Disclaimer: I do not own Glee. I also do not own the thoughts of Sue Sylvester, none of the opinions expressed below are my own.
Sue Sylvester knew how to read people.
You have to, she told herself, if your main goal was to make their life a living hell. You needed to know what got to them, what they were afraid of, what they most desperately wanted and what they were hiding.
Take Rachel Berry for instance. She glanced over at the girl who was currently flashing her look-at-me-I'm-a-total-diva million watt smile. The girl was so terrified of being unnoticed and forgotten that she shoved her talent in everybody's faces until they had no choice but to notice her. She had it in her to make it big, but she was overlooked because of her obnoxious personality and bad fashion sense.
She was also letting something so small and trivial hold her back - a boy. Finn Hudson, whose greatest achievement in life would probably be to learn to spell his own name (honestly, how that boy had made it to high school was a complete mystery), was the reason this diva wasn't off at one of the finest arts academys in New York or somewhere schmantzy like that. And although the girl's normal voice sounded like a cat being dragged across a chalkboard in front of an amplifier, her singing voice was actually something that the rest of the world could benefit from hearing. She was not destined to be a small-town nobody.
Now Quinn Fabray, that was a small town girl if she'd ever seen one. Sue spared a glanced for the girl who was alternating between looking horrified and sneaking peeks at her supposed boyfriend, of course the idiotic Hudson. The boy could barely tie his shoes without having an anuerism (and heaven forbid someone actually try and explain the meaning of that word to him), how did he manage to have TWO girls pining after him?
Quinn wasn't destined for anything big in life, nor did she want it. Her fear was being outside her comfort zone and while she may have loosened up since joining the ranks of knocked up teens, her heart was still set on security. She dreamed of marrying the star quarterback and living in Ohio with 2.5 children and a dog, and we all know how well that turned out for the last vest-wearing, hair-gel obsessed high school couple. But what Quinn wants, Quinn gets and Sue knew that the dunderhead was usually willing to jump through hoops to give her whatever her pretty little head decided on.
Although, judging by the looks he'd been giving the resident walking fashion crime (reindeer sweaters? Sue had almost slushied the girl herself that day), he may be finally growing a brain cell or two and realizing what was best for him. Because Finn needed to grow and to actually do that, he needed someone beside him to give him a push, shove or walk him off the nearest cliff into a better life.
Yes, Sue knew a lot about people, and about these Glee kids in particular. So why them?
To be good at reading people, one needs to learn how people hide things. They wear masks, put up walls, create personas. Working in a testosterone and estrogen filled prison otherwise known as high school, Sue had seen every method in play and knew how to pick them. Some might call her an expert, if they knew that was what she did. But nobody knew a thing that went on inside her rather insane mind.
As someone who was very good at reading people, Sue Sylvester knew how to make sure nobody knew her.
It was an art that had taken many years to perfect, but she could be sure that nobody was seeing anything she didn't want on display. To the McKinley High student body, Sue was a tyrant, a bully and lived to torment them and make their lives miserable. Not only was Sue completely aware that this was the image she portrayed, she made damn sure that this was the only Sue that the kids saw. Nobody got to go meddling in her life, or, heaven forbid, get close to her.
Because if someone were to get close to Sue Sylvester, they may find that she is a far cry from the woman she projects.
Oh, of course she was aware that if she were nice, she'd have some friends. She knew that she'd alienated herself from almost everybody who could possibly mean something to her. But she also seemed to grasp a truth that nobody else in this stupid naive little high school could understand - the importance of the bully.
This place needs her. It needs her cruelty, her sarcastic wit, her bluntness. Because while the school may be a prison, it's also a shelter. Those kids have no expectations except to show up for class and pretend to be awake. They can prance around with their stupid stereotypes and pretend that some of them mean more than others, when the truth is that none of them mean anything at all. They were all still trapped in the idea that being good at sport meant that they would have an easy life, while being a singer meant scorn and failure.
The outside world was much crueler than any school could be. Sure, bullying was rampant in McKinley. But come graduation and bullying was going to take a whole new level. Life wasn't easy and these kids would find out the hard way if their school was all sunshine and roses.
They needed a tyrant. Someone who hated them for no reason. Someone who would treat them badly and who they couldn't defend themselves against by telling a teacher or getting them expelled. Someone who was going to be there no matter what to make their life hell. They needed to know how to handle unfair treatment because life was unfair.
If she told someone that she had the best interests of these kids at heart, she would be laughed right out of a job. Especially her fellow staff members, who seemed to have grown up in a bed of daisies and were determined to make sure that their pupils ended up the same way.
