There's no smart blazer, no perfectly styled hair and polite-if-vaguely-condescending smile, when Burt Hummel opens his front door that night. There's only a slight young man in gray and blue plaid pajamas, stuck to his skin with the same rain water that's left his dark hair a mess of soaked curls, hanging down in his wide, frightened eyes. Those eyes brim with tears, and he's biting his lower lip as if to stop its dangerous quivering – but the attempt is an utter failure.
"Please, M-mr. Hummel," he says in a very soft voice that breaks over the words. "C-can I come in?"
Burt knows all about the cheating, and the break-up, and when he thinks of Kurt crying on the couch the previous weekend, when he came back to Lima for the school play and spent a couple of nights at home, his first instinct is to – well, it's not to welcome Blaine Anderson into his house with open arms.
But for more than a year, Blaine has been a part of the Hummel household. He struggles at home, and as a result he's spent more time with Kurt's family than with his own in recent months, and Burt's come to think of him almost as a third son. There are more instincts at work here than just those to protect Kurt, and open arms are exactly what the shivering, crying boy on Burt's porch gets, as Burt steps back to allow him inside, then wraps a steadying arm around his shoulders.
"What's the matter, kid?" Burt asks, his tone trying for gruff and grudging, but coming out a lot more sympathetic than he thinks Blaine deserves. "What happened?"
"My d-dad," Blaine replies, his voice wobbling dangerously. He's actually shivering worse now that he's inside, despite his arms wrapped tight around his torso. "He… he made me… I… I had to…" His voice trails off, and he shakes his head, looking utterly lost and so, so small – not that he's ever not been small. Even Kurt dwarfs him, these days.
Burt stops when they reach the sofa, sitting Blaine down and facing him, placing his hands on his shoulders in an attempt to get him to focus. "What, Blaine?" he persists, his voice low and gentle, but leading. "What happened? What'd you have to do?"
Blaine looks up at Burt abruptly, eyes wide and shell-shocked, bright with tears. "Leave," he whispers before his face crumples and he breaks down into choked, breathless, heartbreaking sobs.
Burt knows how badly Blaine hurt his son. He knows that the next time Kurt comes home, Blaine can't be here; Kurt needs to know that this is always his home, and he can always feel safe and comfortable here, and that when it comes to choosing sides, his father will always be on his.
But Kurt's not here right now, and if he sent Blaine back out into the storm, it's not Kurt whose side he'd be taking. He'd be taking the side of a man who'd send his teenage son out into the cold, unforgiving night without so much as a suitcase, with nothing more than the clothes on his back – which barely qualify as "clothes" at that – for nothing more than daring to fall in love with another boy.
Blaine has to feel so completely, utterly alone – and all Burt can do is wrap his arms around him, holding him and steadying him while he cries.
"I d-don't know what to do," Blaine confesses, sounding terrified, broken. "I don't – h-have anywhere to go…"
"What the hell are you talking about, kid?" Burt retorts, his voice gruff but warm. "You're here, aren't you?"
Blaine raises his head from Burt's shoulder, wiping at his eyes with a trembling hand. "I'm sorry, Mr. Hummel," he sniffles miserably. "I shouldn't have – have come here. I know that… that Kurt…"
"This isn't about Kurt," Burt cuts him off. "That's a whole other conversation, kid, and believe me – we'll get there." He smiles to soften the words, shaking his head. "But not tonight. Not – anytime soon. I might not like every stupid choice you make, but something like this happens… you got no place else, you can always come here, Blaine. That was true a couple of weeks ago – and it hasn't changed now."
"Th-thank you," Blaine whispers, lowering his head again. "I-I don't know what else to say…"
"You don't have to say anything." Burt hugs Blaine again before standing up, and gesturing for Blaine to do the same. "Come on. I'll show you the guest room and the bathroom upstairs. A hot shower, some warm clothes… I'll have something ready for you to eat when you get done." He grins, shrugging ruefully. "Can't guarantee it'll come even close to the stuff Kurt makes, but it'll be edible, and hot."
Blaine nods, swallowing hard, too emotional to say anything else, and Burt's not sure whether it's the kindness alone, or the mention of Kurt, and one more thing Blaine might not ever share with him again.
"You've got a place here, kid," Burt reminds him gently. "Whatever happens with you and Kurt – that's not going to change."