Author's Note: This one-shot is for Gemelli22's St. Berry challenge. I hope you all enjoy it, because I had sooo much fun writing it! St Berry is just so cute Anyways, please review and let me know what you think!
*December 18th, 1999*
Rachel Barbra Berry darts through the crowd, wrapped in a pink scarf with a matching hat and mittens, her dark curls bouncing and her cheeks flushed with excitement.
"Rachel, come back here," her father Hiram cries uselessly. Rachel looks back at her fathers and giggles before ignoring them and continuing toward the stage door. Most five year olds are incredibly stubborn, but even by those standards she is extremely strong-willed. Her fathers push through the throng of people and grab her hands so she can't run away again. "Don't scare us like that!" Hiram scolds good-naturedly.
"Sorry, Daddy," Rachel says sweetly, batting her thick, dark lashes at her father.
"So what did you think of the show, Cupcake?" her father Leroy asks. Rachel beams.
"It was wonderful!" she cries, twirling around happily. "This is the best birthday ever!" she adds, turning back to face the stage door just in time to see it open. A young boy steps outside. He looks a little older than Rachel, probably seven. He has curly brown hair and the prettiest green eyes Rachel has ever seen. She exhales, her breath clouding in front of her face in the cold. He catches her eye and walks straight over to her.
"Hi," he says with a winning smile. Rachel blushes.
"Hi," she replies softly.
"I'm Jesse," the boy introduces himself. "I play Chip."
"I'm Rachel," she says, suddenly finding her voice. "And I don't play anything yet, but I will." Jesse laughs, then walks away to take a picture with a fan. Looking back, neither of them will say it was a particularly meaningful conversation, but it was the start of a wonderful tradition.
*December 15th, 2000*
"You want to see Beauty and the Beast?" Leroy Berry asks. Rachel nods.
"But we saw it last year," Hiram points out.
"Well I want to see it again," Rachel says firmly, punctuating her statement with a stomp of her small foot. "It's my birthday, I get to see whatever I want," she reminds them. Her fathers look at each other and shrug.
*December 18th, 2000*
Standing outside of the stage door again, Rachel is nervous. She rubs her hands together. Was it this cold last year? Finally after what seems like forever, the stage door opens. Jesse's face lights up when he sees her. He walks toward her immediately.
"Hi Rachel," he says. Rachel grins at the sound of him saying her name. "It's awesome to see you again."
"It's good to see you too," Rachel replies, looking away shyly. Her fathers exchange a look, realizing why Rachel chose this musical. "You were fantastic," she continues. Jesse smiles.
"I know," he says confidently.
"Well, you're awful smug for a seven year old," Hiram says, cutting into their conversation. Jesse straightens up to his full height.
"I'm eight and a half," he retorts.
"Daddy," Rachel elbows him, embarrassed.
"So where are you from, Rachel?" Jesse asks
"Ohio," she answers. "We come to New York and see a Broadway play every year for my birthday," she explains.
"Jesse, come on," a voice calls from the doorway of the theater.
"That's my mom. I've gotta go," he says wistfully. "See you next year, Rachel," he adds with a wink. Rachel grins like a fool. Her next birthday can't come soon enough.
*December 18th, 2004*
"Rachel!" Jesse cries, rushing out of the door to greet her with a hug, his voice cracking endearingly on the last syllable of her name.
"Hi, Jesse," she says with a laugh.
"Look at you, all grown up," he says, smiling in a way that he never smiles onstage.
"It's only been a year. And I think you're the one that did the most growing," Rachel teases. Jesse's face was becoming less round, a little more defined. His voice was starting to change too. Jesse frowns.
"Yeah," he says sadly. Rachel raises an eyebrow and cocks her head to the side.
"What's the matter, Jesse?" she asks. Jesse sighs.
"My contract is up soon," he explains.
"But you're the perfect Kurt von Trapp!" Rachel protests. Jesse shrugs.
"I'm getting too old for the role," he states. Looking down, he continues, "I'm sort of in an in between phase right now. Too old to play a little boy, not old enough to play a young man." He looks up at Rachel, sorrow evident in his eyes. "I probably won't get a job for a few years." Rachel's heart sinks as she realizes what this means for her.
