Author's Notes: Oh my god, guys, I haven't updated this in FOREVER. Sorry. And, by the way, this is the chapter where I'm most nervous about having handled something sensitively and realistically, so please tell me if I've majorly f-ed up. Or if I haven't, actually, because it would be reassuring.
Everyone's a little surprised to see Finn wander into Glee with a black eye.
"Finn?" asks Rachel, running up to him. "Oh my god, what happened?"
He tries to hold one hand over it, while Rachel tries to pull the hand away. "You know, for the record?" he says, "I am never becoming a garbage man if this happens around most dumpsters."
Artie blinks, confused. "Wait, did you get dumpster'd? 'Cause you weren't on the list–"
"Oh, no, it wasn't me," Finn explains. "I found Karofsky in there again, and because I'm a nice guy, I gave him a hand out of there. And this," he indicates the eye with his hand, "is how he repaid me. Guess he really didn't grow out of the pulling pigtails stage after all." He sighs deeply. "Look, I know he's like, doing the whole sexuality-issues thing and is under major pressure, but dude, he punched me in the face for like, no reason. I'm allowed to be pissed, right?"
"Yes," says Kurt quickly. "And I assure you: non-heterosexuality is in no way an automatic guarantee of decency."
"That looks bad, man," says Mercedes, joining the crowd that is gathering around to see Finn's black eye. He shrugs it off.
"Eh, it's not that bad, just annoying," he says. Everyone looks at him skeptically. "Dude, we're footballers, and we don't like each other very much. It's not like he's never done this to me before or anything."
Artie raises an eyebrow. "I thought the secretly liking you was the whole problem?"
Finn sighs heavily, making his way past everyone and slumping down on one of the chairs across the room. "I dunno, man," he mutters, folding his arms over himself. Everyone looks on curiously. "I guess it makes sense... but whatever, right? I mean, he's never done anything that'd make me think..."
No-one's really sure what to say at that point. And then Mr. Schuester comes strolling in.
"Hey guys, so I think we're going to – whoa, Finn," he says, noticing the black eye. "What happened?"
Kurt starts to talk. "There was a–"
"I walked into a door," Finn cuts him off. "A... really weirdly shaped door."
Mr. Schue looks taken aback for a second, but then he nods and walks back to the center of the room. "Anyway, while we're working for this week..."
Once he's gone on for long enough it's appropriate not to pay attention, Kurt leans towards Finn. "Hey, why didn't you...?"
Finn looks uneasy. "Look, this is major drama," he whispers, "I don't want to make things worse."
"Guys?" Mr. Schue interrupts them, but it's obvious he didn't hear exactly what was just said.
Finn looks embarrassed. "Sorry, Mr. Schue."
Rehearsal goes on as normal.
"Hey man, can I give you a ride home?" Puck walks up to Finn and asks. "Since Hummel's off doing... whatever it is he does."
"Shopping, mostly," Finn shrugs. "And sure. I mean, our place isn't that far, but..."
"Get in the car, Hudson," says Puck, and Finn follows him out to said car. They set off.
"So," starts Puck. "Not having a great day, huh? With the getting punched and all."
Finn shrugs. "Guess not. It's Karofsky, dude; punching people is like, his thing."
"True," says Puck. And awkward pause occurs.
"Dude, whatever you need to say, spit it out already," says Finn. Puck sighs.
"I just... Dude, we've been best friends for years, right? I mean, I'm not sure we are now, but the point remains."
Finn blinks. "And...?"
Puck looks really uncomfortable. "And I was just sort of worried, you know, since I was on that list you'd think – you and me, that I always... you know."
"What?" then it clicks into place. "Oh! Oh, no dude. It's cool. I wouldn't just automatically think..."
"I've heard Rachel rant enough to know you don't just assume," Finn explains.
"But she's a chick."
"The principle holds – just because a dude is into other dudes, do not assume he is into this dude," Finn says, and Puck smiles.
"Alright, cool," he says. "You're so not my type, anyway. You're way too tall."
Finn sticks his tongue out.
Will breathes heavily and reaches up for the doorbell. This is it. He needs to do this. No backing out now, Schuester – and the fact this is so difficult for you is just symbolic of your own prejudice, so shut the fuck up already.
He presses. Ring, ring.
After a few seconds the door opens slightly, and he sides wide eyes. "Hey Emma," he says.
The door slams shut again. "Go away, Will!" she shouts. Her voice sounds choked and hoarse.
