Author's Notes: Written for this prompt on the glee_angst_meme: "'Maybe that's all a family is; a group of people who miss the same imaginary place.' (Quote comes from my favourite film, Garden State, btw). I'd quite like to see something to do with this, including all the Glee kids, if you please."
Quinn misses her daddy.
She misses those water fights her whole family used to have in the summer, even when Mom was wearing some fancy outfit they went out of their way to ruin. She misses the way Heather always used to cheat at board games, but it was okay, because Quinn would just cry and Heth would feel terrible and Quinn would have her in the palm of her hand for weeks. She misses the way Daddy would always drag her out to a million 'exciting' events, and they always made her want to fall asleep, no matter how badly she tried to hide it – her daddy always noticed and never minded, but still, she tried.
She doesn't have any of that anymore. Instead, she has responsibilities, and meetings, and the impossibility of balancing the tricky situation of her child's father and the guy who once thought he was her child's father, and that awkward feeling Mrs. Puckerman gives her that she's mooching off them. She's not a child anymore, and she knows it.
She's not foolish enough to think her family was perfect – her father was ignorant and bigoted; she knew that long before he kicked her out. Still... it always felt perfect. Even when she could not disagree more (which wasn't actually very often; she usually somewhat agreed, but more moderately), it was never a big deal – she'd just hold her tongue and they'd move on; she'd get back to her perfect life in a second.
It's always a shock when you realize just how deep in denial you are.
Still, Quinn thinks it could be worse – Puck hasn't abandoned her, even when she was desperately trying to push him away. The Glee club are resolute in supporting her and not judging, even though they have every right to, given what she did to Finn. No-one even brings up the way she used to treat them – the bullying and the slushies and the cyber-invention of new and fascinating forms of contraception – even though she knows she's done nothing to earn their forgiveness. She vaguely remembers when she was going to give the baby to Mr. Schuester and his wife: now, it seems ridiculous, but she really thought it could work. She thought Mr. Schue would love her baby. She thinks Mr. Schue loves her (in a non-creepy way).
And then she's back to just missing her daddy.
Artie's a nerd.
One of those really pathetic ones, you know? The kind that have all weekend Halo fests, or collect Star Trek memorabilia, or wear sweatervests and suspenders without any irony about it – you get the point. He knows he has this label, and he embraces it. He does what he likes, and everyone who wants to judge can go get fucked. Not that he'd let them actually find out about any of this stuff anyway, because he is small and jocks are scary.
Those aren't the really pathetic things about him, though: what's really pathetic are the fantasies. The ones where he's some kind of comrade by his favorite characters' sides, or just where he's his own hero, and some magical invention restores him to full able-bodied power–
Yeah. Pathetic, right?
Still, he's in Glee club, and Glee club is pretty much a magnet for pathetic losers and those struggling with newfound (or less newfound) adversity. He fits in there – everyone else is dreaming of the same cartoon world he is, just with themselves as the hero. So all is well.
Yeah, he's still not good, but neither's anyone else.
Mike and Matt speak their own language.
They always have, it's just the way it has always been. Well, not literally, but the point is – they just operate on a different level to most people. They're popular and make small talk with everyone, but really, none of it sinks it.
And Matt's always been cool with that.
The thing is, now they're in the Glee club, Mike's changing. He does stuff – he helps Finn dance, he dances himself with Tina, he participates and all that. And while it's fun to tease him about the Tina thing (even if Mike plays the 'Asian racism' card), Matt can't help but be taken aback. Mike's slipping away. Yeah, Matt knows that jealous and stupid and vaguely homoerotic, but he can't help it.
The thing is – he's got this whole idea built up in his head of him and Mike. One where it's okay that they don't really know how to act in the whole world – it's a good thing, even – because all they need is each other. And if Mike starts figuring out this whole world thing, that idea turns to shit, and even if Mike is sort of bringing Matt with him, it's not the same.
It doesn't make any sense and Matt knows that. But he also knows now, if he disappeared, Mike would be okay. He'd figure it out. If Mike disappeared, Matt wouldn't be able to figure it out. He always assumed it would be the same vice versa, and hence never worried about it, but he kind of knows better now.
