Title: We Can Be Heroes
Pairing/Character(s): The Human Brain, Big Time Cooper, Wall Flower (aka Woman Fierce), World’s Greatest, Cleanie Bug, (The Almighty) Treble Clef, Blackbird, and Nightbird. (Also Known As: Brittany S. Pierce, Cooper Anderson, Marley Rose, Burt Hummel, Emma Pillsbury, Finn Hudson, Kurt Hummel, and Blaine Anderson). All other characters mentioned. Unrequited Blaine/Sam and Tina/Blaine briefly mentioned, Kurt/Adam and Kurt/Blaine briefly mentioned
Warnings/Spoilers: Discussions of mental illness — clinical depression/dysthymia, bulimia/anorexia, and OCD. Refers to events occuring throughout “Boys and Girls on Film,” but doesn’t contain any spoilers for episodes after that.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Glee. I don’t own depression, either, but I’m pretty sure most days it doesn’t own me, so.
Summary: It’s not easy to be a superhero; you spend a lot of time fighting, and you’re not always sure you can win. But it’s a little bit easier when you’ve got friends.
Author’s Notes: So this is my take on how Blaine went from “Hopelessly Devoted to You” to “Shout!” — i.e., with a lot of help. It was originally going to be more wide-ranging in terms of the topics covered and the characters used, but I decided to narrow it down to one specific concept (the idea that Blaine suffers from recurring clinical depression) and go from there. So I’m afraid the story of Joe teaching Blaine yoga (not Bro-ga, that’s Sam’s thing) will have to wait for another time.
(Also, I realize that the omission of Blond Chameleon from this story may seem a little egregious, but honestly, there’s just nothing I can add to the friendship as it exists in canon. It’s basically flawless.)
1. The Human Brain
Brittany knows that she’s secretly a genius.
She knows this, because she knows she notices things that other people don’t notice. Like, she notices that Blaine has stopped smiling. And because she’s been a genius for a while — it didn’t just happen; she was born a genius — she’s noticed before that Blaine pretty much always smiles when he’s being hugged. And it’s a really good smile. Actually, it’s her favorite Blaine smile.
So on a Tuesday, after the play is over and after she’s started to get numb to the idea of Santana doing laundry with other people, she makes a point of walking up to Blaine first thing in the morning before classes and giving him a big hug.
Except he doesn’t smile — she can’t see it, but she knows how Blaine holds his body when he’s smiling and she can feel that he’s not smiling now.
Actually, he’s sniffling.
Actually, she’s pretty sure he’s about to cry.
Usually, when people cry, she hugs them. But now Blaine is crying because she’s hugging him, and so maybe she should let go. Except he’s got his arms around her really tight, and he’s strong for a tiny guy, so she doesn’t. Instead, she decides that this is an experiment. And experiments are about getting data.
So she asks him, “Do you not want me to hug you?”
"No," he says, quickly, and then pulls away, which doesn’t make any sense. "I mean, I just… You can always hug me, Brittany. If you… If you need a hug."
He wipes his eyes and tries to smile.
Brittany frowns at him. “That’s not how you usually smile when people hug you, though,” she says. “You close your eyes for that smile, and you look like Lord Tubbington when he’s napping. Like this.”
She demonstrates, closing her eyes and pressing her lips together and then stretching them into a smile.
"Do I really look like —" Blaine pats at his face for a second, and then shakes his head, and says. "Wait. Were you… Were you trying to make me smile?"
There’s something almost mad in the way he asks it, and Brittany doesn’t understand why everyone’s so mad at her lately; she stares down at her feet and holds onto the straps of her backpack with both hands, and she wonders if maybe she should just walk away because she was supposed to be climbing back up from rock bottom except lately it feels like she’s been sliding backwards again and maybe making Blaine smile is just too hard for her right now, even if she is a genius.
But then Blaine’s hands are on her arms, and when she looks at him, he’s sort of smiling. It’s fake smiling, but it’s still sort of smiling. It’s as much as he ever smiles, lately.
"I’m sorry," Blaine says, still fake smiling, and it looks weird on him, and she almost wishes he’d stop except he’s doing it for her and that would be rude so she doesn’t say anything. "I guess I…" His hands fall away from her shoulders, and he turns his face sideways to stare at the carpet.
Brittany follows his eyes, and sees a stain that kind of looks like a butterfly. It’s pretty.
"I guess I just haven’t felt much like smiling lately," Blaine finishes, and he’s not smiling anymore, and it’s almost a relief.
