This is probably the last story for a while because I really have to focus on school, but it's a little something to tide over the mini hiatus.
And it's my first story of 2012. So, yay!
Whenhe sees her that day, she's helping little Hannah put some glittery butterfly beads onto her all pink bracelet at the crafts table. The four year old watches with wide eyes and a large grin as Rachel finishes adding the last colorful creature to the elastic before wrapping it around her wrist and double knotting to complete the homemade jewellery. "Perfect," she beams, tapping it gently, "do you like it?"
She nods shyly – Hannah isn't really the talkative type – and reaches her tiny arms around the brunette in a tight hug. Rachel's pretty lips curve into a smile and she gives the girl a soft squeeze. Hannah runs off to join some of the other girls, leaving the woman by herself. Finn uses this as his opportunity and reaches her just before she's put away the last bead into the correct box.
"Hey," he smiles, contemplating sitting down at the table but the seats are made for people who are a lot smaller than him and why tempt fate anyway?
So he just stands beside her, waiting for her to look up.
She eventually does, simply replying, "Hi." Her smile, or more like beam of pearly white teeth, dazzles him for a moment and he forgets what he was going to say.
"Cat got your tongue?" she smirks, standing up herself, not that it makes any difference. He's got at least good foot of height on her yet the way that she carries herself makes it seem like she believes she's a hundred feet tall.
"I –uh," he stumbles over the words. God, she's pretty – beautiful really. She's probably way out of his league and he feels as though every other adult in the room can tell and are judging him for even thinking of asking her out.
It's been weeks since they first met. He had volunteered here before her and, when she entered the hospital, his world was thrown upside down and shook around by this small brunette.
After many uncomfortable dreams and the gathering of every speck of courage he owns, he knows that today is the day. It has to be. He can't sit around wasting any more time waiting for her, as quick glances and dreams aren't enough. He must use his words and actually speak to her.
The thought terrifies him.
She crosses her arms and her eyebrow bends upwards, "Finn?" For a moment, his heart jumps when he hears her say his name, her intonations soft and caring though there's a hint of amusement. He almost believes that she knows his name from lusting after him in the same way that he does her, until he realizes that it's on the badge on his chest written in big pink letters because he didn't have the heart to tell Sophie that she couldn't design it for him.
Rachel stares at the glitter clad badge before blinking and averting her gaze to him again, waiting for an answer. She must think that he's an idiot. He can't even talk.
"C-coffee?" he stutters out, hoping that more words aren't needed because that may be a problem. Girls tend to leave him a bubbling mess, especially attractive girls.
Taking it all in her stride, her smile brightens, "sure." She reaches down and picks up her empty mug, one with puppies and kittens all bundled together, and hands it to him, "black, with a little bit of rice milk." She pats his hand, "I was going to just go and get one, but since you're offering..."
His smile falters: he meant for them to get one together.
And, unfortunately for him, some of the others overhear and he's suddenly taking everyone's orders without any way to tell them that he doesn't care what they want; it was all just a plan to talk to Rachel alone. Now it looks like he's going to get coffee by himself.
When he turns to her again, she's talking to Cali and drawing some gold stars onto the little girl's leg cast, her face animated as she speaks.
"Weren't you going for coffee?" Puck asks beside him, causing Finn to grumble a response and leave the room quickly.
It makes him feel proud when Brendon tells him that he wants to be a drummer just like him. He feels special. Of course, he doesn't tell the kid that he only drums as a hobby and that he has another job, but why ruin the boy's fun? He's only eight and, you know, dealing with a hole in your heart can't be a great experience either.
And the worst thing is that his parents can't afford the treatment, so the boy is stuck in here for now.
They have a jar in the staff room, where most people slip the few odd coins in as they go past. They'll do their bit. He's caught Rachel forcing in some notes on more than one occasion. Of course she would be the one to donate the most. From watching her, he can tell that she's great with kids, and all of the girls pretty much look up to her as a role model.
He likes to think that Brendon does that with him, but doesn't want to jump to conclusions.
Anyway, after he hears Brendon announce his want to be like him, he gently pats him on the back and grins, "if you practice, you will be. It's all about the effort you put in." He hands over the drumsticks to the small, child-size set that they have in the playroom, "I can teach you, if you like?"
"Really?" his eyes brighten with hope and Finn laughs.
"Sure, buddy," he leans forward, "anything for my friend. And you know that girls go crazy for drumming, right?"
The kid scrunches up his nose, "girls are gross."
He shakes his head, "they're really not."
"Then what's so good about 'em?"
"I – well, uh – they…" he runs his hand through his hair slowly as he thinks of a way to explain it to an eight year old, clearly with no avail.
To his left, he hears laughing and snaps his head around to see Rachel on one of the beanbags, her deep brown eyes stuck on the two. She nods at him, "impressive Finn. You sure have a way with words."
His heart sinks. She thinks that he's a loser who doesn't know anything about girls. Only, like, half of that is true.
Brendon peers between the two before giving Finn a knowing look, "see? She's making your face go red. My brother says that girls are evil."
Finn eyes Rachel, the woman now occupied with some of the children, and almost has a heart attack when she glances up and winks at him.
Yes, girls are evil.
She sits a seat away from him as they have the music session with the children. Noah Puckerman brought his guitar along and he, with a blonde named Quinn Fabray, is putting on a performance for the children.
Yet all he can stare at is the brunette who is smiling and cheering along, bobbing her head with the music and tapping her foot. She's hardly doing anything but every movement reels him in further. When she begins to mouth the words, he's mesmerized by her lips - full, red lips that he's sure would be amazing to kiss, among other things…
Oh shit, she totally knows that he's looking at her.
Clearing his throat, he sets his gaze forward once more, glad when Ethan acts as a distraction and asks if Finn can hold him up so that he can see better.
At the end of the session, he gulps when she stands up and begins moving towards him, her eyes set firmly on him as she wears a soft smile. Before he can speak, which is probably good because he clearly doesn't know how to around this woman, she thrusts a piece of paper into his hand. Curiously, he opens it and his eyes widen in surprise at the contents.
"It's my number," she says a little hopefully. Finn stares at the sparkly gold star following the final digit, "and gold stars are kinda my thing."
He nods quickly, eyes reaching up to hers. "I –" he starts, "w-what's this for?"
Rachel giggles – an angelic sounds in his ears, "so that you can call me."
Almost choking on the air, he stares up at her in disbelief and he feels the urge to pinch himself because this is not happening right now. Leaning down, she places a small hand on his shoulder and whispers into his ear, "and I suggest that you do it soon, before you miss your chance." She looks him up and down, smiling at the boy in his lap and ruffling his hair.
And then he's watching her walk away, swaying her hips as she does so.
Ethan spins around on his knee, "are you and Rachel married?"
"No!" he says quickly, hoping that no one heard that, "w-why would you think that?"
"Because," he tells him decisively, his blue eyes thoughtful, "my mommy and daddy act like that. And they're married."
Finn laughs nervously. "Yes," he explains, leaning a little closer to the boy, "but to be married, you have to wear wedding rings." He holds up his ring less hand and wiggles his fingers, "see, no ring."
"You could have taken it off," he counters.
"Now, why would I lie to you about this?" Finn smiles, though doesn't allow the boy time to reply, "let's go and play some video games." It'll be much easier if they can avoid the subject of Rachel all together, seeming as he can't even manage to string a full sentence together when they talk. He has no idea how he's going to survive through a full phone conversation.
Turns out, he doesn't.
He thinks about it, and spends many hours staring at her number, but he can't bring himself to actually call her. What if she realizes that she can do better than him? Or worse, what if this is a joke for her own amusement? She could be playing him. Finn convinces himself that that's not the case, that maybe she is actually interested in him.
So, after a week has passed by, he finds himself being confronted by an angry Rachel Berry.
Her eyes are narrowed and her forehead creased as she stares at him, arms folded crossly, "why haven't you called me yet?"
Finn stares up from the game of pool with Scott, the oldest member at the hospital, and sends him an apologetic smile. The fifteen year olds nods in understanding and gives him a thumbs up. Finn probably needs it, judging by her expression.
"What?" he frowns, turning to face her, towering over the brunette.
She purses her lips, raising an eyebrow and silently demanding an answer.
"It's only been a week."
"Yes," she confirms, "and I expected you to call me after three days at the latest!"
