I know that I'm still in the middle of I Love You For Sentimental Reasons, but I saw this prompt on the finchel-prompts Tumblr and thought I would run with it! I always like doing one-shots while I'm writing a multi-chapter fic anyway, so I hope you enjoy!
A/N: I found out that the NY Giants don't actually have a cheerleading squad, but I'm not a sports person, so I didn't know. So in this story, they do. It is an AU, after all. :)
"You did great, Rach," the stage manager told her with a clap on the back. Rachel turned over her shoulder and smiled, continuing to walk back into the hallway of the theatre, her bouquet in hand. She had been used to compliments by now; they didn't surprise her anymore once they had been given to her. She was a professional actress now, doing what she wanted to be doing. Although, that wasn't to say that when she was high school she was dreaming about living the life she currently lead. She was twenty five and there were no Tony awards over her fireplace mantle – in part because she had never starred in a Broadway show, and in part because she didn't live in an apartment that allowed for a fire place to fit. In her apartment, she was lucky enough to fit her hot plate on the counter when it wasn't being cluttered with overdue bills and the bag of cat food that she didn't know where to put anywhere else.
It wasn't like Rachel had been doing that bad. She had gone to school in New York just like she wanted to back in high school; finishing her four years at Tisch while studying musical theatre. It was where she had met her roommate at the time and best friend, Santana Lopez It was the work afterwards when everything began to be more difficult. Her dads had helped her with her first apartment once she was finished with college, but she was off on her own from that point, having to find her own source of money as she tried to make her way through the craziness that was establishing a career in New York. She worked as a waitress for a while, but after snapping at a customer while she began to get into one of her 'Why Veganism Is the Answer: Saving the Lives of Helpless Animals' speeches , she had been fired. Then she tried working in the shoe department at Macy's, but after she realized that she was going to be paid by commission, she had to stop. Rachel Berry wasn't a saleswoman. She was an actress, but not a saleswoman.
And then came the opportunities she was waiting for. She had a casting agency that she belonged to, and for once it seemed like they had actually been doing the job she paid them to do – finding her job opportunities. The first was an off-off-Broadway production of The Miracle Worker, which she had auditioned for and had even made a callback for, but had later not been casted in. It upset her, of course. Every one of her friends from high school and college were off finding jobs and being successful, and she wasn't. Santana, who had found a job as a paralegal, was even making extra money on the side – much more extra money. She was a cheerleader for the New York Giants – Rachel knew because each Sunday she would turn on her TV and see Santana waving her pompoms at the camera smiling ridiculously wide.
Rachel's moment finally came – she was in an off-off-Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank as Margot, and it paid well for what she was doing. It was a credit that she got to add to her resume and she was given the opportunity to work with so many talented and experienced actors – even the young girl playing Anne Frank was better off than her, already having starred in Barbie commercials and after school specials that Rachel had recognized her from. It garnered her a review in the New York Post in the Theatre section, the reviewer calling "Ms. Berry's performance of Margot very honest and believable." She had clipped the article from the newspaper and hung it from one of the cabinets in her apartment, smiling at it each time she opened a door to the cabinet to grab a bowl or a plate. Things seemed like they were looking up for little Rachel Berry from Lima, Ohio.
Her final performance had been tonight. She had been performing in a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the role of Janet Weiss, an off-off-Broadway production that had been performing just for the Halloween season. It paid the bills better than any other job, and the show was a hit – they had even talked about extending the run, taking to off-Broadway instead of staying where it was, which would come with more money and more recognition, naturally.
However, Rachel wasn't going to be cast in the upcoming production. The director had another actress in mind, and had politely excused Rachel from the cast a week before. It was upsetting, causing her not to know where she would find her next job. Maybe she could start doing commercials. Her dads always said that she had a smile for toothpaste commercials.
By the time Rachel had gotten back to the shared dressing room the girls in the cast all used, she had already managed to unpin the itchy blonde wig she wore for all of her performances, releasing her own hair from the sticky bun in had been in, long, dark waves cascading down her shoulders. She probably looked like a sight for sore eyes, complete with her stage makeup on and walking around in nothing but the white bra and underwear set she's been given for a costume. She's glad nearly all of the men in the cast are gay and don't care about the girls that walk around almost stark naked backstage some nights. Rachel wasn't one of them, of course, but she had befriended some of the girls that did. She loved the cast of this show to pieces, and she was already more than upset over the fact that she had to leave them soon. Most of them were leaving as well, and it was that same familiar feeling of leaving a cast after a run had ended. That warm, bittersweet churning in the pit of her stomach that didn't want to leave no matter what she tried to do.
"It was a great show tonight, guys," one of the girls piped as she stepped out of her fishnets and rolled them into a tight ball. "I'm going to miss everyone so much." A blonde girl in the chorus rolled her eyes and turned around, having another girl assist her with unlacing her corset.
"Oh please," she sighed, looking over at Rachel as she walked in through the door. "You're not going to miss anyone one of us. You're sleeping with the director." The girl with the fishnets shrugged and the gaggle of girls all began to laugh, smiling at Rachel as she walked into the room and closed the door behind her. It was true; the girl that had spoken was sleeping with the director. Rachel had vowed never to let herself fall down to the level of sleeping with someone in order to get ahead in her career. It ruined your reputation and word got around fast that you'd be more than willing to do something salacious just to end up the chorus of the latest flop musical.
"Hi, Rachel," a handful of the girls said as she walked in, the brunette smiling brightly and waving with her hand that had the wig in it. She made her way over to the counter and placed the blonde mess on the wig head, combing her fingers through her own hair as she looked into the lit mirror. "What are your plans once we're all done?"
