A/N: Wow, thanks for the awesome response! I really hope you'll enjoy this second part.


xi.

A month after Finn's rejection Rachel graduates high school. It's actually been a good distraction from thinking about Finn – graduation and her imminent move to New York and NYADA – so the beaming smile she shoots her dads as she walks across the stage to receive her diploma is more than genuine.

Of course she still thinks about him – the dreams she has some nights are very vivid – but she's been so busy planning her move that sometimes she realizes that she hasn't even spared him a thought in hours.

She's moving on. Finn isn't hers and he never was and he never will be and the sooner she accepts that the better.

Her dads treat her and her friends from glee who are also graduating, Blaine, Santana and Brittany, to a graduation lunch at Breadstix. She's sitting sandwiched between her Daddy and Santana and everyone's happy and laughing and talking about their futures. She wants to join in but all of a sudden all she can think about is Finn. She doesn't even know why. Maybe it's all the talk about leaving that makes her think about him – about the fact that she's leaving Lima and never coming back and leaving him behind.

"What's wrong with you?" Santana asks, poking her hard in the side. "You've been quiet for more than five minutes now and it's starting to freak me out."

"Nothing," she says, shrugging dismissively, and takes a sip of her ice water, "I guess I'm just thinking."

"About what? What could possibly be more exciting than graduation?" Santana crosses her arms over her chest and raises a well-manicured eyebrow at her. "I mean I'd know if this was all you mooning over some boy, wouldn't I?"

"I'm sure Rachel's just thinking about New York. She is moving there in less than a week after all," Blaine cuts in, saving Rachel without knowing it.

Her Daddy's ears perk at the mention of New York and he turns toward them with a somber look behind his dark-rimmed glasses. "Are you sure you want to move there so soon, pumpkin? Your dad and I would love to have you home all summer. Besides I thought you told me Blaine's not leaving until the week before classes start."

"I know, Daddy," she says, placing her hand on top of his, "but you know how I like to be meticulous in my preparations and I feel that I really need to experience being a New Yorker before starting at NYADA. And Kurt and I need these couple months to grow accustomed to each other and living together. I don't want any distractions once classes at NYADA start."

She smiles a wide smile at her dads and her friends who are all watching her. She almost has herself convinced so surely they all must believe her. She can't really tell them the true reason why she's decided to move to New York so soon, can she?

That she's moving to get away from Finn Hudson.


xii.

She was close to Kurt before but after living together he quickly becomes her very best friend. They share a small apartment on the Lower East Side and she just loves living with him. It's like she's living in her own personal musical because they're always singing and dancing and acting and it's heaven.

They're really very similar and they get along famously, well, except for when Kurt tells her that she dresses like an odd mixture of a toddler and a grandmother but he's doing that less and less.

It takes Kurt about a week and a half after her arrival to figure out that she has feelings for Finn. He might already have known that to be honest. And then it takes him about another two days to figure out that she acted on those feelings and another two minutes to realize that they actually slept together.

He tells her that she's crazy and shakes his head and asks why she would do such a thing and then he hugs her tight and lets her cry softly against his shoulder. Then he tells her that Finn's life is pretty messed up and she should actually be happy that she's not caught in the middle of it. She thinks that maybe she wouldn't mind being caught up in his life so much, but she doesn't tell Kurt that. Instead she bakes him skinny blueberry muffins – his favorite – and they watch The Way We Were over and over until both of them are all cried out.


xiii.

She's standing in the kitchen early one morning cutting up some fruit for breakfast. Kurt is at a seminar held by the Carmen Tibideaux – one that she can't attend, no matter how many infinitely polite voice messages she's left Madame Tibideaux, because she is only a freshman – so she has the apartment to herself the whole morning. She intends on making good use of the time and has invited Blaine over to rehearse the scene from Evita they're supposed to perform in class in a few days.

Normally, when Kurt's around, they can't get any work done because all Blaine does is make lovey-dovey eyes at Kurt and it's starting to get really frustrating. She's happy for them; they are cute together. But she just doesn't like being reminded of things that she can't have – like love.

She puts the fruit in a bowl and the knife in the sink and she is drying her hands off on a dishtowel when there's a knock at the door. Looking down at the tank top and boyshorts she hasn't changed out of yet, she shrugs and decides that Blaine won't mind her state of undress because; A. He's gay. And B. He's seen a lot of it already one night in their junior year of high school when they were both horribly drunk on pink wine coolers.

