“Life-and I don’t suppose I’m the first to make this comparison-is a disease: sexually transmitted and invariably fatal.” –Neil Gaiman
Alright so the whole Grilled Chessus thing wasn’t the proudest time of my life. But in my defense, religion has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I mean I know it exists but all those different faiths warring over each other and raging at the world just seemed kind of complicated.
So like with many complicated things in my life, I just kind of ignored it. Then there was the image of Jesus in my grilled cheese. All that vague latent curiosity that had built up over the years burst forth in full forced.
So I prayed.
To my grilled cheese.
Yes that was one of my patented “What the Fuck, Hudson?” moments.
But I was desperate and so I prayed.
I may not know a lot about prayer but I know that you’re not supposed to ask for really selfish things. So I decided to pray for the football team winning. I mean Artie was really psyched and kind of nervous for the first game, you know? His parents were gonna be there and he wanted to show everyone that he can be normal too.
I prayed for that because Artie was my friend. He always knew what to do to make me laugh when I was feeling down and taught me the vocab words for our English class by playing Hangman. So I figured praying for this one thing would make everything better. And a week of my musical life isn’t anything in the face of making a friend happy.
Artie’s huge smile when we lifted him up, chair and all, into the air was better than anything ever…even if it was a heavy chair. Whatever, we could take the pain.
…Except maybe Puck beating the ever living hell out of the guy who made a snide remark about Artie afterward.
But yeah, suggesting it wasn’t that hard. Plus it was awesome watching Mister Schue cut loose a little bit when Puck rocked the hell out of Only the Good Die Young.
I mean it was all good up to Burt having a heart attack.
That was fucking terrifying. I mean Burt’s made no move to replace my dad, but he’s become something I always desperately wanted you know? A stable, male figure who would take care of my mom. Because Mom deserves someone like that in her life.
But something like that happening…
It puts things in perspective. Kurt always had this inner strength that I kind of admired. The kind of strength that people don’t readily see but when you see it…
It’s pretty fucking amazing to witness.
Seeing Kurt look so weak and so sad…it was really depressing. I mean I think it’s completely okay that Kurt’s an atheist but to see him struggle to hold onto his faith in his dad was hard to witness. And I didn’t know how to help. Mom didn’t know how to help.
She tried to get him to stay over, but he refused saying that he needed to make sure that the house was taken care of. Mom told me that when she checked on him once, he was laying on the floor with a drawer open and one of Burt’s bathrobes tucked around him. There was the barest whiff of a woman’s perfume in the air.
And Mom had to leave because she felt like she was intruding on something.
I had to kind of take stock of my life you know?
I had to let the people that matter know that I loved them.
So I bought Mom flowers just because (well not really bought more of grabbing a bunch of them from Mrs. Everett’s garden). Puck and I had a Halo marathon (I let him win). I told Quinn how pretty she looked. I helped Artie getting used to doing bench presses. I escorted Tina and Mercedes to class because I knew that Azimo was giving them shit. I gave Mike my last Oreo. I helped Brittany with her art project and when Brittany is happy you make Santana less bitchy. I even slushied a guy for Rachel.
I mean I tried with the whole song, candle light vigil thing for Kurt. Which failed but whatever I mean I tried.
However, there was one person I still didn’t know who to help.
So I went back to praying…
“Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, "So this is how it feels," and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.” –William Shakespeare ‘Sandman’
Finn knelt by the side of his bed. He quickly, but carefully, unwrapped the plastic wrap from the plate. Setting it down, he cast a worried look behind him to make sure the door was closed. This wasn’t something that was going to be easily explained to his mom. He knew how she sometimes worried about him. There was no real reason to send him to therapy.
But it was better if his mom didn’t find out that he was praying to a sandwich.
Finn licked his dried lips before clasping his hands together.
“Grilled Cheesus,” he began, “Thanks for helping us win the game. It really meant a lot to Artie. He was smiling for days. Up until we heard about Burt. …I mean I hope he gets better, but I don’t think Kurt would appreciate it if I prayed over it. You know his beliefs and all that, so I won’t. Because I know that he will get better because with all that faith that Kurt has in him even a miracle can happen right?”
Finn paused for a moment trying to gather his thoughts.
“So with all that happening, I figure that I should show the people in my life how much I care about them. I mean I did in my own way because I’m not too good with words. But I’m having trouble with Mister Schue. Because he’s been all contemplative and sad with his songs lately. He sang this one yesterday called O Death and it was really chilling. I mean I can tell how much this thing with Burt affected everyone.”
Finn pressed his head to his knuckles, chewing on his bottom lip.
“What I’m basically asking for, Cheesy Lord, is the strength to talk to Mister Schue without looking like an idiot or a stalker. I’m not good with words. Like at all. But I know that in order to do this right then I’m going to have to talk to him. Because just standing by isn’t doing a thing to help. So please, please give me the courage to let the words come out and let this talk go well. You kind of owe to him to with all the crap you routinely seem to put him through. Uh…amen.”
