Author's Note: Another story, yes. Another one shot. What about Puck's Girl and the girl from over the rainbow? I have not forgotten about those, I just needed to get this out of my system. It's not your typical pairing but I urge you to read and review! Especially since this is not my typical style and I want to know what people think.

Dedicated to Hannah - mostly because I blame her for this ship for coming into my thoughts in the first place. Hopefully, Hannah, this will push you right out of your state of denial. :P

Second Choice

They have 7:00 am Biology together their fifth semester. The only reason they sit together is because "We knew each other in high school."

"Yeah, I was the quarterback on the football team and she was on the cheerleading squad with my- she was on the cheerleading squad."

They never mention the fact that his girlfriend, the one who she had been on the cheerleading squad with, had copulated with and gotten pregnant by her at the time boyfriend.

Unnecessary to discuss the drama of the past, dredge up the long forgiven mistakes and the anguish it had caused all around. Plus, it's just uncomfortable.

Easier to stick with "We knew each other in high school."

And, "Oh, we were in glee club together."

"What's a glee club?"

His mouth would always pop open to launch into a full description but she would grind her heel into his shoe, bringing him to a stop. "You know what? Never mind." Until, eventually, he gave up trying to recount the glory days of glee.

The thing about Biology is that she really doesn't get it. At all. But he, wonder of all wonders, does. He is the Professor's Star Pupil, a shining golden A practically stitched onto the lapel of his jacket. So finally she just has to break down and beg him, "Finn, we need to study. Together. If I fail another class…"

With an earnest look, he pats her lightly on the arm. "Of course, Santana. We're friends, right?"

Friends? Hardly. Still, she nods her head eagerly, "Sure we are, Finn. When can we study?"

The first time, Quinn and Artie come with him, Quinn's perfect behind atop Artie's legs, her perfect head nestled against his shoulder. Just so…ugh…perfect. Except she is dating Artie Abrams but even that seems perfect for her. Forgetting for a moment the child that Quinn had handed away, with tears in her eyes, Santana almost resents her former friend. That feeling quickly passes as the four settle down and Finn begins quietly reviewing the text with her.

It isn't long until she wants to bang her head against the table - or his, perhaps. She can't quite decide which.

"I just don't get it."

He doesn't sigh, doesn't lecture. Just patiently scoots the book over to her and starts again.

- - - - - -

Every ten minutes, Santana excuses herself from the confines of the library to take a drag on her cigarette. Once, Quinn accompanies her, claiming that she just wants some fresh air.

Riiight. Because the smoke from Santana's cigarette equals fresh air. "You and Finn…are an interesting pair."

"What?" Stamping her foot over the burning embers of the cigarette on the ground, putting it out, Santana crosses her arms over her chest. "Finn and I are studying biology together, that's it."

"Is that what you kids are calling it these days?"

Rolling her eyes at Quinn's lame attempt at humor, Santana heads back inside, not sure why Quinn would want to hang out with her, call her friend again. Hasn't that ship long since sailed?

"We should…do something together, sometime."

Despite her snort, Santana knows she'll say yes. 'Cause at least Quinn will bring her friend count to one (unless you include Finn, which Santana isn't sure she wants to do).

Inside, Finn hasn't stopped flipping through the Bio text. Doesn't even notice when she sits by him again. At least, she had thought as much but, "So, why don't we talk about the effect of cigarette smoke on the lungs?"

Half a smile.

Maybe he pays better attention than she realizes.

- - - - - -

They are just study buddies who knew each other in high school but when she gets that call, the one she has been dreading for weeks, "Your grandmother passed away this morning, mija" she runs to his room, arriving there breathless and befuddled.

Why come to him?

Before she can second guess herself, he opens the door, surprise on his face at her hunched over form.

"Santana…" A pause in which she feels his eyes boring holes in her cheek, as if he is afraid to let his eyes make contact with hers. "You okay?"

Santana has never been one to ably share her feelings or the inner workings of her heart. "My grandma…"

During a study session she might have mentioned her grandmother's failing health and, in that moment, he remembers the comment made in passing. "You want to…go get some ice cream."

Despite the fact that it is more than a bit chilly outside, Santana readily agrees.

Does this mean…they are friends?

- - - - - -

Three weeks later, his hand accidentally brushes against hers and she shivers.

