"You sure it's going to be safe there?" Tina asks.
"Positive. We threw a sheet over it and it's leaning against a wall backstage. It looks just like the rest of the sound equipment back there," Mike nods, speaking quietly. He watches Tina look nervously towards the side of the stage, as if she can see the slushie machine they borrowed hiding behind the red curtain. "It'll be safe, don't worry."
"And the confetti?" She continues with her questions. They're sitting in the audience, having just finished watching Aural Intensity's… interesting performance. Tina is next to him, with Santana on her other side. Next to Santana is Brittany, and Artie in the aisle in his wheelchair. Puck is on Mike's other side. The other six along with Mr. Schue are sitting in the row in front of him.
While Mr. Schue was leading the rest of the club to their seats Puck and Mike snuck off to move the slushie machine off the bus. They had had to be careful, not wanting anyone in the audience – or the judges – to see them with it. It was supposed to be a surprise. They snuck into the audience in time to catch the tail end of Aural Intensity's strange song.
To be honest, Mike isn't really worried about them as competition.
"Rachel has the bags of confetti and the cups in her bag," Mike answers, inclining his head to where Rachel is sitting in the seat in front of Tina. Sitting at Rachel's feet is her backpack, which is surprisingly stuffed full considering it's only holding twelve cups and a few packs of confetti.
Then again, this is Rachel. He wouldn't be surprised if she packed a first aid kit or a bunch of thermal blankets, just in case something disastrous happened; such as one of the girls miraculously going into labor, like last year.
"What if someone takes off the sheet?" Tina asks, still looking over at the curtain.
"Then they'll see a non-working slushie machine. We'll fill the cups with the confetti right before we go on so no one knocks them over. Tina, don't worry, it will-" Mike cuts himself short, watching with a confused frown as Rachel turns around and kneels in her seat, trying to look at them all over the back of her chair.
"Uh, Rach? What are you doing?" Mercedes asks, who's sitting next to the tiny brunette.
"Just looking at how many people are in the audience."
Quinn arches an eyebrow, "Any particular reason?"
"Counting." Her head bobs as she counts the rows of seats and determines a rough number of people that are in the hall with them. "Okay, good. I think we'll have enough."
Puck huffs, "Enough what?"
"Kurt asked me to do him a favour before he and the Warblers went on stage." She leans back and pulls her backpack up onto her lap – she's still kneeling backwards on the seat – and opens it only enough to reach her hand inside, trying to keep whatever contents from spilling out.
"Rachel?" Brittany asks, leaning forward and gripping the top of the seat in front of her so she can peak over. She tilts her head to look down the row at Rachel. "What are you hiding in there? Is it a puppy?"
The brunette pulls her hand out of her bag, and in her grip is something that makes Mike's eyes widen in curiosity.
Mercedes looks totally thrown. "Is that a candle?"
Rachel nods wickedly, "Battery operated." She ignores the suggestive look Puck makes and continues, "We're supposed to pass them out to the audience."
Finn sports a dumbfounded look. "What?"
"They're props for Kurt's song. He said we'll know when to use them. Now help me hand these out quick before they come on stage!"
Mike, along with the rest of the New Directions, accepts an armful of the fake candles from Rachel. Not only is her bag stuffed full of them, but there are also two other backpacks at her feet – Kurt and Blaine's, how did she even get those? – also filled with the props. Everyone takes a bunch and they spread out, hurriedly passing them out to everyone in the audience. Whenever someone gives Mike a questioning look he repeats Rachel's words, "You'll know when to use them."
Mike isn't really worried about Aural Intensity. But the Warblers seem to have something big planned.
Mike hopes their own plan is bigger and better. Not that he wants to like, squash Kurt like a bug or anything, he likes Kurt. This is just friendly competition. May the best show choir win.
When the time for the plastic candles comes – Kurt and Blaine are dueting Candles, clever – they all turn them on and wave them in the air. Even without the theatrics, the duet is really good.
Tina says so as soon as the Warblers finish their second number and leave the stage. "Mike! Mike, they had candles! What if that's better than our confetti slushies?"
He just smiles and pulls her into a hug, "Don't worry. We'll kill this."
Mike and Brittany are at the slushie machine this time, pulling off the sheet covering it and beginning to get their supplies out of Rachel's bag.
