The happy feeling lasts for exactly one and a half days before he finds himself curled up on the bedroom floor, tears invading his eyes for no particular reason. He’d gone back to school at his parents’ insistence; apparently they’d been told that the sooner he got back into a normal routine the better. Naturally, it was dreadful in an un-disastrous sort of way.
Nothing extreme had happened—in fact it was strangely like he hadn’t been away at all—but the New Directions were too attentive, asking him too many mundane questions about French homework and dance routines he hadn’t done in months. Tina miraculously appeared outside his math class just before lunch and forced him to join their group table in the cafeteria, though Blaine tried to protest that he’d brought his own food to eat in a quiet classroom. Sam invited him to a ‘Bro Night’ the following week and Marley asked whether he wanted to see some new period drama at the cinema. No, they weren’t unpleasant by any means, and their concern was genuine, but they were trying too hard to include him; underneath their smiles and blasé laughter, they still looked scared of him.
And then there were the comments from the football team, random lettermen-clad boys shouting at him over their shoulders, occasionally shoving him into the lockers. Hey, nutcase, why you still here? Aren’t you meant to be in an asylum now? Are you a freaking emo or something? Could you not take being the school slut anymore? Stay the fuck away from us, freak! Oi, faggot, do us all a favour and finish the job next time!
He was used to this sort of thing, even if the exact slurs were new inventions, yet for some reason it made him want to hit himself, as opposed to them like it usually did. And he supposed in some ways it was an improvement; the faggot comment was unfair and bigoted, but technically he was both a slut and a nutcase.
He wasn’t exactly sure why he’d broken down when he got home, but for some reason he had calmly assured his mother that his day had been fine, escaping to his room as soon as possible, and promptly burst into tears.
His mom finds him like that half an hour later and looks terrified when Blaine blinks up at her, as if she’d momentarily thought he had finished off the job, that he was lying there dead. Blaine’s brain thinks he should feel guilty, but his gut feels strangely satisfied at the thought.
“Sweetie?” She asks, kneeling down beside him.
Blaine has no words for her so she just looks up and down his body, as if searching for invisible wounds, and then starts stroking his hair in a too-fast motion.
“Your dad’s home and he brought that movie you wanted to see, the one with the dancing—”
“—I just want to go to bed.” He interrupts, eyes tired thanks to the crying. “I’ll watch it tomorrow.” He adds when his mom’s smile droops.
“If you’re sure, sweetie? You haven’t had any dinner yet.” She sounds so bloody maternal—a regular Carol Hudson. It doesn’t suit her.
“I’m sure.” He says, getting up and crossing over to his chest of drawers, pulling out the first pair of pyjamas he sees.
He pointedly walks to his bed and pulls his hoodie off and she gets the hint, murmuring a quiet “Let me know if you need anything, sweetie” and pulling the door almost, but not quite shut behind her.
Blaine takes his time getting changed and brushing his teeth, wondering how to get out of school tomorrow, or whether it’s best to just pretend to go and then skip it. But where could he go to? He doesn’t fancy sitting alone in the Lima Bean all day.
He has just chugged back a glass of water—his throat gets dry too quickly at the moment—and is climbing into bed when his door slides open again.
“What?” He snaps, annoyed by now at his mother’s inability to leave him alone.
“Sweetie, Kurt’s on the phone—he wants to speak to you.”
Blaine’s eyes narrow as she comes towards him, phone outstretched; obviously what she just said was a lie. If Kurt had wanted to contact him, he would have text him or rung Blaine’s cell phone, he definitely wouldn’t have rung the Andersons’ home phone. Therefore his mother must have rung Kurt and forced him to speak to Blaine. Kurt who just got back to New York and probably has a million things to catch up on and who needs to give Blaine space.
“Tell him I’m busy—or sleeping.” Blaine says loud enough that Kurt can probably hear him down the line.
His mom brings the phone back to her ear and opens her mouth to speak, but then stops, presumably listening to something on the other end. “Ok,” She says, smoothing her dress down in an action that is fast becoming a nervous twitch. “Ok, nice to speak to you, Kurt.”
Blaine exhales in relief, assuming that Kurt has told his mom to leave it for once, but then she puts the phone right next to him on the bed, smiles tiredly at him and leaves again, this time closing the door properly.
Damn it. There’s no way in hell he can sit here and ignore Kurt now; he could never just end the call and cut him off. With shaking fingers, he reaches for the phone and presses it to his ear. There’s no sound except for both of their breathing for a minute—Kurt’s a comforting presence and his own an unpleasant reminder of what shouldn’t be anymore. Naturally, Kurt breaks the quiet.
