Finn pulled Rachel into a long kiss as the song ended. The crowd cheered Burt and Carole as they took to the dance floor once more. The rest of New Directions headed back to their tables to sample the first piece of wedding cake – red velvet – as chosen by Kurt.
"I want to remember this day for the rest of our lives," Finn whispered, holding her in his arms.
Rachel smiled, his breath tickling her neck. "I'll never forget it," she promised.
"You know I love you, right?" Finn asked as he led her to a private corner of the room.
Rachel shot Finn a puzzled look. "Of course I know," she assured him with her strong boldness. "I've known it since we competed at Regionals last year."
"I loved you before then," Finn told her as they sat down. "I was so afraid to tell you, after what happened with Quinn that year that I pushed you away."
Rachel put her hands up to silence Finn. "We don't need to dwell on the past," she promised him. "All that matters is that we're together now." She took Finn's hand in hers. "I knew that I loved you when you joined New Directions, risking everything to sing with the group."
Finn walked Rachel to a private corner of the dance hall, not wanting to share her with the other members of New Directions.
"I am so proud of you," Rachel admired, propping herself on a ledge. "You and I are really are the perfect co-captains for Glee," she admitted. Looking around the room she asked, "Could anyone else have done what we did?"
Finn watched Rachel's petite form; she was so exquisitely beautiful in her own way, embracing all that she was given. Fin had been with Quinn and Santana before, two girls forever trying to change who they were, yet Rachel accepted and actually embraced her features – which some might not call lovely, but Finn surely did.
"You're staring," Rachel stated, raising a stray finger to her lip. "Do I have something on my face?"
Finn grinned and shook his head. "You just look amazing."
Rachel blushed, still not used to the attention from who was arguably her first steady boyfriend – no longer bothering to include Jesse St. James in that category. "Kurt has great taste," Rachel added, assuming that he was referring to the dress.
Finn sat down next to Rachel. "Everyone spent the wedding looking at my mom, but I couldn't take my eyes off you the whole time."
Rachel lowered her head. She could never tell Finn, but she had pictured their own wedding on more than one occasion. The images had actually started after New Directions won Sectionals for the first time last year. Rachel had been thinking of him for months, while Finn remained faithfully committed to his pregnant girlfriend Quinn, not knowing that he was never actually the father. Finn had been damaged for weeks after the betrayal, unable to even rehearse with Quinn and Noah Puckerman, who was not only the father of the baby, but Finn's best friend as well. After the dust had settled, and Finn returned to the group, Rachel had hoped that they could start a relationship together. She made the mistake of coming on too hard, only pushing Finn away in the process. By the time Finn realized that he did want to date Rachel, she was already smitten with rival Glee club member Jesse Saint James, from Vocal Adrenaline at Carmel High School. Finn withstood and waited for Rachel to lose interest in her soon to be graduating boyfriend, who had less than honorable designs for Rachel, merely using her as a tool to win at Regionals. In spite of the best efforts of New Directions, Vocal Adrenaline took top prize at the competition, but Finn and Rachel believed that they won something greater – a lasting relationship with each other.
Finn believed that he was lucky to be with someone as wonderfully unique as Rachel, who in addition to being talented and goal-oriented also seemed very genuine and compassionate – a quality that Finn's previous girlfriends seemed to lack.
As Finn watched Rachel play with the stem of one of the long water lilies that adorned the hall, he recalled one of his mistakes made after the group won Sectionals last year. In an effort to try something new, he took up cheerleader Santana Lopez up on her offer to go out on a date and wound up sharing his first time with her that night. Finn left that night feeling empty inside, knowing that he had wasted his first time on someone who he cared so little for. He assumed that that would be the end of it; Santana had plenty of other boys to entertain her, and he would most likely be forgotten now that she had managed to take his virginity, which seemed to be her only reason for wanting to date him in the first place.
But then today Santana had propositioned him just before the wedding, bringing it up completely out of the blue. As usual, Santana had laced the conversation with insults, commenting on Finn's declining popularity not only at McKinley but within the circle of New Directions. Her solution had been for him to tell the school that they were together last year, believing that it would service both of their reputations. Finn had immediately shot her down, declaring openly that he loved Rachel, something that he had never said to anyone other than her. Santana had scoffed at Finn's comment, saying that maybe she would tell Rachel herself, so that they could be free to see one another. The conversation had stopped after that, with Rachel arrival stopping either party from going forward.
