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15 May 2010 @ 12:53 pm
This City Is For Strangers :: Fic  

Title: This City Is For Strangers
Author: WhenLighteningStrikes/youcallitwinter
Rating: Boderline R
Pairing: Will/Rachel
Words: 1800
Summary: She tries so incredibly hard, and she wants so badly to grow up, but in this moment she's very, very sixteen.
Setting: After Like a Virgin in 'The Power of Madonna'
Author Notes: Well, I apologize in advance. I'm still getting the hang of the fandom and I have a feeling I should have attempted Rachel first. :) And, I should really start looking into the number of plot contrivances I seem to be able to fit in a single fic.
Disclaimer: disclaimed



He opens the door and (yeah, well, hindsight is twenty-twenty).


"Rachel?" The thing is; he should have guessed. How many other people in his life would have tried developing a harmony through a repeated pattern on the doorbell?

He slumps against the frame, too tired to ask her how she got his new address. And he knew he'd partly opened the door because he'd thought it might be Emma again. Emma, who'd given him a stricken look, told him she couldn't do it, and had run away in the middle of their would-be lovemaking session. And now he's aching and aroused and Rachel Berry has the worst timing ever.

"Mr. Schue, I have something to say," she begins determinedly and his mind slips to another day, another time when she'd been inside his house and it strikes him with all the subtlety of Brittany trying to play a Beethoven symphony- this (whatever this is) is a really, really bad idea.

"Rachel, whatever you might have to say, I'm sure it can wait till the next Glee club meeting. I don't really think this is…"

"…appropriate," she ends, wryly, twisting her lips into the expression that's so familiar, he nearly smiles. Nearly. "Yes, Mr. Schue, I am aware you feel so. However, I was caught up in a dilemma and had it not concerned the Glee club, I wouldn't have come to you."

He glances over her head, at the blinding night outside, and common courtesy demands he call her in, but it's a self-preservation thing and he won't. "Right. Good. What is it?"

She stares at a fixed point, somewhere near his wall-clock, "Mr. Schue, I think this…thing…we have is disrupting my routine."

He stares at her blankly, "which thing who has is doing what?"

("Admit it Mr. Schue, you don't like me very much"). There are several things that annoy him about Rachel Berry. She makes him lose coherence, and mostly he's left standing as she walks out the door, like some badly made, straight-to-DVD-movie. And though she's his student and he's supposed to be the mature one in their mess of an almost-relationship (almost-friendship, almost-understanding, almost-sympathy, almost-a lot of things) there are times when he creates his set-lists just so she won't have the upper hand, and when he thinks about it (rarely) he hates the fact that she reduces him to high-school tactics.

"This," she points to herself, and then, almost reluctantly points her finger square at his chest, "I am extremely disappointed Mr. Schue, and as one professional to another, I think your behavior falls short of expected standards."

"Rachel," he doesn't laugh, and it's no mean feat because she tries incredibly hard and she wants so badly to grow-up, but in this moment, with her hair tied up, her face free of make-up, wearing one of her usual childlike dresses, she's very, very sixteen, "I apologize for my unprofessionalism, but under your expert guidance, I'm sure I shall soon see the light."

"You're being sarcastic, Mr. Schue," she says severely, "and frankly your ability to laugh off a matter which is surely going to affect our chances at Regionals is rather disturbing."

He schools his features into seriousness, and feels his insides clench in tenderness, but she'll never forgive him if he ruffles her hair, "I'm sorry, Rachel. But you're going to have to explain this one to me."

And because he's looking at her, he catches the sudden helplessness in her eyes which makes him realize that she'd been hoping for some sort of telepathic communion, "Mr. Schuester, as you are aware I had…feelings…for you a while ago. And I am aware I messed up and embarrassed both of us pretty badly," she's moving her hands a lot (and no, no this isn't good), "and I also know that as a teacher, it was your moral responsibility to…say the things you did. And that special mash-up you made to explain your tactical position on the subject-matter," ('temptation, frustration, so bad it makes him cry', which just goes to prove that on top of everything else, he's also a fucking idiot), "but I also don't think it's fair that you should keep punishing me for that…indiscretion, especially since it's affecting my performing skills, and I really think…" She's talking too fast and if there's anything he's known about her, it's that she has a knack for bringing into sharp focus those conversations which should only really be going on in parentheses.

"Rachel," and (oh god) it had to be this, right now, obviously, "I can assure you I'm not 'punishing' you or anything, you're completely overreacting. It was just a phase and it's passed, and you are exactly like all my other students to me," (it's true, she's just a lot more persistent, and infuriating and she sings and makes him feel...makes him feel, but she's almost exactly like all his other students and, well, he's started accepting the almosts).

