Title: Just Keep Swimming
Word Count: ~4,000 words
Summary: Sam’s not sure he gets it, but he’s not sure he doesn’t get it either
Sam POV reaction fic to The Break Up, in which Sam talks to everyone before he finally talks to Blaine
Author’s Notes: character’s views are NOT the author’s own. Just because Blaine’s not crying doesn’t mean he’s not depressed, nor would constantly crying be a sign of depression. Depression manifests itself differently in everyone.
Unique’s all in black. She looks like she’s in mourning. Then she shakes her long, shaggy hair (Sam’s never seen this wig before. It kind of freaks him out) and Sam thinks that no, she’s not a victim of death. She advances on Blaine like a Fury, like the vengeful servant of Death himself.
Her face makes Sam shrink back and cover his crotch instinctively.
“I know what you did,” Unique throws it at Blaine like a knife. Blaine rocks back on his feet in a full body flinch, but stays silent. “I thought – I thought we –“
Sam blinks, and suddenly it’s Wade twisting his hands and looking so very uncertain. He’s pretty sure Blaine sees it too, because Blaine reaches forward toward him with a kind of desperate slowness. It reminds Sam of pretty much every action movie ever, where the hero is clinging to the edge. They reach for the next, life-saving branch with that same desperate sluggishness, like he’s afraid it’ll vanish if he moves too fast and spooks it.
Blaine moves too fast.
Unique slaps something into Blaine’s hands so hard Sam can hear the sharp sound it from down the hallway.
“You can have this back now,” she sniffs dramatically, “Unique is nobody’s mirror.” Her heels click as she stalks away. Sam kind of hates the sound. It sounds just like the motel door’s lock sliding shut, accusing and sharp.
He walks up to Blaine on his tiptoes. “Crikey,” He mutters under his breath, and reminds himself that even the gentlest animals are dangerous when wounded.
“Dude, are you okay?” Sam immediately feels like an idiot and an asshole, because of course Blaine’s not okay.
“I’m fine,” Blaine says. It falls off his lips with the same easiness that Sam used to say no, I’m not hungry.
Blaine shoves his hand into his pocket, but not before Sam catches a glimpse of it. He’s pretty sure it’s a bowtie hairband. He vaguely remembers Unique giggling about how she and Blaine were twinsies. He looks away guiltily, but then can’t figure out how to look at Blaine. He tries not to stare at the oil slick that’s Blaine’s hair, and the wine colored bruises under his eyes. He focuses on counting Blaine’s eyelashes instead, except then Blaine gives him that look of what the hell do they put in the water at McKinley? so he stops.
“Dude, I know you loved Kurt, but man, you really –“
“I love Kurt,” Blaine says dully. He looks completely blank, like he’s sleepwalking. Sam wonders if he’s had a good night’s sleep since he and Kurt broke up. He doesn’t look like he’s been crying though, and that’s both a relief and vaguely irritating. Sam cried all night when he and Mercedes broke up, not to mention how much of an ice cream binge he’d gone on after Quinn cheated on him. Blaine should be more upset.
Blaine closes his locker carefully so it won’t bang. He tilts his face away, and Sam’s left watching the delicate veins in his neck. Sam always forgets how small Blaine is, the guy’s jumping and singing so much he seems way bigger. Blaine’s bigger on the inside. Sam’s grinning so hard at that observation that when Blaine mentions softly that, “loving him is the only good part of me”, Sam’s still smiling and nodding. Blaine walks away to class before Sam can make his face stop.
Sam stares after him as he walks away. He’s suddenly really, really afraid. He’s also suddenly sure that Blaine hasn’t slept a full night since he and Kurt broke up, maybe even before. Because he’s damn sure that Blaine never would have said that out loud otherwise.
Sam doesn’t catch up to Blaine until the end of the day. “Dude, I didn’t mean that.”
“I didn’t like… mean to smile. You’re wrong. You’re awesome. You’re so great at singing, and your speech was awesome. You’re great, Blaine. You know that right?”
Blaine looks down at his shoes, “That’s really nice of you Sam, I appreciate that.” He sounds dead, like his body just didn’t get the message and is running on autopilot, and it’s really starting to freak Sam out.
