CHAPTER 3: ASIAN F
"Five, six, seven, eight!" called out Mike as he led the group through their latest combination. The New Directions moved along with him, with Finn stumbling slightly. Mercedes hurried in, saying, "Sorry, I'm late."
The group stopped to look at her. "Where have you been?" demanded Santana.
"Wait, what are you doing here?" asked Mercedes, confused.
"If you had been on time," said Mr. Shue. "You would have known that Santana has decided to rejoin us."
"I decided that being in Glee was more important than being captain," she said. "Partly because Glee is more fun and partly because Coach Sylvester just made me pick up her dry cleaning all week and said part of the captainship would be running errands for her."
"Mercedes, if you were going to be late you should have called," said Mr. Shue sternly. Mercedes nodded.
"I know Mr. Shue but I was feeling kind of queasy after sixth period so I went to the nurse's office to lie down and I guess I fell asleep. But I'm here now, so what did I miss?"
"We're practicing the Widowmaker," said Mike. "It's a new dance move we're learning."
He demonstrated and the others followed. Mercedes tried to follow their example but she was a little slower than even Finn.
The move was a catwalk to the right, then a ball change, a fan kick, then a pivot step, and finishing with a pencil turn.
Mercedes tried to keep up with the group but since she was late, she didn't get the opportunity the others did to go through the steps one by one with Mike like the others did.
"One more time! Mercedes, keep your back bent when you do the catwalk!"
Mercedes tried to follow Mike's direction but her stomach felt queasy again and she broke from formation and dry heaved over the trash can next to the piano. Everyone stopped to look at her in concern.
"Mercedes, are you alright?" asked Will, concerned.
"Come on Mr. Shue, she's faking it," complained Santana. "She probably ate at Quizno's for lunch or something."
"Oh, like you eat!" snapped back Mercedes. She turned back to her teacher. "Mr. Shue, I really don't feel well. Can I sit this one out?"
"Mercedes, we need to start preparing for Nationals every moment we have. Are you sure you don't feel well?"
"Mr. Shue you know I wouldn't ask unless I really, really didn't feel good."
"Please, stop making excuses Mercedes," scoffed Santana. "The Cheerios once performed at Regionals with food poisoning. Don't baby her, Mr. Shue."
"I'm doing my best!" snarled Mercedes.
"Well your best isn't good enough—"
"Who made you the director? You just rejoined so I don't think anyone should be listening to you."
"Hey, calm down!" interrupted Mr. Shue. "That's enough out of the both of you. Santana, you're not running this Glee club; I am. And you're still on shaky ground, young lady so don't point fingers at other people. Mercedes, if you want to sit out this session, okay. But don't expect me to take it easy on you all the time. You're one of the people who needs the most work so don't expect a free pass next time."
Mercedes nodded and left.
"Hey, are these yours?" asked Will of Emma, holding up a series of outdated bridal magazines. Emma blushed.
"Oh God, I'm so sorry," she said hurriedly. "No, those are old. When I was planning my wedding with Carl and I must have forgotten to thrown them out—"
"These are dated from two months ago."
"Uh, I must have forgotten to cancel my subscription. I'll throw those out." Emma took the magazines from Will and was about to toss them into the trash when Will stopped her.
"I really liked the cake you bookmarked on page 112," he told her gently. "Very cute."
"I'm sorry," she told him. "I don't want to pressure you into anything. I'm mean, you're divorced and I just ended a serious relationship and we really should talk about where we're going before we talk about weddings and stuff like that—"
"I completely agree," said Will as he sat down at the kitchen table. Emma joined him. "So let's talk about where we're going and stuff."
There was an awkward pause and then Will laughed.
"Do you want me to start? Okay, here it goes. I love you, Emma. And I can definitely see us getting married down the line."
"I feel the same way too!"
"And that's great but I don't want to rush into anything. I want to know more about you and your family and where you've been in your life."
"I visited Vancouver when I was in my twenties once. Very clean city."
"Not stuff like that," said Will as he took her hands. "Like, more about how your family shaped who you are. How come you never talk about your parents? I know you have a brother—"
"I'm not very close with my family, Will so don't worry about that."
"Come on. You've met my parents. We were over at their house for the Fourth of July but I don't even know what your parents look like. I want to meet them! Have you told them about us?"
"Come on, I just want to meet them. What's so bad about that? Do they embarrass you?"
Emma sighed. "Okay, I can see that this is something you feel very strongly about so…if you want, I can invite my parents to come over for dinner sometime this week."
