Or, in which I actually finish a fic...
Title: You’re Young Until You’re Not (1/7)
Characters: Blaine, Kurt, Rachel
Rating: PG 15+ (occasional language)
Word count: 2,353
Warnings: Character death
Disclaimer: I do not own any of this. Except a few OCs. And even they aren't original...
Summary: In which Blaine loses somebody close to him and must face the grim reality of death.
A/N: Firstly, the title comes from a line in Regina Spektor’s song ‘On the Radio’, which is flawless. And secondly, this was originally written as a one-shot. And then a two-shot. And then it ended up way too long. So the chapter endings are sometimes really awkward. Sorry about that.
It had been an average Tuesday. Nothing extraordinary was supposed to happen. And nothing tragic. It was supposed to be just another, slightly boring day.
Sure, Cooper was coming to visit. He'd been visiting a lot recently. But that was it. Blaine had gotten so used to him showing up that it was just an ordinary event.
But he didn't show up when he normally did. He didn't show up to pick Blaine up from school, to ridicule his dress sense, or the copious amounts of hair product he used.
He was just running late. That was it. Traffic was bad. Blaine was sure as soon as he got home that he'd find Cooper sat in the driveway. Waiting patiently.
'Traffic in Ohio is hell,' he would say. But when he wasn't there, Blaine had a small panic attack. But then he thought that, seeing as it was Cooper, he'd probably gotten an audition and had stayed to practice, to prepare.
So he pulled out his cell phone and dialled the now familiar number. It rang. It rang. It went to voicemail.
A feeling of concern, of worry began to creep up. But he couldn't dwell on it. He had that essay to write on Jane Austen. The joy.
He went inside. He sat down and began to work. He even managed to push the worrying feeling aside. Until he looked down at his watch.
It was six o'clock. Cooper, whilst not the most punctual of people, was never this late.
And then came the knock on the door.
Blaine practically ran. He pulled the door open, 'Cooper?'
It wasn't Cooper. Two police officers were standing in the doorway. Blaine felt like his heart would drop. But he didn't let it. He wouldn't let it.
'Good evening,' one of the officers said. She was the smaller of the two, and had cropped brown hair.
'Yeah, hi,' Blaine replied, unsure of how he should address them. He'd never had to speak to police before.
'Blaine Anderson?' the other, slightly burlier, yet still feminine officer asked. How very Cagney and Lacey, Blaine thought. He suppressed a nervous laugh.
'Yes,' he responded.
'Are your parents home?'
'No. They're away on a business trip.’
That was a half truth, anyway. Sure, they were away; they had been for two months. They were of the opinion he was old enough to look after himself. They weren't on business, but he'd taken to using that excuse ever since they'd started taking off and leaving him at the age of fifteen.
'Can we come in?' Cagney or Lacey asked him. Blaine nodded weakly. This was not good.
So they came in. And they sat down at the dining room table. And then they exchanged a glance. Blaine did not sit down with them. He didn't want to hear what they had to say. He knew it could only be bad.
'Blaine,' one of them said in a soft voice, he wasn't sure which one. He had his back to them. Cooking. For Cooper.
'Yeah...?' he asked meekly. The police women exchanged another glance.
'Blaine, your brother is Cooper Anderson, yes?'
'Yeah,' he replied.
'We regret to inform you that your brother was killed in a traffic accident not far from Columbus this afternoon.
Blaine could feel his whole world crash down around him. His legs wanted to give way. His heart wanted to give out. Both of these things didn't happen.
He could hear the women talking to him, and he listened without hearing. His mind was full of Cooper. Of the news he had just heard. Of everything.
'Cooper Anderson,' Blaine mumbled without realizing. 'You have to have the wrong guy. Cooper Anderson's a common name. It has to be.’
And then his legs gave way. He slumped to the floor. He didn't know how to feel. He felt nothing. But he felt everything. All his feelings. All converging at once. He wanted to scream, to cry, to laugh, to yell, to hit something. But his body would not let him do anything. He was blank. Emotionless. Empty.
And then his phone was in his hand. He couldn't remember how it got there. And without thinking, he dialled a number. He placed the phone his ear. One ring. Two. Three. Four. Nothing. Nothing.
'Hi,' it was Cooper's voice. His heart skipped a beat. And then it fell again. 'You've reached Cooper Anderson...’
