Author's Note: This is for Spuffina on Tumblr. She's lovely and wonderful.

Prologue

Blaine could still remember when he'd first found out that he was going to be a demon hunter. It wasn't the sort of thing anyone would quickly forget. At the time it had just seemed like a game. He had only been eight when they'd taken him away from his family to start training. Blaine hadn't been able to grasp the fact that he'd never live with his real parents again or grow up to be a rock star – it had been his childhood dream. It was who he was and what was expected of him, but back then he'd just found out that monsters and creatures were real. How many kids dreamed of a world like that?

Blaine had spent a good while begging his new, foster parents to go to football games or hang out with his school friends. He was never allowed. There was always training to do; from judo to kickboxing, armed and unarmed, they taught him things no eight year old should know. Slowly but surely, he'd drifted apart from them. By the fourth grade, they had decided to pull him out of school entirely. Though they continued his education at home, most time was dedicated to training.

It wasn't as if Blaine could complain about how he was treated. His foster parents – though somewhat distant and strict – never were mean to him. More than that, it didn't last long for him to become close with his brother, Cooper. Cooper was several years older to him, and from the moment they'd met, he was protective of Blaine. In fact, it was Cooper that insisted he should be there alongside Blaine when he fought his first real demon.

Blaine had only been twelve.

"Coop?" Blaine asked, and Coop hummed, looking down at Blaine and smiling.

"Yeah?"

"You fight demons too, right?" He bit his lip, looking around them as they continued walking.

"Yeah, I do. I mean, occasionally, but it's not that easy for me. Why?"

"I mean, doesn't that make you a demon hunter too?" Blaine wrapped his arms around himself, shivering.

"Well, no. It's not really what I'm supposed to do. Unlike you –"

"I know, I know. This is what I was born to do. My destiny. Cue the cheesy intro," Blaine said, his shoulders slumping forward as he tried to warm himself up.

"Blaine, you know if I could, I'd be here every moment. I don't have the strength or speed or anything, though. It's dangerous for me to do this." Reaching a hand out, he ruffled Blaine's hair. "Here, you're cold." He slipped off his jacket, and Blaine saw him tense up in response.

"You don't have to," Blaine said, his lip jutting out in a pout.

"Well, I want to." Cooper put it over Blaine's shoulders and reached out, ruffling his hair again. "Fits you perfectly," he teased as Blaine looked down. His hands were slightly more than halfway down the sleeves, and the bottom of the jacket went past his knees. Blaine laughed, striking a pose. Cooper laughed along with Blaine, shaking his head a bit.

There was a quiet, almost undetectable sound of leaves rustling and gravel shifting against the pavement. It was only a split second later that Blaine saw the demon. Blaine's eyes widened and the smile on his lips died as he shoved Cooper out of the way. Cooper fell down, the air knocked out of him, but Blaine didn't have time to worry.

It was surreal seeing the demon in real life. After spending a good four years seeing them in textbooks, he thought it'd be more normal seeing it like this. Yet even with that, it seemed like something out of a movie or a story. That monstrosity couldn't be real.

Its skin was white, drained, and had a reptilian look to it. Its eyes were all black, and it smirked as it slowed down, its head cocking to the side. It had small horns at the tip of its head which protruded, barely visible in its hair. Its teeth were slightly sharper as well, and it licked his lips slowly.

"I really wouldn't have done that, little boy," the demon teased, taking a slow step forward. Blaine's jaw clenched, and he lowered himself into the stance he'd been taught. "I wouldn't bother. It won't do you any good." Blaine could see Cooper shifting out of the corner of his eye, but he knew better than to divert his attention.

His fist struck out, but before he could hit the demon, it had grabbed him by one of the lengthy sleeves. Blaine let out a yelp as fingers tightened around both sleeves, pulling him against it. It twisted each sleeve to an opposite side, making sure to grab it low enough that he had his arm and trapping Blaine. Blaine was stuck almost hugging himself as the demon pulled tighter.

