A/N: So I'm not obsessed with Finchel but they are qt. This goes out to Bassie. She's the biggest Finchel stan I know. And I know there's a whole lot of St. Berry but I kind of had to. And I'm so bad at writing Finchel. Really. I may never do it again.
She loves to win. (The whole world knows that.)
She'll see her name up in lights and the world at her feet; every face in the crowd turned to her, every star in the sky shining for her. She will heavily doubt that she's selfish (but it's for all the right reasons, of course) yet she will always agree that she's a go-er, a do-er. (Get ready for me, love, 'cause I'm a comer.)
And she'll always do her very best to win at all times, because winning is important, competition is vital; she feels the need to compete and win and succeed in every thrum of her blood.
Winning is important.
(She looks into hazel eyes, a little like hers; lighter, perhaps, softer, and she thinks to herself, this is a competition I may lose.)
She doesn't know if she even wants to win.
She remembers it very clearly, when she saw him for the first time.
She'd say it was a Thursday.
She was picking bits of yesterday's lunch out of her hair as she lays in a dumpster, after a daily run-in with the jocks. And she's so used to it, by now, it's not even a big trouble, just a tribulation of the day, something she's rather used to doing by now. She's determined not to let it bother her. One day they will all rue the day they -
And she's getting ready to launch into one of her rants but before she can, a head pokes itself over the side of the dumpster. She meets brown eyes against her own, catches the sight of a jersey plastered to sweaty skin.
"Um..." He's looking at her like a particularly intriguing puzzle. "What happened?" He blinks at her as if he really can't be bothered thinking.
Rage wells up inside of her and she really has to take a breath. "Well," she begins with huff, "your friends on the team were being their usual selves. You know, oafish, totally without regard for women. I'm a feminist – wholeheartedly so – and I for one find it..." She trails off because he's staring at her blankly, with the look of a child who has just heard an exceedingly difficult math equation.
"...Basically, Noah Puckerman and Randall Thomas threw me in here," she finishes awkwardly, because anything she says will confuse him even more.
He blinks happily at her, recognition creeping over his expression. "Puck!" He grins. "He's my best friend," he says helpfully. "Why'd he throw you in here?"
"I don't know," she says with annoyance. "They just did. And they used Quinn Fabray to distract me. Like I don't even know her that well, but I know she's supposed to be very popular and, you know, she's a girl like me so I didn't think, well, I didn't think she'd be helping them but -"
She calms down at his expression and just frowns. "Can you get me out of here?"
He nods, relieved to finally understand something she's saying.
(And that's how it begins.)
There's something hollow in Jesse's eyes. Something not quite there. And she thinks she could keep looking forever, keep searching his eyes for something that shines in the light or sparkles under the sun, or even just is there at all. She wants to see it but she doesn't even know...
So she keeps looking.
But the innocence in Finn's eyes – the bright spark of primordial joy and childhood – doesn't translate to Jesse's. She keeps looking but it's nowhere to be found.
He's lost his innocence, a tiny, insistent voice says.
When will he take yours?
Now, Rachel is not one to say that she doesn't love Jesse St. James.
Of course she does.
She loves the way he makes her feel, the way he's there when no one else is. When he's around she's teased less and there's no more picking lunch out of her hair or being alone or heartbroken. He's there and she has someone to love because he loves her back.
He's better for her professionally, of course. She can see it now – Jesse St. James and Rachel Berry, their names on Broadway. They'd be divine together, traveling across the country in fine dining and living. The world would kneel at their feet and they'd be the king and queen of center stage.
His voice matches hers – vocally they are a much better fit.
(But sometimes he's not looking at her, not looking really in her eyes, and he's somewhere else, far away from where he's standing. He's looking at his own career. In his eyes, it doesn't include her.)
She doesn't know why she's standing alone in the parking lot with yolk running down her shirt and eggshells littering the ground. She doesn't know why he walks away, or why he did it, or why she had to go and trust him all over again. She doesn't know why it took the cold, dead baby chicks on her skin to make her realize that his career came first. She wasn't in his future. He knew that quite plainly.
She doesn't know why, for a moment, for a split second, a flash of warm hazel eyes and innocence flits through her mind.
With the metaphorical peeps of baby chicks in her ears as she scrubs the yolk off, she can hear the sound of her heart breaking.
("Do it. Break it like you broke my heart.")
He stares at her when she huddles into class; he notices the empty seat beside her. She can feel his eyes burning into the back of her skull, through her wet hair and scalp, right through to her thoughts.
She closes her eyes and bars him away. He was right all along (he's not as dumb as the world thinks); she hates to lose, she hates to let him be right.
So in her mind, he isn't at all.
"I love you," he says.
It's spontaneous and out-of-the-blue, just totally because he can and because he wants to. He looks at her like he's found the sun and she finds solid ground in his eyes; that twinkle of innocence, that flash of adoration. He smiles, a quick twitch of his lips.
And she lets the warmth flood through her, seep through her skin, right into her bones, and before she can help herself, she's smiling too.
Each letter of his confession swells like hot air in her stomach, lifting her off the ground so she can catch every star in the sky.
One day, all of the stars in the sky will be hers. Yet when she turns her head to the side, just a sliver more, he's looking at her and there's stars dancing in circles in his eyes.
Perhaps he's already caught them for her.