Finn satisfied with his prayer, rewrapped the sandwich, and put it back in the fridge.
Now all he had to do was hope that this would work.
The next day, Finn walked the familiar path down the hall. He paused outside the choir room door, listening to the soft strains of music. It was a piano today. Slowly, quietly, Finn slipped unseen into the room. Where he truly watched Mister Schue is in element.
“Tonight the moon is playing tricks again
I'm feeling sea sick again
The whole world could just dissolve
Into a glass of water”
Finn sat back in the chair and shut his eyes. Mister Schue’s voice was slow and contemplative. A longing permeated every note only emphasized by the haunting melody of the piano. His voice reminded Finn of the time he saw the beach at night: almost pitch black with the silver of the moon casting a sheen to the sand: peaceful but empty.
It was beautiful and heartbreaking. Yet Finn didn’t want this song to end. This molasses slow, dark chocolate sounding song was beautiful.
He almost didn’t want it to end. This was the last time that he was going to hear Mister Schue truly uninhibited and it kind of broke his heart a little bit. But he needed to talk to him and this was the only time of day when what he needed to say wouldn’t sound weird.
Unfortunately everything good must end.
Finn leaned forward as the song drew to a close.
“But if you wear that velvet dress, if you wear that velvet dress
But if you wear that velvet dress, if you wear that velvet dress
Tonight the moon is a mirrorball
Light flickers from across the hall
Who'll catch the star when it falls”
The piano stopped and the only breathing he could hear was himself and Mister Schue’s.
“That was really good, Mister Schue,” blurted Finn out.
The teacher jumped and spun around, facing his student with wide and wild eyes.
“Oh uh Hi Finn,” stuttered out the older man, “…How long have you been there?”
“Tonight? Since the beginning of the song you were singing. Who was it by?”
“U2,” answered Mister Schue absently, “Wait what do you by tonight?”
Now it’s Finn’s turn to be overcome by shyness but instead of turning into a stuttering and stumbling mess, everything came flowing out of his mouth, “I don’t mean to sound stalkery or anything but uh a couple weeks ago I was walking by the choir room after tutoring. And uh I heard you sing. It was really beautiful and kind of a sad. I mean I never really listened to you sing. You went over the difference between listening and hearing so I realized that I was just hearing you sing before but I never listened. Anyways, it made me worry you know? And I really can’t do anything about it because you were there for me and I wanted to return the favor. Please please don’t be mad at me. I just couldn’t stop listening once I heard because you have a kickass voice and now I feel even worse then when I perved/listened to Sam in the shower in the beginning of the year.”
Finn fisted his hands into his jeans, unsure of what to say next. It was too quiet. He wanted Mister Schue to say something. Great now he was going to get yelled at and be called stupid. God what was he thinking when he thought that Mister Schue would even want his help? Maybe Mrs. Wingfield was right. Maybe he was a stupid little kid.
“Oh Finn,” sighed out Mister Schue, “Sometimes your heart is bigger than your head. I mean it was a little bit weird that you were listening in but I suppose it was just as weird that I was here.”
“Why…,” began Finn before shutting up. He didn’t want to seem nosy.
“I didn’t want to go home and face the empty apartment.”
Oh. Oh that made sense. Finn’s heart broke a little more for the man in front of him.
“Finn I appreciate the thought,” said Mister Schue gently, “But you shouldn’t be worrying about me. I’m the adult. I’ll muddle through. You should concentrate on being a kid.”
“But you shouldn’t be alone like that!” stated Finn vehemently, “You’re a nice guy, Mister Schue. And I can tell when someone is lonely. You shouldn’t have to muddle through your life. You should have someone there to experience it with! I mean…you shouldn’t have to go through this alone. You shouldn’t have to be alone in this.”
Mister Schue was staring at Finn as if he was some sort of unidentifiable being. A brief flicker of hope flashed through his face, which Finn read clear as day. Maybe he was getting through to him.
“You’re a teenager, Finn. You’re my student. It’s not appropriate. Plus I don’t want to burden you with my problems. I’m the teacher. I’m the adult. I have to be strong for you, for everyone else. Even if they don’t realize it. Even if it hurts.”
“Mister Schue,” began Finn before he stared down at his shoes. Why did he think that this would work? He was right. He was the adult. Finn was the child. There was no meaningful way that Finn could help in. He was just being so incredibly stupid, as usual.
Then he remembered his prayer. It was enough needed to push past his own insecurities. He and Mister Schue, they were both people with different titles but they were fundamentally people underneath everything.
“You’ve seen me at my most vulnerable. The way the world is treating you? It isn’t fair. Not to you. You’re always there, even though you don’t have to be. You don’t make feel stupid. You make me feel like I can do anything. You are always there to defend me, to make it better. I can never even begin to repay that. You’re right. I’m just a kid. And I can be idiot at times. But I'm not blind to your pain. I'm sorry if this is embarrassing but I'm not going to leave you to deal with this alone. You need someone in your corner. And you've been in mine millions of times. So please, Mister Schue, I'm begging you. Accept my help, my support. I may not have much. I may not be the smartest or the most whatever but I can be in your corner. I know I'm young, but let me help. Please, let me help you.”
