Title: Happy To Lose
Warning(s): Coarse Language
Prompt: "How did I let her go without a fight?" - puckrachel drabble meme
Word Count: 2,288
Summary: Eight years after high school, Finn thinks back on all that led to the wedding he's best man in and how the girl he always thought he'd marry wound up with his best friend.
Happy To Lose
Finn Hudson couldn't believe he was here. Eight years ago, if somebody had told him he'd be standing as best man next to Puck, he would have laughed until he couldn't breathe. And then he'd have asked who he knocked up and whether Mrs. Puckerman knew how to use the shotgun in her hands. Because Puck, while his best friend, was so not the marrying type. He was the dude that was still banging hot twenty-year-olds while everybody else was settled down with kids and avoiding their menopausal wives. But here he sat, watching man and wife take their first dance to a song Puck wrote himself but had the band sing. And they looked happy, like Puck was smiling. Not smirking, not sneering, not even grinning, but smiling. It was almost soft, but he wouldn't say that out loud, 'cause he prefered not getting punched in the gut and called a pussy.
Thing was, eight years ago, Finn wouldn't have been surprised if it was him getting married; if it was him holding the woman in Puck's arms, swaying and beaming sweetly up at her husband, looking for all the world like tonight was better than any Tony award could ever be. He was pretty sure most of the people in the room would have expected it to be Finn and not Puck that made her look like that. Finn who twirled her around and sang in her ear and, well maybe he wouldn't have be kissing a long, teasing path down her neck right now 'cause he blushed pretty bad through public displays of affection, but still… And even though he thought that, and he knew most of their friends had at one time or another wondered whether these two could really make it work, he knew now that they were all convinced.
Finn had been convinced for awhile, 'cause he'd had a front-row seat to all of this and even though there'd been a few break-ups and a lot of fights and a few weeks where Puck drank himself into oblivion and said he hated her, only to run off to New York and force his way back into her life only to never leave, Finn always knew this day was coming. Maybe not in high school, when he still had his blinders on that one day him and her would really get it together and nothing would get in their way, but then he started to catch on that whenever she was hurt or she was having a problem, if it was him or somebody else, she was always went to Puck. And he was always there waiting for her, like he knew she was coming; that she'd always go to him; like it was fate or something. It didn't cause the problems between Finn and her, but it didn't help. They broke up a handful of times and by the time graduation came around, they agreed it was best to just stay friends.
He still loved her when he went to OSU and she went to New York. He still loved her when she visited, bright-eyed and excited and chattering a mile a minute about Broadway and how Julliard had embraced her. He loved her when she kept him at arm's length but invited Puck into her life, telling him intri cate details about her plays, dancing for him, singing her favorite songs, getting him tickets to her off-off Broadway shows, just in case he was able to come down. For years, Finn loved her but did nothing about it. He told himself that they would find their place again, one day. She'd come home from New York and she'd see him and she'd remember all the good times they had and their perfect life would get on track. But while he was waiting, Puck was doing.
Every summer, Puck went to New York and he spent two months being shown the ins and outs of Broadway; from the technical side behind the scenes to the on-stage production. He'd even had a few parts offered to him and depending on what play it was, he'd taken them up on it. He stayed at her apartment and he ate her crappy vegan food. For awhile anyway, until the craving for steak or a double cheeseburger deluxe just couldn't be ignored and he'd start whining that he was starving to death and it was all her conscience's fault. After that first summer of him complaining, she started buying him poor, dead animals to satisfy the red-meat side of him. And when the summers ended and Puck had to come back to OSU, Finn thought he'd hear the bitching and complaining about how she wouldn't shut up or how he didn't get any play all summer 'cause she kept dragging him to see musicals, but when he came back he always looked… sad. Not in a lets-drink-until-my-face-hurts sad, but a what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here-when-I-should-be-there kind of sad. And Finn realized that again they were in love with the same girl.
For four years, the cycle continued. Winter and spring break were spent in Lima, with family and friends and, depending on her schedule, even she graced her hometown. Summers were reserved for New York and even though Finn managed to get down for a week or two here or there, he felt like the third wheel and the city was too loud and he just didn't fit in like they did. But he got to see her and it was enough. He got to hear her sing in karaoke bars and watch a few of her plays, where she was in her element, and hear her tinkling laugh, and so he continued to love that girl he knew in high school who finally got all her dreams.
And then Puck finished college and Finn was going back to Lima to coach the McKinley football team. Puck went to New York. Finn didn't think of it at first, 'cause he'd had four years to do something about it, but he realized then that Puck was doing what Finn couldn't. Puck was trying. He was fighting. He was going to get the girl. Finn stayed in Lima, he worked at WMHS and he took over from Coach Beiste who was moving on to another school in another city. And to be honest, he was happy; with where he was and what he was doing. He still heard from Puck, they talked on the phone every couple of weeks and caught up on each other's lives. He never really said it, not for the longest time, but Finn knew. Puck was with her; they were happy; they were living it up in New York and nothing was going to get in their way. Occasionally, when things or life or whatever got in the way, Puck came back to Lima, to his best friend, and he admitted that shit was hard sometimes, over a bottle of Jack and some old Journey CD's. She was in her element and he was still finding his footing and sometimes, when she was out there on stage and he was just watching, he worried that he wasn't good enough for her. But after a few days and a lot of alcohol and bullshitting, Puck would pack up and head home, to New York and to her, and he'd try harder and fight to keep her and even Finn knew that was where he belonged.
