Author's Note: I'm really excited for this one-shot! It just sort of came to me, and I got really excited. This story's title comes from the song "True" by Ryan Cabrera.

Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or anything related to it.


before.

"Promise me, Finn."

Lieutenant Finn Hudson shook his head and pressed the gauze to the wound on his friend's chest. "Puck, you need to shut the fuck up right now," he snapped. "Stop talking like that."

Gunfire sounded somewhere behind them, but Finn ignored it as best he could. He turned back to his first aid kit and searched through it in an effort to find more bandages, but Lieutenant Noah Puckerman grabbed his arm and forced him to look back at him.

"Do you remember what we said to each other after training?" Puck said. He winced and hissed when the pain intensified but forced his eyes to stay open as he waited for Finn's answer.

"Puck—"

"Damn it, Hudson! Will you just promise me? Fucking promise me that you'll go check up on my family!"

Finn stared down at Puck and knew that he was being serious. Just to get him to focus on staying conscious, Finn gripped Puck's forearm and said, "I promise I will. Now would you relax? We're both going to make it out of this alive—"

As soon as the words left Finn's mouth, a homemade bomb exploded next to them. And then everything went black.


one.

Rachel Berry hated saying goodbye.

Even though she had just graduated from college and should be used to it by now, she still hated it. She hadn't even gone to school that far from her family, so it wasn't like she couldn't talk to them or see them on a semi-regular basis.

Rachel supposed it had something to do with the fact that her papa, Leroy, was a police officer. She feared for him every morning she goodbye. Her concerned was furthered when her older brother, Noah Puckerman, had decided that he wanted to join the army. He had been in for six years now, and Rachel had had to say goodbye to him more times than she cared to count. He was currently on his second tour in Afghanistan.

Rachel hated it every time she heard about a report on the news. She was terrified that she was going to see her brother's picture or name on the television. Thankfully, that hadn't happened yet. But that was of little comfort to Rachel.

Today was a particularly bad day. It was at the beginning of her summer break between her junior and senior year at NYU. She still had a few days before her summer job of volunteering at the local theater started, so she didn't have a lot to distract herself with. No matter what she did, Rachel couldn't shake the worry that was plaguing her.

The phone rang somewhere in the house, and one of her fathers answered it. Rachel sat curled up on one of the sofas in the living room, a book in her lap. She turned the page but she wasn't really reading the words; her mind was elsewhere.

Finally, she picked her phone up and scrolled through her contacts. She decided to text her best friends Tina Cohen Chang and Mercedes Jones. Maybe they could give her something to do, since sitting around by herself wasn't really working out.

Before she could tap out a text message, however, her daddy came into the room. Rachel smiled up at him and then did a double-take when she caught sight of the look on his face. She immediately put her phone and book aside and stood up, going over to her father.

"Daddy," she said. She wasn't sure if it was something to do with her papa or her brother. She prayed that whatever it was, it involved neither of them. But that feeling of worry grew even more intense, and Rachel knew that she wasn't going to like whatever her father was going to say.

"Rachela," Hiram said softly. Rachel gasped when she saw tears forming in her father's eyes. "It's your brother. They… they don't know where he is. He's been declared missing in action."


two.

"What does missing in action mean?"

Mercedes rolled her eyes. "What do you think it means, Tina? It means that Puck is missing." She winced as soon as the words left her mouth and she turned to Rachel with an apologetic look on her face. "I'm sorry, Rachel. I didn't mean to say it like that."

Rachel shrugged her shoulders and plucked at the edge of the blanket she was wrapped in. Instead of acknowledging Mercedes's apology, she instead said, "He was on a mission with his team and something happened and… they said something about an attack and a bomb… now he's missing. I don't know all of the details, but…"

Tina sat down next to Rachel and wrapped her arm around Rachel's shoulders. "Are they looking for him, at least?"

"They are," Rachel said. "But we can't know anything for sure."

Tina and Mercedes exchanged a look before they turned back to Rachel with worry. Sure, they had all been worried about Puck before, but this time was different. This time, they didn't know where Puck was or if he was going to be okay. None of them wanted to have negative thoughts about the situation, but they couldn't help it.

"What are your fathers saying?" Mercedes asked.

Rachel shrugged her shoulders. "My papa knows more about what's going on than the rest of us do. He was in the marines and now he's a police officer so he understands. But my daddy is having a difficult time. He's so scared and I'm so scared…" Rachel shook her head. "Puck is my big brother. He's the one who's supposed to be around and be okay."

Tina squeezed Rachel's shoulders again and Mercedes reached for the pile of DVDs that was on the bedside table. Things were hard now, but Tina and Mercedes couldn't do anything more than be there for their friend and hope that everything was going to be okay.


three.

Finn rolled his eyes as his friend kept talking. He kept the cell phone pressed to his ear, but Finn had tuned out Santana Lopez's scolding a long time ago. He finally checked back into the conversation when he heard, "Lurch, are you even listening to me right now?"

Finn zipped his suitcase up. "Of course I'm listening to you, Santana."

"You fucking liar. No you're not. Now can you please explain to me why you're dragging your ass up to New York City?"

"Because I need to. Will you stop asking questions and just trust me?"

"You're just coming home from Afghanistan, you jackass. You do realize that your mother is worried sick about you, right?"

"Number one, those insults that you use as terms of endearment? Yeah, it's not really working. Number two, I've spent the past week in Ohio with my mom and Burt. And number three, I'm doing something for a friend, okay? I'll call you when I get to New York."

Santana let out an angry huff on the other end of the line, but she finally relented. "Fine. Whatever. You better call me when you get there or I'll come after you."

Finn snorted. "Santana, you're currently in California. It would be pain if you decided to come find me."

"Don't press your luck, Sasquatch. I have my ways."


four.

Finn looked at the address in his hand and then up at the sign in front of him. He was at the Berry Bakery, and it was just as Puck had described it. Finn knew that Puck had one father that was a police officer and one that owned a bakery. He also knew that he had a little sister that was still in college.

Finn didn't really have a plan of action. When he and Puck first became friends, they had promised each other that if anything happened to one of them and the other was okay, they would go check up on their families and make sure that they were alright. Finn had never imagined that he would be the one going to see Puck's family. He didn't even know what to say. So he just decided to walk into the bakery and hope for the best.

Hiram Berry was a man on the shorter side with glasses and a kind face. He looked up when Finn entered the bakery and gave him a smile. Finn knew that look; they had obviously gotten the call about Puck and hadn't stopped worrying about him since. That familiar feeling of guilt rose up in Finn but he pushed it away and returned the older man's smile as best he could.

"Good morning, young man," Hiram said. "What can I help you with?"

"I… uh…" Finn cursed internally. He really should have come up with something before he walked in. Now he was standing here without anything to say.

Hiram didn't seem put off by Finn's lack of response. Instead, he just said, "Oh, are you here to apply for the job? It's kind of a miscellaneous thing. You'd be working the register and helping me fix this place up."

Well, there was his opening. "Yeah. I mean, yes, I'm here to apply for the job."

Another half an hour passed as Hiram and Finn discussed his qualifications. Finn watched Hiram's face when he revealed that he just got back from a tour in Afghanistan. The older man gave him a sad smile, but he said that he appreciated Finn's service. By the end of their little impromptu interview, Finn had the job and a place to stay.

"We live in a brownstone and we're renting out the apartment above our place," Hiram revealed. "You're more than welcome to stay there as part of the job. I know it's not much, but—"

"No, it's okay," Finn said. "That actually sounds really good." After everything that he had been through, it would be nice to have a quiet, relaxing job. Finn was actually looking forward to this.


five.

Rachel entered the kitchen and smiled when she found her papa in there cooking dinner. He put the spatula down and greeted her with a hug when he saw her.

"How are you today, Rachela? Is your summer going well so far?" Leroy asked.

"It is, Papa." Rachel sat on one of the stools at the kitchen island. "Whatever you're making smells delicious."

"It's stir fry," Leroy explained. "Your daddy called me today. It looks like we're getting a guest for dinner."

"Really? Who?" Rachel stole one of the slices of zucchini that was sitting on the counter and popped it into her mouth.

"Your daddy hired someone at the bakery today. He offered him the apartment above us and he took it. So we're having him over for dinner tonight." Leroy gave his daughter a smile and then said, "He also said that he was very cute."

Rachel rolled her eyes. "Papa, come on." Her fathers had tried to set her up before, but it had always been with boys that Rachel hadn't been particularly interested in. She shuddered when she remembered the disastrous dinner with Jacob Ben Israel.

Leroy chuckled. "Rachela, we're not trying to do anything. This young man just got back from a tour in Afghanistan and he's looking for a quiet job. We just wanted to help him out, that's all."

