New York is supposed to be a magical place, a place where dreams come true. Finn knows this isn't true. New York is where dreams come to die.
Finn makes the call that brings their dream to an end on a rainy Thursday afternoon. "Mom," he says after five months of silence, "I need help."
Jesse stands in the McKinley High parking lot covered in egg when the idea first comes to him. New York. The city of dreams. Jesse really needs his dreams right now, because Corcoran has taken UCLA away from him, and while his parents will pay for college, he'll be forced into pre-law, or some other "useful" major. Nothing as frivolous as the thing Jesse loves. His so called ex-team mates hate him, mostly because Corcoran has declared him a traitor. His current team mates hate him, mostly because he is Jesse St. James and has more talent in his pinkie finger than they do on their whole team. The only person who might even care about him is standing next to him, covered in more egg than he is.
So why not New York, where he'll be become a huge star, and Rachel will love him and Shelby will never hurt him again?
"I'm going to New York with Jesse," Rachel says to Finn.
"Don't," he replies. "Please, don't run away."
"I have to leave," she says, pushing up the sleeves of her sweater. There are finger prints on her wrists, black and blue.
"I'll kill him," Finn promises.
"It's not… it's not Jesse."
"Tell me who did this to you!" he yells, and she flinches away from his voice.
"No. Look, Finn, New York is where all my dreams will come true. I'll be fine. It's a good plan."
Rachel Berry can out stubborn anything, and Finn should know, but he can't help but try. "It isn't," he insists.
"I'm going anyway," she says, and he knows he'll never change her mind.
"Fine, I'm going with you," he says, and then wonders exactly what he's gotten himself into.
New York is cold, and even though Jesse emptied his bank account of more money than Finn has ever seen at once in his entire life, it won't get them very far in New York. They have no back up, Jesse had used his credit card to buy them all bus tickets to LA and then shredded the thing.
At first it isn't too bad. Finn is entranced by the skyscrapers and the sheer mass of people. New York is nothing like Lima, and besides both Jesse and Rachel are smiling again.
Sometimes they will be walking down the street and the two of them will just smile and then break out into song, like they really are living in a musical. On really good days, when both Jesse and Rachel have auditions that go well, and they spring for actual food, Finn will join in too.
They've been in New York for two weeks, and the whole world seems brilliant and new. Rachel is singing Don't Rain On My Parade, and Finn is humming along as Jesse weaves between them. Jesse stops in front of him, and Finn almost trips over his own feet. Rachel laughs, and then, suddenly Jesse is kissing him. Jesse is kissing him and it's amazing. He should be pushing him away, but this is New York, not Ohio, and there is no one here he needs to hide from, so he kisses back.
Rachel loves watching them together, Jesse and Finn. There's been less glaring and more laughing ever since Jesse kissed Finn and Finn kissed him back. It feels like they are really in this together. She hasn't had her big break yet, but she knows it will come soon. In the mean time she has her boys, and she has New York and there is nothing that can stop her from achieving her dreams.
She comes back from an audition she's sure she's nailed to find Jesse and Finn with their shirts off. Rachel doesn't stop to ask why, she kisses Jesse, and then turns and kisses Finn. Usually it stops there, but Rachel is giddy and she wants more, so she grabs both of their hands and pulls them towards the bed.
It's funny how the stunned look on both of their faces is almost identical, and so while they are both hovering at the end of the bed, looking unsure, Rachel pulls her shirt off over her head. The stunned looks don't stop, the boys just turn them on each other, so she kisses them both in turn again. "Come to bed," she says, and they follow, finally.
"You should kiss him," she says to Finn, as she runs her hands down Finn's back. He does as he's told, and Jesse moans into his mouth. Soon they are a tangle of limbs, touching and licking, as she deftly removes the rest of their clothing.
Naked in front of her, Jesse looks just a bit nervous, something she's never seen from him before, so she kisses her way up his neck, and whispers in his ear, "This will be good." She is Rachel Berry, after all, and if she says it, she's determined enough to see it come true.
