When Finn walked through the door, it was almost as though everyone else in the restaurant disappeared. All she could focus on was Finn and the fact that he was right there. All those months of corresponding back and forth had led up to this moment and Rachel was positive, in this moment, that it had been absolutely worth the wait. She was a little taken aback, however, at how tall he was. He’d mentioned that he was 6’3” in one of his letters but it appeared that she had underestimated just how tall he actually was. She was about to stand up and wave him over when to her surprise, he started walking directly towards her, like without having ever seen a photo of her, like she had of him, he had managed to correctly identify her in a room full of people. She opened her mouth a little as he slid into the booth, but for the first time in Rachel Berry’s life, she was actually speechless. Not because she was nervous or anything — well, maybe a little — but simply because this was all so surreal. Realizing that she probably looked like an idiot, she snapped her mouth shut and instead offered him a warm, open smile. The beat of silence that fell between them was good, it allowed her to take a moment to take a breath and collect her thoughts. She was still a little nervous, yes, but excited now more than anything, and couldn’t wait to have a real life conversation with him.
"Hi," Rachel replied, and then bit her lip to keep from smiling too wide. “It’s nice to see you, too, Finn.” She waved his apology off, it wasn’t necessary at all. “You’re fine, I haven’t been here for too long anyway. Which is odd, considering I’m usually a stickler for being early. But I suppose it worked out well for this particular situation so again, you’re completely fine. There’s no need for apologies.” Not only had she started to talk a mile a minute, but she’d also started to ramble — two things that happened whenever she was nervous. Perhaps she had also underestimated the slight crush she had because right now, as he was sitting there in front of her, she wasn’t sure that she’d ever felt this way before. She had always thought he was handsome, of course, but now she realized that there was a big difference between a photograph and the real live thing.
It was silly, though, to be so nervous. At the end of the day, he was still just Finn, the same Finn who she had come to consider one of her closest friends. It was merely her insecurities getting the best of her, really, and she was better than that. She was stronger than that. So with that in mind, Rachel sat up straighter, suddenly feeling much more confident. ”So how long have you been home? I’m sure your mom was thrilled to see you. The perfect Mother’s Day gift, I’d imagine.” It was only a few moments later that the waiter arrived at their table, waiting for them to order their drinks. Rachel almost didn’t notice him, too caught up in waiting for him to reply, but when she did, she laughed at herself before glancing down at the menu and quickly scanning the drinks. “I’ll just have some water, thank you.” She told the waiter, and then looked to Finn. “What about you?”
Finn couldn’t help but try and take in as much of Rachel as he could. It was surreal, having all the little quirks he could glean from her letters right there in front of him. He could feel their months of correspondence culminating into something that was a lot more than a conversation out of obligation. He looked forward to the letters, not just because they were a connection to a world he’d left, but because they were from her.
He slid into the booth across from Rachel, throwing a smile to her at her question. “It was a pretty good Mother’s Day for her,” he said modestly. Whenever he was lucky enough to have the opportunity to come home he and his mother only ever did things that most people would deem boring. They’d watch the games she’d taped for him. They’d go grocery shopping together, Finn pushing the cart and hefting things off the top shelves. They’d eat dinner together, usually Finn’s favorite lasagna. Mother’s Day hadn’t been any exception. He couldn’t cook but they’d gone out for a pancake breakfast at IHOP, and that had been the highlight of his precious few days home. Though he was sure that getting dinner with his new, not new friend was going to be a close second.
"Coke, please," he told their waiter with a smile, turning his attention briefly towards his menu before closing it. He’d eaten the same way virtually all his life: sandwiches and burgers and every cheesy, hearty food one could think of. Not to mention that Breadstix was practically every Lima resident’s staple place to eat out. He knew exactly what he wanted. More importantly though, he wanted to focus his attention on the girl he’d been getting to know for months. He’d almost forgotten over all this time that this was an assignment for her, and a work obligation for him. But maybe that was the point, for both of them to get something out of all this. "Did you do anything with your parents?" He asked once they were alone. They’d exchanged so many personal details about their lives that he honestly wasn’t sure where to start with having actual small talk. And despite being unsure, he still felt an immense comfort in being around her. She was just… familiar, even though he’d only just seen her face two minutes ago. He knew her, perhaps not every part of her, but more than enough for him to appreciate the fact that she’d picked him to write to. "I know you have two dads, but anyone can still have breakfast in bed, I’m pretty sure," he shrugged. "I always saw holidays as a way for everyone to wind down, no matter who it’s officially supposed to be for."
The moment that Rachel had woken up that morning, she immediately felt the butterflies deep in her stomach. It was silly, really, to be so nervous about meeting someone that she had been talking to for five months now. When the original assignment had been handed out, she never in a million years imagined that it would blossom into an actual friendship — and if she were being completely honest with herself, a bit of a crush on her part. She was fairly certain that her fellow classmates had long given up on the assignment, simply meeting the absolute minimum requirement and calling it a day. But not Rachel. She genuinely enjoyed talking to Finn and looked forward to seeing his letters in the mail. With the school year coming to a close, she wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen with them. She would no longer have to write him — not that it ever felt like a chore — and she was admittedly a little worried that their friendship would eventually fizzle out. But she didn’t want to think about any of that today. Today was the day that she was finally going to be putting a face, a real one, not a photo, to the person who had quickly become one of her closest friends.