And now here they were, married, and Finn grinned as the song ended and Puck leaned down to kiss her, a little more thoroughly then most of the guests probably want to see. Hands held tight, they walked back to the front table and took a seat while Finn stood from his, clanging his glass with his fork. It shattered in his hand and he frowned down at the half glass he held by the stem.
"Nice job, Franken-Finn," Puck joked lightly.
The crowd chuckled and, used to it, Finn shrugged. When they quieted, he took a deep breath. "So I'm not the greatest with words and the bride is probably going to correct me… a lot…" Light laughter answered him, putting him a bit at ease. "But seeing as I'm best man, I thought I should probably put something together…" He turned slightly to look at the couple in question and grinned widely. "Puck's been my best friend since we were six… He was the guy that told me to climb the giant tree in my backyard and who called 911 when I broke my arm falling out of it… He was the guy who goaded me into riding my bike up a home-made ramp and who called 911 when I fractured my leg when I landed… He was the guy who—Okay, let's just say that he called 911 a lot for me…"
He grinned as thick chuckles filled the room.
"He's also the guy that I never thought I'd stand next to and watch crush a glass under his foot… I never thought I'd hear him promise to love and honor just one woman…" He tossed a thumb over to him. "This guy right here used to be Lima's number one bachelor and he swore he'd never be anything different…" His grin faded into a smile. "But I realize now that what he was really saying was that it was easier not to hope for something in case it never happened..."
He nodded as the truth filled the quiet of the room and the groom lifted his wife's hand to kiss the back of it, their fingers threading.
"And then he found his hope… In this tiny, crazy diva that told every single person she met how much of a star she was going to be…"
He chuckled lowly as she held her hand to her cheek, blushing as people all nodded and shook their head, remembering her unwavering belief in herself and complete lack of filter.
"And she was right. She was right about a lot of things…" He smiled at her sincerely. "She was right when she said Puck was no Lima Loser; that he would get out and make something of himself; that she only believed in people who deserved it and that he was one of those people… She was right when she took a chance on a guy not a lot of people saw going anywhere or doing much and she was right when she said yes to being his wife…"
He lifted a shoulder, admitting, "I spent a long time being in love with this girl, thinking that one day it was me and her who were going to get the happy ending and then one day I asked myself…" His brows furrowed. "How did I let her go without a fight?" He stared at them looking up at him. "And I realized it was because she wasn't mine to fight for… That all this time that I expected it to just work out, Puck was doing everything to make sure what he wanted and what he deserved was his…" He nodded. "Which is why we're standing here today, looking at the new Mr. and Mrs. Puckerman, two people who couldn't be more imperfectly perfect for each other…" He raised his broken glass. "To Rachel and Noah, who fought to be together and who deserve every happiness… Mazel Tov."
After cheers and the band kicked up, Finn retook his seat and smiled at the whispering couple, their heads bowed together. Her hand rested against his chest, playing with the tie he'd pulled loose awhile ago, a silver band winking on her finger. They traded kisses a few times; some of them, Finn knew, was Puck just cutting her off mid-rant.
And finally, when Rachel left to dance with her dad, Finn turned to see a thoughtful Puck staring after her. "You really think this was how it was supposed to end?" he asked.
He grinned. "Dude… Nobody can handle how much of an asshole you can be than Rachel… And no guy can reign in the crazy like you can!"
Puck nodded. "I knew you were in love with her, y'know… I knew all through college…" He glanced at him and then away. "But when you weren't doing anything, I…" He sighed, shrugging. "It wasn't like with Quinn, where I wanted her 'cause you had her and got everything… Rachel was—is the only person that looked at me and thought I could be better than Puck the badass…" He smirked. "'m still a badass… But I'm also the guy who'd do anything not to lose her…"
"I know…" Finn grinned at him. "You're gonna make her happy, Puck."
It wasn't a question; he just knew that. There was no doubt whatsoever.
Puck glanced at him and then out at the excited little midget of a star twirling under her tall daddy's arm. "Yeah, I am," he agreed. "'Sides, this shit's on lockdown now… She's stuck with me."
They laughed and the tension eased and when she came back to breathlessly lean across the table and kiss Puck, Finn watched as Noah reached out and trailed his fingers across her flushed cheeks and down her neck, the wedding band on his finger catching the light and looking just… right. When she drew back, she stared at him a moment through soft, dark eyes, and then she was off, back to dancing with friends and family. And a guy who could never be happy with one woman in high school, was content to live the rest of his life with Rachel Berry.
Finn Hudson had never been so happy to lose in his life.