A/N: Hi guys! Surprised to see me so soon? I have to say, I'm on a roll with this one! Already working on the next chapter. See, the thing is, I originally didn't plan to end where I did. But then it was such a great cliffie that I couldn't resist. I know how much y'all like cliffies, amirite? ;-)
Much love to northstar61 and michemistic. Maybe this birthday present will be done by your NEXT birthday, bb?
All standard disclaimers apply.
The problem with planning someone's imminent demise, Rachel realized when she got to school the next day, was that he actually had to show up for it and, once again, Finn had failed to come to school.
To say she was furious was an understatement. Rachel Berry knew plenty of words to describe anger, and this definitely—definitely—topped fury. Finn had started this whole mess—in more ways than one. He'd pushed her into volunteering for that stupid charity auction by disapproving of it. He'd ignored her when she went to his house to talk. Then, after all that, he'd tattled to Mr. Schue and spun some story about Jesse—who he didn't know was Jesse—raping her. Really, she thought, it took some nerve to then crawl into hiding and not let her say her piece. If she had to, she'd go to his house after school. Jesse couldn't be mad at her for that, since it was, after all, to his benefit. And if Finn was too chicken shit to open the door, that was fine. She had a good set of lungs and knew how to use them.
In Spanish class, Mr. Schue kept casting sympathetic looks her way. Rachel did her best to ignore them. Fuck that—and if Jesse heard the sort of language she was using in her head, he'd be proud that he was rubbing off on her. But honestly, she'd had it with her choir director. He couldn't care less about what she felt when something really did bother her, so why should she be polite now, when he was wrong? If she weren't so rational—and she was willing to admit to not feeling particularly rational at times—she'd think he actually liked seeing her unhappy in glee club. Like he purposefully made decisions he knew would displease her, as if he thought it would teach her some sort of valuable lesson about playing nice with her peers.
Blinking slowly, Rachel worried her lower lip between her teeth as she considered those admittedly shocking thoughts. Where had that come from? She didn't really think Mr. Schuester would do that...did she? Deliberately upset her, supposedly for her own good?
No, she decided quickly. No; she was clearly reading too much into his unsatisfactory leadership—probably at least partially because of Jesse's demand that she really think about how she spent her time.
That was one of the best, and worst, things about Jesse St. James. He wasn't afraid to tackle sensitive subjects, and he asked probing, direct questions that sometimes led to wonderful revelations...and sometimes to disturbing ones. Rachel was afraid that, in this particular instance, it would be the latter. Jesse had an uncanny ability to ferret out the deeper truths behind seemingly mundane or innocent circumstances. He read people like books, and his interpretive abilities were sometimes frightening. When he turned that skill on a song or character or even another person, it was a wonder to behold. When he turned it on her, however...
That was different.
And besides, she didn't have time to think about that today. Her place at this school, in this glee club, would have to wait for analysis because today she only had two things on her mind: birth control, and making Finn regret he'd ever opened his big mouth.
Mr. Schuester, however, had other plans.
"Rachel," he called when the bell rang, releasing them from Spanish class, "can I see you for a minute?"
She steeled herself, feeling her spine stiffen as she gathered her things. Of course he'd bug her again today. Of course he had to bring everything up again when all she wanted was to be left alone.
"Rachel," her teacher said when the classroom was empty, "how are you doing?"
"I heard you called my dads again yesterday." No way was she letting him get the upper hand in this conversation, even if he was her teacher. "Really, it's not necessary. I'm fine, and I keep trying to tell you that. Why won't you listen?"
Schue's big eyes were compassionate as he came around his desk and sat on the edge of it, his hands cupping the ledge at his sides. "Rachel, something happened the other day. Finn knows it, you know it, and I know it. You can't just push it aside and pretend you're fine. Life doesn't work that way."
"I am fine!" Rachel insisted, fighting the urge to stamp her foot petulantly. She wasn't a child anymore, and she couldn't afford childish shows of temper. Not if she expected to be taken seriously. "I wasn't attacked and everything's fine except my idiot boyfriend ignoring me and then spreading rumors that aren't even true!"
