“Daddy, daddy, daddy” The kids all came running into Finn’s arms as soon as the door slammed outside, signaling his return home for the night. As best he could, he scooped them all up at once, but with only two arms and three kids, he was out number. Sadie usually settled for clinging onto his leg. She was still small so it was easy for her to grab hold and sit on his giant foot as he walked inside.
“You kids are crazy it’s raining outside! We all better get inside before your mother comes and lectures us all about getting sick!” Finn was laughed at his kids, his eyes casting a glance toward the house where he knew Rachel was watching, and listening. He knew that she would worry about them catching a cold if they were all outside, without jackets, in the rain but he also knew she couldn’t resist watching them greet their father on the rare days he was home before they got in bed.
“Daddy, can we play before bed?” Charlie asked hopefully. It was hard to look into the big brown eyes of his only son and say no, especially when he so rarely saw his kids these days. With another economic down turn, things had been rough and Finn had been working extra hours. Rachel could only work a part-time job. Lucy, their oldest, had barely started school and they could only afford daycare for half of the day while Lucy was in school. It had been hard, but they both knew that things would get better soon.
“Well alright, but when mommy says it’s time to go to bed we have to listen to her, right?”
The kids all cheered and a smile spread over his face. He was sure Rachel might lecture him for keeping them up too late, but secretly she would be glad he did because she knew how much they missed their father.
“Have you all had your bath yet?” He looked at Lucy in his left arm, knowing that much like her mother she would be brutally honest with him.
The small girl nodded her head and Finn couldn’t help the little half smirk he got when there was mischief brewing in his mind.
“Tell you what” He set down the two kids in his arms and kneeled down to wrap his arms around Sadie before he huddled behind all three, his arms around them as a group as he pointed into the yard “I will race you” He whispered to all of them. The grass was slippery with the rain that had fallen; the mud seeping to the surface was almost visible through the luscious green of the lawn. He was already soaked head to toe and the kids were rapidly growing wetter with every moment they were in the rain with their father.
“To the fence and back. Whoever beats me gets a cookie when we get inside, alright?”
The kids all cheered and quickly they lined up at the edge of the yard where it met the pavement to the driveway as if it were the starting line to their challenge.
Finn glanced up to the house and when Rachel saw that look on his face, that mischievous half smile, she knew she had to stop it.
“What are you do-“ She called out as she rushed onto the porch, but it was too late. The four of them had rushed across the wet grass toward the fence.
Finn had immediately swept Sadie off her feet. The girl was barely a year old and stood no real chance of winning the race so he would help her. His legs were longer than all of his children’s height combined, so the advantage he had over them would be better used to help one of his own instead of gaining the cookie for himself. Besides, he could have cookies whenever he wanted.
Rachel watched in amusement, although a little tensely, as the two older children gained a lead. They were about halfway across the yard before the eldest hit a slippery patch she could not handle and her feet seemed to slip from under her. Rachel gasped, her hand covering her mouth, and she had to fight herself from running down to the yard to check on her child.
She didn’t have to because Finn had slid to a stop over his fallen child. He didn’t have to help her up, though. She was already getting to her feet to continue the race. It must be the competitive nature she inherited for her mother.
Rachel gasped again, this time because she saw the mud that coated her eldest child. From head to toe, all down the back where she had landed, she was caked in the dark sticky dirt.
Finn saw this and laughed. Hard. He knew he would be in so much trouble for encouraging the kids to play in the rain, but he always said if you’re not getting dirty it’s not worth your time. At least he had started saying that when he got into the real world and had to work for a living.
Charlie had hit the fence with a huge lead and was turning back when his foot lost grip against the slippery ground and he fell, face first, into the mud.
Finn lost it again. So did Lucy. Sadie giggled from where Finn held her safely, and cleanly, in his arms.
“You alright, bud?” Finn called to his son as he carefully made his way over to his second fallen child.
