Rachel's been in New York for a few months before she gets homesick.
There's no point in telling herself that it's a temporary thing, or that it will go away if she goes to a Broadway show, or goes shopping in the West Village, because whenever she thinks about her bedroom and her dads she gets this kind of sick feeling low in her stomach, and that's how she ends up back in Ohio for winter break.
She thinks about doing things, meeting up with other people from the glee club, but mostly she sits in her pajamas and watches old movies. Her roommate calls her from Colorado and invites her to join them for skiing; Rachel respectfully declines: "it is very nice of you to offer, but I find myself wrapped up in social events here in Lima," she says, and her roommate ignores the lie and says she'll see Rachel once school starts up again, which Rachel thinks is also very nice of her.
It isn't that she doesn't like New York, or NYU, but she just can't get over that feeling in her stomach even though she's home now, she's sitting in her childhood bedroom in pajamas she hasn't worn since she was fifteen.
Her dads don't put up with her moping for what they see as no reason at all though, and one morning they wake her up and make her go out and experience the world.
She puts on jeans and an NYU sweatshirt, because no one dresses the way she used to in New York, and goes to the coffee shop with her laptop so she can read the paper online with hot chocolate.
It's surprisingly crowded, and she sees a lot of people she didn't expect to see there, mostly from the JCC- she sees Puck's mom and little sister, who talk to her about school and tell her she looks all grown up and not like the Rachel she used to be, she sees some people who went to McKinley and they all talk about school for a little bit in this ultra-polite, over-stylized way that's just weird.
Finally she puts on headphones and turns her iPod on so she can read stuff on the internet in relative isolation in public, which is why she totally doesn't notice when someone sits across from her.
She notices when she looks up though, and there's Mr. Schue with this giant grin on his face. She takes off her headphones and smiles a little back, because of everyone who has bombarded her in the past while he seems the only one who is genuinely happy to see her. Besides Puck's mom, anyways.
Rachel giggles a little bit at his goofy smile, but in all honesty he's as good looking as ever. "Hi," she says, and then because she needs something else to say, "Happy Holidays."
"You too," he says, looking her over, noting the absence of skirt and knee socks. "How's it been going, Rachel?"
"Okay," she says. "School has been great."
"Visiting your dads for the holidays?"
"Technically the High Holidays are over with, and Hanukkah isn't really as big for Jews as Christmas is for Christmas is for Christians but yes, yes I am."
Will grins again, because here she is folks, Rachel Berry, just like he remembered.
"Right, right," he says. "No Hanukkah bush for you guys?"
Rachel rolls her eyes. "No, because Hanukkah isn't a substitute for Christmas-"
"It was a joke, Rach," and she looks up.
"Oh," she says, her mouth pink and the bottom lip indented with teeth marks, and isn't it weird that he notices this. "Of course. My apologies, Mr. Shue."
He shrugs. "You know, you're not my student anymore Rachel. It's perfectly fine for you to call me Will."
"Will. Right." The way she says it is tentative and a little bit halting as she tries out the words in relation to him. "Of course."
It's then that her phone buzzes; it's her parents wanting to know if she can go to grocery store for them. Rachel's eyes flick up from the screen apologetically, big dark eyes peering out from under darker lashes to examine his face. "I need to go," she says. "But it was really nice seeing you, Mr. Shue- Will."
"Likewise- hey," Will pauses, hit by an idea. "Why don't you meet me later for dinner tonight or something, tell me about school? And I can tell you how the current glee kids pale in comparison to you guys."
Rachel laughs at that, but- "yes, that would be nice. Should we make arrangements now or later?" and they exchange phone numbers because she got a new phone and calling plan once she went to school, and they set the time and place.
Rachel walks out to her car with her laptop under her arm and seriously, this has been one of the most college-y experiences she's had since September.
