glee | will/terri | no, they can’t take that away from me
Terri shows up the way she always does: out of nowhere, when he’s feeling like crap. Emma and Carl are still going strong. (But it’s only been a couple of months, and who really stays married these days anyway? Not that Will doesn’t want her to be happy. He does. He’s just—realistic.) Carl brings her lunch every day, which they share in Emma’s office. Will’s usually walking by at that time on his way to the staffroom. Emma always looks radiant, and rarely notices him as he passes. His eyes are glued to her ring finger these days. He’s sure that one morning they’ll bump into each other in the parking lot, and the ring’ll be gone, and she’ll be looking at him the way she used to, all hopeful and a little bit shy.
It hasn’t happened yet. But. One morning.
You know what they say about dentists. You can only trust them as far as you can throw them.
(“Nobody says that,” Rachel announces crisply when he winds up blurting this out in front of his Glee kids. They’re discussing doing a number from Little Shop of Horrors. It’s completely relevant.
“Everybody says that,” Brittany says, blankly authoritative as ever. “But your teeth are kind of weird, so. They probably didn’t tell you.”
And then Will walks out to his car one evening and discovers that Terri’s sitting in it.
“I went to the dentist today,” she says primly. That’s all it takes. Will knows exactly where this is going. I went to the dentist today, Will, and do you know what I saw? A picture of your little redhead on Dr. Howell’s desk. And when I asked, he told me they’d just gotten married! Married, Will. I hope you’re happy. I hope you’re really happy you threw away our marriage for some little floozy who abandoned you the second a man with a REAL job caught her eye. You know who never would have done that, Will? ME.
“Oh,” he says, preparing himself. His headache is kicking in already.
Terri inhales. Will knows this breath. The Pre-Crazy Rant Breath. All his cells seize up, anticipating the stress. And then: it’s quiet. No sound at all.
Will stares at Terri, waiting. Terri keeps her eyes trained forward, staring out the windshield. After about ten seconds, she sneaks a glance at Will. Her eyes are bright, hopeful. She looks a little bit shy, which is definitely something new for Terri.
“I didn’t have any cavities,” she says at last, small-voiced.
“Yeah, well,” Will says, and laughs a little from sheer relief, “you’re a pretty meticulous flosser.”
“Of course I remembered, Terri. It’s not like I just forgot everything about you.”
It’s more that he mostly remembers the bad parts.
She looks touched. The slight smile on her face is disorienting. It brings him right back to being married to her: she’d have those moments, those random unpredictable moments, where she’d suddenly quiet, and soften, and look at him with so much love. He never quite figured out how to see those moments coming. He thinks that’s why he stayed with her for so long. They were too quick, but they always made it seem worth it. Just for that little while.
“I just thought you might like to know,” she says finally, formally. “About my dentist appointment.”
“Thank you,” he says softly.
One of her hands twitches, like she wants to touch his face and only catches herself at the last second. She laces her fingers together and rests them in her lap.
“You want a ride home?” he asks. It’s a stupid offer. Her car is parked at the other end of the lot. He can see it right now.
“All right,” she says.
As he turns the car on – and Terri chokes back a familiar Oh, Will, REALLY sound as The Best of Journey pours from the stereo – he remembers something else. This is how it started, all those years ago. This is how they started. A ride home. Same parking lot and everything.
He hopes she doesn’t read too much into it.
(He knows she will. It’s just that this time he kind of wants it. He knows it’s unfair, but she’s comfortable, she’s home in a way that his empty apartment isn’t, and he misses that, misses having someone to shape his life around, and it’s not like there are any other volunteers for that position. Emma looks so happy these days. He doesn’t know whether he ever made her smile like Carl does. But Terri—)
He switches Journey off. They don’t talk much during the drive. The quiet is wonderful.