okay, let's try this once again, since removed all my spaces and created frankenstein's monster vs. 9.0. This is a two-shot now, because I don't want to deal with ff's issues. To everyone who reviewed, I really appreciate it, because I'm at that point in this fic where I can't judge it at all and tell whether it's okay or horrendous, so. Anyhow.

title: reach out and touch someone
pairing: Sebastian/Rachel, Blaine/Rachel, Blaine/Sebastian; estb. Kurt/Sebastian. Sebastian/himself. Rachel/insecurities. Blaine/green-eyed monster.
summary: See, here's the thing about him: he carries the metaphor through. And he knows enough to be able to tell when it turns back into a simile. An almost. No longer something definite, but like something definite.
a/n: you guys, WHAT IS THIS, WHY DOES IT EXIST? The only excuse I have is that I've been really ill the past week and spent four days watching glee from where I'd left off (which, why D:) - from beginning s2 or something. And the rest three, lying down in bed and writing ~11k of Sebastian/Rachel. In my defence, Grant Gustin is ridic hot. And then Blaine decided he didn't want to be left out cuz he's really hot too. So he basically took over my 4k fic and now it's...this.
warning: I tried to keep this canon as far as possible, but Finchel (which is like ALL OF S3) is kind of hard to get around, so. Not to mention the fact that two of these guys are canonically gay, so I had to try and figure out why anything with Rachel would happen at all. also, angst angst angst since everything is either one-sided or implied. and sebastian is an entitled bastard, basically (which is kind of what I love about him /issues).
disclaimer: disclaimed. I don't own at all, and I'm sure everyone's really glad about that right about now.

The thing about Paris is—

It's Paris. For one. Not one of the sad Midwestern states that no self-respecting map would bother covering, with their inexperienced, trumped-up show-choirs that know as much about performance and show-biz as they do about twelfth century Middle English poetry.

But also, he knew who he was in Paris. The hot guy with the coffee that always had a shot of Courvoisier in it. And that was all the definition Paris needed.

But here, it's like he's marking days off a calendar where every day he picks up a new label and pastes it across his head so everyone can know and be comfortable or whatever.

In a short colloquialism: Ohio blows.


He first decides that maybe Ohio doesn't blow just quite as much as he'd initially thought during Uptown Girl.

Not that it isn't still tragically high on the overall suck-fest, but Blaine Anderson somehow manages to pull it a degree below the Bermuda Triangle on levels of suckage.

The way he sees it: Anderson isn't hard on the eyes. The opposite, actually. He's kind of the male equivalent of that girl in movies who doesn't know how hot she is, which, apparently makes her hotter by default or something.

He sings the entire song to him, which is a mixed message technically, because if anything, he'd be the male version of Uptown Girl in this scenario. But occasionally he's willing to settle.

Just occasionally, though.


"Hey sexy, where's the charity case boyfriend today?"

The midget, whom he'd initially ignored because a) not a looker and b) like he said, midget, not exactly in his line of vision, which he's grateful for, because, check 'a', looks particularly irritated, "Dalton uniform, meerkat smirk, and wanna-be Disney Prince hair. If you are who I think you are, then Kurt described you rather admirably, I must say."

"Oh, I see," he claps his hand in mock approval, "Kurt wasn't available so you decided to bring a little sunshine into the day of another McKinley charity case. Blaine, I must say, you're all heart, with the amount of community service you put in every week."

She blinks rapidly, obviously trying to think of an appropriately cutting come-back. Fails. "I am not a charity case."

He gives her the Manhattan once-over, slowly working his way up to the tightly buttoned sweater of an indiscriminate mustard color that somebody probably paid her to take off their hands, "with that nose? Good luck."

"This is Sebastian, Rachel," Blaine interrupts hastily, "Sebastian, Rachel Berry. And Kurt is practicing for his Officer Krupke role, so I bought my Maria out for coffee instead."

They smile widely at each other over the cups. It's sickly sweet. And he's pretty sure the aggregate of virginity in the square feet area might actually be catching if he stops by too long.

"Berry," he says, thoughtfully, like he doesn't know her Broadway artiste inspiration, favorite musical, details of fraught relationship with Shelby Corcoran and preferred morning cereal; he's Sebastian Smythe, scoping out the competition is like his daytime job, "any relation to the diminutive, sad fruit that hangs in a lonely bush with innumerable others like it?"