At the mention of this new guy's previous career, Rachel pressed her lips together. Leroy reached out and patted her hand before he handed her an apron. "Do you want to help me finish up with dinner?"

Rachel tugged the apron over her head and tied it around her waist. Without saying anything, she joined her father at the kitchen counter and started to chop up some vegetables. Things were still hard within their family, but they were doing the best that they could.


six.

Finn followed Hiram into his house. The entrance hallway was bright and very homey. The wall next to the stairs was filled with pictures from Puck and his little sister's childhood. It was easy to see that they were a very happy family. It only made Finn's chest grow tighter as he looked around.

"Well, here it is. Home sweet home." Hiram pointed back towards the kitchen, where another set of stairs was visible. "Those stairs were lead up to the apartment that you get. Why don't you go up and put your bags in there? Dinner should be ready by then."

Finn managed a smile towards the older man and cut through the house. He climbed the stairs, and with the key that Hiram had given him, Finn entered his new apartment. It was spacious and already furnished. They had even put fresh sheets on the bed in the bedroom.

Finn set his bags down and just leaned against the wall. What was he doing? He was just supposed to check up on Puck's family. He wasn't supposed to stay and get a job and move into the apartment above their house. But he couldn't deny that this seemed like an escape from real life, and that's all that Finn really wanted.

He took a moment to gather his thoughts before he turned and left the apartment. He made his way back downstairs and into the kitchen, where he could hear two new voices join Hiram's. One was a deep male's voice, and the other was a melodic female's. Finn heard the girl laugh and was immediately drawn towards the sound. Without realizing it, he ended up directly in the kitchen as he searched for the source of that laugh.

"Finn!" Hiram noticed him enter the room right away. He smiled and gestured for him to come in. As he did, Finn noticed the other man—it must have been Hiram's husband Leroy. He was tall with dark skin. He had a friendly air about him, but he was clearly someone that you didn't want to mess with. It was easy to see who Puck took after.

Then Finn's eyes fell to the other occupant of the room—Puck's little sister. She was petite, with big brown eyes and long hair that hung in waves around her shoulders. She was wearing jeans and a purple tank top and was watching Finn with wide eyes.

Finn's eyes connected with hers and held for several moments that seemed to stretch into eternity. Finally, Rachel was the one to look away first. Finn cleared his throat and tuned back into the conversation just in time to hear Hiram introduce his husband and his daughter.

"Finn, this is my husband, Leroy. And this is our daughter, Rachel. She likes to hang around the bakery during her school breaks, so I'm sure that you'll be seeing a lot of her."

Finn just nodded his head as his eyes caught Rachel's once again. This time, she smiled at him. Finn was surprised to feel his lips lifting into a half smile in return.


seven.

So his name was Finn Hudson, and he was gorgeous.

Rachel could barely take her eyes off of him. He was tall, so tall. He had broad shoulders and large hands that made Rachel blush when she thought about them. His short, thick hair somehow managed to be messy, and he had amber eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across his cheeks. She couldn't help but notice the dimple that appeared in his cheek when he gave her that adorable half smile.

Now she was sitting across the dining room table from him and trying not to make it obvious that she was checking him out. He was talking with both of her fathers, answering questions about where he was from and what his hobbies were. They didn't talk much about his former career in the army, because it was a topic that they still weren't comfortable with. It had only been four weeks since they received the news about Puck, after all.

"So do you have a degree at all?" Leroy asked.

"I do, actually," Finn said. "In music education. Joining up was just a way to pay for college and then I decided to go back. It was supposed to be my last tour. I had a job lined up at an elementary school in Ohio."

"And you decided to turn it down?" Hiram asked gently. He didn't mean to pry. Thankfully, Finn didn't seem to mind answering his questions.

"Yeah. I turned it down and decided that I just needed a change of pace when I came back stateside." He shrugged his shoulders and stabbed at one of the vegetables on his plate with his fork.

The two older men shared a look before Leroy said, "Well our little Rachela loves music. She wants to be on Broadway one day."

"Papa," Rachel groaned. She didn't mind when they used her childhood nicknames in front of her, but she did mind it when they used it in front of other people. She was going to be turning twenty-two in December, after all.

"Really?" Finn seemed genuinely interested. "I have a younger brother that loves Broadway. He just finished going to school up here, but I think he's spending a year in California."

"That's exciting. What does he want to do?" Rachel blurted. She had been waiting for a time to jump into the conversation and hadn't meant to do it so abruptly, but Finn didn't seem to mind. He smiled at her again before he answered.

"Something with screenwriting, I think."

Rachel nodded her head and turned the conversation back towards Finn. She wanted to know more about him, and she couldn't explain her sudden need to know. "So you want to be a music teacher? Do you play any instruments?"

"I play the drums," Finn answered. "And a little bit of guitar here and there."

Hiram smiled. "Well maybe you can play with Rachel one day."

"Sure," Finn said as an easy half smile lifted his lips.

Rachel caught his eye again and a something that she couldn't describe passed between them. Rachel didn't know what it was, but she found that she liked it.


eight.

After dinner, Finn went back up to his new apartment and shut the door behind him. As he walked through to his bedroom, he thought about the events that had transpired that night. He shed his clothes as he got lost in thoughts, stripping down to just his boxers before he climbed into bed.

Unbidden, his thoughts traveled towards the young woman who was sleeping in a room somewhere below him. He couldn't stop himself from thinking about her or the way that she smiled or the way that she laughed. She seemed so open and friendly and Finn wanted to know her more.

As soon as that thought entered his mind, he shook his head as if the movement could get rid of it. He couldn't be thinking things like that. He had promised Puck that he was going to check up on his family, and that was it. Finn had already taken it one step further by accepting the job offer from Hiram and staying in their house. The last thing he need was to entertain thoughts about Rachel Berry.

Still. Finn rolled over onto his side and closed his eyes as he tried to fall asleep. He had his first day of work tomorrow, and he wanted to make sure that he was well-rested. But as exhaustion overtook him, Finn found his thoughts drifting back to Rachel once more.

Little did he know, she was one floor beneath him, thinking about him as well.


nine.

Rachel knocked on the apartment door and waited to see if it was going to open. Her fathers had made a whole breakfast buffet for them that morning, and they had told Rachel to go upstairs and see if Finn wanted to join them.

Several moments passed and Rachel raised her hand to knock on the door again. Just as her knuckles grazed it, the door swung open and Rachel found herself face to face with Finn Hudson's bare chest.

Rachel's lips parted and all she could do was stare. He was just… he was flawless. He was toned and fit but not overly so. He was only wearing his boxers and they were slung dangerously low on his hips. He had a shadow of stubble on his face, and he rubbed his hand over his messy hair.

"What's up?" he asked, his voice husky with sleep.

Rachel blinked and tried to force her brain to actually work. "Uh… yes. Yes, I… Breakfast!" Rachel sighed. She had to get a grip on herself. But he wasn't wearing a shirt and… Rachel forced herself to speak again. "My dads made breakfast and they wanted to know if you wanted to join us."

Finn yawned and rubbed his hand over his face. He had finally managed to wake himself up. Rachel saw the sleep leave his eyes before they suddenly widened. "Um.. yeah. Yeah, breakfast sounds good. I'll just… I'll be down in a minute."

Rachel smiled at him. "Alright." With one last lingering look at Finn's form, Rachel went down the stairs and into the kitchen. Her fathers were there, and they tried to make it look like they hadn't been waiting for her to come back.

"You two are terrible," Rachel said.

Hiram ignored that little jab from his daughter. "Well? What did he say?"

"He's going to come down. You both might actually want to do something instead of just sitting there and staring at the stairs," Rachel responded. She took a seat at the table and didn't miss the way her fathers left the chair next to her open.

Before Rachel could comment on that, Finn came down the stairs. Now he was dressed in a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt. He looked just as good as he had earlier, and Rachel bit her lip. Finn's eyes zeroed in on the action and he cleared his throat a little bit before he greeted her fathers.

"Thanks for inviting me to breakfast," Finn said as he took the seat next to Rachel.

Hiram waved his hand. "Oh, it's no problem. We always have breakfast made, so feel free to come down at any time. Rachel will be cooking tomorrow. She's an excellent baker."

"Really?" Finn asked. "I guess it runs in the family."

Rachel cheeks flushed. "It's something that I like to do in my spare time."

Finn smiled at her and Rachel felt her heart rate pick up. She barely knew him and he was already having this effect on her. She took a bite of her pancakes and tried to get a hold of her emotions once again.

Hiram started talking about what they would be doing at the bakery later in the day. Rachel and Finn both turned towards the two men. Under the table, their knees brushed. Rachel bit her lip to stop herself from smiling when they both stayed there.


ten.

