A/N: Just a simple one shot based off a prompt (Nothing But a Number) from finchel-prompts over at tumblr. I changed the prompt around just a little bit, but hopefully that's okay! This is definitely AU, and it's a light M; language, underage drinking, some slight sexy times, etc., etc. Title of the story comes from "We Found Love". This was a lot of fun to write, so I hope you enjoy!

(PS: I have no idea what insurance companies do. If those parts sound totally ridiculous, please forgive me! Also, if Rachel or Finn seem a bit OOC... I was mainly just trying to highlight the difference in age between them. Thanks again for reading!)

-x-

It's not that Finn hates his job. His coworkers are all pretty nice, it's only a ten minute drive from his apartment, and since he got that promotion last month he even has his own office. So, it's not like he has to worry anymore about sharing cubicle space or whatever, which may not seem like a big thing but it definitely is. He's seen Puck and Sam's workspace and it's always messy and totally unorganized and Sam's always bitching at Puck about throwing away his Taco Bell wrappers – Finn used to be on the other side of the partition, but now he has a door that he can shut so he doesn't have to hear them arguing about who's nasty ass Chalupa has been sitting in the middle of the desks since last Friday.

Seriously gross. But, anyway, Finn doesn't have to worry about that kind of stuff anymore, which is cool. And honestly, even though it's not exactly a fun job, it's not difficult at all. He's been working here ever since he graduated college and realized he had no idea what the fuck he wanted to do with his life. His one professor, Dr. Berry, said his partner ran some insurance company and that they were always looking for new, motivated people. Finn's not exactly the definition of motivated, but he applied for the job anyway because Dr. Berry's nice and Finn wasn't sure what else he could do with a communications degree.

He's been working for Leroy for like, six years now. He's been promoted a couple times and he knows basically everything there is to know about business insurance – which, surprisingly, there's kind of a hell of a lot to know. But he tries his best because his mom always taught him to never doing anything half-assed and everyone in the office appreciates him and how hard he works, for sure. Leroy gives him a bonus every Christmas and Nancy, the secretary, always has Reese's in the candy bowl at the reception desk because she knows that they're Finn's favorites. It's pretty boss.

So Finn definitely doesn't hate his job. It's just that he doesn't really like it, either. It's boring. The most exciting thing that happened in the past year was when Sam collapsed during a meeting because he started choking on a pretzel, and even that wasn't really exciting per se. More like slightly terrifying, because Puck flipped out and started punching him in the stomach and then Janet had to try to do the Heimlich maneuver and it was just – yeah.

Finn figures that when the highlight of a work year is seeing your friend cough up a pretzel, something's gotta give. Right?

He sighs, glancing over at the clock. Two o'clock in the afternoon on a Friday means three more hours until he can go home and try to forget this week ever happened. Given the way that this day has gone, though, he's not expecting those three hours to fly by or anything. He had to fix an account that Bernadette fucked up and it wasn't really hard to do but it was a huge pain in the ass and made him miss his lunch break. By the time he got a minute to go to the break room to bring his lunch back to his desk to eat, his chicken salad sandwich had been long gone.

When he'd asked Sam about it, Sam had shrugged and said, "snooze you lose, man. You know I have a thing for chicken salad sandwiches."

Anyway. It's been a pretty shitty day.

And it's only going to get shittier because now Leroy is asking to see him in his office, and whenever his boss asks him to see him in his office on a Friday afternoon, it usually doesn't mean good things.

Finn knocks on the door hesitantly.

"Leroy? You wanted to see me?"

"Yes, come in!"

His voice sounds almost excited, which makes Finn even more nervous. Last week, Leroy got the idea in his head that Finn would like some extra work over the weekend in order to get a head start on the following week. It was basically one of the shittiest weekends of Finn's life but Leroy was so pumped that Finn did all the work that he started suggesting that maybe Finn should make a habit of taking some work home every weekend.

Leroy's one of those guys who doesn't leave his work at the office, and he expects all of his employees to follow the same credo. Which is totally ambitious of him, but Finn thinks that sooner or later Leroy's going to have to realize that no one else in the office gets a hard on for business insurance, and no one wants to be working on rough drafts for sales pitches over a weekend.

Finn opens the door, and tries to quickly think of a valid excuse for getting out of whatever work it is that Leroy's going to inevitably have him do.

His dog needs emergency surgery (sort of true – Carson's breath does stink, so this weekend would be as good as any to get his teeth cleaned). His mom needs help painting the living room (one hundred percent true – his mom's been asking him to do that for weeks). The Browns are playing, and Finn has to spend a couple days mentally preparing himself for the loss (sad but also true, because the Giants are stacked this year).

Finn pushes the door farther open and walks inside. He thinks he's going to go with the mom excuse. Leroy has met his mom before, and he's always liked her, so Finn figures that's the safest one to rely on.

His face falls the minute he sees the state of his boss's office, though. Leroy is sitting in his computer chair, typing away at something, and his daughter, Rebecca (or is it Renee?) is sitting in another chair at the opposite side of his desk. She just started working part-time as Leroy's assistant last week, which basically means that she gets her dad coffee and organizes papers. Finn's talked to her a couple of times – she's cute, but she's in college so she's kind of beyond off limits.

Besides the fact that she's, you know, Leroy's daughter.

Renee's usually good at paperwork but she must've fallen way, way behind because there's a shitload of paper sitting on Leroy's desk; it's all spread out and if Finn didn't know better, he'd think that the entire desk was actually made out of spreadsheets.

"Lot of work?" he asks nervously. Renee (Rebecca?) looks miserably at him, and nods. Finn shoots her a tight grin.

"Drowning in it," Leroy says, still chipper as he rifles through one of the stacks of paper. "Turns out that relying on Puck and Sam to get things done with that Jenson account is perhaps not the brightest idea I ever had."

"Well, at least you know for next time," Finn says, and Leroy looks up at him, smiling.

"Isn't that the truth?" he replies brightly. "Now, I know you probably have a lot of work to catch up on after helping out Bernadette earlier, but I need you to do me a favor."

Internally, Finn sighs. Because he knows that whatever Leroy asks him to do, he's going to do it. As much as he'd love to use painting as an excuse – he can't. Leroy's not an asshole, and he's a good boss, and Finn just can't bring himself to totally bail.

"Anything," Finn says, an awkward smile crossing his face, as he tries to look excited over whatever it is that Leroy's going to have him do.

"Good man, good man," Leroy says, and he stands up and motions for Finn to take his place at his computer. "I need to run out for that meeting with Bennington. I tried rescheduling, but they wouldn't budge and I can't afford to have any more issues with them. I have Rachel –."

Finn's momentarily confused, before he realizes that Renee's actually Rachel. Whoops.

" – working on reorganizing some of those spreadsheets that deal with Jenson, and I need you to finish up the drafts for the pitches next week." Leroy glances up at the clock on the wall. "Now, I should be back by five, but if I'm not, I'll need you to drive Rachel home."

Rachel quickly busies herself with some papers, even though there's a small smile on her face, and Finn tries not to groan. Leroy lives forty five minutes away from Finn. He was supposed to be at the bar with Puck and Sam by five fifteen, in the process of forgetting this damn week.

Leroy looks at him, raising his eyebrows. "Sound good?"

Finn almost blurts out that he has to get to his mother's. But now that he's actually in the room with Leroy, and his boss is asking him to help him out, he just – can't. He can't.

"Yeah, sounds good," Finn relents, and he sits down at the computer. Leroy claps a hand on his shoulder, grabs his briefcase, and heads towards the door.

"Thanks, Finn. I know I can always count on you," Leroy says. He looks over at his daughter. "Remember, Rachie – any questions, ask Finn. Not Puck."

Rachel nods, and she salutes him. "Yes, sir."