Her mouth hangs open in outrage, and when he walks away, he doesn't have to work too hard on the swagger.


Afterwards (and by 'afterwards' he means long afterwards, as in 'after the Rock Salt Fiasco' afterwards, as it is popularly known in Warbler circles by now), she sends him a letter.

Like. An actual fucking letter. On paper. In red ink.

It's hand-delivered by some guy from McKinley who's apparently a friend of Trent's, which, more than anything, proves how far Dalton has fallen in the social hierarchy.


Since you've taken to cravenly compensating for your tonal and possible other, easily conceivable, physical inadequacies by blinding and/or slushie-ing New Direction members, I think it's time you met the real competition.

Rachel Berry *

Her self-absorption and ridiculously high self-opinion is legendary among Ohio show-choirs. And he's obviously pissed her off enough to warrant a first-hand taste of it. Like she thinks he would be more intimidated by the starry-eyed child with delusions of grandeur, than he was by the Lima Heights cautionary case-in-waiting.

He thumbs the smooth metaphorical gold star sticker next to her name, before crumpling the paper and throwing it into the wastebasket.

Yeah, right.



He goes, of course. Even though he can think of seventeen things off the top of his head that he'd rather be doing. But he still goes, because she basically insulted his vocal abilities, his manliness, his pride and his honor all at once. Half of them by the sheer audacity of her choosing to hold the duet in a club in the Dalton locality. Which signified either her attempt to prevent her school-crowd from seeing her make a fool of herself yet another time.

Or, if he knows anything about Rachel Berry – and he does, he has folders, power-points, facts, figures, weaknesses, strengths— to mock him on his own turf.

Which demands satisfaction or retribution. He's not particular.

(This is what he'll remember later: staring down heatedly into dark eyes as she brushes her hair away from her face. And cherry chapstick. He'll remember cherry chapstick. He's guessing it was cherry because he's not exactly familiar with preferred flavor of the female population. But if he had to hazard a guess through taste, then, yeah.

There was a song too, he knows, logically speaking. But on his tongue, definitely cherry. When he thinks about it, he thinks it's odd that the facts, figures and power-points omitted to mention that.)


Actually, it lasts all of two seconds. It's more reflex than anything, curiosity, if you will.

It isn't the first time he's felt this; he felt pretty much the same after his Michael number with the lesbian Latina. It's the occupational hazard of really getting into a scene and having to get out of it. But he do it then because she was, well, into women. He has an excellent gaydar. She was also undoubtedly predisposed to rearrange his face if he made any moves, but that's neither here nor there.

This is different, he knows. Because Shaqueera, the Smooth Criminal girl, had been stunning, but she'd also been completely in control all the time. In control of her voice, in control of her movements; crossing her legs just so, leaning in just that muchcloser for the scene to be viscerally appealing, but Rachel, Rachel is—

—open. Completely vulnerable.

And he thinks something dramatic about how nobody else will ever be able to touch her completely. Not even in a bed, with her legs spread wide, welcoming. Not like he did in two seconds in front of an audience. Because nobody will really be able to touch her unless she's singing. So obviously she's dating the half-witted quarterback she's had most solos with, and as long as they're singing together, she'll never know she's not really in love.

It's a shame the guy she's chosen has a vocal range somewhere south of average. And by south, he means polar levels. Jesse St. James would agree, he's sure.

"Ew," she groans, scrunching her face and stepping back, still not far enough, "god, gross."

But the underlying huskiness turns her words to sweetness and he's not exactly hearing what she's saying. He listens to the spread of color across her skin instead. It's louder, for one.

From their table Gay-Face, her inexplicable choice for moral support, calls out her name with an appropriate level of outrage. He grins widely, theatrically, as she walks over and Porcelain Skin grabs her hand and whispers furiously, glaring shiny rainbow-colored daggers in the shape of unicorn horns at him all the while.

When she turns around, eyes reluctantly drawn to his part of the stage despite herself, he winks at her suggestively, with all the subtlety of Jeff trying to hit on a girl (Warbler code for none), watching in amusement as she hurriedly turns away, pulling her coat tighter, while the Hummel kid gets even more scandalized if possible.

See, it's not exactly sexual-identity existential crisis mode in his head because what he's come to realize through the years is this: everything is secondary to the stage.

