I'll Try Not to Sing out of Key
Summary: He's doesn't always understand the situation she's gotten herself into, but it doesn't mean he won't be there to help if she asks. He'll always lend Brittany his ear. Companion to And I'm Calling on You to Be My Lifeline. Mike/Brittany friendship. Brittana. Tike.
Spoilers:Furt through Original Song.
Disclaimer: These characters? Not mine. Not at all.
Author's Note:A companion piece to And I'm Calling on You to Be My Lifeline, since I felt like I only really told one side of the story. And I have a lot of Mike feelings. And Mike and Brittany feelings. And Brittana feelings. And Tike feelings.
I just have a lot of feelings about these two ships, okay?
"Well, why don't you just use a dictionary?"
"Because I don't know how to spell it, Mike. How do I look it up if I can't spell it? And it isn't even in English. That makes it a lot harder."
"So just say it a different way. Mr. Schue won't care. Or just Google it. Type in 'Spanish word for pa-'"
He can practically hear Tina shake her head, "I refuse to use Google as a substitute for doing my homework. You know that."
It isn't like she'd be telling the website to write the paper for her, she would simply be asking it how to spell a word in Spanish. It's how Mike managed with his paper when the translation guide in the back of their textbook wasn't enough.
"I'll just ask Mr. Schue next time we see him. Is your paper done?"
Mike leans forward at his desk, shaking the mouse to bring his computer out of sleep. "Got it right here," he says, bringing up the file he had minimized on the screen. "The Chang Family History, en Español. Besides that one part, do you need any other help with it?" He offers.
"No," Tina declines, "I'm almost done. I just got to it late because I had that Geography report to write-"
"Which I'm sure you did fine on," Mike interrupts.
Tina scoffs and then giggles, "You only say that because you're the boyfriend."
Mike starts spinning his computer chair in lazy half circles back and forth as he talks into the phone, "I say it because it's true."
"Okay, well. When I'm all done can you edit it? And can you print it for me too? I busted my printer."
"Why don't you get your dad to fix it?"
"… I haven't exactly told him yet."
Mike frowns, his voice taking on a mock-stern tone, "Tina. What did you do?"
"It's nothing, it's nothing, okay? I'll fix it. But can you print mine until I get around to it?"
"Sure. Like I'd say no."
"You are so wonderful."
"You only say that because you're the girlfriend."
Tina laughs and begins arguing with him but Mike gets distracted as his phone beeps that someone else is calling him. "Hey, Tina? Can I call you back? Someone else is on the other line."
"Oh, I see how it is," she jokes, "Someone more important than your girlfriend calling?"
"No one is more important than you, Tina. I love you. I'll call you back later?"
Tina agrees and says her goodbye before hanging up. He ends the call and his phone stills for a moment before it buzzes and rings in his hands, The Jellyfish written across the display.
He's entered as The Lobster in hers.
It's the little things that make their friendship.
Smiling, Mike answers, "Hey, Britt."
"Hi," Brittany replies glumly.
A frown begins to etch itself onto Mike's face, "What's up?"
Brittany sighs but stays quiet on the other line.
She sighs again, "I… Never mind. I can't talk right now, I'm supposed to be watching my sister until my parents come home." Mike begins to protest, wondering why she called in the first place if she can't talk, but she starts speaking again so he quiets. "Mike, do you…"
"Do you… do you believe in fate?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well…" the girl begins, "Like karma? Do you believe in karma? If somebody does something not so good then they'll suffer for it? As payback? Or if someone does something they're pretending is good but actually isn't then the universe will be mad at them and make their life miserable?"
Mike blinks a few times, processing this. "What," he starts, "What happened? Why… why do you think you're being punished?" He's not quite sure he's following her train of thought.
"I just…" she lets out a long exhale. "What if I'm doing something for the wrong reason? What if I'm doing something nice but it actually isn't? I don't want to make this whole mess worse."
"Define 'nice.'" Mike asks, turning off his computer and propping his legs up on his desk. He keeps swivelling his chair back and forth though, fidgeting as he listens.
"I think I'm trying to make myself feel better because… because… because someone hurt me. But by me making myself feel better, I think I'm hurting someone else. I just… I don't know what to do."
Mike spins once more, a little too forcefully this time, and his legs fall from the desk and drag on the floor until he's facing away from the computer and looking out his window. He's confused, trying to sort out exactly what the blonde is alluding to. Brittany isn't someone to intentionally hurt someone. Brittany's more the person who tries to help if someone's been hurt. He sits for a long moment, thinking.
Eventually he asks, "Brittany, did something happen? What's wrong?"