Rachel looked at the reflections of the girls in the mirror, smiling at them slightly. "I don't know," she says softly, peeling her fake eyelashes off and setting them back down in the box she brought them in. "I might wait a while until I find my next job."
One of the girls gasped. She reminds Rachel of what she was like in high school – intelligent, confident, dedicated. "You know, the Broadway season starts up again soon. Auditions are starting, and someone like you, Rachel – you'd be perfect in any show. You don't need to stay here in off-off-Broadway land." Rachel smiled and turned around to face the girl that's speaking to her. The other girls didn't seem to pay too much attention, but this one girl looked at her like she was the entire world.
Rachel knew that there were tons of opportunities for her to actually go out and make something of herself. They were rumors of a reviSan of the hit musical RENT, and Rachel knew that it was something she could see herself in the cast of, dancing on tables and kissing girls and acting like a complete fool, but all of the love of what she loves to do the most. Too many musicals exist, it seems. For all of the opportunities she had in high school, coming to New York just magnified everything for her. She had made a wish list and showed it Santana one day on a Skype date, which only caused the Latina to roll her eyes and laugh at Rachel's ambition.
"I'll have to think about it," she said, unhooking her bra and stripping herself in front of the girls. The group has built up such an immunity to seeing each other naked that no one says anything. Rachel, however, chose to remain modest and still covered herself as best she could, not wanting to flash everyone in the room. "I expect all of you to be there, though. When I finally win my Tony award."
No one responded.
Finding jobs was harder than she thought it would be. Rachel didn't know what else to do – she had tried sifting through the classifieds, even asking people she knew if there were any job opening for anything, anywhere in the city.
"Santana?" She asked into the phone. It was her last resort.
"Hi, Rach. How was your last show?" Santana wasn't able to come and see it, due to her busy touring schedule. With being a cheerleader came traveling across the country, shaking pompoms and waving her ass in front of millions each Sunday and Monday. It wasn't that Santana minded. All she did in college was go to parties and hook up with people. Santana had no shame; Rachel did. It was one of the biggest differences between them.
"Fine," she said, smiling into the phone a bit. "It went really well. And the guy playing Rocky was gay, so I wasn't too worried about him grabbing my boobs and stuff." Santana laughed. When Rachel had first told Santana about her being cast in Rocky Horror, she was worried about running around on stage in her underwear and having someone that wasn't her boyfriend actually touch her, but she had seemed to had gotten over everything.
"Listen, San, I have a favor to ask you…"
"I need a job."
Santana sighed painfully. "You don't have any other auditions coming up?"
"I do, I just… I want a change of scenery. Do you think I could-"
"We have a couple extra spots open on the team," Santana admitted, drumming her fingers against the table she was leaning on. "I could ask around, probably see if you'd fit into the uniforms… what dress size are you again?"
"Yeah, I think you'd fit perfectly into one of the uniforms… they'd have to hem the skirt, but whatever. Let me ask, Rach. I'm sure I could get you a job. You danced all through high school, right?"
Rachel nodded, and the forgot that she was on the phone. "Yeah," she said, almost proudly. "Nineteen years."
"You'll be fine," Santana said. "You're cute, and you can dance, and it's not that much dancing, either. Just pompom shaking and smiling and ass waving. Not to mention all of the hot football players to spend time with."
Rachel swallowed nervously and blinked once. "I'm not going to date a football player," she said confidently. "I wouldn't want to get involved with a sports player. I'm not one of the Kardashians."
Rachel stood in the lineup of girls, each one looking more artificial and plastic than the next. The one on her left was blonde haired and blue eyed with boobs that looked like the surgeon had just finished working on them, and the one on her right looked exactly the same, only with brown hair instead of blonde. Rachel stood there in the middle, her boobs barely visible through her shirt and her hair swept up into a ponytail. Each one of the girls looked like they're perfect little carbon copies with plastic surgeoned faces into oblivion. Rachel had just finished getting over her nose insecurities.
A young man with a judgmental look on his face stared at each of them, scrutinizing each little asset of them as he stood in front of them. He paused in front of Rachel, tapping a finger against his chin.
"How long have you been dancing for?" He asked her, his scarf becoming slightly unsettled around his neck.
"N-nineteen years," she stammered, palms clammy. The other two girls looked like living, breathing toothpaste commercials next to her, and she just looked like little Rachel Berry again. Little Rachel Berry from Lima who had no business being a cheerleader for the NFL.
"You did extremely well on the combination," the man says plainly. "And you do have… a certain look about you. Almost like Judy Garland meets Barbra Streisand. I like it." Rachel's eyes lit up at the mention of the two musical icons; clearly she would have something to talk about with this man if she were to get this job. That, and she'd never been compared to either of those women before; two of her idols. It was rather flattering.
As she stood between the two robots, Rachel noticed a figure walking from the hallway into the dance studio. He was sweaty and she could see the familiar v from a workout darkened across his chest, his hands holding a white towel around his neck. He was really tall, and he had these hands – they were so big. Probably bigger than anyone else's hands.
"Oh, hi, Finn," the young choreographer said, turning to face him as he walked in. He was like a giant, panting slightly. Rachel figured that he had just come from the weight room on the training facility, because he looked worked and tired. "Look, I'm trying to decide on these girls for the spot we need on the cheerleading team. The flyer." Rachel smiled softly at the man as he looked at her, noting the small smile on his face. She figured it was just because he was standing in a room full of gorgeous girls with balloons for boobs and hot air in their heads. He had freckles on his face and he was really attractive, and she was doing everything she could to not make it obvious that she was looking at him.
