Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
The characters Hal and Bev Anderson belong to Gilly, aspiringtoeloquence, and are borrowed with her permission. She also beta'd, so yay!
Blaine leaned over the bathtub and switched on the water. It flooded over his head, pouring into his nose and mouth and eyes, but he didn't care. Blindly he fumbled for the bright purple bottle of "for curly hair" shampoo. The last dregs splattered over his hand and he gritted his teeth. He rubbed his hands together, making a weak foam, and dug his hands back into his thick soaked curls.
Francey kept pounding on the door. "Blaine, what the hell?" she shouted. "Get the fuck out of the bathroom! I have to take a shower before cheerleading practice!"
He shut off the flow of water. "Leave me alone!" he shouted back. "I'm busy!"
"Busy doing what, you brat?" she demanded. The door rattled on its hinges; he stumbled to the sink and jammed it shut with his hip. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Nothing!" he retorted. He shook the shampoo bottle in frustration and tossed to the floor. "Use the downstairs bathroom!"
"Can't, all my shit's in there," she spat. "What are you…oh, seriously, Blaine, what the hell? Are you doing what I-"
"Leave me alone!" he screamed, attempting to disentangle his fingers from his hair. "Just…just leave me alone."
"Have you seriously been in there since you got out of school?" she screeched.
He choked on the words he wanted to say and stuck his head back in the sink, fumbling for the hot water handle. It switched on, but he'd used all of it up. Cold tap water flooded over his head as Francey kept yelling.
Suddenly she silenced. He should have known that was going to end badly, but at the time he just didn't care.
He should have cared.
The lock switched and the door slammed him in the hip, knocking him back from the sink. Water went flying. "I beat your little game, so get the hell…the hell out, oh my god."
Blaine stumbled back, chest heaving as he stared at his sister. "Get out," he breathed. "Please, Francey, god, just get out."
Francey froze, still clutching her makeshift bobby pin lockpick in her hand. "Oh, fuck," she whispered.
He snatched up the empty shampoo bottle from the floor and chucked it at her, his sight blurring as it bounced uselessly off her arm. "Get out!" he screamed, his voice climbing. Francey looked him up and down one last time, her expression unreadable, then walked out silently, closing the door behind her.
Blaine planted his hands on either side of the sink, attempting to catch his breath without having to look at his reflection. He knew what he looked like- his olive skin blanched, his eyes bloodshot, his wet hair drenched and straggling around his face and neck, weighed down with water, and the horrible thick blobs of pink and purple and blue and green. And he didn't want to look at that. He choked back a sob and grabbed the container of peanut butter again, picking up a handful and kneading it through his curls.
Nothing was working. Absolutely nothing. But he couldn't stop. His hair was slick from the different products and his fingers were badly pruned and nothing was working, no matter how long or hard he tried.
Someone knocked lightly on the door. "Go away," he said hoarsely.
"Blaine? Honey, it's Mom."
He hung his head, his fingertips still locked around the mouth of the peanut butter jar. "I don't want to talk about it," he said.
"We don't have to talk about it," she said. "Just let me see."
He clenched his hands, then reluctantly reached over and tapped the handle so it swung open, just a little.
Beverley stepped into the bathroom. Blaine kept his head down as she scanned his battlefield- the two empty shampoo bottles, the dripping olive oil decanter, the discarded peanut butter jar, the purplish remains of Francey's nail polish remover. Water and foam and slime splattered everywhere. The brightly colored globs embedded in his hair.
She reached over and gingerly touched one of the limp soaked curls hanging limply over his forehead. "Oh, Blaine," she said quietly.
He screwed his mouth up. "I tried," he said. "Mom, I tried. I tried to fix it."
"I know," she soothed, tangling the curl around her finger. "Oh, Blaine."
Somehow his earlier resolve to keep his mouth shut fell away at the sympathy in his mother's bright dark eyes as her hand moved to touch his cheek. "I was on the bus," he said. "I was on the bus, on the way home, and I was in the back seat, and all of a sudden these…these older kids, they just…they just all had gum." He caught sight of his reflection, of the different colors sticking out of his dark wet hair. "They told me…I needed a rainbow to match the gay ones I puke up every morning."
He saw his mother's jaw tighten, felt her fingers lock against his cheek. She said nothing for a long minute, her eyes searching his face. Slowly she trailed her hand over the sticky solidified mass that used to be his hair, her fingers picking up a sloppy hint of peanut butter and olive oil and rubbing alcohol. "Blaine, I…" she started to say. His chin trembled. "We'll take care of this."
