A/N: Rachel's my girl and I love her. I figure she's had crushes before Finn, so I decided to write it. Fun?

You're one of those silly little girls who thinks you'll marry your dad when you grow up.

"But I'm married to Daddy," he says laughingly, holding your four-year-old body close to his.

"I know. We'll share," you say, like it's all just that simple. "You'll share, Daddy, right?"

Daddy just laughs and nods his head. "Of course, Bunny."

(You don't know what's so funny.)

Rather embarrassingly, your first real, honest to goodness crush is on a boy who will not only turn out to be gay, but also will make your high school years a living hell, riddled with insults and backhanded compliments.

But at seven, he's sweet and cute and has soft, floppy hair that's always neatly combed, and sometimes his sweaters match yours. He writes in coloured pens, just like you do, and even though you're always first to raise your hand, he's usually second.

One day on the playground, he falls off the swings and scrapes his elbow, getting a little drop of blood on his crisp white shirt.

"C'mere," you say, leading him back into the school, slipping past the teacher on duty. "Cold water will take it out. I have band aids!"

"Okay," he says.

You look both ways to make sure no one is around before pulling him into the girls' bathroom. He doesn't really seem to care. You wet some paper towels and dab at the still-damp blood on his sleeve, and it turns a light pink before disappearing completely.

"There!" you announce, and he turns his arm, looking at it in the mirror. He smiles and you smile back.


There's a little jar of flowers on your desk the next day, pinks and purples with a yellow ribbon, and you smile, and he ignores you.

(That's the nicest he'll ever be, and you take it far too seriously.)

Eight is a big year for you.

You're in third grade, and that means you're halfway through elementary school, and that means you're almost in junior high, where they put on actually plays instead of just stupid recitals. You're meant to be in something with a plot, with roles, not just disjointed musical numbers sung with no harmony in a group of children who can't even sing.

But that's not it.

In the fall, a classmate is in a car accident. A bad one. Your daddies tell you over dinner that Artie Abrams was hurt, hurt badly in an accident, and you cry a little bit, because you don't want anyone you know to ever hurt. You ask how bad, and they say they don't know, that he's still in the hospital, and you nod and ask to be excused from the table.

Homework is hard to do that night.

At school on Monday, your teacher tells you that Artie won't be coming back to class for a long time, and that when he does, he'll be in a wheelchair. She goes over the things you can and can't do now, the things he can and can't do now. Some of the kids laugh and act like they don't care, but you just try not to cry again, because you know how far the wheelchair ramp is from the classroom, and that's a long way for one person to go alone.

It's not fair, you think, that life can change so fast, that one moment can change everything.

Artie doesn't come back until after Hanukkah (well, 'Christmas') and his first day back, people ignore him, mostly because they're not sure how to act, you think. You sit with him at lunch and ask him how his Christmas was, and he pushes up his glasses and tells you about the presents he got and his crazy aunt who showed up unexpected and made a big scene. You giggle and talk about Hanukkah, explain what it is and what you got.

The next day, he brings a little bag of Doritos, counts them out so they're split right down the middle and hands you half on a napkin.

One day, you see him trying to get up the wheelchair ramp, but there's a group of kids standing in the way, and they're ignoring him.

So you march over and put your hands on his wheelchair, and he tips his head back and looks at you.

"Don't you people see that the only student who actually needs this ramp is here, trying to get to class instead of standing around and taking up space?" you say angrily. The sixth graders look at you like you've got some nerve, and you do, you think. "Kindly get out of the way, before I tell Principal Hendrick about the prank you intend to pull next week."

You point your nose upward and push his wheelchair - with some difficulty, because it's awkward and the ramp is kind of steep - and you don't care if those people are staring at you. Artie is your friend, and he needs your help.

"Thanks, Rachel," he says once you're inside your classroom.

You put on your biggest, best smile and help him unload his books from his backpack. "You're very welcome."

He takes your hand as you set his math text on his desk, weaves his fingers together with yours. "You're really nice," he says, and you think he's the sweetest boy you know.

"So are you," you manage, and both of your palms are kind of sweaty, but you sit there like that, holding hands and laughing as you explain the prank those kids are going to try to pull.

He puckers his lips and kisses your knuckles when the bell rings, drops your hand before anyone walks into the classroom, and you take your seat, tuck your hands beneath your thighs, and you think that maybe boys aren't so bad.