When Charlie looked up, his face was covered. He even had mud on his teeth. But he smiled, a bright happy smile much like Finn’s, and started to laugh.
Finn laughed even harder and bent down to help his son to his feet. The pull from the little boy, the wet grass, and the off-balance weight of holding his youngest caused a chain reaction and soon he was fighting to stay upright. It was a one sided battle and soon he was lying on his own back, looking up at the falling rain.
Sadie had landed on his stomach, nice and clean.
Rachel was a giggling mess by now. She was watching her goofy husband and three children slide around the yard, coating themselves with mud. Though it would be a task to clean them up, she wouldn’t trade it for the world if it meant seeing all four of their smiling faces like she was right now.
“Alright you guys!” Rachel called out from the porch “Let’s get you hooligans inside and cleaned up before someone calls and reports me for child neglect.” She laughed softly and looked at Finn with a point of her finger “You, mister! You are a horrible influence. They were already all cleaned up and ready for bed.”
“I know, Sadie told me” Finn grinned triumphantly as he carefully made his way to solid ground, pulling Charlie and Sadie behind him as their little feet slipped across the ground.
“Oh no, through the garage!” Rachel pointed quickly as the kids tried to climb the steps. “I will meet you there with towels.” She shook her head and smiled at Finn again. She wanted to be mad, but she couldn’t. He had been her first love and there was just something about him that always left her weak in the knees.
As she walked inside to get the towels, she heard Charlie ask “Do we still get cookies daddy?”
“As soon as your mom leaves the room” Finn whispered, ushering his kids into the dry warmth of the garage.
“Rach?” Santana’s soft voice broke the silence that had filled the room. Rachel stood in the kitchen, her eye focused out the little window just above the sink. It was raining and she could still hear the laughter echoing in the yard. It seemed like just yesterday to her sometimes although it had been two years since Finn’s accident.
“Yeah?” Rachel cleared her throat, looking over at the other woman who had entered the room somewhere during her quiet memory.
“Are you alright?” Santana walked up to her now, a hand being laid against her back, rubbing up and down soothingly as her eyes flickered out the window in hopes of seeing what the shorter girl had been so focused on just a moment ago.
“Of course” Rachel answered with a chipper tone, though the less than bright smile on her face immediately gave away that she was not alright. “Just watching the rain.”
Santana had known Rachel long enough to know when something wasn’t alright. She could see it in her eyes. Not only did she know the girl, but she was a horrible liar and always gave it away with the smallest look that she was not being honest. It was those little things that you just grew to know about someone the more time you spent with them. It wasn’t to say they had spent a lifetime together, not even close. There were the three years in high school, in Glee club, and the year just after where.
Rachel and Santana had coincidentally both signed up for a local singing and acting class to help hone their skills before Rachel would attempt to leave for New York, to be on Broadway, and Santana would get a job working for her father in the his medical office filing paperwork while taking online education classes on the side. In hindsight she should have flown to L.A. and tried to make something more of herself but her confidence was not exactly the highest when it came to her acting ability and at the time she had still been very much in love, and very much stuck, waiting for Brittany to come around.
That hadn’t panned out, at all. After three years of waiting, Brittany came home on spring break from the small community college she had been attending just two hours away in nearby Columbus and announced she had found the love of her life. This had been a dagger to Santana, in so many ways. Santana would drive out nearly every weekend to see and stay with Brittany. They had remained close, as close as they had been in high school and Santana really though that Brittany was finally leaning toward them being out together.
Santana had come out the year after high school but Brittany still had reservations about it all so they had continued seeing one another away from Brittany’s family, in Columbus, where it had been marginally safe to be together. So when Brittany came home and announced she had a boyfriend, Santana was crushed. “He’s just a stupid boy!” Santana had once again tried to argue, but Brittany wouldn’t hear it. He was handsome and charming and good to her. He helped her with her studies and finally helped her find a direction she wanted to go in life. She wanted to be an elementary school teacher and he had opened her eyes up to that very realization and more.
