Title: (Def)inition (part 13/?; WiP)
Pairings: Eventual Kurt/Blaine, very mild Kurt/Quinn, past Quinn/Puck, past Blaine/other
Spoilers: General spoilers through aired episodes of season three, but this is a fairly radical AU.
Warnings: For the story as a whole: non-con, consent issues, explicit discussion of suicide, slavery, disordered eating. For this chapter: homophobia, slurs, mild violence, parental abandonment.
Betas: idoltina, penguinutopia, and asieluniversity. Thank you all so much!
Word Count: 5422
Author's note: For those of you who missed it in comments: Marco is Blaine's childhood best friend. Yes, his name used to be Mark. Yes, I sometimes fail at continuity in my own work.
Summary: He has tried to forget Marco, but Marco is still there.
* * *
There is a roaring in his head and it sounds like Marco's voice; it drowns out every other thought he has and fills his head.
He has tried to forget Marco since he was fifteen and just-marked, since his mother and father came home too early and found them curled together and couldn't ignore Blaine's sexuality any more. He has tried to box himself up into a neat, small package but there are things spilling over the edges, though the cracks.
He has tried to forget Marco, but Marco is still there.
* * *
He's going to ask Marco to the dance. He is, he is, once he gets over himself and musters the courage to actually say something. Marco's his best friend, has been for years, and there have been enough shared glances for Blaine to know that at least he won't be rejected out of hand. They hang out together practically every day after school, so it's not going to be a surprise when Blaine knocks on the Contreras' door.
It's two weeks before the Sadie Hawkins dance that Westerville High is throwing, and Blaine's not a girl, but he thinks that he can get away with asking Marco, since they're both guys. He's not quite sure how he's going to bring this up with his parents, but it's not like they've said they're that against gay people. Not that Blaine is gay, he'd just-- he'd rather go with Marco, as friends, than as a date with a girl that he-- Blaine just hasn't found the right girl, not yet.
When he finally gets over to the Contreras', history homework in hand, it's Marco's younger sister Yoseline who answers the door, not Marco like he'd expected. "Hi, Yoseline, I'm here to see--"
"You're here to ask my brother to the dance," Yoseline announces, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "But you can't, Blaine, oh my god." She's thirteen and kind of a brat, but apparently, she knows him too well.
"I--" Blaine starts, ready to deny it, but Yoseline just raises one eyebrow like she must have seen her mother do and drags him inside.
"No, Blaine. You're going to take me to the dance as a favor to your best friend, because you can't go with him and I really want to go, okay? I know that he'd go with you-- and look, you can totally dance with him at some point, I'll get the rest of the girls in homeroom to make an honor guard or something, but you can't go with him," Yoseline says, biting her lip. "He's waiting for you upstairs."
Blaine walks up the stairs to Marco's room and when he opens the door he sees Marco's apologetic face and knows that there's no way.
In the end he does go with Yoseline; she gets dressed up in a fantastic hot-pink dress and he borrows his father's tie. Marco's there, too-- he's been brought by Neesa from the drama club, and he'd told Blaine that she's pretty (Blaine hates her a little for that). He spends most of the night staring at Marco except for when Yoseline drags him out on the dance floor and makes him shake and shimmy along with the rest of her friends. It's ninety percent fun and ten percent agony, having Marco close enough to touch but never being able to.
Eventually it's too much, too many teenagers in the cafeteria dancing-- thrashing-- too much that is too loud-- and he makes his excuses to Yoseline, fleeing to the hallway outside the dance and breathing in the cooler air. He reminds himself over and over than Marco is just a friend, that Marco is his best friend, and that there doesn't need to be anything more than that. They are friends, and Blaine isn't gay (no matter how he feels during sleepovers when it's just the two of them in Marco's room and their faces end up too close and they both hold their breaths, and if either of them moved forward--).
The other boys see Blaine before he sees them. It doesn't matter to them that he and Marco are just friends, apparently, because they get up in his face and push him down the hallway, away from the lights and the staff monitoring the dance. He thinks they're seniors, but he's not sure, and for one panicked moment he bolts, running as fast as he can, the soles of his dress shoes slipping underneath him.
