Author's Note: So I'm taking a crack at a Finchel-prompt! This is the prompt tilted "Sparks." I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I really wanted to try it. I'm kind of winging this firefighter thing, because I know absolutely zilch on being one. The story title is from "Never Say Never" by the Fray.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.


i.

Rachel groaned and pulled the covers over her head. What in the world was all that noise? She really hoped that her roommate wasn't playing something on the TV, because she had a class at 8:00 in the morning. Santana knew that Rachel really needed at least eight hours of sleep.

Someone shook her shoulder, and Rachel groaned again and pushed the hand away. She was trying to sleep. Was that too much to ask for?

Apparently it was, because the covers were ripped from her body. Annoyed, Rachel sat up and opened her eyes, ready to unleash her fury on whoever was unfortunate enough to be standing there.

Through her sleepy haze, Rachel registered that she wasn't looking at Santana. She wasn't even looking at Santana's girlfriend Brittany. No, instead, Rachel was staring at a firefighter.

And then it suddenly occurred to her that the room was filled with smoke. Everything hit Rachel all at once; the intense heat, the sweat on her skin, the smoke in her lungs. She started coughing as the firefighter fit an oxygen mask over her face and scooped her up into his strong arms. He curled Rachel protectively against his broad chest and she clutched at his jacket with shaky fingers.

They were out of the dorm in only a few moments. Looking over the firefighter's broad shoulders, Rachel saw that the window not far from hers had flames pouring out of it. The rest of the firefighters were already taking care of it, however.

Rachel's attention was drawn away from the dorm when the firefighter set her down in the back of an ambulance. He tugged his own mask off before removing his helmet. Rachel was greeted with a pair of soft amber eyes and a handsome face with a smattering of freckles.

"Are you okay, miss?" he asked as he put a hand on her shoulder.

Maybe all of the smoke had gone to her head, but Rachel felt a little shiver go down her spine when the firefighter spoke. She breathed in deeply through the oxygen mask a few times before she pulled it away from her face.

"I think so," she said. She winced when she realized how scratchy her voice was. "I… You saved me." Her eyes cashed with his and held.

He cleared his throat a little and ran a hand through his messy hair, only succeeding in causing it to stick up even further. "I was just doing my job," he said softly, but his gaze never left hers.

They continued to hold each other's gazes for what felt like forever as other firefighters, students, and paramedics bustled around them. Neither said anything as they stared at each other.

"Oh my shit, Berry! Are you okay?"

Rachel tore her gaze from the firefighter's to see her best friend running towards her. Santana barked an order at the poor paramedic who was helping Rachel and then nudged past the firefighter. "Out of my way, lurch," she snapped. Brittany fused over Rachel and put a jacket around her shoulders while managing to placate her girlfriend at the same time.

Rachel looked up to see the firefighter one last time. He gave her a sweet half smile before he turned away.


ii.

"I'm just glad our room is okay."

Santana made a scoffing noise as she gave Rachel an incredulous look. "Are you kidding me? Our entire room smells like smoke!"

"It could have been worse," their friend Blaine pointed out. "At least your dorm didn't go up in flames."

"True," Rachel agreed.

Brittany gave Rachel a smile. "Okay, did anyone else catch the sexy firefighter that saved Rachel?"

Santana snorted. "He could have been the Jolly Green Giant if he wasn't so pale."

"He totally had a moment with Rachel," Brittany gushed.

"Do you really think so?" Rachel asked. She had kind of thought so, but she wasn't sure if it had all been in her head.

"He did kind of look like he wanted to eat you," Santana said.

Rachel shook her head a little. It wasn't like she was ever going to see him again. She didn't know what engine he was with or even what his name was. All she had was a handsome face and the memory of how those strong arms felt around her.


iii.

Blaine tapped Rachel's shoulder as she pulled her apron over her head. "Hey, Rach. Do you think you could cover the counter for a minute? I have to put these boxes in the back."

"Sure, no problem." Rachel tied the knot on her green smock and pulled her hair back in a ponytail. She made her way to the front, thankful that it wasn't very busy in the coffee shop.

She and Blaine had found a job at local coffee place just off campus. They had worked there since their freshman year at NYU. Both she and Blaine were theater majors and had instantly hit it off, quickly becoming close friends.

Rachel was daydreaming about her latest project at school—she was sing a Barbara Streisand song—when knuckles tapping on the counter in front of her startled her. Rachel stood up straight and found herself staring into a pair of very familiar amber eyes.

"Hey," Rachel said without thinking. "You're that firefighter!"

The fireman gave her that easy half smile. "And you're that girl from the dorm."

Rachel nodded her head and gave him a sheepish look. "I'm sorry. Uh… what can I get for you?"

"Just a large coffee," he said. Rachel went about filling the coffee cup. She could feel his amber eyes on her as she moved around behind the counter. She passed it to him over the counter, and their fingers brushed as he took the coffee from her.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

Rachel gave him a smile. It was sweet of him to ask. "I'm fine. Thanks to you, actually. I never got a chance to thank you for that."

He shrugged his shoulders, and a sheepish look came onto his face. "I was just doing my job," he said again.

"Well at least tell me your name," Rachel said.

"Finn Hudson."

Rachel gave him one of her full, beaming grins. "Well, Finn Hudson, I'm Rachel Berry. And this coffee is on me."

"Oh, I can't let you do that—"

Rachel put her hand over Finn's where it was resting on the counter. "Please, Finn. It's the least I can do."

Finn studied her for a long moment before he gave her a heart-stopping smile. "Okay. Thanks." Before he left the coffee shop, he added, "I'll see you around, Rachel Berry."


iv.

She did see him around.

