Title: Defying Gravity
Spoilers: Set after 1.09, "Wheels"
Disclaimer: I don't have or claim any ownership of Glee or Wicked.
Authors Note: My first fic in quite a while, but hopefully the first of a few. I love Glee and it's inspiring me to write again. The characters may seem a little OOC, because while I love them, each of them seem more caricatures than real people most of the time, so I'll tone them down. I'm not completely happy or comfortable with writing Rachel, so crit. about her specifically would be greatly appreciated. Unbeta'd one-shot of a scene between Kurt and Rachel I would have loved to see.
Kurt's hands flittered over the keys of the piano in the practice room, never putting enough pressure to play a note. It was comforting, in some weird, masochistic way, to do this after all the work he had put into the song. He had wanted the solo with everything in him, but in the end he knew that he couldn't take it. As supportive as his father was, it was hard enough for him to deal with having a gay son without him exacerbating the situation in any way.
Kurt winced; the one person he didn't want to see right now, and he had to deal with Rachel Berry rubbing it in. What a glorious world this was.
"Kurt?" she said again, a little more hesitantly. She took a couple of steps into the room, her shoes making quiet noises in the otherwise silent room. "I just wanted to say-"
"That you won like you knew you would, because you're the better singer? There's no need to rub it in, Rachel," Kurt said in the harshest voice Rachel had ever heard him use. She flinched back, which would have tempered Kurt's annoyance if he had bothered turning in her direction. It didn't stop her though; Rachel knew that she was doing the right thing by being here though, even if it was difficult.
"You can hit the high F." The words, though quietly spoken, sounded like an accusation to Kurt.
He stood, moving away from the piano and spun to face her. "I don't know what you're talking about," he began in full diva-mode, but it faded somewhat when he saw Rachel. She was standing nervously, playing with the hem of her skirt in her hands, looking worried and concerned and confused. But determined too, like nothing could stop her from getting this out. As if anything could stop Rachel Berry. "I blew the note."
"On purpose." That was definitely an accusation. "You've got an amazing falsetto Kurt, and I've heard you sing that note before. It might not be within your normal range, but with a little work and practice you could hit it with regularity. And you did practice."
"I- You're wrong," Kurt stopped and started, not entirely sure how he could get away with this against Rachel Berry. She wouldn't let this go, and Kurt wasn't sure he could lie to her convincingly. She would make a great police officer with her interrogation techniques. Or a CIA agent with her torture techniques, since she wanted to go global. "I mean I did practice," Kurt began, and he really shouldn't have thought about Rachel being an interrogator since he was babbling out everything now. "But I was shaky on the high F if anything, and while I had a chance to hit it in the audition, I didn't, and-"
"Shut up Kurt." And he did, his jaw snapping shut with a click of his teeth, because did Rachel Berry just tell him to shut up? That didn't do with his image of the girl at all. Girls he referred to by both names in his head did not say such simple things like the words 'shut' and 'up' in that sequence.
"Look," she said, feeling even more uncomfortable than before. "I'm not self-centred enough to think that you missed the note for me, just so that everyone else would vote for me to prove that it isn't a popularity contest and that I did have some pull with the rest of the club in that they, at the very least, recognised my potential and ability by far surpassed yours, and could admit to it.
"But," she said, pausing with an amused look covering her face. Her tone sounded anything but amused to Kurt though, it sounded rather self-deprecating, actually. "I'm apparently self-centred enough for it to have crossed my mind. I just ..." she shrugged, seemingly running out of words after that long tirade. The awkwardness returned, Rachel shifting on the spot as Kurt continued to look at her as though she were a freak; something she had experienced from a lot of people, but not from the original Glee clubbers very often. It hurt.
"You did it on purpose. And I suppose I wanted to know why." Her voice was soft, whisper-quiet and she wasn't looking at him.
"Because you want to make sure everyone acknowledges your far greater ability by beating me when I'm at my best, just to prove that you are better than me? Is that it?" Kurt wasn't thinking much about the words when he said them, but the stricken look on Rachel's face made him stop. Rachel Berry did not look stricken, not ever. She wasn't supposed to regret things.
Kurt looked down himself, taking a deep breath as he prepared himself to apologise. Okay, so maybe it was a little overreaction on his part to say it out loud, but she could hardly expect him to think any differently. He looked up and stopped short once more.
Rachel had reached up and taken strands of hair in her hands, which she was now pulling in frustration. "Why does everyone think I'm some unfeeling shrew?!" she shrilled, which made Kurt wince somewhat, but mostly he was just surprised. Rachel was acting, well, most unlike herself. She had never worried about what people thought of her before. Of course, he never seemed to care either, and that was far from the truth. People had a way of getting under his skin, even if it was just the idiots on the football team; maybe the same was true for her.
