A/N: I apologize for my jumbled thoughts, and the confusion, but thank you for sticking it out with me. It's all very much appreciated. :)

Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. I really wish I did, though, because I just read an article stating that while the show's producers are open to Groff coming back next season, there's a good chance that Rachel and Jesse are "gone for good." And that is the biggest load of bullshxt I have ever read.

The Hardest Story

"This is the hardest story that I've ever told
No hope, or love, or glory
Happy endings gone forever more"

Happy Ending- Mika

Growing up, Jesse was never one for fairy tales.

He realized his passion for Broadway so early on that he never really had the time for the nonsense of story books or happy endings and whatnot, mainly because he knew that they weren't real. But this, this longing in his heart; the passion he feels, burning in his chest; the ferocity in his eyes—they're all real, which makes his dreams that much more achievable.

The first time he picks up a story book, Jesse is twelve years old and looking after Molly, his cousin who was four at the time, while their parents were out. Molly had been screaming in his ear for the last ten or so minutes, and Jesse vaguely remembers what his aunt had told him, right before she went out the door.

"She gets a little restless before bed," she calls from behind her shoulder. "A good story should put her right to sleep."

Groaning, Jesse stands up from the stool beside Molly's bed and walks over to her bookshelf across the room, as Molly watches him from her spot on her bed curiously. He picks out a book with a frog on the front and holds it up for her to see. "You like this one?"

She nods but wrinkles her nose immediately afterwards, telling him that she's read that book three times this week alone and that she's tired of it. Jesse chuckles, a little bit amused, and picks out another story book; this one has a picture of a pumpkin on it. He holds it up and it elicits a squeal of delight from the young one on the bed.

"That one, Jesse!" she exclaims, excitedly. "That one!"

"Okay, okay, just calm down," he says as he walks back over to her bed and takes his place on the stool. "But then it's off to bed with you," he continues, firmly. "Your parents are going to murder me if they find out that I've kept you up this late."

"'Kay, Jesse," Molly replies, before she erupts into a fit of giggles.

Jesse silences her by putting his forefinger to his lips and he waits for her to mimic his actions before he starts with the story.

Whatever the frog story might've been about, Jesse's pretty sure it couldn't have been worse than the one he ended up reading to her. It is filled with talking rats and birds that can understand humans; glass slippers and former-pumpkin-carriages; evil stepmothers and wicked stepsisters; and a deluded girl who gets a visit from her fairy god mother and, predictably, gets everything she wants in the end. The story, while oddly satisfying—as Molly is fast asleep the moment he finishes—is definitely unrealistic. People do not get what they want just by wishing for it; no, they have to work and work and work at it because life just isn't that easy. So he dismisses the story and it's absurdity and continues to work for his dream because it's what he does.

It isn't until years later that he even thinks about all that happy-ending-baloney again. He's in Rachel Berry's room, going through her things and is shocked, albeit a little bit amused to find, at the very back of her bookshelf, a book with a pumpkin on the front.

"Did you actually read this?" he asks and she takes her eyes off her Biology homework momentarily to look up at him. She smiles when she sees the book in his hand.

"Of course," she says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "I am very well educated in the art of fairy tales, you know. My dads would read one to me every night until I was eight."

"You're joking," he says, as he takes a seat on her bed.

"No, Jesse, I'm not joking," she replies, affronted. "Didn't your parents read these to you when you were younger?"

"'Course not," he says indignantly. "I had no time for such nonsense, Rachel."

"Nonsense? Nonsense?" She huffs and stomps her way over her bookshelf. "These are very much important, Jesse!"

She then proceeds to pull book after book, pointedly explaining the importance of each one. "This explains the insignificance of outside appearances, Jesse, a classic tale of don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover. This is a story about how love always conquers all, including an evil witch's curse. This tells a story of a smart young woman, highly underappreciated in her time and age, who defies her father's wishes and," she stops midsentence when she sees him chuckling silently on her bed and narrows her eyes at him. "You think I'm being silly, don't you!"

He stops chuckling and looks innocently at her, his smirk all but giving him away. "No, no I don't."

Rachel eyes him suspiciously for a moment before she brings her attention back to her bookshelf. Jesse watches her as she goes through a number of her old books, stops at a few to smile at them, then sees her eyes light up as she grabs one more book before she takes a seat on her bed beside him.

"And this, this has always been one of my favorites," she explains as she looks at the book fondly. "It speaks of love in its purest form! I remember crying as a kid, when the little mermaid gave up her tail and voice to the evil sea witch—just so she could be with the prince—only to have her heart broken in the end."

