Author: Regala Electra
Spoilers: S2, Sexy
Warnings: Language, Bullying, Mild Sexual Content
Word Count: 3,948
Summary: He’s gay. It’s not the end of the world. He’s pretty sure of that, at least he thinks so, and he’s trying to figure it out, but deep down he always knew, even before he had a real word to put there, pinning over his heart three letters gay and the world’s changed forever. Blaine Anderson's life as seen through several memorable summers and a conversation before his 16th summer vacation.
Author's Notes: Expanding on Blaine's comments about his dad in Sexy, I cheerfully expect this story to be fully Jossed. Guess I like doing a bit of character exploration. This is what I like to call funny angst with a happy-ish ending.
When he’s seven years old, his happiest place in the entire world is the playground at the local park. It isn’t the best one ever, or the biggest, but what it has that so many other playgrounds don’t are these huge seesaws, the kind his mother tells him aren’t supposed to be around anymore and that he has to be careful, please, because there’s no soft ground to land on, only the concrete, and please, Blaine, listen to me, and don’t run off.
When he’s older, he’ll realize how run-down and dangerous it is but to a seven year old it’s heaven.
He’s been working hard at sending his parents into an early grave, climbing everything from the moment he could walk, without hesitation. So he’s the kid climbing up on the monkey bars, pulling his body over the top and walking over the bars, maybe taking a hop step or two. If someone pays enough attention or dares him to jump off, he will. The ground’s far off, but he knows he could land it, easy as anything.
What comes up must go down, he learned that from the seesaws, after all.
He hates the maze. It’s a series of faded walls that come up to his dad mid-chest but Blaine’s small for his size and it swallows him up once he heads in, his dad impatiently chatting with another grownup, saying, “Yes, well, Blaine’s a little clingy, but he’ll get over it when he’s older.”
Blaine decides to start wandering in the maze, losing his sense of direction. He can hear other kids laughing and calling out—playing—but instead he stops, finding a dead-end and chooses not to double back. He’s distracted by the graffiti, trying to figure out why someone spelled warhorse wrong, or maybe it’s warehouse? Whorehouse he repeats, quietly, and he decides to ask Dad about it later.
Later he’ll get punished for saying a bad word and he’ll spend the next day indoors despite the sunny promise of summer stretching out forever.
It’s okay, because he’s got plenty of Disney videos to watch and he dreams of being as cool as Aladdin. Blaine takes a flying leap off the back of the couch only for his mom to walk in, panicking that he’s busted his head open and why can’t you behave and oh Blaine, you’re going to give yourself a concussion.
Blaine doesn’t know what a concussion is only that he’s almost given himself one all the time since as long as he can remember according to Mom.
It’s just a little scratch but Blaine learns that head wounds always bleed the worst.
He’s twelve and sure he’s never going to get any taller. Which is terrifying because he’s barely five foot three and he wants so bad to be cool and he’s got braces (invisaligns but still, he hates them) and his hair is a floppy mess over his face but he has no idea what to do with it and he’s not letting his parents force that buzz cut on his head ever again, his head is so weird.
There’s no time to waste by spending at the playground, plus that’s for kids and he’s got music lessons every day except his weekends and there’s day camp and he’s making himself busy because he can’t let himself allow to think about other people, about his friends, about anyone figuring out—
It’s not the end of the world. He’s pretty sure of that, at least he thinks so, and he’s trying to figure it out, but deep down he always knew, even before he had a real word to put there, pinning over his heart three letters gay and the world’s changed forever.
He feels all weird around that really nice boy at camp, the one a whole grade older than him and so smart and everything Blaine wants to be, but he’s just stupid Blaine. Ugh, plain Blaine, that’s what they call him at school, his stupid haircut making him more of an obvious target until he grew his hair out and kept his head down.
Life would be easy if he kept his head down but he can’t, because he wants the world to notice him. He wants everything and so long as he can make people believe in him, he’ll get away with whatever he wants.
So he tries a little harder at sports because years of jumping over everything have to have been worth something. He loves showing off his great coordination and loves to perform but when there’s a chance at joining local leagues, he stops. Even though his Dad makes a push for him to join soccer, at least, sure it’s not as good as football, but what else really is, and Blaine stands his ground, says he’s not ready, that he can’t.
Blaine secretly dreamed about being on the football field one day but there’s a new worry to contend with—the thought of being around naked boys is starting to make him feel new things and he’s not ready for it.
He knows he made the right call but it still hurts that he’s failed his dad in a big way. His dad tries to explain it away, what with him being too slight and just not quite fast enough for other positions. His mom ends his fictional football career by starting up a loud fight with Dad about the dangers, about their son damaging his future just so he can live through his son.
