Author's Note: Raine (Rachel&Blaine) friendship set sometime after 'Never Been Kissed'. Because if there is someone who might understand Jesse, it's Blaine, whose glee club is royalty at his school, much like Vocal Adrenaline. Blaine is king, and so was Jesse.

And, before I forget, go check the amazing stories from MissElliexXxXx. I beta her new story 'The Sound of Underground' and it's amazing! Go read it and others right now!

Timeline: Set after 'Never Been Kissed' and after Rachel finds out about 'The Power of Madonna'. I'm sticking with my personal canon where Rachel and Jesse still talk even after 'Journey'.

Disclaimer: Oh, please. C'mon.

take a chance and don't ever look back

Blaine watches as Kurt's friend and team mate Rachel sneaks in New Directions' choir room, a big fake smile on her lips – and red-rimmed eyes that look older than her sixteen years of life. He notices the concerned looks from Brittany and Tina (Santana also looks worried, but is keeping her distance since it came out that she slept with Finn last year and there's an angry red mark where Rachel's hand connected with the Latina's face), and discretely nudges Kurt. "Kurt, what's wrong with Rachel? She looks subdued".

Kurt sighs as he checks the date on his iPhone and glances at Rachel for a moment before leaning against Blaine. "Today is St. Berry's anniversary. Or it would be, were they together", he whispers, and Blaine stares confusedly at his friend and protégé. Kurt sighs and shifts so his eyes are on Rachel. "Look, Blaine, it's not really my story to tell so if you want the details go talk to her, okay? Just… If you do, take a box of Kleenex with you. It's been almost six months since they broke up but she still has feelings for him".

Blaine is confused because hasn't Rachel just broken up with Finn? He asks Kurt exactly that, and the smaller boy waves dismissively. "Finn is, at best, a poor, sorry excuse of rebound. I wish you had met us when Jesse was a member. I wish you had met Rachel last year when she was with him. She never looked happier. She also never sang better", he looks almost regretful at the tiny brunette.

Blaine nods slowly and leans back on his chair, watching New Directions jam and dance and have fun. Somewhere halfway through the practice Rachel receives either a call or a text, whatever – she pulls her phone out, looks at it for a moment and then quietly sneaks out. Tina rises to go after her, but Blaine puts a hand on her shoulder and shakes his head at her before getting up himself to go find Rachel. They're not close or anything but maybe that's what she needs – someone impartial to listen to her story and maybe help her see what everyone else does see now, but apparently was too blind to see last year.

He does find her, sitting at the auditorium stage, phone pressed to her ear and tears running down her cheeks, sobbing quietly into her call. She's singing softly – and tell you time and time again, how much I care – but her voice cracks and he hears her whispering, "I miss you, so, so much… It's just so hard… Okay… Me too…" Then there's silence, and only the soft sound of her sobbing echoes on the empty auditorium. Blaine quietly walks in and settles next to her, handing her a tissue.

Her eyes swim with tears and she's clutching at the wrinkled tissue, her pale skin making brown eyes seem even bigger on her thin face. She nods at him thankfully, and is silent for a stretching moment, and he rises, squeezing at her shoulder gently before patting dust off his slacks, and he's halfway to the door when her soft whisper reaches his ear, amplified by the acoustic of the theater. "He… He egged me", she mumbles quietly, sniffling softly. "That's why we broke up".

He's frozen where he stands, shock and horror coloring his face, and she smiles sadly. "He transferred schools for me. I know everyone thinks he did it first because my… my mother – his coach – told him to approach me for her, and second because he wanted to…" Rachel blushes fiercely and he nods in understanding, slowly returning to where she is, "… but I know he did it because he wanted to be with me. And he was the first boy who chose me first. Noah and Finn wanted me while wanting Quinn too, but Jesse… Jesse was me – only, as a boy".

