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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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“Well, well, well, what have we here?” Karofsky chuckles as he throws Blaine through the bathroom door. Blaine flies across the tile floor like a rag doll, passed off from jock to jock until he reaches his final destination – the single foot of space between the last sink and the bathroom wall. After months of being tossed around like a sack of potatoes, he’s learned that bracing for the fall hurts worse than just letting it happen. If he’s limp, he runs less of a chance of breaking an ankle, or a wrist, which would devastate him considering the fact that he’s a musician. Any damage to his hands would wreck his life far longer than the lunch hour these guys plan on torturing him.

The impact of his body against the sink, the wall, the floor, the lockers, leave visible bruises, but the grabs from out of nowhere have given him honest to God PTSD. Even at home, he has a hard time walking past doorways without assuming someone’s going to grab him. It doesn’t help that for the first third of his life, his older brother Cooper used to do just that, dragging him into dark closets to administer wedgies and Indian burns.

Little did Blaine know that Cooper was preparing him for the eventual torment of high school.

“So what shall it be today, boys?” Karofsky asks, his body blocking Blaine’s only escape path. “A swirly for our little friend? Or should we hang him from the flagpole by his tighty-whities?”

“If I get a say …” Blaine puts in, but a hand over his mouth shuts him up. It’s warm, clammy, and smells like a mixture of sweat and salami, which makes Blaine queasy with every breath in. He holds his breath in an attempt not to puke.

If he throws up on Karofsky’s letterman’s jacket, his prized possession, Blaine will probably have to lick it clean.

“I say we toss him in the porta john and tip it over. Then dump everything he owns on the highway,” Azimio, Karofsky’s right hand jerk, pipes in.

“Yeah,” his other lackey, who everyone calls Puck, agrees. “That’s excellent!”

But something in Karofsky’s eyes tells Blaine that that isn’t enough. Whatever Blaine did to offend him today, which probably amounts to existing, covering him in shit and destroying his belongings wasn’t going to cut it.

“No, no, no.” A sinister grin lifts Karofsky’s lips. “I have a better idea. You wanna earn your way out of a beating today, kid?” He doesn’t give Blaine a chance to come back with a snappy remark, which, even in the midst of having his arm twisted behind his back, Blaine is known for. Blaine’s not a fighter. Regardless of the amount of boxing lessons his dad has tried to give him, Blaine can barely throw a punch. But it could never be said that he doesn’t go down without a jab, even if it’s only a verbal one.

Karofsky grabs Blaine by the collar and drags him out of the bathroom, shoving him into the hallway in full view of a science teacher, who walks by and does nothing. Blaine didn’t expect him to. The teachers at this school seem to know what goes on between the jocks and basically ever other student there, but they don’t do a blessed thing about it.

They can’t, not when the McKinley Titans rank number one in the nation in high school football. Not when recruiters from major colleges come to their games. Not when no less than five seniors a year are recruited before graduation. Sticking up for Joe Schmo Student against one of McKinley’s precious football players might mean their jobs.

It did for the Glee Club’s original director, William Schuester.

Karofsky spins Blaine around, directing his gaze towards another pack of kids that most of the student body steers clear of. Just like the jocks, they, too, have a dress code that sets them apart - ripped denim and hole-riddled shirts exposing skin and bras from every angle, torn stockings, and thick-soled shoes. They’re gathered by the mouth of a stairwell, occasionally smacking books out of the hands of unassuming passersby, centered around the only boy among them. He’s sitting on the floor, dressed in the epitome of black - a black t-shirt with the sleeves torn off, and black skinny jeans feeding into an untied pair of black Doc Marten boots. The only not black thing about his ensemble is the streak of hot pink in his hair.  

Blaine knows this group by reputation alone. They call themselves The Skanks.

And the boy with the hot pink hair is their leader – Kurt Hummel.

“There.” Karofsky pushes Blaine their way. “Go kiss Hummel.”

Blaine’s jaw drops straight to his knees.

“No,” he says without thinking about it. “No way. Not in a million years.” Not because kissing Kurt Hummel is a bad thing, per se. Definitely not a bad thing. It’s actually something that Blaine has fantasized about – socially irrelevant Blaine Anderson getting caught up in a secret, whirlwind romance with bad boy Kurt Hummel. There’s only one problem with that scenario.

Messing with the jocks at McKinley meant asking for a bruising.

But it was a widely accepted fact that crossing paths with The Skanks was suicide.

“It’s kiss Hummel, or I’ll pummel you into so many pieces, your father’s going to take you to the hospital in an envelope.”

“Would that be a business envelope? Or the ones they send catalogs in?”