She's at the door just as there's another, slightly harder, knock. She pulls it open, prepared to chide Blaine for his lack of patience, when her eyes collide with a very wide, very familiar chest. And it's not Blaine's.

Shocked silence reigns for a few seconds and then he tentatively says; "Hey, Rachel."

The words come out in a short breath and kind of blend together and for a moment her brain just stops working. Finn's standing in front of her. Not Blaine. Finn. The chill seeping in from the hallway makes goose bumps erupt on her skin and pulls her from inside her own head. She quickly glances down at her bare legs and realizes Finn is doing the same, his eyes having stopped at the small sliver of bare skin peeking out just below the edge of her tank top. She crosses her arms over her chest, suddenly feeling very exposed.

"Finn?" she says. She hasn't seen him in almost five months and she still can't quite process the fact that he's standing in front of her. His dark brown hair is wet and plastered against his forehead and water is dripping from his jacket. It must be raining outside. And he's clutching a duffel bag in his right hand.

"Uh, is Kurt here?" he asks, shifting awkwardly in the puddle forming around him.

"No, uhm, he's at a seminar," she says, taking one more moment to just take him in. He's shivering slightly. "Oh god, you're soaked, Finn," she says, taking his hand and tugging him toward her, "Come in."

"Thanks," he says, smiling timidly at her and she quickly lets go of his hand. He shrugs off his jacket, drops the duffel by the door.

"There's a pot of coffee in the kitchen," she says, pointing toward the little kitchenette at the other end of the apartment, "and… uh, I just made some fruit salad if you'd like something to eat. I'll be right there."

She hurries into her bedroom and closes the door behind her. She sits down on her bed and inhales deeply, holds her breath for a second and lets it go. She repeats the action one more time as she tells herself that she is perfectly fine with having Finn only a few yards away. He's Kurt's brother and she's living with Kurt, of course she was going to meet him again at some point. And she's fine with that. Perfectly fine, she tells herself

She's not sure that she believes herself though.

Pulling on a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie she makes her way back to the kitchen and finds Finn sitting by the tiny table, nursing a cup of coffee and picking the pieces of strawberry from her salad. He looks up with a sheepish grin on his lips when he hears her enter and he can't help but smile back.

He's still absolutely adorable and her heart pirouettes.

She takes a seat opposite him – she doesn't dare sit right next to him – and pours a cup of coffee for herself. "So," she says, feeling a need to fill the silence with something, "Kurt didn't tell me you were planning to visit."

"Oh, uhm, it was a spur of the moment thing, I guess," he says, looking up from his cup and giving her a half grin that doesn't seem the slightest sincere. She looks closer into his eyes and she realizes quickly what Kurt meant that one time when he told her that Finn's as easy to read as an open book. He fidgets and takes a sip of his coffee and she knows he's lying to her.

"You're not here just to visit your brother, are you?" she asks and slowly he shakes his head. "Finn, did something happen?"

"Quinn cheated on me."

"Oh my god, Finn, I'm so sorry," she says, getting up and taking the chair next to him. "Was it… I mean did she… Did she do it to get back at you? You know, because we – "

"No," he sighs, "it didn't happen recently, at least not that I know of."

She's confused. "Then when did she – "

"Six years ago," he says, the words coming through gritted teeth and his eyes squeeze together in pain, "Six years ago she cheated on me with my best fucking friend and you know what happened?" His hands clutch the cup so tightly his knuckles turn ghostly white. "She got fucking pregnant and she told me I was the father when all along Puck was the father and I was a fucking joke because I was too dumb to do the math!"

He gets up so fast the chair falls over, he gives it a hard kick, rubs a hand over his face and storms across the living room. She sits there with her mouth open as she hears him slam Kurt's bedroom door shut. She quickly decides not to follow him.

Though, of course, she understands the implications of what he just told her she knows that it's not the entire story and she wants him to be able to tell her it on his own terms. For now she will just give him his space.


xiv.

He doesn't tell her the rest of the story. Kurt does. Kurt tells her that Finn feels embarrassed after his outburst earlier and doesn't really want to talk about what happened between him and Quinn, but has given him his blessing to fill her in.

