DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN GLEE OR ANY SONGS MENTIONED IN THIS STORY!
NOTES: If you don't like OC's, you won't like this. If you don't follow the HarmonVerse or DifferentVerse then you might be a little lost. For the rest or those willing to try it out... Here we go. Credit to the Owners of the OC's will be handed out at the end of the chapter.
GLEE: A DIFFERENT TAKE
Chapter 1- "Pro... Uhh... What's the word?"
William McKinley High School.
The Glee Club.
Yeah... That's about right.
:::::The Choir Room:::::
Every week - or, at times, every other week - Mr. Schuester dropped an assignment on the students. These assignments could range from mash-ups to ballads to competitions to anything really. The only definite limit being Mr. Schuester's imagination. So, if you finished up an assignment on Friday, you knew walking into the choir room on Monday meant something big was coming your way. Though, that phrase was never taken literally before.
"BIG!" Mr. Schuester yelled in a humorous voice, walking away from the white-board which had the word he said written in bold black marker.
"Must be talking about me," Puck smirked and everyone laughed, Jenn rolling her eyes as she sat next to her man.
"Okay, okay," Mr. Schuester reined them in, "Let's keep it PG, please?"
"Let's cut to the chase," Tina spoke up, sitting next to her boyfriend, Dylan Armstrong, "What does the word big have to do with this week's assignment?"
Mr. Schuester explained, "First off, let's examine the word as it relates to performances. A big number can be a whole range of different scenarios. It could be subtle. Maybe a heartbroken singer going acapella. Maybe a lot of instruments added to an otherwise normal song. Big dance numbers. Big audience interaction. The list goes on and on. But, at the heart of a successful big performance is this... When the audience is watching you perform, they have to literally feel the passion, the emotion. It has to impact them in some way, whether that be subtle or profound."
"So," he capped it off, "This week's assignment... Go Big or Go Home. I want creativity, heart, and I really want to feel your performance."
"Parameters?" Blaine asked.
"Not really any," Mr. Schuester shrugged his shoulders, "Only that... None of you can perform together. If you want more performers, they need to come from elsewhere."
Everyone was a bit surprised to hear that. You could also see the worries on their faces, especially Mitchell and Brittany. Rachel was also scrambling through thoughts to try and think of who she could ask. Of course, there was the solo path... In fact, why worry? A heartfelt big performance would be easy for her. Her bright and wide smile growing more so was a sign of her confidence boosting up.
"Really, Berry?" Miss Lopez spoke up, "Let me guess... Just by that look... Let's see... You're going to do a song where you're sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage with just one spotlight right on you, singing about some ginormous imaginary obstacle you have to overcome. And, just when it seems all hope is lost... You rally at the very end. So... Ballpark?"
The bright smile disappeared.
Jack absent-mindedly snickered to himself, which caused Rachel to scoff at someone she considered one of her closest friends. The snickering ceased immediately, followed by a clearing of the throat in a vain attempt to cover. At this point, Daniel had cocked a brow at Harmon.
This little exchange forced Mr. Schuester to consider something he previously hadn't. These kids knew themselves inside and out. They were well aware of their comfort zones and the exact size. Maybe what this assignment needed was a little spicing up. Therefore...
"It also has to be something no one would expect you to do," the Glee Director added abruptly, catching their attention like a worm on a hook, "At the very least something you're not known for. Or even something that you're not typically comfortable with. Take a chance."
"Wicked curve-ball, Mr. Schuester," Finn commented with a smirk, seated next to his girlfriend, Quinn.
Then came the all-too familiar toll of the school bell. Instantly, the students gathered their things in typical fashion and started out of the music room. But, not before Mr. Schuester quickly shut the door and stood in front of it.
Michelle gasped, walking with Sam by her side, "I've seen this movie before. Quick, there's a machete under the piano!"
A quick laugh.
"Listen; I want creativity out of you guys, all right? Not for nothing, but you guys have been slacking on your last few assignments."
Everyone briefly glanced at Puck. The football star took a step back, "What? That triangle solo was bad-ass and you know it!"
"You'll be happy to know; I already figured out what I'm doing for my performance."
Brittany, Santana, Mitchell and Blaine were all walking down the hallways of McKinley High School en route to the next class that they all shared. Along the way, Brittany had decided to announce to her friends that she had already dreamnt up her BIG performance. Of course, knowing Brittany, there was insanity right around the corner, just waiting to spring out and tag you...
