Blaine stared down at his phone, biting his bottom lip as he read the news.
“Anderson Defeated: Still Needs To Work On Nerves”
His coach was next to him, trying to convince him not to read any more articles about his failure. Blaine felt completely humiliated and it was obvious, but he still tried his best not to show. He kept his tears at bay, while other athletes passed them by.
Blaine Anderson was a figure skater. Before that night, he had always been very proud to say it. He had followed his dream and became one of the top figure skaters in the United States. Since he was a little kid, he felt like he belonged on the ice. He believed he was a dime-a-dozen skater, but people seemed to think he could be great.
None of that mattered now. They were wrong. It had been his first time competing at the Grand Prix Finals, one most important competition in a season. Blaine was nervous, of course he was nervous. He never expected to actually make it to the podium, but he didn’t expect to fail so miserably either.
“’Anderson fell to the last place. Is this season his last?’” Blaine read out loud, in a small voice.
When sitting in the hallway became too much, he stood up and excused himself. His coach only offered him an apologetic look and watched him walk away. While Blaine walked, he kept his gaze down, too embarrassed to look at anyone in the eye. He passed by a television and saw the three skaters on the podium. That made him stop to watch. Of course, he wasn’t surprised at who got the gold medal. No one was.
“...He’s also crushed the free skating event! This will be the fifth consecutive Grand Prix Final victory, for France’s legend, Kurt Hummel!” The narrator spoke excitedly.
Blaine couldn’t look away from the man kissing the gold medal. Kurt looked absolutely stunning that night. He always did. Sometimes Blaine didn’t even believe he was human. He looked like a prince in that outfit. The narrator went on:
“Hummel is now 27 years old. Some speculated that he might retire this season, but his masterpiece performance seems to lay such rumors to rest.”
The skater continued to walk as the narrators began to talk about the other skaters. He needed some time alone, and the closest place he could find privacy in that moment was the bathroom. He had disappointed so many people that night. He sighed as he entered the bathroom stall and closed the door.
Blaine sat down on the toilet and closed his eyes. This was the worst day of his life, he was sure of it. How could he look at his ice rink mates in the eye after this? Or his coach? Or his family? He had moved out of Ohio, to a training facility in New York just to work harder with the best possible coach, his parents were paying a lot of money, because they did believe in him, but now…
He wished he could just disappear. People were already asking him if he was going to retire. How could he answer that now? He couldn’t even think straight. His anxiety was getting to him. His phone was buzzing in his pocket, making him jump a little.
Blaine stared at the screen for a while, trying to find the strength to pick up and just talk to his mother.
“Blaine, darling…” He heard her voice after he answered the call.
“I messed up, mom.” Blaine blurted out.
“We… uh, we were watching.” Pamela, his mother, replied.
“It was all my fault,” Blaine muttered, looking down and blinking back tears. “I’m so sorry.”
He heard his mother sigh. “Blaine… There’s no reason to apologize, we know you were working really hard. You just-… You had a bad day. I know we shouldn’t have told you about Lizzie.”
“No! I had the right to know about her being gone.” Blaine closed his eyes, as he thought of his dog. He had had the same dog since he was a kid, and when his brother called him the night before to tell him that she had passed away… He really didn’t know how to handle the news.
The Grand Prix Finals were in Russia that year. He had spent the past two weeks there practicing. He knew Lizzie was sick, and probably would not live much longer, but it broke his heart that he wasn’t able to say goodbye. “Last night, I-… Before Cooper called to tell me,” He muttered, “The pressure had me binge-eating too. I really couldn’t deal with-... I was weak.”
“I messed up.” He repeated, not able to hold back his tears anymore. “I’m sorry.”
Blaine quickly hung up and turned off his phone. His mother would worry, he knew that, but he just couldn’t deal with anyone in that moment. All he could do was cry. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed, trying to keep quiet, even though the bathroom was empty. It felt good to finally be able to let his tears fall.
Suddenly, he froze. He could see two feet standing in front of his stall. Someone else was there, someone he hadn’t even heard coming in. He didn’t even have a second to wonder who that could be when he heard the door being kicked, making him jump, almost letting out a scream.
Blaine stood and with shaky hands, he began to open the door. “I’m sorry…” He spoke quietly, he didn’t know what he was apologizing for, but apparently, that was all he was able to say that night.
He looked at the boy’s shoes, then slowly up at his face, shocked to see a pair of angry green eyes staring back at him. He knew who that was. The Junior Grand Prix Final gold medalist… Blaise Lambiel.
Blaise was just a teenager but had already made an impression as a figure skater. He had quite an attitude too, even being known as "the French Punk". Blaise always had this look, like he was above everyone else, but at that moment, he was looking at Blaine like he was trash. Blaise was younger, but he was almost as tall as Blaine, and the look he had on his face did scare Blaine and made him shake. Blaine didn’t understand what he had done to make Blaise angry.
“Anderson…” Blaise spit out Blaine’s name, his French accent was very apparent
Blaine didn’t reply, just continued to look at Blaise, wondering what the hell he wanted.
“Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s rude to ignore people?” Blaise raised his eyebrow.
