Hey everyone! Thanks so much for such positive reception to my last few stories. When I joined FanFic nearly a year ago I thought no one would read or like my stories, but here we are now, and I'm on my eighth story!

This story is slightly AU. It takes place in January 2012, but Finn has not proposed to Rachel, nor has he found out the truth about his dad. All the events of the first half of Season 3 have taken place, and all the couples are the same (but I'm not saying it won't become the couples I like later on). In this story, Rachel has just been accepted to NYADA and Finn is considering joining the army, but a shocking twist of events changes everything.

The first chapter of my future Finchel fic will be up in a few days. Please comment on this chapter and let me know if I should keep going!

Chapter 1: Crisis

Today was the day. The day Rachel had circled on her calendar the day she sent her application in. Today, she would find out if she had gotten into NYADA. E-mails would be sent at noon.

She was proud of her resume, all the singing and dancing competitions she'd won, all the extracurriculars, female lead of New Directions, lead in the school musical, perfect grades. Her audition had gone well. She'd sang what many had told her was her best song, "Don't Rain On My Parade."

But there were lots of talented people out there… would she get in? She hadn't even made the Top 10 with New Directions at Nationals and she and Kurt had met some talented people at the NYADA mixer.

No more time for worrying. Today she'd find out. And even if she didn't get in, her fears would be put to rest. At least today she'd know if she was good enough.

Her dads had left for work early, so she had the house to herself. She had a quick breakfast and then drove to school. She wasn't sure if it was such a good idea to be driving when she was THIS worried, but at noon, it would all be settled.

Rachel arrived at school, the snow falling quickly around her. She knew there was no way she could focus in her classes today. The only thing on her mind was her NYADA application.

When Rachel arrived at school, Finn was waiting at her locker. Seeing Finn always brought a smile to Rachel's face. The only hard part was that if she went to NYADA, they wouldn't see each other every day anymore. She would miss him so much.

"Today's the big day," Finn said, smiling and hugging Rachel.

"I'm so nervous," Rachel sighed.

Finn gave Rachel a kiss. "Don't be. You're going to get in. The only thing you should be nervous about is all the guys who will be after you there."

"There's only one guy for me," Rachel said. "YOU."

Finn put his arm around Rachel. "Look, if you want, I'll look at the e-mail for you, okay?"

"Okay," Rachel said. Hand in hand, she and Finn began walking to their first period class. She couldn't believe how quickly their time together was going by.

X

Rachel barely paid attention in her morning classes. The only thought running through her mind was "Did I get in?" At their lunch hour, Finn and Rachel headed silently to the library. They could be completely silent and it never felt uncomfortable. When they reached the row of computers, they found Kurt and Blaine sitting together in a deep embrace.

"Hi Kurt. Hi Blaine," Finn said.

"Kurt got into NYADA!" Blaine announced proudly.

"That's amazing!" Rachel said. "We're here to find out if I did, too." She did feel happy for Kurt, even if she herself didn't get in.

Finn sat down at the computer and typed in Rachel's e-mail address and password as she nervously paced around. Kurt and Blaine looked over Finn's shoulder. As Finn looked at the screen, a smile popped on to his face.

"You'd better come read this for yourself, Rachel," Finn said proudly.

This had to be good news. Rachel crawled on to Finn's lap and began reading the e-mail.

Dear Rachel,

Congratulations! We are happy to inform you that you have been accepted to New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts' Class of 2016….

Rachel didn't need to read further. She screamed with delight and threw her arms around Finn's neck, kissing him passionately.

"Quiet down!" the librarian called.

"Sorry," Rachel giggled.

"That's not all, keep reading!" Finn said.

Rachel continued to read, learning that she had earned a full scholarship. She hugged Finn tightly, barely believing her good luck.

"Looks like we're going to New York together!" Kurt said, hugging Rachel.

"I'm so excited!" Rachel said. "We need to look into apartments and Broadway passes immediately!" All her worries from this morning were gone. She now pictured herself living in her favorite city on Earth with her best friend, taking classes in singing, dancing and acting and going to Broadway shows every weekend.

"I'll come visit," Finn sighed.

Rachel gave Finn a kiss. "I'll miss you. Are you SURE you can't come to New York?"

"I don't think I'm good enough to get into schools there," Finn admitted.

"You ARE good enough," Rachel said.

"No I'm not," Finn mumbled.

"Don't worry Finn, maybe you can do a year of community college and then you and I can join Rachel and Kurt in a year," Blaine said.

"We'll see," Finn said.

