Title: If you were coming in the Fall, I'd brush the Summer by
Disclaimer: not my characters; all of the songs mentioned belong to whoever wrote them; title from Dickinson
Warnings: slightly AUish; takes place in senior year; a smidge of implied underage non-con; spoilers for Dumbo
Pairings: Rachel/Finn, mentions of OFCs/Puck, Kurt/Blaine, Burt/Carole
Point of view: third
Note: Finn's pov during the story
"Our songs should complement each other," Rachel decides as she pulls up her Family playlist, sub-genre Parents. "Don't you agree?"
"Uh, yeah, sure," Finn says. The only song he's ever chosen completely on his own was 'Jesse's Girl' and that was obvious. It's easier when other people help him. His usual choice for outside advice is Kurt, but Rachel is really good, too. She knows a lot of songs, and while she doesn't always pick songs perfect for his voice, most of the time she does.
He stretches out on her bed, listening to her murmur as she scrolls through the playlist. "Yes, yes," she says. "Perfect. My dads are the only ones who truly appreciate my talent and I will honor them for it."
"I appreciate you," Finn says. "So does Mr. Schue."
"Of course you do," she says quickly. "But for a long time, my dads were alone in that regard." She makes a note on a post-it. "Now, that my song is chosen – Finn. What would you like to say to your parents?"
Finn stares at the ceiling. (Rachel has star stickers that glow in the dark. They're awesome.) He thinks about his mom and Burt and the assignment. "Didn't Mr. Schue say we could sing about our parents, not just for them?"
Rachel flips through her notebook as Finn looks over. "Yes," she says. "Any aspect of your relationship can be fodder for your song."
"I wanna sing about my dad," Finn tells her. "I didn't know him, but he's so important, you know? He was a hero and he died so that kids can sing about whatever they want, and I want to sing about him."
She's staring at him. "What?" he asks.
"That was so inspiring, Finn!" she exclaims, hurrying over to sit by him. "Such a lovely speech deserves a kiss," she murmurs, and leans down.
Well. He reaches up to cradle her face and focuses on the mailman so he doesn't ruin things.
"We should focus on Disney songs," Rachel says awhile later. "To match my Disney song."
"Which song did you pick?" he asks, lazily running his fingers through her hair.
"'Baby Mine' from Dumbo," she murmurs, moving into his touch. "It's heartbreaking. The entire club will be moved to tears."
"Don't know it," he says, and she immediately sits up, looking at him with horror.
"Finn! We must rectify that right this minute." She grabs his hand and tugs. "Now!"
He's so comfortable, but now she's giving him the puppy-eyes. He rolls out of the bed and waits; she quickly darts into the hall. Finn follows her to the rec room, where her DVD player is set up. He throws himself onto the love seat as she quickly goes to the Disney section and plucks one of the movies off the shelf.
"Dumbo," she says, "is an integral part of any child's development. It teaches that greatness is always within and can be reached, no matter what outside authorities declare." She puts the DVD in the player and curls up next to Finn.
He sobs. He sobs so hard.
Rachel rubs his back and whispers, "It's okay, it'll be okay."
"But she's in jail!" he blubbers. "And he's just a baby!"
"Shh, shh," Rachel says, pulling his face down to rest against her neck. "Finn." She sounds hesitant, and sorry. "We can stop watching, if you want."
"No," he says, pulling back to wipe at his eyes. "I wanna seen them reunite."
"Okay." She nods firmly, turns back to the TV, and hits play.
Finn is useless for the rest of the night. Rachel promises to find him the perfect song and kisses him goodnight. He drives home in a haze, caught somewhere between wanting to bawl again and wanting to tuck Rachel into his arms, just to hold her. He stumbles into the house, nearly tripping over Burt's boots, and Mom is sitting in Burt's chair, reading The Help.
She says, "Have fun at Rachel's?" before looking up. "Hon, you okay?" she asks, setting the book aside.
He nods, hurrying over to her. She stands, so he pulls her into a massive hug, the kind he hasn't given her in awhile. He just holds her for a few moments. "Finn," she says softly. "Are you okay?"
He pulls back, nodding again. "I love you," he says. "You know that, right?"
"Of course I do, sweetie." She grabs his hand, going up on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
Kurt or Burt is rummaging around in the kitchen. Finn heads that way after he gives Mom another hug.
Kurt looks up from a pan of brownies and says, "Finn, what's wrong?"
He shrugs, leaning against the counter. "I watched Dumbo with Rachel," he says.
Wincing, Kurt says, "Oh, Finn." He cuts another brownie out of the pan and walks over, offering it to Finn. "The first time I watched that movie after my mom died, Dad had to carry me to his bed because I was crying too hard to sleep by myself."