She looks straight at him and swallows hard, "you don't touch me, Mr. Schue."

He laughs outright then, and it sounds a little odd, like he's trying something on for size but it doesn't quite fit, "that's insane, Rach, I touch you quite a lot." And he hopes she's still too young to get the various implications because that's not what he means. Although he doesn't need to justify, even in his mind, because the possibility of it meaning anything…other than what it means on the surface, is non-existent.

Before he can react, his hand is entwined with hers (he can think of thirty-three countries off the top of his head where it's probably illegal) and almost as part of a reflex action, he snatches his hand back, "What the hell are you…"

"See," she tells him, and she's never been able to establish her point without that tone of triumph (and how exactly is it that he mostly seems to end up on the losing end?) "Hence proved."

"Don't be ridiculous, Rachel," he's snapping, and maybe there's a professional code and written rules about how to deal with a situation like this but every conversation with Rachel Berry is a confrontation and if he's able to form sentences, he calls it a victory, "and I don't think this is the time or the place to discuss something that is nothing more than a figment of your imagination."

"Don't think I haven't noticed, Mr. Schue. You haven't chosen me as your partner to show a dance routine since I…since...that time. And as bizarre as your choices for the solo performers are, at least you make them with a view of neutralizing the edge that my training has given me over the other members, which admittedly is a lot. But how exactly would you like to be told, repeatedly, that you're so unattractive that even someone as asexual as a teacher is repulsed by you? Although admittedly, in pop culture teachers aren't really considered asexual, in fact movies like 'Notes on a Scandal' and songs like the Busted hit, What I go to School For, definitely serve to create an erotic dimension in the conventional student-teacher relationship. Not to mention that I myself felt an...attraction towards you, although I assure you it's completely gone, so... "

He interrupts. Because it'd be nice if he could manage to get through this endless night with his sanity intact. Only one person could have said that, paraphrased in Rachel-Berry-terms, "Puck is in permanent word-vomit mode, Rachel; he doesn't mean half the things he says."

"Well, Noah, whether intentionally or unintentionally has hurt me very much, and I think I deserve some sort of explanation." She crosses her arms over her chest and he blames Terri ("no, honey, you know what's immoral is me having to deal with the fact that my husband spends all day with young girls who are perkier and younger than I am") but he doesn't stare because he's asexual. And thirty-two. And her teacher. And in the middle of that there's probably a whole textbook on morality and ethics.

He's had to memorize each expression, each curve of her lip to know when exactly she was going to storm out and how he was going to convince her. So he knows this expression. And he knows that beneath the drama queen act, she's actually hurt. And she's sixtee…(wait, hasn't he already covered this?)

"I just want you to touch me once," she says bluntly, and it hits him hard in the gut, because she hides behind words a lot, and now she isn't, "Finn didn't want to touch me. And Jesse tried to, right now, but I…I could only think of you because…well, I suppose he looks a little like you. And I couldn't go through with it since I got so angry that you'd deliberately jeopardize our chances at Regionals for something as petty as a personal grudge. So I came here."

And she'd probably left Jesse somewhere, just as hard, just as aching as he was.

He grasps her bare shoulder tightly, (maybe her skin always feels just as impossibly soft as it does under his hands right now and maybe if…and in a wild moment there's an empty room, and that dress and he's not there, and she's not there; just her dress and his bed- stark, real, impossible), and closes his eyes, pushing her away.

She looks up at him, starry-eyed, with that wide smile which makes her look ten, (better run girl, you're much too young, girl) "see that wasn't so hard, was it, Mr. Schuester? I'm glad we've been able to put my unfortunate crush behind us. You seem to have no problems touching any of the other Glee members and as a firm believer in equal opportunities in the professional field, I think I'd have been compromising my principles had I not brought up your aversion to physical contact with me. See you at Glee practice thursday".

She's turned away, (and he hasn't compromised his principles either, so maybe that's something, unless the whole principle-compromising thing extends to the mind) but she's turning back towards him again and if he'd been staring he'd say her color is higher, but he isn't, obviously. Watching her or anything. "Is that Can't Get Enough Of Your Love", he curses himself for not shutting off the whole damn playlist that was going to be the soundtrack for the night before that never happened.

"Miss Pillsbury was here," and he doesn't need to explain, she probably doesn't want it, doesn't need it, but he still does because if there's anything he's learnt in this past hour, it's that when it comes to Rachel Berry, he never graduated high school.

