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.
4x13. Sick!Blaine. In which Blaine has a lot on his plate, and getting sick during Diva week is the last thing he needs.
Blaine could list a hundred - a thousand things he would rather be doing than fighting a cold during Diva week.
It wasn't that there weren't other inopportune times, and certainly it would have been tragic if he had picked up the flu before sectionals (in retrospect, it wouldn't have mattered then, courtesy of Marley passing out on stage and disqualifying their entire team as a result, but that wasn't the point).
The Point was that Blaine Anderson wasn't elected the New Rachel for nothing, and being leader of the New Directions meant accepting any and all challenges to his claim to the throne. (Of course, he didn't verbalize his feelings on the issue out of fear that Kitty might actually kill him during Cheerios' practice, but that was also unimportant.) Not to mention the fact that men were capable of being divas and he was the perfect candidate to reassert the fact.
The Point was that he spent five hours practicing the best way to style his curls without feeling like Medusa reincarnated in preparation for their diva-off after school. He was actually pretty proud of himself for trimming off those last few pounds during "Men of McKinley" week: the bright red corset he wore fit like a dream. (Once more: not things he was inclined to admit aloud, but he was sort of pleased with himself for pulling it off; Kurt's absence had admittedly been filled in his life with a less than strict diet, and Sam's dieting and exercising scare had only re-emphasized the fact that there was a healthy balance.) He even liked the matching boa and pants that went along with it: there was something sexy about it all, liberating and spontaneous.
Putting on his best bitch face (he'd learned well from Kurt), he let the girls take the leads, preferring to save his voice and let his bitchiness come out. It didn't rear its head often, and certainly not in the public sector (even the Warblers might have side-eyed him if he'd strutted into their rehearsal hall), but it was nice, being able to unleash a bit of his own wildness. It was edgy in a fresh but not unwanted way, feeling so empowered for a change. When he thrust his arms in the air, he felt satisfaction deep in his gut, hot and energized.
Of course, it was a mixed blessing that he didn't have a lead in the song, his voice a mere complementary flavor in their mix. As soon as the lights went out and their small band of judges (Artie, Finn, and Ms. Pillsbury among them) clapped, Blaine felt something else unfurl in his chest, an exhaustion that ran bone deep.
Listening to their feedback was an exercise in patience: the boa felt oppressively hot around his neck as he folded his arms and waited. He refused to be the first to leave the stage, and long after Tina had stalked off, he made a single smooth bow, letting his boa slither to the ends of his arms before gracefully gathering it back up and striding off stage, killing the lights as soon as he reached the panel.
That was only the first round in the diva off, and the initial presentations only counted so far. Without a solo, Blaine was already behind and determined to make up ground the next morning. Forcing himself out of bed fifteen minutes later than usual (he'd hit the snooze button a time or two, but everyone had a slow day and he was not going to let this cold get the better of him), he hurried through his routine and drank an extra shot of espresso with his coffee. He felt a little more alive as he rummaged through his locker, gratefully digging out the small bag of tissues he always kept on hand when he felt his nose dripping.
Divas did not get colds, he reminded himself sternly as he dabbed at his nose, trying to ignore the dull ache in his head.
"Here," a familiar voice said, an equally familiar figure materializing at his side seconds later and thrusting a small plastic container at him. "I put together a little cold-buster kit for you."
Blaine blinked, a little off-put by the generosity, offering a weak laugh. "Cool. Uh - uh. How'd you know?"
"Your nose was red yesterday."
Blaine frowned, turning a little so he could look at his locker mirror. Please tell me that wasn't like that for the diva-off, he thought, groaning internally at the thought.
"Start off with cough drops, then two packs of vitamin C, a cup of my homemade Chinese chicken soup, and finish with my secret weapon: night time cold medicine."
Blaine looked down at the box, oddly touched by the thoughtfulness. It wasn't like anyone had ever made him a cold-buster kit before. Maybe good karma did exist.
Fumbling for a suitably grateful response, he answered, "Aww, thank you. I really appreciate this - it's gonna have me feeling better in no time. Except for maybe the night time cold medicine."
"Why? It's amazing."
Blaine had no doubt of that, either, except: "Just makes me really sleepy and woozy. Which is something I can't afford to be right now. Not with Diva week in full swing."
Tucking the kit under his arm, he started walking, letting her trail alongside him as he added, "I wanna be able to prove that men can be divas, too. Which is why I'm gonna give them a full dose of Freddy Mercury just to show how the boys can really bring some diva attitude."
"Mr. Anderson, you find new ways to inspire me every day."
"Aww. Thanks, Tina."