"Maybe you should see a doctor," Brittany suggests. "My parents took me to a doctor when I didn’t feel like talking last year. Which was weird, because I couldn’t talk to her and so we just sat there. But then I got tired of sitting so I started talking again. Maybe you could find a doctor who makes you start smiling again."
Blaine doesn’t look at her. “Maybe,” he says, quietly. “I don’t… Maybe.”
Brittany thinks, for a moment, about offering him her doctor, because her doctor always makes her smile. But then, maybe it’s too early in the experiment for that. So she leans in and kisses him on his cheek instead. His skin is almost as soft as Kurt’s was, and he’s changed his hair gel to something that smells more like raspberries, and she can feel his smile tugging at the skin beneath her lips. When she pulls back, he doesn’t quite look like Lord Tubbington napping, but she thinks maybe he’s getting closer. “I still think you should see a doctor,” she says, and Blaine’s smile falters a little bit. “But. Doctors usually take a while to figure things out, so I’ll help you out in the meantime. Okay?”
"I…" Blaine’s smile is just a little small smile now, but she thinks it might be the best one he’s given her yet. "I… Thanks, Brittany."
"You’re welcome," she says.
And then she pulls out her compass and turns and starts navigating her way to her next class.
On Wednesday, she finds Blaine between first and second period, and walks up to him, and gives him a big kiss on the cheek, and he smiles.
It’s not enough data to draw conclusions from, but it’s encouraging.
2. Big Time Cooper
"Okay, so…" Cooper runs his hand through his hair and rubs at his face; he stares at the spot on his living room wall where the landlord tried to cover up a stain, and Cooper guesses he kind of succeeded because there’s no stain, but the paint still doesn’t match right and it bugs him. He resettles his phone against his ear and listens to Blaine breathing. "So yesterday you were going to go back to Dalton, because they love you and it hurt too much to stay at McKinley; but now you’re not going back to Dalton, even though it still hurts to be at McKinley, because they love you for more than just your voice and you’re pretty sure that the Warblers just want you to sing for them like some sort of… caged bird?”
"Basically, yeah," Blaine says. "That’s about… yeah. Pretty much."
He sounds exhausted, and Cooper wishes like hell they could’ve had this conversation when he was up for Grease, when he was in Lima, in person, but unfortunately Kurt got there the night before he did and Blaine didn’t really talk to anyone after that. So Blaine and Cooper didn’t talk at all; they just sat on the couch in the living room after the play, with Cooper’s arm around Blaine’s shoulders and Blaine’s face buried in Cooper’s favorite black sweater. Cooper did try to talk to his mom the next morning; he tried to talk to her about sending Blaine back to Dr. Shandra, who’d done a lot for him after that whole Sadie Hawkins debacle, but his mom just said that breakups were hard at Blaine’s age. That Cooper’d had a hard time, too, when he was younger. But that he’d bounced back, and that Blaine would bounce back too, with time.
(Sometimes, Cooper wishes he was a little bit less melodramatic in high school. He thinks his parents might take Blaine more seriously if they hadn’t spent so much time dealing with Cooper. But it’s a little too late to fix who he was, so he’ll settle for working on who he is.)
"If I tell you that I love you,” Cooper says, as wheedlingly as he can (he’s not as good a wheedler as he was when he was nine, but he’s still pretty decent), “for your voice and your… your everything else, which you have a lot of so I’m not going to list it all, would you please just come to L.A. already? I have a spare bedroom. We’ll find you a school. And an agent.”
"Your spare bedroom is the size of a closet, all the schools in your neighborhood freak me out, and your agent is creepy," Blaine says, still sounding tired, and really, they should be having this conversation in person and not over the phone; Cooper could convince Blaine to come out to L.A. if he was just —
"I didn’t say my agent,” he protests. “You can have your own. Seriously, Blainey, I’m really —”
Blaine sighs. “I know, Coop,” he says. “I know you’re worried. And I know… Mom told me. That you talked to her, about Dr. Shandra.”
Maybe it’s for the best that they’re not talking in person, actually. Coop knows how Blaine gets when he thinks Cooper’s interfering too much. “Blainey,” he says. “I just —”
"I have an appointment," Blaine says, quietly. "Tomorrow after school. I… It was… Part of it was because they wouldn’t let me stay at McKinley otherwise, but I think I… I think I would’ve asked them to make the appointment anyway." He sniffles, and Cooper snaps right back to wishing he was in Ohio again. "I’m just… I’m really tired of feeling like this, Coop."
