Totally Unbetad as usual. This is hopefully the start of something interesting. Taken from an idea after listening to my Wicked soundtrack on repeat. Also, pardon my history major's joke at failed presidents. Finally, I want to make it clear I don't condone some of the language I used in this piece, one word in particular. But as boy who was called that enough, I know the effect it can have. Especially when it's true.

Title from Dancing Through Life from Wicked.

Dancing through life,
Skimming the surface,
Gliding where turf is smooth…

It was always about movement for him.

Movement was life. Everything living moved. It had a beat, a strut, a motion that it fell into and kept. His father walked slowly, purposefully. Everything was measured and metered and in control. His mother was different. Fast and energetic, almost haphazard in her tempo. Yet she always looked graceful and composed. It was interesting to watch them as they danced around each other. Partners completely mismatched in tone, but paired perfectly in stride.

It was confusing. But it affirmed his belief. Movement – no dancing – was the foundation of life.

Mike Chang was certain of it.

His parents were slightly concerned when he asked for lessons. Dance was not the activity of a boy after all. But Mike persisted. He begged and pleaded. And they relented. All a parent ever wants is for their child to be happy and healthy. So Mike started dance classes. Ballet. Ballroom. Hip-hop. He took whatever he could.



And he felt alive.

Youth passed quickly. As did his old life in town. He moved, leaving behind the ages of innocence and ignorance and Chicago to arrive in Lima. Mike came to Chester A. Arthur Middle School. He was excited. New friends, new people. A new dance. He was ready. He was so proud when he introduced himself.

"I'm Mike Chang and I dance."

And then that innocence shattered.

This was Lima. Things were black and white. And dance was for girls and fags. Like Hummel. Two things clicked for Mike that day. That dancing was not appreciated or accepted here. And that he did not want to be like this Hummel boy – whoever he was.

Peer pressure was strong. The haunting words followed him for the first weeks and months. And Mike bent to the winds, getting swept up in other physical activities that did not get him pushed into lockers. Besides, movement was movement. Each act was a dance. A dance around a point guard to the basket. A dance around a tackle. A dance around the bases. A dance though classes. A dance at not being different.

It was all movement. It was all alive. And really, that was all that mattered. That's what he told himself at least.

Woes are fleeting,

Blows are glancing,

When you're dancingthrough life...

With his new stance as the normal kid, he slid into a life in the shadows. A backup dancer. Always moving, but never really being seen. And it was ok. At least he was using his locker and not being shoved into it.

Oh he still danced. But it began to take on a style and form of its own as he danced on his own. It was singular. It was Mike's style. Nothing classical, though the steps showed up sometimes. Nothing modern either, though the bends and pops and locks appeared. His little sisters liked it. They would giggle and bounce around whenever he would practice.

Or burst spontaneously into a dance. That was his favorite. When the music is all around and the mood is just right and you can't help but start to move. Surprise dancing.


You just had to be careful where and when it happened.

Mike made a close friend in Lima quickly: Matt Rutherford. They were both in the background. People just assumed they would show up and go along. And Mike and Matt were ok with that. Sometimes. Other times, they shirked out of whatever was going on. Disappeared when the football players picked on someone. Escaped when the pint-sized eighth grade pseudo-jocks shoved someone into a locker or a garbage can or a toilet. It was a day like that, a day where they escaped, that Mike knew Matt was his best friend.

The music was blaring in his house. And Matt was still a few minutes away on his bike. So Mike burst into dance. Leaping and flying, popping and locking, starting and stopping all over the living room. He moved from couch cushion to coffee table, balancing between the two and moving to the deep hip-hop bass he found on the radio. He ignored everything around him, including the stunned look on his friends face. He only noticed when the song ended and he stood, panting with a look of surprise on his face.

He thought he'd missed a step and was doomed to looking out of lockers.

"What was that?" Matt asked, his eyes wide.

"Dancing," Mike replied, shrugging a shoulder as if it was nothing. His friend just stared for a moment, making the dancer tense even more.

"That was awesome!" he cried, a huge grin splitting his face. He tried to imitate one of Mike fluid moves, making a jerky attempt at best. He looked up and grinned again. "Can you teach me?"

And suddenly Mike was not dancing alone.

The strange thing:
Your life could end up changing
While you're dancing through!

High school came next. Another new set of buildings named after a failed president. A larger group of people and positions. A new, more complicated dance. But Mike pressed on, moving in and moving on. He flowed now, more effortlessly than ever and always in the background. A steady beating pulse with Matt by his side.

It was uneventful. There were Cheerios to flirt with and football plays to memorize and classes to keep up with and dancing to be done when no one was looking. It was like before, but with more necessity to prove yourself macho. Mike avoided that. He laughed it off. He was the goof, carving out a place that was beyond macho, different from the others.

Which was good. The insults were wearing on him. He had lots of friends back in Chicago who were different. How could he explain that to the other football players? There was no way. So he dealt with it by avoiding it. Under the radar. Around the bend. Always dancing away from the issue.

He was good at dancing after all.

He avoided the dumpster throwing. The lawn chair nailing. The pee balloons were just awful. He avoided it all. He was the goof. Too friendly to be involved in that kind of stuff. So the left him out of it. He didn't mind. It was refreshing to have time to himself. Even if Matt sometimes went with them.

That was when Mike really felt alone. When he was by himself and dancing alone. And thinking. Always thinking. And wondering. Why was everything so divided? When did it become so complicated? When did he become so…well…different? He missed the signs of change because he was thinking. Finn and Glee and music and the steady beat of something new.

And then Kurt Hummel joined the football team.

And the rhythm was thrown off and a new tempo took its place. And for the first time, Mike found himself scrambling for dance steps.