Silence seemed to echo throughout the room. Finn kept his eyes trained on Mister Schue’s carefully blank face. Slowly, Finn stood and walked over before wrapping his arms around the older man and pulling him close.
Mister Schue stiffened as though no one had thought to hug him in a long while before slowly relaxing into Finn’s arms.
Quinn once said that it was impossible to not feel safe in one of his hugs. It was a good thing to no.
Whatever internal battle Mister Schue was having, he lost as he sagged into Finn’s arms like a doll and began to quietly cry against his shirt. Finn only tightened his grip and sent up a prayer for Someone, Anyone to help them both.
“Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do I should warn you, you’re gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past. Aliens from the future. The day the Earth died in a ball of flame. It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: a trip of a lifetime!” –Ninth Doctor
Shit that part sounded really overdramatic didn’t it?
I mean it did go down like that. I’m trying to be as truthful as possible here. But I suppose it seems kind of weird and shit, but I wasn’t going to leave him alone. I refused to do that because that’s just not who I am.
After that intial connection, there was a tentative understanding that we didn’t dare breach. It was kind of like when you and your friend have one of those serious talks and you need a day or two to process. Nothing bad happened because I was able to properly say what I wanted to for once.
And you know I was glad I asked for the words to help me.
Then Burt got better. Mister Schue and I had this weird kind of friendship but not really. Then Sam got nailed by this line back. Dude was built like a train. Shit. Everyone felt that.
I mean I wanted to be quarterback again but not at the expense of someone else. Plus I felt kind of bad for Sam you know? He needed someone there for him. Especially since no one knew what the hell to do. So I mean we were kind of friends beforehand but after actively seeking him out, it was easier to click. I mean sure he knew a lot more random, nerd pop culture references then I did.
Plus Puck had gone to juvie and I kinda knew that would have happened sooner or later. He took losing Beth really hard you know? It was his daughter and even though it was opened adoption, Shelby had moved to Cincinnati so Puck couldn’t see her that much. Adding that to his issues of abandonment from his dad leaving and I knew it was a spiral downward. I just hoped that this would change him for the better. Because Puck was a good guy, he just needed to get some teeth knocked out of him once in awhile.
Or as I later learned…a nipple ring.
So I hung out with Sam because he was the kind of guy I felt like I’ve known forever. He was awesome to talk to and chill with. Plus his mom made this awesome peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s kiss in the center which were just so fucking good.
Plus Sam knew awesome shit.
Dude could speak fucking Navi, Elvish, and knew a smattering of Klingon. That’s just badass nerdiness right there. So I suppose you could say this part of the story begins with me and Sam talking.
Anderson: We found the case! According to someone, 'The murderer has the case.' And we found it in the hands of our favorite psychopath.
Sherlock Holmes: (with contempt) I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research. –A Study in Pink
“Hey Sam,” said Finn sitting next to him at lunch, “How’s the arm?”
“Hurts like a bitch,” began the blond, “But Doc says I’m not going to need the brace in a couple of days.”
“Wow that’s awesome man!” cheered the football player, smiling a wide honest grin.
“Thanks, bro,” said Sam looking down, “Coach says I’m not ready to go back to practice yet though. She says that I’ve gotta rest my arm a bit more.”
“Dude,” muttered Finn empathetically, “That blows.”
“That’s what she said,” replied Sam instantly sending the pair into fits of snickering laughter. Once it subsided, Sam let out an explosive sigh, “Mom says I need an after school activity though. And I have no clue what to do.”
“What about glee? I mean you already auditioned. Plus it’ll be fun.”
“Well…I’m not sure bro. I mean you guys get a lot of flack.”
“Everyone gets a lot of shit for being in glee. But I mean who the fuck cares you know? It’s just something fun to do. Plus don’t lie to me and say you didn’t enjoy jamming with us.”
Sam remained quiet. So it wasn’t a flat out no. Good.
“And Mister Schue doesn’t impose a grade restriction. He flees that glee is a place to let out all the emotions and shit. It shouldn’t be just about school. I mean I’m still there and I have shitty grades. The only reason I’m still academically eligible for football is that I agreed to go to tutoring.”
“I had to agree to that because of my dyslexia. I swear to fucking God. It’s a learning disability. It doesn’t mean that I’m mentally handicapped.”
“Mrs. Wingfield,” confirmed Sam taking a comtemplative bite of his sandwich, “You say that Schue runs it?”
“Yeah! You in Spanish?”
“I have him for first and homeroom. I gotta say, he’s the only teacher in the school that doesn’t treat me like I’m special ed. He actually acts like he cares.”
