Title: Rachel Berry vs. The World

Author: animatedbrowneyes

Pairings: Rachel/Quinn, Mike/Tina, Santana/Brittany, mentions of Quinn/others

Setting: Mid-season two, with Rachel and Finn broken up, and Quinn and Sam also are no longer an item. Spoilers from anything aired, I suppose.

Disclaimer: Don't own Glee, unfortunately, nor do I own Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Last (very long, by the way) chapter! Might turn out a little predictably—I guess I'm not very good with surprises. I hope it's satisfactory, in any case.

It's been a great time writing this fic, and I'm glad all of you enjoyed it.

If you wouldn't mind, I'd love for you all to look out for more of my Faberry stories—I've got quite a few lined up. Thanks!

"Let's begin," Jacob Ben Israel declared, camera hovering beside the table—handled by an AV geek—and held his microphone to his mouth. "Hello, McKinley High! I'm Jacob Ben Israel, your blogger extraordinaire/reporter, and welcome to an exclusive interview with our favorite superstar and future Broadway ingenue, Rachel Barbara Berry."

"It's Barbra," Rachel corrected irritably. "As in Barbra Streisand. She removed the 'A' because—"

"Let's not focus on silly formalities and get back to the story," Jacob interrupted impatiently. "Now, as everyone who's anyone knows, you're currently in the most dangerous battle of your life against our Head Cheerio's League of Evil Exes. Did you ever dream of something like this happening when you started dating Quinn Fabray?"

"No," Rachel answered, shaking her head, but managed a smile. "Of course, dating Quinn is a lovely experien—"

"How do you feel about the constant pressure to succeed and the possibility of failure?" Jacob queried.

"I've always worked terrifically under pressure," Rachel replied smoothly. "I've been coping as calmly as I can, with a lot of assistance from my fellow diva, Kurt Hummel."

"And yet, the Seventh Evil Ex remains anonymous," Jacob mused, glancing conspiratorially to the camera. "Your efforts to unravel the mystery so far have been...fruitless."

"For the moment," Rachel huffed, offended, crossing her arms. "I intend to discover their identity soon and prepare myself accordingly."

"Does it bother you that Quinn hooked up with her two best friends before you, along with your own ex, Finn Hudson?"

"No, I—"

"How do you feel about the possibility that Quinn could choose one of her exes over you?" Jacob asked. "In essence, you'd become the Eighth Evil Ex."

"It'd be her decision, and of course I'd—"

"What if the Seventh Ex is too difficult a foe to face?"

"Wait a second, I—"

"What exactly will happen when you're finally defeated? Will you be on the market again? Will you try to date Quinn illegally, risking more attacks from the League?"

Kurt and Blaine, sitting silently on the other side of the room, noticeably winced, anticipating the worst reaction. Rachel's eyes narrowed.

"What do you mean, when?" The brunette barked out dangerously, as Jacob blanched. The cameraman retreated slightly, but kept the shot going. Business was business.

"Well, both of my conferences with my bookie and the general, nearly unanimous consensus of the school, excluding Kurt Hummel, Blaine Anderson, Quinn Fabray, Tina Cohen-Chang, Mike Chang, Mercedes Jones, Azimio Adams, and Strando, points out that you're the underdog and definite loser when you encounter the final Evil Ex."

Rachel scowled and beckoned the nervous cameraman closer, who complied warily.

"I've decided to make my own special, personal announcement to everyone in McKinley High who doubts me and my determination for victory."

"Excuse me, the interview—"

"The interview can wait, Jacob," Rachel snapped. "I'm sure to have hundreds more when I'm a successful star and eventual EGOT winner, so be quiet, for once."

She plastered a fake smile on her lips, and Kurt sighed. So much for the soothing exercises he'd suggested. Rachel was apparently past behaving calmly and rationally.

"My campaign to continue my relationship with Quinn is none of anyone's business, except for the perverts who loiter on my street," Rachel informed the camera, sparing a withering glare on a cowering Jacob. "I will not be hindered by immaturity and jealousy, because both Quinn and I are happy and lucky, unlike most of the population of less talented students. The altercation between the Seventh Evil Ex and I will not be tampered with, for so help me, I can contact the ACLU and sue anyone who interferes."

Rachel paused, letting Jacob compose himself.

"Well, let's move on, shall we? How do you feel about the—"

"Interview's over, JewFro," Quinn interrupted, stepping on the cameraman's foot, making him to shut off the device. The blonde sauntered to a fearful Jacob, who gulped.

"Leave Rachel alone," the cheerleader commanded, as the boy became more terrified by the minute. "Or I'll have you slushied twice a day by every sports team, thrown in dumpsters in the mornings and locked inside, and lastly, have my amazing girlfriend tell me all of the secrets and embarrassing moments she knows of you at the Temple."

"She wouldn't," Jacob squeaked. "Jews have to stick together, right?"

"Quit stealing my catchphrase," Puck growled, lingering in the classroom doorway. "And no, us hot Jews stick together. Not beady-eyed, little trolly freaks like you."

"This is harassment," Jacob protested.

"This is ridiculous," Kurt remarked irritably. "Get out, Jacob. Just so you know, Blaine doesn't just like football—he likes mixed martial arts, too."

Blaine, catching on quickly, sneered and pointedly flexed his arms, while Puck copied the gesture, leering. Rachel and Quinn exchanged barely stoic looks, close to laughter.

