Author's Notes: Written for this prompt on the glee_angst_meme: "I would love any Mercedes angst that doesn't have anything to do with her being in love with Kurt. It's getting annoying that the only angsty Mercedes stories are her being in love with him. Sooooo. Maybe she self harms, or she's suicidal, or she was molested or raped. Just something please! Maybe even Kurt misses a few key signs cause he can get a little self obsessed and he feels horrible and tries to fix it. Want: Mercedes sleeping over and while Kurt sleeps and cuddles up next to her, she's silently crying herself to sleep because its really the only way she can fall asleep these days."
She's staring at that small hole in her bedroom ceiling. She vaguely wonders if her parents will ever yet it fixed; she doesn't think it's doing any harm, and she's grown weirdly attached to it over the years.
"Hello? Earth to Jones?" Kurt snaps his fingers in front of her face impatiently, snapping her attention back. "Where are you?"
"What? Oh, uh, sorry," she responds. "I zoned out."
"You've been doing that a lot lately," Kurt points out. "Is there something you need to tell me, Mercedes?"
His voice is half-way between concerned and teasing, as if he's covering for all possibilities of what she could need to tell him. She rolls her eyes and shakes her head.
"No, Mr. Hummel," she drones out, and he punches her in the arm. She raises a weak smile.
She doesn't have anything to tell him, not really. Nothing about her life has changed lately – it remains as steadfastly average as ever. She knows she's changed, but she can't really say that; she'll sound like an idiot, and it's not like she can explain she's depressed because... of absolutely nothing at all.
"Anyway, I was going to pick out your outfit for next Saturday," he says, jumping up off the bed and walking over to her wardrobe.
"You know, some people would say an outfit for one concert does not need to be planned out four days in advance," she says, but she follows him up anyway. "That, and a sixteen-year-old girl really ought to be able to dress herself by now."
Kurt rolls his eyes. "Honey, no offense, but you need me. You dress so depressing nowadays; whatever happened to your color, girl?"
Mercedes flinches, but he doesn't notice. He doesn't mean it, not really – he'd like her to dress like she used to, but she's his best friend, and hence he doesn't really care that much when it comes down to it. That doesn't really make her feel better, though; if anything she feels worse. She feels like she's letting him down.
"Mercedes? Are you still there?"
"What?" she snaps out of it again. "Uh, sorry."
He rolls his eyes. "I swear, you keep doing that and I'm giving you a breathalyzer test," he swings her closet door open, and blinks at the mess inside. "Holy. Crap."
"...Sorry?" she says sheepishly. "Yeah, I know, it's trashed. I keep meaning to clean it up, but... can't find the motivation."
"That much is obvious," he says. "My clothes OCD is screaming in pain, Mercedes."
"Sorry," she repeats. "I'm a teenager. It's my job to be ridiculously messy."
"You used to be better than this, 'Cedes," he says. "Fight the cliche!"
She raises an eyebrow at him. "Wait, we're meant to be defying stereotypes now?"
"...Okay, you have a point," he concedes, and she smiles at him. "Anyway, you're distracting me. You should–" he pulls something off the ground, and flinches at it. "Oh dear. Slushie stains?"
She shrugs. "It's not like that's majorly unusual; you must have noticed," she says. "It's your problem too."
"Yes, but not as much, being a Cheerio and all," he says. She flinches – she vaguely remembers that the slushies didn't happen so much when she was on the Cheerios for, uh, three weeks. It was so short she barely remembers, but they were under Sylvester's protection – she remembers very clearly how the rest of the Cheerios got worse towards her after she quit; apparently Sylvester took the blow to her ego that was having someone quit out on them, so they took it out on her. Yeah, she knows that was all about personal integrity and being yourself and blah blah blah – but she doesn't feel that anymore.
Really, she sees how things have gotten better for Kurt, and she knows: things got better because he made them better. He was willing to change and adapt, and karma rewarded him. She was lazy and gave up, so the opposite happened. She shouldn't be surprised.
"Anyway, I'll get this sent to my dry cleaners, because clearly you can't get this stain out, and the shirt really is terrific," he says. She's briefly reminded of how lucky she is to have him.
"You scare me with your awesomeness, you know that?"
"I do that to most people, sweetheart," he answers. She rolls her eyes. "Plus, my dry cleaner and I have built up a formidable rapport over these sorts of slushie stains, so I wish to further that."
She raises an eyebrow at him. "Rapport?"
"Ew, Mercedes, he's like forty!"
"Some people like some salt with their pepper; you know what I'm saying?" she says. He smacks her on the arm again.
"Do you want me to pay for your clothing damage or not?"
