Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. All rights go to RIB and Fox. I also don't own RENT; all rights go to Jonathan Larson.

A/N: I'm sorry this chapter took so long-I was hoping to have it done sooner but I've had exams so I haven't had as much time to write as I would have liked. I won't make any promises for the length of this chapter, since the last one turned out to be so long. This chapter will have Mandy's art showcase (and a new romance for Mandy), Emberly meeting Kym for the first time, John and Nettie's first date, a little bit of Ace and Alex and revealing who got the parts in RENT.

Chapter 5: The Art of Love

Emberly's POV

I shouldn't be nervous about meeting Kym. Or at least this is what I tell myself as I am looking over my outfit in the mirror for the zillionth time that Saturday morning. I mean, I've had a relationship with her for years, so meeting her should be less scary than meeting Jesse who I'd never heard from before but it isn't. Finally convincing myself that I look okay, I go downstairs.

"Hey stranger, where've you been the last two weeks? I swear I haven't seen you aside from at glee meetings" Finn says.

"We spend time together all the time, dad" I say.

"Actually we used to. But you've been distant for the past few weeks and I don't know why" he says.

"I'm a teenager Dad, we have been known to be distant from time to time" I say shrugging.

"You're hiding something Ember. You know you can tell me anything" he says.

"Dad I'm fine" I say.

"So how about we go for a run together this afternoon?" he asks.

"I can't Dad, I'm busy" I say.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"I'm hanging out with Jamie (A/N: her boyfriend) this afternoon" I say.

"Can't you reschedule? You guys have been doing things together every day for the past two weeks" he says.

"NO I CAN'T RESCHEDULE!" I yell.

"Calm down Ember. It's fine we can do something together tomorrow" he says.

"I'm sorry Dad, my plans for today are really important to me. But I would like to do something with you" I say.

"So maybe we could go on that run tomorrow?" he asks.

"I would love that" I say.

"You do realise that if you get a part in RENT then you're going to have to cut down on the daily get togethers with your boyfriend?" he says.

"Does that mean I got a part?" I ask.

"Just because you're my daughter doesn't mean you get to find out before everyone else. Besides I haven't heard everyone's RENT songs yet. What are you planning to do?" he asks.

"It's not like you can work on it with me. After all you don't want to be biased. Even though we both know I'm ten times better than all of the other girls who auditioned" I say.

"I think I'll be the one who decides that. That wasn't my question, I asked you which song you were going to do. Your mom can practice it with you, she'll be better than me anyway" he says.

"I can't decide between La Vie Boheme, Goodbye Love or Rent" I say.

"Well if I were you I'd go for Goodbye Love, since it's the least obvious choice out of the three although I'd imagine that most of the girls who are auditioning for Joanne will do Take Me Or Leave Me for their song, so you're probably safe with any of the three" he says.

"Thanks Dad" I say.

"No problem. There's no law against me giving you advice on what to choose, even if I can't help you with it" he says.

"I promise I'll try and spend more time with you" I say.

"I'd like that honey" he says giving me a hug.

"I'd like that too" I say.

I have to take the bus to Jesse's parents' house because I only have my learner's permit. It sucks being fifteen. I'm smiling the entire way there, but it's my nervous smile not my happy smile. I can't help thinking that Kym is going to hate me. I mean we don't know each other all that well, she might find that we she actually meets me that she hates me. At least Jesse's parents are out for the day-after all he basically admitted that they hate me and they don't even know me.

I have to remind myself to stop doing my nervous smile when I walk up to the door of the house. The door is answered by a woman who looks uncannily like me. We don't have the same nose (I still have no idea where I got it from), but we have the same red hair (although hers doesn't have the same blonde lowlights as mine) and has the same green eyes. She's a little taller than I am but not by much.

"Kym?" I ask.

"I have been waiting so long for this" she says happily. She steps forward to give me a hug, and after an awkward moment I settle into her embrace.

"I'm so glad you wanted me to come here" she says.

"If you've been looking forward to seeing me for so long then why has it taken you this long?" I ask.

"I haven't been down this way" she says.

"In fifteen years? You haven't been to Ohio in sixteen years?" I ask.

"I wasn't sure you wanted to see me" she says.

"Well you thought wrong" I say.

"Jesse says you're auditioned for RENT" she says.

"It's just my school musical. It's nothing big. " I say.

"That's how I started. Besides as it happens, the play my troop is doing is RENT" she says.

"Really? You're not just saying that?" I ask.

"Yes really. I'm playing Maureen" she says.

"I'm going out for Joanne" I say.

"Did your audition go well?" she asks.

"I think so, but I still have to do a RENT song" I say.

"You have another RENT audition? Like a callback?" Jesse asks, coming into the hall with a cinnamon espresso, a cappuccino and a hot chocolate. Kym takes the cappuccino from him and seems to blush as her fingers brush against Jesse's.

"Sort of, Dad made our assignment for Glee this week songs from RENT and he's going to decide who gets the parts out of the people from Glee who auditioned based on how we sing our RENT song" I say.

"Have you decided which song yet?" he asks.

"Dad suggested I do Goodbye Love" I say.

"That's a great song. Do you need help practicing?" he asks.

"Yeah that would be great" I say.

"How about now?" he asks.

"But I don't have the music" I say.

"I do" he says, putting his espresso down and putting his IPod in the docking station in the living room. A few minutes later Kym enters.

"Just getting some chocolate for my cappuccino" she says.

"Sorry I forgot that was the way you liked it" Jesse says.

"It's alright, it's been a long time" she says. There is an awkward silence, where they both just stare at each other. You could cut the sexual chemistry in this room with a knife.

"Ember just wanted to practice her RENT song" Jesse says.

"Which one? I could use the practice for tonight's show" Kym says.

"Goodbye Love" I say.

"You have good taste, that's one of my favourites" she says.

"I remember. You said that in one of your emails about three years ago" I say smiling.

"You have a good memory" she says.

"Can we just sing?" I ask.

"Sure" Kym says.

Emberly:

It's true you sold your guitar and bought a car?

Jesse:

It's true-I'm leaving now for Santa Fe, it's true you're with this yuppie scum.

Kym:

You said you'd never speak to him again

Emberly:

Not now

Kym:

Who said that you'd have any say in who she says things to at all?

Jesse:

Yeah!

Emberly:

Who said that you should stick your nose in other people's…..

Kym:

Who said I was talking to you?

Emberly:

We used to have this fight each night

Jesse:

Calm down

Emberly:

She'd never admit I existed

Jesse:

Everyone please

Kym:

He was the same way-he was always "run away-hit the road don't commit" you're full of shit

Emberly:

She's in denial

Kym:

He's in denial

Emberly:

You gave an inch when I gave a mile

Jesse:

Come on

Kym:

I gave a mile

Jesse:

Gave a mile to who?

Come on guys chill!

Kym and Emberly:

I'd be happy to die for a taste of what Angel had: someone to live for-unafraid to say I love you

Jesse:

All your words are nice Mimi but love's not a three way street you'll never share real love until you love your self-I should know

Kym:

You said you'd be cool today so please for my sake…..

I can't believe he's gone

I can't believe you're going

I can't believe this family must die

Angel helped us believe in love I can't believe you disagree

Kym, Jesse and Emberly:

I can't believe this is goodbye

Emberly:

I hear there are great restaurants out west

Jesse:

Some of the best, how could she?

Kym:

How could you let her go?

Emberly:

You just don't know…..how could we lose Angel?

Jesse:

Maybe you'll see when you stop escaping your pain at least now if you try Angel's death won't be in vain

Kym:

His death is in vain

Jesse:

Are you insane? There's so much to care about there's me there's Mimi

Emberly:

Mimi's got her baggage too

Kym:

So do you

Jesse:

Who are you to tell me what I know. What to do

Kym:

A friend

Emberly:

But who Mark, are you? "Mark has got his work" they say "Mark lives for his work" and "Mark's in love with his work" Mark hides in his work

Jesse:

From what?

