Author's Note: This is a continuation of Monroeslittle's Strain this Chaos, Turn it into Light. If you have not read that story, you may want to give it a go. This was literally one of the hardest things I have ever tried to write and I really hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think. This story has mild references to drug use and child abuse, so you've been warned.

Disclaimer: If I owned Glee, Chord Overstreet would have been promoted.


Its been minutes Its been days,
I remember all I will remember
Happy lost in your hair
And the cold side of the pillow
Your hills and valleys
Are mapped by my intrepid fingers
And in a naked slumber
I dream all this again


i.
It takes forever to get up the narrow stairwell. Tenancy walk-ups are not the best place for moving in furniture. But they're determined to get it up the stairs.

A pull out couch.

A pull out couch prefect for them both.

It's the first furniture they've owned that only actually belongs to them.

Jean calls Rachel and tells her that she and Sue are having a garage sale. When Finn and Rachel stop by, Jean happily offers their old pull out couch for thirty dollars. Finn almost doesn't believe her, but he can't stop grinning when they actually make the purchase. A neighbor helps them bring the couch to their apartment.

It's their furniture they've own. They moved the small twin mattress they were both previously sleeping into the kitchen-slash-living room space.

That same day, Sue tells them that they can probably qualify for food stamps. When they find out, it helps them out a lot. Rachel tears up when Sue and Jean give them kindness and help even though they're out of the system. In fact, it's more money a week than they were previously paying for food anyway. Finn likes that he and Rachel can afford to buy two different types of cereal a week.

"It's good that we can use these, Finn. We can save more for school. We have to save every cent we can," Rachel explains. Finn only nods in agreement as he mulls over whether to purchase Cookie Crisp or Kix. Rachel always grabs the Special K. She walks down the sale with the cart while he tries to make up his mind.

Every cent counts.


ii.

It's sort of scary to adjust to life completely on their own. Finn often feels that without the security blanket of the Group Home, he and Rachel could end up in a bad situation. He knows that Rachel won't let that happen, though.

And he's nervous about college. When he looks up the requirements for admittance into St. John's, his heart sinks. Ever with his athletic ability, he doesn't think he can get in. He hasn't even taken the SATs.

Rachel works after school at a little clothing shop. The pay is good, and she gets to keep some of the clothes they don't want. Finn can only work weekends and Mondays after school because of his basketball schedule. He was able to work more hours in the fall, though, and he and Rachel saved up every penny for their rent. His boss seems to try to help when he can. He takes pity on him.

Most of this basketball games are on Friday evenings at six. Tina, Mike, and Rachel try to go as often as they can. Sometimes Rachel shows up a little late if she's closing at the clothing store, but she still makes it to the game, with her Team Finn shirt on with pride.

It makes him feel like he'll get far.


iii.

Rachel gets summoned to the Guidance office one day over the loudspeaker. It's the middle of October.

Finn freaks a little as he walks her down the hall, but he can do nothing but wait nervously on the bench outside the office as Rachel goes in. When Rachel emerges twenty minutes later, she has a slightly nervous look, but the counselor is beaming.

The school is well aware of Finn and Rachel's stance in society, so when the two women emerge with different expressions that makes Finn feel worse.

"What did they want?" he asks before they're even through the doorway.

"They wanted to know why I hadn't applied to any colleges."

Finn looks at her with a questioning look as she continues. "When I looked at them with the same expression your giving me, they said because we're both emancipated minors living on very small incomes, we can qualify for all these scholarships and grants. When I expressed our interest in musicals and acting, they gave me a list of all these schools that have good programs."

"Really?"

"They basically said that with my grades it would be idiotic for me not to apply."

"But what about all the other stuff?"

"I asked them about that and they said the last SAT we can qualify for is next month. They said that Beiste already signed you up."

"She did? She didn't tell me."

Rachel smiles. "They told me to go to the library and sign up online today. It costs money, though. Like our whole budget for two weeks."

"Rachel, you have to sign up. You deserve this more than me. More than anyone." He means that, too. Plus, he knows they have some pasta and instant mashed potatoes in the cupboard they bought on sale. It would be okay.

At practice, Finn asks the Beiste about the SAT, and that's when she tells him that several scouts, not just those at St. Johns, have expressed interest in him.

"Interest?"

"Yes, Finn, interest. You are a very gifted athlete and you have more options than you think. And, you know . . . Hofstra has a rewound music department. . . "When Finn opens his mouth to ask how she knows that he has any interest in music at all, she smiles. "Yeah, I've heard you in the showers after practice. You're not bad. You're a special person, Finn. Make sure you know that."

Finn nods politely as Beiste leaves.

The following day he and Rachel go the library and take out a few books on how to take the SATs. Finn's convinced they're written in a different language.

A few weeks later, Rachel beams when she reads her exam scores on a computer at school. She did great. She has potential.

She has a chance.

Finn reads his scores and has some dismay. They aren't bad, but they aren't great either. They're just a little under the minimum average for Hofstra. After looking into schools a little more, Finn realized that Hofstra does have an amazing music program, which St. Johns doesn't. Now he's nervous that even with his basketball skills, he won't be accepted.

The only other school he applies to is Pace. But that has a major flaw in that they wanted to study Theater Arts in the city and the basketball stadium is upstate. That would mean they'd have to be apart. Apart from Rachel? That isn't going to work.


iv.

Finn has to write a personal statement. It has to be personal.

But what does that even mean?

Family.

"Rachel is my family," he types. He deletes it. He retypes it. And he starts just to write about life. His life. His life in the system.

His guidance counselor reads it for proofreading and cries. It's really awkward, actually. He shifts in his seat as he waits for her to finish writing her comments. "You don't need to change much, just some grammar and word choices," she quietly says, wiping her eyes. "This is a very impressive essay, Finn," she comments sternly, trying to get through to him. "You should be proud."

"Okay. Thanks." His eyes go from one wall to another.

"Once you edit it, you can upload this to your online application. The recommendation letters are to be confidential and sent from our office."

"Okay," he repeats.

"Okay. Great! Have a good day, Finn."

"Yeah, you too. And thanks."


v.

They have to go on interviews. For school.

When they take the train to which school?, and arrive at the school, they're both overwhelmed. It's so . . . pretty. There are lots of trees and old buildings, and even though there's lots of that in the city, it's nowhere near the kind of place that Finn ever thought he would live. If he goes to school here, he would be living here. This would be home.

And it's nice. Like, really nice.

He holds her hand tightly while they're shown all the facilities that will become their community. After the tour, they call in Rachel in first. She's in there for a long time. Like really long. Maybe too long. But she's smiling when she returns, and so is the man in his neat suit. Rachel gives Finn a warm grin, and he heads off. It's his turn. His time. His only shot.

He looks down at his hands is his lap waiting for the man to start. Then a woman comes in and joins them. "Hello, Finn," she says like she's known him her whole life.

"Hi," he replies.

"As you are aware, our athletic recruitment department is very interested in you and feels you show promise," says the man.

"Okay . . ."

"Your SAT scores and grades barely make it into our bracket for acceptance," the man continues.

"Okay . . . " Why are they telling him information he already knows?

"But we read your essay," the woman says in a gentle tone. "It was very personal. It's obvious that you had a difficult upbringing, and you had to mature faster than most kids your age. It's very admirable that you and your friend stayed in school after leaving the foster program. Not many can say that."

"Yeah, I know," he says in agreement. "Look, I have to be honest," Finn says, raising his voice a few octaves above his previous words. "I can only come here if I get a free ride. And I only come here if Rachel is here, too. I meant what I said in that paper. Rachel is my life. My world. She deserves this more than me. And given our life, neither of us can come here unless it's all paid for."

Finn comes to a stop as the man and woman look at him with wide eyes. Oh, no.

"We understand," the woman says politely.

"I would be honored to play basketball for Hofstra. And I know that my grades are really not great, but I promise you, I will not let you down. I am a hard worker and dedicate myself to all that I can. I hope that I can do that for your school's team. I have never been the best at school, but I love music and being able to learn that here, like really learn about it, not just from library books, that would be, like, the coolest thing in the world."

The pair smiles as Finn plead his case.

"I know that you said that you would like to be a musical performance major on your application, but are saying that you never took a music class?" the woman asks.

"Well, at my elementary school, we took music one day a week, and there was a choir room that Rachel and I would sneak off to in middle school, but I mainly learned on my own. In our first group home, there were drums that I would use when no one was looking, and I learned to play on my own. Rachel and I would look at the Internet to learn how to sing and read sheet music."

"You learned basic music composition, how to play an instrument, and how to sing properly all on your own? Without the help of a teacher or a mentor?" The man sounds flabbergasted and impressed.

"Well, me and Rachel did it together. We figured it out." Finn isn't sure why that's a big deal.

"That is very impressive, Finn," the woman says. She's starting to remind him of Ms. Cathy, the social worker from The House on the Hill. Did she work for the admissions office or was she another social worker? Finn wanted to know. "Not many applicants can say that they learned such difficult skills without the help of a mentor."

"I had Rachel. She was my mentor." Finn knows that mentors are supposed to be someone older than you, but in his case it's true.

"Is there anything else you would like to add?" the woman asks the man from admissions.

"What scares you most about college, Finn?" he asks.

"Everything," Finn admits honestly. "I never thought that I would be able to be here right now. This doesn't really happen to kids like me. When you're in The System, you're lucky to be alive after eighteen. I'm nervous that the other students will think I'm dumb. Or worse, feel bad for me because I grew-up in Group Homes. I'm nervous that I won't cut it – in class or on the court – and you'll throw me out. If I come here, Hofstra will be my home. Not in the temporary sense, but for real. I will have nowhere else to go. Because when you grow up with the uncertainty of living like I have my whole life…wherever you are…is home. That's also why Rachel has to come too. Because she's gonna need a home too." Pausing for a second, Finn takes in a deep breath from his ramble. "I'm starting to sound pathetic, aren't I?"