He showed up at the coffee shop for a week every day after that. It was always during the slowest part of the day, so Rachel always had a chance to sit down and talk with him. Finn normally came around the same time, so Rachel even started having his coffee ready for him.

They talked about anything and everything. By the time a week had passed, Rachel knew what he favorite movie was (Braveheart), his favorite food (fried chicken), how close he was with his mom (he adored her), that his father had died (but he had a stepfather), how even though he and his stepbrother fought all the time, they still got along really well (Kurt was three years younger than Finn), and how much he loved his job (he was really good at it but very modest).

Of course, Rachel talked on and on about her Broadway ambitions and her favorite shows and who she admired most. She nearly passed out from excitement when Finn revealed that his brother had written an original musical on Broadway that had recently won a Tony. She told him all about her fathers who lived in upstate New York. She told stories about her excursions with Blaine, Santana, and Brittany, and he told stories about his friends at the station and police department.

It was so easy to talk to him. Rachel would spend all of her break with Finn. Sometimes, Blaine would even cover for her so she could have more time to talk with him. Every time they talked, Rachel could feel her crush develop further and further. At first, she thought that it might have been some type of hero worship—but it wasn't. She really was falling for Finn Hudson.

It had been two weeks after he had rescued her from the fire. Finn came to the coffee shop right on time, and Rachel had his drink ready for him. She called out to Blaine that she was going on break and took her apron off. She and Finn sat down at their usual table in the back of the shop.

"How have you been?" Rachel asked warmly.

Finn gave her a smile, but Rachel couldn't help but notice that he actually seemed a little nervous. "I've been okay. Listen, Rach. I actually wanted to ask you a question."

Rachel smiled at the nickname she had recently acquired from him. "Of course, Finn. Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing. I was actually… Well, I was wondering if you were busy tomorrow night."

"Why?" The question was out of Rachel's mouth before she could stop herself. She really wanted to kick herself for even saying it in the first place. It sounded like the amazing, hot firefighter was about to ask her out. Who was she to question it?

Finn rubbed the back of his neck. It was something he did when he got nervous, and Rachel found it incredibly cute. "I was hoping that you'd like to go out on a date, maybe. With me."

Rachel beamed at him, and Finn relaxed and smiled. "I would love to—oh wait. Darn."

Finn's face fell. "What's wrong?"

Rachel scowled a little bit. "I have a performance that I have to go to for my theater class tomorrow night. It's mandatory." She put her hand over his and squeezed. "Believe me, I'd much rather go out with you."

Finn's brow furrowed a little. "Oh, are you in your last year of school?" he asked.

Rachel shrugged her shoulders, unsure as to why that was what he chose to focus on. "No. I actually just started my junior year at the Tisch School at NYU."

Finn's hand slackened a little under hers. "Oh."

"Oh?" Rachel pulled her hand away from Finn's. "Is that a problem?"

"No," Finn said quickly. "No, of course not. It's just that… Rachel, I'm twenty-five."

That was new information. For all of the talks they had, they had never revealed how old they were to each other. Still, Rachel wasn't sure what the problem was. "So? I'm twenty."

"Rachel, there's five years between us."

Rachel's temper quickly spiked. "If you're trying to say that age is a problem, then I'd say that you're the more immature one, not me."

Finn held his hands up. The expression on his face and the look in his eyes suddenly became unreadable. "You're still in school. Maybe we shouldn't…" He trailed off.

Rachel pushed her chair back and stood up. Her hands flew to her hips as she glared down at Finn. And to think, the day had started off so well. "Are you rescinding your offer for a date?"

"Rachel…"

"Finn, I'm not sure what the problem is."

Finn rubbed his neck again. "I don't want to distract you from school. Maybe we should—"

"Maybe you should leave."

Something flashed across Finn's face, but it was gone before Rachel could decipher what it was. He stood up and left. Rachel watched him go before she went in the back and buried her face in her hands. Blaine soon appeared and wrapped his arms around her as she began to cry.


iv.

"I say we surprise him when he's sleeping. You know, I know a guy…"

Blaine rolled his eyes. "Santana, I don't think that now is the time for that."

"What?" Santana shrugged her shoulders. "I'm just trying to make her feel better. It's not a bad idea, though."

Rachel gave her friends a weak smile. "I just don't get it," she mumbled. "Why is the fact that there's five years between us such a big deal? I don't think it's a problem."

"It might have something to do with the fact that you dress like a blind preschooler," Santana suggested.

"Santana, be nice. And it's not like she dresses like that anymore," Blaine scolded.

"Right, because you know so much about fashion, Bow Tie Man."

"I like Rachel's clothes," Brittany chimed in.

"Maybe he was just worried about the fact that you're in school," Blaine said. "I think he was being serious when he said he didn't want to distract you."

"Oh, how noble of him." Rachel sighed and dragged her fingers through her hair. "But you guys weren't there. He was so weird about it. He was nervous before he asked me out, but after he found out how old I was…" She shook her head. "I really liked him."

Brittany rubbed her back comfortingly. "We know you did. But we have to show him what he's missing, right?"

"How? I doubt he'll show up at the coffee shop again."

"You know what station he works at, correct?" When Rachel nodded her head, Santana clapped her hands together. "Excellent. We'll stalk him there—"

"No."

"But—"

"No."


v.

Without looking up, Rachel asked. "What can I get for you today?"

"A large coffee, please."

Rachel's head jerked up at the familiar voice. With wide eyes, she found herself staring at Finn Hudson. Her mouth actually fell open in shock.

"Finn."

"Um… Hey, Rach."

Rachel shook herself out of her shock and turned to grab a cup. "So, a large coffee, right? Coming right up."

Finn sighed and dragged his fingers through his hair. "Rachel…"

"Do you want any cream or sugar with that?"

"Rachel, come on."