This is how it goes: she doesn't question him, doesn't ask the why and the how or mention how it's totally inappropriate or unacceptable or tell him to never touch her again or threaten to take out a restraining order or warn him that her boyfriend is the quarterback. Because she, more than any other person, knows. Knows that part of being a performer is the gut-instinct.

Expressing in the moment. No matter what the consequences.


They do this sometimes. All the time, actually. The parties probably started out as a war-cry against repressive institutional authority and transformed into regularly scheduled orgy sessions within the hallowed halls of his alma mater. It's revolutionary enough to get zero attention from the staff who couldn't care less, since there are no teen pregnancy scares to be had this side of the walls.

He sometimes thinks nobody in this school gets irony except him.

"You were good out there, man," Jeff tells him, drunkenly clapping him on the back, "even with that Rachel chick who's, like, the best in this district. Everyone knows the only reason McKinley's glee club has even a shot at regionals is because of her. Her and Blaine."

He smiles. Sort of. Because Jeff's wrong on both count. New Directions works because of its island of misfit toys appeal, with everyone contributing an equal amount of loser gene to form a cohesive whole.

And, he wasn't good. He was fucking epic. Even if he can't exactly recall the song. But he knows he was epic regardless. He always is.

It's like this: the Warbler's don't like him much. Or, at all. And after the Blaine incident, he's pretty much the secret Public Enemy Number One with a bullet. But, even when they think he's a kind of a dick (which, he is), they put up with him. Because he's the captain (and gay and hot, which is never an unwelcome addition to an all boy's academy). And he knows: winning is everything. Rachel Berry would understand. But also, because they know if he left for Carmel High, they'd probably not make it past sectionals. That is, if they managed to make it to sectionals without the do-or-die mentorship that he provides.

And he stays because— because. Call it loyalty. Or something.


The next time he sees her at the Lima Bean, it goes something like this:

"I don't see how calling me Barbra is supposed to be slighting in the least. Unless you're unsure as to what the word means."

She's on the offensive obviously, because it saves energy on the exhaustive soul-searching of 'why are you at my table' deal. He's a fan of it.

"Actually, it kind of is. Barbra Streisand sucks," he says, the juvenile insult falling easily from his lips. And if she'd been fully able in mind and body, she'd have remembered that he isn't Finn and doesn't have the vocabulary of a mentally challenged Dora the Explorer has-been.

But she doesn't realize it, obviously, because an insult to her idol is an insult to her whole existence, and it robs her of all functions, her motor control dissolving into a mixture of rage and borderline insanity. It makes her skin flush with anger, her chest heaving with the force of telling him in precise, six syllabled words where exactly he can shove his non-existent musical talent, monotonously wetting her lips with the tip of her tongue to beat the dryness of her throat that the incoherent rush of words inevitably lead to.

He spends a lot of time making her angry, he's starting to realize. He also spends a lot of the subsequent time looking at her mouth. Which—

— well, fuck.


(See, here's the part he always seems to miss:

'No matter what the consequences' apparently actually involves consequences.)



My house. Monday. Ten. I know you know where my house is because I got that Slushie delivery that you had so innovatively paid the Pizza Place counter-guy to deliver and 'trip' while delivering. But this is an armistice, so to speak. A white flag. A cease-fire. And other similar sentiments in the same peace-keeping mode. Hope to see you there!

Rachel Berry *

It's like a language that he vaguely knows. He can make out the signs and symbols, but every time he puts them together it becomes an incoherent mess.

If he bothered to think about it, he'd think that was kind of fitting.


In the history of no good, very bad, terrible ideas—

"Excuse me," Princess Hummel drags out, "but what is he doing here?"

Curiosity, he knows, killed the cat. And he's starting to wonder just exactly how many damn lives he has left.

"I know you all have questions," she flounces around in a ridiculous pink dress that he wants to take off because of its crimes against humanity, almost as much as he just wants to take it off, "but just bear with me a while. I promise in due course of time they shall be answered to your satisfaction."

The Oscar Room or whatever the hell she called it is the lamest thing that he's ever seen and that's saying something since he's personally acquainted with Rachel Berry, so he has newer, higher standards of lame. He leans against the table and pretends Blaine isn't staring daggers at him. Taking out someone's eye tends to have that effect on them.

This is not happening.

