Author's Note: If there is one thing I love about St. Berry in 'Funk', it's that unreadable look between Jesse and Rachel after 'Another One Bites The Dust' and how reluctant and uncertain Jesse was of his role in Rachel's egging until Rachel herself urged him on. So… This is born from a talk between my friend (and fellow St. Berry lover) Queen – NoahPuckermanWifey – about our favorite subject: the whole dynamics of Jesse and Rachel's relationship.
Okay, so this ended up being longer than I thought it would be. And I ended it where I think it felt fitting. I may consider adding an epilogue sometime later, but not now.
Summary: A little twist to 'Funk'. Rachel knows all about the egging.
Timeline: Starts after 'Theatricality'. There are mentions to 'Hell-O', with heavy spoilers to 'Funk' and 'Journey'. Alternate season two, because it'd be awesome if Jesse were still around.
Disclaimer: *rolls eyes angrily, sighing* I wish. I still haven't gotten married to/been adopted by Ryan Murphy.
there's nothing you can do to make me turn away from you
She's wrapped in his arms, exhausted after crying her eyes out in the aftermath of Shelby's brutal dismissal of their fledging relationship; his hands are softly rubbing her back and he's humming softly – she recognizes a Gavin DeGraw song, 'More Than Anyone', one of her non-Broadway favorites – with his cheek resting against her hair and hers over his wet shirt. "You better now?" Jesse asks quietly, and she sniffles nodding uncertainly. He squeezes her a little tighter, kissing her forehead. "It'll be okay", he whispers, and she sighs, settling against him.
They're silent for a long moment and he says softly, "Shelby called me earlier. She wants me back at Carmel – says there's no need for me to stay at McKinley now that everything between you two is out in the open and, according to her, 'pleasantly and satisfyingly resolved'". She detects the hint of anger and bitterness in his voice and sits straighter, fingers laced with his, a small, understanding smile in her lips.
"You should go", she says softly, smiling slightly at his stunned look. "Jess, c'mon, baby, we both know Carmel is your best shot at having your victory lap. And what kind of girlfriend would I be if I selfishly prevented you from having it? Besides, it's not like you're having everything you deserve out from New Directions". She adds quietly, almost ashamed by the way their team mates – his now former team mates – have been treating him since he selflessly quit his position at Vocal Adrenaline to help her mother contact her.
Since his role in Rachel meeting Shelby came to light, everything has been cleared, talked out and sorted between them. He told her every single thing: their meeting at the music store and their impromptu duet had been a coincidence (a fortunate one, because, he admitted, he was dying to get to know her – "I don't share vocals with those who don't deserve it, Rachel, and you were the first woman to deserve the honor of singing with me in the last four years"), but apparently it came to Shelby's knowledge after a Finn-induced visit of Will Schuester to Carmel's auditorium (she is so going to slap Finn sillier because of this). His transference to McKinley had been architected by Shelby, but his feelings, he said (and she believed), were then and are now real. After their long conversation – which included his warning at Shelby that he loved ("I said I cared for you, but I really meant I loved you") Rachel and didn't want to see her hurt – Rachel decided to carry on with their relationship, something Jesse was thankful for.
"It's not your fault", he says equally quietly, caressing her knuckles lovingly. His eyes are dark and worried, and he sighs deeply before looking her in the eyes. "Baby, we're a week away from Regionals. And, since I know this is the first year in a long time that McKinley High's glee club is proving to be quite a hard competition, I have to warn you". She turns worried eyes at him and he takes a deep breath. "This time every year, Vocal Adrenaline picks up their toughest rival and 'funkify' them", he tells her quietly and, noticing her curious stare, he adds, "We do stuff to pull them down so they're nervous and insecure and don't give their best at competition".
She nods slowly, understanding. "And we're this year's target", she mumbles with a sigh. He nods and she's quiet for a moment, pondering what he's told her. "What are you guys going to pull?"
"A performance at the April Rhodes Theater. 'Another One Bites The Dust'. Queen is our Journey. I sound pretty sexy" He smirks, and she laughs. "Unfortunately Shelby chose Giselle to be my dancing partner. God, I hate the bitch", he mumbles, and Rachel giggles. "But that's not all, Rach. Hum…" He bites his lower lip nervously. "As we speak a bunch of VA members are at WMHS toilet-papering your choir room. And…" His eyes narrow in anger and he stands up, pacing nervously on her white carpet.
