Chapter 30: Your Brother's Smart Cooper
I got the phone call before I even picked up my suitcase from baggage reclaim. It was my Dad, and I answered the call enthusiastically, thinking that my parents just wanted to know if I'd landed and was on my way.
I was supposed to be coming home for the weekend to see my family, meet Blaine's boyfriend for the first time and have a good old party at Nick and Jeff's, but instead I was sitting in the back of a taxi on the way to the hospital, the future completely unknown and up in the air.
My brain just didn't know how to process what was happening so had switched onto autopilot. I'd even managed small talk with the taxi driver about a recent baseball game as though everything was alright with the world. How wrong was that? But how can you go from being deliriously happy one moment to being utterly distraught the next?
Even as I got out of the taxi, looked up at the hospital, walked through the entrance, waited for the elevator and arrived at the intensive care floor, I was still refusing to believe it was true. It couldn't be. It was just a joke, my baby brother was going to jump out from behind a corner and then we'd all laugh, go home and carry on with our lives.
But of course that didn't happen.
I walked slowly down the corridor, delaying the inevitable. But as soon as I saw my Dad, standing and leaning back against a wall with his head hung low, I had to swallow a lump in my throat. Be strong Cooper. Blaine wouldn't want me moping about, wouldn't want me breaking down, he'd want me looking after our parents, looking after Kurt, and keeping their spirits up.
'Dad,' I said quietly and he turned to look at me, a small smile appearing on his tired and pale face.
We put our arms around each other and didn't move for at least a minute. We said all we needed to in that hug, that we were glad to see each other, that everything was going to be ok, that Blaine was going to be fine.
'Has there been any more news?' I asked once we parted and Dad shook his head.
'Not since we called you, he's still in the OR.'
'Well no news is good news right? It means whatever they're doing is working.'
'I really hope so son.'
'She...' Dad stopped briefly and took a deep breath. 'Your aunt arrived about half an hour ago to take her home. She was in no fit state to be here.'
'Poor Mom, I know Blaine's my brother but he's her son... her child. I can't imagine how she feels.'
'I know, it's heart breaking for a mother.'
'You too Dad, we all know much you love Blaine.' Dad had to fight back the tears then, so I changed the subject. 'Um... what about Kurt, is he here?'
'There,' Dad said quietly, pointing over to Kurt, who was sitting on a chair at the end of the corridor and staring at the floor. He looked so lost and broken, my heart ached for him. 'He hasn't said a word poor thing. Just sits there. I wish there was something we could do for him.'
'What about his family? Shouldn't they be here for them?'
'Well there's his Dad I guess, but we wouldn't know how to contact him.'
'Leave it to me,' I said.
I walked over to Kurt and bent down in front of him. This was the guy who had stolen my brother's heart and I couldn't help feeling protective of him, despite this horrible situation being the first time we've met. He slowly looked up a little to meet my gaze, but it was as though he was looking straight through me instead.
'Hi Kurt, I'm Cooper.'
'Does anyone else know you're here?'
'I really think you need to have your family here with you. Can I have your phone?'
Kurt blinked a few times. I had no idea if what I'd just said had registered with him at all. But he didn't say anything and didn't make a move to give me his phone, so I tried again, speaking a bit louder.
'Kurt, could I have your phone? I'd like to call your Dad.'
'They'll be hungry,' Kurt said quietly, completely baffling me.
'I'm sorry. Who will be hungry?'
'Joey... and um...'
I turned to my Dad, who had come to stand nearer us. 'Is Joey Blaine's dog?'
'Yeah, they've got a cat as well.'
'I need to feed them,' Kurt said as I turned back to him. It was clear Kurt was completely in shock and acting strangely, I didn't need to have met him before to know that.
'It's ok Kurt, we'll take care of the pets for you. Can you give me your phone and keys to the apartment?'
'Yes, and keys if that's ok?'