"No, Finn, you come on!" Rachel slammed the cup down on the counter. Hot coffee sloshed all over her hand and she hissed in pain. "You can't just come in here and pretend that nothing has changed!"

Finn reached for her hand. "Let me see your hand, Rachel. It looks like you might have burned it."

Rachel yanked herself out of Finn's grasp. "Finn, please."

Finn hopped over the counter in one smooth motion. Rachel tried not to think about how hot it looked. "Let me see your hand," he repeated. Without waiting to hear Rachel's protest, Finn grabbed Rachel's hand and ran gentle fingers over it. Rachel immediately fell quiet and bit her lip when tingles shot up her arm from his touch.

Finn kept his focus on her hand as he brought it over to the sink and ran it under some cool water. After a few long moments, he inspected the burn again. His fingers traced over it, and he touch was so feather-light that it didn't cause any pain.

"It doesn't look that bad," Finn finally said. "Just keep an eye on it."

"Great. Thanks, Firefighter Finn. Or should I say Mr. Hudson, since you think I'm so young?"

"Rachel." Finn sighed again. "Can we just talk about this?"

Rachel slapped her towel down on the counter and turned to face Finn, planting her hands on her hips. "Fine. You can explain to me why you insisted on being such a jerk last week."

Finn dragged a hand through his hair and had the good grace to look at least a little bit guilty. "I'm sorry, Rach. When I found out how much younger you were, I just kind of… freaked out."

"Freaked out? Finn, there's only five years between us. That's not much."

Finn shook his head. "Rachel, you have all of these big dreams. I'm just a firefighter. You have so many things that you want to accomplish, and you're so young. I can't distract you from that."

Rachel sighed. "Finn, do you really think—"

"Yes. But I was… I was hoping that we could still be friends, maybe. I really liked talking to you. I miss that."

Rachel sighed again. She honestly didn't know if she could be just friends with Finn—she liked him too much. But she really had enjoyed talking with him, and she did miss their time together. At this point, she would take what she could get.

"Sure, Finn," she said. "That's fine."

Finn gave her his half smile, and Rachel felt her heart melt again. "So I'll see you tomorrow?"

"See you tomorrow."


vi.

"You did not seriously agree to be friends with the man!"

"Santana—"

"I mean, really, Rachel. Have I taught you nothing?"

Rachel rolled her eyes. "I don't see what the big deal is."

"The big deal is that you still want in Frankenteen's pants, and he just wants to be friends!"

"But he didn't want to be just friends before!" Rachel said defensively. "Something must have happened." Her eyes lit up, and Santana groaned. She knew that look. "And I'm going to find out what it is."

Santana sighed. "Of course you are."


vii.

Another two weeks passed smoothly. Finn and Rachel eventually fell back into their old routine, and nothing was awkward. Neither of them ever brought up their almost-date, but they both spent a lot of time looking longingly at one another when they thought the other wasn't looking.

There was one day when Rachel got off of her shirt early, before Finn had arrived. She was glad, since she, Santana, Brittany, and Blaine were going to a show in Central Park. They had to get there early if they wanted good seats.

Just as she was leaving, Finn came into the coffee shop. "Oh, are you finished for the day?" he asked.

Rachel nodded her head she slid her purse onto her shoulder. "I got off early today. I'm going to see a show in Central Park with Santana, Blaine, and Brittany."

Finn rubbed the back of his neck. That unreadable expression was back on his face. "That sounds like fun."

The words were out of Rachel's mouth before she could stop them. "Would you like to come with us?"

Finn smiled at her then. "Sure."

As they walked through Central Park to their spot, Finn and Rachel's fingers kept brushing against one another. Neither of them tried to move away, and they kept sharing small smiles. They quickly found the blanket that Brittany, Santana, and Blaine were situated on. There wasn't a whole lot of room left, so Finn and Rachel had to squeeze close together. Neither of them minded.

"How are you doing, Finnegan?" Santana greeted.

Finn gave Santana a good-natured look. "Hello, Santana."

"Hmm. This is a very date-like atmosphere. Wouldn't you agree, Britts?"

Rachel glared at her best friend. "Santana…"

"What? I'm just stating a fact."

"We're grouped in an odd number," Rachel pointed out. "So it's not a date. It's not even a group date."

Finn's cheeks were flushing, and Blaine was unsuccessfully trying to hide his laughter. No one really felt sorry for him, since he had kind of put himself in this situation in the first place. Even so, Rachel brought the attention away from Finn and started to talk about the show.

During a particularly sad part, Rachel sniffled as a few tears ran down her cheeks. Even though she had seen this a million times, it didn't stop it from affecting her. She brushed her fingers under her eyes to wipe the tears away, and then she jumped in surprise when she felt a strong arm wrap around her shoulders.

Looking up, she saw Finn looking down at her with soft eyes. He squeezed her shoulders comfortingly and pulled her closer. Rachel smiled and rested her head against his shoulder.

They stayed like that for the rest of the show.


viii.

Rachel looked up at the fire station in front of her and bit her lip. Then she lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. She and Finn were friends. Friends did this sort of thing for each other, right? She wasn't doing anything wrong.

She walked in and smiled at the blonde man that she spotted. "Hello," she greeted. "Can you please tell me where I can find Finn Hudson?"

The tag on the man's shirt read 'Evans.' He smiled when he saw her, and a look came on his face that suggested he knew something that Rachel didn't. "Sure. You're Rachel, right?"

Rachel slowly nodded her head. "Right."

"I'm Sam Evans. Huddy talks about you all of the time," he revealed. "He's upstairs in the weight room. You can go on up."

Rachel tried not to think about the implication of Sam's words. "Thank you!" She quickly made her way up the stairs and found the weight room. It was empty, all except for one person laying on the bench. Rachel knocked on the doorframe to alert him to her presence.