He nodded wordlessly, even though he couldn't possibly fathom what could be done to fix this. Any of this.
"I'll fix this," she said again, addressing his hair. "Come downstairs when you're ready, precious."
She left the bathroom quietly, closing the door gently. Blaine sank down to the floor.
He didn't know how long he sat there, knees drawn to his chest, his arms on his knees and his forehead against his wrist. His hair attempted to dry, clumping into thick gummy chunks on his forehead. Oily water dripped down his face and neck, slimy and disgusting as it soaked into his tee shirt.
His legs pricked uncomfortably as he finally stood up. He switched off the bathroom light, not bothering to clean up the empty bottles or the pools of dirty water, and made his way slowly down the stairs, his hand clinging to the banister as his feet dragged on the carpeted stairs.
"I don't know what you're gonna do to fix this, I've tried everything," he announced unhappily as he reluctantly stepped into the kitchen. His mother and Francey looked up at him and he instantly took a step back.
One of the barstools had been moved to the center of the kitchen. A bottle of shampoo was on the counter. A gleaming pair of scissors rested next to it innocently.
"No," Blaine said flatly, shaking his head. Droplets of slimy water shook off his hair. "No, no, I'm going to do it."
Francey folded her arms and looked down at the pattern of the floor. His mother met his gaze evenly, calm and collected as ever.
Usually he liked getting his hair cut. Every six weeks his mother would gather all of them into the kitchen for trims, clipping his father's short straight hair and docking a bit off of Francey's cascade and trimming the fluffing split ends of his curls. Francey would complain about how she never got to go first ("Blaine's the baby, Francey, the youngest always goes first") and his mother would despair over how her children managed to inherit the tangled Hamilton curls instead of the sleek manageable Anderson hair and his father would tease all of them playfully with obscure literary references until they were all rolling their eyes.
"No," Blaine insisted, clenching his fists. "No. I don't want to. I like my hair. I like it the way it is. You can't cut it."
"Honey, you've been scrubbing your hair since you got home from school and you've only made it worse," Bev said softly. "We have to cut it off."
"I don't want it," he said, his voice rising. "I don't want you to cut my hair off."
"Blaine, that shit's not coming out," Francey said.
Bev sent her a warning look. "Watch your language, Baby," she said. Francey shrugged.
"I like my hair," Blaine protested desperately. "Please don't cut it off. Can't we try something else?"
"Blaine, I don't think there's anything left to try," Bev said gently. "And besides, everything you've done to try to get it out has only made it worse." She patted the seat. "Come on, sweetheart."
With feet like lead Blaine dragged himself to the barstool and pulled himself up, plunking down hard as he stared at the floor. Bev draped an old towel around his shoulders, offering him a little comforting squeeze as she pulled it over his damp white tee shirt. He closed his eyes and waited.
There was the light snip of the scissors, and the little thud of a matted wad of chewing gum and hair hitting the floor.
He squeezed his eyes tighter. Bev picked up another thick curl, twisted solid and sticky, and snipped it off.
He was a boy. Boys weren't supposed to be this attached to their hair. Even gay ones. At least that's what he thought; he didn't know any other gay boys.
Bev brushed a lock of hair away from his ear and cut it off. He choked.
He could deal with them calling him names. He could deal with them writing things all over his locker. He could deal with them ripping his homework. It was just stuff.
Now they were attacking him directly.
The scissors slid along the side of his head, cold and slick, and he shuddered. He felt a hand latch onto his and squeeze tightly. He squeezed back, ignoring the pressure of his sister's class ring digging into his finger.
His mother worked in silence over his thick shaggy curls, the hair falling to the floor in soft thumps, weighed down by bubblegum and peanut butter. He kept his eyes closed, focusing on his sister's fingers linked through his and the rapid beat of his own heart instead of the snip-snip-snip.
"I think I've got most of it," Bev sighed. She patted his back. "Come over to the sink, honey."
He stood up, letting go of Francey's hand and clutching the towel around his shoulders like a cape. Bev turned on the water and he leaned into the sink, resting on his folded forearms. He closed his eyes as his mother cupped warm water in her hands and dripped it over his thick messy hair, soaking and softening the crusted-over bits. She hummed a little under her breath, soft and tuneless, as she uncapped the bottle of shampoo, poured a little in her hands, and started to work it through the choppy remains of his hair.
