AN: This is in response to a prompt from effywrites: AU Finn and Rachel work in the same building and have always had crushes on each other but never actually spoken. One day they get stuck in an elevator and Finchelness ensues... :)
Hope you like it!
I don't own the Glee characters. Or Pace University. Or NYU.
Rachel lived for schedules and routines.
Every weekday, she woke up at 6 a.m. for her elliptical workout, and got herself showered and ready for an 8 a.m. class. After her second morning class, she had just enough time to eat a healthy lunch and grab a coffee before taking the subway to midtown for her internship at a casting agency. She wasn't entirely sure if the experience would be useful in her career as a Broadway starlet, but she firmly believed in maintaining a well-rounded and robust resume. In lieu of payment she received class credit, which saved her from a few hours of arcane college lecture hall education before her evenings of rehearsals and studying.
It also didn't hurt that the agency shared office space with a music production firm owned by the same parent company, mainly because she occasionally crossed paths with their devastatingly handsome mailroom guy. He was very tall with wide, bright, cinnamon-colored eyes and messy dark brown hair. His stature gave him a somewhat lumbering gait and his face practically gleamed with boyish naivete and charm. She figured him to be about her own age and wondered if he attended another college in the city. For all she knew he might also be a student at NYU, their paths never crossing on campus due to the school's size and sprawling nature.
Of course, whenever he was in the vicinity Rachel couldn't bear to make eye contact and averted her gaze before things could turn awkward. He was so blatantly attractive and probably had tons of female attention already, and she didn't have time to compete for his eye while she was focusing on her budding career. Nonetheless, she thoroughly enjoyed the spontaneous instances when he'd bring a package into her bosses' office suite, or help Sal, the agency's mailroom attendant, distribute office supplies. Anything that required him to bend over was a particularly enjoyable task from her vantage point at the small desk in the corner of her bosses' reception area.
She sighed as she entered the lobby of the office building, nodding to the gentlemen at the security desk before calling for the elevator. After a moment one arrived and she entered it. Just as she pushed "5", she heard a voice from the lobby.
"Wait! Hold the elevator!"
"Fuck fuck fuck."
Finn muttered to himself as he ran at breakneck speed to catch the elevator. How he let himself be this late to work he had no idea. He purposefully took the music production mailroom job because the schedule was sweet – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12 to 6. All of his classes were on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 onward, meaning he never had to wake up before 10. Yet, somehow, he let himself oversleep that morning (his Halo session with Mike went late, but not that much later than usual) and here it was already 12:55 and he was first arriving at the office. He'd phoned ahead to his supervisor, who said not to worry about it and get in as soon as he could make it, but Finn was still pissed off about missing out on an hour's pay.
"Thanks," he said gratefully as he squeezed into the about-to-close elevator, his breath catching in his throat when he saw who was inside, graciously holding the "door open" button.
It was her. The cute, petite casting agency intern who he sometimes saw around the office.
"You're welcome," she replied, offering a shy smile as their eyes met before looking down at the floor in front of her while he pressed "7".
Four years ago she wasn't someone Finn would've found attractive at all. But that was before he had his heart ripped out and his future nearly stolen from him by Quinn. And before he escaped Ohio for the bustle of New York City and exposed himself to new experiences.
He really wanted to experience the small wavy-haired girl, but he figured she wouldn't be interested in him. She always looked so put-together and sophisticated in her proper (but awesomely short!) skirts and dresses. Meanwhile he felt totally uncomfortable in his business casual Dockers and button-up shirts… all of which were purchased by his mom.
As the elevator rose upward he tried not to fidget, watching her out of the corner of his eye. She looked especially pretty today with most of her hair in a loose knot at her neck and a few pieces hanging around her face.
Suddenly, between floors 2 and 3, there was a loud screech and the elevator came to an abrupt halt, jostling them both.
The girl gasped. "Oh no!" She found the emergency call button and quickly pressed it a few times.
"Great," Finn muttered. "I'm late as it is."
She didn't even acknowledge his comment as she nervously inspected the panel of buttons and looked up at the corners of the ceiling as if it held the answer to the stalled elevator.
After a moment there was some crackling and a voice came over the intercom speaker. "Yeah, we see you're stuck, elevator 2. Everyone okay in there?"