Rachel had spent two hours getting ready, changing her outfit a total of three times before finally settling on a pale pink sundress and pairing it with a plain white cardigan and some ballet flats. She opted for a natural look for her makeup and left her hair down, sliding in a white headband to keep her bangs out of her face. When she was finally satisfied with how she looked, there was still about thirty minutes left to kill before she had to leave. By the time 6:40 rolled around, Rachel had nearly talked herself into changing again but was assured by both of her fathers that she looked beautiful in what she had on. It was strange, how nervous she was. She could easily handle performing in front of large groups of people but for whatever reason, Finn — the person she hadn’t even met yet — made her feel something she had never really experienced before. At least not by a person. Her dads allowed her to take their car, since it was a somewhat special occasion, and fifteen minutes later, she was pulling into the Breadstix parking lot.
She scanned the parking lot, despite the fact that if Finn was there, there was no way to know what kind of car he was driving. Thanks to the picture she’d received with his information, she knew what he looked like so if he was already there, she would have no problem locating him in the restaurant. She continued looking around as she entered the restaurant and walked up to where the hostess was standing. Thankfully, Breadstix wasn’t too big so she was able to see in every direction and came to the conclusion that he hadn’t showed up yet. Looking over to the hostess, Rachel smiled, “Hi, table for two, please. My, um… my friend hasn’t arrived yet but I’m sure he’ll be here soon.” The hostess nodded in reply and grabbed two menus before motioning for Rachel to follow her to a booth near the side of the restaurant. “Your waiter will be here soon,” The hostess said as Rachel slid into the booth and settled in. She had sat facing the entrance so that she would be able to see Finn as soon as he arrived. Taking a deep breath, she started to nervously play with a loose string on the end of her dress. Now all there was left to do was wait.
Driving a car again was a feeling Finn was never accustomed to no matter how many times he came home from base to visit home. He was used to handling huge Jeeps, cranking the wheel harshly through dirt roads. His mother’s tiny sedan was a far cry from anything out there, and he had to remind himself of the regular rules of the road as he drove his way down Lima’s main road, bound for Breadstix. It was one of those restaurants that seemed to always be around and bustling no matter what time of day it was. It was brightly lit, out in the open – a well-known establishment to anyone within a 30-mile radius. It was a good choice for a first meeting.
He honestly couldn’t believe that he was about to meet Rachel in person. She’d sent him pictures of her recent trip to New York, but those had been faraway landscape shots, or slightly blurry photographs of her dads. He wasn’t one to pry where he wasn’t invited, but Finn was admittedly curious about what his penpal looked like, and how she’d be in person. Who wouldn’t be? She had become a large part of his life, as an anchor to his past and encouragement to keep pushing on to his future. He didn’t think she knew, how much that meant to him, to have someone to talk to.
He hadn’t expected to grow so close to Rachel through letters, but week after week he found himself looking forward to seeing what she had to tell him about her life. Lima was so far removed from him most days that it was refreshing to read about a life that was so different from his, yet all too familiar. Rachel had so many opporunities in front of her, and though Finn had settled into his position in the army there were nights he wondered how things would be if he’d gotten that football scholarship, and that ticket to college. It wasn’t worth thinking about anymore but his mind still wandered and he couldn’t help that.
He pulled into the familiar parking lot, getting out of the car and unzipping his jacket to toss into the backseat. They hadn’t really discussed a dress code, and honestly Finn didn’t want to show up in his usual t-shirt and jeans combo he wore when he was at home, so it was a simple collared shirt and tie for him. Strictly professional, of course. It was a couple minutes past seven, so he ducked into the restaurant as quickly as he could, greeting the hostess at the podium before he scanned the room on his own. He didn’t have a clear picture of what Rachel was supposed to look like, but Finn had faith that he’d be able to find her. And he did, scanning past the crowd of high schoolers in letterman and cheer jackets and landing on a girl sitting alone. When he met her eyes and smiled a little, he knew. She had a sort of warmth around her that he got through her letters, and now, in person, he could feel it coming off her even from twenty feet away. “It’s fine, I’ve got it, I found my friend,” he told the hostess with a smile, nodding his thanks. And with that, he made his way towards their table, slowly sliding into the booth seat across from Rachel. There was a beat of silence between them before Finn felt like he had to speak first.
"Hi," he said simply, allowing himself a couple seconds to really take her in. "I’m… it’s good to see you, Rachel." He was speaking to her like they were old friends who simply hadn’t seen each other in a while, when the truth was so far from that. He couldn’t help it though. One look at Rachel and he felt like they’d known each other for years, not months. "Sorry I’m a little late; driving a regular car’s kind of a challenge whenever I visit home."
@fchudson uploaded a photo 6 hours ago ↴
finished morning rounds in time to watch the sun come up. wakes me up like nothing else. …now to just pass it on to the squad. #wakeupcall