"Awesome! I can't wait to meet them!"
Emma gave him a tight smile. "Oh, you'll wish you waited."
Principal Figgins was behind his desk, in an appointment with Mr. Michael Chang Sr. and his son, Mike.
"Mr. Chang, while I am glad to see parents taking an interest in their child's education, I still don't understand why you made an appointment. Mike hasn't done anything wrong."
"Oh but he has," corrected Michael Chang Sr. He pulled out Mike's latest progress report and showed it to Principal Figgins. "As you can see, my son has received an B in chemistry and I would like for you to arrange for drug testing to be done to find the source of the problem."
"Mr. Chang, I think you are overreacting. An B is still a very good grade and this is only a progress report. Mike has plenty of time to bring it back up before the actual report cards go through. Sometimes children's' grades lower because they are overextending themselves. Maybe Mike can focus less on extracurriculars and attend after school tutoring."
"Tutoring is for kids who are failing!" protested Mike.
"And what, you think you're not on the path to failure?" said Michael Chang Sr. sharply. "A B leads to C which leads to a D which leads to an F, Michael. And F is for failure. Do you want to be a failure?"
"No Dad," mumbled Mike.
"I think you're right about the extracurriculars, Principal Figgins," said Michael Chang Sr. "I think my son has been spending way too much time with his girlfriend and Glee club. I think he could benefit from a break from both."
"But Dad I love Tina! And Glee club is fun for me!" protested Mike.
"Fun doesn't make it onto your extracurriculars Do you want to get into Harvard or not?"
"Actually, Mr. Chang, with all due respect, universities these days want to see students with more varied and colorful resumes," interrupted Principal Figgins. "Mike here has been a Glee club member since his sophomore year. It looks very good considering his other interests are football and he won Nationals with the academic decathlon team last year."
"And I want to do the school musical," added Mike. "Come on Dad, I'll just work on managing my time better."
"I've told you before, the answer is no," said Michael Chang Sr. sternly. "If you can bring up your grade, you can stay in the Glee club but no musical. The arts are a waste of time and you need to put better things on your resume. Let's go."
"Good luck at callbacks," Rachel told Mercedes. "You too," responded Mercedes and the two girls hugged before going their separate ways. Shane Tinsley, who saw everything, went up to his girlfriend.
"Baby what are you doing?" he asked her.
"What? I was just hugging Rachel."
"Exactly. Aren't you two competing for Maria in the school musical?"
"Yeah. But what does that have to do with anything?"
"I don't know about you but before I go into a game, I don't fraternize with my enemy."
"Shane, stop. Rachel and I aren't like that."
"I'm serious, 'Cedes. That's how people get into your head: by pretending to be nice and then they start giving you back handed compliments and then they start making you feel like you aren't worth it. Mercedes, I don't want that to happen with you. You told me everybody thinks Rachel Berry is a star but here's your chance to prove that you can shine even brighter than her. She's trying to mess with your head. Don't say I didn't warn you."
He gave his girlfriend a quick kiss on the cheek. "I gotta get to class. Have a good day, baby."
"You too," said Mercedes softly as she weighed his words. Her eyes followed Rachel who was walking down the hall at her perky, purposeful pace. Mercedes went to class andsoftly sang in her mind, pretending she was onstage in a black cocktail dress.
Are you a friend who loves
And cares for me?
Is that you? Is that you?
Is that you? yeah,
Are you a guard in a prison
Maximum security?Do we stay home all the time
Cause you want me to yourself?
Or am I locked away
Out of fear that I'd find
Someone else?Well, I don't like
Living under your spotlight
Just because you think
I might find somebody worthy
Oh, I don't like
Living under your spotlight
Baby, if you treat me right
You won't have to worryIs this a relationship
Fulfilling your needs
Or is this just my sentence
Am I doing time?
If this is love
Real, real love
Then I'm staying no doubt
But if I'm just love prisoner
Then I'm busting out
Mercedes ended her song in Glee club watching Rachel rehearse I Feel Pretty from West Side Story. She stood up from her chair.
"Rachel, do you want to rehearse together?" she asked.
"Sure," said Rachel, smiling. "I'd love to know how I'd sound with back-up vocals."
"Hey, Mike are you okay?" asked Tina of her boyfriend in the hallway. "You've been so quiet all day."
"I'm fine," he told her as he opened his locker. Tina put her hand on his shoulder.
"If something's bothering you, you know you can talk to me," she said softly.
"I got a B on my progress report."
"An Asian F? What did your dad say?"
