Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot to this story and my OCs. The rest all belongs to Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, the various songwriters, and to the writers of any joke that may not be mine.
AN: It helps if you've read my one-shots. They introduce you to some of the new characters, such as Jack Harmon and Sam Wesson.
Couples: WillxEmmaxCarl love triangle, FinnxRachel, PuckxQuinn, MercedesxOC with some KurtxOC, SantanaxBrittany, and TinaxArtie.
Will Schuester had always believed that New Directions was the best glee club in the state of Ohio. Of course, being the coach of the club made him a little bias. But, still, even he couldn't believe what he was holding in his hands. It was an official letter from the Board of Performing Arts.
"Dear Mr. Schuester. We, at the State Board of the Performing Arts, are proud to inform you that your show choir, otherwise known as New Directions, had been selected to compete in a 24 choir single elimination tournament in Cleveland during the weekend of November 12 to the 14. The first prize is a guaranteed spot at Regionals. This will be held in place of the annual Sectional performance as a way to show the state of Ohio all of the hard that goes into the performing arts. We hope to see you and your students soon and we wish many a broken leg in your performances. Sincerely, Chester Chadwick, Chairman of the State Board of the Performing Arts."
'This is unbelievable.' Will thought to himself, looking up and down from the letter to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. You never knew if that would happen whenever Brenda got to the coffee maker first.
He pinched himself on the shoulder, yelping when he realized how hard he was doing so. He couldn't wait to tell the kids, they were going to be as excited was him. They had to be, this was validation that all their hard-work did not go unnoticed.
"Carl," Emma Pillsbury was on the phone with her boyfriend of seven months, Carl Howell, "I don't think this is the school is a proper place for us to be doing this…I could get caught…I know it's not filthy…Still…I shouldn't even be using my work line for a personal call…"
She giggled, he was so naughty.
"I'm wearing the blue gloves that you gave me," she finally said, the blue gloves moving through the unsanitary box of tissues from her last session. "No, I'm not eating lunch. I'm handling the tissues…Of course, I know they're sanitary enough to eat with…I also know that I have a better chance of avoiding contamination from gloves that you have me..." she giggled again, this guy made her giddy.
But, in a good, non-panic attack inducing sort of way.
"Carl," she cautioned, not noticing Will in her doorway, "I have to get back to work…No, I don't have time for that…I'll see you when I get off of work…I love you, too…"
Those four little words drove a knife through Will's heart. It should be him that she was saying these words too, but, as always, he had found a way to screw that up. Still, having her in his life as a friend was better than not having her at all.
"William," Emma shrieked, placing the phone back on the receiver. "What is it?"
"I have great news, Emma," Will said, barely able to contain himself.
Emma's bright doe eyes seemed to glow with enthusiasm up on the Spanish teacher's excitement.
"Figgins finally decided that the glee club could stay even you don't win at Reginonals this year?" she asked.
"No," Will said, her face dropping in disappointment. "But, after I tell him about this, he'll have no choice but to keep it around."
He placed the letter on Emma's desk and slid it into her gloved hand, their fingers brushing through the latex fabric. Emma quickly pulled her hand away, gathering the letter, and reading it to herself.
"Oh my God, Will," she looked up at her grinning colleague, "this is unbelievable. Have you shown the kids this yet?"
"No, I'm waiting until the next class," he said. "I had to tell somebody."
"And you came to me?"
"Of course," Will said, his left brow arching up. "Emma, you're my best friend. If I can't tell you, who can I tell?"
The redheaded counselor smiled with pride, they were friends again. She thought that he would never say those words to her again. Of course, she didn't want to force the issue and make things even more awkward than usual. Not that they were awkward…
"Emma?" his voice yanked her out of her mental ramble-fest. "Are you here with me?"
"Oh, yeah, Will, I am," she answered quickly. "I was just thinking about if Carl and I were going out to eat…I've been a little scatterbrained lately…Still, I think this is great…"
"Well, there's another reason why I came here," Will said. "And feel free to say no, but I know for a fact that I can't keep an eye on the kids by myself. I trust the majority of them, but Puck, Santana, and Jack are going to be the real problem. So, do you think you could possibly help chaperone the kids?"
