"All right," Mr. Schuester clapped his hands as they finished singing, a smile breaking across his face. "Great work, guys. It sounds fantastic. Think we're ready to work in some choreography?"
Rachel hopped out of her seat instantly, jabbering away already. "Yes, I believe I speak for everyone when I say that this number will certainly help us win our second consecutive Sectionals, so we have to start practicing every aspect immediately. A song like this favors an upbeat, energetic, but old-timey routine to accompany it, something I, with my extensive training in all areas of dance, can easily take the lead in."
"That sounds great, Rachel, but I think Mike had something to say?"
Indeed he did. Mike had raised his hand as soon as Rachel had started speaking, knowing better than to try to talk over her. So he sat patiently and waited his turn, hand waving in the air until Mr. Schuester noticed and nodded at him, telling him he would get his chance.
Rachel turned to face him, surprised. But he wasn't about to let her intimidate him. He had spent all night thinking about this song.
"Yeah, actually, I was gonna offer to help. I have an idea for the song. Might be stupid, but..." He trailed away, never one for words.
"No, no, come on, let's see," Mr. Schuester was obviously enthusiastic about his offer to take the lead. Mike rarely did that sort of thing on his own; every number he had helped with in the past had taken some serious prodding.
Ignoring Rachel's insulted look, Mike stood up and walked to the front of the room. Just play it cool, act like you haven't been thinking about this all week...
"Right. Everyone pair up. Uh... let's see... Finn and Rachel, obviously," Rachel had already walked over to stand next to Finn, "Puck and Quinn, Artie and Tina," just put everyone with the person they wanted, and nobody would think twice, "Mercedes and Matt, Brittany and..."she had already locked pinkies with the other girl, how perfect! "...Santana, and... Kurt with me."
He watched as Kurt's face flushed and a couple others did double takes. As predicted, Rachel was the one who said something.
"Mike, I believe you've failed to notice that the boy/girl ratio in this club is even, meaning there is no need for you to be paired up with Kurt. Any variety in pairs will distract from the message of the song, distract from our talent as a club."
"No, it's fine," Mike tried to shrug it away as a coincidence.
"But anything that takes away from continuity and general unity is disastrous for a show choir!" Rachel insisted.
"No, really, it's fine," Mike shot back. "I paired everyone up like this for a reason. If you'll take a second to actually notice, I put you all with the person you learn best from." Please don't make a comment about how I should have put myself with Matt. "You each complement the other in ways random pairings could never hope to do. Trust me on this."
That shut Rachel up, but it made Kurt quirk an eyebrow in that annoyingly adorable way he had perfected. Mike tried not to blush when Kurt came over to stand next to him, tried not to look too guilty. He was probably failing, because his cheeks felt hot and his stomach was already doing backflips.
"Right, just watch me and Kurt. This is what I had in mind for the instrumental part."
Mike took Kurt's hand in his own, spinning him around so they were facing each other. His other hand went to Kurt's waist, trusting that the other boy would be smart enough to put his free hand on Mike's shoulder. He hadn't expected the smirk and the comment that went along with it.
"So I'm the girl?" Kurt teased, smirk still in place.
"If you want to put it that way, yeah," Mike's answer came out just a bit too breathless for someone who hadn't moved yet. Kurt raised an eyebrow again, but he put his hand on Mike's shoulder anyway. Mike, who was finding it increasingly more difficult to look Kurt in the eye, turned his head so he was looking at Mr. Schuester instead.
"Can we get the music?" he asked, and Mr. Schue obliged.
"Ready?" he turned back to Kurt, grinning.
"Ready, Other Asian," Kurt said in a light, sarcastic tone that showed he was joking. With his grin still in place, Mike increased the pressure on Kurt's waist, steering him into the open space and leading him in a fast-paced but simple ballroom-esque routine. Their hands started slipping in each other's grips near the end, getting sweaty from the unusual, constant hold. They almost let go of each other when Mike spun Kurt around the last time, bringing him back in so he was tucked neatly into his side.
Both boys were slightly out of breath by the end, instantly releasing each other's hands. Mike's face was tinged pink - and not just from the dancing - and he couldn't help but feel a little smug when he saw the surprised looks on everyone's faces.
"What, did you think I was all hip-hop and no class?" he asked with a laugh, shrugging and looking over at Mr. Schuester for approval.
"Very good, bravo," Mr. Schue was smiling, surprise evident on his face as well. "Why don't you teach everyone else the basics and we'll call it a day, hmm?"
