Title: A Sibling By Any Other Name
Rating: M (starts mild, rating will go up in future chapters)
Word count: 7,743
Summary: When Blaine is forced into finding a new family, he never expected to meet the people he did. He never expected his life to turn out this way. He never expected to fall so hopelessly in love so early in life. He never expected any of this. AnderBerry siblings, eventual Klaine.
Warnings/Spoilers: A vague re-writing of canon Glee, but there are some huge differences, which you'll see as you go along. Angst, fluff, a little bit of smut.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Glee, FOX, Ryan Murphy or anything else related to the Glee universe.
When Blaine Anderson was five, he had no idea that the Tuesday he headed to school would be different from any other day. His tummy was growling and he tried not to think the bad thoughts about his parents but he was so hungry. They'd been busy last night and had forgotten to give him dinner and then this morning they'd been sleeping and there wasn't any food for breakfast. He hoped Miss Jay had an extra apple and Mandy's mom had packed some extra lunch otherwise Blaine didn't know when he was going to eat next.
His teacher had sighed and given him an apple from the bowl on her desk and he was crunching happily on it while colouring in. He had learned from the older kids that it was better if you coloured inside the lines so his tiny forehead was scrunched with concentration as he coloured as neatly as he could.
When Mr Humphrey came to the door asking to speak to Blaine, Blaine was terrified that his colouring wasn't good enough. He walked nervously beside Mr Humphrey who was so big, bigger than any man Blaine had ever seen, until they reached his office. Inside was a woman who said her name was Sandy. Blaine eyed her distrustfully as he climbed into the big chair opposite Mr Humphrey.
He didn't understand most of the conversation. Mr Humphrey explained that his parents had had a bad accident and weren't going to be able to take care of him anymore. That's why Sandy was here. She was going to take him to a new home where other children without mommies and daddies stayed. It was like a sleepover, she said. Blaine wasn't convinced by her enthusiasm but he felt really bad. What if his mean thoughts had been the reason his parents got hurt? He knew they weren't as good as other parents but they were still his parents.
Sandy helped him collect his things from his classroom where Miss Jay watched him sadly. He didn't like that look. He was going to a new place and maybe they'd feed him! Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all.
Blaine fell asleep in the car. It felt like they'd been driving forever and ever but he didn't think he could ask if they were there yet like he did when his daddy took him places. They pulled up outside a nice house that had toys all over the front yard. This was way better than the dead grass at Blaine's old house!
He met another woman who said her name was Carla. She would take care of him. Blaine nodded with wide eyes as he followed her to his new bedroom. It was bigger than his old one, but that was because he was sharing with five other children. He wrinkled his nose at the idea of other people in his space but he noted that his bed wasn't on the floor and it had a bright blue blanket on it, so at least he would be warm.
Carla gave him some toast and apple juice, then made him a peanut butter sandwich when he whispered shyly that he was still hungry. She listened to lots of big words that Sandy used which Blaine had never heard before. When Sandy left, Carla told Blaine that her husband, Jack, would buy Blaine new clothes, because they had been damaged in the accident. Blaine thought the accident must have been pretty bad and felt that horrible feeling again that it was his fault. He wondered if saying sorry would make it all okay again. His mommy would say that if he said sorry, she wouldn't hate him so much. It always made Blaine feel sad when she said that and he'd instantly say sorry to her.
Soon there were lots of children in the house, boys and girls all about Blaine's age. They stared at him curiously while he stared at his dirty shoes as Carla and Jack explained Blaine was going to stay with them a while.
He was introduced to the boys he shared his room with - Matty, Nicholas, George, Toby and Max - and two of the girls, Bridie and Emma, shook his hand too. Blaine felt a little overwhelmed by all the new names and faces, not to mention the noise. But Carla made a really yummy dinner and Blaine even got seconds, so he didn't complain. He got ready for bed without a fuss, admiring the new clothes Jack had bought him, and snuggled into the bed.
Blaine had bigger difficulties grasping the fact he had to attend a new school. The other children in his new home were there too but Blaine missed Miss Jay and Mandy. But he got breakfast and lunch and Blaine didn't think that missing a couple of people mattered that much when his tummy felt so full all the time.
He also didn't understand why some of the children disappeared for a few days and came back upset. Emma left one day with a man and a woman and never came back. Blaine tried explaining to Carla about his missing friend, but she shushed him and said it was a good thing. Blaine didn't understand why his friend leaving was a good thing at all and started doubting that Carla and Jack were as nice as he originally thought. Who took in lots of children and then didn't care when they went away? It didn't make sense.