After that bitter argument, Blaine starts slinking out after dinner time, claiming he really needs to practice, retuning his guitar and plucking aimless notes until all he can hear is the loud blast of the TV in the den and not his parents still battling a whispered fight.
Maybe they know already. He’s not ready to say the words. Yet.
His tutor comments at the end of every session that summer that he doesn’t need to skip ahead. That by doing so, Blaine’s making his job too easy. It’s a joke but Blaine only feels embarrassed, too desperate to grow up, too obvious how hard he wants to be liked.
August arrives too quickly, camp long over, and his dad announces one Sunday morning at breakfast that his brother has invited the family out to the Hamptons for a weekend. Of course, they’ll be going, leaving no room for argument from Blaine or Mom.
Blaine’s uncle had moved to New York and done well for himself, doing something boring involving finances and that’s all Blaine cares to remember. Beyond his need to show off his wealth, all Blaine really needs to know is that his uncle treats Blaine like an afterthought, having no kids with his wife, so Blaine’s an amusement, something to entertain the adults and then go away and not bother them once they’re done being amused by him.
There will be no one around his age most likely, and while he doesn’t mind swimming in the ocean, he has to leave his guitar behind and as for his piano lessons, well, Dad says he can pick those back up once they’re back home.
Going into the trip with every expectation to be as miserable as possible guarantees the result. It’s terribly hot and sticky and Blaine has never been sunburned before so he doesn’t put on sunscreen as his mom orders that first day out on the private beach at his uncle’s house. He turns an uneven shade of red and lets Mom cover him in soothing lotion, her voice soft as she chides him.
“I’m sorry,” he says, because he has other things to apologize for. Her hand briefly touches the back of his head, the least sunburned part of him.
The next day he coats himself up in the stupid stuff, even his face, which he decides is just going to make his skin look even worse as he’s clogging his pores with sun block, like that would help his naturally oily skin.
His parents are still sleeping off a late night at so-and-so’s party, something Blaine had not been allowed to go, staying indoors with a friend of the family, a teenage girl obviously paid quite a lot to babysit him. He’s feeling reckless and mean this morning, but not mean enough to do much beyond raiding the kitchen for a breakfast he doesn’t have to cook.
He doesn’t wait the full hour after eating that he's supposed to before he heads down to the little beach.
The morning belongs to him. He wades out into the ocean, waves rippling with the morning break. It isn’t terribly strong and he knows well enough about undertows to not stray out too far.
He can see boats in the distance and wonders what kind of people are on board and if they wouldn’t mind kidnapping him and being okay that he’s weird and short and so very, very gay.
Blaine had overhead his dad and uncle joking about him the other day.
His uncle had started it, saying how maybe they should take a trip out to Fire Island—which Blaine kind of secretly hopes is an island on fire or something equally cool—and that’s when he heard it, “A kid that gay better know what he’s getting into, huh?” His uncle had laughed and it had been cruel, the mocking laugh of bigger kids who tease Blaine at school.
He’d gotten so used to hearing it that he didn’t expect it to hurt. It still makes him feel sick, to know his uncle thinks that he’s wrong.
There was a muffled noise—Dad had punched his brother’s arm. He’d hissed, “Don’t you fucking say that about my son,” and Blaine heard the venom, the hatred and he knew right then that being gay was bad, so bad it made his dad lash out and hit.
Blaine makes a decision that morning, drifting in the water, no, treading, that’s how the saying goes, treading water. He isn’t going to hide it anymore.
If Dad hates him, fine, maybe Mom will forgive him, or maybe, maybe, he’ll have to make himself extraordinary, better than everyone, and then they’d see, they’d all see.
When they fly back to Ohio, he’s darker and stands a little straighter. He’s got to be something else, someone special, but he has such a long way to go.
At thirteen, he starts performing in theme parks.
He’s gained a couple of inches in height so he’s only short instead of pathetically short. Blaine’s figured out the best way to trim and tame his hair, presenting an image less like a smug kid and more like a kid that’s going places.
There’d been luck on his side and Blaine was amazed at his voice breaking much earlier than expected, allowing a new tutor in his life, a vocal coach. His technique’s constantly criticized, his breathing control a constant source of frustration, still, it’s all constructive, so he takes it well enough.
“Stop getting so excited. I know you want to get to the big showy notes, but you have to earn them. You’re telling a story. Who cares about the big moments without the buildup?”
He’s beginning to force himself to listen. Sure, he still pushes for the lead, plants himself in the center of group performances to make sure the audience loves him best and will only remember him. He smiles so hard the muscles in his face ache but he means it so hard that maybe they believe he’s confident and talented: he’s a star.
And when they believe him, he can start believing it likewise.
“What’s with the junker in the driveway?” Blaine asks his dad one June day, the sky overcast and promising rain.
