Twist and Turn
Blaine's father is introduced rather unfortunately to Mike Chang. Part of the Shiver Verse! Gratuitous angst and passive aggressive parental comments. Title comes, of course, from the Coldplay song Trouble. This happens several months earlier in the Shiver Verse.
A/N: Hey babies, I'm so incredibly sorry this took so long to get out. Unfortunately my beta and I had several technological miscommunication issues and it was just disaster. This is still un-betaed and will be until Hurricane Sandy is over. There's about a 90% chance that I'll lose power and internet access so I will not be able to update the new version until everything is settled.
And with that in mind, I will hopefully be updating much quicker in the future (: Thank you all for being so patient and wonderful. I love you all so much.
"I am so done with stoichiometry," Mike Chang groans with his head in his AP Chemistry workbook. He drops the textbook with a soft thud onto the bed comforter and lazily collapses face first onto Blaine's bed. He stretches languidly— in a way that Blaine would totally find hot if he didn't care about Mike's very invested relationship—and flops around a little until he can lay on the bed and still watch Blaine who's at his feet at his desk. He's still poised over his calculator with a pencil in his mouth, eyebrows furrowed in concentration, "Come on, man, it's five thirty just be done with it."
"I gotta finish these calculations before practice tomorrow. With Sectionals coming up, I can't afford to be at practice all night and then study for the midterm," Blaine answers with a sigh, plugging in more numbers and grumbling when the ratios didn't match up. "I have to do well on the midterm."
Mike barely holds back a laugh, grin splitting his face at the Blaine's seriousness, "You have an A in the class. You're doing better than me and the senior class salutatorian. Ms. Nyser is obsessed with you. You could get a C on the test and still pull an A+ in the class."
Blaine shrugs noncommittal, seeming to ignore Mike's reassurances and chews on the pencil tip in his mouth. "I didn't balance this right."
Mike rolls his eyes, and pushes himself to the edge of Blaine's bed with an almighty sigh. Scooting close to Blaine, he squints his eyes so that he can look at the AP Chemistry textbook and the scrap paper Blaine has been working on. He pulls it toward him, and reaches out with his other hand to push Blaine into a seated position on the desk chair.
"That's it," Mike says with finality, pushing back the papers and scrambling to his feet so he can stand beside Blaine, "You really need to take a break. You forgot to divide."
Blaine doesn't answer for a minute, hunching over to glare at the error Mike is pointing at. A pinched look drifts over Blaine's face before he heaves a sigh and grabs a pencil to scribble out the mistake. "I can't believe I did that. I'm so stupid sometimes; I'm never going to get a five if I make mistakes like that." He presses a little too hard and snaps the pencil tip, a fairly unusual growl of irritation leaving his lips. He goes to retrieve another pencil, when Mike grabs him lightly by the arm and directs him toward the door.
"Relax, man," Mike pulls him down the stairs, shaking his head in amusement, "You need to take a break. All of this Chemistry is getting to your head."
"I need to do well, Mike, you don't understand," Blaine calms down as they creep down the stairs, eventually tugging himself away from Mike and running fingers through his curls which are frizzing just a little as they enter the kitchen, "Just a few minutes, I guess," He offers a tentative sheepish smile at Mike, "Nachos and dance party?"
"Of course," Mike agrees, slapping a hand to his chest and basically fondling his torso through his shirt. He gives Blaine a sad look, "I should be eating protein shakes."
"You're sixteen pack will be fine," Blaine can't hold back his laugh, and shoots Mike an exasperated look before looking pointedly away from Mike's torso. "Put them away. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean that I want to look at you all the time, Mike."
"You're just jealous that Tina gets to run her hands down my rock hard abs every day," Mike teases.
"Sure," Blaine rolls his eyes, watching as Mike stops admiring his chest and helps him gather the cheese and some plates. "My father would flip out if he saw you like that."
"You have near perfect A's, your voice is incredible and you're captain of like four different academic teams. How can he be upset that you like guys?" Mike sighs as he gets the iced tea, "I don't get your father, man."
