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.
"Hey, Blaine-Blaine. Feeling any better?"
Blaine looks over at Tina, sniffing once as he presses a tissue to his nose. "No, Tina, I'm not. It's worse," he says thickly. He's suddenly, absurdly grateful that he didn't attempt to sing Freddie Mercury in front of the Glee club today: Unique cackling over his voice would have been more than enough to deter him from ever singing in front of them again. "I can't breathe through my nose and my head feels like it's stuffed up with cotton."
"Did you try the cold buster kit I gave you?"
Blaine squints, trying to recall if he actually did anything other than toe off his shoes at the door and slouch into bed when he got home. "Yeah," he settles on, even though he's fairly sure it's a lie. He'd barely been able to drag himself to school today; he didn't want to think about how difficult it would have been if he'd taken the night time cold medicine on top of it. "I can't afford this right now, we still haven't finished Diva week and after that we have regionals and then I have to submit my application to NYADA." He frowns a little at the last, reaching into his locker to pull out his checklist. "Not to mention the student council meeting tonight, Cheerios' practice tomorrow, Glee club rehearsal after that - "
"Hey, hey," Tina interrupts gently as she pulls the checklist out of his hands. He frowns at her even as he lets her tuck the sheet back into his locker carefully between his books. "You need to slow down," she says. "You're pushing yourself way too hard."
Blaine shakes his head, pressing a clean tissue to his eyes to stop them from watering. The last impression he wants to give off is that he's having an emotional breakdown: the pressure from the congestion tends to make both his nose and eyes run. Thankfully Tina doesn't notice, only eyeing him skeptically before reaching down to rummage through her satchel. She pulls out a small dark blue jar moments later, holding it up demonstratively.
"I bought you some vaporub. My nana swears by it," she explains, holding it out to him.
He takes it carefully, a weak smile crossing his face in spite of himself. "Aww. Thanks, lady. You're so sweet."
Instead of smiling at his teasing or giving him a playful nudge in rebuke, she sinks back against the lockers a little, a pensive frown between her brows. "What? Did I say something wrong?" he asks.
"I don't want to be sweet," Tina quips, her voice bordering on a sigh as she looks at him. "I want to be the girl that kicks open doors and get what she wants."
He purses his lips thoughtfully, saying nothing. Part of him wants to gently redirect her woes to someone more capable, like Sam or maybe even Artie. Another part wants to fold her in his arms and assure her that she definitely has that power, that she's not helpless, that she can get what she wants. He doesn't know what compels him to say, "Okay," but he coughs before he can get another word out, quick and sharp. Gathering his solidarity, he says, "You are coming to my house after school tonight and we're gonna find you the right song. We're gonna bring out your inner diva if it kills me."
His voice thickens by the time he finishes the declaration, adding weight to the if it kills me. She still smiles brightly at him, though, and the way she says, "Oh, Blainey-days," assures him that he's done something right.
He's grateful that the bell rings a moment later, drawing her away. Leaning back against the lockers closest to him, he closes his eyes, trying not to let the weight of his various responsibilities crush him. Tina is right in that respect: he does have a lot on his plate. More than he needs, really, and certainly more than most people would consider healthy. But he can't help it: he doesn't want to sacrifice any of his time for the clubs that he's championed or the Glee club that he's helped revitalize. He can't abandon the friends that he's made, either, and Tina needs him more than ever, it seems, with everyone else involved in their own pet projects. Marley, Jake, and Ryder are all engrossed in their own love triangle, with Kitty occasionally partaking in the drama; Artie and Sam are busy planning their futures; Brittany's still trying to reconnect with Santana long-distance; and Finn's more involved with helping Ms. Pillsbury plan her wedding than noticing Tina's plight.
It's not that he feels a personal obligation to help every lost soul out there discover her hidden talents or true potential. Rather, he knows that Tina helped him through his crush with Sam by being there for him when no one else knew, even if it meant pushing the issue at first. He knows that Tina's never criticized his actions or reprimanded him for some imagined slight or another. She's always quietly supported him, and he likes that, likes that solidarity of having someone around that just enjoys his company. Of course, he worries about how seriously 'no strings attached' is reciprocated: sometimes the way she looks at him or talks to him makes him wonder, but at the same time, he knows that she knows that he's gay. And that's enough for him.
Pushing himself off the lockers, he pockets the vaporub and saunters off down the hall, dragging himself through the doorway of his first class. Tina's already there, he realizes belatedly, offering her a weak smile as he slides into the chair on the fair side of the room. It isn't that he doesn't like her, he reasons, pulling out his notebook and a pencil sluggishly, poised to listen. It's just that she's so much farther away from the door and he genuinely wonders if he'd be able to make it.