Rachel sighed. She wanted so badly for Finn to join her in New York.

X

Three days after Rachel's NYADA acceptance letter came, she was still over the moon. She and Kurt were talking constantly about Broadway and New York, and Finn felt a little left out. He knew from day one that NYADA was inevitable. Rachel was going to be a big star, but what about Finn? What would he make of himself? His grades weren't the best. Blaine was now the male star of New Directions. He'd already been denied a football scholarship. Burt may have wanted him to take over the shop but there was nothing special about that.

Then it hit him. His dad was a hero. He'd been in the army. Maybe Finn should join the army and make something of himself?

There was no way his mom would want him to. She'd already lost her first husband. Rachel probably wouldn't like the idea either. But if he couldn't sing, he couldn't play football and he couldn't get an academic scholarship, what else was left?

Finn got out his computer and looked up the local branch of the military. He called the recruiter and set up a meeting for after school the next day. Breaking the news to his mom and to Rachel wouldn't be easy.

x

Finn had met with the recruiter and now had the paperwork in his locker. It was a scary idea, no doubt, but it would also probably be rewarding and the benefits were good.

Finn glanced at the papers again. He still hadn't said a word to his mom or to Rachel. Then he felt Rachel nudge his back. "Finn?"

"Hey Rach," Finn said, looking into Rachel's eyes. He knew it would break her heart if she knew.

"You know, lots of the other schools in New York are still taking applications," Rachel said, weaving her fingers into Finn's.

Finn paused. Maybe now would be as good a time as any to tell Rachel. "I... I met for a recruiter," Finn mumbled. "For the army." He took a deep breath, preparing himself to take in whatever was to come.

"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FREAKING MIND?" Rachel shouted. "FINN CHRISTOPHER HUDSON WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? YOU COULD FUCKING DIE! I'LL ONLY BE IN NEW YORK FOR FOUR YEARS AND THEN YOU CAN COME JOIN ME. WE CAN DO LONG DISTANCE, BUT FINN - THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA! YOU COULD GET KILLED, YOU COULD GET YOUR BODY PERMANENTLY DAMAGED!" She just burst into tears and ran down the hallway.

"She took that well," Finn mumbled to himself. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea - but what else was there?

x

"I can't believe he's doing this," Rachel said, even tired of hearing herself saying that. She and Kurt had decided to have a sleepover tonight to look at apartment buildings in New York online. Rachel's dads were out to dinner, so they had the house all to themselves right now.

"It's Finn, don't take him seriously," Kurt said, apparently not bothered. He looked at the apartment building on the page Rachel had open. "This one's close to Macy's! We should get it!"

"Rent is $800 a month," Rachel said. "Not a good idea..."

"Rachel, don't worry about this," Kurt said. "Did Finn say that FOR SURE he was going to the army?"

"No," Rachel admitted. "But he sounds like he doesn't think he has many other options. I know your dad wants him to do the tire shop, but he doesn't seem to be interested... he doesn't think he's good enough for New York..."

Rachel paused when she heard a siren go off in the distance. It sent a chill down her spine, thinking that if Finn went to the army, that could be an army emergency vehicle coming for him.

"Don't worry, Finn's at my house and he's fine," said Kurt, hugging Rachel.

Rachel forced a smile and turned back to Kurt, who had already opened a Broadway window and was looking at the shows that would be playing in the fall. She had a feeling he'd be a lot of fun to live in New York with.

Another two hours had passed and there was no sign of Rachel's dads. Rachel was at least marginally distracted, and she and Kurt were pretty sure they'd found a good apartment building.

"Where are your dads?" Kurt asked.

Rachel suddenly remembered that her dads had been out. "I don't know," she admitted. "Maybe they decided to do something else, but I would have thought they'd call me."

The doorbell rang. "I'll be right back," Rachel told Kurt. She went to open the door and went into shock when she saw a policeman standing there.

"Rachel Berry?" the policeman asked.

Rachel nodded. "That's me."

The officer looked at Rachel. "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you."

Rachel gulped. As if he knew something bad had happened, Kurt came into the vestibule and stood by Rachel's side.

"I'm glad you seem to have a friend over, because you'll need him when you hear this news," the officer said. "Rachel, I'm sorry to tell you this, but your fathers were in a car accident this evening. Their car slid off the road and into a tree. They both died of head injuries."

Rachel couldn't breathe. Could this really be true? Shock and horror rushed through her mind as she began sobbing. Kurt gave her a hug and she began sobbing into her friend's shoulder.

As of now, her life was officially a mess.