Scoffing, he pulls a face, "a bit full of yourself, aren't we?" The words shoot out of him. Why, when he finally can speak, does it have to be something offensive?
She gasps and he's pretty sure that he hears a low growl, which catches him by surprise. "Well, I just deduced that, after you spent weeks staring at me when you thought that I wasn't looking, that maybe you'd be a bit more eager to ask me out on a date."
Unable to answer, he stares at her with his mouth open. "Oh, don't act so surprised!" she rolls her eyes, "you're not exactly subtle, Finn."
"Y-you…you," he tries, all other words flying from his brain.
"I what?" she snaps, "I naively believed that you would actually have the courage to call me, after I'd already made the first move. Or that I waited for hours and hours for you. I carried my phone everywhere. I even slept with it on my pillow, but nothing. Not even a lousy text message, so excuse me for being slightly angry."
Slightly? She's enraged.
Finn blinks and takes a deep breath, resting his hands on her shoulders to keep her still. "Rach," he says softly, "look, I'm sorry. I-I wanted to call you. I really did. But you're like, beautiful, and it kinda intimidated me. And I don't have a good track record with girls, at all. I thought that you asking me out was – "
"A joke?" she finishes, looking slightly wounded.
"Well, yeah, then I realized that you're not that kind of person. Still, I find it hard to talk to you without making a fool of myself. This conversation is – err," he scratches his head, "a perfect example."
"Finn," she begins, "you're not making a fool of yourself. I personally find it sweet that I make you feel so…nervous." With a sigh, she adds, "I would've appreciated you taking to me earlier, or maybe even a simple text, then I wouldn't have spent the whole weekend wondering what I'd done wrong."
"You haven't done anything wrong," he's quick to tell her, "well, unless being pretty is a crime."
When she blushes, he feels a little bit more confident. Perhaps he can be charming and suave, and all the things that girls dream for in a man. "That was cheesy," she tells him, still beaming. "I liked it."
Finn laughs, moving his hands lower, his fingers brushing across her polka dot dress, "I-I, Rachel…" he feels nervous again, his palms sweaty and heartbeat racing uncontrollably, "so – ugh – do you wanna go out then?"
She nods furiously, "tomorrow night okay with you?"
"Y-yeah," he gives her a dopey smile, "tomorrow night then."
"Don't bail out on me," she warns with a smirk.
"I promise," he says.
Shit, shit, shit, and shit again!
This isn't happening.
He hits himself in the head for being so stupid.
Why did he agree to go on a date when he knew that he had a twelve hour shift before?
He had closed his eyes for a minute, a minute, and the next thing he knows, it's four hours later and he should have met Rachel over an hour ago.
So he drives to the restaurant in a hurry, almost running over a few people in his haste to catch her before she gives up on him completely. His car skids to a halt in the parking lot and he runs into the restaurant.
His panting and wild expression cause more than a few heads to turn, not that he cares. He just wants to know that he hasn't fully screwed up. A man, with slick dark hair and a sympathetic smile, appears beside him. He straightens out the pile of menus, speaking to him without looking at Finn, "you just missed her."
"What? – how did you…"
He gives him a knowing look, "you're the only guy that's ran in here looking like all his nightmares came true, therefore she must have been your date." He points to the door, "and she left about five minutes ago." He pauses, "she waited for over an hour. I think that you've got a lot of work ahead of you, making up for this."
"If she gives me another chance," he mumbles, deflated. If only he hadn't let himself fall asleep.
Finn just wants to drop to the floor in defeat, but he doesn't. He sits in his car, not bothering to turn on the engine, and stares at the door of the restaurant, in hope that maybe she'll go back, maybe he'll get another chance.
Of course this doesn't happen.
His forehead finds itself leaning against the cold, icy window as he stares into the dark, deserted parking lot and wondering how he screwed up so much.
In his pocket, his phone beeps and his hopes rise once more. Well, until he reads the message.
I've just arrived home, not that you'd care obviously. Please, don't bother apologizing as I'm going to have my phone switched off for the rest of the night. Thank you for once again dashing my hopes at you actually following your word.
She ends it bluntly and he wonders whether it means that it's a blunt end to whatever they had.
He doesn't listen to her.
He doesn't know how many times he calls, but each time it's the same message announcing that the number is unavailable.
"Great," he sneers to himself. Once again, he's blown his chance.
The worst part is that he believed Rachel to be different from the other girls he's dated. For one, she isn't a major bitch. Or, at least, he's pretty sure she isn't. His last girlfriend hid it pretty well until things started to get serious.
But Rachel doesn't seem like that kind of person. She volunteers at a Children's hospital twice a week. And, from seeing her with the kids, he knows that she's kind and generous, and she's always the person that stays longer than anyone else.
He thinks that he would have liked dating her.
It doesn't matter anymore.
She ignores him the following Thursday when he gets to the hospital, trying to crawl back into her good graces. With a set jaw and angry eyes, she avoids him like the plague.
Each time he nears her, she'll find an excuse to leave or just downright deny his existence.
Four hours later and he's still following her around like a lost puppy, trying to get a word in edgeways when she only holds up her hand to silence him and shakes her head.
"God, why are you being so difficult?" he asks aloud.
Her nostrils flare and she almost looks possessed, "why am I being difficult? You stood me up!"
"It was an accident."
"It was embarrassing," she cries, "sitting there like a fool for an hour, ignoring the smirks of the waiters and just praying that you'd arrive." Waving her hands in the air dramatically, she continues, "and then I convinced myself that you had a good reason, because I thought that you were a good guy. And you tell me that you overslept." She begins to walk away, her breath ragged. She's finished with Finn Hudson.
"Rach – "
Turning on her heel, she says quietly, "just leave me alone, okay?"
He follows her despite this, "hear me out."
"No!" she says stubbornly
Her outburst gains the attention of the occupiers of the room and Rachel huffs, grabbing his arm to pull him out of the room. "Look," she says, "I gave you a chance Finn. And you blew it." Her watery eyes meet his, his heart dropping at the sight of the tears brimming there. He wants nothing more other than to wipe them away, yet he knows that he's the cause, "and I don't believe in second chances, so…so that's it. You're done."
And with that, she slips back into the room, leaving Finn staring at the wooden door.
She said it herself. He's done.
What else can he do to convince her?
But, as much as he knows it'll be difficult to break back into her trust, he just feels like this is what he needs to do, like it's a part of his path in life that he has to complete. Finn's never felt this way before. He's never experienced the burn of passion that comes with such strong urges towards one person and, with that person being Rachel, it seems to only amplify the feelings.
He can only imagine how great they would be if they were actually a couple, and he didn't stupidly sleep through their dates.
Finn knows that he needs to charm her once again, and he doesn't give up easy.
He overhears her talking to Samantha, a five year old who has just had her appendix removed, and they're discussing their favorite flowers.
"I like roses," the redhead giggles, "because they're pretty and big and pink – or sometimes they can be red or yellow. And they smell really, really nice, and they're pretty." She grins, not realizing that she'd repeated herself, though Rachel only laughs, "what's your favorite?"
Her finger taps her chin thoughtfully, "hmmm, probably lilies." She tilts her head to the side slightly, pursing her lips, "pink lilies."
This is how he ends up rushing to buy two dozen worth of pink lilies, from what has to be the most expensive florist in New York, before the following Monday. When she sees him, standing nervously with the large bouquet, some of the leaves continuously hitting him in the face as he walks, she knows that they're for her.
Taking a deep breath, he moves over to her before any of the kids get the chance and holds them out for her.
"Finn," she sighs, her face falling at the sight of him appearing so hopeful. Even though she's still pretty angry at him, she hates having to deny him something else. "I thought that I – "
"I'm making it up to you," he says, a lopsided smile appearing, "I know that you said you don't you second chances, but I'm going to change that."
Her forehead creases as she considers what he means by that, but she still doesn't take the flowers. This causes him to frown, looking nervously between them and the brunette who's barely visible over the huge bouquet. "Rach, please take them."
She only stares, before blinking. "Finn, I – no." Biting he lower lip, she explains with a sad expression, "if I do, then I'm just encouraging this. I'm still angry at you, you know?" Her hands stand firmly against her hips as she waits for an answer.
"That was two weeks ago," he counters, his voice whiny. He gets that she was embarrassed and it's pretty much his fault, but he's apologized at least a hundred times and he really wishes that he could take it back.