Finn continued to watch Rachel. He knew that Santana was truly capable of anything, and was prone to following through with threats and promises. Santana and Rachel had been at war with each other since Glee began; both girls vied for top solos in New Directions, and Santana could still not fathom why Finn would chose someone like Rachel over a more popular girl like herself.
Finn clenched his fists together. In his heart, he knew that he would have to come clean to Rachel about his past with Santana before she had a chance to do it herself. It would be better coming from me, Finn nodded, knowing that he would have to do it sooner rather than later.
The swelling of music from the ballroom filled the halls. Finn stood up and took Rachel's hands. "Dance with me." He held her close, rocking her back and forth to the music. What will she do when I tell her? Rachel had confided in Finn months ago that she was still a virgin, and she assumed that he was as well. Finn didn't have the heart to tell her otherwise, knowing that mentioning Santana could send Rachel away for good. But now he didn't have any other choice.
Rachel rested her head on Finn's shoulder, reveling in the comfort of his warmth. Finn lowered his head, inhaling the sweet strawberry smell of Rachel's shampoo. He didn't want anything to ruin this moment, to ruin their relationship after it took them so long to find one another.
Neither party noticed a pair of menacing almond brown eyes looking at them from afar. What makes her so special Santana wondered bitterly, crossing her arms in defiance. It's not just that she gets all the good solos in Glee, or that she's dating the star quarterback of the football team, it's that she thinks that she's good enough to rub it in. Santana shook her head. Rachel Berry can afford to be taken down a peg or two, always thinking she's so much better than anyone else. Santana hated feeling inferior to anyone, especially her, and when Rachel so astutely pointed out that Santana still didn't have a boyfriend – the only Glee girl besides Mercedes to be single – she knew the little dwarf was asking for a beating. Santana shook her head. It wouldn't be enough to push her, take away her limelight in Glee – not that Mr. Schuester paid a great deal of attention to anyone else besides her. Santana eyed Finn with an evil smirk; she would hit Rachel where it hurt the absolute most, where she couldn't recover. If I don't have a boyfriend of my own, then I can certainly settle for hers, Santana thought with a laugh, believing that she would enjoy bursting Rachel's perfect fantasy with one heavy secret.
Santana turned around and came to face her best friend and fellow New Directions and Cheerio member, Brittany Pierce. Santana offered her friend a small smile. Now that Brittany was dating fellow New Directions member Artie Abrams, the two weren't as close as they used to be. Brittany, for all of her quirks, seemed to believe in monogamy and had shot down Santana's multiple offers for hanging out after school, choosing to the majority of her time with Artie and her cats at home.
"You kind of disappeared after the cake was cut," Brittany said, looking at Rachel and Finn.
"I didn't feel much like dancing," Santana said bitterly.
Brittany offered a supportive hand for her friend. "People shouldn't be alone at weddings," she commented, "It's illegal."
Santana laughed at her blonde friend. Brittany, so innocent and seemingly honest, seemed smarter than the rest of New Directions put together. And Santana still longed for her, which was part of the reason that she was so desperate to make everyone else feel as unhappy as she was at that moment.
"Isn't McWheels rolling around the halls looking for you?" Santana joked.
Brittany shook her head. "Please don't call him that, he's a really nice guy."
"I didn't know you were into 'nice'," Santana noted, turning her attention back to Finn and Rachel.
"I think I know what this is about," Brittany said, taking Santana's hand in hers. "And you have nothing to worry about – you're still my best friend."
Santana pulled away from Brittany. "What if I were to tell you that I wanted more than just 'friendship'?" she challenged.
Brittany narrowed her eyes at her friend. "You always told me that you couldn't do that," Brittany replied, recalling more than one stinging conversation where Santana explained her need for privacy where their budding friendship was concerned.
"People can change their minds," Santana insisted. "I can change my mind – or maybe I've been denying something that's been true for so long…"
"Are you asking me to break up with Artie?" Brittany asked abruptly.
