It's one of the few jobs in the world where the patrons arrive before the employees.

Jesse St. James has grown used to it, used to walking up from the red-brick walls of the subway stop on 49th street, ignoring all the confused looks on the faces of those too gaudily and casually dressed to be anyone other than tourists, and seeing the line waiting for him. There's always a line winding around those ever-recognizable red steps, sometimes even all the way around, already twisting and turning. He watches it grow as he walks closer, already trying to pick out those in the line pointing at the different billboards flashing around in Times Square.

Unlike some, he doesn't have a uniform. There are the boys and girls from Chicago, always wearing tight black clothes and those hideous red tights and dance shoes, playing with their hats and sashaying up and down the street. Some wear sweatshirts or T-shirts, depending on the weather, always ill fitting and not the least bit flattering. For a time there had been the gorgeous woman forced to wear a tiny sequined dress and an outrageous headdress, thrusting brightly colored pamphlets towards anyone who looked like drag queens and gay people wouldn't offend them.

(He wasn't sure who was happier when that show closed: her or the producers of Annie.)

No, as long as Jesse isn't wandering around with his dick hanging out, he can pretty much wear whatever the hell he wants, which is a blessing in the extremes of New York City weather. He's right in the middle of things, all day every day, grinning at everyone lined up for the TKTS booth, carrying around a stack of flyers for shows he wasn't in, pretending to love the fact that he was gushing about some twenty-something young male lead who had already done the hard part and made it to Broadway.

As much as he loved having a career in theatre, this really wasn't the one he'd been hoping for.

Today was rather brisk, making Jesse pleased with his earlier decision to don a windbreaker. The fabric rustled as he moved, but the noise was lost amidst the shouts and clamor and honking horns that made up the center of the center of the universe. Locating his boss, who was standing near one of the boards that would soon be lit up with the shows they were offering discounts for, Jesse walked over to her, doing nothing more than greeting her by name and with a wave. There was no clocking in here; as long as she saw him working, he'd get written down for his allotted hours.

His job was a specific one. Digging through the bag tied to a street sign, Jesse pulled out flyers for the shows his particular company represented. He counted himself lucky that he didn't have to pretend to love a show he hated; the only sore spot on his list was Mamma Mia!, but that show didn't even need him handing out flyers to get people to buy tickets.

With a stack of four different flyers tucked under his arm, work began for the day. Jesse made his way up and down the curving queue, greeting everyone in line with a smile so brilliant it made his face hurt, holding up a flyer for his favorite, The Best Man, saying over and over and over, "Buy discounted tickets for The Best Man, starring award-winning actor James Earl Jones and multiple Tony-winner Angela Lansbury, as well as many other favorite names!"

It was dull work, to tell the truth, but Jesse had learned to love the moments later in the day once the line started moving and he was actually able to talk to those waiting in it. Then it really was just getting paid to talk about theatre, which he didn't mind, not really, not even when he had to grit his teeth and pretend that he loved that fucking Spiderman musical.

"Where's Phantom of the Opera?" he was finally asked, once the line started moving.

"The Majestic Theatre on 44th and 8th," he answered, not missing a beat. Looking over his shoulder at the play line, Jesse spotted one of his colleagues. Shouting the man's name, he waited until the man looked over, then held up one finger.

Both of them would need more than two hands to tally the number of times they were asked that every day.

Jesse eventually claimed a spot right where the line turned, which was considered one of the best spots for promoters. He kept his flyers held up at eye-level, trying to sell a play to a line full of people looking for musicals, and was at it for almost two hours before he decided to give up and go with Ghost instead.

"That's my favorite movie," a man further down in the line said, hearing Jesse's new repeated sentence. Jesse made his grin widen, handing the man a flyer.

"The musical's even better," he lied. "Today we have a wonderful discount for orchestra-level seats."

"Really?" the man's face split into a grin that rivaled Jesse's, except this man's was actually real.

