Title: Any Time
Word Count: ~1,600
Warnings: homophobia, bullying
Summary: Twelve-year old Blaine just wants to hide away after being bullied, but Cooper won't leave him alone.
Note: Written for the Anderson Brothers Mini Bang. Betaed by the ever-wonderful anodrethlluvine.
He made it halfway up the stairs before he heard someone behind him in the hallway.
He hurried up the last few steps as fast as he could, ignoring his brother and just hoping that he’d go away. Of course Cooper was home from college for winter break. How had he forgotten? He’d thought the whole house would be empty while his parents were at work for another few hours and he could just go calm down in peace.
Slamming his bedroom door shut behind him, he hoped that his brother got the message that he wanted to be left alone. He shucked his backpack as quickly as he could, tossed his winter coat in the direction of his desk chair, and toed off his shoes at the edge of his bed before climbing on and bringing his pillow to his chest. Curling up against it, he finally let his tears flow freely. The kids at school were so horrible, so mean, and Blaine had another five months to go this year, and then five whole years after that. He didn’t know if he could handle it.
There was a knock on his door, and his body stiffened automatically. “Go away, Coop!” he called out. All he wanted to do was lie here and mope for a bit and then move on with things, and dealing with Cooper was not even remotely on his agenda. He’d probably just make fun of him for being so weak that he let the other kids pick on him so much.
“Blaine?” came the muffled voice on the other side of the door. “Come on, can we talk?”
“Fine,” he said, realizing that Cooper wasn’t going to just let this go. “Just – just give me a second.” He pulled his sleeve down over his thumb and used it to wipe at his eyes, drying his face and leaving his eyes red but hopefully hiding the fact that he’d been crying. He pushed himself up and scooted backward until his back was resting against his headboard. He crossed his legs and hugged his pillow close. “Okay,” he said softly. “Come in.”
Cooper pushed the door open cautiously, peering into Blaine’s bedroom. Blaine watched his eyes sweep over the mess – his backpack, coat, and shoes spread haphazardly on the floor, so unlike Blaine’s usual meticulous organization – before meeting his own. He walked in slowly and closed the door with a click behind him before sitting on the edge of the bed.
“You okay?” he asked, reaching out his hand and gripping one of Blaine’s knees, wiggling it up and down.
Blaine was tempted to reply sarcastically, because really? The bullying was just getting worse and it seemed like no one was on his side. Cooper seemed to be trying, though, so he just shrugged, keeping his eyes focused down on his lap.
“What happened today?”
“Nothing,” he said sullenly, shrugging again. As happy as he was that someone finally cared about what was going on, he found himself too embarrassed to actually talk about any of the bullying. He didn’t want anyone to know how lame he was that the other kids thought it was fun to do things like this to him, how weak he was to let things like this happen to him. He especially didn’t want Cooper to know. Cooper, his amazing, awesome, cool older brother who’d spent the majority of his time at college pretending he didn’t even have a younger brother.
Cooper twisted so that he could face Blaine head on, the leg that was closer to Blaine bending on the bed, his other leg crossing over his ankle. “Hey,” he said softly. “C’mon. What’s going on?”
Blaine looked up at the tone of Cooper’s voice – quiet, soothing, and so unlike anything he usually heard from his brother. He took a deep breath and let it out, trying to figure out what to say. Before he could, though, Cooper spoke again.
“Who did that to your bag?” He turned his head and nodded toward his backpack, which Blaine was ashamed to realize had landed so that the bright red spray painted letters shone tauntingly up at them.
That question was easier to answer than the broader ones Cooper had asked before, and the words came quickly to him. “Some eighth graders. I don’t know who they were.”
Cooper scowled, clearly unhappy with his answer. Blaine stayed silent, ducking his head and playing with the fabric of his pillowcase. “Are you sure?” he asked, his voice a dampened angry. “No one has a right to call you a f– to call you that.”
Something in Blaine just snapped. That was the whole problem, wasn’t it? He was different, he was gay, he was a… a fag. Just like his backpack said. “But I am, Cooper! I am, and there’s nothing that’s going to change that, so will you please just leave me alone?”
“No,” Cooper said sharply, grabbing Blaine’s hands in his own. “I won’t and you’re not.”
The tears that had been threatening to fall since he’d wiped them away finally broke free. He sobbed hard, yanking his hands away from his brother and curling in on himself. How had he been so stupid? It was bad enough that he’d just come out for the first time, but to have his perfect brother deny that that’s who he was? That was just too much to handle.
“Just go, Cooper.”
“No,” he said again. “And I don’t want to ever hear you say that about yourself again.”
Blaine kicked out his legs, hitting Cooper in the hip but not hard enough to knock him from the bed. He groaned in frustration, just wanting his brother to leave and go back to ignoring Blaine’s existence. He wished he could take back his admission, but he couldn’t, and if his brother was going to outright deny it, Blaine wanted nothing to do with him. “I’m gay,” he said shakily, unsure where the courage to say it again was coming from. “You don’t have to like it, but I am, and you telling me not to say it isn’t going to change anything.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Cooper said, settling a hand on Blaine’s leg to keep him from kicking him again. “I wasn’t talking about that.”
Blaine sniffed and glared, unimpressed, at his brother. “Uh huh.”
“I was talking about that word,” he explained, “the one on your backpack.” He caught Blaine’s chin with his other hand and forced him to look at him in the eye. “You’re gay, and that’s cool. I kinda had my suspicions, but, well, if you were straight, that’d be cool, too. But that word? Blainey, you aren’t that. I want you to promise me that you will never think of yourself that way again.”
Blaine’s heart just about dropped into his stomach. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, yet he could tell from the look in his brother’s eyes that he meant every word that he’d said. “You’re not… disgusted?” he asked cautiously, averting his eyes so he didn’t have to look at his brother’s face.
“What?” Cooper exclaimed. “No, Blaine, no. I’m not disgusted with you. I could never be disgusted with you.” He lifted Blaine’s legs easily from where they were spread out on the bed and swung them over the side. Scooting up next to him, Cooper wrapped an arm tightly around him, pulling him close.
It was the hug that did it. All of the emotions of the past few minutes fought to get out at once, and his tears started up again. He buried his head against his brother’s chest and let it out, for once not caring about what his brother thought of him, because now Cooper knew. He knew Blaine was gay and he was still there and he was touching him and Blaine thought for a fleeting moment that nothing could hurt him as long as he had his brother.
Once Blaine had cried himself out, Cooper cleared his throat. “I love you, squirt.”
“I love you, too,” Blaine said, elbowing him in the side, “but don’t call me squirt.”
“Whatever you say, squirt.”
Blaine laughed wetly and gently extricated himself from his brother’s grasp so that he could go grab some tissues from the bathroom.
“Can I do anything?” Cooper asked, leaning against the doorframe. Blaine shook his head. “Alright. Get yourself cleaned up, and then what do you say we go get you a new backpack?”
He blew his nose and tossed the tissue in the overly ornate trash can his mother had picked out. “Really?”
Cooper nodded. “I’ll wait downstairs.”
Blaine gave him a small smile in return. “Thanks, Coop.”
“Any time, baby brother. Any time.”