“Just go.” Karofsky puts a foot to Blaine’s ass, sending him flying halfway down the hall, shedding books and papers as he falls. Blaine takes a moment to collect his things and, while he does, he considers his options. If he makes a break for it, he might be able to get to the janitor’s closet one floor down. It’s one of the few rooms in the building that has a lock and a bolt on the door. But even if he manages to get there, Karofsky and his crew might simply stand guard and wait him out.

Blaine can’t live in the janitor’s closet. He’ll have to come out sooner or later.

And if the janitor shows up, he might get a beating and detention.

On the other hand, Blaine has heard rumors about Kurt and his girls - rumors that include felonies and broken legs.

Blaine isn’t eager to discover for himself if those are true.

Blaine looks over his shoulder to see if Karofsky and his henchmen are watching him still. There they are, right where Blaine left them, Karofsky pounding his fist into his palm to let Blaine know what he plans to do to him if he doesn’t go through with this.

So, his choices are get his face pounded into ground beef by Karofsky, or get shanked by Kurt.


As Blaine inches forward and gets a better look at the boy – pale, flawless skin; muscular shoulders and arms; trim waist; bent over paper squares and a bag of something that looks like oregano - Blaine decides that, on aesthetics alone, he’ll pick Kurt. But before he can get within a foot of him, Kurt’s girls create a wall between them, blocking Blaine’s view of Kurt, who Blaine realizes is rolling a joint.

“He---hello?” Blaine says.

“What the heck do you want?” a brunette asks, cocking a hip and staring Blaine down with fiery brown eyes.

“Uh … I was hoping I could talk to you …” Blaine says, trying to speak over the heads of the six girls in front of him. “Uh … to Kurt … maybe?”

“Well, this is new,” Kurt says from behind his human blockade. “Isn’t it, girls?”


Very new.”

“Brand spanking new.”

Blaine stands his ground, stupidly optimistic, but none of the girls part to give him access. Blaine looks at the faces glaring at him, not sure what he’s supposed to do next.

“If you wanna talk, talk,” Kurt says. “I don’t have a lot of time … or patience.”

“Uh … okay.” Blaine’s stomach churns, his back sweats, his head spins, because it isn’t only Kurt he’s talking to. Kurt’s whole gang is standing between them, listening to every word Blaine says.

“I don’t know how to say this exactly …” Blaine begins.

“You say it fast before I kick your ass from here to Kalamazoo.”

“Uh … uh …” Blaine’s voice shakes, his mouth so dry, his tongue feels like asphalt. “I … I n-need … to kiss you.”

The girls snicker, but Kurt sounds dead serious when he says, “Charming. Did you come up with that line all by yourself? Or am I not worth the trouble of something better?”

“Uh, I … yes, you are?”

“Are you asking me?”

“No, I …”

“Is this some sort of stupid dare or something? Because, I’ll tell you, kid, if it is …”

“No. I guess, I … it’s … uh …” Blaine doesn’t have to look over his shoulder to know he’s running out of time. He can feel the weight of Karofsky’s stare bowing his shoulders like a hand on his neck.

Prompted by the verbal static of Blaine’s non-stop stuttering, Kurt looks up, peeking past his girls to get a look at Blaine’s face. Whatever Blaine’s eyes do, Kurt catches it. He shifts in his seat and looks beyond Blaine at the pack of red-backed gorillas staring them down from the opposite end of the hallway. He looks back at Blaine, and that’s when Kurt notices other little things about him – a fading black eye, a healing cut on his lip, the way he’s holding his books to his chest, white-knuckled, his arms clamped down to his sides at the elbows to keep them from trembling.

Kurt had no intention of beating Blaine up. He just wanted to scare him a little. Blaine’s a sweet kid. Sweeter than sweet. Lollipop sweet, and Kurt’s often thought, in another lifetime perhaps, they could be an item – bookish Blaine Anderson and rebel Kurt Hummel. Except, in his fantasy, he discovers that Blaine’s not quite the shy nerd behind closed doors … and Blaine discovers that Kurt isn’t as much of a punk as he makes himself out to be. But that’s just a daydream, and in Kurt’s world, dreams don’t come true. Regardless, he’s made it clear to his gang that they don’t touch a hair on Blaine’s head, for his own reasons, and his girls don’t question his orders. Contrary to popular belief, Kurt and his crew don’t make it a point of bullying people on the regular. They might shake down a few obnoxious kids for lunch money, but they prefer to be left alone.

They’re not like the jocks, who choose one kid to terrorize, and then go out of their way to make their lives a living hell.

