No, I'm not dead! But I am finishing prac TODAY! So this is belated, but for my lovely friend Kelly (Sassy26)'s birthday!

Don't own.

Kurt could hear quiet sobs echo up the hallway before Rachel had even opened the front door. It swung open with a creak.

"Why'd you do it babe?" Kurt asked gently, holding out a 2 litre tub of pine lime sorbet. Rachel hiccupped.

"Go away Kurt." She rasped, voice husky from tears. She shut the door in his face. Kurt sighed and rang the doorbell again. Rachel opened the door with a scowl.

"Don't think I won't keep ringing your doorbell until you let me in." Kurt warned her as she went to shut the door again. Rachel snatched the sorbet from him and stomped down the hallway. Given that the hardwood door wasn't slammed in his face again, Kurt assumed it was the only invitation into the house he was going to get. He found Rachel sprawled on the couch under a Little Mermaid comforter, attacking the sorbet viciously with a spoon. Beaches was playing softly in the background. Kurt frowned. The only time he'd seen Rachel more upset was when she thought her voice was gone for good.

"Oh, honey." Kurt murmured sympathetically. Rachel looked up at him pathetically and swallowed her mouthful of sugary ice.

"I'm the worst person in the world." She commiserated. Kurt sat down next to her, artfully avoiding the used tissues scattered around the room.

"I wouldn't say you're the worst person in the world. I mean, you're not personally responsible for fat girls wearing tights as pants." Kurt reassured her. Rachel let out a small giggle. Kurt swiped the tub off her and took a spoonful.

"I suppose Finn's already made it clear what a harlot I am?" Rachel asked. Kurt pondered the question.

"He told me you kissed Puck." He answered truthfully. Rachel nodded and burst into a fresh wave of tears. Kurt slung his arm around her and let her sob quietly into his shoulder, relieved that he'd changed out of his Alexander McQueen vest and into the not designer but none the less classic black sweater Carole had bought him.

"I wanted to hurt him as badly as he hurt me." Rachel mumbled. Kurt stroked her hair.

"I understand that." He said quietly.

"He lied to me." Rachel sighed.

"He had the opportunity to tell me the truth, and he wussed out." Rachel continued. Kurt was too well versed in Berryrant to interrupt her, but he privately agreed with her. His step-brother was a giant doofas.

"You're not mad that he did it, are you?" Kurt asked. Rachel shook her head.

"No!" She replied.

"I would have preferred that it wasn't Santana, because now I'm scared of what I could have been passed from her to me through him; but he had every right to do what he wanted to when we weren't together." Rachel admitted.

"Then why are you so upset?" Kurt asked. Rachel sighed.

"Because when I kissed Noah it was the first time I've felt anything since Jesse." Rachel wailed. This brought on a new flood of tears. Kurt patted her back. He shouldn't have been surprised by this. Rachel Berry did nothing half ass, including crying.

"You're going to have to explain this one to me a little more." Kurt said. Rachel sat up. She wiped her face clean of tears and blew her nose. Kurt handed over the sorbet.

"I've wanted Finn since forever." Rachel started.

"Well, at least, that's what I thought I wanted." She continued.

"You know when you were a kid, and you waited and waited for your birthday to come, so you could finally tear the wrapping off the big present in your living room?" Rachel asked. Kurt nodded.

"You finally get your Barbie Fold'N Funhouse, but it isn't until you tear off the paper and open the box that you realise that you need an engineering degree to put the thing together, and really, Barbie is far too big to fit into the house." Rachel explained. Kurt frowned.

"I'm not sure I follow the metaphor here…" Kurt said hesitantly.

"Before I had Finn, he was like the wrapped present. Now that I've pulled off the ribbon and opened all the packaging, I realise that the wait was far more fun than the reality." Rachel clarified.

"I've wanted Finn for so long that I felt like I had to push and push to make sure that everything worked. I was in that relationship; and I had to push, and push myself to be there. It was like I had to force myself to be in love." Rachel said.

"I was supposed to want Finn. He was supposed to want me. All he did was made me feel bad about being me. I was never pretty enough, I was too demanding, I didn't do enough to support him." Rachel ranted.

"So then why is breaking up bad?" Kurt asked. Rachel froze.

"Because I was supposed to want it. Now I'm no better than Quinn." Rachel said.

"Well, you did a good job of hurting him like he hurt you." Kurt said. Rachel frowned.

"But he did an awesome job at treating his girlfriend like crap. Honesty time?" Kurt asked. Rachel nodded.

"I don't recognise you when you're with Finn. You become this shadow of the girl who owns Glee club, and you turned into this neurotic girl whose sole life goal is to make sure she's shoving herself into the mould of loving girlfriend. You are not that girl Rachel. If you can't be yourself when you're with Finn, then you shouldn't be with him at all." Kurt said.

