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Pilot: Windsor House "and so I told Mrs.

Ramsey that I really didn't care if I have to stay in a dorm; it's long enough a commute for gas money and I just can't stand the thought of having to have my dad pay for any more than he and Carole already have" Kurt hugged the books to his chest and kept his head down. Blaine considered this posture. Kurt held himself ramrod straight with good bearing as usual, but the way he kept his head down and refused to look most Dalton boys in the eye made it clear that he had yet to become truly comfortable in the new environment. Blaine glanced at David, who was looking up from where he had been previously studying sheet music, also glancing at Kurt. The two Warblers exchanged a glance that acknowledged what they had both noticed, and the lead Warbler turned to the prospective one: "Well, we'd be more than happy to have you at our dorm, of course." "Oh, you board?" Kurt blinked up at him. "Windsor." Blaine nodded, averting his gaze with as much of a casual air as he could adoptwhenever Kurt bestowed the full power of those incredible cesious eyes (at the moment amplified by the floods of sunlight from the bay windows) towards him, thinking rationally became difficult. David pretended not to notice the steep drop in Blaine's general intellect and simply rolled his eyes. But he said, "There are still a few rooms free at Windsor, you know." Windsor House, in the East wing was one of the three dormitories of Dalton, the others being Hanover House, farther in the West wing, and Stuart House in the North wing. The South and Main was where all the major classrooms and facilities were housed. Blaine noddedjust slightly too enthusiastically to be noticed. "We can talk to Mr. Howard for you. He's the head of Windsor House." "Are you sure that's all right?" Kurt asked carefully. He had only been to Dalton for a few hours and was still getting his bearings, but even he understood that there were certain societal standings in the school. Each dormitory was protective of its own fraternal pride and the boys often segregated accordingly when traveling in packs. Kurt marveled at the amount of gossip he'd heard about all this in under a day and concluded that boys talk generally as much as girls do. "Of course it's all right," David smiled kindly. "Besides, even though the group is a big hodgepodge, there are more Warblers in Windsor than there are in Stuart and Hanover. We're pressed for rehearsal time as it isit'll be easier for you to catch up if you were practicing with us. Assuming you get accepted, of course." David looked almost apologetic as he amended that last part. Kurt swallowed and let out his breath. "Right." He nodded. "I get to finally try out." "Hey, don't worry too much," Blaine smiled. "You'll get in, I'm sure." Kurt smiled faintly at him. "Thanks, but since you've actually never heard me sing, I'll take your prophecy with a grain of salt." He smirked and lifted one charming eyebrow.

"There's Wes," Blaine then waved his friend over in an attempt to not get snagged by another Kurt-gives-me-an-adorable-expression trap. "And he's still alive! He dodged Madame Saint-Clair's bullet." Catching sight of the other three, Wes jogged up to them, breaking free from the mass of boys that just came out of the French professor's forum. David greeted him with a grin. "And how did it go? Was there blood? Your brain seems to be intact." "I refuse to study any more French," Wes sighed with a little melodrama as propriety allowedhe had manifestly determined to help Blaine rein in the madness in Dalton so as not to scare the new boy too much just yet. "If I promise to refuse my parents' yearly trip to Paris, I won't need it anymore, right?" The others laughed. "I'll help you, if you like," Kurt offered with a grin. "You?" Wes raised an eyebrow. He glanced at the other two boys before turning back to Kurt, "No offense butdoes McKinley drill juniors that hard on Advanced French?" "Trust meI can help," Kurt said confidently. "I've over-exaggeratedly given emphasis on French." The red and white uniform that was still hidden in the depths of wardrobe was a testament to that. "If you don't pass next week's oral, I'll buy you lattes for a week." "Well, what do you knowwe are just too lucky to have you." Wes' expression flashed to Blaine, implying something that the other boy might've previously said. Blaine colored up just slightlybut he did "accidentally" jab Wes in the ribs as he cleared his throat and moved forward to keep his place next to Kurt as they walked. The two behind them looked at each other and bumped fists with barely disguised snickers. Blaine looked at Kurt and gave him a smile. Kurt returned it, still anxious, but felt better.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. As you may know, I just transferred here in order to avoid somedifficulties in McKinley. Don't get me wrong: I love the glee club back at McKinleybut the truth is, push came to shove and nowhere I am. I'm officially a student at Dalton. My problem is that my plans got as far as actually going to Dalton. Now that I'm actually here, I realize that I've made absolutely no plans as to what I intend to happen to me here. Fortunately, I have Blaine, David, and Wes to, for better or worse, lead me to some direction.
"Come on!" David called as he jogged ahead down the steps. "If we want to catch Howard, we've got to get in early into the Dining Hall!" "What are you talking to Howard for?" Wes asked as he followed. "Getting the newbie into Windsor."

Wes' smothered burst of derisive laughter was checked by Blaine's glower. Wes backpedaled. "Whoa, I mean, sure. Hey, maybe Howard won't kill us if we ask this time. Gee, good luck getting up to the professor's table, David, I won't be joining you, but I'll be sending flowers to your grave." "Is there something about Mr. Howard I should know about?" Kurt asked, blanching just a little. "I am to meet the man and I think I'd like to remain intact after I do." "It's not you, it's us," Blaine sighed. "This isn't the first time we've tried to get someone into Windsor." "Or the second," chipped in David. "Or third," added Wes. "Or fifth." "Or sixth." "What is going on here?" Kurt stared. "New people don't last long at Windsor" Wes smiled faintly. "And when they do, it doesn't really help Windsor's case." "Why?" The other three paused, looking at each other. Kurt looked at them and gestured expectantly. "Well?" David grinned. "We're not supposed to scare you this early, Blaine said so." The lead Warbler lunged at himDavid ducked, tucked, rolled and sprang up againbut Blaine turned back to Kurt and responded, "Don't listen to him. It's just that it takes a special kind of person to tolerate some of the crazy that goes on in Windsor. Not just in the common room. It'severywhere." Kurt, a veteran of madness who had survived over a year of glee at McKinley where he had been drunk, slushied, had walked around as Lady Gaga, had been a football player, a cheerleader, had experienced hallucinations, some incredibly wild performance numbers, dealt with a psychopathic cheerleading coach, a neurotic guidance counselor, a glee teacher stuck in the 80s, accrued a heated battle against soulless robots (Vocal Adrenaline) and, most importantly, had dealt with the issues of the entire glee club and Rachel Berry (who deserves a separate mention), now lifted an eyebrow. "Crazy?" "No." Blaine turned up the wattage of his smile. "Come on, Mr. Howard, seriously. You're not going to have a problem with Kurt."

"That's what you said when you brought Dwight." "And Dwight is still in Windsor!" David exclaimed happily. "Unfortunately, he still is," the tall sprightly man glowered down at them. "When you told me that he had odd habits, you didn't say it was that he was even more superstitious than an old homemaker in the 1800s." "So he likes to hang cloves of garlic at his windows" Wes, who, despite his better judgment, decided to participate in getting the new one into Windsor to spare them Blaine's promise of undying vengeance should he not, tried to adopt a nonchalant tone. "We've already convinced him to stop lining his doorways with salt!" "And we told him to stop "ghost hunting" at the old cathedral!" David supplied. "how's the caretaker doing, by the way?" "I don't know what kind of food coloring Dwight used, but as I understand that "brand" on Mr. Tamerlane's arm is still there!" Howard all but roared. Blaine winced, grateful that they'd caught the house head while he was still in the hall. They were given a few odd looks by some passing Hanover boys who may have known what was up. Kurt remained at one side, quiet, seemingly intent on trying to ignore what he was hearing. "And seriously, Kurt is more normal than some of us," Blaine said with a smile. "He went to his old school's glee clubthat's about it. We were hoping he'll join the Warblers." "If you want him to join your group, that's fine, but he'll be complaining me in a week, I'm sure," Howard crossed his arms over his chest. "Actually," Kurt finally said, and they looked at him, "I've put up with quite a lot of strange things at my old school, I'm sure this isfine." Howard seemed to be taken aback by this and moved past the other three boys. He looked Kurt over through his spectacles. Kurt looked up at the man's great height and did the same. Todd Howard had been the head of Windsor house for nearly twenty years. Having been given that position allowed him to watch the nation's future leaders come and go from Windsor House, some of them returning to visit on occasion. In recent years, things often did not go as peacefully as he liked. Sometimes even less. Windsor may be a very popular house, but if there was anything about it that was notable, it would be that life is never (for better or for worse) boring. Making a living out of refereeing all this at the very least allowed him to read a boy's bearings early on. He gave Kurt a look over. "What's your name, son?" "Kurt Hummel, sir," Kurt smiled. Howard considered the small boy with the elfin features. "So you sing?" "Yes."

"Is that all?" "WellI like fashionable clothes." "And?" "And what?" "Unusual sleeping habits? Food allergies? Odd hobbies? Tendencies to destroy property? Uproot magnolias out of compulsion? Walk backwards? Release lab animals? Recite the entire Summa Theologica? In Latin?" Kurt was barely able to stop giving him an "are you crazy?" expression. He instead looked at the corner of his eyes to Blaine. Blaine just shrugged, trying not to smile. Howard saw where he was looking and glanced back to Blaine, who immediately put on another charming grin. David and Wes were veritable twin angels who looked like they had no idea what Howard was talking about. Howard turned back to Kurt. "Are you positive that you would like to board at Windsor?" "I don't see why I shouldn't." The coughing from Wes and David nearly gave it all away, but even Howard seemed to understand. He sighed and looked at Kurt. "Fine. Windsor it is." He turned to the other three. "I'll be keeping an eye on this one, make sure you boys don't scar him too much. After Marcus Holland fled Windsor for Stuart" "His loss!" David scoffed. "Reed thought he was sick and was just trying to help" Wes added. "Which is why he threw twenty two comforters on top of him while he slept?" "Guys!" Blaine snapped. Silence. The three boys looked at Mr. Howard expectantly, and Howard looked at the new boy, cogitating. Kurt took this opportunity to give Mr. Howard his best "I-really-don'tgive-a-damn" expression. "So when do I move in?" Kurt had read all about the school's housing in the pamphlet he ended up reading during the truly awkward one and a half hour ride to Westerville with his father on this first day of school. As far as background went, it seemed as though all the dormitories were desirable and extravagant in ordinary standards as majority of Dalton's elite student body resided in them. As it stood, Windsor House was by far the most desirable house, with a great deal of accomplished alumni graduating from it and all but being hand-delivered to Ivy League schools. That was how it looked like from the black-and-white. When Blaine, Wes and David brought Kurt to Windsor for the first time, that massive manor-style building with ancient

columns and could put some of the nation's best collegiate fraternity houses to shame, it looked as though it would live up to everything it had been acclaimed to be. And it did, in one way or another. "Youall live here?" Kurt asked, watching some boys go into the dormitories. Inside, past the oak doors, a vaulted entrance hall greeted them. The floor was marble and across the great wooden beams overhead that broke the sunlight, a massive drop-down banner in deep royal blue cut through with a golden ray, Windsor's colors. The architecture was exquisite; from the rich tints of the wood to the elegant hues of the walls and the tasteful dcor, Windsor might as well have been an exhibit at a museum depicting old world elegance. "Yes, wellWes used to be in Hanover," Blaine smiled. "Really?" asked Kurt, following the others down the hall. "Why did you switch?" "It was more exciting here." "All right, I might be starting to get a little nervous," Kurt said, frowning at them. Blaine laughed and put his arm around his shoulders. While Kurt tried to restrain his heart from flying out of his chest at this sudden action, Blaine tried to exude feigned coolness. "Okay, look, those things that we talked about with Howardthey're extreme cases. The boys here are rationalmostly. Don't worry. We wouldn't actually put you in danger." Something upstairs exploded, making Kurt jump. Everyone in the hall barely batted an eye. Without so much as breaking his stride, Wes pulled out a fire extinguisher standing at nearby and handed it to a boy who was seemed to have arrived in the hall for that very reason. Everyone carried on. Before Kurt could marvel at this, his phone rang. He pulled it out and read the text.

Hey Kurt! You at Dalton? What are you up to? M

Kurt smiled and quickly replied. Thinking of boarding. K

Soyou'll only be around on weekends? M

Kurt felt a twinge. He'd seen the look on Mercedes' face when he had announced his intention to leave. She was the first person who he should have talked to about it and in the end, she had been one of the last. Even he had to admit that after all that he and Mercedes had been through together, she deserved more than a last minute announcement without even consulting her prior to his decision.

Sorry, M. I just thought it would help Dad and Carole if I stopped commuting so much. -K I get that. Don't worry about it. M You know I'll be right over in a heartbeat if you need me, right? K

Kurt, relax. We understand. And don't worry, we'll catch up on everything on weekends. M
There's that "we" that Kurt was dreading. It hadn't just been Mercedes. It was the whole club. He started to wonder what they were doing now. It was lunch time, so they must be in the cafeteria, or maybe even in the music room rehearsing for whatever performance Mr. Schuester had planned for them. Mike, Tina and Mercedes would be dancing, to what Puck might be playing on the guitar, and Artie might be trying to explain to Brittany that facials were not things done by fascists. Santana and Quinn might be discussing some madness by coach Sylvester while Sam kept his arm around Quinn. Rachel would be baffling Finn by obsessing about rehearsals, and since Kurt was no longer around, she might well be taking the solo that would have supposedly been for him. If he hadn't left. "Kurt?" He looked up and saw the other three staring at him in concern. He blinked. "What?" Wes glanced at Blaine, who had been trying to catch Kurt's attention twice and had only now succeeded. As he expected, Blaine looked apprehensive. "Is everything all right?" "Yeah," Kurt breathed, shoving his phone back into his pocket. "Fine. Why?" David raised an eyebrow and glanced sideways at Wes. Wes looked back and then looked at Blaine. Blaine kept his eyes on Kurt as he moved forward. "You sure?" he asked. "Yeah," Kurt nodded and smiled for good measure. The problem with having so much in common with Kurt was knowing when he wasn't telling the whole story. But for now, Blaine decided to overlook this and grabbed Kurt's hand with a dazzling smile. "Come on, I'll show you the rooms." Kurt, blindsided by the grin, could do no more than smile and follow him up the handcarved staircase. David and Wes looked at each other and just shook their heads with a laugh. "I seriously wish they'd get a move on," David complained, loosening his tie. "If I hear Blaine pine over him one more time" "I don't know, the last time Blaine had a crush on someone, it took him two months to actually say something to him" Wes said doubtfully. "Let's not talk about that, it pains me to remember what we had to go through," David winced. "I remember when he heard this song and decided that it was perfect for their situation and it was the only thing playing in his room for a week." "I avoided his room like the plague." "I actually had to live with that; we shared a room, Wes. WE SHARED A ROOM. I kept earmuffs next to my bed!"

"And yet here we areagain," Wes sighed, waving to the stairs where Blaine and Kurt had disappeared to. David made the same long-suffering sigh. "What we do for the sake of friendship" Kurt was pretty sure that Blaine went this way down the halls, but after the older boy had let go of his hand for a moment to talk to a Warbler in one of the rooms, he found himself lost. Surely he couldn't be that hopeless in navigation, but Windsor's corridors not only looked identical but they looked similar in every floor. Kurt had simply wandered away for a moment, staring at the art that hung on the walls, the furnishings, the fact that the floors were carpeted and that the wood furniture looked as though antique dealers would have heart attacks upon seeing them. And now he had no idea where he was. And he had the feeling he was being watched.

And now I remember that thing I told Coach Sylvesterabout feeling like I'm in a horror movie Kurt glanced around surreptitiously. He thought he heard movement behind him, but there was nothing there when he looked. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he turned back in front of him and found that a blonde boy was standing there with a Cheshire Cat grin.
"Hello, Alice," he said, ice blue eyes sparkling. "Pardon?" Kurt stared. "Welcome to Wonderland," spoke an identical voice behind him. He quickly turned and found the same boy, with the same grin, standing the same way. Orat least that was what it looked like. "Okay" Kurt stared back and forth at the two of them. The twin behind him made one smooth step with his long leg and was now standing next to his brother. The pair of handsome twins were grinning. "You look lost, Alice," said one. "Did you fall down the rabbit hole and hit your head?" "Because if you're lost, we can point you to the right way," said the other. Kurt decided that even Brittany's hallucinations might have made more sense than this, but he shook it off and just flashed them a rather nervous grin. "I'm Kurt. I'm" "New," the twins chorused. "We know." "Andyou are?" The twin on the left raised a hand. "I'm Ethan." "I'm Evan," said the other twin.

And in unison, they both grabbed each of Kurt's hands. "Come on, Alice!" they chorused. "We'll give you orientation!" Not really having the strength to protest and not really able to hold back the twins dynamos who were currently pulling at his arms with enough force to amputate, Kurt flustered, "Actually I was here with Blaine?" "Blaine?" "We know where he is." "He's downstairs!" "He's looking for you!" "He won't mind if we borrow you for a bit." And Kurt was unceremoniously swept into a Windsor room for the first time. The hallways only prepared him partially for what a room in Dalton actually looked like. It was like stepping into the set of the Tudors. It didn't look like much from the outside, but inside was the size of a large apartment, with no walls to separate the common area from the beds. There was a central area where comfortable furniture lay. In the twins' case, there was a lush white couch, a glass coffee table, with a large television screen. The coffee table was occupied by some massive nerf guns that looked out of place amidst thick schoolbooks. Beyond this living circle were the beds, one on each side of the room, each standing on a wooden dais that served to separate it from the common area. The beds were wellkept antique four posters with sheer drapes. One bed was made, the other was not (but it had school clothes all over it). There was a third dais, directly across the doors, that could serve to hold another bed, but in this case, it just served as an extension of the common area. "Okay!" said one twin, probably Evan, plopping Kurt down unceremoniously onto the sinfully luxurious white couch in the common area. "This is what a Windsor room looks like." "Actually, it's what every dorm room looks like," said the one who was probably Ethan. "We've seen the others." "But Windsor is still the best." "Of course." "UmI don't mean to be rude, but could you guys possibly talk in one straight go one at a time?" Kurt asked, confused. Ethan laughed. "Blaine says it helps if you just think of us as just one person. If you're new, that is. You'll get used to it."

"Thank you," Kurt grinned. Evan continued, "Here at Windsor, there are two to three people in a room. Unless you're special, you can request for your own room. Like if you're a captain of a sports team. Or if you've always broken the ninety-eighth percentile in class." "But that's difficult," Ethan said blandly. "Because everyone gets amazing grades here." "Everyone." "Yep." "Excellent is average here." Kurt wavered slightly, trying to take all this information in. While he looked for "challenging" back at McKinley, this wasn't quite what he expected. "Everyone. All right" "There are three dormsWindsor, Hanover and Stuart, and we like Stuart the least." The other twin made a thumbs-down gesture and a grimace. "Why?" he continued before Kurt could even open his mouth to ask, "Because they're a bunch of brownnosing asskissers and that's basically all you need to know." "And you'll protect your fellow Windsor boys from them to the death, and we'll do the same for you," nodded the other twin sagely. "Windsor is, without a doubt, the best housedon't mind Hanover, they're harmlessbut Stuart is looking to trip us up with every step. Do not trust them." After that statement, the manic gleam in their eyes died away to Kurt's relief. "Curfew is ten on weekdays, eleven on weekends," said Ethan. "Until then, you can run around doing basically whatever you like. But if you don't make it, you'll get locked out." "Which is why it's useful to have us as friends," grinned Evan. "Because we can get you back inside and Howard would be none the wiser!" Ethan looked proud. "We can unlock any door, any window, on campus. Both literally and figuratively." "This must be your thing," Kurt raised an eyebrow, wondering if these two were for real. They seemed like the type who might be pulling his leg. "They said that everyone in here has something off about them." "Wellnot only," Evan smiled sweetly and then offered Kurt a Nerf gun. Kurt considered, then smiled and took the gun. "Good choice," grinned Ethan. And he pulled out his own nerf gun and shot Kurt right at the forehead. When Blaine walked out from the twins' room not more than ten minutes later, he was livid for a few reasons: one, after yelling at the twins for grabbing Kurt without letting the

rest of them know where he was, two, for getting Kurt mixed up in their twice-a-week Nerf battle, and three, for assaulting him with said Nerf guns the moment he walked in. Leaving the new boy alone in Windsor House was never a good idea, but at least Kurt was breathing when he pulled him out of the nerf war going on. Barely, anyway. Kurt was laughing so hard that he was stumbling in his walk, Blaine's hand clutching his firmly, and he looked the older Warbler and choked, "What are those guys on?" "We wish we knew," Blaine smiled, amused nevertheless at how Kurt seemed to have been enjoying himself. He leaned a bit closer to inspect Kurt's scarlet forehead. "They got you there, all right." "It was worth it watching Evan manage a perfect matrix backbend after my first clear shot at him," Kurt swallowed, smile turning rather awkward at Blaine's close proximity. Blaine, however, looked intrigued. "How do you know that one was Evan?" "I don't," Kurt admitted. "He justfelt like Evan?" "That was actually Ethan," Blaine grinned. "He's the springier one." "Oh so they do have differences," Kurt laughed. "Very few." Blaine stopped at one door and opened it. "This is my room." Kurt looked inside and saw that though it may have been completely alike the twins' in architecture, it was all veryBlaine. The furnishings in the middle common were different, made of warm comfortable colors and material. There was a thick rug under the middle common, and only one bed looked in use. Since it was surrounded by a study area heaped with books, pens, papers and a sleek laptop and had a corkboard full of Warblers' photos, Kurt assumed that this bed was Blaine's. The other dais had a bed, but it was pushed to the side and the space left was full of pillows large enough to sit in. The middle dais, to Kurt's utter fascination, had been set up as a small theatre with a cinema screen. "Howdid you even get that screen in?" Kurt gaped. "It's actually pretty oldit used to be in one of the AV rooms, but when they upgraded, I asked if I could have it." "And they let you?" Blaine grinned. "It's not for me entirely. A lot of the Warblers come here to hang out. So we pulled strings." McKinley's glee club couldn't even afford transportation, let alone a whole cinema screen, Kurt marveled. He walked around the room, looking at Blaine's collection of theatre posters and stopped at the corkboard full of photos of Warblers and others who weren't in the Dalton uniform. It suddenly struck him that the room was very quiet. And then he looked up. "Waityou room alone?" "If a person had as much as ten other boys crashing in at every given hour to harmonize, make noise, and generally cause confusion, roommates don't last long."

Kurt smiled and sat down onto the couch with a sigh, looking around. "So you're here, by yourself" He looked around the largeness of it all. "Helps me appreciate the quiet time better, when the boys don't come by," Blaine admitted, sitting next to him. A silence fell that was neither awkward nor tense. They both looked tired without really acknowledging what it was they were tired about. Both seemed lost in thought for a moment. Blaine roused himself first, and saw Kurt staring into his phone. There was nothing on the screen. Blaine nudged him gently. "Hey." For an instant, Kurt glanced to him in response before he leaned against his shoulder, not even trying to smile this time. Blaine looked at him, a bit surprised, but welcomed it while it lasted. He put strong arm around Kurt's shoulders, not sure if he was trying to soak up warmth or impart it to the other boy. In spite of himself, Kurt turned his face to Blaine's shoulder and let out a shuddering sigh, and Blaine clasped his free hand in his. "it gets easier," he finally murmured. A pause. "when?" Kurt whispered without moving, clutching a bit tighter onto his hand. "When indeed" Blaine sighed. He glanced at Kurt again. He was always so close to those enticing lips that had first mesmerized him that afternoon at McKinley's damp staircase. And just like then, he turned away from them before he did something regrettable. He wanted to tell him everything so badly, but though he thought about it day after day, there simply weren't any words at present to explain what he felt about him. Even he himself couldn't properly understand how one boy managed, in under a day, to win over his attentions without even knowing he did. And with everything that had gone on, he would simply hurt Kurt right now; he was sure that Kurt did not need this new complication. In his current state, any move from him would be seen as taking advantage of him. And he would never forgive himself if he just managed to add himself to Kurt's problems right now.

For nowI'll protect you. From everything. even from me.

Blaine smiled down at Kurt. "when you trust yourself to stand again." Kurt looked up. Blaine's smile widened. "You must be an amazing person, Kurt, to have withstood all that for so long." He turned away, eyes wandering to the mass of photographs on his corkboard. "I didn't last that long." "Blaine?" Kurt sat up, looking at him, brow furrowing in concern. But Blaine just looked at him with that same warm expression. "You're really so much

stronger than you think you are. Kurtcourage can also mean believing in yourself to rise past everything and become who you want to be again, at a time when everything seems to have fallen apart." He took Kurt's hands. "This time, thoughI'm with you all the way. Like I told you before, I've got your back. All right?" Kurt looked down at their hands, and back up at Blaine's smile. He felt his eyes sting as they filled with tears but his pride refused to let them fall, blinking them away. He laughed through the haze in his eyes and nodded. "Yeah. All right." Blaine laughed and grinned at him. "Hang in there." Kurt just laughed, wiped his eyes and nodded. "It's like something out of a Julia Roberts movie," Wes grumbled, rolling his eyes goodnaturedly from the hall, having seen the whole scene play out. David grinned at him then looked back at the two in Blaine's room. "I'm going to have to agree. But they're almost disgustingly adorable." "Blaine actually looks happy," Evan smirked, and Ethan added, "which is better than watching him stare at his Blackberry waiting for a text from his pretty pretty nymph." "Is it officially his pretty pretty nymph yet?" David asked. "Not yet. If the way they're being so fidgety around each other is any indication. And you know as well as I do that if Blaine were ever officially "with" anyone, well" Wes rolled his eyes. "He'd be struggling a lot less." He gestured to the two chatting amicably inside the room. "Can he sing?" asked Ethan curiously. "You did mention he was from McKinley's glee club." "The only McKinley tape we've got has that small girl with the major pipes up front," Evan commented. "And Blaine's little nymph was chorus vocal." "Well Blaine insists he can singI don't know how he knows when even Kurt says that he's never heard him," David shrugged. "We'll find out soon enough," Wes nodded, crossing his arms over his chest, keeping his eyes on the couple on the couch. "He'll have to sing for Harvey and Medel. They'll decide." "He'll be fine," chorused the twins. "And how would you know?" David raised an eyebrow. Evanor was it Ethan?smiled as he studied Kurt's bright smile as he looked up at Blaine. "Just a feeling."

Episode 2: Warbling

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. As you may know, I just transferred here in order to avoid somedifficulties in McKinley. Don't get me wrong: I love the glee club back at McKinleybut the truth is, push came to shove and nowhere I am. I'm officially a student at Dalton. Blaine, David, and Wes are helping me get used to things here, but after meeting the twins and seeing Windsor, I'm starting to get a little bitconcerned. And from the looks of things, this was only the beginning. I just hope I know what I just got myself into.
Blaine, looking down at the book he had just pulled out from the stacks, turned a corner of the shelves and collided with a figure that was waiting for the opportunity to catch him in private. He looked up, startled, and then immediately rolled his eyes. "Dwight! I told you a million times to stop lurking in the shelves." "Blaine," hissed the slightly taller, skinnier male, so pale that he was almost translucent, the only color on him being his lips (red from perpetual nervous biting), and the crop of black hair contrasting powerfully against his pallor. He was hugging a large tome with a pentagram on the cover. "I need to talk to you!" "I thought you weren't allowed into the library anymore," Blaine blinked. He imagined that someone throwing rock salt onto the shelves was one incident that library staff was not going to overlook. Dwight waved it away, irritated. "Whatever, I need my research material. I am this close to exorcising the church bell tower once and for all." "Look, Dwight, intriguing as all this is" Blaine rolled his eyes and glanced to the librarian who was starting to wonder where the noise was coming from, "I need to get back to my geography assignment." "I need to talk to you about that new kid." "Kurt?" Blaine glanced at him as he headed back to the desk he had claimed. "What about him?" "He's moving into Windsor, right? Shouldn't you consult me first before all this? What if there's something malignant in one of the empty rooms? Do you remember that time Reed went into one of the closets in an empty room and he came running out screaming?" "One, Reed has the tendency to go extremely over the top with everything as he is terribly danger-prone," Blaine responded calmly, noting in great detail the tropical areas as detailed in the book. "And two, Reed didn't go into a closethe went into one of the bathrooms to get some cleaning supplies left there, tripped and the shower curtain collapsed on him. Of course he would run out screaming."

"I'm still convinced it was a poltergeist," Dwight grumbled. "This still doesn't explain to me anything you wanted to talk about with regards to Kurt." "He's strange" Dwight finally said. "It's worrisome. It could be dangerous. Almost suspicious." Blaine graced him with his attention now, though he raised an eyebrow. "Really. How? Did you see him emitting a bright magenta aura?" Dwight fidgeted, scratching at the corner of his book with his long fingernails. "no, he seemed terribly unhappy." Blaine finally lowered the book at this. "What do you mean unhappy?" "Fine, not completely 'unhappy'. Morelost." Dwight took a pause, then looked up with big dark eyes filled with horror. "He's not possessed is, he? We don't need any more spirits wandering the halls!" Blaine waved the accusation away almost irritably, summoning superhuman patience. "What makes you say he's lost?" "I was in his Ecology and Environmental Studies class. He kept staring at floating dust specks. He wasn't paying attention to Mr. Newman. And only the truly suicidal do not pay attention to Mr. Newman when he's outlining the exam coverage!" "Boys!" The two jumped as the librarian materialized at their elbows, frowning disapprovingly. "If you must carry on this way, you'll have to step outside and stop disturbing other students!" Blaine decided not to tell her that the only other two students in the library were solidly asleep in their cubicles. "Sorry, Mrs. Abernathy." "And Mr. Houston, what are you doing in here? And with that book again!" Eyes wide, Dwight fled instantly, bounding away like an antelope, his open blazer flapping behind him like a cape and still taking the book with him. Blaine picked up his own bag and left at a less hasty pace, pulling out his Blackberry. An emergency minimeeting was needed. "Blaine, he's been here one day," David said, almost exasperated over the tall black coffee that he was attempting to down. "It's natural for him to beconfused." "And after getting assaulted by these two earlier" Wes jerked his thumb to the twins, who were sitting at the same table. They pretended as though Wes had mortally wounded them with the accusation. "And why, oh why would you listen to Dwight? This is the guy who carries a spritz bottle full of holy water everywhere he goes "just in case"." "Dwight is observant, if anything," Blaine protested. "Because until he's actually boarded,

he can repeal the transfer, so I don't want Kurt second-guessing his move here within twenty-four hours of doing so." "He'll be doing that all day and tomorrow, until he finally gets used to it," said David sensibly, yanking out some tissues and wiping down his part of the table. "When you transferred here" "Shh!" coloring a deep crimson, Blaine all but threw his coffee at him, not wanting the subject broached again. Wes swatted him off David. "I considered it a defining moment when we finally got you to start talking. Only to find out that you had a die-hard crush on Tom Felton." He sighed deeply, long-sufferingly, like a reminiscing war veteran. "It was like we had opened a dam and we couldn't get it to stop" The twins were choking on their frappes by now, laughing too hard to be coherent, having to hold onto each other to remain upright. Blaine glared with all the force he could muster in his current riot of emotions (anxiety, embarrassment, and the utter urge to decapitate one of his so-called "friends") and said, "We've got to do something to at least make him feel better." "How about we have a few games?" Wes asked, humoring their clearly enamored lead singer. "We can break out RockBand again." "We're not allowed to play RockBand in the common room anymore," David reminded him. "The incident with the mop and Mr. Tamerlane's pet duck?" Everyone on the table winced. "How about paintball?" chorused the twins. "No. Also no longer allowed indoors. Charlie isn't even out of the hospital yet." "Bake him a cake?" "The kitchen ceiling is still scorched." "There's got to be something we can do that won't do property damage," Blaine grumbled in one of those moments where he wished he lived in a quieter dormitory. Everyone was silent for a moment, either thinking of what they could do for Kurt, or what they could do at all seeing as how their pastimes were being banned one by one. This was when the twins sat up, as though getting twin lightbulbs on their heads. They blinked at each other and nodded. They both looked at Blaine. "We have an idea," said Ethan. Evan nodded. "But we'll have to get started now, if we want to make it in time later for the Warbler meeting." Kurt had earlier received a message from one of the student runners that a Mr. Greg Harvey and a Ms. Sylvia Medel were requesting him to come to the second music room

early so that they would be able to formally meet him for the first time. His throat going dry, he recognized their names as the choir director and music teacher in charge of the Warblers, and that the second music room was also semi-officially "the Warblers' Hall". As if that was not enough, a message had appeared on his iPhone during his last period:

Kurt, something important came up in the dorms. But I'll definitely be at Warblers' meeting with you. Meet you there. Blaine
This left Kurt standing outside the hall feeling rather anxious and staring at his phone as though he willed it to somehow convey his need for Blaine to come as soon as humanly possible. He had never been one to be anxious or nervous about such a thing (he was quite sure that he could easily out-diva these boys if he had to) but he had seen the Warblers perform and if anything, they looked like a solid unit that worked seamlessly with one another. And with Sectionals under a week, if he didn't manage to prove himself capable of adapting to their style, they might not think he was up to speed at all. Their style was definitely different from New Directions'. And if he couldn't at least be in a glee club He looked around these large, imposing halls and sighed. He may have felt out of place back in Lima, but he also had yet to fit in here. Not for the first time, he felt that painful twinge of doubt, and then guilt. Everybody believed in him, and yet here he was, moping. Ridiculous. This was completely un-fabulous. His phone started to vibrate in his pocket, and he pulled it out to find that it was a call. From Rachel Berry. Well this was asurprise. Kurt looked around and ducked to a nearby hallway near the open arches that overlooked the gardens. He answered the call, lifting it to his ear, not really sure what to expect. "Rachel?" "A-hem," Rachel cleared her throat, seeming to come from a slight distance. When she spoke, she wasn't speaking to him. He heard her say, "All right, he's on! All of you, look alive! Come on!" That same imperious tone as always, and he heard, in the background, sound of minor grumbling"He can't actually see us, Rachel"from the boys, and giggling from the girls, and the sound of shuffling feet. Kurt's heart jumped to his throat. The call was on speaker phone in Rachel's end and the whole McKinley glee club was there. "Kurt!" Rachel called from wherever she was standing, sounding immensely pleased with herself. "I" Finn coughed at this, and Rachel made an impatient noise, "I meanwe have something for you."

"What?" Kurt almost laughed, unable to believe his ears. "We hope you like it!" Tina said happily, and he could hear her smile from her voice. He could hardly believe this. "What are you guys?" The music started, slow and gentle. Kurt listened, gripping the phone to his ear. The flash of recognition came when he recognized the strains, and the glee club began to sing.

I've heard it said That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn And we are led to those who help us most to grow If we let them, and we help them in return Well, I don't know if I believe that's true But I know I'm who I am today Because I knew you
They were singing a modified group rendition of Wicked's "For Good". He could hear Rachel's powerful voice soaring above the others, taking fine control, Mercedes' ardent vocals, Tina's pure tones, Quinn, Santana and Brittany lifting up their voices. Each girl had a turn at a solo line, and to his surprise the boys supplied the backing vocals with Artie's notes holding clear distinction.

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good
Just like that, Kurt could already find himself standing by the piano in the McKinley club room, watching as his friends stood in front of him, singing to him. He could practically see them smiling up affectionately at him, their voices enveloping him with a single clear message: No matter what, after all they had been through, Kurt and the Glee club had changed each other for good, and with hands held tight, they will be together, helping each other, in one way or another. Leaving did not mean forgetting, and it did not mean real parting. They all still had each other.

And just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness For the things I've done you blame me for But then, I guess we know there's blame to share And none of it seems to matter anymore
Kurt didn't know when he started crying, but tears were flowing down his cheeks so much that he struggled to wipe them away. Assaulted by one hundred memories of each moment in Glee clubthrough the frustrating days, through the bright; from being utterly ignored in the middle of the courtyard, to the applause onstageKurt clutched onto their support at this moment.

Who can say if I've been changed for the better? I do believe I have been changed for the better And because I knew you... Because I knew you... Because I knew you... I have been changed for good...
When the song faded away, with Rachel and Mercedes holding the last notes to fade and the strains quieting, Kurt could barely speak, feeling as though his heart was liable to explode. "Uh, you still there, Kurt?" he heard Sam ask after nearly a minute of silence from his end. Kurt lifted his head, stifling a sob that he was sure they could hear (because the girls made soft exclamations of dismay), and finally managed to laugh to assuage their concerns. "You guyswhat was that? You actuallyyou actually got Mr. Schue to bypass Journey?" There was delighted laughter at the other end, sounding relieved. "We just put this together todaysort of behind Mr. Schue's back since he wants all the focus on Sectionals," Finn admitted, sounding sheepish. "Kind of a sudden thing." "Whose idea was this?" Kurt demanded, grinning from ear to ear. "Mercedes?" "Actually it was all of us," Mercedes said, laughing a bit. "We wanted to do something for you, but Rachel wanted to use Wickedbecause you'd never accept anything otherwise. We just wanted to let you know that we're all here for you, Kurt." A pause. "Oh, and don't you dare hold back on Sectionals! I don't want any of your punches pulledbring it." "Oh it's on," Kurt preened a bit, smirking. "Once I join them officially, you all can expect to be steamrollered. Please, you'll be crying all the way back to McKinley."

There was a scoff from the female soloist, but she sounded amused. There was a pause, then Puck said in a low, almost guilty tone, "Hey Kurt. If any of those boys give you problems, you tell me, all right? I don't know about bullying policies or whatever, but they don't mess with you, you got that?" "Yeah," Sam agreed, as Mike and Artie chimed in similarly. "Don't you try and back out now," Rachel declared threateningly. "Don't you dare. We're expecting to see you on the other side. And" her tone softened just slightly, "We're proud of you. I mean, we'll crush you for sure, of course, but we're proud of you." Kurt smiled. He remembered when Rachel asked him to duet with her, and felt that this was so much like that time, and it was their way of telling each other it was going to be okay. He figured that if Rachel Berry of all people would put this together, he had better not let any of them down. "I wish I could sing you guys something back," Kurt admitted. "Right now I can barely think of one." "Come on, sure you can!" exclaimed Tina. "Something! Anything!" "Like Happy Birthday" Brittany said softly. He heard her murmur to someone, possibly Santana, "We're doing this because Kurt's birthday, right?" And just received a sigh in answer. "Uh, something you really really wanted to sing before that you couldn't," Artie suggested, possibly after a sidelong glance at his girlfriend. But Kurt could only think of one. He looked around, found he was still alone, and smiled. "Fine." And he did. "and Blaine says that he would make a fine addition," said a tall, beautiful woman in a well cut black blouse contrasted by a long flowing skirt that flipped around her ankles as she walked, her footfalls echoing in the hall. She was carrying a sheaf of sheet music, and her platinum blonde hair was cut in a shapely short bob, and she wore silver-rimmed glasses. "McKinley did win Sectionals last year and went on to Regionals." "Hm" the taller man with her, wearing a trim three-piece suit and wearing glasses rimmed in black, looked down at the student file in his hands. He scratched his head for a moment, pen resting between his fingers, and said, "He certainly seems promising enoughif he's from another club, then his repertoire should be expansive, but we'll see. Do the other boys have any opinions, Sylvia?" Sylvia Medel shrugged gently. "They all seem quite curious. They don't know very much about him. I understand from Todd that he's to board in Windsor, though." "Ah" Gregory Harvey now smiled both knowingly and almost affectionately, his brown eyes warm with understanding. "Another Windsor boy. If we draft this boy, the Stuarts might start to protest favoritism." And he stopped abruptly, looking up.

"They won't if he earns it rightfully," Sylvia said sensibly, looking down at her sheet music. "I honestly have no clue as to what this boy's range might be, that tape from last year is just aboutWhat? Greg, what is it?" She stared as the older man started urgently shushing her. "Shh" Greg stood at the corner of the wall where two halls met, listening intently. The hall where they stood was where the Warblers' Hall was and for a moment, Sylvia thought that someone was playing music inside. But as she listened, she realized that the song she was hearing was pouring out from the adjoining hall where the open arches were. And it was a voice the likes of which they had never heard in Dalton halls before.

It won't be easy, you'll think it strange When I try to explain how I feel That I still need your love after all that I've done...
The two music teachers looked at each other in surprise and peered into the next hall. A boy of slight build stood there, holding a phone to his ear, wet blue eyes staring into the open sunlight of the garden, and that voicethat impossible voice!was coming from him. He was singing a song from Evita into the phone.

I had to let it happen, I had to change Couldn't stay all my life down at heel Looking out of the window, staying out of the sun
Sylvia stood staring, fascinated, just vaguely wondering if it was one of those apparitions that Dwight Houston kept going on about. Greg looked down at the student file in his hands, then back up at the boy. Immediately, he began to smile and he stepped out into the hall. "Are you Kurt Hummel?" Kurt nearly jumped a foot into the air, abruptly stopping mid-line, turning to deep brown voice that suddenly called him by name. A male teacher stood there, smiling kindly in an unimposing way. "Kurt?" asked Mercedes over the phone, worried. "What happened?" Flustered, Kurt stammered to the teacher, "YesI'mI'm Kurt Hummel." "Kurt, who are you talking to?" demanded Rachel's voice out of the phone. The teacher held up his hands as though to show Kurt that it was okay. His every

movement was quiet and calculated. He said clearly, for the benefit of those overhearing, "Mr. Hummel, I think that song would go quite a lot better with some musical accompaniment Won't you join me and Ms. Medel into the Hall, so she may play it on the piano for you?" He gestured to the phone. "I'm sure whoever's listening to you would enjoy it better that way." Kurt stared, stunned by this completely unexpected reaction. He looked to the phone and back to the smiling teacher. Standing a little further away was a lady in elegant dress that skirt had to be a Valentino, said the fashionable part of his brainand she was smiling as well. "Say yes, Kurt," Brittany supplied helpfully, probably without being aware of what was happening. Kurt swallowed and nodded. "S-Sure. Guysgive me a sec" "Oh man, I can't wait to see the look on his face when he sees!" exclaimed David as he and the other Warblers came running down the corridor, headed to the Hall. "That's got to be a record, even for us." "There's nothing Windsor boys can't do if it's for one of their own," grinned Wes, jogging next to him. "Well, even a one of their own to-be. But credit where credit is due" he looked to the twins. "I had no idea we even had all that stuff in Windsor. "Wasn't exactly ours" grinned Ethan. "It may have been from last year" "Or before that" Evan considered. "Or it could all be ancient," Ethan shrugged. "But they say there's charm in antiques!" "Definitely." "If Dwight hears that you both took down things from the "haunted" attic storeroom, he will maim and exorcise you two," Blaine replied, "and I don't want to imagine in what order he would do so." "Hey look." David pulled the other boys to a stop, pointing down the hall. "What's that all about? There was a small crowd of Warblers around the doorway of their Hall, not actually entering. They were all crushed to the slightly opened doors, listening intently and not making a sound. They barely noticed as the other Warblers approached. "What's going on?" Blaine asked as they arrived, and in unison, all the boys listening hissed or held out their hands to him in the universal "Shut up!" gesture, listening. "What is it?" Wes whispered, looking at them incredulously. "Shh" said Evan, looking up.

"Listen" Ethan, being rather tall, was able to peer up higher from the door.

So I chose freedom Running around, trying everything new But nothing impressed me at all I never expected it to
Music was coming from the Hall, the sound of musical accompaniment to a song that they would never have imagined being played in an all-boy's choir room, as no one would have been able to sing it. And yet as the music swelled, a voice rose from within the room, filling it with soaring notes and seeping out the door, causing them to stand transfixed.

Don't cry for me Argentina The truth is I never left you All through my wild days, my mad existence I kept my promise Don't keep your distance
"Who the hell is that?" hissed Wes, staring. "We don't know," muttered one of the other Warblers. "When we got here, Harvey and Medel were already in there with him." "That's a guy in there?" David said, aghast. "Mm" Evan, on tiptoes, agreed from where he was peering into the room. "Yeah, I can see the jacket."

They are illusions They are not the solutions they promised to be The answer was here all the time I love you and hope you love me Don't cry for me Argentina
As the music and the voice swelled further, Blaine looked up in sheer realization, eyes widening and backing from the door like he was shot. "Whoa, I thinkis that?" "Guys! Guys!" hissed Ethan, jumping up and down on his toes, wild with excitement. "It's Alice! It's Alice singing in there!"

"I thought you said it was a guy? Who the heck is Alice?" demanded another Warbler. "Nonot Alice," snapped Blaine, pushing his way through the others to get a better look. "Kurt! That's Kurt Hummel singing in there." "No way! The new kid?" the boys crowded further onto the door, their weight pushing the door open just a little bit more. Greg, from where he was standing by the side of the door from the inside, was most amusedly watching the door creak further open as more boys piled on their weight. As David's head popped into the room, he leaned down to the crowd and said calmly, "Would you boys like to come inside?" The Warblers looked up in surprise at their choir director, who was smiling broadly at them. Embarrassed, the group straightened up, brushing down their jackets and feigning composure. They carefully opened the door, coming in and jostling each other for room. From the far end of the room, Sylvia was playing the piano, barely able to stop the grin on her face as Kurt, his back turned to the boys, continued to sing. He appeared happy to receive her obvious unspoken praise, and was singing with everything he had, oblivious of the watching eyes. Lying on top of the piano was his iPhone. As the song slowly faded out, a burst of happy applause came from the iPhone. "You go, Kurt! Yeah! That's our boy!" hooting and whistles accompanied the clapping from the McKinley club. Kurt laughed in relief and pure joy, the likes of which he had not felt in a long time. It felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off his chest. He scooped up his phone and smiled to it. "thanks, guys. And don't worry. I can take it from here." A mix of happiness and confusion now came from the phone. "You were great! It was geez, you guys, Schuester's coming!crap!quick, put it away!Kurt, you were great! Puck, move come on!Hurry up!We love you, Kurt! See you at Sectionals! Bye! Bye, Kurt!" "Bye," Kurt laughed, hanging up. As he did, he heaved a great sigh of relief. And the entire Warblers' Hall erupted into applause and cheering. Kurt whirled around with wide eyes to see the Warblers grinning and clapping at him. "Yes!" David yelled, grinning. "That was great!" "I cannot believe that was you!" Wes said, clapping while shaking his head in disbelief. The twins were clapping as well, the latecomer Warblers who had only managed to catch the last of the song applauding behind them. Kurt looked at them, shocked and somehow delighted. His eyes locked on Blaine's warm ones, and he smiled as Blaine grinned at him, clapping with a knowing look, as though he knew all along that Kurt would win the Warblers over.

Over the din, Greg raised his voice to call for attention. "All right, all right now" he was grinning at his boys. "Settle down, settle down" "I must say, that was quite refreshing," said Sylvia, shaking Kurt's hand with a smile as the boys now came further into the room, taking their places on the armchairs and divans. "There haven't been a lot of countertenors in Warbler history, Mr. Hummelthe last one was from twenty years ago. I was just about to stop hoping to be able to come across one, much less one with a voice like yours." "W-wait" Kurt looked from her to Greg and back again, "Do you meanthis was my audition?" "We would gladly like to hear another one, if it wasn't yet," quipped a boy from the back, earning laughing agreement from majority of the group. "Now, I don't think there's need for that" Greg smiled over at the group as he brought Kurt, looking at the group in amazement, next to him. "Clearly you've heard Kurt's capabilities" "Boy, did we!" said another boyhoots followed, checked by the director's warning hand. Greg continued, "Settle, settle. This is serious now." But his eyes sparkled. "We have to come to a vote. All those in favor of having Kurt join us, raise a hand." A forest of handsthe twins held up both of theirswent up. Sylvia laughed. "And as decreed by the group" she looked at Kurt and smiled. "Welcome to the Warblers, Mr. Hummel." And in a single cheering wave, the boys ran from their seats and up to Kurt, giving him heavy pats and cuffs on the shoulders before draping all of their jackets on top of him, as was unofficial tradition. Kurt, laughing harder than he'd done in weeks, could barely keep standing, both at the weight of their attentions and the clothing being heaped on him. A hand clasped his, and he looked up to meet Blaine's eyes again. "Feeling better?" Blaine asked him with a smirk. Kurt grinned. "You have no idea." "It's a shame you can't sing a solo for Sectionals," said David, looking deeply disappointed as the boys trooped back to Windsor house. "But when Harvey sets down the song, it's down. It's etched in stone." "I don't mind, really," Kurt sighed, smiling as he clutched onto his bag strap. "I mean, Sectionals is in a week. It'll be a miracle if I learn how to do whatever military drill it is you do to have you all synchronizing perfectly with each other like that." "Yes, fear Harvey," Wes grinned. "He seemed nice though," Kurt said. "Sure he is," Wes agreed. "But he's led show choirs to Nationals for years straight for a

reason. Dalton booked him for us to launch us to Nationals too." "But he'll definitely be thinking about giving you some spotlight," said Blaine, nodding. "I meanwe've never had a countertenor before this. Possibilities are endless." "Sure Blaine," snickered Wes. "For you they are. If Kurt will stand out, you'll be the one who'll most likely end up singing with him." He shot him an added, and you like that idea look. Blaine shot him back an I hate you look before looking at Kurt with a grin that promised mischief. "Say Kurtyou're definitely boarding at Windsor, right?" Puzzled, Kurt nodded. "Yeah. That's what I told Howard, and I will. And besides, all of you are theresomeone needs to keep an eye on all of you." Then he sighed. "Getting my entire wardrobe to Dalton is going to be like Atlas carrying the globe. I suppose I could just take a few thingsbut I can't stand the thought of leaving dad, Carole and Finn with them. They probably don't even know which ones are meant to be dry-cleaned." Blaine looked as though he sympathized. But then he looked up and said, "Hey before you go for the day, come by Windsor for a bit. Pick out which room you want." "Now?" Kurt blinked. "No time like the present," David grinned and grabbed Kurt's hand before Blaine had the chance to. He pulled the newest Warbler towards Windsor, running, leaving a slightly scandalized Blaine to follow after them, Wes snickering as he did the same. "What's this?" David laughed as he picked up an envelope on the floor. He looked at it and tutted. "Ugh. That time of year again." He passed it to Blaine who just sighed and scratched his head. "What is?" asked Kurt. "Ahthe Fall Music Festival," Blaine explained. "School event, like a talent show. Like most school events, the houses will be sending out their best. If a day student wins it, the day students get extra holidays or stuff. If a boarder wins, him and his entire house get special privileges, like extra curfew hours and trips outside campus or whatever." "Oh" Kurt blinked, looking at the envelope. "You all don't look happy." "It's a Music Festival. All of the houses will be sending out their Warblers who stay there," David grimaced. "Add working that out to actual Warblers practice where the whole group performs for the whole schoolit's a lot of work. That's while we're expecting exams and deadlines before Christmas break." "I guess being rockstars have downsides," Kurt flashed Blaine a catty grin. It earned him a playful punch to the arm and Blaine's arm around his shoulders again as they headed to the common room. He barely had time to enjoy this as the moment they stepped in, the twins materialized in front of them, smiling their Cheshire grins once again.

"Hello, Alice!" they chirruped. "Congratulations on becoming a Warbler." "Uh, thanks?" Kurt looked at them suspiciouslyhe did not trust those smiles, and the fact that Blaine, Wes and David had the same ones. "We have something to show you," said Evan. "And we're almost absolutely positive you'll like it," said Ethan. "I'm unarmed with nerf guns, just so you know," Kurt supplied. The twins laughed. "No, no," said Evan. "Nothing like that. Come with us." "Come on," Wes clipped Kurt's elbow and followed the pair of blonds upstairs. With Blaine's reassuring squeeze on his shoulder, Kurt followed suit. The dormitories looked surprisingly empty for this time of day, Kurt wondered as he followed them up the stairs to the hallways where Blaine's room was. In fact, they went right up to the room across Blaine's and stopped at the door. "Here we are!" "I get this room?" Kurt asked, looking at them. "You put it across mine?" Blaine turned to his friends, seemingly baffled now. When they had made plans, he left them at it as he went to fetch some things neededhe did not take part in choosing the room. "Call it a bargain," David whispered to him. "We'll be eternally grateful if you stopped trying to describe how amazing his eyes are, thanks." Blaine bit back his retort and turned back to the twins who now looked at Kurt with affectionate smiles. "Welcome to Windsor." They threw open the doors. Kurt walked in and stared, gaping in shock. The old world finery of Windsor was even more amplified now by the rich antique furnishings of the room. Kurt's new room had been decked out in both old and contemporary style: the gilded frames held blown up posters of musicals and not canvas paintings, and the jet black sound system that was in the room was clearly modern, but all the furnishings were chosen in such a way that they did not disrupt the harmony of the old room. Even the carpet and the bed were made of fine materials, and Kurt had never in his life lain on sheets and pillowcases that had this kind of thread count. The cherrywood study desk was already fitted with a charming lamp, next to which were brand new glossy fashion magazines stacked nearly as tall as the lamp. The shelves held Kurt's schoolbooks. Ethan followed Kurt's gaze and said, "Sure we had to break into your in-school locker to take them, but we promise we didn't touch anything else." "You're ruining the mood," his twin admonished. He looked at Kurt. "We also didn't notice that you have a photo of Blaine and a mini-collage of "courage". Is it some kind of code,

by the way?" Kurt dropped his face into his hand, wanting the polished wood floor to open up and eat him. Blaine just smiled and said, "Come on, everyone has photos of their friends on their lockers. I have a whole bunch of them on the board next to my desk." "How come you never make mini-collages for us, Blaine?" David pretended to whine. He looked at Kurt. "Will you make one for us too, Kurt?" "That's enough from you," Blaine made a face at him before asking Kurt, "What do you think?" "You guysdid all this?" Kurt asked, looking around. "Just a little thing from us," said Wes, smiling. "Blaine said you looked as though you had trouble earlierand I guess the only way we could make you feel at home was to make you a little bit of one." Kurt looked at them, struggling with words. "II don't even know what to say." "Your wide-eyed expression of pure shock is gratitude enoughwe'll want to see it again," said Evan. Ethan pushed Blaine onto him and added, "Now be a good little Alice and play with Blaine while Evan and I destroy Wes and David in a game of Halo." Blaine and Kurt collided and turned red, glancing away from each other. The twins looked pleased and trooped out with Wes and David. "We're leaving them together?" asked David. "Sadly I don't expect anything to happen," Wes rolled his eyes. "At best they'll end up in Blaine's room watching some Disney on the widescreen before our gentleman takes "Alice" home." David rolled his eyes. But Wes grinned, "Hey on the bright sidewe won't have to hear Blaine playing Teenage Dream on infinite loop anymore."

Episode 3: Voices The fact that he could seal up his life in a few boxes was somewhat depressing. At least the boys had been there. David and Wes were looking for a reason, any reason to leave Advanced Chemistry and the twins never needed a reason, while Blaine had steadfastly insisted on being there. Finn also insisted upon helpingbewildered as he was with the troop of blazer-clad boys invading the Hudson-Hummel homebut seeing him lift and load the boxes that contained the mass of "essentials" that Kurt apparently required to live only made the transition from home to boarding school all the more awkward. But the fact that Finn gave him an encouraging smile helped. With that smile, Kurt remembered New Directions singing to him, and nodded back at his brand new stepbrother, as though assuring him he'd be all right. Finn's whisper of "Seriously, what Puck said, all right? Don't forget to let us know what you're up to over there" to him as he left just made him laugh. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you're anxious to get rid of me," Kurt had responded. "Whatno, dude, I meanwhy would we" Kurt let Finn flounder in confusion one last time before he grinned and told him he was joking, and that he'll see him on the weekends. He gave his parents a hugCarole gave him a warm, affectionate one, already looking as though she would miss him dearly and promising to pester him for fashion advice; Burt's hug was stronger, more solid, that asked if he would be fine. Kurt nodded to him and without having to say anything, Burt knew his son would be all right for the time being. Then Kurt was ready to go. Burt had carefully watched each of the boys with Kurt as they loaded things into Wes' Hummer"You're not trying to help, you're trying to show off," he'd told the twins when they suggested to take Kurt's things using their personal limoand noted how each of them behaved towards his son. His eyes lingered longer on Blaine and Kurt, which was why on the way to Westerville, Kurt received a text message from Burt: You watch yourself out theredon't let any of them do anything funny. Kurt was confused, but when Blaine saw the text over his shoulder, he understood and just smiled faintly to himself. He didn't need Burt's silent threat of deathas of yet, he had no intention of advancing on Kurt no matter how much every inch of him screamed to. He hoped he could hold out. When they had arrived back at Windsor, Kurt (who had been allowed one full day to settle into Dalton before resuming class) insisted on kicking the entire mass of boys out "You cut enough class yesterday, go back to class and stop digging through my wardrobe!" "We can't help itit's soamplified!"so he had time alone. When he placed the last Dolce into his closet, he pushed the whole mass to one side and held up his new set of uniforms. He gave the blazer a long look before sighing. His mass of designer wear would be officially consigned to obscurity until the weekends. He

thanked small merciesat least he could still accessorize as within school limitations. After the whirlwind of the past daythe classes, learning about Dalton, seeing Windsor, meeting its mildly unhinged occupants, being sung to over the phone by New Directions, auditioning for Warblers and being drafted that same day, and being given his own Windsor roomKurt had run out of emotions and reactions. He had no idea what happened, but all he remembered was that once he finally finished putting up the photos of New Directions onto his own corkboard by the desk, he flopped down onto his downy bed, sinking into the ridiculously soft comforter the twins had given him, and promptly passed out before he woke upwith the entire room black as the nightfall and freezingto a strong hand covering his mouth and hands grabbing his wrists and ankles. His sharp cry was stifled by the hands as he got dragged off the bed and into the darkness.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. And I thinkthat I'm currently being kidnapped. Yup. ...I totally didn't see that coming.
When he was unceremoniously dropped into what felt like earth and grass, the blindfold that got placed around his eyes finally got removed, and he found himself blinking and squinting as his eyes adjusted from totally darkness to the firelight. And just as he had somehow expected, a mass of boys (in interesting variations of sleep wear) were standing across him on the other side of a bonfire, grinning broadly. They all cheered when they saw his reaction. "Kurt Hummel, you have officially been a Windsor boy for twenty-four hours!" chirruped Evan far too perkily for the hour, wearing bright white pajamas. "And because you have and therefore can no longer repeal your move, we have officially decided to initiate you!" Ethan said happily, in pajamas that matched his brother's. "You know my mother keeps telling me never to sleep without changing?" David said thoughtfully as he looked at Kurt's day clothes which the shell-shocked boy was still wearing. "Says it's unsanitary." "What the hell, guys?" Kurt finally demanded, heart still thudding heavily in his chest as he stared at them, trying to catch his breath. "I thought I was going to die!" "Sorry, we're sorry" Blaine moved forward to try and calm him. Even in Kurt's frighthazed state, he wondered why in blessed's sake Blaine had to wear thata short-sleeved cotton sleeping shirt that fit him far too welland completely derail his train of thought. "It's just something we do to all the newcomers. Right, Dwight?" Blaine glanced back to the crowd.

Wes snickered, "Dwight was screaming all the way down to the grounds." The pale boy, shorter than the rest of the crowd, flipped him off with a highly-defined hand gesture before clutching back at one of the many medallions that hung from his neck. David just shook his head, "He was convinced we were going to burn him at the stake." "I don't put it past you by now," Kurt raised an eyebrow, breathing a little easier now. He realized that Blaine's hand found its way onto his. He looked to him, and Blaine smiled as he asked, "You all right?" Kurt swallowed and turned away from the firelight in Blaine's eyes and his adorably tousled hair. "Yeah. Fine. What's thisum, initiation?" The twins, while deeply, deeply wishing that these two would hurry up and get a room soon, said, "It's your welcome party!" There was a cheer from the boys as they dragged out a massive cooler and a huge sack filled with snacks from the bushes. The bonfire crackled as soda cans popped open and goodies emerged, the boys handing them out. Blaine grinned at Kurt. "We really didn't mean to frighten you." "Yes, you did," Kurt managed to smile. "All right, maybe," Blaine smirked, sitting next to him. "But for the record I was against scaring you. I wasn't sure how your nerves were doing after McKinley. But it was tradition, so" "For Dalton or just for Windsor?" "Ahjust for Windsor," Blaine admitted. "The other houses usually hold day parties." "Did they do it to you too?" "Yes, they did." Blaine paused before giving Kurt and adorable grin. "And unlike you, who relatively retained dignity, I put up a fight in my dorm room and ended up concussing David with a lacrosse stick." "I will still get you back for that," David retorted from one side of the campfire. Blaine laughed and added, "They had to turn all the lights on and hold the party in the clinic after that." "Blaine!" the twins called, gesturing wildly, calling for him to come to where they were huddled with Wes and some other boys. "Duty calls" Blaine rolled his eyes but he smiled charmingly at Kurt, effectively ruining the last of the other boy's brain cells. "Be right back." He got up and went to the others. Kurt followed him as he went and watched him laugh. Then he had the overwhelming urge to smack himself. He was being ridiculous. Clearly Blaine only actually saw him as a friend, and with his amazing record of being shot down by every seemingly perfect guy

he'd gone forFinn? Sam?he was not quite prepared to handle rejection from Blaine.

Friendship is good Kurt tried to tell himself. I mean, this is good for now. Sure, Finn isn't gay and Samwell, I'm still on the fence with him, but he is with Quinn but Blaine is amazing, and he's actually gay andwe're actually close. And we get along so well... If I ruined this now
"Hi Kurt!" He looked up as a small boy with a mass of downy strawberry-blonde curls sat down next to him, offering him a diet coke. The smaller boy looked like an older, awkward version of a cherub out of a renaissance painting. Kurt took the soda gratefully and the boy said, with a bright smile, "I'm Reed. I live a few doors down from you." "Hey," Kurt smiled, then blinked. He looked closely at Reed's attire. "are thosethe Dolce pajamas?" "Oh, you noticed?" he looked pleased. "Yeah, I really like themthey're comfortable and if I walk around in wearing these pants, no one notices. And I like your Chanel brooch." He pointed to the one on Kurt's collar. "I used to have one, a different design of course, but you know pins are dangerous and I might jab my collarbone with one, so I settled for some Harry Winston cufflinksotherwise my uniform looks a bit plain. To me, anyway. Oh, that reminds me!" He pulled out a velvet box, opened it, and took out a pina shield of royal blue crossed by a golden ray. He clipped it onto Kurt's collar. "There," he said. "It's the Windsor crest. You're one of us now. Isn't the pin nice? We had it customized at De Beers." Kurt stared with his mouth hanging open at him. Reed look abashed. "Sorry. It's a habit. I talk too much, right?" "No, I meanthank you for this andyouknow your baubles," Kurt said with a curious smile. "Oh, that comes from hanging around my mom," Reed answered. He took a sip of soda and gave a small jerk of pain. "Ow! Man, I don't believe it; I've cut my lip again." "Are you okay?" Kurt asked when he saw him bleeding. "I'm finealways happens to me," Reed answered almost casually in spite of his obvious distress. He got up. "I'll go put something on this, see you in a bit!" And he hurried off. He passed Blaine, who saw him and then looked to the other boys, saying, "All right, who gave Reed a soda can? I told you people, just give him a juice box or something where he can't hurt himself!" He sat down next to Kurt and grinned. "What's with the fish face?" "I think I found my new best friend!" Kurt grinned. "Reed?" Blaine laughed. "Yes, I saw how you dress and I knew you two might get along. Justtry to steer him away from anything sharp, pointy, or otherwise dangerous to most infants. He's" he glanced back to where Reed and winced when the short boy tripped

over a tree root and almost dived face-first, "a little danger-prone." "Yeah, is he?" "We honestly do not know which team he bats for; my radar tells me yes, but it's still a little hazy," Blaine answered, shaking his head. "And we don't ask. We think maybe he's just fashion savvy because he's Van Kamp's son and" Kurt choked on his soda ungracefully. "Hilde Van Kamp? The fashion magazine editor." "That's the one. He's the only other person on campus I've seen with a wardrobe that looks remotely like yours. It's almost appalling." He looked at Kurt's starry eyes and added with a smirk, "and now you're in love with him?" Kurt playfully shoved him with a shoulder and laughed. "Well, I'm glad someone at least shares my uniform sentiments. Why, are you worried I'll fall in love with little Reed?" "I don't know; I might get terribly jealous if you do. Will you?" Blaine asked with a playful smirk that made Kurt flush. "For the sake of all our sanities, when are they going to get a move on?" Wes grumbled as their small group watched Kurt and Blaine flirt without realizing they were being watched. "I think I'm going to hurl up my s'mores if they keep this up." "I think they're really cute," Reed, with a piece of tape on his lip, grinned. "It's too early, I think," Dwight commented, looking a tad displeased at being away from the safety of his salt circle. "Kurt just got here. Bringing whatever spirits and bad auras are tailing him from McKinley." "Have you any idea how long we suffered through Blaine's dramatics when he wasn't here?" Ethan grumbled at him. Evan sighed. "I swear, getting our little Alice here was a relief. Of course we'll still have to suffer through Blaine's daydreaming, but it's better than before" "I don't know, Blaine didn't look that happy whenever he waits for a text from Hummel before," remarked Dwight. "Like he was waiting for the worst newsseemed relieved when everything was okay. And that Hummel has a whole lot of some dark aura from back where he came from." "Oh we're seeing auras now?" Wes said sarcastically. "I'm serious! Why did he move here anyway? Do any of you know?" Silence. David looked contemplative. "Blaine didn't actually say he didn't actually tell us much in between talking about how wonderful Kurt was." He rolled his eyes. "I always thought he thought that Kurt was adorable during his failed spying and just decided toI don't know, go for him," Wes remarked. "I don't know what was happening back when Blaine kept disappearing to Lima, but I just figured he was convincing him to

switch schools so he may worship him at his leisure." "There," Dwight nodded with a maddeningly knowing look. "I knew it. I called it." "Called what?" "That Hummel's been cursed. Cursed, I'm telling you. Back in his old town, he must've infuriated some ecto-secreting nightmare and now he's brought the curse to us. And he's got likelikeBlaine under his spell." Dwight flailed from under his flimsy black robe. "Under a spell. Like in Jennifer's Body or something. That was a creepy movie, man." "WhaJennifer'sdude, you have got to lay off all that rock salt," Wes narrowed his eyes at him. "I'll agree with the spell part, I'll give you that," David smirked at the oblivious pair by the campfire. "Come on, they'll subtly flirt forever and get nowhere. Let's go annoy Blaine and break it up." The twins happily trooped after him and proceeded to throw themselves between the two and be gargantuan distractions, culminating in the twins grabbing Blaine and Kurt each and twirling them around in some crazed puppet form of a waltz that sent more than a few boys tumbling into the dead autumn leaves When the entire party eventually started pelting each other with half-toasted marshmallowsthe twins pulling out twin marshmallow guns and rapid firing every boy in their radiusthe elderly groundskeeper, Mr. Tamerlane arrived. The boys, with Kurt in tow, fled like mad back to the dorm before any of them could come within reach of his caneor worse, his eyesightand would earn them a whole new round of sanctions from House head Howard. That party had gone on late, and everyone in Windsor ended up sleeping far later than was advisable for people who had school the next day. Kurt was sure, as he fell back to sleep, that he would never get up, but he woke up the next morning to someone screaming the whole dorm down from the foyer. Someone female, who was extremely unhappy. "AND I KNOW YOU'RE IN HERE, WES! GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW! GET DOWN THIS MINUTE OR I'LL!" Blearily, he poked his head out the door to see Blaine doing the same from across the hall, eyes still heavy with sleep and looking truly annoyed. The screaming downstairs persisted, more boys down the hall started to peer out. Blaine walked down the hall, rubbing his eyes, and pounded on Wes and David's room. "David. David, damn it, open the door!" After a groan of disgust from the other side, David did open the door, and he looked unlike his usual trim self and he also looked exasperated. Blaine grumbled, "Wake Wes and tell him Tabitha's here before the rest of us hurl her out." "He's got a hangover," David muttered, gesturing tiredly to the other bed in the room.

Wes was buried under one ridiculously oversized pillow, which was so thick that it probably was why he could not hear the screaming. Grumbling was starting to come from the other boys, complaints rising. Blaine narrowed his eyes at the prostrate figure on the bed. "Right. I'll wake himyou get her to be quiet." "I thought they already broke up last week?" David complained, rubbing his face and clearly not relishing the assignment. "They did. But it seems she's only found out now." "I SWEAR YOU AND I ARE GOING TO TALK WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT! WES!" "I'll get her to be quiet," Kurt suddenly said, tightening the cord of his robe and flouncing down the halls, dark rims under his eyes. "Whoa! Whoa!" overhearing, the twins bolted down the hall and went running to stop him, barring his way and holding out their hands. "Wait! Hold it, Alicedon't be a hero! Tabitha, sheshe's crazy! Absolutely psycho!" "I have to live with you two, how crazy can she be?" Kurt snapped as he moved past them. Evan turned to his brother with wide eyes. "Ouch." "But true," Ethan admitted with a smirk. Then they realized Kurt was still headed downstairs and quickly chased after him. Dwight was hanging over the banisters that looked down to the foyer, holding a medallion up defensively to combat the wrath of the furious girl in the black leggings, ugg boots, sweater and vest downstairs. She was strikingly beautiful, with perfectly tanned skin, and floods of wavy brown hair coming out of her beanie. But she looked furious, screaming and stamping her feet. Kurt passed him as he headed down the stairsthe twins hurtling after himand Dwight followed, alarmed, hand cocked on the trigger of his holy water sprayer. He was sensing some serious dark aura coming out of Kurt right now. "WESLEY JONATHAN HUGHES, YOU COME DOWN RIGHT THIS MINUTE OR I'LL!" and she then unleashed an earsplitting scream at an impossibly shrill pitch that could have brought the entrance hall chandelier crashing down right on her head. The twins and Dwight winced at this performance, their nails scraping at the wooden banisters as the scream lasted a full ten seconds. Kurt did not bat an eye from where he stood, looking truly malevolent. Tabitha, breathing hard with her exertion, finally noticed the slim boy by the stairs and glowered. "What are you looking at?" And she turned back upstairs and screamed, "WES! DOWNSTAIRS, NOW!" "All right, that's it!" Kurt finally screamed.

Tabitha looked at him and pointed a perfectly manicured finger. "Stay out of this!" "All right, look you little spoiled last season Prada princess," Kurt strode right up to her, swatting her hand away and eyes blazing. "I have had just about e-freaking-nough of your banshee screaming this early in the morning! Were you raised in a barn? I have met troglodytes with more social capacity than you! Now you listen here" He advanced at shell-shocked Tabitha who was rendered speechless by his rage, and he jabbed a finger at her chest, "I have been hurled around, stripped of my designer clothes, stuffed into a uniform, thrown a week's worth of homework in a single day, kidnapped in the dead of night, pelted with half-roasted marshmallows, have had just three hours of sleep, and I have not even done my moisturizing regime! You will calm your iron-fried hair down, you will patiently wait for Wes to come downstairs, you will be quiet, and you will stop screaming with your nails-on-a-chalkboard voice before you break my perfect pitch hearing and that of every Warbler in this House! Do you understand?" Utter silence in the entire house. Tabitha gaped at him, mouth open with no sound coming out. The twins and Dwight, already on the landing, were paralyzed in shock. From the mezzanine, the boys of Windsor were staring in varying degrees of amazement and utter fear. Kurt, breathing hard, now turned heel and strode towards the common room, past the three boys on the landing. Dwight quickly stumbled backwards onto the twins, turning his defensive medallion against Kurt in terror. The twins scrambled after Kurt, who was holding a hand to his temple. "Are youokay?" Evan asked in a soft, frightened whisper. Kurt, who had stopped in the middle of the area, groaned silently as he leaned his head into his hand, face flushed. "I need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee, please." Ethan ran past him immediately to go get it from the kitchen. "Tabitha!" Wes gasped from the top of the stairs, running down and his robe haphazardly tied on him. He ran to the girl on the foyer who was still staring, white as a sheet, at Kurt. "Baby, what are you doing here? Geez, I told you you can't come in the dormgo, just go, okay? Come on" "Hehehe just!" Tabitha managed to say shakily, pointing at Kurt. "Yes, yes I knowand if you value your life, you will never ever do this again" said Wes in a low tone, steering her away and towards the door as David clutched onto one of the banisters, entire body shaking in repressed peals of laughter. Blaine watched the two go before cautiously going up to Kurt as Ethan gingerly handed him the coffee, making sure not to touch him as he did so. The drink might have been searing hot but Kurt took two long sips and groaned in relief. "Well that waswasuh, effective." Blaine stared. "Are you okay?" "what in the name of Marc Jacobs just happened?" Kurt murmured, disoriented, closing his eyes.

"you slew the Jabberwocky?" Evan suggested, eyes wide. "You scared Tabitha Adams out of Windsor," Blaine supplied with a faint smile. "Hopefully for good. But her on-off relationship with Wes might say otherwise. This happens about once a month." Kurt just moaned again in reply, taking another inhale of coffee and almost draining it. " I've barely been here a week and I'm already turning into one of you" he fell and slumped completely against Blaine who put his arms around him and made soothing sounds. Before he could lead Kurt to sit down, Dwight grabbed his arm and pleaded in a whisper to him, "please don't ever make him angry, Blaine. I'm scared. II don't think I can exorcise that." "Duly noted," Blaine said, trying hard not to smile as he went to go sit with Kurt on the couch. "I am so so sorry about this morning," Wes apologized repeatedly as he caught up to Kurt during lunch period. "I swear, she's not all that bad" "You are not helping your case," Blaine remarked, cocking an eyebrow at him. "Fine, she can be a little demented, but she's still" "It's fine, Wes," Kurt murmured, waving it away and trying to concentrate on his notes for Theoretical Physics. "I can barely even remember what I said or didmy brain sort of shut off on me and then went on autopilot. I guess I'm sorry for yelling at youruhwhat is she now?" "Still my ex," Wes said with a deep sigh. "On the upside, you reading her the riot act made our talk outside a whole lot less ugly than it might have been." "Cheer up, buddy," David put an arm around his shoulders and grinned. "Your ex was the original pain in the ass anyway. You'll live. And world war three doesn't have to happen as long as Tabitha stays far away from Kurt." He laughed. "Dwight said that if Kurt had died of a heart attack with all that rage right then, Windsor would totally become the next house on The Grudge." Kurt groaned, embarrassed. "I don't want to talk about thisI don't know what came over me." "Kind of impressive, actually," Blaine smiled at him playfully. "I didn't know you could be that forceful. And I'll remember to supply you with coffee immediately on your bad days." Kurt flushed and just ducked back down on his notes, trying to memorize the formulae and forcing himself to stop enjoying Blaine's arm brushing against his. "Hey Kurt!" called some of the students as they passed by. "Congratulations on making it into the Warblers!"

Surprised and pleased, Kurt smiled as he received their greetings, handshakes, highfives and pats on the shoulder. It was only now that he realized what Blaine meant about the Warblers being rockstarseveryone in the hall seemed to know who he was. It was rather surprising. Blaine watched Kurt marveling at all the attention and smiled to himself. The school seemed to be warming up to him well enough. Students would openly stop and chat with Kurt in the halls, ask him questions about school and Warblers, or even just to say hi. He could tell Kurt wasn't used to this kind of attention, but it seemed to make his transition easier. "That reminds me," Kurt said, looking up. "I'm supposed to get my own copy of our set list for Sectionals and the sheet music for the other songs you guys are working on." "Medel said she'll leave your folio in the Hall," Blaine answered. He looked around and saw that they were passing by the corridor leading to the Hall. "Want to go grab it before going to the cafeteria?" "You guys go ahead, I'll catch up," Kurt replied, hurrying down the corridor, elated. Wes laughed as he watched him go. "He's enthusiastic, I'll give him that." Kurt hurried to the Warblers' Hall and quietly opened the door. Somewhat familiar music greeted him as he entered, coming from the piano. There was a handsome boy sitting at the piano, fingers moving smoothly and easily over the keys, playing a melodious harmony. With a captivating color in his voice, he was vocalizing along with it casually. "I realizeit was only just a dreamoh" Kurt stared in spite of himself. The long-legged Adonis on the piano bench was playing on, seemingly not to notice him. "I open my eyesit was only just a dream" And as he turned his head, he saw Kurt. Paralyzed by the pale green eyes that now looked at him in surprise, Kurt stammered with an awkward gesture, "Isorry, I didn't mean to run in." But the boy just smiled and gestured him in. "It's fine. I was just trying it out anyway." It was Kurt's turn to smile, relaxing. He walked up to him, dropping his bag down on one of the chairs as he did. "Are you a Warbler too?" "That I am," he answered, looking up as Kurt stepped into the light of the windows. He gazed at him with an appreciative eye and a smile. "And you are, of course, our new countertenor." His smile widened as he extended a hand. "I'm Logan Wright." "Kurt," Kurt breathed as he shook hands with him. Logan was unsettlingly good looking. His fine blond hair was styled back and his eyes were intensely piercing as they seemed to appraise him. "Kurt Hummel."

