regularly, because it made him look handsome according to her--with the most gentle little smile playing around her lips.

“She kind of sucked at it compared to... I mean, that wasn’t a joke, I just--” he said, before helplessly shoving his hands in his pockets.  “I’m never doing that again, Quinn.”

“I know.”

“And it doesn’t mean that you can’t, obviously,... I mean, that’s different.”

“Is it really?” she asked, before pulling him inside and tucking her head under his chin.

“That’s... something you can’t get at home.  This was... fuck, it was unnecessary and it made me feel like crap.”  He sighed and pressed a kiss to her head.  “It’s not cheating, when it’s you.  But it totally was today, and I don’t want to do that.  Not with you, not ever again.”

She said nothing for a moment and then pressed a kiss to his chest, through his shirt.  “How many kids do you want?”

“Two,” he said, and she looked at him with something that he could barely even recognize on her face; it was almost like desire, actually, and the only natural thing to do was to take her into the bedroom, where for the first time ever, she let him take control--and he knew enough now, knew enough to know that he had to be kissing her while he fucked her or she wouldn’t come, normally, except he thought he had the ticket this time, and leaned right up to her ear when he knew she was getting close and whispered, “You’re the best wife, and you’re going to be an amazing mother.”

She clenched around him with a small cry, and yeah, he felt fucking amazing, about all of it, really.

He dropped choir, but almost sent that chick flowers anyway, as sort of a ‘thanks for the bad BJ; it totally upgraded my marriage’.

*

He graduated with honors, because somewhere along the way Quinn stopped letting him think he’s dumb and incapable, and by the time they moved back to Lima, he was a qualified teacher and she was thankfully not a fucking real estate agent because he’d seen how miserable her original major was making her and had talked her into doing something she actually wanted to.

Or at least, he’d tried to, and he wasn’t really sure if she’d listened--because who the fuck wanted to be an accountant?--but she worked from home and was happy as fuck about that, and he got the best packed lunch to take with him every single day towards Lima Elementary.

If this was what it was like to be a Lima loser, well, he’d take it any fucking day.

Of course, with being back in Lima, there was that weird thing where they were starting to reconnect with people they hadn’t seen in years, and so Puck became a fixture at the house--and Quinn was actually over disliking him in a serious way now, so that was good--and Brittany and Santana stopped by from time to time as well.

The only people who never came back at all were Rachel, which was good, and Kurt, which was kind of sad, but Finn got why; and he didn’t mind having to go to Boston to see Kurt and Blaine with Quinn, because they were very cool about what they called the Shotgun Wedding That Wasn’t and, at some point, Kurt had actually pulled him aside and said, “I hope you know how lucky you are, being as happy as you are with who you’re with”.... which had made him worry about Blaine, but whatever, gay men were just kind of dramatic like that sometimes.

Everything was going fine--and yes, Judy and Russell sort of tolerated him now that he had a degree and was a stable provider, even though Quinn made most of the money.  Actually, it was probably the fact that he’d started going to church that had swayed them, even though in church, he and Quinn mostly played tic-tac-toe on each other’s hands because she couldn’t stand hearing the sermons about how she was going to hell and he just couldn’t be assed to actually listen to a one hour speech now that he wasn’t in college anymore.

Their best sex usually took place on Sundays, actually, because something about feeling guilty really turned Quinn on and whatever, he guessed in part that he was being rewarded for actually trudging along and keeping the peace between their respective families.

At the end of their first year back, Quinn decided to throw sort of a neighborhood Fourth of July party, and it was fucking amazing; she’d gotten all the neighborhood kids some safe firework to set off later in the day, and he and Puck were manning the grill together while she and Mercedes were sorting out salads and cold drinks, and everyone’s parents were on their best behavior--like, the Fabrays were almost sober, which never happened--and then, she put an ice-cold hand on his back and leaned up to his ear right when the display started going off, and whispered, “I’m pregnant” into his ear.

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been,” he whispered into her ear later that night, and she smiled at him and curled up into his side and said, “Me too.”

*

They named their son Frederick, after his dad, and Ricky was the most beautiful kid he’d ever seen; and he saw a lot of them, with their snot-nosed little faces and whiny shit about not wanting to color right now, but Ricky?  Ricky was an angel.

