This is a story that is very close to my heart. I have struggled with self harm for a long time now (I haven't cut in four months now so I hope I'm on the road to recovery!) so a lot of this is from personal experience. Huge trigger alert so if you do struggle with self harm, PLEASE don't read this. I don't want to be responsible for anything. I do NOT condone or encourage self harm ever. This fic is simply the inner mind of a self-harmer and not meant to glorify the concept of self harming.
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee, Kurt or Blaine. If I did, the show would focus entirely on those two lovely boys.
It had first started when he was thirteen years old.
It wasn't like other teenagers where they were beginning to figure out who they were at that age. He knew who he was and had known for years. But it had been five years to the day since his mother died and even though the ache slowly faded every year, it was still a tough day for him, as one could imagine it would be for someone who had been without his mother since he was eight years old.
The other teenagers were starting to build the respective stereotypes that would follow them throughout the rest of their high-school years, and as such, putting themselves in their place on the hierarchy. The jocks were beginning to make their influence known at the top of the ladder by picking on those at the bottom - the nerds, losers and those who were just 'different'. Because teenagers - teenage boys especially - can't seem to handle different. And Kurt was certainly different.
The bullying had been going on for years (because, of course, Kurt had always been different), but it was only when people started realizing who they were, and consequently who they weren't, was when they realized just how different Kurt was. And that's when the names started.
Homo. Queer. Fag. Faggot. Flamer. Bent. Poof. And later, when they began to learn about what gay men actually did (whoever decided to teach explicit sex education to thirteen year olds wasn't right in the head), that's when the vocabulary expanded. Butt muncher, pipe smoker and fudge packer, just to name a few. (1)
At thirteen, Kurt hadn't built up the tough skin he needed to make sure those words didn't pierce his heart. Every time someone called him a derogatory name he felt himself die a little inside.
And on the anniversary of his mother's death, Karofsky had shoved him into a locker for the first time, chucking an offhand "faggot!" over his shoulder as he walked away. And Kurt felt his heart break as he finally realized that he would never be accepted for who he was. The only person who had truly accepted him had been gone for exactly five years and was never ever coming back.
So he went home and stripped off his shirt and examined the bruises coming up on his ribs, contemplating. Then he walked into his bathroom, turned on the shower and reached for his razor (his dad had insisted on him learning to shave the second a hair popped up). He sat in the shower for what seemed like hours, mulling over everything that had happened so far in his life.
Then he reached out and drew the blade over his arm.
Kurt hissed and drew his arm back, inspecting the shallow cut that was already starting to bleed. Already he was berating himself, wondering why he had done that because he had never liked pain anyway and he got enough from the bullies so why would he do that? But as the pain dulled to a slow ache, he suddenly realized he wanted more. This was pain that he could control. Nobody else could do this to him, or take it away from him. This was his choice.
When he finally stepped out of the shower, he reached for the bandages and covered up the three narrow cuts across his upper forearm. Winter was coming and long-sleeves were in fashion so he knew there was no problem of ever being caught.
He stayed in his room for the rest of the night. His dad checked in on him briefly but he pretended to be asleep and was left alone. Knowing how hard the day was, the two Hummel men left each other alone for the most part. Burt headed to his own room to flip through his photo album and shed a few tears that he would vehemently deny if anybody ever asked.
Kurt spent the next few hours idly tracing his hand across the bandage until he fell asleep.
The next time it happened, he was fourteen. He didn't even know what triggered it that time, nothing out of the ordinary had happened that day. Yet, when he got home, he couldn't concentrate on anything, even when he brought out the latest Vogue to pursue his favourite collections. Finally, admitting defeat, he headed back to the bathroom under the guise of taking a long shower.
The second time was more wonderful than the first. It was like coming back to a long-lost friend, he thought, as he drew the blade over his skin repeatedly. Watching the blood come to the surface was oddly intoxicating. He was all set to stay in the shower for hours (and possibly cause some permanent damage as he showed no signs of letting up) until his dad banged on the door, needing his help with dinner.
As they were cooking, his three-quarter length sleeve slipped up and Burt noticed the bandage. Kurt, seeing where his eyes were focused, quickly made up a story about cooking class and burning himself on the pot. His father, a hopeless case in the kitchen and able to burn water, believed the story and only told him to be more careful. Kurt agreed; he needed to be more careful. Careful that nobody found out.
Joining Glee club was one of the best things that had happened to him. For a short time, he felt like he actually belonged somewhere. The cutting, which had become a weekly occurrence by this point, eased somewhat as he threw himself into singing, dancing and being a part of a group who seemed to understand him.
