Chapter 1: Pop and Lock
Mike never used pop and lock to fight.
Mike never used pop and lock to fight.
Never mind the fact that it was an ability he and Matt shared. Never mind the fact that it was a dance style he truly excelled in.
Mike never used pop and lock to fight.
Just because they were at peace after the war didn't mean that there wasn't still fighting. It didn't mean that crimes using the Ra didn't happen and that the LXD didn't have to fight to protect.
Mike was reminded of this fact as he crouched low in the warehouse, heart hammering in his chest. His supervisor was pinned down on the other side of the room, and Mike could readily admit that he was scared. Oh god was he scared.
What should have been a training exercise instead got turned into the Ra version of a firefight. Stray Ra powers were flying fast and furious, and all Mike could do was huddle in a corner.
He wasn't ready for this. At all.
Mike's heart nearly leapt into his throat when someone rushed past, stopped, and advanced on him.
"Well, well. Looks like they have babies on the team. Guess they're still hurting."
The man twisted in place, arms trailing languidly. Mike was on his feet in an instant as he felt his muscles tighten.
"No!" he gasped out with a familiar pain in his chest. He settled into his stance and reached deep into the spark inside of him to pull it to the surface. Desperately, Mike focused it into his arms and popped out.
The force knocked his attacker back several paces. It broke him from his pattern, so Mike continued to move. He wasn't at his most fluid, but the Ra pulled him forward as he popped and locked. His attacker shuddered with each hit until he dropped to the ground, unmoving.
Mike panted and lowered his arms. Adrenaline faded alongside the ringing in his ears, leaving only exhaustion behind.
He was terrified. All he could remember was the tightening of his chest like it had long ago. All he could do was stare down at his unmoving assailant.
Was he dead?
Mike knew he should move. Go to a more defensible position. But his gaze rested on the body, and he had to know.
He knelt. Hand trembling, Mike reached for his neck.
His wrist was caught before he even made it. The man's eyes snapped open, and he was moving—
—slashed across his neck—
—and when he could breathe again, Mike stared. Horrified.
The hand gripped his wrist slackened, but Mike could only look into those eyes so full of hatred as life bled out of them. He was trying to say something, but Mike's ears rang too loudly as his breaths sped.
Besides, Mike wasn't sure how intelligible someone with a crushed throat could be.
He focused on the man's eyes, but he kept being drawn to the throat. To where the evidence of his actions lay. It felt like he was zooming in on the wound as the edges of his vision darkened.
Eventually, he blacked out.
His instructor found him not long later, unconscious and utterly traumatized.
Though sessions with the therapist helped, and Matt's quiet support helped even more, Mike couldn't use pop and lock to fight.
He took up tricking and let the martial arts spins become his new style. He still danced pop and lock and was proud to admit it.
But he couldn't fight with it.
Not with the visions swimming in his head of his first kill.
Chapter 2: Sewers
Brittany wasn't lying when she said she spent the summer in the sewers.
"This is disgusting," Matt murmured.
Mike hummed his agreement. Then again, Mike had always loved his footwear, and wading through the muck of the sewers was not conducive to clean shoes.
He would suck it up though; he'd been trained that way.
"I don't know; I think there's a certain charm," Brittany mused.
On the other hand, Brittany was just that weird.
"I found Lord Tubbington down here a couple of years ago," she said. "I was with the others. There's an open space not too far away from here."
Matt looked at Mike, who nodded.
"All right then, take us there," Mike said. "Hopefully, this necromancer didn't go too far."
"Is it really a necromancer, though?" Brittany pondered. "I thought he just made puppets."
"Puppets of dead people," Mike argued. "Hence, necromancer."
As Mike and Brittany bickered over the proper terminology of their target, Matt was carefully extending his senses. He was the Ra sensor for this mission, and even if it took direct sight to tell if someone had the Ra, sometimes Matt thought he could feel glimmers of the Ra in the air, in the wall, in the very space where the Ra had been worked.
Thus, he kept his senses out for the puppeteer (necromancer, Mike insisted, but Matt sided with Brittany in this case) and their work with the Ra.
This was their second week casing the sewers, but this was their first true lead on someone who had been taking dead bodies from the cemetery and animating them. Mike and Matt had undertaken the mission due to their proximity, and Brittany had joined them because she was just that good.