Emma seemed a tad surprised that he was asking her. Of course she would go. She loved the glee kids as much as Will, why wouldn't she go?
"If you need any extra help, I could ask Carl to with us," she suggested.
That suggestion was another twist of the knife in Will's heart. If he said no, she would know he still wanted to be with her. On the other hand, if he said yes, he would most likely only see her during the performances.
"Sure," he blurted out, immediately regretting the decision. "Why not? I hope he likes show choirs."
"He loves them. He was in one when he was in high school. He's also played the Emcee in a production of Cabaret at the Lima Playhouse just last year."
"Really?" Will asked, inwardly begging for God to be just and righteous and just kill him right where he stood.
"Yes. He was very good," she said, her voice brimming with pride.
"Ah, Emma, I gotta run," Will stated. "A class and all. I'll talk to you later?"
"Sure," she said, watching as he turned and exited her office, almost checking himself into the nearby locker.
The early morning went by without much commotion, just your usual slushie to the face from the populars to the geeks. Or another "loser" being tossed in the dumpster. In other words, it was just another day in the pecking order of McKinley High. By fourth period, however, the students most susceptible to such treatment received a respite. That respite was in the music room where the glee club congregated every day.
The students were congregated in their usual spots, the groups splitting off into smaller sub-groups were friends and couples could speak to each other. Artie and Tina were busy being the couple that was so cute you want to vomit, Puck and Quinn were arguing over something rather asinine, Kurt and his newly-minted boyfriend, Sam Wesson, and Mercedes were discussing their plans for after school and practice, while Jack Harmon and Rachel discussed the song lists they had painstakingly constructed the night prior. Finn, meanwhile, was quiet and giving Rachel those dopey eyed smile she loved so well. Her head moved from her boyfriend to her friend as if it were on a swivel.
Mike and Matt were their usual quiet selves, discussing the dance moves they had for Sectionals when it rolled around. They didn't want a repeat of last year, so they were planning backups. And, finally, Santana and Brittany were whispering to each other, possibly planning a liaison after practice or their next excuse for something that went wrong in the school.
The sub-groups merged together when they heard Mr. Schue enter the music, followed by Ms. Pillsbury and their ubiquitous pianist, Brad. Mr. Schue seemed happier than they had ever seen their leader, a piece of paper clutched in his hand, as he strolled into the music room.
"Guys," he announced, "I have great news!"
Rachel's 20/20 vision caught sight of the seal on the paper.
"Oh my God," she said, the breath almost leaving her body. "Mr. Schue, is that the seal of the Ohio Board of the Performing Arts?"
Jack sprang out of his chair, grabbing the letter from Mr. Schue. He examined it and squealed, causing everyone in the room to jump. Jack Harmon never squealed. Well, not counting the time the Muslim Student Union hung him from a flagpole and forced him to oink like a pig, but that was neither here nor there. This had to be big, or he was finally losing what little sanity he had.
Rachel grabbed the letter next, making sure her eyes didn't deceive her. They hadn't. She shoved the letter back to Mr. Schue, grabbing Jack and dancing around the room with him.
"Okay," Puck said, his thick eyebrows arched at the sight of the two egos of the group dancing around the room, "what's got their panties in such a twist?"
"Guys," Mr. Schue tried to stop the dancing. "I…" Jack and Rachel moved around the room. "I need you two to…"
He sighed, turning to Finn and Quinn. "Could you two?"
"On it," Finn said.
"Sure thing," Quinn added.
Finn grabbed Jack as he completed a spin, sending him back into his chair while Quinn subdued Rachel, forcing her back into her chair.
"Okay, that was hot," Puck said to his girlfriend, his eyes still wide at the sight of Quinn wrestling Rachel into her chair.
"Gay," Kurt coughed dramatically.
"Up yours, Hummel," Puck fired back.
This would have continued if someone hadn't played the scales completely off-key, getting everyone's attention.
"If that's all?" Mr. Schue asked, looking up from the piano.
Brad raced over to the piano, patting the instrument as if it were a pet that had been abused, as Mr. Schue took center stage again.
"Go for it, Mr. Schue," Artie said, his gloved hand motioning for his teacher to continue.
"As Rachel and Jack have so enthusiastically stated," Mr. Schue said, his smile matching the looks on Jack and Rachel's faces, "I received a letter from the Ohio Board of Performing Arts."
