hello! this is going to be a multi-chaptered story based on the 'project partners' prompt at finchel-prompts! hopefully finn and rachel are still mostly in character, but finn may seem a little off at the beginning based on the nature of the prompt.

the plan is to update this story every sunday!

dedicated to the lovely miss mary gael as always

title comes from 'honey' by the hush sound, chapter title from 'actors' by all time low

Staring at a Crooked Crown

chapter one: wasting away like a silver screen cliché

It's not her dream job, to say the least, working at a publishing house, but it pays the bills and it's not too terrible. She at least gets to say she works with her best friend, Tina.

Publishing is more of Tina's passion than Rachel's, but she hooked her up with this job when she was a poor college student looking for work, and now, four years later, she's still here. The salary is good, though, and the work isn't anything too terrible, so she's relatively happy with where she is currently.

She doesn't want this to end up being long term though. She has bigger dreams than working in a publishing house, dreams that involve her name up in lights. She did major in musical theater in college, after all.

She just has no idea how to make her dreams a reality, so she's working at the publishing house for the foreseeable future.

She's shaken from her reverie by the beeping sound of her coffee maker, and she curses, springing up out of her chair, the wooden legs scraping against the linoleum kitchen floor. She glances at the clock on the microwave. If she wants to get to work on time, she needs to leave in five minutes, and she still hasn't done her makeup or brushed her teeth.

Her phone rings, and she glances down to see Tina's name on the screen.

"Can't talk now," she answers, hurriedly pouring the coffee into a styrofoam cup. "I'm kind of behind schedule."

She hears Tina sigh. "Well, you know we have a huge meeting this morning, so don't cut it too close, Rach!"

"I'll be there as soon as I can," Rachel assures her. Then she hangs up, spills some hot coffee on her hand, and promptly drops her phone, which falls to the ground with a clatter.

She hisses in pain, rushing over to the sink.

Today is turning out to be terrible, and she's sure it's about to become worse.

She's so late. Her coffee's about to spill out of the styrofoam cup as she practically dashes into the building, her heels clacking on the tile floor.

"Hold the elevator!" she calls out. It's apparently to no avail as she sees the doors sliding shut, so she picks up her pace, and she skids inside just in time.

She lets out a breath of relief, adjusting her bag on her shoulder and taking a celebratory sip of her coffee.

"Cutting it a little close this morning, aren't we, Berry?"

Rachel sighs, contemplating banging her head against the wall of the elevator. "Hudson," she acknowledges through clenched teeth. She glances over at him to see he's smirking.

"You know, that skirt makes your ass look stunning."

She rolls her eyes, trying to keep herself from blushing.

Finn Hudson is the thorn in her side, and sadly, he's been working here for nearly as long as she has. He's slept with over half the girls in the office, and he objectifies her every chance he gets. She figures it's because he knows she won't give in to his wily pursuit of her.

She knows how guys like Finn work anyway – they hump and dump, and she's not just some booty call.

Finn raises an eyebrow. "What, no witty remarks about how misogynistic I am today, Berry?"

She gives him a sarcastic smile. "Seems like you already know what I'm going to say."

He winks at her. "I love our witty repartee."

She snorts. "This is not 'witty repartee.' Witty repartee is what goes on between Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy, not you complimenting my ass so you can get in my pants."

"Don't they end up together in the end?" Finn asks, his eyes twinkling.

She just huffs, rolling her eyes again.

Thankfully, the elevator dings then, and she practically sprints out of the elevator, Finn not far behind. She nearly runs into Tina, who says, exasperatedly, "There you are! The meeting's starting, Rachel, we've gotta go!"

She grabs her arm, guiding her toward the big conference room in the corner of the office. Rachel doesn't even have time to drop her bag off in her cubicle, so she just dutifully lets Tina drag her along.

They find a couple of seats in the second row, and Will Schuester, the head of the office, is already at the whiteboard in the front of the room. After everyone piles in, he shuts the door, surveying the room.

He smiles. "Good morning, everybody! How we feelin' this morning?"

There's a few murmurs around the room, and Rachel just shares a look with Tina. Will's little too peppy in the mornings, and that's coming from her, a professed morning person. (This morning, however, is an exception.)

Will goes through the itinerary for the day as well as the bigger plans for the month, and Rachel tries desperately to stay awake. Tina's taking notes furiously beside her, and Rachel wishes she could find this as interesting as she does. Publishing just doesn't cut it for her.

"And I'm excited to announce that our big project for this quarter will be coming up with a promotional campaign for the exciting new young adult novel Love Bites by Emma Pillsbury!"

There's a round of applause then, and Will motions for the room to quiet down. "Yes, very exciting, very exciting!"

Rachel just rolls her eyes. Great. Another teen vampire novel. Just what the publishing industry needs. What happened to good books, like Pride and Prejudice or Anna Karenina? What happened to a story that meant something, that was original? She knows books like that come from a different era, obviously, but she doesn't think it's so farfetched that the same themes and concepts could be applied to today's literature.

"Anyway," Will's saying once everyone quiets down, "the campaign will be led by two of our finest employees, Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson. I'm sure they'll do a wonderful job."

Rachel's frozen. Did Will just say her name? As well as Finn Hudson?

She glances to her left to see him smirking a few seats down, and she gulps. She feels a headache coming on already.

"Can't wait to work with you, Rach," he says. "I have so many ideas."

She gives him a sarcastic smile. "Can't wait," she mutters. Her stomach churns.

"On to the next order of business…" Rachel blocks Will out, because she thinks she might be sick. Not only does she have to promote this sure-to-be atrocity of a young adult novel, she has to work with Finn Hudson of all people.

