A/N: Happy St. Berry Week II, everyone! This little plot bunny hijacked my muse over the weekend, so I simply had to follow. Hope you all enjoy. :)

Fair warning – I have not watched any previews for First Time, nor have I read any detailed spoilers. The jumping off point for this story is the simple fact that Rachel will lose her virginity to Finn. Resemblance to anything scripted by RIB in the episode is purely coincidental.


"Do you wanna grab a burger?"

Those had been the first words out of Finn's mouth the moment he'd rolled off of her. The fire he'd lit to help set the mood was reduced to embers, and there was a chill in the air that had nothing whatsoever to do with the absurdity of his question. They were lying side by side under the flimsy blanket Rachel had pulled over herself in a flash of post-coital shyness, but he made no move to touch her. It was as if, having been satisfied, he felt no desire for any further contact. She, on the other hand, couldn't stop shivering, and would have welcomed the warmth of his body wrapped around her – even if, simultaneously, she wanted nothing more than to run upstairs to her bathroom, jump under a hot spray of water, and rinse away all traces of him from her skin. His query puzzled her, however, so she forced herself to muster up the energy to find out what he meant.

"Why would you ask me that?"

"Uh… it's what Santana wanted… the night we… you know…" he stammered. "I thought all girls craved food after sex."

She was suddenly too exhausted to take him to task for his insensitivity. The numbness that had crept up on her once it was over appeared to be spreading, its tendrils unfurling relentlessly throughout her body. She wanted – no, she needed – him to leave. The awkwardness that had fallen between them was increasingly unbearable, and his very presence felt suffocating. With one swift motion, she stood up and, yanking the blanket off him, drew it tightly around her trembling form.

"You should go," she urged, the smile she'd plastered on her face easing the sting of her abrupt dismissal.

His confusion was evident in the look he directed her way, and she hastened to offer a rationale she hoped would be persuasive.

"My dads'll be home soon."

The blatant lie fell easily from her lips, and he didn't challenge her on it, despite her having told him just the previous day that her fathers were slated to be away overnight. She was suddenly grateful for his customary lack of attention to most of her pronouncements.

Despite its falsehood, her warning had the desired effect. The idea of being caught naked in their family room by one or both of the Berry men had clearly rattled Finn and, reaching for his discarded clothing, he was dressed within seconds. Having promised to pick her up for school in the morning, he'd loped halfway to the ground floor when, almost as an afterthought, he sprinted back down and kissed Rachel somewhat clumsily on the side of her mouth, before racing upstairs and out the front door. Hearing it slam shut, she breathed a sigh of relief.

Balling up the sheet, with its tell-tale bloodstain, and tucking it under her arm, she tossed the pillows back on the couch, turned out the light, and fled to the safety and comfort of her room.

Slipping gratefully under the pulsing stream of water, Rachel closed her eyes and let its welcome warmth relax her stiff, aching muscles. As she allowed her mind to wander, the memory of what she'd just done with Finn overwhelmed her, causing regret to settle like a stone in the pit of her stomach. She couldn't help but feel that she'd made a colossal mistake in giving herself to the lanky football player who, truth be told, had never been an ideal boyfriend. Now, in spite of the fact that Finn was the one with prior experience, he'd proven himself equally inept as a lover. Clearly, he hadn't picked up much in the way of technique from his time with Santana – and the cheerleader definitely hadn't taught him the finer points of how to please a girl.

Whenever she'd contemplated her first time, she'd never envisioned it being so… disappointing. There was simply no other word to describe it. She'd been certain that the experience would leave her with a sense of euphoria and completeness, and bring her closer than ever to Finn. Instead, she felt used… empty… and incredibly lonely. If those were the end results of having sex, it was obviously vastly overrated and not worth all the fuss.

The manner in which she'd lost her virginity appeared to bear little resemblance to the many depictions she'd watched over the years in movies and on television, or read about in the trashy novels she sometimes leafed through late at night, surreptitiously, under her covers. There'd been no candlelight. No rose petals strewn across her bed. No shiny satin sheets. No soft music in the background. None of the trappings that she'd come to associate with love and romance.

It's not as if she'd needed all of that. Finn didn't have a lot of money and he was a practical kind of guy, so it's not as if she'd expected him to do the hearts and flowers thing. Not literally. But she wished it had seemed like a bigger deal to him, and that he'd focused a bit more on her feelings and needs, rather than his own. After all, in the fantasy world of make believe that had informed her views, sex was always beautiful and nothing hurt.