"Blaine," Cooper says, and tries to figure out if he’s more miserable or more relieved. It’s probably too close to call. "Just… I’m gonna come up for Thanksgiving, okay? And your Sectional thing. And Christmas. And… I don’t know, St. Patrick’s Day. Whatever. I just — But I’m gonna be there for you this time, okay? I promise. I’m gonna be there."
More sniffles, and something that sounds an awful lot like Blaine sobbing.
Cooper throws himself down on his couch and grabs a pillow and pretends. That he’s back in Lima, on the couch in his parents’ living room, that Blaine is busy ruining his favorite black sweater, that he’s there. He’s good at pretending; that’s why he’s a good actor. Because he knows how to pretend. And when pretending isn’t enough, then he just… pretends that it is. Sometimes he thinks he could use a Dr. Shandra of his own, but mostly, he gets by on his own. “I’m here, Blaine,” he says, quietly. “I’m right here.”
Sniffles and sobs, and Blaine’s voice saying, “Coop —”
Cooper holds his pillow tight and pretends. “I’m right here, Blaine.”
3. Wall Flower (AKA Woman Fierce)
"I’m not crazy," she insists, and wonders why she’s even talking to Blaine in the first place. He’s not her best friend — that’s Unique — and he’s not her boyfriend, because she’s with Jake now, even if there was a two-week period right when she joined the glee club where she spent hours doodling enormous cartoon eyes in her notes for speech class. He’s not whatever Kitty is to her, and he’s not whatever Ryder is to her, and he’s definitely not Santana (and thank God for that). She has no idea whay she’s sitting here, on the risers in what used to be their choir room, talking to Blaine.
She just is.
"I’m not crazy," she says again, even though her eyes are watering up again and okay that probably makes her look unstable or something but she’s just having a really rough week and she thought the pressure would be off after Sectionals but there’s more eyes on her now than there ever were on that stage, and she can’t stand it, being looked at all the time. "I’m not crazy. I don’t need a therapist."
Blaine doesn’t look at her. He’s sitting on the risers next to her in his Cheerios uniform, with his hands clasped loosely in front of him, and he stares at the floor. “I don’t know,” he says, quietly. “I mean, everyone needs someone to talk to.”
"I have people to talk to," she points out, because she does. She’s not always a hundred percent sure that she can trust all of them — she’s still mad at Santana for going through her things and telling everyone about the laxatives when she hadn’t even been taking them lately; that wasn’t a lie, she really hadn’t (who needs laxatives when you don’t even eat?) — but she does have people to talk to.
"But they expect things from you," Blaine says, still staring at the floor, and there’s something in his voice that makes her wonder who he’s really talking to. "Friends, family, boyfriends… They all expect — they need things. It’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of… a lot of pressure. Therapists… They don’t expect anything, not really. You can just say… whatever. Or nothing at all, if you don’t feel like talking. Apparently Brittany did that for, like, weeks last year. Just went to see her therapist and didn’t say anything.”
Marley frowns at him, because okay, Brittany’s kind of a weird person sometimes and sometimes Marley wonders if there’s something a little wrong with her because she’s definitely not like everyone else, but seriously. Brittany? “Brittany’s like the happiest person I know,” she points out. “Why would she need a therapist?”
"Because…" Blaine shrugs, helplessly. "Like I said, it’s the pressure. If everyone expected you to just sort of be happy all the time and go along with everything, to not be sad or upset or… To not fall apart, ever, then wouldn’t you —"
His voice rises a little — a little louder, a little higher — with every word, and she finally gets it. “You,” she says, softly, because she gets it.
His head drops a little lower. “Me,” he admits, quietly.
The thing is, actually, now that she gets it, she feels like maybe she almost… like she almost gets it. Because Blaine never looks like he’s under any pressure at all (except right now, actually; right now he looks like he’s slowly being crushed), but he was lead soloist for the guys just like she was lead soloist for the girls. And he’s Senior Class President, and he’s the leader of the superhero club, and now he’s a Cheerio too. He makes it look easy, but isn’t that the point? It’s not enough to be perfect. You have to make it look easy at the same time. Even if it’s not easy. Even if it’s the hardest thing in the world.
"Is it helping?" she asks, and he shrugs again.
"I don’t know," he admits. "Maybe. It’s only been a couple of weeks, so…" And he finally looks up at her, those big hazel eyes with the crazy long lashes, and there were two weeks when she first joined glee club where those eyes could have convinced her to go anywhere, and maybe they still can. "I’ll let you know," he says, softly. "If you’ll… If you’ll let me know, too?"
