The Day That Everything Changed

Glee: The Day That Everything Changed (Shooting Star):
– Adapted by WildeAbrams
@ WildeAbrams on Twitter
Synopsis: When a gunshot is heard at McKinley, everyone is shaken to the core, and things will never be the same again for anyone, especially Kitty Wilde.
Author’s Notes: Like Passion is Wonder-ful, this story was originally written to become a chapter in my multi part story The Ballad of Kitty and Artie. However at the rate that story is going it will be months before I get to publishing this chapter. I’ve been sitting on it for months already because it’s one of the first chapters I wrote since it’s so vital to Kitty’s character development. I’ve referred to it multiple times in other stories, and shared early drafts with a few friends, but I consider it some of my best work. It feels like such a shame to not let the rest of you read it, so I am cleaning it up a little and publishing it as a one shot story. When I get to the episode Shooting Star, I will publish a version with some changes and additions to make it different enough to be interesting and integrate better with the rest of the story. Thanks again to Holly (MyGoldStar) for giving this the beta treatment!
# # # # #
The glee club was rehearsing in the auditorium when Mr. Schue held up an envelope. Kitty pulled up a chair next to Unique and Artie.

“I hold in my hand, ladies and gentlemen,” he told them, “our competition for Regionals.”
The group cheered and applauded.
“Drumroll please,” he said. They began to slap their thighs imitating a drumroll. “From… North Central High School in Indianapolis – The Hoosierdaddies.”
“That’s very clever,” Kitty said, sarcastically.
“And from Our Lady of Perpetual Loneliness in Battle Creek, Michigan – the Nun-Touchables.”
“Wait,” Blaine said, confused, ” is that a convent?”
“Now guys,” Mr. Schue told the group. “I like our chances against both of these squads, but we still got a lot of work to do-”
Out of nowhere Brittany’s face went blank and she rose to her feet and went to stand next to Mr. Schue.
“Mr. Schue, please stop talking. I have an announcement to make. I regret to inform you a deadly asteroid is headed our way.”
Everyone sat there and stared at her for a moment until Blaine broke the silence, “Wait. Didn’t we just go through this at Christmas? ”
“Yeah,” Tina added, “and is it true that you and Sam got married? Did that happen?”
“Shut up, Tina,” Brittany retorted. “I’m naming this comet Tubbington-Bopp, and it is heading straight for Lima.”
“Wait. So is it an asteroid or a comet?” Artie wanted to know.
“It’s both.”
“Wouldn’t NASA know something about this?” Marley asked.
“We can’t trust NASA,” Brittany warned them. “I mean last month a meteor exactly like Tubbington-Bopp hit Russia with no warning at all.”
“Oh, so now it’s a meteor?” Artie asked, confused. They were all used to this kind of eccentric behavior from Brittany, but they really didn’t have the time for it now.
“That’s right Artie. And when the meteorite hits, I will not be spending my time in this room preparing for Regionals. I will be spending my last hours making amends with somebody I need to get right with. Somebody who I love very much. ” Everyone in the room glanced at Sam, but Brittany said, “Lord Tubbington.”
“So go back to your homes and hide your wife. Hide your kids and hide your wife. McKinley High, I salute you.” And with that she walked out leaving everyone else confused.
# # # # #
Later that afternoon everyone was hanging out in the choir room.
“I’m surprised that Jesus Christ Superstar has chosen to end the world this way instead of the way he killed the dinosaurs – with a global yeast infection.” Brittany told Marley and Jake.
“So you think God will let me be a girl angel in Heaven?” Unique wanted to know.
“Wait,” Sam asked, “there are girl and boy angles? Does that mean they can have angel sex?”
Brittany took him by the shoulder and led him to a chair so rehearsal can start.
“Alright,” Mr. Schue said, entering the room.
He walked over and sat in a middle row chair right in front of Kitty “Who’s worried about Brittany’s meteor-asteroid-comet prediction?” Sam and Unique were the only ones who raised their hands.
“Okay,” he continued. “Well, here’s how I see it. There are two possible outcomes. First, the meteor misses us, and we go to regionals and kick butt, which will only happen if we prepare.
“Or… We only have a few days to live. And if that’s the case…we need to say everything we need to say to the people we love. I can tell you from those couple weeks where I couldn’t talk to Emma, that there is nothing worse than unfinished business with the one you love. And meteor or no meteor any moment you have with those people is precious and might be your last one.”
He slapped his thighs, rose to his feet and said, “Bruce Springsteen always says that he plays every show as if it’s his last. And that is the kind of urgency we need at regionals this year.” He walked over to the white board. “So this week we’re either gonna sing our last songs to each other, OR get in touch with what it feels to do that.”
He wrote “Last Chance” on the board.
The bell rang and he finished with, “Okay everyone, let’s make the most of it.”
# # # # #
On the way out Kitty heard Ryder tell Jake that he’d seen his online girlfriend Katie, and he convinced Brad & the band to help him serenade her with a sappy Elton John song, but it turned out that someone else had taken this girl’s pic and created a fake online profile to catfish him. He accused Jake and Marley, who both denied it. Kitty rolled her eyes.
# # # # #
Brittany wanted to get right with her cat Lord Tubbington, who she said did not believe her when she told him she loved him. So, at Sam’s suggestion and to give her peace of mind the glee club members agreed to sing the song “More Than Words.” The auditorium was dark except for the candles each glee club member held, lighting them from a main candle as they sang. Sam played guitar and sang while Brittany and the rest of the group harmonized and sang along. Kitty thought to herself that it was corny, but smiled nonetheless throughout the performance.
# # # # #
The following day Brittany determined that Tubbington-Bopp wasn’t a meteor at all but rather a dead ladybug at the end of her telescope, which wasn’t a telescope at all. It was a Pringles can. So, Mr. Schue invited Coach Beiste to glee club. Apparently something upsetting had happened between them.

