|meet me in a poem
Author: jonimitchell PM
"Kurt, that's real nice of you, but I really don't have time for a relationship between work and Beth and making sure Puck doesn't drown in his own vomit, and paying bills on time, I just—I want to have the time, and I'm sure she's a great girl, but it's just not logical right now." AU.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Finn H. & Rachel B. - Words: 11,183 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 102 - Follows: 19 - Published: 07-04-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8284525
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
a/n: thanks to the finchel-prompts tumblr for the inspiration for this fic, which of course, i took in a bit of a different direction! title credit to the civil wars, glee isn't mine, and as always, dedicated to rachel!
It has always been Finn and Beth, from the time she was born when he was just eighteen, to the time her mother left for Yale and left them behind. He isn't her father, but he's her dad for all intents and purposes.
See, Puck has always been flaky, and he got his act together when he found out he'd impregnated Quinn, his on-off girlfriend, he got a job, saved his money for them, and with Finn's help, graduated high school, but just one month after Beth's birthday—it was August, hot and humid with still air—Quinn left a note on the kitchen table. I need to go to Yale. This isn't right. I'm sorry. Q.
That's where Finn comes in. H's been best friends with Puck since, like, kindergarten or something, and he's always had his friend's back, so when Puck called him and told him Quinn left, and could he drop Beth off for the night while he blows off some steam?
And when Puck stumbled in at four in the morning, drunk and belligerent, Finn realized that one night might just be the equivalent of Beth's life.
Puck kind of exists in this haze of alcohol and chlorine from his job cleaning pools in Columbus while Finn takes care of his kid and goes to school at Ohio State. It's like, really fucking hard, and he barely has time for sleeping between studying, working, and taking care of Beth (and Puck) and his mom tells him he's stretching himself too thin, but he like, has to take care of his friend's family—his family.
And when he graduates and Beth claps him on the face and repeats, "Congats, Daddy," and smiles that beautiful smile at him, it all feels…worth it.
"It's admirable, really," Kurt says, watching as Finn fills a Disney princess cup half with water and half with fruit punch.
"What is?" His brow furrows in confusion, and he turns to face his brother once he finishes screwing the lid.
"This," he explains, stretching his arms out. "You. Beth."
Finn presses his fingers against the drawing on the fridge; stick figured him holding Beth's hands with another figure standing nearby, but not quite together. "Um." He swallows, unsure.
"Really, Finn." Kurt obviously wants to talk, so Finn places the cup on the table and leans against the counter, ears quirking and straining to hear any possible calls from the living room. "It's unbelievable."
"I mean." He licks his lips slowly. "I just—did what I had to do. Quinn was gone, Puck is—Puck is fucked, Beth needed—needs—me, and…"
"I know I've given you a hard time," Kurt starts, "but I'm really quite proud of you, Finn."
"You didn't have to take care of her, but you did. You could've left her to the state, Finn, but you didn't."
"I couldn't, Kurt." He sighs, picks up the cup and walks towards the doorway. "From the moment I looked into those big green eyes, she's been mine."
Beth calls him daddy. The first time she called him that, he'd about near cried before he crouched before her and cajoled the word out of her again. He raises her, makes sure she's always provided for—as far as he's concerned, genes aside, he is her dad.
"That's sweet, Finn," Kurt says. "You've done an incredible job raising her. Looks aside, she's just like you."
His cheeks widen, pinking a little. "You think?"
"Oh, definitely. She may have her mother's eyes and her father's smile, but her personality is completely her daddy's."
He's overwhelmed a little, to be honest—no one has ever really complimented his parenting, and Kurt especially has always been less than complimentary. "Thanks, Kurt—really."
"You're welcome, Finn." Kurt sighs and clicks his tongue. "I do wish you would go out at least once, let me set you up. My best friend really is the perfect match for you, Finn—"
"Kurt, that's real nice of you, but I really don't have time for a relationship between work and Beth and making sure Puck doesn't drown in his own vomit, and paying bills on time, I just—I want to have the time, and I'm sure she's a great girl, but it's just not logical right now."
"I understand," Kurt sighs. "She's a little crazy, anyways."
"Crazy, huh?" He slings his arm around his brother's shoulder, grabs the cup and heads into the living room, where Beth sits patiently, a picture book spread across her lap.
"Daddy, you took forever," she whines, holding her hands out impatiently for her drink.
"What do you say?"
"Thanks." He laughs and presses the cup into her dainty hands and falls into the seat beside her.
He's been teaching her to read, and she's so smart, takes to it so fast, and he's really proud of her, and a little proud of himself. "What're you reading?"
She shows him the title of the book. "Spot."
"What's Spot up to now, Princess?" She flattens the book between them and scoots close to him.
"He's goin' to school!" She points to the pictures.
"He is?" She nods, certifying that yes; in fact, the yellow dog is going to school. "Do you want to go to school?"
She purses her lips, drums her fingers on her chin. "Dunno. Uncle Kurt, do I wanna go to school?"
Kurt smiles a little, holds back a laugh. "Oh, sugar, I think you do."
"I wanna, Daddy!"
He kisses the top of her head. "Okay, Beth. We'll send you to school."
Sometimes (all the time) he worries about Puck, who's out partying into the night and barely has time for his daughter. Finn wishes he understood his broken heart, wishes he ever felt that much for a girl to completely fall apart in her absence, and he knows, looking at his withered best friend, that his heart beats outside his chest, all the way in Connecticut, and he's never going to be okay again.
And if there were no Beth, if it were just Finn and Puck and Quinn, he'd be able to console his best friend properly, but the most he can offer him, especially these days, is a kick in the side when he has to get up for work in the morning.
On the morning of Beth's first day of school, he wakes up to her hopping up and down on his bed, chanting about school. He groans, covers his head with the spare pillow, because he knows it's barely even seven and she doesn't need to be at school until eight-thirty.
After a few minutes of jumping, she ceases, sits beside him. "Daddy," she whispers, touching his hand. "I get to go to school."
He pulls the pillow off his face and smiles sleepily at her. "Are you excited, pumpkin?"
Finn sighs, closes his eyes, and opens them again. "Okay. Let's get you some breakfast, huh?"
"Breakfast!" She cheers as he scoops her into his arms and carries her into the kitchen.
She really is his daughter.
Beth is six when Puck leaves. For good, this time, as far as the note says. You're better off without me.
Well, isn't that true?