Kym:

From facing your failure, facing your loneliness facing the fact that you live a lie. Yes, you live a lie

Tell you why

You're always preaching not to be numb when that's how you thrive you pretend to create

And observe when you really detach

From feeling alive

Jesse:

Perhaps it's because I'm the one of us to survive

Emberly:

Poor baby

Jesse:

Mimi still loves Roger

Is Roger still jealous or afraid that Mimi's weak

Kym:

Mimi did look pale

Emberly:

Mimi's gotten thin

Mimi's running out of time

Roger's running out the door-

Kym:

No more! Oh no I've gotta go

Jesse:

Hey! For someone who's always been let down who's heading out of town?

Emberly:

For someone who longs for a community of his own, who's with his camera alone?

I'll call. I hate the fall

You heard?

Kym:

Every word. You don't want baggage without lifetime guarantees. You don't want to watch me die?

I just came to say

Goodbye love, goodbye love

Came to say goodbye love, goodbye

Just came to say

Jesse:

Glory

Kym:

Goodbye love

Jesse:

One blaze of

Emberly:

Goodbye love

Jesse:

Glory

Kym:

Goodbye love goodbye

Jesse:

I have to find

Emberly:

Please don't touch me understand I'm scared I need to go away

Jesse:

I know a place, a clinic

Kym:

A rehab?

Emberly:

Maybe could you?

Jesse:

I'll pay

Emberly:

Goodbye love

Goodbye love

Just came to say goodbye love

Goodbye love, goodbye love, goodbye love

Hello disease

"Wow you guys sound eerily similar" Jesse says.

"Yeah my dad said that as well" I say. I think I see a slight look of hurt cross Jesse's face but what does he expect? I've only known him for a couple of weeks; I can't call him Dad yet. It's not like I call Kym Mom.

"Well if you sing as well as that when you perform that song to your dad then you'll be fine" Kym says.

"I've been trying to convince her that coming to New York would be the best thing for her career" Jesse says.

"She's not going to want to leave her mom and dad Jesse" Kym replies.

"I haven't decided what I want to do yet" I say.

"You don't have to go to a fancy school to be in the arts, all you need is to be insanely talented. I didn't go to college, I just auditioned for every part going until I got one" Kym says.

"Not going to college is not an option. At least not for my parents anyway" I say.

"Have you looked at performing arts schools in Ohio?" she asks.

"If I was going to go anywhere I'd go to the one my mom works at" I say.

"Why don't you then?" Kym asks.

"I never really thought about going to performing arts high school. Mom never did and she got into a great college and had a great career on Broadway" I say.

"Maybe you should talk to your parents about it, if it's something you really want to do" Kym says.

"It would be nice, being surrounded by kids who are as talented as I am" I admit.

"What would your dad say though? Don't you go to the school he teaches at?" she asks.

"I don't know. All I can do is ask right?" I say.

"Right" she says.

"Does your mom know you're meeting me today?" she asks.

"No. Neither does my dad if you're wondering" I say.

"Do they not want you to see me?" she asks.

"They would be fine with me seeing you, it's Jesse that they would have a problem with" I say.

"And by they, you mean your dad" Kym says.

"Well yeah. I still haven't told them I've been seeing Jesse so I couldn't tell them that I was seeing you today or I would have had to tell them about Jesse" I say.

"You realise you can't keep the fact that you're seeing us a secret forever don't you?" she asks.

"Of course I have but I just haven't figured out how to tell my parents yet. I will tell them. Eventually. Anyway can we talk about something else now?" I say.

"How about we watch a movie together? And maybe later you could come and see my show?" Kym suggests.

"A movie sounds great. As it happens I brought something with me" I say pulling a DVD out of my bag. I don't tell them what it is, I just slide it into the player.

The footage of one of the Jekyll and Hyde shows they did where Kym played Emma starts to play on the screen.

"Emberly….." Kym starts to say something but I interrupt her.

"Just trying to remind you of the old magic. Now I'm going to go get some popcorn because no movie is the same without popcorn" I say backing out of the room.

Okay so I don't really go to get popcorn, I lean on the wall outside the living room to listen in to what they are saying now I am not there. After all, the entire point of me getting them to meet up was so that they might reconnect.

"You realise what she's doing don't you?" Jesse says.

"Yeah, she's trying to get us back together" Kym replies.

"It's not like that's ever going to happen" he says.

"Why? I had to say I was pleased when Ember said in her email that you missed me. I've missed you too" she replies.

"Because….." he says.

"Because what? Because it's been too long? Because we're different people now than we were back then?" she asks.

"Because we don't know each other, at least not really. It's been fifteen years since we last went out and we didn't date, we literally just hooked up" he says.

"That's what dating is for Jesse. To get to know each other. We can do it right this time. Besides we would have stayed together, you know we would, if I hadn't got pregnant" she says. I can't deny that comment hurts me a little.

"Kym, you'll be leaving for another city in another state after this weekend-Ember mentioned tomorrow's show was your last one in Ohio" he says.

"Why does that matter?" she says.

"Because we're performers-you're going to go wherever the job takes you and so am I. We're never going to be in the same place at the same time" he says.

"We're in the same place at the same time right now" she says.

"I missed you Kym" he says.

"I missed you too" she replies. I hear them kissing through the wall and so I get up and go to get the popcorn. I'm not sure if I want to hear what happens next.

A few minutes later, I come back with the popcorn. I don't hear anything from the living room, so I decide the coast must be clear. I open the door and scream, dropping the bowl of popcorn. Jesse and Kym are having sex on the couch and his bare butt is entirely exposed to me.

"Oh my gosh Ember!" Kym says pushing Jesse off her and covering herself up with a sofa throw.

"I'm glad you guys are back together and everything, so I think I'm going to go and let you…uh be alone" I say.

"Ember….." Jesse says.

"No it's fine, I'll just go" I say carefully making my way across the room with closed eyes so I can get my DVD.

"Are you still going to come to the play this evening?" Kym asks.

"Of course. I'm just never going to get that image out of my head" I say. Then I run out of the house slamming the door behind me.

Mandy's POV

I wasn't sure about this art showcase at first but it's actually been quite fun. I've been able to see lots of other young artists' work and people seem to like mine as well. Maybe Nettie was right after all, this was a good idea of hers. Besides, having to paint so much has taken my mind off Mandy and the hurt look on her face when I rejected her. I kind of hoped that she would realise that while she is comfortable with her sexuality and who she is, I'm still getting used to this whole liking girls thing. I miss her though and I can't stop thinking about her. I have to tell myself to stop thinking about her. I made my choice and it's not like she's going to give me another chance. I just have to move on and find someone else.

"Wow this is incredible" a voice says behind me. I turn to face the person who spoke, a tall guy with dark hair and eyes and the sexiest smile I've ever seen.

"Thank you, I'm the artist" I say.

"Well that's understandable, a painting of this beauty could only have been painted by someone equal of its beauty" he says.

"You're quite the smooth talker" I say.

"Girls seem to like it" he says shrugging.

"I still don't have your name though" I say.

"My name's Eric Owens" he says holding out his hand for me to shake.

"Mandy Puckerman" I say shaking his hand.

"So Mandy Puckerman, how long have you been painting for?" he asks.

"Since I was little, I've always loved to paint. I do a lot of street art, as well as canvas painting" I say.

"You have a lovely style, reminds me of early Picasso" he says.

"You like art?" I ask.

"I love it. I did Art History as one of my modules in college" he says.

"You're in college?" I ask.

"Just graduated actually. I start my first teaching job on Monday-well it's an assistant job but I'm hoping that soon I'll get a proper teacher job" he says.

"What subject are you going to be the assistant for?" I ask.

"English-I love Art but I have to say books are my passion" he says.

"I love reading too-who's your favourite author?" I ask.

"Jane Austen-I know her books are old but they're classics for a reason" he says.

"I like Austen but I have to say I prefer Charlotte Bronte. You can't beat Jane Eyre when it comes to classic books" I say.

"I'm not sure I would have taken you for a Bronte fan" he says.

"I wouldn't have taken you for an Austen fan either, most guys aren't" I say.

"I guess I'm the exception to the rule" he says.

"So we've established you like art and books, what about music?" I ask.

"I love music, mainly soul and jazz but I like some classic rock as well" he says.

"I like music too-I'm in the glee club at my high school" I say.

"How old are you?" he asks.

"I'm sixteen. And you?" I say.

"Twenty two" he says.