“I know what you mean. And he does care.”
“I’m still on the fence bro.”
“Well look at it this way. Mike, Artie, Puck, and me are in it so that’ll be awesome. Plus we need another guy there to at least add some testosterone into the mix. Mister Schue always gives us some freedom with choosing the songs and he at least listens to you if you have a problem with performing it. I mean he let a bunch of us guys do KISS last year instead of Lady Gaga when we said that we weren’t really comfortable doing it. Plus didn’t you say that your mom was pushing you to think about colleges? Don’t colleges eat that stuff up? Like being a football player in show choir with dyslexia will have a lot of schools following you with those cartoon hearts in their eyes, you know?”
Sam let out a laugh at that, “Alright alright. I’m in. This is Schue’s free period right? I can just tell him now.”
Sam started gathering up his trash. Finn looked down at his half eaten sandwich for a moment.
“When you go talk to Mister Schue about joining glee…could you tell him how much him being so understanding and shit means to you?”
Sam blinked. His lips pulled into a thoughtful frown, “I don’t know, dude. It’s sounds kind of like a Lifetime movie scenario to me. I’ll expect a television promo about some woman who’s going to stand up to some bastard come in after me.”
“Just trust me on this. I mean Mister Schue is really awesome but he gets a lot of shit you know? And I don’t think that he hears enough about how cool he is. I mean you like it when your congratulated on something right? Or thanked? Or recognized?”
Sam’s lips turned a little bit upward. Finn looked up and there was a kind of understanding in his eyes.
“Alright bro. I promise. See you later.”
“Sure man, peace.”
Later when Finn was walking to glee, he saw a daily occurrence of McKinley: the daily verbal smack down of Sue Sylvester to Mister Schue. He paused for a moment, making sure that Coach Sylvester didn’t get too personal with the insults. When he noticed something well odd but awesome.
Mister Schue was smiling. And not that polite smile that didn’t reach his eyes, but that kind of smile smirk that he would make when he was genuinely amused. It seemed to annoy Coach Sylvester even more, but Finn knew that Sam had taken his advice to heart. Confident that he wouldn’t have to interfere, he continued walking to glee.
Where he promptly wished the ground would swallow him whole.
A duets contest?
Fuck. His. Life.
He could practically feel Rachel’s eyes drill holes into the back of his head. Oh shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit…
It wasn’t that he didn’t like Rachel. Finn thought she was an awesome person, at the same time however, he didn’t want to date. And he knew how she worked at this point. She was going to use this opportunity to get him back, corner him and ask.
Finn needed an emergency partner fast.
Alright well…Mike didn’t like to sing solos so that was that. Artie was probably going to use this opportunity to get together with Tina. He could ask Sam but Kurt was eyeing him up like a piece of meat. Oh Lord there was going to be a boundaries talk in the future.
His eyes flickered to Will, who was talking about duality or something of the like. Finn bit his lower lip and leaned back in his chair.
Now there was a possibility there.
A lot of possibilities.
It was one of the rare days where Coach Bieste gave them the day off. So Finn hung around a little bit afterward as every filtered out. Mercedes, bless her, had noticed Rachel staring at him earlier and had her sufficiently distracted.
“Hey Mister Schue?”
The teacher turned around and blinked, “Is there something I can help you with Finn?”
“Um I was wondering if you wanted to be my duets partner? I mean it’s cool if you don’t I just can’t think of anyone who would partner up with me and I kind of need one ASAP because Rachel is eyeing me like I’m the last chocolate chip cookie.”
“You’re not having problems with anyone are you Finn?”
“No! No. It’s nothing like that. If I asked Santana there’s a good chance she would cut me. If I asked Brittany there’s a good chance Santana will cut me then too. It’s still really awkward between Quinn and I. Kurt’s awesome but um he still has boundary problems. Mercedes and I don’t really mesh well style wise so that would end up in tears. And Puck’s got himself locked up. Mike doesn’t like to sing with just him singing. Tina and Artie are dancing around each other. So I’m kind of the odd man out, you know? Plus you said it was just us voting, democracy and all that, so it wouldn’t be against the rules if you sang with me.”
Mister Schue’s lips twitched upward, “Alright.”
“If you don’t mind singing with your teacher, then I’m fine with it Finn.”
“Awesome!” exclaimed Finn, practically beaming, “Oh man thanks Mister Schue.”
“Least I could do. It seems like I’m the safest option for you.”
“It may be a mind field of crazy but I think that’s how families are supposed to be.”
“Pretty much,” agreed Mister Schue with a smile.
“So uh when do you want to meet?”
“Well how about tomorrow after football practice?”
Finn looked down at his shoes, “I can’t I have tutoring.”
“I didn’t know you were getting tutored.”
“It’s the only way to stay academically eligible. I suck at school and Mrs. Wingfield said that she would fail me if I didn’t attend tutoring sessions. Since most teachers are gone by the end of the day when I get out of practice and stuff…it’s pretty much her.”