"I know." Logan laughed. "I saw you and heard you sing yesterday. There was no way Harvey wouldn't adopt you. You're something else." It was one thing to find himself in a school where everyone was friendly and liked him, but Kurt had never experienced being with a boy who openly gazed admiringly him without even trying to hide it. He felt himself color up in spite of himself, feeling awkward. "Windsor?" Logan asked, gesturing to the pin on Kurt's lapel. "Yeah." Kurt looked and saw that Logan had a pin toobut it was a red shield with two crossed white rays. Logan saw him looking at it and grinned. "Stuart," he explained. "Ah," Kurt nodded with a smile. "What brought you here?" "Ms. Medel said that my folio" he stopped as Logan immediately held out a black and blue music folio with another devastating smile. It all started to make Kurt feel a little uncomfortable. He took it from him. "Thanks" "Saw it on the piano when I sat here." Kurt looked at him curiously. "You just come in here and play?" "Like I saidI was trying out a song, maybe for the Fall Music Festival," Logan's hands ghosted over the keys again, playing that same harmony. He trailed it softly with his own voice moving up the scales. He really had a voice, Kurt had to give him that. "You're going to sing Just a Dream?" Now Logan looked immensely pleased. "The Sam Tsui version? Yes. Didn't expect you to know that, though." "I go to Youtube too, you know," Kurt smirked. Logan smirked. "You sang and grand-slammed "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" for your audition. I wasn't expecting his music to be your style." "I like him. He's good." "Then help me out a bit?" Logan looked almost embarrassed. He held out a lyric sheet to him. "I was thinking of doing that song, but I wasn't sure how I'd sound." Kurt, surprised, looked down at the sheet now in his hand and looked back to him. "you need a duet partner for this. To sing Christina Grimmie's part." "That's why I was thinking of nixing it," Logan admitted. "Hell, I don't even know if I could sing it." He prodded a few keys. Kurt watched him and then carefully said, "Wellyou know you sounded really good. For practice." "Really." Logan looked amused. Kurt still wasn't sure if he was comfortable about the way Logan just seemed to look at him like he was trying to see through him. But the

smile was friendly. "Want to sing it with me?" He straightened up and put his hands on the keys, starting the opening melody. "Just the first part. I just need someone to harmonize with me. If I totally suck, feel free to stop me at any time and throw the sheets in my face." Kurt laughed, but stopped when he realized that he was serious. Logan played well, with barely any effort, on the piano. Kurt shifted a little. "I haven't really tried this kind of song before" "Wing it," Logan shrugged carelessly with a lazy smile. "What's wrong with doing something a little different?" It made sense, and Kurt smiled a little. The taller boy glanced at him. "You don't mind singing Christina's part?" "Not much of a choice there," Kurt made a bit of a face at him, and Logan laughed. Logan eyed him as he played, and began to sing.

I was thinkin about you, thinkin about me. Thinkin about us what we gonna be? Open my eyes
Kurt was stunned in spite of himself. Logan's vocal sounded even better when he really meant to sing and not just practice tentatively. He almost forgot his place, but joined in. "it was only just a dream." At Logan's encouraging nod, body swaying slightly to the beat, Kurt took up the line.

I travel back, down that road. Will you come back? No one knows. I realize, it was only just a dream
In spite of it not being his usual style, he found himself moving along to the music and getting into it. Logan smiled and sang againhis voice sure and seamless to the music:

I was at the top and I was like I'm in the basement. Number one spot and now you found your own replacement. I swear now that I can't take it, knowing somebody's got my baby. He'sreally good, Kurt marveled. And the song was the type of music that suited his kind of voice. Logan leaned to him as he sang, singing to him, his body grooving a little bit to the music. And now you ain't around, baby I can't think. I shoulda put it down. Shoulda got that ring.
'Cause I can still feel it in the air.

See your pretty face run my fingers through your hair. My lover, my life. My baby, my wife. You left me, I'm tied.
'Cause I know that it just ain't right Kurt rejoined him now, their voices harmonizing for the chorus.

I was thinkin about you, thinkin about me. Thinkin about us, what we gonna be? Open my eyes; it was only just a dream. So I travel back, down that road. Will you come back? No one knows. I realize, it was only just a dream
Logan let the music trail away, throwing in a couple of soft adlibs before letting silence take over. His hands came to rest on the keyboard, and he looked up at Kurt with a strange smile. It was the kind Kurt had seen once beforeon Finn when Rachel sang "The Only Exception" to him. And he didn't know what to make of it. "So much for not being your style," Logan teased. "You're not so bad at it yourself." "I still don't think it fits me all that much, butit was all right," Kurt shrugged, avoiding Logan's pale green gaze. "Oh really" Logan leaned forward a bit, amused. The door to the Hall practically slammed open. The two looked up to see five boys standing there. Wes had been the one to open that door, hand still resting on it. David stood at the other side, arms akimbo. Blaine stood in the middle of them up front, with Evan and Ethan behind him. All of the boys had some form of smile on their face, but Kurt saw something hard behind the smiles. Blaine's was almost a smirk, and a cold one. "Hello, Logan." "Hello, Blaine," Logan's smile was cool and composed. "Kurt," Blaine said with a gentler smile to the somewhat startled boy, "We better get some lunch in you before your Physics classyou'll want it." "Right," Kurt laughed, feeling rather relieved. He picked up his folio and his bag and

looked at Logan with a brief smile. "Thanks again." "Nothank you." Logan smiled kindly. "I don't think I'll use the song, but it was good. For practice." "Let's go, Kurt," David said, with an edge to his voice that Kurt had never heard before, and so slight that he thought he was imagining it. David didn't even look at him as he said this, he was looking intently at Logan. Blaine took Kurt's hand and led him out. Blaine's touch was warm and gentle as ever, and Kurt wondered if the expressions on their faces earlier were just tricks of the light. It was Wes who closed the door and as they walked down the hall, he said with too much enthusiasm, "So! Lunch?" "Yeah," Kurt nodded. He eyed his fellow Windsors. "are you guys alright?" "Absolutely," Blaine replied, smiling at him. Kurt blushed. He now understood the difference between Blaine's smile and Logan's. Logan's smile was the kind that hit you full force and looked like an airbrushed magazine ad. Blaine's smile on the other handwas just his ownand perfect. Kurt tightened his hold on his hand and smiled back. "glad you came when you did." "Sure" Blaine nodded, looking back ahead. He didn't want to tell Kurt how relieved he was to hear that. From Warblers' Hall, Logan leaned on the spot where Kurt had been resting against the piano. He was looking out the window, deep in thought. Presently, a voice sounded at the door. A boy carrying a satchel was leaning there. He was shorter than Logan, but his body looked lean and strong, like an athlete. On his lapel was a red shield crossed with white rays. "First time I've heard you sing with anyone in a long time." Logan smiled without turning. "I know I got too interested." "The Windsor guys didn't look happy," said the other boy coolly. "Especially Blaine. I thought he was going to throw a fit when I saw them listening in on you two." "Really." Logan said, looking out the window to the cloudy autumn sky that reminded him of Kurt's eye color. "that's so interesting." And Reed, who had been passing by, heard all of this, marked it, and fled down the hall.

Episode 4: Crossed-Swords For the first time since he moved into Windsor, Kurt woke one morning to his actual alarm clock and not for any other mad reasonand it felt fantastic. He yawned and shoved off the comforter and sat up in bed, blinking into the early light. Speckles of dust glimmered through the sunbeams that filtered through the windows. He sighed and rubbed his face, then got up and turned to his room properly to heave a deep, exasperated sigh. Like yesterday, his room was, once again, overrun by what must be dozens and dozens of coffee cups resting on top every surfacefrom mugs and teacups to thermos cups and Styrofoam ones. Kurt glowered at the mess of it all (which took forever to get rid of yesterday) then turned to his closed door and called, "You guys can stop doing this every morning!" There was an eruption of barely restrained chortling and snickering from the other side of the door as the mass of Windsor boys immediately fled for their lives, running to their respective rooms, feet pounding on the wood floors and slamming of doors echoing down the hall. Kurt glared at turned back to the mess. He looked to his bedside table and saw that, like yesterday, one particularly dainty latte cup was sitting there with a post-it (while all others remained unidentified).

Look at it this way: we clearly must really like you. B

Torn between wanting to laugh and wanting to strangle the sender, Kurt just smiled and scooped up the coffee cup, determined to find a lock for his doors that the twins couldn't possibly crack.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. After a few days, I did end up getting a bit more used to the strange things inside Windsor. They all mean well, but they're also clearly insane. I've also started to get used to the daily grind at Dalton. But somehow I still have this feeling that I've only scratched the surface, and that there was something more I should be aware of.
Today was Friday and everyone was looking forward to going home for the weekend except for the Warblers. With Sectionals scheduled on Tuesday, Mr. Harvey decreed that each and every Warbler was to stay in campus for rehearsal over the weekend. As much as Kurt would have wanted to return to Lima, he knew he had to stay as he only had this little time to be ready for Sectionals. And besides, Mercedes' texts told him that there was trouble in paradise (as usual) back in McKinley. At best, he should stay out of the crossfire for now.

"A whole weekend of practice," Wes groaned, leaning against the wall as he, David and Blaine waited for Kurt to get out of Art History. "That should be fun." "What else are you going to do all weekend? Marathon Mythbusters for the fifteenth time?" David raised an eyebrow. "And it's not like you've got to look after Tabitha this weekend." "I miss Tabitha," Wes admitted. David stared. "WHY?" "She's never boring, at least." "Wes, you'll be stuck all weekend with us, including the twins, inside Windsor," Blaine raised an eyebrow, looking up from his Blackberry. "I would hardly think that a group of cabin-fevered Warblers will be boring all weekend." "You'll be boring," Wes protested. "You'll just be looking to flirt and rehearse" air quotation marks, "with Kurt all weekend." An Earth Sciences book hit his face in the next instant. David considered. "May have a point there." "I hate you both." "You might want to think about doing something," Wes reminded him. "I can pretty much see a bright red laser dot on Kurt coming from Logan's sniper rifle. I mean did you see the way Logan was looking at him yesterday? He looked like he wanted to grab him or something." "Don't remind me," Blaine said, expression changing for only a brief instant. "I've already planned on doing something." David blinked in surprise. "So you do have plans to flirt with Kurt? Seduce? Throw him onto your bed and perform loudly to the point that it will have the entire dorm evacuated within fourteen seconds?" "Why are we evacuating the dorm?" asked Kurt as he now came out of the classroom. Blaine, deep scarlet, jumped up and subtly proceeded to crush David's foot with his heel as he did so. "Nothing. Well, I just thought that since you wouldn't want to be stuck in there with the twins while they have cabin fever, you can watch the fencing meet later after class." "Damn it, BlaineI think you just hacked off my big toe!" David howled, hopping on one foot. "He needs his toes to dance for Sectionals, Blaine" Wes warned. Kurt looked in confusion at the two and then back to Blaine who giving them a "would you be quiet" look and leading Kurt away. "What is wrong with his foot and what fencing

meet?" Kurt asked him. "We're playing host to a fencing meet with St. Patrick's Academy later today," Blaine answered. "It's the only thing happening in school other than Warbler practice. And there's nothing wrong with David's foot, he's overreacting." "Overreacting?" David demanded, aghast, having somehow taken off his shoes and sock as they stopped in the hall. "The nail's turning black and gross!" Kurt found it all highly entertaining, especially since it was David, who was usually a little primmer in appearance, and had to stifle a burp of laughter. David just made a face at him and Blaine and sat down on a nearby cushioned bench, putting his sock and shoe back on as he mumbled about "repressed hormones" or something like it. Kurt glanced away for a moment, trying to stop shaking with laughter, and thought he spotted a familiar face at the other end of the corridor. He was rightalong with a small band of Stuarts, Logan was walking into another corridor and met his eyes just for a brief moment. The taller boy smiled briefly before he disappeared. Turning back to the other three, he tried to stop his pounding chest, swallowing hard. He didn't know if it was just his imagination all over again, but he felt as though he had been seeing an awful lot of Logan in the halls in the past few days. Or maybe he had simply always been around, he only noticed now as he'd actually met him. It was starting to get somewhat unnerving. The other three didn't notice a thing. Wes rolled his eyes and looked to Kurt. "Look, whatevergo to the meet and cheer for Blaine, Kurt, that's what he's asking you." Now Kurt stared in surprise. "You fence?" "A little," Blaine coughed. "You don't have to cheer. I just thought you might want to go if you've nothing else to do before Warblers' practice." "Of course I'll go," Kurt grinned, in spite of the fact that he about a million miles of homework to get to. "I want to see you break the stereotype to little pieces. And besides, I heard that school sports meets allow students to come in casual clothing." He of course did not add that he wanted to see Blaine in one of those fencing suits. "Great," Blaine smiled. "Looking forward to it." Wes and David looked at each other with knowing expressions, smirking. It wasn't often that the twins separated from their usual compatriots, but when they did it was usually for a good reason. Sitting in the cafeteria, they both looked at Reed, concerned. "Say that again?" Ethan said, tilting his head. "I don't know, it justit didn't sound really nice," Reed said uncomfortably, holding a hot cup of chai in his hands. "I'm probably overthinking. But you know as well as I do that Loganhe's not that much of a team player. And he gets his way."

"Of course we know," Evan muttered. "They didn't actually say anything about Kurt? Logan and Derek?" Ethan prompted. "Justthat Derek said he hadn't heard Logan sing with anyonesuppose he meant just one personin a long time. And that Logan said he was "too interested"." Reed looked up and flailed somewhat. "I just thought the way they said it was worrisome." The twins looked at each other, then back to Reed. "Anything else?" "Not really," sighed Reed. "I'm just really worried." He paused and added, "I mean, Blaine really likes Kurt, right? And Loganhe I just thought that he might be trying to ruin that." He fidgeted. "But I'm not sure. Don't quote me. Whatever." "We did see Logan watching Kurt and Blaine during Warblers' meetings" Evan murmured, but Ethan shook his head and continued for him, "but it might be that he just really does like our little Alice, and nothing personal about Blaine at all." "Pfft. Right. Sure." "But I wouldn't want to try and figure out what goes on in his head." "Of course you don't." "Who would?" "Must be like walking into an HP Lovecraft novel." Reed flailed. "Guys!" The twins looked at him. Reed hesitated for one moment, and then blurted out, "There's something else." They looked at him expectantly. Reed ducked his head and whispered, "Dereksaid that he saw howupset you guys looked when you saw them in the room together. And Logansaid that was interesting." The twins slowly leaned back. "Well" "That's" "rather different." A pair of odd twin smiles appeared. Reed looked up quickly. "Please don't tell Blaine, Wes and David. I saw the looks on your faces when they came out of the room with you two and Kurt. We can't have problems now, I mean, we're almost to Sectionals and we need everybodyand everybody includes Logan and Derek. I told you, I'm just telling you what I heard, I don't know anything. I just thought it was something to be cautious about!" "You know the problem with nice people is that you can't tell whether one of them has a temper or not" Evan began.

"and I'm not sure where to classify Blaine in that," Ethan nodded. "They'll be fencing on the team together later, though," Reed said thoughtfully. "Perfect." The twins now smiled at Reed. "Keep Alice busy, little Dormousekeep him away from our dear Rabbit and that tart-stealer until the meet. We'll be doing a little field research in the meantime."

All right, universe, you can take it back now, Kurt thought inwardly as he returned, alone, to Windsor carrying a bulging satchel full of homework. Challenging is great, but not this challenging! There were too many things now to worry about, homework being a major one. If he didn't keep up his academics, it would be doing disservice to the fact that his parents did sacrifice their entire honeymoon just to send him here.
He was just about to start on his arts assignment when the knock came. He got up, opened the door and saw Reed standing there with a nice hopeful smile. "Hi, AliceI mean Kurt." He laughed. "You've been hanging out with the twins, I'm sure," Kurt smiled. "Come in." Reed came in, holding a box in his hands, looking around. "Your room's a normal one Mine is the only odd one, I suppose. All that padding, and I can't have a roommate." He laughed embarrassedly. "And Dwight's room too. A whole lot of creepy things. I don't know how his roommate manages it." "I kind of like your room," Kurt remarked, smiling as he remembered the white softness of everything in Reed's room. "It's incredibly plush. And heaven forbid anyone spill anything into it. Getting stains out of that gorgeous sofa must be a pain." "Speaking of spills, all the coffee is still here?" Reed chortled as he saw the cups everywherea few having been emptied. Kurt rolled his eyes. "It was one outburst, it's not going to happen again." "And we're just making sure of that!" Reed exclaimed with a grin. He laughed and thrust the box to Kurt's hands. "Here. A welcome present from me." "Oh" Kurt looked stunned. "You didn't have to" But Reed, after checking the sofa carefully for foreign things, plopped down into it and gestured for him to open it. Kurt undid the ribbon, and it revealed the maker's imprint on the box. His eyes widened to their full limit and he tore the box lid off to lift out a soft Herms stole in printed cashmere. "Oh" he stared, at a loss for words. "Do you like it?" Reed said, a bit worried. "Are you insanethis is amazing!" Kurt hugged the stole and then hugged Reed for good measure. Owing to the financial situation back in Lima, he had never actually been gifted anything quite so luxurious. "Thank you, thank you!" Reed burst out laughing and hugged back. "Don't be ridiculousI'm relieved you like it.

You realize you're the first person other than Blaine to have that kind of reaction out of everyone I've given welcome gifts to?" He looked at Kurt seriously. "When Dwight came here, I gave him a Versace belt. He's currently using its notches as places to hang mini glow-in-the-dark skeletons over his bed." Kurt burst out laughing in amazement and horror. Reed smiled. "So you're watching Blaine today, right?" His smile broadened as he observed Kurt's instant slight reddening. "Have you figured out what to wear yet?" Kurt, busy trying on the stole, gestured to his closet door where an outfit was hanging. Reed considered it with an expert's gaze. "hmmit's nice" "But?" Kurt raised an eyebrow. "The pants are good but the top You could do much better. Especially since it's for Blaine?" Reed grinned. Before a deep scarlet Kurt could even protest, Reed was running to his closet and started looking through it. He tutted soundly, and Kurt protested, "It's all I could bring from my stuff at home!" "An impressive collection, but it really won't do!" Reed struggled in mini-panic for a moment after getting snagged on a dry-cleaning bag, but popped out safely with tousled curls and plastic shreds in his hair before Kurt could help him. He was grinning. "Mom sends me things every week. Would you object to rooting through my closet?" Kurt's astonished expression was all he needed. "Where's Blaine?" Wes muttered sideways to David, who was working on a project proposal in the common room. Without looking up, David answered, "Already off to the gymnasium. Why?" Wes' expression was dark, watching blazer-wearing boys with red shields approaching from the outside. "We're being invaded by Stuarts." "Whoa!" David threw off his book and leapt up, joining Wes in running to the foyer. From the upper banisters, Dwight looked down, yelling, "I sense evil!" "You sure do," David muttered. "Where are the twins and their paintball guns when you need them?" He arrived at the door and opened it just as the three Stuart boys were beginning to knock. David frowned. "Hello, Derek." "Hello, David," smiled the tall boy, the athlete from the Warblers' Hall. "We were wondering where Hummel was." Wes stepped up next to David. "Upstairs, in his room. Why?" "Logan wanted us to give him this," he held out a plain brown envelope. "What's in this that you need a colour guard with you?" asked Wes, taking it gingerly. "Anthrax? To ensure the complete knockout of our entire in-house Warbler lineup? You already did get everyone when you put laxatives in our drinks before we could perform A Very Potter Musical and steamroller you last year, but with Kurt here"

Derek's smirk hardened. "No, actually, it's chunk of C4 to get back at you people for replacing our centennial sculpture's head with the head of the Pillsbury Dough Boy." He snorted. "No, I'm afraid it's a present. Why Logan would have any more interest in someone from Windsor, though" "You jealous, Derek?" Wes smiled now. "No, honest question. Worried about competition after having Logan all to yourself since he chased away his last Windsor conquest? Thanks for breaking his heart, by the waywe were so happy when second lead soloist moved away" "Wow, you really think you're funny" "Whoah!" Dwight ran in between the two boys when Derek took a step forward. "Now, now. Everyone keep calm and I won't have to spray you." He looked back and forth between them. "Past is past, what's done is done. And nothing was ever proved. As far as we're concerned, we're all innocent. Let's not throw accusations all over again. Nothing's happened this school year, right? It's a giant clean slate. We're still all good?" "Nothing's happenedyet." Wes said with a hard smile. "I'm sure if anything does, it's from you pranksters," Derek remarked. "Seriously? A bonfire in the middle of the night for the newbie, with all the dry leaves everywhere? His voice is fantastic, but I don't think it's worth setting fire to campus for. This is not an episode of Jackass." "Why can't you all get along outside of Warblers' Hall the way you do inside?" Dwight practically whined. "Derek's not even a Warbler, Dwight," Wes snapped. "Whatever," the cloaked boy snapped back. "Can we not do this? I'd like to pass midterms with a clean student record." "You may leave now," David declared with a cold polite smile. "We'll give Logan's regards to Kurt." "Why thank you, David." Derek returned the smile and left. Wes slammed the door shut and all three Windsor boys leaned back on the door, sliding down in relief. "Could you guys maybe not start anything while Blaine and Charlie aren't here?" Dwight begged, clutching his chest. "Like Charlie would've stopped us," snorted Wes. "He might," David reminded him. "He did say he'd had enough of thisfight or whatever it is we've got against Stuart. He doesn't want any of us suspended and tarnish our immaculate records while he's away." "David, it's being going on for twenty-five freaking years; we don't even know who started it! I bet not even our dads know. I don't think it's going to stop just because Charles Amos, our poor injured House prefect, says so."

"It might if our Acting House Prefect says so." Wes snorted. "Like ol' lovestruck Blaine wouldn't get pissed off if he finds out Logan's going for Kurt. He saw him first." "Wait a minutethey're after Hummel now?" Dwight demanded. "What did he do to them?" "Apparently? Catch Logan's attention." David stood, holding the envelope. "For either being his type or too good at singing, or bothI don't know, whatever it is, I don't trust him." Wes brushed off his pants as he stood and gestured to the envelope. "Are you going to look in it?" "S'not mine to look into," David sighed. "As long as it doesn't feel like there are wires in it, I hear no ticking and it doesn't leak gas, I think it's safe to give it to him." Wes followed David up the stairs and Dwight tailed, grumbling something about being cursed again. "All right boys," said the coach as the fencers gathered around him. The crowd murmur was echoing to the roof of the gymnasium. "You've all taken these guys before and they can barely keep up with your footwork. Bring it home for the third year in a row, all right? I want the final to be two Dalton fencers, you got that?" "Yes sir," the boys chorused, nodding and the coach ushered them on out into the open area. There was an explosion of cheering from the supporters of both Dalton and St. Patrick's in attendance, majority of which were Dalton boys, as it was their home turf. They were waving flags with the Dalton crest on them as their fencers entered the arena with its mass of mats and towering scoring columns. "Just in time!" Reed breathed as he and Kurt arrived into the gymnasium with the rest of the Windsor boys. David couldn't take his eyes off of Kurt's crazy outfit and he was sure that it would drive Blaine to distraction. Kurt was wearing tight black pants and some highly expensive-looking boots with low heels. The sleek silvery-gray belted turtleneck that he was wearing was hugging him distractingly well-placed locations, and his black coat had to have been something from Reed's reserves. The shade of the turtleneck amplified his eye color. The twins smirked at each other at the outfit and said, "And in threetwoone" "Kurt!" Blaine was running towards them as they stood behind the barricade, smiling. He was wearing his white fencing suit that had the Windsor crest on one shoulder, and the Dalton crest on the other. "Like clockwork," Evan sighed, pleased at predictability.

"Like a moth to a flame," Ethan agreed. "Hello to you too, Blaine," David gave a sickly sweet smile to him when he got to the group. "Don't mind us or anything. We're just your best friends. Willing to throw ourselves in harm's way for you" "Willing to listen to Teenage Dream on loop for you" added Wes. "Willing to sacrifice sanity for you" "Willing to give you our share of Medel's post-performance brownies?" "Hell no, I'm not giving him my share of those brownies!" "Hello, Wes, hello David," Blaine said in monotone, humoring them with a grimace. It seemed to satisfy them. He looked at Kurt, who was smiling a little. "Hey." "Hi," Kurt breathed, smile getting a bit bigger. "Good luck. Rooting for you." "So you'll be really mad if I lose, right?" Blaine grinned. He stared at Kurt's outfit as though he just noticed it and was already sure that Kurt must've broken the necks of the Dalton boys, who must have never seen anyone arrive in that level of dress. The most they had given themselves to were waistcoats and tails. "Wow, you look Well you're out of the uniform." He laughed. "You got all dressed up for this." "It was my idea," Reed said, grinning. "He looks really good in that. I was thinking of giving it to him. Too big for me anyway." Kurt turned to Reed with huge "what are you doing?" eyes before looking back to Blaine. "Just go win it, I'll cheer for you guys. By cheering I mean like just waving this little flag, not cheering cheeringlike with the cartwheels and basket tosses and" he trailed away looking awkward. Blaine decided to pry into that little tidbit a little bit more later on. "So does that mean you're cheering for me too?" All the Windsor boys froze as Logan walked up to them. Kurt met the full force of Logan's pale green eyes and didn't waver. "Hey, Logan. I didn't know you were on the team too." "Did you get the present I sent you?" Logan asked coolly, ignoring the stare that Blaine was giving him. At the inquiry, Wes and David pushed their way to the front, the twins pulling Kurt a little back to make a somewhat protective cocoon. "Yes, we gave it to him," David said with another polite smile that somehow looked utterly forced. "But you should send the next one yourself, because your fellow Stuarts are a real pain in the ass." Instead of getting angry, Logan just laughed. "I apologize about Derek, then. You know how testy he gets."

Blaine tore his eyes away from Logan and looked at Kurt and found their eyes meeting. Without prompting of any kind, Kurt's hand closed over his from on top of the barricade he was just looking at him. Blaine was rather surprised but he smiled. Kurt just smiled backand it was a conversation in itself. "Good luck. I mean it." "Thank you." Logan, who did not miss the action, smiled at Kurt, who now looked at him and also nodded. "Yes, I got your present, that original vinyl record of Broadway music. Thank you you really didn't have to." "Just thought it suited you," Logan shrugged. "Good luck. Hope you guys win." Kurt gave him a quick somewhat awkward wave. Logan nodded and gave Blaine another glancewhich was returned steadilybefore he left to join the others onto the benches. Looking utterly triumphant, Wes now swept between the two and lifted Kurt's hand from Blaine's. "Now get lost!" Wes told the fencer kindly. "Go fence and win, please." Blaine made a face at him but nodded to his friends, who waved their flags in reply as he ran back to the rest of the team. The meet went down to twoboth Dalton boys as the coach wanted. But every Dalton student was hanging on the edge of their seats, blue Windsor flags and red Stuart flags flailing, as Blaine and Logan walked to the Dalton bench and began to put on their gear. "I've never ever seen him fence like this before," said Ethan, rather amazed as Evan clapped wildly. "Are you our new good luck charm, Alice?" "Pleasethat's all him," said Kurt, who can't help but feel a swell of pride. "He's just that good." "Get him, Blaine!" Wes hooted, thumping his flaglet against the barricade. "Man, Logan has yet to lose, though," David admitted, looking at the scores. "If he beats Blaine, he'll be on an all-kill for the second year in a row." "Then I hope to old Herman Dalton that Blaine kicks his ass," Wes replied. "Wes, come on," Kurt looked at him disapprovingly. "He's from Dalton and he's also a Warbler. Why are you all so on his case?" "We'll tell you later," Reed whispered. And more loudly, "For now, cheer for who you want to win!" Kurt turned to the floor, where the two were now headed towards the central mat, the Dalton boys cheering and their flags fluttering like flocks of red and blue birds.

"Want to tell me what all that was about with Kurt, Stuart Prefect?" Blaine muttered from alongside Logan. "I'm not sure now's a good time to discuss this, Acting Windsor Prefect," replied Logan, and Blaine could hear the smile on his face. "Tell you whatyou beat me and I'll tell you." "Are we going to do this again, Logan?" Blaine asked coldly as he stopped at his en garde line. "Only if you want to, Blaine," Logan answered casually, going to the other end. "You did lose last year." Blaine gripped his sabre tight. Don't let him get to your head, don't let him get to your head. That's what he did last year. The crowd cheered and started to fall silent as the umpires now signaled preparation. There was a salute with respect measured to the most exact levels. "En garde!" The marks were on, sabres were raised, the two combatants tense. "Prt!" The Dalton boys held bated breath as Windsor and Stuart came down to a final five-point match. "Allez!" As soon as the signal went off, the metal clangs of the sabres filled the air. Between the two of them, Logan was the stronger one, but Blaine was faster. Though he could outstep Logan, the taller boy began bearing down on him. Reed was biting his nails so much that they were starting to bleedKurt pulled them away from his mouth without taking his eyes off the match. "Come on Blaine" hissed David, watching their every move. There was a thwip through the air and a sudden jaband the bell went off. "Point!" A green block appeared on Logan's score column. The Stuarts exploded into cheers, red flags waving. The Windsors looked frantic, yelling for Blaine to get him back for it. Wes cursed soundly under his breath but he yelled, "Come on, Blaine! Get him!" The battle resumedand Blaine, seemingly fueled by the taken point, now started to become a little less cautious in his movements and started his attack. The Windsor boys cheered on their support, Kurt clutching onto the rail so hard he was sure that his nails were going to chip. Logan dodged the quick assaults and made to take his second pointuntil Blaine made a sudden forward maneuver with his weaponswatting the other sabre away just enough to jab forward and land a clean hit directly to the chest. "Point!" Blaine's green block lit and Windsor erupted into cheers amidst Stuart howls. "Oh man!" David slammed his fist onto the barricade in excitement. The twins were

jumping up and down like mad. Blows were exchanged again, with Logan forcing Blaine back to his en garde line. By far, the bout was the most aggressive one that either Blaine or Logan had participated in and their exertion was obvious. There were a few calls of "Halt!" as they kept maximizing their eight sabre touches. "Clock's ticking" Reed bit his nails again. At one point, Logan made a misstep and Blaine saw ithe dived forward and struck the taller boy in the shoulder. When his score block lit, Windsor went crazy. "I think I'm going to have a heart attack," Kurt muttered. "I haven't felt this scared since being a kicker." The twins gave him an odd look, shrugged, then resumed cheering Blaine on. Logan looked incredibly tense, and it had to be with rage. That was all his body language was saying. He had won his previous bouts cleanly, receiving only one hit at a time. Blaine had scored two. It was his turn to return the favor. The clock continued to tick. Before the boys even knew what was happening, there was the smack of the sabresBlaine's nearly went flying out of his handand Logan struck him full on the right side of the chest. The green block lit and Stuart erupted into cheers. Panting, both combatants were standing apart again. "Last one, Blaine" Logan whispered, not caring if Blaine could hear it or not. "It's on, Logan," Blaine muttered as he flexed his wrist. Cheering reached a fever pitch and Kurt, leaning out, saw that if they didn't end it soon, it would go into a draw. And those two looked as though they would rather receive injury. "Last one, Blaine, last one!" the twins called, clapping hard. Stuart's cheer block was chanting in unison, overpowering the scattered Windsor cheers. Kurt felt a bit disoriented, but turned back to the pair. The sabres went up again carefully, perfectly still. "Allez!" One blowtwothreefour Logan was forcing Blaine back again, moving faster now. Blaine was pushing back, forcing them to the center again. Reed ducked under the barricade, not prepared to see this. In spite of all bounds of propriety, the Dalton gymnasium was going to blow with all the cheering. The clock continued to tick as the two stopped for an instantand then resumed with great speed. Fivesix "Come on, Blaine!" Kurt yelled from the stands, his voice drowned down by the crowd, but he didn't carehe couldn't watch him lose. Blaine's focus made a single flicker. And Logan dived for the kill.

The hall screamed. Blaine saw the sabre coming at him and in a sheer moment of pure divine intervention, made the one half inch back that made the miss. He moved without thinking the next instant. The bell sounded. Windsor exploded, pouring out of the barricades in a single mass, followed by Hanover boys and day students. In a single body, the victorious Windsors launched themselves onto Blaine, knocking him clear onto the floor pinned mainly by Wes and David. Kurt stood to the side, not willing to take part of the hysteria, with Reed next to him. Reed was elated, pumping a fist into the air in delight. Kurt was smiling broadly, clapping hard as he watched his friends struggle to help Blaine up from the ground. Next to Kurt, Logan materialized, laughing softly and shaking his head. His hair was damp with sweat. He held out a hand to Kurt. "Congratulations on the win." Puzzled, Kurt nodded and gave him his handwhich Logan squeezed for a moment and held onto for a full second longer than protocol allowedbefore he walked to the rather disappointed Stuarts. Kurt turned back to the others and saw Blaine standing free of the crowd going crazy in the middle of the fencing area. He had just been given his medal. Blaine laughed and walked to him, and he gave him a tight hug. "Congratulations," Kurt grinned, patting his shoulder before releasing him. "That was quite a match." "You nearly distracted me back there," Blaine admonished with a huge grin. "I heard you scream and it was so shrill I thought you were trying to hit a high F." Kurt punched him on the shoulder, mouth open in shock, unable to believe he just said that, but he was too happy to really care. "Whatever, you won. You were lucky I saw that. Logan totally had you." "Yeah, I can't even remember how I did that," Blaine agreed with a grin. "PARTY!" The twins were yelling from on top of the judges table. "PARTY AT WINDSOR, NOW!" "Party?" Kurt demanded as the Windsors pulled him and Blaine apart and started pulling them along. "Don't we have practice? Sectionals?" These went unheeded as the triumphant boys, all but carrying Blaine, made their way across campus back to their House.

Episode 5: Cookies

Friday afternoon, late. Scene: Dean of Student Affairs Elizabeth Ramsey's office. Cast: Kurt, Blaine, Wes, David, Evan, Ethan, Dwight, Reed, House Head Howardand Dean Ramsey. Situation: The declaration of an after party at Windsor came to effect shortly after arriving. Party. Windsor. Doesn't usually end well. .
"So" When the dean finally chose to speak, the boys fidgetedBlaine leaned back on his seat with a sigh, Kurt sank his head into a handas she walked behind her desk in front of them, seeming to take this into consideration. Kurt could read teachers' vibes, but while Dean Ramsey was registering absolute calm in his sensors, something was definitely brewing there. Her things were all packed up and she looked as though she were about to leave for the weekend, so if she took her time to gather them here right before leaving, then there was definitely a blip. Finally she looked at them and sat down on her cushioned chair which barely made a sound as she did. She was a trim woman in her forties, married (the massive Tiffany on her finger was the indication), slightly on the heavy side with watery gray eyes and severely tied red hair. Kurt had only ever been in her office once beforeand it was on his first day of school, discussing his transfer, and living adjustmentsand his impression of her was that she was absolutely unremarkable. Or so it appeared. She folded her hands on the table, looking at them with an amazing poker face. "You had a party." David pursed his lips and looked to the sky in silent appeal. The boys looked awkward. The dean continued. "And it, from all student accounts, seemed to have gone "pretty awesome"." She emphasized the last two words. She pursed her lips in a tight smile. "Well, Windsor House is rather popular for that, isn't it?" Wes fought back a smile with great effort. Howard was a silent witnesshe might as well have been a Christmas Island head with a body standing like dcor on one corner of the

office. His arms were folded, watching like a vulture waiting for dead bodies. "And the party, I understandwas to celebrate Dalton's win on the fencing meet today." She smiled a bit more. "Oh, I'm sorryit would appear that it was for Windsor's win, for Dalton, today." All eyes flashed to Blaine for a moment. It was not lost on him, and he coughed slightly and straightened up a little, with the barest eyebrow raise at the insinuation. Dean Ramsey was still smiling. "Campus arrest." Gasps of horror. "For a school week." "What?" Dwight chokedDavid elbowed him sharply to shut up. "You may not go out of campus, you may not go anywhere other than school facilities, and your House." The twins rolled their eyes and looked bored. Dean Ramsey looked at them very calmly. "Any comments?" "But" Reed flustered. "Why don't we go over this list that Mr. Howard has carefully prepared?" Dean Ramsey said with the same kind smile. He slipped on her spectacles and looked down at the sheet. "You apparently managed to bring to your House, enough punch to "float a speedboat", as the quantification is." "It was not spiked," David said clearly, knowing that liquor of any kind was taboo on campus. Ramsey nodded and moved on. "There was severe celebratory littering in and on the House, which include but are not limited to, confetti, silly string, peanut butter, cake icing, feathers from your house cushions and Mr. Tamerlane's pet duck, tissue paper, glitter, paper airplanes, and what appears to be printed copies of the Stuart House class photograph with "in your face!" scrawled on them with permanent marker." Kurt groaned softly and leaned his forehead into his palm. When you hear it like that, maybe the party was not as awesome as it appeared compared to when you were participating in it. "Piatas, coconuts, sparklers, shooting roman candles (outside, at least), general revelry Also, your sound system was blasting music that was heard all the way to the other side of campus." Wes bristled. The "other side of campus" meant Stuart House, and no one doubted that, stinging after their champion's defeat, it was they who made the Ramsey call.

"I'm not even going to go into what kind of destruction of property went on within the house." "We didn't destroy anything," Blaine reported, mentally adding, That wasn't already brokenor about to be replaced. "The fact remains that this is not the way Dalton Academy students should be behaving." Ramsey studied him. "We are a formal and distinguished learning environment and students should not be having parties with a decibel level a few degrees lighter than a NASA space shuttle launch." She watched sat back on her seat, her folded hands still linked together. "And I am to understand that every Warbler in the House had conveniently forgotten that Mr. Harvey and Ms. Medel had a scheduled rehearsal at the second music hall." Kurt closed his eyes in pain. He hadn't forgottenno one had. It was that the mass of boys, wild with adrenaline, had simply chosen to "overlook" it. He had only been a Warbler and a Dalton student for a week and here he was getting the axe. "But since Mr. Harvey says that it can be glossed over for now owing to Blaine's splendid victory, it will not be counted as a strike against you." Sighs of relief and heaving gratitude towards whatever higher power gave them their choir director and Blaine's fencing skills. "Speaking of Blaine" Ramsey turned her sights on him again. "You may be only the Acting House Prefect until Charles returns, but until then I expect you to perform your duties as that prefect and make sure that this does not happen again. This should not have gotten out of hand at all. Do I make myself clear?" "Yes, Mrs. Ramsey," Blaine replied in a calm tone. Ramsey looked at Kurt and Reed, the two least likely to have been responsible for any serious damageDwight already had a history, but it was for odder, generally harmless superstitious anticsand told them, "Kurt, you have only been here less than a week. I would like to not see you again for at least a month. Or at least that is how long it apparently takes Windsor to convert someone."

I was converted since the morning after of the initiation, Kurt just gazed nonchalantly in response.
"And Reedyou know howawkwardyou are sometimes. You should not be involving yourself in this and harming yourself any more than you already do daily, as the school nurse reports." Reed stopped biting his nails. "yes, Mrs. Ramsey." "The sentence applies to all of you. Campus arrest. You may now leave." The boys stood up with very minor mumbling. "Thank you for your time, Dean Ramsey," Howard said as he ushered the boys out.

As the boys exited into the hall, Kurt noted that none of them looked particularly distressedexcept for Dwight and Reed, who were generally easily distressedas this likely happened quite often. "Well boys?" asked Howard sternly as they reached the entrance doors of the building. "Are there any further statements you would like to make?" A terse pause. "that was a great party, wasn't it?" Dwight finally said. Kurt bit his lip to stop from smiling.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. Just earlier this week, I became a Dalton student, a Windsor House boarder, and a Dalton Warbler. I discovered the people in Windsor were incredibly restless, but incredibly big-hearted as well. They've endeared themselves to me in spite of the fact that I want to strangle them sometimes. I wonder if anyone else ever got that feeling.

"Kurt? What are you doing?" asked Reed as he walked into the large sunny kitchen the next Saturday morning. He had followed the smell of something nice baking. Staring into empty space but hands still moving as he kept the wooden spoon stirring the mixture in the bowl, Kurt responded, "I tried to do homework it felt like trying to part the Red Sea. I only got through half before I felt like turning the table over And since I can't occupy myself with planning and coordinating outfits for school anymore, I decided to bake cookies." "You bake?" Reed blinked, carefully remaining on the other side of the counter and far away from all the utensils that might give him injury. He was being particularly careful today, Kurt noted, as the other boy was wearing suede gloves. "Sometimes, when I feel like it," Kurt sighed. He put down the spoon for a moment as he threw in some more ingredients. "What happened to your ceiling here, by the way?" He gestured with a spatula to the huge jagged scorch above the stove and the over. "Uma little mishap when some people tried to bake a birthday cake" Reed looked embarrassed. "Fortunately, the administration replaced the stove and the oven. If you're bored, why don't you hang upstairs in my room? We can look through some prints of the Armani show." "Tempting, but"

There was the sound of something heavy and wet falling upstairs with a flash and a deafening howl of anguish as feet started pounding down the halls, laughter ringing through the corridor. "Damn it, Evan!" yelled someonewho might have been David spluttering. There was a second splash and it was Wes who yelled incredibly colorful curse words that would make a pirate blush. The twins chorused, "Clear for this room!" before they ran off in search of more victims. Reed saw Kurt giving him a highly-expressive raised eyebrow, and Reed finally understood why it wasn't a good idea to be upstairs. "Cabin fever and the twins, huh?" "Water balloons," Kurt nodded. "They're hitting everyone in the hall. Dwight has taken to barricading his door. I don't know what he's blocked the door with, but it smells dead." Reed looked ill. "So I decided to cover up the smell with some baking," sighed Kurt. He looked and felt tired. "I don't know how you manage all this schoolwork and Warblers, Reed." "You just need to get the hang of things," Reed smiled kindly. "Don't be so hard on yourself." He looked to the side of the counter and saw a plastic bowl full of fresh chocolate-chip cookies. "Are those the finished ones?" "Yeah," Kurt nodded as he finished placing a batch onto a tray. "Ooh, chocolate chip!" "Just trying it out. It was my mom's recipe." Reed very carefully picked one up and inspected it with a grin, "You going to send some to her?" "No, she's dead." Reed turned shock white, whether it was from the news, the absolute bluntness or both. With his eyes wide, he dropped the cookie into the bowl. "OhII'm so sorry, Kurt, I didn't " "It's fine," Kurt popped up after he took the last batch out and the new one in. He gave Reed a quick smile. "It was a long time ago." He took off his mitts and motioned to the bowl as he began to clean up. "Have one." "Are you sure?" "Go on, Reed, goodnessake have one." Kurt began to wash the mixing bowl with a sigh. He was going to be stuck here all weekend with a house that was like a bomb that could go off any time. He had told Mercedes that he was being kept in school for Warblers' practice and school issues, but he didn't go into detail and worried that she might have gotten upset. Reed pulled the bowl close and took the cookie he first dropped said to Kurt, "what was

your old school like, Kurt?" Kurt froze. "why do you ask?" "Just curious," Reed said, remembering the conversation at the bonfire, biting into the cookie carefully. Kurt had so many flashbacks that he nearly overloaded. He just shook his head and smiled, scrubbing diligently. "I spent my time planning what to wear to school next and hanging out with my old Glee club. They're really great. Of course our director Mr. Schue really needed to get out of this time pocket he's init's still the 80s in thereand let loose a little, but that's how he is" He realized that Reed was quiet. He turned around and saw Reed standing there, a bite of cookie in his mouth, staring at the one in his hand. "You okay, Reed?" Kurt asked. He didn't receive a response for a moment. Finally, the smaller boy raised his eyes. "Kurthow many of these did you make?" Kurt blinked and gestured to the other countertopwhich had quite a few bowls of cookiesand then back to him and said, "Last batch is in the oven" He looked at Reed staring at him and the way Reed was gripping onto the bowl he had. "you can have that one if you want" Reed pulled the bowl close, staring at him with big eyes. "Could you excuse me for a second?" "Sure" And the boy tore out of the kitchen with the bowl, and he could hear his feet pounding up the stairs. Kurt stared, wondering what in the world just happened. He picked up a cookie and bit into it, and as he expected, everything seemed to be fine. Was Reed allergic? He glanced up to the window. Everything looked bright in spite of it being rather cold. Maybe he just had to get out of Windsor and take in some air. He went around putting the cookies into a large Tupperware container. Everything outside Windsor was caught in the transition of Fall and Winter.

Weird, Kurt frowned as he thought he saw a speck of color fluttering past some bushes in the distance.
It looked an awful lot like one of Rachel's coats. The knocking on David's door was so rapid and unceasing that he furrowed his brow and got up, hair still dripping. "If it's those two again, you better let me kill them, David!" Wes yelled from their common bathroom. "If I leave any pieces for you, you can" grumbled David as he reached the door and opened it. "What do you guys want this time?" And he found Reed standing there, holding a plastic bowl and eyes huge. "Oh. What's the matter, Reed, did they get you

too?" "Eat this." And he all but shoved a whole chocolate-chip cookie into David's mouth. "What are you?" David choked and then stopped. He chewed and then looked at Reed, staring in shock. "oh my(swallow)whoaReedwhat is this?" Reed just widened his eyes at him in an, "I know, right?" manner. David grabbed the bowl. "Give me that for a sec!" "Hey!" the smaller boy protested, chasing him into the room. "Who is it, David?" Wes came out of the bathroom in fresh clothes. David drew a cookie from the bowl and threw it to him. Wes caught it easily, looking at him as though he were crazy, said, "What the hell?" Both Reed and David gestured to him urgently to eat it. Wes, looking at them suspiciously, now glanced to the cookie and said, "you didn't make this, did you?" "Kurt did," Reed said breathlessly. "Kurt?" David turned to Reed in surprise, and the smaller boy nodded as Wes took a bite of cookie. There was a pause. "Whoa, holy," Wes choked. He stared at the other two and saw David holding the bowl. "Hey, give me that!" "No!" David ran out of the room with Reed and Wes following him. "Gold Star to Streaks, can you hear me, Streaks?" "RachelI'm right next to you." Tina made a face from where she was crouched next to her behind a large rhododendron bush. Mercedes rolled her eyes, "We're going to get into trouble for this. I don't think they allow girls in here." "You guys just made me do a basket toss over that rail fence," Santana snapped from where she crept near them. "A few inches higher, and I'd be trussed like a dead chicken. If I landed the wrong way, I would've broken my ankle andCoach Sue would've eviscerated me. You better be grateful I got you in here." Quinn just sighed deeply and shook her head. "Why are we doing this again? Schuester's not going to be happy." "We just want to make sure that Kurt's okay," Mercedes answered, shaking her head. "He sounded excited to be back home, and then out of nowhere he can't. And he wouldn't tell me why he's been campus-grounded. He says Warbler practice but there was something awkward in his voice. And he always has to get off the phone because someone's bothering him or something." Tina look confused. "But I thought this school had a zero-tolerance on bullying?"

Rachel looked suspiciously around grounds. "We won't know unless we see for ourselves." A pause. "And if by chance we happen to watch the Warblers practice" "Mr. Schue doesn't want us to do that anymore" Brittany blinked. "And we might get caught," Mercedes raised an eyebrow. "Which makes me askwhy didn't we just send the boys in? Say they're students?" "Like Finn would be able to keep up an act like thatbesides he wouldn't want to go," Rachel rolled her eyes. "And I don't think Dalton likes boys with mohawks so Puck can't either." "Mike is out with his mom to some family reunion and won't be back for another eight hours," Tina sighed. Quinn nodded slowly, "And Sam isn't around either, unfortunately. He might blend in. He did say he came from an all-boys school" "What about Artie?" Brittany asked. "Couldn't get away fast enough if he got busted," said Santana. "Whatever," Rachel waved it way, looking irritated as she crept down the bush. "This mission needs delicacy and finesse, and that's what we have." She peered over the corner and saw no one but the Dalton gardens. She frowned. "This place has a serious obsession with perennial flowers." "Actually, I think it's because the gardens are prize-winning," Kurt said loudly as he came up behind them, raising an eyebrow. The intruders all jumped and turned around. He was still wearing an apron and a Tupperware full of cookies. The girls stared at him. Kurt looked at them, eyebrow still arched. "What are you all doing here?" "Um" the girls stared at him. Finally, Kurt rolled his eyes with a sigh and smiled. He held out the Tupperware. "Cookies?" "Okaywhat the hell are in these thingsand why are they this good?" Wes asked while sitting in the common room, staring at his last cookie fragment. "I have no idea," Blaine admitted, having consumed all of his. "I didn't even know Kurt could bake." "Wow, for the first time, Windsor actually has someone with competence in the kitchen," David looked fascinated. "His Home Economics class must go by in a blur of As." The twins just nodded, eating their own cookies with glazed expressions. This was the aftermath of the cookie battle. While David, Wes and Reed were trying to take possession of the cookie bowl, Blaine had come out of his room to check if the

coast was clear of water-ballooning twins. David had taken out a fistful of cookies and then threw the bowl at him. Blaine, not nearly as frazzled by this than most people would have been, managed to get a cookie out before Wes grabbed it from him, and then Reed grabbed it back, and then the twins materialized out of nowhere (probably attracted by any confusion that they themselves were not causes of). They took the bowl and each got a piece before the nearly empty bowl ended up with Dwight. Who had still not moved from where he was eating by the bay window. "How can you not know that he makes magic chocolate chip cookies?" Wes demanded at Blaine. "I thought you would've known nearly everything about him by now since you kept going back to Lima before he got here." "I don't know everything about him," Blaine answered irritably. "I wish I did, but I'm not a stalker and I don't intend on making him tell me things." "Did you know his mom's dead?" Reed asked softly. "He said this was her recipe." Silence. "I'm eating haunted cookies?" Dwight asked in soft horror from the bay window. He ended up getting assaulted by a mass of sofa pillows from all the boys in the common room. "Blaine, why did Kurt move here?" Ethan finally asked. "Yeah, I meannothing against him or whatever, but you saw his house," Evan agreed. "He's notuhin the same tax bracket as us." "And he was in his old school's Glee club," said David, raising an eyebrow. "They were those guys on the phone during his audition. He was singing to them, Blaine. And all that stuff you said about him looking lonely and unhappy the first days. It means he misses them." "Soif he really likes themwhy would he just up and move here, costing his parents all that money?" Reed asked, brow furrowing. "I know the Warblers are amazing, but he doesn't look like the type to ditch his own team for a 'better' one." When Blaine remained silent, Reed added, "is he in some kind of trouble, Blaine?" All eyes turned to the Acting Prefect. Blaine closed his eyes and let out his breath, leaning forward from where he sat, resting his elbows on his knees. "Kurt, he" he began, and then stopped. He shook his head. "I don't know if he'd want me to tell you this." "Damn it, Blaine, just tell us," Wes snapped. "Hey look, we're his friends too. We live with the guy, we like him, he's an amazing singer, he's one of us Warblers and he's put up with our crazy for nearly a week and practically enjoys it! Far as I'm concerned, he's our new little brother. If he has problems, man, I want to know about it!"

"He moved here to get away from those problems, Wes," Blaine said, looking hard at him. "Then there should be nothing to worry about if you tell us, right?" David raised an eyebrow. The twins turned identical pairs of piercing ice blue eyes at Blaine, silently requesting the same information. Blaine looked around at the common room, saw all of them staring at him and sighed deeply. "As long as you swear this does not leave Windsor House. This common room. This is between all of us. Because more than anything, I want to protect Kurt. I can't have him hurt again. Do you understand?" The twins looked at each other out the corner of their eyes. They were pretty sure that Blaine meant that statement, and that he also wanted something a little more than that, but they decided now would not be the right time to point that out. "Now tell us." "Do you have any idea how much trouble you're going to be in?" Kurt demanded as they walked up towards Windsor, feet trampling the damp earth. "Santanaseriously? A basket toss without a catcher? You could've died." "So I told them," the brunette smirked, swallowing the last of her cookie. "Well I'm not prepared to have one of you maimed while you're in here!" Kurt stopped and turned to them. "Look girls, I really really appreciate you coming to see me, but I'm really all right here." "Then how come someone's always yelling to you when we talk on the phone?" Mercedes demanded, raising an eyebrow. "Boy, you better tell me what the heck is going on heredo I have to cut someone or something?" "I just live in a really weird house, that's all," Kurt answered, crossing his arms over his chest. "Kurt, you're baking," Mercedes said, raising an eyebrow. "You're trying to avoid something when you resort to baking." "When I try to avoid something I stand in a corner" Brittany murmured. Kurt gave her a confused look, then said, "No, I'm avoiding the Mount Everest of homework sitting on my bedroom table." Rachel put a hand on Kurt's arm. "Are you sure that there is nothing going on in here that you want to tell us about? Finn told me that you told Burt and Carole that you were really looking forward to coming back to Lima for the weekends and then right on Friday, you say you can't because of school issues. Is it really just Warblers' practice?" Kurt looked at them all for a moment. "yes." "You're lying, I can tell," Santana smirked. "Is the reason you're not coming home is

because you already found a boyfriend?" Kurt colored to his scalp as Blaine's smile flashed into his head. And then the nagging thought of Logan's advances in the back of his mind. "I do not have a boyfriend." "Wow, Kurt, I have never seen you so red before," Tina remarked, smirking. "Is it that guy Blaine, like I've always asked you?" Mercedes blinked. "Who's Blaine?" Quinn asked. "Cute gay guy he keeps hanging out with." "Oh" the girls began to grin. "Look, you guys, just stopokay?" Kurt said, flustered. "One, no, I don't have a boyfriend, it's not Blaine, two, no one is bothering me in this school, and three, I really do just live in a crazy house. Those are my school issues." "How crazy are we talking about here?" asked Rachel suspiciously, arms crossed over her chest. Santana scoffed, looking impatient and irritated. "It can't be that badare you saying you can't handle a house full of boys? I could." "Okay lookthey nearly got us all suspended, all right? Happy?" Kurt threw up his hands, pacing in surrender. "They threw a gargantuan party that went overboard and we all landed in the Dean's office and I'm officially under campus arrest for the next school week. There." He crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged with a sideways glance. "And for the record, no, there is no force on this planet that can control those nut jobs in there from what I've seen. You came all the way from Lima just to hear about me going overboard at a party, whoopee doo." He rolled his eyes. "They don't do anything to you, do they?" asked Mercedes worriedly. "Is that why you didn't say that to usor your parents?" "No," Kurt said, holding her hands and smiling a little. "I didn't tell my parents because I didn't want them to think I waswellwith the wrong crowd. We just barely escaped by the skin of our teeth this time. But the truth is, while they may be borderline delinquent, they're all really nice guys. A lot of Warblers are in there, and they're all my friendsthey seem to really like me. We look out for each other because we're Windsor boys and that's what we do. Apparently." He smiled. "And I'm kind of happy." "Windsor boys?" Tina grinned. "That's what you call yourselves?" "It's the name of the House," Kurt mumbled. "Aww" Mercedes gave him a big hug and a smile. "Our Kurt's a Windsor boy." Kurt laughed and hugged her back tightly.

"So do we get to meet these amazing guys while we're here?" Santana asked with a smirk. Quinn shot her a look and added, "Just so we know who they are." "You all turned into such weird mother hens, did you know?" Kurt remarked, rolling his eyes. But he smiled and turned back to Windsor House, gesturing for them to follow him. "Come on but keep a low profile. It'll have to be really quickwe're not allowed girls in there. There aren't a lot of people here today, so maybe it's okay." The girls giggledexcept Rachel, who just grinned and crossed her armsand trailed after him towards the large manor-like Windsor House. Mercedes made a gasp of awe when she saw it. "Whoa" "Wow, nice pile of bricks you got there!" Tina laughed. "you live in a castle?" asked Brittany, marveling. "Do you get to be the princess?" "I think that if they were given a chance, they would crown me as that," Kurt grumbled as he reached the door. He held his container of cookies under one arm and pushed open the doors. "Guys?" he called as he stepped into the foyer, girls following, "Guys, are you in here?" "Wow, this is a big dorm," Quinn laughed, noting the Windsor banner over the hall. Kurt frowned at the silence which was, in all respects, incredibly unusual at Windsor. "Hey, where are you guys?" he called. He heard the sound of people acknowledging his call and then the common room doors burst open and the boys came flooding out, running to him, all talking at the same time. "Kurt!" Wes ran up to him, a contorted expression on his face. "Kurt, what the hellwhy didn't you tell us, man?" David looked livid and concerned. "if we'd known it was that bad, we would've gone over to Lima with Blaine and" "We want you to know that we are fully prepared to sniper down each and every dumb Neanderthal in that school that has ever slushied you" the twins said fervently. "and what they said about your clothes!" Reed looked like he was almost at tears. Dwight was the only one who noticed the girls staring stunned as this crowd of varied boys surrounded a very stunned Kurt. The self-styled spiritualist cleared his throat and said, "GENTLEMEN! Ladies in the hall." Silence. The group looked up. Tina blinked at the crowd almost nonchalantly and said, " wow, Santana was so wrong, he's totally got them." "Pardon?" David stared. "They were just here to see who my new friends are," said Kurt, smiling a bit, still generally confused. "Um, guys, this is Rachel, Tina, Quinn, Santana, Brittany, and"

"Mercedes," Blaine finished, smiling as he took Mercedes' hands. "Good to see you again." "Hi, Blaine," Mercedes greeted him with a knowing grin. She looked to the other girls. "This is the guy I mentioned." The girls immediately brightened up and Kurt gave them a glare that threatened death if they decided to say anything. Kurt said to them, "Girls, this is Dwight, Reed, David, Wes, and the twins Evan and Ethan." "Wow" said the twins, looking at the girls in wide-eyed wonder like they had not seen any for years. "talking flowers." "That's so sweet" smiled Brittany while Santana gave her a confused look. Santana caught Dwight's eye, grinned and gave him a saucy wink. Eyes wide, Dwight backed up and raised his medallion defensively to Santana"Whoa!" who gave him a look that was both annoyed and downright grossed out. Rachel stepped forward to Blaine importantly and extended her hand. "I'm Rachel Berry, I'm the lead soloist from New Directions. You must be my Warbler counterpart." Blaine raised an eyebrow and shook her hand as she continued, "I'd like you to know that we didn't come here to spy on whatever you may have planned for Sectionals" "You failed the first time," Wes grinned, glancing at Kurt, who just shook his head. "and that we were only here to make sure Kurt was all right." She looked at them and said, "Well it seems like it's all under control." "I understand," Blaine nodded with a winning smile. "Don't worry, we'll take care of Kurt for you." "Good." Rachel was smiling now. Kurt stepped forward to the girls. "Well now that's done, you should all go before the House head comes by to check on us and finds you here. Then we'll really get suspended." "They can't stay?" The twins and Wes nearly whined to him. David elbowed Wes hard and muttered, "Shut up, do as he says, look at what he's got under his arm." He nodded to the large Tupperware of goodies. "The rest of the cookies" Reed breathed, eyes wide. Kurt gave them his best disbelieving "what is wrong with you people?" look but just turned back to the girls, ushering them out of Windsor's doors. "You guys have got to promise me never to do this again," said Kurt, firmly. "It's moronic and completely ridiculous. And if anything happened to any of you" "We got it, we know," Mercedes smirked. The girls went out, going down the terrace steps and walking to the direction of the gate they had unlatched. Going last, Mercedes stepped out into the terrace and gave Kurt a quick hug. "Next time, just please tell me

what is going on with you? Because I told you, we still really give a damn. We tell each other everything. And besides" She nodded back indoors where the Windsor boys were, " they look like they want you to do the same." Kurt glanced back and saw the boys staring at him looking a little concerned. He smiled a little, unsure, then looked back to his best girl friend, hugging her. "Right. I'll do that." He kissed Mercedes on the cheek goodbye and waited until they were all definitely gone in the direction of the gate. He turned back indoors and closed the doors behind him, sighing in relief as he turned around. They were still looking at him that way. Kurt's brow furrowed. "What?" "KurtI know it doesn't count for much right now, but we really, really wish you told us how you were being treated in your last school," David remarked. "If at any point we had known sooner, we would've throttled Blaine for letting it go on so long, but we also would've done something to get you the hell out of there." "You told them?" Kurt looked at Blaine, who quickly walked up to him, saying, "They wanted to know, Kurt. They really did. They just wanted to know why you came here and why you fled your last school." "And we wanted to know so that we could keep that crap from happening again," Wes said, frowning. "If we'd've known you have been advanced upon by force, we would never have let Logan near youhe's the likeliest candidate for a do over of that." "And we also would give you a little more space," said Evan. "We do get too close to you," admitted Ethan. Reed nodded. "We have to remember that you've gone through something and that we" "But that's just it, you guys," Kurt finally said, looking up at them, wondering what was wrong with them. "Don't you get it? You guys make me forget. Everything you do around me, it makes me forget all those things. I don't care if I want to strangle you afterwards, but the thing is, you guys would do a lot more help if you just keep being the way you are. I like you that way, believe it or not." He grinned. "I'm one of you now, remember?" Blaine started to laugh, shaking his head. "If you like us the way we are then yes, you definitely must be one of us." The twins now cracked huge grins. "And this sappy moment now calls for!" And they both gathered up all the other boys and sandwiched them into a very tight, uncomfortable and truly awkward hug that no one really liked but put up with for the sake of the moment. "Right" Kurt, getting crushed against Blaine, didn't seem to really mind all that much. A long pause followed. And then someone says, "Hey Kurt?"

"What?" "can I have the rest of these cookies?" The burst of fighting and squabbling afterward just made Kurt jump back in surprise, and then he decided that he didn't even want to try and make sense of the hysteria any longer. With a sigh, he tossed the whole container of cookies at thembeginning another fight of proportions that could have eclipsed Lord of the Ringsand sighed as he went up the stairs to fathom his now truly weird life. And he had the rest of his homework to do anyway.

Episode 6: Duels "Kurt." Blaine jogged his elbow with his. He was sitting next to him at central area of Kurt's room. Kurt only mumbled a faint reply of acknowledgement from where he was trying to copy down some text into his notebook. "Kurt, come on, are you still mad at me?" Blaine was starting to sound genuinely worried, prodding his arm. "You haven't spoken to me since yesterday." Kurt just tsked in annoyance as he pushed off Blaine's hand from his notes, trying to focus. "Is this because I told Wes and David and the others about what happened in Lima?" Blaine said, brow furrowed. "Look, I'm really sorry, I am. I shouldn't have told them, I know you wanted to keep it a secret. I get why you're mad, but they swore to not let it get out, and they were all just so worried about youand quite frankly, so am I. And I would rather have the rest of them looking out for you in at least that direction, than" "Blaine!" Kurt finally said, forcing himself to remain absolutely calm even when his hair was about to stand on end. He grabbed Blaine's hands tightly and gave him a very painful smile and a forced laugh. "BlaineI want you to look very carefully around my roomand then tell me why you think I'm not talking to you." Blaine stared, trying to not marvel at Kurt's soft hands, and then looked around the room. There were papers everywhere. A fresh printout was coming out of the printer on his desk. The laptop was still on and it clearly displayed a half-finished term paper. Calculus notes covered the coffee table and a huge world map was hanging over the edge of his bed. No less than four books were open on the coffee table. Kurt's lap was loaded with a heavy book and then his notebook. And nearly all of the mercifully fewer coffee cups that had raided the room that morning were now standing empty. Blaine turned back to Kurt, who was still giving him a pained smile. "Did it give you a hint yet?" Kurt asked, in a way one would say to a five-year-old. "Oh." Blaine nodded, pursing his lips together, finally understanding and feeling rather ridiculous. "Right." "Good." Kurt rolled his eyes and turned back to his notes. After a beat, he said, "To be honest I should be mad at you, and I very much want to be mad at you And because of pure distraction and interference, I should also be mad at the entire house for making all this catching up on academics even more difficultbut I cannot. as long as you really did mean well for it and don't intend on telling the world, I'm just too busy to actually have any emotion other than contempt for whoever designed this devastating curriculum." "I can help you if you want" Blaine said, smiling. "Get most of this out of the way before Warblers meeting." "Don't smile at me like that, you're not winning me over that easily either."

Blaine just smiled even more. Without warning, he gave Kurt a tight hug that lasted a several seconds in silence. He leaned down to his ear for a moment, and murmured, "I have to go do something for Harvey, but I'll tell Reed to come help you and I'll catch up. Don't stress too much." Blaine smiled as he released him, rose and left the room, leaving Kurt staring wide-eyed at his wake.

What the? he sat aghast, hands rumpling his notes. What kind of a hug was that? Friendly? Something else? And why?
After a pause he shook himself out of it, groaning as he sank his head into his hands. Blaine's behavior (and just generally Blaine himself) had to be one of the things that distracted him the most in that house. He felt fortunate that he didn't have to room with him, or his grade point average would have plunged to hell.

Concentrate, Kurtconcentrate. He's your friend. He says so. YOU say so. Just because he has the ability to unleash an Eden of butterflies in your gut by hugging you doesn't mean he should be distracting you.
The most chilling, high-pitched rendition of the Joker's laughter suddenly echoed throughout the House, causing Kurt to break out of his thoughts and, possibly, sending Dwight diving for the safety of his salt ring in terror. Snarling, Kurt threw down his schoolwork and got up, stomping to the door and opening it just in time to see the twins screeching loudly down the hall with that chilling laughter, in highly detailed Joker costumes (one was the animated, one was the Dark Knight version). Wes and David were chasing after them as Batman and Nightwing respectively, pitching cranberry-juice loaded balloons with the respective insignias scrawled on them. Kurt didn't even want to ask what was going on. Raising his voice to an angle calculated for distance, he yelled, "If you guys don't pipe down for at least the next two hours, so help me, I'm going to give all the cookies to Stuart House!" Instant silence. With a satisfied smile, Kurt slammed his door shut and returned to his school work.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. I've been boarding in Windsor House with Blaine, Wes and David. And it's been anything but uneventful. Recently we had a party that nearly got us suspended. And I also discovered that Windsor had some serious problems with Stuart, one of the other Houses. Especially Logan, who keeps sending me all these signals. I know almost nothing about him other than that he's really handsome, talented, and interested in me. My problem: Blaine is also all those things. Except that last part.

Everyone ended up in Kurt's room trying to help him get through his catch-up work. It was both welcome and unwelcome. "You're getting it all wrong!" David snapped at Wes, who was trying to make out the theorem to be applied to one of the problems in Kurt's book. Both of them were still wearing pieces of their costumes. "You're not going to get the derivative that way! Give me that." He grabbed it and scrawled something in. Reed glanced over his shoulder from where he was helping Kurt with his Arts assignment. He frowned at David. "Well that's not right eitherit's the wrong formula altogether. It's that one." He pointed to a mind-blowingly complex formula on the other page. The twins, who were looking at the massive coverage of Literature term paper that Kurt was expected to complete, looked at each other and slammed the book shut at the same time. "We give upwho's your professor here?" Kurt sighed, exasperated. "Murdoch is." There was a hiss of pain from the whole room. "Why would Murdoch give him all this?" David demanded, looking at the nearly inch-thick section of the book that Kurt was expected to look into. "He would hang a Windsor boy onto the rafters by the tie and belt him if he could," Wes snorted, erasing his previous calculation. "Why would he do that?" Kurt raised an eyebrow. "He's got a bias for Stuart, since he's the House Head," David muttered. "He's always had this chip on his shoulder for us since we accidentally set fire to the chemistry lab." He saw Kurt's narrow-eyed expression and quickly added, "It was a complete accident, that time. We were almost absolutely sure that we had nothing to do with it." The twins smiled that discomforting Cheshire smile again. "We may have measured out too much potassium nitrate for the assignment." Kurt just rolled his eyes and turned back to his Art assignment. "Well, whatever he's got for you guys, he's giving it to me now. I guess I'll just have to show him I'm not intimidated." He turned his canvas to Reed. "What do you think?" Reed grinned, observing the manner by which Kurt had water-coloured the people in his assignment. They looked like design samples. "You are going to be a great fashion designer one day, if that whole Broadway diva thing doesn't work out for you." "Coming from you, that's quite a compliment," Kurt preened, grinning at him. "No seriously, Murdoch can be intimidating," David warned, looking up from where he was editing one of Kurt's papers. "He's like a freaking male Agatha Trunchbull. I heard he once threw a boy out of the second floor window and into Tamerlane's hydrangea bushes." "He didn't do anything of the sort," Reed replied, sniffing. "At best he threatened to, and

the said boy had been disrupting his class unnecessarily by getting overly freaked out because they were being told to perform Macbeth." "who was this boy?" Kurt asked, with a sneaking suspicion. "Dwight," they all replied. "I knew it." "See?" Wes burst out. "Proves Murdoch's Anti-Windsor campaign. Right there." "All of us cause anti-Windsor campaigns," Kurt grumbled, drying his paintbrushes. "We haven't exactly had an excellent track record when it comes to behavior. Wellat least I still have some of mine. The rest of you, however" He glanced at them briefly before carefully wrapping his art assignment. "Don't worry, we'll fix that," the twins cracked evil grins at Kurt, who cringed away from them. "Give us a few more days." Kurt pushed away from them on the couch and went to sit next to Reed as though looking to stay with someone safer. "Yeah, he won't be good for you either," grinned Wes, making Reed look up. "Did Reed ever tell you about the incident with the cuckoo clock" "Wes!" Reed turned red, flailing at him. "or the time in the cafeteria with the diorama" "Shh!" "or that he hit himself in the nether regions with a cricket bat?" Everyone in the room winced and hissed at that memory, and Kurt gave Reed a disbelieving look. Reed looked terribly scarlet, huffily prodding his own art assignment with a brush. "Well I can't help it if I'm just rather clumsy." Kurt grinned at him and gave him a kind nudge, "We know that. Besides, you kind of make up for that by being so incredibly generous to me and being such a martyr to these guys." He nodded to the others. He threw a notebook at Wes's extended legs resting on the tabletop. "Feet off my coffee table, please." Wes groaned and sat up properly. "I swear, you're like Blaine when he's being such a priss" "Where is he anyway?" asked Kurt, looking around. "He said he'd be back to help me." "Well he told me to come up here and help you for a bit, but he didn't tell me when he'd be back," Reed blinked. "He said he had to see Harvey." "Probably about Sectionals," shrugged Ethan. Evan gave Kurt's head a gentle pat. "Don't you worry, little Alice. Your White Rabbit will be back soon."

Kurt swatted his hand away from his immaculate hair and said, "White Rabbit? What?" "Isn't he?" Evan grinned. "When our White Rabbit appeared to you and showed you a glimpse of Wonderland, you followed and fell all the way down here with the rest of us." Kurt rolled his eyes as the rest of them laughed, the others being used to whatever went into the twins' minds. He glanced to the clock and wondered if Blaine would be back soon. The "White Rabbit" was late for that important date for good reasons, which the rest of the merry Windsor crew found out later that afternoon in the dining hall during lunch. The Hall was quieter since it was a weekend and everyone had gone home, but it was stocked with Warblers and the few scatterings of boys who chose not to go home that weekend for whatever reason. David looked as though he wanted to just tear off his tie and toss it. Wes looked like he wanted to flip the table. The twins, sitting across them, were glaring malevolently at the gang of Stuarts on the other side of the cafeteria, and Kurt decided that he didn't ever want to be on the receiving end of those twin ice blue glares. He looked at Blaine and stated the only thing he understood: "What do you mean, duel?" "Round two with Logan, that's what," Wes grumbled. "What does that have to do with Warblers?" Kurt stared, confused. Blaine sighed and lifted his head from his hands. "Every performance, a singer who wants to take one of the spots for a soloor lead singerwill have to prepare a piece to perform in front of the rest of the group. It will be assessed by Harvey and Medel on whether it's acceptable or not. When there's more than one applicant for the lead, they will each perform first in private in front of the professors. They choose the two best. Then the two will "duel" performances, one after the other, in the Hall. Then the rest of the Warblers will have to vote." "Well if it comes down to a vote, you would win, won't you?" Kurt smiled a little uncertainly at him. "Since they like you." "It's not that easy," Blaine responded. "For one thing, I've been singing lead for a quite a few performances now. No matter how much the other Warblers like me, some of them might want to see someone else sing." "Pfft" Evan rolled his eyes. Ethan nodded sagely, "Ditto. If they wanted to replace you, someone would've dueled with you before this." "Secondly," Blaine continued, "Choosing the lead in Warblers isn't about popularity. They all really will select whoever had the most vocally superior performance. And to be quite frank, Logan is really good. Even Wes and David have voted to make him lead back then during duels." The two glared at him, as though never wishing to ever speak of such travesties outside Warblers Hall. "Then why has he never competed with you for solo?" Kurt asked.

Blaine shifted in his seat, leaning back with a sigh. "Because before I got my sets of leads, Logan had the lead for eight straight performances. ThenI guess he got bored and stopped asking for them." "The immensity of his ego is equidistant to the dimensions of Jupiter," David grumbled, once again wiping down his side of the tablehe cleaned when he was anxious. "It didn't matter to him that he was our strongest vocal in competitionif he didn't feel like it, he won't do a damn thing." "Wes and David told me to go try duel the other boys for the lead after that," continued Blaine. "I beat them and Harvey was surprised to find me sufficient. And since then I've been singing lead." Kurt looked over to the table at the other side of the hall, where Logan sat holding court with other Stuart boys. Logan glanced at him for a moment, threw him a small barely noticeable smile, and resumed talking with the other boys. Kurt turned back to the others. "I had no idea he was like that." "You can ask the other Warblers," Wes said seriously. "Logan really did just suddenly stop going for lead. And you know when we found out that he just felt like not going? Sectionals. Last year. Left us hanging. We couldn't compete, no lead soloist could replace him at the last minute because the last second soloist" "Wes," Blaine's tone had a warning in it. Kurt blinked, looking from him to Wes, not understanding. Wes' eyes flickered to him for a moment, then he just seemed to shrug and shake his head. "Whatever. Anyway, no one could replace him at the last minute. End of sectionals, end of going to Nationals. Harvey was furious. I thought he was going to expel Logan out of Warblers." "But he didn't," Kurt raised an eyebrow. "He's still one." "Yes, he is," David nodded. "Because we needed his pipes, maybe? I don't know. But he hasn't asked for a solo ever since. He didn't say anything either so we just stopped talking about itbecause we might throttle him if we brought it up again." "He's got quite a pair of balls to suddenly duel Blaine for one now at Sectionals," muttered Ethan. "Especially since after he ditched, it was Blaine who saved our asses for the very next performancethe Fall Festivalhe took over in days what was supposed to be Logan's part," nodded Evan. "And since then, our dear White Rabbit just led the charge." He grinned. Blaine squinted at him in a why-are-you-calling-me-that-again type of expression. He looked at Kurt. "Well anywaythat's the history of it Now Logan's challenged me to duel. I've a preparing for my performance with these guys, butI didn't know he was going to duel. I only found out this morning when Harvey called for us both in the Hall. It was just him and me going for the lead, so we both duel in front of the others this afternoon." Kurt considered all of this and leaned back, crossing his legs elegantly with a sigh. "I

guess it's not all sunshine and rainbows in Warbler Land, isn't it? I didn't know you guys were so competitive." "We can be, on certain things" shrugged Blaine. He glanced over a Kurt with his eyes lingering over him more than he had thought he would allow himself to. There was a crash at food areaReed had tripped, over his own feet, it would appear, and was on the ground with a whole lot of food in his clothes and on the floor, hugging his knee which must have gotten hurt. Kurt quickly got up and ran to help him. As soon as Kurt left, Wes leaned forward, eyes flashing. "Tell me that colossal asshat isn't doing this because he thinks it'll get Kurt's attention. Tell me that, Blaine, I'm begging you, because I'll have to kill him otherwise." Before Blaine could speak, David added, "We all knew you were going to be lead. We've been practicing Hey, Soul Sister like crazy all this time, and we have it down perfect when you sing the lead. And then a mere two days before performance day, Logan challenges? He can't be that crazy." "I don't know what's going on in his head," Blaine answered. But he glanced at Kurt, helping wipe Reed's clothes down. "I don't know if it's about Kurt. It wouldn't make sense to make himself the enemy." Oddly enough, the twins glanced at each other at this, a knowing look that meant volumes of information, but they remained quiet. Blaine was oblivious. He continued, "But you know the rules. Lead isn't placed down in stone until the day before performance." "Screw the rules!" Wes snapped. "We're talking about our first Sectionals in two years!" "Wes, shh!" David hissed as Kurt and Reed approached. David looked at Blaine. "Let's just kick his ass later today, all right?" "Yeah," the twins nodded, grinning at Blaine. "We've got your back." When Reed and Kurt sat down, Reed looked distressed, but not about his fairly common injury. "Blaine. I heard from one of the other Warblers that you're dueling with Logan. You ready?" "As I'll ever be," Blaine nodded, folding his hands on the table. He glanced at Kurt, who just smiled at him and said, "Go get him, then." "All right, everyone" said Sylvia the moment all the Warblers had sat back down onto their places among the couches when they finished the normal rehearsal. Everything had gone flawlessly (Reed didn't fall off the ledge a single time)which now only left the battle for the lead. They had practiced this routine so many times that everyone knew what the lead was supposed to do or sound like, but there were few who could stand in the light among their unit. Sylvia looked at everyone. She knew they knew what was coming up, because they were not talking excitedly about Sectionals or other things. She herself knew that this was

quite the critical battle, between two of the Warblers' best, who also happened to be the two most high-profile. She smiled a little and said, "Now We have two candidates to duel for the lead. As is our rules, they will each perform a song before you. After which, we would take an anonymous vote. Mr. Harvey and I will count the votes, and announce who takes the lead." The two teachers never reveal how many votes each got, mainly so there would not be any conflicts between the Warblers about who the group seemed to "favor" more. But the teachers were held in such high regard that there was no Warbler who believed they would ever rig a vote to choose someone who they wanted instead. "Our two duelers are Blaine" Sylvia gestured to Blaine, who stood amidst clapping, " and Logan." Logan rose and was also received with the same amount of applause. Sylvia pushed up her glasses and held out a velvet bag to Blaine and Logan, who came forward. The two each drew a marble out of the bag. Logan's was red. He would go first. Blaine nodded to Sylvia and Logan and returned to his seat with Kurt, Wes and David. "Let's see what he's got after all this time," David muttered. Kurt said nothing. In spite of himself, he was worried. He had sung with Logan before that time in the Hall, and there was no indication that Logan's talent had diminished in spite of his inactivity as a soloist. Blaine sat next to Kurt with no decipherable expression, watching Logan carefully as he approached the piano. As was allowed, Logan had three other boys for backup with him, two Stuart boys, and one Hanover. After a moment, Logan began to play. The melody was familiar, but mellowed out by the piano. It took the other boys a moment, but Kurtwith his ears still heavily tuned in to Will Schuester's music preferencesimmediately recognized what was happening. Logan, in a clear tone that magnetized attention, began to sing with no urgency:

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing Watch you smile while you are sleeping While you're far away and dreaming
The Warblers watched in polite silence, carefully listening. Mentally, however, the Windsor boys' reactions were varied, with only hints of the emotions on their faces: Reed: (Impressed) Wow, I didn't know you could sing Aerosmith like that. *leans forward a bit* David: (Bothered) Oh crap, I can't believe he can still actually sing like that. *splays fingers on face* Twins: (Confused) *glance at each other* He's good all right, really good butwhy Aerosmith? Was Armageddon on cable yesterday?

