"Hey, Dad?" Blaine asked timidly as he waited at the entryway to his father's office. "Are you busy?"
Richard Anderson looked from the file on his desk to his eldest son through his horn-rimmed glasses and replied, "Well, I'm not exactly free at the moment, but if it won't take long I'm sure I can spare a few minutes."
Giving a nervous chuckle, Blaine continued. "No, it won't take that long. I was just wondering…Well, you see, there is this concert that the two glee clubs are putting on for Open House tonight and I was wondering if you would like to come? It's at five and-"
"I'm sorry, Blaine, but I already told your brother that I would be at his soccer dinner." Mr. Anderson said.
A flash of disappointment flashed through Blaine's eyes for a millisecond, before he put up his interior wall. "Of course, I forgot that Mikey's dinner was tonight." This was said mostly in an undertone to himself.
"Well," Mr. Anderson hesitated, "I'll go to your next concert, is that okay?"
"Yeah, yeah. Don't worry about it, Dad. It's all good. Sorry for interrupting your work, though. Anyways, Mikey and I are leaving for school now. Oh and Mom called to remind you that her business trip is extended to Friday. Okay?"
"Got it." With that end of the conversation, Richard went back to the file that he was reading before Blaine had come into the room, or at least tried to. He knew that Blaine was lingering, waiting for something. 'Please go, please go, please go,' Richard thought over and over to himself. Blaine only waited two seconds longer before he heaved a very low sigh and left.
As soon as he was gone, Mr. Anderson put the file back down on his desk and dropped his head in his hands. The familiar, unpleasant feeling he always got whenever dealing with his eldest son was back reaching havoc to his stomach. He had long ago identified this feeling; guilt.
Despite what many would think, Richard Anderson loved his eldest son a lot. The only problem was that he had difficult trying to express that love. Every time he tried, he seemed to fuck it up so badly that it usually end up creating a bigger rift between the two o them. The unfortunate Anderson family curse of fathers being unable to connect with their sons seemed to have been carried through to him and Blaine, regardless of the promise Rich made when he first held Blaine within moments after he was born.
Rubbing his eyes, Richard began to reflect on the relationship he has with Blaine and when it all fell to hell.
The answer to that question was simple: the day Blaine came out to him and his wife when he was thirteen years old. As soon as he heard Blaine say the words "I'm gay," a part of Richard shut down. He felt as though he was having an out of body experience, where the body was listening to his son come out, while his apparition was coming up with all these horrible scenarios about how Blaine may end up in alone in a ditch left for dead. When Blaine tried to look to him for some type of reassurance, Richard failed to give him one. There was so much that he could have said- he could have told Blaine that everything would be okay, that he still loved him, gay or not- but he couldn't get the words out. There were many times when Richard wanted to tell Blaine that being gay wouldn't be the end of his life. That Blaine could still be whatever he wanted to be and other people wouldn't care about his orientation at all. But even he knew that wasn't true. However, he knew that if he just showed that he was supportive, Blaine wouldn't feel as like he committed a crime. And that was the beginning of the deterioration of their relationship.
When Blaine had come to him to tell him that he had asked a boy to the Sadie Hawkins' Dance at his school, warning bells chimed in Richard's mind. In trying to voice the concern churning in his heart and mind, the words that were expressed sounded accusatory and filled reprimand. He was just trying to show that he cared, and in the end, he sounded like a bigoted fool. Blaine had left the night of the dance being completely angry at him, and Richard knew he deserved it.
That night, while he was waiting for Blaine to come home with his wife and younger son, a sense of dread was building up inside his heart. He knew something was going to happen- he didn't know how he knew, but he just did. However, nothing could have prepared him for that phone call from the hospital telling him that his son was just brought in because he and his friend were beaten up. He literally felt his heart plummet into his stomach, and felt all the air from his lungs disappear. He had never been more scared in his life.
Upon seeing his son connected to all the machines when he was finally able to see him, Richard made a promise that he would do whatever he could to make sure that Blaine would be safe. Which was why he enrolled Blaine to Dalton. He spent countless hours searching the web for a school with a highly enforced zero-tolerance policy, because there was no way in hell he would allow something like this to happen to his son again. As soon as he found Dalton, it didn't matter how much he would be paying for the semester, his son would be safe and that's all he cared about.
He also made a promise that he would try harder to bond with Blaine and restore their relationship to the way it was pre-coming out. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done.
Spending time building a car with both his sons seemed like such a good idea at the time. He had no idea that it would be misconstrued by Blaine as an act to make him straight. In retrospect, he probably shouldn't have teased Michael so much about how girls are extremely impressed with men who could fix cars and excluded Blaine so much. It was just that talking to Michael is a lot easier than talking to Blaine. Maybe it's the fact that they are much too alike, as his wife would often say.
