Characters/Pairings: Blaine + Cooper
Word count: 3,632
Summary: He hasn't been back at school very long, but the taunts and laughing have increased. He doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know how to cope. He's breaking apart, unless Cooper can talk some sense into him..
Warnings/Spoilers: Self-harm plays a factor, along with suicidal thoughts. Please please please be careful.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Glee, FOX, Ryan Murphy or anything else related to the Glee universe.
He was curled up in the tiny gap between the toilet and sink, rocking back and forth with tears streaming down his face. It felt like too much, too much, too much, but whether it was because his hitching breaths made it impossible to breathe or because there was the stabbing pain in his chest from too much crying or the pounding behind his eyes or the words on a loop in his brain being too much he wasn't sure. He tried shoving several of his fingers in his mouth, biting down hard on the skin to try and stifle his desperate sobs.
He knew, dimly, that he shouldn't be curled up like this. He'd only gotten out of hospital two weeks ago and his body was still mending. His arm was still in the navy cast and his ribs were screaming in protest at the cramped position he'd gotten himself into. But it was the only thing that was comforting, the only thing that allowed him to become as small as possible and try to be hidden from everyone.
His breathing stopped for a moment as he choked on saliva and tears and snot, gagging in desperation for oxygen, clutching at his aching chest as he shook uncontrollably. He knew his parents wouldn't be home for another few hours, knew that Cooper would probably be by at some point because he never seemed to be far away any more, so he didn't have long to try and get himself under control. Except he was too far gone, too panicked and distraught that his life had been threatened at the same school he'd nearly been killed at for attending it with another boy. He couldn't understand why his parents wouldn't let him transfer somewhere else, anywhere else. He wasn't safe. He wasn't even sure that they'd talked to the school about ensuring his safety after the attack that had left him in a coma for three days and in hospital nearly a month. It didn't matter. The bullying and the taunting was continuing unchecked. He no longer looked at his emails and his phone stayed off, lest he be bombarded by dozens of messages detailing ways that he should end his life after it had "so sadly" failed to end a couple of months ago.
The coppery taste of blood flooded his mouth and he realised with a sickened gasp that some of his teeth had broken the skin on his hand. Tiny indents which beaded blood as he watched and his stomach twisted with horrified interest at it. The pain, the ruby red blood, worked to centre him, pull him back together when he hadn't been able to on his own. He didn't want to think about how wrong it as, how awful and disgusting, because the terror in his body was easing as the blood started to clot and slow.
He tapped at the spots with his casted arm and was once again fascinated at the dark colour, the strange texture, the calming influence it was having on his psyche. It was like knowing he could still bleed meant he was still alive, even though he'd had to deal with that very notion for weeks after waking up with Cooper clinging to his hand. The very hand that now had a ring of teeth around several of the fingers.
The blood stopped and as the realisation sunk in, his anxiety started to grow again. He needed more. His hands shaking, he unfurled his limbs and struggled to his feet, searching for something, anything, that was sharp. He wasn't going to make a habit of this. He just needed to feel better. Needed to calm himself down again. There was a flutter of triumph in his chest when he found an old straight razor that he thought his father had used once, or maybe Cooper when he'd first started shaving. It didn't matter anymore, because before Blaine was even fully aware of his actions, he'd shoved up his sleeve on his uninjured arm and several neat lines had been cut into his skin, the slightest amount of blood welling up from the deepest one.
It wasn't anything bad. It had just cut the surface, the capillaries. A little bit of blood but rather a lot of release. It was fascinating to watch the blood form tiny bubbles on top of the cuts and he wiped them away, trying to get more blood, trying to stay distracted. There was a voice in his head screaming that it was bad, so so bad, and he needed to stop. And then there was another one, begging for more, crying out for more, and the tears felt slick on his cheeks as he shakily pressed the razor a little deeper.
He hissed in pain this time, his fingers curling and his palm sweaty. It still wasn't deep, but it had hurt. He wasn't breaking through the numb panic of before. He could feel now, and it burned and ached and tingled in a way that was kind of foreign, but also reminded him of when his skin had been split two months ago on the pavement outside his school. Scared, sickened by what he had done, he dropped the razor into the sink and turned on the water, letting it swirl away the evidence on the blade while he gathered up some toilet paper and gingerly dabbed at the cuts until they stopped bleeding and he could wash away the smudge of blood.
They were pink and raw, the skin around each slice inflamed and puffy. Occasionally a tiny prick of blood would emerge, but mostly it was the burning in his arm that he noticed, localised to that area and completely distracting and overwhelming his senses to pay attention to anything else that had been steamrolling through his brain for the hour or so since he'd gotten off the school bus and sprinted for his front door, trying to escape the taunts and jeers.
