A/N: I wrote this almost six months ago. It was originally going to be a chaptered fic that lead into eventual Klaine, but I don't think I'll finish it. At least, I don't have plans to go any further with it right now. I just read it again for the first time in a long while, and I thought it stood pretty well on its own as an Anderbros one-shot.
Anyway, I suppose it will do more good here than sitting in my hard drive collecting metaphorical dust.
Angsty kid sub!Blaine and loving, older brother Dom!Cooper. No warnings, really. It's just sad, but I love angst, as you all know. :P
Blaine sits in the car for several long minutes as it idles in the driveway of his house. The soft patter of small rain drops hitting the roof and windshield are the only sound apart from the purr of the vehicle's engine. He can't stop staring down at the black ink on the papers he'd been given at the clinic. It hadn't surprised him when his parents were both 'too busy' to take their youngest son to his appointment. Luckily Blaine had managed to hitch a ride with a high school student who occasionally tutored him in math and he hadn't been forced to pick up the phone to reschedule.
"It'll be alright, Blaine," Nick supplies. Blaine can't tell if he's offering genuine support or if the senior just wants him out of his car. Not like it matters anyway. His statement is painfully untrue, regardless, and Blaine's pretty sure they both know it.
"No, it won't," Blaine shakes his head, "It won't. They won't want anything to do with me."
"You're their son. They can't just… stop loving you because of this." Blaine bites his lower lip, shaking his head again. He can't even try to explain. Though the 14-year-old appreciates Nick's reassurances, he knows they're pointless.
Nick doesn't know what it's like in the Anderson household. Nick doesn't understand how Blaine has always struggled to meet his parents' expectations. He doesn't know that Blaine's older brother, Cooper, has always, always been the favorite son. He doesn't realize that the Andersons are some of the country's more radically conservative aristocrats, the kind who consider strength and power to be the most desirable qualities a person can possess. Nick doesn't know how anti-submissive his parents are—how they often remark that "those people" should just be weeded out altogether, or how they "ruin" society with their "needy, desperate ways" of stealing the attention of Dominants who could better spend their time finding cures for diseases in science laboratories or teaching in classrooms, improving the world for those who actually deserve to live in it.
Nick doesn't realize that the two words printed at the bottom of the first page of Blaine's test results ("Classification: submissive") seem more like a death sentence to him than anything else. Blaine hasn't even looked at the rest of the packet (with pages like "Submission: What it Means For You," and "Common Questions from the Submissive Teen"). He knows what submission means for him. It means that there's something wrong with him. It means that he's defective. And it means that his parents will never appreciate him, no matter how hard he tries to make them proud.
Blaine forces himself to look away from the two words. He's stared at them long enough already that the imprint of them is still in his line of vision when he blinks. "Thanks for the ride, Nick," he says weakly, "I owe you one."
"No problem," the older teen replies. Blaine reaches to open the passenger door, but a hand on his arm makes him freeze. He glances back at Nick in the driver's seat, and there's pity shining in the other boy's eyes. "It'll be okay, Blaine. You'll be okay." Blaine wonders if Nick is trying to soothe him with some sort of Dominant mind trick. If that's the case, it isn't working. Blaine just nods back at him once and steps out onto the pavement, shutting the car door behind him.
He tucks the papers close to his chest to keep them dry and walks briskly up the sidewalk through the light drizzle. Taking a deep breath, Blaine tries to will the fear away. Maybe Nick's right. Maybe, by some miracle, his parents will accept him, or at the very least, tolerate him. He pretends he's not terrified. He pretends he's confident as he steps through the front door, ignoring his racing heart and sweaty palms. Blaine's always tried pretending. He's always striven to be more like Cooper—braver and more sure of himself—even though, deep down, he's always been a hesitant, nervous kid. He supposes his Classification makes perfect sense, now that he thinks about it. He's never really been the Dominant type. All of those years of pretending were a waste of time…
"I'm home!" he calls out.
"In the kitchen!" his mother shouts back.
Blaine swallows and forces himself to move from the entryway, passing through the living room on the way to the kitchen. When he steps onto the tile floor, his wet shoes squeak a little, and his mom looks over at him, a plate of cookies in her hands. His dad glances up from the newspaper, wire-framed reading glasses sitting on his nose.
"Congratulations, son," his mom says, a small smile on her face. Blaine's heart sinks. They think I'm a Dom. They think that's what my paper says… Of course the Andersons would never legitimately consider that their son could be anything but a Dominant. Sure, Blaine's had his moments of weakness, and he's never been quite as successful or outgoing as Cooper, but he's just a late bloomer. That's all. "Chocolate chip is your favorite, right?"