"The small one," he said quietly, but not quietly enough so that Rachel wasn't able to hear it. "I mean you're looking for a flyer, right? She's tiny." And then he went on to say something else, but Rachel was unable to hear it. She had perfected eavesdropping on criticisms since high school; it was a crucial skill to have during audition and callback processes.
And before she knew it, tall and handsome football player had left, leaving the smaller choreographer in the room with the girls again. "You," he said, gesturing towards Rachel. "Twenty four. The rest of you are dismissed, thank you." The girls all left, disgusted and mumbling things about how the girl they had selected was 'too short' or how 'their routine was so much better.'
"You did good," the choreographer told Rachel after the final blonde had left the studio. Rachel looked at him sheepishly, afraid of what to say. "I'm Kurt, by the way." He extended his hand and she took it, shaking it. "Oh, and that guy that came in was my stepbrother, believe it or not. He's one of the rookie players for the Giants this year." Rachel smiled sweetly, thinking back on the man that had walked in fondly. "But anyway, congrats. You did a great job, really."
"Thanks so much," she said, beaming. "I really needed this job."
And she did need the job. She'll need to find Santana and take her out to dinner.
Practices began right away, it seemed. Santana took Rachel under her wing immediately, avoiding the looks of snarky girls who immediately hated her for being on the top of the pyramid from her first day at practice. She couldn't help it; Rachel was tiny and weighed next to nothing. She felt like these were the problems cheerleaders in high school faced, not professional ones.
"All of these girls are still stuck in high school," Santana reminded her one afternoon. Her eyes fell on one of the blonde girls who Rachel had met earlier, one that was a bit more doltish than the others. "Well, except Brittany." Santana looked over at her longingly for a second, causing Rachel's eyes to widen.
"What, do you like her or something?"
"What, am I not allowed to like people?" Santana retorted, hitting Rachel in the gut slightly. "Besides, it's not like I'm the only one who's been staring at people lately." Santana pointed across the football field and let her finger point towards the figure running across the field, hopping between tires that had been placed on the field. "Green Giant over there has had his eye on you from the moment you got here."
"No he hasn't," Rachel said, shrugging it off. Santana was pointing at Finn, Kurt's brother and the guy that had picked her from the group of Barbie dolls to be on the cheerleading squad. She can't help but admire him, in a way. "I haven't even talked to him. Besides, I told you already. I'm not going to date a football player. I won't even date the water boy."
She didn't notice Finn Hudson, all decked out in his shoulder pads and practice uniform running towards her from behind. "Well, don't speak too soon," Santana said snidely, tapping Rachel on the shoulder. "Because here comes your lover boy."
"Hey," Finn said, looking at Rachel. She wasn't wearing much since she was in her practice clothes; a black sports bra with spaghetti straps and red cotton shorts that were criminally short with little gold stars scattered over them. Her hair was thrown into a ponytail and she wasn't wearing any makeup, and yet he still wanted to talk to her. "You're the new girl, right?"
He looked perfect, the sun casting his enormous shadow down on her. Santana stepped to the side and noticed Rachel begin to babble on as he spoke to her.
"Finn, this is Rachel," Santana says, blowing her hair out of her eyes. Rachel watches Santana and does the same, adjusting her bangs so that they frame the side of her face. "She's my roommate from college, actually. Rach is a Broadway star."
"Not a Broadway star," Rachel corrects Santana numbly. "Off-Off-Broadway, but who's counting, right?" Finn laughs a bit, holding his hand out for her to shake it.
"I'm Finn," he says, smiling slightly. "My brother's just said really good things about you." He paused for a moment, looking at her. "You know, um, if you ever need any help finding your way around the stadium or training facility, just let me know, alright? I'd be more than happy to help. I'm the new guy too, so I know how you feel." Rachel smiled at him, and she knew that he didn't mean to hit on her when he spoke. If he did, at least he was doing a mighty fine job. "And in return, I'd like to hear you sing, Miss Broadway star," he said before walking away. "Hold me to it?"
Rachel just giggled like she was back in high school, smitten with the football quarterback. "Yeah," she managed to get out, blushing as she waved to him as he ran back onto the field. Santana looked at Rachel like she was crazy, causing the smaller brunette to look back at her. "What?"
"I don't want to say I told you so, but – you know, I do." She cackled viciously and wrapped her arm over Rachel's shoulder, the two of them heading back to the group of girls running through the last combination Kurt had given them to rehearse.
"Alright ladies, let's go," Santana called, cupping a hand around her mouth. "5, 6, 7, 8!"
Rachel was afraid when she was fitted for her uniform for the first time. She doesn't want to be unable to fill it like the other girls do in the – well, the chest area. She's always known that she didn't have much on top, but in comparison to the rest of the girls, Rachel looked like she hadn't even gone through puberty yet.
She was in the locker room when Brittany walked in one day, sipping from her water bottle. She had seemed like one of the nicer girls on the squad, so Rachel had chosen to ask her about it. It wasn't like she had any problems with filling her top; she had plenty of boobs to go around. It was no wonder Santana thought she was hot.
"Hey," the blonde said with a smile, glowing in her uniform. It fit her to a tee, each sequin glittering in the correct facet and her makeup and hair wonderful, causing her to look like some kind of skimpy, sparkly disco ball. "I forgot my pompoms… why aren't you dressed?" Rachel was still standing in the locker room, skirt and shoes on and hair and makeup done. The only difference between her and Brittany was that she was wearing the tank top she had worn in to the stadium that day, and Brittany was already in her midriff.
