Day 559. In the Lions’ Den


One morning Jesse St.James of McKinley wakes up in a strange world that’s not his.

"IN THE LIONS’ DEN"
AU!Jesse, Quinn
Berry.St #13 (sequel to ‘Other New Directions’)


They had won… Even a couple of days later, it still felt like the best thing that had ever happened in his life in a good long while… Well, one of two things. Yes, winning Sectionals, finally getting recognition for all this madness they had endured, just so people knew their passion… it was wonderful. He wasn’t going to deny that, no. But then there was something else he had to be thankful for, someone… He hadn’t liked running around with Quinn behind everyone’s backs… least of all Finn. There they were, becoming friends, and he had to go and betray him like this. He’s hate him now… probably for a long time, maybe forever, but as bad as he felt he couldn’t be completely against it, because now he had her.

That morning, it would be the first one back at McKinley since the win, and the revelation… He wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, for the death glares, but then there would be the good parts… he’d get to see her again. When he woke up, that was what he focused on… they had won, they were moving forward… and he would see her.

Only when he opened his eyes, something wasn’t right. He wasn’t in his room, he was somewhere… somewhere he’d never been before. It was a bedroom, he figured that out maybe only due to the fact that he was lying in a bed. Polished… that was the word that came to mind. This place, it was just… it was nothing like his room. If it were his room, then there wouldn’t be all of those trophies he saw in a case against the opposite wall. When he sat up, it was the first thing he could see… trophies, large and imposing. He hesitated before slipping the covers off, feet finding the ground and padding silently toward the case. He approached, just so he could read…

That was the first sign of something being wrong… beyond waking up in a strange bedroom that wasn’t his: the trophies had his name on it, and when they didn’t… they said ‘Vocal Adrenaline.’ It made no sense at all, and then he turned back, looked at the room, really looked at it… This place, it looked like… It was his room, in the sense that this was the actual room, except… at his parents’. He wasn’t even living there anymore, with them being out of the country so much, he’d preferred staying with his uncle, since he’d offered. But even if it was his room, at his parents, the whole place looked… wrong. Everything was changed, the whole look of it.

He backed up, back toward his bed, and that’s when he saw it… the calendar on the desk. On top of the wrong room in the wrong house with the wrong trophies… he could add ‘the date’ to his list of wrongs… With this date, he would have been closer to Regionals than Sectionals.

He reached for his phone, wanting to call… But then he realized, if he was at home, then he was definitely not in Lima, he’d be back in Akron. It didn’t matter, he had to see her. By this time, she’d be on her way to school already… Either way, whatever was happening, he didn’t want to draw attention to it, because with the kind of story he’d be spinning he had no doubt that they would try and lock him up. So he had just one option… He’d go to school, so not to draw attention, but he’d still reach out to her.

“Hey, it’s me, look… I don’t know what’s going on, but can you meet me… a-at Breadstix, around… seven?” he tried to calculate in his head how long it would take for him to get there. “Please, I’ll explain when I get there.” He hung up. So that was that. Now he had to get ready.

When he opened the closet doors, he froze… These were definitely not his clothes, except… they were. He supposed he couldn’t question it. So he put on the first thing he picked out and looked in the mirror… he had a mirror, apparently. Maybe he was… oh, he wasn’t emo, was he? At least, he looked like kind of a tough guy… He tried to look tough; it didn’t go so well. Now he wondered if he was going to draw more attention to the fact that something wasn’t right by going to school or just staying right where he was. But then he couldn’t stay there; he really wanted to know what was going on, and there was no way around it.

He got out of the house, and then he stopped… His uncle would have driven him, usually, but then he wasn’t with his uncle here, he… He turned back, looking at the driveway, and… No, it couldn’t be his. He went back inside, and there were the keys. It was as he came back out that he saw the plates… So maybe it was his after all… Okay, this world had just scored a point.

He drove to Carmel High. He’d been there before, to ‘spy’, and he hadn’t realized how massive it was, compared to McKinley. He had found his schedule as he got ready, and as he could have guessed, he had practice with Vocal Adrenaline, first thing in the morning. The one thing that came to mind right then was… baptism by fire. He couldn’t hesitate. So he went into the auditorium.

He came right back out, probably less than a minute later. No one had even seen him, but he saw them, heard them. He heard them talking about… his friends, about New Directions, and how they had beaten them. He could just imagine them seeing him and, like some kind of robots, to just recognize he didn’t belong with them, but with those other ones they were describing with… oh, choice words…

“What are you doing out here?” He startled and looked up to find a tall brunette woman approaching…

“I-I…” he didn’t know what to say.

