Rating: PG-13, maybe
Characters: Tina, Artie, Rachel, Finn, Quinn, Mercedes, Kurt, Puck and oh yeah, Will
Spoilers: Up to Preggers
Summary: What the title says. This isn't my best work, probably, but it's my love letter to Will Schuester, who I believe really cares about his students, and is a pretty awesome guy all around.
Tina was never special. That was just true, and it never really bothered her. Sure, she wore interesting clothes and could sing and was Asian, but seriously? Lots of people were the same way. The only person who ever really noticed her was her best friend Artie, and while that was awesome, if only one person knows you exist, you're still a nobody. She was therefore baffled when Mr Schuester gave her the solo from West Side Story that Rachel wanted. She had no problem with Rachel getting solos - Rachel was an amazing singer, and incredibly pretty, and was clearly meant to have the spotlight. But this time the spotlight was on Tina. Mr Schuester even pulled her aside and coached her privately, telling her she was good even when she was sharp. Most importantly, though, he didn't back down. Even though it meant Rachel quitting. Someone made her feel special and stood up for her.
She didn't tell anyone about it, about how she felt. She knew it was silly, and Mr Schuester was married and had a kid on the way and probably didn't even care about her that much. Really, Mr Schuester was just a very good teacher. But Tina was pretty sure that she loved him a little bit anyway. Because for the first time in her life, Tina felt like a star.
The Holiday assembly was one of McKinley High School's most pathetic rituals, in that pretty much no one ever went. Who cared, really, about seeing the steel drummers and the Glee Club perform? Sandy Ryerson, after all, never gave them very good songs to sing. Luckily, Rachel took matters into her own hands and made sure that she got a solo, even though she was only a freshman. Even if it was mostly parents in the crowd, they could hear her sing, and they would think she was special. Sure, her congratulations would only be from her Dads, but that was fine by her. She took what she could get.
The assembly was over and she and her Dads were leaving when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around, and was surprised to see Mr Schuester, the Spanish teacher, smiling at her. "Hey, Rachel, I just want to say... you were amazing up there. You have such a beautiful singing voice." He smiled at her dads. "Your parents must be very proud of you."
Rachel blushed. Sure, she knew she was talented. But it wasn't very often that she got genuine compliments about it from people who weren't coaching her, or her Dads. She couldn't have held back her grin even if she wanted to. She hugged Mr Schuester, quickly and impulsively. "Thank you so much, Mr Schuester. It's hard, being at a school where few people really appreciate talent."
He nodded at her words. "It must be. But don't give up, Rachel - you'll be a star, it's just a matter of time."
The next day, when a jock threw a slushie in her face, she didn't even cry. She just remembered Mr Schuester's words and smiled.
This is a fact: using a wheelchair in high school is hard, especially when you're only a freshman and have no idea where you're going. Artie was trying to figure out where his math class was and wishing Tina was in this class with him. He really wanted to just give up and go home, because it was the first day and jocks were already shoving him around. Maybe he should've been home schooled like his parents wanted. Maybe, like usual, they were right.
He was about to call them, when a voice by his ear said, "Need some help?" He looked up at the-- well, he was young, but still too old to be a student. Young teacher? Maybe. "I'm Mr Schuester. I teach Spanish. And you look like you could use some help getting to class."
Artie nodded. "I want to get to room 126, but I think I went the wrong way. Do you know where it is?"
"I do, in fact," Mr Schuester replied. "Here, let me show you." And then the next moment, students were moving aside to let them through, as Mr Schuester pushed his wheelchair down the hall. "I remember my first day - I was absolutely terrified. I went to high school here too, and some of the teachers were ones who taught me, and they kept giving me these looks like they couldn't believe I was a teacher now." He stopped in front of a classroom. "I think this is your stop. If you need anything else, I'm in room 105. Oh yeah, what'd you say your name was?"
Artie looked up at him and swallowed. "Artie Abrams. You're-- I hope other people here are as nice as you."
Mr Schuester patted him on the shoulder. "I'm sure they will be. See ya later."
Artie watched him go before going into the classroom. Maybe high school wouldn't be so bad.
It was hard being head cheerleader, okay? Sure, she made it look easy, but it was fucking hard, especially when it was cheese steak day in the cafeteria, and she really wanted to eat one, but oh yeah, she couldn't, because Coach Sylvester would yell at her. Quinn was hungry. She felt like she hadn't eaten a real meal in weeks and never would be able to again, because god forbid her damn cheerleader uniform got too tight on her. If it did, Finn would probably dump her, and Puck would make fun of her, and no. Quinn Fabray was not a loser, and no one made fun of her. Fuck that. She left the cafeteria early, because she couldn't stand the smell of it - making cheese steaks was the one thing the cafeteria actually did well, and she was so tempted to just go up and get one. And so she left, deciding to get to class early instead.
