Title: A Blunt Question
Summary: Cooper Anderson is a therapist who volunteered for the Trevor Project, until one night he fears he failed to save a struggling boy named Kurt, and steps down. One day he meets Blaine's boyfriend, and dares to ask a blunt question.
Warnings: Depression/Suicide/Self-harm, homophobia, language.
Pairings: Kurt/Blaine, Cooper + Kurt brotherly bonding, Anderson family + Kurt
This has been stuck in my head, slowly developing ever since I started my new job back in January. Living in Britain as I do, I can't tell you what it's like to call the American line for the Trevor Project, I have only my own experiences to go from. Please drop a line to tell me what you think. Apologies for all mistakes, it's been a tiring weekend.
Over and out.
A Blunt Question
Hello, you've reached the Trevor Project. This is Cooper.
Hello? Are you ok?
I don't really know what I'm doing.
That's fine. Can you tell me your name?
Kurt. It's Kurt.
Well Kurt, you've got nothing to worry about, calling here. You hear me?
…Is there anything you need to talk about, Kurt?
I shouldn't have called-
No, Kurt. It's fine. Trust me. It's fine. You can tell me anything…come on. Talk to me?
"Cooper Anderson, my boy! Get here right now you handsome young man, and kiss your mother."
Cooper complied, tapping his mother's rouged cheek with puckered lips as he dropped his bags at their feet in the Anderson family home driveway.
"Wonderful to see you, darling. I've missed you!" Elaine Anderson cried, squeezing her eldest's cheeks between her palms and cooing fondly.
"I've missed you too, mom," Cooper grinned. He pulled out of her grasp and ushered her into the house, fumbling to collect his bags together again and follow her.
The expansive hallway hadn't changed. Still the same warm, woody scent of the pine flooring, the usual pictures hanging on the walls neatly in place. Cooper sighed as he followed his mother into the living room. He'd left his things in the hallway next to the immaculate shoe rack, and he slumped unceremoniously onto the couch, holding out his arms for his mother to embrace him again.
She was dressed for summer, as usual, in a floral pink dress and pale cardigan, and she kicked off her heels to curl her feet beneath her thighs. She fussed fondly with her son's unruly curls.
"Do you need me to buy you some more gel, dear?" she asked with eyes wide as bunny's in concern. Cooper couldn't help but smile in return.
"I'm fine, mom. Really. Where's dad? And B?" He cast a sudden glance over his mother's head, and around the room, as if expecting them to jump out from the empty fire grate.
"Oh, Blaine's still at school, he'll be home for dinner," Elaine promised sweetly, smoothing a crease in Cooper's shoulder, "Your father's upstairs. He'll be down any minute now - got a big case coming up."
"Hmm," Cooper hummed in reply, washing away his concern with another loving grin at his mother, whose expression hadn't changed from that of the delight she had radiated as she ran down the drive to greet him with. His eyes flicked briefly up to the door that led to the kitchen.
"Do you want something to drink, darling? Of course you do! Oh dear, I'll be right back with your favourite. Just sit tight."
Cooper squeezed her hand gently as she patted his knee. A yawn escaped him, and he stretched upwards and outwards, bones clicking and muscles aching, tiredness and comfort washing over him now he was back in the safe cage of his home.
As glad as he had been to get away, there was something undeniably wonderful about returning to the house of his childhood.
"You never did learn to cover your mouth when you yawned," a voice said gruffly.
Cooper leapt to alert at the sound, jumping to his feet and turning to take in the sight of his father - the sleek gelled hair greying maturely at the temples, the soft lines around hazel eyes, the age roughened tan skin.
"Dad!" Cooper grinned, pulling his father into a hug. Richard Anderson looked over his son with critical eyes that twinkled with affection before returning the embrace.
"Glad you're home, son," he admitted sincerely.
"Glad to be home, dad."
Alright. That's not a problem for me, Kurt…is it a problem for you?
Is it a problem for anyone you know?
Yes. Yes, it's a big problem.
