Disclaimer: I own nothing. Glee belongs to it's respective people and I'm not making any money whatsoever from writing this.
If someone had asked Mike Chang who Tina Cohen-Chang was before this year he would have stared blankly and said he had no idea. It wasn't anything personal, it was just…he was a jock and Tina was, well…nothing. She was on the bottom of the food chain, he didn't bully people like that jackass Karofsky or the passive aggressive douche that is Finn Hudson, but that didn't mean he was immune to the food chain. He didn't know people outside his parameters – that was just the way things were.
Then Kurt Hummel waltzed onto the football team and all that changed. He was expected to dance – really dance! – outside his bedroom walls and it was awesome and amazing and Mike loved to dance. Dance was…dance was his everything, his way of expressing himself; it was the thing that helped define who he was. He instantly joined Glee, the first chance he had, and no amount of slushies would make him regret that choice.
He went weeks not really noticing Tina, sure he saw her and realized he liked her style, but he never really noticed her. Part of that was because Matt had joined New Directions with him and most of the time they whispered and danced together so he didn't really notice anyone. Rachel was hard to ignore, Kurt was the big push he needed to do this, and the other popular people he already knew in some fashion, so it wasn't a big shock that he never noticed Tina before.
Then April was there – and Jesus was that awkward, she was like his mom's age or something! – and they were doing the choreography for their Invitational. And then he saw her – this shy girl had a flow to her, she picked moves up quickly, and smiled all the time. When she was dancing, she wore this smile and she looked…radiant, it was amazing. She had this adorable voice, not as strong as Rachel's or powerful as Mercedes, but it was good.
He felt like he could get to like Tina Cohen-Chang.
As the final notes to "Hate on me" ended and the high from the performance started to go down, Mike found that he liked being one of "Sue's kids". Mr. Schue didn't let them dance all the time, and even if Kurt's dancing was embarrassingly corny, it was all freestyle and spontaneous. Sue clapped and the corners of her mouth quirked up and Mike supposed that's the closest to a smile he'll ever see on her.
As they're all leaving he's talking with Kurt, asking where the hell those cheesy moves came from – "I can't dance to R&B, Mike. I can do choreography, ballet, and dirty dancing, but that's really it." – when he feels someone behind him. Kurt leaves and Mike turns and there she is, shyly smiling at him and fiddling with her shoulder strap.
"Y-you're a-a really g-good dancer." She stutters out, whispering. It's the first time she's spoken to him and there's something about her voice that makes sparks dance up and down his spine. She smiles at him again then turns and leaves. He stares at the place she once was in a stupor and realizes he can still smell her perfume, something subtle and wonderful smelling. He wonders if he can catch up to her and offer her a ride home just so her perfume lingers in his car, then realizes that sounds kind of creepy and shakes himself out of his stupor.
Besides, she's dating Artie, so she's off limits. He commits her perfume to memory.
Ballads. Singing. Mike has to sing, like not just background vocals, but real out-of-the-shower singing.
He has to sing, practically by himself!
"Mike, hello, you in there?" Tina's voice breaks into his stupor of sheer terror and he makes a sound that's somewhere between a whimper and a noise of acknowledgement. She smiles at him and sits next to him and wow, there's that lingering, wonderful smelling perfume. He leans towards her, just a little.
"Nervous about singing in front of everyone?" She asks gently, laying a hand on his knee and sounding like she understands. The tension and fear seep out of him. He nods.
"Dancing is my thing, but singing is…scary." He's whispering, which is ridiculous because they're alone.
"Yeah, I know. But, it's also really, very brave. It's scary because it's so personal, but that's also what makes it so liberating. We're all friends here; we're all special to each other, so there's nothing to be scared of." She pats his knee and pulls out her I-pod. "We can see if we find any ballads that suit us both. I guess we can start with a band of mine and then one of yours and just alternate until we find something?" She looked at him questioningly, handing one of her ear buds to him.
"Sounds good to me."
