Helloooo everyone! And welcome to my bran new Klaine AU!
I got the idea for this one thanks to a picture Chord tweeted once, some time ago, and I had to write it. I won't tell you which picture so I don't spoil any details ;) But I certainly hope you'll enjoy!
IMP is 21 chapters long. It has been completely written since March or April (can't remember exactly), so as usual, I'll be updating weekly.
Standing ovation for my beautiful beta, Wutif, and another for Brandi who made the cover art for this fic.
I own nothing.
It all started with a funeral.
Blaine Anderson wrapped his mother in a one-armed hug and pulled her closer to his side. She was a small woman, with black curly hair neatly gathered back in a bow, and piercing hazel eyes. No one would have doubted he was her son.
Now, their identical hazel eyes watched as the coffin was lowered into the grave. Blaine felt her trembling and tried to make a comforting sound, but what came out sounded more woeful than anything else.
Two days ago, Blaine picked up the phone to hear his mother's frantic voice on the other end. Between sobs, she explained that Blaine's father had been in a car accident on his way home from work, and died instantly. Blaine had listened to the news numbly, had reassured his mother that he'd be there in half an hour, and then hung up the phone. It was only when he'd arrived to the house where he had grown up in and saw Heather Anderson's tear-stained cheeks that it sank in. His father was gone.
It was overwhelmingly real now, as he watched the shiny wooden coffin sinking into the dirt. His mother took a slow step forward, out of his arms, to drop a red rose into the grave. He took his own step forward then, to throw in his rose and say his goodbye. How could he say goodbye when so much had been left unsaid?
Heather squeezed his hand when he returned to her side, and only seconds later, their family, the family's friends, the neighbors, everyone began approaching them to give them their condolences. Blaine had never understood why people said they were sorry when someone died. Saying they were sorry sounded so wrong, so false, so cliché. What could they possibly be sorry for?
But he was an Anderson boy, raised to be unfailingly polite, so he nodded appropriately every time someone spoke those words to him. He kept his gaze fastened to the ground, as if staring at the grave would eventually help him make sense of what had happened.
And yet... how can you simply accept that life can just end so quickly? His father had left his office for home, as he had done every day for the past thirty years, planning to have dinner with his wife, perhaps having a glass of red wine and maybe watching the news as he relaxed before heading to bed, where he would probably read over some report from work. But that routine was now broken, and Blaine couldn't help wondering what would've happened if his father had gotten a last minute phone call, or if he'd had been stopped by someone on the way out. Would he still be alive today? Would things have remained as they had always been?
Heather squeezed his hand again, and Blaine tore his eyes away from the place where his father would rest for all of eternity. Eternity. What an unfathomable concept that was. It was impossible to understand something as vast as eternity, but then again, it had seemed impossible to believe Mark Anderson could die so suddenly too.
"We should go now," Heather whispered, although she seemed reluctant to move away, to leave Mark there all alone in the cold, cold ground.
"We can stay as long as you need to," Blaine said reassuringly, slipping his arm around her shoulders again.
But Heather shook her head, then dabbed at her tears delicately with the sodden handkerchief she'd used all afternoon. "No. Everyone will go to the house soon and we need to be there to receive them."
Blaine sighed, dreading it. He had never understood the need people had to get together after funerals, eat and behave as if there was something to celebrate. But the Andersons had always had a busy social life, and there were dozens of people waiting to offer their sympathy to both Heather and Blaine. And Blaine always did what he was expected to do.
The drive back was mostly silent, except for the occasional quiet sniffs coming from the passenger seat, where Heather was staring out the window. Blaine couldn't possibly imagine how his mother was feeling at a moment like this, what her thoughts were. He couldn't imagine how it would feel to lose the man you had loved for more than half your life.
The Andersons had a nice house on the outskirts of Westerville. It had a big, white, welcoming door and large windows, and a little balcony overlooking the backyard on the other side. The grey stone front made the house look elegant and timeless, and his mother's well-cared for flowerbeds made it look graceful. Blaine had always thought the house wasn't cozy enough; it had too many rooms for only three people. When he was a kid Blaine had felt so lonely in the empty hallways and quiet rooms. When he was a teenager, he had appreciated the privacy a little more, but he had still longed for something less formal.
He parked the car in the driveway and helped his mother out, keeping a hand on her back to guide her inside, to show her he was still there. She kissed his cheek as he opened the door, and then he told her to go sit in the living room to relax for a moment while he prepared for when people started arriving.
