Chapter 18

"Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die." ― Herbert Hoover

Blaine looked up from his homework at the knock on the door. David, who was definitely not over his girlfriend dumping him, let out a long growl and glared at Blaine like it was his fault that people wanted to speak to one of them. Rolling his eyes because David wouldn't tell any of them why she'd dumped him so he was wallowing, Blaine got to his feet and moved through the junk that David had tossed onto the floor and opened the door.

He blinked at the sight that stood before him. Wade, wig on and wearing a dress and heels but looking rather worse for wear, stood outside his room with Finn hovering by his shoulder. He felt his face drop into a worried frown, and he stood to the side, breathing becoming shallower with nervous anticipation, and let them in.

"Are you alright?" he asked as David took in the scene and then slammed his books shut, shouted a mixed greeting and condolence and darted from the room. Blaine watched as Wade tucked some hair behind his ear and looked at Finn, who ruffled up his own in frustration. He sat down on his bed so they were face on.

"It's, um…" Finn looked around the room in a manner that suggested he was really awkward in this situation. Blaine didn't blame him; he had no idea what was going on, but the whole thing just felt tensely awkward. They hadn't talked since Finn had come to Dalton to check up on him and tell about Kurt and NYADA. Blaine had taken to blocking them from his mind because thinking of them meant thinking of Kurt and what he said…but just looking at Wade was a reminder of Kurt because Blaine knew the look in his eyes; the poorly masked fear, the attempted cool façade, the desperation…

"What happened?" he asked, sitting forward on his bed and leaning closer to the two New Directions members, heart pounding from suppressed fear. Wade looked at Finn once more before swallowing. "Finn, can you give us a minute?" Finn looked even more apprehensive so Blaine sent him a long glare because this was easier to do one-to-one when both people understood. Finn nodded and got to his feet, leaving the room. Blaine looked back at Wade. "What happened?"

"It was some jocks," he said, pulling off his wig and throwing it aside. "It's been getting worse since we lost Sectionals, but they- they cornered me, and they shoved me into a locker…they were just taunting and teasing me…they wouldn't let me go, and they said…" Blaine bit down on the inside of his lip because he hated this; seeing his composure and confidence completely shattered, and he just wanted to break all their necks.

"What did they say?" he pressed, moving to sit by his side. Wade looked at his hands, and Blaine knew that this was going to be bad. He took a deep breath and steeled himself because he had to be the one that took it well.

"They said that I was completely wrong, and if I came in dressed like a girl again they'd teach me a lesson… that they'd make sure I never wore clothes like that again…" Blaine swallowed because that sounded like a- well… a death threat. He put a hand tightly on his shoulder as he sniffed heavily.

"Wade, have you told your parents?" He shook his head, furiously.

"They'd probably take me out of McKinley, but…I like it there. I love the New Directions, and it's awesome that I get to be who I am." Blaine swallowed, trying to think responsibly.

"Wade, you have the right to be whoever you want, but, maybe, you shouldn't dress like that until we've figure something out." He frowned at him, and Blaine knew that he saw that as a betrayal.

"But- but-"

"Wade," he said, putting up a hand to stop him from speaking. "I can't make you do anything, but you need to be safe. I'm going to- I don't know what or how, but I'm going to find a way for you to express yourself. However, in the meantime…well, you can't express yourself if you're not alive." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he was kicking his brain as hard as he possibly could because the words – the thought that it was a real possibility – caused Wade to break. All of his strength went sliding out from underneath him as he put his head in his hands and sobbed. Blaine slipped an arm around his shoulders, pulling him close, and let him cry.

"…so we've got to do something." Blaine stared around at Artie, Tina and Sam, who were all cradling warm cups of the Lima Bean's coffee in their hands and were all bearing worried looks of shock.

"Damn right!" agreed Artie, nodding his head emphatically.

"That's just awful," said Tina, shaking her head. Blaine sighed, raking a hand through his hair, but nodded all the same.