That was the last time Santana had loved anyone. Until Rachel. It was odd how it had all happened, but here they were, together. Santana had been there when Rachel had needed someone the most and whether she like to admit it or not, it was nice to be needed, to be wanted, after being put on hold for so long then tossed aside.
“You just looked like you had something on your mind is all.” Santana whispered softly, her leaning into the shorter girl and easily bringing her chin to rest against her shoulder with how she stood behind Rachel. Her hand continued to soothe up and down Rachel’s back, feeling that perhaps the other girl had needed it even if she would not admit it.
“I love the rain” Rachel said with a smile, turning her head to look at where Santana had rested her chin. She really was beautiful, she always had been. She had such an exotic look to her and even years later she had aged wonderfully. Rachel leaned in and kissed Santana’s temple very lightly before she turned more fully toward the girl, sliding her arms around her tightly. “Are the kids in bed?”
The kiss against the side of her head made Santana smile. She nodded at the question and straightened from her slightly slouched position when Rachel turned to slide her arms around her. Hands snaked their way along her sides to her shoulders before sliding back down the length of Rachel’s back lightly “Out like a light. Sadie tried to get me to tell them a second story but I reminded her she had to be up early for pre-school so she finally agreed to get some sleep.”
Rachel smiled very softly, her fingers lifting to Santana’s cheek in a gentle and loving touch “You’re so good with them.”
Santana shrugged slightly, a humble side smile on her lips “They are great kids. It’s hard not to love them when I see their mother in each and every one of them.”
Rachel nodded her head at that, leaning in to touch the tiniest kiss to Santana’s chin “We should probably crawl in bed ourselves. Sadie has pre-school, then I have to make cupcakes for Charlie’s first grade home economics day and Lucy needs her costume for the third grade production of The Little Mermaid they are doing tomorrow.”
“Rach” Santana laughed softly, kissing her forehead “I know. I charged the battery for the video camera so I won’t miss a second of her debut on the stage. I already bought the sugar and flour that you asked for the cupcakes. I got this.”
Rachel’s smile softened and she let out a sigh “You’re so good to me. What would I do without you?”
“Be a nervous, fumbling mess running around like a chicken with your head cut off.”
Rachel gasped playfully, swatting at Santana’s chest lightly “Hey! I am not completely incapable!”
“Shhh, let me just pretend.” Santana said with a smirk “It gets me hot thinking about how much you need me.”
Rachel blushed, biting her lip “Are you sure the kids are asleep?”
Santana nodded slowly, her eyebrows dancing suggestively on her forehead. “Completely.”
“What was that?” Rachel breathed out heavily, sitting up from where she had been sprawled out on the bed. She clutched the sheet to her bare chest and her eyes strained through the dark toward the door.
Santana sighed, licking her lips a little bit and lifting her head. She pulled the sheet to the side so she could look up at Rachel from where she had been perched under the sheet and between her legs “Babe, I didn’t hear a damn thing. I told you, the kids are asleep. Now lay back and let me gets my lady licking on.”
Rachel looked down to Santana with an unamused smile on her face “I hate when you talk like that. Do you have to use such terms?”
Santana smirked, licking her lips slowly “Well you hate when I say eat you out.”
Rachel blushed furiously. Even in her adult years, such graphic terms made her skin blush a bright red. “You know I hate that even more. If you must talk about it, will you use the term we agreed on?”
Santana rolled her eyes, lifting her hand to push at Rachel’s bare stomach “Lay back and let me practice my scales on you.”
Rachel nodded “Thank you” as she laid back down on the pillow. She could have sworn she had heard someone up and about in the house, though. Now all she could think about was one of the kids stumbling in only to see Mommy moaning and Tana under the sheets.
Santana pulled her head back under the sheets and immediately plunged her tongue back inside Rachel, right where she had left off. She had been in such a good rhythm, a perfect harmony of tongue and fingers working together as one before Rachel had interrupted her. No worries, though, she could find that again.