(So it hurts a little more when you're 16 and he says you're irritating, and you wonder if he's forgotten that you two used to share cookies, before fourth grade when everything seemed to change.)

You're still eight when you learn that Noah Puckerman's father has left. Your daddy tells you one night after temple. You later learn that he was just gossiping, telling someone else and you overheard, but that doesn't matter. You know the truth, and no one else does, really.

You've noticed at school, the way he and his best friends 'own' the baseball diamond. No other kids are 'allowed' to go there.

The first day back to school after you hear about his family troubles (that's what dad calls them, but you're not really sure why he doesn't just say what it is - a divorce) you notice that Noah isn't on the baseball diamond with the other boys.

When you find him, you don't really mean to. It's not like you're looking.

(You'll learn that sometimes the things you aren't looking for are the most important to find.)

He's sitting on the stairs going to the fourth and fifth grade classrooms during recess, and you're inside because you have a note from your daddies, since you're going to your grandma's after school and you can't get your dress dirty.

He's just sitting there on the steps with his head down, and when you look closer, you see that he's crying. You've never really seen a boy cry before.

You don't know if you should sit down next to him, but he hasn't seen you yet, and then when he looks up, he scrubs at his cheeks quickly. You walk over slowly and sit down, your leg pressing against his. You take a tissue out of your pocket (sometimes your patent leather shoes get dirty, and you like to be able to wipe them off right away) and hand it to him. He grabs it really fast and presses it against his eyes. He doesn't even look at you again.

"I won't tell," you say quietly, and you mean it.

"Good," he grumbles.

He doesn't ask you to leave, and you don't. You sit there and don't say a word, legs crossed at the ankle, skirt smoothed over your thighs and white tights clean and crisp. He'll sniffle every now and again, and when you put your hand on his shoulder right after the bell rings, he almost, almost smiles at you before you get up and walk away.

(You'll see him cry once more, when you're older, and you'll hand him a tissue again. You don't know it yet, but this is a big moment, you as an eight year old, sitting next to him silently.)

When you're nine, you hear somewhere that the only man a girl can trust is her daddy.

Well, you've got two of those, so you think you're better off.

Daddy is the one you know will spoil you, not that you would ever go without anything anyway; they love you too much for that. But Daddy is two scoops of ice cream on Saturday afternoons, not one. And he's staying up a half hour past your bedtime when Dad works late, so you can watch American Idol. He's jokes and laughs and too many hugs and all your dance medals and trophies displayed in the den, no matter how many you win.

Daddy loves you more than life itself, and you know it not because of the things he does, but because he tells you all the time.

You don't ever want him to stop telling you.

And you don't ever want to stop replying with, "I know, Daddy, and I love you so much, too," and a kiss on the cheek.

One day he'll do something (you can't even remember now what it was) and you shout that you hate him.

Five minutes later, you're crying, telling him you didn't mean it, and he hugs you really tight and smiles and brushes your hair back and says;

"I know."

And you think that's what trust is.


Kurt Hummel's mommy dies in the spring when you're in fourth grade and he misses a week of school.

You cry a little bit, because you don't know what it's like to lose a mommy, but you can't even imagine losing one of your dads, and you think that maybe it'd be kind of like that.

You make him a card out of light blue construction paper, yellow flowers and foam hearts glued on, and you have Dad drive you to Kurt's house to give it to him. No one answers the door, so you leave it in the mailbox.

You never do find out if he ever saw that card.

(If he did, he never says anything.)

The first time you see Jesse St. James sing, you're 11 and he's 13 and in middle school across town and he's singing Back At One with an ensemble of boys his age, and you are captivated. Your dads have been bringing you to these concerts in the park for years, and you've always enjoyed them, but this is something different. There's something about this boy and his hair and his voice.

He doesn't even see you, you know, but you see him.

You'll follow his 'career' for years, feel the disappointment when you hear he's going to Carmel when you know you'll be going to William McKinley, and watch videos of him on Youtube.

(So maybe it's your own fault if you're a little star struck the first time he talks to you.)

Finn Hudson is tall and cute and plays a sport you don't understand in the slightest, but he goes to your middle school, and he seems to be friends with Noah Puckerman, and sometimes you look at him when no one else will notice. He smiles at you one day, and you think it might be an accident, but the butterflies in your stomach don't really seem to care.

