Glee Fan Fiction
Summary: Rachel returns to Lima after having her heart broken last Christmas. Slightly AU…everything in Season 1 has happened in their senior year not sophomore. Finchel of course.
Rating: Rated T for mild cursing and mild sexual content. Nothing too crazy in here but if you're overly sensitive just skip over the third and fourth italicized sections.
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee :(
A/N: I wrote this in ode to the Glee Cast's rendition of Last Christmas, which is available for download on itunes. Get it…it's amazing, just perfect for your holiday playlist. This is a oneshot but if enough people are interested I can turn it into a two...maybe a three shot. I'll let you decide.
Rachel stared out the back window of her father's Volvo as they passed the familiar stores and buildings on W. Market Street. Her plane had landed at Dayton International almost 2 hours ago but it seemed like she'd never been gone at all. The streets were covered with snow, just like they had been this time last year, and Mr. Steigman still gave free gingerbread cookies to the little kids who said Merry Christmas to him. Mr. Wong still went overboard on the Christmas decorations in the window of Big Wong's Chinese Restaurant, the only place you could get Chinese food in Lima, and boys in letterman jackets still threw snowballs at the band geeks. It almost looked like no time had passed at all.
But it's been a year, she reminded herself as her dads chattered happily about how good it was to finally have her home. She suppressed a sigh and tried to tune them out. It's not that she wasn't happy to be home, she was, but being here brought back memories that she wasn't quite ready to face just yet. Ones that she wanted...no needed...to forget if she was ever going to move on with her life.
"Yeah Dad?" She said, shaken from her thoughts as they turned onto N. Metcalf Street, the commercial buildings becoming neat two story houses.
"I said do you really have to go so soon?"
She was only here for three days and her heart tugged a little as she answered yes. She missed her dads a lot and felt a little guilty for wanting to tell them to turn around and take her back to the airport. She had wanted them to visit her in New York for Christmas, that way she'd have more time with them, but there was absolutely no way they could cancel their annual Christmas party. It was a tradition.
"The show must go on," she sighed. "I'm lucky I even got three days off."
Her dad switched hands on the steering wheel and pushed his big square black glasses a little farther up his nose.
"Really David. She's a big Broadway star now," Daddy said from the passenger seat, throwing her a wide smile over his shoulder.
"Daddy," she admonished. "You have to stop saying that."
"Hey, when the New York Times says my little girl is 'the one to watch,' that means you're a big star in my book."
Rachel smiled and looked down at her hands. Her dads had come out to New York in March to see her debut and again in August when she was enrolling at NYU. The Times had done a little story on her that appeared in the Sunday Arts section: Broadway Up and Comer Enrolls at Tisch School of the Arts. At the next night's performance they brought her flowers and gushed to all the fans that had stayed after the show to get her autograph. Daddy still refused to stop talking about it.
"Here we are," Dad announced as they pulled into their driveway. "Home sweet home."
*bum bum bum bum bum*
Her room hadn't changed in the year that she had been away from it either. The bright yellow wallpaper and the pepto bismol pink desk in the corner make her cringe a little as she swung her suitcase onto the bed. There were pink glittered stars hung up amid Broadway show posters from Annie and Grease, and porcelain dolls sitting propped up on a wall shelf above the headboard. It was amazing how much her personal style had changed in the past year. The walls in her Manhattan apartment were dark blue and were adorned with beautiful artwork she'd bought from various street merchants in the city.
Rachel picked up two of the porcelain dolls and inspected them closely, running her thumbs over their painted features. They stared up at her, so naive and innocent, just like she had been once. Her gaze moved to her dresser where she had about a dozen little perfume bottles arranged neatly in front of the large mirror. Leaning against the mirror was a black leather certificate holder that one of her dads must have put there. She set the dolls down and walked over, picking it up. Engraved on it, in gold script, were the letters W.M.H.S. She flipped it open to find her diploma inside. It read: "This certifies that Rachel Barbara Berry has completed the requirements for graduation from William McKinley High School as prescribed by the Board of Education of the County School District of Lima, Ohio, and is hereby awarded this Diploma. Given this 10th day of June 2009." She'd never seen her diploma before, as she wasn't present at her graduation ceremony. Actually, she hadn't been back to high school at all since she moved to New York City last December.
It had all happened so fast. One minute she was celebrating the fact that New Directions had won Nationals and the next she was on her way back to New York to audition for a musical just two days after Christmas. Michael Mayer, the director, had loved her and wanted her to start rehearsals right away. The girl Rachel would be replacing had accepted a role in the traveling production of Hair and her last day would be the first Sunday in March, meaning that Rachel only had two short months to prepare for her Broadway debut.
Rachel's dads were apprehensive at first. Neither Rachel nor her dads had realized that she would need to start rehearsals right away. It was a really big decision. They couldn't just pick up and move to New York. They had jobs and responsibilities in Lima and they weren't too keen on the idea of her living in the city on her own. She hadn't even finished high school.
But they knew that being a Broadway star was her dream and that they had to make it work...so they did. Her dads stayed in New York for almost three weeks, setting her up in a small studio apartment in Chinatown, buying her food, furniture, and lots of pepper spray. They'd worked out a deal with Principal Figgins and the School Board Superintendent that allowed her to finish high school via e-mail. Since she was an honors student she'd already taken all five of her standardized state graduation tests in late November and early December and she only had to pass her current courses in order to graduate. Her teachers e-mailed her lessons and her assignments and she e-mailed them back.
Rachel closed the certificate holder and put it down where she found it. She was about to turn back to her bed so that she could start unpacking her suitcase but stopped as she spotted the snow globe sitting next to her pink CD player. It was a medium sized one and inside there was a big Christmas tree with an ice skating rink next to it, tiny plastic people skating on the ice. She picked it up and shook it, feeling sorrow build up in her chest as she watched it snow, the glittery flakes sinking to the bottom. This is why she didn't want to come home. She didn't want to face the past.
"Do you miss him?"
Rachel whipped her head up to see her dad leaning against the doorframe.
"Who?" Her hand tightening on the snow globe.
"Dad," she sighed. "You can't believe everything you read. Josh and I aren't dating. We work together. We're just friends."
He nodded, looking at her as if she was supposed to say something more.
"Are you okay?" He finally asked, adjusting his glasses again, the way he did when he was concerned about something. "You seemed so excited to come home on the phone but now you—"
"I am excited," she said, cutting him off and pushing up the corners of her mouth into a smile. Somehow she knew it didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Are you sure Honey? Because if there's something wrong, you know you can always talk to us."
"I'm fine Dad. Really, I'm great." She put the snow globe down and moved to her suitcase, unzipping it and throwing it open.
"Okay," he said, crossing his arms over his chest like he really didn't believe her. "It's Christmas Eve. Do you have any plans?"
"No. I just want to sit with you and Daddy by the fire and drink hot cocoa…and make my famous oatmeal raisin cookies for the party tomorrow, of course."
"Oh!" He said as if he were just remembering something. "We forgot to get the ingredients you need for the cookies."
Rachel frowned at that. Had they already forgotten about her cookies? She made them every year.
"Don't worry Honey. It's only 2:30. Daisy's is open until 5 today."
Great, she thought, pleased with the suggestion. Grocery shopping, a perfect way to distract herself from the past.
*bum bum bum bum bum*
Daisy's Discount Groceries was packed and it took Rachel over 45 minutes to push her way through the throngs of people and collect everything she needed for the cookies. She saw some people that she knew, or rather people that knew her, and often had to stop to talk. She politely answered their questions about New York and her life there before excusing herself, saying she had to get the oatmeal or baking soda before someone took all of it. Once she loaded up her grocery basket with the things she needed she headed towards the check out line.
"Rachel?" Someone said from behind her. She suppressed an annoyed groan and turned to see who had called her name.
"Mrs. Hudson?" Rachel gasped, shocked. Her eyes darted around and she nearly sighed in relief as she realized Finn was nowhere in sight.
"Oh my goodness. It's so good to see you! You look so good." The older woman gushed. "What are you doing here?"
Rachel just stood there stupidly, taking the woman in. The last time Rachel had seen her, the night she left for New York, she'd been plump, with curly reddish brown hair. She had answered the door wearing her scrubs and had taken the letter that Rachel had written for Finn. The woman standing before now her was thin and she was wearing dark wash jeans and a fitted red wool coat. Her hair was straight and a darker, almost chestnut, brown.
"Uh, I'm just buying some things for our Christmas party," Rachel said when she realized she'd been asked a question.