"No," the man replies. "Just human."

"Our time is up," the woman interjects, looking at the clock behind Finn. "You will receive word through the mail within the next month on whether or not you've been accepted. There are a very large number of applicants for this school, Finn, and we try very hard to find the best fit," she explains as she stands to lead him out to the lobby.

When they exit the building, Finn asks Rachel if that woman was in his meeting as well. "She was, but only for a second until she was called out by another person. Why?"

"Just wondering. That was weird right?" Finn asks her, uncertain about his fate.

"Actually, I thought my interview went well . . ." Rachel replies, which only makes him more nervous.

They check the mail every day. It's getting colder out, and their apartment is freezing. They don't pay for utilities, but that means their landlord only keeps it at 65 degrees and not a degree higher.

One afternoon, he and Rachel receive a surprise. Christmas cards to each of them from Sue and Jean. They have twenty dollars inside. It isn't a fortune, but it felt like as much to Finn.

Two weeks after winter break, they receive another surprise in the mail: the big packets welcoming them to Hofstra. For not cost at all.


vi.

Finn and Rachel make love a lot.

Finn can't get enough of it. They learn from each other what to do. He feels proud of himself when he brings Rachel to a place of ecstasy, and he holds her close every night when they sleep. "I like they way you hold me. It makes me feel safe and protected," Rachel murmurs to Finn one night before drifting off to sleep. He holds her closer. He feels safe and protected when she's just in the same building as him.

"I made an appointment for us at the Planned Parenthood off Houston for Saturday evening. We're both working morning shifts, so that was the best time." Rachel says this to Finn causally as they eat lunch on the bench outside. On school grounds.

"What? Why?"

"Because we will not become statistics, Finn. At least not more than we already are," she replies matter-of-factly. "We have to be tested for STDs and become more prepared. I am not ready to have a child anytime soon!"

"Well, neither am I!"

"Exactly! That why we have to be prepared."

He thought they wereprepared.

But he goes to Planned Parenthood with her, and by the time they're called into the exam room from the waiting area by the nurse, Finn's pulse is racing. He's never been a fan of doctors. When Mrs. Bailey took all the little kids to get their flu shots when they were little, Finn would always cry (even when he tried really hard not too), and Puck would tease him.

Rachel has a firm grip on Finn, knowing he needs the support, just like he did when they got their flu shots. The wait on the cushioned table covered in paper; the room sterile and judgmental.

"So, what brings you two here?" asks the clinic PA after pleasantries are exchanged.

"Well, I think Finn and I need to be more prepared," Rachel begins with energy.

"Prepared for what?"

"We are both very sexually active. Only with each other, but sexually active. And we had a very different upbringing—"

"The Group Homes, I saw that form you chart," the PA interjects, interrupting Rachel.

"And I just want to make sure we're both safe. We use condoms as birth control, but I still think that we should be tested for all STDs, including HIV."

"Have you two only been sexually active with one another?"

"Yes," both teens say in unison.

"Then why do you feel the need to go though such thorough testing? Have there been any other activities, such as drug use, that could put you at risk for these illnesses?"

Rachel looks down nervously at her hands. Finn knows he has to speak up about what he was doing when he lived with Puck. It was nearly two years ago, but he always knew it would come back to haunt him. Just like everything else.

"I used inter . . . interve . . ."

"intravenous," Rachel helps.

"intravenous drugs," Finn admits. Being glared down by the two women, he knows he has to admit more. "Heroin. I used Heroin before. Five times. I'm sorry." He feels the need to apologize for his risky behavior, even if he has already to Rachel a thousand times.

"How long ago?"

"Not this past summer, but the summer before. I was taken away from Rachel and was kind, you know, pissed about that. I was living with a friend, because I didn't feel safe at the foster care I was placed in. He offered the drug; I accepted."

"Did you share the needles?"

"Yes . . .," Finn mumbles, hardly above a whisper.

A grimace grows on the Physician's Assistant face, and Finn knows he's being judged. He hates this feeling. "Okay, well we'll need to do all the tests than to be on the safe side. Although it was a while ago, STDs often stay in your system for a long time before they surface. Was there anything else you wanted to discuss?"

"Yes," Rachel says loudly. It was her time to speak up. "See, if the tests come back negative, I was hoping to go on the birth control pill. I know that I want to share that level of intimacy with Finn," Rachel explains matter-of-factly. Finn blushes.

"Do you feel you can trust him?" This lady's starting to really piss Finn off.

"Yes," Rachel says, an edge of anger to her voice. That's his girl! "Finn is respectful and loving. And we spend nearly all our time together! I trust him with my life!"

The PA calmly asks, "Was there anything else?"

"Yes," Rachel says with a more even tone. Finn can see that she's gathering her thoughts before she starts to explain. "See, with the childhood we had, it's easy for us to become statistics. I know that we're not ready for a baby, but I want us to be safe. To go against the status quo. Finn and I have worked very hard to not let that happen. We both just got full rides to Hofstra. I want to make sure I can be safe with my love and do things on my own terms."

Finn feels so proud of his girl. She always stands her ground. She explains, then, that she was not like the other bleeding hearts seeking hand-outs from the clinic. Finn never thought he could love Rachel more than he did, but then she does stuff like this, his love does grow.

"Well, if your tests come back negative, I don't see why you can't go on the pill to prevent pregnancy. But to have that level of trust in another partner is risky, so I do recommend that you use condoms as another form of protection as well." Both teens nodded as she goes on. "I also think that it is great that you are trying to be cautious and that you are aware of the risks that come along with the lifestyle you grew up in. And, don't worry, there's a huge Planned Parenthood in Hempstead right by Hofstra in case anything happens." She asks Rachel to leave for a moment to perform the tests on Finn.

He has never been so violated in his entire life. This is karma getting him back for the idiotic drug use.

The results are negative, and Rachel starts to take the Pill. The first night that Finn and Rachel make love without a condom (well, since their first time) is the best night of his life. That happens several, several times.


vii.

Mike and Tina turn eighteen in the winter and move in with Finn and Rachel. They sleep on the tiny mattress in the living room and kitchen area. Mike and Tina slowly became "together" the way Finn and Rachel did, but Finn's not sure if their plans are the same. To remain together through everything. He's never asked.

Mike and Tina living with them makes things a little easier. Finn and Rachel can save more. "Every cent counts," Rachel recites over and over again to Finn whenever he wants to spend money on something else. He knows she's right, though.

They get through the end of the school year with some money in the bank. Finn is happy when Jean and Sue accept their invitation to their graduation.

"Not many kids, once they leave the system, finish high school. I am proud of you – all four of you – for doing so," Sue says with a broad chest of pride, only to frown, her face contorting. "Goddamnit! I really, really hate it when I get attached!"

They work all summer, Rachel at the clothing store five days a week and a few evenings a week waiting tables, Finn six days a week for the landscaping company. They're both working so hard and barely see one another.

"How about we go out to a really nice meal on Sunday?" Finn suggests one morning over cereal. It's the first day off both of them have had together in a long time. And it's a weekend day.

"I wish we could, Finn. So much. But we can't," Rachel pleads, watching Finn's face fall into disappointment.

"Why not?"

"Because we have to save every cent. Our books for our first semester alone are probably going to cost more two months' rent!"

"Are you serious?"

"Yes. And that's even if we purchase them used online. But . . . I can think of something we can do that doesn't cost any money at all . . ." Rachel's cheeky voice suggests a fun day, but Finn still wants to do something nice for Rachel. Something that would make her glow and sparkle. He hasn't seen her like that in a long time.

Finn suggests they take a walk in the park and he makes them a "gourmet" lunch of turkey sandwiches and macaroni salad. Rachel says that sounds perfect, and then they go home and enjoy their time alone . . . together.

Mike and Tina work a lot too. They both find jobs at a dessert restaurant in Park Slope. Finn is jealous of them, because they make decent money in the trendy neighborhood and they get to work together. He feels like he and Rachel hardly even see each other. He knows that he's working so much so that he won't get "in trouble" like the last time he was away from her, but it's still tough.

Life with her is the only one he understands.


viii.

Hofstra starts to become a reality when the letters start come in. They're all about orientation and housing and vaccinations. It's scary. Finn never thought he would make it this far. He never saw college as a real part of his future until it was, and now . . . he's kinda overwhelmed.

"I'm overwhelmed too," Rachel admits one humid night in bed. She nuzzles her head into his chest and breathes in his scent. Finn loves when she does that. He feels like a grown up when she does that.

"We're gonna have to live in different places." He's so used to sleeping beside her that it'd be weird not doing so.

"Baby, plenty of boys and girls have shared those tiny, tiny dorm beds before us – and plenty will after us. There's nothing to worry about." Rachel's face is moving closer and closer to his as she arches up to kiss him. "There's nothing to worry about."

There's nothing to worry about.


ix.

It's a "party school."

Finn's read that online on several websites, but he isn't sure what that really meant until he's there. He has to move in two weeks early because he's an athlete, even though his sport doesn't start up for a few months, which didn't really make sense to him. Why does he need to leave Rachel just to meet his team and run some drills?

This becomes even more tedious when at their first "practice," the team readied their Fall Practice Schedule in which the first meeting is listed in October.

It's soon after that he learns what a party school means. It seems like everyone is always at the party, and if you miss one, you're falling behind.