It's all totally unfair on one of them. He's not sure which one.
Mercedes is a diva.
She knows this, but she's cool with it – she's Beyonce, like she said, and she'll get her stardom. Everyone's gonna see.
She just kind of wishes they could see now.
She knows Mr. Schue means well and all, but he's just a bit short sighted. He's kind of fixated on the leads he has right now, and isn't so much seeing past that. Yeah, it's kind of selfish of her to whine about not getting the solos, but this happens all the time. Everyone else is kind of sick of it too. And she just doesn't know why it happens – Mr. Schue is the kind of guy who is meant to see past all that, make them all stars. Right now, she should be on her way up – Jesus, she sounds like Rachel, but that's not the point. Yeah, she wants more attention, but what of it? Doesn't she have a right?
Most of the time, in Glee club, she feels the way she should – she feels accepted, like she belongs. She's never really felt that before, so she wonders like hell why she can't hold onto it. Hell, Glee club even gave her an actual boyfriend, even if he was kind of just using her. They wanted her to win Sectionals for them once – Rachel would have given that solo to her.
So she's winning. But she doesn't feel it.
Still. It's probably just her being self-centered and crazy and not paying attention to everything she gets – she gets solos and she knows it. She gets more attention than a lot of this club, as people have noticed (and Kurt has passive-aggressively bitched at her about many a time).
She's being childish.
Tina doesn't really know how to talk. Or act. Or generally have any kind of impact on the world.
That is, more or less, how she wound up pretending to have a life-altering disability for four years. That's probably some kind of sign of mental instability: do you have any idea how long four years is? She wasn't just being a whiny, scared kid through all this. Well, she was, but on a greater level.
She has friends now, thanks to the club, but deep down they all know it's not what they imagine it as – she can't tell if she's thankful for their patience with her lack of understanding the friendship thing, or if she just finds it patronizing. Even with her boyfriend, she doesn't know if she wants him or if it's just that he was the first guy who'd ever take her (and the absolutely horrible part of her thinks that he's in a wheelchair, he can't get many offers).
She wants to believe her life has changed, but some part of her still thinks it all rings false – that she's going to slip away from this whole illusion soon, and nothing will have changed: she'll still be Tina Cohen-Chang, quiet, weird, vampiric, stuttering freak.
Still. This new world's all confidence, and she'll go with that, even if it's just the "fake it 'til you make it" variety.
Big secret? Santana's really jealous of Brittany for being so dumb.
She never used to be – Brittany's dumbness was just one thing about her, and Santana didn't care much one way or the other about it. She blames the damn Glee club, because even though it's secretly awesome, she kind of blames it for everything. The thing was, Brittany's dumbness let her learn how to be a total popular bitch without actually being bitchy. So when she joined the club, let them get to her, it didn't mean changing – Santana didn't get that.
It's obvious in the way the Gleeks look at them: Brittany is sweet and dumb, and would never hurt them. Santana is a crazy bitch who cannot be trusted, given how she always used to treat us. It makes no sense, but that's not the point.
Santana thinks it's all totally unfair: Quinn and Brittany were both just as awful to the losers who became the Glee club as she used to be, but Quinn gets a free pass because of pregnancy magic, and Brittany gets to claim mental incompetence or something. Leaving Santana carrying all the weight of the old bitchiness.
Okay, Santana knows she's being a psycho, and she shouldn't care what everyone thinks of her because of Being Yourself and all that stuff after-school specials tell you. But she can't help it. If this is all meant to be the family-substitute ragtag bunch of misfits, she doesn't think it's fair that she doesn't fit in. It's not like she doesn't try – okay, lie. She doesn't try. Because no-one else does, and they all seem to fit perfectly, so why is it fair she should have to bother?
It's just, Brittany and her made their thing out of not working for anything. Britt can keep doing that with this club. Santana can't, and it sucks.
Puck should be better with this than he really is.
But he was happy before, even if he was a colossal dick to everyone. He doesn't have that so much now; not with Quinn and the baby, and the major guilt because he just realized the people he built his rep off torturing kind of rock sometimes, plus said rep is still kind of in doubt, plus pretty much everything about his friendship groups and chicks and all has changed. Dude, he made out with Rachel Berry. And not because of some kind of drug-induced hallucination, or the flu, or something. Enough said.