"He's a mess," Kurt sighs, as he sits down next to Rachel on their tiny sofa and she turns off the rerun of Grey's Anatomy. "He's sleeping now – at least I think he is. He must have been exhausted after the trip and telling that story was definitely no picnic."

"What happened?" she asks, pulling her legs to her chest and wraps her arms around her knees. "I mean, he told me what happened, but I'm guessing only parts of it."

"The powder keg finally exploded," Kurt says, leaning back into the cushions and crossing his right leg over his left. Sighing he turns toward her, his eyes filled with sadness for his brother. "I knew that staying in that sham of a marriage would blow up in his face one day."

"Well, they stayed together for Beth," Rachel says, reciting Finn's reason for not wanting to get involved with her. "That's quite admirable, don't you think?"

"No," Kurt says, surprising her, "What Beth needs is to actually know her real father and for her to have parents who aren't lying to themselves and each other."

"But," she protests, "Finn told me he loves Quinn."

"And I'm sure that he does, just not in the way he's supposed to. They got married because she got pregnant with Beth, I told you that right?"

She nods, her head bowed down, looking at her knees instead of Kurt.

"Well, Finn proposed because he thought he was Beth's father and now not even that's true. And to find out the way he did, no wonder he's a blubbering mess in there - "

She stops him, putting her hands on his shoulders. "Wait, Kurt," she says, "What did happen yesterday? I still don't think I fully understand."

Kurt pinches the bridge of his nose and leans back again. "Well, apparently," he begins, "yesterday Finn got off work a little early and went home to surprise Quinn and when he got there he walked right in on a screaming match between Quinn and his best friend Puck – well, I guess he's his ex-best friend now – "

Rachel pulls in a harsh breath, looking with wide eyes at Kurt as he continues.

"Anyway, Finn showing up kind of startles them and he's super confused of course and about to ask them what's going on when Puck tells Quinn that she needs to tell Finn the truth or he will and then Puck just leaves."

It burns behind Rachel's eyes as she imagines Finn standing in his and Quinn's cozy little kitchen waiting for his wife to tell him he's not the father of a child he's loved for over five years. "What did Quinn tell him?" she says.

"He told me that she sat him down and she started crying and pretty much told him that Puck was Beth's real father. Just like that, like she was ripping off some frickin' band aid." Kurt takes a deep breath, obviously trying to calm himself. "She'd had a two-month long affair with him during the end of their sophomore year when Finn was away at OSU and when she got pregnant she freaked out and when Finn assumed he was the father she didn't tell him he wasn't because she didn't want to lose him."

Rachel wipes a tear from her cheek. "What did he do?"

"He got up, packed a bag and took the first available flight to New York. I told him he could stay here as long as he wants, I hope that's okay."

"Of course, Kurt," she says.

She shakes her head, trying to rid herself of the image of Finn and Quinn standing in their kitchen. It's just so, so wrong. She wishes there was something she could do for him.


xv.

She finds Finn sitting by the tiny kitchen table again the next morning. There's a cup of coffee on the table in front of him but he seems to have forgotten about it and his eyes are rimmed with dark circles. He probably hasn't slept at all. He looks up at her and she gives him a warm, encouraging smile and he gives her a tiny, unconvincing one back.

"Hi," she says.

"Hi, Rach."

"How're you feeling?" she asks as she sits down next to him. She grabs his hands in hers and his eyes briefly flicker down.

"Kurt told you everything?" He arches an eyebrow and she nods her head softly. "Like crap," he says, "like complete and utter crap."

"I'm sorry," she says, giving his hands a squeeze and lets them go, "I can't believe Quinn would actually do such a thing."

"I cheated on her too," he says, shaking his head.

"We slept together once, Finn – "

"Twice," he cuts in.

"Twice," she says, feeling her cheeks flush, "And you ended it for your family. She got pregnant by another man and lied to you about it for six years. There's a bit of a difference."

"I just… I feel so bad, you know?" he says, running his hand through his already messy hair, "And just so stupid because let myself believe her lies."

"You're not stupid, Finn. You're the most caring person I know and you can't be faulted for wanting to believe your girlfriend."

He nods but shoulders sag and it's obvious he's not convinced. "And what about Beth?"