"Of course," Jesse lied again. He had no idea where the seats would be, where this man might end up sitting, but it wasn't his job to be honest. It was his job to sell the show that was paying his bills. "It has a wonderful cast, many of them coming right over from London to continue on, including three of the four leads." He raised his voice slightly as he continued. "Ghost, the only musical on Broadway where you can watch a man walk through a door and disappear right before your eyes."

False again. Vanishing acts were part of several shows, but Jesse wasn't about to go telling anyone that, especially not the ones who thought Phantom of the Opera ended like the movie, with the Phantom walking through a mirror instead of disappearing after sitting down in his chair.

Not that Jesse was bitter about shitty movie musicals for even shittier shows, or anything.

"Thanks," the man looked down at the flyer he'd taken. "I'm definitely seeing this one, then."

"Enjoy the show," Jesse recited.

"I'm sorry, but you're just not what we're looking for."

Jesse didn't even bother thanking them for their time. He grabbed his headshot and resume from where he'd placed them on the table, swung his bag wildly over his shoulder, and stormed out of the room. He didn't slam the door behind him, but he didn't ease it shut, either.

A tantrum storm-out.

He hadn't acted that childish since his sophomore year of high school, and now here he was, a fucking grown man, barreling out of an audition as if he'd received news that his cat had been murdered. (Yes, cat, because who the hell else was a nobody in New York supposed to know and love?) Jesse didn't stop until he was out of the building, then sank down against the windowsill, letting his bag drop to his feet.

"Hey, you got a dollar?"

There was a (presumably) homeless man sitting a few feet away, shaking a small plastic cup at him. Jesse ignored him, but the man was persistent.

"What are you, deaf? Gimme a dollar."

"I don't have anything for you," Jesse said bitterly, fixing the man with a glare. "You're wasting your time here, anyway. Nobody in there has anything to spare."

"Says the kid in new clothes with a designer label bag."

"Coming from a bum off the street who smells like piss and weed." Jesse picked up his bag again. "And it's a knockoff from the street sellers on 53rd." He started to leave, but then turned, adding, "And my clothes aren't new. They're just clean. You might want to try cleaning your own clothes once in a while."

Arguing with a homeless man who just wanted a dollar for either alcohol or drugs or even food. The great Jesse St. James really had fallen, and he'd fallen far.

He hobbled across the stage, hands slick with sweat and his face beginning to feel chalky from the thick makeup. The crutch under his arm wasn't heavy any longer, not since they'd had nearly a month of rehearsal time, but it was still an annoyance.

But he was an actor, and a damn good actor at that, especially seeing how he'd had to pretend not to know what 'damn' meant when he'd said it at the dinner table two nights ago. His mother had gasped and his father had looked as though he wanted to hit him, but the little boy just shrugged and said as nonchalantly as if it had been true, "I heard it at school. It means 'cool,' right?"

Hitting his mark just as the music swelled, the lead scooped him up into his arms. It was easy for him; the small boy was only six. Still holding the crutch in one hand, the little boy wound the other around the man's neck, leaning closer into what was unmistakably a hug.

"God bless us, everyone," he told the crowd, his fake British accent nothing short of perfection.

Thunderous applause met the child's words.

The alarm sounded nothing like applause, not anymore. Before he'd ended up just like everyone else struggling to make ends meet, he would never have mistaken the rushing water of his alarm clock for applause. A few months ago, he'd found himself waking in a half-dream state, pretending that he was being applauded for a death scene he was rising from, the close of the play, the grand finale.

Now it just made him need to piss even more than usual.

He'd dreamt of his debut again, but the man staring back at him in the mirror had nothing in common with that sweet little boy of six, except maybe the mop of wavy brown hair atop his head.

Jesse's phone buzzed.

Equity-only auditions for the new Ghost swing; noon on the fifth floor of 1620 61st St.

He called in sick at work.

