ellydash: (sometimes kurt looks ethereal)
[personal profile] ellydash
Title: Let Me See You Get Low
Pairing: Will Schuester/Kurt Hummel
Rating: NC-17
Word count: 11,600
Warnings: Former teacher/student; verbal humiliation
Spoilers: Through S2, some vague spec for S3
Note: Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] themillersson for her beta on this!

Summary: Several years after graduation, Will unexpectedly runs into Kurt at a bar. It’s not the last surprising thing that happens that night.






Hey there, friend, you’ve reached the voicemail of Shannon Beiste, athletics coach at McKinley High. I can’t answer my phone right now, but leave me a message and I’ll get back to you faster than a knife fight in a pint-sized phone booth. You have yourself a great day, okay?


“Shannon,” Will says, after the tone. He clears his throat. “Hey. Hi, pal. It’s Wednesday night – well, I guess you know that – anyway, it’s about eight o’clock and I’m sitting at home and wondering if you’re free? There’s a fight on in about an hour and I’ve got popcorn. We could make it a friendly bet or something? I can’t remember if you said you were still in town over the holiday but I think you said you were? Anyway, uh, call me back if you get –”


The voicemail beeps, cutting him off.


“ – this tonight,” he finishes, wincing, and thinks, wow, Schuester, that was pathetic.


Now that he’s thinking about it, Shannon’s probably at her sister’s in Dayton for Thanksgiving. She’d said something during lunch the other day about seeing her nephew, a two year old kid, or four, maybe? He thinks it’s a nephew. Could be a niece. Obsessed with dinosaurs. Or fire trucks, Will can’t remember. He’d been too busy trying to watch Emma out of the corner of his eye without drawing too much attention to himself.


Emma’s name feels like it always does when he says it to himself, heavy, and he leans back against the couch cushions, scrolling through his contacts (it doesn’t take long; there aren’t many entries), finding her. He can’t manage not to do it. At some point, Will knows he should probably delete her name, get her out so the simple act of picking up his phone doesn’t make him feel nauseous, but he hasn’t found the nerve, not yet.


He stares into the living room, listening to the thick click of the clock on the mantle. Will’s eyes train, out of habit, on the small dark chip on the door frame leading into the hallway, a years-old mark from when Terri had dragged in a particularly unwieldy mahogany bedside table. Full price at Restoration Hardware. He still remembers how dizzy he’d felt seeing the credit card bill.


Five whole years since the divorce. It feels like longer, somehow.


The phone in his hand vibrates, and he looks down, hoping to see Shannon’s name, already thinking okay, buddy, try not to sound too happy to hear from her.


MOM, the screen announces, and he tosses the phone away, reflexively. It twitches, still buzzing, into the gap between the couch cushions.


He needs to get out, is what he needs.


_____



The Filling Station isn’t much to speak of, as far as hole-in-the-wall dive bars go, but it’s pretty near to his apartment, maybe a ten minute walk, and at least he doesn’t have to worry about driving or getting a cab. Not that Will plans on getting seriously drunk tonight. He knows from experience that when he’s in this kind of a mood, having more than a beer or two turns out to be a bad idea.


It’s dark inside in that way dive bars always are, not just dim but heavy with what’s missing: in this case, a sense of intentional décor or care. There isn’t much in the way of design, besides the few pictures scattered around the burgundy walls, a botched attempt at making the place seem homey. It doesn’t work, but then again, home’s never what Will’s looking for when he comes here.


“Whatever you’ve got on tap tonight, Roy,” he says to the bartender, settling on one of the stools and slapping the counter, trying for friendly emphasis. “Whatever’s darker.”


“Coming right up,” Roy says, cheerfully, and grabs a glass that looks clean enough. He’s as much a fixture of the Filling Station as the sticky naugahyde booths or the broken toilet seat, always free with a friendly smile. “Hey, good to see you, man. Been a while. Got plans for Thanksgiving?”


“I do,” he says, before he realizes he’s lying, and then, because it’s easier to go ahead with it, “Having dinner with some friends. People from my jogging group. You?”


“Whole crew’s coming round,” Roy grins, pulling the handle forward, tilting the pint glass. Will watches the head grow over the rise of porter. It’s beautiful. “Marcie’s folks are in town, the kids are excited. It’s gonna be good this year.”


“Nice.” He’s already reaching out for the glass, a little too quickly. Maybe he’s thirstier than he thought. “Sounds great.”


“I thought I heard someone familiar.”


Startled, Will turns to his right, and his mouth opens a little in happy surprise. Of all the people he’d expect to frequent this bar – “Kurt. Well, I’ll be damned, Kurt Hummel. It’s great to see you! What are you doing here? Are you –” He looks behind him, peering into the dark corner. “Is Finn around? You guys home for Thanksgiving? I can’t believe it, it’s great to see you.”


