A/N: Set after "Duets" - so obviously, this probably isn't actually canon. Written for the RLt "Step Outside the Box" collaboration.


Jesse St. James doesn't know how to be poor. Spend-thrifty, maybe, but definitely not poor. When he thinks of poor, he thinks of the lazy bums he sees outside the McDonald's every day, dressed in rags and stinking of piss; he thinks of the women he sees at the super-market, paying for their purchases with food-stamps. He thinks of those people – dirty people, lazy people, ugly people, untalented people – as poor.

No one can say that he's any of those things. Jesse isn't dirty; he showers two times a day, thankyouverymuch. (Impeccably full and shiny hair doesn't just spring up over night.) He'd be flabbergasted to hear anyone call him lazy; he practices his singing and dance moves a minimum of three hours a day. Maybe he's a biased judge, but when it comes to being beautiful, his face is 98.7% symmetric – nearly the Golden Ratio. (He plans to get the other 1.3% fixed via the blade after his first big paycheck.)

But even if he didn't have any of those things, the one thing Jesse. St. James will always have is talent; pure, raw talent. There's no doubt that he's the best of the best in Vocal Adrenaline, never mind New Directions. He more than outshines those Lima losers.

No, Jesse St. James doesn't meet any of the requirements for poor.

So why is he?

He's so ashamed. Lima's brightest star's all out of gas, and now he's stuck at some lame community college, taking business classes and throwing his life away. He no longer lives at home - his parents gave him enough money for a cheap, smelly apartment, but they promised that was it. He'll have to get some sort of job if he wants any money to survive on. He can pretend this is an acting exercise all he wants, but he knows the truth; the full ride to UCLA? Gone. Bright and shining future? Gone. Supportive parents with an unlimited checkbook at hand? Gone, too. It's all gone.

The one thing he'll always have, though, is regret. If he'd known what it was going to cost him, he would have never gotten into that car after that party. Because apparently, one DUI is enough to lose a full-ride scholarship. Apparently, one DUI is enough to make your parents vow to stop supporting you financially.

Apparently one DUI is enough to completely snuff out your rising star.