It wasn't a lie. He was sick. Only a man with a serious disease would keep trying after this long, after being turned down so many times, again and again and again, to the point where he went in expecting not to land the role.

He just kept on falling.

"Tickets to the best show on Broadway, Mamma Mia!, on sale today at a 50% discount!"

"So are you starting to buy your own BS?" a voice muttered in his ear.

Jesse turned, so used to the man's games that he didn't even flinch anymore.

"No, I'm doing my job," he shot back. "Which is more than can be said for some of us."

"Fuck you," Ian dared to say, but then his entire face lit up a mere second later, and he was handing a flyer to an elderly woman, telling her how wonderful Mary Poppins was and how she just couldn't not take her grandkids to see it.

Rolling his eyes, Jesse gave Ian a sharp poke in the back, but left him to it, continuing on down the line, trying to hand off a Mamma Mia! flyer to someone. Anyone. Please.

"You're here again," the man who'd just taken his flyer – praise Larson above – noted, smiling at him. Jesse's smile froze, trying to place this man. He was young, probably younger than Jesse himself, so maybe they'd gone to college together, or even high school, or maybe this guy was one of those up-and-coming teenyboppers who had bested Jesse out of every single audition he'd managed to turn up to since –

"You told me to see Ghost," the man supplied.

"Great," Jesse feigned remembrance; he told a lot of people to go see Ghost.

"I loved it," the man gushed. "So much that I brought along my sister-in-law last week. Now it's my brother's turn." The man looked over his shoulder, as if expecting to see someone he knew pop up behind him, presumably someone he didn't want to see. Then he leaned closer, speaking more quietly. "Can you help me pick a show for him?"

"Of course," Jesse nodded. "I'm here to help. So who exactly are we picking for? What's he like?"

These were the types of patrons he enjoyed, the kind who had absolutely no idea what they were doing and wanted to please everyone with the show they ended up choosing. He'd ask them what shows they'd seen before, what sort of music they enjoyed, if they wanted to laugh or cry, and in the end he'd always try to slip in one of the shows he worked for (because that was his job, after all), but he'd also give his honest opinion.

"He'll want a comedy, and a musical, even though he thinks musicals are for girls and boys who look like girls." The way the man's voice hardened made Jesse assume that 'boys who look like girls' was a sensitive topic. "He falls asleep during plays, unless there's a play out there that's more attention-holding than something that has people bursting into song every five minutes."

"You could try One Man, Two Guvnors, with Tony winner James Corden in the lead," Jesse suggested. None of his shows fit the bill; his plays relied on the audience caring enough to pay attention in the first place, while his musicals were arguably two of the campiest and cheesiest shows on Broadway.

"Avenue Q is always good for something funny," he added. "Harvey, maybe, that's another play, but it might be a bit too… slow, considering what you've told me. Or just take him downtown to see Silence!, the parody of Silence of the Lambs."

"A parody of Silence of the Lambs?" the man sounded skeptical.

"Turned into a wildly hilarious and – pardon my French, but you'll hear a lot worse if you do choose this one – fucking genius comedy," Jesse recited, because, yes, even that was a line he'd committed to memory ever since the show had opened.

"Okay," the man was nodding, a laugh playing about his lips. "Yeah, I think I'll go with that one. Thanks."

"Enjoy the–"

"I'm Blaine," the man switched the Mamma Mia! flyer he'd taken from Jesse to his left hand, holding out his right for Jesse to shake, not seeming to have realized that the conversation had ended and that Jesse was working. Nevertheless, Jesse shook the offered hand, his practiced grin softening into more of a genuine smile. It was a relief to his cheeks, that was for sure.

"Jesse," he gave the man his name as well.

"Thanks for your help, Jesse."

"Enjoy the show."

"Hello, Mr. St. James. We are pleased to inform you that you have been given a callback for the swing position in Ghost the Musical. Please be at the rehearsal studio this Sunday at nine am."

