Hello! Welcome to my latest story. This will be a collection of historical AU's in which Finn and Rachel have been placed. They will be as historically accurate as I can make them with possibly a few minor liberties taken. As for this chapter, I thought it was fitting as I am from Buffalo and Finn and Rachel's school's presidential namesake was indeed at the Pan-American Exposition. I hope you enjoy!
It was amazing. The most amazing thing he had ever seen in his short life. It was also blinding. Never before had Finn seen so many light bulbs. Hell, many places in the country still didn't even have electricity, but this place…it was a city of light.
Finn didn't know what he'd encounter when he hopped on a train to Buffalo from Lima with his buddy Sam for the Pan-American Exposition but he thought it would be fun. He'd read about its exhibits and spectacles all summer, had saved up to attend, and now he was taking a short trip to see the fair for himself and possibly meet President McKinley. He had never met anyone important before and the prospect was exciting.
When they arrived that Thursday evening the Expo was still quite crowded and Finn and Sam found themselves in awe as they walked across the Triumphal Bridge into the Exposition. Their mouths hung open as their eyes feasted on the buildings and bulbs that surrounded them. The Spanish Renaissance designs were breath taking and even in the night the colors of the buildings were brighter than any either man had seen before.
"So what do you want to do?" Sam asked Finn as they walked the grounds. Neither could stop staring at the giant Electric Tower at the center of the fair, completely lit up from base to tip, beaming out light over the entire fair, taller than any other structure around.
"I don't know. Many of the exhibits are closing for the night."
"I saw a sign saying there was a soloist performing soon at the Temple of Music. We could see that."
Finn shrugged and the men made their way to the ornate golden building. They had never seen anything this nice in Lima. As the men waited in line to enter, they read the sign stating the lineup of events for that day. It seemed the final act of the evening would be a female singer by the name of Rachel Berry.
"Rachel Berry? Do you think she will be any good?" Sam commented as the line crept along.
"I would assume so she is if she's performing here. You don't get to perform in the same place the President will be without being good."
As they entered the building finally, Finn removed his bowler and sought out two seats for him and Sam. All he could find unfortunately were seats in the back on the first floor. They settled in and made themselves comfortable as they waited for the show to start.
"Do you really think we'll meet the President tomorrow?"
"If we get here early enough I suppose. It would be pretty neat to meet him."
"Do you think we'll meet any ladies while here?" Sam asked with a little glint in his eye.
"This isn't a brothel, Sam."
Sam looked offended. "I never said it was. It would just be nice to have some company a little nicer to look at than you to escort around the fair."
Finn chuckled when he realized he had a valid point until the lights in the building dimmed and more came on onstage. A tiny woman stood on the stage and stepped forward into the light earning applause from the waiting audience. She was in a lovely floor length silk black gown, cinched tightly at the waist with a sash, the curve of her hips accentuated, lace decorating the top of the bodice and over her arms while lace bows decorated the bottom of the dress. One major difference in her dress was the much lower neckline than most women wore. Her hair was swept up in a large bun on the top of her head with soft tendrils framing her face. Her arms were clad in long matching gloves which covered most of her skin.
From a distance, Finn couldn't get a very good look at the woman, but boy could he hear her when she opened her mouth. Honestly, he couldn't even tell what it was she was singing as it didn't even sound like English but it was beautiful nonetheless. The woman's voice rang throughout the auditorium and seemed to pierce Finn deeply with its crisp angelic sound. Simply put, he was mesmerized.
As the woman sang what he came to believe was an Italian opera, Finn stayed transfixed on her, absorbing everything about her he could from his position in the audience. He had to meet this creature somehow and compliment her on her amazing voice. In all his life he had never known something so lovely could exist.
When the woman ended her show, the audience erupted into loud applause and Finn jumped to his feet along with many others for a standing ovation. He waited impatiently as the crowd began to exit the building.
"I wonder if we are allowed to meet the talent," Finn queried allowed to no one specifically.
"Has the talented young lady caught your eye?" Sam joked, punching him on the arm.
Finn shrugged. "She was decent," he said without emotion, his eyes darting to Sam to see if he bought it. There was no way a songstress with a voice as lovely as that would ever be interested in a farm boy from Lima, Ohio. He didn't even want to think about the possibility of attempting to woo her. Besides, it was well known in Lima that he would most likely marry Quinn Fabray. Everyone expected it. All he had to do was ask her father for permission and propose. He just wasn't sure that was what he really wanted.
Sam snorted. "You couldn't take your eyes off of her the entire time. I think you are understating the attraction."
"What does it matter? I won't even be able to meet her and even if I could she is an Italian opera singer and I'm a farm boy. Besides…I have Quinn."
"That is true." Sam clapped him on the back.
The men exited the building following the crowd outside and much to his surprise, the singer Rachel Berry was outside greeting the members of the audience.
