this is based on the 'coach's daughter' prompt at finchel-prompts! there are some similarities between this and matt and julie's storyline on friday night lights (which is sort of why i was drawn to the prompt tbh) so fair warning for that!

dedicated as always to mary gael, who is always so supportive as i send her snippet after snippet

title is from the song of the same name by florence + the machine :)

between two lungs


It's not his first new school or anything. His mom's moved jobs several times already (mainly because of breakups with boyfriends or whatever), and he's been moving pretty much all his life, but this time, it's different, because they're not just moving because she broke up with some guy. Actually, this time, they're moving because she married some guy.

Finn likes Burt well enough, and his son Kurt is pretty cool, too. He's just not so sure about going to a new school and everything. William McKinley High is smaller than the school he was attending in Columbus, and he doesn't think that's going to be a good thing. He already stuck out enough as it were in a big school (because yeah, he's kind of a giant), and he can only imagine how much he'll stick out in a small school.

The new kid should blend in as much as possible, he's learned, and he doesn't know if that's going to end up being the case here.

Burt says he should go out for football, and Finn figures that it might be a way to make friends, so he goes to the first day of summer workouts. He seems to impress the coach at warm-ups – Coach Berry, he told him, and he's to be addressed as 'coach' or 'sir' at all times – who says he's got quite the arm.

Finn blushes a little bit at that, but Coach Berry just nods, telling him they'll have him throw to Puckerman for a bit. Puckerman turns out to be the wide receiver, nothing but a single strip of hair on his head, and he claps Finn on the shoulder pad.

"Heard you can throw the ball," he comments.

Finn shrugs. "I guess."

"Trust me," Puckerman says, his voice low, "anyone is better than Grimes, our current quarterback." He shakes his head. "Couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. We need some new blood."

Finn laughs a bit at that, and then Puckerman's handing him the ball, telling him he'll go long. "Let's see what you've got…" He trails off, and Finn realizes he's waiting for him to tell him his name.

"Finn," he supplies, "Finn Hudson."

Puckerman smiles. "Noah Puckerman, but most call me Puck." He holds out his hand, and hesitantly, Finn shakes it. "Alright, Hud, let's see what you're made of."

He takes off running down the field, and Finn launches the ball after him. Puck catches it easily, and when he jogs back, he's smiling.

"Much better than Grimes," he says, giving Finn a light shove.

"That's quite the arm you've got there, son, and you've got accuracy as well."

Finn turns around to see Coach Berry surveying him carefully, his eyes narrowed, but his expression thoughtful. Finn swallows nervously.

"How'd you like to play Titan football, son?"

"That – that'd be great," he manages to get out.

The coach just nods, still surveying him carefully. "Well, we do need a new quarterback. Grimes can go back to the offensive line where he belongs. You ever played first string football before, son?"

Finn shakes his head. "No, sir."

"Well, congratulations, you're now the first string quarterback." He gives Finn another nod, makes a note on his clipboard, and then he moves on, yelling at a group of guys practicing blocking.

Finn looks over at Puck, who's still smiling. "Congrats, QB!"

"Th – Thanks," Finn manages.

"Maybe we won't suck this year, with you at the helm," Puck goes on.

"Won't, uh, won't the other guys be mad, that I'm new and starting at quarterback?"

Puck shakes his head. "Nah. We've sucked too much for them to care. And you're good, Hud. And if they do have a problem?" He cracks his knuckles in what is apparently supposed to be a menacing way. "They'll have me to answer to."

Finn cracks a smile. "Well, uh, thanks, I guess."

"No problem," Puck says. "Now let's see just how far you can throw."

He takes off running again, and as Finn prepares to throw the ball, he thinks that maybe sticking out in this school might not be such a bad thing after all.


His first day of school actually isn't too bad, probably because it's the first day for everyone, so he doesn't stick out as much as he would otherwise. Actually, he's already friends with a lot of the guys on the team, and apparently people already know he's the quarterback, so things aren't too bad at all. A couple of girls have already smiled at him, and guys he doesn't even know have slugged him in the arm and welcomed him to McKinley.

It's definitely the weirdest first day he's ever had.

He does have some trouble finding his classes, however. It's between second and third period, and he's looking around in confusion for room 223. He swears he's in the 200 hallway, but the room is nowhere to be found.

"Hi!" He whips around to see a small, bright-eyed girl with long, dark, wavy hair beaming up at him. "You look a little lost."

He nods, licking his lips a bit, because she's like, really pretty, and he's not really used to talking to pretty girls. "Um, yeah, I – I'm looking for room 223?" He wants to kick himself. He sounds like an idiot.

"Oh, that room is in a side hallway," she tells him knowingly. She bites her lip, looking up at him from under her lashes, then she adds, "I could show you if you'd like?"

"That'd be great," he admits, and then she's grabbing his wrist, guiding him down the hallway. Her fingers are cool against his skin and his heart pounds in his chest as he tries desperately not to trip over his ridiculously large feet, trying to keep up with her. She weaves in and out of the crowded hallway expertly, and he notices a few people are staring at them – staring at him – as she tugs him along.

They turn right, left, then right again, and then she stops. "Well, here we are!" she says, her voice chipper. She's smiling at him again. "Mr. Schuester's Spanish classroom."

He grins in relief, double checking his schedule and the number on the door just to make sure they correlate. "Hey, thanks," he says, and then he frowns, realizing he doesn't know her name. "I'm Finn," he says.

"I know," she says, her tone teasing. "Everyone's been talking about you."

He raises his eyebrows. "Um, really?"

She nods seriously. "Oh, yes, everyone keeps going on about how adorable the new kid is. Well, most of the girls are anyway."

He blushes, rubbing the back of his neck somewhat awkwardly.

She laughs, and it's like probably the prettiest laugh he's ever heard, which is weird because he doesn't think he's ever considered a laugh to be pretty before. "I'm Rachel," she says, extending her hand, "and it's lovely to meet you, Finn."

"Cool," he smiles, shaking her hand, and then he backtracks, "I – I mean, it's cool of you to – to show me around, and stuff."

She just smiles wider. "Yeah, well… I should get to class. Chemistry." She makes a face, and he laughs. "But I'll see you around, Finn!"

She's gone then, maneuvering her way back into the crowd, and he's left standing there looking dumb for a moment. "See you around," he mutters, and then he walks into the classroom.

Puck is already waving him over, and he's grateful that he knows someone in the class. "Were you just talking to Rachel Berry?" he asks before Finn can even sit down, and something about his tone makes Finn furrow his brow in confusion.

"Um, maybe? She didn't tell me her last name—"

"Dude, you can't talk to Rachel Berry."

Finn thinks Puck's just playing with him at first, but his stare is so intense, he thinks he might be telling the truth.

"Why not?" he asks anyway.

Puck looks around before leaning in closer to Finn, hissing, "She's the coach's daughter, dumbass."

