AN: So, this is my first ever Glee fic and it's a silly random idea that popped into my head and it pretty much wrote itself. Reviews and comments are appreciated 'cause I'm actually really curious to see if this turned out any good. Read on, dudes!
and you can't see when all your dreams are coming true.
It's a week after Regionals that Jesse St. James shows up at Rachel Berry's dance studio.
Her days have all been spent singing and doing pliés –Rachel Berry accepts nothing short of perfection when it comes to her performance. (And maybe she doesn't tolerate anything short of perfection in her relationships, either.)
When her brown eyes meet his blue ones, a look of shock crosses her features, but only for a second –Rachel Berry always does try to have a flawless poker face (or as Shelby Corcoran calls it, Showface).
"What are you doing here?" she asks with her patented serious, calm-and-collected tone. He's come to realize that it's mostly just for show and that it usually means she's shocked or scared. (Or maybe this time it's a little bit of both.)
Jesse flashes her one of his ought-to-be-illegal, perfect grins, "I'm leaving tomorrow. For Los Angeles." He says, ignoring her question, "There's nothing holding me back here anymore. I'm done with Lima, Ohio now."
"And you've been 'done' with me for a while, too." Rachel replies with a nearly inaudible gulp. "So, why are you here now? Or did you simply come because you have some sort of debased desire to rub it in my face?"
"I came here because school's out and I want you to come with me to LA this summer." Jesse tilts his head slightly, offers her an easy grin and an endearing look, "I have my own apartment, and there's nothing holding you back here for the summer, either. So," he licks his lips, "come with me. Don't think about it. Just come with me."
Rachel shakes her head, shocked, "Are you –you can't be –this is not –are you serious right now?" Most of it comes out like an incoherent mumbling, but her final question comes out loud and clear.
"I'm completely serious. I know I–"
"–you egged me!" Rachel cuts him off, "You used me and you left me." she shakes her head, "This world is too fragile for people to be untrue. Life's too short for lies. So, answer me this because all this time I've been wanting to just ask you: why did you do it? Why would you waste my heart and my time? Was it all just for a win? I mean, anything so you could snag your 'fourth, consecutive National Championship', right?"
"No." Jesse assures her, his tone steadfast, "I never wanted to hurt you, and that's the truth. I got caught up in the pressure and the drama and I was mad about the Run, Joey, Run video so I made a really stupid decision. But I regret it. I regret it so, so much. I regret it every single day, and I wish so badly that I could take it all back." He wipes away one of her tears with his thumb and even at that light touch he feels her tremble. (She hadn't even realized she was crying.)
"But I love you. So, come with me. I want to be with you, but not here. Not this place, not Lima, Ohio. We have to start anew. I'm ready. You can count on me now. I know you couldn't count on me before, but you can now. We'll live together. We'll be together. It's what I want. It's what you want, too. Look, you know we're supposed to be together. I knew it the first time I say you in that music store, when we sang our Hello…and you know it, too. I know you do."
Rachel closes her eyes and counts to five in her head. It's a mental trick she uses to calm herself. (And she needs to calm herself right now because this whole thing is crazy.)
(The idea of escaping Lima is intriguing –it's been intriguing since she was five-years-old.)
(Finn told her 'I love you'. A few months ago her answer would've been an automatic 'I love you, too'. Now it's something along the lines of 'oh…' Besides, he hasn't called her in days.)
(Jesse had egged her. He egged her. He humiliated her.
'I loved you'.
Sometimes she swears she can still feel the gooey, disgusting substance drip down the side of her face. Not to mention the lingering feeling of humiliation and public rejection –and there's also the poor baby chickens, of course.)
(But she's not over Jesse yet –she'd be lying if she said otherwise. And Finn's never been dependable (he'd egged her too, he'd lied about Quinn, he'd tried to manipulate her, he'd bailed on her as co-captain, he'd dumped her to hook up with Santana and Brittany) and, quite frankly, she's not sure she loves him.)
(And Jesse's here now and he's apologizing and he's sincere and he loves her and he's offering to take her away, and isn't that what she's always wanted?)
Rachel's eyes flutter open. "Let's do it." Jesse smiles (and it's a smile, not a grin –with him it's important to make the distinction since it's only when he smiles that he really conveys happiness, otherwise he's just being cocky), and pulls out two plane tickets from his leather jacket's pocket. "How did you–?"
"Well, I wasn't planning on leaving until you agreed to come with me." Jesse replies, handing her her ticket.
Rachel opens it and reads it –Rachel B. Berry. First Class. Seat 2A– because it still doesn't quite feel real that she's doing this –that they are doing this. But she just smiles.
