Author's Note: This is my first Glee fic. It's slightly AU because I've set it about four years after the plot taking place within the current season. I won't give you pairings because I like stuff like that to be a surprise. All that being said, enjoy, and please review.

"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume"

-Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene VI)

It doesn't matter how often you perform, there's always the moment, just before the lights come up, where the butterflies that rest within your stomach decide to perform an act of their own, kick-flipping with a style even the grandest choreographer would be proud of. But then when the switch is flipped, and the heat of the lights beats down on the back of your neck, they settle away. You belt out that first note, you rock your first dance step.

Because once the lights come up, all eyes are on you.

It's that moment, when all the eyes are on me, that I live for. It's that moment that I left Ohio at the tender age of seventeen to find. Because while show choir – while Mr. Schue and the Glee Club – gave that to me for a little while, I needed more. Rachel Berry always needs more. I'm not, nor have I ever been the type of girl that settles.

This is why, I suppose, that at the still young age of twenty, I'm already starring in a Broadway production. Playing Wendla Bergman in Spring Awakening. Six days a week, twice a day. And there isn't a minute I don't love it.

Okay. That was a lie. There are moments where I hate that my entire career relies on my voice. Like right now, when I'm trying to enjoy my single day off, but I can't because my throat is on fire. I'll try to avoid talking, but I can never seem to shut up long enough to truly rest my voice. But here's the sheer truth: the ends absolutely justify the means.

I wouldn't go back and do anything differently.

Still stretched out comfortably in my powernap position, I crack one eye open slowly, taking survey of how much housework I need to complete within my remaining few hours off. My throat is still throbbing, and my body aches with exhaustion. My one bedroom apartment in Stamford Connecticut, thirty minutes outside of New York, seemed like an excellent investment at the time. Which of course, was before I realized that renting a space of your own, on your own, meant you had to keep it clean. By yourself. I like things clean. But as I've discovered recently, I don't like to be the one that has to clean them.

So during the week, shoes get dropped by the doorway, clothes fall off next, often being flung over the back of the beat up, forest green, secondhand couch that envelops most of my living area. Though sometimes, my aim is poor enough that a sweatshirt will land atop my television set, or fall onto the floor and slide through the open space and into the kitchen. Which is dirty enough on its own, because somehow, the used dishes have a habit of filling up the sink, then scattering themselves along the countertops. I'm probably the type of person who should invest in paper plates and plastic silverware, but I tried that once. And I ran out, and forgot to buy more. I was dish-less for a week. Needless to say, I abandoned that plan pretty quickly.

The only room in the entire place that stays clean all the time is just past the kitchen, behind a closed door, my bedroom. Which, yeah, is ironic. Because when I am home, it's probably the room I spend the most time in. But then again, I guess unless you're a crazy person who sleepwalks and destroys things in the process, a room that you literally use just for sleeping wouldn't get that messy.

Finally, after a few moments of sighing - yet another deliberate procrastination move - I drag myself off the couch, and decide to tackle the mountain of dishes first. iPod speakers sit on the only counter space not occupied with a dirty dish of some kind or another, and I need to promise myself that if I do put on music, that I won't sing along. That I'll at least make some form of an effort to rest my voice. So I swear up, down, backwards, forwards and even in French that I won't jam out, before I allow myself to plug in my iTouch and press play.

It takes a moment, shuffling through my five thousand songs, searching for one to begin with. When it finally settles on an old Celine Dion love ballad, I nod my head along in tune with the music, yank some dishes from the sink, so I have space, and get down to work.

It takes me three hours to get the apartment back into something resembling order. And I've just barely finished when I hear a key turning slowly within the tumblers of my front door lock. Scrambling, I shut off my iPod which was blasting show-tunes, and I plaster a smile on my face as the only person I've wanted to see all day steps inside my home.

"Rachel." He says my name on a breath, softly, but not gently. Ice plays in his tone, and I wonder why.

Alexander Lysocheck is not the kind of person I imagined I'd wind up with. Sure, he's tall and built in the same way Finn was in high school. A strong square jaw, with a mass of dark hair that tends to fall lopsided over his left eye. Physically, he's everything I've always been attracted to. But there's something distinctly different about him. Something new, raw, and perhaps a little scary. On some level, it's intimidating, but I've never been one to back away from a challenge.

"Alex." I respond smoothly, stepping towards him, my hand outstretched. "I've missed you."

He cups my face in his hands, lowers his lips to mine, sinking me into a fiery kiss.

"Where have you been all day?" he mutters, lips still inches from mine. It takes me a moment to catch my breath, find my voice again.

"Right here. I took a nap, cleaned up a little."

His eyebrow shoots upwards, but he says nothing more, simply takes my hand and pulls me down onto the beat-up sofa. He's kissing me again, mouths pressed together, hands dancing their way underneath my tank-top fumbling with the clasp on my bra.

I press my hand to his chest, my plea breathless. "Wait. Stop."

"Come on Rach, I haven't seen you in three days. Don'tcha wanna do this for me?"

He looks so sad, so helpless. For a brief moment, I'm rendered speechless. "Of course I do…" I finally spit out. "But I was hoping we could go out and grab an early dinner or something."

