Been toying with this idea for a bit - see what you think.
As the evening of the 15-year reunion came round Will find himself dealing with mixed feelings about the whole event. He was excited at the thought of seeing students who had long since graduated and finding out what they'd done with their lives. He'd be able to share how little he'd done with his, still teaching Spanish, possibly with even less enthusiasm now than he did 15 years ago and running the Glee club although the Nationals Championship win was now quite a distant memory. On the other hand he couldn't help but feel apprehensive about meeting up with Rachel Berry, or rather more accurately, Quinn Fabray after all this time. The fact that Broadway sensation and EGOT holder Rachel Barbra Berry (or Berry-Fabray as she was legally now) and Quinn Berry-Fabray were actually going to attend the event was known only to a select few but as his wife Emma was on the committee organising the reunion she had been too excited not to share the news with him.
He'd had such high hopes when he'd taken over the Glee club all those years ago – partly a wish to recreate his Glee club glory years from when he was a student and partly to try and deal with his own sense of failure at not even trying to make it on Broadway - choosing instead the safe option of returning to his hometown with his high school girlfriend turned wife (turned ex-wife) and teaching. He used to perform with his students in the early days – the idea now caused him embarrassment – was he really that oblivious to how inappropriate that was or was the need to perform just too strong to resist? Local community theatre now provided the outlet for that particular need and common sense about personal dignity now prevented him now taking the stage with a bunch of teenagers. He wasn't even going to think about his early fascination with rapping in an attempt to be 'down with the kids' – so not going there.
By far his biggest mistake in his entire teaching career had been his treatment of Rachel Berry. When that driven, extremely talented and obviously destined for great things girl had thrown herself whole heartedly and enthusiastically into what was at that time an incredibly unpopular Glee club he had been – well, less than encouraging. Looking back from the wisdom of experience he'd put it down to envy on his part although it was all a bit more complicated than that of course. She hadn't exactly been appreciative of him and his efforts and he'd rather disliked the influence she 'd wielded however briefly over Finn. Although to be perfectly blunt she just didn't fit his image of what a highly talented student should look and behave like.
Will leaned back on his chair so that his eyes drifted to the photo of the first members of his Glee Club on the wall in front of him. That quiet Asian girl, who's name always eluded him, was scowling at the camera; next to her was an equally unhappy looking Mercedes – now there was a student who exemplified the word diva and yet never really got called on it. He wondered whether she was currently earning a living singing. His eyes moved on to a haughty looking Kurt, who was currently working in Fashion if Finn was to be believed. Finn was staring at the camera a half smile on his face – which was as about as much happiness as he could convey facially. He'd had high hopes for Finn getting out of Lima – perhaps a little blinded by thinking Finn was a lot like him at that age. In fact Finn turned out to be more like him than he realised, ending up working in a dead end job stuck in Lima just like he had. Quinn, Santana and Brittany were standing in a group slightly apart from the rest of the group. All three stood feet astride, arms crossed and glaring at the camera. Finally his eyes rested on the beaming smile of Rachel, the same smile that was to become famous from being splashed across magazine and album covers, billboards and TV screens.
Glee club had almost failed before it started but Rachel had persuaded her peers, mostly through dogged persistence, to perform a song of a group she knew he held in high regard. Finn had admitted years later that Rachel had had them performing 'Don't stop believing" over and over again in the auditorium in the hope of him overhearing them. Realising how hard Rachel had worked to try and make him see that the Glee club had potential and realising how thankless he had been about it made him feel even guiltier. Mind you Rachel had always had more influence than he appreciated. He could now see the humour in the Glee Club performing 'Push It' to an initially noisy then stunned into silence entire school audience. He'd been livid and held Rachel totally responsible for the embarrassment it had caused him, never mind the material for quips at his expense it had given Sue Sylvester. He only later came to appreciate that with that one performance Glee Club had gained high visibility through out the school as well as a few extra members and Sue Sylvester's paranoid need to send in spies had enabled the Club to survive. He could never quite decide whether Rachel had been aware of all the possible outcomes of her actions when she took them or whether it had all been a happy coincidence.