Feels hot and cold at the same time.

It's strange but it means nothing.

Nothing at all.

- - - - - -

After her first B, he hugs her. Wraps those ridiculously long arms around her slim frame and whispers a congratulations in her ear.

And - crap - she likes him.

- - - - - -

There is a picture of him and Rachel in his dorm room. They are both grinning like fools, her arms spread out like she's flying, while on his shoulders, his hands holding her in place, pressed against her knees. And Rachel had signed the picture. Only Rachel, Little Miss Diva, would do something so egotistical. She had probably told Finn it would be worth money some day.

She's probably right.

Resentment burning inside of her, Santana silently turns the picture away from the bed, where they are sitting, so she won't have to look at their smiling faces.

"Talk to Rachel much?" Play it casual, hope he doesn't notice the tremor in your voice.

"Not since we broke up." Being Finn, he doesn't pick up on the inconsistencies in Santana's behavior (at least in this instance, thankfully), most likely because he is too busy internally lamenting how the love of his life had chosen New York over him.

"Want to watch the movie?"

Responding with the click of a button, they both settle in, eyes on the screen as Jaws starts.

Why on earth did she agree to watch this movie?

Because it's him.

- - - - - -

As much as she wants them (meaning those cursed feelings who have become their own entity in her mind) to go away, they won't.

She is stuck with them, stuck with him.

People already think they're dating. In Biology, a girl with pink streaks in her hair asks if Finn is her boyfriend and if not, could she ask him out? A growl is Santana's only reply, which Santana hopes the other girl takes as "Hand off, he's mine."

Pink Streaks never asks Finn out so she must've gotten the message loud and clear.

- - - - - -

Finn's favorite sport to watch on television is golf (golf? Go figure). Too many times, Santana finds herself curled up in a ball on his bed, her head in his side, on a Sunday afternoon as they watch whatever golf tournament is on that day.

"You smell good," he murmurs once, his hand resting lightly on the her head, his pinkie gently flicking her ear. "Like, I don't know, apples or something."

She is wearing jasmine scented perfume but she doesn't bother to correct him.

- - - - - -

The semester ends way too quickly and Santana feels a gnawing in the pit of her stomach that this is it.

No more study sessions, no more golf Sundays. No more Finn.

If she tells everyone that she hadn't cried until three in the morning the night after hers and Finn's Biology final exam, she is lying.

The next day, after an exhausting Philosophy final exam, Santana sinks into a seat in the coffee shop and prepares herself to be alone. Again. Like before Finn.

A buzzing alerts her to a phone call and it's Finn with a "Hey, what are you doing? We're done with our finals and Quinn and Artie and I were hoping you might want to hit this party with us. You know, to relax. 'Cause, I mean, we totally deserve it. How do you think you did on the Bio exam?"

Dizzyingly happy, she cannot form words.

She meets them at a house twenty minutes later and is content to let Finn's nervous energy flow off of him and onto her. Only, she doesn't get it. Why would he be so nervous? Final exams are over with…

Accepting Quinn's offered soda, Santana can't take her eyes off Finn's lanky form, weaving through the crowd as he heads toward the bathroom. Artie is also within her line of vision, chatting with some weird looking goth dude who has a black eye patch over one eye.

"I'm happy," Quinn sighs, her mouth over the opening of the soda bottle, as she watches her boyfriend. "Artie's the right guy for me. You know, we both just…found each other, even though we already knew each other, if that makes sense."

Expletives are forming in Santana's mind. Is she purposely rubbing it in?

"And…I guess that can happen to others too. But…still, sometimes it's hard to get over an ex. Like Finn with Rachel. I know he'll let her go one of these days but…who knows when?"

Oh.

It's a warning.

That's why Finn's nervous.

Winter break means Lima, Ohio…and Rachel Berry sightings.

- - - - - - -

As usual, Santana's mom refuses to turn the heat up, due to the cost it will incur, and Santana spends most of her winter break bundled in a blanket in front of the fireplace. Her brothers create far too much noise and she wants to get out of the house.

She goes to see a movie with Quinn and Artie, once, but that's it.

Finn doesn't call or come by.

Quinn mentions she saw Finn and Rachel together at the bowling alley.