"But… when will I see you?" she asks, trying not to cry. She can't cry. She's ten years old, she's not a baby. Jesse shakes his head.
"I don't know," he answers honestly. Rachel bites her lip and looks away. "Hey," Jesse says, putting his hand under her chin and lifting her head to meet her eyes. "If I'm ever in Ohio, I'll look you up." Rachel smiles smally and nods. Jesse leans forward and gives her a gentle kiss on the cheek. "Bye, Rachel." Rachel watches him walk away and feels her heart break for the first time.
*December 18th, 2005*
This year, since she didn't have to worry about choosing a show Jesse was in, Rachel chooses The Phantom of the Opera. She loves the show, but afterwards she is left feeling cold. That warm feeling of anticipation and excitement at seeing Jesse that she usually got as soon as the cast took their bows is gone. She almost doesn't have the heart to go to the stage door, but her fathers remind her that it's as much a tradition as going to the musical is. Standing there, she can't help but expect Jesse to walk out any second. She thinks this is her least favorite birthday.
*December 18th, 2010*
For her sweet sixteen, Rachel wants to watch Spring Awakening. She saw it the year it opened, but she decides she wants to see it again and her fathers are happy to oblige, since they thoroughly enjoyed it the first time around. After taking their seats in the theater, Rachel opens her program and a piece of paper falls out. She leans down to pick it up from the floor and gasps. It reads: Tonight the role of Melchior Gabor will be played by Jesse St. James. Rachel is shocked. She had no idea Jesse was a part of this play. Just then, the lights dim and the violins play the opening notes of "Mama Who Bore Me". Rachel gets so swept up in the play that she almost forgets that Jesse is here until he is on stage. He looks so different, she thinks. That's no surprise, since the last time she saw him he was twelve. She always thought he was cute, but now he is flat out gorgeous. He is tall and muscular, and when he sings, she feels herself melt. His voice is rich and smooth. Suddenly, she realizes she is going to see him at the stage door once again. As much as she loves this show, she can hardly wait until the end.
Rachel Barbra Berry darts through the crowd, wrapped in a plaid scarf with a navy blue hat and matching gloves, her dark curls bouncing and her cheeks flushed with excitement. She reaches the gate near the door and stops short, breathing hard. She looks over her shoulder to see her fathers hanging back, watching her from a distance. They realize she wants to see Jesse alone. She beams at them and they both give her reassuring smiles. Then the stage door opens and her heart stops. He steps outside. He is wearing dark wash jeans and a tight black t-shirt. His hair is perfectly coiffed and wavy, different from the tight curls he had as a little boy. He looks at all the fans gathered to meet them with a smirk, as if they're lucky someone as superior as him would grace them with his presence. He scans the crowd, looks right at her, then his gaze slides to the next person. Rachel's heart sinks. It was silly of her to think he would recognize her, it's been six years since she saw him last. He probably doesn't remember the little girl that visited him every year on her birthday. Just then, he looks back at her as if doing a double take.
"Rachel," he says, taking a step towards her, his voice deep and seductive. She smiles at him, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Hello Je-" she is cut off by his lips crashing against hers. People around them whoop and holler, but Rachel barely notices. She wraps her arms around Jesse as he pulls her closer, pressing her body against the metal gate. He wraps his fingers in her hair, knocking off her hat. They kiss for what seems like hours and when they finally pull away, he only lets their faces separate a little, keeping his face inches from hers. He puts a hand on her cheek.
"I thought I'd never see you again," he whispers. Rachel laughs softly, still not believing this is really happening.
"Me either," she replies, running a hand through his hair and letting it rest where his neck meets his spine. Jesse clears his throat.
"Look, I know it would break our tradition, but… Would you like to go grab a bite to eat? I'm starving, and we have a lot of catching up to do," he says. Rachel grins and nods.
"I would love to," she answers. With that, Jesse hops over the gate between them. He slings his arm around her shoulder and they walk off together, leaving the stage door far behind them.