Kurt frowned, clearly not understanding fully what was going on or what was being asked of him, but after a few seconds of silence he slowly handed over his phone and keys. 'Thank you, I'll be back in a minute ok? And just remember, Blaine's a fighter... he always has been, and he always will be.'
I patted Kurt on the shoulder and then stood up and went back over to my Dad who was looking worried about Kurt. 'Do you think he'll be ok?' he asked me.
'Yeah,' I nodded. 'The shock is bound to wear off soon, especially once we get some good news from the surgeons.'
'I guess so. One of us we'll have to call Nick and Jeff. It's that anniversary party tomorrow... well today.'
'I'll call them. We'll just make up an excuse. Blaine wouldn't want to ruin their day.'
'Are you sure that's a good idea?' Dad asked. 'They're his best friends.'
'Yeah well... they can hate us for it later but at least they get their special day. Nick's proposing.'
'Yeah, Blaine told me. He would kill us for not allowing that to go ahead.'
'I suppose you're right.'
I looked down at Kurt's phone and smiled to see his wallpaper was a smiling photo of Blaine with his natural curls and holding up what must be their cat. It had been a long time since I'd seen Blaine's hair, as god intended. Swallowing a large lump in my throat, I then scrolled through Kurt's phone contacts until I came to 'Dad' and pressed call.
'What's Kurt's surname?' I asked Dad.
It eventually went to voicemail, so I rung again but the same thing happened. Then I tried the number under 'Home' and sure enough after about fifteen rings a man answered, clearly having been woken up.
'Is that Mr Hummel?'
'Yeah this is Burt Hummel... w-what's going on? It's 2am.'
'I'm sorry... um, my name is Cooper, I'm Blaine Anderson's brother and-'
'Oh my god, is Kurt ok?' Mr Hummel was well and truly awake now.
'Yes he's fine Sir, it's... it's Blaine. He was involved in a car crash on the way home from work.'
'Oh no... is... is he ok?' I could hear the hesitation in his voice. What he was really asking was, is he dead?
'Well he... he's having surgery. He's got a head injury and they um... they're trying to relieve the pressure on his brain.'
'Oh jesus... I'm so sorry. Is Kurt there? Can I talk to him?'
'That's why I'm calling, Kurt's in shock. He really needs you.'
'Of course, I'll come straight away. Can I give you my number so you can text me the details?'
'Sure. I'm calling from Kurt's phone so I have your number already.'
'Right, I'll be there soon. Thank you for calling Cooper, and your brother is one of life's fighters.'
'He certainly is.'
I ended the call and sent Mr Hummel a text telling him which hospital we were in and what floor to come to. I could have just said over the phone but it's at times like this when details get easily forgotten.
'Is he coming?' Dad asked as I pocketed Kurt's phone.
'Yeah. Dad, you look shattered. Why don't you go home for a bit and get some sleep?'
Dad gave out a humourless laugh. 'Sleep? Good one Coop.'
'Well at least go and have a rest and a break from these depressing windowless corridors and harsh lighting. I'm here and I'll call you the minute anything happens. Blaine won't be out of surgery for at least another three hours.'
'I don't know,' Dad sighed. 'I'm his Dad, I should be here.'
'And you have been since 6pm. Look, go home, see Mom and after an hour or two you'll both be ready to come back before we hear any news.'
'Ok,' Dad nodded and then he looked over at Kurt. 'What about Kurt?
'I'll look after him until his Dad gets here.'
'Make sure you call me if anything happens, I mean in Cooper, even if it's only ten minutes from now.'
'I will, I promise.'
Dad gave me a hug, squeezing tighter than was necessary. I watched him go before sitting down on the chair next to Kurt. 'Your Dad's on his way.'
For a few minutes we just sat in silence. I didn't know whether Kurt was really listening or not, but I decided to start talking anyway. It distracted me from thinking about what Blaine was going through.