Blaine nods lamely, unable to remind her that he's always preferred oatmeal raisin.
"Well?" his dad asks, holding out a hand, "Let's see what the rest of your results say." Along with their formal Classification, the tests all adolescents took at the age of fourteen also determined an assortment of other facts to make them more self-aware—like which was the dominant side of their brain, how poor or how excellent their current eating habits were, and if they displayed any signs of potential disorder, whether mental, physical, or emotional. Blaine tries not to think of the red ink he'd seen highlighting that he was at high risk for depression and anxiety.
His father's hand is still outstretched, waiting, but Blaine doesn't move, the papers still clutched tightly in his hands. "Wh-Why don't we just have the cookies now?" the teen suggests quietly, deflecting. "Before they get c-cold."
"I can read your results and eat at the same time, Blaine," Mr. Anderson replies coolly. He already sounds suspicious, and Blaine feels his bottom lip tremble a bit. This isn't going to go well. "Hand them over."
When Blaine still remains frozen in place, the older man rises to his feet and closes the distance in a few strides, reaching out and yanking the papers from his son's hands. Blaine's fairly certain he's forgotten how to breathe at this point. He watches his father's hazel eyes move as they scan the results, his expression turning more upset with each passing moment. Blaine knows when he finally gets to the Classification. It's obvious in the way that his father's eyebrows slant, furrowing together, and in the way his upper lip curls in disgust. Blaine takes a step back, feeling his hands beginning to shake.
"A submissive?" Mr. Anderson whispers incredulously. Then louder, "My son? A submissive?" Behind him, Blaine's mother gasps audibly, and the 14-year-old nearly jumps out of skin as the plate of cookies falls to the floor, plate shattering with a crash. He glances over at her, desperate to see any sign of reassurance, any sign that she'll step forward and pull him into her arms. Her face is crestfallen—a mix of shock, horror, and pain—as if hearing Blaine's Classification is physically sickening to her. He doesn't doubt that it's a possibility…
"Get out." The two words make Blaine jump again, even though they're quiet. He looks back at his father, mouth slightly ajar. He can already feel tears stinging his eyes.
"Get out of my house," Mr. Anderson repeats. "Now."
"D-Dad…" his voice breaks.
"Get out!" Blaine shrinks back as his father screams, eyes darting back to his mother as he presses himself back against the kitchen wall.
"Mom, please," he murmurs, "Please don't make me leave, Momma…" Blaine hasn't called her that in years, but the term slips out as Blaine's terror rises. Mrs. Anderson turns away toward the sink. She picks up the mixing bowl, remnants of dough and chocolate chips still plastered to the sides, and begins to wash it as if she's deaf to her son's cries. "No," Blaine chokes on his own voice, "Momma, please!"
Then his dad's hand is gripping the collar of his shirt, pulling him away from the wall and shoving him through the kitchen doorway, back out into the living room. Blaine's tears are falling freely now, and a few sobs tear from his throat. "Dad, I'm sorry! Please don't do this!" He falls to his knees without a thought, and Mr. Anderson only looks more enraged at the submissive posture.
"Get out of my house! Get out!"
"I can change!" Blaine tries to say, "I w-won't be weak! I'll do anything—please, Dad! Please! I can be a good Dominant! I can!"
"Listen to yourself, Blaine!" Mr. Anderson overpowers him, "Listen to your begging! Look at you, sobbing on your knees!" He shakes his head, revolted, "You are no more a Dominant than you are my son."
Blaine can't think. Blaine can't make his mind work. His world is closing in around him, fear and terror and shame pressing in on all sides. His mother's rejection. His father's disownment. It's too much for him to take. Mr. Anderson grabs the collar of his shirt again, half-dragging the boy through the living room and entryway of the house. Blaine doesn't even have the strength to ask if he can pack a few things. He probably wouldn't be given the chance anyway.
The front door is pulled open, and Blaine can hear that the rain has started falling harder. His father hauls him to his feet and shoves him through the door. Blaine cries out as he trips down the porch steps and falls to the concrete sidewalk, scraping his hands with a gasp of pain.
"Don't you dare come crawling back here," Mr. Anderson warns, "You aren't welcome." With those parting words, Blaine's father crumples up the papers in his hand and throws them out into the rain to join his discarded child. The door slams, and Blaine imagines that he can hear the deadbolt turning, locking him out of their lives forever.