Leroy blows her a kiss, waves at Finn, and leaves, closing the door behind him. Finn looks at the computer and sighs. Basically all of the work is done except for the boring shit and he just does not feel like doing this right now. He swivels his chair around so that he's facing Rachel.

She glances up at him, then back down at the papers, sighing. "I'm going to be completely honest with you," she begins. "I have absolutely no idea how you do this every single day. I think I would rather die than be forced to work here." She shuffles a couple papers together, randomly highlights a line of writing, then sighs melodramatically again.

Finn tries not to laugh. "No one's forcing me."

Rachel looks up at him, her eyes wide. "You mean you like this job?" she asks, sounding astounded. "I know I'm the boss's daughter, but please – tell me this is not your dream career. How can anyone actually like this?"

Finn's not sure what to say, and Rachel blushes. "I'm sorry. That was probably very rude of me to say. My father's always telling me that I need to be more professional when I'm in a work setting. Forget I said anything."

She grabs another one of the stacks of paper, and sets it on her lap. Taking a deep breath, as if she's preparing herself for battle, she starts to highlight and organize the papers slowly. Finn looks back over at the computer. Leroy's left him about a half hour of work. If he gets it done quickly, he can probably get back to his office and finish off the rest of the work he had left in his office. Or…

He can finish this work in a half hour, help Rachel organize the spreadsheets super quick (because she's moving as slow as molasses and Finn's pretty sure she has no idea what she's doing) and then just tell Bernadette that she has to finish up the rest of his work for the day. She totally owes him and it's not like the work that he has left to do is that hard.

Finn glances at his watch. It's two ten now. If he works this right, he's pretty sure he could be out of the office by three thirty. But he knows that Leroy's not going to be back by five, because Bennington's main office is located like an hour away, so he needs to think about how he's going to get Rachel roped into this plan.

The moment Finn thinks that, Rachel throws the highlighter angrily on the ground, and slams the stack of papers on the desk. "This is the most mundane work I have ever done in my life! I am an actress, not a corporate slave!"

Finn can't help himself. He respects Leroy and all, and he is going to get the work done. But if he sees a way to get out of work early on Friday – well. Who's going to blame him for taking it? Leroy would probably even be cool with it.

And he knows that Rachel will help him, because he's pretty sure that she has some sort of crush on him. She checks him out at the morning meetings, and for the past few days, he's had a cup of coffee waiting for him on his desk when he gets to work in the mornings. He knows damn well it's not Nancy doing that.

He grins, and looks at Rachel conspiratorially. "So, I have an idea. But it needs to, you know… stay between us," he says, leaning in towards her. She looks at him with wide eyes.

"What do you have in mind?" she asks, tucking a loose strand of her hair behind her ear innocently. She subtly shifts in her seat, crossing one leg over the other. She's wearing a short blue polka dotted dress, and Finn can't help but notice that – well.

She has nice legs, okay? For someone so short, they're long as fuck, and they're tan and look so smooth.

Finn clears his throat and motions towards the paperwork.

"I can help you with this, once I'm done with your dad's work. After that, you wanna get out of here?" he asks, and he lowers his voice a little. "I mean, we'll have to keep it quiet from your dad, though."

Rachel bites her lip, looking at the papers in front of her for a second, before looking back over at Finn. She smiles, and nods. "I suppose that sounds okay. But we'll have to sneak out. I don't want someone telling on you," she says, a little teasingly, and Finn nods in agreement.

"There's an exit by the break room. If anyone sees us we can just say that we have to run some errands – pick up some extra copy paper or something."

Rachel raises an eyebrow, incredulous. "They'll actually believe that?"

"I mean, would anyone expect the boss's daughter to be playing hooky?" Finn asks reasonably.

"Well, when you put it that way…" Rachel trails off, and she leans back in the chair. She runs a hand through her hair, tugging her fingers through the strands slowly. She doesn't take her eyes off from him and Finn's not entirely sure, but he thinks that she's about to try like, flirting with him.

She reaches down to grab her highlighter off the floor, and Finn's jaw drops a little. It looks like there's a gold star on her shoulder, and he's shocked as fuck. Rachel's always seemed kind of like a goody two shoes, and besides that, he never in a million years would think that Dr. Berry, let alone Leroy, would allow his daughter to have a tattoo.

"You have a tattoo?" he blurts out. He can't help himself.

She glances up at him, and then sits back up in her chair, tilting her shoulder towards him a little. He looks at the tattoo a little closer – it's definitely a gold star, and it's small, about the size of a dime.

"I got it when I was eighteen," she tells him. "Right at midnight."

"So that was, what, a couple days ago?" Finn tries to joke, and he swivels back towards the computer so she can't see his face. Because he's actually kind of curious to hear just how old she is and he knows that he definitely shouldn't be.

He hears Rachel giggle.

"More like a couple of years ago, thank you."

Finn starts to work on some of Leroy's work. "You're twenty?" he asks, as he opens up a couple of Word documents. He hears Rachel shuffling some of the papers behind him.

"Yes. But I've been told I'm very mature for my age," she says, and it almost sounds as if she's defending herself or something. Finn doesn't know what to say to that so he just doesn't say anything at all.

Rachel doesn't say anything for a moment, before she asks, "and how old are you, Finn?"

"Twenty-seven."

"Twenty-seven going on twenty-eight, or just turned twenty-seven?" Rachel presses, and Finn looks over his shoulder at her curiously. She stares back innocently.

"Just turned twenty-seven," Finn says, and Rachel smiles a little, her tongue brushing against her bottom lip for just a second before she starts going through some papers again. She flicks through a couple pages, staples a few of them together. Finn turns back to the computer.

"You know," Rachel says conversationally, "there's a seven year age gap between my dads. They started dating when my daddy was just eighteen. Crazy, right? How attraction can just bloom between two people, regardless of age?"

Finn stops typing for just a second. He can feel his face turning red and he's glad that she can't see his face. Because he knows for sure now that Leroy's daughter is trying to flirt with him. Shouldn't she be like, grossed out by him? He's almost thirty.

He's not sure how to respond to what she said. All he comes up with is: "How are the spreadsheets going? Are you stuck on any?" He looks at the clock on the computer. Two thirty. "If we're going to get out of here in an hour, we're going to need to – you know. Focus."

He tries to say it as gently as he can, because he doesn't want to embarrass her or whatever. But she can't be flirting with him, for a ton of reasons; number one, because he works for her dad.

And number two, because when she was born, he was probably in his bedroom playing with his GI Joe, or watching Power Rangers or something. That's just weird.

Rachel sighs. "They're fine; they shouldn't take too terribly long. But I'm very hungry," she says, sounding a little sad. "My falafel didn't quite do it for me today, even though it's usually so filling."

Finn swivels around in his chair again. Her elbows are on the table now, her face propped up in her hands. She's pouting and goddammit, she's cute. He's been able to ignore it before, because they've never actually been alone together – but she's seriously just. Cute.

She smiles at him. "We should stop and get something to eat on the way to my house."

Finn shrugs. "Sure. I think Breadstix serves lunch until four."

Rachel's grin grows even wider. "So, it's a date," she says. Finn can't help but laugh.

"No. It's your dad's employee taking you out for a late lunch."

She purses her lips playfully, and staples some more papers. She swings her legs back and forth a little, and Finn tries his best not to stare, but it's kind of losing fighting a losing battle. "I hope you know that I'm a lady and that I only date chivalrous men; I never pay on the first date."

"This is not a date, Rachel," Finn says a little warningly, and he looks up at her. She's staring at him with her eyebrows raised, and fuck, it's not like he was staring at her legs for that long. He feels like a complete fucking creeper though, so he clears his throat uncomfortably, mumbles an excuse of, "um, I think you – you have some pen on your leg."

Which is technically true, she has a long, thin black mark running up her calf, but God, that just made him look even more perverted, that he was staring at her legs long enough to notice that.

