A/N: Hi! This is based off from the 'Trouble' prompt over at finchel-prompts. This is a bit angsty and it's rated M for a reason, so please keep that in mind while reading! As always, reviews are so appreciated.

Thanks to Emily, for her oh so encouraging words about my writing :) And thanks to the people at tumblr who send me such lovely messages... they're always super motivating and it's still kind of surreal to me that people take the time to read what I have to say. Title of this piece comes from a song by a group called Hedley. I don't own that, or Glee!


Finn knows this probably doesn't sound believable, but honestly, it's the truth. He didn't mean for this to happen, okay? Yes, he gets that borrowing his mother's car without her permission (which some people may call stealing, but whatever, that's a minor technicality) wasn't the best idea. But hear Finn out. Even if he'd asked, she would've said no, and it's not like she was using the car at the time or anything. So what was the harm in just borrowing it for a few minutes, right? He was totally going to bring it right back once he was done with it. Swear to God.

And, yes, okay, he'll admit that drinking a couple Natty Lights before driving the car wasn't one of his more – well, brilliant ideas. It could actually be chalked up as one of his stupidest ones, along with setting the ducks loose at school and spray painting some graffiti along the outside wall of Sheets N Things.

But Puck's always told him that Natty Light's comparable to water and that the alcohol content in it is somewhere around the alcohol content in cough medicine. And it's not like cough medicine's ever gotten Finn drunk, and seriously, ever since he started drinking it, neither has Natty Light.

Obviously, looking back on it now, he probably shouldn't have believed Puck. But the guy always sounds so convincing, and the beer always goes down so easily that Finn never had reason to doubt that his best friend was telling the truth.

Now, obviously, as Finn's sitting inside his mother's car that's currently sticking out of the Berry's two-car garage door, he realizes the serious, serious error of his ways.

But look, regardless of the situational context, he didn't mean to run his car into the Berry's house. It just sort of happened. One minute he was drinking his beer and singing along to Don't Stop Believing (and sounding like a total badass version of Steve Perry, by the way), and the next thing he knew, his mom's Toyota Camry was smashing into the Berry's garage, smoke and fire shooting out of the hood and everything.

Finn doesn't spill his beer; he just sits there with his mouth agape and his heart thudding in his chest, and he almost feels like he's just been thrown into the coldest, most sobering shower of his entire life. Because he's definitely a little buzzed right now, but still, he can appreciate the gravity of the situation, you know?

And the situation is that his car, his mother's car, the one she worked so hard to buy brand new just a couple of months ago, currently looks like it's been smashed by the hammer of Thor. Finn's not the greatest at math, but he doesn't need to be to understand that his miniscule savings aren't going to able to cover the cost of the repairs that this car will need.

Then he looks around and he takes another sip of his beer, because it's there and he's there and that sort of seems like a good enough reason right now. His life's basically about five minutes away from imploding. Finn doesn't think that finishing off his beer is going to make this situation any worse.

There's a ton of smoke filling the garage and Finn starts to think that he should probably get out of the car, because what if it blows up or something?

But, now that he thinks about it, blowing up might be a better option than having to deal with his mother. It sucks, you know. His mother's a really great person and she's definitely doing the best job with Finn that she can. But she works all the time, all of these late nights at the hospital, and it just – it gives Finn a lot of time by himself, and sometimes he doesn't know what to do with all that time. He got a job and he tries his best to pay attention in school… but he gets bored. He gets really fucking bored, and Puck's usually really fucking persuasive, so the whole getting into trouble thing – it comes kind of naturally, at this point.

Finn thinks he might've gone a bit too far this time, though. He takes another sip of his beer. The garage is completely empty, so he's pretty sure that the Berry's aren't home, which is one good thing at least. He's not sure what he's supposed to do in this position. He's done a lot of stupid shit, but he's never run into anyone's house before, and he's not exactly aware of what the protocol is here. Leave a note? An IOU? Apology letter? Promise he'll never do it again?

He thinks he'll just sit here for another minute, drink his beer, and calm the fuck down before making any rash decisions. And maybe he'll be able to think of some sort of excuse to be able to back away from this with his life still intact.

(Okay. Finn doesn't think his mom's capable of murder, but he's seen enough cop shows to be appreciative of the fact that even the chilliest people have their limit.)

He's just finishing off the last of the beer when the door to the garage from the house suddenly slams open and a shriek fills the air. Finn drops the can on the floor of the car, covers his ears with his hands and jerks his head around to see what the fuck is making that noise. Do the Berry's have a dog or something?

His eyes widen when he realizes that it's a person making that noise, and he quickly scrambles out of the car, tries to kick the beer can underneath the seat without being too noticeable. He wipes his hand over his mouth and he holds up a hand innocently and he tries to call out,

"I'm okay!"

But Rachel Berry is standing there in her pink and white polka dotted pajamas with some weird green goop on her face, and she is most definitely not concerned with the fact that Finn's okay. She's currently shrieking and wailing and hopping up and down, and okay, Finn gets it, he ran his car into her house, but honestly – it's not her ass that's going to get reamed out by his mom, alright?

She stops shrieking long enough to jump up and press the button that tries to open the garage door – but hello, Finn just ran his car through the door, obviously the thing isn't going to be in working condition any time soon.

Rachel's clutching at her throat as if she's going into some sort of shock, and she rushes over to the back of the garage, opens up a door that's there. She starts trying to shoo the smoke out of the garage or something, waving her hands wildly, and Finn wants to laugh but he also wants to try to stay serious because like, he thinks that laughing wouldn't be the best response in this situation.

She runs out into the backyard, and Finn follows her, because he figures that maybe she knows something that he doesn't know. Maybe there's a gas leak in the garage or something, or maybe she saw another part of his car on fire. Whatever it is, he doesn't want to stay and find out, so he walks over to where she's sitting on the ground, her arms above her head. She's coughing wildly and fuck, she sounds like she's trying to cough up an elephant or something.

"Are you – are you okay?" Finn asks, and he tries to hit her on her back because sometimes that helps him when he's got a cough. But she just shakes her head and she's starting to cry now and honestly, Finn's not in the right state of mind to deal with this.

He wants to call his mom to get her to come pick him up, but then he remembers that her car's currently smashed into the Berry's garage. And he starts to laugh because he's can't not, but stops immediately when he sees the withering stare that's fixed on Rachel's face.

She's clutching at her throat now, poking at the tendons or ligaments or whatever, and she's running through a vocal scale. Or at least, that's what Finn thinks she's doing. He tries to tune Rachel out as much as possible during class, but he can't ignore the fact that every day during homeroom, she runs through about twelve scales in order to make sure that her voice is in "tip-top condition" for the rest of the day. Whatever the fuck that means.

"My voice," Rachel says, and she sounds crushed. "My voice will never recover."

And Finn realizes in about a nanosecond that she's not concerned about her garage, or his car, or the damage. All she's concerned about is her voice.

He wants to laugh because he's sort of drunk and that's funny, but he won't because he should be trying to look somewhat serious right now.

"I mean, maybe if you hadn't screamed and stuff," Finn says, and he's just trying to be helpful, but Rachel immediately jumps up and starts poking him in the chest. And like, look, Finn gets that maybe he's in the wrong here and everything, but that doesn't just give Rachel the right to abuse him. They barely know each other, and now she's all up in his face like she's his mother or something.

Finn backs away, tries to cover his chest with his arms, but Rachel keeps coming at him, and she looks like some weird sea monster right now. That gunk that's on her face is starting to harden and crack, and her hair's all frizzy and messy, placed in a big bun on the top of her head, and her eyes are wild and crazy looking.

He can hear some police sirens in the distance and he's almost excited for them to get here, just so they can get Rachel off from him.

