Disclaimer: Anything you recognize is not mine.
"What did you say?"
The question makes Blaine flinch as if he'd been hit, even though he's sitting across the table from his dad. John Anderson is tall, broad shouldered, and even with all the color drained out of his face, he makes for an imposing presence. Swallowing the bitter taste of fear in his mouth, Blaine repeats himself.
"You're twelve," John says, sounding strangled, "How can you know?"
And Blaine squirms in his seat, because he isn't sure about how, just that he's felt different since forever. Like when all his friends started talking about girls and he panicked because he didn't have any interest in the way Susan Miller's hips swing when she walks or how a strange mixture heat and embarrassment curls in the pit of his stomach when they're changing for gym and Blaine accidentally sneaks a glance at someone.
He can't tell his dad about that or about Andy, who explained being gay to Blaine. (They sit next to each other in English and their friendship started when someone wrote queer on Andy's binder in ugly black letters. Blaine had heard the word but didn't know what it meant, but Andy was the one to patiently explain what it meant.)
"I just know, Dad," Blaine finally manages, "It's not like it changes the fact that I'm your son."
His dad's eyes bulge out at that and he swallows, Adam's apple like a bobber on one of their father-son fishing trips. Next to him, Blaine's mom gently touches her husband's forearm. He jolts back to life, clearing his throat and scrubbing at his eyes.
"Let's just finish eating dinner. We'll discuss how you're feeling later."
Like that, his parents are back to discussing the upcoming block party between neatly cut bites of meatloaf. Blaine stares down at his own plate, breathing slowly and carefully to keep from crying, trying to convince himself that he's not invisible.
"You free today?"
Those are the words that Blaine hates the most this summer, because they're followed by his dad's awkward smile and some kind of all day activity.
At first, it was no big deal, because John always took his son fishing over the summer, just like Grandpa Anderson did for him. Those trips were fun when it was just the two of them in a boat, casting out countless lines and talking about absolutely everything while they waited for a bite. Every since that Blaine came out, though, the trips are silent and being in the little boat for hours with his dad feels like torture.
Blaine had even told his mom this, but all Maria Anderson did was kiss his forehead and say, with her dark eyes unreadable, "He's trying his best, baby. He really is."
So, Blaine puts up with the horrible fishing trips and how his dad always has tickets to see the Reds or Indians play at home. (Never mind the fact that they both hate baseball and don't talk there either). It's half-way through July and Blaine is texting Andy in his room when there's a familiar knock on the door and John pokes his head in, smiling like he's afraid of what will happen if he doesn't.
"You free today?" He asks, like he's reading from a script. (Maybe from How to De-Gay Your Son For Dummies, Blaine thinks, trying not to be bitter and failing).
Blaine smiles back though, feeling fake but still pleased, because this might be the thing that will make his dad okay with having a gay kid. He tells Andy that they'll talk later, tossing his phone aside and pushing himself out of bed. "What do you have in mind, Dad?"
When his dad brings him down to the garage, where a rusty car sits on cinder blocks, Blaine tries not to look disappointed.
"What happened, Blaine?"
It's the first thing his dad says, so quiet compared to the sound of Maria Anderson sobbing and holding her son's good hand that Blaine nearly misses it. His head aches and throbs in time with the rest of his body, feeling like he's just one big injury.
It takes a moment of serious effort to focus on his dad's face, only leaving Blaine with enough energy to go, "Huh?"
"What happened to make them so angry? Was it your friend?"
John's voice is hard to read when it's so soft, but even in his haze, Blaine feels stung by the question. He and Andy didn't do anything at the dance other than show up and leave together. Sure, they danced near each other and talked, but it's not like it was a date. They're gay, not stupid.
Blaine wants to tell his dad all of this, but a nurse shuffles in and steals his opportunity. She asks him a few questions about his pain (there's a lot of it) and promises that she'll bring him something for it. If he squints, Blaine can tell that her name is 'Carole' and when she moves to give his mom a little hug, he immediately likes her.
"I've got a boy his age," The nurse says kindly, "And if Blaine is anything like him, this cast will be nothing compared to the first week with his driver's permit."
