Outside after prom, Rachel and Jesse walk with their arms around each other. Kurt and Blaine are close enough that their shoulders bump occasionally but they do not intentionally touch. One couple is laughing loudly; the other is in quiet contemplation. Jesse offers the boys a ride but Kurt refuses, his dad will pick them up soon enough.

Alone in front of McKinley high Kurt steals a glance at his date. Blaine is biting his lip in a way that makes the butterflies in Kurt's stomach do back flips. They sit on a bench that was once well lit, until Puck disabled the spotlight last year to ensure himself a make out spot.

"Thank you, for tonight. I know it wasn't easy for you." He's looking at Blaine but Blaine is watching the road.

"I'd do anything for you Kurt." He shook his head, "I was so proud to be with you tonight, you amaze me." He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes.

Kurt touched Blaine's hand, curled his fingers into Blaine's. "Tell me."

"What?"

"The last dance you went to. Tell me."

Blaine took a deep breath, like he was about to dive deep into water he wasn't sure he'd be able to surface from. "Like I said, I had just come out. It didn't go over so well at home but still I had been so excited, and nervous. When I think about it now I realize how stupid I was. I was nervous about my first date, not about everyone's reaction to us. It just didn't occur to me that we'd be in danger."

"Not stupid, just optimistic, I love that about you."

"Yeah, maybe. Anyway, when we got to the prom you could hear people talking, whispering as we moved through the crowd so we danced one fast dance then just stood on the edge of the floor talking."

"Sounds awful."

"Not completely. I mean, neither of us had any experience, and so I think we were a little relieved to have the pressure off. We didn't have to figure out how to slow dance together, didn't have to worry about a first kiss."

"Did you…did you want to kiss him?"

"I wanted, I wanted to kiss someone. He was my only option at the time. We were friends, we got along well, but it wasn't like I got chills when I looked at him."

"So after the prom…"

"We went out to wait for his dad, just like we are now, only the jocks had been drinking, and watching us. They drove from the parking lot to the front of the school and all piled out of this van. They didn't even waste time saying anything, they just jumped out and starting punching…they got him on the ground and were kicking him. I tried to break loose, to pull them away from him because he was definitely taking the worst of it but I couldn't get away, I couldn't do anything to stop it. I ended up with a black eye, split lip and lots of bruises but my date got his nose and three ribs broken. He lost consciousness for awhile; it was truly the most terrifying night of my life."

There was a tear on his cheek when he finally turned and faced Kurt, "This is why I both love and hate your bravery Kurt. I'm so proud of you, so hopeful that we can make a difference but I know I can't protect you." His voice broke, "I have nightmares about that night, only instead of him it's you on the ground," he swallowed hard past the painful lump in his throat and continued, "I see the blood on your face, hear your bones crunching under their feet, I can't take that, I can't risk you. I wake up screaming every time." His hand shook violently in Kurt's.

Kurt thumbed the tears from Blaine's face and then gently kissed him, caressing the back of his neck, calming him. When they broke apart he smiled, "I bet you looked sexy with a black eye."

"I know you're trying to make me feel better, but seriously Kurt, I'm struggling with you being here. I can't concentrate all day because I worry that Karofsky set himself up to have the perfect opportunity to get you alone and really hurt you to keep you quiet."

"You don't have to worry about him, he's no threat anymore. And Blaine, I love you but it isn't your job to protect me. Not that if someone tried to touch you I wouldn't rip their arms off like a mama bear protecting her cub, but we have to stand tall on our own. We can't live in fear or we won't really be living at all."

"I'm sure you just said something profound, but all I really heard was you love me…you love me?"

Burt beeped the horn and both boys jumped a little. They hurried into the back seat. Burt asked if they had a good time and while Kurt brought his dad up to speed Blaine played with his phone.

Kurt's phone beeped. He looked down to a text from Blaine:

For the record, when I look at you? Chills.

Kurt hit keys furiously.

For the record, yes. I love you.

Blaine didn't care if Burt looked back; he pulled Kurt backward into his arms and whispered in his ear, "I love you, too." Kurt rested his head on Blaine's shoulder, snuggling into his embrace and smiled widely. This was a perfect prom.