The big mistake he makes about dinner is the restaurant. Because basically all the restaurants around the holidays pretty much assume that anyone going out to eat is on a date, and so they compensate with dimmed lighting and candles on the table and the making of a general romantic atmosphere. And when you're meeting your ex-student for a friendly dinner, this is not a very good thing. But he made a reservations and Rachel's going to show up and by god he will stop thinking about how well those jeans fit her ass.
The truth is that this isn't the first time he's thought about her this way, and it isn't the first time that he's thought of any of his students this way. He isn't blind and he is a man, and he's noticed something about most of them. Rachel in particular, or maybe it's because now he's seeing her out of McKinley and in a whole different context, but the difference before is that he could have never, never acted on his thoughts.
She gets there a little bit after he does and the waitress shows her to the table, bringing them water and bread. She's wearing dark jeans and a navy sweater and once again he thinks about how good she looks, and how they probably just should have met for lunch at some diner instead.
"I'm sorry about the atmosphere, I didn't know it was going to be like this," he waves his hand vaguely and Rachel smiles.
"I don't mind," she says. "It is very warm in here though, don't you think. I think it's fairly ridiculous to have the heat on such a high level and then have candles, and if the heat was a little bit lower the establishment would be using far less energy, so-" as she's talking she's also unbuttoning the sweater, and jesus he can see skin now, her collarbones and a hint of cleavage underneath.
"Well, it's good to see you again," Will says, going for joviality. "How's NYU?"
NYU, it turns out, is wonderful. Rachel has teachers she loves, and one of them told her that she had real star power, and she got a good monologue to read in one of her classes, the rest of it was interesting, she loved New York and her roommate was great, and Will just can't stop staring at her mouth. Her lips are a little chapped and she's put on some kind of glossy lip balm and there are so many things wrong with him that he should stop counting.
Rachel pauses. "I"m sorry, am I doing something wrong? Am I boring you with my conversation, because I would be happy to change the topic, for example I would love to know how your professional life is currently going."
Because Mr. Schuester- Will, right, she has to remember that because she can totally call him that now, he's acting kind of weird.
"No, no, carry on," he says, but it takes him a minute and he seems more than a little distracted. She purses her lips and watches his eyes flick between the o shape of them and her cleavage as she leans towards him and oh. Oh, oh, and oh, because while Rachel Berry is many things she is not necessarily a seductress, but she realizes the effect she's having on him all the same and forget feeling college-y, this is definitely the most grown up she's felt, possibly ever.
She examines him for a minute. It hasn't even been six months, and he definitely looks the same. He's very attractive, but he's always been very attractive. Maybe it's just the dim light in the restaurant that's making her look at him like this.
You're an adult now, she reminds herself. Besides, she can see a little bit of chest hair in the v his shirt makes, and she's interested in checking that out further.
"Drinks?" the waitress asks, interrupting them from their mutual inspections, or whatever that moment had been.
"Water," Rachel says after a moment, and she doesn't know if she expects Will to order a drink, to ask for a glass of wine or something but he asks for water as well.
The rest of the meal is odd, and so is the conversation. There are always these lulls that keep coming up and she can feel his eyes on her, leaving searing marks on her skin, touching her. It's weird, but it also replaces that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach with something more akin to a slow burn.
The bill comes and he pays for it, not even letting her protest or attempt to compromise on half.
They go outside and yeah, there's a chill in the air but Rachel lingers and Will lingers with her, because there could be so much more to talk about, maybe.
"I, um," he fidgets with his car keys. "Do you have somewhere to be?"
She shakes her head. "No. Dad and Daddy are spending the weekend in Cincinnati and left at noon, so I will probably go home and watch a movie by myself."
Will can't believe he's saying this, but that o shape of her mouth won't get out of his head, or the expanse of skin, or the way she crossed her legs even though she was wearing jeans and heeled boots, so he just blurts it out. "You could come over, if you'd like."
"I would like that very much," Rachel says.
She follows him in her car because there's no sense in leaving it in some parking lot. Her back is straight and stiff the entire time she drives, which she does as carefully as she can.
This should be a very bad idea, she thinks. She shouldn't have said she would go over to his apartment, because she knows what that means.