The only sounds he hears are his breathing and the boys behind him, but everything is covered up by the muffled thumping of the dance, two hallways over and still too loud. One of the boys catches the back of his jacket and Blaine goes down; he tries to scramble up again but the boys have circled up around him (grinning like hyenas, except hyenas are scavengers and that means he's already dead meat). They follow him down like a pack descending on prey; he waits for the first blow, the first punch or kick to his side or his face, but it doesn't come. One of them rips his jacket open-- Blaine can hear a button clattering away down the hallway. Two of him are holding his arms and there's a clicking sound and the smell of alcohol and he realizes what they're doing the minute the marker touches his shirt.
One of them keeps up a running monologue of all of the things Blaine has done wrong, hissing in his ear as his friends write on him (looked at him too long looked at all of us too long and Marco's a good kid, he's not sick like you you twisted fucking defective fag, your parents should have marked you years ago-- should know what their son does when they aren't around, should know that their son is a freak) and all Blaine can do is say please over and over again.
Blaine keeps his eyes closed until they're done, until his shirt is covered in words he doesn't want to think about and his dad's tie is ruined by the ink (the last thing they did was push up his sleeve and draw a thick black line around his wrist, like the words they'd written on his chest weren't clear enough).
They leave him there in the hallway, walking away like nothing's happened, joking about football as Blaine curls up on his side and resolutely does not cry. He's okay. He's not hurt, except for where his arms are sore where they'd held him down, and he pushes himself up and wraps his jacket as tight as he can around his chest. He doesn't think any of the words are visible but he just wants to find Yoseline and Marco and leave. Blaine sees Yoseline's friend Lily standing at the doorway of the dance and he can't quite make himself go back in there, so he asks her-- begs her-- to get Yoseline and Marco.
Marco comes outside first; he takes one look at how Blaine is holding himself and reaches out. Blaine can't help but flinch back, out of range of anyone, and Marco draws his hands back and clenches them at his side. "Let's get out of here," he says.
They stand next to one of the chaperones (who doesn't ask, who doesn't even look at them), and Yoseline exits a few minutes later, tossing her long hair and hooking one arm through Blaine's. He thinks about pulling away but she just looks at him, like she had when he'd come to ask Marco to the dance (and he is so, so glad he hadn't, now). She tilts her chin up, defiant, and leads the way out of the building.
It's just a few blocks back to Marco's house and Blaine flinches at every passing car, every crunch of leaves under their feet and kicked-out pebble. As soon as they're out of sight of the school Marco slides an arm around Blaine and he and Yoseline keep him going every time his knees waver. Blaine's arms hurt where the guys had held him down too tight against the linoleum of the hallway and his eyes are blurring with tears; he can't really see where they're going, but he knows it's somewhere safe.
When they finally reach the Contreras' front porch Blaine tries to stop and at least vaguely clean off his face, but his suit jacket is polyester and it doesn't absorb his tears at all. Mrs. Contreras opens the door before he's ready for anyone to see him and her face just drops. "Come inside and get cleaned up," she says. "I'll call your mom and tell her you're staying here tonight."
He wonders if she can see any of the words that have been written on his shirt and he almost doesn't care because she's letting him stay anyway. Marco shepherds him upstairs to his bedroom; Yoseline hugs him in the doorway and leaves for her own room.
Marco shuts the door behind her and turns back to Blaine. "I'm sorry," Blaine says. Marco had to leave the dance early because of him and he looked like he'd been having fun with Neesa-- Marco has done so much for him and Blaine is just stupid and defective, like those guys had said (and it's not the first time he's heard that, in whispers in the hallway and in the way no one will stand near him in the locker room). Blaine's voice is clogged with tears and snot and he feels disgusting, like they'd written on him and not just his shirt. "I'm so sorry, Marco, I--"
And Marco doesn't-- he doesn't just stand there. He reaches for Blaine and pulls him in close and Blaine sobs into his collar for what feels like hours, until his throat is raw and his eyes ache. Marco helps him out of his suit jacket when Blaine's fingers are shaking too hard to manage the remaining buttons. He looks steadily at Blaine's shirt and Blaine can't look back at him, not while he's seeing all of those words. "It's not true," Blaine says desperately. "I'm not-- I'm not a freak or a fag but what if I am? What if I should be-- I should be marked--"
"I don't care if you are," Marco says fiercely, and Blaine flinches back at the strength in his tone. "You're my best friend, Blaine, and if you are-- if you should be marked," he pauses, takes a deep breath, "if you should be, then I should too."