Kurt’s been on the receiving end of that stick, and he swore never again, which was when The Skanks were born.

He’d had his suspicions that Dave Karofsky and his goons had their hooks into Blaine, but he was certain that someone would take care of it. Blaine had people who cared about him – parents who looked after him, an older brother. They’d do something … or so Kurt thought.

If that’s not the case, then that’s a fucking shame. Blaine deserves better.

And it’s high time Kurt did something about it once and for all.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Blaine Devilish Anderson,” Kurt says, rising to his feet. He shoos his girls aside so he can confront Blaine, his whole harem watching with wicked grins. “You finally made it down to my end of the hallway.”


Kurt winks. Immediately, Blaine catches on.

“Well, I …” Blaine wants to go along with him, but he’s not as good an improviser as Kurt. Kurt should have tried out for the school musical because he would have been a shoe in for the lead. The way Kurt is looking at him now, Blaine might believe that Kurt has been waiting for him.

But there’s no way that’s the case. Blaine can’t remember Kurt even looking his way, and he’s never spoken a word to him.

So why is Kurt doing this?

“You know, there’s a penalty for coming down here uninvited.” Kurt takes Blaine’s things out of his arms and hands them off to someone; Blaine doesn’t see who. Then he pushes Blaine up against the wall and locks him there with his body, an arm to each side of his head.

“I-is there?” Blaine asks, attempting to contribute anything he can to this charade. He feels a little braver knowing that they’re communicating on the same wavelength.

He feels a little less alone with Kurt willing to help him.

“I’m sorry. I must have missed the memo.”

“Yeah?” Kurt grins. “Well, hopefully you won’t miss this.”

Kurt hesitates for a second, looking from Blaine’s mouth to his eyes, waiting for some sort of permission. Blaine gives it in the form of the slightest nod, only visible to Kurt, who doesn’t even see it, but feels it as their noses brush together.

Of course, Blaine’s going to give Kurt Hummel permission to kiss him. When else will he ever get this opportunity?

Kurt breathes in like he’s breathing Blaine in. He tilts his head to one side, brushing his lips against Blaine’s mouth. The moment Kurt’s lips touch his, Blaine’s whole body quivers, the only thing keeping him upright after that being Kurt’s body against his.

And then, Kurt kisses him.

Kurt tastes sweet, like grape Fanta, and he smells like clove cigarettes and some kind of floral cologne. Blaine knows he’s smelled it before, but he can’t place it, Kurt’s lips possessing his shutting down every thought processor in his brain, systematically erasing pieces of information that he knows by heart.

Kurt’s tongue in his mouth completely obliterates the lyrics to the song he’s been learning in Glee for their next competition.

Kurt’s moan wipes Blaine’s address and telephone number clean away.

Kurt grabbing Blaine’s hands and putting them on his hips dissolves his schedule for the rest of the afternoon.

But Kurt pressing his hard-on against Blaine’s leg annihilates his very name.

The girls hoot and holler, starting a round of applause so deafening, no one with ears could miss it.

“Come on, guys. Move it to a bed,” Santana groans, even though she doesn’t lift a finger to split the boys apart.

From the far end of the hallway, Blaine hears the sound of angry stomping, sneaker soles squeaking against the smooth floor as the pack leaves their corner and travels down The Skanks’ way. Blaine assumes they’ll walk on by in a huff, seeing as Blaine did as he was told. But, then again, Karofsky wasn’t exactly known for sticking to his word.

The stampeding stops short of Blaine and Kurt, but Kurt doesn’t stop kissing him.

A hand to Kurt’s shoulder forces them apart, but Kurt slips out of its grip to hedge Blaine in again.

“Hey! Mind your own business, you ape,” Kurt says, lips returning to hover over Blaine’s mouth. “I’m kinda busy here.”

“You … you kissed him!?” Karofsky roars, as if Kurt kissing Blaine doesn’t just throw him for a loop, it offends him on a personal level.

“Yeah, I kissed him!” Kurt goes from annoyed to genuinely angry in a breath. He turns away from Blaine, positioning himself between Blaine and Karofsky as if he intends to protect him. “That makes him mine! A Skank. And that means you keep your fucking hands off him from now on, you hear me?”

An expression Blaine can’t read emerges on Karofsky’s face, but it passes quickly. He looks at his friends behind him and smirks. “I don’t take orders from you, fag.”

“Oh, yeah?” Kurt takes a step forward, getting into Karofsky’s face, wearing a smile that could freeze lava. “That’s not what you said last summer when I had my dick up your ass.”

Curious murmurs in the hall from the audience they’ve attracted are replaced by astonished gasps, and Karofsky’s face goes stone white.