It's hard to pretend that it doesn't hurt but she buries her pain in a crooked smile and takes another fistful of popcorn. The movie starts and Santana takes advantage of the time to forget her own misery and focus on the misery of imaginary characters instead.

Except the lead male reminds her a lot of Finn and the lead female…

…of Rachel Berry.

- - - - - -

School starts up again and Santana has no desire to see Finn Hudson.

Ever. Again.

Yet his desires don't exactly mesh with hers so the first day back, he is at her door, goofy grin in place. She wants to smack it off.

"I missed you over the break."

You could've called. Come over. Instead, you chose her. "Yeah, well, I was busy, with family stuff."

"Me too. We went to Canada for most of break. I saw Rachel, like one day. It was-"

She doesn't want to hear about his date with Rachel so she cuts him off. "You two back together?"

A darkness shadows his eyes. "No."

There is no doubt in Santana's mind that Finn is thinking about how he wishes things could be different, how he wishes that he and Rachel had reignited their relationship over the break but Santana doesn't care. He's not one half of a Finn/Rachel whole which means that she doesn't have to feel guilty about her next course of action.

She kisses him.

Places one hand on either side of his face and yanks him down, causing his lips to crash into hers. At first, he does not respond, then slowly, slowly, his mouth opens against hers. One of his hands finds the small of her back and he directs her body closer to his. They fit together, tighter than two interlocking puzzle pieces. His other hand tangles in her hair, pulling her head back a bit, in a dip, his body arching against hers.

She never wants the moment to end but nearby cat calls bring her out of her stupor. The blank look on his face creates bubbles of giggles in her stomach. He's dazed as well.

"Come on," she whispers seductively. "We can continue this in my room."

Without an argument, he follows her inside, shutting the door and securing them away from the rest of the world.

Including Rachel Berry.

At least, that's what Santana would like to pretend.

- - - - - -

He walks her to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays because his schedule allows him to do so. The first few times, they casually stroll side by side, as if nothing has changed, even though everything has.

Then, on a day where the sun is hiding behind the clouds, he reaches out and takes her hand.

Surprise colors her cheeks with a faint pink hue but she turns her head away to hide it.

After that, everyone knows they're dating.

- - - - - -

He still likes Rachel Berry even though they have been seeing each other for four weeks.

That cursed picture is still there, on the desk in his dorm room, taunting her. How she longs to hurl it against the wall. Shatter the glass, a representation of what she wants for Finn's relationship with Rachel.

On Monday night, when she is reading a book, her head nestled in his lap, Rachel calls. She knows because of the special ring tone Finn designated just for her. Excited, he hurries from the room, her head flopping back on the bed. All he tells her is, "I've got to take this."

As if she has no idea who it is.

As if he has no idea how much it hurts her.

- - - - - -

A pout is on her lips as he sets the raspberry-white chocolate swirl frozen yogurt before her. The dopey expression on his face begs her to accept it.

Can't. Won't.

She pushes it away and holds back her tears.

Yesterday had been the photography show, the one where her photographs were displayed to the public for the first time. Quinn and Artie had shown up to be supportive but her boyfriend had bailed.

Rachel Berry was in town, in Lima. That was more important. Important enough to drive the few hours from Ohio State to Lima and let her event slip to the recesses of his mind.

"Come on, Santana. I forgot."

Indignation burns in her veins. "You did not forget. You chose Rachel over me. Don't lie to me about it."

A deep breath then she knows. He is about to be honest with her. "I guess…that's true." Never have words hurt her so much. "I do still have feelings for Rachel and I was so stoked to see her that I just…didn't think about the photography thing. Artie told me it was awesome." Artie also gave Finn a stern talking to. Santana knows this because Quinn told her. "Anyway, I've seen all your photographs. But, I mean, you could show them to me again, if you want to. I really like them." That lopsided grin is on his face, the one that has gotten him out trouble in the past.

Not this time, not with her.

One finger stretches to graze the skin of her cheek.

Crap, crap, crap.

"I like you, Santana." Not as much as her, never as much as her. She'll always be second choice.

Her head is screaming at her to walk away, far away. To run. Instead, she picks up the spoon and takes a bite. "You remembered my favorite, at least."

She can't leave him because…

…she loves him.

- - - - - -

Two days later, there is a framed picture of them on his desk where the one of him and Rachel used to be.

