Author's Note: I'm addicted to Finchel writing. I should probably view this as a problem, but I really don't. This isn't a Finchel prompt, but it's something that I've had on my mind for a while. The title of this story comes from "Because You Live" by Jesse McCartney (don't judge).

Disclaimer: Don't own anything.


i.

Rachel Berry grinned as she walked down the streets of New York City. It was such a beautiful day out. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and Rachel had just discovered that she had gotten the part of Elphaba in Wicked. It had taken two long years, but her dreams were finally coming true. She was going to be a star on Broadway.

She ducked into her favorite corner store. She wanted to pick up a few things so that she and roommate, Santana Lopez, could celebrate. Santana was well on her way to becoming one of the best lawyers in the city, and Rachel was going to win a Tony one day. What didn't they have to celebrate?

Unable to keep the news to herself any longer, Rachel pulled her phone from her purse and scrolled through the numbers until she found Santana's. Rachel started to peruse through the ice cream as she waited for Santana to pick up.

In the back of her mind, she was vaguely aware of raised voices from the front of the store. She didn't think too much of it, however. It was New York City, after all. It wasn't as if it was a quiet place. She started humming as the phone rang on the other line.

A sudden gunshot startled Rachel. She jumped and whipped around, dropping her phone. She saw a robber pointing a gun at the cashier near the front of the school. There was another gunman, and he turned towards Rachel when she screamed. He leveled the gun at her and squeezed the trigger…

A hard body slammed into Rachel's, knocking her to the floor. She gasped as the wind was knocked out of her and her head slammed into the hard tile of the floor. Stars floated in front of her eyes as she remained pinned to the ground. Whoever knocked her over just laid there for a long moment.


ii.

With a groan, the man who knocked her to the floor rolled off of her. She found herself looking at a tall man with a mess of thick, brown hair and a smattering of freckles. He rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling as Rachel slowly sat up. The room spun, but she wasn't sure if it was because of how she hit her head or the shock.

Police burst into the store and easily took down the gunmen. Several more police officers came in, followed by paramedics. Rachel and the man were towards the back of the store, so they weren't helped first.

"Are you okay?" the man grunted.

Rachel rubbed at the bump on the back of her head. "I'm fine," she said. It was beginning to worry her, the way that the man wasn't really moving. "What about you? Are you okay?"

He closed his eyes tightly. When he opened them again, he gave her a weak half smile that made her heart flutter. "I'm fine," he said.

Rachel could tell that he wasn't. She just needed to figure out what was wrong. Getting on to her knees, she leaned over so that she could inspect him.

It didn't take her long to find the problem. When she checked his left side, Rachel could see blood pooling on the floor. She was even more alarmed to find the stain forming on his white t-shirt. It had been six years since her high school first-aid course during her senior year, but Rachel remembered some of what to do in this situation.

Rachel yanked her blouse off, leaving her in just a tank top. She pressed it to the gunshot wound in his left side, but it almost immediately became soaked with blood. The man before was getting even more pale by the second.

"Help! I need help over here!" Rachel yelled. She turned back to the man and looked into his eyes. "You need to stay awake. What's your name?"

"Finn…" The man gasped. "Finn Hudson."

"Okay, Finn Hudson." Rachel was working on autopilot. That was a good thing, since she probably would have frozen if she had given herself any time to think about what was happening. She was terrified, but the adrenaline rush caused by the situation allowed her to react. "You have to stay with me. Don't pass out on me, okay?"

It was then that several paramedics came over. One relieved Rachel from where she was putting pressure on the wound, and another pulled her to another stretcher. As they fussed over her, Rachel watched them tend to Finn.

It was then that she realized that Finn had pushed her down just as the second gun went off. He had jumped in front of her, and then he had gotten shot. Which meant that he had taken the bullet for her.

Finn Hudson had saved her life.


iii.

"Little Berry! Shit, are you okay?"

Rachel looked up from the ambulance she was situated in as her cousin, Noah Puckerman, rushed over to her. He looked very official in his police uniform, and his eyes were shining with concern as he pushed aside the paramedic attending to Rachel.

"I'm fine, Noah," Rachel said weakly. She was shaking, her heart was pounding loudly in her ears and her head hurt something fierce, but she was okay. Thanks to Finn Hudson.

"Rachel, you were caught in a shootout," Puck said incredulously. "How can you be okay right now?"

She managed a glare. "You're not being very helpful at all right now."

"I know." Puck ran a hand over his shaved head before the loud chiming of his phone sounded. Pulling it out, he immediately said, "She's okay, Q. Yes, she's right here. I'm checking on her right now." After a moment, Puck held the phone out. "Quinn wants to talk to you."

Rachel took the phone from her cousin and immediately felt better at the prospect of talking to his wife. Quinn was one of her closest friends. After a quick conversation and a promise to call again later that night, Rachel hung up and handed the phone back to Puck.

"I wish I could have been the one to cuff that guy," Puck said darkly. He looked down at his clipboard before he said, "They won't let me take your statement. Something about us being related, or some shit like that."

Rachel waved her hand dismissively. She wasn't very concerned with giving her statement at the moment. She pulled the blanket tighter around her body. "Noah, do you know what happened to that man? The man who saved me? His name was Finn Hudson."

A small smile lifted Puck's lips. "I know Huddy. I've worked with him before." Puck didn't elaborate, but he did put a hand on Rachel's shoulder and squeezed. "Quinn will be waiting for you at the hospital. I'll get there as soon as I'm finished up here. I'll ask about Hudson for you."


iv.