And he may have been a shitty father, and flaky at that, Beth still loved—loves—him in a completely separate capacity than Finn. He's rarely home. She knows, he knows, but to tell her she'll never see him again, for the brief windows he was pleasant (sober) is unthinkable.
So first, he takes her to get a puppy. Salve the wound a bit, and plus, he figures a puppy isn't so different than Puck. And when they get home, he sits her down, puppy curled beside her on the couch, and breaks the news to her.
"Beth, honey, I—I—Puck isn't…he's not coming back."
Her eyes are wide, green as sea glass, and wet. "What?"
"He left a note, sweetheart." He presses his palm against hers. "I don't know what to say."
"Okay?" This isn't okay. "Beth—"
She puts the puppy in her lap, pets its dark, thick fur, and a tear trails down her face. When she looks up at him again, he's struck by how similar she is to her mother, crying with her blonde hair a mess as it always is. "Why?"
"I—I don't know."
She steels herself over, a gesture so dissimilar to the fun, happy little girl he's raised and her voice is unlike her own when she says, "We're okay without him. Right?"
He pulls her close, kisses her head. "Yeah, yeah. We are."
Beth isn't, though. Okay. She isn't okay. At least, she isn't okay consistently, and like Puck (and a little like Finn), she internalizes everything and buries her sadness beneath bravado and charm and smiles, but he knows she feels abandoned to a degree and he just hopes she happens to handle being abandoned better than her father.
In the span of a few weeks after Puck's departure, though, there are so many changes. They move from their apartment into a house, Finn gets a promotion and therefore works a little more, and Kurt's longtime boyfriend, Blaine, proposes. Or maybe Kurt proposes. He isn't certain of the details, but all he knows is his little (step)brother is getting married, and he couldn't be happier for him.
But Kurt getting married means returning to Lima, which he hasn't done since he was eighteen. But he supposes Beth might enjoy seeing where she was born and very nearly raised, so they head up the Wednesday before the wedding, and Beth is quite excited to be missing school.
Lima is extraordinarily the same, but Beth perks up at seeing the stretches of plains and barns and, "Horses, Daddy!"
He reaches across the center console and ruffles her hair. She smiles at him before turning back to her excited observation of his hometown.
The morning of the wedding, Kurt is in a huff about his best friend missing his wedding.
"Well, Kurt, didn't you say her dad was, like, in the hospital?"
"Don't get that mad at her," Finn rolls his eyes. "He could be dying, or something."
"Yes, I know. Forgive me for wanting my best friend at my wedding."
Finn laughs and nudges him in the side. "Well, for payback, you can miss hers."
"We'll see about that."
Beth pokes her head in the room. "Can I come in?"
"Yeah," Finn responds, standing and opening the door for her, and smiles at the sight of his little girl all dressed up, her long hair pulled off her face and curled. "You look so pretty, princess."
"Thanks, Daddy," she answers with a roll of her eye.
It's been a long time since he's felt any sort of romantic longing, but during the wedding and standing with Kurt, watching his love for Blaine spill over in tidal waves reverberating throughout the small venue, he's starting to wonder about it, what he's missing out on in that regard, and just how he can slide back in.
Beth starts acting out in third grade.
She gets into fights at school and at home, stops turning in her homework, and the first time she brings home a detention slip, he sits her down and talks to her for a long hour about the merits of behaving, and she seems to understand, because she nods and says okay, Daddy and scurries into her room.
How do you punish the child that spends her free time reading? No books? But that, he thinks, would be counter-productive, so instead, he sentences her to cleaning duty, which makes her scream and cry and shout, but he has to find some way to punish her.
He is beginning to wonder if maybe there's a little more of Puck in her than he thought.
When Finn was younger, in school, he was a bit of a golden boy, always well-behaved in and outside of class, but Puck always got in trouble. In kindergarten, it was for pulling Quinn's pigtails, in third grade it was for fighting, and in high school, it was arrests for stealing. Already, Beth is heading down Puck's disastrous path and Finn refuses to remain powerless in stopping her this time.
"Beth, just tell me what's bothering you so much!"
"Nothing!" She shrieks.
And with that, she slams a door in his face.
"Mom, I just don't see what I'm supposed to do," he moans, putting his face in his hands. "How do I control her?"
"Punishments, Finn, take away her library card."
"What're you doing?"
"What, this?" He holds up her library card tauntingly. "Taking it. It's mine 'till you clean up your act."
"Huh?" For a moment, she's Quinn, defiance in her arched eyebrow.
"Yup." He shuts her door behind him, pushing the card into his pocket.
"Beth, you know why. This is for your benefit, okay, honey?"
Lower lip trembling, she crosses her arms and stomps towards her bedroom. "I hate you!"
He knows she doesn't mean it. Knows it was just something she'd said in the heat of the moment, carried away with her anger at him. He's always hated denying her, hated punishing her, and he used to never have to punish her other than threats of time out, but these days he feels like every conversation with her is a punishment he's bestowing. No more television, no more library.
She's always been so mature, and even now, he feels like he's punishing a teenager instead of his baby girl and he wonders where his time has gone, where his daughter has gone.
What must be hours later, he hears her feet light on the stairs, feels her sink into the couch beside him, her head on his shoulder. "Daddy, I'm sorry."
He puts his arm around her shoulders. "Oh, Beth, I know. I know."
She does her best to change. She does her homework, studies for tests, refrains from fights, and he's so, so proud of her that he gives her library card back and even driver her there himself, and things are good.
But this phase is only temporary, it seems, as just a day before Christmas break, he's interrupted at work by a phone call from Beth's school, and like, okay, really? She couldn't hold in her anger for like, a day to say she rounded off one quarter this year being a pleasant girl?
If he's being honest, it's all a little amusing to him. This Beth thing. 'Cause there's no way he'll let her get as far as Puck is, of course, and he knows eventually she'll grow up and stop taking out her anger, and it's just—it's funny, how like Puck she is when he's certain during the entire month they raised him together, Quinn was certain she would be just like her.
He hasn't thought of Quinn in a long time, and he wonders if she thinks of Beth, too, wonders if she regrets relinquishing her rights as a parent, wonders if she misses her. Misses Puck, even. Last he heard, though, she married some hotshot doctor from college who must've been older than her.
"Miss Berry wants to talk to you, Mr. Hudson," the secretary in the main office tells him, and directs him to the room. Miss Berry is, of course, Beth's teacher and he's really heard nothing but praise for her from Beth. He imagines an older woman, perhaps a little withered, but kind nonetheless. Firm, too, from how often Beth has pressed those pink detention slips into his hands this year.
