A/N: Written for this prompt on the glee_angst_meme: "Can we give someone unexpected an eating disorder? Like Finn or Will?", and one of my prompts for hc_bingo , which was "eating disorders." If you can't guess, potentially triggery.
Dysmorphia and Other Words I Don't Understand
It starts with the baby.
He does what you may expect from the situation; he splurges on food and mopes. He's terrified – he's sixteen, he's not a dad! He doesn't even really have a dad! He can't do this. This doesn't even make sense – it's not like he ever actually slept with her. From what little he remembers of health classes, he thinks this... Quinn wouldn't lie to him. They're having a baby.
His mother watches him warily, and when he looks down, the spread of food all over the coffee table surprises him. Quinn won't like that – she's always gone off at him about eating too much; he's never really cared about that other than the effect of, you know, making Quinn pissed at him. Still, he thinks he should be making an effort – they are having a fucking baby, he should keep her happy. It's not like they can break up now, right? That wouldn't be fair to their kid. It won't be fair to their kid either if he turns fat, stops being the kind of dad able to do stuff with them, like take them out to play football or whatever. Or if he dies young of a heart attack or something.
This is doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense (and relies on the idea of Quinn keeping the baby), but it makes the mushed up food in his stomach feel like slime, and that's really really gross. He feels sick. He wants this out, all of it.
And somehow he winds up slumped over the toilet bowl with his fingers down his throat. He coughs and gags, and this is starting to hurt – he wants to take his fingers out, but the discomfort from them versus the discomfort from the muck inside him have a brief-yet-epic war, and the muck is kicking his ass more. So he stays there, intermittently jabbing at his tonsils – wow, he'd never have thought this was so hard from watching girls do this on TV – until it all finally comes out, a sludge of browny-yellow hitting the water.
He leans back up, eyes stinging and red with tears. He hopes his mom didn't hear anything, and flushes.
Finn's too stupid to lie. Even to himself. He knows exactly what this is – it's an eating disorder, the exact same reason Mom always frowns when Quinn reads those girly magazines at their house. Their are other names for it too, but he can't remember what they are – there's the one where you just starve yourself, and the one where you're eating then upchucking all over the place, and as far as he remembers they were both really hard to spell. However, he seems to be caught somewhere between the two, so it doesn't really matter.
No-one notices when he stops bringing his lunch to school. His mother doesn't hear him puking in the bathroom after dinner. Quinn doesn't notice the way he stabs at his food whenever they do anything together.
It's kind of starting to piss him off.
He really hopes Rachel isn't paying attention to how he keeps sneaking off to the bathroom every five minutes to throw up what pizza he could stomach. She probably thinks he has like, major bladder control issues or something.
He really doesn't want to be doing this. He likes Rachel, too much for his own good – he doesn't want to hurt her. When she finds out he used her, she'll be pissed, and it'll suck. He doesn't want to do this, but he kind of has to – Quinn and the baby and everything. It's really unfair, because he's just trying to be a good dad; he has to do the wrong thing to do the right thing, and that's just really fucking confusing.
But he does it, because that is what Finn Hudson does – he plays the nice guy, he does what he can to support everyone. Because they are always going to need his support for something or other; always going 'Oh, Finn!' every time something goes wrong. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. He isn't just meant to be the good dad to his unborn kid, oh no; he is all things to everyone, he is the boyfriend and the best friend and the jock and the gleek and the secret crush and the devoted son and do they not have a fucking clue the kind of pressure he's under? That's kind of how he wound up here!
He goes back to the alley, where Rachel sits, waiting for him. He's pretty sure his breath still smells like vomit, but she doesn't seem to notice. One last slice of pizza hangs between them.
"Do you want it?" he immediately offers, because a) he's not a douche, and b) the sight of all that grease and fat is making him feel sick.
She shakes her head. "No. I'm quite full, and besides – a star always has to watch her figure."
He nods mindlessly, and bites in. It is pretty good pizza.
Then he sneaks off to the bathroom again.
Mrs. Schuester is... kind of terrifying, for a nurse. He really just wants to sleep (something at the back of his head is reminding him he's tired because you get energy from food), but she won't let him. She winds up kind of going off at him and giving him drugs. Uh... okay.