"After the Karofsky incident, I have decided that our enmity is potentially dangerous, and because I love you," she looks at Hummel and Blaine, "and wouldn't not give you a sip of water if you were dying of thirst— note the double negative, as signification of an affirmative as according to basic grammatical rules," she says, turning to him, "so I think you guys should kiss and make-up. Not… literally kiss, of course. That would be— maybe a hug would suffice in establishing cordial relations henceforth."

It starts again, that heaving in the pit of his stomach whenever he thinks of Karofsky. Just stay in the closet, buddy. Every single time. Over and over and over. He's so. Sorry. He's so so sorry.

Gay-Face stares at her blankly, "you want me to hug him? As in boyfriend-stealing, best-friend-kissing, all round jerk, smarmy, smirking, Sebastian Smythe?"

"As awestricken as I am by your alliterative skills, Kurt," Rachel says, placating, "think about it this way—he didn't actually steal your boyfriend, did he? You and Blaine emerged even stronger after the ordeal."

Hummel refuses to be drawn into the verbal trap, "As much as I appreciate your militant NATO-like peace efforts, no can do, Rach. Besides, I don't feel any enmity towards him now that we've beaten him soundly at Regionals."

"That's exactly the sort of attitude I'm talking about," Rachel exclaims, "what if he can't take it and tries something...fatal."

"Wasn't planning on it," he says dryly from his position, "although I disclaim responsibility for the mediocrity of the rest of the Warblers. It's not my fault I had to step in mid-way because of an unexpected defection in the middle of the year and didn't get a fair chance to make something of them."

Blaine glowers at him. It's becoming a fun diversion to figure out how many expressions of the same kind he can induce on his face.

More than there are synonyms, if he's got the count right.

"Oh." Rachel looks disappointed, "I had alcohol and everything to celebrate our new joint treaty towards a healthier, more civil relationship. Nothing strong, of course, because my dads, liberal they are, tend to be more old-fashioned with regard to the virtue of their only daughter. But it seems as if the whole evening has been a waste of effort."

The thing is, even all the while, a part of him knows that if he says it then there'd be no going back. But he says it anyway, because—

Just, because.

"And this has nothing to do with wanting to get drunk enough to be able to kiss me again and keep the drunkenness as a failsafe response for all further queries?"

He knows he's right when she blushes a bright red. He knows Blaine knows he's right when his free hand— the one Hummel is not possessively holding to make his ownership clear— clenches into a fist.

It'd be an amusing tableau if he wasn't the one more in danger of the consequences than she is.

"I may have thought about it, I admit," she draws out, staring determinedly at a point behind his head, "once or twice. But I can assure you this night was planned in the spirit of Broadway camaraderie and any… untoward thoughts that I may have had in the private recesses of my mind are nobody's concern, especially since—"

"You want to kiss him?" Hummel looks green in the face, "Sebastian Smythe? We need to have a serious BFF talk right now."

"Of course she doesn't want to kiss him, that's ridiculous" Blaine interrupts. He looks frozen in place.

She avoids all their glances, moving around, frantically dusting spotless trophies, "It's not—"

"You can't just make it a thing," Kurt says, shrilly, "to kiss gay guys and then try and start a relationship with them every time Finn breaks up with you. As a one-way ticket to your self-esteem issues so that when you're rejected, it's inevitably what you expect would have happened anyway. Rachel, you're better than this."

He catches a glimpse of her face as she bends down, using her hair to curtain her face, lower lip trembling.

His first thought is something along the lines of ouch. Who knew the drag queen had it in him. His second thought is: guys. As in plural.

Maybe it's just that at any given time when they're in the room together, he spends a significant amount of time looking at Blaine that he can tell when Blaine spends a significant amount of time not looking at someone else.


"I think you should leave," Blaine says stonily, without bothering to turn around.

He shrugs, "I have early lacrosse practice anyway. So, as much fun as this hasn't been—"

"What do you need to hear," he can hear Kurt asking gently, as he walks away, "that Sebastian's a hundred percent gay? The same things Blaine had to say? Rachel, don't do that to yourself. And Sebastian wouldn't spare you the heartache like Blaine did."

The door closes behind him.


What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

It's hung up on the graffiti board, along with the various creative insults that Daltoners can claim patents to. He has no idea who said it, but he can't imagine it matters either way.


The only surprising thing about it would have been if it were surprising in the least.

"Stay away from her."

