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i’m going down orig. bruce springsteen; cover by vampire weekend

It takes Will a few minutes to figure out what's pissing him off.

"What," he says when it clicks, "what the hell is this, Nursey?"

Nursey turns his head so he can look at Will. He's got his beanie thing pulled down low, brim jutting out so it shades his eyes, and his stupidly large headphones are around his neck. They've been leaking that crap Nursey calls music since Will sat down to study, but now that he's paying attention, Will realises that he knows the song. Sort of.

"What?" Nursey asks after a minute of staring. "You've gotta be a little more specific there, bro."

"This, this," Will says, waving his hand in Nursey's general direction. "That's Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen. Who is butchering Springsteen, what gives them the right, and for the love of god, why are you listening to it?"

Nursey rolls his eyes and settles back onto the sofa. "Man, you need to get out more."

"No," Will says, putting his pencil down. There's no way he's going to get back to thinking about recursions now that he's got something under his skin. "Seriously. This is a classic. Why would you listen to anything but the original?"

"This is better," Nursey drawls out. "Chill, Dex. To each their own."

It's weird, Will thinks as Nursey picks his textbook back up and starts reading again. It's weird that Nursey's not picking a fight. It's weird that he's actively passing on Will's attempts to needle him. It's weird that he thinks this cover crap is better than The Boss.

It's weird that Will maybe doesn't actually hate everything about it, once he gets over his surprise. He scowls and goes back to his Java.

"Why?" he asks when Nursey's playlist starts itself over and Not-Springsteen starts singing again. "No, real answer, Nursey. What's so much better about this one?"

Nursey sighs. "Music, man, it's just… good music is so important." He sounds a little distant, a little loopy, which is maybe what makes Will think he's actually telling the truth. "And yeah, sure, the original was a decent song. But when you take the song apart, boil it down to its bones, strip it and then reconstruct it, it gets new life." Nursey waves his hand around a little. "There's feeling that wasn't in the original. There's the whole, the cover band, they're taking something that already has a life, and when they put their own spin on it, they have to acknowledge that. They give it new life, different life, and man, that's such a fucking brave thing to do. When it works, it's just the greatest thing."

It's the most Will has ever heard Nursey say at one time that wasn't deliberately meant to wind him up. It might be the most he's said at once including that, too.

"Huh," Will says, looking at his textbook.

 

superstition orig. stevie wonder; cover by kina grannis & imaginary future

Sometimes Will thinks Nursey's winding him up on purpose. Other times, though, he's absolutely, one hundred percent sure that's the case.

"Why," he asks, trying not to whine. "Stevie Wonder. This should be Stevie Wonder."

"Nah," Nursey says, shrugging. "I mean, his was great, don't get me wrong, but… nah."

"I hate you," Will says.

Nursey lifts a shoulder, nods, and drops his shoulder again. "Think about, like, atmosphere," he says. "The original, you've got Stevie, you've got his backing track, that's it. It's great, it's totally a product of the sociocultural context in which it was produced, and the sound reflects that." He nods his head a little to the music. "This is updated. It's using the same sound in different ways. The whole mood is different, you know? The whole feeling, the affect, it's completely different."

Will can really only blink at Nursey for so long before it gets super weird. "You're, uh. Really into this whole music thing."

"Man's gotta have hobbies," Nursey says. "And hey, music is - I'm an English major, right? Music's a natural expression of, like, rhythm and feeling and rhyme. They go hand in hand."

That… actually makes sense, now that Will thinks about it. He nods a little, glad that Nursey's staring at the ceiling and bobbing his head. "Maybe that's why I think it's weird," he offers. "Computer science major."

"Music is just science out loud," Nursey says. He doesn't explain it any further, and Will is afraid that if he asks, Nursey will make it make sense. He's not sure he wants that.

 

ironman orig. black sabbath; cover by the cardigans

"No," Will groans. "How did - no, okay, the Superstition one wasn't awful, but this - how, Nurse. How can you think this is good."