"Yeah, but what? All the guys the Dalton are prepared to do something, but we don't have any ideas." He watched Sam run a hand through his blonde hair, and Artie as he glanced between his two companions.

"I'm all for throwing your weight around, but that'll probably make them madder." Blaine nodded, pursing his lips before taking a long sip from his drink. He looked around, sighing because this was his and Kurt's haunt. How often had they met up here and laughed over their hot drinks? This was the place that Kurt had first told him that he liked him, and where Blaine had considered the idea of going out with Kurt for the first time. He and Kurt had exchanged their first "I love yous" here at that table just over there.

"…BlaineBlaine!" Blaine blinked and jolted in his seat, turning back to his three friends with a sheepish smile. Sam tilted his head to the side, examining him.

"Are you alright?" Blaine nodded, instantly, not bothering to tell them how he'd been having nightmares about the torments of his first high school and Eli since Wade had come to him because that wouldn't do any of them any good. He needed to focus on here and now.

"Yeah, bit tired…so much work to do, and we've been trying to prepare for our Christmas concert and something for our music teacher who's leaving." He shrugged at their mildly concerned faces. "It's nothing. We need to focus on Wade." He sighed. "He's keeping positive – he really brightened up when we hung out with the other guys – and he's not letting it get the better of him, but…" he shrugged once more. "We have to do something to change the situation…" Blaine trailed off, letting them fall into a mulling silence once more.

"Is there a way that we could, I dunno, stage a protest or something?" Blaine looked over at Sam with a small frown on his face. Sam sighed and put down his cup. "Like, a way of threatening them without being physical… I don't know…something like a song." Blaine sat back in his chair, looking at the other two in interest.

"That is a good idea," said Artie. "we could make a stand; show them that they're not gonna change who we are or what we do." Blaine put a hand over his mouth, brain whirring because he reckoned he could get the Warblers on side…most of Dalton, actually…probably all of it.

"I think," he said, slowly. "it'd be safer if we did it." There were frowns on all their faces. "Us at Dalton," he clarified. "because, well, they're not going to be threatened or intimidated by you… Heck, they might not even listen to you. I could get all of Dalton out to support her, and we can put ourselves out there as a system of protection…I reckon, on mass, they might just think twice." There was a pause before the other three nodded.

"That sounds cool," affirmed Sam. "but what song?" Blaine ran a hand through his hair, thinking deeply.

"We're definitely ready?" asked Blaine. Sebastian sent him a level glare. Blaine swallowed, a small smile tweaking at his lips even as he shivered in the cold, winter, air. "Alright, I'll shut up." There were giggles and titters from the Warblers around them, and Blaine attempted to give them a fierce glare from watery eyes.

"Blaine," said Sebastian in a supercilious tone of voice. "I chose this song for a reason. One, the lyrics and the feel was perfect, and two, it was easy to learn. Any of them – even the tone deaf – can belt it out." He waved his hand around in a careless gesture, and Blaine rolled his eyes with a grin. "Now, shut up; it's my moment."

Blaine rolled his eyes once more as whatever Finn had been saying came to an end – it had been lost on the wind and the general hum of the Dalton boys – and Sebastian moved away to the top of the steps as the backing track kicked in. Blaine took a deep breath, mentally crossing his fingers that there would be no violent disturbances or name calling because, whilst Sebastian could brush it off and so could Blaine, he knew that Thad wouldn't be able to deal with it very well…or at all. He felt bad for it being a main focus of his given this was about Wade, but Blaine wasn't stupid enough to think that Thad had just stopped being suicidal, and keeping his friend alive just had to be one of his main priorites, even if-

There is a life about to start

When tomorrow comes

Blaine blinked once, suddenly realising that he had completely tuned out most of Sebastian's singing, and hastily stepped forward, trying to keep calm as he moved to his side and readied himself to sing;

Will you join in our crusade?