Then one day, a young man and woman came and played with Blaine and his blocks. They asked if he wanted a new mommy and daddy and Blaine shrugged. He'd already had those and they weren't as nice as Carla and Jack. The man and woman, Tommy and Jane, took Blaine with them and he frowned with confusion as he drove away from Carla's. Was he going to the same place Emma was?
They showed him a room that was all his, no more sharing, and explained he could live there as long as he wanted. Blaine was confused but Tommy made a nice dinner and Jane tucked him into bed with a kiss.
The next eighteen months made Blaine sound like Goldilocks. He went to many homes with many mommies and daddies but he always found something he didn't like and made such a fuss that they returned him to Carla and Jack's with a shake of their head. Blaine was beginning to understand that they were looking for a child and thought he could be their son, but he'd had parents and he didn't want to be a replacement for somebody that they couldn't have normally.
The day the Berry's came though was different. They brought a little girl with them who was so loud it hurt Blaine's ears. She ran around to all the other boys before stopping at Blaine.
"Hi, I'm Rachel. Who are you?"
She stared at him with her head cocked to one side. "Do you sing?"
He thought that was a funny question. "I like the choir at school. My teacher says I sing really nice."
Rachel beamed. "Do you want a sister, Blaine?"
Another funny question. He couldn't really have a sister because his parents had gone away and he knew that the other children at Carla and Jack's weren't his siblings, so how could he get a sister?
"I don't know," he said finally.
Rachel frowned. "But I like you. You look like me. I want you to be my brother."
Blaine stared at her. She wanted him to...? He'd been to many other places in the last couple of years but he was always alone and so having someone to play with could be fun.
"Okay. Where's your mommy and daddy?"
She pouted. "I don't have a mommy. I have two daddies. I'm really special because they love me lots and lots!"
Blaine's eyes widened. Two daddies? He'd never heard of that before. And no one had ever said they loved him, even the other mommies and daddies who took him home.
Two men came over and crouched beside Rachel. "Who's this?" one asked.
"This is Blaine, Papa. I like him."
"Blaine, huh?" He held his hand out to shake Blaine's and it was big and warm. "Do you want to try living with us and Rachel, Blaine? We would love someone as beautiful as you to join our family."
Blaine blushed. He'd never been called beautiful before and the man had said love! Blaine didn't think it was real for people to say that. And the man gave him a choice! He'd never had that before.
"I...I'd like that," he replied shyly.
Rachel squealed and flung her arms around his neck. He didn't get hugs much either. He patted her back awkwardly while Rachel's daddies talked to Carla.
Rachel spent the entire trip to her house talking about all the fun they were going to have and who her friends at school were and how exciting it was that she had a brother at last! Blaine nodded and tried to listen but he'd never known someone to talk as much as Rachel so he was relieved when they arrived at his latest home and Rachel showed him around her house. He was fascinated by all the posters in her room and pictures of her friends, feeling sad that he didn't have his own pictures to display on the walls.
Dinner was really yummy and Leroy helped him into bed and told Blaine that he was loved. It made a warm tingly feeling erupt in his tummy and he fell asleep with a smile on his face.
Blaine was welcomed into the Berry household a few months before Kurt's mother died. He would see Rachel and Kurt playing dress-ups and having tea parties but Rachel would scream at him that he wasn't invited, so he'd slink away to his room and sulk.
When Kurt's mother died, Kurt stayed with them for nearly two weeks. He barely spoke or ate, and often Blaine would see Kurt pressed against Rachel's tummy and crying. She'd run her hands through his hair and sing all the songs she knew until he fell asleep, eyes swollen and cheeks flushed and damp. And Blaine would watch from the doorway with a pang of jealousy, not at Kurt for being closer to his new sister than him, but at Rachel for being able to comfort Kurt when Kurt barely seemed to notice his existence.
Deep down, Blaine felt horribly guilty. He wondered if all the mean thoughts he'd had when sulking had made Mrs. Hummel sick, like the mean thoughts had led to his parents having their accident. He started acting out to ignore the bad thoughts, trying to be louder than the bad thoughts in his head. He tried to be noisier than Rachel, singing louder and dancing harder and chatting more. Instead of being the younger brother who Kurt never noticed, Blaine became the annoyingly loud hanger-on whenever Kurt wanted to play with Rachel. He was definitely noticed, but he was noticed because he was bad. Finally Rachel had enough and told him that she didn't like him anymore and she had asked her daddies if they could return Blaine. But he wasn't like a puppy that could be returned so she had to put up with him, so could he please learn to shut up because she was more important and loved more.
Hurt and frightened, Blaine withdrew and became increasingly silent. Kurt was glad the pesky brother had learned some manners. Rachel's daddies were glad he'd gotten through his 'difficult' phase. Rachel was once again the star of the family.