Nursey snorts. "This cover is great," he says. "It takes a shit ton of what I don't like about the original and just, like, turns it on its head."

"You don't like the original?" Will yelps. "Black Sabbath! How do you not like it?"

"White dudes making music for white dudes does nothing for me," Nursey says promptly. "And before you get your knickers in a twist, Dex, think very quietly about your opinions on rap music, and then fuck off."

"I don't have to like it," Will says petulantly.

"Nope," Nursey agrees. He waits a beat before adding, "And I don't have to like Black Sabbath."

Will sighs. "Fine."

"Fine," Nursey echoes. They settle into silence for a little while, Will trying to make sense out of his calc problem set and Nursey apparently doodling in his notebook. Not that Will's looking or anything.

"I should make you a mixtape," Nursey says suddenly.

"No," Will says flatly, but when he looks up Nursey's leaning forward a little, grinning like it's the best idea in the world. "Seriously, don't. And who even says mixtape anymore?"

"Me, obvs," Nursey replies. "I'm totally making you a mixtape. This is gonna be fantastic."

"This is going to be a disaster," Will mutters, but whatever. Nursey's going to do whatever the hell he feels like doing. It's not like Will can stop him.

 

trouble orig. lindsay buckingham; cover by of montreal

The mixtape is actually a cassette tape.

"You're the worst human being on the planet," Will says, staring at the plastic case that has all of the tracks and artist written in Nursey's carefully tidy handwriting. His penmanship is usually seven kinds of a mess; the fact that he'd taken the time to make it completely legible means… something. "How am I even going to listen to this?"

Nursey grins and points to the authentic 90s-style boombox in the Haus kitchen. "Bro. You're not even trying."

"The worst," Will emphasizes. He puts the tape in and hits play, annoyed when Nursey leans over and fast-forwards through the first bit of the tape. "Hey, what gives?"

"You've heard those already," Nursey says, a little impatient, definitely not at all chill. "We're skipping ahead. I like this one."

He hits play and a piano intro starts. It's familiar, but Will can't immediately place it. It's nice, though, and when the guy starts singing Will really actually kind of likes it, fuck everything. He finally figures out what the original is when the chorus starts up.

I think I'm in trouble, Not Lindsay Buckingham sings, and Nursey sings along in a surprisingly decent harmony, and Will thinks, oh, shit, I'm in trouble.

 

what to do orig. rolling stones; cover by meat puppets

It's not like it's prophetic or whatever. It's just, okay, Will's got no idea what to do, and the song is just, that's what it's about.

Nursey's still a giant asshole; that hasn't changed. But Will's kind of seeing him in a different light now, seeing the way he actually has to work at all the unselfconscious chill he projects, seeing him actually relax with those obnoxiously big headphones around his neck. It's kind of telling, Will thinks, that Nursey feels like he can let his guard down or whatever when he's with Will. Will just isn't sure what exactly it means.

Well, maybe. Maybe he's got a clue, but-

He's got no idea what to do with that information.

 

i’m on fire orig. bruce springsteen; cover by a.a. bondy

Will isn't exactly proud of the fact that he tracked down the entire mixtape on Youtube and made himself a playlist. It's all decent music, okay, and he's starting to maybe see Nursey's point about how changing some of the things in the song, the mood or whatever, changes everything about it. It's really good to study to, too, so yeah, he's got it on repeat.

Springsteen is great. Will is never going to think otherwise. But these covers? They don't suck as much as he's still trying to insist they do to Nursey.

 

silver springs orig. fleetwood mac; cover by lykke li

"What makes this one so great," Nursey says as he barges right into Will's room like he's never heard of knocking, holy shit, "is the whole - the expectation of the chorus, right, the harmony that you provide even if you're not thinking about it, but she goes with the melody and strips out the rest of it."

He flops across Will's bed like the whole thing exhausted him, which.

"What the fuck," Will says as flatly as he can manage.