- - - - - -

Saturday is a poker tournament to raise money for "a charity of your choice." Artie, Quinn and Finn have all entered. Choosing to remain on the sidelines, Santana watches with a small amount of amusement as Finn loses after the first round. He comes to sit by her, disgruntled.

"I suck."

Slipping her arm around his waist, she pulls him down, toward her, and rubs her nose against his cheek. "Sometimes."

"Hey." He pokes her in the side, then tickles her.

They end up kissing, short light kisses that grow into more. The result is that they get kicked out of the building because, "You're causing a disturbance. Please step outside."

"Think Artie and Quinn will be mad?"

She links her arm with his and gazes up at him, wondering how she has known him for so long but has never before seen how beautiful he is (an echo of Quinn's words about her relationship with Artie in her head). "They'll get over it."

When he laughs out loud, his arm sung around her middle, she feels happy.

Happier than she has in a long, long time.

- - - - - - -

He wants her to meet his mom over Spring Break because "You're really important to me, San-Tan."

(She grumbles about the nickname he's bestowed upon her but she secretly adores it)

"Fine. But then you have to meet my family too. Don't worry about my dad. He tells every boy I bring home that there is a shotgun in his closet."

His mouth falls open at her statement and she gently closes it with one finger. "Does he really...have one?"

"Yes," she replies, chuckling at the tremble in his voice. "But it's not loaded."

"I'm not…reassured." College has expanded his vocabulary.

She kisses him on the nose, runs a hand down the side of his face to smooth away his worry. "Just be yourself and they'll love you."

She almost adds "Like I do" but stops herself just in time.

- - - - - -

Meeting his mom is easy. They quickly warm up to each other and are soon sharing embarrassing Finn stories.

He pleads with them to stop but they don't listen to him. Until he grabs Santana, throws her over his shoulder and marches out of the room.

Later, they play Monopoly.

Finn wins.

Santana and Mrs. Hudson share a secret smirk. Because they had let him win. Not that they'll ever tell.

- - - - - -

Chaos reigns at the Lopez household but it doesn't seem to bother Finn. He plays with her little brothers (so loud, so obnoxious) and her twenty odd cousins (who will not be staying for dinner), allowing them to take turns beating him (he claims that he could have bested them, if he wanted to) at some racing game. Every once in awhile, his eyes meet hers as she bustles around the kitchen, assisting her mom in finishing the meal.

(Chicken, beans, rice, Gloria Lopez style. Which means completely delicious)

It's then that she feels like a completely normal couple. Easy to forget the other woman, whose name Finn uttered while napping the other day.

Just as her father enters the door, her mom announces that dinner is ready and they all sit (and the cousins are shoved out through the front door, complaints on their lips), Finn to her right. He squeezes her hand gently. A soft smile plays across her lips right before they all dig in.

- - - - - -

"He's just…muy bien," her mother declares as they wash and dry dishes after the meal is complete (her mother still won't use the dishwasher, claims it's cursed).

Sighing, Santana focuses on Finn, who is in the middle of a serious conversation with her dad…about baseball. "He is."

"But…something is…wrong. Mija, what's the matter? I sense the sadness behind your eyes, that mars your joy from being complete."

Only her mother would notice. "It's just…he likes someone else." The words sound odd to her ears. As if she's speaking them about someone else. How can the guy that just endured an entire evening with her family possibly have feelings for another?

"Oh, mija." In her mother's embrace she finally lets loose the tears she has been holding in. "Mija, why do you stay with him then?"

Her voice sounds small, soft, to her ears. "I love him, Mama."

"There was once a boy I was in love with and he loved someone else."

"What did you do?"

She doesn't see her mom's eyes land on her dad. "I can't tell you what I did, mija. You need to figure out what you need to do. And trust that if he's the right guy, you won't be second choice forever."

It is her mother's sage advice that gets her nowhere. She hates having to learn life lessons herself.

- - - - - -

They are in her dorm room, stretched out on her bed, procrastinating on their homework in exchange for a more favorable activity, when her phone vibrates.

Text message.

"From: Quinn. Artie jst said he loved me!!!!!!!!!! 3 :D"

How nice.

"What is it?" Finn asks, his voice hoarse from lack of use.

There is a sharp jab in her heart. "Nothing."