“Mr. Schue,” Kurt says, smiling at him, the same Kurt Hummel, maybe a little noticeably older, like they all are these days. His arms are crossed over a shirt (blouse?) Will can’t even begin to figure out. It’s pinched in places, the bright fabric distressed and slashed at odd angles. Will’s sure, even though it looks bizarre as hell to his own eyes, that it’s the creation of some up-and-coming New York designer. He can’t imagine Kurt wearing anything that isn’t cutting edge. “Yes, I’m home for Thanksgiving this year. And no, Finn isn’t with me. I was supposed to meet Puck here for a drink. His choice of venue, of course, not mine. He just sent me a text – apparently the hospital offered him an extra shift tonight, and he’s saving up for that ring for Lauren, so –” He squints a little at the far wall, face tight with incredulity. “Is that a shadow or a huge stain? Please tell me it’s a shadow.”


“Don’t worry about it,” Will suggests, and pats the stool next to him. “My general policy when I’m here is not to look too closely at anything. Have a seat, Kurt. Catch up with me instead. I’d love to hear about what’s going on with your life.”


Kurt looks a little wary at the prospect of sitting down, but does so, gingerly, resting on the edge of the stool so that as little of his pants as possible touch the faux leather. “Well, I see you’ve learned a new outfit,” he says, glancing at Will. “I’m very impressed.”


Will looks down at his own clothes, reflexively. He’s wearing a cotton tee and jeans, nothing special or dressy, but maybe that’s what Kurt means.


“The vests,” Kurt adds, and Will wonders if his confusion is really that obvious. “You’ve broken your vest and cardigan pattern.” The corner of his mouth quirks up. “I always thought you needed a makeover more badly than Joan Crawford needed a parenting class and waxing strips.”


“That badly, huh?”


“This is a much better look on you. Actually, go down a shirt size or two, trim about three inches off the bottom of those jeans, add a pork pie hat and you’d blend right in at certain establishments in Morningside Heights.”


It’s odd, how good that makes him feel. He’s too old to care much about things like that, but finding out he’s stumbled on a trend, even if it’s with his eyes closed, fills Will with a sense of bizarre accomplishment.


“I’m glad to see you too,” he says, wryly. “It’s been a long time. What, two years? Three? I think the last time I saw you – ”


“ – You came to New York to visit April and you took the three of us out for dinner in the Village.”


“Overpriced,” Will remembers. “And not that good. But you were. I mean, it was so good to see you guys again – you, and Blaine, and Rachel. Like old times.”


“Without the slushies and Coach Sylvester’s pointless fanatical vendettas,” Kurt notes. “How is she, by the way? Still winning competitions and attempting to ruin your life every chance she gets?” He’s got a fond look on his face. “I should stop by her office while I’m here. I could give her the opportunity to come up with another nickname for me. I have a strange suspicion she’d enjoy that.”


“Sue –” He tries to think of a way to explain it. Sue hasn’t changed, not really, despite the occasional fits of conscience she gets once or twice a year, like flu. “She’s – well, she’s Sue Sylvester. You know what she’s like. She’s always there.” It’s reassuring, in a weird kind of way. The sun might stop rising, the earth might stop turning, but somewhere, Sue will always be scheming, trying to win whatever she can, and threatening him with a salvo of insults simultaneously varied and immensely, happily familiar.


“I do know what she’s like.”


Will remembers, once upon a time, Sue and Kurt had been close, or what counted for close with Sue. He’d
always had the sneaking suspicion that Kurt preferred Sue to him, and he’d been okay with that, mostly. Sue’d never had much in terms of unforced loyalty.


“What’ll you have, kid?” Roy asks, placing both hands wide on the counter. “I’ll need to see some ID, by the way. You look about eighteen to me, and that’s being generous.”


“I’d like a Brandy Crusta,” Kurt says, his chin raised a little, and pulls out a money clip with a driver’s license at the edge, holding it at arm’s length. “There. Twenty-two.”


Roy blinks, and at first Will thinks he doesn’t believe the ID’s real. “You want a what? A Brandy Crusta? What the hell’s that?”


Will isn’t sure, himself.


“Cognac, Grand Marnier, lemon juice – look, if you don’t know what it is, never mind. I’ll just have a Manhattan. Do you know how to make that?”


Roy’s face isn’t pleasant. “Kid,” he says, slowly. “I started bartending when you were still pissing in your didies. I know how to make a damn Manhattan, all right? Lose the attitude or get your ass out of my bar.”


Kurt reddens a little, and doesn’t answer. His chin stays high.


“You don’t have to order a fancy cocktail, you know,” Will says, gently, as Roy turns his back to them again, busying himself behind the bar.


“I’m not following.”


“You don’t need to impress anyone, Kurt.”


As soon as it’s out he knows it was the wrong thing to say, because the look on Kurt’s flushed face is wounded, suddenly young.


“I’m not trying to impress you,” Kurt snaps. “I like Brandy Crustas. I drink them all the time. I do go to bars in New York, you know. I’m not seventeen anymore. I’m an adult.”


