So here is a little bit of exposition for the three new characters in McKinley High, as well as a little bit of Tina. I was very excited to model my own life experiences into Marley's character, and I think it'll be really fun to work with Jake once we get some interaction with Noah going. And Kitty's dialogue is very fun.

6:00 AM

"Marley, honey! Get out of bed," Mrs. Rose said gently, wiggling Marley's shoulder until she stirred.

"Do I really have to go to school today?" Marley groaned.

"I'm afraid so, dear," Mrs. Rose said. "It won't be so bad. I've already looked around the campus. It's really nice for a public school. And at least you know, lunch won't be half as bad."

"I heard they banned tater tots a couple years ago," Marley said, now sitting up and hugging her blanket close to her body.

Mrs. Rose giggled. "Well, that was when the school had a different temporary principal. I think she's the cheerleading coach now. Just gave birth. But that's besides the point, honey! Come on, get dressed!"

Marley sighed and got out of bed, slipping her feet into a pair of fuzzy Hello Kitty slippers.

First days of school were tough for Marley. Most kids only ever go to four schools in their entire life. A pre-school or daycare, elementary school, middle school, and then high school. But Marley had been to many more. She only spent one year in her last high school, and it was miserable.

You would think that for a girl who looked completely normal on the outside, that she would be a normal person. But that wasn't the case. Her normal routine was going to school, sitting by herself on a bench at the far end of campus, where few people ever lurked in the mornings. Go to class, and nervously find her way around the seating arrangements. Most teachers always seat students into groups of four, and oddly enough, there were always twenty-one students in the room, and six tables. Marley had a whole group of tables to herself in four of her classes. Peaceful, definitely, with lots of space. But when you're in the front of the room, where the other twenty kids can see that you're a loner, it's humiliating.

Walking through the halls wasn't any good either. People tend to walk around in groups. But for Marley, she was always the person walking to class alone. Passing numerous cliques, and feeling like they're breathing down your back, just itching to taunt you and your loner self.

Lunch was the worst. Being a loner, combined with the disadvantage of being a freshman, you oddly find yourself being the first in line, and then suddenly being all the way in the back; because of all the kids cutting in front of you and all. It would be worth it to have a group of friends to sit with, but no one ever acknowledged Marley's existence. She would be standing in the middle of the cafeteria, looking around the room for an open seat with a tray in her hands. She couldn't even walk up to the Chess Club without fear of being rejected.

Luckily, the school allowed the students to eat wherever they wanted to. Marley's only haven to escape the lunch table pressure was the library. Granted, she was never allowed to eat inside, but there was a nice little grassy spot in the grassy area behind the library. Quiet, secluded, and no one (except maybe a passing security cart) would ever see her.

But now, this was a new opportunity. As Marley's mom said, this was the last chance Marley would get to finally get a sense of popularity, for once. They had already gone over the ground rules. The lunch lady is not Marley's mom. Marley buys all of her clothing from Victoria's Secret, J-Crew, Dior, etc. Marley will never get in the same car as the lunch lady unless the car is located in a secluded area at least two blocks away.

Marley felt weird about it, but that was the price that Mrs. Rose was willing to pay, in order to give her daughter a better social life. Mrs. Rose had gone her whole childhood without knowing what a real friend was. She wouldn't let that happen to Marley.

Mrs. Rose dropped Marley off a block away from the school, before driving the car off to the staff parking lot. Marley would walk the rest of the way. Again, to prevent others from knowing who her mom was.

As Marley approached the school, she breathed in some excitement, and a whole lot of nervousness. There were so many kids! And a huge percentage of them were wearing football jackets or cheerleader uniforms. A lot of the cross country kids were even doing a lap around the campus!

Marley strolled through the campus. "Excuse me, do you know where I can pick up my class schedule?" she asked to the man who she knew was the principal.

"Ah yes. Go down the hall, take a right, and see the lady at the office desk," he said kindly.

"Thank you," Marley said with a shy grin. Momentarily, she got a hold of her first class schedule. There was a nice woman in there helping the secretary: Ms. Pillsbury. Apparently, she was the guidance counselor, and she looked very sweet. The guidance counselor at Marley's old school was kind of hard to approach. He was a football and volleyball coach, so he always treated his athletic boys with more respect.

Marley took a peak at her schedule, and oh dear, her first class was Geometry. She absolutely hated math.

