Word Count: 3,524 for this part; 11,248 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.
Just like that, with the gentleness of Kurt's voice, all his anger and frustration seems to melt away. And with a jolt, he realizes that Kurt seems to be the only person who isn't pushing him into talking, into opening up, into getting better.
A/N: So, I'm really sorry I've taken so long to update this. I've been spending a lot of time in the Supernatural fandom, and I may or may not have embarked on a multi-chapter Destiel fic. But thank you to those who are sticking with me and especially to my amazing beta, Lauren.
It's quiet this morning, as usual.
Things have been a lot quieter in the Hummel-Hudson house ever since Burt had been put in the hospital. It's usually only Kurt and Finn around, since Carole stays with Burt most nights. All of this is taking a huge toll on their family, but everyone's trying to find ways to stay strong, cope, and be there for each other.
It feels weird to think about it, but Kurt's coping because he has Blaine. He has Blaine who's in a similar situation, who's hurting like he is, and who can relate to and comfort Kurt as Kurt can do in return. It's nice, and it's keeping him sane.
Kurt rubs a finger across his eye as he sits down at the kitchen table, yawning. Finn sets down a mug of coffee in front of him, sitting down in the seat opposite
"How you'd sleep last night?" Kurt asks conversationally.
"Fine," Finn replies quietly. "You?"
"Alright," Kurt says dryly.
They both know they're lying to each other. They didn't get home until late last night and they'd stayed up for God knows how long, brains running a million miles a minute. Night is a dangerous time. Night is when they think, letting their minds run wild with the possibilities of what could happen to Burt.
"So," Finn starts. "We're heading straight from school to the hospital, right?"
Kurt nods, pressing his lips together.
He looks up, clearing his expression as he meets Finn's eyes.
"What's wrong?" Finn asks, raising his eyebrows. "You look upset."
"Oh – it's – it's nothing," Kurt assures, standing up and walking over to the sink where he rinses out his coffee mug.
"Kurt," Finn says again, warningly. "I'm serious. I mean, I know this must be stressful for you, but why are you acting like this? You know you can trust me, right?"
Kurt turns around, eyebrows creasing together. "Finn, what are you talking about?"
He shrugs nervously. "I feel like you're pushing us away, Kurt. I know it's hard, but that's why we have to be there for each other."
Kurt blinks, utterly confused. He thought he'd been handling everything well – much better than last time. "Finn, I'm fine," he assures. "I don't get – how am I pushing everyone away?"
"You don't really talk to me," Finn starts carefully. "And when I ask you what's wrong, you don't give me a straight answer. And – and what about when you leave Burt's room every day – where are you sneaking off to?"
Kurt sighs, shaking his head. "I go to get coffe."
"For hours at a time?" Finn asks, skeptical.
"Okay, fine," Kurt sighs, frustrated. "If you must know, I met someone."
"You met someone?" Finn asks, even more disbelieving. "In a hospital?"
"He was visiting his brother," Kurt explains. "He got in a car crash, and he has some pretty bad brain trauma. Blaine's been visiting him every day."
"Blaine," Finn notes, nodding his head. "And so – what about him?"
"I don't know," Kurt says, shrugging. "I guess we're just using each other to cope. We – we talk about how Dad and his brother are doing, and – and we talk about other things. I guess- I don't know. I guess we're friends."
"Just as long as he doesn't become more important than Burt," Finn says with a nod.
Kurt narrows his eyes, shaking his head. "Finn," he says seriously. "I think that you should know by now – no one's more important than my dad."
Blaine sits slumped in his chair, arms crossed over his chest. He keeps glancing at the clock, counting down the minutes until he's out of here. To be honest, he doesn't understand what the point of group is. It does absolutely nothing for him, and he'd rather be somewhere else – anywhere but here.
"Alright, everyone," Lancaster says, gathering their attention. "Now that we've all gotten a chance to talk with our smaller groups, I want you all to tell me what you told you group members – what are you most looking forward to right now? We'll go around the room, starting with Jake - go."
Blaine sighs, shifting his weight slightly. He hadn't even talked with his small group, and he has nothing to share.
"Blaine, what are you most looking forward to?" Lancaster asks in that overly gentle voice of his, and Blaine heaves another sigh.
"Death," he says.
Lancaster's smile drops. "Blaine, we're not joking around anymore."
"I'm not," Blaine says, sitting up straighter. "I'm being honest."
"The whole point of this exercise is to give a reason to keep fighting," Lancaster says. "Now, Blaine, what are most looking forward to?"