"My parents would hate that I find a guy who's so much older than me attractive" I say.

"So you find me attractive?" he asks.

"Don't you find me attractive?" I ask.

"Absolutely, you're the prettiest girl I've ever met" he says.

"Where did you go to college?" I ask, changing the subject pretty abruptly. If I didn't then I probably would have kissed him and I can't do that in front of so many people that I know.

"Southern Connecticut State University" he says.

"So you're from Connecticut?" I ask.

"Yeah, I lived in Bridgeport" he says.

"Why did you come to Ohio then? Why not just get a job in a school in Connecticut? Not that I'm not glad you're here" I say.

"This job opened up, the pay was good, and I'd have been an idiot not to take it" he says.

"How long have you been in Lima?" I ask.

"I just moved here last week, I start my job on Monday" he says.

"So I'm guessing you haven't seen much yet?" I ask.

"No, not really" he says.

"Maybe I could show you around sometime" I say.

"I'd like that" he says.

"Do you want to go somewhere a little more…private?" I ask.

"Lead the way" he says. So I leave my painting and we walk towards the ladies bathroom together. He places me on the counter with the sinks but before we can start making out, all the lights go out.

"I'd better go get a candle" I say.

"Hurry back" he replies. I walk out into the darkened restaurant.

"What happened?" I ask turning to try and see anyone I might possibly recognize.

"It's a citywide blackout. They're setting up candles now so that everyone can still see the art" a voice says behind me but I have no idea who it belongs to.

"Okay well do you know where the candles are?" I ask.

"In the drawer underneath the cash register" the voice says. Luckily I know this place pretty damn well, so even in the dark I find the drawer and take out a candle and a box of matches before returning to the bathroom.

"I got us a candle" I say.

"Kind of reminds me of that song from Rent, what's it called?" he asks.

"Light My Candle. I love that song! Hey I need to practice a song from Rent for my audition for the school musical. Do you want to sing it with me? Wait can you sing?" I ask.

"I can sing a little" he says.

"Great" I say. I don't mention that the reason I want to sing this song is because it's quite flirty-I probably won't even do it for our assignment.

I jump off the counter, placing the candle where I used to sit.

"Where are you?" I ask.

"Right here" he says. I follow his voice to find where he is. He wraps his arms around me and we start to dance together as we sing. We probably should have lit the candle before we started dancing but it's kind of more romantic this way even if we bang into things. He starts singing.

Eric:

What'd you forget?

Mandy:

Got a light?

Eric:

I know you?-You're-

You're shivering

Mandy:

It's nothing

They turned off my heat

And I'm just a little

Weak on my feet

Would you light my candle?

What are you staring at?

Eric:

Nothing

Your hair in the moonlight

You look familiar

Can you make it?

Mandy:

Just haven't eaten much today

At least the room stopped spinning

Anyway. What?

Eric:

Nothing

Your smile reminded me of—

Mandy:

I always remind people of—who is she?

Eric:

She died. Her name was April

Mandy:

It's out again

Sorry about your friend

Would you light my candle?

Eric:

Well—

Mandy:

Yeah. Ow!

Eric:

Oh the wax—it's—

Mandy:

Dripping! I like it—between my—

Eric:

Fingers. I figured….

Oh, well. Goodnight

It blew out again?

Mandy:

No—I think that I dropped my stash

Eric:

I know I've seen you out and about

When I used to go out

Your candle's out

Mandy:

I'm illin'—

I had it when I walked in the door

It was pure—

Is it on the floor?

Eric:

The floor?

Mandy:

They say I have the best ass below 14th street

Is it true?

Eric:

What?

Mandy:

You're staring again

Eric:

Oh no.

I mean you do—have a nice—

I mean—You look familiar

Mandy:

Like your dead girlfriend?

Eric:

Only when you smile.

But I'm sure I've seen you somewhere else—

Mandy:

Do you go to the Cat Scratch Club?

That's where I work-I dance

Eric:

Yes!

They used to tie you up—

Mandy:

It's a living

Eric:

I didn't recognize you

Without the handcuffs

Mandy:

We could light the candle

Oh won't you light the candle?

Eric:

Why don't you forget that stuff

You look like you're sixteen

Mandy:

I'm nineteen—but I'm old for my age

I'm just born to be bad

Eric:

I was once born to be bad

I used to shiver like that

Mandy:

I have no heat—I told you

Eric:

I used to sweat

Mandy:

I got a cold

Eric:

Uh huh

I used to be a junkie

Mandy:

But now and then I like to—

Eric:

Uh huh

Mandy:

Feel good

Eric:

Here it—um—

Mandy:

What's that?

Eric:

It's a candy bar wrapper

Mandy:

We could light the candle

What did you do with the candle?

Eric:

That was my last match

Mandy:

Our eyes'll adjust, thank god for the moon

Eric:

Maybe it's not the moon at all

I hear Spike Lee's shooting down the street

Mandy:

Bah humbug…Bah humbug

Eric:

Cold hands

Mandy:

Yours too.

Big. Like my father's

You wanna dance?

Eric:

With you?

Mandy:

No—with my father

Eric:

I'm Roger

Mandy:

They call me

They call me Mimi

"We probably should light the candle" I say holding it out to him.

He strikes the match and the candle flickers on, lighting up the room. I swear he looks even more attractive in the dim light than he did out in the restaurant. He grabs me and throws me up onto the other side of the sink (where the candle is not). Then he kisses me. I feel his hand move to my t-shirt, tugging it up and I slap his hand away.

"What's wrong?" he asks.

"I don't sleep with guys I've just met" I say. He steps away from me but he doesn't look angry.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disappoint you" I say.

"You didn't disappoint me. You're only sixteen, I understand why you don't want to go too far. If anything I actually respect you more that you said no" he says.

"You're really sweet. Most guys my age would sulk for the rest of the evening if I told them I wouldn't put out" I say.

"Well luckily for you I'm not a guy your age" he says.

"That is extremely lucky. I said you couldn't sleep with me, I didn't say anything about making out" I say. He smiles and starts to kiss me again.

Monday

"So did you have a good time at the art showcase on Saturday?" Nettie asks as we walk into our English class.

"Where were you? I was expecting to see you but I never did" I say.

"Well I came with John, but he didn't do well with the crowd in there so we had to leave, I'm sorry I missed it. But you didn't answer my question-did you have a good time?" she says.

"I really did yeah. I'm glad you made me do it-people really seemed to like my artwork and I met this really cute guy!" I say.

"I thought you were still all into Mandy Lopez-Pierce?" she asks.

"We kind of had a fight, we're not really talking at the moment. Besides I'm not really ready to start dating a girl yet" I say.

"So what's this guy like?" she asks.

"Incredible! He's so handsome and smart and he's basically perfect for me. He's loves classic books-he's an Austen fan and he knows art. He can sing as well-he's basically my perfect guy" I say.

"I feel a but coming on" she says.

"How did you know there was a but?" I ask.

"Please, no guy is ever that perfect" she says.

"Okay so he's a little bit older than I am" I say.

"How much is a little bit? What is he? A high school senior, a college freshman?" she asks.

"He's a college graduate" I admit.

"Mandy you can't date him" she says.

"Why not? I'm sixteen so there's technically nothing illegal about it-I checked" I say.

"What would your parents say?" she asks.

"I'm not going to tell them" I say.

"I just think it's a really bad idea" she says.

"Maybe it's a terrible idea, maybe I'll end up getting hurt, maybe it is a huge mistake but it's a mistake I need to make before I know whether or not it is actually a mistake" I say.

"Why don't you just save the time and not make the mistake in the first place?" she asks.

"Because in this case making the mistake will be way more fun" I say winking.

Our English teacher walks into the room and my mouth drops when I see the person who is following him. He didn't tell me that his job was at this school!

"Holy crap" I say.

"What's the matter?" Nettie asks but our teacher shushes us.

"Everyone I would like you to meet Mr Owens, he will be our teaching assistant for this year" our English teacher says.

"So what's wrong with our new English TA?" Nettie asks.

"Remember the guy I was telling you about who I met at the showcase on Friday?" I ask.

"Yeah, why?" she says.