"Already?" Blaine questioned.
"Yes," she nodded proudly, "Only thing I need now is a classically-trained elephant."
What in the world? Talk about a doozy... It doesn't get much doozier than that.
Santana tilted her head just a bit, "Ummm... Britt?"
Brittany paid no mind, "San? Do you mind if we stop at the Zoo this week? And... Mitchell, would it be cool if I borrowed 700 dollars? I promise to pay at least half of it back in the next five years."
"Uhhh..." Mitchell not quite sure how to answer that one, "I'm just gonna ask; Why pay only half back?"
"Silly," Brittany giggled innocently, "Where would I ever get 700 dollars? This way... You'll at least get 200 dollars back."
"C'mon," Santana walked her away, "I have to pick up a book in the stacks before we hit class."
"Brittany," Blaine shook his head after the two Cheerios walked off in the opposite direction, "Gotta love that girl."
"True," Mitchell agreed, before he and Blaine resumed the trek to their class, "And... Speaking of love... How about tomorrow night? Are you and Kurt still going to that Warbler Reunion?"
Blaine shrugged somewhat, his otherwise happy demeanor turning a little sour, "Maybe... Maybe not."
"What's up?" Mitchell wondered.
"It's complicated," Blaine replied with a sigh as they continued walking, "I hate to say it out loud, but... It feels like we're drifting apart."
Mitchell chuckled, "Yeah, right."
"It's true. I mean... We still love each other and it's not because we're fighting or anything like that. It's just... I don't know... Something feels off."
"Well," Mitchell patted Blaine on the back humorously, "I hope it all works out for you, Mr. Anderson."
Blaine perked up a little, "You know... I envy you, Mitchell. You're not bogged down by a complicated relationship or sweating over someone. You're completely focused, man. It's to be admired. Especially nowadays. And especially at a school like McKinley."
"Meh," it wasn't all sunshine and daisies, "I still have my share of problems."
"Name one," Blaine challenged.
Before Mitchell could answer properly, he was interrupted in the form of William McKinley High School's newest student; Mandy Maribelle Mason. Otherwise known as... Mitchell Marcus Mason's younger sister by two years. Now, to fully understand why this was a bonafide problem, you had to dig into Mitchell's past. And, quite frankly, there just wasn't enough time now to do so.
Mitchell quickly grabbed Blaine and pulled him into an empty class room to avoid his sister. Or... At least... He thought it was an empty class room...
"Can I help you two?" the teacher asked, a room full of students staring awkwardly at the two friends.
Go Big or Go Home.
Jack sat alone at the piano in the choir room pondering potential selections. Yet, as he did so, there was really only one image in his mind. One that was standing in front of the rest, blocking his creativity. That lone image belonged to the one and only Rachel Barbara Berry. Truly, the only girl that made Jack feel anything even close to substantial. His feelings for her were genuine. And, one could argue that she reciprocated - at least to some extent. However...
Finn 'Gigantor' Hudson.
Rachel was smitten with the barbaric brute. It spat in the face of all proper logic, but she was. It was obvious to all that she had a crush on the Quarterback. Had so ever since Freshman year. They were Juniors now. A mere year later and graduation would be upon them all. Time was wearing thin and running fast. And, as much as it pained him to admit, Jack could only concoct a finite number of schemes to try and win Miss Berry's elusive heart.
As for the advice of others...
His father, Kurt, Jenn, Miss Pillsbury and Rory, all told him to be honest and himself.
Michelle, Mercedes and Tina said love letters were the route to take.
Mitchell merely said to wait until the time was just right.
Puckerman said it would be best to fight fire with fire. Jack needed to zero in on Rachel's type and become that person completely.
Avery and the rest of the Potentials wondered if Jack should even bog himself down with a relationship in the first place.
The Cheerios Triple-Threat didn't seem to care enough to form a decent response.
Dylan said to follow his heart and fight the whole way.
However, as he gently strummed a melancholy harmony across the keys, Jack found himself unable to follow any of their advice. He needed something big to win Rachel's heart once and for good. And that's when it hit him... This week's assignment. He would craft the performance of a lifetime. One that would sweep Rachel off of her feet and guide her gently to his arms.
