Life is Pandemonium
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or the song "Pandemonium" from the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Summary:Creating the perfect ending to a perfect date is not an easy thing to accomplish. Well, the singing part is. The whole finding an accordion in New York is not. Mike and Puck find out the hard way.
Warning: Adult language, contains spoilers for season 2, episode 22, New York
Some things Mike had learned not to ask about.
Like, when Brittany brought delicious, mouth-watering cookies to glee rehearsal he didn't bother asking her what she put in them because odds were, he didn't want to know.
As long as he didn't get food poisoning, it was all good.
When Tina paid him twenty buck to get a picture of him shirtless (he would have done it for free, but she did offer) he didn't bother asking what she was going to do with it, because twenty bucks was twenty bucks and he was all for sharing his mad abs with the world anyway. And it was the world, because the next day she had posted it up on Facebook as bragging rights (not that he was complaining).
And finally, when Puck confessed that he not only knew how to play the accordion, but has the sheet music to Bella Notte memorized, Mike didn't ask how or why, he simply nodded and went along with it, committing the lyrics to memory with the other guys so he could help Finn have the perfect ending to the perfect date.
What he did ask, when they were all done and they still had hours left to kill, was where Puck was secretly keeping this accordion. When the jock gave him a confused look in return they finally realized they had planned their grand finale (which Finn had eminently entrusted to them) around an instrument they did not actually have.
This led to a fight of sorts.
Mike said "of sorts" because he didn't ever want to admit to listening to or partaking in an argument that revolved around an accordion.
Just…no. He couldn't do it.
"Why the hell would you suggest playing the accordion, when we don't actually have one?" Sam shouted, throwing up his hands in exasperation and pacing around frantically, cornering the freaking-out market so well that Mike and Artie just sat back and watched the master work.
Puck, for the most part, refused to look even slightly abashed at the problem he caused, instead choosing to lounge across his claimed couch in an untroubled manner, completely carefree.
It partially their fault too, Mike supposed. They should have checked for the instrument before they got their heart set on the song.
"Relax dude," Puck drawled, reaching up to stretch his back casually. "We're in New York, there's got to be at least eight different instrument shops on this block alone."
"Do you even know how much new accordion's cost?" Sam shot back, honestly searching for an answer, and Mike decided to interrupt before reality could break in on the amazing thrill that was this trip. Money was a touchy subject for Sam, not that any of them had particularly deep pockets, and Mike wanted his friend to spend his time enjoying New York, not worrying about his problems back home.
"Pawn shops," Mike suggested, standing up quickly. "It's New York right? I'm sure there's an accordion in at least one of them."
And just like that the tension in the room lessened (not that Puck had even noticed it increasing) and suddenly Mike and mohawked teen were nominated to hit the streets in search of the allusive accordion (Puck chosen because it was mostly his fault, and Mike because out of the three remaining guys he was the only one who had any sense of direction).
Artie snuck them some bills while Sam was busy at the computer, searching for nearby shops and soon they were coated up and on their way.
The first shop Sam had given them produced nothing (Mike had to drag Puck away from the "used DVD collection of all used DVD collections", he didn't care how many badly dubbed martial arts movies it had, they were on a mission damn it). The second shop (two stops down) only generated a few broken down guitars, and Mike agreed to give them the moment of silence Puck insisted on. Third shop, across the street, had one too many shady looking guys in hoodies loitering around front so the two teens skipped it, intent on not getting caught up in a gang war or soon-to-be-robbery or whatever business was stewing up there. The fourth shop was closed, and had been for some time, and if it weren't for the fact that it had already been picked clean by junk collectors, hagglers, and homeless people Mike would have been willing to give it a shot anyway. Puck had wanted to take a peek in to see if there were any dead bodies like on Law and Order, but Mike vetoed the idea, pulling him away again, scratching that store off their list.
Shop five was on fire.
They stopped to take pictures.
By this point they had exhausted all the options Sam had researched and had just gotten a text from Artie saying Finn and Rachel had began moving from the park to Sardi's. Time was of the essence, and never before had Mike been so glad for that moment one year ago where he had cast aside his pride and shamelessly begged for a smart phone. He pulled up an internet connection, searched for other pawn shops near their location, and they were quickly back in action.
Pawn shop number six was now an ice cream shop, and Mike spent several minutes typing up a scathing review for the website that hadn't bothered updating its information while Puck got them some frozen treats. A little mint chocolate chip would be just the thing to soothe the dancer's gradually fraying nerves, except Puck got his order confused somehow and got him coffee ice cream with Oreos instead.