Blaine walked into the kitchen and allowed himself a moment to press his hands to the cold granite countertops. He had been reacting automatically since his mother's panicked call, and his self-control was starting to wear thin. He had forced himself to remain calm, to be helpful, to not let his own grief show until this day was over, but he was sure there was a price to pay once all the details were done.
Soon the house was filled with the smell of too many flowers and too much food, and the sound of multiple conversations. Heather had resumed her role as hostess as soon as the first person arrived, and once again Blaine was surprised at what a strong woman she was, putting on a brave face and forcing herself to interact with people when she clearly was hurting deeply inside.
Blaine's attention drifted away from his mother when he felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned to find one of his father's business partners standing there.
"Mark was a great man, Blaine," he said solemnly. "We worked together, but we were friends, too. Whenever we went out for lunch after a meeting, he always talked about you."
Blaine's eyebrows shot up in surprise at that. He sounded perplexed when he spoke. "He did?"
"Of course! When you were a little boy, he often talked about taking you to the office with him, so you could see what he did. He was always too busy to actually do it, but I know he wanted you to see his world," the man gave Blaine a quick pat in the back and a sad smile. "If I can do anything for you or your mother, please let me know."
Blaine merely nodded his thanks before he was left alone again, this time with different thoughts. His father had talked about him during lunch with his associates and friends? The man he remembered and the man that had been just described to him didn't quite match.
He took a sip of water and loosened his black skinny tie a little. Blaine wanted nothing more than disappear, in that corner of the living room, on his own, and think, but one of his neighbors approached him then, and he knew it wasn't the time to dwell on it. He took a deep breath and listened for the hundreth time that day about what a great man his dad had been.
He would have to wait and put the pieces together later, and maybe then he'd be able to remember the man everyone else had known, instead of the one who had raised him.
It was late when the house was finally empty again. Silence settled over it like a thick blanket, not even the sounds from the neighborhood seemed to penetrate through the windows.
Blaine decided to stay for the night. It had been a very hard day for both of them and he didn't want to leave his mother alone. He went into his old bedroom and sat on the bed. It still looked much like it had when he was in high school: the light green walls that matched the throw pillows on the bed; the old football his father had gotten him, autographed by one of his favorite players from the Buckeyes was still on top of the dresser. A few old photographs were scattered around here and there; there were still a couple of trophies from polo and singing competitions. The only thing that looked different were his bookshelves. They had been full of books when he still lived here, but all those books were now in his current apartment in Westerville, though now he wished he had left a few behind. Those books were comforting to him, and he could really use some comfort right now. Just running his fingers down the worn spines of the books, or letting his eyes linger on the familiar words on the pages would've been enough to lighten his heavy heart.
Instead, he took off his jacket and tie and let them carelessly draped on the chair at the desk. He rolled the sleeves of his white shirt up to his elbows and ran his hand through his hair, loosening the gel that kept it tamed. He rummaged in his bag for a moment and then moved to the bathroom to take his contacts out and replace them with his black-rimmed glasses. His eyes felt tired, all of him was tired, but he knew that if he got into bed, he wouldn't be able to sleep. Not yet, at least.
Deciding to go back downstairs and maybe find something to drink and eat since he had barely touched any food all day, Blaine left his room and went into the kitchen to find his mother was already there. She was wearing a white silk robe on top of her pajamas, sitting at the kitchen table and staring down into her cup of tea as if it held all of the answers to every single question in the universe.
Blaine leaned against the doorway and watched her for a couple of seconds. "Are you okay?"
Heather's head snapped up in surprise. "Oh. I didn't hear you come in, Blaine, dear." Her fingers curled around the mug, instinctively looking for some warmth. "I'm okay, yes."
Blaine moved to the fridge and pulled it open. He looked inside and then grabbed some chicken and mustard to make a sandwich. He worked quietly at the counter, and only spoke up again when he was sitting at the table, opposite his mother. "You can't sleep either?"
She gave him a sad little smile. "When you're used to sharing your bed with your husband for so many years, finding his side empty and cold doesn't exactly help you rest." After a sip of tea and a soft sigh, she asked, "you're having trouble sleeping, too?"
Blaine nodded. "I guess I just have a lot on my mind right now."
"Anything you want to talk about?" She offered.
"No. It's... it's about him, and I don't want you to..." Blaine muttered, unsure.
Heather grabbed his hand and looked into his eyes. "Honey, just because he's gone, it doesn't mean I can't talk about him, or that I don't want to. Yes, it hurts, but pretending it never happened won't change how I feel. If there's something you want to talk about, you can do it."
