Wedding Song – Chapter 02: The Letter

Glee: Wedding Song:
Chapter 2: The Letter
By Wilde Abrams

Author’s Notes: Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed chapter one! That chapter was designed to set up the story and reintroduce the characters in a light and positive way. This chapter actually introduces the main dramatic storyline which will run through the remainder of the story. Special thank you goes out again to my beta reader Holly (MyGoldStar) and fellow author Sarah (Fire Girl125) who read and commented on early drafts of most of this chapter.

# # # # # # # #

On Sunday morning Artie and Kitty waited patiently at the LaGuardia Airport terminal for Artie’s mother Nancy to arrive. Artie hadn’t seen his mother since Christmas, and she was coming to town to visit them for a few days.

Kitty had liked Artie’s mom ever since she first met her four years ago; the first time she’d visited Artie’s home when they were in a Glee Club together. She knew that seeing her would make her boyfriend happy. She was also looking forward to the opportunity to have some girl talk with the older woman, and perhaps get some advice on how to subtly get her son to begin thinking about escalating their relationship timetable.

Artie was really excited to see his mother. As much as he loved film school and New York life, he had to admit that the one remaining significant drawback, since Kitty had graduated and moved out there, was that he rarely got to see his parents. But his mom was on her way to spend a week with he and Kitty, and he couldn’t be more thrilled!

As they waited patiently for Nancy to arrive, Kitty sat in one of the terminal chairs that Artie parked his wheelchair next to and they held hands smiling.

Finally after about twenty minutes they spotted her heading their way, a carry-on bag in her hand and a broad smile on her face. She rushed up to them and threw her arms around her son and give him a big hug.

“I’ve missed you so much!” She told him.

“I missed you too, mom,” Artie told her.

She broke the hug and gave him her cheek, which he planted a peck on.

Nancy then turned her attention to Kitty.

“A pleasure to see as always,” she told the younger woman.

The two women shared a friendly hug and Kitty responded, “The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. Abrams.”

“How many times do have to tell you to call me Na-”

“Nancy,” Kitty interrupted. “Sorry. I keep forgetting.”

“I’ll forgive you for that, until you have to answer to it as well,” Nancy told Kitty, playfully. “After that….”

“Yes, Nancy,” Kitty answered

“Mom….” Artie said sheepishly.

“Oh, Artie,” Nancy told him. “She knows I’m just teasing her.”

“I didn’t mean that. I told you before we aren’t discussing that until after college.”

“Yes dear,” she said, “but a mother can hope.”

“Sorry,” Arrie told his girlfriend. “She’s just getting a little ahead of herself and anxious for grandkids.”

“I am not!” Nancy told her son. “And what did I tell you I would do the next time you insinuated that I was an old hag?!”

They all smiled and laughed. It was an old joke – Nancy often threatened to push his chair over if he insinuated she was an old hag.

In the back of her head, Kitty wished Artie would listen to his mom, but decided to keep her thoughts to herself.

“Why don’t we get your bags and head to our place?” Kitty suggested, changing the subject.

“Oh, I don’t want to put you out,” Nancy told her. “I was planning to stay in a hotel.”

“You aren’t putting anyone out,” the younger woman reassured her. “You can stay in the guest room.”

“You have a guest room?” Nancy asked, surprised.

“Well,” Artie told his mother, “as far as Kitty’s dad is concerned it’s her room.”

“Dad’s still a little in denial about our cohabitation, and we thought it was best to humor him,” Kitty informed her.

“Doesn’t want to think about the prospect of grandkids yet, eh?” Nancy asked, half joking, nudging the younger woman with her elbow.

“Yeah, something like that,” Kitty responded with a sigh.

“We’re allowing him a little more denial time,” Artie added. “Besides he doesn’t have to worry too much. That’s not happening for a few years until after we’re married anyway.”

Inwardly, Kitty sighed, rolling her eyes when she was faced away from the others.

They followed the older woman as she claimed her check-in bag and the three of them headed off to the street and hailed a cab.

# # # #

The cab ride was uneventful and they arrived at Kitty and Artie’s apartment about twenty minutes later. Kitty showed Nancy to the “guest” room and then they left the older woman to get settled in.

Half an hour later, Kitty and Artie were in the living room watching TV when Nancy came out and handed Artie a bundle of envelopes and catalogs. Despite the fact that he hadn’t actually lived there in almost 4 years, Artie continued to get some mail at his mom’s addressed. It was generally unimportant things (anything that mattered had been long since updated to his current address). Normally she just included those when she sent him care packages, but since she was coming to visit she just packed the bundle in her suitcase.

“Nothing that exciting,” she told him as she handed him the bundle. “Except, there is some letter from a hospital here in New York that it seemed odd came to that address. It just came yesterday or I would have called you about it.”

Kitty and Artie both had their curiosity piqued by the news of the letter. Artie had only visited a hospital a couple times since living in New York, and he’d definitely given them his current address. He quickly went through the bundle and found the envelope she was referring to. It was addressed to Artie Abrams (not Arthur J. Abrams, like his official records) and from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Division of Medical Research. He had never been a patient there.

Artie open the letter and skimmed it. “Apparently NewYork-Presbyterian in conjunction with the Columbia University Medical School Department are conducting early human trials on a new treatment for spinal injuries similar to mine. I don’t understand. When Tina and I looked into this about 8 years ago, they were not expecting to start human trials on any of the treatments they were working on for 11-15 years.”