She ignores him though, continuing, "And if you must kiss me, you can only kiss me on the cheek."

Finn rolls his eyes, turning back to the computer.

"I only kiss people who were alive when I started kindergarten. Sorry. Personal rule I've always tried to live by."

"I'm sure you've heard the old adage; that some rules are made to be broken?" Rachel asks brazenly, sounding more and more confident.

Finn's not entirely sure what an adage is (some sort of bandage?) but he does know that,

"I'm not taking my boss's daughter on a date."

And he's not. Yeah, his job isn't the best, but it's a job. It pays for bills, and for Carson's food, and for his car, and for his clothes. It also means he has insurance, and a livelihood, and for some strange reason, Finn thinks that Leroy Berry will not give a damn about his livelihood if he dates Rachel.

"Oh, we'll see about that," Rachel says lightly. "We'll see about that."

-x-

As they're leaving Breadstix (and yeah, somehow Finn got stuck with the tab – he's not exactly sure how, but Rachel apparently can be sneaky when she puts her mind to it), Rachel tells him that she doesn't want to go home yet.

"It's my last week of summer vacation," Rachel implores, as they walk back to Finn's truck. "I don't want to spend it wasting away in my fathers' house. I want to do something exciting!"

Finn rolls his eyes as he walks over to the driver's side of the truck. He pulls his keys out of his pocket, unlocking the doors, and gets inside. Frowning, he glances over at the passenger side. Rachel's not inside the car; she's just standing outside it, her arms folded across her chest, looking at him expectantly with her eyebrows raised.

He frowns. "Are you serious?" he asks out loud, even though she probably can't hear him through the door. Apparently she has super human hearing, or is fantastic at reading lips, because she nods emphatically, her head looking like one of those weird bobble dolls.

Finn sighs. She really is crazy. Leaning over, he pops open the door. "That's the best I'm doing," he tells her. "I already paid for your entire lunch, which, just in case you were wondering, consisted of the most expensive thing on the menu."

"Really?" Rachel asks innocently, as she gets inside the truck. "Goodness, usually my tastes aren't quite so expensive. Who knew that a lunch at a mid-range chain restaurant would put such a strain on your wallet?"

He glares at her. "It's not a strain on my wallet," Finn says defensively, "it's just that I don't understand how you could manage to pick the one item that costs like, twenty dollars. I didn't even know they had vegan steak."

Rachel buckles herself in, shuts the truck's door gently. Turning to look at Finn, she smiles gently, placing a hand on his knee as if to reassure him. "Don't worry. Next time we go on a date, I'll make sure to keep my entrée within the ten dollar range."

"That's awesome, but there won't be a next time," Finn says, starting the truck. "So no worries there." He pulls out of the parking lot and starts to head out towards Lima, where Rachel lives.

Rachel claps her hands excitedly. "So, where are we headed next?"

"Your house."

"No," Rachel says, shaking her head. "We already discussed this. That's not an option."

Finn looks at her quickly, before looking back at the road. "I'm not like, your personal entertainer," he tells her. "I have plans tonight, and I'd kind of like to get back to those. No offense," he adds on, because even though he doesn't want to hang out with her anymore, it's not like he wants to be mean to her. She's nice and kind of funny, and if she wasn't Leroy's daughter, he probably wouldn't totally oppose the idea of hanging out.

"Do your plans include a bar?" Rachel asks. She rummages through her purse for a couple of seconds, and then triumphantly holds something that looks like an ID in the air. She waves it in front of Finn's face so he can see, and he swats her hand away annoyed, because come on, he's actually trying to drive somewhat safely here.

"It's a fake ID," Rachel tells him, "and it's amazing."

"Oh, I bet," Finn says, trying not to laugh. "Really, that's awesome. I bet you've bought like, tons of wine coolers with that."

"Shut up," Rachel pouts. "I don't drink wine coolers. I'm a bit more high class than that."

Finn glances at her, smirks. "You're telling me you're not one of those college girls that drink those, like, super fruity ones? Fuzzy Navel? Sangria? Jamaican Me Crazy?"

She sighs, defeated. "There is perhaps a chance that on the rare occasion, I have imbibed a Sangria wine cooler. However," she says loudly, over the sounds of Finn's laughter, "that does not mean I'm one of those girls that exclusively drinks them! I do order other things when I'm out at the bar!"

Finn tries to ask seriously, "Right, you drink them in between your vodka crans?"

"I don't understand why you're mocking my drink choices," Rachel says, and Finn nods.

"Knew it. I don't understand the obsession with cranberry juice, or vodka," Finn says. "Honestly, I feel like every single girl I see at the bar is either ordering like, a mixed vodka drink or a wine cooler."

"That is extremely sexist," Rachel says, offended, "to just insinuate that girls can't order anything besides those drinks. I have many friends who order things other than vodka mixed drinks."

"I guess you'll just have to prove it to me sometime," Finn says.

The moment those words leave his mouth, he wants to slam his head against the dashboard, because that was just like an engraved, open invitation for Rachel to say,

"How about tonight?"

Which she does say, and then she quickly looks at her phone, wildly typing away. "I heard Puck and Sam earlier discussing something about meeting you at Donnelly's? I love that place! I'll just text my dads to let them know that I won't be home for dinner," she chirps.

"What, you're going to tell Leroy that his employee is taking his underage daughter to a dive bar?" Finn asks, panicked. "Are you serious? Are you trying to get me fired?"

He can feel his heart starting to beat wildly and he starts wondering how much money he has in his bank account and if Carson has enough food to tide him over for a month or so until Finn can find a new job.

Rachel turns to him look at him, hand on her chest, and her face aghast. "Finn, I would never try to get you fired. Obviously I only told my fathers that I'm going to the bar with my friends – I made no mention of you."

"And your dads are just okay with you going to a bar?" Finn asks incredulously. "You're like, twenty years old!"

"You make it sound as if I'm two days removed from my birth mother's womb," Rachel says, sounding just a bit annoyed. "Calm down, Grandpa. My dads trust me, and they know that when I drink, I always call for a cab home. Besides, I never drink all that much, anyway."

Finn takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, and relaxes his death-tight grip against the steering wheel. "So, you just texted your dads, telling them that you're going to a bar with friends? And they believed you?"

A noise emanates from Rachel's phone, signaling that a new text message had arrived. She reads to Finn, "Have a good time, pumpkin, be home by two. Will give you a twenty tomorrow to cover your cab fare." Finn looks over at her and she smiles. "My dads are just the sweetest."

Finn doesn't know exactly what to say, because yeah, having parents that don't care about whether their kid has a fake ID or goes to bars seems pretty sweet but also kind of bizarre. But that's probably just because his step-dad always threatened to shoot him with a shotgun if Finn ever stepped out of line or got caught underage drinking.

"This still doesn't change the fact that you're not going to the bar with me," Finn finally says uncomfortably, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. "I don't know how I'd be able to look at your dad on Monday, knowing that like, I've seen you drink and stuff."

Fuck, that'd be awkward.

"Finn, how was your weekend?"

"Awesome, Leroy. I got drunk with your daughter at a bar. Did you know she's underage? Who am I kidding, of course you do; you're her dad! Now, when exactly should I be expecting my last paycheck?"

Yeah. No thanks.

"Look, we aren't exactly lying here," Rachel says. "We're just – we're stretching the truth a teensy, tiny bit. You happen to be going to a bar, and I happen to be going to meet friends there." She smiles encouragingly at him. "See? And that's not technically a lie, because I'm sure that once I hang out with them, Puck, Sam, and I will get along famously."

Finn's not really sure how true that is. There's a preseason football game on tonight, and Puck and Sam will most likely just be drinking pitchers upon pitchers of beer as they watch that; they probably won't even notice Rachel is there, and if they do, they'll be kind of confused by the fact that Finn brought their fucking boss's daughter to drink with them.