She let go of his hand and he took a bite off his sandwich to gain some time. He didn't know how to word what he was feeling, and that was unusual, because words had always been friends of his. He had always been able to rely on words to express himself, whether he sang about it or he wrote about it, or he read about it.
"I'm afraid I missed my chance to really get to know who my father was," Blaine started, frowning down at his food.
"What do you mean?" Heather asked.
"Everyone talked about him today, and most of the things they said, didn't have anything to do with what I saw on him while I was growing up, or over these past few years," Blaine explained. "I know he was a good man, I know he was good at his job... but what about everything else?" Blaine was frustrated. For so many years, his father had been an enigma for him, but somehow Blaine had always thought he had time to unravel the mystery, to understand, to ask the questions he'd never dared to ask. And now...
Heather sighed. "He never hid from you. He was always the man you saw."
"That makes no sense," Blaine retorted, pushing the plate with the sandwich away. "Of course he hid from me. Of course that wasn't who he was. He was always too busy and uncommunicative... He..." Blaine paused and closed his eyes. His thoughts were a mess and the stress of the last few days was catching up to him. He was exhausted. "John told me today that he always used to talk about me when they went out for lunch together."
Heather nodded. "I know. He liked talking about you."
The frustration was growing stronger inside of him, tightening his chest. "But that doesn't make any sense!" He said again. "He didn't even like me, mom, why would he talk about me with his friends?"
Heather's hazel eyes went wide and she seemed honestly shocked. "Blaine... how can you say your father didn't like you? He loved you, so much. You were his only son."
"His only son who is gay?" Blaine replied bitterly. "You think I don't know he was disappointed in me?"
Heather shook her head. "Oh, Blaine, dear. You really didn't know him if that's what you think."
Blaine's confusion must have shown on his face, because Heather took a last sip of tea and then reached for his hand.
"I remember when I first met him, he reminded me of one of those characters in those old black and white movies, the perfect gentleman. He had been raised to be one, and he was perhaps a little too respectful and quiet." Her tone and her gaze became a little dreamy and Blaine's heart broke a little at that, thinking she had lost the man she clearly loved so deeply. "He never really found it easy to talk about his feelings. He was always better at communicating on a professional level, actually. He was a little distant, but I never doubted for a second that he loved me as much as I loved him. It was just who he was, Blaine," she squeezed his hand gently. "When you were a little boy, he changed a little. He was less distant, more caring. He spent long afternoons playing outside with you, rolling on the grass in his expensive suits," she laughed a bit at that, and Blaine thought hard for a moment. He had been too young to remember all of that, but he thought he'd dreamed about it. "But when you were almost ten, the company went through a bit of a crisis, and your father had to spend more time at the office. He was too busy and overstressed, and there were times he was worried we weren't going to make it, and by the time we were back on our feet, financially, and the company was out of trouble, you were around thirteen. He found it much harder getting close to a teenager, especially since you were going through so many extra changes, coming to terms with your sexuality. You were locked in your room, reading all the time, and, to be fair, neither of us knew how to approach you sometimes. It's hard on everyone, having a teenage son."
Blaine replayed her words in his head, thoughtfully. "That still doesn't mean he liked me. He liked the little boy he played with, not me. Not who I am now."
Heather stood up and took her empty mug to the sink. "He was worried about you, and sometimes he didn't know how to deal with that."
"He wasn't even happy when I got into college," Blaine said, remembering the way his father had frowned when he showed him his acceptance letter.
"Again, he was more worried. He always thought you lacked a bit of ambition, and he was worried you would have trouble finding a job," Heather explained patiently.
"I have a job," Blaine said stubbornly.
"Yes, Blaine. You do." She sat back at the table, this time next to him, and put a hand on his knee. "Being worried about your child is something you'll understand when you become a father yourself." She smiled a little at the thought. "But for now, I can tell you this: maybe there were some things he didn't understand, things he didn't know how to say or show, but he loved you, no matter what." She stood up, ready to walk out of the kitchen, but stopped at the doorway. "And Blaine? He was very proud of you."
Blaine took a sharp intake of breath (those words. He had always wanted to hear those words), and only nodded in response. His head was much more of a mess than it had been before this conversation.
Even if he was completely exhausted, it was hard for Blaine to fall asleep that night.
Walking down the aisles, Blaine stopped every few shelves to put a book back in its spot. It was the quiet time before lunch period, and soon the library would be filled with boys who had forgotten to do their homework, or who preferred to use that time to get their work done so they wouldn't have to worry about it during the weekend.