There was a low chuckle in his ear as he felt hot breath hit his throat. "Let go of me!" Blaine tugged vainly, trying to get out. After a moment of letting him struggle the demon pulled, and Blaine felt his shoulders stretch. He let out a scream at the pain, and his eyesight blurred. "Let go – Let…" He couldn't finish at the demon tugged again, sending a searing pain from his shoulder blades, down his back.

Blaine whimpered as the demon chuckled again. "Not so tough not, are you?" As its grip tightened yet again, Blaine collapsed limply against his arms, taking unsteady breaths. His mind blanked for a second as he lost all support, slipping a bit. He'd been so sure he could do better, and yet now he was struggling to keep himself upright as tears flashed behind his eyes.

"I –" Blaine couldn't get a full thought out, and he let out another yelp ad the demon's hands reached to the back of his neck. It was funny; he'd never imagined he'd die like this. He'd been sure he'd get at least a few battles in. Perhaps it was a bit cliché, but he'd pictured himself as a fallen hero in a triumphant death. Yet now he was merely weak and whimpering. "P – Please." Begging for relief.

He kicked backwards, but the demon must have been anticipating it. Its legs stretched out, and it widened his stance, letting Blaine's legs slip right past. They tightened almost immediately, keeping him locked in a tight hold. "Now…" It held Blaine's arms as its hand squeezed tightly at the back of his neck. The pressure was overwhelming, and Blaine trembled, gasping for breath.

Yet where he expected to feel a quick flash – expected it to be over – he was suddenly free and falling to the ground. Blaine's hands automatically fell out to catch himself, and he winced at the pain that spread across his back.

"Back the hell away from my brother." Cooper's voice was breathier, angrier than Blaine had heard it before. He looked up, his body still trembling to see Cooper try to push at it. The demon was smart and grabbed it, Cooper's reflexes far too slow. The demon reached out, this time not bothering to play around. Its fingers tightened around Cooper's neck. "Blaine!" Cooper's voice was low and breathy as he ran out of oxygen, but Blaine reacted quickly, pulling out a knife from his jacket pocket and throwing it at the demon.

It hit directly in the demon's jugular, and the demon let go of his grip on Cooper in surprise. It went up, clutching it as its eyes bulged. Cooper reached out, pulling it out before quickly plunging it back in. He sliced mostly through the demons' neck with a visible effort, and the demon slumped down. Blaine also let himself slide back down to the road, and his eyes closed.

He heard Cooper sputter, and Blaine wearily tried to pull himself up, his jaw tightening and his eyes watering at the pain. "Blaine?" Coop's voice was soft, and as Blaine's eyes opened, he saw that he was reaching out to help him. A stubborn part of Blaine said that he had to at least do this part of his own. He'd been so sure he could do it. He'd trained for so long, and yet he'd ended up against the cement, his entire back in pain and his whole body bruised.

"I'm sorry." Blaine managed to start pulling himself, but Coop wrapped an arm around him. "I can do it by myself," Blaine snapped before instantly relaxing. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay." He ran his hand through Blaine's hair, and after a moment, Blaine fell against him, a feeling of hopelessness overwhelming him. "I know you can do it by yourself," he said, sighing. "I just didn't want you to." He put a sporting arm around Blaine.

He'd been so sure. But from step one, he'd messed up.

"I'm still sorry."

"Well, you have nothing to apologize for. You didn't do anything, Blaine," Cooper tried reassuring, and Blaine finally managed to wiggle out of his grasp. "Blaine, no, wait, it's my fault. Feeling his chest tighten, he finally fell against Cooper. He let himself sob, for the first time since he could remember in years. It just seemed to pour out of him as he clutched onto Cooper's shirt, his knuckles burning white.

"How could this possibly be your fault?" he asked through a choked sob, letting out a whimper as Cooper rocked them both and forth.

"I leant you the jacket. The demon – he grabbed onto you because the sleeves were too long. I wasn't thinking." The blame sounded so ridiculous, and Blaine couldn't help but pull back. Cooper's face was blurred by tears that pooled in Blaine's eyes as he let out a small hiccup of a laugh.

"How could you possibly have thought about that?" he asked, and Cooper let out a small sigh, shaking his head.