"I meant what are you doing in Lim--" Mrs. Hudson's face twisted into a confused frown. "Aren't you Jewish?"
"Yes. Well, Dad is but Daddy isn't. We always have a big Christmas Party. It's pretty much the only Christian holiday we celebrate. It's sort of like tradition."
"Oh, that's nice."
Rachel smiled. She was actually looking forward to the party. Her whole family was coming...even Nana Rebekah. Daddy always insisted that Dad's family come too, even though they were Jewish. Nana never liked Daddy but usually made it a point to show up to their parties and complain about something. Daddy was always gracious in spite of it, and he even made a big show of lighting the menorah for her whenever Hanukkah fell during Christmas. He usually let Rachel hold the Shamus candle while he said the blessing in perfect Hebrew with the rest of her Jewish family.
"Hey Mom, I couldn't find…"
Rachel's smile died on her lips as Finn appeared at his mother's side.
"Finn," she choked out.
He looked almost as shocked as she was but recovered enough to give her a small smile.
"How are you?" He said. A mix of emotions exploded in her chest and didn't know whether she wanted to throw her arms around him, slap him, or just turn and walk away.
"I'm good," she said instead, putting on a smile. "How about you?"
"That's great...I'm...I'm okay." He hadn't changed much since they last saw each other. He only looked a little older and if possible a little taller.
Finn's mom shifted her weight uncomfortably, her gaze darting between them. She mumbled something about getting on line and took the carton of milk from Finn's hands before walking away.
Rachel felt heat on her cheeks as Finn's eyes darted everywhere. He seemed to be attempting to take her in all at once, as if she was suddenly going to disappear.
"You're hair is different," he said putting his hands deep in his pockets.
"Yeah." She said, resisting the urge to touch it.
"I..uh…I almost didn't recognize you."
"Well…it's been a year. It doesn't surprise me." She said it with a touch of resentment but Finn didn't seem to notice. He just nodded and stared at her.
The silence stretched out in between them and she tried to say something. She opened her mouth but closed it before anything came out. There were so many things she wanted to say. So many questions she wanted to ask. The first one being why? Why did he do it?
"I should…" she gestured towards the check out line.
"Oh, yeah. Uh, let me help you," he said, taking a step forward, extending his arm. Hesitantly she handed him the basket before turning to get on a line. She didn't know what he was doing. She didn't know what she was doing either. If she were smart she would just tell him to go away…but she wasn't sure if she wanted him to leave or not.
"Your mom looks great," she said as they stood on line together.
"Yeah. I guess me going away to college was a good thing. She's finally had time to take care of herself for a change."
"Oh. Where do you go?" She asked, looking up at him. He was looking down at her and he seemed a little lost.
"Ohio State," he finally said. "Not very far."
"Yeah…I'm sure the program is nothing compared to the one at Tisch but it's pretty good."
He knew. He knew that she'd been accepted to Tisch. How did he know that?
"Yeah," she said awkwardly.
They waited in silence until it was her turn to pay. He loaded her items on the conveyor belt and bagged them as she handed the cashier the money.
"Are you doing anything tonight?" He asked as she put her wallet back into her purse.
"Just going to bake cookies."
"Oh," he said, carrying her shopping bags as they went outside. It had started snowing again. White fluffy flakes came down and got stuck in his hair.
"You should come on over to Quinn's house tonight. She's having a Christmas Eve party."
"Finn," she sighed. "I don't think—"
"You haven't seen the baby. And there are going to be a couple of guys from the Glee club there. I know they'll be happy to see you."
It wasn't a good idea, she knew that. She should say no, thank you. No, thank you. She opened her mouth to say it…
"Okay. I'll come," she heard herself say. God, why couldn't she ever say no to him?
His eyes lit up and a slow smile spread across his face. That smile, she hadn't seen that smile in so long. It gave her chills that had nothing to do with the cold and made her remember the last time he had smiled at her like that, the last time they stood in the freezing cold, snow floating down all around them.
"Come on Finn!" She laughed, pulling him by the hand. He was much bigger than her and all her tugging got her nowhere.
"I dunno Rach. I'm not very good at this," He whined.
"When are we going to be able to do this again?" She asked, gesturing behind her at the gigantic 72 foot tall Christmas tree standing on the street level above the rink, twinkling with thousands and thousands of Christmas lights. The tall skyscrapers all around them stretched toward the night sky, a light snowfall covering everything in a white sheen.
New Directions had done what no one thought possible. They'd won Nationals and they'd done it on one of the most famous stages in the world: Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was incredible. Performing on that stage was everything Rachel hoped it would be. Having Finn by her side, singing with him, their voices melting together, filling the theater, had meant so much to her.
To celebrate Mr. Schuster took them all around the corner to The Rockefeller Café at Rockefeller Center for dinner and they decided to go ice-skating after dessert. Everybody was already out there with the exception of Tina and Puck, who elected to stay in the lounge with Artie and Quinn since they couldn't ice skate.
"Finn," Rachel said, tugging on his arm as worry crossed his face. When he looked down, she gave him her most reassuring smile. "I won't let anything happen to you."
Finn sighed and nodded his head, allowing her to pull him toward the rental counter.
Rachel giggled as Finn shuffled along, holding onto the side railing tightly as the other skaters zoomed past them. He grabbed her hand and shot her a frown as Kurt and Mercedes passed them, almost bumping into them. They flew by singing loudly to NSync's 'Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays' as it played over the loud speakers.
"Come on, you can do this," Rachel said, moving to skate in front of him so she was skating backwards, leading him along. She reached out for his other hand, moving them away from the wall. About half way around the rink Finn started to relax and he actually looked like he was having fun, which made Rachel happy. He'd been through so much in the past few months since he found out that he wasn't the father of Quinn's baby. He hadn't spoken to either Puck or Quinn since and Rachel knew he was still hurting. When she had heard the news she hoped that it meant that her and Finn could finally be together but so far it hadn't happened. He said that he liked her, he liked her a lot, but he just wasn't ready to get into a relationship, not after…That's okay, she'd say. She could wait. She could be supportive and she could wait.
They were moving so slowly that Rachel was able to catch Quinn's eye as they passed the lounge. Her four teammates sat in a booth in front of the window. Quinn was sitting on the end, drinking from an oversized mug. Puck sat next to her, one arm around her shoulders, holding her to his side, and the other hand gestured animatedly at Artie and Tina. They weren't dating but apparently he was trying to be a good dad, supporting Quinn as best as he could. Quinn raised her cup to her and Rachel returned the nod with a sympathetic smile. Quinn knew how Rachel felt about Finn and even though she didn't like the idea of them together, she was grateful that someone was taking care of him.
Finn must have followed Rachel's gaze because somehow he lost his concentration and his balance, slipping, and falling right onto his back. Rachel almost fell too but she let his hands go, spreading her arms out to steady herself.
"Oh, are you okay?" She asked, as people skidded left and right, trying to avoid them. He looked like he fell pretty hard.
He didn't answer, just grunting in reply as he sat up. Rachel offered him a hand but he ignored it and tried to get up himself. He fell a couple more times before allowing her to help him.
"Where are you going?" Rachel asked as he started to shuffle towards the exit.
"I don't want to do this," he answered curtly, his eyes darting between the exit and the window of the lounge. Quinn was still staring at them.
"Finn, people fall all the time. I thought we were having fun," she said, grabbing him by the arm. He shrugged her off, steadying himself as he wobbled.
"Just stop it Rachel." He was angry.
"I'll…I'll just see you later, okay?" he said, leaving her alone on the ice.
She'd been looking for Finn for almost 20 minutes and finally found him standing near the tree, leaning against the railing, on the street level. He looked across his shoulder as Rachel pushed through a group of spectators and stood next to him, turning his gaze back to the skaters below without a word. Rachel let out a dejected sigh and let her gaze fall downward too. The skaters looked smaller from this height, her and Finn had to be at least two stories up, but she could still pick out a couple of her teammates. She saw Brittney in her pink bubble jacket and Kurt stuck out because of his red Kangol hat. She could see Ms. Pillsbury's red hair and smiled a little as she realized that she was skating hand in hand with Mr. Schuster. Rachel had known the two liked each other and she was glad that they were finally able to be together..
"You looked beautiful out there," Finn said quietly, interrupting her thoughts. She turned to look at him, unsure if she had heard him correctly over the Christmas music and din made by hundreds of people milling about on the plaza. His eyes were soft and warm. "I didn't know you could ice skate."
