A\N: I apologize for the suckiness of this oneshot. :) I own nothing. Thanks to Naya for looking over it for me, no matter how painful it is for your Puckleberry heart! I love you!
First week of senior year. His first last week of high school. And he was finally in his favorite class – lunch.
He had A lunch this year, thank God because last year he had B and it had been pure torture having to wait another hour before he could eat. Plus all the kids from A lunch always had the better food. Not that cafeteria food was ever any good, but it was still food.
Stomach growling in anticipation, Finn impatiently waited in line, very grateful that his science class was close to the cafeteria so now he would always be one of the first few classes in front of the line.
Grabbing his tray of food, Finn scanned the slowly building crowd in the cafeteria and, once he spotted Mike waving at him, he grinned and made his way to the table.
"What happened to our old table?" he asked as he sat across from Puck, his best friend for like, ever.
"Some band nerds got it," Puck grumbled, "damn kids."
"But we've had that spot for three years," Finn said with a mouth full of food.
"Dude, fucking chew and swallow first. Didn't your mother ever teach you some damn manners?"
Finn slowly lowered his hands, "who the hell pissed in your Cheerios?"
At his last words, Puck growled, "fuck off." And he ignored the snickers coming from Mike and Artie.
Finn looked to them for an explanation.
"He's mad because Quinn basically dumped him this morning," Artie filled him in.
"She didn't dump me!" Puck said angrily then mumbled, "we weren't even going out."
"She told him she didn't want to hook-up anymore. She said she wanted something more than that."
"Ah," Finn nodded, taking another bite of his burger.
Around them, the cafeteria buzzed with chatter as it filled up with more kids.
Finn brought his attention back to Puck.
"She used words like 'emotional' and 'future' and 'relationship.'" Puck snorted, "the fuck does that mean?"
"You guys have practically been together for two years, I don't see why you shouldn't be in a relationship."
"Hudson," Puck warned, "don't say shit like that."
Finn rolled his eyes. "Why don't you just ask her to be your girlfriend?"
"No way in hell!" Puck exclaimed, "I don't do that commitment shit."
Finn resisted the urge to roll his eyes again but Puck was now looking over his shoulder.
"New girl's pretty hot if you're into those kinky clothes."
Curious, Finn turned and his gaze landed on a small brunette sitting alone at a table, nose buried in a book. Her long brown hair formed a curtain around her face so he couldn't see what she looked like.
He faced Artie when he spoke, "Uh, she's not new…"
But Puck's mind was elsewhere. "If you'll excuse me," he said, "I think I'll introduce myself."
And with that, he walked over to the other table.
Finn watched as Puck leaned over from across the table, his signature smug smirk on his face. The brunette lifted her head and Finn tried to see better but he still couldn't get a good view. He watched Puck's face fall in confusion for half a second but then he just smirked. Finn wanted nothing more than to have the ability to read lips in that moment but he turned back to Artie once Puck began walking back to their table, his lips now in a straight line.
"What's wrong, Puck?" Mike asked, "she turn you down?"
But Puck just stared, "she's not new here."
Artie's palm connected with his forehead and then table shook with laughter at Puck's ignorance.
Still chuckling, Finn glanced back behind him, a little gasp of surprise escaping his lips when he caught the brunette staring at them.
Their eyes locked briefly and he studied her face. Big, brown eyes with pouty red lips. Her nose was slightly larger than most girls he knew but it fit her face perfectly.
Hesitant at first, Finn shot her a sweet, somewhat apologetic smile. But much to his surprise, she just rolled her eyes and left her table, her extremely short skirt showing off her amazing legs. He found himself tilting his head slightly as she walked away. Who was that girl? And why had he never seen her before?
. . .
The second day she was in the same spot, her face buried in the same book, her free hand reaching into her lunch box and pulling out a small container.
"Hey Artie," he said without taking his eyes off her, "what's her name?"
With a knowing smile, Artie answered, "Rachel Berry."
Rachel… he thought with an approving nod.