He hung up. He placed the phone back in his pocket. The policewomen were looking at him. Pitying him. He felt their eyes on him. But he did not stand up. He could not. He could not fathom doing anything.
'Is there somebody we can call?' the softer voiced woman asked. Blaine shook his head.
'Your parents, maybe?' the other woman added. Again, Blaine shook his head. He went to speak, but his mouth was dry. He could not talk.
And then his phone was in his pocket again. He dialled. One ring.
It was Brittany. Why had he called Brittany? He went to hang up. But he could not bring himself to do it.
'Mr. Stalker? Is that you?'
Blaine hung up. The two officers had yet to leave. They were worried. But then they had to leave. They were radioed. And this left Blaine all alone again. All alone. Alone with his thoughts, the images of Cooper his mind had forced him to conjure up.
Then came the tears. He cried for what seemed like forever. He cried until he could cry no more. And then he cried some more.
It was not possible. It could not be possible. He wouldn't let it be possible. Cooper was too young.
Another knock on the door. Blaine could not bring himself to answer. He could not stand. His legs protested.
Santana Lopez. Just what he needed.
He did not get up. He listened to Santana bashing on the door, but he had not the strength to move.
'Let me in!' she shouted. Blaine gulped. Or at least attempted to. His mouth was still too dry.
'It's open,' he found himself saying. And the door swung open. And Santana found him. She found him still slumped on the kitchen floor.
Her demeanour changed. She was no longer angry. But she was not worried either. Santana Lopez was not the kind of girl to worry in these situations.
'What's up with you?' she asked forthright. Santana Lopez did not sugar coat. And she did not get sentimental.
Blaine went to speak but found he could not. For one so good with words, for one with such a large vocabulary, he was unable to find the words to say what had happened. Saying it would make it real. Saying it would drive it home. Saying it was not an option for Blaine Anderson.
Santana Lopez did not push. She got down onto the floor next to him. She did not put her arm around him; she did not lean into him. She showed no affection. She sat next to him and folded her arms.
They sat in the same spot for hours. The tragedy had begun to sink in. The tragedy was becoming real to Blaine. He found himself thinking practically for the first time. He had been told at seven. It was now one in the morning. Santana had her arms crosses, her lips pursed, her back pressed up against a cupboard.
'Life can be a fickle bitch, can't she?' it was the first sustained sentence he had spoken since he had found out.
'Life is always a fickle bitch,' Santana corrected him. They fell back into silence. Blaine Anderson allowed his thoughts to coalesce, to develop, and to allow himself to comprehend.
Blaine Anderson began to cry. He had thought he had done all the crying that was humanly possible. But humanity was full of surprises and he found himself bawling again.
Santana Lopez sat with her arms crossed, staring ahead. For the first time she felt awkward. This was a new sensation. Santana Lopez did not allow things to get awkward.
'Did you... Did you want to tell me what's going on?' she asked. Blaine nodded. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of the cardigan Cooper had bought him as a belated birthday gift.
'My brother...’ Blaine found he was unable to go on. His voice box would allow no more sound. Santana did not press. It was not her place. She knew that. She could tell. But she couldn't leave. She found herself unable to leave. Her body would not let her.
'He's dead,' Blaine said bluntly. Blaine Anderson was not blunt by nature. He was surprised. So was Santana. She was also confused.
'Who? Cooper?' she didn't know what else to do. She did not move. She continued to sit awkwardly on the Anderson's kitchen floor. She wanted to escape. But she did not. She felt it was the reason she had come round. Not to attack him for prank calling Brittany, like she had originally thought.
Blaine nodded sadly; he looked around, and finally stood up. His legs had seized up. He had been sat for too long. He knew he had to get up, to carry on.
'That... that sucks dude,' was all Santana could say. She and Blaine had never been close. She didn't know what to say, what would be helpful, what would be insincere.
'Majorly,’ he said, his voice gruff from all the crying he had done. He took a few steps and did not go on. He could not. Blaine slumped into a chair vacated by Cagney or Lacey many hours previous.
Santana stood up and joined him. 'Have you called anyone? Have you told anyone?'
Santana Lopez felt herself close to tears. She did not cry unless she felt it necessary. She had trained herself to suppress tears.
