Disclaimer: I do not claim to own anything of Glee or Rent.
It was the day Jesse finally came back to her after spending spring break out in San Diego with some friends from Vocal Adrenaline. Due to the trip, Rachel hadn't been able to see him for days. Even though he hadn't been talking to her after the whole 'Run, Joey, Run' stunt, she had at least been able to see him. Then he left…but none of that mattered now, because now he was back and she had a plan to make him forgive her. Of course, this plan included a song that not only showcased her amazing talent, but also so sincerely expressed her regret over her actions that he would take her back the moment she finished belting out the last note.
As Rachel walked into school this morning, her smile was at its brightest. Her 'Get-Jesse-Back-ASAP' plan was already going perfectly. There was a minor mishap in which her hair did not cooperate with her detailed timetable and cut into her appointed makeup applying time, but in the end she handled the setback like a star. Her outfit still expressed her vivacious personality but was subdued to reflect her current heartbreak status (this had taken a significant number of hours of thought to accomplish). She even prepared a suitable second outfit just in case there was a slushie mishap. The only variable in her plan was Jesse himself. Would he show up to school today or take another day off? Would he skip Glee practice to catch up on all the homework? Would he be able to fully understand her complete and utter regret at putting her popularity above their relationship? Would he forgive her? These were absolutely essential pieces to her plan that unfortunately she just had to accept as variables and move forward with her plan anyway.
Fortunately her alternate option was a third outfit (it definitely wasn't on the same level as the first two, but sacrifices must be made) to attempt the plan tomorrow if Jesse, for some reason, did not appear at Glee rehearsal today. Of course, that didn't take care of all the variables, but most of her other doubts came from Jesse reactions to the plan. Those reactions she could only imagine and attempt to create facial expressions that contained her strength and independence as a woman while also furthering her cause to fix her relationship with Jesse. Those were last resorts, though. Her talent and emotion will surely see her through this situation.
Rachel found her way through the hallways to her locker. As she's putting her books away, she multitasks and scans the hallway for any signs of the one and only Jesse St. James.
Unfortunately, she only sees Finn, and she looks away before they can make eye contact.
In a way, she hated that his timing sucked and he could only appreciate her and their relationship until after they had ended it. Then again, his lack of insight gave her an opening to start dating Jesse St. James, and that was something she couldn't complain about. The song he sang in Glee practice the other day though, 'Jessie's Girl,' was quite irritating, especially since she wasn't sure if she was Jesse's girl anymore. Hopefully by the end of practice today, her relationship status with Jesse would be resolved, and she would be Jesse's girl again. Finn's pining for her certainly wasn't helping his case any; although in a way she did like the attention…
She just wished it came from a certain St. James instead.
Rachel made her way to first period class, still scanning for Jesse. He wasn't necessarily still avoiding her – their schedules didn't mesh well and since they definitely weren't at a point where they sought each other out anymore, she rarely saw him until Glee rehearsal anyway.
Her fears that he didn't show up for the school day were put to rest when she saw him at lunch. She actually stopped and stared for a few seconds at his gorgeousness (he wasn't looking, of course!) until someone bumped into her and she realized what she was doing. She was helpless without him…
Okay, so she wasn't exactly helpless. It wasn't like she fell apart at the seams after the 'incident,' she was a strong, independent star who trained her talent diligently to reach her dreams all on her own. But she still missed him – a lot.
She missed his smile, his laugh, and his eyes. She missed his opinions and his comments. She missed hugging him and kissing him. She missed how he would carry her books or distract her from all the negative comments in the hallway. She missed both his support and his criticisms of her performances. She missed knowing he was thinking about her. She missed how he always kept name-brand towels in his locker for when either of them got slushie facials. She missed his voice, especially when it harmonized with her own. She simply missed being with him.
However, she had to stick to the plan. She couldn't approach him too early or else everything would be ruined! Quickly, Rachel sat down at a table with some Glee friends (thankfully not Finn), avoiding even looking at the spot in the cafeteria where she knew Jesse was. Glee practice was the time to make her move, and until then, she'd have to be patient.