She motions Jesse up to the top of the bed, and lets him get wrapped up in Finn, before trailing her fingers up Finn's thigh. He startles at first, but Jesse grins at her and she grins back, and he sets about keeping Finn's attention, allowing her to go down on Finn without him getting too jumpy in the process.
She and Finn had never gotten this far before, and he's hard and a bit salty in her mouth. From the noises he is making into Jesse's mouth, she is doing everything right. The moans are better than any gold star. It doesn't last long, she hadn't planned for it to, and when Finn comes in her mouth, she swallows without gagging.
"That was…" Finn manages to say between gasps.
"Good?" Jesse asks with a smirk.
"Earth shattering," Finn corrects.
"Good," Rachel says, and kneel up to kiss him. "My turn now."
"Greedy, greedy," Jesse says.
"Hold me," she says to Finn, and he pulls her to his chest, as Jesse kneels in front of her.
Finn nuzzles at her neck, as Jesse pushes into her. Pressed between her two boys, Rachel wonders why she didn't do this sooner. It's an amazing feeling, their skin warm against her, surrounded by their love.
Finn's thumb flutters over her rib bones just below the curve of her breast, and she sighs into Jesse's mouth as she comes.
This may be the best idea she's ever had. Rachel gives herself a gold star in her head.
They're squatting again. "Subletting is a perfectly valid response to economic pressures," Rachel insists. But they're "subletting" half a room with a full sized mattress on one side of the floor a twin that two girls that can't be older than fourteen are sharing on the other. Jesse's got a job this week, it's not acting, but it's something, and Rachel has an audition, so Finn gets to play guard over their things. They've been in New York for three months now, and even Jesse's money can't stretch that far. So they do odd jobs, and Rachel and Jesse keep auditioning. It's barely enough to keep them in rent and food. If things don't pick up soon, Finn's going to have to figure out a better way of making money. Except since he doesn't have his social security card, and couldn't use it even if he did, his ways of making money are pretty limited. He helps unload trucks sometimes, or other manual labor, but its doesn't pay much. The things that pay are all more illegal than Finn what is willing to do at the moment.
"Auditions suck." Jesse flops down on the mattress when he comes home, and Finn curls around him. Jesse appreciates the warmth, it's getting colder and he hadn't thought to pack a jacket when they ran.
"Bad day?" Finn asks.
"I'm Jesse St. James, and no one seems to understand that. One of the casting directors offered me a sandwich for a blow job. Seriously," Jesse huffs. There is only so much rejection he can take, and its getting precariously close to his limit. He'd never imagined a world in which food was seriously offered to him in exchange for sex. He's lost a little weight, but it's not as if he looks like he's starving or anything.
Finn's eyes are wide at the thought, and for a moment Jesse can't believe that no one has offered that boy a fifty to go down on his knees for them, but maybe Finn's just better at looking like a tourist than a runaway than Jesse is.
"I know who you are," Finn says, fingers tangled in Jesse's hair. "Someday, these people will figure it out, too."
Rachel takes that moment to join them.
"Hard day?" Jesse asks with Finn still curled around him.
Rachel nods and sinks into his arms. "Auditions suck."
Jesse and Finn both laugh, and Rachel looks mad for a second, like she thinks they are mocking her, but he kisses her on the nose and says, "We were just discussing that," and everything is okay.
It takes him a while, but Finn eventually notices that Jesse isn't eating. It's not like they can afford much, but when Finn has a little extra money, he picks up one of those horrible Little Debbie oatmeal cream-filled abominations that Jesse loves, and then watches him eat it. The strain is getting to them all. Jesse and Rachel have never gone hungry before, never needed something and been unable to afford it. Finn remembers lean years, when he and his mom were living off food stamps and church charity. He remembers wearing jeans with holes in the knees and sneakers that were just a little too small. He remembers nights when his mom fed him and didn't eat herself.
So when he realizes it's not that Jesse isn't eating because they don't have the money, but that he's sneaking his food to Rachel or to Kayleigh and Maddie who share the twin on the other side of the room, Finn gets concerned.
"It just doesn't taste good," Jesse says with a shrug.