Blaine: (Stunned-White) He's not singing that to Kurt, is he? Kurt: (Stunned-Red) He's not singing that to me, is he? Wes: (Disturbed) *shifts in seat* Oh man, if he's singing that to Kurt, those are some truly creepy lyrics.

I could spend my life in this sweet surrender I could stay lost in this moment forever Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure
Everyone else seemed to be having no problems with this. Quite a few Warblers looked at each other with small rather impressed smiles, nodding slightly. Logan glanced briefly to them with a small smile.

Don't wanna close my eyes, I don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby and I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you the sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby and I don't want to miss a thing
Blaine sank his head into his hand for a moment, cogitating about this whole performance. The Warblers were all about turning a song into something else with their vocals, and Logan fit the bill entirely by changing the rock song to something tamer and more ballad-like. The smallest sigh of contemplation left his lips for an instant. And then he felt a warm hand close over his from under the table where they sat. Blaine froze and very slightly looked to his right. Kurt wasn't looking at him, he was steadily watching Logan without batting an eye, but it was his hand that held his. No one could seethey sat near the back and so the backs of the chairs and the other boys obscured it from sightand Kurt was simply holding his hand. A silent encouragement. Kurt glanced to him a little, and gave him a faint smile, before turning back front.

I don't wanna miss one smile, I don't wanna miss one kiss I just wanna be with you, right here with you, just like this I just want to hold you close, feel your heart so close to mine And just stay here in this moment for all the rest of time
That was it. Logan had looked directly at Kurt that time. To all the others it was in passing, but Kurt knew that glance when he saw it. Kurt lowered his eyes, heat

spreading into his face. His heart was in his throat and he wasn't sure of what to do or even feel and it was even worse now than ever. It wasn't like when Finn pointed out to him during the wedding reception and had him dance with him. This was different and somehow more intimate than screaming it down the hall. When someone sings a song like this, it meant something. Something that Kurt no matter how much he wanted it he was even in Daltonwas not prepared for. Especially with when he a certain person right next to him. Blaine squeezed his hand slightly. Kurt looked up at him. He just nodded, as though telling him to just breathe. It was going to be all right. The song was ending, and Kurt and Blaine let go of their hands at the same time. At the last chorus, the song ended. The Warblers applauded, many of them smiling at Logan. The tall boy at the piano rose and smiled slightly, looking for the whole room as though he was vindicated. His eyes located and met Kurt's. Kurt was smiling at him a little, clapping along with the rest of them. By the tint of red on his face, he knew his message had reached him. He saw Blaine standing next to him. But Blaine was just smiling with nothing behind it. There was something he had that Logan didn't. "And now," said Sylvia with a smile. "We have Blaine." Reed and Kurt nodded good luck as Blaine, the twins, Wes and David then went up to the front. There were some cheers and catcalls from the Warblers as their current lead singer now made it to the front. "Let's go for it," David smirked. To Kurt's surprise, while the other boys took positions, Blaine picked up a guitar. "He can play guitar?" Kurt said, surprised. "Yes, guitar," grinned Reed. Kurt colored scarlet, leaning forward a little in his seat. Reed looked at his friend and laughed to himselfKurt was clearly smitten and it would do everyone in Windsor a big favor if he and Blaine just came out with it. And then he looked up and saw Logan not even watching Blaine. He was looking at Kurt. Reed fidgeted, uncomfortable at the sight, hooked his elbow onto Kurt's in a show of protective camaraderie and just grinned with him as they watched. Blaine stood before them and started playing with a gentle strum. The boys looked interested, sitting forward. Blaine started to sing his own spin on a song, starting out slow in acoustic rhythm:

I shouldn't love you but I want to I just can't turn away I shouldn't see you but I can't move I can't look away

Reed's mouth dropped in amazement, stifling back a laugh. He knew that song, and from the way Blaine glanced twice at Kurt while he played, he was singing to him too. Blaine's acoustic manner took the song over, the lyrics taking strong prominence with his expressive voice. He made it his own, that song. Kurt sat listening, surprised as Blaine continued growing stronger but never quite losing his own even way:

And I don't know how to be fine when I'm not 'Cause I don't know how to make a feeling stop
In a noted strum, the other boys accompanied him in the chorus.

Just so you know This feeling's taking control of me and I can't help it I won't sit around, I can't let him win now Thought you should know, I've tried my best to let go of you But I don't want to I just gotta say it all before I go Just so you know
The Warblers were grinning. They had heard Blaine strum the guitar before, mainly while they weren't practicing, but he had never quite performed like this. It didn't sound like the old songBlaine's acoustic transformed it with his style just like he did to Teenage Dream. Logan was leaning back on his chair and watching with immense interest, almost proud, the way a combatant would when finding a worthy opponent. Blaine sang with no inhibitions, letting the music do its work and his voice express everything he wanted to pour out into the words.

This emptiness is killing me And I'm wondering why I've waited so long Looking back I realize It was always there just never spoken I'm waiting here...been waiting here
Kurt sat shell-shocked, scarlet all over his face. If he hadn't already been so sure before, he was now positive that the song couldn't be meant for him. or was it? That was just it with Blaine, wasn't it? He never knew. But even as he listened, leaning forward, hearing the words, he wished. He wished really really hardthat it was for him.

Blaine's warm eyes met his for a fraction of a moment. It made Kurt smile.

I can't believe it, he thought, almost in dismay. I think I just fell for him.
It was the most unusual feeling in the world, Kurt realized. Everything and nothing made sense for a minute, going everywhere, and then suddenly, gone. One blown out match. He looked down at his hands feeling as though on the inside, everything had gone dead quiet. After all this time, he finally realized that he had truly fallen for someone. When he admitted it to himself, the locks flew open and let all the other awkward, unsure, emotions out, leaving that admission inside. He finally had that room breathe, in that small moment. He let out his breath. He looked up at Blaine, who had finished his song. The Warblers burst into applause, smiling at him. Kurt also smiled, clapping. But he couldn't look Blaine in the eye anymore. He kept his eyes down, afraid of that the realization was so fresh that Blaine would see with just one look. "Kurt, are you okay?" Reed laughed. "Were you that moved?" Kurt glanced at his friend and smiled. He didn't know what would happen later, or tomorrow, but right now at least, he knew one absolutely true thing, and that was all that mattered. "I think so." Sylvia and Greg stood in front of the group assembled. "We have tallied your votes," Harvey said. The Warblers stood with bated breath. Sylvia looked at Greg with a nod, and Greg said, "Both of them did well. But we need only one lead for this performance, and there are no solos." They nodded, understanding. Sylvia smiled quietly. "For this performance, our lead singer is Blaine." "YEAH!" The Windsor boys leapt into the air as the Warblers cheered. Logan also applauded, nodding with a smile. He accepted this defeat. He glanced at Kurt, clapping so hard that he was becoming breathless. Logan knew what that look washe himself had that look before. But he also knew that he had a pocket of time. While the other boys swarmed at Blaine, Kurt remained at a safe distance, as though afraid to breach a circle. Logan smiled. Lost this one then, Blaine. But I still have time. I'll just have to catch up. "That was close!" Wes choked, clutching his breath. "Man, I bet it had been that close!" He gave Blaine a heavy pat on the back, nearly making the other boy buckle as they headed back to the House. Everything was dark out now, nothing but the leafless trees printed against the navy sky empty of stars. It was turning colder these days.

"Yeah, man, he put his own spin on an Aerosmith song and he was good," David shook his head. "Even I started to get worried. Damn close." "I bet you guys had a one-point difference," Reed grinned mischievously. The twins cracked grins and looked at Kurt immediately. "Who did you vote for, Alice?" they chorused. Kurt turned deep red, cold hands in his pockets. "You know I voted for Blaine, why do you have to ask me that?" Blaine smiled at him. "So you liked it?" "Yeah," Kurt smiled briefly at him. Blaine noticed how Kurt was avoiding his eyes and felt confused. "Are you okay?" he asked. "I'm fine," Kurt answered with another quick smile. "Really. Justjust tired, I think." I had no idea falling for someone was so tiring how do Quinn and the rest of them do it? "Are you sure?" Blaine asked, that worried expression still on his face. "Because you you're not really looking at me." Kurt let out a shivering breath. Courage He looked at Blaine and smiled, longer now. "How about this? Better?" Blaine smiled a little. Something still seemed off, but for now it looks as though it was still okay. Kurt was flushed with the cold wind whipping his face. Blaine thought he looked beautiful. Hanging from the upper balcony, Dwight was screaming at them as they approached the house. "What took you? Who won?" "We did!" yelled Wes and David, grinning at him. The twins pumped their fists into the air. "Blaine did great!" Reed called back. Dwight looked at his crystal ball in his hand in disgust. "Man, this thing sucks. It told me we'd lose!" Greg headed to the Teachers' Quarters. Sylvia looked amused. "That was interesting" "You think so?" said Greg, a little bit more anxious. "Doesn't it say something about how the group feels about Logan? The votes say it all. Blaine won by a landslide. Speaking as a teacher, he had tied with Logan in skill, but the win by vote was a tremendous margin." "I doubt it's about last year" Sylvia commented. "Maybe they just really do want Blaine for lead singer." She paused. "Song was an odd choice for Logan, though. It's not his general style." "I know, the last time he made drastic changes, we had quite a few problems," Greg

murmured. "I start to question my own decision to retain him. It was simply that he has so much promise. And don't think I don't hear the news. That savage fencing final with Blaine. I don't want it to be another fiasco like last year." "Relax, Greg," smiled Sylvia, the mother hen. "The boys will work it out, just like they did last year. They have their own choices to make and they've made the right ones so far." "Including Logan? Sylvia, I'm not prepared to lose another singer like that. And Kurt, our first countertenor in twenty years, is in the front running for second soloist. If anything else comes up we might not have that advantage anymore" "When do we make that official, by the way?" Sylvia blinked. "He'll have to duel for it. If he wants a lead position, he'll have to fight for it like Blaine did." The elegant woman grinned. "From the looks of him? And as a Windsor? I'm sure he will."

Episode 7: Sectionals Walking down the school's hall by himself, Blaine pulled out his Blackberry from his pocket and saw that the text message came from Kurt.

Sorry, BlaineI can't go to lunch with you today. K

He found this odd. Usually, there was a reason that accompanied a turndownand the lunch turndown itself has never happened before at all. He had been distant since the duel. Feeling something was amiss, Blaine tried to call Kurt back. He stopped when he heard it ringing, not from his phone, but from somewhere down the corridor. Brow furrowed, Blaine followed the sound. It led him to the Warblers' Hall. The door had been left slightly ajar. "Kurt?" He walked up to the door and opened itand came to a dead stop. The phone was ringing ignored on the piano. Kurt was pressed to the far wall with Logan holding him there as he ravaged the shorter boy's mouth in a kiss that could've set the room on fire. Breathing hard and flushed, Kurt's uniform was already a mess, buttons popped and tie on the ground. The small moan he let out only seemed to make Logan more forceful as he all but devoured him completely. They were so caught up that they didn't even notice him. Blaine fell backwards onto the door, choking in shock. And he woke up with a strangled gasp. Coughing hard, he blinked into the darkness, confused, before he started groping for the bedside lamp. It switched on immediately in a warm glow. Blaine's heart was pounding so hard, he could feel it in his throat. A nightmare. With a groan of relief and pain, Blaine slid back onto the headboard, arm draped over his head. Next to him, on the side table, the clock happily declared that it was around four AM on Sectionals Day. Hardly an auspicious start to the day.

What the hell is wrong with me? he wondered groggily, rubbing his eyes. My subconscious is trying to torture me.
"Blaine?" He nearly banged his head on the headboard when he jumped at the sudden voice. It was Kurt's voice. And Kurt himself, wearing pale blue pajamas, was standing in socks, looking worried. "What" Blaine was confused for an instantuntil he remembered that Kurt had slept there. And so did David, Wes, Evan, Ethan, Reed, and a few other Warblers. The night before, they had all gathered in Blaine's room (as they usually did) to marathon the Harry

Potter movies. Then all the boys brought their pillows and blankets into the room, and lay to sleep there, presumably so they would all wake up together the next morning for Sectionals. Kurt was one of them. The said boy now sat down at the side of his bed, concerned. "II thought you were in trouble or something. You woke up with that choke and... Are you all right?" That Kurt looked like an angel illuminated by the soft lamplight at the edge of the blackness of the rest of the room was something Blaine was deeply grateful for after that dream. He pinched the bridge of his nose a moment and sighed. "I'm fine, it was justjust had a nightmare." And was it ever a nightmare. Blaine just rubbed his eyes and said with a halfhearted gesture, "I'm all right. I'm sorry I woke you." "You didn't, actually," Kurt smiled. "Oh?" "Yeah" Kurt smiled wryly. "Our dreams really suck tonight." "What did you dream of?" Kurt hesitated. He looked down at the bedsheet for a moment. When he didn't answer, Blaine nudged the hand on the bed with his own in prompting. Kurt sighed. "I dreamt I couldn't get out of the McKinley locker roomand Karofsky was there. It was like a splatter movie, he was just coming at me, or something. Then I woke up." Blaine sat up. That hand on his bedsheet had white knuckles. "Kurt, how long have you been awake?" "half an hour."

Well compared to my dream, that's...worse Blaine thought with a bitter slick. Blaine had a nightmare out of what might have been jealousy or insecurity; he wasn't afraid to admit it. Kurt had a nightmare out of emotional trauma. He opened his arms. "Come here." He pulled Kurt to him and hugged him.
Kurt just sighed and hugged pack, patting his shoulder. He didn't quite let go or pull away, and so Blaine didn't let go. After a few moments, Kurt asked, "so what did you dream of?" Panic. Shame. Fear. All three emotions in one go was rather distressing, and Blaine pulled away a moment. He scratched his head and said, "Wellwasn't anything like yours." "Like what?" "Let's just say it's something I never want to happen. Or at leastI never want to see happen"

Kurt smiled sympathetically and pulled him into a hug again. "Was it really bad?" he asked, chin on Blaine's shoulder. "Incredibly," Blaine agreed with a wry smile, enjoying the moment while he had it. "Our subconscious really sucks." "Yup." Kurt seemed thinner than before. It must have been the combined forces of the last days at McKinley, the big move, the homework, the stress and the aggravation of Windsor. Blaine felt a stab of guilt. He had told himself he would take care of Kurt, but the evidence would suggest that he had not done so very well. After a pause, Blaine murmured, "why wouldn't you look at me last night?" Kurt frozehe felt him do so. Blaine kept holding him, saying, "I'm not trying to rush it out of you. I justI'm just a little worried. You acted differently and" and it was like you heard my song and you knew it was for youand you didn't like what you heard. Just like with Logan's song when you seemed frightened. Kurt didn't answer. He just carefully put his arms around Blaine tightly. "Blainecan I nottell you the answer right now?" His fingers trembled. "Please?" Blaine closed his eyes. Anything you want, as long as you don't tell me you hate me for what I did. I don't know why I did it so recklessly. Because Logan had pushed me? He was pushing me back to the line, like he did in fencing. And if I didn't fight back, I would lose. And I can't lose this one. He nodded slowly. "All righttake your time" he looked at him now, and smiled. "Hey don't look so worried. Everything's all right. It's Sectionals today." "Hardly a comfort," Kurt managed to quip, smiling a little. He turned away from Blaine again, unable to look him in the face. He picked at stray threads on the comforter. Why was it that after the duel, he could still look up at Logan in spite of the song? Why was there a double standard that froze him in his tracks when it was Blaine?

Because you love Blaine, but you don't love Logan?

Maybe Kurt had held Blaine's hand during Logan's song because he was afraid of what he would feel if he let Logan in. He had to have something for Logan, that was sure. All those advances were open that only an utter moron would not notice. And while it was incredibly flattering and did, in some guilty, distant way, made him feel good, he had fled from it. Because Logan, for all his points and flaws, was simply just not the one he wanted. Blaine never advanced like that before. He was always on the defensive. He would do little things, like hugs, nudges and if at any time he was frightened, he was able to hold his hand to calm himself. He was the protector and that was obvious. From where he stood, Blaine really did make it seem as though he was purely meant for that capacity.

That duel performance was the tiny key on the glass table. It opened up a whole other doorit gave him a glimpse of what it could beif Blaine felt the same way. That was what Kurt had fallen for. The idea that he could love Blaine and that maybe, Blaine could feel the same. But right now, with everyone having their shields upwith all of Dalton's rules of propriety, unspoken battle lines, competitive matches and friendship tieshe had no way of knowing if what the "White Rabbit" had shown him was the truth, or his imagination.

In the end, Kurt sighed, I'm just as afraid of Blaine as I am of Logan.

He had two choices. Logan was willing and all but forcing ithe could let Logan in and see for himself what happens if he followed him down that direction. He might love him, hate him, or just up being perfectly civil or he could stay following Blaine, the one who first showed him the way, and pray not to end up losing his head and heart to him while he tries to find out if it what was between them was a dream or reality. With everything standing at the very edge of platonic, it was a risk he had to be willing to take.

What do you do when the person you run to with your problems is one of your problems?
"Stop running." Both Blaine and Kurt looked up in surprise. Dwight was not a Warbler, but he insisted on being in the party to defend them against anything bloodsucking and venomous that might be attracted by a group of souls gathered conveniently in one room for them to victimize. Right now, Dwight was soundly asleep in an awkward position draped over the beanbag chair, his body arcing over it. He sniffled and rolled over, mumbling, "Stop runningwalk by yourself and figure it out"

What? Kurt stared.

Dwight snored. He rolled over again and fell off the beanbag with a loud thudbut kept snoring. Blaine and Kurt looked at each other, and then started to smile. Blaine laughed softly. "He's got sleeping issues. I didn't want him to sleep here because I was afraid he'd wake the boys" Kurt smiled at Dwight almost affectionately.

Stop running, huh?

Incidentallythat took some "courage" too

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. The day before yesterday, Blaine and Logan dueled for a solo. Blaine won, but when I

left that room I felt different. Being sung to by two different guys with two different functions in your life has a way of doing that to you. Today is Sectionals, and everyone is tense. I'm going to go against McKinley, and that makes it worse. The pressure is everywhere. I'd want the mayhem back instead, but it appears that it just took a different form.
"Dwight kicked me last night! In the shins! Twice!" Wes snapped at David as they boarded the large tour bus that Dalton used for all its students' off-campus activities. It was morning, the sun was beating down golden rays onto the mass of Warblers that prepared to board and the students who cheered them on. "I swear, David, if I can't walk properly today and we lose because I made a misstep, I'm going to ship him to the Amityville house. I knew we shouldn't have let him sleep over there!" "And he talks too much in his sleep," David grumbled, rubbing his eyes as he took the seat next to Wes. "He told me he was dreaming about playing Sonic the Hedgehog and he couldn't get to the next level because Sonic wouldn't stop running." "He needs to be checked for drugs." "We checked," the twins mumbled from the seats behind them. "He was clean. So he's just pure loony." Kurt stumbled down the aisle, looking a little more disconcerted than his usual self. Reed waved to him from a window seat to catch his attention. Kurt saw him, immediately walked all the way to the back to them and took the seat next to Reed. The smaller boy blinked. "You okay? Not going to sit with Blaine today?" Kurt just shook his head, smoothing out his best blazer and making sure his pants weren't creased. "Just wanted some time to think." Reed studied him carefully. He leaned to him and murmured. "aboutBlaine and Logan?" Kurt looked at him. Reed's face split to an adorable smile. "It's kind of obvious, Kurt. To me, anyway." He turned to him fully. "You know this is not about them, and that it's really about how you feel? This time is yours now. You have to be happybecause if you're just troubled, you'll make the wrong decision." He shrugged. "And they don't want that either." Kurt stared at him. His eyes misted up. And then he grabbed Reed into a tight hug. "Ow!" Reed cried, laughing. "You're crushing my ribs, Kurt!" "Sorry." Kurt laughed, wiping his eyes a little. Reed grinned. "It's Sectionals, Kurt. What we've all been waiting for, working for. It's time to push all that aside for at least todayand just have fun." He stopped. "Kurt, why are you wearing that hideous lapel pin? Give me that!"

"Hey! I liked that one!" Kurt protested, trying to grab it back as Reed held it away from him. "It's from last year's line, Kurt, don't be ridiculous. Ow!" "See? Now you've stabbed yourself with it. Give it back." Blaine couldn't sit with his friends. He had to sit in front with Harvey, Medel, and Logan, the designated second soloist. It was purely a decorative title, because Blaine had no intentions of suddenly developing severe illness that would prevent him from being onstage. Harvey didn't like the boys making noise in the bus en route unless they were singing, and Medel happily conducted the boys into their warm ups as they went on their way. Sitting next to Logan promised to be an exercise in patience. Blaine had mountains of it, after living in Windsor. But it looks like it was all for naught, as Logan merely gave him a cool smile, turned to the window and remained silent for the ride. Blaine's phone vibrated.

You all right up there? Logan not giving you problems? Wes
And then a follow up: Aside from the obvious, I mean? Blaine smiled faintly and responded: Logan's quiet. So am I. We're not talking to each other. Focusing on Sectionals. B

If you say so. Wes

From the twins:

Saw you and Kurt making out this morning. E&E

Blaine colored to his scalp and furiously texted. We were NOT making out. B

Awful tight hug though. You both were as adorable as bunny slippers. ps does he know you have a pair, White Rabbit? E&E
Blaine wished glares could be conveyed over text. If he "suddenly" finds out during this bus ride, I will use your comic book collection as Christmas kindling. B He heard laughter from the back of the bus, and then a small commotion at a pair of seats. Blaine texted, What's happening there? B

Reed choked on a Skittle. David Told you not to give him candy. B Kurt gave. Brought snacks in case of sugar shortage. -David

And then a mass message from Wes to all the Warblers: KURT BROUGHT COOKIES FOR THE AFTER PARTY. We must win or we don't get those or Medel's brownies! "Miss being with your friends?" Blaine looked up at the first time Logan had spoken. The taller boy was smiling coolly again. "I'm sure if you ask Harvey, he'll let you sit with them." "Nothey can take care of themselves." Blaine gave him a sideways glance as he texted the other back. "What about your friends?" "They're just glad I'm sitting in the front again," Logan sighed, leaning back. He had his phone in his hand, but he had no messages. "It's been a while since I was lead anything here." "That was by choice, and you know it," Blaine remarked without looking at him. "You could have gotten the lead anytime you wanted, Logan. You just stopped wanting it." "Really? Well, not from the way it looks from here," the other boy snorted a little, playing with his phone. "When I was singing lead, you sang chorus. And there you would've stayed until Wes and David heard you sing on your ownand then you became lead. You're steep competition." "Coming from you, that's quite a complimentand quite a threat. I know how volatile you get when you're compared to anyone," Blaine said mildly. "Seen it first hand. There had been casualties." "Touche." After a moment, Blaine put down his phone and said, "I won the fencing match and the duel, Logan. You told me that if I beat you, you would tell me what your beef is with Kurt." "I don't have a beef with Kurt," Logan said calmly, looking out the window. He remained quiet for so long that Blaine was just about to say something else, until Logan added, " I'm in love with Kurt." Blaine's fingers froze on the tips, that numbness climbing slowly upwards until it was prickling onto his arms. "what?" Logan smiled out the window. "You act like you don't know why. I saw the way you looked at him when he stopped you at the staircase that very first day he tried to spy on us. I saw you sing to him, I didn't know him thenI didn't really care. When I heard and watched him sing for audition, I finally got why you kept flying off to Lima instead of staying for practice." He drummed his fingers on the windowsill. "you have no idea how much that amplified when he walked into the Hall to sing with me that other time. It was the most ridiculous thing that had ever happened to me, I almost hated him for reducing me to this." Blaine clenched his fists silently, trying to figure out how to even react. Knowing Logan the way he did, Blaine saw so many underlying words in his statements that he had to

compose himself. "If youdo anything untoward to him, Logan" "All right, Blaine." Logan finally straightened up. He looked at Blaine. "Let's just clear this now. I know you saw him first, but how he looks at me and how he looks at you He's comparing me to you, Blaine. And like you said" there was no warmth in those green eyes anymore, "I'm reallyreally volatilewhen compared to anyone." Blaine never wavered. He matched that gaze. "That's true but I'm not going to make it easy for you." "It would be immensely boring if you did." "Kurt! Kurt! Finally!" Mercedes came running up excitedly to him backstage and gave him a huge hug. Kurt laughed and hugged back warmly. "It's so good to see you here!" "You guys are all here?" Kurt asked, grinning. "Yup, the whole crew" Mercedes beamed, looking at him with pride. "Finally at Sectionals. Someissues going on in the green room, though. Sam and Quinn are taking the lead." Kurt looked confused, but Mercedes waved it away. "Whateverbesides that, how are you? I mean, you are going up against us now. I'm sure you've got one heck of a performance planned." "Well, I don't have a solo butI think I've started to mesh in pretty well with the group," Kurt admitted with a relieved smile. "It took me a week, on top of everything else. I'm looking forward to performing with them. How about you? Is it that bad back there?" "There's a whole lot of drama back there but" Mercedes smiled a little bit. "But when did we not, right? The important thing is we somehow pull it off. We can't lose now, Kurt especially with you on the other side." She laughed. Kurt smiled a little bit. "Are youare you guys sure, I mean, is there anything I can do at least? I don't know, yell at someone? I'm getting pretty good at that, apparently." "Considering what you've been telling me about your friends, I'm not surprised," Mercedes snickered. She patted his shoulder. "Look, you just focus on your own group, okay? We got this." Kurt raised an eyebrow, and Mercedes nodded, grinning, "Okay, I think we got this. Well, justwatch us onstage and tell us how we did afterwards. Okay?" Kurt gave her a long, affectionate hug, and smiled. "I miss you guys, you know." "We miss you too. Good luck." The Warbler smiled and waved goodbye as Mercedes hurried back to the New Directions greenroom. Kurt turned around and found Logan standing there with a smile. "We were wondering where you'd gone to," he said. "I was just"

Logan laughed. "It's fine, don't look so worried. Everyone knows you came from that group, which makes us doubly interested in what they've brought to the table this time. We definitely got the better end of the bargain, though. They might not be all that much when it comes to skill, if they got rid of your talent so easily." Kurt's cheeks flared with all the heat rising to his face. "They did not get rid of me, all right? I left them. You don't even know anything about what happened! They didn't want me to leave! I made the decision to go without them even" "Kurt! Calm down!" Logan put his hands on his shoulders, staring at him. "Relax! I'm sorryI didn't mean to imply anything. I'm sorry, all right? Calm down." Kurt was breathing hard and just glared at him with the minimum conviction necessary. He glanced away. "Just don't talk about them like that." "I won't, all right? I won't" Logan assured him. He had yet to let go of Kurt's shoulders. He leaned down to him. "I still have to thank them, though. if it weren't for them, I wouldn't have gotten to meet you." He was uncomfortably close. Kurt averted his eyes, shrinking back just a bit. "please let go of me." Immediately, Logan released him, holding up his hands in a safe distance. "Right. Okay, sorry about that too. I just didn't want you to get upset with me." Kurt just nodded, clutching at his elbow. Logan studied him for a moment and smiled. "Why are you so afraid of me? I won't hurt you, Kurt." "I don't know that yet," Kurt muttered under his breath. Logan wasn't sure of what he heard, but he knew it wasn't good. He frowned slightly. "I suppose your other Windsor friends told you some things about me?" Kurt sighed. "Maybe." "You believe them?" "I don't know, should I?" "They're biased! Everyone is! Is it because I'm from Stuart house? The Windsors never have anything good to say about us!" Kurt narrowed his eyes at him. "You think that this is about what House you come from? Logan, I really don't care if you come from Stuart, or Hanover, I don't even care if you board or not! It's what all the other Warblers, no matter what house they're from, say you're like! They've known you longer than I have and they can't trust you!" "Give me a chance, Kurt," Logan said, expression almost pleading. His green eyes were intense even in the low light. "Just give me a chance. Or at leasttalk to me. That's all I want." When Kurt didn't answer immediately, hesitating, Logan's temper finally got the better of

him. "Why don't you just trust me?" he demanded, slamming a hand to the wall and making Kurt jump. Heart pounding at this sudden show of fury, Kurt finally looked up at him. "Trust? Okay, let's try that. Logan, why did you stop asking for the lead? Why did you let the Warblers down last year? Because everyone has been working to the edge of their lives off for this this year, it had to be the same last year. They were all counting on youthey trusted you and then you left them all hanging. And everyone said you were good, brilliant and you still are! And then you just dropped them because you didn't feel like it anymore! Why did you just stop?" Logan looked stunned. "I" he looked around him, as though looking for the answer. He licked his lips, looking anxious for a moment, and then suddenly became furious. "Well, what about you? Why do I have to explain anything to you, new kid? You think you're some kind of saint? You dumped your friends to join a better group after you saw us, didn't you? You dropped them right before Sectionals! You're no different from me!" Kurt stared at him, mouth open slightly in what might have been shock or just disgust. Then he just dropped his gaze, laughed hollowly and shook his head. In a low tone, he said, "you thinkI left my friends, my familyand everything I had left in McKinley because I wanted to be in a "better" group" "Well didn't you?" Logan glowered down at him, breathing hard. "You could have stayed, but you're here, aren't you?" Kurt took one step towards him, blue eyes locked on Logan's green ones. And he slapped him. Soundly. At the unprecedented action, Logan stared into the side for a moment, frozen in shock. Kurt glared at him. "You are just such an" He stopped himself and exhaled, recovering, trying to control all the rage that was in him. "get over yourself, Logan." And then he walked off, fuming silently. Logan seemed to come to his senses. "Kurt!" he turned to him, but Kurt just stormed into the other corridor and vanished. Logan groaned in frustration and rage, punching one of the nearby stage props, the wood shattering beneath his fist. His hand bled some, but he didn't care. He slumped back to the wall and slid down to the floor, trying to calm himself down. Evan and Ethan quietly watched from the other end of the corridor, faces impassive. They considered the figure that against the wall and then to the direction where the other had gone. They looked at each other, nodded silently, and went the same way. Greg knew something was wrong when he walked into the greenroom. The twins weren't talking, and that was always the bad sign. They just sat there, arms crossed and faces stony. Logan was standing at one side with the other Stuart Warblers, one of which was helping bandage his knuckles. Kurt sat in silence, face white and eyes distant. Blaine stood over him, hand on his shoulder, looking deeply concerned. Wes and David were hovering near him, looking confused and throwing glares at Logan. Reed

looked anxious. All the rest of the boys looked divided in attention, talking darkly about suspicions about what might have happened, and what went on last year. "What happened here?" Greg demanded. The room instantly fell silent. He looked at Logan with a frown. "What happened to Logan's hand?" "I cut myself, sir," Logan said in a low tone. "I fell onto a stage prop." "Odd, that's usually Reed's excuse," Greg snapped, knowing he was lying. "Any reason why it's just your knuckles that are damaged, Logan?" No answer. Greg turned to the Windsor boys. "What happened to Kurt?" "We don't know, sir," said Blaine truthfully. He didn't know. Kurt just walked in there looking white, shaky, and lost in thought. His body was incredibly tense, slowly easing, like ebbing rage. But the look on his face was of doubt, guilt and self-questioning. He seemed like he had gotten into some kind of fight, but he was not injuredso Logan's cut knuckles weren't the cause. Greg frowned at them all. "Look at all of you. The atmosphere here is so negative, that none of you even look like a team! Just like last year! And stop glaring at him Wes! David!" he snapped when, at the mention of the previous year, the two immediately glowered at Logan. The two dropped their eyes immediately. "I've had enough of these dramatics!" He turned to the whole group. "You all come from one school. All from different Houses, come together to make some real music and show them all what a real show choir should sound like. As a group. As a unit. You're smashing each other to pieces before we can even place an achievement next to your names! What are you so smug about? The fact that this generation of Warblers doesn't have a single National title to its name, all because they had to keep dwelling on battle lines?" He glared at all the boys, who now looked guilty and couldn't look at him. "I've just been to the other greenroom. I've seen and heard New Directions warm up. They're a twelvemember choir and you know what? I wish they would beat you! I wish they would beat each and every one of you so soundly that it would wake you all up to the fact that all of you are strongest only when you work together." He looked at each of them in the eye, lingering on the particular ones but never naming them. "You know your sound, boys. One unit, forming a perfect harmony. Each one carrying an integral part. It takes all of you, to make the Warblers what they're so famous for." There was silence in the greenroom. The Warblers glanced guiltily at one another. Greg glowered at them. Sylvia who had been watching from the door now carefully walked in. She smiled gently at all the boys, gesturing for them all to stand. "All right, boys," she said carefully. "Shall we have one last warm up? On my signal, give me your group chord. Ready?" The Warblers hesitated and barely nodded. She lifted her hands and made a gentle sweeping gesture. The Warblers, all together, let out a chord but it didn't sound right. Someone was too high, too low, ended too fast, or too late.

Greg pushed up his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, looking frustrated. Even some of the boys looked chagrined at such an output. But Sylvia just smiled. "Ah Did you hear that? Didn't sound quite right. It's because you all are thinking too much about other things. Let's try that again, all right? This time, listen to each other. Your voice must support everyone else'sand know that without you doing this, it will not work." She urged them forward. "Deep breath. Push everything aside, and just focus on one, single sound. Because this is you. All of you, understand? Can you do it again now?" The Warblers looked at each other. Blaine looked at them and smiled. He gestured for them to take it away. The Warblers nodded, smiling faintly. This time, they moved to their proper base formations, each in their proper place, standing tall. Sylvia beamed. "And again." She lifted her hands and gently swept inward and upward. In unison, the Warblers sang a single, powerful chorda union of harmonious voices that rang through the room, spilling outside, making passerby look up and wonder where it was coming from. Sylvia was beaming brightly as she carefully made a cutting gesture and all the Warblers stopped in perfect unison. "Much better," she said, smiling. The Warblers looked at each other, grinning and smirking. Even Greg almost smiled now. He slowly got up. "That sounded a bit better maybe you guys now actually have a shot in hell of winning. Unlikely, but there's a light." Brief murmur of laughs. The boys of Windsor looked at one another and grinned. Blaine took Kurt's hand and was happy to see him smile at him. Even Logan smiled slightly at their director with a nod. One of the stage hands now arrived at the door. "Mr. Harvey? Ms. Medel? We're about to begin. You may take places in the audience as the Hipsters are going first." The auditorium erupted into applause when the Warblers finished their performance. They held their elated smiles from their positions, waiting for the curtains to drop again. As soon as it fell, the entire group burst into cheers and applause, cuffing each other in relief and excitement. "We did it! I can't believe it, we performed at Sectionals!" Reed cried, jumping up and downand nearly fell off his position if one of the twins hadn't grabbed him before he fell. Wes and David were laughing, hugging and cuffing every Warbler they could reach as they got off the steps, massing to the backstage. Kurt jumped down from his step and pushed his way to Blaine, giving him a quick hug as the other Warblers swarmed him with praises. Blaine was surprised but hugged back, laughing. "You were great," Kurt grinned, flushed with adrenaline. "And you didn't miss a step," Blaine beamed down at him, holding onto his waist. "I

guess you're officially one of us now. You're a Warbler, Kurt Hummel, how does it feel?" "Not bad at all," Kurt laughed. "Come on!" Blaine called to the other Warblers as they rushed backstage. "Let's go see what New Directions has packing!" There was chorus of agreement as they did so. Kurt smiled up at Blaine. "Gonna help me support my friends?" "Of course. They gave us a standing ovation, after all," Blaine grinned. "Besides, I want to see what style you had previously come from. Who knowsmaybe Harvey would like that and let you get a bit of that in for the next performance. Make you feel more at home." Kurt turned red, pleased, and Blaine took his hand to lead him after the others. As Kurt followed, he caught Logan's eye, who was also being given friendly pats and cuffs as they hurried off. Kurt's smile dropped a fraction, and he just glanced away, following Blaine. Logan's gaze followed after him, but he just smiled a little to the other Warblers who were congratulating him and each other. New Directions was in the middle of their performance and already Kurt could see the Warblers looking very interestedly up at them. They were grinning, studying their movements. They especially looked impressed with Mike and Brittany's wild dance moves, flipping and twirling all over the stage. Kurt had no idea that Santana would be singing the solo, and he felt proud of the Glee club vixen's vocals as she gave it everything she had. And as he expected, if there had been any problems backstage, at this moment, the Glee club didn't look as though they had any. Each and every one of them came alive onstageeven Lauren Ziszes didn't do too bad. "Man, they are good," Wes whispered to Blaine. "We're in trouble, aren't we?" David muttered. "Singing flowers!" the twins chirruped happily from where they were devouring packs of snacks, going through a giant package of red vines. "You used to do all this?" Reed turned to Kurt with wide eyes. "I mean, it's not the normal show choir style, but man, you guys are amazing! Singing while dancing like that!" Kurt had so much pride in his chest, watching his friends, that he felt as though he would explode. He might as well havethe moment Mike and Brittany made the final flip in their routine, Kurt leapt to his feet, applauding, joined the rest of the Warblers and the audience, cheering for the McKinley group. Blaine glanced to their director, and smirked when he saw Greg nodding with a smile, impressed and clearly turning ideas in his head. Sylvia looked delighted to see such theatrics from the McKinley group and clearly also thought they were wonderful.

"They're good," smiled Greg. "Amazing," Sylvia agreed. "Now let's just hope our boys managed to pull themselves to a win." "What do you mean we tied?" demanded David in a shocked whisper from where he stood with the other Warblers. The Warblers looked confused as they looked at each other and even Will Schuester looked a bit puzzled. Greg only looked as though he almost expected it. But there was no changing the judges decisionboth New Directions and the Warblers would be going to Regionals, they announced. For a moment, the audience was silent, also a bit puzzled. New Directions stood staring, stunned, looking at each other. The Warblers were as puzzled at this, if not more so. "How" Reed was biting his nails. "Has this ever" "Oh man," the twins looked confused. "What's wrong with you guys?" Blaine whispered back, giving them a pointed look. "Don't you get it? Let it sink in for a bitwe've just won Sectionals! The Warblers are going to Regionals!" "Hell yeah we did!" Wes yelled, throwing a punch into the air and the Warblers erupted into cheers. At this signal, the auditorium came to life, erupting into cheers that lifted to the rafters. Confetti came falling from above. There was bedlam on the stage as the groups went crazy, throwing songsheets and programs into the air as their Directors shook hands. "Kurt!" Mercedes cried, running across the madness of the stage to engulf him in a hug. "We won! All of us, we won!" "I can't believe it!" Kurt exclaimed, hugging her tight. "Kurt! Look, it's Kurt!" Tina yelled from where she was clinging onto Mike. New Directions immediately swarmed onto their prodigal one, hugging and cheering with him. The girls all talking at the same time and the boys giving him high fives. "Good to see you again," Finn smiled. "You guys did great." "I know, so did you," Kurt laughed. Artie gave him a high five and Kurt nearly buckled under the force of Puck's hand on his back, clapping him heavily there in congratulations. The Warblers watched in amusement as Kurt was enveloped by his McKinley family. "He looks pretty happy," Reed said, smiling. "Look at him." Kurt was laughing at something Santana said, and he congratulated Brittany and Mike for their dance. "Yeah" Blaine nodded slowly, faint smile. "Those guys took care of him now it's our turn, I guess." "Yeah, or Alice will leave Warbler Land," the twins grinned.

"Guys!" Kurt breathed, dragging the New Directions to the Warblers. "These are my friends." "Oh we've met," Quinn grinned. Sam blinked. "You did? When?" "Uhlong story," Santana rolled her eyes, waving it away. Kurt introduced them all to one another, and the Warblers and New Directions greeted each other on that stage, with Kurt forming a bridge between the two groups. "You guys did amazingly," Blaine told Finn with a smile. "Your group's vocalsthey were so solid in harmony, it was great," Artie said to Reed, who was grinning. "Yay! Talking flowers!" the twins grabbed Mercedes and Tina's hands, twirling them onstage, making the two girls laugh. The choir Directors stood to the side, watching their two groups interact. "Not bad at all, Will," grinned Greg. "You've got one hell of a group there." "So are your boys. That's quite a sound they've got. But my kids, yeah, they worked hard," Will nodded with a smile. "We had our problems butworked out in the end." "Ah, same," nodded Greg. "You'd think an all-boys school would have less." Then he looked at Will and smirked. "I bet the only reason we tied was because both our groups had so many issues in their heads that they couldn't give it everything they've got the way they're supposed to." "That I'll believe," Will laughed, shaking his head. "They made it all right this timebut they can't be like this if they want to beat Vocal Adrenaline." "Oh" Sylvia shook her head, looking worried. "I know. Those boys better get their acts together. They'll be facing you and a juggernaut for their first Regionals." "We'll see you then, Will?" Greg shook hands with him with a smile. "See you then." Will turned to New Directions, who were all making a cacophony with the group of Warblers onstage, scattered singing of "The Dog Days are Over" as they did, laughing too hard to actually be coherent. He smiled and said, "All right, guys, let's pack it up. Let's go." "Boys!" said Greg to the Warblers, leading them towards the stage exits, "We can celebrate later! I want a big talk with you guys again before we have that after party." "Party!" the twins exclaimed, delighted. "We get to eat Kurt's cookies!" "They want to eat your what?" Santana looked at Kurt in a flash of confusion. "Baked goods, Santana, get your head out of the guttergo on get out of here" Kurt smirked, motioning to where the rest of them were going, following Will. He hugged each member of New Directions as they left, genuinely happy to see them all again.

The audience was leaving as well, slowly draining out of the auditorium. As Kurt bid his friends goodbye, Lauren moved away from his view of the audience and Kurt saw something that made his blood run cold. In the audience, standing at the side, one of the few not yet leaving, was Dave Karofsky. He was watching Kurt, no expression of his face; or maybe too far to properly see it. He just simply stood there, watching him. Kurt's heart shot to his throat and his hand reached out to grab the nearest jacket sleeve his touch could get toWes'. "Kurt?" he asked, surprised. "What is it?" He saw Kurt's face, white as a sheet and the grip on his sleeve tightening. "Kurt, what's wrong?" The other Warblers in the area started to look. Blaine turned around and saw Kurt's expression, then to where he was staring. He was staring out to the boy in the jacket in the audience, now moving to exit, but never breaking eye-contact with Kurt. "Kurt, you're scaring me," said Reed, frightened. "What is it?" Logan, who was nearby with other Warblers, saw the commotion and frowned, looking to where Kurt was. He saw Karofsky, and his brow furrowed a little, not understanding. Blaine took two strides and was next to the paralyzed boy in an instant. "Kurt," he grabbed his other hand. "Don't look at him. Don't look at himlook at me." He shook his arm. "Look at me, Kurt!" Shaking, Kurt turned terrified blue eyes at him, breath coming short, nodding shakily. "Is that him?" David demanded to no one in particular as he stood near him. "Is that the guy?" The twins stood on either side of Kurt now, glaring at the boy in the crowd. The group of blue blazers stood protectively around Kurt, looking at Karofsky right back, until he made it to the exit, and vanished. "Come on," said Blaine gently. "Don't let him get to you. You're safe now, remember? You're safeit's okay." "II nearly got him expelled" Kurt stammered. "What if he" "There are no what ifs," Blaine snapped sternly, trying to get a rise out of him. It made Kurt look up. "You're with us now, you understand? It's all right. You're safe." Kurt, heart pounding in his throat, looked at Blaine and whispered, "he said he was going to kill me, Blaine." All the Warblers now turned to Kurt. "He said what?" Blaine demanded, as it was also the first time he had heard of it. "He" Reed turned shock white. Wes and David were moving across the stage with fierce strides now and the twins leapt forward and grabbed their arms. "Whoa! Hey! Stopstop! Don't go there, guys!"

"Go there?" Wes demanded. "That guy's been there and back! And he shows up here to see Kurt?" "Don't do this now! He's gone!" Evan snapped. "He didn't do anything here. Come on!" David shrugged free of Ethan's grasp, glaring at him. "Why didn't you tell me this?" Blaine demanded to Kurt, voice rising. "All you told me was that he was shoving you and making fun of you and downright terrifying you and the incident in the locker room, and now" He stopped, then came to the realization. "that was it. That was it, wasn't it? That's the reason you left. he threatened to kill you" Blaine stared at him in shock. Kurt swallowed, lowering his eyes, calming a little. "yes. It was that. I nearlyI nearly got him expelled for it and" he choked, forcing himself to become calm, struggling. "the school board overturned it. He was coming back and II had to leave." He moved a hand through his hair, trying to compose himself. "...I couldn't tell you. I just...I couldn't." Reed put an arm around his friend comfortingly. "Let's go. He's gone, you're okay. Let's go back to the greenroom andgive you something to calm you down." He led him offstage. The rest of the Warblers looked at each other darkly, but followed. Standing at the wings, Logan watched all this. He turned and walked away once they all disappeared.

Episode 8: Temperature Like clockwork, Dwight opened his eyes to the sound of his alarm clock going on at six AM precisely. Groggy, he shot out a hand from under the covers, groped for the alarm clock and managed to feel its steel frame in his hand. He then proceeded to hurl the offending device into the same wall he had been throwing it at for the last year. There was already a convenient dent there. Yawning, he got up, dark hair flopping upwards fluffily. He stretched and tried to flatten his hair down, he felt static electricity through it. He paused carefully, considering. It was cold like last circle of Hell in Windsor this morning, darker than usual too. And now the static in his hair. While others may have deduced that it was a normal winter phenomena, Dwight Houston was far too experienced a hunter for that. He immediately pulled out a bagful of holywater-dampened rock salt blessed with all the right incantations. He cast a narrow-eyed look of suspicious alertness throughout the room. In a single bound, he sprang off the bed and launched into the air. He landed with both feet onto a salt-lined perimeter placed at the precise spot he always landed on, rolled, and raced into the bathroom, slamming it shut, inwardly praising himself for his excellence in avoiding the malignant specters yet again.

Gonna have to do better than that to capture Dwight Houston! he mentally crowed before leaping into the bath.
His roommate merely continued to sleepused to this daily occurrence. Later, Dwight was fully dressed in school uniform, still proud of himself. The hair couldn't be helped, it was still fluffed up. He jogged downstairs, carrying his school satchel and his black coat, ready to face the day's educational fray while remaining vigilant about every single sign of unusual spiritual activity within their ancient school. He took pride in the fact that he woke earlier than most of Windsor, and that with this careful vigilance, he would be able to properly protect his Windsor brothers as the one defender against mortals and all of demonkind.

YepI am bad ass. Dwight flung open the door.

ah crap. "What inthe hell?" David and Wes hissed from the foyer, still in their sleepwear, hands under their arms and wearing slippers. They had just been roused by Dwight's unceasing yells for them to wake up and come downstairs, and while they were prepared to shake him down, they stared at what was outside their door. Their exit out of Windsor was two-thirds blocked with solid snow. It was packed so tight that when Dwight had opened the door, it was just this wall of gray that faced them, with only a top sliver of free air.

"There is no way we are getting out of here with that!" Wes said, aghast. "It's like this even in the back door!" Dwight howled, gesturing at the gray wall of ice. "And the first floor windows! What is going on here?" "Why are you asking us?" David yawned, glowering at him irritably. "We just got up, man, I haven't even had my coffee yet. And it's freezing." Reed came in, wearing a downy robe and slippers with his pajamas, still looking drowsy. "The fireplace in the common's all wet. We have to clear all that snow out the way or we can't light a fire!" "Damn it" Wes grumbled, glowering at all the ridiculous snow that was up to window level and worse in some spots. "This is just perfect. How are we supposed to get to class?" "Hate to break it to you, boys" said Evan, hanging over them from the mezzanine, "but we're not going anywhere. No one is." "You all want to come take a look at this," his twin grinned. The boys looked at each other and then went up to where Evan and Ethan were smiling much too happily for the situation. The identical ones were gesturing out one of the second floor windows that faced the rest of campus. They pushed the windows open snow crumbling away as they didand let the boys take a look. David and some other Windsor boys stuck their heads out the windows to see. David's jaw dropped in shock. Dalton was almost completely sunk in snow. Windsor was barricaded by cold whiteness in all directions. The snow had to be at almost four feet deep all around them, with even more fat flakes drifting down from the sky. There was just cold everywhere with nearly no exception. The fountain at the front had frozen. And from where they were, they could see that Stuart house and the South and Main in the distance was in the same fix. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Hanover on the other end must be blocked up too. "It's just a whole lot of white out there!" Wes yelled from the third floor window he was looking out from, holding a pair of binoculars. "There aren't even any paths! If we want to get out, we'll have to fight our way out of all this ice!" "I'm not going out there!" Dwight almost screamed. "Are you insane? It's like the blizzard sequence in Balto!" Reed came back in. "Our phone and power lines are underground so they're still working but I just got a call from Howard. He says that all the boarding professors are also stuck inside the teachers' quarters, and the others couldn't even get close to campus." "How did this happen?" Wes asked, still aghast. "You guys didn't anger anything, did you?" Dwight asked suspiciously. Evan and Ethan finally clomped heavily into the hall with great pride, wearing what was unmistakably full winter gear, down to a hat, gloves, snow goggles and boots. They each had snowboards tucked under one arm. They pulled up their goggles in unison and

grinned as the boys stared at them. Evan smirked. "According to the weather channel, boys, we are smack dab in the middle of what is an unprecedented level of snowfall in Ohio history." "And that authorities everywhere are currently scrambling to provide aid those trapped by all this snow, and that they are tirelessly working to clear it all out," Ethan added with a smile. "But they're not doing that much of a good job." "They're trying, but it's definitely a snow day for us." "Because they aren't going to get to Westerville properly until later this afternoon." "Which means that we could be stranded with no rescue." "Forced to survive on our wits!" "And having to sit inside watching daytime soaps!" "And canned food!" "Seriously, we're basically screwed, though," said Evan. Ethan nodded. "Like in Alive." "Except without the eating each other part." "We hope." Dwight blanched, automatically clutching his talisman. "I'm not very edible; I'm all skin and bones like my mother keeps telling me, just FYI." Wes gave him a sideways glance of disbelief and then looked back to the twins. "So we slept through a blizzard, we're trapped indoors, and you want to go snowboarding?" "We were thinking maybe trying it down the roof of the Observatory first. It's got a nice clean slope to it." "You guys, I don't think we should be having this much fun," Reed said a little doubtfully, biting his nails again. "The professors" "are locked in under four feet of snow," Ethan said patiently. "What's your point?" "You could break your necks, maybe?" Reed said, hands to hips. "And, I don't knowdie both an academic and literal death?" "That's right!" said Evan, making his way to the balcony with his twin. "And I suggest we make the most of it while we have this opportunity!" "Opportunity?" David raised an eyebrow in disbelief as he followed them.

"Oh you poor, prim Hatter" Ethan smiled patronizingly, putting an arm over his shoulder as he gestured dramatically to the balcony and all the whiteness that was Dalton, sweeping his hand out like Mufasa at Pride Rock. "Look, David Everything the light touches" he paused, "iswell, pretty messed up," he admitted. "What?" David stared at him like he was crazy. "He means," said Evan said, patting David's back heavily, "Let's get crackingit's not going to last all day!" With twin whoops, both of them hurled themselves off the balcony and landed with a heavy flop into the snow. The boys gasped and ran out to the balcony, looking down. "Hey! You guys! Are you all right?" Uproarious laughter was coming from the snowbank below, both twins half buried in snow awkwardly, struggling to get up again. They were laughing too hard to be successful. "This is great!" Ethan yelled from where he was struggling to get up. He waved wildly, sending snow flying. "Come on! Let's go, you guys!" Evan was pelting the boys on the other windows with snowballs. Wes smirked at little and glanced sideways at David. David, still looking in disbelief at the twins, looked to him, then did a double take. Wes had a glove on, and he had a lot of snow scooped up in it. David gave him a warning look even as he edged away. "Don't even try it, man. Don't even"

"Get back here, Wes!" And Windsor house broke into bedlam as the boys came pounding down the dormitory in their snow gear, jumping out of windows and into the whiteness outside. Kurt opened his door, rubbing his eyes, wondering what the riot was all about this time. Reed walked up to him with a long-suffering smile. Kurt blinked blearily, eyes swollen with sleep. "What's happening?" Reed shrugged and smiled. "Snow day."

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. We made it through Sectionals in one piece, but we were going to have to do a lot better than that to beat Vocal Adrenaline for Regionals. Oh. During Sectionals, I slapped Logan Wright in the face.
and it kind of felt good, actually.

"So much for the "Fall" Music Festival," muttered Dwight grumpily, huddled by the fire in the common room, wrapped in a huge black comforter. He looked like a giant blob of black pudding. "Administration kind of overshot their estimation of "Fall". I don't know about you, but all that snow says "Winter" to me." Reed just laughed, getting up from where he was poking at the logs. "Won't it make it easier thenif we sing Christmas carols for the festival instead?" He stood and brushed off wood chips from his pants, and then cringed. "Oh man! Another splinter!" he sighed, holding his injured index finger, and headed back upstairs to find the first aid kit. Kurt presently came into the common, wearing a white Chanel turtleneck that Reed had lent (or given) him. He was carrying a tray loaded with hot drinks and frowned at the group of boys in the common room, dripping in melting snow and huddled in covers. "And what did we learn today?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at them. "not to go out when there's four feet of snow?" Evan asked helpfully, he and Ethan sharing the same comforter. "How were we supposed to know that not more than fifteen minutes after we get out a second assault of snow will come falling?" Ethan grumbled. Kurt rolled his eyes and handed him a cup of something warm. "You were the ones who watched the weather channel and you didn't know?" "Kind of stopped listening after "four feet of snow" and "snow day" and "stranded"." "I'm sure," Kurt snorted. "It took me and Dwight half an hour to drag you all back in here before you all basically became candidates for cryogenesis. While the rest of the guys had good sense to stay near Windsor, oh no, you were more ambitiousyou all had to go to Stuart house and throw snowballs at them." "They threw back!" Wes protested, head sticking out of a bright blue comforter. "You started it," Kurt said with finality. He held out a warm cup to him as well. Wes peeked into it. "What's this?" "Something I wanted to try. I saw a recipe on the internet." Ethan was drinking his when his eyes suddenly went wide when he realized what it was. "Oh! Oh!" and then started drinking the whole thing down as though he were all but inhaling it. He grabbed Evan's cup and started drinking out of that as well. "Hey!" his twin protested. Kurt gave them a slight smirk. Wes sipped his and blinked. "Oh! Hey, is this?" "It's butterbeer!" Ethan yelled when he finally managed to grab the cup back from his brother and got a taste. "Kurt made butterbeer!" Wes grabbed Kurt's hands, eyes wide and staring up at him. "Hey Kurt, I know I'm

straight and you're gay, but if you and Blaine don't plan on getting a move on, can I marry you, please?" Kurt, bright scarlet, swatted him lightly on the shoulder with the drink tray and got up. "Where is Blaine, anyway? I haven't seen him yet this morning." "He must still be" David never got to continue as Reed came hurtling down the stairs, all but throwing himself down them, slipping a few times as he did. He banged his shoulder as he rounded the banister endhe just winced and kept goingand skidded into the common room. "Guys!" he breathed. "Come quick! Blaine's really hot!" A terse pause. Dwight gave him an incredulous, narrow-eyed stare. "Ithink Kurt is well aware of that, though, Reed" Kurt smacked a pillow into Dwight's face, knocking the spiritualist over with a grunt, but he turned quickly to Reed. "What do you mean?" "Seriously, he's burning up! Come on!" and he just turned and ran up the stairs. Kurt immediately followed after him, the rest of the boys shedding their comforters and running up the stairs. "Blaine?" Kurt asked as he sat at the edge of the bed, leaning over the Windsor prefect curled up under thick sheets. Blaine was shivering but he remained fitfully asleep. Kurt was a veteran at taking care of people by nowwith only him and his dad, he was the one who had to look after his father whenever he got sick. And after dealing with his father's recent heart attack, a fever wasn't that much of a challenge anymore. He touched Blaine's palms and his forehead, and then shook his head. "He's really burning up." "What do we do?" asked Wes anxiously. He glanced outsideit was still falling heavily out. "I meanwe can't take him to the medical wing. There's just no way we can carry him out through all that snow." "Don't we have any medicine here?" Kurt asked as he took a digital thermometer out of the first aid kit Reed handed to him. After a click, Kurt looked at it. He sighed deeply, concerned. "It's a really high fever. He's a little over a hundred and three." The other Windsor boys looked aghast. Kurt kept his hand on Blaine's forehead and looked at Wes. "We need to bring down his fever. Whole lot of ice out there, Wes; could you get me some and put it in an ice pack?" Wes left without question. "I'll go see if we have any medication in the kitchen," David said, leaving as well. "What can we do?" asked the twins, hovering anxiously over them. Reed sat up. "Ohmaybe I can"

"No, not the comforters," Kurt immediately told him. "Remember last time. We're not trying to smother him here." Reed wilted somewhat, but remained looking worried. Kurt leaned down over Blaine, checking how he was breathing. In all other aspects he would have never ever have dared to lean this close to him. He did seem to have some trouble breathing"He sounds a little bit congested" Kurt straightened up, for an instant wondering what to do, but when he turned back to the others, Reed was holding out a container of menthol rub out to him. Kurt gave his current (and possibly soon to be expired) best friend a look between stunned and murderous, but Reed, with the minutest twitch of the corner of his lips, simply raised his eyebrows in askance. Gingerly, Kurt took the container from him. The twins had these ridiculously knowing smiles on their faces, clearly enjoying what was going to happen next. Kurt glared malevolently at them, as though daring them to say anything, but they only also looked at him expectantly. "Why don't the two of you leave and see if you can get a hold of the school nurse?" Kurt said tersely, red rising into his face. "Ask her what we should do?" The two looked disappointed, but got up and did not contest. Reed smiled at them as they left, then turned back to Kurt, who was also looking at him pointedly. But Reed just smiled brightly. "No, I'm not going anywhere." "Oh, for the love of" Kurt sighed deeply but just shook his head. "Fine." He turned to Blaine, cogitating what he was about to do. Biting his lip, he carefully moved his hands towards Blaine's collar to start unbuttoning, but he froze and jerked his hands back when the boy on the bed moved. Reed had to cover his mouth to smother a laugh. Kurt frowned at him and Reed looked apologetic while his eyes sparkled with interest. "You know what, fine" Kurt finally said. He reached up and opened Blaine's shirt. If he did it fast enough, he wouldn't have to think about it. He rubbed some of the balm onto his hands and applied it in careful strokes over Blaine's chest and shoulders. Reed had an attack of the giggles and had to leave the room. It was terrible, he knew, since Blaine was so sick, but seeing how awkward Kurt looked only made the situation more comical. Now alone and unobserved, Kurt felt a great deal less awkward as he studied Blaine's contorted expression as he slept. Just as Kurt was about to finish, he stirred, hands reaching him carefully to carefully clasp the ones on his shoulders. "Kurt?" he whispered hoarsely. Awkward as it was, Kurt couldn't help but smile. He'd never seen Blaine look quite so vulnerable before. "Yeah, it's me How do you feel?" "like death warmed up."

Kurt smiled a bit more. "Well I can't blame youyou've got a terrible fever." He made to move his hands away, but Blaine held onto his wrists. Surprised, Kurt looked down at him. "what?" "nothing." But he kept holding his hands, eyes closed. Kurt flushed, turning his gaze away. After a while, Blaine seemed to breathe a little easier and let go. He smiled faintly at Kurt. "Sorry That was kind of awkward, now that I think about it" "You're sick, I don't expect you to think rationally," Kurt gave him a smirk. "Why are you still here?" Blaine asked, confused as he glanced at the clock at his bedside. "What about class?" "It's a snow day," Kurt said matter-of-factly as he tucked the covers back around Blaine. "Literally. Campus is apparently four feet deep in snow. Even the professors can't get out." Blaine turned away a moment to cough into his hand. It sounded terrible. "have to make sure the twins don't go (cough) snowboarding" "They already did." "and not to let Reed near the fireplace" "Already did that too." "what about Wes and David throwing snow at Stuart?" Kurt marveled at how well Blaine knew exactly what his friends would be doing on a snow day. But he shook his head. "You're way too late. Dwight and I had to pull them all back in here when the second wind hit." "You're all right, though?" Blaine asked. "Why are you talking? Why are you worried about me?" Kurt scolded, pushing him back down. "Blaine, you've got a hundred and three-degree fever, you can barely breathe, you're in the middle of the blizzard of the decadeyou have to just lie down, all right?" Blaine stared at him, eyes bloodshot. "right." He leaned his head back onto the pillow. "You knowI didn't want you to see me like this." "Too late for that too," said Kurt as Wes walked in to the room with the ice pack. He took it from him and put it on Blaine's head. He winced at the coldness but Kurt just shot him a look and he left it on his head. "You look like crap, Blaine," said Wes, half joking and half serious. "I'll take your word for it," Blaine grumbled. Kurt tucked the covers more snugly around him and watched as Blaine started to drift off to sleep again.

That was when David came in looking distressed. He carried some pills with him, but he shook his head as he handed them to Kurt. "That's all we've got. Aren't even the right ones, most of them. Andwe kind of don't have much food left in the house. At least, nothing Blaine should be eating like that." "How long did they say this storm was going to go?" Kurt asked, worried. "Hours? But even if it stopped, there's still a whole lot of snow on the ground. How'd we get out?" Evan peeked into the doorway. "Kurt. Come here a second." With a glance at Blaine, Kurt rose and went to the twins outside. Ethan looked bothered and shifted uncomfortably when Kurt looked up at them. "We managed to get a hold of Ms. Summers. She's still in her house, but because of the storm, she can't come here. She sounded upset when we described to her how bad Blaine looked. She said that we have watch him carefully for the next few hours. If he doesn't get any better, she'll call for a medical helicopter to come get him." "He won't get any better" Kurt muttered. "We don't have enough medicationwe don't even have that much food. Your housekeeping skills are hideous." "We're aware," the twins sighed. "Pets don't live long, either." "Luke's spider lived for a month, I think." "Until Dwight's "familiar" swallowed it. And then the familiar died." Ethan saw the look on Kurt's face and quickly ran back to the topic. "But we've got to try." Kurt stood, considering for a moment. And then he looked up as he got a thought. "You told me when I first came here that you can open any door in this campus. can you open the clinic? They'll have the things we need there." "Kurt, you're talking about going out in that!" Evan pointed to the storm. "Even if we did have a key to open the door and the cabinetswhich, we just mightyou'll never get there right now. It'll have to wait until the storm dies down even a little." "Look." Ethan put his hand on Kurt's shoulder when he saw how worried he was. "We don't like this any more than you do. But Blaine wouldn't want you to go running out there either." "What about you two, then?" "We can't snowboard across campus," Evan rolled his eyes. "This is Ohio, not Aspen. Kurt, I promise we will go once the storm lets up even a micron. Relax. Here, I'll even give you the key, if it makes you feel better." He put an unadorned silver key into Kurt's palm.

Relax. Right. Kurt just shook his head and turned back to the room. Maybehe'll get a little better.

Blaine didn't get worse but he didn't get better, either. While the boys tried to scrounge for food and cleaned up broken glass from the windows smashed in by snow and wind, Kurt was sitting with Blaine. It had been some hours since they found him. Blaine would fall asleep and wake, and neither time he looked relaxed. He only looked cold and ill. Kurt gave him his medication and that helped for a while, but it would only work if it was constant. There was enough junk in the house to fuel the boys for the day, but the stock wouldn't help Blaine. All Kurt could temporarily give him was a couple of apples, which he could barely eat. Kurt started to notice how important Blaine was in the house. The other boys kept passing by his door as though looking to ask him about things, but they would remember he was sick and would leave. Blaine was the Acting House Prefect, and they all naturally turned to him for things, but now that even he was sick, there was no one to tell them what to do. David had to take over, keeping them away from Blaine and trying to keep the house intact. It had to be some form of Karma, he had told Kurt. "You don't have to stay here, Kurt," Blaine had whispered later that day. "You might catch it too." "I don't trust anyone around here with caring for someone ill," Kurt rolled his eyes. "They can barely even look after themselves as we speak." But it wasn't when Blaine fell into a fitful sleep, clearly struggling with whatever was ravaging his bodyhot and cold and skin red and tenderthat Kurt felt he had to do something. Anything. Blaine looked tired and ill, and he slept clutching onto Kurt's hand. His palms were scorching, and pain was evident in his expression even as he slept. Kurt held onto Blaine's hand leaned forward to it, taking a deep breath.

I can't watch this anymore. Kurt got up and stormed out the door.
"Kurt!" said David, spotting him in the corridor, putting on a jacket and heading to one of the windows on the second floor. "Hey, you're not going out there, are you?" "I have to go get him medication!" said Kurt. "The twins had already gone out to try and get some food from the South and Main. If you just wait a while, they'll get to the clinic! Kurt, you can't go out there." "I'll be fine," Kurt snapped back. "How are you even going to get in there?" David demanded. "Twins gave me the key."

"I'm going with you." "No, I said!" Kurt turned to him. "Look, you've got to take care of the others in the house and Blaine. I'll be back. I'm not that delicate." And with that, he opened the window and jumped out. His boots landed with a soft thump onto the snow. It was positively frigid. And Kurt, squinting through the wind, pulled down the earflaps of his hat a bit closer as he trudged towards the direction the clinic. There was no longer much snow falling, but the wind was so strong that it was blowing all the flakes into his face, stinging. Each step he took sank his boots into the snow, and his feet were starting to get cold. He clutched his coat closed and moved as fast as he could across grounds. "Kurt!" He stopped. From the direction of Stuart, he saw Logan, running to him. He was wearing a thick fur coat and heavy duty snowboots. Kurt tensed now, not for the cold, but at the sight of him after what happened last time. "Kurt, what are you doing out here?" Logan cried over the wind. "Get back inside!" "I have to get to the clinic!" Kurt shot back. "Blaine's sick! He needs medication and we don't have any in the house!" Logan looked at him for a moment, then said, "Come on! Come with me!" "Where?" "To Stuart! It's closer! Clinic wing's on the other side of campus, near Hanover! I'll just give you some of our supplies!" Kurt was surprised, but didn't have any choice anymore. He nodded and followed Logan to Stuart. As he did, he called, "What happened to your eye?" Logan didn't miss a beat. "It got hit by a fist! Nothing unusual!" Kurt stared at him, wondering why he would have gotten into a fight in the first palace. Logan helped him up the way to Stuart, and stopped him at their entrance. "Stay here," he said. "They'll all get mad if they see you in there. I'll get the food and supplies." He ducked back into the house without letting Kurt get and word in edgewise. Kurt shifted uneasily at all this. He had slapped Logan back at Sectionals, but here he was helping him. And he didn't even care that it was all for Blaine either. Maybe Kurt had acted too hastily? Had he been out of line when he slapped Logan? He couldn't be sure. When Logan came out, he had a large package of medicine and some food. He gave it to Kurt, who looked up at him. "Why are you doing this?" Logan gave him an odd look as though wondering why he had to ask. "I'm the Stuart House Prefect. I'm supposed to be helping you." On the way back, Logan had brought out another coat, and they both used it as a shield

to push through the snow and the wind. It was a long, cold walk, and not even standing near Logan could alleviate it. By the time they got back to Windsor, Kurt's teeth were chattering. Logan made sure that Kurt was able to get up to the window safely, boosting him up with his height. As Kurt climbed back into the house, he turned back to Logan, who just nodded to him, standing there longer than absolutely necessary, and left to make the trek all the way back to Stuart. Kurt felt that guilty twinge again. Logan had helped him with no prompting, without a word. He didn't know what to make of it. He took off his sopping boots and his cold, wet things before picking up the brown package and heading into Blaine's room. The twins were there, checking his temperature. "Hey Kurt," said Evan with a small smile. "We got the food andmedication" he saw the package in Kurt's hand. "Where did you get those?" "FromLogan," Kurt answered truthfully. "I tried to go to the clinic wing, but he saw me gave me this instead." The twins looked at each other, but said nothing. They just nodded. "Blaine's been talking in his sleep," said Evan. "He's looking for you, Kurt." They didn't imply anything with their tone either. They simply left. Kurt sat down next to the bed again and checked Blaine's temperature. It was a little lower than before. With a deep sigh, Kurt got the medicine ready and took Blaine's hand. He hoped he would get better. Blaine stirred. When he looked up, he saw Kurt asleep on the edge of the bed, holding his hand. He smiled. On the dresser table was a small medicine cup with some tablets, and the cup itself was labeled with a post-it: Drink Me! Blaine smiled at that, and dutifully took his medication. He held onto Kurt's hand and watched him continue to sleep, his serene face never once implying what he dreamed of, or if he was dreaming at all. He wished he knew who Kurt dreams of. Gently, Blaine leaned forward and kissed Kurt's frozen fingertips, breathing gently onto them to warm and thaw them. He smiled down at him. He was starting to feel better already.

Episode 9: Questions

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. Things went almost back to normal after Sectionals and the storm. With Sectionals over, it's time to focus on the Winter Fest. ...or at least, that had been my plan.
Kurt came storming out of Murdoch's classroom looking so livid that all the boys in the hall immediately cleared his path as he came past. Kurt was gripping his term paper like he was going to hurl it on the next human being he comes across with. After two days of being locked in by snow, Dalton finally had some semblance of life again, but this was apparently what was to greet Kurt when he returned to class. "Under researched"? "Uneducated discussion"? "Shallow observations"? he thought furiously, striding down the halls looking for blood. I spent nearly an entire week diving back and forth into the library stacks and analyzing his three-inch-thick required reading for one paper! What the hell is wrong with that man? And why in this green earth is the football coach also teaching Literature? It was the longest, most heavily detailed term paper he'd ever written for anyone and even the Windsor boys were appalled at the size of it. "We'd never had that before," David had said, stunned when he saw the printout earlier. "He gave you all that so you could "catch up"?" Kurt had experienced a demanding teacher before, but Sue Sylvester was psychotic and she demanded perfect formations and dance moves. And she, to some degree, exhibited levels of fairness. But when he received that paper back and saw his plunging marks, he confronted the hulk behind the teacher's table after class. "I don't understand," he had said, frowning. "I thoroughly read the studies, Professor Murdoch, and all of my credible sources have been cited" "I think I'll be the judge of that, Mr. Hummel," the professor glowered down at him. The Stuart House Head looked gigantica man wreathed with a strong bulk that reminded Kurt strongly of the muscle-bound jocks at McKinley, except a fully-developed version. "You clearly didn't make use of any of the studies that have been specifically outlined in the curriculum for the semester" "Because I knew they would be what all the others will be using," Kurt shot back. "It would make no sense for me to parrot what all the others did for class so I took another angle using another theory" "Which as I said clearly," and Murdoch pointed to the great scarlet streak of ink on Kurt's paper, "was completely inappropriate for the topic under discussion." "What?" Kurt could believe what he was hearing. "Professor Murdoch, I found over a dozen references in the Dalton Library that applies that theory to"

"This conversation is going in circles, Hummel," Murdoch boomed down at him. Kurt didn't flinch. "As I stated, your main sources should have been only the ones in the studies as they are the most apt for the discussion." "With all due respect, sir," Kurt snarled through gritted teeth, "I think you're biased. Because all those sources come from texts that you wrote." Murdoch's expression turned darkso dark that the boys passing outside had to stop and stare as the giant advanced on Kurt's slim form. "You are getting out of line with that mouth of yours, Mr. Hummel. You are no longer in some backwater Ohio public school. You're in Dalton Academy now, and you are going to act in the manner befitting an educated young manor do they not teach you that where you come from?" Kurt flushed with rage, hardly able to speak. "So this is all about where I'm from?" "The only thing we discriminate about here in Dalton is excellence in all aspects," Murdoch snapped. "Your paper, behavior and wardrobeif your attire last week during the meet was any indicationhas none. Now leave this room immediately before I mete out detention, or call your parents." Thereupon, Kurt grabbed his paper furiously and stormed out, wanting desperately to harm something, and he had to leave or it would have been that hypocrite in the classroom. He had never been so angry in his lifehe had never even gotten lower than a B+ in his studies. Even if he had trouble in his first week, with the help of the Windsor boys, he managed to keep up a good gradeuntil now. Blaine entered from an adjoining corridor and saw the other boys fleeing Kurt's expression. He walked to him and quickly moved to stop him. "Whoa, Kurtwhat's wrong? What happened?" Kurt held up his crumpled term paper and pointed to the great red streaks with conviction. Blaine nodded slowly, understanding the situation, "OhMurdoch." "And what are you doing up?" Kurt demanded suddenly. "You had a high fever just the day before yesterday!" "I can't stay in that bed another day," Blaine almost complained, tugging on his collar. He still looked a bit pale. "And I can't miss any more Warblers' meetings for the Winter Fest." "If you get a relapse, you're not going to Winter Fest!" Kurt retorted. "Is that so hard to understand?" "All right! All rightjustjust calm down," Blaine said firmly. "I'm on your side, remember?" Kurt groaned and fell back down onto one of the seats in the hall. "I know, I'm sorryit's just that it's so" he completed the sentence with a frustrated sound with his hands suggesting strangling something. Blaine smiled, sitting next to him. "I know the feeling. Happens a lot more often than you'd think. Did you know he once wouldn't accept a term paper from David saying that it

was apparently "too advanced" for someone of his year level?" "He what?" David had the one of the highest GPAs in Windsorand took pains to keep it that way in spite of the madness indoors. "Yeah, he accused him to taking it from the paper of one of the graduates. David went ballistic. You know how tense he can get sometimes." "What did you do?" "Well after David couldn't talk to him, he told Howard. There was apparently a heated debate, and Howard got Murdoch to raise the grade, but it only landed as a BDavid's first in three semesters." "Did he ever do anything to you?" "There's a reason I left the football team," Blaine smiled wanly in response. Kurt shook his head in disgust, "So much for no bullying." "You think?" Blaine sighed. "Only with Murdoch, it's apparently not bullying when he's "setting a standard of excellence". Or that's what he says." He saw Kurt's frown at his term paper again and nudged him. "I can talk to Howard for you." "No, I'll talk to Howard," said Kurt, shaking his head. "You need to get back to bed." "I'm fine!" "You are not. And besides, I'm the one with the bone to pick with him." He paused and frowned again. "And besides, he insulted mine and Reed's taste in clothing." Blaine burst out laughing. "Yeah, I don't think he likes the flamboyant." He patted Kurt's knee, resisting every urge to pull him close, and smiled. "I'll see you back in the dorm, okay?" "Okay." Kurt nodded, watching him go. He sighed as Blaine disappeared and got up, looking down at his paper. He placed it into his satchel and went off to the direction of the professors' lounge. As he crossed the halls, he passed by the Warblers' home base, the door of which had been left wide open. "Kurtget in here!" said an imperious voice from the room, making him jump. Kurt blinked and went in. "Mr. Harvey?" Greg was looking at a sheaf of sheet music, which he hadn't looked up from even when he called him. Kurt walked up to him, confused. "Is there anything wrong?" Is there any more bad news for the morning? "I heard about Blaine, Ms. Summers told me. How is he?" "He can clearly walk around nowI just saw him in the halls. But I told him to go back to the dorm." "He's not well yet?"