She's gotten used to the lie.

- - - - - -

Going from bad to worse, Brittany calls her the next day with a breathless, "OMG," (yes, she says O.M.G.) "Mike invited me to Manhattan and we were walking around and then we stopped for milk and cookies at this little place and then he bought me this pink purse that is just, OMG, so cute and then we went to get Mexican food, I really love Taco Bell's chalupas, then he asked me to marry him! AND OMG, OMG, I said yes! Will you be my maid of honor?"

She's stunned speechless and doesn't even have the energy to tell Brit that she and Mike are too young or that Taco Bell should never, ever be referred to as Mexican food. "That sounds…yeah, I'll be your maid of honor."

She wonders when it will turn into "always a bridesmaid never a bride" for her.

- - - - - -

It's already finals time and Santana feels that deep pressure, frenzy-to-study, setting in. Quinn, Artie and Finn spend the majority of their time in the library. Santana claims that Finn is too much of a distraction for her (which is partly true) so she opts out of group time.

She stays holed up in her room the weekend before finals. Doesn't answer her phone when anyone calls. Not even when it's Finn.

A loud rap, rap, rap at the door awakens her from an impromptu nap. Drool covers the pages of her History text book.

Quinn stands there, long blonde hair swept up in a ponytail. "Finn's worried about you."

She needs a cigarette. "Tell him not to be. Remind him of what happened two weeks ago when I tried to help him with his English essay. How he almost didn't get the essay done on time 'cause I kept 'helping' him."

Narrowing her eyes, Quinn appears skeptical. Sometimes, Quinn reads her better than her mom can. "He's worried about your relationship too." Before Santana can shoot off a sarcastic reply, Quinn holds up a hand, stopping her. "You're wrong to be concerned about Rachel. The way he looks at you… Well, it's the same way Artie looks at me."

False hopes. "Just tell him I'll see him later, okay?"

Or not. She's going to break up with him, by phone if need be (in person would be much too diffcult, difficult to resist him).

She can't take being with him anymore, knowing that he'll never love her back.

Never love her as much as she loves him.

- - - - - -

Finals week is busy and hectic and she manages to avoid him.

But after her last final, it's no longer an option, and when he shows up outside of her door, looking so forlorn, she can't get the "no" out.

"I miss you."

It's all he needs to say to crumble her strong façade.

She's back in his arms in less than a heartbeat.

- - - - - -

The four of them (they've become like some old clichéd foursome, Lucy and Ricky, Ethel and Fred, doing everything together) celebrate the end of their third year by going to a concert.

Some band that none of them have ever heard of but it doesn't matter. They have fun anyway.

Artie and Finn sing along to a U2 song the band is doing a cover of. People around comment on how good they sound. Quinn and Santana exchange proud looks before Quinn drops into Artie's lap, covering his face with kisses, and Santana ends Finn's now solo with a passionate smooch.

They remain like that, Quinn and Artie, Finn and Santana, locked at the lips, for the remainder of the concert.

- - - - - -

July is hot and muggy. Santana and Finn spend most of their time in his air conditioned house, riding out the heat. They watch movies, play games…and engage in…other recreational type activities that neither one of them can ever get enough of.

So far, Rachel Berry's name has not passed Finn's lips and she feels a surging of hope that he's over her.

Finally.

Then he does mention her and Santana is pieces of the girl she should be.

"Rachel's gonna be in town. Puck and Kurt too. You know they all live together in New York? We should all hang out. Maybe even get the old gang together."

She wants to growl that they'll all be together at Brit and Mike's wedding in a month but she restrains herself. "Sure, that sounds great."

- - - - - -

Though Rachel Berry has always been confident in herself, over the years that self assuredness has morphed into a cool, calm, collected confidence. No longer does she remind Santana of a small, yapping dog that needs to be kicked in the face.

And yet, Santana still wants to kick her in the face.

When everyone leans in, hanging on each word of her story. When Puck pats her proudly on the back (because Puck and Rachel plus Kurt are "total bffs").

When Finn touches her arm and asks her a question.

Blood boiling. Seeing red.

Quinn's hand brushes her shoulder. It's a way of saying, "Breathe through it."

That's what she does, even though it's hard.

But then Finn beams at her (after some remark made by Kurt) and she melts.