The bell rang, so Marley proceeded on over to Mrs. Bletham's class. She looked very old; on the verge of retirement. And here was the first crisis of the day: finding a seat. Usually everyone sat with their cliques. But something was different in this room.

A few jocks pressed Marley against the doorframe to go and claim seats in the back row.

"Get back here, boys!" Mrs. Bletham exclaimed. "It's assigned seating! Check the chart on the projector!"

Marley breathed in a sigh of relief. Assigned seating! The perfect way to avoid the stresses of not looking like a loner in class. Marley checked up on her name on the projector. She had a seat in the second row.

She took her seat and greeted her seatmates. One of them was actually a freshman. He looked really smart, though oddly enough, he didn't acknowledge her greeting. The two girls to Marley's left were both on the varsity volleyball team. They were chattering away about their impending win against Defiance High School. They didn't acknowledge Marley's existence either.

Joy to the world. Even in assigned seating, Marley was still a loner in class. The entire period was spent introducing themselves to Mrs. Bletham, signing their course disclosures, and taking a preliminary test to see where the students were in their mathematic mastery.

Most wimps were scared of freshman year. Jake wasn't. What's to be scared of? Those are the kinds of kids who think they need to get straight A's just to get into some state college. Psh. Some universities will take students with a 2.7. That's a C+ average. Super easy to maintain, so long as you don't take any honors classes, and make sure you get all the easy-going teachers.

Jake scowled at everyone who passed him by in the halls. All those kids. Smiling. Excited. Preppy. He was just angry.

Second period came, and Jake was in US History. Pointless subject unless you wanted to become president or something. He breezed through the whole class, not listening to anything that the teacher was saying about attendance policies or grading systems and whatever. None of that mattered. All that mattered was that, one day soon, Jake would get to express his feelings through music. He heard that the Glee Club won at Nationals last year; of which his half-brother Noah was included. Not that Noah even knew that he had a half-brother though.

Anyway, Jake was browsing through his iTunes library, looking for a song to audition with. He found one, 'Never Say Never' by The Fray. It was one of his favorite songs. Just something to close your eyes and sing to, and wake up feeling happier.

Seeing all those kids on the audition list was absolutely sickening, though. All those kids, signing up just to be a part of a winning team. Even to Jake, that was absolutely shallow. Most of the kids don't even like singing.

Physical Education. Right before lunch. Part of Kitty was excited. She had enough energy built up along the day to sustain running around the track. But that meant lunch was right after, and the only other opportunity to burn calories would be at Cheerios practice.

Sophomore PE was rather focused on running this year. By the end of the year, they would have to run three miles in 36 minutes. Totally doable. Except for those slow kids lagging behind.

Kitty and her friends finished three minutes early. They sat in the middle of the football field, just talking about the latest summer gossip. The one-night stands, the people who tried smoking for the first time, whoever started that brush fire along the highway by blasting some fireworks away on the 4th of July. Kitty was even having a nice chat with the volleyball girls.

"And so Hillary jumps up to block, and it right between her hands," said the team's sophomore libero.

"Well that couldn't have been more embarrassing than last year where that one girl spiked the ball right into your face, and you didn't even block it!" Kitty retorted.

"Well, if Kira had only jumped an inch higher, it wouldn't have hit me!" the libero joked. "At least our new outside hitters can actually hit the ball within the lines."

"Well your setter totally sucks," Kitty said. "I seriously think that she needs to be demoted back to the JV team."

"Too bad we don't have a JV cross-country team," said another girl. "Because seriously. I don't even know why some of them join the team. This one girl thinks that being on the team will look good on college applications."

"Puh-lease!" Kitty snorted!

Coach Beiste wasn't too happy about that congregation. "GIRLS! GET BACK TO RUNNING!" she exclaimed.

Kitty and her friends smirked, got up, and took a leisurely walk around the stadium, while the slow kids continued to finish their second-to-last lap.

Mrs. Rose waddled through the busy lunch line. All these kids, greedily shoving their way through the lines, cutting people to make their plates. She saw Marley get through the line swiftly, with a well-balanced entree on her tray. Well, of course. Marley had a lot of practice with evading the lunch line bullying in her other schools. But sadly, that sort of treatment doesn't end when it's with the lunch ladies.

"Boys, go to the back of the line," Mrs. Rose commanded, when two guys cut in front of a girl with Down Syndrome.

