AN: Not much to say except a warning that there is a Finchel scene in this chapter. That's about it.

Time After Time

It's eight in the morning when Rachel wakes up. She's already been able to regain her normal sleeping habits, but for a week or so she would get up an hour earlier to search. And right now she's making up for lost sleep. Not to mention that in that time the brunette had failed miserably in her endeavors. At the end of it all she mildly scolded herself for not wanting to rely on luck.

Her fathers and Sam, despite waking after her, easily took notice of her behavior. She would hear her dads speak in hushed voices but become entirely silent whenever she entered the room. Sam on the other hand, or at least as far as Rachel could tell, had just grown more suspicious of her. She couldn't really blame him; she was keeping something from the blonde boy, kinda.

Feeling that her chances of finding the letter were hopeless, Rachel eventually gave up. She wasn't sure how to respond, not having the letter fully, and decided to wait for another. So far one hadn't come.

It hit her quite hard each day that she readily awaited for the mail to come. She'd shuffle through the envelopes keeping an eye out for Quinn's name. Her impatience reminded her of when she kept vigil for her NYADA letter, though this time Rachel was far more pent-up.

A response from a college could either mean a yes or a no. Well, not exactly. There was the possibly of being on a waiting list, or in Rachel's case, being a finalist. But the point was that with college there was only so much you could expect, with Quinn… Rachel had no idea what to expect.

And she also felt awful of how she treated the blonde on their final day together. Rachel was better able to absorb the events in the auditorium as time went on. It was all so sudden back then, and what was she supposed to do? Could she just accept that all of Quinn's bullying was an attempt to block out her true feelings? Or that they were a desperate cry for attention, even if negative?

No. She couldn't. Not that easily.

But now?

Now she wasn't quite sure. She knew she missed her, and that she wanted to reopen that line of communication that the two shared. The one that she had cherished so greatly.

And she supposed that if Quinn's feelings were genuine, that she could understand her actions. Rachel would be lying if she said she had never done something completely stupid or selfish in the name of love. She had never done anything to the degree that Quinn had, but she fair share of moments. Like that one time that she kissed Finn onstage at Nationals during junior year, although most people blamed Finn for that.

But Rachel had been at fault as well. She had thrown Nationals away without a second thought. She had a choice and she chose Finn, and she would choose him again. Not that her most recent decision was based Finn, Rachel reminded herself. Her decision to stay in Lima, though a forced decision, was made due to her failure at getting accepted into NYADA.

It was a temporary setback. And within a year or two she'd be right back on track. She was sure of it. But in the meantime she'd make the best of her time. Speaking of which, today was New Directions first official meeting of the year. Therefore it would also be her first official day as a show choir assistant director.

Their victory at Nationals the previous year had obtained them a good amount of publicity. And with publicity came sponsors, donors, and such. They were able to get the school enough money to be a bit frivolous; enough so that the school could officially hire her. The last word would come from Figgins, of course. But anyone knows that he'd do almost anything if it meant money for McKinley.

And there was also the rumor going around that Figgins thought Rachel would make a better show choir director than Schuester. Just a rumor with no legitimacy, but made the brunette laugh when she first heard it.

It was flattering, no doubt. But Rachel couldn't follow in her choir director's footsteps. She couldn't end up stuck in this town, married to her high school sweetheart, teaching others to reach out for their dreams even though she hadn't reached hers.

It was frightfully possible situation, but she was determined. And so was Finn. She just had to make sure that neither of them got too settled to their current lifestyle.

Being early morning, Rachel had plenty of time to prepare for the rest of the day. She started on her morning routine, which of late had been extended due to an abundance of free time. Sweat formed on her brow as she worked out on her elliptical. She put in extra effort, without exerting herself, to make up for miss days.

Once good and sore she went downstairs, dressed in yoga pants and a tank top with her hair in a ponytail, to be greeted with a delicious smell. Vegan pancakes, Rachel though. She entered the kitchen and sure enough there was Sam flipping pancake after pancake. He saw her, offered a smile and a 'good morning' as he flipped another pancake.

She grabbed a plate and some utensils and went over to the table, where Sam had about a dozen or so already made. "Eat up," he called. "Plenty more on the way." Tentatively, Rachel took two and then a third, and vigorously started eating. She would attribute her animalistic behavior to hunger and the wonderful aroma that filled the air.

But in truth she just loved Sam's cooking. He came from a household where his parents had to work double shifts leaving him to watch his two younger siblings, or course he'd end up being good cook. Add in the fact on most days Rachel would eat takeout with her dads, and well it was a surprise that Sam's ego hadn't been inflated.

The blonde boy finished up the last few and joined Rachel just as she taking two more onto her plate. She was just finishing up that last few bites of her previous one in a very unladylike manner. "Big day, huh?" he said, placing a pair of pancakes onto his own plate. Rachel stopped cutting into her current one and swallowed whatever was left in her mouth.

"Yes it is," she answered uncertainly.

"Make sure to tell me all about it." She nodded. But she still felt uneasy about what, she thought, seemed like a force conversation. He began digging in on his own food, so she didn't push the subject. They continued to eat silently. When they were finished there was still six left over for her dads. Though knowing how much Rachel loved them, they usually would only eat two each.