Ok. I'm sorry to hear that…do you want to tell me about it?
Could you try for me?
"Is your mother getting you a drink?" Richard asked as he eased himself gracefully into the leather armchair as the younger man dropped back onto the sofa. At Cooper's nod, he turned his head in the direction of the kitchen. "Darling!" he shouted, "One for me, too, please!"
The request was barely voiced when the woman returned, a small tray in her hand where there perched three large glasses of a red wine so deep it was closer to purple.
"Oh, a true gem," Richard complimented his wife, pecking her on the lips as she handed him his glass. Elaine smiled warmly, her cheeks pinker than before despite over twenty-five years of marriage.
"Thanks, mom," Cooper accepted his own glass gratefully.
Once they were all seated, they fell into a brief pause of sipping silence.
"How long will you be staying for, Cooper?" Elaine asked abruptly, looking eager.
Cooper sighed, and momentarily wondered if he was the only one who felt the prickling emptiness in the room that reminded him Blaine still wasn't home yet.
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "I'm looking at where to go next, really. There's a job available at the health clinic in Lima, but-"
"Should aim bigger than Lima, son," Richard cut in. "You can go much further than Lima."
"Thanks, dad," Cooper coughed into the rim of his wine glass. "But if everyone wanted to be a bigshot in a big city, what would happen to the smaller places? I'm happy for now, and I'm a fully qualified therapist, now, so-"
Again Richard cut off his son, both with firm words and a piercing stare. "Better off being a psychiatrist, son. Better pay, and better hours."
Gritting his teeth, Cooper flushed a dark shade of puce and hid behind his wine for a moment.
"I want to really help, though, dad," he admitted quietly. "I want to make a proper difference."
"I thought you already tried that out," Richard commented bluntly, setting his wine glass down on a coaster near him with a dull thud.
Cooper glanced down at his own drink, staring into its inky depths before replying, his gaze still cast downwards.
"Just volunteer stuff," he hummed. "But I'm qualified now. I want to settle somewhere that kids really need me. Not a rich estate where a privileged kids' worst problem is being so spoiled they have no idea how to live in the real world."
There followed a tense silence. Cooper licked the wine stains from his lips nervously, not daring to meet his father's eye. He could feel the older Anderson's stare boring into the side of his face, and his cheeks began to burn with a blush.
"I see," was Richard's only reply.
Elaine soon bustled around refilling their glasses, patting her husband's arm delicately with an encouraging smile, pressing a light kiss to her son's forehead.
"Have you been done anymore of your volunteer work since we last saw you, dear?" Cooper was grateful for his mother's effort to bridge the void, and he showed her this with a warm smile directed solely at her.
He didn't quite dare to see if his father was still watching him or not.
"A bit," he replied with a soft smile of sentimentality pulling at his lips. "Mostly in a hospital. I helped with the kids on the ward and stuff. It was…nice."
He winced at the utterly terrible word choice, because cheering up a depressed six year old with cancer, or distracting a teenage ballet dancer recently paralysed from the waist down, could never be described as nice. But it was fulfilling, and he'd felt most at peace in the walls of that hospital. It gave him the purpose he'd struggled to find before.
I'm just so…lonely. I feel trapped. There's nobody for me to talk to, and I just want…a friend. Or something like that.
Does anybody know about your sexuality, Kurt?
I haven't…I never…I've never told anyone. But that doesn't stop them assuming. They already throw me in dumpsters and throw slushies in my face…but I just can't…say it. I can't admit it. I'm a coward.
No, Kurt. You're not a coward. Nobody should dictate when and where you feel comfortable enough to be so open about yourself…can I ask, Kurt, who does those things to you?
The jocks. At least…they're the worst ones.
Have you told any of the staff about it at school?
Not really. They already…they know about it. They see it. They don't care.
Have you told your parents?
My mom's dead. My dad doesn't need to know about it.
I'm sorry, Kurt.
Don't you think your dad would want to know about this?
Oh, no, he'd…he'd care. But I can't tell him.
