ANYTHING BUT PERFECT – DESPITE OR BECAUSE OF THAT

He liked blue eyes. He really did. And, as a matter of fact, he'd always had a thing for blondes. And he loved quiet, tranquil personalities. Besides, he hated whiny girls.

This meant something must have gone definitely wrong, somewhere.

The Glee Club had never been such a torture to him like since when he'd realised Miss Primadonna actually existed. And the worst had begun when he started dating her.

No, he reformulated. The worst begun when I broke up with her.

He was stubborn and proud enough to have the nerve to tell himself that it was not his fault.

He was the one who cheated.

He was the one who lied.

He was the one who messed it all up.

But it was Rachel's fault if they had broken up. Definitely.

He cast her a bored look, just to prove to himself that he did not like her that much, least of all need her.

She was sitting at the very opposite side of the room, and she didn't look that cute, after all.

She didn't.

At all.

Really.

The sun seemed to gleam brighter than it did in the sky, in her eyes, big brown pearls of childish tenderness surrounded by dark and long lashes that made them look even bigger, even more lively, even more determined.

Her hair lay softly on her shoulders, tickling her neck and down the delicate line of her breasts. She was sitting composedly, ankles crosses under the chair, and her pale face – as always, when there was music in the air – bore the most annoying content smile ever. Well, maybe this wasn't exactly the truth. Her smile was content, but, to be honest, whoever dared find it annoying was either blind or a shameless hypocrite. In fact, Rachel Berry's smile was the damn sweetest thing he'd ever set his dreamy eyes on. And her cheeks… oh, her cheeks! Rosy and soft, the best thing he had ever tasted.

Except for her lips. Her lips: it was by kissing them for the first time that he had understood the real, terrifying meaning of the word addiction. Seriously, he could sell his soul and spend his entire life kissing Rachel Berry's lips, running his tongue along their edge asking for an access, his hand roaming feverishly upon her shirt, and under, where her skin was so bare and delicate that he could just…

Fuck.

Finn was startled by his own thoughts. He felt hot all around his neck and head, and his hands, sweaty and shaky, were clutching at his jeans, his breath short. To his utter embarrass, it started feeling pretty tight down there.

He couldn't even hear what Mr Schue had been saying.

But all the others seemed to be totally oblivious to Finn's arousal, therefore he just tried to breathe and relax. Hard thing to manage, when Rachel decided her position wasn't comfortable enough and shifted into her chair, raising a leg to cross it above the other one, her skirt falling back down her exposed tight.

Finn held his breath. A knot of sudden hunger tightened in his throat.

It's over, he told himself. We broke up. I broke up with her. It – is – fucking – over!

However over it could be, his body didn't seem to acknowledge. Which was rather frustrating, because his mind was truly very aware of the fact she had absolutely no effect whatsoever on him.

Sort of.

"Rachel," Mr Shue said, and Finn's stomach jumped painfully. "Would you like to have a go with it?"

Finn didn't even get to catch what song the guys had been talking about. Rachel stood up gracefully, her face beaming in delight for having been given another chance to prove how stunning her voice was.

Not that he didn't know, already.

Man, her voice was… it was like…

No. He preferred not to think of her voice, right now. It would always elicit an odd urge to sing along, and it wouldn't be a very smart thing to do, he being the one who was supposed to play the part of the cold, distant ex-boyfriend.

But, of course, nobody else cared whether he wanted to think of Rachel's voice or not – let alone hear it. People could babble about how they couldn't stand Rachel as long and loud as they wanted, but in the end they all admired her, and now everyone was waiting for her to start singing.

Fucking fuck.

A sparkle of sheer light rose in Rachel's eyes. She licked her lips and parted them, and Finn prepared to mourn his self-control goodbye.

As she began to sing, he lost all connections with his rationality. He watched her close her eyes and concentrate, the music played by the band droning miles away from the core of his attention.

I'm dying to catch my breath

Oh, why don't I ever learn?

You stole my trust and I will surely try

To turn it around

He gaped at Rachel's hands rising to meet upon her chest. The slow, melancholic melody of the song found a blue reflection in her wandering eyes. He shivered when they set on him, even for a mere moment.

He blamed it on the coldness of the room. But Rachel's eyes returned to him again.

Can you still see the heart of me?

All my agony fades away

When you hold me in your embrace

Fragments of past feelings, emotions and sensations poisoned Finn's musings by injecting drops of pure heartache in his veins.

Don't tear me down for all I need

Make my heart a batter place

Give me something I can believe

Don't tear me down

Heartache and guiltiness.

