Title: Someone That I Want To Know
Characters/Pairings: Cooper + Blaine (not romantic!)
Word count: 3,848
Summary: The Sadie Hawkins dance doesn't just break Blaine's bones, but also the relationship Cooper once had with his brother. His surprise visit to McKinley should have been better thought out though.
Warnings/Spoilers: If you don't want to know about Blaine's brother, then don't read it. Otherwise, it follows most of what we know about canon, but from a different perspective. Vague references to On My Way and the concept of suicidal ideation, but it's angst and it's me, so you should expect that element by now..
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Glee, FOX, Ryan Murphy or anything else related to the Glee universe.
When he received the first text message, he was on the landline phone trying to negotiate a new set of deals and offers and really didn't care about what his phone said.
When his phone beeped and buzzed for a second time, he told Brian to hold on just a sec so he can check it was nothing urgent.
He nearly dropped the phone.
B in surgery at hosp. No need to come.
Just got the OK from hosp that B is out of surgery and on a ventilator.
"Brian, look, I- I'm gonna have to call you back," he choked out.
"This is sort of important, Cooper," Brian said but Cooper barely heard him.
"My little brother is in hospital, Bri. Nothing is more important than that right now."
He didn't even bother saying goodbye, just hung up and started dialling his mother's cell number with shaking hands. She only sent the text message less than five minutes ago but he had to wait six rings before she answered.
"Hi Cooper." She sounded so, so tired.
"What the fuck happened?"
She scolded him for language but even that sounded forced. "He went to a dance with another boy. The other kid's father found them by the side of the road and called 911. It's about all we know right now."
Cooper shook his head, wondering how Blaine possibly thought Ohio had changed enough to allow him to go to a dance with another boy, for heaven's sake. He wasn't criticising his brother being gay. Far from it. He couldn't care less. Blaine was still his brother. And he'd kind of expected it from the way Blaine would chatter about the male Power Rangers rather than the girls, or played with Ken dolls rather than trucks. It was little things that didn't fall into the right gender stereotype that had prepared him long before Blaine had finally realised and come out a few months ago.
"He's alive," his mother said shortly. "You don't need to come to Ohio. We're not sure how long he's going to be out of it anyway."
"I should be there." And he should. He really should. He suspected his father wasn't even in the waiting room with his mother, because he was pretty sure his father had a week-long business trip to Seattle.
"You're not his parents, Cooper."
She might as well have stabbed him in the heart. His mouth was already open to spit words back but he forcibly closed it with his hand. Losing his temper won't help him.
"Call me when he wakes."
She hung up. There was no goodbye, no I love you, but it was about as much as he expected and at least Blaine was alive
The first week was bad but the second week was downright torturous. The ribs on Blaine's right side had been so badly shattered the doctors were keeping him sedated and intubated to give them and the punctured lung time to heal without being jostled. They assured that Blaine wasn't in any pain under the drugs and it was the only thing that really kept Cooper sane those two weeks, knowing his little brother was too out of it to know what was going on or that he was still in LA.
But he also couldn't work right now. He barely slept or ate, laying in bed and staring at the wall as if it might hold some answers, as if it might hold back the tears. The terror he felt was nothing to how Blaine probably felt when he got beaten up but it was enough to leave him feeling breathless from the constant bouts of crying.
Midway through the third week, the doctors took him off the ventilator to give him a chance to breathe on his own and start strengthening his lung. It was another couple of days before Blaine woke up and Cooper paced the house restlessly, waiting for the call that Blaine recognised everyone in the room and he didn't have any form of brain damage. There'd been a minor bleed in his brain from the blows he'd taken to the head, but Blaine got the all clear mentally and Cooper felt he could breathe a little easier for the first time in weeks.
Finally he got the call and his heart was shredding itself in his chest as he waited to hear Blaine's voice. He'd been told it was still husky after having a tube down his throat for two weeks but he didn't care. It was one thing to be told Blaine was alive. It was another thing to actually hear it for himself.
"Coo…p," Blaine rasped, and if that wasn't the most wonderful sound to Cooper's ears.
"Oh God, Blaine. I was so scared. I thought-"
"Coop." There was a little more strength behind it and Cooper fell silent. "Why didn't…you c-come?"
Cooper's heart dropped to his feet like it had just died and turned to stone. "Mom told me not to and-"
"Mom?" Blaine laughed and then stopped to gasp in pain. "Coop, you never listen to mom."
It was true. He didn't. Oh God, why had he listened to her this time? Of course he should have flown to Ohio on the next plane out of LA.
"Cooper." Blaine's voice was little more than a whisper. "I hate you right now."
