"Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine." ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Blaine had never been as uncomfortable in his life then when they were sitting in Wes' cheap motel room with an empty pizza box between them and an awkward silence hanging over them. After Blaine had come clean he had to admit that he felt a little bit better, but he hadn't explained. No one had made him talk, yet, but he trusted Wes and David to make it better because they'd helped him when he'd first come to Dalton, and they only that that would happen was if he told them what had happened; he just really didn't want to.
Sebastian cleared his throat, wiping his hands on a napkin and fixing a pointed look onto Wes. Blaine took a deep breath because he knew the conversation that he dreaded came next. The moment when they changed their mind about it being Blaine's fault, and the moment Blaine was saddled with even more of a burden to bear. Wes turned to him with a half-smile.
"I think that you know what I'm going to ask," he said, and Blaine nodded, looking down at his hands for a second before speaking.
"I was- I was just kind of lonely because Kurt was so busy with his life in New York and his work and everything that was going on, and I- I needed him…not for anything in particular, I just needed him there. Needed to know that he still wanted to be with me, and that he still loved me. He'd have to cut short our phone conversations, and…I just missed having him around, and so…I- I just poked Eli on Facebook. He's been my friend on it ever since you took me that walk-in meeting at the LGBT union in Westerville ages ago, and I don't know…I remembered having some conversations with him, and we chat randomly on Facebook sometimes, and he asked me if I wanted to come over…"
"Why did you want to go over?" pressed Wes, a serious look on his face that told Blaine there would be no skirting around topics he'd rather avoid – no matter how hard it was for him, Wes wanted the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
"Because he called me sexy, and he wanted me to come over. He wanted me…" Blaine trailed off, already feeling the guilt and shame because Blaine had just wanted to be wanted. "And we talked, and he was really attentive, and he listened, and he cared…" Blaine could see all three of them stiffening from just under his eyelashes. "Then we started making out, and I…I was enjoying it until…" he broke off, looking around the room. "Until he wanted to go further, and I didn't and he- he- he wouldn't stop…" He squeezed his eyes shut completely as he began to cry at the memory.
The memory was emblazoned onto the back of his eyelids like a brand of shame; his failure, his mistake. It marked him out as someone that was dirty and unclean and wrong. He wanted so badly to forget about it, but it was there, haunting him along with Kurt's shattered expression because Blaine had done that. Blaine had done it all!
He heard Wes stand up and move to his side. He sat down next to Blaine on the bed, wrapped an arm around him and pulled him against his chest. Blaine found himself slowly lose his self-control as he sobbed some more into Wes' arms because he wanted to change it so badly, but he couldn't, and he couldn't make things right or different, and he always screwed up, and now Kurt was hurting, and it was all his fault!
"Blaine, this isn't your fault," said Sebastian in a tone of voice that was very calm, very controlled, but very, very, steely. It didn't leave room for self-pity, or doubts, or anything else. It cut straight through like a knife, swiping the guilt to one side and the rest to the other. "You didn't want to have sex with him; that makes it rape."
"Yeah," agreed David. "you might have kissed him, but we all know that there is a huge line between kissing and sex, and he crossed that not you. He wouldn't stop – that's what you said – so it's not your fault. He should have stopped."
Blaine stopped crying because he was angry at them for trying to make excuses, and he was angry at them for trying to take away his guilt because that just left him with all the pain that he'd caused, and that people were suffering, and it didn't change the fact that he was responsible for how Kurt was doing. It was still his fault. He'd gone looking for someone to comfort him, and he'd found that and backed out because he only wanted that with Kurt. It was his fault because he was selfish and stupid and insecure because he couldn't handle his boyfriend not picking up his calls!
He tried to glare at David, but found that he couldn't because the African-American boy was smiling at him in a very calm way. He walked over to Blaine and yanked up both his sleeves to show his pale forearms. There was a moment in which the three of them shared pleased looks, and Blaine supposed that whoever else this had happened to had taken to self-harming.
"Blaine, I know this is hard," said Wes, softly. "but you have to believe that what happened isn't your fault. You wanted attention, Blaine, and we all do. You are not a dream angel, Blaine, you are a human. You make mistakes and bad things happen to you. You've got depression, Blaine, because you're life has just gone crap, but it gets better, okay? I care a lot about you, Blaine, and you are one of the most talented people I know, but you have to believe me when I say that responsibility for what happened to you lies with Eli alone."