“No, really man, you –“ Sam breaths in through his nose, “You’re –“
Blaine finally looks up. His eyes are wider than Sam’s ever seen them, his mouth in a little o, and it makes him look just like Stevie when he’s skinned his knee, right before the tears and screaming start. Sam opens his mouth to – to – (hug him? Slap a band-aid on?)
“Okay guys, Nationals are coming up and we have to be ready!”
Blaine looks at Mr. Schue, and then looks back at Sam. He looks like Warbler boy again, to the point where Sam thinks he might have imagined everything else. “We shouldn’t be late,” he says, and slips past Sam to sit in the chair in the corner. Sam watches as he tucks his knees and elbows in and makes himself small.
Sam frowns when he walks into the choir room after him. Didn’t Jake used to sit with his shoulders facing toward Blaine?
He greets Marley absently, then abruptly realizes that Marley said hi to everyone but Blaine.
Why are they angry about it? They don’t even know Kurt.
He sits down next to Brittany and nods at Marley and Jake, “What’s with them? They don’t even know Kurt.”
She squints at them, “Doing what other people do is a good way to not look stupid.” She sucks on the tassel of her pen. Her pens are amazing. They’re weighted, so she can do all these awesome twirly tricks with them. Plus, she says they help her remember that she’s writing. He could really use that. Words are tricky and twisty, and sometimes he ends up trying to explain why covalent and ionic bonds are different via Batman cartoon. Ms. Heezley doesn’t really appreciate that.
He nods at her because, well, yeah. “Hide your free meal tickets and sew designer labels on and hide in the herd.” He’d forgotten, somehow, how second nature that constant awareness could be. “Constant vigilance!” He growls, closing one eye to glower at Brittany.
Then he has to explain how he’s not a pirate, even though Moody is totally a pirate come to think of it, and he forgets why he’d started that conversation anyway.
Artie tries to give Blaine the part of Danny, and it makes Sam weirdly relieved. But Blaine turns it down with a too-easy smile and says he wouldn’t want to take the spotlight away from anyone else. He was the lead last year, he says, he doesn’t deserve it again.
Artie casts him as the angel instead. Sam thinks it’s an excuse to take artistic license and put Blaine in wings and a skimpy toga. But when he tries to rib Artie about it, Artie doesn’t even look up from his casting notes, “Nah, it’s ‘cause Lucifer fell from Heaven ‘cause he loved his God too much. Angels are way intense.” He blinks, and his eyes focus on Sam for the first time. “I know you watch Supernatural, boy, otherwise I would have to smite you down.”
“Oh man,” Sam cracks up, “we should totally put Blaine in a trench coat!”
He forgets that he wanted to ask Artie about Blaine in favor of trying to figure out what the hell happened to Cas in purgatory. Dean wouldn’t just leave him, right?
He means to try and talk to Tina about Blaine.
But Tina’s not really talking to anybody. She still talks, but she’s not really talking. It’s weird. Sam can’t explain it. He tries to give her a hug, and she just stares at him like she waiting for him to pull out a knife and stab her with it during the hug.
She’d kind of pissed him off during the whole ‘new Rachel’ thing, and he’d… well, he’d forgotten how Tina’s been there since the beginning. Mike’s gone now, he reflects, and sometimes having someone who loves you can make up for all the other things that suck in your life.
He thinks about that as he drives to school. He pulls over and texts Quinn, ‘U R so strong.’ He thinks about adding ‘I’m sorry’ but then he’d have to explain, and it’s kind of unnecessary now isn’t it?
‘Naturally. I can lift three other people while wearing a short skirt and smiling so hard it could cure cancer.’
Sam hugs Tina good morning, and vows to hug her every morning until she stops trying to figure out what this is going to cost her, and forgets about asking her or Quinn about Blaine.
Brittany has a colorful crayon call for Blaine’s impeachment, based on “the Clinton precedent.” Sam’s really impressed that she can spell precedent without mixing it up with president, which he knows he would totally do, especially in this case. There’s too much cross over there.
“You mean how he cheated on Kurt, right?” He asks, just in case.
She nods, and adds another crying unicorn to her diagram. Sam wishes she wouldn’t. It’s already really bumming him out.