Yeah…Mike wasn't sure how Puck came up with that either, but it was delicious, so he let it slide.
They must have walked up and down the same block twelve times before they finally realized that their next stop was actually located on the second floor of a building they had been cursing at for not being what they wanted it to be, and after another twelve minutes of building navigation they managed to actually make it up to the second level. Shop number seven had closed up early, and as tempted as Mike was to give in to Puck and just break into the place to find what they wanted, Tina would probably kill him (along with the rest of the team) if they got caught (and they would, because that was just their luck today) so they let the pawn shop win this one.
They were cutting through a park to get to their next destination when a ragged street performer caught their eye (or ear, if they had to be specific) playing, as luck would have it, an accordion. Puck suggested mugging (blood still hot from their accumulated failures) but Mike countered with calm negotiation.
Calm negotiation that soon turned into loud, belligerent negotiation.
Okay, so it wasn't really negotiation by the end of it, it was more like pathetic groveling mixed with aggressive threats of bodily harm.
And Mike had been doing the talking.
The dancer had tried everything on the guy. First, he offered to buy the instrument from him (for what was assuredly way more then the original price).
Ragged man said no.
Then he tried again, but this time threw in that they were trying to help a friend woo a girl. Wooing a girl, that won sympathy from most people, except ragged man was ragged-evil and must have been shot down one to many times in his life because this time his "no" was much more vehement.
But Mike would not quit, Mike was not a quitter, he was a winner, or, he was not a loser to guys who were most likely homeless who played the accordion in the park for a living.
He tried again, offering to rent it (for the same price as buying it, mind you) and he even suggested that he leave his shoes or phone as collateral. Finn would owe him; owe him so bad because if Ragged-homeless-accordion man actually accepted and then took off with either of his most favorite things (because that was what he would do because he was evil) Finn would be paying for new ones.
But his friend wouldn't have to worry about that because Homeless man took one look at both of the suggested items and turned up his nose, his nose, as if his dirty, scuffed up, mud covered, worn out, nasty, pathetic excuses for shoes were better then Mike's!
…and the phone.
The phone too.
A battle almost started right then and there, but Mike remembered he couldn't give the ragged man that satisfaction. He knew he was running out of options, and he really didn't want to, but Mike sucked it up and begged, pleaded, appealed to Homeless man's sense of dignity and relation to common man, pulling out all the stops and homeless man…ragged man…evil man laughed at him.
Mike was still yelling and cursing at they guy when Puck picked him up and dragged him away, finally intervening on what was clearly a lost cause. Mike cooled down by the time they were out of the park, and Puck put him down after he promised he would not go Asian crazy again and run back and give that guy the proper face smashing he deserved.
Okay, so those weren't his exact words, but Mike promised nonetheless and they moved on.
But he wouldn't forget homeless man, no way. Were their paths to ever cross again he would finish was he started.
They ran, helter-skelter for shop number eight when they received a warning text from Finn and low and behold, lucky number eight finally produced something for there, in the window, displayed proudly for the entire world to see, was an accordion. Dark red, in almost perfect condition, glimmering like a bright beacon of hope. If Mike had not spent the past hour and a half pounding the pavements he would have stopped to question the owner's advertising strategy (were accordions really in such high demand that they were used to attract business?) but by this point he didn't care.
They went in, politely (and Mike made extra sure of this) requested the price of the desired instrument and discovered, much to their dismay, that they were twenty dollars short.
Haggling (as though they were any good at it) was not an option. It was as though the old man behind the counter could smell they weren't locals because he (like the homeless man) would not budge on price.
It must be a New Yorker thing.
The owner cut Mike off before he could get to the winning-sympathy or groveling parts of his plan, telling them to either dish out the twenty bucks or get out. When they said they didn't have enough, he pointed to the door, and they left.
Mike was still stewing in anger when Puck spoke up, seemingly halfway through a conversation they hadn't even started.
"We need a hat," he declared, and then took off, leaving Mike no choice but to follow him into a nearby gift shop where he…bought a hat.
It wasn't like Mike didn't try to stop him (the goal was to save their money, not spend it) but Puck ignored all the attempts he made, bulldozing Mike aside when he tried to block the other teen at the cash register, forcing Mike to reevaluate his laid back approach to life.
Clearly, clearly people refused to see laid back people as a threat.
Puck paused at the door when Mike failed to follow him, still frozen in his shoved-aside position, marveling at the sadness of his predicament. The other teen sighed, reached back and grabbed Mike's arm, dragging him back out onto the streets. At that point Mike didn't care anymore, Puck could have led them into a crack house and he wouldn't have noticed.