He was keenly aware of her presence the entire way to the choir room, her unwavering focus making him feel part-flattered, part-concerned. He'd hoped that after their little convo before the Sadie Hawkins dance things were okay with them. It wasn't like Tina didn't know he was gay. They had gone to the dance as friends and had a blast. That was how things were between them: easygoing and friendly. So what if she brought him a cold-buster kit with no other reason than he appeared to be coming down with something? It wasn't like Sam wouldn't have done the same if he had known (albeit, he probably would have compiled a box of vitamins and five hour energy bottles instead). Still, there was something ... weird about Tina lately. She was spending more time with him than ever, and in spite of repeated assurances that she respected their friendship, he could tell that something was up. Mostly in her eyes. Was it normal to stare that intently at a person? Even knowing that they couldn't be in a relationship?
You did it with Sam.
Blaine swallowed his questions and offered a lame smile instead, ready to wow them at Glee club as they entered the room.
And wow them he did. He liked the little montage he'd put together during his first three study halls that week, picking out the right leathery outfit and rehearsing in his spare time. His voice was a little huskier than he would have liked, but it added to the song, letting him run though growls and riffs more easily. He felt everything else slipping away, his problems, his concerns, even his uncertainties about Tina as he threw himself into the performance, into reasserting himself as leader and a true masculine diva.Just because Finn had moved back to town didn't mean he had to surrender his involvement with the Glee club, and he wasn't about to let Kurt's stepbrother usurp his title after he'd fought and won it. Finn had had three years of being the New Directions' leader: it was Blaine's turn now.
Except once he returned back to earth, it was worse. His ears wouldn't stop ringing and his head ached and he almost fell off his seat during calculus when he fell asleep at his desk (Artie had kindly jabbed him in the side before their teacher could notice, startling him back to awareness). From then on, he couldn't wake up: it was a struggle to keep his eyes open. He shamelessly put his head on his folded arms and snored his way through study hall, dragging himself to his feet at the bell. If his zombie-like state showed, neither his peers nor instructors minded: their group discussions passed at the same sluggish pace as usual, and he answered class questions with his usual alacrity.
As soon as he got home, he collapsed face-down on his bed and slept until one in the morning, jerking awake and fumbling his way through twenty pages of reading and an essay before sorting through their playlists to add to the regionals' set list.
Normally he didn't mind the task: it gave him a chance to settle down and listen to music, picking out the pieces that he could see working with their vocals in the most substantial way possible. He tried to envision each song, sometimes slipping into the old habit of assigning instruments as well as solos. It was laborious, but he knew that it would pay off in the end if they won competitions. For the extra hour or two it took per night, it meant an extra shot at a trophy. Winning was everything; that much he knew.
That night, however, he worked with the same mindless tedium that he'd approached his daily work with, scanning through the options without feeling particularly inspired by any of them. When he looked over at his clock and realized it was almost three in the morning, he slowly pushed back his chair, staggered over to his bed, and crawled under the rumpled sheets, dropping off into a restless half-sleep.
His alarm sounded all too early at six, and he groaned as he reached over to hit snooze, missing on the first handful of tries. When he felt light on his face he finally blinked, yelping in surprise when he realized that it was half past seven. Forgoing at least half of his morning routine (and applying twice as much hair gel as usual), he scrambled out the front door, skirting the line between too far over the speed limit and just right as he pulled into a slot at the McKinley parking lot.
Things didn't improve at all from there. Tina approached him once more at his locker, weirdly helpful and also strangely ... well, enamored. He tried not to think about it too much as he watched her, head throbbing so acutely that he could almost zone out her words entirely. It wasn't until he forced himself to stop mindlessly picking over his locker and focus on what she was saying that he realized that in sickness or health, he was the new Rachel.
And Tina needed him.
She needed him like Sam had needed him, someone to help put her back on her feet. Marley, at least, had found enough support via Jake and Ryder that his intervention seemed unnecessary; Brittany, too, had come back after Britney week. The New Directions hadn't always looked out for each other and bad things had happened as a result. Friendships were broken, trusts lost, and many an unnecessary fight had just because no one had stopped to actually listen and see what the problem was before it became explosive. They weren't perfect now, but they were learning, and looking at Tina then, Blaine saw it.
She needed someone.
And she had chosen him.
She's not interested in you anymore, he thought, relieved. She just needs a friend.
"Okay," he coughed, sharp and uncomfortable, before deciding, "you are coming to my house after school tonight and we're gonna find you the right song. We're gonna bring out your inner diva if it kills me."
"Oh, Blainey-days." She smiled at him, a painfully hopeful look, and for a moment Blaine thought that he had actually really done something right.