She's poking and pinching at him and she's saying, her voice barely above a whisper, "If I lose my voice because of smoke inhalation, I swear, Finn Hudson, I will sue you and I will never, ever forgive you." She has this crazy amount of venom in her voice right now, and she's still hitting him and Finn says desperately,

"I'm sorry – seriously, I'm sorry, I'm sure your voice is going to be fine."

Rachel wrinkles her nose and she sniffs at his mouth, and like, she's way too close to him right now and Finn wants to take a step back – more like ten thousand steps back, away from this situation, away from this town. Away from this life.

"You smell like alcohol," Rachel says, and she rolls her eyes. She sounds so disgusted, like she can't even believe that she's even wasting her time trying to talk to him. There's two of her now and Finn's not sure if that's the alcohol or the possible concussion he's working with. But he tries to keep standing up straight and the Rachels are folding their arms across their chests. Finn reaches out, tries to grab onto one of their arms, but they sidestep away from him.

"You are pathetic," they say sadly. "When are you going to grow up, Finn Hudson?"

He doesn't answer. He just sits on the ground, tries to keep his eyes open, and waits for the police to arrive.


He's known Rachel since he was ten. They both moved to Lima right around the same time, and the guidance counselor used to hold these weekly meetings with them, to see how they were both adjusting to the McKinley school district.

Rachel always did fine at those meetings, chirped happily about how well she was doing in her classes, how much she loved the drama club, how excited she was to perform at the spring pageant, whatever. And she'd always smile proudly when she told the guidance counselor about how many friends she was making, and how proud her dads were of her acclimating to this new school so well.

Finn hated those meetings. They made him feel uncomfortable, like he was under a microscope; like he was failing or something, because he wasn't as happy as Rachel. But how could he be happy, you know? His mom was always crying at home, about his dad leaving, about their new, smaller house, about how everything was going wrong. She tried to stay strong for Finn and stuff, but you can only hide so much pain behind closed doors, you know? Eventually, it's going to start seeping out.

And Finn didn't like telling the guidance counselor about his feelings, because not only was it the guidance counselor there, but it was Rachel, too. And she always looked so happy and – and carefree. And Finn hated that, he hated that she was new, too, and yet she was already doing so much better than him.

He was ten and he was jealous. He wanted to be liked like Rachel was liked. He wanted everything to be going right, but it always felt like everything was going wrong.

So he would sit at those meetings and act like everything was going fine, and then he'd get into class and act like he couldn't care less about anything. He hung out with Puck and Santana and he focused on getting through the day, and that was about it. The idea of actually becoming like, a part of McKinley, or actually getting to know his classmates and teachers… no, thanks.

Around fourteen, he started stealing small stuff from the convenience store. Mainly because he could, and he thought he wouldn't get caught. And then the small stuff turned to bigger stuff, just like the one beer started to turn into five, like the skipping one class started to turn into skipping them all.

The police know him pretty well by now. But they still manage to act surprised every time they drag him into the police station. Finn still has the decency or like, decorum, to act like he's shocked, too.

"A car, Finn? Really?"

The police officer's name is Will, and he seems nice and all, like a real family guy. He always acts like Finn getting into trouble is some sort of mark against his skills as a cop, and he never really yells at Finn. He just acts disappointed.

Disappointment's even worse than anger sometimes, Finn's found.

"I didn't mean to," Finn mumbles, and he looks down at his lap because he's too embarrassed not to. He just feels fucking stupid and he knows that he's really screwed up this time – like really, honestly, truly screwed up and he's sort of starting to get nervous that maybe this is the time that the police actually do something about it.

Will sighs and he tells Finn to look at him. Finn does and he bites at his bottom lip and he doesn't mean to sound like a pussy or something, but he has to start thinking about the latest Will Ferrell movie just so that he doesn't start to cry.

It doesn't help much. And he takes a deep, shuddering breath, wipes his hands over his eyes.

"Look, man," Will says. He doesn't say anything for a moment, and he says, finally, "You've put me in a really, really difficult spot, Finn."

Finn shakes his head, looks back down at his lap. He can't look at Will right now, just like he's not going to able to look at his mother once he's finally allowed out of the police station. He really is a Lima Loser. He knows he is. He's reaching the point where he wishes that – that people would just stop trying to help him.

He doesn't want their help. He doesn't want their pity.

"I know you've been going through some tough times lately," Will says, "but that – I can't keep handing out free passes, Finn, okay? The last time, with the convenience store… I probably let you off too easy then. Maybe you thought you could test your limits or something. I don't know."

Will leans back in his chair, looks up at the ceiling, completely exasperated. Finn sighs, shifts in his chair. He feels uncomfortable, out of place. He doesn't know what Will wants him to say and he's not sure if there's a right answer that he can give.

Finn says, "I screwed up."

That's probably the understatement of the century and that fact isn't lost on Will, who actually cracks a small smile at Finn before sitting back up in his chair and starting to look all official and policeman-like again.

He folds his hands together, leans his elbows against the table. He tells Finn, "You know there has to be serious consequences for this. You know that, right?"

Will says this imploringly. He's not looking for a fight tonight and Finn doesn't want to give him one. He nods and says,

"Yeah. I know."

"I mean, you stole your mom's car. You drove it into a garage. And I'm almost positive you were drinking tonight," Will says. He closes his eyes tightly and he says, "Finn, even if you don't realize how badly you're screwing up your life – God, think about your mother."

That's pretty much what Finn's been trying not to do all night, actually.

"I'm really sorry," Finn says, in this quiet voice. He really is sorry, too, not just sort of sorry like he is for all the other shit he does.

"You could've hurt someone," Will says, angry. "What if someone had been in that garage, Finn? What if you'd hit a propane tank or something? You could've died. Do you care that little about your life, huh? That you're just willing to throw it all away like that?"

Finn doesn't have an answer and he's starting to get amped up, all anxious, like he needs to get the hell away from this room, away from this police station. He just wants to go, go, go, get the hell out of Lima and never look back. He doesn't look over at Will, he just looks down at his legs, jostles them back and forth.

Finn asks, "So what's going to happen to me?"

Will doesn't say anything for a minute, just stares at Finn with this immense look of pity. It makes Finn pissed off because look, he knows he's made some shitty decisions and everything, but he doesn't need people's pity, okay? He doesn't need peoples' sympathy. Not anymore.

After a moment, Will says, "We talked to the Berry's, and you have three choices: juvie, military school, or community service. The Berry's have been nice and kind enough to not press charges against you. Thank God they understand the hell that you've put your mother through – that's all I can say."

His voice is tight and Finn thinks that Will's reached the end of his rope with him. That's fine. Everyone abandons Finn eventually. It was just a matter of time before Will turned away from him, too.

Finn thinks over the options for a few seconds. Obviously, military school is out. That'd just remind him of his dad, and seeing as how that's the person that Finn's always trying to escape – yeah. That wouldn't make sense, then, to try to follow in his footsteps or something. And Finn's been to juvie before, and it's not horrible, but it definitely fucked up his mom and even though Finn's not the best son... he doesn't want to put her through that again.

So he agrees to the community service, and Will lets him pick the place. Finn says he'll do it at the local hospital. It's where his mom works and Finn knows it'll mean a lot to his mom; them working together for a summer or whatever.

Will looks at him all proudly when Finn tells him his decision, and it's almost enough to make Finn want to say no, no, he's changed his mind, he wants to go back to juvie.

Finn doesn't like people having expectations of him. It makes it all the worse when he lets them down.


Finn's first day at the hospital is on a Monday morning, bright and early. His mom drives him there; her shift doesn't start until eleven, but she doesn't want him to take the bus. She says it's because she's so excited that she wants to see him off herself, but Finn knows the real reason. She thinks that if he takes the bus, he won't end up at the hospital at all.

Not the craziest thought for her to have. Puck texted Finn last night, asked him if he wanted to go to Columbus for the week to hang out with some of his older cousins. And while Finn tries to tell himself that he wouldn't have taken Puck up on the offer… he knows himself. He knows that he would've. And the shittiest part is that he probably would have gone without thinking twice.