"I was 12 when Sarah Hughes won Olympic gold. For that whole year all I wanted to do was be a figure skater. The only turn I ever really mastered is the upright spin," she said, her heart expanding in her chest until she thought she couldn't breath. After Finn left her on the ice, she needed to clear her head, and give him some time to cool off, so she had twirled around a bit before going to find him. It filled her to the brim with emotion to know that he'd been watching and that he thought she was beautiful. She wanted to tell him this but she couldn't. Right now she needed to talk to him about Quinn and the baby.
"You have to let this go," she said. "You can't keep holding onto this anger."
Finn's eyes turned hard again, his lips thinning until they formed a straight line. He looked away from her, shaking his head as if to say he didn't want to talk about it.
"It's been months Finn. I know you don't want to talk about it but, you have to let—"
"He took her from me Rachel," he growled. "He took her. What do you want me to do? Get over it? I can't."
"No," she said softly, touching his arm. "He took Quinn from you...but you can still be in the baby's life."
He turned to look at her again, one eyebrow cocked up.
"Quinn loves you and if you still feel the same," Rachel started, even though the back of her throat and her eyes burned as she spoke. "Puck might be the father but a step dad is just as important."
Finn's eyes widened as he let Rachel's words sink in.
"No, Rach, that's not what I...I don't want to be with—"
"I just want you to be happy," she interrupted him. Whether it's with me or without me, she thought.
"I know," was all he said and she ignored the disappointment tugging at her heart.
They were both silent for a few minutes.
"Puck is your best friend," she tried again. "You grew up together. You're like brothers. And maybe...I mean, I'm sure he'd agree with me when I say you'd be a kick ass uncle."
Finn just stared at her for a moment before a slow smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. She hadn't seen this smile in a while, the smile he had when he was up to no good, the smile that made her fall for him again and again.
"What?" She asked, scrunching up her face in confusion. Why was he smiling like that?
"Did you just curse?"
Now it was her turn to smile. "No."
"Yeah you did." His smile getting bigger at her lie. "You just said ass."
"No I didn't. One should never curse. It's vile and there are other, more eloquent ways to express one's self. Now come on," she said gesturing behind him toward a coffee cart. "You can buy a hot chocolate. It's freezing."
Finn nodded and put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her against his side.
"I like it when you talk dirty," he said, his smile even bigger, as he lead her past the giant Christmas tree toward the coffee cart.
*bum bum bum bum bum*
Rachel smeared clear lip gloss over her lips with her finger and threw the tube into the makeup case she had open on the vanity in front of her, taking a step back to inspect herself.
Her hair had highlights now and was a little shorter than what it had been. Charlie Yin, her friend and makeup artist, had taken her to his hairdresser, KiKi Dee, and had talked her into changing her look. The first time she'd meet him, the day of her very first dress rehearsal, he offered to give her a makeover.
"Now, don't you just look like a lost little lamb from Small Town USA," he had said, brushing fine powder on her cheeks, her forehead, down her nose.
"I do?" She'd asked, taken aback. He didn't even know her.
"Yeah, it's kind of tragic."
Rachel looked straight into the mirror in front of her, taking in her features. She did look lost, scared, lonely.
"I don't want to look like a lost little lamb. I want to look like a Broadway star," she'd said with a sigh, making him laugh.
"Do you want to come over later?" He'd asked, fingering her limp brown hair? "I can help you with your look."
"I don't know," she'd said, unsure as to why he'd want to help her. She'd been living in the city for a few months and she found that New Yorkers weren't really all that nice.
"Oh, Sweetheart, I don't bite...Well, I do, but your not my type."
She was used to lonely, she wasn't exactly popular in high school, but she knew that what shone in her eyes was a different kind of lonely. It was a boy shaped lonely. She'd said yes to Charlie because deep down she knew that he wasn't going to come for her. She'd be better off if she got that through her head so she accepted Charlie's invitation. It had actually turned out to be fun and nothing like the makeover Kurt had once given her.
Rachel tilted her head and absent-mindedly brushed her bangs out of her eyes as she took in her figure. She was thinner than she had been when she first left home, probably due to eating nothing but ramen noodles, and her breasts looked fuller thanks to the push up bra Charlie had introduced her to. She was wearing a long sleeve black dress that hit her mid-thigh over black leggings, with a thick black belt around her waist. The black leather knee high boots had a four-inch heel, making her look taller. She looked good but...the person staring back at her was not the Rachel Berry from high school, and for a second that worried her. It's a good thing, she reasoned, as no one had liked the Rachel Berry from high school anyway.
Finn had, a small voice inside her head told her.
"I don't care what Finn thinks," she said aloud. God, when did she start talking to herself?
Yes you do, it told her.
"No." She shook her head as if to clear it. This afternoon, when she ran into Finn at the market, she was shocked and a lot of old feelings slipped out but she knew better than to look too closely at the past. She'd closed that door already. He clearly wanted to be friends. He had invited her to the party because he obviously wanted to put the past behind them. She wanted that too. That's why she had cut and dyed her hair, to put the past behind her. What happened last year was last year.
Knock, knock, knock. Rachel stood from the couch as she heard the knock at the door. Great Uncle Gabriel was a little drunk and she was glad for an excuse get away from him. Watching him dance around in his Santa suit had just about scarred her for life. Knock, knock, knock.
"I'm coming," she said as she pulled the door open. She was shocked to see Finn on the other side.
"Merry Christmas," he said, smiling down at her.
"Merry Christmas," she replied, opening the door wider so that he could come in. "What are you doing here?"
He wiped his feet thoroughly on the doormat before looking at her.
"I got you something," he held a gift bag out to her, which she accepted. "And, I need to talk to you."
Rachel's eyes flickered over his face, curious as to what was so important that he couldn't just call her. His cheeks were flushed from the cold night air and he didn't look upset. In fact, he looked like he was in a great mood.
"Okay." She took his hand and led him upstairs.
Rachel sat on her bed and smooth her red and green plaid skirt. Finn sat next to her, facing her, close to her. One foot planted on the floor, the other hanging off the side of her bed. Now he looked nervous.
"I talked to Quinn today," he said, letting it hang in the air. "We are going to work it out."
Rachel's heart seized but she forced a smile on her face. "Wow...that's...that's great."
"You were right," he said, taking her hand, running his thumb over her knuckles. "I'm going to make a kick ass uncle."
Rachel blinked, relief flooding through her, and she let out a shaky laugh. "Yes you are."
Finn pointed at the bag that she had put down next to her and told her to open it. She picked it up and dug through the red and green tissue paper, pulling out a snow globe.
"Rockefeller Center," she said, looking up into his face. His eyes were warm and there was something there that she didn't quite know how to read. He had never looked at her like this before, like he was seeing her for the first time. Giving her a small smile, he took it from her and shook it before giving it back. They watched as the glittery snowflakes fell to the bottom.
"Rachel, you're the amazing person I've ever met." He reached over and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since we came back from New York."
"You haven't?" Her heart was suddenly hammering in her ears. Where was he going with this?
"No and it's kind of been driving me crazy," he said. "You never quit on me, Rach. Not even when I was acting like a jerk and…and I've never told you how much I appreciate you"
"You never acted," she tried to interrupt but her voice cracked as tears welled up in her eyes.
"After Quinn, I couldn't...ya know. It was just hard...to trust." He stopped to search her watery eyes. "But I realized that I know you...not like in the I know who you are way but...I know you you."
A tear hit her cheek and he brushed it away with his thumb before leaning over, kissing the spot where the tear had been. Rachel sucked in a breath as he buried his hands in her hair. "I don't know what took me so long to do this."
"This," he whispered, brushing his lips against hers once, twice, three times before touching her lips with his tongue. Rachel opened for him and shivered when his tongue touched hers. The kiss was slow and sweet as they adjusted, tasting each other for the first time. Peppermint. Now she knew he tasted like peppermint.
She pulled away, needing to breathe. He gave her a second to suck air into her lungs before drawing her back, slipping his tongue inside her mouth again. It was better than anything Rachel had ever experienced. Of course, she'd kissed Finn before but those kisses were hesitant, ridden with guilt. This was...it was...passionate and free. Rachel's hands found Finn's chest and she balled up her hands in his shirt. She was tingling all over and hot liquid pooled in her abdomen, heating up her body temperature. Finn seemed to be feeling the same because he tilted his head to the side, deepening the kiss, making it more urgent. One of his hands left her hair, traveling down to her breast and heat shot through her.