He fell asleep twice during his classes that day, only forcing himself to stay awake during his study hall so he could work on compiling a mini-set list. It soon turned into a venture to list as many artists that qualified as divas as he could, hoping that maybe seeing so many inspirational figures as attainable goals might boost Tina's mood a bit. Had Kitty approached him with the same quandary, Blaine would gladly have tracked down every diva artist on record if it might improve her mood, but she hadn't, and so he focused on Tina instead.
"Dude. Dude. Dude."
Blaine jerked awake, wincing as he smacked his elbow against the edge of the table. "What, Sam?" he asked, edgier than he meant as he rubbed his arm.
"Hello, student council meeting?"
Suppressing a groan, Blaine tucked his laptop away. "I'm sorry, I just - I got caught up - "
"It's fine," Sam assured, eyeing him skeptically. "You all right?"
"You just look like ... a zombie."
Blaine rolled his eyes, hitching his satchel over his shoulder. "I have Zombie Survival club after school," he deadpanned, not entirely untrue - he did have it tomorrow after school.
Sam stared at him, shaking his head after a moment as he clapped his shoulder and gave him a light push in the right direction. "Well, come on, you're late."
The meeting dragged, with Blaine occasionally exercising his authority as student council president by guiding the conversation. He tapped the gavel whenever an argument broke out, listening in on each of their opinions and almost forgetting his customary dismissal at four thirty when the time rolled around. They all gathered up and dispersed with agitated murmurs, bickering about prom plans or senior plans or some other issues - he would have to ask for the minutes later.
Yawning into his hand, he pulled out his latest pack of tissues - the fifth mini pack he'd gone through; he was close to having to break out larger boxes - and slouched out of the meeting room, slogging his way across McKinley's grounds back to the parking lot. He almost forgot about his arrangement with Tina entirely by the time he got home, dragging himself through the front door and toeing off his shoes, leaning against it as he did so. Thankfully for him, a knock came mere seconds later, startling him out of his half-conscious reverie as he turned around and answered it, offering a weak smile.
"Hey, Tina," he said, ushering her inside. "I'd take your coat but I don't want to give you my cold."
"It's fine," she assured, bustling inside and looking around. "So, where did you want to do this?"
"I thought we could talk about it upstairs," Blaine said, thinking on the spot. Mostly his thoughts were bed bed bed, but to be fair, he did think it would be more comfortable for both of them. Tina could sit on the floor - or bed, bed was fine, too - and they could talk it over and Blaine could put on his playlist on his iPod dock and just let Tina immerse herself in all the empowering songs. And then everything would be great, Tina would leave feeling happy and refreshed and probably sing about it in Glee club tomorrow, and Blaine could quietly crawl under his sheets and sleep forever.
"Do you want me to get a snack?" Tina offered, looking around and smiling at him.
"Hm?" Then: "Oh, no, no, no, I've got it, go ahead and ... get comfortable," he offered, waving a hand upstairs. "First door to the left."
He didn't hear her move upstairs, focusing on grabbing a tray and putting a couple bottles of water on it, a small fruit container (and thank goodness he kept them all separately organized; he didn't want to think about the indignity of offering to get a snack and then having to admit defeat when he realized that there was no way he could grab one without contaminating it).
Trudging upstairs, he entered his room to find Tina already sitting on the edge of his bed near the headboard, staring at the mini-shrine he'd compiled of Kurt. (Most of the break up blogs he'd read about it said that was unhealthy, but he liked being able to roll over and just see Kurt and remember why this hurt so much, why it was worth so much, and why he needed to keep fighting for him.)
It brought a little smile to his face in spite of himself. Maybe he and Kurt were on the rocks, but what they had had was more than Blaine could have ever hoped to find so young. He was willing to wait, to fight for him however much he needed to in order to win him back.
And if that meant letting Kurt go for a time, letting him spread his wings and soar on his own for a while - well, Blaine would do it.
And he could even do some good in the meantime, he thought, setting the tray down by the foot of the bed.
"Have you ever been with a girl?"
Tina's half-wistful, half-sad voice pulled him back to the present. Blaine frowned.
"Nope. Perfect gold star gay. Except for that one time where I kissed Rachel Berry," he explained, a little worried but also a little too tired to really care where the conversation was heading.
"That doesn't count," Tina said, a slightly playful edge to her voice as she looked at him, a hint of desperation in her eyes.
Blaine shrugged, sitting down on the bed. "Well, it's not that I don't like girls, I love them. They're very kind and sensitive and their bodies are beautiful." He smiled, hoping that maybe he could deflect the conversation simply by showing her that he had nothing against girls, and he certainly didn't mind being her friend.