Finn's eyes widen, and he feels his Adam's apple bob as he swallows. "Coach – Coach has a daughter?"

"Yeah," Puck says slowly, "and that daughter is Rachel Berry. She's strictly off limits to players. And if Coach ever hears that you've been talking to her…" He shivers. "Just – just don't do it again, Hud, it's not worth it."

Finn just nods as Mr. Schuester starts class, spewing off a welcome in what he assumes is Spanish. (He doesn't know why they put him in Spanish II when he barely passed Spanish I, but whatever, it's better than being in a class full of freshmen).

He knows he should listen to Puck and avoid Rachel at all costs, but she was super nice, and she had such a bright smile, and – He shakes his head. He can't think of her in that way; Puck made it clear that she's off limits.

The last thing he wants is to cause a scene. He's just the new kid, and he somehow fits in here, so the last thing he wants is to potentially screw that up.


Avoiding Rachel isn't going to be easy, he finds out when he walks into his sixth period English class. She smiles when she sees him, and she motions to the empty desk next to her.

He knows he shouldn't, but he sits down next to her anyway (because it would just be rude otherwise, and she's been so nice, and didn't Puck just say that dating her was off limits? He said nothing about just being friends).

"So how has your first day been?" she asks him excitedly.

"Oh, um, fine." He rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably.

"That's good!" Rachel beams, and he can't but notice that her teeth are incredibly white.

Class starts then, and he tries to focus on what the teacher's saying instead of the way Rachel's hair is falling over her shoulder. He does pay attention enough to know that she assigns them homework on their first day – the first chapter of Huckleberry Finn to be read by the next class – which totally blows. Finally, the bell rings and he ends up walking out with Rachel.

"One more class to go," she says conversationally.

He nods. He adjusts his backpack strap.

"If – if you're interested, you could…" Rachel trails off, biting her lip.

Finn looks at her expectantly. "I could… what?"

"You could join the glee club," she says, her voice quiet and shy, not what he's been used to from her so far. She seems to notice his frown, because she adds, "It's a lot of fun, I promise! We could just use more guys, and we practice every day after school—"

"I can't," he says quickly. "Football practice."

Her smiles falls. "Oh," she says quietly. "Right."

"I – I'm really sorry," he finds himself saying, because she looks crestfallen, but she quickly plasters a smile back on her face.

"Oh, no, it's fine!" she tells him. "I mean, I completely understand! Maybe – maybe you could join after football season!"

He swallows thickly, because he really doubts that's going to happen. "Yeah, maybe," he allows anyway.

"Well, I've got to get to French!" she says. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

Finn nods. "See you tomorrow, Rach."

She smiles again before flouncing off, her skirt billowing out behind her.


It turns out that Kurt's friends with Rachel. Like, really good friends. He comes home from football practice a few days later to see that she's already there, her and Kurt's books spread out across the kitchen table.

"Oh, hi, Finn!" she says cheerfully as he walks in, and he practically does a double take.

"Er, hi, Rachel," he says, and he feels really self conscious because he's still sweaty from practice, and she looks pretty adorable in her purple dress with the bow in front.

"You two know each other?" Kurt asks, looking between them with narrowed eyes.

"We have English together," Finn says quickly.

Kurt purses his lips, still looking between them. "Oh," he says shortly.

"Well, I should probably go, uh, shower," he says quickly, "because, um, practice, and everything…"

"You should," Kurt agrees. "You smell rank, Finn. Sweat is not becoming of you!"

Finn blushes, the heat practically pulsating from his skin.

Rachel gasps in indignation. "Kurt!" She turns to Finn. "I happen to find your sweat incredibly sexy," she tells him matter-of-factly, and it takes nearly all of his energy to not cream his pants right then.

"I, um…" He just nods a bit, and then he backs up so he's in the hallway once more.

"Rachel," he hears Kurt hiss.

"What?" she says defensively. "He's hot, Kurt, and you were being mean!"

Finn practically dashes up the stairs, because holy shit Rachel Berry thinks he's hot and she's the coach's daughter so he shouldn't have these thoughts and he shouldn't care about what she thinks but he does.

He jumps into the shower while the water is still cold because he needs a way to cool down. It's not really helping, so he ends up jerking off in the shower anyway, and Rachel Berry is who he sees behind his closed eyelids, brown eyes fluttering as she bites her lip, sliding her dress up to show just a bit of leg.

He comes then, letting out a little groan, and he leans his head against the porcelain of the shower, letting the now-lukewarm water continue to soak him.

He knows he shouldn't think about her as much as he does, because she's literally the one girl he can't have, but he can't help it. There's just something about her, and he's never been so interested in a girl in his life.

He needs to find a way to fix that, but he really doesn't know how. (And frankly, he doesn't think he wants to, even though he knows he should.)


Rachel helps him study in the library after school on a Thursday. They have a test the next day over the first three chapters of Huckleberry Finn, and she forgot her book in her locker, so she's pressed up against him as she leans into his side to look at his copy with him, his arm is totally pressed up against her boobs.

He swallows, trying to focus on the words on the page. "It's just… the way he writes is so confusing, you know?"

"Yes, the vernacular is rather trying," Rachel agrees. "I'm not exactly a Mark Twain fan myself."

She lets out a little giggle then, and Finn has to resist the urge to press a kiss against her cheek, since she's literally right there. He takes a deep breath in through his nose.

"Are you okay?" Rachel asks, concerned.

He nods. "Y – Yeah. It's just, um, a lot to take in, you know?"

She smiles. "I understand," she assures him, squeezing his bicep gently. She's practically sitting in his lap, she's so close.

He glances at the clock. "Crap," he mutters, standing up, his chair screeching as he pushes it backwards.

"What?" Rachel asks, and she stands up as well. "What is it?"

"I have football practice in like, five minutes," he says quickly, "so I'm sorry, but I really gotta go."

Rachel pouts a bit, but she nods. "Oh, alright. Um, call me if you have any questions with the book? Kurt can give you my number."

"Yeah, sure," he says, picking up his bag and slinging it over his shoulder. "I'll talk to you tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever."

"Okay," she says, and the last thing he sees before he leaves the library is her fleeting smile.

(He's five minutes late to practice, and Coach makes him do ten extra up-downs on the stairs of the bleachers, but he doesn't really mind, because her smile is burned into his memory.)


He gets Rachel's number from Kurt that night – after a long and somewhat painful conversation where he had to assure his brother that yes it was just homework help, and no he's not calling for a booty call. (The fact that Kurt seemed to think Rachel would be down with that does funny things to him, though.)

Rachel answers on the second ring with a breathy little, "Hello?"


"Yes, this is she. May I ask who's calling?"

God, she even sounds grown up on the phone. He sits down on the edge of his bed precariously. "It's Finn. I was hoping you could help me figure out Huckleberry Finn."