You've opened the door

Now don't let it close

And a strong, invincible desire to stand up and go to her, and hold her and sing along, just as they used to do. His legs hitched for how hard he was striving to keep himself steady.

The pink dress she wore made her look like a child, white cardigan and white socks remarking the innocence hidden by her fussy ways. An angel, maybe, hadn't it been for the fire burning in her eyes.

And meanwhile, dancing around the room, Rachel ended up in front of him, only a few steps away. She closed her eyes, and her intense expression broke its way into Finn's helpless heart.

I'm here on the edge again

I wish I could let it go

She gazed at him. He nearly chocked, dry-mouthed.

He didn't really like her.

He didn't.

He'd never liked people like her. Spoiled, lousy, egocentric little girl…

I'm again only one step away

From turning it around

They'd been together for a while. A long while. Happy and content, together.

Yeah, so what?

She'd cheated on him. He wouldn't forgive her. He couldn't. She'd hurt him too much.

He kept repeating all of this to himself while Rachel's breathtaking eyes dove in his.

I try to believe that this is for real

Make it fade away

Don't tear me down

Was he dreaming it or was it for real? It sounded so much like a prayer…

Don't tear me down for all I need

And she was so beautiful…

Make my heart a batter place

My beautiful, little silly girl…

Make my heart a batter place

Her voice dissolved into the dying music. For a moment, she didn't move. Still, like a doll standing on her stool, she waited. Not for the enthusiastic applause that came at once, but for something else. Something Finn couldn't give her. But he couldn't bear her look, either, when it came seeking for him with a shy smile.

He dropped his head and pretended not to be interested, or impressed, or anything else he actually was. Minutes later, he left without bothering to greet anybody, incapable of confronting the inner war between what he thought he should feel and what he actually felt.

He couldn't hear Rachel's sigh when he slammed the door closed behind his back, nor could he see her disappointed face.

She still loved him. He knew she did, even if he had rejected her.

He didn't love her, though.

He didn't even like her.

x X x

He crossed paths with her, later that day, just after the bell rung the end of the lessons.

She sent him a faltering smile and he had to hurt himself to defeat the instinct of smiling back. He may not want to show it, it may not reach his lips, but that smile was there, and – he liked it or not – it was all for her.

Her look fell, and so did her face. He could see her eyes get glossy right before she glanced down and entered an empty classroom, a bunch of books pressed tightly against her chest.

A punch in the face would have been less painful to him. He would have never thought it was possible to feel his heart literally break.

"Hey, Finn! Got a moment?"

He turned around and spotted Sam approaching from across the corridor.

"I'd like to talk about –"

"Sorry, maybe some other time." Finn replied hurriedly. Whatever it was, it could wait. Besides, he wasn't in the mood for anything.

Well, anything except entering an almost empty room. Just because. In the end, it was no big deal if he went and comfort a friend. If you could call friend a person who had cheated don you.

After you cheated on her, remarked a voice within his head. His conscience, presumably.

He found Rachel sitting on the teacher's desk, legs hanging loosely. She still had her arms enveloped around her books and wet trails of tears leaked down her face as silent sobs trembled out of her mouth.

"Rach…" he uttered, before his brain could intervene to stop him.

She glanced up. He wished she hadn't. Her watery, innocent eyes sent a strange, warm shiver down his spine. Seeing her like that made him want to take her in his arms and cradle her softly, until the tears would be gone, leaving only a faint, thankful smile lingering on her face. Which wasn't something a cold, distant ex-boyfriend would be supposed to do, but – damn – he couldn't just leave her crying like that.

He wasn't heartless.

"Hey, c'mon…"

He walked to her and gently took the books from her, laid them on the desk and hesitantly placed a hand on her moist cheek, inviting her to look up at him.

It was so good to touch her again…

"I'm sorry," she stuttered with a sniffle. "I'm really sorry. I regret everything and even more I regret having done it just because… because… I don't know. I wanted you to feel the way you made me feel, I guess…" Another sniffle, and her begging eyes finally met his. "I'm so sorry, Finn."

He skipped a heartbeat. His name seemed to have a nicer sound on her lips, as though their sweetness could be contagious.

Damn, damn, damn!

"I understand if you don't want to be with me anymore," she sobbed. "I just – I just wish you could forgive me, 'cause I'll never get over you, if I know that you hate me."

These words ached like wounds in Finn's mind.

"You – you want to get over me?"

Rachel shrugged helplessly behind the tears.