Kurt's eyes widened. "Are you sure it's not a trick?" he asked, knowing that he heard Coach Sylvester mutter something about tricking Schuester and luring him into a trap.
"I can assure you that it's real," Mr. Schue replied happily. "For those of you who don't know, they Ohio Board of Performing Arts is a group that coordinates all of the theatrical events in the state of Ohio. They work with the shows that are done at the community theatres, making sure they receive press. They also work with major productions such as when touring shows come into town; they get the word out, get people to see it."
"More importantly," he continued, "they are the people responsible for the yearly glee club competitions throughout the state. And they want us to compete in a tournament that will guarantee us a spot at Regionals if we win."
"They do know we came in last at Regionals last year, right? Santana asked from the back row.
Mr. Schue pursed his lips. "They do. But, it's a new year. We have a clean slate and we are going to write the best year of New Directions on this slate. That's what this tournament is going to be about, new beginnings. And we're gonna win it. Because, this time, we have more talent and we won't have to worry about Sue Sylvester sabotaging us."
"And exactly why are supposed to not worry about that?" Mercedes asked. "You said that last year and she nearly took us out at Sectionals."
"We shouldn't be worried because someone, or something, has got her more focused on the Cheerios than on us," the Spanish teacher supplied to the girl with the golden note.
Jack readjusted himself in his chair, trying not to smile about this little revelation.
"And I have it on good authority that she will not be involved with the judges this time around. Which means we have a chance at winning," Mr. Schue continued. "Now, I want to spend the rest of the class preparing set lists for the tournament. There are four rounds and we know showstoppers for all of them."
"You can count on us, Mr. Schue," Rachel said, grabbing Finn's arm and dragging him to the front of the room. "Finn and I have already come across a great variety of songs that we planned on unveiling at Sectionals, but this tournament is just as good a place as any."
"Unless, of course," Jack said, standing up, his satchel on his side, "you want to win. Then you'll take my selections."
He opened the satchel, revealing a variety of sheet music. Finn, meanwhile, looked as though he was terrified of being caught in the middle of another Jack-Rachel throw down. His groin still hadn't recovered from the last one.
"Rachel, Jack," Mr. Schue said, stopping the skirmish before it even started. "I am happy that you two want to help, but I want there to be someone else with you two. Artie, do you have a problem with helping these two with the selections?"
The rest of group looked at their director, not exactly sure what he hoped to accomplished by putting the nerdy paraplegic in the line of fire of the group's resident egos.
"I don't have a problem with it," Artie said, getting a terrified expression from Tina.
He simply winked at her, a wink that said, "I'll be fine."
Still, Tina didn't seemed convinced at her boyfriend's calm exterior to the terror that seemed to await him.
The end of the school day and the end of rehearsal in glee had brought Jack and Rachel, flanked by Artie, to their favorite music store. Well, it was their new favorite one, considering that Rachel had met the baby chicken killer at the other one.
"I still don't see why we have to come here," Artie stated. "You two are supposed to be the experts at organizing these things."
"Flattery will not get you out of this, Wheelman," Jack said, holding the door open for Rachel and Artie. "While Rachel and I happen to be the resident experts in organization, music, and all things Broadway…Now that I think about it, why the hell are we here? I mean, I just described how we're the best ever. Why do we have to be here again?"
"Because, Jonathan," Rachel said, "it would be a gross case of hubris if we believed we knew everything."
"As I live and breathe," Artie interjected. "Rachel Berry just admitted she doesn't know everything."
Rachel shot Artie a playful glare. "I never said I knew everything. That would be Jack's line of thinking."
"It's not thought, it's fact," Jack countered arrogantly.
The tall balladeer crossed over to the counter, looking around for the cashier. Of course, a person could be loitering by the "No Loitering" sign and they'd still provide better service than the workers at this place.
"The reason we're here," Rachel explained, "is because of one specific book. I brought Jack with us because, well, in the last 3 months the book has gotten heavier and the print as gotten smaller. I have 20/20 vision, but it's gotten too small for even me, and Jack is the only person I know who actually carries a magnifying glass with him at all time. Also Finn's back went out the last time he tried to carry it."
