So this is the END! I am so thankful for all the reviews, alerts, favourites. You guys make writing stories a lot of fun. I hope that everyone has enjoyed this. I found this to be one of the harder stories that I have written. I know I also had long breaks in between updates but i had a bit of writers block and school seems to cut into my writing time.
I have a ton of new St. Berry ideas and I hope that I will be able to get them all out because this is the longest time that a muse has stuck around for me... or well for a pairing that I ship.
So THANKS! - T
It has been a year since Jesse was dropped at Rachel's house beaten and broken. He and Rachel are sitting in the choir room waiting for glee club to start, he reaches over and grasps Rachel's hand and she leans against his shoulder. It has been a long journey getting to this point.
Rachel gently knocks on Jesse's door before pushing it open. She finds him lying on his bed with Beth perched on his chest, both napping. Rachel smiles at the image and snaps a picture with her cell phone to show Shelby. She quietly sits down on the bed next to Jesse and whispers his name. He opens his eyes and smiles.
"Hey how was your day?" He asks.
"Good. I let Mr. Schuester know that you will be coming tomorrow. Finn knows you're going to be there too. Both are looking forward to that." Rachel answers, "How was your day?"
"Fine. I finally finished unpacking and I found a counsellor to go and talk with."
"I want you to come with me to my first meeting. You don't have to come in, but just knowing that you are waiting would be a great help."
"I'll be there."
"Thanks. I also learned today that Beth here loves the sound of my voice."
"Well then I guess we know who is going to be doing all the babysitting."
Jesse shoots Rachel a dirty look.
"Rachel I'm nervous about tomorrow. I know I have said I never get nervous, but this is daunting and I can't help but feel that this is all going to be another let down."
Rachel intertwines her hand with Jesse's and gives it a squeeze.
"It will all be fine. You are Jesse St. James and you can do this. And I will be there all day, especially if you need a hand to hold."
Jesse's first day had been hard, but Rachel made sure he made it through the day. Like before the jocks left him alone because he was a senior, it also might have had to do with the cuts on his face making him look like he just came out of a fight club and lived. Glee was another story. When he walked in holding hands with Rachel everyone froze. They couldn't believe who was standing there and then they couldn't believe what he looked like. Immediately everyone's faces turned to stone, with looks of loathing pouring from their eyes.
Jesse squeezes Rachel's hand tightly and she squeezes back. It's Finn who gets everything rolling when he walks in behind the frozen pair and nudges Jesse with his shoulder.
"Hey man glad you made it through your first day. It's also a good thing you are joining glee today I'm feeling a little sick and I think my voice could use a little break."
Jesse doesn't say anything just nods his head while looking at the confused faces of the New Directions members. Instead of going immediately to sit down in the empty chairs next to Finn the pair of them stand in front of the group, Jesse has prepared what he was going to say and he knows that this is the only time to do it.
"I know that you don't trust me. I wouldn't trust me either, not after the betrayal that I committed. I would like to ask your forgiveness though. I have already gotten it from Rachel and Finn and for that I am completely grateful. I know that you have questions about why I am here again and why I look like I do. Let me just say that Vocal Adrenaline is more terrifying than what we showed you and what we did to Rachel. They are violent and they are not afraid to use violence to make their point known.
"They took me last Friday and they beat me and left me on Rachel's doorstep. They thought they were teaching me a lesson. What they were doing was just cementing their loss at Nationals. On Tuesday I withdrew from Carmel and enrolled here at McKinley, this time for good. I know last time I stood in front of you and told you can learn from me, well that point still stands but what you don't know is that you have much more to teach me, mostly about heart and love." Jesse says this and looks down at Rachel, who strokes his arm. "I know it will take some time but I hope that you know that I am not here to hurt you."
"Thank you Jesse." Mr. Schuester says, coming to stand at the front of the class.
Rachel and Jesse take their seats and it is like a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders.
Slowly the glee club warmed up to Jesse, led by both Rachel and Finn. Jesse found in the group of misfit kids a safe haven. He found himself opening up to them, especially with Tina who knew what it was like to hate yourself so badly that you would want to end it all.