"Finn," she gasped, pulling back before he could take this any farther.
"I know. I'm sorry. Too fast," he breathed.
"No, that was...good. " She looked up into his eyes, the same wanting, the same need she felt was reflected back at her. "I want to. It's just...." She looked pointedly at her open door.
Nodding, she took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. "People are going to start wondering where I am. But...you...you could come back."
Finn's eyebrows shot up. Rachel smiled, looking at the clock. It was almost 10:30 pm.
"Come back at 1," she said, kissing him one last time.
*bum bum bum bum bum*
Rachel rode up the elevator of an old apartment building located on the edge of town. She was holding a plate of cookies in her hands that she'd baked with her dads upon returning from the market as she wouldn't be spending the night with them after all. She'd practically begged them to tell her not to go but they wouldn't hear of her staying home on their account.
"Are you sure Daddy?" She'd said when she came down the stairs. He just helped her into her coat and kissed her on the forehead.
"Have a good time Sweetheart."
"Dad?" She tried again. "I've missed you guys so much...and I wanted to spend as much time with you as possible."
"You'll spend all day with us tomorrow. Don't drink and drive," he said, giving her a knowing smile.
The elevator dinged and the doors opened on the fourth floor. A sign pointed her in the direction of 4G and when she reached the door she pushed the doorbell. Behind the door she could hear music and the sounds of people within.
What am I doing here, she wondered. She and Quinn had never been great friends and if Quinn had really wanted her to see the baby she could have sent her some pictures. Rachel doubted whether anyone from Glee was that anxious to see her. No, they probably weren't going to be very excited to see her at all. She'd become a Broadway star just like she always said she would be...maybe they would think that her showing up was her way of rubbing it in their faces.
You're here to see Finn. That voice was getting to be really annoying. She was about to tell it to buzz off but the door swung open.
"Hey, come on in," a familiar face said, opening the door wider for her.
"Hello Noah," Rachel said, holding out the plate of cookies for him. He smiled distractedly as he closed the door before doing a double take.
"Berry? Holy shit."
She smiled, unsure if she should take that as a complement. Noah Puckerman was still the same. All muscles, oozing badassness, in his figure hugging red polo shirt and fitted jeans. He'd lost the mohawk and let his hair grow out a little bit.
"Wow, I guess New York is agreeing with you."
"Yes it is."
"Ooo, I remember these," he said taking the plate of cookies from her. "Just throw your coat in the closet."
Rachel thanked him and hung her coat up in the closet next to the door.
The front door opened to a living room, which was packed with young college aged people. There wasn't much furniture. A blue sofa and a matching loveseat, a shabby coffee table, and about a dozen folding chairs. A small Christmas tree was set in the far corner next to a television set and decorations had been hung up all over the beige walls. People were standing all over the place, some were dancing in the center of the room. Rachel had never been to a college party before, not even the one's her fellow theater majors were always having. She didn't really have the time.
"You have a lovely home," she said looking around. "The pool cleaning business must be good."
"Business is good," he chuckled. "But it ain't the pool cleaning business. I've got my own landscaping business now. Come on, I think Quinn is in the kitchen with the baby."
Rachel followed Puck through the living room and into the kitchen, where more people had congregated around platters of cheese and chips and dip that sat on the kitchen counter. The whole place was bigger than her apartment and it probably cost way less, she mused. Puck was 19, same age as her, and it looked like he'd done well for his family. Rachel was truly happy for them.
Quinn, who clearly had not lost her baby weight, was sitting at the small table near the back of the kitchen. In front of her was a high chair, in it a little pink baby, with a mass of blond hair, was drinking from a bottle. Quinn looked up as Rachel and Puck approached, a shocked smile lit up her face.
"Rachel, hi." Quinn stood up and awkwardly hugged her former teammate. "Finn said you looked different but I wasn't prepared for this."
"Thank you," Rachel said graciously, casting her eyes downward at the baby.
"This is Willa Marie," Quinn cooed. "Can you say hi to Rachel, Willa?"
The baby looked up a Rachel with big blue eyes. Definitely Quinn's eyes.
"After Mr. Schu," Puck told her.
"He's been so amazing," Quinn said, sitting back down.
Yeah, Mr. Schuster has been there for her too this past year. Rachel kept in close phone and email contact with and in the beginning she'd talked to him about what happened between her and Finn, minus a few personal details. He'd given her his ear...on several tearful occasions, and told her to give Finn time, that he'd come around. He hadn't of course and Rachel made Mr. Schuster promise not to talk to her about Finn anymore. Reluctantly he'd promised.
"She's beautiful," Rachel said honestly. Quinn smiled up at her with tired eyes.
Someone called Puck's name and he left the two women alone. Rachel pulled out a chair and sat to play with the baby. Willa giggled as Rachel made a funny face.
"She likes you," Quinn said.
Rachel smiled. She liked Willa too. She couldn't believe that she was sitting in Quinn Fabray's kitchen, playing with a baby that everybody had once thought was Finn's. It all seemed a little unreal.
"So how do you like New York?"
"Oh, I love it," Rachel said, letting the little girl hold onto her finger. "I still get kind of lost using the subway system but it's just great. It's a whole other world there."
"That's wonderful Rachel," Quinn said sincerely. "We're all really proud of you, you know. Especially Finn."
Rachel's breath hitched and a fist seemed to tighten around her heart. Finn was proud of her?
"I don't think I'm suppose to tell you," Quinn continued, oblivious to Rachel's reaction, "but he's got a google alert on your name. We saw that article they did on you in the New York paper."
"Oh, yeah?" Rachel said, unsure of what to say. That's how Finn had known about Tisch...but it also meant he probably read a lot of other things about her...like her rumored fling with her co-star Josh Graham. Quinn said something else but Rachel didn't catch it. Finn was proud of her...and he was keeping tabs on her. Why would he do that? He'd blown her off. He never answered her letter. She'd practically wrapped up her heart and sent it with a note saying I love you. I meant it, she thought. But he clearly didn't...so why was he—
"I never really thanked you Rachel," Quinn said, touching her arm and bringing her out of her thoughts.
"For what?" Rachel blinked.
"For being so nice to me," Quinn started, taking in a deep breath. "I was awful to you the first three years of high school and in the end you were nothing but kind to me."
"It really wasn't that big a—"
"Yes it was," Quinn said. "You brought me to the Glee Club and...and you gave me Finn back. I don't think he would have ever talked to me again, if it wasn't for you. I got my best friend back and Willa got to have him in her life."
"Quinn, I really didn't do—" Rachel tried again but this time was cut off by Willa's squeal.
Quinn wiped at her eyes with the back of her hands before addressing her daughter. "And you, missy...you need to go to bed. It's way past your bed time."
Willa squealed again, as if to say no, she was way too excited to go to bed. Quinn chucked and stood up, undoing the straps of her high chair.
"Oh, can I?" Rachel asked.
"Of course," Quinn said. Rachel stood and Quinn handed her the baby.
"Oh, you are so precious," she cooed, cradling Willa against her chest. She had never had an interest in anything that couldn't sing and dance but there was something about this little girl that she automatically loved. Rachel felt a strange connection to her.
"Let's put this little rugrat to bed," Quinn said leading them through the kitchen, several people stopping them to fawn over the baby. Rachel was just getting to the kitchen door, Quinn ahead of her, when Finn stepped in. Rachel froze when she saw him. For some reason she desperately wanted to hide behind someone.
"Finally," Quinn said pulling him down for a hug. "I was just about to put your niece to bed."
Finn wrapped an arm around Quinn, his eyes locking with Rachel's over her shoulder. She couldn't help noticing how good he looked. His hair was gelled up and he was wearing black slacks and a navy blue button up shirt with a dark tie hanging loosely around his neck. Something crossed his face before an easy smile lifted his mouth. God help her, she was a little weak in the knees. His eyes never left hers as he let go of Quinn and took two steps toward her and the baby, closing the distance between them.
"Give me a kiss," he said before his eyes flickered down at Willa. He leaned over and kissed the girl on the forehead. He was so close, she could smell his cologne, it was making her kind of dizzy.
"You look amazing," he said, lifting his eyes back to hers.
"Is this okay," Rachel asked as she closed her bedroom door. Finn sat on her bed, the light from her bedside lamp bathing him and the rest of her room in a pale rosy light. He'd come on time. 1 o'clock in the morning, just like they'd agreed.