“I just mean – ” Will’s fumbling, not sure how to make this okay. “You’re a striking person all on your own, Kurt. I just meant that whether or not you order a Manhattan or a Brandy Crusta or a – or a Sprite, it won’t influence my or anyone’s opinion of you.”


“No offense, Mr. Schue, but my alcohol choices really aren’t based on your approval.”


Will doesn’t know how to answer that.


They sit together in silence, the noise of the other patrons around them a welcome filler. Will’s thinking he should probably make some excuse, say he’s got to head home for one reason or another, and while he’s trying to come up with something that doesn’t sound like a complete lie, Kurt turns back to him and says, in a different tone of voice, lighter, “You’ll be happy to know Rachel’s doing well.”


Will exhales, relieved. This is easier. “That’s great to hear. Her last email was a couple of months ago, but she seemed like she was happy. Got a speaking role in some off-off-Broadway play, right?” He doesn’t mention the other news Rachel had shared with him in her email; doesn’t want to remind Kurt about it, when he’s sure Blaine’s the last thing Kurt wants to discuss. God knows he hates it when people ask him how he’s doing post-Emma.


“Right.” Kurt’s face is relaxing. They’re on safer ground, here. Shared ground. Rachel’s their common denominator. “Three whole lines. I could quote them to you verbatim, she’s been practicing so often. Every kind of inflection and emphasis possible. I’d tell you I was sick of hearing her recite them around the apartment, but if I’m being honest, after the Fanny Brice phase she went through over the summer, I’m just happy for the change-up.”


“What’s wrong with Fanny Brice?” Will asks, feeling a little defensive. Her recording of “I’d Rather Be Blue Over You (Then Be Happy With Somebody Else)” is one of his favorites; it’s gotten him through a lot of tough times. He’d even rank it over Streisand’s, any day.


“There’s no denying she was a supreme talent, but frankly, Mr. Schue, if I had to listen to that scratchy Good News recording of ‘I Was a Floradora Baby’ at seven in the morning one more time, drastic measures would’ve been called for. Drastic measures.”


Will wonders what those drastic measures might have been. A passive-aggressive music battle? He can imagine Kurt turning up his stereo speakers until Bernadette Peters (or Audra McDonald, or Betty Buckley, or Sutton Foster) wrestles vocally with Fanny for the attention of every last person living in their overpriced, undersized walk-up. He sees Kurt, dignified, tossing Brice CDs or maybe Rachel’s iPod out of their small kitchen window into the brick wall four feet away, in a perfect, well-timed arc. Rachel launching herself at Kurt with a outraged shriek, her fury too big for her size and judgment.


An unexpected wave of jealousy floods him. Will clutches the beer in his hand. They’re so young.


“I’m glad you were able to avoid that,” he says, carefully. “And you? You’re doing well? You’re happy? Things are good with you?”


“Yes,” Kurt says, after a pause long enough to let Will know he’s actually giving it real consideration. “I’m great, actually. I’m living the life I used to dream about back here. I’ve gotten three callbacks in the last four months, which is mildly encouraging. I have a supportive network of friends who don’t see me as freakish or abnormal or something that should be stamped out. I can buy my clothes in a store rather than be forced to order them online. And mark my words, one of these days Anna Wintour will finally read one of the many, many lilac-scented, impeccably fonted cover letters I’ve hand-delivered to her office and hire me as her personal assistant. It’ll be exactly like The Devil Wears Prada, only I won’t need a makeover and we won’t have weirdly inappropriate sexual chemistry.” His face brightens. “Just imagine the wardrobe benefits.”


“You had a supportive network here.” Will can’t help but feel a little defensive. “You had glee club. We never saw you as freakish or abnormal. You were part of us.”


Kurt looks at Will as if Will’s an idiot. “Of course,” he says. “I know that. But everyone else saw us that way. And frankly, I got singled out for the worst of it. It was relentless, Mr. Schue. Completely relentless. I don’t think you ever really appreciated or understood how hard it was for me at that school.”


“I know you had a difficult time. I’m sorry for that. I wish it had been easier for you. For all of you. You were all different, and no one in high school ever really appreciates difference. That’s why I felt so strongly about making sure glee –”


“You know, for all the horrible things she did to us over the years,” Kurt says, suddenly, “Coach Sylvester was the one who made sure Karofsky was suspended when he attacked me. I’ve always been grateful to her for making that happen, even if it didn’t stick.”


Will hasn’t thought about Daniel Karofsky in years. Or was it Daniel? Maybe David, some name that began with a D. One of those kids he’d pegged as peaking in high school, athletic in a way that disappears after the fifth year of dragging home after a long, unrewarding work day and drinking a beer or four in front of the TV.


“I’m glad to hear you’re happy now, Kurt,” he says, getting back to what feels like safer ground. “You know I want the best for all of you. For all of my kids.”


“I know you do, Mr. Schuester.”


“You can call me Will now, you know. Rachel and Finn do. Puck, too.”