"It doesn't matter," she barks, "it doesn't change a thing. I'll forgive you when I'm ready but for now, please, just let me get on with my life. I don't need a constant reminder of that night." She gives him a sad smile, her eyes drifting down towards the flowers, "look, Finn, they're beautiful, but I can't take them."
"What am I supposed to do with them?" he asks, defeated.
Not bothering to meet his eyes, "you decide. They're not mine."
"They were meant for you."
"I know," she agrees with a small nod. "But I'm sure that you'll find a use for them." He watches her walk back to Eliza and Caleb, joining them in their game of cards. He doesn't, however, miss the look that she throws his way a few seconds later.
Still, he's standing in this room with a bunch of pink flowers and he has no idea what to do with them.
It's all clear now, in order to win her over, he needs to do something bigger. He needs to talk to his brother: he knows more about romantic gestures that Finn ever will.
Kurt helps him pick out a nice pair of earrings, the entire time berating Finn on being a little too eager to please a girl who he's only known for three months and isn't showing any interest in him.
This time, he presents them to her at the end of the session, to avoid the others watching and mocking him, which was a regular occurrence from Puck. He catches her just as she's wrapping the white wool scarf around her neck, "hey Rach."
"Hello Finn," she replies primly, her posture uncomfortable and stiff. He powers through regardless.
"Look, I got something for you," he takes out the box from his shirt pocket and her eyes almost bulge out of the sockets.
She takes a deep, shaky breath, "F-Finn, please tell me that you're not proposing."
Realisation hits him and he shakes his head instantly, "what? No – that'd be crazy. I –just look." He moves his hand forward, trying to put the box in her grip yet, like with the flowers, she refuses.
"If I didn't take some mildly expensive lilies from you, what makes you think I'm going to take some form of jewellery?"
She does have a point.
Despite this, Finn needs to persist and he does this, playing the puppy dog look card. Her face falters, yet that's about it and everything else remains a strong defence against his advances. He doesn't understand why she's acting like this. If the roles were reversed, he would have easily forgiven her.
"I bought this for you," he explains, "so nobody else can have it."
"Finn," she places a hand on his bare arm, the touch sending a fire through his body that he'd never experiences from just the graze of the fingertips before. He smiles at this, the opposite of her expression, and hopes that she holds on for longer, "I'm flattered that you're still pursuing me, but it's about time that this stops. It's been a month and I – I,"
She closes her eyes slowly, as if unable to look at him as she speaks. Finn suddenly feels sick. He can feel a cold front coming in the form of bad news. "I'm seeing someone," she mutters, "an old friend from High School."
The room freezes. Rachel freezes. He's pretty sure that his heart stops too.
She's already dating somebody else.
He can't speak, only stare with glazed over eyes. How could she do this? She managed to forget about him so easily, and it doesn't appear to be bothering her at all when inside of him it's similar to emotional turmoil. It hurts. It hurts to be second best.
"I'm sorry," she tells him, gaze flickering to his face for a moment and her face turns into a pained expression, "but I did tell you that it wasn't going to work out between us." She nods, confirming her own words, all of which just make it worse.
Like a zombie, he retracts his arm and puts the box in his pocket, grumbling a goodbye.
Her tiny footsteps can be heard behind him. "We can still be friends!" she calls after him, her voice high and worried.
Finn shrugs enough for her to see and continues on his path home.
The tables turn and he finds himself unable to talk to her without imagining what her boyfriend is like. He's probably charming and handsome and oh so perfect. Is it possible to hate somebody who you've never met?
Rachel doesn't push him into anything. She offers smiles and sits next to him during the music sessions, but they don't really talk. He thinks that maybe she's feeling guilty, like he had been, and he know how that sucks. Part of him wants to tell her that it's okay. Maybe it wouldn't have worked out anyway, but the other part, the larger one, is still kinda pissed.
She just dropped him so easily and reunited with a High School fling.
Perhaps she is like the other girls he's dated.
Rain pounds angrily on the windscreen and he struggles to see ahead of him. The only thing he really sees are the other car lights and lots of grey. Oh and Rachel.
He does a double take, seeing her standing half on the sidewalk and attempting to flag down a taxi. She's holding her handbag above her head, not that the tiny bag can offer much protection, and she's soaked to the bone.
Finn checks his rearview mirror and, when he sees no taxis behind him, he slows his car beside her, smirking at her pissed expression due to the fact that she doesn't knows it's him.
Winding down the window, he shouts across to her, "enjoying the rain?"
She glares, but it's not really effective as she looks like everything she owns is wet through. "Are you just mocking me? Because this isn't funny. I'm supposed to be meeting my parents and I look like a drowned rat!"
That's a little harsh; even with being soaked through, she still manages to look pretty. "Do you want a ride?" he asks when some angry drivers beep behind him.
Rachel clearly hesitates before opening the door and climbing in beside him. He gets a splash of water in his face when she whips her hair around. "Sorry," she mumbles, taking off her coat and putting it on the floor with her handbag, "thank you for, you know, taking pity on me."
"Which way do you wanna go?"
Momentarily annoyed that he didn't reply to her thanks, she blinks and directs him to her apartment.
"You're welcome," he adds, "and it wasn't really taking pity 'cause we're kinda friends, right?"
"We are? You've been ignoring me for two weeks."
"Hmm," he replies, "I was trying to absorb the fact that you have a boyfriend after all that time I spent trying to win you over."
She sighs, twiddling her thumbs together on her lap, "I'm sorry for not telling you earlier, okay? It's not like you need to know every little detail of my life."
Finn remains silent, causing her to become more anxious. He keeps sending her sly glances, each time catching her looking at him.
"What's he like then?"
With a frown, she snaps out of her thoughts and stares at him, tilting her head, "who?"
His teeth clench together, something that doesn't go unnoticed by her, "my replacement."
"Finn – please don't be bitter."
"It's true though," he shrugs as though he said nothing wrong. Rachel guiltily looks away, "so, you going to tell me what he's like?"
"You really want to know?" she asks sceptically, "or do you just want to compare yourself to him?"
He replies honestly, "both."
A tiny giggle escaping her mouth, she shakes her head at his words, "Sam's nice. He's quite similar to you, actually, in the things that you like. He plays the guitar." Finn scoffs. The guitar is nowhere near as good as the drums. She pretends not to have heard him, "our families know each other very well. He used to live in California."
"Cool," he mumbles.
She gives him a look that makes him feel weak and unable to do anything but get lost in her eyes. Nothing is said as she peers outside and sits up more erect in her seat, "this is it."
After parking the car, he turns so that his whole body is facing her. "Er…I'll see you on Monday, I guess."
"Yes," she smiles, "thank you for the ride." Rachel makes to leave, but quickly turns around and faces him with a serious face, "did you mean it when you said that we were friends?"
Pausing, he nods, "yes, 'course I did. We shouldn't let your relationship stop that."
Ignoring the dig at her boyfriend, she beams and leans forward for a tight hug, her wet clothes pressing against Finn, not that he cares. He can smell her sweet perfume, making him almost delirious and the excitement shown by his heart is almost too much. Much too quickly, she pulls away and pushes back her wet hair to show her face more.
"Well, goodbye," she smiles shyly, "thank you Finn." And then she slips from the car, rushing into her apartment. He waits for her to get past the doorman before driving away. Though he knows that there's still a miniscule amount of annoyance towards her, he's happy that their friendship has been confirmed. It'll be nice to be able to talk to her again.
Things seem to go back to normal quickly and they spend a lot of the time together. She watches as he helps Brendon to learn the drums and she laughs at his drum face, something which he didn't even know he had. And she admits that he's a very encouraging person too, almost blushing as she tells him.
"Ugh – I can't do it," Brendon sighs in frustration, wanting to throw the drumsticks on the floor.
Finn sits beside him, watching patiently, "no, you can. You don't think that I sucked at the beginning?"
The little boy's face falls, "you think I suck?"
"No, no, no," he says quickly, "there's just room for improvement." He shows him another beat to copy, "come on, if you get this right, maybe you'll be able to show your parents."
Brendon takes a few tries but eventually he's got the rhythm down and he beams proudly to his mentor, "I did it!"
"Yeah!" Finn throws enthusiastic punches into the air, "see, you're getting awesome already. It took me years."
"How modest," Rachel comments with a smirk and he just grins in return. Turns out, being friends with Rachel is better than he expected.
