The split with Kurt had been mutual. Sort of. Blaine had been pushing him away for weeks. Kurt had the best of intentions, he had been trying to help, but at the time it had just seemed kind of smothering. He had ever so kindly waited, delayed things because of him, and waited for his condition to be less fragile. He acted like he didn’t care when Kurt finally made the split official. He didn’t even cry when Kurt left. But he kind of hadn’t eaten since. And it had been three days.
He could blame Kurt for not checking to see if he would be home alone, but it really wasn’t his fault. Everything was Blaine’s fault. He had been a mentor to Kurt, and then he fell apart. That wasn’t supposed to happen. He was supposed to be there for Kurt, but he couldn’t see what was going on through all his fucking mental shit. He had rejected Kurt when he was trying to help him, and ignored him when he needed his help. Now he was curled up in a ball in his closet because now he was alone again, completely alone. Blaine had skipped school; he knew he wouldn’t have been able to stand seeing Kurt. He didn’t even know what to say to him or how to act.
“You should probably lock your doors; you have some pretty nice stuff.”
Mike Chang stood in his doorway.
“Am I interrupting your pity party?”
Blaine nodded, but Mike continued his journey into the depths of the room until he stood next to Blaine. He sat down and they remained silent for a while before he seemed to think it necessary to begin a conversation.
“It’s kind of funny for me to be sitting in a closet.”
Blaine just nuzzled his face deeper into his knees.
“Don’t you want to know why?”
“Why Michel Chang, is it funny for you to be sitting in a closet?”
Blaine’s words were muffled by his position, but still somewhat audible.
“Because I’m not exactly straight.”
At this, Blaine’s head shot up.
“Ha! I knew that would get you!”
“So you lied to me to get a response out of me?”
“Nope, I just told you my biggest secret to get a response out of you. But just in case you were worried, this isn’t me hitting on you.”
“So if you’re not straight, what are you?”
“I guess I would classify myself as bisexual. I guess I just didn’t feel the need to tell anyone if I was not going to act any way other than heterosexual. But I figured I should tell you, as I am your Asian best friend.”
“Actually, I think you’re not just my Asian best friend, you’re my overall best friend.”
“You still haven’t reacted yet.”
“How am I supposed to react? Am I supposed to congratulate you for coming out of the closet in a closet? Am I supposed to offer to set you up with someone? I don’t think Tina would like that.”
“I don’t know either.”
Mike grabbed Blaine’s hand. He was a pretty affectionate person, so this move didn’t surprise him.
“Why are you here and not at glee club?”
“Because my best friend needed me.”
He said it in a way that implied he was holding back a “duh!”
“When was the last time you ate?”
Blaine didn’t want him to know, so he just mumbled incoherently.
“We are going out. You are going to eat. I don’t care if it takes all night.”
Blaine didn’t want to do it; he didn’t want to leave the safety of his closet, or even his bedroom for that matter. He didn’t want to be exposed to the emptiness of his house—always house, never home. But he did want to please his best friend. Now that Kurt had abandoned him, Mike Chang was the only person he had left. So he got up and went out with Mike Chang.
They got in Mike’s car and drove. Blaine expected to end up at either at Dim Sum or Breadsticks, so he was surprised when they pulled up at the local pizza place.
“Sam’s not working today.”
That hadn’t been a concern of his, but he was glad to hear it nonetheless. The place was nearly empty as it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Blaine didn’t want pizza, but he took a seat at the booth Mike guided him to. Mike ordered when the waitress came over.
“One large vegetarian pizza, light on the cheese, two salads with low fat balsamic vinaigrette and two diet root beers please.”
She wrote down what he said and walked away, glancing nervously at Blaine. He realized he had been gripping the table. He let go and looked over at Mike.
“I hope what I ordered was okay, it was what Tina and I…”
Blaine knew that a good friend would question Mike’s motives in trailing off like that, but he wasn’t being a good friend, so he did nothing more than nod. When their drinks came, Blaine couldn’t help but stir out the bubbles with his straw. Old habits die hard, and even if he didn’t have Kurt to impress, he didn’t want to look bloated. Maybe he didn’t have to be regular anorexic anymore. It would be nice if he could go back to how things were before; before he had a boyfriend to impress. Too bad everyone knew. Too bad he had a best friend that was insisting upon making him eat. When the waitress brought their food he realized he hadn’t spoken since they got there.