"Sounds good to me," Mike turned back to the rest of the club, smile fixed on his face. He held out his hand to Kurt, asking, "Again? With everyone else following?"
"Whatever you say, Other Asian," Kurt's smile was playful and his tone friendly.
"Get over here, Gay Kid," Mike laughed, taking hold of Kurt's hand and spinning him around in a full circle before pulling him back into their starting position. Mike could feel the stares of the entire club, could feel the confusion in the room, but he just shrugged again, saying, "Everyone into position."
The rest of the club obeyed, mirroring his and Kurt's stance with their appointed partners. Mike cast an apologetic look over at Artie and Tina, saying, "I didn't work anything out for you yet, Artie, sorry. I'll have it for you by tomorrow, promise."
"I'm holding you to that, Other Asian," Artie pointed a finger, his brow creasing but his lips spread in a smile.
"Count on it, Wheels," Mike grinned back before turning his attention back onto Kurt. He squeezed Kurt's hand, tapping his foot in time with the now nonexistent music, slowing his tapping until it was at a much slower, manageable pace. "Ready, everyone following us, two three..."
He was instantly hit with how much more intimate this felt now that they were going so slow. With the slower pace came prolonged periods of them standing close together, and Mike found that he was unable to keep eye contact for every long. Under the guise of checking how the rest of the club were doing, Mike kept looking away from Kurt and around the room.
The last spin was easy, now that they'd already done it and Mike knew just how Kurt felt nestled beside him. Holding the smaller boy there, he looked around at the rest of the club, pretending to examine how they had done.
"Good?" he asked, still keeping Kurt tucked at his side, though most of the club had already let go of their partners.
"It needs work," Rachel decided, "but it was good."
That was good enough for him. With another grin that had nothing to do with getting Rachel Berry's stamp of approval, Mike spun Kurt around again, releasing him as Mr. Schuester dismissed them.
"So explain something to me," Kurt asked him as the rest of the club started packing up and leaving, "why did you end up choosing me as your partner?"
"What?" Mike looked at him, cheeks flushing red and hoping that Kurt wasn't about to point out the obvious.
"I mean, Finn with Rachel and Puck with Quinn and Artie with Tina were obvious, but if you were gonna go for people that worked will with each other, then why not put me with Mercedes?" A small laugh escaped his lips, and he added, "Was it because we 'complement' each other?" He finger-quoted Mike's previously used term.
"Maybe," Mike tried to avoid the question. He'd hoped it would have answered itself. He'd put all the couples - and those that were basically couples anyway - together for a reason. They were singing Sinatra, one of the greatest and most romantic singers of all time, so it made sense that he would pair himself up with Kurt. Wasn't that how you showed someone you liked him? Dance with him? He'd hoped it would have been obvious.
"Were you being the middle-man?" Kurt asked, going over to pick up his bag. "Is Other Asian playing middle-man for Shaft?"
"Not exactly," Mike shifted uncomfortably. He wasn't a words kind of person. He was a dancer, and dancers express themselves through that which they know best: dance.
"Come on," Kurt was coming back over now, mischief written all over his face. "We could have done it together if you'd told me. Gay Kid and Other Asian, playing middle-man for their respective best friends. Would've been fun."
"Yeah, I guess it would've," Mike shrugged. There was a pause, then he asked, "Doesn't it bother you?"
"What?" Kurt quirked an eyebrow.
"Your nickname. Gay Kid. Doesn't it ever bother you?"
Kurt adjusted the strap on his bag, tugging it higher on his shoulder, obviously thinking. "No... not really, at least. I mean, it's accurate, isn't it? I'm a gay kid. I mean, sure, there's more to me than that, but as long as it's my friends using it, then what's the big deal? You're Asian and I'm gay. They're accurate."
"Probably should change mine, then," Mike shrugged. "Gasian, more like."
"What?" It was Kurt's turn to be at a loss for words.
"Gasian. You know, gay Asian?" Mike felt his face heat up again. "I thought a smart kid like you would have figured it out. I wasn't playing middle-man for Matt. I was being my own middle-man, in a sense."
Kurt's eyebrow rose again, obviously surprised and not entirely sure how he was supposed to react. So Mike did it for him, closing the distance between them and reaching out to take Kurt's hand again.
"Come on, Gay Kid, Gasian wants your input on his choreo. What did you think?"
Kurt's fingers tightened around Mike's and a grin broke across his face. "I think I kind of love Sinatra."