She looked at him, eyes serious, and he nodded to indicate that, yeah, he's perfectly all right aside from the lateness.
"Yes, we're fine," she replied to the voice, "But that doesn't mean we wish to perish in this stagnant vessel. Do you have any idea what the problem is?"
"No idea, ma'am. 'Fraid until we figure that out there's no telling when you'll be moving again. We'll let you know what we find."
The speaker crackled one last time and cut out.
"Well, this is certainly disappointing," she huffed in... exacerbation? Expiration? Some big word that Kurt always used when he meant pissed off. "I'll definitely be notifying the city's Department of Buildings about this malfunction. Someone in a position of authority needs to be aware of these matters." It looked like she had more to say but opted not to, shyly looking down again.
Finn nodded stupidly, unsure of what to say at all. After a moment he figured he might as well introduce himself if they were going to be stuck in the elevator together for God-knows how long.
"I'm Finn, by the way." He extended his hand.
"Rachel," she replied, eyes sparkling at him as they shook. Her hand was really small (like the rest of her).
Once they released the handshake Finn glanced around the elevator and took a seat on the floor. "We may be here a while. Just trying to get comfortable." He shrugged.
Rachel sighed but copied his action, daintily tucking her (sexy) legs to one side and fluffing her skirt out as she sat down.
"I've seen you around. You work for the casting agents."
Rachel nodded. She was glad that hot mailroom guy – Finn, she reminded herself of his name– was content on making conversation since it wasn't coming easily to her. "And you work for the music producers."
"Yep." His smile was so carefree and bright it lit up the dim, unmoving elevator. "But calling it 'work' is a little much. I'm really just a pack mule. Or sometimes a gopher."
Rachel laughed, trying not to blush too much under his dreamy gaze. "The tasks the agency has me perform are quite menial as well, but it's letting me see what goes on behind the scenes in the business." She paused before continuing confidently. "I'm going to be an actress. On Broadway. I've known as much since I was a toddler."
God, she needed a course on how to talk to boys. Santana would slap her if she heard this rambling.
"That's really cool." Finn's eyes were warm and genuine and that put her at ease.
"W-what about you?" she asked. "I mean, I assume the mule/gopher job is only temporary, or a means to an end."
"Yeah, I'm a business major at Pace. Working here makes me want to do something entertainment-related, I guess. But I'm not sure exactly." He paused and looked off in the distance while playing with his shoelace, seemingly indulging in a moment of shyness himself. "I never imagined myself going to college in New York. Or anywhere, really."
"Why? Where are you from?"
Finn sighed. "I'm from Lima, Ohio. And I thought I was going to be stuck there forever scraping by with some minimum wage job and a kid."
Rachel's face contorted in confusion at his statement, which carried a palpable dose of disdain despite the ease of Finn's diction.
Without any prompting from her, he continued. "My girlfriend got pregnant my sophomore year of high school. But it turned out the baby wasn't mine and she'd been cheating on me with my best friend the whole time we were together. She thought I'd be a better 'provider' long-term so she lied to get me to support her. And pretty much everyone else at school knew but me. I was too busy feeling guilty about the whole thing and trying to find a decent part-time job so that she'd stop yelling at me."
Rachel couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was like something out of a soap opera. "Finn, that's terrible," she said sympathetically, instantly afraid that she'd been too compassionate given the fact that she'd met this boy all of 10 minutes ago. "When did you find out the truth?"
"A few months before Dri— the baby was born. But that's not even the worst part," he continued, his lips forming a sardonic smirk.
Rachel instinctively leaned forward a little bit, morbidly curious about the rest of this sordid tale.
"Let's just say that Quinn – my girlfriend – and I didn't do anything together that would actually make a baby. But she convinced me otherwise, since I'm such a gullible dope. Or at least I was, back then." He chuckled a little to himself and Rachel couldn't help but join in at the adorable sound. She found it admirable that he was able to laugh at his prior naivete even though the ordeal was a clearly painful memory.
"Anyway, once I found out I felt SO stupid. I was going to give up my future and do whatever she and the baby needed. And... I guess I never really thought about how much I wanted to get out of Lima until it seemed like I never would, you know?"
