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Blaine doesn’t remember much about That Night. He remembers sensations - getting hit, a lot, and pain. He remembers coughing up blood, the pavement gritty against his cheek, and he remembers running feet and what he later learned was the sound of Tim breaking someone’s jaw with a metal trashcan lid.

He has one single perfectly clear mental snapshot - Tim’s face, grim and furious as he leaned over Nathan’s still body and checked for a pulse - and then he remembers closing his eyes and hoping somehow that would make it all better.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kurt is so excited he can barely contain himself. He explains Santana’s plan to Blaine, giddy over Karofsky’s abrupt turnaround and the possibility of returning home.

Blaine is happy for him, and so very scared.

He knows Kurt has never precisely fit in at Dalton, and had hoped that it was more because Kurt likes to stick out than because Kurt always thought it was just temporary. He knows how much Kurt misses his friends and how he feels about them going to Nationals without him, and he’s glad for Kurt’s sake that everything seems to be falling into place.

He also knows that every miserable experience Kurt has ever had at McKinley cannot all be laid at Karofsky’s feet. It takes so much more than one angry person to make a situation that intolerant - it takes friends and family and a prevailing sense of righteousness and somebody at the back of a crowd saying Yeah, who does he think he is? Let’s get him!

Karofsky has removed himself as top bully at McKinley. It really only means that now there’s room for someone else to step in.

The phone feels light and breakable in Blaine’s hand as he dials. It rings for a long time, long enough that he thinks that maybe it’s not Tim’s number or maybe Tim doesn’t want to talk to him, and then finally someone picks up.

“Blaine? Are you all right?”

“Tim?” He feels terrible about this - he knows how guilty Tim feels about that night, and how much of a favor he’s about to ask, and he knows that to protect Kurt he doesn’t have a choice.

“I need you to do something for me.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blaine’s mother hated Gotham, and frankly it had a bad enough reputation that Blaine was pretty nervous too, but the whole family was pretty much resigned to the necessities of Blaine’s dad’s job. Relocation to exotic (and occasionally really sketchy) locales was part of it. Blaine figured that the year in southern France pretty much made up for six months in the armpit of the East coast.

Besides, the kids at school weren’t too bad, and there mostly weren’t too many shootings in the nice part of the city. There was even another out kid at Blaine’s new high school and a remote chance he would one day spot the (possibly fictional) Batman, which his inner nerd found to be too cool for words.

Tim was assigned to show him around school. He helped Blaine find his classes, and then gave him a much more interesting orientation on Surviving Gotham City. Blaine came out to him more or less by accident (Tim’s older brother was ridiculously hot) but Tim was fine with it and introduced him to Nathan, who ran the school’s tiny but stubborn Gay-Straight Alliance.

Nobody hassled them much in the days leading up to the Sadie Hawkins dance, besides a few weird looks here and there and some muttered name-calling that Blaine was sadly used to. Tim insisted on escorting them to the dance for greater security, which Blaine thought was hilarious but sweet because Tim was like five and a half feet tall.

Tim was late. Blaine and Nathan got jumped.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blaine and Kurt talk every day. Kurt calls Blaine to chat and share fashion horror stories and get news on the Warblers. Blaine calls Kurt to make sure he can still answer his phone.

Kurt tells him all about the Bully Whips (Really, Santana? Blaine thinks, because really?) and how nobody’s gotten slushied or tossed into the dumpster or pushed into lockers. He sounds happy. He sounds young.

Blaine’s not sure what he’s more afraid of - Kurt getting hurt or Kurt losing his faith in happy endings.

Blaine and Tim talk every day too, but their conversations are a lot shorter and usually via text. Tim says something like Neutralized the hockey players. Kurt ok? and Blaine very carefully doesn’t think about what that might mean and says he’s fine. thank you for this and then doesn’t hear from Tim until the next day.

Blaine doesn’t know what Tim had to do to show up at McKinley when Blaine asked. He doesn’t know what Tim told his parents.