Dozing off almost as soon as their teacher starts speaking, he cups his cheek in his hand, careful not to let his eyelids slide completely shut lest he be called on unexpectedly. He has a reputation to uphold, after all, and being caught unawares wouldn't help.
Blinking blearily back to awareness when a hand rests on his shoulder, he looks up at Tina, offering a weak smile in turn as he slides his things back in his satchel. "I'm - sorry, I just ..."
"Maybe you should go home?" Tina suggests. "We can meet up for diva night later." She gives his shoulder a light squeeze, adding, "You look exhausted."
"I have a physics test," he points out wearily. "Then I can leave."
She stops him before he gets more than halfway out of his seat, gently pushing him back into it. "Blaine," she says seriously, looking him over. "You can't take a test like this."
"I can, I will, and I have to," Blaine retorts succinctly, pushing himself up and out of his chair. She lets him, picking up his satchel before he can reach for it and tugging it up over one shoulder. "Thanks," he murmurs, cheeks pinking a little. "I just ... I have to get through this, okay?"
She nods once, pursing her lips. "Do you want to postpone - "
Tina sighs. "Blaine - "
Blaine gives her arm a light squeeze in turn. "Tina," he counters, almost playfully. "Let me do this. It'll work out. You'll see."
She nods and he steps out of the room, not once looking back at her.
The rest of the day is worse, his nonessential classes dragging. He's at least eighty percent sure that he fails his physics test but with the option of retaking it later (not that that's going to be any less stressful, cramming it in before regionals), he doesn't worry about it too much. He skips Cheerios' practice altogether, deciding that he would rather face Sue Sylvester's wrath healthy than largely incapacitated.
Pulling into his own driveway half an hour later, he kills the engine and spends several long, drowsy moments behind the wheel, too tired to move and too achy to want to. Forcing himself to climb out of the driver's seat and cross over to the front door, unlocking it and pushing it open, he steps inside and is almost immediately overwhelmed with a desire to just find the nearest soft surface and sleep.
Reminding himself that Tina will be coming over soon enough keeps him on the edge of consciousness. He prepares a little snack tray, meticulously washing his hands throughout the process so as not to contaminate anything any more than he needs to. Contemplating the little cold buster kit still sitting on his kitchen counter, he gently pries it open, looking over its contents before pulling out the cold medicine. He uncaps it, pouring out a single dose and draining it in one fell swoop, scrunching up his nose at the flavor. Setting the medicine aside and making a note on a sticky note pad the time, he lurches over to the door when it rings, straightening his shoulders and smiling as he opens it. "Hey, Tina," he greets, his voice as bright as he can manage as he ushers her inside. "I'd take off your coat for you but I don't want to give you my germs."
"I understand," she says, pulling it off and hanging it on the rack nearby. "You have a lovely house," she adds conversationally, looking around.
He shrugs, nodding at the stairs. "I thought we might talk about things upstairs in my room?" he adds, then: "Unless that would make you uncomfortable."
"Upstairs is fine," she assures.
He nods, watching her disappear before grabbing the tray still on the counter, feeling almost pleasantly heavy. It's different than the aching feeling he's been attempting to suppress all day: a sort of deep relaxation forcing the tension out of him, soothing his aches. Padding up the stairs slowly, he steps into his bedroom, focusing on keeping his steps steady so he doesn't spill the tray.
"Have you ever been with a girl?" Tina asks, curious. Blaine pauses, balancing the tray carefully.
"Nope. Perfect gold star gay." Then: "Except for that one time where I kissed Rachel Berry."
"That doesn't count," Tina teases with a smile. He smiles back, grateful that she understands as he sets the tray down on the stool at the foot of the bed.
"It's not that I don't like girls," he elaborates, sitting on the edge of the bed, "I love them. They're kind and sensitive and their bodies are beautiful." He smiles, and she smiles back so brightly that he feels some of his tension abate, relieved that he's done something right.
"Thank you. You know, on behalf of girls everywhere."