Blaine stared into Wes' serious eyes and tried to shake his head or deny what he'd just said, but found that he couldn't. Wes stared straight into him with a single minded belief – like's Sebastian's voice had been – that told Blaine that he was right, and a rational part of Blaine's mind was screaming that at him because, deep down, he knew that was right because he'd been trying to deal with the fact that he had been raped which meant he hadn't wanted it.
"Why did you tell Kurt that you were with someone?" asked David when Blaine did not nod yes or no to Wes. Blaine looked down at his hands.
"Because I'm unworthy; I'm broken and it is – was, I don't know – my fault. I did what was best…I didn't- I didn't lie to him…I just- I couldn't tell him because…" he trailed off, looking around with them with wide eyes that were fearful. "I couldn't bear to hear him say that it was my fault for going to him for comfort. For cheating on him by making out with him. That I got what I deserved… That he didn't want me anymore because of it."
There was a pause after he whispered one of his biggest fears to them. Wes squeezed Blaine's shoulder very tightly, trying to convey support and disagreement and love with one gesture. David pinched the bridge of his nose, looking at Blaine with sad eyes that told him he was wrong, and Sebastian… Sebastian shook his head, rolled his eyes to the ceiling and said;
"And that is why I don't get emotionally attached to people." Then he focused his eyes onto Blaine. "On a more serious note, though, you're an idiot. Kurt cares way too much about you for him to turn you away because you were raped – nor does he seem to have the lack of tact to blame you for it. Kurt wanted to stay with you when you went half-blind, not that much of a difference – this time you're just emotionally crippled."
Blaine, David and Wes all stared at Sebastian in varying states of disbelief, amusement, shock and horror. Blaine wasn't sure whether he was meant to be offended, reassured, upset, pleased or amused with what Sebastian had just said, but he was sure as hell questioning the sanity of whichever person had thought it was a good idea to get Sebastian involved in this.
"You are unbelievable!" exclaimed David, eventually, shaking his head from side to side. "You're meant to be being nice!"
"I am being nice," pointed out Sebastian. "I just told him that Kurt would definitely stay with him if he told." Wes and David rolled their eyes as one, and even Blaine had to partially mimic the action.
"You're so emotionally stunted it's unreal," said Wes, gaping at him. "How do you endure this day in day out?" David shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know – must have the patience of a saint."
"You don't come close; Thad, Nick, Jeff and Trent all rank higher than you on the list of who would become a saint first – as far as I'm aware, Hunter is also above you, but I might have to call the Pope and check." Blaine let out an incredulous snort at that because this had been one of the weirdest things he'd ever heard Sebastian say in such a casual manner; like he actually would call the Pope and check. Wes burst out laughing, David joining in, and Sebastian rolled his eyes at Blaine's smile. "Oh, you so laugh at me when I'm being serious, do you? You all have such a terrible sense of humour!"
After that Blaine found that it actually did get a little bit better; the three would kidnap him every day after school, and they'd get coffee, or go watch a movie with the others, or listen to Wes' stories of college life, or they'd turn up at his house with pizza and homework that was due for the next day that they hadn't bothered to do earlier. Sometimes David and Sebastian would run songs by him, use his voice to try out harmonies and make up stupid dance routines – well, David would, Sebastian wouldn't let himself go that far.
McKinley was still akin to unbearable because he was still plagued by memories of Kurt, and how much he'd messed up with him, but he made it through every single day which was the only thing that really mattered in the end. He still felt hollowed out and empty – he was missing Kurt, and he was missing love and security and self-belief – but there was a strengthening part of him that believed that, just maybe, it wasn't his fault.
That part was largely born from the fact that Sebastian called him at intermittent times of the day and forced him to say it down the phone. He'd say something about Blaine being stupid – "Blaine, you'd be an idiot to blame yourself when you know that it's not your fault" – and Blaine would argue back – "I went looking for comfort" – and Sebastian would just talk over him – "Comfort and sex aren't synonymous" – and, eventually, Blaine would cave – "It wasn't my fault" – and Sebastian would be very smug and make him say it five times before hanging up.
Things with the Warblers and the New Directions were quite a lot smoother as well which helped to give Blaine a little bit of hope because he still thought that life was kind of pointless, and he still felt like he was drifting without a purpose, and he still felt like he was just an empty shell, but it also showed him the capability that people had to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.
This was all proved when Hunter stole their Nationals trophy, and the New Directions had only just discovered that it was gone when Wes, David, Sebastian, Thad, Nick, Jeff and Trent came marching into choir with the trophy aloft and handed it back to the startled Finn – he hadn't realised it was missing at this point – and they all apologised for everything that had happened last year.