But then Mercedes went and decided she had to get a crush on him and two of the three closely guarded secrets in Kurt's life came out. He was gay and he had a crush on Finn Hudson. And instead of the judgement he was so used to seeing, he actually saw acceptance in her eyes. She couldn't understand why he wouldn't come out to the rest of the Glee club, thinking that they would all accept him easily. Kurt knew better. He saw the cross that Quinn wore around her neck. Finn still allowed the other jocks to throw him in dumpsters (the commencement of this was what fueled the once-a-week cutting habits). And the others.. he just didn't trust them. He didn't trust anybody.
Mercedes may still love him, but he felt so guilty about breaking her heart that he allowed himself to slip back into old habits again. This time, the pain was a punishment for his own behavior. He knew how it felt to be rejected, doing that to someone else was something he never wanted to do.
One of the worst times in Kurt's life was when he believed he had to convince his dad that he wasn't gay. Joining the football team took every ounce of strength and courage he had, but he did it because he thought it would make his dad happy. And for the few weeks that he was living his lie, the cutting was happening at least twice a week. Running out of room on his arms, he began to cut his legs and abdomen. While the rest of the team showered communally, he had always avoided this. The rest of them were thankful for it, believing that he would perve on them. He was thankful that nobody would discover his secret.
Coming out to his dad was one of the best feelings, even when he found out that his dad had known all along. He felt accepted and loved. And, best of all, he didn't feel like he needed to cut anymore. Until three days later when he overheard Finn calling him a homo like it was nothing at all. Then he remembered.
By the time he was sixteen, the cutting had become a part of his life. He could pinpoint all the major events of his teenage life by the scars littering his body. Any time things got too dramatic or tense, he cut.
When he threw the high-F in Defying Gravity, even though he had never felt closer to his dad, he cut.
When he sang his ballad with Finn and could literally feel the repulsion rolling off the boy and fear of being considered 'queer,' he cut. A lot. Especially when he all but admitted his crush and Finn couldn't even grasp that concept. Looking back on it, it's probably better it didn't go through. But still.
When he went through his 'straight-phase,' he cut almost every day. Being accepted once again by his dad allowed things to calm down for a little while, but by this point in his life, it had become an addiction. He couldn't stay away for more than a couple of days. And as time passed, he found he relied on it more and more.
When his dad went into hospital, he sat in the shower for three hours alternating between bawling his eyes out and slashing his arms. He knew that Burt was the only person who actually understood him and loved him for exactly who he was, and he couldn't bear to live his life without him. And at some point, he cut deeper than ever before, too deep. Kurt felt the blood gushing down his arm as he passed out.
He woke up to the ringing of his phone and blearily answered to hear a worried Mercedes. He assured her he was fine as he scrambled for the bandages to cover the deep wide gash on his arm. As he hung up, he realized that this was the closest he'd ever come to death. And while that scared him, it also thrilled him in a weird way. He really did have power.
And then Karofsky entered his life again.
Karofsky had always been the main bully in his life but had never done more than tossing him into dumpsters and calling him repulsive names. But around about the time of the Rocky Horror Picture Show week, something changed. Every time he saw the bulky boy, he was shoving him into lockers, harassing him more than he ever had before. And the few times that he actually met his eyes, Kurt saw something there that he couldn't understand. Something that wasn't the same repulsion that he had always had. And it scared him.
Not for the first time, Kurt felt the sting of being alone. Nobody else in the entire school even began to understand what he was going through. The Glee club not only didn't respect his talent, but more importantly, they didn't respect him. He was alone.
The day the boys sent him to Dalton, he drove all the way there thinking of cutting when he got home. He imagined every slice he would make, the way the blood would drip down. He knew if someone could see inside his head, he'd be sent straight to the nearest suicide ward and psychiatrist, but for him it was the only way to stay calm. And infiltrating an all-boys school wasn't something that he was particularly calm about.
And then he met Blaine.
Driving home, he tried to come to terms with what had happened that afternoon. Not only had an incredibly good looking boy sat with him without being repulsed by him, he gave him his number and told him to text anytime. And on top of that, he was also gay.
For the first time in a long while, Kurt felt like he didn't need to cut that night.
Karofsky had kissed him.
Kurt was still reeling as he sat in the bottom of the shower. The water wasn't even running and he was still fully clothed, but it was his comfort place, and where he came to cut. He had his razor in a death grip and was all set to cut until the pain freaking went away, until a voice drifted through his subconscious.