Blaine didn't want to be returned. Even though he found Rachel too loud, her daddies were really nice and told Blaine they loved him every night when he went to sleep, even if he'd been really loud and bad. For once, he didn't want to go back to Carla and Jack's. He wanted to stay with Rachel and Leroy and Hiram and live with them forever and ever.
So instead of being loud, Blaine went quiet, only speaking when spoken to, only singing when asked. He perfected his grades by giving up dancing, and spent more time reading while Rachel played with her dolls and Kurt. His daddies patted his head affectionately while Rachel told them about the next competition she was entered in, and Blaine found that the guilt he had over Kurt's mother dying dissipated when he caught Kurt's first nervous smiles after his mother had died. If Kurt could be okay losing his mommy, he didn't blame Blaine. And if he could handle losing a parent, so could Blaine.
Blaine wasn't sure when he realized he was different from other boys. He heard Rachel talking about cute boys in her class like Noah and Finn, and Blaine realized that he wasn't really interested in the girls. Amy was sort of pretty and Nina was nice to him, but he didn't think about kissing them the way Rachel did. Instead, he found himself sneaking glances at Rachel's dads when they kissed, and paying more attention to James, this boy in his class who was the most popular boy in his grade. He didn't tell anyone though, not even his Leroy or Hiram, because he heard how the other children talked about two men being together and even though Blaine thought it seemed fine and normal to him, it clearly wasn't fine and normal to the other kids in his class. When it was show and tell time, he only talked about one of his dads, never mentioning his lack of a mother. He tried not to stare at the boys in his class longer than the girls. He tried not to wonder what it all meant.
When Blaine was twelve, he attended a Sadie Hawkins dance with his friend Ben. He'd asked Ben but Ben was his best friend, and neither had been asked by any girls, so they'd jokingly agreed to go together and maybe find a girl to dance with when they got there. Blaine didn't make it to the dance though. Some of the bigger boys had heard of Ben and Blaine's plan and hated it, so they beat Blaine up on his walk back to the school for the dance. He was spotted by a passing motorist who found his ID and took him to a hospital.
When his fathers and Rachel arrived, they were horrified and appalled and immediately made him move schools. Scared he would get attacked again, Blaine pleaded that he wanted to board at Dalton. With nervous glances, his fathers agreed and that's how Blaine came to start at Dalton just after the winter break.
"I can't believe he's gay," Rachel was saying over the phone as she told Blaine all about Kurt coming out.
Blaine felt strange hearing that Kurt was gay. Kurt had always been different, his voice higher and a second sense for fashion. He'd liked playing with Rachel's dolls and dressing up and Blaine hadn't really questioned it at the time. It just seemed like two friends playing. And Kurt had that quiet poise and dignity that Blaine had always felt shy around, losing his words and flushing.
"Rachel?" he interrupted her latest stream of words and she huffed at him. "What do you... Do you think it's bad that Kurt's gay?"
"What? Why? We have two dads, Blaine. Don't be ridiculous."
"So like...you don't care if people are gay?"
"Of course not! That's just silly, Blaine."
She launched into another rant but Blaine felt his thoughts drifting as her words washed over him. Was Blaine gay? Was that why sometimes he found himself staring at the other boys in his class when he should have been paying attention to the teacher? Was that why he insisted on dressing in a cubicle, because he was nervous of someone catching him gazing? Was that why the dreams that stirred his belly and left him hard with arousal when he woke usually featured a featureless, nameless shadow that was still definitely male in Blaine's mind?
He didn't hear much of Rachel's conversation, he never did, but he hung up and leaned back into his pillows with a confusing mixture of thoughts and feelings and no one he felt comfortable talking to about it.
Blaine soon found himself searching online for factsheets on sexuality. He'd always armed himself with knowledge but the clinical way that they described something so intensely personal and incredibly confusing had Blaine feeling even more lost than before.
It was late one night that he discovered a forum for gay teens in the US. Here were real people discussing their real feelings and inner conflicts. He signed up, searching for a name that wasn't his. Shaking with nerves, he entered in Jeff Smith. It was generic. No one would find him. He'd be safe. He'd describe himself like Jeff and no one would piece together that it was him. It would be fine.
Now with a username, he was able to read posts by teens across the country. His heart ached for those struggling with bullying, because he'd been so protected at Dalton for years. He found himself smiling through tears when he read about accepting friends and family, or first loves that returned feelings. He felt like he had found a place where he could unravel his confusion and he wouldn't be judged badly for it.