But Mike realizes he waited too long to ask and Brittany's clammed up. He can tell she's lying, trying to distract him from the real problem, when she answers, "I still haven't started that Spanish paper for Mr. Schue. I told him I'd rather write about Lord Tubbington and Charity's family tree because it's more interesting, but he said no. I also told him it was really mean to assign us the paper when he knew we'd be performing at Kurt's Dad's and Finn's Mom's wedding this weekend, but he didn't listen. I should probably start that soon."
"You sure you're okay, Britt?"
"I'm fine," she says heavily, her voice monotone, "I'll see you tomorrow."
She hangs up, leaving Mike really confused.
Tina excuses herself from the dance floor – they've basically been on the dance floor all night now – but Mike continues dancing, letting his body dictate what to do. He finds dancing therapeutic sometimes, he doesn't have to think, he can just do.
He turns around, spotting Tina sitting down at one of the tables and rubbing her ankles through her strappy shoes. Rachel's sitting with her, amicably chatting and waving her arms.
They've been dancing for a long time now; it seems like hours since Finn lead them all through their song for Kurt. Most of the adults wandered on and off the dance floor during the night, but a few of the Glee kids haven't taken a break since the music started, dancing and laughing and going insane while the adults shake their heads at their antics.
Besides Mike, there are a few other people dancing, but most of the other Glee kids have finally given in to sore feet; not Mike though, he could keep going for hours. Sam and Quinn are twirling around each other off to one side of the dance floor, Sam's wearing a huge grin and Quinn's face is flushed as she twirls and her dress fans around her. Kurt and Puck are sitting at one of the tables talking with Kurt's dad. Mercedes and Santana are leaning against the bar; Mercedes is chatting up the bartender, Santana looks bored. Finn's standing over by the microphone talking with Mr. Schue, probably trying to convince their teacher to let them do karaoke.
Artie wheels past him suddenly, breaking Mike's focus of watching his friends as he continues dancing to scramble out of the wheelchair-bound boy's way; he's chasing after some of Finn's younger cousins, their high-pitched laughter sounding over the music. They parade right across the dance floor, Artie quickly rolling after them but expertly avoiding running over anyone's toes.
Rolling his eyes at his friend, Mike casts one more glace over the group of people with him on the dance floor before he goes over to join his girlfriend.
But something stops him.
He looks back and forth, missing the whirl of blonde hair that is attached to the only other person who gives him a run for his money when it comes to dancing. He can't see her on the dance floor, and he knows she was there a few minutes ago.
Mike looks over at Artie, watching as the small children try to get him to run into a wall. Brittany isn't with him.
He looks over at the other most likely choice; Brittany isn't with Santana either.
Backing off the floor and towards the tables, Mike searches for any sign of the blonde girl. When he doesn't find her his brows furrow, but he lets it go for the moment. She may have just gone to the washroom.
"Hey, you finally decided to take a break!" Tina giggles, coming up behind him and hugging him before gracefully spinning in front of him.
"It's less fun when you aren't there. And even less when everyone else disappears too."
She smiles, "Sorry, I was getting a foot cramp. I shouldn't have worn these shoes, they're a nightmare."
"Go sit back down, I'll get you something to drink so you can cool off."
"Are you being a sweet, doting boyfriend, or are you just doing this so I'll feel better sooner and will go dance with you again?"
Instead of answering Mike leans over and kisses her forehead before making his way to the bar to get himself and Tina a glass of water. When he returns, Tina's sitting down at their table, Sam and Quinn with her. He lightly drops down next to her and offers her one of the drinks, which she takes and downs readily.
They talk with Sam and Quinn for a while; Mike's foot twitches under the table the whole time in beat with the music still playing. The music is in his blood.
Eventually Kurt skips over to them, "Get off your asses, one of my aunts is going to teach us all how to line dance!" They comply, getting up and following him back out onto the floor.
Mike however, halts before they reach the group of people gathering. "Tina."
"I'll be back in a few, bathroom."
"Oh sure, leave me just as we're going to start dancing again."
"Relax," he assures, "I'll be right back."
Quickly making his way across the room, he steps into the hallway. It's immediately much cooler, and the music isn't as loud. There are a few people leaning against the walls, guys fanning themselves and girls rubbing their feet.
He tries the washrooms first, figuring that's the first place she'd go and one of the few reasons she'd stop dancing. But when he asks one of the women leaving the ladies room if there's a blonde teenager inside she tells him, "Nope, just me, Carole's sister, and some pregnant woman who I think should be taken to the hospital because she looks ready to pop that child out any moment now."
Mike blanches, because that's a pleasant thought.
Wandering up and down the halls of the reception building Mike stumbles upon lots of people, but none of them the one he's looking for. He starts peeking inside doors as he goes, hoping she just got lost trying to find the bathroom. It's unlikely, but he isn't sure what else to do.
When he tries the coatroom door he's met with a surprise. Brittany's sitting on the floor, surrounded by people's hanging coats and jackets. Her long legs are stretched out in front of her and she's leaning back on her hands. And there's a sad look on her face.