"Finny!" he waves as he hears his excited ten year old sister call his name, bouncing up and down so that he can see them.
Picking up his bags, he hurries over to join his family and smiles at the familiarity that it brings to see them again. "Hey mom, Burt," he ruffles his sister's light brown hair, "Elise." She wraps her arms around him tightly, "yeah, I missed you too." She does this thing where one minute she's hyperactive and excitable and then the next she won't speak a word. She has a mild form of autism, not that he notices that much because he grew up with it, but she doesn't really make friends at school and has trouble with people that she doesn't know. It's actually one of the reasons why he started volunteering at the children's hospital.
His mom envelopes him in a tight hug herself, "happy thanksgiving baby." She kisses him on the cheek, "I've missed my little boy. You don't visit enough!"
"Little boy?" he asks, "I'm twenty five."
"You'll always be my little boy," she nods, taking hold of Elise's hand, "come on, let's get back."
"Is it fun in New York?" Elise asks quietly by his side.
Finn grins, "it's great. You'll get to come at Christmas so we can do lots of fun things, right squirt?" She huffs at being called 'squirt' and leans into her mother's side. He walks faster to join Burt, "is Kurt here yet?"
The older man nods grimly, "he got here yesterday – showed up with some curly haired punk and announced him as his boyfriend. A little warning would have been nice."
"Kurt's dating?" he's genuinely shocked, seeing as not over a few weeks ago he got a phone call from his brother about how all the men he liked being scum. Still, Burt's sour look gives the game away, "man, I thought that he would have told me."
"Me too," he agrees, laughing a little to himself, "you got anyone in New York?" Finn tries not to blush, but his body betrays him and he feels the pink creep along his skin until there's a nice coating all along his cheeks. Burt grins, "she pretty?"
Carole takes this moment to join in the conversation, "is who pretty?"
His mother's eyes light up with excitement and she claps her hands together. "Oh, Finn. Tell me everything."
He shakes his head, "there's nothing to talk about. I like her and all, but she's dating another guy. We're just friends." This seems to deflate his mother's mood and Elise pulls a face at the mention of dating, making him tickle her for a whole five minutes for calling him 'gross'.
The next five days spent at his parents pretty much went like this. His mother prodded for information. Burt tried to keep her excitement to a reasonable level and not to let her get carried away. Kurt was too preoccupied with Blaine, his new boyfriend, who Finn thought was actually pretty cool, not that he'd tell Burt. And he played his big brother role to Elise as usual, annoying her to no end.
He loves his family, yet Rachel seems to always be on his mind, even as the family go by their everyday life with him there. He can't help but wonder whether they'd like her and vice versa. But she'll probably never meet them so he should stop before he's ahead: it's foolish getting his hopes up.
"I'm sorry Finn," his mother says down the phone, "the snow is too deep and there are hardly any planes. We can't get down to New York to see you." Well, there goes his Christmas. "I'm sorry, baby."
"It's fine," he sighs, "I'll just – I dunno, find some friends to hang out with."
After apologising repeatedly, he manages to get her off the phone just in time to get an incoming call from Rachel. His heart skips a beat and he answers not a second later, "hey."
"Hello Finn," she says brightly, "I'm rallying up volunteers for the Soup Kitchen at the homeless centre near the hospital and I thought that maybe you'd be interested in helping out tonight and tomorrow?"
"Yeah, yeah, sure," he answers so quickly that he's not exactly sure what he's just agreed to.
"Great, so you'll be there by six?" she doesn't give him a chance to reply, "I'll wait outside for you."
By the time he does get his bearings in order, he needs to go and meet her. She looks cute in her leggings and small black dress and she beams when she sees him. They take a minute to hug each other, her head barely reaching his chin, before they go inside.
He takes a look around, feeling terrible for the people who're homeless at Christmas. Even as a kid when his family didn't have lot of money, they still scraped enough together to survive. These people have nothing but each other.
Every time Rachel scoops out some of the macaroni cheese from her pots, she adds a "merry Chrismas!" and a huge grin, causing him to laugh.
"So, you do this every year?" he asks.
She shakes her head, "the last three years. It's very important to give back to the community." She smiles, "and I like to think that I help with the turnout of volunteers."
Finn eyes the crowd, no one matching the description of Sam, much to his liking. "Your boyfriend not want to come?"he asks, almost smugly.
Rachel sighs, idly scooping the contents around, "he's skiing in Austria with his family."
"He didn't take you with him?"
She realises what he's trying to do and frowns, "stop it. We've only been dating for two months. He can't be expected to take me everywhere."
"I would," Finn mumbles to himself.
"Nothing," he says quickly, "I said –err, pie good." He points to the cheese pie beside him, "you should really have some."
She laughs, as if she knows that he's lying. "Thanks for the offer but I'll pass. This food isn't for me."
"Oh right," Finn nods, "you're really generous, you know?" She raises her eyebrow at him, wondering what he wants. "I'm just saying," he shrugs, "it's nice to see. Not many people would spend Christmas Eve in a homeless shelter without even getting anything to eat."
Thinking for a minute, she smiles, "by those standards, you're generous too."
He chuckles, "I guess so, though to be honest your persuasion got to me."
"What persuasion?" her smirk is too cute, "you practically jumped at the chance to spend some time with me."
"Come on, you were begging Rach," he laughs when she scrunches up her face in disagreement.
That very night, he offers to walk her home, not feeling right to let her go by herself. As she links arms with him and he leads her, they talk about the kids at the hospital.
"You can't have favorites, Finn!" she laughs, "it's like how teachers can't have favorites."
"I don't," he argues, "but Brendon is just so cute and he says that he wants to be like me. It's his fault for praising me and stuff." Rachel giggles into his arm, though stops dead in her tracks when she notices the soggy cardboard box not a few feet away from them, barking sounds emitting from inside.
"Is that a dog?" her brows crease together, voice panicked.
They rush over, Rachel faster than him, and indeed find the tiniest little puppy jumping up inside its damp prison. She coos over it, grinning when it licks her fingers. When it tries to leap up to them, Finn notices its difficulty in moving, "is its leg okay?"
Rachel gasps dramatically, "what if it's broken? Oh, Finn," she clings onto his arm, "we have to save this little guy!" Reaching in, she carefully picks up the little golden furred creature and holding it in her arms gently. He licks her face excitedly, "hey there," she smiles, "let's get you to the vet."
"Err…Rach," he interrupts when she starts making baby noises, "it's a dog, not a baby."
"But he's so cute!" she beams. The little dog pips in response and she scratches his ear affectionately.
By the time they find a vet that's open, Rachel is panicking about the puppy's leg and convinces that he's showing signs of discomfort. They sit in the waiting room with him wrapped in the bundle that was once Finn's coat, sleeping soundly now that the excitement had gone out of the way. "I can't believe that somebody just left him there," she shakes her head, "it's completely immoral. What kind of heartless person did this?"
He has his arm around her, rubbing her shoulder soothingly to calm her down. "It gave us a chance to find him and I guess the little guy's lucky because of that. Some people kill puppies that they don't want and stuff."
Sadly, she looks down to him, softly stroking his fur as he sleeps. "I guess that he is lucky."
They get called in eventually and Rachel gently places down the puppy, her eyes swimming with worry. "We found him on the street," she exclaims, "and I –well, Finn noticed, but there's something wrong with his leg. He can't walk properly."
After some prodding and testing, causing Rachel to squirm and wince on the dog's behalf, he's fitted with a cast on his leg and given shots. Rachel goes to take care of the bill while Finn promised her that he wouldn't let the puppy out of his sight, which is strange as he had been put under for the leg cast and now is sleepily staring around the room.
The vet comes back in with some medicine, "you and your wife did the right thing bringing him here. He probably wouldn't have survived through the cold."
"Oh – she's not my…" he trails off, face red, as Rachel walks back in and is instantly by their side.
"Is he okay? Have you been looking after him?"
Finn catches the smirk of the vet, "he's fine, Rach. The vet said that we saved his life." At this, she beams proudly and looks down to their puppy.
They get him in a pet carrier and slowly start their journey back, the bitter winds blowing about constantly.
"Oh shoot!" she says, turning to him with panic, "we're not allowed pets in my apartment block."
He knows exactly what she's going to say next.
Rachel hits him with her best sad face, "Finn."
And that's how he ends up with a puppy who loves to chew all his shoes beyond recognition and pees in every room of the apartment just the piss him off.