"What's wrong, Jesse?" She asks worriedly, eyes wide and concerned. She has never seen this agitated in the three months they've been together, not even when she called, hysterical after Shelby's little stunt, and it worries her because he's so cool, calm and collected.
"They know you're the heart of New Directions, Rachel – its one true star. They want to break you so you guys suck. Actually, they want me to break you, but I refuse to do it. I won't! You're as important to me – no, more important to me than a victory lap at Nationals. And, if we need to resort to this kind of pranks to win, then we don't deserve to win at all!" He's increasingly angry, so she gets up and puts her hands on his cheeks forcing him to look at her.
"Jesse. Talk to me", she orders softly, and he sighs before wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close. He breathes in her scent, and she rests her head on his chest, feeling his racing heart. "Tell me what they're going to do to me", she asks quietly, and she feels and hears his sigh and shudder.
"They'll… After our performance, they'll have me to call you and ask you to meet me at your school's parking lot. Once you're in close range, they'll… They'll egg you, Rachel", he whispers. "They know you're a vegan; they've been very thorough with their research on you because they know you're the one true weapon that New Directions has and they miss – a female lead with star power. So… They'll have me to crack the last egg on your head. But I don't want to, Rach! I won't!"
"No, you will", she says quietly, sighing at his once-again stunned face. "Baby, you stop worrying about me for a second, okay? Think this through: if you don't do exactly what they want you to do, they'll give you a hard time. They might even hurt you. God knows what my so-called mother might do in retaliation. I don't want anything to happen to you when you're where I can't be to keep an eye on you, Jess. We're together, no matter what. I love you, you know I do, and I know you love me".
"Rachel…" He sighs heavily. "… You're a vegan. I know you. We crack a carton of eggs on you and you'll have nightmares for months!" He argues, and she nods.
"I will. But it won't be as harmful because it won't surprise me". She sees the doubts in his eyes and looks straight into the pained stormy grey pools. "I'll be fine, Jesse. I promise you I will. But I won't be able to live with the regret if you protect me and end up being hurt or harmed in any way. Promise me you will go with their plan".
"Jess, I never broke a promise to you since you made me promise to keep no secrets from you. Every single thing I promised you, I made sure I came through. I'm asking now for the same thing – for my sake, because you know it'll be worse if they do it behind your back – promise me you will crack that egg in my head".
His eyes are pained and concerned as they hold hers – but hers are calm and resolute, and his heart swells with love for this woman, this young woman standing in front of him, in his arms. He knows she's right – there has been whispers of brutal funkifications (it's believed that the female lead from one of their sectionals' competitions was drugged and raped) for years now, and the only way to protect Rachel from the same fate is to go along with the flow. So, he nods, slowly, sighing heavily. "We need a password", he mumbles, and she frowns at him, so he elaborates. "A code sentence. You know I'm doing this only to protect you, babe, but I won't promise I'll do it with a light heart. You need to say something to goad me on".
"I'll come up with something when the time comes", she wraps her arms around him, and he hugs her back, tightly. "I know you don't want to do this, baby, but it's for the best. I promise".
They're proud of each other as they face off on the auditorium – she standing on the audience with Puck and Mercedes around, he onstage, surrounded by his Vocal Adrenaline team mates. The look of shocked sadness in her face is impressively convincing – and, when they're done with their number, he hangs back, aware of what's coming next and terrified of its consequences. He doesn't want to be a part of it, so he stares at her, begging her to let him off the hook. She sees it and more in his eyes, and she knows she can't do what they both need now – she can't rush into his arms and reassure him that this – what they're doing, this little scheme they've hurriedly put together just last night in her house to cheat Vocal Adrenaline and protect her, protect him, protect them – is right. So she looks at him with love and serenity, and he walks away, his heavy heart clear for everyone to see in his eyes.