The line went dead. He almost thought it was an accident but there was no way the line just spectacularly cut out after something like that.
He realised the phone was still pressed to his ear a minute later and when he prised it away to stare at the blank screen, something inside him snapped and he hurled it at the wall before he even fully registered what he was doing. It shattered into pieces, bits of glass and plastic bouncing off the wall.
He didn't really feel any better though.
It became harder to breathe over the years. He'd checked it out with the doctor once who'd just looked at him funny and said his lungs were fine. He made excuses for not going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas that first year, and barely manages Christmas the second year. He hadn't spoken to Blaine again. They didn't talk any more. They didn't even make eye contact over the dinner table. Not that Cooper didn't stop staring at his little brother, who was still several inches shorter – maybe he was never going to have that growth spurt – but who had a look about him that was too perfect, too poised. He reminded Cooper of their father, who was as distant and disinterested as ever, talking business with Cooper like he'd spent years doing a commerce degree rather than toughing it out in LA and trying to crack into the performance business.
When it's time to return, Blaine didn't come to the airport to say goodbye.
He didn't even leave his bedroom.
It all felt so unreal. Blaine was the little brother that Cooper practically nursed and brought up. Blaine, who would tell him everything on the way home from pre-school while he held onto Cooper's hand, now didn't even bother with a hello when Cooper came home. He returned to the doctor's office, wondering if everything was okay with his heart. Sometimes it felt like it was breaking. The doctor eyed him strangely again and said that he was physically fine and would he like a referral to a therapist? Cooper shook his head and walked out.
He still heard news through his mother. He stayed in LA with his new girlfriend for Thanksgiving and went with her to San Francisco to meet her family for Christmas. It was easier than another year of silence from Blaine. His mother said something about Blaine performing at a concert and how wonderful it was to see him smiling again, even though Blaine wouldn't explain why. Later, he heard about Blaine's attempt at wooing a Gap employee and his face was in his hands because God, hadn't Blaine learned about public displays of gayness in Ohio? Their mother had laughed fondly and said that there was someone else in Blaine's life anyway, Blaine just didn't realise it yet. Cooper had frowned and wondered what she meant.
And then the day arrived that his mother called him, more excited than he thought he'd possibly ever heard her, to announce that Blaine had a boyfriend. Officially. Cooper couldn't decide if he wanted to smile or cry because he'd always imagined Blaine would be the one telling him but at least someone was there to love and talk to Blaine when he seemed to pretend his older brother didn't exist. He had the opportunity to go home and meet this Kurt kid later in the year for the festive season – and really, he should go because he still hasn't introduced Sarah to his family – but weaselled out of returning for the second year in a row because Sarah had a conveniently timed pregnancy scare over Thanksgiving and worked herself half to death in the lead up to Christmas and he didn't want her driving north to San Fran as she was.
In the early new year, he received a DVD of the Christmas Special Blaine was involved with and he watched it until it infiltrated his dreams, the pictures of his brother singing and dancing and laughing and just so much different from what he remembered seared into his memory. Sarah found him crying into the cushions on more than one occasion and does little more than hold him and hush him.
The world dropped out from under him when his mother called to let him know there'd been an incident and Blaine was in the hospital again. It wasn't severe apparently: a scratched cornea that'll need some laser surgery. But it was the implication of the whole thing that Blaine got hurt and Cooper wasn't there again. Sarah struggled to deal with the way he shut down and frequently fought with him to get out of bed and eat something. They break up just after Valentine's Day and he wasn't even sure if he was sad about it. He was too wracked with guilt over Blaine, really.
His mother called again, a few weeks later, to say that Blaine's Glee club was going to Nationals. She gushed about how wonderful Blaine's little solo was – nothing compared to how he headlined the Warblers – and how grown up he was getting. She talked about the Warbler boys too. They had a new soloist who'd mixed things up and she could finally see the potential they actually had when they moved in their perfectly practiced choreography. She pondered whether or not Blaine would be capable of beating them next year when McKinley lost so much talent because of those graduating and the Warblers had a waiting list of people wanting to try out.
But hidden amongst all the talk about the Regionals performance, Cooper caught two pieces of information. The first was that Blaine had some friends who had decided to get married except that it had gotten called off after a bad traffic accident had left a girl in a wheelchair. The second was that some kid who had given Kurt trouble had found his way onto a psych ward after attempting suicide. Cooper felt sick with the easy, clinical way she talked about things not related to Blaine. It was like before Blaine had been in the hospital and on a ventilator. She zoned in and out of things that were worth paying attention to.