"I'm not…" Rachel's voice trailed off, rolling her eyes slightly. "I'm afraid that I won't… fit into the top." Brittany guffawed and ducked down into her duffel, rooting through it until she pulled out two flesh colored things and tossed them at Rachel, the brunette trying to catch them in a frenzy.
"Pretend those are a bra and put them on," Brittany explained, picking up her pompoms and looking at Rachel with a smile. "They make you go up, like, two cup sizes." Rachel looked down at what she thought was her sorry excuse for a pair of boobs and smiled back at Brittany, her teeth gleaming.
"Thanks," she said grinning. "I'll see you out there."
"No problem," Brittany said, taking one last sip from her water bottle before setting it down on the bench. "Let me know if you need anything else. Have fun, Rachel!"
Rachel watched as Brittany jogged out through the vestibule onto the field, making her smile. Maybe Santana was right. Maybe not all of the girls on the squad were complete assholes.
The roar of the crowd that filled the stadium gave Rachel a high she had never experienced before. She was a born performer, but performing a song in front of people that were ready for art and culture was far different than performing in front of a mainly drunk crowd of sports fans who would cheer at no matter what happened. She flashed a quick smile at Santana before she took her formation and Santana managed to shoot her a smile back, waving her pompoms all the while. She had already explained to Rachel that she needed to shake her pompoms constantly. If her wrists felt like they were going to fall off by the time halftime came around, she was doing it right.
There wasn't much else she could do besides smile and wave at the cameras when they passed her by before commercial breaks. The most intense thing she did was her jump into the herkie when she was atop the pyramid, but that was it. All of the flips and turns and aerials were left to Brittany and the rest of the girls that seemed to act like they were lighter than air. She had her smile plastered to her face the whole time, just like Kurt had told her to, and she felt proud. She was working a job and she was performing, in an essence. It was perfect.
Halftime happened and she performed the routine with the mascot, who was performed by a boy who's name she couldn't remember, but he had a mop of blonde hair and big lips that Santana laughed about which caused her to call him Trouty Mouth, to which Rachel just rolled her eyes and tried not to laugh at – but she couldn't help it, because it was slightly true. He was awfully nice though, which was what made her feel bad about it.
"You were great," a football player said from the bench as Rachel ran off the field, shaking her pompoms in the air above her head as she was out of breath. Rachel looked to see where the voice was coming from, as it was hard to tell with all of the boys wearing their football helmets, shielding their face from the girls and the rest of the stadium.
"It's me, Finn. You just did really, really good, that's all." She walked up further to him until she practically stood between his legs, feeling so small while she was in front of him, even while she was standing and he was sitting.
"Oh." Rachel lit up as she recognized his voice and his name. He has been awfully nice to her ever since she had gotten there. Always helping her find a place she was looking for when she got lost, giving her tips as to where to eat and at what time of day when she went out and what places actually had vegan options. She had tried to steal glances at his hands every once and a while, checking to make sure that he wasn't wearing a wedding ring. He wasn't. "Thanks. I hope they put you in the game. It would suck to just have to sit here your entire career, wouldn't it?"
"Yeah," Finn said, laughing a bit. He still kept his helmet on and Rachel smiled, looking at him sweetly. She noticed his eyes trained on her chest when she wasn't paying attention to where he was looking, and she felt her heart beat a bit faster. Whatever Brittany had given her as some kind of enhancement was working wonders for her already. "I'll see you around, Broadway."
She smiled as she heard the newly coined nickname he had given her. "You too, Rookie." She leaned down a bit to press a kiss to his helmet and ran off again with the rest of the girls, cheering and waving her pompoms wildly once more.
This time however, her heart wasn't racing because of how fast she was running – it was because of how much she had taken a liking to Finn Hudson.
"Brittany told me about the chicken cutlets," Santana says when she and Rachel are the only ones left in the locker room. Rachel looks at her, eyes wide. "I mean, they don't look that bad… except for the fact that you couldn't have cleavage even if you tried." Santana gave one of Rachel's fake boobs a squeeze, laughing a bit. "But Hudson seemed to be eating that shit up, Rach. Every time you ran out on that field all he could look at were your big, fake melons."
Rachel knew that Finn had been burning holes into her back with his eyes all night. He had spent all night on the bench, being a rookie. She didn't know anything about football, but she figured that rookies were almost like understudies. They didn't shine unless the star player was down – and everyone in the stadium loved the star player. No one loved the replacement.
He almost looked sad as he walked off the field that night, the Giants still clinching their victory against the Dolphins. Maybe she would be the one to find him for some cheering up.
Santana's opinion didn't matter. It never did.
She found him just in the nick of time, walking out to his car from the stadium entrance. She knew that he drove, which was weird or her, since she hadn't driven a car since high school. "Finn!" She called, running through the now empty parking lot, littered with cigarette butts and empty beer bottles and assorted garbage. It's cold outside, and she wears a sweater over the tank top she had worn in that day. He turned over his shoulder to see her and she waved, running up to him until they stood directly in front of the other.
"Hey," he said, somewhat sheepishly.
"Do you want to go somewhere?" He didn't know what she meant.
"Like, go somewhere. There are bars and restaurants and clubs and-"
Finn shook his head, sighing a bit. "No, it's fine. You go home, Broadway. I've had a long night." You've spent most of it on a bench staring at my fake boobs, Rachel thought to herself, biting down on her lip. She didn't want to fight him and seem desperate, so she didn't.
"Well, if you ever want to… I'm always here, okay?" She brushed her hair out of her eyes, her makeup still dark underneath the parking lot lampposts. "If you ever need… anything."