She's due to do something crazy, anyways. And fleeing to LA with Jesse St. James for the summer seems just the right amount of crazy right now.
Jesse doesn't say a word, he just leans down and crashes his lips against hers, cupping her cheek with his left hand and god, he's missed this so much more than he cares to admit. He reluctantly pulls away (damn that stupid need for air), "Come on. My car's outside, I'll drive you home."
Rachel nods, "Okay." And she automatically smiles when his hand finds hers and their fingers entwine. God, she's missed this.
They jump into his Range Rover. Jesse keeps a one-hand grip on the steering wheel; his free hand is still entwined with hers.
Talking Dad and Daddy into letting her go is easy enough.
They'd found about her run-in with Shelby and had spent countless hours fawning over her emotional state. Besides, they're no strangers to the torment she undergoes daily at school. Selling them (and her therapist) on the idea that taking a break from everything would be healthy for her was gravy.
Besides, a summer in LA would be an invaluable experience for someone who plans to go into the show business. If nothing else, it was an entirely practical and strategic decision in preparation for her future.
Packing is a pretty quick task –she's Rachel Berry so she keeps all her clothes anally organized, which is perfect for a quick getaway such as this. All she really needed to prepare was her iPod and cell phone chargers, plus a book for the plane.
Dad gets her suitcase down from the attic. Daddy tosses a pack of condoms in there when she's not looking. (He always thought that St. James boy was just gorgeous.)
Jesse picks her up at eight o'clock on the dot the next day.
Rachel leaves Lima behind without so much as a final glance goodbye.
Los Angeles is ridiculously sunny. Jesse slides on a pair of Wayfarers and hands her a pair of tortoiseshell Gucci sunglasses. Rachel flashes him a questioning look before sliding them on. "Thought they'd look good on you." he shrugs. Perfect fit.
A driver awaits them at the airport holding up a sign that reads 'St. James'. He drops them off at a car dealership where Jesse picks up his brand new Audi R8.
"That's…that's the Iron Man car." Declares an amazed Rachel. (She's picked up a few things dating Noah.)
"Yep. It is." Jesse replies coolly. (He's decided he's done with Range Rovers in LA –new town, new car.)
Jesse's apartment is ridiculously large and ridiculously empty. Turns out his parents simply handed over their black AmEx and let him go shopping on his own. Honestly, Rachel figured he'd already have the place furnished.
"I didn't want to pick something you wouldn't like. This is your place, too. I want you to be comfortable." Jesse replies offhand. "Um, it's a two-bedroom. In case you want to–"
"–I don't like sleeping alone in a new place." Rachel cuts him off, looking down at her hands as she blushes a little.
Jesse flashes her a playful half-smirk, "Okay, then."
"So, uh, you didn't bring anything?" asks Rachel, awkwardly changing the subject, "No keepsakes, no sentimental knickknacks or tchotchkes? Because they say it's healthy to keep some sort of memento –to mark time, I guess."
Jesse placed his suitcase in the corner of the living room and threw his messenger back on top of it. "A few picture frames. Books. Laptop. My CD and DVD collection." He flashes her a grin, "Care Bear. That's pretty much it for me." he says as he shrugs off his jacket, "Did you bring anything?"
"Um…a few CDs and books, duvet cover, gold-star mug," Rachel lists off, counting things off on her fingers, "We're starting anew, right?"
Jesse smiles, "We are." He says, "Well, do you want to go pick out some furniture now? Or we can go get something to eat, if you're hungry. I looked up some vegan restaurants in my Zagat guide. There're a few good ones nearby."
"I'm actually not that hungry." Replies Rachel, "Furniture first, maybe we can order in later? Or would you prefer it if we went out?"
"How about," Jesse cups her face in his hands and leans down to peck her lips, "We go shop and decide on the food after?"
He offers his arm, and she happily links her arm through his.
They buy couches and armchairs and Jesse insists on a futon for some unknown reason. Coffee table, end table, dinner table, and all the kitchen stuff. The buy the most decked out, expensive home theater and stereo system in the store.
Finally, they pick out a platform bed and try out mattresses. Rachel hums Van Halen's Jump as they bounce around from mattress to mattress.
That's the first time she thinks of home.
Jesse hands over his credit card at the cash register and pays the extra fees so that everything gets delivered today.
They spend the rest of their day organizing all the new furniture and sprawled out on the floor, eating vegan Chinese take-out right out of the boxes, and laughing at some inane reality show on VH-1. He smiles whenever she laughs because even her laughter comes out in perfect pitch.
