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GLEE: The Second Generation

Episode 2 - Batman

So here’s what you missed on Glee.

Mr. Schue’s decided to restart his old show choir the New Directions, even though it wasn’t exactly a big hit (“Do they seriously think cartoon penises are original?” Will muttered).

Sabrina kind of press ganged her sister Micky into joining after not leaving her alone in school, which Micky kinda hated (“I will burn your shrine to Angela Lansbury, are we clear?”). She was shocked by all the bullying in McKinley, which apparently is non-existent in NYC, and she really didn’t like finding out there are people in school who are just as good singers as her. Bummer.

Keeley was angry at Austin not wanting to act “coupley” with her in public, even though people dig at him for having a diva girlfriend (“How does it feel, Owens, knowing she wears your balls as a necklace?”), but they worked through it.

And Rebecca kinda suffers from bad stage fright, and wouldn’t audition until everyone was gone. Well except for Ollie, who she doesn’t know saw her sing.

And that’s what you missed on GLEE!


ContentsEdit

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It wasn’t the streaming early September sunshine that woke Avery, or the smell of scorched waffles and overly crispy bacon. It was someone poking her shoulder. Hard.

She jerked awake, rolling off the couch to fall in a heap at her Dad’s feet, clad in their boat-sized holey sneakers.

“Wakey Wakey, Tiger!” Noah Puckerman grinned down at his bleary-eyed daughter, still in her rumpled hoodie from school. “Waffles?” He attempted to wave the plate he was currently balancing in his callused hands, along with bacon, maple syrup and what looked like orange juice, under her nose, almost falling. Avery smiled wryly, scrubbing at her sleep-fogged eyes and taking in her surroundings. She was in their lounge, which always looked like some kind of bomb had hit it, being a mass of disorganised DVD rental cases, old copies of Q and football magazines.

“Hey, uh, Pop?” she slurred. “Why’m’I in th’ lounge?”

“Huh?” Puck was in the middle of attempting to fashion a makeshift table from one of the threadbare armchairs. “Oh yeah! Well after CSI last night you kinda fell asleep on the sofa. Figured I’d leave you there since you didn’t have any work left over. You looked right comfy.” He winked as she took in the throw he’d wrapped around her and the pillows on the sofa’s arm.

“Anyway, serious business now. Batman or Green Lantern?”

Avery was confused for a moment before she saw the waffles he was gesturing at. Puck had got out the Justice League waffles they used to share when she was younger, with the pictures of DC superheroes printed in the centre of the pastry. “Actually, take that back. Green Lantern or Wonderwoman? I already started on Batman.” He looked guilty as he shuffled the armchair over to where she was sat on the sofa.

“Wonderwoman’s fine, Dad.” She smiled. “And what’s the occasion? You never bust out JLA waffles unless something big’s going down.”

“Noooooothing.” He drew the word out languidly, stuffing bacon into his mouth. “Just wanted to surprise you, Sunshine.” When Avery continued to look disbelieving, he sighed and conceded. “OK fine. I got a letter from McKinley in the post. ‘Pparently you’ve been cutting class again and a couple more students have complai-”

“Look if it’s that eunuch Austin, it’s not my fault! Evans totally has his balls on lockdown. He just doesn’t wanna admit that he has next to no masculinity, even before he decided to dunk his head in a vat of custard. Dr. H’s totally taking sides!” Avery blurted.

“Avery!” Puck cut her off sharply. “How you tackle things is up to you. Most of the time. And I know I told you to stick up for yourself and make sure the world knew that ‘Nobody pushes the Puckerman’s around,’ but you can’t go round biting people’s heads off for no reason!”

He continued before she had the chance to butt in. “I know things’re tough at the moment, what with mine and your Ma’s divorce, but you can’t take things out on people like that. If you have problems, what have I always told you?”

“Come home and talk about them.” Avery grumbled.

“Exactly! And don’t cut so much class kiddo, or you won’t graduate and’ll end up like Granddad. And you don’t want that right?” She shook her head.

Puck frowned before reaching over and pulling her into a tight hug. “Look, I’ll always love you, no matter what, and nobody can tell you otherwise. You’ll always make me proud, ‘kay Sunshine?”

They sat like that for a moment, enjoying the hug’s warmth and comfort. He looked down at her blank expression, grinning as she cracked a smile. “God, you’ve gone soft.”