(There are a lot of them, those butterflies.)

The first boy who tries to kiss you is Josh Saltzman. He's nice to you, like not many boys are. Well, like not many people are at all. He understands that you're dedicated to your craft, because he's very serious about his tennis training. He's determined to make the junior circuit by the time he's 14. You admire that about him.

You start spending time outside of school, doing homework or watching television, and after a few weeks, he starts holding your hand. It's a little weird, because his hand is calloused from his racket and his palms are always sweaty. But it's nice, too, because it's like he's your boyfriend or something, even though you aren't really sure you're supposed to have one of those yet.

"Hey, Rachel," he says nervously one afternoon when you're sitting on the sofa. "Can I kiss you?"

You panic. You aren't really sure why, because you're fairly certain that you should want to kiss him, and you know that the other girls are kissing boys. Not that they tell you, but you overhear sometimes, when they talk in the halls after weekends at parties you don't get invited to.

But this feeling in your stomach isn't nerves or anything like that, it's dread.

So you pull your hand from his and fold yours in your lap. "No, Josh, I don't think that's a very good idea."

Josh stops coming around after that, and when you see him at school, he usually looks away and sometimes his cheeks go red. He leaves on some tennis tour that's destined to take him to the really big one he wants, and you congratulate him. He smiles and says thanks, then turns his back on you and walks away, but you still don't regret telling him no. You probably should.

(And maybe if you knew how long it'd be until you actually get your first kiss, you would have let him kiss you just to get it out of the way.)

Jacob Ben-Israel is the bane of your existence, so it's really quite unfortunate that you're the highlight of his.

(All of ninth grade, he's the only boy who pays attention to you, other than to torture you. Some days you wonder if you should just take what you can get.)

It's love at first sound with Finn. It really is. He sings about chills and you get them. Something about losing control and you can feel yours slipping away. He's handsome (hot, you'll tell him, and it's true, though it's not a word you'd usually use) and funny and goofy in an endearing way. He's kind of clueless, but you think you can teach him things, if he wants to learn.

He tells you he has a girlfriend, says it like he's not the most popular sophomore in school, like she doesn't know all about his love life by default. You ask who she is, though you're not sure why because even though he's never noticed you, you've noticed him. He says the name, Quinn Fabray, like everyone else does, like it needs no explanation who she is.

But he's sweet to you, and you can make him laugh, and sometimes you catch him looking at you and you just can't help but smile back. So when the opportunity comes up and you're sitting there on the stage and he's just told you the sweetest things, the things you've always wanted anyone to notice about you, you tell him he can kiss you.

And when he lays you down, his hand in the middle of your back, and presses his lips to yours, you can feel the fireworks going off in your stomach.

But then he gets up, walks away, and you can feel it happening, the one thing you've been silently begging him not to do.

Your heart is breaking.

(And you're one of those silly girls who'll let it happen again.)

Quinn Fabray is pregnant, and you find out after Finn tells you he wants to spend more time with you.

For the first time, you wonder what kind of boy he is.

Not for the first time, you wonder how long it'll take for someone to really want you.

(You don't mean to slap him, but you feel better after you do.)

The thing about Noah Puckerman is that you can still remember what he was like as a boy, and you think that sweet person must be inside him somewhere.

And besides, you've always been a fan of second chances.

He's gorgeous, a hot commodity among the girls at school, you know, and he's standing in front of you, looking uncomfortable and being sweet and you give him the benefit of the doubt because you try to see the good in everyone.

And if your suspicions are correct, there's a lot of good in this boy.

Then he's in your bedroom, and you're watching his fingers move over the frets of his guitar and there's a part of you, a part that hasn't really been explored at all, that wonders how they'd feel moving over you. You're nervous, because he's the first boy ever to be in your room, and you go a little sharp during the chorus of the second song you rehearse, but he doesn't say anything about it if he notices.

You don't think he's serious about his ears hurting. Even less so when he asks if you want to make out.

And you say yes, because you really, really do.

His body is hard and his lips are soft and his hands are big enough to cover whole parts of you, and you should be stopping him from letting his tongue slip past your lips, but he feels so good that it's awakening something inside you that you've never felt. You're pretty sure you're not the first girl to feel this way with him.