Mister Schue winced in sympathy, “I remember having her. God I think Ben Franklin would remember having her.”
Finn cracked a smile at that, “How about after it?”
“Sounds good to me, Finn,” grinned Mister Schue widely, “I’ll see you tomorrow after your tutoring session!”
There were two things that students knew about Amanda Wingfield. One: She was older than dirt and meaner than the Grinch. Two: You do as she said and maybe, just maybe, she would ignore your existence. However, there was always that one student she picks to be her favorite.
And by favorite, it meant that the unlucky bastard was given a daily verbal attack.
For Finn it unluckily meant that he was the target this semester. It kind of pissed him off that he was insulted daily by a woman who had no business teaching anymore. However, she was rapidly taking his good mood with Mister Schue being his duet partner and expecting his help and turning it sour.
A couple days after agreeing to be duet partners, Finn and Mister Schue still hadn’t picked a song yet since duets were traditionally sung by a man and a woman. And Finn’s tutoring with Mrs. Wingfield just kept on getting worse.
“Honestly, Mister Hudson,” stated the teacher condescendingly, “Have you taken so many hits to the head that you cannot remember a simple date?”
“Sorry ma’am. It’s just that they get all mixed up in my head. I’m trying.”
“Well obviously not hard enough, boy. I don’t know how to make this stuff any simpler for you. Perhaps I should use hand puppets,” stated the teacher, acid dripping from every word, “Perhaps going into construction will be better. I honestly can’t see a college accepting you.”
“Look ma’am,” said Finn through gritted teeth. He really should be used to this but it still stung, “I promise I’m trying. I just have a hard time connecting this stuff, you know?”
“No I do not know Mister Hudson. Perhaps they should have kept you in kindergarten if this is too hard for you. Do you think the professors will pay you any mind in college boy? Please you’ll just be a lost cause, a waste of space to them. I don’t know why I even bother you, little boy. Obviously you won’t be going anywhere.”
Finn looked down, face flushed with shame. Great. He was so stupid and why was he even trying? No one wanted to be friends with a total moron like him. He wanted to go to college, to make his mom proud, to make Mister Schue proud. All these smart believed in him. Why the hell couldn’t he get it? Maybe college was just a pipe dream, but he didn’t want to worry about that yet. He wanted to stay academically eligible because football was awesome and glee was just as fun too and…
“Perhaps tomorrow night, I should try nursery rhymes. That seems to be more on your level.”
Finn’s hold tightened on his pencil. Calmcalmcalmcalm…she’s the teacher, she has the power. Finn was no one compared to her.
“Amanda? What’s going on here?”
Finn glanced up and saw Mister Schue standing there.
And he didn’t look too happy.
“William! Why I’m just attempting to put some knowledge into Mister Hudson’s head.”
“Doesn’t sound like it to me,” said Mister Schue calmly, “Actually it sounds like you’re giving him quite a verbal assault.”
“Well sometimes with the more difficult students you need to show them that they cannot get off on slacking alone. You must be stern with them.”
“Actually I always found Finn to be one of the hardest working students that I know.”
Finn’s head snapped up at that before looking down. No teacher had ever said that about him before.
“Well then perhaps we have different methods of teaching.”
“Oh I know we do. I actually give two shits about my students while you seem comfortable knocking down their confidence. We’re supposed to be building them up!”
“For what? The disappointments they’ll become?”
Something inside Mister Schue snapped, “Look lady I don’t care if you taught the ABC’s to Methuselah himself, you don’t talk about students like that. Actually you probably berated him as well. I’ve had students come to my class crying over your treatment of them. I remember watching you for years in high school breaking my classmates down. A couple even dropped out because of you and your mind games!”
Finn stood grabbing his books. Mrs. Wingfield stood enraged, her wrinkled face turning purple.
“Oh and you’re one to talk? You’re an embarrassment to this profession and yourself, William. Bumping and grinding with your students, it makes me sick. Obviously you’ve never grown up after high school. Can’t keep a woman. Can’t keep a wife. So you act like the hormone riddled disgrace teenager you once were, trying to recapture your youth. I’m sorry if I offended you by the fact that I don’t have a burning need to be friends with my students that I find boundaries and rules to be an acceptable method.”
Finn didn’t care if she insulted him like that. But no one insulted Mister Schue. He was the only one to even believe in him. He was always there. Finn stood up, his chair scraping angrily across the floor. As he prepared to deliver the rant of a lifetime.
But one look at Mister Schue, and the red faded from his vision with his jaw clicking shut. Mister Schue’s face was blank, his eyes burned with an icy cold fury that froze Finn’s blood in his veins.
“I would rather be an embarrassment than a giant parasite. You torment them and feed off it like a tapeworm or worse. You’re an absolute disgrace of a teacher, who should have retired years ago. Fear is not a motivator for students to do better rather it is a deterrent. I do have to thank you though, Mrs. Wingfield. It was because of you that I decided to be a teacher. So that I could fix those kids that you brought down with your pettiness and bullying. It stops here, tonight. Finn is being tutored by me and you can go to hell.”