The two of them wolfed down the remainder of the waffles, poking fun at the breakfast news announcer and leaving the topic of the letter unmentioned. They would have sat there quite happily for longer when they were interrupted by a loud horn from outside.

“That’ll be ‘Talia.” Puck mumbled through a mouthful, getting up to unlock and open the creaky front door. “Hey Natalia! Here to pick up Trouble over there?”

A small Latino girl stepped into the hallway, smiling shyly. “Um, yeah, that’s ok right Mr. Puckerman?”

Puck sighed. “Natalia, I’ve known you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. You’re cool to call me Noah, or Puck, just not ‘Mr. Puckerman.’ I get enough of that at work, makes me feel old. And not a word from you!” he yelled over his shoulder as Avery snickered, picking up her forgotten rucksack.

“Anyway, you two get going now. I still don’t get why you still ask if it’s alright, you give her a lift every day as it is. And say hi to your Moms for me! I’ll probably call ‘round to say hey later on.”

“Will do!” The pair were pulling out of the drive in the aging Focus before he knew it, Puck waving fondly from the doorstep.

It was weird when he thought about how quickly they’d both grown up. Seemed like only yesterday that Santana and Brittany were asking him to father a second child for them and Avery was only a twinkle in his ex-wife’s eye. Now they were both in high school. If he’d had his way, none of their kids would’ve gone to McKinley, what with everything that’d happened when he’d been there. He still wasn’t completely convinced that the school’s bullying situation (which he regretted to say he had once contributed to) had improved at all - he still got called out to speak at special assemblies addressing the matter. Nonetheless, it wasn’t like he could pay for Avery to go to Carmel or St. Catherine’s School for Girls on a cop’s salary. Plus, he now had legal bills to pay and a court case to fight, without having to worry about his daughter. He was just lucky Quinn had managed to find him one of her colleagues who could represent him for a reduced fee.

But Avery would always be the one thing he’d done right in life. The one thing he was proud of and could always call his own. His baby girl.



Mr. Schue scribbled a word in large messy letters on the white board in the school choir room. He could hear the Glee Club members he had so far trying to guess. Finally, “ASSEMBLY” stood in his untidy scrawl for the whole room to see.

“Alright guys,” he turned to speak to his merry band of misfits. “As you can all see, there aren’t that many of us so far, and we need at least twelve members to be able to qualify for national. So far we only have half those numbers. So, Dr. Hackitt has been extremely generous and offered us a performance slot in this week’s assembly so that we can promote the club. We’ll be doing a group performance so everyone can see what the New Directions are all about. And we will be singing-” he paused to add to the drama, glad to hear an uncalled for but definitely welcome drumroll –“Stand by me!”

He waited for the expected cheers of excitement of choruses of appreciation for his excellent song choice. But they never came. There was a heavy silence that settled over the room like a dark, malevolent fog. You could almost feel the wind blowing metaphorical tumbleweed past the piano.

Oh c’mon guys, Mr. Ben E. King? It’s a great song! Maybe you just don’t recognise it. Here, let me sing you a couple of bars.” He gestured to the pianist and began crooning

“When the night has come and the land is dark,

And the moon is the only light we'll see,

No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid

Just as long as you stand, stand by me.

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me

Stand by me, stand by me.”



The vocal responses he had expected came. But they were not of assent.

“NO!”

“Never!”

“That’s a terrible song! Who the Hell thought that was a good idea?!”

“Mr. Schue, whilst I applaud your attempts to introduce us to another musical generation-“

“As a Christian we’re taught to be accepting, but that song-“

“Oh Jesus! We’re singing that in front of the school.”

“I really don’t think this is a good plan.”

“They’ll kill us! Or throw shoes. And this top’s new!”

“I’ll be a laughing stock!”

“I’ve got to play football after singing that! Coach’ll chuck me off the squad!”

“They’ll shove me in a locker again!”

“Easy for you to say Hobbit, you’d have no problem fitting! I’m a giant!”

“They’d just have to chop your legs off.”

“Not helping Midget!”

“GUYS!” Mr. Schue thundered, shouting the club into silence. “Micky, let go of Santi’s head, you can’t wrestle on school property.” The pint-sized bag of aggression grumbled to herself as she released the football player’s skull.

“Okay, okay, I get the message, you all hate the song. Don’t really understand why, but I get the picture. I won’t make you do this, alright? Last time I tried to make Glee Club do something they didn’t want, it kinda back-fired on me.” He could vividly remember Rachel and Finn’s attempted sabotage with a sex-driven fiasco of a stage performance that had seen him hauled in front of Figgins. The club could be shut down before it even started if there was a repeat of that. “What we’ll do is put some posters up and choose a different, more MODERN song. That ok with you all?”

