Midnight Mettle

Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. Or Darren Criss, because he will forever be separate from the Glee universe in my mind. Starkid all the way. :)

Note: I know I should totally be catching up on my so awfully behind NaNoWriMo novel right now, but this has to be written. It's eating away at my brain. My first Glee fanfic, which is sort of weird considering how much I love the show. Anyways.

Blaine seems like the kind of guy who would just show up. Just saying.

Mettle: boldness, strength of character. Synonym: Courage.

Kurt didn't know he was that strong. Pushing Karofsky away from him had felt like some superhuman force ripping through his arms, and Kurt hadn't even been able to flinch when the hockey player had slammed the locker before rushing from the room. The smaller boy just stood there, trembling fingers against his trembling lips, as his brain tried to keep his body from collapsing, throwing up, or even both at once.

He definitely felt like he was going to be sick. Kurt also felt incredibly light-headed, and it takes several minutes of slow deep breaths before Kurt can begin to think about putting one foot in front of the other. But eventually his motor functions return, and before he really knows it Kurt is sitting in his car, turning on the ignition, and ripping away from McKinley High's parking lot.

He makes it home on autopilot, which also carries him down the stairs and into his room. He doesn't bother placing his shoes in their usual neat place beside the door; just kicks them off and tumbles into bed with a sort of unceremonious hair-mussing and clothing-creasing that would have made the Kurt of twenty minutes ago cringe in disgust. But the Kurt of the present really doesn't care. Which proves just how far gone he is, doesn't it?

Two? Or three? Two or three hours later Kurt's dad returns home from the garage. Kurt had long ago memorized the sound his father's arrival routine. Door slam. Sigh. Keys clatter into the small crystal bowl on a table by the door. A scuffle as Burt removes his shoes, followed by the rustle of his jacket being taken off as well. Burt's heavy footsteps make their way steadily into the kitchen. The refrigerator door opens, and glass clinks as the man reaches for a beer. Except now the only thing he can drink is apple juice. So presumably Burt grabs an apple juice.

A buzz, a click, and the TV is now on in the living room. The couch groans as Burt settles down.

Three, two, one.

"Kurt? You down there?"

"Yeah Dad." The steadiness of his own voice calling up surprises him.

"How was school?"

Steady. "Fine. I'll be up in a while to start dinner, alright?"

"Take your time."

Kurt makes it through dinner and glazes over homework assignments that really—like most things at McKinley—aren't challenging in the least. Eventually his father makes his way down to his son's room to wish him goodnight.

"Sleep tight, son."

Kurt smiles thinly at his dad, who tilts his head and narrows his eyes. "You alright, Kurt?"

"Yeah," the boy replies, again surprised at the ease in which these lies pass from his lips. "Just a long day, is all."

"Get some sleep."

"I will."

And then Kurt is left alone with nothing but an almost frightening sort of numbness. After his mandatory pre-sleep skincare routine, the boy finds himself wide awake, staring up at the dark ceiling from his bed. Midnight passes in silence, followed soon after by the bright red digits of one AM. And then two. And then Kurt realizes that it's getting hard to breathe. He feels sick again. The taste of Karofsky overwhelms his mouth, making Kurt's eyes water.

Don't cry.

He looks over at his nightstand, where his iPhone sits rescued from certain death by that girl who'd been so shocked at Kurt's sudden date with the row of lockers that afternoon. He doesn't even know her name. This thought only serves to make the boy feel worse. Kurt's hand shakes as he slides the unlock bar across and reads the last thing open on his phone before suffering Karofsky's abuse.

Courage – Blaine

His thumb hovers over the Call button. Kurt realizes his screen is blurry, and swipes angrily at the tears swimming in his eyes. The clock reads 2:47 AM. Kurt takes ten deep, slow breaths. Followed by another ten.

Don't cry. Don't you dare cry, Kurt Hummel. No reason for him to think you're more of a weakling than you already are.

Blaine picks up on the third ring.

"Kurt?" The other boy's voice is thick with sleep. Kurt can feel the stab of guilt digging sharply in his gut.

"Blaine?" He's whispering; partly because of the hour and mostly because it's as loud as he can go without his voice cracking. And somehow it doe anyway. Damn it.

"Kurt?" It's as though someone flipped a switch. Blaine's tone is sharper, clearer; devoid of all fogginess that usually comes with calls after two AM. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

The younger boy somehow manages a choking, sobbing sort of laugh. "I-I'm sorry. I shouldn't have called. I just—"

"Hey." Kurt swallows thickly, effectively silenced. "What did I say when we exchanged numbers yesterday?"

He remembers the conversation vividly; remembers the gentle half-smile on Blaine's face and the Harry Potter poster that was the background of his phone. "Call anytime you need to," he gets out almost automatically, feeling a bit like a machine forced to repeat the words it had been taught. "Doesn't matter if it's four in the afternoon or three in the morning."

"Exactly. Still stands, Kurt. Now, do you want to tell me the reason you called right now, or shall we just dance around it for a while?"

Kurt can imagine very clearly the lift in the corner of Blaine's mouth. Shame burns like acid in his throat. He sucks in a breath, wincing because even he can hear the catch over the roaring of his heartbeat in his ears. "I-I..."

"Deep breaths, alright? Take your time." A long pause in which the elder boy's steady breathing is just audible over the sound of Kurt's hiccups. "Kurt?"

"Yes?" he gasps, still fighting for some semblance of control.

"It's okay to cry."

Blaine is silent once again as Kurt tilts his head back on his pillow, feeling the tears slide, nearly burning, against the edge of his face. A few pool in his ear. Kurt's arm goes slack, and his phone hits the pillow next to his ear with a soft thump. The boy lifts his other, shaking hand to his mouth in an attempt to muffle the horrible, broken sound erupting from a place deep inside where Kurt is afraid to go.