He doesn't really like the parties, but his teammates make him seem like a loser for not wanting to go. Finn Hudson is not a loser. He usually just has a beer and mingles a little, but it still isn't his scene. He'll participate anyway because these kids didn't know him. And they don't know his past. And they didn't treat him like some foster kid, and that . . . well, that feels nice. Good. It's acceptance.

Over the weekend he takes an overpriced train ride to visit Rachel. Aftershe lectures him how he shouldn't have used money towards that, she gives him a deep kiss and hugs him tight. It's her last day of work. She takes a few days off to pack and help Mike and Tina move. They're going to community college part time and have a place near their job in Brooklyn. Finn says they can have their couch.

Finn's roommate hasn't arrived yet. He moves in on Friday with the rest of the freshman. At least Finn he got his pick of the beds.

He meets his roommate a few days later. He's a government major and thinks Finn is nothing but a jock. He's wealthy and drives a really nice car. One night when Rachel comes over, Finn sees him checking her out when she bends over to tie her shoe. For all the things Finn could be jealous of his roommate about, Finn knows his roommate is jealous of Finn because of one thing. Finn can't help but enjoy the feeling.

Rachel helps him a lot with his schoolwork, like she always has. Since they're in the same major, they have a lot of the same classes, but they're with different professors, so they are still really different. There is a student tutoring center that helps him a lot. He sees a few other guys from his team there, and he realizes that he's not the only one who isn't a perfect straight-A student.


x.

His boss at the landscaping company gives him a recommendation for a job near Hofstra.

The guy at the new company has a Celtic accent and tells Finn that he has a good Irish name.

"Um, I don't know my nationality," Finn explains politely.

"Finn is a good Irish name," his boss replies.

Finn only nods his head and gets back to work.

The houses that he works at now are much bigger than the houses he irrigated in the city. The houses are large and imposing. Wealthy and extravagant. He looks at the homes in awe. They are only one town away from his school, but they seem like they are in another world.

He makes better money, but it's still overwhelming there.

"They're, like, really big," Finn explains one night over luke-warm pasta in the dining hall.

"Really. Well, no wonder it's better money," she muses while stirring her spaghetti on her fork.

"Yeah, but it makes me think about the House on the Hill a lot. About where we come from." Finn looks down at his food as Rachel looks up at Finn. He knows she's looking at him with her sympathetic, puppy eyes, but he doesn't want to look up.

She takes his hand, and he looks up anyway. "Hey," she starts. "We are no longer sad, little foster kids." Her face becomes serious. He tries to look down, but she grips his had tighter, demanding his attention. "We are grown adults who are self-sufficient and financially stable. Very few people our age can say that. Just look at my pathetic, drunken roommate. Her parents give her money like once a week for booze, and she goes home every weekend for more. Really, what's the point in going away to school if you're going to do that?"

"I don't know. . . ." Honestly, he doesn't understand that either. "But it gives us more alone time together," he adds with a cocky half-grin.

Rachel smiles and shakes her head. "Finn, you know you are no longer one of those kids anymore, right?"

"Yeah." He agrees just to appease her, but he knows that it's something he'll never really get over, something that he'll always be a little ashamed of.

Rachel works at a popular chain restaurant about twenty minutes away from the school. The place is always crowded with a long wait due to their family friendly atmosphere. Rachel only works Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but she makes a very large amount of money in tips.

Despite that, Finn knows that he and Rachel have to save. "Every cent counts," Rachel constantly recites.

He picks her up every night – because she gets out so late – and walks with her back to campus. He likes to make her feel safe, and he knows she likes it, too.

Finn doesn't get to play a lot this season. It's expected as a freshman. But he likes his teammates and they include him in all their team activities, both sanctioned and unsanctioned, so Finn still really likes being a part of this. He knows they're special and have recognition. It makes him feel special.

"Being a part of something special makes you special," Rachel muses to him one night over Hershey's Kisses. A very rare, but much needed, splurge. It is finals week, after all.

After a second of contemplation, Finn's dimpled half-smile appears. "Yeah," he agrees. They're sprawled out on his floor, Rachel resting her head on his stomach while she reads the book her final English paper is on. Finn's supposed to be working on his Take-Home for Nutrition, but he has something far more interesting to pay attention to.

"I feel special because I'm with you, Finn." She stares at him with her wide, innocent puppy-dog eyes of wonder that make Finn's heart pound. She looks down and says, "You've always made me feel that way. Ever since the first day we met at the House on the Hill. I know I'm 'okay' because of you."

Finn takes Rachel's book from her hands and pulls her into his arms. Holding her as close as possible. "I'm okay because of you," he repeats, pulling her chin up to look into her eyes. She smiles back at him and leans her head down onto his shoulder.

It's one of those perfect moments. The fan is actually blowing cool air into his third floor room, the sun is just setting, and Rachel starts to fall asleep in his arms.

Perfect.


xi.

"Where are we going to live this summer?" Finn asks one abnormally warm night in early April.

They know that the end of the school year is upon them, and they need to figure out what to do next. They had originally planned to live with Mike and Tina, but their studio apartment would be really cramped with all four of them. Plus, Finn and Rachel were making a lot more here than they were in the city.

"I don't know. I mean, we can live on campus, but only if we get work study jobs. But, it's so much cheaper than if we look for a place on our own."

"We won't be able to live together, though."

"But we'll probably be in the same building."

"And how are we gonna be able to work at work-study positions and our jobs?"

"Our jobs are just going to have to be accommodating. I'm sure we'll both be able to work full time and live on campus. It will work out. I promise."

It's almost annoying how optimistic Rachel is. She's right, though. It all works out.

Finn is able to get a job at the mailroom moving boxes on Thursdays and Fridays. Those are the slowest days at the landscaping business, so he's making about the same amount in the mailroom than if he were breaking his back, and the mail room has air conditioning. Rachel's able to pick up a few more shifts at the restaurant and work at the school weight room in the mornings checking IDs to earn her bedroom.

It turns out to be a perfect summer. They even take a bus ride to the beach. It's the first time either of them have gone.


xii.

Every cent does count.

Finn feels that more than ever sophomore year. As theater performance majors, they are required to be much more involved with the Hofstra theater program this year, and it's hard. Rachel's offered the lead role in their fall production of Phantom of the Opera.

That means she can only work Thursday and Sunday nights now to accommodate her rehearsal schedule, which pays decent money, but not nearly what she was making last year.

Finn has to cut his hours at work, too, because of school and basketball. He has a role in the play as well. It's not as big as Rachel's, but he still has to attend rehearsals. He gets to spend time with Rachel, though, so he really can't be too upset. The professors in the theater and music departments tell Rachel and Finn constantly that they are more talented than they think. Finn still isn't sure, but he appreciates the complements. He also appreciates the way Rachel's face beams – how her eyes squint and her shoulders rise – when the complements are paid to them.

Finn's workouts with their trainers have been much more intense, and he's playing in the games more; featured more. He makes an awesome three-pt shot in their most recent game one Wednesday night and a few rebounds. Hearing the cheer from the crowd feels great. Almost as good as Rachel's big hug at the end of the game.

The following Saturday, while trimming the bushes at a very large house, Finn gets, like, noticed.

"Hey, you? Hofstra Pride?"

Finn looks down at his team sweatshirt and then up at the man dressed far too nice for running errands on a weekend morning. "Yeah?"

"You're the kid who made that sweet rebound at the game on Wednesday, right?" The man starts to walk up the path towards Finn.

"Oh, yeah, that was me," Finn looks down at his feet.

"That was great man," the man says, clapping Finn's shoulder.

"Thanks," Finn mumbles.

"Do you work for Billy?"

"Yeah, on weekends. Keeps some money in my pocket. I'm Finn." He extends his hand, and the older man accepts.

"Great. I'm Rodney. I hope I get to see you at more games. I'm an alumni and a season ticket holder."

"Really? That's cool."

"Yeah. And good luck. I think you kids will make it into March Madness this year."

"I hope so. Have a good afternoon."

"You too, kid." Finn sees the man walk towards his boss and tries not to eavesdrop, but he can't help it. He looks down at the hedges when he hears. "Try to have that kid work on my house whenever you're here. I like knowing that a Hofstra kid is working my house."

The goofy grin on Finn's face appears without him even know. Every cent counts. But so far, this year has been worth every penny.


xiii.

Finn loves it when Rachel curls up beside him while they're in bed together. "Her Nook" she calls it.

After making love one evening at the end of the semester (Rachel's roommate had already moved back home), Rachel lies curled up against Finn, with her head against her chest, as they perused the program from the Spring Musical which Rachel starred in.

"You were amazing, baby," Finn croons as he pulls Rachel closer to him. She can never get close enough.

"Yeah, but I don't like this book," she says, closing the pamphlet.

"Why? You look beautiful in your headshot."

"It's not that. I just don't like that it says 'Rachel Berry.' I wish it said 'Rachel Hudson.'"

His eyes widen and his heart pounds in his chest. "Why?" he asks, because he has to know.

"Because I love you. Because it feels right. Because you're the only family I've ever known." She looks up at him and down to his arm. She runs her fingertips over the small, circular scars. She gently kisses one of them and looks back up to Finn's face. "I love you," she finishes.

"Do you want to get married?" he asks, because he has to know.

"Do you want to get married?" she repeats.

"I love you," he responds, because he doesn't know what else to say. He pulls her up to him and kisses her tenderly.

"I love you, too," she echoes, kissing him again.

They make love for a second time that evening. And for some reason it's different.

Did they just get . . . engaged?


xiv.

He tells Rachel he's on his way to the bank after picking his paycheck on a warm Friday night.