Mike hadn't heard of the band "The Birthday Massacre" before meeting Tina. To be honest, he really liked them. They were good to dance to and Tina sounded awesome when singing along to the songs and Mike even found himself singing some verses with her.
They were still deciding between singing "Lover's End" and "Happy Birthday" – Tina said they both counted as ballads because they were stories put to music, which is the definition Mr. Schue gave for a ballad.
"Hey, Mike, are you doing anything this weekend?" Tina asked, appearing suddenly next to him as he was walking to his car. He turned and gave her a small smile.
"Nope, what's up?"
"Well, our assignment is due on Friday so I was thinking that you and I could maybe go see a movie Saturday? I was supposed to go see a movie with Artie, but a new video game comes out this Friday so he wants to spend the weekend playing it and I still have two free tickets that will expire so…" She trailed off with a shrug.
Mike felt like flailing and jumping up and down like a little girl squealing, but luckily for his dignity he reined that impulse in.
"I mean, we totally don't have to. I completely understand if you were just putting up with my crazy because of the Glee assignment. If you don't want to just say so, I can ask Mercedes – oh, but she's babysitting this weekend – well, I can ask Kurt, oh no he's supposed to be working this weekend, well, I can go by myself. And see two movies. Or bring my mom. Oh my god, I need to stop talking. Right now." Tina rambled out, sounding increasingly more rushed and anxious. It was adorable.
"Tina, its fine. You're awesome and I'd love to go see a movie with you. Especially since there's free tickets at stake."
They both shifted from foot to foot before giggling nervously. Mike went to sleep that night dreaming of Tina's smile, the way her fingers moved through the air as she sang, and her perfume.
He woke up feeling like an ass for crushing on a friend's girl.
Tina's talking to Artie and Mike feels like screaming at them. He wants to shout that Tina deserves to be treated better and that Artie needs to learn how to talk to a lady because some of the stuff he says to Tina is so, so not okay. Instead he turns to Matt to ask him if he has any idea what song to do for this week's glee assignment.
Matt's looking at Kurt, again, and Mike rolls his eyes because really – his friend needed to make up his mind about his sexuality. He feels like he should tell Matt it's perfectly okay to be bisexual but figures it's not his place to say anything. Kurt laughs at something Mercedes says and Matt does this little half grin thing and this is getting ridiculous.
"Talk to him, for heaven's sake!" Mike hisses at Matt, making sure no one can hear them. Matt throws him a look.
"I'll talk to him when you talk to Tina." He hisses back and Mike flinches. That's so not fair; he can't talk to Tina because she's dating Artie. Matt can talk to Kurt though, after all, Kurt's not dating anyone. He glares at his friend.
Matt huffs and goes back to watching Kurt.
Mike goes back to watching Tina and Artie.
Sometimes he wishes he was less of a laidback and nice guy. Then he could hate Artie for having the girl and ignore how cool the other guy was, most of the time. If he wasn't so nice and laidback he could try to flirt with Tina regardless of the fact that she has a boyfriend and not feel guilty about it.
This was ridiculous. It was like…like a soap opera. He just needed to get over this girl, it would be simple. He looked at Santana and Britney – two gorgeous cheerleaders. Perfect. He could just think about them instead of Tina.
Santana looked up, saw him looking at them, and glared. Mike whimpered and looked away. He had forgotten how much Santana's glares scare him. The girl was friendly when she felt like it, but she was also a force to be reckoned with when pissed off.
He looked at Quinn, she was pretty. And pregnant. Okay, looking away.
Mercedes! A fierce girl with impeccable fashion and a wonderful personality, she was perfect. Her outfit looked nice and when she smiled at Kurt she looked adorable. Come to think of it, he wondered if Tina would like – No! Oh, no, what was wrong with him? He couldn't even try to ogle other girls without thinking about her?
He now officially sympathized with Matt.
"Hey, uhm…can I talk to you real quick?" Tina's voice from behind him causes him to turn so quickly he thought that getting spinning lessons from Kurt might not be so difficult after all.