Blaine continued not knowing what to say. “I-, um…”
“I was watching your free program today.” Blaise interrupted Blaine before the man even had a chance to speak. “You are one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Blaine widened his eyes at the honesty. He didn’t expect the boy to speak to him in that way. The teenager let out a small chuckle when Blaine didn’t even defend himself.
“Really. I don’t know how you made it this far, but you want some advice?” Blaise asked, and without even waiting for Blaine’s reply, he continued. “Incompetents like you should just retire already.”
Blaine let out a breath he had been holding. Blaise was very intimidating, standing very close to Blaine, making him feel trapped between him and the stall. That boy had made sure that Blaine couldn’t run.
“I’ll be competing in the senior division next year.” Blaise announced proudly, “We don't need two people with such similar names in the same competition, do we? I wouldn't want people mistaking me for Blaine Anderson.
And with that, Blaise turned away to leave. Blaine could do nothing, but watch, wondering what he had done to Lambiel to make him so angry.
“I-… I’m sorry, but what have I ever done to you?” Blaine spoke and the boy didn’t even turn back to reply, only let out a scoff as he opened the bathroom door and left.
Blaine walked alongside his coach to leave the arena. He was thankful that the reporters there mostly left him alone. They were too busy interviewing Kurt Hummel, for sure. Blaine still kept his head down, all the things that the teenager had said to him were still re-playing in his head.
Even if he left the sport, there would be tons of talented young skaters rising through the ranks. There was no reason for Blaise to care so much. Maybe the boy was right, he should just quit already. Let another American skater represent the United States next.
“Mr. Anderson!” He heard his name being called. It was a reporter. He looked kind, so Blaine didn’t ignore him.
“Oh… Hi?” Blaine tilted his head.
“Don’t give up yet.” The man said, stepping closer to Blaine and his coach. “Look, I know today hasn’t been easy for you, but there’s still time. You’re too young to retire!”
Blaine glanced around, some reporters were close and they had probably heard their interaction. “I haven’t made up my mind yet.” He replied simply. “But thank you.”
“What will do you after you graduate college? Will you still train in New York?”
“Uh…” Blaine swallowed hard. “I’ll discuss that with Coach Schuester.”
“But I wanted to know what you think right now…” The reporter clearly wanted more out of Blaine, but the skater just didn’t want to think. He wanted to get out of that cold country as soon as possible. All he wanted to do was go back home.
“Hey, you…” That voice. Blaine would recognize that voice anywhere. Kurt Hummel. “Don’t think you’re getting away that easy.”
He widened his eyes and slowly turned around. Was Kurt Hummel talking to him?
“Ugh, quit nagging me, Hummel.” Blaise rolled his eyes as Kurt came closer. Of course, Kurt wasn’t talking to him. He was talking to Blaise, who was one of his rink mates and they were both in the French team together. Still, Blaine felt like the air had left his lungs as he watched the living legend himself. It was as if time had stopped and the whole air changed around Blaine. Kurt walked like he was in a runway, as if the world belonged to him and he was just kind enough to let everyone else share it with him. And his voice... Kurt Hummel sounded like an angel.
“Let me finish what I was saying earlier. About your free performance, I think your step sequence could use more-…”
“I won, didn’t I? So, who cares?” Blaise interrupted him as they walked together to meet their coach. The scary Coach Sylvester.
Blaine watched them, completely ignoring his coach, who was talking to the reporter for Blaine. He only had eyes for Kurt Hummel.
He had never really spoken to Kurt before. They had never competed against each other before, Blaine had never made it this far. Earlier that day, when they were practicing, Blaine almost went to greet Kurt, but he was so nervous that he barely made his way up to the man before someone called Kurt’s name.
Blaine realized he was staring, but it was too late. Kurt Hummel, with those beautiful blue eyes and that perfectly coiffed chestnut hair, turned to look back at him. Blaine let out a tiny gasp of surprise when their eyes met. To his surprise, Kurt smiled.
“Do you want a commemorative photo?” Kurt spoke, with his sweet voice and soft accent.
Blaine froze, this time Kurt was truly talking to him. Did Kurt even know who he was? Did he think he was just a fan?
“Sure, we can take one,” Kurt said and grinned charmingly.
Blaine was so embarrassed. He couldn’t take a picture with Kurt, not now. Not when he felt completely humiliated. He didn’t want to move closer to Kurt, he thought he didn’t even deserve it. To make matters worse, he felt everyone else's eyes on him: Kurt, Blaise, both coaches, and even the reporter were all looking at him and expecting an answer.
“N-no, thank you,” Blaine muttered, turning around without another word. He just wanted to leave that arena and not look back.
“Blaine!” Will Schuester, his coach, rushed to his side. “You don’t want a photo with Kurt? I know you admire him, why don’t you take a picture with him?”
“Because this is humiliating,” Blaine replied as he walked. “I really did believe that one day I would finally meet my idol on the same playing field… I was an idiot. I’m nothing compared to him.”
“Blaine, that’s not true…”
“Mr. Schue, I just want to go back to the hotel, okay?” Blaine left no room for argument, so his coach just followed him.
Kurt was still looking at Blaine, his eyes following the other skater as he left.
