Friday night turned into a few weeks turned into the rest of the year. By the time graduation rolled around, Finn and Quinn's third try at a relationship had six solid weeks under its belt and Puck was proud of the two months he had spent as Rachel Berry's boyfriend. The four of them were actually friends, best friends, in a way that Rachel could have never hoped for on the first day of her freshman year of high school. She had the head cheerleader as her best friend, the Most Athletic senior as her boyfriend, a prominent National Show Choir trophy at home on her bookcase and a pair of plane tickets that would take her and Noah away to New York City three weeks after they crossed the stage at McKinley.
Their performance had been flawless really. Kurt's solo had brought the house down from the very beginning, and things had only gotten better from there. A powerful group number had given way to the emotional duet she had perfected with Noah over many days of strict practice (that was rewarded with some very positive reinforcement on both their parts). When the confetti had fallen and she had been handed the much-coveted MVP trophy, Rachel had looked at her friends and the stage and known that she had left everything out there. She had done everything she had wanted to do during her time in high school, and now she was ready to say goodbye.
Graduation passed by in a blur. Quinn's valedictorian speech was the right mix of nostalgic and inspirational, not leaving a dry eye among the women filling the packed bleachers on a perfect May afternoon. They had all posed for photographs afterward in different combinations, her with Blaine and Kurt, Puck tucked between Mike and Sam. There was one of Quinn perched on Artie's knee and Brittany and Finn making faces at Carole behind the camera. There were shots of Quinn resting her head on Finn's shoulder while they talked to Santana and Rachel laughing at something Puck and Tina had just said. They were these moments in time frozen in matching black and pewter frames that now lined the bay window in her New York loft. Puck picked up the one of them with Quinn and Finn at least once a day. He never really said it, but she knew that he missed them.
It wasn't like they were out of touch. In fact, it was quite the opposite. One or the other of them was constantly texting Finn between classes or catching up with Quinn while waiting for the subway to come. They did their best to visit a lot that first year, and when that didn't work out, there were always breaks in Lima for them to catch up. And it wasn't just the girls that were the friends and then the guys. Puck talked to Quinn quite regularly, and the two of them had even gone to see Beth alone while they were home for the winter break. Finn and Rachel liked to watch some show that Puck and Quinn couldn't bother to be interested in, so they had a dedicated hour of quality phone time every Thursday night.
"Hey, Rach, can I ask you something?" Finn said one night while their show was on a commercial break. She could picture him in New Haven alone in the tiny little apartment he had near Quinn's dorm. The two of them were going to get a bigger place together the next year. "Do you think we're still the same as we were?"
Rachel smiled at his innocent question. It was so like Finn to think of things in such simple terms. "No, not really, Finn," she told him honestly. "A lot of times I think that I'm just somebody that I used to know. I didn't expect it all to end up like this, you know. It wasn't part of my plan. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with Noah and my life in New York, but it's not at all what I thought it would be when I thought about my future."
"Yeah, I think stuff is like that with Quinn and me," he agreed. She could hear the hesitation in his voice and knew that he was likely confused. Deep conversations tended to do that to him, and she truly hoped he never lost that part of his gigantically good heart. "I still think we'll have a lot of that stuff though, the kids and the house and stuff in Lima. She still wants to go home again someday. I like the idea of that, I belong in Ohio."
That had always been a fundamental difference between them, and Rachel was happy that he had found someone who loved that part of Finn. "I'm glad you guys are happy together, Finn. I know it hasn't always been easy with us, with all of us, but we had to go through all of that for this to work now."
"Alright, enough talking," Finn chuckled. "The show is back on. Now, do you think…"
Finn plugged his phone into the charger after the credits had rolled and he had ended his call with Rachel. He went into his bedroom where Quinn was spread out with her English notes and a stack of books she had been reading all semester. "How's Rachel?" she asked from behind her glasses. Her blonde hair was longer than it had been senior year, more like it had been when they'd first gotten together. "Puck driving her nuts yet?"
"They're happy, just like us," he smiled as he tossed his dirty clothes into a plastic laundry basket in the corner and pulled on a pair of sweats. He leaned down and kissed Quinn briefly before disappearing into the bathroom to brush his teeth. "Do you have to work much longer?"
"No, I think my brain is fried for tonight," she replied. "I talked to Puck earlier too, by the way. Shelby asked if we wanted to come out over Spring Break to see Beth hunt Easter eggs. I think we're going to go. He's going to invite Rach, I was hoping that you'd come with us too."
"Yeah," she smiled shyly. "You're both my family now. I want her to know you. You were the first guy who ever really loved her, you know."
"Her and her mommy," Finn said softly as he came back into the bedroom. Her books were stacked on the floor now, her glasses stowed away on the nightstand. "I would love to go with you."
"You know I can't wait until we live together all the time, right?" she asked rhetorically as he slid into his side of the bed. She rolled over and tucked her head into his chest, his arm finding her way around her back. "I hate sleeping without you and it's really inconvenient having half my stuff in the dorm."