"I don't think he's fully recovered." "Will he recover in time for the Fest?" Kurt hesitated. Blaine had been practicing hard and had been all but completely set for the (now) Winter Music Fest, until he had gotten ill. He knew why Greg was askingit was because if Blaine wasn't fit enough to perform, he would have to get the second soloist. And the second soloist last time had been Logan. "I" Kurt considered, "I think he might be able to pull it off butI'm not sure if he'll be fully recovered when he does. But of course, I think he'd rather choke and die than just give it up without a fight." "Well, I don't want him to get worse either," Greg commented, glancing at him. He smiled a little at Kurt's hesitation. "Don't worry, Kurt. I'm not putting Blaine out of the running until I see that he really can't, or shouldn't, be doing it." "Right," Kurt smiled, nodding in relief. "You, um, want me to tell him?" "No, actuallyI wanted to tell you something. For the Fallah, that is, Winter performance," he grimaced at the snow, no doubt remembering the terribly eternal day he had to spend indoors trying to civil to his irritable colleagues, "For that performance, we need two leads." He gave Kurt a steady look. "Now, I'm not offering you the partbut I was hoping to see you duel for it." Kurt stared in amazement. "Iof course! Of course, I'd love to audition for it! The second lead, I mean." "Well, who knows," Greg looked tired. "If Blaine doesn't make it and you beat Logan, you just might squeak by and get the first lead." "Like Blaine wouldn't have a complete meltdown before he left it to Logan" Kurt muttered, then stopped and looked up. "Wait. You mean Logan's dueling him again?" "He said he wanted to," said Greg, nodding as he sat at the piano. "He looks like he wants to retake his old spot. I don't know what it is, but something's lit a fire under him." Kurt fidgeted. Then Greg said, "Now, I'll need to confirm you for the application. You better get ready, because I'll close applications by the meeting laterand then I'll announce if you will have to go through preliminary assessment with me and Ms. Medel, or if you'll duel immediately." "Rightright," Kurt was already distracted. He was mentally running through his entire, highly extensive repertoire. What should he sing that will win the Warblers over for a duel? Or for that matter, what couldn't he sing? At that moment, a thought came to him. He stopped and looked up. "Waitumis there anyone I am dueling with yet?" "For second soloist?" Greg checked the sheets. "Well, if no one else comes forward you're dueling Reed Van Kamp."

"I'm so dead, oh my freaking last season Givenchy, I'm so dead." "Reed!" Kurt scolded as his friend continued to pace his white carpeted floor later that day. "Calm down." "There's no calming down!" Reed shot back as he flailed, the exaggerated sleeve of his Alexander McQueen top flipping. "I'm dueling you! I don't have anything that'll beat you!" "Why are you telling me this, I'm your competition?" Kurt raised an eyebrow as he watched him pace. "You're also my friend? Quite frankly I'd rather be honest than have a meltdown on my own when I realize that oh Prada I'm so dead!" he sank into his bed, head in his hands. He choked out, "Besides, you told me you're dueling me, might as well be honest right back, right? I mean you could've let me flounder right there instead of giving me a heads up." "I didn't even know I was dueling you until I accepted," Kurt said, getting up and climbing onto the bed next to him. "I don't get what you're so freaked out about." "Well I do!" Reed snapped, hugging his pillow and tearing threads off it. "Have you heard yourself sing?" "Yes, many many times and I'm aware of the magnitude of my talent." "That's my point" Reed groaned, flopping down onto the bed facedown. "I've never even tried to duel for second soloist before. I figured I'd just put my name down because I just thought that there was just going to be only one mainand that's what Blaine and Logan'll be fighting forand that I wouldn't even ever actually have to duel. How was I supposed to know that there were two leads and that I signed myself for the second one?" "Reed," said Kurt disapprovingly, glowering down at him. "You're a Warbler for heavenssakes. You can't be all that bad. Stop being so dramatic!" He tore away the pillow from Reed's clutches. "Get up! Right now! Sing me something." "Over my dead well-dressed body, Kurt! I'm not going to sing for you now!" "Oh yes you will" Kurt grabbed his wristshe was taller and strongerand pulled the other boy up to his feet. "Up! Get up, stand over there and sing me something. Now, Reed, I'm telling you, we don't have all dayProject Runway is coming on in half an hour." Bright scarlet, Reed fidgeted from where he stood in front of him. Kurt gave him a raised eyebrow in response. "Well?" "Just so you know, I've never sung solo before," Reed warned. "Reed!"

"All right!" he sighed. "Teddy Geiger fine with you?" Kurt just blinked slowly, deadpan, in response. Reed sighed and slowly began to sing. At first, he was singing so softly that Kurt could barely hear it. He gestured for him to be louder. Reed raised his voice, tentative at first, then picking up some confidence slowly.

Wandering the streets, in a world underneath it all Nothing seems to be, nothing tastes as sweet As what I can't have Like you and the way that you're twisting your hair 'round your finger Tonight I'm not afraid to tell youwhat I feel about you
Kurt's eyebrows went up again, blinking. Reed wasn't in his pitch range, that was certainbut he wasn't bad. He wasn't bad at all. There was a color to his voice and an emotion that went out. And when Reed finally started getting comfortable, just getting into the song

I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have and cannon ball into the water I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have For you I will For you I will
Kurt stared, blinking. Reed may or may not have forgotten he was in the room by now. He was just really getting into it, and now that he washe could really really sing. Like Logan and Blaine, Reed turned the song into something wholly his own.

If I could dim the lights in the mall and create a mood I would Shout out your name so it echos in every room, I would That's what I'd do, that's what I'd do that's what I'd do to get through to you You always want what you can't have But I've got to try I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have For you I will

For you I will

When he finally stopped, he looked a little out of breath and flushed, disoriented. He seemed to come to after a bit and looked at Kurt. "Oh right, so" "What do you mean 'oh right'?" Kurt demanded, sitting up. "Why have you never sung like this before?" "Ohwas itwas it that bad?" "Are you crazyno! You were great! You were more than greatyou could become a soloist if you wanted!" Kurt got up and went to him. "Why haven't you ever tried before?" Reed shrugged dejectedly, sitting down. "I don't know. Never really had anyone listen to me before." "What do you mean?" Reed shrugged again, picking at his coverlet. "I don't know. I mean You know my mom, right?" "Who in their right mind doesn't?" "Exactly, well sheshe doesn't really think I'd be any good at it." He fidgeted. "I mean she's heard me, of course, but she thought it wasn't that big of a deal. And coming from her, wellthat's kind of a high standard. She doesn't know I'm a Warbler either." Kurt had heard of celebrities throwing their children into showbiz, regardless of whether they had talent or not, but he had never heard of one that actually didn't want a talented child to perform. He sat next to Reed, concern written on his face. "your mother doesn't want you to sing?" "Yeah she wants me to take over her empire or be a designer or a photographer or something related to what she does. That's fine by me butI like singing. And painting. But right now singing is more relevant." "You sing, you paint, you have the most amazing taste in clothesis there anything you can't do?" Kurt smiled. "Apparently, I can't walk down a newly mopped hallway without breaking limbs," Reed grinned. "There's that," Kurt conceded. He put an arm around Reed. "Well, I thought you were great. And coming from me, of course, you can be pretty damn sure that it's a compliment." Reed laughed, leaning against him. "Thanks, Kurt. But don't you dare start pitying me nowyou better duel me up there. If you're going to kill me, you better kill me well. Or I am never going to give you anything from the Marc Jacobs winter collection." "Please, Reed," Kurt smirked in an endearingly bitchy way. "Now that I know how good

you are, I'm going to unleash every ounce of talent I've got to completely destroy you." "Fantastic. Now come help me pick a nice outfit for my burial." "Glad to." Logan stepped out of the school building, loosening his tie as he did, looking forward to returning to Stuart for a few peaceful moments before he had to go prepare for Warbler practice. "Hey, there!" "How you doing, buddy?" Two dangerously bright and happy voices came from next to him. And the next thing he knew, the twins were on either side of him, grinning. They immediately grabbed onto his shoulders started leading him to the direction of the library. "You're coming with us!" "What?" he struggled against him, but they simply pushed him onwards, hands resting on his back. "We're just going to talk!" said the other twin with that same bright, friendly tone that at times never boded well for anyone receiving it that wasn't a Windsor boarder. "Don't worry." Logan glowered at them, shrugging off their hands to no avail, but he let them lead him. He rolled his eyes as they arrived at the Library which was empty at this time in the day. Ethan sidled in first while Evan kept Logan outside. Ethan slipped up to the librarian's desk and beamed adorably, looking perfectly angelic. "Hey, Mrs. A!" "Oh helloEthan? Or Evan?" The twin laughed. "It's Ethan, Mrs. A. So anyway, Dean Ramsey told me to tell you to go to her office? Something about the list of books you requested? She said that no, we're not allowed to get the Book of the Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Darkness." "But I didn't put in" she stopped and glowered. "If it's Dwight again" She quickly picked up a clipboard and walked out of the counter. "I better go look at what else might have slipped in there. Ethan, would you keep an eye on the place? I won't be very long." "No problem, Mrs. A!" Ethan grinned, leaning on the counter. She gave him a smile and exited the door, the oaken wood swinging. When it swung back, Evan appeared in the doorway with Logan. The twins then hauled Logan across the room and deposited him onto a seat at a table facing them. They each the grabbed a chair, twirled it to place across Logan and planted a foot on it. In a swift movement, Evan turned the reading lamp upward, beaming it directly into Logan's face. They weren't smiling now. "All right, Wright. Talk." "About what?" Logan asked, rolling his eyes.

Ethan didn't bat an eye. "Snow day. Storm? Kurt? You? Together?" "Wow, you guys are insane," Logan snorted. He brushed his blazer off without hurry. "If you must know, while the both of you were breaking into the cafeteria, Kurt decided to go to the clinic wing. Which, as you know, is near Hanover. Which is the dorm furthest to yours. If I'd let him go on out to there, you both basically would be in his funeral right now." "As much as we are so deeply grateful to your attempting to help our poor sick Acting House Prefect," Evan made a saccharine smile, "we can't help but wonder if, by doing so, you were trying to help yourself more?" "I just helped both Blaine and Kurt and this is the thanks I get" Logan sighed, giving them a look that clearly showed he thought they were morons. "If I'd've known, I wouldn't have bothered." "Just tell us why you're messing with Kurt so much, Logan?" Evan smiled kindly. "Because really, we all know that deep in your black ice heart that you're not really the first person we'd go to for any semblance of random compassion." "Not after you ran your first Windsor boy off campus anyway," Ethan added with the same expression. Logan just shook his head, looking bored and annoyed. "So Blaine hasn't told you I don't blame him, it really must be bad news when you can't really do anything about it." "And tell us what, exactly?" "That I'm in love with Kurt." That got the twins' attention. They both stared at him, mixed expressions rushing over their faceswhich ranged from shock, amazement, and then precursor to fury. "Logan" said Ethan slowly, as though treading through dangerous water, "I swearif you are screwing with us" "I'm not joking," Logan said, looking at them directly. "I already told Blaine, and even he knew I was telling the truth. I'm telling you now. And at some point, I'm going to tell Kurt." "You cannot do that to Kurt," said Evan firmly, planting a hand on the table. "You have no idea what he's just been through and if you confuse him now" "I know what Kurt's been through," Logan looked annoyed. "Why do you think I still have this?" And he point s to the fading bruise around his eye. "That dumb jock who scared the ever loving hell out of him during Sectionals? Yeah, I saw him. I caught up to him. And I rather politely asked him to stay away from Kurt." "You beat him up?" "I didn't beat anyone up," Logan shot back.

"Tsk. Pity." Ethan sighed. Evan agreed. "He could've used a hitjust one." "He was the one who nearly choked me back there. If people hadn't passed by, I think I'd have more than just a black eye, but then he would be in crutches.But no. I don't stoop to punching people who already have too little brain cells to lose." Evan leaned back and looked at his brother. "Starting to think he's telling the truth a little bit." Logan glared at them. Ethan glanced absently at him and said, "No, Logan, the I-canruin-your-lives glare doesn't work on us, remember? We're all standing on the same platform here." He looked to Evan. "Me too, starting to think he is." The twins looked at him. "You can go." Logan just snorted and picked up his bag, heading for the door. Before he could open it, however, Evan said, "Hey Logan." The prefect stopped. Ethan gazed silently at him. "Given your previous colorful history of damage in Windsor affairs, if at any point Blaine and Kurt get really hurt by your antics we may not be able to remain as civil." "We were ever civil?" Logan raised an eyebrow, gave them a nod, and left.

What do they have to worry about? Logan thought inwardly as he walked off to Stuart. Kurt won't even look at me. All he sees is Blaine. And it's really starting to tick me off.
"For first lead" Sylvia looked down at her sheet of paper. "Logan and Blaine will duel again." Murmuring in the Warblers' hall. Logan had dueled twice nowdid it mean he was getting back on his feet? Blaine remained the rational choice, however. "And for second lead" This made them look up. They seldom had second leads and not even they knew so much about it. Sylvia smiled, "It'll be Kurt" sound of approving murmurs, Kurt beaming, "and Reed." This was followed by surprise and confusion. Reed wilted back onto his seat, but Kurt threw him a reassuring glance. Sylvia said, "The four of them have until tomorrow. Then they will perform, and you all will vote." "Whoa, Reed," Wes said, looking at his friend with a grin. "You're going to duel?" "Yeah, man, we've never heard you before," David agreed. "Speaking as someone who heard and with a very discerning ear" Kurt said importantly before giving Reed a smile, "I think he's a worthy opponent."

"Ooh, I definitely have to see that," said Wes, nodding with a grin. "Now let's just hope Blaine's well enough by tomorrow to do anything," David remarked. "I'll go see him later," said Kurt. "I'll make sure he eats and drinks his medication." "How about you give him a nice warm snuggle?" Wes suggested, and David's snorts were checked by Kurt's glares. "So it's kind of like a date?" Reed said with a grin. "You bring dinner to him, don't you? And you eat there too?" Kurt colored to his scalp. "It is not a datehe's ill, you all need therapy." "I think the Florence Nightingale gig looks cute on you, Kurt," said David with a laugh. "Shh!" Kurt elbowed him when Sylvia looked their way. Sylvia gave them all a look before saying, "Everyone, I expect all of you to practice tirelessly. Distinguished guests and alumni are coming to the Winter Fest, and I'd like them all to see you at your very best. You'll want to really shine herethese people can really help you." The boys nodded. "That said: this is an open event. We have made the necessary arrangements and have sent your parents their invitations." Kurt's eyes went big. Burt and Carolecoming to campus? On Winter Fest? "Our parents? Here?" "Isn't this great?" said the twins, draping their arms over Kurt's shoulders. "We get to see the wonderful people who raised us" Snort. "This should be good." Reed bit his nails anxiously and Kurt fidgeted. "Now everyone, please rise." Greg said, coming in. "Positions please." As he did, Sylvia went up to Kurt and touched his arm and Reed's. "If you boys would like a hint it would be nice if you sang a duet with someone, just so we could see how effective you would be as a partner."

A duet with someone? Kurt wondered. And then he wondered, heat rising to his face, MaybeI can ask Blaine to sing with me?
"Oh and Kurt," said Sylvia, whispering to him with a smile. "Try and add a littleglitz. Like New Directions does. It might be nice to have something different." "All right" Kurt nodded, thinking. So it's a duetwith some pizzazz then he realized that Burt and Carole would be watching. Would he be able to duet with Blaine at all? "Kurt," Reed tugged on his sleeve anxiously. "Don't look now, but Logan's looked at you." Kurt sighed deeply.

When he said he wanted someone to notice, he didn't think it would be this much.

Episode 10: Answers

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. The Warblers and I are working towards the Winter Music Festival, where we'll perform in front of everyone and our parents. No pressure right there. I'm to perform my first duel for a solo, and it's against Reed. Whoever wins will take lead with whoever wins between Logan and Blaine. And it all comes down to today.
The morning of the duels found Kurt up early and in the kitchen making pancakes. There was breakfast in the Dining Hall, but he wanted to stay in the warmth of the House. It was snowing softly outside. After the snow day confinement, Dwight had been very twitchy about snowflakes coming down, while the other boys were incorrigible and ran out the moment they saw the drifts. He was singing softly to himself, in French, as he cooked, looking almost unbearably quaint as he did so.

Les rves des amoureux sont comme le bon vin Ils donnent de la joie ou bien du chagrin Affaibli par la faim je suis malheureux Volant en chemin tout ce que je peux Car rien n'est gratuit dans la vie
The young man leaning by the door was smiling as he watched. Finally, he decided to speak up. "Le Festin? You? Seriously?" Kurt looked up and laughed. "Well you have to admit, it's a little bit fitting. That, and due to severe training, I now have the unbearable ability to get even French songs stuck in my head." "You're up early," said Blaine, coming into the kitchen, attracted by the smell of actual cooking. It felt as though every other time he found a reason to be there, it was because of black smoke or pungent smells. Some of the boys in Windsor simply didn't know how to exist without a staff waiting on them. Only a handful of them were actually domesticated. Kurt just smiled. "Yeah. I guess I got a little too excited." "First duel," Blaine nodded with an understanding grin. He walked up to the counter, resting his guitar onto the side of the stool. Kurt smiled and handed him a plate of pancakes. "Thanks." "What's with the guitar?" Kurt asked, smiling a bit.

Blaine shrugged. "I've been up late rehearsing, actually Seeing as how you and Reed barely even stopped singing into the night." He smirked as Kurt looked embarrassed. "Sorry I guess we both are just a little more anxious about dueling than we'd care to admit. WellReed more than me." Kurt sat, sighing. "He is actually really good, you know. He doesn't have my range or my, welldiva but he's, you knowcharming." He shrugged. "And at the same time, it's my first one too. The last time you guys have heard me sing was when I auditioned, so I think I have some expectations to surpass." "I know what you mean" Blained laughed. "You know, I could barely sleep back before my first one. I felt beating Wes and David for convincing me to go through with it. But I went and sang anyway." "What did you sing?" Blaine smiled, leaning forward onto the counter. "You want to hear it?" Kurt blinked, pleasantly surprised. He leaned behind him and turned off the stove. He faced Blaine again, who was strapping on his guitar, and Kurt leaned forward. "Let's hear it, then." "You remember what I told you?" Blaine said as he adjusted, "About the situation I was in, which was why I came here?" "Yeah" "Well, it kind of comes from that. What I might have wanted to hear AndI've been thinking maybe I ought to have sung this to you at some point. Just tojust to help, I mean." He made an awkward cough turning red. "I know it's been rough on you and the song isI mean not really in the sense thatwell" He waved it off. "In any case, just listen to it." Kurt flushed. He turned his eyes away for a moment, and then glanced back as Blaine started to play, guitar strums being the only sound in the morning air. The older boy carefully lifted his eyes to him, and began to sing.

I've been alone Surrounded by darkness and I've seen how heartless The world can be And I've seen you crying You felt like it's hopeless I'll always do my best To make you see

Kurt sat gazing at Blaine with wonder as he sang. It wasn't just his voice, or how well he playedit was his music and his words that reached out to him.

Baby you're not alone 'Cause you're here with me And nothing's ever gonna bring us down 'Cause nothing can keep me from lovin' you And you know it's true It don't matter what'll come to be Our love is all we need to make it through
Blaine flashed him a small smile as he sang and Kurt flushed to the roots of his hair. He ducked his gaze, smiling. At least now, he had no doubts. He was the only person in the room, and Blaine was singing to him. He was singing a song just for him.

Now I know it ain't easy But it ain't hard trying Every time I see you smiling And I feel you so close to me Tell me
Kurt bit his lip to stop from smiling any more than he already was. Blaine seemed to enjoy this, and grinned at him bit more. Distantly, he wondered if this was how the boys felt whenever their girlfriends sang to them. He lifted his eyes and met Blaine's again.

Now I still have trouble I trip and stumble Trying to make sense of things some times I look for reasons But I don't need 'em All I need is to look in your eyes And I realize Baby you're not alone

'Cause you're here with me

As the song started to come to a close, Kurt was simply unable to keep his eyes off him. Blaine hadn't been looking at him the whole time, but at some point in the end, as he ended the song, he caught Kurt's gaze again and it remained there. In the silence that followed, Blaine smiled and rested his hand on the counter. His fingertips lay just inches away from Kurt's. The other boy just stared at him. After a few moments of this, Blaine smiled a bit more. "Well? Aren't you going to say anything?" Kurt came to. "Ohyeah, I mean It was" What does a person say after hearing something like that? He felt like Finn, looking for words, and he simply found none that sufficed. There was too much to say and too little time to think. So he just laughed a little and said, "Wellif you sang that, then you definitely must've won." "I did, yeah," Blaine admitted. "That was my "dueling" song for last year's Music Fest. And it got me my spot as lead." He put down the guitar. "Of course I can't sing that again this year. Still trying to work that out." Kurt gazed at him for a moment, deliberating within himself what he was about to do. But it was Blaine and that songhe felt as though he just wanted to keep that song and that kind of moment just for himself. If he couldn't have Blaine as a boyfriend, as a lover couldn't he have just that? And maybe "Please sing with me." Blaine looked up, surprised. Kurt forced a laugh. "UhI just Well Medel told me that if I planned on really getting some leverage, I should sing duet. I mean because everyone does a solo and the point of the two leads is for a duet. It would make sense to duel as a pair. Right?" He sure hoped so, because he was pretty sure he was just nonchalantly rambling on by now. He looked at Blaine, who seemed to be considering this. He quickly said, "It's just an idea. I've seen how you and Logan look like you prefer to personally rip each other's throats off and I wouldn't want to get in the crossfire." "Nothing that severe." Blaine smiled. "The duet idea, though sounds great. I've never actually seen anyone duel like that and it soundsinteresting." He grinned. "That, and I'd love to sing with you." "Great!" Kurt exhaled as though he felt all life would exit him at that moment. "We're set, then." "Good." Blaine stood up, picking up the guitar. "Talk about it on the way to class?" "Sure," Kurt nodded. Blaine grinned and left, closing the kitchen door behind him. As soon as he was gone, Kurt sank his head onto the tile countertop in relief. I can't believe I asked. And I believe he said he'd do it! Alright then, Whoever-Is-Up-There-If-There-isEven-Anyoneyou get a point.

From where he had closed the door, Blaine walked to the entrance hall, leaned back on the wall and groaned as he slid down it onto the floor. "great job, Blaine," he muttered. "Sing to him and all that." "Would you like to hear it?" I said. He looked like someone hit him in the face! With a million other songs on the planet, it had to be that one. And then he asked me to duet. Wow, there goes all my concentration for the rest of the day He groaned. "I thought I said I wasn't going to do this?" He heard a sound. He knew that soundit was the sound of slush dripping onto the floor. He slowly looked up from where he was, praying to anyone listening up there that it was not what he thought it was. Wes, David and the twins stood there along with some other Windsor boys, still in their wet coats and shoes, each and every single one smirking mercilessly at him. Blaine stared. "please tell methat you did not hear all of that." "We've actually been here since the song," said Wes sweetly. "We found it unbelievably charming of you, Blaine," added David. Evan was grinning from ear to ear, "And of course you'll have our Alice" he took his twin's hand, gave him a dramatic dance twirl and Ethan pretended to faint into his arms, "falling into your arms in no time!" "Oh for the love of!" Blaine just ducked as the boys in the hall exploded into laughter and catcalls. "Kurt, you're starting to worry me," Reed said, raising an eyebrow as he sat with Kurt in the sunny cafeteria during lunch period. "You haven't stopped smiling all morning and I think that's why Murdoch gave us so much homework!" "What are you talking about?" Kurt answered, giving him an incredulous look. He stabbed at his salad. "I haven't been acting differently," he added, glancing to the door. "Waiting for someone?" Reed smirked as he observed. "Justwondering about the other guys, they should be here by now. Where are they?" "Oh" Reed sighed. "They're hatching a plan." "For what?" Kurt asked, looking at him. "Oh, it's Dwight's birthday," Reed answered. "Apparently, he locks himself up when that happens, so the others coax him out with somepersuasion." Kurt wasn't sure about what to think of that, but said nothing. He smiled at Reed. "So, are you ready?" "I think so" Reed fidgeted. "I've just really been practicing."

"I know, I heard you. You'll do fine." Kurt rolled his eyes. "Don't be so nervous." Reed smirked. "I heard about you and Blaine dueling with a duet, you know. Are you nervous?" Kurt choked on his latte but shot him an incredulous look. "Why should I be?" "Because you like him? And that if you lose you won't get to sing opposite him?" Reed grinned. "Honestly, KurtI don't see why you and he won't just come out with it." "I understand that we've already come out." "I'm serious," said Reed. "I think Blaine likes you." "We're friends, Reed," Kurt sighed after swallowing a bite of lettuce. "And he justhe's more like a teacher to me than a boyfriend." "Doesn't change the fact that you want him to be your boyfriend," Reed said happily. Kurt rolled his eyes. "Ha ha, very funny." "Well you like him, he likes you, you're going to sing together. I can hardly wait." "And you are about to have your first solo, Reed. And that, I would like to see." "Dwight!" "Dwight!" The voices pounding at his door sounded terrified and desperate. Instantly grabbing his holy water spray and pulling on a few more pendants, he grabbed a bag of blessed rock salt and shoved it into his pocket before running to the door, tearing it open. "What? What? What's happening?" "Dwight" David looked like he was going to die, he was breathing so hard and he was white in the face. "Dwight, you know the old greenhouse at the West Corner? Where the low fence going into the wood is?" "Yeah" Dwight turned pale, hands turning cold. "Well" Wes gulped, gasping for air, "David and Itwins dared us to get that statuette in the fountain" Dwight looked horrified. "The replica of Angel Uriel?" "That oneWes hehe grabbed it" And here Wes held up a small stone statue of a female angel with wings, looking time worn. Dwight backed away from it like it was radioactive. "And then all this black stuff started to pour into the fountain!" Wes cried, flailing the statue around. " What do we do, Dwight? What's happening?" "You unlocked a seal, that's what!" Dwight howled back, furious. "How many times do I

have to tell you people to not move any ornament more than fifteen years old in this campus? Stay there!" He ducked back into his room to grab his emergencies-only stash of some of the most formidable weapons against malignant specters. He didn't see Wes and David shoot each other a look. They looked pale and scared when Dwight turned back to them. "All right, take me to that fountain and tell me where exactly and what position you found the statuette in." He grabbed it from Wes' hand and carefully wrapped it. "Whatyou're going out there?" David gasped. "Don't do it, Dwight! What if there's something dangerous in that water?" "I have to go," Dwight said seriously, in the tone of a warrior on a noble cause. "I mean, it's scary as hell and I'm totally about to wet my pants as we speak, but if I can't let whatever it is take the campus! It's what the Winchesters would've done!" And with a dramatic flounce of his coat, he ran down the hall. David and Wes looked at each other and grinned. They ran down the hall after him, David muttering into his cufflink. "All right, boys, the Auror is out of the Ministry. It's all yours." Dwight threw himself outside Windsor doors, with Wes and David running after him, the doors swinging open as they went. Silence fell in Windsor. The two doors swung backward to reveal the twins standing behind them with identical Cheshire grins. Evan said, "Wes and David aren't bad." "No, they are not," Ethan agreed. The twins glanced behind them and Ethan took out a walkie talkie. "Alright, boys! Bring it all in! Set it all up!" A veritable mass of men started pouring into Windsor, carrying massive party decorations, drinks, food, furnishings and the like. The Windsor boys in the dorm started to help out as well, hauling things indoors. Everything looked rather dark and menacing, and when Blaine walked in, looking confused, he turned to the twins. "I thought we were going to do Left 4 Dead." "We decided that would be too easy for Dwight," said Evan happily. "So Silent Hill it is." "You should see our animatronic Pyramid Head," grinned Ethan, ignoring the mass of people milling around. "And the waitresses who look like the nurses." "And the peeling flesh walls." "And I can't wait for him to find the eyeballs in the bloody punch." "I don't know if you're trying to make him happy or trying to kill him with fright," said Blaine, shaking his head as he headed upstairs. "Tell Wes and David not to go overboard." "Well, they won't be back until practicethey're going to send Dwight on a wild goose

chase first to kill time until we all get out of Warblers." The twins looked up at him, "Aren't you joining the fun, Acting Prefect?" "I'll catch up," he answered. "I have to go rehearse with Kurt for the duel." "You're talking about singing with him, though, right?" grinned Evan. "Not intercourse?" "You kissed him yet?" Ethan yelled. "You keep looking at his lips when he talks!" "I hope you both choke on an insect-coated candy apple!" Blaine called cheerily back from upstairs. The twins grinned and checked their lists. "We did get some of those, right?" Blaine and Kurt were walking down the corridors after their rehearsal, in the hall. They were rather certain that it would be something interesting, at least, for all the Warblers. It was Blaine who suggested doing a bit of theatrics for the song, sensing that was what Medel was looking for after her hint of pizzazz to Kurt. It was Kurt who chose the song, saying that he'd wanted to try it out just once, but never found a partner willing to do it. All the same, they both found something in the song that meant something to them, though they decided not to tell the other this. Practice had been done with very little of the acting, nevertheless. The real game begins during duels. The Warblers arrived all present and early to the hall in recognition of the duel's magnitude. With a battle between Blaine and Logan, and then one between Kurt and Reed, it promised to be quite a spectacle. A few Hanover Warblers claimed hearing Blaine and Kurt singingbut only one song. The moment Kurt walked in, someone grabbed his elbow. It was Logan. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" he asked. Kurt stared up at himhe had seen that look in his eyes before. It was during Sectionals, when he asked to be trusted. Apprehensive, Kurt glanced to Blaine a moment. "Um" Blaine stared hard a Logan, looked at Kurt and said, "I'll wait with the others." Kurt nodded. And though Blaine may have walked to where a tired-looking Wes and David sat, he kept his eyes on the two talking low in the corner of the Hall. "What's that about?" asked David. "I don't know," Blaine answered, gazing at them. At the corner, Logan looked at Kurt and said, "I wanted to formally apologize I didn't get to back when we talked during the storm." "Apologize for what?" Kurt inquired, crossing his arms. "Forexploding. During Sectionals. I just" Logan sighed and gestured helplessly. "I get angry. Really easily."

Kurt's expression remained neutral. Logan swallowed and continued, "I shouldn't have accused you without knowing what was going onbut you have to admit, you did the same to me. Everything you've heard about me is still second-hand information." "Logan" Kurt shook his head, shifting his weight. "One chance, Kurt," Logan said, looking intently at him. "Please. please don't let me be too late." "Too late to what?" Kurt asked, confused. Logan looked at him with grim determination. He reached out and took one of Kurt's hands. "KurtI know you're not going to believe me, because quite frankly, I don't either but hear me out. I have to tell you something." Kurt looked at him, thoroughly unsure of what was going on, but at that instant, Harvey walked in. "All right everyone. Please settle down." Logan clenched his fist but said nothing. He released Kurt immediately. Blaine was halfway to getting out of his seat, but he sat back down when he saw Kurt head back towards where they were sitting. "What did he want?" asked David as soon as Kurt sat with them. "Just to talk," Kurt said, still confused. "He said he wanted to tell me something." Blaine turned immediately to Logan, who was not looking at him. Sylvia walked to the piano and Greg took control, looking over the mass of the boys waiting for the singing battle. "All right. Without further ado, let's begin the duels. Will Logan, Blaine, Kurt and Reed come forward please?" Reed made a barely heard sound of surrender. Kurt grinned and grabbed his friend's hand, pulling him towards the front. Logan and Blaine followed, and they each drew a marble from the bag held out by the choir director. Logan once again earned the red marble. He would go first. "We begin with the first soloists," said Greg with a nod. As Logan went to the front, taking his spot, he kept his eyes on Kurt long enough for Kurt to be aware that he was doing this on purpose. Logan sat on the piano and seemed to consider what he was about to do for a moment, before laying his hands on the keys and beginning to play. His playing was flawless as they had always been, but there was a new emotion in his vocal tone.

I saw you there

And looked you straight between the eyes And said I'm leaving And I don't care And I don't know if they were lies But I don't need them Cause standing still Isn't easy When the world's moving backwards The world's moving backwards So get your fill But please believe me That the world's moving backwards The world's moving backwards
The Warblers were pleasantly surprised. Even Wes had to admit that after the blatant forwardness of the Aerosmith song he had sung last time, there was a subtle message in this rendition of a Ben Rector song, and sung marvelously with the use of words and the color of Logan's tones. This wasn't lost on Kurt, who was deep in thought. Was this what Logan was trying to say? Was he trying to apologize after what happened? Their eyes met.

So I pray that you'll give me grace if you can hear me That you'll give me grace if you can hear me And I pray that you'll give us grace if you can hear me You'll give us grace You'll give us grace You'll give us grace
At the high note, the Warblers sat up, looking deeply fascinated, some of them starting to smile with exclamations of impressed voices. This was definitely the Logan who was their lead singer from many performances ago. Blaine simply kept watching neutrally. "Got his game face on," David nodded, Reed biting his nails.

Kurt watched, somehow impressed by such a performance.

Cause standing still Isn't easy When the world's moving backwards The world's moving backwards So get your fill But please believe me That the world's moving backwards The world's moving backwards
The song came to a close. As soon as the last delicate notes faded, the Hall burst into applause with more conviction than last time. Greg and Sylvia also applauded, congratulating him with their eyes. Logan smiled at the others, turned to Kurt and nodded. Kurt sighed and nodded back slightly, clapping for him as well. He did do more wonderfully than he'd heard before. So this is the Logan they talk about Sylvia stood again. "Blaine? It's your turn." "Ms Medel?" Blaine said as he rose with Kurt, "if you all don't mind Kurt and I have planned to perform together." The Warblers nearly broke their necks with how fast they turned at this, looking up at him in surprise. Even Logan looked stunned from where he sat. The two professors seemed to discuss for a moment, and then nodded. Greg looked at the two. "Proceed." Kurt and Blaine gave each other relieved glances and proceeded to go up front. Blaine hurried up to Sylvia and whispered something to her. She looked surprised, but nodded and turned to the piano. She would play for them. Then Kurt and Blaine stood apart from each other, on either end of the performance area, the lights dimming for a moment, under Wesley's control. When Sylvia began to play, a soft light came on to Blaine as he looked up and began to sing, "I should tell you I'm disaster I forget how to begin it" Kurt appeared into the spot of light, taking Blaine's hand carefully, looking at him in pleading, concerned, "Let's just make this part go faster I have yet to be in it... I should tell you" "I should tell you" Blaine reached up and held Kurt's hands. "I should tell you" Kurt glanced away a moment.

"I should tell you" In the minds of all the Warblersone word flashed: Rent. Blaine and Kurt were performing Rent. Everyone immediately sat up to pay stunned attention to the pair in front of them, performing Roger and Mimi's duet. As the Windsor boys' jaws dropped, not having expected this, Logan's heart sank at the realization. Kurt sang, looking up at Blaine, "I should tell I blew the candle out just to get back in" "I'd forgotten how to smile until your candle burned my skin" Blaine admitted with a faint smile. "I should tell you" "I should tell you" "I should tell you" "I should tell you" their voices came together in harmony, rising in hope, looking intently at each other, standing close. The light began to illuminate the room again. They were almost smiling, nervous, hopeful, afraid: "Well here we gonow we" "oh no" Kurt lowered his eyes. Blaine tried to catch his eye again, making him look up at him. "I knowthis something is here goes" "Here goes" Kurt began to smile, Blaine doing the same. "Guess soIt's starting toWho knows" "Who knows" Hands held, their voices began to rise again, filling the room: "Who knows whereWho goes thereWho knowsHere goes" Blaine released Kurt's hands and they almost dance as they move, singing to one another. "Trusting desirestarting to learn

Walking through fire without a burn ClingingA shoulder a leap begins Stinging and older , asleep on pins So here we go"

The song softly began to close, their hands carefully holding as they stood in front of one another. "Who knows where - who goes there

Here goes - Here goes"

Silence fell in the room as the song ended. The two in the middle stared at each other, as though lost for just one moment. Then they seemed to come to their senses and tore their gazes away with awkward smiles. The Warblers were all in shock at the unprecedented performance. Kurt and Blaine looked up at them, blinking into the light. And then Sylvia leapt to her feet, losing all propriety in spite of herself, and began clapping. The Warblers erupted into applause and laughterwith some of the obligatory cheers, hoots and catcalls. "Yeah!" Wes yelled, clapping hard as David laughed. "That's a performance!" Bright scarlet, Kurt dropped his gaze a little, laughing softly to himself. He glanced to Blaine and saw him grinning back at him. "We did say all or nothing" Blaine said. Kurt nodded with a laugh and the two made deeply exaggerated bows to their teammates. Kurt pretended to wave them on as they pretended to throw flowers. Blaine just stood and laughed, bowing deeply to the others. "All right, settle, settle" Greg smirked at them. He looked at Blaine and Kurt, saying, "You two certainly put on somethingnew" The two just grinned up at him. Greg now looked up. "Which brings us to the final competitor, another first-timerReed." The Warblers all turned to look at the boy who looked pale with fright. Kurt got up and gave him a hug before urging him on. Some of the boys clapped encouragingly. Each of them had been waiting for this, hoping to hear Reed sing solo for the first time. They had always heard him as chorus vocal, and this was his defining moment. Reed was intimidated by Logan, Blaine and Kurt, but his friends in Windsor nodded encouragingly at him, and he smiled tremulously. He was unnerved and it was obvious. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. He hesitated for so long that Greg and Sylvia looked at each other, rather concerned. In a burst of inspiration, Blaine suddenly got up and snatched up an acoustic guitar from the instrument rack. He ran to the front and asked Reed something, and Reed answered. Blaine nodded and motioned for Wes and David to come down. The three of them prepared to back Reed up, smiling at him. Reed laughed a little, grateful, and turned to the audience with a bit more confidence. As the music started, he deep breath, and began to sing.

I'm driving around town

Kinda bored with the windows rolled down See a girl on the bus stop bench Dressed to draw attention Hoping everyone will stare If she don't stand out she thinks she'll disappear Wish I could hold her, tell her, show her What she wants is already there
Kurt was smiling so much he couldn't stop if he tried. He watched as Reed smiled up at his teammates and continued to sing the country song with his own tones and take on the words.

A star is a star It doesn't have to try to shine Water will fall A bird just knows how to fly You don't have to tell a flower how to bloom Or light how to fill up a room You already are what you are And what you are is beautiful
And Kurt realized, the song was meant for Reed himself. He was singing it for his sake, as he enjoyed the thing he loved the most at this momentsinging. Even the other Warblers could feel the conviction in his voice, and, moved by the music that Blaine, Wes and David were playing, were starting to move along to the beat unconsciously.

(You'd say) Gravity is gravity It doesn't try to pull you down Stone is stone It can't help but hold its ground The wind just blows, though you can't see It's everywhere like I'll always be You already are what you are

And what you are is strong enough

The song came to an end. And the Warblers burst into the loudest applause of the day yet, with Blaine, Kurt and even Logan, applauding along with everyone else. They cheered and threw music sheets. "Damn, Reed, good job! Yeah! Way to go, Reed! Encore, encore!" Reed stood in the middle of it all, looking as though he were about to cry, smiling up at them. The Windsor boys descended on him, grabbing him into hugs and patting his shoulders heavily. Reed just laughed, shaking his head. Sylvia looked like a mother who just saw her child walkingastonished and delighted. "Reed, we had no idea!" she exclaimed. Greg nodded, smiling a little and clapping along with the other boys before saying, "All rightall of you. Settle down, settle down. A great job from all of youeach one bringing something different. Now it's time for the Warblers to decide who gets to be first and second lead." Reed sat back down next to Kurt and the two of them grinned at each other. "We have come to the vote," said Sylvia. But she looked strange, as though trying not to laugh. "We have our first and second leads," said Greg, who kept the poker face up better than she did. Kurt looked around and saw that a lot of the Warblers were grinning ear to ear, jostling each other's elbows as though they knew an inside joke. Kurt looked at Blaine, who just shrugged, not knowing either. Greg cleared his throat. "As it would appear from the names written on the votes Our first and second leads are" He looked at the slip of paper and held it out, as though evidence. "Kurt and Reed." The room burst into cheers of triumph as the boys leapt from their seats. "What?" burst out Kurt, looking around in confusion at the announcement. "Waithow is that possible?" "Mr. HarveyKurt and I are both second lead!" said Reed, looking utterly blown away. "Why are we the pair?" "Why don't you ask them?" Harvey sighed, motioning to the cheering boysBlaine and Logan could do no more than just laugh at this. "When Sylvia and I were checking the slips, they all had the name of the first and second they voted for, but underneath, everyone wrote "but if you could make it Kurt and Reed, then it's them"." "What?" Kurt looked at the twins, who were falling to the floor in laughter. Evan was gasping for air. "I knew they'd bite! I knew it!"

"We figured the two of you would look adorable onstage together!" said Ethan. "Alice and the Dormouse! This should be awesome!" "We told everyonethey loved the idea!" "No offense, though, Blaine, they loved your performance," said Ethan quickly. "But you've got to admit, our two first-timers knocked it out of the ballpark and they should get at least a shot." "Besides, you and Logan have gotten the lead so many times" More near-hysteric laughter followed, leading Kurt to question all their sanities. He looked at Reed, who just looked befuddled, and said, "Wewe're performing in front for the Winter FestI don't believe it." It was dark and the Warblers trooped out to their Houses respectively, still talking about what they could make two small soloists "do" for the fest, which included having them sing all sorts of girl band songs. Kurt shook his headwhen he fantasized about getting the lead, he didn't think it would be this way. And because it was Dwight's birthday, Windsor felt generous enough to invite Stuart and Hanover over to their house for the celebration. When Dwightafter being misled by many many clues that had been left for him around campus by Wes, David and the Twins (it was supposedly an "ancient puzzle" that unlocks secrets within school)finally managed to get back to the house, he looked furious. Until "Happy Birthday, Dwight!" the entire group yelled as the draggled spiritualist walked in. The entire house was frankly terrifyingit looked like something out of Silent Hill all right, with the twins sparing no expense. Dwight stood, staring with wide eyes and looking shell shocked. "Whatthehell" he gaped. The Windsor boys scooped him up and started tossing him around the crowd. "Give him to Pyramid Head!" some of the boys started yelling. And the celebrant, who was both happy and horrified, was yelling as they led him near the giant animatronic monster. "How can they still have all that energy?" Kurt wondered aloud. Blaine, who stood next to him, said, "We don't think they're human anymore." "They? Aren't you one of them?" Kurt grinned. "So are you," Blaine laughed. "Fair enough." Kurt got up from the couch, hoping to get some punch when he felt his

phone vibrate. It was a message from Mercedes.

Kurt, meet me outside, ASAP.

"What is it?" asked Blaine. "It's Mercedesshe wants to see me outside. She's out by the gate, I guess." Kurt's brow furrowed. "It's a bit late, isn't it?" said Blaine, concerned. "Want me to come with you?" "No, I'll go see her, it might be important or private or something." Kurt immediately grabbed his coat, leaving his things on the couch. "Are you sure?" asked Blaine. "Yeah! Be back with her." Kurt fled the house. Blaine was a little worried at the suddenness of the visit, but he looked around and spotted Logan among the guests, and for some reason, that eased his mind somewhat. At least Logan didn't follow Kurt outside. He tried to control the madness in the house for a few moments until he realized it was futile and let the boys throw the candy eyeballs around. His own phone started to ring, and he picked it up. "Hello?" "Blaine? This is Rachel! I got your number from Mercedes! It's an emergency and Kurt isn't" "Rachel? WaitKurt already left to see" "Kurt's not answering his phone! Blaine, Mercedes said that she forgot her phone on the courtyardand Mike just told me that he saw it" Blaine's blood turned ice cold. "with Karofsky!"

Episode 11: Boundaries

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. I just won the lead in our next performance in the Warblers. And so did my friend Reed. We were celebrating Dwight's birthday, winding down the long day. But if you had told me that this was going to happen before the night was out
I would've never believed you. "Hey, Mercedesdon't forget to invite Kurt over for a Christmas party, okay?" Tina said as the Glee club ended practice and we packing up. Practice ran latethey had been doing Christmas songs. They had the distinct feeling that Schuester was going to strut them out and make them go caroling. "Yeah, he might want to come along when we crash Mr. Schuester's house," Puck added, putting away his guitar. "Breaking and entering is part of the Christmas spirit now?" Quinn raised an eyebrow. "Come on, you guys, Mr. Schuester's divorced and Ms. Pillsbury got married," Rachel said, straightening up the music sheets. "It's Christmas and no one should be alone." "I'm definitely sure that he'll be on boardyou know he can't stay away," Mercedes grinned. "Hang on, let me go call him or something." She fished inside her bag as the boys pushed back the chairs. She rummaged around with a frown until she muttered, "Where the heck is my phone?" "You were holding it back at the courtyard during lunch," Artie said, blinking. "Where'd you put it?" Mercedes groaned. "I took out my sheet music because Rachel kept saying that she's the only one who could hit the high note. I think I must've put it down there and forgot to pick it up after the football team slushied us for the second time." "Ughdon't remind me, I still have food coloring behind my ears," Tina grumbled. Mike suddenly spoke up, "In the courtyard?" He looked a bit lost in thought. "Is it silver with a bling dangle with the letter M?" "Yes!" said Mercedes, looking up. "You found it?" Mike looked uncomfortable. Tina looked at him. "What?" After a terse pause, Mike said, "I was in the locker roomI heard the other guys talking. I saw Karofsky at his locker, and he had that phoneI thought it was weird that he did, it wasn't even his initials"

"Karofsky has my phone?" Mercedes demanded. "Look, slushies are one thing, but if he knew that was my phone, then that's just stealing" "Why would he take your phone?" Santana snorted. Quinn looked back at Sam. "Can you make him give it back?" "I could," Puck said with a growl, getting up. "I'm the only one allowed to steal from you guys." "Waitwait, you guys!" Rachel suddenly exclaimed, making them all look at her. She was white as a sheet and staring far off, looking as though something just occurred to her. "He's got something in his head. You guys, you said it yourselveswhy would he take that phone?" "Because he's a douchebag?" Puck suggested. "Not that!" Rachel was digging through her bag frantically. "Mercedestell me you know that guy's number. You knowthat guy from Dalton Kurt's always with." "Blaine?" Mercedes looked confused as she looked down to her notes. "Yeah, I wrote it down when Kurt gave it to mewhy?" Rachel looked up, a grim look on her face. "I don't know if I'm being neurotic after watching all those splatter films with Finn, but I'm not taking any chances." She was drumming her fingers nervously onto the piano. She made an impatient, anxious noise. "Kurt's not answering his phone. Mercedes, give me that number." "What? What's going on?" Mercedes handed it to her, confused. "What are you doing, Rachel?" Finn finally asked, brow furrowed as he walked up to the others. Rachel looked at him, swallowing hard as she punched in the number and held the phone to her ear. "Mercedes is the one who's always in contact with Kurt. And...and I just have this terrible feeling that Karofsky may have stolen that phone to find him." "What?" Finn turned pale. "Blaine? This is Rachel. I got your number from Mercedes! It's an emergency and Kurt isn't" In the silence of the room, they heard the boy on the other end answer, confused. "Rachel? WaitKurt already left to see" "Kurt's not answering his phone!" Rachel blurted out. "Blaine, Mercedes said that she forgot her phone on the courtyardand Mike just told me that he saw itwith Karofsky!" The silence on the other end told them everything. "Blaine, please tell me Kurt's there," Rachel whispered. There was the hiss of a curse and then: "He's goneKurt's gone, he" his voice was shaking,"he thought he got a text fromI'm going now" And the line died.

Finn came to life and sprinted out of the room at full speed, with Puck and Mike tearing after him. "Let's go, come on!" Rachel cried as the girls rushed after them. Dalton had its very own charm at night. With all of its archaic architecture, ornamental gardens that transformed during the seasons, it was dim without being foreboding (as opposed to Dwight's claims that mentioned that Dalton looked like the college out of the Exorcism of Emily Rose at night). Hurrying through the crisp winter air, past ornate lamps that lit the Dalton walkways in their orange glow, Kurt looked around frantically for any sign of his friend. "Mercedes!" he called. He ran along the South and Main, hoping to spot her somewhere at the iron railings or gates. He hugged his coat closer onto himself, squinting in the wind and into the gloom. "Mercedes, where are you?" He dug into his pockets to look for his phone, until he realized that he must have left it on the couch back at Windsor with his other things. He groaned and rolled his eyes. "Great" He resumed his brisk stride, jogging along the path to warm himself somewhat. "Mercedes!" he called as he came up to one of the annex buildings. "Hey, what is going on he" A figure in a familiar jacket came around the annex building corner. Kurt's heart plunged and he skidded to a stop with a gasp, paralyzed. Karofsky was striding up to him with an intent look on his face. With a choke, Kurt turned to run. A powerful, vise-like grip closed onto his elbow and pulled him back with great strength. Kurt nearly flew off his feet as Karofsky grabbed him back and pulled him around the dark corner, shoving him right onto the ivy-covered brick walls. Before Kurt could even take a breath, a large hand clapped over his mouth. "Shh!" came the urgent hiss. "Be quiet!" Kurt's words were stifled down into a whimper as Karofsky bore down at him, pinning down one of his wrists. The larger boy glowered down at him. "Don't. Scream." He looked at him intently, eyes hard. "I'm not here for what you think, Hummel. But if you scream, so help me, I'll" "Kurt!" Kurt's eyes went wide as he heard Blaine's voice carrying from across grounds, over the wind. Karofsky looked up. From where they were, they were out of view, but they could hear the sound of feet running over the grounds. "Kurt, where are you?" Blaine was crying out desperately from the distance. "Kurt!" Wes and David's footfalls were sounding after Blaine's, alarmed. "Kurt, where are you, man?" "This way!" he heard one of the twins say. Kurt choked out from where he was, looking up at Karofsky in terror.

"I think I heard something!" Even Logan was running. Karofsky immediately turned back to Kurt and grabbed his shoulder, keeping his hand on his mouth. He pushed him into a dark alcovelike a dead end alleybetween two buildings, where everything was pitch black. "Kurt, where are you!" Blaine cried over the dark. His heart was in his throat pounding so hard he felt that he would throw up if a matter of minutes. He saw nothing over the groundsno movement. Kurt had just evaporated into thin air after walking out of Windsor. When Rachel had said that terrible name over the phone, he thought he was having heart failure. He hissed a curse under his breath as the worst scenarios came flying through his mind. It must have shown on his face and on his entire body, because Logan, who had been watching him, now frowned and began to approach. But it was Wes and David who reached him first. "Blaine, what's wrong, man? You look like someone died," David said, worried. Blaine had choked out into the phone, "He's goneKurt's gone, he" he took a shaking breath. "he thought he got a text fromI'm going now." And he threw off his phone and broke into a run. "Whoa!" Wes exclaimed, chasing after him as he pushed through the bodies crowded in the party hall. "Blaine! Blaine, waitwhat's going on?" "That jock from McKinley!" Blaine had rushed past his schoolmates, who looked baffled at their haste. "I think he just called Kurt from someone else's number and he's called him outside!" "Shit!" David hissed in horror. The twins came running down from the staircase, seeing their alarm and looking confused. "Come on!" Wes shouted to them as they leapt over the banisters and followed. Blaine rushed out the doors. "Kurt!" he cried out the moment he hit the outside air. His fists were clenched and he raced through the grounds, praying desperately that he wasn't too late. They were a couple of yards off when Dwight and Reed, having seen their frantic exodus, arrived at the door, breathless. "What's happening?" Dwight gasped, watching them go. "I don't knowbut we better help!" Reed said, running out into the night air. Dwight hesitated for only a moment, and at that moment Logan reached him. Logan had seen Blaine and the others and immediately came running out. "Dwightwhat happened?" "Something about Kurt being in troubleBlaine and the others just tore out of here!"

Logan turned back to the house. "Justin! Justincome here!" At this, a tall brown-haired boy in a red Dalton pullover looked up, confused. "What?" "You're the Hanover prefect, rightkeep an eye on this madhouse! We've got an emergency!" Logan fled the house, calling back, "And watch your phone! I'll ring when we need the police!" "Police?" Dwight cried, and immediately ran after him, leaving the Hanover prefect standing and looked absolutely confused. That was how all the boys got to where they were running across grounds, searching anxiously for any sign of the new countertenor. Blaine stopped for an instant in the middle of one of the gardens, pantinghis breath leaving his lips in heavy clouds. "Which way?" panted David, skidding up next to him. "I don't know," Blaine panted, looking around desperately. There was just no sign of Kurt anywhere, and it was too dark. He turned to the twins, who came running from another direction. "Any sign of him?" "No," Evan shook his head, breathing hard. "Not a damn soul," panted Ethan. "Shit!" Wes snarled, pounding his fist on his knee from where he was bent over. "Where the hell is he?" Kurt was waiting for his life to flash before his eyes. That's what everyone said happened when you were looking down potential death, but he couldn't see anything except Karofsky over him, holding his mouth tightly closed with his hand, as he looked around quickly for anyone coming into the short alley. Then he looked back at Kurt. For the first time, Kurt thought he saw a flicker of fear cross the other boy's face. Karofsky muttered, "All right, Kurt. I'm going to let go of you, all right? But if you so much as even try to scream" He didn't finish the sentence. It wasn't necessary. But his next words surprised him. "I'm not going to hurt you." Kurt gave him a confused, disbelieving look, and considering the situation, it was well deserved. Karofsky glared. "I just want to talk. Do you understand? Nod if you understand." Kurt swallowed and nodded, eyes staring up at him. Karofsky glowered down at him. "Don't scream, I'm telling you" And very carefully, lifted his hand off Kurt's mouth. Kurt was breathing hard, heart echoing into his ears, as he stared up at the hulking form in front of him. No matter what Karofsky may have said, there was no way he was putting him past hurting him or worse. He'd already threatened to keep him quiet that way once he could very well still be serious about it. The truth was, Kurt was so terrified that he couldn't make a sound even if he wanted to.

His heart sank as he realized he could no longer hear the feet of his friends, and that their voices had faded off some distance away. They were looking in the wrong direction. "Kurt." He looked back at Karofsky. "I had to get you alone like this. I wasn't in the mood to have to beat down your damn bodyguards." He glared off at the other direction. He had clearly meant the other Windsors, who had formed the first protective barricade around Kurt when they saw Karofsky watching Sectionals. "What do you want?" Kurt hissed, fear and fury fighting through him in a manner that made him want to hurl. "What are you even doing here?" Karofsky glowered at him in response. Kurt felt with his hands behind him and only felt brick. There really was no way out. At the sight of his fear, Karofsky only snorted. He glanced around, "Well this is a nice place you ended up into at least. Must be your own personal gay utopia." "Why?" Kurt snorted with the reckless courage of the damned. "Are you hoping to transfer in and make my life hell in here too? I seriously doubt your dead GPA could handle that!" The hand that smashed to the wall next to his face nearly made him scream and all his strength nearly fled him. "Don't push me, Kurt, I swear, I'll" Karofsky snarled. "Or what? Punch me? Stab me? Get it over with already and leave me alone! Why are you even following me?" "Because you're the only one who knows about me!" Those words scared Kurt more than anything else uttered so far. Karofsky stopped leaning down into him and just looked angry, confused and completely lost. He looked as though even he had no idea why he was there. Kurt waited for his hands to stop shaking as he responded, "I didn't tell anyone." "Yeah? You told your boyfriend," Karofsky spat the last word out as though it were poisoned. "That guy you brought to school. And the rest of those guys looked like they knew. If you didn't tell them, he did. Or that asshole you sent after me during sectionals?" "What?" Kurt stared. "I didn't send anyone after you!" "So I guess that blond prep snob just decided to prance after me to protect you like some knight in shining armor? Boy, you get around, Kurtthat's two guys after one move!" Kurt couldn't even process that insult. His mind was stuck on "blond prep snob". It wasn't the twinsthey never went without each other. Which left "What happened to your eye?" "It got hit by a fist! Nothing unusual!" Kurt's heart stopped. Logan?

"Kurt!" yelled Blaine over the grounds. Composure was gone a long time ago as the minutes ticked by. It had been ten minutes since Kurt had vanished. A lot could happen in that time. He ran a hand nervously through his hair. "He's just not answeringwhere is he?" "If he was in trouble, wouldn't he scream?" Dwight asked, looking around the darkness, holding a small flashlight that he kept with himself at all times. David looked grim. "Yes, butif he was in trouble, he also might not have been given the chance to." "Shut up, David!" Blaine snapped. "Don't take it out on me, Blaine!" David shot back angrily. "I'm just worried about him as you are!" "This isn't happening" Blaine sank his head to his hands, willing himself to be calm, trying and failing. "I didn't think it was that bad when he moved here. I thought if he moved here, he'd be all right. I didn't know that guy had threatened to kill him." "Why did he suddenly come here?" Reed asked, fearful as he glanced around. "Kurt hasn't done anything to him!" "Or maybe someone pissed him off," Evan said darkly, and Ethan looked at Logan. Wes looked at Logan, then back at them and frowned. "What do you mean?" The twins just kept staring hard at Logan. Logan glared back at them, still breathing deeply from running. Blaine looked up, his eyes flashing dangerously, and he grabbed the taller boy's lapel with a strong arm. "What did you do, Logan?" "What do you think I did, Blaine?" Logan snarled back, jerking his hand off him. "I did what you couldn't do! I went to him and told him to leave Kurt the hell alone!" "What?" David burst out. "How did you even know?" "I saw," Logan said depreciatingly. "I saw how fucking scared to death he looked back onstage when he saw him. I knew that kind of guy would just keep following him so I went after him during Sectionals! I told him to back off!" "So my friend is out there and it's is all your fault?" Wes snarled, lunging at him. Blaine grabbed Wes back and almost threw him to David. He was the one who stepped forward to Logan with eyes blackened by wrath and voice dangerously low. "Loganif anything happens to Kurt right now, I swear I will have you expelled back to where you came from! I don't care how I do it, but I swear, I will ruin you if I have to! You're not doing this again, you hear me?" "You stand there on your high and mighty pedestal, all but trying to be seen as some protector but all you ever do is hold his hand!" Logan shot back, moving forward. "You

can't protect him at every turn, BlaineI had to do something you didn't have the nerve to do!" "Hey!" Reed screamed, shoving them off each other. "What is the matter with the both of you? We don't have time for this! Kurt is out there with that psychopath and you're standing here screaming at each other! We don't have time for your crap right now figure it out later! Right now just do something!" Reed hadn't looked or sounded angrier in his life. Logan glanced at him briefly before glaring back at Blaine, who was pulled away by the twins. Blaine shrugged their hands off and stood with Wes and David. He looked as though he were pulling back all that anger again and just trying to calm down and think rationally. Logan, who had never felt the need to properly control himself, simply stood fuming. "Easy," David said to Blaine, who was calming down quickly. "Just breathe. Think." "This can't be happening to me again, Davidthis just can't" "Hey!" Dwight started yelling. "You guys!" Wes looked up as he came running. He was holding a printed Hrmes stole. "Where did you find that?" Reed gasped, recognizing it to be the one he'd given Kurt. "That way." He pointed to the direction of the sprawling Main. He now looked wildly animated and in control. "He must've gone that way. We've got to split up and search around it. I'll take Reed. Wes and David, take Blaine, Tweedles take Logan. I don't want to have to be responsible for having to resurrect them if they end up killing each otherI haven't practiced getting souls back yet." And as there was no better recourse, the group split up and ran into the gloom. Kurt closed his eyes, willing calm to come to him, but it was still a long way from coming. "You threatened to kill me, Karofsky. It doesn't matter if they know or who told them, they were just trying to protect me," he said in a low tone. "No one even knows you, or gives a damn about you, in this school." "Even you?" If there was a trick question from the Devil, it had to be that one. Kurt didn't even know what context to look at that in, much less answer it. He was trapped in an alley with his ex-tormentor and potential murderer, and he was asking if he cared about him? "You're the only one who knows the truth about me, Kurt," Karofsky said in a tone that was almost irritated. "You know what that's like? Keeping all that in, and then one day just having someone strutting around the whole school knowing itand you're just waiting for the axe to fall." Kurt glanced away, trying to get all his thoughts settled. He licked his dry lips and swallowed, determined to push down the knot in his insides.

"That day you got me expelled? You were that close," said Karofsky, stepping a little closer. "You were in front of my dad, yours, and Coach Sylvester. You had me in a corner, Kurt. You were that close to destroying everything I built up around me." Kurt looked up at him, pressing himself to the wall. Karofsky stopped. "but you didn't." The atmosphere seemed to change with that. He raised his eyes to Karofsky and took a deep breath, standing a bit straighter. "It wasn't my secret to tell." Karofsky stood shaking his head a little, hands shoved into his jacket pockets. "I was so sure you would." "And like keep telling youI'm not going to tell." Silence fell between them. Kurt lowered his eyes, shifting his feet. "Why are you here, Karofsky? Can't youcan't you just leave me in peace?" He gestured wildly upward. "To some degree, I'm happy here. You've won, okay? You've driven me out and ensured your everlasting safety. Is that what you wanted? Some fricking closure?" "No." That was surprisingly blunt. Kurt fell silent, staring at him. "You're unbelievably vain," Karofsky glowered at him. "It's always about you, all the time. I actually can't stand you. You just went around doing as you pleased all the time back at McKinley. Even when I slushied you, dumped you in a dumpster and shoved you around, you just went on and did whatever you wanted. You just didn't give a damn. I bet around here, you still do just that." Kurt flushed with anger. "I" "Don't you get it? You're actually the only other person in McKinley who would have even the tiniest idea of how I feel!" Karofsky suddenly said. "You're the only out gay kid in McKinley! You scream it all the time! And now you're gone. The entire Kurt Hummel Gay Extravaganza show just moved house. Which left just me in McKinley. And I'm not even out." "What are you trying to tell me here? Are you just trying to insult me, or" "Would you shut up?" Karofsky shoved him back against the wall. He looked as though he truly hated what he had to say next. "what do I do now that you're here?" Kurt stared, wondering if he'd gone mad. "You're the only one who got it. Anyone else would've told the whole school, but you didn't. You saw my dad, Kurt. I don't know how he'll react, but I know that there aren't a lot of dads that are like yours. I can't do anything or say anything that'll give me away. You're so far on the other end of the spectrum that it's ridiculous. You practically had a

neon sign on you." Karofsky sighed, his breath turning into a white wisp. "So no matter how frustratingly annoying you areyou were still the only person who would've remotely got what was wrong with me. And I haven't even settled with it myself." Kurt pursed his lips and shook his head slowly, wondering if he'd actually passed out in fear and that this was all hallucination. "And now you're gone. You'rehere." He looked disgusted at the surroundings. He looked disgusted with himself more. "And I don't know what the flying fuck was wrong with me, but I guess I just wanted to see what you were doing in here. And just maybe figure out what I'm going to do with myself." Kurt glanced at him. "So you went to Sectionalsjust to watch?" He didn't answer immediately. "it's annoying to watch you sing. Or hang around with those rich brats like nothing was wrong. Like you forgot everything. Like you just weren't scared anymore. I preferred you scared. Because then it waseasier" He trailed off.

Because thenit would be how you feel? Kurt thought as he watched him. He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose, trying to take this all in. "Karofsky"
"Whatever, KurtI'm out of here, I said my piece." "You're not alone!" Karofsky stopped. He turned to him slowly, as though not sure if he'd heard that right. Kurt took a step forward. "It's all Blaine and I were trying to tell you. I know you hate it, and I know you think it's stupid and totally clich but you're not. You're the one who makes yourself alone, Karofsky. If you'd just stop pushing people like you do" "Did you ever think that maybe I don't want to be like you?" Karofsky asked suddenly. Kurt stopped. "Don't you ever think that maybe I push you around because I don't want to be like you?" Karofsky added. Kurt stared at him silently. "If that were trueyou wouldn't have come here to see me. You came here to make some degree of peace. If not with me, then with yourself. Because you know that I'm somewhere you won't get to if you keep going down your direction." Silence. He and Karofsky stared each other down in the gloom, the wind rustling the dead branches. And then from behind the trees, Dwight Houston appeared. At the sight of the jacket that stood across the slim figure pressed to the wall, he started to breathe hard. He quickly felt for Reed's arm behind him. "Go get the others." Reed, who had just laid his eyes on the scene, looked startled. He nodded to Dwight and

immediately fled, swatting away dead branches as he went. After a moment of fervent praying, Dwight went running towards the alley. Now or never, chickenheart! he told himself. "Hey!" Karofsky whirled around to find an unnervingly pale, skinny boy with messy black hair rushing at him wielding a flashlight and what appeared to be a water sprayer. He looked badly scared but he aimed the sprayer at him. "Get away from him!" "Dwight?" Kurt stared. "Kurt! You all right, man?" he held up the sprayer like a gun to Karofsky. "Did hedid he hurt you?" "You've got to be kidding me," Karofsky glowered at the boy who looked as though he could be broken like a stick. He took one step towards him and Dwight started yelling in panic, giving him two sprayswhich did no goodand throwing rock saltwhich also did no good. But he ran around Karofsky until he was right up next to Kurt and he aimed the sprayer again to the heavyset boy. "Get away from my friend youdemon!" Dwight yelled, the last word having the least conviction. "Is everyone in here insane?" Karofsky demanded to no one in particular. Dwight actually answered, "Yes! I mean, nonot everyone. I'm sane. At least." Kurt was definitely sure he was having a hallucination now. Either of two things could happen: he could wake up, or he and Dwight were about to be beaten to dust. Dwight shifted his feet, tense, "weapons" still aimed. "The others are on their way. They'll be here in a minuteand they're all going to kick your ass!" Of that, Kurt had no doubts. But it wasn't what he wanted. He moved Dwight aside a moment and stepped forward. "Leave," he told Karofsky. The other boy's eyes narrowed. Kurt continued in a low, shaking tone. "You've been expelled once. You break into a private schoolI don't think they'll be letting you off with a slap on the wrist. Get out of here before the others come." Karofsky hesitated onto for a moment, looking at him with suspicion. But it only lasted for a moment. He "lunged" at Dwightwho fled behind Kurt but still had the sprayer aimed and stepped back from the alley. With a last long look at Kurt, he turned and vanished out of sight. The two boys stood until the sound of his footfalls faded. "Oh thank Castiel." Dwight looked like he was about to faint in relief. He slumped against the wall as Kurt did the same next to him. Both slid to the ground, devoid of any energy. "I can't believe we lived."

Kurt looked and smiled faintly at Dwight, though his hands were still shaking uncontrollably. He gave his friend a quick, tight hug and a heavy pat on the back. "Thanks, Dwight. You're my hero." "Yeah" Dwight looked awkward, flustered at the uncommon action. "You're welcome, but uhcould you not tell Blaine and Logan that you hugged me? 'Cause, they're really aggro? And I don't want them to think that I'm making the moves on you, because there is just no way Not thatnot that you're terrible!" he quickly added, flailing. "You're a great guyperson But I don't like you. I mean, I like you, but not like you that way. Because I like girls. Ifthere were actually any girls interested, I meanI mean there haven't been much, like, ever, but" "Dwight?" "Yeah?" "You can stop talking." "Oh." Dwight fell quiet. He was reduced to trying to catch his breath. Kurt leaned back to the wall, closing his eyes and willing his hands to stop shaking. They still felt cold, and the knot in his stomach hadn't gone away. A brace of flashlights came through the dark, signaling the arrival of the Windsor triad of Blaine, Wes and David. "Kurt! Dwight!" "Here, over here!" Reed cried. The beams arrived at the alley, all aiming at the two on the cold ground. They squinted up to the light from where they were sitting. "Oh thank God," Reed breathed as Blaine ran into the alley and to Kurt, kneeling next to him. "Are you all right?" he asked, face contorted in concern. Kurt looked up at him, heaping gratitude with his eyes and hugged him. He held so tightly that Blaine was startled. "Shh" he whispered, patting him. "You're okay. We're here." Kurt swallowed and nodded, and he, Dwight and Blaine now rose. "What happened?" David demanded. "Karofsky hehe just grabbed me. He only held me down to keep me from screaming. But he just wanted to talk. He didn't actually hurt me, he justwanted to talk about some things." He glanced to his holy-water-wielding friend with a small smile. "Dwight was great, he ran in and helped me, umscare him off." Dwight smiled tremulously, not exactly sure if his performance merited the credit. But he looked proud all the same. Wes patted him in the back. "Okay" Blaine nodded and hugged tight Kurt again. "All right." He paused, staring into the blackness of the evening.

"You stand there on your high and mighty pedestal, all but trying to be seen as some protector but all you ever do is hold his hand!" The words echoed in his head even as he struggled to fight them back. Blaine closed his eyes. "I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you." Kurt put his hand on his back, and Blaine could feel it there, still cold. But Kurt said, "Looking at it from hereI think I didn't need you there then. I think that he was just someone I had to face by myself. Like you saidI had to confront him." He looked at him with a faint smile. "Courage. Right?" Blaine would've smiled, but it would have looked too bitter, so he just dropped his eyes. From their sprint, the Twins and Logan finally arrived into the scene. "Alice!" the twins immediately ran to him, tearing him off Blaine and hugging him like a rag doll in relief. Kurt managed to get an emotion acrossannoyance. "Guyslet me go for goodnessake. I'm not dying." "We totally thought you were! Blaine went running out of Windsor like he was possessed!" Blaine only smiled faintly as he stood. "Did you see him?" asked Evan. "What did he say?" Ethan demanded. "What did he do?" "Did he hurt you?" "Speak to you?" "Breathe on you?" "We have access to real guns." "And shovels." "And large tracts of land!" "Immediately, even!" "Could the both of you just let go of me?" Kurt snapped irritably, carefully peeling himself away from the twins' grip. "I can't breathe." The twins promptly dropped him. Kurt brushed himself off almost nonchalantly as he sighed and looked up tiredly. He met Logan's gaze. And for the first time, it was Logan who looked away. Kurt did not. He only looked at him and said, "LoganI know you were just trying to help me butthere are just certain boundaries you shouldn't cross."

"So it was about what he did?" Wes said angrily, looking at Logan. "That guy came here because Logan pushed him around?" "Logan didn't do anythingit was Karofsky who swung at him," said Kurt quietly. "But Logan did go after him andI think it prompted him to come here in some way." Kurt looked away. "Maybe because he wanted to see what kind of a place accepted and defended people like us." Kurt sighed. He looked at Dwight. "sorry about your birthday, Dwight. I really amI'll make it up to you." "Oh shut up, Kurt, you know I don't care about my birthday," Dwight said irritably, though he looked happy at the attention. "You can't help it that you're cursed and as a hunter my job is to suppress any side effects of that." He sighed, smiling at his weapon. "Besides. I got to be the hero." After that statement, the perfect mix of awkward, reassurance and inanity that only Dwight could achieve, no one actually had anything to say. Without a word, Blaine put an arm around Kurt's shoulders and led him back to Windsor, the others following. Windsor was still rattling to its foundations, crammed with boys enjoying the party. It was as though the others had even left, and not many people had noticed that they were gone at all. Justin Bancroft, the Hanover House prefect, stood waiting at the door when they arrived. As the house was still standing, he'd clearly managed to keep some degree of control. "You guys all right?" he asked, worried. "Do I still need the police?" "No," Logan answered, shaking his head. "It's beendealt with." "Is Hummel all right?" Justin asked, glancing at Kurt's pale face as Blaine brought him past. The twins followed closely, like a pair of bodyguards. "He looks shaken." He looked at Logan. "You guys get into a fight?" "Sort of," sighed Wes as he passed them. "Kind of ongoing" David nodded as he went by. "I was the hero," Dwight said with a bit of a grin as he followed. Reed just sighed. Justin and Logan looked at each other and the former just shook his head as though he couldn't give a more accurate interpretation of what went on. Derek appeared next to him and he looked at Logan. "You disappeared again. Where did you go off to now?" "Problems," Logan muttered.

"Don't tell me it's Hummel again, Logan, because you just don't need this shit anymore" "Logan, I think Derek's right," Justin said, glancing at him. "I'm all for you trying to turn a new leaf when you came back, but if you get any angrier, you'll end up on the edge again. You'll get expelled for real, Logan, I'm not kidding. Ramsey's watching you like a hawk. You put an inch out of line and you'll end up" "back home," Logan muttered. "And Michelle and the old man wouldn't bail my ass again." "Fine way of talking about your parents, man. Really nice," Derek said sarcastically. Logan wasn't listening. He was looking into the house, watching Blaine sitting with Kurt on the couch. Kurt looked better already, and he was almost smiling as Blaine talked to him. Logan considered the situation deeply. He remembered how Blaine had gone over the edge earlier, how tense and angry he had been, almost losing all the composure that he was so well known for. Stiff as he was, he never actually swung or lunged at Logan the way his two lesser friends, David and Wes, did. He threatened Logan with expulsion and not death. Nevertheless, the Windsor Prefect now had a very obvious flaw in his solid armor. That flaw was Kurt. But it was a double-edged weapon to wieldbecause Kurt defended Blaine. He clearly favored him over Logan. In the end, it would have to come down to who was stronger between them. Kurt didn't have to choosehe'll make the decision for him. Because Logan refused to be placed second best again. Walking down one of the halls the next day, Kurt found Finn's concern almost touching. "Finn, I'm all right. I think you made your point after you and Puck nearly hurled Derek out the house." "Well he wouldn't let us in," Finn sounded a little irritated over the phone the next day. This was after the entire McKinley glee club crashed the Windsor party approximately fifty minutes after the initial phone call they had given Dalton. Tina dutifully reported that Finn had nearly been arrested for excessive speeding. But by the time they got there, the issue was long over. "What the hell, dudehe wasn't even in your dorm. The other dudes in your dorm didn't look happy either." "Oh that's only because they wanted the chance to do that to him themselves, don't worry about them," Kurt waved it away, juggling his bag, books and notes as he walked down the hall. "It was nothing personal. Thanks for coming all the way here, by the way. Santana seemed to have gotten a date out of the trip, thoughthat woman could make a priest sin." He rolled his eyes. "And tell Brittany that no, Dwight can't turn animals into water goblets." Blaine materialized beside him wearing a smile, and Kurt's chest felt warm at the sight of him. Blaine, taking some of his books from him, wordlessly asked who was on the phone. Kurt held his hand level a distance over his head, miming someone of great height. Blaine understood it was Finn immediately.

"I'll keep an eye on Karofsky from here. Puck says he will too, and the rest of the guys." "Commendable, brother-from-another-mother, but unnecessary. He didn't actually hurt me. And I don't think he'll be coming back." "We know. Justtrying to be sure." Finn seemed to hesitate. "Listen, about that guy, um Blaine, right?" Kurt lifted his eyebrows. Were they about to have a "talk"? His brief glance to Blaine told the other boy that he was the topic of discussion. "What about him?" "He, uh, just acts kind ofprotective around you" Finn sounded delightfully awkward and Kurt enjoyed every moment. "Have you talked to Burt about him yet?" "We go to the same school, we're both in Warblers, we live in the same dorm, he's my friend." Kurt turned red and turned his face away. "What would dad want to know?" Blaine smiled faintly. That was the official standing. The Windsors tease mercilessly, but that was how the stand remained. "I don't knowMercedes said he might be your boyfriend." Kurt colored to his scalp. I'm going to drive to Lima and demand answers from that girl. "You're crazy. You, dad and Carole are still coming to Winter Fest, right?" "I think the folks are going. Mr. Schue wants us to go caroling for poor kids, so I'm not all sure Waitbut you're changing the topicI just want to make sure that Blaine'syou know, on the level." Kurt rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh. "One second." He looked at Blaine and smiled. "Since the topic is you, I need to take this outside so I can make scathing retorts towards my stepbrother at my leisure. I'll be right back." Blaine just laughed and watched him enter through one of the empty forums. He was relieved when the next morning, Kurt had looked relatively himself again. He still had no idea what he and Karofsky had talked about, but whatever it was, Kurt may have been lifted a weight off his shoulders by going through with the confrontation and coming out unscathed. He moved to put down his things at nearby couch and it was then that he saw Logan in the hall, watching him. Blaine straightened up and looked at him. "What?" "We've got to end this," Logan said directly. "Funny, I thought you were the one who started it." "He's not property," Logan said plainly. "Especially not yours." A shadow crossed Blaine's expression. He walked to Logan silently, stopping a few feet away, but he murmured. "Youare the last person I want to hear lecturing me about treating people like property."