Several minutes later—maybe three, maybe twenty—Kurt's phone buzzes. A message. Newly upset that Blaine may have hung up on him (and then kicking himself because it's three in the freaking morning) , the boy reaches blindly until his fingers knock against the cool metal. Without even bothering to turn his head, Kurt brings the phone closer to his face. It's a photo, and upon closer inspection, he realizes it's Blaine. Except, it doesn't look at all like the Blaine who'd (amazingly) sung Teenage Dream with the Dalton Academy Warblers.

This Blaine's hair is messy, sticking up in soft, unassuming little curls all around his head. The ghost of a five o'clock shadow lines his pale face, but despite all this strange unfamiliarity, Kurt draws comfort from the bright, disarming depth of Blaine's dark eyes and the warmth of his crooked smile.

The call is still going.

Courage. The word rings inside his head, drawn out with the syllables of his heartbeat.

So Kurt renews his grip on his phone, bringing it to his ear and blurting, "Karofsky kissed me," before his brain can catch up to his mouth; before he can mention how gorgeous Blaine is, perhaps most especially at something past three in the morning.

A beat. "The neanderthal?"

Kurt has to stamp down the shame again. "Yes. I did what you said. I called him out. I ran after him and he was going to hit me but instead h-he—" The boy breaks off. He can't repeat it.

It might be the exhaustion, but he swears he hears Blaine whistle, low and long in disbelief. "Did he...Did he hurt you? Physically, I mean."

"Not more than usual." The readiness of that sentence is kind of disturbing.

"What the hell does that mean?" The sudden sharpness of Blaine's makes Kurt start a little.

"He likes to shove me in the halls. It's not...it's not a big deal."

Blaine sighs audibly. "Are you alright?"

Kurt opens his mouth to say 'Fine,' but bites it back. Of course he isn't fine. Words tumble out of his mouth of their own volition. "I can still taste him. I feel disgusting."

"You should brush your teeth. Scrub him out with some toothpaste."


"I'm serious. Go brush your teeth again. I'll be right here when you get back."

Too stunned to do anything but obey, Kurt lifts his aching head and stumbles towards the bathroom. He'd brushed his teeth several hours ago before falling into bed, but now Kurt scrubs until his gums are red and raw and he's almost gagged several times from driving his toothbrush too far over his tongue. Now quite more awake, the boy makes his way back to bed, returning his phone to his ear.


"Feel any better?"

"A little," he admits. "Although now I'm sort of wide awake."

"Yeah, sorry about that. Side effect."

"You should go," Kurt says, glancing at the clock that now reads 3:24 AM. "It's late."

"No way, kid. I'm staying right here."

"Blaine..." All sorts of protests rise, but for some reason Kurt doesn't say any of them.

"Kurt. I mean it. I am going to be breathing all sorts of creepy in your ear until you fall asleep. I'm not letting you stay up all hours of the night staring at the ceiling."

"Seriously?" Despite everything, the younger boy manages to lift a single, dubious eyebrow.

"Not about the creepy breathing. But the rest, yes. I'm not going anywhere."

Too worn out to argue, Kurt just settles into a more comfortable position. "Fine."

There's that practically audible smile again. "Alright then."

Kurt closes his eyes, trying to concentrate on the rhythm of Blaine's breathing in the hopes that it will lull him to sleep. Minutes pass.

"Are you singing?"

A faint chuckle. "Maybe."

"You're crazy," Kurt whispers, pulling the covers closer to his chin.


Deep breaths. The tension in Kurt's muscles begin to unfurl.

The last thing he remembers hearing is to make it through.

When Blaine calls the next afternoon during Kurt's lunch period, he is surprised. Even if it is pleasantly so.

"Hey." Kurt wants to say more, to thank Blaine for the absurdity of the hour in which the elder boy's kindness wound around him like the faint smell of his mother's perfume. But 'Hey' is the only thing that comes out.

"You're on your lunch break, right?"

"Um, yes. How did you know that?"

"Never mind. Meet me outside?"

"What? Aren't you at Dalton?"

"Parking lot, Kurt."

Confused and strangely anxious, the boy pockets his phone and darts out the closest doors. Standing in the parking lot in his Dalton uniform is Blaine, looking for all the world as if he's daring anyone to tell him he doesn't belong. A yearning and a jealousy that Kurt doesn't really understand makes his heart trip over its normally steady pace. Instead of standing there and trying to sort out his feelings, he hurries over.

"What are you doing here?"

Blaine's eyes are dark with intent as he smiles a little belligerently. "Thought I'd help you talk to...what's his name? Karofsky?"

The blood rushes from Kurt's face. "Blaine. You don't have to—"

"Kurt." It's a tone that leaves no room for argument. "Just talking, okay? Trust me. You do trust me, don't you?"

The younger boy's bright blue eyes widen as some of that colour returns to his cheeks. It's hard to look Blaine in the eye, but Kurt still gets out a small "Yes."

Blaine's gaze softens as he reaches out and claps Kurt hard on the back. "Good. Now lead the way."

Author's Note: A hug, despite how much I felt like writing one, seemed a tad much. It has only been a few days, right? We've only seen Blaine for a grand total of about fifteen minutes, maybe even less, so this is all pure speculation. If anyone is curious, the song Blaine sings is called "Not Alone," featured on A Very Potter Musical and on Darren's EP called Human. Super overdone, but we're all honestly Starkids through and through. :)

But I'm totally rooting for Klaine. I mean honestly. How could you not?