Author's Note: I'm starting to regret having bought the first season DVD set (uh, not), because I now watch the St. Berry interaction and feel my heart break every time (yeah, I'm that much sensible). I can't wait for January – Jesse's return will make up for the lack of Puckleberry fixes (although I have a teeny tiny – not – feeling that RM will screw it up and make me pissed).

In light of Jesse's January return getting closer and closer (less than two months away and counting!), I'd like to hear what you think will happen when he and Rachel meet again. Who knows, maybe I'll pick one of your options to write about.

A big shout-out to Ash (gleek06216) and Queen (NoahPuckermanWifey), two great friends of mine who are also amazingly talented writers. Our back and forth PMing gets me going, girls! (And, Ash, don't worry, I won't try and make you jump to the St. Berry wagon).

Timeline: After 'Funk' and 'Journey', starts in the summer between seasons 1 and 2 and forward. Major spoilers to the back nine, 'Audition', 'Grilled Cheesus', 'Duets' and 'The Rocky Horror Glee Show'.

Summary: Finn Hudson isn't as stupid as everyone thinks / Rachel and Jesse's relationship by the eyes of her ex-boyfriend. From 'Hell-O' to 'Rocky Horror Glee Show' and beyond.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, not.

haven't got a clue

Finn Hudson, cross his heart, isn't as stupid as everyone thinks he is. He doesn't understand the academic things, but he knows music (classic rock, basically), he knows sports and, more than anything, he gets his new girlfriend Rachel.

After it comes to light that the baby that he had spent almost six months thinking of as his is actually his longtime girlfriend Quinn's with his best friend Puck, he almost immediately starts a relationship with Rachel. Only, he feels suffocated by her overwhelming support and attention and caring, and after an ill-fated conversation with Mr. Schue, he breaks up with her to pursue a fling with Santana and Brittany. It isn't meant to last, of course, because he has paid his bitchy dues dealing with a high-on-baby-hormones Quinn, and to deal with both Brittany and Santana was a little bit too much.

By the time he realizes he has screwed it up bad with Rachel, it's too late. She has already moved on – to Jesse St. James, the lead on their biggest competition, Vocal Adrenaline. He panics thinking St. James has approached Rachel planning on putting his filthy hands on their set-list for Regionals, and rushes to tell Mr. Schue about Rachel's new man, who in turn tells the other gleeks.

Kurt, Artie, Tina and Mercedes run a Jesse-vention and tell Rachel she has to choose: if she stays with Jesse, they'll all quit. They can live without their best singer, but she can't without the four of them. It's either Jesse or New Directions, and the next day she approaches him saying she has broken up with St. James. It turns out that she didn't but he only finds out the next week when Santana clues him in.

And then he goes on a bootycall with Santana, where he loses his V-card to her. But after it he feels empty and void, and the following Monday he lies to Rachel saying nothing happened with the cheerleader. It weighs on his conscience but he knows Rachel will be pissed if she learns the truth, so he keeps his trap shut.

Then Jesse quits Carmel and Vocal Adrenaline and transfers to McKinley and New Directions, and everyone else but Rachel and Mr. Schue are pretty unhappy. Rachel is disbelieving of his motives and asks why he's doing this and Jesse says a bunch of crap. Finn is half pissed, half worried: pissed because he knows this guy in front of him is proving to be serious competition for Rachel's heart, worried because St. James looks like a boy-band member and sings like Jim Morrison so he is fucking scary competition for the spot of leading male of New Directions.

But after singing that Madonna song about what it's like to be a girl, he decides to back off and allow Rachel to have her Quinn moment (aka, being with someone else just to prove him she can). He watches in misery as Jesse makes Rachel the happiest he has ever seen her, both holding hands and smiling and whispering and talking all the time about Broadway and whatever. And then Rachel screws it up.

After the G-list is found she decides to improve her rep and casts him, Jesse and Puck as her costar on her video for Run Joey Run. He yells at her, Jesse breaks up with her and goes to spring break with his former teammates of Vocal Adrenaline, and Puck simply smirks and says Rachel's a bad, bad Jew. She sings that really old ballad with the three of them but mainly Jesse, and he's the first to leave her behind, because he's fucking heartbroken, and if that's how she felt every time he screwed up with her, then it's not a good feeling.

She spends the next two weeks looking like someone ran over her Broadway stuff, crying and moping, and she loses her voice (after killing Miley's The Climb). He decides to make his move and sings Jesse's Girl, but she doesn't look at him starry-eyed and happy and stuff; she looks awkward and uncomfortable, and he knows he somehow failed. So, he takes her to the doctor and to meet Sean, and she thanks him.

He thinks he has made progress.

But then a week later Jesse comes back and everything is fine for them and she's looking like she's finally where she wants to be, and Finn is heartbroken. Jesse smirks triumphantly at him because no matter how he had her first, it's the new guy, this super cool, very confident senior with three Nationals titles to his belt that has her last.