There was just absolutely no discussion possible on that point, as far as Finn was concerned, and even though Ricky’s existence was a little bit of a fucked up thing between him and Puck, Puck still pulled him out to celebrate when the baby was born and Quinn had basically passed out, cursing him into the next life or whatever.

Really, the whole labor thing: one of the most terrifying experiences of his life, but there was something very cool about knowing that Quinn trusted him to get her through it, because really: when had Quinn ever trusted anyone to do anything?

And then, Ricky.

“I envy you, man,” Puck said, when they were on beer number seven at the local grill house; Finn was still fiddling with the little birth tag he’d charmed off one of the nurses and wrapped around his wrist.

“You should,” he said, and laughed.  “If you’d told me like, seven years ago that this was how shit was going to turn out, I would’ve laughed at you.”

“She didn’t even like you when you first dated,” Puck noted, a little sourly.  “I mean, why else--”

“Dude,” Finn said, and glared at him.  “Don’t.”

“I’m over it, I’m just saying, it’s really ironic that like, she likes you so much now when back then she fucked your best friend to--”

“She didn’t do that because he hated me, she did that because she’s fucking gay, man,” Finn blurted out, and then stared at Puck in absolute horror.

Puck took another sip of beer and then shook his head.  “I’m sorry, what?”

“Nothing,” Finn muttered.

“No... really.  What?”

“It was an accident, obviously she’s not...”

“Dude, an accident is like, knocking over a beer; not calling your wife a lesbian when she’s just given birth to your kid,” Puck said, wrenching Finn’s beer away from him.  “So let me ask you again.  What the fuck?”

Finn looked around, and goddamn, Lima was a small town.  There were way too many people he knew here; Quinn’s clients, parents of kids he taught... family friends.  Fuck.  “Not in here,” he finally said, and slipped off the bar stool.

They ended up in the back of Puck’s truck, now semi-full of construction related shit, and he offered the best explanation he could, which was something like:

“She can’t handle that she’s gay, and I love her, man, she’s my best friend.  We make each other happy, and sometimes, she goes to Columbus and...”

“Jesus fucking Christ, that is fucked up,” Puck said, so quietly that Finn almost didn’t hear it.

“We’re happy.”

“Yes, I fucking know that, I have eyes,” Puck spat out, a little bitterly.  “I just--what the fuck am I supposed to say to this?”

“How about you just don’t say anything,” Finn finally mumbled, ready to hop out the back.

Puck reached for him with an arm.  “Dude--your wife is gay.  And now you have a kid with her.  Do you actually think this is never going to be a thing?”

“It’s been almost six years,” Finn said, pulling his arm away.  “If it was going to be a thing, it would’ve been one long before now.  And by the way, she does not want you knowing this, so keep your fucking mouth shut and so help me God, if you look at her funny I will break your fucking face in.”

Puck stared at him seriously for a while and then said, “You’re totally fucked.”

“Fuck you, Puck.”

“Does she know you’re in love with her, and this isn’t just some fucking arrangement to you anymore?”

He didn’t bother answering, and caught a cab back to the hospital, where he fell asleep and nursed a hangover in the baby ward.

It wasn’t anyone else’s business, and he was fucking right: her sexuality had never been a problem, and they lived in fucking Lima, Ohio.  Who the hell would she even meet there?

*

The day the letter arrived in the post, he was balancing Ricky in one arm and a bowl of oatmeal in the other, and Quinn was on the phone with the IRS about something or other, and it was just like every other day that they’d spent together in the last eleven years or so: basically perfect, on every level.

“Dad, put me down,” Ricky demanded, and he dangled him upside down until his son squealed and Quinn glared at him from across the room.

Whatever; someone had to keep things silly in their house, and he’d known when he married her that it wasn’t going to be Mrs. Hudson who played that role.

“Get the mail, will you?” he called out to Ricky, before lowering him to the ground and laughing when Ricky sort of glared at him--so much like his mom sometimes, it was crazy--before skidding off towards the hallway and returning with a stack of crap.