(He kind of hates himself, you know. But not enough to actually change his ways.)

His mom pulls up to the entrance of the hospital, smiles nervously at Finn as she puts the car into park. She grabs a brown paper bag out from the back seat, looks at it for a second before hesitantly offering it to Finn.

"I – I know you might want to buy your lunch, but I just. I just thought maybe you'd like it if I packed something for you, too. In case you get hungry." She looks flustered and she shakes her head, says, "But I understand if you don't want people to see you carrying a lunch your mom made."

She's blushing and places the bag on her lap, the material crinkling a little. Finn leans over, and he gives her a kiss on the cheek, takes the bag from her.

She looks surprised but tries to hide it, smiles and says, "There're two sandwiches in there. And I put in some money for a soda from the vending machine."

This is kind of breaking Finn's heart and he can't deal with this right now, these emotions that are all of a sudden flying through him. So he just offers his mom a smile, tells her that he'll stop by the nurse's station after his shift's over.

"Okay, honey. Be – be good, okay?" she says, and she places her hands on the steering wheel, her grip tightening and her knuckles turning white.

"I will," Finn says. His mom doesn't look like she trusts him, not exactly, and Finn can't say that he blames her. He gives her another kiss on the cheek, though, because he does love her even if he doesn't always act like he does.

He heads out of the car and turns around, gives her a wave just as he's about to walk into the hospital. She gives him an eager wave back, her smile so wide that it looks like her face is about to crack in half.

Finn was told by the hospital volunteer coordinator that his shifts are going to take place mainly in the gift shop. Finn doesn't think this is really a good idea, because he kind of has a penchant for stealing shit when people aren't looking, but he didn't want to argue with his new boss and he also didn't want to start off on a bad note.

And like, telling someone that you're probably going to steal stuff? That sounds like starting off on a seriously, seriously beyond bad note.

The gift shop's on the first floor, right near the cafeteria. Finn figures this is a good thing – he won't have to walk far for his breaks, and if he gets super bored in the gift shop, he can just leave and go to the cafeteria for a few minutes. So really, it doesn't seem like this will be too bad of a gig. Definitely better than military school and juvie, that's for sure.

And besides, how hard can the work be in a gift shop, right? Stock a few shelves, sell a few bears, call it a day. Finn's not even sure how many people actually go to a hospital gift shop anymore. He figures it can't be all that many.

The gift shop's really small; a couple aisles filled with flowers and bears and cards, really, and a small front counter and register. The volunteer coordinator said that their regular candy-striper would be in on Monday, and would teach Finn the ropes of the place.

Finn gets up to the front counter, looks at the cashier, and almost drops his lunch bag on the floor.

His life's been going so terribly lately that it shouldn't even surprise him that the cashier's Rachel Berry. It really shouldn't. Nothing about his life should shock him anymore. But this does, almost to the point where he feels like throwing his lunch on the ground and his arms in the air, as he runs away screaming from the room.

Rachel's staring at him, and if looks could kill, Finn would be six feet under by now.

He should say hi, right? That'd be the polite thing to do in this situation. But he just stares at her and holds onto his lunch bag tighter.

She swallows so loudly that he can actually hear the gulp and he thinks that maybe she's trying to plan out a way to kill him without getting caught by the cops.

Eventually, she says, her voice maintaining an even edge, "What are you doing here, Finn?"

Finn thought that the candy-striper name was just a formality at this point, but Rachel apparently takes the name super seriously. She's wearing a red sundress and a white tank top underneath, and her hair's pulled into a high ponytail, a bright red ribbon holding it up.

Finn thinks that maybe he should make a joke or something, but the only ones he can think of are really dirty, about her looking good enough to eat. He figures she wouldn't appreciate that, so he just answers her question, says,

"I'm doing community service. You know. Because I ran into your garage."

He doesn't think she needs to be reminded – she was there and everything – but still, he thought he'd be helpful just in case she didn't realize which mistake he's currently atoning for.

Finn's a nice guy like that.

"Oh, yes, my garage," Rachel says, and she sounds all sarcastic and snippy, and if she wasn't so hot, Finn would totally find her annoying. "My garage; the one that's a pile of rubble, all because an idiotic sixteen year old decided to drive his mother's car through it. That garage."

That last comment, about her being so hot that it makes up for her being so annoying?

Scratch that.

Finn rolls his eyes, says, "It needed a paint job, anyway." Not super tactful or anything, but it's eight o'clock in the morning, and Rachel needs to back off. It's not like Finn meant to drive through the garage, and seriously, is she going to just hold this over his head forever?

By the way she's glaring at him, Finn thinks the answer to that question is yes.

"So you decided to do community service as your punishment?" Rachel asks, and she's like, sneering at him, her nose all wrinkled and her arms folded across her chest. "Funny how driving drunk and crashing into someone's garage equals a couple hours of community service. I wonder what would have happened if you'd blown up my house. Maybe you would've had to add on a few shifts at the nursing home."

Finn's starting to get angry now and he holds onto his lunch bag tighter and he wants to honestly just t to say fuck this and text Puck and say that he'll meet him in Columbus.

But then he thinks about his mom and he thinks about that stupid smile she gave him this morning and he – he can't.

So he takes a deep breath and he lets it out slowly and he says, "Look, I get that you're pissed because I ran into your house and stuff."

Rachel's hand flutters over her throat and she asks, "Do you understand how detrimental smoke is to a singer's voice, Finn? My voice is my life. You could've ruined that."

She shakes her head and she says, "It's perfectly obvious that you don't give a damn about how your life turns out. But you shouldn't be trying to bring others down with you."

Finn thinks it's kind of egotistical for her to think that he's trying to bring her down with him. And for her to think that he was thinking about her, at all, when he crashed into her house. But whatever, he's not going to argue with her. The sooner he gets started here, the sooner he can start to scale back on the number of hours he has to complete.

Will said that he has to complete something like 250 hours this summer. That's not a lot, but it's enough, and Finn wants to try to get them done just so he doesn't have this hanging over his head anymore.

So he says, in his most calm and civil tone possible, "I'm sorry. I'm glad your voice isn't fucked up."

"Not yet, at least," she mutters, placing her hands protectively over her chest. "There very well could be long lasting effects, thanks to you."

Her words are like nails on a chalkboard and all the hair on his body stands on edge.

Finn can't stop himself, saying, "Yeah, well, here's to hoping that your throat doesn't blow up or morph into ashes overnight." Rachel's jaw drops in shock and he says, snapping his fingers as if he's just forgotten something important, "Actually, maybe we should hope that it does, so we don't have to listen to you sing during homeroom next year."

He drops his lunch bag unceremoniously on the counter and says, "I saw a box of crap over by the flowers. I'm going to stock that or whatever. Call me if you need me."

She doesn't. They don't talk for the rest of the day and when Finn gets off at five, he has Santana pick him up. They drive out to the lake and get drunk and spend the night in her car, talking about stupid shit that doesn't even matter.

He forgot to visit his mom at the nurse's station. He's pretty sure she didn't actually expect him to show up, anyway.


Finn works next on Wednesday. His mom drops him off again, with a packed lunch and everything. When she pulls up to the entrance of the hospital, she says,

"Just let me know what you're doing after your shift ends, okay?"

She doesn't ask if he's going to stop by the nurse's station. Finn's not surprised and he's not disappointed. It just kind of is what it is. But he smiles at her and he gives her a kiss on the cheek and he says that he will. She's not asking too much of him – she just wants to make sure that he's staying safe, and he can do that for her.

"And Finn, try to be nice to Rachel Berry, alright?" his mom calls out the window, just as Finn's about to walk away. "Her parents… things could've been a lot worse for you, Finn, if they hadn't been so understanding."