Liberated, he found himself posting about his feelings. He kept it vague enough that he'd never be recognised but exposed enough that he felt lighter with the confession. He was soothed by the freedom of anonymity and comforted by numerous faceless posters who just needed a place to vent.
He logged off and crawled into bed, sleeping calmer than he had in weeks.
He didn't think about the forum for a few days, because he had a huge Geometry quiz to study for and the internet was a terrible distraction. But when it was over and done with, he found himself being pulled back to the site. He typed in his login details and checked over his shoulder, even though he was alone and his dorm door was locked, and was surprised when he had a private message.
Hi Jeff, I'm Eliza. I saw your post the other night and just wanted to say to you to keep your chin up! I came out to my friends and family recently and they were way more supportive than I'd ever imagined. Things are shitty at school with people who don't accept me but for those that I really needed, I'm really grateful that they did accept me. Don't give up!
Blaine smiled and typed out a quick response before clicking on Eliza's profile. He read through some of her posts, feeling terribly sad that she remained so positive given the severity of her bullying. Blaine couldn't understand how it was possibly fair that someone as kind and caring as Eliza fell victim to such horrific bullying purely because she liked other girls. One of her posts described how she had made out with a guy from school because someone told her that she couldn't really 'know' until she'd tried it.
Something in that struck a chord with Blaine. He didn't really know because he'd never really been with either gender. He knew that the attraction wasn't really there with girls but maybe you didn't really know until you tried it?
He got his opportunity a week later when there was a Warbler party at one of the senior's houses. A bunch of the Crawford girls had come over and there was alcohol and usually Blaine avoided it but tonight he felt like he needed an escape, he needed something to block out the way he felt. He wasn't even sure what he was drinking as he switched between wine coolers and punch and beer and the world got increasingly brighter and louder as he ingested more and more alcohol.
Someone started a game of Spin The Bottle and Blaine fell on the floor to get involved. This is what he wanted. This is what he needed. A chance to make out with either gender and not get judged for it later. He could figure himself out and it would be glorious.
It began tame, small pecks on the cheek with both genders were a warm-up to the main rounds of heavy kissing or making out, depending on how drunk each participant was. Blaine didn't find kissing a girl or a guy particularly different. Maybe he wasn't gay, or straight. Could he be…he was so drunk he forgot the word. Non-sexual? Uninterested in everyone?
There were shots of tequila for those playing before the next round, and Blaine was starting to feel giggly and dizzy. His head rested on Thad's shoulder as his eyes blurred trying to watch the bottle go round and round and round.
He blinked his eyes open and found the bottle had landed on him. His cheeks flushed as he sat up, a girl, Chelsea he thought her name was, crawling shakily across the carpet towards him. His balance was off when her mouth connected with his and he slipped, her body collapsing against his as she kissed him. And through the haze and the repetitive action of kissing her back, he found his hands unable to settle, not knowing where it was appropriate, and feeling the press of boobs and hips and the soft flesh wasn't really appealing.
And then he was cold and Chelsea was wriggling away to sit on her side of the circle and Blaine was gazing dopily at the ceiling.
"Blaine?" Thad poked his shoulder and he jerked away, stumbling out of the circle amidst the catcalls, even though he knew that he had most definitely not been interested in kissing Chelsea. Did that mean…?
He left the living room and slumped against one of the kitchen cabinets, breathing hard as he tried to collect his thoughts and figure out if that meant that yes, he was gay. It was too much and he wished he could ask someone like Eliza what it meant, because she'd made out with that guy a few weeks ago and she had clearly figured out her feelings.
"You okay, Blainey?"
He looked up as Michael, a senior, slid down the cabinet beside him.
"Don't know," he replied, voice slurred as he attempted to create coherent sentences from the incredibly jumbled mess in his head.
"Saw you kissin' Chelsea," Michael said, bumping his shoulder lightly. "Not happy?"
Blaine shrugged, staring at the patterned floor and feeling his stomach twisting with anxieties. Rachel wouldn't care if he was gay. He had two gay dads. They wouldn't care if he was gay. Dalton accepted anyone and everyone. No one would care there either.
"Hey." Michael's hand was warm on Blaine's cheek as he tilted it towards him.
Blaine gazed at Michael's green eyes and then they closed and Blaine went cross-eyed and Michael's lips were on his and somehow, somehow it was different from kissing Chelsea and anyone else tonight, because Michael kissed back with as much force as Blaine did, and his lips were warm and rougher than Chelsea's and Blaine's mind wandered in a different direction as he just let himself feel. When Michael shifted him until he was laying back on the cold kitchen floor, Blaine heard a distant alarm but ignored it, because he needed to know, he needed to know what he liked or didn't like and the only way to know was to feel, and Michael was above him, knees on either side of Blaine's thighs, kissing him deeply and Blaine heard a moan and realised it was him and felt a ripple of embarrassment but Michael didn't seem to mind.