About the bullying? Or about being gay?
"What about the call centre place?" Richard asked brusquely.
Cooper knew his father wasn't trying to be abrasive, but he flinched at the disregard, the nonchalance, with which his father spoke. He swallowed his nerves and turned back to the man in the armchair.
"It was called a hotline, dad," as Cooper was sure his father knew well enough. "It was called the Trevor Project. It's an inspirational organisation."
"And yet you quit," Richard retorted, snapping his t coolly. Cooper gritted his teeth against the word. Quit, as in coward, as in failure. He pushed the thoughts away darkly.
"I know," Cooper replied evenly. "I just found it hard. I wasn't ready for that…intensity at that point. I am now."
"Intense?" Richard asked, his tone bordering on dubiousness. "You were answering the phone, Cooper."
"What about-" Elaine began lightly, waving an airy hand in an attempt to distract the two men with trivialities, most likely a solid game of cards. Card games were safe in the Anderson household, understandable with minimal discussion required.
"Yes," Cooper snapped, "To kids - kids, dad - who reminded me of Blaine a hell of a lot. So excuse me for being a bit more sensitive about-"
"Don't accuse my son of being a weak-"
"How dare you!" Cooper leapt to his feet. Elaine flinched, scurrying to the kitchen to grab a wet cloth and clean up the red wine staining the carpet from Cooper's knocked glass. Richard, on the other hand, looked mildly impressed by his son's display. Proud, almost. "Don't you ever belittle those kids. Or Blaine. Don't…"
"Ok, ok," Richard backed down, recognising the slow dissipation of his eldest son's self-control. He waved a hand firmly, far more decisive than the flutter of fingers Elaine had attempted to intervene with, as if pushing Cooper back into his seat. "I apologise. I didn't mean to insult anyone."
Cooper seethed silently, accepting the quite genuine apology with a stiff nod.
Both men turned their focus to the woman, gently scrubbing on her knees, her hair spilling around the soft curves of her face. Her lips were pinched and her eyes lit with a delicate shine as she turned her face upwards to her husband and son.
Why would it be a problem to tell your dad?
Because he's…I already disappoint him. I'm not on the football team, and I don't like sports, and I only really help out in the garage to spend time with him - I don't actually like cars all that much. But maybe he can just think I'm only a bit of a disappointment.
I'm sure that's not what your father thinks, Kurt. I'm sure you father loves y-
I know he loves me, damnit! I know…I…
Ok, ok…I'm sorry…hey…Kurt? Are you ok?
I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I just…I'm so scared.
It's ok, don't worry about it. It's ok to be scared… Are you still with me?
Is there a reason you chose to call us tonight?
I hurt myself.
"Are you done fighting yet?" she asked, her voice cold with anger and thick with disappointment.
"Yes," father and son replied in unison, and despite the tension resting between them, they exchanged a brief smile.
"We're sorry, darling," Richard spoke for the both of them, and for once Cooper didn't mind. He nodded in agreement, returning the kiss her mother planted on his cheek when finally she finished scraping at the carpet, the crimson wine stain gone, or at the very least invisible.
"That's quite alright. I don't like this, Cooper, you've only been home five minutes!" she cried sadly.
"I know," Cooper sucked his top lip between his teeth guiltily. "I'm sorry. Why don't we go to the kitchen?"
He looked between his mother and father, the latter of whom hummed under his breath at the idea.
"I should finish my work."
Unsurprised, Cooper waved his father away before following his mother into the kitchen. She, too, looked unsurprised to see her husband had not joined them.
"Don't be angry with him, dear," Elaine begged her son as she shifted pots and piled brightly coloured vegetables onto a chopping board to be prepared.
"I try not to be."
"Try harder," Elaine replied with a wink. Cooper bumped his hip against his mother, reaching for a knife of his own to help her slice sweet red peppers.
For a while there was only the sound of knives cut, cut cutting. Cooper had grown to hate the sound of knives carving and slicing and chopping and cutting, grown to hate the metallic glint of their edges. A downfall to the specificity of his career choice, he admitted openly to himself. He could hear his mother singing softly to herself as she peeled carrots.