“You … you swore you’d never say anything!” he sputters.

“Yeah? Well, if you don’t wanna play fair, I don’t need to play fair. You’ve tortured Blaine for long enough. That ends now.”

“Does it?”

“Yeah. It does.”

“Who’s gonna stop me?”

“I am,” Kurt says, arms defiantly crossed.

“Yeah, right,” Karofsky says, unimpressed. “You and what army?”

Kurt doesn’t say a word. He raises his hands, gesturing to the girls he knows are standing behind him.

Karofsky blurts out a laugh that sounds forced even though, from all outward appearances, he and his jocks have the advantage – as far as size is concerned anyway. But Kurt has numbers. And the largest of the Skanks, Lauren, is on the wrestling team. She’s taller than Karofsky and wider than Azimio. Plus, she’s undefeated. She could probably give them both a run for their money.

“I think me and my pals here can take a bunch of girls.”

Blaine looks at the girls assembled behind Kurt, each one ready for whatever’s about to come next. They all seem to know something that Blaine doesn’t, but he knows enough to back the hell away. The crowd starts to chant, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” and that’s when everything erupts.

Blaine doesn’t see who throws the first punch. He’s embarrassed to say that when fists start flying, he runs. But he doesn’t run away. He runs to the principal’s office, yelling for as many teachers as he can along the way, anyone he thinks might help. Then, in what’s probably not the brightest decision of his life, he goes back to the battle to see how things play out. Because even though he knows this might make his problems with Karofsky ten times worse, he can’t leave Kurt and his gang to clean up the mess that he made. Blaine didn’t start the fight, but if he’d just let Karofsky and his friends kick the crap out of him, Kurt wouldn’t be getting his face pounded by a 300-pound quarterback.

Though the repeated knee strikes to Karofsky’s groin aren’t something he’s likely to recover from any time soon.

Karofsky and his gang get sent to their coach, but Kurt and his girls are sent to the principal’s office. Blaine goes with them. He’s given a pass back to class, but he can’t leave Kurt and his girls. They got into that fight over him. He isn’t about to ditch them. He owes them big time.

And if Kurt meant what he said, Blaine is one of them now.

He waits till the nurse leaves the office, then he slips in, past the privacy curtain to the exam room where Kurt sits, pressing a bag of ice to his swollen nose, eyes closed, looking like he could fall asleep any second. Blaine doesn’t know how Kurt knows it’s him standing there, but without waiting for a greeting, he mutters, “Well, that was a journey, wasn’t it?”

“I am so sorry.”

“It’s all good,” Kurt groans. “They had it comin’.”

Yeah, Blaine thinks. They did. But Kurt didn’t.

“How are you feelin’?”

“Like dog vomit.” Kurt sighs. It sounds painful. “Nurse thinks my nose’s broken. She called my dad. He’s coming to get me.”

“D-do … do you completely hate me now?” Blaine asks, sitting in a chair close by but still keeping his distance. By all accounts, Blaine came out better than anyone in this fight. He didn’t get hit, and he didn’t get detention.

Kurt and his Skanks got both.

On the bright side, Karofsky and his goons looked like chum when The Skanks were through with them. Azimio had to help Karofsky walk because he couldn’t stand on his own, and Blaine heard Puck moan something about his nipple ring getting torn out. But aside from having their faces rearranged, Blaine will be surprised if they don’t get off with a slap on the wrist.

“No,” Kurt says, sliding down in his chair to tilt his head back further and balance the bag of ice the nurse gave him on his aching nose, “I don’t completely hate you. But that might be the pain meds talking. By the way, they gave me a lot of those.”

“Well, since you are on medication and, therefore, less likely to hurt me, can I be honest about something?” Blaine asks, wondering whether he should risk scooting closer, or move farther away.

“You should be honest about things even if you think they’re gonna get you hurt.” Kurt takes a deep breath, like he’s going to add something to that, but he decides against it. “But yeah, go ahead. I’m not gonna do anything.”

“Kissing you …” Blaine subconsciously chews on his lip, remembering what kissing Kurt felt like.

How it made him feel fearless, made his whole body come alive.

“… I’ve always wanted to do … that.”

Kurt opens his eyes. He doesn’t look at Blaine, just blinks up at the ceiling. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Blaine says, his stomach dropping hard now that he’s let that secret out.

“Well, since we’re being honest and stuff, can I tell you something?”

“Sure,” Blaine says, certain that this is the moment when Kurt tears him a new one.

“I wish you would have told me that earlier ...” Kurt’s gaze darts at Blaine, and he tosses him a wink “… Skank.”