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.

Blaine couldn't say he hadn't been expecting it.

Still, it came as a cold shock to him when Rick the Stick Nelson of all people tossed a raspberry slushy in his face.

"Let that be a message to your little Glee club," he sneered, accepting a high five from one of his lackeys as they sauntered off. Blaine ignored the jibe, lifting an arm to brush slushy off his face before the dye could settle in.

He'd known that the New Directions' stand off with the Cheerios and football jocks at lunch wouldn't go unpunished. In some small corner of his mind, he almost wished that it had been someone else, some more experienced member to take one for the team.

Nevertheless, there was a certain poetic justice that he, as newly elected Rachel, would be the first to pay the price. He'd still hoped that it would have taken a week or more to be degraded back to the bottom of McKinley's social pyramid, but he was grateful that the tension had broken so quickly. He wouldn't have to wait in impatient fear for the first strike, and if slushies were their main weapon for retaliation, then he could handle it.

Pulling a clean hand towel out of his locker (Kurt's suggestion, and never more appreciated than it was then), Blaine held it to his eyes. After several long moments, he was able to pry it away and dab the rest of his face clean, careful not to crush the ice into smaller pieces. His optometrist had warned him that his right eye would be sensitive and doubly vulnerable to foreign contamination after the rock salt incident. Expected though not overly alarming, the warning that a repeat incident could cost him more than a replacement cornea and a costly medical bill had been enough to ratchet Blaine's nerve up to unprecedented levels regarding both the eye surgery and the aftermath. Thankfully, Kurt had been around and sufficiently concerned that he was able to focus on staying calm for him rather than imagining all of the terrible things that could happen either during or after the surgery.

There was no Kurt and no impending eye surgery to help him then, and he had to force himself to calm down and refocus as he finished wiping the bulk of the slushy off his face. He wrinkled his nose when a sizable glob landed on the floor with a wet smack, coating his shoes. Wonderful. At least they were black, he reminded himself, making the cheerless trek to the boys' bathroom alone to tidy up.

He scanned the stalls quickly for any unwanted visitors, hesitating before leaving the door unlocked. If he had to, he could always duck into one of the stalls to avoid a second confrontation. Better that than to arouse curiosity and frustration by locking one of them out.

Stepping up to the sink, he turned the cold water nozzle on and kneaded the bright blue hand towel underneath the spray, squeezing the food coloring out of the fabric. Once it was marginally cleaner, he lifted it to his face once more, pressing it against his eyes gingerly and waiting for the burning sensation to abate.

A loud smack startled him back to reality as the door clanged against the wall. His stomach gave an unpleasant lurch as he whirled around, reflexively dropping the towel in the sink as he did so. Blaine's flight instinct proved needless as Artie wheeled in seconds ahead of Sam, their expressions grim as Sam locked the door behind himself.

"That's so messed up," Sam said quietly, taking in Blaine's appearance and shaking his head as he approached. "How the hell does slushying not count as physical violence, anyway?"

"The school board doesn't recognize frozen drinks as a weapon," Artie explained dully. "Schuester tried to confront it last semester."

"Yeah, well, we need to revisit it, because this is unacceptable," Sam said, picking up the hand towel and fumbling with the sink nozzles.

Blaine watched him, stepping back a little to give him room to work, still trying to process how they had even known. At last, he asked bluntly, "How did you two find out?"

"We followed the trail of corn syrup," Artie drawled.

"Wasn't hard, dude," Sam added, handing him the white hand towel, warm and damp. He lifted it to his face, pressing it against his right eye once more, shoulders slouching in relief. "Sugar saw it, too, but she didn't want to go in the boys' bathroom."

"We need to plan a counteroffensive," Artie insisted, wheeling further into the room and folding his arms as Sam shut off the water and stepped back. "We can't let them walk all over us like this."

"What choice do we have?" Sam countered. "It's not like we can take it up with the school board. They don't care."

"We don't have to fight them," Blaine pointed out quietly, pulling the towel away so he could look at both of them. "If we refuse to engage them, then we take away all of their power."

"And if they still slushy us?" Artie asked, relentless.

Blaine pressed the towel to his eyes again, sparing him the necessity of answering. "Then they slushy us," he said at last, hoping that the fatigue in his voice wasn't too terribly obvious.

"I still can't believe they did this," Sam said. It took Blaine a moment to realize that he'd stepped forward and put a casual hand on his shoulder, anchoring him. It was nice, especially since his hands were shaking. Sam didn't say anything about it, thankfully, bulldozing ahead with his point. "We've had Unique for days now, and Marley isn't that out there."

"We stood up to them," Artie reminded, shrugging. "We stood up for her. That's a slap in the face to them. We were on their side, and then we went behind their backs and supported Marley and her mom instead."

"Insulting Marley's mom was wrong," Blaine said quietly, pulling the cloth away from his eyes so he could look at them. "I don't care if we lose our status at this school because we let her in the club. She's got an amazing voice, and if the jocks aren't willing to accept her. . . ." He shrugged.

"Our status was the only thing keeping the slushies away," Artie pointed out, making a frustrated gesture with his hands. "If we don't have that, what do we have?"

Blaine opened his mouth to say something, to offer some encouragement, before closing it wordlessly, turning back to the sink. He wanted to say that they still had an amazing group that was capable of doing anything, that they would pull through the loss of their seniors in order to maintain their standing in the show choir circles and prove that they could come back stronger than ever. He wanted to say that it didn't worry him that they had dropped from popular to untouchable in the span of three days. He wanted to, but he couldn't, because he couldn't lie to both of them like that.

"We'll just have to do our best," Sam said simply, giving his shoulder a light, barely there squeeze before pulling back. "If you need anything, let us know, okay? I've got a few extra shirts in my locker. They might be secondhand, but they're still good."

"Thank you," Blaine said quietly, looking over at them again briefly. "I . . . I really appreciate it."

"We've got your back, bro," Artie assured, rolling up so he could fist-bump him. "We might not be your Dalton boys, but we're still pretty cool."

Blaine's lips quirked up in a slight smile as he watched them go, Artie unlocking the door before rolling out with Sam.

It wasn't perfect - and there would certainly be more slushies to come over the next few weeks - but it was a start.

Even if there was no one else to support the New Directions but the New Directions, at least they could rely on each other.

We'll get through this. We'll survive this.

I'm not going to let them down.

Blaine silently vowed not to tell Kurt about the incident in their Skype convo that night. If he couldn't handle a few slushies without his boyfriend, how was he supposed to handle the real world?

He could do this. The slushying incident had reminded him that there were still sharks in the water, but he would survive.

He was the leader. What else could he do but move on?