"So Rachel, I see Jesse's back," came the comment from, surprisingly, Quinn. Since when did she initiate conversations with her? However, her dads always told her to be polite to everyone, even when they're probably just after something from you – as Quinn probably was.
"Oh, um…yes, I guess so," Rachel replied. She congratulated herself on a stellar nonchalant response. No need to give the plan away, after all. She'd execute this entirely by herself. She was already on the way to Hollywood with her excellent acting skills and ambitions!
"I'm surprised he's back. I figured his friends from Vocal Adrenaline would've forced him back to where he belongs by now," Santana quipped, who was sitting besides Quinn.
Rachel's heart stopped for a beat. After all, this was one of the possibilities that went through her head during his absence. Since he transferred for her, and then she made a grievous error, would he transfer back? Would she be allowed to even attempt a second chance? Would they go back to being rivals and any chance at a relationships vetoed by their respective Glee Clubs?
"Well, he's come back so clearly that wasn't the case," Rachel said as calmly as she could manage with all the thoughts that were running through her head. She took a small bite of her homemade sandwich (she couldn't chance eating who-knows-what-it-is food from the school on such an important day), and just took a very swift glance over at Jesse's seat a few tables away to assure herself he was still there.
He was still there, but unfortunately, not looking at her.
"Well I for one haven't missed him. I still think he's a spy for Vocal Adrenaline," Mercedes said before bravely taking a bite of the cafeteria food.
Well that got her angry. She needed to focus on her plan, not prove Jesse's innocence again.
"Jesse isn't a spy! Everything is completely legitimate with his transfer and he hasn't been anything but courteous to absolutely everyone, despite all your comments. Jesse is just as much a part of New Directions as you and I are, Mercedes. Besides, Jesse has remarkable talent. He doesn't need to spy, so I'd appreciate it if you placed some faith in him," Rachel retorted before gathering what was still a majority of the lunch she packed and storming away from the cafeteria, completely ignoring the group rolling their eyes at her dramatics.
Seriously! Some people just despised stars for the talents, especially Jesse and her. They simply couldn't understand that the only way to stardom was to train your own skills. You didn't need to spy or hurt others to get what you deserved. She would go eat lunch in the choir room where she didn't need to defend Jesse. She simply can't handle that on today of all days.
It wasn't until after she finished her lunch in the empty choir room that her nerves started to kick in. There simply wasn't much time left until Glee practice, until it was time for her performance of a lifetime (okay, so she might be exaggerating on that part). Don't get her wrong, she rarely got nervous for productions anymore – but somehow singing her heartbreak out to Jesse, with or without an audience, added just enough pressure to make her anxious.
Her afternoon classes dragged by as she could only stare at the clock as the minutes ticked by. Really, was the history of Russia so important that she couldn't just fast-forward her day until Glee? It was a good thing she wasn't quite so impatient for Glee practice every day or else her grades would not be at their current impeccable standing.
Finally, the bell rang signaling the end of the last class period and school day. Rachel quickly gathered her things together and darted for the hallway. Taking deep breaths, she tried to calm herself down for her impending performance. Then she looked up and saw Jesse coming her way (well, he wasn't exactly coming her way – he simply walking from his last class to his locker).
Her breath caught in her throat as they made eye contact.
But before she could smile, before she could speak, before she could do anything but realize what was happening, he broke the eye contact and walked by her without saying or doing anything. Her shoulders slumped in disappointment. It didn't seem like he had missed her at all during his absence. Did her plan even have a chance against such insurmountable odds?
She took a deep breath to restore her confidence before raising her head high. Of course she still had a chance! She was Rachel Berry, and after her spectacular, award winning performance, a certain Jesse St. James was going to have no choice but to reconcile their relationship.
Anyway, it was time for her performance. Soon enough, she would either succeed with all of her planning or fail despite it all. At least the slushie avoidance stage had shown success – there was a close call after second period, but she employed heroic ballerina moves to avoid being the target. Unfortunately that meant a poor pep band member simply didn't have a chance.