Mike clears his throat, "So, did Tina get to talk to Kurt about you know what? She's been volunteering all afternoon so I couldn't text her."
"No, not about that at least," Blaine sighs heavily, pouring the iced tea into cups and stealing a few chips from the bag. "She started talking to him but somehow Kurt wound up agreeing to help her plan out her wardrobe for the rest of the week. My name was mentioned and it didn't go well." He tugs half-heartedly at the seam of the shirt he's wearing and shakes his head. "Apparently, I'm a hopeless fashion case."
"Hey, come on, I like the way you dress," Mike tries, gesturing at the cuffed denim jeans Blaine wore, "I think you have a great sense of style."
"No offense," Blaine begins with his hands raised, "Kurt's opinion is the one that matters and he thinks that I'm hopeless."
"I think that you should just ignore it. Wear what you want to wear and if it's offensive to Kurt's darling vision than he can get over it," Mike adds cheese to the tortilla chips, and puts it in the microwave, turning neatly on the ball of one foot to look back at Blaine, "What does it matter anyway? He wears that dumb polyester uniform every single day."
"When he's out of the uniform he dresses like a model," Blaine corrects petulantly, folding his arms across his chest. Kurt Hummel was a star, a radiant being that was far too great to stay suppressed in little ol' Lima. Blaine's eyes fall shut for a minute and all he can think of is Kurt sashaying down the halls of McKinley with a hoard of Cheerios behind him. He shakes his head a fond smile still on his lips, "He belongs in Paris or Milan, not in hick town Lima, Ohio. The Mid-West can't hold him down. He's too incredible to ever stay here," Mike's watching him with a peculiar somber look on his face when Blaine turns back to face him, and Blaine knows what he wants to say because it's the same thing Mercedes and Tina and Rachel have all crowed at him repeatedly in the last few months. He beats Mike to the punch and sighs, "It doesn't matter anyway; he'll never notice me for anything but a mismatched sense of style."
Mike doesn't answer because truthfully he doesn't have anything to add about the fabulously popular Kurt Hummel Blaine's been fawning over for months. Blaine knows that his chances are slim to none. He knows Kurt will never in a million years like him the way Blaine does and it hurts in a heart clenching way that Blaine deals with regularly when he spots Kurt in the hall or when he watches him sing in glee club.
Mike grows uncomfortable and finally clears his throat, offering a weak grin, "Did I tell you what musical Rhythms and Rhymes is producing?"
"Hair," Blaine answers with a smile, thankful that Mike is willing to literally do anything to take his mind off of Kurt. He shakes free of the tight tethers Kurt Hummel's radiance has on mind, and begins to bob his head, raising his hands to wave gracefully, "When the mooooooon, is in the seventh house. And Jupiter aligns with Mars—"
"Then peace," Mike croons a little off key but no less enthusiastic, "Will guide the planets, and looooove,"
"Will steer the stars!" Blaine sings with Mike, sharing a smile as they both begin to move faster and a little bit wilder as they really get into it, "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, age of Aquarius! Aquarius!"
Even though Blaine sings an impromptu harmony over Mike, neither one of them make a single mistake, holding out the note for longer than necessary. The microwave dings and Mike dances off his stool to retrieve their chips. He stops singing, leaving Blaine to playfully adlib the notes of the much-loved song overdramatically, but he's totally in his happy place, eyes closed and body moving perfectly graceful.
"Harmony and understanding. Sympathy and trust abounding." Blaine is in his element, trusting himself just to sing and ignore the thoughts swirling through his head. "No more falsehoods or derisions; golden living dreams of visions!"
"Mystical crystals, revelations and the minds true liberations," They sing together again, Mike rising from a crouch on the floor, spinning in place. Blaine almost begins to laugh as their voices swell to reach the chorus. His hands are outstretched and his eyes are closed in a blissed out expression, "Aquariuuuus! Aquarius!"
"What is this?"
It's almost as if someone had hit an off-switch. Abruptly, Blaine's voice cuts off and his arms fall to the floor. Mike spins to a stop, backtracking into the kitchen counter as the rather imposing figure walks into the kitchen with a sharp, irritated look on his face. Blaine's back is ramrod straight as his father enters the room and his swallow is almost audible. "Dad, what are you doing home so early?"
