*Stormy Weather - Billie Holliday
Authors Summary: McKinley was like all other high school; a world within a world where hierarchy and ranking still lived. Teens struggle to survive those crucial years where social status determines the fates of each student until their graduation day. In the midst of teenage angst and drama, two people threaten that balance when they both step over their lines. With ending of school into the first summer of her freshman year, Tina Cohen-Chang finds out how much she is able to change with just one choice.
*Songs in the chapters listed above each chapter.
I Love Mike Chang
Artie Abrams crossed the line once again and this time, I wasn't going to take it. He asked if I could take a ride on his magic stick at least once before school ends. My response was pouring the cup of ice tea in my hand down the front of his pants.
We were sitting in the cafeteria when I pulled that stunt. I knew I looked pretty awesome – even though it was towards a disabled person – with a dramatic exit to the applause of every single girl in the McKinley cafeteria.
But in the solitude of a blacked-out auditorium did I cry out my frustrations for loving such a pig-head.
Way to end your freshman year, Tina, I thought.
I sat on the edge of the stage, thinking about the choice I made. I tried so hard not to feel so alone by staring out at the exit signs lit read above the doors. It didn't seem to make a difference because I still felt like crap. I tried squeezing my closed eyes so tight that I could feel my heartbeat pounding in my head.
No, I am most certain I did the right thing. Through the throbbing pain of my self-inflicted headache and through the aching heartbreak felt inside my chest, I knew this as true.
And to add to that depressing list – he always made me pay for everything! I practically had to work an 8-hour shift after an 11-hour school day to take him out on Fridays! I wouldn't have minded this so much as the derogatory remarks he kept making about how my outfits didn't fit his hot-girl criteria.
Damn it, if he weren't so sweet and wonderful on better days, I would have dumped him way early into the relationship. And if I weren't so in love – nope! Not thinking about that word either so I squeezed my eyes even tighter.
I was hoping this would stop the tears, too. I didn't want to explain to Miss Pillsbury (I have to pass her office to get to my English class) why my eyes were puffy. As long as I could get the tears under control, I could run to the bathroom and clean up. It's not that I don't like Miss Pillsbury who probably heard the story already through the gossip channels of McKinley High School. I just wasn't ready to talk about it.
Besides, I was sure Mercedes or Kurt was searching the grounds to find me and console.
I'm really not ready.
I fell back onto the stage with my reopened eyes searching the darkness for anything other than thoughts of Artie. Or of wheelchairs; and no thinking about stuff he had left my house after make out sessions; and that stupid video we made singing, You're the One that I Want from Grease.
Obviously, this 'not-thinking-of-Artie' tactic was not working.
Suddenly the house lights lit up my vision that I started getting dizzy trying to adjust my eyes to the light. I made sure that I wiped my eyes. I couldn't deal with questions and if it were a girl, I wanted to make sure I looked as so over Artie as I did in the cafeteria to project that representation.
I blinked, turning to look up at an upside down Mr. Schuester. "Oh, hi, Mr. Schue…" I gave him one of my most winning smiles and a little wave of my hand.
He had on a light blue dress shirt and khaki slacks which were his usual attire every Wednesday. Slung over his shoulder was his black bag with sheet music sticking out of. I managed to get a peek at a tune I thought might belong to Paul McCartney before Mr. Schue turned away to place the bag on the grand piano sitting in the middle of the stage.
I popped upright and looked over my shoulder. Mr. Schuester gave me that look he always gives when he knows something is wrong. I tried to ignore it by giving him my best show face and luckily, he bought it. He returned the smile and crossed his arms, "Well, since you're here." He waved me over, "Can you help me with something?"
I quickly nodded; I'd do anything to get my mind off of Artie.
As I stood, Mr. Schue motioned for our piano accompanist, Brad, to play for us. Now that I think about it, I wonder how Brad always appears when needed. Before I could mull anymore time over this realization, I noticed Mr. Schue giving music to Brad who just nodded and started playing.
It was bittersweet with longing octaves of modulating minors and diminished chords, sweetly jazzy with a faint feel of rhythm and blues. There were no words and I knew it, for some odd reason; I merely wanted to move my body to it.