She says this imploringly, nodding her head like she wants Finn to see the light. So he nods, and says,

"Yeah, I'll be nicer. Sorry. Monday was just stressful."

His mom nods and she says that she loves him, and she knows that today will be a better day. Finn doesn't say anything to that, just waves a hand in goodbye before turning back to walk towards the hospital. He's kind of fucking annoyed now, because seriously?

His mom doesn't know the real Rachel. She doesn't know how completely annoying that girl can be, and if she did know, she'd totally be on Finn's side. But because Rachel's the golden girl of McKinley, of course his mom's going to think that Finn's the one who's causing all the problems.

Finn wonders who told her about the fight at the gift shop. Probably Rachel. It wouldn't surprise him if she was all buddy-buddy with the nurses. God.

He keeps flip-flopping between whether juvie or military school would've been better than this community service, and right now, he's back leaning towards juvie. But he tries to stay positive and shit, because he's only working a four hour shift today, and if luck's on his side, he'll be able to avoid Rachel for most of it.

Luck's never on his side though, and this is something that Finn should just know by now.

Rachel's all up in his face the minute that he enters the gift shop. She's wearing a red shirt today, and it looks peasant-y or whatever, with these puffy sleeves and stuff. It'd be pretty but like, Finn thinks that Rachel's the devil right now, so. Not so much.

"Are you going to talk to me today?" Rachel demands, as Finn walks up to the front counter to drop his lunch bag off. He's trying to ignore her, but she's just trailing him no matter where in the store he walks. He finally stops in the middle of the flower aisle, turns to her and sighs.

"What do you want?" he asks, and he can't help it if he groans a little at the end.

"I want to know," Rachel says, repeating herself, "if you're going to talk to me today. Monday was a horrible experience for me, and I'd rather if it wasn't repeated."

"You think it wasn't shitty for me, too?" Finn asks, incredulous. "You think it was my idea of a fun day? News flash – nope, it wasn't, it sucked."

That's putting it mildly.

Rachel folds her arms across her chest and she says, "I think we should – we should start over. On a new foot, otherwise this whole summer is going to be terrible. And I really, really don't want that."

Finn's waiting for the catch; the other shoe to drop. But Rachel's just staring at him and she's even smiling a little, her hands clasped in front of her like this is all she wants, more than anything else in the entire world.

Finn's not buying it.

"What's your angle?" he asks, leaning against one of the shelves. Rachel looks at him, astounded and highly offended, pressing a hand against her chest.

"My angle?"

"Yeah. Monday you acted like I was the worst person you've ever met in your entire life, and now you're like, wanting to be best friends." Finn pauses and then says, "What changed?"

He's not trying to sound paranoid, but he naturally just sort of is. He thinks it comes with the territory. His mom says it's always been part of his personality, but if Finn's getting all deep and sentimental or whatever, he thinks that this part of his personality started to show a little more because of the way his dad up and left.

Rachel stares at him with her mouth all open and Finn tells her to close it before flies get inside. He thinks he's being rude but apparently Rachel thinks he was just joking, because she gives him this look that's not exactly a smile, but that comes pretty damn close.

"I work thirty hours here during the week," Rachel says, motioning around the store, "and I know that you'll be working around that amount, too. Won't it be easier if we just – if we just try to get along? I know you hate me and that you're too cool for school, but…" she trails off, tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

Rachel shrugs. "I can forgive you for potentially killing my future if you can forgive me for sometimes sounding a bit overdramatic."

She holds out her hand, apparently wanting to shake on this or something. And Finn doesn't want to be a douche, and he did tell his mom that he'd try to be nicer to Rachel; and this is actually a relatively easy promise to keep, because he figures that even if they decide to get along, they still won't have to talk to each other all that often.

The gift shop's small, but it's not that small.

So he shakes her hand, and for such a tiny girl, she has actually has a surprisingly firm grip.

He could say something dirty here, like super dirty, but he doesn't know Rachel well enough to say shit like that.


He spends the morning reorganizing the sympathy card section. He reads some of them and they all seem too sappy and yet too impersonal, all at the same time. He gets bored halfway through reorganizing, and so he starts acting out some of the cards, melodramatically pretending to cry, leaning against the card shelves with his head buried in his arms, letting out big, heaving sobs.

"Your acting could use some work," Rachel says finally, after watching him act out the fifth card. She's up at the cash register, working on some sort of spreadsheet. She's not looking at him when she says this, but she has a smile on her face.

Finn grins to himself, too, and turns his head so that she can't see.


His mom stops by the gift shop one Friday afternoon, right as Finn and Rachel are about to close it up. She's still wearing her scrubs, and she smiles at him nervously as she steps into the shop, as if she's surprised that the place is still standing.

Finn looks over at her from where he's standing by the flowers. A bunch of them are almost dead, but instead of throwing them out, him and Rachel have to go around the hospital and drop them off to the patients who don't get a lot of visitors. It sort of makes him feel like a douche but at the same time, those patients always seem super appreciative, so he doesn't always mind it so much.

His mom gives him a little wave, walks up beside him. She says, "How are you doing today, honey?" She looks tired, exhausted, actually.

"Fine," Finn says. "Just finishing up here." He glances over at Rachel, who's starting to pile the flower bouquets into a big tote bag. "We have to drop these flowers off before we can head out for the night."

Let the record state, that's a sentence that Finn never thought he would ever say in his entire life.

His mom smiles at him, says that's such a nice thing of them to do. Finn wants to correct her and tell her that it's not his idea, that it's just hospital policy. But his mom's complimenting him and he can't remember the last time that happened, really, so he takes it for what it is.

"Did you have enough to eat today?" his mom asks, touching him briefly on the arm. "I wasn't sure whether you were going to pick up something to eat at the cafeteria during your break."

His mom looks quickly, furtively over at Rachel. Thank fucking God the girl didn't see, because she'd probably never let Finn hear the end of it.

(His mom is all amped up on the idea of Finn and Rachel – this is so weird that Finn doesn't even want to think about it – dating. She thinks that Rachel's awesome and ever since she found out that Rachel and Finn buried the hatchet or whatever, she's constantly on Finn about like, pursuing the friendship further.

Whatever that means.)

Finn says quietly, almost immediately, "No, I definitely had enough." And for good measure, "I ate by myself. Outside."

That's a lie. He ate with Rachel but his mom doesn't need to know that.

"It was raining today," his mom says, frowning, and Finn says,

"Yeah. I know. Got a little wet."

He looks at her and she just stares at him for a few seconds, clearly speechless before finally saying, "Well, honey, as long as you had a good time." She sounds unsure and Finn says,

"I did. Didn't do anything illegal, either, so… upside." He smiles at her and she smiles back before saying,

"That's not something you should joke about, Finn."

But she says it in this chill sort of voice, and Finn's reminded for the five thousandth time that his mom loves him no matter how much stupid shit he does. That's kind of ridiculously reassuring, you know?

Finn glances back over at the flowers and he says, "I can finish this in like twenty minutes. If you want to leave though, I can always get Puck to come and give me a ride home."

His mom shakes her head, says, "No, no, I'll wait. I'll be right outside, okay? You won't be able to miss me."

The implied statement there being, of course, that she won't be able to miss him just in case he tries to sneak out of the hospital. She's getting craftier. Finn has to give her some credit, that's for sure.

He says, "Okay. That's fine." She smiles, gives him a wave, and then heads outside. Finn glances over at Rachel, who's holding a tote bag that now's absolutely filled to the brim with flowers. She gives him a little smile and says that she's ready to go. And so her and Finn go out into the hallway and head towards the cardiac wing.

"Your mom's such a great lady," Rachel says conversationally as her and Finn wait for the elevator. Finn just shrugs, looks down at his shoes. He doesn't think Rachel's Medusa or anything, but at the same time – the less conversations, the better. Not as much time to start a fight, he figures.

"Yeah, she's cool," Finn says.

