Title: 5 Things That Could Have Happened If Mr Schuster Quit Glee and Became an Accountant.
Author: Lady Chronic
Character(s): All twelve Glee kids, Will Schuster, Emma Pillsbury.
Rating: R (Part IV contains profanity, violence and character-death. The other parts are rated PG.)
Word Count: 4,225
Summary: 5 AUs, some happy, some sad, some in between.
A/N: The final part was altered from the version that appeared on fanfiction.net to make it conform to Ep.09.
I: Love is a Battlefield
“To victory!” Matt Rutherford says, raising his mug of hot chocolate. “It’s so funny that you go to McKinley too. We must be some of the youngest people here.”
Rachel looks around at the rest of the diner, which is in Lisbon, Ohio, right near Salineville. Matt says it’s tradition to come here. Every customer in every booth is wearing a dirty blue uniform, and he is right – aside from a handful of guys in their twenties and thirties, most of the crowd is middle-aged. She wonders what the waitstaff must think of them all.
It’s totally surreal. After hours spent out in the mud, cold and tired and practically fighting for their lives, it’s over, and she is sitting on a cushy vinyl-covered bench across from a very cute boy who would not have given her the time of day two months ago, about to share a conversation and a piece of apple pie a la mode. And Pat Benatar is on the jukebox. It’s almost too good to be true.
“Victory,” she echoes. “Isn’t it weird, though?”
“Definitely!” Matt laughs. “I guess the outcome was sort of a foregone conclusion, but I’m not used to winning at anything. I played football for two years, and our placekicker couldn’t even get the ball through the posts at practice.”
“No, I mean, being an African-American, this must be sort of strange, for you especially. Those people on the other side just charging at us -- ” It might not be tactful to bring this up, but she needs to know how he feels about it. Her parents were certainly upset when she tried to explain her weekend plans, especially Daddy Pete. “Where do they come from, anyway?”
“The Confederate dudes? Oh, they’re in the West Virginia Reenactors Association. They’re really nice though – not what you’d think. I went to Dairy Queen with a carload of guys from the Upshur Grays last time. They’re real badasses, crazy about authenticity.” He tilts his head toward their neighbor at the next booth, who is cutting a stack of pancakes into neat squares, his belly straining against the buttons of his blue jacket. Matt lowers his voice. “You’ve got to be skinny to play a Rebel. Starved-looking.”
He’s leaning toward her, his face animated, and Rachel feels an excited fluttering in her stomach. It would be nice if she wasn’t dressed like a dirty boy-soldier.
“Black men fought in Lee’s army too, actually,” Matt tells her. “Some slaves, some free.” He breaks off. “I don’t want to bore you with stuff you already know, though. You must be pretty into Civil War history, to be doing this.”
“I’m still learning. I come from a performance background, actually -- dance, theater, music.” Matt probably doesn't even know about glee club, or about what happened after Mr. Schuster left and she tried to take over rehearsals and everyone quit. “I got to feeling like it would be better for me, mental health-wise, that is, to try something that’s not so competitive.”
Great, Rachel admonishes herself, now she sounds like a crazy person. Matt doesn’t look put off, though. He breaks off a piece of pie crust, pushing it through the ice cream toward her side of the plate with his fork, and smiles at her.
“Anyway, I loved doing this today,” she says. “It’s surprisingly satisfying. After the drilling and the practice, we just got out on the battlefield and we did everything right – I mean, just like it really happened.”
Matt nods. “The details matter, but it’s not all about ego – who’s starting, who gets thrown the pass. Even if my character gets shot and I have to lie on the ground pretending to be dead for hours, I still go home happy.”
Rachel wishes she felt that way, but if she's honest with herself, she still longs for the solo, for center stage. Still, there's something about being part of an ensemble where each member cares enough to try his or her best.
“It’s so great to be a part of something where everyone is working together,” she says sincerely. “It makes all of us special. You know?”
Mr. Rondell is talking about covalent bonds. Mercedes turns to a new page in her notebook and tries to concentrate. She didn’t really get this concept in the chapter they were supposed to read last night. She’d better understand now or she’ll bomb the midterm.