As her tongue dove back inside the other woman, it immediately started to swirl and flicker this way and that. She did this thing where she curled it up and in, flicking it forcefully against the sensitive nerves located there. It drove Rachel crazy. At least, it usually did. But tonight she had other things on her mind and after teasing that spot a few times with no real reaction, Santana sighed and pulled back again.
“Fine” She huffed as she pulled the sheet off her head and started to climb back up the bed.
“What?” Rachel looked at her with wide eyes, shaking her head “I didn’t say anything.”
“I know. And you didn’t moan anything or scream anything or even flinch a muscle. Your mind is somewhere else tonight.”
“No, it’s not” Rachel shook her head, turning to her side and pulling herself right up against Santana.
“You are a horrible liar” Santana mumbled, licking her lips once more before reaching over to the nightstand table to take a drink of the water she had set there. “I saw you, in the kitchen earlier, when you were staring out the window. You were playing with your necklace.”
Rachel glanced down at her chest. There was the necklace she always wore, the plain gold star outline that Finn had given her their junior year for Christmas. It had meant so much to her. It was a symbol of his belief in her, that she was more than anyone believed she could be, that she was meant to be somebody.
“You always play with it when you’re thinking about him.” Santana said softly, setting her water down before she settled on her back, a hand behind her head, her eyes on the ceiling.
Rachel shook her head a little bit as she moved even closer to Santana, her arm sliding around her waist. “It was just a memory, San. They happen sometimes. We all have moments in our past that come back to us randomly.”
Santana shrugged and rolled to her side so her back was toward Rachel.
Rachel frowned, sitting up now on her elbow and using her other hand to slide along Santana’s side “We’ve been over this. I am still healing; I am bound to have flashbacks. But all they are memories. There is nothing wrong with that, the therapist said so herself.”
Santana huffed, not acknowledging the other girl.
Rachel sighed a bit. It was the same old thing every time. Rachel sees a picture of Finn, or one of the kids talks about their daddy, or Finn’s mom calls to talks to the kids and Santana immediately shut herself down. It was frustrating, to say the least. Rachel had been seeing a grief counselor the past few years and had assured her that sometimes new partners of widows often felt insecure because they knew they could never replace the love lost. She had been assured that it would fade, but here they were almost two years later and Santana was still like this.
“Fine” Rachel finally rolled away from Santana when she refused to even acknowledge her. Rachel slipped from bed and pulled a robe over herself, tying it tightly “I am going to check on the kids.”
Santana rolled her eyes and adjusted the pillow under her head. Of course she was, she cared more about Finn’s precious kids than anything.
That wasn’t fair, the kids were pretty amazing.
She waited until she heard the door close before she rolled to her back with a sigh, her eyes finding the ceiling again. How did they even get here? How did Santana get herself into this situation? She hadn’t even thought about Rachel Berry for three years and then suddenly she was all up in her life. It had been a fairly calm down in her father’s office when a paper slid across her desk for her to put on record then file. The name jumped out at her immediately: Hudson. She stopped what she was doing and read over the details of the sheet. Her heart had hurt just reading it.
Sure, she hadn’t seen Finn since graduation and hadn’t spoken to Rachel since their shared class, her having been out of town when Finn and Rachel had actually gotten married, but she still never wanted to see someone she knew and kind of sort of had liked at one point getting hurt. But here it was in her hands. All of the details of his stay at the hospital, the treatments, the diagnosis, prognosis, outcome. She frowned when she came across the line that had detailed exactly how and why Finn had not survived the surgery. Extensive internal damage to multiple organs. Massive blood loss. Multiple organ failure. Unable to resuscitate and restart heart.
Entering that information into the database had been the hardest thing Santana had ever had to do up until that date. It hit close to home and she knew she had to go to his funeral. Something inside her immediately told her she had to. There was no if ands or buts about it this time, she wasn’t going to miss this.