The new proposal was met with murmurs of assent, Sabrina nodding vigorously in the front row, waving her hand in the air. “Yes Sabrina?” He could already tell he was going to regret this. A sentiment clearly shared by Micky who muttered something along the lines of “This is why I carry earplugs at all times.”

“I just wanted to express my approval of this new and altogether more appropriate plan. Although exploring the music and genres of other generations is to be applauded and better yet encouraged, we stand the best chance of attracting new back up members if we appeal to their perhaps less civilised musical tastes. On that note, I presume that you will wish to feature our two most talented soloists, so I shall submit a repertoire of my go-to audition songs in order to provide an approximation of my admittedly laudable and varied range-”

“Is she for real?” Santi cut in. “Firstly, I think she just called us all stupid somewhere in all that, in which case watch out Smurfette, cause I ain’t got no clause in my contract which says no violence against Snow White’s prize midgets. And secondly, I thought this was meant to be a fair club?”

“Yes, Santi, it is.” Will was relieved that someone else had pointed it out so that he did not have to deal with Sabrina’s ego. “Although, violence is never condoned within McKinley’s walls so I don’t want to hear you saying things like that ever again. Ever!” he said with a sense of finality as he heard Santi mumbling mutinously something about not hearing him say that.

“Anyway, the song we pick has to feature all of your voices fairly equally. This club is built on democracy, and that’s how it will remain.” He thought guiltily about how much he had featured Rachel and Finn, before mentally justifying it as necessary exposure for the young prodigy and an emotional boost for Finn during difficult years.

At least, that was what he told himself to help him sleep at night. “So, any suggestions?”

Unlike his previous song choice, the new question was met with a flood of responses.

“Sexy and I know it!”

“Jerusalem!”

“Calvin Harris! I can really get my moves on to him!”

“I feel we should explore Elaine Page’s rendition of ‘Memory’ from the Broadway classic Cats!”

“The Libertines!”

“I vote Motown!”

“How about Kate Bush?”

“Bruce Springsteen!”

“That’s a terrible choice!”

“You’re a terrible choice!”

There was a loud knock from the doorway. Glad that someone was cutting off the debate that was rapidly descending into name calling, Mr. Schue turned to see an Asian student standing in the door frame. He could recognise Wyatt Chang a mile off, with his rebellious faux-hawk and letterman jacket. Sure, the kid had a bit of a reputation for sleeping around, but from what Will had heard, he was a genuinely nice, well-meaning guy. That and he knew Mike and Tina would have brought up their kid well.

“What can I help you with Wyatt?”

“Yo! I heard you guys were still holding auditions for Glee. Thought you could use some fancy footwork and someone with a bit of edge. Plus, y’know, music is great. I love music. Music is my life.”

Santi snorted loudly, thinking back to their conversation in the locker room after football.

“Yo dude! Heard you joined ‘Rainbow Explosion.’”

Santi stiffened slightly at Wyatt’s words, turning from drying his sopping hair to glare at the slightly eccentric Asian. “Yeah? What’s it to you, Spikey? I know where you keep your hair gel!” he growled, preparing for confrontation.

“Naw, naw man, ‘s cool! You got me wrong there!” Wyatt was waving his hands placatingly. “So, uh, wassit like? Any of the chicks, y’know, got it going on?”

Santi snickered. “What? You mean out of ‘the-one-with-a-boyfriend--surgically-attached-to-her-tongue,’ ‘the-one-with-too-much-testosterone-to-be-called-female,’ ‘the-one-without-a-mute-button,’ and ‘the-one-without-a-voice-or-any-personality?’ Pretty slim pickings.”

Wyatt raised an eyebrow. “They got real names?”

“Keeley, Micky, Sabrina and Rebecca.” He thought for a moment. “Guess Rebecca’s pretty cute if you ignore the silence. Great rack.”

Wyatt looked interested at that. Santi rolled his eyes. “If you want in their pants, join up. They’d be all over another guy, seeing as it’s just me and some born-again Christ guy who I’m pretty sure swings the other way. Just say some junk about loving music and they’ll be all over you.”

Wyatt grinned slyly. “Thanks bro. So your Moms have any more hot make out sessions lately?”