She shrugs. "Most of the time I don't need it, really; slushies aren't that hard to get out – just this one time I got ganged up on with it, so they sunk in."
"Oh," he says. "Well, people have a history of ganging up on me, so..."
She pauses. "...It really was bad for you, wasn't it?"
He looks uncomfortable. "Well, yes, obviously," he says and she flinches. "I guess since my fancy clothes are heavily associated with what makes me so abhorrent to the neolithic people of this town, it makes sense to go out of their way to ruin those."
Wow, Jones. Way to both be sensitive, and ask necessary questions. She knows it must have been worse for him – the inherent homophobia of Lima (and society in general) gets to him; she knows that. He doesn't like to talk about it. Admittedly, she's not the white man's dream either – being neither white, nor a man – but she's got a couple of decades on him in social change. A black president? Plausible, and a reality. A gay president? Are you kidding?
Great. Now she's going to feel bad all night.
That's her whole problem – she feels like shit, and she has no right to. Things are so awful for Kurt – the Terror of Sue Sylvester gives him some limited protection in the school, but outside it things are as bad as ever – but he doesn't react like this; he stays strong, he doesn't whine, not seriously anyway. Kurt is strong and happy despite being way worse off than her. Quinn's much the same; her life went to hell and then some, but she just picked it up again – even got her Head Cheerio job back. Mercedes' knows her best friends have way worse lives than she does, and if anyone has the right to feel like shit, it's them, not her.
But she's the one who does. She's the one that can't focus anymore; that'll let one snide remark have her moping for hours, and staring at her razors as if she'd ever have the guts.
She's pathetic. She's a lost, lonely little girl with no idea how to live in the world. She should just do it; if she keeps getting caught on thoughts of killing herself, she might as well hurry up with it. Really, if she's like this now, what hope is there she's going to get better? She deserves it, just for being so stupid and self-pitying while everyone else has actual problems.
"Mercedes! Are there alien parasites in your brain?"
"What?" she asks. "Sorry."
He looks at her oddly. "...You know I love you, right?" he asks, stepping forward and hugging her.
"Of course," she answers, more than a little confused. He kisses her on the forehead.
"I hardly ever see you anymore," he murmurs. "Except at school, obviously."
She tries not to think of how many times she's let him down; how she hasn't gone out when he's called her on the weekends so many times, just because she didn't have the strength to get up and out of bed. I've been such a shit friend.
"Sorry," she replies, before pulling back. "Anyway, before I went all hypno-girl on you, you were picking an outfit?"
He beams at her. "Oh, you have no idea."
Later, they're asleep on the couch. Well, he is – she isn't. Her sleeping patterns have gone to all hell; she can't get to sleep for hours, and it takes her hours to wake up too. This just results in a net loss of sleep; she can't get to sleep until one AM at the earliest, and she has to set her alarm to like, five to have any shot of getting up early enough not to be late for school.
Tears start to prick at the back of her eyes. No, she thinks. She's fallen into the habit of crying herself to sleep, and she gave in because it was the only way she could sleep – she decided getting rid of the insomnia was worth it, even if it didn't do anything for her self-loathing. What does she have to cry about? She doesn't know even as she's doing it.
But she can't now. If Kurt hears, he'll wake up, and he'll start worrying about her – and she doesn't have the right to do that to him, not with all he has to worry about.
Kurt curls in closer to her side – the first time her mom saw them like this, there were serious raised eyebrows, until they pointed out his less-than-heterosexuality and the fact Mrs. Jones would never have anything to worry about. Then Mom said she had kind of guessed, but was trying not to completely bow to stereotypes, and besides – Momma Paranoia trumps everything.
Now, the way Kurt looks, he seems like a child – and she's the strong mother, watching over him as he sleeps. But she's not. Kurt might look like the effeminate gay guy (or, uh, less civilized ways people even worse than her would put it), but he's a million times stronger than her with a million more things trying to wear him down. But being strong; the sassy black woman – that's all she is. Being strong is a part of that, and if she's not – well, what is the point of her?
She accidentally lets out a sob to loud, and he stirs. Shit! "Mercedes?"
She doesn't answer, but even in the dark and while he's eyes are bleary with sleep, he sits back up. "You're crying," he points out.
"Oh, uh, yeah," she answers. "I'd kind of noticed. I think I'm allergic to one of your hair things or something."
He doesn't buy it. "What's wrong?"
And then something inside her snaps, and she's reduced to full on sobbing. "I don't know," she confesses, and he wraps her in his arms.
"It's okay," he whispers.
And for the rest of the night, they stay like that, with her sobbing into his neck for no reason at all.