Summary: When Burt and Carole applied to be foster parents they knew their life was going to change, not just for them but for their 6 year old sons as well. But when they take in Blaine and Cooper Anderson, two boys taken from their abusive parents, they’re taken onto a new journey they never imagined. They knew it was going to be hard, they knew it would be rewarding…but they never thought they’d fall in love so completely and totally so quickly.
Burt wasn’t sure what had awoken him. All he could hear was the echo of a scream from his dream, a distant cry of a child. He lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, heart racing. What had he been dreaming? He couldn’t even remember. All he could remember was that cry, that soft high-pitched scream.
He scrambled his brain trying to think of why he would have awoke so quickly, when a soft sound made him stop. He couldn’t quiet diagnose what the sound was, but it wasn’t a normal sound of the night. It was soft, but it was…strange.
That was when it hit the father like a slap to the face. The scream wasn’t in his dream.
Without thinking, Burt sat up quickly, knocking back his blankets. In the process, Carole stirred. “What’s wrong?” She asked, voice soft from sleep. “Burt?”
“Nothing, hon.” Burt said, standing. “Go back to sleep.”
She sat up on her elbows, now more awake, “Are you sure? Nothing’s wrong?”
Burt shook his head, “Nothing—nothing, I just thought I heard something. I’m gonna check on the boys.”
Carole paused for a moment, then nodded. “It’s the first night. There’s bound to be some nightmares.”
Burt sighed heavily, “After all they’ve been through, who could blame them?”
“I meant for you.” Burt paused, raising an eyebrow at his wife. She smiled, shook her head. “Just go check on them.” She said, falling back against her pillows. “Tell me if something’s wrong?” She added after a moment, and Burt couldn’t help but smirk. He knew Carole was just as overly concerned as he was.
Without another word, the father walked from the room. He silently padded down the hall, poking his head into Kurt and Finn’s rooms as he passed. He was thankful to find they were fast asleep – for once, the father was thankful those boys were harder to wake than the dead. Burt made his way to the end of the hall, to the room with the door open halfway. Burt didn’t even make it fully to the door when he heard it. It was soft, barely audible, but Burt could hear it.
…in dreams you will lose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep.
Burt froze in the doorway, peering in slowly. On the bed, Cooper was sitting up, right in the middle. In his arms, Burt almost didn’t see him, sat Blaine. He was curled against Cooper’s chest, Cooper holding him tight. His little head was tucked under Cooper’s chin, and Cooper was rocking him slightly.
No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, a dream that you wish will come true…
Burt took a step back, pressing a hand on his mouth. Cooper was singing to Blaine. Burt hadn’t dreamt the scream. Blaine had actually screamed, clearly woken from a horrible nightmare. And now Cooper was singing Blaine back to sleep. And if Burt wasn’t imagining it, he was sure he heard the little guy sniffling, calming down from tears.
Burt bit his lip hard. He couldn’t interrupt a moment like this. He may be their foster father but he wasn’t their family…not yet. Hell, Blaine hadn’t even spoken one word to him yet. Those brothers were each other’s anchors, Burt wasn’t part of the equation yet. So, the father stepped away from the door and allowed the brothers their privacy. He made his way back to his bedroom, his heart heavy and mind reeling with far too many thoughts. He wasn’t sure how he was going to make things ok for these boys, but he was going to do it. Somehow, some way, he was going to make things ok. He was going to make sure one day those boys would be able to sleep at night without any nightmares. He had to make things ok, not just for them but for himself too.
“Everything ok?” Carole mumbled as Burt climbed into bed. She curled around her husband and he lay down in bed, staring at the ceiling once again.
“It will be.” Burt whispered, more to himself than to his wife, “It will be.”
When Blaine opened his eyes, it took him a moment to realize where he was. He was wrapped up in his brother’s arms, his favorite way to sleep, but he wasn’t at the facility. He was in a nice big bed in a nice big room. His room. His and Cooper’s room.
I didn’t dream it.
Blaine sat up, carefully detaching himself from his brother’s arms, and looked around the room, taking in the light walls and the cute decorations. The sun streamed in lightly through the curtains, and Blaine had an overwhelming sense of calm as he looked around.
He looked from the room, down to his brother who still lay asleep beside him. Cooper’s hair lay in his eyes, disheveled from sleep, and his arms still lay around Blaine, still touching him ever so slightly even after Blaine detached himself. Looking from the room to his brother to the room to his brother, Blaine almost felt a smile tugging at his lips.
This is real. I didn’t dream it.