"No," Blaine says, and he shakes his head, because that's just wrong-- Marco is so much better than he is. "No, Marco, you're--"
"I am too," Marco says. "I think my mom suspects-- it's fine, Blaine, really, it's okay. You can stay here tonight, and we'll figure something out."
Blaine bites his lip hard enough that he can almost taste blood because even though he thinks that maybe his parents would be okay with this, with him, he can't be sure. He can't imagine telling his mom that he likes boys, especially if he's not sure that he does (even if his dreams are full of strong hands and firm chests and not soft curves and high voices; in his mind he is so, so sure).
Marco bends and twists quickly, pulling a soft cotton t-shirt out of a drawer and offering it to Blaine. There are still tears tracing slow tracks down Blaine's face, and he hates that he can't control this, that he is weak enough that he hasn't stopped crying entirely. Marco doesn't let go when Blaine takes the shirt; he uses it to draw Blaine in until the two of them are face to face, bare inches apart.
Marco drops his hands from the shirt and cups Blaine's face, thumbing away a tear. "I don't want all of your memories of tonight to be terrible," he says, and he leans in and kisses Blaine, soft and sweet.
And Blaine, he keens into it, feeling Marco's lips on his and Marco's hands warm on his face. It's nothing like he'd imagined his first kiss would be and everything it should be; he lets go of the shirt and it falls to the floor at their feet. His hands come up around Marco's waist and it's okay; Marco doesn't push him away or call him defective. He can be this-- they can be this-- and it's okay.
In the shower that night at Marco's he scrubs at the last traceries of the ink that had bled through his shirt until his skin is bright pink and raw in places; he can still see the word freak across the top of his chest and there is a stubborn grey circle around his left wrist. He slips on Marco's t-shirt in the heat and steam of the bathroom and doesn't say a word about the places where his skin is almost broken open. Marco is careful of the bruises on Blaine's arms and cautious of coming too close, too fast, and Blaine curls into Marco, cocoons himself in blankets until it's warm and dark around them, and they sleep together, chaste.
I am I am I am, Blaine whispers in the dark.
* * *
In the morning Blaine has to go home. He leaves the marked-up shirt at Marco's and carries the rest of his suit in a paper bag, handing it to his mother without a word when he walks in the door. He walks straight up to his room and looks around at everything that is him-- the guitar he's just learning how to play, the football posters and the fencing trophies.
He picks up Romeo and Juliet (they're supposed to be reading it for English but Blaine hasn't been able to make it past the first act) and stares at it blankly until his mom comes in to ask about the dance.
"It was fine," he says.
"Did you have a good time with Yoseline?" she asks.
"Yeah," he says. Maybe if he doesn't give real answers she'll give up and go away and he won't have to explain what had happened to his shirt and his father's tie.
His mom sits down at his desk, though, and he knows that he isn't getting out of it that easily. "Did you get in a fight?" she asks, and it's not the question he was expecting.
"No, mom," he says and he wonders why she's asking; maybe there's something in his shoulders or his arms that says someone hurt me last night. But it's only a fight if everyone is throwing punches, he thinks, and even though his shoulders and lower back are sore from trying to push himself up off that floor, it wasn't a fight.
"Yoseline's mom was really worried when you guys came home last night," his mom says. "Is everything all right?"
He has to tell her something, he knows that, but he can't see himself opening his mouth and saying Mom, I'm gay, much less Mom, I'm gay, and everyone can tell. "There were-- there were these guys. And I guess they think that Marco and I-- but we're not mom, we're not, I swear, but they thought--
"Are you all right?" she asks, cutting him off.
He doesn't say that his shoulders ache and his head is throbbing, still, after he'd cried for hours on Marco's shoulder the previous night. "I'm fine," he answers.
"I'm glad," she says. "And Blaine, I'm glad that you aren't-- that. You have to understand," she says, touching his wrist so that he looks at her, at her sincere expression, "you have to understand that that sort of thing isn't acceptable. It's not right."
"I know, mom," he says, and he can't start crying in front of her or she'll know.
