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wheels go round and round (the big top world)

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"I need to talk to you," Rachel insisted, finding Finn in the hallway, standing beside his locker. She had cooled down somewhat from the bombshell that had been dropped on her earlier, courtesy of Santana, and she had decided to seek out Finn before she did anything particularly rash. Finn was her boyfriend, after all, he deserved to at least have a chance to actually explain himself. "About what Santana said, earlier."


"I'm sorry, okay," he insisted, not looking her in the eye. "I was jealous of you and Jesse!"


"I know," she admitted. "I know you were. I've been doing some thinking," she told him. "I'm not mad at you because the two of you had sex," she said, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I thought your judgment would be better...but you're just a teenage boy. I just wish that you had told me the truth. I would have preferred to hear about it from you, instead of from someone who spends her entire life trying to smear my reputation."


"I didn't want you to be mad at me," Finn replied. "I'm so sorry." He managed to meet her gaze, and she could see the sincerity in his eyes. "Are we breaking up?"


Rachel wordlessly shook her head, pushing aside her perhaps not entirely justified anger at Finn to give him a hug. "We're not breaking up," she promised. "Do you wish it had been with me?"


"Of course," he said, and she felt the warmth of his hand on the small of her back. "Every day." The look in his eyes was painfully sincere, and she could see that he'd been crying.


"I wish it had been me, too," she whispered, leaning up and planting a kiss on his lips. "I can forgive you, though."


"Really?" Finn asked, sounding somewhat cheered at the thought.


"Yes," she said, taking his hand in hers. "It was just once, right?"


Finn nodded. "Yeah," he said. "I promise, just once."


Rachel decided that she would be satisfied with the answer, and she gave him an encouraging smile, squeezing his hand. They hadn't been dating when he'd slept with Santana, and, anyways, Rachel could accept that the previous year had probably not been Finn at his best, given the fact that they had been sophomores in high school, all dealing with way too adult situations. Finn especially. She felt that she could forgive him for sleeping with Santana, even if she herself didn't particularly like her. Yes, Rachel Berry was going to be mature about this, and not go off and trample Finn's feelings by making out with Noah, or something, a thought that had briefly crossed her mind. She really didn't want to follow in her fathers' footsteps, needing couples therapy due to wallpaper. Maturity was the way to go.


"I'm still hurt," she told Finn. "And, I might be for a little bit. But I can forgive you for sleeping with her and lying about it. I know you thought you were doing the right thing in keeping it from me."


And didn't that hurt to admit? But, she supposed it was true.


"I should have told you," he mumbled, speaking into her hair.


"Yes," she agreed. "You should have. But, it's alright."


"Has anyone seen Mike?" Mr. Schue asked, eying the assembled group of students warily, sensing general unease amongst the lot. Well, more aptly, he noticed the vitriolic stares that Santana Lopez was giving both Artie and Brittany and Rachel and Finn, and he heard her saying obscenely inappropriate things about them en Español. He had been about to lecture the girl about her comments when his head count of the students had made him realize that two of their number were missing. Kurt, of course, was off to Dalton Academy, and would most likely never be returning to William McKinley, but he had sent Mike off hours ago to recruit the football team into joining Glee.


He wondered if that had been a mistake.


"He's not here, Mr. Schue," Finn finally replied, after peering around the classroom. Somehow, Will bit back a sarcastic comment, and didn't roll his eyes outwardly. "I don't think we've seen him all day. Sorry about missing Spanish," he continued. "Rachel and I were making out."


"--Up!" Rachel interjected, her face a fiery red as Will stared at Finn, wondering if he had heard him properly. "We were making up, Mr. Schue. We were not doing anything improper whatsoever. We were simply reconciling our differences in a productive manner."


"...Right," Will sighed, rubbing his forehead. "That's fine, Finn, don't let it happen again," he told him. "Does anyone else have something to contribute to my question? I sent Mike to approach the football team about joining Glee so we could have some new blood to replace Kurt and get us pumped for Sectionals!" He reminded them. Or told them. Will wasn't sure what he was doing.