Not due to the heat at all.

- - - - - -

Santana feels pushed to the limit. As Brit's maid of honor. Who had less than four months to help Brittany plan the wedding.

Sometimes, in the last few weeks before the wedding, Santana believes her head just might actually explode. And then she would have to clean up that mess on top of everything else.

While on one phone with the florist and another with the caterer, two strong arms encircle her waist. Hot breath against her ear. Teeth nibbling on her earlobe. She rushes through the calls, not caring if she just messed up the order for the flowers and the "Chicken, Fish, or Steak?" option (Mike insists on red meat at his wedding and since his parents are footing the bill, Brittany is quick to consent).

"You need to take a break."

A break of the best kind.

- - - - - -

Finn's mom generously offers her house as a place to stay for Brit and Mike's out of town relatives. Meaning that Finn has no where to bunk for two days before the wedding and three days after. Santana's just teasing when she tells him that she's sure she has a spare box lying around somewhere.

Instead, he stays at her house.

On the couch (her dad is quick to make this clear).

Still, he sneaks into her room the night before the nuptials are to take place, sliding between the sheets, arms around her waist, her back flush against his chest.

She feels safe.

"Ready for tomorrow?"

Honestly, she's not. Brit and Mike should've allowed for more time, should've been more considerate, especially since they've asked so much of Santana. But they're all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows so it's hard to be mad at them. "No."

"I'm sure everything will be, you know, fine."

She thinks of Brit walking down the aisle toward Mike and suddenly she has a vision of it being her and Finn.

It hurts knowing that it will never happen.

"What would your dad do if he found me here?"

She smirks. "Load the shotgun."

One of his hands touches the skin on her stomach and she shivers. "Maybe I should leave…"

Though his tone is nothing if not sultry, she's not in the mood. Instead, she pulls his arms tighter around her frame. "No, stay."

He does. All night long. She doesn't sleep much but she's not stressing about the wedding.

She's too busy being comfortable and happy in his arms.

- - - - - -

It's the day of Brit and Mike's wedding.

Though Santana is full of details, details, details, she's not so unaware of her own emotions that she doesn't know two things:

1. Her best friend from high school is getting married in an hour (becoming Brittany Chang) and she's waxing sentimental, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

and

2. Finn's been talking to Rachel ever since she arrived for the bridal party photos, which Santana doesn't like, for obvious reasons.

There's a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

But she's not going to let it spoil Brit and Mike's day.

She can deal with that drama later.

- - - - - -

It went off without a hitch.

Mostly.

The couple has finally left for their honeymoon and Santana just wants to rest in a chair, take off her shoes, maybe drink a little bubbly. Head in hands, she doesn't see him coming. His hands touch her and she jumps, startled. He starts to massage her shoulders and, even though he had been chatting Rachel up earlier, she doesn't stop him.

"Want to dance?"

His words jerk her back to reality, out of the stupor his back rub had put her into. How much time has passed since he first approached her?

"Sure."

It's time to have the talk. The one she's been putting off for too long. Where she's brave and courageous and the bigger person. Where she tells him to go be with Rachel. It's what he wants, right? Taking a deep breath, she begins, pretending that being in his arms doesn't feel like the only place she should be. "Look, Finn, things between us have been great. I mean, I never, ever thought that you and I would date. And for so long. In high school, I always thought you were kind of a dork. And I still do but you're my dork. But you like Rachel and I just can't be second choice-"

Her rambling speech is cut short by his lips. Pressing to hers. Kissing her breathless. His hands roam her back, tingling the bare skin of the space between her shoulder blades.

He tastes like lemonade and champagne and steak.

When he breaks the kiss (the wonderful, glorious kiss), she gasps, groans, leans against his chest to steady herself.

"You're not my second choice."

She wants to believe it but "What about Rachel?"

His knuckles graze her cheekbone as he tilts her head so he can look into her eyes. "Rachel and I are just friends. I thought you would've figured that out. I mean, that you weren't my second choice. That I loved you…love you."

She suddenly understands why people refer to it as "falling" in love. It's a headlong rush for her. "I love you too," she mumbles into his jacket lapel, still not entirely comfortable with opening herself up to someone so much. Even to him.

They sway together for the rest of the night.

In each other's arms.

A perfect fit.

End.