Word Count: 3,665 for this part; 7,724 overall
Warnings: character death, depression, self-harm, suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalization, hospitalization for heart issues, bullying, gay-bashing, homophobia, talk of drug and alcohol abuse, talk of involvement with gangs, talk of ocd
Summary: Confined to the walls of the UC Neuroscience Institute, Blaine Anderson has completely given up on life. But when he meets Kurt Hummel - a boy who’s remaining strong even though his own life is falling apart, Blaine begins to realize that maybe he doesn't have to give up just yet. Maybe he’s strong enough to keep fighting.
He hasn't given up on himself.
Happiness and hope and everything Emma's been talking about have given up on him.
A/N: Well, I'm making progress. And I owe a huge thanks to my betas, Stephanie and Lauren.
Also, I've received many reviews asking why I didn't make Kurt a patient as well, and what Blaine's restrictions are while staying in the hospital. I made posts on my tumblr concerning those questions, which you can find here and here.
Blaine's never felt so exhausted.
It's been a long few days, a long few months – hell, a long few years, but this is the most tired he's ever felt. His usual exhaustion, coupled with the fact that he hardly got a wink of sleep last night, has him slouching across from Emma as they sit in the main commons.
"How was your first day?" she asks, glancing at him with a smile. "Tiring, I'm guessing."
Blaine nods, resting his cheek in his hand.
"How are you feeling?" she asks.
Blaine shrugs, pushing himself up a little. "Not much different," he replies quietly.
Emma nods, looking away from him for a second. "Care to elaborate? What exactly are you feeling that's the same?" Her eyes are soft as she looks at him, kindness clearly sparkling in them, and Blaine relaxes.
He heaves a deep breath, trying to think, but it's hard. This isn't normally something he tries to think about, and it's a reflex to push it away. "Hopeless," he says at last. "Worthless. Like nothing's ever going to get better."
Emma nods, swallowing nervously. "I wouldn't expect anything different," she says, taking Blaine by surprise.
He was expecting a passive aggressive lecture, or a speech of disappointment in the very least. But agreement? It was a shock and a relief in one. And he only gets more confused as Emma continues.
"It's only your second day, Blaine. I don't expect you to suddenly be the happiest man on earth. You've been struggling for how long, Blaine?"
"Three years," he replies dully.
"Three years," Emma repeats, nodding. "That's a long time, Blaine. You aren't going to get better in a day. It's going to take time. The mind is a complex thing, Blaine. You can't heal it the way you heal a cold or the flu. It's going to take a lot of time, a lot of medication, a lot of energy, but you don't have a reason to be hopeless. I know you feel like it, and that is normal. But I don't want you to give up. Not yet, Blaine. Not ever, because you have to know that you can do this. You can get through this. I'm not here to push you into it. I'm not going to rush. I just want to tell you to take your time, stay strong, don't give up, because you will get through this, Blaine. I have faith in you."
Blaine swallows hard. His eyes sting, and he hangs his head.
He shakes his head, struggling to answer.
"Talk to me, Blaine. It's what I'm here for." Emma reaches her hand out, pressing her palm flat against the table.
"I just – I don't agree," he says, voice shaky. He lifts his head, looking at her.
Her eyebrows crease together, and she blinks rapidly. "Don't agree with what?"
"Hope," Blaine says, and the first of the tears begin to fall. "Mrs. Pillsbury, I understand what you're saying, and you may believe that I can overcome this, but I know I can't. I know deep inside me that it's not going to get better. Not for me. Other people might be lucky enough, but not me. And I've accepted that. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's true."
Emma nods, her frown becoming more prominent. "Blaine," she starts heavily, "I can't make you believe anything – I can't. You have to be the one to take that initiative. You have to be the one to decide you can make it better for yourself. Now, you might not believe that it's possible at this time, but when you do – when that moment comes, I'll be here for you. When you decide that you're ready to start getting better, I'll be here to help you."
"Thanks," Blaine says, wiping his eyes carefully, "but don't count on it."
Emma sighs, then presses her lips together.
"Well," she says. "I can see you're far from ready. But I won't give up on you, Blaine. And you shouldn't give up on yourself."
He says nothing, averting her eyes.
He hasn't given up on himself.
Happiness and hope and everything Emma's been talking about have given up on him.
Today, Blaine learns that he really hates lectures.
It's just the same old bullshit. He sits with everyone else and succumbs to those who "know better." He listens to these people who think they actually have a clue about anything ramble on and on, telling him what he should do. They act like they're so smart, so clever. They act as if they know what Blaine's going through, what he has gone through. And they act as if this is something that he can fix with a snap of a finger.
