Disklainer: I own nothing and I never will. Now that the depressing facts are in the open, let's get on with the story!
'5 … 4 … 3 … push it, Blaine! … 2 … 1 … Stop! Well done, Blaine! Excellent work!'
Blaine let out a huge, shuddering breath and hopped off the exercise bike, his legs shaking with exhaustion. A bottle of water was thrust in his direction and he took it, gasping for breath, and drank eagerly.
'Your fitness is improving!' his coach beamed, throwing him a towel, 'of course, you're not at your peak yet, but you're getting there!'
Blaine didn't answer, using one hand to grip the handle of the bike as the other ran the towel over his soaking skin. He listened to his coach prattle on cheerily, trying to steady his breathing.
Martin Ortiz cut an impressive figure; he was a big man of about six foot one, with closely shaven hair and piercing blue eyes. He had an even more impressive career record; thirty-two career wins, most of those by knockout, and almost half of those within the first round. Supremely fit and intense in his trainings, he'd coached Blaine from the start of his career, building him up towards what would be the most important fight of his life.
The featherweight championship.
So far, Blaine was undefeated, but he wasn't at the top. Not just yet. There was only one person in his way and Blaine was determined to make that title his.
Blaine, for his part, was a very handsome boy, the type you wouldn't associate with fighting. With his short, curly hair – which was usually gelled down when he wasn't training – and his burning hazel eyes and charming smile, he looked more like a dapper prep school boy than a fighter.
But of course, looks could be deceiving. Blaine used to be a student at Dalton Academy, Westerville's all-boys boarding school, and he was indeed a charming, dapper boy but he was vicious. He might have been a little short, but he knew where and how to hit, and his skill surpassed any boy he'd ever fought. He'd always been interested in fighting, and when he was seven his father signed him up for kickboxing lessons, having been a professional himself when he was younger. It was a legacy he had to continue; the Anderson boys knew how to pack a punch.
'You're really trying, Blaine,' Martin commented fondly, reaching out to tousle the boy's hair, 'you really want to do this, don't you?'
Blaine nodded, having regained his breath, 'this is my dream, Martin. This is everything we've been working towards.'
'Your father would be so proud.'
Blaine blinked back the tears that had instantly pooled, and he gave another jerky nod. Martin looked at him sympathetically, before clapping him on the shoulders.
'Hit the shower, buddy. We're done for today.'
They were cutting it short, Blaine realised, and he wished they weren't. He wished they wouldn't treat him like broken glass every time the subject of his father was breached.
Jonathan Anderson was his idol; an amazing fighter, an amazing father and an amazing person. His smile was contagious and never left his face; he was supportive and strong and everything Blaine wanted to be.
That summer, he had been driving with him. Just a drive – they'd been hungry and wanted take-out and Jon had insisted Blaine drive, seeing as he'd just brought his first beat-up car and was incredibly eager to take it everywhere.
The crash should have killed him, not his father.
Blaine would never forget the screeching of metal, the shattering of glass and the look on his father's face as the light left his eyes for the last time. The wounds were still fresh, too fresh, but treading lightly around the subject only made it hurt more.
But he pushed those thoughts aside, heading for the showers. He indulged a little, letting the scalding water run over his muscles for more than he should have, the steam and the heat relaxing him from his grueling workout. Martin was relentless sometimes, and with such an important fight in mere months, he was pushing Blaine to his limits every day. His body was exhausted, broken but he knew it was necessary. He had to do this for not only himself, but his father, too.
He used to talk about his dreams with his father when he was younger. He wanted so badly to be just like him, to have the title, the recognition, the honor. His father was his mentor and his best friend, but when he died, Martin became like a second father to him. He'd known Martin most of his life – their fathers used to fight together as kids – and looked up to the man just as much.
Blaine left the showers twenty minutes later and went to find Martin for their usual post-training pep talks. He found him by the bags, instructing a boy who looked to be a few years younger than Blaine how to kick properly. He spotted Blaine and excused himself, heading over to the boy with a grin plastered on his face.
'Hey champion!' he greeted him, with another clap on the shoulder. Blaine smiled weakly at him.
'You shouldn't toss that word around,' he reprimanded lightly, 'you may end up jinxing me.'
Martin laughed then; a deep hearty chuckle.
'Jinx?' he repeated, his tone slightly incredulous, 'son, there is no way you can be jinxed. You're going to win. You're going to make it to the top.'
Blaine smiled properly at this, flattered by his coach's confidence in him. He leaned against the cage of the ring behind him.
'Do you believe you can do it?' Martin asked, suddenly eyeing him seriously.
Blaine didn't answer straight away. He was scared and nervous and he still had some tiny doubts in the back of his mind, but he believed in himself. He believed in his talent and he believed in the passion he felt for fighting. He nodded.
'I think so.' he replied softly, 'I really think I can do this.'
His competition was a seventeen year old boy named Alexei Rukovskaya, a Russian who was absolutely ruthless in his attacks. His ground game was spectacular, but from what Blaine had seen, he wasn't too flashy on his feet. Either way, this boy was bigger than him, probably stronger than him and would do whatever it took to get him on the ground.
Blaine's ground work needed a bit of tuning. He was quick on his feet – nearly all his fights ended with a kick to the head on his behalf – he was a kickboxer first and foremost, after all – and he was merciless with his punches, punishing his opponents with every blow.
Martin chose then to turn the subject away from fighting, 'so how do you feel about starting at McKinley tomorrow?'
Blaine shrugged and took a drink from his bottle, wiping his mouth after he did so.
'Partial to it,' he replied offhandedly, 'I mean, I'm going to miss Dalton like hell, especially my Warblers but… a new start would be nice.'
'At least people aren't going to give you trouble,' Martin winked, 'and who knows? You might find a nice guy while you're there.'
Blaine snorted at this, 'apart from Jeff and Nick, I think I'm the only openly gay teenage boy in Ohio. I'll save romance for when I move somewhere more… accepting.'
Martin frowned slightly, and Blaine knew he felt sorry for him. Sure, he got lonely sometimes, especially after hanging around Nick and Jeff for too long – the two had been dating for years and were fantastically happy with each other – but he had to focus on his fighting, and he had no place for a boyfriend in his life right now.
Not that I could find one, he thought bitterly, I daresay anybody would be interested in me.
He was nervous about moving schools though. He'd had a horrible experience at Westerville High School before he'd transferred to Dalton Academy, being bullied constantly for his sexuality. Sure, he'd been able to fight them off quite easily – they'd underestimated him and pushed him around one too many times and he'd had just about enough of it – and he was apprehensive about returning to a public school. Apart from that, he'd lost his father and he was going to lose his friends in a very short space of time and he wasn't sure how well he'd be able to handle that.
But he was a fighter. He'd fought his way through a public school before – and that was at least two years ago, his fighting had improved dramatically since then – and he could do it again. He would do it for his mother and Martin and his father, who he knew was watching over him, proud no matter what he did.