Jesse's senior status also protected any glee club members he happened to be walking with in the halls.
That was the easy part of enrolling in McKinley and starting over after the pain he put himself through. The hard part of starting over was going to his counselling sessions. Jesse found it hard to open up to a complete stranger, but he found that once he began to talk he didn't want to stop. Some days after the counselling sessions were good; he would come out feeling refreshed and open. He would play with Beth, chatter and sing with Rachel, even help Shelby out with the cooking. It was the bad days that brought Jesse to the brink again. Those days he would enter the house silently, stalk up to his room and stare at pictures of Jack. He wouldn't move until Rachel would come and lay down behind him, with her there things would once again start to look up.
Rachel saw all this and saw Jesse getting better. She was fiercely protective of him, she was happy when he was and broken hearted when Jesse closed himself off. Rachel knew that this was true love.
"Jesse you have to respond to them." Shelby tells Jesse as he holds Beth in his lap.
"Why Shelby? I mean if I don't show up they will know that I am not coming."
"Jesse you can't let this scholarship just go to waste, you have to talk with them." Shelby says dropping down on to the coffee table. "You worked to hard for this. I know that this is going to sound rude but you won't get another scholarship by being part of McKinley."
"I know that, but I can't admit to that group that I am a failure, that I'm not the star material that they picked." Jesse says looking down.
"Jesse you don't have to tell them that. Just let them know that you aren't going to be going to school next year, tell them that you are going to be deferring and that you will be there in the following September."
"I don't think I want to go to UCLA any more Shelby." Jesse admits.
"I don't think that UCLA is going to be the right fit for me. Yeah I know I always wanted the sun and the glitz of Hollywood, but I'm thinking that I am now more suited to the grit, the anonymity and the boards of New York." Jesse says and Shelby lets out a chuckle.
"Finally." She says and Jesse gives her a confused look. "I always wanted you to go there, I never thought that LA was the right fit for you. You have talked about this with Rachel right?"
"Yeah she knows and I told her I would be waiting there for her when she graduates."
Shelby smiles at the comment. She knows just how much her star loves her daughter. And she knows that when Jesse makes a promise to wait for her, Shelby knows that he will.
The summer brings Rachel and Shelby closer together and their new relationship has helped Jesse remember what it is like to be part of a family. The four of them spend Sundays together watching musicals and playing with Beth.
Rachel and Jesse also spend a lot of time with members of the glee club. Puck and Quinn have both gone to see Beth and both have seen that their decision to give up their daughter was for the best. Finn comes over to use Shelby's pool and to play video games with Jesse. The two of them have become "bros", as Finn says. He has shown Jesse what it's like to have a guy to talk to and do guy things with and Jesse taught Finn how to be more mature with girls and how to improve his singing. They got so close that Finn and Jesse have even gone to see baseball games with Burt. Rachel is happy that Jesse has finally found people with whom he doesn't always have to be the leader, he can be just Jesse.
Jesse also takes a trip with Rachel and the club to NYC. They go for a week. Seeing all the sights, catching a few Broadway shows and even putting on a small impromptu performance in Central Park. The trip further cements the place that Rachel and Jesse want to be when they get out of Ohio.
Summer also sees Rachel and Jesse take more steps together in their relationship. Rachel has gone to counselling sessions with Jesse and with only truth between them they have become closer than either thought was possible with another person. They don't have sex that summer, but they do get intimate. Showing that they love each other in both words and actions. Jesse is the one who doesn't feel that the timing is right for them to take that final step.
School starts up again and once again no one in New Directions is popular. Jesse is still left alone because of his senior status and Rachel as his girlfriend is protected as well. Some of the other members don't fare as well, but the whole team is there to stand up for them.
A new male member joins the group throwing off the number of pairings, it is quickly remedied when a new girl joins as well. Neither of these singers are a threat to Rachel's lead role and Jesse has come to accept that he is going to be sharing the spotlight with Finn.
Sectionals come and once again nerves are high. New Directions though wins the competition. However after their win New Directions goes back to work for the upcoming regionals competition, the one that would once again decide the fate of the group.