Finn glances over at her. She's pulled down the visor, and she's putting on lipstick; dark red, and she keeps smacking her lips, making sure the color's evenly spread.

"You're not going to take no for an answer, are you?" he asks wearily, already resigning himself to the fact that he not only took Leroy Berry's daughter out for lunch, but is also now going to be partaking in drinking with her.

"Absolutely not," Rachel says brightly, and she recaps her lipstick, tossing it back into her purse. "But don't worry. I promise, I'll make sure to look at what the happy hour specials are, so that I don't cost you too much money."

Finn can't help but laugh as he makes a U-turn, driving away from Lima and back towards Donnelly's. "You're paying for your own drinks. Or, actually, you're going to pay for a couple of mine, too. You owe me."

Rachel taps her finger against her watch. "This is still our first date? Or, at the very least, date night," she says. "And as I've already stated numerous times, a lady does not pay on the first date. Now," she says, conceding, "I may offer to buy your friends a beer, in order to facilitate some sort of conversation or friendship. An 'I apologize for crashing your guys' night, but look! I can be cool too!' type of thing." She looks seriously at Finn. "I wouldn't want them to think I'm rude or anything of that nature."

Finn snorts. "No. Why would they think that?"

Rachel giggles, and then she reaches over and presses a hand against his upper thigh. Finn squirms just a little.

"Thank you for hanging out with me," Rachel says sincerely. "I'm going to be working at the office now during my school year, just to make some extra money to ensure that my move to New York City at the conclusion of my college career goes smoothly. It'll be nice to have some friendly faces to see at work."

Finn nods and looks down. Her hand is so small, her fingernails painted this pale pink color, and now she's squeezing and fuck -.

"It's fine," Finn says, "but you have to stop saying we're dating."

Rachel giggles. "Did you know that forty percent of relationships start in the workplace?" she asks, not taking her hand off from his leg.

"I feel like you just made that up."

"Maybe," Rachel says, "but it sounds realistic, doesn't it? I mean, I'm sure there have been many workplace romances at the office – and I'm sure that no one cared, or made a big fuss out of it."

"Yeah, but those relationships were between adults," Finn stresses. "People who didn't need fake IDs to get into bars." He shakes his head. "I don't even know why we're talking about this, because this," he says, motioning between himself and Rachel with a hand, "isn't happening. We can go to the bar, whatever, but we're not dating. Okay?"

Rachel just smiles, pulls her hand off from his leg, and leans back a little in her own seat. "Sure. Whatever you say," she says, and it's in this tone of voice that makes him feel like a kid or something, like he's not getting the big picture; like he's being stupid.

When they finally arrive at Donnelly's, Rachel tries to take his hand as they're walking into the bar. He shoos her off, like she's a fly that just won't get away, and she laughs, standing up on her tip toes to whisper into his ear,

"I've always liked a chase." Her breath feels hot and heady in his ear, and he doesn't say anything, just walks with her back towards the booth where Puck and Sam are sitting.

When she orders her first drink up at the bar, she requests a Tequila Sunrise. When the bartender asks her if she'd like to start a tab, she glances over at Finn hesitantly.

He shakes his head no, tells the bartender to put her drinks on his tab, and Rachel doesn't say anything back, just takes her drink and sips slowly out of the straw.

Finn leans down so that they're face to face, and he says, "so help me God, if you throw up in my truck when I drive you back home, you're paying to get it reupholstered. Seriously, I'm not joking."

"But I'm taking a cab," Rachel says, biting on the straw. She sways a little back and forth to the beat of the music, some folksy country song that Finn's never heard of before.

"No, you're not," Finn says reluctantly. And she's not. Finn's only going to drink a few beers, and by the time the bar closes, he'll be sober enough to drive Rachel home. There's just something about her being drunk as fuck and taking a cab all the way back to Lima that doesn't sit well with him. He can always park a couple houses away from her, so her dads don't see that it's his truck dropping her off.

Rachel kisses him on the cheek quickly before he can push her away. "So chivalrous," she says, and she takes a long swallow of her drink.

"Better than a vodka drink?" Finn asks, and Rachel holds the drink out to him. He takes a sip and Rachel smiles.

"Isn't there some song about tequila making girls frisky?"

"You just don't stop," Finn says, almost sounding amazed. Rachel looks proud of herself as she takes her drink back from him. She downs the rest of it like a shot.

"No," she says, "I don't. Does that bother you?"

She sounds a little nervous when she asks that and Finn thinks seriously about this for a second. It's not like he's truly ever going to date her, or hook up with her – so really, all she's doing is harmlessly flirting with him, and it's not like that ever actually hurt anyone.

"I guess not," Finn says, and Rachel smiles.

"Good. Now order me another drink."

-x-

Somehow, the thing between Finn and Rachel evolves into a weird, quasi-friendship. They take their lunch breaks together and now along with her getting him coffee on the mornings she works, she also buys him a blueberry muffin. And as much as Finn says it is, it's not an entirely one-sided friendship. She has classes all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and he usually stops by her on campus apartment at around eight on those days to drop off a to-go from Breadstix; vegan steak, always. Her college is kind of out of his way, but he knows that Rachel appreciates it, and besides – friends do these kinds of things for each other.

Leroy still doesn't really know they hang out. Like, he knows they talk at work and stuff, but he doesn't know that Rachel usually goes out with Finn, Puck, and Sam at least once a weekend, and that she always watches the football games on Sunday at Finn's house. Finn doesn't necessarily feel guilty about hiding this stuff from his boss, but like – he still wouldn't want Leroy to know that he and Rachel spend so much time together. It'd just be weird, Finn thinks, and even though it's not totally inappropriate… it's just weird.

Rachel refuses to stop making allusions to them dating and he tells her every single time she does that he's not ever, ever going to date her. Ever. Like in a million years. They could be the last two people alive in the United States, hell, in the world, and he would still not take her on a date.

"I think you're being just a bit facetious," Rachel says, as she puts the finishing touches on her vegan taco dip. She sprinkles some cheese (that's not really cheese, but that tastes so much like it that it freaks Finn out) on top, and drops a little on the ground for Carson, who's been sitting patiently, waiting for a scrap of food.

Carson is Finn's one hundred and twenty pound St. Bernard. He's basically a huge goofball, and he's obsessed with Rachel. Finn thinks it's because they're around the same size or something. It's a good thing that Rachel likes dogs though, because Carson doesn't leave her alone; he follows her practically everywhere when she's over at Finn's house.

Rachel puts her hands on her hips once she's done giving Carson a little love, and she stares seriously at Finn.

"Honestly, you're trying to tell me with a straight face that you wouldn't have sex with me if we were the only two people alive? The human race would end because of your unwillingness to see past a little, itty bitty age gap?"

He holds up his hands. "Whoa. I was talking about dating, not sex. There's a difference."

Rachel raises an eyebrow, her eyes widening almost comically. "Really? So you're telling me that you'd have sex with me, but not date me?" She thinks about this for a second. "Well, I suppose that'd be alright. We've been friends for long enough now, that I'm sure that if our relationship turned sexual, it'd only be a matter of time before you fully realized the extent of your feelings toward me; you'd demand that we be official before long."

She looks proud of herself for that line of reasoning, and to be honest, Finn just doesn't have it in him to argue against her rationalizations right now. It's only noon, and her, Finn, Puck, and Sam all went out last night and Finn got more drunk than he has in years.

Rachel was the DD and Finn kind of took advantage of that fact, because it's October now, and this is the first weekend since they've started hanging out that Rachel's offered to be the sober one. And Rachel takes her DD responsibilities very seriously – she didn't drink one drink, instead sipping on club soda and making sure to order extra pitchers of beer so that Finn was never without a drink in his hand.