"My answer's still the same," Blaine says quietly.
"Blaine, come on," Puck whispers from next to him.
"Don't start on me, Puckerman," Blaine snaps.
Puck is quiet for only a moment, but then he drops the bombshell.
"Blaine, don't – don't you want to get better?"
Blaine feels everyone's gaze on him, the room going silent as they wait for him to answer. He pulls his eyes away from Puck's, feeling his cheeks burn. God, fuck him for bringing this up. Blaine just wanted to survive the next few weeks until he got out – which is ironic because he knows it'll be only a few months at the most before he's back in here for a third suicide attempt.
Now everything's out in the open, and Blaine feels vulnerable. He may have been trying to fight the nurses and doctors and psychiatrists, but he's always tried to give them what they want – which is him getting better, making progress. But you know, he really is sick of that. He's sick of pretending, and he doesn't want to do it anymore. It's time he's honest with everyone, not just Emma.
"No," he says at last. His voice is quiet, his sarcastic front disappearing. He takes a deep breath, and it rattles in the silence.
"No?" Puck asks, evidently confused. "Why not?"
"I just don't," Blaine says, looking down at his hands as he twists them together. "It's not going to happen anyway."
"Blaine," Puck starts softly. "Look, I – I know it's difficult. When I first came here, I just wanted out. I wanted to get my hands back on heroin, back on cocaine, back on ecstasy . I wanted to go straight back into that life. I didn't take a moment to stop and think about what it would be like to get better. To think about the life I could have outside of the drugs, the gang, the alcohol." He shakes his head, shame visible in his expression. "Not one nurse could get me to cooperate in the beginning. I was put in the padded room multiple times because I was too violent. Every night I screamed out, suffering through the withdrawals, but Blaine, it was all worth it. Because now, three weeks later, I'm making better choices, I'm trying to restart my life. And I – "
"It's not that I haven't tried," Blaine cuts in, exasperated.
"That's a lie," Puck says, quiet. "And you know it."
"I've thought about it," Blaine whispers, and a lump rises in this throat. "I've thought about trying, taking that first step, but what's the point? I'm not going to get better. I know it."
"Blaine, I thought the same thing," Puck says, thumping his hand against his chest. "At first, I – "
"Well, I'm not you, Puck," Blaine snaps shortly. "I don't have the same problem."
"Blaine – "
"No, look," Blaine says loudly, and he repositions himself in his chair, looking straight at Puck. "Yeah, we're all patients here. We're all fucked up, but not in the same ways. You're a drug addict, Puck. You made that decision yourself. You put those drugs into your body. You stole from your family to buy them. You did this to yourself. I didn't ask for what happened to me."
Blaine's breathing hard, teeth clenched and eyes wild as he stares at Puck, heart racing.
"Blaine," Puck starts, shaking his head. "You have no idea what I – "
"And you have an idea about me?" Blaine counters, raising his voice. "Do you have any idea what I went through? No, you don't." He practically spits in Puck's face. "I didn't ask to be bullied every single day of my life," Blaine starts, his voice low, guttural. "I didn't ask to be beaten within an inch of my life during my freshman year of high school. I didn't ask for my parents' lack of support. I didn't ask my brother to just up and leave me. I didn't ask to change schools and go to a place where I felt even more alone – despite the safety. I didn't ask for depression or whatever the fuck this is, Puck. But there's something wrong with me, and I have to deal with it now, and the best way I know how – to kill myself. That's the only way this pain will ever end."
"No, Blaine, that's not – "
"Really?" Blaine asks, and he's suddenly on his feet, staring down at Puck. "That's not my only option? There are other options out there? I don't have to do this? I've heard all of that a hundred times, Puck. This isn't the first time I've been here, you know. I tried to kill myself a year ago too. Nothing made a difference. Not even the medication."
"Then you should have come back," Puck says sternly. "Not all anti-depressants work the first time."
"Tell that to my parents," Blaine says with a scoff, his voice brimming with acid. "They didn't give a fuck. All they wanted was for me to be gone. Why do you think they just shipped me off to boarding school in the first place? They didn't want to deal with me anymore, Puck. They didn't care. Not even after I tried to commit suicide."
"But your mom – "
"So maybe she feels guilty," Blaine says, raising his eyebrows. "Maybe she thinks it's her fault. Maybe she doesn't care about my feelings or anyone else's but her own. God, Puck – what don't you get about this? There's nothing here for me. Nothing to keep me going – " He stops short for a second, thinking briefly of Kurt – the beautiful boy who simply waltzed into his life – but quickly shoves that from his brain. "There's no reason for me to get better."