It also didn't help that Richard made excuses every time Blaine asked him to come to anything he was a part of. He never went to any of Blaine's award ceremonies or fencing tournaments, or even any of his Warblers' concerts despite the fact that he was lead soloist. And every time he came home with a certificate of excellence or a first place trophy, Richard's heart would swell with pride. Yet, it would only for a moment before the guilt sets in. Guilt over not being the father Blaine obviously deserves. He could never be ashamed of Blaine, instead he was ashamed at himself. He couldn't hug his eldest son or pat him on shoulder, yet he had no problem roughhousing with his youngest. Why could he be happy for his younger son when he told his wife and him that he had a girlfriend, but be filled with nothing but dread when his eldest son told them he had a boyfriend? Why couldn't he tell Blaine how much he admired his strength for choosing to go back to public school after what he went through? Why did he always leave everything unspoken between the two of them? He had such a wonderful child, and he can't even tell him that to his face.
After some hesitance, Mr. Anderson reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Opening the 'New Text Message' screen, he sent Blaine a message:
'I'll pick you up when your concert is over. Mikey's dinner should be over by then.'
That night, Richard Anderson went to McKinley High School to pick up Blaine. He pulled up the sleeve of his watch and saw that it was almost seven o'clock. That was the time Blaine had estimated the concert ending. Of course, Mr. Anderson realized that shows sometimes don't end when they are expected to.
It's just been a long night really. Mr. Anderson was so tired from having to talk to all those soccer parents. They were all going on and on about petty things, and it can get quite tedious to listen to all that. Although, if he was quite honest with himself, the guilty feeling that was always present lingered, so he couldn't enjoy the dinner as much as he could have. Thankfully, the dinner was over quickly, and Richard was able to drop Mikey home and then come to McKinley before seven.
A rampant thought fluttered his through his mind as he observed the crowed parking lot. If the show wasn't over, maybe he could sneak in and catch the ending. 'At least that way the guilt would go away for a little while,' he rationalized.
Turning off the car, Richard got out and went inside the school. He saw a student passing by, so he asked her, "Can you tell me where the auditorium is?"
The student replied, "If you just go straight down here, and then make a right, you should be there."
Richard nodded to her in thanks, and walked down the hall until he reached the door.
Slipping in quietly, he took a seat at the very back of the auditorium. He knew that the darkness would prevent anyone on stage from noticing him. Which is exactly what he wanted. He did not want Blaine to see him. Why he didn't, Richard couldn't tell you, he just didn't.
He had apparently made it for the finale, at least that is what he gathered by listening in to the conversation between two very pristine looking, asian parents happening in front of him. Mr. Anderson waited with bated breath, nervously.
His body was reacting so strange. He was acutely aware of the blood pumping in his veins, there was a pounding in his ears, and his lungs couldn't seem to get enough air. What is going on? Why did he feel as though he was about to witness some life-changing moment?
Before he could analyze his bodily reactions anymore than he already had, the curtain on stage was pull apart to show a bunch of band students, who started to play their song right away. Soon, other students joined in on the stage, coming from both sides. Richard was barely able to make out which one was Blaine because he was so far away, but there was no mistaking that gel-helmet hair.
Mr. Anderson had never thought hearing his son perform would affect him the way it did. Seeing that happy look on his face as he danced and sung his heart out with his friends and boyfriend, it was mesmerizing. Blaine was so carefree and so… so… Amazing. Richard couldn't believe his eyes or ears. Why didn't he know how talented his son was? He obviously had to have been if he was the lead soloist in an acapella chorus at Dalton, but this went above and beyond Mr. Anderson's expectations.
As soon as the number was over, Richard followed everyone's lead in standing up for a standing ovation. He clapped so hard his hands were red and burning. He was whooping and cheering as loud as the same asian parents sitting in front of him. He was bursting with joy and pride and love for Blaine, but then it all stopped abruptly. He needed to leave and get back to the car before Blaine found out he had seen him perform.
When Blaine had got inside the car fifteen minutes later, Richard wanted to tell him how amazing he was tonight. He wanted to tell him that he had never been more proud of him. But as soon as he turned to look at Blaine, who was no longer the same happy Blaine that was on stage performing, the words died on his lips.
Instead he asked how the concert went, and got in reply a small, "Fine, how the dinner?" to which he replied back, "Fine."
The rest of the ride back home was filled with thick silence and words not said. Richard Anderson had never hated himself for being a coward more than he did at this particular moment.
He wanted to cry.