And the thing is, Blaine is not her boyfriend and he is not her best friend and he is not Kitty and he is not Santana. But he is (or was, anyway), the guy version of everything she still aspires to be. So.
"Okay," she says, finally. "I… I’ll let you know."
"Okay," he says, and hesitates for a second, and then leans in and kisses her on the temple, just a quick brush of dry lips against her skin.
And then he’s standing up, swinging his brown leather satchel over his shoulder, and he’s walking away, and he’s gone.
She wonders if she leaves rooms like he does, just vanishing, like a ghost. Like she was only ever half there.
She wonders if she’s ever looked like she’s slowly being crushed.
She wonders if she starts to sound as hysterical as he does when he talks about pressure, about expectations.
After school, when there’s not so many people in the cafeteria (not so many people with their eyes on her, waiting, expecting), she finds her mom and tells her to go ahead and make an appointment for her, with the doctor (the doctor whose name and specialty they don’t use yet).
Her mom bursts into tears and hugs her for five minutes solid, and she feels a little like she’s being swallowed whole, but then everything feels like that these days.
Maybe that’s how Blaine feels, too.
4. World’s Greatest
He’s not totally sure how the whole thing came up — he knows that Blaine babbles when he’s nervous, and he knows that he’s nervous about seeing Kurt, and he knows that the whole Kurt situation kind of did a number on him and he knows that even before that, Blaine’s always had something fragile about him — he knows that Blaine’s a lot more delicate than he looks, the same way Kurt’s a hell of a lot tougher than people think. But he also knows that Blaine, like Kurt, keeps the soft parts hidden. Usually.
Except here he is, today, in an uncomfortable plastic chair in an airport departure lounge, babbling on and on to Burt and probably twenty other people within earshot, about how he knows he’s had a rough time lately and things have been weird but he doesn’t think he’s depressed, he doesn’t think he needs pills, and he knows that everyone only wants what’s best for him but he just doesn’t —
And Burt’s not totally sure how they got to this place, but the thing is, he raised Kurt Hummel. It doesn’t mean he can’t still get knocked for a loop sometimes, but he always recovers fast.
"Look, kiddo," he says, and Blaine stops short, the way Kurt always stops short. "I’m not your dad —"
Blaine’s face falls abruptly. “No, no… I mean, I — I’m sorry, and I know — You’re totally right, and I know you’ve got a lot on your plate and I don’t want you to worry about me and I’m sorry if I —”
Burt lifts one finger, just one, and Blaine stops short again.
"I’m not your dad," Burt says again. "So I’m not gonna tell you what to do, because that’s not my place. But in my experience? When a doctor tells you what you need to do to be healthy, you damn well better do it. Trust me, if I could go back and start over and actually take my doctor’s advice this time, I would do it in a heartbeat."
Blaine’s quiet for a long time, but it’s not an angry quiet, more of a thinking quiet. Finally, he says, “You really think I should —”
"Yeah," Burt says. "I really think you should." He pauses for a second, and then reaches out and covers one of Blaine’s hands with his, and Blaine blinks at him with startled, tear-filled eyes. And maybe Blaine’s not quite his son, maybe he never will be now, but he’s still one of Burt’s boys anyway. Always will be. "I’m gonna worry anyway," he adds. "You know that, right?"
The little hitching breath Blaine takes right then tells him that actually, Blaine didn’t know squat.
"Do me a favor," he says. "Give me one less thing to worry about."
Blaine just nods back at him, swallowing hard. “Okay,” he says, finally. “Okay.”
"Okay," Burt says, and doesn’t let go of Blaine’s hand until it’s time to start boarding.
5. Cleanie Bug
"Miss P?" Blaine Anderson edges into her office on the first day after Christmas break, bundled up in a red cardigan and a checked shirt. He’s still not wearing a bow tie, though. She misses his bow ties.
She wonders, sometimes, if that’s how she knew things were going wrong for him. The lack of bow ties. The bursting into tears in the middle of the hallway might have made her wonder, too, but then Santana Lopez used to do that once a week and she was otherwise perfectly fine. A little prone to melodrama, but what teenager isn’t? So no, the crying didn’t worry Emma too much.
But the bow ties… That was troublesome.