With a bit of rummaging, he found a square of gauze and some tape and whimpered softly as he pressed it to the fresh wound and bound it down. He knew the tape would hurt to get off with the hair on the back of his arms, but he needed to hide the cuts and protect them from infection. He was already wearing long sleeves to try and hide his cast so this wouldn't be any different. He remembered in primary school when kids would break their wrist or leg, how everyone would clamour over one another to sign their name or doodle pictures. But not him. Not after what had happened. No one wanted to talk to him or look him in the eye. No one wanted to touch him or his cast. Maybe they feared they'd be infected and become gay too. Maybe he'd been deluded all along that anyone actually cared at that shithole of a school.
He cleaned and dried off the razor, trying to ignore the voices in his head that seemed to be shouting that if no one cared, who would miss him? His parents had returned to work two weeks after he'd woken up, satisfied that he wasn't going to slip back into a coma and that Cooper could spend his days there stroking Blaine's hand while he stared vacantly at the ceiling, or closed his eyes and stared at the back of his eyelids, too frightened to sleep, too humiliated to look at Cooper's face. There was no one at school. Cooper was as aloof as ever. What did it matter?
No. No. He had to stop thinking like that.
He rolled his sleeves back down, grabbing his hoodie off the floor and pulled it back of his head, raising the hood to cover his ears and offer some sort of ludicrous protection. His father hated it and never failed to ask if Blaine had been attacked because he was part of some "hoodlum gang" instead of the reality that Blaine had tried to explain, because he'd heard the older boys as they punched and kicked him that they were getting what they deserved for being gay. Besides, Blaine's father was well aware that Blaine hadn't been dressing like this before the attack.
He clicked open the door, listening carefully and feeling his stomach swoop uncomfortably when he realised that it was silent and he was alone. He padded down the hall, crawled into his bed under the covers and clutched at his pillow, willing it all to go away, begging whatever deity there was that he wouldn't wake up.
He woke. Of course he woke. He always woke. Except that he frowned a little and shifted, and yes, he had been right, there was a heavy limb slung over his waist and a body pressed behind his.
"Hey, B." Cooper's voice ruffled the curls behind his ears, his thumb lightly rubbing circles into the jut of his hip.
He didn't want to talk. He never wanted to talk. He didn't know how to face Cooper anymore. He felt like he'd let him down so many times. He was gay. He'd been bashed. He tried to wiggle free but the arm beneath him, the arm with the gauze, snagged and he let out a tiny yelp at the sudden burn that erupted from it.
"Hey, what's wrong? Are you hurt?" Cooper was sitting up in a flash, trying to meet his eyes which he shut. He cradled his arm to his chest, protecting his wrist with the heavy, solid protection of the cast, as the guilt flared within his chest, hot and angry. A tear slipped from his eye and over the curve of his temple before Cooper's hand was there, cradling his cheek and catching it with his thumb. "B?"
He shook his head, trying to move away, but Cooper had years of dealing with his stubbornness and wasn't going to yield. He grabbed for the arm Blaine had bandaged beneath his sleeves and Blaine let out a strangled, pained sob.
"Blaine, what is it? Did someone at school hurt you? Did you break your other arm? Is it a bruise?" Cooper tried to tug Blaine into his arms, but when Blaine wouldn't budge, wriggled closer instead to curl protectively around him. "B, please? Tell me what's going on."
But he couldn't. He couldn't explain to Cooper what had come over him and made him do that. He couldn't even explain it to himself. It felt like the anxiety was starting to claw at his throat again and he knew what he wanted at the same time as denying it to himself, because Coop was home and because he wasn't going to become dependent on something like that.
Cooper huffed under his breath, manhandling Blaine's body until Blaine was the little spoon and Cooper was snuggled around him, breathing warmly against Blaine's neck as his fingers tried to loosely twine with Blaine's.
"I just want to help you," Cooper whispered, his voice cracking a little. "We weren't sure you were going to wake up and I…I would never have forgiven myself if that had happened. There's so many things I want you to experience, so many things I want to share with you as you grow older, and if you hadn't woken up…"
Blaine knew he didn't need to finish the sentence because it had been finished so many times before. If he hadn't woken up, Cooper wouldn't have gotten a chance to be the big brother for the rest of his life. He would have just been Cooper Anderson, eldest and only son, and it never would have been the same for him again.