Finn laughed a bit and ran a hand through his hair. "I'll remember that. I'll see you around, Broadway." Finn continued his walk to his car and Rachel turned around, defeated.
"Oh, and Rachel?"
She spun around on her heel faster than she thought possible.
"Thanks for the good luck kiss."
She was just this girl, and he knew that she wasn't going to be there long. Santana had told him so, along with other girls on the squad. Even Kurt had said not to get his hopes up about her.
"She said that she doesn't want to date an athlete," Santana told him one day at a luncheon. The mayor of New York City was there. It was an important occasion. "Like, don't take it personally or anything. She's just… Rachel's very independent." Not as independent as Santana, but whatever.
He had fallen for her laugh and the way her lips turned into a half smile whenever she was around him. He wondered if he reason behind 'not dating a football player' was because she had someone waiting for her back home. Someone who could sing and dance and play the piano for her when she wanted to entertain others or herself. She seemed like more of a lady than anyone else on the cheerleading squad. Most of the girls were slutty dancers who didn't know how to let go of their years as cheerleaders from high school. Rachel seemed different, though. Unlike the other girls, Rachel wasn't afraid to come to practice without five layers of makeup on, and he was pretty sure she would eat anything he put in front of her – as long as it was meat and dairy free, of course. It made him wonder if he could ever handle a girl as fiercely independent and headstrong as Rachel. All of the girlfriends he had been with in the past (which weren't that many) were all somewhat passive and let him get away with whatever he wanted. If Finn were to tell his girlfriend from high school that he was going out into space to start a Mars colony, she would just sit there politely and kiss him on the cheek and tell him to go. He didn't think the situation would go over the same way with Rachel. The small, dark haired firecracker he wanted to know so much better.
He kicked himself for not going out with her the night before. He should have gone out with her and talked to her – really talked to her, not just stay at the level of small talk they were at now. He wanted to know everything about her; why she was here, how she knew Santana, why she had that gold star tattoo on the back of her right shoulder (he had seen it one day when she was practicing and meant to ask, but it slipped his mind).
He still had one more chance. She had one more deal to hold up to.
It was an away game, so the team had flown out to Wisconsin to play the Green Bay Packers. There was nothing exciting about Wisconsin, which had at first made Finn rather upset. He had planned on taking Rachel out on a date – a real, old-fashioned date, and Wisconsin? Really? Where was he supposed to take her, the cheese museum? He didn't think that it would be something that Rachel would even appreciate. Sometimes he wondered if she was one of the vegans that drilled their opinions into whoever they were with that decided to eat a hamburger in front of her.
She had been sitting on the field, legs spread out as she was doubled over in a stretch. At first he didn't even think it was her – her legs looked so long as she practically straddled the green, and for a moment Finn thought of how lucky the artificial grass of Lambeau Field was to have her in a spread eagle over it, and then he stopped after he realized that he sounded like too much of a pedophile or something. He didn't even know how old she was. For all he knew she was just some peppy little eighteen year old who was fresh out of high school and who he would feel awkward being with.
"Hey," he said as he stood behind her, noticing the tattoo on her shoulder again. It was one of those small, classier tattoos, the ones that actually made girls sexier. Finn was never a fan of girls who got sleeves or tramp stamps. He never thought they were attractive, not in the least.
Rachel looked up from the grass and turned around, smiling as she made out Finn hovering over her in the sun. It was a nice day for a practice, anyway. It was hard for her to make out his face as he cast an enormous shadow over her, but it was part of what helped her identify him. No one else was tall enough to make her feel so small.
"Hi," she said sweetly, standing up from her stretch. "I didn't think you would be here today."
"Yeah, it's just a rookie practice," he said nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. "But, y'know, if I do good at todays' practice, they might put me in the game on Sunday."
"Do well," Rachel corrected him politely, giggling a bit. "And that's great! I could never play a sport in front of the whole country like that. Having everyone's eyes on you an judging your every move… it would scare me."
"Aren't you an actress?" Finn asked playfully, looking down at her when she smiled. Their height difference was astronomical. Finn always knew he was tall, but he must have been taller than he thought he was. Either that or Rachel was just downright puny.
"I am," she said proudly, sticking her chest out a bit. "But you're playing a sport. You're here to make everyone go home rooting for you because you lead their team to victory. When I perform, I don't have people burning effigies of me in the streets if I perform poorly." Finn laughed at her, watching her as she seemed so sincere with what she said. Rachel truly was a funny girl, whether people noticed it about her or not.
"But you have critics that tear your performance to shreds, don't you?"
"I wouldn't know," she said proudly. "I've never had a critic say anything bad about my performances." Rachel giggled and Finn swore that her laugh was one of the cutest things he had ever heard. Like, seriously, if a bunny rabbit and a kitten could laugh at the same time, he was sure that Rachel's laugh was what it would sound like. She was so perfect, and he was falling for her faster than he knew it was supposed to happen. Besides, she didn't date football players. Everyone had told him that she was off-limits.
"You're awfully confident," he said. She grinned.
"You're awfully critical." She took a step closer to him, tipping her head up so she could see him.
"You know, you still have a deal to uphold to," he told her smiling a bit. Rachel placed her hands on her hips and looked up at Finn, the same half smile still stuck on her face. "I thought you'd be an honest person, so I expect you to stick to it."
Rachel's smile went away and she looked at him, confused. "What?"
"You're supposed to sing for me. I want to hear that big, Broadway voice you've got before you go back to being an actress." Rachel smiled at him again, looking down at her feet as she giggled.
"Fine," she said, smiling as she looked back up at him. "I'll sing for you. Tonight."