"That's him" I say. I can't believe he didn't tell me that he had a job at the school that I work at. As if my luck couldn't get any worse-I'm attracted to a girl but I'm too much of a coward to go out with her and now I met this really great guy that I like but of course he has to teach at my school. I'm never going to catch a break!

Ace's POV

(A/N: When she says Dad she is talking to Blaine, when she says Papa she is talking to Kurt)

My phone rings and I leap on it as soon as it does. I'm hoping its Alex, since I haven't heard from her since the day of my audition two weeks ago.

"Hello" I say trying not to sound too excited in case it isn't Alex.

"Hey Ace" Alex says and I have to stop myself from outwardly screaming when I realise that it is her.

"Hey Alex, I'm really glad you called" I say.

"Yeah, sorry I didn't call earlier, my grandma's been sick so I've been in Cleveland and my cell reception sucked in her house but I just got back home so I thought I'd call you" she says.

"It's alright, I'm just glad you called. I thought you'd forgotten about me" I say.

"I could never forget about someone as gorgeous as you" she says.

"So are you free to hang out tonight?" I ask.

"That was why I was calling, I was wondering if you were free to hang out with me" she says.

"Yeah, I'm free. There's an art showcase at Breadstix-Mandy has some of her work displayed so maybe we could go along and see it" I say.

"Sounds like fun. I'll see you in a few and we can walk down together?" she says.

"Sounds good" I say hanging up the phone. I change into my oversized my chemical romance hoodie, ripped black jeans and my studded black ankle boots and then I run down the stairs.

"Where are you going Ace?" my dad asks.

"There's an art showcase on at Breadstix, I'm going there with a friend" I say.

"Which friend?" he asks.

"Alex Hastings, remember I told you about her-she's the girl that lives next door" I say.

"The one that pretends to be a boy?" he asks.

"She only does that because the football team wouldn't let her play otherwise" I say.

"Well have fun and don't get back too late okay?" he says.

"I'll be back by eleven I promise" I say giving my dad a kiss on the cheek. I grab my camera from the side table in the hallway and then I leave the house. Alex is already waiting for me outside my house. I was half expecting her to be wearing her wig, but she isn't, her hair is tied up in a loose ponytail under her blue baseball cap. I'm glad she's gone fairly casual in her choice of clothing as well-she's wearing black skinny jeans, a Cleveland Browns hoodie, the blue baseball cap and a pair of blue converses.

"It's great to see you" she says giving me a hug.

"It's great to see you too" I say, trying not to focus on how much I'd like to kiss her.

"Shall we go?" she asks.

"Yeah" I say. I open the door to my car to let her in.

"Thank you" she says.

"So how is your grandma?" I ask.

"She's okay, she just had a bad case of the flu and she needed to be looked after for a while but she's better now" she says.

"That's good" I say.

"Yeah it is-my mom is still trying to convince her to come and live here so she'll be closer to us if something like that happens again but she loves Cleveland and the thought of moving here even though it's relatively close to Cleveland doesn't appeal to her" she says.

"Well at least she's okay" I say.

"So have you done anything for this art showcase?" she asks.

"No, I didn't even know about it until Nettie told me she had submitted Mandy and by then it was too late to submit work" I say.

"Can I see something you've drawn?" she asks.

"Sure, I guess" I say. She looks at me expectantly.

"Now?" I ask.

"Yeah. It's not as if we've left yet" she says. She's right, we have just been sitting in the car talking.

"Okay, I'll go get one of my drawings" I say. I run back into the house, pretending to my dads that I forgot my keys, before running upstairs to my room and grabbing a folded piece of paper from my desk drawers. Then I return to the car.

Alex unfolds the drawing and I swear her mouth almost drops to the floor when she sees what I've drawn. It's a portrait that I drew of her a couple of days after I met her.

"You drew me?" she asks.

"Yeah. Do you not like it?" I ask.

"No, I love it. It's beautiful, I'm just wondering why you drew me out of everything you could draw" she says.

"I'm guessing for the same reason that you came to my audition two weeks ago" I say causing her to blush.

"Let's go" she says pulling her hat further down her head. I guess I'm not the only one who has a crush here. I turn the key in the ignition and we set off to Breadstix.

"So you haven't told me much about your family other than that you have a grandma who lives in Cleveland. What are they like?" I ask.

"My family, they're a pretty ordinary bunch. My parents have been divorced since I was seven and my dad moved to Canada with his new girlfriend when I was ten-I haven't really seen him much since then. I have an older sister who's nineteen, she's at university in New York, her name's Samantha and I have a younger brother called Teddy who's nine" she says.

"You haven't seen your dad since you were ten?" I ask.

"No, we get the regular courtesy visit at Christmas and a weekly phone call but that's about it. It's better that way-they can't stand being in the same room as each other and we hate his girlfriend so it's better that we don't all get together very often" she says.

"Have you ever been to see him?" I ask.

"Nope, like I said we hate his girlfriend so we're not exactly dying to see her too regularly and seeing him means seeing her so we just don't do it very often" she says.

"How come your parents got divorced?" I ask.

"They got married at eighteen and then years later realised that they couldn't stand each other. Story of teen marriage I guess" she says.

"Not always" I say.

"Do you know anyone who's got married as teenagers and stayed married?" she asks.

"Well no, because my parents and their friends all got married in their 20's but there must be some people out there" I say.

"Possibly. Anyway that's my family how about yours?" she asks.

"Are you sure you want to hear about my family history? I'm an adopted kid so my family history is long and painful" I say.

"I'm sure. I wanted to find out more about you, Ace" she says.

"Okay then if you're sure. My biological mother killed herself when I was a baby so I never knew her. My biological father was abusive until I was four, so he was arrested and sent to prison and I haven't seen him since. I was adopted by this elderly couple when I was five and they were really great, I loved them. I lived there until I was eleven but then my adoptive father got killed in a hit and run accident and my adoptive mother became depressed and killed herself. I lived in an orphanage for a while and then I was adopted by Kurt and Blaine when I was twelve" I say.

"That is quite the story" Alex says.

"You think it's bad listening to it-try having to live it" I say.

"Well you like your parents now don't you?" she asks.

"Yeah I do, but I always feel kind of as if I don't fit in. I mean Nettie is my Papa's biological daughter and even though Avery's adopted she looks more like Papa's daughter than Nettie does. Besides they grew up together and I sometimes feel like I'm intruding on someone else's life. Sorry I'm dumping all this on you" I say.

"It's no problem. Sounds to me like you need to find a way to connect to your new family so you don't feel as left out" she says.

"How do I do that?" I ask.

"Just try and find things to connect with them on, I'm sure you will" she says.

She looks at the chain of rings hanging on my neck and fingers them. I flinch slightly but allow her to do it.

"What are these?" she asks.

I don't usually like talking to people this much, but I feel comfortable around Alex so I decide to tell her.

"They belonged to my last adoptive parents-they left them to me in their will. The white gold wedding ring was my adoptive mother's, so was the engagement ring and the other wedding ring was my adoptive father's. I wear them as a way of keeping them close to me" I say.

"That's really sweet" Alex says.

"They meant a lot to me" I say.

"I can tell" she says.

"So you still like me even after hearing about my twisted life?" I ask.

"If possible I like you even more" she says. I pull into the car park at Breadstix and park the car. I get out to open her car door.

"Thanks" she says. We walk towards the restaurant together.

"There was something I was meaning to ask you but I didn't know if it was a touchy subject" she says.

"Go ahead" I say.

"Well I noticed that you walk with a limp and I was wondering why that was" she says.

"My biological dad broke it when I was four-he threw a brick at it and it snapped. Because my bones hadn't finished developing it never really healed properly so that's why I walk with a limp" I say.

"Have you never thought about getting it treated?" she asks.

"There's nothing the doctors can do and besides I've kind of got used to it" I say.

The restaurant is packed out when we go in here-I didn't realise so many people in Lima were interested in art. It's either that or the teenagers who usually hang out here couldn't be bothered to find a different place for the night.

"So where's Mandy's work?" Alex asks.

"I'm not sure. I guess we just have to look around and see if we can find it" I say. We walk around the showcase together, chatting about what we think of the different pieces. I assumed that Alex was a jock who had no interest in anything outside of sports but she makes some intelligent comments about the pieces.