“Got something to say, Santi?” Will asked, jerking the hulking boy from his reverie. It was just as well, too. Santi remembered accidently slamming Wyatt’s locker door on his fingers for that comment. Accidentally.

After seeing him shake his head, Mr. Schue returned his attention to Wyatt. “So, Wyatt, you were thinking of auditioning? That’s fantastic. What do you have in mind? That is if you don’t mind performing to an audience?”

“Naw, naw, more the better.” Wyatt said something hushed to the pianist before turning back to his spectators.

“I can't win, I can't reign

I will never win this game

Without you, without you

I am lost, I am vain,

I will never be the same

Without you, without you



I won't run, I won't fly

I will never make it by

Without you, without you

I can't rest, I can't fight

All I need is you and I,

Without you, without you



Oh oh oh!

You! You! You!

Without...

You! You! You!

Without...you



I am lost, I am vain,

I will never be the same

Without you, without you

Without...you”



Wyatt ended his performance almost nose to nose with Rebecca. The blonde girl looked petrified, her eyes wide and staring at the Asian boy in front of her. Wyatt held her gaze for a moment, not quite sure what to do, before the sound of applause and cheers shook him back to reality. Smirking he was clapped on the back by Mr. Schue who praised his energetic, lively and acrobatic performance, welcoming him to Glee.

The moment between him and Rebecca seemed to have passed unnoticed by anyone else as Wyatt pulled up a chair next to Santi.

That is, apart from Ollie, who was looking daggers at the limber Asian. That was his sister, and he knew that kid’s reputation with women. He wasn’t going to let Rebecca be treated badly.

He may be a staunch Christian, but in the space of that performance, he had plotted Wyatt’s death at least seven different ways. In great detail.



Avery strode confidently down the hall. She owned these corridors and she wasn’t going to take any nonsense from anyone who decided to give her or Natalia a rough time. She smiled to herself. Most people would never have guessed that a popular Latina goddess like Natalia and a rebellious slacker like herself could be best friends. But the two of them had been firm friends since kindergarten, and loved sharing their morning car journeys to school together. They could sit in a room, talking about nothing and still end up laughing. They were even half-sisters, if what Santana had told them about her Dad fathering Nat had been right. If there was one person Avery could talk to when she was having problems, it was Talia.

It wasn’t her fault that she got in arguments at school. Most of the time people didn’t want to pick on her. Having a cop for a Dad tended to act as a big “Steer Clear” sign on her back. Still, people somehow managed to find new ways every week of rubbing her up the wrong way. Whether it was a jibe at Natalia and her family, or a dig at her own parental situation, she would always ‘overreact’ in the principal’s eyes. It was always her fault, never mind that she was provoked 90% of the time. 70% of the time. OK, 40%, but who’s counting?

Swinging in front of her best friend’s locker she dangled a movie over the top. “Guess what I picked up for tonight?”

Talia shut her door, smiling widely and grabbing the copy of Hot Fuzz hanging in Avery’s gritty hands. “So this would be the one you’ve been going on about then?”

“Yep. Full of blood. There’s this one scene when the one guy falls on a spike and-”

“Yeah yeah yeah, too much info. Really didn’t need to hear that much. You promised it was funny. If it’s not, I’d really rather watch a Disney film. Or something with that moose from the road safety ads.”

“Well the gore’s only part of it. I’ll let you know when that’s coming so you can hide behind a cushion or something-hey watch it Shrimpy!” She shouted after a small-looking freshman who scurried away after bumping into her side.

Natalia sighed audibly. “I wish you’d stop that. Hackitt’s not so bad, you know? You’re just always in her office for the wrong reasons.” She fell silent for a minute before continuing. “Anyway, I have something I really need to talk to you about later. It’s kind of important.”

Avery was worried. The last time Natalia had used that tone of voice, she’d almost been thrown of the Cheerios for missing two practices in a row, and was nervous about telling her Moms. Sure, Santana had laughed it off and Brittany had made some unhelpful remark about not wanting Natalia to die from being fired out of a cannon, but Natalia had worried herself witless about whether or not her Moms would chuck her out to live on the streets with Jew-Fro Israel, the local hobo. The time before that, her dog Sir Mouse-A-Lot had been run over by a Fed-Ex van.

“Um sure. D’you wanna find an empty classroom to talk about it now?”

“No, not really. I kinda need to get to class, plus I don’t want to be overheard.”