Coupons and bills both went to Quinn, unless they were for the cable, because that was his thing, and--they so rarely got personal mail from anyone (because everyone they knew and gave a shit about lived in the same square mile they did) that he actually thought the letter must’ve been put in the wrong slot.

But, no, the calligraphy was addressed to Finn Hudson … and then there was a second one to Quinn Fabray, which she hadn’t gone by in ages now, so that was even funnier.

He scooped up the last bit of his breakfast and then opened both letters, and put them side by side on the table.

William McKinley High School cordially invites you to...

Yeah, it was all pretty standard, but that wasn’t why he was still staring at it fifteen minutes later, when Quinn hung up with a muttered, “Asshole” at some government agent, and then pressed into his back, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.

“What’s that, babe?”

“Did you even realize it’s been ten years?” he asked, snapping out of it, but barely.  “Since we graduated?”

“Oh, wow; a reunion.  God, I’m really glad I’m not pregnant right now; I’d never live that down,” she said, kissing his cheek and reaching for her own card, and he braced himself for it.

There were things in his marriage that he deliberately ignored.

Like:

That his wife religiously read Playbill.

Or that sometimes, she listened to old Glee recordings when she ironed, and then shut them off when she realized he was home.

Or that, the one time he’d actually talked to her about what she did on those trips to Columbus, that she’d just stared into the distance and said, “It doesn’t matter, it’s all just fantasy, Finn; what we have is real.”

It was easy to look past all of those things, because they really didn’t affect his day to day life in the slightest, and he knew exactly what it was that he was threatened by and it was thankfully very fucking far away.

Except apparently, now it was coming home.

Broadway Star Rachel Berry - Performing “On My Own” as a special treat for all of her former classmates.

The card fluttered to the ground, Quinn stiffened, and then said, “I’m surprised she’s coming back at all”, sounding every single bit like she had when Rachel had first started dating that fucking Warbler or whatever and--

He didn’t need this.

“I’m going to go... do stuff,” he finally just said, because he couldn’t think of a single thing that he could say right now that wasn’t just “we’re not fucking going to this”, because...

Well, here was another thing that he just pretended wasn’t actually part of his marriage:

A year and a half ago, Rachel had given an exclusive interview on Ellen that had been on their DVR for exactly one and a half days in which she’d talked about what it was like to be a famous actress or singer or whatever and be openly bisexual, and whether or not she’d had any idea when she was younger.

He’d shut it off when Rachel had said, “Well, let’s just say I did always notice the prettiest girls in school a little more than any straight girl should have”, because two more seconds of that and he would’ve fucking broken his 45 inch plasma TV into a million pieces.

The clip had disappeared, and Quinn had brought him front row tickets to a Browns game, and had even come along with him to it, which was the part where he just had to believe she wasn’t going anywhere.

Apparently, her not going anywhere wasn’t going to be good enough anymore.

*

He told his mother.

Puck wouldn’t be of any use to him right now, and honestly, he just needed someone to make him a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk before he went to get Ricky from little league practice, and Quinn normally made him a fucking sandwich and a glass of milk when he was upset but he couldn’t even tell her why he was upset because it’s not like she’d done anything wrong.

“Mom,” he started saying, and she looked so concerned that he felt something in his chest actually pull apart with ache.  “I need to tell you something.  And it’s not good, and you won’t like it, but you need to promise me that you won’t take it out on Quinn, okay?”

“What has she done--” his mother started saying, and he snapped “Promise me” at her so abruptly that she actually stopped talking.

It took him another deep breath, and at least three sips of milk, before he could say the words.  “She’s gay.  I knew when I married her, and I love her anyway.  But she’s gay, and she’s been in love with Rachel--”

“Rachel... you ex-girlfriend Rachel?” his mother interjected, sounding like she was swallowing a bug, and he nodded after a moment, before tearing off some cheese.

“She’s been in love with her basically her entire life.  And... um.  Rachel’s coming to town, now, for this thing, and she’s not straight anymore, and...”

“Finn, honey,” his mother said, in a very pinched tone of voice.  “You’re going to have to take me through this a little slower.”