The next day, Mr. Anderson left his office early for the first time in a long, long, time. He couldn't concentrate at all. He kept thinking about yesterday, and how much he really needs to fix his relationship with Blaine before it becomes unsalvageable. Watching him perform made Richard realize that his son was amazing and he shouldn't be afraid to tell him so. In fact, he shouldn't have had to hide away in the back of the auditorium and run back to his car before anyone realized he was there. He should have been in the front row being one of those loud, obnoxious parents telling anyone around, "That's my boy up there, that's my son!"
As soon as he got out of the building, he drove to McKinley, walked down to the auditorium, slipped in silently again, and watched the two glee clubs practice together.
Richard didn't know what to expect, but what happened was a long time coming. And he was so thankful that it did.
"Okay, Blaine, it's your turn. Go ahead whenever you're ready." Mr. Shue called out from the audience.
When Mr. Shue and Ms. Corcoran suggested a little break from the tension that was sectionals with a project, it seemed like a good idea. That way both New Directions and the Trouble Tones would be able to have its members sing songs they wanted to without worry about competition for once.
It wasn't until the theme of the project was revealed to be for each member to find a song that means something to him or her did Blaine start to have trouble with the assignment. The Warblers never had times where they just randomly sing songs alone, they always sang together. Here at McKinley, things were different. He should know that by now seeing as how Finn liked to remind him every time they had Glee. Seeing as how this was the first real solo project Mr. Shue had given them since he transferred, Blaine really wanted to show everyone that he was a real team player.
Blaine had a song all set and ready a week ago, and would have been the first to perform, but he didn't want to seem too eager and give everyone something to get prissy over. So he waited patiently, deciding it may be best to perform his song after the Open House concert. It wasn't until yesterday did he change his mind and decided to sing another song.
He was really nervous about his song change though. He would be wearing his heart on his sleeve, open to ridicule and criticism. However, he felt like he needed to sing this song, to finally get everything he's been hiding for years off his chest. Maybe, if he could get through with being able to tell his peers what he felt inside, he would be able to tell the one person he really wanted to: his father. At least that was how he felt this morning.
Now, however, was a different story.
Blaine slowly dragged his feet across the stage with his face pointed to the ground, until he was right in the center of the stage underneath the turned off spotlight. He felt sick to his stomach, his hands were shaking, and he could feel a bead of sweat running down his spine.
For once in his life, Blaine Anderson did not want to perform. What was the point of performing if he could never be good enough for his father? What was the point of pretending he was fine with the fact that his father would never love him as much as he loved his younger brother? Why did he have to get the short end of the stick every time- the "I'm sorry I couldn't make it"s and the "I promised your brother I'd go to such and such sport dinner first"s? Why couldn't his dad just realize that he was still the same Blaine he was before he came out? That he still loved the same things, that despite being gay, he still loved sports and was more than willing to discuss statistics and make playoff predictions with his dad. Just once, just once, Blaine would like to have his father tell him that he was proud of him. That after all these years trying to be the perfect son, to make up for the fact that he was gay, didn't go to waste. His only wish every birthday since his thirteenth birthday was that one day Richard Anderson would not be ashamed to say that Blaine, in all that he is, is his son.
Three years should have been enough for his father to get over his sexuality, but apparently it wasn't. His father still decided to go to Michael's award ceremony instead of the New Directions fundraiser concert, even though he told Blaine he would try to come. He should have expected it because that always happened, even when he was at Dalton.
His dad never came to any of his Warbler concerts, nor did he come to any of his fencing competitions. He trained super hard and practiced non-stop for both, in the hopes that he father may actually end up coming to see him and cheering him on. But it was always just hopeful thinking. Every fencing tournament he won, he would smile politely and accept his first place trophy. The Warblers would then take him out to celebrate with dinner, and then when he gets home he would place the trophy on his shelf and cry himself to sleep. Trophies mean nothing; he would trade away every academic award and competition trophy he received for his father to just come to one thing he participates in.
"Blaine? Are you ready?" A voice cut through his musing.
Looking out and seeing the slightly worried look on Mr. Shue's face, Blaine gave himself a mental shake. "Ye-eah, of course, Mr. Shue." Blaine cursed inwardly at the fact that his voice came out shakier than he wanted it to. He knew that he was about to breakdown, and he really hoped that it wouldn't be until after his performance.
"Right, so," Blaine cleared his throat, getting a bit flustered. 'I can do this,' he chanted in his head. 'Just get through this.' He turned his gaze onto Kurt, who had a bright smile upon his face and gave Blaine a thumbs up. The corners of Blaine's mouth twitched upwards meekly, as he gave his boyfriend a thankful glance. "Right, so, the assignment was to sing a song that means something to you in this point of your life. Well, this song, this song has been something I could relate to for the few years, since I came out. I hope…I hope I can do this song justice and don't completely butcher it." He ended his speech with a small shrug.