Rachel snuck out of her hospital room. She tugged the thin hospital robe tighter around her body and grumbled under her breath. Ever since the shooting, she had been unable to stop shivering. It didn't help that she was wandering around the freezing cold hospital. The doctor had insisted on keeping her overnight, just to make sure that her mild concussion wasn't too serious.

Rachel made her way to the nurse's station. The only thing that Puck had been able to tell her earlier was that Finn Hudson had been brought to this hospital and was in surgery. She hadn't heard anything since then.

"Excuse me?" Rachel asked. "Can you please tell me what room Finn Hudson is in?"

The nurse glanced up at her before looking back at her computer. "Are you family?"

Rachel shifted. "I'm not."

"I'm sorry, then. I'm afraid I can't—"

"I'm the girl he saved today."

The nurse looked back up at her and studied her for a long moment. Finally, she sighed and said, "He came out of surgery a few hours ago, and he's stable. He's going to be fine."

Rachel nodded her head. At least he was going to be okay. Still, she wanted to see him. She didn't know why, but she just had to see for herself that Finn Hudson was alive and well.

"He's in room 505," the nurse continued. "The other nurses will be doing their rounds in fifteen minutes." A soft smile came onto her face. "I suggest you hurry."

Rachel smiled at the nurse. "Thank you!"

She hurried down the hallway and found that room 505 wasn't very far from her own. The door was shut, but she peeked into the small window. Finn was lying peacefully, and it almost looked as if he was sleeping. She could see the steadying rise and fall of his chest, and she let out a sigh of relief.

She would visit him later. After his family had a chance to see him, and he was awake.


v.

"Don't you ever scare me like that again, Rachel Barbra Berry!"

Rachel smiled as Santana rushed into her hospital room. "Good morning, Santana."

The Latina pointed a threatening finger in her face. "I'm serious, Berry. If you do something like that again, I'll kick your ass."

Rachel knew that this was just Santana's way of expressing concern and worry for her friend. Her point was only proven as Santana approached the side of her bed and grabbed her hand, holding it tightly.

"I was so worried when Puck called me," she admitted quietly. "I never want to hear the words 'Rachel has been caught in a shootout' ever again."

Rachel tried to crack a smile. The sound of the gunshots still lingered in the back of her mind. "I'll try to be more careful next time."

Santana returned her small smile. "Puck told me everything that happened. With that Hudson guy."

"Yeah," Rachel said quietly. "Finn Hudson

"I know that look, Berry," Santana said. "Are you feeling guilty?"

"San, if he hadn't jumped in front of that bullet, he wouldn't have gotten shot!"

"Yeah, well, if he hadn't jumped in front of that bullet, you would have gotten shot. And you probably would have died. So I'm kind of glad that guy took a bullet for you. What room is he in?"

"505," Rachel said absently. Realizing what Santana just asked, Rachel's brow furrowed. "Why? What are you going to do?"

"Can't I just thank the guy for saving the life of my best friend?" Rachel gave her friend a skeptical look. "I'm serious, Berry. I can be nice sometimes, you know."


vi.

"No, I'm not letting you take her picture! Now get out of here!" Puck poked his head out of the hospital room as the reporter ran back down the hall. "And you better not go to Hudson's room, either! I will find you!"

As Puck came back into the room, Quinn smiled. "You're always so pleasant, aren't you Puck?"

Puck rolled his eyes. "Like I would let that sleazy reporter try to exploit my little cousin's story to further his career.

Rachel was sitting up in her bed, little baby Beth in her lap as she played a hand game with her. "Regardless, I really do appreciate it, Puck. I'm not exactly eager to talk about what happened."

"Understandable," Quinn said. "But you do know that people are going to ask questions. My boss called earlier. He wants me to do a story on you."

"You said no, right?" Puck demanded. Quinn was a reporter at the local news station, and she did mostly human interest pieces. It didn't surprise anyone that she was being tapped for Rachel's story.

"Of course I said no!" Quinn exclaimed.

"Okay, okay." Rachel was quick to head off the developing argument. "I'm going to have to talk about this eventually, aren't I?"

Puck nodded his head. "They want to give Finn a medal. It's not every day that one of New York's best firefighters saves a civilian girl by taking a bullet for her."

"I guess this would be an excellent time to start compiling my story. This will look great in my autobiography," Rachel said playfully. She smiled when she realized that people still didn't know about her exciting news. "I have to get it ready, since I just got my starring role on Broadway!"

Quinn squealed. "Congratulations!"

"Jesus, Little Berry!" Puck exclaimed. "Why don't you tell us this shit? This story is going to get even bigger now!"


vii.

There was a knock on the door, and Finn looked up just enough to see his stepbrother poke his head into his room. "Finn? There's someone here to see you."

"It better not be another reporter," Finn said darkly. He was beyond annoyed with the amount of press that had tried to talk to him since the shooting a little over twenty four hours ago. One guy had even pretended to be a nurse. Thankfully, his stepfather, Burt, had taken care of it.

Kurt gave him a cryptic look. "It's not," he said. He stepped aside to let a Latina into the room.

She nodded at Kurt. "Thanks, Lady Hummel," she said. Finn raised an eyebrow at the nickname, but the woman just smiled at him and sat down in the chair next to his bed. "Jolly Green Giant," she greeted. "How are you?"