It was nearing the end of the day and Finn was wiping the front counters down. This job was definitely a nice change of pace compared to what he had been doing before. He finished cleaning and leaned against the counter.

The bell above the door jingled then, and Finn turned to see Rachel and two of her friends walk in. A smile formed on his face when he remembered how she came to invite him to breakfast that morning. It seemed as if his plan not to think about Rachel Berry really wasn't going to work out.

"Ooooh, is this him?" one of Rachel's friends asked as soon as she caught sight of Finn.

Rachel's cheeks flushed. "Tina!" she hissed.

"No, no," Rachel's other friend said. "I have to agree with Tina. This Justin Timberlake look alike might actually have some promise."

"Mercedes!" Rachel shook her head and turned to Finn with a smile playing on her lips. "I'm sorry about them. Finn, meet my friends Tina Cohen-Chang and Mercedes Jones. Tina and Mercedes, this is Finn."

Finn had an amused look on his face. "It's nice to meet you."

Mercedes nodded her head. "I approve."

Rachel covered her face with her hands and let out a groan of embarrassment. "Why am I friends with you two?"

Finn let out a chuckle and reached across the counter, gently nudging Rachel's shoulder. She peeked over her fingers at him and couldn't hide her smile when she saw that adorable half grin on his lips.

"Can I get something for you?" he asked in an attempt to get her friends to stop teasing her. Rachel pulled her hands entirely from her face and gave him a beaming smile that caused Finn's heart to spasm in his chest.

"Can I have the banana chocolate muffin?" Rachel asked sweetly. Finn, still thrown off by her smile, could only nod as he moved to pull the muffin out of the display case. He could vaguely hear Mercedes and Tina giggling, but he paid them no attention as handed Rachel her treat. Their fingers brushed as she took it from him.

Rachel almost gasped at the tingles that passed through her at the contact, but she managed to hold it in. Instead, she picked a morsel off the muffin and popped it in her mouth. "Thank you," she said softly.

Finn was her father's new employee, and he was living them. She didn't know if it was a good idea to try and start anything with him—especially given that she knew next to nothing about Finn, besides the fact that he was a wonderful guy with an adorable smile. Rachel was just going to have to keep her crush to herself, even though she couldn't seem to stop her feelings from growing.

Before Finn could respond, Tina butted herself between Rachel and the counter. "My turn!" she exclaimed. Mercedes burst into laughter behind her, and Rachel just rolled her eyes at her friends' antics.


eleven.

Finn's eyes snapped open. His heart was pounding and sweat coated his skin. He stared up at the ceiling and concentrated on getting his heart rate back to normal, but it wasn't really working.

He had been having nightmares on and off ever since they had sent him home. Most of them had featured leaving Puck behind. He still felt intense guilt every day for his inability to save his friend. It was even worse now that he was staying with Puck's family and they had no idea what Finn's connection to them was.

It had been almost two weeks since he had started working at Berry Bakery. He had been battling with telling them about how he had worked with Puck ever since then. Finn just hadn't really found a good time—or a right way—to bring it up. Especially since it was his fault that Puck was missing.

With a sigh, Finn rolled out of bed and pulled on a pair of plaid pajama pants. He wasn't going to be getting back to sleep any time soon. He felt too trapped in his apartment, so he pushed the front door open and quietly made his way downstairs. He figured that getting something to drink would at least give him something to do.

Finn walked into the dark kitchen and felt something hit his chest. Surprised, Finn reached over and turned the light on. He found Rachel staring up at him with wide eyes. Her cheeks turned bright red when she realized that he wasn't wearing a shirt once again. She had just slammed into his bare chest like a complete klutz.

"I'm sorry," Rachel finally said. "I didn't see you—"

"It's okay," Finn said quickly. "I didn't realize that you were down here."

Rachel shrugged her shoulders and jumped up to sit on the kitchen island. "It's just one of those nights, you know? I couldn't really fall asleep."

"Oh, I know," Finn mumbled. The nightmares were becoming more and more frequent. The base doctor told him that he would probably suffer from PTSD. He rubbed his hand over his hair and took a deep breath.

Rachel caught on to the tone of his voice. Reaching out, she put a hand on his arm. "Finn, is everything alright?"

Finn looked down at her small hand on his arm, and then he glanced up at her face. Her large brown eyes were full of sincere concern as she gazed up at him. Finn felt all resolve at trying to keep his distance from her. He knew that he wouldn't be able to do it.

"Yeah," he said after several long moments. "Yeah, everything is fine. It was just… nightmares." The word slipped out of his mouth before he could stop himself. Finn just found himself wanting to tell Rachel everything.

"Nightmares?" Rachel repeated. Then realization suddenly dawned. "Oh. Because you were in the army."

Finn shrugged his shoulders. "I guess so."

Rachel bit her lip but her hand remained on his arm. After a moment, she squeezed it gently. "You know that you can always come find me if you need to talk, right? I may not know a lot about it, but I'm here to listen if you need me."

"I…" It almost all came spilling out. Finn almost told Rachel everything in that moment. Looking into her eyes, Finn felt as if he could tell Rachel the whole story and everything would be okay.

But he didn't. Instead, he just sighed before he nodded his head. "Thank you, Rachel. I… I just… That really means a lot to me. Thank you."

Rachel smiled sweetly at him. "Of course, Finn. Anytime." With that, she slipped off the counter. She squeezed his arm again as she passed, and Finn smiled.


twelve.

Rachel walked into the bakery. It was early in the morning, but sometimes she liked to pop in just to help out before her daddy got there. She had grown up in this bakery, and it was one of her favorite things to do.

Walking into the kitchen, Rachel was surprised to find Finn standing there, staring at the ingredients spread out in front of him. It looked like he hadn't really gotten a lot of sleep once again. There were slight bags under his eyes and the scruff was ever present on his face. Still, he managed to look so unbelievably attractive.

It had been three days since Rachel had found him in the kitchen after his nightmare. She could only assume that he still hadn't really gotten any. When the swinging door to the kitchen opened, Finn turned towards her.

"Oh, hey," he said. He yawned and scrubbed a hand over his face. "Your dad wanted me to come in and start the new batches of vanilla cupcakes. But I kind of didn't tell him that I don't know how to bake."

"At all?" Rachel asked with a giggle. "What did you think you were going to be doing working at a bakery?"

"Hey." That easy smile appeared on Finn's face once again, and it made Rachel's heartbeat speed up. "Your dad said I'd be helping to fix the place up. He said nothing about baking."

"Hmm." Rachel stepped closer. "Well, luckily for you, I know how to make vanilla cupcakes. I'd be more than happy to assist you, if you'd like."

Finn's smile widened. "That'd be awesome. So… what's first?"

Rachel picked up the flour and measured it out. "First, you're going to want to mix the dry ingredients together. Here." Rachel handed him the flour and other ingredients, directing him in mixing it together.

The atmosphere was comfortable and easy as they measured the batter into the baking tins and then put it into the oven. Rachel pulled out some sugar and cocoa powder and set it on the counter.

"Now we have to start on the icing," Rachel said.

"My favorite part!" Finn exclaimed with a smile. Rachel's heart warmed at how excited he was over the prospect of icing. "And chocolate icing is my favorite."

Rachel quickly measured out the ingredients and put it into the mixer. Once it was finished, Rachel handed Finn a spoon and said, "Go ahead and try it."

Finn eagerly tested the icing. Nodding his head approvingly, he dipped the spoon back in and held it out to Rachel. "You're turn."

Rachel glanced down at the spoon before she brought her hand up to cover Finn's, steadying it. She tasted the icing and licked her lips. Finn's eyes darkened as he watched her. He reached up slowly with his free hand.

"You have some icing right here…" Finn's thumb gently brushed against Rachel's lower lip. She gasped at the touch, and she caught his hand before he could pull away. Finn took a step closer to Rachel and she tilted her head up, stretching up onto her tiptoes in order to reach them.

They suddenly heard the bell to the bakery ding as the front door opened. They heard Hiram call out, "Finn? Rachel? Are you two in the kitchen?"

Finn and Rachel stared at each other before they pulled apart from each other. "Yes, we're back here!" she responded. She couldn't believe that she and Finn had almost kissed, and she felt a twinge of annoyance with her daddy for interrupting them.

As Finn began to clean up what they had used to make the cupcakes, Rachel watched him. She knew that there was no way she was going to be able to resist him for much longer. There was no use trying to avoid whatever was between them.

Rachel caught Finn's eye and smiled. Finn shot her a lopsided grin in return. Oh yeah. There was definitely no way she would be able to resist him.


thirteen.