'I'm really sorry we're meeting for the first time like this... I was really looking forward to meeting the guy that has reverted my baby brother to a sixteen year old again... and I mean that as a compliment, whenever Blaine and I talk he can't shut up about you... I remember after your first official date he called me at silly o'clock in the morning going on about flowers...'
It felt like I'd just closed my eyes for five seconds and then the sound of my phone ringing woke me up. But as I looked at the time (06:15) I mumbled, 'What the fuck.' It was Blaine so I decided I better take it rather than ignore it.
'Somebody better be dead,' I answered, sounding irritable.
'Coop, I can't even explain how perfect Kurt is.'
This was why Blaine was calling me at the crack of dawn? To gush about how amazing Kurt was? The fact that he was my baby brother and I loved him to bits was what kept me from saying 'Fuck off,' and putting the phone down.
'Oh great, you want to analyse your date at six in the morning? Are you mental or something?'
'Stop being grumpy, I need to talk about him. Everyone else would just put the phone down on me.'
'Why are you gays so needy?'
'So I take it Kurt is great, the date was great and life is great?'
'He's just so amazing. He's so cute and adorable.'
'We like all the same musicals and tv shows.'
'He just completely gets me Coop.'
'And when I took him home-'
'Woah, I don't wanna hear about your bedroom activities, I know how it all works thanks.'
'Coop, I took Kurt to his home and gave him a goodnight kiss on the doorstep.'
'Prude,' I couldn't help saying and could practically hear Blaine's eye roll. He was such a gentleman, I was kind of proud though as I once gave him a long lecture on relationships and sex. I was so scared for him when he came out, I didn't want him to be taken advantage of.
'Do you think it would be silly to send flowers?'
'How would I know?' I laughed.
'I just really feel the need to let him know that our date was amazing and I can't stop thinking about him.'
'Why don't you just text him?'
Blaine sighed. 'But that's so impersonal... what do you think I should do? I don't want Kurt to be freaked out by it.'
'Blaine, just send him flowers and let me go back to sleep.'
'Yeah I guess so.'
'Dude, you know I'm happy for you, but I didn't get to sleep until three this morning so your chirpy post-date enthusiasm is hurting my head.'
'Then why did you pick up?'
'I was banking on someone being dead.'
'Sorry, just being honest.'
'So what flowers do you think I should send?'
'Oh jesus, kill me.'
'...He's just so happy with you. I've never known him feel so content with his life. I was starting to worry about him you know, I mean he was happy enough but there just wasn't anything lighting up his life. All he really cared about was his job... I understand you're feeling utterly horrible right now Kurt, but we both know Blaine. He'll be up and about again in no time, fretting over what bow tie to wear or getting excited over a new brand of hair gel. Don't give up hope; Blaine needs us... especially you. You're his future; it's you he lives for.'
Ten minutes later a man and a woman came rushing down the corridor towards us, stopping when they saw Kurt, relief on their faces. Kurt's Dad immediately bent down in front of him and put his hands on his shoulders. 'Kurt, are you ok?'
'Dad,' Kurt whispered, choking back a sob.
'I'm here buddy,' Burt said, moving to sit on the chair on the other side of Kurt and hugging his son close.
I stood up, feeling as though this was a private moment for them. I walked over to the woman and gave her a weak smile. 'Hi, I'm Blaine's brother, Cooper.'
'Carole, Kurt's step mom. I'm so sorry to hear about Blaine, we're so fond of him. He's a lovely man.'
'Thanks, yeah he's pretty special.'
'Has there been any more news?'
'Not yet. We're waiting for the surgeon to finish.'
'That means it's all going to plan right?' Carole said and I felt like hugging her.
'That's what I thought.' I took Kurt's phone out of my pocket and handed it to Carole. 'Kurt's phone. Um... now you and Burt are here would it be ok if I went off for half an hour?'
'Of course,' Carole smiled. 'We have your number.'
'Kurt's been worried about his pets, I'm just gonna go and check on them and feed them.'
'Oh no no,' Carole replied, shaking her head. 'I'll do that, you stay here.'