Finn slowly grabbed his books and walked over to Mister Schuester.
“YOU CAN’T DO THIS WILLIAM!”
Mister Schue turned around and with a slow, deadly voice said, “Watch me. C’mon Finn.”
“I’ll tell Figgins about this!! Wait and see!”
“Bring it, you old bat!”
As they walked away from the classroom, Finn glanced at Mister Schue before saying, “They’re going to talk about you more now.”
“It’s better for them to gossip about something that’s true then gossiping for gossip’s sake.”
“Thanks Mister Schue.”
The teacher paused and smiled a little bit, “You need someone there to believe in you, Finn. And I figure that if you’re going to be helping me like you say you are then I should return the favor. Now come on. I have a song picked out and I think you’ll like it. I mean it’s from Rent so I’m not sure if you’ve seen it. But the part you have is very rocker so I think you’ll enjoy it…”
Finn listened to the teacher prattle on about his ideas for the song, still smiling. The stupid, dopey grin didn’t leave Finn’s face at all because things were turning out to be pretty okay.
Rehearsing with Mister Schue, Finn learned was kind of strange and kind of fun. Because they would talk in between rehearsing.
“Hi. Mark Cohen here for Buzzline…Back to you Alexi! Coming up next-vampire welfare queens who are compulsive bowlers!” began Mister Schue with a forced cheerful sarcasm, “Oh my God, what am I doing?”
The music started up and Finn fisted his hands into his jeans. Think rocker angst, ex-heroin addict thoughts and not how nice that scarf looked on Mister Schue.
“So let me get this straight,” said Finn as he leaned back, “You want us to do a song from a musical about this group of artists in New York in the eighties. Most of them have AIDs and one of them has died at this point. And the only ones that have it semi-okay is the lesbian couple with one being a control freak while the other is a serial cheater. Wow. No offence, Mister Schue, but this sounds like a buzzkill.”
“Oh it’s not,” said Mister Schue with a wistful smile, “the whole musical is about grasping life with passion, to live it to the fullest. It’s a very uplifting message. Plus it has the rock quality in it that your voice is suited for. It was like a spiritual experience when I first saw it.”
Finn glanced down at the sheet music in his hands. It’s the first time he’s heard true joy in Mister Schue’s voice. He wasn’t going to take that away if he didn’t fully understand it yet.
“Alright. I’m in.”
“Don’t breathe too deep
Don’t think all day
Dive into work
Drive the other way
That drip of hurt
That pint of shame
Just play the game,” sang Mister Schue half to himself and the audience as he fiddled with the camera in his hand. He crossed his half of the stage with a contemplative air as though there was no one there except him.
Finn couldn’t see the audience from the bright lights. He wondered what the others were thinking. Mister Schue was totally owning it though. It was kind of ironic that this kind of depressing song was getting more happiness and good emotions out him that Finn had ever heard in the week of him listening.
“You’re living in America
At the end of the Millennium
You’re living in America
Leave your conscience at the tone,” sang Mister Schue with a roll of his eyes and a bit of malice in his voice. He sighed as he held up the camera to his eye pretending to film the audience.
“And when you’re living in America
At the end of the Millennium
You’re what you own.”
Finn licked his dry, cracked lips nervously as he stepped forward. He ran a hand through his hair before glancing at Mister Schue with a light smirk on his face.
“The filmmaker cannot see,” he sang to Mister Schue teasingly.
“And the songwriter cannot hear,” countered Mister Schue with a shrug.
“I don’t think I’m getting it,” said Finn as he chewed his bottom lip, “Why is it Mark and Roger singing? I mean I get that Mark’s the narrator person and Roger has a really big role but…it’s not clicking.”
“Even though it doesn’t look it,” began Mister Schue with as he clucked his tongue to the roof of his mouth, “Mark and Roger have one of the most important relationships in the whole musical. Their apartment holds the most action in the play. They’ve been through a lot together and have come to depend on each other. Mark has helped Roger through his addiction and has always stood by him. So this song is kind of like them venting to each other without the other being there.”
“So they’re bros,” said Finn slowly as he glanced over the sheet music, “And they’re just doing what bros do sometimes.”
“Well it’s a simplified version,” said Mister Schue but he grinned obviously proud of Finn, “But that’s right on the money.”
“Alright,” said Finn with a smile, “I think I’m up for another try.”
“Yet I see Mimi everywhere,” cried Finn out plaintively as he glanced at Mister Schue.
“Angel’s voice is in my ear”
Finn glanced out at the audience and growled, “Just tighten those shoulders.”
“Just clench your jaw till you frown,” sang Mister Schue with a ‘what can you do’ shrug.
They both glanced at each other from their opposite sides of the stage.
“Or you may drown”
Mister Schue had a million stories to tell.
