Mike had been having a really good week.
Like honestly, for once things had been going well: Glee Club had just won sectionals, he had finally mastered a dance move he’d been working on for weeks and he completely aced his History and Physics tests, both of which he had been panicking about beforehand.
Then things went downhill. The newest bane of his existence had been discovered. Spanish.
He’d gotten a B.
A B was not good enough. Not in the life of Mike Chang. Sure, a B is better than a B- and is definitely better than the dreaded C he’d once gotten after a week of the flu in sixth grade- jeopardising his geography score and resulting in a seemingly endless world of shame. And of pain. You see, for some people a B isn’t bad at all. Many even strive to achieve that grade. But not Michael Robert Chang Junior. Not with the straight A’s he’d strived so hard to achieve, working day in and day out- dedicating every minute of every hour to his school grades, to prove himself; to prove his worth.
Mike woke up every school day. He had a shower. Got dressed. Ate breakfast. Went to school. Focused on school. Didn’t let anyone or anything distract him from school. And then came home. It had already taken such a fight with his parents to be allowed to join the football team like the rest of his friends- especially when weekly practice overlapped with after school chemistry tutoring. But Mike had fought. He researched and printed pages worth of research on how sport bettered performance in academics- showing it all to his father and refusing to back down like he had so many times before. So that he could join the team. Be part of something.
Football had given him new reason to live. To work. To keep going. The running, tackles, fast paced movement- he could almost convince himself he was dancing when he was on the field, he could almost feel free. If only for a moment.
Then came Kurt Hummel. A thin and different kid who looked even smaller in football pads, busting a move on the field without a care in the world and then kicking between the goal posts like no one on the team had seen in a long time. Kurt joining the team, temporarily or not, changed everything for Mike- because Kurt and Mr. Schuhe got them to dance. Mike laughed along at every joke about being girls or queers or just simply losers with his teammates as they learnt the choreo to Single Ladies- not seeing the point in confronting them or defending the glee clubbers like Finn did, not when it risked a detention for fighting and another one of those looks from Dad- or worse.
Mike wanted to join though. No. He had to. He wanted to be able to do what made him happy for once, to enjoy himself instead of working in favour of his father’s own plans for a future Mike had no say in. When Puck talked to him and Matt about joining up for Glee, Mike didn’t hesitate. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to live. He wanted to dance.
So he focused more on Glee Club and less on academics. And then his Spanish grade slipped. He got a B. With all the anger his father had associated with an A- due to glee club, Mike couldn’t bear to think of what would be in consequence of a B. Not when his Dad had already been so frustrated about work and with Mom siding with Mike on his dreams to be a dancer. All they had heard from him recently was yells about how the two of them were ‘conspiring against me!’, and how he had ‘Worked so hard to give you EVERYTHING YOU INGRATES!’ It had all began to blur into white noise. White noise that got louder with every mistake Mike made.
So no. Mike did not want to know what would happen after receiving a B and also being the ‘Biggest Regret’ of his father’s life. Not that what Mike wants matters, of course not. Especially not when he stood in the living room, right in front of his father, about to get the worst beating of his life while he refused to meet the eyes of the man who was suddenly much taller, and who held Mike’s report card clenched up in each trembling fist. Mike felt like the cold eyes were tearing through his chest and into his heart, spreading icy shards to his lungs and taking all ability to breathe while they dared him to make up an excuse.
Mike held back a sigh.
It had been such a good week. Nothing good ever seems to last.