A/N: So, this is part of the Expect The Unexpected series I'm working on, which is, frankly, exactly what it sounds like. As part of my everlasting quest to defy any and all possible cliches, something completely unfathomable occurs with one member of the Glee club in each fic of the series. The goal? To have each character (even Matt and Mike, poor underfed pups) so far out of their league, but still remain in character. This is installment number six, but none of them are connected plot-wise, so there aren't any prequels you have to read for any of them. Some will be tragic, some scary, some mysterious, some humorous. Enough jabber - please enjoy!
None of the Gleeks were sure how they'd expected the club's end-of-the-year party to go, but they certainly hadn't expected this.
It was the end of senior year for the football boys in the club, plus Quinn and Santana (Brittany had been held back), and they had won Nationals, resulting in the last few weeks of school consisting mostly of parties at the various Gleeks' houses. Once classes had finished, Mr. Schue invited them for a final celebratory bash, but after hearing that Finn had wrecked the Hudson-Hummel flatscreen while trying and failing to imitate one of Mike's dance moves, he'd decided that allowing a dozen rowdy teens into his home was not in the best interests of his furniture or his wallet. So instead, he'd borrowed a school bus and driven them all to the Twin Lakes Campground about twenty miles outside the Lima city limits for a day at the beach, complete with barbecue.
When they arrived, the boys (minus Kurt and Artie) tumbled off the bus and immediately tore off their shirts, running into the lake without hesitation. They disappeared beneath the surface and came up whooping and howling as the cold water raised goosebumps on their skin. Brittany then wandered off the bus asking where the pool was (apparently she'd only been told that they were going swimming; the lake had not been mentioned), closely followed by Santana, grumbling that she hated swimming in non-chlorinated water because, really, who actually knew how many microscopic life forms lived in naturally-formed bodies of water? Quinn and Tina waited patiently by the bus as Artie descended on the handicap platform and Mr. Schue enlisted Rachel, Mercedes, and Kurt's help in unloading the coolers of food. Miss Pillsbury, who had tagged along at Mr. Schue's request, delicately stepped off the bus and teetered on her heels for a minute before going over to the picnic table and scrubbing it down with some cleaners she'd pulled out of the mysterious depths of her bag. Once the food was all unpacked, Mr. Schue changed into his bathing suit and dove in, joining the jocks in a game of water polo. Santana, Brittany, and Quinn (having shed the extra weight left over from pregnancy) all stripped down to their bikinis and lay sunbathing on their towels while Artie and Tina, who had exchanged her heavy goth getup for faded cutoffs and a black camisole, were engrossed in what Artie predicted was going to be "the most epic sandcastle ever". When Kurt emerged from behind the bus wearing a surprisingly normal bathing suit, the boys in the water erupted into laughter. Kurt huffed and demanded to know what was so funny.
Puck wiped tears – tears! – from his eyes, suppressing his laughter for long enough to say, "Nothing, we – we just expected something frilly or a Speedo or something."
Kurt's jaw dropped in astonishment. "I wouldn't be caught dead in a Speedo!"
Once the amusement had finally worn off, Kurt gingerly waded in; however, the water level had only reached his knees when Mike and Finn decided he was taking too long and forcibly engaged him in a violent splash war. Kurt yelped and complained that he hadn't intended on getting his hair wet. Puck paddled in a circle around him on his back, spitting a shoot of water directly into Kurt's face before disappearing beneath the surface and popping up fifteen feet away, cackling. Kurt finally gave up and dove all the way in, explaining that he didn't have to go anywhere public that day and he could always add another fifteen minutes to his nighttime skin care routine anyways.
Things began to get violent when Santana caved and joined the boys in the water, which in turn led to a game of chicken at Puck's suggestion. Mr. Schue was named referee for what had been dubbed the Battle of the Cheerios and with Kurt atop Finn's shoulders and Santana atop Puck's, the fight began. Five minutes later, Santana was coughing up water and Kurt was deemed the winner, which he cheekily attributed to his "oddly male physique" before challenging Quinn to another round, which led to a tournament between all the cheerleaders in the club. Surprisingly enough, Brittany was the only one able to knock Kurt back into the water, and was subsequently named the victor.
Shaking his head and laughing, Mr. Schue returned to the shoreline to fire up the grill as the swimmers began another round of water polo (Mike was placed on the girls' team to make the numbers even). Miss Pillsbury, refusing to go anywhere near the germ-infested lake, relaxed in her seat at the picnic table, primly nibbling on a celery stick and making conversation with Mr. Schue. Their small talk was interrupted by a shriek and they looked up to see that Mike had emerged from the water to snatch Tina from where she sat with Artie next to their sandcastle. He'd thrown her over his shoulder and was now striding back towards the water and she was shrieking and beating him on the back with clenched fists.