"You don't love him, you don't go for 'nice'," Santana insisted, taking Brittany by the shoulders. "You and I have something special."
Brittany nodded her head, "If I ever end things with Artie, you'll be the first person that I go to," Brittany promised with a smile.
Santana frowned, that was not the answer that she was looking for.
"Then go back to Wheels," she muttered, hoping to hide the tears that were beginning to form.
"You'll find someone else," Brittany promised, walking back to the dance hall, leaving Santana alone once again.
I'm always alone, she muttered to herself. Even when I'm with Brittany or another guy, I am always alone. Turning her attention once more to Rachel and Finn. Santana scowled. Finn wasn't her first choice in men, he still seemed to carry his baby fat, and he had a more than annoying penchant for trying to 'do the right thing', but Santana was willing to take what she could get, being too afraid of the lonely and isolating alternative.
Finn's eyes finally caught Santana's from the balcony. Santana blew Finn a seductive kiss with a bold wink attached. Finn gulped to himself, shielding Rachel from Santana's view. "I need to talk to you," he said, pulling her to another part of the ballroom.
Rachel nodded her head, following Finn's lead. He walked out the back doors and into a beautiful botanical garden, filled with every kind of flower imaginable. He recalled how beautiful the land looked when and Kurt explored various settings to hold the ceremony. Kurt took one look at the beautiful facility and knew that it was the perfect spot for Burt and Carole's dream wedding.
"Oh Finn," Rachel murmured, touching the petals of one of the long stemmed lilies, "This is exactly what ours should be like."
"What?" Finn asked her.
Rachel blushed, realizing what she had just admitted out loud. "Nothing," she stammered, her face becoming red. "You had something to say."
Finn and Rachel sat down on one of the benches in the garden. "You know that I love you, right?"
Rachel took Finn's hands in hers. "You told me that already," Rachel said softly, narrowing her eyes at Finn. "Something's wrong," she said quietly. Finn said nothing, prompting Rachel to continue. "I know that something is wrong, everything about today was too perfect." Rachel continued to ramble on. "Did you find something out about Sectionals? Are one of the teams better than us?"
"It's not about Sectionals…or New Directions," Finn cut in. "It's us."
"Us?" Rachel repeated, her eyes widening. Taking in a deep breath she stammered, "Are you breaking up with me? How can you break up with someone that you claim to love?" Rachel's eyes began to fill with tears. "I knew this was too good to last."
Finn grabbed Rachel's shoulders. "I love you Rachel; the last thing I want to do is break up."
"Then what are you…"
Finn cut her off with a deep kiss on the mouth. Pulling her into his arms he began his explanation. "When we weren't together, there were some things that happened…things that I never told you about."
Rachel rested her head on Finn's chest. "Like what?"
"While you were dating Jesse St. James, I was dating other people too."
"I don't care who you dated while before we got together," Rachel lied, knowing that she had spent plenty of sleepless nights wondering who Finn had been dating when they were not together.
"I lied to you, when I told you that I was a virgin," Finn said quietly. "I lost my virginity during sophomore year, after winning Sectionals."
Rachel took in a deep breath. "You aren't a virgin," Rachel said quietly, recalling their almost first time together, after Burt's heart attack. Rachel finally suggested that they both save their first time and Finn, too stunned to say anything, agreed.
Rachel pulled away from Finn giving him a tight smile. She had wanted their first time to be together, imagining a romantic evening in a hotel room after the junior prom that spring. "Finn it's okay," she said quietly. "The important thing is that we are still together, and I get to share my first time with you."
"It was stupid," Finn admitted. "All I wanted to do was take that night back…but I can't."
"Finn, we don't need to talk about this anymore. I can accept the fact that you slept with someone, it's not like you cheated on me."
"You need to know who it was with," Finn insisted.
"No," Rachel raised her hand to stop him. "It's best that I don't know who she is."
"But you already know her," Finn said in a low voice. "She's in New Directions with us."
Rachel let out a heavy sigh. "I don't care that you slept with Quinn Fabray," she said exasperated, wanting to know why Finn was dwelling on such a painful subject."
"It's not Quinn," Finn cut in. "It's…."