And unlike with Chelsea where his hands didn't know what to do, this time they gripped at Michael's shirt, and he found he was pulling Michael closer, trying to get one of Michael's legs between his because he instinctively knew it would feel better and he wanted.
"You want it?" Michael breathed between kisses, leg sliding between Blaine's thighs. He smiled when he felt Blaine rock into him and pushed Blaine into the floor harder. "You want it, Blainey?"
Blaine whimpered, the butterflies in his stomach twitching their wicked wings, and then he was gasping and scrambling away, clutching onto the countertop as he fumbled for the sink and threw up violently.
"I think Blainey's had too much alcohol," Michael told Wes, eyes dark as he watched Blaine retch again.
"Jesus, Blaine. You shouldn't have been drinking so much, you're underage!" Wes scolded, striding across the kitchen and running his hand over Blaine's back.
Michael sighed and walked out. Blaine didn't even notice as he sagged into Wes' arms, sick and exhausted and spent.
"C'mon Blaine." Wes tugged him towards a make-shift bed in the dining room where the freshman had set up camp and eased him onto the mattress. "Oi, Nick, wake up."
"Blaine's sick," Wes said, nudging Nick awake until he stared at Blaine who was pale and shaking, even as he clutched at the blankets. "I think he's had too much alcohol."
"Jesus," Nick muttered, eyes wide. He shook Jeff until Jeff's brown eyes opened owlishly and fell on Blaine.
"He doesn't look so good," Jeff whispered.
Wes grabbed another couple of blankets from the pile of spares on the dining table, tucking them around Blaine before rolling him onto his side, facing towards Nick and Jeff and pressing behind him.
"Shh…it's okay, Blaine. You're warm. You're safe," Wes hushed, stroking his fingers through Blaine's sweaty hair.
Nick crawled closer with Jeff, tucking Blaine's clammy hands between his warm ones and waiting patiently until Blaine's eyelids drooped and slipped closed, his tremors decreasing as he fell into an uneasy sleep.
"We'll take care of you, Blaine," Nick murmured, laying close to him and falling back to sleep with Jeff at his back…
The hangover hadn't been pleasant. Blaine had decided he was never, ever going to drink that much again. Through the mash of memories though was the realisation that he had liked kissing Michael and not Chelsea. That seemed to make his conflicted feelings alarmingly clearer.
As predicted, Rachel and his dads didn't care. Although Rachel told him that he'd better not be attracted to any of her taken friends because the drama with Kurt and Finn was uncomfortable enough without the problems between Finn, her, Noah and Quinn. And Quinn was pregnant! God, the drama at McKinley made Blaine glad he was gay and at an all-boys school where the chances of knocking up a good little Crawford girl were slim given that their fathers were wealthy enough to kill you and bury you and pay off anyone investigating the disappearance. Blaine shuddered at the thought of getting a girl pregnant. Of what it entailed.
Oh yes. Definitely gay.
He found less of a use for the website he'd been on now that he wasn't so conflicted. He'd drop in occasionally to see how Eliza was doing and was dismayed that even as she grew stronger, her bullying grew worse. Her choir weren't supportive of her and he desperately wished he could reach through the screen and cuddle her, remind her of her own words of keeping her head up and staying strong. But his words sounded so fake and insincere because no one at Dalton cared what he was, no one treated him any differently. In fact, he got asked out on several dates which rarely eventuated to a second, but it didn't matter because people were interested in him. And he encouraged it. He felt like he was dancing among clouds. And being so comfortable and confident in his sexuality meant that he felt horribly guilty for Eliza and the other teens suffering on the site and he found himself drifting from it because he didn't want to be dragged down by the guilt. He'd had enough of that when he was younger.
It was strange when the school year finished and he went home for the two months of summer. It was strange seeing Rachel and interacting with her so much and dealing with her continual crisis over Finn. He knew Jesse St. James from the competition circuit, had seen him at some of Rachel's performances, and struggled to fight the urge of looking him up and beating his smarmy face in, because sometimes Rachel would be talking about something Finn had done and her face would crumple and she'd be sobbing over Jesse and Blaine had no idea what to do but hold her and send silent death threats to the heavens.