"That was last year, Blaine." "And we're here like it's yesterday, Logan. Aren't you tired of this yet? Because I am. And I don't want Kurt involved." He looked at him directly now. "I didn't fight back before. Because I thought it was for the best. But this time" "You can't do this to me, Blaine," Logan snarled under his breath. His fist clenched but he refused to move an inch while there were still students in the hall. "Last year wasn't about him. It was about you and me and you damn well know it." "Do I?" The hallway finally ran out of boys in blazers, and an unsettling silence fell as the echoes of their chatter and footfalls faded. The only people who looked down upon them now were the great portraits of dead men and women who must have once been vital to the school. The curtains from the half open window settled. Logan never broke eye contact. "...don't, Blaine." Blaine looked steadily back at him, as he'd finally come to the crux of the matter. "Do not. Do this. To me." Logan said silently. He could have only been heard in that new silence. Blaine considered without expression. He slowly shook his head, still looking at him. "No." A pause, unnerving. Just like from long ago. "We had our chance once, Logan. And it didn't work. It didn't work when you chose him over me. I didn't fight you back. I let you run off with him, and him with you. And then you ruined himjust tore him down like he meant nothing." Blaine took one step towards him, those usually warm eyes now hard. "And I saw that I was lucky that he caught your bullet for me. But things are different now" Logan looked back with equal coldness. Blaine never wavered. "...and I'm not going to let you take Kurt away from me." Logan's eyes narrowed just so slightly at the challenge. And from where he was shaking by the door, Kurt slowly lifted the latch with trembling hands and closed it, sliding down onto the floor.

Episode 12: Cheer

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. Karofsky came after me. I'd like to think came out on the better end of it. And then I heard Blaine and Logan talking, and I realized that I didn't really know them as well as I ought to. Tonight is the night of the Winter Fest. But it looks like I have something else to look into before that.
Morning had always been cold, but the way Kurt was buried was under that lavishly thick comforter made Reed wonder if it was only the cold he was hiding from and not the sunlight of the morning altogether. The smaller boy grinned and leapt on the lump under the covers with a great thump. Kurt grunted in shock and pain. "Up and at em!" Reed said cheerfully, sitting on what presumably were Kurt's ribs. "Come on, you can't stay cooped up there. Today's the last day! Then school's out!" He only received a grunt without conviction from under the covers. Undeterred, Reed flopped over on top of the covered lump, forcing his weight down. "I was thinking, Kurt. What do you think about me moving in here as your roomie?" A pause. "I would say babysitting you, oh hazard-prone one, requires some serious compensation other than your less than welcome early-morning personality" "I hereby postulate providing you with complete unbridled access to eighty percent of my wardrobe upon the day of my move." Another pause. "I could be persuaded." "Deal!" Reed grinned and leapt off him. He shook Kurt's shoulders. "Get up! Come on, you've been cooped up in here since yesterday afternoon. You've got to come out before you grow roots. Let's do a last practicetonight's the big Winter Fest! We're singing lead! This calls for great outfits!" Kurt just groaned. "not really in the mood, Reed." "You haven't been in the mood to hang out after class, you haven't been in the mood to hang out and join the dorm in our first night out together since the arrest lifted, and you're not in the mood to get out today either?" Reed stared at him, perplexed. "What's wrong, are you sick?"

At the risk of being even more dramatic, yes, I'm sick. Heartsick. I feel like some of Rachel's crazy had rubbed off me. Kurt sighed. "Not exactly"
Reed considered. He carefully pulled away the covers from Kurt's head and received no struggle. He blinked down at his friend, who was staring into empty space with contemplative blue eyes. Reed sighed. "Is this about Blaine and Logan?"

Kurt quickly looked up. "What?" "About the other night, after that visit from that McKinley jock. You're upset they're fighting."

If that were all Kurt just sighed. He had to wonder, though, if Reed knew the whole story behind Blaine and Logan. He wasn't sure how long Reed had been in Windsor, but all the most likely candidates to be aware of the scandals (Wes, David, and the Twins), were all nixed from his list of inquiries. They would paint the situation with bias and he wasn't altogether sure if they would really tell him anything.
That fight that Blaine and Logan had in the hall was less of a fight and more of an ultimatum for one another. Logan continued to push the boundary and it seemed as though he had pushed Blaine to the edge of his patience and control in more than one way. And the realization that Logan and Blaine had been in a relationship was jarring, which at the same time begs the question: How many Windsor boys had Logan gone after? The man certainly got around. "You okay?" Reed asked after Kurt's moment of silence. "About Logan" Reed raised his eyebrows. "What about him?" "what was he like before he was like this now?" Reed wasn't quite sure how to answer the question. But he said down and said, "Well the thing is Logan's always been that way. Actuallyhe's actually dialed down a few notches since last year." "This is Logan dialed down?" Reed fidgeted. "I don't want to talk badly about anyone but Logan was unpopular for many reasonswith many of them founded." "What about Blaine?" Reed stared now. "Blaine? You mean, what he was like last year?" He tilted his head. "Why are you curious?" "I justwanted to know more about him Without having to ask him. I figured you might know something." "As far as "somethings" go, Wes and David know more than I do. I met Blaine couple of months after he transferred. That was when he had moved to Windsor. We hadn't talked so much at first. He kept to himself, and Wes and David kept bugging him until they became friends." Another pause. Kurt hesitated for a long moment.

"did Blaine and Logan always fight like this?" Reed froze. His hands gripped the sheets. "no. Theywe were all Warblers andthey seemed to get along okay in the Hall. Kind of friendly Outside, it was just the usual staying with their respective houses. I don't know very much." "Mm" Kurt nodded. He finally got up and sighed. "Last day. I'll go get showeredI feel like emptying a bottle of Clinique and scrubbing off all of Murdoch's contempt from my skin. " He gave Reed a small smile and walked to his bathroom. Reed smiled back and watched him go, but as soon as the door shut, a tense expression came over his face. He didn't want to lie to him, but the Windsors always protected their ownand they weren't ever to talk about this anymore, more for Blaine's sake than anything. But he had no doubt:

He knows. There's just no other reason for all the questions. Kurt knows.
"Soccer game?" "It's called football for the rest of the world," Wes bristled as he stabbed at his lasagna. It was lunch period and the cafeteria was starting to fill. The windows were full of lances of sunlight pouring into the room as a multitude of boys discussed trips during vacation and the last of the activities for the day. "But yes, there's one today. The last one for the year. We're getting out early for it. Maybe they're sending out everyone early to spare us all the shame of having to watch our team lose." Kurt was confused. "But I thought your team was great." "It is," said David with a sigh. "But we're fighting St. Patrick's Lions. And every year, even if the Dalton Kings guns down the rest of the tournament, St. Patrick ruins the parade." "They're that good?" "That and it's depressing to fight them," said Wes with a dramatic fling of the arm. "Their cheer block is killing us!" "It didn't seem that way during the fencing meet," Kurt frowned as he put down his salad fork. Without looking, he swatted away Evan's forkthe twin was once again trying to shovel cheese into his salad in an attempt to have Kurt "gain some more weight" after all the school toll. Kurt maintained that he can handle himself. As soon as Kurt was distracted with Evan, Ethan dumped cheese into the salad from the other side. David, used to the odd things happening on the lunch table, ignored the look of murder that Kurt was bestowing on an innocent-looking Ethan, and said, "Well they don't allow cheerleaders into their fencing meets." Kurt gave him a narrow-eyed "I-don't-follow" expression. Wes, mouth full of pasta, said, "St. Patrick's got girls on their side since they're co-ed." He rolled his eyes and swallowed. "Anyway, they've got cheerleaders on their end and they drive the whole crowd nuts. Their whole school comes out to watch their girls shake itand they like

driving our school crazy because, wellwe don't get any of that! There isn't much we can actually do, being an all boy's school." "Warblers once sang during the half time," Reed said, blinking, mouth full of fettuccine. Even Kurt joined the others in rolling their eyes at that one. The Warblers were rockstars all right, and there was no doubt that the Dalton boys thought very highly of them. But in the middle of an impassioned football match, with a crowd of hotties shaking booties at the other end, a campus full of hormone-driven male adolescents would be more compelled to appreciate other worldly sights. "It's not just the Banshees, then," Dwight grumbled as he pushed around his baked beans on his plate. "The girls are pretty roasting hot, yeah, but the thing is, the team just needs all the morale it can get! Not only did Blaine quit already, but Charliehe's the real prefect, you haven't met him yethe's the team captain and he's out! He's in the hospital recuperating." "What happened to him?" "Unfortunate paintball incident," supplied Evan with a sweet smile. "We had no idea that the cannon was going to be that strong," Ethan added. "Bad luck, reallywhat with the stairs" "and that squeaky mallet" "nasty mess on the landing, you know" Kurt impatiently waved it away and said, "So what you're telling me is that all of Dalton is positive that they're going to lose the football match" "for the fourth year" "because you don't have cheerleaders?" "And star players," Wes pointed out. "As of right now, I'm the best the team's got." David stared at him. "What? I just defended us to the death back then!" "But they still scored that one in that had them win 1-0!" "Well if you'd listened to coach instead of looking at girls" Kurt turned away from all this good-natured squabbling to see Blaine approaching them with his lunch tray. As was usual, Evan rose from his place to change seatshe would sit next to Ethanso Blaine could sit next to Kurt. But the moment he made to rise, he felt Kurt grab his wrist to hold him down in place. Evan stared at him, and Ethan looked, seeing what happened. Kurt said nothing, holding Evan down to exactly where he was sitting, eating with his other hand as though nothing was happening. Blaine arrived with a smile, not seeming to

notice the fact that his usual seat next to Kurt was occupied by one puzzled twin. "You're not arguing about the match again, are you?" Blaine frowned at the two. "So what if St. Patrick has those Banshees? Just don't pay attention to them." "It's easy for you to say that as you're not inclined," Wes grimaced at him. "Now if it had been Kurt out there" An epidemic of choking went over the table as the boys all but spat out their food all over the table. As they proceeded to throw wadded up paper napkins at Wes, the person in questionKurt himselfdid not have that reaction. In fact he looked rather contemplative.

Hmmit's not as though I can't Not alone, anyway

"You all right, Kurt?" Blaine asked. This roused him. Kurt turned crimson and said, "Yeah. Fine." He flashed him a bright smile and resumed stabbing his lettuce leaves. The twins glanced at each other, a little concerned. Ethan didn't need Evan to say anythinghe knew that Kurt's hand was still on his twin's wrist. Reed, who watched, shifted a little uncomfortably. Dwight, who could sense dread atmosphere acutely, at least, now bristled. "Now what? We're going to lose the game for the fourth year in a row? I told you guys, just let me curse them or something. I got this book that" "You can curse them all you want at the standsit's not going to make them stop doing whatever it is they're doing," David rolled his eyes. "Blaine's right. Let's just focus on the game. If we win, we win, if we lose" "It would be normal?" the twins raised their eyebrows. "Upside, we get to watch the Banshees," Wes grinned. "Wes' girlfriend is in St. Patrick," Reed whispered to Kurt. "She's a Banshee. Remember Tabitha?" "It would take amnesia to make me forget about Tabitha," Kurt snorted. "And wasn't she his ex?" "He's angling to take her out again," Evan sighed. "It's a cycle," Ethan agreed. "I have a thing for cheerleaders," Wes admitted. While this was happening, it is well worth noting that each one of the boys had a hand under the table holding a cell phone. As the presumably ordinary inanity continued, a flurry of frantic text-chat was going on between the conspirators of Windsor.

MHare: What the hell, Evan, stop being a douche, move seats already. Tweedles: Alice made him stay sitting down.

MHatter: Why? Tweedles: Don't know. Doesn't want to sit with the Rabbit? MHare: Wait, WHAT? Is there a problem here? Dormouse: Guys, stop being so obvious or the two will notice. WKnight: They fight or something? Dormouse: I think Kurt knows about Logan and Blaine from last year's. Tweedles: Oh MHare: Crap. MHatter: Crap. WKnight: Awkward Tweedles: Emergency maneuvers? MHare: Stat.
There was a terse pause.

WRabbit: I think you guys forgot to take me off the list.

Everyone on the table looked up as though deer caught in headlights. Blaine was frowning at them. "Whoah!" Evan leapt off his seat before Kurt could stop himhe landed right next to his twin, and both proceeded to scoot as far away as possible from Blaine. In the finest show of feigned composure yet, Blaine slid to the seat next to Kurt and the two proceeded to eat their lunches with barely obvious tension. "Are you going to watch the game?" Blaine asked. Kurt nodded, considering. "I was thinking of it You guys sound like you need all the help you can get." "The team isn't really that bad at it. They wouldn't have gotten this far in spite of Wes and David trying to imitate Shaolin Soccer half the time" "Hey!" the two chorused. "but their hormones just rage when the Banshees start getting it on." "Hmm" Kurt contemplated for a moment, and seemed to make a decision. He stood up. "You guys go on. Reed, come with me. We'll both see you guys later at the game." "Whatme?" Reed looked startled, but got up. "We're not going to afternoon class? Why?"

"We have to practice for tonight," Kurt just gave him a look that told him to go along with it, and towed him away immediately out into the halls. The rest of the boys stared after them, puzzled, and then Blaine spoke up. "What do you mean he knows about me and Logan?" "I don't know, it was Reed who said it," said Wes, staring at him. David frowned. "Reed's not the gossiping type, so I'll assume you and Logan may have dropped a rather large hint on Kurt at some point." "Like I would tell him about my phase of insanity." Blaine grumbled. He didn't want his food anymore and pushed it around his plate. "No matter what I do to put it away, it's catching up to me." "Maybe Logan's kind of like an STD that really doesn't go away even after you're supposedly "cured"" Dwight said, earning himself the most awkward statement of the table yet. After bestowing a withering glance at the spiritualist, Wes looked at Blaine. "Did you two do or say anything?" Blaine consideredhe had only seen Logan yesterday in the hall where they had that stand-off. He glanced to the others. "Logan and I had another confrontation in the hall Kurt had left to talk on the phone, but maybe he overheard us." "What were you talking about?" "that thing that happened between us, back when we were together, when he dropped me and how he ruined" He had not the chance continue as all the boys groaned and threw their napkins and forks onto the table. The twins looked exasperated. "What is the matter with you, Blaine?" Evan sighed. "Have we taught you nothing? If you must discuss highly suspect topics of controversy, it has to be done at least a whole zip code away from your issue." "That's what we did when we talked about pouring itching powder into Logan's jockstrap." "Unsuccessful, but it was a good try in the end." "Kurt definitely must've overheard," said David, frowning. "Did you say anything else?" Blaine hesitated. Wes and David waited expectantly. Finally, the prefect sighed. "I told Logan that I won't let him take Kurt from me." Dwight dropped his fork, staring. "Oooh, inadvertent confession, I see," Evan was grinning broadly now. "Would've been better in a setting that didn't involve a rival" Ethan considered.

"Waitso he's now avoiding me because I pretty much just said that I liked him?" Blaine really didn't want to eat his lunch now and he threw his fork down. He put his head into his hand, trying to wonder what the first thing to do even was. Before he knew it, the twins had plopped onto either side of him and draped their arms heavily over his shoulders. "There, there, oh panicked Rabbit." "You're not quite that late." "Cheer up! Maybe he just doesn't know how to act around you." "While you say that, clearly it only means he doesn't feel the same way," Blaine grumbled without looking up. "That's just not true," said Evan sensibly, making them all look at him. "Kurt obviously likes you. He keeps rejecting Logan. You should've seen the smackdown during Sectionals." "Still not making me feel better." Blaine stopped. "What smackdown during Sectionals?" The twins exchanged conspiratorial grins. "The Knave may have said some expressive statements questioning new one's morals. Alice slapped him. Beautifully." Grins were exchanged around the table. "Consequently, we're to assume Alice likes him far less than he likes you. The first rejection is always so priceless." Blaine frowned and sat up. "I think I've got to go talk to Kurt while I still have the chance." The twins hauled him back down. "Sit. You have time. Logan won't make a move until he manages to get Alice alone. While Alice is with the Dormouse, he'll keep away. For now, we need a battle plan." "Which is?" "Tonight is Winter Fest. You're presenting for Windsor along with othersand Logan presents for Stuart like he always does. It's time to steamroller us some Stuarts and have you completely win over Alice." "This is in front of his parents," Blaine blanched, remembering Kurt saying that Burt and Carole were coming to watch. "And my parent." "Fortune favors the bold," David smirked. "Why are you avoiding Blaine?" asked Reed as he followed Kurt into the courtyard. Compared to the McKinley yard, this courtyard was roughly the size of a ballroom with tiling that seemed as though they were imported from Europe. Right now, everything was cold outside, with Reed rubbing his hands on his arms to keep warm. "I'm not avoiding Blaine," Kurt answered tersely as he pulled out his phone and began dialing.

"But you didn't sit next to him," said Reed, blinking. "You made one of the twins stay." "I'm not avoiding Blaine, Reed," Kurt sighed, putting the phone to his ear. "I couldn't if I tried and I don't want to. I just have this idea that I should do before Windsor madness wears off and I realize what the hell I'm doinghello, Quinn?" "Kurt? What's going on?" she asked, sounding quite surprised. Reed flailed, "But you've been acting funny since" "Reed!" Kurt snapped. "Stop flopping like a fish on the bottom of a boat. I'm not avoiding Blaine. I can't avoid someone I'm in love with. Now be quiet!" Quite effective. Reed stood staring at him, mouth hanging open in what might have been absolute shock and delight. His friend's knack for bluntness continued to stun him. Quinn was less receptive. "I'm sorry, what is going on? Am I in some kind of Dalton talk show?" There was disturbance in the other end and Santana came on. "In love with whomand details are necessary. Have you had him?" "Santana!" Kurt scolded. He let the fact that she put him on speakerphone pass for the sake of necessity. "Where are you guys right now?" "Club roomChristmas treeLauren eating popcorn that's supposed to go on the tree." "I need a favor that you all can use as a Christmas gift for me." "What does you all mean?" Santana sounded suspicious. "It means Christmas" Brittany piped up from somewhere. "Artie said Yule means Christmas." "No, Brittanyshe meant" Artie began. Kurt shook his head and sighed. "Just the Cheerios. Do you girls know the Banshees?" "From St. Patrick?" he could almost see Quinn raising an eyebrow. "Head cheerleader is Margot. Her boyfriend's in the Marines and she drills the Banshees the same way. She's missing a toe on her left foot and has a fake one," Santana added, proving that Sue Sylvester's network of intelligence was bordering on obscene. "Returning to the previous question, in love with whom?" "Kurt, I not sure I like what I'm hearing very much" Finn started to say awkwardly. "I need the Cheerios to come here for some serious retribution," Kurt declared. "Turns out that the Banshees are giving the Dalton boys a hard time by seducing them from across the field. We've got a game tonightand I was hoping I could get a little backup." Quinn responded, "A little backup? So you plan on getting in the uniform again?"

Reed gave him a confused look. Kurt smirked at the phone. "Just get over here and get ready. Bring any Cheerios you can spare. Me and one more person will join you." He grinned at Reed. The smaller boy blinked. Kurt gave him a raised eyebrow in answer. Reed wasn't sure what was going on, but he had the feeling that he was about to get dragged into it. He glanced around uncomfortably, and thought he saw someone vanish around the corner of the building. Someone with a red shield on his lapel. "Logan." The prefect sitting on the tree branch having his own quiet lunch looked down to see Derek frowning from below, arms akimbo. "Can I help you?" "You should give up on Hummel," said Derek bluntly. The sigh that came from Logan was sincerely exasperated. "Derek, I don't care how many times you have to say it, but nothing will make it go away. You think I like chasing after someone that difficult? And have you seen the way he dresses when not in uniform? I swear, I wouldn't be able to take him to a country club without" "Country club? Logan, you're making plans on introducing Kurt to your parents?" Derek stared, stunned. "What, are you planning on getting engaged? No offense, but this is starting to get insane, even for you." "Michelle's coming to watch me perform tonight. If she and the old man are coming, I don't see why I shouldn't tell them about Kurt." "You are crazy. I'll say it as many times as I have to. I thought that you were going to be all right as long as you were "interested" but this is overboard. You're making plans out of air. And you know that Mr. Wright won't be thrilled to hear about this." Logan dropped down from the branch with a dull thump. "He's never thrilled to hear anything about me that involves another male, Derek. He's relieved that I actually have you; he's hoping that you'll unload one of your girlfriends onto me." "I wouldn't give you any one of them, you're too volatile." Derek crossed his arms over his chest again. "You're being rejected soundly by Hummel, Logan. Plans on whisking him away to the East Coast and introducing him to the country club is so out of the question" "This isn't like last year, Derek!" Logan threw up his arms. "It wasn't even like this with Blaine! And I don't know why, and I don't care! It's driving me crazy, I don't chase people, they come to me. You think this is easy? You try it!" "Logan, Kurt's made his choice. He's in love with Blaine." Logan stopped. He slowly turned to his friend, who was looking firm and almost sympathetic. "what did you say?"

Derek sighed. "I saw Van Kamp and Hummel on the courtyard. They were arguing or something. But I heard him tell Reed how he felt about Blaine. He said he was in love with him. If he's strong enough to admit it to someone else, I think it means game over." The next thing Derek knew, Logan had hurled him onto the nearest brick wall, arms planted on either side and green eyes blazing. Logan lookedfor lack of a better word positively murderous. "What?" "Logan!" Derek shouted furiously, pushing him off. "Get a grip!" "No!" Derek grabbed him by the jacket and flung him into the wall in turn with a crash. The green rage in his eyes dimmed. Logan seemed to come to his senses, breathing hard and moving a hand through his hair. There was a tense pause as he regained composure. "Thanks" "Have you been taking your medication?" No answer. Derek angrily pushed him. "Have you been taking your medication, I asked!" "notregularly." When he saw the look on his friend's face, Logan added, "I don't want to! I don't like being numb! I want to feel something, anything! It was awful being so incredibly numbespecially during that storm! I was with Kurt and I didn't feel anything! It's stupid and it makes no sense but he makes me feel something!" Derek looked furious. "You're letting him ruin all the progress you've made! He's not worth it, Logan! Think about what you'll lose if you don't start trying to control yourself. You remember why you're in Dalton, don't you? Why you're in Westerville instead of the Upper East Side?" "yes." "You're just not capable of having a docile relationship with Blaine back thenand right now Kurt won't be any different either," Derek snapped. "He's not worth all this!" Logan slumped down onto the ground the way he did during Sectionals, after Kurt had slapped him and fled his presence, leaving him cold with nothing to grasp on. It was like a candle going out, leaving him in the dark, angry and confused all over again. He put his hands to his temples. He wanted that light back. "yes he is." The students of Dalton began to pour into the stands of the massive field. The Dalton boys had shed their uniforms in favor of coats, watching as the St. Patrick Lions supporters started to rapidly fill the other side, their white, green and gold bannerettes and flags waving. Some of them bore lime green vuvuzelas and were starting to trumpet noisily. The Dalton Kings supporters waved their own flagsthe gold-slashed blue flaglets from

Windsor, the white-crossed red flags for Stuart, and the gold-trimmed white from Hanovercreating the colors of Dalton on their stands. They too were armed with vuvuzelas, determined to drown out the chants of the St. Patrick Banshees who were starting to gather before the St. Patrick stands. "S.P.! let's hear it!" the cheerleaders were clapping in rhythm. "Lions!" the crowd roared back. The twins dragged Blaine over to the seats in spite of his vociferous protests to watching the game. Quite frankly, he preferred to be out of Murdoch's line of firehe had loathed the coach since he began working with them, and his quitting the team due to his decision to avoid his torment and put in more attention to the Warblers didn't put him in the best light either. However, the twins wouldn't have it and wanted him to sit and watch Wes and David, mainly to see if they were to attempt any more physics-defying stunts. "What did you talk about with Kurt earlier?" asked Blaine as they sat down. "He's on his way with Reed. They just wanted someequipment." The twins looked wildly animated, odd considering that they were not at all fond of the sports teams (in spite of their obvious talent for physical activity). "You have to be here, Blaine, I'm telling you. It's going to be good." "You two know something we don't?" Dwight, who had also been coerced to sit in (with threats of fire towards his extensive collection of Demonology books), now frowned at the twins. "Did you rig the game or something?" "Or something," Evan said, barely able to keep sitting. "Won't know what hit them," Ethan grinned. Justin came down the aisle and sat near them. He nodded to the Windsor prefect with a friendly grin. "Good party the other day, Dwight. All right there, Blaine?" "All right, Justin," Blaine nodded. "What brings you here?" "Checking up on you. Logan worries me. He's fuming again." Justin gave him a brief smile. "Might have thought he'll be after your blood. Never quite had as much trouble with a Stuart prefect before. Makes me demmed uncomfortable, honestly." "It's your last year," Blaine warned. "You should try to take it easy on getting involved." "Between Windsor and Stuart and the way they are?" Justin snorted, his cockney accent more pronounced when annoyed. "I could hardly stay out of it. It'd be like running away from a fire instead of putting it out. Have you any idea how glad I am that Hanover's peaceful? Or at leasthas been since Wesley left. I promise you, the man was meant to be one of you." The twins looked rather proud of that. "'Stuart boys believe in pure expertise! Hanover boys are keepers of the peace! Windsor boys break the boundaries'!" they said, happily reciting the common demarcation between the three Houses, quoting the speech of Herman Dalton, the school founder.

The stands bursts into cheers and trumpeting as both teams came out onto the field. The Lions were in their green with white trim while the Kings had donned their predominantly white and blue uniforms. David was the only one different; his bright red goalkeeper's jersey stood out among the others and after their caucus with Murdoch, the team went into the field. The kickoff was had and the game began amidst wild cheering from both ends. From the other side, the Banshees started to go to formation and began to dance, waving pompoms. Their uniforms hugged their bodies in the best ways possible, and they wore green tanks with short tube skirts that may have well been scarves for their size. With every high kick, the Dalton boys marveled at their shiny gold chrome spankies that were barely hidden by the skirts. "Saint Patrick, let me hear it!" they would chant. "Lions!" the crowd would roar back. "Saint Patrick, come on, roar!" "Lions!" With every crowd scream, the Banshees would fly into the air, completing perfect double axels in their basket tosses. A whole line of Banshees made simultaneous herkies to delight of the crowds from both schools. The Dalton Kings, watching the eyes of their own cheer block fastened onto the Banshees, looked on in disgust. The few boys with conviction kept trying to drown them out and distract others with the maddening sound of vuvuzelas. "Where are they?" Evan muttered, scanning the crowd. "The Banshees are owning it. The Lions just got a stolen ball again." "Do you think Reed chickened out? It was in under five hours." "Reed would never chicken out. He may be a little skittish, but he'd never chicken out." "Well all right. He's also a Warbler, so routines shouldn't be that hard for him" "Except this one involves tricks" "What are you talking about?" asked Dwight, confused. "Where are Kurt and Reed?" Blaine asked, a little concerned. "They said they'd be here in time for the game." He looked around. It was worth noting that Logan was not in the stands among the Stuart block. The twins waved away his concern. "Relax, Rabbitjust focus on your performance for later tonight." David, out on the field, was starting to look truly annoyed. He was a particularly excellent goalkeeper and was loathed by virtually the entire league for his incorrigible defense of

the Dalton goal. But even he was starting to get tired swatting away attacks when their own players would get distracted by a flash of spankies and a saucy wink from some daring Banshee at the other end. The score remained at a stagnant 0-0, and it was starting to get obvious that the Kings' morale was not as great. David was furiously holding the defense nearly by himself as attack after attack by the Kings failed on the Lions' end. "If by some act of God we win this stupid farce, screw the Best Goalkeeper Award; I'm petitioning the league for David to get the damn MVP," Wes panted to one of their best strikers as they ran down the field. "We'll get the damn trophy engraved with his name if we have to," the other boy answered breathlessly. He glanced to his left and punched Wes in the arm. "Wes! Come onget your head in the game!" Wes, distracted by Tabitha's flirty smile and wave from across the field, all but missed the pass. David dropped his face into his palm as Wes struggled to recover and kicked the ball across to another striker. From the Banshees, a severe brunette with "captain" sparkling in glitter at the back of her uniform snapped her fingers at Tabitha's face. "Come on, Adams! And when you do that basket toss, suck it in, you understand?" Tabitha fidgeted. "Yes, ma'am." Dwight winced as, with a sickening crunch, a striker from the Kings collided with another from the Lions'. There were problems on the field as people tried to sort it out. "What is happening" "Any minute nowcome on half time" the twins muttered. As the players retreated momentarily to their respective locker rooms at the end of the first half of the game (the Lions perhaps were to rest and plan the slaughter of the Kings, who were probably on the receiving end of Murdoch's infamous wrath), the Banshees started to run into the field to formation. The Dalton boys, no longer entirely too depressed by the two goose eggs sitting on the scoreboard, perked up to watch the "league's hottest cheerleaders" prepare to perform. The Banshees were talentedthey had won second and first runner up titles for the past four yearsand they started off a halftime performance. The Pussycat Dolls blasted from the stadium sound system and St. Patrick's side started to cheer madly. Comprised of basket tosses and gymnastic stunts, the Banshees danced and ground to When I Grow Up with perfect allure, whipping their heavily hairsprayed curls through the air and waving not only to the St. Patrick crowd but also to the Dalton one. The latter block happily responded. "How did you get Coach Sylvester to say yes?" Quinn asked in the dim women's locker room. "I sold my soul," Kurt's voice answered. "I'm yours for Regionals and Nationals. I'm to undergo some hellish nightmare training every Friday night, without complaint or excuse

which includes mutilation and critical illnessto keep up with your routines. Sylvester also has permission to use the Dalton field for whatever top secret performance operations she should need it forand apparently there's a "burying-dead-bodies-in-it" clause somewhere in the contract she drew. that and Reed agreed to buy the whole squad gift certificates to free dinners in Breadsticks for the next month." "I love you, by the way," Santana said from somewhere. "Right" Reed sounded awkward and shifted. "If it'll get us to win this one game for Dalton, I would've bought for two months. Kurt, are you sure you want me to do this?" "You look fine. You'll do fine. You managed to keep up with the whole thing. You don't need to do anything that complicated." "And besides," Santana said wickedly, "We'll only toss you two stories high. No big." "Kurt!" "Santana, stop scaring him; he's not used to that succubus that inhabits your skin. You'll be fine, Reed." "The Banshees are out" said Brittany from near the door. "They're almost done" There was a crowd of bodies at the door now. Santana snorted. "Hottest cheerleaders in the league my ass. Those Banshees are going downwe won't even need Coach Sue's new routine for this one. Our 'limber up' routine is good enough." "Dalton won't know the difference anyway," Kurt answered. He watched as Margot, the head cheerleader walked up front like a supermodel and started blowing kisses to the crowd, even to the Dalton one. His eyes narrowed. "It's on, bitches." Dalton almost never had halftime performances (except for the one time the Warblers performed), and so the Banshees fully expected to make an encore. As they finished their performance of When I Grow Up, they started to attack the crowd to get them warmed up for the second one. They were ready for their next performanceStripper, by the Soho Dolls, designed to effectively kill the entire stadiumbut the opening bars only barely managed to get out before the stadium lights died. The twins looked up and grinned. "Yes!" There was confusion in the stadium as the crowds murmured. On the grounds, however, the Banshees were startled to find other bodies invading the field, dutifully pushing them out of the centre ground with definite authority. "Move. Move." The other girls, vague in the darkness, pushed them off like drill sergeants. "What the hell?" Margot demanded, looking furious as she nearly stumbled, shoved into the rest of the Banshee crowd at the St. Patrick sidelines. Quinn, Brittany and Santana only smiled and turned, walking to their position facing the

Dalton crowd. The lights flickeredand began to change color wildly. When the music started to blast from the speakers, the lights moved in time to the rhythm. A crowd standing in perfect, flawless formation was standing in the middle, heads down, shadows bouncing in the flashing lights. Though at first confused, the boys realized what they were looking atgirls in cheerleading uniforms. They were aided by a small smattering of boysliftersin the same. The red and white Cheerios uniforms flashed with each light beat. The second team of girls was now facing the Dalton crowd, tight ponytails high on their heads, waiting for the cue.

I make them good girls go bad I make them good girls go Good girls go bad
The Dalton stands erupted into wild cheering as confetti exploded from cannons and the Cheerios began to move, right as the music kicked up. Unlike the Banshees, only the backup Cheerios had pompoms. The main phalanx had none, putting all the focus to their hypnotic dance. The Kings, having heard the music and the mad cheering from the Dalton stands, started to pour into the sidelines, watching in shock. Quinn, Santana and Brittany up front; the girls moved with purpose and shot the boys smoldering looks as they performed their flawless dance movesBrittany's twirling and hip moves receiving special attentions. Santana threw them a smirk before doing perfect back handsprings and into the other cheerleaders, where she was caught, lifted and given a basket toss that must have been three stories high. The stands went wild. But it had just begun. It was when a small strawberry-haired boy in Cheerios red-andwhite strode forward with a grin that was almost a smirk, wearing a mic, came striding forward and began to join them in the dance, taking the lead and raising his voice:

I know your type You're daddy's little girl Just take a bite Let me shake up your world 'Cause just one night couldn't be so wrong I'm gonna make you lose control
"Is that Reed?" Dwight burst out in utter shock from the stands as Blaine, mouth open in shock, leaned far over the rail. "It's ReedI don't believe it!" Wes yelled, laughing with the rest of the amazed team.

The twins were yelling at the top of their lungs, cheering with all their might as the Windsor boys went crazy, the Warblers from all houses throwing their flags into the air. Reed was clearly not as expert as the hardcore cheerleaders, but he kept up in fine style for the hyped-up chorus dance.

I make them good girls go bad I make them good girls go bad You were hanging in the corner with your five best friends You heard that I was trouble but you couldn't resist I make them good girls go bad I make them good girls go Good girls go bad
The Cheerios bumped and thrust to the beat, causing both the St. Patrick and Dalton's cheer blocks to go mad as they peeled off in military precision. Reed joined the girls in the dance moves before stepping back and pointing to the group behind him, ducking down to make room afterwards. An entire V-shaped group lifted girls in liberties before they dismounted cradled offand as they fell away, the middle dancers knelt down to reveal Kurt Hummel in his old Cheerios uniform standing with a smirk, singing:

I know your type Boy, you're dangerous Yeah, you're that guy I'd be stupid to trust But just one night couldn't be so wrong You make me wanna lose control
He finished his lines with a smirk and a wink that nearly had Blaine going into heart failure. The twins smirked mercilessly at him, pretending to shake him back to reality. "Yeah!" David yelled, clapping his gloved hands.

I make them good girls go bad I make them good girls go bad You were hanging in the corner with your five best friends You heard that I was trouble but you couldn't resist

I make them good girls go bad I make them good girls go Good girls go bad
Kurt, having been trained far more rigorously than Reed, was moving almost perfectly with the Cheerios now as they performed a succession of dance moves combined with gymnastics. From behind him, Reed mounted and was thrown into the air in a backflip, causing the Dalton boys to cheer like mad. Reed would go on record later to say that he had never met girls who were so ferociously strong in his life. Kurt and Reed performed simultaneous front handspringsKurt adding a roundoff to his before they stood up front and the group mimed a military march in their dance, the Cheerios chorusing with them.

Oh, she's got away with the boys in the place Treat 'em like they don't stand a chance And he's got away with the girls in the back Acting like they're too hot to dance Yeah, she's got away with the boys in the place Treat 'em like they don't stand a chance And he's got away with the girls in the back Acting like they're too hot to dance
With every line, Dalton responded with a deafening cheer. The song continued with this same effect and even the players on the sidelines were starting to dance. The St. Patrick crowd had started to join in and their stunned Banshees could hardly react. A final pyramid and pose from the entire squad, along with no less than four erupting confetti cannons, reduced the stadium to pandemonium, and vuvuzelas trumpeted in all directions as the boys pounded at the rails with their flags. The Cheerios stood triumphant, with Kurt and Reed panting in the front with Quinn, Brittany and Santana. "I can't believe we just did that," Reed muttered, holding the pose and looking at the animated Dalton crowd. "Look at these guys!" "If it was this easy to get these guys riled up, I'd've done this sooner," Kurt smirked. There was a furious commotion from the back. "Excuse melet me through hereHEY!" The last word came from Margot, who, up close, towered over Kurt as she stood a full six feet tall with solid limbs and rock hard abs that rivaled Brittany's. "What the hell is going on here?" she demanded. "You guys deliberately interrupted our

performanceyou're not even from Dalton! Dalton doesn't have any girls!" "All right, Miss Sandpaper-Skinned Amazon, if that's how you want it" Sue Sylvester approached with a cool expression, giving the Banshees a once over as the Cheerios stood at sane distanceKurt gathered Reed up under his wing and moved him away from crossfire. "Interesting assortment of frightened baby mice you've gathered hereI'm sure they'll be killed swiftly yet painfully once we decide to weed out the competition for Regionals this year. Or maybe we won't have to once they break their necks from those hideously executed deadmans you've been doing all afternoon. My shares in funeral parlors will soar." "That doesn't change anything!" Margot blurted out. "You're not" "It just so happens that I have leverage in these matters after six straight years of winning nationals with our ridiculously overproduced routinesI have it on good authority, based on extreme blackmailing, creative torture methods and my contract, that the Cheerios will cheer for whoever we want to cheer at any given time, which includes cheering over the forthcoming demise of your squad if we feel like it. If you like, we may even use pompoms made of your greasy, unwashed hair as a sign of mourning." She leaned over to Margot. "Now turn your little implanted butt cheeks around, and go back to your basecamp before we throw our emergency rations of high-protein powder at you and eat you alive." Margot colored scarlet and purple. She whirled around, snapping her fingersand the Banshees followed her, looking back frightened at Sue. The fearsome coach now turned to Kurt. "Porcelain, I expect you to be in the field by Friday." Kurt just smiled. The Cheerios looked amused. At this point, the Kings had torn into the field started throwing themselves onto them. "That was great!" Wes said, wildly elated. "I had no idea you cheered, Kurt!" David exclaimed. "That was hotdefinitely hot," Wes agreed, grinning broadly. He turned to the other boys, "Come on, let's go get these Lions!" In a united battle cry, the Kings ran into the field. The Windsor boys started leaping over the barricades and to Kurt and Reed on the grounds, where they were subsequently smothered by hugs of gratitude. Dalton won the game with their single goal coming from Wes' furious charge through the field with only seconds left to the game. The whole time, the Cheerios jumped up and down cheering on the sidelines, urging the Dalton boys to cheer along and rousing the Kings' spirits. David held on to the endnot a single goal went past him, even if he did end up concussing himself on a post. Confetti fell from the sky as the Dalton students leapt at their team's first victory over St. Patrick's in four years, firmly rooting in Kurt's mind the power of hormones over a single-

gender community. It was after the game, when the team had been back in the locker room and the Windsor boys were escorting the Cheerios to their bus, that Mr. Harvey came up to them. "Hello, Kurt, Reed," He was smiling broadly. "Interesting performance." The two just laughed, Kurt sliding a hand carefully over his hair to fix his bangs. Greg continued, "If you two manage to pull off that same energy for your other duet later this evening, I'd be very glad to put that particular song into our repertoire." "Seriously?" Reed laughed, surprised. "You two also seem to be quite good at movement. Ms. Medel and I would like to look into the possibility of a bit more movement in our routines as the New Directions are clearly able to move and sing." "Sounds great!" Kurt said, grinning. "I already have ideas." "Not too overboard, all right?" Greg smiled. "Shall we be expecting your parents? Both of you?" "Yes," Kurt nodded, and Reed did the same, but he looked a trifle uncomfortable. Greg looked at him, and put a hand on his shoulder. "You'll do fine." And he left. Kurt glanced at his friend. Reed glanced up at him and smiled. "I really liked performing with you out there. I didn't know it was that much fun to be the center of the performance." "Of course it is," Kurt grinned. "And you'll dazzle your mom, I'm sure." "Yeah" Reed just smiled. He looked up to something behind Kurt, then grinned. "Gonna go make sure the twins keep their creepy off the girls and vice versa with Dwight." He fled. Kurt was a little surprised, and he turned and found Blaine standing there with a smile. "Nice performance. Pretty unexpected." "What can I sayI have many sides to me." Kurt smiled, turning a bit red. He was still wearing the fitting Cheerios uniform that showed off his body in devastating style. Blaine was contemplating it. He gestured to it. "You should keep that, you know." "Why?" "It looks terribly good on you." After hearing what he said in the hall, Kurt colored to his scalp. "Rightwelldon't get used to it. It's not going to happen again." "Who knows? Maybe it will. You've given the boys a taste and they'll want the Cheerios

back. And I kind of like seeing you so lively." He smiled. "You looked happier as the center." "And that, you'll definitely see again tonight."

Episode 13: The Wild One "No!" a huffy plop onto a plush bed. "Reed, stop being ridiculous. You just sang and danced for both Dalton and St. Patrick." Kurt glowered at him, starting to get incredibly annoyed. "Yes, but when I did, I wasn't in front of the alums. And not in front of my mother! I nearly broke my neck when those girls threw mewhat if I fall onstage?" Reed was biting his nails again and Kurt smacked his hand away. "Stop that. We've got two hours until performance. Stop psyching yourself out and let loose! You did all right at it earlier." The countdown was two hours before the Winter fest. The boys, after the great St. Patrick victory, had all retreated back to their dormitories and began to pack. The fest marked the last day they were to be in school, and many of them would be leaving school with their parents when it ended. Reed had spent his time fretting in his room, his things utterly unpacked. As far as he was concerned, he only needed to bring home books for the vacation homeworkthe Van Kamp heir would be the last person who would need to pack clothes or necessities. He wasn't even moving into Kurt's room until they returned next year. Kurt had pulled his massive suitcase of things into Reed's room to try to talk some sense into the second lead, who seemed to be having even more stage fright than he had earlier in the field, mainly due to self-inflicted pressure. "You know, you just need to get back into the zone?" he suggested. "You said it yourself, you had fun out there. This time isn't going to be different. Call it a warm up." He got up and headed for Reed's gleaming Bose sound system. "What are you doing?" Reed blinked as Kurt pushed some buttons. The drums pounded in, and at the first electric guitar riff, Reed's eyes widened. "Oh nooh no no no no" he backed away as the Rent song continued to blast through the room. "Yes, yes, yescome on!" Kurt pulled him into the middle common of the room. "But" "If you're not going to sing it, I'll start for you!"

What's the time? Well it's gotta be close to midnight My body's talking to me It says, 'Time for danger'
Kurt was dancing circles around Reed, whose resolve seem to be breaking at the urge to laugh at Kurt's exaggeratedly flirty dancing. The first lead was barely able to control his

laughter either, playing air guitar with the music. He pushed Reed forward, who was barely able to sing as he laughed, urging him to go crazy. Reed threw clothes all over the room, shaking out his curls. "Sing already!" Kurt yelled, throwing a Chanel hat into his friend's face. Reed, smothering giggles, acquiesced:

I've had a knack from way back At breaking the rules once I learn the game Get-up life's too quick I know someplace sick Where this chick'll dance it the flames
Dancing wildly around the room, the two were starting to make quite a mess, and quite a ruckus, as the music continued to blast. Kurt swung around Reed's bedpost as the latter continued to headbang, hair whipping. The two sung loudly, hardly caring if they were heard.

We don't need any money I always get in for free You can get in too If you get in with me Let's go out tonight! I have to go out tonight You wanna play? Let's run away We won't be back before it's New Years Day Take me out tonight!
The two burst out of the room with clothes flying everywhere, scaring the living daylights out of Dwight, who was in the hall carrying clean laundry. He stared as the twosome continued flailing down the hall. Reed did a hammerslide down the hall and nearly would have crashed into one of the decorative vases if Kurt hadn't grabbed onto his arm with a laugh. Wes poked his head out of his room to watch the spectacle unfold. "What the hell?" David stared from where he was coming up the stairsthe two charging past and music still tearing from Reed's open room. The two continued to sing:

When I get a wink from the doorman Do you know how lucky you'll be? That you're on line with the feline of Avenue B Let's go!
The twins, coming out of the common room, saw them dancing down the stairs and heartily joined in, each one grabbing a lead singer and joined in their dancing in exaggerated near-perverse gestures. Blaine came out of the common room and stared in surprise.

Let's go out tonight I have to go out tonight You wanna prowl, be my night owl! Well take my hand, we're gonna howl Out tonight!
Ethan, who had Kurt, flung him off to Blaine, who caught him in his arms, startled. Kurt only grinned, drunk with adrenaline. Amidst hoots from up above from the other Dalton boys, he sidled daringly up to Blaine and danced as he sang:

Let's find a bar So dark we forget who we are And all the scars from the 'never's and 'maybe's die!
Blaine burst into laughter and grinned as he let him dance close, before releasing him and letting him join Reed and the twins again. This time nearly the whole crowd on the first floor joining in the dance

Let's go out tonight Have to go out tonight You're sweetwanna hit the street? Wanna wail at the moon like a cat in heat? Just take meout tonight! Tonight! Tonight!
As the song ended, all of Windsor house burst into laughter and applause. Kurt had

ended up against Blaine again, and the two laughed at each other, fingers lacing through their held hands. The twins and Reed were making exaggerated bows and throwing kisses at their "adoring" crowd. "He's definitely one of us now," David smirked as he watched Kurt gesture towards Reed again, causing the crowd to applaud further. "You're only a real Windsor when you end up doing something like that on a whim." "I'm so proud!" Wes exclaimed, pretending to be choked up in tears. "I can't wait until he makes his first case of destruction of property!" The people downstairs were still laughing and bowing when there was the sound of someone clearing his throat loudly. They all turned to find that the doors to Windsor were open, and standing there was House Head Howard, looking at them with a frown. Next to him, nearly matching his height, was a very expensively-dressed woman from whose neck and ears dripped jewels and wore a pair of Chanel sunglasses in spite of the darkness of the night. The boys froze. The clothes that Kurt and Reed were flinging around were still everywhere. The toilet paper rolls that the boys upstairs had thrown were bouncing down from the stairs and some fell from the overhead rails. "Um" Howard frowned at them. "Don't most of you have packing to do?" Kurt's eyes were magnetized to the woman. Her blonde hair was almost white with all the levels of platinum on her, severely pulled back from an incredible pair of cheekbones modeled with expensive makeup. His mental bauble department informed him that she was wearing no less than four designer labels on her size zero frame. When she took off her glasses to scan the mess, he recognized the brown eyes. "Mom" Reed murmured, turning shock white. Hilde Van Kamp smiled tightly. "Hello, darling."

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. This is it. The last day before we all get out. I can't say I'll miss their antics, but I think I feel a twinge at the idea that I won't be seeing all the guys until next year.
and Blaine. I won't see Blaine again until next year.

So now is all we've all got. One night to close the year.
"Mrs. Van Kamp" Howard began. "Hilde, please." The woman said shortly.

"Hilde has come to see Reed," Howard nodded. He gave the boys an "I'm-watching-you" glower and stepped out. "Mom, hi" Reed breathed as he moved over to his mother, giving her a quick hug. He was received warmly by the towering womanReed inherited nothing of her height, but he had her eyes and her curlswho patted his back. "Darling," said Hilde in a tone that only the truly chic were able to cultivate. She gingerly picked a piece of lint off her son's uniform lapel and then smiled brightly. "You lookwell." She studied the band aids on the hands and the one on his arm. "You look well." She may have expected to find Reed injured more seriously. She tutted. "Reed, I told you not to fold up your sleeves." She tugged them down, and frowned at the wrinkles that resulted on the sleeves. Supremely uncomfortable at the attention, Reed pried away from her a moment and gestured to the others. "I was just, um" "Hey, Ms. Hilde!" the twins chorused from where they stood, smiling, already very familiar with her. "Hello boys," Hilde smiled and nodded to the others as well, "Blaine" The prefect smiled gallantly. She looked up at the rail. "Wes, David" the two cracked grins and nodded at her, heading downstairs. "and Dwight" spiritualist awkwardly gave her a wave. And then her eyes landed on Kurt. She smiled even more broadly, if not tightly, now. "And this must be Kurt." "Yes, I told you about him!" Reed said, elated. "He and I get along pretty well." "I can tell," Hilde said, walking up to the rather starstruck countertenor. The woman was, after all, a famous, if not fearsome, fashion magazine editor who regularly shipped clothes that weren't even in stores yet to her son. "Reed tells me you have fine taste in clothing as well." "Well, I try," Kurt preened, smiling. "What were you and Reed doing just now?" she asked, sounding genuinely curious. "It sounded quite lively." Seeing the look on Reed's face, Blaine quickly said, "They were singing. Just warming up for the performance later. Reed here had just been made one of the two leads in the Warblers' performance for tonight." "He's really amazing," Kurt added. The mother looked nonplussed for a moment, and Reed squirmed desperately, sensing danger. "Guys, you don't have to" "Sing? Lead?" Hilde looked confused. She frowned and looked down at Reed. "This is news to me. Is this a requirement? What about your painting for the big exhibit? Did you forget you're to have a gala exhibit by next week?"

"No" Reed said softly. "It'sextracurricular. I'mI'm a member of our school choir." "Oh." Kurt knew that that "oh" meant. It was something fashion editors did when they looked at a piece that they didn't particularly love nor particularly hated. Steeling himself, he quickly said, "The Warblers won Sectionals this year. Reed was one of us." "So you're one too" Hilde murmured, giving Kurt a thorough appraisal with her eyes. Kurt found it odd how she could look so frigid when she had the same warm brown eyes Reed had. She seemed to deem him harmless when she just shrugged slightly in her fur stole and looked at her son. "Now, darling, this is nice and all, but hadn't you called me over for something else?" "What do you mean?" Reed asked awkwardly. "I assumed you've completed your paintings, of course," Hilde said bluntly. "You have a gala in a few days. I still must ask you to consider photography, dearyou might do so much better with it. And if you want to get cracking on design, I imagined you would've also completed your portfolio by now. I'm to give it to Tim Gunn next week?" The expression on Reed's face made everyone in the entrance hall look positively uncomfortable. Some of the boys had already left to give them privacy, and not willing to watch this. The Windsor conspirators stayed watching silently. Reed flustered, "I wanted you to come and watch me! That's why I called you! You heard me singing just now, right? Whatwhat did you think?" Hilde looked at her son with boundless affectionand what may have been sympathy. "That's really very nice, darling. Mommy is very happy for you. Just as long as you don't forget what's really important." She patted his cheek. "Don't forget, you're on the verge of becoming a household name. Don't you worry, I'll handle everything and make sure you get what you deserve." "Soyou're not going to watch me sing?" Reed asked softly as his mother started digging into her bag, pulling out what was unmistakably the solid gold D&G phone. Hilde seemed to sigh, "Of course I'll watch, dear But you won't mind if we don't stay for cocktails? Our flight will leave for New York in a few hours and I haven't yet contacted the rep at Monique Lhullier about that gown they want to make for the princess-to-be" "Ms. Hilde?" the twins spoke up. Evan said, "If you likeyou can go ahead. We're also flying to the East Coast, we'll take Reed in our jet."

Jet? If Kurt hadn't been so startled at Hilde's inability to detect her son's discomfort, he would've gaped at the twins.
"Really." Hilde blinked. "Yes, he'll be fine with us," said Ethan with a smile. "We'llkeep him busy." "That's fine, then," Hilde waved it on and put the phone to her ear. She gave Reed a short hug. "Talk to you later at the ballroom, sweetie. Yes, hello? Patricia! I saw those

photos from the show" she walked out of Windsor without another word. Silence fell over the hall. Reed was staring at the floor. Kurt walked up to him, not knowing exactly what to say. He put a hand on his shoulder. "Reed?" The shorter boy looked up, smiling a little. "Yeah, that's mom. She'spretty awesome, huh? She's got everyone at her feet." Blaine looked at him, almost apologetic in his expression. "She'll come around, Reed. She loves you to bits, she just" he shook his head, as though realizing how the earlier exhibition did not entirely support those words. "I know if she hears you sing onstage tonight, she'll get it. There's just no way she wouldn't." "It's not a big deal," Reed said firmly. He held his head up, blinking. "This had always been the plan for me. I paint, I designI take over. I like painting anyway, so it makes sense. She's only looking out for me anyway Being a Warbler is" he trailed off. "something you just really want to do?" Kurt finished. Wes crossed his arms over his chest. "Was that on a whim, Reed? When you joined? Because when I saw you audition, you were scared to death but you fought for it." "Medel saw that you gave it everythingthat's why she let you join, right? And for the lead for this performance?" David added, raising an eyebrow. "You fought for that too. You were sure you were outclassed, but you ran into it anyway." "Doesn't sound like anything you would do just because you felt like it" the twins tilted their heads at him. "Guys" Reed shook his head, as though trying to convince himself. "Mom isn'tshutting me down or anything! She looks out for me. If she saw that I really had potential, she wouldsupport me. Maybe all she's saying is that II just don't have a future in singing." He shrugged with a laugh that had no conviction. "I have the rest of high school to sing with you guys. I have that at least, right? So when I stopI could look back at this and see that I had a great time." The boys looked at each other. From above, Dwight looked displeased, openly glowering. Reed smiled a little. "Igot to go upstairs. Change uniforms. Mom hates wrinkles." He motioned to his sleeves and went upstairs, picking his way through the mess. As soon as he was gone, Kurt looked at the others with a frown. "How long has he been like that?" he demanded. "I knew his mom didn't approve, but you didn't tell me he's gone into that frame of thinking." "There's nothing you can actually do about his mother," Blaine said haltingly, not approving of the situation. "Reed's her only child. She's placed her fashion empire on his shoulders. She'd been doing that since he was eleven." "But he really wants to sing!" Kurt protested.

"And we really want him to keep doing it," David said patiently. "We know Reed can sing, we know he's amazing. But did you hear what he said? What will happen to him after that?" "A lot of the kids herethey've got the same deal," explained Wes. "They go to boarding school, get excellent marks, then go on to take over their parents' businesses. It's been like that from generation to generation. even with us." "Hasn't anyone here ever asked what Reed actually wants to do with his life?" Kurt exploded, making them all wince. He turned and stomped upstairs. "Kurt" Blaine began, but he thought better of it and let him go. Dwight gave the furious one room as he came down to the others. He sighed and looked at them. "This is what they call culture shock, I imagine." "I take it Kurt has no plans on inheriting his dad's garage?" Evan said, trying to see the situation from the other boy's point of view. "Like neither of you ever complained about how things are," grumbled Dwight. He threw up his arms. "I want to go out into the open road! Saving people, hunting things! I want to be something more than Dwight Houston, theme park-owner-to-be! I don't even get to go on the rides anytime I want!" "Dwight" Blaine glared at them. "He has a point. I don't know about the rest of you, but I think Reed needs to have a say in all this. He looked like his mother just shot him when she said that she didn't even come to hear him sing originally." He sighed. "If Reed really wants what his mom wants, then there's nothing we can do. But if, for the barest chance, he wanted to do something else with his lifethe same way the rest of us dowe have to at least help him fight to be heard." "His mother scares me," Dwight muttered. "We're going up against that? She'll eat us alive." "It's not going to be done in one night," David warned. "It'll take progressively breaking down her resolve." There was a moment of consideration. Then the twins smiled. "Challenge accepted." Contrary to popular opinion, the Orion Ballroom was not named for the great glass and gold skydome it had that was dotted with lights, that revealed the night sky outside. It was a clear Ohio evening, and stars twinkled overhead, slightly overpowered by the mass of candles and lights that decorated the entire ballroom itself. The selection of flowers were so white and pale that the place almost began to look as though it were a wedding. Students, alumni and parents were already entering the hall in their cocktail wear. The

Warblers were the only students there dressed in uniforms. The Warblers opened and closed the Music Fest as they did every year, performing before and after all the individual competitors from each house made their move. "Dad!" Kurt ran down the entrance hall to over to his father and gave him a big hug. Burt laughed and hugged his son, patting him heavily on the back. Kurt sighed happily. "I missed you guys so much." "Oh, we missed you too, Kurt," Carole said warmly, smiling and giving him a hug. Kurt hugged her back and smiled at his two parents. Finn was not in attendancethe Cheerios had told Kurt earlier that the McKinley glee club were invading Schuester's home for the night, and Kurt had asked them to greet him a Merry Christmas in his stead. "Gotta say, we were worried about you," Burt admitted, wearing what was unmistakably the same tux suit he had worn to the wedding, without the tie. "Especially after you got snowed in that one time. You're all right here, right? No problems?" "Yeah," Kurt said, smiling. "They guys arewell, they're not really problems. They're veryexcitable." Burt gave him a look that made it seem that he didn't really understand what that meant, and Carole said, "Well that's good to hear. You know, Finn might not show it very much, but he's trying very hard to be there for you. He seemed a bit worried even after he met all your friends." "I know he isand while he as some good reason to, he doesn't need to," Kurt said with a small smile, remembering how this time last year, he would have killed to have Finn Hudson worrying about him. "In fact, I need him to stop being neurotic. He's got his own problems." He smiled at his father again and hugged him again. After earlier's events, he just realized even more how fortunate he was to have a father like him. "Really missed you." "You miss us that much, then you oughto come home," Burt said, smiling a bit, halfjoking. "You had to go to boarding school just when we found a house that'd give everyone their own rooms" Kurt just laughed. From down the hall, Logan leaned by one of the columns, watching Kurt talk to his family. Derek hovered near him, still not looking pleased. Unlike Logan, Derek was not in uniform and looked clean cut in pleated pants and a high-necked shirt with a jacket. "What are you going to do now?" he asked the taller boy, who never took his eyes off Kurt. Logan just shook his head. "I don't know either." Derek gave him a long look, then shook his head and glanced at his watch. "Whatever, I'm going to go pick up my date. You're gonna manage being by yourself for ten minutes?" he asked sarcastically. "Get out of here, Derek," said Logan, straightening up and brushing his collar off.

Derek took two steps, stopped and turned. "did you take your medication?" "Yes," Logan said in an ingratiatingly polite voice. But he forced a smile at him. "I'm fine, man. I love my haze of gray nothing. Get out of here, go get your date. I'm to pick up mine." He smiled and backed from his friend. Derek just rolled his eyes, shaking his head as he went down the hall. Logan waited for him to go and turned back to where Kurt stood, without any of the other Windsors. Just him and his parents. Of course he didn't take them. He liked how he felt when he was near Kurt. If he was numbed down, he wouldn't have that. It was the only thing that made him smile anymore. And the others just didn't seem to understand that. As he approached, he saw Kurt look up. To his vast surprise, Kurt smiled when he saw him. For a moment, he wondered if Blaine was behind him. He glanced around and saw no one. He turned back and saw Kurt laughing a little. Kurt felt too happy at the sight of his parents to be angry at anyone anymore tonight. He turned to his parents and said, "And speaking of the Warblers" he gestured to Logan. "This is Logan. He's one of the lead singers." "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Hummel," Logan smiled, genuinely, for the first time days. "Pleased to meet you." "This one we haven't met before," Carole said, smiling appreciatively at the tall boy as Logan shook hands with Burt. "We saw some of the others when you moved your stuff out, right Kurt?" "No, Logan's from another dormitory," Kurt explained. "Blaine and the others are from the same one I'm in." At the mention of his rival's name, Logan felt somewhat jilted, but he pushed it aside with ease when Kurt glanced at him again with those eyes of his. He said to Burt, "I heard you worked on cars, Mr. Hummel." "You can call me Burt," said the older man with a nod. "And yes, I do." "Is Kurt any good at that too? Because so far, all I've ever seen him do is sing and put together some really crazy outfits." Logan grinned. Kurt gaped at him and punched him lightly in the arm. Burt laughed. "Boy, you should see him when I ask him to work in those clothes of his" "Calling the attention of the Warblers" came the voice of Ms. Medel over the sound system. "Please gather in the green room in five minutes. Thank you." "Ahisn't that always the way" Logan smiled, glancing to the stage. He looked at Kurt. "It's your big debut." "So it is" Kurt sighed, smiling broadly. "Finally. It only took a couple of weeks to put me in my right spot." To which Logan laughed.

"You'll do great," Carole said encouragingly. "Break a leg out there." "Let's go?" Logan asked Kurt with a smile, and the countertenor nodded. He looked to the parents. "Catch you guys later." "See you, dad," said Kurt, as he left with the taller boy. As they left, Carole had a knowing smile on her face as she watched them head off towards the green room. Burt saw her expression, and frowned a bit. "What?" "You didn't notice?" she asked. "Notice what?" "The way Logan smiled at Kurt. He lookedreally happy." "Then maybe he's just really happy," Burt harrumphed, crossing his arms over his chest. In his private opinion, he found Logan a little intense. And that his son was getting a little too popular. And for no apparent reason, he suddenly wondered where his shotgun was. "I know that look" laughed Carole when she saw his expression. "Don't you think it's nice that people here like Kurt? It's certainly better than back in McKinley" "As long as it's all platonic" Burt grumbled under his breath. "I'm just not prepared to have any conversations with Kurt right now about" "Hey, Mr. Hummel!" the parents looked up to see Blaine approaching them with a smile. He too was already impeccably dressed in his school uniform. Carole immediately brightened up, recognizing him. "Hello, Blaine." Burt just nodded, spotting another 'potential' and wondering where these boys were coming from. At least this one, Kurt seemed to like. Blaine just smiled. "Glad you could make it. Have you seen Kurt yet?" "Yeah, we just saw him," Burt answered, nodding again. "He just headed for the, uh, green room. With that other boywhat's his name?Logan." Carole caught that flicker of alarm flashed through Blaine's eyes and felt a little concerned. She carefully pointed to where the two went. "You can still catch up to them. They went down there." "Thanks, Mrs. Hummel." Blaine nodded at Burt with a smile. "See you later, Mr. Hummel." And barely able to remain composed, he fled their presence. Burt, watching him go and rather aghast at his exodus, now turned to Carole. "What was that all about?" "Now Burt" Carole put a comforting hand on his arm and smiled. "I think Blaine has it under control." "What? How do you know?" he glanced back to where Blaine went and then back at his new wife. "You actually trust those kids?"

"Not a bitbut I trust Blaine enough to know that he'll look after Kurt," she answered with a smile. "You saw them back when they visited. He's practically attached to his hip" "Can we not have that kind of discussion right now, Carole?" Burt looked like he was having a migraine. Carole laughed and led him towards the main area, where the cocktail tables crowded, wreathed in light. Blaine hurried down the hallway, for the first time cursing the size of Dalton's largest event hall. He had never been comfortable in leaving any of the Windsors alone with Loganthough how the Twins stood to be borderline friendly with the Stuart prefect eluded himmuch less leaving him alone with Kurt. He could help remembering that time in Sectionals when Kurt came back shaken and Logan had cut knuckles. Something had happened then, and something was going to happen now. "BlaineBlaine!" He stopped at a familiar voice and turned around. Someone was hurrying to him, his pearl gray jacket undone again and his shirt barely completely closed. Blaine stared in surprise and confusion at someone he had not quite expected to be present. "Shane?" "Hey, big brother!" grinned the boy who actually stood taller than his brother, but had the same crop of dark hair. Blaine's was tamed down with product, but this newcomers' curls hung free and around his head. He was Blaine's contrastwhere Blaine looked utterly tidy, Shane was the appearance of haste and flighty expression. Blaine was short, stocky and put together, but Shane was taller, leaner and languorous. But they both shared a notable resemblance to each other. He reached him, panting, and clapped a hand on his older brother's shoulder. "Found you!" "Aren't you supposed to be in Colorado?" Blaine asked, confused, staring at him and helping him stand. "Was," shrugged the newcomer with a grin, his green-gray eyes sparkling in mischief. "Back early for the holidays! Boarding school blows. Mine, I mean, not yours. Seen mom and dad yet?" Blaine paused with only the slightest widening of his eyes. "dad came?" "Yeah," Shane sighed. "They're taking us all off to the West Coast for the holidays." The older's smile tightened. "I never go anywhere with dad for the holidays, Shane." "Please?" Shane begged, staring at him, immediately losing his smile. "Come on, Blaine, you can at least try. Don't you think it's time that you and dad" Blaine pushed away Shane's hand on his shoulder, shaking his head briefly. "No. I think what happened over last year's Thanksgiving party was enough." "Dad was just" "He insisted on setting me up with a girl! Does that tell you anything?"

"All rightso he did." The younger boy sighed deeply. "And yes, I do admit that was colossal asshattery in dad's part. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't had that much second hand embarrassment since Jessica Simpson asked if buffalo wings were from buffaloes." Blaine smiled a little and patted his brother's shoulder. "Look at us. I haven't seen you in forever and this is what we're talking about. You all right?" "Ehsame. Bored. Studying. Bored. Sports. Bored." He paused. "Started dating again." Blaine raised an eyebrow. Shane turned crimson. "Don't look at me like that, Blaine. You took the bullet for me, I might as well keep up good behavior." "And you wonder why I don't want to come home." "Don't do this, Blaine, come on, please?" the younger brother looked at a loss. "I know dad's beenwell he's been hard on you. But think about mom! Think about me! We want to see you, manyou can't run away for the holidays again. See, we all came to see you today." He gave him a big smile, opening his arms, preparatory to engulfing him in a gargantuan hug. "Don't do this. Come home." Blaine started to explain, but then thought better of it and sighed. "People have been telling me not to do things all week" he stopped and remembered his original errand. "Ahdamn it! Shane, you made me forget what I was running around for!" he bolted down the hall. "Hey you're not getting away from me!" his brother exclaimed, chasing him. "What's the matter with youyou forget how to properly end a conversation?" "I have to find Logan and Kurt!" Blaine shot back. "Logan? Logan's here again? I thought you said your boyfriend got kicked out?" Blaine nearly killed him, lunging at him and just missing him. "He's not my boyfriend anymore!" "What? Why?" Shane stared. "You were crazy about him! And that other guy, what's his name" Blaine sometimes wondered why he liked his brother so much when he seemed incapable of being quiet. They were already being given odd looks by the people in the hall that they raced past. Wes, who was getting a drink of water, straightened up to see the two of them charging towards him. Wes blinked. "Hey Blaine. AndShane? What the hell, man, when'd you get back?" "Oh, just this morning!" was the answer with a friendly grin, giving the still confused Wes a high five. "Have you seen Kurt?" Blaine asked desperately.

"Who's Kurt again?" Shane blinked. "Is he your new boyfriend? Damn, brohow many'd you have while I was gone?" Wes waved Shane's question awayit was too complicated a query. "Haven't seen him. Medel's looking for him. Harvey's prepared to issue sanction if he's late!" "His parents told me he was with Logan," Blaine said. Wes' eyes widened and he blanched so fast that Shane grabbed the water cup and threw it into his face. Spluttering, Wes snatched the cup back from Shane with a glare. "What's the matter with you?" "You totally phased out, man." "Shane, not now, please" Blaine pushed his brother away for a moment. Shane threw up his hands dramatically, turning on his heel. "They were supposed to be in the green room" "Hey!" Reed came skidding towards them. "You guyswoah!" he tripped over his own feet, for what must have been the third time that dayand landed ungracefully onto the floor. Wes bent down and helped him up, rolling his eyes. "How you managed to do the entire Cheerios performance without a hitch is beyond my understanding." "No, actually, that was just luckyand those girls were really strong," Reed hastily brushed off his pants. "We're on in a bit! I'm not going out there by myselfwhere's Kurt?" "Why is everyone looking for that guy?" Shane asked, wide-eyed, turning back to them, waving his arms. "Who is he?" Reed asked, blinking up at Shane. "Someone who's just leaving?" Blaine said emphatically at his brother, looking to get him out of his hair for five seconds. But Shane slid past him smoothlyin a manner disturbingly reminiscent of Blaine's twirling dance stepsand grinned his most winning smile. "Hi, I'm" he stopped instantly, staring. "oh." Reed blinked up at him, a little confused at his abrupt stop. "Um, I'm Reedare you okay?" After a beat, Shane blinked and came to. "Pardon me for five seconds." He grabbed Blaine by the jacket and hauled him to the side in spite of the older one's struggles. "Whoisthat." "What?" Blaine stared. "Whoisthat!" Shane lost his pauses when unnerved, he flailed towards Reed's direction. "Didn't he just introduce himself to you?" "Whatiswrongwithhim? Whydidyounotmentionhim?"

"I didyou never listen to me. Shane, this is really not the time!" It was at this point that Logan and Kurt reappeared into the hallway, stopping short at the small crowd in the way. Simultaneously, at the other end of the hall, David materialized with Derekwho had with him Tabitha Adamsboth looking deeply unhappy. They stopped upon seeing the assembled. At the same moment, Greg and Sylvia came through an adjoining hallthe former looking furious, the latter looking worried. They were flanked by Hilde and a man in impeccable clothing that they didn't at once recognize. The entire mass stared at each other. David's eyes widened. "Wes?" "David?" his best friend blinked, and looked at the two with him. "Tabitha?" "Derek?" Reed stared at the pair with David. "Reed!" Hilde gasped at the sight of her once again rumpled son. "Shane?" Logan stared, confused, at the sight of Blaine's brother. "Kurt?" Blaine looked, also confused. "Logan!" the man in the suit looked as though he would explode. "What the hell is going on here?" Greg finally boomed, causing every boy in the hall to wince at his uncommon wrath. "You're all on in five minutes! What are you doing here? Kurt! Reed! Let's go!" "My goodness" Hilde swooped down and grabbed her son's wrist, looking annoyed. She pulled him to her and quickly tried to straighten him up. But the man in the suit crossed the hall and straight up to Logan, who looked up at him without batting an eye. The man looked distinguished, with dark blond hair that grayed slightly at the sides. And he had Logan's eyes. He grabbed Logan's elbow. "You're coming with me, right now, I've had enough of this." "No, I'm not!" Logan shot back, tearing himself free, looking furious. "Why the hell are you even here?" "Logan!" Sylvia said, scandalized. She looked up at the man. "Mr. Wright, pleasethis isn't the place" "What's this I hear that you haven't been taking your medication?" the man snarled to his son. "Have you completely lost your mind?" Every student that wasn't a Stuart now looked confused. Blaine looked from him to Logan, brow furrowed. "Medication?"

Kurt looked startled. "What do you mean he takes medication? For what?" Logan, stunned, turned to Derek, who turned white. "I didn't tell him, Logan, I swear!" "It doesn't matter who told me!" John Logan Wright, Jr. exploded onto his son, the third. "You can't be doing this to yourself anymore, Logan! I'm taking you back to New York right now!" Logan stepped back, his whole body vibrating in rage. "You're not taking me anywhere! You left me here when you couldn't take the heat! When you knew I'd ruin you trying to run for office!" Breathing hard, he grabbed Kurt's wrist. Kurt looked startled and Blaine moved to peel him off, but Kurt stopped him. He was looking up at Logan as though analyzing him. Logan glanced around frantically and pointed to his father. "And you know what? I like it here. It might totally suck and it might be in the middle of fucking nowhere, and maybe everyone in here hates my guts, but I'm not going anywhere! I want to be someplace for once! I'm sick of you dropping me whenever it's inconvenient to you!" "Stop itSTOP!" Greg finally exploded. "All of you!" Silence. The entire hall looked deeply awkward. Greg glowered at them all. He turned to Wes and David. "Find the Dean. Tell her we're going to be a little late." "But" "GO!" and the two fled, throwing confused looks at the others. Wes dragged the frightened Tabitha along with him. Hilde grabbed Reed's wrist and pulled him away from the scene. "Mom!" Reed cried. "Let's go,Reed," she said with blunt finality. Reed pulled her to a stop and tore his wrist away from her. "No." he said shakily. "I've got to be with my friends." And he ran back to the others. Hilde stood staring at her son's suddenness. Greg glanced at Logan, seeing the look in his eyes. He seemed to be completely aware of Logan's condition. He carefully said, "Logan. Please let go of Kurt." Logan shook. He glanced at Kurt, and saw that he looked a little shaken. This made him let go immediately, realizing what he was doing. "I" His father now made to move forward to charge at him again, but to everyone's surprise, Blaine leapt between them, blocking his way. Mr. Wright loomed down at him, but Blaine didn't move. "I think Logan said he wanted to stay," he said quietly. Derek glanced at them and crossed the room, standing next to Blaine. "Logan's doing all right, Mr. Wright," Derek said formally. "While it's true he stopped taking his medication, I can make sure he doesn't forget again."

"He didn't forget," Mr. Wright snarled, glowering at his now shaken-looking son. "It had been intentional." "We know that," Greg said, looking up at him as he joined the two boys. "But Logan really is improving here. I've never seen him try so hard to control himself before. If you make him leave here nowI can't tell you that it'll make things better." Logan was sitting down against the wall now, Kurt next to him. He held his hand tightly, blue eyes looking determined. "Calm down," he commanded. "I'm trying" Logan muttered. He glanced at him. "Why are you even here?" "Because I can be." Kurt looked intently at him. "I want the guy I met in Warbler's Hall back. The one who sang because he wanted to and played piano. I don't want this angry thing you've turned yourself into. Come on and change back, Logan. I don't know what's happening to you or why, but we've got you." He nodded towards the other boys. "Look over there." Logan raised his eyes and saw Blaine, Reed and Derek standing in his father's path. His eyes rested on Blaine longest. Kurt saw this and smiled a little. "If you've got even Blaine fighting for you, you better not disappoint." The taller boy swallowed, looking calmer now. Kurt released him and got up, joining the others. He stood next to Blaine and both looked up to Logan's father. Sylvia looked at the boys, then up at Senator Wright. "Sir, with all due respect, I'd like to remind you of the conversation we had last year. we'd like to keep Logan for one more year." Mr. Wright snorted like a bull. "He doesn't need a glee clubhe needs therapy." "We are his therapy," Derek said quietly. "We've got Logan all right here. Sure some of us" he didn't look at Blaine, "may not like him all that much But we need him here, I think, more than you do back at New York." The man stood, not prepared to accept this. He glanced at his son, slumped next to the wall, looking up at him with clear green eyes. On either side of him, from nowhere, it seemed, he recognized Evan and Ethan Brightman. The twin boys, who had witnessed the whole spectacle, now chose for the first time to show themselves. But unlike the others, they were completely unafraid of the Senator. "Hello, Mr. Wright," said Evan. "Long time no see," nodded Ethan. "We'll take Logan from here." "You know you can trust us." John Wright recognized the two strange twins that had once befriended his son during Junior High. He looked at the crowd that stood between him and his son and shook his head slowly. He turned to Greg. "I'm holding you personally responsible for all of this."

"Oh, I sure hope so," Greg said, looking intently. "I still can't allow this so easily." Suddenly, Evan said, "Mr. Wright? Have you heard Logan sing?" The strange question made everyone look at him. Ethan smiled. "Yes, have you?" "Logan doesn't sing," the senator looked bewildered. Kurt almost smiled. "Are you sure about that?" The man glanced to the boy at the wall. Logan smiled faintly to himself, and all the Warblers slowly smiled. Even Blaine, and he said, "I really think you should." In the grand ballroom, there were no distinctions in Windsors, Stuarts, or Hanovers. There was only black and white and grayeveryone was dressed according to the color themes on the invitations. The sea of onlookers, comprised of the school's biggest donors, alums, professors and students with their guests, were watching the stage as Logan stood alone in the spotlight. In that ocean, Mr. Wright watched, his new wife Michelle standing next to him and holding onto his arm. Behind Logan, Derek and several boys from his dorm began to play music. The other Warblers, robbed of the opening performance due to their lateness in getting it all together, now peered from the wings, watching him. As When I Die Young now began to close upon his cue, Logan looked at his father once the only time the entire performancebefore he began.

If I die young bury me in satin Lay me down on a bed of roses Sink me in the river at dawn Send me away with the words of a love song Oh
The audience began to smile. From where he stood, the Mr. Wright gave a barely perceptible start, while his rather adorable new young wife smiled largely. Logan didn't even notice them anymore.

Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh and Life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no ain't even grey, but she buries her baby

The sharp knife of a short life, well I've had just enough time
The Warblers looked at each other, grinning and jostling each other's elbows. Logan had always been distant and somehow icy, but for the first time, they heard him sing with vulnerability. Regardless of what they thought of him, he really was good.