"For people to choose that kind of life, that kind of lifestyle-- there has to be something wrong with them, Blaine, and it's something your father and I don't support. So many of them are Defectives for a reason, Blaine."
"Marco and I are just good friends," Blaine lies, but up until last night it would have been true. They are still friends-- they are still best friends, but there's this extra layer now, and it's something that needs to be kept secret and safe. He wants to hunch his shoulders and look down and away, but he knows that'll just make him look guilty, and-- he can't take that kind of risk. He's fourteen; he has three more years before he's safe, if his parents would go further than just saying something is wrong with people-- people like him.
She smiles at him, smooths one hand over his. "That's good," she says. "But your father and I have been talking, even before last night-- we think you might do better somewhere that's more disciplined."
"I don't want to leave my friends, Mom," Blaine says, because Westerville High's academics aren't the greatest and the only extracurricular he does is choir-- and even there, he's just one more decent tenor. It's the only reason he can give, and he doesn't even have that many friends. But there's something about more disciplined that scares him; there are images of military school and strict guidelines shoving their way through his head.
She shakes her head. "Yoseline's mom called me about your shirt, Blaine," she says, and he just goes icy-cold and numb; he wonders if Marco's mom told her all of the words written there or only that it had been ruined. "If you're at a school where things like that are possible-- well, we think you'll do better at Dalton."
"I don't--" Blaine doesn't know much about Dalton-- it's half an hour away and it's an all-boys school, but he hasn't heard much more than that. He doesn't know what about it has caught his mom's eye.
"We'll talk more about it later, Blaine. I'll send Thomas up with some lunch for you." She stands up and brushes invisible lint off her skirt, walks back downstairs. Blaine doesn't pick up his book again.
* * *
"Don't get marked," is the first thing Thomas says when he brings Blaine a turkey sandwich half an hour later. "Your mother's worried now that you're non-conforming, so don't do anything rash."
Blaine freezes, because if Thomas knows, Thomas could tell his mom, and--
"Hey, no. I'm not going to say anything to your parents about this. I don't care, Blaine, but they do."
"Do you really think they'd--" Blaine can't actually ask the question, not even to Thomas, who's been his confidant since Blaine was four and carefully covering up scrapes from falling in the garden instead of something that could get him marked, make him just like Thomas. Thomas has made sure he's arrived at school on time and cooked him dinner (and never touched him once, not even when he'd bandaged Blaine's knees or handed him a handkerchief to dry his tears after a particularly bad day at school. It had been strange when Thomas first arrived and Blaine had always reached up for a hug or to be lifted up to see something, but now it's normal, it's them). Thomas is always there.
"I don't know," Thomas admits. "Not without proof that you are-- and don't tell me, Blaine. I don't want to know, because if your mother asks me I won't lie."
"I'm not gay," Blaine says, tasting the lie.
Thomas just looks at him, staring hard until Blaine drops his eyes. "I'm not," he argues. "I just--"
"Ah-- stop. I don't need to know either way, Blaine. They're going to send you off to Dalton-- it's a done deal-- and you shouldn't argue. Just go. And be careful until you leave-- if there's a boy, don't kiss him, don't hug too long or spend hours on the phone. They want you at Dalton because they won't have to notice anything, if you are."
"They're my parents," Blaine says, voice lowered down almost to a whisper.
"And they do love you," Thomas agrees. "They're good people, Blaine, but their idea of what's best for you might be very different from anyone else's. I could have done a lot worse than your mother, but-- be careful."
* * *
Dalton is half an hour outside of Westerville, traffic permitting, so Blaine boards-- he tries to tell himself that it isn't because his parents think he might be gay, that they might suspect, but his father's unfinished sentences and his mother's new refusal to look at him directly make it hard not to think that they're sending him away so they don't have to see him. His father shakes his hand and his mother hugs him too briefly and tells him to be a good man.
Blaine has a roommate (Spencer, who plays lacrosse and has a girlfriend in town that he sees every weekend and rhapsodises about while Blaine is trying to do his homework) and a schedule full of classes that are actually challenging. During his second week at Dalton his AP government class gets into a debate about the legality of the new Def minimum physical safety regulations. It's a conversation that never would have happened at Westerville, and Blaine thinks for the first time that maybe even with all of Dalton's traditions and strange rigidity (Blaine has had to memorize the headmasters of Dalton in both chronological and alphabetical order and learn the school fight song, which is kind of ridiculous given the football team's record) he thinks he might actually fit in.