"Well, it looks like you may get to meet your songbird." Sam smiled at him and they walked toward the line of people forming to meet her. As they moved closer, Finn could finally see her face.
She was stunning. A large smile was constantly on her lips and she seemed very gracious as she took all the praise received from the line of people. Her eyes sparkled in the light from the buildings and he realized when he was three people away that the woman was in fact tiny.
Finn could feel his heart in his throat as he became the next person to greet her, his tongue thickening in his mouth. When he was right in front of her, his mind went blank.
"Good evening, sir," she said in her angelic voice. When he didn't reply her eyes flickered to Sam who cleared his throat loudly and nudged Finn rather harshly.
"H-hello, Miss Berry. You were incredible."
"Thank you. It is always a pleasure to meet admirers. I appreciate you taking the time out of your evening to come to my show."
"Of course. It was the best part of my day." Finn smiled brightly.
"If you're at all interested, tomorrow afternoon after the President's meet and greet, I'll be performing again. I am actually here until the end of the Exposition."
"I would love to hear you sing again. You were truly amazing." He couldn't stop the praise.
"Well, thank you again." Just then a man in a well tailored suit caught Rachel's attention. She spoke in a hushed tone with him before turning back to Finn with a bright yet sad smile on her face. "I'm so sorry, but I must be going. Perhaps we'll see each other again tomorrow."
Unlike with everyone else, she placed her hand out for Finn to take. He stared at her glove clad hand before delicately taking it in his. Finn bent forward as he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it as he stared at her. Blush graced her cheeks as a tiny smile grew on her lips. Her hand slipped from Finn's grasp once his lips left her fingers and he began to lower their hands.
"Goodnight, sir," Rachel said coyly before turning and walking away.
Finn watched her walk away and noticed that she turned to look back over her shoulder. Their eyes met for a moment and they both blushed deeply again at getting caught staring. The crowd around them began to thin and Sam brought Finn back to the world.
"We should go. The fair is closing soon."
Finn looked down at Sam and nodded. "Let's go."
As Finn laid in bed at their hotel, all that was on his mind was Rachel Berry. He knew it was foolish to entertain fantasies of him and Rachel together when he knew it would never work out. They weren't from the same world and he was technically courting Quinn back home. His mother had even already given him her engagement ring to give to Quinn. There was literally nothing standing his way of asking her to become his wife. Her father had even hinted at the possibility of him essentially taking Quinn as his wife. But for some reason Finn just couldn't bring himself to ask even though he knew it was what he should do.
He spent hours attempting to fall asleep until finally the images of Rachel subsided and he only saw darkness until the dreams started. Visions of Rachel, Quinn, the farm, and brilliantly blinding lights danced in his head all night keeping him restless and tossing and turning. Usually one to sleep easily and very much like a log, the next morning when he awoke from the sorry night of sleep, it showed in his features.
"Good morning, sunshine. How did you sleep?" Sam teased with a grin when Finn sat up and saw him getting dressed. "So who was the bride? Miss Fabray or Miss Berry?"
Apparently Finn had been talking in his sleep again. He just glared at his friend. "Just finish getting dressed, Samuel." Sam just snorted and returned to tying his tie in the mirror with a smirk. Finn ignored him as he got out of bed and went about starting his day.
Though he wasn't a rich man, Finn had a decent suit and had brought it with him to wear to the Exposition when he learned that the President would be in attendance. He may only meet him for a moment, or not at all even, but if he was going to be meeting the leader of their country he was going to be well dressed. It wasn't an everyday occurrence. After meeting Rachel however, he was rather glad he had thought to wear his nicest, most impressive, suit.
As he stared at his reflection, Finn's eyes raked over every inch of himself to make sure he looked good. His striped black trousers were creased front and back, his white dress shirt and vest stood out against his black coat and his black and white spotted tie was tied comfortably around his neck. He had never seen himself look so professional outside of when it was necessary to go to town looking presentable for any business regarding the farm. Might he even say, he looked dashing.
When he and Sam were finally dressed and ready to go, they left their room in search of breakfast. As they ate, Sam asked what they might tackle while at the fair that day. "We have yet to make it to the New York State building. We could always see what's in there?"
"What is in there?" Finn asked, taking a bite out of his bread.
"I'm going to say information about New York State," Sam replied pensively. "And we should make our way to the Electricity Building. I think it would be interesting to learn about how they are powering this entire thing. There are a lot of light bulbs on those buildings."
"I was thinking of going back to the Temple of Music."
Sam stared at him over his glass of water. "I doubt your lady is going to be waiting there for you. We came here for the fair. We should actually go to the fair."
"I will be at the fair. Just a very specific location inside it. Weren't you the one yesterday who wanted to find some ladies to escort?"
"Yes, but I'm not pining after one that's completely unattainable."
Finn stewed as he played with his bowler hat, smoothing out the rounded top. "Are you almost finished? The fair will be opening soon."