"Uh… Who are you?" Finn asked.

"I'm Santana Lopez. I'm the best friend of the woman you saved today."

"Oh." Finn tried to sit up a little straighter and winced when his wound pulled. "How is she? Is she okay?"

Santana's eyebrows shot up at the concern that Finn had for her best friend. They had barely spoken two full sentences to each other. Rachel had been obsessing over whether or not Finn was okay, and here he was, his entire demeanor having changed just at the mention of her.

"She's fine," Santana said. Her face softened. "Thanks to you."

"That's good. That's really good." Finn relaxed back onto his pillows. "I was only able to talk to Puck for a few seconds. What's her name?"

"Rachel Berry. I… Look, Finn." Santana shifted in her seat and looked away from him, down at her hands. "I just really wanted to thank you. Rachel really is my best friend. She was there for me when no one else was, and I… I just really wanted to thank you. So thank you."

Finn managed to reach forward enough to take Santana's hand. She looked up at him, her eyes suspiciously misty. She blinked hard and cleared her throat, trying not to cry. He didn't know what to say to her. He just squeezed her hand and tried to convey support.

Santana sniffled and wiped at her face. "I'm going to deny it if anyone ever asks, but… You're a really good guy, Finn Hudson."


viii.

There was a knock on Rachel's door. She pulled her sweater on and pulled back the curtain surrounding her bed. She was finally being released today. "Come in!"

The door opened and a pale, fashionably dressed man appeared. He gave her a small smile as he stepped into the room. "Rachel Berry?" he asked.

"Yes?" she asked.

He eyed the purple sweater and jeans she was wearing before he stepped forward. "I'm Kurt Hummel. I'm Finn Hudson's brother."

"Oh!" Rachel immediately hugged the slender man. She was a hugger, not someone who shook hands. Kurt was surprised for a moment before he hugged her in return. "It's nice to meet you! How is he?"

"He's going to make a full recovery," Kurt said. "He'll be out of work for a little while, though. I think it's making him cranky. Finn loves being a firefighter."

Rachel bit her lip. "I'm sorry to hear that," she said.

"Why? It's not like it's your fault. You didn't shoot him."

"I know. But if it weren't for me, Finn wouldn't have gotten shot." It had been on Rachel's mind for the past twenty-four hours. She had wanted to talk about it, but Puck, Quinn, and Santana were all just so happy that she was okay. She didn't want to worry them. Rachel guessed that it really was true: it was sometimes just easier to talk to a complete stranger.

"I don't think that Finn sees it that way," Kurt said as he put a hand on her shoulder. "He's always had a bit of hero complex, to be honest. He was in the army for a couple of years, and now he's a fireman… Finn just likes helping people."

Rachel nodded her head. It sounded like Finn Hudson was a truly amazing man. She remembered the flash of concern in his amber eyes, even as he was lying on the floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound.

Kurt looked at the bag she was holding. Puck and Quinn had brought it for her the night before. "Are you leaving?"

"I'm being released today." Her other cousin, Blaine Anderson, was bringing her father's to the hospital. All three men were going to spend the day with her. They had been beside themselves when they heard the news of the holdup. It was only because Puck had told them to give Rachel a little space that they hadn't showed up the night before.

"Did you want to go and see Finn?" Kurt asked. "He's awake right now. Our parents are flying in later today. This is the calm before the storm, so to speak. If you wanted to see him, now would probably be the best time to do it."

Rachel tightened her grip on her bag. "I'd really like that."


ix.

For the second time that day, Kurt knocked on Finn's door. Peeking his head in, he said, "Finn, I have someone who wants to meet you."

Finn instinctively knew that this was going to be different from all the other people who had come to see him. He sat up a little straighter, despite being already propped up by several pillows. He discarded the comic book he had been reading and watched as Kurt pushed the door open.

It was the girl from the store.

Her long, shiny brown hair fell in waves past her shoulders. Her big brown eyes were wide as she looked at him, and she was so tiny. Despite the pain from being shot, Finn could clearly remember how that tiny body had felt under his.

They stared at each other for a long moment. "I'm just going to give you two a moment," Kurt said. He stepped out of the room and shut the door behind him.

Rachel twisted the straps of her bag between her fingers. She stepped closer to the bed. "How…" She cleared her throat. "How are you feeling?"

Finn shrugged his shoulders and tried not to wince as the movement irritated his wound. "I'm okay," he said. Truthfully, he was. Seeing her stand in front of him, looking as perfect as she had the day before… it made it all worth it.

She took another step closer. "We were never properly introduced. I'm Rachel Berry."

A sweet half smile lifted Finn's lips. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Rachel Berry."

"I just… I, um…" Wow. How did you thank the person that saved your life without sounding like a complete and total idiot? Everything that Rachel wanted to say just didn't seem like it was enough to express her gratitude or her guilt. The fact that Finn's amber eyes were trained on her with such intensity didn't help, either.

"Rach," Finn said with a laugh. "It's okay."

Rachel raised an eyebrow. Instead of freaking out over how calm he was being, like she wanted to, she went for nonchalance. She was an excellent actress, after all. "How is this okay, Finn? The last I checked, you were in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound."

Finn lifted his shoulders again. "I've been shot at before. It's not a big deal." Yeah, so he was trying to brush this off. So what? He was glad that he had saved Rachel Berry's life.