She sighed. The reality she'd had to endure had been far different – a thin sheet spread over a hard floor… a sweaty, fumbling boy on top of her… some cursory kneading of her breasts… a few perfunctory kisses… Then, almost without warning, he'd been inside of her, his eyes closed, thrusting blindly. Even through the fog of her pain, it occurred to her that Finn had seemed incredibly uncomfortable. Almost as if his hormones had driven him to perform an act that his mind wasn't quite ready to accept. Either that, or she wasn't attractive enough to him, and looking at her during sex would have been a turn-off.

You deserve epic romance.

She laughed bitterly as Jesse's long ago declaration echoed in her head. Whether it was what she deserved or not, there was nothing epic about what had just transpired between her and Finn. It had been cold and almost mechanical, and the best thing she could say about it was that it was done.

A wave of fatigue washed over her, causing her to sway slightly, and she held out a hand against the cool tile of the shower stall to steady herself. Gripped by a sudden urge to lie down, she reached for the soap and a cloth, and made short work of scrubbing her skin clean. As she towelled herself dry and shrugged into her robe, she drew a deep breath. Even though it was still relatively early, the desire to crawl into bed, curl up under the covers and try to distract herself with one of her favourite movies exerted an inexorable pull.

Fleetingly, she wished her dads were home. The loneliness that she'd felt earlier had come crashing back full force, and she found herself craving human contact. A lump formed in her throat and she blinked back tears at the realization that there was absolutely no one she could call – Finn wasn't an option, Mercedes wasn't speaking to her, and Kurt was still livid at her decision to run against him for class president. She would have to get through this night on her own.

Emerging from the bathroom, Rachel padded over to her nightstand, fumbled briefly for the switch at the base of her lamp and, once her fingers had made contact, quickly pressed it. As the warm, golden glow spread outwards, banishing the shadows, she caught a hint of unexpected movement beside her, and she screamed. The boy lounging nonchalantly on her bed appeared completely unfazed by her sudden outburst.

"Relax, Rach. It's just me."

Her eyes blazed as she whirled to face her uninvited guest.

"Don't you dare try to pacify me, Jesse St. James! What are you doing here? How did you get in?"

"You showed me where the spare key was hidden back when we were dating, remember? It's still in the same spot. Your dads are nothing if not predictable."

"That answers the how. Not the why," she persisted.

"I heard about your plans for the evening."

His tone was scornful, yet his gaze was quietly assessing, and her cheeks flushed a bright red at his probing scrutiny. Instinctively, repeating a pattern they'd established long ago when engaging in debates of all kinds, she clambered onto the bed and settled herself cross-legged at its foot.

"Not that it's any of your business, but how the hell did you find out?"

She stared defiantly at him, fury seeping from every pore. He met her unspoken challenge unflinchingly, as always.

"Word gets around," he responded cryptically.

"That's all you're going to say?" she sputtered angrily.

"Does it really matter? The point is, I know."

"I still fail to see how this concerns you in any way, Jesse. We've barely exchanged two words since New York."

He winced inwardly at the reminder of the utter disaster that had been her Nationals competition, but gave no outward sign of his reaction.

"That's true, but I'd be willing to bet that you've kept tabs on me, just as I have on you."

She opened her mouth to protest, then closed it abruptly. She couldn't deny the accuracy of his statement. Even though she'd been dating Finn for the past five months, she'd been unable to completely erase her ex-boyfriend from her thoughts. Idle curiosity – and, if she were honest, a powerful need – had driven her to seek out any and all information on the maddeningly complicated boy who still had a claim on her heart.

"I thought you were angry at me," she ventured softly, trying as subtly as possible to determine the nature of his feelings, and what his hidden agenda might be.

"I haven't completely forgiven you yet, but I still care about you enough that I couldn't let you believe whatever you just did with him is as good as it gets."

Her brown eyes flashed again, and her defence of her boyfriend was automatic.

"We made love, and it was perfect."

The eyebrow he cocked at her was wordlessly mocking.

"Really, Rach? Then tell me, what was on your iPod tonight?"

Glancing across the room, she spotted the device in question, resting securely on its dock – where it had remained since she'd slid it into place that afternoon. She suddenly became conscious that the soft strains of Adele were drifting from the speakers, and she shot a quizzical look in Jesse's direction.

"It was too quiet," he stated matter-of-factly. "And you're avoiding my question."

