Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or "I'd Lie".
Note: It's been quite some time since I wrote anything that was Artie/Tina, so here we go. I know mostly everyone ships Tina/Mike, but I've never been a fan of the couple. I much prefer Tina with Artie, like in season one. Maybe this can be season one-centric? Well, here you have it anyway.
I couldn't really tell you what it is about Artie Abrams that I love so much. Maybe it's his cute green eyes. Maybe it's the suspenders and bowtie. Maybe it's his warm voice. It could even be his strength of character. Well, whatever it is, I love him for it.
We were on the bus on our way to Sectionals. I was sitting next to him. I felt bad that we'd had to have a fundraiser bake sale to get enough money for this wheelchair-accessible bus in the first place. Artie didn't want us to go through all that trouble for him. He'd wanted to spend the money on more handicap ramps for the school, including the auditorium. But I guess someone anonymously donated the money we needed for the ramps, and we ended up getting the bus after all.
"I'm so nervous about Sectionals," I admitted.
He took my hand. It was warm from when he had been wearing his special gloves. "Don't be," he told me. "You'll be great. We'll make it to Regionals."
"But we don't have Finn," I reminded him.
"But we have you," he smiled. I blushed; Artie was just so nice to me.
He said he'd never fall in love. I was determined to change that.
"So…have you forgiven me?" I whispered.
He frowned. "What for?"
"You know," I avoided his gaze.
"Oh," he remembered. "For faking your stutter. Tina…you don't know how much that hurt me. You chose a disability, one that you could quit anytime. I didn't choose to be in this chair, and I know I probably will never be able to get out of it. I'll never be able to do everything I want. I can't be a…well, I don't even know if I can start a family, let alone dance or swim or run or jump. Who's going to love someone stuck in a chair?" He turned away, clearly not wanting to talk anymore.
I sighed and rested my forehead against the cool class of the window. I wanted him to forgive me, so badly. I only faked the stutter because I was shy and wanted people to leave me alone. I never intended to hurt anyone, especially someone with a real, genuine disability, one that they couldn't help with glasses or hearing aids or speech therapy. I had ruined my chances with Artie.
We'd kissed. It wasn't my first, but I know it was his.
And now, he was mad at me, and the chances looked slim. I knew everything about him. Why couldn't he see that? It was a long ride to Sectionals in uncomfortable silence between me and Artie. Rachel was jabbering away about how she was going to just be so amazing and so incredible. I tried to tune her out, but it was nearly impossible. Between her bragging and Puck bragging and Quinn crying silently towards the back of the bus, the vehicle was anything but silent. But between me and Artie, there was an impenetrable wall up that I was determined to scale. I looked around at the eleven of us and Miss Pillsbury, our chaperone since Mr. Schuester had gotten in trouble and couldn't take us. I felt bad that Finn wasn't there with us and Jacob Ben-Israel was in his place, but then again, he had every right to be angry. Quinn had cheated on Finn with his best friend and gotten pregnant. On the other hand, had Finn really been so stupid to think that someone could get pregnant in a hot tub—with their bathing suit on? Either way, we seemed utterly doomed to win Sectionals, even with Mercedes set to do a power ballad.
I kind of just disappeared in the group.
I was too shy to do a solo, or otherwise too nervous.
I wasn't the best or strongest female voice in the room.
I wasn't popular like Quinn, Santana, or Brittany.
I was kind of just…me.
But Artie couldn't seem to see that.
His favorite color was green
He was born on March 17th.
His eyes came from his father.
I can remember the first time I'd ever seen Artie Abrams. It was the first day of school. He was in my homeroom, and I noticed him right away. How could I not have? He was the only kid in a wheelchair in the school that I'd seen. I can remember wondering so much about him. Did he have cerebral palsy? Was he paralyzed? Muscular dystrophy? He seemed to be intelligent and well-spoken. What had put him in the chair? An accident? Something that had gone wrong at birth? Well, whatever the reason, it hadn't changed the fact that he was very cute. I hoped he thought I was pretty, if he'd notice me, if he'd look past my black clothes and blue-streaked hair. Oh God, maybe I wasn't his type. Maybe he was already taken. Maybe he wasn't even into girls! He looked a little lonely. I could do this. I could go up to him and introduce myself.
"H…h…h…hi," I stuttered. "I'm T…T…Tina."