He handed the letter to Kitty who had started reading the letter over his shoulder.

“Well,” his mother told him. “Either this isn’t one of the ones you looked into, or they have escalated their timetable.”

“I guess,” Artie told her. It had been years since he had even thought about the prospect of a treatment for his injury. He had always told himself that he was okay with staying in a chair for the rest of his life, but every once in a while his mind would wander and he would entertain the possibility that he might walk again one day, and maybe even dance. Eight years ago he’d shared this with Tina who had done some research and gotten his hopes up, only to be dashed by a reality check from their guidance counselor Ms. Pillsbury, when it was pointed out how far off clinical trials were. Was it really possible that the research had advanced that rapidly?

Kitty quickly read the letter as Artie and his mom talked, and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the words she was hoping not to: Embryonic Stem Cells. Her heart sank, but she did her best to hide it.

“So are you going to look into it?” Nancy asked her son.

“I don’t know. I’ve pretty much made peace with the idea that I’m going to be in this chair the rest of my life. Just because they are contacting me doesn’t mean that it would would work for me. It’s also possible that it could make things worse,” he told his mother. Then he noticed Kitty hadn’t said anything about it yet. He turned to face her. “What do you think, Kitty?”

But Kitty’s mind was elsewhere and her attention was drawn back to the conversation at hand, “Hmm?… What?”

Artie faced his girlfriend and asked, “What do you think about what the letter says? Do you think that this is something I should look into?”

Kitty smiled, faced her boyfriend and said, “Artie, I think it’s an interesting prospect, and if it worked it might give you a lot of freedoms that you don’t have now. But there are probably risks as well. And it’s equally possible that it might not work or could make things worse. I think it’s something you are going to have to think long and hard on. But whatever you decide, know that I will support you 100%,” she finished placing her arm around her boyfriends shoulders.

It did not escape his notice that Kitty had skirted answering his question, and Artie made a mental note to check in with her later.

# # # #

That evening in bed, Artie turned to face his girlfriend. “So what do you really think about the prospective treatment?” He asked her.

I don’t know,” she lied. “Like I said before, it’s an interesting possibility -”

“Sweetie,” he told her, “as long as I’ve known you, you haven’t been shy about expressing your options. I can tell you’re holding something back. Please just tell me what you’re thinking.”

She sighed, and turned on on her side to face him, finally relenting.

“Artie, I know we don’t talk about religion much, but you know I was raised Evangelical Christian. I was taught that all life, including that of unborn babies was sacred. That’s a belief that I still have. According to the letter, this treatment uses human embryonic stem cells. Do you know where embryonic stem cells come from? Aborted fetuses.”

“Oh,” he said. Suddenly her reaction made sense. “So you’re telling me that I shouldn’t pursue this?”

“Oh, God, no!” She told him. “I meant what I said before. This is a decision that you need to make yourself. Neither your mom, nor I should tell you what to do. I will support you whatever you decide, and if you do it and it works, no one will be more thrilled than I will. I’m just saying, I have mixed feelings about who you’d have to thank for the treatment.”

He nodded. “Thank you for being honest with me,” he told her, “and for your support. I love you so much.”

“I love you too.” She said, and the two of them shared an affectionate kiss.

# # # #

Monday morning Artie had classes, so Kitty and Nancy decided to do a little shopping and sightseeing. The two women set out at about 9:00 and took the subway downtown.

The two women spent a little over two hours visiting various shops before they decided that it was time to find something to eat and headed to the Spotlight Diner for lunch.

They got a table and were perusing the menu when Nancy asked, “So how are things between you and my son going? He’s a man, so of course all he says is ‘fine’. Hoping you’ll be a bit more forthcoming.” She smiled.

“Oh ‘fine’,” she answered. Both women chuckled. “Okay, seriously, we are both very happy together,” Kitty continued. “I love him and he loves me. I’ve never felt as close to someone as I do to him. From what I can tell he feels the same way. He’s very affectionate towards me, which isn’t something I have had a lot of past experience with.”

“I’m glad,” Nancy told the younger woman. “I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable yesterday. I really don’t want to rush you into anything you’re not ready for.”

“Not at all,” Kitty assured her. “If anything I wish your son would take the hint!”

Both women laughed.

“So I take it you’ve been thinking about the future then?”

“Yeah,” Kitty said, “for a while now.”

“Have the two of you talked about it?”

“Yeah,” Kitty told her, “but not recently. About a year or so ago we talked about getting married after graduation. But it’s become apparent he was thinking after we both graduated.”

“And you’re thinking sooner than that,” Nancy finished.

“We’ve been together for four years. By the time I graduate it will be SIX years. We don’t need to actually get married right away, but I would like to formalize our relationship and officially get engaged.”

“Have you told him this?”

“No,” Kirty confessed. “And please don’t say anything. It’s very important to me that he propose to me in his own way and in his own time. I’m just getting a little impatient, that’s all.”

“I can understand that,” Nancy said, reassuringly. “James and I only knew each other a few months before he proposed, and we had an 11 month engagement. But that was a different time.”

“Yes,” Kitty said.

“My son loves you,” Nancy said, placing her hand on the younger woman’s arm. “It’ll happen when the time is right.”