"Finn cares about you, Rachel. He's just trying to look out for you."
"If he cared about me," she said, schooling her voice to something reasonably calm, "he wouldn't have sent me away when I wanted to talk to him. And he wouldn't have run tattling to you and Miss Pillsbury, foisting me off on you instead of talking to me himself."
Mr. Schuester raised one hand to rub his face. "You're upset right now, but someday you'll realize that he told an adult because he cares about you. That's what we're here for. Whatever it is that boy did to you, you don't have to face it alone."
"My dads believe me." Rachel eyed her teacher, wondering if even this argument meant anything to him. "Didn't they tell you they believed me that nothing was wrong?"
"How can I put this...delicately?" He rubbed his palms together nervously. "Your dads love you. More than love you."
"They've known me all my life, which is a lot longer than you have," Rachel broke in. She didn't know where he was going with this, and she didn't particularly want to find out. "They know me."
"Yes, you've been with them a long time," Mr. Schuester agreed. "And sometimes with fathers and daughters...well..." He searched for the right words, indecision and discomfort plain on his face. "What I mean to say is, sometimes dads can be good at only hearing what they want to hear, and daughters can be good at...making that easier for them."
Rachel couldn't believe what she was hearing. She folded her arms squarely over her chest and leveled her teacher with her best outraged expression. "You think I'm lying to my dads. You think I'm manipulating them and they're falling for it just because they trust me!" Her choir director had insulted her many times before, but this was perhaps the worst accusation he'd ever flung at her. "My dads trust me because I've never given them a reason not to—including now!"
"Rachel..." Mr. Schuester put his hands out in a conciliatory gesture, but Rachel was done. She'd heard all she was willing to hear, and he could find someone else to pity if he wanted to play at being a concerned teacher. She grabbed her bag and left the classroom as quickly as she could.
The rest of the day didn't go much better. Rachel's mind kept flitting from one topic to another, none of which included her actual schoolwork. It was a good thing she was ahead in almost every class, because in that respect the day was a total wash.
Jesse. Planned Parenthood. Finn.
It all coalesced into a vague sort of impatience, though Rachel honestly couldn't fully explain exactly what she was impatient about. The clinic visit made her a little nervous, but she wasn't terribly anxious about it, she didn't think. Planned Parenthood wasn't open late on Thursdays so she planned to go there first, then deal with Finn. Ever responsible, she called them between classes and made sure she didn't need an appointment—they assured her that if all she wanted was birth control, a copy of her last physical and a quick test to make sure she wasn't already pregnant would suffice.
Should she feel more nervous about this? Rachel didn't know. It felt like a big step, yes—even bigger than actually losing her virginity, since Jesse hadn't given her much warning about that. There was no time to think, only to react.
As she sat aimlessly doodling in her math class, though—having completed the week's assignments already—she had time to wonder about this next step. Going on the Pill meant that sex with Jesse wasn't just a one time (or three or four time, she amended) thing. It meant that she was committing, somehow, to this relationship. To trying once again to be with him both physically and emotionally.
She'd admitted to her fathers the night before that she thought she might be in love with him, and now, surrounded by her so-called peers who were all wrapped up in their own little lives, she took the opportunity to really question what that meant.
Jesse wanted her back. He wanted her in a very real, very possessive and permanent way. He'd said he was giving her this week to be conflicted, and the week was almost up. If she knew anything about her phantom, she knew that he did not share well. Not the spotlight, and not his girl. If she wanted to keep him in her life, she had to take another final step and break up with Finn.
The question was, could she do it?
Finn was the shiny object she'd been striving for, for...longer than she cared to remember. Even during her brief attempt at a relationship with Puck, it was Finn she fantasized about. Jesse was the only boy who had ever been able to push those thoughts aside.
So what did that mean?
Was she truly ready to say goodbye to that person, the girl she'd been for so long? Was she ready to give up the safety she felt at being Finn's girl—still side-eyed by the popular kids, but no longer slushied on a daily basis? Was she willing to give all that up, not to mention possibly ruin her chemistry with her glee club duet partner, for the sake of stormy blue eyes and a mocking smirk? It was...a lot to ask.