She laughs, and then she agrees, quickly launching into a summary of the chapters they had to read. Finn tries his best to follow along, but he gets caught up in the cadence of her voice, the way it goes up when she gets really excited and into what she's talking about. He imagines her mouth forming the words, imagines her sweeping her hair over her shoulder, and he knows he's already in too deep.

He really likes the coach's daughter, and this is a problem. A big one at that.

They end up talking about more than just Huckleberry Finn, like their favorite books in general (she laughs at him when he asks if Iron Man comic books count), and their favorite superheroes (she picks Spiderman, because she thinks Andrew Garfield's hot, which makes Finn snort, telling her they'll have to watch The Avengers sometime), and even their favorite musicals.

Rachel gasps when he tells her he's never seen Funny Girl, exclaiming, "How are you living with Kurt and you've never seen Barbra's greatest work?"

"Well, our parents have only been married for a few months," Finn points out.

He hears Rachel sigh. "Still, that's no excuse. We'll just have to watch it sometime, after your superhero movie perhaps."

He grins. "Yeah?"


It's just so easy to talk to Rachel, and he doesn't feel awkward. He feels like he's known her his whole life. His heart pounds in his chest just thinking about her.

They hang up after about an hour, and he's not sure how he'll do on his test over Huckleberry Finn, but he knows he'll fall asleep dreaming about the girl with the dark brown eyes and the contagious smile.


Coach calls him into his office the Tuesday before their first game.

"Hudson, how you holding up?" Coach Berry peers at Finn over his spectacles, his hands crossed. "Nervous about the game on Friday?"

Finn hesitates, then nods. "Y – Yes, sir."

"I know it's your first varsity game, but you'll be fine." His gaze doesn't leave Finn's. "You just need to relax, son."

"Relax?" Finn asks. He nervously rubs the back of his neck.

"Son," Coach Berry says slowly, leaning forward a bit in his seat, "you got a girlfriend?"

Finn gulps. Surely Coach Berry can't know that the one girl Finn's even thought of in that way is his daughter. "No, sir."

Coach Berry frowns. "Well, you got a girl you'd like to take out?"

"Well, I…"

"Son, I don't care if you take her to dinner or get her in the back of your truck – frankly, I could care less – but the point is, you need to blow off some steam before the big game, and taking out a girl is what I would recommend. So you're going on a date before Friday. Is that understood?"

Coach Berry raises his eyebrow, and he knows it's not really a question.

"Is that understood?" he repeats, and Finn realizes he's waiting for an answer.

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Now get out of my office."

Finn does as he's told, quickly heading back into the locker room. His heart pounds furiously in his chest. He knows he should just ask out some random girl, but the only girl he'd want to go on a date with is Rachel. The coach's daughter.

He sighs, sitting down on the bench. He knows that's definitely not a good idea.


He makes the mistake of talking to Puck about his situation, and Puck whacks him on the back of the head.

"You're an idiot," Puck tells him, "and that's comin' from me."

"I know," Finn mutters, rubbing the back of his head and frowning. "But I – I really like her, Puck."

"I told you to stay away from Rachel, and now you've gone and fallen in love with her—"

"I'm not in love with her!" Finn says defensively.

Puck just looks at him. "I told you to stay away, but you didn't listen to me, and you kept talking to her, and I'm sure you thought you could be just friends, and now you're in love with her—"

"Okay, okay, okay," Finn says hastily. "Okay, I get it." He pauses, then he asks, "But if I were to ask her out, how should I do that?"

Puck whacks him on the back of the head again.

He guesses he deserves it.


Wednesday, when he gets home from school, Rachel and Kurt are watching a movie in the living room. His palms instantly grow sweaty and his heart begins to pound just knowing that she's in the other room.

Kurt ignores him, but Rachel waves hello. He waves back before heading into the kitchen. He makes himself a grilled cheese sandwich, and he's just sitting down to eat it when Rachel comes in.

His eyes widen and he forces himself to swallow the half-chewed bite of sandwich. "H – Hi, Rach," he says once his mouth isn't full.

"Hello, Finn," she greets pleasantly, getting herself a glass of water. "How was football today?"

He shrugs. "Fine," he allows. "I'm just kind of nervous for the game Friday, I guess."

"Well, don't be!" Rachel says with a smile, and she reaches over to squeeze his shoulder. "You'll be great, Finn, I know it."

Finn smiles as she pulls away. He thinks she might've left burn marks where she touched him; his skin feels hot even through his shirt, like her touch has set him on fire.

She gets up then, presumably to join Kurt back out in the living room, but he grabs her wrist before she can leave.

"Wait, Rachel…" He tries to focus on breathing, but his words get caught in his throat.

She looks at him expectantly, her eyebrow quirking up slightly. "Yes?" she asks.

"I – I was wondering if maybe you'd wanna get dinner with me tomorrow night?"

She smiles, pulling her bottom lip into her mouth. "As in a date?"

He knows this is his chance to backtrack – to say of course this isn't a date why would she think that – but instead, he just swallows, saying, "Um, if you want it to be."

Her smile widens. "I'd like that very much."

He smiles a bit himself then, and he says, "Cool," because he's not really sure what else he's supposed to say.

They stand there awkwardly smiling at each other for a few minutes, and then Kurt calls, "Rachel? Where are you?"

"I should – I should get back," she says, gesturing to the door, and Finn nods. "Text me?"

He smiles and nods again.

"See you tomorrow," she mouths, and then she steps back into the living room.

He does a little fist pump in the air, because Rachel Berry just agreed to go on a date with him. And then his stomach sinks, because Coach Berry's daughter just agreed to go on a date with him.

He really likes her, and he hopes this works out, because otherwise, he's going to be murdered by his football coach for nothing.


Kurt comes into his room at 10:38 that evening, his stare murderous. "Are you taking my best friend out on a date tomorrow?" he asks, spits out practically.

"Um," Finn says, "yeah?"

Kurt folds his arms. "Why? What's in it for you?"

Finn just stares at him. "I really like Rachel, okay?"

Kurt scoffs, rolling his eyes. "Well, you better mean that, because she is very excited about this for whatever reason, and if you're just toying with her, Finn Hudson—"

"Dude, chill," Finn says, putting his hands up. "I like her, like a lot, okay? I shouldn't, but I do, and I asked her out because I want to go out with her."

Kurt just stands there for a moment, lips pursed, but then he uncrosses his arms and sighs. "Oh, well, I guess I believe you."

"Good," Finn says. There's a beat of silence, then he asks, "Was she really excited?"

"The entire last hour she was here it's all she talked about," Kurt tells him.

Finn smiles despite himself.

"Oh my God," Kurt says, and he sounds disgusted, "you really do like her."

Finn shrugs. "Her dad'll probably kill me if he finds out, but yeah, I do."

Kurt looks confused, and he asks, "Which dad?"

Finn's heart about stops in his chest. "She has more than one?"

Kurt nods. "Yeah, she has two gay fathers, didn't you know?"