Nursey raises a hand and waves it around like that means. "The chorus, man. The way she changed how she's singing, without all the backup. It's genius."

Will kind of liked that too, the first time he heard it, and he's caught himself singing along with the missing harmony a few times now. He's kind of hesitant about actually telling Nursey that, though. "Yeah. It's good."

"No, listen," Nursey says, and then he's tapping out the beat against Will's bedspread and opening his mouth and - and singing along, damn it, fuck everything, because when Will listens to the whole product together he can't help but want to record it and replace the song he's currently got in iTunes.

Nursey's voice is - he's no Holster, okay. That's not a fair comparison, not really, because Holster can sing, and apparently if hockey hadn't been his first love besides Ransom he'd've been one of the leads in Samwell's a capella group, but Nursey's got a great voice. It's mellow like his speaking voice is and a little rough like it isn't, and Will's not sure if it's the song or the way he sounds against the other vocals or just, it's Nursey, laying in Will's bed and singing to him, and-

Jesus fuck, Will's so screwed.

 

sad-eyed lady of the lowlands orig. bob dylan; cover by phoenix

"What are you doing," Will asks, because he feels like he's got a right to. Nursey's on his bed again, feet up against the wall and his head hanging back over the edge. He's giving Will a headache just looking at him.

"Thinking," Nursey says.

"How can you think upside-down like that?" Will asks. It's a valid question, seriously.

Nursey grins at him, still upside-down, and Will hates this dumb thing he's realised about himself, the thing where he thinks Nursey's really good-looking and kind of an asshole, yeah, but in an attractive way.

"I get a lot of practice," Nursey says. He hasn't shifted at all. "Got a question for you, Dex."

"I've probably got an answer," Will says. "I might even want to share it with you."

Nursey grins even wider. "Have you figured it out yet?"

Will stares for a minute, but no, that still doesn't make sense "What?"

"Aw, man," Nursey says, shaking his head a little. "I thought for sure."

"You're not making any sense," Will points out. "Maybe stop making all the blood rush to your head."

Nursey snorts, and has to put an arm back to brace himself against the floor so he doesn't fall off the bed as he starts full-out laughing.

Will scowls. "Well, fuck you too, Nursey. I can't answer shit if your questions give me questions."

Nursey stops laughing gradually, but he can't wipe the actual smile off his face or make his eyes less clearly amused. "Well," he says, finally righting himself on Will's bed before pushing himself to his feet - and he doesn't even have the decency to be lightheaded from all the upside-down time, damn it - and walking for the door. "Think. Listen to the music some more. Lemme know when you've put two and two together."

Goddamn everything, Will thinks with feeling as Nursey lets himself out.

 

let’s dance orig. david bowie; cover by m. ward

Will only realises how much Nursey's been hanging around because he's conspicuously absent over the next few days. It's not like Will misses him or his music commentary or his, like, ridiculously over-large self hanging around in Will's space all the time, but.

Yeah. But.

 

your song orig. elton john; cover by ellie goulding

Oh, Will thinks suddenly on maybe his tenth playthrough of the playlist today. He sets his pencil down so he doesn't fiddle with it, opens iTunes, and looks at each song title carefully. He spends at least an hour and a half listening to snippets of each song, clicking back and forth between them, listening with intent, realising that it's not just a random compilation of music that Nursey likes. It's a mixtape, holy shit, and, and -

Will closes his art history textbook and shoves his feet into his sneakers.

 

come talk to me orig. peter gabriel; cover by bon iver

"Hey," Nursey drawls when he opens the door. Will's been trying not to, like, run halfway across campus, but he knows that if he doesn't find out if he's right or not really soon, he'll sit on this shit for way too long. "What's up?"

Will grabs two fistfuls of Nursey's shirt and hauls him down and plants a kiss right on his lips.

 

your love is forever orig. george harrison; cover by band of horses

They talk.

