She sat on the airplane looking out the window at the expanse of steel gray, it’s swirling abyss a metaphor for her tumultuous emotions. She was trying to move on and grow up on her own. She was happy with her career progress in school, but there was something missing in her life. She knew that something was Finn, but just couldn’t deal with it, constantly masking it with distractions. Sure, Brody was nice to look at, and he seemed to appreciate her and her talent, but the relationship was otherwise flat. She sighed, realizing that seeing Finn was going to be awkward, given that her boyfriend? lover? friend? was living with her and he probably knew that since he regularly talked to Kurt and because she had changed her relationship status on Facebook. Shacked up. Yes, that was the appropriate term, despite her distaste for its vulgarity. He lived with her, they occasionally had sex, but she’d be lying if she said she ever engaged in a full orgasmic experience with him. She had come close, because she knew what she needed to get there, but then working at it just became too much trouble and it was easier to work on her acting for sex scenes, rather than working at having an actual orgasm. And then she’d feel guilty afterward and curl up on her own side of the bed. It was nice having someone to take to dinner or to NYADA networking events, and Brody was, if nothing else, a more experienced thespian, happy to dispense advice when needed, even if some of it was misguided, like his support of her doing a topless scene in a student film. Thank goodness for Santana making her doubt whether she wanted to immortalize her breasts on film while still in school, on a play that was of dubious quality.
“Attention passengers. We will be completing our final descent into Dayton International. We will have you on the ground in about 20 minutes. Thank you for flying US Airways.”
She sighed again and decided that she was going to enjoy Mr. Schuester’s wedding and try not to dwell on the awkwardness with Finn, and just try her best to be his friend again. After all, they did talk occasionally, and when they were not breaking up, they always had fun together. Especially if they were dressed up. “RACHEL!!!!”, squawked Kurt, clearly startled awake next to her, looking at her with a look of horror, “Rachel, WHAT are you doing??” “Huh?” “I woke up and when I looked over, you had a dreamy look in your eye, and your hands are in places I don’t even want to think of. You’re on an airplane and you haven’t been away from Brody more than 3 hours!” Looking down, she realized that one had was cupping her breast and the other was wedged between her legs, and her mouth fell open and her cheeks flushed to scarlet. “Uhhh, wow. I am embarrassed.”, she said, clearly not having registered what she was even doing, leaving Kurt to raise an eyebrow at her and very carefully ask, “May I ask what you were daydreaming about that led you to inadvertently touch yourself on a very public flight?” “Oh GOD! Oh my GOD. FUCK!” was all she could sputter out as she buried her face in Kurt’s shoulder. Kurt’s face contorted to form a small, knowing, “oh”, and put his arm around her, soothing her. He knew he should have said something to let her know that this was a sign that she really needed to break it off with Brody and focus on herself, so that when his slow thinking brother finally came to the conclusion that he was meant to be a music teacher, leading his own glee club, and realized that there were schools for that (which would accept him despite his mediocre grades prior to Senior year), she would be ready to have the whole package again. It was going to be a very interesting long weekend.
The plane touched down, Rachel and Kurt gathered their luggage, proceeding to the door to wait for Burt, the parent of the four who drew the short straw for airport pickup, when they both stopped dead when they nearly crashed into Finn. He was awkwardly holding a handwritten piece of computer paper with their names scrawled on it, and Rachel nearly melted into a puddle of goo when she noticed that he had a lopsided star, colored in even (he must have borrowed Brittany’s crayons during glee), next to her name. As much as she wanted to launch herself into his arms and kiss him senseless, she took in a breath and said, “Hello Finn! Is everything okay? We were expecting Burt. Oh God, please say everything is okay. He’s not in the hospital, is he? Do we need to go there now? Oh no! No. no no no no.”, as her calm instantly turned to panic when she remembered that Burt was being treated for cancer, and could have been sick. “RACHEL!”, he said a little too loudly, fighting the urge to kiss her as a means to calm her, “Oh, that was loud. Look, everything is fine, calm down. I offered to come get you guys since I was free. Burt’s fine, I swear. He’s been doing really well with his chemo treatment and can’t wait to see you both at the wedding.” “Oh, thank goodness.”, she said breathily, finally calm again.