It wasn't until Jesse had danced around his entire apartment with all three of his roommates that he realized just how pathetic he had to look. Thankfully, all three had the decency to at least act excited, even though he was almost positive that none of them knew what a callback was.

That realization was confirmed at dinner, because yes, he'd ended up rooming with three homebodies who liked sit-down "family" dinners. Not that he was complaining, because he couldn't cook and as long as he paid for a fourth of the food they ate, nobody complained about his lack of time in the kitchen.

"So we're all employed now," Danny raised his wine glass. "A toast, to four long and happy careers."

Jesse raised his own glass and drained the cheap wine in one go. He didn't mention that he already had a job, because telling a low-rung at a law firm, a stock broker, and a high school teacher that he was still handing out flyers in Times Square really wasn't the best way to set them all straight.

This was one of those nights when he wondered how the hell they'd ended up all living together, and why the other three hadn't abandoned him for a larger, nicer place. The kind that came with a wife and kids, too. (Or a husband and kids, since he had Evan to account for as well.)

"What if I just lied and told them I'm only twenty?" Jesse wondered aloud, stirring his cheap coffee and glaring at the grossly offensive signed poster from the revival of Hair that was across from their table.

"Honey, you're twenty-three," Charlotte reached across the table to pat his hand. "If you start lying about your age now, you'll hate yourself once you hit thirty."

"I will never turn thirty," Jesse promised.

"In brains, maybe," she raised her eyebrows.

"Don't blame me; blame the industry," he informed her, taking a sip of his coffee and almost gagging before setting it back down. "It's not my fault everyone's started casting twenty-year-olds to play roles meant for those of us in our old age. I thought that stopped after high school."

"You have so much to learn." She stood up, fixing her sunglasses back atop her nose, hiding the rather hideous and ostentatious makeup lining her eyes.

"It'd be easier to learn it if I got cast in something," he pointed out.

"Do you want my honest advice?" she asked, hesitating, though her body was already angled towards the door. Setting a foot down on her chair, Charlotte rolled up the leg of her yoga pants, showing off a swollen knee decorated with a huge blue and purple bruise. "Quit now and go become a lawyer before you get one of these. There's enough acting in the courtrooms to keep us all employed for years, according to my father."

She blew him a kiss, then dashed out, leaving the smell of grease paint and hairspray behind her.

"But I don't want to be a lawyer," Jesse whined at the now empty seat opposite.

The man sitting at the booth across from his table looked over at him and frowned.

"Unless you have a job opening," he amended, meeting the man's gaze hopefully. The man just grumbled something and went back to his food.

"Hi, Jesse!"

He looked behind himself first, used to his colleagues being the only ones who addressed him by name. Nobody was there, except for a group of tourists trying to squeeze everyone into a group picture, so he quickly turned around before one of them saw him looking and asked if he could take it for them.

A man further down in the line was waving to him.

"Hey!" Jesse pretended to remember him.

"Cooper loved Silence! and so did I," the man informed him. "You're really good at this."

"That's what got me hired," Jesse joked, though it had actually been his stunning performance as someone who didn't hate where he was that had gotten him the job. Theatre knowledge was just a perk.

"I have a friend in town," the man began, "and he doesn't get to come to the city often, so he already went ahead and got tickets to the big-name shows. I want to take him to something…." He paused, obviously searching for the right word just as Jesse was searching for his name. He remembered the man introducing himself, but couldn't remember the name he'd supplied.

"All musicals, I'm assuming?" Jesse broke in. The man nodded. "Perfect." Jesse handed him a flyer for Peter and the Starcatcher. "This one's a play that tells the prequel to Peter Pan. The writing is witty and clever with a really strong ensemble cast who play over a hundred characters."

"Is that Christian Borle from–"

"Yes, Smash."

"No," the man's face reddened a tinge, "Legally Blonde."