If I die young bury me in satin Lay me down on a bed of roses Sink me in the river at dawn Send me away with the words of a love song The sharp knife of a short life, well I've had just enough time
Kurt and Blaine stood at the wings, with Kurt standing by the curtain rope, and Blaine leaning on a table. Blaine watched Logan without expression. Kurt glanced at him, and with a brief smile. "are you proud of him?" Blaine glanced at him. "not particularly." "Is that why you didn't tell me that you and hehad gone out before?" Kurt asked carefully. "I didn't tell youbecause I didn't want to remember," Blaine answered. "Logan was hell back last year. I don't think I'm able to forgive him. Or even consider it." This edge to Blaine was something of a marvel to Kurt. "But you protected him from his father." Blaine sighed, still watching Logan. "he and I have that in common. Fathers. With issues." He looked at Kurt now and smiled. "You're lucky to have Burt." "You have no idea how much I know that," Kurt smiled, spotting his father and Carole out in the audience, listening to Logan as well. He looked back to Blaine. "You really must have liked Logan then, huh? To hate him this much now?" "I thought I did," Blaine admitted. "Then I justit left me. When he left me for someone else." "Let me guess. The last second soloist?" "yeah. Him, Logan and mewe were friends. At first, Logan liked me, and we started going out. When he started getting, you knowangry, things began to change. I distanced myself from him, because when he's angry, he just" he exhaled. "It got messy."

"Where does the ex-soloist come in?" "He took care of me, because I was new. We got close. I thought I loved him tooI guess I just wanted someone to hold onto. I was still fresh from my old school. It turns out, it was Logan that he liked. And vice versa. I was pretty much just in the middle of them both. So I let them both go." "And then?" "Logan knows he can sing wellbut when our friend became popular and started to get taken in for leads he got jealous. He started to become abusive to him too. Our friend ended up hanging around with me, because we both fell victim to Logan's anger, and it was weirdly something we could talk about. And when Logan found that outthat he preferred staying with me over him, well" he trailed off. Kurt shook his head, not really able to take in everything he was hearing. "You have one of the most convoluted love issues I've ever heard. You'd fit in beautifully in McKinley." He paused. "is that why you tried to keep him away from me? You're worried he'll crush me?" "People don't change overnight," Blaine said, studying Logan. "You saw how he can get. He's trying, and I can give him that, butI'm not ready to let him come near anyone important to me again." Kurt flushed slightly, looking at him. Importantto him. "MmI can see what you mean." Kurt smirked and turned back to Logan, lifting his head higher a bit. "I'll be fine. You have to stop protecting me. It's tiring." Yes, the mentor-student thing is kind of old. And I know that everything flies out the window if I'm reading this all wrong. But I want to give this a shot so badly, you have no idea. Blaine's hand closed on his. Kurt looked up. Blaine glanced at him and smiled briefly. "Separation anxiety. What do I do now that I don't have to look after you?" "Kiss him?" "Be his boyfriend?" "Toss him onto a bed and let us all lock your door and escape the house?" The Windsor boys glowered as they listened to the pair at the wings. David was glowering. "I mean, hot damn, nothing is happening. Where are the emergency maneuvers?" "We did them," the twins blinked. "We would've gotten a move on, but the Logan issue in the hall" "Damn it, Logan!" David grumbled. Wes came into the room, looking depressed. David turned sympathetic. "Sorry, man. But

you know Derek hasn't met a hot cheerleader that he didn't eventually get his hands on." "I really liked Tabitha!" Wes protested. "I can't believe she's dating him now! Captain Crackpot! It's annoying when the person you like is such a pain but after you see her running off with someone else, it just feels like you're the pain." Dwight, who had just peered in backstage, now frowned. "I'm sorry, did I just step into a teen movie?" "Shh!" the others hissed, gesturing to Kurt and Blaine. "You'll get her back" David said, patting his shoulder. "She'll realize Derek is a douche. Then she'll be back with you." "No, I don't want her to "realize" he's a douche, I want to do something that'll make her see me as the better guy," Wes mumbled. He sighed. "Like you do with Katherine." David fidgeted. "Between us, Katherine is the saint, not me." He looked to the twins. "What are they doing now?" "Logan's almost done. Which means Blaine is coming on. Which means it's time for him to hit it and blow Kurt's mind so he'll fall madly for our favorite acting prefect. Which would subsequently lead to the improvement of all our lives when Blaine stops whining to David and Wes, and Kurt stops skirting around the topic when he talks to Reed." When Logan finished, the applause that rose from the crowd solidified his position as one of Dalton's strongest leads, and far more than was even he was usually given. He smiled a little bit, took his bows, and nodded to the Stuart band that accompanied him. He glanced to the wings. Blaine was standing there with Kurt, who was the only one clapping between them. Logan turned away. In the crowd, he could no longer spot his father. He wondered if he stayed to the end, or if he just left. He exited through the wing opposite of where the Windsor leads were. That was when Sylvia, smiling warmly, gave him a hug and showed him a note. "Your father had to leave. But he told me to give you this." Logan took the note and opened it. "You can have one more year. Michelle wants you home for Christmas and New Year." The note crumpled into his hand as he closed it. He exhaled, closing his eyes, and nodded to himself. He turned back to where Kurt and Blaine were. They were talking again, and Blaine was holding Kurt's hand. Logan felt a twinge, a hot surge that he swallowed down. He walked backstage, and out the door. He found Derek waiting outside. "Your old man bailed," he informed him. "I know." Logan extended a hand. "I owe you."

Derek looked at the hand and slapped a pill container into it instead. He glowered at him. "If you want to thank me, get your act together. I'm not saying I want you to feel nothing all the time. but it would help if you didn't go aggro all the time." Logan stared at the bottle that promised numbness. He glanced back to where he had seen Blaine and Kurt, then back at the container.

If it gets me closer to himI can try. I have to try.

Kurt watched as Reed talked to Shane, who he'd been told was Blaine's younger brother. They had their similarities, but Shane was an open book of expressions. And right now the expression he was giving Reed was priceless. "Your brother has something in his eye," Kurt smiled at Blaine, gesturing over to where the two were talking. "It appears to be madness. And it's wonderful how flustered Reed is. His emotional capacity can't handle this kind of attention. Your brother is always like this?" "Please don't make me explainI'd love to, but I can't." Blaine sighed as he brushed his uniform free of dust from backstage. "He's beyond me. My only gratitude is that he is only here for the holidays and will return to his own school in Colorado." He smiled at him. "Do me a favor when I get out there, though?" "What?" "Listen." Blaine gave him the kind of smile that reduced mere mortals to putty. "Listen carefully." And he walked onto the stage. Kurt stared after him, stunned and wondering what he had in mind. He stood for a moment in the wings, wondering if he should stay or go out into the crowd and get a better vantage point. From the other side of the backstage, near the door, Derek looked at Logan. "Don't, man. It's not going to be good." "I'll take the meds, but before that, I just want to tell him while I can say it with conviction," Logan muttered. "You're not blind, right? You see him looking at Blaine right now, right?" Derek stared. "You're still going to go for it?" "I have to beat him to the punchthat's all it takes." "You can't do that in front of all these people!" Derek hissed, motioning to the other Warblers backstage who were gathering to watch Blaine's performance, representing Windsor. Logan glanced at him. "Watch me." And he headed straight for Kurt. Derek groaned and came in tensely, closing the door to backstage.

Logan took a breath. I'll be damned if I don't get a word innot after today when he stood by me. Kurt looked up when he felt someone move next to him. He nearly jumped when he saw Logan standing there. He was holding a container in his hand, tucked away in his hand. He looked at him with a smile. "Can Italk to you for a minute?" As this caught the attention of the rest of the boys waiting backstage, Kurt hesitated. Blaine was already getting ready to play, and he didn't want to miss it. "Uh" "You just have to listen. Don't talk. Just listen." Kurt looked up at the taller boy, a little apprehensive. "What?" Logan's breath shivered as he exhaled. He reached out and took Kurt's hands. They were warm, while his own remained cold. At his action, Derek stopped where he was right next to the Windsor boys. "He's seriously going to do this? Now? Here?" "What the hell Logan!" Wes stepped forward, but David pulled him back. "Don't make a mess now, manwe're in the middle of a performance!" "I'll perform with my fist on his face!" "Wesshh!" "What is it?" Kurt asked, frowning a little in confusion and feeling awkward. "Kurt" Blaine, after being introduced formally and taking his first bow, sat at the piano, oblivious. He was smiling a little as he sat. "Don't say it" Derek whispered. "Don't say it" Logan looked into Kurt's eyes. "You don't have to answer me, or believe me. I just wanted to tell you" The music began to start as Blaine began to play. "I'm in love with you." Kurt's eyes widened in shock, mouth falling open slightly. Derek sank his head into his hand. "...he said it." "We're all dead if Blaine finds out!" Dwight hissed. Wes turned purple and the twins stood staring, eyes starting out of their heads. But Logan simply smiled a little bit at Kurt who couldn't speak. He released his hands, and just walked away. He took the pill bottle into his hand, pulled two out, and swallowed them as he left the area.

And Blaine started to sing.

It's a little bit funny This feeling inside me. I'm not one of those who can Easily hide.
In the haze of so much confusion, pounding blood through his body, Kurt was awoken from the haze of shock by Blaine's voice. He could hear him singingand he heard his words. He had told him to listen, just like Logan just did. Blaine raised his eyes to him, looking as though he only saw him. And Kurt, hardly able to dare, thought he already knew what he was going to say.

So excuse me forgetting But these things I do. See I've forgotten if They're green or they're blue. Anyway the thing is... What I really mean... Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen.
Kurt watched and heard, and a flush crept to his face. Blaine noticed. He smiled.

And you can tell everybody This is your song. It maybe quite simple but Now that it's done I hope you don't mind I hope you don't mind That I put down in words How wonderful life is

Now you're in the world

"Ah, he's getting a little choked up," said David, grinning. The twins made to happily go and bother him, but Wes pulled them back. "Oh no, you're not interrupting this one." Kurt crept as close to the stage as he dared, watching Blaine. He knew he was supposed to be worrying about what Logan saidhe had meant it and he knew itbut his eyes and Blaine's remained locked onto each other, and for that second, he knew he meant it too.

If I was a sculptor But then again no. Or a guy who makes potions in A travelling show. I know it's not much but It's the best I can do. My gift is my song and This one's for you
Carole glanced to the side and caught sight of Kurt almost out at the stage. She saw his expression, and then happily nudged Burt, nodding to Kurt's direction. Burt looked up and saw his son, and saw what looked like the first truly happy, bedazzled look on his face since the wedding. He had never seen Kurt look so happy. He and the boy on the piano just looked at each other, as though they had forgotten everyone and everything. Carole looked up at him and smiled, and Burt only smiled faintly back before looking back at Kurt. His son was happy here.

And you can tell everybody This is your song. It maybe quite simple but Now that it's done I hope you don't mind I hope you don't mind That I put down in words

How wonderful life is Now you're in the world

The song came to a close, and the entire audience erupted into applause. From where he stood by the side, Shane was smiling broadly, clapping for his brother. He turned to the people next to him. "He's good, mom! He's great!" "Yes he is" smiled the tall woman in an elegant white dress. Her hair was thick and black and fell in waves over her shoulder as she looked to her husband. "What did you think, dear?" But the man with Blaine's stocky build who stood near one of the tables, looking as though wasn't listening. He saw that his son wasn't listening either, seemingly to ignore the applause. He bowed to the crowd, but he kept glancing to the wings. He watched, in silence, as Blaine finished the most cursory bows politeness required, he made a straight line towards the wings. Kurt was waiting, staring at him and looking as though he immediately wanted to say somethingBlaine was sure he'd end up interrupting himbut their hands barely held before Sylvia appeared, beaming. "Well done, Blaine. That was wonderful." "Ohthank you, Ms. Medel," Blaine smiled back. "We should think about adding it" Sylvia nodded, and then took Kurt's hand. "Come on now, dear. Let's get ready for the big Warbler finale, and find out who wins the contest." "Iall right" Kurt looked at Blaine helplessly and just shrugged. Blaine, ever the gentleman, just smiled and motioned for him to go ahead with a single smooth movement. Kurt smiled and followed Medel as Reed came running in, jittery and excited. Shane followed after him, but saw Blaine and stopped, grinning. "Very nice," Shane grinned. "And the verdict?" "You know we love hearing you sing," Shane shrugged. "I mean, dad expression was as nonexistent as if he's had botox done on him within the past few hours, but he liked it, I'm sure. Mom was thrilled, says that you were amazing. Dad says if you come home, he'll get you a gig to sing on the King's Island Christmas Spectacular." "Oh really. Awful giving of him. Singing what, exactly?" "Baby, It's Cold Outside, I think." Blaine rolled his eyes. "Figured it'd be a duet. With a girl." "It's not as bad as it sounds" said Shane hopefully. "Maybe you can get that Kurt guy to practice with you." He smirked. "That song you just sang was for him, I imagine." "And I imagine you need to stop trailing after Reed like a puppy," Blaine said, turning a bit red and walking past him. "You're scaring him. He can barely handle himself, let alone

all of yourpersonality." Shane chased after him, gesturing wildly. "What? Am I not allowed to stare and have some mild degree of fascination? Have you seen him? He looks like someone threw pixie dust onto a Botticelli and he came to life!" Blaine almost looked disgusted and only now was able to sympathize with all of Windsor when they complained about him. "Wow, Shane, you have truly out-glitter-ed yourself. That's mild to you?" "And now" smiled Dean Ramsey to the assembled congregation, "to officially close the performances for the Winter Festival, I would like to call upon our school's most decorated and most talented groupthe Dalton Academy Warblers." The audience began to applaud and cheer for the boys as the curtain lifted. The Dalton Warblers, dressed neatly and perfectly, stood prepared to make their final performance of the year. Wes and David looked at each other, then grinned at Blaine, who smiled back. He looked down to Kurt, who nodded with a smile, who then turned to Reed, who gave a nervous laugh. He looked up at the twins above him, and they too grinned. They gave Logan a smile toobut Logan was only able to smile tightly back, eyes cloudy. Greg had told them backstage, "Sing with everything you've got. It could be your last chance. It ends tonight, guys. Next year, we're all going to be something else." And for some of them, they really would come away with something else. They were all wildly excited for this performanceGreg had been convinced with vociferous begging to be allowed to perform something as daring as this one in the Winter Fest. It was certainly not the usual Warbler music. And Greg made sure that the choreography matched. After seeing the two leads dance for cheerleading, he made full use of them. In fine acapella style, the Warblers began the opening melody, from drums to strums. The beat caught the attention of the students, looking up and already grooving along as they began. The boys started to move to the beat. When the spotlight came on one side and Kurt appeared, they burst into cheers. Kurt strode down to the center, beginning to sing as he danced to the music.

Everybody's looking for loveoh Ain't that the reason you're at this cluboh You ain't gonna find a dance with him. oh Got a better solution for you girl. oh Just stay with me nowSay the word and well go. I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes. You'll see a side of love you've never known.

I can see it going down, going down

All the Warblers leapt to action as the chorus came, earning cheers from their schoolmates as they split apart into a mass, moving to the music with such perfect precision that when they moved back a few steps, they were in perfect lines again. When Reed broke ranks to stand next to Kurt, the room burst into applause again. The two leads began to sing in chorus with the others.

In my head, I see you all over me. In my head, you fulfill my fantasy. You'll be screaming no. In my head, it's going down. In my head, it's going down. In my head. Yeah. In my head
The people down at the audience were dancing to the music, with most of the boys and their dates dancing with one another across the floor, seeming to not mind the amused looks that the older members and the alums were giving them as they did. Carole and Burt joined in, dancing happily amidst the couples. Burt caught Kurt's eye, and his son winked at him from the stage, grinning as he sang and moved with great energy. Burt winked back at him and turned his eyes back to Carole, dancing with her and not quite minding that his dancing wasn't up to speed.

Just leave with me now. Say the word and well go. I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes. You'll see a side of love you've never known. I can see it going down, going down. In my head, I see you all over me. In my head, you fulfill my fantasy. Youll be screaming no. In my head, its going down. In my head, its going down.
The night was such a success and so exhausting that most of the Warblers were more than ready to get out of campus almost immediately. After the announcement of the winner, the Windsor boys' spirits were dampened only somewhat; Logan had won the

competition for Stuart, which earned the dormitory the bragging rights and extra curfew hours for the next month. Blaine didn't mindhe had made his move at last, and that was all that counted to him. He had seen the look on Kurt's face and he felt that it was enough. The students left the ballroom with their families, but the boys headed toward the dormitories to retrieve their bags and other items. "Blaine," said his mother, "You're coming with us, aren't you?" Shane glanced to his brother. Blaine glanced to his mother, then to the silence his father always gave him only when he had done something to merit disapproval. Almost immediately, he sensed that he must have known who he was singing for. He turned away, and saw Kurt climbing up towards Windsor, with his family. Burt and Carole were laughing at something that Kurt was explaining to them. After a moment, he gave them hugs"I'll catch up, I promise. I just have to say goodbye to the others."and began to climb alone. Blaine gazed at him, and realized that an entire break without him would be too much. He turned to his parents. "Yes, I'll be going for Christmas." Before his mother could exclaim in delight, Blaine added, "But right after, I'd like to fly to the East Coast and see my friends. And spend New Year's there." "Oh" his mother looked doubtful, then looked at her husband. His father then glowered at him for a moment, but Blaine, who was so used to this, barely even batted an eye. "You spend too much time with your friends," his father muttered gruffly. "I know I'm fortunate that I have quite a few so I would like to spend as much time with them as possible." "There is no "them", is there, Blaine? Have you taken interest in one of them and" Blaine quickly hugged his mother and sighed. "I'll catch up. I'll get my things." He glanced at his dad. "Happy Holidays, dad." He turned, heading towards Windsor. Shane, glancing at his parents, said, "I'll go with hm. You guys go ahead. We'll take my car." He followed after him. Blaine glanced at his brother, who grinned at him. He felt he had someone on his side from his real family, at least. But as he looked up at Windsor, watching Kurt walk into the brightness of the house, he realized that he had family in there as well. "What did your mom say?" Kurt asked the moment he found Reed in the second floor hallway. "You killed the song. If that doesn't make an impact" Reed just laughed, carrying barely anything but a large pillow and a small bag. "She's settled on "maybe" you'll do fine. I feel like standing up to her again. It felt a little bad, butI think it did make her listen a little bit."

Dwight, carrying a massive rucksack full of "weapons" and ingredients, came down the hall. He said to Reed, "Shane's waiting for you downstairs, trying to get people to get you to talk to him. I swear to Castiel, he's morphosed into some kind of sex demon and it's not boding well for the team when it's working even for me." Reed turned scarlet. "Dwight! Stop saying things like that!" "Just saying" Dwight shrugged. He looked at Kurt. "Have you seen the twins yet? They wanted to talk to you about visiting." "Uh" "Reed!" came David's yell from downstairs. "Can you come down here and say good night to Shane before we toss him out the dormitory?" "Oh for goodnessake" still red in the face, Reed evaded Kurt's smirk and headed for the staircase. Dwight gave Kurt a wave. "If you agree to visit, you all are welcome to come to my family's theme park." "You have your own theme park?" "Alice!" the twins popped out of their room and promptly tackled him to the ground. "We're going to miss you so much!" "It'd be so lonely without our adventures," Evan said wistfully, not quite allowing Kurt to get up off the floor yet. "Who would we nerf? Who would we shoot at? Who would make us magic chocolate chip cookies?" Ethan said dramatically. "Each other maybe" Kurt grunted, pushing the twins off him. "What was Dwight saying about visiting?" Evan sat up, looking excited. "Well every year, we gather at someone's house after Christmas. And then spend the New Year there." "We're hosting this year. And seeing as you're such a Broadway whore" Ethan jumped up and helped his brother up. "We would like to invite you to join us in Manhattan." Kurt's jaw dropped. "What?" "Call it a preview-of-coming-attraction," Evan said, grinning. "For when we go to Nationals, of course." "We'll tour you!" "And feed you!" "And toss you into a nice spa!" "Did I mention that Reed is your best guide to fifth avenue?"

"Now, don't worry about transport and accommodations," said Evan when he saw Kurt about to protest. He grinned, leaning on his twin. "You don't seem to realize who we are." "And you don't seem to realize what kind of leverage we have." Ethan nodded. "We'll take care of your air transport and lodgings. Private jet and suite sound good to you?" This definitely had to be a massive Christmas present. "I'm definitely asking my parents about it. And even if they say no, I'll likely smuggle away into a suitcase or something." The twins happily tackled him again. Wes, used to this spectacle, passed by the heap of bodies on the floor and said, "Kurt? Blaine's looking for you in his room." Kurt got up quickly, turning red. "What for?" "I don't know I think he wants to say goodbye?" Kurt's stomach did a flip. He wouldn't be able to see Blaine for a while. A nice goodbye would be appropriate. He glanced at them and then headed off to Blaine's room. He didn't see the twin smirks given to him by the Tweedles and Wes. The past weeks had been a dance around the subject, but he felt that tonight, they'd managed to make some kind of progress. Kurt stood outside Blaine's room, took a deep breath, and stepped in. Inside still had the Christmas decorations, and Blaine's things were neatly packed into trunks waiting by the door. The prefect looked up as soon as he stepped in. Blaine was looking at something and was still wearing reading glasses. It was unbelievably becoming. "Hi," Kurt said with a smile as he came in, closing the door. He didn't hear someone jam the handles outside. "Hey," Blaine smiled as he motioned for him to come in. "What did you want to see me for?" Kurt blinked. "What? Wes told me you wanted to see me for something." They fell silent, and then both turned to the door. In two seconds, they had strode up to it, and realized that it was locked. The crowd outside stood snickering. "Very funny guys," Blaine grumbled. Kurt glowered. "We can hear you snickering you kno" Music started playing into the room. Blaine looked around and saw that his stereo had switched on via remote. And it was playing a familiar Christmas song.

Baby, It's Cold Outside.

Blaine laughed as he recognized it. Kurt, who had been trying to pull open the door with force, let go at least. He too sighed and looked up at the sound of the music. "Oha personal favorite" he smiled a little. "Is it?" Blaine smiled. "Well in that case" He stepped down to the common area and

made a bow. "Kurt? May I have this dance?" "What?" Kurt laughed. Blaine gestured expectantly. Kurt just shook his head with a smirk, but walked up to him. Clearing his throat, he gave his hands to Blaine. "I've seen how you dance onstage. You get as overexcited as your brother. Don't step on my feet?" "No promises," Blaine grinned as he swept him around to dance. As the music played, they also found themselves singing to it.

I really can't stay - But baby it's cold outside I've got to go away - But baby it's cold outside This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry? My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry Well maybe just a half a drink more - Put some records on while I pour The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there Say, what's in this drink? - No cabs to be had out there I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight To break the spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move in closer? At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride? I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out Ahhh, but it's cold outside I've got to go home - But, baby, you'll freeze out there Say, lend me your coat - It's up to your knees out there You've really been grand - I thrill when you touch my hand But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me? There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Think of my life long sorrow

At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died I really can't stay - Get over that hold out Ohhh, baby it's cold outside
They were standing rather close as the song ended. Smiling, they were looking at each other, and both laughed awkwardly at the situation. But their hands remained together. Blaine smiled at him, and Kurt flushed only slightly. From the doorway, there was an explosion of cheering and catcalls, making them both jump. The boys had removed whatever they used to jam the door and had been watching them, now applauding and cheering at the top of their lungs. The two looked at each otherand immediately ran for the door. The entire group bolted like mad, the hallways in chaos, running down the hall and away from their furious reach as Kurt and Blaine lunged for them. Kurt was panting when he got to the door. He glowered at them. "Those guys are just" "They grow on you, though," Blaine grinned. Kurt smiled back, but felt his phone vibrate.

You done packing? Dad

"I have to go," Kurt sighed. "For real this time." He looked at Blaine. "See you soon?" The prefect nodded and smiled. "Of course." The two of them exchanged one last, long look before Kurt finally moved away from the door. Blaine suddenly grabbed his hand back. "Wait." Heart pounding, Kurt turned back to him. "What?" Blaine stepped forward and stood close to him, as close as they had been when they danced. His eyes looked serious in spite of the slight twinkle of amusement in them. "Hey...look." pointed upward, over the door. "What?" Kurt looked up. And the sight of one single ornament caused him to flush harder than he had ever done in his life. "...mistletoe." Blaine was holding his hands, standing very close and careful. He seemed to be waiting for permission as he looked at him. After the events at McKinley, he would be the last person to take advantage of this kind of situation. Kurt clutched onto Blaine's hands, looking at him in silent response. They always did this; simply looking and never speaking. But as he squeezed Blaine's hands lightly, he was sure that he had sent his permission across. And very carefully, Blaine leaned closeso close that their breaths ghosted each other's

cool skin, lashes on the verge of touching, tremulous with anticipationand gave Kurt a gentle kiss on the corner of the lips. Kurt, flushed from head to toe, was only barely able to return it as lightly. It was the briefest touch, but it was the most gratuitous thing they had ever had. It put them both in that position where they could have just that momentmore than what they were, less than where they had to get to. But it was enough for now. "See you." Blaine whispered. "See you." Kurt agreed, smiling.

Episode 14: Bad Things... Kurt was confused. He had no idea how a single song practice back in his room got them to where they were, but he had the suspicion that what was being done to him was intentionally made so he would not want it to stop. The body beneath him was warm and firm, those heated lips trailing over his neck, up his jaw, before just teasingly brushing his. So much warm breath, soft murmurs in his ear, and all the touches that set fire to every inch of his skin that connected to the other's. So unbelievably close that their eyelashes nearly touched as the warm strong hands brought him closer. Kurt was straddling his lap, delirious in the sensation and all inhibitions were deteriorating, leaving so much room for sheer want. "Wait" he breathed as other concerns pressed, unwelcome, into his mind. "Shh" that talented mouth was distracting him again. And when those hands pulled at him, grinding their hips together, Kurt groaned. "Wehave to get to" rational thought was becoming impossible at the playful nip at his neck. "the Hall Harvey and Medel" "Later" there was the sound of fabric being pulledand then a hand was wandering up his chest, exploring. The voice was almost desperate. "We have time" "right" Kurt didn't have the strength anymore. Why was he even protesting? A fire hot weight was pressing against him. He breathed in deep, hands bringing the other's face to his again, feverish foreheads pressed and lips brushing with each breath. Kurt gazed through his lashes to see heat in the other's eyes. "Kurt" he breathed. Kurt all but grabbed at him and kissed him deeply, as though he wanted to drink him in. In that heady atmosphere of heat and scent and touch, Kurt let himself be taken over, pushed down onto the couch, his lover leaning over him. "Kurt? Are you all right?" From where he was sitting at the food court table, Kurt raised heavy-lidded eyes with dark circles. Mercedes was looking down at him in concern. It had not been a good morning after that dream. It was one thing to have that kind of a dreamthat had been jarring enoughbut he had the suspicion that he actually had no idea who the other person even was. Mercedes saw his expression and gave him an incredulous look, handing him the latte cup. "What's the matter?" "My life is getting complicated," Kurt grumbled, gratefully taking the cup. "Those boys giving you a hard time?" she raised an eyebrow as she sat down.

"No, they'reit's myumguys." Tina looked up from where she was texting Mike and grinned. "That problem you were talking about before Christmas?" She immediately put the phone down and gave him her full attention. Kurt rolled his eyes. "I still don't understand how you just had a harmless kiss," Mercedes snorted, shaking her head. "If you like the guy, no kiss is actually harmless." "Trust me, Mercedes, compared to what the Cheerios get on a daily basis, it's pretty harmless. And now I've been" Kurt gestured in the air, looking for the right word, " poisoned. Hormone poisoned. I haven't been this worked up over a kiss since"" he stopped himself, remembering that particular locker room moment, waved it away quickly and said, "sinceModern Family. This morning I forgot to put hairspray in my bagI was that distracted." "And now you want more?" Mercedes said, still smirking. "God yes," Kurt dropped his forehead down onto the table. "And at the same time no. I felt like I was having cardiac arrest while it was happening. I had no idea human contact can cause such a substantial IQ drop in seconds." "Can I just say that I like this flustered side of you?" Tina laughed. She received a trademarked bitch stare from Kurt, but this just made her laugh even harder. Kurt was staring into empty space, mumbling, "Logan told me he was in love with me" Mercedes choked on her drink. "What? We were talking about Blainewho's Logan?" "I think he means that tall guyremember when we crashed their party when we thought Karofsky was going to kill him? The one with the green eyes and looks like, uh, a model or something." "Him?" Mercedes didn't look particularly pleased as she remembered the tall one who looked at Kurt with eyes that smoldered. "Yeah, he's pretty hot but" she glanced at Kurt with a sparkle in her eye. "he is so not the one you're thinking of right now." Kurt sighed deeply. "What did Blaine do to me?" He put his head in his arms on the table. The girls looked at each other and grinned.

I'm Kurt. I recently transferred to Dalton Academy. Holidays are in, and I'm back in Lima with my friends, and I can't tell you how happy I am. I think about the Dalton boys sometimes.
all right, all the time.

but just a particular one. "Hi, Mr. Hummel!" Mercedes said brightly as they arrived at the front door. "We've brought Kurt back! Barely alive, but there." The three finished their shopping that resulted from the post-Christmas sales, talking about everything that had happened over the time Kurt had not been around. The girls had also wanted to hear about Kurt's time in Dalton, but whenever Kurt would describe some of the things that went on, they always laughed. They had probably thought he wasn't serious. It had gotten late, and they decided to go over to the new HudsonHummel home. Burt looked up from the living room. "Back so soon?" Mercedes grinned, "Yes, he's already given us all our Christmas gifts! He can get off our custody." Kurt shot her a look and then rolled his eyes. "Hey dad." He gave his father a hug and saw Finn also on the couch, watching a rerun of a football game. "Finn, I told you, you can't wear that sweater in the house. I'd have to charge you with a serious crime against clothing. Or taste in general." Finn, who rather liked his heinous sweaterit really was cozy and in spite of Kurt's protests, he just liked itgrumbled as he said, "It's a statement" "Yes, it says "shoot me"," Kurt remarked as he shed his coat. "Welcome back!" said Carole brightly. And she was wearing something similar to Finn's sweater, only slightly less hideous. Kurt's face fell at the sight of it. Tina just laughed, "It's still technically the holidays, Kurt. It's part of the joy." "Yes, joy. So much joy at the twenty-sixth. Hi" Kurt just gave Carole a hug and a smile. "There's hope for you yet. But Finn, I've given up on." "Be nice, now" Burt warned from the couch with only an affectionate glance back at his son. "You're not going to be here that long, after all." Mercedes blinked, "Yeah, Kurt, I thought you said your Dalton friends invited you to go on vacation with them." She looked at Carole. "They wanted him to come to New York with themdid he tell you?" "He told us all about it, and we said it was all right as long as it was after Christmas" Carole blinked at her stepson. "Did you change your mind about going?" "No, it looks like they did," Kurt shrugged a little. "I sent them a text saying that you let me go, but they've yet to answer it. The only messages I've gotten for them are the customary "Merry Christmas" greetings." He couldn't help but sound slightly disappointed. He did want to see New York. and he had heard nothing from Blaine.

A package had arrived that morning, addressed to himit had come straight from Paris. When he took it out, it was a long, luxurious winter coat in blinding white mink, with a note wishing him Merry Christmas. It had been from Logan. He was the only Dalton boy he'd heard from post-Christmas. Carole had gotten terribly excited when she saw it and started asking questions. As his new stepmother handed out hot cocoa to everyoneTina shooting Finn a disturbed look as she saw the amount of marshmallows the quarterback subsequently heaped inKurt stared into the brown liquid and wondered where everyone was. Happy as he was back to be with Limahe had spent every waking second with his family and with New Directionshe couldn't help but miss them. It was so quiet back at home, especially now that he and Finn didn't squabble quite as much anymore. and after the mistletoe kiss, he had to admit that he wish he'd heard something, anything from Blaine. Just to see where they stood now, of course. He was dreadfully in love with Blaine, and Blaine clearly liked him right back. And he just wanted some actual confirmation of what they were. He didn't want to think that Blaine simply kissed him because he was under mistletoe. But Mercedes had said, "He didn't have to kiss you then. He could've let you go. But he made you stop, right? Means he likes you enough to want to kiss you. Good sign." "I sure hope you're right, Mercedes," Kurt sighed as he saw his friends to the door later on. Tina looked sympathetic. "You'll hear from them. Him. It'll be fine. Besides, you'll see them all again at school!" Mercedes gave him a big, warm hug, which Kurt returned with a smile. "Hey, if you do get to New York, you better tell us. And we want documentation. We want photos. Lots of them." "If I do, you'll be the first to know," Kurt agreed. "My incoherent texts will inform you." After they had gone, Kurt headed upstairs to his room. It wasn't as large as the basement, but it was his own space and he had already begun decorating it heavily. It was now white and dark blue, splashes of colorful patterns here and there, with plenty of pillows lying around. He was inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier's minimalist design. He looked at his phone. No messages. A glance at his laptop revealed an email. He clicked it open.

Hi Kurt! Merry After-Christmas! Where are you right now? Let me know soon, can't wait to see you again! Reed PS. What was that cream you told me about that's good for getting rid of scars? I totally tripped into the fireplaceit was not lit, thankfullywhen I took down my Christmas stocking.

Kurt smiled and gave him a response that both greeted him a Merry Christmas and scolded him for not being more careful before adding the name of the skin cream. He preferred to have his friend intact upon their next meeting. He also told him that he was at home, about the trials of the Hudson fashion sense, and how he missed the boys of Windsor. Then he lay down on his bed and stared, thinking about his last dream. Hanging at his closet door was the mink coat from Logan. He felt a guilty twinge. He still couldn't, for the life of him, remember who it had been that he was straddling in a heat-loaded makeout session in a Dalton room. He wasn't sure he ever knew to begin with.

Even my subconscious is getting more than I am was Kurt's last thoughts before he fell asleep.
His subconscious granted him a truce. He didn't dream at all that night. It was as though he simply blacked out. But it was frigid in his room in the morning, and he buried further into the comforter he'd brought home from Dalton. Odd. It was really warm under there. He opened his eyes and gasped when he saw another body next to him. He popped his head out of the covers, wide eyed, and found one smiling Tweedle twin lying there, wearing pajamas. "Good morning, Alice!" Evan said brightly. Kurt stared, aghast and scandalized, mouth open but no sound coming out. Evan continued to beam happily, hair trussed up with sleep. Kurt jerked backwards only to hit another warm body. He turned around to find the other twin, in the mirror image of his brother. "Rise and shine!" Ethan said happily. "What are you both doing in my bed?" Kurt burst out. No matter how weird and hormonal his dreams had become, none of them had involved waking up in bed with the twins. "We brought coffee." They said this as though it explained everything. Kurt looked around his room and found that, yes, dozens of coffee cups were everywhere. And that wasn't all. On the carpet on the floor, snoring on his many pillows, slept Wes and David, who looked so asleep, an earthquake wouldn't have woken them. Kurt stared at them. "What the" "Get used to it, this'll happen after every major party," Evan said kindly, holding out a coffee cup to him. "How did you get in here?" Kurt demanded, but nevertheless taking the cup. Ethan just shrugged, gesturing, "Took a ride from the airport, headed here. Climbed tree. Window was open." "I'm on the second floor." "Andthis is a problem, why?" "And I locked my windows!"

"Your window's lameI opened it on the first try," Evan smirked as he sat up. He looked around. "Interesting room, by the way" "Nice interior decorating." "And the interesting size" "approximately the size of Reed's Windsor closet." Kurt's caffeine-deprived glower checked the Twins. Evan threw pillows down onto the pair on the floor. "Up! Up! Time to go! Or we'll be late for a very important date!" "Late how?" grumbled Wes from under a pillow, sounding annoyed. "It's your plane." "Time waits for no one," said Ethan sensibly, getting up. "Neither do our attention spans. Let's go! Alice, get dressed!" he picked up the mink coat and tossed it to Kurt. Kurt caught it and asked, "How long have you guys been in here?" "Two, three hours?" David mumbled, yawning as he sat up. "You sleep like the dead, did you know? This is exactly why we managed to kidnap you, that first day." Kurt sank his head into his hands. "And you slept here?" "Couldn't help it, Tweedles flew in late from San Diego" Wes explained, yawning hugely. "I came in from Hawaii." "I've been up all night with Katherine," David explained, rubbing his eyes. Wes nodded, "Anyway, I met the Tweedles in Floridato pick up Dwight" "Where is Dwight?" Kurt asked blearily. As if in response, a powerful honk sounded outside. Kurt jumped, but David stuck his head out the window. "Yep. He got the car. Let's get going!" "Waitwait!" Kurt stopped the twins, who were dragging him off. "I haven't even packed!" "You don't need to pack," said the twins sensibly. "Everything you need'll be there." "Clothes? Skin care products? Toiletries? Underwear, maybe? Ring any bells to you?" "You're making this more complicated than it is, Aliceif we couldn't already give you those things, Reed could," Evan said patiently. "Justjust let go for a second!" Kurt flicked them both off, and they did oblige. Still rumpled and a bit in shock, Kurt tried to get his thoughts together. "You're taking me to New Yorknow? I hadn't heard from any of you about it at all!" "I'm sorry, did you make other plans?" Ethan asked, looking worried.

"Because if your plans involve other people, we can take them too," Evan said helpfully. Kurt dropped his face into his hand. And then Finn burst into the room. "Hey Kurt, outside, there's" He stopped abruptly when he saw all the sleepwear-clad young men within the room, half of them getting dressed. It was not the best sight to greet him if he was to walk into his brother's bedroom. "Whoa." He looked at them all in confusion and alarm. "UhKurt, you mind catching me up a bit?" "Breaking and entering, apparently," Kurt grumbled. "Also, that neat little maneuver humans do before they come into a room, is called knocking." He looked to the others. "Come on, guys, downstairs. Out, please? Let me manage to look human again, and I'll join you." "Make it quick!" said Evan hopefully, clearly very excited. "Yes, jet's waiting!" added Ethan. "Waitjet?" Finn looked back and forth to them and to Kurt. "Jet? You're going to New York?" "Apparently," Kurt sighed, ushering Wes and David out, David scooping up one of the coffee cups as he left. "I'll be out in a minute, Finn. Please tell dad and Carole? Are they awake?" "Uh, yeah" "Hey, Mr. H!" exclaimed the twins happily, voices echoing downstairs. Kurt leaned out the door and yelled, "It's all right dad! They're harmless and they've had all their shots just don't let them near anything flammable! I'll be down in a minute!" He looked at his stepbrother. "You too, Finn." "Kurt?" "Yes?" Kurt asked with great patience evident in his voice. Finn smiled and picked up one of the nearby coffee cups. "Have fun in New York, all right?" Kurt grinned. "Thanks, I plan to." It took Kurt only a few moments to get everything he presumably needed, packed into an overnight bag. By the time he came downstairs, the boys were dressed and Wes was engaged in a debate with his father about The Longest Yard. "All I'm saying is, it's unrealistic!" Burt said, almost laughing. "Half the guys there were wrestlers!" "But that doesn't mean they can't play decent football," Wes was saying as he looked up and spotted Kurt. "Ah! Finally! Let's get going before the twins freak out your mom." The twins were happily regaling Carole with the story of how the Warblers were first

introduced to Kurt's voice. Carole looked amused, but asked Kurt, "Is there a particular reason they call you "Alice"?" Kurt just rolled his eyes. "They have weird nicknames for everyone. For some reason, they called me Alice. Because I went intoWarblerLand." But he smiled and gave her a big hug, and then his dad. "I'm going now. I'll be back right after New Year's." "You boys look after Kurt, then," Burt said gruffly to the batch of young men heading out the door. Outside, Dwight was honking the horn for them to get going. "Don't worry, we will, Mr. Hummel," David assured him. "That kid Blaine going to be there?" Kurt froze to his fingertips, looking at his dad. Burt had his arms crossed over his chest. Wes and David looked at each other. "Yes, sir, he will be," said Wes. "Well, tell him that nothing better happen to my son while under his watch." Kurt had never realized that so much secondhand embarrassment could be gleaned from a single sentence. And if he thought that had been bad enough Burt suddenly said, "What about the Logan kid? Going to be there too?" This time all the Windsors looked up. Kurt was looking at his dad, begging him to stop talking with wide eyes. Evan said, "No, I don't believe he'll be joining us" "We doubt it" said Ethan. "We haven't heard a word. Why do you mention, sir?" Burt nodded to what was around Kurt's shoulders. "He sent that coat, didn't he? Figured he'd come along too." Wes looked like he wanted to set fire to the mink, with the way he looked at it. Kurt stepped away from him, holding onto his coat protectively. He rather liked this coat. David gave Burt a wonderfully well-made polite smile and said, "Well, don't worry, Mr. Hummel. We'll look after him." "See you, Dad," Kurt waved as he exited the door, Burt calling a "take care of yourself" after him. Kurt, hitching his bag strap up over his shoulders, followed the others out and into the driveway where Dwight was waiting inside the car, which had actually flown with him. Kurt, who had his fair share of car knowledge, took one look at what he was in and had to smirk. "A 1967 Chevy Impala. Why am I not surprised?" Dwight's ears turned red. "I like them vintage!" "Sure, you bought it because it was vintage" Wes rolled his eyes as he got in. "I didn't buy itmy uncle gave it to me for Christmas." He added in a mutter, "At my request, maybebut still"

It was a tight fit: Wes, the twins and Kurt sat at the back, David called shotgun before he and Wes even stepped out of the house. Dwight adjusted and looked at the rearview mirror and said, "I don't think I need to tell you, if any of you so much as damage an inch of the leather, I will literally set you on righteous fire. And I'm good at setting things on fire!" "To the airfield now, please?" Evan said patiently. "Before we set you on righteous fire?" Ethan added with a smile. "Fine, but I'm the pilot of this clown carI'll be boss until we get to the airfield." He flipped a switch, and music started to blast from the speakers. Everybody else in the car groaned as, predictably, "Highway to Hell" started playing. Dwight, clearly in the zone again, ignored them all and began driving. When they got to the private airfield"Why do you have even have a private airfield?" Kurt demandedthe first thing they did was get out right next to a large white Boeing sitting on the runway. It looked brand new, everything gleaming. The twins looked deeply excited. "Do you like it?" Evan asked, giddy, jumping up and down as he got out of the car. "It's our Christmas present for the next three years!" "Including the pilot and the gas!" Ethan said happily, looking up at it. "Who wouldn't like it?" Dwight said, grumbling. Stunned as Kurt was, he walked with them to the ramp. Before he could truly take it all in, the door on top of the stairs opened and Reed stepped out, wrapped warmly in fur and boots. He grinned brightly, pink-cheeked in the wind, and he waved wildly at them. "Hey, guys! You brought Kurt!" "Reed!" Kurt laughed, glad to see him. Reed happily jogged down the stairs, and proceeded to trip over his own bootlaces. He tumbled down quite a few steps before Kurt managed to reach him and stop him. "Oh, Reed" he half scolded, half worried. "Sorry, sorry" Reed gasped, looking shaken. "Got a bit carried away." Be he hugged Kurt. "Glad to see you! I got your mail! When I found out you were at home, I told the Twins to go get you." He beamed. "Oh, they got me," Kurt smiled wryly at him. "Where's" A pair of bodies came out of the plane. Kurt looked up and his heart rate skipped up a tad faster than normal. Blaine was on top of the stairs, smiling at him, with Shane next to him, grinning. "Get in, losers, we're going shopping!" Shane yelled. The Twins laughed. Blaine rolled his eyes and gave him a light shove before he came down.

"Merry After-Christmas," he smiled, giving Kurt a tight hug. Kurt sighed and happily returned it. It was good to know that things weren't awkward, at the very least. It was a good sign. "I missed you." "Merry After-Christmas," Kurt answered. "And I did miss you too." When Blaine released the embrace, he remained holding his hand. Wes finally complained, loudly, "Can we please have this chick flick moment inside the plane? May we all get out of the cold now? Geez, it doesn't take that long to fly to New York from here, let's get to it!" Blaine cleared his throat, looking a bit embarrassed. But he led Kurt up the plane, the others following. Kurt got into the plane, and his jaw dropped. The inside of the plane looked more like a very large den. It even had wood paneling, and the seats were beautifully upholstered. If he wasn't mistaken, that was a Jacuzzi sitting near massive television screen that presided over several gaming consoles. The place was still decorated according to the holidays, including a pile of brightly-wrapped presents in the middle of the area. Wes and the Twins made a beeline for the gaming system, with Wes popping in a fighting game, while David plopped down on one of the chairs and started to send a few texts before the plane officially got going. Dwight threw himself onto the couch pillows and passed out with frightening speed. When Kurt gave him the odd look, Blaine explained, "He's afraid of flying. He has to sleep it off." Shane and Reed came in, with Reed keeping a healthy distance from Blaine's excitable brother by sitting next to Kurt. Shane was completely unsympathetic to Blaine's glares he sat between Kurt and Blaine and gave his brother an innocent smile. Kurt now looked at his friend. "I thought I wouldn't get to goI didn't hear from any of you all that much before and after Christmas." "Christmas is family timewe don't mess with each other," Reed said. "Of course, there's also the chance one of us is in a different time zone, so calling is awkward. But midnight of the twenty-fifth, I already had the Twins ringing me. Asked me to ask you where you were so they could get you." "And I had a communications blackout," said Blaine, shaking his head. "Had to," Shane nodded. "Blaine was home for Christmas for onceand I can tell you, it was so tense up in California that if any of you had called, the room would have blown up." "So much forced cheer" Blaine sighed. Kurt reached right over Shane and took Blaine's hand, giving it a sympathetic squeeze. This surprised both brothers. Shane sighed at them smiling at each other and finally got off the couch to let them sit together. When they were flying at last, Dwight might as well have been dead, for all they knew; he didn't stir once even as Wes started complaining that the twins may be cheating as they kept beating him in the game. David was next to him, tying to help strategize, but Evan and Ethan were incorrigiblethey didn't even have to talk to each other. "Ow!" Reed, standing with the presents, was now glaring at a brightly wrapped box he was holding onto, clearly getting a paper cut. He looked up at Kurt and smiled. "Hey Kurt!

Here!" He held out the package. "Your present!" Kurt brightened up and said, "Really? Great, I brought yours." He dug into his bag and exchanged gifts with him. Kurt took his package and ripped it open. It was a Kate Spade totecrammed with Shu Uemura. His eyes widened to their fullest extent. "Reed! What" "You got me sheet music and new paintbrushes!" Reed said happily hugging the present. "This perfect for my new concept! I can't wait to try them out and finish my last painting!" He glomped Kurt and happily ran off to get his art things from another part of the plane. He nearly tripped on David, but he was clearly very happy. Kurt was speechlesshe looked down at his present and back at his friend, who he didn't even have the chance to thank yet. Wes saw his shock and grinned. "Aren't you going to open the rest?" "The rest?" "Those are all yours," said the twins without taking their eyes off the game. "We've already exchanged presents." Kurt stared at the gleaming pile. "You cannot be serious." "Pleasethose are definitely not our presents," David snorted. "We wouldn't know what to do with half of them." "Why?" "See for yourself." An hour later, Kurt was surrounded by wrapping paper, opening what had to be his third package from Reed. It was a Prada bag that he was sure could literally not be found anywhere. Inside were two ounces of Cl de Peau and he nearly had a heart attack. Around Kurt sat the rest of the lootstuff that, collectively, downright blew his mind. On top of the new Alienware laptop David had given him, an Alexander McQueen trench from the Twins was draped. The Louboutins from Wes had tumbled down on the carpet, half hidden by a box of Chanel scarves from Dwight. The shoes were the third pair of shoes he receivedthe Jimmy Choos and the Fendi suede boots were the first two. There were clearly multiple gifts from one person. He even got one from Shane"It's nice to meet you and I look forward to your forthcoming threats of bodily harm," the note inside the Dior Homme jacket saidbut he didn't get anything from Blaine. Blaine said, "It would appear that none of them knew what things to give youother than David, but he usually gives out techso they had to turn to Reed for ideas." He turned a little red. "Mypresent isn't tangible. But I can tell you that it's waiting for you in New York." Kurt raised his eyebrows in surprise, but was incredibly pleased. "Interesting." "I sure hope so," Blaine smiled. "This is too much," Kurt protested to the others now, mainly out of shock, secondly out of

formality, but not without that small part of him that was screaming madly at the sight of all the loot. "Seriously, Reed? You're giving me this?" He waved the Cl de Peau. "Kurt, when my mom gets presents, she gets presents," Reed said patiently, already happily trying out his paintbrushes. He frowned as a giant drop of green splashed into his coat by accident. He sighed. "Delivery men keep asking if she's stocking a department store when all the gifts come. And she has a lot of them already. So she sends them to me. You are basically a godsend, I can just give the stuff to youconsider yourself my couture disposal chute. Blaine was getting tired of them all too." "There had come a point when I had nearly an entire fashion show's worth of clothes in my room," Blaine recalled. "The show must've been a disaster for Reed's mom if she sent them all away." Wes was wearing a Roosterteeth beanie that Kurt had given himhe had not taken it off the moment he unwrapped it. "We almost there yet?" he asked as he continued to play. The twins, who were devouring massive amounts of beans out of the tub of Every Flavor Beans that Kurt had given them, simultaneously pointed to the intercom. As if on cue, the pilot's voice sounded. "Attention, we will be landing at our private airfield at New York momentarily" "That timingis just creepy," Shane blinked. "And you have yet another private airfield in New York?" David was scribbling something on the beautifully covered moleskine notebook that Kurt had given him as his present. "Alright guys. I just got through to Sherry-Lehmann. We're good for New Years. We'll probably have enough to keep going until daylight." Kurt blinked, not sure. "That kind of sounds familiarwho's Sherry Lehmann?" The Twins looked at each other with a Cheshire smile and then looked at Kurt. "Oh. They're delivery people." Reed rolled his eyes and shook his head from behind the canvas, grumbling about "bad influences". Blaine just patted Kurt's arm. "Ithink you should stick with me." "Yes, please" Kurt shot the twins a suspicious glance, but his fingers twined around Blaine's. Shane, reading a sports mag, glanced at his brother and smirked at the obvious look of happiness that he never had all Christmas. Dwight came to life the moment the plane came to a full stop on the runway. "Oh, we're here already?" he blinked blearily. "Yup!" said Wes, getting up from his seat. "Didn't take that long, did it?" He grinned when he saw Kurt with his nose pressed to the glass window. "Hey Blaine? Hang onto him before he has an aneurismwe're not even in the city yet." Blaine laughed and led Kurt away from the window. "There's a better view outside. Come on, let's go. The crew will put your things in the car."

"Right" Kurt looked flushed and animated and let Blaine lead him to the exit. He was actually in New York. He had come to New York, and whole months earlier than if he had to wait until Nationals! It was beyond expectations. Outside into the crisp air, it was a bright morning. Below the stairs waited a long black limousine, with the chauffeur waiting with the door open. He nodded to the twins. "Mr. Evan, Mr. Ethan," he nodded. "Hello, Simon!" the twins said cheerily. "Everything's ready back at the pad?" "Yes, sir, the condominium at Park Avenue has been prepared for all of your friends. I've also just confirmed that you will have lunch waiting for you." "Food!" Wes exclaimed in relief. "Yes!" Going down the steps with Blaine, he stared at the limousine. He grinned and pulled out his phone.

Made it to New York with the boys. Just got off the private jet. Limo to take us to Upper East Side. I feel like a star already!
And then sent it to the members of the Glee Club. Blaine, who looked over his shoulder, laughed a little, almost to his ear. To have himand his lipsso close to his skin again nearly paralyzed Kurt as he turned slightly to look at him. Their eyes met for only a quick moment before Wes and David came up behind them and shoved them happily forward. "Now, nowbe patient, we're in public," David smirked. "Into the carlet's head to the condo and we promise the twins will give you a room," Was said in the tone teachers took when explaining to kindergarteners. "You two need to be quiet now, please" Blaine grimaced at them. "You're being completely unhelpful." "We were helpful?" Wes blinked in mock surprise. "When, pray tell?" As Kurt laughingly entered the car, fielding the excited replies of his McKinley friends and the indignant responses of one Rachel BerryShane helped Reed take his unfinished painting down the steps. He grinned at him as he took the canvas. "I hear you paint like a master. What are you painting?" Flustered and turning a bit red, Reed ducked his head. "Justa last minute thing." He immediately hurried ahead, not turning back to look at him. Shane, far from being deterred by his obvious reluctance to be near him all that much, just smiled and followed after him. "You guys go ahead!" Dwight called, jittery while on the bottom of the steps. "They're unloading my car! I don't want to get in yoursit doesn't have the proper protective countermeasures against my enemies!" "Dwight! You are not taking that Impala to Fifth and Park, I swear, you are not" Wes yelled from the window.

"No, no," grinned Evan. "Let him. He can park it at the garage." "I want to see it be the combo breaker amidst those European sportscars," Ethan added with a nod. Dwight quickly ran off. The door to the limousine closed and they were on their way, heading for Manhattan island. Kurt, magnetized as he was by all the sights, finally looked at the twins, staring. "Who are you two?" The people in the limousine laughed much in the same way Wes, David and Blaine did back then when Kurt had first asked if they were gay. The Twins looked at him with boundless affection. "We're perfect." Blaine rolled his eyes but smiled. "They're very very wealthy." "Their parents manufacture aircraft for a number of companies, and their products have quite percentage of the market," David explained. "They're ridiculously rich." "What are you doing in Ohio, then?" Kurt asked disbelievingly. "Shouldn't you be in some European boarding school or something?" "We're very troublesome to keep anywhere too high profile," Evan admitted. "We've been horribly spoiled by our parents and sister," Ethan explained. "And so to keep us in check" "They sent us to Dalton" "Which is dad's alma mater!" "Where we can't make any trouble." Everyone in the limo gave them a stare that clearly questioned if they (or their parents) were of sound mind and judgment. The Twins only looked at each other pretended to blush. Wes just shook his head. He glanced behind them through the tinted screens and saw Dwight following in the Impala. From the way he was head-banging, it had to be another "mullet rock" classic that was playing in there. No one had the time to get very impatient before before they made it through Queens, and at which point, the Twins said, "Look out the window, Alice." Kurt turned, and stared. There was Manhattan. Right outside his window. The Empire State building soared beyond the rest, and from where he was, he could also see that iconic Chrysler building. That spiraling cityscape full of bustling people, one of the most famous cities in the world and the hotbed of sophistication, arts, and bohemian life, most of all, the home of Broadwayhe was going to it. He was having sensory overload. Reed was grinning as he pretended to fan his friend. "We could've taken the chopper, couldn't we?"

"Yes, but he wouldn't be this flustered if it went by that fast," grinned David. Evan happily snapped a photo, his twin snatching out the Polaroid. "Aww. Alice's first trip to New York," he said. "And it won't be the last." Park Avenue was overwhelming to someone who had never really quite gotten used to a whole lot of luxury. In itself, it was picturesque, with all those old buildings that retain their air of conservative sophistication. Kurt, who was still reeling at the close-up sight of the Chrysler building, the Grand Central Station and the Met-Life building, stared as they stopped before a large building with gleaming gold and glass doors. Dwight pulled up right behind them. "Yay! New York home sweet home!" chorused the identical ones. The doorman walked over and opened the limo door. The twins hopped out first crushing the usual fifty to his hand as they shook hands with himand nodded to the others. "Let's go." Blaine helped Kurt, whose eyes looked so big as they looked around, that he nearly laughed. He let the others go ahead and squeezed Kurt's hand to get his attention. Kurt trained his blue eyes at him and for a moment, Blaine just had to smile, before saying, "I'm afraid I can't give you your Christmas gift until tonight. Is that all right?" "Of course it is," Kurt said sensibly. He nodded to Blaine's hands and smiled. "You're wearing them already?" He had given Blaine suede glovesand had prepared something else that he planned on giving him later. Blaine smiled and held up the gloves. "I like them." And he used those warmly gloved hands to take Kurt's, leading him into the building. They followed the twins through the brilliant lobby of sumptuous dcor, and to the elevators. But they did not use any of the others in the gleaming banks. They headed towards the sole elevator around a corner. It was one that needed a thumb-scan. Only one of them had to do itand then the doors opened, and everyone rushed in. In the cramped space, as they shot upwards steadily, the boys kept "accidentally" shoving Kurt onto Blaine. At one point, David and Wes were trying to wrestle each other in the elevator and Wes was successfully pinning Kurt against Blaine. Blaine was completely unfazed about itor at least, it looked that wayand he held Kurt quietly without a sign of discomfort. Far more impressive than Kurt's own inability to think past being pressed close enough to feel the other boy's heartbeat. When the elevator doors opened, Kurt realized why the twins had their own elevator. They owned the entire floor. The place itself was massive, almost to the very top of the building, with a spectacular view that could look out over Central Park and beyond. The condominium was elaborately decorated and had incredible furnishingsthe interior trend was black, white and bluethat made it look comfortable and sophisticated at the same time.

There was already lunch waiting for them at the dining hall, and the boys ran towards it with the single-mindedness of the ravenous. As they consumed their meal of angus beef steaksthe only thing that could apparently tame their voracious adolescent hungersthe Twins finally spoke. "About that party" Evan blinked. "Don't we have to explain to Alice?" Ethan asked. "Explain to me what?" Kurt asked, looking up. The Windsor boys looked at each other. Blaine put his fork down. "I think we shouldn't do that this year. This wouldn't bode well for Kurt." "Which is why we have to tell him," said Evan with a smile. "It's a pretty wild one," said Ethan. "If it's anything like we have at Windsor" Kurt began, but David shook his head with a bit of forced smile. "No, nothey means lots of guests, pounding music, girls, epilepsyinducing lights, some serious booze, and the fact that" He glanced at Blaine. Blaine looked at Kurt, and Kurt looked at him, and then glanced to how everyone else in the room looked very awkward. "Well of course we'd get you out of it, if anything went awry" said Reed quickly. "If you stay close to one of us, I mean," added Wes. The Twins cleared their throats. Evan leaned forward. "What he means to say is that on midnight" "When the ball drops at Times Square" Ethan did the same. "Everyone" "Everyone" "Gets to kiss someone." Kurt blinked. "But, isn't that what everyone already does?" "But that's not all" "Not quite" "Because by that time, everyone will be dizzy, disoriented" "and drunk on music, or booze or hormones" "And so when the ball drops"

"The lights go out." Blaine sat up. Kurt frowned. The Twins smiled. "And then you get to kiss anyone. Anyone you like. And you will never know who it is." "You don't have to go," Blaine said, following Kurt into his room later on that day, when everybody finally finished settling in. He looked more upset about the issue than Kurt was. "It's ridiculous, it's just something that they like to do when it's their turn to host. I figured they wouldn't do it to you afterafter you got kissed without consent." Kurt sat down on the bed and smiled up at him. "If you don't mind my saying, it's starting to sound a lot like Gossip Girl up here?" "Doesn't it just?" Blaine smiled now and sat next to him. He sighed. "So far, though, is it all that bad?" "No," Kurt said nonchalantly. "You all have been nothing but overly hospitable. I don't know much by way of wild parties held by hormone-driven boys, but I do know that I have a few more days until the ball drops. Until then, I think I can decide if I even want to participate in the depravity." He flopped backwards onto the waterbed, which rippled beneath him. "I'm in New York, for crying out loud. I think I'd like to make the most of it." Blaine tried very hard not to look at him so much as he lay there, supple, looking up at the ceiling with those incredible eyes of his that seemed to take in the light in the room. Blaine turned to the window, then glanced at his watch. He nudged Kurt's hand. "It's almost time anyway. Come on. I'm giving you your Christmas present." Intrigued, Kurt sat up. "Oh really." "Yeah." Blaine stood, held out his hand to him. "Might be a good way to end the day." Kurt looked down a moment and smiled. He took his hand. "Let's go. We'll have to get out before any of them suspect we're going to escape." "No, they're occupied with selecting party food. That'll take at least four hours." The days were short. The light was dying over New York already. With daylight fading away, the city that never slept began to fire up its lights. One building to the nexta carpet of light that steadily grew in intensity as more joined it in the late afternoon. Kurt and Blaine, carrying his trusty boombox again, walked down Avenue of the Americas. Blaine kept his hand securely on Kurt's as they pushed moved past the people

on the street. It didn't take Kurt very long to realize where Blaine was actually taking him. And so when he stopped in front of the building Kurt stared up at the edifice and then to Blaine. "Radio City Music Hall?" "That's right," Blaine smiled. "I figured if we're going to be huge stars, we might as well get used to seeing it." He laughed. "Let's go." He pulled Kurt along, going all the way around to the back entrance. "Are you supposed to be doing that?" Kurt asked as Blaine pushed the door open, looking around. "If the place was open, we could use the front door." "So technically, we're borrowing the place a moment," Blaine answered with a grin, pulling him in. The door slammed shut. Everything turned to darkness, and he saw nothing. He only had Blaine's voice and his hand leading him. "What are we doing here?" Blaine just smiled to himself, not answering Kurt. He pulled him through the labyrinth of dimly lit backstage halls, where their footsteps echoed through the emptiness. At first, Kurt wasn't sure if they were even going anywhere until finallyinto light. Kurt stopped short as Blaine continued to walk, his footsteps sounding onto the stage. After the dim passages, to suddenly move past the curtains and be exposed to the vast grandness of the entire stage, and to the arch of the ceiling, the seats lit and after thatit was no longer all that difficult to imagine standing in front of a crowd that roared the moment you stepped out into the lights. Blaine set the boombox down on the stage and turned around carefully on his heel to look at Kurt, smiling. "what do you think?" Kurt stepped out into open stage, looking around himself. This massive location housed some of the most incredible artistic performances the world has seen, and now here he was, Kurt Hummel, right beneath the house lights, looking out to it. At the expression on Kurt's face and inability to speak, Blaine smiled and decided that his present seemed to be a success. It was worth seeing that in Kurt's eyes. "How" Kurt stammered, looking around, adjusting to the shock that even his inner diva had not been prepared for. He had always lived for the stage, that much was certain, but to see it from this side, in this place, in New York City, for the first time "I pulled some strings" Blaine murmured, looking around and admiring it as well. "Actually, my mother did, at my request. They havesome leverage in stage matters. Besides I only asked for an extension on a period of time when no one was actually using it, or preparing to set up, just yet. Soit's all ours for the next thirty minutes." Blaine walked to the edge of the stage and leapt into the orchestra pit. Kurt looked up. "Hey! Where are you going?" "Where else? To get a good seat." He headed up the aisles, and unceremoniously plopped down on one of the cushioned seats. He smirked at him. "So I can watch you sing."

Kurt's eyebrows went up. "Sing. Now?" "No day but today," Blaine said offhandedly. "Huh" Kurt seemed to think about it, and a gleam of an idea came into his eyes as he gave Blaine a smirk. "NoI don't think so. You're coming up here to sing with me." "You've got to be kidding. I thought holiday miracles ended at ChristmasKurt Hummel gets the Radio City Music Hall Stage to himself for the first timeand he wants to share?" Kurt answered with the same offhand way, crossing his arms. "Well you did bring me here And just because it's my first time doesn't mean it's going to be my last, I can assure you that." He smirked. "And a song doesn't last thirty minutes. I think I'll have time to further regale you with my talents after you give in to this request?" Blaine had to laugh. He got up with a sigh, shedding his coat onto the seat. "And what did you have in mind?" "Something worthy of the occasion" Kurt seemed to consider. He then gracefully walked up to the boombox, quickly selected a song, and hit play. And the moment the opening drum beats sounded, Blaine recognized the song and smiled. Kurt grinned and gestured for him to come hither.

Live in my house, I'll be your shelter, Just pay me back With one thousand kisses Be my lover and I'll cover you
Blaine, smiling in amusement, carefully walked down the aisle towards him as he sang:

Open your door, I'll be your tenant Don't got much baggage to lay at your feet But sweet kisses I've got to spare I'll be there and I'll cover you
As Blaine reached the edge of the stage looking up expectantly at him with eyes bright, Kurt knelt down on the edge, leaning to him, smirking as they continued together:

I think they meant it when they said you can't buy love Now I know you can rent it

A new lease you are my love, on life Be my life

As Blaine mounted the stage again, the doors to the audience entrance slowly opened. Reed's head peeked in first, and upon seeing the pair onstage, grinned immediately. He turned and gestured for the others to come in. The rest of the boys quickly came in, tiptoeing down the aisleShane romping ahead, with a video camera watching as the two danced around the stage to the music. Kurt took off his scarf and placed it around Blain's neck, using it to pull him close.

Just slip me on, I'll be your blanket Wherever, whatever, I'll be your coat
"You'll be my King, and I'll be your castle," Kurt sang, grinning as he moved around him, and Blaine shook his head with a cheeky grin, singing, "No, you'll be my Queen, and I'll be your moat" The boys in the audience nearly laughed out loud. The pair continued to sing, looking wonderfully alive:

I think they meant it when they said you can't buy love Now I know you can rent it A new lease you are my love, on life All my life
As the two of them swirled on stage around each other, singing with everything they had, looking intently at each other as they exchanged lines in perfect time:

I've longed to discover Something as true as this is So with a thousand sweet kisses (If you're cold and you're lonely) I'll cover you With a thousand sweet kisses (You've got one nickel only) I'll cover you

With a thousand sweet kisses (When you're worn out and tired) I'll cover you With a thousand sweet kisses, (When your heart has expired) I'll cover you
Their hands touched again, pulling each other close, Kurt moving his hands over the scarf that dangled down Blaine's chest.

Oh, lover, I'll cover you, Yeah Oh, lover, I'll cover you...
The music faded away, leaving them both leaning close, foreheads just brushing each other's. Kurt glanced upwards a moment, smiling a little, and it made Blaine grin. The boys in the audience burst into applause and cheers, making the two look up immediately. As the others clapped as hard as they could, Wes was catcalling and Shane was laughing out loud, making sure to take the memory card out of the camera quickly. Blaine and Kurt laughed from onstage, both flushed red, both abashed and still taken in by the moment. "Encore!" Reed called. "Encore, encore!" "Just you then," Blaine said, as he released Kurt. "This is your present, after all. The stage is all yours." "Best Christmas present I've received yet," Kurt smirked back. Other than you. Blaine just laughed and went down to the others as Kurt blew kisses to them, preparing to make his second performance.

Episode 15: Come In...

I'm Kurt. I recently transferred to Dalton Academy. I recently got flown to New York by the obscenely wealthy Twins. That can't be good their evil and all that money puts them a few steps away from mounting world domination. I found out what Windsors did on New Year's parties. I can't say I'm that worried But it certainly won't bode well for everyone if they hit the wrong lips.
When Kurt opened his eyes the morning of the 29th, looked through the window and saw the sky, the skyscrapers and Central Park, he smirked to himself. It wasn't a dream this timehe was really still in New York. It was a heady sensation; or perhaps that was just the effect of the height the condo was in. It didn't seem all too real, but his Christmas preset from Blainehis own little debut on Radio City Music Hallwas so vivid in his mind that it simply had to be real. He just finished getting dressed and was fixing his hair when there was a knock at the door. "Come in." Reed's fluffy strawberry-blond hair peeked in. "Hey, you're up! Great! Ow" he crushed his toe under the door as he came in. But he grinned and hopped over to Kurt. "So!" "So?" Kurt glanced at him at the corner of his eyes. "Plans?" Reed queried. "Aren't we supposed to go to your exhibit tonight in the Upper West Side?" Kurt asked as he lowered his hairspray. "Or did you mean for this morning?" "Well I was just thinking that if you didn't have anything else on your plate" Reed casually took out two gleaming platinum cards from his pocket and fanned himself with them, smiling up at his friend. Kurt stared at the cards, then at him and back again. "You are not. You are not." "Yes, I am," Reed answered. "The staff at Bergdorf have been forewarned to expect my presence and that of aVIP. Some aspiring Broadway Diva named Hummel. Would you know him?" "Reed" Kurt turned fully to him. "This is too much. Not only have the Tweedles already flown me here, let me live in their Park Avenue condominium and give me full use of their chauffeur to go sightseeing in the past two days, but you've dumped an entire wardrobe of clothes onto meworth thousands of dollarsincluding products" He threw up his hands. "You can't keep doing thisI feel like a charity case!"

"Oh please, Kurt" Reed's expression of irritation was almost frighteningly like his mother's. He got up and sat across him on the bed. "Why can't you just let us spoil you? It's not like we do this all the time." "The first day I moved in, you guys fully furnished my room." Kurt said, eyes narrowed. "That's different, it's a special occasion," Reed sighed. "Look at it this way. We're not doing this because we pity you or anythingwhy should we? You're a Windsor, so that doesn't make you any different from us. If you notice, we all kind of do this to each other, and not just you. Remember how the Twins pulled out Dwight's party? Was Dwight a charity case? Nohis family has major shares in theme parks in Florida and some in the West Coast. Which is an added bonus for everyone else when we feel like going on a few rollercoasters. If you had as much money I bet you'd do the same for your McKinley friends, right?" Kurt leaned back on his vanity chair and sighed, shrugging. "I suppose, I don't know maybe, if I was particularly giving" He smiled a little. "Now in my case," and here Reed performed his best impression of a wounded bunny begging for help, "I've never had anyone to talk to about fashion and stuff like this, Kurt! Blaine's all right, but he can get kind of serious and he's always wound up with dealing with everyone else. Please, please, please go shopping with me to Bergdorf? You don't even have to get anything, you just have to put up with my company. Please?" Kurt dropped his face into his hand with a deep sigh of surrender. "well someone has to make sure you don't knock over the mannequins" "Yes!" Reed leapt off the bedand fell face-first onto the carpet. David was staring out of the window, his cell to his ear. "but she's all right?" "We're not sure yet, David," said the woman's voice gently from the other end of the phone call. "She's still in surgery We won't know until a couple of hours." "I understand" David sat down at the bay window. "I really wanted to be there." "David, you couldn't have known," answered the woman. "And she didn't want you to know. You spent most of Christmas with her already when you should have been with your family." "I don't spend enough time with her, I think. With schoolchoirsoccer" "You spend too much," the woman said. "Even she thinks so." "It doesn't count. I know there's a chance that I might not have that long with her." Silence on the other end. "Oh, David," the woman finally said softly. "You shouldn't give up like that. She wouldn't be happy to hear that coming from you. We'll know how it turns out by end of today." David sighed deeply, leaning back on the wall. "Please call me when Katherine gets out,

Mrs. Rivers? II kind of want to be with her for New Years. Even if it's just over the phone." "Of course, you'll be my first call the moment she gets out." "Thank you, Mrs. Rivers. I'll talk to you later." David hung up and let the hand holding the phone fall limp to his side as he looked out to the cityscape from the window, chewing on the thumbnail of his free hand. His body remained still, but his eyes flickered through the scene as though he were searching. Wes came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder, shaking it a little in reassurance. "Hey. You going to be all right?" David patted his friend's hand. "I will once she gets off the table." "Hey man, if there's anything we can do, we told you" "I know." David said, looking up at him with a small smile. "Right now I've still got it under control. Whatever she needs, I've got it." Blaine finally lowered the paper he was reading and walked over. He looked a little worried. "WaitDavid You taking care of Katherine like this is fine by us and allbut this better not be out of guilt. We talked about this, right?" David got up. "Okay. All right. Let's not go back to this. Bottom lineI've got this. Katherine's going to be all right. All right? End discussion, guys." Wes looked at Blaine, who just nodded slowly. Wes went to David and gave him a quick hug. "All right, man. If you say so. You're doing a great job." "Yeah, thanks" Happily shattering the somewhat awkward air, a pair of wildly colorful blurs came tearing through the hall, putting on boots. "Let's go, let's go!" Reed cried, nearly tripping over his Fendis. "And where do you think you two are going?" asked Blaine, raising an eyebrow, trying not to stare at how those black Sevens were clinging to Kurt's legs as he put on his Doc Martens. This was the problem with going ahead and kissing someone. Now that he'd had one, he had to keep wondering about more. "Bergdorf's," Reed answered, struggling with the zipper of his boots. "We're going to go do retail therapy." "Just the two of you?" asked Wes. "Yeah," Kurt answered. "Whoa, you two are not going out by yourselves," said David, walking up to them, looking at them as though they were crazy. "At least let me and Wes go with you."

"We're not five," Kurt said sensibly, raising an eyebrow as he put on his jacketthe white mink that everyone in the condo was secretly planning on destroying. Wes shook his head. "Not exactly like that. It'll be like someone blind leading someone lame. Reed knows his way around, but you're keeping him from maiming himself and you don't know your way around New York all that well yet." Kurt gave them a disbelieving stare. "You two are actingodder than usual." "No we are not," the two chorused, staring at them. Perhaps they were. But it had mostly to do with something the twins had sent them over phone earlier. The Tweedles had fled bright and early that morningpossibly heading out to see decorators for the massive party that seemed to be attracting every Windsor and Dalton boy who had time to fly from wherever they were. Especially after the twins hinted that a couple of Victoria's Secret supermodels might make an appearance. But when the twins sent this message from wherever they may be lurking:

AMBER ALERTSaw the Knave in Le Pain Quotidien. Looks sobered down, don't know if good or bad. Keep tabs on Alice.
David and Wes started to get a little worried. Logan lived somewhere in the Upper East Side as well, but they had heard he was in Paris for Christmas with his severe father and the trophy wife. Him coming back within days of the party was something to worry about. They had talked about this with the twins, about any Anti-Logan contingency plans as they tried to all but cuff Blaine and Kurt together. "What do you mean you can't just bar him from coming?" Wes had asked. "It's your house!" "But it's technically not our party," Evan had explained. "You guys know it, we know it the New Year party pass-around is a tradition and every Dalton tradition comes with annoying rules, such as" "The hosts have the option to kill the lights" Ethan said, counting with his fingers. "thou shalt give all Warblers VIP" "thou shalt not puke over the balcony" "thou shalt not answer the phone if it's your parents" "And every Legacy immediately has access into the party." Ethan crossed his arms over his chest. "And Logan's family has had Legacy for four generations, and in Stuart for two. And he's a Warbler. So he has triple the automatic invite." This was impressive, seeing as how only a few Dalton boys can claim Legacy of this magnitudethe Twins included. David just barely made the upper echelons with two generations. Dwight had one generation fallback, while Blaine, Wes and Reed didn't even have Legacy to boast of. So whether they liked it or not, if Logan so chose to arrive at the 31st, he would have to

be admitted in. Blaine was actually that close to being official with Kurt, so Wes and David could take no chances. They had seen the confession backstage. And while they have good headway so far between the Rabbit and Alice, the Knave had every ability to step in. "I have to buy Katherine something for New Year's anyway," David said casually. "Might as well go with you. I don't even know what to get her." Kurt and Reed looked at each other. Kurt then said to them, "I suppose we could help you out in that direction" "Are you sure you want to go with us?" Reed blinked. "Because you're going to have to help me deal with holding Kurt back once he sees all the Marc Jacobs." He ducked Kurt's swat at him. "It'll be fine," Wes said, already picking up his phone and putting it into his pocket. "I won't be joining you, unfortunately," said Blaine, glancing at them, looking apologetically at Kurt. "Shane's disappeared and I have to go see where he'd gotten to. I'm only hoping that he didn't go out with Dwightthe Impala's also gonewho seems to have gone out hunting at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. And I refuse to have him contaminate my excitable brother." He rolled his eyes, exasperated. He wondered why they were hundreds of miles from school and yet he still had to babysit everyone else. "We'll be fine without you, then," Kurt said, suddenly giving him a rather affectionate hug. Blaine was surprised, but held Kurt by the waist and smiled. "Have fun," he said. "It's Bergdorf, Blaine. Your problem is prying me out." "Then, I'll pick you all up later and I'll help them peel you off the door." He grinned. Wes and David pretended to gag from the door, Reed kicking them as they did. But Blaine and Kurt had made some progress at least. They weren't shying away from each other anymore. But they've yet to make the Armageddon-style impact everyone had been waiting for. And they had to make sure no one suddenly decides to go out and be a hero before that happens. "Dear god, Kurt, stop!" Reed begged. "I can't take it anymore!" "Just a bit morestop moving so much! " Kurt snapped. "It won't fit!" "Yes it will!" "Well if you just let me" "No, not until I say so!" "Just let me"

"shh!" Wes and David glanced at each other with deeply disturbed expressions at the noises in the dressing room. They were not quite prepared to board the actual train of thought that the sounds entailed, so David gingerly knocked. "Pardon me, guys, but what the hell?" There was a brief squabble inside and Reed whined, "Kurt won't leave me alone! I told him that the pants won't fit! And I'm pretty sure that I'm losing my circulation!" "They do fit and you just don't know how to zip them up right!" Kurt shot back. "There's five different zippers!" Wes pressed a hand into his temple. "I think I'll let you handle this," he said to David. To the two in the dressing room, he said with extended patience, "Are we positive that after this, we are finally leaving this place? It's been five hours and I'm pretty sure that dragon living in my stomach just ate my appendix." "You were the ones who wanted to come with us" muttered Kurt. There was a sound of something zipping up so fast that fabric could have torn. "Yes!" Reed gasped from inside the dressing room. "Let's leave before Kurt shovels me into another coat!" "You were the one who wanted me to come with you!" Kurt also shot at him. Wes looked at David. "I'll go tell Blaine to come get us and tell some people topick all this up." He motioned to the plethora of shopping bags that were waiting at the counter. To say that the twosome went overboard was an understatement. The number could rival corporate giveaways and it had come to the point that not even all four of them could carry it all. While Kurt steadfastly maintained that most if not all of them were Reed's, he was sure that a good number will be going back to Lima with Kurtwho was determined to indoctrinate his new stepmother to couture in the hopes that some of it rubs off on her son. Wes left, leaving David to listen to the two in the dressing room. "So" Kurt said almost successfully offhand, brushing down his clothes, "we have to talk about Shane." Reed froze. "What about Shane?" Kurt raised his eyebrow at him. "Reed, you can't be serious. He is following you around staring at you. He's worshipping you. He's probably the High Priest of Reed-ism right now." "Kurt, please don't say those things, they really make me uncomfortable," Reed said tightly, looking down at the floor. "Well they're true." Kurt said. He studied his friend. "Does it really make you feel that bad? Because if it does, we'll tell him to leave you alone."

