Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.

Warnings: violence, homophobia, language.

"You going to the dance tonight?"

Blaine bit his lower lip as he overheard the seniors talking, shrugging slightly when Casey repeated the question. His taller, blond-haired companion had been Blaine's friend as soon as he'd seen what he could do in a good boxing ring. Blaine hadn't mentioned that the only reason he'd taken up the sport was to vent off steam leftover from dealing with the bullies at Hawthorne; it seemed like a dark, unnecessary shade to an otherwise pleasant, untroubled friendship. "I don't know," he murmured. "Isn't it ... kind of traditional for the girls to ask the guys on this one?"

"Since when were you concerned about being traditional?" Casey retorted, nudging him in the ribs lightly as they walked down the hallway together. "Come on. It's one night. Luke already said he'd go with you. Why disappoint him?"

A world-weary sigh forced itself out of him as he responded, "Because this school barely tolerates us as it is?" Blaine shrugged, shifting his navy satchel on his shoulder lightly. Not that most people knew that: all they ever saw was Blaine, immaculate and poised, entering classrooms, and never the potential violence in between. "Look, Case, I don't want to start a fight, okay?"

Casey came to a halt in front of him, shaking his head sadly. "B, come on. Live a little. One dance with another guy isn't going to screw you over. As long as you two don't start making out in front of everyone, it'll be fine. No one will care."

Blaine stepped around him, readjusting his grip on his satchel as he did so. "I don't know. I don't even know if I have a ride," he defended. Knowing the kind of stunts some of his less amicable peers were willing to pull, he wasn't above cancelling a date - or even a simple outing - because no ride was available.

"I'll give you one," Casey offered.

Blaine turned to look at the lean junior, raising an eyebrow. "I thought you were taking Jenn out afterward?"

"I am," he assured. "But ... you know, if you find you're actually enjoying yourself enough to stick around, we might be willing to pick up a couple gay hitchhikers."

Rolling his eyes at that, Blaine strode up to his locker and swiveled the dial into place, popping open the door when he was finished. "I'll think about it," he said benignly.

"Great." Casey patted him once on the back, his big hand almost sending Blaine careening into the locker itself. Blaine playfully punched his shoulder in passing, pulling out his required books and shutting the locker behind him.

Almost before he had finished turning around, a splash of rank-smelling yogurt greeted him. He gagged, almost heaving over the tiles as some of the putrefied liquid slipped into his mouth. He scrubbed at the mixture furiously with an arm, ignoring the roar of laughter from Cruger in front of him.

Alec Cruger had set him apart as his favorite victim since day one, immediately zeroing in on the fact that he was Cooper Anderson's little brother. Of course, Blaine was used to the bi-weekly reminders that he wasn't his brother, the tall, athletic lacrosse player that had single-handedly redefined the meaning of 'high school athlete.' He did everything - track and field, baseball, soccer, even football on the side - whereas Blaine preferred the more leisurely sports he'd become accustomed to over the course of the summer: namely, polo. It was no surprise that his failure to follow in his brother's footsteps had incited some resentment from Cooper's successors. They had all been hoping for another Anderson brother to help buoy them through the season; instead they got him, a five-foot-six runt that barely weighed a hundred and forty.

"Hey, homo," Cruger said casually, striding up to him even as he made a bee-line for the nearest set of restrooms. "You got something on your face." He made an exaggerated gesture at his own unmarred visage, laughing when Blaine gave him a halfhearted shove to the side. "Probably tastes the same way when they do it, doesn't it?" Blaine paused mid-step, his shoulders tensing at the allusion before he forced himself to keep walking, ignoring Cruger's, "Don't forget to tell show Cooper what his fag brother's been up to."

Scrubbing spoiled yogurt out of one's hair was exactly as much fun as it sounded. Blaine found himself fighting down the urge to snarl in frustration as he worked ruthlessly at his task, ignoring the jeering laughter of several of the hockey jocks as they entered and exited the room freely. Once the final drops of soured dairy had been scraped away, he looked in the mirror and almost groaned at the remaining mess.

