Closest We've Ever Known
The gleeks, and the people who made them. One-shot. A look at the glee club and their parents. Gen.
A/N: This is probably going to be retconned so bad but I don't care at this point. Enjoy.
A/N2: Based on the S3 spoilers, it has already been retconned! Oh well! Don't care.
Mike Chang's parents are white.
It's not like it's a secret, or if it is, Mike never intended for it to be, but everyone always acts surprised when they meet his blonde haired, blue eyed mother for the first time. He'll tell anyone—if they bothered to ask—that he's adopted, and then he'll wonder what the big deal is.
His parents are good people, you see.
His parents are good people who couldn't have kids on their own, and so rather than dealing with invetro or anything like that, they decided to adopt a baby. From China, actually, because there are so many children in this world who need parents and really, who were they to discriminate? They are given a baby from China, and they decide to love and support him as much as they can.
So they give him two names. Michael, which is as white and American as they come, and they keep his birthmother's surname—Chang—which is as Chinese as they come. So Mr. Joshua Smith and Mrs. Rebecca Howard and baby Michael Chang become a family.
(People ask him all the time why his last name is different from his parents, but the way Mike sees it, no one in his family has the same name. His mother is an Independent Woman who refuses to give up her last name and honestly? He doesn't think she should have to. His family is his family, same name or not.)
And his parents are so good to him. They encourage him to take up dancing and the arts, they teach him about Chinese culture and traditions so he never feels like he's left his roots, and his mother takes him and Tina out for Din Sum like, all the time. They encourage him to embraces the things that make him different from everyone else: they send him to Asian camp, and they let him be in football and glee, even if they are less okay with him dressing up as a transvestite in front of the whole school. They love him, and he has never, ever doubted this.
He just wishes they'd realize that, at this point in his life, he's just as American as he is Chinese.
Santana Lopez's dad is a doctor.
He's a doctor, yeah, but if you ask Santana he's also an asshole, the type of man who cheats on his wife and then leaves her and his two kids near desolate while he moves into a big, nice house far from Lima, with his new wife and his new kids, the asshole.
Her mama works two jobs below minimum wage because she doesn't speak English well and people think they can get away with that shit because of it. Her dad sends a child support check that's always not nearly enough, and she and her brother are on his insurance, and she has to spend two weeks every summer at his big new house and watch as he spends more money than she's ever seen, but other than that, she doesn't talk to her dad, much. It's like he doesn't even exist.
So when she says she's from Lima Heights Adjacent, the wrong side of the tracks, she's not saying it to sound badass (well, okay, maybe a little).
She's saying it because she deserves better, and she knows it. She just wishes her father felt the same.
Santana Lopez could have been a nice girl with a daddy who loved her enough to keep her family above the poverty line, who showed his love by being there and not just sending her the occasional designer dress, the ones that could have paid the rent for the month.
But she doesn't, so she's a bitch instead.
Finn Hudson was conceived on a pinball machine.
His mother was nineteen years old, and young and pretty and in nursing school, far more interested in having fun than being in a serious relationship.
But then she got pregnant, and her summer fling was suddenly her very serious boyfriend, and then her husband, and she convinced herself that she was going to be happy with that. Christopher Hudson was a good man: he loved her, and he loved baby Finn, and he loved them both so much that he joined the army so he could provide for them both while Carole was still in school.
Then he died.
Then she was a widow at twenty-two, and she had to mourn a husband that she didn't really know, not really. And then Finn was at that age where he wanted to know everything about his father, so she told him everything she could and made up what she didn't, and when she went to bed at night she talked to an urn of ashes like it could talk back.
Sometimes, she wonders if she didn't just make it all up in her head. She loved him, yes, she would always love him, but sometimes she wonders if she wasn't just in love with the idea of him instead. Three years of marriage, and all she had to show for it was a ring, a baby, and a handful of memories. If he were still alive, would they still be married? She looks up at Burt, who is tall and handsome and real, whose smile actually reaches his eyes, who she genuinely loves. She doubts it. She really, really doubts it.
She won't tell Finn this, of course. Let him keep his heroes—she's found something better.
Elizabeth Hummel was a good woman but, maybe because she's dead, her son gives her a little bit too much credit.
She was an amazing woman—beautiful and smart and way too good for Lima, Ohio. If she was going to do anything in her life, it was going to be getting out of Lima.
But then she got pregnant her senior year of high school, and then Burt asked her to marry him, and before she knew it she had a bouncing three year old and was signing the lease on a house.
