Dance Dance Revelation
I'm used to getting strange looks from people, but I have to admit this one is weirding even me out a bit.
It all started when Mr. Schue canceled Glee practice because something had come up with his wife, probably something with the divorce. So as a spur of the moment decision, I invited everyone over to my place for a jam session. I really only expected the usuals to show; Tina, Kurt, Mercedes, Rachel, and maybe Finn or Brittany. So you could say I'd been pretty surprised when everyone else actually showed as well. I mean I know the team spirit's been pretty high since we won Sectionals two weeks ago, even in spite of all the baby drama, but I hadn't honestly expected people to come. Not that I'm upset, the complete opposite really, just surprised.
We all filtered into the rec room where I keep the majority of my music as well as the instruments, and it was almost scary how easily the jocks, Cheerios, and outcasts all relaxed in and made themselves comfortable in my house. Sometimes I still have a hard time grasping the concept that regardless of jock-dom or Cheerio status, we're all still Gleeks.
For a while we just jammed out, and once we'd run our thrill in that everything just slipped into talk. Quinn came over to talk with Tina and I. Santana and Matt were sitting together on a couch. Rachel and Brittany seemed to be having a lively conversation that kept confusing them both. It looked like Kurt and Mercedes were trying to give Puck fashion advice while Mike tried really hard not to laugh.
Everything was cool and relaxed and fun. And then Finn had to go and ask the question that got everyone staring at me funny.
"Artie, are these DDR mats?"
I felt eleven pairs of eyes turn to me instantly, and that's the feeling that has me so creepd out.
"Yeah," I say slowly. "Why?"
"Your family has DDR?" Santana asks in surprise, and she sounds mildly scandalized like it's some big crime.
"Yeah, my parents bought it for me for Christmas a few years ago," I say with a shrug. There's nothing wrong with liking DDR, right? I see several people exchange looks that I don't particularly understand and I feel my cheeks turn red. "What? It's a fun game," I say defensively. "Can't a guy like a dance game?"
And suddenly I realize why everyone except Tina is giving me weird looks. I laugh. "I'm a para, guys, not a quad," I say, rolling my eyes. Quinn, Kurt and Matt seem to be the only people who understood that. "I'm paraplegic," I elaborate. "I still have hands, you know."
"You play with your hands?" Mike asks and his voice sounds torn between being impressed and just amused.
I grin. "And I can still probably school any of you," I say with a laugh.
I see a lot of smiles break out at that. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm thinking that was a challenge," Puck says and everyone murmurs their agreement. "Alright, Wheels, I'm in."
I coach them through setting up the system, mostly by telling them where everything is because Mike and Matt seem to be experts on the game set up. Once the game is loading on the big screen, Puck toes out of his shoes and turns back to look at me, raising a challenging eyebrow.
I roll my chair over toward the other mat. "Tee, can you –?"
"Way ahead of you, Artie," Tina says and appears at my side, carrying one of the couch cushions. She's played this with me before so she knows how it works. She lays the cushion down behind the mat and then helps me down out of my chair. I can feel everyone's curious eyes on me, since most of them have never actually seen me out of my chair before, but I move over until I'm laying on my stomach with my hips on the couch cushion, my arms holding my upper body up over the dance mat.
"Okay, Puckerman, you ready to get your ass handed to you?" I ask, glancing up at him and grinning.
"In your dreams," Puck replies, trying not to let it show that he's smiling too, and starts the level.
It's sort of distracting how everyone is watching me while Puck is jumping up and down on the mat beside me, but I keep my focus on the game as I let my hands pound out the patterns. In the end, I've beaten Puck by two whole letter grades.
"Holy crap, Artie," Finn says, staring at the screen and then looking at me. "You've got game."
I just shrug. "Told you so," I say, trying not to feel too pleased. "So, who's next?"
We play through several more rounds of the game, everyone else cycling through taking turns against me. For the most part I devastate everyone else's scores, although Mike comes in a really close second. Tina turns down her turn, telling them that I've crushed her at this game enough times before. Even Kurt and Rachel, who I would have thought would consider themselves above such games, take a go at it and both lose miserably. Finn nearly falls on me when he trips over his own feet.