He hums a little, barely audible, before adding quietly, "But loving them ... that way ... s'not who I am." He offers a slightly rueful smile. If only that were the case. Rachel had been his great failure in sexual experimentation: one sober kiss had been enough to tell him everything he needed to know. There was nothing - not merely a lack of fireworks, but a lack of anything. He knew that she was beautiful and that she clearly had a lot in common and, regardless of whether they were soul mates, a kiss should have sparked some electricity between them, some attraction. But he felt absolutely nothing, not even the faintest inclination to keep trying and see if it changed, and he'd known then that it wasn't simply a personality he was attracted to: gender mattered, too. And women just didn't ... attract him. In that way. Not in the deep, incredible, mind-blowing way that loving Kurt did.
His heart aches a little at the thought of Kurt, his gaze falling on his mini-shrine next to his bed. He barely catches Tina's next comment about being young and changeable, belatedly remembering why he'd invited her in the first place. Because Tina Cohen-Chang needed someone to remind her that yes, she could change her image, and sometimes talent went undiscovered simply because other people had yet to see what was right in front of them. Gesturing at her laptop, he adds, "But you should open the laptop; I don't want to give you my germs."
She obliges, and he feels something like pride stir in his chest at the way that her face lights up, her eyes widening. "Wow. I can't believe you went old school diva. Cher ... Aretha ... Madonna." She looks at him, suddenly uncertain, and asks, "Do you really think I can pull this off? I don't even know what I would wear."
He looks at her, and all he sees is a beautiful, stunning girl. "Are you kidding me? You would kill it." He wishes he could show her that, too, pull open the laptop and click on the tab that would have the same motivational montage that he'd compiled for Sam in his time of need. Maybe then she would believe him. Suppressing the urge to gently ask her to leave now that he'd shown her a bit of motivation, he adds thoughtfully, "I was thinking that we could use - " a deep, jaw-cracking yawn bursts out of him in spite of himself, but he carries on, determined " - one of those - " another yawn " - dresses from - " more yawning " - sectionals." The back of his neck flushes slightly as he tries to control it, stuttering out a lame, "I'm sorry, the - the cold medicine is really very strong."
He smiles weakly, hoping that maybe that will be enough. He doesn't want to be so rude as to fall asleep on her. Even during Sam's three AM phone calls he never fell asleep until after the conversation was over (albeit, sometimes the conversation dragged so that he had to gently but firmly tell Sam that it was four in the morning and he needed to sleep). No, with Tina he couldn't just press 'end,' and so he tries to formulate a better response, looking to the laptop briefly for inspiration. His eyelids droop and he almost tips over then, his limbs liquid with exhaustion.
She must see it, because the next thing he knows she's saying, "Why don't you lie down?" and with a soft, barely there, "Okay," he's complying. He almost bumps into her shoulder in the process, sleepy and heavy-limbed, adding in a whisper, "That's a good idea."
He flops back onto the pillows and can almost feel relaxation seep into him, his concerns melting away. When Tina starts talking about being a diva, he hums, hoping to seem supportive and engaged and honest like he should be. He's still the host, after all, and she's his guest, and he can't invite her over and fall asleep on her.
But that's exactly what he does moments later, eyes closed and breaths evening out.
A gentle hand on his shoulder draws him back to the present what feels like seconds later, his eyelids fluttering open. "Wussgoin'on?"
"You fell asleep," Tina informs, sounding part amused, part concerned. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm - " he yawns, sniffing a little, "- I'm good. I'm sorry, I - " he tries to sit up, too weak to manage it, sinking back against the pillows a moment later. He coughs harshly into his shoulder, offering, "I'm sorry, this is just so - "
"It's okay," Tina assures. "I just ... wanted to know if there was anything I could do for you? Since you've done so much for me."
Blaine blinks, trying to make his thoughts come together rationally, at last shaking his head a little. "I'm - " he coughs, cutting himself off, before finishing, "Maybe the - the vaporub."
She hands it to him and he carefully uncaps it, fingers trembling a little as he tries to unbutton his shirt. Wordlessly, she puts a hand on his own, stilling them, and he lets her part his shirt down to the middle, pulling it open for him. Quietly, she adds, "I could - " and he nods, closing his eyes.
He relaxes when she smooths it over his chest, feeling his breathing evening out once more before she reaches for another dollop, her weight beside him on the bed oddly comforting. He can almost pretend it's Kurt, lovingly taking care of him when he's too tired to take care of himself. And when Tina curls up beside him, he lets her, tilting his cheek to rest against the top of her head as she quietly buttons up his shirt again. "Thank you," he slurs, squeezing her arm.
He can almost hear her swallow back another response as she answers simply, "You're welcome."
He drifts off to sleep before he can ask what she meant to say, his soft snores filling the air.
Author's Notes: Sick!Blaine requested by the lovely andhereicome.