You're not in high school anymore, she tells herself. You're a legal adult and he isn't your teacher or your group leader or anything besides someone you know and someone you find very attractive. And there's the other voice inside her that comments that it isn't like she's some sheltered virginal girl at all, so there's no point in thinking like one.
She parks and meets him by the doorway. He fumbles with the keys a little bit, and it takes him two tries to open the lock.
Rachel doesn't say anything, but Will can feel her looking at him and her eyes are big in a way that says something other than naiveté.
"Come in," he says, and flicks on the light switch. The door opens into the kitchen, which is messy but not too messy, there's some sheet music and a magazine on the main table. Rachel takes a purposeful step inside, her boot heels clicking on the linoleum.
He follows her, hands stuck in his pockets.
There's a moment of silence and then she breaks it.
"May I have a drink?"
"A drink?" he repeats.
"Yes. I have had alcohol before, as I have both been to parties and am also in college."
"Right," Will shakes his head a little to clear it. "I don't have any wine, but I could make you a gin and tonic or something..."
"That's good," Rachel says and smiles. He fixes her the drink, pouring the gin over the ice and wonders if he should be talking maybe, but at least he's got something to do with his hands. He makes himself a drink too, tips some extra gin into it, more than he gave her.
Rachel picks up the glass and sips. Her lips leave a red stain on the glass, the shape of them pressed onto the clear material. She looks at him and she's got her tongue in between her teeth, peeking out between parted lips and all of the blood drains straight out of his head and heads south.
She used to be his student, goddamnit, but she's also graduated and eighteen and in his kitchen right now looking like someone who's entirely an adult.
"Rachel-" he's not sure what he needs to say.
"You don't need to say anything, Will." She walks over to him, her heels still clacking on the linoleum. They've got to be high because suddenly she's right underneath him and she isn't some little poppet anymore. Not that she ever was, because this is Rachel Berry and she's always been formidable, but maybe she's just empowered by the height she's gotten. "Unless I am severely misreading signals, you're very attracted to me right now. And I find myself very attracted to you as well."
"Rachel, god, I used to be your teacher."
"But you're not anymore." She says, and reaches up and kisses him.
Holy jesus fuck, Will thinks, because her mouth is warm and wet and insistent against his. He brings his hands up to cup her face, slides his left hand into her hair and wraps it around his fingers, tugs. She squeaks against his mouth.
Rachel moans a little, and the slow burn in her stomach intensifies.
They part, panting a little, and he speaks: "jesus, Rach," he says.
"You don't have to talk," she responds. "Okay?"
"I think we're fine with not talking," Will responds and brings his lips down to hers, but this time her hands move from her sides to start playing with the buttons on his shirt, and because if she's going to do that it's only fair he does the same, so he helps her out of her cardigan.
His shirt is loose and open on his frame and she drags her finger down, down his chest and over his abs to circle around his navel. He doesn't bother with her camisole but cups a breast and rubs his thumb over her nipple; she can feel it through two thin layers of fabric and she shivers.
He brings her into his bedroom, carrying her as she hooks her legs around his hips. His bed is unmade and his sheets are a mess, but she pulls off her shirt and her bra, and then her jeans go and her underwear and god, he breathes in sharply and tries to catch up.
After they're done Will trails his fingers across her arm and looks at her, naked on his bed, her cheeks red and her chest rising and falling, all because of him.
"This wasn't a mistake," Rachel says. "I am very glad this is how the evening ended."
"Rachel," he says.
She turns to face him. "Yes?"
"What makes you think the evening's over? The night's just begun." It's a cliché, it's such a cliché, but he really doesn't give a shit because Rachel straddling him again and her breasts are within his reach, and she's right here in his bed, for the moment all his. There are things Will wants to say but he can't, because in a couple of weeks she's going to go back to New York and he won't see her until she decides to visit her parents again, but he can't say them at all so he shows her with his mouth, his hands, with his body until she's gasping for breath.
He makes her breakfast in the morning.