Who will be strong and stand with me?

He slipped his arm around Sebastian's waist as they'd planned because he was not leaving Nick and Jeff alone in making a defiant statement, and, alright, theirs was nothing in comparison to what they had planned, but it was a start – and just about all that they could manage because Blaine was not kissing Sebastian; yuck.

Beyond the barricade

Is there a world you long to see?

He looked around the courtyard and saw mostly gob-smacked faces staring back at him. He was unsurprised that the majority of McKinley, dimwitted as they were, were completely baffled by the sudden appearance of blazer clad boys in their school. They wouldn't understand until the chorus.

Then join in the fight

That will give you the right to be free

He smiled as Thad appeared by Sebastian's other side. He knew that Thad was scared and frightened about doing something like this, despite hiding it from the others and not saying anything, but, as he was tucked into Sebastian's side, Blaine knew that he knew he was safe from any harm.

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again…

He felt something inside of him swell at the sight of all the Dalton boys marching down, singing, with their gay pride flags and banners. He had been mildly surprised, but incredibly pleased, to find that it didn't take much convincing to get the traditional boys to do something that had absolutely never been done before ever by the school, but he also knew that what Hunter, who surprisingly had seemingly turned up of his own accord, had said to Thad – and the fact that he wasn't expelled – had stung a lot of people because Dalton was meant to be zero-tolerance, and they didn't see that there was anything they could do without bullying Hunter themselves. They saw this as their chance to do something right and to make amends for wrongs that they had had no part in last year. Blaine loved them indescribably for that.

Will you give all you can give

So that our banner may advance?…

He looked at Nick and Jeff with a wonky smile on his face as they moved together down the steps, openly flaunting their relationship because they were proud of it, and they loved each other so much. Blaine didn't even blink at their banner, but he was surprised by the lack of reaction from the crowd. It was like they understood what was going on, but they couldn't comprehend it.

The blood of the martyrs

Will water the meadows of France!

He held his breath in a nervous manner as Jeff, finishing his virtuosic note, kissed his boyfriend full on. There was nothing. Blaine couldn't understand. There was no jeering. There was just silence. Shock, he supposed.

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again…

This time he trained his eyes on Wade as he sung. Wade looked mildly overwhelmed, like he couldn't quite believe this was happening because of – for – him, but he could also see something so hopeful and overjoyed in his eyes. This was the moment he saw that there wasn't just a little group of outcast misfits behind him, but there was a huge community of people that looked past appearance and were there for him whether he was a boy or a girl. It just didn't matter because they weren't going to take anymore. They were standing up and saying no, and if McKinley couldn't enforce a zero-tolerance policy then they were going to have to do it for them.

There was no pause after the song ended because the boys, and any that had joined in, burst into applause. It was a deafening sound – hundreds of boys hollering at the tops of their voices – and Blaine slipped out of Sebastian's grasp to clap his frozen fingers together. Thad was laughing as Sebastian gave him a tight hug. Then Sebastian looked back at the courtyard, signalling for quiet, which eventually came.

"Let this be a lesson for all of you. We haven't come in to beat you all up, though we certainly could if we wanted to; we've come here to make a point: that you can't just push us around and get nothing back, and you do not have the right to threaten other people because you don't like something about you. Do you really think that it is in any way reasonable to threaten somebody's life because they are wearing a dress? Think about this; to make a death threat is illegal. You've physically assaulted someone and threatened their life, how lenient do you think anyone is going to be?" There was a still silence. "Oh, and a heads up, my dad is state attorney."

Sebastian smirked in a cool manner down at the very silent student body of McKinley, who, without a doubt, fully believed that Sebastian would have them banged up in jail if they so much as made a sound, but also because they felt threatened. Sebastian wasn't exactly physically imposing – he was kind of tall and thin – but he had a confident presence and bearing that made him look effortlessly intimidating…though, maybe it was just his ego that smothering the crowd, Blaine wouldn't know.