And yeah, he knows this is the better way to be and all that – he can't say he doesn't like the feeling he's actually a semi-decent person now. It's just the being a semi-decent person that kind of sucks; it comes with responsibilities and all that, and he's never gotten those. It was a lot easier when everyone he knew just were bad people, and that was cool, and you didn't have to worry about it until someone was like in hospital. And if Puck's a horrible human being for missing that, fuck it, he doesn't care. It was easy, alright?
Yeah, yeah, Glee club is a substitute family and all that jazz. He loves the club, not gonna lie. But dammit, he had shit before, and he's not sure this was all worth it.
Rachel called him the 'leading man' when they first met for real. He's still trying to figure out what that means.
I mean, yeah, he gets the leading man role in Glee and all that – the singing, the dancing. He really doesn't think he's good enough for the spotlight he gets, and maybe that's part of the problem, but whatever. Even when he's not dating her, he feels a little bit of it just from playing opposite her like this – which is weird, because they're not acting. Allegedly.
The thing is, he's pretty sure that if he's the leading man, he's meant to be, like, actually good at shit. Rachel would probably start ranting about male privilege if he said that, but whatever, that's not the point. In like, movies and stuff, the main guy always has it figured out: he gets the right girl. He probably has some fun with the wrong girls along the way, and it's not a bad thing. If there's a chick who hurts him, she's undeniably the bad guy, and usually pays for it. People don't just walk over him.
Finn's not that guy. He broke Rachel's heart and he knows it; he was an ass, and even though this situation watching her with St. Jackass sucks, he totally deserves it. His thing with Santana was so less than fun, and really just left him feeling like a piece of shit. And Quinn... Fuck, Quinn.
Yeah, she broke his heart, but it's not like he hates her for it. He doesn't even really hate Puck – God knows he tried, with both of them, but it didn't work. He's known them for like, ever, and despite what they put him through they're still both kind of his. He cares about them. Loves them, even, although if Puck heard he was putting that kind of word to it Finn would get totally punched.
And then he just feels bad about letting it happen, because if it's not their fault, it's his. Actually, given the timing, they must have slept together around the time he was getting interested in Rachel – karmic overreaction, if you ask him. Or maybe it was God just trying to break him and Quinn up so he could be with Rachel, because they were meant to be or something. In which case, God, one – mind your own business, two – couldn't you have found any other way to do that, and three – wow, that didn't backfire, did it?
He misses it. He's not a hundred percent sure what 'it' he's referring to, but fuck – he misses everything. He misses Quinn and he misses Puck and he misses Rachel and he misses his old Brittana fantasies (seriously, dating two chicks at once will kill your porn-inspired ideas about hot lesbians); he misses his reputation, and he misses not caring about his reputation, and he misses trusting people, and he misses a whole bunch of things he can't name or understand.
He's been the boyfriend and the best friend and the normal friend and the jock and the singer and the quarterback and now, the leading man...
And he's pretty sure he's been no good at any of those roles.
Rachel Berry knows who she is.
She's a star. A performer. She's going to make her way into the bright lights, becoming a household name and revolutionizing the musical theater industry by the time she's twenty-six. Rachel has it all planned out; riches and accolades, and the adoring press.
Irritatingly, nobody else realizes this. Not even the Glee club.
She knows it's unfair to ask them all to bow to her talent, but it's what she wants to do: isn't she worth it? After all, she has focuses on this since she was a child. Performing is her life, without it, what would be left? None of the others have done that; they have friends and interests and hobbies. Surely she deserves recognition in return for all she has sacrificed?
(And she is not going to say she had no choice; that the cruelty incurred from her peers drove her to fixate on her talent in lieu of anything else to do.)
Jesse, he understands. Performing has been his life as it has been hers; they often swap stories about their shared experiences in the performing arts, training and the like. Vocal Adrenaline seems more like her altogether – driven to win and be idolized, no matter the cost. Jesse once asked her, given these attitudes, why he transferred to her school and not the other way around. She genuinely did not know.
