SAUCE FOR THE GANDER
Set during Promosaurus. What if Rachel had not forgiven Finn so easily for the whole "taking Quinn to prom without telling her" mess? This is the story of how Rachel turns the tables on Finn with the aid of a certain miva who just cannot resist her, no matter how hard he tries.
"Have you heard about Hudson and Fabray?"
Rachel, deep in concentration as she grappled with her biology notes, felt her hair stand on end as the gossip of the two girls seated in front of her reached her ears. Those were two surnames she had thought she would never have to suffer hearing coupled together, not since she became engaged to the male half of that equation.
"Word is they're back together."
"Really? Wasn't he engaged to that short loud girl?"
"Must have come to his senses. Quinn's still the cream of the crop at McKinley, even if she is in a wheelchair, and that trumps a gleek. Anyhow, if you don't believe me, just check out the main hallway after class – their prom campaign posters are everywhere."
That was all Rachel needed to hear. Her hand shot up for bathroom break permission and within the same minute she was striding towards the hallway in question with a militant gleam in her eyes. In spite of what she had overheard, she was still shocked when she saw the huge poster displaying Finn and Quinn together with "King & Queen" boldly blocked across their images. At first she thought this must be one of the more imaginative cruel pranks to add to her high school torment record – that Quinn had reverted to her old ways and was messing with her mind. Then she realised Quinn was too smart to make such a claim if it wasn't true as she would look pretty pathetic when Finn immediately denied it.
But if this wasn't one of Quinn's schemes, that could only mean...
Rachel furiously tore down the poster and marched over to her boyfriend's locker, where he happened to be changing over his schoolbooks.
"Hey, did you know about this?" she demanded as she waved the poster in his startled face. "I know you knew about this because it was hung at eye level and I know Quinn couldn't reach up that high to put it there."
Finn made calming gestures with his hands. "Whoa, whoa, remember when I told you that if you come at me with the crazy all off the bat that my head goes all empty and I can't really – "
"This isn't crazy, this is mad, this is hurt." Rachel cried.
"This isn't a big deal," Finn replied in the kind of calm voice you would use to soothe a wild animal.
"Not a big deal? I'm going to have to watch my fiancé dance in front of the entire school with his ex-girlfriend at my senior prom."
"If you haven't noticed, Quinn can't dance. She just about died coming to our wedding. She asked me if I would campaign with her and I figured it was the least I could do for our friend. I can't believe how selfish you're being."
Selfish? Finn commits himself to take his ex-girlfriend to the most important dance of their high school career in the most public way possible without giving any warning to his current girlfriend – no, scrap that, fiancé – and she is being selfish for making an objection? He knew how important this dance was to her – after that disastrous audition for NYADA had obliterated all her showbiz dreams, she had told him how she was going to focus on smaller, realer dreams that could be achieved, such as graduation, Nationals and more immediately – prom.
It was not even that she seriously thought he was still in love with Quinn (although she was not as convinced Quinn was as indifferent to him), it was just that it seemed like whenever a friend needed a favour from him, whether it be Puck asking him to start a pool business in California or Quinn wanted to score some ridiculous piece of rhinestone and tin to perch on top of her blonde skull – those people and their needs were always more important than hers. Even when she and Kurt had been running against each other for School President, he would not promise to vote for her but felt his allegiance to his stepbrother was stronger than to his girlfriend. And always, he made her feel selfish for not agreeing immediately to his plans.
Rachel took a deep breath as an icy calm settled over her. She loved Finn (she did!) but sometimes she just wanted to take his head and beat her point of view into it, to make him feel what she feels. Words were no use – he just wrote them off as "her crazy". It would take drastic measures to get her point across but if she and Finn were going to spend a lifetime with each other, this was a lesson he needed to learn.
"You know Finn," Rachel said in a more controlled voice, "my great Aunt Velma had an old saying; what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
"Sauce? Why are we talking about cooking? Are we finished with the prom talk, then? That's cool because I've got to get to practice." He leaned down and kissed her cheek. "I'll see you in Glee."