Rachel nodded, even though his question was largely rhetorical.
"So, I spent the rest of high school getting my shit together, making for damn sure I got into a college outside of Ohio." His voice had the quiet and somber tone of painful honesty as his face grew steely again. "At first I thought football would be my ticket out since I was the quarterback but our team totally sucked. So my guidance counselor helped me get tutors and I studied my ass off to get decent grades. And I worked in my stepdad's tire shop as much as I could to earn money for college."
"Sounds busy," Rachel commented, thinking back to her own high school years of dance classes and voice lessons and glee club rehearsals.
"Yeah. I didn't have much of a life my junior and senior years. Not that it mattered since my best friend was a liar and everyone else at school thought I was a moron."
Just then Finn's stomach growled loudly and he felt his face turn completely red. (As if the story he was telling wasn't embarrassing enough.)
"Didn't have time for breakfast on my way here. Whoops."
Rachel only laughed (it was a kinda sexy giggle, really) and reached into her purse. "Well it's a good thing that I'm always prepared." With that she pulled out two energy bars and handed one to him.
"Sweet!" he exclaimed before realizing what a bozo he sounded like. "I mean… thanks, Rachel." She giggled again and they smiled at each other for a beat, her eyes wide like saucers and just… beautiful.
"You're very welcome. But in the future, a healthy breakfast is very important!" she scolded playfully.
He returned the laughter and promised to eat breakfast every day, even if he was running late. They talked a little more about their schools and jobs while eating their snack, after which Rachel produced antibacterial hand sanitizer that smelled like apples and cinnamon.
Another few minutes passed without word from outside about the status of the busted elevator.
"You're the first person in New York who I've told," he said spontaneously. "About the baby drama, I mean."
Rachel exhaled. "It doesn't sound like an easy thing to deal with, even after a few years. But it's wonderful that you used the incident as motivation to get yourself here. I'm sure you'll be splendid at whatever career you choose to pursue, and provide excellent lives for any children that are actually yours."
Finn smiled at her encouraging and thoughtful words before noticing a brown smudge above her lip.
"You have a little chocolate, right… here." He reached over and rubbed it away with the pad of his thumb, feeling her tremble slightly as he did so.
Their eyes stayed locked as he withdrew his hand. Her face was really only inches from him and it looked hot, her olive skin glowing under the dim light of the elevator.
"You can kiss me if you want to," she said quietly.
"I want to." The words left his mouth before he even thought of them, like his brain was on autopilot.
Rachel responded with a little gasp, like she was surprised at his response. Didn't she know how gorgeous she was?
Finn licked his lips as he moved to sit a little closer to her and leaned in as much as he could without totally falling over on top of her. She met him the rest of the way and he pressed his mouth against the softest pair of lips in human history.
Rachel was fairly sure she'd died and that the stalled elevator was, in fact, heaven.
Finn's lips pressed against hers with just the right amount of pressure to make her heart thump in her chest, and she instinctively opened her mouth to accept the gentle strokes of his pliant tongue against her own.
His large, strong hands came up to cup her cheeks as the kissing intensified. Eventually she felt long fingers threading through her hair and she found herself clucthing the sides of his dress shirt to steady herself. They shifted so that she was leaning back against the wall, the soft moans and sighs escaping her throat as their chests brushed one another. Kissing him felt so good and she wasn't even embarrassed by her reaction.
They both gasped and jumped apart as the crackling of the speaker resumed. "Hello? Hello, elevator 2. Looks like the circuit breaker just needed to be reset. You should be moving any minute now."
Rachel took a few deep breaths as she gathered her belongings from around her and stood, using the mirrored elevator wall to fix her mussed hair and lipstick.
Now, she was embarrassed.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Finn standing as well, but avoided looking directly at him. Meanwhile, the elevator started moving.
"Go out with me? Tonight after work?"
She looked up to find him leaning against the wall next to her, delicious lips swollen from their heated makeout session and forming an adorably sheepish lopsided grin.
Her mouth curled into its own bright smile. "I'd love to."
Somehow her response made his grin even larger and he leaned down to kiss her once more, quickly, before the doors opened to her floor.
She took a deep breath and strode out, praying that the afternoon would go by quickly.
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