Singin' In The Rain

Chapter 4

Tina reaches the Center earlier than usual in hope to find Mike to thank him personally, but after scouring the compound, she finds him at the field trying to coach a teenage boy out of his ‘meltdown’ phase. Kids in particular went into that mode when they were agitated or frightened, which meant hysterics, violence or for some, even epilepsy.

Seeing as Mike seemed to be handling the situation quite well on his own with the visual cue cards hanging around his neck, Tina goes back to her workstation. She and Santana exchange more tips and notes on how to manage each other’s mentees, and Tina is impressed by how earnest Santana is when it comes to Brittany. Her sharp tone melts into something softer and warmer, and she wonders if she sounds just as proud of Artie as Santana is of Brittany.

Tina spends the time after lunch at the design studio where Holly gives her an in-depth tour of the art pieces and designs that the center participants have contributed. Sugar’s designs stand out in particular, not just because of the bright colors, but also that they have a certain freshness of perspective and Tina feels like Kurt would go all grabby-hands in this small little creative space. She watches as Sugar and some of the others spend their time sketching on paper, canvas or the computer. The problem is that not enough people come by to view their designs, both in the physical shop and online. Holly is a great teacher, but she’s no marketer. Tina files this at the back of her mind.

When it’s time to meet Brittany, Tina has her hands full from the moment she steps into Room No. 5. As it turns out, the reason for Brittany getting a specialized therapist is because she’s extremely emotional. She bursts out into tears when she realizes Tina is taking over Santana’s session, despite Santana assuring Tina that she had prepped Brittany well for the change in routine. Tina takes almost an hour to calm Brittany down for good, and wryly thinks back to when Artie insisted he had to have Rachel.

Brittany then begins to talk a lot about little elves living in the corners of the room building trees for gummy bears. Her eyes dart around constantly and her expression is earnest and thoughtful all at once.

“Brittany?” Tina says gently. “Tell me what the elves look like.”

Brittany starts to get a lot more excited as she describes the little creatures and their hardworking nature. Tina’s a little concerned that Santana indulges Brittany’s fantasies when she is already twenty-six, but as it is, these fantasies also lend material to her drawings. When Brittany puts crayon to paper, it seems like she’s ready to do a kiddy drawing. But when she manages to draw elves that look suspiciously like Disney characters, Tina can’t help clasping her hands together. Then the next thing she draws are broccolis, which she insists are where the gummy bears live.

“Brittany,” says Tina, as patiently as she can manage. “Gummy bears are not living things. They are meant for eating.”

“They try to escape at night,” says Brittany. “I’ve stopped eating them and you should too. It’s cruel.”

Tina thinks that next time she should show Brittany a video of how gummy bears are made. Not that she means to be cruel, but she thinks there are some doses of reality that need to be fed somehow. Brittany continues with her story, but Santana had said that she just recites the story over and over again – she’s not really telling it to anyone in particular. The rest of the session is spent trying to get Brittany to talk about her drawing, but somehow when Tina tries mentioning Santana again, the girl starts to tear a little, and it starts all over again.

Well then, Santana’s probably having a hard time trying to calm Artie down too. I asked for this.

Tina ends her session with Brittany five minutes earlier so that she can let the girl dance on her own inside the room. She goes to Room No. 3 to take a peek, and is surprised to see that Artie is diligently explaining Singin’ In The Rain to Santana using the table template. He’s calm and confident when presenting as usual, which is great, but most of all, when he ends and Santana applauds him, he’s smiling.

Smiling! Has Santana even seen him smile before?

Santana places Artie’s table gently on the table and works through with him for a bit. Frowning a little, Tina steps away from the window and backtracks a bit. She paces around till the bell rings. Then she pretends to walk towards the door just as Santana exits.

“Oh, hey!” Tina says, brightly. “How was it?”

Santana stares at her, then shrugs. “Okay. You’ve done a pretty fly job of making him talk to me like I’m there. It’s nice to be appreciated as a visible thing every now and then.”