They crawl under the covers sometime after two am and Jesse just loops an arm around her waist, snuggling up to her and nuzzling his face in her warm neck. She smells like her floral shampoo (which is borderline intoxicating) and his cologne (which he finds unbelievably sexy). Like Rachel, like home. (It occurs to him that this is the first time he ever really feels at home.) And he thinks that this is as good as its ever going to get.
The next few days Rachel insists on arranging things more meticulously. ("You'll be living here for four years. You need to be comfortable. It needs to be home.")
So, Jesse puts on a few shelves and Rachel organizes his studio (they'd decided to turn the spare room into an office of sorts). They organize his movies and their CDs in the living room shelves. (Movies in alphabetical order, CDs by genre.)
Jesse discretely throws her Compilation CD in the trash. (The one with Run, Joey, Run, Total Eclipse Of The Heart and a Journey medley. He doesn't need to listen how Hudson's forever hers, Faithfully.)
Rachel blatantly breaks his Queen: Greatest Hits I & II CDs in neat, little pieces. (She doesn't need a musical remider –his flawless rendition of Freddie Mercury is permanently recorded in her brain. Queen is still one of his favorite bands, but he doesn't buy a new copy. He can live without listening to Bohemian Rhapsody and Another One Bites The Dust.) (He doesn't think he'd live as well without her.)
There's a few awkward moments. Like when Jesse puts up a photograph of him and Shelby after their final Nationals' win. Jesse just watches her as she stares at the picture. He knows Shelby's 'abandonment' has hurt her more than she cares to mention. (And it kills him a little that he can't do anything about it.)
But after a weeks Rachel stops staring at the picture whenever she passes by it. She learns to live with it. It's the picture that's there on their coffee table of her boyfriend's Glee Club coach. (Because in some attempt to harden herself, she stops thinking of Shelby Corcoran as her mother.)
Rachel knows Jesse calls Shelby every Monday. She also knows that Shelby sends Jesse a care package at the beginning of every month. (When Shelby finds out that Jesse is living with Rachel in LA she starts adding vegan cookies to every package. Rachel pretends not to notice.)
One time she sneaks a peek at a picture of baby Beth that Shelby had emailed Jesse. The kid looks like a perfect mixture of Quinn and Noah. Beth Corcoran is bound to be a force of nature –with a mixture of Quinn Fabray and Noah Puckerman's genes, plus Shelby's upbringing, the kid will be impossible to say no to. (She makes a mental not to call Noah and ask about the baby.)
Jesse gives up eggs and, though he still refuses to go vegan, he learns to make a pretty kick-ass vegan pizza. (Anything for his girl.)
Rachel hasn't kept in touch with anyone from back home except her fathers. (And then there's the times when Noah to check in on her. It turns out that he and Jesse had actually kept in touch too, since Jesse was Beth's godfather and, unlike Quinn, Puck did agree to an open adoption.)
All good things come to an end.
Summer is almost over. UCLA classes are about to start.
Dad and Daddy are no longer accepting 'soon' as a date for Rachel's return.
And, inevitably, Jesse and Rachel need to figure out what they are going to do now. Their perfect LA bubble is about to be popped. Their time for playing house is almost over.
"Daddy wants to know if you're keeping me here against my will, and Dad wants you to know he has clients who can break your legs and make it look like an accident if I don't return home safe and sound." Rachel announces as she walks back into their bedroom.
Jesse grins, tossing his copy of Hell's Angels on the nightstand table, "Your Dad is the only man who can turn being a lawyer into a scary threat." He jokes, "What did you tell them?"
"I assured Daddy that I'd been staying here out of my own free-will and made Dad promise that under no circumstance is he to send anyone of his clients here to harm you in any way, shape or form." Rachel laughs as she crawls in bed him. "But they do have a point, though. We need to figure out what's our next move."
"Well," starts Jesse, pulling her on top of him, "I was thinking watch a movie –what's even playing on HBO this week? –and then go to sleep. We can get up early tomorrow and get breakfast on the Promenade. There's that new organic place you've been wanting to try out, right?"
Rachel shifted her weight so she was straddling Jesse. They'd been sleeping together all summer, but they'd been avoiding even discussing sex since her panic-induced, Like A Virgin, musical breakdown. She brazenly takes her top off over her head.
Jesse stares at her sitting on top of him in her sweats and her black bra, her long hair cascading down her shoulders, and he runs his hands along the curves of her body. His blue eyes search hers and finally she says, "I'm sure. I'm ready."
And he leans forward, gently kissing her navel. He slides down her sweats. She undoes his jeans. He tries to be careful; he doesn't want to hurt her. She digs her nails in his back and rakes them down. He's pretty sure the mark's going to last for weeks, but he doesn't care. This is the textbook definition of a perfect moment.