Well, he couldn’t start now. After he ate his salad he took a slice of pizza and removed all the toppings, eating them one by one. Then he cut up the rest into tiny pieces. When he looked up briefly he met Mike’s eyes, and unlike most people who watched him eat, he didn’t avert them.
“I’m glad you’re eating something, and slowly too. I wouldn’t want you to get sick.”
“Does everyone know?”
“Does everyone know what?”
“About me and Kurt?”
“So it is true.”
“I just saw that you weren’t at school, and Kurt was acting weird, so I thought that might be it.”
“So he hasn’t told anyone?”
“Not that I know of, but he might have at glee club.”
Blaine pulled out his phone to check his messages. Sure enough there were 12 of them, one for every member of New Directions that was not currently sitting in a booth at a pizza place.
“Yeah, he told them.”
He didn’t read the messages, and they didn’t speak. Mike looked at him expectantly until he grabbed a second slice of pizza and began to eat it in the same fashion as the first. After he finished, Mike drove him home and he went to bed.
When he woke up the next morning it was to the realization that he had to go to school whether he liked it or not. The opening bars of “Teenage Dream” filled the air and Blaine mentally smacked himself for not having changed his ringtone. He blindly reached for his phone, answered it and pressed it to his ear without opening his eyes.
“Good morning best friend! Will you be gracing the hallowed halls of William McKinley High with your presence today?”
“Do I have to?”
“Yes. You also have to eat breakfast. But don’t pack a lunch; we’re going on an adventure.”
Blaine mumbled in the affirmative and ended the call. He made a mental note to be nicer to Mike when he saw him. After getting dressed and eating as small of a breakfast as his conscience would let him get away with he drove himself to school for the second time all year. Loneliness was something he would have to get used to. Friends, even a best friend like Michel Chang, were not ever going to be around as often as Kurt used to be. When he got to school he was glad to see that his now ex-boyfriend was not at his locker. It would be easier not to see him. After inputting his combination, he opened the door to find a note.
The Brainiacs had a before school meeting, so I had a chance to ninja this into your locker before you got here. Speaking of The Brianiacs, you should join. We could use your private school smarts on our side. Back to the point, I have placed a granola bar in your locker along with a bottle of water. You are to consume them sometime before third period. I realized after dinner last night that it probably wasn’t a good idea to get you to eat all that food after going three days without, so now I may or may not be forcing you to eat small, frequent meals to get your body out of starvation mode. Meet me back here at lunch for our adventure.
Your Asian Best Friend
He was not all that fond of the idea of being forced to eat regularly, but he dutifully shoved the note and the food in his bag along with his books. In his classes he avoided the eyes of his classmates and focused on this work. He had been doing well since he had started eating regularly, so he figured he might as well keep it up. He didn’t have a class with Mike until after lunch, so he didn’t have a chance to ask about this “adventure” he was planning. Blaine knew his friend to be a rather level headed individual, so this kind of spontaneity surprised him. Regardless, he couldn’t help but be a little excited while he ate his snack as instructed before heading to his next class, brainstorming about the possibilities. He had been the first to get to class and was the last to leave, since that seemed to be the best method for avoiding people.
When he got to his locker Mike was already there, dangling his car keys and smiling. Blaine liked it when Mike smiled at him; it made him feel like less of a screw up. They walked out of the school and to the car before he finally had to ask.
“Where are we going?”
“I told you, it’s an adventure.”
“So it’s a surprise?”
“Yup, for both of us, that’s what makes it an adventure!”
Blaine blinked back at him. This was a side of Mike Chang he had never seen before. Blaine was the crazy adventurer. Blaine was the man without a plan. Mike made plans as to how he was going to walk down the hall. He wrote up schedules for everything. Sure, when his emotions kicked in he ran on instinct, but the rest of the time he was fairly Type A. Despite his hesitation, he got into the passenger’s seat of Mike’s car. They drove for a while before he began to inspect the inside of the car for clues. His eyes were immediately drawn to the cliché wicker basket sitting in the back seat.
“Your idea of an adventure is a picnic?”
“No, I just figured we should eat, as it is lunch time.”
“And the basket?”
“Is what my mother handed me the moment I mentioned the word picnic. It was sitting in the basement under an unopened box of fireworks and an American flag.”
Blaine considered this briefly before deciding not to ask. He had always wanted to go on a picnic. Mind you, that had been with Kurt, but he couldn’t really complain—he had a cute boy taking him—no. Not a cute boy, his best friend. His best friend Michel Chang was taking him on an adventure. They drove for a bit longer until Mike seemed satisfied with their location. He got out of the car, grabbed the basket and waited for Blaine.