"Cruger, again?" a sympathetic voice asked, a small white handtowel appearing around his shoulders a moment later. Luke was there almost before he had finished turning around, his strong, confident fingers kneading Blaine's shoulders soothingly. He didn't even hesitate before pulling him into a hug, his arms resting around his shoulder blades as he continued his impromptu massage.

"I don't see why he's so obsessed with it," Blaine muttered, surrendering to the ministrations. "I mean, it's not like I advertise daily that I'm gay."

"You kind of do," Luke said, almost apologetically, as he flicked the black bowtie laced around Blaine's neck. "Look, B, I get that you're going through a really hard time right now, but it'll pass. He'll get bored and move on to some other computer nerd soon. You've just got to tough it out."

"And the rest of them?" Blaine asked bitterly, sinking into Luke's embrace as he pulled him closer, his own arms wrapping around his waist slowly.

"They'll figure it out," Luke assured.

Blaine said nothing for a while, just listening to Luke's slow, steady breathing and feeling his own erratic inhalations calming to match it. He hadn't even realized how tense he'd become until he was almost limp with relief, pulling away from the taller boy before he sank completely to the floor. Luke had always had that effect on him: strong and confident andright. He made Blaine feel safe and loved and cared for in a way that no one else ever really had. It was reassuring, to know that there was at least one other person who had his back. Even Casey, sweet and dull-witted though he may be, couldn't quite compare. Luke was kind to him and him alone when they were together, whereas Casey was a people-pleaser and a social butterfly. He couldn't help but flirt with girls and lose track of which conversations he was involved in, let alone which friends he had arrived with. Luke had always been different: he was good to Blaine, even if he openly admitted that they weren't dating.

It's nothing against you, he'd assured on various occasions. It's just a matter of image. If we're not dating, then no one cares. If we are, then we're targets. It's safer this way.

Blaine hadn't seen the logic behind it at first, convinced that regardless of whether they made it 'official' or not the jocks would notice, but ultimately Luke had been right. The more on the down-low they stayed, the less the jocks tormented them. Blaine had actually noticed that, with the blinding exception of Cruger, almost all of the daily harassment against himself had ceased. It was a refreshing change, considering little else had seemed to temper their enthusiasm.

Listening to the bell ring and wincing slightly as he realized that he'd missed his entire first class, Blaine gently disentangled himself from Luke's hold. "I have to go," he said softly. "English."

Luke winced sympathetically, patting his shoulder once. "You'll live," he encouraged, equally quietly. "You going to the dance tonight?"

Blaine swallowed, a barely noticeable flicker of his Adam's apple as he shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "I want to, but ..."

I don't want to start a fight.

"I've got a pair of tickets," Luke said, giving his shoulder a light squeeze before stepping over to the door. "Let me know if you're interested, okay?"

Blaine hesitated, then nodded once. "Okay."

"Hey, Coop? Coop, you home?"

Blaine stepped through the front door, looking around the front hall and living room before ambling off into the kitchen. "Coooop," he called, pulling out the ingredients for a little pick-me-up sandwich. "Hey, Coop, come down and I'll make you some food."

"Why didn't you say that before?" Cooper asked, appearing between the dining room and kitchen with alarming abruptness. Blaine jolted, almost slicing open his hand with the knife he'd been using to cut a slab off the fresh bread he'd picked up on the way. "What's up, squirt?"

"Nothing, just ... do you think I should go to the Sadie Hawkins dance?"

"The what?" Cooper was already peeling off a slice of bread, lathering it up with mayonnaise and turkey and a dozen different condiments Blaine didn't dare try and explain.

"The Sadie Hawkins dance," Blaine repeated patiently, dicing up his own ham-and-swiss sandwich from scratch. "You know, the one where - "

"Oh, right, right, that one," Cooper said, snapping his fingers before slapping his concoction together and taking an inhuman-sized bite from it. "Listen, squirt, if you want to make friends, don't go. Bad idea. Dances are terrible for popularity and the music is always outdated. Now, if you want to actually have a good time - "

"I don't think it's that bad. Why else would so many people be going?" Blaine interrupted gently.

Cooper sighed, sounding almost forlorn. "It's a high school dance, Blainey. What kind of quality do you expect?"

