Chapter 1

There were really only two other people in this school that Blaine could really consider to be his friends: Erin, a pretty sophomore who ran track, and Micah, a quiet, bookish freshman.

You wouldn't ordinarily expect such a Breakfast Club-esque grouping in a high school that was so focused on cliques, as Stanton High School was. The jock, the brain, and the theatre geek. But they didn't really have much choice. They had each made, in the eyes of their classmates, a huge mistake.

Blaine's was made only a few months earlier, during the summer before his freshman year of high school.

Blaine was with two boys, his best friends since grade school. They were playing basketball in a park near their school. When they heard the opening notes of the ice cream truck's song ringing out, they sprinted right to it, forgetting their basketball game immediately and rummaging in their pockets for loose coins and crumpled dollar bills.

The three boys sat on the curb as they licked their brightly colored popsicles and chatted.

"Hey," said Jeremy, a tall and athletic boy with sandy hair, "check out Jessica Willis. The summer sure has been good to her."

Andy, a gawky blond boy, gave a low whistle as the two watched a brown haired girl who had recently hit puberty run across the park to her friends.

"Man, she is hot," Andy said.

The two boys now looked at the third as yet silent one expectantly. Blaine, apparently, was lost in thought and staring in the opposite direction.

"Yo, Blaine?" Jeremy asked as he waved a hand in front of Blaine's eyes.

The boy's eyes immediately snapped back to his companions. "What? Oh…I guess she's okay," Blaine offered, shrugging his shoulders.

"Oh really?" Andy asked amused. "Well then, what's your type?"

Blaine gazed off again, seemingly at nothing at all. He was actually admiring a taller, fair boy who was laughing with a group of friends.

"Well," he said, smiling to himself, "tall, but not too much taller than me. And strong…and confident. Light brown hair, clean cut, not too long."

Jeremy and Andy were confused. "Taller than you, man?" Andy asked while Jeremy said, "And short hair? Really?"

But Blaine continued as if he hadn't heard them. "And he'd be really funny, too. He'd be perfect."

As soon as the words escaped Blaine's lips, he knew he made a mistake. The atmosphere surrounding the three boys changed immediately. Blaine sputtered, trying to cover the slip, but both friends had heard him loud and clear.

"He?" Jeremy jumped up and practically shouted, now backing away from his friend. "What do you mean, 'he?' You don't like dudes, do you?"

"I-uh, I mean…" Blaine faltered.

"Ew, man, we've had sleepovers!" Andy shouted at him, also standing up.

A few people looked over to see where the commotion was coming from, but thankfully none listened in.

"Look," Blaine said desperately, "it's not that big a deal…right?"

"So you're saying that you don't want to do that guy you've been staring at all day?" Andy asked as he followed Blaine's gaze. Blaine stuttered, trying to answer, but his two friends backed away from him as he tried to approach and explain. Andy looked scared and confused, but Jeremy looked downright angry. Seriously pissed off. "Get away from me," he spat out, "fag!"

Blaine's eyes widened with shock and hurt as he sank back to the curb and watched his two best friends walk away from him forever.

None of the boys noticed that Jessica Willis was standing nearby, listening intently. She loved gossip. And just wait until all her friends heard this – the juiciest piece of gossip this summer. Blaine Anderson, the cute, curly haired dork, was gay.

Within a week, Blaine's Facebook friend count had already dropped. Those that stayed his "friends" seemed to enjoy flooding his wall and inbox with derogatory messages and threats. It wasn't until Blaine saw one, however, that he finally broke down.

He'd seen the words written by others and heard them from his mouth. But he didn't believe it until he saw it in print.

Jeremy Schmidt - Blaine Anderson stay away from me u fucking fag

It was ten at night. Blaine sat in the dark, staring dumfounded at the words on his laptop screen. The tears leaked out of his eyes before he could stop them. A sob overtook him, and soon Blaine was weeping openly and uncontrollably.

The door opened without him noticing, and a figure walked in. The boy looked strikingly like his older brother who was now crying on his bed. Calmly, the new arrival looked for the source of the anguish and his eyes alighted on the laptop. As he read the words on the screen, his face clouded over.

"Is it true?" Shane asked his older brother as he put an arm around him comfortingly.

Blaine simply hiccoughed and nodded.

Shane embraced his older brother, sending messages of love and support through the hug. Then he leaned toward the computer and clicked a few times. A message appeared on the screen asking, "Are you sure you want to delete your account?" Shane looked to Blaine who nodded and smiled slightly before reaching out and clicking yes.

He turned to his brother who was now calming down.

"You know I don't care, right?" Shane asked.

Blaine smiled for real this time. "Thanks."

The brothers were silent for a moment.

"Uh…what about – what about dad?" Shane carefully asked.

Blaine dropped his head to his hand as the two boys winced at the memory of the other night.