He's not really looking at her and she doesn't know if he's talking to her or to himself or if the words are just slipping from his lips without him even knowing it. He looks so lost and she so desperately wants to help him. "You should go back to Lima," she says and that gets his attention.

"What?"

"You need to go back and talk to Quinn – "

"How do I even do that? I don't even know if I can even be in the same room as her without breaking down and crying like a girl."

"Don't do it for Quinn. Do it for Beth, no matter what anyone says she's still your daughter and you have to go back and work something out for her."

"You're right," he says after a several minutes of silence. Drinking the last bit of what must be cold coffee, he gets up and puts the empty cup in the sink. When he looks at her his eyes are lit up with determination. "I have to at least see what I can do for Beth." He leans closer and as it always does her heart skips a beat. "Then I'm coming back," he says and presses a quick kiss to her temple.


xvi.

Finn comes back to New York about two weeks later and moves in with her and Kurt. Divorce papers have been signed and filed and he's worked out an agreement with Quinn that will work for now and he will get to see Beth as often as they can manage. He also tells them that the minute he saw Puck walking down the street he punched him in the mouth and he seems extra pleased about that.

It's not supposed to be anything more than a temporary solution – him living with them – their little shoebox apartment can't really fit three people and Finn can't sleep on the floor forever. He's already started applying for teaching positions and looking for an apartment of his own so he's in New York to stay. He says he couldn't stay in Lima and see Quinn every day and watch as Puck is slowly introduced into Beth's life. He'd go crazy.

She's happy he's back and despite everything he does seem to be rather happy. And that's what she wanted all along, isn't it?

But it's strange living with him. They're all friends – her, Kurt and Finn – but she can't really ignore the sexual tension that still exists between her and Finn. It's there wrapping around them and dripping down their bodies whenever they're close together – which is almost always since the apartment is so small. Sometimes she wants to crawl out of her own skin when she sees him, his back turned to her, standing in the kitchen. He's so big and his shoulders are so broad and she just wants to run her hands all over the wide expanse of his back.

She wonders if it'll always be like this or if it'll fade once he gets his own apartment and she doesn't have to see him every day. A part of her hopes it will because she's still not supposed to have these feelings. He may not be married anymore but he's still so much older than her and now he's coming out of a difficult relationship and for all intents and purposes he's now a single father. It has disaster written all over it with big bold letters.

But then there's the part of her that still wants him to be hers so badly she thinks she might explode.

She's sitting on the sofa, flipping through the pages of the November issue of Cosmo when the front door opens. She knows it's not Kurt, not only because she knows it's his and Blaine's date night, but because she can sense him. She keeps her eyes fixed on the article she's not really reading and listens as his footsteps come closer. The edge of the sofa dips with his weight and the faint smell of his aftershave swivels in the air.

He leans in and peeks over her shoulder and chuckles. "Got anyone in particular in mind you plan on trying that on?" he asks.

She looks up at him in confusion and he nods toward the magazine article she's supposedly consumed by with a sly smile – "5 tips for a five-star blowjob" – and her cheeks flush so hard they must be glowing scarlet.

He leans a little closer and mumbles something about her not needing any tips. She can't really hear what he's saying because his lips are so close to her cheek it muffles his voice and her heartbeat is so loud against her eardrums. She closes her eyes because it feels so good and it's not supposed to feel this good but it does and he cups the back of her head and tilts it to gain better access to her lips.

His lips press gently against hers – carefully, like he's testing the waters – and she can't help but melt into his soft touch. She twists, gripping his shoulders, and pulls herself up on her knees. Their mouths mesh together and his arms slip from her neck and slithers down her back. One hand cups her backside and the other glides under her shirt and the touch makes her shiver.

She could so easily lose herself in the moment. From one side this all seems so perfect – he's finally free to be hers and he wants her just as she wants him. From another side everything's still wrong – he's just had his entire life flipped over – he must still be reeling from that. She doesn't want to be his rebound girl.

So she pulls away.

He looks at her, his hazy eyes silently wondering what she's doing, his hands still wrapped tightly around her waist. She wiggles out of his grip; she can't do this if his hands are on her skin. She needs some distance.

"I'm sorry," she says, "Finn, I can't."

"Why?"

"I can't be the rebound girl – "

"You're not."