“I know,” Kitty responded with a smile.

Just then the waitresses arrived and took their order.

# # # #

Artie rolled out of his Master Screenwriting class just before 1pm. He was in a hurry to get back to the apartment to spend more time with his mom and Kitty. He checked his phone and saw that he had a missed call and voicemail from his best friend Tina Cohen-Chang.

He hit the key to listen to his voicemail and heard, “Hi, Artie, it’s me. I just wanted to let you know that I’m on the noon flight from Providence to New York. I should land about 1pm. I’ll be in town for a few days, and hope we can get together to catch up in the next day or two. I’ve got something important to talk to you about.”

Tina was Artie’s best friend from high school. They had been in the same grade and graduated together. Now she was a student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He wondered what was so important that she was coming all the way to New York to talk to him about on a week that classes were in session for both of them.

He pressed the key to call her back, but got her voicemail, so he left her a message in return.”Hey, Tina, it’s Artie. I just got your message. I’m getting out of class now and headed back to the apartment. My mom’s in town too. Feel free to stop by this afternoon. Maybe we can do dinner together the four of us. See you soon.”

He headed to the subway to get home.

# # # #

Nancy and Kitty arrived back at the apartment at about quarter to 2 and collapsed onto the couch, shopping bags strewn all around them. It had been a long eventful morning, but they had had fun.

About 10 minutes later, Artie rolled in.

“How was your shopping?” he asked.

“Great,” his mom said. “I managed to find some new shoes and a handbag on sale, as well as a Christmas present for my sister.”

“What about you, sweetie?” he asked Kitty.

“I found a good deal on a couple blouses,” Kitty answered. “How was class?”

“Class was good,” he told her. “But I’ve got bigger news. We’re having company. Tina is coming to town.”


“Yeah,” Artie answered. “It surprised me too. Apparently she’s on her way. I got a voicemail from her when I got out of class. She wants to catch up, and apparently has something important to talk about. I told her that mom was here, but to come over when she got the chance and we’d all have dinner together. I hope that’s okay?”

“It’s fine,” Kitty answered with a smile. Truth be told, Tina wasn’t Kitty’s favorite person in the world. But she was Artie’s best friend and had been since before they had met. They had all been in glee club together in high school. For whatever reason the two of them had never really gotten along. Kitty thought that things would get better between the two of them after she’d extended an olive branch and placed her support behind Tina’s campaign for prom queen even though she’d also been nominated for the position herself, because Tina really wanted it and Kitty was just a sophomore and Tina was a senior. Then, when Tina’s dress had been ruined by a classmates prank, Kitty had given Tina her own dress. Things had seemed to improve between the two of them, and for a month-and-a-half or so Kitty thought they had buried the hatchet. But when Tina, very publicly, told Artie that Kitty didn’t really love him and knocked him out of his chair in the middle of an argument, it became apparent that had been an illusion. Kitty had wanted to do deck the girl, but instead gave her an icy glare and had gone with Artie to see the nurse to make sure he was okay. Caring for her boyfriend had been more important to her than revenge, and at Artie’s request she’d let it drop, but things had been strained between the two of them ever since. For Artie’s sake, she always at least tried to be nice whenever they saw Tina.

“I’d love to see Tina again,” Nancy added with a smile.

Kitty sighed, stood up, and began straightening up the apartment.

# # # #

About an hour later, there was a knock at the door. Artie answered it, Tina stood there with a smile on her face.

“Artie!” She exclaimed and threw her arms around him.

“Tina, I’ve missed you!” He told her, returning the embrace.

The two of them broke the hug and he invited her into the apartment. Nancy walked over and gave Tina a friendly hug.

“Mrs. Abrams,” Tina greeted her, “good to see you again!”

“You’re all grown up now, Tina, please call me Nancy.”

“Okay, Nancy,” she answered.



The two women greeted each other cordially, exchanging a decidedly more awkward embrace.

“So how was your flight?” Artie asked as they broke the hug.

“It was good,” Tina told him. “It wasn’t that long. I just didn’t want to spend three and a half hours driving and then have to deal with the driving and parking situation here.”

He nodded and lead her into the living room.

“Can I offer you something to drink?” he asked.

“No, thank you,” she answered. “I’m good.”

The group moved into the living room and everyone sat down.

“So how’s school, Tina,?” Artie asked.

“It’s good,” she answered. “Got straight A’s again last semester and am on track to do so again this one.”

“I always knew you were smart,” he told her.

“Says the one who tied with me for high school valedictorian,” she responded, and they both laughed. “It’s my last semester, so I don’t have to take as many credits.”

“Really?” He responded, surprised. “I want to make the most of my time here, so I’m carrying an extra class my last semester.”

Everyone chuckled. They all knew that he was pursuing his dream to be a filmmaker, and would probably stay an extra year if they’d let him to learn as much as humanly possible about the challenging and ever changing field. Tina, on the other hand, was a performing arts major which was more general and prepared her for a variety of jobs in the entertainment field.

“So how are things with Mike,” Kitty chimed in, attempting to be friendly.

“Mike Chang?” Nancy asked. “I thought you broke up after he graduated?”

“We did,” Tina answered. “I had a hard time with the lack of attention I got in a long distance relationship and decided it was too hard so I broke up with him a month later. -”

“-After you’d gotten yourself branded with his name,” Kitty chimed in. Artie couldn’t tell if she were being snarky or teasing.

