end of the line: part 1/3
Title: End of the Line; Part 1/3
Rating: PG to R-ish in later parts.
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. Some other genius does. I only own a billion dollar necklace from Greece that some cute Greek boy talked me into buying. His ringtone was Mamma Mia, I couldn't help myself. Anyways... I don't own Glee.
Spoilers: None really. Takes place in the future, but isn't based on any spoilers. Everything up until The Rhodes Not Taken has happened (and Quinn has not yet become human-like).
Summary: It's homecoming at McKinley High. Surprises and revelations occur.
Pairings: Rachel/Finn (I suppose there are some Rachel/Puck; Puck/Quinn undertones).
Author's Note: This is my first Glee fic. It's a little tough getting into Rachel and Finn's head and they're tough characters to write for, but I attempted, so here goes nothing.
At McKinley High, homecoming is a big deal.
In a town as small as Lima, the students who live through the drudgeries of small town life anticipate the arrival of homecoming all fall to serve as entertainment. There's not much else to look forward to, so they hold out hope that one night can be the greatest night of their lives.
Everyone looks forward to homecoming.
Everyone except Rachel Berry.
The pomp and circumstance for something as ordinary as a school dance only makes her hate them more. She doesn't want to be associated with something so small, so ordinary. She's desitned for greater things. Things much greater than a homecoming dance at her small town high school.
Besides, she knows it's just another oppurtunity for those to hate her to terrorize her further and she'd rather not give them the chance.
She knows that when she's famous in the not-too-distant future there will be an endless supply of parties. Parties filled with dancing and lovely, classical music. With real china and silver. With champagne and caviar. That's what she's holding out for. There will be plenty of time to put on a pretty dress and do her hair when she's famous.
Homecoming means nothing to Rachel Berry.
But when she looks at herself in her bedroom mirror, her hair in gentle waves around her face and the red dress Kurt picked out hugging her body, she cant help but feel the butterflies in her stomach at the thought of actually having to go to a school dance.
Against her better judgement, Rachel agreed to go to homecoming with the first boy who asked her.
With the help of Kurt and Mercedes, she picked out a dress - a form fitting red number that she never would have chosen herself - and did her hair and makeup. While she knew she could do all three (she was planning on being on the best dressed list when she was famous, after all) they volunteered to help make her look gorgeous and she wasn't able to refuse them. And she admits, they did a good job.
When she sees herself in the mirror for the first time, she barely recognizes herself. Shiny
hair in dark waves. Smoky, smoldering eyes. Pale, glossy lips.
Kurt and Mercedes declare her a success and gush over just how beautiful their experiment turned out.
Rachel agrees as she waits for the doorbell to sound, nervous her date will stand her up. She expects as much from him. She's almost looking forward to Watching Funny Girl all night, crying in her bedroom. She'd only be sorry Kurt and Mercedes wasted their time on a lost cause.
The doorbell finally sounds - only ten minutes late - and he's actually there to take her to homecoming. He's even wearing a suit, but his tie is missing and his shirt is wrinkled, but she looks past all of that because he actually came.
He even brings her a crumpled flower as a corsage. It's a white rose. Rachel thinks roses are predictable and trite, but she thanks him all the same. She's so overcome that he even thought to bring her something she has trouble remembering why she thought roses were overrated.
She thinks he's even about to mumble out that she looks beautiful. The way he looks her over with wide, approving eyes makes her believe that's exactly what he's thinking, but he isn't able to say the words. Instead, he smiles. It's a small victory.
They drive to the dance in silence. He only looks at the road and she watches him. The way his hands clench the steering wheel tightly and the way his jaw is hardened. Sometimes, in moments like these, she wonders what happened to make him this way. She almost feels sorry for him.
Then she remembers why she's with him at all.
Rachel knows Puck only asked her to the dance as a joke. Or a bet. Or a dare.
She considers he even asked her to make someone else jealous, but that thought is fleeting as she knows there are dozens of other girls who would do a far better job.
