Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
It was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time, didn't I, my dear?
The first time his phone rang, he hit ignore without a second thought.
He was waiting for the modeling agency to call back. They had scouted him at the mall, interviewed him briefly, snapped a Polaroid and taken down his cell number so they could send his information to the higher-ups for review and maybe, just maybe, if they liked him, they'd sign him on to join their agency. And modeling, everyone knew, was the gateway drug of the entertainment business. Modeling led to commercials, which led to small parts on teen comedies and procedural crime dramas, which led to roles in soaps, which opened up auditions for TV pilots and local films. He could already taste his profitable career.
So when his younger half-sister called him again, less than thirty seconds later, he hit ignore. Francey could wait. She could stand to learn some patience, anyway.
Cooper leaned back in his chair, idly stirring his fingertip in his gin and tonic and listening to the sounds of the noisy bar around him. He could have waited for the call at home- his father and stepmother were out of town anyway, nobody there to pry- but his younger siblings were too busy getting ready for their school dance, filling the house with the smell of hairspray and noisy pop music and their shrill excited voices. It was Francey's last winter dance and Blaine's first, and his attempts to tone down their infectious excitement led to a screaming match, slamming doors, and his own hasty exit to the bar.
His phone lit up for the third time with Francey's cheerfully grinning face, and he cursed under his breath as he hit ignore again. If his damn little sister kept the modeling agency from calling, he would die. Just die.
His phone buzzed again. This time it was Blaine.
Cooper sighed. His little brother drove him up a wall. They were seven years apart, and yet Blaine seemed determined to copy his every move. Cooper studied voice, Blaine studied voice. Cooper went to dance class, Blaine went to dance class. Cooper got a part in the school play, Blaine auditioned for the same show five years later and cried when he didn't get the same role.
He didn't understand it. He was supposed to be the artsy kid in the family, the handsome one who didn't need anything but his pretty face and his impressive performing skills. Blaine was a cute kid and all, but Cooper privately thought that Blaine should just stop. They didn't need another Cooper Anderson, there would never be another Cooper Anderson. Blaine could go to college and be a lawyer like their dad, get married and raise two-point-five kids, have the house and the dog and the boat to take to the lake on weekends. Blaine could be average. Cooper would be the star.
His phone buzzed again. He gritted his teeth and blocked it. If it wasn't the modeling agency, he didn't care. They wanted a ride home early from the dance? Fine. They could call him all they wanted, but they could just beg a friend into taking them home or something. This was important. This was his life's dream on the line.
The music playing over the bar's loudspeaker dimmed for a moment. "There a Cooper Anderson here?" the bartender called, holding up the receiver. "We got a call for a Cooper Anderson."
Cooper scrambled up, nearly overturning his drink. "Me," he stammered. "Me, that's me." He skirted over to the bar. "Who is it? Did they say?"
"I dunno, man, she sounded kind of hysterical," the bartender said as he handed the phone over. "You just break up with a girlfriend?"
Cooper shook his head as he took the receiver. "Hello, Cooper Anderson speaking," he said, keeping a smile in his voice. "Is this Competitive Edge Modeling?"
"Cooper, you need to get the fuck over here!"
He raked his fingers through his hair. "God, Frances, I'm expecting the phone call of a lifetime," he snapped. "If you need a ride home, just get one of your friends to take you."
"It's not me, Cooper, it's Blaine!" Francey shouted, and with a start Cooper realized that there was fear in her voice.
"What is it? What's wrong?" he asked, turning away from the prying eyes of the bartender. "Is Blaine okay?"
"No, Cooper, he's not fucking okay, they beat him up! We're at the hospital and you need to get over here!"
His blood ran cold. "Wh…who?" he said, his mind reeling. "What happened?"
"Just get your ass over to the hospital, Cooper, I can't sign any of his waivers or do anything with the insurance, I'm not eighteen yet and they won't let me sign, and-oh!"
He heard a muffled clang, like the sound of a phone hitting a tile floor, and before the dial tone started echoing in his ear, he heard an awful wail. His heart skipped a beat. Blaine.