“Yea,” Tina added, not missing a beat. “I later had the tattoo changed from ‘Mike Chang Forever’ to ‘Make Change Forever’ which I love.

“But, anyway, when we saw each other again a couple months after that when he came back to helpe Artie by serving as choreographer for Grease, we found that the spark was still there and were going to talk about making a go of it again, but then the demands of his schooling and then, later, mine after I graduated, kept getting in the way.

“Finally, after he graduated from Joffey in Chicago last year, we both spent some time together in Lima last summer. Neither of us had had any luck dating others and the spark was still there between us, even after all that time apart, so we had a long talk about our feelings and what we needed in a relationship, and ultimately decided to try long distance again. We were kind of inspired by Artie and Kitty here. We’d only have to do it for about a year. They somehow managed to do two.”

“It wasn’t easy,” Artie chimed in. Kitty reached over and took his hand, squeezing it.

“We’re in the home stretch,” Tina finished, “and things seem to be going great! We’re counting the days until I graduate and we can be together more or less full time. This has really challenged us as people, but I think we’ve both grown a lot, and are a stronger couple because of it.”

They all smiled.

“Well good for you,” Nancy told her. “I’m happy for you!”

“Well, as fun as it is to catch up,” Tina said, changing the subject, “that’s not why I’m here.

“Artie, did you get a letter from the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital last week?”

“Yes,” he answered, confused, “though it was sent to mom’s house, so I didn’t get it until yesterday. How did you know about that?”

“It’s from the doctors developing one of the treatments I looked into freshman year. I got a similar letter. Who do you think gave them your name?”

“I honestly didn’t know,” he said. “I thought all you’d done was some internet research. I didn’t realize you’d actually contacted anyone directly.”

“So have you talked to them yet? What did they say?”

“No, I haven’t -”

“Well when’s your appointment?”

“-and I’m not sure I’m going to,” he finished.

“What do you mean you’re not sure you’re going to? Didn’t you understand the letter? They’ve had some promising results in animal trials and have gained approval to move into human trials like five years before they expected to. If this works you could get some or all of the use of your legs back! You could put that chair away for good and walk or maybe even, in time, dance? Remember, you used to dream of dancing?!”

“I don’t know, Tina. I’ve pretty much made peace with the idea that I’m going to be in this chair the rest of my life. It’s been years since I’ve even thought about the prospect of a treatment for my injury. I’ve always told myself that I’m okay with staying in a chair for the rest of my life, and I’m pretty sure I am.

“Yes, every once in a while my mind might wander and entertain the possibility that I might walk and dance again one day. But then reality checks in. I’m really okay with my life as it is.”

“But, Artie,” she argued, “I know you. I’ve seen the way you looked at all of us in glee, wishing you could dance the way we did-”

“You’re getting ahead of yourself, Tina,” he told her. “You’re acting as if this is a sure thing, and just because they are contacting me doesn’t mean that it would would work for me. It’s also possible that it could make things worse. Add to that, the fact that this treatment uses cells from aborted fetuses, and I’m not so sure it’s worth it. ”

“I don’t believe this, Artie! I thought you’d be thrilled!”

“Tina,” Artie, said, as calmly as he could, “I really appreciate your concern. I know you’re just trying to help, but it’s my decision to make. So I’m going to say thank you, but please let this go, so I can make my own decision. I’ll let you know if I need any more input.”

“Very well,” Tina sighed and pouted.

There was an awkward silence.

“So where are we going for dinner?” Nancy chimed in, breaking the silence. “Anywhere you want. My treat!”

# # # #

That evening the four of them had dinner at Sardi’s.

The dinner conversation was mellow and the topic of the treatment wasn’t brought up again.

About an hour after they got there, Kitty excused herself to go to the bathroom. Five minutes later Tina decided that she also had to go and excused himself as well.

# # # #

Kitty stood at the mirror in the Ladies room at the restaurant re-applying her lipstick when Tina entered.

“I realize that we don’t exactly like eachother, but I need you to help me convince Artie to have the treatment for his own good.”

“Now, why would I try to talk him into supporting the killing of babies, just for the remote chance that he might be able to walk again.” Kitty asked in a snarky tone. How dare Tina assume she knew what was best for Artie, even more than he did?

“What are you talking about?” Tina asked, not understanding the connection.

“I read the letter too. According to what if says, this treatment uses human embryonic stem cells. Do you know where those come from? Aborted babies!”

“So?” Tina asked. She hadn’t realized this, but it didn’t matter where the cells came from as long as the end result was Artie walking again.

“So, by using them in medical treatment, we would be helping rationalize abortion!”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Tina argued. “People are going to get abortions weather the cells are used for something else or not. This is not any different than organ or tissue donation,” Tina said.

Kitty was surprised that Tina, as someone who was adopted, was so caviar about killing unborn babies, but held her tongue. She really didn’t want to fight with her. She knew that the other woman meant well and really thought she was doing this for Artie’s own good.

“Except that the child didn’t consent to it,” Kitty countered instead.

“Children don’t consent to it when a small child dies and the organs are donated to save another young child. How is this any different?” Tina wanted to know.

“It just is!” Kitty told her. “For one thing, in this case the child was deliberately killed!”