Rachel bit her lip. Right. Kurt said that he had been in the army. He must have done at least one tour in Afghanistan. "But you've never actually been shot before. Right?"

It was true. Finn had been shot at, and had been hurt in various other ways throughout his career, but he had never actually gotten shot. Figures he would when he was at a corner store in the middle of New York City.

"No."

Rachel's face crumpled at his admission. Finn watched in shock as tears welled up in her eyes and her lips began to tremble. She pressed a hand to her mouth as if to calm herself, but it didn't really work. She hiccupped out a little sob before she breathed, "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

Finn's brow furrowed. "What? Why?"

A big, fat tear rolled down Rachel's cheek. "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't have gotten shot. And I haven't even properly thanked you yet! What kind of person am I?"

"Hey." Finn crooked his fingers, beckoning for her to come closer. She did, stopping right next to his bed. To her surprise, he reached up and cupped her cheek, brushing her tears away with the pad of his calloused thumb. "Stop it, Rachel. You don't need to say or do anything. It's okay."

Rachel found herself leaning into his touch. "But it's not," she mumbled. "You got shot because you were trying to save me." Her eyes zeroed in on the left side of his abdomen, where she knew the wound was. "Why?"

Finn couldn't believe that she was actually asking him that question. He brushed his thumb over her cheek again, marveling at how smooth her skin was. "I saw you in the store, and I… I just knew that I couldn't let anything happen to you."

Rachel's eyes bored into Finn's. Her hand came up over his against her cheek and she closed her eyes, grasping it tightly. When she opened her eyes again, she did the only thing so could think of.

She kissed him.


x.

"Are you sure that you have everything you need?"

Rachel rolled her eyes at her well-meaning cousin. "Yes, Blaine. I'm absolutely positive that I have everything I need. Now will you please sit down and relax?"

"Okay, okay." Blaine smiled and sat beside. He pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and covered Rachel with it. "I'm just worried about you, that's all."

"You shouldn't be. I wasn't the one that got shot."

"You fathers told me that you wouldn't let them see him."

Rachel gave her cousin an incredulous look. "Are you kidding me? They would have accosted the poor man! You know how dramatic they are."

"Yeah, I can tell that it's rubbed off on you." Rachel laughed and pushed him playfully, and Blaine chuckled before he continued. "But I just thought I should let you know that they went to his room. They didn't go in, so don't worry. But they did check him out. Uncle Leroy and Uncle Hiram said that he was quite attractive."

Rachel's cheeks flushed. "Yeah," she said. "Yeah, I guess so." She was a good actress, but not even she could disguise the longing in her voice. Finn Hudson wasn't just attractive. He was gorgeous, sexy, amazing… there were plenty of other words that she could use to describe them. Her head just hurt too much for her to figure it out at the moment.

Blaine's eyes narrowed. "Rachel Barbra Berry. What happened between you and Finn Hudson?"

"Nothing."

"The blush on your cheeks says otherwise. What happened?"

Rachel sighed. "I might have gone to his room to thank him for saving my life. And… I might have kissed him."

"Oh my God!" Blaine's jaw dropped open. "That is some thank you, Rachel!"

"I don't' know what made me do it!" Rachel buried her face in her hands and was instantly brought back to the moment she had kissed him. His lips were soft and firm under hers. He had been frozen for a split second before his lips had started to move gently with hers. The kiss was sweet and tender, only lasting for a few moments.

It hadn't been long after that that Rachel had left the room. When she had pulled back, she had kissed him on the forehead, smiled, and then left. Both of them were too in awe of the sensations they had felt during the kiss to really say anything else."

Blaine regarded his cousin for a moment. "You really like him, don't you?"

"I don't know him, Blaine."

"But you still like him."

Rachel bit her lip before she nodded her head. "I think I do."


xi.

Kurt hung the phone up for the fifth time that day. "That was yet another reporter."

Finn groaned. "I'm going to have to give an interview, aren't I?"

"Probably. I don't know why you're so against it, though. You're a hero, Finn. Not that you weren't before, but now… Now, everyone knows."

Finn closed his eyes and thought of Rachel's beautiful face. "I just did what anyone else would have done."

Kurt clapped his hands together, causing Finn to open his eyes. "I just had the most brilliant idea."

Finn wasn't sure if he liked where this was going. "What?" he said suspiciously.

Kurt's eyes twinkled. "What if you and Rachel gave an interview together?"

Finn sighed. "Kurt…"

"The damsel in distress and her hero! Can you imagine how people would react to the story? They would love it!"

"Rachel doesn't really strike me as the damsel in distress type," Finn said. "I think she can take care of herself."

"But that doesn't mean the world won't appreciate the romantic aspects of this story." Kurt started going through the messages on his phone and checking his e-mail on his laptop at the same time. "I'm going to research the best reporter for the two of you. I got Rachel's number earlier, so I can call her later and tell her about the idea."

There was only one sentence that really registered in Finn's mind. "You got Rachel's number?" he repeated.

Kurt nodded his head absently as he clicked through a few pages on his open internet browser. "Yes. When I found out that she was going to be playing Elphaba in the revival of Wicked, I just knew that I had to see her again. I can't believe that you managed to save the life of an up-and-coming Broadway star."

Once again, there was only one part of that explanation that Finn tuned into. "Can I have her number?" he asked.

Kurt finally looked up at him. "Is there any particular reason that you want Rachel's number?"