"Okay, maybe I'm not. Maybe we're meant to be. But right now your world is still spinning and your entire life just changed and I think you need to figure everything out. Make sure that this is what you want. That I'm the one you want."

"You are, Rachel," he says with so much force she nearly falls back into his arms, "and I'll prove it to you. You know I don't give up that easily."


xvii.

She decides she needs to take her mind off Finn somehow. He's found a position as a music teacher at a small private school and he's moved out of their shoebox apartment. But the four of them – they're four now that Kurt has officially begun dating Blaine – still hang out nearly every day. It works well enough being just friends with him even after what happened between them but it's still there lingering around them – the sexual tension.

So she needs a distraction. And she finds the perfect one in one of Kurt's classmates.

Sam is blonde and gorgeous and so sweet and the first time they meet – when they're all out at a bar – he does impressions that nearly make her fall off her stool. She notices Finn a few stools down huffing to himself and rolling his eyes but she doesn't care. Sam is super cute, even if Kurt insists he dyes his hair and she can hear Santana's voice inside her head saying highly inappropriate things about his pouty lips, and she likes him.

So when he a few days later calls and asks her out to dinner she happily accepts.

Finn's sitting on the sofa next to Blaine apparently watching the Giants game as she exits her bedroom the night Sam is supposed to take her to dinner. Blaine wolf whistles and she gives a little twirl, giggling, as her short pale pink dress fans out and reveals her legs.

"Wow, that actually looks really good, Rachel," Kurt says, as he sashays toward them with a bottle of red wine in one hand and a cheese platter in the other, "I'm glad you went for the heels instead of those horrible flats you usually wear."

She huffs a little but doesn't say anything because honestly Kurt's right, the high heeled sandals make her legs look amazing. And if she didn't believe that all she'd have to do is look at Finn who hasn't been able to take his eyes off of her.

"What are you doing here? And what are you watching?"

She looks toward Kurt who's glaring at Finn as he puts the wine and cheese on the coffee table.

"Uh, hanging out?" Finn says, reaching for a cracker only to have Kurt slap away his hand, "Ow, dude!"

"Blaine and I were planning on having a nice, romantic night," Kurt huffs, "and that does not include you or whatever baseball game you're watching."

"Football," Finn says, getting up and stalking over to the kitchen and pulling out a chair, "whatever, I'll leave you alone as soon as – "

"Oh, so that's why you're here," Kurt says, smirking at his brother, "to check out the completion."

She can see Finn's cheeks turn pink and she can tell that he's about to protest and she wants to hear his answer but before he gets the chance to say something there's a knock at the door. The argument dies down behind her and she can feel three sets of eyes following her as she makes her way to the door.

"Sam, hi," she says, leaning in for a hug, still feeling one set of eyes on her back.

"Hi, Rachel, you ready?" Sam asks, smiling widely at her and he's so gorgeous and she waits for her heart to flip flop – but it doesn't. She probably just needs to spend some more time with him.

"Yes, let's go," she says, letting him lead her away by a hand on the small of her back. "See you guys later," she says over her shoulder and catches a final glimpse of Finn just as the door closes behind her.


xviii.

Four weeks later she breaks it off with Sam. She likes him – she really does because he's sweet and cute and funny – but he's not right. She knew that after their first date when she let him gently press his lips against hers in a chaste goodnight kiss. His lips were too large, they didn't mold perfectly against hers, and she didn't feel that tingle move through her lips and down her spine. Not like it felt the first time she kissed Finn.

But when he asks her to the movies a week later she still says yes because even though she doesn't really feel the tingle now that doesn't mean she won't after a second date. And when they sit in the dark theater watching a movie about some superhero and Sam wraps his arm around her shoulders she leans into him. She really likes him and she really wants to discover that she fits perfectly in the crook of his arm. But she doesn't.

And she lets him take her on a third date and a fourth date and a fifth. But her heart doesn't spin till she gets dizzy and her legs don't turn into jelly and when he kisses her and when she closes her eyes his hair isn't blonde.

She finds Finn sitting by himself on their sofa as she gets home after her fifth date with Sam – the one where she told him she thinks they're better suited as friends and he kind of agreed – and she stops in her tracks because he startles her.

"Finn," she says, bringing her hand up to cover her heart, "it's almost midnight, what are you doing here?"