"It's totally got West Side Story beat, doesn't it?" he asks her jokingly and she playfully swats him on the arm.

"I could read it to you, if you want," she says softly. "As I grew older, my dads would let me read along with them, and we'd all do the different voices of the different characters. My daddy does a wonderful impression of the Sea King."

"Oh please do," he says, teasing her again. "I absolutely do not how I could have gone this long lacking so much knowledge about your beloved fairy tales."

She's visibly excited and if she notices the sarcasm in his voice, decides to ignore it, too eager to start reading. Jesse watches and listens to her, all the while entertained by her over-the-top hand gestures and the different voices she gives the characters. The closer she gets to the ending, the smaller her voice gets, the thicker it is with emotion. She is obviously distraught by the ending, and looks away from him to try and hide her emotion.

Jesse smiles at her affectionately before he pulls her into his arms and whispers in her ear, "You are such a drama queen."

"Am not," she says, and he can practically feel her rolling her eyes against his chest. "Did you enjoy the story, though? And be honest."

"Yes, I did," he says, sincerely. "But I have to say, I think I enjoyed your hand gestures and little funny voices more than the story."

"It's very nice to know that I amuse you, Jesse," she giggles at him.

They lie peacefully on her bed for a while—quite surprising for the two of them—before she gets up abruptly and shrieks about her forgotten homework on the desk.

It becomes a ritual of theirs, afterwards; Rachel insists on continuing to feed him with as much as her favorite fairy tales as possible—making up for lost time, she says—and most of the time, he just sits there in awe of her superb story telling skills.

"Did any of these princes wear black?" he asks her one night. She has just finished her interpretation of Disney's spectacular classic—her words, not his—Aladdin and they're lying down on her bed again and he's mindlessly running his fingers through her hair.

"No, I don't think so," she tells him. "The popular ensemble is usually those old fashioned long sleeved shirts, un-ripped pants, and a cape."

"Yeah, can't forget the cape."

"It's okay, though," she says, thoughtfully. "None of the princesses in the fairy tales I've read were driven, or talented, or had a grade point average quite as high as mine."

He grins as they start thinking up ideas for their own fairy tale.

They talk about a devilishly handsome prince, with a vocal range that can easily surpass that of others, and a ridiculously talented princess with an excellent ear; together, they go off on their adventures, ridding the world of horrible, out of tune beasts and monsters. Sometimes, Rachel suggests, the pair even takes breaks from their fight for justice to sing for the homeless and teach tone deaf orphans.

And it is during those moments, Jesse later realizes, when she's making up fifty different scenarios in her head—each one more ridiculous than the last—and he's laughing so hard that he can hardly breathe, that he completely loses himself and lets go and forgets that he's not the prince that she wants him, needs him to be.

As much as he hates to admit it, and he'll actually never say this out loud, but there's a part of him—albeit, a really small part—that actually wants him to be the one to play the role of Rachel's dashing prince, and that he will be the one to sweep her off her feet and place her firmly on his horse before they ride off to the sunset. (Though he will not deny that he is devilishly handsome.)

But when it all comes down to it, he acts very un-princelike, and much more like one of the beasts they used to fend off in their stories, when he pulls a little mermaid on her when he kills a baby chick on her forehead, and crushes her heart as well. Because, he tells himself, he's not a prince. He's Jesse St. James, a student at Carmel, who needs to get into UCLA; who needs to kick butt at Regionals; who has his future on the line; and who's about to get one step closer to achieving his dream, that he cannot, will not allow himself to throw all of it away just for some girl who filled his head with useless junk.

Even though he tells himself this, even though he's back at Carmel, he thinks about her more often than he'll ever actually admit, and sometimes he even thinks that there's hope for them in the future. Because if there is anything she taught him during the course of their relationship, it's that love always conquers all.

But what they had wasn't love, Jesse painfully reminds himself. He is a soulless automaton, incapable of feeling, completely void of emotion; and she's in love with somebody else—probably has been this whole time. (He tells himself it doesn't hurt, because how can it, if he can't feel anything, anyway?)

So, he digests this piece of information, and mentally prepares himself for practice. Shelby, who may not have approved of their little stunt the other day, is still glad that he's back and she has him working just as hard as before.

He obediently does as she says and continues to hit high notes, and perfects his dance moves, all the while wondering why it's only females that have fairy god mothers.


A/N2: Okay. This didn't end how I initially wanted to. I swear, I write too much St. Berry angst. What has this ship done to me? *sigh*