God, this had to be really big then. “Sure thing, anything for my favourite Space Cadet,” she smiled, using Natalia’s childhood nickname. “Meet me in the carpark after Cheerios?”

“No proble-” She squeaked as Avery was bodily shoved into a set of lockers. Wheezing, she dropped her books and clutched at her stomach as a call of “Watch where you’re going, Puckerman! No wonder you ain’t got a Mom.”

Avery saw red. She ran after the hulking football player who was easily double her height and weight, leaving Natalia to scramble and pull her books together. Reaching him (Shawn, if her memory served her right), she heaved him round and attempted to smash him into the locker nearby. Whilst not succeeding, she managed to punch him so hard she thought she saw a tooth fly from his mouth.

She pulled back to go for a second punch, yelling expletives furiously, when she felt arms grabbing her from behind and dragging her back from the melee. She was spitting insults, full of rage as Coach Washington yelled something about the pair of them coming to the principal’s office now, about being ashamed with the pair of them. Before she knew it, she was being hauled down the corridor for the umpteenth time towards Dr. Hackitt’s door. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Natalia looking terrified in the background, before rounding a corner and losing sight.



Natalia stood frozen in the corridor for a time, watching her friend disappear into the throng of bustling students. No matter how long she knew Avery, she would always scare her when she got into fights like this. Natalia was an ultra-pacifist and had difficulty even watching things like Looney Tunes because of the violence. Why on Earth did Avery think she’d cope watching something like Shawn of the Dead or whatever that film was?

Sighing she turned back to her locker, peaking at the message she’d found scribbled on crumpled paper inside.

‘GO HOME QUEERIO! WE DON’T WANT FAGS’ KIDS ON OUR TEAM.’

“Hey Lopez!”

She turned to see Aaliyah and Christine across the hall, hastily shoving the note back in her bag. The two queen bees of the school, with her as their tag-along (although equally popular) mascot. Though to her, they were her best friends on the Cheerios and probably her only real friends other than Avery and her own brother. Sure, she was popular and largely respected (if not revered) by the student body, but it was only those four that she felt she could really trust.

“You at practice later? Coach Sylvester’ll probably bust an ovary if you’re a no-show again. That would so go viral on Youtube.” Ally smirked, in between smothering her lips in pink gloss and sipping a raspberry slushie.

“Oh yeah, sure.” She scurried over, plastering a wide smile on which did not quite reach her eyes. She wrinkled her nose in confusion. “I thought men had ovaries?”

Ally laughed, tossing her mane of hair back and flashing overly white teeth. “Oh honey, don’t talk. You’ll hurt yourself one day.”

Christine smiled reassuringly before calmly explaining the finer points of the two genders’ anatomies. “You’re totally adorable sometimes Natalia.” Pulling the smaller girl into a squeeze of a hug, she reorganised her blonde locks before spinning her lock shut. The trio began to stalk off down the hallway. “So? Did you hear about Ally’s party?”

When Natalia continued to look nonplussed, Christine continued. “Her Dads are going on like a second honeymoon or something and letting her have the house for a night. So she’s throwing this massive party.”

“Yep. So long as everything looks clean and tidy afterwards, Dad and Kurt need never know.” Arching a well-shaped eyebrow, she turned to Natalia. “So you in, Lopez? I hear Masterson’s coming and he’s so into you.”

“I’ll have a think,” she replied, a sense of dread settling in her stomach. “Mom and Mama might have something on, and-”

“Oh let loose for once, will you darling?” Ally chuckled “You’ve only got one life. Looking hot, Evans. Your place tomorrow night.”

The other two had an air of long-suffering child-minders as Ally shouted after the retreating back of Landon Evans, her on-again, off-again boy-toy. Sure, Natalia had dated guys, but she didn’t throw herself around, and Christine believed in celibacy. Ally, on the other hand, seemed to throw herself at anything with a pulse in hope of an easy lay. It was like she threw any self-respect out the window when she hit fifteen.

Rounding the corner, there was a wet smack as Ally threw her remaining slushie in a passer-by’s face, chucking the empty cup on the floor and strutting into class. Christine followed her, looking guilty.

Natalia looked at the sopping girl for a moment. She was wearing some kind of skater t-shirt with raggedy jeans and hi-tops, her eyes heavily lined and glowering from under dark hair. Even though she was dripping with red corn syrup and ice chips, she was pretty.

Blushing and mumbling a hurried apology, Natalia scurried to class, leaving the sodden skater in the corridor.