"Yes, there is – "
"No," Blaine says sharply. "Would you stop? I don't care how many times you argue with me on this, I really don't. I don't care what you do to try to help me, because it won't work. No one can help me. No one. I'm too far gone, Puck, and it's best you just give up now."
Blaine turns with a huff, planning to the leave the room. He can't deal with this anymore. Everyone's been watching him for the past few minutes, and most seem to be in awe. But then a hand catches his elbow, and Dr. Lancaster is pulling him back. He yanks his arm back, looking at Lancaster in surprise.
"Blaine, sit down," he says simply. "Group's not over."
"It is for me," Blaine says with snort, and he turns again.
"Blaine," Lancaster says warningly. "Blaine, stop. Look, we're just trying to help you."
"And what did I just say?" Blaine asks incredulously. "No one can help me. Not you, not Puck, not anyone. It's just not going to work, okay?"
With that, he leaves the room – slamming the door behind him.
Blaine doesn't know how he ends up here, but as he flops down on the bench, he realizes he's right outside the café. He swallows a lump in his throat and tries to calm himself down. He can feel his blood rushing, his head spinning, his heart racing. He takes a deep breath, cracks his neck, and counts to ten.
It doesn't help.
He's still fuming. Day three, and he's already losing his mind – or what's left of it, that is. He's just so sick of everything. Nobody understands, nobody gets it, and he would just appreciate if they left him alone.
Of course – nobody does.
Blaine looks up as footsteps come curiously close to him. He opens his mouth to ask the person to go away (he's really not in the mood to deal with anyone), but shuts it quickly when he realizes it's Kurt.
Kurt's grin fades as soon as he sees Blaine's face, replaced with a worried frown.
"Are you okay?" he asks, sitting down. "You look upset."
Blaine chuckles dryly. "Yeah, I suppose you could say that."
"What's wrong?" Kurt asks softly.
Just like that, with the gentleness of Kurt's voice, all his anger and frustration seems to melt away. And with a jolt, he realizes that Kurt seems to be the only person who isn't pushing him into talking, into opening up, into getting better. Sure, it probably has to do with the fact that he's lying to Kurt, that Kurt has no idea that Blaine's the patient and not Cooper, but it doesn't mean Blaine appreciates it any less.
"A lot of things," Blaine replies, taking a deep breath.
"Do you feel comfortable talking about it?" Kurt asks.
Blaine hesitates, but gives in. "Like I said – it's a lot of things. Mostly, I'm just frustrated."
Blaine runs a hand through his hair. "Everyone keeps trying to tell me how it'll all be okay, but it's – it's not."
"So your brother hasn't improved, I take it," Kurt says quietly.
Blaine starts, his eyes widening briefly. He's nearly slipped up and confessed the truth. "Uh – no," he says quickly. "He hasn't. And while I'm trying to be positive, I'm just upset with everything acting like it's all okay. Like there's nothing to worry about."
Kurt nods, raising his eyebrows. "I know how that goes," he says. "It's kind of how my friends are reacting, actually. They don't really understand the severity of my situation, and they try to tell me that it'll be alright, but they don't know. It usually makes me feel worse when they comfort me, but you know – what else can I do?"
Blaine heaves another deep breath. "It's just . . . exhausting," he says. "And I'm so sick of hearing it all."
Kurt's quiet for a moment as he chews on his lip. "Well," he says, clapping his hands against his knees. "Care for more coffee?"
Blaine watches as he stands up, putting his hands in his pockets. "How many times are you going to pay for me?" he asks, a reluctant smirk playing at his lips.
"As many times as we get coffee," Kurt replies simply. "Now, come on. I don't have all day."
Blaine presses his lips together, stopping an oncoming grin. He stands up, runs a hand over his tired face, and trails after Kurt into the café. As Kurt goes to order the coffees, Blaine sits down at one of the empty tables, folding his hands together in front of him. Kurt joins him shortly with a nonfat mocha, a medium drip, and a bright smile.
As usual, they fall into easy conversation. Blaine's more careful now to keep up his string of lies about Cooper, choosing sometimes just to brush it off and change the subject. Kurt rambles on about his father, about Finn, about what's going on at school, and Blaine finds himself really listening, holding on to Kurt's every last word. It's nice to drown in someone else's life for awhile, imagining he's right alongside Kurt, for the most part – happy.