No, he's not going to give this joker anything.
So he sits slouched in his seat, arms crossed and eyes tracing the pattern of the carpet. He's already heard everything this stupid speaker is saying a million times by tons of different people – his friends, his teachers, his brother, Lancaster, Emma – everyone. He's definitely had enough.
At last, the speaker wraps up today's lecture and wishes everyone a good few hours until they're back late this evening. Blaine groans at the thought of coming back as he drags himself to the door. He feels Puck behind him as they walk down the hall.
"Are lectures always that awful?" he asks bitterly.
Puck laughs. "Oh, come on. It wasn't that bad."
"Uh – yeah it was," Blaine says, his eyes widening. "Is this really how I'm going to spend the next month here?" He scoffs, shaking his head.
"You'll get used to it," Puck assures, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"Doubt it," Blaine mutters. "God, how are you so calm? Don't you get irritated with everyone?" He looks over at Puck who looks almost confused.
"No," he replies. "I mean I did the first day, I suppose, but I have no reason to be irritated now."
Blaine stares at him dumbly for a second. He can't quite wrap his head around why someone would be okay with the way they're treated here – like stupid little kids who can't understand anything about themselves.
"Are you serious?" Blaine asks, raising his eyebrows. "Don't – don't you get sick of the way everyone acts."
Puck blinks, frowning. "What do you mean?"
"Well, like that speaker, like Lancaster – everyone thinks they're so smart. As if they know a thing about me." Blaine scoffs again, a little more disgruntled. "It's just aggravating. They're so high and mighty, treating me like I'm dirt just because I think that I, as well as everyone else would be better off if I killed myself. And all that 'It Gets Better' shit, and – and 'taking the first' step. I'm not interested in any of that. I'm only interested in being dead, and I don't understand why everyone wants to change that." He heaves a deep sigh and gives himself a shake.
"Wait – " Puck says after a second. "Blaine, what about getting better?"
Blaine laughs humorlessly. "Well, that's a big old never gonna happen, to be honest. Puck, I'm so fucked up I wouldn't even know where to start. And no matter where I did, I'd always end up right back with something in my hand – a noose, pills, a gun, a knife, I don't know. But it's never going to get better, and I've accepted that."
"Sounds to me like you're giving up," Puck says dryly, and Blaine jolts.
It's like a slap to the face. Is everyone around here stupid? And to think Blaine actually likes Puck.
"You know everyone keeps telling me that," Blaine says, obviously annoyed. "And that's what I'm talking about. You might think you know me, Puckerman, but you don't. I've been through a lot, and I've done this before. I've been in this exact same hospital – when I tried to commit suicide the first time, and you know what? They told me the exact same things back then. Look where I am now - back in this shithole. And I guarantee you, once I'm out of here, I'll either be back in here or dead within a year."
Puck nods, swallowing, and Blaine can tell he's a little shocked.
"I'm sorry," Blaine says in a huff. "But I don't need this kind of thing from other patients. The doctors and nurses – they have control over me. But you don't. And I just – I'm sorry, Puck. I've had this conversation so many times, and I know you'll probably keep telling me to stay strong, but I'm not weak. I'm smart. I know where my life is headed, and it would be best just to end it all now. I know that might not be the case for you, but you have to understand that it is for me. You might have a shot at healing and getting better, but I don't. Believe me, I've tried – "
"Have you?" Puck cuts in.
Again, Blaine is caught off guard. "What do you mean?" Blaine asks, confused. "Of course I have."
"Nah, I don't think you have," Puck counters. "Not really. You may have taken your meds, forced yourself to keep going, but you didn't try to get better, did you? If you had, the outcome would've been different. You would've felt some intense emotions. You would've torn yourself apart while you recovered, and that didn't happen, did it?
"I've been here two weeks, Blaine. And I've seen a lot of things about myself I never wanted to, but it worked. I'm not going to be like my father; I'm getting better. And if you really tried, Blaine, you would too. You'd be a whole of hell lot less bitter, and a lot more vulnerable. A lot more broken and scarred than you already are. You're pushing everything back. And that's certainly not trying."
Blaine doesn't know what to say. And honestly, he's a little frightened of the way Puck is looking at him right now. He's standing tall, eyes blazing, and he looks almost dangerous. He takes a deep breath, and begins to walk normally again, turning his eyes from Blaine. Blaine relaxes, breathing out a sigh of relief.
"Well," Blaine says heavily. "Maybe you have a point. But still – you don't know me, Puck. And you never will. So, I'll make it clear. You don't judge me, I don't judge you. We have a deal?"