"I, for one, can't wait to see what Finn looks like all dressed up."

Mercedes nodded her head in agreement at Tina's statement. "That boy will look fine."

"Would you two stop?" Rachel demanded as she leveled a glare at her friends. She knew that they were only doing it to piss her off because she had such a thing for Finn. And, unfortunately, they were succeeding in getting a rise out of her.

Tina laughed. "Rachel, you need to relax. We just want you to make a move on Finn already."

"Especially after what you told us about in the bakery kitchen," Mercedes added.

Rachel sighed and ignored both Tina and Mercedes's comments and instead turned to face them. She smoothed her hands over her strapless green sundress. "So? How do I look?" Her hair was pulled back from her face with the rest of it tumbling down around her shoulders. She was wearing wedge sandals that gave her a little bit of extra height, and her makeup was light and pretty.

"That boy is not going to know what hit him," Mercedes declared.

"Can we go downstairs now?" Tina asked. "I want to have fun at this party!"

Rachel laughed. "This is a party for my dad and his friends. I can't imagine that we'll be having much fun, Tina."

"Yeah, but your next door neighbor's son is adorable. I'm going to find him and flirt with him all night." Tina jumped up and opened Rachel's bedroom door. She pointed down the hall, where they could hear everyone gathering. "Now let's go!"

Tina and Mercedes walked into the main room first. Rachel followed after them, saying hello to her both of her fathers' friends as she went. She turned around when someone called her name, but lost complete focus when she caught sight of Finn.

He was wearing a pair of dark jeans and a white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, revealing his impressive forearms. Rachel's lips parted as she stared at him, not hiding at all that she was checking him out. And Finn stared right back at her.

Rachel made her way across the room towards him. When she reached him, Finn reached out and took her hand in both of his. The warmth of his large hands sent tingles throughout her body.

"You look beautiful," he murmured.

Rachel almost melted into a puddle right there. His amber eyes were dark as he stared down at her, and Rachel curled her fingers around his. "Thank you," she said softly. "You don't look so bad yourself, either." They stood there for a few moments, just smiling at each other before Rachel looked over her shoulder to make sure that her fathers were both sufficiently distracted. "We should go outside."

Finn nodded his head. "Okay."

They kept their hands wrapped together as they moved on the edges of the party and out into the back garden. They walked through the small garden until they reached the far side. With his free hand, Finn reached forward and plucked a pink rose from the flowers growing up the wall next to them.

"Here," Finn said. He tucked the flower into her hair and brushed his fingers across her cheek as he pulled back. Rachel beamed up at him and touched a petal of the rose before she stretched on her tiptoes, brushing her lips against Finn's. She pulled back to find Finn grinning at her before he settled his hands on her hips and pulled her closer.

His lips came down over hers again, his tongue slipping into her mouth. Rachel let out a little moan as she wrapped her arms around Finn's neck and pressed herself closer to him.

When they broke apart again, Finn stroked his fingers down her cheek again. He leaned forward and placed a soft, tender kiss on her lips. "You're amazing," he murmured against her lips.

With a smile, Rachel reached up to kiss Finn again.


fourteen.

"So Lady Hummel and I were thinking about coming to visit you."

Finn almost pulled the cellphone back from his ear in alarm. Instead, he just shook his head even though Santana couldn't see him. "What? No."

"Why the hell not?" Santana demanded. "You know how much Hummel likes New York City. And believe it or not, I actually want to see your ugly face."

"Santana, we've talked about this. Your insults aren't endearing."

Santana ignored that comment. "Come on. It's been so long since we've seen you. And you know that Kurt is worried about you. He's been whining about how he hasn't talked to you in over two weeks. Would you just call him already?"

Finn sighed. He hadn't meant to blow off his brother. He just had a lot on his mind. And he had spent the past two days kissing Rachel and spending time with her every chance that he got. He hadn't been this happy in a long time.

"If I call him, will you hold off on the visit for a little while? I've just been getting settled in here and I'd really like to keep that streak going, if you don't mind."

Santana made a scoffing noise. "How have you not settled in yet? You've been there for three weeks now! Why have you been avoiding us?"

Finn remained silent. He didn't really want Santana to give him crap for being in a new relationship, but he knew that it wouldn't take her very long to figure it out. Just as he predicted, Santana gasped.

"Holy shit! You've been boning someone, haven't you? Damn, lurch!"

"I haven't been boning her!" Finn retorted angrily. "She's not like that, okay? We're just… we just started seeing each other and… I really like her, San."

Santana's voice softened. "She makes you happy, doesn't she?"

"She really does," Finn said. "So can you keep this quiet for a little bit? And hold off on the visit. You and Kurt have all summer to do it."

"Alright, fine," Santana said with an annoyed sigh. "But don't be surprised if we just show up in New York one day."


fifteen.

Rachel snuggled further into Finn's chest. They were curled up on the couch together with a movie playing quietly in the background. Neither of them were paying much attention to the film, however. They had spent the past hour making out and letting their hands wander.

"Finn," Rachel let out on a breathy sigh as he nuzzled her neck. He gently bit down and then soothed the mark over with his tongue. She slid her hands under his t-shirt, letting them press against his abdomen. He groaned a little at the feeling of her soft hands on his skin and pulled her closer, laying her back against the couch until he was hovering over her.

"Rach, you're so beautiful," Finn murmured. He ran a hand down her side before leaning forward to kiss her again, deeply and passionately. Rachel moaned and locked her fingers in his hair when he kissed down her neck again and to the v-neck of her shirt. He pulled the material back and sucked on the skin right above her bra.

Rachel was about to yank her shirt off when there was suddenly a knock on the door. Both Rachel and Finn looked up before she tugged him back down to kiss her again. "Ignore it," she murmured against his lips. Just as things were heating up, they heard another knock once again.

Rachel sighed as Finn pulled back. He smiled and placed a gentle kiss on her lips before they both got up to answer the front door.

When Rachel opened it, she was surprised to see a blonde woman standing on the other side. Her mouth dropped open before she finally managed, "…Quinn?"

Quinn Fabray smiled and rested her hands on her round stomach. "Hello, Rachel," she said. "I was wondering if we could talk."

Rachel continued to gape at Quinn for a moment before she nodded her head. "Just go on and wait in the kitchen. I'll be there in a moment."

Quinn nodded her head and disappeared down the hall and into the kitchen. Finn, meanwhile, couldn't believe that Quinn Fabray—Puck's longtime girlfriend—had just showed up at the Berry's house. Puck had told Finn all about her, and he was sure that Quinn knew about him.

"I can't believe this," Rachel said, pulling Finn from his thoughts.

Finn took Rachel's hand and squeezed it. "Are you okay?"

Rachel's brow furrowed. "That's my brother's girlfriend. We haven't seen her since he left for his most recent tour in Afghanistan and now she's pregnant… Oh my God." Rachel pressed a hand to her mouth as tears came to her eyes. "She doesn't know that Noah is missing in action."

"Hey. Look at me." Finn kissed Rachel and rubbed his hand in soothing circles over her back. "I'll be right there when you tell her. Everything will be okay."


sixteen.

As predicted, Quinn didn't react very well to the news of Puck's disappearance well. Once she had finally calmed down, she had explained that she had discovered she was pregnant right after Puck left. She and Puck had normally exchanged regular letters, and when she hadn't heard from him, she went to visit the Berry family to see if they had.

They were all taking a break now. Rachel had gone upstairs to call her fathers and let them know about the situation. Quinn had disappeared into the bathroom, and Finn was just sitting in the kitchen as he tried to wrap his mind around what was happening.

Quinn surprised him when she came back into the kitchen. "Have you told Rachel who you are yet?"

"What?" Finn asked when he couldn't come up with a better answer.

"Come on." Quinn rolled her eyes. "I know who you are, but I think it's pretty clear that Rachel has no idea that you're teammates with Puck. Do her fathers know?"

"No," Finn said quietly. "And I don't know how to tell them."

Quinn sighed. "I thought you promised Puck that you were just going to check up on them."

"I did. But then… And all of this…" Finn ran a hand over his hair. "I really care about Rachel."

Quinn stared at him for several long moments. It suddenly occurred to him that Quinn didn't know the whole story about Puck's disappearance, either. He felt guiltier than ever before, especially knowing that Quinn was pregnant with Puck's child. And Rachel was Puck's little sister and still had no idea about anything, either. Finn was getting in too deep for him to be able to hide the truth for much longer.

"I won't say anything," Quinn finally said. "It's up to you to tell them. But I suggest that you do it soon, alright? People are going to get hurt if you don't say anything."

"I know," Finn said. Rachel came back into the room then, and she hugged Quinn tightly and said that she and her family would be there for her no matter what. "I know."


seventeen.