Was he really that big a push over?
Did people even register him as a human being, or was he just another mass of bones and tissue that took up their space, breathed their oxygen?
Did he simply exist just to bare witness to other people's achievements?
This wasn't a new thing, this had been going on forever, it just hadn't really bothered him until now. He hadn't minded before but…come on, they were in New York, shouldn't that mean something?
Puck stopped abruptly and Mike bumped into him, mind still churning, and he looked up to see they were back at homeless man's park.
"Mike," Puck tried again, this time getting his attention, grabbing the sides of his arms. "Stop worrying like a girl. I got this."
"You got this," Mike replied skeptically, and Puck rolled his eyes and gestured to the moderate amount of foot traffic passing them by.
"We need twenty bucks right?" Mike opened his mouth to remind him that they had to make up the money they spent on the hat too but Puck shushed him with a wave of his hand. "We're two super talented, good looking guys. All we've gotta do is provide a little late night entertainment."
Mike shuddered at the implication of the statement and received a slap to the back of his head. "Not like that moron. Drop a beat."
The dancer looked up to see that Puck was indeed serious about this, and he almost, almost objected to it on principal (he was really tired of being pushed around), but it actually was a good idea, so Mike gave in, wiping his hands against his pants in a defeated way while Puck placed the hat on the ground in front of them.
It wasn't as bad as Mike thought it was going to be.
Puck wasn't nearly as good at free styling as Artie was, but he wasn't awful, and soon spare bills, pocket change, and the odd, less-desired condom were showered down into their money hat from pitying passerbys. Fifteen minutes into it, twenty minutes before the shop closed and simultaneous with Finn and Rachel's desert course, Mike began to think that they might be able to pull it off. All they needed were a few more dollars and they could go and rub it in that stupid owner's face. Then they would sprint back and meet up with Sam and Artie and serenade Finn and Rachel, and then they would kiss, and then everyone would be happy, and then they would win Nationals.
Hey, Mike wasn't in charge of the natural progression of things, he was simply an observer.
For example, he observed, but did not fully comprehend the young, unmemorable teenager jogging their direction and he observed him reach down, as though it was the most natural thing in the world, and steal their money hat and then he observed the back of Puck's head as they abandoned their audience and began to chase him down.
Except the thief obviously hadn't spent a majority of the past two hours running around New York, so after three blocks they lost him, and their hat, and subsequently most of their money. Mike released a few choice expletives that would have made his mother blush before he kicked a nearby trashcan and Puck pulled him back and forced him down the street before the cop across the way decided that he wanted to pick a fight.
After a few minutes of silence Mike decided to bite the bullet and ask Puck how much they had.
It took a few seconds for the fact that they now only had half of what they needed to get the stupid accordion to sink into Mike's agitated brain.
He stopped and grabbed onto Puck, staring him dead in the eye (because he didn't want any confusion, he wanted to soak in every…single…detail).
"What happened," Mike asked, barely able to contain his anger. "To the rest of it?"
Puck, unable to see the warning signs, answered with less tact than he should have. "Well, there's the hat," he began, counting off on his fingers. "The ice cream, and then I put a little into the hat to encourage-"
"You what?" Mike bit out, visibly shaking, and Puck continued, oblivious.
"Well, who puts money in an empty hat? That implies we have no skill and we most certainly have skill-"
"So," Mike interrupted, staring at the ground in a poor attempt to restrain himself. "You're saying we actually have less money than before?"
"Yeah," Puck sighed, sounding only slightly upset by their predicament. "Sucks right?"
Mike had learned that there were some things you didn't ask about.
He didn't ask how much money Puck put in the hat to "encourage" people because odds were, he didn't want to know.
He didn't question why Puck wasn't as bothered by this as he should have been because he honestly didn't care.
And finally, he didn't ask if Puck thought they would have enough time to hunt down another accordion because Mike already knew and accepted the answer.
What he did do, when it finally came down to it, was feel a little part inside of him snap, and he may, or may not, have gone Ragin' Asian postal on the source of his distress.
"I'll kill you!" Mike shouted suddenly, hands fisting in Puck's shirt, not caring if he caught the attention of any of the strangers around them, including the cop. He kept going before Puck could open his stupid mouth and respond. "I will kill you!" He shouted again, leaning into Puck's face, who, for the first time that evening, looked like he was taking Mike seriously.