March - The next year
Blaine took a deep breath as he went down the escalator of Lima’s train station. He hadn’t been there in so long… He decided that after his failures and after he managed to graduate from college, it was time. He missed his family and he needed time to think. Thankfully, everyone in New York respected his decision, even his coach.
When Blaine announced that he wanted to end the contract, Coach Schuester looked very upset but didn’t push. He understood Blaine had already given this decision a lot of thought. The only thing Coach Schuester said was that Blaine shouldn’t give up just yet. And Blaine hadn’t, he wanted to go back to ice skating, but maybe another season. Surprisingly, Blaine still had a few fans on social media. They always sent him words of encouragement. He was grateful for them but decided not to say anything about his break. He only told his family.
He noticed how the old train station looked different, a lot had changed since the last time he came home. Suddenly, he stopped on his tracks and his eyes widened. There were posters of him! He never expected anyone in Lima to actually care about figure skating, but according to the words written on the posters, they were all rooting for him: Lima’s native figure skater, Blaine Anderson.
Blaine hurriedly put on his sunglasses, hoping no one would notice him there.
He actually gasped when he heard his name being called by a familiar voice. Blaine turned around, widening his eyes as he saw his good friend. He was very surprised to see her there.
“Oh, I’m so happy to see you!” The blond woman ran up to him and pulled him into a hug. “Welcome back!”
“Brittany?” Blaine hugged her back. He was confused, but it felt good to see a familiar and friendly face.
“Your mom asked me to pick you up,” Brittany explained, helping Blaine with his luggage. Blaine swallowed hard as he noticed a few people recognizing him. Brittany had yelled his name a bit too loud. “I missed my warbler very much, so of course I said yes.”
Blaine already felt better after all those terrible months of never-ending pressure. His friends hadn’t forgotten him. “I missed you too. All of you.” He offered her a smile. “So, where’s your car?”
“My car?” Brittany furrowed her eyebrows.
“Yes, I thought you said you came to pick me up.” Blaine was used to Brittany being confused quite often. Brittany considered Blaine one of her closest friends because Blaine was never mean or impatient with her.
“Oh, I did.” Brittany smiled, “But I still don’t know how to drive, silly. We’re getting an Uber.”
Blaine chuckled softly as the woman grabbed her phone and concentrated on finding them a driver.
“Excuse me?” A voice came from Blaine’s left and he turned to see who it was. He didn’t know who that man was, but the man was smiling at him like he knew Blaine. “You're Blaine Anderson, right? Can I get an autograph?”
Blaine looked away, embarrassed. Why would anyone want his autograph? He was a failure. Still, it was very surprising to see someone who admired him there. Blaine honestly thought that if anyone recognized him, they would actually laugh at him.
“I- uh-…” He had no idea what to say. “Sorry, I’m actually in a hurry right now-…”
“Blaine Warbler!” Brittany reprimanded. “Your hand won’t fall off if you give this man an autograph! Trust me, I’ve tested, hands don't fall off. So, be polite!”
Blaine nervously glanced back at the man, who was still smiling at him and holding a paper and a pen.
“Kurt Hummel is always nice to his fans.” Brittany frowned. She somehow always knew what to say to convince him.
Blaine turned back at the man and thanked him for the support. After giving him his autograph, Brittany made him shake hands with practically everyone who came close to them, even making Blaine take pictures with children. He was pretty sure an old lady who came to shake his hand had no idea who he was, but still, apparently, he was a local celebrity.
Blaine finally caught a break when the Uber driver arrived. They put his luggage in the trunk and got inside the back of the car with Brittany. Blaine waved, saying goodbye to everyone and thanking them again. He smiled to himself for the first time in ages.
“I wish we could greet everyone in town!” Brittany said excitedly as the car began to move.
Blaine chuckled, looking out the window. “It was nice. I thought everyone in Lima would be ashamed of me…”
“That’s silly.” Brittany shook her head. “You made it out of here, you were on TV… It doesn’t matter that you fell on your ass more times than we can count.”
Blaine sighed. “How’s Cassandra?”
Brittany turned sad then. “The studio is closed today. We barely have any students these days, anyway.”
“I heard she hired you to teach ballet.” Blaine offered softly.
“Yes.” Brittany nodded a little, looking down at her hands. “I teach kids. It’s fun, but lately, no one is interested in dancing, or ice skating around here.”
Blaine felt sad hearing that. When he was a little kid, his best memories were at the ice skating rink in Lima. It used to be just a roller rink, but the owner, April Rhodes, decided that an ice rink would be more exciting. For the first couple of years, it really was. Every kid wanted to become an ice skater at some point. Blaine was the only one from that town who actually stuck with that idea. As he got older, less people showed up to skate. “Rhodes Ice Castle” never closed because April was filthy rich. She didn’t mind paying a lot of money just to have a place to call her ice castle.
“Hey, maybe you can shake things up around here? Maybe kids will want to ice skate again!” Brittany sounded so hopeful.
Blaine only offered her a smile. He was quite sure he would never be capable of actually inspiring anyone.
“After the men’s short program of the World Figure Skating Championships, France’s Kurt Hummel is in the first place.”
The TV was on, but Pamela Anderson wasn’t paying very much attention, her son would finally be coming home. It wasn’t for a very good reason, she knew things weren’t going well for Blaine at all, but it took him three years to finally visit, so she would take what she could get.