"We can eat after" he says, voice filled with ice. But the chill his tone has taken doesn't prevent him from touching me again, running his hands where I don't want them, where I'm powerless to keep them from going.

The sound of his zipper sliding down, my skirt rustles as he pushes it up. With a gasp, he's inside me. It takes everything I have not to cry out, to take shallow breaths as I wait for him to finish.

He comes, announcing his release with a low guttural grunt just as my cell phone begins to vibrate on the end table beside the couch. Alex rolls off me, panting and exhausted from his workout. I force myself to exhale in an attempt to steady my mind. I glance at the display. The theatre. The fact that they're calling on my day off can only mean my understudy is either ill or hurt, and they need me to come in and perform tonight. I look at Alex through the corners of my eye, and he scowls, but nods, motioning for me to answer the call.

Within minutes I'd promised to be there in an hour. I've hardly disconnected before Alex has gripped my arm with all his strength.

"You owe me an evening now."

He's hurting me, and I can't find my voice, so I simply nod.

We say nothing more, and after another five minutes, he's gone.

The lock clicks behind him, and I will myself not to cry as I sprint around collecting what I need before leaving myself.

By the time the lights go down, signifying the end of another successful evening, I've found my center again. I can't fight the bitter sense of disappointment that encompasses me though, I know I haven't done my best. No sour notes, but I feel like something was missing none the less. And knowing that annoys me. I don't like to settle for less than the best. So, while I can say I have put the afternoons events behind me, and I'm relatively calm again, I'm still sitting in my dressing room, slowly wiping make-up from my face, sulking. Moping and wishing I had a hot cup of tea to soothe my aching throat.

A knock on the door distracts me from that thought. I lean backwards and yank it open, finding myself face to face with one of the security guards, Hank DeMayo. I give him a gentle smile, which he returns. Hank is a giant contradiction, over six feet of bulky tough black male, and soft as melted ice cream on the inside. You can't help but like him. He shuffles his feet on the ground before speaking slowly.

"Miz Berry, I'm sorry, I know it was apposed to be your night off, and you don't feel good and all, but there's a gentleman outside and he really wants to talk to you…"

I feel my eyebrows shoot upwards, all traces of serenity vanishing from my face. "Mr. Lysocheck?"

Hank shakes his head. "Shucks Miz Berry, no. We all know the leading lady's man. Know enough to let him back no questions. This guy claims he was your high school Spanish teacher or something."

Excitement replaces the fear that had flooded my system. "William Schuester?"

He snaps his fingers and points at me, breaking out into a grin. "That's his name!"

I laugh. "It's alright, let him back."

Hank nods, and disappears. I take a moment to finish cleaning my face.

"Well. Well. Look who's a big broadway star."

I wish I had some witty comeback, but when I see him, I find I'm so excited to see a familiar face, I only jump up and squeal, throwing my arms around his neck in a viselike hug. When we finally break apart, he's still smiling.

"You look fantastic." He mutters, taking a step back and looking me over. "And you sounded even better."

"I wouldn't have gotten this far without you and Glee Mr. Schue."

"I doubt that. You would've wound up here either way. You were always the best we had. Haven't won nationals since you graduated."

I blush, and wave him off. "So, what brings you all the way to New York?"

"Job-hunting." He says softly. And I suppose the confusion is evident upon my face, because he elaborates without me asking for it. "Emma and I broke up… I needed a change."

"Wait." I pause, trying not to giggle. "Emma, Miss Pillsbury, Emma?"

He does laugh. "It was no secret we were dating Rachel."

"I know. I mean, I can remember when you started. I guess I'm just surprised you stayed together so long." I shrug "I'm still young enough to think that romances can't… or won't last."

"I'm romantic enough to believe there's someone out there for everyone. But in my case, I've not yet found it. You're right, in this case, the relationship wasn't meant to last. We just grew apart. Or I changed. Or both."

"I'm sorry Mr. Schue, as little faith as I have in relationships; I know break-ups suck."

"True. But in this case, It was for the best."

He cups my chin in his hands, and stares at my face. "I don't want to talk about my lousy love life. Tell me all about you being this big broadway star. I had no idea. News like this doesn't make it back to Lima."

"It was no secret Mr. Schue."

He makes a face at having his own words spit back at him. I laugh. "And call me Will. I'm not your teacher anymore Rachel." He blows out a breath. "but seriously, I had no idea you were in this show. I'm really glad I decided to see it. Total whim that paid off."

"I'm glad too. It's pretty cool to have had a friend in the audience."

"Better than having a creepy stalker fan out there, huh?"

"I've had a few of those, so I can say, without a doubt, absolutely. They're hard to deter after they've seen your bare breasts."

Will laughs awkwardly, remembering my brief moment of in show semi-nudity. I lift my bag off the floor, shifting it onto my shoulder and change the subject. "So, where are you off to tonight?"

"No special plans. Wanted to catch a show and have a drink. Obviously did the first, so it would follow I should find somewhere to do the latter." He pauses. "suggestions?"

"I'm still underage." I remind him playfully with an innocent laugh. "I wouldn't know the first thing about alcohol."

"You are a bad liar. Always were."

I shrug. "Okay, You caught me. I know a few places we could go, and catch up a little more."

"I can't think of anything I'd rather do."

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