He smiled warmly. "Artie," he shook my hand.
I swear, it took my breath away…
Seriously, how could he not see that I loved him?
Well, despite the odds being stacked against us, we won Sectionals and were able to move on to Regionals. Artie gave me a big smile after our win was announced. I couldn't help it. His smile made me weak, every time, and I couldn't avoid it. "Look, Tina, I wanted to talk to you," he said at our celebratory party afterwards.
"I'm listening," I sat down in a chair across from him.
"I'm sorry I was such a jerk to you."
I did a double-take; why was he apologizing to me? "What? Why?"
"I shouldn't have yelled at you for faking your stutter. I guess I just feel so helpless in this chair sometimes. Look, Tina, I got really upset that week because everyone was in wheelchairs due to me. They were all trying to see what I go through, but really, nobody knows. It's hard, not being able to do the things normal kids can. Imagine being told, at age six, that you'd never be able to walk again. How would you feel?"
"Pretty terrible," I admitted. "I…I never thought of it that way."
"I just don't like everyone feeling bad for me all the time. I've learned how to get around in the world in this chair. I have tricks that work for me. It's just…it's hard to make friends from down here sometimes. That's why I'm so glad I have Glee Club."
"Because you have more than three friends in the world?" I asked quietly.
"Yes," he said. "Well, Kurt and I have known each other for years, really. See, our mothers were college roommates, so we grew up together. I can't think of a time when I didn't know Kurt. But yes, it's nice to have other people around, too. I mean, I hardly get Slushieed, and I think it's because they don't have the balls to hurt a kid in a wheelchair. Although, well, they did try to lock me in a portable bathroom once."
"What?" I gasped. "Artie, no…"
"Yeah," he shrugged. "Finn got me out of it, though. He's cool sometimes, Finn. And did you see how Quinn didn't mind being paired with me for our duets competition? I think maybe she could like me, someday."He sees everything black and white, as any analytical person does. I didn't say anything. What could I have said? I couldn't tell him that I loved him. What if he didn't feel the same, especially after I lied to him about my stutter? He seemed to like kissing me, but what if he liked me and then I messed it up by stupidly telling him the truth? God, his lips had been so warm. A little rough, but warm and inviting all the same. I'd kept this crush hidden for months now. Not even Mercedes, who'd quickly become one of my closest friends in Glee Club, knew that I liked Artie this way. No one knew, thank goodness. I don't think anyone would even really put me and Artie together. He was the nerdy kid and I was the goth girl. Hell, even I wouldn't have put us together! All I knew was that I wanted to be his girlfriend. I wanted him to know that I understood what it was like to be an outcast, a loser, on the bottom of the social totem pole.
"Tina? Are you okay?"
I snapped back to our conversation. "Yeah. I feel kind of bad for her."
"Who?" He tweaked his glasses, a nervous habit of his. "Oh, Quinn?"
I nodded. "She got pregnant at fifteen, and then got kicked out her house. Now, she's just lost her boyfriend, and I'm not sure if Puck is totally supportive of her. Is she going to even keep the baby?"
"She told me she's considering adoption," Artie said.
"Oh. Well, that's good, I guess…" Mercedes leaned over and asked me if I still loved him. I lied to her. They told us to follow our dreams. I knew what my dream was; I wanted to go into musical theatre, or maybe dance. Maybe I could be a backup dancer for a famous singer or something. I liked being in the background sometimes. I didn't mind singing backup for Rachel or Mercedes, especially for Mercedes. I liked singing in a group, where not one person's voice stood out among the rest. Sometimes the fact that Rachel got every single solo annoyed me to no end, but as long as I wasn't front and center, I was okay.
They crumpled up Artie's dream and threw it in the trash. Literally. I went back and got it for him, curious out of my own mind with what it could possibly be. I was pretty sure it would be something in the math or science career path, but Artie was always surprising me. But I didn't even think of this dream for him. I went up to him in the library and held out the piece of paper with his neat, all-caps handwriting on it. "Dancer?"
"It's a stupid dream," he muttered. "Because there's no chance in hell of it coming true."
"But it's your dream," I said. "If it's what you want, you can get it."
"Tina, I'm stuck in this chair forever," he needlessly reminded me. "I'll never be able to walk again, let alone dance. I need to focus on dreams I can make come true."
