ORIGINALLY POSTED: March 23rd-26th 2010
153. The Smell of Failure [Sue & Brittany]
154. Standards, Stage, Solo [Will & Brittany; ABCs #19]
155. Asian Persuasion [Mike & Tina]
156. Trophy, Twelve, Talent [Emma & Glee Club; ABCs #20]
“THE SMELL OF FAILURE”
Sue & Brittany
Sequel to The Sylvesters & With My Little Eye
Quinn and Santana didn’t always include her in everything they did, didn’t keep her in the loop. It never really bothered her. Most of the times she wouldn’t even realize this was what was happening.
Either way, being in Glee Club was keeping her busy, entertained, and maybe a little confused. She didn’t know what to expect from Mr. Schuester and the rest of them. It was an understatement to say this was a different environment from what she was used to with her mother and the Cheerios.
She was used to feeling on the edge, but in Glee she was nice and safe away from the edge. It would just take her a while to get used to this pace.
Besides, it did have other advantages. She and her mother would share in all that was happening. It gave them something to talk about, more so than usual. For instance, she told him about how they had decided to reach out to Dakota Stanley. Her mother had gotten that look on her face, the one Brittany knew meant that she knew more than she was letting on, which generally made her happy.
So off they went to Carmel High. Neither Quinn or Santana said anything the whole way, so Brittany just looked out the window… she liked it better this way.
When they sat in the auditorium, part of her was with her fellow Cheerios and the plan as put in place by her mother. The rest of the club looked nervous, which only helped toward what they were trying to achieve.
At the same time, she was looking at those people on stage. It did look as much fun as she had believed it to be since her audition. In some aspects it wasn’t that different from cheerleading, right down to the screaming. The little man on stage could make people hop to, in ways that would make her mother and her trusty bullhorn proud. It only made her smirk more. The new problem now was only how they were supposed to pay to get the small screaming man to come and help them.
So there had come the idea for the car wash. It wasn’t the first time they had one. The whole squad was there, along with her mother. It was possible there was something in her eyes like she wished she’d put on a shirt…
Finally they had gotten Dakota Stanley. But as fast as he’d come, he was gone after just a few minutes. He had marched right out of McKinley, in as unquiet of an outrage as was to be expected. One minute later, Brittany’s phone chirped, and she saw who it was.
“I have to go,” she told the others simply, before heading to her mother’s office. She knocked and was called in. She sat across from her coach and mother, waiting.
“I heard a ruckus before. Now imagine my surprise to find none other than the highly praised Dakota Stanley snitting out of here. What happened in there?” Brittany hesitated at first, though she could feel her mother’s eyes on her.
“Rachel… fired him.” Sue sighed, shaking her head.
“She’s going to be as much of a problem as Schuester.”
“He wasn’t there,” Brittany chimed in.
“Of course he wasn’t, he’s busy with his Backstreet Bozoes,” Sue shook her head to herself before looking back to her daughter. “So what about everything else, pulling the club apart?”
“I don’t know, I wasn’t…” she started, but seeing the look on her mother’s face, she shook her head after a moment. She closed her eyes, breathing out.
“Don’t apologize now,” she told her, her voice indicating she didn’t need to.
“Okay,” she nodded, unsure whether she was supposed to leave.
“Just get on home, alright?” Brittany started to get up. “Wait.” She stopped. “Whatever punishment I end up passing on the other two, I’ll have to give you too.” Brittany pouted for a moment. “Go on. And send Quinn and Santana this way?” Brittany nodded and headed back to the Glee room.
After she got them to step out, she watched them go, and was about to go on her way, but she looked back inside, at the others. Soon they’d be hard at work once again, with Mr. Schuester… and so would she.
They’d failed in what her mother had wanted them to do, but still she knew she didn’t want to punish her and would only do it because she had to… their big damned secret, once again. At the same time, she wanted her mother to know she could depend on her. She knew it would hurt Glee Club if she did though… she hadn’t yet figured out how to make every one of them happy.
