Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.
Scritch scritch scritch.
Blaine paused outside the choir room door, tapering off mid-whistle as he listened to the frenetic movements of someone within. It was well after normal school hours (nearly seven, to be precise, but Knitting club ran overtime and Blaine had been on the rebound for the entirety of the student council and Prom committee meetings; Cheerios' practice was icing on the cake), but that didn't mean Rachel wouldn't be obsessively charting their 'path to victory' on the whiteboard. Except . . . Rachel had graduated.
Blaine leaned around the doorway, peering within.
"I'm not an idiot," he muttered, frantically labeling what looked like their latest choreographic movements with the quadratic equation. "I'm not a fucking idiot."
"Why would you be an idiot?" Blaine asked, tentatively inching inside the room. Sam froze, the marker screeching to a halt. "Is this about the fundraiser?" Blaine continued. "Because Finn and I worked it out, the math comes out even. . . ." He gestured at the board with his friend hand, approaching more confidently when Sam lowered his arm. "See, it - " he reached for one of the red markers on the shelf, uncapping it with his teeth and quickly writing out the numbers - 400/10 = 40 - before setting it aside.
Sam reached over and wrote 3 in front of the 40 in blue, capping his marker and tossing it almost violently aside.
Blaine stared at the equation for one moment, uncertain, before reaching up to erase the three.
"I got a 340 on my SATs."
Blaine's hand halted mid-reach. "You what?"
Sam breathed out heavily through his mouth, both hands reaching up to thread through his hair. "I got a 340 on my SATs," he repeated sharply. "Three-forty."
"Sam, that's - "
"Pathetic, I know."
"Everyone - bombs a test once in a while," Blaine said, stepping closer, intending to reach out a hand and squeeze his shoulder comfortingly.
Sam stepped out of reach, his expression unreadable as he picked up Blaine's red marker. "Monkeys score better than I do. Routinely. What the hell does that say about me?" He violently scratched out the 340, adding in a tight voice, "Brittany scored a 2340!"
Blaine couldn't help it - his jaw dropped. "I'm sorry?"
"That's one of the highest scores in the nation!"
"Brittany," Blaine repeated, still trying to mentally equate the mutually exclusive: Brittany and superior intelligence. "Brittany?"
"Stop it," Sam ordered.
"Look," Sam said, voice bordering on a sigh. "I get that - you're trying to be all cool and helpful and nice, but can you just . . . not?"
Blaine bit his lip. "You can retake the test," he offered after a moment. "In the spring. It's a sixty dollar fee, but - "
"I don't have sixty dollars."
Cutting. Quick. Bitter.
"I could - "
"Don't." Blaine could almost feel the temperature in the room drop with the single word. "Don't you dare."
"We'll raise the money," he insisted. "That's like, six more copies of the calendar."
Sam frowned at the board for several long, silent moments. At last, he picked up the eraser and wiped the board clean. "Six more copies," he repeated. "How the hell are we going to sell forty six copies of a 'Men of McKinley' calendar?"
"We'll market it," Blaine said, shrugging. "We managed the bake sale fine."
Sam snorted. "Yeah, because those were cookies."
"Delicious cookies," Blaine added, unable to help himself. He had baked them.
"Yeah, fantastic," Sam agreed, his thoughts elsewhere. "Look, I can't be the only one shirtless in this calendar if it's going to work," he said at last, turning to look at Blaine.
Blaine stiffened, his grip tightening around his satchel infinitesimally. "What are you talking about?" he asked quietly.
"Dude, you're like a total chick magnet. Flash a bit of skin and they'll go crazy. Jake and Ryder already agreed. We can't have a calendar where only half the guys are shirtless."
"Joe won't agree."
"Joe sang a song about threesomes in Glee club. I think he'll agree."
Blaine frowned, adjusting his satchel against his shoulder, uncomfortable.
"What about Artie?"
Sam shrugged. "It's his choice. He's in a wheelchair, so it's not like he's as . . . on display as we are."
Blaine's eyebrows arched. "So, what, I'm a trophy now?"
Sam rolled his eyes, stepping forward and giving both his shoulders one firm squeeze. "Dude, no offense, but you're hot. If you really want that calendar to sell, you'll strip."
Blaine bit his lip. Partially to refrain from saying 'You're hot' wasn't an insult. Partially to keep from retorting that -
I'm not for sale.
His shoulders tensed, and for a moment he wanted to shove Sam away and flee before it could escalate. Regaining his composure, Blaine gently pushed Sam's hands off his shoulders, saying quietly, "If everyone agrees . . . I'll do it. Okay?"
Sam nodded, turning back to the empty whiteboard and frowning. Blaine let him have a moment before offering, "I know that . . . the last thing you want to think about right now is taking the test again, but . . . maybe you could look into a tutor? I know Ryder's been seeing someone. Just a thought."
Sam's gaze flicked to him, briefly. "Tutors help normal people."
Blaine blinked, then said emphatically, "Sam, you are a normal person. Okay?" Just because you're . . . dyslexic doesn't mean you can't pass your SATs."
Sam frowned. "How do you - "
"Kurt." Saying the name hurt. Blaine didn't give it time to deepen as he said, "Ryder's dyslexic, too. Finn told me. If he can benefit from a tutor, then . . . so can you." Hitching his satchel a little higher over his shoulder, he padded towards the door, adding, "Think about it."
For a moment, Sam said nothing. Then, quietly: "Thank you."
Blaine offered a slight, pained smile. "You're welcome." He turned the handle, adding, "Let me know if you change your mind about the tutor," as he left.
He couldn't sleep that night, trying to plot out alternative ways to raising the money.
The next morning in Glee club, he announced that he was fully on board with the shirtless Men of McKinley calendar.
Sam smiled at him, offering his fist for a fist bump, and Blaine silently reached back and bumped it back.
I've got your back.