"Shane'sreally great, he's a nice guy, butI just don't know how to feel about him being interested in me. That way." Kurt stared, then let out his breath and crossed his arms over his chest. "All right, Reed. I'm about to make a breach of privacy here and you're going to have to forgive me but at this point it has to be asked: which way do you actually swing? Because Blaine and I, our radars scream their heads off on you especially after all this, but no one's actually sure." Silence. David felt he should step away from this and gave the two their privacy by following after Wes. Finally, Reed let out his breath. "I don't know." Kurt sat on the cushioned chair in the large dressing room. "You don't know," he repeated, stared up questioningly at Reed. "I'm in high schoolaren't I allowed to be a littleconfused sometimes?" Reed mumbled, picking at the belt he was wearing. "I mean I haven't ever really fallen in love with a girl before, but I always thought that it was because I just haven't found one I liked? And I'm surrounded by all these people who pretty much think that I am, and it just makes me think that I should be, but at the same time I don't think that's right eitherto begay just because everyone expected me to be" He looked at Kurt. "Does this make sense at all?" "Surprisingly, yes." Kurt smiled a bit. "And then Shane I met him and seriously, I didn't think I wasyou know, hit or anything. The way Blaine was with you" "Pardon?" Kurt interrupted, narrowing his eyes at him. "He got hit hard, Kurtthey tell me Blaine looked like he got hit by a freight trainjust own it," Reed waved it away. "My point isI didn't see Shane like that. He just looked like, wella friend. New person. Blaine's younger brother. And then he started following me and you all started telling me that he was in love with me" "He is over the moon. Own that." "right, wellit's semi-not-mutual right now." "Semi?" Kurt smiled a bit more. Reed rolled his eyes awkwardly. "No one's actually ever been in love with me. And to hear that Shane is, wellitkind ofsounded nice. And I found himreally sweet, creepy as it is." He sighed. "But I don't want to keep Shane trailing along like this eitherit sounds cruel." Reed smiled. "You're actually the first person to ask about this, did you know? Kurt nodded slowly, considering. He looked around the room a moment, then said, "Can I ask another one? The way you are with us Windsors, Warblers right now? You're just being you, right?"

"Yeah" "Are you happy when you're justwinging it with us?" "You have no idea." Reed smiled. "Then the label is unnecessary," Kurt declared, standing. He shrugged. "Not one of us is rushing you to figure it outor they would've said so. You just keep being fabulous and we'll all get along. If you like girls, or guys, it doesn't really make a big difference to us. And whatever you decide, I'm sure that if Shane really does like you, he'll support. Or we'll make him. Whichever." Reed laughed and shook his head. "Right. I'm sure." "and in response to this breach of privacy, I'll tell you a secret that if you tell anyone in Dalton, I will set fire to your McQueens." He leaned over and whispered in Reed's ear. Reed listened, and then his eyes widened to their fullest extent, jaw dropping. He stared at Kurt. "No." "Yes." "No!" "It was plaid." Kurt nodded somberly. "and the hat" Reed stared in shock, eyes bright. "Okay, the topic is now over!" Kurt exclaimed, bright red in the face, walking out of the dressing room rapidly, Reed trailing after him, wildly excited as he chased him across the floor. "You can't just drop it like that! Details! When was this? And the accent! What did people say?" "Conversation is over, Reed, and I swear if you tell anyone, especially Wes, David and the Tweedles, I will" "Wait," Reed looked around. "Where are Wes and David?" The department store continued on in its bustle, but with no sign of their companions. They searched the floor, looking for them until they reached the store entrance, rushing outside. There was no car waiting for them either, and there was no sign of the twosome. "Didn't Wes say he was going to call the others?" Kurt said, looking around. "Yeseven the bags are gone" Reed found no sign of their bags. "Where did David go?" "Maybe he followed him." "I'll go check with the staff, stay here," Reed hurried off to find one of the attendants, nearly hitting glass in his haste. Kurt, who just pulled out his cell phone and do the rational thingcall themmade to go after his friend. "Reed, wait!"

He stopped. He stood staring at someone he recognized, walking towards the direction of Central Park. He thought he was seeing things, but it had to be rightthe blond head that moved through the crowd was still the same, but the green eyes looked dull with haze. "Logan?" Kurt narrowed his eyes a little. He looked different, the very appearance of someone who had gone through some holiday stress. He appeared paler than usual, his pallor contrasting too much against his jet black coat. Hands in his pockets, mist coming from his lips, he headed to the park. Kurt glanced back to the door. He looked down at the coat he was wearing and sighed. He remembered what Logan said backstage and shook his head. If he had the chance to do it, he'll have to now, before the other Windsors could swoop down. He made a quick text, sending it to Reed.

Be right back. K
And he ran after Logan before he could lose him in the crowd. He pierced through the people, somehow glad that Logan was so tallhe could still see him. As Kurt flew off, someone who was just heading to Bergdorf looked up and stopped in surprise at the sight of him. Shane blinked. Where's he going? He'll get lost He quickly began to follow, crossing the street and going after him. A quick glance to where Kurt was looking helped him spot a tall blond heading to Central park. Shane felt startled.

Logan Wright? What the hell? His eyes darkened a little, and he walked faster, determined to catch up to them. He pulled out his Sidekick and sent a cryptic message to his brother. SOS, Central Park! Follow my GPS! S
Logan sat at one of the benches, folding his gloved hands together and looking up at the trees, exhaling a cloud as he did. There were always people in Central Park, but right now he could barely hear any of them. He was still fighting through his own fog. He rested his elbows onto his knees, leaning over. A pair of beautifully-booted feet stopped in front of him topped by a swirl of white mink. He raised his eyes blearily and saw Kurt Hummel, flushed with exertion, looking at him. He stared a moment, not sure if this was what he was actually seeing. "Kurt?" "Hi," Kurt said shortly. "Uh, hi." Logan sat up, blinking in confusion. "Why are you" he stopped then remembered. "Ah Twins must have taken you to visit for the New Year party" "Yeah," Kurt nodded. "Isaw you head here." "And you followed me?"

Kurt colored bright red. "maybe." Logan nodded, just seeming to take this information without being able to feel anything about it. "Okay." He looked at the coat. "it looks good on you." "Everything does," Kurt shrugged. There was a most awkward pause that followed. Logan seemed to look past Kurt and just look completely out of himself than was normal. Finally, Kurt said, "About the coat thank you." Logan smiled slightly and shrugged, almost disinterested. "Not a big deal. I figure the rest of the Windsors buried you in more anyway." Kurt finally just cut to the chase. "look, seriously noware you all right? Because you don't look" "Venomous? Intense? Dangerous? Weapons-Grade Psychotic?" The countertenor pursed his lips. So Logan was self-aware, and aware of what everyone else thought of him. He had to give him that. "healthy, was the word. I know they're trying to make you better, in some degree, but what have they been giving you?" "I decided not to askbut half the time I feel like I'm going to go full stop altogetherI'm that hazy. I just wanted to get out and get some fresh air." He waved absently. "Clear my head. Right now, I'm just I feel like I'm going to disappear." Kurt didn't know what to make of that. He sat carefully next to him, remaining a prudent distance. "but you're going to be all right?" "Yes, I think so. Once I leave my father's spyglass, I'll be all right," Logan smiled a little. Kurt remembered Mr. Wright very vividly. "yeah, your dad really knows how to roast." "That was the best Parisian Christmas ever" Logan said sarcastically. "I loved sharing a room with the old man and Michelle, pretending to be straight and shaking hands with politicians." Kurt almost smiled. Logan looked at him and added, "How long will you be in New York?" "Until New Year" "Oh so I'll see you at the party?" Kurt stared. "The party?" "Every Dalton Legacy is automatically invited to the New Year party tradition I know that much. I didn't think I was going to go, but now" he smiled at him. "Don't worry. I'll be good. As much as the drugs will allow anyway." Kurt felt awkward and stood. "The party. Do the Twins know? They didn't"

"Shh!" Logan suddenly said, looking up. He seemed like he was listening. "do you hear that?" Kurt listened. He heard a lot of laughter and talk from a crowd not too far from where they were, but he hadn't been consciously listening to them. It was only now that he noticed that there was something else. Music. Logan got up and looked to where it was coming from. After a moment's craning, he suddenly smirked, looking a bit more like his old self. "Ah. I get it. Come on." "Why?" "You'll want to see this." And he grabbed Kurt's hand and pulled him along over the path. Kurt's eyes widened, staring at the sudden contact. Only Blaine had ever held his hand so casually before. It was at this point that Shane ran out of hiding and chased them. "Hey! Logan!" he yelled. Logan appeared as though he knew he was there the whole time. He casually released Kurt's hand and said, "Hey Shane. Nice to see you again. Good timing. You'll want to see this too, so you can tell the others." Shane, startled and confused at his casual attitude, only managed to say, "What? See what?" "Our competition for Nationals." The crowd in the park a way off from them was still growing, mainly because of startled onlookers. They looked like a group of students, most of them, clapping their hands to the beat. They were wearing ordinary clothes and looking excited. They formed a semicircle around a group of girls dancing and singing. There was a group of girls in rows, singing in chorus, while there was a primary group out front that was singing and dancing to "Do Somethin'". Logan being the tallest, he pushed through the crowd for a better look and helped Shane and Kurt get nearer. The girls were particularly goodthe ones in the ranks were singing in perfect chorus, having arranged the song into a show choir version that sounded clear in the air. They backed up the main singers up front, who were shameless. They had the voices and they were unbelievable dancers, perfectly synchronized.

I see you looking at me Like I was some kind of freak Get up out of your seat

Why don't you do somethin'?

Sadly, it was the tail end of the song that the three caught up to. The girls made their finale, the lead three making a solid finish of their harmonization and high notes, and the crowd burst into applause and cheering, especially from the students. "What the?" Kurt stared at the girls, who were jumping up and down, waving and blowing flirty grins at everyone. "Harold Kramer High School," Logan explained. "I've seen them before. They like to do public exhibitions. Sometimes with good and bad results because of the police shooing them offI hear they invaded Grand Central oncebut they don't care. These are just their girls. You're going to want to see what happens next." The beautiful black girl with long braids that reached to her hips, one of the lead singers, was getting the crowd riled up. "You want some more of this?" she yelled, and the crowd cheered. "Yeah!" the redhead among the lead singers waved to them. She made a come-hither gesture. "Hey boys! Let them have it!" And from the crowd, rushing past everyone else, a mass of boys poured. They were all dressed in casual clothing and they gave each other high fives as the music from their stereo started to blast. They were all playing around, but the had the same formation as the girlsa solid vocal group behind the main singers. A tall, slightly built boy with close-cropped brown hair moved to front and grinned, "Come on, boyslet's get them!" They began to danceand they were even better than the girls had been. The boys in front could really move, the likes of which Kurt hadn't seen since Mike Chang. It was like a whole group of Mike Chang. Shane stared. "wow." Kurt swallowed. Their vocals at the back did not dance as wildly as they did, but their voices melded in perfect harmony, like the Warblers'. And even in their dance, they energy was higher than the Warblers', each movement fluid and voices clear. Their music drove everyone to dance.

I've got the magic in me Everytime I touch that track it turns into gold Everybody knows I've got the magic in me When I hit the floor the girls come snappin' at me Now everybody wants some presto magic
If that hadn't been bad enough, their lead singers were also their lead dancers. Their show choir rendition of Magic was positively infectious and the grown was moving along

to the beat already. The three boys in front were taking the lead.

Magic, magic, magic Magic, magic, magic Magic, magic, magic(ahoo) I've got the magic in me!
They broke ranks, the chorus behind them dancing and just clearly having fun with what they were doing, grinning to each other. A dark haired boy slid forward on his knees and began to sing as he danced like a professional:

These tricks that I'll attempt will blow your mind Pick a verse, any verse, I'll hypnotize you with every line I'll need a volunteer, how about you, with the eyes? Come on down to the front, and stand right here and don't be shy
And they could rap. How this was even happening was beyond comprehension. Each of the lead three had their turn at a line.

I'll have you time-travellin', have your mind babblin' People tryna inherit the skill so they askin' me Even David Blaine had to go and take some classes, and I see Mindfreak like, "What's up man, what's happenin'?" So come one, come all, and see the show tonight Prepare to be astounded, no Ghost or Poltergeist You know I'm no Pinocchio, I've never told a lie So call me Mr. Magic Man, I float on Cloud 9
Kurt's heart was in his throat. This was bad. This was really really bad. The Kramer team had every synchronized order of the Warblers and all the energy and bright movements of New Directions. He hadn't seen this level of performance since Vocal Adrenalinebut the Kramer students had nothing robotic about them. They were just "Pure Energy," said Logan, eyeing them. "They're the Kramer High School Pure Energy." The crowd cheered as the girls tore out of the crowd again and joined the boysforming one massive sound, voices seamlessly blending as they danced.

I've got the magic in me (I got the magic, baby)

Everytime I touch that track it turns into gold (Yes it turns to gold) Everybody knows I've got the magic in me (I got the magic, baby) When I hit the flow the girls come snappin' at me (They be snappin' baby) Now everybody wants some presto magic Magic, magic, magic Magic, magic, magic Magic, magic, magic(ahoo) I've got the magic in me!
At the end of their performance, the crowdmostly comprised to Kramer studentsstared to cheer wildly for the team, who were all cuffing each other, giving high fives and brofists. They bowed to their crowd, wacing and pointing. "Say it, Kramer!" "Nationals!" the school cheered. "Say what?" "Nationals!" "Where we going?" "That's right! Yeah!" the lead singers pumped their fists into the air, earning more cheers. Kurt felt sick. They were insane. That team was insane. Shane wasn't a Warbler but even he looked ill. They were ferociousand it wasn't even a stage performance. There was just no way that this team wouldn't actually make their Regionals and subsequently step into Nationals. Logan looked a bit concerned but he just shook his head. "Let's go. Come on." They were headed out of the crowd when they heard a voice. "Hey! Hey, Warblers!" Kurt's eyes widened and he turned. One of the lead singers, the boy with the brown hair who was Finn's height and just as built, was pushing his way towards them. He had a big smile. "Hey there, boysyou liked the show?" "Youknow who we are?" Kurt asked incredulously. "Who doesn't know you?" he answered with a grin. "We keep our tabs, man. Saw your Sectionals. You tied with the New Directions." He extended a hand. "I'm Tom, I'm the captain." Logan shook his hand. "Logan. This is Kurtand Shane." "Hey." Shane shook hands with him.

"So we be seeing you at Nationals, yeah?" grinned Tom. "I sure hope so. This was all preview-of-coming-attraction. We're going all out for Nationals. We're coming after you guys." "Sure" Logan nodded, almost irritated. "Then, we'll be going." "Don't be strangers!" Tom called to them as he grinned and ran back to his group. He seemed to wait until the Dalton boys subsequently left. And his teammates, the other leads, gathered around him. "S'that all about, Tom? Softening up the competition?" asked one of the other boys "Sort of, yeah," Tom smirked. "Please," said one girl, the one with the blonde highlights. "We can take them. They tied with the team that didn't make it past Regionals." "Come on, now," said the good-looking black boy who rapped the best among them. He had his arm around the girl with the long braids. "They might make it this year." "But they're so serious," grumbled another boy. "Yeah they are," grinned Tom. "Let's go get out of here, guys. Check up on them Warblers later." "You got that right." "So I'll leave you here," said Logan on the street, looking at Kurt and Shane. "Don't let the Energies bother you. We don't have to deal with them until Nationals." Kurt just nodded, mind racing. If the Warblers didn't get cracking, they won't make it past Vocal Adrenaline let alone those monsters in the park. What was New York feeding its students? He had to go talk to Harvey and Medel the moment he set foot back at Dalton. Logan put a hand on his shoulder. "See you, then? At the party?" Kurt shifted a little and nodded. "Yeah." Shane, behind the taller boy, looked up, frowning. He's coming to the He grit his teeth. This guy had already broken his brother's heart once, and now he was going to do it again. In front of him.

Like hell you're planning on kissing him in that party. He stepped carefully past Logan, taking his hand out of his pocket. He held the memory card of the song in the Radio City Hall. He had another copyso this one will go to good use. Glaring with barely any veils, he surreptitiously dropped the card into Logan's coat pocket. I hope it gives you a fucking heart attack. Shane turned and grabbed Kurt's hand. "Let's go, Kurtthey're looking for us."
Shane wasn't the calm brother. He wasn't composed, he acted at will. He was the one

who moved before thinking. He wasn't patient either, like Blaine. And Logan had just used up what little patience he had. So what if he was on medication and he was trying? Shane wasn't forgiving him. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. "See you!" Logan smiled, before he walked off. Kurt only glanced back as Shane pulled him along. He looked at Shane and saw the look on his face. "What's wrong with you?" he demanded. "Just stay away from him, all right?" Shane snapped. "You know what he did to Blaine!" Kurt pulled his hand away, but strode alongside him. "So you knew" "Knew? I had to listen to everything Blaine went through when Logan did all that stuff him!" Shane snapped. "He got jealous, he got angry, he got violent, he left him for another guy, and when that other guy realized what an asshat Logan was and started to hang out with Blaine for safety, he slammed them both! If I wasn't in Colorado, I would've " He snarled. "I just hate that guy." Kurt shook his head. He didn't even know what to think of Logan anymore. He was begging for a chance but the story keeps unraveling and telling him that it wasn't going to be good. That story between Blaine, Logan and the soloist was still not complete and it wasn't boding well. "Kurt! Shane!" They looked up and saw the other Windsors running towards them. "Geez, you freaked us out!" Wes almost yelled when he ran up to them. "I go call Blaine and I come back and Reed's freaking out because you're gone!" "Logan's in New York," Shane said without preamble. "What?" Blaine pushed past Wes and David and went to Shane. He had received his brother's SOS and thought there was something bad that happened, and in a way, something had. "Where did you see him?" "The park," Kurt said, shaking his head. "Ifollowed him. He looked bad. He said he was on a lot of medication." "He's coming to the party!" Shane interjected. "He is not!" Reed gasped. "He can't!" "He can," said Blaine, shaking his head. "He's a Legacy. He gets to go." He looked at Kurt. "Are you all right? You look a bit shaken." Kurt, for once, wasn't worried about Logan. He looked at the other Warblers. "I thinkfor Regionals and Nationalswe may be in a little bit of trouble."

Episode 16: 321 "Everything's okay? Seriously?" Logan laughed into the cellphone, looking out into the view beyond the glass. "Yeswow you're really turning into a mother hen, it's scaring me." "Hey, I'm just saying" Derek answered from where he was back in Ohio. "I heard the Brightmans were having a party. I figured you'd get worked up." "There's nothing to get worked up about" Logan said absently. He raised his hand to eye level. He was turning a memory card carefully in his fingers. "Everything's fine. I've been medicated. I'm so numb that I could be CIPA patient." "HuhWell, thenI guess I'll have to take your word for it." "Why are you in Westerville anyway? I figured when the Twins used the word "supermodels" in the broadcast, you'd be on the first plane out." "Dude, if the rowing team does not kick some ass next year, I'm going to have to make them row with their hands." "Whatever, Leonidas. It's still classified as torture to have anyone do anything school related on the holidays." "So says the guy who had the Warblers work all Spring Break last year." Logan smirked. "I have to go. Get ready for the party." "Whoawait. You're going? You didn't tell me you were going!" "I thought that was implied already." "Quote, Nah-I-don't-think-I'm-in-the-mood-to-get-sniped-at-all-night unquote." "I changed my mind. BesidesKurt's going to be there." The groan from the other end sounded like distilled exasperation. "Relax, mother. I've got it under control. Go plan the slaughter of the team through practice." "Bancroft is going to that party. He's keeping an eye on you, I'm warning you!" "Bring it on Justin's cool. Goodbye now, Derek." "Whatever." Logan hung up and pocketed the phone. He looked at the memory card with a smile almost affectionate. He tossed it into the air, the same way one would toss a coin. He caught it smoothly and walked off towards his closet, passing his upturned table, with the

broken coffee cup on the floor, the smashed laptop screen, and the pill container with its white contents spilling all over the carpeted floor.

I'm Kurt. I recently transferred to Dalton Academy. New Year's Eve. I got to sing at Radio City Music Hall, I got to shop at Bergdorf-Goodman, I got to attend an art Gala, I got to tour the city, and tonight, I attend the wildest school-tradition party in the Upper East Side. I feel like a star and I'm sure Rachel's ready to kill me when I get back to Lima. All I've got left to do is wait for the ball to drop. And me hoping that the New Year comes with a kiss.
The video stopped. All the Warblers in Blaine's room leaned back from the laptop, exhaling, not quite knowing what to say. "Wow, they are good," Blaine finally said. "I told you," Kurt muttered, texting Mercedes on his phone. "So on a scale of one to ten," Dwight began, mouth full of popcorn, "How screwed do you think the Warblers are?" "Come on" Wes rolled his eyes. "Maybe they were good. But that's their style, and we have ours. Maybe we just need to be a little less uptightbut everyone has their own approach." "Yeah" David crossed his arms. "Besidesthey're not who I'm worried about. It's New Directions and Vocal Adrenaline that we'll be coming up against on Sectionals. We should focus on them." "And you've seen Vocal Adrenaline" Reed fidgeted, picking on a stray thread in his jacket. "They're also really good." "But they're so heartless," Wes rolled his eyes. Kurt finally looked up, wondering why there was sufficiently less crazy in the room than there was supposed to be. "Where are the Tweedles?" Outside the room, everyone was hearing odd sounds from the rest of the condominium, involving a lot of hustle and bustle of decorators, and the occasional evil cackling of identical voices. "You don't want to know," Blaine shook his head. Dwight, who had looked out the door, exclaimed, "Holy crap, is that a ball swim?" As he

said this, there was the sound of wild riffs coming from what had to be a RockBand setup and the sound of someone testing a silly string can. Shane, who'd also come to see, gasped. "Chocolate waterfall!" "Get back into the room!" the twins yelled as what had to be jell-o slammed them both in the face. This was followed by an unceasing hailstorm of marshmallows. Kurt dropped his face into his hand. Whatever was going to happen tonight was going to be ridiculous as it was shaping up to be the biggest kiddie party on the street. The Tweedles had woken everyone early and ushered them into their rooms, commanding them not to actually come out for a while as they would be setting up the party. After dozens of decorators and delivery men arrived bearing all sorts of food and furnishing and what had to be more laser lights than Las Vegas had, they were glad to. As Shane wiped himself down, ducking the mallows, Dwight calmly turned to the room, jell-o dripping from his face. "David," he said in an unbelievably composed tone. "Might you hand me that thing next to you?" David turned to the bedside table. As was customary for every Windsor who particularly valued sanity, they kept a Nerf gun nearby in case of Tweedle Attack. Blaine's was sitting on the bedside table, along with a full round of ammunition. Sighing, David handed it to Dwight. "Thank you," Dwight said. And then he opened the door and charged into the fray, yelling across the house as he fired. "Bring it on, Tweedles! Say your prayers!" "This means war!" the Tweedles yelled from somewhere outside. David just shrugged, and his phone started to ring. He took one glance at the number and came to life. "I have to take this." He immediately hurried out the door. While the door opened, they saw a brief glimpse into Pandemonium as the "war" continued. "What's with David?" Kurt asked, frowning. "His girlfriend must've gotten out of surgery" Wes said, shaking his head. "He's crazy about her. They've been together for five years. He's been spending all his free time with her while she's in the hospital. He's only here now because she told him go live an actual life for a change." Kurt wanted to ask why she was in surgery, but felt that he'd pried enough into privacy after confronting Reed. So he simply said, "We should send him back to her. He should be there." "Yeah wellwe tried telling him it was all right," Wes looked worried, staring in the direction David went. He sat, fidgeting. "He hasn't really been himself after he heard she was in surgery I'm actually kind of worried about him." Blaine rolled his eyes and made the, "go on" gesture to him. Wes needed no second tellinghe fled the room with a worried expression. Kurt smiled to himself and glanced at Blaine, who just gave him a, "I don't know either" kind of look.

"Alice!" came Evan's yell from outside. "Dwight's got your magic cookies hostage! Save the cookies, damn it! Save the cookies!" "so help me, I'm going to crush each and every single one!" "No, you stupid Knightdon't do it, man!" Ethan yelled like he was dying. "Think of the others! Alice, help!" "Oh for the love of" Kurt pushed himself out of the chair. "I'm sorry, if I may, I just have to stuff all those cookies down their throats." "Please go right ahead," Blaine said helpfully, smiling. And Kurt just smirked at him, squeezed his handwhich he had been holding for a while nowand left. Shane turned to his brother and smirked. "You two are getting really cozy, aren't you?" "I have no idea what you're talking about," Blaine grumbled. "You were very cute onstage," Reed quipped with a grin. "Hm" Blaine just smiled to himself. "That was his idea." "Well at least we know he likes you," Shane said smugly, leaning back onto his chair. "Logan doesn't have a chance even if he's coming to the party." "That still worries me, Blaine" Reed remarked. The Windsor prefect looked contemplative. He shook his head a little. "Kurt said Logan was actually himself for a bit. He's been taking his medication. I suppose even if he does come along, he won't be doing anything. Be more like himself." "What is himself?" Shane asked. "Before or after he was messing with you, Blaine?" Blaine glanced at his brother. "What's the matter with you?" "I thought you were going to be okay," Shane mumbled. "Then I hear that he's back. I saw him during that big fallout with his dadhe's clearly still out of it. Even you don't trust him." "I don't," Blaine answered calmly. "I don't trust him either. But I trust Kurt. And I'm willing to at least avoid him tonight." Shane huffed and leaned back onto the chair. "Well, fine. I just hope he knows how to take a hint after all this time. If that video doesn't tell him that he's got no chance" "What video?" Blaine asked. Shane blinked and glanced up at him. "Thatvideo I took of you and Kurt singing onstage at Radio City Music Hall." He smirked a little. "I put a copy into his coat pocket when Kurt and I met him yesterday. If that doesn't tell him to back off"

Blaine's eyes widened fully as he leapt to his feet. "What?" Wes exploded from the door, David next to him, having heard what was just said. "You gave himShane, what is the matter with you, man?" he grabbed Shane by the front of his sweater. "That's not going to make him back off, that's going to make him furious!" Shane's smile was gone the moment Blaine got up. He turned white, staring at Wes. "What? But he" "He didn't need to see that!" David exploded. "Didn't you see how worked up he can get over things? And after he told Kurt that he loves him" "He said what?" Blaine demanded, grabbing at Wes. "Backstagebefore you performedLogan dropped Kurt the bomb," Wes quickly told him. David was nervously running his hand through his hair. "Kurt didn't get the chance to answer" "Was that why Kurt went after him in the Park? To answer him?" Blaine asked, turning white, mind racing. If Logan confessed and Kurt still behaved the way he did, did it mean that he "No!" Shane exclaimed, leaping up. "I was thereI heard them, Kurt didn't" "No no, you have done enough." David pushed Shane down onto the chair. "I bet Logan's freaking out right now. What went in your head, Shane?" Shane looked confused and flustered. "II was just" He looked at Blaine desperately. "I thought he wouldn't flip out if he was medicatedI was just trying to help!" "A fat lot that did," Wes snapped. "All right, enough!" Blaine said, now looking angry for the first time. "Just cut it out, we don't need this. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous!" He looked at Wes and David. "Logan is my problem. I'll deal with him if he tries anything. Closure's been too long in coming anyway and it's about time I told him off. What can he do anyway? Justleave Shane alone, he didn't know what he was doing." Shane buried his head in his hands, leaning over his knees. Blaine turned to his brother, looking as though he wanted to shake him, but as he gestured with his hands he just ended up putting them heavily onto his shoulders. Shane looked up, scared and white in the face. "BlaineI'm sorry! I justI wanted him to let you be happy!" "Just!" Blaine stopped and took a breath. He patted him heavily once. "Justdon't do this anymore, all right, Shane?" He sighed and got up. He pushed past Wes and David and out the door. The two took one last look at Shane, who was staring after his brother, and left as well. Shane watched them go and then leaned over on his knees again, cursing. Silence in the room. Outside, the muffled sound of mayhem continued.

Carefully, a form knelt in front of Shane, putting his hands on his clasped ones. "Shane" The other boy looked up to see Reed looking at him. Shane just ducked his head. " please don't look at me like that, Reed You don't have to stay here, you can go with them." "I don't want to," he said plainly. He patted his hands. "Calm down, all right?" "I can't" Shane whispered. "I'm alwaysI'm always screwing it up for him! BlaineBlaine always takes the bullet for me. He's always the responsible one." He blinked away the mist in his eyes. "You know that if I didn'tif I didn't get so careless about my first boyfriend, Blaine wouldn't have had to come out to dad to cover for me?" He leaned back onto the couch again, staring at the ceiling. "I watched him take the heat from the bullies that I couldn't help him withjust stood there and took it, everyone telling me my brother was a fagthey didn't know I was. I got mostly second-hand but Blaine snagged every foot in the aisle to send him tripping into his lunch tray" Shane shook his head. "And after he moved to Dalton, I had to watch while my brother just got brokenhearted. I tried to be there for him, but it's hard from another state. He would keep telling me that Logan was going to get better but as it turns out, he didn't. I thought they were okay, when he just stopped telling me things. All he told me was that the asshole got kicked out forstuff he did." He swallowed and added, "That's why when I came here, and then Blaine told me that they weren't together anymore and I asked why" Shane shook his head. "I just lost my mind. All that happened and I wasn't there. In a non-bullying school of all placeshow Logan gets away with this crap is beyond me. I justI just wanted to get back at him and make him leave Blaine alone. I just make things worse." A pause. "I shouldn't have come along," he added. Finally, Reed took a deep breath and sat next to him on the couch. He jogged his elbow to get his attention. "Maybe Blaine did what he did because he had to do it for himself too. Didn't you ever consider that?" He smiled a bit. "And maybe he didn't tell you because doesn't expect anything from you. Maybe he just wants you to be happy." Shane sighed. "I can't be the brother that just keeps taking." "If you want to do something for him, you have to let him deal with this," Reed said with finality. "Blaine told us once that he regrets lots of things. He let himself be chased away from the last school. He's fighting back here, because he likes where he is and where he wants to be. So if you really want to do something for him, you have to let him see this to the endmake up for what happened before." Shane glanced at him for a long moment, then shook his head. He pulled his hands away from Reed. "I shouldn't have come I don't help you either." "What?"

"You think I don't notice?" Shane smiled a little. "I know that the way I act around you, I make you awkward. I'm sorry. I justI can't help it." He stared at him a long moment, until it got odd and they both looked away. "But I guess if I have to learn, I have to start somewhere." Reed nodded slowly. "I'll be out by today, then." He checked his watch. "If I go now, I won't even have to be at the party. Leave you guys alone." The smaller boy looked up. Shane nodded to himself. "That's the best course, I think." He stood up, and stopped. "Oh." He sat back down. He pulled out something from his pocket and tossed it to Reed. "Super late Christmas gift. Better give it to you now. I wanted to give it to you at the gala, but I got distracted staring at your paintings." Reed smiled faintly and opened it. He let the wrapper fall to the floor as he unwrapped what looked like a large ring with something embedded in it. He raised it to his eyes. " what is this?" "Hold it to the light like this," Shane took his hands and brought the ring's glass to the sunlight at the window. In the floor in front of Reed, where the light shone through, was the projection of a Rembrandt, magnified through the glass in the ring. At his surprised expression, Shane smiled. "A master's work for a master painter." Reed stared at it, amazed. Shane smiled at him and released his hands. "Stupid present, but there you have it." He got up and headed to the door. Reed came to and looked up. "Shane!" "Yeah?" he said, glancing back, hand at the door. Reed stood still, hands clutching the ring, staring at him. Shane just smiled and turned to leave when Reed, finally blurted out, "Wait!" Shane stood at the door, a little confused. He looked back at the boy standing in the sunlight, curls lit up. It made him want to smile like an idiot so he just bit his lip and glanced away. Reed's heart was in pounding in his chest. "could youmaybe stay for the party?" That was a surprise. Reed hastily continued, "You started this Logan mess, right? Stay and finish it." "Is that such a good" "It's what Blaine would have done." Shane stared, then sighed. He smiled a little. "okay." Reed smiled nervously and nodded. "All right."

Shane nodded to him, smiling a little, and he left the room to go to his own. Reed looked down at the ring in his hands and, now alone, had a spazz attack, flailing to himself before flopping onto the bed with a thump. What the hell are you doing, Reed Van Kamp? "Kurt?" Kurt looked up when Blaine came into the kitchen. The countertenor had Ethan by the front of the shirt, holding a cookie bowl away from him, while the other twin was being held down by Dwight onto the floor. All of them looked at him, blinking. Blaine tried very hard to overlook the fact that there were cookies, flour, and eggs all over the kitchen, and tried not to mention to Kurt that his immaculate hair had a streak of that flour and that his cheek had cookie batter. He just smiled. "Can I talk to you outside for a minute?" They all looked at each other. Kurt took the cookies and released Evan, hugging the bowl protectively before going to Blaine. He was sure he heard Ethan whimper when he took the cookies with him but he ignored them. Blaine held the door open, but just when Kurt was about to step out, he stopped. He turned, tossed three cookies backa loud squabble ensuedand followed Blaine, offering the bowl. "Thanks," Blaine grinned, taking one. Kurt took one as well, and followed him out past the living room where plastic multicoloured balls were scattered everywhere. They sidestepped the ornamental neon light bridge over the chocolate-rum "pond" connected to the waterfall, and ducked past the sets of swings with rails topped by swirlypops in the hall. Kurt marveled at how immunized he was to all of this at this point. Blaine didn't say muchhe simply took his hand and led him to the elevator. When the chrome-plated doors closed, he let out his breath and released him. Kurt glanced at him. "What did you want to talk about?" For a moment, Blaine lightly drummed his fist onto the wall, looking contemplative. Then he said, "is it true thatLogan told you he loves you?" Kurt stopped eating his cookie. He swallowed and glanced up at him. Blaine stared back at him, only expectant, with no other decipherable emotion. "yes," Kurt finally answered. Blaine let out his breath, licking his dry lips and nodded somberly. "Backstage before I went on?" "Yeah. who told you?" "Wes and David." "Oh" Blaine seemed to deliberate for a moment. At that moment, the bell sounded, and the elevator opened to the ground floor. He nodded to Kurt to follow him. The two of them

walked outside, through the lobby, and into the street, where well-dressed people emerged out of cars and entered buildings with the same sophisticated air as they did. After a moment, Blaine said, "It'sprobably none of my business but I just" He finally just let it go and looked up. "did you tell him anything? In answer, I mean?" Kurt shook his head. "No. Not yet." He sighed. "I tried yesterday." He glanced at him. "And it is your business. He's got history with you. And not a good one. That's kind of what worries me." "I'm just saying that while I understand that some people will getattracted to you, he's just" "And I'm just saying that I have my own mind of the matter," Kurt said, arching his eyebrow delicately. "And that mind israther made up, as we speak." He glanced away. "Logan is just the way he is. AndI think he's trying. I've seen my share of people who are trying themselves to death, myself included. So he's" He let it trail off and shrugged. Blaine stared at him, a little surprised, and he lowered his gaze. "right." He nodded a little. "Of course you would. You're kind of headstrong. You have every right to make up your own mind." "Right" Kurt nodded slowly. He glanced at him. "So" "No, I was justwondering," Blaine waved it away absently, feeling rather crushed. Commiserating in his head had seldom been this bad. "Not a big deal." "Blaine, anyone ever tell you that your face is so expressive that you could retell Don Quixote with your facial expressions?" Kurt raised an eyebrow. "What?" Kurt glowered at him. "It's a big deal." He flailed at him. "Your face tells me so." He walked up to him. "Look, do you want me to hate him that much?" Blaine stared at him, surprised. "No, I meannot hate, just" "They are not singing off the same page out there, are they?" Evan muttered from where they were peeking at the lobby doors, chewing on cookies. Ethan sadly shook his head, taking a piece from the cookie his brother held. "This is sad, this is just" David shook his head. "What exactly is the conversation here?" Dwight asked, blinking. "What Kurt is thinking is Why does Blaine want me to hate Logan all that badly just because he's his ex even though he's trying to change nowdoes he want to get back with him or something?" Evan said in monotone. "And what Blaine is thinking is He likes him and he was going to confess and damn it I was an idiot for thinking I was really going to be able to get Kurt to fall in love with me,"

Ethan added in the same tone. "Or something like that," they both finished. Wes swallowed his cookie, looking disgusted. "Wow, these two need to get hit with cinderblocks." "Lots of cinderblocks," the twins agreed. "Where are Reed and Shane?" asked David. "Shane's in his room, getting ready to book town. Reed's in his room mumbling entire monologues incoherently to himself while buried under a pillow." Dwight blinked. "I think he's possessed. I tried to sprinkle holy water on him, but he just threw a pillow at me and told me to go away. I left a ring of rock salt around his bed just in case, so he doesn't escape." "You are so lucky we like you, dude" Wes sighed. "Rock salt never hurt anyone innocent!" Dwight shot back. "Would you be quiet now, I'm trying to eavesdrop here," snapped David. "But they're slowly eating all the cookies as they talk," Wes whined to him. At some point, conversation waned and the two were left with an awkward pause that just left both wondering what on earth had gotten into the other's head. Kurt, who was getting rather annoyed, finally said, "Why are we arguing about that guy so suddenly?" Blaine stared at him. "I don't know, it seems pretty relevant right now considering you and I are" "are?" Kurt prompted expectantly. "He's" Blaine was sure Kurt couldn't actually be this off from the topic. "he's kind of between us both, isn't he?" All the other Dalton boys now gestured with their hands expectantly, waiting for their Alice to make the connection. Kurt just gave Blaine a rather narrow-eyed look of disbelief. "He is?" Kurt blinked. What theyou really consider him as between us? Because I don't. "How does that happen? The way I see him is completely different from the way I see you." Though the Windsor boys were all but jumping as it came that close to Kurt actually confessing right then and there, the prefect just stared. "So you do just like him, then? In spite of everything?" I can't let him do this, I thought we really had something already! "I don't think he's a saint, but I think he needs to be given room to fix his mess without the rest of us hammering down at him. Is it wrong that I want to give him a chance?"

"This is painful, this is officially painful and I'm going to lock them in the pantry," Wes was halfway into the revolving door when the others grabbed him back. "That's fine, then," Blaine said, looking at Kurt's expression and feeling anxious. "I'm all for him not flipping out half the time either. ButI really thought that you" He stopped.

I really thought that you would pick me.

He let out a long sigh and then put a hand on Kurt's shoulder. He smiled a bit as he said, "It's nothing. Whatever you decide, it's it's really your choice to make. And I have to be happy about that." Kurt gave him a confused look. "What?" "About Logan," Blaine said. "Ifthat's what you really want thenI'm just sorry I got in the way." He turned away and headed back indoors. "Blaine!" Kurt followed him, now more confused than ever. "You're not in the way!" He grabbed his hand, holding tight. "Whether he's there or not makes no difference!" Blaine stopped, and glanced back to him. He seemed to consider for a moment, then smiled a little bit. "it does to me." But he held the hand tighter when he saw Kurt's anxious expression. "Hey. Don't look at me like that." He smiled a bit more and went closer to him. "It's all right." "Can we not fight before New Year?" Kurt asked, looking a little irritated, wanting to throw him off even as his heart went pounding away. His face didn't show it, but he was sure his hands didthey clutched at Blaine's with the tremor that could have been seen as cold. "This is ridiculous. I made it to the New Year because of your helpI'd be in a dumpster in McKinley otherwise." "I suppose" Blaine smiled faintly, still holding his hands, wondering why they were so cold when they, when Kurt was really getting worked up, were usually warm. "Yeah" Kurt rolled his eyes. "For all we know, he might not even show up anyway."

Oh Blaine only smiled at Kurt. I really think he'll show. After he sees thathe'll show. And thengame over.
"I am this close to throwing an actual cinderblock at them," Wes muttered from the doors. "And it won't take me long to find one." "They're holding hands, it's a good sign," David pointed out. "Yeah, but they've been holding hands since they first met" Dwight grimaced, feeling more like the reluctant "fairy godparent" than anyone else. He wondered sometimes why he let himself dragged into these things. "Some progress would be nice." "Didn't he kiss him under the mistletoe, though?" Evan supplied.

At that, the others looked down at him, staring in shock. "When was this?" "Before winter break, at school, Blaine's room, doorway," grinned Ethan, sighing like a mother. "It was the cutest, sweetest, snuggly-wugglyest grossness you ever saw in Windsor." "We needed to see a dentist after," Evan added with a smug smile. "It was that sweet." The others weren't sure on whether to look happy or completely grossed out, so Wes settled for a frown and said, "Why can't we go back to that?" He flailed to the two outside. "Before Logan puts the moves on?" "That's up to them," Evan said. "Unfortunately." "Well we'll never get anywhere," David looked contemplative. He suddenly looked up. "Crap. They're coming inside. Quick! Elevator!" The foursome immediately ran to the sole elevator that led to the condominium, running around the bend just as Blaine and Kurt re-entered the building. The dour of them nearly crashed into each other to swipe their thumbs at the padthe twins had put in all their fingerprints so they could come and go as they pleasebefore the elevator doors hissed open and they ran in. The door hissed shut just as Kurt and Blaine came around to the elevator. Kurt had yet to release Blaine's hand, and he decided that while he had this moment, he had to ask. "Blaine. Aboutthat time you kissed me under the mistletoe." The other boy stopped and turned to him. For a moment Blaine looked awkward, but then he said, "What about it?" Kurt walked up to him directly, throwing caution to the wind. "Did you kiss me because I was under some mistletoe or" He swallowed and trained his eyes directly into his. Blaine took all of two seconds to prepare a response. He pulled the hand he held, bring Kurt just one bit closer. When he looked at Kurt's lips, he didn't even try to hide it anymore. He held him there carefully, waiting for any sign of him pulling away, but received none. After a full seven seconds, Kurt turned red and lowered his gaze. That allowed Blaine to think a little more clearly. But he smiled slightly and released him. " does that answer your question?" he asked gently. "Very much, yes" Kurt breathed automatically, turning his eyes to the wall and feeling relieved as sanity returned. Thatwas so bad for the heart right there. Blaine just smiled to himself. And because Kurt had been so forward himself, he decided to reciprocate, as the elevator slowly returned and announced its presence. He glanced to Kurt and said, "maybe it would be safer if you stood by me during that party." Kurt raised his eyebrows at this. Blaine just shrugged lightly with a smile and added, "You don't want to be in the middle of a crowd of strangers when the lights go out." The elevator doors opened and the two walked inside as Kurt shrugged as well, hiding a

smile in the corner of his lips. "sounds all right." What followed was the most unbelievably tense elevator ride upwards to the condo, but for some silly reason, the both of them were smiling. The force of the music that came from the condominium was at a level when each bass pulse felt like a wall slamming into the skin. The prismatic lights in the room could downright blind a body, and this was after the lasers that leapt from wall to wall, traversing the expanse of the bodies in the massive condominium, each and every one having been forewarned to wear their best "childlike" outfit to fit the theme. As a result, the Playground-Willy-Wonka-factory madness that the Twins had created was crammed wall-to-wall with gorgeous "kids". As Warblers and Dalton boys descended into the condominium by way of a special invitationflashing their house badges at the bouncers by the elevatorso did the girls who were also invited, or were their dates. Kurt had never seen so many beautiful girls in his life. Half of them were over five feet seven inches at least, and they were dressed up in knee socks, lacy dresses in petticoats, curly pigtails, or even shirts, shorts and suspendersall of them a fleet of endless legs. The Dalton boysafter a semester of a predominantly testosterone environmentwere extremely happy at the surroundings. "Oh thank the stars" Wes sighed as he sank into one of the gargantuan, microbeadfilled pillow chairs that was made to look like a giant jellybean. He leaned over, taking a champagne-glassful of the spiked chocolate mixture that flowed in a river through the room. "After Tabitha ran off with Derek I was positively deprived." "You are currently surrounded by a hundred gorgeous girlsand you're thinking of the Banshees' personification, Tabitha," David nodded slowly as though trying to make sense of it. "Okay" "And half the time, you're messing with Blaine and Kurt" smirked Evan, who was drinking a bright green cocktail that turned red at the bottom, his immaculate clothes already mussed with the dancing on the floor. Ethan grinned, drinking the same type of cocktail as he said, "So yeah, basically, all you've got are us guys." "I'm too invested with those two at this point," Wes complained. "If they'd only make an effort" "Their problem is that they like each other way too much," Reed said, shaking his head as he sipped his apple juiceit was the only thing he trusted himself to be drinking in this party. "They're most afraid of going too far and then ruining things. They don't think they can afford to ruin what they have and take a chance." "Well it's a new year" sighed Evan, looking to the TV screen, watching Times Square continue to go crazy. The clock was ticking. "At least, it will be in an hour," Ethan nodded. "Already?" Reed asked, startled.

The music started getting even louder. Candy confetti was falling down from the ceiling as the cannons blasted with each five-minute mark. The two men manning the DJ booth looked disturbingly like the pair from Daft Punk. The massive widescreen that ran down one side of the hall flickered and changed displays. An air raid siren carried through the room, making everyone look up as a computerized voice said, "One hour until the New Year." The place exploded into excited cheering and chatter. The music swelled, filling the room with pop music. Some of the guests started going to for the malted milk ball-shooting guns (the amount of candy arsenal in the room was appalling) and pelting each other. It was at this point that after one particularly excellent volley from the guns and a few snippets of drunken singing from some Warblers, the elevator doors hissed open and admitted Logan Wright into the party. With the crowd so thick, the music so loud, that the Windsors didn't notice at once, and they didn't hear the other Dalton boys greeting him as he came in. The lights flashed through the condominium and Logan walked in, smirking to himself as he looked around. Some of the girls cast appreciative looks at him as he came in, but though he smiled at them, he was not interested. His head hadn't been this clear in days. He knew what he wanted. Logan spotted Blainehe was with his brother, talking to him by one of the doorways that led to other rooms. He came close enough to hear what they were saying, but they were so wrapped up that they didn't notice him. "I saw your bags" Blaine said, loudly, to be heard over the music. "Why did you start packing?" "I'm leaving right after the party!" Shane said loudly back. He smiled faintly at his brother. "I've done enough damage here. Going to go back to Colorado early and make more problems there instead." Blaine looked concerned and confused. "Shane, if it's about the video" "Nono" Shane held a hand out to him. He clearly had some drinks in him, but not enough to be lost or even considered too drunk. "I'm going. That's it. I'm only here becausewell because an angel asked me to." He grinned. Logan nodded to himself. So his hunch was rightit was Shane who slipped him the video of Blaine and Kurt singing together. Blaine said, "Look, you don't have to gowe might have overreacted" "Blaine, seriously," said Shane, shaking his head, alcohol releasing some inhibitions. "I can't keep doing this to you, or to Reed I'm going to go home and be good. Be good and stop being such a freaking mess." The thought of his brother returning days early to his charade for his father wasn't a pleasant thought to Blaine. "Look, you made one mistake" "One?" Shane started laughing like a maniac, scooping up one of the cocktails as a

waiter passed. Blaine took the cocktail out of his hands, set it down on a nearby surface and pulled his brother off to presumably a safer room to talk. Logan watched him go. He moved forward and picked up the cocktail the brothers had left behind, and then proceeded to find his target. He found his quarry talking with the Hanover prefect, dressed in that same interesting mannera blue turtleneck and what appears to be a gigantic, red, fur-lined hoodie that was so large that it had to be bunched all up around his shoulders, making him look like the kind of doll that girls loved dressing up. Kurt was laughing at something Justin was sayingin relation to how the Stuart parade float once burned and smoldered for days on end as a casualty of war between Windsor and Stuart's notorious rivalryand he looked up as Logan arrived with a smile. "Hey!" Kurt looked amused. "Hey! You'renot in dress code?" Logan wore one of the impeccable gray ensembles that owned the Parisian runways this season, and just grinned. "Sure I am!" "Oh? As what? A political son?" Logan pretended to be wounded. "Ouch" he smirked. "No, actually, it should be obvious that I'm the big bad wolf. All gray and all that." He looked at the red jacket on Kurt and grinned. "Little Red Riding hood?" "Just because you're taller than me" Kurt rolled his eyes. "Hey Justin!" Logan smiled, shaking hands with the other prefect. Justin smiled and raised his glass to him in response. "You look well," Justin said. "Better than you did before!" "I kind of do, don't I?" Logan smiled. "I feel great!" He looked down at Kurt and smiled at him. "Extremely!" Kurt was a little surprised. "Well you do look better!" he voice broke just slightly as he tried to talk loudly over the music. Both Justin and Logan laughed. Kurt turned red and shoved at Justin. "Here," Logan said, handing him the cocktail with a smile. "Wet your throat. If you lose that voice, the Warblers will get in trouble." Kurt eyed the cocktail worriedly. "Uhno, pass." He shook his head. "I have an extremely bad history with alcohol." "Oh?" Logan blinked, intrigued. "Blaine!" yelled Reed, running to him. Behind him, the lights flashed. Countdown came to thirty minutes. He slipped on some of the plastic balls on the ground and flopped onto the carpet. One of the Warblers sitting nearby said, "Reed, dude, are you okay?"

"Fine" he brushed himself off. Blaine reached him, with Shane right behind him, and said, "Whoa, easy Reed. You didn't drink anything, did you?" "No," Reed answered, shaking his head and his brushing insanely expensive pants off. But he looked at him with wide eyes. "I heard one of the Stuart boys say that Logan's in here already." "What?" Blaine looked around quickly. He couldn't recognize anyone well through the flashing lights, music and all the bodies in the room. The party was going crazy and more people were coming inand Blaine could see that some of them weren't Dalton anymore. He had no idea how they got in, but the Twins didn't do something soon, there was going to be some serious damage. He pushed through the crowd immediately, looking for Kurt. He had thought that as Logan hadn't shown up for two hours since the party started, he may have changed his mind. Shane took Reed by the hand. "Come on, let's go tell the Twins that their party's going overboard." In his free hand, Shane held his hand-carry for the plane. Reed spotted it easily as he used it to part the crowd. "You're leaving already?" he asked. Shane only nodded. "Yeah. After this, I'm gone. But first I've got to get to the Twins, then I'll back Blaine up." He glanced back at him. "Then gone." He grinned. "are you drunk?" Reed asked suspiciously. "No, actuallyI had a few, but I'm good at holding my liquorthat's why I get the happy job of driving everyone home all the time. And believe me, you will lose count of how much puking can be done in a car." Reed looked grossed outand he slipped on one of the malted milk balls on the ground. Shane felt the tug of him falling and immediately reacted, turning pulling him up and spinning him right up against and catching his free hand, and they ended up looking as though they came out of a Fred Astaire movie. Reed stared up at him. "whoa." Shane looked back at him, a little stunned. "Oh, II take up dance in my spare time." He shrugged quickly. Seeing that Reed was right up against him, he released him quickly. "Right. Okay. Sorry. The Twins?" "Right, the Twins," Reed nodded hastily and the two headed off. "Fifteen minutes to the New Year." The room exploded into cheers and explosions of conversation, people moving around, running to each other, preparing to face the new year. The feed on the widescreen revealed the throng in Times Square, watching the ball drop. Blaine turned and found himself face to face with Logan. "Hello, Blaine!" said the taller boy, smiling a little. "Interesting party, even though it's getting out of hand." Around him,

people continued to dance and party happily in the massive playground the Twins had built. It was just the two of them now, staring. "So you're here too now?" Blaine looked back up at him. As a serious conversation, it was awkward as they had to talk loudly to be heard. They screamed over the din. "I think you know why I'm here," Logan answered. He seemed unbelievably selfpossessed. Or was it simply self-assurance? "Where's Kurt?" Blaine asked coldly. "He's with Justin, I haven't done anything to him," Logan said easily. "I haven't even given him any alcohol. Relax!" "Think you'll understand when I say, no, I think I'll keep my guard up," Blaine replied giving him an incredulous look. "That's the only reason you're so focused right now. And Shane told me what he did." "Ah" Logan nodded, smiling. "I figured it was Shane who'd drop me a message that big. It was too ballsy a move for anyone in Windsor to do, actually!" He was definitely back to his old self. That calm self-assurance was Logan without medication. It was fine as long as he stayed calm. It was only when he was angry that things got dangerous. Blaine had the advantage of experience as he treaded through thin ice. "So now what are you going to do?" Blaine calmly gazed up at him. "You can't make him do anything. Even I can't. It's his life and he gets to choose." "Well that's why I'm here," Logan sighed, looking around. "I came here as myself! Not as a drugged down version, not as a crazed wackjob! Just me! It has to be a fair game or nothing at all!" "You see that's your problem," Blaine shook his head, moving up to him so he could be heard even over the noise. "You think of this as a game! You've always thought this is some kind of game! You did it to me and to" He shook his head. "This isn't one, Logan. Do you even genuinely care about him? Because if you're just doing this to beat me" Logan closed his eyes, shook his head and started to laugh. "Why are we talking about this, in the middle of a crowded room, screaming?" "Because then we can yell at each other all we want!" Blaine answered. "Then if I'm going to scream it at you, I damn shouldI'm not doing this to beat you! You both are going to be stuck with me! Even if he picks you over me, I'm not going to give this a rest!" "Good!" Blaine retorted. "Because then I'll maybe consider you a changed man. He's trying to get me to believe it, but until I see it, I don't think you should be near!" "We'll see about that." Logan suddenly fled.

Blaine turned and ran the opposite direction. He had to find Kurt before the lights went out. Not to kiss him, or to do anythingbut just to make sure that whatever anyone did that night, including himself, it was Kurt who makes the decision. No one else. "Five minutes to the New Year" "There!" yelled Wes, pointing to Blaine, who pushed through the crowd to them. "Blaine! Over here, man! Come on! Where the hell have you been?" "Where's Kurt?" Blaine asked breathlessly. "We haven't seen him," said Reed, looking anxious. "We saw Justin and he said he was with him, and then he left to go find you!" "Where's Logan?" David asked loudly. "He's hereI saw him and he's still around here somewhere!" Blaine looked around. "I have to find Kurt. It's almost that time." "You really want to kiss him for New Years, don't you, man?" Dwight stared at him. Blaine shook his head. "No. I have to make sure he doesn't get forced into one." The Twins suddenly looked up. "We better move!" "Why?" asked Reed. "Because we've set the lights to flicker like crazy at the three minute mark before complete darkness! If we're going to find Alice, we better find him now or we won't find him at all!" Logan stood in the middle of the gyrating bodies that danced to the music. The lights were beginning a pre-emptive flicker, slow that would gradually speed up. He looked quickly around for any sign of Kurt. And then he spotted a bright flash of red in an oversized hoodie. He smile and raised his voice as he moved through the crowd. Kurt looked up as the slim, gray body stood in front of him. In the flashing of the lights, the clothes looked like metal. Like the armor on a knight. Against his great heighthe had to be at least as tall as FinnKurt looked up to meet a pair of intense green eyes that he recognized from the very first time in the choir room. Logan leaned close to him and murmured, "Red isn't your color. You look like a painted rose." Kurt ducked from such close proximity but said, "Well I think it's kind of nice." "Blue is more your color," said Logan, smiling.

Kurt considered a little. "blue is actually my favorite color. But red is festive and so here it is." Feeling a bit uncomfortable about that stare, Kurt finally said, "Youyou look a little more like your old self, you know?" "Is that good or bad?" Logan asked, blinking almost innocuously. Kurt looked up at him, wondering. "Ihonestly don't know." "Wellmaybe I'm finally making some progress," Logan smiled. "And you knowI can honestly say it's because of you." "What?" Kurt almost laughed. He shook his head. "No, I think for once, you can have whatever credit you're giving me." "Seriously," Logan smiled. "do you remember what I told you backstage?" Kurt hugged his arms, feeling awkward. He swallowed. "Can't forget. first time a guy ever A guy ever told me he was in love with me." He gestured anxiously. "Can we not talk about this here? In the middle of the crowd?" "Crowd's best place to talk" Logan stepped closer to him. "No one listens." At that moment, the lights began to flicker. "Oh no" the twins looked up as the lights flickered to a palpitating pace. "Three minutes to the New Year." The screaming reached a fever pitch. Times Square was going ballistic in the screens everywhere. The lights danced, changing color with each beat of light and darkness. "Kurt!" Blaine cried over the noise. "Kurt!" The Twins pushed through the crowds, determined to get to the control board at the DJ's station but there was simply no way through with all the pushing bodies. They had to turn on all the lights while they could. "Evan!" Ethan yelled. "Yeah?" his twin cried as they pushed. "I think this party got a little out of hand!" "Ditto!" The Windsors were pushed apart as they ran in different directions, looking for their friends. David stood, torn between what he had to do and what he needed to do. He had a phone in his hand and he had to call Katherine for the New Year, but his friends A hand landed on his shoulder. It was Wes. Wes could find him anywhere. In the

flickering light, his friend nodded. "It's okay, man. Do what you got to do. We've got this." And he ran off, hopefully to avert crisis. David swallowed, nodding to himself, and he fled to find an alcove, dialing Katherine's number as he did. Dwight came tearing past Justin, who they'd roped into helping. "I lost Reed!" "What?" "I was hanging onto him like a minute ago! I lost him!" Justin scanned the flickering hysteria. It was impossible. With the lights, the crowd, the colorthere was no way that anyone would find Reed with his size. He would be on the ground by now, knowing him, making it all the more dangerous. He pushed Dwight. "Gojust go!" He cursed mentally. What the hell, Logan. What are youyou show up once and Windsor goes crazy! "Two minutes to the New Year." There was a second wave of cheering. The foam started spraying into the room. Whatever the Twins had planned, no matter how the night went, they were definitely going to get into huge amounts of trouble for this party. Justin was rightReed was on the ground at the moment. He got knocked back when the cheering began afresh. There were only two minutes of the year left. Reed got kicked in the shins by someone unseen. He choked back a cry and struggled to his feet, trying to get his bearings. A sob escaped himhe felt lost. "Reed!" a strong arm grabbed him through the dark and pulled him against a body, tight. "It's okay! I got you, I'm here. You're okay." Reed was confused for a minute. "Shane?" He shakily held onto him. Kurt pulled away, looking around at all the flashing lights. "II have to find the others already!" Logan grabbed his hand and held it tightly. "It's okayI'm right here! Don't worry." "Kurt!" The countertenor looked up quickly. "I think I heard Blaine." "Did you?" Logan looked around. Blaine ran into Justin as he crossed the floor again. "Have you seen either of them?" he asked as soon as he recognized his friend. "No," Justin shook his head, looking around. "You'd think a guy as tall as Logan would" he stopped. "is that them?" He pointed to the direction near the windows.

"One minute to the New Year." The screaming reached a fever pitch. Times Square was cheering. The ball made its way down progressively. Kurt peeled his hands away from Logan. "Logan, Blaine's looking for me." "Stop thinking about Blaine for five seconds!" Logan finally burst out, holding tightly onto his hand. "I want to be with you for one minute without having to listen to you talk about him!" "Calm down, Logan!" Kurt snapped. "I thought you were okay nowwhy are you getting so angry?" Logan swallowed and answered, "I'm not medicated." "What?" Kurt stared. "Why?" "Kurt!" Blaine called again. "Thirty seconds to the New Year" "I didn't take them," Logan shook his head. "I wanted to be able to tell this to you again so you know I mean it when I say it!" He held his hands tightly. "I tried, I really really tried but I feel when I'm with you. I thought it would be okay if I just tried, but it's not worth it." Kurt stared at him, speechless as Logan continued, "When I'm numb I just don't feel happy or sad, even when you're there. You said it yourselfI didn't look like myself. This is me, Kurtthis is who I really am. And I'm sorry that I'm a terrible person when I'm not medicated, but the truth is" "Twenty seconds to the New Year" "but the truth is this is the me that's horribly, ridiculously in love with you and I just can't do anything about it!" Logan clasped his hands. Blaine reached them, hearing Logan's words, and he stopped immediately, staring. Kurt stared at Logan without confusion or hesitation. He only lowered his eyes and shook his head. "I know who you are. I know what you're like with and without medication." "Tennineeight" "The truth isI want you to get better. You can be so freaking better than this! With or without medication! Whatever it takes!" Logan shrugged, shaking his head. "You don't have to be alone." Kurt stressed.

"I'm not." Logan smiled a little. "I'm with you." He leaned forward just as Wes came skidding next to Blaine. Blaine kept him back. "Sevensixfive" Logan stopped, an inch from Kurt's lips. Kurt's hand was pressed to his chest, keeping him at bay. Kurt stared steadily at him, heart hammering in his chest. "I can't." "Why?" "I love Blaine." "Threetwoone! Happy New Year!" Times Square erupted into a volley of deafening fireworks and brilliant lights. The condominium burst into cheering and screams of Happy New Year wishes. And all lights in the Brightman condominium died. Bodies pressed against one another, grabbing and clutching for New Years kisses amidst happy squealing. In the chaos, Reed felt Shane hold him tightly against him. He felt scared at first, then just puzzled. "Shane?" "It's okay" Shane whispered quietly in his ear in the darkness. "I've got you. I'll keep you here until the lights come back on." Shane kept his hands around his waist, nowhere else. He simply remained there, keeping Reed from being jostled around, protecting him from being grabbed by the bodies in the room. Reed blinked in the darkness and clutched at him. In the darkness of the foyer, it only by the lights of the buildings and the fireworks outside, David leaned against the wall, smiling gently. "Happy New Year, Katherine." A gentle voice on the other end, the respirator obstructing her voice slightly, answered, "Happy New Year, David. I miss you." "I told you I could spend New" "No, David." Her voice sounded as though she were smiling. "I just miss you. Come back when you can. I'll be waiting." David smiled. "All right." Blaine stared at Kurt, the expression of amazement in his face unseen in the darkness. His eyes remained fastened on the spot where he last saw Kurt. Logan released him slowly. He murmured in the dark, "I know you do. it was terribly obvious."

"I'm" "You'll have plenty of time to be sorry later, when I get better at this and get you to change your mind," Logan said, an effort to restrain himself more than evident in his voice. His fists were clenched in the darkness. "In the meantime" His shaking hand reached out in the dimness and gave Kurt a slight push, sending the countertenor falling into another body. All the lights in the Brightman condominium returnedall of them simultaneouslyin a powerful hum of electricity. Confetti exploded into the air, golden and falling down over them. The crowd erupted into the cheering as a golden blizzard set down Kurt looked up at Blaine, the one who had caught his arms. Blaine looked at him with a smile, and Kurt turned red at the sight of him. "Happy New Year, Kurt," Blaine murmured. He smiled. "Happy New Year, Blaine." From the DJ's booth, the Tweedles were holding the switch that turned on all the lights, having just jammed it to position. They looked relieved as they looked at each other. Everything else vanished from Kurt's mind as he looked up to Blaine. "Youdidn't happen to hear any of that, did you?" "I actually did." He was holding tightly onto him, and the prefect leaned close amidst the deafening fireworks and answered, "and I've loved you since I first saw you." Kurt smiled, a faint flush creeping up his face as he remained close. He nodded, twining their hands together as Blaine kept him close. The fireworks went off in deafening bang, punctuating their words. "Finally!" Wes all but flopped onto the carpet in relief. David walked back into the party, pocketing his phone and looking relieved and happy. The Twins leaned against each other, smiling. Fireworks erupted outside, in all directions, screaming into the air and exploding into shards of light. Shane looked up at all the lights and sighed in relief. Reed, crushed against him, took a breath as Shane let go. "Okay. The sea of hormones has faded off." Shane smiled. "Go on." "Okay" shakily, Reed brushed himself off and glanced around. "We have to find the others." "Yeah, let's go find everyone," Shane said, smiling up at him. "Happy New Year, Reed." Reed smiled at him and nodded. "Happy New Year, Shane." He looked around and then saw a familiar blond head making his way to the elevator. It was Logan. "Where's he going?" Dwight was about to ask that same question as he reached Logan, who had just stepped into the elevator. "Where's Kurt?" he demanded, holding his holy water sprayer.

Logan simply gestured to the party with a smile. Dwight blinked, glanced back, then turned back at him and frowned. "What's the matter with you?" To which the prefect simply shrugged and said, "It's a New Year, Dwight. Fun's just beginning. He's the Hare to my Tortoise, but the race is still going to be a while." "Hare?" Dwight blinked, confused. "Wait, wasn't Blaine the Rabbit?" Logan just grinned. The elevator doors hissed shut. Logan glanced to the mirrored walls and smiled to himself. He'd never felt more like himself in a long time. Sure, he didn't get the kissand Kurt admitted that he was in love with Blaine But after days of meds, he couldn't remember a time when he looked forward to making plans this much.

So this is what it feels like to be comfortable in your own skin

His phone rang at the lobby. It was Derek. "Hey! Happy New Year, man! How'd it go? Did you get Windsor's "Alice" yet?" "Happy New Year to you too, mother. No not yet," Logan smirked. He sighed happily. "But you know me, I like a challenge when it interests me. I've done this once before. And you know what they sayit's easier to catch what's already tied down." "What?" Derek sounded baffled. He stepped out into the street, where the car was waiting. He smiled and glanced up at the party. "I can't wait to get back to Dalton." The party was sufficiently insane enough that by the time police got to the area and hour or so later to clear most of the mob out"What underage drinking? It's all chocolate and candy in here, officer."even the Tweedles were looking a little sheepish. The condominium was nearly totaledthere was debris everywhere and it barely even looked anything like its previous grandeur. It was only after it was very late into the nightor very early into the morning of the new yearthat silence returned to the Brightman condominium. It was now a vast ruin. "Wow" Wes said, looking around at the mess. Only the Windsor conspirators and a whole lot of Warblers remained inside the area, examining the damage. He looked at the Tweedles. "Your parents are going to kill you." "Happens once in a while," Evan agreed, smiling. "Truedoesn't last very long," Ethan shrugged. "I didn't even get to kiss anyone!" Wes whined. "And those Victoria's Secret models never showed up!" He glared at them. "It's not fair!"

"It's just a New Year's kiss, Wes," David rolled his eyes. "Overrated." "You have Katherineof course you think it's overrated!" "Fine, come here." He grabbed his friend by the sleeve and kissed the top of his head. "There! Happy New Year, Wes!" The Warblers burst into hysterical laughter as Wes gaped at him. The Twins seemed to find this particularly ridiculous and just cracked up, falling off the jellybean chairs. They might have had a few drinks as well, and this may be the reason for their heightened madness. "Where are Blaine and Kurt?" Reed asked, looking around and finding no sign of the two. "They went out," grinned Evan. "I think they went up on the roof to watch the sunrise." "What about Logan?" "He left," Dwight snorted, eating one of the swirly pops as he patted his pockets for his phone. "Said something about the tortoise and the hare" "Not the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon?" Ethan asked with a grin. "Pretty sure he said hare," Dwight rolled his eyes. "Huh" Justin looked contemplative, sitting on one of the tables while ripping open a pixie stick. "Well he's a tough nut to crack, that one." "I really thought he was going to come and kill Blaine or something," Shane shuddered, shaking his head. "Looks like he just really wants a fair shot at Kurt." "It hasn't been fair since Blaine sang Teenage Dream," Wes smiled. "Yeah, well it's not over yet," Dwight shot back. "When we get back to school, it's back to the old routine. New Year or not, I'm going to line my damn door in salt and you psychos can do whatever it is you want." "You're one of us psychos, Dwight," David remarked. "I assure you, compared to you people, I'm perfectly sane." "I cannot wait for the day we see your psychiatric report." On the cold, slate-gray rooftop, Kurt sat leaning against Blaine, asleep. Blaine, also half so, had his arm around him with some difficulty owing to Kurt's giant jacket. Their hands remained together, close proximity keeping them both warm. The sky had begun to change color. As the first tinges of orange began to paint the sky, much the same way as Reed's paintings had done, Blaine heard Kurt murmur and roused himself from half slumber.

"didn't get a New Year's kiss after all" Kurt murmured, half asleep. Blaine smiled and carefully nudged him with his shoulder, lifting his chin a little. "Hey." The other boy blearily opened his eyes a fraction, "Hm?" Blaine smiled at his drowsy expression. "Nothing." He looked back into the view. The rising sun was going to get shattered by all the skyscrapers, but in the morning of the New Year, the city that never slept could've almost passed for peaceful. "You know" he said, "it's technically still the New Year." He glanced down at the head on his shoulder. Kurt blinked slowly, the haze in his eyes still there, but he smiled a little as he raised his head, leaning their foreheads together. "technically speaking, yes." Blaine was looking at his lips the same way he had done before. They were so close that they had the same breath and their eyelashes would have met. Kurt glanced at him through his veiling ones and murmured, "And so" "technically" Blaine agreed, "this will count, wouldn't it?" He pressed his lips full against his. They all lied when they talked about fireworks and kissing. A hundred thousand fireworks must've been going off all around outside when New Years had hit, but it was nothing like kissing Blaine properly for the first time at all. It was all touch, and breath, and warmth, and scent, and clutching hands that shook with restraint, with every thought evaporating like the mist when the first few New Year sunbeams pierced through the buildings. Blaine released him just enough so that their faces remained close. He stared into Kurt's eyes with his heart pounding. Kurt looked back at him, without fear in his blue eyes. Their lips silently met again. The sun rose over New York to the sounds of life returning to its paces, but Blaine and Kurt wouldn't be back to real life until the next half hour. They stood at the airport, all of them, as Shane hitched up the backpack slung over his shoulder with a smile. He was the only one flying alone. Everyone else was taking the Twins' jet. "So I'll hear from you all, yeah?" he smiled. But he glared at Blaine. "Especially you. I'd appreciate an update every once in a while. But you can skip the parts about which bases you finally get to cover." Kurt glowered at him, bright red, and Blaine smacked his arm lightly. "Stop it." "Sorry, sorry," he grinned apologetically at the others. "Sorry for making all that trouble too. But at least I'll be out of your hair now." "Drop us a line," Wes said, bumping fists with him. "And remember to think, it's apparently very useful," David smirked.

"Come back soon!" said Evan, grinning. "Or just transfer," shrugged Ethan. "Into Windsor!" "That would be great!" "Sounds reasonable to me!" "How about no?" Blaine glared at them. "I have my hands full with all of you already." "I'll think about it, but I can't make promises" Shane grinned, and then looked at Reed, who stood just blinking at him. He smiled. "It was really nice getting to know you, Reed." He extended a hand. Reed stared at the hand for a long moment. And then he just went ahead and decided to go for a whole hug. Shane was a little surprised and turned bright scarlet. Coughing sounded from the rest of the assembled as an epidemic of snickering sounded. "Move" Kurt said, earnestly pushing them off to a different direction, glowering. "Move, give them some room, they have to talk." "Wah?" Evan whined. His twin pouted. "But we" Kurt glared pointedly at them, and when it didn't work, he took out a piece of cookie from his pocket and crushed it in his hands. The boys followed without complaint, Dwight grumbling about haunted cookies and how they were all under the spell of its ectoplasmic goodness. Reed pulled something from his bag. It was a small roll of paper in a paper tube. "Here." "What's this?" Shane asked, even as he opened it. He saw a big splatter of red, green and yellow, but it swirled through the canvas. "I didn't know you did modern art." Reed just smiled. "It's for one of my new sets. I'm going to paint people as I feel about them, painting the music I thought best fit them. This one" he turned a bit red, "is you." Shane burst out laughing, looking at it. "It's crazy! I like it!" He smiled at him. "Reed, thank you. For everything, I mean. I know I freaked you out, but youyou put up with me." "You do grow on people," Reed supplied with a smile. He paused before adding, "And I'll miss you." Shane's smile softened and said, "I'd tell you the same, but the magnitude of the "missing" part is kind of exponential in comparison to yours." Reed ducked his head, blushing. "Listen, Shane" "I know." Shane smiled faintly. "you don't like me the way I like you. It's silly, isn't it?

Falling this hard so fast? But you make it so easy I just can't help it." He grinned. "Don't worry about it. I don't need you to answer me. I'm content just looking." Face heating up, Reed swatted at him, only to miss and nearly tripped over his own feet. Shane caught his arm without missing a beat, pulling him back up and then releasing him. Reed blinked. "You're really good at that, you know?" "I suppose so." Shane grinned. He looked up at the terminal screens. "Well this is me." He turned back. "Goodbye, Reed. See you again sometime." Reed smiled and waved. "See you." Shane gave him one last hugit lasted longer than was generally normal. And Reed's hands trailed over his arms even as Shane pulled away. The younger brother stepped back and waved at the older one. "Bye, Blaine! See you on vacation, I guess. Come home sometime." "You going to be alright?" Blaine called back, a little worried. "Nothing I haven't already handled! Bye!" Shane waved and hurried off to board, clutching the painting. Reed stood there, watching after he disappeared, for so long that Kurt walked up to him and patted his cashmere-covered shoulder. "Hey. You okay?" There was a pause. And entirely without warning, Reed grabbed onto Kurt and started crying. "Hey!" he let the fact that Reed was getting tearsand possibly snotall over his Armani a once-in-a-lifetime pass of forgiveness and patted him. "Why are you crying?" "If there was a word for it, I'll tell youright now I can't," his friend answered through chokes. "I don't know why! I feel like an idiot! For heavenssake, Kurt, slap me or something, don't just stand there!" David and Wes looked a little scared at that. Kurt rolled his eyes. "It's all righttake it easy" "I can't wait to get back to Dalton," Reed sighed, interrupted by sobs. "Everything was so simple." "There, there" Kurt hugged him, and shrugged at the others who were staring in shock and askance. Dwight gave them an I'm-surrounded-by-crazy-people expression. "Well, people!" said Evan brightly. "Guess it's time to book New York and head back home." "All the way back to Warbler Land," nodded Ethan. Kurt, still hugging Reed, looked up at Blaine, who smiled. "I don't know about you, but I'm all New York-ed already." "Great. When we get back you can start getting ready."

"What for?" "My parents want to see you."

Episode 17: Explorers Knock. "Kurt?" No answer. Knock. "Kurt?" Still no answer. Carefully, Finn pushed open the door and peered into the white and navy room, cautious for any sign of half-dressed boys that had thrown him for a loop the last time he entered his stepbrother's room. Fortunately, the only sign of life came from the breathing lump under the lush comforter on the bed. Kurt had arrived earlyor late, depending on what you thought of the timelast night. The New Year had barely been out when he appeared on their doorstep, looking tired from the flight but unbelievably happy. He hardly said anything more than "hello, Happy New Year", "I'm back", "I'm going to my room and then I'm going to faint", and "good night" before he went in and was never heard from again. His dinner was left uneaten, which was fine for Finn as that meant he got third helpings. It was already past ten am, and out of a request he could not refuse, he now had to wake him. Finn crept silently over the carpet, standing over Kurt. He shook him carefully. "Hey. Hey, Kurt?" At his touch, Kurt suddenly sat up in bed, pulling from under his pillow a huge Nerf gun, now aimed directly at Finn's face. "Whoa! Don't shoot! It's me!" Finn leapt backwards instantly, almost to the wall. Kurt blinked blearily, saw that it was indeed his stepbrother and lowered the gun with a roll of his eyes. "Geez, Finn, I told you, don't just barge in" "I knocked!" Finn protested. "Twice!" He frowned at the Nerf gun. "That's twice already, why do you keep that thing on you?" "Force of habit At least I didn't actually shoot you this time," Kurt rubbed the sleep from his eyes. "What do you want?" "The girls want to see you outside," Finn grumbled as he went out of the room. Kurt watched him go, confused, then down at the gun on his bed. He shoved it back under his pillow, rolling his eyes. Windsor was starting to get to him. And what would the girls want with him now? He pushed himself up from bed and picked up his phone from his bedside table.