Either way, the students began to disperse, only just beginning to talk amongst themselves, and Blaine took the opportunity to dash down the steps to the New Directions. They had formed a crowd at the bottom of the steps, and he was immediately pulled into a giant group hug. He found himself laughing over nothing in particular as he gave Wade a particularly tight hug, looking around at everyone with a grin that was strangely wide – he couldn't explain it, but he was really happy in this moment.

"You guys were amazing!"

"Totally awesome!"

"Was that, like, the whole school or something?"

"I cannot believe that I just witnessed that!"

Blaine laughed, nodding because he would not have betted that he'd ever do something like that, and felt relief well up inside of him because the New Directions were okay with him. He could see that he wasn't just some tool to help Wade and to fight the battles they couldn't; he was their friend. The thought of that made him feel so much better. Most of the time, Blaine felt like he was picking up the different pieces of his life before Eli and attempting to slot it back together, and the New Directions were a giant shard that he hadn't thought would ever truly fit back in, but they did.

"Well," he said, swallowing. "I hope that helps, I really do." There were nods from the group, and Blaine looked straight at Wade. "Do you feel like coming in wearing a dress tomorrow?" There was a moment before a broad smile spread across Wade's face.

"Unique is coming back bitches!" he exclaimed, and Blaine laughed along with all the others in relief and delight because confidence was the hardest thing to retrieve after taking a hit like Wade had. Blaine could clearly see that Wade wasn't faking any of it; he was excited and expectant and relieved, but also filled with hope and confidence. Blaine and the others had given him all of that back, and Blaine couldn't really have asked for anything more. The three hours of detention they were all getting for bunking classes was a price that he would pay over and over again in return for that. He knew they all would.

"Everybody good?" asked David, appearing by Blaine's shoulder and making them all jump.

"Unique is returning to McKinley tomorrow," announced Blaine with a stupid grin on his face. David blinked once before a similar smile split across his face going from ear to ear. He reached forward and grabbed Wade into one of his strong hugs that was likely going to leave him gasping for air once it was over.

"That's just fantastic!" exclaimed David as Nick and Jeff, who had come bounding over and were now throwing themselves onto Wade because they were on a ridiculous high after performing and kissing in front of a whole crowd of people. Blaine didn't know why, but it made them feel good and empowered…or something.

"You go girl!" exclaimed Nick, bouncing up and down. Jeff's head tilted to the side in thought.

"Or do you prefer to be called guy when you look like a guy?" Blaine rolled his eyes to the heavens for no real reason other than it was Nick and Jeff, and they could put their feet in their mouths when they weren't thinking.

"I don't mind," he admitted. "Right now I'm Wade, but tomorrow I'll be Unique."

"Blaine," said Artie, holding out the video camera in his hands. "I've got the whole thing, including Sebastian's speech, so you can edit it or whatever you want." Blaine took it with a grateful smile .

"Thanks Artie, and all of you…" he looked around the grinning, pink cheeked, faces of the New Directions. Finn had joined the group, his hands falling onto Wade's shoulders. "…just…thanks; we couldn't have done it without you. You came up with the idea of doing this, and the idea of putting it on the web, so…thanks."

Blaine knew that he didn't have to thank the New Directions for what they had done – Wade was one of their own, and they were protective of their own – but he still felt like he should. The New Directions hadn't once mentioned him leaving in any manner that wasn't polite concern for how he was doing at Dalton, and no one had mentioned Kurt to him either. He knew that they hadn't forgotten, but he also knew that they still cared about him, and that he was still one of them. He liked the feeling that he still belonged with them, but he was also fully aware that he belonged more because he had left; they felt guilty and like they should have done more to make him stay… He knew that nothing would have made difference.