Christmas brings Jesse's parents home. For Rachel and Shelby it brings a heightened sense to what Jesse is feeling. Neither want to see his parents cause him to have a setback or relapse into a world of hate. However the confrontation that Jesse has with his parents shows to the two most important people in his life that he is strong enough to finally let go of the guilt his parents have laid on him. His parents for their part are slightly taken aback by their son, though they don't make any attempt to want to get to know him. They give him access to his trust fund – which has quite a sizeable sum as Jack, left all he had to Jesse, as well his grandparents still making deposits into the account. When his parents finally depart for another exotic location Rachel and Shelby feel a weight has been lifted and Jesse jokes that they were more on edge than even he was.
After the holidays rehearsals for Regionals comes on full force. During this time Jesse shows his strength as a leader. He keeps the group focused, calm and yet he has found a way to make sure that the fun isn't lost. He knows this is a new aspect to the role that he had as part of Vocal Adrenaline, but it is the part that he likes the most. Instead of feeling slighted, the whole club is grateful for Jesse's calm leadership. They use his extensive knowledge to come up with a great number for regionals. Rachel and Shelby – who has come by to watch the final run throughs – are both proud of Jesse and how he has once again found that piece of him that made him a star.
Regionals come and this time there is no question that New Directions wins. Watching Rachel hoist the trophy above her head causes Jesse's heart to fill with love. That night after coming down from the excitement of winning Rachel and Jesse finally sleep together. That night Jesse gives Rachel a promise ring and Rachel gives herself to Jesse. It is epic as Jesse had promised more than a year ago. For both of them it is a new and wonderful experience and when it is over they lay entwined listening to their slowing heartbeats and softly touching their cooling skin.
Jesse pecks the top of Rachel's head. Since sleeping together Jesse has become more publically affectionate and in their privacy both of them were insatiable.
"Where is everyone, we have to get started on the final number for Nationals." Jesse says checking his watch and noticing that everyone is late.
"They'll be here don't worry." Rachel says, before pulling Jesse in to peck his lips.
At that moment she signals to the door and slowly the group file in. Jesse turns and sees his friends standing – or sitting in the case of Artie – behind a cake. Everyone lets out a cheer of "Surprise!" and Jesse lets out a laugh of shock, before leaping up out of his seat and racing over to the group to pull some of them into a group hug.
"Umm this is a great surprise guys, but I am not sure what this surprise is for. I am very happy about it though." Jesse says.
"It's just to say thank you for this year." Rachel says going to stand in front of Jesse. "It is a year to the day that you re-joined New Directions. We wanted to show to you just how much you mean to all of us and just how much you helped us this year and how because of you we won regionals and are going to own at this years Nationals."
Jesse pulls Rachel into a hug before turning to face the rest of the team, Rachel held securely at his side.
"I really should have done this for all of you. Spending this year with all of you has helped me. Helped me more than you can know. All of you have become a family for me. I have found with all of you that thing that I lost when my brother died and for that I will always be grateful." Jesse takes in a deep breath to keep from choking on tears before continuing. "So even though I am going to be leaving you in the fall to go to New York I am going to be taking all of what you have taught me with me and when I have my first performance all of you better be there."
"Only if you let us all crash in your dorm room." Puck says.
"Of course, but again thank you for everything. I love all of you." Jesse finishes and immediately is pulled into a group hug.
"Ok well let's get this cake cut." Finn says and slowly grabs the knife out of Brittany's hand.
The group goes to work and Jesse pulls Rachel out into the hallway. He doesn't say anything but rests his forehead against her own. He never knew that he could feel this happy, but since that night Rachel has taught him how to love himself and how to share his love with others. She has made him a better person, a whole person. He knows that he is still going to have times where he thinks that he won't be worth anything, but he knows that Rachel will be there to help him get through it. He also knows that he will do the same for Rachel, because no matter how strong she is Jesse knows that she has her moments of weakness.
"Thank you," Jesse whispers.
Rachel doesn't respond, just presses her lips against his.
"I love you Rachel Berry." Jesse whispers, before leaning in once more to kiss her lips.