The vitamin D feels pretty good, actually – he's happy and he's awake and he no longer feels like the word is going to squish him into oblivion. Plus, their mash-up kicks ass.
And he is really fucking hungry.
No, like, really hungry. Even for him. How long has it been since he ate a meal properly, two days? Three? He winds up chowing down on pretty much everything he can see; everyone takes a few steps back and blinks. Quinn snaps at him. Puck just snorts. His mother winds up asking if he was replaced by a wolf and she just didn't notice.
Quinn snaps at him. This isn't what she wants. This isn't what the baby needs.
Once the effects wear off, he just feels sick, like he is about to burst and all the crap he's eaten will just ooze out of him like sewerage or something – ew. He does what he always does, he runs off to the bathroom and winds up barfing at all up. He barely pays attention to the burn in his throat or how bleary his eyes get anymore.
He does pay attention, however, when he hears his mother knocking on the door. "Finn? Did you just throw up?"
Ohshitohshitohshit, he is so screwed.
"Uh huh," he says dumbly. "I guess I just... ate something bad."
He really sucks at lying.
"Sure, Finn. I told you you shouldn't eat all that junk that quick – look what happened."
She walks away, and he grimaces down at the toilet bowl. For the first time, one thought manifests clearly in his head:
I need help.
He's trying. Really, he is – he wants to be the good father and the good boyfriend, but whenever he tries Quinn just goes off at him again. It's not her fault – the pregnancy hormones are making her pretty crazy, and he can be kind of an idiot – but still, it sucks. He doesn't know what she was. Then Rachel tells him about what she did to keep Jacob Ben Israel posting that Quinn story, and Finn feels kind of terrible, because he's already hurt her once – does she really need to do this crap for his (and Quinn's) sake?
He manages to avoid breakfast and lunch for a couple days – his mom is usually out working by the time he gets up, and nobody bats an eye when he turns away from the school lunch food. He sits with his jock group at lunch, all the while thinking Hey, I'm not eating. Why is nobody noticing I'm not eating? Is somebody going to call me out because I'm not eating?
On the third day, he stumbles and falls – buys some crap for lunch. He doesn't enjoy it much, feels guilty, and winds up slouched over the toilet bowl puking his guts out. He kind of knew he was going to do this all along – still, there's something filling about the feeling of having actually eaten, throwing it up just gets rid of the nasty side effects.
There's something wrong about that thought process, but Finn's not sure what it is.
He's just gotten out of the bathroom stall and is turning the tap on when Puck bursts in. "Dude, immediate Glee rehearsal. I don't get it either, just go."
Finn prays he got the water on quickly enough that Puck won't notice what was up with his hand, or that the water is turning an icky yellow-brown in the sink. Puck doesn't. "Hold on a second, man," Finn says and they go.
The immediate Glee rehearsal isn't so much a 'rehearsal' as 'undermining the crazy war Ms. Sylvester and Mr. Schue are making about this' but still, it's fun. Finn doesn't sing though. He's pretty sure he's still got vomit on his teeth.
He feels pretty awful when Puck and Rachel get together – he probably doesn't have a right to, but it hurts. He knows Rachel likes him, and Puck is his best friend, and there is something generally wrong with this situation. Didn't Puck say she made him want to set himself on fire anyway?
They talk about it, Finn pretending to be a lot less unjustifiably-pissed than he is. Puck shrugs. "Well, my mom was going off at me about dating a Jewish girl... and Rachel's a hot Jew. Plus, she's kind of awesome when you're with her a bit."
Finn presses his lips together, and looks down at his body. He looks like a blob. He feels too heavy, too big to ever be good for anything – it shows in his dancing, even; he just has so much to lug around that he can't quite manage it and it looks horrible. No wonder Rachel went for Puck, smaller, lean, but not girly – and wow, Finn's blaming his romantic woes on the fact he's too fat. He is such a girl.
"You wanna order another pizza, dude?" Puck asks, snapping Finn back to reality. He shakes his head.
This is really fucking hard.
This responsibility thing – Quinn keeps harassing him about how he's not doing enough, he needs to give her money, he needs to help more, and he's trying but nothing seems to work. Every time he goes to an interview, he keeps thinking they're looking at his body, too big in every direction. He starves himself for a week before each interview, but it doesn't do any good – maybe he's too far gone?