Everything seems perfect for Rachel, and totally sucks for Finn, when Vocal Adrenaline breaks in their auditorium and sings Another One Bites The Dust with Jesse on the lead, to 'funkify' them (whatever it means). Rachel looks crushed, and she and Jesse share a long, broken look before he leaves with his old-new teammates. They later find out the fuckers TP-ed their choir room. Rachel watches everything with tears down her cheeks and a blank expression in her eyes, and he tries to comfort her the best he can.

Puck and he fight back slashing the tires of Vocal Adrenaline's members' cars, but they're busted and forced to pay more than twenty thousand dollars of damage, so they go to work with Mrs. Schue (wasn't she a nurse?) at Sheets & Things. Then Jesse eggs her and he doesn't think he has ever seen her this crushed. He, Puck, Mike, Matt, Kurt and Artie all try to go kick St. James' ass, but Mr. Schue stops them and tells Rachel to call Jesse. He invites him and the others from Vocal Adrenaline for a performance that week at their auditorium. They do Give Up The Funk, and she seems so herself again that for a moment he thinks everything will be okay.

But then he catches her crying quietly on the corner while talking to Santana and he worries that the hurt caused by St. James will never stop. Puck wraps his arms around her and she cries against his chest, and he's certain that he's right.

No matter how right he is about Rachel never moving on from Jesse, he still says the ILY to her before their performance in Regionals (he's that desperate to help her forget). She stares stunned at him for a second, and then he's out in the auditorium singing his heart to her, but he knows she has Jesse in her mind when she sings about a music man. He can feel St. James' eyes on them, and his heart cracks just a little bit, because he feels he's standing between Jesse and Rachel.

(He wonders if that's the growing up his mom is so desperate that he does. If it is, it sucks).

Quinn's water breaks and they all rush to the hospital, but Rachel stays behind. She gives some lame excuse about one of them having to stay in case something happens, but he knows (and Puck knows, and Santana knows) that she's staying because she wants to see Jesse. He gently tells her to tag along, but she stares at him with bottomless eyes filled with infinite pain and doesn't say a word.

When they come back – minus Puck and Quinn – Santana rushes to find her, and she has two thick coats of mascara running down her pale cheeks. Brittany and Santana carry her to the nearest bathroom and help her clean up. When they come back they join the others onstage, and Vocal Adrenaline is announced as the winner. Aural Intensity is runner up. They don't place at all. It's the end of Glee. Rachel leans against Artie's wheelchair and stares long at Jesse. She turns her back and walks away. Santana finds her crying in the green room.

The next day they serenade Mr. Schue and she sits between Puck and him, and she cries while singing (they all do, but he's the only one besides Puck and Santana who notices the bags under her eyes and the missing spark inside them) and holds Puck's hand tight. Santana and Brittany hold her afterwards.

But then two days later they're in choir room when Mr. Schue announces they've got another year and sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Puck. She leans against him and smiles softly, and he hopes maybe the summer ahead will help him heal her.

Turns out that he is wrong. She hangs out with him for a week, and it almost seems like she's slowly going back to normal. But then he sings Lionel Richie's Hello to her and she shuts him out. He is barely into the intro when she gets up, tears pooling in her eyes, and asks him to leave. He's confused and lost, but later that same night Santana storms in his – Kurt's – house and yells at him. She says Hello is their song, and he looks hopelessly at her before she tells him to just leave Rachel alone. "She'll never be yours, Finn. Just give up already", she advises him, but he is not going to. He has to help Rachel move on.

As the summer progresses she seems to be slowly getting better. But she never mentions Broadway or New York or anything with him; she tones down her personality and he can't help but feel like something is missing. One day he arrives at her home and she's crying softly. He asks her what is wrong, and she looks at him for a long moment before shaking her head negatively. She settles for a Ving Rhames movie with him, and halfway through the movie her cell chirps with a text. She widens her eyes as she checks it, and he asks who it is.

She stammers and doesn't reply, staring at the low lit small screen before slowly typing a reply. Seconds later her phone chirps again and a small smile curves her lips before she settles down against him again. She seems happy and pleased, and it makes him happy. After the movie is over she goes to the bathroom and he sneaks a glance at her phone. The first text reads I've been alone with you inside my mind. The second one reads Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you?

He frowns but doesn't get it, and drops her phone back on place because he hears her coming back. She looks visibly perkier and he tries to give her a proper kiss, but all she allows him is a quick peck. Her father – the taller, scarier one – comes home and she walks him to his car.

When he tries to call her, her phone is busy. He frowns but lets it slide because she's finally improving. On the living room, Burt puts an old record and a Lionel Richie song filters into his bedroom. He stiffens when he recognizes the lyrics and his mind flashes back to what Santana told him about this specific song. It's their song. The messages on her phone…

St. James.

He's pissed, but then he remembers how happy, how… normal she looked, and decides to let go. It's just a text. Just a song.

(He ignores the nagging voice that tells him his girlfriend basically lives and breathes music).

Every now and then he sees a glimpse of the old Rachel and he knows it's because she has heard from St. James. He forces himself to ignore it. With time, he (almost) convinces himself that it's because of him too that she's slowly getting better, not only because of St. James' non-often texts (he'll later learn that they've been texting back and forth since that first afternoon with the Hello lyrics). He also closes his eyes to the shadow of sadness always lingering in the back of hers.