He scrambles to retrieve his test results from a puddle, quickly shoving them beneath his shirt to keep them dry, though he's well on the way to being soaked himself. Shaking, Blaine pulls his cell phone from his pocket. It takes him a few times to still his hands enough to push the right buttons, but then he has the receiver to his ear as he listens to it ring.
"Blaine?" His brother sounds alarmed, obviously recognizing the fear in Blaine's voice. "What's wrong?"
"They kicked m-me out, Coop," Blaine struggles to take a breath, "M-Mom and Dad—th-they kicked me out b-because..." he chokes on another sob.
"Why, Blaine? What happened? Talk to me."
"W-Went to m-my appointment today," he stammers, "I'm a s-submissive, Coop." There's silence on the other line, and Blaine feels the terror rise up in him all over again. If his brother turns him away, then he has no one and nothing. If Cooper disowns him, Blaine won't make it through the night. He'll find a way to end this life before it can get any worse.
"Are you still at the house?" Cooper asks.
"Listen to me, Blaine. I need you to stay there for me, alright? Don't wander off. I'm coming to get you. I'll be there in twenty minutes tops—fifteen if I speed—okay?"
Blaine nods before realizing that Cooper can't see it. "Yeah," he replies, "O-Okay."
"It'll be alright," Cooper tells him, "Just hold on for me, buddy. I'll be there soon."
"Okay," Blaine says again.
"I'm gonna hang up now; I need to drive."
"See you soon."
Blaine doesn't bother to reply. The call ends, and he shoves his phone back down into his pocket and staggers to his feet, searching for any kind of shelter from the rain while he waits. He doesn't dare step foot on the front porch. Ultimately, Blaine takes cover at the edge of his mother's flowerbed, leaning back against the house and tucking his legs up against his chest. As long as the rain continues to fall in the same direction, the wall will keep him dry enough. At any rate, it's better than sitting out in the middle of the sidewalk.
By the time Cooper's car pulls up on the street, Blaine is numb. He's shivering from the cold, but he can't feel the temperature anymore. His tears have stopped flowing as well. His immediate terror and subsequent adrenaline rush have passed, and they've now been replaced with a dull shock. Cooper steps out of his car and sprints across the front yard. Blaine sees him coming, but he can't find the strength to move. It's like he doesn't even know how to work his muscles anymore.
Cooper pulls him to his feet with gentle hands, so unlike their father's grip. He leads his little brother back to his car. The passenger's seat is covered in a bath towel to keep it dry, and Blaine settles down into it as Cooper unfolds a blanket and covers him up. His seatbelt is fastened over his chest, holding him against the seat with the blanket snug around his quaking body.
Blaine doesn't look back as Cooper drives away. He can't look back.
When they arrive at Cooper's house, a cozy one-story in the quiet part of town, Blaine waits while Cooper comes around to his side of the car and unbuckles the seat belt. Stepping out onto the sidewalk, Blaine hugs the blanket to his chest and follows his older brother into the house.
"Let's get you out of those wet clothes," Cooper says once they're inside. Blaine doesn't comment. He merely wanders after him to another room in the house, what must be Cooper's bedroom. After looking through his dresser for several minutes, a pair of sweatpants, boxers, and a plain t-shirt are pulled out. "They won't fit perfectly, but they're the smallest I own," Cooper tells him. "You can change in the bathroom just down the hall. There are towels in the cabinet. If you want to take a hot shower, that's cool too."
Blaine takes the clothes with a blank expression. He's about to walk away when a warm hand settles on the side of his neck, encouraging him to look up into his brother's eyes. When he does, Blaine sees affection there—affection and a kind, caring acceptance that he's never found in his parents' faces before.
"Hey," Cooper murmurs. "It's gonna be alright."
Blaine just nods, looking back down. When Cooper's hand slides away, he turns and steps out of the room, walking down the hall until he reaches the small bathroom. He hasn't had a chance to visit since Cooper bought the house and moved back to Ohio a few months ago. Though Blaine's never really understood why he didn't stay in California, he supposes it's a good thing that Cooper's here now. Maybe his older brother has been anticipating this all along.
He sheds his shirt and, with some effort, tugs his wet jeans off as well. Blaine lays them out on the floor as best he can so they can start to dry, even though the fabric is stained with mud from the flowerbed. Slipping off his underwear, he steps into the small shower and pulls the door shut behind him, quickly turning on the overhead spray. It heats up quickly, and Blaine can't help but sigh as the warm water stops his shivering and eases some of the tension from his muscles. After using Cooper's shampoo and body wash, he lingers in the shower for a little longer just to feel the heat on his skin. He wonders what would happen if he just sat down, stayed here, and let the water run across his body until it washed him away. Cooper would get over it; he could go back to his normal life. His parents wouldn't give him a single thought. His few friends would move on.