"You will die!" Mike declared, attempting to throttle the other teen but Puck held fast to his arms, shooting the people around them a "oh, don't mind him look", like it happened all the time, like Mike was always crazy, like this was just the norm. It was fuel to the fire, and Mike was on a roll now. "There will be death! There will be death and destruction and I will hide your body and no one will ever find it because you will be dead because I will have killed you!"
His voice had descended into a murderous growl by the end of it, and Mike forced himself to take several deep breaths in a futile effort to calm down.
A crowd had gathered but he didn't care, Mike could hear the frantic whispering, wondering if he really was deranged. It only served to make him angrier, and by the time one of the observers was brave enough to come see what the problem was, he'd recharged himself.
A voice, deeper, a little southern twang to it tried to intervene, "Son-"
But Puck, ever so helpful Puck, interrupted before the voice could get to far. "Don't mind him," he explained in a casual manner. "He's just a little stressed."
A little stressed?
"No!" Mike exploded, releasing his death grip on Puck and turning wildly to address the crowd gathered around them. "Mind me! All of you," he shouted, pointing at the mass of gawking strangers. "Mind me! I will not be ignored; I will not be pushed around!" He turned back to Puck, who finally almost looked as bothered as Mike was, and the Asian teen jabbed his finger at his chest wishing he had Jedi mind powers so he could really do some damage.
"You think you can push me aside," he growled bitterly, getting in the other teen's face. "And shove me around and pretend I'm not there!" Puck flinched at his sudden raise in volume. "News flash," Mike exclaimed, jabbing at him a few more times. "I exist!" He turned back to their audience, pointing at himself frantically. "Look at me, I'm existing!"
They were frozen, just like Puck was frozen, not really sure what to do, and Mike just…kind've deflated a little, tangent over, feeling mildly liberated.
Before he could think of something else to say a man in a business suit cut in, and for a moment Mike almost though he was talking to him and a new fit of rage almost began, but then he realized the man was addressing Puck, "I think you owe him an apology."
The rest of the crowd murmured in agreement, nodding, an older lady with her hands on her hips shaking her head in disappointment, one guy even reached out and patted Mike on the shoulder comfortingly, and for once Mike was the one who was being listened to.
He looked at Puck expectantly, but the mohawked teen wasn't paying attention to him, his eyes were on the business man. "Hey, this isn't any of your business," he replied, and the crowd practically booed in response, disapproving, and Mike got worked up again, glaring at Puck.
"No! He's right!" he announced, back to yelling. He turned to the executive, "Thank you!" His voice cracked a little and he winced, coughing into his hand. Mike hadn't done this much shouting in a long time, and his throat seemed rather confused by the sudden work out.
"Chang," Puck warned, getting tired of their interruption, like one more delay was going to kill them, but Mike was not willing to give up his spot light yet.
The dancer turned to the guy who was patting his shoulder. "He doesn't even call me by my first name," he lamented, and the shoulder pats intensifed.
"He doesn't?" the guys asked, disbelieving, and Mike didn't know why a random stranger would care about him more than his actual friends do but for the life of him, he doesn't seem to care.
"Nope," he replied, shaking his head sadly, and the group made assorted sounds of sympathy.
"Dude," shoulder guy murmured, feeling Mike's pain; and Puck made and exasperated sound.
"Oh my god," he grumbled, running a hand across his face, and he paused to collect himself. "Mike," he bit out. "Stop being such a girl."
The crowd did not like that response, and disapproving tones, along with insults and barbs were thrown Pucks way.
"See what I deal with?" Mike appealed to the people around him, and a lady stepped forward, partway between him and Puck.
"You need to treat him better," she suggested.
"Yes, yes he does," Mike agreed and the audience agreed and soon everyone is nodding except for Puck.
"What is this?" Puck asked no one in particular. "Oprah?"
The old southern voice from earlier interrupted again, but Mike couldn't connect a face to it because there were people blocking him, "Son, just apologize."
So…He was Mike's favorite.
Sure, Mike was a big fan of shoulder-guy and hands-on-hips-lady and treat-him-better woman, but apologize-cowboy had definitely leapt to the top of his list.
Puck, however, was still refusing to give up his losing battle, and made a drastically bad decision. "I didn't do anything," he insisted.
The words ignited something in Mike, that cracked place from earlier, and the anger that had settled into despair boiled up again and he made a mad lunge for Puck. Shoulder-man and a few miscellaneous others held him back though, leaving him awkwardly clawing at thin air.
"Let me go!" Mike bit out, thrashing against them. "My fist must meet his face!"