Finn took a moment to wrap his head around what she was implying. "So… this is a date?"
"It might be," she said coyly, turning around and walking back to her place on the green, turning her head over her shoulder as she spoke. "Meet me here, outside the stadium tonight. We'll… we'll go for a walk."
Finn couldn't believe his ears. A walk, probably around the parking lot – or maybe around downtown Green Bay, he couldn't be sure. It wasn't like either of them knew their way around Wisconsin. They could get lost together and tell the greatest first date story ever if they made it back to New York alive.
"As long as you sing for me, Rach." He liked the way the nickname felt in his mouth. It was like her; small and cute and fitting. He felt like going on a date with her would be exciting. Just seeing her act the way she did in front of everyone made him wonder if she would be any different when it was just her and him. Just her and him going out to face the world together – even if it was only their first date.
For the first time, Finn was the first one there. He was on time and ready to leave, his rental car waiting in the parking lot. He always hated renting cars; they were never comfortable to drive and he couldn't understand why some people found them to be a cheap thrill when they were on vacations. He wasn't on vacation; he was working, technically. So was she.
It wasn't long before he noticed a green and white taxi cab pull up to the side of the stadium parking lot, the door opening and slamming shut just as quickly as it opened. A girl stepped out and he recognized her instantly; it was Rachel. There was some kind of low-volume argument (at least from where he was standing) and he watched her throw a wad of money at the driver, storming off into the parking lot as the car sped away, burning rubber as it went. The closer she got, the more he was able to make out her face, and the dress she was wearing, and just how long her legs looked in the heels she had on.
"Hi," she said, sounding almost out of breath. "Sorry I'm late. The… the taxi driver was less than amicable towards me." She pressed her fingers to her temples nervously, shaking her head slightly as she let her eyes fall shut. "I'd just like to forget the whole incident happened." Finn chuckled a bit and took her in for the first time, letting his eyes begin at her feet and slowly trailing up her torso to her face. She was absolutely stunning, making him feel underdressed immediately. Her dress was white with red, yellow and blue roses practically painted on it, her shoes a beige canvas that elongated her legs perfectly. Her painted eyes and lips looked different from the night he saw her at the football game; no longer looking like she was going to a party back in high school, but instead like she was a refined young lady who wouldn't stand for any kind of obnoxious behavior at whatever she was attending. Her dark hair had been pulled into a side ponytail, curling slightly and falling over her shoulder. She looked so nice, and he was just in his nice hoodie and jeans.
"Oh," he said to her, regarding her encounter with the taxi driver. "What do you mean?"
Rachel sighed and smiled a bit, looking up at Finn. "He just started objectifying me in the car. I always thought that taxi drivers in New York were bad, but the ones here are worse. These ones can actually speak English." She rolled her eyes a bit and looked back up at Finn, her smile growing. "But forget about that," she said sweetly, waving her hand in the air as if she were pushing her problems away. "I promised you a walk, and that's what I'll give you, right?" She giggled and walked closer to him, taking him by the hand. "And maybe if everything works out, I'll sing for you by the time we get back here."
Finn felt his heart nearly skip a beat as Rachel laced her fingers between his, looking up at him with that smile stuck to her face. She was still a good foot shorter than him in her heels, which he loved. The sky was gray and big, ominous clouds loomed overhead, making Finn look back down at Rachel before giving her hand a squeeze.
"Alright," he said, still fearing the chance of rain. She looked so nice and he didn't want the water to ruin her shoes, but she seemed fine with it. As long as she was happy, he was happy.
The sky had darkened since they had first started walking, and the clouds looked bigger and more ready to strike than ever. Finn wasn't sure if he should have brought an umbrella – he had seen one in the glove compartment of the rental car he had driven to the stadium in, and then he started wondering if he was supposed to go back to the car with Rachel to get the umbrella. He was worried that the rain would upset her.
"It looks like rain," he finally said, looking up at the sky. Most of their walk had been highlighted with the occasional sniffle or throat clear; not many words were uttered. "Maybe we should go somewhere inside?"
"No," Rachel protested, continuing to hold his hand. "I want to stay outside. I don't care if it rains." She looked up at him for a second, her eyes no longer holding the same sparkle they had when she had first walked up to him. "So why don't you tell me about yourself," she suggested, swinging their hands a bit. "Someone who's made it to the NFL must be a pretty impressive person."
"You're an actress, Rachel. I think you're the impressive person." It caused her to laugh a bit at his compliment, blushing as he looked down at her.
"I know," she said teasingly, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder haughtily with a smirk. "But I want to hear about you. Tell me about what makes you tick, Finn Hudson."
"How did you know my last name?"
"Please. They're printed on the back of all of your jerseys." Finn couldn't argue with her logic. She was a rather smart girl, he noticed.
"I'm from Indiana," he said quietly, almost sounding ashamed to mention he was from Indiana. It wasn't known for much. The Midwest never had much to offer anyone. "Um… I'm a Capricorn? At least I think I am."
Rachel laughed sweetly and looked up at him, both of them continuing to walk over the freeway overpass. It was dark already, the streetlights not helping much with the dark clouds overhead. None of the stars shined through the night sky, which made her slightly upset. "What do you mean, 'you think?' When's your birthday?" He liked how she asked everything so sweetly. He was sure that if Rachel wanted to ask to begin nuclear war, the government would let her just because her voice was so soft and sweet and honest.
"Then you're a Leo," she explained, moving her hand up and grabbing him by the arm instead. He had these big, broad arms, only to match his broad shoulders and chest. He was so big, and muscular – she figured it was from all of the training on the football field. "You're compatible with me, you know. I'm a Sagittarius."