"Don't you think that was a bad idea?" Quinn finally spoke, breaking the pregnant silence that had filled the choir room at his statement. "I mean...that was a bad idea."


"What do you mean?" He asked, confused. "We need an extra member for Sectionals!"


"Because the jocks bullied Kurt out of school," she told him, glaring at him. "Kurt didn't just randomly decide to transfer. The specific jocks that you sent Mike to recruit physically and emotionally abused him until he felt he was unsafe here. I know that you think Kurt was probably just being dramatic," she continued, a definite tone to her words, "but he was being seriously targeted. What were you thinking sending Mike to get them to join? Were you thinking at all?"


If Will was truthful, he did think Kurt was overreacting to a few dumpster tosses and locker checks, but he knew better than to say so out loud. Not with Finn there. He would be sure to inform Burt Hummel about what he had said about his 'new brother'. And Will did not want to deal with Hummel, not after Kurt was finally off annoying the Warblers instead of him.


"I was thinking that we need someone for Sectionals!" Will defended himself.


"And now Mike is missing," Quinn reminded him, brow raised. "I feel that the two events may somehow be connected."


"Don't be ridiculous!" He exclaimed. "We know why they bullied Kurt! Mike is nothing like that!"


The silence returned -- even from Santana -- and Will became uncomfortably aware that the entirety of the Glee Club was staring at him.


"Are you saying that Kurt deserved to be bullied because he was gay?" Mercedes asked, and Will quickly shook his head. "Because my boy shouldn't have been the one to leave. Karofsky shouldn't have been able to have his expulsion overturned! He threatened to kill Kurt!"


"And that's precisely why I sent Mike to have him and his friends join Glee," he interjected, certain that this news would gain him favor. "Once they see that --"


"Oh God," Rachel stammered. "You think that joining Glee will get Dave to stop being a bully? You thought it was a good idea to have Mike give him and the other meatheads this message? Alone? Knowing that he has a tendency towards violence!"


"Only against Kurt!" Will stressed, sensing that he was fast losing control of the room.


"Not just against Kurt," Quinn pointed out. "He gave Sam a black eye and beat up Artie. We have to find him."


Will was really going to protest this course of action -- he couldn't believe how ridiculous everyone was being, and he was more than a bit annoyed that they were blaming Dave for Kurt's inability to turn it down -- when the door to the room opened, revealing his missing student and Lauren Zizes.


"I found him locked in a porta-potty," Lauren said.


The choir room erupted into a cacophony of voices, and he shook his head. Mike was here -- along with a replacement for Kurt -- and he was more than ready to actually rehearse. He was relieved when Finn approached him, Rachel in tow. At least --


"I'm telling my parents about what you said," Finn informed him, eyes hardened. "I can't believe you would say those things."


"Excuse me?" Will demanded, somewhat taken aback. "You really can't be serious, Finn. I'm allowed to have my opinions."


"You're a teacher," he said.


"And as a teacher I am doing what's right for the club!" He exclaimed. "Just because Kurt doesn't feel safe here doesn't mean we need 12 people to qualify for Sectionals! I offered him a solo, and he still left."


"That's not what I have a problem with," Finn said flatly. "I have a problem with your little comment about 'knowing why they bullied Kurt'."


"I already knew," Kurt told Finn, in response to his impassioned -- total word of the day word -- rant about how much of an ass Mr. Schue -- Mr. Schue!!! -- had been that day about Kurt during Glee practice. "I appreciate your defense of me, truly, but we are talking about a man who walked passed me being thrown in the dumpster on a daily basis for a year and a half and thought I was 'making friends'." His younger brother smiled sadly at him and patted him on the shoulder, while the feeling of guilt that Finn had been carrying around simply intensified.


"I'm so sorry," Finn said, for at least the fourth time that day to someone whom he deeply loved and whom he had deeply hurt. "I'm sorry for everything, Kurt."