After I've played against everyone, they finally let me take a break. I sit up, leaning against Tina for support so I don't have to climb back into my chair just to get down again, and we cycle through several more times. About three songs after I've opted out, Puck snatches a cushion off the couch as well, insisting that it must be easier to play the way I do and that's why I beat him so easily. Tina and I exchange amused glances; she thought the same thing the first time I beat her.
Only a few phrases into the song, Puck is cursing under his breath as he tries to follow along and everyone else is laughing hysterically at him, including Matt, who he was playing against. Even though Matt falls off the mat laughing three-quarters of the way into the song, Puck still barely wins.
This starts up a whole new round of games, where everyone is trying to play with their hands. No one is any better off, but we're all laughing and having so much fun that nobody cares.
The day's biggest shock comes when I look up at the end of the song and realize the highest score is on the other side of the screen. Silence falls over the room as everyone looks over at Brittany, who I was playing against. Brittany just smiles that dazed, vacant smile.
"Who won?" she asks. "Was it Rachel again?"
I blink in confusion for a second, trying to figure out where Rachel, who hasn't played in four rounds and hadn't won a single one of the ones she had played, fits into this. "Uh, no, you did," I say in surprise.
"Oh yay!" Brittany says and she leans over and pulls me into an awkward, sideways hug. "This is so much easier than with feet. I don't have to look quite as far to find the picture buttons that match the ones on the screen."
I glance up at everyone else and we all exchange looks before everyone erupts into laughter. It's at this moment that my mom sticks her head into the room to inform us that she's ordered pizza and everyone is welcome to stay for dinner. To my further surprise, everyone agrees.
It's dark outside by the time people finally start leaving. Everyone keeps telling me how much fun they had and that we need to do it again soon. As Puck's getting ready to leave, he comes over and says, "Next time, I will beat you, Abrams."
"That sounds like a challenge," I reply, grinning. "Alright, Puckerman, you're on." I hold out a hand and Puck grabs it, laughing.
"Catch you later, Artie," he says and then walks out the door before the fact that he actually just called me by my name sinks in. After everyone has gone my mom makes some comment about it being good to see me making so many friends and being so happy. I just smile and nod before turning in for the night. My arms are sore as hell, and so is my stomach from laughing so much.
"I'm so sorry guys, this is the last time, I promise," Mr. Schue says, looking extremely embarrassed. "We'll do a double rehearsal Thursday to make up for it."
There are various murmurs of, "No problem, Mr. S," and "It's cool, see you then." Mr. Schuester thanks us and apologizes one last time before leaving the choir room.
"Another afternoon to kill," Kurt says a bit wistfully as we all sit around in the room, none of us really getting up to leave yet. It's been over a week since the last time Mr. Schue canceled practice, and I know we're all thinking the same thing. We don't want to have to cancel practice. Because weirdly enough, we all like spending our afternoons together. It's the only place where no one is discriminated against, and there aren't all of the expectations that come with being high schoolers. None of the jocks or Cheerios will admit it, but they like it just as much as those of us on the bottom of the chain.
"Great, now I gotta go home and actually do my homework," Finn says wearily, dragging a few laughs from everyone.
I pull my lip between my teeth, thinking fast, and I see a few pairs of eyes flick to me. I can guess what they're waiting for, and it makes me smile. "Well you don't necessarily have to go home," I offer vaguely.
All at once, Puck, Matt, Mercedes, and Brittany all jump up and yell the same thing.
"Dance party at Artie's house!"
AN: So after I got the idea for this story, I decided to play a few songs and see how you would actually play DDR with your hands. I'm really good at it normally, and just like Puck, I figured it would be easier. Oh hella no, it was so frickin' hard. It's so complicated keeping your body balanced and I face-planted on the mat trying to jump too quickly between arrows several times. Not to mention you have to lean out way far over the mat so you can get enough body weight going to make the buttons register when you push them, lol. If any of you are DDR players, you guys should try playing like this, it's complicated but super duper fun. :D