miggy: (Default)
miggy ([personal profile] miggy) wrote2011-08-25 11:09 am

Fic: "Special" (Chapter 1/?)

Title: Special
Character(s): Ensemble. Seriously. It covers pretty much everyone, plus some Marvel Universe characters.
Rating: R across everything, to be safe.
Word Count: 3700
Spoilers: Through S2
Full-Series Warnings: Violence, potential character death, and other elements common to comics
Summary: Being a part of something special makes you special. (Also, having superpowers.)
Notes: First off: I have decided to stick with my Corny Potter icon until my Pottermore letter arrives. :| I want to know where I will be Sorted! (Anywhere but Gryffindor, please please please.) Also, don't expect most chapter notes to be anywhere near this long.

Second, a few notes about the story setting from here on out: it's now set after the canon S2 finale. So far as everyone knows, that is their life. Canon friendships and romantic relationships are all in place. Also, although pretty nearly every major canon character is slated to show up at one point or another, it might take quite a while for some of them to do so. After all, the choir's attention will be pretty tightly focused on themselves for a while, for obvious reasons.

Third, I am bouncing around on character POV chapters for a bit to serve the plot, but will then settle into a chosen trio. I am pretty shameless in having favorites to write.

Fourth, the research described in this chapter is a real thing. Pretty interesting stuff. Science is neat! This is not going to be a major plot point; given Dream On it seemed like a safe bet that he would participate in something (with a better mindset, granted), and it was an efficient way to move the plot forward in one big leap, but it's not a focus. He's going to have plenty of other things to do.

Fifth, this chapter is relatively short. As you might expect, given what happens in this one, things really take off next week.









On the last Thursday of the school year, Artie Abrams rolled into the choir room and nearly ran into a book with his face. "...Hello," he said as he managed to stop just in time. A small photo album with a cover of the Empire State Building abruptly retreated from his vision.

"Oh," Kurt said sheepishly. "You came in faster than I expected." He cleared his throat, grandly extended his hand again, and repeated, "Here."

Artie took the book and flipped through it. He'd seen some of these photos on Facebook, but others were new. "Cool. What's this?"

"I have a new photo printer, so I made a book for everyone," Kurt said as he walked with Artie over to his chosen spot. Sure enough, the people already in their seats were flipping through albums identical except for the cover images. "I like projects."

"He likes projects," Mercedes repeated with a slight smirk. "Bet you never could have guessed."

Kurt smacked her on the arm. "I'm really not being treated fairly, considering all the work I put into those things."

"What, like typing in '12' to the printer?" Puck asked. "Harsh."

Kurt frowned at him, and then cleared his throat and said, "Well. Thirteen. I wanted my own copy." Their teacher joined them and his frown deepened. It vanished as he reached into his bag and picked out what was presumably his own copy of the album. "Here, Mr. Schue," he said almost convincingly. "I made this for you!"

As their teacher marveled over that record of their trip to New York for Nationals, Artie snickered at Kurt as he sat back down. Kurt shrugged, grinned, and mouthed that he still had his printer.

"God, my legs looked great in that dress," Santana said as she flipped through the pages. She glanced up and her expression changed in an instant. "Look who it is," she drawled. "The guys who lost us Nationals." Everyone turned to see Rachel and Finn walking in. They took in the mood waiting for them and instantly looked hangdog, and slunk to their seats with shame.

"Hey, now," Will said. He held up his hands. "I don't know if you've processed this, but two years ago this club didn't exist. And in just two competition seasons you made it to Nationals and beat dozens of the other best choirs in the country. That's not bad. That's fantastic."

"Would've been more fantastic if our fearless leaders had managed not to suck face on stage and drop us however many spots in the standings, but—"

Will raised his hands and Santana, annoyed, went back to her album. "Guys. Guys! There's next year. Don't argue. Be happy for how we did. We don't have to worry about the club being shut down, we just have to worry about doing even better. Remember: you're a team. Don't lose sight of that. You work together."

"Like the Justice League," Sam said enthusiastically. "Or the Thundercats."

"Please," Puck snorted. "We don't need to go all elementary school playground. Go for someone real. Like the Avengers. We're a team like the Avengers."

"Oh!" Kurt said excitedly and grabbed another book from his bag. "Flip to page, um... fifteen or so? With the long shot of Midtown. Look for it...." Everyone saw his target in unison and oohed and ahhed over the sight of Spider-Man swinging behind them. He was just a distant blur, and on that day he'd passed behind them without notice, but there was no mistaking who they were seeing. Artie grinned. It was one thing to drive past the old Avengers Mansion; it was another thing entirely to see an actual hero.

Kurt then tried to foist the book off on Finn. "I told you, give it to me at home," Finn grumbled as Kurt waved the album at him. Kurt kept shoving until Finn finally gave up and took it.