She says it with a slight sadness, although Tina is fairly sure Brittany does regard Santana as a ‘visible thing’ – and maybe even more.

“I’m surprised he’s so calm,” says Tina, peeking through the window again where Artie has turned to face the screen once more. “He was really upset when he heard you were taking over.”

Santana blinks. “Well, if he was, he didn’t show it. He practically worked a butler charm on me the moment I entered. Did you make him watch some preppy schoolboy musical where they teach you how to angle your beret and polish your crowns? I swear he was like that grubby and cantankerous ol’ janitor at my high school before who couldn’t get past three words without swearing. But with Artie, it’s glaring. Was Brittany okay, by the way?”

“Yeah. Still spacey and talking about little elves though.”

“She didn’t mention the oven this time, did she? The other day, Sue told Will elves were baking cookies in his loony, wiry locks and Brittany thought they’d do the same in her trees. If I could get Famous Amos that way, I’d have drunk a serum of curly hair DNA every morning.”

Tina doesn’t quite know how to feel as Santana brushes past her. She turns to the window and watches Artie as he stares at the T.V. He doesn’t really write anything when the song Singin’ In The Rain comes on; he just watches intently. When it ends, he switches the T.V. off.

That’s a first. Tina arches her eyebrows. Artie rarely watches a show halfway.

“I know you’re there,” he says loudly. “Can you come in?”

Tina makes a face and does as he says. He’s wheeled himself to face her, and is looking at her curiously.

“Why do you keep watching me from the window?” he asks. “You can come in and sit here if you like.”

“I’m supposed to let you have time alone,” says Tina, awkwardly. Then she pauses. “Wait, so you know I’m always standing outside?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.”

There is an awkward silence (at least, for Tina) before she sits down and asks quietly, “So working with Santana was fine?”

Artie shrugs, a little too clinically. “She let me watch my show and do my table.”

“You had a good chat with her.”

“She made sense,” he says.

Tina still isn’t quite sure how she feels about him adjusting so quickly, but decides it’s for the better.

When she doesn’t say anything for the next few minutes, Artie asks, “Could you sing the song for me? Singin’ In The Rain, with the umbrella?”

For a moment, Tina still can’t find the right words to say. Then she tilts her head. “I thought you hated the umbrella.”

“Well, it doesn’t go with anything in West Side Story.” He looks at her like she’s a five-year-old. “It’s a symbolic prop in Singin’ In The Rain, so of course you have to use it.”

Tina picks up the umbrella and fidgets with it. “Umm... shall we go outside instead? I uhh, need some fresh air.”

Artie doesn’t seem pleased, but he wheels out anyway, with Tina trailing behind. She picks up a bright yellow umbrella that she had seen on the bench in the quadrangle and when Artie stops moving, she affixes her own blue one to the back of his wheelchair.

“What are you doing?” asks Artie.

Tina picks up the yellow umbrella and starts dancing around. “I’m singin’ in the rain... just singin’ in the rain... Come on, Artie, you know how to twirl.”

“I don’t,” says Artie, his face darkening.

“Yes, you do, you always wheel around from the T.V. to the table. Show me how you wheel around.”

Grudgingly, he does so.

“Okay, now wheel back.”

“This is stupid,” says Artie, staying put. “I can’t dance.”

“Well, you can’t dance like me, but you can dance like you.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

Tina takes a deep breath. “Okay, you want sense? Then just follow my movements. Whenever I turn around, you have to do so too.”

Artie scowls. “I don’t like this.”

Tina bends over slightly to grip the handrails of his wheelchair. “Artie Abrams, you said you have always wanted to dance. I’m teaching you how to dance in a wheelchair. Do you want to learn, or not?”

Artie blinks.

Tina cocks her head to the side.

“Okay,” he says, resignedly.