The kids at the hospital love looking at picture of the puppy, respectively named Lucky by Rachel, and they love showing them to the kids just as much. Rachel has her phone full of them while he has a few, too.
They seem to have been dubbed as superheroes or something for saving the "poor, defenceless puppy from the evils of the world" as Rachel likes to say.
"Can I see your puppy?" Hannah asks, "I'm not allowed to have pets."
"We can't bring him into the hospital," he tells her sadly, "I'm sorry. He'd really like to meet you too, but it's against the rules.
She sighs, yet it's easily forgotten when she begins to play with some of the dolls in the room. Finn stands, slowly grabbing some cards and heading into Brendon's room. The boy is too weak to get out of bed today, so he thinks he might stay in here to entertain him.
When he spies Finn, he sits upright in bed, "hey! Eliza said that you got a dog."
Finn nods, producing his phone and showing the picture of him snuggling by the fire, his cast leg stretched out. "What's wrong with his leg?" the boy frowns.
"It's broken, but me and Rachel took him to the vets and now he's fine," he assures the boy, "I brought some cards. You up for a game or two?"
"Yup," he replies with a smile, "I don't like having to sit in here all day."
The older man peers down at him, trying to hide his sadness, "it's so that you get better quicker."
"That's if my parents can afford the operation," his response is glum.
"Brendon, everything is going to be fine. Now stop worrying," he gives an encouraging smile, "and you have to listen to me because I'm an adult."
Though he rolls his eyes, Brendon still laughs. "Thanks Finn."
He watches with pure amusement as a very drunk Rachel Berry dances around the stage while attempting to sing the Grease Medley. She has a killer voice, but the alcohol causes her to slur and forget most of the lyrics.
When she finishes, she bows to the crowd, her head getting lower and lower and she rocks back and forth. Thinking that she's about topple over, he runs onto the stage and wrap his arms around her, "hey, you doing okay?"
"I'm fine," she beams, her head hanging to one side. The stench of alcohol on her breath is overwhelming and Finn's had a little bit to drink himself. He leads her back to the table with the other guys from the hospital, making sure that she sits down first so that she doesn't fall from the booth.
Puck smirks, "looks like someone's a lightweight."
"Yeah, something tells me that she doesn't do this a lot," Finn chuckles along with him, surprised when she leans against his shoulder.
"Finny, everything's spinning."
He sighs, looking to the little brunette whose face is scrunched up in confusion. "I think it's time that we get you home, Rach."
She shakes her head firmly, trying to pour herself some more drink and spilling it all over the table. Finn quickly takes it from her, "come on, you've had enough."
Like a petulant child, she refuses to move, "I wanna stay. I wanna have fun!"
A little more forcefully than intended, he pulls her from her seat and she flies into his chest. Rather than move away, she hugs him tightly, "hmm, comfy."
Puck and Quinn snigger at them from the table. "Have fun," Quinn winks at him when he starts leading a stumbling Rachel away.
"Bye guys!" she shouts, "I love you all." Rachel even adds some waves and begins to blow kisses to the people around her. It only becomes worse when they get outside and the air makes her even clumsier. He has her sit down against a wall while she mumbles words to herself and he tries to get a taxi.
Finally one stops and he helps her up, "let's go home."
"I don't wanna," she says, her body limp.
He struggles to convince her, "come on, it's like a game Rach. The first one into the taxi wins." She scrambles to get up, tripping over her own feet and he gets her into the taxi, following after.
"I win!" she applauds herself as he fastens the seatbelt for her. With their faces as close as they are, he notices her staring at him with glazed over eyes, "you're pretty."
"Pretty?" he looks at her, wide eyes.
She nods, "no wonder I wanted to date you." Leaning back, she stretches out her arms and legs, and accidentally bangs her head against the window. "Ow," she grumbles, rubbing it. Finn laughs to himself when she glares at the glass as though it was to blame. After a few minutes, she realizes that they're not going to her apartment, "where are we going Finny?" she sighs, leaning into his chest and tracing patterns against his shirt.
"I'm taking you back to my place," he explains, "I don't trust you to be by yourself like this."
"I am perfectly capable of," she stops, burping quietly, "looking after myself."
With a small pout, she nuzzles her face into his chest, "hmm, you smell nice. You smell like rainbows and happiness."
"Ooh!" she gasps as an ambulance goes past, attempting to imitate the noises. Finn breathes a sigh of relief when they arrive at his apartment.
Holding up Rachel with one arm, he pays the driver, "thanks, man."
"Good luck," the driver replies, eyeing Rachel who is struggling against him, "have a good night."
He can hardly get her up the stairs and so has to carry her bridal style after she complained that being thrown over his shoulder made her feel sick. He did not need to be thrown up on thank you very much. Opening the door, he hears the barking of his two month up pup.
Rachel giggles, "Lucky, mommy and daddy are back!" After the exclamation, she tries moving in the direction of where she thinks the couch is, but falls to the floor, "Finny, I think someone took your couch."
"No, no," he hoists her up, leading her to it, "it's right here." Once she's sat down, he gives her a weary look, "since when were we the puppy's parents?"
Her unfocused eyes never look at him, instead scan for Lucky. "Since forever. It's our job to look after our baby boy."
"Rach," he smiles, "he's a dog."
She gasps, "But he's ours. And I love him. And you love him." As she speaks, he hobbles around the corner and scratches at the arm of the couch, adding to the previous ones. Finn sighs, lifting him up and passing him to his "mother". "There's my baby!" she grins, kissing his forehead, "did you miss me?"
With a loud sigh, Finn looks at the time and is shocked to see that it's two in the morning. He gets a glass of water for Rachel and returns to the living room to find her passed out on his couch. After rolling his eyes, he places it down and removes her ridiculously high heels before finding a blanket for her. It's not going to be her most comfortable night's sleep, but it'll have to do.
"Lucky, come on," he whispers to the puppy, leading him to his own bed in the kitchen. Convinced that he has enough food and water, he closes the door and goes to sleep himself, knowing that Rachel is going to be pissed in the morning.
By the time the sun is high in the sky once more, she's still out of it. He showers, get dressed and has breakfast while she snores loudly on his couch. Sitting down for a little TV, he notices her smeared makeup and messy hair, finding it slightly amusing to see her like this, especially when she normally take so much pride in her appearance.
At noon, she finally wakes, blinking at the bright sunlight hitting her in the face, "ugh –what is this?" She tries to block it out with her hand, "wait, where am I?"
"Ahh, little miss sleepy is up," he smirks, sipping at his water.
Bolting upright, she stares at him. "Finn? Oh, did I get drunk?" She asks like it's obvious, forehead creasing. All he has to do is nod and she sighs, throwing the blanket over her head to get rid of the sun. Finn laughs to him, shaking his head at his friend. "I feel like I'm dying."
Finn ignores her similar complains for the next hour before she progresses onto the stage of puking. Unfortunately for him, he ends up holding her hair back and wincing every time it happens. "Fun," he mutters to himself.
She scoffs, "you're not the one puking your guts out."
"I'm not the one who got wasted last night," he retorts. She doesn't get to reply because there's still more to throw up, apparently. Her phone rings in the background.
"Oh, get that for me, will you Finn?"
He rushes into the living room to find her handbag, cursing at the amount of crap in there, until he finds the tiny pink phone. Looking at the caller ID, he groans. Sam. "It's your boyfriend!" he shouts to her, almost taunting.
Rachel hurries out of the bathroom and meets him there, snatching the phone away. "Hello," she says breathlessly, "no, I'm fine. I stayed at Finn's last night – no, I slept on the couch – I was drunk."
"Drunk is an understatement," he tells her from the side and she glares back.
"Yeah, I'll come and meet you. Just, give me, like, an hour because I look hideous."
Finn disagrees with that. Sure, she's had better days, but he doesn't think that there's a time in which he's seen her where she doesn't look stunning and put all the other girls to shame. He keeps this opinion to himself of course, waiting until she's off the phone.
She almost looks a bit disappointed, "I'll have to go soon. D-do you mind if I use your shower?"
Gulping so loudly that she can probably hear, he shakes his head. "Of course not. Go ahead."
Rachel beams, pulling him into a tight hug. "Thank you, and thanks for looking after me last night. Apparently I'm not fun to be with when I'm drunk because I act like a child, or that's what my friend told me anyway."
"Nah," he grins, "you were funny to watch. You started referring to yourself as Lucky's mom."