"My dad was pissed. He wanted me to quit Glee club but I convinced him not to but I still have to find a way to bring my grade up."
"Well that's good. Can you still do the musical?"
"No, I can't. He said no."
"But we've been rehearsing all week!" protested Tina. "The last day of tryouts is today and they're already starting callbacks. I thought you wanted to play Riff."
"I did but now I can't."
"There's got to be a way we can convince him-"
"No, there's not, Tina!" Mike slammed his locker door shot. "My parents aren't like yours. They're super strict about everything. I had to beg to be allowed to join Glee club and the only reason my dad let me join football is because he likes it. I'm not joining the musical and that's it."
"But Mike that's so unfair! Why can't you do what you want to for once?"
"Because that's just not how it works in my family. You don't get it. Your family supports you and mine doesn't."
"Mike if they just saw you dancing, they'd understand—"
"No, they wouldn't!" he snapped. Tina stared at him for a moment. Mike sighed and leaned his head against his locker door. "They just want what's best for me," he said, more to himself. Tina grabbed his shoulder so he'd face her.
"If they want what's best for you, then they would want you to be happy. You need to stand up to your dad and tell him he can't keep you from what you love. Besides, there's no one in this school that I can imagine being Riff except you."
"I don't even know if I'll get it," muttered Mike.
"Just audition! You'll never know if you don't try."
Mike looked at his girlfriend for a moment and then gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "I have to go. I need to get to class."
He slung his backpack over his shoulder and left Tina behind. On the other side of the hallway, Kurt was pinning up his latest campaign poster which was an understated but professional looking photo of himself with the caption, "KURT HUMMEL: THE FACE OF CHANGE."
"Nice poster, Kurt," said Brittany as she approached him. Santana was with her.
"Thanks," he told her. "How's your campaign coming along?"
"It's pretty good so far. I thought you should know that we took an informal poll and so far, you're in the lead."
"Yeah, but not for long," smirked Santana. "You see, Britt's going to be the first female senior class president since 1998."
"Yeah but how's she going to do that if I'm in the lead?"
"By appealing to the female vote. Brittany?"
Brittany smiled and turned around and called out,
Girls, we run this mother!
Who run the world? Girls!
Who run this motha? Girls!
Who run the world? Girls!Some of them men think they freak this like we do
But no they don't
Make your cheques come at they neck,
Disrespect us no they won'tBoy don't even try to touch this she sang to Kurt as some Cheerios stepped forward to be her back up dancers.
Boy this beat is crazy
This is how they made me
Houston, Texas baby
This goes out to all my girls
That's in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money laterMy persuasion can build a nation
Endless power, our love we can devour
You'll do anything for meWho run the world? Girls!
Who run this motha? Girls!
Who run the world? Girls! Brittany performed the number again at an after school pep rally that Santana arranged. Kurt sat in the bleachers, motionless as the rest of the female student body whooped wildly.
"Thank you," said a panting Brittany. "My name is Brittany S. Pierce and I want to be senior class president. Please vote for me!"
The thunderous roar that followed told Kurt that the masses would obey.
Mike was waiting in line in the hallway outside the auditorium with the other people hoping to get cast, among them Quinn, Brittany, some of his fellow football players, Rachel, Mercedes, and a new Irish kid that Brittany seemed to know.
Artie wheeled out of the auditorium and checked his clipboard. "Okay, Mike Chang? You're next."
Mike followed him into the auditorium but he couldn't get his father's words out of his head. "Michael", Mike imagined him saying as he walked past the empty rows of seats. "Dancing has no way of supporting you. Turn around and walk out."
"Don't!" said Tina's voice in his head. "Don't run from your passion, Mike. Dancing is your life and you can't stop just because of your father."
"Huh?" asked Mike, shaken out of his daze.
"What role are you auditioning for?" asked Artie.
"For Riff," said Mike confidently.
Artie peered at him over the top of his glasses. "You know that's a singing part, right?"
"Don't worry about it," smiled Mike.
He went on stage and stepped into the spotlight, his heart beating fast.
"Hello, Mike," greeted Mr. Hollomon. "What have you got for us today?"
"I'm going to be singing Cool."
"Whenever you're ready, kid."
Mike took a deep breath and then began to sing and dance.
Boy, boy, crazy boy,
Get cool, boy!
Got a rocket in your pocket,
Keep coolly cool, boy!
Don't get hot,
'Cause man, you got
Some high times ahead.
Take it slow and Daddy-O,
You can live it up and die in bed!
Boy, boy, crazy boy!