Tina claps her hands in glee. “Okay, when I step forward, you wheel forward. When I step back, you move back. Follow me as I side-step too.” She promptly demonstrates while she speaks. Artie starts to concentrate and follows her movements by wheeling from side-to-side.

“Now who says you can’t dance?” Tina demands, as she starts to belt out the lyrics of Singin’ In The Rain. Artie is too focused on moving, but when eventually he gets the hang of it, he starts to sing along too. Tina drops her notes to a harmony, but Artie’s melody is still ringing out strong.

“I’m singin’ in the rain... just singin’ in the rain...”

Artie wheels around as Tina twirls; he leans back on the little wheels when Tina falls back on one leg; she takes his hand and helps spin him around as she holds out the umbrella. A slow smile blooms on Artie’s face, and Tina’s constantly beaming.

“What a glorious feelin’, I’m happy again...”

Artie nearly wobbles off his chair at one point and Tina nearly slips on her foot, but still, they continue singing.

Until it starts to rain.

Tina immediately shifts the umbrella over her head. “Time to go back in, Artie!”

“No!” Artie stills her hands as she moves towards his chair handles. “This is perfect weather to sing the song in.”

Tina stares at him bemusedly. “Artie, you’ll get wet.”

“No, we have umbrellas,” he says, matter-of-factly. “Come on.”

“Since when did you get so adventurous?” Tina wonders aloud, but she’s laughing as she spins him around. Artie’s singing rises above the splatter of rain and Tina joins him.

“I’m laughing at clouds, so dark up above...”

She kicks about in the rain, and his wheels splash water all around too. Then Tina realizes Artie’s laughing, out loud, and it’s possibly the most beautiful sound she’s ever heard in a long while.

“The sun’s in my heart, and I’m ready for love...”

The way they’re singing and dancing, they might as well not have umbrellas. Artie’s spectacles are glistening with raindrops while Tina’s hair is getting plastered to her face. Then, Artie is tilting his wheelchair – yes, tilting – and rocking back and forth to the beat as he sings. His smile is the widest Tina has ever seen. He can’t possibly see much through those wet glasses of his, but he reaches out and takes her hands anyway, and swings her around joyfully with one hand. Tina squeals in delight as she does a quick skip along.

At that moment, they are not therapist and mentee.

At that moment, they are a young man and a young woman who love music and are singing and dancing to their hearts’ content in the rain.

“Artie!” yelps Tina, as he turns and his wheels splash up to her knees.

Artie raises his hands up in triumph, knocks the umbrella further back and promptly gets wetter.

Eventually, Tina pushes him back to shelter against his protests with a simple but firm, “We can’t let you get sick!” She grabs a pack of tissues from her bag and helps wipe Artie’s face. It’s so wet that the tissues are soaked through immediately. He stills her hand once again and she stares at him in surprise.

“I can do it,” he says, and proceeds to take the tissue packet from her. He takes out his spectacles and cleans them meticulously, then cleans his own face. But what she doesn’t expect is that when he’s done, he takes a fresh set of tissues and says, “Bend down.”

She does so automatically without really realizing that what he wants to do – and which he does – is to help dab her face.

Tina freezes.

Artie’s hand is gentle as he presses down and lifts up on each rivulet of rain on her face. The way he’s so attentive is almost hypnotic – or maybe it’s the crystal blue of his eyes, the way it seems to glitter, she’s never seen a color quite like that before –

She doesn’t dare to pull back for fear of startling and possibly, annoying him, so she just sits there patiently while he cleans up her face. All she can do is to watch his eyes and get mesmerized by how in place of the usual blankness, there’s a shine, a glow, a radiance that seems to penetrate through her skin.

She’s not sure if the quick shiver that runs through her is due to the cold, or something else.

When he retrieves his hand, she whispers, “Thank you,” and goes about clearing up the place. She knows exactly when he leaves – not immediately after the “Goodbye”, because he lingers – but when she finally slots the tape back amongst the rest. Then she looks outside the window, where the rain continues to pour.