They'd then informed them that David, Thad and Sebastian were going to lead a revolution of the Warblers, overthrow Hunter and reinstate the council – conveniently, or not if you're the following years, with them on it – and then win Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals before marching back out of the choir room with the majority of them singing We Are the Champions at the tops of their voices.
That had been the undisputed highlight of Blaine's week – especially after their "coup", as apparently Hunter had named it, had been successful.
Then Wes had to ruin everything by turning up at his house, whilst his parents were in, and telling Blaine he thought it was time that he met Eli's other victim.
Blaine had been getting by because when he thought about Eli he just had to remember everything that Wes had said, and David, and Sebastian – he'd taken the habit of closing his eyes and reciting that it wasn't his fault when it did pop up – and he could cope with it, just about. He also had so many distractions because Finn considered the Warblers an even more serious threat than they were previously, and so was staging ridiculous amounts of rehearsal to try and increase their chances of winning.
Singing, whilst being completely and inextricably linked to Kurt, took his mind off things, and Finn attempting to a group of people a dance routine when he himself could not dance was funny sight to see so Blaine managed. He managed because he pushed it away – the thought that it had happened before – and tried to pretend that it didn't make him scared or worried or make him feel like a coward.
Blaine got out of his car and examined Dalton Academy. He had no idea why he was so scared. He could feel tight panic clogging his chest. He tried to rationalise it in his head; I've been here before, I've been here after it happened, this is the only place I feel good, but he was completely unable to. He saw Wes walking towards him, waving, and he tried to give him a smile and wave, but he couldn't.
Wes embraced him tightly when he suddenly loomed up in front of him. Blaine hugged him back, feeling his heart thump – very fast because he was nervous too – and heard him sniffing. When Wes let go of him, Blaine felt something in him ache at the loss of reassurance. Wes immediately put an arm around to immediately reaffirm his faith that he was going to look after Blaine and fill the hollow within him.
They walked straight past the main building of Dalton to avoid any awkward encounters, which helped keep his mind fixed firmly on what had happened, and to not postpone it. Blaine knew that if he encountered anyone he vaguely knew he would automatically start a conversation so he didn't have to find out who he was and what he'd been through, and then Blaine would have to explain.
They walked into the boarding block, and he followed Wes up the stairs, knocking people off the list as they climbed to the second floor. He paused because the only two people he knew that lived on the second floor and were in the same year as him were David and Thad…well, and himself when he'd stayed there. He swallowed as he waited for Wes to walk to one of the doors that were opposite each other. He bit down on the inside of his lip, waiting.
"Blaine," he said, very seriously, turning around. "before we go in I need you to promise me that you won't get angry for them not reporting this and, maybe, preventing what happened to you from happening." Blaine nodded instantly because that feeling had passed because Blaine could never, ever, report it so he had no right to be angry, and it was too late anyway.
"I promise," he said, giving Wes a weak smile. Wes nodded, responding in a like manner, before turning back around.
He closed his eyes as Wes pushed open the door on the right hand side, and he looked in to see David, Thad and Sebastian sitting on the bed; Thad in the middle with David on his left and Sebastian very close to Thad on the right, and Blaine should have known that it was Thad because Wes hadn't said that David and Sebastian were the only ones that knew, but the only ones that knew about it.
Thad took in a shaky breath, expression falling into one of sad resignation because he'd have guessed when Blaine first mentioned Eli but he could have hoped, and their eyes locked. Blaine felt something falling down his hollow insides – a sick feeling of relief because there was someone that wasn't going to look at him was attempted understanding, but real understanding.
Neither of them had anything to say as Blaine sat down in a chair because he did not know what to say. Thad was not someone that Blaine was particularly close to; there was a time when Blaine had been sure that Thad had an epic-gay-crush on him until he'd found out that everyone at Dalton who was gay or some not-hetero-kind-of-sexual were out about it, and so chalked it up to hero-worship of his voice, but he still liked him because how could you not like someone that let you do whatever you wanted and thought you were the greatest gift to music since Freddie Mercury?
Sadly, though, it made sense because there had been a point in time when Thad had been much more like Nick and Jeff and a little bit more crazy and ready to let lose, but then his grades had slipped, and he'd become withdrawn, and everyone had assumed that he'd suffered that thing that happened to at least one person in a friendship group when they "got serious" because their work suffered from messing around. His confidence hadn't gotten better until he'd been voted onto Warbler council.
"I didn't know you were gay," he blurted out, eventually, because he just wanted to get this over and done with and keep the bad memories at bay. Thad shrugged and looked at Wes. Wes sighed and turned to Blaine.