As she entered the room he said, “We wanted you to join us for our first annual, ‘Thank God the World isn’t Ending’ glee practice.”
“It’s where I can throw Junior Mints at Marley,” Kitty said as she walked in, “without feeling bad about it again.”
“Sit down,” He told Kitty and she did next to Artie, and pulled Beiste over and convinced her to stay even though she really didn’t seem to want to. Kitty was about to ask him what was going on when Beiste reluctantly agreed to stay and Mr. Schue turned to face the group and said, “Let’s get started,” and clapped at the same time as a loud gunshot went off.
Kitty saw Artie’s eyes bug out in surprise and they heard the sound of a girl scream and running footsteps.
Everyone froze for several moments until a second gunshot was heard.

“Oh my God!” someone said.
Mr. Schue, Jake, and Beiste all burst into action.
“Everyone just spread out and hide. Spread out and hide,” Mr. Schue instructed.
Kitty saw Jake take Marley’s hand and lead her to a corner.
“Find a place to hide,” Schue instructed. “Kitty go over there.” She began to follow Artie, but he redirected her to a spot a few feet away, “No over there.” She was so shocked she didn’t even argue with him.
Schue closed and locked the door and Beiste turned off the lights and lowered the window shades. Blaine helped Artie out of his chair onto the floor and then moved the piano over by the door.
Everyone found places on the floor along the wall out of sight. Kitty saw Artie on the floor from her position a few feet away. She had never been so scared in her life, and she could see the fear in his eyes too. At least she could still see him.
Screaming students ran down the halls.
A door slammed.
On the choir room floor a metronome kept a steady beat as everyone sat quietly in fear.
“Are we even sure those are gun shots?” Blaine asked, breaking the silence.
The metronome kept steadily ticking on.
Kitty heard a sob and looked up to see Marley and Jake on either side of her.
“Everyone — Here.” Mr. Schue said. “Hey, guys. Guys, guys. Start texting, tweeting. Let everyone know what’s going on. But don’t tell them where we are. Shooters have smartphones too. We’re just gonna stay here until the police arrive, okay. We’ve got nowhere to be, and we don’t know what’s out there.”
She heard Beiste tell someone it was okay as she took out her phone and began texting her mom.
A door thudded.
Someone shushed.
She had never been so terrified in her life. She thought about whom else she should text, and could only think of Puck. As she began to think about the last few months and realized that her only real friends in the world are with her in this glee club, and they could all die today and not know how much they meant to her. She looked over at Artie’s frozen form.
Someone’s phone buzzed.
Someone shushed.

She heard Mr. Schue’s panting voice say, “I love you guys.”
Over her shoulder she heard Marley sob again.
Someone ran down the hallway and tried to get through the locked door.
Kitty held her breath for what seemed like an eternity until the person gave up and ran off to try another door.
Another door slammed and everyone jumped.
“It’s okay,” Coach Beiste reassured.
Marley began to sob louder.
“It’s okay,” Jake reassured her, placing a hand on she and Kitty’s shoulders for comfort.
Kitty felt panic built inside of her. One of these people who approached might be a shooter, and she wasn’t going to die letting her fellow glee club members think she didn’t care about them.
She was vaguely aware of Mr. Schue and Coach Bieste talking to, and struggling with Sam, moving him over next to Artie who put his hand on his friends arm in comfort. He was worried about Brittney. Blaine pointed out that Tina wasn’t there either.
So there was a chance that if they died they would all not die, Kitty though. She sniffled and began to take some comfort in that, and was about to text Tina and Brittany when she heard Marley whimper again.
“Who are you texting?” She asked.
Markey sniffled and answered, “It’s my mom. There’s no back way out when you’re in the kitchen.” She sobbed.
“It’s okay,” Jake continued reassuring her, “it’s okay.”
“Where is she?! I don’t know why she’s not answering!”
“No one’s going to hurt your mom,” Kitty faced her, reassured her. “She’ll be okay” Marley continued to sob. “Everyone likes her.”
She sat there for a few more moments and decided she needed to get some things off of her chest while she still could.
“Marley,” she began.
Marley looked up from her phone to face her.
“When we were doing “Grease”, I took in all of your costumes so that you’d think you were fat.”
Marley sniffled.
“I’m so sorry,” Kitty sobbed. They embraced. “I’m so, sorry” the two girls held each other close, comforting each other, sobbing.
The metronome kept on ticking.
After a few more moments, she told Marley, “I have to go.” There was someone else she needed to make peace with.
“Where are you going?” A still sobbing Marley asked.
“-I have to-”
“No, are you crazy?” Jake asked.
“Shh,” Mr Schue said.
“Stay down!” Jake told her.
“Yes!” Kitty answered.
“Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,” Jake called out as she crawled across the room.
She headed straight for the corner that Ryder and Unique were huddling in.