"Finn?"

He sat up and grinned at her when he realized she was there. "Hey, Rach!"

Rachel could only gape at him.

Finn wasn't wearing a shirt. He was definitely muscular, but not overly so. His hair was mused and his eyes were bright. To top it all off, he had some scruff on his face. He just looked so unbelievably sexy, and Rachel couldn't keep her eyes off of him.

"Finn," Rachel squeaked in greeting.

Finn stood up and grabbed a towel. He wiped his hands on it and ran it over his hair. And he still didn't put a shirt on (which Rachel definitely didn't mind). "What brings you out here?"

"I know you're working a seventy-two hours shift, so I thought I'd stop by to visit." She held up the container she had brought with her. "I brought banana bread."

"Yeah?" Finn's eyes lit up. He had been hearing about Rachel's banana bread and how good it was from Blaine for weeks, and he had been dying to try some. "Thanks, Rach! You didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to," Rachel said. "If you tell me what you like, I'll come and drop some things off for you when you have long shifts."

"Rachel, are you sure? I don't want to put you out."

"Really, I'd love to! It'll be nice to bake for someone else besides Blaine, for once. Santana very rarely eats it because of the calories, and I'm pretty sure that Brittany only gives it to her cat."

That caused Finn to laugh. He took a big bite of the banana bread and groaned at how delicious it was. "Rach, that is seriously some of the best I've ever tasted."

"Really?" Rachel beamed under his praise.

"Really. I—" Finn stopped abruptly as the door to the weight room opened and he caught sight of whoever it was. He tensed immediately, and his jaw locked as he his flashed in anger. Rachel blinked in shock at Finn's sudden change in temperament.

"Finn?" Rachel said quietly. She turned to find a tan man with a Mohawk. He nodded his head in greeting at Rachel before turning towards Finn.

"Hey, Finn."

Finn quickly snatched up all of his things and took Rachel's hand. He towed her out of the room and nearly pushed the other man out of the way and ignored his calls for him to come back. Finn kept his hold on Rachel's hand until they arrived at his quarters.

Finn rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm sorry about that," he said quietly.

Rachel put a hand on his tense shoulder and rubbed at the knot under his skin. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Finn shook his head. "Not really," he muttered. But he relaxed slightly under her hand.

"Okay." Rachel gave him a soft smile. "Well, you know if you ever need to talk about anything, I'm here."

Finn returned her smile. "I know. Thanks, Rach."


ix.

"I can't believe I get to meet your brother." Rachel was practically bouncing out of her seat from excitement. "This is so amazing!"

Finn chuckled. "I don't think I've ever met someone who was so excited to meet him. To me, he's just the guy who hogged the bathroom so he could do a half-hour face cleansing ritual."

"That face cleansing ritual is extremely important!"

Rachel turned to see a small, pale, fashionably dressed man coming towards them. She let out a squeal of excitement and clapped her hands together as he sat in the empty seat at the table. They were at the coffee shop where she worked at, because Finn claimed he couldn't get a better cup anywhere else.

Kurt smiled. "Finn, she's adorable. Tell me, how did you get her to spend so much time with you?"

"Haha, very funny," Finn deadpanned. "Rachel, I'd like you to meet my annoying brother Kurt. Kurt, I'd like you to meet Rachel."

"Can I just say that your show was absolutely amazing?" Rachel gushed. "You have such a gift for writing."

Kurt grinned. "Thank you! According to Finn, you have quite the voice. It sounds like Broadway is the place for you to be, as well."

Rachel blushed and looked over at Finn, who was giving her one of his charming half smiles. "He's never even heard me sing."

Finn shrugged his shoulders. "I know a star when I see one."

Rachel beamed at him and Finn smiled in return as Kurt watched with an amused look on his face. Finally, he couldn't take the longing stares anymore and cleared his throat. "So, Rachel, did you see the show?"

Rachel tore her gaze from Finn's. "Of course I saw it!" she exclaimed. "In fact, I went to see it with my friend Blaine." She pointed behind the counter, where Blaine was currently wiping down. He was staring at Kurt in awe and constantly wiping the same spot on the counter.

Kurt's eyes immediately lit up when he saw Blaine. "That's Blaine?"

Rachel, of course, was already trying to set the match up in her head. As soon as Kurt's eyes fell on her friend, she knew that it would be a good one. "Yes. He loved it as much as I did. Probably more."

Without taking his eyes off of Blaine, Kurt stood up. "I think I should go order my coffee now."

Finn's brow furrowed as he lifted a cup. "I already ordered it for you, Kurt."

Kurt was already walking towards the counter. "You probably did it wrong, Finn. I appreciate the effort, though."

"I've been ordering your coffee for the past ten years." Finn rolled his eyes. "I think I know it by now."

Rachel just kicked Finn in the shin. He scowled at her and rubbed the area, but Rachel ignored him. "Finn! Can't you see that Kurt and Blaine like each other? They're going to have a moment!"

"Oh." Finn pouted and continued to rub his leg. "Rach, that really hurt."

Rachel was still watching Blaine and Kurt. She absently kissed her fingers and then pressed them to Finn's legs. "There. All better." She was completely oblivious to the look on Finn's face as her fingers pressed to his leg.


x.

"You're such an idiot."

"What?"

Kurt shook his head as he took a seat across from Finn. "You're an idiot," he repeated. "Why aren't you dating Rachel yet?"

Finn sighed. "Kurt…"

"I know you like her, Finn. I could practically smell the sexual tension when I was walking down the street."

"She's only twenty, Kurt."

"So?"

"And I'm twenty-five."

