Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.
"Dude, what the hell?"
Blaine whirled around to face Sam, almost dropping the papers that he was holding on the choir room floor in the process. He didn't know why they were important or what was even on them, but he knew that he couldn't lose them. "I - I didn't - " The papers vanished before he could finish speaking, a sinking feeling settling in his gut as he looked across the room at Sam instead.
"You cheated on Kurt."
"What?" No, no, no, I would never, I couldn't, Kurt's, he's - he's the love of my life, Sam, he's the most perfect person in the world and I could never hurt him, I would never cheat on him, never -
Blaine tried to speak, his throat working around the lump in it as Sam stepped further into the choir room, his expression gravely disappointed. "You did," he said quietly, his voice piercing and dark and quiet. Like a secret, a question, a whisper -
Kiss me, kiss me now, come on, kiss me -
"You actually cheated on him." Now Sam's voice was rising, hinging on the verge of shouting. Blaine turned away from him, unable to look at the disgust and hatred written on his features, but a cold, heavy hand rested on his shoulder and turned him back. Finn stared down at him disapprovingly, his muted, almost ambivalent expression even worse.
"Why would you do that?"
"I don't - I don't know, okay?" he choked, shuddering as he wrapped his arms around himself because why the hell were all the windows open, it was freezing and he just wanted to get warm again, he wanted to feel warm and safe like he did with Kurt -
"You do," Finn insisted, fading away.
Blaine woke with a gasp, cold sweat coating his arms and face. He sat up shakily and ran a hand through his hair, wincing at the thick, congealed layer of gel in it. Sparing a glance at his alarm clock, he sighed heavily as he let his head thunk back against the headboard. 1:55 AM.
He didn't remember falling asleep. He barely remembered the drive home, the short walk upstairs, the even shorter march to his bedroom where he had promptly curled up on his bed and tried to stop thinking. Finn's return to Lima had only made the nightmares worse, adding a new phantom to the equation. Tina, Artie, Unique, even Brittany had all made their appearances, each offering their own personal damnation of his actions. He knew that he was wallowing in self-loathing and refusing to talk it out and let the poisons within him bleed, but even that dream had ended with Miss Pillsbury's - Mrs. Schuester's, he supposed - voice fading into oblivion.
They all faded. In the end, that was his only mercy. The words that he dreamed were locked away in nonexistence, safely guarded from the real world. He didn't want to think about what it would be like when Sam and the others finally digested the news that Kurt and he had actually broken up because he cheated. They were all so enveloped in their own personal disasters that it was impossible for him to expect anyone to notice his own train wreck. At least theirs, he could safely say, hadn't been the result of cheating. Growing pains that needed to be overcome were inconsequential to his own dilemma, because there would be no more growing pains to get over because Kurt and he were over.
Breathing raggedly through his nose, trying to calm the sudden, nauseous urge to expel whatever was left in his empty stomach, Blaine bent double and ran his own hands through his hair, using the rhythmic motion to calm himself. There was something soothing about it, he realized, something inherently safe about it. When he realized that it was because Kurt had used to run his fingers through his ungelled hair whenever he could, or even gelled when Blaine truly needed it, it was all he could do to get out of bed before dry-heaving into the trash bin.
By morning, he was fine.
On the surface, at least. He greeted Marley in the hallway with a small smile, his hair tamed into place and his teeth brushed to their usual hundred-watt smile. He side-passed Tina when his brief attempt at a conversation was brushed aside, and only saw Artie and Joe deep in conversation at the end of the hallway as he approached his own locker. Vertigo almost made him collapse the moment the door slid open, revealing his own beaming face staring back at him, next to the one face that he almost couldn't bear to look at. Slowly, forcing himself not to lose control, he let his gaze slide across the metal grating until it rested on Kurt's, his small, soft smile secretive and loving.
There was something about it that made Blaine's eyes water even as he viciously snatched his bag up and slammed the locker door shut (gently, of course; no need to raise any unwanted alarms). Too often, it seemed, Kurt had given him that little smile that he had taken so for granted. It was his I'm yours and you're mine smile, the one that he used on sleepy Saturday mornings after lengthy Friday night reunions. The variants of it were some of Blaine's favorites, the shy, almost sultry look that he would give him whenever they talked about themselves in a more intimate light (or whenever the talking ceased altogether and physicality took over), the achingly loving look that he spared for those moments when they were both convinced that the universe would end if they couldn't convey exactly how much they mean to each other, the tiny smile reserved for those brief, tentative moments after where hands needed new places to rest as their heartbeats slowed to more normal rhythms.