Cooper threw the phone back at the bartender and bolted for the door. Cold early December air hit him full in the face, but he was so numb he didn't pay attention. He fumbled for his car door, threw it in gear, and pulled out of the parking lot so fast the tires squealed.
The drive passed in a blur; his thoughts raced so fast he didn't notice he was at the hospital until he was already stumbling into the emergency room. The nurse at the desk frowned at him. "I'm looking for my little brother," he blurted out.
"Name?" she asked.
"Anderson, um, Blaine…it might be under Zachary, Blaine's his middle name, we've just always called him Blaine…" he said, babbling helplessly. "He's, um…fourteen years old, he was…he was beaten up-"
"Right down there, triage room five," she said, pointing down the hall. The sudden change in her expression from irritation to sympathy made his stomach churn. Just how bad was it?
He pushed the triage room door wide open, ready to declare something dramatic about how it would all be okay, because he was there…but the words stuck in his throat.
His younger brother lay flat on his back, his eyes closed tightly, his hair matted and his face already darkening in shades of purple and blue. His shirt had been cut away, leaving his scraped and bruised chest bare. The boy's knees looked like raw hamburger meat, and his wrist was bent at a terrible angle. Blaine stared blankly at the ceiling, his mouth drooping a little, as if he was too weak to even keep his reddened lips together.
Francey stood beside him, her fingers laced tightly around his good hand. "You're okay, Babbie," she kept cooing, as if he was a fretful baby woken by a nightmare. She smoothed his hair away from his forehead. "It's going to be okay, baby. I promise. You're okay." The front of her pale blue party dress was streaked and splattered with blood; her fingernails were black with it. "I'm right here. You're okay."
Cooper swallowed hard. "Francey?" he said, his voice cracking a little bit.
She looked up, relief flooding her face. Blood was smeared across the bridge of her nose. "Oh, thank God," she sighed. "Coop, they need to take him to x-ray. Please, you have to sign it, they won't let me."
"Yeah, sure, of course," he said, stunned. A nurse placed a clipboard in his hand, explaining things to him in a kind voice, but it was lost as a dull roar in his ears. He signed on the marked lines with the autograph he'd practiced a million times, marking the looped C and the flourish on the A, but it brought him no joy. Without a backwards glance he dropped the clipboard back in the nurse's grip.
"Blaine?" he ventured. Blaine turned sluggishly towards him. His right eye was swollen shut. Cooper swallowed hard and placed a gentle hand on his little brother's forehead. "Hey. Are you doing all right?"
"I don't feel good," Blaine murmured. He stared up at Cooper, his lips falling slack. "Is this a dream? Can I wake up?"
Cooper faltered. "No, it's...it's going to be okay, Blainers," he said, trying to comfort him. "You'll be okay."
He wasn't any good at comforting people.
Suddenly Francey was tugging him away from Blaine's side, her hands gripping his arm. "…so stupid, Coop, get out of the way," she said, and he blinked as an orderly started to wheel the gurney out of the room. His hand wavered towards Blaine, as if he could pull his little brother back towards him. Blaine shifted to look at them, his mouth opening slightly in a faint little mewl.
"It's okay, honey, they're just going to take an x-ray of your wrist," Francey said. Cooper felt her wrap her hand around the crook of his elbow; her fingers shook and he placed his hand over hers. "Don't be scared, Blaine, we'll see you in just a little bit, okay?"
Blaine looked like he would cry if he had the strength, but the door closed behind the disappearing gurney with a sudden disheartening clunk. The second it closed, Francey lost her balance and fell into his side.
"Oh!" Cooper said stupidly. He wrapped an arm around her waist. "Oh god. Okay. Okay, don't lose it." He helped her over to a chair and made her sit down. She buried her face in her hands and he knelt down beside her. "What happened?"
Francey took a deep shuddering breath. "His date wanted to go home," she whispered. "They were outside the school waiting for the other kid's dad when…when they caught him."
"Who caught him?" Cooper asked.
Her voice was muffled through her fingers. "The lacrosse team," she said. "Four of them, against one little boy."