She learns of Noah and Finn's plan to fight back and panics. So she rushes into the nearest empty bathroom and pulls her phone out, dialing his number frantically. Once he answers, she fires. "Don't say anything. Do not identify me in anyway. Just listen. Noah and Finn will sneak in Carmel tonight to slash Vocal Adrenaline's Range Rovers' tires. You need to warn someone of it – this is getting out of control!" She paces at the small room and sighs. "Everything is right for tomorrow?" She asks quietly.
"Yes", he says impassively, but she can hear the bellowing voices of the other members of Vocal Adrenaline around, and she's silent for a minute. She can hear their excited screams and how they're babbling about her egging tomorrow, and it makes her sick to her stomach. "I'm scared", she whispers, leaning against the unused sink, and she hears his tiny sigh.
"Me too. Look… I have to go, okay? Later". He hangs up quickly and she rubs a hand against her eyes. She stares at her reflection for a moment, and then her cell phone vibrates and chirps in her hand. Smiling slightly at his name on her screen, she clicks on the message – and her smile widens.
Let me start by saying, 'I love you'. I do. So, so much. Always.
She has been walking alone the entire morning, anticipating his call – he texted her earlier this morning warning her that it will happen today, and asking if she was sure she wanted him to go along with their plan. She was quick to assure him that yes, she was, and now she waits. Her phone rings and she smiles slightly at seeing his name on her lit-up screen. "Meet me at the parking lot", he says when she answers, and she can detect the hint of nervousness in his voice. She wants to comfort him, to reassure him, but she knows he doesn't have the luxury of allowing Jesse to show up today. She closes her eyes and sighs and marches to the parking lot.
He's smiling and waving at her – so handsome and perfect and hers that for a moment she forgets why he's there, rushing to him. But then his smile vanishes replaced by a dark, pained look in his face, and she remembers. The first egg explodes against the back of her head, and she flinches. Others are thrown at her and she stands tall and strong, her eyes, gentle, reassuring, serene, glued at his. His blue pools are pained and ashamed and devastated, and Giselle, that awful excuse of human being, is smirking as she appears from behind a car.
"Heard you're a vegan, Berry", she teases mercilessly, but Rachel ignores her. Jesse notices this pisses Giselle off, so she presses on, "It sucks that these eggs were wasted on you". When Rachel doesn't even spare her a glance – he's so proud of her – Giselle gives up and turns to him. "Go ahead, Jesse, do it". She places an egg on his hand, cool and heavy on his palm, and he stares at it for a moment, slowly crossing the space between where he stands and Rachel is. His eyes are dark and panicked as they bore into hers. Baby, please, I can't! He begs desperately, silently, with his eyes, but hers are gentle and reassuring, not betraying a hint of the nervousness he knows she's feeling.
He halts to a stop when he is close to her. He can feel the warmth of her skin, smell the stench of eggs mixed with the sweet scent of her perfume. He can almost hear the rest of his teammates holding their breaths in anticipation behind his back, and he begs once again with his eyes at Rachel to let him go of this. Please, I don't want to see you hurt, I don't want to lose you, I love you!
But her eyes are gentle, reassuring, loving, despite the disgusting gooey mess running down her beautiful face. She sees his reluctance, his despair, his panic, and she clenches her hands into fists to refrain from reaching out and touching him in reassurance. With a tiny nod, she says, "Do it. Break it like you broke my heart". It's going to be fine, baby, we are going to be fine, I'm not hurt, I love you, she conveys with her eyes, and she sees his eyes lighting up with recognition.
The code sentence! "I loved you", he whispers, but his eyes are boring into hers, telling her the truth. I love you. It gives her peace of mind and strength to face it, and she takes the cracking of egg against her forehead as a trooper.
Jesse walks away from her, leaving her alone and dirty on the parking lot, the laughter of his teammates sounding like crowing on his ears. He jumps in his car, drives some miles… and breaks down in tears. They fall down his cheeks, hot and thick and unstoppable, and he cries for her, for himself, for their dreams and hopes and losses and love. He cries because he's terrified he just lost her, the one person that makes his life worth living – the one person who looked at Jesse St. James, the star, and saw Jesse, the boy underneath the mask, as someone worth loving.