You end up straddling his lap, thinking for a split second how your skirt can't be covering you anymore, and his hands are on your hips and your thighs and your behind. He moves you against him once, showing you what to do, and as he's brushing the hair from your face, you move your hips again. A sound leaves your throat, partly because this feels so good, and partly because you're a little surprised that you can make a boy feel the way he's obviously feeling.

Then you think about Finn, how he doesn't want you and how you want him, and it's not fair. It's not fair to you, or to Noah, and so you pull away and he looks genuinely disappointed. You bite your lip so you don't smile.

He does the things you want someone else to do. He makes the big gesture and walks with your arm looped through his in the hall, and he looks so good all the time that you're sure, for those eight days of dating, that the smile doesn't leave your face.

You love the way his hand sits on your thigh over your skirt as you sit on his lap and you two talk quietly. He's sincere and sweet and he apologizes and you can tell he means it.

You hate the voice in your head telling you he's still the wrong boy, even if he's doing the right things.

You don't really want to break up with him, you just know that you should. You quite like having a boyfriend. It's not fair that you just want a different one, when this one is so nice.

He tells you he's not your friend, that he doesn't want to be your friend, and you think you've just hurt him more than he'll ever admit to you or anyone else.

(Hindsight is 20/20, but you wish you could take back that day on the bleachers, now that you know everything that comes after it.)

It's safe to say that your crush on Mr. Schuester is absolutely absurd. (Yet another thing you wish you could have seen at the time.)

And if you really think about it, he's probably a rebound from Noah.

You act like an absolute fool, and you're completely oblivious to how inappropriate it is until you get some sage advice from an unlikely source.

So you prepare a song and bring him a potted plant and you don't even get to sing, because he's speaking a little harshly and you're apologizing immediately. Before you can stop yourself, you're crying, hiding your face, and he's being so sweet and saying that there's a boy out there for you, but it's more than that. He's describing that boy.

You think you know that boy.

(You might know two.)

Kurt is cruel and vindictive and once again you're the one he's laughing at from his self-constructed ivory tower.

But Finn says he likes the way you dress, and once he's left and you've stopped crying, you realize that's a very good thing.

(Noah walks up to you at school when no one else is around and winks as he tells you he likes your sweater, and you aren't sure what that means, but you're fairly certain it means something good.)

You're the one who sees Finn cry when you tell him the truth about the baby.

And yes, you did it for selfish reasons, but when this very-nearly-a-man is wrapped around your tiny frame, crying against your shoulder, you can't think of any possible good resolution to this situation.

He is absolutely broken, and for once, you doubt your abilities to put him back together.

You're frightened by the way he goes from hurt and crying, to angry and violent so quickly. You're running behind him as he makes his way to the choir room, but he doesn't even hear your protests, and before you can do anything more, he's punching Noah and they're both on the floor. You think you're scared for both of them.

The look Noah gives you in the hallway, you're not sure you can decode. You hope he sees the apology in yours. He looks ashamed, but you're not sure if he should be.

You're the only one Finn talks to at Sectionals. You're the one he hugs after you win. You're the one he smiles at wider than you've seen him do in days.

You might be getting everything you've wanted all year.

(It should feel better than it does.)

Finn is forgetful. You know this. Some days he'll walk into class with no books whatsoever, or he'll come to glee twenty minutes late because he got caught up in the computer lab watching videos on Youtube.

He forgets your dates sometimes, but he always comes when you call and remind him. It's not a big deal, right?

When he tells you that he doesn't want to date you, your heart does that stupid thing again, falls into your stomach and cracks in two on the way down.

This time, you don't let him walk away so he doesn't have to see it. You tell him how it is, how you know who he is and how he's just scared and you mean every word and it freaks him out apparently, but you don't care, because you're too busy trying not to cry too hard.

He's an insecure boy, and underneath it all, you're an insecure girl, and maybe that's why it isn't working, but you think, too, that maybe that's why it should.

(You sing that song and it's so cathartic that you forget to feel bad that he looks so uncomfortable.)

Not only do you talk to Jesse St. James, but he asks you to sing with him. For the first time in years, you're nervous. He plays piano and sings your favourite Lionel Richie song and his hair is so perfect and he smells amazing and you almost miss your cue because you're so distracted. He's practically a celebrity, and he's looking into your eyes, singing to you, not just with you.

And you seriously think that you couldn't have met him at a better time.