At Dalton, Blaine joins the choir (and the Warblers, a few months later and by accident, after Trent overhears him singing in the shower) and the debate society, slowly coming to appreciate everything that Dalton offers. He stops being startled by the sound of footsteps in the halls, he doesn't hunch his shoulders when two of the upperclassmen come up behind him. He calls Marco once a week and they talk for precisely half an hour; at Dalton he meets Wes and David, Trent and Thad and Nick and Jeff-- he finds he has more friends there than he's ever had before. Wes doesn't care that Blaine never talks about girls and even though he hasn't come out officially to anyone, no one makes assumptions about him having a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Dalton feels safe-- maybe Dalton even is safe, so Blaine lets himself breathe.
He doesn't come out to anyone at Dalton until just after winter break; he'd spent the two weeks at home not speaking to his parents and spending as much time as possible at Marco's house. Marco is still at Westerville High, and Blaine sees the dark circles under his eyes and worries more than maybe he should. They don't kiss again, not then, not when Blaine is leaving for Dalton and Marco has another six months at Westerville before he's free again. Yoseline clings to him and Marco's mom hugs him for too long he last time he comes over at the end of break and says be careful like it's something he'd forget.
When he comes back, he hesitantly joins the Gale Benevolent Society-- the posters ask all friends and friends-of-friends of Dorothy to come and listen. Blaine figures out that half the fun of Dalton is in seeing who is hiding what from their parents, and how far the administration will go to aid them. The GBS performs a musical review that is all wide-eyed innocence at song choice (Blaine sings Bills Bills Bills with half a dozen of the other Warblers, and that's nowhere near as inappropriate as some of the other songs they sing) and they laugh, backstage, at the expressions on their donors' faces.
Wes is the first person Blaine tells. It's the first time he's said the words I'm gay out loud, and he holds his breath until Wes shrugs and says "I kind of guessed. None of us care, Blaine."
Blaine ends up with everyone's phone numbers and Wes's uncle's business card when he tells the rest of the Warblers. It's okay; he's okay. He stops lying about himself (he's gay, his mom's Filipina; he doesn't want to be a lawyer or a doctor like his parents expect him to be). It's the first time that Blaine's really felt accepted as all of his different parts, and he revels in it, singing louder and dancing on the furniture during rehearsal with the Warblers. His parents can't make it for Family Day but he finds himself not really caring. He is fifteen and he is untouchable-- the Warblers want him as their lead soloist next year, since Joey is graduating, and he's thinking about going out for the fencing team when he comes back in the fall.
He goes back to his parents' house in June with his head held high, shoulders back and eyes clear. His mother smiles approvingly and his father claps him on the back, suggesting that they re-build a car that summer. They don't ask about what he's learned about himself at Dalton, so he doesn't have to make the choice between lying to them and telling them the truth.
When he sees Marco again it's like falling back into orbit. They circle each other, touch fingers and palms together, Blaine's new calluses from the car and from his guitar catching against Marco's skin.
They're careful; they try so hard to be careful, and they almost only ever kiss or touch at Marco's house. Sometimes, when Blaine's parents are going to be away for hours, they go up to Blaine's room together and Blaine stumbles through love songs on his guitar. He still can't quite look Marco in the eye when he sings them, because he's not in love with Marco. Not quite, not yet, but he thinks that he could be. He could be.
Blaine's parents go out to see The Time Traveller's Wife and Marco comes over to ostensibly watch a movie-- really, Blaine is going to pull something at random off the shelf and they set an alarm for half an hour shy of when his parents' movie will end. They get too close on the couch (and, maybe, make out for a few stolen minutes). Neither of them are paying attention to anything outside of each other; Marco's hands are on Blaine's face and on his chest, resting just above his heart. Blaine breathes into Marco's mouth and leans in just an inch more.
They don't hear the door open. They don't hear Marco's cell phone ringing; they don't hear Blaine's mom's shoes in the entryway or his father's voice or Thomas shutting the door behind them, trying to usher Blaine's parents upstairs or into the kitchen.