He knocks on the door and pushes it open and he's very, very, very surprised to find not an old, grey-haired lady sitting at the desk, but a young (pretty) brunette sitting there, head bent over a stack of papers.
Her head snaps up and she beams, and oh, she really is quite pretty, long brown hair knotted in a twist at the nape of her neck. She stands, smoothes her skirt and makes her way over to him.
"You must be Elizabeth's dad," she begins, sticking her hand out once she's in front of him and he's taken aback by how small she is, like, he thinks she'll probably be smaller than Beth in a few years time.
"Beth's dad, yep. I'm Finn Hudson."
"Oh! You're Kurt's brother."
His brow creases. "Um, yes."
"Sorry, you must be so—so frazzled! I'm Rachel Berry, he is my very best and my dearest friend."
"Oh, yeah. Yeah, he's mentioned you indirectly…once or twice." His cheeks totally get all pink because he knows this is the girl Kurt wanted to set him up with so long ago and she's probably, like, taken, now, maybe. And he shouldn't even be thinking of this, because she's Beth's teacher, of all people.
"Well, please take a seat, Mr. Hudson." She pulls a chair in front of her desk and takes her seat behind it, folding her legs and sitting on her knees on her chair and she really is so, so cute. "As you know, Elizabeth has been having her fair share of…shall we say, misdemeanors this past semester. Fighting, failing tests, and she never does her homework."
She pushes forward this binder with a sheet of paper with names and little boxes and checks and a line of strikethroughs in one column—Beth's. Finn sighs.
"If you are curious, I require the children to mark in the boxes if they've done their homework or not. A check, of course, records complete, a circle incomplete, and a strikethrough, well."
"That girl," he says under his breath. "I'm not so sure what I'm supposed to do. We've punished her, and I thought there had been an improvement these past few weeks?"
"There has been," Rachel assures him quickly. "A very forthcoming improvement! But today she seemed to backtrack all that progress and quite angrily punched a student in the nose, nearly breaking it. Luckily, I have had my fair share of nose injuries," blush spreads across her cheeks, "and we ensured by nurse's confirmation, that the child's nose was still in tact."
"Miss Berry, how do you recommend we proceed from here?"
She rakes her teeth across her bottom lip, and the movement fascinates him and he doesn't really remember the last time he felt so enchanted and encompassed by a woman. "Well, suspension, in typical cases. But I'm not interested in adding more dark marks to your daughter's record, which will prove detrimental in the future, instead, I want Beth to give of her time elsewhere."
Rachel pauses, and he wonders if she's as big a drama queen as Kurt, and she leans forward on the desk. Her blouse gapes a little and he can see just down her shirt, at her breasts pushed together in her bra, and he quickly turns his gaze back to hers, cheeks hot, and it's like he's fifteen again, clumsily talking to the first girl he liked in a serious way.
"And what, um, is elsewhere?"
"Oh, well, the school musical, of course. You see, I am the head of the drama department, as small as it is here, and I know Beth can sing."
Rachel nods, a satisfied little smile on her face. "Yes. So, of course, that is long term. Short term, Beth will be suspended tomorrow, and will stay after today."
"Thank you, Miss Berry."
"Call me Rachel, Mr. Hudson," she says, cheeks pink again, and he's barely met her, barely knows her, but already she makes him feel—she makes him feel so good. So happy.
"Only if you call me Finn."
"Can I ask you a personal question?"
His heart hammers as his lips stutter, "Y-yes."
"Why is your last name Hudson and Elizabeth's Puckerman?"
"Why do you call Beth Elizabeth?"
"Indeed, Rachel." He sighs, runs his fingers through his hair. "And that's a story for another day, I'm afraid."
A bell rings. "Lunch is over. Please return to pick up your daughter at four p.m. sharp!"
He kind of can't stop thinking about her. Can't stop picturing her dark eyes like stars in their own right, her lips pretty and pink, her blouse tucked into her pencil skirt or the way her hair curls over her shoulders, dark and thick and beautiful, so, so lovely, and he's never felt this encompassed, enraptured.
"Daddy, please. I can't be in the musical! Please, please, please talk to Miss Berry! I'll do anything!" She clasps her fingers, stares at him with her big, green eyes. "Please."
That, of course, is how he finds himself driving to Beth's school in January very early in the morning. But, hey, she needs some sort of punishment for making him drive her and arriving to school thirty minutes before the bell is the one he chooses today.
"Daddy, I'm sleepy," she whines from the backseat. Yeah, he keeps her in the backseat. No way he's fucking ignoring traffic laws and it is clearly stated no one younger than twelve should sit in the passenger seat, and it will stay that way until the entire world mandates a new law.
"So am I," he counters. She sticks her tongue out. "Just, like, hang out in the library. Or outside the classroom. Are you sure she gets here this early?"
The school isn't deserted or anything, it's just so chill and silent when they get out of the car it feels that way, deserted, empty, but the lights tell him otherwise. Beth slips her gloved hand into his and he feels his heart swell in that fatherly way, and he pauses, lingering just outside the school for a moment.
"Hold on. Beth, look. You've been a pain in my ass these past few months, you know?" She nods. "You know how I worry, especially about you."
"No, no, no. I'm not looking for an apology, princess. Just want you to know you are the most special thing in my life, and I love you, okay?"
She stares at him, and she's growing up, so fast, and she's always been so mature but—
He just didn't expect it to hurt like this.
"I'm sorry, Finn. There will be no substitutions, exchanges or refunds." She smiles a little to herself. "Believe me, Finn, Beth will really benefit from this."
He sighs and sinks into the chair still across from her desk. "I know, I know, I know."
"You just can't say no to your little girl, huh?"
"Not at all." She's smiling at him again, and he just—he wants to know her.
"Well, Finn, there is nothing wrong with that so long as you know where to draw the line before she becomes too spoiled rotten."
"I guess I just, with her parents and—" He breaks off, cause oops. "Sorry."
Her tongue darts out, swipes along her bottom lip, mesmerizes him. "Finn. If you want to—to talk about it, please."
"I gotta go to work. Long story."
She catches his hand with hers, and it shouldn't but his heart takes off, and her smile, too, makes his heart squeeze and thrum. "Should you need anything, find me. I have been dubbed quite the fantastic therapist, if I do say so myself."
He laughs and nods. "I might take you up on that offer."