"Oh," she considers this for a second, "it's a fairly conventional choice, of course, but I'd added it in as well." (oh, fuck, no, why the hell doesn't she just stop), "Along with How Deep Is Your Love. The 'No Doubt' version, because it sounds softer. And, Nine Inch Nails' Closer because I've heard it's a turn-on, although I don't see it myself, but Jesse might. And, well, Scarborough Fair. I know it's probably never been on any 'songs to make love to' list, and probably nobody has ever used it and the theme too doesn't fit traditionally, but...I don't know. I just, it's so..." she stops, with a pleading look, as if she's willing him to understand.

Then she shakes his hand, beaming, and he doesn't watch her walk away. ("I'm your teacher, Rachel, and I'm sorry, but that's all I'll ever be").

He closes the door and leans against it, just as Scarborough Fair starts playing on the recorder upstairs.


And it's only later when Emma calls him a slut in front of the entire staff-room that he realizes why. Why he'd jeopardized a real relationship for meaningless sort-of-flings. (Shelby and April remind him of someone. Almost.)



Current Mood: lazylazy
Emmasmittenrosebud on May 17th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! When I saw the icon I had to have it. That scene is one of my favourites. It reflects so much of their relationship: they're both trying to get their own way in the conversation, there's a playful element to it, and Rachel is prepared to do whatever it takes (including her bendiness *g*) to win. (And of course, Will chooses the very moment when she is in tight, revealing clothing to have that conversation. If only he was a teacher or something, and therefore had the authority to order her into his office for the purposes of conversation!) I think one of the biggest problems I had with Ballad was that it made Rachel into a simpering ninny. The Rachel we know and love wouldn't have acted like that over someone she had a crush on (look at the way she persued Finn!), she would have marched right into his office and attempted to seduce him. I liked quite a lot about that episode, but that really bugged me! ... Aaaand that turned out waaaaay longer than I had intended!

I completely agree with you. Will is better at hiding it, but it always ends up manifesting itself. He gets sort of petulant at times. Knowing how competitive and opinionated Rachel is, surely it would be better for him to call her to one side and explain to her (for example) "I'm giving the solo to Tina because she needs to feel special too". In that ep he had to have known that Rachel was going to fly off the handle, and by not talking to her first (because he's so competitive he doesn't want to "lose" by having Rachel think she's got one up on him) he doesn't really accomplish anything other than embarrassing Tina.

I've noticed the lack of touching thing too! I actually got excited when I saw the promos for "Laryngitis" because Will got close to Rachel and ohmigod actually touched her shoulder! :D

I have to say, the April/Rachel connection wasn't one I thought about much but after I read your fic it's been playing on my mind. When April was at school she was the "Rachel" of glee clubs, and I can see Rachel going off the rails if her Broadway career doesn't go to plan (despite "Laryngitis") and ending up a lush a la April. (I also have this random image of veeery veeery drunk April and veeery veeery drunk Rachel living in an apartment in New York together after their dreams of Broadway fail. /random)
manueluv: pianomanueluv on May 17th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Now you remind me...there's definitely something happening in that scene. I remember when first seeing it, I felt weird (or off), because that didn't look like the kind of talk between teacher and student. And, yeah, I agree that Will could have found Rachel at any moment any where, but he chose when she's in LEOTARD practicing ballet alone in that room. Look at their faces and the conversation they have; this scene is probably way more suggestive than the entire "Ballads." I think "Ballads" is to tactically ease some audience's discomfort at their relationship so that people can laugh at it and brush it off as some silly girl crush.

Their relationship dynamics is very competitive. Ever since the pilot, they’ve kept push each other’s buttons, test each other’s limits, and challenge each other. They just can’t stop flirting fighting to gain the upper hand. (If only they could use their energy at singing duets to one another…) Come to think of it, it is very interesting to compare Will’s relationship with other female characters in Glee. His life doesn’t lack women with strong urge to win such as Terri, Sue, and also Rachel; but his attitude and reactions are different. In arguing with Terri or Sue, Will usually leaves it; but when it comes to Rachel, he just can’t let it go.

About the lack of touching, I was excited at that Will actually held her hand when singing Ice Ice Baby, though only for a split second. :p

Your random image is hilarious. LOL Imagine how Will would react to the scene of these two slurring and singing together.
Emma: will/rachel lovesmittenrosebud on May 19th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
this scene is probably way more suggestive than the entire "Ballads."
Exactly! It's an odd scene to have between a student and a teacher (unless, of course, the writers WANT us to ship them *g*)

I miss the duets (well, okay, they only sang one but still!). it's such a shame to waste that chemistry. That's really interesting, actually. Maybe it has something to do with them being so alike. Terri and Sue are fighting in their own self-interest while Rachel and Will typically have the best interests of glee club at heart... just a difference of opinion over what is best for glee.

Me too! And the smile she gives him lights up the room!

I have this recurring image of Will coming across the two of them absolutely hammered, singing showtunes and complaining about the directors who screwed them over!