"I don't know; I've never been to one," Blaine retorted, pointedly not mentioning Cooper's prom king nomination senior year, or the fact that he'd attended almost every high school dance there had been. "It's the highlight of the spring season. Almost as big as homecoming. I know that I wasn't really ready for ... that. But I have a date now."

One eyebrow arched delicately on Cooper's brow as he chugged down a quarter of the milk jug. "You're joking," he deadpanned.

Blaine set his uneaten sandwich aside, folding his arms defensively. "What's wrong with me having a date?"

"You can't be serious."

"I want to go, and I finally have a good reason to."

"It's the Sadie Hawkins Dance, Blaine."


"So?" Cooper repeated incredulously. "You're not a girl. You're not dating a girl. End of story." He picked up his sandwich again as though it truly was the end of the argument, Blaine making an exasperated noise in the back of his throat.

"If that's the attitude I take with every dance, I'm never going to go to one," he said quietly. "I'll be ... stuck here doing nothing while all my friends get to go out and have a good time because I'm too afraid to take a date to prom."

"This isn't prom," Cooper pointed out. "It's not even that big of a deal, Blaine. Just sit this one out for the team."

Blaine's eyes narrowed slightly. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means," Cooper said, ignoring the slightly edgy tone to his voice, "that you'll be putting your other friends in an awkward situation. How are they supposed to respond if you show up to a dance with another guy?" Looking over at Blaine and taking in his stiff posture, he deliberately softened his voice as he said, "I think you should ask yourself whether the benefits outweigh the risks here."

"So you're saying I shouldn't go because I'm gay and it would make my friends feel awkward."

"No, I'm saying you shouldn't go because it's not worth it."

Blaine shook his head, storming off towards the other room. "Whatever, Coop."

"Blaine, you know - "

"Whatever, Coop."

Cooper sighed, shaking his head as he returned to his own sandwich. Sometimes it was easier to simply accept that his little brother was in a funk and move on. He was only fourteen. He'd goof off and make mistakes and they'd move on. What was the worst that could happen, even if Blaine did go?

Shrugging, he finished the sandwich and set Blaine's aside, tugging a piece of clear plastic foil over it to keep it fresh in case he came back for it.

He didn't.

Blaine tugged the sleeves of his jacket down nervously, pacing the floor as he waited for Luke. His mother was working late that night and his father had retreated to his study, ignoring him and Cooper but for a brief conversation with the latter. Without mentioning it to either of them, Blaine had contacted Luke to let him know about his decision, flopping back on his bed as soon as he'd finished the call. He would go through with it and everything would be fine and it would be an amazing night. As long as he didn't deliberately strike up a fight and kept out of Cruger's sphere of influence, he would be fine.

Fifteen minutes later, he was sitting in Luke's father's car without so much as a word to Cooper or his parents.


Blaine, can you hear me?

Blaine, please wake up.

Blaine, please.

"My dad'll be here in ten minutes," Luke murmured, giving Blaine's shoulders a light squeeze. They were tucked away in a corner of the dance floor, just swaying rhythmically with the music, mindless of the others around them. "Do you want to wait outside or -"

"Let's just stay here," Blaine said, almost clinging to him. "Is that okay?"

Luke smiled, nodding slightly. The music was slow and the lighting dim, providing them the perfect cover to avoid the rest of the teenagers scattered across the dance floor. Insofar, they hadn't had a problem with anyone, hanging out with Casey and his friends briefly before milling among the rest of their peers, occasionally spending a lengthier period of time with a given group. With the evening close to winding down and no trouble on the horizon, Blaine felt confident and comfortable with his decision. A little guilty at how harshly he'd rejected Cooper's early proposal that he opt out, but, well - he could always tell Cooper about how good the evening actually was later.

Right then, he just wanted to enjoy Luke's presence.

Two songs later and the music switched back over to a faster-paced series, Blaine and Luke slipping quietly out of the room, chattering inanely about the various gossip they'd heard about the upcoming football season. It was typical that, regardless of setting, football would dominate the conversation.