After snickering at their comfortable dynamic, Artie settled in for their last, pressure-free practice of the year. Lauren and Puck did a bizarre performance of Shania's "Any Man of Mine," but if Puck was down with that, then Artie supposed he shouldn't question it. Rachel sang one of those big diva Broadway songs that all sounded the same to Artie. She sounded great on it, yeah; he just thought it sounded identically great to every other song she'd mastered. When Brittany pulled out "The Song That Never Ends" they all agreed it was time to call it a day, and they split up for the last time that year.

"That song really never ends, you know," Brittany told him as they headed to the parking lot. "It's not like The NeverEnding Story."

"I hated that movie when I was little," Artie admitted as they approached his new van. It was a big step in his grand arc toward independence. "The part with the horse. It freaked me out." Brittany solemnly agreed, and for a while they talked about that creepy swamp as Artie fumbled for his keys. The lift on the side had just started to descend when he did a double take at someone hidden halfway behind a tree. "Wait, is that...?"

Brittany squinted, and then smiled and waved. "Matt! Hey, Matt! Come here!"

He realized he'd been spotted, hesitated, and then stepped out from where he'd been standing. Artie realized they were mistaken: the man there might be a doppelganger for Matt Rutherford, but only if he were advanced in age seven or eight years. Their departed classmate wasn't suddenly in his mid-twenties, obviously. "Sorry," the man said. "Who were you talking to?"

"I, uh." Artie blinked hard; the resemblance was eerie. "You just looked like someone I knew, sorry. Didn't mean to bother you."

He smiled. "No problem." Then he was gone.

A warm breeze came up and blew Artie's hair across his forehead. Brittany brushed away her bangs and cocked her head to the side. "That was weird."

"That was really weird," Artie agreed. Not only had he looked exactly like Matt, but... if he wasn't Matt, then why was some random old guy staring at their school? "I, uh, should drive you home," he finally said. "Your car's being worked on. And I live close. So I'm being a good friend and driving you home."

Brittany looked away from where that not-Matt had been. "Yeah. Thanks for driving me, Artie. It's so weird how you can drive with your hands. I mean... most people drive with their hands. They use a steering wheel. But—"

"I've got it," he laughed and wheeled toward the lift. He looked one last time at that empty tree, and then shook his head and tried to refocus. What a weird start to the summer.

* * *


"See you tomorrow," Artie told Brittany as he dropped her off at her house. She hopped out and returned the farewell as he accelerated down the road. He'd just been able to fit in the detour and he didn't want to press his luck.

Two hours later he carefully edged his way out of his van and shot a dark look at the car next to him. Of course the handicap space markings were just guidelines, he grumbled as he inched his way to freedom. It was that sort of thing, the reminder of how casually someone else could block his ability to live his life, that really annoyed him. It didn't feel like there was something wrong with him; he was a person with a handicap, not a handicapped person. Instead he felt like there was something wrong with a world that could make things hard for no reason.

He knew he shouldn't get his hopes up. He'd gone through the talks last year with Ms. Pillsbury. His life wouldn't be ruined if this didn't work, because it wasn't ruined now. He was simply a good candidate, healthy and young, and there were doctors at the Columbus hospital who were interested in this new stream of research. He was contributing to science. Science was neat. It was good to contribute. Artie had no expectations whatsoever; he was simply contributing.

His mom stood up from where she'd been resting against a bike rack. "Hey," she said and bent down to hug him. "Got a little worried."

Artie followed her through the sliding doors. "Sorry. Were you waiting long?"

"No, five or ten minutes. I just expected you to be here first."

"I gave Brittany a ride home." Artie hesitated before adding, "And we thought we saw a friend and tried to talk to him, but it was someone else." It was such an odd thing to add. Who would care about such an encounter more than thirty seconds after the moment passed? And yet he'd turned over the sight of not-Matt's face in his head all the way to Columbus.

"Well, we're still a few minutes early," she agreed as they proceeded down the hall toward the clinic they'd visited once before. The university's grant demanded they start their research period before the end of Artie's school year, and so he'd already had to make one drive in before Nationals to get poked, prodded, and assessed. They agreed that he was a great candidate, asked if he could come back starting in May, and they would begin the full regimen of treatments over the summer.

He agreed, of course. Whether or not it returned even the slightest bit of sensation, the idea that someone's paralysis had been reversed was simply fascinating. Electrical impulses applied to the spine of a man in Kentucky had stimulated his nerves, and now someone who'd used to be in a wheelchair was walking on a treadmill. If nothing else, Artie was interested in the process.