“But you, I mean,” he scratches the back of his head awkwardly and wonders if there’s a nice way to point out that not only has she cheated, but he’s pretty sure every single person in Glee who ever had a partner has cheated or assisted in someone else’s cheating.
Well. Except Artie. Sam’s pretty sure Artie’s just been cheated on.
Sam makes a mental note to spend next weekend helping Artie pimp out his wheelchair some more. He wonders if you can put rims on a wheelchair’s wheels. Artie would definitely be down with trying.
Brittany asks him to help her draw some crying cats, and he forgets what he meant to ask her.
A few days later he sees her crying as she puts on her lipsmackers. Because she’d switched brands after Santana left, to Santana’s brand. That way every time she reapplied it, it would be like kissing Santana even when she wasn’t there. He figures it out as he tries to distract her by hugging her and telling her about all the awesomeness that is ahead of her in life.
"You loved both of them, didn’t you?"
Brittany doesn’t even blink when he interrupts his explanation of why koosh balls were amazing. He kind of loves her for that.
"I really did."
"Oh, okay then," Sam suddenly gets why everyone is so much more shocked by this than by any of the other (dozens of) times someone in Glee has cheated. He wonders if Blaine even knows the guy he fucked. He’s pretty sure the answer is no.
“Hey, Mike, how are you?”
“I’m good. Dance rehearsals are really challenging.”
Sam grins, because he gets that. Nothing better than having to fight and work and sweat for something. Made it all the better when you finally just got it. “Well, uh, I’m just gonna cut to the chase here, if that’s okay. Have you talked to Blaine lately?”
There’s a pause. “He sends me biweekly updates on how Glee is going.”
“He does?” That’s kind of awesome. Sam wonders if Blaine does that for everybody. Maybe he should send Puck some updates, on his brother if nothing else. He feels vaguely guilty about not thinking of it before.
“Yeah. Is he okay?” There’s a quietness to Mike’s voice now that Sam recognizes. The one that makes him picture Mike all coiled and ready to spring forward and make it all better if not. Mike was totally Coulson. Wait, did that mean that leaving McKinley was like dying?
Not that Coulson was really dead. Sam surreptitiously taps his wooden desk.
“Well, he – he and Kurt broke up. Blaine cheated.”
Sam hadn’t even known that you could get so many emotions across in just some staticky silence. He hears a couple keys tapping.
“Does everyone else know?” Mike’s voice is quiet, like he already knows the answer. Sam winces as he affirms anyway.
“They’re…not happy dude. I mean, they were pissed at Kurt when they thought he was cheating on Blaine, and they didn’t even know Blaine then. Brittany wants him impeached.” He shrugs helplessly, “Unique gave him back the bowtie hairband he gave her.”
Mike curses. Sam pulls the phone back from his ear to check the name. He’s never heard Mike curse before.
“I can’t change my plane ticket. I have rehearsals and classes everyday, and it would be too expensive even if I didn’t. I’ll be back in two weeks for Thanksgiving.”
Sam shivers at the icy anger in Mike’s voice. He’s never seen Mike angry before. It’s actually fucking terrifying.
Maybe Mike isn’t Coulson. Maybe he’s Bruce instead.
“Listen, Sam. You need to be there for Blaine okay?”
Sam shifts uncomfortably, “I mean, Blaine’s my bro, but like… I’m living at Kurt and Finn’s house.” He closes his eyes and tries not to feel like a coward. His stomach pinches to remind him he hasn’t eaten anything other than a yoghurt cup and a handful of grapes today. He ignores it. He’s good at that.
Mike’s silence scares him. A lot. A small part of Sam’s brain says that Mike’s quiet a lot. The rest of it tells that part to shut the hell up; it’s just embarrassing itself.
“Blaine doesn’t really have friends does he?”
“What?” Sam blinks, “Dude, he’s got lots of friends! He’s got you, and me, and everyone in Glee and like…” Sam trails off before he can say the warblers, because as much as he fought with some of the other guys in New Directions, he’s damn sure they’d never try to blind him. “I mean, I’m his friend. Blaine’s awesome.” He tells Mike about how they ran for office together, how cool it is to have a bro like Blaine, “Kurt’s awesome. He’s like a brother to me, but Blaine is my bro, you know? I don’t have to try and talk fashion or whatever, we can just hang out and play video games or something. I’m teaching him how to play guitar.”