Rachel hugged her pillow to her chest as she rolled over and turned to look at the pictures on her bedside table. She had several there of her with her family, her with just her brother, and then some with Mercedes and Tina. She smiled when her eyes fell on the picture she had recently added: of her and Finn.

He had been her ray of sunshine through this entire ordeal. He was like a solid rock, this constant presence that kept her grounded. She couldn't believe that he had come into her life when he did, but she was so glad that it had happened.

As if he had known that she had been thinking about him, Finn suddenly appeared at her side. He leaned over and kissed Rachel softly before he leaned over and wrapped his arms around her.

"How are you doing?" he asked.

Rachel shrugged her shoulders and turned around in Finn's arm so she was facing him. "It's been almost ten weeks since we've heard about Noah going missing. No one has said anything about what's been going on since then."

Finn rubbed her back and placed a kiss on her forehead. "I'm sure that they're looking for him." Finn knew that they were. They had turned down his request to join the search team because his injuries had been too severe. And they had wanted him to recover from his psychological injuries, as well. So Finn was stuck waiting on the sidelines. And then he had somehow ended up falling for Rachel Berry, Puck's little sister.

"Wouldn't we have heard something by now, though?" Rachel asked, her voice heavy with concern. She shook her head. "Noah is my big brother. I'm not used to worrying about him this much. He's always been the one that didn't need saving. What am I supposed to do?"

"These things take time," Finn said. The guilt was eating away at him once again. The urge to tell her about what had happened was growing stronger, but he pushed it away. "It might just take a little while longer. Just have faith, okay?"

Rachel reached up to kiss Finn tenderly before she snuggled further into his chest. "You always know the right things to say, Finn. Thank you so much."


eighteen.

Finn had finally got to the point where he could bake the basic cupcakes without anyone's help. It was another early morning when he was in the bakery. He had just put a batch into the oven when Hiram came into the kitchen.

"Hey, Mr. Berry," Finn said as he wiped his hands on the kitchen rag. "I just finished up with some of the baking."

"Thank you, Finn," Hiram said. "And how many times have I told you to call me Hiram?"

"Sorry, sir. I mean… Hiram." Finn just wasn't used to calling Hiram by his first name, given that he was now dating the man's daughter. Leroy certainly hadn't told Finn to call him by his first name. The man hadn't been hostile or anything, but he was subtly intimidating Finn ever since he and Rachel had started dating. Finn may have faced all sorts of things while in the army, but he was terrified of Leroy Berry.

Hiram reached for some of the cupcakes that had cooled down and started to expertly ice them as if it was the easiest thing in the world. "We haven't really had a chance to talk lately, Finn."

"Uh… I guess we haven't," Finn said slowly. This didn't sound like a conversation between an employee and his boss. This was looking much more like an interrogation between a father and the man his daughter was dating.

Hiram laughed. "Finn, relax. I'm not here to scare you. That's Leroy's job, anyway."

"Oh." Yeah, that didn't really make Finn feel a whole lot better.

"Both Leroy and I have noticed how much you care for Rachel and how happy you've been making her," Hiram said. "And it's nice to see her feeling better after everything that's happened in our family."

Finn hid his wince at the mention of what the Berry family was dealing with right now. Instead, he spoke one of the only truths he was sure of at that moment. "I really care about Rachel."

Hiram patted Finn's shoulder. "I know." With a sigh, he continued, "Not know what has happened to Noah has been hard on all of us. You know more about the army than I do, so you understand what's happening more than Rachel or I ever could. She's lucky to have you looking out for her."

Finn managed to force a smile at the older man before he turned back around to finish cleaning up. He had to tell them soon, he knew. Keeping how he knew Puck a secret wasn't going to be good for anyone.


nineteen.

Rachel laced her fingers through Finn's as they walked through Central Park together. He had taken her out to one of her favorite cafés for dinner and then they had picked up dessert from a little Italian bakery. He had given her flowers and was a gentleman, as he always was. Rachel didn't know how she ended up being so lucky to find someone like him.

"This night was perfect, Finn," Rachel said as she smiled up at him. "Thank you."

Finn stopped walking to cup Rachel's cheek and place a tender, loving kiss on her lips. "You deserve it," he murmured against her lips before he kissed her again. "You always will."

Rachel hugged him, resting her head against chest as she closed her eyes. His arms wrapped securely around her and he dropped a kiss to the top of her head, tangling his fingers in her hair. The summer air was warm around them, and the sky was darkening above their heads. Everything was peaceful and calm in that moment.

Pulling back from him after several long moments, Rachel took his hand and said, "I have something special planned tonight."

Finn quirked an eyebrow and looked down at her with a smile playing on his lips. "Oh really?"

She loved when he got playful. "Yeah. It's back at the house."

Finn grinned and followed Rachel as she eagerly led him from the park. It was easy and comfortable as they made their way home. As the entered the house, Rachel shut the door behind them and Finn noticed that the entire house was dark.

"We have the entire house to ourselves," Rachel said in response to Finn's questioning look. A smile began to spread on his lips, but he did his best to suppress it. He wrapped his hands around Rachel's waist and pulled her against him, leaning down to brush his lips against hers.

"Rachel—"

"Finn." Rachel stretched up and cut him off by capturing his lips in a deep, passionate kiss. Before she could pull away completely, Finn scooped Rachel up into his arms and quickly climbed the stairs. Rachel threw her arms around his neck and giggled the entire way.

Rachel's room was closer, so Finn went there first. He carried her over to the bed and laid her out on it. Hovering over her, Finn began to place soft kisses down Rachel's neck. She moaned and tilted her head back, allowing him more access to her soft skin.

Finn slid his hands under Rachel's dress, pushing it up until he felt the smooth skin of her stomach. Rachel tugged on his shirt until he got the hint and pulled it off. She took a moment to admire his chiseled chest and arms, her eyes lingering on the tattoo that circled his bicep. Finn leaned down to kiss her again and slowly pulled the dress up her body, leaving her in only a lacy pair of panties. They only separated when Finn tugged the dress over her head.

He stared down at her, his eyes dark and intent. He slid a hand up to cup her cheek, his thumb brushing against it. "You're so beautiful, Rachel," he murmured. He brushed his lips gently across hers, and the words came out of his mouth as easily as breathing. "I love you."

Rachel beamed at him and linked her hands behind his neck, pulling him down to kiss him again. "I love you, too," she whispered when they parted.

Finn grinned before he kissed her deeply. His hands slid up her stomach to cup her breasts, his thumbs flicking over her nipples. Rachel moaned and Finn kissed down her neck and lightly bit on her collar bone. When he reached her breast, he swiped his tongue over her nipple before his lips closed around it. Rachel cried his name out, locking her fingers into his hair as he lavished attention to first one breast and then the other.

Rachel tugged Finn back up to her mouth and slipped her hands between their bodies to wrap her fingers around his hard length. Finn groaned into her mouth, his hips pushing into her hand. She wrapped her legs around his waist, pulling him closer. Finn surged forward, pushing into her. Rachel cried out, her fingers digging into his shoulders.

Finn held still for as long as he could, allowing Rachel to adjust to his size. When she reached up to kiss him again, Finn began to thrust slowly into her. Rachel's hips lifted to meet his, her legs tightening around him and drawing him closer.

"Finn," Rachel moaned. She dragged her nails down his back as she came closer and closer to her peak. Finn growled into her neck before he sucked on her pulse point. His tongue laved over the mark he just made as his thrusts became more erratic.

Rachel clutched at Finn's shoulder as she fell over the edge, screaming his name the entire time. Two thrusts later and Finn was following her, gripping her hips tightly. When they could finally catch their breaths, Finn rolled to his side and Rachel followed, snuggling against him.

"I love you," she said again as she smiled sweetly up at him.

Finn closed his eyes before he pressed his lips to Rachel's forehead. "I love you, too."


twenty.

When Finn woke the next morning, Rachel was sprawled across his chest. He smiled when he saw her and gently traced his fingers down her face, brushing her hair away from her closed eyes. The burden of his secret weighed down on him once again, and he closed his eyes.

Finn had no idea what he was doing. He was just keeping a promise he made to his best friend, Puck. Finn hadn't planned on falling for Puck's little sister in the process. But nothing could have prepared Finn for Rachel Berry.

He had to tell her soon. He loved Rachel and found himself wanting to spend the rest of his life with her. He couldn't do that if he didn't tell her everything.

But was it so bad for him to want to hold onto this for a little while longer? He wanted to keep things the way that they were, and he couldn't imagine how that would change once Rachel and her family found out about his true connection to them.