"Finally interested in someone?" Puck asked.
But Finn didn't answer. His focus was back on Rachel. There was something about her… Like, why did she eat alone? Why had he never seen her around?
"Artie, what class is she in with you?"
"Honors English," Artie said, pushing his glasses up to the bridge of his nose. "Very smart girl."
"Might as well give up now," Puck snickered.
Looking down at his food, Finn sighed.
. . .
On the third day he finally talked to her.
He was determined to at least apologize for Puck's behavior (he's done it a lot) and make sure she knows he isn't like that. Why he wanted to make she knew that, he didn't know…
Puck sat across from him, smirking as he caught Finn staring at that chick again. "Talk to Berry yet?"
Finn looked at him, "talk to Quinn lately?"
That shut him up.
Finn stood, taking his untouched food with him, "I'll go talk to her now."
Not knowing what to expect, Finn walked to the other side of her table so he could sit across from her.
"Hey," he greeted, waiting for her to look up, "mind if I sit here?"
He could immediately tell she was annoyed by the way her shoulders tensed and she finally lifted her head from her book, her eyes widening slightly as she looked up and down his tall frame.
Now that he was closer to her, he could analyze her features better. She really was gorgeous. Her long hair cascaded down her shoulders in waves.
"You're Noah's friend?" it sounded more like a statement than a question.
"Uh… y-yeah." Could he sound any dumber?
She looked back down at her book. "Then I'd appreciate it if you could keep your inappropriate comments to yourself."
What? "No! I – I'm just coming over to apologize. He just acts without thinking – just ignore him."
"It's extremely immature."
He was slightly taken aback by her tone but, not wanting to annoy her more, he nodded, "I totally agree."
"Why are you friends then?"
"Puck's been my best friend since forever," Finn shrugged, "he's a good guy once you get to know him."
She just nodded and he shifted from one foot to the other, deciding to sit down. "I'm Finn."
"Nice to meet you, Finn," she said politely. "I'm Rachel. Rachel Berry."
By the way she said it, Finn had a feeling he'd never forget it.
"So you're a senior?" he asked, "how come I've never seen you around?"
Surprised, she blushed, "all of my courses are either honors or AP."
Wow. She was smart.
"So you're a genius." He flashed her his charming smile.
But her response, once again, surprised him.
"No, I'm a star."
"Like, an actress?"
"You like to sing?"
"I love it."
"Are you any good?"
"I'm better than good."
Finn smiled at her confidence, this time surprising her. He didn't make a face or look disturbed or uncomfortable like most people would've. He didn't look at her like she was a freak.
"Awesome!" his enthusiastic response made her blush again. Finn's brown eyes bore into hers and she felt like she was being sucked in, her body growing warmer under his gaze and she leaned in closer –
The bell rung. Startled, she pulled back slightly, quickly grabbing her lunch box and book.
He still sat there, amused by her rushing and slowly stood up with his tray, he leaned across the table to her and murmured, "maybe I could hear you sing sometime."
Not knowing what to do or say, she stuttered, "I – maybe."
He gave her one last grin, "nice talking to you, Rach."
And she watched him walk away, her mouth slightly ajar.
No one had ever called her "Rach" before.
. . .
For the rest of the week and the next, he didn't sit or speak with her. But that didn't mean he forgot about her though. All during the second week of school he sat in Puck's spot, always getting to their table before him. When Puck first noticed it was so he would stare at Rachel, he just rolled his eyes and sat across from him.
Finn totally loved Rachel's hair. It was so shiny and looked soft and pretty and she always had it down. But when he watched her move all of her hair to one side, exposing her neck, he found himself wanting to kiss her perfect, olive toned skin…
Shaking his head, Finn looked back down at his plate of untouched food. He needed to stop before it gets worse.
. . .