He nodded, and sighed, and explained the best he could, but how could he explain with words that he loved Quinn even though he knew he shouldn’t, not the way he did, and that he’d agreed that she could do this and he wasn’t planning on stopping her, but he just really wanted to hear from someone else that she’d never actually leave him.

The thing was, the only thing that would keep Quinn with him, if Rachel... well.  Still thought she was pretty--and how could she not, God, Quinn was more beautiful with every passing year--and …

The only thing that could keep Quinn with him was fear.

And he knew she wasn’t afraid anymore. Almost ten years of being married to him had made her really confident and happy, and that was the biggest fucking joke of all.

“Oh, baby,” his mother finally just said, and he winced, because that’s what Quinn called him, and suddenly it just all felt like they’d been pretending all along. Like none of it was ever real, or could ever be real.

Except for Ricky.

And God, what would they even do about Ricky?

He cried, some more, and let his mom hold him and tell him that everything would be okay somehow, which was obviously a fucking lie, and then jolted when his phone rang and Quinn’s name flashed on the display.

He didn’t answer, for the first time in ten years.

He wasn’t entirely sure he could pin that one on Rachel, either.

*

His wife wasn’t stupid, and with every passing day of him pulling away more as the reunion approached, she obviously figured it out.

“So what?  Now you’re pre-emptively punishing me because you think I’m going to throw away ten years of being with you because Rachel is in town for two days?” she snapped at him.

He was washing the cars outside; Ricky was out on his bicycle with some friends, but he could still remember the days when Quinn would’ve rather died than have a confrontation in public and he wondered, stupidly, if she’d changed him even half as much as he’d changed her.

“I’m not punishing you,” he said, without looking at her; until she wrenched the sponge from his hand and threw it at his chest.

“Then what are you--”

“I’m fucking terrified, okay?” he admitted, and leaned heavily on the hood of the car; her hand on his back wasn’t doing a damn thing to make him feel better.  “I’m terrified because it’s her, and it’s always been her for you, which is the only reason you’re with me at all.  Because I .. protected you, when all she did was hurt you, and now she’s bisexual and--”

“Finn, please just give me a chance to not be the horrible person you apparently think I am,” she said, digging her nails into his back just a little.

“I don’t think that you’re horrible,” he said, and then felt the sting of even more tears in his eyes, which was just fucking fantastic.  “I just think that you deserve a chance to be as happy as I am, with you.  It just never really hit me until now that you will only have that chance if you’re not with me.”

Quinn’s hand fell away, and he could see from the periphery of his vision that she was sinking down on the ground next to the car, and for one second, he knew he could make this all go away; just turn the hose on her right now, and really piss her off, and then find jobs for them in a different city or--

What the fuck was he even thinking?

“How long have you been thinking about this?” she finally asked, sounding like it hurt her to put the question into words.

“Every single fucking day for the last ten years,” he admitted.  “Are you still in love with her?”

Quinn sighed and rubbed at her face.  “How could I be.  I haven’t even seen her anywhere other than in a magazine for exactly as long as I’ve been with you.”

“But you’re still attracted to her,” he said, because that was the end truth, wasn’t it.  

She reached for his jeans, and pulled on them until he sat down next to her, and then she looked at him with so much anguish that he flinched.

“It’s just an attraction.  It’s not something that’s worth giving up all of this for.”

“Okay,” he said, and let her shift in closer, and wrapped an arm around her, because that was more than he was hoping to hear.

*

The entire town was going apeshit over this Rachel visit.

It was like some sort of cruel joke, where they couldn’t even go grocery shopping together without half the neighborhood wanting to talk about what a treat it would be to hear her sing, and how they heard that she was taking a break from Broadway and spending some time with her family, and on and on it went.

He hadn’t been this tempted to start kicking chairs around in years, and the only thing that helped at all was that it was clearly pissing off Quinn in the same way.

“I never did get how you could like, hate her and love her in the same way,” he said, later that night, when they were taking a bath together, and she was flicking around some suds with her toes.

“She was unbearably smug, arrogant, annoying and self-involved,” Quinn said, with a sigh.  “And... driven, talented, generous, and kind.”

He almost told her that that all sounded very familiar, but he didn’t think she’d appreciate the joke.