It wasn't his usual shampoo, the kind that all the other guys in his class used, or his sister's fruit-scented stuff for curly hair that he often borrowed. It was baby shampoo, probably left over from when his little cousins came to visit the summer before. Bev massaged it through his hair, filling the air with the sweet, heady, clean scent as it foamed over his ears and trailed over his forehead. Memories of childhood bathtime flooded his thoughts, of feeling small and safe and clean while he played with rubber ducks and his mother washed his hair, but now he didn't feel safe, he just felt old and scared and violated.
His mother's fingers were firm and gentle as she worked through what was left of his hair. Soapsuds trickled over his eyes and soaked his thick lashes. The shampoo claimed "no tears" on the label and he supposed they weren't lying. It wasn't the soap that made his eyes burn.
Bev tilted his head towards the warm water and rinsed the shampoo from his hair. Her fingers were deft and gentle against his scalp as she rubbed the soap bubbles away. It felt different, different and strange, to feel the splash of water against his bare neck instead of the weight of his wet curls.
His mother turned off the water and he straightened slowly. Cooling water dribbled down to his collar; he blinked droplets away. "Sit down," she said in a soft voice. He obeyed blindly, rubbing at his eyes.
She rubbed at his hair with the towel, soaking up some of the extra water before picking up his scissors. The steady clipping sounded louder than before. She worked slow and steady, brushing her fingers through the ends of his hair before lifting a lock and trimming it to the proper length. He squeezed his hands over his knees until the knuckles whitened.. His sister placed her hand over his clenched fist; he relaxed only enough to tangle his fingers tightly through hers.
At long last Bev stepped back to eye her handiwork critically. "There," she said after an eternity of looking him up and down. "I think that's as good as I can manage."
Blaine slid off the barstool and walked over to the microwave, his footsteps loud in the silence of the kitchen. He stood in front of it and stared.
A stranger stood in front of him in the mottled black reflection, a stranger with hair cut close to his head, the ends barely long enough to curl. He lifted a shaking hand only to see the reflected stranger do the same. His hair felt choppy and silky and foreign, light against his scalp. With a startled cry he stumbled back.
"Blaine, my love, you look fine," his mother pleaded. "It's just different, that's all."
"It's not fine!" he said desperately. "I want my own hair back!" And he ran up the stairs to the safety of his bedroom. They didn't follow him.
Blaine slammed his door shut with a satisfying, resounding thud and threw himself across his bed, bursting into tears. They just didn't understand, they didn't understand at all. His hair was part of him, a part of his body, a part of his appearance, a part of what made him him, and they took it from him. The bullies took it away from him.
He sobbed into his folded arms until he was too tired to cry. Instead, he just curled up into a tight ball, hugging a pillow into his chest. Eventually he heard the rumble of the garage door opening, heralding his father's arrival home. He pulled the pillow tighter to him, burying his face in it and squeezing out a few more tears at the thought of having to explain this to his dad.
The last bits of daylight faded from between his blinds, sending his room into dark shadows. He was starting to get bored and his stomach was starting to rumble, but every time he thought of going downstairs to see if dinner was ready, all he could think of was the look on his father's face when he saw that, once again, he hadn't stood up for himself.
Blaine buried his face deeper in his pillow, hot tears burning again as he remembered what he looked like, unrecognizable without his shaggy curls. They had won, the bullies had won, and they would be reminded of their victory every time he walked down the hall with his short shameful hair.
Someone tapped lightly on his door. "Blaine? It's Dad. Would you mind me coming in?"
"Yes, I mind," he rasped, his voice scratchy from crying.
The door creaked open. "The knock was more of a courtesy," Hal admitted. He stepped into Blaine's bedroom as Blaine pulled the pillow over his head and buried his face in his comforter. "How was school today?"
"Don't bother asking, you already know," Blaine grunted.
"Know about what?"
Blaine punched his bed angrily. "You know," he said.
Hal sighed heavily and sat down on the edge of his bed. "I was hoping you'd tell me in your own words," he said, reaching over to squeeze Blaine's arm lightly.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said. "Ask Mom. She'll tell you."
"It wouldn't be the same, Blaine," Hal said. "Words are powerful. You should tell me yourself."
Blaine felt his bed sink a little as his father sat down beside him. He burrowed deeper under the pillow, digging his hands into the thick softness. "You know how people pick on me?" he mumbled.
"Yes," Hal said simply.
He expected a normal parent to argue, to tell him that all kids his age got picked on. Hal didn't argue, didn't belittle.
Hot, angry tears welled up despite himself.
"Yeah, well, apparently they got tired of ripping up my English workbooks, and pulling my shorts down in gym class, and calling me names all the time, because they decided to try something new," Blaine said bitterly. "So a bunch of them cornered me on the bus, and they all took these wads of gum out of their mouths, and they stuck them in my hair."