Thoughtful, yeah. But the headache Finn has currently makes him think that maybe he'll go back to being the DD from now on.

Rachel looks down at her taco dip, frowning a little. "I wonder if I made enough. I know how Puck likes to eat during the game, especially when the Browns are losing."

Finn rolls his eyes. "The Browns are not going to lose. Trust me."

Rachel shakes her head, and she walks over to his fridge, pulling out a vegetable tray that she'd prepared. It's filled with carrots and broccoli and the one little compartment that's holding sliced cucumbers is practically overflowing. Finn loves cucumbers.

Finn won't ever admit it to her, but it's kind of awesome that she makes all this food every Sunday. It sure as hell beats trying to scrounge up some food at the last minute, like he has in previous football seasons. And he thinks that Rachel likes doing this. She has her own friends at school, but they're all theater majors and Rachel's told him a couple of times that it's nice hanging out with people once in a while who don't just want to continually debate the merits of the latest Broadway play or whatever.

He tries to swipe a couple vegetables off from the tray, but Rachel walks around him, instead placing the tray on the kitchen table. "These are for everyone," she stresses. "You can't just eat all of this before Sam and Puck even arrive!"

"But they don't even like the vegetable tray," Finn protests. "I'm the only person besides you who ever eats any of it!"

Rachel's jaw drops. "That's not true! Kurt came last week, and he ate some of it, too!"

Kurt is Finn's step-brother, and Rachel's long lost best gay. Finn introduced them about a month ago, when Kurt randomly came out with them one night. Kurt and Rachel spent the entire night discussing color palettes and fabrics and Barbra and Patti, and Finn had never felt more left out in his entire life, even as him, Puck, and Sam talked about whether or not the Patriots had a chance of going to the Super Bowl again.

Ever since that night, Kurt's stopped by Finn's a couple of times on Sundays so that he can see Rachel and discuss important matters pertaining to Celine Dion and Rachel's need for a new hairstyle. Finn doesn't see it, because he likes Rachel's hair – it's long and wavy, and she has these cute bangs, and every so often she wears these headbands that have bows on the sides…

Anyway, Finn doesn't think that Kurt should be encouraging any new hairstyles or whatever.

"Yeah, but Kurt's not going to be here today," Finn says, quickly snagging a couple cucumbers and stuffing them in his mouth. Rachel wrinkles her nose, stomps her foot on the ground.

"You know I like the tray looking beautiful for as long as possible," she says. "And now, it's ruined!" She looks at the clock that's hanging on the wall above the sink. "And the boys aren't supposed to be here for another half hour."

Finn rolls his eyes. "I really don't think they'll notice," he says, "but if you want, I can puke up the cucumbers or something?"

"You're gross," Rachel giggles but she's starting to look happier. Finn grabs her hand gently, starts to pull her out towards the living room.

"C'mon. I'll let you watch the pregame show on CBS if you want."

"But aren't the Browns playing on Fox?" Rachel asks cautiously, as she curls her fingers around Finn's.

Yeah, they hold hands sometimes. Not for like a long time or whatever – usually it's just when he's trying to get her attention, or if they're walking inside a store or something, or if like, she's having a bad day and he's trying to make her feel better.

Totally innocent.

They sit down on the couch, and Finn hands her the remote. "Yeah, but I know how you have a thing for Marino," Finn says, and Rachel squeals excitedly, quickly flipping to CBS. Dan Marino's face fills the screen almost immediately, and Rachel sighs.

"I'm just saying, he's a good looking older gentleman," she says, preemptively defending herself. "If I'm forced to watch football all day -."

"Which you aren't, because you invite yourself over to watch," Finn interrupts, but Rachel continues,

"I'd rather watch a preshow that actually has attractive anchors."

"I think you just have a thing for older guys," Finn says, teasing, and Rachel glances at him, pulling her legs up onto the couch, draping them across his lap.

It's a warm autumn, and she's wearing this short flannel shirt-dress thing. He places his hand on top of her legs, brushing him thumb against her one knee. There's a bruise on it from where she fell during dance rehearsal the other day; at the bar last night, she'd demanded that he kiss it and make it better. He'd refused (obviously) but it's kind of getting harder and harder to just ignore her when she keeps trying to get him to like her because like, if she wasn't twenty years old and Leroy's daughter – he probably would. She's kind of cool, in a crazy way.

Answering his statement, Rachel replies quietly, "Maybe I do."

He pulls her legs a little closer to him. "Oh, yeah?" he asks, and seriously, completely not by his choice, his voice does this weird gravelly thing that one of his ex-girlfriends used to call his "bedroom voice". Finn doesn't know exactly what Quinn meant by that, but he knows that whenever he talked to her in this voice, she always wanted to have sex like, immediately.

Clearing his throat, he takes his hand off Rachel's leg, runs his hands through his hair, and stretches his arms out across the back of the couch. In a much higher voice, he says, "I've always liked older women, too."

"I've never seen you with an older woman," Rachel says, smiling.

"You don't come out with us every night," Finn replies without even thinking.

He doesn't know why he decides to say that, but he feels stupid as fuck the minute he does because Rachel's smile falls off from her face and she immediately drops her legs back onto the floor. He knows that Rachel has this crush on him or whatever, and he's tried to be like, careful of her feelings for the most part but sometimes he says things without even thinking.

"You've… you've had sex with other people? Since we've been friends?" Rachel asks, standing up, not even looking at him.

"No, no – Rach, I didn't mean that."

"But you would. If some random, older woman –."

"I don't actually like older women, I was just joking!" Finn tries to say.

"If some random girl wanted to have sex with you, you would?" Rachel demands, and Finn stands up now, too. He's not sure how this escalated into whatever it's escalating into to, but he tries to calm her down, putting his hands on her shoulders.

She takes a couple steps so he can't reach her, and he lets out a noise of frustration. "No, I – I mean, if I liked her, I guess I would, but I haven't – I haven't actually slept with someone in like a month." He pauses, and he can tears welling in Rachel's eyes. "But we're not dating," Finn stresses, "we're not, I've told you that. You could've slept with someone, too," he says, waving his hand towards her, "and I wouldn't be able to get mad or say anything either."

"So you wouldn't care?" Rachel asks, finally looking at him. "You wouldn't care if I just had random sex with some person you didn't know?" Her mascara's running just a little, and she's never looked younger to Finn than she does right now. She looks like a teenager who's just had her heart broken or something for the first time.

Finn starts to feel annoyed, and he replies, "I would probably prefer if it was someone I didn't know, actually. Why would I want to know the guy you're fucking?"

"Well, I mean, why wouldn't you?" Rachel asks, her voice tightening. "Since we're just friends and everything, it makes sense that you wouldn't care less about who I spend my time with. I'll just call Jesse or – or Mike up, see if either of them are free tonight."

"Why are you doing this?" Finn asks, as Rachel walks into the kitchen. He follows her. "You know we're just friends; I don't get why you're making a big deal out of this."

Rachel walks over to the kitchen island, grabs her purse and her coat off from one of the stools that's beside it. She puts her coat on quickly, buttoning it up.

"I'm not making a big deal out of anything," she says, "I'm just starting to realize how absolutely foolish and naïve and – and childish I must seem to you." Her fingers are fumbling with the buttons, and she it takes her a couple of tries to get even one button through a hole.

"What are you talking about?" Finn asks tiredly.

He's pretty much used to Rachel's dramatics at this point – the other day when he told her that he'd never seen Funny Girl, she'd taken a vow of silence until he'd come over to her apartment to watch it with her – but he's never seen her like this, so genuinely and completely upset.

Rachel wipes underneath her eyes with her fingertips, gingerly trying not to mess up any more of her makeup.

"I thought you liked me," she says quietly. "I mean, I know you didn't at first, but. But you bring me dinner, and you take me out to the movies, and – I thought. I thought that meant something," she says, but it sounds as if she's talking to herself. "I'm so stupid. Obviously you don't like me, you just look at me as some – probably as some little sister or something, some annoying girl that you put up with just because you work for her father."