“We could always just not go,” he finally said, and she tilted her head back to look at him.

“Hudsons aren’t cowards, Finn.”

He smiled, and kissed her on the tip of her nose.  “We kind of are, actually.”

She sighed and resettled on his chest, and he ran a hand through her hair just because he could.

“I’m proud of my family. I want to show you off--you and Ricky.  I want to tell everyone who thought we were insane to get married as young as we did that they were crazy, and …”

“Okay,” he said, and kissed her.  “Okay.”

It sort of was, if those were her reasons.  And he just had to believe that they were.  

She hadn’t lied to him about anything in eleven years.  That counted for a lot.

*

He looked--the best he’d looked in years.

Maybe his reasons for starting to work out a little harder were beyond ridiculous--like, really, his wife couldn’t give a shit if he had a six pack, and would only grow more fond of him if he actually grew boobs--but he didn’t even care.  It wasn’t for Quinn, if he was honest.  It was all for Rachel, who had to understand that they were happy together and that he was a serious contender.

Which--whatever.  He didn’t even know if she was competing, at all, and he’d calmed down enough to realize that if anyone was going to be making a pass at anyone, it wouldn’t be Quinn.

Still; his shirt fit beautifully, and when Quinn wrapped a tie around his neck and tugged it on, her fond smile sort of made him fall for her all over again.  What a stupid, stupid fucking thing to have happen.

“Gorgeous,” she told him, with a pat to his cheek, and then went back to fixing her own hair in the mirror, and... he couldn’t help it.

He sat there, and watched her do it, because he’d started counting down in his head unwillingly, to the days when maybe, she just wouldn’t be doing this in front of him at all anymore.

He loved watching her get ready; she did it with such focus and attention that it was like watching an artist at work, and when she clipped in her earrings, all he really wanted to do was sit her on her dresser and fuck her until they went to this reunion looking like two teenagers who just couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

Of course, she wouldn’t have it; not before a public function, and whatever.

He just wanted to get it over with, at this point.

Maybe he’d luck out, and they wouldn’t even talk to each other all night.

*

He was going to fucking kill Rachel.

Her eyes widened spectacularly when she spotted them both, and then she was hurrying over in her fucking ginormous heels and like, eight thousand dollar dress or whatever, before hugging him tightly and saying, “Oh, Finn--you look so handsome.  How are you?  How--”

And then he watched every single one of his worst nightmares come true, because Rachel turned all of that adoration to his wife, who was standing still as a fucking statue and letting it happen.

“God, how it is even possible that you’ve only gotten prettier with age?” Rachel sort of exhaled, before reaching out with a hand and saying, “Can--is it okay if I hug you?”

Puck thankfully showed up with some punch and said, “She’s just being herself, stop looking like you are going to fucking punch her in the face because dude, she’s a girl, you can’t.”

Finn felt his jaw tighten, and tuned out the conversation to his right, just because he had to--but he didn’t miss the way that Quinn’s hand was gripping his arm tight enough for it to bruise, and he’d be damned if he’d ever inspired that kind of reaction in her at all.

“And where’s your son?” Rachel was asking, and Finn took it as an excuse to just get the fuck out of there.

“With my mom.  I’ll go get him, actually, they’re probably outside.”

He felt Quinn’s fingers slip away slowly, and then headed straight for the outside, where he threw up; and yeah, only part of that was the six flutes of champagne he’d drunk while watching Rachel sing. The rest of it was just.... everything.

Ricky caught him wiping his mouth and said, “Gross, dad”, his mouth twisting down exactly the way Quinn’s always had when he’d done something she didn’t approve of, and his heart hurt.  How could he ever deal with any of this?  Having to see this kid, who was her spitting image but his height, grow up to be an awesome person every single day--without her at his side?

It just wasn’t acceptable.  They were a fucking family, and he had to do something before they came up with a plan of their own.

*

In the end, cornering Rachel outside of the bathroom was easy enough.

“Wow, Finn; your family is wonderful,” she said.

“Do you want to fuck my wife?” he asked.