She re-crosses her legs, and as one thigh presses against the bottom surface of the desk, something snags at her tights. Mercedes ducks her head to look. It’s used chewing gum -- not completely fossilized, but fresh and tacky. “Ugh!”
“Gross," says Brittney in a sympathetic stage whisper, leaning across the aisle. “Hey. I hear they had to fire half the janitors. Budget cuts.”
They're lab partners because of their assigned seats -- they would never talk outside of class -- but Mercedes thinks she's pretty OK. She rolls her eyes. “This school is so ghetto.”
Brittney nods and maybe would have said something else, but at this point it becomes impossible for them both not to notice that Santana Lopez is turned backwards in her chair and is giving her friend an evil look.
She moves her lips without speaking: Why are you talking to that cow?
Brittney shakes her head, obviously not getting it. Mercedes has always suspected that the girl is not very smart. She pretends to read over her notes while Santana mouths the words a second time.
Carbon forms 2 naturally occurring covalent network solids. She draws a bullet point. Graphite. Ignore them, her mom says. Mercedes isn't sure if she thinks that's good advice or not -- it depends on her mood -- but everyone already knows she could take Santana Lopez, and she is not going to the vice-principal's office again this year. She draws another bullet point. Diamond.
Brittney seems to have caught at least the import of the message, because her eyes are fixed on the blackboard, where Mr. Rondell is sketching a picture of electrons or neutrons or some nonsense.
It seems like, for a minute, she’d forgotten the rules.
Mercedes examines the string of pale gum extending from the desk to her black knit tights. Now her whole outfit is ruined. She clicks her mechanical pencil until the lead is longer than it has to be and touches the gum with the very tip, wondering who would do that anyway. Some people, she thinks, have no manners.
III: Don’t Lie
“We need you to settle something for us,” Quinn begins. In the folding chair next to her. Finn nods. He looks like he wants to take her hand, even though all he’s done since he found out is argue and make things difficult.
“Well, I can certainly try to help,” Ms. Pillsbury says.
“I’m pregnant.” Quinn hasn't said those words to anyone yet but Finn, and their stark abruptness pleases her, in a perverse way. She sees that Ms. Pillsbury looks completely unsurprised, and wonders for a second whether she already knows, whether Finn told Coach Tanaka about this -- obviously, he’s been dying to tell someone, and the whole school knows Tanaka and the guidance counselor are now an item -- but she decides to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. It's Ms. Pillsbury’s job, after all, not to look shocked by any kind of teenage depravity. “I have to see a doctor,” Quinn says. “I know I want the baby to be healthy, no matter what. And I feel like my boyfriend is blackmailing me because he won’t go with me to the OB-GYN unless he can tell his mom.
"So, what you're saying, Quinn, is that Finn would like to share the news about the child you're expecting with his mother, and that makes you uncomfortable."
"Right. It's none of her business."
Ms. Pillsbury swivels in her seat. "Finn, would you like to tell us how you feel?"
"It's going to be her grandchild or whatever.” He doesn't look at Quinn as he contradicts her. “So it kind of is her business." Little does he know.
"We're giving it up for adoption. We decided that. So the two of us can handle this on our own."
"Me and my mom have always been close. I guess I'm being kind of selfish -- I guess I just want someone I can trust to talk to." Now he turns to Quinn, appealing. "I don't have anyone to talk to but you, babe." He won't say he's scared, but he is. "It would be nice if there was somebody who could sort of help."
"Am I right that your parents don't know about this, Quinn?" Ms. Pillsbury asks.
"Don't you think that eventually, your condition will become obvious? I mean, the truth is going to come out, right?"
"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."
"It sounds like you're not looking forward to that day." Ms. Pillsbury straightens her mint green plastic stapler, bringing it in line with the edge of her desk. "I've talked to a lot of girls going through what you are right now. Sometimes, they're wrong about the reactions they'll get from their parents. Many times, unfortunately, they're right. This is what I think. If you have a potential ally in Finn's mother -- an adult who's going to support you in the hard decisions you've made about this baby -- it's going to make every difficult step a little easier."