“Get down,” Ryder told her as he put his hand on her shoulder and eased her down to the floor where she immediately took Unique into her arms. He kneeled behind them protecting them.
“I’ve been such a witch to you,” she told Unique. “I’m so sorry!”
The metronome continued to tick.
Ryder began to move away. Kitty looked over her shoulder. She gasped.
“Later Wade,” Ryder said and turned away.
“Ryder, what are you doing?” Kitty asked.
“Get down!” Beiste told him.
“Ryder, what are you doing?” Jake wanted to know.
He crawled over to the other side of the room between Artie and Marley.
# # # # #
Artie had never been so scared in his entire life. It had all happened so fast. The gunshots. Blaine helping him out of his chair onto the floor. The struggle with and argument with Sam who ended up next to him. And what the heck was Kitty doing? He was so scared and didn’t know what else to do to distract himself, so he decided to do what he did best.
Artie pulled out his cell phone and began recording a video, because someone should know what happened there.
“Artie, what are you doing?” Sam wanted to know.
“If we don’t get out of here, people need to see this,” he told them. “Does anyone have anything they want to say?”
“Yeah, me,” Ryder said. Artie turned the camera to face him. “I love you dad. Thanks for, like, everything. And I know I don’t always let you know, but you’ve taught me a lot.” He sighed.
“Me next,” Marley sniffled, “there’s a fake bottom … to my desk drawer.” Sniffles “If you look under it, um… There’s a journal with a bunch of songs that I wrote. I’ve never told anyone, but I’m really proud of them.” Jake placed his hand on her back in comfort.
He signed and said, “Uh- mom, Puck, I love you guys.”
“You guys turn it off.” Beiste instructed. But Artie ignored her. He was determined to record what might be he and his friends’ last moments together and messages to their families.
He hadn’t noticed that Kitty and Unique had crawled across the floor to join the rest of them and take their turns.
“Mom, Dad, I love you guys, and there is a cat in my backpack in my locker. Please feed her for me,” Sam said into the camera.
“To anyone that ever watches this, never stop being yourself,” Unique said into the camera.
And then it was Kitty’s turn. “Hi, Mom and Dad. I just wanted you to know, “she sniffled, “that I love you. And that this has been the best year of my life. Even though maybe it didn’t seem like it.” Kitty said into the camera.
Finally Artie turned the phone camera to face himself. “I just wanted to say that… I’ve had the best experience of my life in this room…and that I love these people more than anything,” He said.
“Please turn it off.” Sam plead.

“Sam,” Artie whispered. Sam knocked the phone out of his hand.
# # # # #
Kitty was watching Artie finish filming the group testimonials when she heard a phone begin to ring in someone’s bag. People kept telling Ryder to hang up on whoever it was. Apparently in the commotion he had crawled across the room and retrieved his phone and was calling somebody.
Finally he did as they wanted, but reluctantly.
Moments later the door open and Mr. Schue followed by Brittney and several other students entered. With everything that was going on Kitty hadn’t even noticed he’d left. Several people hugged them.
A few minutes later they heard a SWAT team member’s voiced call all clear.
Someone turned the lights on and it was all over. Several sighs and more calls of all clear were heard.
Kitty and Unique rose to their feet. Kitty took Unique’s hand and they walked over to join the rest of the group. On the way she hugged Brittany. Everyone was hugging each other. With the lights on she could see that everyone had red tear stained faces.
Beiste helped Artie into his chair and several people including Brittney and Kitty lined up to hug him.
Marley was still crying. Kitty put her arms around both Marley and Unique.
Marley’s phone finally went off. It was her mom. She was okay.
“Come here everyone,” Mr. Schue called out.

“Come here,” Beiste called out.

Everyone was pulled into group hug and held it for several minutes.
“I love you all,” Mr Schue said. “I love you guys, every one of you. You guys are awesome.”
Finally he broke away and went to silence the metronome.
It was over.
# # # # #
Kitty left the choir room in a daze. Her face still puffy and red from the tears she had shed.
She saw all of the couples in the group (Sam and Brittany, Jake and Marley) holding each other and felt a wave of jealousy. Sometimes it sucked having a boyfriend who had already graduated. They weren’t particularly close, but still he was capable of giving her some of the comfort she needed right now.

She pulled out her phone and texted him:
Kitty: I need to see you tonight
Puck: sorry babe, already got plans!
Kitty: what do you mean you’ve got plans? Haven’t you been watching the news? I need to see my boyfriend tonight!
Puck: yeah, about that…. I don’t think this relationship is going to work for me anymore. I’m going to live at The University of Lima with Finn and don’t want anything holding me down.
Kitty: you’re breaking up with me?
Kitty: and you’re going to college?
Puck: no, college is for suckers! I’m just going to live there with Finn.
Puck: but yeah, I know the timing sucks, but I’m breaking up with you. I think we both know you’re not gonna put out for me, and this sex shark is tired of being caged!
Kitty: I can’t believe it!
Puck: Kitty, it’s not as if we are really dating. You only asked me out to have a distraction from Jake, so this shouldn’t be exactly that surprising.
Kitty: but I need my boyfriend… Please
Puck: well now you’re free to find one your own age. I’m not exactly the aid and comfort kind of guy anyway.
Puck: some chick is looking for the keg, got to go
Kitty: Puck!