Mr. Anderson is just as short as Blaine, but he seems three times as terrifying. His eyes are sharp and coolly focused on Blaine. He sniffs over Blaine's outfit—cuffed tight dark wash jeans with a dark grey button up and Sperry loafers—and curls his lip as he glances suspiciously at the Asian teenager frozen in some intricate dance move Blaine could only wish to do, "Who are you?"
Mike glances at Blaine helplessly, but Blaine isn't any help at all, staring at the man in front of them with flat eyes, body the very picture of tension. He flounders for a minute before gathering his nerves and remembering his manners, "Uhh—Mike Chang, sir. We were taking a study break."
"Definitely looks like you were studying," Mr. Anderson answers succinctly, cool blue eyes sliding back to Blaine.
Blaine has never gone a day without feeling vaguely intimidated by his father and today is no different. He knows what's going to happen, his father is predictable, but he wishes more than anything that his father would leave Mike out of it. "We were taking a break, Dad. Mike's leaving in a few to pick up his girlfriend."
Blaine can almost see it dawn on Mike. He straightens up at the last word and it kind of makes a knot grow in Blaine's stomach to think that his father is so transparent that Mike, a stranger that's only just met his dad, already knows the reason for his growing irritation.
"I thought we agreed that you weren't allowed friends over when your mother and I weren't home," His father's voice is even, but his eyes are locked on Blaine.
"We were studying, Dad," Blaine answers helplessly, his stomach in his throat. It isn't the first time this has happened, and it kills him to know that this definitely isn't the last time either.
His father stares unblinkingly at him for a long time before clearing his throat and placing his briefcase on the kitchen table. His father is much too polite to talk about company is front of said company and inclines his head, "I hope you're working on your chemistry homework, at least," His father finally acquiesces still watching Mike with blatant distrust. He loosens the knot in his black tie and unclick the locks on his briefcase. "You're grades are sinking."
"I have an A-," Blaine answers in a small voice, retreating around the edge of the counter, "I have an A+ in all of my Honors classes. I really don't think my grades are sinking."
"Then I hope they stay that way," Mr. Anderson answers unimpressed, meeting Blaine's eyes with pursed lips, "If not, you'll drop all of your after school activities that aren't going to assist you in furthering your academics." He pauses for a moment, glancing back at Mike who looks highly uncomfortable, "You're in that silly glee club, aren't you?"
Mr. Anderson shakes his head, straightening a few papers and gathering a file folder. "It's a waste of time. I went to a single show and left in minutes," Blaine really regrets ever inviting Mike to his house. "None of you have a touch of talent. It's shame. You need to keep up with your academics. What happened to the debate club?"
"I was never part of the debate club," Blaine replies, "Cooper was captain."
"Right, right," Mr. Anderson agrees, slight smirk lighting up on his face as he pulls out one of the chairs and takes a seat. He opens a manila folder, "Cooper was involved in sports too."
"I'm part of practically every other club, Dad," Blaine says vehemently, casting apologetic looks at Mike.
His father shrugs, uncapping a red pen, eyes radiating a plastic sense of sincerity, "It was a pleasure to meet you, Mike, but I think it's time that my son let you go."
It doesn't feel like Blaine's even in the room anymore. He doesn't say a word in reply and makes his way to the counter where the nachos lay forgotten. He's nauseous just looking at them and throws them into the trashcan. He takes a deep breath, very very aware that Mike is a step behind him and quickly retreats to his bedroom.
He's quiet until they get to his room, carefully making sure that he leaves the door wide open so his father doesn't get any ideas. Blaine begins to pace as Mike gathers his things, and it only makes him more nervous when Mike keeps looking up at him. Finally, Blaine can't hold it in anymore and turns sharply to Mike, "I'm sorry my father is an asshole. He didn't mean to insult glee club, or insinuate you were gay or anything. I'm really sorry."