Kurt picked up the phone and called Blaine. He answered on the second ring, sounding chipper and so Blaine-like that Kurt's heart ached just to hear it.
"He kissed me."
And Kurt let the tears come. For a long time, he sat and cried with the phone in one hand and the razor in the other. Blaine didn't say a word until Kurt had calmed down to the sniffling, hiccuping stage, muttering apologies and half-explanations. Then he spoke in his soothing calm voice.
"You have nothing to be ashamed of. You didn't choose to have this happen and it does not make you any less of a person. You are still the wonderful strong person I met last week and you can get past this. It hurts like hell, I know, trust me (Kurt wonders briefly how much Blaine actually knows, then files it away for later reference), but you will be okay. And I'm with you every step of the way."
They arranged to meet the next day and try and tackle the problem and Kurt assured Blaine that he was okay before he finally hung up the phone. He hadn't told Blaine how close he had come to ending it all that night. Blaine didn't know anything about the cutting and it had to stay that way. He plastered his fake smile on his face and went down for dinner.
Kurt still cut that night, and for the first time felt slightly guilty, almost as if he was letting Blaine down.
The day that Karofsky threatened to kill him, Kurt knew he had to get help. He sat down with his dad that afternoon and finally spilled everything. He told him about the bullying that had gotten worse as the years went on, the harassment and abuse, the kiss and today's death threat. He watched as Burt's face grew tighter with every confession and braced himself at the end to be berated for not speaking up sooner. Instead, his dad pulled him into a tight hug and promised to fix it.
Karofsky was expelled and Kurt found he could breathe easier walking the halls.
The wedding was one glimmer of happiness and light in Kurt's life. He saw the happiness on his dad's face as Carol walked down the aisle and knew that they would be happy together. He had someone to take care of him and Kurt had a mother figure in his life again. And seeing the acceptance on Finn's face (Kurt still sniggered when he thought of Finn's proclamation of the union of Furt) made him feel like he finally had a place.
Kurt hadn't cut in a couple of days and he was actually starting to feel like he may be on top of his demons.
And then Sue told him that Karofsky was coming back and he knew he had to get out of there. So did his parents apparently, as they met him in the hallway and offered to send him to Dalton. Kurt walked straight to the choir room and made the announcement, allowing the tears to come for the first time in a while as he leaves the few people who had helped him to feel like a person. He swings by the bathroom and cuts out of sheer guilt before heading home to pack.
Pulling the Dalton blazer on, Kurt winced as it rubbed against his most recent cut (done that morning from nerves) that he hadn't had time to bandage. His father almost walked in on him and he had to quickly slam the bathroom door and pretend to be getting dressed to be left alone. Pushing that thought aside, he left his new room and smiled as he saw Blaine waiting to walk him to his first class.
A week later, he was still smiling. He finally felt accepted.
Life was good at Dalton. He wasn't looking over his shoulder in fear anymore (though he was still jumpy the first few weeks, that had thankfully passed), he was a Warbler and he had Blaine. Seeing the dapper boy smile at him every day like he actually wanted him there made each and every day better.
But the addiction still niggled at the back of his mind. When he showered at night, the razor glinted at him from its holder and he sometimes had to physically hold his hands back to stop them from grabbing at it. And when the Academy had shown Alice in Wonderland as the Wednesday night movie and the bandersnatch had cut her arm, Kurt hurriedly made his excuses - "tired, had a long week," - and bolted from the room to try and calm himself down from his cleverly concealed panic attack. (2)
He only lasted two weeks before he had to release again. He tried to justify it to himself, that the stress of schoolwork had been building up, but he knew the truth. He was addicted.
Kurt hadn't even thought about it, but of course there would be, it was an all-boys school with nothing to hide. But after coming in from his first gym session (he had switched from Spanish a month in because he was already fluent in French and had enough Spanish to last him a lifetime, thank you very much Senor Schuester), he watched the boys begin to strip off and head for the showers and he just froze. Blaine walked in behind him and immediately noticed the panic in his eyes.
"It's okay," he said soothingly, placing a hand on his shoulder (and Kurt forgot his fear for a moment because Blaine's hand was on his shoulder), "nobody will judge you here. You won't be rejected for being gay."
Kurt shook his head wildly and blurted something about showering in his room, then took off. Blaine watched him go with a frown on his face. Kurt was hiding something, and he would get to the bottom of it, in time.