“This is total bullsh-”

“I will not tolerate that kind of language in my office or in this school Miss Puckerman!” Dr. Hackitt thundered. “I’m surprised at you. As Officer Puckerman’s daughter, I know that your father encourages good values, yet you insist on acting out like this.”

Avery was sitting alone in the principal’s office. Shawn had already been dealt with, given a week and a half’s suspension and a football ban before being carted off to the Nurse’s office to check for a possible broken nose.

“But Dr. H, you and I both know I was provoked. That di- that idiot had a dig at my family! He had a go at my Ma!” Avery was beside herself, although she remembered to moderate her language. She had been genuinely provoked, and there was a corridor full of witnesses who could testify.

“Yes, but you solved the issue with your fists, which is strictly disapproved of in McKinley corridors. And this is not the first incident of its kind, is it? You have a history of this behaviour.” The battle-axe of a headmistress was austere and forbidding, like a hawk.

She sighed. “Alright, Avery. I’ll listen to you this time, no expulsion. But, young lady, you are still suspended, effective as of now until the end of the week. And” she cut over Avery’s cries of protest “I am going to insist that you take up a club to occupy your free time.”

Avery’s eyebrow’s skyrocketed. She couldn’t be serious. Avery Puckerman, resident badass and top dog, join some pointless club? This had to be some kind of joke.

“This is an opportunity for you to prove you have talents other than bashing in a few skulls. Who knows, maybe you’re not best suited for academics. You could find something you really love this way.”

Holy crap, she was serious.

“Maybe the new Glee club? I hear Mr. Schuester is looking for members? And from what I’ve heard, your father was actually a former member of the team that won Nationals in 2012. There’s a performance assembly this Friday to demonstrate what the choir will involve.”

She silenced Avery’s protests with a wave of her hand. “I don’t want to hear any more now. I shall be calling your father to come and collect you. Until that time, you are to wait with Miss Zizes in the reception. Your work for this week shall be collected by another student, Miss Lopez maybe. And your teachers shall be notified of your suspension. Not that they’ll notice any difference, seeing as you miss most of their classes anyway. I shall also inform Mr. Schuester of your pending audition.”

She waved her hand in a motion of dismissal, clearly marking that Avery should leave.

She was gobsmacked. This was ridiculous, this was biased, this was so goddamn unfair.

Her Dad was going to kill her.



Friday morning. The morning of the assembly. The Glee Club’s posters had been up all week, most of which had now been crudely defaced, but the bleachers were full and Will looked nervous as he surveyed the club members. All were dressed in jeans and black shirts with suspenders, each member putting their own spin on the outfits. They looked smart, they sounded smart, and they performed smart. The club had jointly decided on the piece, rehearsed and choreographed all week despite arguments, and knew it back to front by now.

He just hoped that he didn’t have a repeat of his last attempt to win over members through a stage performance. These things had a habit for ending badly.

Wyatt approached Rebecca who was shaking like a leaf in the corner with her younger brother trying to reassure her. “Can I help?” Ollie turned to the Asian boy with an untrusting gaze.

“Nothing you want to worry your hair over. Just nerves. Why don’t you go polish your sneakers or something, Billy Elliot?”

Shooting the Christian a withering glance, Wyatt shoved a battered looking squidgy lump into the shaking girl’s lap. Rebecca blinked owlishly, completely bewildered at the new intrusion to her personal battle. Poking it, she was surprised when it reshaped itself before springing back to its original shape.

“It’s a stress doll.”

Looking up sharply, she saw Wyatt giving her an awkward smile. Scooting along the bench, he sat beside her to explain. “What you do is pummel the living daylights out of one of these when you’re feeling worried. Imagine you’re taking all your nerves out of you and sending them into the doll. Trust me, it helps.” He gazed into her grey eyes for a long moment, noticing how they shone in the dark behind stage. Clearing his throat, he looked away. “Uh, anyway, um, good luck. I’m sure you’ll do ace. Uh, yeah.”

With one last smile and a reassuring squeeze of her hand, he disappeared back into the crowd of club members. She was at a complete loss. Rebecca had no idea what had just happened or why on Earth Wyatt Chang had decided to help her. It didn’t make any sense, she was just a wallflower nerd with stage fright. Frowning and looking back at her hands, she noticed they were now still.