Kurt looked between the two of them and smiled internally, knowing that this wedding was going to maybe, FINALLY, smack some sense into Rachel. Or, maybe it would just make everything a whole lot worse, but not if he could help it. It was time to get out of the airport though, so Kurt announced, “Hey, chauffeur, can we head to our ride, so we can see everyone else, or would you two like to stand here looking dreamily at each other like old times?” He knew he took it a step too far when they both stepped away from each other in shock and stared at him with gaping mouths. Rachel sputtered, “We...no, what? We were NOT looking dreamily at one another. We were merely working out the answer to why Finn is picking us up rather than Burt.” Finn then decided that rather than listen to the two roommates argue about this the whole way home, or piss off Rachel by agreeing with Kurt (after all, he knew his eyes haven’t been off her since he spotted them struggling to get their luggage off the carousel), he would just diffuse the situation. “Come on, your truck chariot awaits.”
“You brought the TRUCK??? Why on earth would you not take Dad’s SUV? It’s much more comfortable and we don’t all have to smoosh in the front seat and get knocked around every time you shift. Really Finn? Do you think at all?”
“Kurt, it’ll be fine, come on, it’s not that long a ride and I’ll sit in the middle so you can keep yourself pinned to the side.”, Rachel said as she turned around to walk to the door. Finn then looked over his shoulder as he grabbed the handle to Rachel’s suitcase and smirked guiltily. “Oh...”, Kurt thought to himself, yes, this IS going to be an interesting weekend.
Rachel was at a loss for words when she got into Finn’s truck. So many memories flooded her senses, from the first time he picked her up to go bowling, from the last time he drove her home from school. Silently she was thankful that Finn chose to not bring Burt’s SUV, since the only time she was in that vehicle, she felt her heart breaking into a million pieces. And just like that, her eyes welled up and she let out a hiccup. Kurt turned to look at her and said, “Rachel? What’s wrong? Is the truck uncomfortable?”. She took a deep breath, and said, “I’m going to be okay.” She took another breath. “I’m just really glad he didn’t bring the SUV.” As she finished, Finn came to the door, clearly only hearing the end of her sentence, and said, “Oh Rach, I’m sorry I didn’t bring the nicer car. Man, maybe Kurt’s right, I just don’t think.”
“Finn, it’s okay. You did nothing wrong.” At least not in this vehicle, she thought. Kurt looked at Rachel one more time and saw that she had turned on her ‘determined to be happy’ face, and then looked at Finn, who, by his slowly relaxing brow and slight half smirk clearly just recognized that something was up and that it most likely had to do with Rachel’s feelings toward him. Kurt saw that Finn’s eyes however were not moving back to the windshield, so he had to break the reverie. “Um, Finn, can we get driving then? Are our bags secured?”
“Uh, yeah. Let’s go to the exciting town of Lima, Ohio”.
They drove along in silence for a few minutes, as Finn meandered out of the airport and onto the highway. Finally after about 5 minutes on the highway, with Finn focusing on the road and Rachel’s eyes glassed over in thought, Kurt decided that he was going to move things along the best way the three of them knew how. “Hey Finn? Do you have an iPod cord? I still have the ‘Finn-friendly’ playlist”. Rachel looked at Kurt with wide eyes as Finn replied, “If that’s okay with Rachel, the cord should be in the glove compartment”. That playlist, she was almost certain contained nearly all of Journey’s greatest hits, and she was certain that she would not make it through most of them without falling completely apart. Why on Earth was Kurt doing this?, she thought. He knew full well what those songs meant to her, and that she buried those feelings deep within her, because feeling them just broke her. Kurt noticed the panic in her eyes coupled with the pained imploring look she gave him, and he simply took her hand and winked. She then covered, saying, “yeah, Kurt, whatever you want to play. I don’t think there’s a song on your iPod that I don’t also enjoy or at least appreciate for it’s contribution to the spectrum of musical genres.”