He saw Kurt a few times, but it seemed there was some sort of fracture in his friendship with Rachel during the year that meant he didn't come over as much, or have sleepovers with Rachel. He tried asking Rachel but she said Kurt still struggled with his feelings towards Finn and her being together and how it was so unprofessional for Kurt to not put his feelings aside and be the better friend and support her relationship. Blaine listened, well, half-listened to his sister as always but the Kurt he saw seemed beyond sad and withdrawn, to the point of distant and even haunted. Blaine desperately wanted to talk to him but once again, he felt like he'd just be an annoying younger brother and stayed in his room most of the time when he knew Kurt was over.
Another year began and he was back at Dalton. Blaine was relieved Michael had graduated and Wes was on the council because Wes had always looked out for him and it wasn't that he wanted all the solos, but he liked having Wes' approval. He liked being selected for his charm and abilities. It didn't matter if he was gay because crowds still liked him, still clapped with their song selections and tapped their feet and enjoyed. And Blaine had always wanted to entertain. Even though he'd toned it down because Rachel was so overbearing, he enjoyed the spotlight and he enjoyed feeling like he mattered somewhere and the stage was where he found acceptance and adoration and it made him dizzy with joy.
He heard about Kurt's father having a heart attack and he wanted so desperately to visit but Rachel said it was pointless and besides, what was Blaine to Kurt anyway? It was true. He was just her younger brother and they hadn't interacted much in the holidays. Still, Blaine knew what it was like to lose both parents, something he had distinctly avoided thinking about for years, and Kurt had already lost his mother. When Rachel called a week later and said that the coma had lifted and Burt Hummel was on the mend, Blaine nearly cried with relief because he didn't want Kurt to be so young and so alone. He had his friends and he had his father and he was going to be okay.
The day he turned on the step and saw Kurt standing there was the day he was sure someone had tipped ice over his head. The Kurt standing there, flushed, nervous and near-tears wasn't the same Kurt he'd seen from a distance since he was seven. He wasn't even the same Kurt that he'd glimpsed during the holidays on his infrequent trips for glasses of water or the use of the bathroom. He stumbled over his words as he pulled Kurt towards the performance, his first for the school on lead and he felt giddy with excitement to show Kurt what he could do, what the Warblers could do. He'd seen New Directions perform. He'd heard about Rachel getting solo after solo. But this was his turn.
Somehow, thank the Gods, he stayed standing and remembered the words, but he found it difficult to tear his eyes away from Kurt throughout the singing. There were pats on the back and high fives and cheers from the boys who had watched it but Blaine found that he just wanted to get closer to Kurt, wanted to know what Kurt had thought and Kurt seemed happier, lighter, than he had when Blaine had first seen him.
When the crowd had partially dispersed, Blaine picked up his bag and ushered Kurt into the corridors.
"I didn't expect to ever see you here," Blaine said quietly as he headed for the dorms.
Kurt shrugged silently, tugging his bag higher up his shoulder as he walked beside Blaine, head focused on the marble flooring beneath their feet.
Blaine bit his lip but thought he'd wait until Kurt was back in his room, back where privacy could protect their words and maybe Kurt would talk to him. He smiled and waved at a few of the boys who passed, thanked them for their kind words of his performance before saying he needed to keep walking and he'd see them soon. He caught Kurt staring at him after each exchange but there were never any words, not even a sound, and Blaine felt increasingly anxious as he unlocked the door to his room and draped his blazer over the back of his desk chair.
"You can sit wherever you feel most comfortable," he said gently, climbing onto his bed and sitting cross-legged against the pillows. Kurt shifted nervously and walked across the room to curl up in the window seat, staring across the Dalton grounds. Blaine couldn't help himself as he watched Kurt, who was so guarded and so shielded that it almost hurt to be looking at him, because he looked like he was in so much pain.
"I know you didn't come to see me," he said, interrupting Kurt's thoughts. Kurt turned his head to blink at him. "You didn't know I had a solo today. I didn't tell Rachel. So I know you aren't here for me." He suddenly realised how incredibly conceited that sounded. "Not that I'm saying you'd come here for me anyway! God, I'm meant to be modest. I just meant like, I don't know why you're here Kurt and I…I want to. I want to know. I want to help. If I can."
Kurt eyed him critically before his gaze fell to his hands and he picked at a nail.
"McKinley sucks," Kurt said finally as his fingers laced together in his lap. "The bullying is out of control and no one in Glee even cares anymore. No one notices how many times I have to change outfits because of all the slushies that get dumped on me. No one notices that I'm exposing less and less skin because of the bruises. No one notices that my tires get slashed every other week or that the jocks yell at me in the corridors." He breathed deeply and the sob rattled in his chest and Blaine watched as the pain creased his forehead and a tear slipped down his cheek and Blaine's heart broke. "I don't want to be there anymore but I don't know what else I can do. We're doing this stupid assignment of boys versus girls but we have to sing a mashup of songs by an artist of the opposite gender and I thought I'd nail it. I'm with the guys, even though they hate me and can't deal with me and half of them were involved in the bullying before they joined Glee, but I thought I could do it. I know girls songs. It's what I do. And they rejected me. They rejected my ideas. Finn was such an ass and Puck told me to come and spy here on the competition and- shit."