'No buts. Burt and I both brought our cars, I'll drive over to the apartment... it might actually be best if I take them home with me. It won't be a good idea for Kurt to be alone whilst Blaine's in hospital.'
'Are you sure? I don't want to cause you any trouble.'
'Of course, it's no trouble at all. Blaine's part of our family.'
'I guess you'll be needing these,' I said, giving Carole the keys to the apartment.
Carole spent a few minutes with Kurt, giving him a big hug and telling him everything was going to be ok, before leaving. I didn't know what to do with myself, stand or sit down? Stay still or pace the corridors? Kurt seemed somewhat comforted, cuddled up to his Dad with his eyes closed.
'How you doing Cooper?' Burt asked me.
'Honestly? I don't know.'
'I can see in your eyes how scared you are... it's ok to be scared.'
I swallowed deeply and took a deep breath. 'I've just been on autopilot. Blaine would want me to take control, to... to be the strong one.'
'Blaine wouldn't want his brother to take on more than he can handle,' Burt said and I nodded. 'But you've got to do what's right for you. Coping comes in so many different forms, just because someone appears ok doesn't mean they are.'
'Has Blaine been giving you one of his lectures?' I asked and Burt gave a small smile.
'Your brother's smart Cooper. He's smart enough to know there's too much waiting for him on this side of that door.'
Ok, so that went straight to me. I turned around and closed my eyes. Don't cry.
It wasn't until 6am in the morning when the wait was finally over. I've never been a religious man, but had found myself praying on and off during the night, clasping my hands together tightly and praying I wasn't about to lose my little brother. So many things had been going through my mind, why didn't I come home more often? Was I a good brother?
Blaine's surgeon came out of the OR, still dressed in his scrubs and looking tired. He must have been due to clock off several hours ago. We really didn't appreciate doctors enough and the miracles they're involved in every day.
He asked us all into a private room. There was me, my parents, Kurt, and his parents. The atmosphere was incredibly tense as we took our seats and waited with bated breath for the verdict. Kurt looked white as a sheet.
'Firstly, I apologise for the long wait you've all had,' he started. 'I know it's been a long night for you all. Blaine is just being taken to recovery at the moment.'
There were a lot of sighs of relief. 'Thank god,' my Dad said quietly and Burt kissed the top of Kurt's head and whispered something in his ear.
'Blaine sustained a head injury in the crash, no other injuries apart from some cuts and bruises. Although he was conscience when the paramedics arrived, it quickly became apparent he was going downhill fast. His speech was slurred; he was confused and got simple questions incorrect. He was scanned as soon as he arrived here and we found swelling and a blood clot on his brain. We've been successful in removing the clot; however the next 48 hours are going to be a tough ride for him. He's completely sedated to help his body recover and bring down the swelling in his brain. I don't want to give you all false hope, but we got to him quickly, he's young and it's highly unlikely, in my opinion, that he would suddenly get any worse.'
The surgeon took a moment to allow what he'd said to sink in before continuing. 'Now, there is always a small chance of complications and infection the longer he's kept asleep, so be rest assured we will not keep him sedated for the sake of it. As soon as the pressure levels have returned to normal we will begin the waking up process.'
'How long does that take?' I asked.
The surgeon looked reluctant to answer for a moment. 'Everyone is different, hours... days... weeks. There's no telling especially at this very early stage.'
'Is it possible Blaine could be...' my Dad began to ask, but trailed off, not being able to finish. The surgeon understood what he was asking though, could Blaine be brain dead? Could he wake up thinking he was only 12 or something?
'I can't give you a definite answer, but as I said before we got to him quick, which significantly reduces the chance of any long term damage. So those signs are good at the moment.'
'Can we see him?' my Mom asked, trying to hold back the tears.
'Not at the moment, I know that's not what you want to hear, but please believe we have Blaine's best interests at heart. He'll be in recovery for the next two or three hours which is a sterile area and then we should be able to move him to intensive care. So probably in about four hours. I would strongly recommend that you all take some time out, even if it's just to go home for a little while. Blaine will need you all to be strong for him.'