The class was Spanish, taught by the extremely clueless and idealistic Will Schuester. Quinn actually liked Mr Schuester, though. He was a hopeless teacher, and no one actually learned anything, but he was nice and seemed to actually try. She forgot, though, that he'd be in the classroom too. So when she got to the classroom and was assaulted by that smell again, she was startled and immediately turned to leave. She was stopped, however, by the voice saying, "Oh, hey Quinn."
She turned around and forced a smile. "Hi, Mr Schuester."
"So nice to see you taking such an interest in Spanish. You've been doing really well, you know - you actually scored the highest on the last test." She smiled at that. She knew that if she ever wanted to get out of Lima, she needed to actually get good grades, and so she worked damn hard.
"Thanks, Mr Schuester."
He set his sandwich down on the paper plate. "I can't finish this... even though it was really good. Want the other half?"
She eyed it. Half a sandwich wasn't as bad as a whole sandwich. But if anyone saw her eat it...
"I won't tell anyone," he said, with an almost-knowing smile. In a lower voice, he added, "I know Sue Sylvester keeps you kids on a strict diet... but it is okay to actually eat once in a while."
She looked at him, and couldn't find words to say in response. Instead, she stared at the sandwich for a few moments, and then finally took a bite. It was good. It tasted like bread and cheese and meat and... food. Actual food.
The next morning, when she checked the scale and she was still the same weight as the day before, she breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe Mr Schuester wasn't a complete idiot.
"Yeah, did you hear? Mr Schuester is trying to restart Glee Club. I mean, he's cute and all, but I didn't know he was retarded too..."
Kurt very carefully didn't turn to see who talking - he figured it was probably the idiot cheerleaders behind him. No matter. Will Schuester was restarting Glee Club? Well, that was interesting. Kurt had wanted to join before, but Sandy Ryerson made him extremely uncomfortable. Pity, too, because Kurt knew he'd be damn good at it.
Will Schuester, though... hmmm. He didn't have Mr Schuester for any classes, as Kurt took French, but he knew the teacher from passing. He knew that Will Schuester was often made fun of for being overly idealistic, which Kurt interpreted as "Will Schuester actually wants his students to learn something - what a joke." It was strange, knowing there was a teacher who hadn't already completely given up.
And Will Schuester was cute. That was just a fact - the curly hair, those arms that occasionally saw the light of day. His fashion sense wasn't really where it could be, but it didn't disgust Kurt like most of Lima did. No, Will Schuester was alright. And the idea of him trying to restart Glee Club was actually pretty admirable. Kurt thought about it and found himself smiling. Glee Club meant dancing, which meant Will Schuester teaching them to dance - that was a nice mental image that he pondered for a few moments. If there was anyone who could make Glee Club worth the time, it was probably Will Schuester. And maybe he'd have some "trouble" learning the music and ask him for some extra help. Kurt smirked. He'd sign up after class.
Her mom always told her to keep her mouth shut and her ears open. Mercedes wasn't very good at the first part, but the last part? Yeah, she could do that. She was good at it, actually. Mercedes was the first person to hear about New Directions, Mr Schuester's revival of Glee Club, and therefore the first to sign up. She knew that Sue Sylvester was trying to take it down, and that everyone who thought they were be cool would be making fun of it. But she didn't give a shit. Because seriously, she was the coolest person at McKinley, and if no one else realized it, that was their problem. Soon enough she'd be out of Lima, in a world where she was appreciated, and until then, well, she'd make the best of things. So there was no question that she was going to join Glee Club. People might make fun of her for it, but who the hell cared?
She was making her way to Glee Club rehearsal, glad that there was actually something to look forward to in the otherwise-lame high school day. "Oh, hey Mercedes," said Mr Schuester, suddenly walking beside her.
"Hey, Mr Schu. How's it hanging?"
He grinned at her. "You know, this is the best part of my day. Every time I hear you guys sing, I just... god, it's incredible. Being able to help you all realize your gifts..." He shook his head. "Don't mind me, I get kinda embarrassing sometimes."