Jacob stumbled when Quinn released his collar, and straightened his sweater, trying awkwardly to regain his dignity. "...now, if you'll excuse me, I have a blog to write—"

"And facts to fabricate," Rachel added bitingly, sending him a glower. Jacob promptly retreated, nearly sprinting out of the classroom, followed by his silent accomplice.

"Well, that was fun," Quinn grinned, giving Rachel a kiss. "By the way, Blaine, you looked—"

"Quite menacing," Rachel interjected, beaming. Quinn giggled in agreement.

"Pretty badass, for a ex-Sparrow or whatever," Puck nodded approvingly. "Good job."

"Absolutely handsome," Kurt concluded delightedly, looking ecstatic. "I loved it."

Blaine blushed.

"Noah, are you on my support team now?" Rachel asked, raising an eyebrow. "I thought you were loyal to the League."

"Pulling a Benedict Arnold," Puck shrugged. "Did my test, lost, whatever. Besides, I'd rather be on a team with my Baby Mama and my Hot Little Jewish American Princess."

"Thank you, Noah," Rachel beamed, while Quinn rolled her eyes, trying not to smile, and Kurt snickered. "That's very sweet of you."

"Anything for you, Rach," Puck winked. "Anything."

"And he's back," Quinn commented dryly. "Never fails."

"We need a team name," Blaine offered suddenly, still red in the face. "All of us on Rachel's side, anyway. Something to be distinguished from everyone else."

"Team Sexy," Puck declared proudly, promptly showing off the guns. "How 'bout it? I'll be the leader, obviously."

"Team Sexy," Quinn agreed. "Nice."

"I like it," Blaine grinned.

"Vote's three to two, Rachel," Kurt sighed. "We won't get input with these morons."

"I don't mind!" Rachel chirped. "I'm perfectly okay with being on a team calling me desirable. Except, I'll be the leader, Noah. I am the one fighting the Evil Exes, after all."

"I'm alone in a roomful of idiots," Kurt grumbled. "The name is just plain silly."

"The name is 'Sexy'," Puck insisted stubbornly. "Why d'you think both of them hooked up with me in the first place?"

"Why aren't you guys paying attention?"

Blaine, Kurt, Quinn, Rachel, and Puck looked up from their whispering huddle, and Mr. Schue sighed.

"What are you doing?"

"Planning schematics," Rachel answered shortly. "I need to be ready."

"But we need to—"

"Mr. Schuester, I'm not sure if I've made this perfectly clear. I'm in the final of the fight of my life and I cannot participate during glee at the moment. Perhaps later."

Mr. Schue looked to the rest of the group for help, but they simply shrugged and pointed unanimously to Quinn.

"What?" The blonde demanded.

"Would you mind joining in our discussion and somehow convincing Rachel to do the same?"

"Sorry, Mr. Schue. If I had to pick between discussing a competition or a lesson or whatever and helping Rachel, I'm always helping Rachel first," Quinn replied dismissively.

"Me too," Kurt seconded. Blaine nodded, and Puck narrowed his eyes, as if to agree.

Rachel flounced haughtily out of the room, nose in the air, followed obediently by her team, and Santana rolled her eyes.


"You're just mad I told Quinn who told Rachel about your secret spot," Brittany pouted.

"Things like that are supposed to be kept secret, Britt."

"Yeah, Santana would've won if Rachel didn't know," Finn added, looking sullen. "Then any of us could've gone for Quinn without any problems."

"Um, hello?" Mike interjected, indicating his interlocked right hand in Tina's left. "I wouldn't be going for Quinn. I have Tina, remember?"

"Good—less of a chance to lose," Finn nodded presumptuously. "I'd only be against—"

"Regardless," Mr. Schue cut in testily, "I need to know how long this League operation is going to continue. I can't have my students walking out like this."

"We don't know," Sam answered, shrugging. "It's up to the last Ex, and we aren't allowed to say anything. We signed a pledge contract thingy or something."

"Evil Ex," Mercedes corrected.

"So no one knows?" Mr. Schue questioned, looking pointedly at Santana, who glared.

"Don't even think of asking me. I'm still recovering. I had to lie to my mother and say I walked into a door, fell down the stairs, and off the pyramid before she bought it."

"And you're still mad about your special spot," Brittany nodded, unsurprised. Santana sighed.

"All I'll say about it is a good luck to Berry. She's definitely going to need it."

The next day, Rachel met Blaine in the lunchroom, both casting suspicious glances around the room, just in case.

"Have any intel?" She murmured to him, and Blaine shook his head regretfully. Kurt, Quinn, and Puck were in the lunch line, while Blaine and Rachel sat at the table.

"Kurt and I skipped classes all day just to observe students in the hallway, but no good," the ex-Warbler answered. "I'm sorry, Rachel."

"That's perfectly fine, Blaine. You did your best, if not better."

"How are you doing?"

"Trying not to panic," Rachel admitted. "I honestly have no idea who it'll be or when. It's nerve-wracking."

Blaine took her hand and squeezed it, smiling. "You'll do it. Kurt, Quinn, Puck, and I all believe in you."

"Hey, Anderson," Quinn joked as she was sitting down. "Stealing my girl?"

"Pawing off my boyfriend, Rachel?" Kurt asked, grinning. Blaine and Rachel laughed.