“So are you going to tell me why your mom rang in a bit of a panic?” Well, at least Kurt isn’t pretending that he was the one to call.
“Hasn’t she already briefed you?” Blaine bites, sarcasm giving away the feeling of defensiveness which has materialised out of nowhere.
“Sort of, but I’d like to hear your side of the story.” There’s a rustling from the other end, like Kurt is pulling curtains shut.
“Don’t you have work or something?” Blaine is aware he sounds bitter and ridiculously petty, especially given the fact that they discussed this literally two days ago, but Blaine’s mouth doesn’t seem to be connected to his brain nowadays. And vice versa to be honest, although his brain seems to be isolated from everything so that’s not really a surprise.
“No, I’m all yours for the evening if you need me to be.” Kurt still sounds incredibly calm like he’s worked out Blaine’s battle strategy before Blaine himself has even drawn it up. It’s frustrating and comforting and disconcerting and Blaine is conflicted as per usual.
“I was crying and she freaked out.” It doesn’t begin to explain anything, but Blaine doesn’t know how to explain it.
“That’s because she cares about you—and you gave her a pretty big scare recently.”
“Sorry.” Blaine says, not apologising for his mother’s fright.
“It’s ok—well, it’s not, but I know what you meant, I think. Well, I don’t know what you mean, but yeah…” Kurt trails off and Blaine’s stomach contracts painfully. Kurt isn’t meant to stumble over his words, or ramble, or trail off; he’s meant to say things that make sense, that comfort Blaine and make the numbness go away.
Blaine doesn’t say anything else, fighting the urge to throw the phone away from him. Eventually Kurt gives in and continues.
“Was school ok?” He asks and Blaine thinks about it logically.
“Yes. I mean it was school, but it was alright.”
“Mm.” Kurt hums in acknowledgment. “Well Sam said you ate with them at lunch?”
“And wasn’t that the highlight of my day.” Blaine is seriously considering launching the phone at his mirror, destroying it and his reflection in one fell swoop. To his surprise, Kurt just laughs.
“Well his conversation isn’t exactly scintillating, is it?” He says and Blaine can hear his smile through his words; even in that form it’s beautiful.
“Not exactly; he’s not you.”
“Blaine.” Kurt sounds physically pained and Blaine would feel guilty but he’s still just the wrong side of numb.
“Sorry, I take it back.”
There’s another pause and Blaine is so over trying to decide whether it’s uncomfortable or not.
“Why were you crying earlier?” The question is direct and takes him by surprise. He has to consider it for a moment.
“I don’t know.” He says eventually and he’s being one hundred percent honest.
“Ok,” Kurt doesn’t query it; he seems to realise that Blaine is being genuine. “Ok, but next time it happens, can you send me a text? It doesn’t have to say what’s wrong, or even that you’re upset, but just text me. And try not to get annoyed at your mom—she’s trying really hard too.”
The ‘too’ catches his attention and suddenly he imagines his mother alone in her room, crying on the bedroom floor, just like he was. The image slices through him painfully and then dissipates once more.
“Ok.” It’s all he can say, and somehow it’s too much and not enough at the same time, all wrapped up with a red gift tag on top.
“Now try and get some sleep - did you see the episode of America’s Next Top Model that was on earlier? I lost count of the number of times I face-palmed. Imagine how bad it was to warrant that. In fact don’t; it’ll give you nightmares.”
Blaine smiles and then remembers that Kurt can’t see him. It’s weird how he can hide his emotions so much more easily down the phone.
“Night, Kurt.” He tries to put his feelings into the words, but it sounds flat. He wonders how anyone ever thought he was a good actor.
“Night, Blaine. I love you.” Kurt doesn’t wait for Blaine to say it back, ending the call with a decisive click. Maybe, Blaine thinks, maybe that’s a good thing. The phrase only has power when it’s acknowledged — or at least that’s what his therapist had said to him after the Sadie Hawkins incident. Apparently bullying doesn’t count if you rise above it; apparently being a victim is merely a state of mind. He’s so tired of being the victim.
He doesn’t fall asleep for hours and his brain can only focus on America’s Next Top Model for the first two minutes of tossing and turning, but he gets more sleep than the night before which is something. Each time he starts to get that disconnected feeling, the one where he feels like a balloon uselessly bobbing around his dark bedroom, he imagines Kurt speaking into his ear, his beautiful smile oozing through his words. It doesn’t make Blaine feel any better—in fact, it makes him ache inside—but it stops him feeling detached. He might be anchored to pain, but at least he is momentarily protected from the wind.