"I love confetti," Brittany giggles, ripping open a bag with her teeth.
"Don't get that on yourself," he says without looking at her, knowing she has the capability to become covered in red confetti fairly easily. She and her younger sister have a thing for anything glitter related. He's un-stacking the cups, placing them on the floor next to the slushie machine so they can easily fill them.
Rachel is with the rest of the group off to the side of the stage, instructing everyone on where they need to stand for their entrance and going over instructions one last time.
"I know, that would totally ruin the surprise."
Mike nods in agreement. He's got all twelve cups laid out. Brittany hands him an opened pack and, taking her own, they begin filling the cups with red confetti.
"This is going to be so great."
His response is a silent nod. It is going to be great.
"Quinn is a genius," Brittany continues. They had come up with most of the song lyrics while Rachel and Quinn were off trying to write their own song, but it was Quinn's idea to slushie the audience.
Mike isn't sure who came up with the confetti aspect of the slushie. But it was probably Brittany.
There's a loud crash off to the left. Finn just tripped over some sound equipment as Rachel directs them all to their places.
When Mike turns back to his work he sees an unknown pair of feet standing next to the cups. He looks up from where he's crouching on the ground and sees Kurt.
He stands hastily, rubbing confetti off his hands and onto his pants. Stupid static-cling. "Kurt."
Kurt's eyes are wide as he looks between the slushie machine, the cups at Mike's feet, and Brittany sitting on the floor opening another packet of confetti. "Well. This looks… interesting."
"Kurt!" Brittany squeals, leaping to her feet to hug him. When she pulls back she smacks him lightly on the shoulder, "You guys performed already, you aren't supposed to be back here."
"Clearly. It appears I might get slushied. What are you guys-?"
Mike cuts him off, "Wait and see. Now go!" He steps forward and, grasping Kurt by the shoulders, spins him and gives him a good shove towards the stage exit.
"You guys did amazing!" Brittany calls after him. Then she looks down at their now fully filled confetti cups. "I think we're good." She bends and grabs a few, setting them side by side on the slushie machine. Mike helps her, and pretty soon they're ready to do.
"You know when to sneak off stage?" She asks as they make their way over to join the others, who are in their places and waiting to go out.
"And you'll be all ninja-like so no one notices?"
"Good," she nods before skipping away from him. She twirls a circle around Sam, smacks Puck's ass, and then grabs Santana by the waist from behind and giggles into her ear. Santana shrieks in surprise but Brittany's already moved on, twirling past Artie and sliding to a stop in her assigned spot next to Tina.
He knows that, whether they win or lose, Brittany plans on telling Santana today.
For her sake, Mike hopes they win. It will make it all that much more exciting.
Tina gives him a knowing smile as she holds Santana back a moment on stage so they're the last ones off and at the back of the group. They had agreed on this with Brittany; Tina is supposed to put the ball in motion while Mike gives Brittany moral support as the group makes their way back to the green room.
Not that Brittany needs it. She's up front with Rachel, laughing and singing as they lead the group down the hallway.
"Well I for one think that was the best performance we've ever given," Artie says as Mike pushes his chair down the hallway.
"Does it top last year?" Sam asks, "When Quinn popped out the baby?"
Mercedes laughs, "One, we didn't win that. Two, you do know she didn't have the baby on stage, right?"
"Still probably made it a lot more exciting."
"Oh yeah," Mercedes agrees. "Watching Quinn's already ghost-pale face go even whiter, top of my list of exciting things that have happened."
"I heard that!"
"Why are you guys talking about last year?" Rachel asks, spinning to walk backwards down the hall so she can see them. Brittany joins her, spinning in front of Rachel to her other side so their linked hands can continue swinging.
Before any of them can respond, Brittany cuts in, "We didn't win last year!"
Rachel continues, "We won this year! You guys! Do you know where we're going?"
Both girls give an excited shout of "New York!" before turning tail and running down the last stretch of the hallway and bursting into the Green room in a fit of laughter.
"No more sugar for the giggle twins." Mercedes smiles.
Sam nods, "I think they both may have ingested some of the glitter."
"Has anyone ever been to New York?" Artie asks as the rest of the group follows the two girls, stepping into the room and spreading out to wait until they can leave.
"I've been to New York State," Mike offers as he drops onto one of the couches, "I have a cousin who lives in the Hudson Valley."