Mutely, Finn shakes his head. He thinks he might pass out. She has two dads that'll want to kill him.

"Which one would be the one who would want to kill you?"

"The – the one that coaches football," Finn says. "Coach's daughter is off limits, at least according to Puck."

"And you asked her out anyway?" Kurt asks. He's kind of looking at Finn like he's mentally unhinged.

Finn shrugs. "I really do like her, Kurt. Like, she's the nicest person ever, and she helped me out on my first day here, and she's really pretty, and her hair smells nice, and I don't know. She's the only girl I've really been able to like, form a connection with."

Kurt's eyes soften. "That's incredibly sweet, Finn."

Finn feels himself blush.

"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone," Kurt assures him, "but that's incredibly sweet."

Finn just throws a pillow at him, making Kurt laugh as he leaves the room.


Rachel comes over to his house after school because apparently Kurt is helping her get ready for their date. Finn's kind of grateful because it means he doesn't have to pick her up at her house and potentially see her dad. He doesn't even know if she told Coach Berry she was going on a date with him. He definitely didn't tell him, and Coach Berry didn't act like he was going to murder him at practice, so he thinks she probably didn't.

He's waiting in the living room for her to come downstairs, drumming his fingers idly against his thigh. He's nervous, because, like, what if this goes terribly, and what if she ends up deciding she doesn't even like him, or her dad busts through the doors of Breadstix halfway through, demanding he step away from his baby girl?

His palms begin to sweat, and he hastily wipes them on his jeans. He just has to remind himself that everything will be fine.

(He wants it be better than fine though. He wants it to be perfect.)

He looks up when he hears the clearing of the throat to see Kurt beaming in the doorway.

"Presenting Miss Rachel Berry!" He steps aside then, but nothing happens. No one's behind him. His smile freezes in place.

Kurt clears his throat again, louder this time. Still nothing. "Rachel!" he hisses.

Still nothing.

Finn's heart pounds. She probably decided this was a bad idea after all.

Kurt gives him a small, hesitant smile, holding up a finger. "One moment." He disappears into the hallway then, and Finn can hear him and Rachel talking in hushed voices.

"I look ridiculous!"

"—get your cute butt in there, Rachel Berry—"

"—going to laugh at me—"

"He'll be drooling more like, now go!"

On the last word, Kurt shoves Rachel into view, and she's standing in the doorframe, giving Finn a nervous smile.

His breath catches in his throat.

Her hair's wavy, her bangs pinned back, and she's wearing just a bit of eyeliner and mascara. Her dress comes to her knees, and it's black with spaghetti straps and a neckline that shows just a bit of cleavage.

Finn swallows once, twice before he finds his voice. "Wow, Rachel, you look—"

"Like an idiot," she supplies.

He shakes his head. "I was gonna say stunning, actually."

Rachel blushes, ducking her head.

Finn just stares some more, soaking her in, and he's about to pinch himself to see if this is actually, truly happening when Kurt says, "Well, you two had better get going, shouldn't you?"

Finn holds out his hand, and Rachel takes it, easily lacing her fingers with his.


It's really easy to talk to Rachel. She asks him about his old schools, and she actually listens when he describes them and stuff. She wants to know when he got into football, too, and that's when he grins sheepishly.

"This is, uh, this is actually my first year playing," he admits.

Rachel's eyes widen at that. "But Daddy says you're so good!"

It takes him a second to realize that by 'daddy' she means Coach Berry, and when he does, he blushes. "Yeah, well, I mean…" He rubs the back of her neck. "I'm okay, I guess?"

"I bet you're better than okay," Rachel says, giving him a smile as she stabs a piece of vegan ravioli.

Finn just grins, looking down at his empty plate. His smile slowly fades when he remembers her dad, however, and he clears his throat before he asks, "Does, uh, does your dad – Coach Berry I mean – know that you're out on a date with me right now?"

Rachel bites her lip. "Why would he need to know that?"

"So, he doesn't know?" Finn clarifies.

"Finn," Rachel says slowly, "what's going on?"

He sighs. This is where everything could potentially be ruined. "There's apparently this rule that none of the football players are supposed to date the coach's daughter," he says in a rush, hoping it'll sound less ridiculous if the words are tumbling over each other.

Apparently it doesn't work, because Rachel laughs. She tries to stifle her giggles with the palm her hand, but her shoulders are shaking with laughter, and it's not long before Finn is chuckling as well. He can't not, because she's just too adorable.

"Oh, Finn," she says sweetly when she's finally calmed herself, "my daddy's just overprotective." She reaches over to grab his hand that's resting on the table, intertwining her fingers with his. "But ultimately, he doesn't have the right to decide who I date. I do." She smiles. "And I like you, a lot, and I'm so glad you asked me out despite my daddy's barbaric rule."

"I like you, too," Finn says quietly, and he slowly moves his thumb over the back of her hand.

Rachel lets out this little, tiny gasp, and she locks eyes with him then. He doesn't stop smoothing his finger over her skin. Her eyes are large and brown and the prettiest eyes he's ever seen.

She's leaning closer, and before he realizes what he's doing, he's leaning across the table as well, her face getting closer and closer to his. He closes his eyes right before his lips touch hers, and her mouth molds perfectly to his. He brings one hand up to cup her cheek, and he keeps it there when she pulls away.

She bites her lip as he moves his thumb over her cheek. "I – I'm finished with my meal, I think, if you wanna go somewhere else."

His surprise must show on his face, because she adds, "Just to talk, not do anything… crazy."

"Right," he says quickly, and he slowly retracts his hand. "Yeah, I'll just, uh, I'll just get the bill then."

She giggles while he signals the waiter, and he tries to commit the sound to memory. It's beautiful, just like everything else about her.

She holds onto his arm as they head back out to his truck, her fingers pressed tightly against his jacket, and he smiles down at her. She grins right back at him.

"So," he says, "where do you wanna go?"


"The football field?" he asks incredulously as he pulls into a parking space, turning off his headlights.

"Just trust me," Rachel says, climbing out of the cab of his truck.

"Rach," he says, hurrying to follow her. She's already ahead of him, but he quickly catches up. "Rach, we can't just break into the football stadium! I can't afford to get in trouble with the school or – or your dad—"

"Finn, relax," Rachel says with a smile, brandishing her dad's set of keys. They dangle from her fingertips.

He lets out a little sigh and follows her inside once she unlocks the gate. She hits a switch, and the stadium is flooded with light.

"Why are we here exactly?" Finn asks, blinking as his eyes try to adjust.

Rachel doesn't answer, just walks to the center of the field. Once she reaches her destination, she turns to face him, crooking her finger. He stuffs his hands in his pockets before joining her.

"We're here for a pep talk," she says seriously.

He wants to laugh – and if it were anyone other than Rachel standing before him in the middle of the football stadium, he would – but he just purses his lips. "A pep talk?"