The bake sale is just cruel; all those lovely cupcakes, right there for him. It's okay until Puck comes in with his grandma's old recipe – Finn fucking hates him sometimes. There are so many people, who want so much, and these cupcakes must be so good, and fuck, fuck, fuck. Quinn still won't let up on him, and he tries to use that as a reminder of how he's meant to be better, but it doesn't really work.
He winds up left alone with the remaining cupcakes. One won't hurt – well, it probably will, but he can get rid of it – and he is so hungry. He eats one. Then another. And another. His stomach is screaming at him, begging him to feed it, and he wants to stop but he can't; more more more, more more more. He winds up with wrappers all over the floor, pink icing smeared over his mouth and fuck, fuck, fuck. He feels horrible; not only is he a fat, greedy piece of shit, he's a fat, greedy, thieving piece of shit! They were meant to sell these to raise money for Artie's special bus thing; now they might not have enough money, and what if Artie gets really depressed and does something stupid?
Finn's stomach clenches – fucking traitor made him do this. Autopilot sends him to the bathroom, puking his guts out, and he sighs. He still doesn't feel much better.
He doesn't do it on purpose – he just wanted to help. Lying makes his head spin, and if he could put an end to any of it, he wanted to stop lying to the Fabrays – Kurt said it was a good idea, encouraged him, and Finn never expected they would actually kick Quinn out. He had met the Fabrays before, and they always seemed nice – like they loved her enough to understand and forgive her. Maybe Finn's just naive, he doesn't know.
Quinn cries. They sit in his car, unsure what to do, while he bundles her in his arms and lets her sob her heart out.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he keeps whispering into her golden hair. She's too good for him.
"It's not your fault," she eventually replies, voice still pitchy and broken. "You did what I should have done months ago. Told the truth," she sighs, pulls back and wipes her eyes. "At least it's over with them now. No more waiting for the bomb to drop."
"Do you think your mom will let me say with you for a while?"
"Yeah," and because Finn knows he lucked out with getting an awesome mom, he's pretty sure she will. Quinn smiles.
She leans in to hug him again, holding on so tight he thinks she's worried she may just float away – he's half-worried about her leaving bruises. She frowns against his neck and he feels it.
"You've gotten thinner," she murmurs.
Something shoots down his spine and he figures it out – he can't keep doing this. The eating-or-lack-thereof thing. It will make Quinn panic and worry about him, and he's kind of being pathetic with it anyway, and he knows he can't give her any more stress.
He manages to eat properly for a week. He relapses and purges his dinner after he goes to Rachel's, and she dresses up like that. He feels terrible; he likes her a lot – it ways that are okay and that are not okay – and he's caused her pain again, he's humiliated her, and just... she's too good for him too.
He's okay for another two weeks. Then everything kind of goes to hell, and it's so totally not his fault.
After the Truth (capitalized, definitely) comes out, he kind of spirals out of control. He's not sure he keeps two solid pieces of food down over the entire winter break – hell, only eats about five things in total, and purges over half. He manages to hide most of his food over Christmas lunch, and apart from that, no-one really pays attention.
He passes out a couple of days after Christmas, but his mom doesn't put it together. She just brings him to his room and lets him sleep, saying something about the amount of stress he's been under.
He starts writing down what he eats; it's a bit cliched (he looked that word up after Rachel said it; he wanted to stop feeling like an idiot around her), but he thinks it might help. Like it will make him able to remember what he's eaten and when, so he'll know when it's okay to eat more. But he keeps forgetting to write things down, and oh god, that book is where he's getting the five figure from, and what if he's just forgotten everything he ate, so he's basing what's okay and what's not on a false idea, and he'll wind up–
He really wishes he could stop panicking like this. He starves himself a generous amount more than the book really says he needs to, you know, just to be safe.
He is so fucked up.
He starts dating Rachel, but it gets so hard, because, well, she's crazy. She has all these expectations, and wants, and he's never been good with those. He tries, but she keeps going on about being a star – that doesn't do him much good; he just keep thinking, if she's a star, he has to keep up and be good enough for her, and he doesn't think he is. He wasn't for Quinn, right? Bet that's why she did it. She was just too tired of her fat, moronic lug of a boyfriend she fucked his best friend. That'd teach him.