She smiled back at him, clearly pleased. "Thank you. You know, on behalf of girls everywhere."
Blaine nodded in understanding, adding gently, "But loving them ... that way, s'not who I am."
He thought that maybe, then, that would have been enough. Tina's bright "We're young. We still have time to find ourselves" seemed just ambivalent enough that he nodded along, quickly turning the conversation over to the reason he had come in the first place:
"Exactly. Which is why, Ms. Tina Cohen-Chang, you are about to find your inner diva. I took the liberty of making a little playlist of some of the classic diva songs for you to go through." He glanced down at her laptop, then said, "But you should open the laptop; I don't want to give you my germs."
Tina obligingly pulled it open, Blaine letting himself zone out as she scrolled through the lists, wondering how rude it would be if he simply told her that he wasn't up to this and as much as he wanted to help everyone and be amazingly supportive three hundred percent of the time, he couldn't always do it. And this was one of those days.
But Tina had seemed so ... happy. To be around him. Happier than she'd seemed in a long time. And if he was the one that was finally bringing her back in the spotlight after years of neglect, then ... so be it. He could endure a little discomfort for that.
"Wow. I can't believe you went old school diva. Cher ... Aretha ... Madonna. Do you really think I can pull this off? I don't even know what I would wear," Tina said, staring at the screen in disbelief.
Blaine shook his head, his reasons fluttering out of his grasp as he insisted that, "Are you kidding me? You would kill it. I was thinking that we could use - " he yawned " - one of those - " yawn " - dresses from - " yawn " - sectionals." Rubbing sleepily at his eyes, desperate to stay awake and focus, he murmured, "I'm sorry, the - the cold medicine is really very strong." He suppressed another yawn, thinking that maybe taking one of those night cold medicine pills after he'd gotten home hadn't been the best idea. At least he'd had some energy before: now he just felt drained. Drained and sort of like his head was spinning and wow, lying down sounded really, really amazing.
"Okay," he murmured when Tina suggested the same, a tone that he couldn't quite define to her voice that was part gentle, part satisfied as he complied. "That's a good idea," he whispered. He slumped back onto the bed, almost bumping into her shoulder on the way, a murmured, unintelligible apology slipping out of his lips before he flopped back against the pillows, his breath leaving him in a heavy sigh.
He could feel it, then, all the aches and pains, the crippling exhaustion that made him want to sleep for years. The congestion in his chest was awful - it was hard to breathe through the sheer weight of it. Closing his eyes and focusing himself to just relax and let it resolve itself, knowing that eventually he'd be able to hack it up and be done with it, he felt sleep tugging him down, slowly, softly, so, so nicely.
It was the nicest thing he'd felt in a long time, really, just being able to drift off without a hundred thoughts plaguing him. He didn't think about Glee club or Cheerios or student council. He didn't think about all the extra-curricular courses he had to handle, all the clubs and activities he had to manage. He didn't worry about whether or not he had won the Diva week or not, whether Finn's presence threatened his title as leader of Glee club or not. He didn't worry about Sam or Rachel or Kurt or any of them.
He just let himself go, let himself give in to sleep that was tugging him down inexorably, irresistibly, and felt at peace.
He was vaguely, distantly aware of the tightness in his chest uncoiling, the thick layer of mucus disintegrating, his breaths evening out. In his mind, he saw Kurt, curled up beside him with an arm firmly anchored around his waist, his own breaths puffing against the back of Blaine's neck as they cuddled. And if Kurt's hand spread across his chest seemed to finally ease some of his discomfort, he welcomed it, even knowing it was just a fantasy.
He woke alone the next morning, his head clearer than it had been in days and his chest remarkably clear. Savoring the experience of just being able to breathe easy, he almost didn't notice the empty jar of Vicks beside himself. Cocking his head to one side curiously, he pocketed the jar, thinking maybe he could explain to Tina that somehow in the process he must have put some on and accidentally used the entire jar. He felt great; he'd gladly pay for another jar for her in case she ever needed it again.
Except Tina wasn't the same person she had been last night when she met him in the hallway that morning, unsmiling and dispassionate.
Blaine listened to her speak and slowly, painfully realized that he'd missed something.
And Tina's crush hadn't abated in the slightest.
Author's Notes: Hello, everyone.
I wanted to gently skirt the Tina/Blaine awkwardness as much as possible, and while it's unavoidable that it's a part of this, I did my best to exclude the straddling scene and the aftermath (although it's still implied when Blaine discovers the empty Vicks' bottle).
I hope you enjoyed! Let me know what you thought?
And also, I will be writing a Kurt/sick!Blaine one shot soon.