They greeted the receptionist and waited patiently in the small lobby. It was for research patients, not the general populace, and so they didn't provide the typical niceties. Artie picked up a magazine off the table and realized it was a dense medical journal. He tried to read through an article, soon gave up, and put it back. Realizing his mother was asking him something, Artie focused and managed to give an answer for his summer plans. "Just hanging out with friends, looking at schools, that sort of stuff."

"You should read those books your Uncle Gary sent," she decided.

"His old accounting textbooks?" Artie asked dubiously. "No matter how many times you say it, I don't want to be an accountant."

"They make good money," she said for the hundredth time, but let it rest. He was suddenly glad they'd driven separate cars. Otherwise, he'd get to hear all about the amazing world of CPAs the entire way back to Lima.

"Artie?" the receptionist finally called. "You can go on back."

He nodded and rolled toward the lab he'd visited for his evaluation. This would be the first session with any electricity involved, and so in theory he should be concerned about people shocking him right near his brain or his pelvis. (Both were very, very important places.) Instead, he was simply excited. He had the distinct feeling that he was on the edge of something big.

After changing into the unflattering hospital garments, he was helped onto a high exam table. His arms pillowed his head as they prodded his back, and then attached electrodes up and down his spine. He nodded occasionally at the small talk they tried to make. The weather was nice. Sure, baseball season was always fun. Yeah, they should definitely test more for mutants in the majors, after those two players had made it onto the Padres. It wasn't fair to the other guys. At least the ones who stayed off steroids, the doctor added with a chuckle, and asked everyone to stay back. "Okay, Artie. We're going to start at the base of your spine. You probably won't feel anything, but let us know if you do, okay?" He nodded, but had to be told when they were done. He hadn't felt a thing.

The impulses crawled slowly up his back to where he felt each one. He could feel his muscles spasm as each new electrode was activated. It was very cool and very definitely weird, but was low-voltage and so he didn't have anything to be concerned about.

At least, he didn't have anything to be concerned about before the top electrode fired, something in his neck felt like it was suddenly on fire, and feedback to the machines cut them out. The room lights flickered. Artie clutched his neck and nearly threw himself off the table; it was simple luck that he didn't. The pain, though intense, was short-lived. Everyone was flustered and obviously confused. Even the doctors looked scared.

"What the hell was that?" demanded Artie's mother when she'd caught her breath. "Artie, honey, are you okay?"

"Yeah," he said, wincing a bit but managing to regain his focus. "Yeah, I'm fine. That was weird, but it's over."

"I have no idea what happened," the doctors said. "It was like something shorted out, but we took X-rays and of course there was nothing on the films. Nothing should be in his neck, anyway, and...."

His mother was beyond unimpressed as she grabbed Artie's clothes for him. The doctors realized she was about to pull him from the program and immediately started working on convincing her otherwise. Artie felt ignored. It gave him plenty of time to prod the side of his neck and wonder why it felt like something had responded to the electricity from inside his body.

"I don't know what you people are doing here," his mother said as she apparently made the final decision to pull Artie from the university's tests, "but I'm not going to let you risk my son as part of it. Come on, Artie. Are you okay to drive, or do you need me to...?"

"I'm fine, geez," he said as she helped him off the table and back into his chair. "Eyes focused, pupils non-dilated... I mean, I assume." She instantly bent over to check and only stood after she'd actually pulled up his eyebrows, like that would open up his eyes that much more. Artie had a moment of flashing back to the earliest days in Glee. He and Kurt had laughingly bonded over the strict curfews and rules of overprotective parents.

"You're sure you're okay? I'll follow behind you, and if you feel dizzy at all then just pull over to the side and I can take you. Got it?"

"Got it, Mom," he promised he as he clasped her hands. "I'm good. Let's go home."

He made it home without issue, with unexpected free time before him. Some of that time was eaten up with more parental fretting, but he eventually chased them out, closed the door, and sighed heavily. He really, truly and honestly hadn't gotten his hopes up over the program's prospects. Still, being pulled out of it meant a big fat failure. Even if no real hopes had been dashed, that still sucked.

Artie rubbed his neck again, scratched it, and then let himself wonder on just what had happened. Between not-Matt and the short circuit, it was a beyond-bizarre day with tons of questions and no explanations. "They X-rayed me before we started," he mused to himself. "And they didn't see anything." He could believe that they'd accidentally left something left in him from his old childhood surgeries, but it would have to be tiny or some sort of weird, high-tech plastic to be invisible to X-rays. Or both.

Something tickled at the back of his mind. Grinning to himself, and knowing he was being an idiot, Artie wheeled to his closet and leaned forward as far as he could go. There in the back was an old metal detector he'd gotten as a kid. He hadn't used it for nearly a decade and hadn't even thought about it since freshman year. It was like his brain had just randomly decided, "Hey, Artie, what do you have in this room that could kinda-sorta mimic an X-ray? Go look in your closet!" Memory was a strange thing.