"Been to Long Island a few times," Puck offers, opting to stand behind the couch and drape his upper half over the top rather than just sit on the thing. "Pretty rad place. You?" he asks, nodding as Artie parks himself in front of the couch.
"Wheelchair flying is kind of a hassle, we try to avoid it," Artie answers, tapping the arms of his chair. "And my Mom gets motion sickness when we drive anywhere for too long. We tried to drive to Florida once when I was younger."
"Tried?" Mike asks.
"We got as far as the Ohio border before she made us pull over. We spent the night in a motel in Cincinnati. Dad bought us pizza while Mom made friends with the toilet bowl in the motel bathroom."
Mike makes a face. That doesn't sound fun. Puck laughs heartily, "I didn't know people actually did that."
Mike turns his head to look at the boy, because, what? "What, get sick?"
"Get motion sickness in cars. I thought that was just on T.V."
Artie launches into a medical explanation and Mike kind of zones out, not really that interested in what causes someone to feel sick simply from looking out a car window. He'd rather not have those thoughts floating through his head the next time he's out for a drive.
He glances around the room instead. Everyone is still glowing from their epic performance and news of their win as they wait around for Mr. Schue. Lauren is sitting at the other end of the couch, playing Angry Birds. Finn and Quinn are standing off to one side. Quinn is talking and Finn is making a big show of pretending to be listening but actually trying to subtly watch Lauren play her game. Rachel is trying to get Puck's attention but Puck actually seems to be more interested in Artie's explanation of the difference between car sickness and vertigo.
Brittany is standing talking with Mercedes and Sam; the two girls are laughing as Sam does an impression of Coach Sylvester when she found out her glee club didn't win. Mike watches them for a moment and sees Brittany's eyes flicker over to the doorway every few seconds, waiting.
Sure enough, Tina and Santana finally make their way through the door. Tina mumbles something to the other girl just as they step inside and Mike watches Santana's face pale. She stops moving for a moment, like her heart has actually stopped beating, as she processes his girlfriend's words.
Mike looks away, wanting to give Santana a little bit of privacy in the moments she finds out Brittany and Artie are no longer together. Tina is her confidant, not him. He doesn't want to intrude on their moment.
After a few seconds, however, of pretending to listen to Artie, Mike feels his skin begin to crawl and the hairs on the back of his neck stand. He can feel the heavy gaze Santana is giving him. He keeps his eyes lowered a moment longer, forcibly pulling up a blanks mask, before looking up at her.
Santana's gaze surprises him. She looks serene for a moment, like someone has just woken her from a hundred year slumber and she's blinking back the sleep in her eyes to look at her saviour. Her chest is rising and falling slowly and her eyes are wide and glossy. Hopeful. She looks like there is a little flicker of hope inside her that she's afraid to let grow.
Mike wants to help her hope grow.
When her eyes meet his he holds her gaze a moment and raises his eyebrows, silently questioning her. Then he leads her gaze over to the blonde on the other side of the room, wanting her to make the connection that yes, everything Tina has hold her is true. He looks back at her and tries to convey everything he feels.
This is your moment, his look tells her. They have been fighting against each other while simultaneously fighting for each other for so long now; this is the moment Santana needs to realize she has to take the leap. She's standing on a platform. They've both been standing there, facing each other off, bearing their hearts, and Brittany's slowly been backing away towards the edge to the point where Santana can't see her anymore.
She needs to step to the edge and jump, trusting Brittany will be there to catch her. That's what his look tells her. To trust Brittany. To trust herself.
She gets it. He can see that Santana gets it from the little gasp she gives, her whole body flinching back with the knowledge. She leans into Tina slightly, and it's in this moment Mike sees just how much Santana has been relying on Tina to help her through this mess. The way she subtly seeks out Tina when the truth in his look is almost too much for her. He knew Tina had been there for Santana, but Mike didn't realize just how deep the bond was.
He smiles at Santana now, wanting to reassure her that everything will be okay, but it's too late now. Her eyes have left him in favour of Artie, still parked in his wheelchair next to Mike.
He glances side long at Artie, watching the boy smile his understanding and nod his approval at Santana. Artie may not know just how deep the connection between Santana and Brittany is, but he knows Brittany was never his. He knows and he understands. His nod at Brittany lets Santana know that it's okay; she can go get her girl now. There's nothing in the way except her own fear.