"So?" Kurt pulled a slip of paper out of his pocket and brandished it in Finn's face. "Blaine is twenty, and I'm twenty-two. The age difference doesn't mean anything."

"There's a difference between five years and two years, Kurt."

"Very good! You can do math!"

Finn glared at his brother before he ran a hand through his hair. "And she's still in college. Shouldn't I be past the point when I'm crushing on college girls?"

Kurt laughed. "Finn, you're a twenty-five year old straight male. I hate to break it to you, but college girls are still definitely on your radar. And none of those are valid reasons. Tell me what's really going on."

Finn's jaw clenched. At his brother's reaction, Kurt nodded his head. "Oh. I see."

"I don't want to talk about it," Finn said immediately.

"I know." Kurt patted Finn's shoulder. "But please don't tell me that you ruined your chance at a great relationship because you were scared."

"Kurt, it's not that easy."

"But it is. Rachel is a special girl, Finn. I think that she would be really good for you. You deserve to be happy, Finn. Just remember that."


xi.

One day in the middle of November, Finn brought Sam and his wife, Mercedes, to the coffee shop. He also brought Mike, who was a paramedic, and Tina, his fiancée. Kurt also came, and both Blaine and Rachel managed to get off on break at the same time. Kurt and Blaine held hands at the table, and Finn nudged Rachel to point it out to her. She let out a quiet, excited squeal and high-fived Finn on a match-making job well done.

"So you're the little thing that Finn has been talking so much about," Mercedes said.

Rachel looked over at Finn, who's cheeks were bright red as he looked down at his coffee. "Oh, I'm sure that he doesn't talk about me that much," she said.

Mike snorted. "He does," he muttered under his breath. There was a loud stamp and then Mike was glaring at Finn. "Ow!"

Finn just gave him an innocent look. "So Tina, how are the wedding plans coming along?"

"They're great!" Tina exclaimed. Turing to Rachel and Blaine, she explained, "Mike and I are getting married at the end of January. We really, really wanted a winter wedding."

"Oh, that will be so pretty," Rachel said.

Tina grinned at then said, "You two should come!"

Blaine and Rachel glanced at each other and then looked at Tina in shock. "Really?" they both said at the same time.

Tina nodded her head and looked at Mike, who nodded his head as well. "I'm sure Finn and Kurt were going to ask you to come anyway."

Kurt nodded his head. "I was."

Finn rubbed the back of his neck and looked over at Rachel from the corner of his eye. "I thought about it."

Tina clapped her hands in glee. "It's settled, then. I'll see the two of you at the wedding!"

A few hours later, right before everyone left, Mercedes and Tina cornered Rachel. They were practically beaming at her, and Rachel was just a little confused as to why.

"We just wanted to thank you for what you've done for Finn, Rachel," Tina said.

"I haven't really done anything for Finn," Rachel said. "I mean, other than make him banana bread."

"Girl, that's not what we're talking about. Though the bread definitely helps," Mercedes said. "He was so sad before, and you've helped him come out of his shell."

"Why? What happened?" Rachel was immediately concerned for Finn. She just couldn't imagine him being unhappy. All he had to do was give her that sweet half smile, and she knew that everything was going to be okay.

"He got his heart broken, of course," Tina explained. Mercedes began to mumble dark curses under her breath, and Tina put a placating hand on her friend's arm. "It happened a few months before he met you."

"Oh no. That's horrible!" Rachel looked over at Finn, who was laughing with Mike and Sam. He looked up at caught her eye as he gave her that half smile that she liked to think was reserved for her.

Tina and Mercedes grinned at each other. Something told them that Rachel Berry had healed Finn's heart.


xii.

Rachel was humming quietly to herself as she flipped through the book she was reading. She loved winter break. There was no pressure for school work, and to make everything even better, she had the day off from work. Her new apartment (she shared it with Santana and Brittany) was empty.

Rachel was just about to get up and get something eat when her cell phone rang. Still humming quietly to herself, she walked over to the phone and answered it. "Hello?"

"Rachel?"

"Hi Kurt! How are you doing?"

"Rachel, I need you to come to the hospital."

Rachel registered the absolute panic in Kurt's voice. She swallowed hard. "Kurt, are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"And Blaine? He's fine, too, right?"

"Blaine is okay."

"Oh God." Rachel gasped and pressed a hand to her mouth. She could already feel the tears forming, and she tried her best to blink them away. "Please tell me that it's not Finn."

On the other end, Kurt exhaled slowly. "I'm sorry, Rachel. It's Finn."


xiii.

Rachel didn't really remember how she got to the hospital.

She burst through the doors and didn't bother to find Kurt. Instead, she ran right towards the front desk. "I need to know what room Finn Hudson is in!" she demanded.

The nurse looked up at her. "Are you family?" she asked, not unkindly.

Rachel nodded her head and found herself saying, "I'm his fiancée."

The nurse gave her a kind smile and told her that Finn was in room 505. Rachel took off down the hallway and finally found the room. She ran in and found Finn laying on the hospital bed. His skin was even more pale than usual. He had a piece of gauze tapped over his left eyebrow, and his left wrist was wrapped in some bandages. There was also some bulkiness under his hospital gown, and there was some obvious bruising.

Rachel gasped and pressed a hand to her mouth again. The noise alerted Finn to her presence, and he opened his eyes. When he saw her, he gave her that beautiful half smile.

"Hey, Rach," he said easily. "It looks worse than it feels."

Several tears rolled down Rachel's cheeks. God, she had just… she had never been so scared as when Kurt had called her. She had never been that completely and utterly terrified in her entire life. Even just seeing Finn in the hospital made her sick with worry. She didn't want to imagine what she would have been like if something worse would have happened.

"Hey." Finn's face fell in concern and he lifted his right hand, beckoning Rachel forward. "What's with the tears?"