She mulled it over on the drive to Planned Parenthood, her quick consultation with a doctor, and the irritating-but-necessary pregnancy test. All in all, it was a fairly painless process. Nobody looked at her with judgment because she wanted birth control. Nobody made her feel like a whore or a horrible person for being sexually active. The doctor even congratulated her on being responsible about her sex life, and the woman at the dispensary window urged her to take as many free condoms as she wanted, reminding her once again that she should use alternate protection for the first month, just in case. Rachel took a few, even though Jesse always seemed to be prepared. Their problem wasn't so much a lack of protection, but the lack of patience to grab it.
The little white paper bag with her new prescription made Rachel feel ridiculously grown-up and responsible. This was something she was doing for Jesse, yes, but also for herself. For them, together. After the first month, they wouldn't be limited to times when Jesse happened to have protection nearby. They wouldn't have any more scares like her first time. She smiled as the paper bag in her hand rustled. This was a kind of freedom, in a way. And even though her fathers obviously didn't like the thought of her having sex, at least they trusted that she was being responsible.
Rachel took a deep breath of fall air as she left the building and headed for her car. The feeling of accomplishment faded a little as she moved on to the next item on her to-do list.
Except, she couldn't decide exactly what to tell him. During the school day, she had finally accepted the fact that she needed to break up with him. There was no other way to keep Jesse in her life, and she wasn't willing to give him up. So...a breakup with Finn. This was honestly something she had never, ever foreseen—she'd always kind of assumed, deep in that part of her where her insecurities lay, that Finn would be the one to eventually end it. Her more fanciful thoughts had centered around a happily ever after with her too-tall boyfriend—kids with brown eyes and a knack for sports and the arts.
Rachel had once thought growing up meant giving up on the idea of a fairy tale. She'd taken Finn's treatment, his disapproval of so many parts of her, because she thought everything Jesse showed her had been a lie. She couldn't explain just how her phantom had managed to change her mind—not to mention her heart—in less than a week. But then, he was Jesse St. James. Very little seemed to be impossible for him. And maybe, maybe the task wasn't as difficult as she assumed. It was entirely possible, though she hated to admit it, that her heart had never wavered at all. That, despite everything, she'd never really stopped loving him. If that was the case, then this impending breakup was inevitable. Finn had lost before he even started playing the game.
Still, how was she supposed to tell him that? Finn didn't do subtle, as she'd learned from many a hint he'd failed to notice. And what would his reaction be? Would he even care? After the way he dismissed her when she went to his house, and then her punch to his face, maybe he just assumed that that was it—that they were done. But what if he didn't? What if he thought she'd been brainwashed or something by the guy he thought raped her? What if he thought that was the only reason she wanted to break up with him? Would he do more than just tattle to Mr. Schue? Would he...oh, god, what if he did something that forced Jesse to reveal himself before he wanted to? The results could be disastrous for both of them.
This was a situation, she decided, that she couldn't just rush into without a plan. She needed to know what she would tell Finn, and how, and plan for all contingencies. A good performer was always prepared, and this situation called for extra preparation. She couldn't just rush into breaking up with him. She needed a plan.
And, because she thought best while her hands were busy, Rachel decided to head home. The next thing on her to-do list—other than seeing Jesse, of course—was re-shaving now that a couple of days had passed and she could feel the start of stubble returning. It didn't itch too badly yet, but she had to admit that she kind of liked the feeling of being bare. Jesse had liked it, too, if she read his cues correctly. For now, she thought she'd keep it.
Her dads weren't home, which relieved Rachel. They respected her privacy, but she didn't want any interruptions during her first solo attempt at this delicate procedure.
Santana had told her to shave in the bath. Rachel stood in front of the tub, head cocked to the side, considering the clean white porcelain. Realistically, she was going to have to shower after seeing Jesse later. Without fail this week he'd left her wet and sticky, hair in disarray. And, if that was the case, she didn't particularly want to climb into the tub now. It felt like not only a waste of water, but a waste of her time. Why should she clean now when she knew she was just going to get sweaty again later?