They talk for a surprising length of time, actually, once Nursey's done humming against Will's mouth and squeezing Will's hips in his hands and swaying into him. They pull apart, and Will realises that they're standing in the hallway in Nursey's dorm, that anyone could walk by and see them, that Nursey's room is right there and hey, privacy is a thing Will's really fond of.

"So, uh," Will says when the door is locked behind him. He's in Nursey's desk chair, and Nursey's sitting on his bed. "I figured it out."

"I noticed," Nursey says, and his smile's more fond than mocking, which - it has been for a while, now that Will thinks back on it. "And you're not freaking out about it."

"No," WIll says, maybe a little defensively. "Why would I freak out?"

Nursey raises an eyebrow. "Because I'm a dude and I'm into you? Or, wait, because almost all of our interactions that haven't been out-and-out fights have been on the ice? Oh, or maybe because-"

"You were nervous," Will cuts in. Today's a day for revelations.

"Chyeah," Nursey says, rolling his eyes, but the tone of his voice is serious. "Gonna go out on a limb here and say you've never hit on a teammate before, Dex. Shit is frightening."

"I'm not," Will says helplessly. He knows how Nursey could've gotten that impression from him, is the thing, and it's not like he can deny that he'd never been that guy. "I'm not freaking out. About any of that."

"Good," Nursey says, and Will can almost feel the relief in Nursey's expression. "I mean, yeah, figured that out what with the kissing and all, but - good."

"About that," Will says.

Nursey groans and thunks his head back against the wall. "Please don't tell me you came all the way over here to tell me no thanks. Not after kissing me like that." He takes a deep breath and turns his head so he can look at Will. "Not that I wouldn't, y'know, respect your boundaries and shit. I'm not actually a complete ass. Just, way to get my hopes up, man."

"That's not what I came over here to tell you," Will says.

There's a sudden hopeful look on Nursey's face. "No?"

"No," Will says. There's something turning over in his stomach, something nervous and excited and impossible to ignore. "I just, uh. Think we should talk about it?"

"Okay," Nursey says, and then stops talking, what the fuck, that's not what Will just said.

Fine, okay. Will's got shit to say. He takes a breath. "Would it affect how we play?"

Nursey raises an eyebrow. "Doubt it. Not in a bad way, I mean. Ransom and Holster are super freaky together on the ice, and they've been sleeping together for at least two years."

Will chokes. "They're what now?"

"Are you for real," Nursey says, grinning. "You didn't notice them sucking face last week at the Haus?"

"They were drunk," Will says.

"Not that drunk," Nursey replies. "Trust me on this one. There's a reason they get to share a bedroom."

"Okay," Will says, feeling a little lost as he reorganizes his thoughts. "Okay. So."

"So," Nursey says. He's way too patient for all of this.

"So," Will repeats. "I'm, uh. Not really… out. To anyone."

Nursey shrugs a shoulder. "Not asking you to throw a Pride parade. Or call your folks to tell them this very minute that you've figured out that dudes are kinda hot."

Will can feel himself flushing, but he's good at ignoring that, at least. "I don't know what I'm doing."

That makes Nursey look at him, long and serious, until Will wants to hide his face. "If you're willing to figure it out, Dex, I'm still in."

That's pretty much the entire list of objections he'd come up with, so Will just nods and licks his lips. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm. We can figure it out."

"Thank fuck," Nursey says fervently. "You want to do this, then?"

"I want to try," Will says, and then Nursey's grinning and sliding off the bed and leaning down to cup Will's face in his hands, and yeah, this is for sure something Will wants to figure out how to do.

 

this will be our year orig. the zombies; cover by memoryhouse

"I'm glad you guys figured everything out," Bitty says as he cuts two extra-large slices of pie and plates them in a matter of seconds. "It was stressing me out just watching y'all dance around each other like that."

"It was time," Will says before he can talk himself out of it, before he can deflect or deny anything. "It was definitely time."

Nursey hooks their ankles together underneath the table and doesn't say anything, but he's got this fond look on his face as he takes his pie from Bitty.

Will smiles back almost helplessly. Yeah. Definitely time.