"Which was?" she inquired, obviously stalling as she tried to formulate a response that wouldn't paint her boyfriend in an unfavourable light.

"You know," he shot back, refusing to assist her in her attempt to bolster the reputation of his hated rival.

"I… forgot it up here," she offered, the excuse sounding lame even to her ears.

"And he didn't rush up to get it? Seriously, Rach? He claims to care about you, yet he didn't realize you'd want whatever you consider your song playing in the background? People like us always need a soundtrack to enhance our experience."

She chose to ignore his all-too-accurate observation, repeating her earlier declaration instead.

"The music wasn't important. He did everything else right," she insisted, although her voice lacked conviction.

Suddenly, he was no longer casually reclining against her headboard. In one lithe motion, he'd shifted to a sitting position, effectively closing the gap between them. His eyes, so light a moment ago, had darkened noticeably. Caught in the intensity of his gaze, she found herself incapable of looking away. Mesmerized by those deep blue pools, she failed to notice the movement of his hand, until she felt it come to rest lightly on the back of her leg. His touch scorched her skin and she swallowed audibly at the unexpected contact, but she didn't pull away.

"Did he do this?"

His finger followed an aimless path along the sensitive skin just behind her knee as he leaned even closer to whisper in her ear. His voice was like velvet, soft and smooth, and it flowed like a caress across her neck, leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake.

"N… no…" she stuttered.

"Then he definitely didn't do everything right," he retorted smugly.

As he continued to sketch abstract patterns along the inside of her thigh, the vulnerability of her situation became abundantly clear. She was wearing a robe – and nothing else. There was no barrier whatsoever between Jesse's finger and her most intimate area. She really should tell him to stop… or put some distance between them… or…

All rational thought ceased as he began dropping moist, wet kisses along her jawline. When he reached her earlobe, he nipped it playfully, before tracing the shell of her ear with his tongue. Rachel shivered. Unlike earlier, this time it had nothing to do with cold or disappointment. Jesse had managed to arouse her more fully in a few short minutes than Finn had been able to in… well… ever. As her ex-boyfriend drew back slightly, she deliberately swallowed the protest that had risen to her throat. She wasn't supposed to feel this way… to want him so much… to be willing to cheat on Finn…

Almost as if he sensed her inner turmoil, he caught her gaze once more.

"We can stop at any time," he assured her.

His next actions belied his words, however, as he moved his mouth to hers and claimed her lips in a bruising kiss. Instinctively, her arms rose to encircle his neck, her fingers tangling in his enticing curls. He wrapped his arms around her waist in response, and as he pulled her flush against him, the top of her robe fell open, exposing her to his view. For a few seconds, she wasn't sure that he'd even noticed. He kept his lips glued to hers until, a moment later, his hands were at her shoulders and he was pushing the garment off, inch by tantalizing inch. Once it was bunched at her waist, he began to nuzzle his way down her neck and across her collar bone, stopping as his nose came to rest in the valley between her breasts. His hot breath was sending jolts of electricity straight to her core, and a tremor shot through her once more. When he lifted his head, she immediately understood his unspoken question. Temporarily incapable of speech, she could only nod, but it was the permission he'd been waiting for.

His head dropped back down and his tongue darted out, grazing an already pert nipple. A noise she didn't quite recognize emerged from deep within her, and she felt him smirk against her skin.

"Mmm… perfect," he whispered against the curve of her breast.

His words managed to pierce through the lustful haze that was currently clouding her brain. Had he just called her perfect? She'd so often been the object of ridicule. Was he really praising her for a part of her anatomy that other boys had led her to believe left much to be desired?

"So beautiful…" he murmured, erasing any uncertainty she had as to his meaning.

His mouth encircled the nipple he'd previously been teasing, and he sucked at it gently, earning him yet another moan from the girl in his arms. Palming her other breast, he grinned in satisfaction as she became increasingly vocal. When his name fell from her lips, he bit back the impulse to ask if she'd called out his rival's name with equal abandon that evening. He sincerely doubted it.

Banishing all thoughts of Finn from his mind, Jesse shifted his focus to Rachel's lips. They were swollen from his earlier kisses, which made them all the more irresistible. Lowering his mouth to hers once again, he thrust his tongue out to meet hers. What began as a gentle probing quickly became forceful and heated. He clearly intended to stake his claim in every way that mattered, starting with the kiss. It was so possessive. So demanding. They'd made out before, but never with such intent.