But here she was. She did not know whether to feel touched, to feel angered, to feel honoured, to feel upset.
'Maybe you should call Kurt?' she suggested. Kurt Hummel was better with emotions. He would be able to say what needed to be said.
'Maybe I should,' Blaine replied blankly. He was looking at a family portrait hanging on the wall. Happier times. When they were all together. Before his father got the promotion. He was nine. Cooper was fourteen.
'Call Kurt,' he mumbled to himself. He pulled his phone out of his pocket again, but could not use it. He found himself suddenly shaking. Santana pulled the device from his hands as smoothly as she could.
She extracted required information. Unlocking and going into his contacts. That confused her even more.
'What is this?' she asked, scrolling through the names. 'Never Loses a Bet', 'The Woman', 'Uncaring Douche'. Santana rolled her eyes.
'I know what I'm talking about,’ he replied, not lifting his eyes from the family portrait.
'I'm not Uncaring Douche, am I?'
'That's my dad.’
Santana Lopez felt the level of awkwardness raise at least another ten notches.
'What's Kurt?' she asked, desperate for a change of subject.
'My Angel of Music,' he informed her. Santana scoffed. The level of adorableness was too much. It was almost too sweet to be real.
'You guys are so cute. It makes me want to vomit,' she said, before locating the name. She dialled.
Blaine could only hear Santana's side of the conversation, with Kurt having such a soft, delicate voice. Until Santana told him of Cooper. A squawking, panicked noise was all he could hear.
'Just calm your ass down and get over here,' Santana Lopez was nothing if not blunt.
The conversation was short. It was over in less than five minutes and culminated with Santana shouting at Kurt to hurry.
It was barely a whisper. It had slipped out without realization. Santana picked up on it. And she did something entirely out of her character. She offered a hug. A hug would not fix anything. A hug would not bring Cooper back. A hug would not rid Blaine of all his grief and anguish. But Santana knew that, sometimes, just sometimes, physical contact can make everything vanish. At least for one tiny moment.
But he declined. And Santana did not object. They remained in silence. Blaine staring off into the distance. Santana unsure of what to do next.
And then there was the sound of keys in the door. Both jumped. Kurt Hummel walked in. He had brought Rachel. And Finn.
As soon as he saw Blaine a little bit of him died inside. Kurt could see how broken he was. Santana stood.
Rachel and Finn stood back. In the darkness. Not intruding. Santana joined them.
'He's gone, Kurt,' Blaine said, his voice hoarse from crying.
'I know, I know,' Kurt whispered in response, wrapping his arms around the younger boy. Blaine allowed himself to be enveloped in the warmth of the hug. He screamed. Kurt felt tears form. Santana was taken aback, and jumped.
'It’s going to be alright,' Kurt whispered soothingly.
'It hurts Kurt!' Blaine cried, 'It hurts. So much. How? Explain to me. How? How am I never going to see him again? Talk to him?'
'I don't know,' Kurt replied, 'I don't know.’
'How can I begin again? How can I go on?'
'You will!' Kurt promised, 'You're strong. You'll get through this. We'll get through this.’
The normally dapper young adult pushed Kurt away. He stood up. He picked up the first thing he could find and threw it.
The vase shattered into the tiniest of pieces. The remnants lay strewn across the floor. Blaine took a few deep breaths. He had hoped this would help. He had hoped this would take the pain away. But it didn't. He threw more. The three in the darkness looked on in horror. This was not normal Blaine behaviour.
Kurt was frightened. He didn't know what to do. Kurt Hummel had never had an experience like this.
'Blaine...’ it was Rachel. She broke away from the group and walked over to Kurt. 'Blaine, look at me.’
Blaine ignored her. Anything in reach he threw. He picked up a heavily looking frying pan and smashed.
'He's gone mad,' Santana thought as she watched him. Swing, bang. Pivot, crash. There was very little left for Blaine to destroy. All that was left was the family portrait hung on the wall. Blaine's rage began to drain away. He loosened his grip on the frying pan and it feel to the floor. Blaine followed soon after, falling to his knees.
Rachel and Kurt make to help him, but the expression of pain on his face stopped them.
'Go,’ he whispered, 'Just, go.’
But they did not. The teens - his friends - would not go. They would not leave him. They could not. He needed them. Even if he didn't know it.