"I was just…" Rachel took a shuddering breath and tried to get a hold on her emotions. "I was really scared and I'm… I'm really glad that you're okay."

Finn looked at her with soft, gentle eyes filled with affection and a few other things that Rachel couldn't really name. He managed to shift over on the bed a little bit, wincing as he did so. When he had created enough room, he patted the spot on the mattress next to him.

Rachel shook her head. "Finn, I don't want to hurt you—"

"You won't," Finn assured her. "I cracked the ribs on my left side, not my right. It'll be fine."

Rachel bit her lip, but she didn't hesitate any further to crawl onto the hospital bed with him. She curled up against his large frame, loving how she fit perfectly against him. Finn stroked her hair back and she grabbed the fingers of his free hand, twining them with hers.

"I don't know what I would have done if something had happened to you, Finn," Rachel admitted quietly.

Finn pressed a sweet kiss to her forehead. "It'll all be okay, Rach."


xiv.

Kurt and Blaine had got nonrefundable tickets to a show, so Rachel volunteered to play nurse and help Finn get situated in his apartment after he was released from the hospital.

She smiled as they entered. It was a pretty decently sized space. It was decorated nicely (Kurt had obviously had a hand in that), but it still had a very Finn-like feel to it. They were pictures all over the place of him with his family and friends. Rachel looked at one of Finn standing proudly with his mom, stepfather, and Kurt. He had just graduated from the academy, and it was easy to see how proud his entire family was of him.

Rachel quickly situated Finn in bed and refused to let him get up for anything. "The doctor said that you had to rest."

Finn pouted at her, and Rachel purposely looked away. She was nearly powerless under that look. "Rach, my legs aren't crippled. I can get up."

"He also said not to do anything that would irritate your ribs. Getting up would do that."

"Aw, come on, Rachel! I'm so bored!"

"Here." Rachel put the remote control in Finn's hand. "Turn on a game, or something. I'll get dinner started."

"Rachel, you don't have to," Finn said immediately, ever chivalrous. "We can just order in, if you want."

"You need to eat healthy, Finn. We will not be ordering in while you recover." Finn just smiled and didn't say anything else as he turned the television on.

Later, after the diner plates were cleaned, Rachel was stretched on the bed beside Finn. They were watching an airing of Braveheart, which Rachel had never seen before. The more she watched, the more she understood why Finn enjoyed it. It just seemed like the sort of movie that Finn liked.

"You know, the next movie we watch has to be Funny Girl," Rachel stated.

"Oh yeah?" Finn said teasingly. "And why is that?"

"Because we watched your favorite movie. Next time, we get to watch mine." Rachel turned to face Finn then, in order to further explain why they should watch Funny Girl. But she never did get to say why, as Finn's lips had come down over hers.

Rachel didn't even have to think about it. She completely melted into the kiss, gripping his shirt in her tiny hands as his lips moved gently with hers. It felt like… like she was standing on a shore and the ocean was gently lapping at her feet. Or a cool breeze was moving softly through her hair. Or like she was floating quietly, peacefully, totally and utterly happy. It just felt like all of her favorite feelings in the world all jumbled up into one. One of his hands threaded into her hair as they kissed slowly until they had to pull apart. Finn pressed his forehead against hers as Rachel tried to catch her breath.

"Rachel," Finn breathed. "I'm so sorry."

"Sorry?" Rachel's brow furrowed, and her heart plummeted. She wasn't was sorry for that kiss. She would never be sorry for that kiss. "Why?"

Finn's fingers stroked through her hair, and he kissed the side of her nose. "I should have done this much, much sooner. I'm sorry I was such an ass."

Rachel beamed at Finn and carefully twined her arms around his neck. "That's okay," she whispered against his lips. "I guess you'll just have to make up for lost time."


xv.

"So, I was wondering… would you like to go on that date with me now?"

Rachel gave him one of her megawatt smiles as she leaned over the counter. "I'd like that."

Finn grinned and leaned over to press a quick kiss to Rachel's lips. When he pulled away, he found Santana, Brittany, and Blaine all standing behind her. They all had their arms crossed and were staring Finn down.

"You know," Blaine said. "As her closest friends, we're required to threaten you if you hurt her."

Santana looked at her fingers nails before piercing Finn with a dark look. "If you break her heart, I'll break your face. And your balls."

Finn swallowed hard. He had no doubt that Santana would go through with her threat. But he didn't plan on her ever needing to. "I won't hurt Rachel." A smile came on his face as she took his hand and squeezed in support. "I promise."

Just to be sure, Brittany added, "I'll let Lord Tubbington loose on you."

Blaine shuddered. "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."


xvi.

"Finn, will you please tell me where you're taking me?"

"I thought that I'd keep it a surprise." Finn took her hand and lifted it to his lips, brushing her knuckles across his lips.

"Please, Finn?" Rachel pleaded. "I don't like surprises."

Finn gave her a mildly amused look. "Don't lie, Rach. I know you love surprises."

Rachel pouted, and Finn leaned forward to kiss the pout off her face. It was then that she realized they had stopped walking. Pulling away from Finn, she looked around to find that they were standing in front of a theater.

Rachel gasped and grabbed one of Finn's hands tightly in both of hers. "Finn! This is the theater where Kurt's musical was!"

Finn nodded his head. He was obviously pleased with her reaction. "I know. Come on." Taking her hand again, he led her into the empty theater and down to the stage. Rachel gasped when she saw the picnic set up right in the middle.

"Finn…"

"I know that you're going to end up on Broadway one day, Rachel," Finn said. "I thought that I'd be the first person to give you that chance."

"Finn!" Rachel jumped into Finn's arms and kissed all over his face before pressing a deep kiss to his lips. Finn laughed and carried her over to the stage before he set her down.