She says she's going to order his favorite dinner - baked ziti - because it's the end of finals and she wants to celebrate. Finn wants to celebrate too, but he has other plans in doing so.

He enters the small shop scared. This is the type of thing he would talk to Rachel about. Or at least he thinks it is. He's not really sure actually. He is sure that he should do this. That he wants to do this for her. For him. For them.

It should be a surprise. She likes surprises. And she likes traditions. And this is the most traditional surprise, like, ever.

The store is on the quaint village street near all the busy streets that surround their campus. He knows that it's better that it's from a place like that. It's late in the evening, and the sun is bright orange before setting. He's the only customer and the few people around the counter eagerly wait as Finn paces around a bit.

"Can I help you?" asks a pretty woman, in her forties.

"I want to buy a wedding band for my girlfriend," he says softly.

"Are you sure you don't mean an engagement ring?" ask a man in a dress shirt, around the same age as the woman.

"I can't afford an engagement ring."

"Oh, do you mind me asking how much you have?" the woman asks.

"Around three hundred, but I can go up to five. She's not flashy, so I don't want to get her anything . . . you know . . . big. She simple and elegant."

"Okay…"

"Can I afford to get her something?" Finn asks nervously. He knows the people waiting on him could sense his nerves. He wants to get Rachel something perfect, but he isn't sure he can afford it.

"Yes, we have some options . . . " says the man as they lead Finn over to the rings. Both salespeople are extremely polite as Finn made his choice.

His heart is pounding.

He wants to plan out what he's going to say. A speech. He has an idea, but it still isn't a grand lecture.

He's nervous. He has to do this now. There is no way he can keep this a secret form her, and it has to be a surprise.

The weight in his pocket is an anchor for his feet. He can barely get through the doorway.

"Did you get to the bank on time?" Rachel asks as she sets the small folding card table with their dinner.

He can't speak. "Yeah," he breathes out.

She walks up to him with utensils in her hands and leans up for a kiss. "Hello."

"Hello."

They have another quick peck. "Hello," she repeats.

"Hello," he murmurs again as she turns around to place the fork and knife down.

It's now or never. He goes down on one knee and opens the box.

She turns back towards him and gasps. "Finn!" she squeaks.

"Rachel . . ." he starts, his hands trembling.

She lets in a long breath.

"Rachel, I love you. You are the only family I've ever known, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Because of you I'm here now. Because of you I'm alive. And I'm sorry it's not an engagement ring with a big diamond, but I could afford it. Its rose gold because pink is your favorite color, but you also like gold, so I thought you might like it. And I love you . . . and . . . will you marry me?" The words ran out of his mouth in a big, mumbled mess.

Rachel's trembling, tears in her eyes. And then she started nodded frantically. "Yes!" she cries softly.

"I love you," he says as he grabs her and pulls her into his arms. They fall onto the floor, Rachel sitting in Finn's lap, and he kisses her hard.

He hands her the box and she stares at the ring. Then she closes the box and holds it against her chest. She leans forward and kisses him again. "I love you," she murmurs.

"Aren't you gonna put it on?" Finn asks.

"No. I want to wear this for the first time when you place it on my finger. On our wedding day."

Finn smirks. "But how will you know if it fits?"

"Is it a size seven?"

"Yeah." How did she know that?

"Then it fits."

She kisses him again, and he kisses her back. And as the intensity increases they know their dinner is going to get cold, but he doesn't care. They make love to celebrate a milestone they will never forget.

A little while later they lay on the floor with two pillows for their heads, a blanket underneath, and a blanket on top. Rachel's fallen asleep and Finn can't help but stare. He caresses her hair as he watches her body gently rise and fall with her little breaths. This is love.

She's perfect and wonderful and his best friend. His survival. His love.


xv.

Three weeks later finals are finished, they've secured their jobs for the summer, and Rachel insists on whisking Finn away.

"Can you tell me where we're going?" he begs as they walked down Astoria Blvd in Astoria, Queens.

"No," she indigently replies with her nose up.

"Why not?"

"Because, Finn, it's a surprise. That's the whole point of surprises."

"Fine," he groans as he shifts his feat.

They have to take a Long Island Rail Road Train and a subway ride just to get there, and now they have to walk a bunch of blocks, too? Ugh, where is she taking him?

"It's just a little bit further," she says sweetly, as she takes his hand. She practically skips down the street as they get to their destination.

The Fashionable Male.

"Rachel, what is this?" Is she, like, trying to give him a makeover?

"Finn," she says softly but seriously.

"Yeah?" Okay, maybe she isn't trying to give him a makeover.

"I love you, and I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with you." Finn didn't know his heart rate could change that fast. Tears are starting to form in her eyes "I want . . . I want to give you this."

As Rachel grabs her purse and pulls out a small box with a bow, his heart starts to pound even faster.

Opening it up and seeing the ring, his wedding ring, he feels all warm and gooey inside. He closes the space between them and kisses her. At a time like this, how could he not?

"But why are we here?" he asks, as they break apart.

"Because you have to look sharp on our wedding day in a few days," she cheerfully replies as taps his noise with her pointer finger.

Rachel helps him pick out his first suit, telling him he looks very handsome. He isn't too sure, but she looks really happy, so he knows she isn't lying. She also explains that she took him all the way there so that he could get a really nice suit for cheaper.

A few days later, they go to New York City Hall and marry.

Finn places the ring he bought Rachel on her for the first time, and she squeezes his hands tightly. Mike, Tina, Sue, and Jean are all in attendance, and they all clap loudly once when Finn and Rachel are "Pronounced Husband and Wife." As a surprise, Rachel sets up a brunch for them with some of their friends from school, some of their neighbors from Sue's house, as well as those who went to City Hall with them. Rachel's disappointed when she's unable to get in contact with Mrs. Bailey, who she also wanted there today, but maybe that's for the best.

Eating her omelet, Tina perks up to says, "I love y-ya-your dress, Rachel."

"Thank you," Rachel replies, the rose-tinted glow even brighter on her face.

"Who-who-who is it by?"

"It's a no-name. I got if for fifty bucks at a vintage shop near our school."

Tina and Rachel share a wide smile even though Finn has no idea why. He's just glad that she's wearing the earrings and necklace he bought her all those years ago. And her wedding band, of course.


xvi.

They decide to live in a little studio apartment Rachel finds on Craigslist. Now that they're husband and wife, they're not living in separate dorms. But that meant money's tight, even tighter than before.

Rachel goes on auditions. Lots of auditions.

And then she finally she gets a part. It's just a community theater show at the Old Westbury Arts Festival one town away from Hofstra, directed by one of their theater professors.

"I'm Kate Monster. I got the part. I'm Kate Monster! I also get to play Lucy, the Slut."

"Lucy, the Who?" Finn questioned. No one is going to call his wife a slut.

"Lucy, the Slut. She's a pink, fuzzy monster puppet with big boobs."

Finn couldn't help but chuckle. "Well, as long as she's a pink fuzzy monster..." he croons, and he pulls Rachel in for hug, nuzzling her neck.

"And it's a paid part! It doesn't pay much, and I'm still gonna have to wait tables, but it's a start. I'm a believer in starts. Then the rest is inevitable! And you know . . . there are a lot of amazing male parts in Avenue Q. They're still holding auditions. You should go."

Her optimism is contagious, but he's still skeptical. "I don't know, Rach. I don't think I'm ready for that. I'm not as talented as you."

"Trust me, Finn: you're really good. Please try to go tomorrow before you have to be work."

His dimpled smile appears and he agrees to go.

He gets the part of Nicky. It's a small role, but he feels it fits his personality. It helps that one of their professors is directing the play, so he knows Finn and Rachel's strengths well.

"You're special, Finn," their professor tells him one night after a performance. "I know that you and Rachel have a lot of expenses, and you're supposed to be some big basketball star next year, but don't give up on performing. You are very talented." Finn smiles. "Oh, and you have that."

"What?" He has no idea what she's referring too.

"That." She gestures theatrically. "That perfect, lopsided, dimpled smile. That's not just any smile. That's a movie star smile."

Finn blushes.

The rest of Finn and Rachel's summer is spent in hard-working, newlywed bliss.


xvii.

They hardly ever talk to Mike and Tina anymore. Finn hasn't heard from Puck since the end of sophomore year of High School. Rachel occasionally calls Jean to say hello and catch up, but somehow that life is all in the past. Finn's even surprised that they came to their City Hall wedding.

Rachel storms into his practice one day in January with a worried, terrified face. Something's wrong.

Finn sees her talking to the coach with distress and he stops paying attention to the practice game.

"Hudson!" his coach calls out to bring him over to the sidelines.

His coach starts to walk away as Finn walks up to Rachel.

"Finn . . . " she squeaks out.

"What's going on?" he asks, worried.

"Puck . . . he. . . ." She starts tearing up, "He . . . overdosed. . . ." She whispers the last word, ashamed for Puck, before collapsing into Finn with tears in her eyes.

He holds her close and his heart his pounding against her hair. "How did you find out?"

"Jean called," she says, voice muffled. "They had her house listed as his last permeate residence." She looks up into Finn's eyes. "They found him in an abandoned apartment near Fordham when someone called the police about his smell. He was left alone like that." She collapses into him again, crying.

The funeral service is sad. Even though they hardly knew him anymore, it still feels strange. At one point Finn and Rachel considered Puck family, and now he's gone. He thinks back to their childhood at The House on the Hill, and the day they left because of Mr. Bailey, and how leaving their lead to bad things, and how he was able to move back with Sue, and how he was able to grow up. Able to become an adult.