Sam shook his head but the pair left for the fair without another word on the subject. When they arrived, Sam coerced Finn into going to the New York State building with him. As they walked around the Greek Parthenon inspired structure, Sam rattled off facts he had learned about the building.
"This is the only structure that will remain standing once the fair is over. It's an absolutely gorgeous building." He examined the marble floor then lifted his head to look at the high ceiling. Though it was fairly early there were quite a few people milling around the building including a familiar face on the second floor.
A smile stretched across Finn's face as he stared up at the lovely woman walking slowly along the walkway with a friend. She wore a large pink hat with feathers and ribbons all over it and he could see her dress matched. When she laughed it rang throughout the building and he could swear he had never heard a more beautiful sound.
Leaving Sam talking to himself, Finn found a staircase to the second floor and came up behind the beautiful woman he couldn't get out of his mind. "Good morning, Miss Berry," he said in greeting, a smile growing on his face. The women both turned to face him and Rachel's face glowed as she smiled brightly at Finn.
"Good morning, sir. What a pleasant surprise," she replied. "Coming to learn about New York State?"
Finn shrugged a little. "Mostly just here admiring the beauty." He wondered if Rachel understood what he really meant.
"I see." She blushed like she did. "I do love the view from the back steps. It's part of why I come here every morning."
"I have yet to see the view. We've only just arrived. Sam has been more interested in the marble of the floors." He happened to glance over the railing to find Sam below looking around, searching for him with a puzzled look on his face. Finn couldn't help but chuckle.
"Sam?" Rachel asked.
"Oh, yes. My friend, Sam Evans. He's just below us; the one with blonde hair and a confused look. I may have forgotten to mention I was coming upstairs." Finn rubbed the back of his head jostling his hat before taking it off completely and reaffixing it.
"Curious, that I should know more about your friend than you as we've spoken more. I'm afraid I still don't know your name."
Realization hit Finn and he scrambled to remove his hat and bow his head lightly. "Finn Hudson, miss."
"Rachel Berry. It's a pleasure to officially meet you." Rachel chuckled until a throat clearing caught her attention. She turned toward her friend who was waiting impatiently next to her. The woman was blonde and quite lovely in her blue high necked dress and large matching feathered hat. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Brittany. Mr. Hudson, this is my good friend, Brittany Pierce."
"Nice to meet you," Finn greeted taking Brittany's hand and shaking it, flashing her a smile.
"Brittany and I were just about to enter the fair. Would you and your friend care to join us?" Rachel offered, biting her lip a little.
"That sounds like a great idea. Would you care to lead the way? I haven't been here that long."
"Certainly." Rachel took the arm Finn offered her and they both walked to the staircase to go back to the first floor, Brittany following behind.
As they descended to the first floor in the open area where Sam was still searching, Finn managed to catch his attention, calming his friend's growing worry. "I was wondering where you had gone off to. Now I see why you left me. Good morning, Miss Berry." Sam nodded at Rachel and she did the same.
"Sam, would you mind escorting Miss Pierce today? It seems her previous escort went on a gondola ride and never returned. Is that right?" Finn was still uncertain of Brittany's story as to where Seamus, her companion the day before, had disappeared to.
Brittany bowed her head in shame. "He took his bell off and I lost him."
Everyone else wore varying looks of confusion until Rachel pressed on. "Well, now Mr. Evans would be more than happy to see you around the Exposition today, I'm sure. He probably won't even need the bell."
Sam shook his head. "My sense of direction is pretty astute if I do say so myself."
Finn snorted. "You got lost in the corn field just a few weeks ago."
"There weren't any directional signs and not all of us can be abnormally gigantic."
"Well, there are plenty of buildings here housing new science of the day. Perhaps they have something that will make you taller." Finn patted Sam on the head condescendingly before Sam swatted his hand away. Finn chuckled then just led Rachel toward the back exit of the building, Sam and Brittany walking together behind them.
As they stepped outside in the warmth of the late summer morning, Finn was awed by the scene. Rachel had been right about it. The lake lying before them looked beautiful and there was nothing obstructing the view of the electric fountain and the rose gardens. Though it lacked the magnificence of all the electric light bulbs from the night prior, the architecture and flora around them was simply stunning.
"Shall we?" Rachel asked, beaming up at Finn and making him grow even more excited for the day ahead. It would be his first full day at the Exposition and certainly one he would never forget.
By midday, they had already toured several of the buildings on the grounds and learned quite a bit about agriculture – which actually came in quite handy for Finn as he was in charge of the farm his father had left him – other cultures at the Ethnology building, machinery and transportation, horticulture, dairy production, art, as well as electricity and how Niagara Falls was powering every electric machine and light bulb at the Expo from 25 miles away. They had even stopped in the two candy shops on the grounds. When it was time for lunch, the group ventured to the Midway where there were all sorts of exotic cuisines Finn had never experienced.