His parents laugh politely at the joke, but once the nurse is out the door again, John turns back to his son. He's frowning and pinches the brim of his nose, a gesture that Blaine has learned to associate with disappointment in his fourteen years of experience.
"We don't have to talk about it tonight, but if you want to press charges, your mother and I need to know what happened, Blaine. A defense attorney's job is to make the victim look bad and I don't want you getting hurt in the process."
Blaine nods dully, thinking of his broken body and how embarrassing it will be when he has to go back to school and how Andy might not want to be his friend anymore. All those things hurt, but not with the same sting of being called a "victim" for the first time in his life.
"How long?" John asks, making his son jump about a foot in the air.
It's barely even seven in the morning and Blaine didn't know that his dad was home, let alone awake. He's embarrassed to be caught like this: his hair messy from sleep and the only clothes on him an old pair of sweatpants.
Still, he focuses on not burning the eggs in the pan when he answers, "I got up a little bit ago. I'm making breakfast for Kurt and I while he gets ready. A group in town is doing Oklahoma! and we have tickets for the matinee."
John watches his son from across the kitchen, not saying a word. It makes Blaine's skin itch, because while his dad has never been directly homophobic, it probably wasn't the best idea to (inadvertently) tell his dad about how he and Kurt are spending their two month anniversary. Not that Blaine ever summoned up enough courage to tell his parents about his boyfriend.
As he's transferring the eggs to a plate, Blaine sees that the bottom are still a little burnt and curses under his breath. John clears his throat and it makes his son feel embarrassed all over again. He offers his dad an apologetic smile, "Sorry about that. It's just that Kurt is a really good cook and I don't want to disappoint him."
"You have a hickey on your neck," John says, making it sound like an accusation, "How long have you been messing around with that boy?"
Blaine's face feels hot and he almost drops the plates when he spins to check his reflection in the microwave. Sure enough, there's a light mark on his collarbone. If Blaine had put on a shirt when he woke up, it would have been hidden. He feels like a complete idiot, but Blaine ignores the heat in his cheeks and tremble in his knees in order to look his dad square in the eye.
"I'm not messing around with Kurt. He's my boyfriend."
Blaine wants to tell his dad about how happy Kurt makes him. How it seems like Blaine can be an actual teenager now, instead of acting mature for the sake of self-perseverance. He wants his dad to understand that when they kiss, Blaine feels like the world makes sense for once in his life.
He knows he can't say anything like that though, because his dad's mouth is tight and his eyes unreadable. After a moment that stretches into eternity, John sighs and says, "You have to tell your mother by the end of the week."
Like that, he's gone from the kitchen. Blaine stands there, feeling like his insides have turned to stone, until he hears Kurt call his name from upstairs. Jolted back to reality, he decides that he won't let his father ruin their day.
"Why would you tell everyone?"
Their driving home from the holiday office party where John works. Maria is asleep in the passenger seat, so her husband keeps his voice low and eyes fixed to the road. It doesn't matter either way, because Blaine knows he's pissed by the way his dad rushed them through goodbyes.
Every year it's the same thing: John Anderson brings his family to the office party, where everyone congratulates him for have a lovely family. His parents spend most of the time schmoozing with all the other personal finance advisers and their spouses. Every now and then, Blaine will get thrown a question, but no one really listens for his answers.
Except this year, when Mrs. Pike (who works down the hall from his dad) gives him a quick hug that smells like expensive perfume and asks, "Tell me, Blaine, are you seeing any nice girls lately?"
Maybe it's because they won't get to spend the week of Christmas together or maybe it's because of how much he hated being Kurt's "holiday roommate", but the question hits Blaine harder than it normally would. He wants to shout to the whole room that he's in love with the closest thing human beings can come to perfection and sing soppy ballads about how amazing there love is(never mind the fact that Blaine does that whenever the opportunity arises).
Blaine settles on saying, "Actually, my boyfriend and I have been together for a little less than a year."
He shows Mrs. Pike a picture of Kurt off his phone, smiling magnificently in his Sectionals tuxedo. Her smile is tight, but she still wishes him the best before moving on. By the end of the night, the news about Kurt's existence had spread throughout the party and lead to Blaine ignoring his dad in the car.