"Hi guys." Santana Lopez sauntered over to the young couple, wearing the same plastic Cheerio smile that she had perfected over several years. "You want to dance?" she asked Finn, offering him her arm.
Rachel stood up, backing away from Finn, resisting the urge to lunge at the Latina cheerleader standing before her. "Her," she said in a low voice, her long index finger pointing at Santana's developed frame.
"Rachel…" Finn began, but his young girlfriend didn't stay long enough to hear it. Rachel darted off into the reception hall, allowing the door to bang shut behind her.
"Was it something I said?" Santana asked sweetly, sliding in next to Finn.
Finn stood up, towering over Santana. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you're a bitch." Finn ran into the building in an attempt to find Rachel and smooth out the situation before it became worse.
Rachel brushed past a swarm of well wishers, singing and dancing to the impeccable band that Kurt had hired for the wedding. Kurt planned such a great reception, and now I can't even enjoy it, Rachel thought to herself, finally reaching her destination. Rachel threw open the door to one of the lavish women restroom's and marched into the biggest stall at the corner. Locking herself in, she let the most bloodcurdling scream she could muster from her tiny frame, allowing all of her anger and humiliation to rush over her. It wasn't enough for Finn to sleep with someone – he picked her….of all the girls at McKinley – in Lima – and he picks her. Rachel felt warm tears sliding down her cheeks. She had made the most wonderfully romantic plans, plans that were months in the making, and now they were all destroyed by one night, one lie that had been carried on for months. Not a virgin, Rachel scolded herself. He must hate me for wanting to wait.
Rachel did her best to ignore the chatter from the women's restroom. Her scene in the hall had not gone unnoticed, with Mercedes, Tina, and several other female wedding guests rushing into the room to see what all the fuss was about.
"Did anyone see her beforehand?" Tina whispered to Mercedes.
"I thought she was with Finn," Mercedes murmured back. They were both wondering which one should go in and try to talk to Rachel first. Neither girl was particularly close to her, but curiosity was beginning to get the better of them.
"Where are Quinn, Santana, and Brittany?" Tina asked.
"Like they'd be any help," Mercedes muttered.
"Allow me." The gentle voice of Carole Hudson Hummel made the crowd of women step back. Those who did not know the girl crying in the stall walked out of the restroom, leaving only Mercedes and Tina with Carole.
Carole waved at Mercedes and Tina, promising to return Rachel as soon as possible. Both girls walked out of the room, all the more curious than before.
Carole knocked on the last stall. "Rachel?" she said softly. "It's Carole. May I come in?" Carole heard a few more stray sniffles as Rachel finally pushed the locked door open.
"I can't say no to the bride," Rachel said, standing straighter.
"Why don't we sit down?" she offered, gesturing the blush benches in the hall of the restroom.
Rachel reluctantly followed, crossing her arms over her chest in a protective stance. "Mrs. Hudson…Hummel…." Rachel struggled with what to call the woman before her.
"Honey, I've told you before – you can call me, Carole." She wrapped a protective arm around the young junior. "What's wrong?"
Rachel shook her head. "I don't want to say anything to spoil this wonderful day."
"There is nothing you could say that would ruin this day," Carole promised. "I hate to think of my son's girlfriend being so upset."
Rachel looked at the beautiful bride. There is no way that I'm telling her that her son lost his virginity to the school slut, she told herself, reserving that story for Finn.
"Did you and Finn have a fight?" Carole prodded.
Rachel nodded her head. "Finn told me something today….something that's very hard to handle."
"I know for a fact that my son loves you very much; anything he did he did out of love for you."
Rachel dried her eyes with a tissue. "Maybe so, but…I can't see him in the same way anymore." Rachel looked at Carole's face of concern. "It's nothing illegal or anything, I promise. We weren't even dating when it happened." Rachel took a deep breath. "I had these wonderful plans for Finn and I…to graduate together, go to college together, conquer the world together and now…" Rachel reached for another tissue from the bedazzled boxes in the ladies room.