Rachel stood frozen in the hallway as he walked away, her mind busily clicking away with a plan of attack. Her eyes scanned the poster in her hands, struck by the déjà vu of Finn and Quinn on a prom campaign poster, just like their junior prom.
Just like junior prom... when she had gone with Jesse St James. Rachel's mouth curled up into a evil smirk that would have gotten a thumbs-up from Santana Lopez herself.
She needed to get to her computer immediately – she had a powerpoint presentation to make.
GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE /
"You call that a high C? Get off my stage, you miserable excuse for a soprano," Jesse barked. The young boy stared at him in terror for a few seconds before bolting away like a frightened bunny. "That goes for the rest of you as well – go home and don't come back here until you improve enough that it doesn't make my stomach turn to witness your dismal performance." The Vocal Adrenaline members were just as quick to take their leave, groaning in pain at their exhausted muscles that had been pushed past the point of endurance by the 4 hour rehearsal. And to think they had thought Shelby Corcoran was a slave driver – she was a peach compared to Jesse St James.
"What is his problem?" a sophomore groaned to a senior. "You used to know him when he was one of us – was he always such a dick?"
"Nah, he's just in a bad mood," his fellow member answered.
"Yeah, going on 9 months now," another chipped in.
Back in the Carmel Auditorium, Jesse ran a hand through his wavy hair, something he did when he was nervous or frustrated. He knew he was probably coming down on his performers too hard, but it was so infuriating to watch these kids sing the lyrics and dance the steps and know that he could do it so much better than them. He sighed, pushing down that feeling in his gut that told him he should be on that stage, not in the shadows. There would be time for that, he promised himself, but for now Vocal Adrenaline had to win Nationals. He could not fail at this, not when his job was the only thing he had left in his life to be passionate about. A win at Nationals from a director of his young age would surely get the attention of people in the Industry and could open the doors he needed to go onto the fame he so richly deserved.
I used to think that fame was the only thing that mattered, and then I realised there was something that mattered to me more – you.
Yeah, right. See what that got him – a position as the assistant choir director that nobody listened to and watching the girl he thought cared for him kiss her oafish ex-boyfriend in front of the whole world. At least he was done with that embarrassing episode of his life, considering he had heard she was now engaged to said oaf. He also learned she had flubbed her NYADA audition, which he had felt some pained sympathy for – been there, done that. He hoped she had the good sense to choose some back-up schools for that eventuality, but knowing Rachel's all or nothing mentality, he wouldn't be surprised if she had thought in her overconfidence that would be unnecessary.
Just then his phone buzzed and without checking the caller ID he answered, "Go for St James."
"Jesse?" He almost dropped the phone when he recognised her melodious voice. He gaped in disbelief. "Rachel?"
"Jesse, I need your help. Can you meet me tonight?"
Fight it, St James, Jesse scolded himself. Don't give in. "Rachel, I don't think..."
"Please, Jesse. Please."
"I'll be there in an hour."
GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE /
Fool. Idiot. Moron.
"Jesse, are you alright?" Rachel asked anxiously as her companion slowly beat his head against the wooden table. "Could you please stop doing that? The other patrons are starting to look at us."
"So let me get this straight," Jesse said wearily as he sat back in the diner booth and stared at his infuriating (but still gorgeous) ex. "The help you so desperately need is for me to take you to your senior prom to make your fiancé jealous?"
"I think the 20 point presentation I just gave made that abundantly clear." Rachel scrutinized Jesse with concern. He was not usually so slow on the uptake. Actually, he had always been particularly adept at following her thought processes, often beating her to her own conclusion. "Would you like me to go over the pie chart again?" she asked helpfully.
"Rachel, I have absolutely no interest in becoming another plot device in this pointless telenovella you're living in."
"It is not pointless," Rachel protested mulishly. "As I explained at point 17, it is essential for my future happiness with Finn that he understands the effect his actions have on others – more specifically, me. I know this all sounds like some grand revenge scheme, but it is not! I am simply trying to make my feelings known by means of a performance based drama with real life applications. Finn will be a better man for it, I assure you."