"Thad had his big sexuality crisis not long after you settled in, and me and David were the ones that helped him out. I took him to the same meetings as you, but, unlike you, he made good friends – especially with Eli." Blaine shivered in advertently. "They hung out, and he really helped Thad, and Thad was looking to him for coming out advice because he wanted to reveal his epic-gay-crush to you," Blaine went a little pink at Wes' suggestive look. "and he didn't tell him it was you, and, well…" He trailed off glancing at Thad. Sebastian had shuffled a little bit closer to him.
"We didn't find out until we forced it out of him," said David, eventually. "We didn't really know what to do about it," Thad looked at his hands, fiddling with his fingers as tears filled his eyes. "We wanted him to, you know, but he couldn't and so we just helped him as much as we could."
Blaine swallowed, not sure what to say, because the tears were running down his face for no reason other than the fact that he was thinking of Eli and how Blaine had fought him and shoved and yelled, and now he could see Thad fighting him too – younger, more innocent – as he sat on the bed opposite Blaine with the tears streaming down his own face at the memories.
Blaine got to his feet, legs trembling and heart thumping so hard that it made him want to be sick, and hugged Thad, who reciprocated eagerly, because what else could either of them do but offer the other comfort? Blaine felt so fragile and delicate, but, as Thad clenched his hands into fists into Blaine's jumper and he held Thad closer to his chest by pressing his palms into Thad's back, he didn't feel like he was going to shatter into pieces anymore. He no longer felt like a Faberge Egg; decorated and beautiful and solid on the outside, but hollow and empty on the inside – breakable, like anything at any time, could crack him open a reveal the broken mess that he contained beneath it all.
"It gets better," whispered Thad, only loud of enough for Blaine – and maybe Sebastian because he was right beside them – to hear. "I promise." Blaine felt more tears fall down his face as hope filled up the emptiness within him, some warmth erupting too like his hope was kindling to restart the fire of happiness and love within him.
"Okay…" he whispered in a cracked voice because he felt like all his faux strength had been broken down into pieces to leave way for something real. Thad was here, right before him, as living, breathing, proof that he could get through this and feel better again.
He let go and made his way, on shaky legs, back to his chair. He saw Sebastian, who had turned away from their crying, look back at Thad through narrowed eyes, David rub Thad's back, and Wes pushed his chair over settle his arm around Blaine's shoulders.
"And Blaine…" said Thad in a whisper. "they're right…It's not your fault…even if you went there looking for emotional and physical comfort because Kurt was so far away, you didn't want s-sex so it's…rape." Blaine nodded because he'd been hearing that over and over again. "I blamed myself, and I cut myself and tried to kill myself until Wes managed to force it into me that, because all I wanted to do was talk, it's not my fault." Blaine nodded, sniffing.
"It's- it's not my fault…Sebastian's had me reciting it over the phone to him." Thad snorted, looking down at his knotted hands.
"I know…he makes me say it every night before bed." Sebastian shrugged as Blaine's eyes swivelled to him.
"I don't want him doing anything stupid again." Blaine couldn't argue with that, and so he looked back at Thad who seemed to be steeling himself to say something. However, he did not make a move to speak, so Blaine turned back to Sebastian curiously.
"How do you know about this?" Sebastian rolled his eyes.
"I have the most effective gaydar that has ever, or will ever, exist. I could smell the gay in Thad a mile off, and he was checking me out – however subconsciously – so I flirted and shit, and then…" Sebastian trailed off, looking at Thad with a touch of hesitancy. Thad's mouth flickered, and Sebastian turned back to Blaine before continuing. "Then I got a bit frustrated and, to all intents and purposes, forced myself on him…The worst mistake I've made – and that includes all the shit that happened with you and Karofsky – in my life. I got an emotional break down and a total confession. I had no idea what to do so I pretended it hadn't happened, and he moved out-" Blaine frowned and then realised they must be roommates. "-and we stopped talking because like hell is that one giant elephant. Then, when I decided to be nice, I figured there wasn't a better way to do it than help him."
Blaine wasn't entirely sure why, but Sebastian's story made him smile. Thad had rolled his eyes several times throughout that story with a tiny smile on his face – like it amused and exasperated him a little bit – and also there was a strong undercurrent of fondness in Sebastian's voice. He could tell that Sebastian really cared about what had happened to both of them, but hid it all beneath his snarky humour. However, they all knew it. Everyone in the room was in the know, and that meant no one had to talk about it.
Then Thad opened his mouth, his eyes locking with Blaine, and Blaine knew that whatever was on his mind was about to be voiced to him.