Sue knew pain first hand. Sure, she was an athlete when she was in high school. She also had a disabled sister who her parents made her look out for when they went to school together, until the taunting got too much and Jean was pulled out of school. Her parents never realized how much Sue had to cop for simply being related to Jean. High school was hell for one Sue Sylvester.
But when she left, she was the only one who was strong. She knew how to handle life and make sure it couldn't drag her down. She built her way up, using her I-don't-give-a-damn attitude to make a name for herself as one of the best cheer coaches that America had seen. She had the world at her feet and could have gone anywhere. And for some reason that nobody who was a somebody could ever grasp, she went back to high school. While she wasn't on the level of a lowly gym teacher, she had sunk into the depths of the public school system and had essentially resigned herself to becoming a middling sort-of-somebody. To this day, nobody knew why she did what she did.
Sue wanted to look at the Glee club but knew how suspicious it would be considering they were all staring at her. So she continued to think as the pandemonium raged on around her. It was where she thought best, in a world of chaos.
Of course, it all began with that stupid Glee club. She had know Schuester when he was the star of her grade's club. She watched their idiotic director, Thompson, shelter and moddycoddle the kids in their club, pumping them up for victory then practically licking their wounds for them when they ultimately failed. She watched Schuester turn around and walk straight back into that school and sign up to teach Spanish. And she just knew, knew deep down in her gut, that he would end up coaching that Glee club again. And the cycle would renew - another generation of pampered teenagers who were trained to believe that the world would bow before them if they were talented enough.
Sue couldn't watch that ship sink again. Three of the seventeen members of her class Glee club had committed suicide within two years of graduation. The rest had settled into their low-level jobs and given up on all dreams of stardom and fame, living with a perpetual cloud of misery hanging over their heads for the rest of their sorry lives.
These kids needed to know that the lives they wanted were possible, but they wouldn't just be handed to them. They needed to know the enemies they would face in the future, and they needed to know how to fight.
The attacks against each of the kids was definitely personal. The jocks needed to make the choice between easy and right and to keep being reminded of what they had given up. Slushies to the face always showed them that they were losers in the hierachy of school. One day it would show them that they were winners in the game of life. The cheerleaders needed their best friends turned against them to know that it was a dog-eat-dog world. The divas needed their fierce competition to keep them striving for the top. The background swayers needed to see that they were important too (Sue reminisced of her brief stint of actually separating the Glee club - minorities versus Schuesters Stars. And though it never worked out for her, some of those kids started beginning to make their voices known from that day).
Every little thing that appeared to bring out a chink in the armour of Glee was actually strengthening each individual member for the world outside. Every dig, every taunt, every win that Sue got on them was all building within them to make them strong. And any time one of them bounced back, stopped dieting, quit the cheer squad or football team, made their voice heard again - this was their own victory.
Sue had wondered if they would ever understand. The diva-off, designed to allow Rachel and Mercedes to appreciate each other's voices and their own too. Making sure the club couldn't perform Sing at Regionals so they would finally listen to chipmunk and write their own songs. Becoming the director of Aural Intensity and giving them crappy suck-up songs so that they could at least knock one team out of the competition (Sue still had a soft spot for her Porcelain. If he and his 'we-swear-we're-just-a-gay-accepting-school-even-if-we-all-act-like-a-bunch-of-queers' school ended up winning, then they might just be worthy of it). All apparently done out of hatred. Would it be enough to make them victorious, not only over the competition but their own demons?
"All of the dirt you've been throwing my way,
It 'aint so hard to take,"
Sue quirked an eyebrow. Had they finally got it?
Watching that entire group voluntarily proclaim that they were losers and they knew that the world would want to be them, she knew that was it. Jocks and nerds, cheerleaders and divas, dunderheads and whores, fat and thin, popular and hated. All together, all realizing that nobody was higher than each other. Her message had finally come across.
When she watched them hoist that trophy, Sue had actually had to fight to keep a smile from crossing her face. She watched Will Schuester look at her with a knowing smile - out of all the people she had terrorized, he was the closest to figuring her out and thought he actually did understand her. Time to change that.
As Sue stood over the body of the Govener General's wife with her fist still stinging from impact and the yells for security mixed with screams from various Glee clubs echoing in her ears, she finally allowed herself that smile.
Sue Sylvester could never be understood. Nobody could pin her down or make sense of her. And that was the way she liked it, and the way everybody else needed it.
After all, Nationals was just around the corner and those kids were looking a bit too proud of themselves...
A/N: Thanks for reading! Please review and let me know what you thought and how I can improve :)