“Well, come on, it’s no time to just stand around, we have Nationals to prepare for,” she opened the auditorium door and waited for him to go inside.

“Nationals?” he spoke under his breath as he walked inside again.

The day was brutal, to put it mildly. By the time he got out of there, he was almost positive they would either ship him to the psych ward or ask him to pee in a cup. On top of that, he was aching. Mr. Schuester may have been their equivalent to this Corcoran woman, but he was like a kindergarten teacher and she was a drill sergeant, by comparison.

The rest of the day, after practice, wasn’t exactly a walk through the park either. Once they’d seen how he responded to their practice, the rest of Vocal Adrenaline spent the day looking at him like the star athlete who had just lost all of his mojo, every last drop of it… and they were not pleased. The whole day had been one long, confusing, and gruelling exercise, but at least now he had something to look forward to… He got into his car, and he took to the road, heading to Lima. He could just feel himself breathing easier when he got past the city limits, when he saw familiar landmarks. He was almost there, almost home, his real home…

He got to the mall, parked the car, and headed to the restaurant. As he walked in, he scanned the tables. She wasn’t there. It was alright though, he was early. He got a table, a glass of water, and breadsticks, and he waited. As it drew closer to seven, he started worrying that she might not come. No, why wouldn’t she come?

Then he turned his head and… there she was, standing a short distance away, staring at him. He let out a breath. “You’re here… I was starting to think you wouldn’t show…” There was something in her eye like confusion, but he couldn’t see it yet. The one thing he noticed, which did confuse him some, was that she seemed a little larger than she did, as far as he knew, the day before, when he’d seen her. He didn’t think about it too hard, not as soon as she sat across from him. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you, nothing is making sense today. I woke up in my old room, back at my parents’, except it didn’t look like my room. And there were all these trophies with my name on them, but I never won them. And there was a car, and… okay, that part I actually liked, but then the school… Vocal Adrenaline, it’s like they think I’m one of them, and… they’re harder than I thought. I mean that Corcoran woman…” He sighed, shaking his head. “When I got out of there, all I could think about was I had to see you…” he reached for her hands, on the table, but as soon as he touched them, she pulled them away. He startled.

“What are you doing?” she asked, and he blinked. “The both of you today, seriously. I mean first Rachel is behaving like the second coming of Barbra, Celine, Mariah, and Whitney combined, and now this… Like it wasn’t enough that you pulled your con on her, now you have to come at me after everything that’s just happened… I don’t even know why I came,” she shook her head and got up. He watched her, completely stunned. It hadn’t even occurred to him that she’d be different too… how stupid was he? He couldn’t let her go like that though. He’d made an opening with her; maybe she could help.

“Wait, let me explain. It was a long drive, the only thing I’m asking is for your time, to listen to what I have to say.” She looked at him, and it was like she was studying his face, his eyes, looking for something. She mustn’t have found it, because after a moment she started slowly back toward the table. When they were sitting across from one another again, he let out a breath. This had just become a completely different conversation. “Look, everything I told you before, that was true, except… I took you for someone else. I don’t really know how it works yet, so don’t ask me to explain it to you, but from what you told me, maybe I can piece together some of it. I promise you I am telling the truth as far as I know it, and I just need you to tell me… Who am I, as far as you know it?” She hesitated.

“You’re Jesse…” He nodded. “From Vocal Adrenaline.”

“You mentioned… Rachel. That’s Rachel Berry?” he asked, and she confirmed. “And she’s at McKinley.”

“Of course she is.”

“With New Directions?”

“Who else? Look, whatever’s going on, you better start making sense or I’m getting up and I’m not sitting back down.”

“I’m afraid I need to not make sense for a little while longer, but I swear I’m heading towards sense. Before I woke up this morning, it wasn’t Rachel who was in New Directions, it was me. She’s with Vocal Adrenaline. We’re going to be going against them at Regionals; we just won Sectionals against Jane Adams and Haverbrook.”

“No, that was months ago,” Quinn frowned.

“Not to me it wasn’t. It was a couple days ago. Where I’m from… my McKinley, my New Directions… we just won Sectionals, and you and I, we’re… well, we’re kind of dating.” Of all the things she could do right then, she laughed.

“If this is the part where you’re starting to make sense, then I think you need to adjust your definition…”

“I’ve never been to your house, have I?” he took a guess, and by the look on her face he knew he was right. “Is that leg on your night stand still wobbly?” he carried right on. Her eyes grew wide; now he had her, or at least he was starting to. “How am I doing with that definition now?”

THE END

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