But not twenty minutes into their coffee session, someone comes barging into the café.
Kurt turns around and stands up, surprised. "Finn?" he asks. "What's going on?"
"It's Burt," Finn gasps out, and Kurt immediately pales, his face falling. "No, no – it's good," Finn says quickly. "He's awake. Kurt, he just woke up, and – and he's asking for you."
Kurt looks obviously happier, but still as if he's going to throw up. He turns frantically back at Blaine, open his mouth, though no coherent words come out.
"Go," Blaine says. "What are you waiting for?"
Kurt nods. "I'll – I'll see you tomorrow or something – "
"Kurt, come on," Finn urges, holding the café door open.
Kurt sprints from the room after Finn, yelling, "Goodbye, Blaine!" over his shoulder.
Blaine swallows hard, rubbing his face. He's happy for Kurt – as happy as he can possibly be, but there's a small part of him that's . . . upset.
And he doesn't really know why.
Blaine returns to his room slowly. He pushes open the door with weak arms and moves to his bed, collapsing on it for a good five minutes before he hears a knock at the door. Emma peers into the room, and Blaine feels his heart drop. He'd rather not deal with this right now.
"Hello, Blaine," she says brightly.
"Hi," he mutters, not meeting her eyes. He pulls himself up, sitting hunched over and twisting his hands together.
"So, I hear you snapped at Doctor Lancaster," Emma says quietly, taking a seat next Blaine on his bed.
He nods, chewing on his lip. "Well, actually – I kind of . . . exploded at him."
Blaine sighs heavily, shifting his weight. There are a lot of reasons he dislikes Lancaster. There are a lot of reasons why he dislikes a lot of people at this hospital, but what comes out of his mouth is, "Because. He doesn't understand."
"What doesn't he understand, Blaine?" Emma presses.
Blaine shakes his head, not even sure where to begin. "Everything," he says. "And – and you know what I hate the most?" He pauses. "I hate that he pretends like he does."
"What do you mean?" Emma asks, and Blaine notices that she doesn't look the least bit confused. She looks curious, determined.
"He just – he doesn't know anything," Blaine says, continuing to shake his head as his eyebrows lift. "He doesn't know what I've gone through. He doesn't know what it feels like to be taunted every single day of your life. He doesn't know what it feels like to have people threatening to kill you because of who you love. He doesn't know what it feels like to have your family desert you right when you need them most. He doesn't know what it feels like to go through every day knowing that you have nowhere and no one to go to."
Blaine heaves a deep breath, closing his eyes for a second.
"He thinks that it's so easy – everyone does. They think that a few days in here, a pill a day, and talking are going to get the job done. But it's not. There's too much damage done, and too much damage to come. I'm past the point of coping, because once I go back out there – once I put myself back in the real world, it's all just going to start over. Society looks at me in disgust. Everyone wants me dead. And I'm more than happy to oblige."
"Blaine – "
"I'm serious," he says, looking right into Emma's eyes.
"Blaine, just listen to me," Emma says calmly.
"Are you going to start pretending like you understand?" Blaine challenges, crossing his arms.
"No," Emma says, shaking her head. "I'm not going to pretend that I understand what you're going through, but Blaine, I – I understand what it feels like to be suffering from a mental illness with no desire to get better. No belief that it will."
Blaine blinks, confused. "What – "
"Blaine, I've been dealing with OCD all my life. It took me years before I was willing to get help, and even when I did it was hard to make progress. My parents think I'm insane, and that's all they see – their 'little crazy.' OCD caused a lot of trouble for me, Blaine. It came in the way of my husband's and my relationship, it came in the way of my job – it was awful. But I made it through, Blaine, and someday you will too."
Blaine shakes his head firmly. "No, I don't think – "
"Well, I think," Emma cuts in, "that you're already doing better. Look, I know you don't like Lancaster. I know you don't like listening to lectures and you struggle through group, but something about this place is helping you. Whether it's being away from your life, or someone you've met here – something is helping you."
Blaine raises an eyebrow. "I highly doubt – "
"Blaine, just look at the way you behaved when you first came here," Emma says, and now she's smiling, eyes bright. "You wouldn't open up at all. Lancaster couldn't get anything out of you, and neither could I. You completely ignored everyone, still bottling everything up. But look at what you just told me. Look at how you just ranted. Obviously, you've got a long way to go, Blaine, but this is a start, so don't give up.
"And whatever is helping you progress, don't let it go."