"Let's go back home. They're probably waiting for us, and we're just sitting here. Let's not let another demon get to us, right?" he asked, tapping Blaine's nose. Blaine picked himself up, clinging to Cooper for support the whole walk back.

His foster parents had cleaned Blaine up as Cooper had cleaned himself up, and they took out some ice and certain creams to rub into his back. He let out a whimper, but by that time, his tears had long dried. The red, tired rims stayed at his eyes, though, and he bit the inside of his cheek, pain shooting down his back each time he was asked to shift.

He was in the process of falling asleep, and the knock on the door jerked him up, making him feel for a split second like he was falling. He caught himself, his eyes going wide before he relaxed. "Coop. Hey." Part of him didn't feel like seeing Cooper. He was afraid to find disappointment in his eyes.

Cooper remained silent as he walked beside Blaine and perched himself on the edge of the bed. His hand reached out, and he moved Blaine's curls from his face. Instead of pulled away, like usual, Blaine let his head tilt, resting against Cooper's side.

"Can I ask you a question?" Blaine asked, shifting a bit and groaning at the pain. The muscles complained each time he moved even a bit. Cooper nodded, still staring sadly at Blaine.

"Yes?" Blaine swallowed thickly before looking up at Cooper with wide, childish eyes. And for the first time, Cooper was reminded of how young and innocent he was – how most kids his age were worried about whose team they got placed in for kickball. Yet Blaine…

"Will I ever – I mean, if I don't want to, can I back of out this? Can I decide I want to sing or teach or –" Blaine sounded desperate. Cooper knew they'd gone over this before, a long time ago, but Blaine had seemed too cheerful, nodding along so innocently. I had been obvious he had never truly grasped it.

"No, you're – you can't." Blaine slumped a bit, his weight lying fully on Cooper. Cooper held him as he lay there, trying to wrap his mind around it.

"What if I can't do it? What if the demon gets to me first?" Blaine felt like a child asking these questions. They seemed so simple and obvious, yet the answer he was expecting and that Cooper gave scared him.

"Then you die." Cooper's voice was small. "I want to be there always to protect you and make sure you don't get hurt, but…"

"But?" Blaine asked, and Cooper sighed, looking down at him and wrapping an arm around his shoulder, running it up and down lightly.

"This isn't my job. It's more dangerous for me than it is for you. I'm not super-human. I don't have the strength or speed or ability to recover as fast as you do. I'm not – I can't always be there for you. I want to, but I can't."

"I don't want to die. Does it hurt?" He felt like a little kid, and his voice wavered with the question.

"I don't know, Blaine. I've never tried… I guess, once I have, I'll let you know," Cooper said, his voice going unsteady as the joke died on his lips. "I don't want you to die."

"I don't want me to die either." Blaine nodded, and they sat there, his weight falling more and more on Cooper as he slowly fell asleep. Blaine had no clue how long Cooper stayed – just that when he woke up, the bed was empty once again.

It was only three days before the set him out on his second demon. For almost a year, his foster parents forbid Cooper to go with Blaine out on these practices. "He needs to learn, and clearly you just distract him. I know you have best intentions, but…" Blaine was tired of hearing fancy ways and new excuses of them saying "no".

He managed to kill another demon. And a third. A fourth… Things became easier. It wasn't that the demons were completely different. They blended together in Blaine's mind, and he lost count. There was that green one who had the forked tongue and the other one whose skin glowed and the one whose skin was black as if burnt. But aside from several oddities, it was hard to find one that stuck out, and when he lost count, it didn't matter to him anymore. They all were out for the same purpose – to kill, and it was always a matter of getting to them first.

It was his job, and Blaine came to accept it. There was no choice in the matter. Blaine Anderson: Demon Hunter extraordinaire. Sure, it had a ring to it, and once the bitter edge faded away, things slipped back to the same cycle: go out, fight, win, rest, repeat. There was little heroic about it; it was more like a muscle reflex or a chore.

In fact, it was only when he was about to turn fourteen, beginning of freshman year of high school that things changed.

