Hey everyone! Thanks for all your positive feedback to my first two stories. Here is my new story, of New Directions' senior year. It focuses mostly on Finchel, but other couples and friendships are included and several new characters are introduced. I know lots of people are writing senior year stories, but I hope you enjoy mine and I like seeing everyone's different takes.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Glee or any of the characters on the show, but I do own the new ND members who you'll meet in Chapter 2.

Chapter 1: Summer's Last Hurrah

"Okay, Rachel, just lean against the tree and look up at the sky. Smile in a relaxed way, but don't look at the camera."
Rachel leaned against the tree and stared at the sky, smiling in as relaxed a way as she could. She'd spent the last two hours at the photo studio getting her senior photos taken. She couldn't believe she was already a senior. Where had time gone?
"Okay, that's a wrap!" Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. Not that she didn't enjoy having her picture taken, but she'd been through four scenes, six outfits and two hairstyles and the photoshoot had been exhausting.
"Thanks," Rachel said as she paid the sitting fee her dads had given her and collected the order information. She took her bags of clothes and got in her car, beginning to drive home. Senior year would officially begin in five days - and she was honestly scared.
It had been an unbelievable summer and Rachel hated to see it end. The week after school got out, she and her dads had gone to Europe for two weeks. They spent three days each in London, Paris, Rome and Venice. She'd had a blast visiting the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Hampton Court Palace, Westminster and the River Thames in London, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre in Paris, the Colisseum and the Trevi Fountain in Rome and riding in a gondola in Venice.
Later in the summer, her mom wanted to start a relationship by taking Rachel and her adoptive sister, Beth, to Florida for a week. Rachel had originally not wanted to go, but Finn and Kurt had talked her into going. The week had started out awkward, but Rachel and her mom had lots of bonding time and she'd loved playing at the beach with her new little sister. The week had been just what Rachel needed to get close to her mom and helped them both realize that although they hadn't met until Rachel was a sophomore in high school, it was never too late to be mother and daughter.
While at home in Ohio, the summer had been a blast as well. Rachel, Quinn, Kurt, Mercedes and Tina had a girls night at least once a week, where they got together at one house for movies, music, snacks and a sleepover. Finn was working at a sports day camp for middle school kids, but Rachel hung out with him a lot in the evening and came to the games of the baseball team he was coaching. The glee club had several cookouts together. Rachel also made some money of her own working at the music store. In mid-July, Finn and Kurt's mom had a baby, a girl named Ally, and Finn and Rachel loved babysitting her.
It wasn't that she was dreading going back to school in general. She didn't dislike returning to school any more than the next person did. What she didn't like was knowing this was ultimately her last year of childhood. That in another year, she'd be thrown into an unknown world. A totally new routine would take the place of the sheltered life she'd enjoyed for seventeen years.
Most people grew excited for the end of high school from the time they entered and began counting down the days before the end of junior year. Rachel wasn't rushing senior year at all. Rather, she hoped it would go by slowly. She didn't want to leave Finn or her family or her friends from Glee.
Was there something wrong with her? Before Finn and New Directions had come into her life, she had been super excited about going to a music school and preparing for a Broadway career. She had a list of dream roles she wanted to play on Broadway, but now knew that there was more life could offer her. For the first time in her life, she had a group of people who loved her and supported her and had a nice group of friends.
Rachel had filled out applications to Princeton, Juilliard, NYU, Johns Hopkins and Northwestern. (The limit from her parents was five schools.) Her essay was coming along and she just needed to get her transcripts once school started. Then, her applications would be in the mail.
She hadn't really talked to her friends about where they were applying. Not everyone liked to talk about it because no one knew where they would get in. She knew Kurt wanted to go to school in New York or Chicago and that Quinn was mostly applying to big state schools in Ohio, hoping to go to school with Sam. Mercedes and Tina weren't quite sure where they wanted to go and Brittany - well, it was no secret that her only hope was community college.
Unfortunately for Rachel and Finn, going to college together most likely wasn't an option. Finn's mother couldn't afford to send him out of state. His best hope of being able to afford an in-state school was a football or a music scholarship. His first choice was Ohio State, but he was also applying to Ohio University, Kent State, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green and Toledo. Rachel tried to convince him to apply to some of the less prestigious schools she'd applied to, but he told her he didn't have the best grades (though they had drastically improved) and even if he was accepted, there was no way he'd receive enough money to go there with her.
With the five school limit her parents had set, she wasn't applying to any in-state schools. Finn told her not to hold back from her dreams, that they could still stay in touch and that four years apart during the school year wouldn't kill their relationship.
Rachel pulled into her driveway and unlocked the house. Both her dads were at work, so the house was hers. She went to the computer and checked her e-mail. Four e-mails from colleges about deadlines for applications, one from iTunes about their new special - and one from Finn. She smiled and opened the one from Finn right away.
Hey Rachel,
I'm finally getting started on my college applications. I probably should have done what you did and filled out my applications in July when they first released them. At least lots of the state schools don't have essays. OSU does, so I wanted you to read over it for me. I don't know where I'll get in, but I can dream, right? The essay topic was to write 300-500 words about a person who has impacted your life, for better or for worse. I chose to write about you, because nobody has changed me for the better more than you. I want to get the application in soon, so could you read over it for me and let me know what you think?
I love you!