Rachel's less than subtle pursuit of the Cheerio Captain's boyfriend had ensured Quinn Fabray never missed a Glee Club rehearsal and that had meant Brittany and Santana were there too as Quinn 's power was partly gained through safety in numbers. Or at least that's what he'd originally thought but why would the most popular girl in the school need to keep an eye on her Quarterback boyfriend and the school's second biggest loser? Hindsight suggested she was keeping more than an eye on the 'school loser' who turned out not to be such a loser after all. In fact the loser label had originated from the unholy trinity and he now wondered whether it had all been some kind of smoke screen. Those three had led the insults and intimidation that were aimed at a seemingly oblivious Rachel and positively encouraged everyone to join in. He had let it all slide rather than challenging their behaviour, partly afraid of losing popularity by defending a loser but mainly because secretly he liked to see Rachel getting what he had at the time considered her 'comeuppance'. Had he really not been seeing what was in front of him or was their getting together a post high school thing?
Rachel, who was always bouncing up to him with ideas for songs and themes for lessons no matter how many times he dismissed her songs and scoffed at her themes. Rachel, who would suggest detailed arrangements for set lists about who should sing which part and how the music should be arranged – usually showing a much better instinct for how to put on a stunning show than he did. He would huff and puff but usually end up borrowing a few of the ideas but never acknowledging her input in front of the rest of the Glee club. Her idea of starting a solo from the back of the theatre and singing her way through the audience he had shamelessly used the following year almost daring her to raise the matter when he'd briefed Sam and Quinn. She seemed to actively spend her time showing how much more she knew than him with her ideas so he had started to withdraw solos from her claiming a fair share was needed for all to shine. It was the only time she ever called him out on his behaviour and he'd barefaced lied about his motivations. She had stared at him for the longest time, as she seemed to search his soul for the truth of what he was saying and he had felt joyously smug about fooling her. Rachel hadn't challenged him on his behaviour after that but he'd sometimes catch her staring at him as if trying to discern his motivations.
Will didn't even want to think about how he'd interfered when Rachel had discovered who her birth mother was and was attempting to get to know her better. He had made sure Shelby backed off using the role of concerned teacher as a reason to become involved. He tried to convince himself he'd done it with Rachel's interests in mind but really if he'd truly cared about Rachel's feelings he have stopped the Rachel baiting in his lessons and the deliberately trying to pair her up for duets with people he thought would give her a hard time. Mind you, maybe that was something that he'd inadvertently done right. He'd been so pleased with himself after pairing Rachel with Quinn for a duet based on a 'how others see you' theme. Nothing to do with the hat of fate but all to do with him wanting to bring Rachel down a peg or two. It had been hard to keep the smile off his face as he'd imagined the stormy 'artistic differences' the pair would have. Both so stubborn, Rachel pushing for a Broadway number and Quinn objecting on principle, the principle being that Rachel had suggested it. He hadn't imagined for one moment that they'd actually manage to have a song ready in time, in fact he'd been looking forward to Rachel having to admit failing in the task- it would have been a first. He'd had a speech already prepared to berate Rachel about needing to work effectively with others in her role as co-captain, that she needed to inspire not just dictate - he could still remember how he'd planned to gloat.
Instead the whole Glee club had been left speechless as the pair had seethed their way through a highly charged performance of 'What is this feeling?' The animosity between them had been palpable as they faced off and sang at each other, all hostile body language and heated glares. It wasn't until he rewatched the recording Artie had made of that performance, several years later, that he realised that maybe all that emotional intensity that he'd put down to severe dislike could in fact be attributable to something at the other end of the feeling spectrum. There was just one split second half smile from Quinn as they harmonised on 'loathing you my whole life long' that just maybe hinted at something else. That video was probably worth a fortune now - maybe he should give the pair of them a copy?
Will sighed, another half hour until the next class full of unenthusiastic linguistically challenged students. Quinn and Rachel – the pair the Glee club voted as the' least likely to survive being trapped in a lift together' during one of their many long bus rides to competition – ended up being the only High School pair still together fifteen years later, and if the media were to be believed, still incredibly happy too. He scoured newspapers, magazines and the web for mentions of the pair but managed to hide the extent of his fascination from Emma. The pair were just as smiling and happy in the paparazzi shots as they were in the planned photo shoots. Quinn was always there on red carpet events standing slightly behind Rachel and smiling adoringly at everything Rachel said. Quinn was notoriously tight lipped about their relationship and would only discuss whatever project she was directing in interviews. Rachel appeared more talkative but in fact gave very little detail about her life with Quinn. Any information Will had about where they lived and how they spent their time came from the almost obsessive fan threads he followed – just lurked on, there was no way he'd contribute to such an invasion of their privacy.
