Author's Notes: Every time I attempted to rewrite this, I failed. So finally I just kept most of the original version intact while changing the verb tenses and adding a little bit of banter. If you've read the previous incarnation of this fic, it should look very familiar.
EDIT: Thank you to the wonderful fuzzytale who found all my verb tense mistakes. I'm a little embarrassed at how many I managed to miss (or even add -_-).
"I think we should show Teddy the video," Mr. Kaplan said in one of those inevitable lulls in the conversation. They had just finished dinner. Teddy had been showing up more and more often since his mother's death, and Mrs. Kaplan had never turned away someone who needed food.
"What video?" Billy asked.
"The one from your first grade play."
Billy made a face. Both of Billy's brothers suddenly looked up from the table. "Awesome," said the youngest one. It was their sudden joyful glee that clued Teddy in that this was something more than a bad home movie.
"What tape is this?" Teddy asked. Billy put his head down on the table and made a soft, pleading noise.
"Jeff, you are only doing this out of a sense of parental vindictiveness and an urge to embarrass our oldest child. I'm not sure I should allow it," Mrs. Kaplan said, coming out from the kitchen.
"I have three words for you, dear. The Park Incident."
Mrs. Kaplan made a face and sighed. "Go ahead then. I'll make popcorn."
"Everyone to the living room." Both of Billy's brother practically vaulted into the other room, sitting down on the carpet right in front of the TV until Mrs. Kaplan told them to move unless they wanted to ruin their eyesight. That got them a whole four feet away from the screen. Billy sat on the couch as well, immediately going into the 'I'm going to die from embarrassment' fetal curl. Teddy sat next him, still confused, but willing to go along with it.
Mr. Kaplan put an old video cassette tape into the VCR. "Teddy, I have been waiting for years for this." He pushed the play button.
The screen was pitch black for a few seconds before a picture came on. It was obviously a hand held camcorder. The colors were slightly off and it took a few seconds for things to come into focus. The camera focused on a stage with a large red curtain across it. Occasionally, the curtain would sway and faint giggles could be heard.
"Shouldn't it have started already?" Mr. Kaplan's slightly distorted voice came from the TV's speakers. Teddy guessed he was the one with the camera.
"Hush." That was Mrs. Kaplan. "The Pierces said these things always start a little late."
Teddy guessed that the Kaplans were about three rows back from the stage. People were still sitting down in front of them and the faint echo of someone coughing was picked up by the microphone.
All of the lights except those on the stage dimmed. Everyone immediately settled down and the talking stopped. The curtains opened. Standing on the stage was a young, terrified kid who stared wide-eyed at the audience. Some of the parents started shifting in their seats as the silence stretched. Then the kid started yelling his lines in a tone of voice that said that someone, somewhere had told him to speak loudly so people could hear him.
"WELCOME TO OUR JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON PLAY. MRS. BEAMAN'S FIRST GRADE CLASS FROM SPRINGLAND PRIVATE ACADEMY HOPES YOU WILL ENJOY THIS PLAY EXPLORING THE MANY WAYS PEOPLE CELEBRATE THE JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON. LET US START NOW BY LOOKING AT THE FIRST SNOW FALL OF THE SEASON."
The kid bolted off stage. There was polite laughter from the audience.
"Now there's a kid with stage fright," Mr. Kaplan said on the tape. That earned him a brief "don't stifle their individuality" speech from Mrs. Kaplan until a series of first graders filed onto stage. The next scene was pretty normal, with kids dressed as... kids and some girls dressed as ballerinas pretending to be snowflakes.
It seemed like this was going to be a pretty ordinary bad first grade winter play. Teddy wondered why this was such a big deal, but figured that Billy would show up eventually. He could laugh appropriately when it happened and make Billy's parents happy that they got to embarrass their son in front of his boyfriend.
He wished, just briefly, that his own mom was still alive. Even if it meant she'd pull out the picture of him running naked down the street when he was six and old enough to know better. Then Teddy shook it off and concentrated on the play.