She smiled at him, as they entered the room. Any other student would probably have rolled their eyes at him, but not Mercedes. Will Schuester believed in them, in her, and he didn't care if he looked like an idiot for it. Not like all the other losers, afraid to say what they thought so they could stay cool. When Mr Schu had her sing to the Kanye song, well. She didn't care what anyone said, Mr Schu was alright.
Finn knew for a fact that he wasn't very smart. He had a hard time telling his lefts from his rights, he'd stayed back a year in school, and he saw his grades. He knew what was up. But he wasn't an idiot. There was some stuff he knew. Like, he knew that he wasn't the best singer in Glee Club. That was Rachel, and after that was Artie. The thing was that Artie was in a wheelchair, so he would never be able to have the same... what is it called? Stage presence that would be needed for a male lead. If Artie could walk, he'd be the male lead in Glee Club. As it stood, Finn knew that the only reason he was the male lead was because he was tall, and decent, and Rachel liked singing with him. Finn wasn't an idiot. Finn knew these things, and he accepted them... even though they kinda sucked.
The football team couldn't win a game, and Finn had failed two tests that day, and when he was singing - well - the reason they had to go over it more than once was because of him. He knew it. He wanted more than anything in the world to make his mom proud, go to college, get out of Lima, be a man. But the likelihood of that happening wasn't that good. Then of course the football team made fun of him all the time for being in Glee Club in the first place - calling him all sorts of variations of gay. And that sucked. And sometimes Finn wished that he could be someone else, someone who was really good at something, someone who his mom could be proud of.
At least he was done for the day. Classes were over, football practice was finished, and everyone in Glee Club was gathering their bags to leave. Finn was tired, and slower than usual. He was glad when everyone else left and he was finally alone. He breathed a sigh of relief as he left - except, he wasn't as alone as he thought. Mr Schu was still there.
"See you later, Mr Schu," he said, hoping his teacher wouldn't want to talk. Mr Schu was another person he hated disappointing, but he didn't want to deal with it right now.
"Hey, wait a second, Finn." Finn stopped and looked back at Mr Schu. "I just want you to know that you did really well today."
Finn gave him a half smile. That was one of the things he liked about Mr Schu - he was always nice and positive, even when the things he said weren't true. "Thanks, Mr Schu, but I think we both know that's not really true."
"Huh? Why would you say that?"
"Did you hear me sing today? I... I'm not good enough to be the male lead. That should be someone else - probably Artie. I mean, I appreciate getting solos, and I love Glee Club, but... I'm sorry I'm not as good as I could be."
Mr Schu put a hand on Finn's arm and frowned. "That's not true, Finn. I remember the first time I heard you sing - I was blown away by your voice. Maybe you don't have the same training as some of the other kids, but you're learning. And you deserve every solo you get. Maybe you have to work a little harder, but that just makes the end result all the more impressive. Believe in yourself, Finn. There isn't a single reason you shouldn't."
Mr Schu was a teacher and teachers were smart. And Mr Schu didn't say things that he didn't mean. So maybe, if he thought that Finn should believe in himself, there could be something to that.
Glee Club was stupid. Puck knew this, because he wasn't an idiot. That was why, despite his musical talents, he had no intention of joining. He could think of so many better things to do with his time, like... you know, not have everyone think he was gay.
When Finn joined Glee Club, Puck figured it would only be a matter of time before he came to his sense, but... he didn't. Even when everyone made fun of him, he didn't quit. It was fucking weird. Finn had always been someone who knew the rules of high school and never strayed out of bounds, but it was like he suddenly decided to just do what he wanted and fuck the consequences. Puck just didn't understand - how could Finn do all that singing and dancing and not feel like a complete idiot?
When he joined Acafellas, he got it. Mr Schuester taught him and Finn to dance, and it was actually kinda fun. The thing about that guy was that he didn't give up - Puck and Finn were idiots, but Mr Schuester just keep on working with them. Mr Schu really believed that two football players could sing and dance, and was willing to sing and dance with them. Not once did he make fun of them or insult them. Not one fucking time.
All these Glee Club kids thought they were special, because they could sing and dance and Mr Schuester made them feel like they could do anything. And then the football team actually won a game because of dancing, and if that was possible, anything was. Glee Club was stupid. Really stupid - that hadn't changed. Never would. But everything in Lima was stupid. Finn talked about how cool it was that Mr Schu believed in him and Puck felt, maybe, that it would be pretty cool if someone believed in him too.
If you liked this, please comment, as I worked for a while on it and am feeling a bit insecure. And the rest of my fic can be found here, at my brand new fandom journal.