Stay loose, boy!
Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it.
Turn off the juice, boy!
Go man, go,
But not like a yo-yo schoolboy.
Just play it cool, boy,
Mike finished and the three panelists began clapping wildly.
"That was absolutely kick in your face fantastic!" cried Mr. Hollomon enthusiastically. "I loved your singing and I loved your dancing. You are so talented, are you planning to be a dance major in college?"
Mike took a moment to catch his breath. "Yeah, I think I am."
"Well, good luck to you."
"We want to thank you girls for coming in again," said Mr. Hollomon to Rachel and Mercedes as they stood side by side in the auditorium facing him, Shelby, and Artie.
"So we have to try out again?" asked Mercedes, confused.
"It's called a callback," said Rachel in a know-it-all tone. "With an iconic role like Maria, they can't just appear to be giving me the part."
"Actually, Rachel," said Shelby. "We really could not decide between the two of you. On one hand, you Rachel are the epitome of a classic Maria, like Natalie Wood—"
"But if we wanted to watch Natalie Wood, we would just the film version," finished Mr. Hollomon. Rachel's face fell and Mercedes smiled slightly.
"And you Mercedes," said Shelby. "You breathe new life into the role but we worry that your unique voice might clash with the traditional style of the music."
"So, this Thursday, we'd like to have the ultimate Maria-off to decide for the role," said Artie. "I want to remind you that no matter what happens, you guys are absolutely fantastic."
"So what is our song selection going to be?" asked Rachel, standing up straight.
"Well, you both sang very different songs from each other that captured Maria's spirit. Mercedes you sang a very jazzy I Feel Pretty and Rachel you sang a very powerful Somewhere," said Mr. Hollomon. "So for your callbacks, we'd like you to switch to see if you can play all aspects of Maria: the fun and light hearted naïve girl and then the mature, strong woman she becomes in the end. So Rachel, you will sing I Feel Pretty—"
"Yes!" said Rachel, clapping her hands. "It's in the bag," she told Mercedes smugly.
"And Mercedes, you will sing Somewhere."
"Gee, a powerful ballad," said Mercedes innocently as she gave Rachel a smile. "How perfect for me."
"We'll see you girls on Thursday," said Artie, dismissing them.
The Glee club was stretching on the auditorium floor, preparing for another session of Booty Camp. Kurt was stretching near Rachel who was nervously babbling to Finn about her callback tomorrow.
"I just keep rehearsing it over and over and it doesn't sound right," she was saying when Blaine approached Kurt.
"Um, Kurt?" he said. "Can I talk to you for a sec before we start?"
The two went off the side of the stage and Blaine took a deep breath before he spoke.
"So Artie told me that the cast list is going to go up pretty soon and I have a confession to make: I auditioned for Tony, not Riff."
"You do?" Blaine's eyes widened in surprise. "How?"
"I was watching your audition from the catwalk," admitted Kurt. "You were great. In fact, I spied on everyone who was auditioning for Tony and not one of them are even close to being in the same league as you. Not even me."
"And you're not mad?"
"No. I was at first, but then I realized that no one else could do the part justice except for you. I'm so proud of you." Kurt gave him a kiss and Blaine smiled and hugged him. "I'm so relieved that you're not mad. It's just that they asked me to and I couldn't say no—"
"Don't worry about it," said Kurt. "I think I'm a cinch for Anybody's so at least we'll be in the same gang together."
Blaine laughed as Mr. Shuester called them over. "Guys? We're starting!"
Kurt and Blaine joined the group who already formed two rows facing Mike and Mr. She.
"Okay before we begin," said Mr. Shue. "I just want to say that Mike and I are really impressed by your progress but we still got a long way to go. But first things first: we're going to make sure everyone has mastered the Widowmaker. So what we're going to do today is—"
The auditoriums doors banged open, interrupting him. It was Mercedes rushing down the steps.
"I'm sorry I'm late! I had a doctor's appointment. I had, like, this really weird stomach flu but he gave me some antibiotics so I'm feeling much better now. I think I ate a weird smoothie or something."
"Okay Mercedes but you knew we had Booty Camp after school," said Mr. Shue. "Why didn't you schedule your appointment for a different time?"
"I'm sorry," said Mercedes as she went up the stage's steps. "I completely forgot."
"How could you forget?" said Santana. "We've been rehearsing all week."
"Well, I've had other things on my mind," snapped Mercedes.