The familiarity brought a wave of serenity over him.
"I love you," he whispered, more to the food in his hands than to the woman by his side.
For a moment Elaine stopped, staring calmly at the bright orange stick, half peeled in her hand.
"I love you too," she replied, a quiet smile of her own on her lips as she resumed the happy domesticity of cooking dinner for her family.
They remained uninterrupted by anything, including their own voices, until the front door opened and there was the scuffle of feet hurrying inside. And softly spoken voices.
Cooper looked up, confused, turning to his mother who smiled simply at him.
"Must have brought that boy with him. I think he wants you to meet him."
Cooper's silence lasted almost three seconds before the gates of his lips broke.
"That boy?" he demanded, cracking his neck loudly as he swiveled his head in the direction of the front door.
"His boyfriend, dear, hasn't he told you?"
Unsure whether to be happy or hurt, Cooper shook his head slowly. He was about to call out to his brother, but suddenly there he was. Blaine, standing in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen.
Unfortunately, he had his back to his brother, and seemed to be talking to the person behind him.
"-believe a word he tells you, ok? He's my brother. He lives to humiliate me."
Cooper was about to interrupt when the reply tensed his muscles, and for a moment he didn't quite realise why.
"Blaine, I'm pretty sure it's his duty as your brother to be like that. I'm always embarrassing Finn, and he's only my step-brother. And Gaga knows, Finn is a constant source of embarrassment to me. Now get in there!"
The older Anderson son had barely a second to scour through his memories and place the voice from somewhere. It was burned into his memory, that lilting voice, slightly sarcastic to hide the fragility that suited the high pitch. But as soon as the thought came to him, he rejected it.
He was just being paranoid…wasn't he?
Kurt? Please, what do you mean you hurt yourself?
I was...my dad was working late tonight. I was making dinner and I was…I was singing. I wasn't concentrating. And my hand just…slipped. I cut my hand.
Kurt? So, you hurt yourself by accident?
I felt...it's the first time in so long that something that happened to my body…it's the first time it was down to me. I've got all these bruises, and some cuts on my hands from climbing out of the dumpster. And it's because of those jocks. And then I cut my hand. And it felt so good. And I don't want to be that person. I really don't want to be that person.
"Cooper!" Blaine bellowed, turning around to leap at his brother.
Not one to disappoint, Cooper wrapped his arms tightly around his brother's waist, Blaine's arms around his neck, and pulled him into a crushing hug. "B!" he cried, squeezing tight enough to make his little brother wince and wriggle himself out of his embrace.
"Mom literally just told me you've been keeping a secret from me, my little Bumblebee." Cooper waggled a condescending finger at Blaine, who narrowed his eyes playfully.
Reaching backwards, Blaine's caramel skinned hand grabbed at pale fingers, pulling into a sight a tall boy with chestnut hair and a porcelain complexion, with sharp eyes that appraised him without rose-coloured glasses. Cooper had the distinct impression he was being judged the moment the boy looked upon him…not necessarily badly, but an impression was definitely being made.
"So you're the one to blame for my boyfriend being obsessed with jumping on furniture? Or so he tells me…" the tall boy nudged the smaller Anderson as he reached to shake Cooper's hand.
"Guilty as charged," Cooper replied proudly, hiding the shudder at the voice he was almost certain had been haunting him ever since his last day working with the Trevor Project.
"Yeah, yeah," Blaine huffed, quickly kissing his mother on the cheek, who waved kindly at he guest as she prepared the meat with sprigs of rosemary and oregano. "Kurt, meet my brother, Cooper. Cooper, meet my boyfriend, Kurt."
Blaine was too busy eying his boyfriend dotingly to notice the stuttering flinch and nervous blink that briefly marred his brother's face, but to Cooper's regret it was clear by the concerned quirk of one eyebrow that Kurt had noticed.