Puck presses his lips together, but finally he opens his mouth, and is he – is he smirking?
"I would say deal," he starts, "but I'm not judging you, Blaine. I'm really not. I'm just telling you the truth."
Blaine leans over the sink, splashing water onto his face. He breathes deep as he presses his palms against the counter and hangs his head. He closes his eyes, trying to clear the dizziness.
It's only been a day, but being here is much harder than he thought it would be. With everyone breathing down his neck and watching him carefully – he feels like he's going to collapse under the pressure. If he could just breathe for a moment, it would be – well, not easy. Nothing's ever been easy. But it would certainly be less overwhelming.
Blaine sighs, lowering himself down and sitting on the toilet seat. He feels like he's suffocating, the room spinning out of control. A lump forms in his throat, his eyes burning. He swallows hard, blinking fast. But the sobs come anyway, racking his body, and he wraps his arms around his torso, desperately trying to hold himself together.
It's been awhile since Blaine has cried like this. Mostly, he just feels numb. But sometimes the sadness that grips him just becomes too much. It breaks through that empty feeling, and he just can't control himself. He feels the tears fall down his face, the sobs shaking him so badly and so fiercely, it feels like he won't ever be able to get air again. And he just has to wait it out. Let everything escape until he's feeling empty again. Not normal, just plain empty.
He hiccups, raising his head. Puck's knocking at the door.
"Blaine, you doing alright?" he asks.
"I'm fine," Blaine says, cursing his shaky voice. He sniffles, grabbing a wad of toilet paper and quickly blowing his nose.
"It doesn't sound like it."
"It's allergy season," Blaine shoots back, tossing the toilet paper in the trash. He glances in the mirror, wiping his red, puffy eyes.
Blaine barges through the doorway, and Puck sighs, watching him go.
"Blaine," he starts. "I – if you need someone to talk to – "
"I'm fine," Blaine repeats sternly. He grabs the sweatshirt from his bed, pulling it over himself. "I'll see you later," he says, hurrying out the doorway before Puck can say another word.
Walking back and forth in a steady rhythm, arms crossed over his chest, eyes glued to his ratty sneakers. He reaches up, runs a tired hand over his face, and sighs. Blaine comes to a halt and looks around at his surroundings before sitting down. He's right outside the hospital café, and with a jolt, he realizes this is where he met Kurt yesterday.
And three minutes later – it's where he meets Kurt again.
He looks up, surprised – he's not generally addressed in a happy tone. "Kurt," he greets with a nod.
Immediately, Kurt's smile falls, eyes grazing over Blaine's face. "I take it your brother's not doing so well."
Blaine blinks, confused for a fraction of a second before he remembers. "Right – yeah. No, he isn't. He's – he's been unconscious for nearly four days, now."
Kurt frowns, gingerly taking the seat next to him. "I'm sorry," he says quietly.
Blaine shakes his head, waving a hand in dismissal. "Don't be. Really."
"But your brother - " Kurt presses, before Blaine cuts him off.
"What about your dad? How is he doing?" Blaine shifts his weight a little, turning to face Kurt better.
Kurt hesitates, looking down. He twists his fingers together as he say, "He's still unconscious as well. It's the same type of thing that happened last time, and who – who knows? Last time, it took him a week. Now, it might take him a month. We don't – we don't know. We're just hoping for the best, you know?"
Blaine sighs, then bites his lip for a second. "I – I wish there was something I could do."
"You're letting me to talk to you," Kurt points out with a shrug. "I suppose that's a way to help me cope. So – thank you for that. Again."
"What's he like?" he asks softly after a minute.
Kurt looks taken aback. "My – my dad?" he asks.
"Yeah," Blaine says.
Kurt shakes his head slightly, a smile crawling across his lips as he looks down. "My dad is incredible," he says. "He's – he's always been so supportive of me, even if it's in his own special way," he says with a laugh, and then he pauses. "Umm . . . " he heaves a deep breath. "Hoping it won't scare you away, but for future reference – I'm gay. If you couldn't tell."
Blaine nods, licking his lips. And ignoring the images that flash through his mind, he forces out, "Hoping it won't scare you away, but so am I."
Kurt tries to hide the smile that grows wider, but fails, nodding again. "Anyway – my dad. He um – he's always done what he can to stick up for me and my right to love who I want. We've hit rough patches. My mom, she – she died when I was eight, and it – it took us awhile to get back on our feet, but we did. And eventually he got remarried, and that – that was really hard for me. My step-brother bonded with him so easily, and I – I got jealous. That was really a hard thing to get through. I was so . . . so lacking in self-confidence. I just felt like my dad was being stolen away from me, but my dad always made sure to tell me that wasn't the case. And once he and Carole got married, things were much easier. And we've – we've been a family ever since."