Rachel keeps pressing, though, asks, "Has she always been so nice?"

Finn's not sure how to respond to that, actually. He says, "She hasn't changed personalities recently or anything."

Finn can see Rachel in his peripheral vision, nodding, and he looks over at her. She looks like she's trying to work out some super complicated math problem in her head and he has to let out a laugh. He says, "Do you have a question or something?"

She looks at him gratefully, smiles. "I – I just. You don't seem as terrible as the people at school try to say you are."

Finn's not sure whether to be offended or happy by that statement, but he thinks he's going to lean more towards offended.

And he's pretty sure it's written all over his face, because Rachel immediately says, "I didn't mean that in an offensive way! It's just that you're not scary like they all make you out to be."

"That's supposed to make me feel better?" Finn asks, and he's not positive, but he thinks that the elevators at this hospital might just be the slowest fucking ones on the planet.

Rachel looks flustered and she shakes her head, says, "No – I just meant that at school, you act like you're James Dean, or some sort of rebellious teenager without a care in the world. And when you're at this hospital, when I see how you act with your mom – I know there's more to you than that. No matter how hard you try to pretend that there's not."

Finn thinks she's making some big assumptions, considering the fact that the most interaction they have all day is generally spent discussing whether they think they're running low on sympathy cards or not.

He doesn't look at her, just stares at the floor, at his feet, and runs his hands over his hair. He lets out a big sigh and the elevator finally arrives, and he steps inside, goes towards the one corner that's farthest away from Rachel.

He's not sure what it is about her, exactly, but she makes him nervous. She's not as fucking annoying as she used to be, but she's still a know-it-all, and she's still weird, and she still makes him just – just really fucking nervous. He can't describe it any better than that.

Rachel stands at the other side of the elevator and she says, "I'm sorry I said anything. I thought over the past month we'd become friendly towards one another, but I can see I was mistaken. I'll just go back to being the annoying, popular girl, and you can go back to being the disgusting hoodlum. That's fine."

She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, her bangs fluttering against her forehead. Finn asks,

"How could you possibly have thought we were friends? You know nothing about me."

Rachel says, "That's a lie," and she says it in this preposterous sort of tone, as if Finn's being absolutely ridiculous. "I know you like to skip school so you can do stupid, idiotic things with Puck. I know you love your mother, even though you like to pretend you don't. I know you hated it when your dad left you, because you felt like that meant you were all alone."

She says that last part quietly, like it's a secret that she doesn't want to share. And Finn guesses that he wasn't the only one being observant in those guidance counselor meetings back when they were ten years old.

He says, "I don't mean to be rude or anything, but you really don't know what you're talking about."

And she doesn't. A few memories of some old guidance counselor meetings from middle school doesn't suddenly mean that Rachel Berry is the expert on all things Finn Hudson. It just means that she has a good memory for random stuff.

Rachel nods, adjusts the tote bag in her arms as the elevator comes to a halt on the cardiac unit floor. She exits and walks a couple steps ahead of Finn, and it's a wonder that she's not tripping all over herself, with how high her nose is in the air.

Finn rolls his eyes and jogs to catch up with her, grabs onto her arm lightly. She whirls around so that she's staring at him, glaring at him.

"Please let go of me," she says through gritted teeth, wrenching her arm away. "I just want to deliver these flowers and then leave."

Finn doesn't let go of her arm, though, pulls her closer to him and towards the side of the hallway, so that they're not blocking traffic.

"Don't do this," Finn says, and he's just being honest and he's trying to be helpful, and he doesn't get why she doesn't see that. "Don't do this thing where you try to get to know me, and we get all friendly and shit. It's not worth it."

"Why?" Rachel demands. "Why are you so afraid of someone being friends with you; someone who doesn't have marks on their permanent record, someone who might just be a good influence on you?"

Finn feels like he's been slapped in the face and he says, "I'm not afraid. It's just not worth it." He shakes his head bitterly, motions towards the flowers that Rachel's carrying. "No amount of community service is going to change the fact that I'm – I'm a fucking Lima Loser, okay?"

He swallows tightly and Rachel's looking at him with such pity in her eyes that it makes him want to throw up. He didn't say all that stuff to get her pity. He was just trying to be honest, trying to tell her the truth.

There's no point in her being friends with him. There's no point in the two of them discussing anything besides shit that has to do with the gift shop. Because Finn's tried before, sort of, but he can't change and he doesn't like the pressure that comes along with trying. He doesn't like the stress of being friends with people who expect him to.

Rachel lets out this laugh that doesn't sound all that humorous and she says, "You act as if people want you to be a Lima Loser; as if people want you to screw up."

Finn doesn't say anything to that. Mainly because he thinks that it's true.

Rachel shakes her head and she sighs, then stands up on her tip toes and kisses him.

Seriously – she kisses him.

It's just an innocent kiss, all lips and nothing else. When she pulls away she says, "Let's go drop these flowers off," as if nothing just happened, as if her kissing him was the most natural thing in the entire world.

Finn stares at her for a second, then turns around and walks the opposite way down the hallway. He's not really in the mood to be dealing with flowers right now.


He wants to get drunk that night. Really fucking drunk, like black out drunk. So he texts Puck and Santana, asks if they want to go out to the lake or something. Puck texts him back and says that Santana's parents are gone for the weekend, and that they're just going to hang out there for the night. So Finn tells him that he'll be over in a few minutes.

"Hey, I'm gonna go over to Santana's," Finn says, sticking his head inside him mom's room. She's on her bed, reading, a mug of tea balanced in her lap.

She glances up at him. "What are you guys doing tonight?"

It's always awkward whenever she asks this question because Finn always lies in response, and he's almost one hundred percent sure that his mom knows that he's lying. It's like they just go through the motions or whatever, in order to fulfill some sort of script.

He tells her, "We're just going to hang out and watch movies or something."

She nods and she looks sad but Finn kind of can't deal with that right now, so he says, "Don't wait up," and waves to her before heading out of the house. She shouts out for him to be careful and to call her when he gets there, which Finn doesn't even bother responding to.

(If he really thought about it, it might make him sad that his mom doesn't even really bother to try to stop him from hanging out with Puck and Santana any more. She just accepts that it's going to happen.)

Santana's house isn't that far of a walk from his, only about ten minutes or so, and he's over there before he knows it. There's a key hidden underneath the welcome mat outside her front door, and Finn slips inside the house and heads down to the basement, where he knows Puck and Santana will be.

The two of them are downstairs, playing some game on the television. There are a couple of beer bottles open, a bottle of Jack sitting on the coffee table. Santana grins widely when she sees him, and she says,

"I never thought I'd be so happy to see you. I feel like I haven't seen you in years."

Finn shrugs, flops down on the couch next to Puck. "I'm seriously at the hospital all the time. I want to get my community service done by the middle of August and it's just taking forever."

Puck looks at him kind of sympathetically, hands him a bottle of beer. "Drink up, dude."

Finn glances at the bottle of beer then shakes his head, puts it down on the coffee table. "Not really strong enough," he says, and Santana smiles at him. She's sitting on the floor closest to the bottle of Jack, and she picks it up, takes a drink from it.

She reaches over, hands the bottle to Finn. He takes a couple quick sips and he leans back against the couch, sighs and closes his eyes.

Even whiskey doesn't feel strong enough right now and that's when he knows that he's in trouble. He wonders if Santana has some weed lying around, and he could just ask but he decides against it. His mom's like, ridiculously good at smelling pot on his clothes and even though she never really bitches anymore about Finn drinking, Finn doing drugs is one thing that she still absolutely flips out over, every single time.

They play a couple of games on the Playstation and they drink some more, too much, and then the room's spinning and Finn's lying on his stomach on the ground and he can't stop laughing about some impression that Santana's doing of one of their high school teachers.