"Parents," Mike answers with a faint, uncomfortable smile. "It's okay, I swear, Blaine." He offers a fist bump to Blaine—a sign of understanding, Blaine likes to think—when his backpack is slung over his shoulder and his sneakers are on his feet. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay? Don't freak out over chemistry, you're going to do fine."
Blaine lets him out and neither of them speak about the fucking massive elephant in the room. It's tense and awkward, and Blaine's teeth are grinding together from keeping a relatively sane looking smile on his face. He wants to scream and punch things because he just can't take how miserable his father is and how painful it is to even think about disgusted his father is by him. But, he doesn't say anything and watches Mike drive away without another comment. He closes the door with shaky hands, almost positive that his father is going to appear and interrogate him about his intentions.
His father isn't there, however. Even when Blaine wanders through the downstairs, his father doesn't appear. His mom isn't home yet from the hospital, so the kitchen is empty, and the backyard is empty. He's daring today, and heads to his father's study. Behind the closed door, he can hear the clatter of typing and his father's sharp bark of a laugh.
His hands are curled into fists before he can even blink, the very sound of his father's laughter getting on his nerves. There have been many days that he's hated his father, and most of them have been worse than today. He doesn't understand why today is so horrible.
"—acting program he wants to get into—"
"—of course not, Heather has a pre-med program waiting for him—"
"—maybe it'll cure him of this silly little obsession—"
He can't see straight he's so angry.
Every little thing his father does gets on his nerves and he just can't take it. The disappointment and the anger and the hatred. He literally can't take it anymore. He wants to bang on the door and scream at his father and make him see. But it'll never work his father doesn't care—he's never cared about them, really.
There's only one way to derail any of the awful urges in his head, and with a heavy heart he trots down to the basement, hands already balled into fists at his side. Anger is pulsating in his chest and he struggles to pick up his gloves from where they're laid on the floor. He half-heartedly wraps his hands and tugs on his gloves; he's boxing to feel tonight no matter the cost—if he's lucky, he'll break his hands and his father will have to interrupt his work to take him to the hospital—and he doesn't even bother to dress in anything that may be slightly less constricting.
He can't really think straight at the moment. He doesn't want to think about anything else. Anything else hurts and makes him feel sick.
Once his gloves are on, at least mostly correct, he stretches quickly and beings to swing immediately drawing himself into a repetitive rhythm. He wants to drown out the voices in his head simpering away. Between school and his father, he's dying to take out his aggression on something that won't punch back. He finally finally lets the thoughts that lingered in his head all day finally float to the surface of his conscious and swings harder.
—silly little obsessions—
Have some slushie , fairy-freak.
He swings harder and faster the more he thinks.
"Are you even trying to do well, Blaine?"
"—niece is coming to visit and she'd just love if you'd take her out her first night in Lima—"
"An A- won't get you into Harvard—"
"—the next mathalete meet, I haven't heard you mention—"
"You should hang out less with your glee friends—"
"Ohio State Medical School is offering pre-med shadowing. I've signed you up for—"
"at this age, Cooper was already in his first commercial and—"
He wants to scream in frustration. He wants to hate his father so goddamn much. He wants to have more friends than just the other misfits in glee club. He wants to be accepted. He wants to be loved.
And he can't because there's something so fundamentally right about who he is and what he likes that it causes disastrous problems wherever he goes. His friendships fall apart and his dreams sink like stones and nothing ever goes right. He wishes his father wouldn't see him as a less successful version of Cooper, he wishes that the awful football and hockey players would just leave him alone. He wishes, just once, that his father could be interested in him.
His pace is practically double what he's supposed to be hitting the bag, but he doesn't care. He can barely feel the wear and tear on his knuckles, and it's actually a relief to be able to feel something for once that isn't tainted by disappointment and regret and shame.
He used to think—when he wasn't naïve and young—that his father could still be proud of him. He use to study for hours, days ahead of time to get the best grades, he only did things his father would approve of. He's long since given up trying to impress his father. He isn't treated better than an acquaintance even though he's the upcoming salutatorian or the probable lead singer for New Directions next year.
He wipes his face with the corner of his tank top. He'd like to think it's just sweat.
(He's afraid it's tears.)