"We're sending you to high school." Blaine was surprised to hear it. He'd been homeschooled for so long that he'd forgotten what the public school system felt like. Besides, he knew enough to know that high school was a stark change from elementary school. It wasn't as if he had been educationally deprived, but there was so much to worry about. Before he could voice it, his foster father continued. "You won't actually be graded. You'll be given your reports, and everything will be the same. The principal will know why you're there, but you're to tell nobody under any circumstance." Blaine nodded, shifting in front of his foster father.

"Why now? You always said this was more important than education," Blaine said, leaning back on the couch, his brow furrowing. They'd always been adamant about the fact that to a normal person, education would be the most important thing, but to him… "Don't I have to worry about the demons and…" He trailed off, waving his hand.

"Well, of course you do. That's why we're sending you there." His foster father, Michael, signed the paper at hand and set it to the side, sliding it down his desk. When he looked up at Blaine with the same dull eyes Blaine was used to seeing he swallowed thickly, feeling somehow dumb. Michael had that sort of an effect. The way he looked at people was with a look as if they were missing something obvious, something not worth his time to explain. Blaine swallowed his pride and continued.

"I'm afraid I don't follow."

"First of all, your mother thinks it's important for you to rekindle your human emotion, compassion, so on. This job does require that. You've had a lot of late night adventures, but things get even more complicated. Sometimes other people are involved. People you care about. You had experience with that the first time you killed at demon." Blaine nodded almost imperceptibly after a moment. Michael's gaze flickered back to his desk, and he straightened each stack of paper, aligning the papers.

"I – all right." Blaine bit the inside of his cheek and nodded.

"Look, Blaine, the world's a big place, and while we haven't sheltered you too much, situations like those get complicated. Demons sometimes find loop holes and things get messy. Which brings us to our next reason." He looked up again, and this time he leaned back in his chair. "You may sit down if you want to." Blaine didn't particularly want to, but he didn't bother saying so. Instead he carefully let himself rest at the edge of the seat, waiting for Michael to continue.

"Yes?"

"To protect the students."

"To protect the students?"

"That's exactly what I said." His father looked at him as if he'd simply made a comment on the weather.

"How am I supposed to protect all of them?" He could feel panic rising in his chest. How was he supposed to be responsible for all of these students? They were just kids his age, and the idea of being responsible for their lives made his stomach twist.

"Honestly, Blaine, you're bright. It's not as if they'll be under constant threat. You'll figure something out. Now, I really do need to work. School tomorrow, remember." He looked back down, picking up a pen and taking a new sheet, scrawling something into the margins before crossing another thing out.

That whole night was stressful, but, as always, Cooper was there to help him through. "I don't know what to wear," Blaine said dejectedly.

"It's really not that hard. Just find an outfit and go with it. C'mon, saving the world and looking snazzy can't be that hard." Blaine hung his head and pulled out some clothes, folding them over the arm of the chair. Of course, that didn't make these clothes definite; he'd been doing that all night long.

"But that's the problem. I already have to worry about saving the fucking world, and now I need to worry about making friends and stupid schedule and – I don't even know what I have to worry about," Blaine said, walking over to his bean bag and falling down on it. He let his lower lip jut out. "It's not fair."

"Basically that. It's not fair. I can't argue with that, but I'll be here. Look, it's not that bad. Besides, as a teenager, you get to whine and no one yells at you. It'll be fine. Just focus on the fighting. Dad can't get angry at you if you're successful with that. Besides, I thought you said that he told you that grades don't matter."

"Yeah, he did."

"Then even better! C'mon, relax. Everything will be fine. The only difference is that you won't be at home during the day." Blaine dodged out of Cooper's grip as he fell down on the bean bag beside Blaine went to ruffle his hair.

"I'm thirteen. I'm not a little kid anymore," Blaine mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest as he looked up at Cooper.

"Sorry, sorry," Cooper replied with a laugh. "You'll still always be my little brother."

"I'm not little!"

"Just a bit." Blaine glowered, but a small smile still managed to twitch upwards on his lips.

"Okay, fine. Just a bit. Can we just stop talking about school and how little I am?" Nodding, Cooper laid back on the bean bag, looking up at Blaine.

"Deal. And, besides, like I said, things will be okay. I promise." Unfortunately, it wasn't a promise Cooper would be able to keep.