Will felt his interest in his ex-students came from trying to piece together just when they had got together because it so didn't fit in with his understanding of what had been going on right in front of him. The first time he'd even had a hint about Rachel and Quinn being a couple had been when Emma had arranged for them to take a trip to New York to watch Rachel in her first lead role on Broadway. He had vetoed Emma's idea of contacting either Rachel's dads or Rachel directly for tickets. Emma had been oddly touched by his reluctance to do so admiring his modesty over any influence he might have had on Rachel. In truth he wasn't prepared to give Rachel the opportunity to tell Emma what she really thought of him. It was the same reason he always made sure that Emma and he never watched Rachel's acceptance speeches or interviews together. She always thanked practically everyone from her early singing teachers to fellow actors and directors – she never mentioned High school although he half expected her to mention she'd made it despite his efforts. Her answers to interview questions about her school years were always incredibly brief and vague even if Quinn was involved. He always feared her mentioning the jealous Glee club teacher who did his best to stifle her talent but she never did. He would be relieved not to be called out on his behaviour on National TV but also disappointed that, well, she seemed not to even remember him.
Anyway back to the Rachel and Quinn relationship that had taken the media so long to pick up on. Emma had paid a small fortune to obtain tickets in the third row of the musical starring Rachel that was then creating a big buzz in the press. Will had read the programme focussing on Rachel Berry's biographical notes mentioning her coming from ' a small town in Ohio', nothing about her education other than graduating from NYADA with all kinds of awards – was wining Nationals with the Glee club not worthy of a mention?
He had been taking the whole atmosphere of the theatre in and scanning the crowds to try and gain some feeling of whom the show appealed to. The audience was such a cross section of ages that he'd decided it was a show designed to appeal to all when he noticed a blond haired woman striding elegantly to her front row central seat and he had a brief thought that the woman looked rather similar to how he imagined an older Quinn Fabray might look. The realisation that in fact it was Quinn Fabray, looking a bit older than he remembered because she was indeed older than the 18 year old he pictured in his head dawned embarrassingly slowly. Why would Quinn be in the front row of a show starring a girl she'd picked on mercilessly throughout school? Admittedly the bullying had gradually lessened as events conspired to make Quinn focus on just surviving everything her family and fate threw at her but that lessening of hostilities didn't explain her presence here in the expensive seats or indeed in the theatre. He didn't point out Quinn to Emma who was preoccupied putting a cover on the seat next to him instead he half kept an eye on the blond front row fan.
Theatre binoculars were sufficient for him to note the smile that crossed Quinn's face every time Rachel made an entrance and how she was moved to tears on the heart wrenching solo about lost love that Rachel sang so beautifully. Mind you the majority of the people round him seemed to be having a similar reaction. He couldn't tell whether Rachel was aware of Quinn's presence until the curtain call. At the end after a dazzling performance from Rachel and a standing ovation from the majority of the audience he noticed Rachel's standard Broadway smile became even wider and brighter as she made prolonged eye contact with Quinn and gave a small wave in her direction. So Quinn's presence wasn't just some random coincidence and that Rachel and Quinn were in fact friends. His eyes were telling him more than friends but his brain refused to consider that at that moment. That came later as he trawled fan sites and chat rooms.
He began to note Quinn in the background at big events or at the same table in candid café shots. Rachel's refusal to discuss her private life and her jokey responses to questions about anyone she was pictured with led the more fanatical fans to speculate about her sexual orientation. He was only tempted to post a comment once and that was when a photo of Santana hugging Rachel outside a restaurant caused a brief flurry of comments about Santana being Rachel's latest conquest – he wanted to explain why hell would freeze over first, once he'd stopped laughing, but then dismissed the urge as ridiculous. Anonymous insiders received little thanks and much ridicule on these chat boards. If Rachel had really slept with everyone she was ever pictured with then it was amazing she had the energy to drag herself on stage every night, never mind belt out show tunes.