Later that night, he sneaks into her bedroom and crawls on her bed, curling himself around her and crying softly into her hair. She hugs him back tightly. "Hey, baby…" She notices his tears and the red, puffy eyes, and panics. "Jesse, baby, are you okay? What happened? Why are you crying?" She cradles his face in her hands and straddles him, eyes scrutinizing each detail of his perfect, sticky face. "Are you hurt? Did they do something to you? Why are you crying, Jesse?" She demands frantic, and he sits up, holding her tightly.
"I'm sorry, say you forgive me, say you love me, I don't want to lose you, Rach…" He mumbles desperately, and her heart breaks as her eyes fill with tears, and she presses her lips to his on a long, heated kiss.
"I love you. You're not losing me. I promise, baby, stop crying…" She whispers, soothingly, tears burning down her cheeks as she gives her best to calm down her devastated boyfriend. "I love you, Jess. You know I do. You know I love you. What happened today won't change that. Nothing will. Okay?" She forces him to look at her, and he nods uncertainly. "Jesse. I love you". Despair slowly trickles into her heart, because, no, this can't be happening, he couldn't be doubting her now!
Jesse looks at her, incredulous and shocked. "Why?" He squeaks, hating himself for doubting himself, for doubting her, for doubting them. "Damn, Rachel, you had the perfect life, then I came and destroyed it!"
Her eyes widen with alarm and fury. "Are you kidding me? Tell me you're joking, Jesse. Please". When he faces her head on, she pushes him away and jumps out of the bed, pacing along the furniture back and forth. "Jesse. My life was miserable before you came along. I have told you: I was always the second choice. Finn and Noah both wanted Quinn, then Finn wanted his precious reputation instead of me. I had no real friends, no one understood me, no one got me. No one looked at me, the way you did. The way you do". She stops in front of him and cradles his face on her hands again. "No one has ever looked at me, the way you do. No one saw in me someone worth loving. They only saw the crazy talented diva in training with the miniskirts and the animal sweaters and the larger-than-life dreams".
He can't help it – he hauls her body closer to his and kisses her passionately, palms splayed open on the small of her back stroking the soft skin over the top of her skirt. His fingers slide under the soft fabric and Rachel moans and arches into him, pressing her torso against his and kneeling on the bed, her fingers tugging at his silky black curls. Their kiss gets hotter and more passionate, and Rachel takes the leap, tugging at the back of his black shirt and frantically pulling it off his body. "Rachel", he leans away from her, eyes searching and dark, "are… are you sure?"
She nods forcefully, moving so that she's kneeling on her mattress. She feels Jesse smiling against her lips and she reciprocates, feeling his hand tugging at her white shirt. "Rachel, we don't have to do anything", he whispers as he feels her shuddering against him.
"Jesse, shut up. Make love to me".
And he does.
The next morning finds Jesse watching Rachel, who is asleep, lying on her stomach, wrapped in a sheet. He can't believe that after everything – after Shelby, after 'Another One Bites The Dust', after the slashed tires, after the egging – she still gave her wholly to him, still shared with him that small part of her that he had still to touch – still gifted him with the one part no one had had before him. Suck that, Puckerman and Hudson, he thinks as he places a kiss on her naked shoulder, smiling against her skin as he feels her shift and hears her sleepy purr. "Good morning, baby", he whispers softly, fingers sinking in the silky raven tresses, and she turns on her side to smile at him, eyes still closed.
"Good morning. Did you sleep well?" Her arm comes to rest on the curve of his waist, her small fingers lightly caressing the skin on his back, and he shivers a bit before laying his head down on her pillow. Her breath catches at the volume of love she finds expressed in his eyes, and she leans in and places a soft kiss to his lips, a kiss he returns just as gently.
"Marry me", he whispers as they break apart for air, and she gasps, a stunned look appearing in her ever-expressive eyes, and he knows he's surprised himself, but then he softens. "I'm not asking you to marry me right now after I manage to somehow convince your fathers to not kill me for marrying their fifteen-year-old daughter after I slept with her". He chuckles and she swats at his nude chest giggling. Jesse pauses to gather his thoughts. "Marry me once we're both away from here. Away from everyone who doesn't want us together. Away from this city that is too small for the both of us. Marry me once we're where we belong – once we're the stars it's inevitable for us to be. Promise me one day you'll wear my ring and share my name and my life and my future with me, Rachel Berry. That's all I'm asking".