"I've never had Japanese before. It's not exactly popular in Lima." Finn assessed the menu not sure if his palate was ready for something so foreign.
"We should try it. I had the Italian for dinner yesterday and it was quite delicious though nothing compares to my grandmother's sauce. She is a true Italian magician in the kitchen." Rachel giggled as she stepped into the line for the sit down Japanese restaurant – Fair Japan.
Finn looked at Sam who seemed more interested in getting to know Miss Pierce than where they would be having lunch. He turned back to Rachel who was peering around the line at the lovely Japanese garden they were standing in. "I suppose something new wouldn't hurt."
Once the four were seated, Finn took it upon himself to really get to know Rachel better. "So, Miss Berry, how did you come to be an Italian opera singer? It's a rather bold profession."
"Well, it has always been my dream to be a singer. My parents raised me on music. They moved to the United States when I was four from Tuscany and my father opened a music store in Manhattan fixing instruments as that is his craft. My mother, aside from raising me, gave me singing lessons in Italian as she didn't understand English yet. When I was old enough I created a stage name and I auditioned for any production I could find in New York and was cast in a few musicals. I trained my voice and I found I really loved Italian operas. Then I came across this opportunity and I couldn't pass it up. It was a chance to travel and I had never been outside of New York City before. I'm here with a troupe of actors actually. Some nights I perform on my own and other nights we do little Vaudevillian skits. That's how I know Brittany."
Finn and Rachel turned to look at Brittany who was sitting a little closer to Sam than good propriety would suggest. Rachel 'accidentally' kicked Brittany under the table gaining her attention. "Ow, Rachel, that hurt."
"Perhaps if you moved over a pinch, my foot wouldn't have slipped and hit you." The hint was strong in her voice but Brittany either didn't seem to catch it or just didn't care. She remained rather close to Sam, running her finger along his jaw seductively.
Rachel huffed and went back to Finn, ignoring her friend. "How about yourself Mr. Hudson? You said you were from Lima?" Rachel sipped on her water.
"Yes. Lima, Ohio."
"And you own a farm?"
Finn nodded. "My father left it to me after he died when I was a baby. Until I was old enough my uncle ran it. We grow corn…a lot of corn. And we have some cows so we always have fresh milk. I love milk."
"I love cows! Sometimes I go over to the livestock area to visit with them. They certainly love to chew. I lost a hat to one." Rachel pouted a little, her eyebrows scrunching together as she dwelled on the lost hat.
"Our cows are fairly nice. It's not as fanciful as being an actress but it gets us by."
"Do you not enjoy being a farmer?"
Finn took a moment to think about his answer even though he knew what it was before she asked. He honestly hated being a farmer. The only reason he stayed with it was for his mother and he really had nowhere else to go. His entire life was on that farm and in that town.
"It isn't my passion but it's what I do."
"Well, you shouldn't do anything you aren't passionate about."
He shrugged, confidence leaving his body at the thought of leaving what he knew. "I can't just pick up and leave. I have responsibilities. Not everyone gets to live out their dreams."
"What are your dreams?" Rachel stared at him softly, trying to catch his downcast eyes.
The question caught Finn off guard. No one had ever asked what his dreams were before. Not even his mother or Quinn. "I'm not sure. I've never really thought about it before."
"You should. I know it might be hard, but if you're really determined enough, you can make anything happen. There's no reason to stay in a situation you aren't happy with, Finn," she placed her hand on his arm before realizing what she was doing, "I mean…Mr. Hudson." She removed her hand and Finn instantly missed the contact. He smiled softly at her but before either could speak again their food arrived.
They were relatively silent throughout their meal and once finished the group found themselves splitting up.
"I think I'll see you back at the room later. Brittany is going to show me around for a while." The tone Sam used and the gleam in his eye, as well as how innocent Brittany was attempting to look behind them, told Finn otherwise. He had a feeling, for Sam anyway, that the Expo was shaping up to be a brothel.
"Have fun, I guess. I will see you later." Finn waved goodbye and Rachel spoke quietly to Brittany apparently trying to argue without making it look like an argument. It appeared Rachel lost. As she walked back to Finn to take his arm and walk down the Midway, she seemed upset. "Is everything alright?"
"It's just Brittany being Brittany. One day the man she takes back to her room with her won't be very discreet and everyone will know about her amorous activities. She isn't exactly known in the troupe for her chastity."
Finn wasn't sure how to respond to that. He knew that some women were alright with premarital intercourse despite their reputations but none that he knew personally. Quinn would rather die than go beyond a possible kissing session before marriage. He wondered idly how far Rachel would go before chastising himself for thinking such a thing. She was a lady and she wouldn't allow just anyone into her bed.
"So, where shall we go next?" Rachel asked, looking up into Finn's face.