Rachel's collapsed in his arms, but she seems to refuse to fall asleep. Jesse wraps an arm around her waist and drops a kiss on the pulse point of her neck. "Are you all right?" he asks, "Are you too cold? Too hot?"
"I'm burning up. Burning up for your love." She quips, leaning back to softly peck his lips. An unsure look on her face as she pulls away, she asks, "Um, was I…was that okay? Did I…Because I know you've…"
Jesse smiles, covering her lips with his own. "This was perfect. You were perfect. I love you." he says, running his hands along her hair, "You, Rachel Berry, are the best I ever had."
Rachel smiles, she finally settles and starts to doze off, but then he says, "Don't go. Stay." She shifts to turn around and face him, "You keep talking about going home, but…isn't this home? Most of your clothes are here, your CD collection. You have your own closet, plenty of drawers, three thirds of the bathroom cabinet. You say you have to go home, but what's waiting for you back in Lima, Ohio? A Glee Club that undermines you, so-called friends who don't appreciate you, a daily slushee facial? Stay with me. I'll be home. I can be your home."
"No!" protests Rachel as she sits up, "No, it's not like that. I…my dads are back home, and I have school…what would I even do here?"
"Your dads can come visit whenever they want. One of the added benefits of the spare room –hell, I'll pay for them to fly in." assures Jesse, "And I'm sure there're plenty of great schools here. I mean, this is LA. You're graduating soon, and we can figure it out from there."
He gulps. He is Jesse St. James. He does not plead for anything, yet here he is, practically begging her not to leave him. He's never been serious about his relationships, either. But this is Rachel. And he loves her. And she's become the only family he really has.
"We can't play house forever, Jesse." Declares Rachel sadly, linking her fingers with his. "Do you really think we can do this?"
"I'm Jesse St. James. I can do anything." He says cockily, "And you're Rachel Berry. We can do this."
Convincing Dad and Daddy to let Rachel stay on a more permanent basis isn't as easy as getting them to agree to whole summer. They jump on the first flight to LA and practically break the front door in as they call out for Rachel from the hall.
Rachel answers the door in a pair of pajamas and when Jesse comes out of the bathroom wearing only a towel around his waist, Dad attempts to beat him up. He disappears into the bedroom to change, this gives Rachel a time to talk with her dads.
"Dad, Daddy, this is a great opportunity for me. The quality of the art programs here is much better than the ones back home. And you can come to visit anytime, and I'll be home for the holidays. I'm graduating soon, anyways." She attempts being pragmatic first, "And I really want this, Daddy. Not just because it's a great opportunity, but…because I love him."
"Did he get you pregnant?" bellows Dad, jumping off the couch, "Is that what's going here, sweetie? Is the little bastard trying to keep you here?"
Rachel sighs, "Dad!" she shrieks.
"Honey, calm down!" orders her Daddy, dragging him back to the couch.
Then Jesse comes out, this time fully clothed, "I would never do something like that, sir." He assures them, "I love you daughter and I'd never pressure her into anything. I'd never keep her here if she didn't want to stay."
It's only after plenty of reasoning and research and pre-booking of plane tickets and coordinated visits that her dads agreed to what they still believed to be crazy and naïve idea.
The rest was gravy. Rachel's dad shipped over the stuff she wanted to bring with her to LA and they insisted on paying half the rent on the apartment, and daily phone calls and regular emails.
As she starts the new year at a new school, Rachel wonders what it'd be like to be at McKinley right now. She wonders if Kurt and Mercedes are still the school's biggest divas or if Artie and Tine are still together or if Quinn is back with the Cheerios or if Brittany and Santana have finally started dating out in the open. She thinks about Noah and how he's handling things (and an email he sent her saying he got a vasectomy –what the hell is up with that?). And about Mike and Matt and wonders whether they've said more than five words ever. And about Mr. Schue and Ms. Pillsbury and even Coach Sylvester. She thinks about Finn and she wonders if he misses her.
But then she thinks about Jesse and her life here and how she's truly happy so none of it even matters.
She makes Glee Club after performing her now flawless rendition of Barbra's Don't Rain On My Parade.
Neither she nor Jesse are surprised by it.
College and a new school takes its toll on the relationship. Even though Rachel stays, their perfect little bubble is popped and reality starts sneaking in. There's tests and assignments and he has shows to prepare for and she's got competitions to train for and suddenly they're never home.
"No one's forcing this relationship on you!" shrieks Rachel one night, "If you want to be with another girl just say so because I have no intention of holding you back from anything! If that skank 'Lana', who is a mediocre performer at best, is who you want to be with now then that's fine, but end this first!"