He takes you out on a date, a real date (he doesn't forget, and you don't have to remind him) and he laughs and calls you cute when you finally break down and admit that you're so nervous that your hands are shaking. He kisses your cheek and gives you that smile that kind of makes you melt.

"Here," he says, taking your hands across the restaurant table. "No more shaking."

The look you give him is too hopeful and you know it. (You never could tell with Finn.) "I don't think that will help," you tell him. He's still smiling. "But it's nice."

"Isn't it?"

(You think that if there's a boy who could get you over that other one...)

Finn tells you he doesn't give up that easily and you swoon a little bit.

(But you didn't give up all year long, and you think you're finally ready to now.)

Jesse messes up once, but it's big, and you're not sure what to make of it, what it says about him, or what it says about you if you forgive him.

But he makes it up to you with a perfectly placed secret rendezvous and perfect words and you think you've made up your mind.

You can't sleep with him. Not yet.

(The second time you say no, he sticks around and you watch An Officer And a Gentleman and he doesn't 'let' you change out of your purple nightgown, but you actually like the way his hand sits on your bare thigh just above your knee.)

Singing with Finn is like it's always been. He opens his mouth and your heart races and it's so easy to remember why you fell in love with him to begin with. And the lyrics fit so well and you wonder why you chose these songs in the first place.

(There's that voice in the back of your head - the same one that's telling you that it almost always feels better to sing with Finn than anyone else - that's telling you that you chose them on purpose.)

He transfers schools for you. He quits Vocal Adrenaline and changes schools and wears a sweater vest that you can admit is a little overkill, but it looks really good on him anyway.

He announces in front of everyone that he knew you wouldn't be with him completely as long as you were on different teams.

He did this for you.

You should be happy.

There's something different about the way he has his arm around you in the halls. With Noah, it felt sweet, like he just wanted to be around you and show you off. Finn never liked PDA. With Jesse, it feels possessive, like he's telling everyone else to back off.

(You're appalled when he practically does that very thing with Finn.)

Finn was the first boy to break your heart.

Jesse is the second.

Not only has he been engaged in a clandestine affair with the leader of the vocal group he's secretly still been a part of for the last month and a half, but he's also been gathering intel on the New Directions and reporting it back to Shelby.

In short? Using you in every way possible.

You slap him in front of your club and his. He tells you that he wouldn't be sleeping with Shelby if you had just given it up in the first place. It takes Noah and Matt to hold you back. You've never been a violent person, but right now, you feel like you could punch him in his sickeningly cute face and still be filled with rage.

The only thing that keeps you from hitting him is the fact that you're above violence. (And Noah's arm around your waist, holding you against him, and Matt's hands on your arms.)

And it doesn't really matter, because Finn does the honours anyway.

(Performing at Sectionals will be a lot easier because you know the amount of stage makeup it'll take to cover the black eye.)

You're more than a little surprised when Noah shows up at your house the Sunday after you've won Sectionals. (You're also surprised that he picked up one of Jesse's leads so Finn wouldn't have to learn all the parts on his own. You think that might have been a favour to everyone, an apology for that whole baby thing.)

"C'mon," he says as soon as you've opened the door.


"We're going out."

"What? Why? Shouldn't you be taking care of Quinn? Why would I want to go out with you?"

(You realize the line of questioning might be a little much. The way he stares at you confirms it.)

"We broke up. Figured two dumpees could grab a meal together," he says.

You can't really argue.

He forces you to eat a cheeseburger and a full plate of fries, and he buys some beer with his fake ID and you end up sitting on the bleachers where you broke up, trading horror stories about your relationships. He admits that he always hated Jesse anyway, and you admit that Quinn is still a bitch most of the time. He laughs and tells you that yeah, he knows.

You don't talk about the baby or Finn or any of the other things that are too important to bring up when you're two beers in and you've never really had alcohol before.

"You know the worst part?" you ask, and he looks at you and his knee brushes yours and you really think, for the first time, what it'd be like if you two had never broken up. "I actually thought..."

He takes a breath, eyes locked with yours, and nods. "Yeah. Me too."

(It's a little surprising that the of the three boys you've dated, this one treated you the best.)

Finn is persistent in an admittedly adorable way.

He asks you out at least once a week, each Wednesday a different event in mind that he knows you'll love, and the conversations he remembers that told him that you'd love it. You decline, because you're not ready.