"I know you are," Kurt said. "Really, I know."


"Rachel found out about Santana and me," Finn blurted, unable to help himself. "She was really mad at first, but she said that she'd forgive me. We made out in the janitor's closet during Spanish."


Finn watched Kurt purse his lips, before he let out a sigh. "Oh, Finn, only you could have your girlfriend find out you slept with someone she totally hates and end the day with her making out with you in the janitor's closet. Couldn't you go someplace more sanitary next time? I know it's filled with cleaning products and therefore may have the illusion of cleanliness, but..."


"She's coming over later," he told him, waggling his eyebrows. "D'you think you could clear out?" Before Rachel had found out about him and Santana, they had been planning on enjoying Finn's lack of parents that evening. Burt and his mom had been planning on being in Hawaii that week, but were instead going to the Great Lakes. Finn really didn't know why they were so great, but he'd resolved to ask Rachel this when they were alone.


"Oh, gross," Kurt said, his tone filled with what Finn recognized as despair. "Fine," he sighed. "Only because I have been through enough lately. I really don't need to add you and Rachel's activities to my nightmares."


He grinned at Kurt, leaning over to ruffle his hair. (Kurt shrieked.) "Thanks, bro. You're so awesome."

[One Month Later]

"Alcohol Awareness Week," Principal Figgins announced to William, hoping the look of maniacal excitement upon his face would hide the fact that he was asking the Glee Club to perform at the assembly about the evils of drunkenness as a pure last resort.

His first attempt at procuring entertainment had been approaching Sue and asking if she would be willing to lend her Cheerios to the worthy cause.

His ears were still ringing from her response.

The Drama Club had the nerve to tell him they were busy rehearsing for a play, and the Concert and Jazz Bands had claimed that the school's holiday concert was more important than an assembly.

Therefore, he had come to William. "You will be performing."


Across from him, William simply stared at the plaque on his desk, and didn't respond at all. It was a very nice plaque, indeed, at least Ibqal thought so, but he didn't appreciate all of William's attention being given to it when he himself was trying to tell him something.


"Earth to William," he said, waving a hand in front of his face. "What has gotten into you? Are you still upset about our Guidance Counselor marrying that Dentist ? You need to move on, William."

William cleared his throat, shaking his head before looking him in the eyes. "Sorry, I was doing some thinking," he told him, shrugging his shoulders. "We really should be starting to work on our Regionals performance," he continued. "The kids still miss Kurt, and there have been issues we need to work on." He sighed.

"This is mandatory , William," Ibqal insisted. "You and your club must perform a song at this assembly. I won't hear any more complaints about this."

"When exactly is the assembly?" William questioned.

"At the end of next week!" Figgins exclaimed, putting on his most jovial tone of voice. "You just need to perform one song!"


He could swear he heard William sigh in response. "Fine," his only hope muttered. "One song."


Figgins watched with a giant smile on his face as William pushed the chair away from his desk and left the office, his face returning to solemnity once the coast was clear.


"And, in conclusion," Rachel heard Mr. Schue say somewhere in the back of her mind, her rolling stomach unfortunately competing with the Glee instructor's lecture on whatever the latest decree from Principal Figgins was, though she was faking paying close attention as she sat beside Finn, not wanting him to know she wasn't feeling well. He continued to ramble on for several more minutes, before Finn nudged her in time for him to conclude. " week. Rachel and Finn, would you like to perform a song about the assembly's topic for us?"


Rachel's eyes went wide, and she turned to Finn in confusion, hoping against all hope that he had heard what the assembly was about. "What are we going to sing?" She asked, stomach lurching as she did.


"Are you okay?" Finn asked. "You don't look very good."