The last person left her house around midnight and she'd hurriedly helped her dads clean up, shooing them off to bed just 15 minutes before Finn arrived. Thankfully they were exhausted and within minutes they were snoring.
"Yeah, you look amazing," Finn said, holding out his hand, gesturing for her to come to him. She smiled and walked over, standing in front of him. With two fingers he traced the baby pink lace of her top, which barely covered her cleavage.
"I like this," his gaze heating up her skin. She was wearing a lace tank and short shorts. She'd bought them months ago, when Kurt had taken her shopping for her 'makeover.' At the time she was hesitant to buy them, no one in their right might would call these pajamas, but now, for once, she was glad she'd listened to him.
Finn's hand moved to her hip, pulling her closer so that she was standing between his legs, his up turned face just inches away from her chest. She leaned down and pressed her lips against his. He responded immediately, his arms wrapping around her, pulling her down so that she was somehow straddling his lap. She could feel his erection through his jeans, making her own spot tight...painfully tight. His lips left her mouth and traveled down her jaw to her neck. With one hand he moved her hair, baring more of her skin. He gently bit her and his arm tightened around her waist as she let out a quiet moan. His lips were on hers again, his tongue diving into her mouth, touching hers than retreating, touching and retreating.
He pulled back. "You're so beautiful."
"Th..thanks," she managed, heat creeping up her neck and into her cheeks. "Excuse me," she said, trying to move around him as Willa wiggled in her arms, trying to get to Finn.
Instead of moving out of her way he stood there, staring down at her, as if he was remembering the same thing she was remembering.
"Excuse me," she said again, needing to get away from him. He reached out and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, his thumb brushing her cheek, before moving to talk to someone behind her.
*bum bum bum bum bum*
Peering into the kitchen Rachel saw that he was still in there and that was talking to a pretty, petite blond, who hit him playfully on the arm and batted her eyelashes at him. His back was to the door so Rachel easily slipped passed, moving into the living room. She'd stayed in Quinn's small bedroom for over 15 minutes, listening as she read Willa a story about a bear and a moon. She'd finally had to leave when Willa nodded off in her crib and Quinn got up to shut off the lights. I'm hiding, Rachel realized as she moved to the corner of the crowded living room, a group of people blocking her view of the kitchen door.
She wasn't sure why, but Finn was acting very strange. He wasn't acting like he wanted to be her friend. None of her friends had ever looked at her the way Finn had looked at her, like he wanted to kiss her. She could have been imagining it, but she didn't think so, and she was definitely not going to let Finn kiss her. She knew what a fool she'd been, to think that Finn had actually loved her, and she was honest enough with herself to know that if he kissed her now, he'd fool her again. She was determined to avoid him until she'd spent a socially acceptable amount of time at this party. Then she was going home.
The world around them was motionless, quiet, almost nonexistent. The only thing Rachel could concentrate on was their labored breathing and the places where their skin stuck together. Finn was still on top of her, still buried inside her, holding his weight up by his elbows. He leaned his forehead against hers, trying to catch his breath.
"Are you okay," he whispered, pulling his head back to look into her eyes. Yes, she nodded, unable to speak. The amount of emotion building up in her chest was too much.
Finn kissed her on the mouth before slowly pulling out and standing up to go into the bathroom. The faucet turned on and Rachel sat up in bed, pulling her sheets up to cover her body. It'd been her first time...and his first time, their first time. It had felt hot and dizzy and painful but sweet and incredible all at once.
Finn shut off the water and came back into her room, stopping to collect their clothes. He looked thoughtful, almost serious, as he dropped them in a confused pile on the bed. Rachel took in his expression and panic filled her. What if he didn't like it? She was inexperienced, more inexperienced then him, and maybe...maybe he had expected more.
"Do you want me to stay a little longer?" He asked, putting on his boxers and his white undershirt.
She nodded again, pulling her own lacy top over her head. She reached for her panties but he beat her to it, taking them in his large hand and pulling the covers off of her, exposing her legs and feet.
"Lay down," he said. She didn't know what he was doing, but she did as he asked and he knelt in front of her on the bed, slipping her panties on. He kissed her ankle, the side of her knee, all the way up her outer thigh to her hip, his hands following as he slowly slid her panties up, putting them on in a very different way than he had taken them off.
"Was it okay?" Rachel blurted out, lifting up her bottom so he could bring them all the way up. She couldn't contain it anymore, his kisses doing nothing to subdue her anxiety. He picked his head up and confusion was written all over his face, as if he didn't know why she was asking.
"It was...it was," he struggled to find the word, moving to lay on his side next to her, pulling her body up against his so that they were facing each other, their legs tangled together.
"It was...really good," he finally said. A lopsided grin touched his lips for a moment before his face turned serious again. Rachel allowed herself to relax a little bit, convinced that she didn't do anything too bad, but she was still sure that something had upset him.
"What's wrong?" She looked up into his face.
His arm tightened around her waist and his eyes searched hers as if he were trying to decide whether or not to tell her.
"You can tell me anything Finn," she added softly, touching his cheek. Maybe he was thinking of the baby.
"I think I'm falling in love with you," he said slowly, letting it hang in the air before continuing. "You're sweet and caring, and you're so talented. You know what you want and you're not afraid to go after it. Rachel, you're going to make it and...and you make me feel like I can make it too."
"You are going to make it," she whispered, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. She'd waited so long to hear those words. "And, I think I'm falling in love with you too."
Finn pulled her against his chest, her head tucking in underneath his chin. She sighed into him, determined to stay that way for as long as possible.
Rachel's head shot up as a man in a navy blue shirt stepped in front of her. It wasn't Finn, she realized as she looked up into bright blue eyes.
"Excuse me," he said.
"Yes?" She responded. The man in front of her was just a few inches taller than her. He had dirty blond hair and was handsome, in a boyish, clean cut sort of way. He looked like an Armani model she'd seen on a billboard in Times Square once.
"Hi. I'm sorry. I was standing over there," he said, throwing a thumb over his shoulder. "And couldn't help notice that you look…sad. Are you alright?"
"Are you sure?" He said, offering her a smile. "Cause you're way too beautiful to be looking so sad. And…it's Christmas Eve. No one should be sad on Christmas Eve."
"Really, I'm fine," Rachel giggled at the obvious pick up line.
"Now that's better. I'm Dan by the way," he said, sticking out his hand.
"I'm Rachel," she said, taking it. His hand was small but warm and smooth.
"Do you go to OSU?" He asked. "I've never seen you around."
"No, I live in New York. Quinn, Puck, and I went to high school together."
"Ah, so you're home for the holiday break?"
"Just for Christmas," she said, shaking her head. "I've got to work so I'm heading back in a couple of days."
"Oh, I see. That's rad though, that you at least get to come home for the holiday," he said, flashing her straight, bright white teeth. "My parents went off to the Africa on some teachers without boarders thing so I'm not going home."
"You'll be alone on Christmas? That's so sad." Rachel loved the holidays. It was really nice that his parents went to educate others but to leave their son alone for Christmas…
"Nah, I won't be alone. Quinn's letting me crash her Christmas this year."
"Really? Oh, that's nice. How do you know Quinn?"
"Yeah, Quinn's pretty cool, we've become good friends. We both work in the day and take night classes...and since there's not a lot of options when you take night classes we're in like 3 classes together."
"It's hard isn't it? I work a full time job and I'm in school too."
"Oh, what do you do?"
Rachel opened her mouth to answer but was cut off.
Both her and Dan turned their heads to see Finn standing next to them. Rachel tensed up and Dan smiled, both guys oblivious to her discomfort.
"Hey man! What's up?"
The two guys slapped hands.
"Nothin' much," Finn replied.
"How'd you do in Spitzer's class? She's a ball buster isn't she?"
"Yeah, she is but I did good. You were right, asking for the extra credit assignment really helped."
Dan grinned and Finn turned his attention to Rachel.
"Can I steal you away for a minute," he asked, placing his hand on her elbow, ready to lead her away without waiting for her answer.
Rachel's eyes narrowed. All day she'd been wondering how she was supposed to feel about him, about what happened between them and she hadn't really been able to come up with an answer. Now she realized she was angry. She'd laid her heart open for him. She'd given herself to him and then he ignored her. Now he wanted her again? Now...after all this time?
"Actually," she said, jerking her arm out of his grasp. "Dan and I were talking and I was just about to ask him to dance."
"Dan," Rachel said sweetly, cutting Finn off. "Would you like to dance?"
