Out of the 9 prominent members of Glee Club, Artie Abrams, the 'token cripple' and Quinn Fabray, ex-head cheerleader, were the most alike. Now, if someone had walked up to Artie before glee started, and told him that he shared commonalities with Captain Celibate, he would have widened his eyes and choked on air.
Quinn and Artie were from two completely separate social spheres, ones that did not touch, or even spin near each other. She was William McKinley's princess; a cold fish with a mean streak, the leader of the Jocks and the Popular Kids. He was in a wheelchair, spending his days at crotch level, with his big nerdy glasses and his colourfully nerdy vests. If Quinn was the arbitrator of all things 'cool' at McKinley (and she was) he was her antithesis; the king of all things unconventional and offbeat. But once glee started and Artie learned to use his voice- his unique, cherished, respected voice- he started to realize that maybe he and Quinn were not so different after all.
She knew this too, of course, especially after she got knocked up and fell from the top rungs of the social ladder all the way down to below the kids who did RPG and wore amine-themed costumes to school. Neither Quinn nor Artie spoke about their struggles, but Artie, who'd always been an especially keen people-watcher after the accident that had handicapped him, knew that on some silent level, they understood what it was like to be one another. She could relate to him better than the other Gleeks- even Tina- and he could understand her without the slightest bit of confusion- unlike Finn- they each were an open book to the other. But that didn't make them friends or anything.
Quinn might not have known what it was like to sit in the confines of a rolling chair all day- you couldn't truly know what that was like unless you were forced to live it on a 24/7 basis- but she knew that the chair was not the equivalent of the man. Artie's wheelchair did not define him, however essential its role in his life was, and she understood, when she saw him parked at the edge of the football field, watching the team practice (Artie was more or less tolerated there now, especially because he was Kurt's support). She understood that soft nostalgia in his eyes, the longing as he watched the other boys knock heads and trip each other up just for fun (with the exception of Kurt, who danced blithely out of the way before he could become involved in a mock fight). Artie hadn't always been disabled, and it became most obvious when he watched the football practices. Quinn was sure that when he watched the other boys, oblivious as anything, he was dreaming about his past, pre-wheelchair, and he was thinking about what he might accomplish if he was on the team. It must have been so hard, Quinn thought, to be like Artie, sitting there and watching would-be dreams flash before his eyes.
Likewise, on his way home every day. Artie saw the longing in Quinn's eyes when she'd stand in the student parking lot, leaning against her car with a hand placed absently on her ever-expanding tummy, watching the cheerios sort themselves into a human pyramid in preparation for nationals. He saw the way her pretty eyes- green grey jewels- would mist over, her lips trembling as she struggled to swallow some sort of emotion that Artie thought might be resentment (both for herself and her situation). Personally, Artie had never seen the appeal to being a cheerio (although he did appreciate the short skirts. Just because he was a gentleman, didn't mean he was exempted from having hormones) especially with Coach Sylvester screaming put-downs into a megaphone. But it never failed to stir sympathy in his gut- seeing Quinn excluded from everything she'd once had and cherished. Poor Quinn, he thought, it must be awful to be confronted with the past and who you were, with the knowledge that you will never be that person again, no matter how much you wish to be.
So Artie and Quinn both knew about having things ripped away from them, for him the use of his legs (thereby forfeiting dreams he'd harboured since he was a little boy), and for her the foremost position on the cheerleading squad (by renouncing her captaincy, she could kiss any cheerleading-related opportunities for post-secondary education goodbye).
Both Quinn and Artie were familiar with the concept of jealousy- hers was dangerous, his defensive.
