"And it's tap, tap, shuffle, tap. Pivot, two three four. Tap, tap, shuffle, tap."
Mike repeated the sequence with ease, and as he landed the last tap, he gave Tina a goofy look and some seriously exaggerated jazz hands.
Tina laughed. "You're such a doofus. I don't even know why you wanted the extra practice, you don't need it. It looks great."
Mike shrugged. "I guess I figured better safe than sorry. I didn't want to let you down. It's gonna be a great number."
Tina nodded, sighing as her mind wandered elsewhere, as it was prone to lately.
Did I push him too hard? I shouldn't have convinced him to do a dance number with me. I should have known better…
"Yoohoo! Earth to Tina." Mike's cheery voice broke through her reverie.
"Sorry. I was just…anyway, it's not important. Should we take it from the top?" Tina blushed, a little nervous at Mike's piercing eyes staring at her.
"Are you OK? I mean…you seem distracted. Like you're not really here. Look, I know we're not close, but…"
Tina laughed bitterly. 'You're right. I am distracted. I just keep thinking I ruined it all. Again."
She sat down at the piano and banged her head lightly against the keys. "I'm an idiot, Mike."
He joined her on the piano bench and awkwardly put his arm around her. "You want to talk about it? I'm not as dumb as I look. I know something's been bothering you."
After a few moments of silence, broken only by Tina's muffled sobs, Mike continued hesitantly. "Does this have anything to do with Artie?"
Mike took Tina's fresh round of tears as a yes.
"I found out his dream was to be a dancer. So I tried to be supportive in the WORST way possible, like the ass that I am. I actually choreographed this tap number for me and Artie. I actually convinced him that there was a cure...for his condition…and I got his hopes up." She paused, a shuddering breath escaping her body.
"The fact is, he isn't going to be able to walk again. And I shouldn't have pushed him. I shouldn't have shown him all that research and gotten his hopes up."
She turned to face Mike, angrily wiping at the tears pooling in her eyes, dragging inky streaks of mascara across her face. "It killed me. It killed me to have to say your name. I don't…I mean…you're a great dancer Mike…it's just…I wanted…him and me, to have that moment under the spotlight, together. I let my own crazy dreams overtake reality. I was so selfish, and now Artie is hurting. He says he's OK, but how can he be?"
Mike rummaged around in his pocket and fished out a crumpled tissue. "Hey, you're not selfish. You tried to make his dream come true, from what I can tell. It's just…as much as I hate to admit it, there's some truth in what that douche Bryan Ryan said – not all dreams are achievable."
Tina nodded "I know. I knew, I mean. I knew that it was a long shot. I just wanted it so badly…and I thought if I wanted it badly enough, it would happen. Silly, naïve Tina."
"I get that. You look out for him. And you want him to have everything he wants. So, this time, it didn't go so well. Thing is, he'll find another dream, and you'll be right there, supporting him. He's a lucky dude."
Tina smiled a small, wan smile. "Thanks. You're…surprisingly intuitive."
Mike laughed. "Chalk it up to having two baby sisters. You become pretty good at dealing with fashion issues, boy problems, you name it, I've probably heard it."
Tina smiled again, this time a little bigger.
Who would have thought that I'd be confiding in Mike Chang, jock and heartbreaker, of all people? Scratch that. Who would have thought he'd be such a good listener?
"Three baby sisters. Don't think I'm going to stop harassing you with my scary girl tears and boy problems now. You're good."
Mike chuckled and held out his hand to her. "Three it is. Now, whaddya say, Tina? One more time?"
But in your dreams,
Whatever they be,
Dream a little dream of me.
Artie watched as Mike dipped Tina elegantly as he finished the last note in the song. He couldn't quite ignore the dull ache in his chest, but it was soon overtaken by a huge burst of pride.
She's really, really good.
His Tina had choreographed that beautiful dance number. It was simply, breathtaking. Different from the big group songs they usually did and it had a lot more heart than the flashy dance numbers that Vocal Adrenaline churned out.
If Mr. Schue would let them do it as their breakout number, Artie knew it would blow the judges away.
"Hey, Artie." Tina's sweet, hesitant voice broke into his thoughts. He looked up to see that most of the glee club had left the auditorium.
"Tina- that was really, really great. You looked…" Artie swallowed the lump in his throat. Why do I still get so tongue-tied around her?
Tina blushed a bright shade of pink. "You think so?" She paused for a moment, and then stammered "Are you…OK, with, you know…Mike?"
Artie nodded slowly. "I won't say that I didn't wish it was me dancing with you. But I am OK, Tina. Trust me. I get to sing the song for you guys, that's good enough for me. Not to mention, I'm the one who actually gets to kiss you," he finished with a wink.
Tina laughed. "It's true. You do get to kiss me." She bent down and planted a quick kiss on his lips. Artie pulled her face closer and deepened the kiss before she could break away.
"But seriously, You and Mike did a really good job. And I think Mr. Schue really liked it too. Hell, even Rachel was surprisingly complimentary. She did say that she couldn't believe it, but that we were actually capable of expressing genuine emotion through song." Artie said, chuckling.
Tina grinned. "Give yourself some credit too. Your voice made the piece. We are a glee club, you know. The dancing is a nice bonus, but your singing is what's going to win us this trophy."
"Pshaw, woman. You knew I'd bring it. Didn't I tell you I'd be amazing?"
Tina laughed heartily, and swatted at Artie's shoulder. "Your head is huge. I don't know why I put up with you."
"Because I can give you a ride home, that's why." Artie said, patting his lap invitingly.
Tina smiled, and with a quick peck on his cheek, she settled into his lap, holding her bookbag in her lap. Artie wheeled them out of the auditorium and towards the door, relishing the feel of her body leaning against his chest, the scent of her shampoo, the look on her face as she looped her free arm around his neck, smiling widely at him.
In that moment, he realized that he never wanted to be without her.
Now, that's a dream I can make come true.