"W-well, the President is supposed to be meeting people today. We could get in line for that?"
"We don't need a line. I'll be allowed into the Temple of Music early because later tonight after the President is done we'll be putting on a show. Ooh, we could go on the Aeriocycle! We'll be able to see the entire Expo from it." Rachel pulled him along the midway to the large metallic structure. It was like a ferris wheel yet more like a see-saw.
As they sat in the car, Finn found his heart racing as Rachel leaned her head against his shoulder. He had only met the woman the night prior yet he felt like he had known her forever. She was easy to talk to and didn't belittle him like Quinn often did. In fact, she tried to make him feel good about himself. While they sat up in that little car away from the world he could really picture being with Rachel. Unfortunately when the wheel came back down, the world came with it and he was thrust back into his reality.
Finn allowed Rachel to drag him to the Bazaar Building where they could find souvenirs from the fair and goods from around the world. While Rachel was intrigued and fascinated by the silks and jewelry and other crafts, Finn was amazed by her. Everyone she met she spoke to with poise and confidence yet didn't look down her nose at them like Quinn often did. He found himself comparing her to Quinn a lot but enjoying the vast differences in their character he was finding.
Until they finally made their way back to the Temple of Music and Finn started to meet Rachel's troupe members, she never acted differently. It was when he was introduced to one Sugar Motta that Rachel's claws came out.
"I'm Sugar Motta and you are?" she asked in a sultry voice as she put her hand out for Finn to take. She seemed disappointed when he only shook it.
"And what is a handsome man such as yourself doing with Rachel?" She glared daggers at Rachel.
"A better question is why aren't you preparing yourself for the show tonight? You need all the practice you can get. Even the animals think so." Rachel was rather tense as she spoke to the other woman.
"I'm meeting the President. You should really focus on preparing for your show. Doesn't it take you two hours to get all your rolls into the corset?"
Rachel gasped in indignation and had she less dignity she would have answered her question with a slap to the face. "Just watch that the curtain doesn't fall on you again tonight." The women narrowed their eyes at each other before offering tight smiles. Sugar sauntered away offering Finn a little wave in departure. Rachel turned back to Finn looking mortified. "I apologize…"
Finn put his hand up to stop her. "It's alright."
"No, it isn't. I should behave more like a lady and disagree with my eyes and not my harsh words. Sugar doesn't even warrant words."
"What exactly does she do in your troupe?"
"Her father funds it in exchange for letting her be a part of it despite her severe lack of talent."
"I'm surprised she would be interested in acting. She seems the type to marry a millionaire."
"Her father hasn't been very successful in finding a suitor to marry her off to yet. Everyone thus far has found her quite grating and…unpleasant. We only put up with her for the money as horrible as that sounds."
"Sometimes some people are just intolerable."
Though he knew he shouldn't, Finn couldn't stop as the words fell from his mouth. "What about you? Has your father found a suitable…suitor?" He scratched his head and Rachel looked a little stunned at his directness. "I'm sorry. That was out of line."
"No…no, it's quite alright." She wrung her hands together and stared at the floor, her hat covered her face so Finn could no longer see her expression. "I have yet to find anyone special. There was one man who had begun courting me but he found a better offer."
Finn's face fell as he could feel her pain at having essentially been tossed aside like garbage. "It's his loss." Rachel looked up at him and gave him a weak smile.
She cleared her throat of the tears that were brimming and smiled broader. "Come. We should get ready to meet President McKinley." She took his arm again and led him out from backstage to the large central area where the President's stand was set up. He wasn't out yet but some people were already waiting around to meet him.
According to the security man Finn spoke with, President McKinley would only be able to greet for about ten minutes before leaving to meet with his wife who had returned to the home they were staying at as she felt ill. When the general public was finished the performers would be able to greet him quickly before he would exit. Finn and Rachel stood with the bystanders as President McKinley entered the building dressed to the nines. He seemed in good spirits as he spoke to his men to allow the doors to open.
People flowed into the building, the excitement palpable. Finn grinned down at Rachel. "I've never been to an event this big before."
"Me neither. Anything to do with the President is a huge honor." Rachel's smile shone from ear to ear as she held Finn's arm and waited.
As the procession proceeded, McKinley shaking hundreds of hands in a matter of minutes, Finn listened to the organist playing in the background. He wasn't sure of the tune but he knew he had heard it before. His mind drifted to Rachel's performance and how he hoped he would be able to sit closer that evening until some laughing caught his attention.
"Why is everyone laughing?"
"President McKinley just gave a little girl his lapel flower. It was very cute."
Finn watched in ease alongside Rachel as a few more people shook hands with the President until two loud bangs resounded throughout the Temple. The President lurched forward until a scuffle started between multiple men directly in front of the President. McKinley stumbled back but didn't fall as some men caught him before he could.