"Mercedes if you're talking about the Maria callback, I'm just as preoccupied as you but I didn't forget my other commitments," pointed out Rachel. Mercedes glared at her and opened her mouth to shoot back a comment but Mr. Shue stopped her before an argument could ensue.
"Look, we're wasting time here and the orchestra has their fall concert tonight so we need to get this done before we give up the space," said Mr. Shue as he stepped forward, thrusting his arms out like a referee. "Mercedes, we're about to all do the Widowmaker together and if we tap you out, that means you got the move down and you can take a seat before we move on. Got it?"
"Yes," chorused the New Directions.
"Five, six, seven, eight!" called out Mike. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…"
Mike kept calling out the beat as Mr. Shue went around tapping out people. Brittany was first, followed by Santana, Blaine, Kurt, Puck, Tina, and Artie (although he was mostly just twirling in his wheelchair) so that Lauren, Finn, and Mercedes were the final three remaining.
"Come on Lo, you got this!" said Puck as he clapped his girlfriend on. "Go Finn!" added Rachel.
With some effort, Finn mastered the move and then Lauren was tapped out just as Mercedes completed her pencil turn, except her foot twisted weirdly which caused her to fall.
"Whoa, are you okay?" said Lauren as she helped Mercedes up. Mercedes shook her head.
"My ankle hurts," she complained as she stood up. "Come on, push through it," said Mr. Shue as he went over to her.
"I don't feel good—"
"Yes, you do. Come on now. Stop making excuses. Just do the move. You're fine!"
"No, I'm not!" insisted Mercedes, having enough. Mr. Shue sighed.
"Look, Mercedes, I know you can be on the same level as everyone else but you're not trying hard enough—"
"No, you're not! You keep making excuses for yourself. Did you even practice this move?"
"You know what? Stop picking on me!" snapped Mercedes. "You're always singling me out, telling me that I'm doing everything wrong—"
"No, you're crazy! How come you're always telling me I'm doing something wrong? What about Finn? He didn't even do the catwalk right but I'm the one getting yelled at. Oh but I know why: it's because he's Rachel's boyfriend and we all know Rachel's your favorite and you give that skinny ass Geranimals wearing ass kisser everything!"
"Mercedes, you know that doesn't happen," began Rachel but Mercedes whirled on her.
"Yes it does and you know it!" Mercedes turned to the group. "When was the last time any of us got a solo in competition without Rachel Berry taking the lead? Exactly. Because every time one of us tries to shine brighter than her, Mr. Shue ends up giving her the solo because she always throws a hissy fit."
"Mercedes, you know that's not true," said Quinn. "Santana and I had solos at Sectionals last year."
"Yeah but what happened at Nationals? Who got a solo in both of our songs that we all wrote together?"
Everyone looked uncomfortably at Rachel, who attempted to defend herself. "Mercedes, you know Glee club isn't about how many solos each person gets—"
"Of course, you'd say that, you get all the solos!" laughed Mercedes.
"Mercedes, that's enough!" commanded Mr. Shue. "You know, if you're so unhappy with the way this show choir is run, maybe you should just leave."
"So you're kicking me out?" said Mercedes, as she looked into his eyes angrily. "That's it? I was one of the original members and now it's all over?"
At this moment, Mercedes felt like Effie White in the musical Dreamgirls when Effie got kicked out of the Dreams. In her fantasy, everyone was dressed in the sparkly blue outfits the Dreams were wearing in the movie while she was in Jennifer Hudson's brown suit with the fur collar trim.
Mercedes glared at Mr. Shue.
I turn my back and find myself out on the line, she sang. You could have warned me but that would have been too kind.
I've been warning you months to clean up your act, shot back Mr. Shue. You've been late, you've been mean, giving all kinds of stupid flack.
That's a lie! shouted Mercedes. That's a lie! It's just that I haven't been feeling that well.
Effie, please! Stop excusing yourself, said Finn. You've been late, you've been mean, and getting fatter all the time.
Now you're lying, you're lying. I've never been so thin, insisted Mercedes. You're lying, you're lying 'cause you're knocking off that piece of thing who thinks she's better than everybody. She ain't better than anybody. She ain't nothing but common.
Who you calling common, you self-indulgent, self-absorbed non-professional? demanded Rachel.
YOU! shouted Mercedes. YOU! I'm calling you. You common piece that's knocking off.
Now you listen to me Ms. Blame-it-on-the-world, see I have put up with you for much too long, said Rachel. I have put with your bitching, I put up with your nagging, and all your screaming too!
Now Kurt intervened between the two of them. Oh when are you two gonna stop this fighting? he wailed. Stay out this Kurt, this is between Rachel and me, said Mercedes as she tried to shove Rachel.