"I never saw it before," Finn says, nibbling at the brownie. "I mean, I knew about the flying elephant, but, shit, dude."
"Yeah," Kurt says with a sigh. His phone rings, playing a Taylor Swift song. It's the one about Juliet and scarlet letters. Finn would never have guessed Kurt liked Taylor Swift. (Mom has a thing for Taylor Swift, and Taylor Swift has legs all the way to here, and shut up.)
Finn raises a brow at Kurt. He blushes, but answers, "Hey, Blaine," and sidles out of the room, trying to look he isn't running away. Finn chuckles, moving over to the brownie pan.
Crying like a baby is hard work. He needs chocolate to replenish his energy.
Wednesday morning, Finn wakes up an hour and a half before Burt bangs on his door. Mom's on the early schedule right now, so Burt is Finn's alarm clock, getting him up with twenty minutes to spare.
He stares at the ceiling, wishing he had stars like Rachel. He wonders what song she picked out, and if it'd be wimpy to never ever watch Dumbo again.
Seriously. Disney clearly has a thing against parents. They're always dead or locked up or just gone.
(He dreamed about Mom being in jail and Burt missing and Dad dying, and no matter how he looked, he couldn't find Kurt, even though he knew Kurt could make everything better.)
Finn knows he won't be falling asleep again, so he goes to take a shower.
When they meet in the parking lot, Rachel kisses him, holds his hand, and says, "You'll be singing 'He Lives In You' from the second Lion King movie. Puck, Sam, and Artie will be singing back-up, though I think it best if you approach them to make sure."
"Okay," he says.
She hands him her iPhone, with the song ready to go. He listens, nodding along.
It's perfect. So he says, "It's perfect," smiling as she beams at him.
Finn asks Puck, Sam, and Artie to meet him in the choir room at lunch.
"'s'up, dude?" Puck says at the same time Artie announces, "Wheels in the house, yo!" Sam follows behind them, a half-eaten sandwich in his hand.
"I need help with my song," Finn tells them. "Listen."
They do. Puck clearly wants to say something, but he keeps whatever it is inside and Finn thinks they might, almost, be what they used to be.
Artie says, "It's doable. We can start setting it up now, but we do have football today."
"Yeah, I know," Finn says. "But you're all with me?"
"Yeah," Sam says. Puck nods.
Artie and Puck confer. Artie says, "Play it again," and they get to work.
At glee, Quinn, Mike, and Artie perform their songs. Quinn's is about disappointing her family and not being a good daughter; it sounds vaguely familiar and Rachel mutters about stealing a theme. Finn applauds when she's done, and Quinn smiles at him before going sit by Mercedes.
Rachel drags Finn out of glee by the hand, giving him more details about their performances the next day, and Finn listens, nodding. When she actually pauses, looking up at him with an expectant expression, Finn says, "Sounds good, Rach."
She stays quiet, smiling, so something else is expected. He thinks for a minute. "I'll come by after football for more practice?" he tries.
"I spoke to Artie," she says. "You, Sam, and Puck will go there after football."
"Okay," he agrees.
They practice twice, then talk for a few minutes about Mr. Schue's diary-entry assignments. Finn thanks them again before heading out.
He scarfs down the 'healthy' dinner Kurt made, then dips into his stash of good stuff. He goes up to his room to read through Jane Eyre, the most boring book ever, but he's only halfway through the first chapter (and he should be halfway through the whole book, if Kurt is to be believed) when Rachel calls for a status update.
After he dutifully reports what happened that evening, Rachel is off on a tangent about New York (future New York, not Nationals New York). He drops his book onto the bed and stretches out, "uh-huhing" every few sentences. Rachel doesn't really need his input; she just likes someone to listen. He's good at that.
They're twenty minutes into the conversation when Puck walks in, shuts the door, and leans back against it, eyes closed and head 'thunking' on the wood.
The last time Puck did anything like it, they were in seventh grade and Puck had just lost his virginity to Ms. Ravers. He never came right out and said it, but Finn has always believed Puck didn't really want it and just wasn't sure how to say no. (Finn's still pretty sure he doesn't know how, when it comes to a woman.)
Something terrible has happened, so Finn tells Rachel, "Gotta go," and hangs up. "Puck, what's wrong?"
Without opening his eyes, Puck says "Dad's back."
Finn says, "Fuck." Then he sits up and asks, "You okay?"
"Yeah," Puck lies. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" Like Finn's such a horrible friend he wouldn't know the difference.
So Finn just gives him a version of Kurt's epic bitch, please look and says, "Noah."