One afternoon, when he drives to school to pick up Beth from her rehearsal, he leaves a little early and finds himself in mid-rehearsal, watching Rachel boss around a gaggle of students (some comically taller than her) onstage.
"Daddy!" Beth calls excitedly, waving her hands in the air. Rachel turns and stares at him, and he thinks maybe she's glaring, regardless, he waves back, pleased to see her return the wave after a moment.
"Okay, children!" She claps her hands. "Run through your lines with one another, in twenty minutes, you're going to perform it for me and it better be perfect. Perfect."
He watches as she scurries offstage and heads right towards him, grabs his elbow, and pulls him out of the auditorium.
"Hi, Rachel," he greets once they're in the lobby. "Looks good."
"Is there a reason you're interrupting my rehearsal?"
He puts his hand like, right on her shoulder, and it's like being reminded of how small she is, the way his hand curls over her entire shoulder. "Wanted to see you, and y'know, my daughter's in your show."
She purses her lips, tries hiding her smile, but the edges of her mouth curve upwards. "You-wanted to see me?"
"Well, yeah. You seem like you'd be a good friend."
Her brows quirk in surprise. "A good friend?"
He nods, and can't help but think he's made a terrible mistake.
Rachel calls him at night sometimes, first with a question, and eventually just to talk. He likes talking to her, finds himself enjoying hearing her laugh soft in his ear and loud other times, and he really likes the way she talks, smart and eloquent and just...just perfect, to him. She listens, too, offers advice, and it's been so long since he's really gotten to talk to someone outside his family that he's almost forgotten how awesome it is.
The only problem with their friendship is that he kind of likes her, you know? Like, okay, whatever, she's totally hot and perfect and funny and after just a few months of being her friend already he wants more, and he debates with himself for hours whether or not he should tell her. And, okay, maybe if he weren't a dad he'd be a better choice, and he's sure there's some protocol on dating the dad of one of your pupils or something but he can't help his heart from hammering when he hears her voice or meets her for coffee while Beth is at friends' houses, or even when she sends him a photo of her beside the set for her show, mouth wide open in excitement.
Plus, she's like, really hot, besides her being basically the best person he's ever known. Seriously. She gave up her dream so her parents could pay their hospital bills for her daddy's cancer treatments and she hasn't looked back since.
Anyways. The situation at hand is that he really really really wants to be with her, but he doesn't quite know how. He got himself into this, really, from his own dumb intuition. Or something. Maybe he was scared.
"Finn, you were the one dumb enough to tell her you wanted to be friends." Finn sighs, runs his finger along the lip of the bottle.
"I know," he groans, "just tell me how to get her to be not friends."
"Tell me how I can get her."
"What, is this some sort of horror movie?" Kurt laughs, reaches over to Finn's plate and steals a fry. "Listen, Finn. I've tried setting you up with her multiple times, each time you refused. As far as I'm concerned, you're on your own."
"Kurt," he whines. "I'll let you take Beth shopping."
"Wow, like I don't-f"
"With my credit card."
Kurt squints his eyes. "Limit?"
"Well, you know." Kurt shakes his head. "All right. Three hundred, please."
"That could work. I mean, it's no What Not to Wear standards, but it's do-able. Is Rachel only worth three hundred to you?"
"No, of course not. That's just all I can afford to spend on clothes for Beth this month."
"Good answer. Okay. I'll help you. Rachel likes to be paid attention to, you know?"
"Tell her she's pretty, that kind of stuff. She acts like she hates it, but that little diva loves attention." Finn nods thoughtfully. "Now, onto flowers. When you think of Rachel, what is the first flower that comes to mind?"
"Um, pink ones."
"Pink. Hmm. Interesting." Finn frowns.
"Dude, how is this helping?"
"Um, it's helping you. Duh." Kurt sighs. "Although, we should get going. Carole is going to want some reprieve from watching your wacky kid all night."
"She's not wacky."
"Finn, she was wearing overalls with a denim shirt underneath. I don't-I can't even fathom where you bought overalls and a denim shirt, but please, never let her out of the house in that combination again."
"Kurt, if she feels good wearing it, I'm not stopping her." He smiles, thinking of her eclectic wardrobe. "Besides, she looks so damn cute in it."
"Maybe cute to a fashion trend blind person like you."
"Sorry, Finn." He rolls his eyes. "All right, let's get going."
Beth is fast asleep, curled on her side beneath downy blankets when he arrives home and checks in on her. So peaceful as she sleeps, still his innocent little girl. He presses his hand against her forehead, brushing her bangs from her face, startlingly like Quinn in this moment.
She sighs a little, rolls and her eyes glide upwards to see him sitting beside her. "Hi, Daddy."
"Hi, sweet pea. You have fun with Grandma today?"
"Mhmm. So much."
"Good." He kisses her head. "Love you."
Sometimes, he wonders if it would've been easier with someone by his side, this whole raising Beth thing. When he drifts to sleep, he imagines her beside him, imagines writing her into every memory of those early, hard days when he'd stayed up for hours at a time trying to soothe Beth back to sleep, or the even harder ones in finding his best friend's head lolling against the toilet in the mornings before work, smelling of liquor and smoke. He thinks she would've been a good person to have by his side, the best person, maybe.
Beth's show is on the very last day of the school year and his mom comes with him, nervously chattering before the show and even during a little, until he finds a way to shut her up. And, yeah, okay, he cries a little, because his little baby's growing up into an amazing girl, and he dreads the day she starts to really become the woman she's going to be, the day he'll surely lose her, and she really is a good singer—Rachel didn't lie about that.
When Beth blows him a kiss during the curtain call, he tries not to focus on the small brunette who marches across the stage, waving proudly at the audience and instead on Beth, jumping up and down in excitement in her costume, so, so sweet.
"She's just like you," his mom murmurs, eyes wide and wet. "Baby Finn, what a girl you've raised."
There's that fatherly pride again, his heart swells with it and he blows a kiss back to Beth, but it's intercepted by Rachel, who, much to his satisfaction, blows one right back.
"Rachel, dear, you simply must come to Breadstix with me and Finn and Beth, here."
"Oh, yes, Miss Berry!" Beth exclaims, tugging impatiently on Rachel's hand. "Please!"
"I don't know," she says slowly, finally meeting Finn's eyes. "Finn?"
"Hmm? Yeah, 'course, Rach." He'd been busy trying to not stare at her legs in her heels, or her butt in her pencil skirt, and he's trying really hard to be a gentleman.