"What can I do for you, Blaine?" she asks, and folds her hands, and watches him slip into one of the chairs on the other side of her desk. He’s hunched up a little bit, defensive. Moreso than he would be in the hallways, where his friends could see him. This, Emma thinks, is actually probably positive. She never lets anyone on the faculty see her with her surgical gloves on, after all. Just Will and Sue, because she trusts them. Blaine’s posture might not be as obvious a clue to his mental state as Emma’s gloves, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a clue.
"I just…" And then Blaine takes a deep shuddering breath and grabs his bag from the floor by the chair, and reaches in and pulls out a small amber pill bottle, smacking it down hard on the desk. Emma doesn’t flinch; she’s very proud of herself. But then, she’s pretty sure she’s seen this coming ever since Blaine stopped wearing bow ties. "I just want to know how I’m supposed to know if these are working or not. And I know…" He stops short at that, then, looks at her wide-eyed for half a second and then drops his head like he’s embarrassed. "I mean… I don’t know, but Artie said something… And I just… My therapist and my psychiatrist can tell me how other patients react but they can’t tell me what it’s like to…”
Emma just smiles at him, although he can’t see it. “Well,” she says, “although I do have a pamphlet for this, it sounds like maybe that’s not what you’re looking for, so…” And then she does something she never, ever does — she crosses out from behind her desk, sits in the chair next to Blaine’s, reaches out, and takes his hand. It’s a little tanner than his face, and sort of orange. He must really miss Kurt.
This time, when she smiles at Blaine, he’s looking back at her, all wide, startled eyes.
"It’s not sudden," she says. "You’re not going to wake up one morning and feel like everything’s fantastic and you’ll never be sad or scared. It’s… It’s slow. And it’s not perfect; you’ll still have your bad days and things will still be hard sometimes. But if it works — and not every medicine works for every patient, so this one might not work for you, and you might have to try something else, so you really do need to talk to your psychiatrist about this, Blaine — But if it works, then things will get… easier. You probably won’t notice at first, because the changes start small, but they do build, and they build, and after a while… After a while, you’ll realize you’re doing things you never thought you could. And you’ll know."
"But if it doesn’t work," Blaine says, his voice really small, and Emma can tell he hadn’t let himself think about it. Which is okay; she hadn’t let herself think about it, either. Not at first. "If I’m not going to notice that things are changing, then how am I supposed to notice —"
"By keeping your therapist and your psychiatrist in the loop," she says, and squeezes his hand. Today must be a good day; she doesn’t even want her hand sanitizer yet, let alone her gloves. "They’ll help you keep track of things. And you know you can always talk to me, right?"
Blaine gives her a half-smile, but it quickly collapses. “But what if… What if nothing works? What if I’m just…”
Emma looks at him for a second. “Out of curiosity, how long have you been taking those?”
Blaine bites his lip. “About… About a week?”
"So maybe it’s a little early to give up," Emma says, and Blaine stares down at his lap. She squeezes his hand again. "Even if there isn’t some sort of — chemical solution to your problems, Blaine, there’s always other options. Some people have really good results from talk therapy, from support groups, from… There’s all kinds of treatments out there. And you’re a very strong person, Blaine. You can do this."
"What if…" Blaine’s lip trembles, and he wipes at his eyes with his free hand, and he doesn’t finish.
It’s okay. Emma’s asked all these questions herself, which is how she knows that there aren’t really any good answers anyway. “And you’re not going to do this alone,” she reminds him. “You’ve got so many wonderful friends, and you’ve got your therapist, and you’ve got your psychiatrist, and you’ve got me. Okay, Blaine? You’ve got me.”
He digs his handkerchief out of his pocket one-handed (Emma wishes, absently, that he carried tissues instead — so much more sanitary), and covers his face with it.
Emma just holds his other hand, and doesn’t even think about reaching for the hand sanitizer.
6. (The Almighty) Treble Clef
"Was that good? Did I use substantial right, because usually I get words like that wrong but I’ve been trying to —”
Blaine cuts him off with a laugh and a smile that crinkles his eyes up and a shake of his head as he lowers the camera. “That was amazing,” he says, folding in the viewfinder and letting the camera dangle by his side as he looks up at Finn. It’s funny, because Blaine is always such a tiny guy, but he seems taller, lately. More… More present. More substantial. “Thanks for helping me out with this, Finn. I really… I really appreciate it.”
"No problem," Finn says, but then that doesn’t seem like enough, so he keeps going. "Hey, and it’s… It’s really awesome that you’re doing this for Sam. It’s really… You’re a really awesome guy."