"Good to meet you, Cooper. I've been looking forward to asking you a million embarrassing questions about your brother," Kurt admitted playfully. There was a playful twinkle in Kurt's glasz eyes that Cooper quickly surmised was one of the reasons his brother was so fascinated by this boy.
"Same to you, Kurt…I look forward to regaling you with a million embarrassing stories about your boyfriend."
Laughing together, they simultaneously patted Blaine on the shoulder comfortingly as if to offer brief moral support. Once more Cooper caught Kurt's eye, halfheartedly returning the boy's mischievous grin.
As Kurt turned to Elaine Anderson to reply to her question with a polite yes, he would indeed like to stay for dinner if he was welcome, Cooper knew he was going to have to corner Kurt at some point.
He had to know the truth.
You don't want to hurt yourself, Kurt?
That's good, Kurt. You can fight this. I promise-
I still have it.
-what? Kurt? What do you still have?
The knife. I…It's right here in my hand.
Cooper was surprised by how well Kurt got along with the head of the Anderson family.
Of course, conversation remained very superficial throughout the delicious meal that Elaine prepared, Cooper stepping up to accept the credit for the excellently chopped peppers, but he was still impressed. Richard Anderson had asked after Kurt's family, genuinely listening to Kurt as he provided a polite amount of detail when the asked about how his father, Burt Hummel, was doing with his work, both in politics and with his garage. Together Blaine and Kurt talked about school, and their Glee Club, and mentioned something about meeting up with their old Glee Club, the Warblers, on Sunday for a catch up.
And both Richard and Elaine had listened with interest, actively taking part in the conversation as if it was a natural routine.
Cooper smiled at the happy scene, effort only required to the suppress the shiver every time Kurt started speaking when he didn't expect it.
After dinner, Richard retired to his study and Elaine announced that after washing up she was going to enjoy some time in the sun room before dusk truly fell. Cooper had cursed internally, worried he wouldn't get a chance to catch Kurt alone.
But unwittingly Richard granted his eldest son a small mercy.
"Blaine, this has nothing to do with that and you know that perfectly well. We have plans to visit your grandparents early tomorrow. You've been with Kurt all week, and you're seeing him on Sunday, remember? He doesn't need to stay-"
"Of course he doesn't need to stay, dad! He's my boyfriend! I want him to stay!"
"I want never gets, Blaine Anderson. Go talk to your mother if you think I'm being unfair, but I guarantee she will take my side on this one."
Cooper could see the internal struggle in Blaine's eye, Kurt standing awkwardly in the doorway, clearly uncomfortable that he had, it would appear, inadvertently caused a fight between the father and son.
Just when it seemed Blaine was ready to retort angrily, Cooper took pity on the situation and stepped in.
"B, maybe it's for the best. We can have a catch up, yeah?"
Blaine sighed. He could hardly refuse quality time with the brother he rarely saw - rarely spoke to anymore, given the secrecy of having a boyfriend, which Cooper had to admit he was a little hurt he hadn't been informed about sooner. Blaine had once told his brother every miniscule detail about his life.
Oh how times can change…
"I'll drive Kurt home. We can have some brother-in-law bonding time." Content with his playful stirring as Richard Anderson turned a pale shade of yellow at the thought of his seventeen year old son getting married, Cooper grabbed his coat, rooting through the pockets for keys.
The argument did not get much further than that.
Kurt, just breathe. Listen to me, Kurt, are you alone? Kurt? Are you alone in the house?
My dad's asleep.
Kurt, I know you're scared. You hear me? I understand. But you need to get rid of that knife. You need to put it down. And you need to tell your father. I promise, it will-
It won't make it better! It won't make it easier! It won't!
I don't get it…I just don't get it. I'm not this p-person. I'm not.
You don't have to be this person, Kurt. It's not up to the rest of the world to make you into someone you're not. They have no right to do that to you.
It doesn't matter if they have a right to or not…they do anyway…and I'm so tired…
Blaine reluctantly bade his boyfriend farewell, begging to be allowed to go with them so as to spend a little extra time with Kurt. But it seemed shouting at his father was not to go without punishment, because Richard had closed the door behind Kurt and Cooper with a loud click, as if to lock his youngest son inside.