"I didn't realise you knew anything about art" I say.

"Why, just because I'm a jock, I can't know anything about things other than sport?" she asks.

"No, it's just I didn't take you as an art fan" I say.

"Just because I don't do it myself doesn't mean I can't enjoy it. My mom's really into art so she takes me to a lot of art museums. If you didn't take me as an art fan then why did you invite me here?" she says.

"Well I'm glad you like it. As for why I invited you here, I wanted to spend time with you. Is there anything wrong with that?" I say.

"Nothing at all" she says twirling the end of her ponytail around her finger. Man is she sexy.

"Oh look there's Mandy" I say spotting her through the crowd of people. We walk over to her.

"Hey guys, are you enjoying the showcase?" she asks.

"Yeah. I liked the collage-you know the one made out of pictures someone had taken on African Safari" I say.

"That one was good" she says.

"Yours are nice too though" Alex says.

"Thanks-I was worried people wouldn't like my paintings as much as my street art but that doesn't seem to have happened" she says.

"So has it gone well tonight?" I ask.

"So far-I mean the showcase didn't start long ago but I've already had a lot of interest in my art" she says.

"That's great, I'm really happy for you Mandy" I say.

"I'll go get us some food" Alex says, leaving me alone with Mandy. She smiles in a way that suggests she thinks I have a secret that she's worked out.

"What?" I ask.

"You like her" she says.

"You can tell?" I ask putting my head in my hands.

"The way you look at her, it's pretty obvious" she says.

"To everyone or just to you?" I ask.

"I don't know-I mean if it's obvious to me, I'm sure it's probably obvious to other people. Why, do you not want people to know?" she asks.

"No, I don't care if people find out. I mean I think she likes me too but I haven't outright asked her yet" I say.

"She likes you, trust me. She was looking at you in exactly the same way you were looking at her" she says.

"You really think so?" I ask.

"Oh definitely, you guys are not exactly subtle. I think you actually make a really sweet couple" she says.

"You do?" I ask.

"Yeah, I do. Where did you meet her?" she asks.

"At school, she's a junior" I say.

"Are you sure? I've never seen her before" she says.

"She wears a wig at school to make people think she's a boy so that she can play on the football team" I say.

"Oh okay, I think I know who she is now" she says.

"So you really think she's interested?" I ask.

"Definitely, you should go for it" she says.

"Go for what?" Alex asks, appearing behind me holding two chocolate chip cookies. She hands me one and starts eating the other one herself.

"It's this young artist competition that Mandy thinks I should submit my work for" I lie.

Mandy shoots me a confused look but I don't want to talk to Alex about my feelings for her right now.

"You really should, that drawing you did of me was really good" she says. Mandy winks at me when she hears that.

"Come on Alex, let's go" I say before Mandy can make any comments about the two of us.

We walk around looking at the artwork for a little longer but as we are about to walk out the door the light suddenly goes out. I hear a loud, high pitched scream from beside me.

"Alex?" I ask.

"Okay this may seem kind of childish but I've always been petrified of the dark" she says.

"I'm sure they'll set up some candles soon" I say.

"Can you get one now? Please?" she says her voice shaking.

"Okay, don't worry, I'll get one" I say. "Where are the candles?" I call out, hoping someone will hear me.

"Over here" a voice calls. I follow the voice and find a candle and some matches in the drawer beneath the cash register.

"Alex?" I call, making my way back through the crowd of people.

"Over here" she calls. She is sitting in the corner of the room, breathing heavily. I light the match and the candle flickers to life. I can see her more clearly now, her head is between her knees.

"Alex, look at me" I say lifting her chin.

"You must think I'm such a baby" she says.

"Don't be silly, everyone's scared of something" I say. She's still shaking a little so I put the candle down on the floor and sit next to her with my arm around her.

"What are you scared of?" she asks in a small voice.

"All sorts of things. I'm scared that my biological dad will come back and find me and hurt me again. I'm scared of heights, I'm scared that my photography won't be good enough to get me into the Art Academy of San Fransisco" I say.

"And what do you do to stop feeling scared?" she asks.

"Whenever I'm in a situation that's scary, I think of my favourite song and I sing it. That really calms me down. Do you want to try that?" I ask.

"Sure, I could try that" she says.

"What's your favourite song? I'll sing it with you" I say.

"Okay don't mock me but my favourite song is Disney. My mom used to sing it to me when I was little before I went to sleep. It's Once Upon A Dream from Sleeping Beauty" she says.

"Why would I mock you? Disney songs are classics" I say.

"It just doesn't seem like your type of music-I mean from what I could tell from your glee audition song" she says.

"Any type of music is my type of music. So do you want to sing?" I ask.

"Okay" she says. She starts the song since she probably knows it better than I do. I'm just glad her favourite song is one I know.

Alex:

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream

I know you, the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a-gleam

Yet I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem

Ace:

But if I know you, I know what you do,

You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream

But if I know you, I know what you do

You love me at once

Both:

The way you did once upon a dream

Ace:

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream

I know you, the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a-gleam

Both:

And I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem

But if I know you, I know what you do

You love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream

I can't help myself, maybe it's the romantic lighting, maybe it's the song or maybe it's just the fact that I like her but as soon as the song finishes I lean over and kiss Alex on the lips. She doesn't pull away though and soon we are sharing a full on french kiss. Only when it feels like I am about to run out of oxygen do I pull away.

"So do you feel less nervous now?" I ask.

"Much" she says smiling.

Nettie's POV

I stare at what feels like my entire wardrobe on the floor of my room. John is picking me up for our date in fifteen minutes and I have no idea what to wear.

"AVERY!" I yell. I need some serious fashion help right now and Avery always seems to manage to throw together great outfits.

"What's up Nettie?" she asks.

"I need help. I'm going on a date with John in like fifteen minutes and I have no clue what to wear" I say.

"Where are you going?" she asks.

"An art showcase at Breadstix" I say.

"So it doesn't need to be too formal, put all the dresses back in the closet" she says. I do as she says putting all of my dresses back in the closet.

She looks through the rest of my clothing, immediately pulling out a pair of skinny jeans, a red t-shirt and red converses along with my favourite grey hoodie.

"How did you do that so fast?" I ask.

"I have a gift. Now get ready, he'll be here in ten minutes" she says.

"Thank you so much Avery" I say.

"No problem. Good luck on your date Nettie" she says.

Just as I am slipping on my hoodie, the doorbell rings. I look at my watch and smile. He's exactly on time. I love that, it drives me crazy when boys are late for dates with me.

"Dad, I'm going out!" I call as I'm walking out the door.

"Where?" he asks.

"To the art showcase at Breadstix with John" I say.

"Oh, well if you see your sister then make sure she's okay" he says.

"Ace is there?" I ask.

"Well she said she was going about an hour ago but I only just heard her car leave so I don't know what she and Alex have been doing. I'm not entirely sure I want to know" he says.

"I'm sure Ace is fine Dad, she can take care of herself" I say.

"Well have fun on your date sweetheart, but make sure you're back by…" my dad says but I interrupt him.

"Eleven I know. You don't need to worry about me Dad" I say.

"But I do. I'm your father, it's my job" he says.

"I know but this is John Chang we're talking about, you've known him for years. He's not going to do anything to hurt me" I say.

"He'd better not. But that's not going to stop me worrying sweetie" he says.

"I know. I'll see you at eleven Dad, I promise" I say giving him a quick kiss on the cheek before running out the door.

John is standing by his car waiting for me. I'm so glad I'm dating a guy who is sixteen and can drive otherwise we'd be very limited in where we could go on dates.

"Hey, you look beautiful" he says giving me a kiss on the cheek.

"You look not so bad yourself" I say. I'm glad I decided to dress casually because he has too-he's wearing a leather jacket with a navy blue t-shirt, jeans and navy blue converses.

"But is that really a way to greet the girl you're dating?" I ask.

"How would you prefer to be greeted?" he replies.

"Something a little like this" I say kissing him hard on the lips.

"Well that was a much better greeting" he says when we finally pull away for air.

"I know" I say smiling sexily. He opens my car door and helps me into the car.

"How did your day with your mom go last Sunday? You never told me" he says.