"I picked up some food from that vegan place that you like so much," Finn said as he started pulling containers out of the basket. "And some of that wine that you like so much."

"Finn, this is probably the sweetest thing anyone's done for me." Rachel raised herself on her knees and pressed a sweet kiss to Finn's lips. He looked kind of surprised when she pulled away, and Rachel stroked her fingers down his cheek. "Are you okay?"

Finn's easy half smile was back. "I'm fine. Come on, let's start eating. I have a surprise for dessert, and that's my favorite part."


xvii.

"Finn." Rachel gasped as his lips moved down her neck, gently nipping and sucking. His large hand had smoothed up and under her shirt, stroking across her stomach. Rachel arched up and tried to get as close to him as she possibly could.

"Rach, baby," Finn mumbled in return against her neck. He was hard against her thigh, and Rachel locked her fingers in his hair and pulled him back up to her. His tongue plunged into his mouth as he pressed his body over hers.

They pulled apart, breathing heavily. Finn pressed his face to Rachel's chest and held her tightly against him. He nuzzled against her soft skin and took a deep breath before he said, "Rachel, have you ever had your heart broken?"

Rachel combed her fingers through Finn's hair. "Not really," she answered. "I mean, I've been in relationships that I haven't been too fond of, but I can't say that I've ever had my heart broken." Finn nodded his head, but Rachel didn't miss the sad look in his eyes. She sat up and took his hand. "What about you? Has your heart ever been broken?"

Finn's face tensed, and Rachel smoothed her thumb over his jaw. "Yes," he said softly. Finn continued to comb her fingers through Finn's thick hair and waited for him to continue if he wanted to. Several long, silent moments passed before Finn finally spoke again.

"I had a girlfriend," he began. "Quinn. I met her when I moved here from Ohio with my best friend Puck. She lived next door to us. It took me a while, but I finally got the courage to ask her out. We dated on and off for a few years. I was thinking about breaking up with her. We just weren't happy anymore, you know? We weren't really right for each other. But then she told me she was pregnant."

Rachel tightened her grip on Finn. Clearly, this story didn't have a happy ending. Finn was quiet for several more moments before continuing.

"It was about halfway through the pregnancy when I found out. It wasn't my baby. It was Puck's. My best friend's. Well… my ex-best friend." He shook his head. "It turns out that they had been sneaking around behind my back for years. And I… I never knew. I was so stupid."

"Finn. You're not stupid." Rachel took his face between her hands and looked him in the eye. "Look at me. You're not. You are one of the sweetest, kindest, most trustworthy people that I know. It was so wrong of Quinn and Puck to take advantage of that, and I'm sorry that you had to go through that."

Finn wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "Rachel, everything changed when I met you. When I finally worked up the courage to ask you out, I got scared. I was looking for an excuse to back out, and your age gave me that. I don't care that you're five years younger than me." Finn ran his fingers through Rachel's hair and cupped her cheek. "Besides, I'm pretty sure that you're more mature than I am."

Rachel laughed and pressed a kiss to Finn's lips. He pulled her down on top of him as she whispered in his ear, "I'm so glad you saved me, Finn."

"Rachel..." Finn held her tightly in his arms. "You saved me, too."


xviii.

"Tina, the ceremony was beautiful! And your dress is so gorgeous."

Tina beamed and hugged Rachel tightly. "We're so glad that you could make it."

"A word of advice, Rachel," Mike said. "Don't take this one out onto the dance floor." He pointed to Finn, who glared at his co-worker in return. "He's not exactly the greatest dancer."

Kurt laughed in agreement. "He kind of shuffles like a zombie."

"I hate you two," Finn grumbled. "You both suck."

Rachel giggled and kissed the pout off of his face. "Oh, I don't think you're that bad."

"He broke a girl's nose in high school," Kurt revealed.

Rachel laughed outright at that, and Finn threw his hands up into the air. "What is this, make fun of Finn day?" he said dramatically.

"Oh, let it go, Finn," Tina teased. She grabbed Rachel's hand. "Come on, I'm going to throw the bouquet now!"

Rachel scrambled out of her chair and joined the other women at the front. The men watched in amusement as Tina threw the flowers and they all tackled in each other in their effort to get to it. But Rachel came out victorious in the end, holding the bouquet triumphantly over her head.

"Well well, look at that," Kurt said. "It looks like you might be getting hitched sooner than we thought."

"Rachel's favorite color is pink," Blaine supplied. "Just when you need to pick the color scheme."

They all laughed, but Finn found himself imaging a quiet wedding outside in the fall. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted it all with Rachel.

Rachel came back, flushed from her success. She sat on Finn's lap and wrapped her arms around his neck, showing him the flowers. Finn kissed her deeply in greeting, running his fingers through her hair.

"I love you," he whispered when they pulled apart.

Rachel looked at him with wide eyes, and Finn was immediately worried that he had spoken too soon. But then she beamed and gripped the neck of his jacket, pulling him close for another kiss.

"I love you, too."


xix.

"Good morning, sunshine."

Rachel stretched as she turned to face Finn. He was propped up on one elbow, smiling down at her. His hair was disheveled from sleep, and he had the shadow of some stubble on his face, but Rachel thought he looked utterly and completely sexy.

"Morning," she greeted. She reached under the blanket and pulled the garter off her leg. Hooking it one finger, she swung it around and giggled. The night before, at the wedding, Finn had caught the garter and had got to slide it up Rachel's leg.

Rachel pulled Finn close and pressed a deep kiss to his lips. He responded immediately, pressing his tongue into her mouth. He shifted so that he was hovering over Rachel, and she locked her fingers in his hair.