Finn had to word this carefully. If he told Kurt that Rachel had kissed him, he would no doubt go running to their mother and immediately tell her. That was the last thing that Finn wanted, so he was just going to keep the little piece of information to himself. Besides, he had really liked that kiss. He was really hoping that it would happen again.

Finally, he said, "The trauma of being in a shooting can be pretty overwhelming." He thought he was doing pretty well with his reasoning. "I just wanted to call her and let her know that she can talk to me if she needed to."

Kurt gave him a suspicious look, but he pulled out his phone and handed it to Finn. He smiled when he realized that Rachel had put a little star next to her name. It was kind of cute.

"You have it bad."

Finn looked up from the phone. "Huh?"

Kurt grinned. "I think that you might have a crush on Miss Rachel Berry."


xii.

"Please don't freak out too much, Daddy," Rachel pleaded. "He's still recovering."

"I know that," Hiram said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I just want to thank the man for saving my little star's life."

"Besides, you wouldn't let us see him yesterday," Leroy said. "It's only fair that we meet him today."

Rachel rolled her eyes. "I know, Papa," she muttered.

It had been a week since they had been released from the hospital. Kurt had called her a few days ago with his idea for a dual interview, and Rachel had put Quinn up as being the reporter to do it. Kurt had immediately agreed.

To Rachel's embarrassment, her fathers, Blaine, and Puck had all insisted on coming with her. Puck had even brought Beth. It was like a mini Berry family reunion, right in the middle of the loft she shared with Santana and her girlfriend, Brittany.

When Hiram found out that they were being buzzed up, he clapped his hands together. "They're here! Oh, I have to get their refreshments ready!"

Hiram was still buzzing around the spread he had set up in the kitchen when there was a knock on the door. Puck, Blaine, and Rachel all ran for it. Since Rachel was smaller than her cousins, she was able to slip past them and get to the door first. She even elbowed Puck out of the way in retaliation.

"Hello!" she said brightly as she swung the door open.

She was surprised to find a balding man and a kind looking woman standing in front of her. She could see whatever ridiculous hat Kurt was wearing behind them, however. Rachel could also see Finn, since he towered over everyone else.

"Oh, you must be Rachel!" the woman exclaimed. "I'm Carole Hummel, Finn's mother. It's so nice to meet you!"

Rachel was pleasantly surprised when Carole hugged her tightly. She saw Finn's cheeks turn bright red, and she smiled. "It's nice to meet you too, Mrs. Hummel."

When Carole pulled back, she said, "This is my husband Burt, and you already know Kurt. Is this the rest of your family?"

Hiram came bustling in from the kitchen. "You look absolutely radiant, Mrs. Hummel! I'm Hiram, Rachel's father."

Rachel stepped aside to allow Burt and Kurt to enter the loft. Finn's cheeks were still red as he took his hands out of his pockets and rubbed the back of his neck. "My whole family decided they wanted to come," he said with the adorable half smile.

Rachel gestured back to the people milling around her loft. "So did mine. We can let them be crazy together, and hopefully they'll leave us out of it."

Finn laughed. "Sounds like a plan."

They stood there, smiling at each other, before they became aware of several pairs of eyes on them. Their parents were busy getting along fantastically, and Quinn was making Puck help the cameramen set up. So that only left Kurt and Blaine.

Sure enough, both men were standing next to each other and watching Finn and Rachel as if they were a riveting soap opera. Finn rolled his eyes while Rachel stalked up to her cousin and grabbed his arm, towing him away from everyone.

"You're so cute together!" Blaine gushed.

Rachel couldn't help the smile that formed on her face at that comment, but she still pointed a threatening finger in Blaine's face. "You can't tell anyone about what happened between Finn and me," she said.

"Why not?"

"Because everyone is already crazy enough as it is. I'd like to keep this under wraps for a little while, if that's okay with you."

Blaine pouted. "Fine. But only because you're my cousin and I love you."

Rachel hugged Blaine tightly in thanks. "I don't even know if Finn likes me like that," she muttered.

Blaine grinned. "Oh, trust me, Rachel. He definitely does."


xiii.

Quinn was an excellent person to give the interview. She didn't pry, didn't ask too many personal or invasive questions. She didn't ask Finn and Rachel to recount their experience in the store, but she did manage to ask the right queries to keep the interview interesting.

When the interview was over, Hiram insisted that everyone stay for lunch. Burt and Carole had no problem with it, since they were getting along with the Berry men famously. Kurt and Blaine were even huddled together. Rachel could see the sparks, but she also thought they were conspiring to somehow get her and Finn and together.

Rachel, needing to escape the madness for a moment, went back to her bedroom and texted Santana. She had gone out with Brittany for the day and refused to come back until the apartment was cleaned out. She loved Hiram and Leroy, but she stated that she wasn't ready to be there when the families met "until you got your head out of your ass and actually asked Finnegan out."

Coming out of her bedroom, Rachel almost smacked right into Finn. She caught herself just in time and put a gentle hand on his chest.

"Oh, Finn! I'm sorry."

"It's okay," he said as an easy smile formed on his face. "I just had to escape for a minute." A sheepish look came over his features. "I was hiding in the bathroom."

Rachel laughed. "I don't blame you. The next time you feel the need to take a break, feel free to go in my room. I'll probably be hiding there, too."

Finn chuckled before he looked down at the hand Rachel still had on his chest. She looked at her hand as well and blushed, biting her bottom lip. Finn looked back up and he zeroed in on the action, his eyes darkening as they landed on her lips.