“Is that the guy on Blaine’s posters?”
Pamela glanced up at the television. “That’s him.” She watched Kurt Hummel wink at the camera, making girls and boys scream. The man was quite charming.
“Hm… Apparently, he’s been called a living legend.” Her husband said, impressed.
Pamela only nodded, looking out the window again.
“After the Grand Prix Finals, he won the Nationals in France, as well as the European Championships. He’s still on a roll… The men’s free program will start later today at 7 pm.”
The woman grinned brightly as the car stopped in front of her house. Blaine was home! She ran out to hug her son the second he was out of the car. Blaine wouldn’t stop apologizing for taking so long to visit. Pamela understood. Blaine was always so busy and working so hard. Between practices and exams, Blaine only had time to catch up with sleep. It was okay, she wasn’t able to attend his graduation either.
“Blainey!” Cooper ran down the stairs to hug his little brother as soon as they walked into the house.
The whole family was happy they were united again. Cooper had decided to take a break from acting and spend some time with his family too. Pamela’s cheeks hurt from smiling so much. The house was full again.
“I made dinner,” Pamela announced after they spend some time catching up in the living room. “Brittany, you’re invited of course. It's so good to see you.”
Cooper and Blaine stayed behind, while Pamela, Richard, and Brittany moved to the dining room to set the table.
“So… Welcome back, Squirt.” Cooper grinned.
“You insist on calling me that…” Blaine chuckled.
“Old habits.” Cooper chuckled as well and shrugged. “So how long are you staying in Lima?”
Blaine didn’t know what to say. He honestly hadn’t had time to think about anything yet. He just needed a break, then, and only then, he would be able to answer these questions.
“You don’t know. It’s okay,” Cooper nodded, to reassure his brother. “I’ll support you no matter what. I don’t care if you decide you want to keep skating or become the next president, I just want you to be happy. Okay?”
Blaine let out a breath and smiled. He needed to hear that.
“Okay?” His brother asked again.
Both men turned as they heard their mother yell from the dining room. “Boys! Dinner!”
Cooper laughed. “That brings back memories.”
Blaine followed his older brother to the dining room. He gasped at the amount of food that his mother had made. She surely wanted to please her son, so she just made every recipe in the book. Blaine wouldn’t complain.
“And for dessert, I made cronuts. You can have as many as you like.” Pamela said softly as she kissed the top of her son’s head.
Blaine's heart felt warmer as he watched his family and his friend there with him. They all began to chat while they ate, Blaine fell silent, but a comfortable silence. He just wanted to take a moment to enjoy being at home, with people who weren't putting any kind of pressure on him and just wanted to see him happy. After they ate, Blaine grinned when his mother brought him her homemade cronuts. It was his favorite food in the whole world, his obsession. It was a flaky yet buoyant sugar-kissed pastry of perfection.
"Blaine Warbler..." Brittany had her eyes narrowed at Blaine, looking at him suspiciously. "Why are you still wearing your coat?"
Blaine was about to take the first bite on his second cronut when he paused and swallowed hard. "I-... Well, uh-..."
"I've been wondering since I saw you at the station." Brittany tilted her head. "You do look... different."
Blaine bit his lip, he knew what she was talking about. Ever since he was little, Blaine dealt with pressure by binge-eating, and he did gain weight easily. He was out of shape for an athlete, and he knew that if he did take off his coat, his tummy would become more evident. Brittany would surely flip if she saw it. He ignored her looks and continued to eat. He already felt bad enough, he didn't want her judging him either. As soon as he ended the contract with his coach, he began not to care so much about his weight. He ate more cronuts than he could, so he could deal with the pressure of his final exams. It didn't matter, it's not like he was going to go back to competing any time soon, anyway.
Walking into his old room felt very nostalgic. His parents hadn't changed a thing, still keeping it just like Blaine liked. Blaine pulled his suitcase inside the room and let out a breath. Being alone in there brought back memories. He looked around at all the Kurt Hummel posters on the wall. He'd been collecting those since he was nine years old. Kurt Hummel was fourteen when he made history on the ice, winning a gold medal in the Junior Worlds with the highest score in history. Kurt has always been his biggest inspiration and when he was younger, he used to spend hours daydreaming while looking at the posters hanging on his wall. It was a bit embarrassing to admit, but Blaine still kept buying new posters to this day, now being a 23-year-old man.
Blaine remembered the incident after the last Grand Prix Finals, how Kurt had talked to him and offered a picture. He blushed with embarrassment at the memory. When Blaine finally made it and officially became a professional figure skater, he hoped that one day he would get to talk to Kurt and tell him how much he's inspired him. He even hoped that maybe they could become friends. That would never happen, not after he failed so bad.
He looked away from the posters, too ashamed to look at Kurt's eyes. It was like he was being judged. Blaine was about to start unpacking when a picture of him and Lizzie together on his desk made his heart clench. He gently grabbed the portrait to take a better look. Lizzie was a brown middle-sized poodle. She was named after Kurt, in a way. Her actual name was Elizabeth, which was Kurt Hummel's middle name. Blaine blinked away tears as he stared at the dog. She had been his companion since he was eleven, and he felt terrible that he wasn't there for her in her last days.