But it was no use. He stopped responding.
She stopped, leaned her back against the lockers in the halls near the exit and closed her eyes. If she had any tears left she would be shedding them now. She had known all along that they weren’t compatible long term, but could not believe he was choosing this time to break up with her… And via text message nonetheless. She began to zone out and wasn’t sure how long it had been when she heard a voice.
“Kitty, are you okay?”
She opened her eyes and saw Artie looking up at her, concerned.
“Yeah, just needed to clear my head for a second.”
“Okay, but you were quiet for quite a while there.” He seemed genuinely concerned.
“Yeah,” she responded. “It’s just been an overwhelming day, you know.”
“Yeah for all of us. I think it’s gonna be a while before any of us feel quite right, again.” He paused for a moment, and then added, “Okay, I know you’re kind of a private person, but if you decide that you need someone to talk to, let me know.”
There was a time when she would have stopped and said something snarky. She wasn’t sure if it was because she could see the genuine concern in his eyes or the complete physical and mental fatigue, but she responded, “I will thanks.” She gave him a fake smile. “I’ve got to go.”
She turned and walked off down the hall, out of the building past the other students, some family members, and faculty as well as the media and the police. When she got to the parking lot she found her car, she got in and sat down. She caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror. She looked terrible. Normally, she would have taken the time to fix her makeup, but instead she sighed and started the engine.
Kitty drove home and when she got there both of her parents gave her a big hug. “We saw what happened on the news. We’re so glad you weren’t hurt. We love you sweetie,” her mom said.
“I love you too,” she told them. “More than you probably know.”
“Are you alright?” Her dad asked.
“No,” she told him. She hugged them closer. “I really don’t think that I am.”
They lead her inside to the couch and each sat down on either side of her, their arms around her shoulders. Her mom kissed her on the cheek.
Kitty faked a smile. She needed this.
They just sat there for over an hour, just holding her, and she felt so loved, a feeling she rarely experienced.
“I love you both so much. I’ve never felt so scared in my life,” she told them, breaking the silence. “When I sat, huddled in that choir room, all I could think about were the regrets that I had and the fact that I could die, and the people I loved might not know how much I loved them, or even that I cared. Some of my friends might not have not even have known how important they are to me.”
“We’ll the important part is that no one was hurt, and you’re all okay.” Her Dad said.
She looked at him with a look of shock on her face.
“Dad,” she told him. “No one may have been physically hurt, but we are not okay! Someone brought a gun to school, and we don’t know who or why. How can we ever feel safe there again?”
He removed his arm from her shoulder.
“Don’t worry, sweetie, the authorities will get to the bottom of this. Whoever is responsible will be caught and punished-”
“-But what about next time?” She asked. “If it happened once, it could happen again!”
“I’m sure the authorities will take the necessary steps to keep that from happening-”
“-but you can’t know that!”
Her mom removed her arm as well, and turned to face her daughter. She took Kitty’s chin in her hand and tilted her face so they were looking eye to eye. “Honey, there are very few things in life that are certainties. But we have to trust-”
“Trust?” She asks in disbelief. “Trust is earned, and once lost is very hard to give back again.”

Kitty rose to her feet. She could not believe she was hearing this!
Just moments ago she had felt so close to them, so safe and loved, and now this. But, she thought she probably shouldn’t be so surprised. These were the same parents who had discouraged her from making and trusting real friends in the first place.
She turned and walked down the hallway to her room. She grabbed a change of clothing and headed for the bathroom. She looked at herself in the mirror. She looked terrible. She slowly began to strip out of her school clothing and tossed it in the hamper. She turned on the hot water and stepped into the shower.
She stood there and let the steam and water wash away the grime of her day. She closed her eyes and began thinking about her life the last year or so.
She had so many regrets about how she had treated people. She had tried to possess Jake, just berceuse she needed a hot trophy boyfriend. She barely even knew him, but his bad-ass attitude seemed to fit with her image. Marley had been unfortunate enough to remind her of her former, more idealistic self. Adding to that, Jake clearly liked her better, and it was enough to send her over the edge. She had bullied and manipulated the poor girl into developing an eating disorder, and she could have been seriously hurt. She was cruel and bullied Wade “Unique” Adams simply because she was different and something Kitty didn’t understand fully. She wasn’t even sure why she was so mean to Ryder and Tina; probably because of how they dared to call her on her crap. Ryder had once called her a bitch and she had to admit that he was right. For once she was ashamed of the title instead of proud of it.
While she was upset with Puck for dumping her, she had to admit that she deserved it. She had used him initially just to make Jake jealous (something that she wasn’t even sure had worked) and to help her image at school. Popular girls were expected to have boyfriends, and since her choice of one at school had publicly rejected her, the next best thing was a hot older guy. She genuinely enjoyed spending time with him, but knew there was no long term potential there. She kept him on the hook with the promise of sex after prom (a promise she fully intended to find an excuse to not follow through on), and she really didn’t blame him for dumping her.
She hadn’t let the other people in her life who meant the most to her know how much they meant to her. Her parents, despite how clueless they could be sometimes were the most important people in her life. Finn and Mr. Schue had believed in her and allowed her to be in glee club even though it was an unpopular choice among many of the other glee club members. Artie was the first member of glee to befriend her, had never been anything but nice to her, and despite that she had pushed him away and made mean comments toward him. Much the same could be said to a lesser degree about most of the rest of the glee club members and some of the other members of the Cheerios.

For that she felt ashamed.
And she or any of them could have died today without knowing how grateful or sorry she was.
The formerly hot water was turning cool, and Kitty sighed and turned it off. She stepped out of the shower and began to towel herself off. After wrapping a bath towel around her body, she wiped the steam off the mirror and saw that she looked much better. She ran a comb through her hair and then slipped on a pair of panties, a bra, sweats, and a t-shirt after drying herself off.
Dinner that evening was fairly quiet with only routine mealtime conversation. After dinner she retired to her bedroom for the night.
She turned the TV on and saw news coverage of the shooting and saw that they still had no suspects and that no one had apparently been physically hurt…
After seeing that there was nothing else on that interested her, and could keep her mind off of things, she turned it off and was alone with her thoughts which returned to her regrets.
After a few minutes, she grabbed her phone and began texting people. She sent off messages to half a dozen friends, only some of whom responded. Most of the people who texted her back apologized and were spending time with their families or significant others.
Unique had responded fairly quickly and after a few messages, the two of them switched to talking on the phone. Kitty once again apologized for treating her as badly as she had and the two of them had a long talk. Kitty admitted that the reason she treated Unique the way she did was because she didn’t understand her, and Unique admitted that she did not understand it herself. She was living in a physically male body but didn’t identify herself that way. It was more than simply being attracted to guys. She felt female and was completely uncomfortable in places like the men’s locker and bathrooms, and in men’s clothing.