"We were actually planning a secret rendezvous," Blaine deadpanned. "Our illicit affair needs a special hideout."

"In Columbus," Rachel agreed.

"Rachel," Blaine chided mockingly as Rachel giggled, "it's not a secret anymore."

"Oops. Kurt, Quinn, you don't mind, do you?"

"Losers," Puck sighed, rolling his eyes. "I might be on your side, but I won't listen to this pansy shit."

"You're just like Santana," Quinn grumbled, pouting at the lost banter session. Puck leered.

"In what way, Quinn?"

"Puckerman," Rachel warned. "Don't make me turn out any Temple secrets on you."

"Deal," Puck quipped hurriedly. "What happens at the Temple stays at the Temple."

Their lunch was spent in peace until, out of nowhere, something smacked Kurt off the back of the head, and as he exhaled a gasp of surprise, Blaine looked around to check.

"It's...an egg," Blaine sputtered. "Who throws an egg at someone?"

Quinn promptly turned as red as tomato in embarrassed shame, Puck looked disappointed but expectant, and Rachel's eyes darkened.

She should've known a long time ago. Obviously intended for her, the projectile had simply hit Kurt by mistake.

Before anyone could react further, Karofsky, having seen the incident, bellowed as loud as he could: "FOOD FIGHT!"

Rachel and Kurt dived under the table, Quinn sat motionless, as Puck and Blaine unhesitatingly began to throw their lunches in every direction as the room exploded into delighted shrieks and laughter, slushies, sandwiches, and anything else edible was tossed into the air and at the others around them, lunch monitors roaring for order.

"What the fuck?" Rachel was yelling. "What the fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck?"

Kurt flinched. "Rachel, I wouldn't sink to profanity at a time like this. We need to get out unscathed and by unscathed, I mean clean. Especially the hair. I need to fix it."

"How could she do this?" Rachel exclaimed, scowling. She aimed a punch at Quinn's knee, who yelped, and stuck her head under the table, covered in food.


"Hey, what!" Rachel growled. "What do you think?"

"I can explain," Quinn pleaded, dodging a volley of tots from a laughing Mercedes and Tina. "Before you actually get challenged. Please just give me the opportunity."

"Why?" Rachel demanded. "So you can lie again?"

"I didn't lie!" Quinn protested instantly. "I told you the three guys you'd assume to be the biggest problems with us! You didn't ask about anyone else! I would've said so!"

"You claimed you were sworn to secrecy," Rachel snapped. "The email they sent you, remember?"

"I was, but I would've broken it for you," Quinn insisted desperately. "I would've, Rachel. Please let me explain it."

"Ladies, we don't have time for this," Kurt piped up. "My hair is in mortal peril. Quinn, pass me the lunch trays. Rachel, you'll come with me to cool down. You have to."

"We'll talk about this later, Quinn," Rachel snarled. "Kurt, let's go."

The two divas, heads covered safely by the trays, scrambled to their feet and sprinted for the doors, sliding across the slimy floor and nearly falling, but managed to escape.

"Don't worry, Quinn!" Puck shouted over the cacophony of howling students and screaming teachers. "She'll win it and forgive you! Trust me!"

"I hope so," Quinn mumbled sadly, letting food hit her without a reaction, too upset to care. "I have to tell her something."

"I can't believe her," Rachel fumed, as Kurt tossed her gym clothes and pointed to a bathroom stall. "She lied to my face the entire time!"

"She didn't lie, sweetie," Kurt soothed, checking his reflection. "She just didn't tell you about him. It's different."

"But him, Kurt?" Rachel asked unhappily, exiting the stall and tugging her shirt lower. "Him? He got to her too?"

"He's an influential, charismatic guy," Kurt countered, satisfied with his hair. "Who wouldn't he ensnare? Quinn's pretty, for a girl, at least. Of course he'd get her."

"I'd like to know when," Rachel remarked quietly, looking upset. "When did he and Quinn date, if at all?"

"A long time ago," a voice interrupted, sounding suspiciously akin to jealousy, as a girl stepped into the bathroom, her dress a bright, bluish hue with a black silhouette.

"You," Rachel greeted coldly.

"Me," Giselle smirked. "Berry."

"...Giselle. I don't know your last name. I apologize. It lightens the melodramatic effect of our confrontation."

"How's life treating you?" Giselle inquired, ignoring the latter part of Rachel's answer. "Still having eggs sunny side up?"

"No, I'm a vegan," Rachel snapped. "You already know this, which makes your insult less degrading to me and more of a slap in the face to your intelligence, Giselle."

Kurt snorted as the female lead of Vocal Adrenaline scoffed, rolling her eyes.

"Whatever, Berry. Follow me. You too, I guess," she ordered, gesturing aimlessly to Kurt.

"Where are we going?"

"Your auditorium," Giselle answered simply, leading the way out of the bathroom. "Easier that way when he defeats you."

"You'd sooner slander the perfection of Idina Menzel than actually believe that Jesse can even think of triumphing over me," Rachel barked. "Moron."

"He's done it before," Giselle shrugged, unperturbed, "what makes you think he can't do it again?"

Despite Kurt's encouraging, sympathetic whispers as they traipsed to the April Rhodes Civic Pavilion, Rachel couldn't feel anything more than fury and desperation.