"It's food, man," Finn says. "You just eat it."
"Not hungry," Jesse says again, and this time Finn notices the hollows under his eyes and the fact his jeans are hanging looser than they did a month ago.
It's not like Finn hasn't dropped some pounds either, but Jesse had less to lose and is starting to approach gaunt. So Finn brings home treats, and watches Jesse eat them, and sometimes reinforces the whole message with a blow job: eating is good.
Jesse watches Rachel. He ran away for her, to keep her safe, that's what he tells himself. That way staying in New York isn't selfish, even when his money runs out and the three of them become just another set of kids trying to make it in New York and failing.
Rachel still refuses to tell him who was giving her those bruises back in Lima. She doesn't talk about Ohio at all. For a while, New York even made her smile. Now, she just looks tired.
It's late when she comes home, and she stumbles a little crawling in between him and Finn. Finn's been working unloading things again, and he'd collapsed into bed exhausted an hour ago, and doesn't even notice Rachel. Jesse on the other hand can smell the alcohol on her breath and hear the slur in her voice.
"I got a part. It's just an understudy in the chorus, but it's a job," she says. Two months ago, this statement would've been proceeded by twirling jumps and excited squeaks, but tonight Rachel almost sounds sad. Jesse tries not to wonder exactly what she'd had to do to get the part.
"Congratulations," he says, instead of any of the things he is thinking, and wraps her in his arms.
Rachel used to be in love with this city. In her dreams, New York welcomes her with open arms, embracing their newest star with enthusiasm and awe. In reality, no wants Rachel Berry, not even in the chorus. No one has time for some unknown, under-aged little girl, even if she can sing. She's not the only one.
Rachel has gone to enough auditions that she recognizes some of the other girls. Girls like her, who bet on their talent and New York, and are now on their thirtieth audition with nothing to show for it. Sitting there besides the same red-headed girl with the southern accent for the fifth time in a row is when Rachel decides principals be damned, she has to do something about this.
This time, when the director's assistant, Alan, corners her, she lets him feel her up. This time, her name is on the list to be an understudy, and she'll do whatever she needs to do to keep moving up.
Finn is trying to arrange a laundry run, which is why Jesse is sitting bare chested and bare foot on the bare mattress. It's chilly in the room, and Finn can count Jesse's ribs from where he's standing. "Aren't you cold, man?" Finn asks. Jesse has been worn down by the stress and the not eating, and sometimes Finn looks at him and thinks he's above to fall over and pass out, but he hasn't yet. Or at least, not when Finn has been there to see it.
Jesse smirks, and it's strange these days how much that warms his heart, instead of making him want to slug Jesse in the face.
"Impervious, man. Can't let the heat or lack of it effect you in Show Choir, you know," Jesse says.
"So you trained in the arctic?" Finn asks, teasing.
"Corcoran had rules," Jesse explains. "And you paid if you broke the rules. I tried not to have to sing in the deep freeze in the cafeteria, but even Jesse St. James isn't perfect all the time. And besides, you get used to it."
Finn boggles at this revelation.
"Rachel?" Jesse asks, as she stumbles in, clothes askew and pupils blown. She's been crying, and has tried to clean up the aftermath, but he's knows her. She comes to him and lets him hug her close, but doesn't say anything. This isn't the first time she's come home high, but it's the first time she's come home broken.
"I… I thought New York would be better. I thought people in New York would be better," she finally says.
"What happened?" he asks.
"Nothing," she says, "nothing at all," and then she is silent.
Jesse gets Finn, because he doesn't know what to do with a Rachel that won't talk to him. Finn goes through the same line of questions, but Jesse has to answer them, because Rachel can't or won't.
She lets them hustle her into the shower, and leans against Finn as Jesse carefully washes away the last traces of her tears.
Finn makes the call, even though he doesn't know if it the right thing to do, because anything has to be better than this. Jesse is skin and bones and Rachel won't talk, and Finn can't lose them. So he dials a number he knows by heart, and when his mom picks up, his voice cracks, but he manages to ask for help.