Did Artie feel concerned that Tina didn't have time to see him between when she got back from Asian camp and the first day of school? Hell, yeah. But he was pretty busy too; defending his place on the Halo leaderboards was practically a full time job. Artie had to give it up in the name of education and the first thing he did was look for Tina.
Artie found her in the hallway, getting her books from her new locker. "Hey, little mama! What's shakin'?"
Tina rolled her eyes, but gave Artie an indulgent smile anyway. Artie grinned back at her. Tina nodded to Artie's lap before taking a seat there. "I met a possible third for us."
"Oh yeah?" Artie had known Tina wanted to look for a third, but he felt lucky enough getting to date one girl. Why would he press his luck going for a complete relationship he probably wasn't going to get? "Who is it?"
"Mike Chang," Tina sighed with this far-off, star struck look in her eyes.
"Glee-club Mike Chang?" Artie looked around the hallway for the boy in question, but didn't see him. To be honest, Artie always pictured himself in a two-girl relationship - not because he was mono or anything like that - because he knew he wasn't manly enough to attract and keep another guy. "I thought he and Matt had a thing."
"Matt moved away," Tina told him. "And I really like Mike. Like, a lot."
Artie looked at Tina for a moment, and he got a sinking feeling in his gut that if Artie didn't go out with Mike, if he didn't at least try to make it work, Tina would leave him for Mike. "Sure," he said. "Yeah, let's do it."
Tina's bright grin made Artie smile in return and he let her push him to home room.
That afternoon in glee, Tina sat next to Artie and Mike sat on her other side. Artie saw Mike reach for Tina's hand, and then think better of it and pull away. He gave Artie a hopeful smile and maybe if Artie felt like Mike liked him for him and not just for the fact that he was already with Tina, Artie might have returned the smile.
Artie's dad dropped him off at breadsticks and Mike was waiting with a handful of flowers. "Are those for Tina?"
"They're for you, actually," Mike said with a smile, bending down and giving Artie the flowers. "I asked Tina to come a few minutes late so we could have some time, just you and me."
"Okay," Artie said, rolling into the restaurant when Mike held open the door. "You know, I think that's the most I've ever heard you say at one time."
Mike smiled and silently followed the waitress back to their table. It was a triangular table, perfect for dates, and Artie took one side, with Mike at his left. The right side they left open for Tina.
"So what did you want to talk about?" Artie broke one of the breadsticks and chewed on the jagged end.
"I just…" Mike started, fiddling with his napkin. "I just wanted to, like, clear the air. Tina and I got close at camp and I-"
Artie couldn't help but cut Mike off. "How close?"
"Does it matter?" Mike asked, reaching across the table to put his hand over Artie's. "All that matters is that we started having feelings while you weren't there and I hate how unbalanced that's made everything. So, I was thinking maybe if tonight goes well, you and I could spend some extra time together? Just the two of us?"
Artie thought about Mike's words for a minute, trying to figure how why he wasn't as pissed off as he thought he should be. "Mike, just … " Artie sighed. "If Tina weren't in the picture, would you still want to date me?"
"Yeah," Mike insisted. "Your voice is awesome and I like your sense of humor. And your taste in girls. Plus, Matt left and I really miss being close to a guy friend like that, and you're one of my best friends." Then Mike looked down again and pushed at his fork with one finger. "If Tina weren't in the picture, would you want to date me?"
"Are you kidding?" Artie snorted in disbelief. "You're so smokin' hot. Of course I'd date you! And you've got some killer moves. You know I used to be a dancer? Before." He nodded down at his legs.
"You were?" Mike smiled brightly. "That's awesome. You know, between you and me," Mike leaned over the table and said in a low voice, "you're a way better dancer than most of the glee club, even with the wheelchair."
Artie laughed and nodded. "You know that's true." Feeling a little more brave, Artie slid his hand into Mike's. Mike blushed.
When Tina arrived, Artie and Mike had just started a breakdown of their thoughts on the previous season's reality TV dance competitions, and Mike was laughing at Artie's impression of one of the judges. "Hey, guys," Tina said with a big smile on her face. "Everything going okay?"
"Everything's great," Artie told her, squeezing Mike's hand and giving him a smile. Yeah, this could totally work.