You could call the little area where they had stopped a park, perhaps, if you squinted and turned your head sideways. It appeared to have once been a park at least. Now it was overgrown, the grass knee high in some places. There was a rusted swing set and some monkey bars, and right in the middle was a large tree. But this wasn’t any ordinary tree, not by the definition of the word Blaine had come to accept. For starters it was huge, but that wasn’t the strange part. It had branches and leaves and bark, like most other trees, but at the base of the trunk, there was a hole. Not like a hole he’d seen in any other tree. It was like something out of a fairytale. It was tall and wide enough to fit several grown men comfortably.
“Are you coming?”
Mike was standing next to the tree. In Blaine’s mind, this confirmed that it was in fact, real. He approached it cautiously, as if it could disappear at any moment. When he stood next to it he couldn’t help but press his hand up against it, just in case.
“I was worried you got lost in the tall grass.”
“You aren’t that much taller than me Mr Chang.”
“At least four inches. At least. Also, this tree is entirely real, so you can stop feeling it up and get in here.”
Mike had stepped into the tree while Blaine had been distracted by it. He had also lit a few candles.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to burn the tree down. The air’s too damp. Come, sit.”
Mike was proving to have an uncanny knack for identifying Blaine’s worries before even he did.
“So, how did you find this place?”
“I used to live here.”
“You used to live in a tree? And they call me a hobbit.”
“No silly, I lived in a housing development behind those trees. They tore down all the houses to build a mall or something, but the deal fell through. I moved, but I started coming back here when I got older.”
“And the tree?”
“Manmade, sadly. I still really like it though. Anyway, enough of the past, let’s eat!”
Mike opened the picnic basket to reveal a rather large array of food. There were grapes, cheese and crackers, peanut butter sandwiches, and a little cooler filled with sushi.
“I thought you were Chinese.”
“I like Asian things…”
He trailed off for a second, seemingly lost in thought, but also not breaking eye contact with Blaine. Then he seemed to realize what he was doing and blushed, looking away.
“What I mean is that just because I am one nationality, does not mean I can’t appreciate what others have to offer.”
“Of course it doesn’t Michel. I love sushi, thank you for bringing it.”
“Oh, there is a food that you love?”
“Quite a few actually; despite recent problems food and I have had, we used to have a lovely relationship.”
“Yup. Three meals a day, every day—for the most part—until I was thirteen, but you know the story from there.”
“Actually, I don’t. I wasn’t there when Kurt told everybody. I only know what you told me.”
Blaine took a grape from the basket and inspected it thoroughly before popping it into his mouth.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“No, I want to, it’s just… How important to you are your afternoon classes?”
“Entirely miss able, at least for you.”
“Okay then, let me tell you about how I became officially recognized as mentally unstable.”
They spent the entire afternoon in that tree. Even when it started raining, Mike continued to listen intently to Blaine’s every word as he explained the history of his eating disorder more thoroughly than he had to anyone in months. And when he was done he realized something.
“I don’t want to get better for Kurt anymore. I don’t have to.”
“So you’re not going to?”
“No, I’m going to do it for myself. Or at least try to.”
For a few moments the only noise was the rain.
"Don’t tell your parents, okay?"
"Don’t worry, everything you say here stays between you, me and Arthur."
"You named the tree Arthur?"
"No, Arthur named the tree Arthur. He was my first crush actually. He had blond ringlets and spoke mostly in questions."
"Would he be jealous of you taking me here?"
"I doubt he remembers the tree, much less me."
"You don’t sound too disappointed."
"We were eight. I’ve had plenty of time to get over him."
They packed up and ran back through the tall grass to the car to avoid getting too wet. Mike dropped him off at his house, reminding him to eat dinner and telling him to consider reading his text messages. When he did he was quite surprised. He had one from Puck (sucks about you and kurt, halo at my place?), one from Finn (even though you’re not dating my brother, we can still be friends, right?), one from Mercedes (kurt is my boy, but i’m always here for you bb), one from Brittany (Now that you’re not dating kurt, wanna make out?) and even one from Santana (C’est la vie frodo). The messages continued in this fashion, a combination of sympathies and hang out requests. He responded to each of them, saying that he was fine, and they would hang out soon, before he realized there wasn’t one from Kurt. His twelfth message was a coupon code for some online store. He preoccupied himself with thoughts from that afternoon to distract himself. And try as he might, Blaine couldn’t help but be jealous of the little boy who spent his formative years in a tree with Mike Chang.