Rachel still doesn't notice when he keeps running off to the bathroom every five minutes during their dates.
Then he gets really stupid – maybe he can blame it on his starved brain – and breaks up with her. She sings that song and it's just fucking humiliating. Yes, he had it coming – what doesn't he? – but it stings, and they're looking at him again.
The date with Brittany and Santana goes badly, to say the least. He doesn't eat anything – they call him out even less than Rachel did.
This is really starting to get on his nerves.
He doesn't mean to do it. Well, he does – it's not like he slipped and fell and wound up having sex with her. That sounds kind of painful, honestly. He's not that sure why he does it – possibly because he's tired of being the loser virgin (who was dumb enough to believe he got a girl pregnant anyway). Possibly because he wants to make Rachel jealous. Doesn't matter, he supposes.
Beforehand, he sort of... hides in the bathroom. Puck would make fun of him for this. It's probably a bad idea to be in this room, with a mirror before doing this, but...
He looks at his reflection; swollen and bloated, pretty much making it impossible to see the reflection of the room. Fuck it. It's been months now and nothing's helped; he looks as bad as ever. If not worse. He wants to go throw up (has he even eaten anything today?), but Santana would hear that, and he won't risk her finding out.
She knocks loudly on the door. "Finn! Get your big ass out here!"
He swallows and does so.
Afterward, he looks down awkwardly at his hands, while she just lingers. She wants a burger.
He wants to be sick.
He kind of wants to tell his mother she's Not Helping.
No, he can't fully elaborate what she's not helping with, but this is pissing him off. He can't do this. His daddy issues are just another layer in the mess that is his brain, and he'd really just rather leave them alone right now. Burt Hummel is a cool guy, but Finn doesn't want to deal. Plus – and he can't admit this one, because it sounds really douchey – but Kurt is kind of creepy.
He manages to push his mother to breaking down and crying – fuck, he didn't mean to do that – and it sinks in. This isn't about him, and he was just being stupid and selfish (that's unusual how?). So he makes an effort, does stuff with Burt – it all seems pretty cool, for now.
He watches Mercedes.
Not in a creepy, stalkerish way – he's not into her like that – but he sees what's going on, before anyone else does. The Cheerios need her smaller, and she's willing to do anyone to bow to that demand – it makes Finn wince a little, to see it from an outside point of view. He wonders if he should talk to her, but he realizes he doesn't have a clue what to say - "Good job, you're better at this than me, have a sticker?"
He doesn't even have any stickers.
He feels sorry for Mercedes. And proud. And projection-y.
He watches as everyone's heads snap back onto their necks; they all look at her and see what she's doing. Yeah, Finn's jealous – he's known all along that what he's doing is crazy and dangerous, and it's not like he's been particularly subtle about it (he's a terrible liar), so he doesn't know why it's so much easier for everyone to see Mercedes than him. He watches as Quinn talks Mercedes out of it, and that's so unfair, because Quinn was his girlfriend – and angry part of his brain blames her for the whole damn thing – so if she's meant to notice anyone's major food problem, it should have been his.
Still, given how hard he's trying to hide this, he should consider himself lucky.
He wants everyone to know. And he doesn't want anyone to know. He wants everyone to think he's okay. And he wants to spell it out with big flashing neon letters, screaming I AM NOT OKAY I AM STARVING MYSELF TO DEATH AND MY LIFE SUCKS, HELP ME.
He finds Brittany on the bleachers after Mercedes sings 'Beautiful', and everyone leaves.
"I think this dirt has pixies living in it. It keeps moving," Brittany says.
"Um. Okay," Finn says, sitting down beside her. "Is Ms. Sylvester mad about, y'know, the thing with Mercedes? And how you guys all kind of went behind her back?"
Brittany shrugs. "She seems happy. Something about that magazine guy."
Finn nods, and Brittany takes a gulp out of her water bottle. She grimaces. "Ew."
"Is that the stuff, that uh, Ms. Sylvester told you to drink? The stuff Mercedes was trying to exist on."
"Mm-hm. It's awful," Brittany says brightly. "Want some."
He nods, and she passes him the bottle. He takes one sip and gags. "Fuck! What is that?"