Saying it made the outrage rise up fresh. Blaine sat up, viciously throwing his pillow into the wall. Hal didn't flinch. "Mom had to cut my hair off!" he shouted. "They won, Dad. They won. I have to go into school tomorrow with my hair all gone, and they'll know they won."
"They haven't won," Hal said quietly.
Blaine's throat tightened. "Dad, I look like a freak," he said desperately. "I look like…like…"
"You look like Blaine," Hal said. He reached over and gripped Blaine's shoulder. "They can do whatever they like to you, but they can never change you unless you let them."
Blaine wrenched away and pressed his back against the wall, hugging his knees to his chest. "What if I let them?" he challenged.
Hal faced him, hands folded on his knee and his eyes behind his glasses as calm as ever. "If you let them, it won't change how your mother and sister and I love you," he said. "But if you let them win, I think you'll be ashamed of yourself, wouldn't you?"
Blaine sank back, dropping his forehead to his knees. "Dad, I don't want to fight anymore," he said wearily.
Hal reached over again and cupped his hand around the back of Blaine's neck. "You shouldn't have to fight," he said. "Yours is a battle for someone older and better prepared." Blaine kept his head down, squeezing his eyes shut. Hal sighed deeply. "You can't just give up, son."
"What if I can't do it?" Blaine asked, tilting his head to look at his father.
Hal smiled at him, the corners of his eyes crinkling up. "That's why you keep your family around," he said. "And I know that you'll find friends, the right sort of friends who will hold you up when you can't any longer. And I daresay you'll someday find that special someone, a handsome young gentleman who…"
"Dad!" Blaine protested, sitting up straight as his ears turned red.
Hal laughed and leaned back, folding his arms as he looked Blaine up and down. "You know, I quite like this haircut on you," he said. "You look rather respectable, instead of a hooligan. Like a young Marlon Brando."
Blaine brightened. "Really?" he said.
"Really," Hal said. "It's quite dapper."
Blaine wrinkled his nose. "I hate to break it to you, Dad, but being dapper isn't going to make me more popular at school," he said.
"Well, it might not mean much to the hoodlums at your high school, but trust me, it'll play in your favor later in life," Hal said. He squeezed Blaine's knee. "Now, do you feel like dinner? I believe Francey talked your mother into ordering pizza."
Blaine sighed and slid off the edge of the bed. "I guess I'm hungry," he said. "Wait, did Francey order pizza with mushrooms all over it again? Because she knows I hate that stuff."
"I'm not sure," Hal said. "But you know your sister. She'll do anything to not have to share."
Blaine scowled and headed down the stairs, his father close behind him. Francey sat in the living room with her feet propped up on the coffee table and a plate of pizza on her knees. "Oh, damn, you actually showed up," she said. "I thought I would get it all to myself."
"There aren't any mushrooms, are there?" he asked warily.
She grinned. "Nope, but there's a lot of Hawaiian. You should get some before I eat it all," she said. "And believe me, I will."
Blaine rolled his eyes and headed into the kitchen. "Mom, did Francey leave me any-"
He paused. His mother stood by the sink, her head down. "Mom?" he ventured.
Bev turned around, her eyes softening at the sight of him. "Oh, Blaine," she said.
He stepped towards her hesitantly. She reached out and stroked her fingers through her hair. Usually she would affectionately twine a curl around her finger; now she just brushed the short, clipped ends back. "My little shorn sheep," she said. "I'm so sorry, darling. I'm so sorry."
He rushed towards her, burying his face in her shoulder as she closed her arms around him. His mother held him close, but it did nothing to lessen the awful, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that, for the first time, he was faced with a situation that his parents couldn't fix for him.
"What am I supposed to do?" he whispered, and his mother remained silent, her fingers tangled so tightly in his shorn hair that it nearly hurt.
BLAINE ANGST? AND NO KURT AT ALL? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?
You can blame this madness on the adorable Laertena, who requested new-transfer-at-Dalton-and-also-angsty!Blaine. I sat down to write a oneshot...which turned into a multichapter...and then I realized I needed a prequel. So here is the prequel.
I'm actually going to write a multichapter angst story about fourteen-year-old Blaine. Prepare yourselves for the weeping.
(But first I'm going to write the next chapter of Knife Going In.)
Also, mad props to Gilly for creating Hal and Bev, letting me borrow them, and then beta-ing for me. She is awesome on multiple levels, and I am honored that she puts up with my amateurish attempts at writing her characters.
Off to write KGI, then...