To her credit, she didn’t slap him or make a hilarious face, but just stared at him and said, “That’s a seriously impudent question to ask someone you haven’t seen in ten years.”

“I don’t know what impudent means, and I don’t care,” he said, pulling on his tie, because it was choking the life out of him.  Somewhere behind them, Quinn was pointing out their former classmates to Ricky, probably with amusing stories, and all he wanted to do is go over there and pretend Rachel wasn’t even on this planet.

“I’m not in the habit of wrecking marriages,” Rachel finally said, a hint of chill in her voice.

“But you want her,” he asked, emphatically, and after a moment her expression opened up and she said, “Finn--is she offering, or are you?”

He took a deep breath and said, “One night.  You don’t call her afterwards.  You don’t talk to her the next day. But she’s wanted this for the past ten years, and I swear to God, if she starts wondering about you again it is going to destroy my marriage, and--”

Rachel’s lips squeezed together, and then she carefully said, “You know, this isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve been invited into a threesome, but...”

He laughed wryly and rubbed at his face, without the six o’clock shadow that Quinn loved so much, because the was supposed to be about class.

“I’m not inviting you into a threesome, Rachel.  I don’t want to fuck you.”

Rachel’s eyes flashed with something, and then this awful look of regret passed over her face.  “Oh, my God.  You were her way out.”

“Shut up,” he gritted out, because what the fuck did she know?

To her credit, she did, and then finally just reached for his arm and said, “I don’t wreck marriages.”

“You’d be saving one,” he said, trying to stop his voice from cracking.

“I’d need to hear that from her,” Rachel finally just said, with one final squeeze of her hand, and then called out Kurt’s name before slipping around him.

His fist hit the plaster a moment later, and he left without saying goodbye to anyone, just waiting in the car for Quinn and Ricky to come and find him.

Even when she asked him what the hell happened, he had no idea what the fuck to say to her until they were alone in their bedroom.

“She wants you,” he said, before pushing her back on the bed and reaching down for her shoes, slipping them off and dropping them to the floor.  “Still thinks you’re beautiful, which is great, because she’d be blind if she didn’t, but--she’d fuck you, if you let her.”

The look on Quinn’s face was indescribable, but he pushed on while he could--slipped his tie the rest of the way off and then undid the belt on his slacks, letting them fall to the floor, before slipping on top of her and staring her straight in the eyes.

“So you have two choices: you can do that, and come home the next day, and we can go back to things how they were...”

“Finn,” she just breathed out, and tried to touch his back, but he slapped her hand away.

He wasn’t even drunk anymore; he was just....

“Your other choice is to say no, and... we get a divorce.  We get a divorce, because I can’t keep wondering when you’re finally going to say fuck it to this entire situation and go after what you actually want, so--”

“Finn, I don’t even want her, I just...” Quinn started saying, and he shut her up with a kiss that choked off her voice.

“If you care about our marriage at all, you’ll do this,” he said, and then fished around his shirt pocket for a card.  “This is her number.  She leaves in three days.”

Quinn said nothing else, and after a second, he rolled off of her and just reached for the light on the nightstand and shut it off.

It might’ve meant something, that she curled onto her side and lay there all night, almost touching him but not really.

It might have, but he didn’t know.

*

When he woke up the next morning, she was gone.

He made his son breakfast, and wondered what the most educationally sound way was to explain to a kid that his mommy wasn’t going to be coming back anymore because she had feelings for another lady.

It wasn’t something they’d covered at OSU.

*

His phone rang at around 3pm, and he was nursing a beer and a headache on the sofa, watching last year’s Superbowl just to have something to do.  Ricky was at a friend’s, and all he could think of was that the entire goddamned house looked and smelled like Quinn, which...

He answered without looking, and then just heard a soft sigh.

“Babe?” he asked, before he could stop himself.

“She just left, Finn.  And for what it’s worth--she stopped me,” Rachel said, and then hung up.

He didn’t know if he was thrilled or devastated, and just drank the rest of his beer before starting to cut up some vegetables for dinner.

*

In the end, it was just him and Ricky, and he sat at the dining table with another beer (and then another) until finally, the porch light flicked on at eleven.

Nobody entered the house, and so he headed outside and joined his wife on the steps.

