Mind Over Matter
Tina was sitting slumped in one of the chairs across from Figgins' desk, her makeup smudged, her clothes damp and glass shards stuck in her wet hair. She was fidgeting in her seat, squirming and wanting to leave. She'd been waiting for almost ten minutes, and she wanted nothing more than to go home.
The door opened behind her, and Mr. Schue entered, followed by Principal Figgins. "Tina, are you all right?" Mr. Schue asked, sinking into the chair next to her, a hand on her forearm.
She only nodded in response, avoiding his gaze.
"Now, Miss Cohen-Chang," Figgins said, sitting behind his desk and leaning on his elbows. "Tell us what happened."
She swallowed before opening her mouth. "I – I don't really know, exactly, but, uh…" She fiddled with one of the safety pins in her sleeve. "A-all the equipment came down, and the fire sprinkles went off, and – and Artie just…just stopped moving— I don't know what happened—"
"Tina," Mr. Schue cut in, squeezing her arm. "Tina, calm down. Take a deep breath and start from the beginning. Okay?"
She inhaled a long, shaky breath, trying to steel her nerves as much as possible before starting again. "Okay, uh… M-Mike and I were practicing our routine for Glee, and A-Artie came in and thought we were doing s-something behind his back… He – he got angry, and all the windows started breaking—"
"Angry? Angry how?" Figgins interrupted.
"E-everything just kind of e-exploded—"
"What do you mean?" Mr. Schue asked.
"I don't mean he exploded… I mean, everything a-around him exploded—"
"Tina, you're not making any sense here."
"How exactly am I s-supposed to make s-sense when I don't unders-s-stand it either—"
Mr. Schue sighed and spoke to Figgins. "She's not in any state of mind to help us understand what happened here. We need to call her parents – the best thing for her right now is to go home."
"William, I understand that the girl has been through quite an ordeal, but I have to have a solid answer to give to the parents who are going to call when their children go home today," Figgins said sternly, then turned his attention back to Tina. "Miss Cohen-Chang, I know that this may be hard for you, but it is paramount that you help us understand what went on in the choir room and the auditorium."
"Wait," Mr. Schue cut in. "Why don't we call Miss Pillsbury and have Tina talk with her?"
Figgins pursed his lips in thought. "I think that may be a good idea."
Fifteen minutes later, Miss Pillsbury had been called in to school and Tina was sitting across from her desk, her clothes only somewhat less damp and her hair still full of glass. Miss Pillsbury was staring nervously at the cut on Tina's cheek (the only cut she'd received from the exploding windows).
"Do you want some disinfectant for that?" she squeaked.
Tina shook her head. "It's not bleeding anymore."
"Right. Right. So," Miss Pillsbury started, fidgeting a little in her seat. "Can you tell me what happened this afternoon?"
"You're not going t-to believe me," Tina said, also squirming in her chair. She just wanted to go home.
Miss Pillsbury forced her tiny mouth into a comforting smile. "Are you so sure about that?"
"I was there, and I st-still don't believe it."
"Well, maybe talking about it will help you process it."
Tina sighed, leaning her head against her fist. "Artie tends to overreact to things," she said. "He t-takes things personally. Th-that's why he thought M-Mike and I were ch-cheating on him."
Miss Pillsbury tilted her head to the side, looking a little like a cocker spaniel. "Artie thought you and Mike were having an affair?"
"W-we were just dancing, I swear – and it was for Glee club, but—"
"Tina," Miss Pillsbury stopped her. "It's okay. I'm not here to make assumptions. I know you're having a hard time with this and frankly, that's a good thing. A close friend of yours died today – I'd be worried if you weren't freaked out."
Tina nodded, hugging her torso.
"So, can you tell me what happened after Artie saw you and Mike dancing?"
Tina's nails dug into her palms. She was not going to have a panic attack. "E-everything started breaking."
Miss Pillsbury blinked her enormous eyes. "Breaking?"
"A-all the glass," Tina said, squeezing her fists tighter. She felt a little light-headed. "The – the windows and lights… Everything."