Blaine nudged the door open with his shoulder, carrying two coffees. "Kurt," he said, "I brought you your -"
Standing before him in only his trousers, Kurt was in the process of reaching for his shirt when Blaine had walked in. Which meant Blaine was now seeing him without a shirt. That alone would have been enough to freak Kurt out, but not having a shirt meant all of his many scars were on display. Not only those, but the fresh cuts across his arms from last night stood out prominently.
Both boys stood staring, neither knowing what to say or do.
Kurt was the first to break the silence.
"Blaine, ohmygod, I - I didn't know how to tell you. I didn't want to tell you because I knew you'd think I was a total freak and I know you do and you won't want anything to do with me anymore and - oh hell, why did this have to happen? I'm going to call my dad, I'll transfer back to McKinley, I - "
Kurt stopped his frantic rambling to look at Blaine who hadn't moved, while Kurt had moved to pacing the room. He was almost afraid to look him in the eyes, but he mustered up all of his courage - ha, what courage, he thought - and looked at him.
He saw acceptance.
Blaine had no words for him. No words would make this situation any better, nothing would make Kurt open up to him. In fact, most of the things Blaine wanted to say would just make Kurt bolt out of his life. So he opened up his arms and the boy all but flew into them, breaking down into long-needed sobs.
The two boys skipped all of their classes that day and only a few words were spoken between them. The subject wasn't broached at all. But it was what they needed. It was what Kurt needed to begin to heal.
It always came up at random moments. After Warbler practice one afternoon was one of them. Kurt hung back, waiting until all the others left. A glance towards Blaine and he waited with him, leading him over to a couch once the room was deserted. And in these moments, Kurt would slowly begin to talk about his past. He would share some of the events that had caused him to cut, or talk about the happier moments that helped him stay sane. Sometimes Blaine would ask questions, sometimes offer comfort, sometimes he would just sit and listen, all depending on what Kurt needed. Blaine knew he was hearing things that nobody else had ever heard and he was determined to make life better for Kurt.
It was in one of these moments, sitting on Kurt's bed together in a moment of silence when Blaine felt it was appropriate (appropriate meaning that Kurt hopefully wouldn't run away) to ask the question he'd been needing to ask.
"Do you still do it?"
Kurt stiffened and for a moment Blaine thought he would bolt. But he saw the resolve in his eyes to make good on his promise, the promise he had made one afternoon after the room incident, to tell Blaine the truth to any question he asked.
Blaine wrapped an arm around the beautiful boy who was trying to hold back the tears unsuccessfully. He didn't push him to talk or explain further, wanting it to be up to Kurt to reveal details. About five minutes passed until Kurt got himself under control and began to talk.
"Blaine, I'm happy here. So happy. I've never been this happy before. I feel accepted and wanted and like I'm doing something with my life. And I don't want to cut anymore. But," and he took a deep breath, as if preparing himself, "I still need to."
He held up a hand, knowing Blaine was about to interject. "I know what you're going to say. Of course I don't need to and my life would be better without it. But I'm addicted, Blaine."
And oh God, he hated saying those words, hated finally admitting what he had never wanted to even admit to himself. That he couldn't just stop whenever he wanted to anymore. He was dependent on hurting himself, what kind of freak was he?
But the look in Blaine's eyes told him differently. He wasn't a freak, he was simply someone who had gotten themselves caught up in something much deeper than himself. And Blaine still had as much respect and admiration for him as he had before he heard his admission.
For the first time in a very long time, Kurt allowed himself to believe that he was wanted.
The urgency in Kurt's voice had Blaine bolting upright from his bed. He almost fell out in his haste to get up, heading quickly towards the door. He kept the phone pressed to his ear, beginning to sprint down the hallway as he heard Kurt hyperventilating on the other end. He managed to puff out that he was coming and to hold tight, and then he was at Kurt's door and in the room and where was Kurt? Then he could hear Kurt's voice coming from the bathroom and through his phone and he was there, dropping to his knees behind the shower and wrapping his arms around the boy who was curled into a ball with a razor blade by his feet.
A razor blade covered in blood.
Blaine was glad Kurt's face was hidden as he paled. He squeezed Kurt tighter as the boy sobbed and willed him silently to calm down and to just be okay.
Neither boy knew how long had passed until Kurt finally calmed down enough to pull away from Blaine's embrace, ducking his head to wipe his eyes. Blaine's hands went to either side of his face and gently moved it so he was looking him in the eyes.