"You're disgusting," were the first two words out of Rachel's mouth before she could stop herself.

He stood, center stage, so close to his rendition of Another One Bites The Dust, she felt sick. His eyes, feral and engaging as always, glinted with amusement and contempt. His hair, meticulously styled, looked exactly the same. His arms, crossed over his chest, were relaxed, despite the stance. His mouth, quirked into its usual smirk, angered her. Behind him, standing like soldiers, was Vocal Adrenaline, wearing those jackets she'd grown to loathe, looking quite smug and superior. One of them, a boy, snickered.

The glee club stood on the side—no Mr. Schue—looking half-surprised and half-scornful. Quinn sat by herself, head bowed and closer to the stage than Rachel would've liked.

"Rachel," was the reply, condescending and velvety as before, "how are you?"

"Let's skip to the fight, shall we?" The brunette scowled. "I don't want to look at you or talk to you any longer than I absolutely have to."

Jesse's practiced showface showed a slight hint of irritation. "No, Rachel. I'd prefer to actually continue a civilized conversation with you first."

"You'd like to gloat," Rachel sneered. "Fine."

Jesse's smile didn't waver, only widened. "As you must've guessed, I am the Seventh Evil Ex of Quinn Fabray, and founding member of the League of Evil Exes."


"And for those who didn't know that," Jesse went on, sparing a little jeer toward his brunette ex-girlfriend, then Kurt and Blaine, "surprise!"

"He's like a rambling villain," Kurt muttered in Rachel's ear. "Once you get him started, you'll never get it to stop. My condolences."

"Anyway, I created the League to show Quinn exactly what she's missing," Jesse persisted. "She, unlike my other love interests, didn't let me break up with her first."

"That's what this is about?" Rachel burst out. "Pride? Again? You stupid, annoying, selfish boys—"

"That's not it," Jesse exclaimed, looking certainly as if he wanted to stamp his foot. "I'm not done speaking, Rachel. At least grant me the courtesy to explain myself."

"I don't give chances to those who've lied to me," Rachel countered, and Quinn's head dipped lower in guilt, almost in her hands. Rachel ignored the blonde, just barely.

"Tut, tut. Ignoring Quinn doesn't help your confidence," Jesse taunted, but pressed on, looking wistful. "Anyway, our marvelous love story began when Quinn was only seven, and I, nine. We were in the same social circle—my parents, rich and successful, equally matched to both Fabrays. We shared a church, and met at very young ages."

Quinn sank lower into her seat, mortified, while the other glee kids, aside from the Exes, looked surprised. Rachel grimaced as Kurt, beside her, mimed vomiting.

"We kept in contact until high school, and when I was seventeen, and she, fifteen, finally shared a kiss. It was glorious, beautiful, touching, and—"

"That's just wrong," Rachel blurted out, shuddering. "Do you know how utterly and completely awful that sounds?"

"That's what I said," Santana commented. "It's weird. Maybe that's why they never talked when he was in McKinley."

Artie nodded. "I only joined the League to watch out for Quinn. And Jesse paid me. Sorry, Rachel."

"And me," Mike agreed. "I was also protecting Quinn, but...probably from the wrong person..." the dancer concluded, eyeing Jesse doubtfully.

"Definitely," Rachel muttered, horrified. Jesse scowled.

"Anyway, Quinn refused to be anything more than friends. She claimed to be part of the Celibacy Club, and that her father wouldn't appreciate me as her boyfriend."

(Finn scratched his head, confused at little at that one. Didn't he and Quinn date during her stint in the club?)

"Who would date you?" Kurt mumbled. "Sorry, Rachel."

"That's okay, Kurt."

"She should've considered all of the possibilities," Jesse went on. "We would be unstoppable. Her as Queen of McKinley, me as King of Carmel. Our portmanteau is St. Fabray. Besides our obvious wealth and social statuses, our couple name alone would just ooze royalty and power. Then, upon our own graduations, she'd join me at UCLA."

"I feel nauseated, do you?" Kurt whimpered. Rachel nodded, a nasty shade of green coloring her cheeks in her anticipated revulsion.

"After two overlapping college careers, then, as new alumna of UCLA, we would donate funds to have a wing dedicated in our name, so future students could admire us. We'd move to New York City, where she'd become a museum curator—because of her fantastic talents as an artist—and I'd obviously dominate Broadway. The end."

Jesse finished his observed soliloquy with a wide smirk, holding out his arms as if accepting applause. His Vocal Adrenaline cohorts chuckled quietly.

"You're disgusting," Rachel repeated when the silence—definitely awkward—stretched onward. "And you aren't in love with Quinn, you're just obsessed with her."

"It's insane, dude," Puck agreed. "I joined for the new Xbox and six new games, but this, man? I don't get it."

"I didn't find your addresses, information, offer you payment, and organize the League for your opinion," Jesse shot back. "Shut up, Puckerman."

Puck stiffened, but Mercedes caught his arm, shaking her head in a dissuading manner.

"So," Jesse announced, clapping his hands in a dramatic fashion, "enough chitchat."

"It's all from you!" Kurt exclaimed, looking around for support. "It's only been his monologue, right?"

"How the mighty show choir captains have fallen," Blaine remarked, almost disappointed. "Mr. St. James, I no longer have any respect for you."