School was exhausting, Finn sighed as he sat down at their usual table, blinking sleepily. He hadn't gotten sleep in the last two weeks and already – after a month and a half of school – his grades were slacking. It's not that he wasn't doing the work, it's just… he's not smart. Which is why he was terrified to talk to Rachel again. What if he said something stupid and she laughed at him? But he hated not talking to her. Something about her intrigued him… he had never met someone so confident and sure of themselves. He wished he could be that way.
But he couldn't stop staring at her, head bent, once again lost in a book.
"Dude, just go talk to her," Mike said.
Contemplating for a moment on what he should say, he finally stood up without a word, making his way over to her table and sitting across from her. "Hey Rach," he said casually, sticking his straw in his milk.
She looked up in surprise, slowly closing her book. "Finn… hello."
"How are you?" he asked.
"Busy." She said with a laugh, "and you?"
Remembering his manners, he chewed and swallowed his food before answering, "not so good."
"Why, what happened?"
He was slightly yet not at all surprised by her concerned tone.
"My grades are going down," he admitted, "my mom thinks I need a tutor."
"I could tutor you!" she said it so quickly, he blinked at her and she immediately regretted it. "I – I mean –"
"Really?" he interrupted hopefully, "that'd be great!"
"Well, what subjects do you need help with?" she asked.
"Math," he answered, wincing, "and English… and… pretty much everything else."
She giggled at his sheepish expression. He grinned at her laughter and she melted at the sight of his dimples.
"Think you can handle it?"
"I like a challenge."
"You seem like the kind of person who would."
She gave him a wide smile and he was captivated, completely breathless. She had the most perfect, most beautiful smile he had ever seen.
"…and I'll text you my schedule," she finished to see him staring at her blankly. "Finn?" she called his name, snapping her fingers in front of his face. "Finn!"
He shook his head. "What? Yeah! Sure! It's a date!"
At her startled expression, he stuttered, "it's a – a work date. Totally professional."
Ducking her head to hide her blush, she smiled at his words. He grinned, continuing to eat his lunch.
. . .
Later that night while getting ready for bed, Finn settled underneath his covers (his mom always had the house freezing at night, it drove him crazy) and texted Rachel.
Hey Rach :)
He got a text back almost immediately.
About 2 go 2 bed?
Yes, I have a busy day tomorrow! Also I checked my schedule and I'm pretty busy for the next few weeks! :( The only free time I have is during lunch! But I could get someone else to help you, if you want.
Finn thought fast. He had to find some way to keep her as a tutor, not only for the sake of his grades but because he wanted to get to know her, and if lunch was the only way he could see her…
Excited, Finn's fingers tapped on his phone.
Why don't you just tutor me at lunch?
I have no problem with that. But are you sure? I know how much you love to eat.
He laughed, texting back: who said we're not gonna eat? And of course I'm sure.
Okay then! It's a date! ;)
Smiling widely at her cute winking face, he texted her goodnight.
. . .
The next day at lunch he walked to Rachel's table, ignoring the confused stares of his friends.
"Wow," he commented as he sat down, getting her attention. He grabbed a textbook from the stack she had on the table, "you're definitely… prepared."
"Rule number one: one must always be prepared, Finn." Rachel nodded with a satisfied smile. "I went to the library today, seeing you have an English test Thursday and a math test Friday."
His mouth hung open. "How do you know that?"
"Teachers here love me for some reason."
He laughed at her annoyed yet playful expression, opening his algebra book and getting out paper and pencil. "Let's do this."
He looked up at her to see her smiling and she held out a bag to him, "cookie?"
"I'd love one!" he exclaimed, reaching out for the bag only to have her snatch it away, a smirk on her face, "I'll give you one. If you get every five questions right."
Finn drew back, pouting, "mean!"
Rachel laughed. He was so adorable. "I'm sorry, Finn. But that's just the way I work."
"For what? A bunch of second grade kids?" he joked.
She shrugged, "it worked for them."
He sighed, opening his book. "Fine. We do have homework tonight and I kind of don't get it…"
"And by kind of you mean you have no idea what to do?"
"Exactly," he grinned.
Rachel rolled her eyes despite her wide smile. She was liking this boy more and more than she cared to admit…and that terrified her.