Before he could give more thought to the situation, Rachel stirred on his chest. She yawned and stretched, causing certain parts of Finn's body to awaken further. A smile formed on her face and she ran her hands down his chest.

"Good morning," she murmured. Finn tilted her chin up so that he could press a kiss to her lips.

"Morning," he mumbled into her mouth. "How are you?"

"I'm amazing." Rachel kissed him again. "I'm completely amazing."

Finn chuckled. "You certainly think highly of yourself, don't you?"

"I seem to remember you calling me amazing more than once."

"That's because you are amazing, Rach."

Rachel just smirked and sat up, straddling him. She rested her hands on his chest and shook her hair away from his face. Finn slid his hands up Rachel's side, watching her with dark eyes. She ground her hips into his a little bit, and Finn groaned.

As Rachel leaned down to kiss him again, Finn pushed away his errant thoughts. Yeah, he would tell her later.


twenty-one.

Rachel let out a shriek as Finn chased her around the kitchen. She nearly slipped in one of the spots of flour on the floor, but she managed to right herself just in time. Finn immediately changed course and tried to swipe at Rachel with the wooden spoon laden down with pancake batter.

"Finn!"

Finn just laughed and managed to catch Rachel around the waist. She laughed and pretending to struggle against him. "Don't you dare, Finn Hudson!"

"Too late!" He dabbed the batter covered spoon on her nose and they both completely dissolved into laughter. It was only disrupted when they heard a knock on the front door.

Both Finn and Rachel had been busy over the past two weeks. So when Rachel's fathers had taken a long weekend for a vacation, Finn and Rachel decided to take advantage of the situation and spend a weekend together. They hadn't really been expecting any visitors (given that Rachel had threatened all of her friends if they had tried to bother her at all).

"I can't answer the door," Rachel said immediately. "I'm only wearing your t-shirt!"

Finn pointed to himself. "I'm only wearing shorts and I'm covered in flour."

"Well, that's what you get for starting that food fight. And I'm not wearing any underwear!"

"You win." Finn did his best to clean himself off and then managed to find one of his sweaters. He pulled it on as he made his way to the front door. He didn't know who he was expecting to show up, but it certainly wasn't the two people he found on the other side of the front door.

"Sasquatch, why do you have flour on your face?"

Finn blanched. "Santana?"

"That's kind of gross, Finn."

Finn's mouth dropped open. So he hadn't been imaging things. They were really here. "Kurt?"

"So this is where you're staying?" Santana asked. Without giving Finn a chance to actually comprehend the fact that one of his close friends and his brother were standing on the front porch, they pushed past him and into the house. "These are some pretty nice digs."

Finn was still staring after them in complete shock. Before he realized what was happening, Rachel was stepping into view. She was still wearing only his t-shirt, and she was covered in flour as well. Kurt raised his eyebrows and Santana pointed a finger at Rachel.

"Lady Hummel, look!" Santana exclaimed. "That's the girl that Finn was telling me about!"

Finn closed his eyes. This was going to be a very long day.


twenty-two.

"So that's your brother and your friend from home?" Rachel finished brushing her hair and set the brush aside as she turned to face Finn. Once Finn had made the introductions, they had both gone upstairs to make themselves a little more presentable.

"Yeah, they are." Finn still couldn't believe that they had just shown up. He had at least thought that they were going to call before they visited New York. Apparently not.

"Oh." Rachel bit her lip as she watched Finn. He still looked as if he was in shock, and Rachel wasn't sure why he was feeling that way. "Is everything alright?"

"What? I mean, yeah. Everything is fine." He forced a smile on his face and took Rachel's hand. He relaxed when he felt her slip his fingers between his, twining them together. Finn lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. She smiled at him and everything suddenly felt a little bit better.

They made their way downstairs together. Kurt and Santana were standing in the entrance hallway, looking at all of the pictures of the Berry family. Finn internally winced when he saw them studying a picture that had Puck in it—they both knew that Puck was Finn's best friend. What they didn't know was that Rachel didn't know that.

When Kurt and Santana heard Finn and Rachel join them, they turned to them and both opened their mouths at the same time. Finn quickly but subtly shook his head. Thankfully, Kurt and Santana seemed to get the hint and both fell quiet.

"So how long have the two of you been together?" Kurt asked as they all went into the kitchen.

"About two months now," Rachel answered as she pulled cups out of the cabinet for everyone.

Finn pulled a pitcher of iced tea out of the fridge and brought it over to Rachel. She smiled at him and thanked him with a kiss on the cheek. Finn noticed Kurt and Santana share a look, and he glared at them when Rachel was distracted with serving everyone's drinks.

Eventually, the four of them sat down and had an actual conversation. Finn smiled when he saw Rachel responding to Santana's teasing with no problem at all. Rachel even bonded with Kurt over their shared love of performing. Seeing how easily they all got along made him smile. Once again, he found himself thinking about how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Rachel.

Rachel offered both Santana and Kurt rooms to stay in at the house. She went upstairs to get them settled, but she stopped to kiss Finn before she left. He smiled at her as she disappeared before he turned back towards his friend and brother.

"Finn," Kurt said as soon as Rachel was out of earshot. "What have you done?"


twenty-three.

"So wait a second. You haven't told Rachel that you know Puck yet?"

"No, I haven't."

"And Puck is Rachel's older brother."

"Yes."

"Finn! You idiot!"

Finn scowled and rubbed the back of his head after Santana had hit it. He was currently at some restaurant with her and Kurt. Rachel had insisted on giving them some time to catch up together, so she had gone to hang out with Mercedes and Tina. Finn really wished that she was there, though, since that meant he wouldn't be getting interrogated by Kurt and Santana.

Kurt shook his head. "I can't believe you haven't told her yet, Finn. What is she going to say when she finds out?"

"Why do you think I haven't told her yet?" Finn demanded. "Each time I imagine what her reaction is going to be, it gets worse and worse. I don't…" He closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to his temple. "I really love her. I don't want to lose her."

"So you're just not going to tell her about why you even showed up here in the first place," Santana deadpanned. "That's a really bad idea, Finn."

"As far as she knows, I was just looking for a job. I don't even know what to say to her at this point." Finn dragged his hands through his hair in frustration. "I can't lose her. She's the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I found her in the middle of this whole mess and…" Finn trailed off while Kurt and Santana shared a concerned look.

"You have to tell her soon, Finn," Santana said after a long moment. "Nothing good is going to come from keeping this a secret. She deserves to know."

Finn looked up at them with glassy eyes. "Rachel does deserve to know that it's my fault her brother is missing," he admitted. His voice was heavy and laden with pain. "I never want to see her get hurt but if I do this… It will hurt her."


twenty-four.

Rachel traced little patterns over Finn's bare chest. She had been spending her nights retreating up to Finn's apartment. It actually worked out quite well, really. She was able to kind of get away from the world and just spend time with Finn.

"Did you have a good time today?" Rachel asked. She knew that Finn missed his brother, friends, and the rest of his family. Even though he had seemed surprised by their visit, Rachel knew that he was glad that they had shown up.

"I did," Finn said absently as he stroked his hand over her back. He was quiet for a moment before he suddenly said, "Rachel, I have something to tell you."

Rachel tilted her head up to look at him. "Okay."

Finn stared down at her before he cupped her cheek and pressed his lips to hers. His kiss was deep and loving, but there was a sort of desperation behind it that Rachel didn't know what to make of. When he pulled away, he sat up and tugged Rachel up with him.

"Do you remember when I first came here?" Finn asked.

"Of course I do." Rachel smiled but then she noticed the look on his face. She reached out and pressed her fingers to his chest. "Finn, what's going on? Are you okay?"

Finn's hand covered hers, and he gripped her fingers tightly. "Rachel, I love you."

"I love you too, Finn. Now will you please just tell me? You're scaring me."

Finn took a deep breath before he finally said, "I know Puck."

Rachel's brow furrowed as she processed Finn's words. "You know Puck? As in… Noah? My brother, Noah Puckerman?" Finn slowly nodded his head, and she just gave him a confused look. "But I don't understand. Why didn't you say anything before?"

Finn's grip tightened on her hand. "Because I don't just know Puck. We were in the army together. We were in the same team. Rachel, he was my best friend."

Rachel could only stare at Finn. As she watched him, she remembered a letter Puck had sent during his first tour: "…And I met this really cool dude named Hudson. We've pretty much decided to ban together and become the biggest bad asses in our troop."