She intended to undergo a gender reassignment surgery after she turned 18 and could raise that money. In the meantime she was trying to convince her parents to get her birth control pills because they would help enhance her bust and help her blend in more with the other girls. Kitty told her that she could probably help her with that.
“You’re on birth control?”
“No,” she told her, “but I’m a high school cheerleader and have connections.”
By the time she got off the phone with Unique it was almost 2 am and she hadn’t heard back from Marley or Jake in hours or Artie at all, and she figured they were asleep, so she figured it would be a good idea to get some sleep herself. It had been on the news earlier that classes at McKinley were cancelled the next day while police investigated what had happened, but would resume on Thursday.

Unfortunately she didn’t have very much luck sleeping. Her mind was going a mile a minute and kept filling with thoughts. The one time she started to doze off around 6 am, she awoke only a few minutes later from a nightmare, and was never able to get back to sleep after that. By about 7 am she gave up and decided to get up.
Her parents were both up and getting ready for work.
“How did you sleep?” Her dad wanted to know as she was pouring herself a glass of juice.
“I didn’t,” she told him flatly. “I just couldn’t stand to lie in bed anymore.”
He couldn’t think of anything to say so he told her to have a good day and left for work.
“Are you going to be okay alone today sweetie?” Her mom told her. “If you need me to take a personal day I can.”
Kitty was surprised by this, but after thinking about it for a second she responded, “No, mom, that’s okay. There isn’t really anything you can do for me.” Only her friends who had shared the experience could, but what she said was, “I just need to clear my head.”
“Okay sweetie, take care of yourself.”
Kitty nodded and watched her mom leave.
She briefly thought about what to make for breakfast but decided that she didn’t have an appetite anymore.
After another hour she decided that she could not stand sitting around the house anymore. She got dressed, grabbed her purse and headed for her car. She opened the windows to let some fresh air in.
She turned the key, put the car in gear, and began to drive. She drove around for about a half an hour with no specific destination in mind. She was mildly surprised when she ended up in front of the Abrams house. She had given Artie a ride home from late Glee rehearsals a couple times so she knew where he lived.
She stopped and thought for a moment about whether she should knock on his door. He was single at the moment, as far as she knew, and his best friend Tina had been attached at the hip to Blaine for the last six months or so, and Sam was dating Brittany, so it was highly unlikely that he had any really close friends to talk to.
She took a deep breath and got out of the car. She walked up to his front door and seemed to get there faster than she expected. She hesitated for a moment before ringing the doorbell, her heart beating a mile a minute.
He still hadn’t responded to her texts from the previous night. What if he was busy? What if showing up on his doorstep like this was considered rude? What if?-
The door open and Artie sat there in his chair smiling at her.
“I’m sorry; I should have called first.” She stammered and started to turn away.
“Wait!” He said. She froze. “Please come in. I’m glad to see you.”
She slowly turned around and followed him into the house, and waited as he closed the door.
“I’m actually glad for the company,” he told her as he led her into the living room. “My mom wanted to take the day off to be with me today, but she wasn’t there so she really couldn’t understand, and I got as much ‘motherly comfort’ as I could stand last night.”
Kitty smiled at that. “Yeah, my mom wanted to do the same thing. But last night made it painfully apparent that she and dad could never understand.”
“Can I get you something to drink?” He offered.
She shook her head.
“How did you sleep?” He asked.

“I didn’t,” she told him flatly.
“I didn’t do much better,” he told her.
“I was on the phone until about 2am and then tossed and turned the rest of the night.” She told him. “I finally nodded off, but was awoken by a nightmare. After that I gave up.”
She had no idea why she was so openly talking to him like this. Before yesterday that would have been out of character for her, but now she felt this compulsion to share things with her friends. And yes, she had to admit that she considered Artie to be her friend.
“I’m going on maybe 2 hours myself,” he told her.
He stopped in front of the couch and transferred himself from his wheelchair onto the nice puffy cushion and gestured for her to join him which she did, sitting closer to him than she normally would have.
To her surprise she felt him put his arm around her and drew her closer. “You look like you need a hug,” he told her.
She put hers around him as well and said, “You have no idea.” They both squeezed and patted each other’s shoulders and arms.
They both stayed in that position holding each other for several minutes of silence.
“Do you know what you’re gonna do with the video you shot?” She asked casually, breaking the silence.
“I have no idea,” he told her. “Sam broke the screen on my phone when he knocked it out of my hand, and I haven’t actually been able to get myself to watch it. I suppose I will do something with it eventually.”
That explained why he hadn’t responded to her texts the night before.
“You should,” she told him. “People should know what happened.”
After a few moments of silence, he asked hesitantly, “Did you mean what you said?”
“About it being the best year of my life? Yeah -in spite of my God awful part in Grease.”
They both chuckled, lightening the mood just a tad.
“Does that surprise you?”
“Yeah actually,” he responded.
“There are lots of things about my past that nobody knows about,” she told him. “But suffice it to say, I had a pretty traumatic childhood, and it’s been years since I’ve had real friends that I could trust.”
“Are we friends?” he asked, cautiously. “I’ve always been a little fuzzy on that.”
“Yeah we’re friends,” She admitted. What she was thinking, but didn’t say out loud was that he was probably the closest thing to a best friend she had. How sad was that?
“I was so scared, Artie,” she told him. “I thought some of us were gonna die and I would never have the opportunity to tell people how much they meant to me, or how sorry I am for how I treated them.” Tears began to flow again, and he used his finger to wipe them away.
“We were all scared Kitty. But I took comfort in the fact that if those were going to be my final minutes; I was spending them with the group of people who meant the most to me.
“That includes you. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge, and I always knew you had a sensitive side, once you got past that icy exterior.”
She sniffled and laid her head on his shoulder.
“Thank you.”
They sat there in silence, and ten minutes later she was asleep.
# # # # #
Artie sat there in silence considering the girl with her head on his shoulder as she slept. She was really exhausted. He smiled, turned to kiss her forehead, and decided to let her sleep.
She bore little resemblance to the girl he had met the previous fall. Initially he’d hoped that after they won nationals the previous spring and were popular that they could be friends, but before too long he began to see that there was a side of her that he didn’t like very much. One that was mean and cruel and prejudice, but he also suspected that there was a different side of her.
He began to see that he was right when she joined glee club. Over time he began to see hints of a nicer, softer side, but they were few and far between and disappeared as fast as they appeared. It never lasted that long and as soon as she sensed that someone seemed to notice she was quick to lash out and push them away.
But recently he had seen this happen less and less, and she had really seemed to embrace the joy of glee club just as long as other people didn’t make a point of noticing; or at times that it was just the two of them.
For whatever reason, she seemed intent on keeping the bad girl with an attitude image, at least around others. Glancing at her he wondered if this was a sign of change coming.
He sat there with her for several hours. He found the raising and lowering or her body against his as she slept soothing. She seemed more at peace than he had ever seen her.
Finally Kitty began to stir.
“Mmmm… I’m sorry I called you gimpy…” She said, half awake.
“Last fall when the glee club decided they weren’t gonna be in my crew anymore, I called you gimpy, just before Phil and Bobby slushied Marley and Unique… I’m sorry.”
It took a moment to recall that memory; it seemed like a lifetime ago.
“You’ve never been anything but good to me, and I’ve been rude and insulted you, and pushed you away.”
“It’s okay, Kitty, I forgive you.” He said.
“Yeah,” he told her. What good did it do to hold a grudge? Besides, she had changed a lot since last fall.
He squeezed her shoulder to emphasize his point.
She smiled.
# # # # #