Blaine looked to Kurt again for strength. 'Courage,' he told himself. And with a deep breath, he signaled for the band to start playing.
Hey, Dad, look at me
Think back and talk to me
Did I grow up according to plan
And do you think I'm wasting my time
Doing things I want to do?
But it hurts when you disapproved along
And now I try hard to make it
I just want to make you proud
I'm never gonna be good enough for you
Can't pretend I'm alright
And you can't change me
Blaine started to feel a tightening in his chest. This is what heartbreak feels and sounds like. He never thought that singing this song would affect him so much. He had no idea that all these years of unexpressed pain and anguish that he kept in check under his dapper exterior would accumulate and snowball into this unbearable feeling. It felt as though a dam had suddenly been blown apart to shreds and the water is just gushing out rapidly, unstoppable until it all let out. Blaine felt both afraid and relieved at the same time, because he knew that once this song was over, that was it. He wouldn't be able to control his emotions and reign them back in.
I try not to think
About the pain I feel inside
Did you know you used to be my hero?
All the days you spent with me
Now seems so far away
And it feels like you don't care anymore
Now I try hard to make it
I just want to make you proud
I can't stand another fight
And nothing's alright
Memories upon memories floated through Blaine's mind at this verse of the song. Blaine remembered that once upon a time, he wanted nothing more than to be exactly like his father. He would follow him everywhere whenever he could, like a shadow. Blaine would eat the same things his father did (even beets, and Blaine hated beets), try to read the newspaper even though he was still too young to read, and even put on his father's shirts and ties, hoping to look more mature. His father used to call him "Little Big Man," with a hearty laugh. In third grade when he was asked to write about someone that inspired them, Blaine wrote about his dad and often told anyone who would listen that he would be a lawyer just like him one day.
Those good memories- like going out to ice cream after dinner in the summer, playing catch with the baseball and throwing the football outside until the sun set with his dad and brother- seemed to be tarnished with the memories of his dad looking at him vacantly after he told him that he was gay, stiffly telling him that Blaine would now be going to Dalton at the hospital, and all the empty promises and let downs.
Nothing's gonna change the things that you said
And nothing's gonna make this right again
Please don't turn your back
I can't believe it's hard to just talk to you
But you don't understand
Blaine was straining his voice by the time he came to the bridge of the song. He knew his sounded hoarse and that his voice was splitting, but he didn't care. Maybe the physical pain that his throat would feel would be more than the emotional pain he was feeling. Blaine felt a burning in his eyes, but he willed himself to continue. He was almost there, just the chorus left to sing. 'Please let me finish this song before I break completely. Please just let this go my way for once,' he kept repeating over and over inside his mind.
Cause we lost it all
Nothin lasts forever
I'm sorry I can't be perfect
And it's just to late
And we can't go back
I'm sorry I can't be perfect
As soon as the song was over, he fell to his knees. He couldn't take it anymore. He wrapped his arms around his torso and broke down with heavy sobs. It didn't matter to him that both glee clubs were watching as pathetic heaving sobs wracked his body. It didn't matter to him that tears were cascading down his face and snot was dripping out of his nose. He just wanted to let it all out. He just wanted the pain to stop.
He just wanted so much and got so little.
It could have been a couple minutes or seconds or hours, when he felt long lithe arms wrap around his neck. Kurt had hopped out of his seat like a bullet as soon as he saw the state Blaine was in. He pulled Blaine as close as he could get and started rocking him gently, murmuring soothing words in his ears.
"Blaine, oh Blaine. Honey, it's okay, it's okay." Unfortunately Blaine was too far gone in his hurt to register much of anything Kurt was saying. Tears were still pouring out of his eyes, and he was still sobbing noisily.
Kurt had no idea what song Blaine was going to sing and that he would react this way after he was done. He had been so elusive when Kurt had asked. He knew that Blaine and his father didn't have that great of a relationship, but he didn't know it made Blaine feel this way. No wonder he tried so hard to be perfect all the time; he just wanted his dad to be proud of him. In this moment, Kurt had never been more thankful to have such an understanding father like Burt, who loved him unconditionally regardless of his sexual orientation. Seeing Blaine like this and not knowing what to do was breaking his own heart. A few tears were gathering in his own eyes at the hopelessness he felt. Looking at the rest of the group, he saw they had the same expression written on their own faces. A few of the girls themselves were looking close to crying themselves.