"This still isn't as bad as our first mission," Mike said even as his shoe squelched and he scrunched up his nose.
"No," agreed Brittany, picking out a slug that had dropped in her hair.
Matt frowned. Their first mission together had been during one of their few vacations back in Lima, after Brittany had joined one of the groups of the Ra users who naturally formed. The LXD generally acted as a police force for a majority of the dancers, and Brittany's group was one they had especially good ties with.
So the first mission hadn't been so much a mission as all three of them getting caught in the wrong place at the right time, and they'd taken out a group who'd been performing experiments using the Ra. The beginning had gone completely horribly wrong though, and they'd been among the test subjects but hadn't been put through any of it because of Brittany's special abilities.
"It shouldn't be as bad as that," Matt finally said.
"I can always dance us away from his strings!" Brittany cheered.
Her abilities involved rejecting the use of the Ra on her. Most of the manipulation-based Ra abilities simply slid off of her, though she could do the same thing with weaker attack-based skills. Hopefully, this puppeteer's abilities didn't extend to living beings, but Brittany could probably break that, which is why they'd requested her help.
Besides, in his very private thoughts, he enjoyed the missions he ran with the two of them. Mike's bounciness meshed well with Brittany's cheer, and, though he never really voiced it, he liked the way Brittany's competence showed on the battlefield. It helped remind him of the razor-sharp dancer beneath the bubble.
Matt never doubted Mike's power, though. He would never, not on his life—
Matt cut his thoughts and their chatter off with a raised hand. There was a twinkle across his senses, and slowly his eyes sharpened.
They didn't need words for this.
Mike tilted his head, and Matt nodded. Brittany quieted and tied her sneakers tighter. Matt made sure that his own shoes were all right, and Mike scraped some muck off of his.
As one, they moved in.
Chapter 3: Future Untold
A what-if into a possible future.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and elements of Glee and The LXD; I'm just here to play.
Notes: This was originally written as a continuation of the overall plotline with a major change happening at the end of Glee's S2; unfortunately, I didn't like the plot threads that this spawned. I liked the writing enough to release it though. Canon for Glee up until the end of S2 and the same for The LXD.
Mike screwed up.
He was just as enamored with performing in Nationals as the rest of New Directions. It was the biggest performance he'd been in since he danced for the LXD Elders as his test for Extraordinary level. It was an honor to perform on stage in front of the masses who actually appreciated what they did.
He was so focused on his part that he slipped in his control over his cloaking.
Mike's heart nearly stopped when he felt a flare of the Ra in the audience. No one in the LXD would be here; they were too busy in the battlegrounds all over the world, dealing with the Uprising and the Dark Doctor and everything else that popped up in the recent months. Matt apologized during their last contact, but he'd been in the thick of things in LA. For much the same reasons, none of their other allied or neutral groups could do the same.
The Ra, taken in that context...
Mike had screwed up and drawn the attention of someone.
Mike twisted into a downward spin, leg outstretched. Crushing force slammed onto the woman's head as a hammer from above and took her with it.
He didn't trust how easily she fell.
Mike didn't hesitate in twisting for a follow-up. His other leg fell with the full force of his might, causing the woman's body to bounce on impact, but she didn't so much as twitch. Eyes cold, Mike knelt to look for her pulse.
He almost missed the force blast headed for his head. As it was, Mike had to contort his body awkwardly just to avoid most of it. The rest clipped his face and blew him back several feet.
Pushing past the flaring pain, Mike recovered into another spin and began to charge his attacks. His opponent was another woman who used pop and lock for quick bursts of power. By spinning, Mike could deflect some of the force of these blows, though he knew he'd have bruises later.
He didn't care. He was in his element. The natural high from dancing merged with the rush from fighting to place him in his center, where his body could move with less than a thought. He was focused on the way his body spun and twisted, gaining momentum with each pass.
No matter how many shots his enemy got off, Mike's momentum steadily overcame hers. Her initiative faded to his pattern until she danced to his tune, barely able to counter the slices of force his legs kicked out.
Mike ended it by flipping onto his hands like a top, palms scraping against the ground to unleash all of his power in a decisive cut. She dropped like a marionette released from its strings, never to stand again.