"What else can I do? You can barely stand my presence. I should try, at least…"

Finn's arms moved without his permission. They reached out for Rachel's minute body and surrounded her with a tentative embrace. She felt warm and fragile, just as his hands still remembered, and had a light scent of sugar. She was to tiny, compared to him, that he could just lift her and carry her away with only one arm.

Man, he was craving to do so…

"Rachel," he forced himself to say, and his voice came out low and hoarse. "I don't hate you. I could never hate you. Even those who pretend they do can't hate you."

"Then you just don't trust me."

It wasn't that, either. She'd made a mistake, but it would have never happened if he hadn't slept with Santana, or if he had been honest to her to start with.

So perhaps, after all, it wasn't all her fault…

Finn raised his hand and stroked her face, wiping the tears away. Rachel's eyes closed as she leant blissfully into his caress, but something in the way her brows contracted let him know it was as painful to her as it was to him.

He tried hard to remind himself he didn't like her, but his body's reaction was definitely expressing a quite different opinion.

"I love you, Finn," Rachel muttered miserably. Her other hand laid on his abdomen and slowly crawled up. "Honestly, I don't care if you won't forgive me for what I did, but, please, at least believe this."

He had felt his heart break mere minutes ago, and now he was feeling it melt, right there, under Rachel's hand, and it stopped definitively when she leant her forehead against him.

There was no willpower left in Finn. Only speechlessness, and a new, precious glimpse of hope.

He tried his best to come up with a sensed reply. Her eyes, though, and their gorgeous brightness, stole any ability of reasoning, erased whatever was left of his determination to keep himself emotionally detached from her.

But how could he? How could he stay away from her in any way when she was so damn magnetic?

And she loved him. Rachel Berry loved him. That must have been what happiness sounded like.

It was no surprise, was it? He knew. He'd always known. And yet it still sounded so wonderful… it was almost unbelievable that a girl like her – brilliant, beautiful, sweet – was even interested in somebody insignificant like him.

And he'd spent the last few days telling himself he didn't like her.

Oh, what the fuck!

"We could say we're even," he suggested, running his fingers through her air. "Like… forget about this stupid mess once for all and just… start over again."

Rachel gaped at him in disbelief, her eyes wide and still tearful. He cupped her face tenderly.

"You don't have to be sorry," he continued. "I am sorry. I shouldn't have lied to you. I – I ruined everything. If I hadn't lied, you'd have never…" he trailed off, unable to go on. "Forgive me, Rachel."

"You changed your mind?" She stuttered, apparently too shocked to say anything else. The only other thing Finn could get was: "How?"

He smiled.

"It was very mean of you to strike me with that song. Whose idea was that?"

She blushed.

"Schuester's. He talked to me, asked me if there was anything he could do to cheer me up a bit." She looked him in the eye. "I told him all it took was you."

Finn hadn't forgotten that Christmas kiss among the trees. She had stolen it from him, but there hadn't been a single moment he hadn't regretted his impulsive reaction. He had rejected her, but only because was too afraid to lose control, and because he wanted her to pay for what she had done. But now he didn't care anymore; all he wanted now – all that mattered – was having her back.

"You know," he began, barely stifling a bemused laugh. "I spent the last few days trying to convince myself that I could go on without you and…" This time he couldn't help laughing nervously. "It was such a waste of time."

He leant his forehead on hers and their noses skimmed. The smile surfacing on her lips could have brought him back from afterlife.

"You can be a real pain in the neck, Rachel Berry," he stated solemnly, holding her head in his hands. "You're stubborn, fussy, selfish, exhibitionist and so damn irritating, at times…" His serious face melted into the warmest grin in front of her sincere bewilderment. "But you're also the most wonderful, adorable girl I ever met… and life really sucks without you."

New tears welled up in her eyes. Tears of happiness, this time.

She threw her arms around his neck and buried her face in his chest, and he was more than glad to hug her back.

He'd missed her. He'd missed it all – the feeling of her body against his, the caresses of her voice over his skin, her gorgeous eyes stealing all the light of the world to offer it to him – he missed it like he'd been denying himself the privilege of breathing. For a moment he wondered if he could have died, had he deprived himself of Rachel a bit longer, but then she kissed him – slowly, tenderly, lovingly – and he realised he wasn't so eager to find out.

Who had he tried to fool all along?

She was anything but perfect, but he did like her. Despite or because of that.

He honestly, deeply, hopelessly adored her.

Finn Hudson loved Rachel Berry, and he was the only one stupid and naïve enough to even try to convince himself of the contrary.

A/N: my first Glee ff. Be merciful. ;) Song: All I Need by Within Temptation.