From there the Temple exploded into panic with men piling onto each other and others rubbernecking while most began running around like chickens with their heads cut off searching for an exit. Finn looked down at Rachel whose face was masked in horror as she watched the men drag the President to a chair to examine him. Finn looked where her eyes fell and saw the blood coating his white vest. Suddenly it all made sense.
A man had shot the President.
Determined to get Rachel out of there and to safety away from the growing panic and fray to apprehend the shooter, Finn took Rachel in his arms and headed toward the stage and the back exit. Rachel seemed stiff and paralyzed in fear against his body as he tried to make her move but her legs didn't work as he pulled her along. Her shoe caught on a chair that had ended up in the large crowd trying to get out and she fell to the ground and out of Finn's grasp.
Rachel started screaming as Finn saw a woman's heel step directly on Rachel's hand. She tucked into herself as best she could with her large dress, losing her hat and getting kicked and tripped over as he fought the crowd to get back to her. People were pushing and pulling in every direction, it was nearly impossible to move.
Sensing it would be thinner below, Finn dropped to his hands and knees to maneuver through the crowd's legs calling Rachel's name the entire time. His voice was drowned in the screams.
"Rachel!" he shouted before swearing as a shoe stomped on his fingers. He shook it out then ignored the dull ache as he weaved between suit pants and petticoats. "Rachel!" He saw her lift her head to look at him just in time to watch her get kicked in the face and knocked out. Finn yelled louder and pushed at whatever was in his way until he got back to Rachel.
Finally he made it to her limp body and held her in his arms. He ran his hands over her features, trying to determine if she were still alive. His hand brushed under her nose and he could feel her breath on his fingers telling him she was still breathing. Finn sighed in relief before holding Rachel close to him, her head lolling on his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her body, getting to his feet against the force of the crowd.
Once upright again, he followed the flow of the crowd outside and didn't stop walking until he had gotten Rachel over to the hospital on the grounds. The nurses and interns in the place were scrambling as the President had been brought in to be operated on. Finn laid Rachel out on a bench and went to find someone, anyone, who could check her head and make sure she would be alright. He tried capturing the attention of numerous people running about but no one cared with the drama surrounding the President looming. He happened to look back at Rachel and saw that she was stirring.
Finn rushed back to Rachel's side and took her hand in his. "Rachel, are you alright?"
She blinked a few times before looking around. "Where are we? What happened?"
"We're at the hospital on the grounds. You were knocked out while you were on the floor."
Rachel's eyes widened and began to tear up as she remembered what had happened. "President McKinley was shot." Finn nodded solemnly. "Is he alive? What happened to him?"
Finn rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. "I don't know. He's here in surgery which is why everyone is so preoccupied."
Rachel sat up and Finn steadied her as she held her head. Amazingly she wasn't bleeding but he hoped that there wasn't anything wrong from being knocked out. "I suppose this means the fair is closing for tonight." She bit her lip in worry and brushed away a tear that had fallen. "Can we leave?"
"I think someone should look at your head."
"My head is fine. I really just want to go home." She started crying harder and Finn shook his head as he helped Rachel to her feet.
He held her close the entire time he walked her to the residence her troupe was living in until the close of the Expo and she silently cried into his jacket. When they arrived back to the home the only people around were the maids. She declined their help however and insisted that Finn help her upstairs. He was the only person she felt comforted by and safe with at the moment.
Finn sat her down on the bed and brushed the loose pieces of hair that had fallen in her face out of the way as he knelt before her. "Are you going to be alright? Is there anyone you want me to find?" Rachel shook her head. "I don't think you should be alone right now."
Rachel looked up at him, her tears spilling over. "Could you stay with me? I know what the maids will think and that it is impertinent, but I don't want you to leave yet."
Finn nodded and got to his feet. The trauma of the events they had just experienced was hitting Rachel hard and she just needed a shoulder to lean on. He just happened to be the shoulder on hand.
Rachel laid out on the bed and turned away from him but he didn't miss her pat the bed next to her. His breathing became labored and his palms sweat terribly while his heart beat frantically. Finn had never laid with a woman in any sense of the word. At least not since he had stopped being afraid of the dark when he was seven and didn't ask his mother to sleep in her bed. But then she looked back at him with her red rimmed eyes filled with questions and no answers to give. He took off his coat and placed it on the chair before sitting on the bed and turning to face Rachel's back. Finn scooted closer and nervously put his arm around Rachel to hold her close.
She was intoxicating as he breathed her in. Even with the sweat from the heat of the day and the dirt from the shoes that had trampled her, Rachel still retained a sweet flowery scent and something else that seemed distinctly…Rachel. True he barely knew her, but he could sense that without any perfume Rachel would still smell incredibly delectable.
His eyes fell closed as he pulled Rachel tighter. Her hand slipped over his, their fingers entwining as she pulled their hands up to hold to her heart. Like his, Rachel's heartbeat seemed entirely too fast to be normal.