He took the detector over to his desk, pried open the base, and lifted free the actual device inside the disc. No need to have such a tiny thing inside that big container; it just made it harder to work with. He grabbed whatever seemed logical for a next step: part of his television remote, a paper clip, three thumbtacks. "I have no idea what I'm doing," Artie laughed to himself. He did know, though. It was another bit of weirdness on the top of that bizarre day. He knew that he had to connect those two wires, add in a circuit there, and jury-rig a power source. And he knew how to do it all.

The makeshift scanner beeped placidly at him when he ran it over his neck. Whatever was in there was still setting things off. He considered that, played around with his toy a little more, and checked again. Its beep was low and steady. When he held it up to a working piece of equipment—his digital watch—it beeped more intently. He somehow knew that whatever was inside him had been knocked out of commission for good.

"Wait," Artie asked himself as he stared at the out-of-nowhere invention in his hand. "What just happened?"

* * *


"Hey," Tina said when she saw him in the halls on their blessed final morning of the year. "How'd it go?"

She looked so hopeful that it broke Artie's heart a little to tell her what had taken place: the short circuit, being pulled from the program, heading home with nothing to show for two long drives over to Columbus. "And the weird thing is, I swear there's something really in there," Artie added as he held up his strange little jury-rigged scanner.

Tina raised an eyebrow at his invention. "Um. That's... something."

He moved it over his neck to demonstrate that low-level beeping. "See? It's there inside me, but it's turned off. Bend over a little, so I can show you how it'd sound if there wasn't anything to react to." He ran the scanner over her neck and jerked back when it emitted a high-pitched whine. "Or... it could think that something's in your neck, too."

"I think school's fried your brain," she said as she gathered all her books from her locker. The day of textbook check-in was upon them.

"No," Artie mumbled as he fiddled with his toy. "Just my weird neck dealie." After considering that he'd used a TV remote as part of its construction, he tried pointing it at Tina and hitting 'off.'

She jerked, clapped a hand to her neck, and shot him a disbelieving look. Her books nearly fell from her grasp. "Artie! What did you just do to me?"

"I'm not sure," Artie nearly giggled. He had no idea what he'd made or how he'd made it, but a remote-controlled friend-zapper was kind of hilarious. He closed his locker and started rolling down the hallway. Mercedes and Kurt were just around the corner; both yelped. Artie rolled on before they noticed him. Rachel just barely caught his departure and looked confused as she rubbed at her neck.

Nothing for Lauren, but that momentary failure didn't bother him. Santana, Quinn, and Brittany all jerked like they'd been hit with a cattle prod, and Santana dropped an iced coffee all over the floor. Artie choked back his laughter and hurried away. The people in the hallway around Santana clapped sarcastically; she flipped everyone off and shouted for a custodian.

Jacob, nada. Too bad, as Artie would have really enjoyed watching him squirm. The jerk components of the football and hockey teams were no better; they simply laughed and pointed at Artie's device when he tried to use it on them. He rounded another corner and came upon Finn, Mike, Puck, and Sam talking together. The first three shouted in unison and nearly doubled over when Artie clicked 'off.' Sam looked bewildered at their sudden, unified freak-out. "You guys okay?" he asked hesitantly.

"What the hell was that?" Puck wondered as he rubbed at his neck. Artie instantly threw the remote in his bag and whistled. That only drew Puck's attention, and with a distrustful expression he walked over and asked, "Artie, did you do something to us?"

"Um. Why would you ask?"

"Because you're whistling and trying really hard to not look suspicious."

"Oh," Artie said. Subterfuge was apparently not among his many talents. "I got that first zapping treatment yesterday," he settled on. "I developed super powers after exposure. Lightning Man! I'm like Thor without the goofy hair." He wiggled his fingers at Puck, who rolled his eyes and returned to his books.

He moved on, pointing at nearly everyone he saw, but never got another reaction like the ten from his friends. A loud crash behind him made Artie stop, turn, and gawk at the sight of Puck in front of his locker. He was staring at the metal wall with obvious confusion. It sounded like he'd slammed a dozen lockers at once, and the metal door actually looked very slightly dented.

"Wow," Sam said blankly as he traced his fingertips over that curve in the metal.

"Looking forward to summer break?" Finn laughed at Puck as the boy continued to look utterly bewildered at the locker in front of him. It had been a very final gesture indeed.

"I just closed it," Puck said. "Guess my hand slipped."

"Come on!" Mike said. "Last day of school!" He started backing down the hallway and leapt up to click his heels together. Even for Mike, it was an impressive display.

Artie shook his head and headed for class. He couldn't wait to get rid of his textbooks, get through the last boring day of school, and find something far more exciting to do with his life.

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