The dancing snowflakes and children headed off-stage. A little girl in a pink dress with fairy wings, a black witch's hat and a broom with a stuffed cat attached with duct tape came on stage. Teddy blinked.
"What is..." Before Teddy could finish his question, the little girl started giving an obviously rehearsed speech about how her family was Wiccan and they celebrated the Winter Solstice. "My mommies say that real witches don't wear hats, but I do because I'm going to be a fairy princess witch when I grow up."
The little girl got on her broom and proceeded to run around the stage like she was flying. There is applause from one corner and Mr. Kaplan panned a little to the corner of the audience where two extremely butch women were clapping and cooing over their precious little girl. People in the audience were trying their best not to laugh, but quite a few were snickering.
"It was a very interesting school," Billy said by way of explanation.
"I can see," Teddy said in between laughs.
"Springland had the highest educational record at the time," Mrs. Kaplan said. She sat down in one of the chairs and handed out bowls of popcorn. "I think they still are in the top ten." Billy took one of the bowls of popcorn and offered Teddy some. "It was a very diverse school."
"Full of loonies," Billy muttered under his breath. Teddy took some popcorn and began eating it. He almost choked when the next act came on. Then he was laughing, helplessly, at the TV screen.
A younger Billy dressed in a huge foam menorah costume that had been spray painted gold walked out onto stage. At his side was another dark haired kid dressed as a dreidel. It was obvious that Billy was less than pleased to be in the costume. "I am a menorah. I am a symbol of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah." Teddy was holding his sides he was laughing so hard.
The next kid began speaking. "I am the dreidel. I like to SPIN! SPIN! SPIN!" The kid started wildly spinning around and continued to do so while Billy gave a short speech about Hanukkah. Teddy tried to pay attention to what little Billy was saying, but it was hard with dreidel boy zooming around the stage.
"You know, Jake threw up during rehearsal he was spinning so much," Billy commented. Billy's brothers started cheering "Spin! Spin! Spin!" as they laughed. Eventually little Billy stomped off stage, obviously disgusted with Jake the dreidel.
The next group of kids included a Mary, Joseph, an angel, and a cabbage patch kid as baby Jesus. The dreidel was still spinning in the background chanting "Spin! Spin! Spin!" as he went. Somehow, and Teddy wasn't quite sure how, the other first graders are managing to ignore him.
This at least is familiar territory for Teddy, even if he never really attended church. It's telling the story of Jesus's birth. Just as Teddy thought things would return to normal Mary marched up the manger and spiked baby Jesus. Then she did a funky touchdown dance. People in the audience started laughing uproariously. Jake the dreidel tottered drunkenly, yelled "Dizzy..." and passed out on stage.
"Baby Jesus was born in a stable because there were no rooms in the inn. My daddy said to carry him like a football," Mary proclaimed.
"Richard!" came a cry from the audience. The camera was shaking slightly from where Mr. Kaplan was laughing.
The rest of the kids on stage got over their shock and did their spiel about the Christmas story. Just as they finished Jake the dreidel wobbled to his feet. There was spontaneous applause from some of the parents. Jake looked at the audience, smiled, and then yelled "SPIN!" before continuing his spinning routine. Joseph grabbed baby Jesus and ran off stage. Mary and the angel followed.
Eventually some teacher came on stage and physically hauled Jake the dreidel off. He was yelling "SPIN! SPIN! NOOOOOOOO! SPIN!" the entire time.
Mr. Kaplan whispered "Go dreidel boy, go," which the camera picked up perfectly. Teddy's laughter started to wind down. Billy was trying to smother himself with a pillow. Teddy took it away from Billy.
"I can't let you suffocate yourself with a pillow. It goes against superhero code," Teddy explained as he wrapped his arms around the pillow to keep Billy from stealing it back.
"My hero," Billy said dryly.
Next was a group featuring Santa and a reindeer with a red clown nose on. There was a little bit about how Santa used to be a Saint, but now he was a purely secular representation of Christmas. Then there was silence.
And more silence.