"How are you feeling?" Rachel finally asked.

"Good," Finn said without taking his eyes off of her lips. "I'm feeling good."

When Rachel pulled her hand off of his chest, Finn put his on her waist. Rachel looked up at him with wide eyes before a smile formed on her face. She had just enough time to see Finn smile in return before his mouth covered hers.

This kiss was definitely different from the first. His other hand threaded into her hair, cradling the back of her head as he tilted it. Rachel was able to slide her arms around his neck, straining up onto her tiptoes. His tongue swiped gently across her bottom lip, and Rachel's lips parted.

It just felt so good. They kissed until air became an issue. Even then, Finn kept dropping little, sweet kisses to her lips. Rachel toyed with the hair at the nape of his neck, and he shivered and moved closer to her. Rachel ended up pressed against the doorframe, but she didn't mind. Especially not when Finn ducked his head to kiss her again.

"Finn! Rachel!" Hiram called. "Lunch is ready!"

Finn and Rachel jumped apart. They stared at each other, slowly withdrawing their hands from one another. Finally, Rachel smiled and shrugged her shoulders. Finn's face relaxed into a smile in return, and they walked back out into the dining room.

Everyone was staring at them. Rachel willed her cheeks not to burst into flames. "Finn just needed me to show him where the bathroom was."

That explanation seemed to work, but Rachel could feel Blaine's eyes on her. When she looked at her cousin, he dramatically winked. Rachel couldn't keep the smile off of her face… and neither could Finn.


xiv.

Santana threw a pillow at Rachel.

"Ow! You can't throw things at my head, Santana! I have a concussion!"

Santana waved her hand. "Oh relax, Berry. The pillow didn't hit your head. Now why don't we talk about the fact that you kissed lurch again?"

"Don't call him that," Rachel said immediately.

Santana held her hands up. "You know I do it with affection, Berry. I actually like the guy. Care to explain why you didn't ask him out yet? I think it's clear that the guy likes you if he mauled you against your bedroom door."

Rachel's cheeks pinked. "Finn didn't maul me." Although she kind of wished he would. "We were interrupted."

Santana snorted. "Yeah, interrupted from bumping uglies, maybe."

"Santana!"

"What? You know you want to."


xv.

Three days after the interview, Rachel opened her door and found Finn Hudson standing in front of her.

"Finn!" she greeted, surprised (but very, very happy) to see him.

He rubbed the back of his neck and gave her that gorgeous crooked grin. "I'm sorry, Rachel. I probably should have called. I just thought it would be cool to hang out without our families around. Are you busy? You must be busy. I can just come back later—"

Rachel giggled and took his hand, pulling him into the loft. Santana and Brittany were out again, so they had the whole place to themselves. It was nice not to have any prying eyes for once.

"It's okay, Finn." She smiled up at him, biting her lip. "I'd really like to spend some time with you, too."

A grin spread across his face. "Awesome," They sat on the couch, thighs pressing together. Rachel's heart was pounding in her ears at their close proximity and the fact that he was there.

"So what did you have in mind?" Rachel asked.

Finn enveloped her hand in one of his larger ones. His thumb stroked the back of her hand slowly, and Rachel looked up into his warm amber eyes. She licked her lips as her breath caught under his intense gaze.

"Before we do anything," he murmured, his voice husky. "I just… I want to try something."

Finn brought his other hand up to caress Rachel's cheek. His fingers threaded into her hair, just like he had the last time he kissed her. He slowly tilted her face up as his lips lowered towards hers. When she didn't resist, his mouth covered hers.

A moan escaped Rachel as Finn teased her lips open. She gripped his shirt in her tiny fists, trying to get as close to him as possible. Finn solved that problem as he slid one hand around to her back, gently guiding her down to lie on the couch.

Finn's lips moved down her neck, gently nipping and sucking. Rachel arched up, and her hands slid under his shirt. Her fingertips brushed against the bandages on his left side, and Rachel quickly withdrew her hand.

Finn pulled his lips back from her neck. He gently pressed his lips to hers again before his hand came up to cup her cheek. "Maybe we should stop," he mumbled.

Rachel traced her fingers over his bandages. "Why? Does it hurt?"

"What? No." Finn chuckled and nuzzled his nose against her temple. "No, I feel fine. Better than fine, actually. I just don't want to push you too far, Rach."

Rachel bit her lip before she reached up, threading her fingers into his hair and pulling Finn back down. She kissed him again, deeply and slowly. "What if I want you to?" she whispered.

Finn's eyes darkened. "Rachel," he said on a groan.

Rachel kissed him again. She knew that it was kind of crazy, but she felt so connected to Finn. They had only really met four times (three if you didn't count the time he got shot), she couldn't help the feelings she had developed for him. She wanted him… and judging from the hardness she felt against her stomach, Finn wanted her, too.

Rachel spread her legs, allowing Finn's hips to drop between her thighs. "It's okay, Finn," she said.

Finn stared at her for a long moment before he pressed his lips to hers again. His hands slid up under her shirt, stroking against her stomach. He wanted to be absolutely sure that she wanted this. Looking into her eyes, Finn realized that Rachel really was serious. She wanted this as much as he did.

They slowly stripped each other's clothes off, taking their time. Finn's mouth passed over her collarbone and down to her breasts. He peppered kisses all over her chest, closing his mouth around her nipple. Rachel moaned, fingers locking in his hair and holding him close. Their naked skin pressed together, heightening the sensations.