Kurt doesn’t answer right away, drumming the side of his glass with his fingertips, looking far more intently at it than it deserves. It looks odd, and Will can’t figure out why until he realizes that Kurt’s never been one for idle movements. He’s always been deliberate with his gestures.


“No, thank you,” Kurt says, politely. “I think I’m more comfortable with Mr. Schue.”


_____



He’s on his fourth beer, or maybe his fifth, he’s lost count, trying to figure out why the hell talking to Kurt’s making him so uneasy when it’s Kurt, after all, when Kurt says, out of nowhere, “I had a small crush on you at the beginning of my sophomore year.”


“Oh,” is all Will can think to answer.


Kurt sets his empty glass on the table, signaling to Roy. “I don’t think I’d be admitting this to you without an increased blood alcohol level, but it’s the embarrassing truth. Don’t worry, I got over it by the spring semester.”


Will’s pleased and uncomfortable, all at once. “You got over it that quickly?” he asks, finally hearing Kurt’s last admission, and he probably shouldn’t sound hurt by that, but he does. He can hear it.


“Let’s face it, Mr. Schue, you were the only adult male in that building who merited anything close to an ill-advised schoolboy crush. What were my options? Coach Tanaka? Mr. Rollins? Mr. Kidney, for God’s sake? No, thank you.”


“Uh, I’m flattered. I think.”


Roy sets down another Manhattan on the bar in front of Kurt, a little harder than he needs to. The drink sloshes a bit, threatening overflow.


“Despite some – personality traits you possess that, quite frankly, used to irritate the hell out of me, you were –” Kurt pauses, seeming to search for the right words, and takes a generous sip from his glass. “You loved music. And Broadway, and performing. And you used hair products, even though your taste in gels admittedly left a lot to be desired.” His gaze lifts, fixing on Will’s hairline. “Still leaves a lot to be desired, from what I can tell in this light.”


“You’re good at this backward complimenting thing,” Will says, wryly. “Honestly, Kurt, I’m surprised. I never thought –” He closes his mouth, suddenly nervous he might say something else to offend him. His tongue’s too loose right now.


“That I liked you all that much?”


Will nods.


“I just wanted you to be okay with me,” Kurt tells him. “That was all I wanted. I didn’t care about being your favorite.”


This doesn’t make sense to Will, who’s always prided himself on loving all of his kids in the way he knows they deserve to be loved, for all their faults and talents. Of course he’d been okay with Kurt. He’d been okay with all his glee kids. More than okay. He’d loved them. He still does.


“Do you remember,” Kurt says, abruptly changing topics, “that time you asked why I was letting the bullying get to me, when I’d always been so good about taking it before? Do you remember saying that to me? Right before I transferred.”


Will searches his mind. He’s got snapshots back there of Kurt surrounded by a crowd of older, taller boys, Kurt in the hallway with a hockey player or someone on the football team stepping up to him, walking him back into a locker. The look on Kurt’s face, proud and insolent, frozen in defiance, and Will’s own uneasiness. Interfering, in most of these cases, usually made things worse.


“I don’t,” he says, after a pause. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember asking that. I remember you transferring junior year, obviously, and the hard time you had, but – ”


“You asked me that,” Kurt continues, undeterred, and takes a big mouthful of his drink, “you asked me and it made me feel like it was my fault for being terrified, Mr. Schue. Not Karofsky’s fault for going after me. Mine, for not being able to deal with it. And I told you your lesson plans were boring and repetitive because I was angry and scared and I didn’t know how to say you were making me feel worse.”


“Oh,” Will manages. “I had no idea you felt like that. I never meant –”


“I’m sure you didn’t.”


“I’m sorry.” The thought that he’d somehow made what Kurt went through even harder for him – that thought makes him sick to his stomach. He’d never hurt any of his kids. He’d never do that. They’re his kids. “I wish – I’d take it back if I could.”


“That’s helpful.”


“I’ll tell you I’m sorry again. I don’t know what else I can do.”


“Your lesson plans were boring and repetitive, by the way,” Kurt cuts in, too fast. He’s not slurring his words, but there’s a thickness to them that wasn’t there before, and Will wonders just how much of the swigging he’s done has to do with the need for liquid courage. “Just because I said that in anger didn’t make it untrue. Journey is overrated, by the way.”


“Anything else?” Will says, tightly. He’s happy to apologize for making Kurt feel badly, if that’s what he did, but he’s not prepared to apologize for his entire professional existence, either. He’s a good teacher. The gushing notes in his yearbooks, the emails he still gets from students, the visits, the dedications at assemblies, the jealousy he sees in Sue’s face, sometimes, when she thinks he isn’t looking – all that attests to it. “You’ve obviously got a lot to get off your chest. Why don’t you keep going? What else did I do that was so terrible?”


Kurt stares at him. “Really. You actually want to hear this.”


“Go ahead.” Will lifts his hands, indicating permission, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice. “What else? I didn’t give you enough solos, right?”