He thinks of these things and feels ashamed. Guilty. Puck could have those things too. And if Finn didn't have Rachel to watch over him in times of trouble, if she weren't there to help him make decisions . . . would this be him?

"You can't think that way," she tells him on the train ride back to school.

He tells her how he feels because he has to. She's the only one to make sense of it.

"But, Rachel, what if . . ."

"NO!" she yells in the middle of the train car. "You are not Puck! And it has nothing to do with me! You are a person who chose to be good. Everyone has a choice to be good or bad. My mom, your uncle, they chose to be bad. But you . . . you chose good. The admirable choice."

"But I'm not!" Finn pleads. "At the Hummel's . . . I set things on fire. And I've used drugs . . . and . . . and. . . ."

"And what? You're going to dwell on mistakes from your childhood? You knew that basketball and the group home and school and work were better and safer places than . . . there. Don't dwell on small mistakes of the past."

"But —"

"But nothing. You are an admirable man, Finn!"

A tension-filled silence accompanies them for the rest of the journey home. They go to bed that night, and Rachel holds Finn tightly. Maybe she's right?

Money is still really tight. They can barely get by. Luckily they're able to keep their meal plan even though they live off campus. Therefore they eat most of their meals at the dining hall. It helps, but it still isn't enough. As school goes on, he and Rachel need to participate more in school performances. It's required. It's also cutting into their work hours. But sometimes some guys from the team go the performances and it feels good. Pride. Just like his team represents.

They work over the summer and save nearly every cent. They live off Ramen Noodles and leftovers from Rachel's restaurant. They work as hard as they can. They save enough to get by, but not more than that.


xviii.

By the end of their Senior Year, school is harder than ever before. Finn has to perform in a music showcase. It's the hardest thing he's ever done, but it's his thesis, and it has to get done.

"You'll do great," Rachel chimes in her encouraging, cheery voice.

"I don't think so," he grumbles back.

"God, you really don't know how special you are yet, do you?"

She's annoyed now. He didn't mean to make her upset, but he's noticed, since they've been married, they aren't so . . . cautious . . . around one another. They let each other know how they feel, and in this case, when one partner is annoying the other.

"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get you upset. I'm just . . . I know that I've become a much better performer, and a much more talented musician, but sometimes, when I see how talented the others are, I get nervous that my shortcomings will be more noticeable."

"You're really good, Finn." Rachel's wide, doe-eyed response fills Finn's heart with joy. She smiles back sweetly as he smiles at her and they hug, and somehow her reassurance made him feel like a million bucks.

He performs well. It could have been better, but he didn't have much time to rehearse. In fact, he had barely anytime to rehearse at all. He only had a few hours. Anyway, he still does okay. A few of his teammates even attend and then stop by backstage afterward to congratulate him. That's what a team is all about.

He and Rachel are a team too. The best team.

Basketball season is tougher than ever. Finn is a starting member and they are doing well, like, really well. He knows that he's not going to be a draft pick – mainly because he's more of a defenseman and not a jump shot guy – but he wants to make his school proud. He wants to make Rachel proud. So he's working hard, and people are appreciating it. He even got a big tip from Rodney, the Hofstra alumni he mows for on Saturdays, when he trimmed his hedges.

"You deserve this kid," Rodney says before taking his vintage Beamer for a spin.

Rachel works a lot because Finn has practice so often. She's been making decent tips, but money just keeps getting tighter and tighter. She says it's okay, but Finn knows it's not. Whenever he asks her how she feels and she responds with "okay" he looks down at his feet. Rachel is still getting to be in plays at school, and it's awesome, but he knows it's not enough for her.

He wants to do something special for her, but he's not sure what to do. He doesn't have much time to think about it anyway because March is coming up soon. The team needs to do their best.

Then he gets the opportunity to do one of the most special things he's done for Rachel, like, ever.

His teammate comes up to him after a game and asks if Finn and Rachel had decided on their living situation after graduation. Finn tells him that he and Rachel know they want to move to the city, but he's not sure where, or if they can afford it. His friend explains that he and his girl were able to find a really nice place in the city, but they needed someone to share it with to afford it. This guy's girl just got into Columbia Law.

Rachel jumps into Finn's arms when he tells her the good news. They make love for the first time in weeks. He hasn't seen her so happy since the start of basketball season, even though she still goes to every game to cheer him on. The first of April, Finn and Rachel move their very small amount of furniture to their new apartment, which is in a brand new building off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

It's nowhere near Columbia Law, but his teammate's girlfriend didn't seem to mind.


ixx.

Graduation is totally awesome.

Finn and Rachel both dress up in cap and gown, and Rachel's has gold tassels, 'cause she's graduating with honors. Finn couldn't feel more proud. Waiting in the courtyard near the auditorium, he can't help but admire her as they mosey across the large portion of grass.

"You look amazing," he mutters as he wraps his right arm around her waist and places kisses against her neck.

"Finn," she says softly, trying to get his attention. She grabs her cap as she repeats, "Finn!"

He still doesn't stop.

"Finn!" she says with force, and he finally removes his lips from her neck. "You are not going to give me a hickey right before our graduation!" She pushes him away.

"Fine," Finn grumbles. "But you do look very pretty," he says before stealing a quick peck on the lips.

"You look good, too," she replies as she grabs his hand and pulls him through the grassy area. "C'mon, we're going to be late."

Finn loves these moments when she reminds him of little Rachel, his best friend with pigtails and a rock collection.

They sit next to each other at the event, because they're in the same major and have the same last name and it just feels right. Sue and Jean actually accept their invitation to attend, as do Mike and Tina. They graduated from CUNY Queens yesterday, and Finn and Rachel went to their ceremony.

It feels good to have his name announced and to walk across the stage. To receive the leather-bound folder containing his future. It feels even better to see Rachel follow right after him.

Afterward Finn, Rachel, Mike and Tina all go out to Rachel's restaurant for dinner to celebrate that they made it out. To celebrate that they're doing well for themselves and no longer little orphans with sad stories. They've moved on.

It's even cooler when Rachel's boss practically gave them their meals for free as a graduation gift, and they even got to enjoy a few beers as a real form of celebration. He and Rachel make really passionate love that night, and it's the first time they really felt like grown-ups on their own without the protective environment of school.

Adults.


xx.

He goes on an audition that his professor – the one that directed Avenue Q – told him about. His professor sent him an e-mail that he was perfect for the part and that he had to audition for Cory, the loveable jock with a song in his heart.

Finn thinks the play's funny. It's definitely funny. It's one of the first scripts that makes him laugh out loud. Plus, the music was all music he knew —Queen, The Doors, Kanye, even the Rolling Stones. That makes the play so much more special.

He doesn't think too much about it. The play is by April Rhodes, who's still riding a wave of success from Crossrhodes: the April Rhodes Story. He knows he's not gonna get the part. It's the lead. The Lead, Lead. An. The only leading role he had was in a small play his junior year that was in "The Small Theater" and only had three nights of showings. His resume is mealy and he knows it, but it doesn't hurt to audition. His professor claims they're looking for "fresh faces."

He doesn't tell Rachel about it. He doesn't want to get her hopes up, and he doesn't want to jinx it either. The part is too good to talk about. Whatever happens will happen, and that's the only way he chooses to look at it.

It's intimidating up on a Broadway stage. So much so than anything else Finn had done before. Playing on a Division I team was intimidating for sure, but he was on the court with other players and even larger group of supporters with teammates, coaches, and fans on the sidelines. Plus, you know, Rachel.

This is just him, and . . . well . . . it's scary.

"Next!" calls out the man with gray curly hair and glasses.

Finn walks out from the wings with sides in his hands and a nervous smile. This is the most intense thing he's ever done. "Hello, my name in Finn Hudson, and I will be auditioning for the role of Cory."

"Ah, yes, Finn Hudson. Gabriella spoke highly of you."

"Yeah, Professor Simon is awesome."

"Yes, she is 'awesome.' Whenever you're ready."

". . . you'll lose your football scholarship."

"My football scholarship? To where?" Finn quivers.

It goes . . . okay. He sings Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl" since it's in the script. They seem impressed by the fact that he can sing and play drums at the same time. When he gets a callback two days later, he realizes he did better than expected.

When Finn receives the phone call that he would be starring in the show, he can't be more thrilled. He has to tell Rachel right away.

"Finn! Finn!" Rachel calls out as she came screaming into the apartment. When he turns around, she jumps up and wraps her arms around his neck. "Finn! I have huge news!"

"I have huge news, too!" he replies, his mouth starting to hurt because he's smiling so wide.

"I got a part!" she cheers. "A part in a show! A real Broadway musical! And it's funny, and smart, and satirical —and —and Perfect! It's called—"

"New Directions: The Tales of the McKinley High Glee Club," Finn says, cutting off Rachel off.

"How did you . . .?"

Finn lets her go and holds out his hand. "Hi Lea, I'm Cory, the strapping football star with a song in his heart."

"AHH!" she hollers as she jumps back into his arms and kisses him hard.

Two weeks later Finn and Rachel go to their first day of work together.


xxi.

They all sit on the cafeteria chairs located on the rafters. The red, sound-absorbing padded wall behind them hides the back of the stage.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Choir Room," says the director. "And now I would like to introduce you to the brains behind this operation —Ms. April Rhodes."

They cheer and clap as April sashays in. "Hello, my name is April Rhodes and I'm an alcoholic." The lot stare blankly at her. "Opps. Sorry. Wrong meeting." They laugh. "Ahh, that got you to smile."

Rachel sits up straight and takes Finn's hand as they listen to April and the Director explain the play. Finn looks over to Rachel and her glowing face and smiles. He squeezes her hand and smiles at her, and they listen to April explain that several of the characters are based on real people.