Which, okay, it wasn't what she wanted out of life, but it wasn't bad. She did really love Burt, and Kurt was her entire world, even if he wasn't planned. And Lima, Ohio was still awful but it was also the only home she ever knew.
So she settled for tanning and gardening and teaching, and she threw all her dreams on Kurt, instead.
"You're too good for this place," She tells him, kissing his soft hair as she rocks him to sleep. "One day, you're going to go so far, Kurt. You're better than everyone here. Never forget that."
(It might've been kinder, maybe, if she'd taught him how to make friends instead.)
Burt and Carole try to go to their kids' concerts when they can: they make time to go to the big ones—Sectionals, Regionals—but they both have jobs, and they just can't make it to this Night of Neglect thing, even though they want to. Carole's just started the night shift at the hospital, and Burt doesn't close the shop down until after the thing starts; even if he rushed, he'd still miss half of it. They are still used to being Single Parents; the thought on relying on another person to care for their baby is still something new and strange to them.
(Besides, neither of their kids are performing; it's a lot easier to miss these things when they know Kurt and Finn aren't the headliners.)
It's alright, though; the kids understand.
It's the thought that counts.
Mercedes Jones's dad is a dentist.
It's a good job, but a long one, one that involves a lot of hours and out of state conferences and emergency tooth fixes. His wife works a full-time job, too, so they're both gone a lot but they try and make it up to their kids when they can. Mercedes has never wanted for anything material-wise, and she knows she is loved. What more could she ask for?
Her parents don't go to her glee concerts any more than they went to her brothers' football games, or her sister's dance recitals. They're busy people, 'Cedes. They'll make it to the next one, they promise.
They never do.
Artie Abrams's mother is guilt-ridden.
He sees it every single day. Every time he wakes up and has to get help getting out of bed. Every time he rolls up the ramp into his house. Every time his dad has to drive him somewhere because he can't just ride with his friends. Every time he mentions dancing in glee club, and his mom's eyes get watery.
"It should have been me," his mother will cry to his dad, when she thinks he can't hear her. "I should be the one in the chair. It's not fair to Artie. It should have been me."
Except it shouldn't be, because Mom's asked the doctor this before, and if Mom had been where Artie was sitting she wouldn't be paralyzed, she'd be dead. Artie was a child when the accident happened, small enough that he actually missed the bulk of the damage: yeah, he's legs were ruined, but at least he wasn't dead. If his mother had been where he'd been, she'd be dead.
Call him a sap, but he'd take being in a wheelchair and having his mom over walking again and losing her any day.
Noah Puckerman's dad is a deadbeat, but that doesn't mean Puck's going to be one.
It's been years since Puck's seen the man, but he remembers that last moment clearly. The last thing his dad says to him, as his mom is kicking him out for the final time, is "don't be such a fuckup." Then he ruffled Puck's hair, like he actually gave a shit about him, and then he walked out the door for good.
Well fuck him if he thinks he can tell Puck how to act. Puck will do what he wants, and fuck him, fuck anyone who thinks they can tell Puck what to do.
But then he gets Quinn pregnant, and she'd rather pretend Finn was the father instead of Puck, 'cause Finn's not a fuckup. Then she gives up their baby-their sweet, sweet little girl—and he feels worse than a deadbeat dad, worse than a fuckup. Then he gets sent to juvie and oh man, he's done it this time. He's just like his dad. He's a fuckup. He's going to be a deadbeat dad on top of already being an absent one.
But then Artie offers to tutor him so he doesn't fail geometry. And Mr. Schue makes him the am-badass-ador for glee club. Then Lauren comes tumbling into his life, and he knows she's not going to let him fuck up too much, and maybe that makes him whipped but damnit, it feels good to be one of the good guys for once. He loves Lauren, and he loves glee club, and if that makes him less of a badass, then so be it.
He graduates high school with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, a community college acceptance letter pinned proudly to his locker, and he knows that if his dad wasn't such a fuckup, maybe he'd be proud of his son for not doing the same.
If Tina Cohen-Chang could just be invisible, maybe her parents would still be married.
She remembers when they were still married, just like she remembers a time when they were both happy, though that was a long time ago. She was little.
She remembers the first time they fought with her around: she was young, and tiny, and singing, as loud as she possibly could, her heart practically bursting with song.
Then her dad starts yelling at her, telling her to be quiet, how can he get any work done if she was singing so loud? And then her mother snaps, yelling at Daddy for yelling at her, how dare he?
Tina's older now, and she knows her parents were unhappy and they fought about everything, that they didn't get divorced because of her. But a child's feelings of guilt are a hard thing to ignore, and so she does her best to become invisible. She wears dark colors so she blends in with the shadows. She fakes a stutter so she doesn't have to talk.