After graduating from high school at Dalton Academy, the prestigious school his father had attended, Blaine had gone to Ohio State to get a English major, and as soon as he was done with that, he transferred to a different school to get a master in Library Sciences. He loved books, he wanted to spend his life surrounded by them, and even though his dad had had his doubts about his son's future, Blaine was doing alright. Once he was done with his studies, he had been hired at his old school, and he was now in charge of the library in Dalton.
He was comforted by the familiarity of the buildings, the uniforms, the teachers. It was a nice place to work, even if he didn't have a lot of career opportunities there, like his father had wanted for him. But there was one thing Mark Anderson had been wrong about, and that was Blaine's lack of ambition.
Maybe he didn't aspire to become the president of the United States, or a billionaire with his own multinational company. Maybe he didn't want to be a scientist and discover the cure for cancer, or become a lawyer and work for the most important people in the country. But he had dreams, even if they weren't as big as his father thought they should be.
He wanted love. He wanted a kind, sweet man he could go home to every night; a man who would eventually get down on one knee and ask him to marry him. He wanted the kind of romance he had often read about, but never really experienced. He wanted a family, a couple of kids, a nice little house with a picket fence where he could see them grow. He wanted a nice, full life. He was the first to admit he was a hopeless romantic. And when it came to work...
Blaine knew exactly what he wanted in that aspect, too.
He put the last book in the History section (third shelf, section D), and then walked back to the front desk and slipped behind the counter. He checked the time on the computer: it was almost lunch time, and Blaine was leaving earlier than usual today.
It had been a couple of weeks since his father's death, and now that all the paperwork was done, Mark's lawyer had called Blaine and his mother to ask them to meet him at his office to go over his will. Blaine was sure it was merely a formality: he already knew that his father had arranged for most of his assets to go to his wife, Heather Anderson, and the rest to Blaine. Blaine knew it was probably going to be a substantial amount of money (after all, his father had been one of the three top men in one of Ohio's biggest finance companies), and he was planning to put his part in the bank, since he didn't really need it. He had a nice apartment and a job, a functioning car and enough food in his kitchen. That's all he needed.
He started working on updating the catalogue on the computer while the library was still quite empty, and then once some students arrived, he helped them to find the books they needed. When he checked the time again, it was ten minutes before he was supposed to leave, and the assistant librarian that was going to replace him while he was gone for the afternoon was already there.
He grabbed his things, put his jacket on and walked out of the school, crossing the parking lot to where the staff's cars were parked. Before turning the engine on, he texted his mother to let her know he was on his way.
He had been seeing his mother a lot lately. He made sure to take her out to lunch or dinner every few days and to call her during the day even if he was busy. She seemed to be doing alright, but Blaine knew how overwhelming it could be to be alone with her memories in that big house, especially when she was still very deeply grieving.
"I'll go back to my normal activities soon, dear, don't worry," Heather had reassured him the last time they met for lunch. "It'll take a little while to get back on my feet, but I'm doing okay. Life goes on, I guess."
Her sad sigh hadn't convinced Blaine, not at all, really.
At times like this, Blaine wished he wasn't an only son. He imagined how different things would be if he had an older sister, someone who already had a family of her own, so Heather could be distracted with playing with her grandchildren, to help her get some joy back into her life.
Blaine stopped at a red light and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. It was a nice day, with the sun shining, a brilliant afternoon in early April. The school would soon close for the summer break in a few weeks, and Blaine would have nothing to do until the classes started again in September. Perhaps he could take his mother on some kind of trip? He hadn't travelled since he was still a teenager, and he knew Heather loved it. Maybe a week in Paris would cheer her up? Or lying on some nice beach in Italy?
Blaine pushed those thoughts away momentarily when he arrived to the building where his father's lawyer's office was located. He parked the car and then went inside, taking the elevator to the forth floor, as he had been instructed to do during the phone call.
His mother was already there, sitting in the waiting room. She was wearing an elegant and sober navy skirt and jacket. She almost looked like an executive and Blaine pulled her into a quick hug when she stood to kiss his cheek.
"Have you been waiting long, mom?" He asked.
"Less than five minutes, I think," she answered. "How was work?"
"It was good," Blaine sat next to where she had been sitting and she followed suit. "I'm thinking I may be able to go back again if this goes quickly enough..."
Before they could say anything else, the door of the office in front of them opened, and a young man around Blaine's age emerged, smiling politely at them and introducing himself before leading them inside.
The office was tastefully decorated, and the lawyer – who had introduced himself as Steve Collins – invited them to sit on the two very comfortable chairs on the other side of his mahogany desk. There was a picture of a pretty blonde girl in a frame on it, next to his computer, and Blaine assumed it was his girlfriend. He wondered if he went home to her every night, if they were planning to get married, if they would buy a house with a picket fence…
He realized Steve had started talking.
