Title: 5 Times Will Schuester Spoke Spanish to Emma Pillsbury
Length: 2,354 words
Summary: There are times when English just doesn't cut it.
Disclaimer: Words are mine. Characters are not.
"Hola! Como estas?"
The greeting was almost a question in her mouth. Emma's eyes widened at the steady, smiling man in front of her.
"It means, 'How are you,'" he offered. He stuck a hand out for her to take.
"I'm Will. Will Schuester. Spanish teacher." His smiled widened, hand still waiting.
"Oh, I—Pillsbury. Emma Pillsbury." Her eyes searched for anywhere to focus besides on his extended hand. She grimaced at the thought of another sweaty palm on hers…it had been a troublesome first day.
"I'm the new guidance counselor," she explained to the floor, trying to avoid seeing his smile falter as he brought the hand to his side. Maneuvering around him, she sat down at the nearest table with her lunch, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath, hoping he would go back to whatever he was doing before their encounter.
She started when she heard the chair next to her move.
"That's really great," he said. "Old Sloane was a pill. We could use a new face around here—sometimes I think we're all going to get so sick of each other we might snap."
She stayed focused on her own hands, folded on top of the lunch bag. "Oh?"
"Yeah. A lot of the faculty went to high school here, born and raised in Lima. Hell, I had Mrs. Parsons for algebra."
Emma chanced a look up and immediately regretted it—he was genuinely smiling, but she couldn't take her eyes off a wayward curl that had somehow dislodged itself from the rest of his hair.
"You from around here?" he said.
"No, no… I'm from Marion."
Her eyes widened as she saw him start to unpack his lunch beside her.
"Wow, well, great to have you here. We don't get a lot of people from out of town."
She took a shaky breath, still staring at her folded hands.
Meanwhile, Will took a bite of his apple and looked at her thoughtfully. "Where did you go to school? I mean, for counseling and all. Psychology major? Sociology? Education?"
She sat, stiff and speechless. I have to get them out.
"Wait, let me guess. It's something unexpected, like history? Music?... Theater?" he questioned hopefully
Her mind whirled. I have to get them out, she thought. I have to put the on gloves before I touch the food before I touch my mouth. I have to put them on and he's going to think I'm insane. He's going to sit there with that… that gosh darn curl flying off the top of his head and think I'm totally mental. Her lips drew closer together and she clenched the paper bag.
She noticed him staring at her. "I—I, what? Oh, it was… I… abnormal psychology. You know… neurosis, psychosis—can you excuse me?"
She strangled the lunch bag with both hands and stood rigidly from her seat, turning. The amount of guilt she felt about rejecting her first potential friend at William McKinley high was highly outweighed by the need to wash her hands, eat, and wash her hands again. But as an afterthought—
"It was nice to meet you, Will." She extended her hand shakily.
He gracefully recovered from his confusion, took her hand in his, and held on firmly.
"The same," he said, and managed one last baffled smile.
She tried to flinch only slightly at the contact, but still withdrew her hand a second too quickly. Please let that be my last handshake of the day, she prayed.
As Emma Pillsbury retreated to eat her first lunch in the faculty restroom, Will Schuester muttered aimlessly to her back, "Adios."
Emma Pillsbury was scrubbing furiously at her hands when Will walked past the staff lounge on Friday afternoon.
"Emma, what—" And then he saw the tears.
She looked at him as if she wanted to explain, but she settled for a quick, blubbering sob and a squirt of soap on her hands.
He set down his bag and stood silently, watching her hands move frantically over each other.
"Just… it's okay…" she managed breathlessly, "It's okay, I… I can—" and she let out another painful round of sobs.
"How… how can I help?" he said, slightly unnerved. "Emma?"
Her lower lip shook as she gazed red-eyed at him and contemplated his sincerity, gauging him for some indefinable quality worthy of her trust. At last, she seemed satisfied and motioned to her bag on the floor.
He gingerly pulled two latex gloves from the half-empty box. What the… he wondered, forehead wrinkling.