You're still hurting over Jesse.

You're still hurting over Finn.

You don't have the heart to tell him.

One week, you make plans with Noah so you'll have an honest reason not to go out with Finn.

(You're fairly certain this can't end well.)

Quinn goes into labour during third period on the Monday before spring break, and somehow, you and Noah end up being to two people she asks to go with her. You're more than a little surprised, since you've been under the impression that she basically hates you.

She explains between contractions that if anyone can take charge of this situation and keep 'Puck' in line, it's you. And no, you can't really argue with that.

It happens quickly, so quickly that Quinn's doctor almost misses it. You're not in the room when the baby is born, but you're there right after, when Quinn looks like a mess and Puck looks scared and the baby is sleeping before her adoptive parents come to take her away.

Puck leaves the room, letting the door slam behind him, and Quinn shoots you a pleading look. 'Go after him,' it says, and so you do, because you figure that if there's ever been a time to follow Quinn's orders, it's right now.

You find him in the corner of the waiting room, head down and hands on his hips.

This is very familiar. You don't have to see his face to know that he's crying.

You approach slowly and pass him a tissue and he actually cracks a smile as he takes it. "Thanks," he mumbles.

And you just can't help yourself. "I won't tell," you whisper.

He surprises you and hugs you, really hugs you, like he did when you were dating. He rests his head on your shoulder, turns his face towards your neck, and you can feel his tears on your skin.

"I know," he says quietly. "You never did."

(His lips linger on your cheek a little bit when he kisses you, and it's the first kiss you've shared since you broke up, but you don't think anything of it, because it doesn't mean anything.)

You tell Finn that you can't date him, that it's just not going to work, that maybe your relationship just isn't meant to be, it's run its course, and he sighs and says that maybe you're right.

(It doesn't hurt like you think it should. You should have realized it way sooner anyway.)

"What are you doing this summer, Rachel?" Artie asks during your last glee 'meeting' of the year. Basically, you're all drinking slushies and talking about your plans for vacation.

"Less than any of us," Kurt replies.

You grin and flick some grape slushie in his direction, which makes him squeal and dance out of the way, which makes everyone laugh, which makes you smile. You've gotten a little better at not taking the things he says to heart.

"Seriously, anything big?" Finn asks.

You grin and shrug your shoulder coyly, looking into your cup. You steal a glance at Noah, but he's preoccupied with his drink.

"Nothing, really."

"Come on, Rachel, there has to be something," Mr. Schue insists with a smile.

Noah winks at you and you get the confidence to share some information with these people who generally fake their caring.

"I've been planning a road trip," you say, smiling a little bit. "Cross country. 6 weeks or so. Camping and living on a budget and taking pictures of every possibly thing I can. And I've got a map, like in that movie Elizabethtown, with iPod playlists for each leg of the drive."

Mr. Schue raises his brows. Kurt's jaw drops. Artie laughs a little. Finn smiles at you.

"That's not really nothing, Rach," Finn says seriously, shaking his head.

"No," you say, taking a sip of your drink. (It's already been decided these Big Quenches will be a staple of the trip.) "I suppose it's not nothing."

Your eyes lock with Noah's again and he gives you one of those rare genuine smiles.

You came up with the idea of the road trip a couple days after the baby was born. It's been a joke all along, until last week when he was driving you home and asked you to grab a CD from the glove box of his truck. You handed him the CD and found a tattered old map, and you told him, very seriously, that a road trip? Well, a road trip sounded like just the best idea in the world. The two of you have planned out the route, set up the financing (both of you have a little more money than people might think.) You bought a tent and some necessities and Noah had his truck tuned up.

You're ready for this. You can't wait, actually.

You leave Tuesday.

(And the two of you have been kissing for a couple weeks, your relationship mostly undefined, but you think you can sort that out along the way.)

You're not really sure how he's going to explain his absence from Lima for almost the entire summer, but that's not really your main concern right now.

Right now, your mind is focused on the fact that you're somehow in a room with almost every boy you've ever had feelings for, and there's only one who's giving you those butterflies in your stomach.

"It's really something, actually," you say. You aren't lying.

The way Noah looks at you, vulnerable, like he might not really be sure of what to do but he wants to figure it out, reminds you of being nine years old, comforting him because you wanted to, not because you felt any obligation to.

(You think that maybe, in some way, it's been him all along.)