"You are going to do great things on this field tomorrow night, Finn Hudson," she says, spreading her arms out and gesturing to the entire stadium. She looks like she could fly. "I'm going to be cheering for you, and the entire school is going to be cheering for you, and you are going to be an amazing leader on this field." She grabs his hands in her own impossibly small ones, her gaze intent as she looks at him. "I know it, my dad knows it, and your team knows it. You just have to know it, okay?"

He finds himself nodding, because maybe she's right. Maybe, with some confidence, he really can lead the Titans to a victory tomorrow. "Has anyone ever told you how great you are, Rachel Berry?" he asks, squeezing her hands in his own.

She blushes, her gaze falling to the ground. "Besides my dads, no, not really."

"Well, you're pretty much the greatest girl I've ever met," Finn tells her, and she peeks up at him then, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

"Really?" she asks, her voice small.

"Really," he promises, and then he puts a finger under her chin, tilting her face up so he can kiss her.

Her hands move to grip the fabric of his coat, and he uses one of his hands to cradle the back of her head. Hesitantly, he outlines her lips with his tongue, and then she's opening her mouth to let him in. She tastes like the ravioli she had for dinner but there's also something else, something he'd like to think is distinctly Rachel.

Her lips are a little swollen when he pulls away, her eyes half shut, but then she opens them wider and smiles.


The team is down by three. There are fifteen seconds left on the clock. Finn licks his lips, getting in position to receive the ball. He calls the play, and then there's the snap, and the ball's in his hands. He moves his feet, shuffling from side to side, trying to find an open man, and then he sees him – Puck, wide open in the end zone. He cocks his arm back and throws, watching the ball sail through the air and into Puck's waiting hands.

The crowd roars and he can't believe it – they fucking won – and then he's being tackled by his teammates, hugs coming from all directions, his helmet slapped by various hands. Different colors start to mix with the red and white, and he realizes that the crowd is now on the field. He subconsciously looks for Rachel, and it's not hard to find her.

She's running toward him, a smile on her face, and then she's throwing herself at him, catching him off guard. He stumbles a bit, but he steadies himself just before she crushes her lips to his. He forgets about the game, forgets about the people, forgets about everything as she stands on her tiptoes and molds her mouth to his, her arms wrapped around his neck.

"You were amazing!" she squeals as she pulls away. "Just like I knew you'd be, Finn!"

He smiles back at her, smoothing back some of the hair that's in her face. He looks over her head then, and his heart stops. He thinks he might be sick.

Coach Berry is watching them, and he doesn't look very happy.

"What?" Rachel asks, crinkling her nose in confusion. "What is it?"

"Y – Your dad," he manages to choke out, and he tries to unhinge her arms from around his neck, tries to take a step back, but she's having none of it.

"Finn," she says slowly, "my father doesn't decide who I date. I do."

And before he can reply, she wraps her arms back around his neck and kisses him again.


He's called into Coach Berry's office on Monday before practice. His heart pounds in his chest as he knocks on the doorframe. Coach looks up, his mouth set in a stern line.

"Come in," he says, and Finn thinks he might throw up.

"Have a seat, son," Coach says, and Finn has no choice but to sit in the plastic seat across from his desk.

There's a few minutes of awkward silence as Coach stares Finn down. Finn just swallows, his palms sweating. He doesn't want to say the first word. He can't. If he tries, nothing will come out.

"So," the coach says finally, "you were kissing my daughter on Friday night."

It's not a question. Finn gulps.

Coach Berry just continues to stare at him, and he realizes (too late) that it seems like he's waiting on an answer.

"Yes, sir."

"I don't like that," Coach tells him, his voice soft, but menacing. "I don't like that at all."

Finn clears his throat – because he knows he has to say something besides 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir' – and says, "With all due respect, sir, I really do like your daughter, and I know she likes me, too—"

"How long has this been going on?" he asks, cutting Finn off, his gaze piercing behind his glasses.

"A – I mean, I've liked her since I – like, since I first saw her, practically, but we just started dating this past week—"

"Are you violating my baby girl?"

Finn's eyes widen, and he says hastily, "Wh – violating? No! No, I have nothing but respect for Rachel, and I would never ever even think of – of putting her in a situation where she would be uncomfortable—"

"So you and my daughter aren't having sexual relations? It's a yes or no question, son."

Finn's so red, he can practically feel the heat emanating from his cheeks. "No, sir," he mutters.

"Have you thought about having sexual relations with my daughter?"

Finn gets impossibly redder, and the honest answer is yes, so he knows he should lie, but all he can do is sputter, "I – I…"

"Son," Coach Berry says, and there's a tone of finality in his voice, "I don't like that you're seeing my daughter. And if you value your place on this team, I'm going to have to ask you stop. Is that understood?"

Finn hears a sort of ringing in his ears, and he swears the room is spinning, everything in slow motion. He has to break up with Rachel, or he won't be on the football team. In what universe is this fair?

"Is that understood, Finn?" Coach Berry repeats.

Finn nods, the action foreign feeling. "Yes, sir," he whispers.

He's dismissed then, and Finn knows he has to break up with Rachel, and he has to do it soon. He just doesn't know how, not without breaking her heart.

(He already knows there's no way to do it without breaking his own.)


He tries breaking up with her on his front porch that evening.

"We can't – we can't do this thing," he says, gesturing between the two of them. "You and me, I mean. This dating thing."

Rachel just frowns, furrowing her brow. "And why not?" she demands.

(She looks pretty adorable, but Finn can't think about that.)

He averts his gaze, scuffing his shoe against the porch floor. "We're just – we're different, you and me, and—"

"It's my dad, isn't it?" she breaks in.

"Wh – no!" he lies, looking up to see her glaring at him fiercely.

"Finn," she says, her voice not unlike her father's, low and dangerous, "what did he say to you?"

"Nothing," he tries to say, but she just continues to glare, so he sighs. "He just – he doesn't want us dating, okay, and if I want to keep my spot on the team, I have to break up with you."

There's silence. Then Rachel says, "So football is more important than I am to you?"

"Rachel," he says, "it's not that simple."

"Look," she cuts him off, "we're not breaking up. I'm mad at you, and we're not currently speaking, but we're not breaking up, Finn. Not over something stupid like this."

He doesn't know what he's supposed to do or say, because girls are so confusing, so he settles for an, "Um, okay," and just watches her storm off, climbing into her little blue Prius and slamming the door.

He's not sure about what just happened, but apparently he still has a girlfriend. She's not speaking to him, but she's still his girlfriend, and a guilty feeling of relief expands in his chest.


She calls him that night to let him know that she's decided to speak to him again.

"I understand the pressures you were under," she explains. "My daddy can be quite intimidating."

He thinks that's an understatement, but he doesn't say that, at least not to her. He settles for, "Yeah…" instead.