Mike smiles, watching as Santana seems to move in slow motion, her body turning inch by inch to seek out Brittany. The blonde is still chatting with Sam and Mercedes. She's like their own personal bundle of sunshine, all smiles and giggles. When she feels Santana's gaze she looks up, a thousand sunrays packed into the smile she sports.
Brittany turns away from the other two but they don't seem to notice, able to carry on the conversation without her. She cocks her head playfully at Santana, challenging her, the way Mike has seen her do a million times at Jupiter's when someone thinks they can out-dance her. It isn't a mean or threatening challenge, simply a 'let's see what you've got' sort of look she wears, waiting to see what they can do so she can match it and do better.
From the moment Santana stepped into the room she's been a rubber band, becoming more and more twisted with each second.
Mike can visibly see the moment the rubber band snaps.
One minute Santana is standing in the doorway, the next she's in Brittany's arms. She grabs onto Brittany, arms locking around her neck and Mike worries for a moment that they're both going to fall over from the force of her impact. But Brittany readjusts, planting her feet and steadying herself as Sam reaches over to make sure she isn't going to fall into him. He looks a bit confused at the interaction between the two girls, but doesn't say anything as Santana literally lets her body sag into Brittany.
"They're cute," Mike mumbles into Tina's neck as she drops to sit down on his lap. His arms loop around her middle to hold her there as they both continue to watch scene unfold. His money is on happy tears from Santana and adoring smiles from Brittany by the time it all ends.
Eventually Santana pulls back, looking up desperately into Brittany's eyes. "You broke up?" She asks meekly, like she is afraid this is all a joke and someone is going to pull the rug out from under her. "You're single now?"
"Yeah," Brittany says lamely, giggling and nodding like a puppy.
Santana still looks hesitant, "And he…"
Mike chances a glance at Artie, he's watching the interaction too. But he doesn't look hurt. Simply intrigued and a little happy almost, like he's glad that Brittany's happy. Mike isn't sure if it would be a stretch or not to say Artie is happy that Santana is happy, seeing as how he and Santana don't really get along due to their mutual like for a certain blonde dancer, so he'll stick with the Brittany's happy idea.
"It's okay," Brittany reassures her, still smiling, "He gets it."
Brittany shoves her playfully, "It's okay, San."
Mike's hands squeeze tighter around Tina when he sees a tear roll down Santana's cheek. Her hands grip his in response.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
He knows that look, the one Brittany's wearing. It's her scheming look. "Well, I was kind of hoping you'd notice yourself and that maybe you might just come right out and kiss me t-"
It's like something out of those ridiculous romantic comedies Tina makes him watch, the way Santana leans up on her toes and kisses Brittany, cutting off her sentence.
God, how has it taken them this long, really?
Mike frowns at how fast Santana pulls back. She looks up nervously at the blonde, teeth worrying her lip, as she waits for Brittany to speak. She doesn't look around the room however, to see who's noticed them, which is something Mike is proud of, since he knows this whole thing started with Santana's worries about what other people would think. She keeps her eyes locked on Brittany.
Since he's curious though, he glances away from the couple. Quinn's leaning against the wall, watching and smiling sweetly. Finn's standing and looking over Lauren's shoulder, both of them engrossed in her game. Behind him Puck is watching, but Rachel's moved to talk with Sam and Mercedes, both of whom are still oblivious.
Brittany too frowns at how fast Santana pulled away.
Santana picks up on it and tries to explain, "Britt, please-"
Santana's voice wavers with desperation but she pushes the words out, "Be with me, please, I love you, be with me. Be… be my girlfriend."
Mike feels overcome with a strong urge to clap at the display, but settles for squeezing Tina again. She gives a slight giggles at him but doesn't look away from the girls.
Santana gives a long whine when Brittany doesn't answer. Mike has to bite down to keep from laughing at the look Rachel wears when she glances at them when she hears the noise. She's looking at them like one might look at a kitten who's tripped over its own feet. Sam blinks, trying to figure out what he's missed. Mercedes throws a hand over her heart dramatically and coos. Lauren and Finn finally look up from the game, both with semi-confused expressions.