"Brittany," Mike says, surprised he's actually found her. "What are you doing in here?"
She lets out a long breath between her lips and shrugs her shoulders.
Knowing this isn't going to be a quick conversation, he closes the coat room door behind him and sits himself down on the ground so he's facing her. "Brittany, why are you in here and not dancing back with everyone else?"
She's yet to make eye contact with him. "Don't know," she replies, her words sounding heavy.
"You don't know?"
Brittany shakes her head, "I don't know, I just… I don't like weddings."
"I find that hard to believe."
"Believe it, Chang."
"Brittany, I've known you almost as long as I've known how to walk, you don't hate weddings."
"Yeah, I do," she argues flatly, not putting effort into her words.
"You've had what, two, three, cousins get married? And you've gone to each one. You were the flower girl in one, you loved it. You told me. You said you loved the dress you got to wear and were sad when you outgrew it."
She hasn't looked over at him yet, she's looking over his shoulder, but he can see a small smile tugging on her lips, trying to become free.
"You even made me drag you along to my older sister's wedding two years ago. You love weddings. You love the dresses. You love the people. You love the atmosphere. And you love the party and the dancing."
"Well, now I don't."
"And why's that?"
She doesn't answer.
"It's just that… that you're supposed to be happy at weddings." She finally makes eye contact with him, glancing his way and then flicking her gaze away again.
"Why aren't you happy?"
"It's not that I'm unhappy, I think I'm just… the wrong kind of happy."
Mike isn't really sure what this means. "There are different kinds of happy?"
Now she really does look over at him, and she's frowning. Not in an angry way, but a way that says she doesn't understand how he could ask something like that. The blonde crosses her legs, readjusting the red dress, and sits up fully as she starts speaking.
"There's lots of different kinds of happy, Mike. There's the happy you feel when you do a good deed; holding the door for someone or offering them your seat on the bus. There's the happy you feel when you help someone, like when you stand up for them or help them deal with something difficult and try to make them feel better."
Her eyes are gentle but she holds his gaze as she continues, "There's the happy you feel when you're with someone you care about. And that comes in all kinds; when you love them, when they love you, when you goof off. All different kinds of happy.
"There's the happy feeling you get when you accomplish something, like a grade or something like that. Or that feeling when you're all alone but you aren't lonely, you're just content. Or after a long run when you just feel really good."
Mike gets the point by now, but he doesn't interrupt. She's gone from monosyllabic answers to a full on tangent now, he doesn't want her to stop if this is going to lead to her opening up about what's been bothering her.
"Or when a song comes on the radio and you stop what you're doing and just smile. Or when you're lazing in the sun. Or the happy feeling I know you get when you start dancing."
Only when he's sure she's finished does Mike open his mouth to reply, "Okay, I get it. Different forms of happy. Okay, so, what happy are you right now, and why is it wrong?"
She quiets, and he watches her eyes un-focus as she thinks over this, trying to find an exact way to describe how she feels. "Right now I feel like… like in autumn, when the leaves change colour? You see all the pretty colours and everything is changing and you feel happy. It isn't an overjoyed happy, just simple and calm. Something as simple as seeing the colours leaves you relaxed and smiling and feeling just a little bit happy."
Mike tries not so snicker, "Is that so?" Listening to Brittany describe things is one of his favourite things, because she never takes the angle everyone else does, but she still manages to make sense. Her descriptions of things leave him in wonder sometimes.
She rolls her eyes and tosses him a light smile, "Yeah. That's how I feel right now."
"And why is that a bad thing?"
Brittany pouts, "Because at weddings you're supposed to feel ecstatic. The energy is supposed to leech from one person to another. The happy you're supposed to feel should be filled with confetti and parades and streamers. Not just small smiles. It isn't right."
Mike words his next question carefully, "So, why do you feel like autumn and not confetti?"
The blonde bites down on her lip, keeping herself from answering. Her eyes skit away from him, landing on one of the coats hanging right near her shoulder. She looks really small right now, like a little girl sitting on the floor of her mother's closet, stealthily making a mess as she tries on all the clothes.
But her smile is missing.
"Brittany, if something's bothering you, you can tell me."
But her careful walls have gone back up and the moment's over; she's shifting from thoughtful-Brittany to fake-Brittany again, like he's seen her do many times before when she's trying to avoid being confronted by someone. He's always seen her submit instead of stand up and argue. It's just the way she is.
"We should head back," she says, getting to her feet and avoiding looking directly at him. "I promised Kurt a dance before we left; I don't want him to get mad and use his glitter gun on me."
She's smiling, and it isn't a smile Mike wants to see. But he doesn't push it as she tugs him along after her, leading him back to the party and their waiting friends.