"… so this is all quite routine," he was explaining. "If it's okay with you, I'll start reading Mr. Anderson's will now."
He waited until Heather nodded quietly, and then he began.
"I, Mark Anderson…" Steve began. Shortly after hearing his father's name, Blaine was lost again, zoned out in his own thoughts.
Mark Anderson. His father. He was even more of a mystery to Blaine, after the conversation he'd had with his mother in the kitchen the night of the funeral. If he had been so proud of his son, if he had loved him as much as his wife assured he had, why hadn't he tried harder to have a closer relationship with Blaine? Why had he allowed his son to become a complete stranger to him? Blaine knew he hadn't been the easiest of teenagers: he'd always liked locking himself up in his room and losing himself in fantasy worlds, fictitious alternatives that kept him away from the reality that was his life. He had been taunted ceaselessly when he was in middle school, and it had only gotten worse after his classmates took his journal, where he had been writing a story, something he kept looking for in the books he read, but never found. A story where he could see himself, a story where the ending was exactly what he dreamed. It was the story of a lonely prince who was rescued by another prince. Worst of all, he had made the deadly mistake of giving that heroic prince the name of Brian Peterson, universally considered by all the girls – and him – the cutest boy in the school.
Blaine had never been as embarrassed, as mortified, as when he had to sit at his table during lunch period, paralyzed by humiliation as he listened to one of the boys reading aloud his deepest dreams and fantasies in a mocking voice. He had cried himself to sleep every night for weeks after that. He had often pretended to be sick to avoid going to school, and when he had to attend, he had learned to walk down the hallways on his way to his classes, with his eyes on the floor and his shoulders hunched, trying to be invisible.
That didn't stop the other boys from pushing him around and locking him in the janitor's closet for hours, though, led by the boy he was crushing on, but being invisible was the only thing he could think of that would make his life a little easier.
Had that been the moment when he truly lost his father? When he missed his chance to be close to him, to be the son he'd always wanted to be? While he was trying to hide from everyone?
Blaine forced himself to shake those thoughts away and turn his attention back to what the lawyer was saying. He was listing all of Mark's major possessions (two cars, the house in Westerville, the little cabin in Vermont), and declared all of them were now passing to Heather before moving on to the money Mark had been saving since he had started the company.
"The five point four million dollars will be split as it follows," Steve read, and then paused for a moment to clear his throat. "Fifty percent will go to my wife, Heather M. Anderson. Thirty percent will go to my son, Blaine Devon Anderson. And the rest will be split equally and donated to the LGBT House Project and the Westerville Public Library."
Blaine could only blink in surprise for a moment. Then, before Steve had time to continue, he finally found his voice.
"Wait," he muttered, and he sounded a little breathless. "What does that mean? I don't…"
Steve put the will down for a moment. "He told me when he wrote this that he knew those were two very important things for you. He said the LGBT House Project is an organization that helps teenagers who are homeless, after coming out to their families, find a place to stay, where they can continue their education. And he told me that the library was always a place very dear to you, a refuge where you spent a lot of time when you were younger."
Blaine didn't notice his eyes had filled with tears until his mother put a hand on his and he turned to her to find her face was blurry. He wiped them away quickly, trying to think of something to say, but unable to find something appropriate. He ended up nodding, indicating to Steve that he could continue with the reading.
He resumed where he'd left off, stating that Mark's share of the company would be split equally between the remaining associates, to be paid for an insurance policy, and the proceed divided equally between Blaine and his mother, but Blaine again barely listened. This time he wasn't distracted by his doubts, though.
This time he was distracted because he was simultaneously sad and touched. He couldn't believe he had judged his father so wrongly. He had told his mother he had always known Mark Anderson was a good man.
What he had failed to realize, was that he had also been a loving, proud father.
So there it is! I hope you liked it! Review and let me know!
I'd like to take this opportunity to talk to you about The Box Scene Project Annual Charity Giveaway. This year, I've donated one of my Klaine fics, Heart Without a Home, which you can get in paperback for a $25 donation. Most of the fandom's favorites are included in the list of fics you can get (and there are other things besides fics!). The donations will go to Baycat, a great organization. You can find out more about all of this in The Box Scene Project's Tumblr, theboxscene. Check it out, and help as much as you can, even if it's just by spreading the information around. And if any of you get HWAH, please send me pictures!
Have a wonderful week! Thanks for reading!