Trying to wrack his brain for anything that might help calm Blaine down, he heard a strong voice call out, "I would like to speak to my son, please."
Hearing that voice, Blaine suddenly whipped his head up from where it was nestled against his boyfriend's neck, and turned to look at his father walking up to the stage.
"I don't think that's a good idea." Kurt said cooly, glaring at the cause of his boyfriend's current state. The rest of the Trouble Tones and New Directions all gathered around Blaine as a shield to protect him.
"I know I am extremely hated right now by all of you," Richard Anderson started off saying, as he looked at each of his son's friends. "But I really, really need to speak to him." He turned his gaze back to his son's boyfriend, and looked at him pleadingly.
Kurt scoffed. "If you honestly think that we would let you talk to your son after knowing about the pain you caused him, then you got another thing-" Blaine reached out his hand and touched Kurt's.
"Kurt, guys, I think it might be best if I did talk with my dad." Blaine whispered, voice ragged and low due to crying so hard.
"Are you sure, Blaine? We could definitely tell him to leave if he's-" Blaine shook his head.
"Seriously everyone, this, this is a conversation my dad and I need to have. I'll be, I'll be okay." Slowly everyone started to leave, being ushered out by Mr. Shue and Ms. Corcoran. As they passed Blaine, each one either gave him a tap on the shoulder or a hug as they left. Kurt was the last one to leave, and gave Blaine a peck on the cheek and gave Mr. Anderson his patented bitch-glare, on his way out.
"Dad, what are you doing here?" Blaine asked.
Mr. Anderson ran a hand through his hair, trying to gather his thoughts. "I, I…Blaine, that performance and what happened afterwards, was about us right?"
Blaine colored slightly, "Dad, I was, I was just trying-" He couldn't find the right words to say. He was always so eloquent and able to voice his thoughts so well. Yet, he could not find anyway to express what he wanted to say. This always happened whenever he tried to talk to his dad about anything. He has the chance to tell his father everything, and he going to blow it.
"Blaine, before you say anything, can you let me talk?" Richard looked at his son, and as soon as he was given the go ahead, he continued. "I am so sorry. So, so, so sorry. You have no idea how angry I am at myself for making you feel the way you are feeling right now. Blaine, you have to know that I don't hate you, nor am I disappointed in you at all! You're my son, Blaine, and hating and being disappointed in you was never an option to me. God, you need to understand, Blaine, that if I ever made you feel like you didn't mean anything to you me, you are wrong. So, so, so, wrong."
Seeing that Blaine was still listening intently, Richard grabbed his son's hand. "The way I've treated you, I just didn't know how to handle you being gay. Not because f the fact that you were gay, but what you would have to go through for being gay. Every time I read a story of a teenager being gay-bashed or a suicide, I pictured you. I kept telling myself that you would be okay, but that didn't erase my worry. Jesus, Blaine, the night I got the phone call that you were in the hospital because you got beat up turned my blood cold. I was scared shitless. I prayed the entire way to the hospital that you would be okay. Seeing you connected to all those machines was probably the scariest moment of my life. I kept coming into your room to check on you that entire night because I was afraid something might go wrong.
That night I made myself a promise that I would spend more time with you. I tried to spend time with you, to get to know you, after you came back from the hospital because I almost lost that chance. However, it just seemed that every time I tried, I did something to mess it up. I know you think that rebuilding that car with you and Michael was some ploy to get you to be straight again, but that wasn't why. I just wanted us to go back to being the way we were, and I had no idea how to express that. I know you think that I don't love you, Blaine, that I wished that you were straight and not gay, but that is just not true. The fact is, Son, I love you so much that I can't find the way to express it clearly. I know I've messed up our relationship badly, if that song is anything to go by, but please give me another chance to make it up to you, Blaine. I swear I will be a better father to you, Blaine, I swear."
Mr. Anderson looked at his son with hopeful eyes. He knew that he fucked up badly, and the chance that he could salvage their broken relationship was really low. He just knew he couldn't let anything be left unspoken, he had done that long enough.
The silence hung heavy in the air though, as Blaine contemplated what he should say. For the first time in a long time, he was able to actually articulate what he wanted to say to his dad. Reaching out and grabbing his hand, Blaine pulled his father close to him and hugged him tightly. "You aren't too late, Dad." Blaine said simply. "If you are willing to try, so am I."
Pulling back out of his son's embrace, Mr. Anderson took Blaine's face in his hands so he could look him in the eye. He said in a clear voice, "I love you, Son, and am so proud of you." And seeing that bright smile on Blaine's face, the same smile that Blaine used to give him when he was younger, gave Richard the affirmation that the two of them would be okay after all.