Will had followed Quinn's progress from Yale to theatre productions to directing short independent films only indirectly through the occasional sentence in articles about Rachel dining here or supporting worthy causes there. ('Pictured with Quinn Fabray, director of blah blah blah'). However as Quinn's films became more mainstream and popular her profile rose too and although nothing was ever explicitly stated, confirmed or denied they gradually became each others plus ones at events - never obviously together but if one was there then the other would be found nearby. Will was frustrated at the lack of concrete information about the pair, they never tweeted to or about each other and they steadfastly never commented on any rumours. It had taken Quinn directing a film that Rachel appeared in, or rather starred in and wowed audiences with, for the truth (or some version of it) to emerge. Some anonymous source uploading a video clip to the web of Rachel and Quinn hugging and the sharing the briefest of kisses as the video abruptly stopped.
Will could still remember the furore the video had caused. Gossip sites using it as an excuse to run any photo they had of Rachel with a man or woman depending on their viewpoint whilst the more serious news outlets deplored the lack of accountability of the internet and ran debates on privacy and whether famous celebrities were entitled to any. Websites with speculation about the nature of Rachel's relationship with Quinn had their number of hits rocketing sky high, the websites about rights to privacy less so – no surprises on where the interests of the public lay then. Suzy Peppers tell-all interview about her torrid affair with Rachel throughout their school years being the only vaguely amusing piece to read in the reams of words dedicated to the topic of Rachel. He almost couldn't look at the piano in the auditorium without blushing even now after Suzy's revelations – or flights of fancy to be more accurate. He somehow doubted Suzy would be coming to the reunion.
Will had expected there to suddenly be a 'boyfriend' or at least a denial as the video suddenly went viral and debates raged about who had initiated the kiss and where the balance of power lay. The subjects of the speculation remained dignified and maintained their usual policy of not commenting on their private lives, they were still seen out together or separately but now more often then not accompanied by a huge scrum of photographers shouting questions at them ranging from the banal to the incredibly intrusive. Maybe it would have all died down eventually as some other celebrity's private life suddenly took centre stage but an evening out where photographers jostling for position had resulted in Rachel being knocked rather forcefully to the ground finally proved too much for Santana who was accompanying them. She snarled at the photographers to " back the f*ck off" before exasperatedly adding, as flashlights exploded in her face, "they've been married for f*cking years for Christ's sake. Call yourself journalists, you're a f*cking disgrace."
Now there was a video clip that changed the definition of viral. Will wondered if Santana would be dropping in to the reunion and how their friendship had survived her outing of Quinn and Rachel. The rare interview of Rachel and Quinn together that followed after days of fever pitched speculation was short and to the point. They were happy to discuss work or charity projects they were involved in but had no intention of discussing their private lives now or in the future. Quinn confirmed the pair had indeed been married for a number of years but that was all they were prepared to say on the topic hoping that now their relatives and friends would be spared being hounded by the press – "I wouldn't want this to happen to my family" added Rachel indicating the plaster cast on her wrist. That was all they ever said on the matter – maybe they supported more gay charities or maybe their support of gay charities just became higher profile. Rings appeared and stayed on fingers, names gradually changed in news stories to a double-barrelled Berry-Fabray but beyond that their private lives stayed private – or at least they never commented on it.
Had their careers been affected by all the uproar? It was difficult for Will to judge. Rachel's next project had been a stint on Broadway - a rather more forgiving environment than that of Hollywood and her critically acclaimed performance in the Quinn directed movie began being talked about because of the awards it won rather than the kissing video. The prolonged hug when Rachel's name had been announced as the Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner had been one of the rare public displays of affection between the pair. The sight of Quinn brushing Rachel's tears away before she stepped up to collect her award was somehow a far more intimate moment than the infamous kiss.
The bell dragged Will from his musings. He needed to teach his final lesson of the day before heading to the sports hall to collect Emma so they could go home and change for the evening. It was too late to feign sickness to avoid giving Rachel the opportunity to tell everyone she'd made it despite of him rather than because of him. Maybe he actually needed that from her so he could stop feeling guilty and constantly regretting his actions. Besides, there was a small part of him that was a tiny bit curious to see how Quinn and Rachel would behave once back under the roof of McKinley High. He imagined them arriving escorted by a cohort of security guards and making all the guests sign whatever privacy disclaimer that celebrities went for these days. Will sighed; another eight hours and it would all be over. In the meantime there were eager young minds to inspire or rather cynical youths to distract for an hour – at least this lesson didn't call for the use of guitars and sombreros…