Kurt attempted to duck his head before realizing Blaine wouldn't let him. The panic evident in his eyes, he slowly pulled his arm out from where it had been tucked against his body. Blaine dropped his eyes and hissed in a breath as he took in the sight below him. It wasn't the worst Kurt had done - he had heard the stories of what had happened after his dad had gone into hospital - but it was the first time he'd ever seen Kurt bleeding. He saw Kurt flinch and try to pull away but Blaine gently took hold of his arm. Grabbing a wad of toilet paper, he pressed it against the cut, giving an apologetic look for the hiss of pain it elicited from Kurt. As Kurt met his eyes, it was like a floodgate.
"Oh Blaine, I'm so so sorry! I don't know what happened, I just - I dreamt of him again and I panicked and it just happened before I knew it and I didn't want to wake you but I didn't know what to do - I mean, of course I knew because it's happened before obviously - but I didn't know how to calm down and all I could think was that I needed you and - "
Blaine put a finger to his lips, effectively silencing the boy. Kurt looked at him, wide eyed and flushed with the tears beginning to form again.
"Kurt, never ever be sorry for calling me. I said I'd always be here if you needed me and I meant that. I'm glad you called me, I want to be able to help you. I want you, Kurt, in my life. You're the best friend I've ever had and you're amazing. But please, please, let me help you. I don't want to see you like this anymore. You're strong, you can fight this. Please?"
Something changed in his eyes. His arm was still dripping blood and he had never looked so vulnerable, but so strong at the same time. He nodded, and that was enough for Blaine to draw him into a tight hug, careful of his arm. After they broke apart, Blaine insisted on cleaning up the cut for Kurt, then led him back to bed, where he ended up staying to talk to Kurt for another few hours (well, until morning actually).
Somewhere in the night, Kurt mentioned the night he had called Blaine after the kiss and Blaine simply gave him another hug. "See," he murmured, "you are strong."
Kurt felt it.
The next few months flew by with many moments and milestones.
Blaine had three late night calls in the first week alone, and he was there for him every time, getting there quickly enough that Kurt didn't cut at all that week. He considered it a milestone, even though Kurt didn't seem overly enthusiastic, stating that he had gone weeks before but had fallen off the wagon again. Blaine simply smiled and told him that he had someone to watch him this time.
After the first month without cutting, Blaine took Kurt out to an expensive restaurant to celebrate. Kurt insisted that it wasn't necessary but Blaine wanted him to know how proud he was of him. Kurt found himself falling more in love with Blaine but wasn't naive enough to think that Blaine felt the same way. Who could love someone as messed up as him?
Two months and an intensive gym class later, Blaine and Kurt walked into the shower room. Blaine was all set for Kurt to gather his stuff together and leave for a private shower. He was stunned when the boy, with only one hesitant look around the room, began to strip off and head to the shower. Blaine stood with his mouth open, then closed it with a snap when he realized that people would think he was perving on Kurt (and maybe he was a little but that didn't need to become common knowledge), and joined him in the shower. None of the other boys said a word and Kurt left that day with an extra spring in his step; Blaine's hand in his might have had something to do with that too.
Three months later, and Kurt is kissing Blaine on the couch in the empty Warbler commons.
If either boy was asked to pinpoint exactly when it all happened, neither would be able to explain. Somewhere along the line, they fell in love with each other. One night when Kurt called Blaine with another panic attack and they were wrapped in each other's arms on the bathroom floor, Blaine had looked at Kurt and told him he loved him. Kurt simply smiled and rested his head on Blaine's shoulder.
Kurt returned the words a week later, which leads to the present moment.
Kurt pulls away from Blaine with a beautiful smile. It's a smile that shows the heartache of years past, but the promise of a beautiful future and recovery.
Blaine smiles in response, a smile of promise and encouragement and commitment.
They both know that Kurt is still broken. There will be many more late night phone calls, possibly more setbacks. There will be more of the past to work through and being two gay teenagers in love will automatically make their lives more difficult.
But as Kurt looks into Blaine's eyes, he sees his future. A future where he can be saved from his demons. And finally, he sees recovery.
(1) I actually had to do some research to find all of these names. I do not use them myself or believe they are acceptable terms to use towards homosexual people.
(2) This happened to me when I was on a first date with my now ex-boyfriend. I didn't run out but I did freak out (but quietly enough that only he noticed). That movie needs a trigger alert (so if you haven't seen it yet and struggle with self-harm, that's your warning)
Thanks for reading! Once again, I do not encourage any form of self-harm. This may not be the place to post this, but if anybody is struggling with self-harm and needs someone to talk to, please feel free to message me. I've been there.
This was difficult for me to write, and any reviews would be appreciated. Thank you :)