. . .
"But I just don't understand it," he whined.
"You won't be able to understand it if you don't try to put yourself in their shoes. That's the best way to understand any character." Rachel was telling him.
Finn had been complaining about having to re-read Romeo and Juliet for his English class – which, he still thought was pointless considering they read it three years ago!
"Why would I kill myself like that?" he asked, frustrated with the way Romeo handled things. "He should've made sure she was dead and just like, wait for her to wake up or something."
"It's not that simple," she said, "and while I agree with your hatred for Romeo, I understand why he did it."
"Because he loves her," Finn rolled his eyes, closing his book, "yeah, yeah."
Rachel sighed and looked down at her lap, mumbling, "sometimes people will do just about anything to be with their true love."
She could feel his eyes staring at her and she cautiously peed out at him. "What?" she asked.
"Nothing," he shook his head and groaned when the bell rang. "Is there any way we could continue this after school? My test is tomorrow."
After gathering all of her things, Rachel sighed dramatically and stood up, "the things I do for you."
Finn's grin was so wide his cheeks hurt. "I'll text you directions!" he shouted after her as she walked toward her class.
. . .
Rachel stood in front of her mirror, contemplating whether or not she should dress casual or…
She shook her head rapidly. This was not a date. She was just helping him study for his test tomorrow, no big deal. They weren't even friends! Okay, they were but that's all they'll ever be. Sure, these last few weeks their tutoring sessions during lunch had brought them closer and she felt so comfortable around him, but… nothing could happen. She couldn't deny that she was attracted to him. He was definitely something good to look at. His dimpled smile melted her heart and made her knees go weak. And she slowly felt herself becoming more and more attracted to him… and he knew. He knew she was and she knew the feeling was mutual. In the limited time they had spent together, along with their bickering and playful teasing, they had unashamedly flirted with one another. There was nothing wrong with a little harmless flirting, right? It's not really leading him on or anything… well, it's not like he was interested in being with her anyways…
Stop, Rachel thought to herself, don't start anything. You promised yourself you wouldn't get attached to anyone, remember?
Hearing a knock at the door, Rachel examined herself in the mirror once more, satisfied with just her red shorts and black tank top.
"Hey Rach," Finn greeted with his crooked smile when she opened the door.
She grinned at the nickname, letting him in the living room where she had her books and flashcards prepared for him. Her dads were once again, out of town, leaving her alone until Sunday. "I ordered pizza for you." She told him.
"Ugh, you're so good to me," he said, feigning disgust.
"I know," she smiled sweetly, gesturing for him to sit down on the couch. "You're paying me back, by the way."
"Of course," he promised, "but what will you eat?"
"Oh, I already had a –"
"Veggie burger," he interrupted, "I know."
Rachel crossed her arms. She only had it twice a week!
. . .
"Well?" Rachel prodded.
Finn sighed dramatically, "so what I'm getting from this is they love each other."
She stuck her tongue out at him, "ha ha, funny."
"Oh, that's very mature," he said sarcastically and she laughed.
"But seriously, do you understand it now?"
"Yes, I got it. The deaths of Romeo and Juliet brought the Montague and Capulet family together."
"Exactly!" Rachel exclaimed, clapping excitedly.
He chuckled, "glad my somewhat smart brain can make you proud."
"Oh, stop!" she shoved him playfully, then turned serious. "Finn, you're way smarter than you give yourself credit for."
His eyes bore into hers, his voice now low and husky, making her shiver, "you think so?"
"O-of course," she stuttered, and she placed her hand over his, "I believe in you."
Faces really close now, she could feel his breath on her lips and she yearned to kiss him.
Wanting to just make a move, consequences be damned, she scooted closer on the couch and –
"I think you should sing," he said.
"You – I – what?" she shook her head, pulling away.
"You said you'd sing for me someday," he shrugged, "I wanna hear it."
"I said maybe."
He frowned, "come on, Rach. Please?"