'If we talk to him, will he be able to hear us?' I asked.
'Maybe,' the surgeon smiled. 'The truth is we don't really know. But we would always encourage people to talk to the patient.'
'Thank you so much for saving our son's life,' Dad said.
'You're welcome,' the surgeon replied.
I couldn't wait to get home. Even just ten hours away from them, I missed them terribly. Maybe it was uncool in this day and age, but I loved my home life. A meeting after work meant I didn't pull up outside the house until 18:30. I went in, hung my coat up and went to find the two loves of my life.
In the living room, the lights were dimmed and the radio was playing very softly. Blaine was lying on his back on the sofa; George (named after the future King of Britain of course) curled up asleep on his Daddy's chest. I was so glad we'd decided Blaine was going to be the biological father, George's curls were the cutest thing in the world and looking into his eyes was just like looking into Blaine's. It made my heart melt every time.
'Hey,' Blaine said, noticing me watching them from the doorway.
'Hi,' I smiled.
I went over and knelt down in front of them and kissed George's forehead. He squirmed a little but stayed fast asleep. Then I looked up at Blaine and kissed his smiling lips.
'I'm jealous,' Blaine said.
'I don't get the first kiss anymore.'
I rolled my eyes. 'You're such a child sometimes.'
'I'm sorry I couldn't keep him awake; he was so tired poor thing. Mom said he wouldn't go down for his nap today because Joey and Cookie were being particularly entertaining.'
'That's ok,' I giggled. George was completely enthralled by Joey and Cookie, I guess for him it was like having real life teddy bears. 'At least it's Saturday tomorrow.'
Blaine beamed. 'I love weekends.'
'Well, so I guess it's just a quiet night in for the two of us then... I might just let my husband have his wicked way with me later... maybe I'll even ride you and-'
'Kurt,' Blaine gasped, stroking George's head. 'Not in front of the baby.'
I couldn't help laughing, Blaine was so cute. 'He's six months old and asleep.'
'Here,' Blaine said, carefully lifting George up.
I took him in my arms and stood up, just staring down at the adorable sleeping boy. Blaine got to his feet and stretched after being in an awkward position for too long. Then he walked up behind me, putting his arms around me and his chin on my shoulder.
'Sometimes I just can't believe he's ours,' Blaine said quietly.
'I know, he's so perfect. How did we get so lucky?'
I jumped and my eyes flew open, my heart racing. I blinked a few times and focused to find my Dad staring at me from outside the car, holding the door open. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Blaine. Hospital. I felt like I was going to be sick.
'We're here Kurt. You ok?'
'Yeah, I just... I had a dr...'
'Dream?' Dad asked and I just nodded. Was it dream? Was there such a thing as a vision? It had seemed so real, I could even recall the smell of George's hair and-
Fucking hell Kurt, get a grip.
I felt tears stinging in my eyes; I was feeling an overwhelming sense of grief for somebody that doesn't even exist. I was well and truly going out of my mind.
'Kurt? Are you sure you're ok? Do we need to call the doctor?'
'I just need some air,' I replied, getting out of the car and taking a few deep breaths of fresh cold air. The whole world was wrong and didn't make sense. My Blaine was lying in a hospital bed and not in my arms. He must be feeling so alone, and I was miles away. I couldn't do this.
'I have to go back.'
'What?' Dad asked, looking worried.
'I have to go back.'
'Kurt… you heard what the doctor said. Nobody will even be able to see Blaine for a while.'
'I don't care.'
'Please, just come inside. Try and have a bite to eat and a sleep on the sofa. Build up your energy.'
'No…please just take me back... I'll sleep in the corridor... just please.'
'What if it was Carole? Or Kip? Or me?'
I knew it was emotional blackmail, but I really didn't care. Dad thought for a moment before saying, 'Ok, let's go.'