Dan's gaze flickered between her and Finn for a moment. "Ah, sure."
"Great," she smiled, taking his hand and leading him to the middle of the living room where other people were dancing.
Rachel moved her body to the music, trying to keep her focus entirely on Dan. She could feel Finn's gaze on her as if he was physically touching her but she didn't want to look at him. She shook her hips and allowed Dan to put his hands on her waist. She could see Finn out of the corner of her eye. He was standing where they had left him, his arms crossed over his chest and his eyebrows knotted together in a seemingly angry frown. His anger made her's anger worse. He'd slept with her and then avoided her, damn it. He hadn't called, he hadn't answered her calls, and he hadn't answered her letter. Now, all of a sudden, he wanted her attention.
The music changed and Frank Sinatra's voice filled the room. A few people turned to sit down as White Christmas played and they were replaced by couples.
"Do you want to?" Dan asked, a charming smile tugging at his lips.
"Sure," she said as Quinn and Puck stopped near them. Puck dipped Quinn before kissing her on the mouth.
Dan took one of Rachel's hands in his and fastened the other one at her hip, pushing them into motion. If Rachel weren't so mad at Finn, she'd ask him what the deal was with those Puck and Quinn. Mr. Schu had told her they'd been on and off for a while but the last time she'd talked to him they were off.
She allowed Dan to turn her and when he pulled her close again Finn was standing at their side.
"I'm cutting in," he told Dan
Dan looked up at the taller man with a confused look on his face.
"Finn," Rachel sighed in frustration.
"I need to talk to you," he said, in a low, almost pleading voice.
Rachel was about to protest but the people nearest them were staring and Dan looked like he was about to give Finn a piece of him mind.
"Fine," she conceded, detaching herself from Dan and turning her attention to him. "I'm sorry Dan. I'm going to listen to what Finn has to say and then he's going to leave me alone."
Dan eyed her hesitantly.
"I'll come find you, okay?" She encouraged. He nodded and threw Finn a look before heading off toward the kitchen.
Rachel took a deep breath and turned to Finn. She wasn't sure she was ready to here what he had to say. He pulled her close, lacing his fingers of his right hand through hers and putting his left on her hip.
"When did you learn to dance?" She asked tightly when Finn whirled her around to the edge of the makeshift dance floor nearest to the tree.
"A while ago."
She couldn't look at him so she stared the knot in his tie as she waited for him to speak. He was silent as they danced to the slow, soft music.
"I thought you said Kurt and Brittany were coming," she offered, wanting to fill the silence with something, anything.
"I lied. I needed to say something to convince you to come and that was the only thing I could think of."
Rachel looked up at him in shock. He had tricked her into coming. She was way past anger now.
"You incomprehensible," she started in a terse whisper. "devious, manipulative jer--"
"I know you're mad," he cut her off. "But I just couldn't let you walk out of the store. I knew that I had to say something or I might never see you again."
"What do you want?" She spat, trying to hold onto her anger as butterflies fluttering around in her stomach at his words. She could feel the warmth of his hand on her hip through her dress and smell the sweet muskiness of his cologne. It was more than a little distracting.
"Last year I...I..."
"I don't want to talk about last year," she said before he could continue, her body noticeably tensing. Finn let out a frustrated sigh and eased her forward so that she was now dancing flush against his body, his hand moving to the small of her back to keep her there.
"I hurt you and I have no right to ask you for anything," he whispered, his mouth next to her ear. His voice was velvet soft and it seemed to wrap around her entire body, making her feel warm and comforted. "But seeing you this morning...all these old feelings came back."
Her high heeled boots made Rachel just tall enough to rest her chin on Finn's shoulder and she resisted the urge to turn her face into his neck. He was getting to her, breaking down her defenses so that she melted into him a little bit, her body softening against his. She thought about pulling away but his next words kept her from doing it.
"I made a mistake," he said as they slowly swayed, barely dancing now. "Please just give me a chance to explain."
Rachel bit her lip in uncertainty. She hadn't been this close to Finn since that night and...for the first time in what seemed like years she felt a flicker of happiness burn in her chest. She was so tired of being lonely...of going through the motions, going out on dates and never feeling a fraction of what she felt for Finn with anybody else. But how long would whatever Finn was proposing last? All throughout their senior year at McKinley Rachel had given him chances...and sometimes he disappointed her. But last Christmas he broke her.
Finn must have mistaken her uncertainty for anger because he pulled his head back to look at her.
"I'm sorry," he said, letting go of her hand to place a finger underneath her chin, forcing her to look up at him and suddenly, suddenly she was lost in his eyes. They were dark and full of longing.
Before she knew what was happening, his lips were on hers. Stop, stop, her head told her but she didn't. Instead her eyes fluttered closed and she kissed him back, her arms entwined around his neck, her mouth opening as his tongue touched her lips. God, he tasted so good, so familiar. Her hands were in his hair and she felt like she was in a trance, nothing else around her made sense but his lips and body pressed against hers.
"Rachel," he breathed as he pulled back. "Wait...let's get out of here. We can go back to your house and then we can..."
Alarm bells started going off in her head, jolting her out of the daze she was in. He was still speaking but she couldn't hear him. He wanted to go back to her house? She thought he just wanted to talk...why did they have to go back to her house?
"Oh my God," she gasped, jerking backwards, out of his embrace. Finn's eyebrows pulled together in bewilderment.
"I'm such a fool," she whispered, realizing what she had just done. She kissed him.
"Rach, what—" He said as she turned on her heel, coming face to face with Quinn and Puck, who were both staring at her in wide eyed confusion.
"Thank you for inviting me Quinn. Look me up if you're ever in New York," she choked out before brushing past them. She had to get out of there before she started to cry.
"What did you do?" She heard Quinn ask as she yanked open the closet door and grabbed her coat.
Rachel sat on her bed and tried to breathe. She was freaking out a little bit. She'd just gotten off the phone with a casting director from New York...a casting director from a big Broadway musical! She took a couple more deep breaths and grabbed her cell phone off her nightstand table. There was only one person she wanted to talk to right now.
She was practically shaking and had to redial Finn's number twice before she got it right. The line connected and she couldn't hold back the smile on her face. Last night she had fallen asleep in Finn's arms and today she landed an audition in New York. She couldn't believe this was happening.
"Hello?" Finn answered.
"Hi Finn," she said, forcing herself to speak calmly.
"Hey Rach. What's up?"
"Nothing much," she said. Nothing except the fact that she was going to jump out of her skin with excitement.
"How do you feel?" He asked, his voice dropping in volume.
"I feel great. I just wish you would have woken me you before you left."
"Sorry. You just looked so beautiful. I didn't want to wake you. Plus it sounded like you were having a good dream."
"What?" Shock seized her and she momentarily forgot her excitement. .
"You talk in your sleep."
"What…what did I say?"
"Cute stuff," he chuckled.
"Finn, what did I--"
"Nothing," he said, cutting her off. "So what are you going to do today?"
"I was going to ask you the same question," she said, reluctantly allowing him to change the subject. She hoped she didn't say anything too bad in her sleep. "Do you want to hang out?"
"I'm sorry I can't. I promised Quinn that we'd hang out today. I'm with her now actually, shopping at Kmart for maternity clothes. It's still pretty awkward but I have to try, ya know?"
"Yeah," she said, unsure if Finn hanging out with his ex-girlfriend was a good idea.
"But I wish I was with you. Do you want to hang out tomorrow? He asked, reminding her of why she'd called in the first place.
"I won't be here tomorrow," she squealed. "I'm going back to New York."
"I just got a call from the casting director of a big Broadway musical. He saw us at Nationals and he loved my singing. Now he wants to see if I can act. He wants me to fly to New York right away for an audition. My dads are looking for a flight right now."
Rachel stood up and was pacing back and forth in front of her bed.
"That's...uh, wow, Rach."
"Oh Finn, all my dreams are finally coming true. You have to come over tonight. You can sneak in again and we can celebrate."
"Uh, yeah sure. Look Rach, I gotta go. Quinn's done in the dressing room. I'll call you later."
"Ok. I lov--" The line went dead.
Rachel looked at the phone and felt the slightest hint of foreboding. Maybe he and Quinn...Rachel shook her head forcefully. No, Finn had said he loved her. They'd made love. Everything was fine. He just didn't want to complicate things further with Quinn. Yeah, that was it. Everything was perfect. She was going for her first Broadway audition and Finn was in love with her. Everything was just as it should be.