The bathroom floor didn't look inviting either, despite the fact that it had worked just fine when Santana did it. She chewed on her lower lip, casting her eyes around for a better place.
Her bed caught her eye. She could spread a towel on the bedding to catch any stray water, and she'd have plenty of room to sprawl if shaving on her own required any odd contortions. Pleased with her decision, she laid out everything she would need—towels, a new razor, peach-scented shaving gel, a little cup of warm water on her nightstand, and a warm, wet washcloth. She stripped out of all her clothes except her bra, climbed on the bed, and settled the washcloth in the junction between her legs, just as she'd been shown. Her flesh was still tender after the forceful way Jesse had taken her last night, but she savored the small physical reminder. He made her skin sing when he touched her, and she never wanted that feeling to dissipate.
She pressed her fingers slowly against her flesh, testing the ache. It wasn't bad—certainly nothing she'd go so far as to call pain. Her body knew it had been worked, that was all, and there wasn't anything wrong with that. In fact, the extra sensitivity felt pretty good. Even her fingertips brushing between her legs felt good. Her body relaxed into the mattress as she moved her hand slowly, touching her own body for the first time, besides a quick wash, since Jesse had taken her virginity. Did she expect to feel different, physically? Her body felt the same under her seeking fingertips, just as it always had. Soft folds of skin hiding a tender, moist pinkness that darkened as she touched herself. She relaxed further into the pillows on her bed, drawing her fingers higher, finding her clit—also sensitive, but more than willing to play.
Jesse would have to be gentler with her tonight, she thought dreamily as her fingers teased languidly between her legs. Her body couldn't take yesterday's intensity twice in a row. She imagined his glittering blue eyes, dark with desire. How he'd touch her so gently, so sweetly, coaxing pleasure from her body rather than demanding. Every touch he gave her was perfect, and—
Rachel's hand froze.
He'd told her not to touch herself—was that edict still in place? Or had it only been for the one day?
How would he know, either way? a devious voice in her head tried to say, but her hand fell from its soft, sweet strokes anyway. No. If Jesse dared her to do something, she couldn't back out of that. She wouldn't. He'd see. She was just as capable of this as she was of everything else.
What she wasn't capable of, she soon learned, was thinking about her Finn problem while she was mostly naked.
She tried, she really did. The whole point of coming home instead of going to see Finn right away was to give her time to plan. But bare skin meant Jesse, not Finn, and she couldn't make her mind focus as she spread shaving gel on the area to be shaved.
Carefully she lathered every area that felt slightly scratchy, and smoothed the razor delicately across her flesh. After a few swipes she grew more confident—it wasn't as simple as shaving her legs, but it wasn't as bad as she had assumed. Smiling softly, she finished and used the washcloth to wipe away all remaining lather. Santana had pushed her in a shower to clean up a little after shaving, but Rachel could wait. This multiple-showers-a-day thing was getting kind of old.
Using a little lotion, Rachel smoothed her hands over the newly-shaved area. Her skin was deliciously sensitive, velvety soft and sleek just as it had been when Santana shaved her, and she hadn't nicked herself once. It felt really, really good. She wondered if Jesse would feel a difference when he touched her. His touch wasn't even an "if" in her mind—not with the way he seemed to crave sex.
Not that she minded.
The sudden click of her door latch turning made Rachel's head jerk up. Her eyes grew wide and her heart stuttered as a tall figure—one she hadn't in her wildest dreams expected—walked into the room.
She and Finn stared at each other, neither speaking. Rachel felt her chest heave with a stuttering breath, acutely aware of the fact that she wore nothing but a hot pink bra—and that her face might rival the color of that garment at the moment. Finn's brown eyes were huge, white sclera completely surrounding the dark iris. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but no sound came out.
Rachel found herself, for one of the first times in her life, struck dumb. She couldn't move; couldn't speak. This was so not how their confrontation was supposed to go! She was supposed to choose the time and place, confronting Finn when she had the upper hand! She was supposed to tell him exactly what she thought in no uncertain terms, and to hell with his reactions...as long as said reactions didn't include claiming she'd been brainwashed or hypnotized or something like that.
