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 seven, 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!
Mind Over Matter
The choir room was unoccupied on Friday afternoon except for the Glee club's two resident Asians, standing in the middle of the floor. Tina was concentrating hard on the way Mike's feet were moving, trying to figure out how to mimic them without looking like a total klutz. It was truly amazing how clumsy she could manage to be even after replacing her clunky combat boots with tap shoes. The meeting had started out with Tina showing Mike the steps she'd come up with to accompany Artie's voice for Dream A Little Dream, but being the hyperactive dancer that he was Mike insisted on improving them, and the session had quickly turned into a lesson.
"Too fast?" Mike asked.
She sighed, nodding sheepishly.
He grinned reassuringly. "Don't worry about it. Here, watch." He went through the last few steps again, more slowly, and again, she attempted to copy them.
"You got it!" Mike exclaimed, holding up his hand for a high five. She slapped it, a dubious expression on her face.
"It still feels awkward," she said.
Mike shrugged. "Looked fine to me. Should we practice going into the waltz?"
"Sure." Tina still felt a little uneasy about dancing with Mike despite the fact that Artie had reluctantly urged her in that direction, but she wasn't about to voice her concerns to Mike. It was between her and Artie, and her and Artie alone.
Mike seemed to pick up on her hesitance as soon as he grabbed her hand and looped an arm around her lower back, though, and he said as much. "Something wrong?" They weren't exactly close, but the fact that he was touching her was making her a little uncomfortable.
"It's just…" she started, avoiding his expectant look. "I'd never be able to do this with Artie."
As soon as she'd said it, she regretted it, but Mike took it in stride. His brow furrowed in friendly concern. "And…you're worried 'cause you think he might be jealous?"
Tina didn't think he'd be jealous, she knew he'd be jealous. But rather than admit Artie's private feelings to her new, able-bodied dance partner, she bit her lip and merely shrugged.
"Didn't you say that Artie told you that you should pick someone else to dance with?" Mike said.
"Then what are you worried about?" Mike asked, breaking into a lopsided smile. "Artie's a reasonable guy; after all, it's not like you're going behind his back. He's not gonna freak out on you like Finn did with Babygate."
She sighed. Mike did have a point, but she couldn't shake the feeling that there was something Artie was holding back from her. "Okay," she finally said.
Mike grinned. "Okay, you ready? Watch my feet. It's one, two, three, and one, two, three, and…"
Slowly but surely, Mike waltzed her around the room, keeping the beat and making sure her feet were following his. Amidst his gently-encouraging comments and light coaching, Tina wondered why Mike was on the football team rather than in groups like Rachel's ballet club or McKinley's lesser-known street dance club. Gradually, they gained speed, working their way up to what Mike had dubbed a "leaping waltz", with more bounce in each step and a slightly different beat. She squeaked in surprise when Mike suddenly twirled her under his arm before looping his arm back around her torso and picking up the dance again without missing so much as a step. Eventually, the dance ended as Mike, caught up in the movement, bowed over, holding Tina nearly horizontal in the final flourish.
He grinned down at her. "You're a good dancer," he said.
She rolled her eyes dismissively, but laughed, now more at ease. Mike was right – Artie wasn't going to freak out on her. Whatever problems he had with her choice of dance partner they could solve on their own time.
"So what do you think?" Mike asked. "Good for Regionals?"
"Definitely," she said. "All we have to worry about now is me falling."
Mike laughed and was about to reply, but an angry voice interrupted him from the doorway.
"What the hell."
The second Tina saw Artie, she jumped away from Mike as if he'd electrocuted her, painfully aware that Artie had seen the two of them in a position that could only be described as romantic.
"What the hell!" Artie repeated, louder. He was looking back and forth between the two of them, demanding an explanation.
"Artie, man—" Mike started.
Tina stopped him with a slight shake of her head. "Artie," she said. "We were just working on our dance routine, okay? It's not what it looks like."
It was clear from Artie's expression that he wasn't buying it. Tina could see his fingers curling.
"Artie, you told me—"
"That you could do the dance with Mike!" he finished furiously. "The dance that we rehearsed! And if I remember our dance right, it had nothing to do with my hands being all over you!"
The last statement was uttered with so much ferocity that Tina reflexively took a step back.
"Hey!" Mike cut in. "Artie, you know Tina and I are just friends." Tina nodded fervently in agreement.