Mike’s the first to see her enter the staff room, half-soaked with a completely dry face. He stares a moment too long, before he rushes off and comes back with a towel to help dry her hair. Both he and Santana look at her with incredulity, but she just laughs it off.

Her laugh comes out giddy, giggly, and she finds herself smiling for the rest of the day.

Why am I smiling, and why do I sing?
Why does September seem sunny as spring?

Why do I get up each morning and start?
Happy and head up, with joy in my heart.
Why is each new task a trifle to do?

Because I am living a life full of you.


“Santana?”

“Mm?”

“Can I borrow a *sniff* pack of tissues from you?”

“Girl, at the rate you’re going, you could just flood your desk,” says Santana, rolling her eyes. “Snatch a roll from the ladies, I ain’t wasting good two-ply soft tissues on your sniffles.”

Tina skips the session with other center participants after lunch to rest at the staff lounge so that she can be well enough for Artie’s session. Her slumber is interrupted halfway through when Santana bursts in with hands on her hips.

“Okay, why’s McCrippants looking like a Rudolph too?”

Tina blinks sleepily. “W-what? Who’s McCrippants?”

Santana sinks down into the couch next to her. “It’s short for something you don’t want to know, but I simply mean Abrams. Who got sick first?”

Tina frowns as she sits up and rubs her eyes. “We were both well yesterday...”

Santana arches an eyebrow. “Okay, ‘fess up, chica. It was rainin’ yesterday and you were like a drenched chicken. What did the two of you do? Do a rain ritual?”

“What? No...” Tina yawns, then stops halfway. “Wait.”

Santana sits up straight.

Tina groans. “Oh no...”

“Are you a pagan or something? Rain rituals are so yesterday! And by the way, you need to know that they aren’t for healing legs.”

“No, I was just...” Tina feels her cheeks grow red. “It was just a harmless song-and-dance thing. We were mimicking Gene Kelly in Singin’ In The Rain, that’s all. We even had umbrellas! I didn’t think we’d get sick from that bit of rain...”

“I think we should cancel your session with him and send him straight to bed,” says Santana. “He doesn’t look that good too.”

Tina takes the rest of the day off, but not before going to see Artie at his dorm. Santana has already tucked him in and put a towel on his forehead – apparently, she forgot to mention the fact that he was burning up. But she makes up for it by not saying anything and leaving the two of them alone.

Overwhelmed with guilt, Tina goes to sit beside Artie. She adjusts his towel and he begins to hum.

Singin’ In The Rain. Of course.

“Artie?” whispers Tina. “How’re you feeling?”

He doesn’t respond, but makes a whining noise instead.

Tina’s own eyes are watering slightly, but she’s more worried that Artie still seems to be heating up. Santana has placed a basin of ice in water and a stack of towels next to the table, and Tina quickly dips one of the towels into the cold water, wrings it and dabs it against Artie’s neck.

“I’m so sorry, Artie... no more rain outings again, okay? Even with umbrellas.”

“Tina?” Artie croaks.

“Hey,” says Tina, cracking a small smile.

“I’m feeling really hot. My throat hurts and my nose is wet.”

“You’re sick, Artie. You’ve got a flu and fever.”

“Do you have it too?” he asks softly as he touches her hand.

She slips her hand away carefully. “A little bit. But it’s okay. I’m going home to rest.”

“Do you want a hug?”

Tina’s eyes widen. “Artie, it’s okay. You’ll feel hotter if uhh, you hug me.”

“I thought it might make you feel better. It always makes me feel better.”

Poor boy. He really was deprived of his hugs.

“You’re much sicker than me, Artie, so you should sleep now.”

“I can’t sleep...”

She continues to dab around his neck.

“Thank you...”

Her hand stills.

“Thank you for teaching me how to dance.”

Once again, words die on her tongue despite her open mouth.

“I...” He groans a bit before continuing, “I felt so much better.”