“ALRIGHT EVERYONE, GATHER ROUND!” Will hollered over the milling students, breaking up Santi and Micky’s shouting match and Sabrina and Keeley’s runs practice. “Now I know some of you are really nervous about this,” he glanced over at the anxious Rebecca who was playing with something in her hands.

“Uh, yeah, of course we’re not looking forward to it.” Micky snarked. “I’m not doing football with slushie-red hair because of this.”

“Make that two.” Santi joined in.

“Look, nobody made you join up, so shut up or leave,” Keeley bit, savagely. “Some of us are actually looking forward to a little crowd loving.” She smacked Sabrina a high-five the pair looking smug and self-assured.

“Can it, Tina Turner!”

“Guys!” Silence fell as attention returned to Mr. Schue. “Look, you’ve all got your own reasons for doing this. But we all love music, and that’s why we’re going on stage: to sing and entertain! You all know your parts, you all know what you’re going to do. So now’s the time to just go out there and sing your hearts out, alright? Who’s with me?”

There were mumbles of assent, which increased in volume after Will repeated the question, rising to a battle cry. They could all hear Dr. Hackitt winding up the speeches on stage, and tensed behind the curtain. It was like time slowed. They could feel every breath, hear every heartbeat.

The curtains opened, and their performance began.

SABRINA:

“Stamp on the ground,

Move it all around.”



OLLIE:

“Stamp on the ground,

Move it all around.”



SABRINA AND OLLIE:

“Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Dat dada doo.

Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Jump it all around.”



ND:

“Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Do do dado,

Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Jump it all around”



WYATT:

“Drop the beat!”



ND:

“Jump it all around

Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Do do dado,

Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Doda do do do”



WYATT:

“We’re sending out, (KEELEY: Woah!)

An invitation,

To everyone,

In every nation.”



REBECCA:

“Don’t sleep,

Get on the run,

Stop thinking,

And just have some fun!”



MICKY AND SANTI:

“Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Dat dada doo.

Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Jump it all around.”



ND:

“Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Dat dada doo.

Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Jump it all around.

Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Do do dado,

Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Doda do do do”



WYATT:

“Drop the beat!”



KEELEY:

“So come and join,

Our love foundation,

Come feel the heat,

The sweet vibrations.”



SANTI:

“Cause we are,

About to ignite,

And we wanna go

Out tonight!”



REBECCA:

“Stamp on the ground,

Move it all around.”



WYATT:

“Stamp on the ground,

Move it all around.”



MICKY:

“Stamp on the ground,

Move it all around.”



KEELEY:

“Stamp on the ground,

Move it all around.”



SABRINA:

“Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Dat dada doo.



OLLIE:

“Stamp on the ground,

Jump jump jump jump,

Move it all around,

Jump it all around.”



ND:

“Do do do,

Do do do,



MICKY:

“Love foundation!”



ND:

“Do do do,

Do do do do,

Do do do,

Jump it all around”



WYATT:

“Drop the beat!”



ND:

“Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Do do dado,

Do do do,

Do do do doda,

Do do do,

Jump it all around”



As the music finished, an awkward silence fell over the gym. Will could hear the teachers around him clapping whole heartedly but not much aside from them. He began to panic, watching his group of fledgling singers on stage breathing heavily and grinning, holding their finale positions for all they were worth. This was it. This was going to be the end of the club before it had even begun. The kids would be ridiculed, bullied even. Sabrina and Keeley would go back to being unappreciated divas. Micky and Ollie would disappear back into the school’s social fabric. Rebecca’s tiny self-confidence would be shattered. This was all his fault.

Suddenly, there was a swell of applause from the bleachers. People were on their feet, cheering, even whistling their approval. Each of the members dissolved into genuine smiles, breaking the position finally to bow and hurry off stage. Will hurriedly reiterated the details of club attendance and meeting times, stumbling over his own feet to run backstage and congratulate his performers. He found them laughing, smiling, pulling each other into bone-crunching hugs of congratulatory pride.

This was definitely the right thing to do. This was something special. He just knew it.



Wyatt sidled up to Rebecca’s locker, slouching against it as she fumbled with the lock. Her face was flushed from the performance and she was determinedly avoiding his gaze. Coughing to alert her to his presence, she seemed startled at the sudden appearance of the Asian student by her side.

“So, uh, just wanted to say, um,” he was getting flustered, tripping over his words. Crap, he was never usually like this with girls. OK, breathe Wyatt, breathe. She’s just a normal chick, you know how to talk to chicks.

“Ithoughtyouwerereallyawesomeoutthere.”