Either way, he's not taking her because he cares about her or because he's alturistic in any way. He's doing it because he can get something out of it. Whether that be her complete humiliation or a large sum of money.
Rachel knows this. Yet she still agreed to go.
Rachel also knows Finn will be there, Quinn undoubtedly at his side. And she is gluten for punishment and cannot resist seeing them together.
Or at least seeing Finn. Her heart begins to accelerate at just the thought.
Try as she might, Finn still has that affect over her. She loses words when he's around. He makes her flustered and giddy and sad all at the same time. All culminating in the most wonderful, dizzying effect.
She tried to dislike him. She's tried to be mad at him. But when he looks at her with those puppy dog eyes or talks to her in that low , gravely voice, she cant help but fall for him all over again.
There have been moments between them in the weeks leading up to homecoming. Unforgettable, undeniable moments. Moments spent in the dim, still of an empty theatre. Moments in the dark, chilly parking lot. Moments in the dusky, empty space behind the bleachers.
She knows it's wrong.
Finn is attached to someone else. With a baby on the way, he's a little more than attached. No matter what should happen between Quinn and Finn, they will be connected forever because of the child they share and Rachel cannot forget that.
Not even when he's kissing her so sweetly and unspoken, broken promises of their future linger between them in the stillness, the dimness, of those stolen moments.
She tried to avoid him. Tried to stay mad at him when she learned he lied to her and that he was having a baby with Quinn. She tried to tell herself that she didn't need to compromise herself - her impending stardom - on a boy whose heart belongs to someone else.
But when he kisses her, she almost believes his heart's within her reach.
The pull is much too strong to try to resist for long. And she finds herself succumbing each and every time he comes to her.
When Rachel and Puck arrive at the dance, Rachel opens all her own doors, but Puck remains aloofly at her side. He stays close - almost close enough to touch her - but says nothing at all.
They enter the auditorium where the dance is being held and Rachel is insantly assaulted with the sights and sounds of the homecoming dance. Tragically, it is exactly as she imagined. Loud, bad music is playing. Tacky, bright decoratons are hung around the room trying to give the normally bland space some cheer.
It's all so ordinary that Rachel instantly regrets coming.
There is a sea of students. They are catapulted instantly within its grips. Rachel recognizes few faces and they don't seem to recognize her either. She's not sure if it's the makeup or the fact that Puck is still at her side or if it's because she suddenly blends in with the rest of them.
Her worst nightmare come true. She wants to struggle back through the crowd and forget she ever came.
But she doesn't. She blindly follows Puck through the crowd. At one point, he takes hold of her arm, his fingers curling tightly around her wrist to steer her in the right direction; to keep her with him.
She isn't sure of his desination until she catches a glimpse of a blonde in yellow - bright and beautiful. She stands out easily.
Rachel knows she's beautiful. All stars are beautiful. There have been few moments in her life that she has ever doubted that fact. When she is in the same room with Quinn accounts for over half of those moments.
"Puck," Rachel begins to protest, trying to pull away from the grip he has on her. "Maybe we shouldn't..."
He only tightens his grip, continuing to pull her along with him, towards where Quinn stands. He glances back at her and she almost thinks he says, "it's okay" above the music. But it's so loud that she cant be sure.
She knows he is taking her towards Quinn. She can only assume Finn will be at her side like he normally is these days.
Well, except for when he breaks free to be with her. To kiss her. To hug her. To squeeze her hand.
They sing together. Sometimes she thinks that's all they have left. When she gets a sad song (her favorite kind) she's so heartbroken that she sings right to Finn and hopes that he can hear her pain through her voice.
When she first lays eyes on Finn, her heart drops. He looks just as dapper as she imagined he would in a black suit with a silk black tie. His shirt's even pressed, unlike her date's. But that's not what causes the freefall of her heart, it's the sight of his hand protectively on the small of Quinn's back.
"Hey," Puck calls out to his friends, who stand in a semi-circle near the back of the room where it's quieter.