"So, basically, you're using Jack as the pack mule and for the magnifying glass?" Artie inquired.
"Pretty much," Rachel replied.
"I heard that," Jack grunted, throwing the massive music tome over his shoulder. "Rachel, my wallet's in my back pocket, can you?"
He swung his backside out, almost clocking a bystander with the book. Rachel spotted the metallic black billfold in the left pocket. She reached for it gingerly, pulling it out of its owner pocket.
"I'm gonna take this out," Jack said. "Pay the man, please."
Rachel paid the man behind the counter, who took the money and returned the change. Artie and Rachel exited the store, finding Jack on a bench, the book cracked open.
"I didn't recognize the man behind the counter," Rachel said, returning Jack's wallet to him.
"That's because he was the homeless guy in the back alley," Jack replied. "I offered him the exact price of the book to ring it up. But, isn't it depressing that a bum off the street can do a better job than the people hired to do the job?"
"Okay, explain this to me," Artie asked. "Why do you two go there if the service is so bad?"
"Because it has one of the most comprehensive music libraries in the state of Ohio," answered Rachel.
"Unfortunately, the company that owns it treats it like the TBS did WCW in the 1990s," Jack pressed. "Still, the lack of enthusiasm does give more musically inclined customers the chance to browse without a salesman getting all up in your business."
Rachel, Artie, and Jack decided that the book would serve them best in place where it could be sat down. Jack suggested Artie's lap, but that was nixed by both Artie and Rachel. So, they went to the public library instead because Artie wasn't willing to take one for the team.
At the library, the trio found a table in the back of the building. And that is where they spent the next two hours, moving through the book, cataloguing songs that would work for everyone. To be honest, that was only because Artie was there. Had it been just the two, they would be singing together and trying to undermine everyone's attempt to shine.
"How about we separate the solos, give the strongest voices the chance to shine," Jack said, his eyes betraying a rage that threatened to capsize on him. "The weaker ones can provide the backup for the group numbers."
"I'm way ahead of you," Rachel said. "Artie, could you please turn to page 240, there's a song that I think would be perfect for you, Noah, Kurt, and Finn."
"Gotcha," Artie said, flipping through the pages of the tome.
He looked up when he saw Jack unzip his fly.
"What are you doing?" he asked, looking over at Rachel, who was behaving as if this was normal behavior.
"I have a hip flask and I didn't realize how cumbersome these pants were when I put them on this morning?" Jack said, reaching into his open pants and withdrawing the after mentioned flask.
"You actually put booze in that thing?" Artie asked, his thick eyebrows arched at his teammate's newly revealed eccentricity.
"No," Jack snorted. "I don't drink alcohol. It's mineral water. I've been wanting to drink it all day."
Jack turned to his bag, pulling out a couple of glasses, and placing them on the table.
"Guys want some?" he asked.
"I don't think you're allowed to drink in the library," Rachel said.
"Yeah, especially crotch water," Artie added.
"You two act like I peed in it, the seal is tight and I keep it away from my underwear."
He poured three glasses, pushing them in front of them.
"C'mon," he coaxed. "I swear my junk didn't touch it."
Artie picked up the glass, studying the liquid. It looked safe and Jack hadn't pulled any tricks that involved drugging people since the incident involving the hockey team. And that was to get even for them locking Artie in a port-potty and tipping it over. So, he used his powers for good that time.
Artie decided it was worth the risk and took a sip. It was mineral water. He took another gulp and suddenly felt woozy.
"My junk didn't touch it," Jack repeated. "But, the pharmacy known as my cousin, Leo's, medicine cabinet did touch it."
Artie passed out, almost spilling the drink on the book, which Rachel pulled closed. She looked her drink and sniffed it.
"This smells like Flunitrazepam," she indentified the substance in the drink. "You gave him a roofie!"
"Yeah," he said. "I figured it was the best way to get rid of him and not completely disobey Mr. Schue."
"If that wasn't illegal I would actually compliment you on your cleverness," Rachel stated.
"Thanks for the non-compliment anyways," Jack acknowledged. "So, what did you want to talk to me about?"
Rachel suddenly blushed, she had almost forgotten the reason why she had wanted to spend the day with Jack and not Finn.