His phone lit up with a new message.
From: Mike Chang
Are you watching the Worlds? Kurt will be skating soon!
Blaine sat down on his bed, sighing. He hadn't forgotten about the World Championship, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to watch it. He didn't feel like he belonged there anymore. He had spent all of his childhood watching every competition possible, just to feel closer to his dream, but how would he feel now? Maybe he'd feel even more of a failure. Watching Kurt would hurt too, because Kurt would be amazing, without a doubt, and Blaine would feel even worse for ever thinking that maybe he could be just as great.
Did Kurt ever feel like that?
That thought made Blaine look again at the posters. Kurt wasn't always smiling, but Blaine noticed how happy he looked when he was ice skating. Blaine could definitely relate to that. He honestly couldn't think of something that could make him happier than ice skating. Was all that love truly gone? Blaine quickly stood up again, moving to his suitcase and searching for the most important item in his life. There was only one way to find out.
Nobody questioned too much when Blaine announced he was leaving the house. Maybe they were still used to it, he used to do that a lot when he was a teenager. Everyone knew he was heading to the Rhodes Ice Castle. He couldn't hold back a smile when he saw Lima's ice skating rink again for the first time in years. His second home. It was close to the closing hour, so he just hoped he would get there before person he needed to talk left. The automatic door opened when he got close, he was in the Ice Castle again. He took a few steps inside and grinned.
"Sorry, our regular hours are over." The woman announced behind the counter. She was distracted, holding a pair of ice skates in her hands and placing them on the respective shelf.
"I was hoping you could make an exception for me?" Blaine bit his lip, not sure how she would react.
Quinn turned around quickly, to make sure that voice truly belonged to whom she thought it did. "Blaine?!"
Blaine offered her a smile. "It's been a while..."
"Oh, my goodness, Blaine!" Quinn almost tripped as she ran up to the man, desperate for a hug. She had missed her dear friend. Blaine didn't hesitate to hug her back. "I can't believe you're here, I thought you'd never come back!"
"I wouldn't do that to you." Blaine chuckled softly, pulling back from the hug to look at her. She still looked the same, maybe even more beautiful. Her blond hair was longer than it was when he had last seen her, and it was pulled back in a ponytail. Quinn was looking back at him too. If she did notice his weight gain, she didn't say anything. She just looked happy to see her friend again.
"Since when have you been in Lima?" Quinn asked.
"I got here a few hours ago," Blaine told her with a shrug.
Quinn raised her eyebrow. "And already came here to skate?"
Blaine blushed a little. "Would you believe me if I said I came to see you?"
"Blaine..." She narrowed her eyes.
"But I did!" Blaine insisted, but she just kept her eyebrow raised at him.
"Then why did you bring your ice skaters?"
Blaine bit his lip. "Well... I also came to skate."
Quinn let out a chuckle. "Oh, Blaine Warbler... you didn't change one bit." She paused. "Can we still call you that?"
"Of course." Blaine grinned.
That was a silly name that Brittany had given him when she heard him sing one day. Blaine's true love was ice skating, but he did enjoy singing too. One day, Brittany heard him singing as he practiced a routine and decided he sounded like a warbler. Ever since that day, she had always referred to him as 'Blaine Warbler', and Quinn thought it was adorable, so she called him a warbler too.
"Anyway..." Quinn grinned back. "If you want to use the rink, go ahead."
"Can I?" Blaine asked, just to make sure. "You won't get in trouble?"
"It's not like Ms. Rhodes will mind." Quinn shrugged. "Go. I'll cover for you." She winked.
"Thank you so much, Quinn." Blaine smiled softly.
"I know you want to skate alone," Quinn said, "But, I haven't seen you in three years, so I'll finish here and then I'll join you. Is that okay?"
Blaine agreed to that and made his way to the ice rink. He stopped at the locker room to change and put on his skates. Seeing Quinn had made him feel a lot happier. Blaine believed that Quinn was one of the most important people in his life, maybe even the reason he got into ice skating.
Quinn used to be his rink mate, two years his senior. When they were little, she was really good at skating and one day, she invited Blaine to the Rhodes Ice Castle. Even when Blaine was only six, Quinn already encouraged him, always complimenting his skating skills. Quinn protected him from Noah Puckerman too. Puck, as he liked to be called, like to tease Blaine about his weight and sometimes push him around, making him fall on the ice, but Quinn always came to the rescue. Puck had changed a lot, Quinn was now married to him and they seemed like a very happy couple. Blaine considered Puck a good friend too.
Most importantly, Quinn was the one who first told Blaine about Kurt Hummel. He remembered it like it was yesterday, the first time he saw Kurt.
"Blaine, you have to see this!" Quinn announced at the locker room and grabbed Blaine's hand, the younger boy followed her to the nearest television, where the Junior World Championship was on.
"What?" The little boy asked, confused by the girl's excitement.
"There! That's Kurt Hummel!" Quinn told him, pointing at the screen. "He just won the gold with the highest score in history, Blaine! In. History!"
Blaine's jaw dropped when he saw the boy's free skating routine. Those jumps! It was like he was capable of flying! Blaine was only nine years old, but he was sure in the moment that that's what he wanted to do with his life.