But, just as he was about to strike his victory pose...
"What in the name of Apple Brown Betty are you doing?" cue Jack's cousin, Diane. She didn't go to McKinley, but she visited enough to nearly warrant her name appearing on an attendance sheet in the office.
"I'll ask you the same question," he countered.
Diane sighed inwardly, sitting at the edge of the piano, fingertips dancing upon a few keys while answering her cousin's question that he never technically asked, "Bored."
"Bored," he repeated, "Why aren't you at your own school?"
"Why not, indeed," Diane with a counter of her own.
Oh hell, Jack didn't have the strength for a verbal volley match at the moment, "Well... Find someone else's sandbox to play in, I'm busy."
"Oh," she chuckled, "Ouch. I guess I'll pay a visit to that Puckerman boy. I hear he's..."
"Bah!" hard on the keys with an equally hard note, "Puckerman! Sadly, a man whom I'm jealous of."
"Okay," time to get to the bottom of this, "What the hell's going on, Jack? I mean, seriously."
Jack sighed inwardly, "I'm a man without love. A man without companionship," sad strokes on the keys, "A man defeated."
"Wha..." Diane was nearly breathless, "Okay... Who are you and where did you hide my cousin?"
What would she do?
Rachel paced the auditorium stage, trying to think of a grand performance. She really wanted to take this opportunity to not only impress Mr. Schuester, but the rest of New Directions. Yes, she knew that they knew she possessed a glowing talent. However, at the same time, she constantly felt a lack of respect, a lack of acceptance. They saw her as an annoying, know-it-all, Diva, and she wanted to change that perception.
Hence the pacing back and forth.
"I'd be careful," the unmistakeable voice of one Kurt Hummel, "You might burrow a groove in the floor."
Rachel looked up to have her suspicion confirmed. Yes, there was Kurt heading down the aisle from the top of the auditorium. He must have had the same idea that she did. The auditorium was always a great place to clear your head and nourish your creativity.
"Any ideas for your performance?" he asked curiously.
"Sadly, no," she answered, "You?"
"The same," Kurt sighed, "Nothing I can think of off the top of my head tickles my fancy. And... Not to sound abundantly conceited... How would I be able to top my most memorable Glee moments?"
"Quite the conundrum," she giggled, loving when Kurt would speak like that.
"Indeed," he stood next to her, "Which brings us as to why I'm here."
"I propose an off-the-books partnership," he explained, stopping Rachel before she could point out the obvious, "Listen, Mr. Schue only mentioned it being wrong for partners in performance. Nothing was said about preparation."
"True," seemed like a fine-print thing.
"So?" Kurt eagerly awaited her answer.
"Okay," Rachel hesitated no longer, "Sounds like a plan."
"Yes," a quick hug, "Our performances will be so big that everyone will have to look up to... Meh, not my best."
"No," Rachel agreed, "Anyway, when do we start?"
"Tonight would be good," Kurt said, "Tomorrow night, Blaine and I have the Warbler Reunion."
Rachel smiled, "Exciting."
Kurt tried in vain to stop himself from sighing, "Yeah..."
Rachel instantly picked up on it, "Spill it."
Kurt bit at his nails for just a second before shrugging, "What can I say? We're drifting."
"Impossible," she quickly denied the very idea, "You two are made for each other."
"It doesn't feel like we are," confession time, "At least... Not anymore."
"Not to worry, Mr. Hummel," Rachel fixed his collar just-so, "If there's problems with you and Blaine, then we'll simply have to fix them with your performance."
Tina, Daniel, Mercedes, Rory, Puckasauras, Artie and Sugar were all gathered together. A little bit of a brain-storming session, as they were all trying to give each other good performance ideas, after having heard Kurt and Rachel were doing the same thing. If Kurt and Rachel were scheming, then you definitely had to bring your A-Game. Not that it was a competition, but all the same.
"I'm telling you, it's the only way any of us have a chance," Puck spoke to the group, "We gotta pool our resources or we're gonna look horrible."
"Speak for yourself," Sugar never was short any confidence, "I already have something picked out."
"Really?" Mercedes questioned, "Already?"
"Yep," Sugar nodded confidently.
"What's it going to be?" Artie asked innocently.
"Wouldn't you just love to know?" Sugar teased.