Finn kissed down her throat as his hand slid up under the t-shirt she had borrowed from him. His hand pressed over her thigh and then up her stomach. He cupped her breast over her bra, and Rachel moaned, pressing into his hand.

"Finn," she whispered. Her hands smoothed down his bare chest and around to his back, gliding over his muscles. He lifted the shirt over her head and pressed kisses to her collar bone. Pulling away, he looked down at her with dark eyes.

"You're so beautiful," he whispered.

Rachel flushed under his dark gaze, and he bent to kiss her again. Rachel arched up so that he could sneak his hand under her back and unhook her bra. He peeled it away from her body and his lips moved down, kissing down around the curve of her breast. Then his lips closed her around her nipple, and Rachel moaned. He kissed over to her other breast, and his tongue circled that nipple as his fingers stroked between her legs.

Rachel's hips arched into his hand, and Finn tugged her panties off. Rachel hooked her fingers in the waistband of Finn's boxers and pulled down. Her eyes grew wide when she saw just how… big he was. Her fingers closed around his length, gently stroking. Finn groaned and kissed her again.

"Rachel," he breathed as he pulled away. "Are you sure?"

Rachel found a condom in his bedside table. She pulled it out and handed it to him before pulling him down for a deep, passionate kiss. "I love you," she whispered when they broke apart.

Finn quickly put the condom on and settled between her spread legs as he returned Rachel's declaration. He kissed her as he slid into her, and Rachel gasped. Finn stilled and waited until Rachel nodded her head. He laced their fingers together as he began to thrust inside here.

Rachel moaned again and wrapped her legs around his waist, causing him to go deeper. Finn groaned and buried his face in her neck, gently nipping and sucking on the skin there. Rachel panted for him to go faster as her hips lifted to meets hers. He snaked a hand between them to press his thumb against her most sensitive spot, and then she was falling apart beneath him, crying out as she clutched at his shoulders.

Finn thrust into her a few more times before his face pinched into an 'o' and he came. He fell onto his side, his face pressed to her chest as he kissed her sweaty skin. Rachel's fingers combed through his thick hair.

"I love you Rach," he muttered. "So much."

"I love you too, Finn," Rachel whispered. "You're my everything."


xx.

Their wedding was exactly as Finn imagined it.

Literally a week after Rachel had graduated from NYU, Kurt had demanded that she take the lead in his new musical. He had claimed that he had written it for her and her alone, and he wouldn't allow anyone else to take the part. And just like that, Rachel had a lead in a Broadway musical and was already being considered for a Tony nomination.

Finn had proposed on opening night, right before she had gone on stage. They had been in her dressing room and she had been freaking out. Finn hadn't exactly planned on doing it at that exact moment, but he ended up getting down on one knee and proposing to her on the spot. She had said yes, and she went on stage without being nervous at all.

And it had been at the theater where they had their first date.

They got married outside on a perfect October day. Rachel's dress flowed to the ground and her hair was swept up. She carried a bouquet of pink tulips, and Finn waited at the end of the aisle in his dress uniform. Their vows were exchanged and they slid their rings onto each other's fingers.

Later that night, they were dancing to "Faithfully," which Rachel had declared as their song not long after they started dating. Finn bent his head to sing softly in her ear, and Rachel sang sweetly back to him.

As Finn spun her out on the dance floor, Rachel giggled and said, "I'm glad my dorm caught on fire."

Finn spun her back into him and caught her against his chest, bending to kiss her. "Me too, Rach. That fire was the best thing that ever happened to me."


xxi.

"Momma! How do I look?"

Rachel turned around and saw her oldest son looking up at her from under a helmet. "You make the most handsome firefighter ever, Chris!"

Chris gave her a toothy grin. "Even better than Daddy?"

"No one is better than Daddy!"

A pink blur streaked through the room and attacked her twin brother. Chris just laughed as Ava tackled him to the ground. Rachel lifted her youngest son off of his changing table and just watched in amusement for a moment.

Finn came into the room then. He paused to press a kiss to Rachel's lips and then to baby Austin's forehead before he stooped down and pulled the twins apart. He straightened the tiara on Ava's head and straightened Chris's fireman jacket.

"You have to be careful, Ava-Bear," he said as he tapped her nose. She giggled and grabbed his hand. "Uncle Kurt will kill me if he finds out I let you mess up your pretty princess costume."

"I'm the princess, not Uncle Kurt!" Ava declared. "He has to listen to me!"

Finn chuckled as he stood up and wrapped his arm around Rachel. "Well, she's definitely your daughter. Only four years old, and she's already declaring herself the boss of everything."

Rachel laughed and pushed Finn's chest in retaliation. "Austin is definitely your son, then. He's only a year old and he wants to eat everything in sight!"

Finn scooped his son out of Rachel's arms and flew him like an airplane around the room. "Can you blame him? The boy knows what the important things are in life!"

"Daddy," Ava said. "Pumpkins don't fly!"

"That one does!" Chris exclaimed. He grabbed his plastic jack-o-lantern and ran over to Rachel, tugging on her jeans. "Momma, when do we get to go trick-or-treating?"

"When Uncle Kurt and Uncle Blaine get here with Lilly," Rachel answered. Just as she spoke, there was a knock on the door.

"They're here!" she shrieked as she ran towards the door.

Chris attached himself to Finn's leg as he walked towards the front door. He was still carrying Austin, and Rachel managed to fit herself under his arm again as Finn opened the door. Ava bounced around them, chattering excitedly.

Kurt smirked as he set his daughter on the floor and she ran right towards Ava. "Just another night in the Hudson household, right?"

Rachel and Finn grinned at each other. They wouldn't have it any other way.


Author's Note: So what do you think? I'm actually kind of proud of this, and I really loved writing it. Thanks for reading!