While Rachel knows all of their faces, she even sings with some of them in glee, she would not call any of them, save Finn, a friend. They usually make her feel uncomfortable, unwanted. It's only on stage that she ever feels comfortable in their midst. But when she passes them in the halls or sees them in class, they act as if they barely know her.
Rachel knows she's a star - or will be one day soon - but sometimes she thinks people only really see her when she sings.
But when Puck calls out to his friends and their heads turn in her direction , their mouths dropping open as they spot her at Puck's side, she thinks they might finally see her. It's as if they're seeing her for the very first time. She isn't sure if it's the fact that Puck's hand is still wrapped around her wrist or the tight red dress Kurt picked out, but they're staring all the same.
Rachel notices the looks on their faces, but she also notices how Finn's hand quickly drops to his side when he sees her. It gives her a sick amount of satisfaction.
"Rachel," he breathes, stepping away from Quinn and towards her. "Wow. You look... wow." He glances around and notices all eyes are on the two of them, but when he looks back at Rachel, he continues as if they're alone. "You look beautiful."
"Thank you," she whispers, ducking her head so that he might not be able to see the flush of her cheeks.
"You actually brought her," Quinn hisses as she steps to Finn's side, looping her arm through his protectively.
Puck smiles confidently and Rachel knows she's only a dare to her date, but she doesn't care. She knew it all along, this is only confirmation. Besides, Puck doesn't have the ability to hurt her feelings - she doesn't give him that kind of power.
Finn, on the other hand, she gives all of her power to.
At last, Puck releases his grip on Rachel while he glares tauntingly at Quinn. "She's my date," he tells her simply, but it's with a sneer.
"Do you think that I could talk with you?" Quinn asks him curtly. He complies and leaves Rachel's side to follow Quinn.
But Finn's eyes do not stray from Rachel, not even to watch as Quinn and Puck walk away together. He doesn't even think to follow them, instead all he can do is step closer to Rachel.
"Why are you here with him?" he asks.
Rachel shrugs and she's having a hard time looking him in the eyes. "Because he asked me," she tells him and she knows it's a lame answer, but it's all she has.
"Come on, Rachel. You know he's just using you for something. He..." He stops himself because he doesn't want to hurt her feelings and he's afraid he might if he continues.
"I know that," she assures him, looking into his eyes, attempting confidence. "I know."
"And you look so... you look like that and I just... I know Puck. I don't think it's a good idea that you're here with him."
"Finn," Rachel laughs. "I'm sure my honor will be left in tact. He hasn't said more than two words to me tonight. Besides, who else would I have come with? It's not like I had any more offers. It's not like you asked me."
"You know why."
"Yeah," she whispers. "I do know why. So maybe you shouldn't be here with me while my date is off with yours. Maybe we shouldn't ever be together like this. It's too... confusing. Too dangerous."
"You're right, Rachel."
Her heart falls all over again, only more swiftly this time, more painfully. She hangs her head and tries to nod, but her body feels too heavy with heartbreak.
She falters for a moment before she picks her head back up and straightens as she looks confidently into Finn's eyes. "I think I'm just going to go home." Glancing around the auditorium, she adds, "I don't belong here.
Offering him a small smile, Rachel turns from him just as the music dips low and the crowds of people surrounding her instantly slow. The music has quickly gone from somthing fast and loud to lovely and slow.
Rache feels more comfortable with this beat. It nearly matches thebeat of her heart and is perfect to carry her away from Finn.
"Rachel, wait!" Finn calls out and reaches to grab her wrist.
His touch is softer than Puck's, more gentle, but it has a stronger hold over her and she remains roote din place even though she could easily tear away and leave as if he had never tried to stop her.
She looks over her shoulder at him expectabtly.
"Stay. Dance with me. Just... one dance," he pleads.
"Okay," she relents easily, knowing she could never refuse him. Not even in a crowded auditorium with people she doesn't really like doing something as ordinary as slow dancing with a boy she has a crush on at homecoming.
Finn slides his hand from Rachel's wrist to her hand, threading her fingers with hers as he pulls him towards the middleof the makeshift dance floor in the auditorium.