"That's not it at all," Finn retorts, and he walks over to her, places his hands on top of hers. "Stop. Stop. You're not leaving when you're this upset."

Rachel ignores him. "I'm just starting to realize that every single time you've said that this friendship is one-sided, you actually meant it. You don't actually like me."

"You're being insane," Finn says, angry all of a sudden. "You know that we're friends, and I'm sorry if I can't like, give you what you want or whatever, but you're twenty years old. I can't just be dating you or having sex with you, okay? Can't you get that?"

"I get it perfectly," Rachel says, and she looks up at him. Her brown eyes look impossibly large, and she sniffles, taking another step backwards away from him. "But I want more. And I'm sorry but I suppose your little comment made it very obvious to me that I care infinitely more about this friendship, and you, than you care about me."

"I haven't slept with anyone in over a month," Finn says through gritted teeth. "It was a joke."

"It wasn't very funny, and it doesn't change the fact that as much as I want you, I have to start coming to terms with the fact that you don't want me," Rachel says quietly, and she quickly buttons up the rest of her coat, shouldering her purse. "Please tell Sam and Puck that I'll see them at work tomorrow."

And with that, she walks out of the kitchen. A couple of second later, Finn hears the front door slamming.

He tries to text her an apology that night, but she doesn't answer. When he calls, she doesn't pick up, and when he offers to buy her breakfast the next morning, she texts back, "that won't be necessary, thank you".

When eleven o'clock rolls around and she still hasn't said anything, he knows that he really did fuck up. Maybe it's kind of weird and not really friend like, but for the past couple of weeks, Rachel and him have sent each other good night texts. He decides to send her one anyway, just to see if she'll respond and he writes, "I hope your night turned out okay. See you tomorrow?"

She finally replies an hour later with, "It turned out just fine. See you at work".

No smiley faces, no exclamation points. Nothing.

It's at that moment that Finn realizes that he really has messed up, because he's starting to feel like maybe he wants her just as much as she wants him.

-x-

"Let's go over the facts again," Puck says, his mouth full as he chomps away on a burrito. Finn grimaces.

"Can you like, close your mouth when you eat that shit? It's disgusting," Finn says, and Puck rolls his eyes.

"Do you want my advice or not?" he asks, taking another bite of the burrito. He lets out a little noise of appreciation. "I'll tell you, I try out all these burrito places, but nothing will beat Taco Bell. Ever. It's like a proven fact that their fast food is ten thousand times better than any other fast food."

"You lead a sad life, bro," Finn says.

Puck grins. "I'm not the one trying to bang a twenty year old."

"That's true," Sam pipes in, as he breaks off another piece of his quesadilla and tosses it into his mouth. "He usually just goes for the teenagers."

Puck throws a wadded up napkin at him, and Finn honestly is wondering what the fuck he was thinking in actually going to these two and asking for help. But it's not like he had many other options. They're his best friends, and they're the only people who actually know what's going on between him and Rachel.

Not that there is anything going on with him and Rachel, currently. It's been a week since their fight, and she's completely avoided him at work. She doesn't bring him coffee anymore, and when he tried to drop off her Breadstix dinner on Tuesday night, her roommate said that Rachel had suddenly developed a severe and life-threatening allergy to all food bought with Finn's credit card. When Finn told Santana that he'd actually bought the food on his debit card, she'd just rolled her eyes and slammed the door in his face.

And when Finn walked by Leroy's office the other day, he actually heard his boss asking Rachel what was wrong, why she wasn't eating lunch with Finn anymore. He'd sort of hid by the door to hear her answer, which was some made up excuse of how she just thought that she shouldn't fraternize so closely with coworkers anymore – what's the point, if she's just leaving for New York at the end of the school year?

So now he takes his breaks with Puck and Sam again, and he has to listen to them talk about the culinary wonder that is, Taco Bell. He doesn't hate it, because he likes his friends and all but – he misses Rachel.

He really, actually misses her.

"So, the facts," Puck says again, as he crumples up his burrito wrappers. "Rachel and you have been friends, since, what? August?"

"I guess," Finn says, and Puck nods.

"And she's liked you since...?"

"August," Finn says, starting to get a little annoyed. "You already know this shit, man, it's not like going over this is helping me or anything."

"I think what he's going to be getting at," Sam says, "is that you've had this younger girl liking you for a few months now. And you get shocked when she acts offended at the idea that you've been leading her on?"

"But I haven't been leading her on," Finn argues. "I told her, I told her like twenty thousand times, that we were never going to be more than friends."

Puck looks at him, his eyes narrowed. "Bro's before hoe's and all… but did you honestly think that buying her stuff and wining and dining her and all that other shit you did wouldn't lead her on? Seriously?"

Finn sighs but doesn't say anything, just takes another bite of his chicken salad sandwich. Because it sounds so stupid when Puck says it like that. Looking back on it, yeah, he can definitely see how what he did could be seen as like, leading Rachel on. And there's this part of him in the back of his mind that's thinking that maybe he was meaning to lead Rachel on. That maybe a part of him liked her the entire time, and not just as friends.

"What do I do now?" Finn asks finally. "Because I – I like her. But nothing's changed. I still work here and she's still too young."

"If there's grass on the field," Sam begins and Finn glares at him, shooting a hand out to point at him accusingly.

"Don't finish that sentence," he says warningly, and Sam blushes, going back to his quesadilla. Puck rolls his eyes.

"Look, man, I think you're going to have to just get over that shit. Leroy's chill and he loves you like a long-lost son – he's not going to care. And it's not like Rachel's going to be twenty for forever," Puck adds. "Her birthday's in December."

"That's true," Sam says. "And then you guys will only be six years apart." He shrugs. "I mean, only for like, three weeks, but still."

Finn dejectedly tosses his empty sandwich bag onto the table. "This is all pointless, because it's not like she's going to talk to me anyway. She's avoiding me like I have some sort of weird disease or something. Did you see her at the meeting this morning? The only empty chair was by me, and she actually moved it to the other side of the room."

Sam nods compassionately. "Yeah, that was cold, man. She hit me with that chair as she was moving, actually. It kind of hurt."

"You just need to like, woo her or some shit," Puck says, leaning forward so that he can look Finn right in the eye. "Do that romantic crap you always used to pull with Quinn."

"Yeah, like that ended up so well," Finn says, laughing, but Puck's still looking entirely serious.

"Seriously, dude. Just make Rachel feel like you can't live without her or whatever. Do all those grand gestures that chicks dig. Like buying them meaningful things and I don't know, making them those stupid crafts that Martha Stewart's always going on about."

Finn shakes his head. "I can't make crafts, dude, that'd be so lame."

And it would be. He tried helping Rachel sew these curtains this one time, and it seriously looked like he was drunk or high, the stiches were so crooked. Rachel had laughed for a good twenty minutes about it.

Sam snaps his fingers. "I got it! Me and Puck'll kidnap her -."

"What?"

"And then we'll take her over to your house, where you'll have this, like, totally bad ass dinner cooked and like, roses and music – it'll be awesome and romantic, girls love that stuff. Remember that last fight I had with Mercedes? All I had to do was toss on some Michael Buble and cook up some penne alla vodka – she forgave me in about half a second," Sam says earnestly.

Finn thinks about this for a second. He's not so sure about the whole, you know, kidnapping aspect of the idea, but he does think that if he could just talk to Rachel for five minutes and not have her run out on him, he'd be able to convince her to be his friend again.

And maybe more than friends.

But Finn would be happy if she'd just start to hang out with him again, in any sort of way.

He glances over at Sam, then over at Puck. "Think it'll work?"