Finn reached over and flicked off the lamp before pressing a kiss into her silky hair. "Only a few more months," he reminded her. They had initially thought about staying there for the summer, but Finn really wanted to go back to Ohio to spend time with Kurt and their parents. Quinn was going to come with him on the condition that they sublet the Jones' house while they went on tour with Mercedes for the summer. "Ready to sleep now?"
"Yes, please," she yawned, snuggling further into the crook of his arm. "Love you, Finn."
"I love you, too, Q."
A few hours away in New York, Puck was just getting home from the bar. He had played the earlier set tonight so he could spend time with Rachel. His guitar case thudded on their wooden floor loudly, but she didn't seem to care as she came racing into the kitchen to meet him. He lifted her easily off the floor and buried his nose in her hair. "Happy to see me, babe?"
"Always," she smiled before grabbing his wrist and pulling him over to the kitchen island to feed him. He had somehow gotten used to Rachel's weird vegan food, especially when he figured out that barbecue and marinara sauces could cover up a lot of the strange tastes. Besides, there was always food he could steal at the bar between shifts singing or tending.
"Good, the show was great," she grinned. "Quinn's going to ask him about going to see Beth."
"I'm so glad you agreed to see your mom."
"To see Shelby," she corrected him. "Besides, I haven't seen Beth in way too long. My dads are also glad that I am coming home since they weren't able to make it to New York for Passover."
"Yeah, Ma and Sarah have both been on me about stuff," he admitted. "That all seems to go away when I show up with you on my arm. I hope Ma makes brisket, you have no idea how much I miss meat."
Rachel laughed as he spooned a big bite of squash into his mouth. "Yeah, you're going to have to share that one with Finn."
"Duh, babe, Finn always comes over for brisket night," he reminded her. A minute later his phone was ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket and chuckled softly. "What's up Q?"
"Your best friend is snoring," she muttered fondly. "I tried to roll him over but he won't stop. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that Finn is going to come with us. I assume that Rachel's in?"
"Yeah, sure thing," he promised. "I was thinking before that maybe we could go get her a present or something, just the two of us. Shelby said she's really into that Sofia Princess chick."
"Sofia the First, right," Quinn remembered. "Sounds good, we'll work on the details when we get home."
"Sounds good, Q, you should try to get some sleep," he said as he looked over at where Rachel was watching him. "Just put a pillow over his face until he wakes up. It always worked when we were kids."
"I am not smothering my boyfriend, Puck!"
"Your loss," he deadpanned. "Bye, Quinn!"
He laughed to himself before he threw his phone back on the counter. He scarfed down the rest of his food in a few bites and then loaded the dirty plate into the dishwasher. After making sure that his guitar was out of the way, he slid behind Rachel and wrapped her arms around her tiny waist. "You look exhausted, babe, you want to go to bed?"
"Yeah, I was just waiting up for you anyhow."
"I like coming home to you," he murmured as he led her down the hall. Neither of them bothered with pajamas as they pulled away the layers until he was clad in only his boxers and her in her panties and a thin camisole. She settled on the right side of the bed while he took out his contacts in front of the mirror.
Rachel finished rubbing in her hand lotion while Puck rearranged the pillows in the same certain way that he did every night. "You know, Finn asked me a funny question."
"Oh, yeah, what did Finnessa have to say this time?"
"He asked if I thought we were all the same people."
"What did you say?"
"I said that sometimes I feel like somebody that I used to know. What do you think?"
He thought for a moment before tucking an arm behind his head. "I think that there are a lot of things that are different, but at the root of it, we're still the same people we always were. Quinn's always going to need to be at the top. She thrives on being respected and thought of as pretty. She's sweet and faithful and a little bit twisted. Even with all the really great stuff that has changed about her, that's still her essence."
"And Finn, dude, he's still so innocent. He is guillible and unconditionally kind and just accepts people for who they are. He'll forgive me anything, even if I don't deserve it. He's always been like that, even when neither of us thought that he was," Puck went on. "And you, babe, you need to be the best. Not that you aren't, but you need people to know it too. You're driven, determined, so talented. But beneath all that, there's always that tiny sliver of hesitation. I think you don't want to lose it either because you know it makes you want to be better."
"And me, hell, I don't know," he chuckled. "I'm still trying to be anything but like my father. I build up walls, I pout when things don't go my way. I'm cocky and stubborn. We're all four all of these things, but now, that's not all that we are. So, yeah, maybe I'm just somebody that I used to know, but I'm also so much more. You guys probably more than anyone helped me get there. I like who I am now, but I'm glad that I'm still a little bit the same."
"Me too," she said before bussing him on the cheek. "Now, sleep, I have an early class. Love you, Noah."
"I love you too, Rachel."
Author's Note: Big thank you to everyone who has read this story. I hope you will check out the other series I just started, "Not Like Us."