What would happen if I just stopped existing? Would anyone really care?
Blaine shakes his head, turns off the water and steps out onto the tile floor, grabbing a fluffy white towel and drying himself off before tugging on the too-big boxers and shirt. He has to roll up the legs of the sweatpants to get them to fit, but in a way, the baggy outfit is a little comfortable. It's loose and relaxed. Blaine steps out into the hall and wanders back the way he came.
"In here, buddy." Blaine follows the sound of his voice and ends up in a quaint kitchen. Cooper grins a little. "You don't look half bad!" The 14-year-old can't be bothered to smile back, and Cooper's face falls a bit. "I, uh… I can make you something if you're hungry," he offers, "I'm a fairly decent cook, if I do say so myself."
"Sure." Blaine doesn't mean to sound so ungrateful. He knows that Cooper's committing a lot by opening his home to his kid brother, but it doesn't do much to help soothe the sting of rejection and hatred from his parents. Blaine had never had a very great relationship with them to begin with, but it still hurt to be thrown out because of something he had no control over. He'd never asked to be a submissive.
Cooper gets to work on their evening meal. Blaine pulls himself up onto one of the stools near the island in the center of the room, setting down his packet of test results on the fake marble countertop. He spreads out the creases that his father's harsh grip made and examines each page to see if the rain did much damage. They look a lot less pristine than they did when Dr. Merrick handed them to Blaine with a smile several hours ago, but at least they're readable. The first page is simply results from the various tests. The following small packet of ten or so pages is more of a guide and supply of information. He looks down at the second page with a dull expression.
"As a submissive, you are part of the minority Classification. It is estimated that for each submissive member of the world population, there are least six Dominant members of the population. Scientists have been unable to pinpoint what causes children to be born with the rarer submissive gene. It is not uncommon for submissive children to be born to a pair of Dominant parents. Even traditionally Dominant families, dating back generations, are not immune to the submissive gene.
While scientists have been unable to determine the cause behind the submissive gene's presence, major institutions, including the American Medical Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have determined that the gene is both normal and natural. Contrary to the stigma associated with the rare gene, studies have shown that, if given equal opportunity, people born with the submissive gene are no less likely to succeed than those born with the Dominant gene. Furthermore, research shows that attempts to "cure" or "reverse" the gene's effect are inherently dangerous, and…"
Blaine glances away from the page as Cooper moves to sit beside him, two bowls in hand. He slides one closer to Blaine and hands over a spoon. "Mac and cheese?" Blaine asks, a smile tugging at his lips.
"You used to eat like, a million boxes every week," Cooper replies.
"I did not."
"Fine. Half a million, then." Blaine rolls his eyes but takes the spoon and starts digging in.
"Thanks, Coop," he says between a mouthful of noodles.
"Sure thing, little bro."
They eat in amicable silence. After a few minutes, Cooper reaches out toward Blaine's results, glancing over at him as his hand hovers above the papers. Blaine gives him a half-shrug, half-nod of permission, and Cooper pulls them closer, continuing to eat as he curiously scans the first page and flips through a few of the others.
"When are you scheduled to get your mark?" he asks.
"Next week," Blaine responds, "Tuesday, I'm pretty sure. It's written on there somewhere."
Cooper glances back at the first page, "Yep. Tuesday at 4:10."
"Hooray," Blaine grumbles in monotone, stuffing another spoonful in his mouth. He doesn't want to get a mark. He doesn't care if it's required by law. Getting an 'S' tattooed on his collarbone isn't really in his plans. That being said, he wouldn't have wanted a 'D' tattooed on his collarbone either. "Why is everyone so obsessed with labels? Why does it even matter?" Blaine can hear the bitterness in his tone.
"I don't know," Cooper says quietly, idly tugging down the collar of his shirt and craning his neck to gaze down at the small 'D' on his skin, as if he hasn't considered it in a long time. Blaine's eyes flicker over to catch a glance as well. "I don't know, Blaine."
When they were both younger, Blaine used to think Cooper had all the answers. Cooper was his big brother, his best friend, and the smartest person he knew. Of course, he came to realize that no one, not even Cooper, was perfect or all-knowing. Still, it's hard for him to accept Coop's answer. There had to be a reason why the world was so desperate to label everyone and everything in it. There had to be a point to it all—because if there wasn't, Blaine had just been thrown out of his house for nothing.