"Don't worry," Cooper reassured a nervous looking Kurt sitting in the front seat of his car. "I'm a fantastic driver. And I don't bite." His wink seemed to relax Kurt a little, because the pale boy smiled, his tense shoulders loosening a little.
And yet, for all Cooper's resolve that he would take full advantage of the alone time with his brother's boyfriend, they spent the entire car journey talking about Blaine. All about Blaine.
Blaine memories. Blaine moments. Blaine successes. Blaine failures. Blaine secrets.
Not Kurt. Only every Kurt and Blaine. Not Cooper. Only every Cooper and Blaine.
Blaine was, after all, the only thing they had in common. Except…
"It's just here," Kurt tapped the window lightly and Cooper halted outside a modest sized house, the curtains shut, but there was light spilling around the edges of the front window, which Cooper guessed was the living room.
"This one?" he asked, and Kurt nodded. The boy sighed, hands clasped in his lap as he looked over at the older man.
"Thank you so much, Cooper. It really was great to meet you."
"Same here, Kurt," Cooper choked a little, forcing a smile to pull his lips upwards.
There was a brief silence, as if Kurt could sense there was more to be said.
"Are you ok?" the teenager asked after a moment. A frown had creased between his eyebrows, and he shifted slightly in his seat to better face the older Anderson. "You've seemed a bit…on edge, if you don't mind me saying."
The boy blushed so easily! Colour stained Kurt's cheeks, as if worried he'd offended his boyfriend's brother.
"Kurt.." Cooper gulped the humid air in his car, only succeeding in further drying his suddenly parched throat. "I'm going to ask you a blunt question," he stated boldly, "And then we can forget I ever mentioned it, no matter what your answer is, if that's what you want."
Kurt's eyes narrowed, not suspiciously, but closer to confusion.
"O…k?" he asked slowly, wetting his lips with a flick of his tongue.
Cooper's eyes danced across the boy's face.
"Have you ever in your life called the Trevor Project?"
I'm sorry. I shouldn't have called. I can't…I can't do this. I thought…but it's not.
Kurt, you don't have to-
I'm sorry. I really am-
Kurt, this is what Trevor Project is for, remember? It's a place to look to when you feel this way-
But I can't stop-
You will. I promise there's more to life than this, Kurt-
I'm so sorry-
Kurt? Kurt! KURT! God damnit. God…fuck. Oh Christ…fuck. God no…please God, no…
The reply was in Kurt's face, and not the wordless gasps of his mouth. It was in the was he paled, and his eyes widened guiltily, and his teeth began worrying his lower lip. It was in the way his shoulders were suddenly rigid. And cold, closed off air that seemed to surround him.
"I don't know what Blaine's told you about me," Cooper continued without waiting for an explanation. "But I'm a qualified therapist. And a couple of years ago I worked for the Trevor Project. I answered the calls…but I quit. I never forgot the last call I took.
"It was a boy…and when I heard your voice, and then your name's Kurt…and there's no way it can be such a coincidence, right? Because I have spent so much of my life, my waking thoughts, wondering what happened to that boy. He turned off the call before I could help, and I was so sure I'd failed him. I thought he'd turned off the call and given up there and then. And it was like it was my fault…because he was so scared of asking for help, and I couldn't give him the help he-"
Cooper stopped his sentence to watch a crystal tear roll sadly from Kurt's eyelid to his jaw, where it rested gloomily. He stopped his sentence to listen to the gulp of Kurt attempting to regain use of his vocal chords. He stopped his sentence, because he feared he would choke if he continued.
"I'm so sorry," the boy before him whispered. And then he knew for sure. Because it was the same voice, so genuine and heartbroken, muttering a swift apology with earnest urgency.
"Oh fuck," Cooper breathed. Because it seemed there was a large gap between suspicion and confirmation. A large, painful gap.