"I wish you weren't leaving tomorrow," Rachel mumbled as she tilted her head forward more.
"I wish I wasn't too."
"Will you write to me?"
Finn pushed himself up to look down at her face which was still not turned toward him. He gulped thickly. "I want to. I really do, but I don't think that would be a good idea."
Rachel looked at him finally. "Why not?"
He sat up realizing he was going to have to tell her about Quinn. Before now, Finn didn't think it would matter. He was never going to see Rachel again. He was going to go back to his life in Lima and act like the past day and a half were just a really vivid and beautiful dream.
Finn turned away from Rachel. "I haven't been entirely honest about my…" he ran his hand through his hair, "I've been courting a girl back home. I'm supposed to marry her whenever I finally get around to asking her." Finn chanced a glance back at Rachel who had sat up. Her expression was fairly blank. "I'm sorry I didn't mention her before. It didn't seem important."
"Do you love her?"
Again he was caught off guard by her question. No one ever asked if he loved Quinn…not even Quinn. Everyone treated the marriage like a business deal. It was a good match that worked for everyone on paper, but no one bothered to ask if he or Quinn were happy with it. It was just assumed that they were.
Finn shook his head. "Not at all."
"Then why would you ask her to marry you?"
"Marrying Quinn is one of my responsibilities. If I don't marry her…who else would I marry?"
"Someone you love?" Rachel said through a humorless laugh. "My parents were forced into an arranged marriage. They barely ever speak and both are terribly unhappy. The only thing they seem able to agree on is that when I do marry, it should be someone I love. You can compromise on so many things, but who you spend the rest of your life with shouldn't be one of them."
Finn shifted his body to look at Rachel head on. "That isn't the world we live in. It sounds great in theory, but I don't have that luxury. There are expectations I need to meet, people I have to take care of…I can't just ignore all that."
"Don't. But don't do what you don't want. If you don't want to marry Quinn, don't marry Quinn. If you don't want to be a farmer…sell the farmer and find something you do want. This is America; people come here for fresh starts all the time. It's why my parents came. Why can't the people from here have the same right?" Finn's face was scrunched together in thought as Rachel moved closer to him. "It's your life. You have only known me a matter of hours. What should my opinion matter? You just deserve to be happy. You are a good man, Finn."
Finn got lost in Rachel's eyes as he looked into her rich chocolate irises. She stared back at him through her lashes. Almost as if she were a magnet, Finn found himself leaning forward slowly as Rachel crept closer until their lips crashed against one another's.
All thought escaped Finn's brain as he hungrily meshed his lips to Rachel's and his hands found their way into her hair. Her hand came up to undo her bun as their mouths remained connected, letting her hair cascade down her back and over her shoulders. It was soft as Finn's hands fisted into it. He pulled away momentarily to look at Rachel whose lips were plump from their kiss, cheeks rosy with passion or embarrassment he wasn't sure. Before he could think straight again, Rachel pressed her lips back to his and gripped his head pulling him closer.
Their bodies pressed together as Rachel moved to her knees and tilted Finn's head back to continue kissing him. His eyes were wide as she caught him off guard with her force but as her tongue surprisingly slipped between his lips to coax his to press back, Finn relaxed and placed his hands on Rachel's back while his eyes slipped closed again. Finn used his own body to push Rachel back down onto the pillows and ran his hand around to her stomach while Rachel's hand continued to pull at his face and hair. She was almost sloppy with her need to have him, but Finn didn't much mind. It felt too good, too natural, to kiss Rachel. Almost like she were meant for him.
The thought jolted Finn out of the trance she had over him and he pulled away getting off the bed. He straightened out his tie and shirt, ran his hands through his hair and started for his coat.
"Where are you going?" Rachel asked, concern in her watery voice.
"This isn't right, Rachel. You deserve better than this."
"But you…" She seemed speechless as her eyes began to fill with tears again, her breathing very heavy. "You have feelings for me too, don't you?"
Finn knelt next to her and took her hand, kissing the back of it. "I do, Rachel. Which is why we can't do this. It wouldn't be right."
Rachel just stared at him not understanding. "How is it wrong when we both want it?"
"I'm sorry, Rachel. I have to leave." Finn kissed her hand once more before placing it back in her lap and getting up to leave. He heard Rachel release a sob as he exited her bedroom, closing the door behind him. A maid happening to walk by seemed startled by his sudden presence. "Please make sure she's alright. Miss Berry took a heavy hit to her head today." The maid looked surprised but nodded, giving him her word. He ventured to the front door, thoughts swirling in his head.
If he really wanted to be with Rachel, and the right way, he needed to take care of a few things first.