"It went well actually. We went to Paintball Plus" I say.

"Who won, you or her?" he asks.

"I did. It was so much fun-I mean I don't usually like sports but I think shooting her with paint actually helped with some of my anger towards her" I say.

"So you're still mad at her huh?" he asks.

"Not anymore really. It was easier to be mad at her when I didn't understand why she never saw me but now I've met her and I know why she left I'm not really mad anymore. I want to have a relationship with her so there's no point in me being mad anymore" I say.

"I think it's nice that you guys are trying to work things out. When are you seeing her again?" he asks.

"I need to talk to my dads about it, but she and Marvin have invited me to stay with them in New York over the Christmas holidays" I say.

"I'm sure your dads will say yes-they always wanted you to have a relationship with her" he says.

"Yeah, I hope they will too. I'm actually really looking forward to spending Christmas in New York!" I say.

"Have you eaten yet?" he asks.

"No, I assumed there would be stuff to eat there" I say.

"Well since I wanted to impress you on our first date, I kind of made you dinner" he says.

"You cooked for me? That's so sweet" I say. He hands me a plastic container of food and a plastic knife in fork before taking one himself. "So what is this you've made me?" I ask, taking off the lid.

"Chinese-there you have egg fried rice with sweet and sour pork and homemade prawn crackers" he says.

"You make your own prawn crackers?" I ask.

"Yeah I do, they taste way better than the store bought ones" he says.

"If you do say so yourself" I say, giving him a jokey punch on the arm.

"It's true!" he says. I take a bite of the food.

"Man, this is better than our usual Chinese takeaway place" I say.

"They use way too much oil at those places. I try to make mine closer to how they do their food in China" he says.

"Where have you been hiding your secret cooking skills all these years?" I ask.

"They've always been there, I just decided to bring them out now to impress you" he says.

"Well mission accomplished. I wish I could cook like this" I say.

"Can you cook?" he asks.

"Not even a little bit. I once set our kitchen on fire when I was thirteen. I was just trying to defrost something and I put it on for too long-I didn't notice and the microwave burst into flames" I say.

"I can teach you if you'd like" he says.

"I don't think either my parents or your parents want their kitchen going up in flames" I say.

"I would be there watching you-I wouldn't allow you to set anything on fire, I promise" he says.

"Okay, but when this all goes wrong, please remember that I warned you it wasn't a good idea" I say.

"If you end up setting fire to my kitchen, then I give you full permission to say I told you so" he says making me laugh. We finish eating our food, and after having some of John's delicious homemade fortune cookies, he drives over to Breadstix.

When we get there, he opens my door for me again-he's a very sweet guy, most boys I've been out with never think to open the car door but he does it automatically.

The crowd when we walk into the restaurant is huge, I can't see Mandy over all the people. John's hand starts to feel sweaty in mine so I turn to him.

"Are you okay?" I ask but I don't really need to, I can tell he's not. He's sweating, shaking and is clutching his chest.

"JOHN! What's wrong?" I ask feeling slightly panicked myself.

"Too….many…people" he says, only just about managing to get the words out.

"What can I do?" I ask, trying to keep calm for his sake but it's difficult to be calm when the guy that you're on a date with is sweating like a pig and struggling to breathe.

"Get…me…out" he says. So I take his sweaty palm and lead him out of the restaurant. He collapses against the wall of the building, curled up in the foetal position. I'd hoped that just getting him out of the building would help, but he still looks awful.

"It's okay John, we're out here now, no one's going to hurt you. You need to breathe though, okay. Just take deep breaths in and out" I say. I pick him up off the floor so he is sitting up straight but almost as soon as I do this, he curls up and retches all over my favourite red converses. I take them off and sit down next to him, massaging his back. I have no idea if it's helping or not, but he does appear to be breathing a little better. I wish I knew what actually helped with panic attacks, I feel out of my depth here. I mean Ace has bipolar disorder, but she usually handles it on her own.

I place one hand on his chest and the other on his stomach. "Keep breathing okay John" I say. We sit like this for a while and his breath starts to even out, he doesn't sound like he's struggling for breath anymore. But he's still shaking, and sweating, and clutching his chest.

"How can I help you?" I ask. Hopefully now that he's breathing better he'll be able to tell me.

"Running, I need to move" he says.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" I ask.

"Yes. It usually helps" he says.

"Okay. I'm not exactly sure if I can run though, you kind of vomited on my shoes" I say.

"I'm sorry about that. I know those are your favourites" he says.

"It's okay, I'll just run in my socks" I say.

"You can't do that, you'll hurt yourself. Besides you hate running" he says.

"I'll do whatever I have to. Now let's go" I say taking his hand and helping him up. As soon as he gets up though, he staggers backwards.

"Are you sure you should be running right now?" I ask.

"Exercise helps, trust me. It's just a little lightheadness, it always happens. I'll get over it soon" he says. I take his hand, and we start to run. I hate running, but if it's what he needs right now then I'll do it. I start getting puffed after we've run for a couple of blocks but we keep going until we reach Kibby Corners Park where I literally cannot go anymore, and I collapse onto the grass. The run does seem to have helped him though-he is breathing heavily from the run, but it's not the short, shallow breaths of his panic attack and he doesn't seem to be shaking anymore.

"Do you feel better?" I ask, attempting to return my own breathing to normal after that run. I have to say, this is not what I expected on our first date.

"Yeah, I think it's over now" he says, getting up and then helping me up from the floor. I swear I have aches in muscles I didn't know I had. We walk over to the swing set together (well he walks, I hobble) and sit down on the swings. We start to swing gently.

"So exactly how long have you had panic attacks for? We've been friends for years and I've never noticed" I say.

"They started when I was seven and I've had them ever since. They're mainly set off by very crowded places" he says.

"So how exactly do you get around school?" I ask.

"I always leave my lessons five minutes early so I can avoid the rush in the hallways and I usually eat my lunch alone in the toilets" he says.

"Do you ever think it might be easier to get some help than just avoid crowds in general?" I ask.

"I've tried-the pills don't work very well for me" he says.

"What about therapy?" I ask.

"The idea of going to see a shrink is not exactly appealing to me" he says.

"You might want to try it. It could help" I say.

"I'll think about it. Anyway, I'm sorry this date didn't turn out exactly the way you would have wanted. I'm sure you weren't hoping to have to go on a run and have your date throw up on your shoes. You have to let me buy you a new pair of those by the way" he says.

"It's alright, you don't have to" I say.

"I insist-they were your favourite shoes and it's my fault they're wrecked, so I'll buy you a new pair" he says.

"Okay, well they're red converses in a 6.5" I say.

"6.5? How small are your feet?" he says.

"Hey! You know I don't like being teased about how short I am" I say, almost pushing him off his swing.

"I know that's why it's fun to do. Anyway, you've found out something new about me tonight, I think it's only fair that I find out something that I didn't know about you" he says.

"Fine, if you must know, I'm completely terrified of fire" I say.

"Fire?" he asks.

"Yeah, remember I told you that I set our kitchen on fire by putting something in the microwave for too long?" I say.

"Yeah" he replies.

"Well, I got trapped inside the kitchen and it was so scary-I actually thought I was going to die. The firefighters had to come and get me out. I still have a huge burn scar on my back from the fire. Even little fires, like candles freak me out now" I say.

"Can I see the scar?" he asks.

"Are you trying to make me take my shirt off?" I ask jokingly.

"I swear I'm not" he says.

"It's okay, I'll show you the scar" I say stopping my swing and then lifting the back of my shirt up. The huge, wrinkled red scar runs all the way across my lower back.

He stops his own swing. "Does it hurt?" he asks, tracing the scar with his finger.

"It hurt like hell at the time, but not really anymore" I say, pulling my shirt back down again.

"Anything else I don't know about you?" he asks.

"I've been doing martial arts since I was kid" I say.

"You really?" he asks.

"I know I'm short but I'm actually really good. My dads wanted me to learn in case anyone ever tried to attack me. I do judo, kickboxing & karate" I say.

"What belt are you?" he asks.

"I'm a black belt in all three" I say.

"Wow, remind me to never get on the wrong side of you" he says laughing.