Tina ends up chuckling bitterly. “You’re not better, Artie.”

“My whole body is hot,” Artie affirms, and moans again.

Tina stares at him, then swallows as she eyes his buttoned-up shirt. Of course he’s hot if he’s wearing that. So the logical thing to do would be to unbutton it, right?

Right. She reaches out to undo the first button.

Now Tina is feeling really hot, and she’s pretty sure it’s not because of any kind of fever.

Thank you. His words reverberate in her mind. Thank you.

She continues to dab his skin with the towel as she unbuttons his shirt. She can’t not look, otherwise she’ll end up wetting his shirt instead. And to her mild surprise, Artie seems to have quite the decent body. Probably because he works out with his wheelchair.

Tina? Mike has abs. What are you thinking?

Tina snaps out of it and focuses on cooling Artie’s body down with the towel (the focus is the cooling, not the body!). She washes the towel again and wipes his face. He’s still moaning, so she doesn’t feel like leaving him there alone. She continues the same routine of wiping him down until her eyelids start to droop and her hands start to weaken.

“Tina?” whispers Artie.

“Mm?” She drops the towel on the table and struggles to keep her eyes open.

His hand is on hers, but she can barely register it; her head is so heavy and her nose is now blocked.

“Are you tired?”

“Yeah,” Tina mumbles.

She’s pretty sure he says something, but she can’t really hear it. All she can feel is that the bed is pretty soft and her head needs something soft to lie on.

It’s just for a short while.

Something rests on her head, but it doesn’t add to the weight.

Stop spinning...

Mm. There’s music.

Whatever is on her head is rubbing her temples now.

This is nice... that spot on my head is really painful... but yes, that feels better now...

Mm.

“Tina?”

Mm.

“Tina?”

Ugh. I need to rest.

“TINA!”

Tina jolts upright, knocking Artie’s hand aside and nearly cracking her neck in the process. “Ow...”

She blinks, rubs her eyes, then sees a figure standing in the doorway. “Eh?”

“What. The hell?” says the figure, who marches in and yanks Tina up.

Oh. It’s Santana.

Oh. She’s been lying on Artie, not the bed. And he has an unbuttoned shirt.

“You were supposed to be home,” hisses Santana. “I left you here to say goodbye, not to fall asleep in his arms and let him run his fingers through your hair! What were you thinking?! The door was freaking half-open! What do you think Sue would have said if she came by?!”

“Can we... can we move outside?” asks Tina, weakly. Her head is spinning a little, and Santana’s fierce whispers are not helping.

Santana pulls her outside and shuts Artie’s dorm door. Then she folds her arms and stares at Tina, who is pretty much still feeling disheveled (and probably looks like it too).

“I...” Tina tries to speak, but her mouth feels dry.

Santana hooks her by the arm. “Okay, I’m not going to say anymore, we just have to get your home. You look like a sick puppy who got kicked. C’mon.”

Halfway through stumbling to Santana’s car, they meet Mike, who says he will send her home instead. Santana says something rather stern, but Tina can’t really make out any more of their conversation. She’s pretty sure Artie’s heat has transferred to her, because she’s burning up like crazy. Her eyelids are drooping again, and somebody’s asking her a question. She just nods blindly and hopes it’s the right answer. Whatever it is, she just needs that nice, soft headrest and maybe, somebody to sing to her and rub her head again. That would be good.

That would be really good.


A few days later, Tina is back at her desk feeling right as rain and bearing no sign that she’s been stuck in bed for that amount of time stuffed with tissues, towels and her favorite teddy bear. Mike’s warm and gentle voice relaying Santana’s unsympathetic quips and daily happenings with his participants did help to make her feel better. Still, her head had throbbed with the knowledge that Artie had spent days in bed too.

Santana tells her that she has arranged for both Brittany and Artie to attend a music session with Blaine, so instead of having the usual mentee session, Santana and Tina would go to the Lima Bean for a cuppa, with complimentary approval from Sue.

