Okay, it’s not that Ryder was trying to pay attention to Unique’s bathroom habits. It’s just that, well, he was paying attention to Unique. A lot. He hadn’t even realised he was doing it, not for a while at least. Until one day he was in Glee with Jake and none of the girls had turned up yet and Ryder almost opened his mouth to explain that the four of them were always in the girls room together at this time on a Wednesday and it usually made them at least this late.
That made him stop and think. He also started actually notinging how much attention he was paying to her. He consciously noticed things. One of which was that Unique never went to the bathroom on her own. Which, was sort of a girls thing, but well, he knew the other girls did at least sometimes. Or Marley had, when he’d been accidentally noticing this stuff about her a few months ago. Look, he just liked to pay attention when he liked a girl, okay?
Fuck. Fuck! Liking Unique was so far from being the plan. Forgiving Unique had barely made it into the plan. Except somehow that kept being super easy to forget. Like, that time when Mr. Schue went on about some plan to do a Sting medley and Ryder caught Unique’s gaze and rolled his eyes and she laughed and shook her head. At which point he realised that thinking Sting was over-rated was an inside joke between him and Katie, not him and Unique and maybe it was time to accept there was no difference.
So, okay, it might be a bit weird to notice this, but Unique looked a bit… antsy. It’s nearing the end of lunch and somehow they ended up sitting across from each other and the other guys there were having a loud debate about… something. And Marley was sick and hadn’t come in, and he was pretty sure Kitty was off making out with Artie somewhere, and god knew what drama Tina’s getting herself into this week, but she’s not here, so.
“You could probably use the handicapped toilets.” He finds himself saying, completely without planning to. But, well, it’s not like he’s an idiot, he knows people are shitty to her sometimes about using the girls room - he’s been shitty to her about it, himself. So surely it’s a good option, just not have to deal with other people.
Unique blinks for a second and then her expression quickly runs through embarrassment into anger. When did he get this good at reading her face? “Excuse me? What exactly are you talking about.”
Ryder shrugs and tries not to become defensive right back. What he said was pretty weird. “I just, you know. Marley’s not here and she usually goes in with you, so maybe try the handicapped stall?” His voice gets smaller and smaller as he goes on.
He has never seen Unique quite this lost for words and it’s sort of, well, scary and yet cute? Crap. “I don’t even know where to start.” Suddenly a flash of horror, “Wait, did Marley talk to you about this?”
“No!” He replies as quick as possible, before it can get worse. “No, I just, you know, notice things. About you.” And why couldn’t he have stopped speaking two words earlier and why is looking away from Unique’s face right now so hard?
“Right.” She mostly looks confused. “Well, I am not disabled, so I’m not going to,” She waves her hand in a motion somehow dramatic, graceful, and thoroughly awkward, “Do that. There’s only one handicap-accessible bathroom in this whole school and other kids need it.”
“I didn’t mean to suggest… anything.” He says awkwardly, but inwardly he’s getting annoyed at the whole system. Accessible should mean accessible for everyone. Unique needs a bathroom accessible for her without needing to worry about being harassed. It suddenly strikes him how, in a way, it’s like his tutor. Who makes learning accessible to him finally, because he just learns differently. He’s pretty sure this is the stupidest analogy he’s ever thought of, but it all just seems really important and clear right now. Unique is a girl in a different way, but she’s and shouldn’t things be set up to support her and make things better for her, too? “I could wait for you?” He suddenly says, because he has to do something. Unique is still looking a bit like she wants to be anywhere else.
“Could you at least try to talk in a way that makes some sense?” She says, which, ouch, but okay maybe he deserves that, he has been about as far from smooth as you can get in this conversation.
“Like, you go in and I’ll wait outside, you know, just in case?” He’s not sure that’s much better, but her eyes soften and she smiles softly, with a bit of surprise in her eyes, and, oh God, when did her looking like that become such a problem? He sort of wants to march into Figgins office right now and make him fix the whole school, write to the President and change the world to make sure she doesn’t need to be surprised. Because it’s not something she should need help with.
“I was just going to wait until classes started.” She says, and sure it’s a bit awkward, but there’s literally no way this conversation could be anything else. However, Ryder’s pretty sure he’s no longer about to get verbally eviscerated, so he’s calling it good awkward.
“I could still wait?” They have class together next and he’s doing pretty well in it, he can be a couple of minutes late. One person coming in late is always a target for teasing, two isn’t usually so bad.
Unique looks down and chews her lip a little and then looks up with a smile that’s -wow. “If you insist. I will allow you to wait outside and hold my bag.”
And Ryder- can’t quite help it, he grins, and fist-pumps, and only just manages not to jump out of his chair, because he’d hit the table if he did. Unique smiles and rolls her eyes at him and they are definitely sparkling and he figured out how to help, so maybe things will be okay.