The security of being in Cooper's arms warmed his fragile mind, and he pressed his body back a little into Cooper's, letting Cooper know that he was sorry and he just needed a bit longer. There was an unspoken thing between them that had existed as far back as Blaine could remember, that Cooper would lay against him for as long as Blaine needed, until his worries had started to settle and he could share them. Of course, those worries had only increased in recent years after announcing he was gay, but the unspoken message allowed Cooper to relax and nuzzle his nose into the curve of Blaine's neck while he waited.
Blaine stretched his fingers until he could grip onto Cooper's a bit tighter, his mind riotous. "S-sometimes…I really, really wish I hadn't woken up." He only noticed the tiny catch in Cooper's breathing, the subtle increase in the pressure of his hold because he was expecting it, but he wasn't sure how to continue because he knew Cooper would probably end up crying.
Cooper's thumb brushed over the knuckles of his hand. "Are you…depressed?"
Blaine raised one shoulder in a shrug, glancing down at where his brother's hand was linked with his and glad that Coop couldn't see his face right now.
"I guess so?" Blaine sucked his lower lip between his teeth. "It would be easier to be dead than dealing with this."
Blaine scrunched his eyes shut for a moment. "I'm…still getting bullied at school. And some people have gotten my phone number and email. I've been threatened with being attacked again o-or they've…given me, um…solutions to my problem."
Cooper stilled so much Blaine wasn't sure if he was breathing.
"They um…it's…it's like, I don't know. Advice? Suggestions on how to um, kill myself…"
Cooper curled around him so tightly that he almost admonished his brother for being clingy. "No, B. No."
The pain, the fear, the horror in Cooper's voice forced him back into silence. He couldn't admit to what he'd done earlier, how he'd felt, the meltdown on the bathroom floor.
"B, roll over."
He didn't move. He knew what was going to happen if he did.
Maybe if he just shut his eyes…?
Cooper growled, climbing over him and sliding onto the tiny patch of bed along the other side. "Look at me." He squeezed his eyes tighter and Cooper lightly smacked his cheek. "Goddammit, Blaine. Look at me."
With the beginnings of another sob-fest creeping up his spine, Blaine let his eyes drift open, blurry with tears. Cooper's eyes were sparkling with unshed tears as he reached up to cup Blaine's cheek.
"Don't you ever…" Cooper glanced away, up at the bookshelf or his dresser or something.
Blaine dropped his eyes down to where his fingers were fidgeting with the edge of his cast. He could practically hear Cooper's heart breaking and it made him feel sick. "Blaine?"
Cooper's fingers pressed into Blaine's face a little firmer. "You haven't seriously considered it, have you?"
Blaine swallowed, his desperation to keep his eyes away from Cooper's making his answer obvious.
"No," Cooper repeated, his voice breaking as he squeezed closer to Blaine, clutching at him like he might disappear. "No. I won't…I w-won't let you."
"No one would care," Blaine whispered, his eyes slipping closed as tears started to leak from the corners of his eyes. "N-no one wants to sign my cast or talk to me. It's j-just jeers and laughter and supplying me with friendly h-help."
"Fuck, Blaine. I'd care," Cooper said, his arms winding around Blaine until he could hold him properly. "I'll sign your cast. I'll sign the whole damn thing in different styles so it looks like you got a whole bunch of people to sign it. Please just d-don't…"
Blaine nestled his face into the top of Cooper's chest as Cooper tucked his chin into Blaine's hair. "It'd just be s-so much easier."
"For who?" Cooper's hand splayed over Blaine's back. "For who, B? For mom and dad? For people at school? For me? I know not everyone is showing you that they care right now, but that doesn't mean there won't be people ever. What if you turned a corner and met the love of your life? What about the whole destiny and soulmate thing? What happens if you die and he just ends up alone?"
"You don't truly believe that," Blaine muttered.
"Who knows what I believe?" Cooper shrugged. "Some days I think I'll find the cure for growing old, and other days I'll just find a way to make you smile again. But giving up, B…I can only imagine how hard this is for you, but I'm not prepared to have you die on me now after not eating or sleeping for three days. I don't really believe in God but I still prayed and made bargains and promises and you dying now would cause some sort of crisis upstairs."
"Upstairs? No. Downstairs."
Cooper shook his head and squished Blaine's body against his. "God would prefer that we love each other equally, than discriminate. He's not going to care as long as you're happy and loved and lived a long life."
Blaine felt tears welling in his eyes again. "But I don't know how anymore…"
Cooper exhaled slowly. "You keep waking up every morning. You keep eating. You accept the cuddles from me and tonight, we sit mom and dad down to talk seriously about you transferring the hell out of that school."