Puck avoids Finn's gaze. "I'll be okay, Finnegan," he says. Finn thinks that might even be true. "I just… couldn't stay there tonight."
Finn nods, because what else can he do? Puck won't accept anything else. So he scoots over, and Puck faceplants onto the bed.
Puck's gone when Finn gets up the next morning. Kurt pushes him back into his room when he tries to leave and asks in a whisper, "What's wrong with Noah?"
Puck would not want Kurt to know. He wouldn't want anyone to know. But Finn's not a dumb kid anymore and he knows when he's out of depth. Kurt's the kind of smart that frightens Finn sometimes, so he says, "Puck's dad came home."
Kurt blinks at him, lips pursed. "Oh." A moment passes. "That's bad, I take it?"
"Yeah," Finn says. "I just… I can't make it better. I never could."
"Oh, Finn," Kurt murmurs. He reaches out to pat Finn's shoulder. "Noah will be fine, I promise. Just be there for him. Listen to him."
"I guess," Finn says, slightly disappointed. He'd hoped for better advice. Like, maybe Kurt could plan an attack on Micah Puckerman and Finn would carry it out.
He thinks about suggesting that for a second, and then Burt calls, "Boys! Breakfast!" so he tables it for later.
Finn can't think about anything but Puck right up until glee. He has to perform after Zizes and he realizes, as he's meeting Puck, Artie, and Sam at the front, that he's about to sing about missing his dad. Puck is going to sing back-up about him missing his dad.
It's like irony, or something. A sick sort of irony. He feels really bad about it, and he tries to meet Puck's eyes, to signal he doesn't have to, but Puck just grabs his guitar and nods.
Artie starts with the non-English part. Finn sings, "Night and the spirit of life calling," and then Puck and Sam sing the next non-English parts. Finn's voice soars with, "Wait! There's no mountain too great."
Artie sings the back-up part; Finn continues, "Hear the words and have faith," while Puck sings not-English, and then "Have faith," with Sam's voice behind him.
Artie sings the non-English by himself for a moment, and then his voice blends with Puck's and Sam's as Finn gets into the chorus. "He lives in you. He lives in me. He watches over everything we see. Into the water, into the truth - in your reflection, he lives in you."
Puck, Sam, and Artie sing the repeating not-English, and then Puck has a guitar solo, until Finn gets the chorus again, their voices loud behind him. "He lives in you. He lives in me. He watches over everything we see. Into the water, into the truth - in your reflection, he lives in you."
Artie finishes them out with the non-English and Finn is exhilarated. He smiles brightly at Sam and Artie, but when he looks at Puck, his grin falters.
Puck just smirks his lying smirk at him. "Disney, bro," he says. "Really?"
It's a mask. A mask Finn really doesn't like, but it's Rachel's turn, now, so they sit down. And he really does want to listen to her, because he always wants to listen to her, but then he starts thinking about all the baby animals and Mama Dumbo being in elephant jail, and he bites down hard on his lip, because now he wants to cry again, but he's at school—and Rachel's done. Thank Grilled Cheesus.
He cheers, of course. He's not stupid. And the bell rings, Puck's first out the door and Rachel grabs Finn's hand before he can follow.
Finn doesn't see Puck again until that afternoon, right before it's time to go home. It looks like Puck's shoving every one of his books into his bag.
"Dude," he asks. "You okay yet?"
"I'm fuckin' golden," Puck snarls. "I have to see Pillsbury tomorrow and Dad's at home and I don't have a fucking song for fucking glee, and fuck." He rests his head against the side of his locker.
Finn reaches out, trying to comfort him, but Puck flinches away so Finn lets his hand drop. He has no idea what to do, so he offers, "You can come over again."
Puck doesn't even look at him as he says, "No, thanks," and gives Finn a sad smile.
He needs to find Kurt, so Kurt can make a plan, so he leaves Puck at his locker.
"Finn," Kurt says severely after Finn spills everything. "We will not assault Noah's father."
"He deserves it!" Finn protests. "He just left, and now he's back like nothing's wrong, and Puck's mom is mean."
"And if we hurt him, what then?" Kurt asks, giving Finn one of those looks of his. It says, I know you're smarter than this and think about it, Finnegan Hudson, and I'm so ashamed our parents married so I have to live with you now. It's a very busy look. "At the least, we'll go to juvie. Think about our parents. Think about Noah, for heaven's sake."
Finn pouts at him.
Puck ignores Finn on Friday. Since Finn still isn't sure how to deal, he sticks close to Rachel. They make plans for Saturday afternoon (Rachel will help him with Jane Eyre, then he'll take her to a movie and dinner) and Rachel talks about future New York some more.