"Emma, I just want to talk to you!" he knocks on the door, even though he knows she's already there. "We need to talk. Would you please let me in? ...I won't leave until you do, you know."
There is a resigned sigh and the door swings open a tiny bit. "Look, Will. I understand. You're angry I lied to you, and probably disgusted that you ever dated... someone like me," she looks down on the last bit, mumbling ashamedly. "I know all this, Will. You may feel the need to call me out to my face, but I am not ready to hear it, so... Please, Will. Have some sympathy and just leave."
He gapes at her, aghast. "Emma, I'm not mad at you!"
She looks surprised. "You're not?"
"No," he insists. "That would be... Anyway, I came here because I was worried about you. I needed to see if you were alright. You haven't been at school for the last few days."
Emma swings the door open a bit wider, still looking at him with doe-eyes. She looks like she might cry, and Will suddenly feels horrible for making her look like that. He sighs.
"So, can I come in?"
Reluctantly, the door swings open all the way.
"I sometimes wonder when it started, you know, but... it didn't start. It was who I was. Am."
Will takes a sip of his coffee.
"People always said I was a girly looking boy; my interests were distinctly unmasculine too, and... when people would tease me, it just felt so horrible, because I knew if things had occurred right when I wasn't born yet... I wouldn't have gone through that. I would just be a normal girl. Oh god, I'm making it sound like this was just some kind of bizarre response to childhood bullying; it's not that, this was–"
"It's okay, Emma. I–" he doesn't want to insult her by saying he understands. "I know it wouldn't have been just that."
She sighs deeply. "It was... it was like having my body, my entire being out of order, for years. And you know how I feel about things being out of order."
He nods. He wonders if there's anything he can say that will be sensitive in this moment. "So, uh... did your family...?"
"They didn't understand it. They didn't like it. My brother was always trying to make me 'manly'; pushing me into filth and the like. Fun fun fun," she shudders slightly, and Will feels awful for her. "There was a long time with them thinking I was just gay, and trying a really strange way of not being so. There was a lot of talks on how homosexuality is okay, and I didn't need to 'change' to... they actually did mean well, no matter how much it hurt," she's holding back tears as she says this. "But, they loved me. And they saw how unhappy being... like that, made me. So, eventually, they gave me the money to have surgery. It wasn't fun. It wasn't quick. It wasn't easy. But... I think it made my life better. Until now in any case."
"Emma, no-one's going to–"
"Don't lie to me, Will," she cuts him off. "It's Lima, Ohio. You know exactly how the people here will react. Half the reason I won't go back to the school is that I'm not sure it's safe."
He sighs. "Okay."
"You're taking this a lot better than I expected."
He cocks his head to the side. "Did you really expect me to be...?"
"I more or less expect everyone to be awful, Will. Don't take it personally," she says. "I've seen nice, polite people who would never stand for any form of racism or sexism or homophobia, who have no idea what's wrong with making a punchline out of us trannies," she says the slur with so much bitterness, he has to flinch. "You know what a news junkie I am. You think I haven't read stories on women like me being assaulted, or killed for daring to try and have sex like normal people? I mean, that's not the only reason I couldn't... but the fear affected things, I won't lie."
"I would never hurt you," he promises. "God... I am so sorry, that you have to go through this. I've never really thought about... and that's the problem," he says. "God, some part of me is uncomfortable with this, for no reason other than people usually are uncomfortable with it. And I don't know why. That's wrong, and you deserve better."
She smiles softly. "It's okay, Will. Well, maybe it's not okay, but it's not your fault. It's hard to buck the status quo when you've never had any reason to buck the status quo," she says. "You're being a lot better than most people just by being here, trying, and not just thinking of me as a freak."
He nods. "You're not really making me feel less guilty; you're just making me feel more sorry for you."
"I'll get by. I always have," she says. "Anyway, I understand if this means you feel too awkward to try seeing me anymore–"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" he cuts her off.
"I never said I wanted to stop seeing you, Emma," he says. She looks confused.
"I thought it made you uncomfortable–"
"A tiny bit," he explains. "A tiny, horrible, prejudiced bit that I'm hoping will just starve to death now, because you deserve so much better than that sort of lingering transphobia. Emma, I love you. I always have. And this? Doesn't change that. It doesn't change anything. You're the woman I want," he concludes with a small, hopeful smile.
She nods. "Thank you."
They drink the rest of their coffee in silence.