Miss Pillsbury blinked again. "…How did they break?"
"I – I don't know, Artie did something—" Tina stammered. She sucked in a huge breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm herself down. "There was s-so much pressure in the room, so Mike and I r-ran…"
If Tina had been less freaked out, she might have been amazed by the fact that, contrary to popular belief, Miss Pillsbury's eyes could actually grow even wider. Rather than focus on Tina's broken description of what had happened in the choir room, Miss Pillsbury asked, "And you ran to the auditorium?"
"Yeah, we… we were there a few minutes a-and Artie came in and—" Tina gritted her teeth, forcing herself not to cry. "—and he-he-he locked the doors. He locked us in."
Finally, Tina lost the battle with the rock in her throat and broke down into tears, her makeup smudging even more as she hid her face in her hands. Miss Pillsbury got up from her desk and trotted over to sit in the chair next to Tina, reaching out with a tentative hand and patting her shoulder.
"I'm s-sorry," Tina hiccupped.
"No, no, no, don't be," Miss Pillsbury said. "It's normal to be scared after something like this."
Tina only hiccupped again in response.
"Can, uh…can you tell me what happened after that?"
Taking another long breath, Tina started again. "He – he locked us in, and then the – the lights blew out—"
"Like in the choir room?"
"Yeah," Tina nodded, sniffing. "Then the – the spotlights and everything started f-falling onto the stage, a-and the pressure got worse and—"
"Slow down, Tina," Miss Pillsbury said softly. "It's okay."
Tina hugged her chest, clenching her fists against the rising panic. "The fire s-sprinklers went off," she said, her voice cracking. "I-I don't know wh-why, but they did and then… then a bunch of electrical st-stuff – wires – fell down…" She swallowed and drew a shuddering breath. "Artie looked surprised."
Miss Pillsbury paused, staring at Tina in confusion for a moment before asking, "What do you mean, 'surprised'?"
"He – he looked surprised and then he just – just stopped moving."
Miss Pillsbury's eyebrows knitted together. "Just like that?"
Tina nodded, a fresh stream of tears spilling down her cheeks. Miss Pillsbury patted her shoulder again, saying softly, "I'm going to step outside and talk to Mr. Schuester. Is that okay or do you want me to stay?"
"N-no, it's f-fine," Tina managed to get out.
"Okay, I'll be back in a minute."
Just down the hall from Emma's office, Will had been pacing for nearly a half-hour, anxiously waiting for her to finish talking to Tina. A thousand thoughts were running through his head and amongst them all, he could not rid himself of the image of Artie's wheelchair sitting alone and empty amidst a pile of destroyed electrical equipment. Finally, the door to Emma's office opened and Emma walked out, wringing her hands.
"Any progress?" he asked.
"I got the story out of her," Emma said hesitantly. "Well, I got a story – I don't know if it's the right one."
"What? What do you mean?"
Emma bit her lip. "Will…what Tina described was…not physically possible."
"According to her, Artie was telekinetic."
"I know," Emma cut him off. "Will, this kind of thing can mess with a person's head. I don't think Tina's in her right mind."
"Are you saying she's crazy?"
Emma's eyes widened and she shook her head. "No! No, no, what I'm saying is that Tina's having a hard time coping. I think she's constructed her own reality in order to deal with it. These things happen."
Will sighed, running a hand through his hair. "So what do we do?"
"Well, I think Tina and Mike both need to go home, get some rest, take a few days off school, and then… I think each of them should have a psychoanalysis test. You know, by a professional psychologist. This kind of thing is hard to deal with and they're going to need something more than I can give them."
Will nodded. "Okay, uh… are you okay talking to their parents about this?"
"Okay." Will cast a glance into Emma's office at Tina, who was obviously still crying. "You think she'll be okay?"
Emma nodded. "With time, I'm sure she'll be able to sort out what really happened."
A/N: And it's finished! Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll all read the other installments in the Expect The Unexpected series!