"Hey Dimples, I know that you're a cutie pie, and that's your sweetheart, but you can't screw this up."

"Huh?" Finn replies.

The rehearsal goes great. Afterward, Rachel and Finn go out to dinner with the rest of their cast. The girl who plays the popular head cheerleader is Quinn Fabray, a pretty girl from San Francisco. She and Rachel seem to hit it off, both of them being vegetarians. There's also a guy named Artie Abrams, whom Finn gets along well with. The entire cast seems to becoming friends well and getting along. They all have a feeling that New Directions is something special, and like Rachel has said: being part of something special makes you special.

It's really hard work, though.

They have to be at rehearsal everyday early, and they're there all day. But at least they are together, because Finn wouldn't have it any other way. Luckily they're getting paid throughout rehearsal and because they're out of the theater by five pm, Rachel's still able to wait tables a few nights a week, and Finn's able to get a job ushering at Million Dollar Quartet, which is such a cool show. They, like, all play their own instruments.

The previews for the show are going well. Everyone's saying that the show is getting buzz. It's a wonderful feeling. Then by opening night, the show is perfect; and Finn can't have been more proud. They're growing up. And they receive a standing ovation.


xxii.

The reviews are good. Like, really good. Ben Brantley of the New York Times raved about the sweet, funny show that had potential to be a major moment of the Zeitgeist. They're selling out and word of mouth is making it even bigger.

In their actor bios for their Playbills, Finn and Rachel, like several others in the cast, have "Broadway Debut" as their opening words. Then they have a list of their Hofstra accolades, and they thank each other and all their mentors throughout the years. Finn isn't sure what else to put, so he thanks Sue, Jean, Mike, Tina, Coach Beiste and even Puck. Then he thanks Mrs. Bailey, "wherever she is for giving him someplace less scary."

A lot of reporters and journalists think it's cute that Finn and Rachel are married. Anne Curry on the Today Show asks them a few questions about it before they perform one day during the 9 o'clock hour. But, when the New York Magazine article comes out, it was a much bigger deal.

Finn and Rachel speak honestly to the magazine about their Group Home upbringing – their refusal to live in foster care and the reason they left the House on the Hill. Their willingness to contribute would up being part of an expose about the psychology of abused children and the New York Foster Care system. It's a gut wrenching piece that shocks Finn at first.

After reading the statistics about causes of abandoned children, child abuse, and the outcome of kids put in Foster Care — Finn's conflicted. He's glad that he turned out okay, but seeing the numbers of how many don't . . . it hurts. Like, physically hurts. Maybe all this shouldn't have happened to him? Like he doesn't deserve it?

"It's not a matter of deserving it or not, Finn," Rachel sympathetically explains one night as they get ready for bed. "It's a matter of earning. You worked hard, and you earned this role. This job. This stance in life."

"But, Rachel . . . " Finn sighs.

"But, NOTHING!" Rachel reprimands.

They turn down the sheets and climb into their bed in silence. Staring up at the moonlight on the ceiling, lying stiff with the comforter up to his chest, Finn quietly says, "I wouldn't have any of this if I hadn't met you." He turns towards her and squeezes his pillow tight. "You saved me, Rachel. If we hadn't met, who knows what could have happened. You were the person who kept me away from the bad things. You protected me and helped me learn right from wrong."

Rachel moves on to her side and inches closer to her husband. She clenches the covers close to her chest and looks down in shame. "Finn, before you came to the House on the Hill I wasn't one of the good kids. Not that the other kids were all good too, but I would scream and yell, and I would try to be better, but it was hard. I would play with the other kids, but it wasn't until you came and we became best friends that I started to get better. Like really better. You saved me too," she explains.

Finn wraps his arm over her waist and pulls her close. He touches his forehead to hers as she starts to fall asleep. They saved each other. If they had not met each other they probably would be two other people added to the statistics in that article. They saved each other.


xxiii.

The show gets nominated for Tony's. Like, lots of Tony's. Rachel even gets nominated for Best Actress in a Musical. It's exciting.

Finn gets a tuxedo for the occasion. And not just any tux, one of the ladies in the costume department helps him, and he gets, like, a really nice, designer tuxedo. Finn knows Rachel's excited about the event; it's all she can talk about. She and Quinn are going to all these fancy places to try on dresses, to get the perfect look for the awards ceremony.

Finn's a little nervous about performing at the Tony's. He's always nervous before a performance, but since this is for their peers and it's going to be on TV, it was even scarier. The cast is torn between performing the shocking and offensive "Push It" or their closing number "Somebody to Love." It's a crowd pleaser, Quinn keeps saying. They decide to do a combination of Rachel's "Don't Rain on my Parade" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want." They have rehearsed the number a few times, but Finn isn't confident that it'll be as impressive as the other performers that evening.

But, very suddenly, none of that matters. Finn waits patiently in the living room area of the hotel room they booked for their occasion. Their night out on the town. When Rachel emerges from the bedroom in her stunning gown – her hair and makeup done to perfection – Finn can't breathe. She looks perfect. Yeah, she's always beautiful and Finn tells her that often, but this —this is something else.

"You look very handsome," Rachel says with a blush on her face.

Snapped out of his daze, Finn picks up his jaw from the ground. "You look . . . incredible. . . ."

"Thank you," she says, blushing again. "You ready to go?"

"Um, yeah . . ." Finn replies as he shakes himself back to reality.

In the car ride there (limo ride, really), Rachel grips Finn's hand as the looks out the window, her grip tightening by the second. Her smile is the widest he's ever seen.

"Are you okay?" he asks with mild concern.

Her smile grows even wider as she turns to him. "Finn, tonight for the first time in my entire life, I don't feel like some poor little foster kid begging for hand outs." Finn smiles as she continues. "And I know it's horrible to talk that way, but tonight . . . tonight is a big deal."

"I know how you feel." He really does.

The show wins for Best Musical. It really wins.

It's so cool that April and the other writers and composers get to accept awards, and Finn even gets to go on stage with all the others. Rachel doesn't win, but Martha Plimpton, who plays the evil cheerleading coach as the main antagonist of the play, wins for Best Featured Actress. And they win "The Big Six," which Rachel insists is more than she can ask for. It's so wonderful. They're even able to get seats for Mike and Tina up in the balcony.

But even more wonderful is the time Rachel and Finn spend at the hotel after the show.


xxiv.

As New Directions became more successful, Finn and Rachel decide to move out of the small space they share with Finn's former teammate to their own place. They get a nice one-bedroom on the kid-friendly Upper West Side. They like seeing all the families everywhere.

The play leads to more opportunities for the both of them. She gets a three-episode arch on the cop drama Blue Bloods. He gets to be the good-looking cousin of Tiffani Thiessen's character on White Collar. And they both get to play patients with weird ailments on Royal Pains, which is mainly exciting because they get to spend two weeks at Captree State Park going to the beach and taking trips on boats.

Finn's unsure what to do once their contacts with New Directions are up. It's good to move on Rachel keeps reiterating to him, but Finn is nervous. Not too long ago, Finn and Rachel were counting pennies to make ends meet, and he really doesn't want that to happen again. Luckily Finn's worries are short-lived as Finn gets a supporting role in an independent film starring Patricia Clarkson. She's really great – delightful and wise – and Finn feels an immediate closeness to her.

He talks to her about stuff. All sorts of stuff. About Rachel, about the House on the Hill, about the first time he played the drums, about living with Sue and Jean, about Puck and his overdose, about Hofstra basketball, and about being in New Directions. She listens and gives him wonderful advice. He feels comfortable around her, like a mothering figure he didn't know he was searching for, but glad he found. Plus, she introduces him to all these wonderful actors and actresses, like Aaron Eckhart and Peter Dinklage. She invites Finn and Rachel over for dinner one evening where she makes them traditional Creole food. Finn honestly thinks it's the best meal he's ever had.

The movie gets lots of press and gets presented at all these film festivals. Finn and Rachel only go to the ones in Tribeca and Toronto, but it's amazing nonetheless. The film even gets nominated for a few Golden Globes. When Finn and Rachel fly out to Los Angeles for the event, they take their first airplane ride. (Well technically second, since they do take a plane to Toronto, but that's barely an hour flight.) The even get a hotel room at the Chateau Marmot, since Quinn explained to them their arrival would be no fun if they stayed at the same hotel the awards ceremony was at.

They ask Finn questions, the press and reporters. It feels like when was a kid, and he would tell people that he liked Spider Man and Ninja Turtles, but now he's talking about who made his suit and what other films he enjoyed seeing this year.

Rachel holds his hand tightly as they make their way down the red carpet. "I love you," she whispers to him as they get their photos taken. It's the supportive love of a friend, a friend who shared magic mint crayons and helped him with his chores.

And supported him throughout all the madness.


xxv.

Their lease is up. It's up in two months. They've liked their apartment, but they're doing well now and they're married. Should they move to a bigger house?

These are the questions that fill their discussion every morning as they get ready for work. Eating their cereal, putting on their shoes, they talk about what they love about their apartment . . . and what they hate.

It's expensive. It's noisy. It's a one-bedroom.

It's in a family friendly area. It's right by Central Park. It's a spacious one-bedroom.

The pros and cons of why Finn and Rachel should move are always even, which made their decision more difficult. Finn is getting small roles here and there acting, and Rachel is auditioning as well. Finn also staring playing drums in a band with some of the kids from Hofstra. He had forgotten how much he enjoyed music, which is still pretty much the best thing ever.