Blaine for his part had always been a child very respectful of personal boundaries, the physical ones at least. He kept a gentle distance until he was sure a person needed a hug, or a pat on the arm, or a hand to hold. Cooper had never really learned about personal space and boundaries.
But Kurt didn't reject the unexpected hug. He allowed Cooper to pull him into a tight, brotherly embrace that coughed the air from his lungs and locked his arms to his sides.
"You have no idea how much I have wondered about you," Cooper whispered into chestnut hair. He felt distantly guilty from dampening the neatly styled hair with salty tears, but it seemed Kurt was repaying him with tears of his own seeping into Cooper's shirt.
"I never called again," Kurt mumbled into the chest of his boyfriend's brother. "I know it didn't…seem like it at the time but…" the teenager stumbled over his words. "You helped me. You did. Every time I thought about it…every time, I thought about what you'd said."
Abruptly, Kurt pulled back to sit upright once more, inspecting the older man's face with scrutiny.
"Well, not so much what you said…I thought about your voice, though. You sounded like you cared-"
"And I think that was enough for me…most of the time."
"What happened that night? After you put the phone down?" Cooper tried to sound curious instead of demanding, but Kurt didn't seem to mind when it came out as a command.
"I was so close…I sat there for ages just staring at the knife," Kurt admitted with a dark blush, his eyes seeking the refuge of his hands, too embarrassed to look into his saviour's eyes. "Then I went back upstairs, put it away in the drawer. I didn't sleep…and I think I cried a lot...but then my dad came down for breakfast, and I cooked him some eggs. I remember that."
It never failed to surprise Cooper, the tiny details that people remembered that to some were so insignificant, but he knew were almost always the most important things.
"I cooked him eggs and I knew I could never leave him."
"And that was it?" Cooper clarified shakily, and he licked a tear away from where it had lodged at the corner of his mouth.
Kurt chewed on the inside of his cheek nervously. "Well, not quite," he muttered. "My dad had a heart attack."
Immediately assuming the worst, Cooper flinched forwards slightly, as if wanting to embrace the boy again.
"He was in a coma," Kurt continued, not noticing Cooper's sudden panic. "And while he was in hospital I told myself…I made this deal. Not with God, I don't believe in God. But I decided…if he goes, then I go. You know? I guess I'll never know if I'd have done it or not. He woke up, and he's a lot better now. I think I might have done it. But…"
Cooper choked on his inhaling breath, and with a splutter he shifted closer slightly. "But?" he pressed.
"I didn't have Blaine then," Kurt said shyly, pushing his teeth into his lower lip. "I guess there's something about the Anderson sons that's good for me, right?"
The peace with which Kurt told his story, the bashful way he peeked through his lashes as he admitted the painful, deeply buried truth, sealed the last splinters of Cooper's heart. Relief washed over him and when he looked down, he realised he was holding Kurt's hand tightly. The boy seemed to appreciate the gesture, because he smiled at it before his burning gaze returned to Cooper's.
"Thank you, Cooper Anderson." It was true, and sincere, and Cooper could feel the hysterical delight building slowly in his chest until he was sure it showed on his face.
"Thank you, Kurt Hummel." It was true, and sincere, and this time Cooper watched an elated smile of Kurt's own curl his lips upwards. After a slight pause, the boy shifted, eyes on his house.
"I should get inside," he mumbled. "Thanks for the lift."
Cooper shrugged as nonchalantly as possible, a difficult feat while tears still clung to his lashes.
"You're going to be around for a while, aren't you, Kurt?" Cooper asked once the boy had one foot on solid ground.
Straightening up, Kurt Hummel looked him directly in the eye with a sparkle of amusement his glasz irises. "I hope so," he said boldly, and Cooper laughed out loud, probably louder than was necessary.
"You and me both, Kurt," he replied. "You and me both."
Kurt? Oh god. Oh god, Kurt. Please be ok. Christ, please be ok Kurt. Please. Fuck, please. Please be ok.
Everybody has a future waiting for them. Always ask for help.