Rachel weaved her way through all of the students hurrying out of the school to her locker. After dropping her books off, she made her way to the choir room with all of her anxiety balled up in her stomach. Outwardly, she displayed all of the confidence typical of her, but inside, she was trying her best to tamper down her emotions. She just needed to sing her heart out to Jesse already!
With one more deep breath, she entered the choir room. Right away, she noticed that Jesse wasn't there yet. She took a seat (away from Finn who was listening to his ipod and watching her) and was content to simply listen in on Kurt and Mercedes' conversation about skinny jeans while she fiddled with the hem of her skirt. Seconds seemed to take forever as the rest of the club trickled in.
The knot in her stomach eased a little as Jesse walked in a few seconds after Brittany and Santana. He didn't look at her, but her eyes followed him all the way to the seat he chose - a seat that was in front of her, but a couple seats to the right. Well, she didn't exactly expect him to sit next to her anymore, and on the bright side at least now she could look at him throughout rehearsal.
Soon after, Mr. Schuester walked in the room and prevented Rachel from debating the possibility of saying anything to Jesse beforehand. She was a bit thankful – she didn't have to decide if she was going to say something, and then, if she decided to speak, what would she say? It was bit of dilemma, and fortunately, now she didn't have to decide. That and his disregard in the hallway didn't give her quite enough confidence to start a conversation.
"Alright guys, let's get started," Mr. Schuester said as the club quit their conversations and put ipods away. Rachel tensed. "I thought we'd begin with-"
"Mr. Schuester?" Rachel interrupted him, her hand straight in the air.
She detected a small sigh that she decidedly ignored before he replied, "Yes, Rachel?"
"I was hoping that since I did not get an adequate chance to express myself on the previous assignment due to my horrible, career-threatening medical illness," she decided to hopefully spike some sympathy from Jesse, "that today I would be able to share my soul with my fellow Glee club members," especially Jesse, she concluded in her head.
Mr. Schuester's reluctance was easily seen on his face when she finished. "I don't know if we have time for that, Rachel," he said after a few seconds of pause. "It might be better if we – "
"Mr. Schuester, please. Everyone else was afforded this grand opportunity and I completely abhor that the only impression I was able to give was an unspeakable rendition," Rachel debated. If he didn't let her sing, her whole plan would be for naught!
This time, a more audible sigh from Mr. Schuester was heard by the entire room. She also guessed that the majority of the Glee members were rolling their eyes at her as well. Once again, Rachel ignored the implications of it.
"Alright, Rachel. Show us what you have," Mr. Schuester said, caving in. It would waste less time if he simply let her have her song now than debate throughout the rest of the rehearsal period.
"Thank you, Mr. Schuester. I appreciate the opportunity," Rachel said with a large smile and just a tinsy bit of gloating.
She made her way to the front of the room and faced her peers. She avoided looking at Jesse at this moment in time, though, to prevent any flux of emotions before beginning her song. Instead she smoothed her skirt down.
"The Climb?" Mr. Schuester asked as he took a seat.
"No. I decided that the song no longer accurately reflected myself and chose a different selection," Rachel said evenly. Her eyes accidently found Finn's, and he looked partly confused, partly anxious, and partly hopeful. She immediately looked away.
She had already given the band the sheet music a while before, so that they could perform at their absolute best. She definitely didn't want any mistakes. The music needed to adequately support her voice so that Jesse would get the full effect of the song's (and her) emotions.
The music then started softly, and Rachel took a deep breath from the diaphragm to begin.
The ground thaws
The rain falls
The grass grows
As she started singing, the ball of anxiety sitting in her stomach immediately unwound. Singing was not only Rachel's life and career, but most often her sole comfort. Singing out her emotions always relaxed her as she channeled all of her feelings into the song. The technical and mechanical issues of singing were always present in her mind, but she still allowed all of her emotions to take over and express themselves through song. She liked to believe that's why she could always feel every song, no matter the lyrics.