Enough? That’s an understatement. Glee was always the Rachel Berry Show, guest-starring Finn, with special appearances by Blaine senior year, and maybe a one-liner from Mercedes on the rare occasion you felt like throwing her a bone. Maybe in show-choir world I’m not considered leading man material, but your constant refusal to give me a chance to prove myself was incredibly short-sighted and, if I’m being honest, somewhat hurtful.”


“I’m sorry I was such a horrible teacher,” Will snaps, feeling incredibly defensive. “I’m sorry I gave you guys a space where you were free to be yourselves. I’m sorry I defended you against Sue’s schemes. I’m so sorry I led you guys to a national title your senior year. That must’ve been really difficult for you to deal with.”


“Oh, fuck you, Mr. Schue,” Kurt retorts, immediately, and then goes pale. “I didn’t mean to say that.”


Will’s a little shaken, himself. He’d had no idea Kurt had ever been this angry with him, and he’s even more unsettled by the fact that his anger’s apparently lasted as long as it had. Four years or more, he’s been carrying this around?


“No, you clearly meant it, and you needed to say it to me, so –” He shrugs, trying to make it less uncomfortable for the both of them, less heavy. “It’s all right. I probably shouldn’t have been so sarcastic.”


Kurt looks down at his glass, not answering. Fuck you, Will hears again, echoing in his head, and this time there’s a tight response inside him, sharp like guilt.


“So,” he says, after too long a pause. They need something safe. “Rachel.”


“Rachel,” Kurt repeats, sounding relieved. The tension lifts a little.


_____



“Everybody out,” Roy’s calling, somewhere in the distance, and Will drags his eyes off Kurt’s face long enough to see Roy waving his arms behind the bar. “We’re closing.”


He’s drunk, Will realizes. Really, pretty drunk. He knows this because he has no clue what he’s been saying to Kurt for at least the last half an hour, maybe more. They could’ve been talking about dinosaurs, for all he knows.


Judging by Kurt’s slack expression, he’s not much more with it than Will is.


“You gotta way to get home?” he tries, putting a hand out to touch Kurt’s forearm through the sleeve of his shirt. “Puck or Finn or your dad? To call them.”


Kurt pulls his cell phone out of his pocket, mashes the screen, and squints at it. “Battery ended,” he says, finally. “It died. Can I use yours?”


Will pats his pockets until he remembers he’s left his phone at home. “No. I mean, you could if I had it but I didn’t bring it with me. Look, why don’t you just come back to my place? You can use my phone and call someone to come get you. Or you could sleep it off there and call someone in the morning. I have a spare bedroom.” He’s vaguely aware he’s babbling, but doesn’t seem to be able to stop himself. “Spare PJs, too. Look, you’re my student, my former student, I have responsibilities to you so you’re okay, Kurt. Okay? Let me do that for you. Let me make it up to you. I’ll make it okay.”


He’s barely aware of what he’s saying. He’s still touching Kurt’s arm.


On the walk back to his place, Will stumbles once, more from the dim streetlamps failing to light their way than the amount of alcohol he’s got in him.


Kurt rests his hand lightly on Will’s back as he’s standing up.


“You’re all right?” he asks.


His hand is warm even through Will’s jacket, and it takes Will an embarrassingly long time to find the word yes.


_____



Oh, shit, he’s drunk. He’s really drunk.


“I am not making good choices right now,” he says to Kurt, handing him a glass with a couple of fingers, and Kurt, taking an immediate slug out of the glass, looks like he knows exactly what Will meant by that. “No more good choices left. They’re all gone. This is – Are you comfortable? Can I get you some pajama bottoms or something to have?”


“As a general rule,” Kurt comments, shifting a little on Will’s couch, “when a man invites me up to his place after drinks, it isn’t because he wants to get me into clothing.” He wags an unsteady finger. “No, it is not.”


It takes Will an embarrassingly long amount of time to figure out what Kurt means by that, and when he does he makes a choking sound that’s pretty much the opposite of dignified. “Excuse me?” he asks, when he’s able to make words again. “Kurt, are you saying that I want – ? Because I would never, I could never. You’re my student.” And I’m straight, he doesn’t say, even though it’s a little less cut-and-dried than that. A few reoccurring dreams, here and there. A fumbling, rushed, clutching thing with Bryan Ryan in the choir room closet senior year that neither of them had ever talked about again. Dustin Goolsby’s mocking smile and big hands, a standby image he reaches for when he’s close and needs to get over the edge. Straight, for the most part.


“Of course not,” Kurt says. “Of course you wouldn’t. And I’m your former student, remember?” He eyes Will, and Will flushes, face and chest heating with the pressure of being looked at. He’s being – what’s the word? Appraised. That’s what it feels like. And he can’t help but feel like he’s coming up short. “Remember we had graduation? Rachel cried all the way through ‘The Way We Were.’ Puck did that acoustic version of ‘Breakaway.’ Hats.” He mimes tossing the mortarboard into the air. “Chiffon. Tears. Glitter explosions.”