"As you know," she began, taking a long breath, "Finn and I have been dating for nearly six months, which is considered a long time in high school time. And, I've thinking about approaching him and asking him if he thinks we should…that he and I could…"
"Knock boots?" Jack supplied. "Do the hunka-chunka? Have sex?"
"Yes," Rachel said, her face redder than the hair of Terri Schuester's demon nephews. "But, I'm not sure how to approach him about it. I mean, considering what Quinn did to him last year and the fact that he backed out of having sex with Santana leads me to believe he may be scared of it."
Jack bit his tongue, he knew that Santana and Finn had done the deed in that sleazy motel room, but he wasn't going to tell Rachel. The fallout wouldn't be as entertaining as he once believed and he knew it.
"Shouldn't this be something you should be talking to him about?" Jack asked. "Don't get me wrong, I'd love to help, but since we're neither dating nor screwing, I don't see where I'd be any help."
"I know I should be talking to him about this," Rachel said. "But, how do you broach this sort of subject with someone like Finn? After everything other girls have done to him?"
Jack shrugged and he sighed. "Well, if it was me, I'd tell him that if he was afraid of something bad happening, we would take all the necessary precautions together."
"I've already thought those through," Rachel said. "It's a matter of trying to show my sincerity and that I won't hurt him like the others."
"That's the hardest part of anything," Jack said. "How 'bout this? I drew a Hitler mustache on Artie, I use him as a distraction for the staff, we have a couple of laughs, grab something to eat, and head home? I'm much better at this sort of thing if I've had something to eat."
"Scratch the Hitler mustache and the distraction and you've got a deal," Rachel compromised.
"Deal," Jack said, hoisting the book off of the table and walking out of the library.
He returned for a split second, turning off the brake to Artie's chair before rejoining Rachel.
Around the same time, an exhausted Kurt Hummel and Finn Hudson stumbled into the front door of their house. Kurt was able to move through the front door a little easier considering his smaller frame, but he was half-tempted to let Finn carry him into the house. You know, put the giant to work on something that mattered: Making sure he didn't pass out.
Kurt groaned as he flopped onto the couch, the sound of Finn's football equipment hitting the ground providing the soundtrack to what he was going to say to the Geneva Convention when they finally brought Sue Sylvester up on charges for crimes against humanity. Oh, that would be the day.
"Hey, Kurt," he heard Finn groan.
"What, Finn?" Kurt asked, pulling himself up and looking over the side of the couch, seeing that Finn had collapsed.
"Have you ever thought about the future?" the tall teen asked his almost-stepbrother.
Kurt raised an eyebrow, this was a new question, and one that he wasn't used to hearing from Finn.
"Not way in the future," Finn continued his thought. "But, like, when you find the right person, someone who just gets you. I don't know how to explain it."
"I don't have to think about that sort of thing, Finn," the smaller boy answered. "I think I've found someone like that. Why do you ask?"
"Well, when you care about someone like that," Finn said, sitting up, "you want to show them. I don't mean with flowers and songs and that other stuff, but…you know?"
"No, I don't, Finn. Please elaborate."
Finn gave Kurt a quizzical look.
"Explain it to me in details," was Kurt's answer.
"Take me and Rachel," Finn said. "I like her. A lot."
"I'm aware," Kurt said. "If the government could tap into the pure friction that comes along when you two make out, we wouldn't be drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico."
Once again, Kurt's latest joke just confused Finn.
"And I want to show how much I care about her…" he nodded his head, hoping that Kurt would pick up on his silent cues.
Kurt's eyes went wide.
"Don't look at me like that," Finn proclaimed. "I'm not the only guy in the room. I know you have the same thoughts. Except Sam is in your thoughts, not Rachel."
"Finn, I'm not comfortable with this topic," Kurt said, trying to stand up. 'Damn you, Sue Sylvester.'
"Sorry," Finn said. "I just thought I could talk to you about this. I mean, you are my best friend besides Puck. But, I know you won't try and sleep with my girlfriends."
Those words caught Kurt off-guard.
"You're best friend?" Kurt asked. "Really?"
"Yeah," Finn said, finally standing up. "I wouldn't have even brought it up if you weren't."
Kurt smiled. 'Best friend?'
"Thank you, Finn," he finally said. "You're my best friend too."
"So, do we, like, hug?" Finn queried.