In that instant, the inevitable outcome of their current actions became clear. He planned to make love to her. She was going to let him. Yes, it meant she'd be cheating on Finn. But she'd been eager to share an amazing experience with him, and none of it had turned out the way she'd hoped. Now that she was no longer a virgin, and that she had an incredibly hot and skilful guy offering to show her how good sex could be, she simply couldn't resist seizing the opportunity.

She was roused from her thoughts by the realization that his hand had returned to her thigh, and that it was edging ever higher. Slipping from his hold, she stretched out on her back, allowing her legs to fall open and granting him tacit permission to continue what he'd started. He took a moment to drink her in, staring at her in such a way that she felt attractive for one of the first times since she'd outgrown her cute little girl stage.

She'd expected him to move on top of her, the way Finn had, but Jesse clearly had other ideas. The pad of his thumb was currently tracing lazy circles on her taut bundle of nerves, and she could feel the pressure building deep in her belly. She was unprepared for the sensation of his warm breath at her entrance, and a small squeak escaped her. The squeak morphed into another undecipherable noise as his tongue slid between her folds, and he began to alternately lick and thrust in a way that made her squirm at the exquisite torture. Soon, his fingers began to move in concert with his tongue. Her body thrummed, and every nerve ending was on fire. Without the release she was craving, she felt she might explode.

"Jesse… please…"

He knew exactly what she wanted and he quickened his movements, sending her flying over the edge of the abyss, the strength of her orgasm unlike anything she'd ever known. As she came down from her high, she reached for him, groping for the waistband of his jeans and attempting to undo the button and zipper. Covering her hands with his own, he brought her actions to a halt gently, but firmly. She whimpered in protest.

"I want this to be good for you," he explained softly. "You just had sex for the first time earlier tonight. I'm not sure your body's ready for another go-round."

"I am if it's with you," she insisted. "I know you won't hurt me."

Watching her look at him with such obvious yearning, he was powerless to resist her. Hastily discarding his clothing, he positioned himself above her then paused, giving her one last chance to change her mind.

"I want this. I want you," she assured him.

At her words, he abandoned any further arguments and entered her slowly, determined to give her an experience she would never forget. Feeling her begin to tense, he hummed along to the music she'd been vaguely aware of on a subconscious level all evening, and she relaxed instantly. Soon, she was arching up to meet his thrusts, adapting easily to his rhythm, and he increased his pace as their coupling built to an explosive climax.

"The music… really did make… it better." Her admission came in breathless gasps, her chest heaving as she waited for the overly rapid beating of her heart to return to normal.

"That was all me, sweetheart. The music had nothing to do with it," he responded, a cocky grin visible on his face.

She laughed, unfazed by the arrogance of his remark. He was supremely talented, and he knew it. In a very short time span, he'd managed to erase the unpleasant experience she'd shared with Finn from her mind, replacing it with an absolutely perfect one.

He wrapped his arm around her and she curled against his side. Lying quietly, completely at peace, she began to focus more intently on the songs emanating from her iPod. As one track flowed into the next, her brow furrowed and she raised her head to catch his gaze.

"You were in the shower a long time," he shrugged by way of explanation. "I put something together I thought you'd like."

Sighing contentedly, she rested her head on his chest, and he tightened his hold on her. Within minutes, sleep had claimed them both.

Rachel woke the next morning to an empty bed, Jesse having slipped away soundlessly sometime before sunrise. Glancing over to look at her clock, she was distracted by the sight of a small piece of paper lying on her nightstand. Unfolding it, she immediately recognized his jagged script.

I know you're taking this year to live out your high school fantasy with Hudson, but I never promised to make that easy for you. J

She laughed aloud at his candid admission, as she reflected on what had taken place between them. She understood his motives all too well. He'd wanted to show her she'd made a mistake, and to demonstrate his superiority to Finn in the most tangible way possible. And yet, he'd done it in such a way that Finn had quickly become a non-issue.

Just as he had upon his return from UCLA, he'd been tender and loving towards her. He'd given her an out, and although he'd kissed her before she'd had a chance to respond, she was certain that he would have respected her wishes if she'd said no. He'd focused mainly on her pleasure for the better part of the evening, at the expense of his own. When it was over, instead of turning away, he'd cradled her in his strong arms. Rather than feeling dismissed and abandoned, she'd felt wanted and cherished.

