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(Rated: M) Beneath the Sheets of Paper

She leaves a note in his locker to meet her in the auditorium, signed xo Rachel. She sits at the edge of the stage after school, feet swinging back and forth, when Finn appears, half-smiling, and she pats the seat beside her. “Missed you today,” she says quietly, fingers tracing the hem of her dress.

He’d been notoriously absent in the hallways, and had barely looked her way during the class they do share. His fingers press against hers very quickly, before he sits on them. “Yeah, me, too.”

They sit in silence for minutes that stretch into hours, but a glance at his watch tells her it hasn’t been quite that long. “Finn,” she says suddenly, “Finn — don’t you know?”

He turns and faces her, eyebrows scrunching (cutely). “Know what?”

"Don’t you know how much I love you?" He frowns and shakes his head infinitesimally, and it’s almost like the squeeze in her heart escapes her lips. She scoots closer to him, thigh against his, and takes his hand between hers. "Finn. Haven’t I — haven’t I proved that?”

"It’s — it isn’t about that. Proving, or whatever." He sighs. "I just…you haven’t seemed to care about me much, this year. It’s been all — “

"You’re right," she interrupts, and it isn’t because she just wants to talk but because he is, he is right, it’s been all about her this year. “I’m sorry, Finn. I — I told you we’d figure it out together and I — I became lost in my ambition. I let you down. Again.”

She whispers the last word, and much to her chagrin, a tear slips out of her eye and trails down her cheek. To her surprise, he swipes his thumb beneath her eyelid, brushing away the tear and pressing his mouth against the skin. “No,” he sighs, “I — I didn’t mean for it to, y’know, sound like that. But, Rachel, I feel like you have this idea of me — like a hero, or something — and I’m not that guy.”

"Yes, you are," she murmurs.

"I’m — I’m Lima good. Maybe California good. I’m only really good at a few things, like — like mechanics and loving you, and I — I could be worthy, in California, of you. I think. I’ve just… just gotta try. Try and deserve you. Because I know I love you for you.”

It sort of takes her breath away, that he doesn’t think he deserves her, the former school pariah doesn’t deserve the quarterback. It’s laughable, really, this situation — but not at all, really. “Finn,” she says, “can’t you — don’t you see? Whoever you think I see you as — that’s who you are.”

She can tell he doesn’t believe her, even when he slips his fingers into hers and presses her knuckles to his mouth. “Really?”

"Please believe me. I’m not – I’m not trying to mold you into my plans," (she’s not Quinn), "I just always want you – with me. And if California is what you want, then I love you enough to – to encourage you to pursue it.”

He sighs, and tenses, and she thinks he might leave, still stung from insecurities she’d thought had disappeared. As always, though, he takes her by surprise, pulling her into his arms. “Why not California?”

"I told you –"

"No," he interjects, "that wasn’t the real reason. C’mon, baby. Tell me."

She presses her face against his chest. “I’m not…pretty enough.”

"Yes, you are."

"Not for California, they’ll – they’ll tell me to dye my hair and get a nose job, and Finn, that’s not me. I can’t visualize myself in California for long."

"But – but you can picture me? There?” She nods. “I don’t want to do it without you.”

She presses her cheek against his and doesn’t say anything – she doesn’t want to tell him he might have to do it without her.

Beneath the Sheets of Paper is an M-rated one-shot by jonimitchell that provides a wonderful continuation of the argument between Finn and Rachel at the end of 3x15. After being confronted with Finn’s idea to go to California and the realization that he’s doubting her love for him, Rachel is trying to figure out what this means to their relationship. The only thing that truly seems certain is that she loves him, and believes in him, and doesn’t want to be without him - so maybe she’s going to have to make him see why she believes in him so much, and help him find his dreams, if she wants him to stay in her life forever.