Frantically Rachel pushed the down button, willing the elevator to come. She heard a door open and slam shut, feet coming down the hall quickly. Oh God, she thought as she turned for the stairwell door. Tears were coming down her face, probably smudging her makeup. She didn't want him to see her like this.
"Rachel wait," Finn called out to her. She ignored him and pushed open the door but was forced to stop as Finn's hand closed around her arm. "Geez, would you just wait up a sec?"
More tears spilled out, hitting her cheek as she turned to look at him.
"What Finn? What could you possibly have left to say to me?," she spat, yanking her arm back.
"I'm s-s-sorry," he stuttered, clearly taken aback by her tears. "I didn't mean to kiss you. I'm sorry I did that."
"Yeah, I'm sorry you did too." Tears were running down her face in earnest now and she angrily wiped them away. "And I'm sorry that I ever slept with you. I can't believe that I was stupid enough to fall for your games again. I guess I should have learned the first time that you were just using me."
"Yeah, using me. My God I thought you were someone to rely on. Me? I guess I was just a shoulder to cry on."
"No Rach, that's not what...you weren't...I loved you. I still do."
Rachel shook her head, more tears escaping. "That's not true. You didn't call me back. You didn't answer my letter. I gave you my heart and the very next day gave it away."
"I made a mistake Rachel. I was scared...I just need you to give me a chance."
"You tore me apart," she said, her voice cracking. "It's too late."
"It's not." He stepped forward to try and grab her by the arms but she stepped back.
"I have a boyfriend," she lied, freezing him in place. "It's over. No more games. No more I like you but I can't be with you. I've found a guy who likes me and who wants to be with me. Now I've found a real love, you'll never fool me again."
Finn's eyes narrowed and he looked like someone had just punched him in the gut.
"I came because..." she continued, trying to remember why it was that she'd come in the first place. "Because I wanted to try and be friends but...I can't,"
"Rachel don't," Finn pleaded.
"Merry Christmas Finn," she said before she turned and walked through the door into the stairwell, leaving him alone in the hall.
*bum bum bum bum bum*
The porch light was on and his silver Toyota Camry was sitting in the driveway. He might be home, Rachel thought hopefully as she walked up the steps to the front door. She took a breath, rang the doorbell and waited a minute. No answer. Rachel rang the doorbell again and received a honk from her dad. She turned her head toward the street and met her dad's eyes through the windshield of the their car. He pointed towards his watch and then signaled for her to hurry up. It was already 6:00 p.m. and their flight left at 8. She needed to hurry because they still had an hour drive to Dayton and security check points to get through before they could board their plane.
"I'm coming," she mouthed and turned towards the door again, taking an envelope from the pocket of her pink parka. She lifted the lid of the mail slot and was about to push in the letter she'd written for Finn when the door swung open.
"Rachel! I'm sorry Honey, were you ringing the doorbell?" Mrs. Hudson asked as Rachel straightened. "I was doing laundry and I can't hear a damn thing with the dryer on." She was wearing blue scrubs and her curly hair was messily pulled back by a headband. She looked like she had just gotten home from work.
"That's okay Mrs. Hudson. Is Finn home?"
"No. I think he's out with Quinn right now."
Of course he is, Rachel thought, her heart sinking in her chest. Finn never called her back and he hadn't come over last night. After she'd packed her suitcase she had waited up for him but he never showed.
"Oh," Rachel said, trying to keep the pained expression off her face. "Well, is his phone working? I tried calling him a couple of times..."
She'd tried calling him more than a couple of times today. Her dads hadn't been able to find a direct flight leaving for New York for this morning so they'd had to settle for the 8 o'clock flight, which meant that Rachel had been home almost all day. She'd called Finn and left him a few messages. She'd wanted to see him before she left.
"Yes, his phone is working." She said after a pause. "I can tell him you stopped by."
"Um, no thank you. Could you just give him this?" She asked, holding out the letter she'd written him before she'd left the house. She'd poured her heart out into it, knowing that she wouldn't have the courage to say it on his voicemail. It said that what happened between them two nights ago was one of the best things that had ever happened to her. It said that she loved him and that she wanted to be with him when she came back from New York. Even if she ended up getting the part in the play, which she figured was a very good chance considering all her years of training, she still wanted to be with him. They would have the rest of school year together and maybe he could come to New York with her in the summer when she started rehearsal. They could both go to college in New York. She'd already sent in her applications early so she would be free to help him with his. They could live together in an apartment in Manhattan and they could see other Broadway shows and visit all the museums. They could do all of that...if he would just call her back. She desperately wanted him to call her back.
"Sure," Mrs. Hudson said as she took the letter, giving Rachel a knowing look. "You know, Finn and Quinn aren't...I don't think they are back together."
"Thanks," Rachel said again, attempting to smile as she slowly backed away from the door. She gave Finn's mom one last wave goodbye before turning and getting into her car.
Rachel jolted awake, her eyes snapping open. For a moment she didn't know what was happening.
"Miss, are you alright?" Rachel's eyes focused on a blond woman in a blue suit who stood over her. She was on an airplane.
"Yes, thank you." She said.
"Okay," the flight attendant said, narrowing her eyes as if trying to decide whether Rachel was indeed okay or not. "Please fasten your seat belt and return your tray table to it's upright position. We are about to make our decent."
Rachel nodded, pulling her face away from the pillow stuck between her head and the window. The flight attendant watched as she buckled her seat belt and locked her table into place.
"Thank you," she said before walking down a couple of rows to wake somebody else up. Rachel put her face back into her pillow and tried to fall asleep again but she couldn't. Finn's face kept popping up in her mind, his eyes wide and sad as she left him standing alone in the hall.
"Good," she mumbled to herself but felt bad the instant she said it. She'd been blaming him for a year for what had happened between them but maybe...just maybe she had a little bit to do with what happened. She had never come back from New York like she'd said she was in her note. She'd gotten the part and never looked back. Maybe if she'd went back to Ohio, went back to McKinley, her and Finn might have been together. He had said that he loved her and that he was just scared, which meant that he really hadn't been using her as a rebound. But why didn't he call or email...or even message her on myspace?
She had wrestled with this question all day yesterday. Her dads had of course known something was wrong. She hadn't come down for breakfast and she spent the better half of the morning in bed, not wanting to think or feel. During the party she hadn't bothered to talk to anybody although several people came looking for her in the kitchen, where she had hidden for the entire night. She knew that people were going to start talking about her. Daddy's aunt Donna was a gossip and she would probably tell the whole family about how snooty Rachel had been. About how she couldn't be bothered to talk to anybody...they would say that she missed her beloved stage too much.
But she did miss her stage. She missed how easy things were when she was up there, how life seemed easy, almost black and white and definitely no shades of gray. In Ohio, life was complicated. Maybe that's why she'd been so quick to leave it behind. She'd never really had any friends in Lima, the only one she did have had used her and then refused to talk to her. In New York she had her stage and her fans. She had an actual friend. Charlie didn't seem to mind that she was talented and ambitious. She had Josh, who constantly showed interest in her. He didn't toy with her feelings. He would never kiss her or make love to her one day and then ignore her the next.
The New York Post had been wrong when they ran that story about her and Josh dating but they hadn't been wrong about his feelings for her. He had expressed interest in her from the day that they met. She kept saying no to him because they had to work together but deep down she knew it was because she wasn't over Finn. Josh was too good of a person to lead on like that. But maybe now that she had faced Finn, left him behind for good...maybe now she could finally move on. She could finally accept Josh's offer. Yeah, going out on a date would be good for her. She didn't need to know why Finn had said he loved her but didn't come after her. It was over. She was going to move on.
*bum bum bum bum bum*
The weather was surprisingly mild for a late December evening. The low had only reached 47 degrees, which probably accounted for that fact that more fans than usual were standing outside the Eugine O'Neil Theater. Ronny, the head security guard pushed open the door and Rachel came face to face with at least three dozen cheering fans. A few flash bulbs went off and she gave them her best smile, tilting her head to the left. Her right arm was wrapped around Josh's and he guided her outside. Behind her Phoebe, Lauren, and John, three of her cast mates, were cheering back at the fans.
"It never gets old," she heard John say. Personally she agreed. It was wonderful to see how many people truly enjoyed her work.
Josh released her and took a couple steps towards the barricade that separated the fans from them. He plucked a black sharpie out of the back pocket of his jeans and reached for the nearest playbill, a wide smile on his face as he greeted a group of teenage girls. The girls giggled and batted their eyelashes as he signed each of their playbills. He tended to have that effect on people. He was handsome in an obvious way with his curly brown hair and chiseled features and he was an incredible singer and performer.