Blaine sniffed once inaudibly as he wrestled the choir room door open one-handedly, plastering the same bright expression as before on his face as he sauntered in. Finn was already trying to calm the New Directions with his usual heavy-handed tactics, and so it was no trouble for Blaine to slip unnoticed in the corner. Ever since Kurt had left, he hadn't seen any reason to stay in the top tier. They'd held hands under cover of chair backs, squeezed knees and thighs reassuringly, bumped feet and even rested cold toes against warm shins when they were feeling particularly audacious. (On the days when Schuester's lectures began with, 'Glee club isn't just about singing,' it was a fair guess that the rest of his lesson wouldn't involve any movement or necessary input from them.) Without Kurt around, Blaine didn't want to sit alone up there, now dominated by the new members and under their careful scrutiny.
They were so focused, so intent and passionate and excited about Glee club that he felt almost like a traitor just sitting unobtrusively in the front. He wasn't offering input or advice, only listening benignly to Finn's suggestions as he threw out ideas for their school assemblies. After the Britney Spears' disaster (which, Blaine reflected, had been something that he should have seen coming but had instead gone through with, against his conscience's better advice), Blaine wasn't inclined to offer any bright remarks about what they should do for their next performance. As the new Rachel, responsibility for the Glee club's actions fell largely into his corner. It was nice, in a way, to have Finn back, to have someone running the ship while he felt like his own was falling apart.
The bell rang and Blaine barely noticed the mad scramble to get to the door, standing up wordlessly and sauntering out the side door. Finn didn't even look twice at him as he brushed by, almost willing him to look down and see how frazzled he was underneath the make-up and hair gel. Blaine didn't like reverting to powders to conceal the discoloration sleepless nights had left on his face, but he knew that if he walked in with bruises under his eyes, more than one gaze would be turned, and not all friendly at that. He didn't want Unique's sass or Tina's snark or Artie's shock. He didn't want to have to answer Brittany's inane questions or Joe's deeply concerned ones or Sam's brotherly gaze.
He didn't want to answer to any of it, and so when Finn didn't even look up, he felt some of the tense, raw disappointment in his chest abate.
He didn't want them to notice. That was the short and simple of it. Despite how awful he felt and how little inclination he had to keep secrets from the rest of the New Directions, he didn't want to bring them into that circle of his life, because he had ruined it. He had ruined his relationship with Kurt, he had ruined his relationship with the love of his life, and he didn't want to think about how irreparable the damage truly was. He wanted to live and forget and smile and move on and breathe, because he didn't know how much longer he could go on suffocating.
Days passed, and somehow he managed to survive them. He aced his tests - easily, he might add, although he spent more hours studying a night than most students at McKinley put in during a year - and even managed to keep all of his extracurricular activities in check. As student body president, he sketched ideas for future improvements and ran them by Sam, who offered slightly baffled approval with each new improvement.
By November, he knew that he couldn't keep up the act, but he couldn't crumple, either. He had chosen the life that he was living, and he would have to deal with the consequences. If he had simply rejected Eli's offer to come over, then he wouldn't have to deal with any of it. He could smile with the rest of the Glee clubbers without feeling that stab of guilt in his stomach as he realized how falsely cheerful he felt being around them. He could laugh at Sam's impressions instead of frowning slightly in confusion. He could live again, dance and sing and act and love what he was doing and who he was and where he was going.
He didn't love any of that now. He didn't think he ever would again, at the rate that he was going.
And so he reached out. Hesitantly, but nevertheless extending a faint line towards Sam, testing the waters. He told him the truth, point-blank. He wasn't eating. He wasn't sleeping. He'd stopped gelling on weekends. Altogether, it didn't seem that detrimental, and Sam's buck-up-little-camper speech only served to further emphasize how truly far he'd sunk.
His issues were nothing. For all the nightmares that he'd had about the Glee club judging him for his actions, his last true 'family' (if it could even be called that), he knew that the truth was worse. They didn't care. They'd moved on. He was still alive and barely breathing, but they'd already accepted that Kurt and he were done and, whatever their reasons, there was nothing that they could do. And there wasn't, really, there wasn't anything that could be done, but it hurt. It hurt because what was nothing to them was his entire world. Kurt was his entire world, and he'd lost him, and he didn't know how to breathe or think or function without him. Without a prayer of getting him back.
Everyone had moved on. Everyone except him.