Kurt hit play and “Greased Lightning” blared through the speakers while Rachel giggled at the thought that Grease was considered “Finn-Friendly”, probably for the fact that he worked as a mechanic and directed the musical, rather than him actually liking the song. Finn groaned and said, “Kurt, do you know how many times I had to listen to that while working with Ryder on the solo?”. “Oh Finn”, Kurt replied, “I am not playing DJ here. We’re listening to songs that all three of us like which are on this playlist. No special requests, no skipping.” As he said “no skipping”, Rachel’s heart leaped out of her chest and hoped beyond hope that Kurt had the forethought to remove some of the songs that she just couldn’t bear to hear. “Okay, fine. No skipping, but now you have to listen to me too. ‘We'll get some purple fringe taillights and thirty inch fins, oh yeah. A Palomino dashboard and duel muffler twins, oh yeah. With new pistons, plugs and shocks I can get off my rocksYou know that I ain't bragging, she's a real pussy wagon. Grease lightning (Go, go, go)...’ Rachel? Hey now, it wasn’t THAT bad.” He took the sight of her in, literally shaking and fighting to keep her pool of tears from falling. Wait, he thought to himself, she’s not laughing, she’s crying. He pulled the car over to the side of the road, and before she could protest, his arms were around her and Kurt was watching the drama unfold with his head tilted to the side in interest. She looked up at Finn and realized how close she was and jumped back, burying her head in Kurt’s shoulder, saying, “it wasn’t even close to bad”, so quietly that Finn nearly missed it, but was bewildered just the same. Again, Kurt took charge, saying, “Finn, let’s get back on the road. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but let’s get back to Lima in the meantime.” He grabbed the iPod in his free hand and spun it to the Streisand playlist, saying, “I’m going to put on some Barbra” as the first piano notes tinkled out, signifying the beginning of “My Man”. Rachel fell apart in his arms, sobbing, which led to him frantically hitting buttons until finally, though it was only a second or two later, the acoustic version of “Baby got Back” came on. That got her attention and she quickly composed herself, saying through a watery voice, “Is this the Adam’s Apple version? It’s surprisingly good.”
“Surprisingly? Come ON Rachel, I thought we were through this already. They ARE good. And I like being in a show choir again even though it’s the lowest rung on the social ladder at NYADA.”
Rachel softened, “I’m not surprised it’s good because it’s the Adam’s Apples. I’m surprised it’s good because of the content and stylings of the original song.”
Kurt ended up playing DJ for the rest of the car ride home, avoiding any song that had been sung by Finn and Rachel, whether as a solo or a duet, and deftly avoiding any song that had lyrics about love, lost love, reconciliation, forbidden love, or infidelity. He patted himself on the back and breathed a sigh of relief when they made it to Rachel’s fathers’ house without any more crying or longing looks.
After taking Rachel’s bag to the door and getting back in the truck, Finn looked at Kurt with bewilderment and said, “Kurt, what’s going on with her?” “I don’t entirely know, Finn. She’s doing great in New York. I know you don’t want to hear this, but Brody moved in, and they seem comfortable and happy with each other - he parades around naked even!” Finn’s mouth fell open, and much to his dismay, Kurt noticed, responding with a snarky, “Not everyone lives in fear of a gay guy seeing their junk, Finn”.
“Whoa, wait, that’s not why I’m surprised. I’m just surprised that Rachel is okay with him walking around like that. Wouldn’t she think it was indignent or something?”
“Indecent?”, Kurt said, decoding the Finn-ism easily.
“Well I thought it was a little ridiculous given that it was February in New York City and our apartment is a little drafty, but I didn’t pay much attention to Rachel’s reaction. I suppose I should have, so I could address the issue better. At the time though, she was trying to consider whether to take on a topless role in a student film, so I think that was Brody’s attempt to show her that she should do it and be more comfortable with her body. Or he was just trying to make her want to do him.”
Finn pulled over, stuck his head out the door and dry heaved before bringing his head back into the truck. “I’m sorry, Kurt, I want to be able to let her move on, but this makes me feel sick.”
“No need to apologize, but you seemed to have missed what I said. I said he was trying to make her WANT to do him. If they have done it, it’s not often and not loud. Or he’s not good at it.”
Finn’s face lost it’s pale green palor and his cheeks pinked back up to normal. Kurt spoke again, this time a bit more forcefully, “Look Finn, you know her better than anyone, and despite popular belief, you’re not a total dumbass, especially when it comes to Rachel, well except when you decided to put her on a train alone to New York on what was supposed to be your WEDDING DAY.” Finn’s face fell and he looked pained, but Kurt continued on anyway. “You KNOW all that crying during ‘Greased Lightning’ and especially, ‘My Man’ was about you. We just don’t know if it’s nostalgic crying or conflicted crying or heartbroken crying or …” Kurt trailed off thoughtfully, but Finn blurted out, “It’s I think my dream is over crying”.