So he booked a ticket to Ohio and got on a plane without much warning. There was nothing going for him in California right now and whether Blaine was close to the kid in the psych ward or not, the concept of suicide was enough to rattle Cooper enough to return.
But really, for all Cooper's supposed intelligence, deciding to turn up at Blaine's new school and search the hallways for him was a stupid idea. He'd thought it was good. Blaine couldn't avoid him when he was surrounded by people and the expectation to keep a smile on his face. Instead, Blaine shot him looks that were so filled with venomous hate that Cooper kind of wanted to curl up and hide. They pretended everything was fine when people were watching, and Cooper got the chance to meet Kurt, but once there was no one else around, Blaine pressed his lips together and maintained a stony silence.
The lessons with the McKinley kids were so ridiculous he wondered why or how he'd been temporarily hired. He wanted to beat his head into a wall with how seriously they took his advice, but instead found himself in the auditorium, watching some kids messing around with instruments up on the stage. They couldn't see him. They didn't know he was there.
Until Blaine came out and started singing.
He knew the song and couldn't stop himself from reacting and joining in, and the hurt and the hate took Cooper's breath away. For the first time in years, Blaine was actually staring him in the face and there was so much pain. He realised he should have come back for Thanksgiving and Christmas, regardless of how awkward it was. He should have demanded his mother put Blaine on the phone. He should have sent Blaine text messages that were random and unrelated just to force some connection between them, even if it was one-sided.
He barely noticed when the song finished and he was completely unaware of the band around him, his chest heaving as he stared at Blaine.
"B, I'm so sorry."
Blaine laughed but it was bitter and broken. "Apologies mean nothing to me."
"Why are you here, Cooper? What gives you the right to just float on back into my life?" Blaine wrapped his arms around his waist as he gazed down at the stage. "You left. You left and you didn't come back even when I needed you, because mom told you not to."
"I can never-"
"No, you can't ever," Blaine snapped, shaking his head and inhaling slowly. "You come back when a friend of mine winds up in a wheelchair. You come back when you hear that a kid I distantly know tries to kill himself. But you don't come back for me?" Blaine's eyes sparkled with unshed tears when he looked up at Cooper again. "What the fuck sort of a brother are you?"
"The worst sort." He was having doubts about returning again. Maybe he shouldn't have come. Maybe it would have been easier if he'd stayed away. Their relationship was so shattered Cooper wasn't sure it was repairable.
Blaine glanced around the empty stage and Cooper wondered when the band had left. "I could have done it, y'know."
"Killed myself." There was a ringing in Cooper's ears that wasn't like the school bell. "It would have been so easy. Dad's always at work and mom's always just…vacant. And you weren't there. You didn't come back for over a fucking year."
"You told me you hated me!"
"Do you have any idea how drugged up I was?" Blaine asked and Cooper shook his head. He'd never even considered it. "I was so fucking high I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that my brother wasn't there when I woke up. Neither were mom or dad but you. God, Coop. I expected better from you."
"I expected better from myself," he whispered. He wasn't sure if Blaine heard it. Maybe Blaine didn't need to.
"Would you have come back if I'd died?"
Cooper stumbled forward a few steps but stopped when Blaine retreated. "Of course I would have, B. I-"
"Good to know you'd have returned if I'd died, but the fact I only almost did wasn't enough."
"Don't lie to me!" Blaine yelled, and it echoed around the auditorium. "Don't fucking… You don't get to care now."
"I always cared."
Blaine snorted and looked away, out across the seats. "You didn't even come when I got the lead in West Side Story."
"I wasn't sure I'd be welcome."
Blaine's shoulders slumped as he dug his fingers into his waist, like he was trying to hold himself together. "It's not me that never came home. I never left. I just waited, like some sort of fucking idiot." He chewed his lower lip and in that moment, Cooper could recognise the shy boy he'd taken to his first day of kindergarten. "But I'm done waiting. I'm done. So just go back to California and…a-and have a nice life."
His heart broke as he watched his brother crumple into sobs. He went to move closer but then saw Kurt moving from between the shadowed areas in the curtains, wrapping his arms around Blaine without a word and glaring fiercely at Cooper. Blaine turned into the familiar arms and Cooper could see what Blaine saw in him, because he was that little bit taller and stronger and put together. He'd watched Kurt throughout the week. Not quite as much as he'd watched Blaine certainly, but he'd watched Kurt. He thought they worked well together, even though he didn't know his brother any more so he couldn't be quite sure how they fitted.
"I think you need to go," Kurt said shortly, his hand on the back of Blaine's neck and trying to hush his cries. "You've done quite enough."