“Do you do that a lot.” Oh, god, he needs to stop talking, Will needs to do that right now. “Go up to places with men. You just, you and Blaine were just over. A few months ago, right? How many times have you done that?”


Something passes over Kurt’s face then, something Will’s aware enough to notice and drunk enough not to understand. “You know about Blaine? Oh, Rachel and her big mouth. Or did Finn tell you? I bet it was Finn.”


“Rachel,” Will confirms. “In her email. I’m so sorry, Kurt. But it’s good, you know. In the long run.”


“Please,” Kurt says, shortly. “You tell me why it’s good. Go on.”


“The thing is Terri and I – look, Kurt, we were kids like you. Your age, you and Blaine back in the beginning, sixteen. And I didn’t, you know, date, or have time to know what I really wanted, and then – ” Will holds up his own glass, toasting it to his mistakes. “Old. I’m old now. Can’t keep a relationship. The woman I held candles for, Emma, Ms. Pillsbury, you remember her, it all went wrong somehow and I don’t know why and now I’m alone and drunk with my student. Former. Former student.”


“A: Blaine is not your ex-wife and I am definitely not you,” Kurt says, holding up a finger, settling back into the couch cushions. “Or Blaine isn’t you and I’m not your ex-wife. Either way. Sit down, you’re too tall like that.”


Will sits down on the couch, obligingly.


Kurt lifts another finger. “Number two, I would like to absolutely not talk about Blaine with you. Okay? And actually there’s nothing to talk about. Nothing happened. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. I still care very deeply about him and he feels the same way about me and we’ll always have that. It was just – over.”


“Completely understand,” Will says. “No more Blaine talk.”


“D: you can’t be all that old. How old are you?”


“Pretty old.” It’s funny, but whenever someone asks him that question the first answer that comes to his mind is seventeen. I’m seventeen. Then the sense of vertigo when he remembers the real number. “Thirty-seven. Really old. How did that happen?”


“Ancient,” Kurt agrees, but he’s smiling. “You are terrible at advice.”


Will nods, and because he can’t think of anything to say to that he takes a nice long drink, letting the whisky burn down his throat. It feels good. It feels like getting clean, somehow, and that makes him think of Emma, and then he doesn’t feel good anymore. He feels nauseous.


“I don’t make a habit of going home with guys I date, if that’s what you want to know,” Kurt says, suddenly. “Once in the last two months. I get invitations. It doesn’t mean I have to take them.”


“Once,” Will repeats, resting his empty glass on his jeans. There’s a weird hum of energy in the room, and he doesn’t know if Kurt’s feeling it too, but it’s strong enough that he thinks he could reach out and touch it if he tried, if he knew where to hold on. “So you did do it, what you said.”


A nod.


“I hope you were careful.”


One of Kurt’s eyebrows lifts. “I’m always careful.”


“You used protection?” Shut up, Schuester. Just shut up.


“I made him wear a condom when he screwed me,” Kurt says, archly, “yes. Both times that night. Is that what you wanted to know, Mr. Schue?”


His mouth is instantly dry. Will automatically goes to take another drink; stops halfway when he realizes the glass is still empty. He’s being very successful at not imagining what Kurt’s just told him.


The light flickers, once, or maybe that’s his vision.


“It’s what I wanted to know,” he says, lowering the glass back onto his lap. “I guess. Yes.”


“Is there anything else you’d like to know?”


No, he says, in his head, you do not want to know anything more about this, keep your mouth shut, but what comes out is a quiet, “Does it feel – what is it like? Is it good?”


The second he says it, his head scalds with the heat of embarrassment, with shame and he wants to take it back. He half expects Kurt to slam his glass down on the coffee table, stand up and walk out of the apartment without a word, and he wouldn’t blame him a bit, but instead Kurt tilts his head to the side a little. He looks like he’s considering something.


“You want to know what it feels like?” he says. “Help me out here, Mr. Schue, because I’m not exactly sober right now, and it sounds to me like you’re asking if it feels good to–”


“I’m not. Never mind. I don’t want to know anymore.”


“You want to know,” Kurt pushes ahead, sitting up straight and setting down his glass, “what it feels like to have sex with another man. Well, can’t say I’m surprised. I always thought you were a little loud about your heterosexuality.”


“No,” Will says, because that isn’t it, it’s not that simple, even if he can’t find the words to say what it, exactly, is, and then, in a burst, “No. Yes. For you. What it feels like for you, when someone’s –”


“Do you want to get fucked?” Kurt asks, abruptly. His tone's almost flat, casual, like he’s making an observation about the phrasing of a song. “Is that why you’re asking?”


Will’s grip on the whiskey glass loosens, hand suddenly slack with shock, and the glass drops, falling from his knee, striking the edge of the coffee table. Somewhere in the periphery of his vision it hits the floor, rolling under the couch, out of sight and reach. He can’t speak.


“That’s why you’re asking, isn’t it? You want someone to screw you.” Kurt pauses, and even through the bad light in his living room Will sees the color spreading on his cheeks. "You want to get fucked."