And just like that, Blaine sort of shrinks up and shrinks in on himself, which seems to be something he does a lot when people compliment him, and Finn doesn’t understand it but sometimes he wishes he did, because if he understood it, maybe he could do something to fix it. “Yeah, well,” Blaine says, and turns away and starts packing the camera back into its little black bag. “I mean, because Sam kind of… So I’m just returning the favor, basically. It’s not a big deal.”
"Yeah," Finn says. "I mean, no. I mean… I mean it is. It is a big deal.” Blaine glances at him out of the corner of his eye, but doesn’t turn around. “I mean… Look, I meant it when I said you were our gel.”
"You said I had a lot of gel,” Blaine says, but Finn’s been getting used to the way Blaine gets kind of bitchy when he’s emotional (it’s a lot like Kurt and Rachel, actually, so it’s not really hard).
"Yeah, but I meant you were gel,” Finn says, and takes a careful step forward, and sets his hand on Blaine’s shoulder, because that feels kind of like something Mr. Schue would’ve done for him (or at least like something he would’ve wanted Mr. Schue to do for him), and that’s what he’s been trying to do, to be like the kind of teacher he would’ve wanted and maybe sometimes even had, for a little while. “You were our gel. And you still are. I see how you are with Marley and the new kids, and doing this thing for Sam, and trying to cheer up Tina even though she’s been really scary lately, and I just… You’re a really good leader, Blaine. And a really good friend. And you just… You make us gel. So I’m really glad you stayed with us, even with losing Sectionals and having to turn in the Warblers and everything.”
Blaine keeps his head down and takes a really long time zipping up his camera case, which is hard to do with a zipper. “Sam was the one who —”
"Everything Sam did, you helped him with," Finn says, and feels Blaine’s shoulders hitching under his hand. "Even — No, especially that whole twenty-four hours to be a hero thing, with the painting and the food drive and everything. If you weren’t — I mean, all that stuff was a lot of work. And you did it. And you’ve kept on doing it ever since, even when it looked like you might’ve been better off going back to Dalton. I mean, you wouldn’t have been, obviously, because of the steriod thing, because Coach Beiste told us like a million times that those give you, like, cancer. And boobs. Boob cancer. But you didn’t know that then. But you stayed anyway.”
Blaine finally turns and looks at Finn, then, his eyes all wide and sort of teary, but he doesn’t say anything.
So Finn says what he would’ve wanted Mr. Schue to say in a moment like this, what he thinks maybe he would’ve said, or what he should’ve said, anyway. “I’m really proud of you, dude.”
And it’s kind of funny how it took Blaine like thirty seconds to zip the bag on his camera case but it takes him like no time at all to step forward and hug Finn so hard he actually goes “Oof!” from it. But Finn doesn’t laugh, because he wouldn’t like it if his teacher laughed at him, and he wants to be the kind of teacher people like. So he doesn’t laugh, he just hugs Blaine back.
He thinks maybe Blaine says “Thank you,” from where he’s squished himself into Finn’s shirt, but he’s not sure.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The hug is really thanks enough.
He thinks the old Kurt Hummel would have been suspicious of the whole thing. That he would’ve thought maybe Blaine was making it all up in order to make Kurt feel sorry for him, or to excuse the cheating, or whatever. Or if he had believed Blaine, then he would’ve blamed himself and felt guilty and God only knows what would’ve happened after that — whether he would’ve gotten angry at Blaine for not telling him sooner or made some crazy resolution not to talk to Blaine anymore because he’s obviously a bad influence on him or — Or maybe he would’ve just been angry in general, angry at the uncaring universe that keeps threatening to pull the people he loves from him. But he’s pretty sure that, no matter what, the old Kurt Hummel would’ve been furious right now.
And maybe the new Kurt Hummel has the right to be furious, and maybe he will be eventually, but right now it’s not about Kurt Hummel at all. Right now, it’s about Blaine.
"Just…" Kurt reaches out across the space between them, where they’re sitting facing each other, cross-legged on Blaine’s bed, and takes Blaine’s hands. He wishes, briefly, that they were making out instead. It would be awful, of course, and tacky, but it would be easier. But Blaine actually wanted to talk, and Blaine isn’t always good at talking, so Kurt listened, and now here they are. "Just tell me one thing," he says.
Blaine doesn’t answer; he just nods, all shining, teary eyes.
"Are you happier now? Than you were before?"
Blaine nods again, and then, when Kurt squeezes his hands, he actually says it out loud. “I am I’m… It’s not perfect. But I’m happier, Kurt. I really am.”