"I'm not going," Cooper said firmly. "I get it. I get I haven't done enough. I haven't done anything. But fuck, Blaine, you're still my brother. I still love you. I fucked up. I realise that. I should have come back. I should have ignored mom and been on the first plane back to Ohio. I should have never left your side and I should have destroyed the people that put you there."
He could tell by the look on Kurt's face that Kurt understood what he was talking about, and he wondered if they even had any secrets. Distantly, he wondered if they'd slept together.
"I know I'm a joke for a brother. I wouldn't want to be related to me. I wouldn't want to date me. I hurt you and I hurt us and I'll never forgive myself for that." He swallowed down the lump in his throat. "But…but if you really don't want me in your life, then I- I'll respect that. I'll never give up hope that it might change, that maybe you'll want me again for something but I…I realise you've moved on. You grew up while I was away, you grew up when I didn't come back and I missed out on that. And if you…if you're sure, then you never have to hear from me again."
He turned away, his eyes searching out for an exit before he fell apart and got sucked back into the depression he'd let suffocate him for years. He wasn't sure where he was going, shoving through the curtains, following the glow of the stage lights until he found an Exit sign and pressed on the emergency door. The sunlight hit him hard but he didn't care, bending over the rail and trying to remember how to breathe. His knees hit the metal of the platform as he bent in half, sobbing and gasping for air but finding everything increasingly hard, increasingly dizzy. He cupped his hands over his mouth, trying to stave off the panic attack or feel like he was doing something useful, but it wasn't enough. He was only faintly aware of how badly he was shaking because the burning in his lungs was overwhelming, but he just couldn't breathe.
And then arms, warm and secure and strong, stronger than Cooper could ever hope to be, holding onto him, clinging like the monkey Cooper had teased him about being when he was a toddler that demanded endless piggyback rides. He was still struggling, choking on breaths that he couldn't inhale properly. The trembling in his limbs was almost out of control as Blaine gripped him harder and murmured something that sounded foreign and underwater all at the same time.
He was distracted, startled, by a set of hands in his hair and when he fought to raise his head, Kurt's crystal blue-green eyes were gazing back at him.
"C'mon Cooper. You need to breathe," Kurt said gently, his thumb brushing off the tears that were streaking down Cooper's face. "I don't want to give my boyfriend's brother mouth-to-mouth and I'm pretty sure Blaine doesn't want to do that to his brother either."
Cooper could feel the slide of Blaine's hand between his shoulder blades and then his breathing stopped when he felt Blaine's fingers tangling with his.
"Shh" Blaine hummed, rubbing the back of his neck and squeezing his hand. "It'll take a while but you're my brother, Cooper. I don't want to let you go."
The panic stopped, replaced by the need to turn around and clutch at Blaine and cry until he was exhausted. He tried to move, tried to pull Blaine into his arms, but he was crying and shaking too much to feel like it was comforting to Blaine.
"I'm sorry, I'm s-so sorry," Cooper babbled, clinging to Blaine's t-shirt. Blaine kept hushing him, Kurt's hands pressed down his back in repetitive patterns. Control and focus gradually returned, while the hysteria passed.
"I fucked up, I know," Cooper whimpered, feeling like a stupid teenage girl at his inability to contain himself. "I'm so sorry, B."
"I know," Blaine assured. "I'm sorry I was so hopped up on drugs that it broke us apart for so long."
Cooper swallowed, pulling back just enough to catch Blaine's hazel eyes. "Somebody that I want to know?"
Blaine gave a weak smile. "I'd like that."
"God, you two are like an old married couple," Kurt sniffed primly, picking at a speck of lint on his pants.
"Just as well I'm marrying you then," Blaine replied and Cooper stilled.
"We're not engaged, God," Blaine laughed at the expression on Cooper's face. "We just know."
Cooper glanced between Blaine and Kurt and realised there was so much he needed to catch up on. "You two have totally slept together."
"Cooper!" Blaine shrieked, shoving him away. Cooper grinned as Kurt blushed and ducked his head.
"No, it's good." Cooper patted Kurt's knee and felt himself laughing. "Although I think that's one particular detail I'll skip wanting to know for a while."
"Oh my God," Kurt muttered, covering his flaming cheeks with his hands.
"I'm already regretting this," Blaine agreed. He paused when he saw the stricken look on Cooper's face. "I don't mean literally. I…I want you in my life, Coop. I've missed you."
Cooper felt fresh tears well in his eyes and hurried to brush them away. "I've missed you too, little B."
A/N: Shh, sometimes I have angsty headcanons.
Thank you for reading. I won't be continuing, mostly because I want to see what canon Glee does in a few days! xo