Then, in a stroke of good fortune, Rachel gets a part in another show, a really cool musical based on this book that was banned for like a hundred year due to its controversial topic.

But there's one problem.

"You show your boobs, Rachel. And you practically have sex with some guy in the middle of the stage."

"He's gay," Rachel explains.

"But you're doing that in front of the whole audience," Finn moans. He wants to be cool with this, he really does, but it's difficult. That's his wife.

"Look, how about you come with me to the dinner that Duncan, the Composer is having and you meet Jonathan. Then you can rant if you don't like him." It's a fair enough deal, and he agrees.

He wants to dislike him, he really does, but Jonathan Groff is, like, the nicest person in the whole world. Goddamnit! It would have been easy to be annoyed by this whole situation if he were some cocky theater jerk with an annoyingly trendy haircut, but he's a really great person. Just kind, nice, and good. Plus, he's definitely gay, that at least eased Finn's fears a little about this whole situation.

"So, is it okay for me to take this part, even though I would have taken the part whether you liked it or not?" Rachel jokes.

Finn and Jonathan both smile at her quip. "Yes, it's okay," Finn replies.

After a moment, Jonathan interjects "C'mon, let me introduce you two to my boyfriend."

Walking into the kitchen, Finn recognizes him right away. Jonathan starts to introduce everyone, but to Finn there is no need. He looks oddly the same from when he was eight and Finn was ten. It's awkward, but Finn knows he should say something. He wonders if he even remembers him.

"Hi, Kurt," Finn says extending his hand, "I'm Finn. I set your bed on fire when I was ten."

Kurt is silent and his expression shows that he now remembers, too. Letting go of their handshake, Finn apologizes. "I'm sorry that I did that." His head is facing down, feeling like the sad, confused child he was then.

Kurt's breathing is labored and as he looks up Finn's tall frame. Finn is feeling more and more horrible by the second; the silence in the room is deafening.

"It's okay," Kurt says softly, breaking the quiet. "I . . . I read that piece about you and Rachel in New York Magazine. I understand that maybe living with my mom and dad wasn't the best place for you."

"Thank you," Finn replies. No one says anything for a really long time and it just gets more awkward.

"Well, now that we've had our big surprise for the evening, and we have accepted the weirdness of this situation," Jonathan notes, speaking up, "How about we all get drunk!"

The four twenty-something's chuckle, as Rachel cheers with a "Hell Yeah!"

Rachel and Jonathan's show is a hit and both of them get nominated for Tony's. Rachel doesn't win again, and Finn feels bad. She reassures him it's fine, because she knows that the statue will be hers when they have a revival of Oklahoma!

After Rachel signs on for another year of performing with Spring Awakening, Finn and Rachel decide to buy a small cottage in Yonkers. The spend their first night up in the attic, talking between two blankets.

"Finn, now that we have this house, maybe we should start talking about kids."

"Kids?" What does she mean? Does she mean what he thinks? Is he ready for that?

"Yes. Kids. Us having kids." She's short with her words as she talks.

"Like us becoming parents? Being someone's mommy and daddy?"

Rachel lets in a long breath and Finn sees that she's upset. The words 'mom and dad' were not said between them. Mommies and Daddies brought up bad memories.

"Rachel, I'm sorry," Finn pleads. "I didn't mean to upset you. . . . " He didn't. That's not what he meant to do when he brought up those words.

"It's fine. I know that's not what you meant. How about we go to sleep, and we can discuss this more when the show is close to being over."

Finn isn't convinced that Rachel's all that fine. He knows that she would be a good mother. A wonderful mother. But after what happened to Rachel when she was a child, could all the evidence in the world be enough to convince her that she has the compassion and love inside her to take care of another life?

After a few months of bit parts on TV shows and movies, Finn finally strikes it big as a New York working actor. He gets a part on an HBO sitcom filming in New York. It's a really great show, and he loves his character. Rachel even says that she would want to be a part of this show. It's something special, just like Pride Basketball and New Directions and Spring Awakening.

And when you're a part of something special, that makes you special, right?


xxvi.

Finn's last day on set for the thirteen-episode first season of his show ends the same night as Rachel and Jonathan's last performance. As a celebration for his costars, he gets tickets to the show for everyone. It's the perfect way to celebrate a bittersweet evening.

After making love that night, as they lie beside one another, Rachel tells Finn that she's ready to expand their family. "We're adults and growing up. We're financially stable and for the time being, we will be home a lot more. I think that this would be a good time for us."

"Rachel, I've been thinking about this too," Finn admits, squeezing his eyes shut before speeding though the rest of his words."I-think-we-should-adopt-a-foster-child-from-a-group-home."

He opens his eyes to see Rachel shift her head back in shock. "You want to take in a foster kid?"

"Yes," he shutters, before explaining further. "I think that we would be the best people at doing that since we've been though all that. We can make sure the kid is fine with going and tell him he doesn't have to go if he doesn't want to. I just think . . . that everything we've been though . . . we can help someone else."

"I'll be honest, that's never crossed my mind."

"Well . . . do you think that's a good idea?"

"Yeah, I do," replies Rachel with a glowing smile. He loves when she smiles like that.

They make love once more before falling into a deep slumber. They just made a life changing decision, and Finn couldn't be happier.

The next day they make a list — a list of all the questions they would have liked to be asked when they were under consideration for adoption. They know that this will just be a trial basis, that it'll be up to the child whether or not they want to stay.


xxvii.

It's a sticky day in early August when they walk into the Rockland County Group Home – otherwise known as the Tree House, with large bushes and willow trees that surround it. The whole pace kinda gives Finn the chills. It's the familiar feeling that he felt that first morning at the House on the Hill. As he waits for the people who operate the home, he looks down at his feet.

"Hi, I'm Mrs. Connors. I run the Tree House."

"Hello," the young couple replies in unison. They were now 'the young couple.' Attractive and polite, come to the group home to acquire a kid that wasn't "messed up anymore."

As he and Rachel are led into the living room, Finn sees a few young kids sitting on the landing of the stairs. They're just as little as he and Rachel were. Maybe this isn't the best idea?

"We're not here for the government payout," Rachel begins as Finn shifts in his seat. "We just want to help a child in need. In fact, we wish to sign something that says we aren't to receive any money for the child."

"Okay," Mrs. Connors replies.

"They don't need to be 'the good kid,'" Finn interjects. "The one that's 'okay again.' It doesn't need to be that kid. Just a kid who would be comfortable leaving."

Rachel takes Finn's hand and rubs her thumb over her knuckles. It feels like they're at a pet store, deciding on which goldfish to buy. It's hard for him to do this. Mrs. Connors just nods.

"We want to ask the child a few questions first," says Rachel. "It's not a test for the child, we just want to know a little bit more about them beforehand."

Mrs. Connors nods again, and then asks, "Would you prefer a boy or a girl?"

Finn's eyes grow wide as he looks over to Rachel, who seems to be sharing in his shocked expression. He's so taken aback by the question. This whole foster situation is even more fucked up than he thought.

"No," he says sternly, glaring at Mrs. Connors with a clenched jaw.

"Do people really care it it's a boy or a girl?" Rachel asks with disturbed curiosity, leaning over the coffee table to Mrs. Connors on the opposite side.

"Most people have a preference," the older lady replies dryly.

She politely stands as they wait for the child to appear. A few moments later a little boy with shaggy blond hair enters, wearing navy t-shirt, nylon pants, and Velcro sneakers. He hops up on onto the couch. His feet don't even touch the floor.

"Riley, this is Finn and Rachel," Mrs. Connors says, pointing to them.

"Hi Riley," Rachel replies back extending her hand. The young boy shakes it quickly as Rachel continues. "We wanted to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind."

"Okay," says Riley shyly as he looks down at his hands.

"Hey Riley," Finn says, not sure where to start. The boy looks up at him. "How long have you lived at the Tree House?"

The young boy looks a little nervous, but he quietly engages in the questions asked. "A little while. I came here right before Thanksgiving."

"How old are you?" he asks.

"Almost eight. My birthday is right before Halloween."

"That's fun. Do you like it here?" asks Rachel.

"It's okay. It's better than where I used to be."

"Where was that?" Rachel asks, causing Finn to give her look of concern.

"You don't have to answer any questions that you don't want to, Riley," Finn says.

"I was living with this lady. She knew my mom somehow. She was mean." He shrugs and won't look at them.

Finn asks the next question. "What do you like to do at the Tree House?" Riley still seems a little nervous, so Finn goes on encouragingly. "Where do you like to play? What cartoons do you like?"

"I like Batman and Johnny Bravo," Riley says, and when Finn nods, smiling, he goes on more eagerly. "I like to play with the trucks and the trains in the play room. I like to climb on the jungle gym and play tag. I like Lighting McQueen from Cars."

"Do you have any friends that you play with here?" Rachel asks sweetly.

"I play with the other kids sometimes, when everyone is outside. I play by myself too. I used to play a lot with Suzie, but she left a little while ago, around Easter."

Finn's impressed that the young boy talked so calmly. He speaks clearly and is so honest. "Was Suzie you best friend, like Mater is to Lighting in Cars? Do you miss her?" Rachel asks the question that Finn knows is the most important. He knows that their friendship is the reason neither of them lasted in their foster homes, and if there were a person who could be a reason to cause a bad experience for Riley, they know they can't help him. They're helping the little boy. Finn has to keep using that word in his head. Help.

"Um," Riley starts. "We weren't friends like Mater and Lighting, but I liked Suzie. She was cool. She was the only one who liked to play with the trains and trucks with me. I miss her a little, but she's been gone for a long time now, so I guess where she is is good," Riley explains with a small shrug.