Jesse stared at him. The man's eyes flicked down to the ground, then over Jesse's shoulder, then he hunched his shoulders slightly when he looked back up into Jesse's face.

"I think I love you," Jesse told the man.

They both laughed, and Jesse wished he could remember the man's name.

"Well, what time do you get off?" the man asked. Not entirely sure if he was serious, Jesse didn't answer. Not really.

"When Broadway wakes up."

(Translation: he got off work the moment the theatres dimmed their lights and the shows begun, because they only sold tickets for the day-of, and they could hardly sell them after the shows started, could they? Or, for those not versed in theatre: eight pm.)

The man seemed to figure out what he meant, because then he was asking, "So do you want to come with us to see this?" holding up the flyer Jesse had just given him.

"I got comps last week."

He'd never been asked by someone in line if he'd like to tag along, but Jesse had been specifically instructed to never take anything from a patron. If asked to go somewhere or if they offered money, he should always refuse, even if the invitation was for sometime after work hours. So instead, he lied about the comp tickets. The truth was that he hadn't seen the show since previews, but who was here to call his bluff?

"Comps?" the man frowned.

And Jesse really didn't feel like explaining about how his job required him to see every show on and off Broadway, and he regularly got into shows for free. So he told another lie.

"I have a friend in the cast who got me in for free."

"Okay," the man wasn't deterred. He reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a business card. "Then just call me sometime."

"Well that's not fair," Jesse smiled impishly, putting his hands on his hips for an instant before taking the card. "I confess my love to a complete stranger and now I have to be the one to call? Where ever did you learn your manners," he glanced down at the card, "Blaine Anderson?" Flipping it over, Jesse pulled a pen out of the bag slung over his shoulder, writing his own name and number across it and handing it back.

He hobbled across the stage again. The crutch beneath his arm felt wobbly, like its bottom suddenly wasn't tipped with rubber but instead was made of the same slippery wood from top to bottom. He tried not to lean on it as he pretended to limp over to where the lead actor was waiting for him, but he'd practiced with it in rehearsals. He was used to leaning onto it, used to limping and using the crutch as just that – a crutch.

It slid from his grasp, spinning across the stage as he stood there awkwardly on two feet, trying to lean to one side in order to make it look like he was struggling on his feet. The music swelled too soon, or maybe this was all his fault, and by the time the older man met him halfway and scooped him up, he had to shout his line in order to be heard.

"God bless us, everyone," he roared, hands shaking.

The crowd seemed not to hear. The standing ovation never happened; they all waited until the music began to slow and the lights began to dim, then began applauding just in time for the curtain to go down.

The older man's body seemed to flinch away from everything, and he collapsed to the floor, the small child crumpling beneath him. He felt his eyes leaking tears, and he opened his mouth to cry out –

It's been two weeks and he hasn't heard back about his callback.

(It's been two and a half weeks, and Blaine hasn't called him. Not that he's counting.)

He had another audition that morning and a tickle in his throat, so Jesse had spent the early morning drowning in tea and "fumigating the kitchen," as Evan liked to call it. It was insanely unhealthy to consume more than four cough drops at once, but Jesse ate them like candy, interspersing them with long gulps of tea. He finally ended the morning with his head in the fridge, drinking coffee cream out of the carton and hoping it would soothe and coat his throat, even though he's been cautioned against dairy since he entered the business.

Desperate men go to desperate measures.

A scarf wrapped tightly around his neck despite the recent spike in temperature, Jesse took the train downtown, looking over his 16 bar audition song and his monologue, continually scrubbing at his eyes whenever his eyelids drooped. It really was too early to be alive, much less awake.

His movements were rusty during the warm-up, and his dancing was sloppy once they learned the routine. He hadn't even bothered to warm up his voice, being so focused on pushing that tickle all the way down to his stomach and to piss it out before leaving the apartment, so he sang his 16 bars with no prep. He probably sounded terrible, but nobody flinched and he didn't cough until he'd left the room so the next hopeful could go in.