"It's okay," Blaine shrugged. "I won't tell anyone why you were here."
"I wasn't spying," Kurt whispered as he wiped roughly at his cheeks. "I just wanted to see what it was like here. I wanted to see if it was as good as the website showed."
Blaine felt his heart clinch as he slid off his bed and sat on the window seat by Kurt's feet.
"What do you mean by the bruises, Kurt?"
"Caught that, did you?" Kurt laughed bitterly. "No one else seems to realise."
"I get thrown in the dumpster, okay? I get thrown in and sometimes I connect with broken bottles or bricks or other stuff that rips my clothes and skin to pieces." Kurt stared at a leaf which twirled towards the ground. "And I get shoved into the lockers more times per day than everyone else in that school combined. I've got handprints and locker grooves all over me so I hide it under my clothes."
If Rachel was blind to this, Blaine was going to open her eyes until her lids got ripped off until she would never be able to close her eyes again. And if she knew…God, he'd rip her precious vocal cords out.
He reached for Kurt's hand and then pulled back when Kurt visibly flinched away and if he thought he had a broken heart before, it was surely shattered now.
"Kurt, I won't hurt you," he whispered. It felt like he was trying to soothe a wounded animal. "You took my hand earlier too."
"I…I know that. In my heart. But…but in my head, all touch means pain now and it's…it's automatic," Kurt said with a sniffle. "I'm so sorry, Blaine."
Blaine shook his head and held his hand out, completely still and patient. Kurt chewed his lip as he stared at it and the pieces of Blaine's heart fell away because Jesus, he'd known Kurt since he was seven and okay, he might have been loud and annoying to assuage his guilt of Kurt's mom dying but he'd never, ever said a mean word to Kurt or touched him other than a brush of hands as food plates got passed or on the staircase when Blaine was home. And Kurt looked so utterly petrified.
But Blaine kept his hand there, kept it palm up and open and waited. He remembered when there had been a new kid, Charlie, a couple of years ago who the rumours said had been raped before he arrived at Dalton. They'd been given basic instructions not to startle him with sudden movements or noise and approach him gently, slowly, and as non-threatening as young teenage boys could. He'd lasted less than a year before his parents had pulled him out for intensive PTSD therapy but Blaine had used every bit of his inner calm to approach Charlie as often as he could. Just before he'd left, Blaine felt like he'd made a tiny bit of progress because Charlie looked less like a skittered rabbit every time he came near and spoke softly to him.
He was so lost in his thoughts about Charlie that he was shocked from his thoughts by the cool touch of Kurt's fingers curling into his. Kurt, who had red cheeks and shiny eyes, had trusted him enough to touch him. It didn't matter that it took more than five minutes to make the small gesture, because it meant so much to Blaine to be able to touch. And it wasn't even that he was touching Kurt. Not really. It was more that he was able to bridge a gap with someone who was so scared but had been comfortable enough to reach out when they'd first flinched back.
His fingers slid between Kurt's, gentle and undemanding, and he caught the shy smile on Kurt's lips as he stared at his hand being encased by Blaine's.
"I won't hurt you, Kurt," he murmured, thumb brushing over the back of Kurt's hand which he tried to ignore was so incredibly soft. "I'll never hurt you. You're safe here at Dalton. You're safe here with me."
Kurt's gaze moved from his hand to Blaine's face and Blaine hoped it was earnest, hoped that his honesty showed. Whatever Kurt was looking for, he didn't tear away from Blaine as fresh tears welled in his eyes.
"Kurt, can I…can I hug you? I know you're afraid and I know you're hurt but I'll be gentle, I promise."
Kurt trembled faintly, his fingers twitching with fright at the offer. Blaine didn't let go of his hand, didn't change his grip, didn't move, just waited until Kurt had worked through his fear at the thoughts rushing through his head.
This time, it took nearly ten minutes before his head nodded the slightest bit, and Blaine tugged him carefully closer until he could wrap his arms around Kurt. And he felt Kurt's fingers clench into the fabric of his school shirt, felt the quake in his shoulders as he cried quietly against Blaine's chest, but Blaine held him steady and firm, mindful of the terrible bruises that lurked beneath Kurt's clothing. His head rested against the top of Kurt's hair, trying to keep the press of his arms and hands off Kurt's back in case he found a mark that made Kurt stiffen in pain.