"Sure, anything." And Mike wants to hit himself because what the hell kind of answer is that? Tina smiles at him, looking nervous.
"I wanted to talk to you about dancing. With me. For a glee number." Tina says, looking up at Mike. She's nibbling on her bottom lip and Mike wants to lean down and nibble it for her and this is not the time, focus Mike!
"…so I was wondering if you could help me arrange and choreograph a dance number, with Artie singing mostly, and we could just…yeah." Tina finishes awkwardly, bouncing just a bit in place. It reminds him of his mother; she does the same thing when she's nervous.
"Yeah, sounds good. We could rehearse at lunch and maybe after school?"
The dance they settle on is really nice and has a touch of romance to it and its all Mike can do to go through with it and not flail or freak out. Tina's really adamant about getting the steps down so they practice a lot, so much that in Spanish he finds his feet moving through the chorography as if on auto-pilot.
He's amazed at Tina, he really is. She told him about her trying to dance with Artie, to make him feel better. When she told him that she had stayed up for hours researching spinal reconstruction and nerve reconnection in an effort to understand Artie's situation better, he was blown away. Tina was a wonderful, amazing person – she knew high school romances never worked out, and yet here she was, going out of her way to try and give Artie some hope about his situation.
She was amazing.
He can't help but think about what it would be like, if he were in a wheelchair, unable to dance. It would kill him. He couldn't imagine how helpless Artie must feel, every day.
Tina went with him to his physical therapy sessions. She knew tons about spinal chord injuries and all the latest research about correcting such injuries or technologies to help paralyzed people to get around easier.
And she did all of that because she loved Artie.
As Mike dipped Tina gently, as the last step of their dance number, he was keenly aware that he really, really liked Tina. And that she didn't feel the same for him. It made his heart hurt.
But then she smiled, big and bright, right at him and Mike found himself smiling back at her, unable to help himself. He really, really liked her and the fact that she was in love with someone else didn't bother him. She was still the most amazing, wonderful person he had ever met.
She can't believe she's actually at an Asian summer camp. Again. She swore when she entered high school that those days were over and now here she was, working at one. God, what was her life?
At least Mike Chang was here to make things a little more bearable for her. The quiet dancer really opened up at these things; she had heard him speak here more then she ever had at school. He was also really good with the kids, able to calm them down, play with them, listen to them when they're upset, and get them to obey him. It was nice.
"Miss Tina, Miss Tina, Kenny is crying!" A little hand tugs at her skirt as this little voice squeaks at her. She smiles down at the little boy before looking over to where he's pointing. Sure enough, a little boy is wailing a few paces away. She sighs before heading over to him.
"Hey now, what's wrong?" She asks, kneeling down to be at his level. He hiccups before turning away from her and crying more. She doesn't know what to do; it's not like he's her kid, so she can't just grab him and hold him until he calms down. She doesn't know what to do.
"Hey, hey, why the tears?" Mike asks as he bends and somehow gets to eye-level with the kid – seriously, how did he do that? He's almost as tall as Finn and this little pipsqueak is tiny.
"Jackie said her mommy's better than mine because hers is there and not away with her boss. But my mommy isn't not better than hers! She's a meanie!" And the tears are there again and Mike makes a shushing noise and puts a hand on the kid's shoulder, like Mr. Schue does to Finn.
Within the next eight minutes, Mike is able to calm the kid down, get an apology out of Jackie, and get the two to go play together.
"How did you do that?" Tina asks as the two kids go to play red rover with the rest of their group. Mike smiles down at her.
"I'm good with kids, my extended family has tons and I'm the oldest so it always falls to me to look after everyone." Mike looks proud of himself in a bashful way. It's cute. She smiles up at him.
"Awesome." She finds herself saying. He beams at her and that weird tingly feeling she gets when he does that comes back, she's noticed she also gets it when Artie kisses her and that comparison makes her a little uncomfortable.
She feels like she could get to like Mike Chang.