"A saggy what?"
Rachel laughed again at Finn and leaned into him a bit, blushing. "A Sagittarius," she repeated, putting emphasis on all of the syllables. "It means we'd work out well with each other. I know a lot about the stars and everything. It's always been really interesting to me."
Finn wondered if that was why she had the little gold star tattooed onto her shoulder. You could see it with the dress she was wearing; he hair had just been thrown over the shoulder he wanted to look at.
"Is that what your tattoo stands for?" He didn't have any self-control. He never did.
"What?" Rachel was confused. Hardly anyone ever noticed her tattoo. That was why it was so small. She didn't want anyone to see it – and it was easier to cover up with costumes and makeup when she was performing.
"Your tattoo. I noticed the first day we had practice together. You know, that little gold star you have on your shoulder?" The fact that Rachel wasn't sure about what he was talking about excited him a bit. Did she have other tattoos in other places? Places that weren't visible when she had her clothes on? He told himself to stop thinking about it before it was too late. He didn't want to embarrass himself in front of her. Not on their first date.
"Oh," she finally said absent-mindedly. "No, that's not the reason I got it. It's a metaphor, Finn. And metaphors are important."
"What, do you secretly want to be an astronaut or something?" Rachel rolled her eyes and smiled.
"No, silly. It's a metaphor for me, being a star. I got it when I was eighteen." Finn smiled a bit, picturing her going into a tattoo parlor with a big jar of money that she had saved forever, making sure she had counted it out just right and probably going with Santana, too.
"You seemed pretty scared about it when I mentioned it."
"That's because no one knows about it," she explained. "Well, my friends do, but not like, my parents. My dads would kill me if they found out. You know, you can't get buried in some Jewish cemeteries if you have a tattoo."
Finn's eyes got bigger, his eyebrows knitting together. "Wait, hold up. Your dads?"
"Yes," Rachel explained plainly. "I have two gay dads. Most people think it's rather odd, especially from where I'm from, but it's accepted in New York, believe it or not. Most of the people I went to school with were adopted for a gay or lesbian couple. I didn't feel like I was the only one who had gay parents then." She spoke so fast, Finn didn't know where one sentence ended and the other began sometimes. Although she was hard to follow, it could be rather endearing at times, watching her to try to explain everything to Finn that he didn't know in a matter of seconds.
"That's pretty cool, Rach. You never told me where you were from, by the way. I always thought you were from here, since Santana is-"
"No," she interrupted. "Santana and I met at college. I grew up in Ohio." Finn's face cracked into an enormous smile.
"So we were kind of like neighbors!" Rachel giggled.
"Yes, I suppose. In a way."
The sky looked like it had cracked in two, lighting ripping across the night sky. "Oh, shit," Finn muttered under his breath, looking down at Rachel. "Rach, it's gonna rain – we should probably get inside."
"No," she said again, letting go of his arm and standing in the middle of the freeway overpass. There weren't many cars on the road, making it quieter than usual. "I want to stay outside. In the rain. With you." The way her voice changed when she told Finn that she wanted to stay with him made his heart nearly skip a beat. She wanted to stay out in the rain? With him?
"Besides, I still haven't sung for you yet, and that was the whole point of us going out together, wasn't it?" She ran ahead of him a bit and for the first time, Finn had noticed that her boobs were… well, smaller than the first time he had stared at them. Maybe it was the dress she was wearing, or something. He didn't care.
They spent all night talking and laughing at one another, almost challenging the rain to come down and spoil their night. Finn told her the story of how his father had passed away after fighting in the war when he was nine, and how he and his mother met Kurt and his father and how his mother ended up marrying Kurt's father, making them all related. Finn said that he ended up moving to New York after he was drafted by the Giants, and after he told her that he moved to Ohio to go to school, Rachel looked at him with a pout on her face.
"You got to Ohio probably the same day I left," she complained, her voice sounding like she was slightly upset. "For all you know, we saw each other at the airport when we were coming and going." Finn laughed at her logic and walked even closer to her, even though it felt like it was physically impossible to be closer to her. He didn't want to scare her and practically swallow her. She was so small and he was just so big. Finn had always been self-conscious of his gigantic features, and standing next to Rachel only made him more aware that they were there.
"I doubt it," he told her, adding a dash of reality to her thoughts. "What was it like for you, though? Growing up in Ohio?" He was expecting the same kind of story that he had. Kids with big dreams that grew up in small towns were never well off. Even if they did move to New York or California or wherever their dreams took them, it seemed like they always ended up coming back to wherever they grew up, teaching whatever they loved and wanted to do themselves. Those who couldn't do, taught, right?
"Horrible," she said, rolling her eyes a bit. "I was teased all throughout high school for wanting to do what I do now. People thought I was weird for being in choir and in the drama club, but I didn't care. I had to stick up for myself, didn't I? And look at where I am now." She beamed with pride, causing Finn to smile. He forgot that she was this accomplished actress sometimes. True, she hadn't been on Broadway, but she had worked in New York. On Off-Off-Broadway, she said. That counted for something, didn't it? He was just a rookie player for the NFL. He had yet to play a game of any kind, and she had already gotten the chance to sing and dance on a stage in New York. She was one of the luckiest girls in the world.
"I wouldn't tease you," he muttered under his breath, thinking Rachel couldn't hear him. She did.
"Thanks," she said, smiling a bit as she looked up at him. "It's good to know that you're so… kind." She looked back in front of her and felt a raindrop fall from the sky, landing on her nose. She went cross-eyed and Finn laughed, looking at her and placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Are you alright, Rach?"
