The rain had tapered off from a pulsing drumbeat to a thick, falling mist, saturating everything. The grass, the roads, the air. Jordan and Blaine walked slowly around the edge of the school grounds, their shoulders bumping gently over the uneven ground. Jordan's father had fallen asleep and their pick up call had woken him, leaving them with an extra half an hour to kill. They walked with their hands in their pockets, heads bent and looking at the ground, talking and laughing quietly.
Soon their conversation had petered out, their strides becoming slower and shorter until they stopped completely, standing alone at a corner of the school. Blaine looked out at the empty track field, shadowed in the dim moonlight.
He leaned against the side of the building and rolled the toe of his shoe into the concrete. "Thank you, by the way."
"For what?" Jordan pressed his shoulder against the brick, inches away from Blaine.
"For coming to the dance with me."
Jordan laughed low in his throat. "Don't say it like I'm doing you a favor. I wanted to go with you."
Blaine could feel his cheeks start to burn and thanked the weather for being overcast. "I almost didn't ask you."
"I would have asked you," Jordan said quickly. "If you didn't ask me, I would have asked you to go with me anyway."
Blaine turned to the other boy and caught him staring. His breathing was shallow and hard, his teeth working on the inside of his lip.
Jordan leaned in, the motion quick but jerky, like he was second guessing himself even as he was doing it. His lips were dry and chapped but soft and warm, and Blaine couldn't help but smile into them. He tilted his head, pressing back into Jordan's mouth, reaching up and gripping Jordan's sleeve. Not to pulling him closer. Just to have something to hold on to.
When Jordan pulled back, breaking the kiss, his eyes were wide and scared.
Blaine blinked, almost sleepily. "Oh," he whispered.
Jordan didn't respond, and Blaine's heart stuttered.
"You're totally regretting that now aren't you?"
"Blaine." Jordan's voice was low and shaky. "Blaine, there are a few guys down there. And they are staring at us."
Blaine turned and saw them immediately. Boys he couldn't recognize by sight and never at this distance. The group saw them looking back and started to move in.
He grabbed Jordan's arm. "Come on." He pulled him towards the field, towards the other end of the grounds.
"Blaine there's no way out down there." Jordan's voice was growing higher.
"It's away from them, it's fine. There's gate in the fence by the baseball field."
"No, there isn't. It's the weekend; it's closed."
In the back of his head, Jordan's words made sense, but every nerve in Blaine's body was telling him to just go in the opposite direction. To get away from whatever was coming towards them. He glanced behind them and the group of boys mouthed something to each other, then sped up their pace.
"Shit." With a quick jerk on Jordan's arm, Blaine broke into a run, the other boy following a couple hesitant seconds behind.
The two boys hurried across the grass, slipping on wet blades. Blaine almost went down, his legs tangling beneath him, but windmilled his arms, staying upright. Somehow he could hear Jordan's labored panting as the other boy slowly lost ground.
The soles of their shoes crunched and slid across the soaked gravel of the track. Then Blaine did go down, catching himself on the palms of his hands before flailing upright again. "Go, go, go," he chanted in his mind, not daring to look back at the gang again.
As they neared the fence, Blaine noticed with detached horror that Jordan was right, the fence was locked.
"I told you!" Jordan yelled from behind him, his breath coming in heaves. Less than half a minute into the sprint and he was already falling behind. Jordan wasn't athletic. Wasn't made for this. Not that there was a sport designed to help you learn to run, terrified.
"It's fine! It's not that high," he called back.
The gang of boys started shouting then, startlingly close. Adrenaline coursed through his veins, and Blaine all but threw himself onto the gate. He took a moment to glance up, his stomach twisting when he realized how tall it was, easily almost twice his height.
Blaine fit his toes into the holes of the fence and heaved himself off the ground. The metal was freezing and slick under his fingers. Through the roar of blood pulsing in his ears he swore he could hear the thump of their feet pounding up behind him.
The fence shook as Jordan slammed into it a few feet to his side, scrambling to climb up. Blaine glanced down and saw Jordan's hands get ripped away. Heard his shout cut off with a grunt and a sob. Heart shuttering wildly in his chest, Blaine pulled himself up, getting an elbow over the top.