Tina is naturally apprehensive about what is to come.

“I used to come here for lattes after high school,” muses Tina, as they get in line at the Lima Bean.

Santana doesn’t say anything, not until she requests her “usual caramel macchiato, with extra steroids”, much to Tina’s horror.

“It tempers the fat content,” says Santana, seriously, as they sit at a table. “Okay, now don’t change the subject, lady.”

“What was the subject?” Tina arches an eyebrow.

“The subject is about you falling asleep in Wheely Boy’s arms and looking cozy as a kitten being preened and bow-tied up,” says Santana, and Tina winces. “Seriously, Girl Chang? He’s so scrawny and was burning up with fever that it must have been like sleeping on scorching driftwood.”

“He’s not scrawny,” retorts Tina, then feels her cheeks heat up once again.

“Did I tell you about Rachel?” Santana’s voice turns sweet.

“What about Rachel?”

“She didn’t leave because she couldn’t stand Artie. She left because she couldn’t break her connection with someone.”

Tina scrunches up her face. “You mean...” She sits up straight. “Finn?

“I’ll spare you the details,” says Santana. “Repeating it makes me think about her lovesick face and it makes me want to hurl chunks. But anyway, Rachel thought Finn was her type – tall, gentle and his arms look like tree trunks made out of Jell-O. So she let herself sink into a fantasy while Finn really got attached to her.”

“He did? But –”

“But he looks perfectly fine now, doesn’t he? Talk to him about Rachel now and you won’t really get much response beyond that kooky smile and an ‘Oh.’.”

“It could just be a touchy subject.”

“My point is –” says Santana, and she leans forward with a knowing look. “Not only is it unprofessional, it’s just not gonna work out. They aren’t – they aren’t your romantic notions of gentlemanly, hopelessly-in-love dudes. These people either just don’t get it the way we do, or they get hurt a million times worse.”

“I don’t get why you’re telling me all this,” says Tina, and gulps down her coffee.

Santana doesn’t say anything for a while again. They sit there in awkward silence till Santana has polished her cup clean.

But it’s Tina who speaks first.

“Also, I don’t agree that they can’t be romantic or gentlemanly. Maybe they have to learn the ‘right’, socially acceptable way to express it, but they inherently care. Just because they are more socially awkward doesn’t mean they’re socially impaired.”

“You’re right,” says Santana. “They have to learn, but it’s not easy. It’s tiring and it’s frustrating for a normal individual...”

“Nobody is really normal!” retorts Tina.

“Yes, Miss Everybody-Is-Equal, but things are different when you get close to someone! For us therapists, opportunities are dime a dozen simply because we want to care and want to be there for that person. We get easily tied to their emotions because when they’re happy, it makes us happy, when they’re frustrated, it makes us feel desperate too.”

Silence.

“I’m not emotionally attached to Artie,” says Tina, though it comes out more meek than firm.

Santana arches an eyebrow. “I was making a conclusive statement, for your information.”

“It was just a compromising position, not an act!” Tina almost yells, then realizes that others are staring and lowers her voice to a whisper. “I just care for him because he is my mentee.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Santana!”

“Alright, I’ll shut up.”

“And also, Artie is perfectly capable of good social interactions.”

“Yeah, when the past few mass games have really just been a case of ‘good social interaction’ between the two of you in the garden. And maybe throw in an Anderson, I’ll give you that. Progress!” Santana waves her hands in mock triumph.

Tina folds her arms. “I’ll prove it to you soon enough.”

Santana snorts. “Also, if having an intellectual conversation of economical analysis on musical theatre counts as ‘good social interaction’, I rather he face the T.V. screen every day than give me a lecture on why an umbrella works better than a teapot in the rain or something.”

Tina narrows her eyes at Santana. “Now let’s see, Brittany cries when you’re not around. She draws you. You two hug each other all the time...”