“Someone is feeling a bit cocky, don’t you think? You’re her dream, Finn? You? Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather that you found your dream, got your ass to New York to follow it, and that she still be with you, but her DREAM is Broadway. You should know that better than anyone, he who broke her heart to make sure that she followed that dream....Oh. Crap.”. Finn pulled into the driveway and responded, “what’s ‘oh crap’?”.
“She actually did listen to me”, he said softly. Finn looked at Kurt with wild eyes, searching for how to respond and not so patiently waiting for Kurt to continue, when he just blurted out, “What did you do, Kurt?”.
“When she was struggling to figure out whether she should get back together with you after the whole T-rex eating a Jew debacle in New York, I corrected her when she was saying that she had to decide between love or her dreams.” Kurt paused pensively, before recalling the conversation in his mind, “I said, ‘What if you can have both? Dreams aren’t one-dimensional, they can include all facets of your life. When you imagine your life in New York on Broadway, what else do you see?’ She instantly got tears in her eyes as she said, ‘I see me singing out the last notes on stage, looking down into the first row and seeing Finn watching me mesmerized by my talent. And then, after I’m exhausted from signing countless autographs by the stage door, he breaks through the crowd, takes my arm and guides me to a cab, where we travel back to our comfortable loft, where you and Blaine are passed out on the couch, cradling a baby girl with big dark curls and cute little freckles on her dimpled face. I look up at Finn and he kisses me sweetly before we wake you two excuses for babysitters up and put our daughter to bed.’ “WHAT???!!!! You’re telling me that Rachel’s fantasy included a daughter?” Finn put his head in his hands and said softly, “A daughter with my dimples.”
“And your nose. I forgot that part. She was very specific that the baby had your nose. I failed to point out that it would have a baby nose since babies don’t really have a full-fledged nose until they’re older, but that’s beside the point.” Kurt blurted out. Finn looked up at him, tears streaming down his face, “I screwed up so very bad. Kurt, I love her. I will never love anyone but her, and I threw it away because I am a complete idiot. I thought I was doing what she needed, but she needed me. Fuck!”
Kurt thought for a moment, “Okay, look. You screwed up. I am not sugar-coating that one. I’ve been picking up the pieces ever since I got to New York and it’s clearly still a mess even though she’s functioning and doing well at NYADA. We are going to work to fix this, but you need to get yourself together Finn and figure out what you want out of life other than her.”
“I’m getting there Kurt, I really love running Glee club, I just have to figure out how to do it as a living.”
Kurt stared at him incredulously, “Finn, I rescind what I said earlier about you not being a dumbass. This is easier than I thought it would be. You have the dream - you want to be a teacher, a music teacher, running a glee club, right?.”
“You realize they have glee clubs and high school’s in New York, right?”
Finn looked a little annoyed, but mostly bewildered, “Yeah. What’s your point?”
“What do you have to do to run a glee club, Finn?”
“Know someone willing to step down. I don’t know anyone but you guys in New York.”
Kurt sighed, “That’s only how you got to run the New Directions. You need a teaching degree and a music degree, Finn. Get thee to college, preferably in New York.” Finn’s face lit up and he smiled bigger than he’s smiled in a long time.
“Okay, Finn, lets go in. I want to say hi to Carole and Dad before I borrow your truck to go find out what’s going on with Rachel. My new purpose in life, other than getting through freshman dance with Cassie, is to get back to our original dream, which now apparently also includes Santana living with us.”
After an uneventful dinner, Kurt excused himself to head over to Rachel’s house, somehow avoiding the question of why he was going over there only a couple of hours after leaving her, when they saw each other all the time. Hiram however was a bit surprised when Kurt arrived on his doorstep asking to see Rachel. Kurt explained that he just wanted to make sure that Rachel wasn’t going to chicken out on the dress they picked out for the wedding, and made his way up to Rachel’s room. Rachel was also a bit surprised to see Kurt so soon, but was perceptive enough to know why he was there. “Kurt, I can’t put my heart through this again. I am finally starting to feel ambitious again. I am finally doing more than going through the motions.”
“Your singing at the Winter Showcase was ‘going through the motions’? Damn, Rachel.”
“That was the first time since moving to New York where I felt like I wasn’t either struggling or going through the motions. But do you know why that was?”