"Question," Rory raised his hand, "I thought the whole idea behind this meeting was to share ideas? Not hoard them?"
"Good point," Daniel agreed, "So... I say... We lock her in a room with Leonidas until she talks."
"Who the hell is Leonidas?" Puck wondered.
"My pet lion," Daniel answered simply.
"You have a..." Wow, "Okay... Oddly... I believe it."
"You'd do that to Sugar?" Rory asked.
"Better yet... You'd do that to the lion?" Puck laughed, to which he received a death glare from the rich girl, "Sorry, Sugar."
"Let's focus," Tina kept them going on the right track, "Does anyone have any ideas that..."
"Question," Artie's turn, "Where's Dylan?"
Tina rolled her eyes, "Practice."
"And where's Jenn?"
Puck answered, "Hell if I know."
"Artie," Tina pointed her finger, "No conspiracy theories! Listen, we need to focus."
Yeah... Good luck with that, Tina.
:::::A Little Later:::::
"I gotta tell you; I have a really good feeling about this one. As long as everything goes according to plan, I believe the kids are going to come out on top of this challenge, feeling better than ever."
Emma couldn't help it, she loved seeing Will when he was excited like this. It was youthfulness that strangely suited him perfectly. It was his charm, his allure. It was one of the reasons that they were together now, enjoying dinner, just the two of them.
Emma smiled, "Look at you, you're like a kid at Christmas. Which... Is probably the most over-used comparison in US History, but... It's true."
"I can't help it," he really couldn't, "Have you ever just had a good feeling? I mean, you just knew that something you came up with is gonna go really good? Just... I don't know... I think this assignment is going to push the kids up to the next level. Open their minds to creativity, they might've never even realized that they had."
As of strangely on cue, Mitchell's cell phone just happened to ring. He noticed the number right away and smiled as he answered, "Marley Mar, what up, Homie?"
"Mitchell," the voice of Marley Rose, also a student at McKinley, and a friend, "Sorry I missed your call earlier, I got home a little late. Been busy. What did you wanna ask?"
Mitchell walked around his bedroom, juggling a foam basketball and bouncing it off the wall, missing the catch-back almost every time, "Yeah. Umm... This might sound a little dumb, but could you do me kind of a... Crazy favor?"
"Sure," a touch of apprehension, "What is it, though?"
"We have a special assignment in Glee," he explained, "I'm going to do a music video. Which, hopefully, will count... I haven't asked. Should I ask? I thought it would be a good idea to go with my gut, but now I'm kinda..."
"Mitchell," back on track, "Busy. Remember?"
"Oh, right, of course, okay," he cleared his throat, "Basically, would you be willing to be my co-star? It isn't going to be anything uncomfortable or wierd. Well... Weird in a sense, I guess. But, not, like, creepy weird, you know?"
"Sure," her answer, "Sounds fun. I gotta run, call me later, 'k?"
"Sweet, will do. Later, Mar."
"Sweet," Mitchell tossed his phone to his bed, "That was easy."
Much like he had earlier in school, Jack Harmon was once again seated at the piano. Albeit, this time, within the comfort of his own home. Still drawing blanks on his assignment in Glee, still struggling with his feelings for Rachel. Ugh, this was just so wrong. He was Jack Harmon. He didn't succumb to petty teenage feelings. He was rough and tough, impenetrable, hard like adamantium if the situation called for it.
Alas... Not this time.
Maybe it was the harsh reality that he had been ignoring his love for Rachel for too long. Even when he had the open opportunity to make a possible move, he didn't. Rachel was the dream. If he was to act on these feelings, then everything had to be perfect. He would have to move in very well thought-out and precise steps. Nothing out of line, nothing unaccounted for.
This next performance... This BIG performance. Yes, it was now or never. Of course, why didn't he realize it sooner? This could be the springboard. This could be just what he needed. An expression of truth, an expression of passion, of feeling. Through song, Jack would win over Rachel's heart. As noted, it would need to be perfect, absolutely so down to the very last note.
Yes, no more bottling it up. No more waiting in the shadows, hoping for an opening, afraid of taking the plunge. Jack Harmon was going to shoot for the stars.
:::::A DIFFERENT TAKE:::::
Jack and Diane belong to Soulless Warlock.
Dylan and Jenn belong to Cola Flavored Sherbet.
Daniel belongs to Gone Rampant.