The adrenaline from his battle began to fade, leaving only regret behind.
Regret that his failure led to this.
Regret that he had to leave his Glee family just when they were starting to reach their peak.
Mike favored his left leg as he limped forward to rummage through the body's pockets. Coming across the OX letter he knew would be in there, Mike released a sigh and dug for his cell phone.
The connection clicked on after just one ring. "Mike?"
"Matt," Mike whispered softly.
"Mike, what's the matter?" Blunt and to the point; Matt was always that way when one of his friends was in danger.
"I screwed up and was made by the OX. I need a cleanup and extraction ASAP."
"Where are you?"
Mike put his back against the alleyway wall and rattled the street names off. By the time he slid the ground, he received the indication that a team would be routed back to him within the hour. "Thanks, Yang."
Silence met his answer until Matt said, "How did Nationals go?"
Mike chuckled weakly; he knew what Matt was doing. "We didn't win, but we placed high."
"Tell me about it."
And so Mike did. He related all of the typical drama that led up to Nationals, the hunt for money, the personal struggles, and the endless practicing. He rehashed the mutual drifting apart between him and Tina after prom, which had become their last hurrah. He lamented how much effort it took to teach everyone else the choreography, even with Brittany's help. He talked more and more about every little thing that happened in order to keep his mind off of one thing.
Mike Chang had to disappear.
Now that he'd been found, he couldn't go back. Even if he'd taken out the scouts, their disappearance would draw attention and lead them directly to New Directions, possibly others.
Mike couldn't have that.
In vanishing, he would draw attention away from the Glee club and onto himself. They'd discover that he was a member of the LXD and look no further. And he had to do it fast.
Mike briefly thought about the sightseeing excursion planned for the next day, but he couldn't kid himself.
No, he had to leave.
For the safety of this group of teens who had become nestled inside his heart alongside the LXD.
Of course, Mike wasn't an idiot. He couldn't just up and disappear completely, not without taking his stuff with him. His parents were informed; they were terrified but willing to go with the LXD evacuation procedures.
They'd already uprooted their lives once due to violence; they knew what it took to survive.
Mr. Schuester had a message on his cell stating something to the effect of Mike being picked up by relatives in New York, that they'd pay for Mike's own transportation back to Lima, and gave Mike any out he needed.
Mike finished his text to Brittany, where he said, "I've been made. Watch your back." He knew that she would do what was necessary.
As was he.
When a ballet dancer Mike recognized as Bumblebee danced into view, followed by three men Mike knew as the Observers, he felt a smile cross his face. "Hey guys."
Two of the Observers reached down and picked up a body each; the third assisted Bumblebee in aiding Mike himself. Mike had a silent camaraderie with the Observers, as they were all part of the LXD's covert force. In the future, Mike might even join their much diminished forces and help them avenge their slaughtered brethren. Right now, he felt their quiet chastisement and undercurrent of worry.
Bumblebee, on the other hand, had no qualms about voicing his discontent.
"Yin, what did you do to yourself?"
"The second one got the drop on me," Mike muttered. "I managed to take the first one out before she even saw me though."
The Observer helping him nodded in approval before smacking him upside the head for his lapse in attention. Mike grinned ruefully at the admonishment.
"Tsk tsk. You should know better than to let your guard down." Bumblebee shook his head. "Is there a place you need to go first?"
"I need to grab my stuff from the hotel, but after that I'm free to leave."
"Let's get going then. I'll help these two dispose of the bodies and be back here in fifteen minutes to pick you two up, all right?"
"Two?" The Observer next to him raised an eyebrow at Mike's question, which made him flush in embarrassment. "Oh."
"I'll see you in a bit then." Bumblebee waved in farewell as he began to move.
Mike walked away with the Observer in a flanking position, not even needing to see Bumblebee's dance to know its effect. Bumblebee was one of the LXD's most valuable members, if nothing else than for the rare ability to teleport both short and long distances with or without passengers.
Mike was grateful for it.
He made it back to the hotel without incident, taking to the Observer about various things he'd heard about second hand. His chatter was, not unexpectedly, met with silence, except for when at one point, Mike ribbed, "You don't talk much, do you?"