"Anderson, you're a second-rate lead without his trusty backup singers, so spare me. Let's start the challenge. Rachel, I'd bring your A game."

Jesse, without waiting for further reply, revealed a remote in his hand, and pressed a single button.

Suddenly, the auditorium began to shudder, rumbling loudly, as if the foundations of the school were shifting in a near-earthquake. The walls pushed backwards, while the seats flattened to the floor—Quinn had gotten up and joined the other glee kids—creating a flawless, flat ground of black linoleum. The stage crawled forward as Rachel and Kurt stepped back reflexively in utter shock. The stage, still taken by a completely calm Jesse and Vocal Adrenaline, stopped advancing to the center, and instead began to rise into the air, climbing higher and higher until it towered as a gigantic monument. Two identical sets of staircases emerged from the structure, matching the linoleum in color. A large, ornate chair rose from the center of the pyramidal edifice, where Jesse sat down, looking very much like the pompous, imposing king he always claimed to be.

The April Rhodes Civic Pavilion, now transformed into a contemporary hall of black tiling, intimidating pyramid, and a stretching space, was nearly unrecognizable.

"Shit," Puck muttered. "Shit, shit, shit. He went all out."

"Probably emptied his account," Mercedes conceded. "I'll bet that trust fund is totally dried out."

"All for Quinn," Santana scoffed, as all eyes found a blushing, unhappily in the spotlight blonde, who scuffed her sneakers on the floor, painfully shy at the moment.

"I don't understand all the fireworks," Rachel remarked scornfully. "We could've just engaged in simple fisticuffs."

"No, it's my turn to organize a test," Jesse snapped indignantly. "The spectacle is only part of the production preluding to your loss."

"Whatever," Rachel badgered, impatient. "Let's fight."

"So we're clear, you want to fight me, for her?" Jesse asked. "Why on earth would you want to do that? She's a bully turned girlfriend and belongs to me, not to mention you're clearly at a lower level to me."

"First of all," the brunette growled, "she doesn't belong to anyone. She's her own person with a right to choose. And second, I'm fighting you because I'm in love with her."

Quinn's head snapped up, eyes widening in surprise, before brightening, looking as if the hazel-eyed gaze was actually sparkling.


A shimmering, samurai sword, sparkling with crimson radiance, seemed to weave itself from nullity, and floated unsupported until Rachel's fingers curled around the handle.

"Her sword," Mike breathed. "The one she used to defeat me! It all fits!"

"Aww," Jesse crooned sarcastically, "isn't that sweet. I think this deserves a song. VOCAL ADRENALINE, GO!"




RATING: Breaktakingly amazing

"One, two, three, four!" Andrea Cohen roared, as Kurt scurried to the rest of the glee club with an apology over his shoulder to a now very much alone Rachel.

Vocal Adrenaline, splitting into seven groups of four, began to harmonize, voices melding together—in a perfect A cappella, mind you—before the angelic singing tones drifted into a familiar melody. Rachel almost rolled her eyes when she identified the song, and Quinn's eyebrows drew together in confusion, having not heard the song at the time.

"Is the real life? Is this just fantasy..."

"Seriously?" Rachel yelped. "Pathetic! You're using a song you already performed? How unoriginal, Jesse!"

Jesse, halfway through singing his first two lines ("I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy...") narrowed his eyes without pausing and gestured his cohorts forward.

Four Vocal Adrenaline singers, immediately after ceasing their chorus, sprinted down the pyramid, leaping and flipping over to Rachel like martial artists.

Her sword was efficient and true as she sliced and diced, and her four attackers disappeared in a flurry of coins, and when they didn't reappear, Rachel gasped.

"Are they dead?" She yelled to the other Exes when four more vocalists hastened to her, the rest continuing the tune in loud belting shouts.

"No!" Artie hollered helpfully over the chorus. "They just reappear at Carmel High! Don't worry about it!"

"Bismilliah! No, we will not let you go! Let him go!"

"Bismillah! We will not let you go—let me go! Will not let you go—let me go!"

Rachel's swings with sword were flawless and it seemed as if coins were constantly showering the hall in an expensive, shiny storm of currency.

When Jesse was left singing furiously with only four comrades, he waved his hand and the harmonies ceased. Rachel smirked, twirling her sword, as her ex-boyfriend sulked.




RATING: Theatrically, marvelously and excessively sensational

Jesse readjusted his showface, confidence returning, much to Rachel's disappointment.




Her superiority diminished instantly when her enemy, unsheathing a sword hidden in his throne, beckoned her tauntingly, customary sneer in place. Rachel didn't waste a moment—she dashed up the staircase, her surroundings becoming blurred as she and Jesse sprinted at each other, resembling a game of chicken. Their sword met in a clash of steel on steel, and before Rachel knew it, she was flying backwards, landing on the linoleum with a hard smack, her weapon shattering into a million, crystalized rubies.

Rachel, half-sitting up tiredly, scowled, and ground out: "Your hair sucks, by the way. Jesse, I would recommend a different brand of gel. Maybe you should ask Blaine."

"Burn," Kurt muttered. Puck nodded appreciatively.

Jesse ignored both of them, sword resting against his shoulder as he descended the stairs, still wearing that aggravating smirk.

"I actually feel a little sympathetic for you, Rachel," Jesse commented. "I'm just taking everything from you. Your trust, your mother, your Regionals trophy, and now?"