The ironic thing is, Quinn really likes Finn's mom. She's always been super nice. That's why they can't tell her -- it's bad enough she has to lie to Finn.
"Let's say you have a secret," Ms. Pillsbury says. "And it seems like something that's so hurtful, you're just doing everyone a favor by keeping it to yourself. But maybe it's your pride telling you that. You don't want to embarrass yourself, or him -- uh, the other person, I mean."
Are they still talking about what Quinn thinks they're talking about? She looks for a sign that Ms. Pillsbury knows more about this whole mess than she should, that she guesses what Finn hasn't, so far. But the guidance counselor barely seems to be paying them any attention. She is staring down at her child-sized left hand, at the bare ring finger.
"You might think if you tell, all you'll be doing is stirring up trouble, but it can set you free. The person you're keeping a secret from, they'd rather hear it from you than find out another way. Maybe when you tell him -- that person -- it'll work out better than you thought."
Quinn thinks of Puck, the dark pain in his eyes when he confronted her in the hallway and she informed him she would never let the baby be his. She feels bad about that every time she throws up in the morning. Finn's a nice guy, the one she really loves. She doesn't want to hurt him too -- that's why she told the lie in the first place -- but she knows she's given him half a burden that isn't his to bear, and maybe that's worse.
Ms. Pillsbury, with her neat life, her stapler and her Purell, her cute little outfits and the cute little lunches she has in the teachers' lounge with Coach Tanaka almost every day, has no idea what it's like. "It's not that simple," Quinn tells her.
"You'd be amazed," Ms. Pillsbury says, "by how understanding people can be when they truly care about you."
Finn blinks in the striped afternoon sunlight coming through the blinds. He's confused. "Wait. So, who are you saying we should tell? Mr. and Mrs. Fabray? What about my mom?"
"Uh, no, no. Not necessarily. I mean, only you can decide ..." Ms. Pillsbury trails off. She seems startled, out of it, like she's just woken up from a dream. She turns her back to them suddenly. She is fumbling for a pamphlet from the stand behind her desk.
Quinn looks at her boyfriend, the man she has chosen -- tried to choose -- to be the father of her child, and she knows what she has to do. She can't lie anymore, no matter what.
She stands up, smooths down her Cheerios skirt and reaches for his hand. "Come on. Let's go back to study hall."
IV: So Long
It's quiet, but there's a tension in the hush that Artie can feel. It's like when the headphones are plugged in, not in your ears yet but you know the music's playing. It's third period and the hallway is empty for once. No one is pushing them.
Ten minutes ago, there was an announcement over the PA system. Principal Figgins didn't spell out exactly what's happening, but the tone of panic in his voice was enough to get everyone to listen to him. All the classroom doors in all the hallways are closing and locking and being barricaded from the inside.
Kurt looks into some of the windows they pass. “They're hiding under desks,” he reports. The rectangles of wire-embedded glass are set too high in the doors for Artie, but it doesn't matter. He's not sure he wants to see them, these kids who have bullied or ignored him since elementary. Would they look scared now? Would that stop him? He doesn't want to know.
They have a plan.
Kurt is dressed all in black, but Artie isn’t wearing anything special except for the Kevlar vest he ordered online. There’s no point in trying to disguise himself. The backpack on his chair is full of ammunition which, realistically speaking, he doesn't think they'll get to use. The Glock and the TEC-9 are in his lap because he needs both hands to move. Someone is going to try to stop them soon, and Artie thinks he knows how that will probably go. He's always been a pragmatist. They have to be quick to get it done, the important part.
They have a map. Kurt drew it in his basement, freehand, no ruler. He's good at things like that. Who knew?
They don't need to take it out. They turn into the Foreign Languages corridor. “Ready?”
Artie nods. From his low angle, he has an unobstructed view of the acoustic ceiling tiles in Room 212. No one has piled furniture in front of this door yet.
Kurt kicks it open. “Everybody get down and put your hands on your heads,” he says in his clear, loud performer's voice, and walks in. His dad's hunting rifle is slung easily over his shoulder. He thinks he's invincible. It's something Artie's always admired about him.