“Blaine likes fashion,” Mike says. Sam sits down hard enough he think he bruises his tailbone at the sound of icy fire in Mike’s voice. He kind of wants to hide under the bed and whine for forgiveness.
Bruce. Definitely Bruce.
“Don’t,” Mike says sharply, before Sam can try and defend himself, “Just… hold his hand okay?”
Sam blinks, “Okay.” He can do that.
“Just… hang out with him. You can watch a movie or something.”
Sam nods, and then realizes that Mike can’t see him, “Okay.” He kind of wants to ask if they can just watch sports together. Blaine likes football, Sam likes football, they could like football together. He doesn’t really like chick flicks; he’d kind of been selfishly grateful that Kurt moving to New York meant that Friday family dinner-and-movie-night wouldn’t include kisses in the rain once a month anymore. But he remembers the cold fury in Mike’s voice when he’d said, “Blaine likes fashion” and keeps his mouth shut. He’ll just google popular gay movies.
Mike makes him promise three more times before he finally hangs up. Sam stares at the bones in the back of his hand for a good while longer, and tries not to think about why Mike is so adamant that Blaine’s hands need to be held.
(He thinks, for one terrible, fleeting second, of the word depression. But then he realizes that Blaine would be crying if he were depressed, not singing, so he dismisses it.
But he decides to stop trying to ask other people, and to just do something. Sometimes, even doing something wrong is better than doing nothing. Not always, Finn, but sometimes. Sam thinks of Kurt and those awful, awful clothes and starts googling “popular gay movies”)
“Which movie sounds better, dude, Velvet Goldmine or Brokeback Mountain?”
“What?” Finn didn’t look confused as often as he used to, and it makes Sam smile to see that expression again. It’s like finding your favorite old teddy bear that got lost under the bed all those years ago.
“I’m trying to find a good gay movie for Blaine to watch. He kind of like, needs a friend right now you know?” He shrugs, very very aware of who Finn’s brother is, “Mike made me promise.”
“He would,” Finn mutters, but he doesn’t seem pissed. “Velvet Goldmine sounds like a porno, dude.”
“It’s got Batman in it,” Sam’s not sure whether the idea of Batman in a gay porno is a check in the plus or minus column. Finally he decides to set that movie aside for a later, private viewing.
“Not Brokeback Mountain.”
Sam nearly hurls the computer away from himself at the sound of Burt’s voice. Burt doesn’t look at him, turned away from them both.
“Wait, is that the one where Jack,” Finn’s voice cracks, “died?”
“Yup,” Burt scratches the back of his neck, “Not a good choice for a cheer up visit.” When he walks out the door, it slams a little harder than is strictly necessary. But he helped Sam, and had to know he was helping Blaine too. Sam pulls up a new search, and tries not to wonder at how hurt Burt has seemed by all this. Blaine did so much more than just hurt Kurt.
Sam passes the box of tissues to Finn. “Sooo, not Brokeback huh?”
“They loved each other so much!” Finn throws himself on top of Sam, pushing all the air out of his lungs with a pained whoosh. Sam collapses against the coach and claws at Finn’s back, desperate for air, “But they just… the world killed them!” Sam pats Finn’s hair gingerly, “Jack just wanted to see him more,” Finn wept, “He just wanted to be with him!”
“I know,” Sam says, and holds Finn while he sobs about a fictional gay couple. It’s one of the most surreal moments of his life, and he goes to McKinley.
(He tries not to think about whether Finn’s ever written fanfiction)
Terror briefly cracks through Blaine’s careful blankness. Sam frowns down at the DVD. It was a musical so they could both sing along to it, and Wikipedia had told him it was really popular with gay guys. Wikipedia wouldn’t lie to him, would it?
“What’s wrong with RENT?”
Blaine smiles at him. Sam winces internally. That looked painful. “Nothing, nothing’s wrong. RENT’s a great musical.”
“Okay then,” Sam’s starting to wish he’d just gotten X-Men: First Class instead. They could have talked about how Erik and Charles were totally gay for each other. Even Kurt had gotten into it last year, talking about how they were “a modern day Romeo and Juliet” but with less dying and more maiming.