Blaine hears his mother's heels on the tile in the entryway moments too late and he jerks back from Marco but it's too late, it's too late.
"Blaine," his mother barks, knife-sharp, and Blaine closes his eyes and sinks into the couch like he's trying to disappear. His face is numb and his hands are shaking; he's not touching Marco's warmth any more and he doesn't know if he ever will again. He wants to reach for Marco's hand but the inches across the couch cushions feel like miles and he thinks it would just make things with his parents worse.
"Hi mom," he tries, because maybe she didn't really see, maybe he can salvage this and things will still be okay. "How was--"
"Be quiet," she says, cutting him off. "Marco, go home. I will call your mother later. I need to speak with Blaine right now."
Marco stands up and bites his lip, takes a look back at where Blaine is still sitting on the couch and mouths sorry back at him. Blaine's mom watches him walk out the front door and then turns back to Blaine.
"Give me your cell phone," she orders, and that's when he loses any shred of hope that things will turn out all right, because if she's cutting off his communication it can really only mean one thing. He digs his phone out of his pants pocket and hands it to her without saying a word. He has no illusions that doing what she says will help.
"I have told you that this is unacceptable, Blaine," she says. "I hope that you have no expectations that your father or I have changed our minds. I am beyond disappointed in you, Blaine."
"Mom--" Blaine says, desperate, and he hates that his voice is shaking and that he feels so weak right now, that his father is standing just out of his line of sight and not doing anything. "I'll do better, I won't be-- please, mom--"
"No," she says firmly, tipping her chin up so that she isn't looking at him any more. "No, Blaine. As far as I am concerned, I am no longer your mother."
"Please," he begs, "please, mom, you don't-- I'm still your son, please--"
Blaine's cell phone rings in his mother's hands; she checks to see who's calling and her mouth firms into a thin line. "Thomas," she says, "would you take Blaine up to his bedroom? Lock the door behind yourself, bring back his computer, and make sure the windows still won't open."
He looks to his father, who is leaning back against the wall, one hand over his mouth. He shakes his head at Blaine; there will be no help from him. Blaine feels like he did over a year ago, when he'd come back from the Sadie Hawkins dance in a stained shirt and felt that every word was written on his skin. He pushes himself up slowly from the couch and wraps his right hand tight around his left wrist. Thomas beckons for him to follow, and Blaine walks a few steps behind him, steps heavy, like he's moving forward through molasses.
Thomas unplugs his computer and checks the windows, then turns to face Blaine.
"You have three days," he says, looking directly at Blaine. "Wait it out-- they might change their minds." Then he leaves, and Blaine is alone.
He sits on his bed and doesn't know what to think. This is something he's been waiting for since the first day he'd looked at another boy's body and wanted, since he'd been kissed by and kissed Marco, since Blaine's mom-- his mother-- had said unacceptable.
All of the things he'd learned at Dalton are falling away; Wes's uncle's card is sitting uselessly in his pocket and he won't be able to speak to anyone until it's been three days and it's too late for anyone to help. He wonders what his parents will tell their family, his friends. He wonders what his mother's going to say to Marco's mom, if Marco is going to face the same thing that he is, now that he is no longer just attracted to boys in theory. There is something wrong with Blaine, there must be, if he has pushed his parents to this. He is all those things those boys said about him: he is a freak and a fag and he's defective.
Thomas brings him dinner hours later and doesn't say anything, just nods at Blaine before leaving. Blaine doesn't sleep at all that first night; he lies awake and stares out his window at Marco's house until it's dawn. He feels numb, like the world is grey and he's just floating through it.
Blaine finds the pills in his bathroom on the second day and thinks about his razor on the third-- he finds it somewhat ironic that his parents have taken away his access to the outside world but have left him every opportunity for him to remove himself from it. Even if he is defective, though, there's something that keeps him from swallowing the pills or slicing his skin open. Maybe it's the way that Thomas looks at him every time he brings food-- half-relieved and somehow hopeful to see Blaine still be there. Maybe it's because when the anger hits him on the third day he wants to be as much of a problem for his parents as he can.
Blaine Anderson is fifteen and he hasn't seen anyone in three days except for Thomas, his mother's Def.
* * *
Blaine A. is twenty-seven and he's on his knees in his Holder's kitchen. The phone is ringing.
* * *