One of the few flaws Blaine noted in his relationship with Luke was that he knew very little about his companion. Luke was a sophomore with dull blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a friendly disposition. He was calm around strange situation and affable among strangers. He made Blaine feel comfortable in any scenario, regardless of how hostile or sympathetic the company was. He enjoyed football with the same casual appreciation that Blaine did, following the games and keeping up with the latest stats without wandering into 'religiously dedicated' waters. Overall, he was pleasant, kind and honest without any flair for the dramatic. He kept things simple and didn't ask for more when he couldn't provide it; he accepted physicality into their relationship almost as easily as Blaine did, once the initial shock that he was actually holding hands with another boy wore off.

Listening to the thrum of music grow faint in the background, Blaine let Luke hold the door open for him, a small smile crossing his face as he stepped through it and into the chilly night air. It was still that time when the weather fluctuated between warm and frigid on a nightly basis. That night, he recalled, was biting outside the sanctuary of the heated school.

"Maybe we should wait inside," Blaine murmured, shivering a little in the night air.

Luke shrugged, tucking his hands in his pockets and leaning against the side of the building. "It'll be fine. My dad's just a few blocks away."

Blaine nodded, mimicking Luke's example and stuffing his own hands in his jacket. It wasn't very warm - the crisp material was more aesthetically pleasing than practical - but at least it was better than keeping them exposed to the open.

Minutes passed in silence, Luke scanning the horizon while Blaine shifted his fingers together, subtly trying to create some warmth between them. Just three more minutes, he repeated silently. Three more minutes and Luke's dad would be there in his pick-up and they could get warmed up again. The solid metal doors of the gymnasium seemed heavy behind them, immovable. Blaine knew that all they had to do was give it a good tug and they could be back inside. The doors were kept unlocked with the air of being locked so that casual passerby would keep moving and students that accidentally locked themselves out the back could return.

He didn't notice the subtle clicking of a lock from within. It never registered with him that someone would think to lock them out, even though afterward he was informed that that was what had happened. The only thing he noticed were the seconds trickling by, slow and uneasy. His neck prickled with the cold, the hairs standing up on his arms. Without thinking, he scanned the grounds, searching for something he wasn't sure was there. Nothing. He relaxed again, deliberately mirroring Luke's pose, the latter tapping away on his cell phone.

The response was lost when they heard jeering laughter from the side, muted and threatening. "Hey, fags," one of the men called, waving a beer bottle in a mock salute. Blaine's heart skipped a beat as he noticed that they were coming closer rather than following the path of the sidewalk, which ran perpendicular to the doors and continued on down the road. He almost felt Luke tensing beside him, putting on an air of nonchalance even as Blaine's heart thudded in his chest.

"What are a coupl'a queers doin' out on a night like this?" the same man demanded, weaving his way towards them at an alarmingly brisk pace. Blaine silently hoped that he'd trip and forget his interest in them. No such luck: the man was within inches of them in seconds, his two companions following, bumping into each other and laughing at the leader's remarks. "Wanna drink?" he offered, holding out the bottle mockingly.

"No, thanks," Luke said, keeping his voice low and neutral. "We're not here to bother you."

"You're not here to bother us?"

Blaine felt his hand instinctively reaching behind himself for the door, ready to bolt inside if need be. His gentle tugs on it revealed, unsurprisingly, that it wouldn't open without a good pull. He braced his feet, ready to do so if necessary, praying that he would be faster than the men if it came to that. The heavy smell of alcohol perforated the air as the three panted, one pulling out a pocket knife almost absently. Blaine's blood ran cold at this sight, his fingers sliding decisively into place, ready to tug the door open the minute he took interest in them.

"I don't like your attitude," one of the other men, shadowed and bulky in the dark, grunted. "Sound like some piss-off prep boy to me."

The others muttered in agreement, the one with the pocket knife twirling it slightly, almost cutting himself in the process. "We oughtta teach you a lesson 'bout what happens to fags that try to act like they're normal," the presumable leader growled, advancing on them.

Blaine yanked on the door, almost pulling his arm out of its socket with the ferocity of the gesture, adrenaline coursing through him. His heart stopped when he realized that nothing had happened, not even a twitch, just a metallic throb as the hinges settled back into place. He knew without turning to Luke for confirmation that it was locked - that his inferior strength hadn't defeated him, someone else had.