His steps stopped by her hand, and he pointed the sword between her eyes. "I'll be taking your girlfriend, and next, your life."

Rachel, in sudden panic as Jesse reared back, about to jam the blade through her face, squeaked out: "Not my voice!"

"Brutal," Santana muttered to Puck. "He's a total psycho."

"This is like Fear," Quinn mumbled. "I seriously need to hide from Jesse, like forever."

"Shut it, Fabray," Santana shot back. "You're still the leper. Even associating with St. Dickless is treason. Even Berry deserves better than you."

Quinn looked away guiltily.

"Your voice?" Jesse questioned, both opponents unaware of the side conversation. "I could stab you through the throat and take it then. That's be devastating, wouldn't it?"

"My voice, voice, uh, I...it wouldn't be a challenge," Rachel stammered, struggling to articulate an escape tactic without completely losing her cool, "It wouldn't be a challenge from Jesse St. James if we didn't have a singing competition! I demand we perform a duet to test who really deserves Quinn! She needs a competent partner—"


"—partner who can compliment her vocally," Rachel concluded hastily, scrambling to her feet and out of harm's way. "I want a duet."

"If I win," Jesse countered, spinning the weapon like a helicopter's wing as he and Rachel circled each other, "I cut your throat out and you just die."

"I might be sick all over you," Kurt hissed to Blaine. "Fair warning."

"As long as you don't get my hair, Kurt, you can go as far as Linda Blair and I'd wouldn't care."

"If I win," Rachel insisted loudly, "you leave both Quinn and I alone and accept me as her girlfriend."

Jesse tapped his chin with his free hand, thinking it over.

"Fine. I pick the song—"

"No Queen," Rachel growled before Jesse could finish. "Or Lionel Richie."

"Seriously?" Jesse grumbled, disappointed. "Deal."

He snapped his fingers, and the band who habituated the choir room appeared, looking shaken and unsteady at their new surroundings.

"Traitors," Rachel muttered. The boy with the guitar shrugged helplessly, as the boy on the drums sighed, and held up a sign.

We've been instructed not to speak to you.

Then, in smaller letters, was: Though we will admit he threatened our ability to play music by smashing our fingers. Oh, and our lives too. Why did you date him, again?

Rachel wrinkled her nose, shuddering but didn't answer, before turning her attention back to an impatient Jesse.

"Aside from your obvious lunatic tendencies and apparently new inclination for violence, I've been wondering how you've managed to defy the laws of physics and reality."

"Moving on," Jesse commanded, dismissive. "Orchestra, you know what to do."

An easy, jumping tempo commenced, and Jesse smirked as Rachel's expression looked torn between annoyance and exasperation as she recognized the tune.

"What'd you forget?"

"Got a light?"

A large meter appeared next to the duelists, and their voices, upon hitting the notes, made the bar lines unravel and continue before waning and vanishing into thin air.

"I know you, you're...you're shivering," Jesse crooned.

"It's nothing, they turned off my heat, and I'm just a little...weak on my feet. Would you light my candle? What are you staring at?" Rachel retaliated.

"Nothing," Jesse scoffed, mouth twisting into a scowl at having to pseudo-compliment Rachel, "your hair in the moonlight. You look familiar—can you make it?"

The meter kept going, yet both were flawless, as per usual. The glee kids and remaining Vocal Adrenaline singers, watched on in admiring silence, in spite of the situation.

"Just haven't eaten much today," Rachel shrugged. "At least the room stopped spinning. Anyway, what?"

"Nothing, your smile reminded me of—"

"—I always remind people of...who is she?"

"She died. Her name was April—"

"It's out again," Rachel interrupted, turning away a bit, "sorry about your friend. Would you light my candle?"

Jesse didn't add his segment to the lyrics, and the tempo continued, slightly monotonously, as the band members looked at each other, perplexed. Rachel, in confusion, glanced back and him and before she could react, saw Jesse rush forward and sling an arm around her shoulders, and with a contorted sneer, shove the sword into her chest. Rachel gasped, feeling the cold blade slice unevenly past her skin and underneath, torturously slow, while Quinn suddenly screamed, the noise piercing into the air.


Jesse let go, dropping Rachel uncaringly to the floor with a pretentious little smile.

"Game over," the boy chuckled, as Rachel's eyes drooped, trying to keep him in view while her head began to pound, "Rach. You can sing duels and solos all you want, but I don't see you doing that when you're dead."

[KO! KO! KO!]







Rachel opened her eyes, seeing nothing but open sky, cloudless and cerulean. A slight wind grazed her face, and she blinked, sitting up and rubbing her head.

She was alone on a barren, depressing wasteland, a distant sun shining dimly, and she reflexively checked her chest, seeing no wound.

"Damn," she muttered. "I lost. Maybe I should've asked Noah for videogaming tips..."

"Talking to yourself?"

Rachel whipped around, and her eyes took in a tentative, gloomy Quinn, hands wringing together in nervousness.

"I thought I was alone."

"Hmm. I guess not."

Quinn let the conversation drop, and looked around awkwardly, trying to find an explanation. Rachel wondered how Quinn was here, but didn't ask.

"He sort of explained it all already," the blonde murmured. "I do want you to know that I never loved him. Ever. We were casual friends, and one day, he just kissed me."