"I am his mom," she argues before heading into the bathroom. Finn laughs the entire time.
"Come on," he says to Elise, "I know this great Deli where they do the best turkey sandwiches ever!" The girl giggles and skips after her older brother.
The family are finally in New York, a month after originally planned because of the awful snow, but he's happy to have them there. And Elise pretty much fell in love with lucky the first time she saw him. Now, they're walking to tiny dog around the city, now that his leg has finally healed up, and spending some "sibling time" together.
She curls into his side, "mommy said that we could watch a Broadway play."
"Did she?" he forces out a smile. His brother Kurt had forced him to go to one once and he fell asleep twenty minutes in. Needless to say, he wasn't invited again.
"Uh huh," Elise beams, "and I'm so excited!"
Before they can get into the Deli, he hears a familiar voice call out, "Lucky!" The dog barks in recognition and Finn turns to see Rachel, not at all missing the blonde who she is currently holding hands with. Elise practically dives into his side, peering at them with caution but Rachel is bending down to stroke her dog anyway.
The blonde sends a glare at Finn, something which he happily returns.
"He's looking better," she stands up, grinning over at her friend, "did you give him his medication?"
"Yes," he sighs. He's been doing it for weeks now. It's not like he's going to forget.
Rachel notices the little girl hidden behind Finn and smiles warmly at her, "hey, I'm Rachel."
When she doesn't talk, like he expects, her wraps his arm around her, "this is my little sister Elise. She's in town for a few days." He looks down at her, nodding to show that she can trust Rachel, "you gonna say hi?"
"Hi," she mumbles, looking to the floor.
Finn, however, returns to looking the blonde up and down. It's clearly Sam yet he isn't at all what he imagined him to be like. His blonde hair is long and messy, but almost looks styled to appear like that. He has a pretty big mouth in proportion to his face yet Finn can still understand what she sees in him.
She notices their staring and awkwardly shifts a little towards Sam, "Sam, honey, this is my friend Finn."
"It's nice to meet you," he says, his voice sickly sweet and he holds out a hand to the boy. Sam reluctantly takes it.
"Likewise," he replies with a sour expression, "Rachel, we need to go. My parents are waiting for us."
With an apologetic smile, they say their goodbyes and leave. He notices her look over her shoulder as they walk down the High street.
Elise tugs on his shirt, "is that the girl that mommy says you like?"
There's no point in lying, "yeah. It is."
"She's pretty, but her boyfriend isn't very nice."
He laughing, peering down at her, "Elise, did I ever tell you that you're my favorite sister?"
"I'm your only sister," she rolls her eyes.
He's surprised to see her on his doorstep, a tub of ice cream in her hand and wearing a hopeful smile, "hi Finn."
"Can I come in?" she asks, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot.
"Yeah, sure," he opens the door further, taking her coat from her. When she passes her bag over, he's shocked by the sheer weight of such an object. "Jesus, Rach, are you carrying rocks around?"
She rolls her eyes, "I bought some dog stuff for lucky." She reaches inside and presents them to him, "and a few chew toys as well. Maybe he'll stop eating your shoes." After that, she wanders into the kitchen and he hears her practically sing, "mommy has treats for you, Lucky."
Meanwhile, Finn is attempting to figure out why she's shown up out of the blue. Is she okay? "Rach…"
Walking into the kitchen, he sees her trying to keep control of her tears. "Hey, what's wrong?" he envelopes her in his arms, feeling her head drop against him.
"It's nothing – I, well… Sam and I had a fight."
"About what?" he ignores the urge to be happy about that and focuses on his upset friend.
She shakes her head, more tears springing to her beautiful, brown eyes. "It was stupid. He wanted me to visit his parent's house in Europe and then he was talking about moving in together and I-I freaked out." Her shaky hands hold onto his, "things are going way too fast. And when I told him, he got really angry and says that I think the relationship is a joke." Finn passes her a box of tissues. "Thank you," she sniffs, "so we argued for about an hour and I needed to get away so after some shopping, I came here. I hope that you're…okay with that."
He squeezes her hand, "of course." He tries to smile, "what kind of friend would I be if I said no?"
Surprising him, she holds him tight against her and places a chaste kiss to his cheek, "thank you Finn, you're my best friend." She suddenly smiles brightly, "I brought ice cream. Can we just snuggle up on the couch and watch sad films with our baby?"
Normally, that does not sound like fun, but her puppy dog eyes are too much and he agrees anyway. Besides, snuggling with Rachel is awesome.
He helps Brendon to paint, glad that he can finally come back in the playroom, despite it being by wheelchair. Rachel comes to sit beside them, her smile bright, "you boys having fun?"
They both nod, concentrating deeply on the picture. "Ooh, I like that. Is that your family?"
"Yeah," he says proudly, "that's my mommy and daddy, and my two little sisters and my brother."
"Wow," she tells him, "I'm sure that they'll love it."
Brendon looks up shyly at her, "can we not put it up on the wall?" He points to the wall on the far side of the room, the one covered from floor to ceiling in hand drawn pictures by the kids.
She nods, "sure! Come on, let's put it to dry and then we can put it up later."
Finn wheels him over to the TV area and joins Rachel for a coffee in the staff area. He looks to the pot that is full of money, "I hope that they get enough money. That's the thing that sucks about working here. Some of these kids…they're not going to make it."
With a large pout, she rubs his arm softly, "but we're doing a good thing Finn. We help these kids all the time and we love them and play with them. There's nothing more that we can do."
After a few moments of silence, he sighs, "what made you start working here?"
Rachel shrugs, "I just…wanted to give something back. I grew up all my life with everything I needed. My daddies spoiled me and it wasn't until I moved here that I realized how some people don't get what they need in life, how they struggle. I just…I couldn't imagine having to live like that. My parents have always been able to afford everything."
"Including a fancy apartment in The Village?" he teases. He's only been to her place a few times, but it's beyond anything that he could ever imagine. It's just as big as his house was in Lima and there's only Rachel living there. Not to mention the pristine fittings and small balcony.
"Hey!" she eyes him, "I pay some money towards the rent. It's just…they want me to be as comfortable as possible."
He grins, "yup, sure."
"Shut up," she mumbles before her eyes fall on him, "what about you? Why do you give up two days a week for this?"
Finn thinks, "my sister mostly. She's autistic and I've seen how hard it is and stuff when people don't understand. They treat her differently when she's just a kid. It sucks." He idly stirs the coffee in his mug.
Her voice breaks the silence, "I thought that she was adorable."
"Yeah?" his lopsided smile appears.
Rachel nods, "she looks like you. It's cute. Is she the only reason?"
"I knew a guy in High School who was in a wheelchair. Needless to say, that's persuaded me a little and the rest, I'm guess I'm just a generous guy."
She smiles, "I'm not going to argue with that."
They share look, both contently sitting next to each other, their legs touching. He can feel the heat from her body as she leans into him, her perfume overwhelming.
"Rachel," he whispers and her head snaps in his direction. Their faces are so close, she can see the small, sparse freckling on his nose and he stares at her plump lips.
She doesn't speak, but moves nearer, her eyes trained on him the entire time. She looks confused yet doesn't stop, not that he wants her to. He wants this as badly as anything. Her hot breath on his skin sends shivers up his spine. He kind of loves that.
Just before their lips touch, the door opens and she practically flies backwards.
Puck smirks at them, "well, what do we have here?"
"N-nothing," he stutters, "I had something on my face."
"And Rachel was going to kiss it off?" he raises an eyebrow, the two of them going bright red.
She stands up, "I – my break's over."
Finn groans. So close and yet so far.
Finn has the pleasure of meeting Sam a few more times though he's angry when Rachel brings him to hospital one day. It feels like a predator on his territory. However, the next week, it's looking pretty Sam-less and he likes it that way.
To his surprise, Rachel wants to spend more time he him. He assumed that, after the almost kiss, she would be a little bit more reluctant but she came bounding into the apartment the day after as if nothing even happened.
With Sam out of town, she invites him over to her place for dinner. It all goes well, unless he distracts her and the pan sets on fire, giving Rachel a pretty nasty burn and ruining their dinner.
"Let me take a look at your hand," he orders for the hundredth time, "I'm a fireman. I deal with this stuff all the time."