She breathes shakily, tears running down her cheeks. "And he made me feel perfect. He made me feel beautiful and intelligent and smart and driven and… just perfect. He didn't want me to change, he never mocked me, always understood me. That's why I loved him". There's a long pause and she whispers, "That's why I still love him. He was like you – a king in his school, master of his glee club. And still he gave everything up for me, to be with me". She glances fondly at her cell phone. "No matter what Finn does, or how hard he tries, he just…" She shrugs and sighs.

"… He just never matches up", Blaine finishes quietly, and she shakes her head negatively. The young boy sits in silence next to her for a long time, and then says, "I don't think I would be capable of leaving Dalton for whatever reason. Especially to come for a school where I'd be looked down at. At Dalton I know I'm loved, and those who don't love me, at least respect me". He shuts up for a second and then pats her shoulder.

"He loves you, Rachel. For guys like him and me – guys who are used to the best – to give up what's certain for the doubtful is a big deal".

"I know he does. I know", she whispers. "But you weren't here last year. You don't know how everyone treated him. I hated him for so long because of what he did to me – because of all the secrets and the egging – but once I stopped hating him – that is, once I stopped thinking only of myself and started thinking of him, I realized how horrible everyone was to him. Finn and Noah looked down at him like he was less than trash, Kurt resented him for taking the solos that Finn didn't, and everyone else simply didn't take the time to know him. Has Kurt ever mentioned to you that they gave me an ultimatum to choose Jesse or them?" She nods at his stunned expression. "If I carried on dating Jesse, he, Tina, Artie and Mercedes would quit. They filed him away as a spy, and that was it".

He's shocked at her candor, and at the deep despair in her voice. It's been months since they broke up, and still she speaks of it, of him, like the rupture of their relationship just happened. "It must have been brutal".

She nods, wiping at her eyes. "It was. I was used to it, because", she shrugs, "I'm a student here for almost two years now, so I got used. My skin is somewhat thicker. But Jesse – Jesse was used to being revered. Vocal Adrenaline rules Carmel, and Jesse ruled Vocal Adrenaline. He struggled a lot and gave up so many things to be with me, and I simply took him for granted. I never before tried to see things by his perspective. I'm not saying he's an innocent party – he isn't – but I have my share of mistakes too". She presses the tissue against her eyes, and he gives her a fresh new one. "I just… I thought I could play pretend with Finn. If I tried really, really hard, maybe I could convince myself that what I felt for Jesse was a silly infatuation". She quiets for a moment, and laughs bitterly. "But the best moments of my days are when I'm talking with Jesse and can be… well, me".

"I ran into Jesse St. James twice", he says casually, quietly, and she turns to look at him, confusion coloring her face. "The first time, I thought that he… Well, basically? He was a jerk – a really cute jerk with fabulous hair, but a jerk nonetheless". She giggles softly, humorlessly, and he smiles at her. "But then, last year, before nationals… I saw him at the local music store. And he was looking at their baby grand piano so… so brokenly. He was with some teammates who were checking out the new music that had arrived, but I honestly never saw someone looking that lonely while in company with his supposed friends". He makes a pause and adds quietly, "He looked human – upset, sad, regretful, but human".

She presses her hand against her mouth and he watches her sympathetically, a hand on her shoulder. "Look, Rachel, I don't know what happened between you two. Kurt never mentioned his name to me, only something related to a coupling named St. Berry-" she chuckles and wipes the two tears that escape her eyes, and he smiles, "- and I made the connection myself. I don't know him either, but he looked… Well, he looked almost like you do right now".

Tears roll down her cheeks and she puts her face in her hands, sobbing quietly. Blaine sighs. "Look, Rachel. You know how you feel. He called today so I guess you know how he feels too, how important you – and the date – are for him. Why don't you give another go? From what Kurt told me of your relationship with Finn, you gave him a bunch of chances and he blew every single one of them. What Jesse did, was it so serious you can't look past it?" She looks thoughtful and he pats her shoulder gently before walking away, leaving Rachel behind to ponder his words.