“STANDARDS, STAGE, SOLO”
Will & Brittany
Will had had it in mind for a while, that there were some in his group who weren’t as often in front, always staying in the back. Part of it no doubt had to do with him, and with the way he usually called on some people, again and again. With most of them, it wasn’t that he didn’t think about it, but there was one he was concerned with bringing to the front, out of obscurity.
Brittany was a particular kind of person. Before she’d been one of his Glee Club kids, she was already one of his students in Spanish class. There too, she was quiet. If not for how she struggled in class, he might not have noticed too much she was even there.
She was different in Glee Club. She wasn’t struggling, and it showed. She was happy, didn’t walk in like she was on trial, the way she did when she walked into Spanish class. So how crazy was it really to want to give her something more to be happy about?
After Spanish class one day, he’d remained at his desk, watching his students file out until she passed by his desk. “Hey, Brittany, can you hang back a minute?” she hesitated, then stepped up.
“Did I do something wrong?” she asked slowly.
“No, no, sit down.” She turned and grabbed a chair, bringing it to the teacher’s desk. “Brittany, I… I wanted to talk about Glee Club, actually, and I… I was thinking it might be time you got your first solo.” She stared at him for a while… a long while, like she was processing what he said, but it took a bit for her to react to it. Finally, she blinked, smiled. He smiled back.
“Okay,” she nodded.
“Okay,” he replied. “Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to find one song, one that’s already in you somewhere, that really means a lot to you.” She nodded along as he spoke. “Do you think you can do that?” She continued to nod, then paused.
“I don’t know…”
“It’s alright,” he promised. “Take some time to think about it, and when you’ve got something, you just come to me, okay?” she smiled and nodded. “Good, alright. Off you go.”
For a couple weeks, he could tell she was thinking about it, but she didn’t come to him yet, so she must not have found her song yet. He could tell she was trying to find it though, so he waited for as long as she needed to.
Finally one afternoon, after Glee practice, she came to him at the piano, quiet with mischief. He gave her a smile. “Yes, Brittany?”
“I found my song.”
“Did you?” she blinked.
“Yes…” she looked around. He nodded to himself with a smile before looking back at her.
“What’s the song?” She pulled her school bag open and pulled out a sheet, handing it to him. Reading the title, he grinned.
“Is it okay?” she asked.
“It’s perfect,” he assured her. “You’ll do it well,” he moved to Brad at the piano and showed him the sheet. The man nodded – he didn’t need to see the notes on this one. He gave the blonde girl a smile, as Will gave the sheet back to her. “Are you nervous?” Will asked her.
“Maybe… a little,” she admitted. “But it’s okay… I like being nervous.”
“You do?” he laughed lightly.
“Not all the time. But for this, yes… nervous is good,” she nodded.
“Fair enough,” he nodded. “Tell me this, why’d you pick this song?”
“It was my favorite movie when I was little. My grandfather said I watched it so many times that I wore out the tape… a couple of times,” she nodded, explaining.
“I can see that,” Will gave her a smile. “Ready to give it a try?” She nodded. “Alright,” he indicated the microphone. She took her place, and Will signalled for Brad. He began to play, and Will turned back to watch his student as she took a breath, and she began.
[B] “Somewhere over the rainbow / Way up high, / There’s a land that I heard of / Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow / Skies are blue, / And the dreams that you dare to dream / Really do come true.”
Will sat by the piano, watching. He’d always believed there was a lot to learn from someone in the songs they chose. There was always something special in the performance.
[B] “Someday I’ll wish upon a star / And wake up where the clouds are far / Behind me. / Where troubles melt like lemon drops / Away above the chimney tops / That’s where you’ll find me.”
Soon she would reprise her song, not just for him and Brad but for the whole club. They were the ones listening to her now, instead of the other way around. As quiet as she could be, there were times where it worked for her.
[B] “Somewhere over the rainbow / Bluebirds fly. / Birds fly over the rainbow. / Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly / Beyond the rainbow / Why, oh why can’t I?”