He shifts in his seat, looking at her under heavy lids. "I knew Kurt would be at Blaine's tonight so I just thought I'd make sure you got home okay."

"What if I'm going to spend the night with Sam?" she finds herself saying and she's sure she can see hurt flash briefly in his eyes.

"Are you?"

"Well, no, but if I were that wouldn't be any of your business."

He nods and he gives her a little smile and she knows she's can't lie to him. "Actually," she starts, slowly, "Sam and I aren't seeing each other anymore. We decided that it's best if we just stay friends."

"Oh," Finn hums and gets up and she can see the confidence start to fill his body. There's something cocky about him that she can't decide if it's incredibly sexy or annoying. He takes a few more steps and he's right next to her when he continues, leaning so close she can feel the heat radiating from his body. "You know, I think I know why it didn't work out between you two," he says.

"Why is that?" she asks, holding herself together by the seams, forcing herself not to melt into a puddle on the floor.

"He's not me," he mumbles. Then he stands up straight, gives her a lopsided grin and heads toward the door. "I'm glad you got home safe, Rach. I'll see you around."

Her mouth gapes open as she watches him leave and she feels an urge to take off her pointy toed shoe and throw it at his head but she can't because she's too preoccupied with the fact that he is one-hundred percent correct.


xix.

She turns nineteen on a chilly December day and all of her friends are there to celebrate with her. Kurt and Blaine organized the whole thing and it's this big and loud and glittery pink party in their tiny apartment and they invited everyone she's ever met it feels like.

Santana and Brittany have flown in from LA and she's so happy to finally get to see them again. Mike, who works at the same dance studio as she, is there and he's brought his girlfriend Tina and they hit it off immediately. Their next door neighbors Rory and Sugar are there too and she can't really stand Sugar – she's heard her sing through the paper thin walls – but it's true what they say "the more the merrier" so she can't really complain. Even Sam's there with the new girl he's been seeing, Mercedes, and they hug as he wishes her a happy birthday and she knows they'll be friends forever.

And Finn's there too of course. He's standing at the back, pressed against the wall, taking sips from a red cup as he watches her greet her friends. She can feel his eyes on her as Kurt places the pink "Happy Birthday" tiara on her head and as Santana pulls her in for another hug – and whispers a question about the oaf in the corner that she giggles at but doesn't answer – and as Sugar proceeds to talk her ear off about an episode of Real Housewives.

When she thinks she's about to go insane, from all of the people around her in the tiny space and the very strong pink margarita in her hand and Sugar's high pitched voice, she feels an arm wrap – too tightly to be just friendly – around her waist. Finn comes up next to her and smiles cheekily at Sugar who blushes.

"Sorry," he says, "don't mean to interrupt but I think it's my turn with the birthday girl."

He spins her around and pulls her into a crushing hug and she can feel his breath on her neck and it makes her just a little bit dizzy.

"Happy birthday, Rach," he says, pulling back. He looks down at her with that little worry wrinkle he sometimes gets just above his nose. He shifts his weight from foot to foot as he pulls something from his back pocket. "I…uh I got you something." He hands her a small, rectangular box wrapped prettily in gold paper and she squeals and smiles widely at him.

"Open it," he says.

She pulls off the ribbon and meticulously peels off the bits of tape going so slowly she can tell that he's getting more and more nervous beside her. Sliding apart the gold paper she reveals a velvet box and she gasps. "Finn," she whispers, "this is too much."

"You don't even know what it is yet," he smiles.

She opens the lid and tears – happy tears – prickle her eyes as she looks down at a delicate star charm hanging on a thinly woven gold chain. It's the most beautiful thing anyone has ever given her. "It's beautiful," she says.

"Just like you." He takes the small necklace in his large hands and she turns and pulls her hair away and lets him clasp the chain around her neck. His hands linger at her neck and she brings a finger to gently touch the cold metal of the star, her skin warm beneath it. "You're a star, Rachel. You know, I don't know much but I do know that. And I know you don't need me, but I just want you to know that I will always be here for you no matter what."

She's about to say something – she doesn't know what exactly – but he silences her with a kiss. It's just a swift peck on her lips and it's innocent and sweet but it makes her every cell hum. And then he leaves and she watches him squeeze between her friends as he makes his way toward the door and she thinks he's silly because of course she needs him.


xx.