“It wasn’t really a child yet! And it was going to be killed anyway? Why shouldn’t some good come out of it?”

“Life begins at conception!”

“No,” Tina countered, “it doesn’t.”

“Are you listening to yourself?” Kitty exclaimed. “You’re just saying that because you want Artie to get the treatment!”

“And you’re just saying it because you don’t!” Tina countered.

“That’s not true!” Kitty said, adding, “I know we’ve had our differences, but I’d never have expected you to defend murder, just because you want Artie to have a small chance to walk again!”

“How dare you! I’m one of his best friends-”

“-And I’m his girlfriend! I’ve known him for 5 years, and lived with him for 2. Don’t you think I know how hard things are for him sometimes? Simple, everyday things that we take for granted are a chore for him, and there are things that he may never experience because it’s not physically possible.”

“Then why aren’t you more supportive?”

“I am supportive! I told him I’d support him whatever he decides, and I meant it. He needs to decide this for himself, and not be swayed by what either of us think. I wasn’t even going to say anything about this to him, but he asked me directly, and I wasn’t going to lie to him.”

“But if he goes through with it and it works he could be normal again,” Tina argued.

“Are you listening to yourself? You’re acting as if there is something wrong with how he is now,” Kitty pointed out, hurt.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Maybe not but that’s what you said,” Kitty said. “Artie’s wheelchair is a part of who he is. It’s shaped the person he’s become. There’s nothing wrong with that! It would be great if he got some or all of his mobility back. But it needs to be his choice weather to go through the procedure or not, and those of us who are close to him need to just be supportive. By pushing him so hard to go through with the procedure you are telling him that there is something wrong with the way he is now. Where would that leave him if it didn’t work? If you’re really his friend, you won’t do that!”

Kitty walked out of the rest room and rejoined Artie and his mom. A few minutes later, Tina did as well.

“Is everything okay,” Artie asked.

“Fine,” Kitty said, quietly.

“Fine,” Tina added.

But it wasn’t fine. The two women glared at each other.

# # # #

That night Nancy offered to share the queen bed in the “guest” room with Tina, but she declined and decided that she was fine crashing on the couch.

# # # #

Later that night in bed, Kitty turned on her side to face Artie.

“You never told me you dreamed of dancing,” she said.

“That’s because I haven’t in a long time,” he told her, “and I have other dreams now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” he told her.

But she wasn’t convinced.

“Artie, I will never tell you what to do here. I’ll support whatever you decide. But I would hate to think that you’re giving up on your dream. If there is even a tiny bit of you holding onto that dream, don’t you think you owe it to yourself to at least talk to them, hear what they have to say, and ask any questions you might have? Don’t let my moral convictions dissuade you.”

“That’s not why I’m reluctant to do this,” he told her. “There is no guarantee it will work, it might make things worse, and even if it does work, the physical therapy would be very intense. I remember what Quinn went through, and it would be a lot harder for me because the muscles haven’t been used in so long.”

She placed her hand in his cheek, and met his gaze.

“I’ve never known you to shy away from a challenge, don’t start now, just because you’re afraid. If you decide to do this, I will be with you every step of the way.”

They both smiled and chuckled at the unintended punn.

“Just think about it, and be sure, okay?”

“I will,” he told her. “I love you so much! Thank you so much for being with me and supporting me.”


They kissed.

# # # #

Tuesday morning. Artie and Kitty were eating breakfast when Tina approached him.

“Good morning.”


“Artie,” she said sheepishly, “I owe you an apology. I was just so excited about the prospect of you walking and maybe dancing again, that I didn’t think before I spoke. I should not have pressed you so hard on it and I’m sorry. Kitty and your mom are right, this is your decision to make, and it’s not as black and white as I was acting like it was. I will support you no matter what you decide to do.”

“Thank you, Tina,” he told her. “That means a lot. I know you meant well, and I do understand where you are coming from.”

Just then Nancy walked into the room, half asleep. She had obviously just woken up.

“Both of you help yourself to some coffee if you want,” Kitty told them, gesturing to the coffee maker and cups she had left out on the counter.

“Thank you, dear,” Nancy said as she and Tina walked over to counter.

“There’s bagels, and stuff to make toast if you want as well,” Kitty added.

“Coffee is just fine, thank you,” Nancy said, grabbing herself a cup.

When Nancy and Tina had poured their coffee and joined them at the table, Artie addressed them.

“I’m glad you’re all here,” Artie said, taking Kitty’s hand, “because there’s something I wanted to tell you.” He looked over at Kitty, meeting her gaze. “First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for your support, encouragement, and concern.” She squeezed his hand.

He turned to face the others. “After sleeping on it, I’ve decided to make an appointment, and see what these doctors have to say. This doesn’t mean that I am going to go through with this, but I think I owe it to myself to see what this is about before giving up on any of my dreams.”

Everyone smiled.

“And if it’s okay, I’d like all of you to accompany me to the appointment, to hear the presentation with me so you can advise me about the very difficult decision that I am going to have to make. You’re the people who know me the best in the world, and I know you’ve all got my back.”

He was greeted with a chorus of agreements, and everyone was smiling. Kitty squeezed his hand again.

# # # #

Later that day after he got out of his morning classes, Artie called and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon. Then he called his own doctor and had copies of his records sent to New York-Presbyterian for them to look over.