Summer ends and they're back to school. Matt has transferred to Miami so they're a member short. Mr. Schue announces Nationals are in New York this year and they whip up a performance of Empire State of Mind in the middle of the patio. He has a new coach, Shannon Beiste, who replaces him as QB with this new kid, Sam Evans, and Rachel comes to blows with a foreign exchange student named Sunshine. Sunshine wants to audition and Rachel sends her to an unused crack house. Mike and Tina find her and tell everyone of Rachel's actions. Everyone but Puck and Santana is pissed with her, and in the end Sunshine transfers to Carmel and to Vocal Adrenaline (Rachel fights back tears at this, and only three people know the real reason why). He scolds Rachel, and Santana takes her away, a sobbing, heartbroken mess. Santana glares at him as she leads Rachel away, and he can't believe she isn't pissed at this.

The next morning, Rachel looks very much like her former self. (He knows immediately that she talked to St. James). She stops hiding her happiness with the texts, and he even catches her giggling to one of them. Puck looks at him like he knows his boy is losing her, and Santana seems too pleased to have her best friend back to even care. Everyone else is oblivious since no one truly cares for her.

She's slowly slipping away and he gets desperate again. He's at home thinking what to do to bring her back to him when his grilled cheese is burnt with the face of Jesus and he is a believer. He asks Mr. Schue for a faith-themed assignment and she looks incredulously at him. He prays for Sam Evans to be kicked out of the team and he is after being injured on the first game of season. He's the new quarterback, and that feels amazing and solidifies his faith on his grilled Cheesus.

He prays Rachel to allow him to touch her boob, and she does – in fact, she picks his hand and places it on her chest. He's thankful, but it's a super short-lived moment. She shoves him away from her and rushes to the bathroom, and he hears the muffled sound of her sobbing. He knocks at her bathroom door but she asks him to leave. He does, reluctantly – and before he walks out of her door he can hear her saying softly, "It's me… No, no, everything is fine, I promise…"

And he knows she thought of St. James when his hand rested on her boob. It's getting harder to ignore the fact that it's St. James that is making her better. But he persists because St. James is God knows where (he thinks Rachel does too), and he is in Lima with her.

A week passes and Sam settles in New Directions, but he's afraid he'll ditch them all. Puck goes to juvie, and Rachel and Santana are both pissed and panicked. They're one member short and Mr. Schue once again suggests a duet assignment. Rachel says she'll sing with Finn (he's relieved because, with the ways things are going, he was afraid for a moment that she would choose to sing with someone else), and when they're alone he suggests they allow Sam to win the competition.

She looks at him funny and he gives her all the reasons to why this is the right thing to do, and she reluctantly accepts. But then the next morning she tells him she'll be singing with Kurt – since Kurt has no one to sing with – and the way she looks at him tells him he might've taken it a little too far. He still votes on Sam and Quinn, however, and they win. He runs in Santana and Rachel on the way out of school, and Santana looks pleased and Rachel's grinning. "He told me he loves me and wants to be with me, distance be damned", she whispers excitedly, and Santana squeals. They then see him and Rachel blushes scarlet, but faces him head on. He stays silent, however, and walks away.

Their next glee assignment isn't an assignment, per se, but a musical. 'Rocky Horror'. Mr. Schue casts him and Rachel as Brad and Janet, the leading couple of the play. Finn is happy with this, despite not getting the script, but once he and Rachel are rehearsing, he learns he has to do scenes with her on his underwear and gets nervous and insecure since his body isn't in top shape. She's awkwardly comforting him when a well-known voice fills the silence in the empty auditorium. "If you don't think you can handle it, Hudson, leave it to the pros".

It's Jesse, and Rachel's face lights up with such joy and love that Finn's heart hurts – because, despite everything, he still loves Rachel. She squeals and bolts towards him, jumping in his arms. He hugs her tight and they look so happy and in love that Finn knows he'll never be able to lie to himself again and talk himself into believing he's as responsible for Rachel's happiness as Jesse. Over her shoulder Jesse's eyes lock with his and he nods thankfully. It's an acknowledgement, Finn knows, of everything Finn has done for Rachel for the past six months.

As he watches an exuberantly happy Rachel perform Time Warp with the rest of them, winking and smiling flirtatiously at Jesse who sits at the audience with Mr. Schue, he allows his heart to let her go. She has finally healed, old Rachel is finally back, and if Jesse is the one to thank for all this, so be it. And, as he watches Rachel discussing animatedly with Jesse about the play, he recognizes that he and Rachel were never meant to be. They're too different, their interests the polar opposites of each other, and they faced the potential challenge of ending up hating each other.

When Rachel acts casually around him and leans on him to keep her strength, though, he knows their fate is to be best friends.

(Finn will end up as best man on the Berry-St. James wedding, five years after graduation, and godfather of Noelle Lucia St. James – after Noah and Santana – nine months after it).