"He's so cool!" Quinn let out a dreamy sigh. Blaine disagreed with her, that boy wasn't just 'cool', he was amazing. It was impossible to look away.
As the years went by, Blaine became even more impressed with Kurt Hummel. After all these years, Kurt had never failed to surprise him. His skating had inspired Blaine in such a deep and beautiful way, that Blaine had no words to describe what Kurt Hummel meant to him. With every new choreography, Kurt seemed to get better and better. Blaine's heart ached when he thought about how close Kurt was to retirement.
Blaine entered the ice rink, his blades making a soft noise as it cut the ice. His thoughts were still on Kurt. Blaine smiled at his memory in that same ice rink, when he used to spend hours trying to perfectly copy Kurt's step sequences. Quinn was a fan too, so she even joined him sometimes. Blaine grinned brighter at a particular memory.
"You have a poodle now too?" Quinn gasped when she saw Blaine's new dog. It was exactly like Kurt's, only smaller. A couple of days before, Quinn had shown him a magazine that had a picture of Kurt next to his new dog and... What could Blaine say? He thought it was cute. The next day, Blaine convinced his parents to get him a new dog.
"Yeah, I named her Elizabeth. Like Kurt's middle name!" Blaine grinned.
"Obsessed much?" Puck commented, next to Quinn. Blaine didn't understand why Puck liked to hang out with them so much. Most of the time he was complaining...
"Well, I think it's a beautiful name, and a cute tribute." Quinn reprimanded. She then smiled. "You really like Kurt, huh?"
Blaine blushed, words couldn't even describe how much he liked Kurt, so he only nodded.
"I hope to see you compete against him one day," Quinn said while petting Elizabeth's head. "Soon you will. You'll see."
Blaine lost track of time, lost in his thoughts. Quinn entered the ice rink and waved at him. She wasn't going to skate, so she just stood there to watch.
"I wanted to show you something..." Blaine told her, skating over to her. He got closer so she could understand how serious he was about this. "I-... Everyone thinks I stopped skating after competitions ended, but... There's actually something I've been practicing since." He swallowed hard.
Quinn could clearly see through Blaine, she needed to give him his full attention, because whatever it was that he was going to show her meant a lot to him.
"Last up is Kurt Hummel from France. He's clearly considered France's hero, we can hear the audience cheering and it's deafening! It's the moment we've all been waiting for! Hummel is now after his fifth consecutive Worlds Championship gold medal. He skates over to the center of the rink..."
Quinn had her eyes glued on Blaine as he skated to the center of the rink.
Blaine positioned himself, and let out a nervous breath. After a few seconds, when he felt confident enough, he began to move. He lifted up his hand and inside his mind, he could hear the music.
"In this program, he has four quads planned. Here comes the first quad..." The narrator paused, Kurt's skates made a noise as he jumped and beautifully rotated four times in the air before landing perfectly. "A quadruple Lutz! Very clean and nicely done. The next quad is his signature move. How will it go?"
"A quadruple flip!" A second narrator joined. "He lands this one, too!
'Don't think. Don't think, just do what you know you can do best', Blaine thought. His feet moved almost on their own to the choreography he had spent months practicing and had memorized it by now. It was Kurt's National's choreography. His body was out of shape, which made things harder, but he still knew what to do, and he still loved doing it. Here comes the jump...
He did it. Blaine didn't stop to think which jump it had been, he just knew what he needed to do and did it. The only thing going through his mind was the song...
"The music was Kurt Hummel's own choice, as always, and it's called 'Stammi Vicino', which means 'Stay Close To Me'"
"A quadruple Salchow! Wow... This program brings out a new dimension in Kurt Hummel's performance."
"Though, we can't help but wonder what it would be like to watch a younger skater perform this. Would they be able to pull it off?"
It was getting harder for Quinn to watch Blaine skating because she had tears in her eyes, she quickly blinked them away as she gasped at yet another jump Blaine did. "A triple flip..." She whispered.
"Now, the last quad... A quadruple toe-loop, followed by a triple toe-loop! He landed all his quads amazingly! The crowd is already cheering, knowing Kurt Hummel snatched the gold medal again!"
"He's preparing for a combination spin..."
Blaine's body was too tired, but it was almost ending now. 'A combination spin', he thought. 'I can do this.' He finished the spin and did the final pose. He had done it, hadn't he? He actually managed to copy Kurt's entire choreography and didn't fall even once. He did have to change a few jumps, he didn't know how to some of them yet, but it didn't make the step sequence a lot easier.
Blaine was still standing in the final pose, looking up at the ceiling and imagining that Kurt was probably winning another medal for this exact same choreography. He turned to Quinn when he heard a choking sound.
Quinn was furiously wiping away her tears. "Oh, Blaine..." She breathed out. "Blaine! That was so amazing! You are a perfect copy of Kurt! When did you learn this choreography?"
"I, well..." Blaine shrugged, blushing as he skated over to her.
"You can't give up, Blaine Warbler," Quinn said seriously. "Look at me, I'm in tears! You can still be as great as Kurt, Blaine. I know you can!"
Blaine scratched the back of his head. He did feel the happiest when he was on the ice.
”I thought you’d be feeling depressed or something, but after seeing what you did just now...”