# # # #

Thursday morning, Artie sat in his classes listening to his professors, but his mind was elsewhere, and he didn’t absorb very much of it. He made a mental note to get notes from a classmate.

His appointment was for 1pm so the four of them left the apartment just after noon. They arrived for the appointment a few minutes early and Artie signed in.

A few minutes later the receptionist ushered them into the office and they were introduced to Doctor Michael Wu and Doctor Susan Roe. After Artie exchanged pleasantries with the two doctors, he introduced the others.

“I’d like you to meet my mother, Nancy Abrams, my girlfriend Kitty Wilde, and my best friend Tina Cohen-Chang.” The doctors each greeted and shook hands with them in turn. “They are the people who know me the best and whom I’m closest. I want them to hear what you have to say with me, and I’d appreciate it if you’d answer their questions, and please feel free to say anything you’d say to me in front of them.”

“Of course,” Doctor Roe answered. She and Doctor Wu noded.

“Tina,” Dr. Wu asked, “you’re the one who contacted us eight years ago?”

“Yeah,” she responded, “I found information about your research online. Artie and I had been talking about the extent of his injuries, and he told me that his doctors had told him that there was no treatment for his condition, and I wanted to know if that was still the case. It had been like eight years since his accident.”

“Well, it’s good that you did.”

“Artie,” Doctor Roe began, turning everyone’s attention back to their prospective patient. “We were very happy to hear from you because from what we were able to tell from the medical records that you sent over, you appear to be an ideal candidate for this type of treatment. In your case, the spinal cord was crushed in your accident, but not completely severed. It’s also down low enough in your spine that if it doesn’t work for some reason it’s unlikely to decrease the abilities you already have.”

“It’s our understanding that you have the use of your hips but nothing below that, and you have no feeling below that either?” Dr. Wu asked.

“Yes,” Artie answered, “if you touch me below a certain point on my legs and I see it, I think I feel it, but if I don’t know it’s coming or don’t see it (for example, under a table) then I don’t.”

“Ghost feelings,” Doctor Wu concluded. “Your mind knows it’s coming and convinces itself that it really feels it.”

He nodded.

“So why don’t you explain the treatment to us?” Artie asked. “So what exactly are embryonic stem cells? I gather they are the key to this treatment.”

“Yes.” Dr. Roe answered, “Put simply, stem cells are the body’s raw building materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. They are cells that have the potential to develop into some or many different cell types in the body. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called “daughter” cells. The stem cells can live and grow in special solutions in test tubes or petri dishes in laboratories.

“When a stem cell divides, each “daughter” cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell or bone. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types. Serving as a sort of repair system, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells for as long as the person or animal is still alive.”

“What we would be doing here is using implanted stem cells to replaced damaged spinal nerve cells,” Dr. Wu added.

“Where exactly do these embryonic stem cells come from?” Kitty asked. “I’ve heard that they come from aborted fetuses. Is that true?”

“Absolutely not!” Dr. Roe told her. “All the human embryonic stem cell lines currently in use come from four to five day old embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. The National Institutes of Health created guidelines for human stem cell research in 2009 which include strict guidelines for informed consent, and an absolute requirement that embryonic stem cells may only be used from embryos created by in vitro fertilization when the embryo is no longer needed. No stem cells from aborted fetuses are ever used for this.”

“What does that mean?” Nancy asked.

“In in vitro fertilization, researchers mix a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs together in a lab dish,” Dr. Roe explained.

“We know what in vitro fertilization is,” Tina chimed in. “Our friend Rachel Berry was conceived that way.”

“Rachel Berry the Broadway star?” Dr. Wu asked.


“I loved her in Funny Girl!”

“Anyway,” Dr. Roe said, bringing them back to the topic at hand. “Some of those eggs become fertilized and begin developing. At about three to five days the egg has divided to become a hollow ball of roughly 100-150 cells called a blastocyst which is smaller than the size of the dot over an “i”. It is these very early stage development embryos that are implanted into the woman in the hopes that she becomes pregnant.

“IVF typically results in many more bioclasts than are actually needed. Each cycle of IVF can produce many blastocysts, some of which are implanted into the woman and the rest are stored in the IVF clinic freezer.

“After a couple has completed their family, they must decide what to do with any remaining embryos. They can continue paying to store the embryos or they can defrost the embryos, which destroys them.

“Some couples may choose to donate the embryos for adoption, though that option is not commonly taken. Or they can choose to donate the frozen embryos for research. These donated embryos are the source of human embryonic stem cell lines.

“Although we wouldn’t be using any of them, some embryonic stem cell lines also come from embryos that a couple has chosen not to implant because they carry genetic mutations. These are discovered through routine genetic testing prior to implantation. Still other embryos might be malformed in some way that causes them to be rejected for implantation into the mother. These embryos with genetic defects of malformations would have been discarded if the couple had not chosen to donate them to stem cell research.”

“So just to be clear,” Artie asked, “there is no chance that these stem cells would come from abortions?”

He glanced over at Kitty, who seemed to have relaxed some, but still seemed uneasy.

“Absolutely none,” Dr. Wu answered. “The stem cells are always donated with informed consent from donors, and always from IVF.”

“But doesn’t removing these cells destroy the embryo?” Tina asked.