“Not all the time!” retorts Santana, but she’s growing red again.

“So you’re not emotionally attached to Brittany? You know, the whole – we’re tied to each other’s emotions?”

“...no! I mean, I care about her, but not in that way!” Santana huffs. “You know what I mean! And she’s a girl, for God’s sake, that’s different!”

“Ah. Right.”

Santana shoots Tina an exasperated look just as Tina smiles innocently.


Tina meets Sugar for a routine session the following day. She decides to abandon the usual protocol sheet of standard questions and goes straight to asking about Sugar’s latest design (a mink coat with jewel studs!), her dream pair of shoes (Louboutin cream stilettos) and sunnies (Prada leopard print)...

And somehow the topic shifts to men, because Sugar wistfully adds on to her wishlist that there would be a “charming, handsome and rich fella with almond-shaped blue eyes, blond hair and a sharp chin, with muscles to carry her to Saks Avenue at New York and buy (her) a store there”.

Tina blinks. “Wow, Sugar. That’s a tough man to get hold of.”

“Of course he has to be tough,” says Sugar, patting down her fur coatie. “I need to lean on somebody.”

“I mean, not many men fit that criteria.”

Sugar stares at Tina for a minute too long and Tina feels like she has overstepped some kind of line – till Sugar sighs loudly.

“I know. None of them will be as rich as me and they will feel inferior. They will only want me for my money and looks.”

“Oh, Sugar,” says Tina, immediately. “That’s not true. You’re a lovable, sweet girl who’s definitely going to find somebody who will care for you.”

Sugar shrugs. “Asperger’s people aren’t very good at dating. I always say things that when people hear, they know immediately that I have Asperger’s.”

Tina chews on her bottom lip as Sugar continues,

“When you first came to talk to me, you talked like the others too. Everybody sees that I’m not like them, which I really, really like and really, really hate too.”

“These people either just don’t get it the way we do, or they get hurt a million times worse.” Santana’s voice echoes in Tina’s head.

Or maybe, it’s us who don’t get it the way they do.

“It’s just really confusing,” says Sugar. Although she sounds nonchalant, Tina’s pretty sure she’s anything but. “I’m being honest and they don’t like it – I definitely want my partner to be honest with me.”

“You aren’t like everyone else, that’s a fact,” says Tina, smiling. “You dress better, you speak better, you’re extremely talented...”

“And I can hold a very good conversation in fashion, care for people and make sure they look awesome,” finishes Sugar. “I also sing very, very well. I do the best renditions of ‘Big Spender’ from Sweet Charity.”

Sugar proceeds to launch into a raspy and completely off-tune rendition of the song, which Tina has to keep her face straight for. Well, the girl sure is expressive, I’ll give her that. At the end, she applauds politely and leans forward to take Sugar’s hand, startling the girl.

“Sugar,” says Tina. “I’m going to be honest and say that... you’re not a great singer.”

Sugar looks cross. “But –”

“No, listen to me. Regardless, you’re going to be an amazing young woman. I know that. Your designs are one of a kind and your mind works so quickly.” Tina squeezes Sugar’s hand. “Maybe not everybody likes what you say, but they can see for themselves how successful you’ll be.”

“How do you know I’ll be successful? Did Brittany’s time machine tell you that?” asks Sugar, slightly confused, although she puts her hand on top of Tina’s.

Tina breaks into a grin. “I’m sure you’ll be.”

That night, she calls Kurt up and they begin a conversation which mostly consists of Kurt ranting about the bitchy people in his company who can’t seem to match colors appropriately or keep ordering the wrong kind of fabric for him. Just as he is about to launch into a dramatic tear-down of his fashionably-challenged colleague, Tina sends him an email of some of Sugar’s designs that she had requested from Holly. Kurt’s loud gasp through the phone sends a thrill through her body, even though he ends the call with a clipped, “I’ll think about it.”

That night, she dreams the same dream of Artie on stage receiving a standing ovation.

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