"Then, thank you very much, Mrs. Hummel! That sounds just lovely, although I'm afraid I'm going to have to bum a ride as my car is currently being held hostage by my fathers."
"Finn can drive you! I will take Beth," Mom offers before Finn can say anything, and Rachel turns and looks at him from under her eyelashes.
"Is that okay with you, Finn?" He nods, and she bends slightly to be on Beth's level. "What about you, Beth?"
"Yep! Grandma lets me ride in the front seat!"
"Beth!" She scolds, meeting Finn's angry gaze. "C'mon, dear. Let's go!"
Finn curses softly under his breath and nearly misses Rachel's soft fingers curving into his. She laughs at him when he snaps back to reality, surprised at her hand slipping into his. "What's wrong, Finn?"
"Beth's real small, y'know? And I really don't like her driving in the front seat, and Mom knows that but she's powerless against Beth's little girl wiles." Rachel laughs, her other hand resting on his elbow, and they've never done this before, and he isn't really complaining.
"I was never allowed in the front seat," she tells him conversationally, "always been too small for the legal weight requirements, and my dads were very, very protective."
He laughs. "Well, I'll let you in the front seat tonight. Probably the only time though, 'cause you know how I worry."
"I do," she agrees, still holding his hand. He leads her to the car, opens the door like a gentleman, and then climbs in beside her. "Thank you for inviting me tonight, Finn."
"Well, thanks for putting on a fucking great show, Rach."
She laughs, leaning her head back against the headrest, and he puts the radio on quietly and slips his hand into hers. He's not sure where it's come from, this development, but he thinks it must mean something, something good, too, like maybe everything in his life is finally coming together, and he thinks if anyone's up to sewing it together it's Rachel.
It isn't until after dinner, after laughing and pasta and a walk back to his car in the warm May weather that she says, "Finn, what're we doing?"
All through dinner, he'd kept his hand on her thigh, on her knee, in her own hand, and now he's got his hand back in hers, where he's beginning to believe is where it belongs. "Holding hands."
"Finn." Her voice is all quiet and soft and a little sweet, too.
He pauses, stops walking, and pushes out a little breath between his lips. "I like you, you know?"
"I like you, too, Finn. You know, you're really—you really are my very best friend."
She stands about to his shoulder in her heels, still small enough to tuck under his chin. He stands closer to her, hands finding purchase on a much more foreign part of her body, her hips, her waist. "Rachel," he breathes, bringing her a little closer to him. "You know that isn't what I mean."
"I do." Before he can even bend down, she's stretching on her tiptoes to kiss him, and it's something else, this kiss—this girl. Her mouth is soft, sweet, even, and she opens her mouth just a little for him to pull her bottom lip into his mouth, and then her hands are around his neck, keeping him closer, still, and she tastes just like birthdays and new year's and Christmas all wrapped up in one tiny package, new, exciting, but somehow familiar, all the same, a kind of feeling that spans a lifetime, unlike the fireworks that burst quickly in the dark sky for one moment, she's like a star that burns in the sky even after it's end.
His star, he thinks, pulling away slowly. Her gaze is just as sweet as his feels, and he kisses her again, quickly, impulsively, and just like that he takes her back to his car, walks her to her front door, kisses her on the porch, and says goodbye.
Sometimes, he finds himself just kissing Rachel, or he finds them kissing each other, or her kissing him. She visits in the daytime and kisses him in his kitchen, or he stops by her classroom to kiss her while she's finishing her things for the year. They don't really tell anyone, Beth especially. Rachel understands. He understands.
For now, he's perfectly content with the kissing and the falling. Or maybe he's already fallen. More on that later. All he knows is that he feels complete, for once, like Rachel has somehow managed to sew the loosened strands of his heart together with resilient fibers that attach to her heart, too.
"You really are the best person I know," she tells him between kisses, her lips a little swollen as they move against his cheek. "You're all scruffy."
"Sorry, baby," he responds, running his hands over her legs stretched over his lap. "And you think so?"
She nods, but verbalizes, "Yes."
"You're the best person I know."
"Mhmm." She kisses him again, softly this time. "I wanna take you out."
"You've done that countless—"
"I want you to call Kurt, have him do your hair and your makeup, and I want you to tell him—to tell him you're going on a date."
"When I call, who do I say I'm going with? A friend? My boyfriend?"
"Yeah. Your—your Finn. You're my Rachel." That makes him smile, being hers, her being his, taking as much of her heart as she'll give and giving in return.
Though to be honest, he's pretty sure it's already hers.
Rachel's returning smile makes that well of happiness that lives in his stomach boil over.
"I'm gonna tell Beth at dinner tonight, Rach, promise."
"I believe you."
"Good. 'Cause I am. Swear."
"Baby, you seem nervous." She presses her hands against his cheeks. "Don't worry."
"Okay," she says, all singsong and a little too smug for him, so he pushes her back against the couch, kissing her hard until they're interrupted by the shrill ring of his phone.
After a moment of listening to the other end, he says, "Thank you, I'll be right there."
"Finn?" She stands with him, catches his hand. "Finn, tell me what's wrong."
"We gotta go." He furrows his brow. "Beth's sick at her friend's, and you don't have a car and we have to go now."
"Don't worry, honey," she murmurs, smoothing her had over his arm. He relaxes a little and leans forward to drop his forehead against hers. "We'll go get her together."
He kisses her quickly and they head into the car, her hand tracing patterns on his thigh the entire way there, and yeah, it feels good having his girl touching him there, but he moves her hand to clasp with his 'cause it's not really good form to show up to someone's house like incredibly turned on, you know? But he doesn't have to worry, really, because after a moment he's back to worrying about Beth.
Rachel doesn't hold his hand for longer than a second, squeezing his fingers just before he rings the doorbell.
"Finn, hi, come on in," the woman—Mrs. Williams—greets, ushering them inside. "Miss Berry?"
"Nice to see you again, Mrs. Williams," Rachel says pleasantly.
"What are you—" Finn takes Rachel's hand, a silent answer, and she just smiles and nods. "Oh, I see."
"Family room. She all of a sudden was complaining of being dizzy with a sore throat. It's probably just run of the mill strep throat, but you'll want to get her to the doctor soon."
Finn heads into the indicated room and sees Beth lying on the couch immediately. "Daddy," she croaks, holding her hands out for him for the first time since she was six. He cradles her to his chest and doesn't bother correcting her when she slips her thumb into her mouth.
"Thank you, Mrs. Williams," Rachel says as they make their way out of the house. Finn is quick to add something along the same lines.