Ever so slowly, she hands it over and he unwraps the kitchen towel from around it to see the red, angry skin. "You need to run it under cold water, like, now." He ignores her complains and gets her to do so, holding her hand as she winces the entire time. "Look, do you have any bandages and first aid stuff."
She keeps her hand beneath the freezing water, "in that cupboard." He looks to where she's pointing and quickly finds the pink princess box. After she's had her hand under the water for ten minutes, he sits her down and rubs some antiseptic on the skin.
"It hurts," she whines, trying not to cry.
Finn keeps going regardless, "you'll be fine. I've seen much worse than this." He catches her staring as his large fingers work with a newfound grace when he tends to her burn. Once it's wrapped in a bandage, he smiles, "there you go. That should be fine for now."
"Thanks," she mumbles, "sorry about dinner."
"It's okay," he says, "I'll pay for us to order in if you like." Stretching his arms and then leaning back, he turns to her, "where's Sam then?"
Rachel rolls her eyes, "in Europe, again."
"Didn't he invite you to go?"
Shrugging, she looks down at her bandaged hand, "I didn't want to. We had a big fight before he left too, so I'm sort of angry at him."
He pauses, "wow, what a great sounding relationship you've got there."
She shoves him, "I care about him. It's just…sometimes I wonder how much. My dads and his parents are thrilled that we're together and I'm pretty sure that they're already planning our wedding, but I don't feel that strongly about it. Is that bad?"
His raises his eyebrow in reply.
Rachel huffs and he rolls his eyes, "look, if you don't like him that way, then dump him. No use in leading the poor boy on."
"Poor boy?" she frowns, "you're just saying that so that you have a chance with me."
Finn shrugs, "so what if I am? All's fair in love and war."
"Love," she breathes.
His eyes go wide. Did he just inexplicably tell her that he loves her? Oh no. He didn't even realize that.
"W-well, when I say l-love, I mean dating and stuff. Not love, 'cause that would be silly."
Though she smiles nervously, her eyes say something different. "Yeah, completely…stupid. Love. We just had a date right, well we were going to have one, b-but we didn't. Love has nothing to do with that." She bites her lip, her voice high and shrill, "should I go and order some food then?"
He gets a call from her at three in the morning, instantly recognizing her loud sobs on the other end. "Rachel, what's wrong? Are you okay?" Nothing, "Rach, baby, please say something."
It takes ten minutes to calm her down and she finally breaks the news to him, "he died, oh God."
"Who did? Rach, talk to me."
"Brendon," she whispers, "his heart… i-it just stopped and – Finn, I need you. Please."
He can't speak. Brendon is dead.
Finn manages to get to the bathroom before he throws up, unable to cope with the news. He can't be dead. He's eight years old. That and – he… they almost had enough money for the operation. They could have saved him…
He gets over to Rachel's apartment ten minutes later and she embraces him tightly at the doorway, her face stained with tears. They cry together and hold each other, mourning the loss, knowing that they're both in pain.
They cry again at the funeral. Sam had arrived with Rachel but had to leave half way through because of work. Finn swears that she doesn't even notice is absence.
Taking her hand in his, he squeezes it tightly as his parents talk and she leans her head against him, letting the tears fall silently.
They walk up to the casket hand in hand, neither having to speak. She drops down some flowers around it and suddenly grabs him, crying into his chest whilst he stares at the small body. The casket is five feet long. He's never seen one so small.
Someone clears their throat behind them and the two turn around to see his parents. There are a boy and girl by their side, and a toddler in the mother's arms. It's almost too much seeing the family from his picture weeks ago missing him.
"I'm so sorry for your loss," Rachel manages to choke out, wiping at her eyes. "Brendon was…he was such an amazing boy."
"Thank you," his father nods towards her, putting on a brave face for the rest of his family, "we appreciate that." He pulls his youngest child closer, the tot sleeping in ignorance to what the day symbolizes, "he spoke about you two a lot."
Finn's ears prick up and his heart clenches, "he did?"
The mother nods, "we're happy that his last few weeks were spent with people who cared about him so much." Her lower lip trembles, "he…he –"
Placing a hand on her shoulder, her husband takes over, "he drew a picture a few days before. He told the nurse that it was for you two. He just – he didn't have time to give it to you." Shakily, he takes the paper from his wife and passes it over to Finn, who no longer tries to keep the tears back.
It's a simple picture, really. He's drawn Finn and Rachel, holding hands and her leaning into him, and Finn is holding Lucky in his other arm. Over the top, he's written 'Finn and Rachel and their baby'. In the hospital, it had become common that the puppy was referred to as the 'baby' when Rachel refused to call him anything else.
In smaller words, each letter a different colour, it says, "to my favorite carers, thank you. I love you."
When he shows Rachel, she returns to sobbing into his chest.
"Thank you," Finn says to his parents.
"No," his mother tries to smile, "thank you. Both of you. You're such a wonderful couple for helping out. We're so grateful."
He nods. Both of them ignore the misunderstanding that they're a couple because they're too upset to care. After the funeral, he takes Rachel to his apartment where they curl up on the couch together.
As he's making dinner, she wanders in with the picture, Lucky at her feet and she pins it up to his fridge with a magnet, "there." She smiles sadly toward him, "so that we can remember him." It's not like they're going to forget, but now he can see it all the time.
Staring at it, she reaches out her hand and pulls him closer in the embrace. Finn kisses her forehead softly, "come on, let's make dinner."
He lets his mom hug his close after telling her about Brendon. Her comforting hug makes him feel better, but not by much.
It sucks that he's acting this way on his birthday but it's been a month since it happened and the pain isn't really going away. He can't even imagine what the boy's parents are feeling like.
Sitting between his family, he offers small smiles. Blaine is back, much to Burt's chagrin. Maybe he's a little upset that his son is growing up and getting in a serious relationship. He'd rather have that than his pushy mother.
"Elise told me that she met your girl."
"Mom," he sighs, "she's not my girl. She's a girl who I happen to know and get along with." Still, her smirk remains and she nudges him suggestively.
As his mom and Kurt are cleaning the table,Elise is playing a game with Blaine, and Burt play fighting with the dog, he hears the doorbell ring and knows that it can only be one person. As he opens it up, he sees her standing at the door nervously with a box in her hands, a perfectly tied bow on top.
She gives a tiny smile, "happy Birthday, Finn."
"Oh cool, thanks," he takes the box, eagerly looking inside. He wonders what she could have gotten him, though he knows that any present from her will be perfect. Though what he doesn't expect is, "The box is empty Rach." She doesn't reply, only leap forward and attach her lips onto his with little hesitation. He drops the box in the chaos, his arms sliding around her to keep her up steady. All thoughts turn to mush in his mind as he kisses the perfect girl, his body filled with excitement from the touch of her lips.
After too little time, she pulls back and bites her lip. "Happy Birthday," she repeats.
"But you…that was your gift?" he's clearly confused now that he can think, "what about Sam?"
"I broke up with him," she looks into his eyes, caressing his face, "Finn, I'm never going to love him the way that I love you."
"Love?" he gulps.
She nods shyly, "yes."
"I love you too," and then his lips are on her again, sucking and nibbling frantically. He's been dreaming of this for months. Their foreheads join together, as do their hands and Finn had never felt more alive from such little contact.
Behind him, somebody clears their throat. Startled, he turns to see his whole family staring at them. He catches his mother's happy grin while Burt just winks at him and Kurt is covering Elise's eyes with his hand. Blaine, with a large smile, give him the thumbs up.
He blushes a little, but brings her into the apartment, "guys, this is Rachel. And Rachel, meet my very nosy family."
She gives a small wave, "it's nice to meet you all."
After convincing her that staying wouldn't be intruding on their family time together, she talks with his whole family. Even Elise warms up to her in time and the two watch Tangled together as his family bombards Finn with questions about his new girlfriend. He likes that. His girlfriend.
Later than night, as they lay in bed, he looks over to her, "what happened to not giving second chances?"
Rachel sighs, "I never thought that I'd fall in love with you. And you earned it anyway. You were my best friend before my boyfriend. You put up with me crying and being typical old me."
"We're still best friends though, right?"
"Yeah," she grins, leaning on his chest, "of course we are."
After a few minutes of silence, he says, "thanks for the gift by the way, and the one after that. That was my favorite." He smirks, wiggling his eyebrows at her suggestively. Rachel only giggles and keeps him quiet with a kiss.