A B+? You need at least an A to even think about applying to Yale or Harvard.
If only you'd actually do well in school.
Why are you wasting your time in that silly singing club? You won't actually become famous.
He likes the repetition motion more than he likes to admit. It feels good to pound his fists into the bag, to feel his heart race in his chest. It's just not fair. He wishes he were smarter. He wishes he were neater. He wishes he were more talented. He wishes he were more ambitious.
He slams his fist the hardest yet into the bag and winces when his knuckle splits. His wrap is too poorly done, his gloves far too well worn to keep his hands safe. He should stop. He wants to stop, but he just can't make himself yet. He's still too raw.
He swings again and again and again, slamming his fist hard, fueling his rage and disappointment (and loneliness and hatred and so many more emotions) into the hard leather of the punching bag. It's a new bag and his gloves are just about falling apart at the seams and he hits the bag at just the wrong angle and a shooting pain runs up his arm.
He jumps back from the bag, a harsh cry on his lips and slides down the wall nearest with his lips pursed and his eyes screwed up with unshed tears. He rips the gloves off his hands, cradling his wrist to his chest and hangs his head. He knows it's not broken or even sprained, but it's the point that hits him hard in the chest and bleats a terrorizing pain in his chest. Nothing can fix him. Nothing can make him feel better.
He draws his legs up to his chest and cries, harsh painful sobs that shake his whole body. He can't stand it anymore; he just can't take it. Not school, not at home. He's done. He thought he'd be better at a new school but it's just same and nothing matters. He doesn't matter to anyone.
He nearly jumps a foot in the air when a voice, familiar and concerned, speaks softly from the foot of the stairs, "Blaine?"
He takes in a deep, gasping breath, turning away to wipe his face. He hears him approach and curses that he didn't pay enough attention to hear him approach. He knows he looks like a mess and any sense he had of appearing like his dad's attitude didn't bother him is crushed vehemently by his breakdown. He steels himself, brushing tears off his cheeks and clears his throat, "What's up, Mike? I thought you left."
The Asian boy couldn't have looked more awkward, but he slowly approaches Blaine with the care of a frightened animal and slowly crouches down beside him. He thinks about putting a hand on Blaine's shoulder, but thinks better of it when Blaine shrinks back.
"I left my textbook," he answers simply, "Your door was open and I followed the punching down here." Blaine doesn't answer. He can't meet Mike's eyes; he doesn't really want to.
"How long were you here?"
Mike winces, "The whole thing," Blaine heaves out a shaky breath, a sort of strangled laughter/sob mic leaving his lips. Mike continues hesitantly, "You're really not okay, are you?"
He doesn't answer, pressing the heels of his palms to his eyes till he sees stars. He doesn't know what to say, and the innocence of the statement strikes him hard in the chest. He's never really thought that someone would actually notice or say something. In the past, no matter how much he's protested or screamed for help, almost everyone—from teachers to the principal to his parents—have never really listened to him. For as long as he's had problems, most people don't actually care about anybody but themselves. They don't normally ever notice.
He doesn't know why Mike would care about him.
Slowly, very slowly, he pulls his pale face with red-rimmed eyes upward to meet Mike's placidly patient face. He hasn't spoken, as if he knows that Blaine needs to process the question. He shakes his head, very, very slowly, and whispers in a choked up voice, "No."
"Okay," Mike to his credit, doesn't say anything worthless, none of those awful empty promises that mean nothing, and instead, helps him slowly to his feet, checking his wrist gingerly. Satisfied that it's not broken or there's anything particularly telling, he forces Blaine's shoes on him and tugs him toward the stairs. "I think you're going to sleep over tonight."
By the time they get to the car, Blaine feels slightly better. The breeze feels cool on his sweat-soaked skin, and the darkness makes it easy for him to simply close his eyes and take a deep breath without feeling like Mike is staring at him. His backpack, hurriedly grabbed, is filled with his books and all the personal things he'll need. For the moment, things don't seem so bad. They settle into the quiet of the car and Mike take a long hard look at him, "Okay?"
Not really, Blaine thinks, but he nods anyway. He'll get there. "Okay."