The Observer replied in a dry voice, "We value the silence, as Yang does. How is it again that you have the name of Yin?"
Mike grinned cheekily but didn't respond.
The Observer took up a watch position at the front entrance. Mike acknowledged this with a nod as he headed to his room, though he wasn't quite able to hide his limp. With any luck, the rest of New Directions would be at their impromptu party for their success.
Of course, just because Mike wasn't an idiot didn't mean that he couldn't occasionally be stupid.
As soon as Mike nudged open the door to his room, he heard Kurt's distracted voice waft out. "Mike, there you are. We were getting worried when you didn't show—what the hell happened?"
Mike blinked in surprise at the curse, matching with Kurt's similarly surprised gaze. He then looked down at himself and winced.
He looked like shit. His clothes were sliced up and dirty, he was favoring one leg, and he had his arm wrapped around his middle. Combined with the fact that Mike could definitely feel his face swelling into a magnificent black eye, Mike couldn't blame Kurt for his reaction.
When he looked to see Kurt's cell phone already in hand, he panicked. "Kurt, no, it's fine!"
"Of course it's not fine! Just look at you! What happened? And don't touch my phone!" Kurt snapped after a particularly flaily attempt of Mike's to stop him.
"I'm in one piece!" Mike retorted.
"'I'm in one piece,'" Kurt mimed. "'I'm in one piece!' is all you can say? What happened, Mike? Did you get jumped or something?" Kurt's brow furrowed when he didn't respond, and then he repeated in a voice that shot up alongside his eyebrows, "You got jumped?"
Well, it was an accurate assessment of the situation, if only part of the story. Mike shrugged and said, "They didn't make off with anything of mine, so it's fine."
"But look at—hey!" In his distraction, Mike snatched Kurt's cell from his hand and deleted the half-finished text to Mercedes on it. "Mike Chang, what did I say about my phone?"
"Kurt, Kurt, listen to me." The absolute gravity in Mike's voice demanded Kurt's attention. It wasn't a tone he used with New Directions—only those who knew him as Yin had heard it before. "I need you trust me. You trust me, Kurt, right?"
Mike held Kurt's searching gaze unflinchingly. They backed each other to the hilt in New Directions. Hell, Mike had always been the first to work with or dance next to Kurt in whatever piece they were working on. Mike had never done anything to Kurt even before Glee. He thought that they rocked an awesome friendship together, even if they didn't regularly hang out.
So when Kurt finally said, "Yes," Mike released a sigh of relief.
"Then don't tell anyone that you saw me like this." He saw Kurt immediately start to protest but overrode him. "No one, Kurt. Please."
Kurt was dead silent as Mike grabbed his suitcase and, having never really unpacked, headed for the door. Face expressionless, Kurt asked quietly, "Are you in trouble, Mike?"
"No," he responded. Kurt's eyes flashed.
"Then where are you going?" he demanded.
"I'm heading to my uncle's place." Mike's shoulders tightened almost imperceptibly. He didn't have the time to argue.
But as he gazed back at Kurt, who looked worried and a little lonely in spite of himself, Mike realized the enormity of what he was doing.
This was the last chance he'd get to see New Directions. What had started off as an undercover operation had turned into so much more, in spite of all that Mike had been taught.
This was the last chance he'd get to be with Finn and all of his puppy-doggish attention, with Rachel and her shining intensity. The last chance with to see Puck's startling growth alongside the melting Lauren. The last time to see Sam slowly learn that he had a place on the team, or to see Quinn remind herself of the same. That the last time he would see Santana's burgeoning acceptance of herself or Mercedes's resolute confidence in her identity would be today. He wouldn't see Tina continue to grow out of her shell, nor would he see Artie do the same with his arrogance. It would be the last time he would have Kurt's back and in turn have him at his.
Even though he would have Brittany, who would continue running missions with him, and Matt, who was his other in the organization, and even though it was entirely stupid of him, Mike heard himself say, "For what it's worth, tell them all I'm sorry."
He didn't glance back to see the effect that it would have on Kurt as he walked out of the door and out of the hotel. The Observer nodded at him as they quickly made their way back to the alley, where Bumblebee waited impatiently. The dancer said, "It's about time. Let's head out."
Yin nodded. "Yes, let's go."