Finn's fingers stroked between her legs just as Rachel's hand wrapped around him. He kissed her neck, pulling her hands away. Finn twined their fingers together as he pressed into her, and Rachel's legs wrapped around his waist. She arched up, pulling him in deeper. They moved together as if they had been lovers forever, touching each other in the right places.

With a loud cry, Rachel fell apart under Finn. He thrust into her a few more times before he came hard. Finn dropped his face into her neck as both of them tried to catch their breaths.

"I… I just… wow," Finn finally said. He was afraid that his word vomit was about to start, so he was glad that that was the only word he could manage.

Rachel, for her part, dissolved into giggles under him. "I think 'wow' is pretty apt word to describe it," she managed. Finn exhaled in relief as he smiled and wrapped his arms around her. She kissed him again and said, "Why don't we head to my bedroom?"

Finn grinned. "I think that sounds like a pretty good plan."


xvi.

The first thing Finn became aware of was the fact that he was not in his bed.

The second thing was that he was not alone in this mystery bed.

And the third thing was the person thrashing beside him.

It took a moment, but Finn quickly remembered where he was and who he was with. He rolled over to find that Rachel had her brow furrowed as she flailed next to him. Even in her sleep, tears were rolling down her cheeks.

Before Finn could even move, she cried out, "Finn!"

He could barely stop to be shocked as he reached over and gently shook Rachel awake. "Rach. Rach, come on. Wake up."

Rachel's eyes snapped open and she shot straight up in the bed. Finn moved a bit slower, as he didn't want to irritate his injury. But he wrapped his arms around Rachel and pulled her close, kissing the side of her face.

"Shh, Rachel," he murmured as he rubbed her back. "Shh. It's okay."

"Finn?" Rachel looked up as if to make sure that he was there before she buried her face in his chest again. "Oh God, Finn."

"I'm right here, baby." Finn kissed the top her head and combed his fingers gently through her hair. She relaxed into his touch, curling into his embrace.

Finally, Finn pulled back just enough to see her face. "Do you want to tell me what that was about?"

Rachel snuggled closer to him and pressed her cheek to his bare chest. Finn pulled the blanket up around her, as she was still shivering. He stroked his fingers down her naked back. Her skin was so smooth and warm, and he just couldn't stop touching her.

"It was about the shooting," Rachel admitted quietly. "I dreamed about you getting shot. But you weren't okay." The last sentence came out at barely a whisper.

Finn didn't understand why Rachel felt so horrible about what had happened. He never for one second blamed her. "Everything is okay. I'm right here, and everything is going to be okay."


xvii.

Once Rachel had gone back to sleep, Finn had gotten up to get her a glass of water just in case she woke up again. It took him a few moments, but he found a glass and filled it with water.

"I figured you would be here, Finnegan."

Finn looked up to find Santana leaning against the door of her room. Finn felt a little awkward in his state of undress (he was wearing only his boxer briefs), but it didn't seem to bother Santana. She stepped out of her room and shut the door behind her.

"So Berry woke you up with one of her nightmares, huh?"

Finn's brow furrowed. "One of?"

Santana nodded her head. "She's been having those nightmares since the shooting," she revealed. "And she always yells your name out. The first time she did it scared the shit out of Brittany."

Finn didn't really know how to respond to that piece of new information. He felt terrible that Rachel was feeling so guilty. There had to be some way he could convince her that he was going to be fine and he didn't blame her.

"I don't understand," Finn finally said. "I don't understand why she feels so guilty."

"Because Berry has the biggest heart out of anyone I know," Santana answered. "She feels enough for at least three people. But I think that she doesn't understand why you jumped in front of that bullet for her." Santana's eyes narrowed at him. "Do you know why?"

"Of course I do!" Finn glared at Santana. "I couldn't let her die, Santana. I saw her in the store before it all happened. When I saw the shooter point the gun at her… I just knew that I couldn't let anything happen to her." There were actually more personal reasons as to why he did what he did, but he wasn't about to let Santana know that.

Santana's pointed a threatening finger at him. "Just treat her well, Finn. Or I'll be the one to shoot you. And I'll go all 21 Jump Street on you and shoot off your dick."

Finn hoped he wasn't being too dramatic when he covered himself with his hands.

Santana smirked before her eyes softened. "In all seriousness, though. I'm glad she has you. Mainly because I don't have to be the one to wake her up from her nightmares anymore, but also because I think you're the only who can help her with them."

Now that Finn knew his junk was safe, he smiled. "You're a really good friend, Santana."

Santana shrugged her shoulders, but Finn knew that she was taking the compliment to heart. "Berry and I have been through a lot." She sighed. "When I came out in high school, people weren't very receptive of it. My parents were fine, but my grandmother wasn't. And the students were downright cruel. Rachel was this weird little outcast who always sang Broadway show tunes, and she had two gay dads. She reached out to me, and then she stood up for me when some ass wipe hockey players were getting on my case. We've been best friends ever since."

Finn squeezed her hand. "She's lucky to have someone like you, Santana."

Santana smiled. "Believe it or not, Finn, I think she's lucky to have someone like you, too."


xviii.

"Down girl. We're in a public place. You can't have your wicked way with Hudson here."

Kurt groaned and clapped his hands over his ears. "Santana, I don't want to hear that! That's my brother, for Gaga's sake!"