The locker door slamming shut startled Blaine awake, and he blinked slowly at Sam, his vision swimming a little as he did so. "What do you want?" he asked, his voice low and thick. He'd had a long night and talking to Sam was the last thing on his agenda, but he knew that he couldn't escape him without seeming completely impolite. Which, he thought, might not be a terrible idea, given the fact that he had already stopped bothering with the make up and fancy clothes. "Superheroes" week was as much an effort to bring the New Directions together (since, of course, his Rachel duties superseded any personal crises that he was having in the wake of Kurt's visit, Kurt's declaration that he didn't trust him anymore) as it was an excuse to wear the same outfit all the time without having to think about it. Picking out his own clothes was too much work when he was already functioning on barely enough sleep. Maybe when Kurt was still around, he would have put in the extra effort to look decent, but with Kurt gone, Nightbird was almost a relief. He liked the persona, able to slip into his commanding mode as soon as he donned the cape and set aside Blaine's problems.
He didn't like Blaine very much any more.
Maybe Blaine didn't like him either, he reflected, as he looked at Sam with slightly red-rimmed eyes. "What?" he repeated, his voice coming out a little more snappish than he intended before a hoarse, almost strangling cough broke out of him.
"You look like crap, dude," Sam said bluntly.
"Yeah?" Blaine managed a dry laugh as he finished filling the cardboard box with all his worldly possessions. Not quite, he supposed, but close enough. The pictures of Kurt and he together almost mocked him as he set them gently, lovingly into the depths of the box, willing the transfer to be over and the exile to begin. He didn't want to think about McKinley any more, didn't want to think about how he had disappointed the New Directions and Kurt and himself. He wanted to pack up and go home, to walk into his old dormitory and feel safe and loved and respected and good again.
He wanted to feel good again, he realized, more than anything. Even seeing Kurt again didn't make him feel hopeful; it made his heart sink, his stomach clench with anticipation at the bitter words doubtless coming to him.
I don't trust you anymore.
"Look," Sam said, his voice gentle as he eased the box out of Blaine's hands. "Can we just . . . stop and think about this before you mess up what could be a really great thing?"
"I already did, Sam," Blaine said, choking a little on the words even as he swallowed and looked away. "I . . . I ruined what I had with Kurt, and he's never going to forgive me, and - that's it."
"You don't know that," Sam began, but Blaine didn't give him the chance to finish because no.
He'd already been shut down before. He couldn't let it happen again.
"Yes, I do!" he insisted fiercely, chuckling bitterly even as a ragged puff of air, almost a sob, escaped him. "Kurt, he's - he's moved on and he's never going to forgive me and - " He slumped in defeat, leaning back heavily against the lockers. "He's never going to trust me again."
Sam watched him in silence for several long moments before reaching forward and squeezing his arm gently. "You're not a bad person," he insisted in a low, serious voice. "Okay?"
Blaine nodded wordlessly, unable to keep the tears from welling up as he nodded, swiping at them and shaking himself a little to regain his composure.
"Just . . . you gotta stop beating yourself up over this. It's not good for you. It's killing you, bro. And what the hell even happened that ruined your relationship with Kurt, anyway?"
That was all it took. A few simple words spoken with utter sincerity and Blaine spilled the entire story, not even omitting the guilt that he'd felt afterward. It was cathartic, in a way, even as the reliving made him feel like some tiny, uncrushed corner of his heart was being slowly pulverized.
Sam watched him in silence and said nothing, at last offering quietly, "It's gonna be okay."
Blaine looked at him, disbelieving. "How?" he asked, his voice quiet and dull and defeated. "How, Sam?"
"Let me show you," Sam insisted. "Just give me one day."
Blaine sighed, reaching up to rub his face slowly. "Okay," he said at last.
It took longer than a day for the pain to subside.
Sam helped him set up the food drive, using his seniority as leverage to get more people to participate. He rallied the Glee club members to work on choreography for their latest number in the auditorium instead of simply sitting in the choir room as they had done for countless days already in Schuester's absence and somehow, miraculously, it came together. They sounded good, and everyone seemed to be in sync for once, rather than fighting each other relentlessly.
Mostly, though, he took him out with the rest of the New Directions to the side of the school where long imprinted obscenities and insults had been slapped onto its surface. Armed with white paints, rollers, and brushes, the Glee club attacked the task with a gusto that surprised Blaine. He didn't intend to enjoy it half as much as he did, at first venturing warily into the task before Sam painted a playful stripe down his shirt. Yelping, he had returned the stroke with one of his own, only to splotch Puck's half-brother instead. From there, the paint dabbing escalated into a full blown war. Sam even picked up the paint bucket and spun it in a circle, coating them all and making Sugar shriek with surprise and laughter.
As Blaine listened and felt his heavy heart finally ease a little, he didn't startle when Brittany sidled up to him and used her hands to smooth two long streaks from his cheeks to mid-torso. When she pecked his cheek after, he smiled a little, closing his eyes and feeling like, for once, it might be okay.
Not perfect. But okay.