Puck shrugs. "Sure as hell hope so. No offense, but Sundays have been twenty times better since Rachel's been around. She cooks and she's actually sort of aware what's going on in the game, which is more than I can say for any other girlfriend you've had."

Finn smiles. "Yeah, she is pretty awesome."

It takes Finn about a week to formulate his plan. He tries out a bunch of these vegan recipes on Puck and Sam, and he finally manages to cook something that doesn't taste like ass. He orders a bunch of flowers from the local florist, like four big bouquets, and he puts a couple in the kitchen and a couple in the living room. He also even gets Carson groomed, because Rachel once said that nothing was worse than smelling a stinky dog, and Carson hadn't been washed in… well. Like, months.

Rachel isn't really happy when Puck and Sam drop her off at Finn's house, though. Apparently, the boys told her that they were going to be taking her out to the mall to shop for some new skirts or some bull shit – anyway, when she realized exactly where they were going, she demanded that they drive her immediately back to her house, or else she'd call the police and report that she was being abducted by,

"these two asinine men who do not respect a woman's wishes!"

The first thing she does when she steps inside Finn's house is tell him that, "I am going to say hello to Carson, find my Tupperware dish that I left here the other week, then call a cab for a ride."

She takes off her coat and drops it at the staircase, not even acknowledging Finn's presence, before walking into the living room so she can find Carson.

He knows that the minute she walks into the living room, she's either going to start to cry or yell or hit him or kiss him. He's not really sure which one to expect, so he braces himself as he follows her into the room.

She turns around to look at him as she enters the room, her jaw dropped a little. Finn nervously stands at the entrance way, looking over his handiwork again; Funny Girl is playing on the television, and there's a picnic in the middle of the floor; an actual wicker basket holding that damn meal that took him forever to cook, and a blanket, and these big pillows that Mercedes helped him find at Sheets N Things. He thought that maybe the picnic idea was too lame, but Mercedes had reassured him that Rachel would find it cute, not cheesy.

But as she continues to just stand there, not saying anything, Finn feels like maybe he's just made an even bigger ass of himself. Clearing his throat, he motions awkwardly towards the blanket.

"I thought that – that maybe we could talk? And eat?"

Rachel just stares at him, and she takes a couple of deep breaths in and out. "I – I thought that you were inviting me over here to ask me to cook something for football on Sunday. Puck said that last week all you had here was beer and pretzels, and that he actually misses my vegetable tray," she says faintly.

Carson chooses that moment to lazily jump off from the couch and meander over to her, nudging her one hand with his nose. She pets him absentmindedly for a couple of seconds.

"No," Finn says, giving her a small smile, and he sits down on the blanket, starting to unpack the basket. "This is an apology."

She slowly sits down beside him; not too close though, but at least she's sitting down and not running away screaming. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, and she bites her lip nervously.

"For what?" she asks. "An apology for what?"

Finn glances up at her quickly before looking back at the food that he's just unpacked. It's all this vegan stuff that smelled kind of gross when he was putting it together but that actually looks pretty good, now that it's all laid out and fully prepared. Rachel reaches a hand out, dips her finger into the little pot of salad dressing.

Licking her finger, she graces him with a small smile, but doesn't say anything, waiting for his answer. Finn swallows thickly.

"I'm sorry that I led you on," he says. "I think I was so confused because I really, really liked you, but on the other hand there was just – there were all these things that made it seem as if we shouldn't be together." Embarrassedly, he shrugs self-consciously. "I wanted you, I just didn't have the balls to actually say something. So I thought that being friends was the best bet, you know? That way I could still see you and hang out with you."

Rachel nods, dips her finger into the salad dressing again. She licks her finger again, and seems to be mulling over his question. Finn can feel himself starting to sweat because seriously, he spent like hours on this meal, let alone the hours he's spent thinking about Rachel. There's a very real possibility that she's going to tell him to fuck off and start thinking about dating girls his own age. God, if he loses her before he's ever even really had her… he just can't believe that he wasted all this time trying to convince himself that he didn't like her.

"I see," Rachel says. She glances over at Carson, who's eyeing the meal pretty readily. She giggles and leans across to him, scratches his ears. She asks Finn, "and what do you think now? I mean, it's not as if I've magically aged a few years, or as if you've switched jobs."

She doesn't look at him when she says this, just continues to pet Carson.

Finn sighs and shakes his head. "I don't know. I guess I haven't really thought about that all that much. I just know that I really, really like you, Rachel," he says again, sincerely. "And I figure that if we start – if we start dating, you know, we'll tell your dads eventually and we'll just take it from there." Finn reaches over to her, places his hand on her leg. "But I want to be with you. I want to at least try to be with you, and not be thinking the entire time that I'm doing something wrong, or that I'm corrupting you, or -."

She kisses him and he stops talking abruptly. She pulls away after a second, and she looks at him sternly.

"You're not corrupting me. I'm an adult. I can make my own decisions," Rachel tells him. "And I want to date you. I've wanted to since I first met you." But she shakes her head a little sadly. "However, you're going to have to grovel a lot more before I fully forgive you."

Finn furrows his forehead, gesturing towards the picnic. "It took me hours to put this together."

Rachel nods. "I can tell. Those veggie burgers in there look handmade!"

"They are!" Finn says, and he motions towards the bowl of stir-fry that's resting near the salad bowl, "and the stir-fry only has the vegetables that I know you like. And I bought that organic blueberry wine you love." He pulls the bottle out of the basket, and holds it up for emphasis. She giggles and he pours her a glass.

Taking it, she says, "I'm so grateful for all of this – truly, I am. But a girl never forgives a boy on his first attempt."

Finn holds back a groan, but he does take a drink of the wine straight from the bottle. "This is not my first attempt to ask for your forgiveness," he reminds her. "I've been begging you for like two weeks to talk to me. This is just my first like, big gesture."

Rachel takes another sip of her wine, and Finn starts to prepare them a couple plates, spooning some vegetable stir-fry onto each one.

"I appreciate this," Rachel says, "but I'm going to need just a bit more before I truly forgive you." She takes a bite of the stir-fry, and her eyes widen. "This is delicious. Finn, you have to give me this recipe."

He rolls his eyes, and takes a bite. It actually is pretty good – Puck was at least half right about turning to Martha Stewart.

"So, what'll it take to get you to fully forgive me?" Finn asks, as Rachel feeds a carrot to Carson. "Forgive me, and date me," he amends. Rachel smiles at him, puts her glass down, and crawls over to his side of the blanket.

"I think," she says, mock seriously, "if you take me to my cast party on Saturday night, and introduce yourself as my boyfriend…" she trails off, and she shrugs one shoulder delicately. "That might be a start."

Finn wraps an arm around her waist, and pulls her into his lap. She giggles a little, nervously, and he wraps his other arm around her waist, too. He brushes his lips against hers, and honestly, he's not sure if he'll ever get over that feeling. There's something about actually kissing her, after he's wanted to for so long, that's killing him. In the best possible way.

"So," she breathes, "if we were the last two people on earth -."

He doesn't even let her finish the sentence; just kisses her again, because she has to know that he was lying by now. She pulls away though, and he says,

"I would date you. I would date you like, a hundred times over."

She giggles and kisses him again.

-x-

Two Months Later

-x-

Rachel's twenty-first birthday is December 16th, and she celebrates by wearing a tiara all day, drinking all night, and by finally telling her dads that she's seeing Finn. She and Finn tell them when they're about to leave for Donnelly's. Leroy's face immediately broke into the biggest smile that Finn's ever seen, and his boss started talking about being able to keep the insurance business within the family, and how thrilled he is that his Rachel has chosen such a respectable man, and how if Finn ever thinks of breaking up with her or hurting her that he will feel pain like he has never experienced in his entire life.