“That is true in most cases,” Dr. Roe answered. “But it’s important to remember that they were already destined to be destroyed for one of the reasons I already explained”

“Embryos aren’t the only possible source of stem cells are they? What about stem cells found in amniotic fluid, cord blood, or stem cells taken from adults?” Kitty wanted to know.

“You’ve done your research. I could go into great details if you want,” Dr. Roe told her. “But the bottom line is that none of those sources are very suitable for this type of research or treatment. Stem cells found in amniotic fluid and cord blood are too scarce to provide the number of cells needed, and adult stem cells have a more limited ability to give rise to various cells of the body. There is also a greater risk of contamination due to environmental factors or genetic anomalies. Embryonic stem cells have the greatest chance of working here.”

Kitty nodded, reluctantly. So, if Artie went through with this, the stem cells would come from potential Rachel Berry’s, but at least they weren’t be killing fully developed fetuses.

“What would the procedure be like?” Artie asked.

“Basically, Artie, we would inject stem cell lines that have been stimulated to multiply into your spine, near the damaged part of the spinal cord using a needle similar to what we use for epidural injections for pregnant women and wait for them to multiply and bond with existing spinal nerve cells. This would be done several times.”

He nodded. It was starting to make sense to him.

“So, what benefits can I theoretically expect?” he asked.

“Obviously this is a highly experimental treatment, and the results would not be immediate. But ideally you will begin to regain sensation from the nerves in your legs and below. Over time we hope that you’d regain first gross motor control, followed by fine motor control, assisted by physical therapy.”

“What are the risks to my son?” Nancy asked.

“Obviously there is the possibility of further nerve damage, but judging by where the existing damage is located, even if that happened, it’s unlikely to affect other body functions.”

Since no one else had any questions, they bid the doctors goodbye and headed back to Kitty and Artie’s apartment. The doctors agreed to give Artie some time to think about it, and he told them that he would get back to them with a decision within a few days. If he did decide he was interested in proceeding, they would want to schedule an MRI to confirm the information in his medical records.

# # # #

The subway ride was quiet, as everyone took the time to absorb what they had been told.

When they reached the apartment, everyone took their coats off and began to talk about what they had heard. Most of them seemed optimistic about what they had been told. Artie seemed cautiously excited. Nancy did as well, but also worried about potential side effects. As before, Kitty remained quiet.

“My opinion hasn’t changed,” Tina told him. “The risks seem minimal to nonexistent -”

“-But they’re still there,” Nancy interjected.

“-And I think you will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t go for it,” Tina finished. She nodded at Nancy, acknowledging what she said, before facing Artie. “You’re my best friend, Artie, and I know we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but I think you know that I’ve got your best interest at heart.”

She met his gaze and continued, “I know you tried to hide it, but I saw the way you used to look at the rest of us in glee club during our dance numbers, wishing that you could do the choreography the same as the rest of us; that you didn’t have to be different. It always broke my heart. We can’t change the past, but this could lead to you never having to be different, having to have special accommodations again. Don’t you want that?”

After a moments hesitation, he silently noded.

Kitty sat across the room, struggling to control her temper. Tina was manipulating him into doing what she wanted, not letting him make his own decision! She wanted to lash out and put Tina in her place, but knew that it wouldn’t do any good.

“You know,” she chimed in, “it occurs to me that you might benefit from the point of view of someone who hasn’t heard the doctor’s sales pitch.” She told Artie.

“Why?” Tina asked.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Nancy chimed in.

“Who did you have in mind?” Artie asked.

“Marley and Ryder,” she answered. “I happen to know that they are both free this evening because we’d originally planned a movie night with them before this came up. We could order some pizza and have them come over. Depending on how long the conversation goes, we could possibly still have our movie night; just with more of us.”

Tina gave Kitty a cold glare, but said nothing.

“That sounds like a good idea to me,” Nancy said.

“You had me at pizza,” Artie said with a smile.

Kitty took out her phone and called Marley’s number and extended the invitation, explaining only that they had something important to talk to them about before the movie. Marley told her that she hadn’t made other plans, so assuming Ryder was still available, the two of them would be over in about an hour.

A few minutes later, when Artie was in the bathroom, Kitty was in the kitchen preparing some snacks and refreshments when Tina approached her.

“It’s not going to work, you know?” She baited.

“Excuse me?” Kitty answered in a snarky tone.

“Trying to talk him out of this?”

“I’m not trying to talk him out of anything,” Kitty reminded her. “I already told him that he’s got to make this decision himself. I just want him to think this through from all sides.”

“So do I,” Nancy interjected as she entered the room. “I’m sorry, Tina, I know you think you’re being impartial here, but I watched your reactions at the doctors office and it was obvious that, despite what you said the other day, your mind was made up before the doctors said very much.”

“No, it wasn’t!”

“Yes, it was,” Nancy and Kitty said together.

“The three of us,” Nancy said, “are extremely close to Artie, and we all like to think that we know what is in his best interest. I think it’s a very good idea for Artie to consider the perspective of other good friends who know him, but aren’t quite as emotionally invested as we are.

“Tina, you’ve made your opinions clear, please lay off the hard sell and let him hear what Marley and Ryder have to say without interrupting… for me, and for Artie.

“Very well,” Tina related, “as long as Kitty agrees to do the same-”

“-I do-”

“-and if he asks me anything, I’m going to tell him what I think.”

