Sitting in the hospital cafeteria, the bright florescent lights were in complete contrast to the somber mood at the table. With everything that happened to bring them both inside the stark white walls, there was no avoiding the emotional subjects. One painful memory would wordlessly flow into the next. Finn was carrying around so much that memories he’d thought he’d dealt with and put away years ago were floating to the surface. He couldn’t keep them all locked away no matter how much he tried to. There was just too many of them that the vault he’d had them locked away inside himself was bursting at the seems. As he sat with Rachel, their hands intertwined Finn knew something had to give. She was right, he couldn’t do it all alone. It was too much for him to handle, so he found himself sharing things with her when he had no intention to. Their past, and the hurt he felt when she’d walked away, was supposed to have been ancient history. He was supposed to have been over it completely, and no longer holding onto the confusion and pain from it. Years had passed, and they’d both created lives for themselves, and yet here they were. The universe’s cruel idea of a joke, or a twisted sense of fate, had them sitting across from one another and back in each other’s lives. Needing to free up space, to lighten his metaphorical load, he found himself talking before he could stop himself, and explaining how he understood her choice.
Leaving Lima and the small town lifestyle behind was something Finn could never do, but now he felt like he could finally see why Rachel would. Leaving all of this behind suddenly made perfect sense, and in his own way it was almost like he was forgiving her for that choice. Even being years too late to make any difference, it was all he could offer now. If the endless hours left alone with nothing but his thoughts and the beeping machines by Michelle’s bed had taught him anything, it was that life had a way of changing, and second chances weren’t guaranteed. He had to get it off of his chest.
As the words left his lips, he forced his eyes from their hands up to meet hers as he heard her disagree. It was the last thing he was expecting in that moment. In his mind she’d left and never looked back. She’d escaped and moved on to bigger and better things. Hearing anything different was reserved for the moments before he fell asleep after having too much to drink, even his sober subconscious had trouble trying to imagine it any other way on most occasions. “Leaving Lima was a mistake.” Finn’s eyes searched hers and for a split second he considered the possibility that he was actually asleep and about to be woken up by falling out of his chair, but the expression on her face was too real, as was the touch of her hand in his. “You don’t mean that.” While the look in her eyes was nothing but sincere, his mind couldn’t accept it. It was too far out of the reality he’d crafted for himself.
“You don’t. Why would you say that?” Finn’s eyes stayed locked on her face, searching for any twitch or facial tick so that he could write the whole thing off as a lie. Finn shook his head as he replayed it in his mind, concentrating on each word she’d said like he was defining it for the very first time. “You left, Rachel. You left and you never looked back. You went and got everything you ever wanted. Just because you were forced to come back doesn’t mean you can say….You can’t just say things like that. You didn’t choose to come back here. You wouldn’t have. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have to be.”
Reminding himself that she was forced back, and the reasons for it, his mood softened again. What little control Finn had on his emotions was loosening further as he couldn’t seem to land on one for long. Swinging from being thankful to have her back in his life, to anger for her leaving in the first place, Finn’s grip on her hand never wavered as the emotions competed with each other in an imaginary battle for control. “You come back here, and you say all these things. You’re here for me when I need someone the most, saying all this stuff that I wouldn’t even admit to wanting to hear. Why?” Why? He’d asked that question countless times recently, and each time he was desperate to get answers. This time he could. This time he had her here in front of him, and he was determined to understand it. “You were free. Even being forced back to Lima, you didn’t have to stop that day when you saw me. You could have walked by.”