He loves being able to kiss her whenever he wants. The girls think that it's cute, but he's being avoided by some of the younger boys who think that he's caught cooties from Rachel.
He also loves being in love with his special girlfriend. She's perfect, even if a bit pushy sometimes. When she found out that he could sing, she practically forced him into doing a duet with her during the music session. They kicked ass, of course, but he didn't really have a choice.
He asks her to move in with her when they've been dating for exactly four months. He doesn't like her living in that big apartment all by herself. Of course, she agrees and they take everything over to her place, or all the stuff that he's allowed to. She's very particular about what they have.
Something which he manages to slip by her is the newest member of their family, a small girl puppy whom he names Oreo because he was really hungry when he got her. He places a large bow around her neck and puts her on the couch beside Lucky, who spends the whole time sniffing her dainty little butt.
Rachel squeals when she sees her, peppering his face with kisses before doing the same with the dog, "oh, you're so cute, and pretty." She smiles, "thank you Finn. Now we have two babies."
He laughs, wrapping his arm around her, "yup, they definitely have their mother's eyes." Giggling into his chest, she smiles.
"We'll have to make some more," he smirks.
She nudges him, "hey, not until we're married."
"Fine," he grumbles in a teasing voice, "I guess I'll have to marry you then."
"How chivalrous of you to suffer so much," she narrows her eyes, beginning to walk away from him. He doesn't know what that means, but he wants her back in his arms again.
He hurries after her, "Rach, baby. I love you really."
"Prove it to me," she raises her eyebrow, pointing to the bedroom, "and don't leave anything out."
The first time he meets her dads is terrifying because he's not like Sam, he hasn't got a big business type job and he can't afford to go to Europe whenever he wants.
Rachel spends at least an hour gushing about him and this seems to soften them. Her smaller dad is nice but the black one keeps glaring at him and there's nothing that he can do about it.
"And Finn's a fireman," she smiles, "he's saved hundreds of people's lives."
"I wouldn't say hundreds," he tells her modestly.
"Oh, don't be shy Finn. I think that you're doing a wonderful job for the community," she grins, "you're my hero." She kisses him softly because making out at the dinner table isn't socially acceptable or something.
And that's all her dads needed to see before they were not so jokingly asking when the wedding was going to be. He hears that a lot – wedding. People seemed to forget that he hasn't even asked her yet. He has no idea what to do, when the right time is. He knows that Rachel loves him and stuff, but what if she thinks it's too soon.
The money that they'd saved for Brendon ends up helping out a little girl who has a similar condition. Rachel smiles at the news that the operation saves her life. "At least somebody survived," she tells him with a hint of sadness.
So now, they start a new jar, in hope that it'll help somebody out there. He and Rachel start is off with two hundred dollars. He really likes this idea.
She finds the earrings, the ones from over a year ago. When he gets home and finds her on the couch with the tiny box in her hands, he panics and thinks that it'll bring back bad memories, but she turns to him with tears in her eyes.
"Did you really get these for me?"
"Yeah," he sits beside her, looking at the diamond encrusted design, "my brother helped to pick them out. I wanted to impress you."
Rachel pulls him in for a deep kiss and he can taste the saltiness of her tears, "thank you."
She demands that they go out that night so that she can wear them and he's hardly one to say no.
He proposes to her on Christmas Eve, after taking her to Lima to see his family. He's barely spoken before she's in tears.
When she slips on the ring, he feels proud and pulls her in for a tight hug.
"She sure is a crier," Kurt points out when he talks to him afterwards.
Finn smiles like the lovestruck fool he is, "yeah, she's awesome, isn't she?"
No one can ever convince him otherwise.
On the anniversary of Brendon's death, they turn off the phone, lock the door and stay curled up together all day. They talk about him a little, though mostly avoid the subject and remain silent. Not that he minds. He could spend the rest of his life like this, as long as he's with her.
The dogs join them too, in their usual spots on the couch.
Finn's second favorite day is his wedding. The music, the food, Rachel. It was perfect and he'd go through the nerves over and over just to see her walking down the aisle again.
His favorite day, however, goes a little like this.
He walks into the hospital a little later than her, having had a later shift at the station and needing his sleep. There's a murmur of excitement from the children when he enters the room and he sees Rachel beaming at him while swinging from side to side slowly.
"Babe, what's going on?"
"Look at the wall, Finn," Jessica grins, pointing to said object.
He does so, almost forgetting how to read when he sees the words "I'm pregnant" have been added among the pictures, all hand made by the kids. The last picture isn't hand made at all, but an actual picture. Stepping toward it slowly, he looks at the black and white sonogram, before turning around to Rachel.
She opens her mouth to speak but he cuts her off with a kiss and spins her around excitedly. The children and the few other adults cheer as he does so. "I'm going to be a dad!" he tells her, causing Rachel to giggle. "I can't wait."
They see Sam at the airport. They've just arrived from a week at Rachel's fathers' house in Columbus and he's carrying most of the bags while she pulls one measly one along. He can't complain though because she's six months pregnant and very hormonal.
He practically bumps into the guy and then hears an audible gasp from his wife a few seconds later.
"Rachel," Sam says out in surprise, looking down to her stomach, "it's been a while."
She nods, "yeah, how are you?"
"Good, I-I'm seeing someone." His eyes flicker to Finn, who is nervously watching the exchange, "I'm guessing that you two are together."
"Married," he says, not feeling as threatened as in their prior meetings, "and expecting as you can see."
"What is it?" he motions to her stomach.
Rachel rubs a hand over it gently, "a girl."
"That's nice…" Sam is thoughtful, "look, I know that we kind of lost contact, but it'd be nice if you came to my family's annual party next month… both of you." Finn is shocked when he looks to him.
"We'd love to," Rachel beams.
Her husband quickly agrees, "yeah, it'll be fun."
Sam lets out a visible sigh of relief. "Well, I've got to go pick up my girlfriend, but it was nice seeing you. And, don't be a stranger." He smiles, "congrats on the baby too."
Finn watches the man leave. It appears that any strange feeling they had towards each other are gone and hey, maybe they could be friends in the future. He doesn't have to worry about Rachel going off with another man because she always shows him how he's the only one for her, and she's always going to be his.
The baby comes too early, two and half months too early to be exact. They end up in the children's hospital with her, watching her through glass for the first few weeks of her life. It's so strange, being one of the patient's here. He sees his friends and they visit Rachel and the baby, but it's an odd sensation. He's used to being the one who helps. Not the helpless father.
Rachel cries and he cries, because she's so small and he feels like anything could hurt her. The doctors reassure them that everything is okay, but they just have to keep her there to monitor her growth.
Turns out, it's expensive.
And they have, like, money and stuff, but not that much. Their friends give them the donation jar, which has stocked up more cash beyond his belief, and Finn weeps some more, not that he's proud of it.
But he just wants his baby girl to be okay.
Rachel wants to call her Maria and he's pretty sure that the baby smiles when she hears the name so Maria it is.
He holds her hand every day, and sings to her. He hears Rachel praying in her room, praying that her baby will be healthy and happy. Sometimes, they pray together, and then hold each other until exhaustion takes over.
On the day when Maria is released, their family meet them at the apartment. She's passed around, in her pink little hat and onesie, but all the attention is tiring for the four pound eleven ounce baby and she sleeps for the majority of it.
That night, Finn takes a picture of Rachel with Maria in her arms, Oreo and Lucky curled up beside her, and he places it on the fridge, right next to Brendon's picture. He smiles as he looks at it and then feels a hand on his shoulder, turning to see his wife.
"I'm gonna put her to bed and then take a bath."
"Okay," he kisses her quickly, then kisses Maria's forehead.
She takes Maria into the hospital a few weeks later and shows all the other women. They coo over her and tell him how cute she is, but he already knows that. He made her and stuff.
"Is that your baby?" one of the girls asks him, pointing to her.
"Yup," he says proudly, "that's my baby girl."
"She looks like you."
Finn smiles, but has to disagree, "I think that she looks like her mommy. They're both beautiful."
He looks around at this room, the place that's been a constant fixture in his life for a few years now. It's strange to think that, without it, he'd never have met Rachel, the love of his life. He owes it all to this place and he supposes that he has a lot of paying back to do.
Rachel wraps her arms around him, kissing him cheek, "I'm just going to change her diaper. I'll be back in a few minutes. Love you."
"Love you too," he grins.
Yes, definitely a lot to be thankful for.
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