Blaine watched the leaves fall out the window, watched the sky get gradually darker as Kurt sobbed for what must have been an hour or more, and Blaine thought that if Rachel was blind to this, she would lose her precious vocal cords anyway.
Gradually, he felt Kurt's shaking ease and heard the sniffles lessen. He let Kurt pull away and wipe his own eyes, because he knew deep down that reaching for Kurt's face would probably make him fall off the ledge they were sitting on.
"I should get back to Lima," he whispered, voice raspy and tired as he glanced out the window.
"Can I…" Blaine looked at Kurt's hands and then at his own. "Can I give you my phone number? Please? I want you to know that no matter what, no matter what's going on or how alone you might feel, I want you to know that I'll be here. That you can call or text me at any time and I'll listen."
Kurt gazed at him again and Blaine wondered what he was searching for in his face all the time. Then he reached for the pocket of his jeans and withdrew his iPhone and handed it over for Blaine to key in his number.
He handed it back and Kurt rang it and Blaine heard it beeping from his bag.
"Now you can put in the number so you know who it is if I call you," Kurt mumbled, tapping Blaine's name into his contacts.
Blaine grinned and lightly pressed his nose into Kurt's shoulder. "I don't know how much you know about me, Kurt. But I understand. I know how much it hurts. I know how scary it can be." His fingers passed over Kurt's so softly that he barely touched him. "I came to Dalton and I ran. But you can fight back. You can educate the bullies and you can make them realise it's not okay." His thumb stroked over Kurt's pinky and Kurt inhaled sharply but didn't pull away, and Blaine took that as a small sign of success. "I remember who you were, Kurt. You were so strong. You were so obnoxiously opinionated. Don't let them beat it out of you. Don't let them break your spirit."
Kurt sniffed and Blaine smiled sadly as Kurt wiped away the fresh tears that spilled over his cheeks.
"I wasn't obnoxiously opinionated," Kurt said finally when he'd regained his composure. "You were just a naïve little boy who didn't appreciate proper etiquette and fashion."
Blaine laughed and gently touched Kurt's hand again. "Well, I'm terribly sorry for being such a horrendous young miscreant, good sir." He delighted in Kurt's smile and couldn't help smiling back. "I do believe you were saying something about needing to get back to Lima. Shall I walk you to your car?"
Kurt blushed and nodded with a giggle. "At least Dalton has taught you something."
Blaine gathered up Kurt's bag and slung it over his shoulder. "Dalton has taught me many things," he conceded with a nod. "But it's also sheltered me from a lot of others. It's a blessing and a curse."
Kurt nodded, even as his gaze became trained on the floor again. Blaine wondered if it was a standard thing for Kurt to do when he walked, or only if he was in school corridors. Maybe it hurt less if Kurt didn't see the attack coming?
The walk to Kurt's car was not nearly long enough as Blaine handed the bag over and watched Kurt lay it on the floor of the passenger side and then close the door.
And then it became awkward, neither knowing exactly what to say.
"Call me," Blaine said, breaking the silence. "Or text me, if you don't like talking on the phone. Any time, okay?"
Kurt gave a wobbly sort of nod as he twisted his car keys in his hands. "Can I…can I hug you, Blaine?"
Blaine smiled and held his arms open until Kurt swallowed and moved into the embrace, tucking his face into Blaine's shoulder and breathing deeply.
"Thank you," he whispered, hands fisted into the back of Blaine's shirt.
"I just hope I helped," Blaine whispered back.
Kurt pulled away and swallowed again. "You did. I…you did."
"Then I'm glad you came here to Dalton," Blaine said, shoving his hands into his pockets because he needed to do something with them other than fidget. "I'm glad I saw you."
"I recognised your hair," Kurt explained. "You need to stop using so much gel."
"The curls are unmanageable," Blaine shrugged.
"The curls make you look better," Kurt commented.
"Fashion tip from Kurt Hummel?"
"You know it," Kurt giggled, opening his car door and pausing. "But…but truly, thank you."
"My phone is always available for your communication should you need it," he said again. Kurt reached for his arm, gave it a brief squeeze and then hopped into the car. Blaine was still reeling from the touch and barely even noticed when Kurt's car had disappeared out of the gates and was gone.
A/N: For those of you who also follow Who You Gonna Call?, I apologise at how this fic has taken over my writing life this week. I'm up to twenty-seven thousand words in this fic already. I'm anticipating five parts of roughly seven thousandish words, but we'll see how that ends up going. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!
As always, feedback is absolutely adored, particularly delving into something so AU and popular on Tumblr at the moment. See you all next chapter my lovelies! xx