"Miss Berry?" Beth says softly, squinting confusedly at Rachel. "Daddy?"
"I'm seeing her, pumpkin." He buckles her into the seat.
"Like Cinderella and Charming?"
He kisses her feverish forehead. "Exactly like that."
He knows that since he's introduced Rachel into Beth's life, he has no business ever taking her away from them, and he hopes that's okay with Rachel. He's sort of proud of her, Beth, of course, for how well she takes this whole Rachel thing. And he suspects it's really just her longing for a feminine influence, and if there ever were a feminine influence, he's glad it's Rachel, who wears dresses and her hair in pretty curls but asserts herself and understands things, and he thinks she's the perfect model for Beth.
Since Beth is out of school and Rachel is as well, after a few weeks, he leaves the two to their own devices, and already, they gang up on him.
At night, he kisses Rachel goodbye in the front den before she returns to her own house, and then he kisses Beth's forehead while she sleeps, curled in a ball in her bed.
Beth turns nine at the beginning of July. He invites Rachel and his mom and Kurt and Blaine and Burt over for a celebratory dinner.
He gives Beth this pretty little locket with a picture of the two of them inside, so she'll always know how much he loves her, that he'll always carry her in his heart and he hopes she'll do the same.
Rachel buys her this pretty dress he just knows was expensive, but it's something just like a dress Rachel owns and Beth is starting to really emulate Rachel so she squeals excitedly upon opening it, thanking Rachel with a big, big hug.
While they sing to Beth, Rachel curls beneath his arm, sliding her hands up his chest before they splay across the middle. For so long, it'd been Beth and him and Puck, and then just Beth and him, and now, he thinks they work much better in a trio, him and Rachel and Beth.
It never really occurred to him before. That he loves Rachel, of course, and that's not to say he's stupid or something just really concerned with his life right now that he barely has time for that stupid analytical thinking he was so shitty at in college. English could kick his ass, but from the amount of books accumulated at Beth's side, he assumes she has not inherited his lack of talent in the subject.
But yeah. Rachel. It's sort of simple, really. They're each others person, or whatever Rachel told him one night as they curled on the couch watching television. And he's figured he's sort of loved her from the moment he dumbly told her she would be a good friend to now, when she's holding onto him and clapping and cheering excitedly as Beth blows out her candles.
He's in love with her. She turns and looks at him, steps on her tiptoes and kisses his cheek, scrunches her nose. "You really should shave, baby."
"You should shave," he teases, nuzzling his face against her cheek quickly before turning to the party. Mom's watching and he knows he's gonna get some sort of speech from her later so he just smiles at her and at Kurt who's got his brow raised before he turns back to Beth, who details just how much she loves whatever book set she's on, now.
"I'll have you know I shave on a quad-weekly basis, Finn. And it's all for you."
He laughs, walks over to Beth's present pile and sifts through it. "Daddy!" She shrieks. "What are you doing?"
"Um, going through my presents."
"My birthday!" She exclaims, and suddenly, she's both parts the two year old who proudly clasped her fingers over a teddy bear and proclaimed mine and that blonde cheerleader who mothered her, fingernails digging into Puck's arm proclaiming mine simply in her steely gaze.
"Very true. But, Beth, my birthday isn't for a long time. I'm so bored."
"Well, you have to wait your turn." She turns her nose up at him.
"That is not fair."
"Daddy, life isn't fair."
Rachel laughs, overhearing that in the midst of her conversation with Kurt, and he turns and glares at her. "Guess not."
Beth hugs him tightly and kisses his head. "Daddy, don't worry. You'll get a present soon enough, Uncle Kurt says so."
Kurt's shaking his head. Hmm. And Rachel's all red.
It's supposed to be romantic, he knows, but it just sort of blurts out of him this warm afternoon in July. Beth's gone, on her weeklong summer camp and it's the first time she's been gone so long and he'd be going crazy if it weren't for Rachel calming him down, kissing him until he can't remember, and hugging him tight when he gets too worried.
"Finn, you worry too much."
"You think I don't know that?" He sighs, popping another antacid into his mouth. "Baby girl, I've popped so many antacids this week I'm pretty sure my teeth are going to turn pink."
"Mine, too, then."
Laughing, he says, "I love you."
And she freezes for a moment, before relaxing, stretching on her stomach beside him. They're lying in the grass in his backyard, feeling childish for a moment, watching the clouds roll by. A soft breeze rustles the trees, rustles the grass, rustles her hair and his, and it's a soft breeze with the sun feels like a caress on his cheek, and he groans a little, waiting anxiously for her answer, until finally:
"I know." A beat. His heartstrings tighten, threatening to rip out of her seams. "I love you, too."
She nods, smiling prettily at him, and he tugs her close, his mouth against hers, kissing in the warm afternoon sunlight, and he's really missing Beth, his little girl, but he likes getting this time to be his age, for once, enjoys being able to push his hands underneath his girl's skirt and not have to worry about innocent, prying eyes.
Though he should worry about the neighbors. "Finn, take me inside."
In his bedroom, he manages to unzip her dress with unremarked finesse, her bra, too, and she's kissing and kissing and kissing him as she clumsily undoes his shirt and his belt and his pants, her fingers slipping into his boxers as his slip into her panties, and it feels so good, being touched and touching for the first time.
Moments later, she's quivering beneath him and he's barely holding himself together, and a condom and some rustled, quiet words and he's inside of her, so much a part of her (a part of him) in all senses of the word. "Finn," she sighs, wiggling a little, pressing her hips against his, "Baby, move."
He has to stifle a laugh because he would be so taken off guard by sex with her that he forgets to move and he's a little embarrassed by how fast it is (it's been, like, a long time) but she curls beside him and tells him it was perfect all the time.
"But I want you to touch me," she says, and she guides his fingers between her legs.
Sex is totally hard to do with a nine year old at, like, every corner. He swears, for the weeks remaining in the summer, it's like she multiplies, or something, and every time he wants to do it, Beth manages to sneak in and ruin it.
Anyways. Summer is over, Rachel goes back to school, Beth, too, and it's fine and good and stuff but he wants to see them more, wants to see them together and apart, and he wants to have sex with Rachel before he goes to bed and he tells Kurt all this (minus the sex stuff) and he just laughs at him.
"Oh, Finn. You want to get married."
He does? He thinks for a second, real hard, and he's never been good at looking to the future, but he does—he does see himself married to Rachel, with little babies with her dark eyes and Beth's attitude which she's learned partly from him but is somewhat hereditary, and it's a good life, a perfect life, and—he wants it to be his.