Blaine wished that he could say something that told them how much he appreciated what they were doing – you only felt guilty if you cared – but he didn't have any words. He knew that nothing could ever really be the same because they, or at least most of them, knew that he was keeping a secret, and he'd screwed up really badly as far as Kurt was concerned, but Blaine knew that he would take it because the alternative was being sure that the New Directions hated him and that nobody cared about him and that they were really only friends with him because he had been Kurt's boyfriend and they'd had to be nice to him, and he was a good singer.

Glancing around and taking in the mingling New Directions and Warblers, who were laughing and chatting in a casual manner, he felt an uncontrollable search of happiness rear up inside of him. Everything had come so far since he and Kurt had broken up. Back then, he was sure that his world was ending and that he would never be able to be happy again because he was such a screw up and he had wrecked Kurt's life and he was dirty, broken and wrong, and the only thing that was stopping him from tipping over the edge was the desire to not hurt Kurt anymore. Now, though, he could say that he was happy. He felt guilty, but he did not hate himself. He didn't hate himself because he couldn't – Eli had violated him – but also he didn't want to hurt any other people. He didn't want to be the one that broke Thad again, or caused David and Sebastian's strength to crumble, or that made Wes feel like a failure, or that destroyed Kurt…

He felt a couple of tears sting his eyes. He wasn't alright, but he knew that he could be. The people were singing, things were changing, and Blaine was going with it wherever it went because that was where his friends were going – Blaine never wanted to be on his own ever again: it was dangerous and destructive.

"Wow," said David, scrolling through the comments. "it's funny how controversial singing a song can be." Blaine rolled his eyes, and Sebastian whacked him around the back of the head for being stupid. Thad snorted as Nick and Jeff collapsed onto him in laughter.

"I say that's a job well done," said Sebastian, standing up straight and throwing off David's hands that were attempting to maul him. "I guess not everyone at public school is stupid, though they do all smell." Blaine turned a glare onto Sebastian that, naturally, he ignored.

"I hate how you think that that is being polite." Sebastian shrugged, pulling an unconcerned face as David went back to flagging the comments that were homophobic or in some way offensive. Sebastian winced and turned away from the computer screen.

"I think I need to leave before the bad grammar and spelling kills me. How do people with such little brains have the money for computers? Or-" Sebastian broke off, scowling at Thad, who was giving Sebastian a very fierce glare, and Blaine guessed that whatever was meant to follow that statement was very rude. Jeff and Nick began to snigger some more.

"Aww, Thaddy house trained you!" Blaine let out a loud snort as David pressed a hand over his mouth, shoulders shaking violently. Sebastian glared at Nick with an intensity that was clearly meant to set him alight.

"Don't call me Thaddy," said Thad, brushing off Jeff, who was leaving spit on his blazer from where his mouth had been pressed.

"But Johnny gets to call you that!" protested Nick, eyes going wide and bottom lip trembling. Thad rolled his eyes as Blaine leant against David, who had planted his face into the keyboard from laughter, and chuckled.

"Yes, but Johnny is three, and I know that you may behave like a three year old, but that doesn't mean you get to talk like one." There was a mildly surprised pause after in which Blaine shot Thad a knowing look, teasing him silently about picking up bad habits from Sebastian, and Sebastian projected a proud aura onto the room whilst Jeff and David laughed themselves stupid.

"Thaddy!" screamed Nick, bursting into fake sobs and throwing himself onto the Warbler councillor. Sebastian jumped forward to catch Thad in time, and the door flew open with a loud bang. Trent came running in.

"Hunter's leaving!" he exclaimed, face red, and everyone turned to stare at him with wide eyes, Blaine feeling his face go slack in surprise. What? Hunter was leaving? Why would he do that? He'd performed with them a-

"Why?" demanded Sebastian, calculating frown falling onto his face. Trent shrugged.

"I don't know, but he's dressed in military uniform and is packing his things into his Jeep as we speak." They all looked between each other with frowns, Blaine could see that Sebastian's mind was whirring at an alarming rate, and then they all made a unanimous decision to dash out of the house, across the frozen grounds and come skidding to a halt in the car park. Hunter looked up at them in surprise.