For Quinn, it all started when Rachel Berry, the annoying upstart who posted a Myspace video every day because she thought the world actually cared about the dastardly noises escaping her fish lips (what was she trying to do? Cry for help?) started hanging around her boyfriend, Finn. In spite of her flawless blonde image and the fact that she helped her mother run the Thanksgiving food drive every year, Quinn was not oblivious, and soon she caught on to the fact that Rachel had fallen for Finn. Which was all well and good, except for the detail of Finn acting like he reciprocated her feelings. Before this episode, Quinn had never been challenged by anyone- if she snagged a boy, she kept him until she ended the relationship, she was always the prettiest and most fashionable girl in a room- and so the notion of Rachel Berry stealing Finn away from her had been too much to take. Too much, entirely, as one Friday night she'd ended up lying spread-eagled on the bed of Noah 'Puck' Puckerman- Finn's best friend- the both of them more than a little drunk off of wine coolers as he shattered her innocence (something she'd strived to preserve). Her reckless jealousy had come at the cost of her innocence, and unleashed a domino effect of consequences: a shock pregnancy (who gets pregnant after their first time? Fuck her life), lying to Finn about the baby's paternity, getting kicked out of the house by her anal-retentively Christian parents, and agreeing to give the baby to the seemingly psychotic Mrs. Schuester to raise, among other things.
After sleeping with Puck, Quinn had tiptoed out of his house before dawn, feeling filthy and cheap, trying to forget what she'd done. At 7:59 on Saturday morning, Artie received a short email from the blonde, saying simply, 'I made a mistake' accompanied by a sad face.
Quinn had single-handedly destroyed her life thanks to an unfounded suspicion that her devoted puppy dog of a boyfriend would stray. But Artie's jealousy had created something: a wall between himself and Tina, the only girl who might have loved him, disability or no.
Artie was jealous of the fact that Tina was normal. The 'stutter' she had was an adopted ruse to avoid public speaking, and when she'd revealed this to him, he'd been beyond angry. But mostly, he'd been jealous. Tina's stutter was false- she had no disability, no cross to bear. She'd been heavily affected by it one day, but the next she could just make it vanish, as if it had never existed in the first place (and it hadn't). That made Artie's blood boil and water build behind his eyes. If she could selectively choose to have a disability, why couldn't he? Where was his reprieve? Where was his mercy? And what gave her the right to fake something so serious? Who'd given her clearance to act like some unsung hero, struggling through life, as if hers was so hard? Who really gave a damn if she was 'shy'? She should've just sucked it up and dealt with it like everybody else, rather than taking the lazy cheater's way out and concocting an ailment for herself.
And so, because of Tina's insensitivity and lies, Artie was incredibly jealous. As soon as she let the cat out of the bag, he erected a wall against her; she'd never hurt him again. Still, he was so hurt by her dishonesty that he fired off a quick email to Quinn after ditching Tina in the school hallway to sulk or stomp around in her combat boots or do whatever it was that deceitful people did. The email read: 'She made a mistake', followed by a sad emoticon.
Artie figured out what Quinn's 'mistake' was when everyone else did- much as she tried to hide the baby bump, it was not something she could conceal forever- Quinn realized the error of Tina's ways when she noticed that the girl was no longer stuttering, and Artie chose to sit on the opposite side of the room from her. They never spoke of these things but both felt sore on the other's behalf; Artie was angry that Puck had corrupted Quinn (he'd figured out that the baby was not Finn's before Finn himself) and Quinn was in a rage over Tina being a 'faker'. How she could lead everyone- but especially Artie- on like that was despicable.
Their similarities continued. It wasn't just a longing for the past and life-altering spasms of all-encompassing jealousy that made them the same. They both struggled to survive.
Quinn learned the meaning of 'struggle' when seven damned pregnancy tests confirmed the worst with a plus sign. Before that, she'd always had it easy, well, easy enough. Her parents were wealthy, she was pampered, her only real expectation was to stay pure until married, unlike half of her cousins, who'd dropped out of school to suckle illegitimate children. But as soon as she got official confirmation from a doctor- her eggo really was preggo- her life's struggle really started. She could no longer wrap herself in overindulgent stresses: was her zit too big, was she thin enough, did her hair fall in just the right way? Now she had bigger, adult things to worry about: when was her next ultrasound? Where was she going to hide her prenatal vitamins so her mother didn't see them? How would she pay for all of the doctor's appointments? What would she do with her baby after it was born? Most of those questions answered themselves in time- she didn't have to worry about her mother accidentally stumbling upon her vitamins because she didn't even get the chance to take them out of her purse before her parents found out. They'd kicked her out of the house, practically disowned her as their daughter. Finn had gotten a part-time job to help pay for the doctor's appointments, and Mrs. Hudson paid the bulk of the medical expenses. And Quinn had made the decision, on her own, to surrender her baby to Terri Schuester. While the woman creeped her out, Will Schuester, Terri's husband and the glee instructor, would be a superb dad. And every baby needed a daddy.