She's walking around on her tip toes and she's biting at her bottom lip, talking in this breathy sort of tone, and Finn seriously thinks that he might pee his pants if she keeps this up for five more seconds.

Puck's giggling too, his eyes scrunched up and his face bright red, clutching onto his beer tightly so that it doesn't spill.

Everything's funnier when you're drunk, right?

Santana stops and she bends down to pick up the bottle of whiskey, takes a couple swigs. Her cheeks are getting flushed, her eyes are getting glassy, and she says, "So let's talk about Rachel Berry."

Finn almost wants to vomit just upon hearing her name and he says, "Let's not."

"No, let's," Santana says, and she sits down on Finn's back. Finn groans because her butt's digging like, right into his lower back, and he tries to wiggle so that Santana falls off. But she's ridiculously strong and he's ridiculously drunk, so he just flops around for a few seconds like a dying fish before giving up.

"How is it working with McKinley's golden child?" Santana asks. "Have you decided to run for Homecoming King yet?"

She presses her hands against his back, her nails digging against his skin, pinching and poking him slightly. Finn giggles, because he'll never not be ticklish on his back and he says,

"No," Finn says, laughing a little. "Definitely not. She talked about like, National Honors Society for five hours the other day. I wanted to blow my ear drums out."

He's exaggerating. She talked about it for five minutes and asked if Finn could help with volunteering at this one youth arts program; Finn's pretty decent at drawing, and Rachel wanted him to help design a flyer for a craft thing she's organizing.

He said no. (Is it stupid of him that part of him wanted to say yes?)

"God, she's so obnoxious," Puck says. He's lying on the couch and yawns every couple of seconds, his eyelids fluttering closed even as he tries to stay awake. "It's like she wants every single person at that school to be as perfect as she thinks she is."

Finn doesn't really think she's like that. Rachel just doesn't like seeing people fail.

Santana keeps poking at his back, and Finn tries to wave her away, but to no avail.

"How many more hours do you have there?" Santana asks, and Finn shrugs, says that he thinks he has about a hundred or so. She says, "You should commemorate the occasion by fucking with Berry."

(At first, Finn thought she said 'fucking Berry' and honestly, Finn went from cursing Rachel Berry in his head to imagining her naked in about a second.

He's not sure if that's the whiskey doing the thinking or what, but it's like he can't get the picture out of his mind. And it's because it's burned in there, not for bad reasons, though; it's because she's hot.)

"What do you mean?" Finn asks, and he rolls over so that Santana's straddling his hips. She thinks for a second, takes another sip of Jack, and says,

"Like… like messing up the placement of all the merchandise in the gift shop. Or, pretend that all the money from the cash register was stolen. Or actually stealing all the money in the cash register," Santana says, and she pauses after saying the last sentence, cocking her head slightly. "That idea's not so bad."

Finn rolls his eyes, pushes her off from him. "No."

Santana laughs, says, "There's probably like, fifty dollars in there. It's not even that big of a deal, Finn."

And he knows what she means. Compared to the other stuff he's done, it's really not that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things. But still. There's something that like, seriously grosses him out about the idea of stealing from a place where his mom works.

It grosses him out, kind of, that Santana's suggesting something like that, too.

But he doesn't say anything, just tries to ignore her, drink more of the Jack and focus on the stupid movie that's now playing on television.

Puck and Santana fall asleep after a couple of hours. Puck's snoring on the couch and Santana's sprawled out on the floor, and Finn's just sitting there, staring at his friends and staring at the basement, at the empty beer bottles and the tipped-over bottle of Jack, and he kind of really fucking hates himself.

He knows it's not just the alcohol that's making him think that.

He stands up, stumbles up the stairs as quietly as he possibly can and makes it to the kitchen before throwing up all over the sink. He tries to clean it up but he's never been good at shit like that, and he gives up after a while, pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and stares at it for a minute.

The phone's ringing before he can even fully process what he's doing, and Rachel tiredly answers the phone a minute later.

"Hello?" she asks quietly, her voice thick with sleep. "Finn?"

He swallows tightly, his throat feeling like it's on fire, and he says, "Yeah. It's me."

Finn hears some rustling on Rachel's end of the line and he sits down on the kitchen floor, leans back against the cupboards that line the Lopez's kitchen walls.

"What's wrong?" Rachel asks, and she sounds sort of concerned. "Is everything okay?"

Finn's not sure why, exactly, he's called her. But he's upset about what she said this afternoon, how she implied that she just knows every single thing about him. And so a part of his drunk brain thinks – well, he guess he wants to show her. Prove to her that she really does know nothing about him, that he's just as much of a fuck-up as the kids at school claim him to be.

Show her that her expectations were wrong.

"I'm drunk," Finn says, and his mouth is so dry right now he can barely get the words out. "Did you know that?"

Rachel says, "I had a feeling you were, yes." And she sounds confused but not angry and that shocks Finn, a little.

"Are you mad I woke you up?" Finn asks and he closes his eyes, tilts his head back, tries to get the room to stop spinning.

She tells him that she's not mad and that she just hopes that he's okay. She's too understanding and Finn tells her that, tells her that she should be so angry at him for ruining her garage that she should never want to talk to him again.

"Well, I was angry," Rachel says, and she laughs a little, like how all sober people do when they're dealing with someone who's drunk off his ass. "But it's hard to stay mad at someone who's so clearly lost."

Finn takes offense to that, because he's not lost, he's, "At Santana's house in her kitchen. I know exactly where I am."

"I meant emotionally, Finn," Rachel says, and Finn shakes his head even though he knows she can't see him.

He doesn't really want to talk about emotions tonight – that wasn't the point of this phone call. The point of this phone call was so that Rachel would see once and for all that this supposed guy that she thinks is resting underneath Finn's shitty exterior… he's not there.

Or maybe part of him wants her to prove that – that side of him is there. That it does exist, somewhere.

He's not making any sense to himself, and he's rambling to Rachel now, and she interrupts him, saying,

"Can I – can I come pick you up? Please?"

She says please after a second's pause and Finn doesn't say anything for a moment, just lies down against the tiles on the floor. They feel cool against his cheek and he says,

"Do you even know where San lives?"

And Rachel says yes, of course, she went to Santana's house when she was younger all the time. Rachel says that she'll be there soon, and to make sure that the front door is unlocked.


Rachel drives a little blue Prius, and Finn's not sure if he'll even be able to fit in the front seat. He looks at it apprehensively, then down at his legs, then over at Rachel, who's standing by the driver's side door. She's wearing bright pink pajama shorts and a white cami and Finn's trying not to stare, so he quickly looks back at the passenger's seat.

"I'm too big," Finn tells her, and Rachel giggles, rolls her eyes.

"Finn, this car isn't just for petite people, okay? Get inside."

She gets inside and he follows suit, even though he's still pretty sure that he's going to crack a couple bones trying to arrange his limbs inside the car. But it all works out for the best, and a few minutes later, after Rachel helps buckle him in, she drives away from the Lopez residence.

"Don't drive too fast, 'k?" Finn asks, rolling the window down. He likes to be careful and stuff, and Rachel's car is super clean. It'd be nice if he didn't throw up inside it.

Rachel slows her speed considerably, and she says, "Okay. Just tell me if you're feeling sick, okay?"

Finn nods, slouches in the seat so that he can rest his head against the door frame, the wind ruffling his hair a little. It feels cool against his cheeks and he can already feel himself slowly starting to sober up.

"Where are we going?" Finn asks, and Rachel shrugs, not taking her eyes off from the road in front of her.

"I don't know," she says. "I didn't think that far ahead, actually. I was mostly concerned with getting you out of that house."

Finn laughs darkly, closes his eyes. "It's not like it's a front for a drug ring or something, Rach."

He calls her that sometimes, usually when she's pestering him about not putting out enough tissue boxes or balloons at the gift shop. It makes her flustered, he's seen, and he kind of enjoys seeing the blush that pops up on her cheeks whenever he refers to her as 'Rach'.