Brittany frowns. "Can't remember. The sand makes it less icky, I know that."
"...Okay," Finn says, staring down at the red-and-white bottle in his hand. Anything that bad has to be good for you, as his mom would say. He pulls a face, raises it to his lips and takes a longer gulp. Then a few more gulps. He feels like his throat turned into a nuclear testing site, but that's okay.
"You can keep it, you know."
It takes a few seconds for Finn to realize Brittany just said that. "I can?"
She shrugs. "You're fatter than me."
"Plus, you're really pretty."
Moving in with the Hummels is just making him really uncomfortable – he keeps thinking Kurt is watching him, which... doesn't seem unreasonable. Yes, Kurt is provided with Sue's crazy apocalyptogade as a Cheerio, which makes it a lot easier to get his hands on then relying on Brittany (Kurt won't drink it after the mess with Mercedes, so he doesn't notice), but it's a small comfort. He can't handle any more stress, and Kurt is stress, and those guys ripping the shit out of him all the damn time is stress, and just fuck.
He didn't mean to say it. Really, he didn't – he was trying to talk about the furniture. He thinks.
Okay, lie – he was trying to get to Kurt, whatever way he could. Just because he's so fucking sick of having to deal with him, all the time, his flirting and his planning and their parents getting together suspiciously coincidentally...
Fuck, he's a terrible person.
Burt kicks him out, and Finn kind of wonders where he's meant to go. Most people would go to a friend's house during an episode like this, but he doesn't have any friends he doesn't think are closer to Kurt, and would pick his side – actually, when Finn thinks about it, he's not sure he has friends period.
He's hungry. He hasn't eaten properly for a couple of days.
Finn thinks about it more, and comes to a realization – it's awkward and uncomfortable, but they were best friends once and that's the only place to go in times like this. Besides, Puck kind of can't kick him out because Puck obviously still owes him for like, ever.
"Finn?" Puck asks when he shows up. Finn gets to start the feeling this was a dumb idea.
"This doesn't mean we're just okay," he blurts out. He tries to ignore the tiniest fragment of hurt in Puck's eyes, which he is obviously trying hard to repress. "It's just... Burt kicked me out. I need somewhere to stay."
He sees Quinn watching him from the stairs, and grits his teeth.
"Come in," says Puck.
He winds up sleeping on the couch. Quinn avoids him, and nobody asks what happened, which Finn is happy for – while Puck is probably the least likely person he knows to get pissed about what happened, the thought of telling makes him feel sick, and he thinks Quinn would overhear and get pissed,
She says about two words to him. "Hi, Finn."
"Hi," he replies. He doesn't say what his head keeps whispering.
This is all your fault.
He doesn't even know what 'this' is.
It comes to a head once Burt lets him back in, after he stands up for Kurt against those jerks. Finn knows he's already on shaky ground, and he's really, really trying – but Burt keeps looking like he's considering feeding him to wild geese, and his mom looks disappointed (Finn's never been able to deal with that) and the stress is really not doing him any good.
Even if he was eating properly, he doubts he'd be able to keep it down with the sick feeling in his stomach. So whatever.
Unfortunately, he and Kurt are still stuck sharing a room – it's a little less uncomfortable now (well, okay not really, but Finn can't admit that), but it means Kurt has full access to his stuff.
Kurt finds the book.
"What are you reading?" Finn asks, slowly walking down the stairs. He's only vaguely concentrating on the fact his stomach is gurgling like some kind of evil swamp monster.
"Oh, nothing," Kurt says, but there's a hitch in his voice. Detective Finn is suspicious. "Book I found."
Finn comes closer down, a weird feeling settling in his bones. "What's it about?"
He sees the book clearly just in time for Kurt to say "You tell me."
Finn's mouth goes dry. "Kurt–"
"Your spelling isn't making this all that easy to read, but from what I discern? It's not a pretty picture," Kurt says, standing up and snapping the book shut. "The skipping meals? The hiding food? The puking? That stuff with what Ms. Sylvester gave me; I thought that might be going missing, but I didn't make anything of it – Finn, did we learn nothing from Mercedes?"
Finn tries his best not to hyperventilate. "Kurt, just give me–" he reaches out for the book, but Kurt snatches it away.