Tears are running down her cheeks now, soaking her pink fluffy pillowcase, but she's smiling, big and bright, and nodding fiercely, her lips connecting with his cheeks, nose, chin, eyes, forehead, before crashing against his. "Yes, yes, yes, I promise. Yes, I will. Yes, I do, of course I do", she whispers fervently, pressing her body to his, and his heart bursts with joy as their bodies react to each other.
But before they can carry on with getting intimately close with each other, again, Rachel's phone rings – Beyoncé's 'Single Ladies' – and she groans reaching out for the offending object, snapping, "What, Kurt? I'm busy!" She hears for a moment then presses her face against Jesse's shoulder, groaning angrily. "Still that whole funkification thing? What is Schue having us do now?" She's silent and then perks up, surprise coloring her face. "Really? 'Give Up The Funk'? Interesting song choice". She looks at Jesse and bites back the laughter at his shocked face. "Okay, okay, I'm in. What time?" She listens and then nods. "Half past four, at the auditorium. Okay. Okay. Talk to you later". She hangs up and bursts out laughing.
"You guys are trying to funkify us with a funk number?" Jesse asks, arching up an eyebrow, and Rachel nods, still giggling. He smirks and presses a hot kiss to her mouth, making her forget all about rivaling show choir, funkifications and funk numbers and focus only on him, and her, and them.
Forty-five minutes later, a refreshed and giggling Rachel walks in the April Rhodes Theatre, eyes sparkling with excitement. Everyone immediately files it as Rachel being excited for getting revenge on her traitor ex-boyfriend, but she notices Puck narrowing his eyes, and Santana smirking, so she busies herself with Kurt checking her costume for the performance. It's pretty simple, but sexy: tiny red-pink shorts, white tank top, a deep green jacket and brown cap. She smirks imagining Jesse's reaction to her in those clothes and to the sexy rotation of her hips while she'll be dancing with Matthew, and can't contain her laughter as they rehearse. Santana joins the laughter and so does Brittany, and the three girls talk excitedly after Mr. Schue calls it a night.
The blonde, the brunette and the Latina walk out of the auditorium, and that's when Santana makes her move. "So, Berry, you're looking pretty relaxed and happy for someone who just got heartbroken by her douchy boyfriend", she says casually, and Rachel smirks, looking around and making sure no intrusive ears are near them to hear what she'll about to say.
"I knew, okay? About the egging. About 'Another One Bites The Dust'. About the TP-ing of our choir room". She whispers, nodding at the stunned looks the two Cheerios wear. "I forced Jesse into going with it to protect me – to protect all of us girls".
"How could you?" Santana is seething with anger, but Rachel stands her ground, because Santana and Brittany and the other girls are new to the show choir circuit. She tells them exactly this and adds tales of Vocal Adrenaline's rumored drugging and rape of past choir's leading females. Brittany is tearful by the time she's done and Santana is deeply shaken.
"I took that egg to my head because it was the only way to protect all of us. And I'd do it again, and again, if I had to. Jesse loves me. He was terrified that he had broken us up. He crawled into my bed last night in tears because of it". She sighs and turns pleading eyes at the two Cheerios. "Please don't tell anyone. I'm telling you this because you guys figured it out. We don't need the drama so close to Regionals – we can't afford it. Once it's blown over, Jesse and I will come clean and tell everyone we're still together".
Santana wraps an arm around her shoulder and squeezes it softly, eyes shining with the words she doesn't have the courage to say. Brittany launches herself at Rachel, whispering words of thanks, and Rachel gently pats her shoulder, a wide smile curving her lips as she recognizes the big black Range Rover looming in the distance. Santana recognizes it too and smirks playfully, taking Brittany from Rachel's arms and allowing her to go to the waiting car.
Rachel smiles and nods in goodbye, and she ponders that maybe this is the start of a new phase for her and the two Cheerios.