She opened her mouth to try to convince him that she was fine, before her lunch decided to make an appearance all over the floor. "I have food poisoning!" She snapped, feeling herself start to cry. "Leave me alone!" The realization that she had just thrown up all over the choir room floor hit her then, and she clapped her hand over her mouth, bolting out of the choir room door, dipping into the closest ladies room and locking herself in the handicapped stall. She wanted to die of complete and utter mortification.


She heard the door open behind her, and she wanted to tell them to leave, but it was all she could do to kneel over the toilet before round two hit. The person knocked, before peering over the stall at her. Of course it was Finn that had followed her, she groused inwardly, wanting nothing more than to just go home and sleep.


" Please don't look at me," she begged. "I must look disgusting ." She flushed the toilet, the nausea having abated for the moment, before steeling herself and opening the stall door, deciding that facing her boyfriend was more realistic than living in the bathroom forever. She washed her hands, followed over to the sinks by a Finn-shaped shadow.


"You don't look disgusting," Finn told her softly. "I'm worried about you," he continued, as she let him wrap his arms around her, letting her sniffle into his puffy vest. "You don't really have food poisoning, do you?"


"Do we have to talk about this here?" She asked, shooting him a pleading glance. " Please , Finn. Let's talk about it in your truck, at least." Much to her relief, he nodded, shouldering both their schoolbags and wrapping a protective arm around her shoulders. Finn pressed a kiss against her temple, and she smiled shakily at him. "I'm sorry I said to leave me alone," she added, bursting into new tears. "I didn't mean it, Finn," she wept. "I love you."


"Hey, now," he said awkwardly, rubbing her neck. "It's alright, I love you too."


"Will you still love me if I tell you something?" She asked him desperately, once they'd left the school and were sitting in his truck in the student lot.


"Of course," Finn told her, smiling sappily at her, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "What is it?"


Rachel took a deep breath, pulling out her phone to check her calendar, wanting to confirm her suspicions before she told him what her suspicions were. For the past two weeks she had been feeling somewhat off, everything was sore, her bras were getting tighter. She had thought that she was finally getting to experience a late growth spurt at first, at least, she had been until the nausea started. It was then that she'd realized that she was late. Late late. She had been due to have her period approximately a week and a half after she and Finn had made love for the first time, and it had yet to come.


"I'm late, Finn." She said, watching as his brow furrowed in confusion. "Things that should happen to me every month haven't been happening since we first made love."


"What'd you mean?" Finn asked, reaching out and taking her hand. "I thought you liked what I was doing for you! Isn't that why you make those sounds?"


"No, I like it," she assured him, before deciding to just be blunt and not try to use euphemisms anymore. "I think I'm pregnant ."


"You--you do?" He said, after several painfully long moments of silence, during which he had gotten awfully pale. "Really? But we didn't even go in a hot tub."


Rachel resisted the urge to shake him. Or perhaps the educational system in Lima. Or Quinn. Poor Finn seemed to think that the fact that they hadn't been in a hot tub together was cause for alarm, and she didn't quite know who to blame. There was a very long list, she suspected. Instead, she took his hand, and squeezed it tightly.


"You really can't get pregnant how Quinn told you you got her pregnant," she explained, pleased when Finn's coloring returned to normal. She really didn't want to have to explain to Carole and Burt why Finn had passed out.


"You really think you're pregnant?" Finn repeated, staring at her with wide eyes. "Rachel, I'm so sorry . I didn't mean to. I'll be a good dad, I promise. Please don't hate me." His shoulders drooped, and she noticed that he was very interested in his lap. "I'm really sorry."


"You're not mad at me?" She asked, hesitantly. He shook his head, still focused downward. "I know...I know you'll be a good dad, Finn." She told him. "And I know you're sorry, but you don't have to be. We got into this predicament together." She leaned her head on his shoulder, emotionally and physically exhausted. "Do you think we could hang out this afternoon?"


"Of course," he said. "You're my girlfriend, I always want to hang out with you."


"Can we stop at the pharmacy first?" She asked, her voice small. Finn squeezed her knee.