"I know," she says quickly, clearly trying not to upset him. "But – you're drunk, and I don't know what Puck and Santana are doing right now… I just don't want you getting into any trouble."

Finn glances at her and she's biting at her bottom lip, shaking her head. "Not that it's any of my business," she says, and he knows that she's still pissed off about their conversation from earlier today. That's okay. If he was in her position, he'd probably be pissed off, too.

She's super popular and funny and nice and stuff. She probably thinks that she's doing Finn this great service by like, deigning to speak with him, and he's just throwing it back in her face. He's almost positive that no one in their school has ever treated her like how he does, you know.

She probably sees it as some like, personal quest, a mission from God, to get Finn to like her.

Finn asks her if that's the case and she looks at him as if he has two heads before looking back to the road.

"No," she says emphatically, her voice filling the car. "Absolutely not. I told you at the hospital, Finn. I just – I think you're better than this. Getting drunk, crashing cars… I don't know. I'm aware that we're not the best of friends, but I don't think it's out of line for me to show some sort of concern for you."

Rachel drives a couple more miles in complete silence and then says, "Your mom… at work, she's very nice to me. I – I don't have a mom, and." Rachel stops talking abruptly, shakes her head again, says, "It just hurts me to see her so obviously hurt over the idiotic things that you do."

She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, and Finn can feel the tension rising unceremoniously in the car.

"Idiotic things," Rachel continues, "that you don't have to do."

"So you've made it your personal mission to save me?" Finn asks.

Rachel's pulling the car into the park, the one that's right by the lake. The tires crunch against the gravel and Finn can hear branches breaking underneath the weight of the car.

"Not saved," Rachel says, pulling her car into clearing that looks out upon the lake. "Just… I'd prefer if you don't end up dead in a ditch."

Finn laughs and he reclines his seat a little so that he can stretch his legs out. He wipes his hands over his face and he knows that he probably smells like shit right now; whiskey, beer, whatever. But Rachel's staring at him like he's something – something that he doesn't have to be ashamed of.

He asks honestly, because he can and because he's drunk, "Why did you kiss me today?"

Rachel's picking at her nails and she doesn't look at him when she says, "I guess every girl wants the bad boy at one point or another. Right?"

She looks up at him, and she doesn't look like the Rachel Berry that he sees every day in school at that moment. She looks like the ten year old girl who was so excited to be making friends, who was so anxious and worried about wearing the right things to school so that everyone would like her.

He really wants to kiss her. He tells her that, but says, and he laughs because he has to in order to save himself from embarrassment, "I threw up earlier."

Rachel bites at her bottom lip and she leans forward, presses a kiss against Finn's cheek. Her lips are soft against his cheek and he breathes in deeply; he can smell her hair, smell her perfume, and she smells like vanilla and lavender, so sugary and sweet.

"Where did you tell your dads you were going?" Finn asks, and he's touching her now, he's holding her around the waist and he's not sure what he's doing or why he's doing it or how this is going to affect him tomorrow. But he knows that right now, right now he wants to touch her, he wants to feel her, and he's not sure if that's something he should be feeling bad about.

He looks into her eyes. She's staring directly into his eyes and she says, "I told them the truth. I told them I was going to pick up a friend who needs help."

God, he wants to kiss her. He thinks Rachel can tell and she shifts in her seat a little, her shorts pushed up her thighs, and he places his hands on her thighs, squeezes. Her skin's so warm and he drags his fingers back and forth and he says,

"I'm. I'm really messed up."

He thinks that's a pretty obvious statement. But it kind of needs to be said.

Rachel says, "I know."

And he's nervous that she's going to tell her friends about this, that she's going to laugh about how stupid Finn Hudson is, that he got so blasted at Santana's house and then told Rachel all his deepest and darkest secrets. How he's a total failure and how he thinks his mom wants to hate him and how he thinks he'll never get out of Lima.

But the way she's staring at him – it's like she's seeing him, really seeing him. And he doesn't think he has anything to worry about. Not with her.

Rachel drags her hand against the front of his jeans, brushes her fingertips against the zipper. She looks up at him, questioningly, and Finn doesn't say anything, just places his hand on top of hers and holds her hand there for a moment.

"Okay?" Rachel asks, and she tugs at the zipper, her fingers fumbling for only a second.

He's not sure if she's asking permission or if she's talking to herself, but he says please, closes his eyes as Rachel wraps her hand around him.

Her breathing's quiet and even as she focuses. Finn's breath is rough and short and he lets out little gasps as she works him, shuts his eyes even tighter as she grips him even tighter. He thinks he's seeing stars, he really does, and Rachel doesn't talk to him, doesn't say a word, until Finn asks her,


His voice sounds strangled, and he lets out a soft moan as she drags her hand up, slowly, so fucking slowly, around him.

"I want to," Rachel says. "Is that okay? That someone wants to do this for you?"

She doesn't let him respond because then she's working her hand faster and he's coming and he can't even stop himself, can't even make himself last any longer. And he lets out a groan that sounds a hell of a lot like her name.


Work's weird the next day. Rachel's already there, sitting up at the front counter. She's sipping on a huge iced tea, swinging her legs back and forth as she flips through some magazine. When she hears him approaching, she looks at him and smiles. Finn smiles back, and he says,

"Did you eat?"

And she says no, and so he hands her a muffin that he picked up for her at the gas station. It's a vanilla one and when he saw it – he just picked it up. It wasn't a big thing. But she smiles and takes her time eating it, makes it last like, two hours.

But they don't really talk besides that. They discuss usual work things, like whether they should rearrange the flower arrangements or whether or not they're running out of congratulations on the baby cards. Other than that, though, it's pretty much business as usual.

Finn's not sure whether he should be happy about that or disappointed. He's also supremely hung over and his head hurts and he's not sure if he'd want to deal with an emotional talk today, even if that's what Rachel wanted.

He's just minding his own business and sitting on the floor reading a paperback book (business gets slow some times, okay?) when Rachel comes up to him.

"What're you reading?" Rachel asks, sitting beside him. She's wearing this short jean skirt today, and she pulls at it, making sure it covers her thighs. Finn wants to tell her not to bother, but he doesn't want to make her uncomfortable or anything, so he just answers her question.

"The Poisonwood Bible," Finn says, and he shrugs. "It's the summer reading for McGrady's English class. My mom bought it for me the other night, so I figured I might as well start it."

Rachel smiles at him and she looks proud of him and it sort of freaks Finn out, but sort of doesn't. He's trying to come to terms with this idea that just because people want good things for him, that doesn't mean that people expect things from him.

It's an idea that he's not familiar with, really.

Rachel says, "I still have my notes from that book. I read it last year in Honors. I can give them to you, if you want."

She's twirling a strand of her hair around her finger, stretching her legs out in front of her. She's wearing these white tennis shoes and she has a little gold star drawn on her ankle. Finn wants to trace it with his tongue, kiss it, and he says,

"Yeah, that'd be great," as he's still staring at the star.

Rachel asks if he wants to get lunch in the cafeteria with her today and he says no. She looks surprised, kind of hurt, and Finn says that he's sorry but that he wants to go to the nurse's station to talk to his mother.

"I didn't call her last night," Finn says uncomfortably. "I'm trying this new thing – not being an asshole to her."

Rachel nods, looks mock impressed, in a teasing sort of way. "How's that going?"

Finn looks at his watch and says, "I just started about five minutes ago. I'll keep you updated."

Rachel smiles at him and she says, "I'm sure you'll do more than fine."

That makes him nervous a little, makes his heart flutter. Because he's tried this before, this whole 'being a good son' thing. It's never worked out and he's not entirely sure why he expects it to work out now. But Rachel's smiling at him and she seems supportive and stuff, which is still a weird and totally foreign feeling to him.

But he squishes that feeling down. Tries to focus on the positive.