After her pregnancy became evident, Quinn struggled not only with nourishing the life inside of her, but finding her new place in the school hierarchy. Everything had changed since she joined Glee, and as her due date approached, she realized that it could only continue to change, just when things started to settle they'd be thrown into chaos again. It didn't help that after Finn found out the baby was not his, he backed off completely (though she still caught him staring at her longingly, even while Rachel prattled his ear off) and Puck had no interest in being the 'family man'. Which was kind of funny, because Quinn distinctly remembered him promising her more than once that they could make their situation work out- they could be happy, a family- but she saw how false these pretty words were every time he swaggered up to Santana or flicked his eyebrows at the butt of a ferocious cougar.
Artie had known struggle from the time he was eight; when most kids were climbing the highest tree in the community park and joining little league baseball and running around, he was stuck in a wheelchair, in rehab. At first, because he'd been so small, the reality of his situation had not yet hit him and he'd thought it was kind of cool; he was in a chair, he was different, and Becky Swanson, the cutest girl in third grade had even complimented him on his "wheels". But as he got older and the gentle naivety of childhood wore off, he was forced to realize that being different did not mean that he was special, chosen for some greater purpose. It just meant that he wouldn't get to sign up for the baseball spring league or the soccer summer league. It meant he wouldn't be getting invited to the first ever 'house party' thrown by Puck in the seventh grade, where everybody got bombed and came to school blabbering about it on Monday. It meant he wouldn't be going to the eighth grade dance, or any other subsequent events which required the usage of the legs. It meant he was a freak.
Quinn's struggle was sudden, Artie's gradual. But by the time Quinn's baby boy Zachary Arthur Fabray was born, both were used to forging their way through the unthinkable. But sometimes- sometimes there were spots of sunshine mixed in with all of the heartache. Like that one lunch period, two months before Quinn was due, when Artie agreed to sit with her and pore over baby name books to help her find a name for her baby daughter (she was beyond surprised when her son was born to be a boy, and not the lovely little girl she'd envisioned). She chose the name Zachary because it meant 'God remembers' and she chose the middle name 'Arthur' as a tribute to Artie, who was the first of the glee clubbers (after Puck) to see little Zachary. The baby was one of the good things to emerge from struggle, they both silently agreed upon this looking at his pudgy, wrinkled-up face. Quinn knew she'd do anything she could for her son, Artie came to the startling realization that he would, too, even though the child was not his own.
As they grew from high school students to adults, they learned many more things along the way. But perhaps the most valuable lesson that either had learned was love. Both knew what it felt like to love unconditionally, to have your heart shattered (by Finn, Puck, and Tina respectively) but they also knew what it was like to fall in love again. To see a person as if you're looking at them with brand new eyes, to appreciate their strengths and their weaknesses, their flaws and their good points, with the same amount of love.
They were both 21 when a six-year-old Zachary, acting as the ring bearer at his mother's first (and hopefully only) wedding, walked up and relinquished the wedding bands to the handsome groom.
"Take care of Mommy, Daddy," the six-year-old whispered in a way that probably would have been stern if it wasn't so cute. Artie let a hint of a chuckle escape, ruffling the boy's dark hair as he and Quinn accepted the rings. When his new wife kissed him, making fireworks explode behind his eyelids while the whole church clapped, Artie knew what it was like to be so happy he could float away. And he knew that she knew what it was like to be that way, too.
I started this a long time ago, and didn't intend for it to end up the way it did, but I think it's alright that way. What did you guys think? On a side note, I'm so happy Glee is back! Rachel's rendition of "Gives You Hell" was great, as was Finn's version of "Hello, I Love You". Does anybody else think that Jonathan Groff looks a bit like Asher Book (in Fame)? I'm a little bit sad that they didn't have more Artie in the episode, but hopefully he'll be featured in the future. I should probably cut this off now, since I still have homework to do (there just isn't enough time in the day). Tell me what you guys honestly thought, or just leave a comment about Glee :D