Not being able to resist, she sighed, closing her eyes:
Oh, my man, I love him so, he'll never know. Oh, my life is just despair, but I don't care. When he takes me in his arms, the world is bright.
She stopped there and took in his reaction. It was weird, normally she would jump at the chance to sing for someone but for him… it made her nervous.
He stared at her, unblinking. "You're amazing."
He expected her to smile and say "I know" but instead, she ducked her head down, hiding her blush, "thank you."
"No, seriously," he insisted, "your voice is… is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard."
Her eyes were watery when she looked up at him. "Thank you so much," she smiled, "I'm not sure why, but your opinion means a lot to me."
He gave her his crooked grin once again and her heart began to race, the closeness of his body made her want to melt down from the heat.
Leaning in, Finn lightly brushed his lips over hers. So lightly, she barely felt it before she pulled away, as if it stung. "What are you doing?" she whispered.
"Just hold still," the husky voice was back and shivers ran down her spine as his fingers touched her face, gently, and his lips fell over hers again. She didn't push him away or pull back. It felt too good and he felt amazing and…
Grasping the collar of his shirt, she pulled him closer to her, thrusting her tongue into his mouth impatiently. Eyebrows rising in surprise, he tangled his hands in her hair and she placed her hands on his shoulders.
She knew this wasn't good. She knew she should stop. But it felt so right and… she felt like she could do this forever.
She moaned as his tongue slid against hers, her tiny hands moving down his chest, feeling his toned abs and gripping the fabric of his shirt.
When she felt his hand begin to move south from her neck, she froze.
"Wait," she pushed against his shoulders, "stop."
He pulled back to look at her, "what's wrong?"
"We can't do this," she said sadly, standing up from the couch.
"Rachel, I'm sorry, I –"
"I think you should go," she choked, feeling the tears well up.
"Rachel…" he tried but she shook her head, opening the door.
"Just, please. Go."
Seeing her pained expression, Finn quickly gathered his books and left without a backwards glance at her as he entered his truck, feeling sad and hurt.
And as she watched him pull out of her driveway, she placed her head in her hands and cried.
. . .
"Dude, could you stop? It's kind of pathetic."
Finn sighed as he tore his eyes away from the empty table, focusing on Puck across from him.
"You're getting annoying, that's probably why she hasn't been sittin' there." Puck told him.
"Shut the hell up," Finn grumbled.
"What? I'm just saying. You guys only made out once, it's not like you're in love with her."
"I'm not in love with her," he scoffed, thought the uncertainty in his tone scared him. Did he love Rachel Berry?
Thinking of all their study sessions together, he found himself smiling. He loved how calm and patient she was when he didn't understand something. He loved that she always laughed at his lame jokes and when she baked him cookies or banana bread. He loved her beaming smile when he answered a math question correctly. He loved her contagious laughter, he loved how smart she was… he just really… loved her.
Sitting up straighter in his seat, he looked back at her table. He was in love with Rachel Berry!
"Oh come on!" he heard Puck exclaim, snapping him out of his epiphany, and he turned to his friend. "You are in love with her, aren't you? What the hell, man! She's your tutor!"
But he just grinned and shrugged. All he knew was that he never felt this way about a girl before. Finn sighed, the only problem was, she was avoiding him.
He had tried to speak to her at lunch but she hadn't been at her table. That had been two weeks ago. It angered and annoyed him the way she was acting. Why was she being like this? They only kissed a little! What was she so afraid of?
He groaned inwardly, really needing to talk to her. But where was she? He knew she was at school because he had seen her pass by the door while was in one of his classes. She was definitely avoiding him… and he intended to find out why.
And maybe tell her how he feels?
. . .
Finn made his way to his truck later that week, grumbling to himself as he walked. Rachel still hadn't shown up at lunch and he like, never saw her in between classes. He was starting to get really aggravated. What did he do that was so wrong? It's not like she protested when he kissed her! Wait, he thought, she did ask him what he was doing, why he was kissing her… but she had still let him!
