Title: Origin of Courage
Almost all of "Role Model"
Only Tracy is mine. ^^
It's...not essential to read "Role Model" before this, but it would enhance the experience. :D

It's a testament to how much Trace Anderson loves his nephew that he even picks up his cell phone at all. It's nearing three in the morning and he has to be up in two hours and there's a very warm body puzzle-pieced to his back. But when Trace glances bleary-eyed to the backlit screen of his phone and sees that it's "The Kid" calling and that wakes him up. Blaine calling at this hour can't be anything good.

Extracting himself from the comfortable embrace (and earning a mostly-asleep whimper from his bedmate), Trace answers the call as he shuts the bedroom door behind him. "What's up, champ?" he greets, making his way for the living room.

Blaine spills out, near-hysterical and tinny, through the speaker. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's so late and I'm sorry, I wasn't going to call but then I couldn't sleep and I couldn't tell my dad about it because I don't know what his reaction would be and I don't even think I'd be able to say the actual words to him and I was just going to forget about it but…" There's a long, shaky inhale before Blaine spits out in a broken voice, full of hatred, "I can't go back there, Uncle Trace."

And Trace's heart is actually breaking because his sweet, loving, naïve, impulsive nephew, the son he never had, is crying all over the place and he's sitting on his couch, forty-miles away, instead of cradling Blaine to his chest and smoothing back his mop of curls and wiping away tears like he should be doing. "Calm down, bud. Tell me what happened, huh?"

There're several uneven inhales and then Blaine starts talking. His tone has this up-ending lilt, like every sentence is a question. "It was in the locker room today, after gym? And I was just getting dressed and keeping my head down? And I could hear these guys nearby talking about me a few lockers down but I was just ignoring them?" His voice breaks then and there's the soft rustle of fabric, sniffling. And Trace's heart breaks all over again because there's a clear sob in Blaine's voice as he starts talking again. "I don't know what I did, Uncle Trace! All of a sudden they were shoving me and I was up against the lockers and they were…saying stuff and calling me…" A rippling sob tears through Blaine's chest and Trace has to press a hand to his eyes.

"Blaine… Blaine, buddy, did you tell anyone about this?" he asks, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice.

"Yeah." There's brine in his nephew's words as he continues. "Yeah, it was all 'nothing we can do about it' and 'boys will be boys.' It's the same old…shit over and over!"

At the hiccupping gasp Blaine takes, Trace straightens up. "Blaine, breathe." He waits until he hears the boy take several deep, healthy breaths. "Now listen to me. You got to stand up for yourself, bud. You have to. Either to those kids at your school or to the administration or to your parents, all right? I'll… I'll help you, you know I will. Things either gotta change at school or you gotta get out, okay?"

There's a quiet moment of just sniffles and exhales before Blaine's voice comes through, small. "I'm just so sick of this all, Uncle Trace."

Trace swallows thickly, rubbing at his cheek. "I know, buddy," he says on a sigh. "I know, I'm sorry. Look, try to get some sleep, all right? Just… sleep on it and I'll get over to yours tomorrow for dinner and we'll see what we can do."

"All right," comes Blaine's voice, broken and child-like. "Okay. Thanks, Uncle Trace."

"Don't mention it, bud." He clears his throat and adds on, "I love you, Blaine Anderson."

"Love you, too," Blaine replies. There's a sigh and the halting sound of wanting to say something more before he finishes with just, "I'll talk to you tomorrow. 'Night," and then hangs up.

Trace never ends up back in bed. He sits and worries. He sits and thinks. He sits and (for the first time in how many years) prays. And then, just before it's time for him to get up, get a shower, get coffee, he picks up his cell phone and types out a lengthy message to his nephew. Then he deletes because none of it is right and writes out a longer message. Then he deletes all that too and settles for the only thing he can hope to send to Blaine, "Courage." It's not good enough by half but that emotion that had been in Blaine's voice when he said goodbye scared Trace and he just needs to reach out to him somehow.

A voice wavers from the bedroom, calling his name in a question and Trace sighs. He gets up, stretching a little and moving for the coffee-maker, preparing himself for a long day. And when he arrives at his brother's house that evening, Blaine bounds to the door and collides with his solid chest, burying his face away and clinging tight. Trace returns the embrace and is suddenly so happy to see the kid that he damn near starts crying with him.

AN: Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think. :]