Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Glee writers and creators.
A/N: Constructive criticism is welcome. I'll try to update as regularly as I can. I hope you all like it.
Breakfast and Broken Bones
8:30 in the morning was far too early to expect any human being to wake up; let alone 7:30, when Rachel insisted they all clamber out of bed to ready themselves for Regionals. Apparently if they didn't wake then, the universe would explode. Or…something else. She'd said something about being too tired to perform, Finn was sure. In any case, it was very important that they wake up at that exact time. Thank God Mr. Schuester convinced her that 6:30 was pushing it a little.
Still, Finn was exhausted. Despite Mr. Schuester's 10 o'clock curfew, he and the other boys hadn't actually slept until at least 12. Well, except for Kurt, who—for once—sided with Rachel.
Running on only seven and a half hours of sleep wasn't exactly Finn's strong suit. But at least the hotel's complimentary breakfast selection was huge. And it smelled delicious. All he had to do was not look at Puck overturning the jar of strawberry jam on his waffles and topping it with maple syrup, and he would have enough food in him to push him through the day. Hopefully.
Finn was just about to dig in to his French toast when something moved out of the corner of his eye and he caught Rachel setting a green apple ceremoniously on the table next to him. She shot him a bright smile, smoothed her skirt under her, and sank into her chair.
Finn exchanged a glance with Puck, who looked like he was on the verge of dumping what was left of the grape jam on Rachel's apple.
"That's all you're eating?" Finn prompted, frowning at the tiny apple sitting on the thin little napkin before his…well, she wasn't his girlfriend yet, he supposed. But she would be.
Rachel nodded. "Yes. Have you seen this place's so-called food? Every bit of it that isn't slathered in grease is as dry as toast. Except for the toast, which is surprisingly soft. It's completely unhealthy. Honestly, I should've prepared myself for this possibility. Next year, I'm packing granola bars."
Finn glanced down at his plate piled with French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. She had a point about the toast—the butter hadn't actually melted since he put it on. And the French toast did seem to be soaking in juices, although that could've been the mixture of syrup and butter…. He eyed his bacon triumphantly and lifted a piece to offer to her.
"The bacon's not greasy," he said victoriously.
Rachel's nose wrinkled and she leaned back to avoid the crispy meat, but Quinn beat her to an explanation.
"She's vegan, Finn," the blonde said irritably. "Besides which, bacon is fried in grease."
Finn frowned. "Oh." He set the bacon back down, much to Rachel's relief. Then he spied his scrambled eggs and perked up. "You could eat some eggs," he offered eagerly.
Quinn smacked her forehead. Puck sighed.
"Dude, did you not hear the mother-chicken nightmare story?" he asked, shaking his head.
"No, no, it's okay," Rachel cut in, waving her hands dismissively. "You just need a little schooling, is all. I'll find you some articles online about veganism. Oh, and perhaps some pamphlets." She tapped her chin, eyes brightening. "And a Power Point…."
Finn chuckled nervously. "Just promise you won't make a music video about it?"
"No, I've learned my lesson on that one," she replied, nodding rapidly.
"Thank God," Quinn muttered.
Rachel ignored her. "Music videos only lead to angry boys and flying chicken eggs."
He smiled in relief. Puck was digging in to his disgusting mixture of foods, ignoring the rest of the glee club member's grossed-out looks. Quinn was facing studiously away from him, pretending he didn't exist while she spread a thin layer of fat-free cream cheese over a lightly browned bagel. Finn frowned at Rachel's apple again when a few minutes passed by in silence.
"Please tell me you are planning on eating, and you didn't just set it there for show," he teased.
Rachel winked and bumped his shoulder—or, actually, his arm, since she was too short to hit his shoulder—with hers. "Just waiting for you to catch up."
He grinned and took her hand with his free one. She turned her palm up and entwined their fingers and he felt a pleasant warmth spread through his chest. Quinn rolled her eyes at them.
Finn ignored her sour mood in favor of enjoying his breakfast with his almost-girlfriend, who crunched on her apple when he started in on his eggs. Mr. Schue was finishing his breakfast, so it would soon be time to finish up and head to the auditorium. He chewed a little faster, but paused when he felt Rachel's hand clench around his in a death grip.
He glanced her way and frowned at the sudden whiteness in her complexion, but she didn't look at him. Her eyes were trained on something far on the other side of the room, and Finn's chest tightened when he saw that jerk waiting just inside the room.
Finn caught Puck's eye and knew that he'd seen him, too. He silently communicated his displeasure, and Puck nodded his agreement, grinding his teeth. Quinn, Finn noted, was smirking, though she tried to hide it with her hair. He frowned in confusion, but when Jesse St. James started walking toward them, he shook his head of her.