“I would expect nothing less.”

Just then the bathroom door open and a few moments later, Artie wheeled into the kitchen.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

“We were just helping Kitty with the snacks and refreshments,” Tina answered, grabbing a tray and taking it into the other room. Nancy did likewise and took a stack of plates into the other room.

# # # #

Twenty minutes or so later the four of them were relaxing in the living room when the doorbell rang. Kitty rose to her feet and answered the door. As expected it was Marley and Ryder whom she greeted with hugs and ushered into the apartment.

“Glad you could make it,” Artie greeted them.

“Wouldn’t miss it!” Ryder told him. “And Marley would never say so, but she was really bummed when you cancelled on us the other day-”

“-Ryder!” Marley interrupted, swatting her boyfriend playfully.

“What?” he asked, innocently. “It’s true!”

“Sorry about that,” Artie said sheepishly. “We had a good reason. That’s actually what we wanted to talk to you about before we watch the movie, if that’s okay?”

“Of course,” Marley assured him, showing no sign of being upset. “We’re all ears!”

“Pizzas are on the way and should be here in about twenty minutes,” Kitty chimed in. “So I hope you’re hungry.”

“The other day,” Artie began, “I received this letter from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital inviting me to a consultation about a possible treatment for my spinal injury. Apparently they still had my name and address from when Tina was looking into the possibility of a treatment way back in high school.”

He handed them the letter. “We went for the consultation appointment this afternoon,” he continued, “and I was wondering if you could give me your honest opinions if I told you about it?”

“Sure,” Ryder said.

“Absolutely,” Marley added, grinning.

“Thanks,” he told them. “That means a lot.”

He launched into a retelling of the details of the appointment. Artie did most of the talking, with Kitty, Tina, and Nancy filling in some of the details as needed. True to their words, Tina and Kitty avoided expressing their opinions. About half way through the explanation, the food came, and they began to eat while listening to the explanation.

“So,” Artie finished, “What are your thoughts? I really want to know what you’re thinking. Please don’t censor yourselves.”

“Wow,” Marley began, “I really had no idea that they could do this!”

“Artie would be one of the very first humans that they try this on,” Tina chimed in. “Because of the enormous success they’ve had in their animal trials, they are about five years ahead of their original schedule.”

“Artie, this is so amazing!” Marley continued, “So you really might be able to walk again?”

“Or maybe even dance,” Tina added.

“That’s assuming a best case scenario outcome,” Artie reminded them. “This has never been done with humans before, and this will still require a lot of physical therapy to back it up. I haven’t had use of my legs since I was 8 years old. That’s a long time – fourteen years!”

“Artie,” Ryder said, speaking for the first time since Artie finished the explanation. “It sounds like it’s going to be a long shot, but you have to go for it, man, because if you don’t then I think you will regret it.”

“There are still risks,” Nancy reminded him.

“Yeah,” Marley acknowledged, “but they are minimal, and the possible gains are really huge! I agree with Ryder.”

“Thanks for the insight guys,” Artie told them. “Kitty, Mom, and Tina have already given me their thoughts, so unless anyone has anything else to add, I guess it’s up to me now.”

“Just one more thing,” Marley added. “If you go through with this, and there is anything that you need, don’t hesitate to call!”

The rest of the group voiced their agreements, and joined Marley in giving him a giant group hug.

“Thanks guys,” Artie said, with tears in his eyes. “That means a lot! I’ll have to sleep on it and think about it for a few days.”

The hug broke up, and Kitty, who also had tears in her eyes, said, “Okay, movie time!”

She showed them the movies she had available, and they chose one of the recent Nicholas Sparks book adaptations.

At the end of the night he thanked them again and they went home.

# # # #

Later that night in bed, Artie turned to Kitty and asked, “So, What do you really think?”

“I told you-”

“-Sweetie, why don’t you want to tell me what you think?”

She paused for a moment,considering her words before answering, “Because I feel like no matter what I say, you could resent me for it later.”

“What do you mean?” He wanted to know.

“Artie,” she told him, “I told you before that I had really conflicting feelings about this, and I know that what I think has the potential to significantly sway your opinion on this. If I tell you to do it and it doesn’t work, I fear you could resent me for talking you into it, even if you believe at the time that I’m not. If I tell you not to, I fear that you might resent me for not encouraging you to take the risk and see what happened. Either way it puts me in an awkward position, so please just know that I love you and will support you no matter what you decide.”

He gave her a smile. “I could never resent you.”

“And my rational mind knows that,” she told him, “but we both know I have this inner irrational mind which feeds my insecurities and doubts. Please, just don’t press this okay?”

“Okay,” he said, after a few moments of silence to let what she said sink in. “I’ll drop this and make my own decision.”

She snuggled up next to him. “Thank you,” she said, and they kissed. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

She drew him close into her arms. Whatever he decided, she knew they would be okay.

# # # # #

Author’s Note: I understand that there will be some readers who have very mixed feelings about the nature of this plot line for Artie, but I ask you to trust me to deal with it with sensitivity. Artie has been one of my favorite characters since the pilot, and I intend to stay true and fair to him. The underlying theme of Wedding Song is the deep and unconditional love between Kitty and Artie, and will be illuminated by this plot. There will be very dramatic moments, along the way, but I promise you a very heartwarming ending.

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