Jesse scoffs, "Me? What about that oaf who's rubbing against you at every performance? Who is he, Hudson 2.0? If you want out of this relationship, don't try to pin it on me!"
Rachel throws a pillow at his head and slams the bedroom door shut. "Enjoy the couch!"
But then he's knocking on the door and she's trying to ignore him, but he keeps trying to coerce her into coming out. "Come on. We can talk about it. Or at least sing about it… Please."
After a few minutes, she caves and lets him in. And he apologizes and she forgives him, and after a little pushing she apologizes, too.
Rachel's sitting front row for the opening night of his first official college production. Jesse gets rave reviews. He sends a picture of him and Rachel (he's holding roses they handed him in the encore) during opening night to Shelby who leaves a message on their machine, beaming about how she's proud of him.
Rachel finds out about it when she calls Puck and he says, "Saw a photo of you and St. James at Shelby's place. Lookin' good, Berry." She doesn't mention it. Tells herself that Shelby liked the picture because it was Jesse's big night, and pushes the information to back of her mind.
Time goes by pretty quickly and soon, Rachel Berry is officially a high school graduate. Yale, Julliard, UCLA and NYU's drama programs all want her. (She pretends to be shocked, but she really isn't.)
Jesse and her dads are her graduation, and Daddy insists on throwing a blowout graduation party for her back at the house. It's the first time she sees the members on New Directions in two years.
The first one to spot Rachel when she arrives is Puck. He wraps her in his arms and picks her up, swings her around like a little kid. "Oh, Noah!" she laughs, and then she leans in and kisses his slightly scruffy cheek.
"Berry-pants!" Puck greets happily, "Check it out!" he says, waving around his diploma, "This badass has officially graduated. And I got a full-ride to Duke on a football scholarship!"
Quinn pops up next to him and smiles, "Yes. They were so desperate to get rid of you that every single teacher passed you." she turns to Rachel, "Hey, Berry."
Rachel's surprised to discover that Quinn and Noah have been dating almost five months now. And it honestly seems they've all done their fair share of growing up because they seem genuinely happy for her, which is certainly a shock. (To say they'd been resentful when she abandoned Glee Club would be an understatement.)
Kurt is dating some guy called Erik Van der Woodsen (after apparently calling it quits with another guy called Sam).
Brittany and Santana look strikingly different without their Cheerios' uniforms on and it's literally like a part of who they are has been ripped from them.
Artie's been recruited by MIT and he left early (apparently he never quite got over the fact that Tina had dumped him for Mike). Which was the other big news, Tina and Mike are moving in together at Columbia.
Finn doesn't even show up. (Rachel refrains from asking if he even graduated.)
Jesse arrives at the end of the party to pick her up and head to the airport. He spent his visit checking in on his parents (who weren't home), and visiting Shelby and baby Beth. Except Beth wasn't a baby anymore and it wasn't just her and Shelby.
Apparently Shelby is now dating, and living, with Will Schuester. (Jesse finds is very awkward, to say the least.)
Being back in Lima feels weird and they're both just glad to finally be going back home. Old friends are better in small doses.
Their next big relationship milestone comes when it's time to decide on what they're going to do now. Jesse wants to stay in LA –his calling, he says, is the fame and glamour of Hollywood. But Rachel is determined –her dreams are in Broadway, the roles she's meant to play.
So, eventually he caves. What he wants is to be famous and for that, Broadway will do. So Rachel takes her spot in the prestigious Yale Drama program, and Jesse transfers. Hello, New York (or New Haven).
They start auditioning immediately –Rachel Berry and Jesse St. James are bound to be stars and nothing is going to get in the way of that.
By some sort of movie-like serendipity coincidence, they both land leading roles on Broadway's revival of Spring Awakening. (She's Wendla. He's Melchior.)
Their first official performance together is impeccable. (As is every performance after that.)
New York is taken aback by the popularity of Broadway's newest power couple. (The paparazzi start referring to them as St. Berry.)
Rachel takes offence to the fact that Jesse got first billing.
Jesse finds her annoyance very cute.
When their contracts with Spring Awakening are done, they both have new offers already waiting for them. They don't even pretend to be surprised by the fact. They're Rachel Berry and Jesse St. James –it's what's expected of them.
Rachel Berry accepts nothing short of perfection when it comes to her performance. She doesn't tolerate anything short of perfection in her relationships, either. Since she was a little girl, she's been trying to measure her life in perfect moments, from one perfect moment to the next.
And, while life is wonderful now, she's never really thought that this is how everything would work out in the end.
And then it dawns on her. Maybe sometimes perfection needs to be graded on a curve.