Today is definitely a terrible day.

She's been staring blankly at her computer screen for nearly an hour.

She flipped through the rough draft of Love Bites Will gave her once she got back to her cubicle, and she could tell just by the first chapter that this book is complete and utter bullshit – another girl falling in love with a vampire, basically the staple of teenage novels today.

She would frankly rather sew her eyelids shut than have to read this book, let alone promote it with Finn Hudson.

She's just about to bang her head against her desk when Tina pokes her head over the wall of her cubicle.

"Hey," she says quietly. "How you doin'?"

Rachel just glares at her. "This book," she says slowly, empathetically, "is stupid. And not only is the book stupid, but I have to work on this stupid project with Finn Hudson, the actual bane of my existence!" She sighs exasperatedly, rubbing her temple.

She sees Tina bite her lip sympathetically.

"Well, you know, maybe this will be a great experience!"

Rachel looks at her in disbelief.

"Or – or not!" Tina backtracks. "But isn't life what you make it, ultimately?"

"Tina, please stop talking," Rachel says evenly, opening up her e-mail.

"I'm just saying that maybe you're assuming things will go badly when they'll be fine, Rach. I mean, maybe Finn isn't so bad after all! Maybe you just haven't had a chance to properly get to know him!"

Rachel scoffs. "Tina, I don't need to get to know him. I've known tons of guys like him. He's all about hook ups and one night stands and afraid of commitment. He's hooked up with over half of the women in this office! Not to mention he seems to have a complete lack of work ethic, yet somehow he's the golden boy around here when I know I put way more into this job than he does!" She takes a deep breath in, essentially to calm herself. "There are literally thousands of guys like him, and I don't want anything to do with them." She frowns as she opens the newest message in her e-mail account. "And great, now I have to go meet with Finn about the course of this project this afternoon!"

She sighs again, putting her head in her hands.

"Well," Tina says, "maybe if you look on the bright side—"

Rachel cuts her off with a glare.

"Fine!" Tina says with a huff. "Be negative, see if I care!" She disappears then, and Rachel's once again all alone in her cubicle.

She reads back through the e-mail. I'm sure you and Finn will get along swimmingly and make this marketing campaign the best it can be!

She snorts. Fat chance.

She finds herself in one of the smaller meeting rooms with Finn after her lunch break. It's just the two of them, and they've been sitting in awkward silence for five minutes.

"So…" Finn begins. "Did you look over the book?"

She nods.

"It's shit," he says.

She hates to admit that they actually agree on something, so she just says, "Will seems to think quite highly of it."

Finn snorts. "Yeah, well, he also thought highly of that book about the serial killing rabbit, and look at how well that one did."

Rachel has to try really hard to bite back a smile, but she manages. "Well, like it or not, we have to not only read this book, but figure out how to promote it as well." She sighs, glancing over some paperwork in front of her. "When does Will want this done by?"

"Next month," Finn says.

Rachel groans.

"Not up to the task, Berry?" he asks, flashing her a wicked grin.

She sets her mouth in a firm line. "You wish, Hudson. Unlike you, when I'm assigned a task, not only do I get it done, but I get it done to the best of my ability."

His grin only widens as he says, "Oh, I promise you I get things done as well." He waggles his eyebrows, and she scoffs.

"You're disgusting," she tells him pointedly, "and if you're done making juvenile innuendos, I'd like to actually get started on this project."

"Should we take turns reading aloud?" Finn deadpans.

Rachel glares at him. "We could start by looking at other campaigns done for similar novels, as background research, and then read the book before our next meeting."

Finn groans. "You're giving me homework, Berry?"

She rolls her eyes. "If you want to think of it that way, then yes, I suppose I am."

He sighs exasperatedly, tipping backward in his chair. She hopes he falls. "Well then, I guess all I can do is hope that the teacher finds it in her best interest to reward me once the job is done." He has the audacity to wink at her, and she just stares stonily in reply.

"I'm not sleeping with you, Finn," she replies, her voice monotone. She makes to get up then, gathering her things and putting them back in her bag.

"Just you wait and see," he says with another smirk, and she has to resist the urge to walk over and punch him.

Instead, she takes a deep breath, and she leaves the room, Finn calling out, "Told you that skirt makes your ass look nice!" behind her.

"It's going to be a nightmare, Tina," Rachel finishes, shoving some more vegan ice cream into her mouth.

Tina just watches sympathetically, her own spoon lodged in her tub of cookie dough ice cream. "Well, is the book any good at least?"

Rachel rolls her eyes. "I haven't actually started it yet, but it's another one of those 'teenage girl falls in love with centuries old vampire' novels, so I'm gonna go with no."

"Don't judge a book by its cover," Tin practically sings. Rachel just shovels more ice cream into her mouth. This is why Tina is cut out for publishing and she's not: She actually thinks of these things and hopes for the best when she opens up a new book to read.

"That could go for Finn, too, you know," Tina says carefully.

Rachel snorts. "Doubt it. And anyways, isn't this supposed to be girls' night? So why are we talking about guys?"

Tina just sighs, but she goes back to her ice cream.

Rachel flips on the television, trying to find some crappy reality show to keep her mind off the book she doesn't want to read, the campaign she doesn't want to put together, and the guy she definitely doesn't want to work with.

She knows you can't always get what you want, but she figured she wouldn't get quite so many crappy things in her life at one time. It seems that's not the case.

This next month is sure to be the worst month of her life.

thanks so much for reading and if you want to review, that'd be awesome!