Carole rested a hand on Rachel's shoulder. "You know one of the interesting things about plans is that they are always changing," Rachel looked up and rested her hands in her lap, listening to Mrs. Hummel. "I thought that Finn's dad and I were going to be together forever. But then he enlisted in the army. When he was killed in the line of duty…" Carole reached for a tissue, "I honestly thought that my life was over." Taking a deep breath, she shook her head. "But then I realized that I still have Finn, and that life wasn't going to stop just because my plans were not going to work out."
"I still have Finn," Rachel said quietly.
"Yes you do," Carole promised her. "The way he talks about you at home, the way he was looking at you during the wedding – he never did any of that when he was dating Quinn."
Rachel couldn't help but smile at Carole's comforting words. "I should go find him," she said, standing up in one graceful motion. She paused at the door. "I'm a little nervous," she laughed.
Carole smiled and pulled her into a hug. "Believe me, no one is going to remember this moment; there's too much joy outside."
Rachel nodded her head. Like a true star, the show must go on. Rachel held her head high and waved to Carole as she went to go find Burt.
Rachel walked down the halls in search of Finn. They were still together; they could move on together and make new plans. Rachel reached for a spare red rose from one of the vases. Hopefully I didn't freak him out too much, Rachel thought to herself. Rachel paused in front of one of the rooms when she heard two male voices, one belonging to Finn and the other belonging to Kurt.
Rachel smoothed her dress and politely knocked on the door to the open room. Both boys looked at her, Finn offering a nervous smile.
"I'll leave you two alone," Kurt said, patting Rachel on the shoulder.
Rachel stepped forward raising her hand to speak first. "I'm sorry I ran off," she said, sitting next to Finn. "I suppose I am a bit of a drama queen," she chuckled.
"You shouldn't be apologizing, you have every right to be upset," Finn said. "I should have told you sooner, but when we got back together, I didn't want to do anything to upset us. And when you told me you wanted to wait for sex, I knew it would be easier to just agree rather than tell you that I did it before."
"I admit that your choice in girls was questionable; what you saw in her I can never understand." Rachel's voice began to waver slightly.
"Rachel." Finn pulled her closer to his body, wrapping her in her arms.
"She made of me. She was the girl that bullied me the most, more than Quinn, more than the Jocks." Rachel let out a heavy sigh. "And you knew, you knew how she treated me – you saw it first hand – and you still slept with her." Rachel wiped her eyes.
"If I could take it all back I would." Finn kissed the top of Rachel's head. "My feelings about you haven't changed."
Rachel looked into Finn's eyes, locking them with hers. "Mine neither." Rachel closed her eyes, inhaling Finn's cologne. "Do you still mind waiting?" she asked softly.
Finn shook his head. "Some things are worth the wait Rachel. And I know that you're one of them." Finn caught her lips with his in a kiss.
The sounds of fellow glee-clubbers broke their embrace. Rachel looked up to find all of the members of New Directions with the sole exception of Santana, standing before them. Rachel sent Finn a questioning look as Artie began to sing, with Sam accompanying him on the guitar.
"Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can't help falling in love with you."
Finn extended his hand for Rachel, pulling her from her seat. He led her to the middle of the room and began to waltz with her. "I wanted the chance to have a special dance with my best girl," he whispered into her ear as Artie continued to sing with the rest of the group harmonizing behind him.
"Shall I stay, would it be a sin? If I can't help falling in love with you."
Rachel found tears forming in her eyes once more as Puck took lead vocals.
"Like a river flows surely to the sea, Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be."
The New Directions members finished the song as Finn pulled Rachel closer to his body.
"Take my hand; take my whole life too, for I can't help falling in love with you."
Rachel beamed at Finn as the song came to a close. "I want to remember this moment exactly as it is," she whispered. "Perfect."
"I had a little help," Finn admitted with a small nod at Kurt. Rachel and Finn walked to the rest of the group members. Finn wordlessly thanked Kurt for his song choice and quick assembling of the group as Rachel joined Tina and Mercedes in a group hug.
"I think it's time for another big group number," Kurt said, as the gang followed him to the main hall. Finn grabbed Rachel's hand and gave her a gentle squeeze. "I hope we get to be as happy as Burt and my mom are."
"I think we will be," Rachel said with an affirmative nod, waving at the various wedding guests who were anxiously awaiting another show stopping number. "I think we will be."