But no. He was here, in her bedroom, and she was virtually naked. Her mouth almost wanted to curve into a mirthless smile. He knew where the key to the house was hidden. He could easily see her car alone in the driveway and know that she was home by herself.
"You're not sick," she finally managed to squeak. It was a stupid thing to say. She already knew he wasn't sick. He'd been hiding from her.
Finn swallowed hard. His mouth worked but still no sound came out. He stumbled forward a step, then another.
She didn't know. There was no way she could have predicted his intentions. But his hand twitched and then, suddenly, it was on her. Fingers rough and callused from football and the gym rasped against tender, newly-shaven flesh, and she winced as a squeak escaped her. Three rapid, out of sync heartbeats thudded in her chest as his hand touched her outer lips.
It felt so...strange. So, so different than when Jesse touched her there. Finn's hand fumbled awkwardly, his brown eyes huge, his mouth hanging open.
It took Rachel one more heartbeat to gather her shocked self enough to move. She pulled a ragged breath into her lungs, and, as if that breath freed her, she shoved Finn's hand away and closed her legs, scrabbling for cover. A towel and a pillow wasn't much, but it would have to do because she was not turning her back on him long enough to climb under the covers. "What the hell?" Another breath. "What...what the fuck do you think you were doing?" Yeah, Jesse's coarse mouth was definitely rubbing off on her.
Finn swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "You...shave?" The words were a bare squeak.
"That's none of your business! What gives you the right to just waltz in here unannounced?" Rachel's heart hammered against her ribs. Ten seconds. He'd had his hands on her for about ten seconds—longer than it sounded like, but far shorter than it felt.
Finn's face darkened. "Uhh...maybe because I'm your boyfriend? What, so you think you're the only one in this relationship who gets to show up whenever you feel like it?"
Rachel scowled and clutched the damp towel tighter around her hips. If she wasn't so...naked...she'd be on her feet right now, about to slap him despite Jesse's edict against hitting.
"Don't you dare try to call this the same thing! I knocked on your window! You barged into my bedroom and touched me!"
"You're my girlfriend!" Finn roared back. Apparently his voice was fully back now. "I'm supposed to be able to touch you! But no, you always want to do anything—literally anything—else. What the hell?"
Finn had a weird little almost-lisp thing; why had she never noticed it before? Whereas Jesse's crooked lower teeth made her love him all the more, Finn's ever-so-slight speech impediment only annoyed her.
"Being my boyfriend doesn't automatically give you the right to just barge in and touch me!" she yelled, her voice growing in both volume and pitch with each word.
"I'm so sick of this, you know?" he said, gesturing with one hand. "I'm so sick of doing all the work of being your boyfriend—and it's a lot of work keeping you happy—without the good parts. I mean, yeah, you'll kiss me now but you don't even really like to make out. Every time I try to touch your boobs or your ass, you freak out."
Okay, part of that was true. She did freak out when Finn tried to cop a feel. But if she hadn't already been sure about breaking up with him, she was now. This was the absolute last straw. She seethed, furious with him and also with the fact that she couldn't get up and deck him like she wanted to. So he thought being her boyfriend was all work, huh? Not enough reward? Well, she could fix that very, very quickly.
"I'm glad," she said. "I'm glad you weren't the one to take my virginity."
"No," Finn scoffed, "that was perfect Jesse St. James, who then cracked an egg on your head, beat our asses at Regionals, and ran off to California."
Through her fury, Rachel felt a small thread of amusement. In fact, Jesse had been the one to take her virginity, though not when or how Finn thought. She held her tongue, seeing no reason to enlighten him.
"Don't you dare," she said again. "We're not talking about Jesse right now, we're talking about you. Jesse never said anything like what you just did, regardless of what else he might have done."
Finn shifted his weight from foot to foot nervously, as if unable to keep still. He rubbed his palms on the thighs of his jeans—a sure sign that they were sweaty. Rachel wrinkled her nose. Jesse never had sweaty palms. "Look, I came here to...to apologize to you. Because, I mean, for the...you know."
Rachel raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow. "I know?" She wasn't going to let him off the hook that easy. He was gonna have to say it.