“Kurt,” he tries, weakly. It sounds more like a whine than a protest, and oh, God, just listening to this coming out of Kurt’s mouth he’s getting hard so fast.


Kurt’s staring at him. Will isn’t sure what’s stronger, the nausea or the need.


“You know, why is it,” Kurt continues, “that every time I try to make eye contact with you, you look away? Is it honestly that hard to look at me? Still? Even after all this time?”


“I’m sorry.” Will isn’t exactly sure what he’s apologizing for, but he knows it’s needed, somehow. He watches the chair opposite them, training his eyes on the way the fabric hugs the cushion. “Sometimes. It is, sometimes, yes. I’m sorry, Kurt. I don’t, I’ll just – I need to get another glass from the kitchen. I’ll be right back.”


When he stands up, he realizes, too late, that Kurt can see the way his cock’s swelling against the crotch of his jeans, and he moves fast, almost stumbling into the coffee table, trying to get out before things get worse for him.


The kitchen’s dark, and Will doesn’t bother to turn on the light. There’s no point, since the living room’s illuminating his way well enough, and anyway, he knows his way around. He reaches up for the clean glass he knows he’s got on one of the higher shelves, hands searching in the dark recesses where his eyes can’t help.


“What are you doing,” Kurt says behind him, not a question, and Will stumbles off the tips of his toes, surprised.


“Another glass,” he manages, and turns around. “I was getting another glass. I think I said that to you.”


“Because you dropped the first one.”


“Yes.”


“Because you were clumsy.”


Will’s face burns.


“I didn’t mean to drop it,” he tries. “I need a new one.”


“Is that really why you came running in here?”


“No,” Will says, feeling helpless. “It isn’t.”


“You went running,” Kurt says, “because you didn’t want me to see that." He looks, pointedly, at Will's crotch.


Will makes a sound, then, a completely undignified, embarrassing burst of noise. He’s vaguely aware that he’s shaking, as much from nerves as from arousal. “Kurt.”


“If I told you,” Kurt says, thoughtfully, “to turn around and bend over the counter. If I told you to brace your hands against the wall and spread your legs. You’d do it for me, wouldn’t you? I wouldn’t have to ask you twice.”


“Kurt –”


(He would. Oh, god, he would. He’d rut up against the kitchen drawers, Kurt behind him, an unforgiving hand over Will’s mouth keeping him quiet, maybe. He’d come fast like that, he knows, cock rubbing against the drawers. Come inside his pants like a kid. Like a teenager. Kurt’s mouth on his ear saying look at what you did, Will. Couldn’t control yourself. You’re pathetic.)


Kurt’s still watching him, his head crooked just a little, a silent query.


“It’s just a hypothetical question, Mr. Schue,” he says, and he’s smiling again. “You really don't have to look so alarmed.”


“I’m not. I don’t.”


“You look like the world just ran out of vests,” Kurt tells him, and takes a step towards Will. Will backs up, automatically, bumping up against the counter. “If you’d like me to leave, just say the word and I’ll walk right out that door. When I see you at the ten year reunion or Finn’s wedding or one of Rachel’s openings, I’ll be more than happy to pretend that none of this ever happened. Believe me.”


Will shakes his head. That’s worse, somehow, the idea of Kurt leaving now. This whole thing festering between them for years to come. Even if Kurt’s capable of pretending this hasn’t happened, Will doesn’t know if he’s up to that task. No, the best thing is for him to stay, for Kurt to go to bed and Will to go to bed and in the morning, he’ll remember that he was once this boy’s teacher and have a talk with him, set things right. Man. Kurt’s a man. He needs to remember that, too.


“Bed,” he stammers. “Bed, now. You’re not going anywhere tonight. I need to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning when we have, when we’re sober.”


Somehow Will finds his legs and moves them. He doesn’t look at Kurt as he walks past him, back through the door, as quickly as he can without running, and he mutters something as he goes about the guest bathroom with extra towels in the cupboard if Kurt needs a shower.


“Don’t worry about those pajamas,” Kurt calls after him, “no, really, I don’t need them,” and Will, nearly jogging down the hallway, desperate to get free, is absolutely, definitely not going to think about Kurt wearing Will’s clothes or being out of his own.


In the morning, he’ll be sane again and everything will be okay, or at least familiar.


Part Two

Date: 2011-09-08 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elva-barr.livejournal.com
Okay I'm going to quote things at you, just in case you don't remember writing them or something.

It’s odd, how good that makes him feel. He’s too old to care much about things like that, but finding out he’s stumbled on a trend, even if it’s with his eyes closed, fills Will with a sense of bizarre accomplishment. Will Shuester, you don't even know what he means, do you?