Without another word, he pulls her into him. One hand slides behind her back while the other remains locked with hers. They begin to sway in time wiht the music. They're close, their bodies pressed togehter, but they do not look at one another.
They have danced together before. But never like this.
Rachel lets him lead her. It's a struggle for someone who loves control. But she thinks she might love Finn more.
Rachel isn't sure what love is - not this kind of love - but she thinks it might feel something like this. Like dancing with a boy and feeling like he can hear you heart above the music it's beating so hard.
But she refuses to be a cliche. The small town girl who lets a crush stand in her way. Who lets a boy whose heart belongs to someone else hold her back from her dreams.
Nothing will hold her back. Not Finn. Not what she things might be love - or at least the beginnings. Nothing.
"Rachel," Finn breathes and she snaps her head towards him.
She doesn't believe there's anything cliche about the way he's looking at her right now and her commitment to her dreams start to fade a little at the prospect of Finn loving her back. It's a horrible reaciton, but one she has trouble fighting against.
"I wish I could have asked you to come. I wanted to. God, I really did, Rachel. But Quinn and the baby..."
She steels herself in his arms. "Yeah, I know. You have to put Quinn first."
He sighs. "That's not what I meant. Well. Not really. It's just, Rachel, you have to understand..."
"Understand what?" she pleads, feeling tears bubbling up, but she refuses to let Finn see her cry. "That you cant admit you have feelings for me? That you cant stand up to Quinn? To everyone else at this damn school because you're scared of what they'll think?"
"No!" he tells her harshly. "No. I just... you know I have feelings for you, Rachel. I care about you a lot. A lot. You know that."
"And that's why you're here with her, not me," she retorts.
"Please," he begs, reaching out towards her, his hand pressing against her cheek. "I've never met anyone like you before, Rachel. You're different than everyone else. Good different. But, Quinn's pregnant and I have to deal with that."
"Which is exactly why you should be with Quinn right now, not me." She pulls out of his embrace reluctantly, looking down at the floor unable to watch as he walks away from her.
He surprises her again when she feels his fingers on her chin, tilting her head up so that she can meet his eyes. "What if I said I only wanted to be here with you?"
"I'd tell you that I cant. I cant be that girl anymore."
Finn nods and drops his hand from her face just as Quinn and Puck find them as the students disperse from the dance floor as the song ends.
"Finn," Quinn calls, her voice high with forced enthusiasm. She glares at Rachel as she steps between them, hugging herself to Finn's side possessively.
Puck says nothing to Rachel, only stares angrily at Quinn and Rachel's left to wonder what's going on between the pair. There is eomthing there, but she just isn't sure if it's love or hate they attempt to cover. Finn seems oblivious to it all and she considers it might be best to protect himself from his best friend and his girlfriend/mother of his child.
"What are you doing with her?" Quinn snarls.
"Just... talking," Finn answers, looking apologetically at Rachel.
"You can stop trying to stela my boyfriend. He's never going to want you. Your own date doesn't even want you. Why do you even think he asked you here?" She laughs bitterly. Her voice is loud and draws the attention of those standing near by.
Rachel knows why Puck bright her. She didn't care before. But she doesn't want the entire student body to know she's just a joke.
"Quinn, stop," Finn warns her.
"What?" she asks innocently. "She should know. I wouldn't want her to get her hopes up yet again. He doesn't like you. A couple of us bet him that he wouldn't have the stomach to even bring you here."
Rachel simply stands taller and turns to Puck who doesn't deny or confirm Quinn's story, but Rachel knows it's the truth. "Well, congratulations, Puck. I hope tat I've at least earned you a good payout."
Her head held high, Rachel pushes through the crowd of students and leaves the dance, fully regretting ever coming.
"Why do you have to be so mean to her? What did she ever do to you?" Finn demands from Quinn and Puck. They're both silent and the smirks on their faces being to fade. "Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves."
Finn leaves them standing together to go after Rachel. .