“So there we were wandering aimlessly through the parking lot at Hershey looking for the bus. We can’t find it and we’re thinking that we have to either pool our money together or hitchhike back to Lima. Bryan Ryan is freaking out going, ‘Oh my God!’ thinking that he’s going to have to sell his body when the bus comes into view.”
“And?” wheezed Finn out as he clutched his sides.
“And it’s leaving. So Mark, who took his skateboard everywhere, starts skating after it waving his arms screaming for it to stop. And it does. But Mark hasn’t been warned so WHAM right in the kisser.”
Finn clutched his sides as fresh peals of laughter fell from his lips. Mister Schue grinned, sitting back in his seat, as he took a long swig of his ice tea.
“Oh my God,” said Finn as he wiped his eyes, “That’s just classic. You realize that the next time Bryan Ryan descends upon us, that I’m not going to be able to look him in the eye right?”
“That’s the plan,” said Will smirking evilly as he drained the last bit of his drink, “Alright you up for doing the song again?”
Mister Schue smiled, and Finn’s stomach flip-flopped in a pleasant way.
“You’re living in America
At the end of the Millennium
You’re living in America
Where it’s like the Twilight Zone,” they sang ironically with stupid smiles on their faces. It was impossible to not laugh at the situation a little bit.
“And when you’re living in America
At the end of the Millennium
You’re what you own,” they chorused together before turning their attention toward the audience. Finn kept a delicate grip on the guitar in his hand.
“You and Mister Schue are singing something from Rent?” questioned Kurt.
“Yeah…why were you and Sam going to do it?”
“As much as I would love to. Sam and I have unfortunately split our partnership over irreconcilable differences,” Finn must have looked perplexed as Kurt clarified, “He and I had trouble picking a song and we just decided that it was easier to not be partners on this project less we put Sam off glee forever.”
Kurt paused as he took a drink of his mineral water, “I have already picked out a splendid number from Victor/Victoria. Which is much better suited for my talents. A couple of my friends from the Cheerios have agreed to help out.”
“Oh,” said Finn simply as he blinked, “That’s cool. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out with you and Sam.”
“C’est la vie. You can’t expect to mesh well with everyone,” stated the feyish gleek with a shrug, “But Rent is one of my favorite all time musicals. So simply put,” said Kurt with a slight narrowing of his eyes, “You two ruin this song. And I will cut you both.”
“Dude you need to stop hanging out with Santana.”
“Don’t you have a rehearsal to go to?” asked Kurt innocently.
Finn rolled his eyes and went to find Mister Schue, who he told about his encounter with Kurt.
“So…we’re singing for our lives?”
“I don’t think he’ll mess us up too bad,” said Finn with a shrug, “But an extra go at the song wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
“So I own not a notion
I escape and ape content
I don’t own emotion-I rent”
Mister Schue and Finn almost in tandem rushed to the front of the stage, moving closer together without a second thought. Both were facing each other but not directly looking at each other.
“What was it about that night?” questioned Mister Schue as he scrubbed a hand over his face.
“What was it about that night?” echoed Finn back as he picked out the leather rocker jacket.
“Connection,” they sang together with strong and longing voices, “in an isolating age.”
“You’re the happiest grunge rocker I’ve ever seen,” teased Mister Schue as he took a swig of water.
“Oh shut up,” groused Finn with a slight pout, “We all couldn’t have had the Cobain years as a guideline.”
“C’mon Finn,” cajoled Mister Schue, “Connect with your ex-heroin addicted inner rocker. Make friends with it.”
“Not all of us can be as in tandem with their inner self as you are.”
“I cannot help it if I’m an unapologetic nerd like Mark. Plus he’s the Team Mom type.”
“You do realize that you just called yourself the club’s Team Mom.”
“Yes I did,” said Mister Schue before pausing, “Mention this and I will fail you.”
“No you won’t. I’m your favorite.”
“Ethically speaking, I’m not supposed to have any favorites.”
“Uh-huh suuuure you’re not,” said Finn with a patronizing tone while Mister Schue huffed.
“Oh just start singing Hudson.”
“For once the shadows gave way to light,” sang Mister Schue with wonder in his tone.
“For once the shadows gave way to light,” echoed Finn with a solemn tone.
“For I didn’t disengage,” they sang to each other before looking away and walking to separate areas on each side of the stage.
It was a strange thing.
Finn figured with the song choice, which was a depressing kind of song once he thought about it more, that Mister Schue would be even sadder. But it was like he was being energized somehow. He seemed happier during the day. He seemed happier during tutoring. He just seemed like his personality had decided to come back from the dead in full force.
And Finn was confused as to why it happened. He supposed it had something to do with him. But the laughs have been coming easier. The smiles seemed less forced. Mister Schue seemed more comfortable around him, even in the hallways there was always that real smile and that nice greeting. Finn would come into Spanish class a couple minutes early to talk to the teacher.
Finn blinked in wonder.