"I might be small but it works in my favour. It tricks my opponents into thinking that I'll be easy to beat, then I exploit their weaknesses and use my speed and agility to my advantage" I say.

"You wouldn't have taken me for a martial arts fan" he says.

"It's a useful skill to have in case someone ever tries to attack me" I say.

"I'm a black belt in taekwondo but that's the only martial art that I do" he says.

"Maybe you could teach me some taekwondo sometime" I say.

"I don't know, I wouldn't want to hurt you" he says.

"Did you hear how many martial arts I do? I can take care of myself" I say.

"In which case, I would be honoured to have you as my student" he says.

"Do you want to dance?" I ask.

"That just suddenly popped into your head?" he replies.

"I was thinking about what would make this evening perfect, and a dance under the stars would" I say.

"I threw up on your shoes, and you still think there's a possibility of making this night perfect?" he says.

"This night was always going to be perfect, no matter what because I got to spend it with you" I say.

"I'd love to dance with you but we don't have any music" he says.

"That would be where you would be wrong" I say, taking my IPod out of my pocket.

"Have you had that all night?" he asks.

"I never go anywhere without it. Do you know this song?" I ask, pointing to a song on my IPod.

"Yeah, I do" he says smiling.

"Good" I say pressing the play button on my IPod. "Are you not going to ask me to dance?" I ask.

"May I have this dance my lady?" John says getting up and then kissing me on the hand.

"Yes you may" I say. He leads me away from the swings and we wrap our arms around each other, then I start to sing softly as we dance.

Nettie:

Take my hand, I'll teach you to dance

I'll spin you around, won't let you fall down.

Would you let me lead? You can step on my feet

Give it a try, it'll be alright

Both:

The room's hush hush and now's our moment

Take it in, feel it all and hold it

Eyes on you, eyes on me

We're doing this right

'Cause lovers dance when they're feeling in love

Spotlight's shining. It's all about us

It's oh, oh, all

About uh, uh, us

And every heart in the room will melt

This is a feeling I've never felt

But it's all about us

John:

Suddenly I'm feeling brave

Don't know what's got into me

Why I feel this way

Can we dance real slow?

Can I hold you real close?

Both:

The room's hush hush and now's our moment

Take it in, feel it all and hold it

Eyes on you, eyes on me

We're doing this right

Cause lovers dance when they're feeling in love

Spotlight's shining. It's all about us.

It's oh, oh, all

About, uh, uh, us

And every heart in the room will melt

This is a feeling I've never felt

But it's all about us

Nettie:

Do you hear that love? They're playing our song

John:

Do you think we're ready yet? Oh, I'm really feeling it

Nettie:

Do you hear that love? Do you hear that love?

Do you hear that love? They're playing our song

John:

Do you think we're ready yet? Oh, I'm really feeling it

Nettie:

Do you hear that love? Do you hear that love?

Do you hear that love? They're playing our song

John:

Do you think we're ready yet? Oh, I'm really feeling it

Nettie:

Do you hear that love?

John:

Do you hear that love?

Nettie:

Lovers dance when they're feeling in love

Spotlight's shining. It's all about us

Both:

It's oh, oh, all

John:

Every heart in the room will melt

Nettie:

This is a feeling I've never felt

But it's all about us

Both:

Cause lovers dance when they're feeling in love

Spotlight shining. It's all about us

Nettie:

It's oh, oh, all (John: About us)

Hey, hey, hey

John:

And every heart in the room will melt

Both:

This is a feeling I've never felt

But it's all, it's all about us

He sweeps me off my feet and kisses me after the song is finished.

"See even a night where you throw up on my shoes can be perfect" I say when he puts me down.

"I guess it can be. Plus, I think we just found our song" he says.

"One date and we already have a song" I say.

"Does that scare you?" he asks.

"No. It makes me feel happy" I say.

"Me too" he says.

"We should go, my dads are expecting me back home soon" I say.

"It's only ten, it won't take that long for me to drive you home" he says.

"I know it won't, but your car is still at the restaurant. We ran here remember?" I say.

"Oh yeah, I was trying to block that part of the evening out" he says.

"It won't take us that long to walk. Besides it's a nice night" I say.

"But you still don't have any shoes" he points out.

"I ran all the way here without shoes, I'm sure I can walk back" I say. I really shouldn't have worn white socks tonight as they are completely filthy, but I don't care.

"I could carry you" he says.

"All the way back to Breadstix?" I ask.

"I'm sure I can manage it. Besides isn't it kind of romantic?" he asks.

"I guess so. Alright, you can carry me" I say. He picks me up and starts to walk back towards the restaurant. We talk about our song for our glee assignment and decide to do Without You from Rent and then we decide to carry on from where we left off earlier, telling each other things we didn't already know about each other. I'm quite surprised about how much I have learned about John tonight as I thought I knew him pretty well already but I suppose it shows that even if you've known someone for years, you can still find out more about them. When we get to his car, I'm actually kind of disappointed. Aside from John's panic attack and the fact that I had to spend part of my night running with no shoes on, this date was actually pretty nice. I mean he made me dinner and we danced under the stars to my favourite song-all in all not a bad date.

He opens the door to my side of the car again and helps me into the car, before getting in on his side.

"So go on, tell me, how long have you liked me for?" I ask.

"Since I was about twelve" he admits.

"You liked me for four years and you never told me?" I ask.

"I didn't think you liked me back" he says.

"Who couldn't like you? You're sweet and kind and you make great Chinese food!" I say making him laugh.

"We'd better get going" he says turning the key in the ignition. He turns the radio on for the drive back and we have a great time singing our favourite songs at the top of our voices. He pulls into the driveway of my house a few minutes later.

"You'd better go, it's almost eleven" he says.

"Aren't you going to give me a goodnight kiss?" I ask.

"Of course" he says, leaning towards me and kissing me. Then he gets out of the car and helps me out.

"So, do you want to call me or should I call you to set up another date?" I ask.

"You still want to go out with me?" he asks.

"Of course. Why did you think I wouldn't?" I ask.

"Because I had a panic attack and threw up on your shoes during our date" he says.

"I've been on dates with guys who've done stranger things-trust me" I say.

"Exactly how many guys have you dated?" he asks.

"Not many-but some of them have done some very strange things" I say.

"Well I'm glad you still want to go out with me" he says.

"So am I calling you, or are you calling me?" I say.

"I'll call you-I want to do a special, surprise date for you" he says.

"A special surprise date? I like the sound of that" I say.

"It's going to knock your socks off" he says.

"As long as it doesn't knock my shoes off. You've already ruined one pair of my shoes, I don't want you to ruin anymore" I say, making him laugh.

"Goodnight Nettie" he says, kissing me again.

"Goodnight John" I say. I watch as his car pulls away from the drive. I have a good feeling about this-John doesn't seem like he's going out with me because he wants to shag me, he actually genuinely seems to like me. Maybe there could be such a thing as love for me after all.

Ivy's POV

Today's the day. Finn is finally putting up the cast list for RENT. I'm pretty confident that I will get the part of Joanne. I mean, I saw everyone else's RENT performances in the choir room this week and not one of them had a patch on mine. My only real competition is Emberly Hudson and I hope Finn doesn't just give the part to her because she's his daughter. That wouldn't be fair. Especially since my performance was so good.

Flashback

"Okay so who wants to do their RENT song today?" Finn asks. No one puts their hand up, so I walk to the front of the room.

"I'll do it" I say.

"Okay, Ivy. What RENT song have you decided to sing?" he asks.

"I'll be doing the classic Take Me Or Leave Me. My mother sang this song when she was in Glee Club and I hope I will do it just as well" I say.

"Go for it" Finn says. I signal to the piano player and start to sing.

Ivy:

Every single day,

I walk down the street

I hear people say "baby so sweet"

Ever since puberty

Everybody stares at me

Boys girls I can't help it baby

So be kind and don't lose your mind

Just remember that I'm your baby

Take me for what I am

Who I was meant to be

And if you give a damn

Take me baby

Or leave me

Take me baby or leave me

A tiger in a cage

Can never see the sun

This diva needs her stage

Baby lets have fun

You are the one I choose

Folks would kill to fill your shoes

You love the limelight too now baby

So be mine and don't waste my time

Cryin' "oh honey bear are you still my, my, my baby?"