"You should file a restraining order," the diva suggested uncomfortably. "That's considered sexual assault."

"I'll get on that."

"Not to mention he's stalking you," Rachel added when the silence became unpleasant again. "It's borderline resembling—"



"I wouldn't want to date anyone else if you lost," Quinn admitted. "I'd be too heartbroken after that."


"Are you stupid, Rachel?"


"I wouldn't date anyone else because I love you," Quinn burst out. "I love you, Rachel. Not him, not any of the Exes. I just didn't get to tell you before Jesse barged in."

"Really?" Rachel asked, edging between hope and despair. "You mean that?"

"Of course I do," Quinn insisted, taking Rachel's hands. "I love everything about you. Your stubbornness, your exuberance, your sincerity, the way you dress, the way you smile after you belt out a particularly high note," the blonde trailed off, blushing slightly. "All of those little things I catch that others don't...and that you fought for me."

Rachel felt her heart swell in delight, as Quinn's eyes danced brightly.

"Because I love you," Rachel nodded in reply, a smile lifting on her lips. "I'd do it all over again, a hundred times, if I could keep you for a short while."

"Why can't you?"

"I lost!" Rachel exclaimed, gesturing hopelessly to the wasteland. "I'm in limbo, or the 'loading screen', Quinn! I can't play anymore, as much as I'd like to."

"You're forgetting something," Quinn reminded her, smiling, "something you've earned, fair and square?"

The memory of the ending of the fight with Santana practically bulldozed its way into Rachel's mind, and she grinned.

"The extra life?"

"Yes. I've played Mario with Puck when I was pregnant. Take it, use it wisely."

"I'll be plenty wise," Rachel nodded, trailing touches along Quinn's wrists. "I know that Jesse won't hesitate to—literally—stab me in the back when I've turned around."

"You'll win this time," the blonde urged. "This is just a do-over."

"Don't rain on my parade," Rachel deadpanned, as Quinn burst into laughter, and shook her head.

"Go on, get going," Quinn insisted, pointing to the sky. "You've got a challenge to win, lover."

"You up there might not remember this little loving scene," Rachel sighed. Quinn leaned down, giving her a lingering, lovely kiss, before straightening up.

"Just prompt me," the cheerleader winked. "I love you up there, too. Believe that."

"Wish me luck," Rachel smiled, as a small, glowing, reddish cross hovered docilely by her ear. "I'll need it."

"Good luck," Quinn beamed. "Once you win, I'll make sure to reward you."

"A lot," Rachel urged, smirking, and Quinn's amused laughter was the last thing she heard before everything went black, and time rewound itself.



"...so we're clear, you want to fight me, for her?" Jesse asked. "Why on earth would you want to do that? She's a bully turned girlfriend and belongs to me, not to mention you're clearly at a lower level to me."

Rachel paused, situating to her new/old environment, and remembered what not to say. Those words would be for later, when she was victorious and alone with Quinn.

And get her reward—that would be almost as awesome as exchanging real I-love-you's—but she had to concentrate right now, and wouldn't let Jesse cheat.

"First of all," the brunette growled, "she doesn't belong to anyone. She's her own person with a right to choose. And second, I'm fighting you for me."

"Uh, what?" Jesse asked, confused.


A shimmering, samurai sword, sparkling with violet radiance, seemed to weave itself from nullity, and floated unsupported until Rachel's fingers curled around the handle.

"Her sword," Mike breathed. "The one she used to defeat me! It all fits!"

"Aww," Jesse crooned sarcastically, "isn't that sweet. I think this deserves a song. VOCAL ADR—"

"Excuse me, yeah," Rachel interrupted, as Jesse bared his teeth, frustrated at the interference, "I don't have time to listen to your stupid soulless, annoying club...Finn!"


"Get on the drums," the brunette demanded, and snapped her fingers, and a set of drums, two guitars, and a keyboard popped into existence. "Now!"


"Artie, use the guitar. Noah, the base. Blaine, the keyboard...all of you, play something encouraging. I need support," Rachel ordered. "I didn't even think that would work!"

"Hey!" Jesse yelled. "Those are my new tricks with reality!"

"Let's just fight," Rachel suggested. "Or, I could just defeat your lackies instead."





RATING: Breaktakingly amazing

Rachel didn't waste time again—she took on the entire rival show choir, swinging and slicing like a pro, dodging punches and kicks as tons of coins showered the vicinity.

Finn, Puck, Artie, and Blaine jumped into a forceful, fierce melody, the guitar squealing and the drums smashing loudly in continuous, screeching roar.

Jesse's formidible battalion of singing soldiers was completely destroyed, racking up points for Rachel and making an ugly grimace form on her ex-boyfriend's face.

"How is that possible?" He shouted. "You—them...you're...you!"

"Luck, I suppose," the brunette answered, and beckoned with her sword, "let's dance."

Jesse swung his blade expertly as Rachel sprinted up the staircase, and the swords met in a thunderous crash of metal on metal, making the clamor reverberate and echo.

The diva and her competitor blocked blows and parries, and Rachel smashed her sword sideways, causing Jesse to topple off the pyramid and weapon smash into pieces.

"I imported that from Asia on overnight shipping," Jesse swore angrily. "You'll pay for that!"