"Yeah," he said. "Can we do that together?" He asked. "It's's my baby this time, it's really my baby if it really exists and I'm your boyfriend and I don't want you to find out alone, not if I can be there and--"


"Of course," Rachel said, noticing how immediately Finn brightened at that, and she felt a bit better about the situation. "Right when we get to your house, okay?"


Finn nodded. "You feel okay for me to drive?" He asked, his normally protective tone amplified by her confession. "If you don't...tell me and I'll pull over, alright?"


"I feel better now," she assured him. "I promise."


Finn had realized -- after they had gone to the pharmacy and his house --- that oops it was totally still the middle of a school day. And that he was totally missing a double block of Spanish. He also realized that he didn't really care and he was quite certain that Rachel didn't particularly want to go back to school after throwing up in front of everyone. Finn realized more than most people let on. And he realized that -- right now -- Rachel would need him more than ever, no matter what the tests said. He realized that he REALLY loved her, like, total wanting to marry someday and have a billion kids with and grow old together like Finn knew existed because he had seen it on television. Kurt had explained that not all of the things on TV were true, but Finn really hoped that he had meant things like Sharknando, and not people being happily married and growing old together.


To be honest, Finn had already known that Quinn had lied to him about the hot tub, he had just wanted to be a good dad to baby Drizzle as best he could be, when instead he hadn't been a dad at all and had just incidentally been a huge douche to Puck.


But Finn knew that he loved Rachel. He had known that since their kiss in the auditorium sophomore year, before everything had gone to shit. When Burt had been telling his mom all those nice things about how he was going to love her until he died, Finn had realized that he felt that way about Rachel. And it had scared him, at first, but he was okay with it, now.


Rachel came out of the bathroom, and he bounced off the bed, coming over to her to give her a big hug. "What did they say?" He asked, aware of how eager his tone was.


"We have to wait five minutes," she replied. "But I think I already know the answer. I'm never late, Finn."


"I love you," he told her. "I promise that I love you." She beamed at him and kissed him on the lips, and he knew right then that it had been the right thing to say. "Do you wanna get out of those clothes?"


Rachel smacked him on the chest. "Finn!" She chastised. "I think I am pregnant with your child, why do you think that having sex with me is a good idea, especially with five used pregnancy tests in the bathroom you share with Kurt?" He thought she was mad at him, but he noticed there was a smirk on her face.


"I thought maybe you'd like to change out of the clothes that you threw up in," he said shyly, looping his arms around her. "I have pajamas you can wear, at least you'd be comfy."


"Oh," she breathed, and she nodded hesitantly. "I do feel gross."


Finn went into his dresser and pulled out a pair of sweatpants that he had outgrown and a t-shirt of his that he had shrunk accidentally while attempting laundry. He handed them to Rachel, who had slipped out of her school clothes and stood there in just her underwear, eying her bashfully as she changed. He didn't think she looked different. But he didn't really know, he'd never seen Quinn like this when he'd been Drizzle's dad. Even when they'd lived together she'd hid this from him. Rachel quirked her lips at him when she noticed his gaze.


"I think I'll keep these," she told him, slipping only the shirt on, which barely covered her ass. (Finn's attempt at laundry had made Kurt cry for an evident reason.) He licked his lips, willing his sudden hard on to go away. It was totally inappropriate to be turned on right now, he reminded himself. Beyond not appropriate.


"Yeah," he agreed. "Sure." He was painfully aware of the bulge in his pants, and he felt his face turning a bright red. "You look super hot, babe." He admitted, beckoning her over to him. "When we find out, we should make out."


"You'd still be into me?" She asked, her tone shy, and he nodded eagerly.


"Fuck yeah," he insisted. "I'm into you all the time." He kissed her gently, daring to settle a hand on her stomach. "I'm always gonna be into you."


"I love you, Finn," she whispered, kissing him back. "I'm so scared, though."


"It'll be alright," Finn told her, hoping he sounded braver than he felt. "Whatever happens, it'll be alright."