"And I'm not just saying that because I used to have a crush on Finn." Kurt added. Rachel gave him a rueful grin.

"Now get in the shower. We're going to use this as an excuse to get dolled up and eat deliciously fattening food." Kurt said. He gave Rachel a pat on the butt as he sent her upstairs, before stashing the sorbet in the freezer, and marching up into her room to go through her wardrobe.

"You know, you have fantastic raw materials in here." Kurt said to her, as Rachel re-entered the room, dripping wet with a towel on her head.

"What do you mean?" Rachel asked. She stepped behind her changing screen to throw on her bathrobe.

"You don't need total clothing rehab. You just need to co-ordinate better." Kurt said. He held up a pink plaid skirt.

"What would you wear this with?" he asked. Rachel bit her lip. She flipped through her closet before pulling out a pale pink button down. Kurt cringed.

"That would make you look like walking cotton candy." He said. He pulled out a simple white off the shoulder knit.

"Think more like this. I know you're larger than life, but when it comes to fashion, less is often more." Kurt said. Rachel raised an eyebrow at him.

"And yes, I know I need to take my own advice more often." Kurt replied. He put the pink skirt back into her wardrobe.

"Try again." He encouraged her.

"I'm not trying to do wardrobe overhaul here Rach. You've got good enough instincts to get good quality stuff that's actually kinda cute, but then you pair them together like a five year old with a Bratz doll." Kurt said. Rachel flipped through her wardrobe with a smile.

"Table for two please." Rachel requested politely. She and Kurt had decided to get their Stix on after a brief pitstop at his place for him to redress into a not cried on outfit. Rachel grit her teeth and linked arms with Kurt as they walked past the table where Karofsky and a few other morons sat throwing garlic bread at each other.

"Fag alert!" Azimio called out. Rachel rolled her eyes. Upon taking in the table in more detail, she noticed her ex-boyfriend and a skanky Latino cheerleader joined by the lips. Finn pulled away.

"Come on man, that's my brother you're talking about." Finn said weakly. Santana gave Rachel an evil look and pulled Finn's face back to hers. Rachel rolled her eyes.

"C'mon Kurt." She said quietly, following the waiter to their table.

"Are you sure you don't wanna leave?" Kurt asked. Rachel looked over at the table, as the hockey boys had a competition to see who could chug a jug of soda the fastest.

"I'm fine if you are." Rachel replied. She pulled off her coat to reveal the olive green dress that highlighted her tiny waist.

"I have to tell you something." Kurt said after they placed their orders. He gestured for Rachel to lean in.

"Karofsky kissed me." He whispered. Rachel's jaw dropped.

"I KNEW his homophobia was more than just ignorance!" Rachel gasped.

"You have to swear you won't tell anyone. He threatened to kill me if I told anybody, and that's why I had to leave McKinley." Kurt explained.

"Your secret is safe with me." Rachel replied.

After a weekend of Gossip Girl and eating their weight in spaghetti (the only thing Kurt can cook), Rachel returned to McKinley High. She readjusted the Wicked and West Side Story pictures in her locker with a smile. Today was good. She only had room in her life for positive outcomes. After fixing her lip gloss she headed to Glee rehearsal. She sighed when a giant shadow stepped in front of her.

"I hope that wasn't awkward for you on Friday night." Finn said. Letting go of positive outcomes, Rachel looked up at Finn, barely restraining a snarl.

"What do you care? From what I could see, you were far too busy exchanging saliva with Santana to care about anything, except maybe the mailman. Boy do you move on fast." Rachel snapped.

"C'mon Rachel, don't be like this. I still care about you…" Finn trailed off.

"Don't be like what? Bitter? Disgusted at how quickly you could move on? Don't kid yourself Finn, you just care about getting your itches scratched." Rachel growled. She neatly side stepped him and walked into the choir room. She sat down quietly and pulled out her cellphone.

"Maybe I'm not as calm and accepting about our breakup as I first thought. Finn just wanted to make sure I was ok after Friday night. There was a small tongue lashing. How's Dalton?" a reply buzzed to her phone in a few minutes.

"Dalton is Dalton. Nothing ever happens. Missing you guys. Wish I was there to see Finn's face. Chin up bb." Rachel locked her phone and slipped it into her bag as Mr. Schue walked into the classroom.

"Here we go guys. Next assignment is raw emotion. I don't care what it is, but I just want you to convince the audience that you're feeling a passionate feeling. I want you to shake us to the core with your music. Make us angry, make us sad. Just make us feel." Mr. Schue said. Rachel nearly scoffed aloud when she saw Santana and Finn manage to still be all over each other in rehearsal. She put her hand up.