"Blaine," John says, "Why would you tell everyone about Kurt?"
"Why are you so ashamed of having a gay son?" Blaine shoots back, spite burning hot in his chest.
The past four years have been a constant battle between Blaine's heart urging him to scream at his dad for every wrong and his head telling him that it wouldn't be right. He used to fantasize about telling John off, only to have it magically fix everything wrong with him and his dad. Now that he's finally spoke up, Blaine regrets it.
His words hang in the air, sharp as a blade and heavy as the stone that seems to be sinking into Blaine's stomach. His dad isn't saying anything back, just staring straight ahead as always. Blaine pictured theatrics: passionate yelling, quick tears, and a warm embrace. Except all his dad does is go heavier on the brakes at the next stoplight.
Finally, John says, "I'm not ashamed of you, Blaine. It's just that some of the people I work with aren't the most understanding when it comes to these…situations."
The fact that he's been reduced to a situation stuns Blaine. No matter what his dad may say, it doesn't change the way he turned white when Mrs. Pike asked why Kurt didn't come to the office party or the look on his face when Blaine told his parents he wanted to graduate early and enroll for the spring semester in New York next year. He may only be sixteen, but Blaine knows shame when he witnesses it first hand.
Yanking his iPod and earbuds out of his coat pocket, Blaine doesn't even take the time to untangle the cords before blasting Perfect as loud as it will go. He loses himself in P!nk's voice and thoughts of Kurt when they have their own Christmas exchange next week, eventually drifting off against the window.
The rest of the car ride is silent, but John Anderson keeps sneaking glances at Blaine in the rear-view mirror. There's a quiet ache in his chest, because if his son thinks for one moment that John could ever be ashamed by him, he's failed as a father.
"You love him, don't you?" John Anderson says this so quietly, that Blaine isn't really sure if it's a question or a statement.
It's January and Blaine leaves for New York in a week, because his early graduation plans had gone off without a hitch. He's going to NYU, unsure of his major but with a job secured for him on campus and housing set up in Kurt and Rachel's apartment.
Now all that's left to do is box up his room so Blaine's stuff could be shipped. Kurt had come over that morning, helping Blaine go through his closet for New York essentials. ("I'm not going to let you be one of those people who look homeless by the middle of the semester," Kurt explained, looking at Blaine's collection of pajama pants like it was the work of the devil.)
Blaine was sorting through his movies while Kurt got them carry out for lunch when his dad walked in. They didn't talk for a long stretch, so when John finally spoke up. Even when he plays the words back over in his head, they don't make sense to Blaine, because his dad's voice has never seemed so understanding.
John keeps talking. "When I was your age, there was no way that I'd move across the country for my girlfriend. And as much as you like to say that this isn't just for him, I know you better than that, Blaine. One letter from someone at Dalton and you could go to any college in the country, but you limited yourself to one city."
"I don't regret that decision," Blaine replies, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling.
"I'm not saying that you should. It's just that those are the kind of things that people in love do. And I want to know if you really love that boy."
It would be nice if he could use Kurt's name, but Blaine isn't about to argue semantics when his dad is having an epiphany. He nods carefully and then, with bravado he didn't know he could manage, he says, "I love him more than anything in the world, Dad."
Blaine hates how hard it is to read his dad at times like this, when John just inhales slowly and stands up. He's not smiling or anything, but places a warm hand on Blaine's shoulder and squeezes.
"I'm happy for you. Even when we fight and it seems like I'm not," before continuing, John presses a kiss to his son's forehead, something he hasn't done in years, "I won't always understand you or the choices you make in life, but I'll always love you."
And Blaine has an epiphany of his own; that maybe he wasn't the only one feeling misunderstood these past few years. He pulls his dad into a tight hug and, while this isn't the catharsis he imagined, it's so much better.
This is a promise for the future and, for once, when Blaine closes his eyes and pictures how is life with Kurt will go, his dad is in the picture. And it only feels right to say something he hasn't said in what seems like forever.
"I love you, too, Dad."