"Have you ever thought of – I don't know – just telling him how you feel?"
"He doesn't listen to me," Rachel blurted out angrily.
"Well, that sounds like a healthy relationship," Jesse jibed as he chased down his coke.
"Please, Jesse. It's just one night. It'll be fun, even."
"Yes, I wouldn't use "fun" as the word to describe the McKinley High proms. My own personal experience would lean more towards "violent" and "mortifying". Of course, you would know this if you had bothered to follow me out after I got evicted from your last prom."
Rachel had the grace to look ashamed. "I always meant to apologise to you for that," Rachel admitted. "I just didn't know what to do and Quinn was so upset with me – I just wanted to reassure her that I never meant for that whole silly fight to happen but then she slapped me and we had this heart to heart and by the time I remembered you it was too late. I tried to find you but you were gone." That's because I was doubled up in pain after Finn sucker punched me as soon as Coach Sylvester's back was turned, Jesse thought wrathfully, remembering the surprise blow to his stomach the quarterback had laid on him for daring to take his ex-girlfriend to the dance. He had spent the next hour in the bushes, puking up his pasta special, before crawling to his car to beat an ignoble retreat.
"So you forgot about me, huh? Kind of like how you forgot about me last year when you kissed Finn on the stage at Nationals?"
"Finn kissed me," Rachel said in a small voice. "I never meant for that to happen."
"Well, you sure seemed happy to go with it, even if his moron actions did cost you placing at Nationals and made you a Youtube joke. And now you've signed on to be Mrs Moron, judging from the rumours and that cubic zirconia on your finger. Congratulations – you've really done well, hitching your star to his wagon. Why at this rate, you'll have 3 kids before you're 22 while your loving husband is jockeying for that assistant mechanic position at the tire factory." He waited for Rachel to furiously deny his predictions, to assert her certain future as a rising star.
Instead she did not move a muscle, just looked at him with the saddest eyes ever and replied "There is nothing wrong with a small town life."
Jesse stared at her in shock. "Nothing wrong...? Rachel, what happened to you? Where's the Rachel that counted down all the roles she would play on Broadway?"
"She grew up," the brunette snapped. "She had her dreams shattered when the one thing she had always relied on, her talent, betrayed her when she needed it most." Rachel took a deep breath as she wiped away a pesky tear. "I've moved on from those pipe dreams, Jesse. Now I need to concentrate on what I have and make the best of it."
A whole slew or protests and counter arguments were on the tip of Jesse's tongue but he held them back. He was silent for long enough to make Rachel fidget nervously. Just when she had despaired of his co-operation, he finally spoke. "Okay, I'll help you."
Rachel blinked. "You will?"
"Jesse, I... thank you. Truly, Jesse, I can't... thank you so much." She shook her head ruefully. "I know I don't deserve your kindness."
"No, you don't." Jesse agreed, taking out some notes from his wallet to cover the bill and standing up. "I'll pick you up at 7 next Friday."
Rachel nodded rapidly. "Of course, I will naturally be perfectly groomed at that time and awaiting your arrival. Would you like some money for gas? It is a fair drive from Carmel to Lima and as I remember your Range Rover requires a shockingly wasteful amount of fuel so I would be more than happy to contribute..." Jesse just rolled his eyes as he walked away from her mico-managing spiel, throwing a wink to the waitress who had been eyeing him all night.
He was just driving away when he heard a voice float across the parking lot, yelling words that sounded vaguely like "PINK BOUTINIERRE!"
GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE / GLEE /
It was the day before prom when the excrement collided with the electric rotating device, so to speak. Finn had noticed that Rachel had been somewhat distant with him since their spat in the hallway, but at least she had not mentioned prom to him since that first time. He had even tentatively broached the subject himself, asking what time she would like him to pick her up (because of course he intended to be dancing with her when he wasn't doing the prom king and queen stuff with Quinn) but she had just looked at him with disinterested eyes and told him she had made her own arrangements. He couldn't wait for this stupid dance to be over with so he and Rachel could get back to the way they were before – he hadn't had any action from her since this whole prom thing blew up.