"Didn't anyone stop them?" Cooper breathed.
Francey shook her head. "Blaine ran away," she whispered. "I didn't know. I was dancing. And then…he stumbled in, like a zombie, just…covered with blood, and he fell. He fell right into my arms and just started sobbing." She rubbed the bridge of her nose, streaking mascara and Blaine's drying blood across her face. "I don't even remember anything after that, it just happened so fast. I just kept trying to call you. I used my phone, and Blaine's, and you wouldn't…you wouldn't answer. I just started calling all the places I thought you might be."
Shame burned in his chest, hot and liquid. "It was too noisy in the bar, I couldn't hear," he lied. He tucked an errant lock of hair behind her ear. "But I'm here now, okay? I'll fix it."
"You can't fix this," Francey said hollowly. "No one can. He's hurting so bad, Cooper, so fucking bad, and it's not just physical. He…you should have heard him screaming."
"But why Blaine?" Cooper said. "Why him?"
Francey sat up, her mouth twisting in a mockery of a smile. Her lipstick had rubbed off completely, leaving her chapped lips bloodless. "Because he brought a boy to the dance," she said bitterly. "He dared to bring a boy as his date, and apparently that meant that he deserved to suffer."
The room spun. "Blaine's…"
"Gay," Francey finished. "He's gay, Cooper. He came out to me last spring. Mom and Dad right before school started. Blaine is gay. Gay, gay…gay."
"But he didn't tell me," Cooper said. "Why didn't he tell me?"
"Oh, I don't know, Cooper, maybe because you're so wrapped up in your own ego that you didn't bother to come home this summer?" Francey snapped. "You promised him you were coming home, and you never showed."
"I had a chance to take a fantastic workshop, Frances," Cooper retorted, standing up and folding his arms. "Was I supposed to turn that down to spend the summer in Ohio, sharing a room with Blaine and mowing the lawn and-"
"The workshop lasted a week," Francey interrupted. "You spent the rest of the summer fucking around LA and going drinking with your little pretty boy buddies."
"I was networking," he shot back. "And I'm expecting a call any second now from a modeling agency, so what do you have to say about that? If I hadn't spent the summer in LA, I wouldn't be waiting for that call right now."
Francey's eyes had gone cold. "So that's why you wouldn't answer when I called," she said in a low, terrible voice. "Huh."
"It's not like that, Fran," Cooper said hastily. "I care about you and Blaine. I do. You're my siblings and I love you."
"No, you tolerate us," Francey corrected. "You love yourself."
"It's not like that, Francey, just listen to me," Cooper pleaded. "You and Blaine-"
The door opened and he stopped midsentence. "We're about to set Blaine's arm," the nurse said. "We've got him settled in a room upstairs, would you like to sit with him?"
Francey got up without a word, head held high, her bloodied party dress hanging around her in a grim reminder. Cooper followed. They didn't speak.
Blaine almost didn't recognize them when they walked in. Francey sat down beside him immediately, reaching out to cup his cheek in her hand. She bent to whisper something in his ear, her fingers running softly against the curve of his jaw line. Cooper couldn't hear what she said, but he could hear Blaine whimper in pain.
His chest ached as the doctor snapped the bones of Blaine's arm back into place with a sickening crack and his younger brother began to cry. Blaine didn't cry. Blaine got emotional sometimes, his voice cracking when he got worked up and his eyes crinkling in the corners, but he was never a crier.
He sat by helplessly as they put Blaine back together, bone by bone and stitch by stitch. There was nothing he could do but sit there, hands resting limply against his knees. Time ticked by- eleven o'clock, midnight, one o'clock. They admitted Blaine for observation- to monitor his concussion, they said. A concussion. Before this, Blaine's worst injury had been skinning his knee after a fall off his bicycle.
A nurse tapped Francey lightly on the shoulder. "Hon, do you want to get cleaned up?" she asked.
Francey started and stared down at her ice-blue dress, as if she only just now realized that she was spattered with blood. "Oh," she said in a small voice.