It takes her ten years before she sings again; her parents never notice either way.
Family is such a hard thing for Quinn to understand.
Most people don't get it, either. They see Quinn's daddy, a strong, good Christian man who does what he's supposed to. They see Quinn's mama, a good Christian woman, who doesn't speak unless spoken to, who works out of the house because that's where a woman belongs. They see Quinn's sister, who is pretty and perfect, with a perfect house and a perfect husband and lives as far away from Lima as she possibly can.
And then they see Quinn, except they don't, not really, because no one sees Quinn. Not really. They didn't see her when she was a sad, lonely, pathetically overweight girl with self-esteem issues. They didn't see her when she was the head cheerleader, either, when she matched the rest of her perfect family. They didn't even see her when she was pregnant, but they got kind of close, got to see the angry, bitter girl buried beneath the Barbie doll complex, and that scared her so much that she did everything she could to erase that part of her the second it was over.
So she cuts her hair, and wonders if anyone will notice.
(They do: Mr. Schue compliments her bold new style almost immediately. In the same breath, Kurt shrieks over the loss of her luscious locks while offering to take her shopping, because baby doll dresses with that hairstyle? Not a look anyone should attempt, but honestly, it's a good hairstyle for Quinn's face. Brings out her eyes. Artie tells her that she looks pretty minutes before they perform at Nationals, a soft smile on his face, and Tina giggles into her ear that she had nothing to worry about when she was so worried at Christmas time about cutting her hair short—it looks so good on her!)
Her mother doesn't notice that her daughter cut her hair short until almost the end of summer, and at that point, she doesn't care anymore. The people who matter noticed, and that's all that matters.
Brittany Pierce is strange, but if you met her family, you'd know why.
If you asked Quinn, she'd tell you that Brittany's parents are hippies, and if you asked Santana she'd tell you that Brittany's parents are on drugs, and the fact of the matter is both are probably right. Brittany doesn't see it like that, though. Brittany sees it as her parents, who love her and care for her, but, maybe, they don't care for her that much. No one has ever sat her down and told her magic isn't real. No one ever sat her down and explained to her why she started bleeding once a month, or where babies come from. Brittany gets her reality from television, from books and magazines and cartoons, and in those worlds, magic is very, very real. No one has ever seemed to realize that she doesn't know the difference between reality, and fiction.
"Of course Santa Claus is real, my little duck." Her daddy tells her, laughing and rolling up another joint. He offers her one, but she declines, because if she fails another drug test then she won't be able to be on the Cheerios and Coach Sylvester will kill her and Santana will be so, so very sad. "Why would he not be?"
She thinks, sometimes, that her Daddy is a very, very smart man but, maybe, a terrible parent.
Rachel Berry's fathers don't know how to be parents.
It's hard, at first, when Rachel is still very little, because no one writes a book on how to be Gay Parents. There are no rules that say which one has to be the Mom and which one has to be the Dad, because they should both be dads. They are. They are Daddies. Plural. But part of that is that they are both men, who have jobs, who want to provide for their sweet little angel. At the same time, one of them has to stay home and take care of her, so they take turns. This means for every minute of every day, Rachel Berry is the center of someone's universe. This means she gets twice as many toys and twice as much attention, because neither of them knows how to say no.
The problem is that they want to give her everything, but some things you can't give your children—you have to teach them. You can't give them friends, but you can teach them how to make them. You can't give them selflessness, but you can teach them how to put others before themselves. You teach them how to share.
Rachel's dads are really good parents, who love her and care for her and want to do everything for her, but they are terrible teachers.
Lauren Zizes's parents want to give her the world.
She wanted to be a beauty queen, so they signed her up for pageants, even when she didn't fit the same mold as all the other tiara toddlers. She wanted to join the wrestling team, so they sued the school.
Lauren joins the glee club, so they show up to her concerts.
"I don't understand," her mother asks her as they drive home that night. "Why were we the only ones there? Do these kids not have parents or something?"
Lauren shrugs, tugging her iPod out of her ear, because it's something she's wondered, too. "I don't know, maybe they were busy or something?"
Her mama frowns, disapproval radiating. "That's not right; parents should make time for their kids. I don't care how busy they are—parents should be there for their kids, especially if it's important to them."
Lauren nods, but she understands something that maybe her mama doesn't: the glee club is a family, and their bond is stronger than most blood relatives could hope for.
She wonders, not for the first time, if the glee club has bonded so fiercely because they're the underdogs at school, or if it's because this is the closest thing to family any of them have ever known.