”I was,” Blaine admitted. “But I guess I’m tired of feeling bad about myself. I needed to come here to remind myself that I-...”
“That you are incredible!” Another voice came from the other side of the room.
“Mr. Hummel, I know the competition season just ended, but I need to ask... What do you have in mind for the next season?” The reporter asked Kurt, who was sitting at the press conference table.
Everyone kept wondering what Kurt’s next steps would be. Kurt Hummel’s best trait was that he always managed to find a way to surprise people. He was always unpredictable, in a way that kept everyone always on the edge of their seat.
Something seemed to be bothering Kurt, though. What bothered him was that everyone always knew that no matter what he did for the next season, he would win. He would always be perfect.
Perhaps his retirement wasn’t yet coming, but it was getting inevitably closer. Would he still be considered perfect by the time his body forced him to retire?
Would he ever find a way to completely surprise people again?
The little girl ran up to them, a cellphone in her hand.
“I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you again! You haven’t been here in years!”
”Beth...” Her mother called out. “Behave.” She looked up at Blaine again. “Sorry. She’s your fan.”
Beth nodded quickly, staring at Blaine in awe. She had really grown up since he last saw her. He gave her a smile. “No need to apologize, Quinn. I’m flattered that your daughter is a fan.”
Beth jumped in excitement. “Oh, my goodness, I have so many questions! Blaine, when are you going back to skating? Are you in a relationship? Will you find a new coach?” She asked all these questions so fast that Blaine didn’t even know where to start.
“Hey!” Quinn exclaimed before sighing and turning to Blaine. “She’s only nine, but she thinks she’s a reporter.”
“I just want to share this with my friends, they don’t even believe me when I say I’ve met Blaine Anderson!” Beth whined as she snapped a photo of Blaine.
Puck came into the ice rink too, running as he looked around, searching for something or someone.
“Blaine! Brit just told me!” Puck cheered, running up to the man and giving him a tight hug. “Welcome back, dude!”
The four of them had a nice conversation, there was a lot of catching up to do. Beth kept trying to turn the focus back to her, but when the adults weren’t giving her enough attention, she discretely left. There was something very important she needed to do.
During the past years, Blaine had ignored most aspects of his life so he could focus on his career. When he was in New York, he would rarely join his friends when they went out. He did feel lonely sometimes, but the ice had always been a good friend. Going back to Lima had really been the best decision. Being around people who loved him and cared for him was really necessary for his recovery. Blaine had issues with his insecurities. His mind could be quite complicated sometimes and he had to deal with a lot of anxiety. For the past three years, he always felt like everyone around him was constantly judging him, or expecting him to be great.
He took in a deep breath as he walked back home. It felt good to be in a small town again, where he could just take a long walk without a care in the world. It was already dark, and getting late, but Blaine did enjoy being alone. He looked down at the sidewalk as he began to hum that same song from Kurt's performance. Blaine could speak Italian, so he quietly began to sing.
Stay close to me. Don't go away. I'm afraid of losing you.
Blaine thought about those lyrics. Was Kurt thinking of someone specific when he chose that song? It seemed so intimate. Kurt had changed the song and choreography he performed at the Grand Prix Finals before going to compete at Nationals in France. Everybody questioned why, but Kurt never gave an answer. Skaters didn't usually do that. They did change a few aspects of the choreography here and there during a competition season, but never the entire routine. Well... Kurt Hummel was unpredictable. Blaine didn't know what he had to do, but he decided that he was going to find a way to skate on the same ice as Kurt someday.
Blaine arrived at his house, ready to go straight to the kitchen and eat one more cronut before going to bed. He decided he was going to focus on losing weight soon, but first... one more cronut.
Two days later
Blaine was watching TV in his house. He had decided to take his time before officially beginning to practice again. There were a lot of TV shows he needed to catch up. He decided to watch the sports channel for a bit, surely there would still be talking about Kurt Hummel's victory. And there it was.
A reporter was in France showing Kurt and his ice rink mates doing their routines during practice. Apparently, they had all began to focus on the next season. They showed a clip of that teenage boy, Blaise, talking to his coach, Sue Sylvester.
"...The rising star, Blaise Lambiel, is finally gearing up in earnest to join the senior competition..." While the reporter talked, Blaine watched the boy do a perfect spread eagle followed by a jump.
Blaine actually gasped. "W-wow..." He had to admit that even though his attitude sucked, Blaise was a good skater.
"... The 15-year-old is about to join Kurt Hummel in ushering France into an era with two champions."
Blaine turned off the television and shook his head. So many of his friends and fans had told him that he was good enough and that he should return, but Blaise's words were still fresh in his mind.
“Incompetents like you should just retire already.”
Blaine closed his bedroom's door and sat on the floor. No, he was not going to let some teenager with anger issues tell him what to do. Yes, Blaise was already considered a champion, while Blaine was just another figure skater, but Blaine was a fighter. He wasn't ready to give up just yet. The pressure was on now. He heard his phone going off next to him, bringing him out of his thoughts.
"Puck?" He was confused, he answered the call anyway. "Hello?"
"I'm so sorry, Blaine. She's grounded, I promise!"
Blaine frowned, completely lost. "Who's grounded?"