Blaine really isn't sure what to say.
But it's not because he can't handle being social – it's – it's Kurt's story. His mother's dead, and now his father could be dying. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It sounds like Kurt's life has just been shitty happening after shitty happening, and yet there he sits with a smile on his face.
Blaine can't even fathom that.
Blaine doesn't understand how he can sit there and think about the positive things and not let everything get to him. Blaine doesn't understand how Kurt can walk around with that optimistic attitude. How he can just push through everything and make it out with his head held high and not a frown or a tear in sight.
Blaine could never do that – just look at him.
He has it pretty easy compared to Kurt.
Granted, his parents aren't really parents, but at least he's in a safe school. He has his brother, he has the Warblers, he has good grades, he had a chance at success – until he threw all of it away.
Right now, Blaine just doesn't even feel like he deserves to be upset. He feels like he should be happy, that he should be willing to live. He shouldn't feel like this, he shouldn't want to die, he shouldn't want to throw away the life that he has, because goddamnit, just look at Kurt. This kid's life is falling apart, but he's still holding on. He's holding on for his father, for his family, for himself, and that – that just amazes Blaine.
He shakes his head, looking up at Kurt. "I'm sorry – what?"
"Are you okay?" Kurt asks. "You look upset. I'm sorry if anything I said – if it brought back memories or – "
"Oh – no!" Blaine says quickly. "No, no – I'm fine. It's just - you're just so positive. I don't – I don't get it."
Kurt shrugs. "Well, it's better than thinking about the worst-case scenario. And I mean – just look at you. It doesn't seem like your brother's in a much better state, but you don't seem like you're expecting the worst."
Blaine bites his lip, looking away from Kurt. "Right," he says quietly. "Yeah, I guess – I guess you're right."
"So what about your brother?" Kurt asks. "What's he like."
Blaine hesitates. He hasn't seen Cooper in quite awhile, and since his first suicide attempt, things have been difficult between them. It's not Cooper's fault though – it's Blaine's. Cooper's been trying to help, trying to be there for him, but Blaine's never let him help. Blaine ignores Cooper, just like he ignores everyone else who tries to support him.
Blaine shifts his weight, taking a deep breath. "Well, like your dad, he's been very supportive of me. He's always had my back – through everything, but I haven't seen him much in the past few years." And that's probably why I'm so much more fucked up than I could be. "He – he left home when I was eleven – went off to college. I didn't come out until I was fifteen, and it was so much harder without him there. He was the first person I came out to, but months later when I told my parents, when the kids at school found out officially, he wasn't there. And it was – yeah, it was difficult. But he's always been there when he could, and I don't tell him enough, but I appreciate it."
"This must be so hard on you," Kurt whispers, shaking his head.
Blaine shrugs. "It is. But I know Cooper. I know he'll get better and pull through this."
"See, you're optimistic too," Kurt says, smiling slightly. "Probably the best we can do in our situations."
Blaine swallows hard, nodding. "Yeah," he mutters quietly. Oh, if Kurt only knew. Blaine presses his lips together, ignoring the sinking feeling in his chest.
"Um, you – you didn't tell me much about your brother," he says, wishing to change the subject.
Kurt smirks, folding his hand together. "Finn . . . he's something else. He's the quarterback of the football team – kind of opposite of me, really. But he's a good guy. He's always stuck up for me, even in the smallest ways he could, and I really appreciate that. We – we bicker a lot, but it's actually been pretty easy to slip into the role of brothers."
"Well, that's – good," Blaine says awkwardly, and suddenly, he just can't shake this feeling – this mix of jealousy, and self-pity, and shame. He regrets bringing up families now, because his is so shitty, and even though Kurt's family has gone through a lot, it seems – they're still a family. They still love each other and are there for each other, and Blaine – he's just never had that.
"Hey, listen," Kurt starts. "Um – I have to be getting back soon, but would – would you like to get some coffee with me? We can just sit here – talk about other things for awhile."
Blaine looks up, surprised. Nobody – nobody ever really volunteers to spend time with him. Not so easily like that. Though he does wish somebody would.
"Uh – sure," he says, almost uncertain, but then remembers – "but I – I don't have any money."
"Don't worry," Kurt assures. "I'll take care of it."
And with a smile, he stands up, leading the way into the cafeteria. Blaine follows after, watching Kurt with a twist in his heart, so completely and utterly confused.
Because for the first time in a long time, he's looking forward to tomorrow.
For the first time in a long time, Blaine feels like he has something to live for – at least for a day.