Kurt shook his head, taking in Rachel’s slowly flooding eyes, and gulped.
“Right before, I kissed Brody, and told him that I was going to start just doing stuff as if I wouldn’t have the chance again. I just wanted to see what it was like. Well, it wasn’t Finn, but I felt like I was moving on, and decided that I had to be done with mourning my lost love. I had to officially surrender and let life go the way it was going to go. And then that applause and the request for an encore led me to sing a Christmas song. A Christmas song Kurt! I’m JEWISH. The first time I sang a Christmas song, it was for Finn. I called him afterward. I had to hear his voice. I had decided to move on, but I couldn’t not tell him about winning showcase. Nothing feels real unless I share it with him, and at that point I decided that I had to open the communication lines again. I had to be his friend at the very least.” She put her head in her hands and finally let the tears fall, with Kurt’s arm snuggling her.
“Rachel, do you still love Finn?”
“Are you IN love with him?”
“I’m with Brody”
“That’s not what I asked.”
“I don’t know”
“Okay, we’re going to play a game. Answer as fast as you can, okay? Celine or Barbra?”
“New York or LA?”
“Sondheim or Schwartz?”
“Schwartz...hmmm I thought I would have went with Sondheim given that I live for playing Maria, but I guess I need to be Elphaba too.”
“Yes, that is a little surprising, but focus, we’re not done yet. Singing or Dancing?”
“Airplanes or Trains”
“Finn or Brody?”
Both of them stared at each other for a moment before Rachel burst into tears yet again. This time she quickly composed herself and started talking again. “Kurt, thank you for that little exercise, but this is not a surprise, even if it does make me emotional. I told Finn when I broke up with him that he was my first love and that I wanted more than anything for him to be my last. That hasn’t changed. I never fell out of love with him, even when I was livid with him for putting me on that train, I love him. I always will be in love with him. But I can’t be with him now. He’s here, he’s still lost, and I have a life to live in New York. I have to have these experiences. I have to see how this relationship goes. I know it’s not forever.”
“Does Brody know that? He moved in Rachel. Does he know it’s not forever?”
“Brody and I have decided that we’re having a mature, open relationship. There are no labels.”
“Wait. What?! You realize that he’s probably sleeping around on you. Is that why he didn’t come this weekend? Oh Rachel.”
“Kurt, if he sleeps with someone else, he’ll just tell me about it, but I don’t think he would. And he didn’t want to come this weekend because he wouldn’t know anyone but me.”
“and Santana, and me”
“Kurt, I don’t want to argue about Brody. He’s not here, and I’m okay with that. It’ll give me more of a chance to catch up with our friends.”
“Okay, fair enough, but I have to ask how are you going to handle seeing Finn this weekend? What happens the next time a Finchel song comes on around you two? It’s Schue’s wedding - there’s bound to be Journey. Am I going to have my Rachel emotional outburst radar on at all times?”
“I will do my best to keep my emotions in check. It will be good acting practice. I appreciate your worry, but you should enjoy the wedding too. Have you told Blaine about Adam yet? Am I going to have to be your emotional support? Or his?”
“Blaine and I have agreed to be friends. We were friends before we dated, so I think we’ll be okay.”
“Okay, well I will see you Thursday, then”
“With bells on!”
“Thank you Kurt”
“No problem diva.”
Kurt left her and drove home, trying to think of how he could convince Rachel that she was making a colossal mistake with Brody. Rachel knew that the relationship was filler, why couldn't she see that she didn't need to be with someone. This wasn't a situation where Rachel needed to find herself. She knew who she was, and what she wanted, both from her career and her love life. She wanted Broadway, and she wanted Finn. The only reasons why Brody was able to get with her was her insecurity (exacerbated by being whisked away from the altar and sent away on a train by the one person she trusted the most) and that she lost hope that Finn would ever be in New York, so she figured that she needed to move on, because she couldn't wait forever. That was probably what was fueling this relationship with Brody - she needed to know that Finn wasn’t the only man who could want her. She needed to be comfortable with her appeal in order to gain her confidence for auditions and for performing in general, but her heart was not even close to being Brody’s. Kurt thought that maybe seeing Finn with an actual dream and a plan would be enough to fulfill the fantasy that they entertained during their senior year, conveniently leaving out his own part of that fantasy, which included Blaine as well.
This was definitely going to be an interesting weekend, he thought.