In January – about a year after she first met Finn and Quinn and Beth – Finn tells her that once Quinn can find a job she and Beth will also be moving to New York. Apparently it's some sort of a peace offering from Quinn and he seems to be happy about it and she tries her hardest to read Finn's expression as he tells her. She doesn't know where the irrational bout of jealousy is coming from but it's there.

"That's nice," she says.

"Yeah," he smile, "it'll be awesome getting to see Beth more often. I mean I know Puck's coming along too so that means I have to see him too, but I guess I can live with that."

"So, it's just Beth you're excited about seeing?" she asks and immediately feels like that silly little school girl.

"Yeah, Rach, of course," he says with so much conviction it eases most of the tension from her body, "I'd be perfectly okay if I never had to look at either Quinn or Puck ever again." He wraps his arm around her shoulders in a friendly hug and she sinks into him and notices how perfectly she fits in the crook of his arm.

He kind of catches up to her weird behavior and looks at her with questions filling his eyes. "Wait, what? Did you think… did you think I'd ever go back to Quinn?"

"No, no, of course not," she says, not very convincingly and the arm around her shoulders tighten.

"You saved me from that life, Rachel," he says and his usual goofy grin is replaced with a set, serious mouth as he speaks. "You know what my first thought was when the shock of what Quinn had told me had settled?"

She shakes her head.

"That I needed to go to New York and find you because I chose the wrong girl. I don't think I would have made it to New York if I hadn't known you'd be here. I would have stayed in Lima and watched Puck be Beth's father and Quinn's husband and I would have been miserable for the rest of my life."

She slides her arms around his middle and she hugs him as tightly as she possibly can and whispers into his chest; "I'm really glad you found me."


xxi.

She goes to Finn's apartment and she lets herself in – she has a key to his apartment just as he has one to her and Kurt's – and he's sitting by the kitchen island eating a bowl of Froot Loops. She smiles, watching him shove a spoonful into his mouth, as her mind flashes back to an evening in his old kitchen about a year ago. When she first realized she'd fallen for Finn Hudson – her friend's stepbrother who was seven years older than her and married. She laughs a little to herself and that catches his attention.

"Hey, Rach! I didn't hear you come in," he says, smiling his adorable grin at her, "Want some?" He pushes the box of cereal toward her and she smiles but declines by a shake of her head. "So, what's up?" he says as she sits down next to him. "We didn't have plans, did we?"

"No," she says, "I was in the neighborhood and I thought I'd say hi."

It's not a complete lie. She was in the neighborhood – her neighborhood about ten blocks south of his. She just hadn't seen him in a few days since he'd been busy with work and Beth and she… well, she kind of missed him. Honestly it was getting harder and harder not getting to see him every day.

"Well then, hi," he says, shoving another spoonful into his mouth.

"Hi."

She watches him as he eats his snack with enthusiasm, once more flashing back to that day in his kitchen and she can't stop the smile that's tilting her lips.

He looks at her, "What are you smiling about?"

"Just remembering something," she says, a thin veil covering her words. He arches an eyebrow in question, asking her to go on. "This," she says, making a sweeping motion with her hand over the island, "reminds me very much of an afternoon we spent together about a year ago. We were sitting in your kitchen, talking and eating Froot Loops for dinner and that was when I knew."

"Knew what?"

"That I'd hopelessly fallen for you."

His mouth curves and he moves his chair closer to hers so that their thighs are pressed together and she thinks she can feel him shake a little. "And what about now?" he asks, his breath catching in his throat.

"Now," she says, drawing the word out to its full length, "Now I am one hundred percent certain that I'm hopelessly in love with you." She smiles at his dumbstruck expression and leans in and presses a kiss to his parted lips.

"Are you absolutely sure, Rachel?" he asks as their lips part, "I know you said you didn't want to be my rebound girl and you're not. You're not a rebound. You're it for me, Rachel. I just want you to really know that."

"I know," she says, caressing his face and tracing the scatter of freckles across his nose with the tips of her fingers. "Now, tell me you love me and kiss me back."

And he does and all she knows is that this is what it's supposed to feel like.

The End


A/N: Thanks so much for reading! This was probably my favorite story to write so far, I hope you enjoyed it as well!