Finn doesn't really know what to say to any of that, because once Rachel heads out to New York, he's pretty sure that he's going to be following her out there; so it's not like he's going to be in the insurance business forever. But he just smiles when Leroy says that because it's kind of nice to know that his boss isn't plotting his death or anything, for dating his daughter.

The bartender's face at Donnelly's drops when he realizes that it's Rachel's twenty-first birthday. She looks at him apologetically and tells him that he's not the first bartender who's ever been fooled by her fake ID. He threatens to kick them out of the bar, but Finn quickly appeases him by offering to give him a fifty-percent tip for the whole night.

Anyway, Rachel invited all of her friends out to the bar, and Puck and Sam, came too. When he and Rachel first started dating, it was a little awkward hanging out with her friends, and it still kind of is – but Finn deals with it, because he kind of loves Rachel, and honestly, her friends aren't that bad. Like, Santana's pretty scary but other than that, they're just a bunch of musical theater kids who like to answer him in song and dance whenever he asks them how their days went.

Rachel sits on his lap the whole night, peppering his neck with kisses when she's not busy singing along to the music that's playing over the loudspeakers.

"You're wonderful," she says loudly into Finn's ear, throwing her arms around him tightly.

"Oh, yeah?" Finn asks, brushing his hands against her skirt to make sure that it's not bunching up too much. She'd insisted on wearing her very favorite black miniskirt and her very favorite blue shirt; it's gauzy and has sequins all over it, and it's definitely more of a summer shirt than a winter shirt, but Finn wasn't going to fight her on it. It's her birthday, after all, but he did make sure that she wore her warmest winter coat on their way to the bar.

"Yes," Rachel says emphatically. "You are. I knew that you were perfect boyfriend material when I first met you. Besides you being old and all," she says, and she pats him on the cheek drunkenly. "But that's okay, honey, I know you can't control those sorts of things!" She calls him honey when she's drunk or when she's tired, and he finds it fucking adorable.

Finn chuckles, turning his head slightly so he can press a kiss against her palm. "Thanks, Rach."

She nods and she glances at her cell phone. "Can we go soon?" she requests. "It's getting late."

He frowns, looking her in the eyes to make sure that she's feeling okay. "Are you alright? It's only midnight."

She shifts a little in his lap then, and starts to play with the buttons on his shirt; Rachel Berry's telltale signs for telling him that she's starting to feel like she wants some "alone time". The first time she said she wanted alone time, a couple weeks after they started dating, he thought that meant she wanted him to leave her apartment, but he quickly learned that alone time meant she wanted sex. It didn't take him that long to start to really, really enjoy their alone time together.

He kisses her on the forehead, and she smiles gratefully at him as he straightens her tiara out on her head.

"Thanks, honey," she says, and he helps her to stand up. "Should I go say goodbye to everyone?" she asks, glancing over to where all their friends are. They're playing darts and air hockey in the corner, and Puck and Sam are both simultaneously trying to flirt with Santana. Rachel frowns. "When will they remember that she's a lesbian?"

"Probably never," Finn answers, as he helps Rachel into her coat. "And nah, I think they figured we'd be leaving soon, anyway."

Rachel grabs on to his hand and intertwines their fingers. "Then take me home, good sir," she says, and he leans down, giving her a quick kiss before leading her out of the bar. She almost slips on some black ice in the parking lot, and he holds onto her tightly until she's safely inside the car and buckled up.

"You're the best," she says sleepily, as he starts to drive towards his house.

"Gonna make it, babe?" he asks, as she closes her eyes. Without opening them, she responds,

"Yes. I need to have birthday sex with my older man."

Finn rolls his eyes, because he hates when she says stuff like that, and usually she just says it to tease him. He doesn't comment on it today though, because it is her birthday, and because she's half-drunk right now, so she probably wasn't even trying to annoy him.

By the time they get into his house and up into his bedroom, Rachel's sobered up a bit. She closes the door behind them, telling Finn that as much as she adores Carson, he can't be privy to every single moment that occurs between the two of them. Finn just laughs and Rachel crooks a finger, motioning for him to come closer to her.

"I need help," she pouts, and she runs her hands over her skirt. "The zipper is all the way in the back," she says conspiratorially, "and I just can't get this skirt off for the life of me! If only I had a nice, caring boyfriend who would be able to help me."

Finn smirks, but he drops his hands down to her waist, feels for the zipper, and pulls it down slowly. As he pushes the skirt down her hips, Rachel just looks up at him and smiles widely.

That's the one thing that Finn thinks he'll never get over – when she smiles, truly smiles at him, she looks at him as if he's just like, hung the fucking moon for her or something. It's kind of amazing.

She steps out of the skirt gently, her hands on his shoulder for balance. She's still wearing her high heels, these huge pumps that look so painful; her skin looks pinched and red around the toes. He knows that she feels a little self-conscious sometimes about how much taller he is than her, but those shoes seriously look like torture devices.

"Take your shoes off," he says, and before she can protest, he kneels down so that he can take them off himself. They lace up around the ankles and it takes him a few seconds to decide just how exactly to take them off without completely screwing them up. He manages eventually, and Rachel keeps her hands on his shoulders, so that he can help her maintain balance as he takes one shoe off first, then the other.

Once he's done, he looks up at her, smiling. She's still wearing that blue top, and these panties that are white with little black bows on them. Impulsively, he leans forward, pressing his lips against one of the bows. She lets out a little giggle, and her fingers tighten against his shoulders. He looks up at her and smiles, standing up.

She starts to fiddle with the buttons on his shirt, undoing them sloppily.

He takes the tiara off from her head, tosses it gently to the floor, just as she undoes the last button, pushing his shirt off from his shoulders. After she's done with that, she starts to unbuckle his belt.

"No lead up?" Finn asks jokingly, as she pulls the belt from the belt loops. She laughs at first, but then looks at him solemnly as she undoes the button on his jeans. He pushes the jeans down himself.

"A girl only gets twenty-first birthday sex once in her entire life, Finn. This is a very serious occasion."

He laughs and he picks her up, walking her over to the bed and laying her gently on it. He plays with the bottom of her shirt.

"So, I guess we should get rid of this then, huh?" he asks, pushing it up her stomach. Rachel doesn't say anything, just nods, and helps him pull it over her head. He drops the shirt onto the floor, and runs his fingertips over her stomach, her breasts, her neck, her face.

"You're beautiful," he says, and he leans forward, pressing his lips against hers. She insistently pushes his boxers down his hips and he grins as her hand finds him, stroking him tightly. "What are you doing there, Rach?"

She looks at him innocently. "I have no idea," she says nonchalantly, as her grip becomes even tighter. He can't help but smile to himself as he starts to kiss his way down her neck, to her breasts. She squirms just a little bit, as he bites down lightly. Pulling away, his fingers slowly push away the fabric of her panties, stroking her. She lets out a deep breath and closes her eyes, her legs widening an almost imperceptible amount at first, as he pulls her panties all the way off.

"Aren't you glad that I made you date me?" Rachel asks breathlessly as he slowly enters her a few minutes later, her legs wrapped tightly around his waist. He smiles, threading his fingers through her hair, kissing her soundly as a way of saying yes. But she asks him again, more insistently, so,

"Yes," Finn says.

And obviously he's beyond glad. Rachel's kind of the best. She funny and smart, and she's beautiful, and yeah, maybe their dating hasn't been the easiest thing in the world – telling his mom that he was dating a girl seven years younger than him was a little awkward, and he knows that work's going to be kind of difficult, just because everyone's going to think that Leroy's giving him like, preferential treatment if Finn ever gets another promotion or whatever.

But as Rachel falls apart beneath him, Finn knows that he absolutely wouldn't change a thing. He's dating his best friend, he still has his job, and yeah – life doesn't really get all that much better.

-x-

A/N2: Whew! I started writing this a while ago, stopped, then started again, so I'm glad I finally finished it. Reviews are always appreciated!