Time rushed up to meet him as he felt a fist grab the front of his jacket, crushing a few of the buttons together in the process and yanking him away from the door. He gripped the hand tightly with his own, instinctively trying to pry it off so he could make a run for it. All he had to do was make it around to the front of the building where surely someone would see them and intervene. If nothing else, he could slip inside the building and find the remaining crowd, milling among them until the men lost interest.

He barely had time to process all of this as he was slammed against the wall, his head rattling with the impact, a soft groan of pain escaping him. His ears rang, his vision zeroing in and out of focus as he heard faint noises of a scuffle behind him, occasionally punctuated with a cry or a snarl. He sluggishly tilted his head to one side and cringed as a fist connected with his face, sinking down to the pavement as soon as the man let go of his shirt. Hoping that the worst was over - dizzily wondering what was happening, why two blows had left him so incapacitated - he was violently startled from his reverie as a booted foot sank into his side, skidding him roughly across the asphalt. He didn't travel far, just enough to roll onto his opposite side, curling in on himself defensively. A trickle of shame found its way into his consciousness as he realized how poorly he was putting to use all of his former training, designed precisely to help in these kind of situations. He heard a thud somewhere and a consequent laugh, his stomach churning as he realized what had happened.

No, no, no.

He tried to move - a mistake. The man that had thrown him into the wall casually kicked him again, his companions conversing. The ringing in Blaine's ears was slowly abating, letting him catch fuzzy snippets of the conversation. He heard one of the men depart, dragging something behind himself. Blaine couldn't judge how far they had gone as another kick smashed into his side. He cried out as pain exploded in the area, desperately wrapping an arm around it as a second kick quickly followed the first. Words poured out of him as he tried to hold himself together, sensing that his desperation was fueling their eagerness and unable to help himself, some animal instinct for preservation awoken in him as he felt the pressure bearing down on his chest, bruising, bruising, bruising -

Something snapped. Whether it was Blaine's will or his body that gave out first, he didn't know, his eyes rolling back into his head as unconsciousness overtook him.

Blaine awoke to darkness. His breathing was erratic and shallow, his entire body trembling finely as he lay motionless, trying to gain his bearings. He could hear another person nearby, their own breathing slow and even, a mimicry of sleep. "Luke," he whispered, the warbled noise resembling nothing more than a wet rasp in the dark. "Luke," he repeated, unable to move for fear that he would pass out again.

There was a tiny shifting and a soft groan, the sound of tin cans and old slush from a dozen different meals mingling. Blaine would have thrown up at the rancid smell seeping around him if he could have focused enough to do so: as it was, just staying conscious required enough effort that he couldn't bring himself to notice or care.

He felt his own trembling fingers reaching into his pocket, crying out thinly in pain as the same red-hot pain exploded in his chest. Pulling out his phone, he shakily lifted it to eye level, squinting and blinking at it as it swerved in and out of his vision, the glaringly bright light failing to register as anything more than a nuisance. He quickly found his contacts, sheer luck playing a greater role in the attempt than anything. His eyes refused to focus on any of the names as he scrolled through, his arm lowering slowly as energy and willpower seeped out of him. He hit the third one down and prayed his estimate was right, hitting call without a second thought.

"Where the hell are you?" were the first words that greeted him. Blaine closed his eyes because it was the most welcome sound he'd ever heard, his breathing leveling out some even as he heard a slightly panicked, "Blaine?"

"'m here," he rasped softly. "'m here, Coop."

"Blaine? What's going on? Where are you?"

"'m here," he repeated faintly.

"Are you okay? Blaine? Blaine, talk to me."

"'m not okay, Coop," he said, his throat tightening with the realization as a whine of pain escaped him.

"Okay, Blaine. Just keep talking to me, all right? Do you know where you are? Is anyone with you?"

"Luke," Blaine answered thickly.

"He's not okay either, is he?"

Blaine sniffed a little, knowing that if he had the energy he'd be sobbing or screaming or something. "No," was all he said.