The funeral had been full of people she recognized, people she had not seen in years. Most of them had moved to bigger cities, but stayed in Ohio. Brittany was there with her that day, the two of them having spent the night before and the night after together, Santana did the comforting and Brittany did the crying. It had reminded Santana why she had loved the girl and served as a painful punch in the gut because, yes, Brittany was still with her wonderful college boyfriend. She always was a kind, caring girl, though, and she and Finn had gotten along well so she had to come say goodbye.
Mike and Tina had made it to pay their respects. Mr. Schuester had showed up. Of course Kurt was there with his father and Finn’s mother. Quinn and her mother were accompanied by Sam and Puck both. It was a pretty big reunion and a nice way to pay respects to a fallen friend. It had been hard to witness because whether they were friends or not, it was never fun to bury someone you knew, especially so young.
The hardest part had been watching Rachel and her kids in complete hysterics. Though Santana had not always been nice to Rachel in high school, she didn’t actually hate her as she said she did. She had grown to actually like her, even admire her a little, by the time they had graduated. Since school, Santana had softened a lot. Maybe it was because she didn’t have to hide behind her self-loathing or fear anymore. But, her heart had grown, it seemed, and on that day it had broken several times over for Rachel and those kids.
The kids. She had fallen in love with them the first day they met. Rachel had seen Santana near the wine table at the gathering after the funeral and approached her to thank her for coming. It was the first time Santana had ever seen Rachel Berry look weak. The two of them shared a hug and Santana offered any help she might need, at any time. To be honest, she figured everyone else had offered the same so she was just being polite. She never really expected Rachel to call her for help.
Then one day Rachel was running late for an interview. She had a screaming two year old that refused to leave her mother’s side. With Lucy in first grade by then, she was at school all day, and Charlie had just started pre-school. That gave Rachel half of the day to look for a better job than the one she had found just after Finn had died. Usually she could get Sadie to stay with one of her fathers for an hour or two while mommy did interviews, but that day there was no hope in that. So out of desperation, Rachel had called Santana.
She asked her to come sit in the lobby of the building Rachel was interviewing at, to hold Sadie and play with her while mommy went into the next room for an interview. Somehow, the plan had worked. Not only had Rachel landed the job, but Santana had fallen for the little girl. When Rachel had demanded Santana come over for dinner that night as a thank you for the help, she had wanted to say no, but Sadie looked up at her with a pout and she was a goner. Later that night, Santana met the two older children and that was that. Any time Rachel needed help with the kids, she would be there. Who knew Santana had such a maternal instinct?
“San?” Rachel’s voice broke Santana’s train of thought and the Latina looked over in the direction it had come from. Rachel had returned to the bedroom and was crawling back into bed with her. “I’m sorry.”
Santana frowned and shook her head a little bit, rolling toward Rachel as soon as she was back under the sheets “It’s alright. We all have moods.”
Rachel wrapped her arms around Santana gently, the two girls shifting in the bed until Santana lay against the mattress and Rachel lay her head against her chest lightly “I’m getting better.” Rachel whispered softly “Less flashbacks. My therapist says that my progress is steady and that you are helping me continue to move forward.”
Santana nodded, kissing the top of her head softly “Shhh” She whispered softly “Let’s get some sleep. Big day tomorrow.”
Rachel nodded and her eyes closed before she mumbled “I love you, Santana.”
A warm smile came to Santana’s lips as her fingers threaded through Rachel’s chestnut colored hair “I love you too, Rach.”
As the smaller girl drifted off to sleep, Santana lay there holding her. She loved being there for her, to hold her when she needed it, to calm her when no one else could, and to fill whatever hole remained in her heart. She deserved to have love and be loved. Those kids deserved to be taken care of by people who truly cared about them. As well as they all worked together, Santana felt that she would always be second best. She would never admit it, but she was probably the one that needed to be seeing the therapist, not Rachel.