Finn had been strangely mute during their encounter, in marked contrast to Jesse, who had expressed his obvious admiration of her physical attributes through a continuous litany of praise and appreciative murmurs. With Finn, the act itself had been painful – so much so, that she'd questioned whether she'd want to stage a repeat performance any time soon. Jesse, on the other hand, was such a skilled lover that he'd coaxed her to the heights of pleasure, and had her begging for more. As she recalled the touch of his hands on her skin, a secretive smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. In the past, she'd been enthralled by the way his fingers flew effortlessly across the keys of a piano. Clearly, that instrument wasn't the only thing he could play with those agile digits.

Frankly, she had to acknowledge that she was amazed at how he'd treated her. This was the boy who'd confessed that she meant more to him than fame – an incredibly meaningful statement, given their shared ambition – and she'd reacted by choosing Finn in the most publicly humiliating way possible. Jesse had every right to be bitter… to hate her… to want to get back at her. Instead, he'd taken an experience that had disappointed her on every level, and replaced it with something that had exceeded her wildest dreams.

Rolling over, she buried her nose in his pillow. It still smelled of him – an intoxicating mixture of soap, cologne and something undeniably masculine. Inhaling deeply, she could almost feel him at her side, which stirred up a yearning she thought had been fully satiated. She chuckled to herself in recognition of one unassailable truth – now that she'd had a taste of the delights Jesse could offer, she wanted more.

Staring at the ceiling, she soon was lost in her thoughts yet again. The way she'd responded to Jesse – not just physically, but emotionally – begged the question. Did she really love Finn? No matter how much she might try to deny it, the events of the previous evening would appear to have provided a definite answer – she was with the wrong guy, plain and simple. She'd told Finn that they'd have senior year together, but she was entertaining grave doubts about being able to keep her word. Jesse was her better match in every way that counted. She'd committed a huge error in judgment when she'd chosen to walk away from him. Now, she had an opportunity to make it right.

The echo of the doorbell brought Rachel crashing back to reality. Swearing under her breath as she noted the time, she threw on her robe and dashed downstairs. Finn's goofy grin filled the frame of the small peephole, and she bit her lip to stifle a groan, belatedly remembering his earlier vow to drive her to school. Although she would have liked nothing more than to ignore him, she realized he had no doubt heard her footsteps, and she reluctantly opened the door to greet him. Noting that she wasn't ready, he narrowed his eyes as he tried to determine what might have thrown her off her routine.

"Are you feeling okay?" he finally asked.

"Yes, I'm fine. I just overslept."

"You didn't get up at the crack of dawn today? What's going on?"

"Nothing. I was tired from… last night…" she replied, keeping her answer deliberately vague.

She could see from the look on his face that he'd made the assumption she'd expected him to, and it averted any further questions on the topic. As he leaned in to kiss her forehead, his brow furrowed once more.

"You smell… weird," he proclaimed.

"New body wash," she tossed over her shoulder as she headed up the stairs.

"No offense, but I don't like it," he called after her.

Rachel struggled to swallow the laughter that had threatened to erupt at his comment. Considering the fact that it was likely Jesse's scent that still clung to her hair and skin, it was hardly a surprise that Finn didn't find it appealing. She, on the other hand, would bathe in it if she could – but, since that wasn't an option, she'd have to settle for skipping her shower. Thankfully, running late gave her the perfect excuse.

"Last night was amazing," he gushed the moment they were both settled in his car. "Do you think we could do it again?"

Based on his reaction the day before, his current enthusiasm astonished her. Obviously, between then and now, he'd idealized their coupling in his mind.

"Uh, yeah. Sure," she agreed, keeping her tone neutral. "Maybe the next time my dads are away."

Her response was half-hearted at best, but her lack of enthusiasm was completely lost on Finn, and he smiled broadly as he droned on about Superman and capes and sex. Rachel tuned him out with ease. With any luck, he'd be so caught up in reliving their first time that she wouldn't have to contribute much to the conversation beyond the occasional nod. As far as actually repeating the experience with the boy at her side? Well, she imagined that her dads would be spending a great many evenings at home in the next couple of months – at least, that's what she'd be telling Finn.

Jesse's final appointment of the day had just ended and he was about to head home when he felt his phone vibrate. Retrieving it from his pocket, his lips curled into a triumphant smile at the name that flashed on his call display.

"Hey, Rach."

"Hi, Jesse. I know you're busy, but I'm home alone and I was wondering…"

Her unfinished sentence hung in the air between them, but no further words were needed for him to understand exactly what she was proposing.

"For you, Rach, I've got all the time in the world."