Then he sat on the toilet for a full five minutes, willing his bladder to empty itself and not start reminding him a half hour later about all that tea he'd drunk. By that time he heard frantic footsteps outside the door, so he gave that up as a bad job, joining up with the rest just in time to go in for the dance portion of the audition.

When that was over, he had to pee again, except he still had to give his monologue. Jesse glared down at the paper, wishing he'd picked something darker, something during which he could hunch over and be in pain, instead of something where he gallivanted around the room like a fool.

Hey, he was trying for a role in a musical comedy, so it had made sense at the time.

After holding his piss for thirty minutes too many, Jesse was free.

On the train ride to work, he sat completely still, staring blankly in front of himself as he realized that he'd just equated leaving an audition with freedom.

The train clacked and shook and it sounded like it was falling, too.

"Peter and the Starcatcher, starring Christian Borle from Smash, the prequel story to the beloved classic tale of Peter Pan," Jesse parroted at the queue. He handed out flyer after flyer, praising the show, taking particular care to give the flyers to the little kids in line. "Peter and the Starcatcher, the perfect show for the whole family!"

"That's a really good show," he heard someone saying further down in the line. Looking for the speaker, Jesse's eyes found Blaine. Blaine was looking over at him, and their eyes met for a moment and a half before the other turned away, looking pointedly in the other direction.

Jesse walked down the line, handing out flyers and recommending shows as he goes, walking straight past Blaine as if the other wasn't ignoring his existence. He walked down the line once for Peter and the Starcatcher, then retraces his steps handing out flyers for The Best Man instead, following that round with Ghost.

He only promoted for Mamma Mia! as a last resort, so when he reached Blaine for the third time, instead of walking past the back of his head (which was covered with thick-looking dark hair, though it was plastered down with an even thicker-looking layer of gel), Jesse gave him a hard poke in the arm.

"Ow!" Blaine turned. "Oh." His face reddened. "Hi, Jesse."

"So how's it go with your friend at Starcatcher?" he asked. Blaine frowned, cocking his head slightly to one side. "Come on," Jesse pressed, "I need to know if my advice is still the best there is."

"He loved it," Blaine admitted.

"So who are we buying for today?" Jesse asked. "I can't break my perfect record, can I?"

"Perfect record?" Blaine still looked confused.

"I got you to see Ghost – twice – and then you picked Silence! for your brother, and now Starcatcher. Either I'm the best damn promoter there is or you love me too much to say no."

Blaine's face looked like a tomato.

"Look, Jesse, I should have called, and–"

"Ooh, bad word choice," Jesse broke in, but then he reached out to lay a hand on Blaine's arm. "That probably made me sound like a dick. Look, I don't even know you. It's not like I woke up one morning and found you gone, so why the hell should I go all pre-teen on you just because you didn't call me?" He smiled. "I'm doing my job and helping out someone who wants to see a show. So, tell me: what sort of show are we looking for today?"

Blaine rolled his eyes, and for a second Jesse thought he was going to turn away and ignore him some more, but then he said with such savage resignation that Jesse couldn't help but laugh: "Annie."

"Why in God's name would you–" Jesse cut himself off, knowing just how terrible it would look if he bad-mouthed a show when it was his job to be impartial and offer helpful advice.

Blaine was laughing now.

"Trust me, I don't want to," he shook his head. "But my friend's in it, and she's going on tonight."

"I didn't know you had a friend in the show," Jesse said automatically, as if by reflex, despite the fact that he didn't know who any of Blaine's friends were.

"And I'm all too aware of that fact," Blaine rolled his eyes again. "I get reminded daily."

"Well, enjoy the show," Jesse told him.

"Are you supposed to say that?" Blaine asked, even as Jesse had taken a step away.

"Say what?" he looked back over his shoulder.

"Enjoy the show," Blaine quoted.

"Ask me after work and maybe I'll tell you."