“Little project I thought you and me could work on,” his dad starts to explain, launching into the whole spiel, Blaine carefully masking his face into blank interest. He catches you’re fourteen, you need to know how to be a man before he lets his mind wander.
It would be exciting, this offering of entry into manhood if Blaine’s teacher hadn’t called a meeting with his parents right before school had let out. Something about his prospects in high school, he’d overhead (eavesdropped).
No, grades aren’t a problem, academically Blaine’s worked hard for his honors and has all the right signs of a Promising Young Student, and yes, of course his extracurriculars are a good start, choir and band. Indeed, he has a bright academic future. It’s just his teacher’s concerned because Blaine’s made so many complaints about other students.
Blaine doesn’t know the exact words his teacher had used, but he does understand the overall message: maybe your son should try a little harder at not being so gay and then he’d be left alone.
“What do you say?” his dad says after a long pause, a question that leaves no room for a disagreement, for any sign of teenage rebellion. There’s a car to be restored and the Anderson men are up for the task.
So Blaine lies through his teeth and says he’d love to do it as long as it doesn’t interfere with his lessons.
His dad shrugs. “Oh that. Thought you were getting a little too old for that.”
“Scholarships,” Blaine says weakly. What he wants to say is: but music is me, Dad.
“We’ve put aside enough for your future education,” his dad says, and if it’s a little unkind and sharp, an implicit warning, well maybe Blaine deserves it.
He spends the summer getting a tan befitting honest labor in their yard, drops enough tools on his foot to last a lifetime, fracturing one toe along the way. He catalogues every glance his dad sends his way, the worried looks, the relieved looks, all of them shouting one thing: don’t be what you’re meant to be, be something else.
By the summer’s end, he finally has enough of it.
One day when he’s able to craft up a good lie, he sneaks down to the free clinic and seeks out information that clarifies all of the strange things he’s found online. Blaine’s watched several clips of wonderful, impossible things happening that only made him want all the more to have the chance to do that with someone else, nearly downloaded a virus onto to his laptop, and never dares breathe a word to his dad that greased hands aren’t able to change a single thing about him.
Fourteen going on fifteen is a year of painful growth spurts, of nasty messages scrawled against his locker, hissed comments directed at his face, his back, at whatever part of him is closest and therefore offensive merely by existing. Blaine dares to be gay while breathing and that cannot be allowed and he takes every hurt and pushes it deeper and deeper, trying to fight back in logical ways, going to adults, the people supposed to protect him.
His mom broaches the subject one fateful night when all the principal does is sigh at Blaine, explaining how kids will be kids.
“What do you want to do, sweetheart?”
He’s so tired. The word’s out of his mouth before he considers what it really means. “Leave.”
He transfers after winter break and puts on the uniform, a new beginning, and promises himself he’s never going to look back.
He learns to shift charming an audience into blatantly, no openly flirting with boys and lets himself really feel that thrill that he’s truly everything in the moment. What he can be is someone suave and assured and being a teenager means he’s practically a grownup.
He’s Blaine Anderson, and he’s a Dalton boy, and he’s not the tragic mess so desperate for people to like him, people like him now just because.
His parents don’t ask him much about Dalton and only put on indulgent faces when he explains how if he really works at it, come the fall he might become one of the youngest lead soloists for the Warblers. He might just be able to lead them competitively, even.
“You haven’t been playing your guitar much,” his mother notes when they’re by themselves cleaning up in the kitchen. Dad never stays around much these days beyond family dinners.
“Why would I? The Warblers are acapella, Mom,” Blaine says, pretending that he’s being patient while knowing he sounds incredibly snotty.
“It’s such a waste,” his mother begins but Blaine can’t take the blow—that he’s dwindled his future college funds by needing to run away—so he goes on the defensive.
It isn’t his first fight with his mom—a naturally inclined kid who saw a height and rushed to leap from it is always going to argue with a worried mom every now and then—but it is their worst, ending with hot tears shed and a few words exploding out that can’t ever be taken back.
At no point does his dad rush in to find out what’s going on.
Finally Mom breaks it down, shattering him, “I’m not ashamed of you, Blaine. I love you. You’re so much stronger than you think. It’s a waste that you think you have to try so hard—”
That’s the end of it, whatever mistaken anger dies in that moment and Blaine tries to apologize, to explain that no, they’re having two different arguments. His words are weak but he tries to explain that he knows how to be strong. People like him now and isn’t that what she wanted for him?
“Oh, Blaine,” his mother says, sweeping up a broken plate that neither of them will ever remember who had thrown it, “I want you to be happy.”