“She was just a fantasy,” Quinn finally said, and reached for his hand.  “This--is real.”

“You’re not going to be any less gay just because--”

“Finn,” she said, and rubbed her thumb over his knuckles.  “I’m not going to be any less married just because you try to whore me out to your ex-girlfriend either.”

He honestly didn’t know what to say to her.  “So... what?  I did the wrong thing, by giving you a chance to … I don’t know.  Be who you really are?”

She sighed and rubbed at her face.  “No.  That was … a wonderful thing to do, even if it was totally misguided, but you need to understand that if I wanted to leave you, I would.”

“If you had a chance to be with someone--”

“The only chance I need is for you to accept that... maybe this isn’t what we both thought it would be, when we went into it,” she said, a little sharply, and then reached up and touched his cheek.  “When I kissed her, it was lovely, but it wasn’t worth throwing my entire life away for, Finn.”

“You’re not in love with me,” he said, because someone had to say it, after all this time.

She blew out some air and said, “Not the way that you are with me, no.  But I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone, Rachel Berry included, and that is the only thing that matters here.”

“I just don’t understand how--”

She pressed a finger to his lips, and said, “You see my parents’ marriage.  You know how terrible it is behind closed doors, and I see your mother and Burt, getting a second chance at something, and Finn, we work together.  We’re still going to have things to talk and laugh about when we’re in our sixties, and I very much doubt that sex will be an issue for either of us by then...”

“Speak for yourself,” he mumbled, and she chuckled but then squeezed his hand tightly.

“I don’t want what you think is best for me.  I want this.”

The thing was, she’d trusted him for longer than he could remember, when she didn’t trust anyone, so why the fuck couldn’t he trust her as well?

They were partners.  Maybe that was more important than being in love.

“You have this,” he said, and felt his chest ease at long last when she tipped her head onto his shoulder, and let out a deep, relieved breath that sounded exactly how he felt.

*

On Sunday, Quinn called everyone whose number she still had--including Rachel, now--and invited them over for a Glee get-together, for old time’s sake.

Santana and Brittany were engaged, and that was the topic for most of the night; at least until Puck found him in the kitchen, made fun of his apron, and then said, “So--she gaying out on you?”

“Not today,” Finn said, and then actually smiled when Puck clanged their beer bottles together and said, “You must be a fucking hound in the sack, Hudson--turning gay ladies straight for you or whatever.”

It wasn’t really like that, but if this was the thing to finally convince Puck that he wasn’t throwing his life away on a woman who’d never love him, then he’d leave it be; he just sort of smiled, and then smiled a little more smugly when Quinn came in with two empty glasses and ducked under his arm to reach for the Chardonnay.

Their dinner party routine was so established that the group just sort of mutely stared as they silently and effortlessly passed things between each other and served a crowd of ten without blinking; and yeah, maybe it did help a little, still, that  Quinn put a plate of his mac and cheese in front of Rachel without so much as glancing at her.

“It’s vegan,” he said, and leaned over to pull Quinn’s chair back for her.  “And um, still tasty.  I tried a bunch of stuff until this worked.”

Rachel gave him an indecipherable look across the table, and then glanced at Quinn, and finally glanced at where their hands were locked together, right at the corner.

“I’m sure it’ll be great,” she finally said, with a genuine smile.

“You didn’t poison it, did you?” Quinn asked him, askance, when everyone else was chatting about Rachel’s latest album and what Santana was goign to wear to the wedding, and he almost choked on his water before laughing.

“I thought there wasn’t any need for me to?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her--and yeah, after ten years of watching her do it, he was pretty damn good at it himself.

Her lips sort of half-quirked at him before she turned to his brother, asking about the scarf he was wearing and if she could afford it on a “Lima salary”.

 

*

It didn’t matter that the few people who knew the truth about his life thought he was completely off his nuts.

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been,” he told her, that night, after they’d finally put  an overexcited Ricky to bed and were collapsing onto their own king-sized together, exhausted and half-drunk.  “Like--seriously, this time.  The happiest.”

“Good,” she said, and pressed a kiss to his cheek before falling asleep on his chest again.