Rachel had discussed the Glee Club situation with Quinn and Puck the night before, after everyone else had gone home. Puck stayed because he wanted to try to talk to Quinn about letting him be involved with Drizzlet, but Rachel just wanted to talk about people and why Puck and Quinn thought the others had left glee. Puck had walked out of Glee Club because his baby mama had, and Rachel was the only person who'd been willing to stand up for a Lima Loser like him. He wasn't about to stay in there with no one to watch his back. (Rachel had then spent over an hour making a bullet list of all the reasons he was not "a Lima Loser" until he had begged her to just shut up.) Quinn had left because... well, she was pregnant and hormonal and just sort of hated everyone. Santana and Brittany had followed Quinn, because they'd started out as the Three Musketeers, and that's how they wanted to leave. Mike and Matt had followed Puck because football players have to have each other's backs, and they were better friends with Puck than Finn. Didn't mean they agreed with his actions, didn't mean they supported him getting Quinn pregnant, and they really didn't like Puck and Quinn lying about Finn being the father. Mike and Matt had spent the entire bus ride to Sectionals yelling at him for it, actually, and when you have the two quietest people in the entire school (seriously, the two deaf kids at McKinley talked more than Mike and Matt did) yelling at you, you tend to shut the hell up and pay the hell attention.
Walking through the halls of McKinley High School, Puck wasn't sure of a lot of things. He wasn't sure whether or not Rachel was making the right decision. He wasn't sure what kind of day it would wind up being. What he was sure of was that he'd have Rachel's back when she went to talk to Mr. Schue. Puck knew the other kids in Glee thought that Finn and Rachel were the Chosen Ones in the club. Puck was observant enough to know that Finn was the Chosen One, and Rachel was the Tolerated One. It's just that Rachel really was so good she deserved the solos. Kinda a shame, really, because just about every single one of the Glee Club members would have been stars in just about any other Glee Club. They just got the bad luck to be in the one with Rachel freaking Berry.
Puck stood by his assessment of Rachel when April Rhodes had been with them: "That Rachel chick makes me want to light myself on fire, but she really can sing".
He was pretty sure that Schue was going to give Rachel a hard time about abandoning the Club. Rachel would probably wind up getting punished, and if that happened... Well, no one would call Puck a nice person. He really, really wasn't. He was an asshole, and he embraced that part of himself. Sometimes he tried to be something better than what he was, but like he had told Rachel, by second period, he had a fire extinguisher in his hand and was spraying a nerd and didn't really know how he'd gotten to that point.
No, Puck really wasn't a nice person. But he hadn't tossed people in a dumpster for a while, and he'd even apologized to Kurt for the shit he used to do to the poor kid. He was trying to turn over a new life. A whole new plant, really. He used to be a marijuana plant, and now he was going to try to be a helpful plant. Or at least not a destructive one. (Okay, Puck was never allowed to do analogies again, because that was just freaking weird.)
But in spite of Puck's lack of niceness, if Schue tried to punish Rachel for finally standing up for herself, Puck was going to go ballistic on his butt-chinned ass. Because Rachel was annoying as hell, yeah, but she was also kind of like a little fuzzy kitten that just means well.
And thinks the world revolves around her.
But means well.
And Puck might be an asshole, but he wasn't gonna let a fluffy little fuzzy kitten get treated like that.
He and Rachel swung by Kurt's locker, so the three of them could head towards the choir room. Fourth period was the universal free period, so on Thursdays, they usually had an extra Glee rehearsal. Rachel and Kurt wanted to talk to Schue before everyone arrived for the rehearsal, so that meant Puck was sticking next to them as their new shadows. If it went well, they'd text Quinn and the others, and everyone would be back before the end of the period.
Rachel entered the room first, Kurt and Puck flanking her. She set her shoulders back. "Mr. Schuester? We would like to speak with you. Kurt has requested that Quinn, Brittany, Santana, Noah, Mike, Matt, and I myself return to Glee Club. We are not averse to this, but the others have stated that ground rules need to be laid down before everyone will return. They have granted me the right to speak for everyone."
Mr. Schue set the sheet music on the piano and gave Rachel what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile. It would probably be more believable if his smile reached his eyes. "Rachel, we'd love to have everyone back, but you can't storm out every time you don't get a solo. That's not fair to the others."
Rachel raised an eyebrow. "And yet it is fair to me to have things taken away from me when someone else has a personal issue with me? You are not my father, Mr. Schuester. I already have two of them, and I have no need for another. It is not your position, nor your right, to punish me for other people's opinions."
Puck crossed his arms behind Rachel, a smirk crossing his face.
"Rachel, I am your teacher, and you do owe me respect." The reassuring smile was slipping from Schue's face.
This time, it was Kurt who responded. "Mr. Schuester, it is no secret that Rachel and I are not exactly friends. She's overbearing, quite frankly unbearable the vast majority of the time, and high strung to the point that you want to just sneak a Xanax into her water bottle every four hours or so, just to calm her down. But that doesn't mean she's not right. Everyone, me included, you included, treat Rachel like she's lucky we're allowing her to be part of us. The truth is, we're the lucky ones. Rachel isn't just the best singer this school has ever seen. She's the best singer the state of Ohio has birthed. We want to go to Nationals, and Rachel is the one to take us there."
Mr. Schue sighed heavily. "What are the ground rules, Rachel? I don't promise you'll get them, but I'll listen."