Yeah? Well it's between me too, cried Kurt as he made Mercedes face him I am much as part of this group as anybody else and I'm tired! Effie, I'm tired—of all the trouble you been making us.
I always knew you two were together!
What? he cried.
I always knew you two were ganging up on me!
He had nothing to do with this change, it was you, said Mr. Shue. It was you, always thinking of you. Always thinking of you.
Puck took this opportunity to take Mercedes aside. Lay off, Effie, he told her. Just take the money and run.
You in this with them, Puck?
Cool it Effie! This time you know what you've done!
So they got your behind too, huh?
I said, Cool it Effie! This time you've gone too far!
I can go further, I can go further! shouted Mercedes. Mike stepped forward and sang, I don't want to stay around this. I'm just breaking into this business. This is between all of you. This is none of my affair.
Mercedes clutched her stomach and bent over. I'm not feeling well, I've got pain.
Effie, we've all got pain! responded the group.
Oh for two years I stuck with you, I was your sister!
You were a trouble, they said, not looking at her.
And now you're telling me it's all over? sobbed Mercedes.
It's all over. It's all over, they sang.
Mercedes was shaken out of her fantasy by Mr. Shue. She picked up her backpack where she left it and walked out, saying, "It's all over."
After Booty Camp let out, the Glee club went their separate ways throughout the deserted school.
"See you tomorrow, Mike," said Puck as he and Lauren went towards the student parking lot. Mike went down the hallway alone to his locker where he began to put away his dance clothes and change his shoes before he went back home.
"Mike?" said a voice. Mike looked up and saw his mother standing a few feet away. In her perfectly styled black hair and tailored Ann Taylor suit, she looked like an imposing woman who would only back up his father in any argument. He swallowed nervously.
"What are you doing here, Mom?" he asked.
"I went to go pick you up from your tutoring session but the teacher said you weren't there," said Mrs. Julia Chang. She stepped closer to her son. "In fact, he said you haven't shown up all week. Michael, what is going on? What have you been doing?"
"Honestly? I've been at Glee club practice, teaching everyone how to dance. I love dancing and I kinda like singing too. I don't want to quit Glee club. And I want to do the musical. And everyone thinks I'm going to get the part so I really do want to do it. I know you and Dad don't think dancing is a good way to make a living but it's what I really want to do."
"Mike, you know your father and I want what's best for you. That's why we push so you hard—"
"Well maybe I don't like being pushed all the time! Dancing is what I care about."
"Mike, you know that your chances—anyone's chances—of being a professional dancer are one in a million," said Julia, trying to be reasonable.
"Just believe in me and I will show you that I am that one in a million. Everyone one else thinks I can do it, Mom but I just want to hear it from you."
Julia sighed and hugged her son. "If you became a dancer, Mike, I hope you realize that it's a very unstable field so when you go to college, I want you to get a second major or a minor in something that you can always fall back on."
"Okay," said Mike hurriedly as she let go of him. Did this mean that she was on his side?
"And as for the musical…." Julia paused. "When I was in high school, I wanted to try out for my school's musical, Cinderella, but of course your grandfather wouldn't let me. I always regretted not even just auditioning just to see what it was like. I'm not happy that you lied to us and that you disobeyed your father but if you really want to do the musical, I'll try to talk your father into it but you need to get the grade back up in Chemistry first."
Mike laughed in relief and hugged his mom again. "It's a deal."
Mercedes and Rachel both showed up to the Maria-off in dresses that were a nod to Natalie Wood's wardrobe in the film despite Mr. Hollomon's repeated insistence that he did not want to cast a Natalie Wood look-alike.
"Okay, let's flip a coin and see who will go when," said Artie as he wheeled nervously between the two contenders.
"Heads," said Rachel automatically.
"Tails," responded Mercedes.
Artie flipped the coin. It was heads. Rachel smirked as she offered the stage to Mercedes. "After you," she said. Mercedes gave her a fake smile in return and took center stage. "Hello, my name is Mercedes Jones and I will be singing Somewhere."
There's a place for us
Somewhere there is a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
It waits for us somewhere
There is a time for us
I know that there is a time for us
Time together with just a little bit of time to spare
The time to learn, oh, time to care
We'll find a new, a new way of living
We'll find a way of forgiving
There is, there is a place for us
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know
There is a place for us
Hold my hand and we're halfway there
Hold on to my hand and I'll, I'll take you there
Some day, some, somewhere
I'll take you somewhere
The directors clapped wildly for Mercedes as she took a bow. In the wings, Rachel began to panic. She's better than me, she realized.