Um also Will wonders what those drastic measures might have been. A passive-aggressive music battle? He can imagine Kurt turning up his stereo speakers until Bernadette Peters (or Audra McDonald, or Betty Buckley, or Sutton Foster) wrestles vocally with Fanny for the attention of every last person living in their overpriced, undersized walk-up. He sees Kurt, dignified, tossing Brice CDs or maybe Rachel’s iPod out of their small kitchen window into the brick wall four feet away, in a perfect, well-timed arc. Rachel launching herself at Kurt with a outraged shriek, her fury too big for her size and judgment. Yes.

also just just He’s being – what’s the word? Appraised. That’s what it feels like. And he can’t help but feel like he’s coming up short. my face when I read this, you can't even imagine.

also when I read "D: you can't be..." I was like "Kurt baby why are you making that face though? why are you sad though?"

Date: 2011-09-08 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellydash.livejournal.com
I love being quoted at! \o/

And oh man, I didn't even think about that D: thing - but now I can't stop seeing it, lol.

Date: 2011-09-09 06:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkangle102.livejournal.com
man thats so was hot i was never a fan of top kurt but you dude change my mind , awesome job dude

Date: 2011-09-10 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellydash.livejournal.com
Haha, thanks!

Date: 2011-09-21 05:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] littlestclouds.livejournal.com
“No offense, Mr. Schue, but my alcohol choices really aren’t based on your approval.”

What don't I love about that? NOTHING! THERE IS NOTHING I DON'T LOVE ABOUT THAT. It's like . . . exactly how I see Will. Earnest and well-meaning, but kind of missing the mark juuuust a little bit.

“Do you remember,” Kurt says, abruptly changing topics, “that time you asked why I was letting the bullying get to me, when I’d always been so good about taking it before? Do you remember saying that to me? Right before I transferred.”


Will searches his mind. He’s got snapshots back there of Kurt surrounded by a crowd of older, taller boys, Kurt in the hallway with a hockey player or someone on the football team stepping up to him, walking him back into a locker. The look on Kurt’s face, proud and insolent, frozen in defiance, and Will’s own uneasiness. Interfering, in most of these cases, usually made things worse.


“I don’t,” he says, after a pause. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember asking that. I remember you transferring junior year, obviously, and the hard time you had, but – ”


“You asked me that,” Kurt continues, undeterred, and takes a big mouthful of his drink, “you asked me and it made me feel like it was my fault for being terrified, Mr. Schue. Not Karofsky’s fault for going after me. Mine, for not being able to deal with it. And I told you your lesson plans were boring and repetitive because I was angry and scared and I didn’t know how to say you were making me feel worse.”


“Oh,” Will manages. “I had no idea you felt like that. I never meant –”


“I’m sure you didn’t.”


“I’m sorry.” The thought that he’d somehow made what Kurt went through even harder for him – that thought makes him sick to his stomach. He’d never hurt any of his kids. He’d never do that. They’re his kids. “I wish – I’d take it back if I could.”


“That’s helpful.”


“I’ll tell you I’m sorry again. I don’t know what else I can do.”


“Your lesson plans were boring and repetitive, by the way,” Kurt cuts in, too fast. He’s not slurring his words, but there’s a thickness to them that wasn’t there before, and Will wonders just how much of the swigging he’s done has to do with the need for liquid courage. “Just because I said that in anger didn’t make it untrue. Journey is overrated, by the way.”


“Anything else?” Will says, tightly. He’s happy to apologize for making Kurt feel badly, if that’s what he did, but he’s not prepared to apologize for his entire professional existence, either. He’s a good teacher. The gushing notes in his yearbooks, the emails he still gets from students, the visits, the dedications at assemblies, the jealousy he sees in Sue’s face, sometimes, when she thinks he isn’t looking – all that attests to it. “You’ve obviously got a lot to get off your chest. Why don’t you keep going? What else did I do that was so terrible?”


Kurt stares at him. “Really. You actually want to hear this.”


“Go ahead.” Will lifts his hands, indicating permission, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice. “What else? I didn’t give you enough solos, right?”


“Enough? That’s an understatement. Glee was always the Rachel Berry Show, guest-starring Finn, with special appearances by Blaine senior year, and maybe a one-liner from Mercedes on the rare occasion you felt like throwing her a bone. Maybe in show-choir world I’m not considered leading man material, but your constant refusal to give me a chance to prove myself was incredibly short-sighted and, if I’m being honest, somewhat hurtful.”


“I’m sorry I was such a horrible teacher,” Will snaps, feeling incredibly defensive. “I’m sorry I gave you guys a space where you were free to be yourselves. I’m sorry I defended you against Sue’s schemes. I’m so sorry I led you guys to a national title your senior year. That must’ve been really difficult for you to deal with.”


“Oh, fuck you, Mr. Schue,” Kurt retorts, immediately, and then goes pale. “I didn’t mean to say that.”


Just a big fat THIS to all of that. I want so badly for someone to say that to Will.

“You look like the world just ran out of vests,”

LOL. I can totally picture that in my mind's eye.

Date: 2011-09-21 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellydash.livejournal.com
I want so badly for someone to say that to Will, too! It was just massively cathartic, writing that section.

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