"Look, Finn," she says, and her voice gets soft, and he can tell she means whatever she's about to say. "I really, really like you, and I understand that there are certain… challenges that come along with dating me, my father aside. I mean, I can be demanding, I sing nearly all the time, and I have perfectionist tendencies. I know it can't be easy to be with me, so I guess what I'm trying to say is… If you're just using my father as an excuse to break up with me, I need to know. Because my daddy I can deal with. We can handle that. But if you really want to break up, I just…" She takes a deep breath in, and he can imagine her tear-filled eyes, her lips wobbling as she speaks.

"Rachel," he says quickly, trying to make his voice reassuring – because how could she even think he doesn't like her, that he's not on his way to being irrevocably in love with her? "It's just your dad, I swear. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't have asked you out in the first place. I'm not – I'm not one of those douchebag guys, you know?"

He hears her laugh on the other end, and her voice is shaky, but she sounds relieved. "I know," she says quietly. "I guess I just kind of… panicked. Because you know that I can talk to my daddy about us, right? He's not going to stop us from being together, Finn."

"I just don't know if that's a good idea, Rach," he says warily, and he can practically imagine the look she's wearing on her face: Eyes narrowed and lips twitching.

"Finn, my daddy has never been able to deny me anything," she tells him matter-of-factly. "And you know what I want more than anything in the world as of right now, Finn?"

"What?" he asks, his throat suddenly dry. His word comes out as barely louder than a whisper.

"You," she tells him.

His heart swells. "I just wanna be with you, too, Rach," he tells her, and he can't wipe off the stupid grin that's taken over his features.

"Good," she says cheerily, "then it's decided. We're going to stay together and I'm going to talk to my daddy."

"Sounds like a plan," he agrees, and then she starts talking about how Kurt told her she dresses like a five year old again today, and he assures her that he likes the way she dresses (and he does, with her knee high socks and skirts and penny loafers or whatever), and he thinks that things might be back to normal.

(Except her dad probably still wants to kill him, but she said she would deal with that, and he thinks he just has to trust her.)


She's already at his locker when he gets to school the next morning, and she greets him with a kiss, her hand firmly gripping his shoulder as she stands on her tiptoes.

"Good morning to you, too," he says, and he can't stop himself from smiling.

She smiles back, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes, so he instantly knows something's up, and he has a feeling he knows what it's about.

"So… how did things with your dad go?"

Rachel sighs, running a hand through her hair. "He's being stubborn, and he refuses to accept the fact that I'm no longer his little girl, that I'm growing up."

"Look," Finn says, pulling out his pre-calculus book, "I don't want to cause any problems between you and your dad—"

"Finn, this isn't about you," she insists. "It's about his inability to accept the fact that, no matter what, I'm growing up, and I can make my own decisions. And you're my decision." She pauses, licking her lips before she adds softly, "I choose you."

He leans down and kisses her again, chastely, but he feels her smile under his lips.

"We should probably get to class," Rachel says somewhat wistfully as the warning bell rings, but he just takes her hand.

"I'll walk you."

"How chivalrous of you," she says, her eyes twinkling as she smiles up at him, but she swings their hands back and forth. He can see others watching them as they walk down the hallway, but he can't bring himself to care.

"That's good thing, right?" he asks, and she just smiles, pressing her nose against his shoulder.

It's essentially him and Rachel against the world now, and he thinks that's fine with him, because as long as he has her, he'll be okay.


Rachel arranges a meeting between Finn, her dad, herself, and the guidance counselor, Ms. Pillsbury, and he gets pulled out of class on a Wednesday to go talk things out.

"So," Ms. Pillsbury starts, straightening out a few pens that are set on her desk, "I understand you have some issues you'd like to address. Rachel, why don't we start with you?"

Rachel doesn't waste any time, diving right in. "My father is having trouble accepting the fact that I am growing up and becoming a woman," Rachel says matter-of-factly. "He refuses to accept the fact that I'm dating the quarterback of his football team, and that, more importantly, I like him very much." She reaches over and grabs Finn's hand, linking their fingers.

He tries to smile at her, but it probably turns out to be more of a grimace. His heart pounds. Coach Berry glares at him.

"I know boys like him, Rachel," Coach says then. "You don't need to be exposed to the boys on the football team. You're better than that, Rachel, and I just want what's best for you—"

"Daddy, you barely even know him!" Rachel shrieks. "He's been playing for you for almost two months now and all you've bothered to do is to get to know his name! You don't know the first thing about Finn, and you haven't taken the chance to find out!"

Her grip on Finn's hand is painful now, her nails digging into his skin, but he just grits his teeth.

"Rachel, I'm your father, and I think I have a certain right—"

"You don't though!" Rachel snaps. "This is my life, Daddy, and you can't control every aspect of it. I like Finn, and he likes me, and I'm going to date him, and kiss him, and who knows, maybe even have sex with him, but ultimately, that's my choice, not yours!"

Finn knows he's blushing (because did Rachel really just say that she might have sex with him, and in front of her dad?), but he finds his voice, saying, "Sir, I – I promise that I just want the best for Rachel, too. She really means a lot to me, and I'm not – I'm not just playing around with her or anything. I really, really like her." He actually thinks he might love her, but he thinks that this is probably neither the time nor the place for that confession.

"Are you having sex with my daughter, son?" Coach Berry asks, his voice dangerous and his glare menacing.

Finn gulps. "I – no, sir—"

"Please, Daddy," Rachel says. "Please just… have him over for dinner this week, let him prove you wrong. He's a nice guy, and he really cares about me. Please just give him – give us – a chance to prove that to you."

There's silence, Ms. Pillsbury anxiously watching the three of them. Rachel looks pleadingly at her father, and he looks between her and Finn. Finally, he sighs, looking resigned.

"Okay, Princess," he says. "We'll have Finn over for dinner tomorrow night, and I'll withhold all judgments until then, alright?"

Rachel beams, standing up to hug her father.

"Well, this is fantastic!" Ms. Pillsbury says, smiling brightly. "A conclusion has been reached that's good for everyone, yes?"

"We'll see," Coach Berry says, and he looks over at Finn once more.

Finn swallows.

He really hopes that dinner goes well tomorrow.


"Dude, Coach is gonna murder you," Puck says, ever the helpful friend.

Finn rolls his eyes, taking a sip of his Big Gulp. They're sitting on the hood of Puck's SUV outside the 7/11, Puck downing a six pack of Samuel Adams. He'd offered some to Finn, saying it would calm his nerves, but Finn knows he shouldn't, because he wouldn't put it past Coach Berry to be able to smell alcohol on someone within a week of the time they'd consume it.

"I just – I need to make a good impression, you know?"

Puck shrugs. "I've never done the whole 'meet the parent' thing, dude, so I don't really know what to say here."

Finn sighs.

"Is this chick really worth all this, the coach hating you and stuff?" Puck asks. "I mean, Berry's fine and everything, but there's a lot of fine chicks at this school. Quinn Fabray, for one." He lets out a low whistle. "I mean, is she really that special?"