"Dance with me," I blurted out.
"What? Tina, are you…"
"Come on," I insisted. "Dance with me. We can put taps on your wheelchair; do a tap dancing routine for Glee. It will be lots of fun. Come on, just try it!"
He looked at me, at the piece of paper in my hand. "Okay."If only I could tell him the truth. It was the perfect opportunity. I chickened out. Stupid me.
I tried to help him. Really, I did. He even borrowed some forearm crutches from another student. And for a few moments, it actually worked. He was able to pull himself up out of the chair and drag himself across the floor a few steps.
But then he slipped and fell on his face.
I apologized. I tried to help him up. I offered to take him to the nurse, in case he'd seriously hurt himself.
He refused. He wanted me to just leave him there on the ground in the choir room. He didn't even want me to help him get back in the chair. I did move it closer to him…before leaving the room in tears.
"Whoa, Tina, what's wrong?" Kurt asked me in concern.
"I don't want to talk about it," I shook my head.
"Hey, hey," he grabbed my shoulders. "You're crying…what happened?"
I sniffled. "Promise you won't tell anyone?"
He looked worried. "Are you okay? You're not pregnant, too, are you?"
"No! I think I may have hurt someone, though, and I feel so bad about it…"
I think he can see through everything but my heart.
"Come on, Tee, stop moving around," Kurt demanded.
"Ugh, must it be so…pink?"
"Yes," he hissed. "See, if you just scrubbed all of this dark makeup off and maybe pulled your hair back, you could be gorgeous."
"You want to get his attention, don't you?"
I sighed. "Yes."
"Then trust me."
I huffed while he fretted over my hair and makeup. I couldn't believe I had let him talk me into giving me a makeover, but I did. He swore it would make Artie notice me. Personally, I wasn't sure that Artie was all that much into looks, but Kurt had insisted. I would've felt bad if I'd turned him down. Why not try a whole new look? "Kur-urt…"
"Here," he shoved a dress in my hands.
"Pink? Oh, no. That's where I draw the line. I am not wearing a pink dress."
"Fine," he scoffed. "How about this?"
"That's actually very pretty," I admitted. It was a soft lavender, the perfect shade of purple. It wasn't too pink. I could live with that.
"Just put it on," he shoved me towards the bathroom. I did; it fit wonderfully. I emerged. Kurt gasped. "It's a whole new you," he clapped excitedly.
"Really?" I went to look in his full-length mirror. He was right; it was like a different me. I actually looked pretty for once. I just hope Artie liked the new me, too. Now it was just time to pray for a miracle. "Tina," Artie whispered. "You look beautiful."
"Thanks," I blushed. "You look great, too."
"Aww," he tweaked his glasses. Was he nervous? What did he have to be nervous about? Why was he smiling so goofily like that? My heart started beating faster.
I knelt down next to his chair. "Artie, you know how you said you didn't think anyone could ever love you, because you're in the chair like this?"
"Yes, I recall saying that. Why?"
"Well," I looked down. "It turns out someone does."
"Really?" His eyes lit up. "Who?"
I paused, collecting myself. "Me," I murmured.
"You?" He squeaked. "Really?"
"Yes," I said, a little more clearly. "I do. Artie, when I look at you, I don't see the chair. I see the boy in the chair. The chair…it's just an accessory, like a bracelet or a favorite headband. I don't even see it after a while. I just see you, Artie, for who you are."
"Tina," he shook his head dazedly. "I've never…no one's ever…seen me like that."
"Well, I do," I straightened up. "You're amazing, Artie, and I love you for it. You're so talented, and you're cute and funny and nice. I…do I have a second chance?"
He thought about it for a moment. I tried to read the expression on his face, the look in his eyes, but I couldn't read it. "Yes," he said. "Tina, I can't believe I didn't see it before. You're the only person who's ever seen the boy behind the glasses, the kid in the chair. I can't believe I thought I had a chance with any of those cheerleaders or popular girls. You may not be the most popular girl in school, but you're not afraid to be yourself. You're beautiful and a great singer and one of the nicest people I know."
"Artie," I breathed. No boy had called me beautiful before, ever. I leaned up and kissed him. His lips were still warm and rough, like I'd remembered. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
Now, if someone asked me if I loved him, I wouldn't lie.