Lying to his mom is a whole lot worse than lying to his dad, but he does it anyway. She doesn’t for one moment buy it. It’s the first stumbling step in making apologies that’ll stick and neither of them have ever been very good at staying mad forever.
Kurt Hummel knocks Blaine flat on his ass without either of them realizing it until it’s too late.
Before, what Blaine had doubted in himself were external forces: his family’s disappointments, or his inability to make the world fall in love with him at large until he had figured out how to fake it.
Now Kurt’s come into his life and done the impossible, turning him back into that awkward kid all over again. No wonder what he feared all along has been inside of him, and damn Kurt for making Blaine confront things he’d long thought have been resolved.
Kurt wouldn’t have been afraid of a silly thing like a maze and when Blaine asks him about hanging on monkey bars, Kurt raises an eyebrow before finally admitting that he had preferred the swing sets. Or, he’d finally admit ever so quietly that he loved the horses best.
“The springing kind, you know,” he says, slightly embarrassed as if Blaine appeared in the world fully formed as a quasi-adult and that makes Blaine feel so, so foolish.
But the springing animals, yes, Blaine knows exactly what he means, and nods. He’d been the kid who’d jumped off one of them just to show that he could.
“I bet you always wanted a pony.”
Kurt rolls his eyes. “I was more interested in having my own castle.”
“I wanted a flying carpet,” Blaine confesses, because Kurt won’t mock him.
“I thought a tiger would be very chic. Although a bit unrealistic.”
Blaine smiles and put his arm around Kurt, despite it being a tad awkward since Kurt easily has a couple of inches on him and a much longer stride and boy, he uses it when he wants to make Blaine readjust his normal walking speed. “Which one of us gets the genie?”
“You probably,” Kurt says. “I’d use my wishes for evil.”
There have been many obvious signs before this, and frankly Blaine kind of knows on some vague, terrifying level that there’s something real and true here if only he can stop worrying. But he’s effectively pushed it down because he refuses to lose his best friend over another stupid crush, a mere infatuation.
Blaine doesn’t mean to sound so awed, but it’s an incredible person who gives up a theoretical genie without a fight. Then that wild part of him, the part that leaps without thinking and dreams of a fabulous ocean-bound life where every part of him is accepted and wanted, it escapes from his carefully constructed cage, and there’s a whisper of the word that he’s so scared of: love.
He stops walking and Kurt stops as well.
“What if,” Blaine begins, terrified to be honest, “I wished something awful? Like you’d only be able to wear poly-blends for the rest of your life? Or leisure suits.”
“You take that back, Blaine or I’ll steal your theoretical genie lamp and wish something truly terrible like—”
“What would you make me do?”
It’s a frightening moment, that, there’s a deeper suggestion under it, the needy question—do you want me? Do you want to make me do what you want?—twisting from a childish taunt into an almost grownup promise.
Kurt swallows hard, and creates enough distance between them that Blaine’s forced to let go of him.
“Sometimes,” Kurt starts out, haltingly, “When I think about you, about what you’d look like, without, well—”
“Well, I think it would be pretty daring and perhaps a little risqué…you know, we don’t have to talk about this.”
“We do,” Blaine says, a little dumbly, tongue heavy in his mouth. “We really do.”
“Fine. I would love to see what you look like with highlights.”
“Highlights,” Blaine repeats. “Seriously?”
“You don’t think it’ll work? It would probably be better than dumping a salon’s worth of extra firm hold styling gel, no? Oh, that could be my wish! You have to wear your hair au naturel.”
It takes Blaine several minutes to work out a response before he finally sputters, “That’s just evil.”
“I did warn you,” Kurt says as he takes pity on Blaine by patting his shoulder. He so rarely touches Blaine that he can’t help but press into the touch to make it last a split second longer. “We can’t be late for class.”
“Right,” Blaine agrees. Just as Kurt’s a few steps ahead of him, Blaine calls out, “Hey, Kurt?”
“What are your plans this summer?”
Kurt frowns, his left hand pulling at the strap of his satchel as he considers Blaine’s question. “Nothing very exciting. I don’t know. Edit my wardrobe for the upcoming season. You?”
“We should hang out.”
Kurt laughs then, the one he does when he can’t control it, an awkward slip of a thing that makes Blaine smile with ease. “That’s a given, right?”
Blaine can only smile because what he hopes is obvious, that hang out means we should date, we should be best friends forever, we should be together isn't out in the open yet but he’s got up until the summer to work on saying those words out loud.
Maybe that’s another kind of leap, one that’s blind and likely to leave him hitting the ground hard. It’s nothing he can practice for, or that he can master with a few charming words and a can-do attitude.
He can feel himself tipping forward on the seesaw, that quick light-headed sensation as he reaches the sky, only this time, there’s someone on the other end balancing him and his feet don’t have to touch the ground.