Hands grabbed his legs and jerked him down. A whimper escaped Blaine's throat, "no" before he was jerked back with a loud tear of fabric. The twist of the link ripped into his arm, blooming with a hot sear of pain. He slid down the fence and another hand grabbed the back of his jacket, ripping him away entirely.
Blaine was carried a few feel backwards before getting slammed to the ground, the wind rushing out of him. He tried to gasp in another lungful, but a heel to the ribs knocked it away before he had the chance. He rolled on his side, away from the blows.
Through a haze of tears, he saw Jordan lying on the ground, another boy straddling his chest and pounding him with his fist. When the boy jerked Jordan up by the front of his shirt, his head lolled on his neck.
He tried to get onto his hands and knees and was rewarded with another kick, this time to his spine. The strength left his limbs and he collapsed onto his stomach. Blaine thought he might have croaked out Jordan's name, but a fist connected with the back of his head and blackness bloomed behind his eyes, washing through his head and dragging him into unconsciousness.
Blaine woke with a moan, his whole body aching. He couldn't open his eyes at first, but sounds and smells told him he was in a hospital. Almost immediately there were hands on his face, smoothing his hair.
"Hey, baby," his mother's voice cooed. He raised his arm to grab her hand with his and winced at the painful tug near his armpit. "Careful, you've got stitches, you'll rip them." She gripped him tight, resting their fists on the bed.
Slowly, Blaine opened his eye. His right one, specifically, as the other one appeared to be swollen shut. His mother smiled at him, her eyes rimmed red and face lined with worry.
His mother rubbed her thumb over his wrist. "You boys got jumped. We're not sure by who. But they got you two by the fence around the back of the school."
Scenes flashed through Blaine's head, making his chest tighten. His bruises seemed to twinge and he swallowed against the lump in his throat. The look on her face showed that she wanted to ask him something. Something like what were they doing back there. But instead she tightened her mouth, squeezing his hand gently.
"Is Dad here?"
She smiled at him sadly, shaking her head. "No, he got called into work. He was here earlier though."
Blaine nodded, pretending that was okay. "Who found us?"
"Jordan's dad. You guys weren't out front so he went looking for you."
"Jordan. Is he okay?"
"Yeah, he's fine. He's got a concussion and they think a couple bruised ribs, but he's okay."
The two of them sat there for a few minutes, the silence heavy and awkward between them. Finally, his mother sighed, rubbing his leg. "Well, on Monday the principal will get this all sorted out and - "
"No," Blaine said quickly. "No, I'm not going back." His stomach lurched at the thought, of walking those halls again. Not knowing who it was who beat him up or if they'd try it again.
He could feel the corners of his mouth tremble but he couldn't stop it. "Please don't make me, please." He shook his head rapidly, his face crumpling.
"We'll talk about it with your father, okay? We can't decide right now."
"I can't go back. Jordan can't."
She hushed him, laying a hand on his chest. "Calm down, calm down."
"Can he come see me? What room is he in? We'll all figure it out. There are other schools we can go to. We can do homeschooling."
Blaine's mother shifted uncomfortably in the chair. "Jordan already went home. They had to keep you a little bit longer, because of your knee." For the first time, he shifted his legs, feeling the brace. "It got dislocated. They've got some more scans to do."
"Well, he can come visit me right? We can all talk about this."
Kissing the back of his hand, his mother leaned onto the bed, brushing his forehead. "Jordan's father came in here earlier, and he said he thinks it's best if... that you and Jordan don't see each other anymore."
Blaine's nausea intensified. "What? No, what?" The tears he'd been trying to stave off slipped down his cheeks.
"Maybe...shh... maybe it's better that way, hmm? Maybe it's better? Don't... don't invite anymore attention to yourself?"
"Don't take him away from me, Mama," he said, surprising himself. He hadn't used the name in years, not seriously. Not since grade school. "Don't take him away." And now the tears came. He tried to curl his legs up to his chest, but the pain and the brace stopped him. He pulled his hand out of her grip, leaning away from her and crying, open and vulnerable.
She bit her lip, then stood up. "I'll go call your father, tell your doctor that you're awake." She bent down and kissed the top of his head, then strode out of the room.
Sobbing now, Blaine pressed his fist into his mouth, his whole self aching.