"Go," Cooper said, squeezing her cold bare shoulder. "Go on, I'll stay with Blaine."
She bit her lip. "You're sure?" she said.
He nodded. She bent over Blaine to kiss his forehead; he turned towards her sluggishly. "I'll be right back, Babbie, okay?" she said. "Cooper's going to stay with you." She kissed him again. "You'll be okay, right?"
Cooper didn't see or hear Blaine respond, but their sister was apparently satisfied. She trailed her fingertips along Blaine's arm and followed the nurse out of the room.
Cooper sidled up to the doctor, his hands in his pockets. "Um…is he…is going to be okay?" he whispered.
"The damage is pretty extensive," the doctor admitted. "Besides the broken arm, he's got some severe abrasions from the asphalt…and I'm concerned about his head injury."
A nurse called the doctor aside and Cooper swallowed hard. He was alone with his little brother. And he had never felt this scared in his life.
Blaine shifted uneasily in the bed, his lips parting. Cooper put his hand on his shoulder without thinking. "Hey," he said. "Hey, squirt, it's me."
Blaine turned towards him. "Hurts," he rasped.
"Yeah…yeah, I guess it would," Cooper said. He smoothed Blaine's hair away from his forehead, wincing a little at the feel of dried blood and hair gel against his fingertips. "It's, um…it's going to be okay. I promise."
Blaine just looked at him, amber eyes blank, his lips white and his young face haggard. His cheeks were still childishly soft and round. Cooper swallowed hard. Blaine opened his mouth, licked his lips, tried again. "Did Francey tell you?" he asked bitterly.
"Tell me what, squirt?" Cooper asked. His thumb twined in a clump of curls at Blaine's temple.
"Did she tell you why?" Blaine whispered.
"You mean…why this happened?" Cooper said. Blaine gave a tiny nod, his jaw clenched so tight Cooper could see the tendons of his neck. "She did. She told me. I'm sorry." He swallowed down the painful lump in his throat. "I'm so sorry."
"Sorry that I'm-" Blaine started to say, but he broke off in midsentence, fresh tears making clean tracks down his cheeks. "That I'm gay?"
"No!" Cooper said, startled. "No, oh, god…oh, god, Blaine, that doesn't bother me at all. Trust me, it doesn't…" He gripped Blaine's good hand tightly in his. "I'm not sorry you're gay, Blainey. I'm sorry that this happened to you. I'm sorry that you got hurt." He squeezed Blaine's hand so hard he was almost afraid it was hurting him, but his little brother clung back just as tight. "I'm sorry…I couldn't help."
"That's okay," Blaine whispered, looking up at him with those guileless long-lashed eyes. Cooper's stomach ached. "You would've helped if you were there."
He couldn't think of anything to say, so he just held Blaine's hand tight and tried to smile. I would have helped, he thought, almost defensively. I would have done something.
"Hey," he said, jostling Blaine's hand just a little. His younger brother's nails were chewed on and broken; the thumb was ripped down to the quick. "Before I left LA, I got to do some background work for that new superhero movie. It'll be in theaters in a few weeks…do you want to go see it with me? When you're feeling up to it?"
Blaine just sort of stared at him. "You want me…to go with you?" he said.
"Yeah, it'll be fun," Cooper said, smiling as brightly as he could. He covered Blaine's ripped thumbnail with his fingers. "I'll even take you out for coffee afterwards. We can make fun of all the actors that aren't nearly as talented as we are, and I could even give you some acting pointers, if you want."
"That sounds like fun," Blaine whispered. Cooper just smiled at him, already out of things to say. He just rubbed Blaine's hand, trying to ease warmth into his cold skin, and hoped that would be enough. He just wasn't good at comfort.
The door opened and Francey ran back in, dressed in a pair of sickly green scrubs that were at least a size too big. Her hair was caught up messily at the nape of her neck, and her face was scrubbed clean of makeup, tears, and Blaine's blood. "I'm back," she said, sitting on the edge of Blaine's bed. "Are you okay? Did I miss anything?"