"Okay," Kurt says, and breathes out, and doesn’t let go of Blaine’s hands. "Good. You deserve to be happy, Blaine."
That’s all Blaine says, which is not necessarily what Kurt wants to hear (I know would’ve been a good start), but then this isn’t about him, so he doesn’t let himself get angry about that, either. He just tugs at Blaine’s hands until Blaine comes forward, legs uncurling and scooting forward on the blankets until he’s straddling Kurt’s thighs in the least sexy way imaginable, bent forward so he can bury his face in the crook of Kurt’s neck, arms tight around Kurt’s waist. And it still hurts to say it, but today isn’t about Kurt, so he says it anyway.
"I love you."
He can’t hear Blaine’s reply, but he can feel his lips shaping the words against Kurt’s neck.
It hurts, but he doesn’t let himself get angry about it.
This isn’t about him.
The thing about being a superhero is that it’s not supposed to be easy. You get up in the morning, every day, and know you’re going to have to fight someone or something, and you don’t know whether it’s going to be an easy fight or a hard one or maybe even impossible. You just know you’re going to have to fight.
He applies to UCLA and makes plans for a campus visit. His heart’s still in New York, but Cooper’s in L.A., and maybe that’s enough for now. Anyway, it’s not like he has to go even if he does get it, which sometimes it feels like he won’t. Sometimes it feels like it’s the only school he’ll get into, which is almost worse. But even then, it doesn’t matter.
He applies to NYADA, too. Columbia. NYU. OSU for backup.
And then he tells his therapist how awful it felt to fill out his college applications and see everything on there — Student Council President, West Side Story, leader of McKinley’s first superhero club, National Show Choir championship — all those things he has that Kurt fought so hard for and didn’t get. He tells her how unfair it all seems, that he had so much and Kurt had so little. He tells her that he still doesn’t feel like he deserves any of it.
She tells him they’ll work on that, and he hates the idea, but he doesn’t argue.
He has so many things to work on.
He sneaks up on Brittany one morning and kisses her on the cheek before she can kiss him. Her smile is huge and bright, and he has to smile back at her because he can’t not.
He joins the Cheerios, and quits a week later, and tries not to flinch every time he sees Sue Sylvester in the hallways.
He packs an extra juice box for when he and Marley stay after glee club to try out different duets for Sectionals.
He takes his pill, every morning, and wonders how he’s supposed to know when it’s working.
He goes to the Hummel/Hudson house for dinner when Mr. Hummel’s in town, and when Mr. Hummel asks him if there’s anything he should worry about, he says, “Not today,” and Mr. Hummel pats him on the shoulder.
He wears a yellow bowtie to school on a day when Miss P is wearing a yellow sweater, and they smile at each other in the hallway, and her hand brushes his.
He backs Finn up during Diva Week, even when he’s sick and groggy and wants nothing more than to curl up in bed and sleep, and it doesn’t get Ryder or Jake or Joe or even Sam to join in in the end (Artie does, but then Artie spends a lot of time on Kanye’s Twitter feed, so he knows all about the male diva), but Finn looks really happy for what male involvement he gets, so he figures it was worth it.
It turns out that cold medicine and anti-depressants don’t mix well. He has some really weird dreams.
(He wonders sometimes about Tina, about what she said to him about trying to find someplace to put his love, and that that’s why he’s crushing on Sam now. Because Tina’s lonely too — she won’t admit that she misses Mike, but Blaine’s pretty sure — And it would make sense, because Blaine is gay and won’t ever want Tina back, just like Sam is straight and won’t ever like Blaine, so it’s safe in a way that real relationships just are not safe right now. But every time he tries to tell Tina, he thinks about the kind of guy other people see him as — the alpha gay, and sex on a stick, and all that stuff that Sam and Finn said — and he thinks about how he’s not that guy, not really, and he just… Because Tina knows, right? She knows he’s not that guy at all, even if sometimes they joke around like he is, and so therefore she can’t be —
(So he doesn’t say it.)
He slow dances with Kurt at what was supposed to be Mr. Schue’s wedding reception (but isn’t), and doesn’t let himself feel guilty about the guy in New York that Kurt is supposedly seeing, the guy who is probably perfectly nice and charming and wonderful and who probably would never cheat on Kurt, the guy he should feel guilty about but Kurt doesn’t seem to feel that guilty, so Blaine doesn’t let himself feel guilty either. He goes upstairs with Kurt when Kurt offers, and doesn’t feel guilty about that; he says things to Kurt that he knows he probably shouldn’t, and he doesn’t feel guilty about that, even if maybe he should, probably he should. Because things haven’t always felt right, not even with Kurt, but in that moment, everything is perfect and makes sense, and he doesn’t want to think about that too much. He wants to just… enjoy it.