"Yeah," Finn says, but he doesn't look at Puck. He looks out at the dark night instead. "Yeah, she is. She's just – she's different than other girls." He swallows, then he takes another drink from his Big Gulp. "And I think – I think I might be in love with her."

Puck lets out another low whistle. "That's a big confession there, Hud."

"I know," Finn says, but he laughs a little. "It's kind of ridiculous isn't it?"

"Nah," Puck says, to Finn's surprise. "I mean, maybe love's not my thing, but… I can see it. Rachel love you back?"

"I don't know," Finn answers honestly. "I mean, we haven't been together for that long, and I haven't exactly told her that I love her, so… I don't know."

"I don't think she'd be fighting her old man on this as hard as she is if she didn't," Puck points out.

Finn bites back a smile. "You think?"

Puck nods. "Okay, enough of this pussy feelings shit, I wanna get wasted." He cracks open another can, offering it to Finn. "Sure you don't want a beer, Hud?"

"I'm sure," Finn laughs, and Puck just shrugs.

"More for me then." He tilts his head back, chugging down the alcohol.

Puck's words bounce around in Finn's head. I don't think she'd be fighting her old man on this as hard as she is if she didn't.

His heart swells, and he just loves her, and he really hopes she loves him, too.


Dinner isn't as awkward as it could be, thanks in part to the other Mr. Berry – Leroy, as he insists Finn call him.

"I'm just so excited to be meeting the boy that makes our baby girl so happy," he tells Finn when he greets him at the door, and Finn blushes, but he shakes Leroy's hand anyway as Rachel beams.

Coach Berry grunts when he sees him – as a way of acknowledgement, Finn supposes. He figures it's progress from the glare.

Leroy tells him that he and Rachel made this meal especially with him in mind, and Finn smiles over at Rachel, who's blushing.

"Papa," she hisses, but she looks pleased with herself.

"It looks great, Rach," he tells her, and she squeezes his thigh.

Leroy asks him about his classes, what he hopes to do after high school, and about the other schools he went to before he came to Lima. Finn answers his questions honestly and pretty easily, but he's wary of Coach, who's been eating in silence, his gaze never too far from Finn or Rachel or their hands, which are intertwined, resting on the table.

Leroy's telling Finn about how New York City is actually so great no matter what he wants to study, what with so many prestigious schools ("and that's where our Rachel is going, you know!") when Coach finally breaks in, "Finn, what are your intentions with our daughter?"

"Hiram," Leroy hisses, but Coach just stares Finn down.

"No, it's – it's fine," he finds himself saying, and he clears his throat. Rachel gives his hand a reassuring squeeze. "I guess my intentions are just to, um, to make sure she's happy and – and I know that sounds like, lame, or like a line or whatever, but it's honestly the truth. I just care about her a lot, and I wanna make sure that she's happy, in whatever she's doing."

Leroy presses a hand to his chest, reaching up with his napkin to dab at his eyes. Rachel looks like she might cry as well, and he really hopes the tears are the good kind.

"Well," Coach says, and Finn doesn't realize he's been holding his breath until he exhales, "I guess I can't ask for any more than that."

Finn just gapes for a moment, stunned. "Is that – are you okay with me dating Rachel then?"

Coach Berry just smiles, giving a slight inclination of his head. "Rachel's right, I was writing you off. You're not like a lot of your teammates, Finn, and I misjudged you, for which I apologize. You certainly do make my little Rachel happy. You both have my blessing."

Rachel squeals, jumping up and running around the table to hug her father, wrapping her arms around his neck as she presses a kiss against his cheek.

"Thank you, Daddy, thank you thank you thank you!"

Once she lets go of him, Coach extends a hand across the table. Finn's quick to shake it, and when he locks with Coach Berry, he feels like this is some kind passing of the torch, like he's acknowledging that Finn actually wants to take care of Rachel as much as he does.

He feels like it's his first handshake as a man.


"That went well!" Rachel grins, snuggling into his side. He wraps his arm around her, dropping a kiss on her hair.

They're sitting on her front porch, a warm September breeze blowing. She's wearing one of his sweatshirts she stole from his truck earlier in the week. It's too big for her, her hands lost within the sleeves.

"It did go well," he murmurs.

She puts her chin on his shoulder, looking up at him from underneath her eyelashes. She presses a feather light kiss against the side of his mouth, and he turns his head so he catches her lips with his own instead.

When she pulls away, he whispers, "I love you." His eyes widen. He didn't mean to say that; the words just fell out of his mouth.

"Wh – what?" Her eyes are wide as well, her fingers still curled around his shoulder blade.

He knows he should probably backtrack, pretend it didn't happen, but it did, and he means it, so he says with a bit more confidence, "I love you, Rachel. You don't have to say anything back, I just… I figured you should know."

She just stares at him for a moment, and then she smiles, soft and slow. Her hand comes up to cup his cheek, her fingers gliding over his skin, and then she kisses him, her lips pressing sweetly against his. "I love you, too," she whispers against his mouth for a moment, then she kisses him again, kisses him until Leroy comes out onto the porch and says "Oops, hope I'm not interrupting something!" but even then, she keeps her arms wrapped around his arm, her head on his shoulder.

She's smiling, and so is he. He doesn't remember ever being so happy.


She whispers that she's ready on the Thursday night before the first playoff game. Kurt's out with his new boyfriend, Blaine, and his mom and Burt went on a fall break trip to Jamaica. They're on his bed, mouths fused together and hands roaming.

"Are – are you sure?" he says back, and she just nods, kissing him insistently, her tongue easily sliding into his mouth.

His hands slide under her shirt, his fingertips grazing the outline of her bra, and he feels her shiver. She moans into his mouth as he unsnaps her bra, his hand finding her breast, and they've done this before, but now it feels different, because he knows it's going to lead to something more.

Soon they've both shed their clothes and it's just him and her in the truest sense of the phrase, naked and vulnerable, their breathing heavy. She blushes as he takes her in, and he notes that the blush spreads to her chest. He presses a tentative kiss against her shoulder, and her fingers curl into his bicep.

"F – Finn," she breathes, and he continues to press kisses against her heated skin, making his way down her torso. He stops on one breast, taking a pert nipple into his mouth, and he feels her arch against him. Her fingers knot in his hair as his tongue swirls around the bud, and the noises she's making nearly make him come right then and there. He switches sides before continuing downward, pressing kisses against her stomach, his tongue swirling around her belly button.

He slips his hand between her legs, and she's already wet, which makes him even harder than he already is. He groans a little bit as he slips a finger inside her. She gasps, and they've never done this before, so it's new for both of them. Her hips buck against his hand as he begins to pump his finger slowly in and out of her.

"Faster," she begs, her eyes half shut, and he kisses her nose, picking up the pace.