"For telling Mr. Schue that I thought..." He cleared his throat. "It's just...I care about you, Rachel. I thought maybe he'd be better to deal with this kind of stuff than me. I always fuck up and say the wrong thing."
Well, that much was certainly true.
"You should have come to me first," Rachel snapped, unwilling to let him off the hook. "Before you jumped to conclusions and made all of us look like idiots!"
"Why won't you admit it?" Finn demanded. "Seriously, Rachel, I know it sucks and everything, but enough already! No one thinks badly of you or anything, so why do you keep lying?"
Yeah, that was it. Rachel stood, towel wrapped tightly around her waist, and did her best to glare up into his eyes. "I am not a liar," she insisted. "When have I ever lied to you?" That he knew about, she amended silently. "Listen, I'm sick of this. I'm tired of the way you always complain about how I act and how I dress. I'm tired of feeling like I have to put out to get attention from you, or somehow change myself to make you happy. I'm tired of all of it, Finn."
He eyed her uncertainly. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that I'm done. Go back to Quinn if you want to, or find a new girl to make feel bad about herself. I'm not going to play this game anymore. As much as you think you're getting nothing out of this relationship, neither am I."
Finn stared. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"How should I know that?" Rachel asked. "Our minds clearly work very, very differently. What I'm saying is that I'm officially not your girlfriend anymore. I'm sorry if you're upset, but I think this is best for both of us."
"You don't mean that."
"Yes, I do." Rachel drew herself up to her full height—admittedly not much compared to his, but it was better than nothing. "I don't love you. It took me longer than it should have to realize it, but I guess the important thing is that I do now. You were like the ultimate unattainable goal. I've only just realized that love shouldn't be like that. Falling into it, I mean. It should be...as easy as breathing." She'd never had to fight for Jesse, Rachel realized. He'd been hers from the moment their eyes met over a music book. The only ones they'd ever been fighting were themselves.
Well, and Shelby.
"Who is this guy?" Finn demanded suddenly. "I don't trust him, Rachel. You've been acting weird ever since the auction. Whatever's gotten into you, it's his fault. If he didn't rape you, what's the deal?"
"You're not my boyfriend anymore, so it's none of your business." Rachel supposed that people would find out Jesse was back in town at some point, but she hoped to have at least a little time with him before that happened. Finn would immediately accuse her of cheating—which she didn't deny—and the others would accuse her of just plain stupidity, falling for him a second time. What they didn't understand was, there was no second time. She'd fallen, and that was the end of it.
She could still feel Finn's rough, fumbling touch though, even as she argued with him. It wasn't pleasant. Her skin shuddered, and suddenly that bath she'd decided against seemed like a much better idea. This was...strange. Very strange. Her stomach clenched and rolled, uncomfortable feelings sweeping through her body. She hadn't felt this way when she cheated on Finn with Jesse. Why, then, did it feel so awful that Finn had touched her, even for a moment? A pulse shivered through her body.
What the hell was she going to tell Jesse?
"You need to leave," she said, willing her voice to remain firm. "Now."
"No. I'm telling you this for the last time. I wasn't attacked. The only one who hurt me was you when you ignored me, and I'm not going to do this anymore. I'd like to still be friends if we can, but I'll never be able to be this person you seem to want me to be, and I'm losing myself by trying. I can't anymore. Don't show up here without calling first, and don't touch me." She made her way to the door with all the dignity she could muster while wearing a bra and a wet towel.
Finn followed reluctantly behind her, squinting a little as if he was still trying to understand what she'd just said. "I'll go. But this isn't like you, Rachel. You're acting all weird and stuff. I'm going to give you a few days to think it over, and then we can...talk again." His distaste for the word was palpable.
Rachel gave up. Anything to get him to leave at this point. She could talk to Jesse and figure out what to do later. Right now, she just wanted Finn out of her house.
She watched from her window as he got into his mom's car and drove away.
Then she burst into tears.
A/N: Good cliffie, right? What's Jesse gonna do? What's Rachel gonna tell him? How are they gonna make Finn get it? If you wanna know, leave me some love! Mwah!