A/N: Considering all the St. Berry fics that already exist, I'm not sure what I've got to add, but I'm really missing Jesse this season and simply want to lose myself in the delight that is the Jesse/Rachel pairing.
Usual disclaimer: I do not own Glee, any of its characters, or Lionel Richie's Hello.
Someone to Love You - Chapter 1
"She's an ambitious little freak who'll do anything to hold on to her power."
"What you did was bad."
"You didn't do this because you love Glee Club. You did this because you love yourself more."
Like an unending refrain that she couldn't purge from her mind, the harsh words spoken by her fellow Glee Club members echoed endlessly in Rachel's head. Of course, she probably shouldn't have sent that new girl, Sunshine, to an abandoned crack house, but what did they expect of her? She was Rachel Berry, the star of New Directions. Even though they might not like it, everyone in the group had come to accept that she was their alpha female – the one destined to sing the biggest solos, duet with the best vocal partners, stand in the brightest spotlight. These were her rights. She had earned them, by virtue of hard work and an abundance of God-given talent. And there was no way she was giving any of that up. Not to any of her teammates, and certainly not to some vertically challenged foreign exchange student.
She exhaled loudly in frustration. Nothing was going according to plan. This was supposed to be her year. Where she and Finn, fresh off a New Directions win at Regionals, became McKinley High's ultimate power couple. Well, that had been shot to hell when the team failed to even place, and she had to watch Vocal Adrenaline – and Jesse – hoist the coveted trophy. Now that Finn had been kicked off the football team, insults and slushies were sure to be the order of the day, rather than the adoration and praise that she so desperately sought. Her boyfriend certainly didn't seem optimistic about his prospects – or hers either, for that matter.
"I'm just another Glee loser now."
She grimaced at the memory, dismayed at his choice of words. Loser? He thought of them as losers? Once a jock, always a jock, it would seem. Although she appreciated the fact that he'd stuck with the club in spite of the major pressure he'd previously been under to quit, she knew that this was merely a diversion for Finn. Something he enjoyed, yes, but it wasn't life or death for him, the way it was for her. The way it was for…
There he was, taking up space in her head again. In spite of his betrayal, in spite of the humiliation she'd suffered at his hands, the image of Vocal Adrenaline's handsome former male lead kept popping up, unbidden, invading her thoughts by day and her dreams by night. And, she had to admit, often making her current boyfriend look decidedly second-rate in comparison.
No matter what the circumstance, she was absolutely certain that Jesse would never consider himself a loser. His self-assurance, his arrogance, his ego… they were all a part of the draw for Rachel. In some ways, she aspired to be just like him – secure in her talent and therefore able to withstand any and all insults hurled her way. Of course, confidence was easily achieved as a member of the region's premier show choir. The club was revered at Carmel, where they practically ruled the school. The Cheerios and the football players were top of the McKinley food chain, and they never let anyone from New Directions forget it. At least she and her choir mates had each other, even if everyone else was against them. Well, most of them had each other, anyway…
Rachel heaved another sigh, recalling the icy reception she'd received at today's rehearsal. She had held back, knowing the rest of the club's members were pissed at her, hovering outside the classroom and observing silently as they warmed up both their bodies and their vocal chords. They'd been laughing and joking, enjoying themselves, until she walked in. Instantly, as if someone had thrown a wet blanket on the proceedings, the room had gone ominously quiet. Rather than stating her case, in what she realized would be a vain attempt at mollifying them, she simply moved silently to sit beside Finn. Like a stab to the heart, she noted that all the chairs around him were empty, as if none of them could even bear to be near her. Turning her head away briefly, she struggled to hide the hurt she was feeling. Divas don't cry, she reminded herself, as she composed her features into a neutral expression before facing forward once more. Using every acting trick at her disposal, she made it appear as if she was perfectly fine, channelling all of her emotions into the songs Mr. Shue had chosen for them to work on that day.
By the end of practice, Rachel's wounded psyche had craved only one thing – the comfort and security of home. When Finn informed her that he and Puck were heading to the local pool hall, she breathed an inward sigh of relief. Finally, she could drop her show face. Her jaw ached from the insincere smile she had maintained for the past hour. Just a bit longer now…
Alone in her car, she gazed across the parking lot, watching as Finn and Puck playfully jostled each other. Laughing boisterously, they were oblivious to the petite brunette and the tears that were now freely coursing down her face. He didn't even kiss me goodbye, she sniffled to herself, painfully aware that even her boyfriend had remained somewhat stand-offish during rehearsal. Well, she'd worry about that tomorrow. Reaching into the glove compartment, she grabbed the first CD that came to hand and, without examining it closely, set the disc into the player. Hoping to find solace in music, as she normally did, she instead felt her stomach flutter as a most familiar voice emanated from the speakers.
I've been alone with you inside my mind
And in my dreams I've kissed your lips a thousand times…
She quickly steered the car to the side of the road and cut the engine. Her breathing was ragged, and the tears she had only just managed to contain threatened to spill over once more. Snatching the case from the seat where she'd casually flung it mere seconds before, she stared at it uncomprehendingly. The outside liner was blank, giving no clue as to its origins. Yanking it open, she gasped at the message it contained.
Please, just listen. This says more than I ever could.
Only five tracks were listed – Hello, Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Sorry, Forgive Me – but the theme was abundantly clear. When had he done this? And how had it ended up in the glove compartment of her car? For the briefest of moments, she considered breaking the disc in two and dumping it unceremoniously in the trash, but the temptation to listen to it was stronger. Pressing the play button once more, she leaned back against the seat, letting the warmth of Jesse's voice wash over her. A faint smile ghosted across her lips as she recalled their first duet in the music store, all those months ago. Closing her eyes, she could picture him as he had been then, soulful and sincere and oh, so sexy, practically making love to her through the song. A flush crept up her cheeks. If only…
A muted buzz jolted her from her reverie. Retrieving her phone from the depths of her purse, she flipped it open, eagerly anticipating a text from Finn. No doubt he had finally decided to apologize for giving her the cold shoulder during rehearsals. Her face fell as she read the message that was definitely not from her boyfriend.
You went too far this time, Rachel. Can't you reign in those diva tendencies of yours? I honestly have to question whether we can remain friends after that little stunt you pulled.
Resentment surged within her. This from Kurt, who had given her a hideous makeover in the hopes she'd look ridiculous in front of Finn. An egregious insult, but one she'd forgiven him for. Why couldn't he extend her the same courtesy? Why couldn't her supposed friends accept her as she was, flaws and all? With an angry jab of her finger, she deleted the hurtful words and snapped her phone shut. Noting the gathering darkness, she put her car in gear and headed for home, as the soundtrack of Jesse's apology broke through her subconscious defenses, offering a balm for her bruised and battered heart.