Puck, what little glimpses Mike could get of him, almost looked afraid, and he should, and the was is growing in numbers and volume, the old people catching the new people up on everything they had missed.
The cowboy, southern gentleman voice was back, and Mike still couldn't see him, but that was fine because he was talking to Puck. "Apologize," he ordered in a tone that expected to be obeyed. "Now."
Cowboy man, seriously Mike's favorite.
"Fine," Puck sighed, resigned, and Mike stopped his struggle, waiting in anticipation.
"Mike," Puck began, and from the look on his face Mike could tell that he was going to be in for it later. "I'm sorry."
Mike really, really wanted to see if he could milk him for more, and by the looks of it the people around him wanted to see more too, but then his cell phone vibrated and he remembered the actual reason they were out of the hotel in the first place, and he was willing to bet that Puck would only let this go if he ended it now, so he simply nodded in acceptance, flashing his friend a thumbs up.
Their audience gave a few disgruntled murmurs, disappointed that it ended so anticlimactically, but it wasn't their studly teenage body that would be trapped in the same room with Puck later, it was his, and as nice as momentary recognition was, Mike still wanted to get back to Ohio in one piece.
He made his way over to Puck, pulling out his cell phone to see what the news was, and looked up in time to realize that the cowboy, southern gentleman who had been his favorite actually turned out to be…
The cop from across the street.
Mike had just threatened to kill someone, multiple times, and hide the body, and punch someone in the face in front of a cop.
He was going to jail.
Mike froze, phone in hand, and saw his life flash before his eyes
He couldn't go to jail in New York, he had never even gone to jail in Ohio! You know who went to jail in Ohio? Puck, Puck went to jail in Ohio and guys like Mike stayed on the straight and narrow and went through life without attracting any unwanted attention and stayed on the straight and narrow forever and ever and ever until they died!
Did Mike mention the straight and narrow?
He was going to die in jail! That was what they did right? He was pretty sure there were hardened criminals in there, and he couldn't-
As though he could read his mind, the street cop interrupted Mike's frantic train of thought. "Tell you what," he began, catching Mike's attention. "You two agree to seek out counseling, I'll let you off with a warning."
Mike could do counseling. He could totally do that and not go to jail/prison/death.
Puck has started talking before Mike had fully accepted the gift fate had given them. "What the hell do we need-?"
"Yes!" Mike interrupted, loudly, unwilling to be caused any more pain by this imbecile. "I mean…" he started again when the cop gave him a strange look. "We accept your terms."
As they turned to leave one of the women reached out and grabbed Mike's arm before he got to far away and whispered, "Don't let him push you around, okay?" and Mike just nodded numbly, still shocked at his near scrape with jail time.
They walked back off down the street, heading towards the meeting location empty handed. They'd just have to do it a cappella, and if Finn tried to give them any grief for it Mike would be more than willing to explain their little hunt around New York to him.
There was a few minutes of uncomfortable silence before Puck broke it.
"What's it say?" he asked, gesturing to the phone in the dancer's hand, and Mike pulled it up quickly, having forgotten about it entirely.
When he finished reading it he stopped, looked up, and cursed at the sky as quietly and effectively as possible and shoved the phone in Puck's direction before he got a chance to ask why. After that Mike kept walking, thrusting his hands into his pockets.
Abort mission, it had read, Sam borrowed an accordion from another school. Meet up as planned.
What a load of malarkey.
They did "meet up as planned", and they did serenade Finn and Rachel, and they did leave them to their own devices and return the accordion and make it back to their room in relaxed silence.
Later, when Finn told them that the plan was not a success Mike managed to shove aside his aggravation and comforted him with the rest of the guys in the hands-off, macho way they usually did, and soon the evening degenerated into channel surfing and consuming massive amounts of junk food.
As though it were a silent pact, neither Mike nor Puck spoke of the incident in the park for the rest of the trip.
It was just one of those things you learned not to talk about.
So I finally got around to watching the season two finale, and I've got to say that scene in the boys hotel room had to be my favorite. I also liked how they backed Finn up with a street serenade but I couldn't help but wonder where the hell Puck had gotten the accordion.
And then this happened.
I know the answer, the prop guy gave it to him and they shot the scene and it was cute and all well and good but I kept wondering what the story behind it was.
And when did Puck learn to play the accordion?
Whatever, that's another story. I came up with these strange turn of events, featuring my favorite, Mike, and my second favorite, Puck as they hunt down their elusive prey, though somehow it turned into a couple's therapy section near the end.
Eh, it just came to me and I rolled with it.
Feedback is warmly accepted and appreciated.
Until next time.