Blaine carefully scooted to the edge of the bed, trying to be careful not to wake his brother. Usually, Cooper was awake long before Blaine, ready to help him get ready for the day. I won’t need his help today. I can let him sleep! Excitedly, the five-almost-six-year-old carefully scurried to the door. But as he hit the door he paused, remembering wait, would Mr. Burt be ok with this?
Blaine looked back and forth between the bedroom and the hallway. The bedroom, the hallway, being a good boy, and possibly being a bad boy. Blaine took a soft, shaky step into the hall. He waddled for a second, going back and forth between taking a step down the hall and then back to the door. He wasn’t sure what he was allowed to do. Should he stay in bed and wait for Mr. Burt to tell him what to do? Mr. Burt seemed kind of nice, much nicer than anyone else Blaine had ended up with, surely…he wouldn’t get mad at Blaine would he?
That’s what you thought about daddy sometimes, the five year old reminded himself. Daddy would smile and you’d think everything would be ok, but then he’d take off his belt and everything was bad.
He shook his head almost violently, his curls falling against his forehead. He thought of Mr. Burt’s smile, his gentle voice. He tried to think of Mr. Burt hurting him. Blaine knew he could, maybe would…but Blaine didn’t want to believe it. He took Cooper and Blaine. He didn’t separate them. He gave them a bedroom. He gave them toys. He made them dinner. He gave them brothers.
Blaine bit his lip. Mr. Burt seemed so different, so nice. But could he be just like the others.
Blaine’s legs twitched, he did an odd little panicked dance in the hallway, not moving but staring at his bedroom. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t alone. “Blaine?”
The five-year-old jumped, panic filling him and breath quickening. He turned to see Mr. Burt standing in the doorway of his bedroom. He wore his pajamas and a robe, clearly he just woke up too. Blaine’s breath caught in his throat. This was it, this was the test. Was Mr. Burt’s smile real, or was he going to hurt Blaine?
“Are you ok, son?”
Blaine shrank back a little, unconsciously, as Mr. Burt took a step toward him. It was that word, ‘son’. Cooper didn’t like that word. Whenever anyone used that word Cooper got rigid and his hugs hurt. Blaine wasn’t sure what was wrong with it but he knew it was a bad word for them.
But Mr. Burt…his voice was gentle.
Blaine glanced to his bedroom. “Do you have to go to the bathroom, buddy?” Mr. Burt asked. Blaine looked back to him and shook his head. “Is something wrong? Is Cooper sick?” Blaine bit his lip, shaking his head. Mr. Burt was so nice, his voice was so soft, there was no way he’d hurt Blaine, right?
Blaine didn’t even shrink back as Mr. Burt came and knelt in front of him. “What’s the matter, buddy?” Blaine bit his lip even harder, looking to the floor, to his bedroom, back to the floor. He didn’t know if he should say, what he should even say. “You know, Blaine?” The child slowly lifted his eyes to look at Mr. Burt. “Blaine, this is your home too. I told you that and I meant it. You can go anywhere you want, do whatever you want. You don’t have to worry about getting in trouble, ok?”
Blaine stared at Mr. Burt in awe for a moment, how had he known?
Mr. Burt’s smile was back and Blaine didn’t question it this time…it made him feel at ease. “So Blaine.” Mr. Burt said, standing up, “What do you want to do?”
Blaine paused, glancing back to his bedroom, wishing Cooper was there. Cooper always knew what Blaine wanted to say, always knew if it was ok or not. But Cooper was sleeping…and Blaine was going to help him, he’d almost forgotten that was what he’d wanted to do that morning.
“I…” Blaine started slowly, voice quiet, “I want to make Coopy breakfast.”
Mr. Burt’s eyes lit up at that. He looked happier than Blaine had seen him yet. Blaine felt a smile start to tug at his lips too, Mr. Burt looking so happy made him happy too. “Well, let’s go make him breakfast, then!” Mr. Burt said excitedly. And then, he held out his hand and Blaine hesitated, only for just a second, before reaching up and taking Mr. Burt’s hand.
It was rough, but not like daddy’s hands had been rough. Daddy’s hands had been soft. The skin of his hands had been smooth, not a mark on them. But the way they touched Blaine was anything but soft. His touch was a lie – it looked tender, kind…but then it stung, it hurt.
Mr. Burt’s touch was different. His hands looked rough, large, almost intimidating. But their hold was soft. It was gentle. He cradled Blaine’s hand in his like it was the most precious, fragile thing in the world. It didn’t hurt, it was the opposite of hurt. It was…was it love?