When he gets up to the nurse's station, his mom is sitting at the main desk, eating a cup of yogurt. She looks up at him in surprise, says,

"Finn!" as if he's a mirage or something. He walks around the desk to give her a hug and his mom holds onto him tightly for a second before pulling away. "I wasn't expecting to see you up here!"

Finn shrugs, sticks his hands in his front pockets. "I didn't call you last night," he says. "And I just wanted to let you know that I'm okay."

His mom literally looks like she's about five seconds away from bursting into tears but she pulls herself together – thank God, because if she actually had, Finn would've ran to the nearest liquor store and tried to buy a bottle of vodka or something, just to erase that memory from his brain.

"Did you have a fun night?" his mom asks, and she almost sounds stupidly excited, sits down and clasps her hands together.

She's never really had this conversation with Finn before, though. They've never actually talked about how his weekends go, beyond discussing their plan for getting him out of whatever trouble he found himself in.

It's kind of nice, now that Finn actually thinks about it, knowing that this conversation's going to just have a normal beginning, middle, and end, with no tears and no calls to lawyers.

He says, "Yeah, it was okay. Just watched movies and stuff." And because he's feeling generous and he's slowly starting to come to terms with the fact that he's put his mother through hell the past few years, he says, "I hung out with Rachel for a little bit."

His mom's jaw drops and she sounds so relieved, so ecstatic as she says, "I knew she would be good for you! I knew you two would get along if you just tried, Finn!"

Finn rolls his eyes bashfully and he tries not to make a big deal out of this, because in all honesty, this really isn't a big thing. As far as he's concerned, he and Rachel are back to having a working relationship only. Last night was just sort of a weird fluke.

(He has to tell himself this, you know, so he doesn't get disappointed. Doesn't get hurt. He's doing good right now; he hasn't stolen anything in a couple of months, hasn't gotten in trouble since the whole garage thing. He doesn't want anything to throw him off balance.)

He says, "I don't even know if we're friends, Mom. We just hung out."

He can't help the smile that's playing at his lips though and his mom pulls a twenty out of her purse, tells him to buy whatever he wants for lunch, and to pay for Rachel's, too.

Finn pockets the money, kisses his mom on the cheek, and tells her that he'll see her after work. His mom waves him off, and Finn heads back down to the gift shop. Rachel's standing over near the flowers and when Finn walks up to her she says,

"Hey, there was some cop here looking for you. I think he said his name's Will?" Rachel shrugs carelessly as she plucks some dead daisies out of an arrangement. "Anyway, he said that his mom's in the ICU for some reason or another, and that if you get a chance to go up and talk to him, he'd appreciate it."

Rachel's voice is tight and her back's to him. Finn steps closer to her and he presses a hand around her waist, can feel her relaxing as he touches her hesitantly.

"I'm not in trouble," he says, and Rachel lets out a breath, one she probably didn't even realize she was holding. "I didn't do anything last night, except call you."

Rachel nods, and she turns around. "The police officer assured me you weren't in trouble, but I guess I just wanted to make sure." She pulls at her sundress awkwardly, plucking at a loose thread. She's biting at her bottom lip now, looking all concerned, and Finn asks her what the problem is.

She laughs and she says, "Last night – I don't do things like that very often… or ever, really." She places her hand against her forehead and says, "I don't want you to think that I'm just like every other girl at McKinley, sleeping around or whatnot."

"So why'd you do it with me?" Finn asks, and he's not trying to be a dick. He just kind of needs to hear the answer, for his sanity's sake and all.

Rachel says, looking at him, "The day you walked in here and yelled at me for being rude to you – even though technically I had every right, seeing as how you destroyed my family's property -." She breaks off and then says, "No one's ever talked to me like that. No one's ever made me feel so selfish before."

That doesn't sound like a good thing and Finn's starting to wonder where the hell, exactly, this conversation is going. He'd like a heads up, a sign, to let him know whether he's going to like what he's about to hear or not.

"And it got me thinking," Rachel says, "about you, and why you are the way you are."

"I don't need a psychologist," Finn says, and Rachel shakes her head angrily, says,

"No – I'm not psychoanalyzing you, I'm just saying, I remember thinking that if you had a friend, an actual friend instead of a drinking buddy, that maybe you'd be a lot happier. And you'd be a lot less inclined to do the dumb stuff that upsets your mom so badly, the stuff that's ruining your entire life."

Finn's quiet and Rachel takes a step closer to him. She says, "I want to be your friend."

Finn laughs, says, "I guess it's true, right? Every girl wants the bad boy."

He feels stupid referring to himself as that, but Rachel called him that last night, so he figures it's not too much of a douche move. And Rachel kisses him after he says that, so he thinks it wasn't the worst line in the world.


So, they kind of just go on like that for a while. Their relationship isn't really defined. They fight and stuff at work still, but it's over dumb stuff, like whose turn it is to take out the garbage or who should be in charge of the order forms for the week. But then they go on break and they kiss in a supply closet, or they go out to Rachel's car and kiss there… it's good. It works, for them.

Finn finishes up his community service hours the second week of August, but he decides to keep working there. He doesn't give a reason to Rachel, but he tells his mom that he thinks it's good for him – something for him to focus on, keep him busy. His mom looks so happy when he tells her that, and she actually cries.

And Finn stays on track, you know, the best he can. He drinks and everything, but he hasn't smoked pot since he started at the hospital and he doesn't do stupid shit when he drinks anymore. Not really, anyway. Puck and Santana keep questioning him, keep wondering why he's not acting like the old him… Finn tries to brush it off, tries to ignore their complaints.

It's hard to do that, though. It's really insanely difficult. But then he sees how happy his mom is when he comes down to the kitchen table in the morning, and he sees how amped it makes Rachel when he shows up to work and doesn't smell like a distillery.

So it's difficult, but it's also not difficult at the same time. It's a weird contradiction of sorts and Finn's still not really sure how all this happened, but he's not questioning it. He can't. He feels like the minute he starts to question it, everything's going to start to go wrong.

Rachel's dads don't know about him and Rachel. Rachel says it's for the best (at least for right now) and Finn thinks it is, too. He can't imagine that they'd be all that happy about their daughter sort of seeing the guy who ran a car into their garage. Just not a good first impression, you know?

And Finn doesn't really care, anyway, about meeting them. Honest. He mainly just cares about Rachel, and if she's happy about their arrangement, then he's pretty happy, too.

(God, that sounds so fucking lame. Sometimes he tells Rachel, as they're sitting at the park and eating ice cream, or playing fetch with her dog, that he feels like he's lost a part of himself or something. That without the trouble, without the drama, he feels like he's not even really Finn. He's just some fake Finn, some imposter taking over his body.

Rachel always presses her hand against his chest when he says that and says that he's fooling himself, if he thinks that his troublemaking was what made him Finn.)

They're in her room one night, during the last week of summer. Her parents are away for the night at some conference in Columbus, and Finn's mom knows that he's at Rachel's. She just, you know, doesn't know what they're doing.

There's a movie playing in the background, some musical that Rachel insisted Finn watch. But he's not really interested in that right now; he's more interested in the way that she's straddling his hips, pressing herself down onto him, dragging her hands across his chest.

She's naked and she's beautiful, right? She's completely beautiful, everything about her, and Finn reaches up, tucks some of her hair behind her ear. Rachel tilts her head, presses a kiss against the palm of his hand.

She lets out a soft gasp as he touches her and he says, "You sound so pretty right now."

He says this innocently and his voice is kind of cracking and he never thought he'd be having a conversation like this with anyone, not ever. He never thought someone would like him enough to do this with him.

Rachel says she loves him, though. He's not sure if he believes her yet, but he thinks he might soon.

She lets out another gasp and Finn leans up, kisses her. And he tells her that she sounds so pretty again.


A/N2: Thanks for reading! Reviews are appreciated.