"I'm more than ready Mr. Schuester." Rachel said politely. She stood up and walked over to the band. She had a few whispered words before accepting the microphone. She was glad that she could just throw herself in and do this before she had time to think. She placed the microphone on the stand.

I want you to know, that I'm happy for you
I wish nothing but the best for you both
An older version of me
Is she perverted like me
Would she go down on you in a theatre
Does she speak eloquently
And would she have your baby
I'm sure she'd make a really excellent mother

Rachel ignored the glare she got from Quinn, and pulled the mike off the stand.

'cause the love that you gave that we made wasn't able
To make it enough for you to be open wide, no
And every time you speak her name
Does she know how you told me you'd hold me
Until you died, till you died
But you're still alive

And I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

Rachel couldn't clearly read the expression on Mr. Schue's face, but he didn't look happy. She didn't care. She couldn't back down now.

You seem very well, things look peaceful
I'm not quite as well, I thought you should know
Did you forget about me Mr. Duplicity
I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner
It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced
Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?

Rachel didn't react to the gasps that echoed around the room when she dropped the f-bomb. She was a professional, damnit, and she wouldn't drop the face she was putting forward for a million dollars.

'cause the love that you gave that we made wasn't able
To make it enough for you to be open wide, no
And every time you speak her name
Does she know how you told me you'd hold me
Until you died, til you died
But you're still alive

And I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

'cause the joke that you laid on the bed that was me
And I'm not gonna fade
As soon as you close your eyes and you know it
And every time I scratch my nails down someone else's back
I hope you feel it...well can you feel it

Well, I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

Rachel relished in the shocked applause.

"Rachel, come and see me in my office, now." Mr. Schuester said. Rachel picked up her backpack and followed him, the oooohs of her teammates echoing in her ears.

Rachel listened to Schuester bluster on about appropriate behaviour for ten minutes. Eventually, she'd had enough.

"Mr. Schuester, could you please tell me the nature of your issue with me?" Rachel cut in.

"What are you talking about Rachel? The only thing I have an issue here is your inappropriate behaviour." Schue said.

"Oh really?" Rachel drawled.

"What is that supposed to mean? I've always treated all of you equally." Mr. Schue said. Rachel let out a mirthless laugh at that.

"Oh, please stop kidding yourself sir. You do not treat any of us equally, least of all me." Rachel snapped.

"Do you have an example of when I've apparently treated you unfairly?" Mr. Schuester asked.

"How about when you berate me in front of the entire glee club?" Rachel asked.

"You abused me in front of my peers because I wanted to sing a solo at Sectionals, but Quinn can threaten the entire programme and she gets a pat on the back and an 'oh you poor little pregnant darling' for yet again humiliating me in front of the entire school! What about that Mr. Schue?" Rachel asked. Schue went to interrupt her, but Rachel was on a roll.

"I am the best that you have Mr. Schue. You had to coach Quinn and Santana until you were blue in the face in order to scrape a tie at Sectionals, but when I belted one of the greatest classics in musical theatre history with less than forty minutes notice that it was needed, we won. You promised that this year's sectionals would be all about the underdogs, and then you proceed to highlight the football players and cheerleaders." Rachel added. She froze.

"That's it! We've met Bryan Ryan and April Rhodes. You never got to be the star of your Glee club, so you're taking out your high school misery on me. That's hardly professional behaviour Mr. Schuester. You have Finn, who is essentially you on training wheels, and then you have all your other little favourites. And then there's me, talented, self assured and not afraid of showing it and you can't stand that. This has nothing to do with the fact that I sang an Alanis Morrisette song that pushed the limits of your challenge a little bit; this has to do with the fact that I knocked your assignment out of the park." Rachel said. She picked up her book bag and marched out of the room.

Rachel was sending off a text to Kurt about meeting for coffee when another tall figure stepped into her peripheral vision.

"Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?" Puck asked teasingly. Rachel looked up at him.

"Is there something you wanted?" She asked him snappily.

"I'm just being nice to a fellow Jew." Puck said.

"Oh yes?" Rachel asked.

"Sure." Puck drawled.

"S'hot hearing you swear, Berry." He commented, leaning over the hood of his car.

"Thank you, I think." Rachel said. She read the text she got from Kurt, who asked to defer coffee until tomorrow because of a history paper. Rachel opened the back door of her car to put her bag neatly on the backseat.

"You're not heading straight home to do your homework, Berry." Puck said roughly. Rachel looked up at him.

"I'm not?" she asked. He shook his head.

"Hell no. We're going to be bad Jews and eat milk and meat together." He said. She raised an eyebrow at him.

"Pizza, Berry. Pizza. You've had a shit day, and I said I'd be nicer to you. Let's go." He said. Rachel pondered. Nothing felt difficult around Puck. He made her feel normal.

"I'm driving." She decided, opening the driver's door and climbing in.

Happy birthday Kel!