Sam feels abruptly guilty for thinking about Kurt with Blaine right there. He knows Blaine can’t know, unless Blaine had mindreading powers (which would be awesome, but kind of sucky at the same time. Sometimes you really didn’t want to know what people really thought of you) but it still feels like betrayal. He knows that Blaine is always thinking about Kurt anyway, no matter what (or who, his treacherous brain says) he’s doing, but Sam still feels bad.
He clears his voice, and puts on his best 11th Doctor voice, “Come along Pond!” and slams the DVD into the player just a little too hard. He stuffs a handful of (unsalted, unbuttered, air popped) popcorn into his mouth before any more nervous imitations can come out. Blaine gives him the hairy eyeball, and it makes him feel weirdly better. Like things are closer to normal.
Blaine starts out like a statue (like a weeping angel, all pain and power and fierceness wrapped up in terrifying stone. And oh god, why did he think about that, he’s not going to be able to sleep tonight, great) but he gradually loosens up as the movie keeps going.
He jumps up around a third of the way through, after that awesome subway dance scene, and gabbles something about going to the bathroom. Sam just nods and concentrates on not giving him a look. What was that?
Live in my house
I’ll be your shelter
Just pay me back
With one thousand kisses!
Be my lover,
And I’ll cover you
Sam swallows a too big handful of popcorn. It sticks in his throat painfully, and he nearly chokes before managing to get it down.
But that moment of pain and awkward is nowhere near as bad as when Blaine starts quietly singing along to ‘Without You’.
Without you, the ground thaws, the rain falls, the grass grows.
Without you, the seeds root, the flowers bloom, the children play.
The stars gleam, the poets dream, the eagles fly, without you.
The earth turns, the sun burns, but I die, without you.
Sam holds Blaine’s hand and sings Roger’s parts, because there’s nothing else he can really do.
Blaine shakes like he’s breaking apart as they watch Angel die. He doesn’t cry, but his face is wet with tears, like he just can’t stop. It makes Sam want to cry.
I’d be happy to die for a taste of what Angel had
Sam hugs Blaine. He suddenly feels so very small and young. He wonders if he’ll ever love someone enough to hurt this much. He wonders if he even wants to. Just the idea of it terrifies him. He can’t imagine what it must be like to actually feel it.
He thinks he might get why Blaine cheated now. Almost.
He clears his throat,
“All your words are nice, Mimi
But love’s not a three-way street
You’ll never share real love until
You love yourself,”
He sighs. Blaine’s hair doesn’t ruffle, smothered as it is under its layer of gel. It makes Sam weirdly mournful. “I should know”
Sam wants to ask Blaine things. Stupid things like why would you do that to Kurt? and do you still love Kurt? and what is going on with you? But he already knows the answer to all of those, except the last one (but he thinks that Blaine doesn’t know the answer to that one either, not really) so he mostly just asks stupid things like
“Do you think that Bruce Banner smokes pot to stay un-Hulked?”
“What the hell was DC thinking with this 52 crap?”
“Who do you think would win if Kirk and Piccard duked it out?”
“Do you think if I sold my soul to the devil it would get the next part of Half Life to come out this century?”
“Oh man, could Tony lust after Cap any more?”
Blaine mostly just smiles a little too quickly, or judges him in a way that Sam’s going to pretend he picked up from Kurt. But Sam’s pretty sure he’s not hurting Blaine, even if he’s not totally sure he’s helping him either.
Blaine still says “I’m fine” when Sam asks him how he is every morning. He says it a little too fast, like Sam’s surprised him and he just blurted out the first thing he thought of, even though Sam asks every morning. It kind of makes Sam want to punch something. Or someone. He’s not sure who though, and the only person he thinks would really deserve it is someone he’s pretty sure Blaine would be pissed about. Plus, he’s over 18 so if Mr. Anderson decided to sue him for assault it’d be jail time, and he would not do well there.
Sam’s not sure he gets it, but he’s not sure he doesn’t get it either, so he grabs Blaine around the neck and holds his hand when they’re alone and blathers about his favorite nerddoms with Blaine until he goes hoarse. Blaine doesn’t always get it, not like Artie does, but he tries, and that’s all Sam can really ask for.
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