Frozen, Finn looked ahead in shock as he saw Rachel Berry digging in her book-sack for her car keys. Feeling his anger rise, he stomped his way over to her.
"Rachel!" he shouted, loud enough for her to hear.
Startled, Rachel lifted her head, panic and sadness crossing her face when she spotted him. "Finn," she greeted coolly.
He got straight to the point. "Why are you avoiding me?"
"I'm not –"
"Bullcrap! I've been trying to talk to you for the last two and a half weeks!"
She flinched at his harsh tone, "well… we're talking now."
Glaring at her pathetic attempt to make him smile, she stepped back.
"Where have you been?" he asked.
"Why does it matter?"
"Because it does! I notice when you're here or gone, you know."
Her voice was quiet as she looked up at him with her wide, brown eyes, "you've noticed?"
Her tone made him speak calmly, softly, "of course I have, Rach."
She gave him a small smile. "I love when you call me Rach."
"You know what I love?" he asked and took her hands when she raised her eyebrows, thankful she didn't pull away. "I love it when you eat only vegan burgers on Monday and Wednesdays."
She laughed, rolling her eyes and he continued, rubbing her knuckles with his thumbs. "I love when you make those awesome sugar cookies with the pink frosting. I love when you lecture me for ten minutes on how eating animal crackers are offensive. I love that you peel the crust off your sandwich. I love that you just have to brush your teeth after lunch –"
"Hey, daddy has always told me it's important to have a good smile!"
"I know. You have a perfect smile."
Before she could thank him, he said, "which reminds me! I love that you have a small container for your floss and I love –"
"Okay, Finn, I get it!" she laughed, stopping him, her heart melting at his sweetness. But then her expression turned sad again and she pulled her hands away, "you need to stop."
"I have feelings for you, Rachel," he said bluntly, startling her once more, "strong feelings."
"I thought you were interested in me too – I mean you kissed me back and –"
"I know, I-"
"I'm sorry if I pressured you or something. I didn't mean to-"
"But I'm basically standing here, begging for you and suddenly you're not interested?" he finally waited for her to speak.
She exhaled, looking into his eyes, every word she spoke dripping with sincerity, "I am interested. More than interested."
He raised his eyebrows, his eyes full of hope and it killed her to say, "but I can't… be a couple with you."
His hurt expression broke her heart. "I'm sorry," she whispered, "but… my dream has always been in New York, Finn. I… I promised myself I wouldn't be in a relationship with anyone or-or let anyone distract me," she swallowed the lump in her throat, "I'm going to New York and I'm never coming back."
"Graduations months away," he grinned, "got any plans till then?"
"Finn," she breathed and he moved closer.
"I love you."
Her breath caught in her throat at his confession and her eyes filled with tears, "how could you possibly love someone like me?"
He shrugged again, "I just am. I feel so comfortable with you. I've never felt this close to someone before."
"I can't." she said sadly, wanting to so badly. No boy had ever, ever said they loved her. She knew this particular boy was special. So why couldn't she let them be a part of something special?
Then, he gave her this tiny smile, his brown eyes bright and gazing into hers, "take a chance on me."
Tearing up again, she said, "you know you can kiss me if you want to."
Smiling widely, he lifted her chin, chuckling when her eyes closed, head back. "I want to."
Rachel sighed into his mouth, bringing her hand around his neck, pressing her tiny body against his.
Pulling away, she but her lip with a smile, savoring the taste of him on her tongue. She leaned her forehead against his, her arms still wrapped around his neck. "Would you believe me if I said I fell for you the first day you spoke to me?"
Finn laughed loudly, remembering how dorky he had been. "No!"
She giggled, playing with the hair at the back of his neck. "I did! You were so charming and adorable."
"Adorable," he scoffed, "right."
She rolled her eyes and he kissed her pouty lips.
"I like kissing you," he grinned.
She sighted. "To think, all of this started in our school's cafeteria."
Finn's smile widened as he twirled a strand of her hair around his finger, "lunch always was my favorite class."