"Yeah, back of the line, or I'll cut you!" Becky shouted. "With scissors!"

Mrs. Rose smiled. The boys only seemed to listen to her. Well, the girl took the last of the whole-wheat rolls. Mrs. Rose took a tray of freshly-baked rolls out of the heater, and made her way towards the line.

"Excuse me, miss, why is there no bread here?" asked a blonde cheerleader.

"I'm coming; just hold on!" Mrs. Rose said hurriedly, squeezing past a couple of students to replace the pan.

"About time," the cheerleader lashed, snatching a pair of tongs out of Mrs. Rose's hand and taking a single roll, and putting it onto her plate next to her small clump of salad. It wasn't long before that girl came back, cut back into the middle of the line, and said, "You know what? I'm actually not in the mood for carbs." She tossed the roll back onto the pan.

"Health hazard, Mrs. Lunch Lady!" the swimming coach exclaimed, skipping past the line and walking over to the teachers' lounge.

Mrs. Rose sighed and tossed the roll into the trash. Sometimes, even adults can't escape bullying and peer pressure.

It was a pretty long week, but nonetheless, it was pretty eventful. Rachel had survived her first week of dance classes, and Kurt had moved to New York. Blaine was designated as the "New Rachel," though not to the ultimate agreement of Mr. Scheuster. Now that New Directions has eight members, they were already underway with vocal and dance rehearsals.

Even the other graduates seemed to be having a great time. Mercedes was struggling a bit with moving to Los Angeles, and starting her extension courses with UCLA. No one had heard from Puck yet. Whether he was on his way to Los Angeles, or still lurking around Lima, or somewhere in between, no one really knew. Mike started Dance 101 at Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, and unlike Rachel, he was actually doing pretty well in the class. Maybe it was just because his professor wasn't as cruel as Cassandra July. Santana was cheerleading for the Louisville Cardinals. It was pretty fun, cheerleading for a school who sports an Angry Birds mascot. Too bad the cardinal never does anything purposeful in the game, other than looking red hot. Quinn was already posting a lot of pictures on Facebook of her enjoying all of the Yale back-to-school festivities. No one had heard from Finn either. All anyone knew was that he was still alive, at least.

Tina and her mom sat at a table at the food court at the mall, enjoying a plate of Panda's Express food.

"I just can't believe I came in third," Tina sighed. "Blaine's gotten so much spotlight already. He's a great singer, but you'd think he'd be the one to realize that others need the spotlight more than him."

"Honey, I don't think anyone is more or less deserving of that lead position," her mom said. "Some of you seem to be flashing the talent card, or drawing the sympathy card."

"And what's wrong with that?" Tina said angrily. "I was one of the original five members of Glee Club. Everyone seems to think that even Finn and Brittany have been in Glee Club longer than I have, but that's not true. In fact, Mr. Scheu gave me a solo even before Rachel got one, and I was the one who gave it to her, knowing that she would have quit if I hadn't. I sat in the back for years, just watching everyone have their spotlight. And the only songs I ever sang after that were ones that I broke down on, boo'ed off stage, or a duet with Mike. Do you know how many times Rachel's gotten leads in competitions? Four solos, four duets and dual-lead group numbers, at least five group number leads, and not to mention she was the lead in Cabaret, Rocky Horror, and West Side Story. And whenever someone tried to take the spotlight, she claimed that she didn't have enough." She took a slight pause, catching her breath. "I'm not saying she didn't deserve it. She is phenomenal. But she literally got five times more than I ever got. I only got the female lead in 'ABC' and got some minor parts in 'Light up the World' and 'Edge of Glory.'" She took another brief pause, letting a piece of broccoli hang off her fork. "I just want to know when it's finally my turn. Rachel told me herself that I was the new lead female vocalist. No one seems to realize that I'm the most qualified now."

Her mom seemed very understanding. "I understand, sweetie. Just be patient. If you don't get at least a group number lead by Sectionals, you be sure to let Mr. Scheu know that it'll probably be your last chance."

Tina smiled. "Thanks, mom."

They both started digging into their chow mein and fried rice, before her mom peaked up over her plate. "So, have you finished your Common Application yet?"

Tina chuckled. "All the information is in there. I just have to write the essay. But don't worry, mom. Applications aren't due for several more months, and I don't plan on making any early decisions."

"Well, you never know," her mom said. "Quinn Fabray did early action and she got into Yale."