He looks up from his newspaper and half-smiles in the way he knows is most infuriating, tilting his coffee mug in silent acknowledgment, "hello to you too, gorgeous."

Blaine looks slightly disconcerted. Obviously he'd expected something else. Maybe an 'I don't know what you're talking about', a clear-cut denial. He's obviously never really met Sebastian Smythe.

"I mean it," he says finally, shoving his hands in his pockets, "if you want to play mind-games, do it with someone who knows the rules."

"Are we," he primly wipes his mouth, taking his time, enjoying Blaine's fidgeting, "talking about Rachel Berry? And just a 'by the way', really missing the eye-patch, made you look totally rakish. Fuckable."

Hey, who knows, maybe that's a 'sorry' in some language he's not familiar with.

"Don't pretend innocence, Sebastian, it doesn't go with the rest of your persona," Blaine says, unsurprisingly ignoring the latter half of his statement, irritation breaking up his syllables into longer words that obviously don't say as much as the other boy would want them to.

Except, of course, the thing about being a persona instead of a person is that he gets to change the rules whenever he wants. Be whoever he wants in the space of a few words.

"And what about Rachel Berry?" he asks, dragging it out as long as he can. Something else to know about him: he's good. He's good because he's had years of practice. It's not only talent that counts.

"You know what," Blaine manages to get out through clenched teeth, "don't...kiss her. She's not— she doesn't just let it slide or forget about it. She'll overthink and come to all the wrong conclusions. And you're gay."

He tsks in mock disappointment, strings the moment along, "I'd have expected better than cheap marketing labels from you."

"It's not labeling," Blaine says quietly and he knows there's a moment where neither of them is quite sure who exactly is at the end of his pathetic attempt at being convincing, "it's the truth. And Rachel doesn't deserve that."

"A bit hypocritical, don't you think?" he leans back further, tilting his chair till he can squarely meet Blaine's gaze, "coming from you, I mean."

He knows. Obviously. He's always been observant; it's kind of a basic requirement for figuring out how best to exploit weaknesses in competitors. And here all he really needed were eyes. Which he has a fine, working pair of.

"Which is why," Blaine rubs his forehead tiredly. Like he'd thought this would be easier. The mediocrity of the public school life must really be affecting him, "I know what it's like to kiss Rachel Berry. Like—"

He stops abruptly, inadvertently catching his gaze before dropping it. And Blaine might think like he just saved a slip-up, but truth is, he never needed that sentence completed.

He knows what it's like to kiss Rachel Berry too.

"Well," he says, carefully, "a) you're not her brother, even though you've started dressing like her male-counterpart and possibly pushing cutting-edge gay community fashion back to the B.C. period of the Gregorian calendar. And b) you already have a boyfriend. So really failing to see the 'how is it any of your business' side of this conversation to be honest."

"This has nothing to do with Kurt," Blaine flares up immediately, predictably.

And for a moment they're staring at each other and it's something—

— else. Something else.

"…except that she's his best friend and he'd hate to see her hurt. Which makes it my business."

Picking up cues from half-formed thoughts and inadvertent mistakes. He's performer enough to be able to applaud that. Even in someone else who is decidedly inferior to him in the department.

"And what is it exactly that she is to you?" he inquires, politely, clearing his throat to increase the insidiousness. The thing is: sometimes, he does this.

"A friend," Blaine replies, far too hurriedly for it to sound completely unrehearsed. The guy's dreamy as all hell and has a serious sex-voice, but he definitely isn't going to win any Oscars alongside the future Tony's anytime soon.

"You and I could be doing the kissing thing instead you know." he runs his tongue across his lips in proficient lasciviousness, "if the alternate scenario bothers you so much. I won't tell. Promise."

Blaine looks flustered at the about turn, it's a little amusing, but mostly just hot, "just— stay away, okay." he says, finally. It's probably a full-circle right there. A little neat circle with no space for her to slip through the cracks like she so easily does these days.

He goes back to the newspaper, "I hadn't thought about it at all but now that you've mentioned it, I can't seem to unthink it. Especially," he raises his eyes to meet the former Warbler's, "especially since your jealousy is totally going to make it worth my while."

"I'm not jealous," Blaine insists, laughing off the suggestion, backing away, volume making up for lack of conviction. Ringing almost as true as his own haven't thought about it at all. Blaine probably knows he's lying, just as much as he knows Blaine is. So, when he thinks about it, this— whatever this is—is a little pointless.

