(Author's note: This story sprang from the Donutverse subplot of Brad Ellis and his two wives, and wondering what it was like when he and Will Schuester were best friends as kids. My cowriter and fantastic plotter knittycat99 and I decided that they went to the same performing arts camp together (Baldwin-Wallace) every summer starting in fourth grade. That's where Will met his friend Toby. And the rest is (over 30,000 words of) history.
There's a picspam of Will and Toby, for those of you who are visual like me (with the part of Toby played by the delicious Dave Annable): http:/ farm7. static. flickr. com/6061/6110704201_71c680b5a0_
And, if you want to fully immerse yourself in the pool of Will/Toby angst, you'll want to listen to the excellent playlist: http:/ www. mediafire. com/?o5bffuyn5ztvnk2
Please enjoy! -amy and knittycat99)
Chapter One: 2009 - 31 years old - Lima, OH
Will was lonely much of the time, but he didn't let himself really go there until the lights were out and he'd had at least two fingers of scotch, and the house was still and quiet. He could sit on the couch, when things were like this, and almost feel Toby's hand on his leg. It didn't even hurt too much to have to wait for that. He knew he'd feel it again as soon as they could arrange another weekend.
Now that Terri was gone, it was easier to find time to wallow in the loneliness. She'd always filled the space with her chatter, her energy and her Pottery Barn kitsch. Without her around, there was just so much more room for silence. Will filled it with memories of Toby.
He knew Toby would be a dancer before Toby did. That's often the way it was with them: Will would understand Toby, and Toby would understand Will, even when they couldn't see their own truths. He could see dancing was part of Toby, as natural as breathing, as much a part of him as his walnut-brown hair, or his mild Kentucky accent, or his quick temper, or the tiny scar behind his right ear. Toby needed to dance every day, even more than he needed to eat breakfast or brush his teeth. If he didn't, Will knew he would get antsy and distractable, his eyes straying from their conversation, his attention a mile away. Then Will would take him by the hand and walk him downstairs to the studio with a bottle of water and a towel, and kiss him firmly, and go read a book or nap for an hour. Will didn't mind these little siestas because he knew that Toby would come out of them with renewed energy for everything they did together – that, plus then he had an excuse to take Toby into the shower and wash his incredible body.
Will discovered the scar the first time he kissed Toby's neck, on the last day of eighth grade music camp. They didn't talk for almost a year after that, but when Will saw him again, the first thing he did was to look for the scar. Seeing it was really there, after that year of wondering if he'd imagined the whole thing, almost scared him more than kissing Toby again.
Will could close his eyes and map each part of Toby in his head. His expressive brown eyes were usually full of mischief and quiet good humor, and he had dynamic eyebrows that could show every part of his feelings or mask them entirely. His dark hair was usually short, but sometimes Toby would forget and grow it out long enough to fringe his face. It would get spiky with sweat from a rigorous game of racquetball or a dance rehearsal or frenzied coupling in Will's hotel room. Now the brown was dusted with grey, but his face still looked as young to Will as it had when they'd been at Baldwin-Wallace together.
Toby was the last of their BW music camp friends to start growing facial hair in tenth grade, and he refused to shave it clean until well into college, when a director demanded he wear his baby face for the part he was playing. It threw Will the first time he saw Toby shave his scruffy beard, standing shirtless before the mirror in Toby's upstairs bathroom, slowly scraping the stubble and shaving cream away to reveal the white skin of his narrow jaw. Will almost didn't recognize him. The skin felt unbelievably smooth against the inside of his thighs, though, which was a benefit he hadn't considered until then, but after that Toby would often shave his face before coming to pick him up at the airport. It became one of their many inside jokes: Will knew what Toby was thinking about doing to him when he saw Toby standing in the terminal with a clean shave and a teasing smile.
Toby had a sweet yellow lab-retriever mix named Annie, a runty little dog who would sit under the table waiting until Will got up to feed her in the morning. He had no idea what Annie did on the rest of the three hundred and thirty-six days of the year, when Toby was there by himself and didn't get up for work until well after noon, but she apparently had a bladder of steel because even on those days when they slept in a little (Will couldn't stay in bed later than 8:30), she stayed under that table until Will got her a scoop of kibble and located her leash to take her for a walk. Then she would dance around and lick his face and wag her tail, stepping lightly down the sidewalk for Will as though he were her owner. He never would have told Toby this, but Annie reminded him a little of Toby when he was excited, bouncing on his toes and talking a mile a minute.
Toby's voice had always been a source of frustration for him. The kids teased him for his high speaking voice, even back in elementary school when they all had high voices. It had a light breathy quality, and a certain fabulousness that marked Toby early for a career in musical theater, and he'd never been able to curb a tendency to giggle when he was nervous. Because he was witty, it was usually easy for him to accept any teasing with reasonable aplomb, to make it into a joke that everyone could laugh at. Nor was Toby generally given to excessive displays of emotion – a quality he joked was just about the only factor that took him out of the running for Most Stereotypical Gay Man. Yet Will could still sense that his voice bothered him, even long after he had left the daily ribbing of schoolmates behind.
Toby had a comfortable tenor singing range, and his voice was melodic but unremarkable, without any of Will's power or control. Will was a vocal snob; he knew it - and so he couldn't explain why the sound of Toby singing in the shower or along with his iPod always reduced him to a slumped, quivering mess. Toby always insisted on singing happy birthday to him over the phone on his birthday, and on those years when he did it when Will was at work, he usually had to go home early and blame his streaming eyes on spring allergies. When Will had a bad day at work, or back when his marriage was particularly trying, Will would call Toby and just listen to him talk, relaxing into the sweet tones mixed with cutting humor.
Toby's sense of humor would send Will into paroxysms of laughter, in a way that no one else could do for him. Something about the way his eyebrows and his lips moved in perpendicular motion just made him crack up. And then Toby would stop, and fix him with his stare, and Will's stomach would turn over and he'd have to make a joke just to keep from panicking. It wasn't a feeling Will was used to having, being out of control like that, and he didn't really care for it. It didn't keep him from wanting to be with Toby, but he could only take a few days of it before he would need to get back on the plane to Lima.
In the summer, Will would sometimes book a ticket to fly to the city where Toby was performing. He'd done this more than once; more than ten times. Maybe, say, two dozen times. He'd get a ticket for the balcony and sit by himself, in his second-best tux, and watch Toby dance, through his opera glasses. Toby was magnificent, of course, and watching him without Toby even knowing he was in the audience did something to him, made him crazy hard, like he was sixteen again and they were flirting with each other in the auditorium, performing for each other. Will would go back to his hotel room and jack off to thoughts of Toby's strong legs, his shoulders, his remarkable poise and control, and on those occasions he didn't even feel guilty about doing it, it was just so necessary. He'd fly home the next day, and no one would know he'd been gone.
Sometimes, on these nights while thinking of Toby, Will would stop after two fingers of scotch, and on those nights he would go to bed early, his memories carrying into dreams, usually good ones. Other times he would indulge in rather more than that, and on those days he would be certain to turn off his cell phone and hide it from himself, to avoid any instances of drunk dialing. If he accidentally called someone from school and said something that indicated who he'd really been trying to call, he'd be in a very different state.
Because no matter how many times Toby offered to come visit, Will always found an excuse, always managed to redirect things back to Toby's home in Denver or a lovely vacation destination, far away from Lima. Because Will's life in Lima and Will's life with Toby were not going to touch; never had and never would. Because Will was straight, after all, and nothing was going to change that.