Take me for what I am

Who I was meant to be

And if you give a damn

Take me baby or leave me

No way, can I be what I'm not

But hey, don't you want your girl hot?

Don't fight, don't lose your head

Cause every night who's in your bed

Who?

Who's in your bed?

Kiss pookie

It won't work

I look before I leap

I love my margins and discipline

I make my lists in my sleep baby

Whats my sin?

Never quit

I follow through

I hate mess but I love you

What do with my impromptu baby?

So be wise, cause this girl satisfies

You got a prize so don't compromise

You're one lucky baby

Take me for what I am

A control freak

Who I was meant to be

A snob yet over attentive

And if you give a damn

A loveable droll geek

Take me baby or leave me

An anal retentive

That's it

The straw that breaks my back

I quit

Unless you take it back

Women

What is it about them?

Can't live with them or without them

Take me for what I am

Who I was meant to be

And if you give a damn

And if you give a damn then

Take me baby, or leave

Take me baby, take me or la-la-la-la-la-leave me

Take me baby or leave me

Guess I'm leaving, I'm gone

I take a small bow when I finish the performance. I know that's one of the best performances I've ever done.

"Wow Ivy! That was incredible. You other girls are going to have to work hard to beat that" Finn says. I smirk at Ember, who glares back at me before taking my seat again.

End of flashback

I wanted to be the first one there when the cast list went up, so I made my mom bring me into school early so that I could beat everyone else there. To my annoyance, Emberly is already waiting when I arrive at the noticeboard.

"Has he put up the cast list yet?" I ask.

"Do you see it?" Ember says in a harsh voice.

"I'd say good luck, but I was born to get this part" I say.

"Are you kidding? No one is better for this part than me" she says.

"Well I'll guess we'll see won't we?" she asks.

"Yes we will" I say. We stand in silence, just glaring at each other for a while, until Finn appears with the cast list.

"Good luck ladies" he says, walking away rather too fast for my liking. Maybe it's bad news and he doesn't want us to yell at him. I shove past Ember so I can look at the cast list first. I scan the list for my name.

(A/N: The boys are just students I've made up, they won't have a huge part in the story)

Cast List For Rent:

Mark Cohen-Joshua Ben Isreal

Understudy for Mark: John Simpson

Roger Davis-Alex Murphy

Understudy for Roger: David Morgan

Mimi Marquez-Bianna Lopez-Pierce

Understudy for Mimi-Selena Martinez

Tom Collins-Luke Smith

Understudy for Tom: Terry Wheeler

Angel Dumott Schunard: James Adams

Understudy for Angel: Leon Cliff

Maureen Johnson: Amanda Lopez-Pierce/Marie Puckerman

Understudy for Maureen: N/A-double casting so if one is ill, the other one will perform

Joanne Jefferson: Mandy Puckerman

Understudy for Joanne: Ivy Evans

Benjamin Coffin III: Alexis West

Understudy for Benny: Sam Stephenson

Auditions for minor characters will take place next week

"I got the understudy?" I ask unable to believe it. I really thought I was a shoo-in for the part and I'm just the damn understudy.

"I got nothing?" Ember says, looking as if she's about to erupt, she's so angry. I follow her as we both storm into the choir room where Finn is going over the scripts for RENT.

"I'm guessing this is about your parts?" Finn asks.

"Yeah. I didn't get anything Dad? Not even a flipping understudy role? I'm the best damn singer that auditioned!" Ember yells.

"I know you are Ember but there were other things I had to take into consideration" he says.

"Please don't say you didn't give me the part because I'm your daughter and people would think you were biased toward me because that's just as bad as giving me the part because I'm your daughter" she says.

"I didn't give you the part because I felt that Mandy was better suited to it" he says.

"HOW EXACTLY? She can't sing half as well as I can" she yells.

"I felt that out of the girls who auditioned that Mandy and Amanda had the best chemistry and they'd make the most believable couple on stage" he says.

"Of course they have the best chemistry, they're seeing each other in real life" I protest.

"Well that's really none of my business but like I said, they need to make a believable couple on stage and those two do" he says.

"Well then why the hell did she get the understudy and not me?" she asks.

"It was a really difficult decision Ember, but I thought Ivy was better suited to the part" he says.

"Well that's just ridiculous. No one is better suited for this damn part than I am. I was born to be on a stage and don't blame me if your musical sucks because your Joanne has a sub-standard singing voice" Ember says, storming out of the choir room and slamming the door.

"I guess you're going to yell at me now" Finn says.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful I got the understudy for Joanne but I can't deny I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get the lead role" I say.

"You were very close Ivy; I thought that both your audition and your RENT song were very good. Like I said to Ember, it was the chemistry between Mandy and Amanda that meant they got the roles" he says.

"It's just I've wanted to play this part ever since I was a little kid" I say.

"I know Ivy and one day you will. Actually I wish Ember had been auditioning for Maureen rather than Joanne because your voices would go well together" he says.

"Well thank you for giving me the understudy role anyway" I say.

"You're welcome Ivy. You never know, one day Mandy may not be able to go on and you might get to play the part after all" he says.

"Maybe" I say trying to hide how upset I am that I didn't get the main part. I quietly leave, because I don't want to start crying in front of Finn. I don't even go to glee practice that afternoon because I don't want to be around him, or Ember because she'll probably kill me that I got at least some role in the play and she didn't get anything.

Jeremiah and dad are having dinner out that evening so it's just me and mom. I don't really want to talk to her-I'm worried I'll have disappointed her because I didn't get the lead role in the musical.

"What's wrong Vi, you've been quiet all evening" she says.

"Nothing" I say.

"Come on, I can tell something's wrong" she says.

"Fine, the cast list for the musical went up today and I didn't get the part I wanted" I say.

"Did you at least get a part?" she asks.

"I got the understudy" I say.

"Well you'll still have the chance to be in the play if the person who plays the part is ill or injured" she says.

"That's not why I'm upset. I'm upset because I thought I was the best person for the part and I didn't get it-the understudy is such a slap in the face" I say.

"Vi, I hate to tell you this but there's always someone better for the part you want. I got beaten out for everything I wanted in high school by Rachel Berry but eventually you just have to get over it and be a professional" she says.

"Thanks mom" I say though I'm not really thankful at all. I expected a little more sympathy from my mother but I shouldn't have. The rest of the meal passes in silence, neither of us talking to the other one of us. As soon as dinner is over I disappear up to my room. I'm so angry with Finn. I mean, I have the best voice in Glee club and I would have been perfect for that part, but no, he has to give the main parts to two lesbians-they don't even really have to act and neither of their singing voices are as good as mine. I mean I can understand why Marie is one of the people playing Maureen as her song was beautiful and she really does have a nice voice but I don't know why he double cast her. I pick up the phone and dial Marie's number.

"Hey, how are you?" I ask.

"Well I'm glad I got the part but I'm pissed I have to share it with Mandy-I mean why the hell did he have to double cast us?" Marie says.

"I don't know but if it makes you feel better, I totally think that you're better for that part than Mandy" I say.

"Is it kind of ironic that both of the girls playing the lead roles are called Mandy?" she asks.

"A little" I say laughing.

"I mean I'm the only non-Mandy playing one of the lead female roles" she says.

"I think we need to send a message to Finn that we're not happy about this" I say.

"That does sound like a good idea. What were you thinking of doing?" she asks.

"I was thinking that we should revive the Troubletones" I say.

A/N: So there's chapter 5 for you-I will try to get chapter six up as soon as possible but I'm working on a lot of different stories at the moment, and I want to update them all so it might be a while-as soon as I'm on summer break, I'll be able to write much more often. The songs used in this chapter were Goodbye Love-Rent, performed by Emberly Hudson, Jesse St James and Kymberly Miers, Light My Candle-Rent, performed by Mandy Puckerman and Eric Owens, Once Upon A Dream-Sleeping Beauty, performed by Ace Hummel-Anderson and Alex Hastings, All About Us-He is We feat Owl City, performed by Nettie Hummel-Anderson and John Chang and Take Me Or Leave Me-Rent, performed by Ivy Evans. All rights go to owners. If you guys haven't read it already, then please check out my new Finchel story Loving Him Was Red.

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