"No, Finn, this happens far too often with my friends."
"Give me the book!" Finn looses his temper, leaning forward and snatching it away, causing Kurt to stumble and lose his balance slightly he stays standing up, and looks Finn dead in the eye.
"Finn, give me that back. I'm showing it to our parents."
"No you are not!" he yells.
"Then I'm telling them!" and Kurt starts running for the stairs – Finn yanks hard on his wrist to bring him back, just as their parents come running down the stairs at all the noise.
"Hey, what in the hell is going on here?" barks Burt, sounding just as mad as he did that time, and oh god–
"Nothing, if he'd just give me my book back–"
"He's not eating!" Kurt cuts in, clutching the book close. "Check for yourselves," he says, and foists the book on Finn's mom, who opens the pages and gapes. Everyone goes still, just sort of staring at Finn, who does the only think he can think to do.
He bursts into tears.
Eventually, he lets Kurt do all the explaining, even when his tears have cleared up. It's a bit pathetic, but he really has no idea how to put the whole thing into words. Fuck, it's kinda close to a year now; how is he meant to explain that?
"He tried writing down what he ate – or more specifically, didn't – in this. He didn't do it in great detail but, well, there's Finn for you. This book seems to start around when we had sectionals; given the stress from the betrayal of Puck and Quinn, it's not surprising that was when–"
"It was earlier than that," Finn mutters.
Kurt blinks. "Excuse me."
"Earlier. It started... when I found out Quinn was pregnant. I just... freaked. When I figured out the truth it just... kinda got worse."
They all stare down at him with these gut-wrenching pitying expressions. His mom looks like she might just drop dead of pain on the spot, and that just makes him feel like the biggest piece of shit ever to live. "Mom, I am so sorry," he whimpers at her.
"Oh Finn!" she says, fluttering down to his side and wrapping him in her arms as tight as possible. He's not crying anymore, but he holds on tight anyway.
"I knew how stupid I was being," he confides. "I knew it was crazy and dangerous and dumb; we heard enough horror stories about chicks doing this in health class, but... I don't know, it just felt like something I needed to do, you know? Even if I knew it wasn't okay, it felt... kind of out of control. Like I was screaming out to all of you, 'Hi, my name is Finn Not-Okay Hudson.'"
"I can't believe it," Burt mutters. "Did not see this one coming, kid."
"We should have," Kurt says, then pauses for a few seconds to think. "Well, I should have. You probably should have too, Carole."
"Dude–" Finn bursts in to defend her, but Kurt just goes on.
"You weren't exactly subtle, Finn! When I think about it, the signs were all over the place, we were just too dumb to see it. You stopped having lunch at school months ago. People overheard you throwing up in the bathrooms way too often. I saw that crap Sylvester gave me was disappearing, I wasn't drinking it; who did I think was drinking it, the Oompa-Loompas?" Kurt takes a pause to breathe deeply. "If it was one of the girls – or me – we would have figured it out in four months, tops, but you didn't fit the cliche. We let you down, Finn. I'm sorry."
Finn doesn't answer – he can't. He can't say they did, because that would hurt them all and he'd feel even more like crap than usual. But he can't say no, because... honestly, he kind of thinks it's true.
"God, honey... I am so sorry," Mom says, still warm and comforting.
"It's okay Mom," he says.
"No it's not."
"True," he admits. "It's just, like... I don't know what to do now."
There's an uncomfortable pause as everyone looks from one to another.
"Well we are not just letting this slide. I'm booking you an appointment with a counselor or something; I don't know, but I won't let anyone in this family starve themselves to death, you hear?"
It's the first time they've called themselves a family. It doesn't bug Finn like he thought it might. He winces for completely different reasons. "That sounds... embarrassing."
Burt sighs and nods. "I know, kid, but it's something we gotta do."
Finn groans and buries his head in his hands. "This sucks."
"Are you–" Kurt cuts off midway through. "I was going to ask if you were okay, but it seems like a stupid question."
Finn bites his lip. No, he's not okay; he hasn't been for months, and he won't be for a while yet. He's naive, but he's not naive enough to expect everything to just magically get better that quick. That just makes him think of TV.
However, he guesses he's got his blinding, blinking, flashing bright " I Am Not Okay" sign now. That's kind of cool.