Finn was still talking. It was as if he couldn't stop. "I was on that mission with him. The one where he was captured, I mean." Rachel gasped, and Finn's eyes clouded over. "He was hurt, and I was there and I tried to help him but he wouldn't let me and then another bomb went off and he was captured and… It's my fault. It's all my fault." His voice dropped to a whisper. "God, Rachel. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

Rachel stared at her hand wrapped in his. Finn's eyes followed her gaze and he suddenly dropped her hand and jumped out of the bed. He gripped his hair in his hands as he watched her, waiting for her to say something.

"Please, Rachel," Finn whispered after several long moments had passed in silence. "Please say something. Yell at me. Hit me, even. I don't care. Just say something."

Rachel couldn't wrap her mind around what she was hearing. She looked at her hands before she looked up at Finn. It was only when she heard his sharp intake of breath did she realize that she was crying. Finn reached out and touched her cheek, grazing his fingers across it gently before he backed away.

"I'll leave," Finn said. He slipped out of the room and quietly shut the door behind him, leaving Rachel alone with her thoughts.


twenty-five.

It had been hours since she had seen Finn. Rachel had searched all over the house and the nearby neighborhood for him, but he was nowhere to be found. Rachel was getting frustrated and worried. All she wanted to do was see him again, try and figure out and work through what was happening. The look of devastation on his face as he had walked away from her earlier that night had broken her heart. She never wanted to see him look like that again.

Finally giving up, she returned back to the house and immediately made her way towards Kurt and Santana's guest rooms. She knocked on both of their doors repeatedly until they opened.

"Where is Finn?" Rachel demanded as soon as Kurt and Santana appeared.

"What happened, Rachel?" Kurt asked. His brow was furrowed in concern as he took in her frantic appearance.

Rachel didn't know how to explain what had happened, so she said the only thing she could think of. "Finn knows Noah," she said quietly.

"Oh." Santana sighed. "He told you everything, didn't he?"

"He says that he was there when Noah was captured." Rachel bit her lip. "I just… I don't understand. Why didn't he say anything to me? Why he didn't just tell me what was going on?"

Kurt and Santana shared a look before Kurt finally said, "He was scared of losing you."

"But… but I love him. I wouldn't… I don't understand." Rachel twirled her hair anxiously. "I don't really understand what's going on right now. Finn left before he could tell me the full story. But I love him and I would never leave him."

"Maybe you should tell him that," Santana pointed out.

Rachel tossed a glare towards the Latina. "I would love to tell him that, but I can't find him. So where is he?"

Santana held her hands up. "Chill out, dwarf." Finn had already told her about how Santana assigned insulting nicknames to the people that she knew, so she didn't really acknowledge it. "We'll all look for him."

Rachel nodded her head and quietly thanked them before they all got ready to leave. As they were walking out the front door, Kurt said, "You know that Finn loves you, right? He never wanted to hurt you."

Rachel smiled. "I know."


twenty-six.

For some reason, Rachel found herself at the bakery. And she was glad that she had ended up there, because she found Finn in the kitchen.

He was sitting on the floor with his back against the counter, his head buried in his hands. When he heard Rachel's soft footfalls, he looked up at her with red eyes.

"Rach?" he murmured, his voice hoarse.

"Finn." Rachel sank to her knees in front of him and put her hands on his shoulders. He avoided her gaze but she waited until he finally looked at her once again. "Finn, please tell me what's going on."

"You should hate me," Finn said instead.

Rachel shook her head. "Finn, stop it. I don't hate you, okay? I love you. Just please let me in."

Finn dragged his hands through his hair. "Puck has been my best friend ever since we were in training together. We made a promise that if anything happened to either of us, we would go check up on the other person's family. So when we both got injured, I promised Puck that I would find you and your fathers and make sure that you were okay."

Finn's eyes glossed over again and he took a deep breath. "I was there when we were attacked. I was right there. I could have saved him. I could have done something else, but I didn't. Another attack hit and before I knew it… he was gone and I was in the hospital." He pressed the heel of his hands to his eyes as the tears spilled over. "It's all my fault and I'm so, so sorry Rachel."

Rachel took a deep, shaky breath before she wrapped her fingers around Finn's wrists and tugged his hands away from his face. He looked up at her with broken eyes and Rachel put her hands on either side of Finn's face before she tugged him close and pressed a kiss to his lips.

When they broke apart, Finn blinked at her in surprise. "Rachel, what—?"

"So you know Noah," Rachel said. "And you're best friends with him. You were there when he got injured. To me, it sounds like you did everything you could to save him. And I couldn't ask for more than that, Finn. What happened wasn't your fault."

"But—"

Rachel pressed her fingers to Finn's lips, silencing him immediately. "Finn, stop it. Just stop." She moved her hands so that they were holding his face once again. "I am so glad that Noah made you promise to come check up on us. Because then I never would have met you, and I never would have realized that I belong with you."

A tear rolled down Finn's cheek, and Rachel's heart broke for him. She couldn't imagine what it had been like for him to carry that secret around. While she wished that he would have told her sooner, she couldn't be angry. Rachel loved Finn too much for that. And somehow, in some weird, twisted way, what had happened had brought them together. For the first time in months, Rachel truly believed that everything was going to be okay.

Rachel stood up and reached for Finn's hands, tugging him up with her. She placed her hands on his chest, resting her fingers over his heart. "I love you, Finn. Do you love me too?"

Finn's hands covered hers. "Of course I do. I love you so much, Rachel."

"Okay, then." She smiled at Finn and stretched up on her tiptoes, her lips brushing against his as she spoke. "That's all we need then."

Finn's eyes stared into hers for a long moment before his lips came down over hers again. One hand threaded into her hair and the other pressed to the small of her back, pulling her closer to him. Finn spun them around, lifting Rachel onto the counter and moving to stand between her legs.

As they tugged each other's clothes from their bodies, their hands and lips moved over each other's skin lovingly. Their movements were tender and sweet, and they used their actions to tell each other how much they loved one another.

Rachel breathed Finn's name out as he slipped into her. Her legs tightened around his waist, pulling him closer as her fingers raked down his back. She declared her love for him again as she rocked her hips in time with his thrusts.

Finn held her close and attached his lips to her neck, telling Rachel that he loved her over and over again. It wasn't long before his touch the feel of him inside her caused Rachel to go tumbling over the edge. Feeling Rachel tighten around him made Finn reach completion as well. He held her against him, stroking his hands over her sweaty skin as they both caught their breath.

"Thank you for letting me all the way in, Finn," Rachel whispered.

Finn kissed her temple. "Anything for you, Rachel."


twenty-seven.

It took Rachel's fathers a little while to warm up to the fact that Finn actually knew Puck. Eventually, they relaxed and came to realize that Finn was just trying to do the right thing. He even went so far as to tell them stories about some of the things he and Puck did while they worked together. But he never talked about the day that they had been attacked and Puck had been captured.

Santana and Kurt had stayed for a few more days before they went back to California. Rachel was glad that she had gotten the chance to know them, and Finn told her that (despite the teasing), they both really liked her too.

It was at the end of July, and Rachel was working in the bakery with Finn. Her fathers had taken the day off just to spend some time with each other, but neither Finn nor Rachel minded. They liked working in the bakery together.

Rachel took a cupcake from Finn and began to ice it. Looking down at the dessert, she casually asked, "So have you given any thought to finding a job up here?"

Finn looked over at her with a half-smile lifting his lips. "You mean, besides this one?"

Rachel didn't join in on Finn's teasing mood. "Besides this one," she confirmed. "Maybe a job that you can get with your degree. As a teacher, possibly."

Finn knew exactly where Rachel was going with this. He set the cupcake down and took the one that Rachel was holding, putting that to the side as well. Turning her towards him, he said, "I didn't want to say anything right away, because I haven't exactly heard back from anywhere yet, but… I applied to a few jobs in the area."

"Really?" Rachel tried not to get her hopes up too much. "You want to stay here?"

Finn shrugged his shoulders. "I originally had the job back in Ohio because I thought that I had nowhere else to go, but… then I came here."

Rachel kissed Finn sweetly on the lips. "You really want this?"

Finn wrapped his hands around Rachel's waist and pulled her against him. "Of course I want this. I love you." While Rachel was beaming up at him, Finn discreetly dipped his hand into the icing and then brought his finger up to dab it on Rachel's nose.

She gasped and wiped it off her face. "Finn Hudson!"

Finn laughed and took off from the kitchen. "Just remember that I love you!"


twenty-eight.

Rachel groaned when she heard a knock on the front door. She pulled a pillow over her face and said, "Finn, can you go and get the door? I don't feel like moving right now."

Finn chuckled and tugged the pillow away from Rachel's face. She had just returned from a very grueling dance practice and wanted to lounge around from the rest of the day. He leaned over and placed a kiss on her lips before he walked to the front door.

When he opened it, he thought that he was going to find the delivery guy on the other side. Instead, he saw the last person he had expected to see.