"It didn't look like it," Artie growled, and Tina could almost hear his teeth clicking. His fingers were clamped around his push rims, the knuckles white. A tendon in his neck twitched.
Suddenly, the tension in the room was shattered with the sound of breaking glass, then tinkling as shards rained down and scattered across the floor. Tina and Mike jumped in surprise. Artie didn't so much as blink. One of the glass panels in the bank of storage cupboards behind the piano had blown out as if it had been smashed from the inside with a baseball bat, and before Tina and Mike had time to react, the pane beside it also exploded. Tina yelped. "What the—" Mike whispered.
The next three cupboard doors blew out in rapid succession, causing Tina to scream and edge closer to Mike. Then the glass panes in the choir room doors simultaneously exploded. Then the line of windows above the risers. Mike yelled and leaped back, pulling Tina with him as shards of glass scattered dangerously close to their feet.
"What the hell?" Mike cried, his eyes wide.
The two Asians flinched – both had nearly forgotten that Artie was there. They turned around slowly to find that Artie was watching them with an even stare.
"Artie…" Tina whispered, her breath hitching in her throat. Then, Artie did something that nearly made her heart stop altogether.
Movement to his left drew Tina's horrified gaze away from him, and she felt her throat close up when she saw that the millions of glass shards were suspended, rising in the air and glinting in the light. A quick glance behind them showed that the glass on the risers was doing the same.
And Artie was still smirking.
A split second before the glass hovering all around the room shot inward, Mike grabbed Tina and wrapped his arms around her, covering up as much of her as his lanky frame would cover. He let out a pained cry when the razor-sharp slivers tore through both his clothes and skin, and Tina felt his body jerk upon impact. She was more fortunate than him – her layers of black clothing shielded her from even the largest pieces, but when Mike let go of her, looking green in the face, she shrieked as she saw thousands of tiny cuts all of his arms, back, legs, even the sides of his face.
"Oh, my God," was all she managed to say. She turned back to Artie, her expression of absolute terror.
Artie only raised his eyebrows in what appeared to be mild amusement.
Mike stumbled slightly, dizzy. "What – what the fuck are you doing?" he hissed. "How are you doing this?"
"When you can't walk or run, you have to compensate in other ways," Artie said simply. "Even cripples can have the upper hand sometimes."
"Oh, my God," Tina said again, feeling light in the head. She would not have a panic attack now.
Mike looked just as dizzy. All the cuts on his body were bleeding, some more freely than others, and most of them still had glass inside. He felt like he'd been shoved through a window, and the fact that Tina's boyfriend was smirking at him was more than a little unsettling.
"Artie, please…" Tina whispered. "What – whatever you're doing…please don't."
"No, you know what?" Artie snapped. "I'm sick of being the jilted guy, okay? I'm sick of it."
"Jilted?" Tina cried. "Artie, we were just dancing, please!"
"Don't!" Artie yelled, and the fluorescent lights on the ceiling gave under the pressure, showering them in sparks and more glass.
At that, Mike decided he'd had enough. He grabbed Tina's arm and pulled her along as he bolted from the choir room. He didn't bother to take note of Artie's expression as they fled, and as soon as they emerged into the hall, a locker on the opposite wall exploded, the door slamming open and the contents flying out. He spun on his heel and dragged Tina down the corridor, the taps of their tap shoes impossible to hear beneath the noise of clanging metal and crashing books as each locker in turn blew out as they passed.
"In here! In here!" Mike yanked on her arm and pulled her through the door to the auditorium.
It was dark and silent in the auditorium after the door swung shut behind them, and they just stood for several seconds, breathing hard. Tina's hands were shaking and Mike dropped dizzily into one of the audience seats, looking like he was about to be sick.
"What…what d-do we do?" Tina stammered.
Mike was bleeding and he was out of breath and he was scared shitless – he had no idea what was going on or how Artie was causing shit to blow up, but he did know and he did understand that Artie was pissed, and Artie was pissed at him. And after what he'd just run through, he was not up for being on the Wheelchair Kid's bad side. "I don't think your boyfriend likes me very much," he said under his breath, and the message beneath it screamed HOW THE FUCK DID YOU NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS.
"W-what do w-we do?" Tina repeated.
"I don't know."
She hugged her torso, seeming to shrink at least two sizes smaller. "Y-you don't think h-h-he'll follow us, do you?"
Mike said nothing, and they just sat and tried to figure out what the hell had just happened.
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, Tina's, Kurt's, Mercedes' and Puck's are posted - please check them out.