I Don't Believe in Fairytales
It's prom time at William McKinley high school, which means that everyone, no matter what gender or sexual orientation, is freaking out about the huge rite of passage. It's only two weeks away and most of the conversation that goes on in the student body is prom-centric; the girls are fretting over dresses and makeup while the guys are complaining about having to don a tux and a bowtie.
But at least they're going.
While the majority of the student population has become engulfed by prom mania (even the staff members, to some extent) some highschoolers are not relishing the prospect of prom at all. In fact, some dread it. Namely, the handicapped guy in the wheelchair who has never been to a dance or anything that involves movement of the feet. Artie's paralyzed from the waist down, so the whole concept of going to prom, subsequently getting laid in the back of a limo by his date is quite unappealing to him. Artie's normally very happy-go-lucky, and tends not to let his disability affect his day-to-day life, but when big "milestones" that he cannot participate in- such as prom- are rubbed into his face on a daily basis, even he begins to feel a little self-loathing when he looks down at his useless legs.
Artie's part of the glee club, a group that doesn't get much respect (although having Finn Hudson, football star, as their leading male vocalist does sort of help them out) but it seems that even his fellow glee clubbers are excited about the prom.
Rachel Berry, the female lead, makes it a point to talk to Finn about the upcoming dance (even though she knows he has a girlfriend), and she also makes it a point to tell him she doesn't have a date. When Artie sees this, he rolls his eyes. Finn, being a genuinely nice guy in the body of a heartless jock, is obviously beginning to like Rachel as a romantic interest, but he still feels obligated to Quinn, his current girlfriend and the president of the Celibacy Club (please. Artie could take that job… it wasn't as if he needed his sexual organ). Mercedes keeps insisting that she'll be the best-looking girl at the dance; her date is a scrawny boy with big Coke-bottle glasses from her science class (Kurt made the mistake of asking her if she'd threatened to sit on him if he didn't go to prom with her. She glared at him with such venom that Artie thought he saw Kurt's testicle's drop).
And Tina… well, Tina is the only one who doesn't have an opinion on the subject of the dance. Artie has gotten particularly close with her since glee began, and he idly wonders if she has a date, or if she can't attend prom for a personal reason and that's why she isn't gushing about it like Rachel and Mercedes.
He wants to ask Tina about what her plans for prom night are, but holds back, because it's none of his business and he doesn't want to come off as a stalkerish weirdo. Just because girls never look twice at him, doesn't mean he's desperate enough to start tailing them like a hopeless puppy dog.
And so Artie just sits in his manual chair, looking out at the world around him and wondering what it would be like if he could walk. Would he be popular? Would a beautiful girl be pestering him to be her date? Would he get laid in the back of a limo? The questions are meaningless, because even if they were all answered with a resounding 'YES', they're just questions and they won't happen in real life. In real life he is stuck in this chair, stuck at home on the night of prom with his mom and dad and his younger brother, who's only a freshman.
On Tuesday, Tina's not at glee practice. Mr. Schu announces that the auditorium is being inspected for mould, so until Monday, they'll be using the conference room in the library to practice their song-and-dance routines (mostly the song part). Artie hopes someone will relay the message to Tina so she knows that they're practice location has been moved (he would do it himself, but he doesn't have her phone number, and he'd feel like a creep looking her up in the phonebook).
Sure enough, on Wednesday afternoon, Tina is absent once more. Mr. Schu looks around at the five kids, brow furrowing when he realizes that he's missing one.
"Is Tina still sick?" He asks.
"I saw her today in the hall." Rachel volunteers, then she crosses her arms over her chest and assumes a sulky stance. "If she wants to skip out on glee, then she shouldn't even be part of it."
"Maybe she doesn't know we're in here today." Artie speaks up in her defence. "She was away yesterday, after all."
"That's true." Mr. Schu nods. "Does anyone want to go check the auditorium? See if she's there?"
"I'll do it!" It pops out of Artie's mouth before he even knows what he's saying. There's an awkward pause, during which Mr. Schu just looks at him, sympathy and confusion in his kindly eyes. It would be more practical to send Finn (he's fast) or Rachel (she's fast… but then again, she'll probably drag Tina to the conference room by her hair, all the while ranting about the importance of glee) or Kurt or Mercedes, but how can he say no to the boy in the wheelchair?
"O-okay, Artie." He finally says. "We'll wait until you get back to start." Artie smiles, ignoring Rachel's sour expression, and wheels out of the conference room, guaranteeing Mr. Schu that he'll be as quick as he can.
When Artie reaches the auditorium, he pushes the big silver button implanted in the wall and watches as the doors swing open. He rolls in and squints in the darkness. The first thing he sees is a figure, hunched on the edge of the stage, and the first thing he hears is a soft, high-pitched noise. Like someone's crying.
"Tina?" Artie calls out gently, trying not to shock the person that's on the stage. The noise halts and the figure raises its head. Artie rolls forward, his stomach plunging when he realizes that it's Tina herself, curled up with her chin on her knees, arms wrapped around her legs. Her face is streaked by tears, blotchy with evidence of hysterical sobbing.
"What's wrong?" Artie asks, stopping his chair before he can get too close. He doesn't know how to comfort her yet, and so he'll gauge the seriousness of the situation first.
His question strikes a nerve in her and she bursts into a fresh round of tears, burying her face into her arms, her shoulders shaking with misery. "P-p-p-prom." She manages to stammer out, voice hampered by chokes and tears and absolute sorrow. Artie's eyes widen and his lips settle into a frown. He knew prom was the devil, he just knew it!
"Prom?" He repeats gently, moving closer.
"It's s-s-stupid." Tina raises her head slightly, ashamed. "I-I-I'm sorry for crying in front of you."
"I'm sure it's not stupid, Tee." Her nickname slips out and he has to fight the urge to look into his lap and blush. "If it's got you crying, it must be important. What's wrong?"
"I-it's just," Tina sniffles and wipes at her waterlogged eyes with the back of her hand. "When I was y-younger I t-thought I would have a lot of f-friends by now and a b-boyfriend who would l-love me and ask me to the prom."
Artie hates to see her cry. He can't stand it when any female cries but watching her cry, and not being able to do anything about it, makes him feel helpless. "You have friends." He says awkwardly.
"N-no I don't." She returns, plonking her chin on her knees again. "T-the glee club aren't friends, they're just… the g-glee club."
"You don't consider us friends?" He's rolled up to her now, so close that he could reach out and touch her leg.
"I-I guess." She nods, but she doesn't sound so sure. "B-but I still don't have a boyfriend. And I k-know it's s-s-stupid, but I w-w-want to be w-w-wanted, just once."
"And you think that having a date to prom means you're wanted?" He clarifies. She nods.
"You want a fairytale?" He will never be a prince charming to anyone, he's too damaged.
"I don't believe in f-fairytales." She hiccups, no longer crying but still clearly emotional. He looks down, licks his lips and prays for strength.
"Do you want to go with me?"
Another Tina/Artie story because I'm growing fond of the pair. I'm not sure if I should keep this as a oneshot or continue it (it probably wouldn't be long, 3 or 4 more chapters at the most). Feedback is appreciated, it means the world to me =) thank you in advance if you do read and/or review.