Mike & Tina
On the morning of her fourteenth birthday, Tina had one thing on her mind. Her father had promised a special present, which they’d be going to the mall to get, after breakfast. He’d been playfully teasing her all week, and she took as much pleasure taking wild and impossible guesses. The trend maintained on the day itself.
“Think I got it,” she told him as they got in the car.
“Hit me,” he dared her.
“Motorcycle,” she grinned.
“Not for another four years,” he shook his head, and she laughed.
When they arrived at the mall, her father learned it would take a while before he could get a hold of the present, which he’d ordered.
So rather than having her wait around, getting bored, he gave her money to go to the arcade. Pleased as punch, she sped off. When she got there, she looked around, trying to decide which game to play first. She finally found one, which she played for about five minutes. It was as she got up to change games that she spotted someone she knew.
Mike Chang went to her school, though they didn’t exactly hang out. Some people would think they were related, because of their names, and after a while they’d stopped bothering themselves about it.
He was playing Dance Dance Revolution… no, he was owning it. She stood there watching him for a while, not realizing it might be closer to ‘staring’ than ‘watching.’ She realized this when he turned, caught a glimpse of her and stopped.
“Hi,” he nodded. She blinked, remembered her manners, and waved.
“S-sorry,” she nodded before turning to leave.
“Wait!” he called, hopping off the platform and catching up to her in three long steps. “You want to play?” she stopped and looked at him. “No one will play me.” She nodded, as though to say ‘who would? You always win.’ “Please?” he smiled.
“O-okay,” she finally nodded, following him. In the time he’d stepped away, a pair of kids their age had taken over the game, so they waited for their turn.
“Haven’t seen you here before,” he told her. “First time?”
“N-no, I just d-don’t come much…” she explained. There was a short silence and, for no reason she could understand, she then said, “It’s my birthday,” with a nod. She immediately felt silly for bringing it up, but then Mike looked at her.
“Happy birthday,” he smiled, then grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the game.
“W-where are you…”
“Don’t worry, we’ll come back. First though…” he pointed to the small stand where they sold ice cream, which indicated they could get a free sundae on their birthday. He went and returned with two cups. “If anyone asks, we’re twins so it’s both our birthdays,” he handed her one cup. She laughed and nodded.
“Thanks,” she told him as they started back for the platform.
“Look, they just added a karaoke machine,” he pointed with his spoon.
“N-no way,” she chuckled. “Do you know what’ll happen if you and I go up there?” she nodded to the machine.
“Nineties pop anthem?” he guessed, looking back at her. She smirked. “Fine, fine, it’s silly anyway… it’s all about the eighties,” he nodded confidently, making Tina almost choke on ice cream and chocolate syrup. They made it back to the platform, where the same two kids were playing.
“I’m n-not very good,” she warned him. He shrugged as he ate another spoonful of sundae.
“Forget about points, just have fun,” he suggested. Looking at the cups, he thought of something. “How’s your stomach after ice cream, strong?” He nodded to one of the kids currently playing, who had ice cream stains on his shirt and a greenish tone to his skin.
“Freakishly strong,” she assured him, cringing at the sight of the other boy. A moment later, he dashed off in search of the nearest port for being sick, and his friend went after him and Tina looked to one another.
“Well, it’s our turn,” he nodded, and she laughed. “Come on,” they moved on to the platform after throwing out their empty cups. “Ready?” he asked her as he reset the game.
“I-I…” she started, nervous, before looking back at Mike with confidence inspired by what he’d told her before. “Ready.”
As she’d expected, he was dancing circles around her, but she didn’t focus on that. No, it was her birthday, and she would have fun. The more she held on to that, the better she felt she got. When they stopped, she didn’t even bother to look how she’d done against him. She was filled with giddiness and laughter, which seemed to have taken the place of breath and some steadiness in her feet when it came to standing or walking straight. Mike stuck by her side as they left the game, making sure she wouldn’t fall. He took her to sit on a bench.
“T-thanks,” she told him. He looked at her. “It was great,” she nodded. He smiled, and it was as though they shared a thought. “How come we d-don’t hang out more?” He shrugged.