Artie follows, heart beating hard. He pivots in the doorway to face the rows of desks and locks his wheels. It won’t be like the woods behind Kurt’s house where they practiced. There, the ground is a bed of soft pine needles. On this smooth floor, the kickback might actually roll him a significant distance.
“All right?” Kurt asks without turning.
Señora Donnelly is hugging herself. She is at the front of the room under the American flag, her back pressed to the blackboard. On a normal day, she would be writing conjugations on the board and Artie would be in the front row, right in front of Mike Chang. This used to be Mr. Schuster's class, before he left Lima for parts unknown.
The kids get down on the floor. Señora Donnelly's eyes flick toward the door, to Artie. She doesn't know Kurt, who takes French.
A lot of the kids are out of their seats, some behind the bulky filing cabinet, others frozen around the heating vents that line the far wall, but Puck is where he usually is, in the back of the room. His feet are planted far apart, his big hands in fists on the flimsy desk surface of the desk-chair combo.
"Noah," Kurt says again. "Get the fuck up here." The order is calm and precise; Artie thinks the obscenity sounds out of place.
They have a list. The list has a number one.
Mentally, Artie does a count of the others in the room -- four boys and seven girls, plus Señora D. Where are the others? Did they run out into the hall when they had the chance?
"Everyone get up and sit on the radiator," Artie says. He wants them all in the same place, where he can keep an eye on them. His voice shakes, but they do it.
Puck stands and walks up the aisle toward them, deliberate and slow. If he's frightened, it's not obvious. "Hummel," he says, noncommittally, like this is nothing out of the ordinary. "What are you doing?"
Kurt smiles. The rifle is leveled at Puck's chest. "I didn't know you knew my name," Kurt says. "That's not what you usually call me, is it?"
"I know your name." Puck stops at the front row, maybe five feet away -- point-blank range. Artie wonders what will happen next. Will Kurt make him repeat all the slurs they used against him? Does he want an apology?
"Good," Kurt says simply. "Kneel."
The other boy obeys, folding his body gracefully, like it's a football drill or he's about to propose. Artie wants Puck to ask why they're doing this. He wants Puck to say please. He wants to hear what Kurt would say to that.
"It's just high school, Hummel." Puck tilts his chin up. "Everyone knows you'll get out. I always thought you knew, too."
That's when Mike Chang throws the desk-chair. He's got good aim for a McKinley football player; one of the metal legs catches Artie in the chest and takes away his breath for a second, but he's still holding onto the guns, he squeezes a round from the Glock without aiming and there's a terrific noise as the blackboard comes apart. Mike is vaulting over the last obstacles that separate him from the door, hurling himself at Artie's chair. Big hero, Artie thinks, firing again blindly from the floor. Mike is on top of him, maybe even kicking him, he can't tell.
"Let go!" Mike screams. "I don't want to hurt you, man!" Artie feels a strong grip on his right wrist. "Let go!" he yells again as Artie lifts the second gun, the TEC-9, and shoots him in the face.
Mike's body is heavy, but neither still nor limp. His lower jaw is not really there anymore; he is making noises that cannot be deciphered. He is not trying to say Artie's name, but he probably knows it. They are so close in the alphabet. Artie wrenches free his dominant hand and shoots again.
Gradually, he becomes aware of the noise in the room, like a radio station broadcast from Cleveland, fading in as the car moves north on the highway. On the heating ducts, Amy Markowitz has her arms around Mackenzie St. Clair, who is making huge, gulping sounds. Jacob Ben Israel is crying. There is a lot of blood.
His chair is tipped over and out of reach. He props himself on his elbows. The floor is slippery. His weapons and Mike's body make it difficult to move. "Kurt," he says. "A little help?"
Kurt and Puck are still at the front of the room, Puck still on his knees, the rifle pointed at his head now.
"I'll cover him. Just come over here for a second." Artie hates this. He knew something like this would happen.
They both grew up playing video games, but they took away different lessons.
Señora Donnelly is sitting on her butt, her skirt hiked up, pieces of blackboard in her hair. "Oh Jesus Christ," she says.