"No buts, B. I'm not going to have them encouraging you to die," Cooper interrupted, his voice firm.
Blaine hummed a little, nuzzling against Cooper's neck, his fingers curling into the fabric of Cooper's shirt.
"That's not all though, is it?"
Goddamn Cooper for being so damn noticeable and intuitive about the random tics in Blaine's habits.
"What else is there?" Cooper said, his voice quiet but encouraging.
"I…." Blaine swallowed several times, struggling to put the words together and spit them out. "I hurt myself, earlier. Um. It's not…it's not bad but….I guess it just…it exists…"
Cooper froze again, his arms tightening. "I want to see."
"Let me see, Blaine."
When Blaine didn't move, Cooper started pushing him away and grabbing for his good wrist, the one that he'd cried out at being hurt earlier. It wasn't really hard to guess, Blaine figured. One arm was covered in plaster and the other wasn't. Cooper sat up as he unbuttoned Blaine's sleeve and folded it up his arm until he reached the square of gauze. His breathing stuttered as the pads of his fingers barely grazed the dressing.
"Don't," Blaine said shortly, covering his fear with anger. "Don't pity me."
"Pity you?" Cooper's nails got beneath the tape and he carefully, carefully started peeling it off. "I don't pity you, Blaine. I wouldn't pity you because I know how much you'd hate that." He shook his head and paused for a moment. "Did you know I once had a girlfriend who had an eating disorder?"
Blaine blinked up at Cooper, confused at the change in direction. "What?"
"Yeah." Cooper kept easing the tape off, mindful of ripping out too many hairs in Blaine's arm. "I managed to basically force her into a clinic to get better and they discouraged relationships so we broke up while she was in there, but remained good friends because most of hers hadn't been able to deal with her moods and stuff." He balled up one of the strips of tape and started on the other. Blaine hadn't even realised and wondered if Cooper was trying to distract him. "She had to drop out of college and ended up moving back home after she was discharged."
Blaine gnawed on his lower lip. "What happened to her?"
"She died," Cooper said quietly. "Complications from years of malnourishment affected her heart. She was given a few months to live a-and…she ended it before her heart could give out, or before she was put on the waiting list for a transplant."
Blaine's heart clenched painfully as Cooper tossed away the other strip of tape and carefully peeled away the gauze square. It wasn't as bad as he thought, really. The gauze wasn't even needed. None of the thin cuts had bled further although the surrounding skin was still swollen.
"B…" Cooper choked on his tears as his thumb drifted over the cuts. "No more. Please, no more."
But Blaine couldn't promise him that, so he stayed quiet, his eyes and head dropping away from Cooper's gaze. He squirmed his arm away, holding it protectively to his chest and shaking with barely audible sobs. He'd let Cooper down so badly, he'd let himself down so badly.
"I'm going to talk to mom and dad tonight about transferring you," Cooper said firmly, shifting on the bed until he could tug Blaine's body into his open arms again. "If you don't want to be there, that's fine. I won't…tell them about this. Unless you want me to. But I'm scared Blaine. I'm so scared. It starts as something small and then it can escalate so much, so badly, so quickly. I don't want to lose you to this." His hand reached up to loosely tangle in the back of Blaine's hair. "You deserve to be happy and feel safe at school, B. I'll make sure it happens."
Blaine wasn't sure he deserved much of anything, but he didn't want to argue. He was too tired to argue. So he stayed quiet, fingers balled into the fabric of Cooper's shirt.
"Don't let me go," he whispered finally, his voice tickling Cooper's skin.
"I won't," Cooper promised, kissing softly at the top of Blaine's hair. "Don't give up hope, ever."
He wasn't sure if he could give up on something he'd already declared lost. He gave a weak nod and Cooper's hold turned strong and unbreakable, the total opposite of how Blaine felt. He only hoped it was enough.
A/N: Much like when I wrote The Box or When The Boy Broke, I was in a dark, dark place last night. I'm pretty sure I'd be lost without my words since my blades were given to someone to dispose of and when I was shaking so badly last night and didn't know what to do, I ended up writing. I suppose it's far more productive and less damaging and dangerous, even if the effect isn't quite the same.
Hmm hmm musings. Take care of yourselves, dear readers. If you ever need to talk, you should know where you can find me (PM or Tumblr, just in case you didn't).
(Oh and hey look, a Blaine-centric story that doesn't include Kurt or even a mention of him. Maybe I won't get passive-aggressive reviews over that this time.)