"Rachel! Rachel!" Several people called, snapping Rachel out of her thoughts.
"Thank you so much for your support," Rachel said to the group of people in front of her, pulling out her own sharpie. Hers was gold and she always signed her name with a star next to it. Stars were still kind of her thing.
"Your name?" She asked a middle-aged woman.
"Susan. Oh, Rachel you are such a pleasure to watch. I know you have a long bright future ahead of you."
"Thank you," she answered earnestly, signing the woman's program before moving on to the next person. A little girl with long brown hair and a bonnet was sitting in her father's arms, holding out her playbill. The girl reminded Rachel of herself.
"And what's your name?"
The girl handed Rachel her playbill and hid her face in her Dad's neck.
"Come on honey, don't be shy. What's your name?" Her dad cooed. The girl mumbled something into his neck.
"It's Lisa," her dad said to Rachel.
Rachel smiled and wrote the girl's name.
"Lisa is my favorite name," she said as she wrote a special thank you message, like the one Betty Buckley had written on her playbill the first time her dads took her to see Cats.
"Can you sign mine too?" A man asked her.
"Sure, what's your name?" Rachel asked without looking up as she signed her name with a big gold star on the little girl's book.
"You can call me Jackass," the man said.
Rachel's head snapped up and she was shocked to see Finn standing there with a playbill in his hand. She squeezed her eyes shut, positive that she was seeing things. But when she opened them again he was still standing there, a small smile touching his lips.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, handing Lisa's playbill to her father. Rachel ignored Finn's outstretched hand and grabbed someone's book. She signed it quickly, not bothering to ask them their name, and gave it back.
"I'm coming after you," he said.
"You know, like in the movies, when the guy does something really stupid and the girl leaves him but he goes after her to try to make things right."
"This isn't a movie Finn," she sighed, grabbing another person's playbill.
"I know but I want to make it right. Can we please just go for a walk or something?"
Rachel finished signing the page and turned to look up at Finn. He wanted to make it right. He hadn't call or emailed but he had traveled over 600 miles to talk to her. The least that she could do was listen to what he had to say. It was time to take the advice she'd given Finn over a year ago. She had to let go of the pain and anger she felt. She opened her mouth to tell him that but a slight poke in her side stopped her.
"We're still on for dinner, right?" Josh whispered to her. She gave him a small smile and one nod of the head.
She couldn't go take a walk with Finn. She had a date with Josh. She'd called him as soon as she got off the plane four days ago and asked him on a date. They agreed to have dinner tonight at this little Turkish place he knew near Columbus Circle.
"I'm sorry Finn," she said turning back to him. "I've got something to do...Um I won't be done until late."
Finn eyed Josh and took a breath.
"Okay," he said, running his hand through his hair. "Can we meet later?"
Rachel chewed on her lip for a moment before answering yes.
"Rockefeller Center," he said. "Midnight."
*bum bum bum bum bum*
Rachel sat down on one of the cold round benches, resting her elbows on her knees and putting her head in her gloved hands. She was a complete jerk, she decided as she thought about her date with Josh. It was a total disaster. She hadn't been able to pay attention to anything Josh said because she'd been too busy worrying about what Finn wanted to tell her. Then when he had noticed how distracted she was she told him why and the rest of the date turned into her telling him about her crush on Finn in High School and how she'd slept with him last Christmas. She wanted to stop talking, she really did, but she couldn't. She wouldn't be surprised if Josh never wanted to take her on another date and she was starting to wonder if she was sabotaging herself on purpose.
Stop thinking about it. There's nothing you can do right now, she told herself, pulling her cell phone out of her coat pocket. Even at 11:50 pm the plaza was jammed full of people. Rachel stood up, worried that Finn might not see here there, and moved to the spot where she and Finn had stood a little over a year ago. She leaned forward against the railing and looked down at all the ice skaters.
There was no snow this time and there were far less skaters out on the ice but for the second time in the last week Rachel felt like she was moving back in time. Thinking about the past is bad, she reminded herself. She couldn't live in the past anymore.
To distract herself she focused on a young couple skating on the ice. They were holding hands as went around the rink. The woman almost slipped but her boyfriend caught her. Her loud, joyous laughter carried through the night air.
Rachel turned to see Finn standing beside her, two cups with steaming liquid in his hands.
"Hey," she said back.
He extended his arm, handing her a cup. "It's hot chocolate."
"Thanks." She cupped it with both hands, using it for it's warmth.
Finn didn't say anything more, he just leaned forward against the railing, imitating her position, and stared down at the ice skaters. Rachel opened the lit to her cup and tentatively brought it to her lips. The hot chocolate warmed her from the inside out as she took a few sips and she felt more at ease. The young couple had stopped near the wall and were embracing each other. He had her pulled against his chest, one arm around her waist while his other hand stroked her hair. Then he pulled back and kissed her right on the nose.
Even from this vantage point Rachel could see that they were in love. Why can't I have that? Rachel wondered. The only man that she had ever felt that kind of emotion for was standing next to her, silently drinking his hot chocolate, yet they seemed so far away from the kind of love that the young couple shared.
"I don't have a boyfriend," Rachel said quietly without looking at him. "I lied to you."
"You knew? How?" She asked, turning her head to look at him. Rachel had felt bad for saying it. She said it on purpose, just to hurt him and she had regretted it later. Now she felt even more horrible because he knew that she'd been lying. Finn looked down into her eyes and gave her a small knowing smile.
"I know what it's like to kiss you when there's a third party involved and I know what it's like when there's no one else. When I kissed you at the party, you kissed me back and you didn't kiss me like you had a boyfriend."
"Is that what you came here for?" She asked, now turning her entire body towards him. "To throw it in my face that I kissed you back?"
"Partly," he said, putting his cup down on the ledge. "Rachel, your not over me. I could also tell that from the way you kissed me. And I sure as hell am not over you either. I tried to get over you. God, I really tried but I couldn't. I want to be with you."
"Why now? Why after all this time?" She took an involuntary step back and he took two forward so that they were only inches apart.
"When I saw you at the market I knew that I had made a huge mistake in letting you go last year," he started. "When you called me and told me about the audition, I was scared. You were going places and I wasn't. I thought I was going to hold you back and I didn't want that. I knew that you were going to nail that audition Rachel and that you were going to leave so I just tried to make it easier for you."
"But. I...I didn't want to leave you," she sputtered, overcome with this new information. "My letter. I wanted—"
"When I read your letter," he said, cutting her off. "I had felt a little better about us but then school started and you weren't there. Everybody was saying that you got the part and that you weren't coming home. I could have called you but I didn't have the courage to. I knew that I couldn't compete with this." He waved his hand around, indicating the buildings and the people surrounding them.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I didn't come back."
"No," he shook his head. "No, you have nothing to be sorry about. I know we could have worked it out. It was just my stupid insecurities that kept me from being with you."
Rachel looked up into his eyes and felt the same flutter in her stomach that she always got from looking at him. His eyes were filled with emotion and sincerity. She couldn't believe that all this time she had really thought that Finn hadn't loved her. That he had just used her as some kind of rebound. He wanted to take all the blame for what had happened but she knew that some of it had been her fault too. If she hadn't been so unwilling to believe that he loved her...if she hadn't been so selfish as to think of her feelings only, then maybe her and Finn could have been together by now. She could have spared them both so many months of heartache.
"And now what?" She whispered.
"And now I want to be with you. I want to make up for lost time," he said, taking her cup from her hands and putting it on the ledge next to his before taking the final step to close the distance between them, bending slightly to kiss her.
His lips were soft on hers and she let herself go, closing her eyes and giving herself to him. She let him part her lips with his tongue and she sighed as she tasted him again. Tonight he tasted sweet, like chocolate, and he kissed her like she tasted the same way. When air was becoming an issue he pulled back to look into her eyes.
"Tell me that mean's yes," he said, a little breathless. "Tell me you want to be with me too."
"I want to be with you too."
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed it. If I get at least 15 people wanting me to turn it into a two shot I will. I can either do a fluffy and/or smutty epilogue where I explain what happens next or I can retell the story from Finn's perspective...again I can make it smutty if anyone what's it. I'll let you guys tell me what to write...but if no one wants another chapter to this long christmas love story then that's okay too.
Have a very Merry Christmas! And of course Happy belated-Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends out there.