Emma let herself into the apartment and Will came to greet her. "Hey, why were you so late?" he asked as he kissed her cheek.
"Sorry," she apologized. "I had to go return some things at the mall and the line took forever."
"You didn't eat anything, did you?"
Emma shook her head. "Did you make dinner? Because that would be fantastic."
"I did but we were waiting for you before we ate."
Will led Emma into the dining room where her parents were waiting. "Emmy!" cried Rose Pillsbury as she gave her daughter a hug. "How are you?" asked Rust Pillsbury. "We haven't heard from you in awhile and then you call and tell us you got a new boyfriend."
"Yes, um, well," stammered Emma.
"Well, Emma's here so now we can eat," said Will as he guided Emma next to him.
"We were sad to hear about Emma's divorce," said Rose as she served herself some fresh garden salad. "But then again, how long did you really know Carl, Emma?"
"About six months," muttered Emma as she stared at her plate. "And he got an annulment, Mom. Not a divorce."
"Well that's good," said Rose blithely. "Now you can pretend it never happened. And besides, Will seems much nicer than Carl."
"We never met him," reminded Rusty.
"Oh yes, that's right. So anyway, how did you and Emma meet, Will?" asked Rose.
"Oh, Emma and I both work at McKinley. I teach Spanish there."
"Oooh, que bueno," said Rose approvingly. "I always say it's good to learn a foreign language."
"So what do you do in your spare time, Will?" asked Rusty. "You follow football?"
"Uh, no. I'm not much of fan. But some of the kids that I coach in the Glee club play football. One of them, Finn Hudson, is hoping to play for Ohio State."
"Ohio State is pretty good," said Rusty. "Hope he can make the cut. There's a lot of kids all over state who would kill to be on that team. I know this one kid-"
"It's so nice to see Emma dating again," interrupted Rose. "Having a divorce is such a baggage. I have this one friend, who got recently divorced and she said it was so hard to meet new people."
"I don't think that's the case," said Will. "I'm divorced and I didn't have any trouble meeting new people."
Rose put her fork down. "You're divorced too?"
"Yeah, for about a year now."
"And you and Emma are living together now? So soon?"
"Well, Emma and I have dated in the past so it's not like this is a huge deal-"
"Wait a minute, you've dated before?" piped up Rusty. He and Rose exchanged looks. Will sensed that there was a shift in the atmosphere and hastily began to explain.
"Well, before my divorce was finalized we kind of had this thing going but I thought we should take a break and wait until it was over-"
"So you dated while you were still married?" clarified Rose.
"Well, by then my wife and I were kind of separated-"
"How long were you married?"
"Dad!" said Emma sharply.
"It's okay, Emma," said Will. "Uh, Terri and I were high school and college sweethearts so we were together for about twelve years but married for five of them."
"And I suppose know you're going to ask why he got divorced," snapped Emma as her father opened his mouth.
"And what's wrong with that?" retorted Rose. "Emma, no offense but you have been making very bad decisions with your love life. You almost got married to Ken Tanaka even though you told me you didn't love him, you've been dating a married man, and you got married in Vegas to a man you've known less than a year."
"You know I will admit that I have made some poor decisions," conceded Emma. "I'm happy now with Will. He's the one who pushed me to go seek therapy for my problem and you know, I think that I am a much better person now because of it. And if you don't approve, well then I don't care. And if you're going to keep criticizing my boyfriend, you can leave."
"Fine," said Rusty as he threw his napkin down on the chair. "Wait, you don't have to go," said Will as he tried to rectify the situation but Rusty and Rose were already out the door.
"No, let them leave," sighed Emma as she started to clear the table. "This is why I didn't want them to come. I knew they wouldn't approve."
"Well, they sort of liked me before," pointed out Will. Emma set down her dishes and gave him a kiss. "Don't worry about them. The only person you have to worry about liking you is me."
"Hi, Rachel," greeted Kurt. Rachel smiled nervously at him as she took out the books from her locker. "Hi," she said back. Kurt's smile grew and that made Rachel even more apprehensive.
"So, guess who I had an interesting talk with today?"
"Principal Figgins. He gave the go-ahead for the PFLAG chapter. We're having our first meeting next week."
"Yeah, it is. It's something I can put on my resume and you know, it's a huge part of my platform. I'd ask you to help but I think that'd be a conflict of interest seeing as how you are also running for senior class president!"