As the music played, out from the shadowed curtains of the stage, Mike Chang emerged. He was dressed in a neon-bright green blazer and slightly baggy jeans topped off with black sneakers that were worn out, no doubt from dancing. His big dark eyes caught mine and he gave me a soft smile, nodding a little. "Hey Tee," which was his usual greeting for me. I had gained it him and the other football players from the past few weeks after our Regional's defeat to Vocal Adrenaline, our rival show choir.
I still wasn't sure about the nickname but it made me feel like part of their group. A whole lot better than nicknames I'd gotten from other kids. Not going to think about that, either!
"Hey Mike," I smiled back with an added wave.
"Good, you're here!" Mr. Schue laughed heartily, patting Mike on the shoulder. "Tina is willing to help us out!"
"But what is it that you need help with?" I asked, helplessly smiling up at one of my fondest teachers. Mr. Schue always knew how to make me – and probably everyone else in Glee – feel better.
"This!" Mr. Schue exclaimed, using his hands to point at the piano. "I'm thinking of doing this song for next year's Sectionals."
"Stormy Weather," Mike smiled slowly and I gave him a surprised look.
"That's right, Mike!" Mr. Schue grinned.
I asked, "You know this song, Mike?"
"Oh, yeah…" Mike laughed, shrugging. "I figured I'd better brush on my jazz standards after you taught me that tap dance for Dream a Little Dream of Me."
"Right…" I had begun but slowly faltered off on "and Artie sang it for…"
Mike gave me a strange look, "Are you okay?"
"Um, yeah, of course," my voice squeaked as I peeled my eyes from his. He must have known but Mike didn't give any indication that he did because he just smiled and nodded, "Ok." He said.
Thankfully, Mr. Schue kept talking, "Yes! Stormy Weather in Billie Holiday's version was what I was thinking. And I was also thinking –" He paused, smiling before exclaiming, "a waltz!"
Mike and I both went, "huh?"
"What?" Mr. Schue looked confused, asking "Not a good idea?"
Mike shrugged, "Um, I don't know. It's just," he stopped to look up into the air before coming back down and saying, "I don't know how to waltz."
"Never took ballroom classes," I said out loud.
Mr. Schue, however, would hear nothing of it. He just continued smiling and talking away, "No, I'm glad Tina was here when I come in here. You two were fantastic together for the tap number."
"Here, Tina," Mr. Schue grabbed some sheet music and gave it to me. "Sing a little bit of it."
I looked at Mike who smiled, nodding for me to go on.
So I sang:
Don't know why," I gazed absently up above the heads of my companions. "There's no sun up in the sky… stormy weather."
I then turned to Mr. Schue, "When my man and I ain't to-gether..."
"Keeps raining all the time…" I sang then to Mike before lifting my eyes back to the sky, praying for the tears to stay behind the rims of my eyes. "Keeps raining all…of…the…time…"
Geez, I thought as I fought back tears and anger and a little bit of surprise. How poetically honest for a song like this for me to sing on a day like this – oh God, help me.
I stopped singing and looked up to see Mr. Schue, Mike – and even Brad whose usually indifferent to us Glee kids – was looking at me slightly wide-eyed.
"Very good, Tina…" Mr. Schue nodded, clapping. "Very real and very heartfelt – like you really know what she's feeling…"
Mike held my gaze longer than I'd expected that I almost looked away but he gave me a huge smile instead. "Really great, Tina," he said with a nod.
I felt a little bit better: a smile usually perks me back up and in a way, so did the song.
Though…" Mr. Schue added as an afterthought, loudly stating "I did tell Britney to be here but it's already been twenty minutes. She was supposed to be Mike's dance partner."
Mike and I exchanged inside looks, shaking our heads at what probably might have happened – like Britney getting lost in the hallways of the school she'd been going to for two years already. We tried not to laugh when Mr. Schue kept looking at his watch knowing that Britney was never going to show.
"To be honest Mr. Schue," I spoke up, "I don't mind filling in for Britney." I was going to use this project as fuel for helping me forget boys with wheels for legs.
Mr. Schue didn't hesitate to jump with joy, "Yes! I'm glad you're such a team player!"
I gave him a smile and laughed along with Mike, watching our insanely wonderful teacher spill sheet music on the grand with strong vindication. No matter how these past two weeks for school went, I was determined to get through it till the summer.
No stormy weather's for me!
Get ready, McKinley High, because Tina Cohen-Chang was back!
Thanks for reading!