It had been a weird week, actually. For the last few days his friends had been giving him strange looks, whispering to each other while looking at him, asking him how he was feeling. It kind of reminded him of that time when everybody knew Quinn was having Puck's baby and he was the last to know. He hated that feeling.
He was not kept in suspense for much longer, thanks to one Santana Lopez who delighted in being the bearer of bad tidings, especially when the recipient was one Finn "Orca" Hudson.
"Hey Tubs, don't you know you're not supposed to relive your high school experiences until you're at least 30 and have failed at everything you ever attempted and you're suddenly realising that your life is never going to get any better?"
"What are you talking about, Santana? And my name is not 'Tubs'."
"Then why did you answer to it? And I'm talking about how you and your hobbit wifey-to-be are totally regressing, what with you and Quinn being all Mr & Mrs Prom Queen and Berry hauling the Mr Shue wannabe in her wake." Finn gave her his most irritating constipated look as he tried to comprehend what she had said.
"Don't blow a gasket on my account, Hudson. Let me break it down in a way you can understand." She held up one finger. "RACHEL". She held up the other finger. "JESSE". She then turned the first 'Rachel' finger into a circle by meeting her thumb and poked the 'Jesse' finger through the circle. Repeatedly. "PROM".
Finn's face was a mask of shock and horror. "That's not true! That's impossible! Who told you that?"
"I got that straight from the horse's mouth. She's in the choir room right now." Finn gawked at her for a second and then broke into a sprint. "And yes, that was a reference to her nose," Santana yelled after him.
"Rachel," Finn panted as he raced through the choir room door. She was seated in her usual chair, leafing through some sheet music, not even raising her head at his arrival. "What's going on?"
"Could you be more specific, Finn? At this current moment what is going on is we are waiting on Mr Shue to join us for Glee practice. How that man expects us to win Nationals when his chronic lack of punctuality cuts into our rehearsal time is beyond me."
"I'm talking about this crazy rumour that Jesse St James is taking you to prom," Finn said impatiently. He noticed that none of the New Directions members were meeting his eyes, which gave him a very bad feeling about this whole thing.
"Oh, are you just hearing about that?" Rachel asked innocently. "It's been common knowledge for a while. I would have thought someone would have told you by now."
"Someone would have... why didn't you tell me? And why are you going to our senior prom with St Jerk?"
"To answer your first question, I know how you believe that hearing your fiancé is going to a couples event with their ex is something that should be announced on a 5 by 3 foot poster in a public hallway, but I've been so darn busy with my song selections I didn't have time to make one up so I just relied on the McKinley gossip grapevine to notify you of the fact."
Finn heard a muffled chuckle to his left and gave a quick glare at Puck, who turned it into a cough.
"And secondly, I was thinking about how you said it was selfish of me to be thinking about my own feelings and possible social embarrassment when there was an opportunity available to help a friend and make up for pain we had unwittingly caused that friend in the past. Which is why Jesse is the perfect choice to escort me to the prom, for you and I have certainly mistreated him quite shockingly, when you take into account last year's prom and the whole Nationals debacle. I am hoping by giving him the perfect prom experience he was denied last year, it will go some way to make amends. Much like you and Quinn," Rachel pointed out with a bright smile. Finn stared at his fiancé in a kind of bewildered stupor. "Ah, I believe Mr Shue has finally arrived. Take your seat now, honey," she said, pulling on his hand. Finn dropped unthinkingly into his seat, wondering if this strange numbness was what a heart attack led with.
"So guys, are we ready to get to work on our show-stopping routine?" Mr Shue asked as he walked through the door.
"Sorry, Mr Shue, but you've just missed the main event," Kurt said as he smirked at his best friend. "Anything else will be an anti-climax." Finn really had mangled this prom situation terribly, it was nice to see Rachel standing up for herself against him. "Brava, Diva," he whispered in her ear.
A.N. I'm thinking this will be a two-parter. Hope you enjoyed – please review.