"Michael Chang, you put me down right now! Put me down!" she yelped. "Dammit, put me DOWN!"
Artie couldn't get up (he'd climbed down out of his chair to sit on the sand), but his eyes widened and he shouted, "Stop it, Mike! Put her down!"
Mike stopped inches from the waterline and placed her back on her feet. "Okay, okay. Sorry." He gave an apologetic shrug.
She huffed. "Thank you," she snapped before stepping back in Artie's direction.
However, Puck didn't seem to get the Tina-doesn't-like-water message and he picked up where Mike left off, tossing Tina over his shoulder like a rag doll and ignoring her frantic protests and Artie's threats that grew more colorful by the second. Mr. Schue finally got it through his gelled hair that Artie and Tina were being more serious than a simple desire to stay dry would warrant, and he realized that Tina actually had a real problem with being in the water. But before he could step in and tell Puck to knock it off, the jock had launched Tina through the air and she disappeared beneath the surface with a tremendous splash.
"You bastard!" Artie shouted, red in the face.
Puck stopped laughing and turned around, confused by Artie's outburst. "Man, take a chillaxative or something—"
"She can't swim!"
Puck (as well as all the other kids) froze, the grin slowly sliding off his face. He turned his gaze back to the water – the ripples were beginning to fade, and Tina hadn't come back up. Matt, Kurt, and Finn, all of whom were still in the water, immediately dove for the place where she'd gone under as Puck, Mike, and Mr. Schue all ran in as well.
"Where is she?"
"She's not here!"
"What the hell, it's not even that deep!"
As the boys and Mr. Schue combed the water, Mercedes, Rachel, and Quinn joined Artie, standing with their hands over their mouths as they waited for Tina to turn up. Artie was rigid, his eyes scanning the water for any sign of her, Brittany looked bewildered (old news), but even Santana looked freaked. Miss Pillsbury had lurched to her feet and was standing like a deer in headlights, her hands over her mouth as she muttered "Ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod," repeatedly under her breath.
Mike suddenly let out a yell and fell into the water as if he'd tripped, and he came up spluttering. "What the hell was that?" he cried.
He opened his mouth to answer, but then Puck also yelled and jumped back. "What the fuck! There's something down there!"
Kurt's eyes grew wider. "What do you mean, there's something down there?" he shrieked.
"I mean something big and something alive," Puck said. He flinched back another few inches. "Fuck! I felt it again! What the hell is that!"
The boys bolted out of the water, closely followed by Mr. Schue who rummaged through his backpack and dug up his cell phone to call the park authorities.
Below the rippling surface of the water, Tina could hear their frightened shouts, and she decided that Puck was an asshole. But what else was new? She sighed and swam close to the bottom, taking care not to go near the top. She hadn't meant to brush by Puck and Mike's legs, but they were crowding in and she hadn't been allowed a lot of room to get away. She mentally slapped herself for not scratching or biting or kicking Puck in the goddamn balls – anything as long as she didn't end up in the water.
But now that she was, she had a problem to solve. She paddled along the shoreline (not too close) until the shouts and arguing had faded, and then popped her head up quickly, looking back in the direction she'd come from. She could see the Glee clubbers on the shore, but she was far enough away so that she didn't call attention, and none of them had seen her. Good.
Dipping back underwater, she swam further for another ten minutes before resurfacing and paddling towards the shoreline. Here, far away from the campground beach, the water's edge was lined with twisted roots and dead tree matter and she grimaced as she pushed away a clump of lily pads. Placing her hands on the pine needle-carpeted shoreline, she grunted and hauled herself forward, pulling herself so that she was lying half in the water and half on land. She reached forward again and grabbed onto a thick root sticking out of the soil, pulling as hard as she could until she was no longer in lake.
As she pulled, what followed her out of the water would have made even Puck shriek like a girl, and she decided that waiting there until she was dry was the best thing she could do. It wasn't like she could walk back to the beach, after all, and if she swam back she would have a bit of a hard time explaining the whole I-have-a-tail thing. She could see it now – Hi, guys. No, don't worry, I can breathe underwater. Puck, I am not going to "solve the mermaid problem" with you.
She coughed as if she'd swallowed something gross, muttering under her breath. "I hate freshwater."
A/N: Please leave a review and tell me what you think of it. If you enjoyed it and are interested in the concept of this series, add me to Author Alert to be notified when the other installments in the series are posted. So far, Brittany's, Santana's, Kurt's, Mercedes' and Puck's are posted - please check them out.
Quick side note: The "mermaid problem" I referenced is a real thing. It has a Wikipedia page. Look it up and be ready to laugh :D