Nearly two months later on November 2nd, the last day of the fair, Finn found himself back on a train to Buffalo hoping against hope that Rachel was still with her troupe. He hadn't been able to get her out of his mind since he walked out of her bedroom so many weeks before. So he had taken her advice. It hadn't been easy but he had managed to convince his uncle to take over the farm again and if he so chose, he could sell it so long as he gave his mother what she was owed. He still had to take care of her. Plus, he would send back a portion of whatever wages he would earn to help support her.
Finn still didn't know what he wanted to do in New York, but he did know he didn't want to be a farmer and he didn't want to marry Quinn. Rachel had really left an impression on him and he really hoped he'd left one on her. Finn just prayed that he hadn't burnt the bridge they had built that day weeks ago.
After leaving all his possessions he had been able to bring with him at his hotel, Finn found himself entering the fair through the Triumphal Bridge again. He quickly walked to the Temple of Music and found that Rachel was scheduled to sing in about twenty minutes. Finn found himself a seat closer to the stage than last time, taking a moment to notice the X on the floor labeling where McKinley had been assassinated, and he waited as patiently as possible to see the woman who had affected him so deeply again for the first time in months.
When the curtain opened he clapped along with audience and watched as Rachel walked out in a beautiful deep red dress somewhat similar to the black one he had first seen her in. Due to the blinding lights illuminating her, Finn had a feeling she couldn't see him but he could very clearly see her. She looked magnificent on the stage as she sang her heart out in Italian and Finn felt so much emotion in her performance.
As her last song came to an end and everyone stood up to applaud her glorious talent, the lights dimmed and Rachel looked directly at Finn. Her face turned to shock as their eyes connected until she collected herself and redirected her gaze to the rest of the crowd. Rachel curtsied and took a few steps back as the curtain closed. The house lights came on and Finn followed the crowd out of the building. When he made it outside, Rachel was found in the same spot she had been in the first time he had met her.
She noticed him immediately and tried to hide the bashful smirk and blush coloring her cheeks but Finn had easily seen it. Rachel was happy to see him despite how they left things. He got in the line to meet her and when it was his turn, he took Rachel's hand and kissed the back of it again. "Good evening, Miss Berry. Flawless performance as always."
"Thank you, sir."
"Are you sad the Exposition is closing?"
"I have very mixed feelings."
The person behind Finn in line cleared their throat obnoxiously. Finn gave them an apologetic smile. "Well, I hope you enjoyed your time here." He squeezed her hand again before releasing it and taking a step out of line.
Rachel continued greeting people until she was told it was time to go. She apologized to those she couldn't get to meet and told Finn to follow her with a head nod. He walked toward the West Amherst Gate behind her troupe and once outside, Rachel turned around to face Finn, a mixture of emotions on her lovely face.
"You left," she accused.
"I came back."
"I had a conversation with a very lovely young woman once. She told me I should do what I wanted. So I sorted out my responsibilities and took her advice." Finn shoved his hands in his coat pockets.
Rachel crossed her arms over her chest haughtily. "What about the farm and Quinn?"
"My uncle has taken control over the farm again. Sam is helping him run things and they're both looking after my mother. As for Quinn…I got a better offer."
Rachel looked like she wanted to smile but wouldn't allow herself the satisfaction. "I would be willing to bet Quinn was not happy."
Finn mashed his lips together. "Actually, she seemed rather relieved. She has apparently found another potential husband on her own. She did not take my leaving that poorly." This answer seemed to make Rachel feel a little better and she visibly relaxed.
"Why did you come here? You could have gone anywhere."
"You aren't just anywhere. You are here."
Rachel swallowed thickly and looked down at her gloved hands, wringing them together. Her hat covered her face. "You came here for me?"
Finn stepped closer and placed his hand under her chin to lift her face. "It may have only been a matter of hours, but in that time…I felt more for you than I had for any other person I have ever known. I want to get to know you better, Rachel. So yes, I came here for you. I'm sorry I left the way I did. I just wasn't sure what to say. I didn't know what I was doing until only a few weeks ago."
"Say that you'll stay with me and mean it this time."
"I'll stay with you." Finn smiled. "I swear it."
"Good." Rachel leaned up and pressed her lips gently against Finn's lips.
When they pulled away, the smirk remained on Finn's face. "I hope you don't mind. I took the liberty of getting myself a train ticket to New York City for tomorrow."
"I hope it will be the same one I will be on tomorrow."
Finn leaned closer, his lips mere millimeters from hers. "Good." He kissed her deeply, caring about nothing in the world but the feeling of her lips on his.
Interesting facts: Sadly, President McKinley died eight days after being shot from gangrene. There was an x-ray on site that could have been used to find the bullets in his body but no one wanted to use it because they thought it could do further damage. Then when they finally did attempt to use it, the machine malfunctioned.
Also, an ornery elephant by the name of Jumbo that killed its trainer at the Expo was electrocuted in the stadium on the grounds for entertainment but survived due to his thick skin. Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to the elephant after his electrocution.