Artie wheeled himself into the boys' locker room and to the office door of hockey coach Aaron Iyers, and knocked just enough for Iyers to open the door. Considering that Artie had never met him before, he saw that the coach was middle-aged, grey-haired, dark-skinned, and very well-built.
"Can I help you, young man?"
"Hi, I'm Artie Abrams, from the Glee Club. Can we talk?"
"All right, but for a few minutes. I have a hockey team to coach."
Iyers let Artie in, and Artie couldn't help but feel impressed: most of the coach's office was decorated with medals, plaques, and trophies, and other awards.
"So, what did you want to talk to me about?" asked Iyers, sitting behind his desk.
"Well, uh, it's about one of your players, Xavier Steele. He recently joined the Glee Club, but for some reason chose to leave. Do you know anything about that?"
"As far as I know, Xavier has been under a lot of pressure by his teammates for being a member of your club. They seem to think that it's reserved only for quote-unquote losers. Captain Scott Cooper and several others came to me and expressed their concerns about the matter."
"Do you think maybe it should have been Xavier's choice instead of his teammates'?"
"Xavier's had a hard life, son, and he's used to people making decisions for him, and he's also used to people passing judgment on him whenever he makes a decision on his own. Personally, I think the Glee Club could do wonders for his self-esteem. He's simply afraid of what others will think of him if he does stay in the unpopular crowd."
"Did you talk to him about this?"
"I did try once, but he remained adamant on staying out. I do realize that he has the potential to be a good friend. You and your friends, however, are the only ones who can convince him to change his mind. Appeal to his better nature, and he'll come around. Right now, there is nothing that I can do. I'm sorry."
Artie wanted to say more, but he knew that the coach was right.
"It's okay. Thank you."
They shook hands, and Artie wheeled himself out. He didn't get very far before he encountered the hockey players. Artie could see Xavier in their midst.
"Hey, it's one of the school's biggest losers of all time", Scott jeered.
"And he's in the same room with a bunch of guys that outrank him in every way", said another player.
"I am just here to talk to your coach."
"Boy, if you're thinking of joining hockey, forget it", said a player to Scott's right.
"You hardly qualify in any way. I'm surprised you were even allowed to join the football team", said Scott.
Artie looked at Xavier for support, but Xavier said nothing.
"Go back the home for gays, geeks, and losers, four-eyes", said Scott, "It's where you belong, and it's where you'll remain."
The hockey players then stood at attention as Coach Iyers came out of his office, having heard everything.
"I think you boys have better things to do. Put on your skates, because you're all doing 50 laps around the rink."
The players all groaned in protest, but a look from Iyers forced them to do as they were told.
"Thanks, Coach", said Artie, receiving a nod of acknowledgment from Iyers, and he left the locker room. As he did so, he didn't see Xavier watching with a look of extreme remorse.
Brittany had been summoned by Principal Figgins, and she entered his office, where Mr. Greco was also waiting.
"Ms. Pierce, it has come to my attention that you have gotten a perfect score on a math exam."
"Yeah, and I didn't think that that was a bad thing."
"Oh, it's not, but based on your prior academic profile, and your current GPA, it is highly suspicious. It raises question about outside help or cheating. Mr. Greco has made it clear to me that although your score helps you qualify for graduation, we want to be absolutely sure that you know what you're doing."
"Brittany, we want to believe that you were smart enough to get through this test."
"No, you don't", said Brittany hotly, "You just think that because I'm not as smart as everyone else means I don't have some skill."
"Brittany, nobody here thinks that you're not smart. We're just looking for you to prove yourself."
"In any case, Ms. Pierce, I am setting a date near the end of the school year for you to retake the math exam. No excuses, no cheating, no complaining. If it appears that you have cheated on any other test you take this year, you will be set to redo those as well to substantiate your work. We have already contacted your parents on this matter, and they agree. I am very sorry, but that is the way things operate around here."
Brittany wanted to protest, but found that she didn't have any choice in the matter.
"I understand", she said softly, and she left the office.
Back at her home, Tina wasn't feeling well. She had declined to eat her dinner and couldn't gather enough strength to do her homework, which was, to her relief, not due for another few days. However, this worried her, and she didn't know what was wrong. Maybe it was another bout of Asian Bird Flu or something. She suddenly felt sick and ran to the bathroom, ready to hurl. When she finished, she needed to sit so badly that she practically fell on the closed toilet lid. Her mother, having heard the commotion, entered to check on her.
"Tina, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Mom", said Tina, very weakly. Mrs. Cohen-Chang put a hand on Tina's forehead.
"You're not burning up or anything."
"It's just a little nausea. I'll be okay."
Her mother looked into the sink and then back at her.
"That doesn't look like a little nausea. Come on, let's get you into bed."
Tina nodded and let her mother guide her back to her bed, where she gratefully snuggled under the covers.
"I'll go and make you some soup", her mother said, and she went downstairs to do so. It wasn't until then that Tina remembered her last moments with Mike before he went to Chicago, when they had spent the night together at his house while his parents were out.
No, there's no way, Tina thought to herself, we used a condom.
Then she remembered that the condom had broken, whereupon both of them had made sure that no lasting damage had been done.
This can't be happening. It just can't be, Tina thought desperately, and she picked up her phone and dialed Quinn's number. It didn't take long for Quinn to answer.
"Tina, what's up?"
"Things are fine. No, they're not. How are you? I have a serious problem", Tina said rapidly.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. Are you okay?"
"Quinn, what happened to you during your initial stages of pregnancy?"
"Well, I experienced some cramps, I was tired a lot, some extreme nausea. Why?"
Tina immediately panicked, knowing that she had experienced all of that and more not too long ago.
"Oh, my God! Oh, my God, no. This can't be happening!"
"Tina… are you pregnant?"
"I… I don't know. There's a way that I can make sure, right?"
"Yeah, you pee on a pregnancy stick."
"Oh, my God, I think I'm going to be sick!"
"Don't think about it, that only makes it worse."
Quinn was too late to say it, because Tina had already thrown up on her sheets.
"Quinn, we need to meet. I can't tell my parents", Tina panted.
"Have you told Mike yet?"
"No, I don't know for sure if I'm pregnant. I need help, please!"
"Okay, all right, rest up tonight. I can swing by tomorrow so we can talk about this."
"Okay, thank you. I'll see you tomorrow."
THIS IS THE END OF THIS STORY. THINGS ARE HAPPENING NOW. STAY TUNED FOR MORE.