Understanding came to him in slow, irregular amounts. As he put on the gloves, he concluded that this wasn't the time for his questions.
His latex-covered hands ran over hers as if her skin was gossamer. Exhausted, the tension in her back gave out and she bent slightly. Will propelled the suds across her fingers, one-by-one, and then led her hands to rinse under the stream of warm water. She shivered as the panic attack was replaced by an altogether novel form of panic.
When he grabbed a towel and moved to dry her hands for her, she nabbed it from his fingers and dried them herself. She breathed a heavy, shaking breath, and focused on the brown paper absorbing the water from her palms.
He wasn't leaving.
She took a deep breath and exhaled: "Peter Salsman. Peter Salsman came to my office, I don't even remember what for and… I think it was a sinus infection… it… it was green…" she shuddered violently and crumpled the paper towel. "It was… wiped, and then it… he grabbed my hand before I could stop and all day I just…" she gazed at him, nearly begging for sympathy.
"I don't deal well with messes," she finished.
Hands still gloved, he slowly removed the towel from her death grip and examined it.
"Ah, senorita," he said at the towel, and then at her eyes, "La vida esta sucia."
She didn't know what he had said, but by God, did she believe it was true.
The smell of the gaudy vase of flowers wafted down the hallway. Emma grimaced.
It was Valentine's Day, just over two years since she had started at McKinley high. Ms. Pillsbury had arrived early that morning, donning a holiday-suitable pink cardigan, only to find a flower arrangement in the place of the coffee mug.
"EMMA," the card had read—except the "A" was replaced by an upside-down heart. She had opened the small note only to find the initials "KT" scrawled along the inside.
Horrified, she looked around the empty lounge as if expecting to be ridiculed. Thank God Sue isn't here for this.
Wiping down the vase, she concluded that the safest place for the gift was in her office. Perhaps on the far shelf.
Or under the desk.
Lost in panicked thought, she hadn't heard the footsteps coming alongside her down the hall. She almost shrieked when she caught the sight of Will Schuester out of the corner of her eye.
"Oh God, Will you scared me—I was just… I," she fumbled for a way to explain the explosion of flowers in her hands while simultaneously considering hiding herself in a locker.
He grinned. Oh God, does he know…
"Un admirador?" He cocked an eyebrow, thoroughly amused by her embarrassment.
"I… oh dear," she said, stopping and gazing hopelessly at the flowers.
Sensing her tenseness, he bumped an elbow softly against her and tried to ignore the shiver he saw running over her body.
"Maybe it's about time Ms. Pillsbury got bitten by the love bug," he joked.
She looked at him wide-eyed, momentarily flustered, but pulled herself together long enough to give another disgusted gaze at the flowers.
"I'm never wearing pink again," she said helplessly.
He laughed heartily and continued down the hallway.
"Oh, by the way, I'm not sure Ken showered before he bought those. Straight from practice and everything." Will beamed at her over his shoulder.
She nearly dropped the vase where she stood.
"No, no, no, more like 'AH-nah,'" he explained.
He put down the apple and picked up his sandwich.
"This one's too easy. It's sandwich, just say it 'sahnd-weech.'"
Will smiled at Emma's attempt. "Not too bad," he said.
"Another," she prodded. "What about the cookies?"
"Galletas. And the drink is bebida."
Will laughed, and she smiled hesitantly.
Ken had the flu and had been sentenced to a week of fiancé quarantine—in the meantime, she had been mustering up the courage to put on the ring.
Today was the first time she had convinced herself to wear it. She told herself for the seventeenth time that morning: the plans were settled. Hawaii was just a month away. And here she was again, finding herself emotionally compromised by the Spanish teacher.
"How about some phrases?" he suggested. "Try this one, 'Me gusta cantar.'"
"Me guster cantar," she repeated. "What did I say?"
"That one was, 'I like to sing,'" and he smiled as if he'd just shared a valuable secret.
She grinned appreciatively. "You and singing? Never. Let's try something else… how about, 'Wash your hands?''