The seeds root
The flowers bloom
The children play
The stars gleam
The poets dream
The eagles fly
This wasn't her favorite song from RENT, but it definitely expressed her feelings towards Jesse at the moment. Obviously 'Seasons of Love' was simply not going to work under the circumstances. Her and Jesse's relationship wasn't really all that close to Roger's and Mimi's, either, but it was the best she could do. None of the other songs that she looked at truly expressed her feelings towards Jesse like 'Without You.' It balanced her strong, 'Rachel Berry is a star!' side with her emotional desire to have Jesse with her, back at her side. Hopefully it was enough for him.
The earth turns
The sun burns
Now it was time to make eye contact with Jesse, let him know that the song was for him.
But I die
Success! Eye contact. There's no possibility now of his mistaking the song for anything else besides a truly sincere apology and how she desperately wants him back. Neither his eyes nor his facial expression tell her anything, however.
The breeze warms
The girl smiles
The cloud moves
The tides change
The boys run
The oceans crash
As her eyes looked around the room, she noticed others' facial expressions that didn't have as much acting talent and experience as Jesse did, so their expressions gave away their thoughts. Puck was completely bored and not paying attention. Quinn looked at her in scorn. Brittany seat was backwards and she looked at the wall while Santana did her nails. Mercedes looked encouraging, though, and so did Tina. They realized this song was for Jesse.
The crowds roar
The days soar
The babies cry
Finn's facial expression, however, wasn't encouraging in the least. Only if he closed his eyes (so he couldn't see her looking at Jesse) and ignored everything that she's ever told him since they had broken up, could he imagine that this song was for him. Since he apparently wasn't doing that, instead, he looked partly angry, partly determined, and partly sulky. She immediately looked back towards Jesse.
The moon glows
The river flows
But I die
Unfortunately for her, this song also happened to be a duet, so she needed someone else in on her plan. Kurt, she decided, was the best option. As she explained to him, helping her get back together with Jesse kept Finn available for Kurt. As she guessed, he accepted her logic though he thought her a bit crazy for giving up Finn in the first place.
The world revives
But I know blue
Within me, blue
As Kurt began singing and their voices blended together, she saw Jesse shoot a quick glance at him as he joined Rachel in the front. Of course, using Kurt in this piece was also beneficial because there was (obviously!) no romantic interest between Kurt and Rachel at all. There was absolutely no other guy that Jesse could see as neutral in this club except for Kurt when it came to competition with Rachel. Even Matt and Mike would have created negative vibes during this song.
The hand gropes
The ear hears
The pulse beats
The eyes gaze
The legs walk
The lungs breathe
Of course, using Kurt also came at a price. His voice didn't quite match the song. While Kurt could, without any question, hit the notes, it didn't quite sound right without the deeper undertone. Kurt almost refused due to this issue, saying it insulted the song and the greatness that was and is RENT, but Rachel convinced him otherwise. She said it only supported her reasoning for needing Jesse, because without him her duets just didn't sound right. The discord of her singing with anyone else should be simply too painful for him to listen to so they had to reconcile. Of course, she said it a bit more tactfully so she didn't sound like she was insulting Kurt in the process.
The mind churns (The mind churns)
The heart yearns (The heart yearns)
The tears dry
Life goes on
But I'm gone
Cause I die
The song was going perfectly, despite the indifferent look on Mr. Schuester's face. Her only reason to be nervous that it wasn't going as well as she'd planned was the mask that was still present on Jesse's face.
The music ended and her fellow Glee members politely clapped for her (and Kurt she supposed). Kurt went back to his seat, Mercedes giving him words of excellence. Rachel didn't move, her eyes riveted to Jesse's. She was waiting for a sign, some signal that would send her rushing back into his arms.
She didn't receive one though. After a few seconds, Mr. Schuester came back to the front, telling her (and Kurt she supposed) words of praise for their excellent performance. She slowly made her way back to her seat, her heart falling with each step. His eyes, Jesse's eyes – she could tell that there was something there, she just didn't know what. Was it good? Was it bad? His face was still a blank mask, but his eyes…
If only she knew what his eyes were telling her.