Blaine pulled his hand out of Cooper's grasp and leaned towards his sister. "I'm dizzy," he said, and Cooper stared down at his uselessly empty hands. "I don't feel good."
Francey bent to kiss his forehead. "Are you going to throw up again?" she asked.
"I dunno, I just…I feel so strange," Blaine said.
Francey pulled the blankets up to his shoulders. "Just lie still, okay?" she said. "And scoot over." She laid down beside him, curling up on her side and draping an arm gently around his waist. "Cooper…you should call Dad."
"I should…oh, yeah, I guess I should," Cooper said, fumbling for his phone in his back pocket.
Francey smoothed the back of her hand against Blaine's scratched cheek. "Besides, you can see if that modeling agency called you back," she said.
Cooper froze. "Um…yeah," he said. "I suppose."
"You go take care of all the important things," Francey said in that same cold, airy voice. "I'll stay with Blaine. Don't worry about us."
Cooper stood at the foot of the bed, staring at his younger siblings. Blaine's eyes were closed, his head sinking back into the pillow and his arms wrapped around his stomach. Francey stroked his side, her forehead resting against his. He couldn't hear her, but he could see her lips moving as she whispered, and see the way Blaine's mouth tugged into the tiniest hint of a smile. They made a circle that didn't include him.
He slipped out of the room and picked up his phone. The screen lit up. Two missed calls.
He dialed voicemail and typed in his passcode as he made his way to the stairwell. "This is Blythe from Competitive Edge Modeling calling for Cooper Anderson," the cool, even voice said in his ear. "We'd like to discuss your portfolio, so if you could give us a call back…"
That was it? That was what he had been waiting for?
That was what he ignored Blaine for?
His thumb hovered over the keypad for a moment before he finally hit the save button. The recording switched over to the next voicemail, a call from a friend out in California, boasting about his latest job and taunting him about going home to Ohio for Christmas.
"…stupid, man, I know you've got family and shit out there, but why'd you have to go to Bumfuck, Illinois when there's like eighty great auditions going on? Summer blockbusters, dude, they're all looking for bit parts and extras…"
Cooper sank down to the top step and dragged his hand through his hair. His chest ached. He didn't want to hear this. It was all so…so stupid.
"Oh, and yeah, that modeling agency thing you wouldn't shut up about? Yeah, it's a fucking scam, bro. They make you pay like a thousand dollars for new photos and agent fees and crap, and then they never get you any real gigs, just keep getting you to pay membership fees. Sorry, man, I know you were excited…"
Cooper threw his phone down the stairs, the echoing thud-and-shatter giving him a strange sense of grim satisfaction. That was it? That was it?
He folded his arms across his bent knees and dropped his head, overwhelmed.
This was supposed to be a drabble, but it turned into a oneshot and I'm not even mad!
I was so scared about Cooper's introduction, because I was going to sob if I had to stop writing Francey, but thankfully, she gets to stay. My personal headcanon is that Cooper is their half brother. That's the short version of my headcanon, but yeah. Maybe at some point I'll write out a whole thing explaining the entire headcanon I have. But it would take a while.
I loved the new episode with Cooper, but I was really intrigued by how he affected Blaine's childhood. The Sadie Hawkins dance is arguably one of the biggest and most traumatic events of Blaine's life, and I was really interested in how that worked with an absentee big brother in the picture, especially since I imagine that wee Blaine idolized his handsome, talented, charming older brother until he got a little older and a little wiser...a little more cynical.
Also, baby Blaine is adorable. I would say that he's even cuter than baby Kurt, but that's only because baby Blaine got dialogue. IF BABY KURT HAD DIALOGUE, HE WOULD WIN THE PRECIOUS BABY BATTLE.
Now I want to write a drabble about the Andersons and the Hummels (and the siblings) pulling out Kurt and Blaine's baby pictures and home videos and fighting over which boy was the cutest.
This is a strangely cute author's note for such a sad story...
But in any case...special thanks to Zoey, Jenny, and especially Aubrey for looking over this and letting me babble about all of my new Cooper headcanon!