Kurt glared at Rachel as she fidgeted with her sweater.
"How could you do that?" he whispered. "Why would you do that? You could have run for secretary or for treasurer—" Kurt threw his hands in the air, perplexed. "Why would you run for class president against me?"
"No, you don't understand," pleaded Rachel. "Mercedes and I had our callback and she was so good, Kurt. And the director doesn't like me and there's no way I was going to get the lead so I needed something big on my resume too."
Kurt shook his head. "I can't believe how selfish you're being. I want to make a difference here with PFLAG and everything. I thought you were supporting me. I thought we were friends."
"We are!" insisted Rachel.
"Friends don't do this type of thing to each other. Good luck on your campaign, Rachel."
Kurt walked away. "Kurt!" Rachel called but he never looked back. The bell rang, indicating that was time for class.
After school, Mercedes and Rachel were summoned to Mr. Hollomon's office.
"Normally, you'd find out the results on the cast list but I wanted to tell you two that I have decided to double cast Maria," Mr. Hollomon told them.
"WHAT?" cried Rachel and Mercedes in unison.
"Were there any other roles that were double cast?" asked Mercedes.
"Truthfully no," said Mr. Hollomon. "But it's like we've been saying: we could not decide between the two of you. I've decided to extend the performance run so you both have equal number of two shows each. And to make it fair, we'll flip a coin to see who gets opening night. Do you accept?"
Mercedes and Rachel exchanged glances. "Yes, thank you," said Rachel. She gave an aside glance to Mercedes who was refusing to look at her. "And we don't have to do a coin toss. Mercedes can have opening night."
Mercedes looked at her and smiled. "Thank you," she said as she looked at Rachel. "I'm gonna hug you now, okay?" said Rachel and she held tightly to Mercedes who didn't push her away.
Finn sighed as he looked at a wall of campaign posters for various offices and various classes. But the only two stuck out to him: Kurt and Rachel's.
"Hey, Finn," said Rachel as she approached him. He turned around to see his girlfriend. "Hey, do you know if you got it yet?" he asked. Rachel nodded. "Sort of. Mercedes and I got double cast as Maria."
"Is that good?"
"I can still put it on my resume but...this whole week, I've realized how selfish I've been. Mercedes is right, I do hog the spotlight too much, don't bother denying it."
"I wasn't going to," said Finn. Rachel smiled.
"Anyway, I've realized that I'm putting my goals ahead of my friendships and while yes, that attitude will land me a Tony before I'm thirty, I don't want to get on that stage and not have anyone to celebrate with."
"What are you saying?" asked Finn, raising his eyebrows.
"I'm saying that—"
"Oh, hello Rachel," sneered Kurt as he approached the two. He turned to Finn. "Finn, would you kindly mind waiting just ten more minutes before we go home? They're posting the cast list today."
"Kurt, I wanted to talk to you," said Rachel timidly.
"Yes, I know. I've been ignoring your texts all day," sniffed Kurt. Rachel sighed.
"Look, I've realized that I was being selfish and I hope you can forgive me. I've decided to run for vice president and I was wondering if you'd like to, you know, combine forces and run together?"
Kurt smiled faintly. "May I ask what prompted this sudden change of heart?"
"It was Mercedes," said Rachel. "She left because she thought we—I was pushing her aside and not recognizing her talent. I know I'd do the same thing if that happened to me. And two years ago, I had no friends because I was so obnoxious and always storming out of rehearsals because I wanted to be the star all the time. And I was so lonely, even though I tried to hide it. It's senior year. I don't want to end it not being friends with you or Mercedes or anybody. So that's why I did it."
Kurt hugged her. "I'm glad you did. I know we can make a McKinley a better place for everyone together."
"I'm just happy you two aren't fighting anymore," laughed Finn. "Because I didn't know who I was going to vote for."
"Come on," said Kurt. "Let's go see the cast list."
The three of them went to go see the cast list posted outside the theater and they weren't the only ones. Nearly all of the Glee club was there as well as some of the other drama club students. The glee club searched for their names on the list:
Maria…Mercedes Jones/Rachel Berry
The only person who wasn't there was Mercedes and that's because she was timidly entering Shelby's office.
"Ms. Corcoran?" said Mercedes. "I understand that you've started up another show choir. I would like to audition."
"Mercedes, I thought you were in New Directions?" said Shelby, confused.
"I was but I just got the role of Maria in the school musical and I think I can do a lot better than just wailing at the end of every song. I'm a star. And I think it's time to show everybody what I can do."