He's taken to picking them both up from school, but today, Rachel has some things to do, so it's just him and Beth. She's kind of quiet in the backseat, though, and he pulls into an ice cream store he knows she loves, figuring that'll make her talk, if anything.
"Beth, what's up?"
"A girl was sayin' mean stuff."
"You." He knows there's more, and simply raising his eyebrow at her does not work.
"What about me?"
"That you're gonna marry Rachel and ship me off to boarding school and leave me!"
"Oh. Oh, Beth, sugar. You know that's impossible." He squeezes her hand. "First of all, we cannot afford that. Second, I love you too much to see you go. Was rough 'round the house when you were gone this summer. Rachel had to console me from crying, like every night. And Rachel loves you, too."
He knows this stems from her abandoning problems from Puck. "I'm just scared."
"There've been a lot of changes, I'm sorry." He sighs. "I love Rachel, too. But, like, different from you. You're too young, but Rachel is—she's my person."
"Your soul mate," Beth supplies, her high voice sounding wise beyond her years.
"In so many words."
"Okay." She bites her lip. "I just…don't leave me, 'kay?"
"Beth, you don't even—you don't need to worry. You're always gonna be my little princess, no matter who my—"
"Who your queen is?" She smiles, laughs a little, but after a moment, continues, "Rachel won't be bad or crazy, promise?"
"Yeah." He smiles and eats a spoonful of ice cream. "I promise."
Christmas and New Year's pass at lightning speed. This year, he resolves to spend more time being with those he loves.
Rachel sings a lot, and her voice is the loveliest, prettiest, strongest voice he's ever heard. She sings in the car, in the shower, in the kitchen on date night. She helps Beth sing, too, and soon enough, the two of them duet, like, all the time. He'd be annoyed if they weren't so damn cute.
In May, one of Rachel's pipes at her apartment bursts. He invites her to stay, tacking on a forever at the end of the question. She agrees. They move in together.
He loves having her here, loves keeping her with him, especially with the way she tucks herself under his chin and presses her hand against his chest, atop his heart, as she sleeps. In fact, he's really interested in the way she works, like, so completely different and way crazier than anyone probably expected.
First of all, she spends, like, forty-five minutes in the bathroom getting ready for the day, and the same at the end of the day. She's a total blanket hog, and puts the heat on too high, citing her cold feet as an excuse.
But she encourages him to move around her in the bathroom as she does her thing, and he really likes showering with her, even if it's a little longer than a normal shower, he figures saving water is only an added benefit. And when she's a blanket hog, she's usually cuddling up to him, and she proves to be a better heater than any blanket. And if it's too cold and he turns the heat down, she'll curl up beside him, pressing her feet in between his calves or his knees. He likes being close to her.
Honestly, he doesn't get the whole cold in May thing, but figures it's just fickle Ohio weather.
Other added benefits are her cooking skills, of course, as well as her contribution to the cleaning schedule. And, she likes taking care of the dog and often he'll come home late from work to find her fast asleep, curled on the bed with the dog beside her, sometimes Beth, too.
It's a family—they're a family. He thinks that if Beth were to draw one of her signature stick figure families, now, it'd be a much happier picture. It kind of blows his mind, that Quinn could give up this life, but he guesses some things are more important than family.
"This is good," he tells Rachel, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. She smiles and kisses his cheek sweetly.
"What is? This show?" She giggles, gesturing to the television, and some TLC show is on, and he growls playfully.
"No." He pinches her side, eliciting a squeal from her mouth. "This. You, me. Beth. Me and Beth, you and Beth, and on and on, it's really—it's cool."
"Cool?" She laughs. "You're sweet, Finn."
"You, too, but I'm serious."
"I know you are."
"Good. Because I am. Serious about this. About us."
"Me, too." She threads one hand into his hair, slides it down the back of his head to rest on the nape of his neck. She stretches her legs over his lap, situates herself against the arm of the couch. "I love you, Finn."
Absentmindedly, now, he runs his hands up and down her legs, formulating the best time, place, and method to propose.
Living together, he discovers all these new pieces of her, from her tendency to sing, very loudly, at seven in the morning to this spot on her neck that makes her crazy. He becomes fascinated with the bend of her knees, the slope of her chest, this little freckle she has on her back that's only ever seen the sun a handful of times. He knows, because he's memorized the outline of her bikini in her skin, a seemingly permanent tan line.
Beth turns ten, he turns twenty-eight, life rolls on by, and before he knows it, he's been with Rachel two years and has a ring burning a hole in his pocket.
They know they're it for each other. So he figures it's high time to propose. And he knows Rachel, she'll pretend she wants a big, fancy, public proposal but she'll really be touched with the thoughtfulness he puts behind it, so he heads out to this liquor store that's, like, twenty miles outside of town and sends Beth to sleepover at his mom's for the night, and she's excited because she knows he's going to propose and after extensive talks, he's coming to terms with the fact that she's already come to terms with it all.
He buys her favorite bottle of pink champagne, and it's expensive, but he can afford it, for her, especially.
There's a bouquet of stargazers that await her for when she steps in the door, and Finn waiting in the dining room with dozens of candles illuminating the space, and when she steps inside, her smile is so sweet, so perfect, so, so beautiful and before he even really knows, he's bending on his knee, her hands in his, speech forgotten.
All that comes out is, "Rachel, you're it. Everything. I love you so much. Will you marry me?"
She stares at him, at the ring, then back at him for hours (barely fifteen seconds) before she tackles him, knocking him to the ground and he narrowly misses the corner of the doorway bashing his skull in, and she murmurs, yes against his mouth and his neck, against each cheek as she kisses him and kisses him, and he's so, so happy, after years of letting Beth's needs eclipse his own, and now he knows those bits of happiness converge, here, in this promise, this ring, his happiness, Rachel's happiness, Beth's happiness—now, they're all one.
Much to his surprise, Rachel doesn't care much about the wedding and allows Kurt to plan it all.
"I just want to be married to you," she whines after an afternoon of deciding between shades for bridesmaid dresses.
Finn kisses her for comfort. "Me, too, baby girl. Soon, remember."
"We could elope," she murmurs.
"We could. But I don't—I want my mom to see me get married. I wanna see you in your dress on your dads' arms, I want to see Beth wearing a junior bridesmaid dress, I want it all, but mostly, I wanna be married to you."
She wrinkles her nose at him playfully. "Gross."