A Person Who Has Impacted My Life
Finn Christopher Hudson
William McKinley High School
Lima, OH
At the beginning of high school, I watched as my friends threw slushees on people and tossed people into the dumpster. I didn't like it, but I was afraid to stand up to them. I feared I would be kicked out of the group of "friends" I had and then become abused by them. While I didn't like what they did, nobody gave me crap, so I didn't fight it.
Then at the beginning of my sophomore year, I joined the glee club and formed a relationship with Rachel almost right away. At first she freaked me out with her larger-than-life personality which turned others off, but when I heard her sing for the first time, I knew something must be there.
Turns out there's so much more to Rachel than her voice. As the male and female lead singers of the club, we got to know each other better and I realized how much more there was to Rachel than her voice. When it all came down to it, we weren't that different. She was the music geek and I was the quarterback of the football team. She was a target of the other jocks. We were both struggling to find our place in the world. All we both wanted was to feel special and accepted and were willing to do just about anything to get that, even if it went against our morals.
We got to know each other and the rest is history. Despite the fact that I was already in a relationship with someone else, I was falling in love with Rachel immediately. With her, I could be myself and I never felt like the fifth wheel. She liked who I was, even when I was insecure about it. We helped each other realize that we should be who WE want to be, not who we felt we were supposed to be.
I decided to stop watching my "friends" pick on the nerds of the school. By joining Glee, I made REAL friends. Rachel was the closest of the REAL friends I made. I can talk to her about anything. We've had our ups and downs, but meeting her and bonding in Glee is the best thing that's ever happened to me.
She makes me want to be a better person. She has helped me become a better person. She's the other half of me. I love her for who she is and she loves me for who I am. Everyone should have someone like Rachel in their life.

By the time Rachel finished reading Finn's essay, she had tears in her eyes. Finn could have written about anyone. He could have written about Mr. Schue, who was his father figure, filled in by being the father he never had. He could have written about Kurt, whose bravery had inspired him. But he chose to write about Rachel. Rachel could have written the same essay about Finn. He, too, inspired her to be a better person.
She quickly e-mailed Finn back.
Dear Finn,
I would not change a thing about your essay! I was so moved by it and so honored you chose to write about me. Your writing has improved so much in the time that I've known you. I could say those exact same things - and more - about you. I can't believe at this time next year we'll be separated. See you soon - I love you!

Would Finn and Rachel's relationship survive college? So many couples broke up before even leaving for college. Rachel hadn't asked Finn if he wanted to consider that. She didn't want to. She and Finn had been through so much already - would the end of this year be the end of Finchel?
Rachel's thought were interrupted when her phone went off with a text message from Quinn: Hey girl! Did you finish your senior pics? I wanna see them!
Rachel smiled and texted back: Yeah, I just got back from the studio. I'll show them to you at our girls night tonight
Against all odds, Rachel and Quinn had become great friends. They had roomed together at Nationals and enjoyed each other's company, and since then, they'd spent the summer going shopping, hanging out at the pool, spending time at each other's houses, having as much fun as they could. One week had brought them very close together and they now told each other virtually everything.
It was the last girls night of the summer and this week it was at Rachel's house. Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Quinn and even Brittany were coming. The night was fun at first. Kurt and the girls watched a movie and listened to music and chatted. As they laid out their sleeping bags, Brittany shouted, "Let's play the secret game!"
"Okay, let's all write our names on a strip and put them in the basket," Rachel said. As she wrote her name, she prayed she wouldn't be first.
Luckily for Rachel, Quinn's name came out of the basket first.
"Well, Rachel, you already knew this, but this is my deepest, darkest, secret," Quinn said. "I didn't really love Finn when we got back together. It was fairly obvious that I just wanted to be prom queen. But what nobody knew was - I had a secret boyfriend."
The others gasped.
"Yeah," Quinn continued. "His name was Danny. I met him at a church event. We saw each other secretly for months. Then he left me for a girl he met at a concert at his sister's middle school and I realized how stupid and wrong what I did was."
"Oh my God," Tina said.
"Great secret, Quinn, you totally have our trust," Mercedes said. "I get to pick the next name." She picked a name out of the hat. "Brittany."
Brittany still had feelings for Artie, even though she was with Santana. Tina hated most of her extended family but pretended to like them at family gatherings. Kurt had been kissed by Dave Karofsky. Mercedes had stolen money from work...
"Okay, Rachel, your turn," Tina said.
Rachel knew what her big secret was. How scared she was for college. How much she feared her relationship with Finn ending. She didn't know if she wanted to tell anyone though. "Uh, I don't have anything, really," she said.
"Yes you do!" Kurt said. "Come on Rachel!"
"Okay, I'd really like to touch Finn's penis," Rachel said.
"You told us that," Tina said. "Last time we played the secret game."
"Come on, Rachel, you've got to have a bigger secret," Mercedes said. "Every girl wants to touch her boyfriend all over."
"Fine." Rachel sighed. "Here's my real secret. I am really scared about college. It's not that I'm worried I won't get in anywhere. I just - I hate the idea of being in a totally new environment! I hate it! I'm so worried it'll be too much for me and that the people there won't like me and that the classes will be too hard and I'll just become a miserable failure. Worse, I'm worried that my relationship with Finn may unravel and I may lose my friends... For the first time in my life, I have real friends and I don't want to lose them!" She began crying.
Quinn put her arm around Rachel. "Aw, Rach, it's okay." She gave Rachel a hug. "I'm worried about college, too. We all are."
"Yeah," Kurt agreed. "That's nothing to be ashamed of."
"That's what these nights are for," Quinn said. "We need time to enjoy each other's company and tell each other the things we can't tell anyone else."
"So true!" Mercedes said. "And us girls are going to stick together, when we enter McKinley High as SENIORS on Monday!"
Everyone cheered, even Rachel, who smiled to herself. She had a feeling senior year was going to be a lot of fun and really exciting.