"This is ridiculous," Rachel scoffed. "You and I aren't in a battle for Quinn without a proper duet to showcase our equal talents. Finn, run and get the band kids, please?"

Finn dashed off to comply—obedient as always—and Jesse heaved himself ungracefully to his feet, brushing dust off his clothes, looking disgruntled.




RATING: Theatrically, marvelously and excessively sensational

"I can't wait to beat you," Jesse sneered. "Quinn will be mine, I hope you understand that one completely."

"I don't," Rachel retorted calmly. "I'll be the winner, Jesse, and you'll run back to UCLA with your tail between your legs and your pride demolished beyond repair."

"We'll see about that," Jesse snapped in a huff. "You'll be the one biting the dust, and I'll get the girl in the end."

"You're so cliche," Rachel muttered. "I don't remember why I dated you in the first place."




Finn returned with the band kids, who, at Rachel's instruction, began a different song—one of her favorites—as Jesse frowned, but joined in, too prideful to ignore her test.

The drums pounded, cymbals shivering in a haunting harmony with the keyboarder's poignant playing.

"In sleep he sang to me...in dreams he came," Rachel began quietly, effortlessly imitating the persona of Christine. "That voice that calls to me and speaks my name. And do I dream again? For now I find...the Phantom of the Opera is there inside my mind."

"Sing once again with me," Jesse continued as Erik, eyebrow raising in derision, "our strange duet...my power over you grows stronger yet. And though you turn from me to glance behind...the Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind."

"Those who have seen your face draw back in fear. I am the mask you wear..."

"...it's me they hear."

"My spirt and my voice," Jesse and Rachel sang, sizing each other up with identical disdain, "in one combined. The Phantom of the Opera is there inside your/my mind."

"He's there," Quinn piped up helpfully, joined by Mercedes and Tina, "the Phantom of the Opera!"

"He's there!" Rachel continued, voice rising in pitch. "The Phantom of the Opera!"

"In all your fantasies, you always knew that man and mystery..." Jesse trailed off.

"...were in both of you..." Rachel countered easily, clutching her sword tighter but hid it from view as Jesse looked away, as if to revel in their duet.

"And in this labyrinth, where the night is blind, the Phantom of the Opera is here—is there—inside your—inside my—mind," the duelists chanted, the tempo jumping a bit.

"Sing, my angel of music!" Jesse ordered dramatically, and turned around in annoyance when Rachel didn't add her part.

"What the fuck are you playing at? You can't just stop—"

Rachel shoved the sword into Jesse's abdomen instead of replying, as the Seventh Evil Ex choked and sputtered for breath, eyes darkening in tremendous rage.

"I'll sing," Rachel sneered, twisting the blade sideways, making Jesse yelp in pain, "I'll sing after Quinn and I engage in—"

"Gross!" Jesse shouted furiously. "Quinn is mine, you bitch!"

"She wasn't yours to begin with and never will be," Rachel snapped, "I won and beat your little League, get over it. Go back to UCLA, and maybe I'll see you on Broadway."

"When I'm Melchior and you're Wendla," Jesse growled menacingly as his form flickered and blurred in a reddish, hazy hue, "I'll be sure to hit you extra hard in Act I."

"And Quinn will make it all better afterwards," Rachel swore confidently with a devilish leer, and forced the blade deeper into her rival's midsection.

Jesse's body exploded into millions of coins, filling the hall with sparkling, gold treasure and making Rachel grin in triumph.

[KO! KO! KO!]







"I did it," Rachel shouted. "I did it!"

Rachel turned to greet the others, who clapped supportively as Quinn made her way to the brunette, looking hesitant.

"Are you still angry at me?" Quinn asked softly. The rest of the glee club, drifting outside to give them some semblance of privacy, threw congratulatory smiles at Rachel.

Even Finn and Sam managed to be somewhat cheerful—Rachel's enthusiasm was contagious.

"No, Quinn, I'm not," Rachel answered, smiling. "Why would I be?"

"Because I didn't tell you about Jesse?"

"I overreacted," the diva shrugged smoothly, as a small, relieved smile appeared on her girlfriend's face. "We all have secrets."

"You mean that?"

"Of course. I've also been meaning to tell you that I'm in love with you. Must've slipped my mind."

Quinn's smile grew into a full-blown grin. "Really?"

"Yes. Why else would I go through all the trouble of fighting your immature ex-boyfriends, casual friends, and vengeful best friend?" Rachel asked. "Because I love you."

"In that case," Quinn beamed broadly, "I've also forgotten to tell you something, too."

"Let's hear it."

"I love you, Rachel Barbra Berry," the blonde declared sincerely. "I love your animal sweaters, determination, perseverance, personality...the list could go on forever."

"Maybe you could tell me all of it tonight," Rachel suggested, coy. "My house, which will be conveniently empty, by the way."

"Oh, will it?" Quinn mused, grinning wider as she blushed. "I'm game."

"You better be," Rachel insisted, tugging her toward the exit as the April Rhodes Civic Pavilion began to rearrange itself into its proper structure, "I worked so hard."

"Poor you," Quinn consoled teasingly. "I'll have to fix you up. You've beaten each and every Evil Ex—you deserve special treatment."

"Like after Santana's challenge?"


"Great," the brunette laughed eagerly. "Let's go."

Duets: "Light My Candle" — Rent, "The Phantom of the Opera" — The Phantom of the Opera