Come Monday morning, he leaves Dalton to go meet Kurt at McKinley and, once he arrives there, he sees Rachel talking animatedly to a tall boy with curly hair and all dressed in black. He parks his car and takes his time watching the two of them – the boy seems immersed in the conversation, nodding every now and then to what Rachel says, but with an open adoration in his eyes that warms Blaine's heart. Rachel, for once, is smiling genuinely – and her hand being firmly encased in the boy's tells him that, apparently, over the weekend, Jesse St. James and Rachel Berry got back together. Blaine sees Kurt approach him, shock written in his face, and go to the couple, but Blaine holds him back by the sleeve of his coat.

"Is that Rachel…?" He asks, perplexity in his voice, his eyes glued at the young couple now kissing passionately in the middle of the parking lot. Kurt glances desperately at Blaine, who shakes his head at him and tugs him away.

"Don't, Kurt. Leave them be", he says softly, and he tugs harder when Kurt stays back to watch Rachel and Jesse for a moment. "Let's go inside. I need to talk with the rest of your glee club". He lets go of Kurt's sleeve when the other boy follows him reluctantly.

Mr. Schue smiles pleasantly at Blaine once he sees the other boy. "Blaine, nice to see you again. Came to watch the practice?"

Blaine smiles politely and nods. "Yes, Mr. Schuester, but I'd like to address the glee members first?" He looks around and sees everyone is there, except for Rachel, that is. Perfect, he thinks, and hangs back next to the piano while Kurt, still shocked, goes sit next to Mercedes and Quinn on the risers.

Mr. Schue looks surprised for a moment and then nods, looking around. "Of course, but, uh, you'll need to wait for Rachel, she's running a little late today".

"Actually, I think it's in everyone's best interest if Rachel is kept on the dark about this", Blaine says calmly, and goes to close the door. Now everyone is looking confused and curious at him, and he watches all of them for a moment before stating clearly, "Rachel got back together with Jesse St. James".

There's a beat of silence, and then a torrent of reactions. Brittany, Santana and Tina are grinning, relief clearly etched on their faces. Mike, Artie and Puck have an air of satisfaction around them, leaning back in their seats with a smile. Mercedes is gaping, obviously shocked. Quinn is stunned. Finn's mouth is opening and closing, like he's trying to say something but nothing comes out. Then a dark shadow falls over his face, and he rises from his chair, but Blaine steps in front of him. "Sit down", he says authoritatively, voice firm and without room for argument. "I'm not done talking yet".

Finn looks torn between staying and ignoring Blaine, so Puck rolls his eyes and forces him down on his chair. Blaine nods and turns back to the other teens. "Rachel and Jesse are dating again, and if any of you wants to win anything, then you'll acknowledge that he makes her a better person and leave her alone with her choices and decisions. She lost him once and I doubt she'll allow herself – or any of you – to push him out of her life again. She's making her choice again – if you support or not, it doesn't matter to her".

"He broke her heart!" Finn yells, and Blaine narrows his eyes at him, but Santana beats him to it.

"Oh, shut up, Finn-becile. Like you didn't do the same time and time and time again?" She sneers angrily, and Finn shuts up. Mr. Schue, Blaine notices, looks satisfied.

"Guys, look – Jesse is no longer in Vocal Adrenaline. If Rachel can look past all his mistakes to forgive him, why can't you do the same? What did Jesse do to you that were more serious than what he did to Rachel?" The Spanish teacher says firmly, and Blaine nods in agreement before taking his seat next to Kurt. Everyone seems ashamed or thoughtful, but then the door creaks open and an obviously nervous Rachel walks in, afraid but defiant with Jesse's hand in hers.

"I apologize for my tardiness, Mr. Schue. It won't happen again", she says in clipped tones. Jesse's free hand comes to rest on the small of her back – Rachel relaxes instantly at his touch, and his hand squeezes hers softly. She looks at him, and Blaine notices they have an entire conversation with just this look – this brief meeting of brown pools with blue eyes conveys a multitude of feelings and words that not even Rachel's dictionary-worthy vocabulary can express. Blaine understands now what Rachel meant when she said she tried with Finn, and failed – really, when you find the one, how can anyone else compare?

So he decides that the relationship of Rachel Berry with Jesse St. James is a cause he is going to champion.