With his mind full of unpleasant thoughts, Blaine finishes his food and carries his bowl to the sink, halfheartedly washing it out and drying it off with the towel on the counter. Cooper does the same a moment later and returns the bowls to the cabinet before offering Blaine a can of soda. Root beer isn't his favorite, but he's in no position to complain, so he accepts it with a feeble smile and follows Cooper to the living room.
They sit next to each other on the couch. Blaine sips at his drink while Cooper surfs through a few channels. "Wanna watch a documentary about the migration of African animals?" he asks. Obviously, there must not be anything good on.
Blaine leans casually into Cooper's side while they watch dozens of wildebeest and zebra traverse a river infested with hungry crocodiles. The herds fight the rapids and struggle to evade the predators to get to the other side. The promise of abundant grazing awaits them if they can only make it through the water and up the steep riverbank. Dramatic music sets the scene as a wildebeest calf is separated from its mother in the chaos. Blaine already knows what's going to happen before the croc strikes, but it doesn't make it any easier to watch the young animal helplessly struggle in the jaws of the massive reptile.
Blaine wonders what the calf's dying thoughts are. As soon as it's caught, it begins to bellow. Is he crying for his mother, watching her continue toward the riverbank without looking back? Does it have the capacity to think, "Why me?" as it sees others reach safety unscathed? Blaine drops his gaze down to his can of root beer while the rest of the river scene plays out, feeling a bit too much like the wildebeest being dragged beneath the surface.
The rest of the evening passes rather calmly. Blaine is grateful that Cooper doesn't bring up his brother's abandonment or situation. There are things that will have to be settled, Blaine knows—details and plans and perhaps even legalities of changing Blaine's guardianship that will have to be worked out—but for now it's easier to ignore them, at least for a few hours. Cooper doesn't mention any of it, but Blaine still feels his brother's eyes on him from time to time, watching. Blaine knows he's waiting for the moment when the calm shatters and the floodgates open.
Haggard and exhausted from the traumatic day, Blaine begins to yawn before it's even 9 PM, and Cooper ushers him into the guest bedroom. Blaine goes without a fuss and burrows into the bed sheets, closing his eyes. Cooper is still watching him, even as he backs out of the room and switches off the light, but there's nothing to see as Blaine quickly slips into unconsciousness, where relatively peaceful dreams await him.
It isn't until the middle of the night when Blaine finally breaks down.
He wakes up in a bed that's not his own, in clothes that are way too big for him. The room is darker than he's accustomed to, though he'd never admit to anyone that he still uses a nightlight at home. The smell of detergent on the fabric isn't the same. He doesn't have a single stuffed animal to strangle in an embrace. It's all unfamiliar and wrong. And he's a submissive, and his parents hate him, and it's just too much to take. The first sob is painfully intense, a strangle of air that burns his lungs and makes him double over. He wails like a broken, terrified child, and Blaine isn't sure that's very far from the truth.
Loud, hurried footsteps begin to approach, and the door flies open, revealing Cooper in nothing but boxers and a tank top. One look at his baby brother and the older man is across the room, on the bed, pulling him into his arms without hesitation.
Blaine doesn't try to pull away. He lets Cooper situate him on his lap and nudge his head against his broad shoulder. "It's okay," Blaine hears the whisper in his ear, "Shhh, Blaine. I've got you."
Sometime later, when his sobs have dissolved into wet hiccups, Cooper grabs a box of tissues from the nightstand, drying his tears and holding one to his brother's nose. "Blow," he says gently. Blaine obeys, exhaling through his nose and filling the soft paper with entirely too much snot for his liking. Blaine presses his head back into Cooper's neck, exhausted. It's been the longest day of his life. The longest, and most horrible day of his life.
Cooper shifts, and Blaine clutches the back of his tank with a whimper. Don't leave me. He doesn't have the strength to articulate the words. Luckily, Cooper doesn't need him to. He understands.
The older brother lifts Blaine up into his arms, and without being prompted, the fourteen year old wraps his legs around Cooper's waist, holding on weakly as he's carried from the room. After a short walk, Blaine feels himself being lowered onto another bed, and soft sheets are carefully pulled up around him. The mattress dips behind him, and Blaine rolls over to face his brother, snuggling in as close as he can get. Cooper's body is warm, and his arms are strong and safe. Blaine tucks himself in without a thought of being embarrassed, and Cooper lets him, stroking his curls.
"You're okay, Blaine," he whispers. "I'll take care of you."