Kitty felt so comfortable and at peace in Artie’s arms as she awoke. She’d never felt that before with anyone besides her parents. Even Julie, with whom she had been very close, had never had that kind of relationship with her. She knew that she couldn’t stay here forever even though she might want to, but unfortunately the orange juice she she’d had that morning was catching up with her.
“Can I use your bathroom?” She asked.
“Of course,” he told her, “it’s right down the hall on the left.” He pointed in the right direction, but didn’t make a move to switch back to his chair. Hopefully that meant that he would still be on the couch and she’d be able to return to that comforting spot when she got back.
As she entered the bathroom she took a moment to look around. She had never seen a handicapped bathroom in a home before, and had only used the handicapped stalls at school a handful of times. She told herself that it was because she wanted to make sure that they were available to those who needed them, but truthfully it was because she’d been uncomfortable.
That wasn’t that case here. As she looked around it was obvious that this room was significantly modified specifically for his use. The room was bigger than normal to accommodate his wheelchair. The sink was lower to the floor so he could reach it while sitting. Shelves, towel racks, everything was lower. There were special railings several places on the wall to help him move around. There was one of those special tub/showers with a door on the side and a place to sit that she’d seen advertised on TV. The toilet had special arm braces on either side to help him transfer in and out of his wheelchair and raise and lowers himself.
She should have felt uncomfortable here, but she actually felt very comfortable as she sat there and relieved herself. Probably because it was something so personal of his. She finished her business, took a moment to snoop in the cabinets and medicine cabinet before washing her hands and re-joining him in the living room.

To her joy he was still sitting in his spot on the couch when she returned to the living room. She walked over and sat down next to him again. He once again put his arm around her shoulder and she felt that feeling of contentment again. She could get use to this.
“I hope that experience wasn’t too terrible for you,” he asked. “Next time you can use the one upstairs, if you want.”
“The bathroom,” he answered. “I know a handicapped bathrooms tend to make people uncomfortable.”
She was surprised to hear him say this out loud. “Really?”
“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking. Pretty much every friend I’ve brought her has been uncomfortable at least the first time. Sugar especially.”
She felt a pain of jealousy at the mention of their fellow glee club member, and Artie’s sometime date. The girl just bugged Kitty.
“I really don’t get what you see in that girl,” Kitty told him. “She’s so shallow, and that’s saying something coming from me.”
“She’d gorgeous,” he answered, “and admittedly, she’s not the deepest person in the world, but fun to be around, and it’s not as if I have a lot of options. Most of the most attractive girls are on the Cheerios with you, and we both know none of you would ever date me. I’ve been lucky to get the dates I have. Very few can see past the chair and of those that do, not many would want to be limited by my special needs.”
She opened her mouth to correct him, but stopped because she had to admit he was right. Even if she or one of the other cheerleaders had wanted to date someone like him, the demands of their social standing would never allow it.
All she could say was, “I’m sorry. Sometimes being in high school sucks.” And then she added, “I just think you can do better.”
They squeezed each other’s shoulders.
“And I wasn’t uncomfortable in there,” she answered. “Your parents love you very much to go to so much effort to make things convenient for you.”
“Yeah,” he told her. “Ever since the accident, my mom has spent every spare moment taking care of me.”
“What about your dad?”
“He’s around, and he helps when he can; but I live with mom, and she’s the one who shoulders the responsibility.”
She nodded, and they sat there in silence, just being with each other.
# # # # #
Artie sat there, just enjoying his time with Kitty. The more time they spent together the more he began to like her. He really hoped that things would change with her from now on.
He was shocked that she was jealous of Sugar, but sad when she didn’t correct his statement about dating him. For a moment it looked like she might, but alas she silently affirmed it.