"It's raining," she told him softly, looking up at the sky. Soon the rain began to come down more and more, the sidewalk quickly becoming peppered with dark raindrops against the asphalt. She looked up at him again, a smile on her face. "Race me to the park?"
Finn eyed the greenery from across the bridge, looking down at her again with an equally enormous grin.
"Let's go, Rach."
The rain was coming down in buckets soon enough, and the two of them were drenched by the time they made it to a park Rachel had spotted from the overpass. No one was there due to the weather, and they spent their time chasing each other around, acting like they were four. Rachel took her shoes off and splashed in the puddles that formed on the sidewalk, her dress probably ruined from the rain. Finn chased her and nearly slipped once, watching her as she pulled her hair that was already slick from the rain out of its ponytail, pushing her bangs out of her eyes and letting her hair fall against her back and shoulders.
She crashed into him at one point, her face nearly colliding with his chest – but it didn't matter. She looked up at him, hands resting on the muscles of his chest, more defined that usual due to the rain water making his clothes stick to him. She looked down and his hand caught her face, tilting it up to look at him.
"Your hands are cold," she said, looking into his eyes. They're this sparkling green that she couldn't look away from, no matter how hard she tried.
"Yours too," he said, fingers lacing with hers at the waist. And they were. Probably from the rain, she noted. They looked at one another for a moment, unable to break eye contact with the other. She was so beautiful, and he seemed to care so much. She sunk her teeth into her bottom lip and tugged on it for a moment, eyes not losing contact with his. For being an actress, she wasn't too great of a tease – or at least she wasn't good at hiding the fact that she was trying to tease him. Her eyes sparkled and it made him smile, and before he knew it he was leaning in to kiss her, lips crashing against hers and tasting rain and strawberry lip gloss. He moved his hand that was on the side of her face and slicked her hair out of her face, deepening their kiss. She was so perfect, and he never wanted to lose her. It must have been fate that she wasn't working at the time. Finn would have to find whoever chose not to employ her in New York because it meant that she was with him. In Wisconsin. Kissing him in the rain.
"You are so beautiful," he told her, parting from their kiss. Rachel just looked at him and smiled, biting down on her lip again.
"Let's go back to your hotel," she muttered, barely audible. Finn heard her, though. He wouldn't mistake those words in a million years.
She ended up singing for him that night.
At least, she told him that she did. Somewhere between the heated kisses and clothes falling onto the floor and touching and embracing and entangling limbs, Finn's fingers managed to find the one spot on Rachel to play until it caused her to sing. She collapsed into his arms afterwards and it left her there, lying on the mattress with her head resting against his shoulder, Finn's hands tracing images into Rachel's bare back. They stayed that way for a while, until they finally drifted off to sleep.
"I'm just saying, I want to more with my life than just be a Broadway star." Rachel giggled a bit, thinking about her proposal. "I want to make a difference, you know?" Finn smiled at her, running his hand through her hair. The rain water had caused it to dry to be so soft, he found himself having a hard time to stop touching it.
"I think you'll make a difference," Finn told her, stroking her cheek gently. She was so brilliant and fiercely independent, that there was no way she could go through life without making a difference. "Give it a year's time. I promise you, Rachel, that in one year, you will be the next best thing New York's seen."
She laughed, letting her eyes fall shut as she snuggled into his chest and prepared to fall asleep. Having sex with Finn had worn her out. "And what about you?"
"I'll be the starting quarterback for the New York Giants. And we'll be together."
Rachel couldn't help but smile. She was going to hold him up to that one. If it hadn't happened in an exactly a year, she would get him back. She didn't know how yet, but she would figure it out.
She was singing the National Anthem. And not just anywhere, but at the Super Bowl. The highest-watched program each year, and her voice would be opening it. Rachel had performed in plenty of places, but never anything like the Super Bowl. It was a big milestone for her, just like how it would be for anyone else.
Her career had taken off. Cheerleading had been fine for what it was, but she auditioned for a production of Anything Goes for the following Broadway season, and before she knew it, she was cast as Hope Harcourt, the stunning young ingénue that everyone loved. She quit cheerleading and her career slowly began building itself up, block by block. The show and her performance alike were super praised. Critics and average audience members alike were enthralled by the music, tap dancing and comedic timing throughout the entire show. Soon enough, it was nominated for a Tony Award for Best ReviSan of a Musical – and Rachel for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She couldn't have been more proud.
But the award ceremony hadn't happened yet, and she was being recognized outside of New York as being a beautiful young lady, inside and out. She became a spokeswoman for the ASPCA, the public loving Rachel as both a figure in the theatre and activism communities. She couldn't have been happier, and now she was going to sing. At the Super Bowl. In front of billions of people.
She had a boyfriend, too. Tall and wonderful and lovely. Most people found it somewhat funny that one of Broadway's newest and brightest stars was dating one of the most-wanted quarterbacks in the NFL. He was fast, smart, and worked well with others on the team. He was everything they looked for.
Of course, Rachel was only proud of him because he was hers. Seeing him run around with the little number nine and the name 'Hudson' on the back was enough for her.
It was just their luck that he was sent to the Super Bowl the year she sang. And it was only appropriate, at least in Finn's mind, to propose to her, right after she was finished singing.
It had been exactly one year, and the girl who said that she would never date a football player was proven wrong. She teared up and smothered him with kisses, feeling him embrace her while wearing his shoulder pads.
She loved him. She loved him to the moon and back, and there was nothing that was going to change that. He believed in her when she needed it the most – and she was glad for it. Nowhere in the world was Rachel going to find a better man than Finn Hudson.