She moans again, her hips rocking in time with his hand, but then suddenly her fingers close around his wrist, and she pants, "Stop, stop, wait."

"What?" he asks. "Is it not good or—"

She shakes her head, and she blushes again. "No, it's just I – I don't know much longer I'll last and I want to… you know… for the first time when you're actually, um, inside me."

His jaw goes slack. "Um, yeah, um, okay."

She giggles then, and she kisses him, pulling him down on top of her.

He's breathing heavily as he pulls away, and he reaches over to her bedside table for the condom. His fingers are shaking as he tears open the package, and somehow he manages to get it on, and then Rachel's hand is wrapping around him, and God, he might just blow his wad right here and now.

He kisses her as she guides him to her entrance, kisses her as he pushes inside of her, swallowing her gasp. He stops for a moment, letting her adjust.

"Are you okay?" he asks, peppering kisses across her face.

She nods. "Keep – keep going. I'll be fine."

"I love you," he reminds her, and he can see her smile glowing in the darkness as her fingers come up to trace his cheek.

"I love you, too."

He doesn't last very long, and she doesn't come the first time, but he's more than willing to go again until she does.

"Perfect," she whispers against his cheek after she comes down from her high. Her brown eyes are large and bright in the dark of his bedroom. "Absolutely perfect."

He just kisses her again, pressing her into the mattress, placing her hand over his heart.

"It's yours, Rach," he mutters. "Always has been, always will be."

She gives him a slow smile, kissing his collar bone. She sighs against his skin, and she was right: This is the most perfect moment.


The team goes all the way to state, which has previously been unprecedented. Coach gives them a talk about how proud he is and how they should go out and play their best game, no matter what. He even gives Finn's helmet an extra pat, and he says, "Do me proud, son."

Finn knows he'll try.

The team plays their hardest, and he has an exceptionally good game, finding Puck in the end zone more than once, but in the end, it's not enough. They lose to Carmel High, 24 to 21.

They shuffle into the locker room after the game, sullen and defeated, but the coach just looks around at them. "Boys," he says, "you played one hell of a game, and you gave it your all. I am so, so proud of you, and I'm so proud to be able to call myself your coach. You boys should be proud of yourselves and what you accomplished tonight. We had a hell of a run, gentlemen, and you did well. You did well."

He doesn't yell. He doesn't say anything else. He just looks around the room, at every single one of them, the pride evident in his eyes.

After he cleans up in the locker game, he comes out to be nearly tackled by Rachel, her lips pressing sweetly against his cheek.

"You were amazing," she breathes in his ear.

He just tightens his hold around her waist. "Yeah?"

She nods, tucking herself into his side. He glances over at her dads, and Leroy's watching them with a smile on his face, his hand gripping his husband's arm. Coach Berry even smiles, giving Finn a slight nod.

Finn nods back. "Hey," he says, glancing back down at Rachel, "is it okay with your dads if I steal you for a bit and take you out for ice cream? There's a place that serves vegan a few minutes away. I'll get her home safe," he adds, looking over at Coach, "I promise."

"I know you will," Coach says then. "You kids have fun. We'll see you at home, Princess."

Rachel hugs her dads goodbye before heading with Finn to his truck, swinging her hand in his. "You really were amazing," she says as he helps her into the cab, and he ducks his head.

"I love you, did you know that?" he says.

She leans over and kisses him, her fingers curling into his shoulder blade. "You might've mentioned it once or twice."

"Well, I'm going to mention it a few more," he tells her. "I love you." He kisses her nose. "I love you." He kisses her eyelid. "I love you." He presses a kiss to the apple of her cheek.

"I love you, too," she says, and then she kisses him on the mouth. He stands between her legs that are still dangling from the passenger side, one hand gripping the door while the other rests on her waist.

She pulls back, keeping her forehead pressed against his. "Let's go get some ice cream," she whispers.

He laughs. "Alright," he agrees.

He makes sure she's in before shutting the door and going around to the driver's side. He may not be a winner technically, but he sure feels like one anyway.


He goes to the regional glee club competition to watch Rachel perform, and he sits with Coach and Leroy. Rachel practically blows him away – because she has a solo and she's totally the best singer he's ever heard. He's sure she'll achieve her dream of being on Broadway one day.

New Directions (the glee club name, he quickly finds out) unsurprisingly places first, and Rachel's jumping up and down, hugging Mr. Schuester tightly.

Finn hugs her once she comes offstage, and even though her dads are right there, firmly kisses him on the mouth instead. She laughs a bit, wiping her lipstick off his mouth with her thumb.

"You were phenomenal," he tells her serenely, and she just smiles before hugging her dads.

"We get to go to nationals!" she shrieks happily. "The four of us should go out to dinner to celebrate!"

"That sounds like a great idea!" Leroy says exhuberantly. "Finn, what do you think?"

He catches the eye of Coach, who reaches over to squeeze his shoulder. "We'd love it if you came with us," he says sincerely.

"Yeah, I'd love to," Finn says quickly.

"Great!" Leroy says excitedly.

Rachel laces her fingers with Finn's as they walk out of the auditorium, leaning her head against his shoulder.

"Was I really amazing?" she whispers, peeking up at him.

"You have the most beautiful voice I've ever heard," he tells her honestly. She leans up and kisses him again.


He hears the door open and he knows she's home.

"Finn?" she calls out, he just grins before replying, "In here, Rach!"

He hears her footsteps and he turns around, holding their five month old in his arms. "Say hi to Mommy," he says, dropping a kiss on her dark, downy hair.

Rachel's expression instantly softens. "Hi, angel," she coos, taking their daughter from him. "How's my Ava Bear today?" Ava giggles as Rachel places loud, sloppy kisses on her cheek. She seems to finally notice what Ava's wearing, and she raises an eyebrow in Finn's direction.

"Finn, is our daughter in a onesie that says 'My Dad's the Coach?'"

He just grins, wrapping an arm around her waist, and pressing a kiss to her temple. "Well, she is the coach's daughter, you know."

Rachel rolls her eyes. "So she's going to marry the star quarterback too? Or are football players going to be strictly off limits."

He frowns. "She's not dating anyone ever, football player or not."

Rachel just laughs. "Oh, honey," she sighs, giving him a look before placing Ava on her hip as she makes her way to the kitchen.

If you'd have told Finn at the beginning of his junior year that eventually he'd be teaching at a school just outside of New York City (as well as coaching the football team), he'd have said that maybe that was possible. If you'd added in the fact that he would be married to Rachel Berry with a baby of his own, he'd have laughed. Now, he can't imagine things any other way.

"Finn!" Rachel calls from the kitchen. "Can you help me make dinner, please?"

"Sure thing, babe," he calls back, and he heads into the next room to see his favorite girls. His life turned out kind of perfect, he thinks, and he's so glad he got up the nerve to ask out the coach's daughter.

thanks so much for reading! reviews, as always, are appreciated :)