Hopefully they could at least be more openly friendly now.
Sugar had been attached at the hip to Joe Hart since the two recovered from an extended case of Asian Bird Flu a few weeks ago, and had missed more glee club rehearsals than they had attended. She’d always been one to go for the down and out, and Joe had been getting more and more depressed ever since Quinn formally broke up with him at Thanksgiving. So it was unlikely that Kitty would have anything else to be jealous about.
He looked at her and could tell she wanted to ask him something, but was reluctant to broach that subject.
“Go ahead,” he started. “I can tell you want to ask something. You can ask whatever you want.”
She took a deep breath and asked, “How did it happen?” Referring to his chair.
“Well, I think I told you once it was in a car accident.”
She nodded.
“When I was eight years old, mom and I were coming home from that grocery store when another driver ran a red light. The details are kind of fuzzy, but the other vehicle hit us on the passenger side where I was sitting and I took the bulk of that impact. My mom escaped with only minor injuries, but we were later told that with an impact like that, if we weren’t in a minivan, and I hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, I probably would never have survived.”
She looked at him with a look of concern in her eyes. He searched for a sign of pity. That was the last thing he wanted. Seeing none, he continued.
“I spent eight weeks in the hospital, the first week or so in ICU. For a couple days it was touch and go. But the biggest concern was my legs and spine. The bones heeled up, but unfortunately there was an impact to a couple of my lower vertebrae which damaged my spinal cord and I lost the use of my legs. I can sort of move my hips, but nothing below that. I do, however retain some sensation. For a while we kept up my physical therapy to prevent muscle atrophy, but eventually gave up realizing that it was unlikely that it would do much good. That’s why my legs are so thin.

“For the first several months it was really hard on all of us. Mom was a mess. I think she felt guilty for some reason, but eventually I decided that I could manage my disability or I could let it control me. I chose to take control of my life. We moved me to the main floor of this house, hired a contractor to build that bathroom and some ramps here in the house, and I embraced the chair, making peace with the probability that I would be in it for the rest of my lift, and getting as good as possible at using it.
“I’ve done everything that I could to live my life the way I wanted. I joined Glee and the Jazz Ensemble, and later the football team for a while; I learned everything I could about directing and production, really everything I ever wanted that was in any way physically possible.”
Kitty smiled. “That’s so inspiring,” she told him, squeezing his shoulder. “I’m glad we’re friends.”
“I am too,” he told her.
Just then they heard the noise of that door opening.
Artie looked at the clock. 3:12 PM. Wow – they had spent almost the entire day together.
“That would be my mom,” he told her.
She made a move to get up, but he pulled her back down.
“Don’t worry; she’ll be happy to meet you.”
# # # # #
Kitty didn’t know why but she felt a slight panic at the thought of meeting Artie’s mom. She didn’t understand it. She’d met other friends’ parents before, but for some reason, this felt different.
As soon as she settled back into the couch, Artie removed his arm from her shoulder. She felt a pang of surprise, but she figured he didn’t want to give his mom that wrong idea.
She heard the sound of keys hitting the table, followed by a greeting, “Hi, Artie, I’m home.”
“Hey, mom,” Artie called out, “we’re in the living room.”
Moments later, Kitty saw Mrs. Abrams enter the room, with a big smile on her face.
“Well, hello there,” she greeted Kitty, extending her hand.
“Mom,” Artie said, “I’d like you to meet my friend Kitty Wilde. We’re in glee club together.”
“Nice to meet you Mrs Abrams,” Kitty said.
“Nice to meet you too, Kitty,” She told the younger woman. “Please call me Nancy – Mrs. Abrams sounds like an old hag.”
Kitty smiled. “Nice to meet you, Nancy. It’s an honor to meet the woman who raised my friend Artie here.”
“Why, thank you,” she responded, glancing at her son sending the ‘my is she polite’ message.
“His father and I did our best.”
Glancing back at Kitty, Nancy changed the subject. “You were in Grease too, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” Kitty responded. “I’m a bit surprised you remember me. It was such a small part.”
“It’s not the size of the part that matters,” Nancy told her, “it’s what you do with it.”
“That’s right,” Artie added, “and you did such an amazing job with it that it served as your audition for glee club. You should be proud. It’s not often that people are actually asked to join.”
“Mom,” he told his mother, “she’s the one I told you about.”
Kitty glanced at Artie, momentarily wondering what else Artie had told his mom, but lost her train of thought when Nancy addressed her.
“So, Kitty, are you staying for supper?”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Artie smile. He definitely wanted her to stay.
Kitty glanced at her watch. Almost 3:30. Her parents would be home soon, wondering where she was. She checked her phone. No new messages.
“I don’t know,” she answered. Part of her really wanted to stay. On one hand, Artie and Mrs. Abrams made her feel so welcome and comfortable. On the other hand, she didn’t want to overstay her welcome, and she figured her parents would be expecting her. “Let me call my mother first.”
“Of course dear,” Nancy said. “You can step in the other room if you need privacy.”
“Thank you.”
# # # # #
As Kitty stepped into the other room, Nancy addressed her son.
“She seems nice.”
Seeing where this was going, he quickly responded, “She’s just a friend, mom.”
Nancy gave her son a look that said ‘sure she is’ but didn’t press it.
# # # # #
Kitty stepped into what appeared to be a craft room and closed the door, before calling her mom.
She dialled the number, and her mom answered on the second ring.
“Where are you, Kitty?” She asked. “I came home early to make sure that you were okay, and found that you weren’t home.”
Great, she thought. I was afraid of that.
“I’m at a friend’s house,” she answered.
“What friend?” She pressed. “Is it one that I know?”
She briefly considered saying Marley or Brittany, but elected to tell the truth.
“I’m at Artie’s,” she answered. “He’s my friend from Glee Club, and you’ve never actually met him no.”
“Why him?”
“Because I wanted some company and he was available,” she answered truthfully.
“Oh,” she said. “When will you be home?”
“Actually, that’s why I was calling. His mother invited me to supper, if that’s okay.”
“Oh,” Kitty could hear the hesitation in her voice. Oh great. Kitty rarely visited her friends at home, let alone stayed for meals. She could tell that there would be questions when she got home, but she wasn’t ready for this visit to be over yet. “If you want to, dear. We can talk when you get home.” Yep. Definitely questions.
“Thanks, Mom,” she answered. “I love you.”
And with that the conversation was over. She wasn’t looking forward to that conversation, but decided to put it out of her mind. She took a deep breath and joined Artie and his mom back in the living room.
# # # # #
Artie smiled when Kitty returned to the living room and announced that she was being allowed to stay. Nancy was happy and headed off to the kitchen to begin making dinner.
Artie and Kitty passed the time by him giving her a tour of the rest of the house, including his bedroom where he showed her his video editing equipment. Kitty seemed genuinely impressed by his breadth of knowledge about the field. She knew that he liked to film their performances, dedicating a whole YouTube channel to them, but he was much more into it than she thought. He told her that his dream was to attend film school after college. What she thought was just a hobby for him turned out to be something that he wanted to do as a career. The subject of the footage taken at the school shooting came up again and Kitty suggested that he turn it into a mini documentary to go along with his film school applications.
Dinner was pleasant and they passed the time with casual chit chat. She learned that Nancy was a professional realtor and that she and Artie’s dad James had been divorced since he was young.
By the time it was 8:00 Kitty realized that she should be getting home soon and excused herself. Much to her surprise, Nancy gave her a hug goodbye and told her she was welcome back any time.
When Kitty got home she was subjected to a game of Twenty Questions, as expected, mostly from her dad, but excused herself to go to bed early after giving the most basic questions possible to the first handful of questions.
# # # # #
Artie also excused himself to go together bed early after a similar, though less intimidating, conversation with his mom.