She refuses to show Jesse the routine for 'Give Up The Funk' ("A girl must have her mystery, Jesse!") but assures him it's not something he won't like. So, that Friday at 3 p.m. he sits at the April Rhodes Theatre's front row, that awful Giselle by his side, and she nearly bursts out laughing at the shock in his face when she appears onstage wearing the tiniest pair of red-pink shorts Kurt could find, a white tank top, moss green jacket and a cap. She gives a whole speech on the reason why they decided to fight back (and she sees the pride in his eyes, even though his face is carefully blank) and walks behind the panel to stand with her teammates. Kurt walks out singing and soon they all follow.
Her eyes never leave his when she's dancing, sensuously rotating her hips to the beat as Matthew kneels in front of her, a flirty little smirk curling her lips as she struts down the impromptu runway with Noah street dancing behind her (and certainly trying to look up her shorts). They all finish their number and they break apart, Noah calling out "See you funks in regionals!" before walking backstage. She hugs and squeals with Brit and San and the two Cheerios wait with the tiny brunette until their teammates are gone before making their teasing comments.
"So, I noticed there was a certain male lead that couldn't take his eyes off you, B", Santana says with a smirk, and Brittany giggles while Rachel smiles, blushing prettily.
"Can you blame me?" The male voice makes Rachel smile and turn on her heels, jumping on her boyfriend's waiting arms. "You were awesome. And you're so replaying that hip rotation for me later tonight", he whispers as he kisses her, his forehead pressed against hers. She smiles and Brittany awws looping an arm around Santana's waist, pressing her cheek to the Latina's shoulder as the two girls watch with a fond smile the couple immersing in their world, talking quietly with each other. Jesse pecks Rachel's lips and then drops her to her feet, intertwining her fingers with his as they walk away, Rachel waving back to her new friends.
Then Regionals arrive, and it gets hard for Jesse and Rachel to hide the fact that they're still together. Shelby implements mandatory practices every waking free moment of the day, and Schue decides New Directions is doing a Journey-based set list (Jesse isn't pleased that Rachel is dueting with Hudson in 'Faithfully', but Rachel points out that she hated seeing Giselle rubbing herself all up against him in 'Another One Bites The Dust'). They text back and forth and Hiram and Leroy get used to having Jesse over for the night after he is let out from his rehearsal. Santana and Brittany prove to be great covers for when she receives texts from Jesse – since either one of them is always texting away with someone, it quickly becomes the pattern to both claim they're texting Rachel during rehearsal.
They're the second show choir to perform, Vocal Adrenaline closing out the night. She and Finn are waiting for their cue to enter the auditorium and she turns to him with a smile. "Break a leg", she says cheerfully, and what he replies with shocks her into stunned silence.
"I love you".
A year ago – hell, even a little over three months ago she would die of happiness from hearing these words from his lips. But not now. Now she has Jesse. Now she truly knows what love is. And Finn doesn't love her, never did. She smiles awkwardly and he steps out into the auditorium. She knows she has seconds until she has her cue, but then Jesse appears, looking around quickly before pressing a kiss to her lips.
"I love you, break a leg", he whispers, and she smiles.
"Love you too, sorry you had to hear that", she says hurriedly and he shrugs.
"We'll discuss it later, it's your cue, go".
She sings about loving a music man, and somehow her eyes spot Jesse standing in the shadows behind Finn, and she allows her eyes to express that in her mind it's his voice joining hers, providing the perfect harmony to her dulcet tones. He's smiling softly, pride radiating off of him as she walks slowly from the aisle to the stage. She loses him during her walk but then as they switch from 'Faithfully' to their mash-up she finds him again standing in the wings, already dressed for his performance (she bites back a laugh at the bright pink shirt and the black trousers. He looks adorable and it surprises her that not even this silly ensemble makes him look less appealing). Then they turn to their trademark song, 'Don't Stop Believing', and the crowd's reaction empowers her. She thinks they have this.
(But she'll be happy anyway, because if Jesse wins, she wins too).
Then Quinn's water breaks and they all rush to the hospital, but she stays behind. She watches as he nails 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and she knows, after his show choir is done, that they won't win.
She's proven right later that same evening but it doesn't hurt her as much as she lets people believe. She and Jesse celebrate his win together (he apologizes profusely but she is quick to shush him – it's not his fault the rest of her teammates doesn't have the same drive and ambition she does). Sure, it hurts that she won't have glee come next year, but she has him. And as long as he is by her side, then everything is perfect in her world.