"Okay. Hey, Blainey? Just breathe, okay. Just breathe, B. I'll find you. It's gonna be fine."

Blaine let out a shallow breath, nodding a little. "'kay, Coop. 'm sorry."

"No, no, no, don't be sorry. It's not your fault. You hear me? This isn't your fault, B."

"Dum - " he rasped, unable to make a noise as the pain overwhelmed him briefly. "Dumpster," he gritted out.

"Dumpster?" Cooper repeated. Blaine thought he heard an engine accelerating. "Okay, Blaine. All right. I'm on my way. Just hang on."

Blaine nodded again faintly, his grip on his phone loosening as the urgency to let someone know faded away. Cooper knew. Cooper would find them. Everything would be fine. "Thanks, Coo'."

"Thank me when I get there," Cooper said, the bite in his voice underlying deep concern. "Just three minutes, Blaine. Three minutes."

A mirthless laugh forced its way out of Blaine even as heat seared his side in response. "I can't," he half-laughed, half-sobbed. "Should'a listened to y', Coop."

"Shh. It's not your fault, B. I'm almost there. Just stay awake, okay?"

Blaine sighed minutely, suddenly aware of how appealing sleep sounded, understanding why Luke hadn't woken up. "I wanna sleep," he whined softly. "Lemme go."

"Stay awake, Blaine," Cooper ordered, gentle but firm.

He let out another tiny sigh, trying to ignore the various aches and pains that were making themselves known underneath the sharp, vicious points of agony in his ribs and skull.

"'kay, Coop," he repeated, his words barely a whisper.

A loud scrambling noise drew Blaine out of his listless stupor, largely ignoring the words of encouragement and reassurance that Cooper had rattled off from the other end of the line. He blinked slowly, his eyes narrowed to slits, barely aware of the other man as he hovered on the edge of the dumpster, the night sky silhouetting him. "Coop," Blaine rasped.

"Shit, Blaine," Cooper said, his face paling - or at least, Blaine thought it paled; his voice seemed paler - as he locked eyes on him. "What the hell happened?"

"I screwed up, Coop," Blaine said, his voice wavering and thin, barely audible.

"Hey, no, no, no, none of that," Cooper ordered seriously. "This isn't your fault, okay? We're gonna get you out of here and you'll be fine."

Blaine could vaguely hear sirens in the distance, his eyes sliding shut the rest of the way. "B, stay awake," Cooper interjected softly.

"'m so tired, Coop."

"I know. Just a little longer."

There was a shuffling noise and then a weight was carefully settling itself beside him. Blaine briefly heard him shifting to assess Luke, calling out a few times softly before giving up and turning back to Blaine. "He okay?" Blaine asked, knowing that he wasn't but needing to know if he was okay. Even the thought that Luke was dead was almost enough to make him vomit.

"He'll be fine," Cooper assured, reaching for the phone near his hand and pocketing it before carefully arranging himself so he could sit, one hand reaching out to squeeze Blaine's lightly. "Feel that, squirt? I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. I've got you."

Blaine squeezed his hand faintly in response, listening to the sound of the sirens drawing nearer, their wailing cries barely penetrating the fog surrounding him.

"You're gonna be okay," Cooper said, squeezing his hand lightly. "It's gonna be okay, B."

Blaine groaned a little as his ribs flared, squeezing back. He didn't know how long it took the emergency vehicles to arrive on scene, only aware of Cooper's hand reluctantly disentangling itself as they were surrounded by EMTs. He thought he heard Luke being attended to and pulled out of the dumpster, a soft noise of relief escaping him at the realization. Luke would be okay. They would make sure of it.

When it came to be his turn, try as he might, the second they shifted him to get him out of the dumpster consciousness evaded him, sleeplessness dragging him underneath. He was faintly aware of a ringing noise in his ears as the bustling returned, fading in and out of awareness as they maneuvered him first out and then onto a gurney. In a distant corner of his awareness, he felt something prick his arm and a wash of morphine slowly seep into his bones, making some of the nauseating pain abate. Limp with relief, he let them usher him away, too tired to obey orders to stay awake, stay awake, stay awa...