Rachel Berry tends to do that, he's beginning to realize, enter perfectly coordinated, established routines that practically have Anti Rachel Berry scrawled across them and somehow make them all about her. This is something he didn't learn from his competition-stake-out missions.

But they'll go through with it, Blaine and him, with gamefaces on, because they're performers after all.

There's a reputation to keep and nobody's called curtain yet.


The basic fact is this:

it's never been girls. Not ever.

Legend goes that he came out of the womb with a background choir, synchronizing perfectly, and hitting on the guy in the next crib. But it isn't like he hasn't done more than his fair share of fooling around. Figuring how girl-parts work, before eventually leading up to the big neon reveal, because— well, mostly because he's a bastard that way.

But also because he's artist enough to appreciate the dramatic possibilities of the final dénouements. The soliloquizing. The build up to it in a crescendo of tears and ultimately, heartbreak. Neither of them his, obviously.

The point being, it's never been girls. And if it had to be, in the most dire situation where it was the end of the world and he needed to repopulate to make sure another generation would be blessed by his excellent genetic make-up, or...or, every guy in the world decided to hold off sex, like the women in that Greek play they're doing in English class (which isn't the only thing messed up about it); it'd be someone like Santana. Someone who's pretty much a female him. Even if she happens to have a significantly lower bitch-factor than she probably thinks. Or maybe— that blonde, ex-cheerleading captain with the legs and the chest— Quinn or whatever— the main thrust of his argument being that if girls, he'd have his pick of the ones at the top.

Because he's not only smart and wildly attractive, he can also sing and dance like John Travolta vs. two point oh (new and improved). He could have the exotic kinds; the pomegranates and the star-fruits, and there's no way he'd go berry-picking with that kind of playing field available.

See, here's the thing about him: he carries the metaphor through. And he knows enough to be able to tell when it turns back into a simile. An almost. No longer something definite, but like something definite.

That's almost a metaphor.


Turns out he doesn't even need to make the first move on whatever gameplan it is that's giving Blaine Anderson sleepless nights, because the next week she's in the Lima Bean, glancing his way with the regularity of a clockwork automaton, and all the while pretending to be deeply engrossed in the menu.

So maybe the terrible acting isn't just a Blaine thing; maybe it's more of a public school thing. A common disease in a place where it's okay to be...well, common.

He's not being elitist, he's being honest. There's a difference. And while he's being honest he has full right to roll his eyes at the hideous schoolgirl plaid skirt and ruffled librarian shirt. It's like she goes out of her way to prove how unsexy it's possible to make a typical fetish costume.

He doesn't go up to her. Obviously.

More importantly, she doesn't come up to him.

Which, it's not unexpected, exactly. It's just— strange. A wrong note in the harmony that is all the more obvious for the harmonizing. Like he's adding up over and over and coming up with a calculation that stops just a little short of her.

Maybe she didn't come in here for him is the closest he'll get to it. It's sort of like losing, part bitter and part salt. He doesn't like the taste.

But then she's back the next day.

And the next.

And the day after that.


He gets up.

See, it's not as if he gives in first, because that's like saying there's something to give in to.


"Well, well," he begins, walking over, as she quickly looks away, burying her face in the menu, till her nose almost touches plastic, "if it isn't our young Barbra Streisand. We really need to stop meeting like this. Especially considering that you were never in here at all until you met me. Which, by simple association, renders these frequent excursions rather suspect, and would lead someone doing the math to believe there's a definitive correlation between the two."

He can almost see her trying to decide between the truth and the lie she's probably practiced in front of the mirror in her princess-pad. Rachel Berry is nothing if not transparent.

She settles for a compromise between the two, "Blaine asked me to not see you again," she informs him, haughtily.

A friend, he remembers, Blaine had never precisely defined what friendship exactly meant in his vocabulary of course, "so of course you chose the one place where you're absolutely certain to find me to avoid me."

She drops the menu, slightly flustered, "it's not— it's— Blaine doesn't get to tell me what to do, actually."

"Oh," he drags the word out, curling his tongue around it till it is more than it is, "so, this is you rebelling."

He can see her consider that for a moment, probably trying to decide the soundtrack and appropriate costume for the role if she takes it on. Possibly involving clothes in the James Dean tradition. The most rebellious thing she's probably ever done is wake up late and miss her morning work-out.