Rachel pulled out her gold star notebook, and flipped to the page she'd been working on all through homeroom. "Number One: That interpersonal conflicts do not affect who gets what parts, and that if someone is unwilling to work with another person, the person that gets their part taken away from them is the unwilling party. It is not fair to punish someone who is not guilty. I was willing to sing with Finn. He was unwilling to be professional. My solo got taken away. That is not fair."
She took a breath and read the next one. "Number Two: Non-physical bullying not be allowed any longer. I have discussed this with Santana, Quinn and Brittany, and they have agreed to this. There is a lot of heckling and harassment that happens in practice, and it should not be allowed. We need to be learning how to unite together, not tearing each other down at every opportunity. It would be easy to say that the Cheerios are the only ones doing the mocking, but the truth is, just about everyone participates in it at one point or another, including you. That is not fair."
Rachel looked back at Puck and Kurt, and they both put their arms around her encouragingly. "Number Three: Everyone gets treated equally. Parts are given to the people who most deserve them, not the people you like more. Tina has a fantastic voice, but she has an alto range. Giving her soprano songs isn't doing anyone any favours. Kurt and I could have both done 'Defying Gravity', since it was originally a duet. There was no reason to have just me sing it as a solo. If you feel the need to divide the solos, divide them fairly. Most songs we sing have two verses and at least three times through the chorus. That means most of the songs we sing could legitimately have five solos."
Puck surprised himself by opening his mouth. "This isn't on the list, but Number Four: If personal things do need to be dealt with, don't do it in front of everyone. Take them off by themselves. There's no reason to embarrass people like that."
Mr. Schuester finally spoke again. "I can't do that, Puck. I'm a teacher, you guys are students. There has to be another person with me and a student at all times. Otherwise, I'll be fired and McKinley can be sued."
Puck rolled his eyes. "No, duh, Sherlock. I found that out last year when I tried to seduce that Holiday chick when she was subbing. Drag the kid to Mrs. Pillsbury, or ask them to bring a friend. It's not an all or nothing kind of thing."
Rachel and Kurt nodded. "I'm surprised to say this, but the mohawked neanderthal is right, Mr. Schuester. Just because you can't be alone with a student doesn't mean that you have to call someone out on things in front of everyone. Just ask yourself how you'd feel in our position."
Rachel nodded energetically. "Noah and Kurt are correct, Mr. Schuester. That was a good addition, Noah." She looked at her list again. "Number Five: What happens outside practice doesn't affect things in practice. In addition, what happens in practice doesn't affect things outside of practice. You can't punish any of us for Glee things in Spanish. And you can't punish any of us in Glee for things done in Spanish. Glee needs to be a safe place for everyone, not somewhere the bullies can get more ammunition against us."
The three of them looked at each other, satisfied with everything they'd said. Kurt lifted his chin. "I've talked to Mercedes and Tina about this, as well. They've agreed with everything we decided on, as long as solos really are decided fairly and won't automatically all go to Rachel. The only people we haven't had a chance to talk to are Artie and Finn."
Mr. Schuester just stared at them. "Well, I can tell the three of you have given it a lot of thought. I'll have to think about it."
Puck rolled his eyes. "Glee rehearsal is going to start any minute, Mr. Schue. You might as well make up your mind right now, I can get the girls and Mike and Matt, and we can get started. Unless you want to be stuck finding eight replacements."
"Eight? But only seven of you quit yesterday." Mr. Schuester's eyebrows pinched together as he tried to puzzle through it.
Kurt's cheeks were turning splotchy pink, something that happened when the smaller boy got emotional about something. "Eight. The rules that we've presented are very fair. If you disagree, then Glee isn't a place I want to be. I doubt Mercedes and Tina would want to be here, either, if they found out you weren't willing to support the changes. Where Tina goes, Artie will go. Which means you'll have a Glee Club of exactly one member."
Mr. Schuester frowned heavily. "I have to say, guys, I'm not thrilled that you're giving ultimatums here. It sets a bad example to let you do this."
It was Kurt's turn to roll his eyes. "And it doesn't set a bad example every time you've let people tear others down? Every time you've taken a solo that Rachel's earned and given it to someone else? Every time that you haven't stepped up and done your job as a faculty adviser? The truth is, Mr. Schue, you need us a lot more than we need you. We can start our own musical group and get another faculty adviser. It's not the best choice, and we would rather stay here. But if we need to, we will. We're not going to stay in an unhealthy environment for something that is an extracurricular activity. We already have to deal with the toxicity of this place every time we set foot on this campus. That's something we don't have a choice about. We do have a choice about Glee."
"We're willing to go to Figgins about this. I'm not his favourite person, but I'm pretty sure that between Kurt's dad and Rachel's dads, he'll listen to us. Not to mention all the other parents." Puck crossed his arms and glared down Schue.
Mr. Schue sighed again. "I guess all I can say is 'Welcome back', then. But I'm still not happy with you guys."
Rachel smiled false-brightly. "That is perfectly fine. Be as not happy as you would like to be. Just as long as you do not let it affect how you treat us in front of everyone else, or our grades in your class. My dads have the ACLU on speed dial. I am sure they would love a case about a poor Jewish father, an unwed mother kicked out of her home, two black students, two Asian students, a boy in a wheelchair, two lesbians, an openly homosexual student and the daughter of two gay dads being oppressed by the middle-aged Caucasian teacher. I do not wish to go that route, Mr. Schuester. But I will if I have to."