The kid playing Santa kept shooting looks at the reindeer. Eventually Santa kid got tired of waiting and walked off stage. Rudolf sat down on stage. "My mom said that Santa and his reindeer are just the commercialization of what's supposed to be Jesus's celebration and she refuses to participate. I'M NOT GETTING ANY PRESENTS." And so the wailing began.
"Just wait. The best part is coming up," Mr. Kaplan told Teddy. He wasn't quite sure how this play could get any better, but he was willing to be convinced.
A little girl with blonde curls and a blue lacy dress came onto stage. In her hands was a brightly wrapped present. An arm reached out from behind the curtain on the side of the stage, trying to pull her back off, but she dodged it. "But it's my turn!" she yelled at the person off stage. The girl flounced up to the front of the stage, where miserable Rudolf was still wailing, and smiled. It was obvious, at least to Teddy, that the girl had been in a few too many pageants.
"I am the Spirit of Charity. During this joyous holiday season... SHUT UP! YOU'RE RUINING MY LINES... we should make an effort to remember those less fortunate. THIS IS MY SCENE. STOP IT." Every time the girl started screaming, she started beating the miserable Rudolf with her present. By the end of it, the box was smashed.
One of the parents next to the Kaplans commented "At least they didn't give her a Salvation Army bell." Teddy could no longer make any sound, he was laughing so hard.
After the Spirit of Charity was done beating the miserable reindeer, the curtains were closed. A teacher came out from the back and told the parents they were setting up for the final act. The teacher also took the time to thank Dr. and Mrs. Conway for the donation of the tree. When the curtains opened again, a set of low risers and an 18ft tall Christmas tree were on stage. Teddy whistled. The tree was absolutely decked in lights, ornaments, and garland. It must have cost a small fortune just to decorate the tree, never mind have it shipped into New York City.
A group of kids in school uniforms marched on stage with bells in their hands. It was a bell choir. Younger Billy was standing towards the end of the first row, holding onto his one bell like someone was going to take it from him at any second.
"There was going to be a scene before this about New Years, but the kid who was supposed to dress up like a baby insisted on wearing Spider-man underwear and me and him kept getting into fights about who was the better superhero," Billy said as they waited for the grand finale. "He kept trying to steal my bell."
"He rang that bell for days before this play and we couldn't make him stop because it would stifle his creativity," Mr. Kaplan added. "They decided to for go the bell choir part after this."
"Why?" Teddy asked. One of Billy's brothers smiled up at him.
Teddy started wondering if he could get copies of this tape without losing his boyfriend in the process.
After a minute or two of shuffling from the kids, the song started. In keeping with the theme of the play, it was some secular, non-offensive song. They bell choir was so bad that it took Teddy a whole minute to realize to was supposed to be Jingle Bells.
Half way through the song, this inhuman wail started up off stage. Suddenly Jake, still in his dreidel costume, came flying on stage yelling "SPIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!" There was a gasp from the audience. He disappeared behind the bell choir and closely followed by a loud THWAP sound. The 18ft Christmas tree shook and then started to teeter. A few ornaments fell to the stage in a shatter of breaking glass. "Oh my god," someone said.
"Spin," Mr. Kaplan whispered almost reverently in the video.
Almost in slow motion, the Christmas tree went down, taking out half the bell choir in the process. The parents were on their feet, blocking part of the stage from the camera. Kids were screaming and struggling to get out of the tree. Mrs. Kaplan could be heard asking "Is anyone hurt?"
Billy was one of the few that had managed to avoid being engulfed by the Frasier fir and sensing that he was now center stage, was ringing his bell for all he was worth.
The rest of the video was kind of jerky as Mr. Kaplan got out of his seat and tried to zoom in on the destruction. Kids were crying, but no one seemed hurt. "Turn that video off right now! We are not showing this to William. It will crush his young and fragile sense of self-worth. No one is going to see it."
"I don't know," Mr. Kaplan said, the microphone picking up his voice perfectly. "I think the insurance company might be interested in viewing it."
"If only they'd kept that promise," Billy said under his breath.
The video abruptly stopped. Billy's brothers were still laughing on the floor. Teddy turned to Billy and said words Billy never wanted to hear in his life.
"We have got to show this to the others."