He locked eyes with Puck instead and nodded. On three, he and Puck stood to face the intruder. Finn shook Rachel's hand loose and, finally, the rest of New Directions noticed what was going on. He caught them simultaneously bristle, but Puck beat them to it. He crossed his arms and blocked Jesse's way to Rachel, aiming a death glare at him.
"This is a members-only party, and I don't think you were invited, Beak Nose."
Quinn snorted into her orange juice, then feigned a cough.
That's when Finn noticed the splint. Jesse's nose was held straight by a silver splint, the white padding peeked out at the bridge, and there was a visible bruise where the splint wasn't covering it. It was so purple it almost looked black. Finn and the rest of them were biting their lips to keep from laughing.
Jesse scowled at them. "I'm here to talk to Rachel."
And then he went to go past Puck, who intercepted him.
"I don't think so, Splinters."
They tussled for a moment before Mr. Schue broke in, shoving them apart. Finn backed Puck, glaring past him at Jesse.
"Hey! Now, calm down," Mr. Schue shouted, shoving Jesse back when he tried to make another move. "There's no need for that." He frowned at Puck. "I thought we settled this a couple weeks ago."
He sneered. "We did. But it looks like St. Wuss here finally got his just desserts anyway."
Santana smirked viciously. "What'd you do? Run into a door?"
They all burst into snickers. Jesse leapt against Mr. Schue's arm again, but apparently their Spanish teacher was pretty strong, because he managed to hold him off.
"That's enough!" Mr. Schue snapped again, shooting a reproving look at Santana. "I mean it." He sighed and turned to face Jesse, who had apparently calmed down enough that he didn't need to be restrained. "Now, Jesse, what is it you want?"
He huffed. "I just came to talk to Rachel. That's it."
Finn glanced down at her, but she was too busy picking at her apple juice-soaked napkin to notice. Mr. Schue turned as well and prodded, "Rachel?"
She bit her lip and looked up at Jesse. Finn retreated to rub her shoulder protectively, directing a warning glare Jesse's way.
"What do you want to talk about?" Rachel asked.
Her voice was uncharacteristically quiet and vulnerable. Finn squeezed her shoulder and chanced a glance at the rest of them. They all looked expectantly between Jesse and Rachel, except for Quinn, who had her eyes trained on the brunette and her mouth set in a deep frown, all humor faded.
"In private," Jesse said, glancing at the glowering glee club members.
Finn expected Rachel to immediately deny him and insist that he talk to her right in front of everybody. That was just Rachel's nature—she didn't mind dramatic scenes; she was comfortable with them, even. But instead she gave a small, barely visible nod and rose.
Jesse's shoulders dropped, tension leaking out, and he turned to gesture her out first. Rachel shot Finn a grim look and he could only stare on in shock as Mr. Schue offered her a supportive smile and she walked out the door with that traitor.
Mr. Schue waited until they were gone before clapping his hands together for attention. Finn exchanged a glance with a frowning Puck and they sank back into their seats slowly. Quinn turned around just as Finn hit his chair, looking pissed at best.
"Okay, everyone. You've got an hour before every single one of you needs to be on that bus," he announced genially, as though nothing just happened. "I want…"
His voice trailed to the back of Finn's mind as the sight of Rachel and Jesse walking together in the parking lot caught his eye. He scowled, wishing he could hear from here exactly what was going on.
Rachel whirled on her heel when they arrived at Jesse's SUV. She'd already seen it a million times—she didn't need the tour. She frowned up at him as he halted a few feet off.
"Make it quick, please," she said shortly, placing her hands on her hips in what she hoped was an intimidating stance. "I'd like to get back to my teammates."
Jesse adjusted his splint with a grimace and she, once again, wondered what on earth happened to his nose. But asking would indicate that she cared. And she didn't. Really.
"I wanted to appeal to you as the only reasonable member of your club, and as my ex-girlfriend, to get your 'teammates'—" he sneered "—to back off."
She frowned in puzzlement. "What are you talking about?"
He gestured to the other side of his SUV. "I'm talking about this."
He stepped around her and to the opposite side of the vehicle, then bent down to examine what she discovered was a thin, long groove along its length. Rachel could only gape. Jesse straightened when she'd been silent too long.
"And this," he added, gesturing to his nose. "I'm not pressing charges, but enough is enough. These games need to stop."
Rachel exhaled, shaking her head. "Jesse, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for it to go this far and I-I will tell them to just…lay off."
"I appreciate it," he said curtly.
"Just so I know…who did it?" she prompted, steeling herself. Her stomach clenched at a thought. "Finn?" He shook his head, but before he could speak, she tried again. "Noah?"
"No, the blonde girl," Jesse said, obviously trying to remember the name.
Rachel was speechless for the second time today. She hated that. This much shock simply couldn't be good for her right before a performance.
"Brittany?" she asked, aghast at the thought.
"No, the pregnant one. Ferbie, or whatever," he replied, rolling his eyes.