He’d said it, phwew. But Rebecca continued to look bewildered, like she hadn’t understood what he’d said. Swallowing, he felt a bead of sweat slide down his forehead as she smiled and quietly, but politely, asked him what he’d said. He repeated his words, making sure to enunciate each one separately. It was true, Rebecca was an impressive dancer, possibly as good as him, which was saying something. And boy could she sing. Smokey voice, like listening to one of those 1920s lounge singers.

She smiled shyly and reassuringly at him. “Thanks, Wyatt. You were really good too.” She stood awkwardly for a moment. “Um, I’ve still got your doll.” She held it up, trying to pass it to him, surprised when he pressed it back in her hand.

“Uh, keep it.” He mumbled. “I don’t get nervous any more. Plus, you kinda look like you need it more than me.”

Her face lit up, and she pulled him in for a quick hug.

Down the hallway, Ollie shut his locker with an audible snap, crushing the pocket Bible in his hand.



Avery and Natalia sat in the battered Focus outside the Puckerman household. They were listening to soft rock and sharing a bag of Haribo. It was a weekend tradition for them to go see a movie and then sit on the drive for hours as the night drew in, coating the sky in darkness. They were smiling and joking about one thing or another, until the conversation became more serious.

“Um hey,” Avery turned to her friend. “Look, I’m sorry for, y’know, getting kicked out earlier. It totally wasn’t my fault. That Hackitt bi- cow’s got it in for me.” She bit back the insult at Natalia’s disapproving glare.

“It’s fine, don’t worry. I’m kinda glad we didn’t see that film anyway. Ally and Christine told me it’s really not funny, like at all.” The two lapsed into an awkward silence for a moment. “So, um, how did your Dad react?”

Avery snorted loudly. “Honestly? He was mad as hell ‘til I told him what that ass-wipe had said. Then he took me out for congratulations ice-cream and taught me how to really break his nose next time. Off campus, of course.” She frowned briefly. “I think he had something going on with Miss Zizes too.”

Natalia’s interest perked at this, ready for gossip. “Yeah,” Avery continued. “I mean, when he saw her, he turned kind of…maroon? Something like that. And he was all stuttery and nervous. Plus, he called her Lauren. Who calls a teacher by their name unless something really went down?”

The two snickered briefly, before shuddering at the idea of Puck and Miss Zizes, the blue whale of a receptionist. “Maybe she was pretty once? You never know.” Natalia suggested. “So what did Hackitt make you do, besides the whole suspension thing. I heard Shawn Adams got two weeks.”

“One and a half, plus a football ban, but who’s counting.” Sucking on a cola bottle, Avery thought for a moment. “She’s making me join Glee club.


“Seriously? They were actually pretty good on Friday. I know you missed their performance and all, it was a massive dance house number. Pretty cool actually.” Sighing as Avery continued to look despondent, she grabbed a fried egg, chewing thoughtfully. “Want me to join with you?”

Avery turned to her surprised, a sweet dangling from her mouth forgotten. “For serious? I-That’d be like seriously uber cool of you, but it’s kind of a loser club right? You’re a Cheerio! Plus, don’t practices clash?”

Natalia smiled cheerfully. “Nah, it’s no problem. I checked the schedules and there’s no clash. And I reckon you could really use a familiar face with this.”

The two sat in contented silence for a moment, until Noah Puckerman appeared at the front door calling Avery in. “I better get going, you want to stay for tea?” Natalia refused, saying her Moms were meant to be cooking chilli. Avery ran up towards the house before suddenly tearing back to the car.

“Sorry, I totally forgot with everything else that was going on. What was it you wanted to talk about the other day? The really important thing?”

Natalia thought back. Back to the message left in her locker, one of many she had received lately. Back to the unpleasant looks of the other Cheerios who refused to get changed in front of her because she might go gay on them. Back to how she had wanted to come out to her best friend, about she thought she might actually be just that.

Gay.

“Nothing. It’s passed now anyway. No problem. Just something that came up with Coach Sylvester in practice the other day. It’s fine,” she insisted at Avery’s disbelieving look, “I’m great, see?” She smiled widely to demonstrate.

Apparently it was enough to convince Avery, who pulled her into a tight hug and made her swear not to worry her and tell her if anything was going wrong at least five times before running towards her Dad.

Everything was fine, Natalia told herself, as she pulled out of the drive and crunched down the moonlit road.

Everything was fine.

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