Curling up against Kurt's side, ignoring the sweat coating his brow, Blaine let his breathing slowly calm, his pounding heart returning to a slightly more normal rate.

A quick glance at the clock on Kurt's nightstand revealed that it was almost four in the morning. Predictably, his boyfriend was still deep in sleep, snoring softly. Kurt still refused to admit that he had a minor cold even though Blaine knew - from the generous amount of tissues he'd used and a cough that he couldn't shake - that he was just in denial. Still, the opportunity to sleep in the same bed while Kurt's parents were out of town was too good to refuse. Burt had already made it clear that if Blaine was free and wanted to stay he was allowed, Carole readily agreeing to the arrangement as long as everyone was happy.

Letting Kurt's tranquility soothe him, Blaine breathed out slowly, one hand sliding down to stroke over the arm resting across his stomach. Kurt murmured something unintelligent before tugging him a little closer, nuzzling the back of his neck sleepily. Blaine relaxed in his hold, feeling some of the tension seeping out of him.

"Bad dream?" Kurt asked, his voice gruff and soft in the darkness.

Blaine smiled a little at the sound even as he flinched at the memory. He knew that he had grown past the days where he constantly feared a repeat incident, even though some of the concern remained seared into his consciousness. Prom was just weeks away and, unsurprisingly, the memories were back. Attending prom last year had required every ounce of willpower he possessed, his own terror obliterated when Kurt was elected Prom Queen. Then, his focus had been solely on Kurt, helping Kurt in whatever way he could and being there for him when no one else would. He hadn't been able to spare Luke from the violence that had almost cost him his life but he had been able to spare Kurt from complete humiliation. That alone was worth going to the prom: to see the way Kurt's face lit up when they danced, ignoring the dozens of eyes upon them.

Still, with Brittany's hair gel ban in place - inane as it was - he couldn't help but wonder what would be the trigger that would ignite another incident. A gym door that one of the jocks later confessed to locking - unaware of the consequences of a simple prank - had almost cost him his life. When he'd found out that the men were actually three seniors held back and illegally drunk, he'd pressed the school hard to ensure that a repeat attack was prevented. In the end, it had been Cruger who had driven him away after tossing another foul yogurt at his face. Neither the principal nor his teacher had been moved by his story, instead informing him that unless he had actual prove that Alec had done it, then they couldn't follow through with any disciplinary actions. Unsurprisingly, none of the students in the hallway had risen to his defense, and within a week he had dropped out of Hawthorne high and enrolled for the following year at Dalton Academy.

"Everything's going to be fine," Kurt assured quietly, almost reading his thoughts as he tugged him closer. "Okay?"

"Okay," Blaine echoed, closing his eyes. "Thank you."

Kurt nuzzled his shoulder gently in response. "If it bothers you, we don't have to go."

Blaine thought about it for a moment, seriously considering telling Kurt that they had gone once and proven that they could and maybe they would just be better off doing something else for once. Something safer.

Life involves some risk, his conscience chided gently, and it's Kurt's senior prom.

"I'll go," he said simply. "I ... I need to do this." To prove that it won't happen again. To prove that I'm over this. To prove that I'm not afraid to do things I want to.

Kurt hummed, kissing his shoulder blade once. "I love you," he murmured.

"I love you, too," Blaine whispered, squeezing Kurt's hand lightly.

He felt rather than heard Kurt drift off again, his slow breathing lulling Blaine back to sleep.

This time, he dreamed of dancing, Kurt's arms around him and his own around Kurt, safe and warm and unbroken.

Author's Notes: Hello again.

Even though there are several interpretations of the Sadie Hawkins dance floating around, I felt inspired to write this and couldn't help myself.

This is easily one of the angstiest pieces I've written. Part of the story is left ambiguous because this is in Blaine's point-of-view, but two points that I would like to clear up here: Luke's father (who was supposed to be picking them up) didn't arrive on-scene until moments before the paramedics, having been caught in traffic (car accident) and thus delayed (approx. twenty minutes: the attack itself took less than five minutes). Luke and Blaine stopped corresponding once Blaine transferred to Dalton because Blaine wanted to leave that life behind and Luke never reached out after him.

Thank you for reading.

Please review!