When did he and Mister Schue become friends?
“Finn! C’mon let’s light this candle.”
“Angel-I hear you-I hear it
I see it-I see it
My film!” sang Mister Schue excitedly while Finn sang simultaneously.
“Mimi-I see you-I see it
I hear it-I hear it
My song!” he laughed as he pretended to strum the guitar.
Call me a hypocrite
I need to finish my own film
I quit!” said Mister Schue excitedly as he ran to meet Finn in center stage.
Finn sang and walked at a leisurely pace.
“One song glory
He gently put the guitar down as he ran forward to grasp Mister Schue’s arms.
There was something about spending time with Mister Schue that felt kind of right, that made Finn’s stomach flip-flop in a way that it hadn’t in a long time. Finn started noticing Mister Schue’s laugh and smile and the way his eyes lit up when he did something right. He started cataloguing every touch, every glance.
And then it hit him, as all the revelations do, that he was crushing on Mister Schuester.
It kind of freaked him out. Because Finn had always identified himself as straight. He loved girls. He loved breasts and long legs and soft hair and soft skin. But at the same time, there was something about Mister Schue that made Finn pause to take notice. It was the way he moved when he was dancing and the way he sang. It was all of those weird and wonderful stories and how he had such faith in Finn.
But Finn wasn’t gay. At least he was sure that he wasn’t gay. Guys didn’t turn him on like girls did. But girls didn’t make his stomach flip-flop and his heart beat a little quicker like Mister Schue did. Was it possible to be attracted to someone of his own sex without being gay? Or was it something that made Finn even more defective?
Finn would have these thoughts fly through his head every night. And the suppress them the next day. It was too complicated to think about, even though his heart sped up every time Mister Schue smiled at him.
He would just ignore it for now, Finn decided as he spiked his hair. Mercedes, Tina, and Rachel were talking excitedly about his and Mister Schue’s duet. Finn didn’t realize that this Rent show was that popular. With a deep and calming breath, he stepped out onstage.
“Dying in America
At the end of the Millennium
We’re dying in America
To come into your own” they sang delightedly as they gave each other a one armed hug.
“But when you’re dying in America
At the end of the Millennium
You’re not alone”
Mister Schue was grinning, a wide honest grin that Finn tentatively returned. He vaguely took note of cheering and whistling behind him, but he pushed it to the side, too preoccupied to care. Maybe this song was a good choice from them.
Mister Schue wasn’t lonely anymore.
“I’m not alone
I’m not alone”
And neither was Finn.
As the lights blacked out, they stood there grinning like fools. New Directions was going nuts in the audience. But Finn just wanted to ignore them for a couple more moments, to remember this moment.
“So uh,” he said tentatively, “I tried to connect to my ex-heroin addict inner rocker guy. I’ve named him Bob.”
Mister Schue just threw his head back and laughed.
Yeah they weren’t alone anymore.
“We won?” said Finn questioningly after Mister Schue announced the winners.
“Apparently,” said Will as he blinked, “I mean everyone voted for themselves. But we won by one.”
Finn looked at the voucher for Breadstixx in his hands before glancing at Quinn and Sam.
“Mister Schue? Maybe we should give the vouchers to Sam. You know because I mean it’s awesome we won. But I don’t want you to feel obligated in going with me because of well since I guess it would look kind of weird and stuff. Plus you know I don’t want you getting sick of me hanging around all the time because it kind of look stalker-ish because it’s fun hanging out with you but my mom always says moderation or something like that. Since Sam’s new to glee maybe it would be like a Welcome to the Club thing?”
Mister Schue blinked before smiling a little, “That sounds like a really nice idea, Finn. Make Sam feel welcomed.”
Finn smiled before walking over and sitting next to Sam, “Here.”
“Mister Schue and I wanted to give you the vouchers. As a welcome present.”
“Seriously?” asked Sam smiling.
“Dude no chick-flick moments,” said Finn with a roll of his eyes, “Take the vouches and ask Quinn out already.”
Sam flushed but took the vouchers, “Thanks dude. I owe you one.”
“It was nothing, man. Now go and be all mushy and shit.”
Sam’s response was to just grin again before going to Quinn and asking her out on a date. Finn smiled to himself for the rest of glee. As he gathered his stuff to head to the locker room, Mister Schue stopped him.
“Is something wrong, Mister Schue?” asked Finn as he shifted his backpack.
“No nothing at all, Finn. I just wanted to say that was a really nice thing you did for Sam,” said Mister Schue with that nice genuine ‘I’m so proud that you had a moment of growth’ smile on his face.
“Well uh itwasnothing,” said Finn quickly trying to ignore the way that smile makes his face burn in a gentle blush.
“It wasn’t nothing,” insisted Mister Schue before he continued, “And we did win. I did promise the winners’ a meal. So um there’s a new Mexican restaurant that opened up. Apparently they have burritos bigger than my head. My treat?”
Finn’s grin could have lit up an entire city block.