Kurt backs away from Puck and comes over. He flips the wheelchair upright and nudges it over, sweeping his gun along the row of scared students on the radiators. "None of you move, or you'll get what he got." He glances down. "God. That sounded so cliche, didn't it?"
"Why?" It's Puck. His face, turned toward them, is pale with distress but his neck is flushed. "Why did you shoot him?"
Why. Artie can remember years of reasons, all the incidents they talked about in Kurt's basement room. But those aren't the important things right now.
Artie adjusts his legs, positions his feet in the rests, picks up the guns again. "Because he went for me." He's looking at Puck, but he's talking to everyone in the room. "Don't you make that mistake."
Puck's eyes meet his. "I'm really sorry. We were shitty to you. We were jerks."
Artie knows why he's saying it, why he saved it to say to him. Because Kurt was going to escape to New York City and everything would have been different, but this is Artie's life, and he's stuck with it. In school, he used to have show choir, before Figgins cut it, and now he's left with jazz band and Tina, and more recently, Kurt and his maps and lists. After graduation, Artie will still have the guitar and his stupid family and a web design job or something if he's lucky, Social Security Disability to fall back on if he's not.
Would have. That's what he would have had, and people think it's not enough. Noah Puckerman, with two handguns and a rifle pointed at him, says that he's sorry. Artie believes him. He does.
They have a plan. Jacob is crying. Señora Donnelly's face is covered by her hands.
"Do you want me to?" Kurt says.
Artie can't remember what he answers, but the noise of the shot is loud.
V: Rebel Girl
Will is here to drink, not to listen to music, but when the opening band comes on, he finds himself turning on the barstool to face the stage in the back. In the middle of the set, he actually picks up his Blue Moon and his beer mat and finds a spot in the small crowd where he can hear better. Old habits die hard.
They're a neo-punk band – two guitars, driving bass and an overly enthusiastic drummer – not his usual thing, but he admires that all the musicians are young women, and he can detect the sweetness of the lead singer’s voice, even when she’s screaming out a chorus. She's Asian, with short-cropped hair and ripped stockings and jade bangles stacked all the way up her arms. Her green and black bangs fall into her eyes, and it's only when the song ends and she stops smiling that he recognizes her. She never smiled much, before.
He feels terrible about the ten seconds it takes him to remember her name. She was the quiet one. Then he sees it, in his mind, written out on a ruled piece of notepaper tacked to a bulletin board. Tina. Tina C. He pushes his way to the stage.
“Mr. Schue! What are you doing in Cincinnati?” The stutter he remembers isn't there, and she looks good – happy.
“I could ask you the same thing. Isn't it a school night?” She should be a senior this fall, he quickly calculates. Maybe she has open first period. Maybe she’s planning to skip.
“I dropped out.” She's blushing.
“Really?” It's been two years since he left, and most of the kids he taught should still be at McKinley. It's easy to imagine them that way, going about their lives like always even as his has changed so much, with the job and the divorce and the move. Maybe it’s naïve of him to think that they’re just where he left them.
“Last year. Best decision I ever made,” she says firmly. “I live here now. I'm doing something I really love.”
He wants to lecture her. If he were still her teacher, he would. But she sang well tonight, and he likes the way she's looking straight at him, her speech confident and sure. He’s a chartered accountant, that’s all, and he’s not sure what to say.
The lead guitar player, a short black girl with a pierced lip comes over to where Tina’s standing at the edge of the stage, putting a casual hand on her waist, the tips of her fingers slipping under the waistband of Tina’s skirt. The girl looks curiously down at Will. “What's up, T?”
“This is Mr. Schuster. He was my teacher in high school. He taught me to sing.” She smiles. “For about two weeks. Mr. Schue, this is Shona.”
“Hi, Shona,” Will says. “You guys rock.”
“We know,” Shona says like a hardened pro, but next to her, Tina is grinning from ear to ear.
Bonus Thematic Playlist:
Part I: Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar
Part II: Class from the musical Chicago
Part III: Don't Lie by the Black Eyed Peas
Part IV: So Long by Everlast
Part V: Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill
- "5 Things That Could Have Happened If Mr Schuster Quit Glee and Became an Accountant," R, Gen