Her eyes followed his lips, "Lavarse las manos," he crooned in a mock-seductive voice.
She gave a high-pitched squeak of appreciation, which dissolved into a series of small, suppressed laughs.
"You should speak Spanish more often," she said. Gazing at him momentarily with an unguarded stare, she returned her attention to her lunch.
Will smiled, content with easy silence.
He watched her as she methodically peeled her orange. He followed the lines of her upright back down the slope of her hair, past her pursed lips and ornate collar to her careful hands. And just when the cubic zirconia glimmered into his focus, his mouth moved.
"Me encantaría tu si yo pudiera."
She glanced up. "Hold on, I missed a bit—me encantra tusi yo pudi…pudio…pudding?... I don't remember," she smiled fully, sweetly.
When he didn't say anything, she became more serious. "What does it mean?"
Will smiled, strained. "It means, 'I'm glad you're here.'"
She visibly flushed. Will shifted beneath the weight of his words. Quickly changing the subject, she pulled out the last of her food. "I'm never going to finish this," she said, holding out an untouched oatmeal cookie. "Guy-yayt-us?"
Tension broken, they laughed as Will rebuked her Spanish and gracefully declined her offer.
The arrangement really wasn't all that bad, Emma thought.
For the three hundredth and sixty fifth time she had woken up a married woman—alone, comfortable, and clean. She grabbed her lone toothbrush from cleansing solution in the shimmering white bathroom. She tightened the straps of her Mary Janes on the spotless bedroom carpet. She removed the hairs she had shed on her pillow the night before with tweezers. It was pristine.
It had been nearly three months since Will's divorce was finalized. She thought about it nearly every morning as she drove to work. Ken would be wary and suspicious today, as usual. The fact that the football coach had dropped nearly 15 pounds since Will's breakup was telling in and of itself. Will he ever trust me? she thought. Should he?
Yes, yes he should. He should trust me, she insisted.
As little as she wanted to admit it, her relationship with Will had been virtually non-existent for the extent of the divorce. He had fully absorbed himself in glee club, pushing several of the students so hard that many of them had shown up in her office in a state of emotional meltdown.
She heard that he had been seeing a therapist outside of school. I wonder if she's a redhead…
Stop, she thought. It wasn't her place anymore. It was never her place.
For the three hundredth and fifty sixth day, she ate lunch alone with Ken. She tried not to watch him chew. She tried not to think about the figure over her husband's shoulder, hunched over a sheet of music and listening to his MP3 player when he should be eating. She tried not to listen to Sue's "Barbie—sorry—Bambi and Ken," and she grew anxious over the thought that she hadn't cleaned the door handle before she came into the school that morning.
At two thirty she remembered that she had, in fact, cleaned the door handle. At three, Ken came to get his daily kiss before starting practice. And at three thirteen, she heard a knock on her door.
"Hey, I need a really big favor—"
She met Will's eyes with a wide, almost painful gaze, and nodded. He shuffled uncomfortably, testing boundaries that hadn't been touched since the dark circles had started forming under his eyes.
"Santana's mom's car broke down, and we need another chaperone for tonight's invitational… the thing is, we'd have to leave now, and I didn't know…" she was already out of her chair, "…if you had plans with Ken…"
"No, no, it's fine. I'm… I'm totally free, I just need to…to uh…" she began hurriedly stacking papers, trying to fill her tote as fast as possible. She knocked over her pen holder, which she clumsily tried to yank upright before he noticed.
Watching her scurry like a scared animal, Will loosened, letting himself grin at her antics.
When her folder fell and scattered on the floor, Will laughed. "Well, darn it all," she muttered passively, giving him another apologetic glance.
Throwing on her second-to-last pair of latex gloves to gather her belonging from the ground, she stammered, "You can… just go ahead. I'll be outside in a minute."
She gave a heavy sigh as another stack of papers tumbled to the floor. She spared him one more pleading glance. "Just… just wait for me."
He gazed at her soberly for a moment, and then the corner of his mouth curled.