# # # # #
Classes at McKinley resumed Thursday morning. However, almost half of the students failed to show up.
Things would never be the same again.
They were forever changed. First there new metal detectors at the entranced that everyone, both students and staff, had to go through. Security cameras we’re being installed in every hallway. Principal Figgins and a police officer were conducting a locker by locker search, and appointments we’re being made for each student to meet with police and administration to try to find out more about who the shooter may have been.
Grief and trauma counsellors were being made available, and a mandatory assembly was scheduled for that afternoon.
Everyone seemed to be in a daze. Even though no one was physically hurt, it had shaken the student body to the core. When Kitty saw Marley in the hall she walked up to her and embraced her for a full five minutes. They just stood there in the hallway holding each other. In the past there would have been comments made, but not today.
Something was taken from them when that gun went off. Their innocence, idealism, and feeling of safety were gone.
Kitty hadn’t been able to sleep the past two nights. The only real rest she’d had was in Artie’s arms the previous afternoon. She’d stayed up all night wrestling with her emotions and talking to her family, and to her friends Marley, Unique, and Artie on the phone that were having that same problem and only been able to sleep when she succumbed to complete exhaustion.
Going through this had brought an already close glee club even group closer. Their sense of family had grown stronger than ever before, with one notable exception.
Ryder was still obsessed with finding out who had cat fished him, and was now convinced that it was one of the members of the glee club. Between fourth and fifth period he cornered Kitty at her locked with Jake at his side and accused her of being the catfish.
She really didn’t want to deal with this. Not today.
She turned to faced him, looked him in the eye and said, “Read my lips, because we know you can’t read words. I didn’t catfish you. I’m not into guys who look like life-sized cartoon wieners. Now excuse me. Because just thinking about you and me dating makes me drier than the cast of Hot in Cleveland.” And with that she walked off, but she could tell from what he said to Jake as she left that he didn’t believe her.
# # # # #
By about 1 PM the gossip mill has gotten word that Coach Sue had confessed to accidentally firing the gun and because of the school districts zero tolerance policy, was being fired, but somehow it didn’t make anyone feel better.
# # # # #
That afternoon at 3:30 the glee club had a secret meeting in the backstage portion of that auditorium, instead of attending the assembly.
Tina and Blaine entered together and she put her hand on Artie’s shoulder as she walked past. Blaine sat across from Tina and Unique, and sang lead vocal in their song. Sam and Brittany sat together, as did Jake and Marley who held each other. Kitty entered, touching Unique’s leg for moral support, and sat down next to Artie. They put their arms around each other and she laid her head on his shoulder. He squeezed her shoulder and rubbed it for support.
Sam played his guitar along with the band and everyone sang Say, by John Mayer
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so called problems
Better put ’em in quotations

Blaine with Marley:
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Ryder was conspicuously absent, but showed up after the first verses to be with his glee family. He fist bumped with the guys. Marley hugged him from behind. Kitty smiled and then reached out to Unique’s leg again.

Ryder joined in on the second verse.

Ryder (with Blaine):
(Walkin’ like a one man army)
(Fightin’ with the shadows in your head)
(Livin’ up the same old moment)
Knowin’ you’d be better off instead
If you could only

Blaine with Marley:
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say

Marley and Kitty:
Have no fear for givin’ in
Have no fear for giving over

Sam and Brittany:
You better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again

Blaine (with Ryder):
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
(Even as the eyes are closin’)
(Do it with a heart wide open)

Marley with Blaine:

Marley with Blaine and New Directions:
Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

Blaine with Marley (New Directions):
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say (Ryder: Say what you need to say)
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to
Say what you need to

Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)
Say what you need to say (Oh say what)

Blaine with New Directions:
Say what you need to say

Things would never be the same again, but in time they would be okay.

# # # # #

Author’s Notes: Watch for the extended version of this as the Shooting Star Chapter of The Ballad of Kitty and Artie later this year when you will, among other things, be given more details about Kitty’s dinner with Artie and Nancy, and find out what her nightmare was about, and what Artie had previously told Nancy.

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