Maybe it has something to do with that panicked stab in her heart that happens every so often: when she thinks Mercedes has a talent for R&B she'll never possess, or that Kurt can channel his heart into his performances like she's never learned how to – she doesn't even understand why that works; it should speak against his professionalism, but work it does.
She's not always the best.
And that is entirely unfair, because really, hasn't she done enough to be the best? After all, that's all she is. Without that label, she is nothing. Kurt, Mercedes and everyone else have whole worlds of different things to be – she is the star. She has to be.
Rachel Berry knows who she is. Except for the fact she has no idea.
Kurt is selfish.
He has learned this. It was a bit of a shocking revelation at first, but he accepted it as time wore on.
They were just thoughts: he was amused by the jocks joining the sort of club they would relentlessly torment him for being a part of, and entertained thoughts of what exactly that implied about them. Of course, he had long held his own theories on the exact details of Finn Hudson's orientation, for, well, obvious reasons. As he got to know the men in this club better, he couldn't help but wonder about them – Mike, for example, the jock with a secret love for the performing arts, who admitted he had long felt repressed by his status. That held all kinds of implications. On the other hand, Artie had shown an ability to bitch about the clothes they saw to rival Kurt's own (although he never practiced what he preached, the retina-terrorist), and that raised an eyebrow.
Unfortunately, it was the cruel jibes of the school neanderthals which made Kurt figure it out – their derision that every single (male) member of this club must automatically be homosexual. There was no other choice.
And then Kurt realized he wanted it to be true.
He knows it's unfair and awful and plays to all kinds of horrible stereotypes (as gays 'like him' have been accused of many a times by the 'normal' gay community, so oh well), but he can't help it. It's just that – the implication there was that it was expected to be gay, at least in this one small club.
Like he was 'normal'.
Kurt's proud of who he is, and his differences, but he can't say it doesn't hurt, knowing so certainly that he'll always be the 'other'. That people see his own private feelings as a curiosity at best and repulsive at worst. That his sexuality will always be what he is primarily defined by, as if everything else about him is nothing, or just another facet of that.
Is it so horrible that he's tired of being the unusual one? That he wanted to find a group where his attractions were not so freakish? He read somewhere that gay people would usually attract other gay people into their friendship group, but apparently it isn't happening.
Kurt knows he could never actually ask his friends about it – it would be horrible and unfair, and he knows it's not their fault. They can't control being straight (to the best of his knowledge) any more than he can control being gay, and you can't ask someone to change that. Well, okay, maybe his behavior around Finn has been a little like that. But he's sixteen, and you know what love does to you.
Still, he can't help but hope a little. It's a stupid hope, but what of it? Yes, it's selfish, but honestly – if he can't be selfish in his own mind, what hope is there for him?
Will wants to help them all.
Yes, he's a bit of a bleeding heart when it comes to his kids, but he guesses that's how a good teacher should be – he should feel for his kids; care about them as people, not just aspects of the job; he should do his best for their lives.
So he tries. He gives the roles he feels for them as a performer, and he gives the roles they need (or think they need). He tries to be there for them, and he tries to keep the distance everyone needs. He tries to be one of them, but he knows if he tries too hard it will just be ridiculous and they'll never trust him.
He's doing everything; up and down like a yo-yo. And yes, it's not really great.
Will's not stupid; he knows he's not perfect with these kids. He's trying, but he doesn't really understand them all – and it's horrible, but he thinks he unintentionally focuses on the ones he does get more than the ones he doesn't, and that's wrong, but he can't help it. Rachel and Finn get the spotlight, and he knows that, and he tries not to let it happen, but it pretty much just does.
Okay, there's something unsettlingly familiar about the nice, slightly dumb guy and the energetic, attention-seeking, controlling girl desperately trying to work out their high school romance–
Yeah. Vicariously reliving your failed marriage through two of your students. That's not creepytastic, Will.
Still, his students care for him and he is truly doing his best – he's not going to say he's got that constant feeling he's let them down. Apart from the fact it would probably freak everyone out that he's so fixated on this, if he admits he can't really do it, what trust will they have left?
So he'll keep trying. And the world might change someday, and then he will have saved them.