"Evening all," he said, casually. "if you're here to bid me a teary farewell then you can beat it." There was an incredulous silence, and Hunter rolled his eyes. "And I thought you were meant to have a sense of humour." He threw his last duffel bag into the boot and slammed it shut, turning to face them with a straight back.

"Why are you leaving?" asked Blaine, eventually, because this whole situation was just so weird. The moment that Hunter had probably turned it around with all the Dalton boys he decided to leave. Why would he do that? Hunter sighed, folding his hands behind his back and staring at them evenly.

"You taught me a valuable lesson here; we all have our wars to fight." Blaine frowned at him, mildly, as Sebastian let out a little breath and deflated slightly. "You've got yours, and it's an admirable cause, but it's not mine. To fight yours you need to care, and I don't. I'm sorry, but I don't give a shit whether you're treated like equals in society. You should, but it doesn't affect me." Blaine frowned some more because he really didn't understand the point that was being made to him, and neither did anyone else…oh, except Sebastian.

"I don't understand," said David, rubbing a hand over his forehead. "Are you saying that you don't give a shit about us, but you care about the people in whatever godforsaken country we've decided to siege or liberate or interfere with or…whatever?" Hunter sighed and shook his head.

"No…" he sighed once more. "Look, I came to Dalton to do a job, and I'm not needed to do that job so I might as well deploy myself somewhere useful, but, also, I need to fight the real wars because I don't care. None of you would last in combat, real combat, and I can mourn, I can say that's a waste of life, but I can also deal with it…none of you can. I can accept death, and maybe that's not a good thing, but it makes me a damn good solider. I can take risks," he looked directly at Thad, who swallowed but nodded. "and I can make sacrifices. In the end, I'm needed just as much as all of you are for your little…" he made a strange gesture with his hands. "perfect world." Blaine nodded because now he got what he was saying. The others were also nodding.

"Alright…you go murder people for a living." Hunter gave David a patronising glare before shrugging.

"For the record, I don't like any of you; we're all arrogant sons-of-bitches, but you do have my respect." Blaine felt a faint smile curve his lips as Hunter made his way to his car door, preparing to get in and drive off.

"Oh, Hunter," said Nick, taking half a step forward. Hunter looked at him, raising an eyebrow, and Nick swallowed. "try not to get shot." Hunter raised his eyebrow further, a smirk appearing on his face.

"You haven't become emotionally attached to me, have you?" Nick glared at him.

"Don't kid yourself, Clarington, I just don't want to miss the moment you become a wreck from all the death you've experienced, and I get to laugh in your face about becoming emotionally attached and then destroyed." Hunter rolled his eyes, and Blaine laughed along with the others because they could all hear the fond teasing in his voice.

"Funnily enough, Nicholas, dying isn't on my to-do list."

"Alright then," said Nick, giving him a mock-salute with two fingers. The others copied the gesture. Hunter rolled his eyes, snapping his heels together and giving them a real one whilst shooting them a look that said; and that is how you salute, and got into his car. There was a pause as they watched him drive off, Blaine smiling slight because he'd turned out alright.

"You know, I think Dalton should become a reform school for grade A bastards; I mean, we've converted Sebastian and Hunter…I'm sure we can change anyone." Sebastian reached over and tweaked Jeff's ear, making him yelp in pain.

"Hey, maybe it's Thad," said David, swinging an arm over Thad's shoulder. "have you noticed how all these people become nice after they do bad things to him? We could market him." Blaine burst out laughing, along with all the others, at the sight of Sebastian's scowl and how he'd peeled Thad away from David. Nick, Jeff and Trent immediately began teasing him as Thad went pink, and David was bent double, slumped against Blaine, almost making his legs buckle as they both laughed in a delirious manner.

Blaine was at the best school with the best friends ever.

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