Blaine tells himself the Sadie Hawkins dance wasn’t Tim’s fault and that he doesn’t blame Tim for it. It’s possible Blaine’s lying a little bit.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

There were three of them and two of Blaine and Nathan. Mathematically that should have made it a marginally more fair fight but in reality, even though Blaine was athletic and Nathan took aikido, when you’re standing outside your high school gym, butterflies in your stomach because you’re about to go to a dance with your boyfriend oh my god you’re not expecting someone to come up and punch you in the face. You’re not expecting them to throw you down and kick you. Even if you’re athletic, or take aikido, you’re too busy saying This can’t be happening to really fight back.

Blaine tells himself that a lot, too.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kurt asks Blaine to his junior prom and for a moment Blaine really thinks he’s just swallowed his own tongue because this can’t be happening and he really should have seen it coming. It’s deja vu and terror and every nightmare he’s ever had except that Kurt isn’t bleeding yet.

He tells himself it will be okay, because Tim will be there and the Glee club kids will be there and probably Mr. Schuester, too, because it seems like the kind of thing he’d love to chaperone.

He doesn’t think about how many people were right behind them in the gym on the night of the Sadie Hawkins dance. There had been teachers and kids he’d counted as friends then, too, but it turns out that’s only useful when they’re outside on the pavement, willing to help.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blaine’s first clear memory is waking up in the hospital. His parents hadn’t arrived yet - they’d been in Bludhaven for some kind of Function and even though Tim had called them immediately there was still travel time to take into account.

Tim had been standing by Blaine’s bed, arms crossed, facing the doorway like he was on guard, but he’d still noticed as soon as Blaine had woken up.

Tim never explained why he’d been late. All he’d said was “I got - I was... delayed. This was my fault. It will never happen to you again.”

Dalton was Tim’s idea - a safe place Blaine could stay in no matter where or how often his parents moved. He’d gotten both Blaine and Nathan accepted, somehow, although once Nathan regained consciousness his parents moved the whole family to somewhere rural and insisted on homeschooling him instead.

Nathan and Blaine never talked about it much, beyond I’m so glad you’re okay and a one-time-only what fuckheads from Nathan, who usually disliked swearing. They mostly don’t communicate at all these days, although from his Facebook posts Nathan seems to be doing okay.

Blaine and Tim tried to talk, once, and had to give up. Both of them were willing to listen but neither of them wanted to say anything. They’d ended it with a slightly too-intense Let me know if you need anything from Tim and an awkward Okay... take care from Blaine.

Blaine hadn’t even stopped to think before calling Tim. He tries not to think of it as closure or redemption because both of those things sound pompous and operatic and ridiculous. It just felt right, like protecting Kurt would erase all the bad stuff from their heads and somehow patch over the broken spots.

He isn’t sure what he’s more scared of - that Kurt will get hurt or that he and Tim will fail to prevent it, yet again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton,” Kurt says, standing stiff and brave in the center of what’s probably the first stage he’s never wanted to be on.

For a moment there’s silence, everyone staring at the stage with Blaine and Tim rigid with fury and failure on the sidelines because they were so busy protecting Kurt from sticks and stones that they forgot about words, and then someone - probably one of the Glee kids, Blaine thinks, although he can’t be sure - starts to clap wildly, and everyone else follows.

Next to him, Blaine hears Tim take a single sharp breath, and he reaches over and grabs Tim’s arm.

The other thing they forgot about was Kurt, who might be young and innocent but who also has the balls to face down Karofsky alone and wear a kilt to his junior prom and no one, not bullies or petty teenagers, can keep him from being himself.

Blaine will never be more proud or more in love than he is in this moment.

Karofsky can’t handle dancing with another guy in public, of course, and bails as soon as he and Kurt get to the dance floor. Blaine squeezes Tim’s arm and lets go.

“I’m going to go steal a dance,” he says. “I know you’ve got my back.”

Tim’s wide eyed in the shadows at the edge of the gym, and then Blaine’s through the crowd and into the bare circle around Kurt in the spotlight.

Kurt and Blaine dance. Nobody jumps them, because they’re surrounded by teachers and friends and Tim’s watching carefully from the sidelines.

For that moment it’s just like living in an eighties teen romance, and it’s perfect.