Santana shrugged her shoulders, but she was smirking. "It's not my fault that Berry wants to climb your brother like a tree."

Rachel bit her lip and looked back at Finn as he climbed down from the stage. She wouldn't admit it out loud, but it was completely true. They were at the award ceremony, and Finn had just received his medal from the mayor. He was wearing his dress uniform, and he looked mighty fine in it. Finn totally knew the affect he was having on her, too. He kept tossing her smirks and looking at her with dark eyes.

"I'm happy for the two of you, really," Kurt said. "But I don't want to see it. I'm still recovering from the time I walked in on the two of you in the kitchen."

Puck put his hand out. "I'm just going to stop you right there, Petunia. There are some things that a man doesn't need to know about his cousin. That is one of them."

"And don't pretend that Finn and I didn't walk in on you and Blaine in my living room just two days ago, Kurt!" Rachel exclaimed. "My living room! At least we were in Finn's apartment when you caught us!"

"What are we talking about?" Finn asked as he joined them.

Puck made a face. "Apparently, there's been a whole lot of seeing going on. This is too much sharing for me."

Santana rolled her eyes. "Oh please, Puckerman. Don't pretend like you and Quinn haven't gotten it on in Rachel's room."

Rachel gasped and whipped around to face her cousin. "What?"

"Uh…" Puck held his hands up. "Quinn!"

Quinn glared at her husband before she tried to placate Rachel. "We were apartment sitting for you when your fathers forced you to go on that vacation. It was just one time, Rachel, I swear."

"Twice," Santana coughed.

Quinn turned her glare on the Latina. "Like you haven't slept with Brittany in Rachel's room, either, Santana!"

"Santana!"

Santana didn't look all that bothered by it. "My parents were over and I gave them my room. You were out, and I wanted some time with my girl Britts."

Rachel scowled darkly at Puck, Quinn, Santana, and Brittany. "You all owe me a new mattress."

Finn snaked a hand around Rachel's waist and pulled her against him, dropping a kiss to the side of her neck. "Don't worry, baby," he murmured in her ear. "We can just use mine from now on."

Rachel giggled and ignored the comments of "we're in a public place!" and "there are children around!" and "get a room!" from their friends. Everyone immediately quieted when Carole approached them, however.

She smiled at her son and his new girlfriend. "The press wants pictures of the two of you," she said.

Finn groaned. "Do we have to?"

"Yes." Carole patted his cheek and then hugged Rachel. "Now run along, you two." Once they were gone, she turned towards the other kids in front of her. They may be adults, but Carole still considered them her kids (even if she had only just met some of them). "You shouldn't make fun of the two of them."

Kurt scowled. "How is it that we're getting scolded right now?"

Puck smirked. "Because Hudson is a mama's boy."

"I heard that, Puckerman!"


xix.

"Finn, I have a question. And I want you to be completely honest with me."

"Okay." Finn propped himself up on his elbow and looked at Rachel. Even just wrapped up in his sheets, with her hair all mused and her lips swollen, she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

Rachel looked right into his eyes. "Why did you save me?"

It had been a little over a month since the shooting. Ever since that first night he had spent with her, Finn knew that Rachel would be asking this question again. Now, he was more than ready to tell her everything.

"Rachel, when I saw you in the store, I couldn't look away. I remember thinking that I had never seen anyone more beautiful." Finn reached out and cupped her cheek. "And then that guy pointed the gun at you and my whole life flashed in front of my eyes. My whole life with you."

Rachel blinked at him in surprised. "What?"

Finn pulled her into his arms. "In that single moment, I saw everything with you: first dates, a wedding, children… all of it. I didn't know if I would ever get to actually talk to you, but I knew that I couldn't let you get shot. I just couldn't. In that moment… I think I fell in love with you, Rachel Berry."

A tear rolled down Rachel's cheek, but there was a bright, beaming smile on her face as she reached up and kissed him. "I love you too, Finn," she whispered.

Finn kissed her again and pressed her into the sheets. As they made love throughout the rest of the night, they both realized that that corner store was still their favorite.


xx.

"How are you doing this evening, Mrs. Hudson?"

Rachel sighed and curled her fingers into Finn's jacket. "Say it again."

Finn grinned. "Mrs. Hudson."

They were swaying together in the middle of the dance floor—their first dance as man and wife. Rachel looked stunning in her white dress with her hair swept up, and Finn looked dashing in his dress uniform. Their wedding had been simple and sweet, taking place on an early summer day.

"I love you," Rachel said. She stood on her tiptoes and pressed a sweet kiss to her new husband's lips.

"Love you too, baby," Finn said. He stepped back and attempted to twirl her but accidently tripped on the hem of Rachel's dress. They heard Kurt's outraged gasp as Finn righted himself and caught Rachel against him. She dissolved into giggles and held onto Finn's jacket for support.

"Huh," Finn said. He was laughing right along with his wife. "I guess that's what I get for trying to be smooth."

"Oh, Finn." Rachel took his face in both of her hands and kissed him again. "It's okay."

He pulled her back into his arms, this time just swaying in a little circle. Rachel rested her head on Finn's chest and listened to the steady beating of his heart. They might not have met in the most conventional way, but in that moment… Rachel knew that she wouldn't change a thing.


Author's Note: So what did you think? I like to keep the angst out of these because I think my multi-chapter Even If The Skies Get Rough has enough angst to last for at least five stories. Everyone needs some fluff in their life, right? Thanks for reading!