Finn's mouth fell open and he gaped at the person standing in front of him. He could do nothing more than stare. Eventually, it registered in his mind that Rachel was calling his name.

"Finn? Finn, who is it?"

In front of Finn, Noah Puckerman raised an eyebrow. "You're sounding awfully cozy with my little sister, Hudson."

In the living room, something crashed. She quickly ran into the front hall and grabbed Finn's hand as she came to a stop beside him. Her eyes were wide as she stared at Puck, who gave her an amused look.

"Noah?" she finally managed. "Is that really you?"

"Of course it's me, Little Berry," Puck said. "What did you expect?"

Rachel stared at her older brother before she hugged him tightly. "I just… I… How did this happen?"

Puck pushed past the pair and made his way into the living room. He waited until they eventually caught up and followed him as well before he decided to explain his story.

"Eventually, I was rescued," Puck began. "Our guys did a raid where they were holding me and they got me. I've spent the past month or so recovering at the base hospital."

Finally, Finn managed to find his words. "Why didn't they say anything? It's been almost two months and they could have said something."

"I'm sorry, Finn," Puck finally said. "But I was in a pretty bad place and you had to have clearance and they took a hell of a long time to debrief me." He shrugged his shoulders. "It was all very hush-hush."

Finn swallowed hard. "I'm sorry, Puck."

Rachel reached over and took Finn's hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing tightly. Puck didn't miss the action and tilted his head and he watched them.

"You know, I thought I told you to check up on my family," Puck said. "Not bone my little sister."


twenty-nine.

The family reunion between Puck, Hiram, Leroy, and Rachel had been very heartwarming. Finn had not wanted to intrude, but they had all insisted on him being there. Eventually, Hiram and Leroy went to go tell the rest of their family members that Puck had come home. Rachel went to go and prepare Quinn for the news (she hadn't yet told Puck that Quinn was pregnant). Now Puck was waiting for the okay to go and see Quinn in the kitchen. Finn joined him, and Puck smirked.

"You know that I was just giving you shit earlier, right?" Puck said. "I can't say that I really ever imagined you getting with my sister, but I'm happy for the two of you."

Finn smiled faintly. "I really love her."

"I know you do. So I guess that I'm glad I was able to help get the two of you get together. You know, I expect you to name your first kid after me." When Finn didn't laugh, Puck's sighed. "Alright, dude. Just tell me why you're being so weird."

Finn dragged his hands through his hair. "It's my fault that you got captured, remember?" Despite everything that Rachel and the rest of his friends and family had said to convince him otherwise, Finn still felt as if the whole thing was his fault.

"That is the most ridiculous fucking thing I've ever heard," Puck said.

Finn looked up at him. "What?"

"Dude, it wasn't your fault. We were attacked. And if I remember correctly, you were trying to help me before you we were attacked again and you were injured, too. It's not your fault that I was captured. So just let it go, okay?"

This was going to be the extent of their conversation. Puck knew that it wasn't Finn's fault at all, and he didn't want to talk about it anymore. Finn always had a huge hero complex and was always trying to shoulder responsibility. Puck punched Finn in the shoulder to lighten the mood in the room.

"Also, if you do anything to hurt my little sister, I'll kick your ass. So… yeah."

Finn finally let out a real chuckle. "That was a weak threat, man."

"Rachel is my little sister and you're my best bro. I mean, you obviously know that I will severely hurt you if you do anything to Rachel, but I don't want to talk about it. There are some things that I just don't need to know."


thirty.

Rachel had just stepped out of the shower when Finn went up behind her and squeezed her waist. Rachel shrieked in surprise and jumped, whipping around to face her boyfriend.

"Finn!" she exclaimed. She pushed on his chest as he let out a laugh. "That wasn't funny!"

"Yes it was." He bent to kiss her before he said, "I have a surprise for you."

"Oooh, really?" Rachel's eyes lit up and she clapped her hands. "Is it a present?"

"Kind of." Finn held his hands out. "You're looking at Everton Private School's newest elementary level music teacher."

"What?" Rachel gasped and squealed before she threw her arms around Finn's neck. "Finn, that's amazing!"

"They just called. I start at the beginning of this new school year."

Rachel reached up to kiss Finn deeply before she tugged his shirt over his head. She quickly unbuckled his jeans and pushed them down his legs as she kissed his chest.

Finn groaned before he managed to say, "Rach, what are you doing?"

Rachel smiled coyly up at Finn. "You just got a new job, and now we're going to celebrate." Once Finn was stripped of his clothes, Rachel stepped back and let the towel that was wrapped around her body drop. Finn's eyes went dark as he stared at her, and she reached behind her to turn the shower back on.

"Are you coming?" Rachel asked playfully.

Finn immediately followed Rachel into the shower and lifted her up, pressing her against the wall as she giggled.


after.

"Someone help me stand up."

Finn was immediately by Rachel's side, grabbing her hands in order to help her up. As soon as she was on her feet, Finn slid his hands over the large bump protruding from Rachel's stomach. He smiled when he felt a little foot press against his hand.

Rachel, for her part, just groaned and pressed her hand to her back. She felt as big as a house and thought that she was about to burst at any moment. She was only a few days away from her due date at this point. "Ugh, that was a kidney shot."

"That's because he's going to be a football player," Finn said with a grin. He kissed Rachel before he crouched to press a kiss to Rachel's round stomach. "I love you."

Rachel smiled. A few words from Finn made her feel so much better. "I love you, too."

It was then that the front door to their house swung open. Puck came in, followed by Kurt. Kurt had somehow talked Finn and Rachel into hosting a dinner that night. Kurt was here to decorate, and he had brought Quinn with him. For some reason, Puck had decided to come along early as well.

"So how is baby Puck junior?" he asked when he caught sight of his little sister and her husband.

Rachel scowled at Puck. "Noah, I don't know how many times that I have to tell you: we're not naming the baby Noah, much less Puck! We already have a name picked out for him." She didn't dare mention that Noah was the baby's middle name. The baby's full name was going to be Austin Noah Hudson, but only she and Finn knew that.

"I'm kind of the reason that the two of you are even together," Puck pointed out. "I deserve to have that baby be named after me. Especially since I'm going to be a kick-ass uncle."

Finn rolled his eyes. "Puck, just let it go." The last thing he needed was for Puck to stress Rachel out even more.

"I'm just saying…"

Kurt pushed his way between them. "Puckerman, we have more important things to worry about right now. Like this dinner spread that I have to set up! Chop chop, let's get going!"

Finn immediately noticed that Rachel's face was turning an interesting shade of red. Wrapping one arm around her waist and then taking one of her hands, Finn guided Rachel up the stairs and into their room.

"Just calm down, Rachel," Finn said as he rubbed her back soothingly. He pulled her close and pressed a kiss to her temple before he kissed her gently on the lips.

Rachel groaned again and rested her head on Finn's chest. Her baby bump pressed between them, and Finn cradled it between his large hands, his thumbs rubbing over it soothingly. "I just want to have this baby already. I love him, but I just want him out of here." Looking down at her stomach, Rachel exclaimed, "Get out of my belly!"

Finn kept one hand on her stomach and moved the other around to her back, where he began to massage her tense muscles gently. Rachel moaned in appreciation and closed her eyes.

"Everything is going to be okay," Finn said. "In a few days we're going to have a beautiful baby boy."

Rachel opened her eyes and beamed at Finn. "I love you. You always know what to make me say to feel better."

Finn kissed Rachel again. "Anything for you, baby. Are you ready to go downstairs?"

Rachel nodded her head and took Finn's hand. "Let's just hope that I don't go into labor in the middle of dinner. Kurt would kill me!"

Finn let out a chuckle and nodded his head in agreement. They shared another kiss before they went downstairs to join their friends and family.

Four hours later, Finn wasn't laughing—and neither was Rachel. It turns out that Rachel did go into labor during the dinner. It was in the early hours of the morning when Austin Noah Hudson born. Kurt had nearly thrown a hissy fit when Rachel had gone into labor, but everyone had managed to calm him down enough and actually convinced him to move the dinner to the hospital waiting room.

When little Austin was cleaned and bundled up in a blue blanket, Rachel watched from her spot on the bed as Finn cradled him. He had been so scared that he would do something wrong with their new baby, but Rachel had complete faith in him. He was so gentle with their son as he stood by the side of the bed.

Finn looked down at Rachel and smiled, reaching down to take one of her hands. She gave him a mega-watt smile of her own and settled back on the bed. This was her life now, and she couldn't have imagined anything better.


Author's Note: A little bit of angst, a little bit of fluff. Anyway, I hope that you all enjoyed this. Thanks for reading! :)