Rachel still had plenty of time before she was expected at McKinley and so she decided to stop by Burt's garage and pay Finn a surprise visit. She went back upstairs to throw on something more appropriate. The brunette settled on a pair of jeans and a red argyle sweater. She hadn't really touched her argyle in a while, but the strong wind she saw outside her window told her she'd appreciate the warmth it would provide.

As she went back downstairs she found that Sam had already left for his classes at the local community college. Rachel would have her own classes to attend, but she had none today. Being the meticulous person she is, Rachel had coordinated her work and school schedules to fit perfectly.

What she couldn't fit in was alone time with Finn. He'd been working five full shifts a week, but at times would take a few extra hours during the weekends. They'd be lucky to see each other once a week. And so she deemed the time perfect for a spontaneous trip to see him and drop him off some lunch.

A task that proved to be more unnerving than she'd like. But what good vegan girlfriend wouldn't feel a bit sick after visiting a deli store to order her boyfriend a sandwich? Even with her lack of a gag reflex, Rachel felt something traveling up her throat as awaited her boyfriend's food. She might have been imagining it, but decided not to risk it and kept her eyes trained on the floor the entire time.

She quickly escaped the place once she got her order. Rachel went back to her car and placed the sandwich in a paper bag that already contained a root beer and a pack of sour patch kids. She continued on to the garage, finding a parking spot about a block or two away. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if she just drove in.

Rachel grabbed the bag and exited her car. She considered texting Blaine to see if the cost was clear, but then remembered that he'd be in school right now. The diva reached the garage and peeked in. Her eyes moved left than right and… There! Hunched over, working on an engine, was Finn.

With quiet steps she approached him, the bag held firmly behind her. She poked him the ribs to get his attention. He turned to her and she whipped the bag in front of him. "Brought you lunch," she announced merrily. He smiled a bright lopsided smile that contrasted greatly with the dirt that was covering his face. Finn stood up, carefully avoiding the hood of the car.

"Aww, thanks Rach," he said as he took the bag from her. He leaned forward for a kiss, but was stopped by two hands on his chest.

"You have a little something on your…" Rachel started, her finger extended towards his face, moving around trying to find a spot that was dirtier than the rest. "Everything," she said at last. He backed up with a short chuckle, and then took a look inside the bag.

"Ooh, sour patch kids."

"And your favorite; double pastrami on rye, mustard no mayo, extra pickles with jalapenos."

"Thanks," he says again, a bit more enthusiastically than before. He grins down at the bag for a bit before addressing her again. "You're the best you know?" A faint blush crosses her features. "What would I do without you?"

"You would do just fine, Finn."

"Maybe," he muses. "Hey, I know we haven't really spent too much time together, but I'm off this Saturday." He can already see her eyes light up. "So why don't we go out somewhere?"

"I'd like that. Where to?"

"I'm not sure." He shrugs. "Anywhere you want." Rachel smiles warmly before saying that she needs to get to McKinley, and Finn has to finish up his work so he doesn't mind.

Rachel approaches the school, and groans when she sees how full the parking lot is. Then thought comes to mind. Since she is working there she should be able to use the faculty parking lot, right? Rachel doesn't know, and just to make sure she doesn't get in trouble her first day she chooses to just stick with the student one. She makes a note to address this issue with Mr. Schue or Figgins later.

She enters the halls of her high school. The students are filing out of their rooms, ready to escape. Rachel sees a number of familiar faces, from all the clubs she had join. They don't seem recognize her, or maybe they just don't notice her. It doesn't bother her. Most were never really nice to her. And they'll regret not being her friends when her name's up in lights.

Rachel makes her way to the choir room when she hears "Barbra" being called out. It could be aimed at anyone, although Rachel doesn't recall if a Barbra even attends McKinley. But the fact she knows the voice lets Rachel know that it's aimed at her. She turns on heel, and just as expected she comes face to face with a one Sue Sylvester, tracksuit and all.

"Well it is you. I must say I'm surprised to see you here again. Didn't you graduate?" her tone lacks the venom that Rachel's accustomed to. "Or maybe you decided to relive your glory days by disguising yourself as a freshman." Rachel huffs at the blatant joke about her height.

"Actually Coach Sylvester, I'll be assisting Mr. Schue in coaching New Directions," she says proudly. Sue doesn't look fazed. In fact it appear likes she's amused.

"Well that explains the waterworks I saw a few weeks back." No doubt she's referencing the incident in the auditorium. "But I suppose that if I still had tear ducts and I just found out I'd butt chin's assistant, I'd probably cry too." Sue has no idea what she's talking about, but Rachel's not about to correct her. She'd rather not think about that day. The cheer coach seems to have had her fun and leaves her alone.

Rachel resumes her previous path to the choir room. Inside the remaining members, Blaine, Artie, Tina, Rory, Sugar, Joe, and two sophomores (whose names evade Rachel) from the Troubletones are already seated. Mr. Schue is late, as expected. Rachel decides to start without him. She bursts through the door yelling as enthusiastically as she can, "Who's ready for another Nationals win?"

AN: So as I'm fairly (not completely) certain I've said before I'm not trying to make Finchel out to be completely terrible. At least not in this fic. So I'd like reviews on how I've handled them so far. Also the title of this chapter may seem a bit off, but I do have a reason… kinda.