"Blaine, also, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, or to think that I'm belittling your experience, but…" he broke off, taking a deep breath. "You did it with Kurt, didn't you?" Blaine swallowed, frowning because he did not know where this was going, but nodded.
"Yeah…?" Thad took a deep breath, and Blaine watched Sebastian shuffl even closer to Thad so that he was right in his personal space.
"When it happened to me I was only just about okay with being gay, I knew nothing about sex and I was with a friend…Now I can't think about anything like that without thinking of fear and horror and pain and suicide. That's why I can't deal with anything like that, but…you've got good memories too…I don't really know whether that'll help, but it might." Blaine stopped and stared at him, thinking.
He could still remembered the roughness of Eli's lips, the forcefulness of his hands and the way he'd held him down when he'd changed his mind. The way he'd been left lying there at the end, feeling cold and shaken and broken. They way he'd run away with no idea what to do. The guilt.
But then he remembered the soft press of Kurt's lips against his, the tender caress of his fingers against his sink and the way they'd only had to look in each other's eyes to know that this was exactly what they wanted. The way he'd been curled into Kurt's embrace at the end, feeling warm and loved and full. The way he'd never wanted to move. The happiness.
He smiled at his friend, tearfully, because Thad was right. It didn't really change anything that had happened, but at the same time it filled him up inside. For so long he'd been wrapped in everything that had happened; how it had been his fault and he'd become broken and how he wasn't good enough for Kurt, and he'd forgotten that Kurt was the only thing that could make him whole nowadays. They may be able to fill him up inside, but only Kurt could paper over all the cracks and make him forget that they were even there.
"Yeah…" he breathed, nodding a little bit. Wes glanced at Blaine, and Blaine gave him a genuine smile in return, silently thanking him for making him do this and for all his help and support. "You should really go back to college." Wes nodded, ruffling up his hair.
"True…Man, I've missed being at Dalton, though. However, I'm not sure I'm needed anymore. I reckon you boys can handle it from here…"
"The last time I checked we were all men in the room."
"You, Sebastian, cannot be a man until you learn a-"
"Sense of propriety, yes, yes, I heard you the first three billion times, don't make me come over and fix you." Wes arched an eyebrow, unimpressed by his threat.
"And how would you do that?" he said, folding his arms and leaning backwards, a cocky smirk that came from being the eldest firmly in place.
"The way you fix any electrical device; swearing at it, hitting it and turning it off and pulling out the plug. The first two things I'm quite capable of doing myself, and I think a gun would do the rest of the job quite well, don't you?" There was a moment in which Wes just acknowledged the threat with a thoughtful expression, nodding slowly, before they all burst out laughing.
Blaine knew that it wasn't funny – then again, when was Sebastian? – but it was good enough for them. It was good enough for two boys that were plagued at night by visions of a boy that had forced himself upon them, the one guy that they trusted to help them, the one boy that got stuck with it all because he made friends with him and the boy that had stumbled into it all by accident.
The run up to Sectionals was unforgiving as Finn had them working hard, and the other New Directions alumni turned up – minus Kurt and Rachel – which simply served as an aching reminder to all that he had lost. It was hard just looking at them all reunited and happy, but it was almost impossible not to scream out that they were two people short. That Kurt was missing and he was gone and it was Blaine's fault – though he would hide those thoughts from Thad and Sebastian because they'd both kill him.
He was quite surprised that David, Thad and Sebastian kept visiting him every day until the week of Sectionals because they had a lot of work to do with the Warblers, but Thad and David would just shrug and say that this was more important and Sebastian would glare at him for whatever reason was appropriate – Sebastian glared at Blaine a lot – and tell him to eat his food; Sebastian was a like very weird mother to Blaine and Thad, and it was somewhere between brain boggling, highly disturbing and hilarious.
Still, it meant that he actually felt quite healthy when Sectionals rolled around, and all the Warblers wished them luck before they went on – well, not Hunter, but he had a feeling that Hunter knew that he was the reason Wes had come down and ended his very short reign over the Warblers – and Blaine watched their performance from offstage with his a smile because they had so much life and energy and he could feel it filling him up and making him feel good again.
He knew they would be a tough act to beat, but they had Gangnam Style up their sleeve, and Blaine had been one hundred per cent sure he was going to pull it off until he saw Kurt in the crowd. Kurt wasn't exactly looking at him, he was just looking at the New Directions in general, but Blaine felt something drop in him. Could he perform in front of Kurt again? Could he go through it all again, but he didn't have a choice because the music was starting, and he wasn't going to let them down – he just needed to find the Warblers afterwards and work out what the hell he was going to do.