All he said to her, though, was "You shouldn't pull your hair like that. You'll pull the follicle and if you pull any hairs out they'll come in frizzy."
It was Rachel's turn to look surprised, though she did as he said and lowered her hands, sighing. Moving over to one of the chairs that were set up between herself and Kurt, she sat and placed her hands in her lap, looking up at him after a moment. "I just ... want to understand I guess. You're talented Kurt," she said with complete sincerity, leaning towards him as she spoke. "And you've never been afraid to fight for a part before. Why now?"
Kurt looked at her for a long moment, wondering whether he should tell her the truth or not. His mouth apparently made the decision before his mind had, because he started talking too soon afterwards. "My dad."
"Your dad?" she repeated in confusion, before a look of anger took over. "Your dad made you quit the song?!" Rachel Berry was angry, but not at him; she was angry for him. She thought that his father didn't want him singing the feminine song, and that he had listened.
"No," he said with a shake of his head and a small laugh. He headed over to her and took one of her other seats. "My dad fought so that I could have the part, he wanted me to try. But he ... There was a phone call; some idiot called him up and told him I was a fag. He knew that, of course, but he, uh ... didn't take it well." Kurt was embarrassed, looking anywhere but at Rachel. He hadn't even told Mercedes what had happened, but here he was telling Rachel Berry of all people.
"You wanted to protect him." Again she used that soft, intimate and so unlike Rachel Berry voice again. Kurt's nodded, even as he continued to look at his shoes. They really were far superior to hers.
"Yes. I can handle all the ridicule, I'm sort of used to it by now," he said somewhat wryly. "But he can't. And he shouldn't have to," he said in a stronger voice, looking up at Rachel now. "Not because of me."
Kurt had been sure that Rachel was about to give him one of her infamous Rachel Berry lectures about how he couldn't give up his dreams and talent for someone else, even if that someone else was his father, so nothing surprised him more than the warm smile that covered her lips, perfectly complimenting the intimate voice. "I understand."
Kurt blinked at her. "You do?"
"Yeah." It was Rachel's turn to get embarrassed now, though her voice still held the usual lecturing quality, even if it was softer and less patronising than usual. "We're not all that dissimilar, you know Kurt. I'm derided just as much, if not more than what you are, and like you, I am strong enough to handle it. But my fathers' aren't."
"They don't know?"
Rachel shook her head, but stayed silent. She looked at him with a tilted head, trying to understand his surprise.
"Sorry, it's just we all kind of figured that you went home every night and cried to your fathers' about getting sushied." Kurt was embarrassed about it, cheeks flushing with red and looking abashed. Once again, he was showing how well he knew Rachel Berry. And it was turning out to be not very well at all.
"No," she said once, quietly and sadly. "I just ... can't. They'd be so sad and disappointed. Not in me, but they," she sighed. "And they'd worry and obsess and want to try to do something, and I can handle it." She turned to Kurt, and they looked at each other with understanding eyes. "They can't."
"Yeah," Kurt said absently, putting one of his hands over her two in her lap and sighing again. They stayed in silence, both commiserating over what their parents had to deal with. While they were both self-proclaimed divas, neither had imagined having something like this in common. Kurt felt astonishment and surprising guilt over the fact that Rachel Berry was able to prove that she was a real person with depth to her life and person beyond just being the best, and Rachel felt like she might have actually formed a proper bond with a fellow Gleek. It had been too long coming.
Surprisingly enough, the silence was not broken by Rachel, but by Kurt. He had become bored with the silence eventually, instead turning to his companion and newfound close friend with a critical eye. "You know, you really are a contradiction."
Rachel smiled at him and turned towards him, thankful to be brought out of her somewhat depressing thoughts. "Oh? How do you mean?" She was sure that this was going to be his apology, of sorts, for thinking so little of her.
"Well, your skirt says 'come and get it boys', but your sweaters say that you're a prude. Which is it?"
Rachel's mouth fell, and her entire face turned bright red. "Kurt!" she shrieked, properly scandalised.
"What?" he asked with no shame. "I want to know. At first I thought that you were going for the hot librarian look, but your skirts are much too short and flouncy for that. Besides, your tops aren't low cut enough." If possible, Rachel turned redder. "So which is it? Experienced sex kitten or shy and awkward virgin?"
Rachel shifted awkwardly in her seat and looked down. "Is there some medium between the two?" she asked meekly.
Kurt gasped dramatically. "Rachel Berry! You hussy you!"
Their laughter could be heard in the hall, stopping Mr. Schuester from entering the room. And when the two of them came to him the following day, Rachel dressed somewhat differently from what she normally was, and asked (or demanded, really) that the short from Defying Gravity be turned into a duet for sectionals, because (as Rachel had explained it) the lyrics to the song could just as easily be applied to a couple defying the unfair limitations society insisted upon as a singular person, he gave in. You know. For the good of Glee club.