Finn really likes Riley. He seems like a good kid. He seems like he would be okay with moving in with them and would let them know if something was wrong. When Finn looks over to Rachel and she gives him a small, reassuring smile, he can tell she feels the same way.

"Okay, Riley, thank you for answering our questions," Finn says, and Mrs. Connors excuses him and tells him he can go play.

"So, what do you think?" Mrs. Connors asks, almost like a used car salesmen when she returns to the living room.

"We like him. We think that he might be okay living with us," Rachel says on behalf of both of them. Rachel asks Mrs. Connors all about how the Tree House runs and what the structure is like for the children there. He knows he should be paying more attention, but Finn can't help but think back to all his memories about life in the House on the Hill, and what would have happened if he didn't go there.

A few weeks later, after all the paperwork is finished, Finn and Rachel go to pick up Riley.

Before bringing him downstairs, Mrs. Connors explains a little bit further about his case. "His parents left not long after Riley was born. I'm not sure where they went, but they were found dead about a year and a half ago. They had supposedly stolen a car and died in a car crash in California from drunk driving – an accident they caused.

"He was raised most of his life by a woman named Maria, who was supposedly a friend of his mother. She was a crack addict and was put in jail for stealing thousands of dollars from the dry cleaners she worked at. It's been put in Riley's paperwork that she is no longer allowed to have any contact with the young boy, so she can't come of out of woodwork ten years from now saying she wants him back."

Rachel squeezes Finn's hand, and he squeezes back, moving closer to her, nearly leaning on her. Riley's story hits a little too close to home for Finn, and he knows Rachel feels that too.

Mrs. Connors continues to discuss the young boy. "He was brought here by a police officer at a prescient in New Rochelle. They suspect that the boy has gone though some mild child abuse. We have a social worker who comes once a week and says that Riley is making progress. He still has a lot of issues. He has nightmares occasional and tends to shy away from the other kids when they are playing a little rough. He's still adapting to a more structured, stable life. He should be okay at a new school, though. He's at slightly higher reading and math levels than other children his age."

Mrs. Connors finishes her explanation and Finn has no idea what to say. "I understand exactly what this child is going though" should be an appropriate response, but it's not.

He looks over to Rachel, who seems to be at a loss of words herself. That was a first. "Okay," is all she says in response to the older woman.

"Our social worker recommends that he still sees a social worker to possibly discuss his past further once he goes to Yonkers with you," Mrs. Connors says.

"That's fine," Rachel replies.

"Okay. Good. I'll go get Riley. He's all packed."

Her last sentence snaps Finn back into reality, and they take Riley back to their home.

The young boy looks nervous as he walks into the house. His tiny hands grip into the straps of his backpack as his large eyes scan the home. It's frightening to Finn how he completely knows what Riley is feeling without either of them sharing a word.

Rachel shows him the kitchen, the bathroom, and the other important parts of the downstairs before leading him into the living room. "This is where you can watch TV in the evenings after your homework," Rachel explains as she points to the television.

"Do I have to call you Mommy and Daddy?" Riley asks abruptly, breaking his silence.

"No," Finn immediately responds. "You can call us Finn and Rachel."

"We know that sometimes Mommies and Daddies aren't good people," Rachel says, bending down to look Riley in the eye.

Rachel fixes lunch, and Riley quietly sits in the living room as Finn takes out the box. The banker's box that has all his belongings from when he was a child. They are still his most cherished possessions in the world.

Finn is just as shy around Riley as the little boy is around him. Because . . . this is just . . . really awkward.

"Hi Riley."

"Hi," the little boy says sweetly back. His big brown eyes stare up at Finn curiously, and it fills Finn with a kind of hope.

"Can I show you something?" he asks, gesturing to the box as he sits in the armchair adjacent to Riley's spot on the couch.

"Sure," the little boy shrugs.

"This is a box of the toys I had when I was your age. See Rachel . . . Rachel and I . . . we grew up somewhere similar to the Tree House, and the few toys I had meant a lot to me." Riley sits quietly as Finn opens the box. He sees his magic mint crayon, and he wants to give it to Riley, but he can't. That he has to keep. "This is my Raphael Ninja Turtle. Rachel gave him to me on my seventh birthday. We were best friends, like Mater and Lighting," Finn explains. "You can have him if you want."

Riley nods enthusiastically as he starts to play with the action figure on the coffee table. Finn sits on the floor to join the little boy as he shows him the other things in the box. Besides his few toys, there was Rachel's rock collection, and her book that they would look at when they were children. Riley seems mildly amused by them all as he quietly plays.

Riley moves Raphael up in the air like he's flying when Finn sees them. The scars.

Finn gently grabs his elbow trying to look at them. Riley pulls the sleeve to his tee down, embarrassed.

Finn takes off his jacket and pulls up his sleeve, "No, look," he says, getting the boys attention.

Riley looks over to his arm and gently touches the faint markings. Riley rolls up his sleeve and compares them silently. Riley's little round circles have healed, but are still much darker than Finns.

"I lived with my uncle. He wasn't very nice to me," Finn says barely above a whisper. He tries to hold them back, but the water wells up in his eyes.

Riley comes up to him and gives Finn a hug. His large frame engulfing Riley's tiny one, he hugs him back.

Rachel returns and they sit around the coffee table eating their tuna fish sandwiches. Rachel tells Riley about what Finn and Rachel do and gives him the rules for their house. "And this is the most important part," she says, getting Riley attention. "If you ever get hurt, if you are ever get nervous or scared, I want you to scream. Curl up your firsts and scream as loud as you can. Okay?"

"Okay," Riley replies nodding.


xxviii.

They know that there needs to be a transition. Mrs. Connors did tell them that the Tree House had a very structured time schedule. Finn knows it's better to keep that.

They don't want to shower him with presents. They don't want to prove that their home is "better" than the Tree House, because Finn knows that to Riley, it might not be.

They let him choose from the four cereal choices. They ask him if he would prefer Turkey or Peanut Butter (he changes every day). They put a chore chart on the fridge. They try to give Riley the structure that helped them on the House on the Hill.

A week before he starts school, they take him to Target very early before the crowds and get him school supplies. The let him pick out his own folders and his own composition notebooks. They take him to the children's department and tell him that he can buy three outfits. They go to Models and buy him new sneakers. Riley behaves well, and Finn takes him to Toys 'R Us. They let him buy one toy. After walking around the entire store, Riley picks out the snap circuit set. He looks so excited as he stares at the box on the way home, and he runs into the living room to play with it as soon as Finn unlocks the door.

About two months into Riley's school year, Rachel goes off the pill. They aren't "trying" to get pregnant. She's not, like, taking fertility tests or anything, but they know they want to keep the option more open. Riley seems to be acclimating to his new school well and even has some friends. He plays soccer with park league on Saturdays.

Finn show gets picked up for a second season, and he's wrapping up a scene on the Upper East Side when he receives a frantic phone call from Rachel that something happened at Riley's school. He paces around the foyer waiting to for his wife to arrive with Riley. His stomach flips as several scenarios play in his head. Rachel couldn't give him any details on the phone, and he hasn't heard from her since.

When they walk, Finn sighs in relief. He's not hurt.

"Riley, you can go play up in your room until dinner, okay," Rachel says to the little boy, and he only nods in return. Rachel pulls Finn into the living room.

"What happened?" he needs to know.

"Riley was being bullied by a boy who sits next to him in class."

"What?"

"Yeah, so I guess today the bully was pinching and throwing crayons, and Riley just had it."

"Okay, so what happened?"

"He stood up from his desk and he screamed. He screamed really loud and got sent to the vice principle." Finn smiles as the she continued. "Then when I got to school, the teacher and the vice principle tried to attack me saying that screaming is inappropriate. Then I yelled back at them and insisted that the other mother be called and told them how furious I was that the teacher was aware of the bullying, and this was the first time I was hearing about it. They let Riley go with a warning and told him he had to sit out at recess tomorrow. The other boy has to sit out of recess for the rest of the week." She looks smug about that.

"Mommy." They turn to Riley looking very sad and disappointed. "I'm sorry I got in trouble."

"Hey, it's okay," says Finn as he bends down to Riley's level.

"I didn't mean to do anything wrong, Daddy, and I didn't want to get Michael in trouble either," Riley explains.

"Hey," Rachel says getting the boy's attention, joining them. She takes his shoulders so he will look at her. "You didn't do anything wrong. You screamed to protect yourself."

Riley contemplates what Rachel says, and she gives him a hug. Riley hugs Finn, too and then he goes to play with his books on the other side of the room.

It 's the first time he calls them Mommy and Daddy.

Finn doesn't even realize for a moment, but when he does, he glances over at Rachel to see tears beading in her eyes. After all that Finn has accomplished, it's the moment he was the most proud of. And Riley calls them that from then on.

It doesn't matter how many pennies they save anymore. They have a family. A life. And whether Rachel got pregnant or not, it doesn't matter. All that mattered was that they grew up and survived on their own.


Crack the shutters open wide
I want to bathe you in the light of day
And just watch you as the rays
Tangle around your face and body
I could sit here for hours
Finding new ways to be awed each minute
'Cause the daylight seems to want you
Just as much as I want you


A/N: Title and lyrics form "Crack the Shutters" by Snow Patrol. Please review and let me know what you though. Feedback, good or bad, is the best thing to a writer.

I also want to give the world's biggest thanks to Monroeslitte for writing an amazing story that inspired me so much. I also want to thank her for not only letting me continue upon it, but for beta'ing it and helping me with editing and coherency. You are one of my favorite fan fic writers and the fact that you read this story and approved of it means more than I can imagine. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)