"You're a real sweetie, you know that?" Charlotte looked up at him from her spot on her couch, eyes soft and her lips curved upwards.

"Don't spread that around; it'll ruin my rep," Jesse told her, but then he was leaning down to hug her and kissed the top of her head. "So let me see it."

"And now you're not," Charlotte gave him a shove, setting the bowl of soup Jesse had made for her down on the table next to the couch. She peeled away a damp towel resting on top of her knee, the same knee with the gigantic bruise she'd shown him almost a month ago. The discoloration was still there, though redder than it had been, the entire joint area swollen.

"In comparison," Charlotte bent and straightened her uninjured knee, showing it off. "Look at how lovely and dainty my knees are supposed to be. I'm like a fucking Disney princess!"

"A Disney princess who plays a stripper every night," he reminded her, smirking and sitting down in the armchair across from her couch.

"A Broadway stripper," she corrected. "Get your facts straight, St. James, before you try to insult my show. You might share the name of a theatre, but only one of us works inside one."

Jesse had to clench his teeth to stop his jaw from dropping. Charlotte immediately knew she'd hit a sore spot, for her head fell back against her pillow, one hand covering her eyes as she groaned.

"I'm a bitch, honey. My knee is turning me into the wicked witch of the west, and not in the good way." Sighing, she sat back up, covering her knee with the damp towel again. "I'm sorry."

"Well… it's the truth," Jesse forced the words out.

"If I could move, I'd sit in your lap and make you forget the truth."

"A horny bitch, then," Jesse laughed.

"A horny bitch and her unemployed bastard." Jesse didn't bother reminding Charlotte that he had a job. "Promise me if we turn thirty and we're still single, you'll marry me so I can pop out a kid with good genes to satisfy my fucking mother."

"Seven more years of my life to find my perfect someone," Jesse smirked. "How generous."

"Hey, get that dumb look off your face." Charlotte pointed at him accusingly. "You don't need seven years. Go outside right now and proclaim to the world that you're single, and half the street will jump you."

"You live in Astoria," Jesse reminded her.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," she put on a standoffish air. "The entire street, then."

"That's not what I meant!" he insisted, but then the pair of them were laughing again and it didn't really matter what either one of them had meant. Charlotte picked up the bowl of soup again, scooping up a spoonful and blowing on it.

"Go make yourself a can," she told him.

"I'm not–"

"Go make yourself a can," she repeated. "Fill that empty stomach like you're trying to fill your soul. I keep telling you to quit and do something productive, but do you listen to me? Nope."

"It's easy for you to say," Jesse snapped suddenly. "You have a job. You're on Broadway. You don't know what it's like, to want something so badly it physically hurts, to the point where you can't even properly remember the last time you were on a stage doing something you loved. I want it more than anything, and I keep getting told no, for no other reason than 'Oh, we're sorry, but we've already cast Nick Jonas,' or 'You're not right for the part,' no matter what the fuck I did to make myself look like the character or sound like the character and it's just so. Fucking. Unfair."

Charlotte had slopped soup on herself, presumably when she'd jumped at his harsh words. He didn't remember standing up, but he was standing now.

"Look at my fucking knee, Jesse," she threw the bowl at him, still steaming soup and porcelain hurling at his head. He ducked, just in time, though she threw her towel at him next, which caught him full in the face. "Look at it! We all make sacrifices to be where we are. I can't even fucking walk anymore, and you're whining about how it's so hard to have the use of all four limbs, how hard it is to be twenty-fucking-three and unemployed, like you don't have the rest of your life to make it."

"You've made it!" Jesse yelled back. "You're on Broadway! You're twenty-fucking-three too, in case you've forgotten, and you have the life I want. So excuse me for being a little bit upset when you act like it's nothing."

"I can't wait until your first injury."

"I can't wait until you're unemployed."

"Get the fuck out of my apartment!"

This time when he stormed out, he slammed the door shut.