Except for drunkenly kissing her best-friend's gay crush of course. That probably figures in there somewhere.

(It just: he hasn't thought about it before. But now it's Blaine and Rachel in his head, making-out with the kind of frenzy that underlies their performances. He wonders if she gets the same crease of intense concentration between her forehead like she does when she's trying to invent soundtracks for her moments.

He doesn't actually know anything about them that can't be quantified into statistics, and he's guessing more than anything, but it's—


"He thinks you're playing mind-games with me," she says, interrupting his thought process, looking up at him, unconsciously wide-eyed in a way that reveals her inexperience in the department, "and that, that's what the kiss— if you can call it that— was. A mind game."

"And," he stops because he genuinely wants to know and he has to wait the feeling to pass before he completes the sentence. Regardless of whatever The Secret might want to fool unsuspecting morons into believing, the real trick is to never want anything enough, "you don't think it's true."

"It's not that I don't think you're capable of it," she sniffs contemptuously, presumably to let him know that nothing he could do would surprise her, probably including making international headlines for holding a gun to the President's head, "it's you. Psyching out the opposition through a detailed seduction strategy is exactly the sort of low-down, slimy thing I'd expect from the guy trying to break up the world's most adorable couple, next to Finn and I, of course."

"So," he laces his hands at the top of the chair opposite her, deliberately drawing her attention, "you came here to— what? Be a willing pawn in this nefarious seduction plan? Save Blaine and Ladyfinger's Epic Romance by willingly sacrificing yourself on the altar of my interest in Blaine. A distraction, if you will."

It takes her a moment to tear her eyes away from his hands and he's pleased. He doesn't know why, because he's not the one here notorious for overthinking. But he knows this: he's pleased. "Of course not. I'm just astounded at the unsubstantiated claim that I'd fall for any mind-games that you may choose to play. I'm a star performer; I am trained in skillfully ignoring any attempts at mental sabotage and emotional manipulation by the competition, or even fellow teammates. I have been egged by a guy who I thought I was in love with, and recently been left yet another time for the blonde Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue-esque model who is closer to a John Hughes movie cliché than an actual person. Nothing can penetrate the steel-reinforced rib-cage enclosing my heart now. Definitely not your childish games."

"So basically, in the Cliffs Notes version of your severe issues, Frankenteen broke up with you again for the hot, teen pregnancy poster-child," he gleans from the monologue. Somewhere along the way, he became fluent in Berry-speak. It's a frightening thought.

"Only temporarily," she hastens to add, slamming the menu down with unnecessary force to emphasize her point. And he thinks something bizarre like please, just. "Till Finn realizes once more that our star-cross'd love transcends generations and has the passion to inspire a best-selling Broadway musical, not to mention innumerable rip-offs. And he owes the world a happy ending. Especially since Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, the musical rendition it inspired, have already played out the tragic, tear-jerking, Sondheim-lyricized finales and made them redundant."

This is where he falters: he stares at her for a beat longer than absolutely necessary.

It's a mistake, the first time, and three seconds later it's a part of the act— Stanislavski would appreciate the method— as he then continues even longer when it visibly makes her uncomfortable, the shredded napkin testament to her confusion.

She doesn't know half of it.

"Besides," she continues stoically, when it's obvious he isn't going to say anything and he knows she has to say something to not allow the moment to be anything other than exactly what she needs it to be, "there's also that you're gay."

It's the slight hesitation on the first letter of the word that tells him it's probably a little further on the question scale than the statement scale, which is presumably what she'd been intending to go for. She'll overthink and come to all the wrong conclusions.

Blaine does look good with the eye-patch, that wasn't a lie. It's hard to tell with him, sometimes, but that definitely wasn't a lie.

"Yeah," he says, easily, instead, "there's that." Things she probably doesn't have notes on him about as he does on her: his ease is practiced, just like everything else about him.

She nods and she isn't looking up at him anymore, which says more than anything she yet has and there's something close to panic at the back of his throat, and he swallows hard and—

— It's gone. Almost.

"Yeah," she echoes.

So apparently: he's not only fluent in her language, he's fluent in her. Which is fucking terrifying, if he's being honest.

It's a good thing he rarely is.


She doesn't come in again the entire week.

He's not waiting anyway. Obviously.