"You love my speeches." Her fingers, wound around his wrist, tighten. "C'mon, baby. Let's practice for the wedding night."
It rains on their wedding day. And not tragic, thunderstorm rain, but that peaceful drizzle that lies in the in between of rain and none, and he's always loved this weather, loved how peaceful and grey the sky becomes, green trees even more clear and striking against the grey canvas. He thinks it's rather fitting, this grey spring day, because, though unexpected, it's still beautiful. Perfect, even.
"You look beautiful, sweet pea," he tells Beth, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. She's nearly twelve, somehow.
"You should see Rachel."
He sighs. "I wish."
Kurt's had them separated for a week, only allowing them to see one another at the rehearsal dinner, and it's been so, so hard, this separation. But they've made it, and soon enough it'll be just them and Beth, and he can't wait.
He has to catch his breath when he first sees Rachel. Her arms are wound in her dads', but her smile is all for him, and not that wide, big beam, but this soft smile she gives him when he's being especially sweet. It's the smile she gives him right when she wakes up, when he listens to her read aloud at night from whatever novel she's reading. It's the smile she gave him when he told her he loves her, the one she gave him after they came together for the first time, the one she gave him when he proposed.
It's his favorite smile.
The wedding flies by. He says his vows, murmurs I do and okay, whatever, he's crying just a little, but Rachel is, too, and he's kissing his bride, the newly minted Mrs. Hudson.
Later, when they're dancing, he presses his mouth close to her ear and murmurs, "I love you so much, baby girl."
He can't see her smile, but he can feel it, in his heart, curved against his chest. "I love you, too, Finn, forever."
He's doing work in the office when there's a knock at his door. He glances up. Beth's head appears in the doorway, hair long and straight pulled back in a ponytail, and she'll be thirteen this summer, and he can barely believe it.
"What's up, sweet pea?"
"Rachel's sick." She scrunches her nose. "She told me not to tell, but."
Beth has seemed to inherit his knack of worrying. "What's wrong? Where is she?"
"Dad, go back to work, I can—"
"Beth, please." She sighs loudly.
"In your bathroom."
Rachel's bent over the toilet, her face pressed against the side, and she pouts at him unappreciatively when he sits beside her. "I told her not to get you," she whines.
"Well. She is very loyal to me."
"I thought I'd managed to persuade her. We did conspire for Uno."
"And Monopoly. And Sorry."
"Very true." She moans a little, grips his wrists as he helps her up. "I'm just going to nap, okay? I'll be downstairs real fast."
Her real fast nap melts into the morning the next day, and he's so glad he's taken off so he can look after her. It's a few days before Christmas, and he's been so busy with work and keeping up with Beth and Rachel he's barely had time to just be with his wife.
When she wakes up, she frowns a little, eyes widening at the time. "Oh." She rolls into his side. "Finn."
"Remember how I told you I thought I just had the flu last night?" He nods. "I lied."
His eyes pop open. "Excuse me?"
"Finn, I'm—well. Finn, I'm—we're pregnant."
The pregnancy isn't exactly easy. He has, like, five gray hairs by the end of it, but their little boy comes into the world, lungs strong and powerful and he's fully developed, and Rachel's okay, too, but exhausted.
"Your baby is fucking twenty pounds," she whines.
"More like eight."
"Rounds up to ten. Also, you owe me fifty bucks. Told you he was a boy." She traces her fingers along the baby's cheek, and then turns her smile back to his. "We did it, baby."
"Yeah, we did." He leans low and kisses her quickly, before he traces the same path on their baby's skin as Rachel. "Hey, little man. I'm your daddy. The pretty lady who's holding you is your mama."
"Finn," she sighs.
"She'll be even prettier in a few weeks, just give her time to get back to normal." Despite being petite originally and underweight once pregnant, Rachel's hormones were all over the place, and, she felt, her body. He's always quick to disagree, but she never listens to him about that kinda stuff.
"I'm going to tell Beth it's okay to come in, all right?" She nods, turned already back to their son.
"Beth," he calls softly, nudging her in the shoulder. "Beth, do you want to meet your baby brother?"
She yawns, stretching her arms behind her. "Yeah. Yeah."
"You get to be the second to hold him," Rachel says, pressing the baby into Beth's waiting arms.
He's a little moved by it all, his newborn and his firstborn, and he remembers holding Beth for the first time in that hospital room, and he's so glad that through all the hurt and pain and problems, they've come out strong. Come out even better than before.
Days later, when the baby's home—Christopher Hiram Hudson—and he's standing, watching him in the bassinet, Beth sidles up beside him.
"Rachel's sleeping," she says quietly. "Took a lot of pushing."
"I owe you, sweet pea."
"He's so small."
"You were, too. Once."
"Daddy, I never told you, but—but thanks." He doesn't need anymore. He remembers that first swell of fatherly love that rose in his chest, compares it to now, and kisses her cheek, thanks her, too. She's changed his life, and he couldn't imagine it ever being better.
"I don't wanna go," he moans as Rachel loops his tie.
"Suck it up." He sighs and leans down and kisses her, feels her mouth open beneath his, presses his fingers against her waist and feels the slight swell there.
"She's too young for this."
"Is not." She holds up the black suit jacket, laughs as she helps him into it, and kisses him again. "Listen, baby. You need to stop being just that. A baby. And enjoy your night while I hang out with Chris," she jerks her thumb behind her, where he sits in the center of the bed, pillows securing him, playing happily with a little plush dog, "and this little guy."
"Swear, it's a girl."
"Okay, Finn." She rolls her eyes, brushes off his shoulders, and picks up Chris, who immediately upon seeing Finn claps his hands over Rachel's face, a cautionary, territorial expression covering his face.
"Listen, little man, she was mine, first," he protests, kissing Rachel despite Chris's whack against the head.
They head downstairs to where Beth is waiting, complaining of Finn's diva tendencies and rolls her eyes at his compliments, ever the snarky teenager. Regardless, she smiles in their pictures, and he knows she's looking forward to it. To tonight: their first father-daughter dance, a privilege for graduating eighth graders.
"Have fun. Don't get too jive without me."
He laughs. "Thank you, baby girl. I'll see you later, and call if anything feels…wrong. I love you."
"I love you, too." Beth wrinkles her nose at them and Finn ushers her out, takes one last look at Rachel, and blows her a kiss.
a/n: that's all, thank you very much for reading! (ps: i'm very sorry for having to villainize quick! was necessary!)