Everyone is watching them now. He doesn't know if either of them are aware, what with the way they are looking so intently at each other. Santana looks like she's afraid she's going to be slapped – her fear of rejection, Mike rationalizes. She can't actually be expecting to be slapped.
The blonde, however, looks all business as she speaks, "Prove to me you want this."
Mike can see how much Santana really want this, because there is no hesitation in the way she leans up to kiss Brittany again. No nervous looks, no chewed lips, no wrung hands. She just tips her head and kisses Brittany.
She's just stepped off her platform.
And Brittany's arms were there to catch her. They loop gently around her back as Santana clings to her, clearly afraid the moment is a dream.
Mike doesn't hesitate either, except he isn't kissing anyone. He's elbowing Puck in the arm when the boy gives a very inappropriate wolf whistle. "Dude, not now."
Puck huffs, eyes rolling.
The whistle seems to have gotten their attention though. They pull apart but stay in each other's space. Santana's eyes flicker away for half a second before landing back on Brittany, pleading with her for some sort of direction.
"Santana," Brittany says playfully, almost mocking how nervous how Santana looks.
Still teasing, Brittany continues, "What about what everyo-"
"I love you." Tina's hands squeeze Mike's at the admission. Mike squeezes back.
And then nearly chokes on his own laugh at how Santana comically spins and addresses everyone else in the room. She looks absolutely terrified but her words are clear and sure, "I love her. I'm gay. I love Brittany." Mike is really having a hard time with how blunt this all is. It's sweet, but kind of awkward and amusing all rolled together. "I like girls. I love her." She turns her back on them again as her hands grab Brittany's. "Be my girlfriend."
After months of wanting nothing but this, Brittany agrees. "Since you asked so nicely." They fall into another hug and Santana visibly relaxes in Brittany's arms because finally, something has gone right.
"Really Santana," Quinn asks, raising an eyebrow and shaking her head. "'I love her. I'm gay.' Really? That's how you're going to do it? I was expecting something a little more profound."
Mike tries not to snort. Tina digs her nails into his hands as punishment, silencing him.
"W-what?" Santana asks nervously, turning in Brittany's arms.
Quinn continues, undeterred, "If you'll remember, none of us had a problem with Kurt or his sexuality. I'm glad you told us," a smile breaks through, "Albeit kind of bluntly. But we knew. We were all just waiting for you to man up and admit it."
Finn gets their attention by raising his hand like he's asking permission to speak in class. "Uh, I didn't actually know. It's cool though, it's cool." He stops for a beat before exclaiming, "Oh, hey, my brother's gay too! You should totally meet him."
Mike doesn't know what to do with Finn sometimes but shake his head.
"I didn't know either," Mercedes says while Lauren nods along with her.
Quinn huffs, "Okay. Those of us with eyes who were actually watching you knew. But we're all happy you and Brittany finally worked it out."
Everything Quinn said is true, Mike thinks. After months of seeing the torture they've been through, after months of being there for Brittany when she didn't know where to go or how to find her footing, he's glad they've finally reached their happy ending.
"Yeah, I'm happy now too," Brittany beams. "I get you as my best friend and my girlfriend, all in one."
Mike really wants to just get up and go hug her, to hug them both, because he's so proud of – oh.
Santana's rushed over to them and is forcibly pulling Tina off his lap. His arms tighten around her for a moment before letting her be tugged to her feet, only to be swallowed in a desperate hug from Santana. She's hugging Tina almost as tightly as she was hugging Brittany.
When this is all over and done with, he really wants to ask Tina what went down between her and Santana to create such a strong bond. Because he's pretty sure he's never seen Santana hug Tina like this before.
"You're competing with Rachel for most dramatic at this point, you know." Tina scolds happily. But Santana just squeezes tighter before pulling back slightly to look her in the eye. Something strong passes between the two, a whispered thanks. Mike can't make out the words, but he can see the sincerity in Santana's eyes. She's grateful for her friendship with Tina.
He catches Brittany's eye and she ducks her head slightly, blushing. He waits, knowing she'll cave and look up eventually. And she does, bobbing her head as she looks back at him and smiles demurely, mouthing, "Thank you. For everything." Her eyes are moist.
Mike nods his head; she knows he'd do anything for her. And she'd do anything for him. That's what they do. They're the Jellyfish and the Lobster, best friends and kick ass dance partners. He may not 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.