"No," Kurt replied.
"Okay," Finn said. "Look, I'm sorry I even brought this up. I didn't mean to make you upset. I can always talk to Puck about it. He's got more experience than both of us."
"You don't have to do that," Kurt said. "I've had those thoughts about Sam. I'm not gonna go through with them at the moment. But, I've thought about it."
Finn studied Kurt, trying to find any sort of discomfort in his almost-stepbrother's movements.
"How about this," Kurt suggested. "We get changed, we eat, and then we talk about whatever the spirit moves us to talk about? That way we can find what we're comfortable talking about and we can make ourselves a little boundary box."
"Nice Bad Boy II reference," Finn said, following Kurt into the basement.
"Bad boys, bad boys," the countertenor sang.
"Whatcha' goin' do," Finn sang with him. "Whatcha goin' do when we come for you?"
The following day, Will was called into the office of Principal Figgins. He wasn't exactly sure why, but his greatest ally last year had turned against both him and Sue, giving them a mutual enemy. Will entered the office.
"You wanted to see me, Principal Figgins?" he asked, unsure of the mood the administrator would be in.
"Yes, come in, William," the older man greeted him good-naturedly. "Have a seat."
"Thank you, sir," Will said, follow his instructions.
"Will, I've read over this letter about the tournament in Cleveland. And I must say, very good work. Glee club is certainly giving McKinley High some very good press," Figgins stated, handing the letter back to Will.
"That's what we try to do, sir," Will stated proudly.
"That being said," a darker edge entered Figgins' tone. "When you participate in the tournament, I want you to make sure that your students remain on their best behavior."
"That won't be a problem," assured the glee coach. "You know that they're good kids."
"William, I think that you have a bit off a bias towards these children," Will raised an eyebrow at Figgins, who continued. "They have all ended up in my office for some offense or another. Mr. Hudson and Mr. Puckerman were caught slashing the tires of your competition last year, Ms. Fabray became pregnant by Mr. Puckerman, Ms. Berry incited that extremely vulgar performance at the beginning of the year, Mr. Harmon, well, is himself. Need I go on?"
"Mr. Figgins," Will finally said, "you don't have to go on. But, I guarantee you, these kids will be on their best behavior during this tournament."
"I have no doubt that they will. Because if they misbehave in a way that does damage to this school's reputation, I will disband the glee club immediately and they will brought back home."
"But, Mr. Figgins," Will argued.
"That is my final decision, Schue," the principal said.
Will bit his lip. This really was the final decision. He was suddenly happy that he had two extra chaperones for the trip.
'Then again, if I just tell the kids what'll happen if they act up, they'll be more than happy to…'
He was dragged out of his thoughts by the voice of Tina. Will turned to see the angry young Asian girl moving toward him.
"What is it, Tina?" he asked, unsure of why she was upset.
"Did you know Jack drugged Artie yesterday?" she asked.
Will's eyes widened in horror, Tina's words repeating his head until he heard another student say, "Hey, did you hear? Puckerman beat the crap out of Krafosky!"
"Someone shoved Homo-el into a porti-shitter and tipped it," the first student said. "Maybe Puckerman's a queer too."
"Nah," the second student said. "Too badass. He was probably just pissed that he didn't get to do it."
Those words replayed with Tina's when another group circled the hall, discussing the third and final troublemaker of the group.
"Did you see Lopez twist Jew-Fro's nuts?" one girl asked.
"Yeah. Why'd she do it?"
"I heard he was looking up Brittany's skirt and Lopez caught him in the act," another girl supplied that answer.
"I guess no one's gonna be messing with Lopez's girl again," the second girl added.
William Schuester never feared anything, not the evil of the Sue Sylvester Express, the terror of Ken Tanaka's shorts, or the possibility of Emma running out of wet wipes. But, hearing Figgins' warning and the actions of a few of his kids left him terrified for the future of glee.
"This is an accident waiting to happen," he mumbled to himself.
A/N: And with that, my first ensemble piece in the Glee fandom has begun. As always, your thoughts, opinions, and views matter. They especially matter now that the story will be longer and will, obviously, carry more plot than my one-shots, so tell me what you think or I'll be left in mediocrity with the troll writers. And we don't want that, now do we?