"But I want to dance, dad! I'm good at it!" Shane shouted to his father.

"No son of mine is going to go prancing around a stage like some freaking pansy gay boy! I won't allow it!" Bart shouted back.

"It's just dance, dad," Shane pleaded.

"Just go and watch him, dad. He's really good," Blaine said from where he had been reading at the other side of the table.

Shane shot him a look of thanks. Blaine smiled, an idea coming to him, and continued speaking. "Just come to his dance class showcase and watch him and," here Blaine caught his brother's eye and grinned, "his girlfriend dance."

Shane shot him a what-are-you-doing look, Blaine shook his head and responded with an I'll-tell-you-later look. Bart perked up at Blaine's words. "Girlfriend?"

"Yeah, this girl in Shane's class that he's always talking about. Maggie. They've been spending a lot of time together lately…" Blaine explained to his father.

Maggie was nothing near to a girlfriend for Shane, and never would be, but Shane started inviting her over and spending time with her while his father was watching. This seemed to convince Bart that dancing wasn't going to turn his youngest son gay, and he unwillingly let his continue "prancing around like a pansy."

"I – I just won't tell him," Blaine said to his brother.

Now, four months later, Blaine was finding it difficult to believe that his father hadn't found out. In middle school, Blaine had been reasonably popular. He did plays, sang with the chorus, and played in band. He'd had plenty of friends who would invite him to do things with them. He barely went out at all anymore.

Blaine came home from his first day of high school almost in tears. Thankfully both of his parents worked and Shane had managed to calm him down by the time that they came home. Shane was only marginally aware of the situation that his brother faced however. Blaine was trying to protect him. But even at the middle school, Shane heard things. He started getting some second-hand teasing. Calls of "there goes the fag's brother!" would occasionally follow him down the hall. One boy gleefully told him about how his older brother had beaten up Shane's older brother and then stuffed him into the equipment closet. Shane didn't tell Blaine about any of this; he knew that Blaine would feel guilty for doing this to him when it wasn't even his fault.

Blaine had never really been bullied before in his life, unless you counted the time in the third grade when a boy made fun of him for still wearing Velcro sneakers. But that had only lasted a day. This new torment was something different and terrifying. It came in all forms, from all different directions. It started with the school year, and didn't look like it would ever end.

On the first day of school, a group of five boys from the football team confronted him, one of them Jeremy. They had called him names and chased him down the hall before shoving him up against a wall. "Okay listen. We better not hear anything about you looking at anyone funny. Because if we do, you're going to regret choosing to be the fag that you are." Then the boy has slugged Blaine, and the group left, snickering.

In the locker room before and after P.E. Blaine faced catcalls and body slams into lockers as boys accused him of peeking.

In the middle of October, Blaine found himself timidly walking toward the locker room after school. It was a Friday, and he needed to collect his clothes to take home and wash over the weekend. The halls appeared empty, as most people were either gone or else at sports practice. Nonetheless, Blaine walked a little faster than usual toward the locker room door. He almost made it, too.

A hand reached out from behind and grabbed his shoulder. "Where the hell do you think you're going, fag?" a deep voice growled in his ear.

Blaine froze, terrified.

"Not trying to catch a peek, are you, you little perv?" the boy asked as he slammed Blaine into the door with all the force he could muster. Blaine fell to the ground and let out the smallest whimper.

"Are you scared?" the voice growled again. Blaine just looked up at his attacker with fear in his eyes and pain on his face. "You should be." The boy then turned around and shouted, "Hey, guys! I've got the freshman fag!" Blaine heard whoops from the main hallway in front of the gym as a few other jocks joined the first.

"What should we do with him?" one of them asked, as if Blaine wasn't even there. He punctuated his question with a kick to Blaine's side. The boy tried to keep quiet, but couldn't hold in the groan that escaped his lips. The jocks all laughed at their victim.

"Just toss him in the equipment closet," another suggested. "If he's lucky, the janitor isn't finished for the day…if not, well, I guess he'll have a long weekend."

Blaine realized what they were suggesting and tried to kick out, fight back as the grabbed him and pulled him up. "I think he knows what's going to happen to him," one of them said, laughing.

Blaine was freaking out now. He'd been locked in the equipment locker a few times before, but someone had always left him out after an hour at most. Now he was looking at an entire weekend shut up in the small dark space with no food or water? How would he explain his absence to his parents? Blaine fought back harder, but his captors were too strong for him. The last thing he heard was their laughter as they slammed the door shut and jammed a broom through the handles. They had unceremoniously tossed Blaine into the closet head first, and he'd collided with a rack of basketballs. He felt a lump rising on the back of his head and quite possibly a trickle of blood dripping down his face.

"Hey! Help! Someone! Please! Is anyone there?" Blaine shouted as he banged on the closet door. But he knew it was hopeless. No one was going to save him.