"Beth, obviously!" Puck sounded incredibly worried.
"Puck, I really don't understand..."
He could hear Quinn's voice talking to Beth somewhere close to Puck. "How could you do that without my permission again? Didn't I tell you no?!"
"I needed to post it, mom!" Beth protested. "For the fans!"
"Oh..." Puck paused. "Y-you don't know?"
"About what?!" Blaine was getting frustrated now. "Just tell me what's going on!"
Puck was silent for a moment. "I guess I'll just send it to you. Hang on."
Blaine got a message from Puck, it was a link for a Youtube video. He quickly opened it and his eyes widened.
Blain e Anderson tried to skate Kurt Hummel's FS Program: Stay Close To Me
"Oh, my god..." That was all Blaine could say at that moment as he watched the video playing in front of his eyes.
Puck could still hear him on speaker, so he just let out a tiny. "I-I'm sorry."
"OH, MY GOD!" Blaine yelled when he saw the view count.
"Beth uploaded the video and it went viral." Puck explained the obvious. Blaine was ready to lock himself in his room and never leave.
"Delete it right now!" Blaine could hear Quinn demanding.
"I-... I-..." Blaine was stuttering. He noticed that his mentions on Twitter were going crazy. He was scared to open them. He just wanted to throw his phone out of the window. Had all his friends already seen it? His coach? Had Kurt seen it?!
"We'll delete it."
"There's no point." Blaine breathed out. His anxiety was coming, he knew it. "Just... It's okay- I- it's okay. Don't be angry at Beth."
"Anderson, I'm sorry!"
"I gotta go!" Blaine quickly hung up and turned off his phone. He didn't want to deal with this right now. Or ever. He hid under his covers, trying to ignore the feeling in his stomach. He wondered how many skaters had already seen it. People were already tagging Kurt and telling him to watch it, he knew it. Kurt would see it and think he's pathetic. He closed his eyes, just wanting to sleep and pretend this never happened.
What he didn't know, was that Kurt Hummel was watching that video in that exact moment, replaying it again and again.
For the next day, he ignored every social media and kept his phone off. He stayed in his room, reading a book or watching a movie. He knew he should just go ahead and face what happened, but for now, he was happy to deal with it in an unhealthy way. His family didn't know what had happened, but Brittany had come to his house that morning to ask him what that video was all about. Blaine told her he had no idea he was even being recorded. The woman seemed very excited about the video, telling him that he should be proud of it because it was like she was seeing the warbler she had always known again.
Blaine still didn't want to face anyone. He was too embarrassed. He did briefly turn on his phone just to tell Puck and Quinn that it was okay, he wasn't angry at them or at Beth. She was just a child, and probably wanted to impress her Twitter followers or something. He couldn't blame her.
He woke up a little earlier than usual the next day. Blaine rubbed his eyes a little and decided to go back to sleep. He was planning on having a quiet day of reading, and maybe, just maybe he would go back to social media again, but it was still too early to wake up.
"Blaine! BLAINE!" Cooper's voice came from the other side of his door. His older brother didn't bother knocking, he just opened the door and entered the room.
Blaine sat up. "What? What happened?" He rubbed his eyes.
"You're not going to believe this..." Cooper was out of breath, he looked shocked. "You have to come downstairs right now!"
Before Blaine could reply, Cooper turned around and left. "Just change your clothes first!" The older man yelled.
Blaine was still sitting on the bed, staring at the open door in confusion. What could be so important? He just rolled his eyes, it was probably just an attempt to get Blaine out of the house for a bit. Cooper always had the weirdest ideas to make Blaine come out of his shell. Still, Blaine was intrigued, and when he was ready to get out of bed, he heard a bark.
His eyes widened. "Lizzie?"
No, that was impossible. He saw a dog a lot bigger than Lizzie entering his room and jumping on the bed, immediately licking his face, like it knew Blaine. "Hey! Stop!" He laughed, still confused at the sight of a dog in his bed, but too happy to care. Whoever that dog was, it was cute and very friendly. Its fur was similar to Lizzie's too...
Blaine paused, taking a better look at the animal, even turning on the lights to make sure he was seeing straight. A brown poodle. Could that be...? No, that was impossible. He was out of bed in a second, changing out of his pajamas in record time. He didn't even bother gelling his hair, he just needed to go downstairs for any kind of explanation of what that dog was doing there.
Blaine was shaking as he climbed down the stairs, the dog following behind him. No, it couldn't be. It couldn't be! He was delusional if he thought that that dog actually belonged to-...
"K-Kurt." He breathed out at the sight.
"Blaine..." The tall man was sitting on his living room's couch, he stood up with a bright smile when he saw Blaine. The younger man froze completely, glancing at his family, who were standing there, looking at him expectantly while the living legend Kurt Hummel was standing there. In. His. Living room.
Blaine's heart was about to jump out of his chest. Was this really happening? That wasn't possible and didn't make any sense. Was he dreaming? He stared at the beautiful man with pale skin and a warm smile. "W-what are you doing here?" He didn't understand how he was still capable of speech.
"Starting today, I am your coach." Kurt announced, "I will make you win the Grand Prix Finals."
Kurt Hummel was a genius, who never failed to surprise Blaine.