Finn only tunes into glee when Kurt sings the Taylor Swift song about hanging out with parents. He stifles a laugh with his fist; Kurt's Taylor Swift thing must be getting out of control if he's performing her stuff in front of people. He does a good job, though. Finn cheers loudly when he's done, but Kurt's only got eyes for Blaine.
He doesn't think about Puck at all until he stumbles into the kitchen at noon on Saturday and Puck's sitting at the table, books spread to kingdom come.
"What're you doin' here?" he mutters, collapsing into an empty chair.
"Kurt's helpin' me," Puck says, but Finn's still mostly asleep, so he lays his head on the table. When he wakes up again, it's after one and he's hungry, so he digs around in the fridge 'til he finds his pizza. He pulls it out and grabs a coke, leaning against the counter so he doesn't get anything on Puck's stuff.
Puck ambles back in, looks at him, and asks, "Kurt know you're eatin' that?"
Finn shrugs. "It was this or his healthy crap. I'm too hungry for rabbit food."
"Whatever, dude." Puck goes back to the table and slouches into his chair, focusing on math. (Finn's never told anyone how good Puck is at math. No one would believe him, anyway.)
After two more slices of pizza, Finn can't help himself. "Puck? How're things with your dad?"
Puck doesn't look up from his notebook. "I haven't talked to him."
Finn dissects the last piece of his pizza, trying to find the words.
"Just ask," Puck says, sounding tired.
"Do you ever wish he'd stayed?" Finn doesn't look at him. Doesn't breathe.
"I used to," Puck says softly, in the same tone he talked about Beth during their one discussion about her. "Until he came back. Now I just wish he'd stayed gone."
Finn lets him get back to work. He needs to shower anyway. Rachel's expecting him for two o'clock
Finn's dad died way before Finn could remember him. Mom struggled over the years, but she did a good job with him.
Noah used to look at Mom like he wanted to keep her, and not in the creepy way with his cougars. He made up stories about his dad, about how he was famous and would come back to save them with all his money. The stories stopped in fifth grade, when Noah became Puck. Finn's stories about his hero dad coming home stopped the next year, when Puck told him only babies dreamed about could-have-been.
When Rachel asks, "What's wrong, Finn?" he honestly thinks about lying. About saying, Nothin', Rach, just a weird dream last night, or My lunch must'a been bad.
Instead, he says, "If you had a friend who needed help, but there literally wasn't a thing you could do, what would'ya do?"
She frowns. "You mean, if you couldn't ask an authority figure for help, or offer your time and money to make things better?"
Finn shakes his head. "I mean, like, the friend's almost eighteen and never planned to stay around anyway. But, back when you were kids, and the problem seemed like it had gotten better, but then one day, out of the clear blue sky, it walked right back into your friend's life. And you tried to comfort him, but he just kept shruggin' you off and ignorin' you, and telling adults wouldn't help, because, it's not like your friend is abused or something." (Finn honestly isn't sure about that. But Puck's almost eighteen and it's too late, if he ever was.)
Her eyes widen. "You mean Puck. I heard the other glocks talking about him – he's been testier than usual lately."
Finn looks down. Rachel's touch is gentle, her fingers on his face. "You can't do anything but what you have been," she says. "Be there for him. Offer him haven when he needs it. Let him know you care and will always listen."
"Okay," Finn breathes, pulling her into his arms. "I love you, Rach."
"I love you, too, Finn," she says.
Finn knows he's not going to New York like Rachel, Blaine, and Kurt. He knows he's not getting out of Lima like Mercedes, Artie, and Puck. He'll stay home and go to community college and figure out how to work on a car without killing it. He'll take over Burt's shop while Kurt's off ruling the fashion world, and he'll marry a nice girl, and they'll have kids.
He won't be a Lima loser, because Burt isn't one, even though he never left. Burt is what he pictures, when he thinks about his father. Burt and Mom, they've lived in Lima their whole lives. They're happy.
Finn loves Rachel. He believes she loves him. But she's going to New York, and he isn't, and he kisses her too fiercely, he holds her too tight, and he won't stand in her way, after they graduate.
On Sunday, Kurt and Blaine have an all-day date planned. Rachel has something going on with her dads, so Finn asks Burt to give him a lesson about cars.
"You sure, kid?" Burt asks, looking over from a Deadliest Catch marathon. "You don't wanna do somethin' fun with your friends?"
"I know I'm not as good as Kurt," he says. "And I don't expect to be. But I'd like to learn, sir."
"Well, okay," Burt says, turning off the TV.
The first time Finn ever calls Burt 'Dad' is that afternoon, but not the last.