So he does.
He tells his therapist that sometimes he’s still mad at Kurt for dragging him off to McKinley, where everything was Kurt’s and nothing was his. That sometimes he hates how self-centered Kurt can be, how everything was about Kurt’s problems and not his. That he’s still not entirely sure that he was wrong; that sometimes he thinks Kurt would’ve pulled away no matter what, that he was already in the process of pulling away and that Blaine’s cheating just… sped it up a little.
He tells her how awful all of those thoughts make him feel.
She says that he’s allowed to be angry.
She says they’ll work on it.
One more thing to work on.
He takes his pill every morning.
He stops spending so much time picturing his own face on the heavy bag in the weight room and lets Joe teach him yoga instead. Some days, the hardest part is laying there in corpse pose, but other times he listens to the sound of Joe playing his weird Tibetan metal bowl drum thing and sort of zones out and it actually makes him feel better.
He lays awake at night and tells himself that he didn’t betray the Warblers, that he didn’t betray Trent and Nick and Jon; Hunter betrayed them.
(He tries not to think too much about how they betrayed themselves, how the band of brothers was irrevocably broke the moment Sebastian threw that slushie — because it doesn’t matter if the slushie was meant for Kurt; Kurt was a Warbler too. Maybe he could think it, maybe he should, but he’s still not ready for that yet.)
He proofreads Sam’s college essays for him, and helps him study for his SAT and ACT retakes.
He tells himself, over and over again, that he’s not doing anything to Sam just by having a crush on him, and that they can still be friends. He’s still in love with Kurt, and they’re also still friends, and it’s okay. He’s not a bad person for wanting someone even if they don’t want him back, and anyway, that’s probably part of the attraction. Because it’s safe, because Sam doesn’t want him, because they won’t have a relationship and maybe that’s for the best right now. Until he trusts himself, that’s what’s best right now.
He accepts Tina’s apologies.
The next day, he makes Unique sit with him and Tina at lunch so they can start working on finding Tina a new boyfriend, and they judge every single guy in the cafeteria and laugh so much that people stare at them, and he doesn’t care. Actually, it feels good. It feels really good.
He promises Kurt that, even if he does get into NYADA (“Oh please, Blaine — it’s not an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when’ and you know it,” Kurt says, and doesn’t even sound jealous), he won’t move in to the loft in Bushwick.
He doesn’t tell Kurt that he’s planning on having Kurt move in with him instead — that even if they don’t get back together after all, even if they’re just friends, he’s not leaving Kurt stuck in some apartment with no walls with a creepy naked drug dealer as a roommate. Anyway, he figures that Kurt will probably wind up inviting himself, once he realizes how nice it is in Blaine’s apartment, with no one going through his stuff or using all the hot water. He doesn’t have to push. He can just… wait.
He watches Animal House with Sam and Finn and Puck and Brittany. (He ignores every single one of Puck’s questions about the wedding reception, and how Blaine and Kurt were gone for a while, and how he sure hopes they were careful, wink wink, because he’s pretty sure he knows where Kurt got the hotel room key and who left the gift basket of condoms and lube on the bedside table, but that doesn’t mean he wants to know.) When “Shout!” comes on, he and Brittany look at each other, and he just knows.
It’s been a really long time since he got to do an impromptu dance number through McKinley. It feels really, really good.
He makes Trent an honorary member of the Secret Society of Superheroes — Codename: Choir Boy, Super Power: Sunshine. Everyone in the club is really nice and nobody asks Trent any awkward questions, and Trent hugs Blaine at the end of the meeting and says he wishes his parents would let him transfer, too, but they think Dalton looks better on his college applications. Blaine wishes he could do more, but right now, one night a week is all he has.
He texts Kurt and thanks him for dragging him off to McKinley because sometimes he thinks it may have saved his life.
He doesn’t help Finn find Miss P, because it doesn’t seem fair somehow. Finn thanks him for standing up for his convictions, and it makes him feel weird in a way he can’t describe.
He tells his therapist; they agree to work on it.
He takes his pill every morning.
It’s not easy, being a superhero, and sometimes he feels like it’s actually pretty much impossible.
But he keeps fighting anyway, because that’s what you do when you’re a superhero.
You keep fighting.
Title: We Can Be Heroes
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