“Maybe some time,” he suggested. She smiled and nodded, just as she spotted her father coming. Before they parted ways, she leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. She was surprised at her own courage.
“Really good birthday,” she smiled before running off, catching a glimpse of Mike’s wave from over her shoulder… good, good birthday.
“TROPHY, TWELVE, TALENT”
Emma & New Directions
The decision was made. The winner had been chosen, and now all they could do was go backstage, with the other two clubs, and wait for the announcement. They travelled up the halls like a small pack, stuck together, with Emma up front.
“They’re going to give it to one of them, aren’t they?” Matt asked to the group in general.
“We don’t know that,” Emma answered simply, as they moved along.
“Why not? They’ll get… sympathy,” Quinn shrugged.
“Don’t be silly, you guys were great,” Emma nodded. “Why couldn’t you win?”
“We’re… the normal ones,” Rachel shrugged.
“None of us are normal, and I’m including myself, look…” Emma stopped and turned to face the group, who stopped as they were. “You may not be juvie kids, you may be able to hear, but that doesn’t make you any less of performers. You’ve worked so hard for this, don’t tell me you don’t think you deserve this as much as those other clubs.” No one said a word… they just stared at her. “What?” she blinked.
“We’re good,” Finn nodded, looking to the others. “Let’s go,” he started moving along, and the others followed. Finn ended up walking by Emma’s side. “He should be here for this,” he spoke, knowing she’d know what he meant.
“Yes,” she nodded, keeping on as straight a face as she could manage, without feeling the urge to start unloading all her present concerns on a sixteen-year-old who already had his share of revelations these days… more so than she already did.
“Not that it isn’t great to have you here, Miss Pillsbury, you…”
“No, it’s alright,” she assured him. “I understand,” she gave him a smile. “This has been fun,” she nodded. “I mean except for the cheating, the scheming… the peeing…” she thought of Jacob. There was a bit of an awkward silence. “Once you get past all that, it’s been really good,” Emma eventually nodded.
“Sorry you had to move your wedding around for this,” he nodded.
“No worries,” she promised, once again opting for the short answer.
As they approached the backstage area, they came across the other two clubs. It wasn’t so much animosity between the kids themselves. They were fairly certain they had no idea what they’d been made to be a part of on that day. In that moment, the thing on their mind would be the same thing that was on all their minds. Were they going to win? Lose? Had they done enough?
Looking at their directors though, it was a whole other matter. All those discomforts mentioned by Emma, it was because of them, and their choice to listen to Sue and cheat, which had caused them. Yes, one of them had tried – and failed – to come forward with the truth, but still there they were.
They had reached their stop. They could hear the emcee speaking through the microphone. It was never addressed who had first taken up someone else’s hand, but one hand took another, which took another… soon they were all connected from somewhere within the pack. It was hard to find one breath among the lot of them.
The second runner up was announced… The deaf school’s Glee Club moved toward the stage. They watched them go, looked to the Jane Adams girls, then to one another. They would either win, or come painfully close. Now they really couldn’t breathe. They moved to the stage, so they would call the first runner up and the winner.
The trophies were right there, on the stage, and not one of them managed to look away from them, the big one in particular. It was as though everything had slowed down… the emcee was speaking oh so slowly, they could hardly take it.
Finally, they heard the words ‘the first runner up is…’ Twenty-six hands squeezed tighter. He just loved to milk the moment, didn’t he? It wasn’t so much a dramatic pause as a dramatic intermission. And when he would speak, the last thing they wanted to hear was their own school’s name…
When they heard ‘Jane Adams,’ it took a moment for them to react. But then Brittany spoke, whispered.
“We won, right?” At once the breath refilled their lungs.
“We won…” Rachel nodded, smiling, just as the group exploded with joy, moving to take hold of their trophy.
Emma stood back, letting the twelve kids enjoy the moment amongst themselves, the moment they’d all worked together to accomplish. As much as she may have felt one of them on that day, this wasn’t about her, it was about them, and the good man who’d stepped back so they could live it.