A/N: So, this is part of the Expect The Unexpected series I'm working on, which is, frankly, exactly what it sounds like. As part of my everlasting quest to defy any and all possible cliches, something completely unfathomable occurs with one member of the Glee club in each fic of the series. The goal? To have each character (even Matt and Mike, poor underfed pups) so far out of their league, but still remain in character. This is installment number eight, but none of them are connected plot-wise, so there aren't any prequels you have to read for any of them. Some will be tragic, some scary, some mysterious, some humorous. Enough jabber - please enjoy!
Somewhere Under The Rainbow
William Schuester, age forty-four, was not a man who believed in things such as fate or destiny. It took a lot for him to even wonder if God existed – he always had more pressing things to be thinking about rather than debating religion and the laws of the metaphysical. He was a simple guy, more concerned with down-to-earth issues. Had he believed in fate and destiny and all the crap that came with it, he might have woken up on the morning of his death with some sort of premonition that it was his last day among the living. But he didn't.
He was in New York City at the time, chaperoning a field trip for the Glee club he ran at his school to compete at the National High School Show Choir Competition (and wasn't that a mouthful?). They were all staying at a somewhat-shitty hotel ten blocks away from the auditorium the competition was being held at, and the day before the tournament the whole group had gone out for pre-performance ice cream to celebrate what they were sure was going to be a win. Will's Glee club had never won Nationals, but they'd always managed to show every year.
So, as he and the fifteen students in his charge walked along the sidewalk, eating their ice cream, they were blissfully unaware of the fact that Will had an appointment with destiny very shortly. And fateful schedules are always on time.
Will came within an inch of dunking his nose into his ice cream cup when a man passing by accidentally bumped rather violently into him. "Oh, excuse me, William," the man said, brushing by.
"No problem," Will replied. Then he stopped short, turning around. "Wait, how did you—?" But the man was gone without a trace. "Huh."
Figuring that he must have misheard the guy, Will shrugged it off and turned to continue along his merry way, but he suddenly had a nagging feeling that he was being watched, and he caught sight of a young brunette standing at the nearby bus stop, staring at him with a strange look on her face. Hoping she was just staring into space and not actually at him, he jogged to catch up with his students, who had crossed the street while he was occupied and were waiting for him in front of the hotel. Unfortunately for him, a city bus was traveling a path perpendicular to his, and the crunch that resounded upon impact was rather spectacular. The police would later say that he flew nearly ten feet before landing on the pavement. Which was impressive.
Now, however, Will was shocked to find himself standing back on the sidewalk, watching as his students shrieked and random passersby gathered in the middle of the road, the bus driver climbing out and staring stunned at the ground. "What the hell just happened?" he muttered to himself.
"I believe you were hit by a bus," said a girl's voice to his left, causing him to jump back in surprise.
He recognized that sharp, overly-cheery voice. And when he stepped back to see who had spoken, he also recognized the person the voice was attached to. "Don't worry, everyone is confused at first," she said with an award-winning smile.
"Rachel, what are you doing here?"
"I'm here for you."
She gestured pointedly at the crowd of people gathered in the streets. Will suddenly had an unpleasant, twisting sensation in the pit of his stomach, and he edged closer to the knot of people. He wasn't sure why, but his heart had begun pounding against the inside of his ribcage. As he drew closer, a woman peeled herself out of the crowd to dial 911 (even though there were at least ten other people already doing so), leaving a gap in the circle surrounding the accident victim.
It was – at the very least – surreal for Will to see himself lying sprawled on the pavement, his limbs bent at odd angles and blood seeping out of his mouth, eyes staring blankly up at the sky. He froze the second he recognized himself, his heart pounding even harder almost to the point of pain. Tearing his eyes away from his body lying on the pavement, he ran over to Shelley, the ditzy blonde Glee captain who was staring at the blood trickling slowly onto the street with her hands clapped over her mouth, and tried to get her attention.
"Shelley, what the hell just happened?" She either didn't hear him or she ignored him, and Will reached out to grab her shoulder.
And his arm went through her.
He let out a yell of surprise and yanked his arm back and, giving it a shake, turned it back and forth to inspect it. It certainly looked solid. He reached for Shelley's shoulder again, and his hand vanished with a tiny puff of green-ish dust. It reappeared as soon as he withdrew it, shaking. He waved it in front of Shelley's face, but she took no notice.
"Mr. Schuester!" called Rachel's voice from behind him. She'd followed him across the street.
He whipped around. "Rachel, what the hell is going on? Why can't she see me?"
Well, that was a simple answer.
Will wasn't sure which was more disturbing – the fact that he could stick his arm through his student's head or the fact that Rachel was telling him he was dead like it was no big deal. "This isn't happening," he muttered, wringing his hands and pacing. "This – this can't be happening. This is some sort of elaborate prank—"
"It's not a prank, Mr. Schuester, you really are dead," she said, sounding just slightly exasperated.
Well, excuse me, he thought, too freaked out to actually snap at her. But…if he could wave his arm and go through things…then that meant she was telling him the truth. Right? Suddenly, he felt pissed.
"Well, why me?" he demanded. "Dammit, why now? I have fifteen kids I have to take care of!" He gestured to where the current Glee club generation was huddled on the sidewalk, half of them sobbing and half of them just standing in shock.
"WMHS always requires two chaperones," Rachel stated. "I went there too, remember? Your colleague will manage just fine."
"This isn't fair!" Will insisted.
"Mr. Schuester," she interrupted sternly. "I am not the one who decides who lives or dies."
He stopped short, realizing for the first time that she could see him just fine (took him long enough). "Wait…why am I invisible to everyone but you?" Suddenly, it hit him. "Holy… Are you dead?"
"Theater accident three years ago," she said with total nonchalance. "A spotlight fell on me; it was really quite tragic. Now, what do you say we get out of here? There's a diner about two blocks from here, they make lovely pies—"
"No, I don't want to go out to lunch!" he snapped. "I want to know what the hell I'm supposed to do now!"
"Mr. Schue, if you would just relax for a moment—"
"And why are you acting like this is no big thing!" he cried.
Rachel shut her mouth for a moment before answering, "It's my job."
"Mr. Schuester, I'm a Grim Reaper."
A/N: Please leave a review and tell me what you think of it. This installment was inspired by Dead Like Me, which is a FANTASTIC show and you should all go rent it right now. If you enjoyed the first chapter and are interested in the concept of this series, add me to Author Alert to be notified when the other installments in the series are posted. So far, Brittany's, Santana's, Tina's, Kurt's, Mercedes', Artie's, and Puck's are posted - please check them out.