Blaine glanced from their entwined hands up to Mr. Burt, who was looking down at him with the kindest smile Blaine had ever seen from anyone but Cooper. “C’mon, buddy.” He said warmly, “Let’s go make breakfast.”
Cooper awoke suddenly, he wasn’t sure what jerked him awake, but he was awake now. “Morning, Blainey.” He mumbled as he blinked himself awake, reaching over to pat where Blaine had been.
His heart stopped in his chest and he noticed his brother wasn’t there.
He shot up, looking around the room, expecting to see a shitty, tiny bedroom filled with other foster kids and poor lighting. That was usually what he saw when Blaine wasn’t beside him. But as he looked around, that wasn’t what he saw. He saw blue walls and light streaming through decorative curtains and a room designed especially for him and his little brother.
So…where was his little brother?
Cooper knew he shouldn’t panic. A rational part of his brain told him that this was a safe place, Blaine was probably in the bathroom or something. It’s not like he was locked in a closet or being beaten with a belt.
But still, Cooper found himself unable to breathe as he threw back the sheets and bolted for the door. As he rushed down the hall he glanced into each room, seeing Kurt, Finn, and Carole all still asleep in their respective room. Cooper thought maybe he should be thankful for that, to think that this was a real place that he hadn’t dreamt, he was still here. But the panic coursing through him since his brother was out of his sight was stopping that.
Cooper flew down the stairs, actually pretty quiet about it since he barely touched each step. He rounded the banister, nearly colliding with the wall as he turned the corner. He found himself stopping dead though as he hit the kitchen doorway.
There, standing on a stool in front of the counter, was Blaine.
The five year old was currently swaddled in an apron, trying to conquer the too-large spatula in his hands while wrestling with a pancake on the skillet in front of him. But that wasn’t what was what made Cooper freeze. It was the gentle way Burt stood behind him, the way Blaine was leaning into the father’s chest for support, the way Burt’s hands gently covered Blaine’s and helped him flip the pancake. But most of all, it was the big, excited, genuine smile on Blaine’s face.
In unison, Burt and Blaine looked up at the same time. Blaine’s smile grew even more as he took in his brother, his face looking ready to crack in half. “Coopy!” He said excitedly. Cooper watch as Burt took a step back, taking the spatula and releasing Blaine as he hopped down from the stool and ran to his brother, nearly tripping on his apron. “Coopy, we’re making you pancakes!”
Cooper stood frozen, unsure of how to react to the situation before him. Usually, Blaine was a timid, scared little boy, only comfortable around his brother. Last night, Blaine had been terrified to look at Burt and now he was making pancakes with the guy, a huge smile on his face. What had flipped the switch in him? What had made Blaine trust the man so completely and so quickly?
At Cooper’s lack of reaction, Blaine shrunk back a little, his smile disappearing. “Did I do bad?” He whispered suddenly, hanging his head in shame, “I’m sorry Coopy.”
Cooper immediately jumpstarted, forcing himself to tune back in. “What? No! No, Blainey! You didn’t do anything wrong!” He knelt down, getting on Blaine’s level. Lifting up his little brother’s chin, he couldn’t help but smile at the flour all over Blaine’s face. Wiping it off idly with his thumb, Cooper smiled and glanced to Burt, who held a smile on his face but an odd look in his eye. “I love pancakes.” Cooper finally said, and instantly Blaine’s smile was back.
“You do?” Blaine asked eagerly, and Cooper just nodded, though he knew for a fact neither he nor Blaine had ever had pancakes. But hey – there’s a first time for everything isn’t there? “Then let’s eat ‘em!!” He turned back around rushed to the kitchen table.
Cooper straightened up, watching Blaine until he turned to look at Burt. Burt was watching him, Cooper couldn’t read the look in his eye, he wasn’t sure what the man was thinking, and at this point he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Cooper waited for Burt to make his move, waited for some kind of direction.
Finally, Burt held his hand out in a welcoming gesture. “C’mon, son.” He said quietly, “Let’s eat breakfast.”
Cooper nodded, taking the direction. Blaine had come to trust Burt but Cooper wasn’t sure he could yet. He wasn’t sure what Burt’s angle was yet. But still, he followed his brother to the kitchen table and took his seat, accepting the pancakes Burt placed on his and Blaine’s plates. Despite the inner turmoil, Cooper had to admit, this was the closest to normalcy he’d ever gotten.
And he really was excited to try pancakes for the first time.