Just got back to Windsor. Everyone else is moving back init's crazy again. When are you coming back? B
Kurt couldn't have stopped smiling even if he tried. He answered,

I'll be back by tomorrow. If you miss me so much, come visit. K

He smirked to himself, possibly unaware of what he may have just done, and put the phone back onto his table. He rose and began to attempt looking less bedraggled, tugging with him his primping kit crammed mostly with the presents he'd received from Reed. It was still cold and he hugged himself as, after a while, he went downstairs. Shrugging on the new McQueen trench that the Twins had given him for Christmas, he said a bleary "good morning" to his family as he passed them at the kitchen. The front door was open, and as he stepped out, he stared. The girls stood there with cold stares, arms crossed. Rachel was staring hard at him. Mercedes and Quinn were raising eyebrows. Tina looked at him with suspicion. Brittany looked as blank and expectant as ever, but Santana was looking at him with the barest trace of a questioning smirk on her face. "What?" Kurt asked, staring at them. No answer. They just kept staring. Mercedes, on the other hand, held up her phone that still had one of Kurt's messages on the screen, and pointed silently at it without so much as changing expression. Kurt blinked at the phone, and then rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh of surrender. "Yes, it's true." There was a pause of wide eyes that lasted only half a second before the girls started screaming, leaping as one and subsequently tackling him to the floor. Finn, who was behind Kurt in the living room, stared in confusion. "Uhshould I be worried about this?" "No, Finn, just call the morgue; I'm going to kill them all right now for getting stains on this coat!" Kurt shot back. The girls were too happy to care. All taking at the same time, the words "New York!", "Radio City!", "presents!", "party!" and above all, "You kissed him! You actually kissed him!" were the most obvious. "We're so proud of you, boy!" Mercedes gasped. "I called it, I called it!" "So are you going out with Blaine officially?" Rachel asked with a raised eyebrow. "Is he your boyfriend now?" Brittany asked unhelpfully. "Did you make out?" Santana asked seriously. "Did you use tongue?" Finn gave a barely perceptible start. "Hey waitwhat?" "What was that about Kurt kissing someone?" Burt demanded from the kitchen.

Oh dear god. Kurt leapt up, pushing the girls out of the door. "Nothing!" he called back, pushing them all out. "Nothing! We're leaving! We're leaving now!" He glowered at the

girls who were still snickering and talking. "Just getshh!out! Get out!" He yelled back just before Finn could update Burt, "We're going out for a while!" And went out, slamming the door shut. He glowered at the girls and motioned for them to quickly move towards his car. "Gogo there, now!" "Where are we going?" Mercedes asked, confused and amused. "Are you really going to kill us now?" Brittany stared. Kurt rolled his eyes so far that they almost didn't resurface. "If we're going to talk about this, can we do it in a range far away from my father and his shotgun? Like Breadsticks?" He gestured to his Navigator quickly. "Besidesall the stuff I brought home from New York for you guys is in there." Santana stared. "You had me at Breadsticks. Let's go."

I'm Kurt. I recently transferred to Dalton Academy. I just came back from New York City for the New Year with the boys of Windsor. To say that it was eventful would be the biggest understatement since someone asked me if Lady Gaga was "the one who liked weird clothes". But out of all the things I took back from New York there's just one that topped the rest: I sang at Radio City Music Hall.
all right, fine. I got to kiss Blaine. Stop reminding meI need to stay collected. If Dalton's multitude of statues and ornaments had enjoyed their time in peacethen they were well aware that time is over.

Windsor was rocked as a door in the second floor blew out nearly right off its hinges, smoke pouring. Blaine, who was passing in the hall, barely looked up from his clipboard as the said door blew out behind him. Without so much as looking up, he picked up the nearby fire extinguisher and tossed it to the boy in the lab coat that ran out the broken door. "Welcome back, Drew." "S'up, Blaine," the boy answered just as casually as he ran back into his room. Blaine nonchalantly checked off his name from the list as he continued walking down the hall. Reed ran out of his room and tripped over the carpet. With a sigh, Blaine helped him up. "Walk, don't run" he reminded him for the hundredth time. "Have you seen the first" Reed stopped and smiled happily as Blaine automatically handed him one. "Thanks!" he went back into his room.

Blaine stopped for a moment, realizing that Reed had gone into the room that he and Kurt would now share. In spite of himself, he smiled at the thought of Dalton's two most infamous fashionistas wreaking havoc in a single room. The Twins took this opportunity to accost him, draping their heavy arms over his shoulders. "Rabbit," whined Evan, "Where's Alice? Isn't he coming back yet?" "We do have names, proper ones," Blaine answered calmly as he continued looking down the clipboard. "But we miss him!" Ethan whined. "We've got no one to play with!" With absolutely no mind for personal space, he patted down Blaine's pockets and snatched out the other boy's phone. "Have you heard from him yet?" he asked, flipping through messages quickly. "Yes," Blaine snatched back his phone, glowering at the twin. "He's not coming in until tomorrow. Why don't you go bother Wes and David?" "Wes went with David to visit Katherine, they won't be back for another half hour," Evan pouted. "What are we supposed to do until then?" "It's not like Kurt will be here in half an hour to satisfy your boredom even if he were so inclined," Blaine punctuated the statement with another tick on the clipboard. "Go do something productiveyou're supposed to be grounded anyway." The cataclysmic party in Park Avenue had reduced the condominium to shreds and even beings as almighty as the Twins had to do their share of downtime. When their parents heard of the damage, they were soundly confined to Ohio for the next month and their limousine had been confiscated. Their platinum cards were also revokedbut rumor had it that the Twins kept an engorged stack of cash with them somewhere in their room especially for these occasions. So whether Dalton liked it or not, they would be stuck with the Twins. And so would Blaine. "This is productive!" Ethan protested. "We're not bothering anyone else!" "You're bothering me," Blaine said pointedly, waving his pen at them. "I need to finish thisHoward wants to know who's already in today." "Let us help!" Evan immediately grabbed the clipboard and his twin bumped Blaine away as the two flipped through the sheet. Evan merely pointed to names in silence and his twin automatically checked it as they proceeded over it. They went through to the second page when Evan would say, "No, this one is not inroommate is" and the twin would immediately make the correction. Blaine stared as the two finished the check in under fifteen seconds and tossed the clipboard back to him. "Now we're bored again," Evan grumbled. "How can you possibly know who's in the dorm already?" Blaine demanded, looking at the list. "We know everything," sighed Ethan dramatically. "And we're friends with the Caterpillar.

Now can we please go see Alice? Surely even Lima will have something more interesting than having to watch everyone unpack." "Leave Kurt alone," Blaine snapped the pen closed. "He's got to recover." "From being kissed passionately on the roof deck?" Evan grinned as Ethan pretended to swoon into his arms. At the stunned expression on Blaine's face, the two burst into hysterical laughter that sounded so evil that people in the hall peered out of their rooms. Dwight looked out of his room with sprayer in hand. Blaine clenched his fists and then took out his phone and dialed a number. "Blaine?" With magnificent calmness, he said, "Hello, David. How's Katherine?" "She's doing better We're just about to go and let her get some rest. Why, what" "I'm about to very methodically maim certain people. Can you come back to Windsor?" "AhTwins driving you crazy?" There was some confusion and Wes sounded on the phone, "If they want to go visit Kurt, we want to come with." "What?" Blaine stared. Evan whipped out his arm in the, "see!" gesture and leaned on his twin, smirking at Blaine. "I'd like to go too," Reed said amicably, peering out of the room again. "We are not going to go see Kurt!" Blaine snapped. Heaven knew the amount of trouble it will entail if he allowed them all to go back to Kurt's house after the last time. Kurt's report had been appalling and quite frankly, he didn't want anyone jumping into Kurt's bed anytime soon. "Oh please, like you're not pining over him," Wes scoffed. "You don't want to see him?" Reed asked, wide-eyed. Blaine looked startled. "Of course I do, I just" "Great!" Evan exclaimed, pulling him down the hall. "Settled!" Ethan agreed, taking the other hand and pulling him down the hall. "Besides, we saw the message." "What message?" Blaine demanded. "The one where Kurt said, "if you miss me so much, come visit"," answered the twin simply. He high-fived his brother in triumph as Blaine groaned. Reed happily jogged alongside them, saying into the phone that was now out of Blaine's reach, "We'll come get you from the hospital?"

"No, David brought his car," Wes answered. "We'll follow you." He immediately hung up. Evan yelled back, "Dwight! Keep an eye on the old place! We're going to go see Blaine's boyfriend!" Dwight stared from his door. "Hey waitI thought Kurt was his boyfriend?" he cried. "He is!" Ethan yelled. "Totally made out during New Years!" All the boys present in the entire floor stopped and turned to them. "What?" Blaine was glad the twins were holding onto his wrists, because then he would've flown at them. In an attempt to retain some dignity, he said, "Fine, we'll go to Kurt's but could you all try to dial it down a little? They're not used to your brand of crazy." "I don't follow." Ethan blinked. "I mean try to act relatively normal." "Which is?" Evan raised an eyebrow. "Anything you're doing right now, do the opposite?" Blaine was not prepared to handle Kurt's parents with this kind of entourage. If he was going by himself, it would be all right. But there was just no telling what the others would do. He had terrible images of broken windows, exploding pans, flying marshmallows and what was likely Kurt's father's shotgun aimed at them all. "HeyHey I'm going with you!" Dwight said quickly, chasing them down the stairs. "Why?" asked Reed, surprised. "Maybe if I go back to the source, I can somehow break the curse on Kurt!" Dwight said with that manic gleam in his eye. "If I go with you to Lima, I can finally end the curse and there'd be everlasting peace in Windsor!" As Reed gave Dwight a baffled look, Blaine rolled his eyes.

Everlasting peace. In Windsor. Sure. Your Apocalypse is more likely, Dwight.

Similarly, the rest of Dalton began to repopulate. The fortunate ornaments and carvings in Stuart House were far less beaten by time and teenage madness than that of Windsor, and they welcomed its illustrious occupants back home. Having arrived far earlier than anyone else and already looking impeccable from where he sat cross-legged on one of the chaises in the common room, Logan looked down at his own checklist, which resided in an iPad. Unlike Blaine who walked around the dormitory doing checks, it was the Stuarts who approached their prefect to tell him that they've arrived. Logan smiled at each of them and greeted them as they approached him, and he ticked off their name in the list. He was in perfect condition again, as far as Derek could tell

when he arrived. "Well," he stood in front of him. "You looknormal." "Best compliment I've heard all day," Logan said immediately, smiling at him. "Welcome back to Hell. The same quarters or did you finally decide to get a roomie to torment?" "I'm captain of two school varsity teamslike hell I'm going to give up my single," he dropped down onto the chair next to Logan's. He studied his friend with careful scrutiny and said, "you really look different. Wellnot different, more likeold times." "Really," Logan smirked to himself as he looked down at his list. "How so? I certainly feel rather comfortable" Derek's eyes widened. "you're not on meds." "No, I am not," Logan smiled, looking at him. "And it feels fantastic. Like I'm in control again." Derek dropped his head to his palm, sighing. "Look, man, I don't think" "Exactly," said Logan bluntly, getting up from his seat. He was walking towards the great glass windows that looked outside. "You do not. And neither do I when I'm medicated. And now that I'm not, my thoughts are rather clear. Don't worry, DerekI haven't had a meltdown or an explosion, I think I'm doing rather well. But if it makes you feel better, I do keep the stuff around just in case I have the urge to actually strangle another human." "It doesn't make me feel better," Derek grumbled. "But since you haven't actually done anything" The doors to Stuart flew open with a crash, making the boys in the hall jump about a foot. A figure in white and black, shirt tail hanging and without a tie, wearing dark glasses, was standing there with a dramatic pose. "I'm back, you sorry bastards!" he yelled through the hall, making the other Stuarts wince and glare at him. He stalkedhe never could simply walk, that boy with the gleaming oakbrown hair in wavesas he went in. Derek rolled his eyes as the firecracker entered the common room. Logan barely batted an eye as he looked at his list. "Welcome back, Julian." He checked the name "Julian Larson" off nonchalantly. The boy stood in front of him ramrod straight, then made an exaggerated bow that would've made a court jester proud. "I'm back! Filming just wrappedI have returned to the gateways of the best education Ohio can offer me" he gave him a pained smile. "Man, take off those glasses," Derek got up and snatched them off his face, earning a brown-eyed glare. He threw them back at him, but Julian wasn't particularly rattled. As far as things went, he and Derek generally got along anyway. Julian turned back to his agent who was hovering by the entryway. "Send my things in, then you can leave." "Finebut don't forget to look the script over for the next"

"Hey!" Julian snapped his fingers, frowning. "I just wrapped one. I'm on a break. And that means no shop talk until at least three days, hm?" The woman with the black hair frowned at him and she brushed off the sleeves of her suit as she glanced around the surroundings. "Fine. I'll contact you again in three days. Don't get into trouble, Julian. I don't want to see another tabloid headline." "We'll keep him in check, Carmen," Logan faked a perfectly respectable smile from where he sat, and it convinced the woman to leave. Julian kept up his bright, plastic smile until she was gone, and then whirled around and sat next to Derek. "And after a two-month absence" Derek smirked. "Why are you even in Dalton? Ramsey should've made you hit the bricks." "My grades are dazzling," Julian answered coolly, checking his Sidekick. "My longdistance study assignments returned with gleaming marks that would make a valedictorian weep. And please, Ramsey would never let me leavehaving an honest-togosh celeb in the school is always welcome. But I'm happy to be up to speed in terms of events. I'm sorry I missed the Brightman party. I could've locked your ex in the pantry for you, Logan." Logan frowned at him, then at Derek. "What have you been telling him?" "Everything," Derek answered, texting one of his many girlfriends. "When you started conveniently forgetting your medication, I decided a little backup might be necessary. So I kept him up to speed on what you've been doing." "And so you get Jules?" The newcomer pretended to be wounded. "I'm hurt, Logan! Does our friendship of two whole years mean nothing to you? I honestly did grow to hate you so much less when you're not being such a violent psychopath." "Very funny," Logan put down the list onto his lap. "You were hardly around those two years. You're always on location." "I was missed? Gasp! I'm moved," he rolled his eyes and looked at Logan. "Seriously. You and 'no meds' don't actually go together unless in the form of a police report. That Hummel kid must have your boxers in a knot." But he fell quiet when he received a truly menacing look from Logan. Then Julian knew that the matter was not a laughing one. A little chilled, he sat back. Satisfied with the response, Logan rose and went to the great glass windows of the common room that looked out to the rest of the school. "Hmm" Logan frowned slightly as he looked out the window. "Now where do they think they're going?" He watched with intense green eyes as the small flock of Windsors exited their house from the distance. They were distant, but not so distant that he couldn't tell who they were. He could recognize the blond twins anywhere, and between them they dragged Blaine.

Logan considered his information: that the Brightmans were bound within Ohio limits after the massive party destruction they caused. And they would only need Blaine if they were going somewhere where they actually needed him, and where else would they go with him but "Derek?" "What?" "I'm going out." His friend looked up. "What? Now? Whoa!" he caught the iPad that was tossed to him. "Finish checking for me," Logan added as he slipped on his coat. "I've got an important errand to run. I'll be at least a few hours off." "You're leaving us in charge?" Julian asked, blinking. "Not you. Derek." To which his friend looked rather pleased. Logan walked to the door and stopped. He smiled at his two friends. "And Julian? Try to be nicer to the others? We are a zero-tolerance no-bullying policy school." To which Julian protested, "I don't bully peopleI'm just lordly! Vast difference! It's really up to them how to take my personality!" "Yes, wellyou're a jerk. And when even I call you that, that's saying something." Logan slammed the door shut. "and then we justsat on the rooftop of the building. We wanted to see the sunrise. Well, actually it was Blaine's idea. I ended up falling asleep, I guess, but I woke up just in time for it. And we figured that since it was still the new year, it would technically pass as one if we" Kurt trailed away and then primly cleared his throat as he fixed the napkin on his lap. His face had been red for the duration of the story. "Well anyway. There it is." Santana was listening spellbound as she snapped breadsticks between her fingers. " wow. I had no idea that you took that long to get one actual kissand you still haven't put out. That's got to be some kind of prude record." Quinn pushed her elbow off the table and rolled her eyes at her. Kurt gave her a narrow-eyed glare. "Well it might shock you, Santana, gentlemen actually do exist in the world." "You say gentlemen, I say holding out," Santana said with a grimace, putting on the L'oreal lipgloss that Kurt had given her. "I thought it was really sweet of him, Kurt," Tina said, smiling at him, patting. She was also already wearing the Chanel perfume that was her present. "We're really happy for you. I mean, it's really about time." "And his present for you wasappropriate," Rachel gave him a huge smile that told him how happy and supremely envious she was at the same time. She toyed with the buttons

on her Marc Jacobs jacket. Kurt preened a little with a smug smirk, "That, I will agree with." Mercedes sipped her iced tea and admired the jeweled pendant from Cartier she was wearing. "And your friends seem to like spoiling you. Are you sure there's no catch to all this, that they're not roping you into one of those rich people secret societies?" "The catch is I have to live with them," Kurt answered with a pained smile. "The trick is learning to adapt." "Yeah, I heard Finn telling Sam that you shot him with a nerf to the face last time," Rachel snorted. "And this morning," Kurt sighed. Brittany was hugging her presenta gigantic teddy bear that required her to not actually be sitting in the booth but on a chair at the end of the tableand said as she leaned into its velvet plush, "For a monster house, everyone sounds so nice" Kurt remembered that all Brittany saw before was the Silent Hill dcor, but he couldn't bring himself to contradict her when it was partly true. "What I would like to know" Santana suddenly said, leaning forward, "if that Logan guy can swing it with a girl? Because he sounds hot." "Are you sure that's such a good idea?" Quinn finally said, "because from what Kurt describes, he sounds a little bipolar." "He's working on it," Kurt snapped. "ButQuinn's rightno, Santana." "How about those twins? Never actually had twins before." Kurt sighed, exasperated. Over Santana's "What? Just because he's the one in an allboys school doesn't mean he gets all the fun", his phone vibrated and he took it out and saw a message from Blaine.

Where are you right now? B

Puzzled, Kurt answered:

Breadsticks with New Directions. Why? K Just confirming. Apologies ahead of time. Expect company. B
"KurtPardon me for interrupting this riveting account of your now-existent love life, but what were you saying about that group from New York you saw?" Rachel had a pad and a pen out, scribbling furiously. "It sounded a little familiar or something." "Logan said they're Harold Kramer High School," Kurt replied, raising an eyebrow. "Their captain's name is Tom whathisname. Their group is Pure Energy?" "They sound like an energy drink" Tina murmured.

"They might have had a few considering how they were moving out there at central park" Kurt said thoughtfully as he remembered. "Uh huh" Rachel scribbled down the name. "Not that we have to deal with them until Nationals, but it's always good to look up the competition. Possible weaknesses. Strengths. How to best crush them under my heels." Kurt rolled his eyes and pretended to fan her. "Before that, can we deal with Vocal Adrenaline? Don't forget that you ran little Sunshine off on a rail all the way there." Rachel glared at him. "It was a moment. I don't do that anymore; I even let Lauren Zizes on board." She primly folded her hands on her lap. "That's because she wasn't a threat to you," Mercedes rolled her eyes. Tina then sat up, putting down her fork as she looked at her phone. "Mm! The boys are asking where to meet us." "Good, tell them that their presents are strictly for special occasions onlythe thought that they'd wear Cavallis and Fords to their daily roughhousing is enough to give me heart failure." Kurt stabbed his salad. "Boy, you're the only one who wears those clothes at school," Mercedes said sensibly. "Oh!" Rachel finally looked up. "I finally remembered! Pure Energy! I saw this video of them before at Nationals. They performed three songsthey split the girls and the guys, then one big production number with all of them as a third. They brought a whole limousine onstage. And confetti cannons. They've placed for the past two years." She leaned back, staring at her plate. "they weregood." "Rachelhello?" Kurt said, snapping his fingers in front of her eyes. "Your neurosis is showing. We won't even get to Pure Energy until we beat Vocal Adrenaline!" "What is 'we'?" Santana pointed out with a snort. "We'll have to beat you Warblers too. And you'll have to beat us." Silence on the table. Mercedes shot her a look and turned to Kurt. "Hey. This is not different from Sectionals. When we went in there, we were sure that one of us was going to lose, and we managed to keep tight, right? Same deal for Regionals. Round two, that's all it is, okay Kurt?" Kurt smiled and touched fingertips with her. "I guess you're right." He raised an eyebrow at her. "No punches pulled?" "You better be ready for a damn knockout," she agreed. The doors to Breadsticks opened. Tina blinked. "That must be Mike and the other guys." They were guys, but they were not from New Directions. Kurt's eyes landed at the pair of identical boys that stepped in and looked around. Their eyes target-locked on Kurt in

unison. And in a cry that rattled Breadsticks"Alice!" Kurt's eyes widened to their full extent as the Tweedles swooped down on him. It was a bad idea to sit at one end of the booth as they now scooped him up and hugged him between them. "We missed you!" they cried as the McKinley girls began to panic, alarmed. "It's been less than thirty six hours!" Kurt protested, struggling. "Whoa!" Wes and David came running as people were starting to stare, the two of them quickly pulling the twins away from Kurtand they ended up getting tangled with one Tweedle each and all on the ground. Blaine immediately stepped in as they fell and caught Kurt's arm before he fell with them. He smiled. "Hey." "Hi," Kurt breathed, smirking at him but nevertheless relieved. "Impeccable timing. "Well, I try." Blaine looked at the stunned girls at the table and nodded to them, beaming. "Hello, ladies." "Hi, Blaine," they answered, in varying ranges of amusement and confusion. "Get off me, Evan!" Wes grumbled, pushing the other boy off. The Tweedles scrambled to their feet and dusted themselves off, smiling brightly at the girls. "Hello, talking flowers!" they chorused. "Why do they call us that?" asked Santana. "Why do they call you Alice?" Mercedes asked Kurt. "Why are you even here?" Kurt demanded to the whole lot of them. "Why" Dwight popped up from the plants that separated the booth from the one next to it, making Rachel and Quinn jump, "are you three girls always dressed in those outfits every time we see you?" he demanded to the Cheerios. All of the assembled gave Dwight a look that questioned his sanity. Dwight gave them an equally narrow-eyed look. "Do those uniforms have something in connection to Kurt's curse, seeing as how he wore it during the game too? Is this some weird cheerleader cult? Because I've seen all the references towards spirit stick worship and I must say that it's highly suspect." After an aghast pause, Mercedes gave Kurt a sidelong glance. "Are you absolutely sure that he's not in a cult?" "At this point, more asylum inmate than cult," Kurt answered without batting an eye. An awkward silence. "So!" Reed piped up from behind Blaine. "Ice cream? Do they have ice cream here?" A pause.

"Yeah! Okay, ice cream! Sounds great!" And all the boys pulled a table over and sat. They were quite a crowd, especially as the talk began and then the football-turned-glee-club members arrived to join them. They took up so much room at Breadsticks that people were wondering why there were so many young people in there. "Dude, that is so lame, why can't he be the MVP if he was the only one who saved your butts during that game?" Finn asked, brow furrowed as the Windsors told them about the last football game. "Don't ask me, ask the leaguethat's how it works," Wes shrugged. "Seriously, David manned that goal like he was possessed." "Only because you had to keep staring at the cheerleaders," David retorted. "I can't blame him for thatI've seen those Banshees in action," Puck grinned. "They were hot." At the sight of the Cheerios shooting him murderous looks, he said, "What?" He frowned. "They were! With the skirts, and their" "gold spankies?" Wes said, looking up with a huge grin. "Yeah!" he and Puck actually high fived at that one, and the Cheerios all rolled their eyes, scoffing. "but you'll be surprised how much couture is out there for plus-sized girls," Reed was telling Mercedes. "Seriously, I have more than a few pieces that I can give you!" He looked at Kurt. "We should have totally thought of this sooner." "I know!" Kurt laughed, grinning at Mercedes. "You better make room in your closet, Mercedesour combined forces will engorge your closet." "PleaseI need some," Mercedes laughed. "Glad to know that you've got someone to hang out with there, Kurt." "Ugh, this madness is going to get so much worse when I move into the same room with Reed" Kurt remarked. "But I always thought that unicorns were white even when small" Tina was telling Dwight, blinking. Brittany supplied, "I have this little unicorn I got from the fifth grade and he's whitewhen he grows up he'll stay white" "No no, everyone knows that unicorn foals start out golden, then they fade and turn silver when they grow up!" Dwight answered sensibly. "Do you have one? Can I have one?" Brittany asked. "Seriously, I don't get that either!" said Artie. "Are unicorns mostly girls or what? If they only approach girls, then they must be guys, right?"

"Right," Mike agreed, confused. "You've got it all wrong!" Dwight said, exasperated. "Honestlyit's like this" "But seriously, your biceps are hard as rocks," Ethan said, poking Santana's arm as Evan did the same to Quinn. "You girls must really be crazy strong." "Among other things," Santana threw him a flirty glare and paused. "Wait a secwhich one are you again?" "Evan," Ethan grinned. "Right. So do you want to ditch this place and go somewhere else?" she smirked. Quinn could barely react, she was occupied in keeping Evan's curious hands from poking at her curly ponytail. The twin grinned. "I would, but I'll only go if my brother gets to as well." The expression on Quinn's face was priceless and Santana made an "oooh" face, absolutely intrigued. "But they should always put their strongest contenders out front!" Rachel protested to Blaine from the other side of the table. "And if just happens to be one particular star out of all the rest, then so be it!" "But that's exactly the point of the duels," Blaine told her patiently. "Whoever everyone else deems the stronger contender will go on to lead." "But it comes down to a popularity vote! What if, say, the person was amazingly, unbelievably talented and sheI mean hejust simply is disliked by the rest of herhis peers and is therefore unpopular?" "Oh, I think we know someone like that" Blaine muttered to Kurt, who smiled. "Glad to see you're all getting along," Kurt told him. "Better than the alternatives" Blaine smiled, squeezing his hand from under the table. "No!" Wes was saying to Mercedes. "There is just no way in this green earth that you can possibly like tater tots more than I do! It's just not humanly possible!" "Try me!" Mercedes raised an eyebrow. "I dare you." Wes immediately called over the waitress. "Tots, my good woman! For me and the lady!" He turned back to Mercedes. "We'll see about that." "Amateur," she snorted. "Sit down before you hurt yourself." "God, it's like the cookies all over again," Kurt shook his head. "Wes may look like that, but he's a teenage boy and he needs to eat," Blaine said. "You know he prowls my room for my stashes of food and pretty much cleans the place

down?" "You and your weird friends" Kurt made a face at him, grinning. "Oh so the pot is calling the kettle black" Blaine smirked, leaning to him. They got very close, smiling, until the table suddenly jumped and they looked up. Finn was rubbing his knee, pretending as though nothing had happened. "Sorry. Accident." He coughed and returned to sports talk with Puck and David. Kurt glared at him, but Blaine just laughed. Burt opened the door, fully expecting his son to be there, but was surprised to find a tall blond young man standing there. "Oh, hello, Mr. Hummel!" Logan said with a smile that won parents everywhere over. "Is Kurt home?" "OhLogan, right?" Burt blinked, startled. "No, actually, Kurt isn't here. He went out with some friends of his from his old school." "Oh" Logan frowned a little, looking worried. "I had hoped to see him. Just giving him some reminders about school." "Well, he should be back soon!" Carole said, coming up beside Burt and smiling up at the Stuart prefect. "Come in, come init's really cold out." If Dwight had been around, he would postulate that one of the cardinal rules when dealing with vampires or other assorted evil beings was that you should never invite them into your home. Logan smiled as he entered. "Thank you, Mrs. Hummel. Oh, then, I suppose I could simply just tell you about the reminders, so I won't have to stay long here. You have a lovely home." Burt smiled a little and made a short response of gratitude as he sat in front of Logan in the living room. "So, you go to school with Kurt" Carole handed them some hot chocolate. "Thank you," Logan told her, smiling, "and yes, I do. We don't share the same dormitory he stays in Windsor and I stay in Stuart. But I'm the Stuart prefect and I thought it would be all right to make sure that he's assimilating all right, since he's new." He smiled a little bit more. "And I'm his friend." "Yeah, you're in the Warblers with him, right?" Burt said, scrutinizing him. "We, uh, we saw you perform and you won during the Winter Festival." "Congratulations," Carole said kindly. "Thank you, but really" Logan laughed softly. "I have a lot to thank Kurt for." "Really?" Burt blinked. "What makes you say that?" Logan looked down at his hot chocolate. "It'sactually a little embarrassing. But the truth is, Kurt's reallywell he's really good at just being himself. AndI've had some personal

issues, recentlyand he's helped me through them a lot." Burt looked a little surprised. "Oh. So you'realso" he gave him a questioning nod. And Logan laughed. "Yes, I'm gay." He considered, then added, "But that hadn't been the issue. Dalton is a very non-discerning school in these matters. What I meant was thatI'm not the most popular person in school, and Kurt seemed to just look past all that. I think he's" he trailed off and then just smiled faintly. "I think you have a really great kid, Mr. Hummel." Carole looked at Burt with a smile and Burt smiled back a little at her. "Wellthank you, Logan, I think he'she's pretty amazing too. Couldn't have asked for a better son." Logan smiled and then laughed. "Well! Getting to the point. I just wanted to come over and tell Kurt that usually after a new student has been in Dalton for as long as he has so far, there will be an academic assessment that will go on. To see if the student is handling the studies in Dalton well. Of course, I imagine in Kurt's case it would only be a formalitybut I just wanted to make sure since he seems to have been given quite a bit of work. It's taking a toll on him." Carole looked concerned. "Toll how?" Logan blinked. "I heard from the boys that Kurt has been losing weight and he's buried in the work. If he was having any difficulty, I wanted to see if there was anything I can do to help. It's probably not the work itself, but just the load. That, and Warbler practiceand the fact that he doesn't have a particularly quiet dormitory" Burt sat up, frowning, now looking concerned. He leaned forward, eyes narrowed. "What do you mean? Losing weight? Quiet dormitory?" Logan smiled faintly. "Wellnothing against them, of course but Windsor is known for being a ratherrambunctious house. The boys there can bounce off the walls a little and get into some misdemeanors" Carole and Burt looked at each other. They remembered the troop of boys that had invaded the house the morning Kurt had left for New York. They seemed all right, but then they had to wonder how they even all got in there to begin with. "Please don't tell Kurt I said anything," Logan begged. "I know he's very attached to the boys at Windsor. I'm sure it's all harmless. I wouldn't want to stress him any more than he already must be." Logan smiled. "But you know, I think all of these matters would have been covered by Blaine already." "Why would Blaine cover this?" asked Carole. "Oh. He'sthe Windsor House Prefect, of course," Logan blinked. "Just Acting, right now. The original House Prefect is currently confined in a hospital. He's taking over duties." "Wellwe actually haven't seen Blaine since the Festival," Carole admitted. She was certain that he wasn't among the boys who picked Kurt up for New York. "Oh? OddI thought he would've contacted you about all this" Logan seemed to

consider. Then he cracked a smile. "But I'm sure he must be taking care of Kurt, seeing as how close they've become." "Yeah about that," Burt leaned forward and said in a low tone, "Have you, uhheard anything? About those two recently? Because he's all Kurt talks about sometimes." Inwardly, Logan's veins turned ice cold. But his smile remained perfect. "Well, I saw them in the party at New York together. I'm usually not one to gossip but I think they've developed somewhat of amutual understanding. Kurt seems very taken by him and vice versa." "I get it" Burt leaned back. "Right, good to know." Logan laughed. "The party was pretty wild. Kurt enjoyed himself. But don't worry, while I was with him, he didn't have any alcohol." "There was booze?" "Free flowing," Logan answered with a laugh. "The Twins throw infamously wild parties." Then he seemed to realize what he was saying. "I meant Well, generally it was available to those who wanted it, but" "All right, LoganI think we get the picture," Burt responded with a frown. Logan looked uncomfortable. "I hope I didn't get Kurt into any trouble here. I assure you, he's been in great behavior all this time." "Yes, and I believe you, don't worry," Burt said with a nod. Logan glanced at his Rolex and said, "WellI really have taken up too much of your time. I should be going. Please tell Kurt that if there's anything I can help him with about the academic assessment, I'd be willing to help." He got up. Burt rose and shook hands with him. "We'll tell him." "Thank you." Logan smiled at him and Carole and headed for the door. "Logan!" said Burt suddenly. "Yes, sir?" "What House did you say you were in again?" "Stuart, sir," Logan answered, beaming. "And proud of it." "All right. Just wanted to make sure." Logan opened the door, and immediately found himself face to face with Kurt and Blaine, who were just about to come inside. Instead of being startled, he smiled even more at the sight of them. "Oh hello," he said smoothly. Behind them, the other Windsor boys were waiting in carsWes and David in David's Porsche and the twins and Reed in the Twins' Rolls Royce (their "other" car), and Dwight in his Impalaand they all sat up at the

sight of him. "Logan?" Kurt blinked. "What are you doing here?" "I was actually coming to see you," Logan said, smiling. "But I've already talked to your parents about the academic assessment." "Waitwhat academic assessment?" Kurt asked, frowning. "Blaine didn't tell you? After a month or a bit after that, new students need to undergo academic assessment to see how they're adapting to Dalton studies." Kurt looked at Blaine with wide eyes. Blaine answered, a little anxious, "I was going to tell you when you got back. I didn't want you to stress about it until you got back to Dalton." "Kurt?" Burt's voice sounded from behind Logan. Logan stepped aside and let Burt approach. Burt came up to his son and said, "We have to have a little talk." He looked at Blaine and nodded. "Blaine." "Hello, Mr. Hummel," Blaine smiled. "Hey, Mr. H!" yelled the twins from the car, waving. "Hello, boys," said Burt, giving them a small wave. He looked at Logan. "Thanks for coming, Logan. We'll take it from here." "Sure, thank you, Mr. Hummel." Logan flashed him a smile, and gave one to Blaine. He was met with his ex's cold eyes, to which he just smiled more. The Stuart prefect brushed himself off as he walked back to his cara Jaguargot in, gave Kurt a smile and drove off. The Twins looked at each other, then looked to the backseat. "Reed. Get in David's car." Reed saw the looks in their eyes and did so without questions. The moment he got into David's Porsche, the Twins yelled, "See you in Dalton, Blaine!" And the pair immediately roared off after the Jaguar. Burt turned to Blaine and Kurt. "Both of you, inside. We need to talk." Kurt and Blaine looked at each other. This didn't bode well.

Episode 18: Jumping Hurdles

I'm Kurt. I recently transferred to Dalton Academy. I fell in love with a boy named Blaine, and for the first time in my lifeI was loved back. But it's still so far from over. Dancing together onstageholding each other through fireworkskisses during the New Year But it's time to come down from that cloud. And it looks like my dad is meeting us when we land.
Blaine and Kurt sat on the couch in the living room, the former with his hands on resting on his knees, the latter cross-legged and leaning back, with a hand splayed on his face. Burt sat across them both, leaning forward with his elbows braced on his knees. Carole sat on the cushioned footstool, between the battle lines, looking at them both. Finn sat in the entryway towards the kitchen, devouring a massive sandwich and pretending to not to be paying attention. Burt looked straight at the pair, unblinking, as Kurt drummed his fingernails against the armrest of the couch, looking at his father expectantly. Blaine remained still and attentive, waiting, as Carole glanced apprehensively at them all. After the long moment of silence, Kurt finally asked, "what do we have to talk about?" Finn craned his neck from the kitchen, tilting back his chair so it now balanced on the back legs. At the silence, Kurt added, "Is there something Logan told you other than assessment? Because I really don't think you need Blaine here if it was just that." "No, Blaine has to stay," Burt said with finality. Carole looked at them all apprehensively. Blaine glanced slightly at Kurt, who met his glance for a moment, before both turned back to Burt. "Now I'm going to ask you two some questions, and I want you to answer it with the truth," Burt said, looking at his son and Blaine. "And I'm serious. Because you both know that I don't have that clear an idea of what goes on while Kurt is in boarding school, or who he's with, or what he's doing. I want the truth, and when you answer me, it better be the truth or there's going to be trouble." Kurt blinked and nodded slowly. Blaine agreed, understanding this entirely. Kurt's fingertips rested just against his knuckles on the couch, looking as though they landed there only by accident, but neither made the move to take the contact away. Burt studied them both a moment longer, then leaned a bit more forward, motioning for

them both to come closer, the way someone would when he was about to impart a secret. The two looked at each other, a little puzzled, but also leaned forward, Carole doing the same. Finn leaned further, looking at them, trying to hear. Burt said, "There was a party in New York? A big one?" The two nodded. "It wasone of those wild ones? There was booze?" Kurt hesitated, glancing at Blaine, but Blaine nodded. "Yes." He was starting to slowly get the scope of what Logan may have said. Burt now looked at his son. "Did they offer you any?" "Yes," Kurt swallowed. "Did you drink?" "No," Kurt said, looking at his father directly with sureness in his tone. Burt looked at Blaine. Blaine replied, "He didn't." "Did you offer him any?" "No," Blaine said quietly. "I told him I can't drink," Kurt immediately added. "He told the others not to give me some." Burt nodded a little and carefully held up his hand to his son, telling him to be quiet for a moment, and that the addition was unnecessary. Kurt sat back slightly but remained close as his father turned his eyes back to Blaine. "Your dorm. You boys get into trouble a lot?" A pause. The two looked at each other, not sure how to take this question. Burt added, "I'm talking serious troubledo you boys get sent to the dean?" Kurt paled, remembering Ramsey's office. Blaine closed his eyes and exhaled. "yes." "How often?" "I don't have a number, but it's from time to time," Blaine responded. "Any of this go into your permanent records?" "No," said Blaine immediately. Nothing ever went into a Windsor's permanent records. The pranks were often morally harmless (if not physically) or chalked up to house rivalry. They made sure that the only people who did things worthy of suspension (breaking into off-limits places, leaving

campus without permission, causing serious property damage) were powerful enough to curb the attack by sheer influence if the heat came. The Twins were the prime examples. But the very main reason was: they made sure that there was never enough proof to strike. Never. Even Stuart and Hanover abided by these unofficial codes. This was the only reason all hell had not swept down onto the Houses from the administration. Burt nodded slowly. After a moment's pause, he gave Blaine a direct look. "Are you going out with my son, Blaine?" Kurt's entire body tensed as Carole's eyes widened, staring at her husband. Finn leaned so far back that he was on the verge of falling as he stared. Blaine tensed only very slightly, and he did not break eye contact with Burt for a moment. When he finally turned away, it was to look at Kurt, who looked at him with an emotion that people have yet to nameone of great apprehension, mixed with dread, and then hope. And then he simply put his hand fully over Kurt's on the couch, warm fingers twined together. Then he turned back to the father with a small smile, saying very carefully, "To be perfectly honest, Mr. Hummel with his and your permissionI would really, really like to." Carole was smiling almost beyond her control. Her hands clasped together as she saw the absolutely stunned expression in Kurt's face, eyes all lit up with Blaine's words. Finn, shocked, leaned back so far that balance failed him and heand the chairfell with a bang. Everyone looked up for a moment, but he sprang up, scarlet. "I'm okay! I'm fine." He brushed himself off. Kurt's breath caught in his throat when Blaine then turned to him in askance. Clasping his hand tightly now, he quickly turned to his father, saying quickly, "Yes! I'm saying yes," he added to Blaine, then to his father, "I'm saying yes, and that's it." The apprehensive, expectant look in Kurt's eyes and the way he clung onto Blaine's hand, almost made Burt smile. "Now, Kurtwait a minute" Kurt flustered, looking as though he would get angry. "Dad, whatever Logan said to you !" "Okay, calm down," Burt said firmly, holding the free hand that was flailing. "Calm down. Let me talk, all right?" Kurt sat back a little, keeping his hand and Blaine's together. The other boy put his hand over theirs to calm him. Burt sighed. "The truth is, KurtI didn't actually have to ask. Youmade it kind of obvious how you saw Blaine." As his son turned lobster scarlet and Blaine raised his eyebrows, "And to tell you honestly, after what happened in McKinley, you just moved to Dalton so fast and we didn't know how you were going to handle it. Carole and I got worried, and because we didn't see you for so long, when we did see you againthe difference was obvious."

"And you looked wonderful at the Festival, Kurtyou looked sohappy," Carole said, beaming. She glanced at Blaine. "Especially after you came back from the dorm." Happy as he was to hear this precursor to approval, Kurt wanted to die right then and there at the last statement. Blaine was tryingand failing very badlyto stop smiling. But Burt turned to Blaine with a look that implied a serious note. "Look, I don't know what this Logan kid has in for the both of you. He painted a one hell of a picture for us. But if most of what he's saying is true, then I can't just brush it off either." Burt glanced at Kurt, and back at Blaine. "I trust Kurt, and if he trusts you, then that's how it's going to be. But if anything happens to my son out there, Blaineif I hear about him so much as crying about anything" "Believe me, sir, if anything happens to your son on my watch, I will present myself to you to be shot at," Blaine said with a small smile. "Dad" Kurt began, giving Blaine a sidelong narrow-eyed look, but his father shook his head. "I didn't send you there to get expelled," Burt said with finality. "I love you, you know that, and I'm just doing my job here as your father, and that's making sure that you have a future. I'm happy with what makes you happy, but if you don't pass that assessment, you're moving to the Stuart house." Kurt paled. His father softened. "I know you can do it. You've always been able to do whatever you made up your mind to dothat's just the way you are. When you said you would hit that high note in that song you wanted, you fought for that and you did it. That's all it is now, and I know you'll do it again." Burt looked at Blaine. "And Blaine, while this is me basically agreeing to this relationship, let me get one thing clear; I don't care what base you think you're onthere's only two sides to the field right now: You being alive and you getting hunted down by me if you push Kurt too far. Got that?" Deep crimson, Kurt gave his father a disbelieving look. Blaine put on all the assumed gravity he could muster at this moment and replied, "As crystal, sir." With a groan, Kurt dropped his face into his hand, and Carole stifled a laugh. "Waitsowe're fine with all this, right?" Finn said, looking in from the entryway, brow furrowed. He saw Kurt turn to him with an expression he once saw beforewhen he questioned the feasibility of flying three hundred live doves for the wedding. He frowned back. "I was just making sure!" "It's fine, Finn," Carole said to him before smiling at Kurt and patting his knee. She murmured to him, "We're very happy for you." She glanced at Blaine and nodded, and the soloist returned it with a small smile. Burt cleared his throat with a pointed look. "All right. Sothat covers it. Kurt, you stay right there, we have something else to, uhto cover. Blaineyou better head back home "

"Kurt, I'll see you in the dorms tomorrow," Blaine told Kurt with an encouraging squeeze on his hands when he received Kurt's expression of "you're going to leave me here with The Talk?". He laughed a little. "You'll be okay. You'll be fine. I'll see you tomorrow." Kurt glared at him but accepted the small, incredibly chaste hug which was all Blaine could give him within Burt's proximity. Blaine turned to the parents, saying, "Thank you, Mr. Hummel, Mrs. Hummel. I'll see you around." "See you, Blaine," said Carole, beaming. Finn awkwardly gave him a nod, and Blaine nodded back, not quite sure how to greet him, but he smiled at Kurt one last time before heading out of the door. Kurt turned back to his father, who took a deep breath and began with, "Okay, I know that you know all this, I just want to go over this with you right now" and Kurt sank bank into the couch with a groan. "What happened?" asked David as Blaine finally emerged and headed to the Porsche. David was still in the car, while Wes and Dwight leaned outside of it, waiting. The Impala was blaring "Back in Black" from its speakers. Blaine looked relieved as he approached. "Went well?" Wes asked hopefully. "I'm alivesays something when your boyfriend's protective father owns a shotgun," Blaine quipped as he grinned at them. "Wait, so it's official now?" Dwight asked, following Blaine as the prefect and Wes prepared to board the car. "You and Kurt, I mean?" "Apparently yes," Blaine smiled as he opened the passengers' side door, beating Wes to it and receiving a glower from the other boy. "Kurt said yes, and his parentssort of approved soon after." "You're on a roll," David grinned. "We're still in a bit of a mess, though," Blaine answered as he sat. "Logan was apparently in there breaking the rules." "What rules?" Wes asked as he got into the backseat. "The ones where there should never be any proof, and that no one should ever say anything. He told Kurt's parents about the Twins' party, and how crazy Windsor is. They're not going to tell administration, but Kurt's dad says that if he doesn't pass the new student academic assessment, he's going to get moved to Stuart House." The expletives that came out of the boys' mouths could make sailors blush. Wes looked like he was going to explode, so Blaine added, "All right calm down, calm down. Kurt's parents were all right with this. I told them that nothing goes into permanent records." "Damn straight," David muttered. "Or we'd all kiss the Ivy Leagues goodbye." "I don't want war against Stuart," Blaine warned. "I know the Twins must've guessedit's the only reason they'd run out of here that fast. I'm going to keep them back when we get back to Dalton."

"What the hell, BlaineLogan fired the first shot!" Dwight shot back. "No one ever tells! Ever! Even Stuart and Hanover know that! Geez, didn't you tell me that before Justin took over Hanover, it got into trouble just like Stuart and Windsor? That big mess with" "Dwight, justjust get back into your car, all right? We'll talk about this back in the dorm." Blaine sat back sighed. The "Hunter" frowned and just turned, striding back to his Impala, clearly annoyed. It was amazing to Blaine how far he'd come, seeing as how Dwight didn't approve of Kurt being in Windsor to begin with. As David started up the Porsche, Blaine added, "Logan's really pushing me." "If you're looking for people to stop you from pushing back, you are in the wrong car," Wes retorted. "I can't fight back right nowI've got to worry about Kurt. Logan got us good this time. If I don't find some way to curb Murdoch, and let's face it, he's the only one who'll actually pull Kurt's score down, Kurt will end up in Stuart. I don't want that." "We'll find a way," David assured him. "We did it for Dwight." "Don't remind me," Wes put his head into his hand, before glancing back to the Impala following them. "I never want to have an exorcist over ever again. And all the things he had us do before letting us into his roomI hate garlic now." "Yeah? You weren't the one who made the mistake of asking what the pig heart was for," David answered. Blaine shook his head. "And the day had been windy, so Charlie banned wind chimes from Windsor not long after, since Dwight kept screaming about the presence of demons." Kurt arrived at campus next day in his Navigator which had no room for passengers owing to the incredible amount of things he had to bring along, most of them having come from his trip to New York and his Christmas presents. Unlike the first time he had come to school, when he had this sense of uncertainty, he felt almost relieved to see Dalton's gardens and architecture again. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the house was crammed with tension after Burt sat him down and had the long-awaited and long-dreaded "talk". Finn had evacuated the house in record time. Carole's presence and input only made things even more awkward during the talk, but Kurt was nevertheless grateful for their need to have to bring this up, completely unnecessary though it may be. From the moment he reached the gates, he noticed a crowd of young women peering into the courtyard hopefully, clutching glossy photographs, notepads and pens, craning their necks and straining to peer past the bars. As Kurt went into campus, he saw who they were all, apparently, waiting for. He did a double take when he passed the young man in the gray shirt, jacket and crisp jeans, hair slicked back and smiling as he spoke to the few girls allowed inside, and he

was scribbling into their notebooks. Kurt finally recognized him when he flashed one of them the smile that he'd seen before. It was Julian Larson, the young actor who appears in a TV show, and a movie or two. Upon recognizing him, Kurt nearly hit a potted plant and had to stop when he realized that he was staring in amazement. What was he even doing here? It got odd when Julian suddenly glanced up, as though sensing someone was looking at him. He saw the stopped Navigator and saw Kurt through the windshield. And he flashed him the smallest, knowing Cheshire smile remarkably reminiscent of the Twins'. Baffled, Kurt drove on to Windsor. Upon coming in to his dorm once again, he found one of the reasons why he missed it. With so many Warblers in Windsor, it wasn't unusual to hear people break out into song every now and then. David had once began singing such an incredible rendition of "Kiss From a Rose" to Katherine over the phone that the other Warblers ran up to him and actually provided him backing vocals (it was reported later that Katherine cried). Ever since people found out Reed could sing solo, they encouraged it by singing along when at one time he had his headphones on and was singing to "It Takes Two" from Hairspray (Reed also cried). Today was no different. As Kurt pulled his baggage into the doors, other Windsors were still settling in, just like he was. And then he heard, as everyone just kept moving in and having a good time, David start a melody from upstairs. He didn't actually sing any lyricsit was a harmony. It was this familiar, catchy melody, and after he started the first line, Wes joined in on the second, using the same wordless melody, simply making sound and harmonizing. Other Warblers, on the ground floor, looking upstairs, and those upstairs, were starting to grin. In the next pass, they all began joining in to the melody, creating a seamless sync. It was only after a couple of the Warblers started to beatbox to the music that he realized what they were "singing"Windsor was echoing with the sound of "Trashin' The Camp". The Twins, from the mezzanine rails, joined in the bridge melody as they snapped their fingers to the beat, and soon all of Windsor was ringing. Reed was twirling around the second floor hall, singing along happily with the rest of them. The rest of the Windsor boys were grinning, listening and grooving along to the Warblers as they continued to sing. Kurt started to grin as the Windsor conspirators sighted him and smirked as they sang, motioning for him to join in. Kurt laughed and shook his head, but got roped along as Reed grabbed his hand and pulled him into the fray. The boys sang and Windsor rocked to the beat, the song name all but too appropriate as the boys aimed to settle back into camp and subsequently prepare themselves for more things to come. As the song faded out, it was met by scattered applause and laughter, as the Windsor Warblers pieced off again to return to whatever it is they were previously doing. Kurt turned as an arm suddenly slipped around his waist and he met Blaine's smiling

eyes. "Welcome back," the prefect said. "Let's hope I get to stay," Kurt responded with a smile. He slipped his hand onto Blaine's and remained there. The Twins scoffed with matching smirks. "Wow, it's barely been a couple of days and you two are already PDA-ing in the halls," Evan sighed dramatically. "You should be ashamed, Blaine!" Ethan said in mock rebuke. "You know that such displays are forbidden!" "In the academic buildings and the open grounds? Yes. But I didn't read anything about all this not being allowed in the Windsor House rules." Blaine grinned, pulling Kurt just a little bit closer, enough for the others to take notice and erupt into snickering. The countertenor turned scarlet and peeled himself off him for a moment, but he kept their hands together. "You're the prefect, you make the rules!" Reed remarked, smirking. "I may have chosen to purposely overlook a few," Blaine admitted, smiling at Kurt. "Very funny," Kurt replied, raising an elegant eyebrow. "Let's not get me into any more trouble than I'm already in. I'd like to remind you all that most of the reason why I'm behind in the workload is because all of you make it nearly impossible to focus for more than an hour." He picked up his bag and his suitcase and headed to his room. The others, predictably, followed him. "And it promises to become even more tedious!" Kurt added as he walked. "What's going on? Is the school being used as a set or something?" Reed looked confused as he walked with him, trying to help him pull the stroller bag but got his hand swatted away by Kurt who didn't want him to get cut on the nametags. "What do you mean?" "Julian Larson is out in the courtyard!" Kurt gestured. "You know, the guy who plays Grant from that TV show Something Damaged?" The Twins looked confused. Evan blinked. "Oh, so Julian's back? I thought he was expelled." "He goes here?" Kurt looked at them in confusion. "Yeah," Ethan nodded, looking a little more serious as they stopped outside of Kurt's room. "And he's one of Logan's wingmen. So watch out for him." At the name, Kurt suddenly turned around, eyes narrowed. He walked past Blaine and to the Twins. "I think the one who'll have problems is Logan. Where is he? He and I need to have talk that's been too long in coming." At the tone of his voice, Reed gave Blaine a wide-eyed look and Blaine immediately moved forward, pulling Kurt back a little in caution. Dwight, peering from his salt-lined doorway, lifted the sprayer slightly. "I sense evil again."

"Yes, you are," Kurt responded in the same hard tone. He looked back to the Twins. "Is he in Stuart?" "Kurtokaytake it easy" Blaine pulled him back towards the doorway that Reed had already opened. "You were the one who said that you didn't want to get into any more trouble, and for starters, picking a fight with the Stuart prefect will get you into one." Kurt snapped, irritated, "Oh please, Blaine, do me a favor and drop your feigned veil of virtueyou and I both know that when Logan got my parents into this, he's crossed a line." "He has, and believe me, whennot if, whenI get the chance, I will throttle him. I won't even give you the benefit of getting to him first." But Blaine put a hand on Kurt's arm. "But we're both in trouble right now. If I don't get you focused on the assessment and Murdoch manages to get the drop on you, not only will I lose you to my heinous ex's House, but your father will kill me. Do you see where I'm coming from?" "Your ex is being a pain, I'll give you that" Kurt sighed, shaking his head and entered his roomand stopped. Reed stood in the middle of the common area, grinning broadly, opening his arms. "What do you think?" The room had been redecorated. While it retained the chief features of old-world beauty that Windsor was so known for, and even if it was half covered in padded, soft things for Reed's half of the room, Kurt had to marvel at the change. It was in white, with great sensitivity with the use of pale tones of blue, and the fabric in the room gleamed with silver. "What happened?" Dwight asked, poking his head in and frowning at it all. "It looks like a penthouse! It's fluffy and cloudy!" "I'm sorry if my aesthetics irritate your desire for the "Addams Family Funeral" look," Reed mumbled, looking stung. "It looks great, Reed, don't listen to Dwight," Kurt shot the spiritualist a look before going over to his friend, giving him a hug. "So the one padded to extreme levels is your end?" He looked around. "Itlooks a bit smaller than it used to, though." He blinked, and realized what it was. The third area, where another bed was supposed to be, was blocked off by large carved panels. "is this even allowed?" "They give us free reign in our rooms as long as we can pay for any damage and restoration," Blaine shrugged in answer, already knowing what was going on. "Yes, yes," Reed grinned, heading to the partition. "I remember that you and I had an understanding. About my closet." And he pushed the partition open. It took a few moments of stunned staring into what might have been fashion Valhalla before Blaine finally smiled with great patience and took Kurt's elbow. "Let's go sit down"

"But" Kurt couldn't stop staring, and Reed was giggling behind the shelf, trying to keep himself upright and nearly knocking over a decorative bell. "Let's gocome on, let's get you unpacked" Blaine patiently pried Kurt's fingers from the partition and led him away with a smile on his face. "But!" "Kurt," Blaine gave him that smile that usually got to Kurt. Finally, Kurt turned away from the sight and allowed himself to be led away. Windsor was starting to feel normal again. "I think you all know why we called this meeting," Evan began. "Without Blaine" Ethan added. David and Wes were present, sitting in the living area of the Twins' room, along with Dwight and Reed. It had been two tireless days since Kurt had moved back into Windsor, and the assessment exams were tomorrow. All of Windsor had worked very hard to do their partin as much as they could. Of course they continued to pelt Kurt with the morning coffee cups (this remained one of their favorite things to do, because no one reacted quite so furiously as Kurt did, if the flying coffee cups were any indication). But they did try to tone it down a little. Drew hardly blew a doorknob out during this time. The Twins cut back on their barrages down the hall, and if they did so choose to rapidfire paintballs at the occupants, they always skipped that one door in the hall. It was no wonder that Reed often took shelter in the room he now shared with his friend. Blaine, David and Wes worked with Kurt, trying to help him catch up by trying to remember what the assessments actually were like since the last time they'd helped anyone through it. And that was with Dwight, who was completely unhelpful in these mattershe barely remembered them. After taking Kurt through an exam coverage that had absolutely nothing to do with mythology and American History, and more of why protection symbols should be tattooed onto the skin, the Windsor triad bundled Dwight out of the room and told him to go "purify" something and keep busy. It was a couple of days later that, as the countertenor prepared for another fearsome studying session, Blaine had gone out to the South and Main to track down some of the old versions of the assessment exams and get wind of the coverage of the new one. This left the conspirators, David, Wes, Dwight and Reed, in the Twins' room, plotting as they always did whenever there was a disturbance in Dalton that they themselves did not instigate. This was a benefit to both partiesKurt could study without the ambience of pandemonium, and the plotters could make their battle plans. "All right, so Logan may have broken the rules," said David, frowning as they returned to a topic they had not broached for the past two days. "But Blaine doesn't actually want us to start waging war. Everything's been quiet so far, and I think I'll have to agree. If we

start anything now, we'll lose Kurt to Stuart and we'll have to put up with Blaine's most melodramatic playlist." He sat up. "And I'm not talking about the I-miss-Kurt playlistI'm talking like last year. The one immediately post-Logan." Wes shook his head. "I had no idea that there were so many relevant songs in the world. Ever." "You can't blame him for that," Reed said softly. "And I don't blame you guys for storming there either. I swear I saw red when I first saw that bruise on Blaine's arm!" "All right, that's that" Evan finally said before Wes and David could make an angry agreement. Ethan gestured for quiet, leaning forward from where he sat with his brother. "Let's get to the point." "Blaine says no" Evan began. "But we can say 'yes'," Ethan finished. "Who is we?" Dwight raised an eyebrow. "The rest of us," Evan said calmly. "Blaine is the acting prefect while Chaz is away. He'll be back anytime this week." "So until he does," Ethan said coolly, "Blaine's little compass of virtuewhich we are working on dismantling, by the waywill still point to let's-all-keep-calm. I'm betting that if he hadn't the responsibility to look after us, Windsor, and Kurt all at the same time, he'll be leading the charge." "So we're going to do it for him?" Wes stared. "We can't let Logan get out of this unscathed," Ethan answered with a frown. "We went after him, remember? He was completely unapologetic! He said that all he was doing was trying to help Kurt, because "Windsor is hardly the best place to start a newcomer into Dalton"." "And Stuart, Land of Pressure-Until-You-Snap is?" Wes shot back. "I'm telling you, if we want newbies to live long, Hanover may be the place," Dwight mumbled. "We uproot them when they're grown a little. Wes sure survived." But the Warbler shook his head. "Oh if you knew what I knew about Hanover" "Why?" Dwight blinked. "Can't say. Rules say no one tells. Hanover is just a little stricter, s'all. Switzerland, remember?" Evan snapped his fingers, getting everyone's attention. "Hey! Come on, you guys. Peace or no peace, we have to get Logan back for this. Send him a message." "Windsors do not, most emphatically do not, roll over and take it while Stuarts get to do as they please," Ethan nodded. "So we hatched a plan."

Everyone leaned closer. Reed stared, eyes wide. "Whatkind of plan?" "A really really interesting one. And we called you guys, because you have influence and pull. If this turns bad, oh man, are we in so much trouble!" Evan was jittery with excitement, barely able to stay sitting, his twin equally affected as much. Dwight narrowed his eyes at their excitement over what seemed like a plan of equal magnitude to taking down a Deathstar. "Is this a near death plan?" "You can say that it's a near academic death," Ethan said thoughtfully. "I mean, we're talking suspension, expulsion all the nasty sions." "Then this involves breaking and entering," David started. "Precisely, dear Hatter." The Twins cracked grins. "We're going to break into the Red Castle." Reed was slightly less baffled than Dwight was. This was only due to experience. "You've done that before. You've pranked them there before and have had some pretty close shaves. I don't even know how you managed to get that many colored plastic balls into Stuart House" "Oh no. This time we're going for something big. A realfeather in our hat, should I say." Evan grinned. "It'll be breaking a rule right back between houses, butif Logan knows what's good for him, he won't charge us for anything," Ethan said somberly. "He'll understand when he finds out what we're about to do." "What are we going to do?" Dwight asked suspiciously. The Twins grinned, their Cheshire smiles never more pronounced. "Weare going to go steal Pavarotti." That late afternoon, Blaine closed the door and Kurt looked up from the couch of his dorm room, looking deeply tired. All the glow in his skin was gone, and that in itself was staggering. Immediately, the prefect looked concerned. "Kurt, how many hours have you slept?" The other boy seemed to give this far more consideration than what was comforting. " counting yesterday?" "I know you're making sure you pass, but there's no reason for you to do this to yourself." Blaine sat close next to him, pulling away the notebook in his hands. "As much as I want you to pass this ridiculous thing, I don't want you fainting midway." "PleaseI'd rather keel over and give up a Tony award before I let that ogre of a Literature professor get the better of meit's gotten personal now," Kurt narrowed his eyes. "okay, maybe not the Tony, you'll peel that from my cold dead hands. But you

know what I mean." "I do," Blaine smiled. "Just don't push too hard, all right? For your sake and mineI'm pretty worried about your father's shotgun skills." "Thanks for leaving me by myself there, by the wayThe Talk was such a comfortable discussion," Kurt bristled, sarcasm dripping from his tone. "Hey, if you felt uncomfortable, I would've gotten twice that if I stayed. I had to givethat talk to Shane by myself and you don't know awkward until you've done that. I had to abandon ship." Kurt laughed a little. "I guess." He sighed and leaned against Blaine, who put an arm around his waist. After a moment, Blaine murmured, "thanks." "For what?" Kurt blinked. "Saying yes." Kurt turned red and glanced to the direction of the window. "You say that like we both didn't know it was going to happen" He smiled a little. "When you sang "Your Song" to me, I said yes without you having to ask, you know." Blaine smiled a little as well, squeezing his hand. "It was just that" he shook his head. "All this bad blood between me and Logan You know I think on some distant level we both knew. It's just that everything that was happening around isit made us not want to risk it that far by making it official yet. There was just too much bad history." He looked at Kurt intently. "I said it before. You're braver than I am. When I heard you tell Logan that you" he turned away and smiled to himself. "when you told Logan that to his faceyou have no idea how badly I wanted to kiss you right then and there." "You should have." Kurt smirked. "I for one wouldn't have stopped you." "Oh, I know that now," Blaine grinned. "But I didn't want my ex having to be in the same moment. I'm trying to make my life in Dalton as perfect as I can manage it to be. I just want it different." Kurt was silent for a while, and then he sat up, looking more curious than anything. He looked at Blaine and said, "Seeing as how we're nowofficial I think I have the leverage to ask this right out. what made you come to Dalton? Whatwhat happened?" Blaine stared at him for a moment, then sighed and turned to the books. He closed took one of them in his hands, turning it over as he spoke. "I was also one of the few out kids in my old school. I wasn't alone, like youbut we got bullied all the same. Some days were worse than othersand sometimes we got away with actually eating lunch before our trays were tossed back into our shirts. If it had just been me, it wouldn't have been that bad, I think. I could've really put up with itbutthere was someone else I had to protect." Kurt eyed him. "Yourboyfriend?"

Blaine shook his head. "No. I had to protect Shane." Kurt stared at him in surprise. Blaine shook his head. "It's a really long story." "I have time," Kurt said immediately, looking intently at him. "I want to hear it. You sat and heard everything on my end. It's my turn to hear yours, Blaine." There was a pause, and Blaine said, "You remember those photos over my desk? The ones that didn't have Warblers? Those would be from back then. The photo in the middlethat was me, Shane, Micah, Erin and Jude." Blaine laughed hollowly. "People who were okay with us teased us that we were the "Fab Five" because we were all gay, apparently butthe bullies called us the "Fag Five". And every time, they would just" he let out his breath. Kurt tightened his hold on his hand. "Of those fiveonly me and Shane are left," Blaine muttered. He shook his head. "the bulliesthey went too far with Jude. We don't know what happened, there was never really any proof, and it didn't even happen on school grounds But we found out Jude got killed because he washe was beaten, like a whipped dog, and left in some alley. He was half dead when they found himand he didn't make it." Blaine's eyes were misting over but he looked angry. "And damn it, it was after, way after we had all heard some of those jocks saying that they would really like to beat him until he's practically dead. We couldn'twe couldn't help Jude! He justhe was there one minute and then he was gone. We were just at his funeral and staring at him." Blaine sighed and looked at Kurt. "When I heard Karofsky threatened your life, I thought I was going to die when you disappeared during Dwight's party. It just couldn't happen to me again. I didn't want that ever again." Kurt shook his head and just kept their hands together. After a weak shrug, Blaine said, "After Jude was gone, that just left me, Micah, Erin and Shane. And Shanehe wasn't even officially out yet, but he had so much secondhand abuse from the bullies that I couldn't I couldn't stand and watch. I lived every day worrying that they'll hit him too hard. I tried everything, I tried protecting him, I tried keeping a head up for him, I tried talking to administrationno onereallycared. And that was after Jude died, everyone thinking it was an accident or a mugging. "Erin couldn't handle the pressure, the thought that it could happen to any of us She eloped with her girlfriend from another school when she found out that someone sent her girlfriend mutilated photos of them kissing. We still talk butit's not the same. Then there were three. And I lived every day in fear that the school at large would find out that Shane and Micah were seeing each other." Kurt looked startled. Blaine nodded. "Shaneyou know what he's like. He lets everything, his emotions, get the better of him. He thought he was desperately in love with Micah and yeah, for a while, they were. He just puts everything in everything. But he wasn't careful about it. I would catch them kissing behind the gym during lunch period, holding hands when they thought the hall was empty I was happy for them, but their safety was at risk. "and then Shane started bringing Micah back home. And Kurt, if you thought it was bad

at school, at home was worse. Shane and I were so far in the closet that the both of us agreed to take girls out just to keep up appearances for dad and mom. Mainly for dad. MomI think she knew. She justshe just never said anything. As though it'd go away if she didn't say it out loud." "Your mom" Kurt stared. Blaine shook his head and just looked down at his hands. "Dad came home early one time. Micah was in our house, making out with Shane the couch, if you can believe it. I told them a million, million timesdon't do things in the house. In our house. I don't know what got into them. But Shane had just ducked into the kitchen, and Micah was on the couch practically half naked, and I came downstairs just as dad came in." Kurt was white in shock, hand at his throat and staring. Blaine nodded. "I had a million scenarios, you know, of how I was going to come out to Dad. I really wanted to, you know. Just so he would stop talking about how disgusting being gay apparently was. Never in all that did I imagine that I was going to come outbecause I would end up saying that Micah was my boyfriend, and that I brought him home. And that I was gay." Blaine managed a forced, bitter laugh. "It was the worst and best moment of my life so far. Me, explaining how Micah and I had been dating forever! All the things we did. And in some really weird way it felt amazing to finally just tell the truth. I feltout. It just felt like I could breathe. "And all the time, from behind dad, I could see Shane in the kitchen, looking dead white and horrified and I could tellhe wanted with every bone in his body to come running out and tell dad that it wasn't true, but I just looked at him and shook my head. I knew what dad was capable of. And someone as emotional and downright sensitive as Shane will never live it down." He looked bitter. "The fireworks were unprecedented. I thought dad was going to kill me and his yellingthe whole block must've heard. He threw Micah out onto the bricks, and me into his gun cabinet, did you know? Like he couldpound the gay out of me. I just laughed and took it. I wasn't myself anymore, I just couldn't care less. I was gay, and he knew, and that was it. Mom shewell she watched. She tried holding dad back after she saw I was bleeding, but that wasn't after a good fifteen minutes." He licked his lips nervously and laughed a little. "ButI don't think mom could've helped anyway. And Micah? He disappeared. Never saw him againmaybe dad threatened him, I don't know. But it broke Shane's heart and I lost my friend. "It got really bad at home after that. Dad seemed convinced that I wasn't really gay. He just kept trying to "turn me straight". I was the eldest, soI kind of had a lot riding on me. We fought a lot, until we just ended up not talking for a while, and every day, Shane would go up to me saying that he really wanted to take some of the heat off me by telling dad the truth. That it was his fault. But that only would've made things worse. It's bad enough that one son was gay What would Dad do to me and Shane if Shane came out too? He'd probably think I 'contaminated' him. Shane wasn't even the favoriteI had been." He waved it away, "And soafter things at home got bad I started to crack under pressure in school, with the bullying, threats Before I came out, I could take comfort that

I could be alone at home, where Shane and I would be safe. But after I came outit wasn't good anywhere. Something justhad to give. And that something was me." He let out his breath in a long sigha breath that carried the weight of the world and an immeasurably heavy heart. "so I ran. I just snapped and I ran like crazy. Iwent to Dalton. I practically demanded to board. I couldn't stay at home, at my old school, one more minute. I couldn't take everything anymore. I ran. I got too scared, it got too hardI just up and left Shane alonebecause I couldn't handle it all anymore. I had to come here, Kurt. Courage couldn't save me." He was starting to weep. It was the worst to him, Kurt saw; the fact that he left Shane to fend for himself. Kurt took Blaine into his arms, pulling him against him and pressing his lips into his hair. Blaine didn't cry, he only let the hot, angry tears fall in silence. As though he refused to crack again. His armor was perfect. But that armor wasn't on him as a knightit was on him to protect him from the world. He put his hand on Kurt's arm. "don't. I really don't want to do this anymore. You've got enough" "I want to," Kurt answered fervently, holding him even tighter. "You've had enough. You've had more than enough. You've held it all togetherfor your friends, Shane, and meso for godssake, let someone else hold you together for a change. And let it be me for once." Blaine held Kurt in silence, and his grip tightened for one moment of weakness. "I want to be selfish. I want to be selfish just oncejust for thisyou. And I can't let Logan have his wayyou'll see something terrible come out of me the next time he tries, I'm telling you that now. I don't want you to ever see it, but at this point, I think it'll happen. I can't lose you, Kurt." "Rein it in," Kurt smirked a little. "I'm not going anywhere." He moved so he was now directly in front of him, never more serious in his life. "Listen to me. Hey!" He snapped his fingers to get Blaine to look at him. "Listen to me. All thatit's never going to happen again. Do you understand? I won't let it happen again. I'm notI'm not your damsel-indistress, and for that matter, if you treat me as one, I will throw you into the fountain." He smiled just slightly. "I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. And you better not either." He held his hands tight, leaning their foreheads together. "no one's running. We've got this." Blaine just smiled. He lifted Kurt's hands to his lips and kissed them tenderly. "may I ask? When did you get to be this perfect?" "Didn't you hear? I was born that way," Kurt's smile grew into a grin. Blaine laughed softly, leaned forward and closed the distance between their lips in a long, slow kiss that Kurt returned. As he released Kurt, whose eyes remained closed, Blaine murmured, "Welldon't ever let anyone convince you otherwise." "Trust me," Kurt smiled a little up at him, "never going to happen."

Every year, through private caucus, the Warblers select a particularly excellent Warbler someone whose talents and efforts deserved recognitionto be given a most unusual honor: and that was to become the caretaker of a real warbler. The incumbent warbler of honor, Pavarotti, was something of a novelty; a warbler that had a lineage that went many generations back, and clearly someone whose Legacy far outweighed most students in Dalton today. Pavarotti had been given to Logan last year for his excellence in leading the Warblers as their lead singer. The little warbler now resided in a beautifully crafted cage that hung from an elegant golden stand that resided in the anteroom on the third floor. Unfortunately, that anteroomwhich became almost a small common roomwas led to three other doorways, two of which were Logan and Derek's. Care needed to be taken. Normally, breaking into Stuart House wouldn't be that much of a challenge to the experienced twins, but after having broken into Stuart approximately eight and a half times and with Logan expecting retaliation, they had to admit that security was good. The Twins returned from their spy mission with disappointing news to those assembled in the common room. They made sure Blaine was out of the way by convincing Dwight to get the acting prefect out of the House for a short while. While Kurt was in Windsor, such a task proved to be a challenge, but Dwight rose to the occasion by taking some bright red paint and painting a huge enchanted sigil onto Blaine's windshield, claiming that he was purifying it from demons. That got the prefect's attention pretty quick, and as far as anyone knew, Blaine was still running after Dwight at this very moment. "They've got new latches in their windows" Evan reported importantly to the conspirators. "Their door locks have been changed. And thanks to some extremely generous contributing, their room doors now need keycards." "Key cards?" Wes snorted. "What are they, the CIA? Not even the Teacher's Quarters have keycard locks." "You only have yourselves to blame," Reed rebuked from where he was nursing a stubbed toehis second within the last six hours. "You broke in so many times that they've taken drastic measures." "I'm pretty sure that their security cams are fake" Ethan murmured, looking contemplative. "But I can't be sure. Overall, we'll need the opinion of an expert." Kurt, from where he was curled up on the couch, going through the exam scope for Biology and Environmental Studies, frowned. "So at the rate you're going, you're not experts?" "Oh Alice," Evan said with a kind smile. "You flatter us." "But really, the person we're talking about" Ethan nodded, almost melodramatically. "He's the Mycroft to our Holmes. He would've been amazing, if only he had the physical drive and ambition as we did."

"You're talking about breaking into Stuart Housewhich I totally disapprove of, by the way," Kurt frowned. "Your "ambition" is clearly to get expelled." "Please don't tell your Rabbit, Alice!" the Twins begged, piling themselves onto him and he, in turn, swatted their hands off with his book. "Don't tell himhe'll be such a wet blanket about it all" "I'm not going to tell Blainelet go of me!" Kurt glowered at them and ran a hand smoothly over his bangs to make sure they remained in perfect condition. "But this is only because whatever it is, Logan will have it coming for once." He frowned into his book again. "I can't believe he told my parents all those things." "You sure you don't want to come with us during the break in?" Wes grinned, relishing the fact that their newcomer wasn't completely opposed to this idea, meaning that his transformation was almost complete. "You can give him comeuppance yourself." "No, I'm not interested in committing a crime." The Twins looked at each other, and then grinned at him. "How about meeting the Caterpillar? You've been here a while and you've never met him. You really should. He's interesting." Kurt glanced at them, raising his eyebrows. The Twins only ever named people they were particularly interested in with Wonderland names. "Caterpillar?" Kurt had never been to the upper floors all that much. Windsor was an edifice of five floors, but he had never gone past the third because he had no reason to. As far as he knew, they were all the same anyway. The fourth floor was a quiet place that looked a little less beaten by crazy antics than the lower floors. Some doors had students' names on them, others were empty rooms. He followed Reed and the Twins down the hall until they reached a door that wasn't wooden and completely unalike the rest. It had no latch, no knockerit was a white, metal panel with a black rectangular LED screen on the door. They hadn't even properly approached it when the rim of the screen turned red, flashing urgently. The Twins smiled. "He knows we're here." Kurt stared at them suspiciously, but the screen suddenly flashed and words appeared.


"Tweedles," the Twins chorused happily, almost on autopilot after so many times. A pause. And then:


"He can see us?" Kurt said disbelievingly.


"Come on now, you know Reed," Evan grinned brightly. "And Alice! You've seen them before." "He has?" Reed stared, looking a little afraid now. There was another pause. And then the screen "spoke" again.


"Didn't we just tell whatever thisthing is?" Kurt snapped, looking irritated and realizing that he apparently hadn't quite gotten knee deep into Windsor's crazy yet. "He wants you to say it yourselves," said Ethan helpfully. "For voice identification." Reed and Kurt looked at each other. Kurt rolled his eyes, but Reed came forward goodnaturedly. "Reed Van Kamp! The Dormouse!" he said to the screen. He elbowed his friend after. Kurt sighed deeply and decided to humor the situation. "Kurt Hummel." The Twins and Reed looked at him with expectant eyebrows, and he glared back, but he added, "Alice." Automatically, the door began to hiss, shooting a powerful stream of thick dry ice mist from under its bottom slat. Kurt and Reed jumped back, nearly into the twins, as the door slid sideways and provided entrance into a dark room, dimly lit with many glimmering squares within. The Twins readily stepped inside. Reed and Kurt hung around outside, clearly unwilling, so two identical arms shot out of the door and pulled them into the cold darkness. As soon as they stepped inside, the door hissed shut. There was a moment of silenceand the sound of someone shuffling around in the room. "A little light, please," Ethan said patiently. "Alice and the Dormouse aren't used to you, Han." "Oh, right," came a voice that sounded a little flustered. There was more shuffling in the room, someone bumping into something metallic, and finally, lights rose, fluorescent from above. Kurt stared around him in shock. There was a carpet of smoke on the ground, and it came from tubs of dry ice that flanked what must be a massive computer. It had a tower of data storage next to it, and there had to be more than one of its kind in the room. The room itself was almost nothing like the living areas in the rest of the dorm. The sleeping area had been reduced to a futon on the ground, right next to what had to be thousands of dollars worth of gaming and animation paraphernalia. "Sorry it's so cold," came the voice from earlier. "But it's the only way I can properly keep all the systems coolI mean they'll totally overheat if I don'tthe air conditioners just don't cut it sometimes" Kurt looked around to find the source of the voice, and his eyes finally rested on a young man pushing away a shelf that blinked with a multitude of server lights. His dark hair was

cropped close and he was wearing a white shirt covered by a massive wool jacket. He looked at them through glasses that nearly hid away brown eyes. "Alice," said Evan happily, "Meet the Caterpillar." "Hey," nodded the boy. He stumbled to them, tripping over wires on the ground for a moment, hand extended. "I'm Han Westwood." Kurt shook hands with him, staring in confusion. Han shrugged. "I don't go out much. I like it indoors." "Wecan see that" Reed murmured at all the computers. Some were playing music, some movies, others doing odd processes that involved a great deal of scripting and coding. "You have to get out more, Han," said Evan plaintively. "All this radiation is making you glow," Ethan added. "Hey, the world is your playground; it just so happens that the internet is mine." Han picked up a nearby can of Mountain Dew and popped it open. After a drink, he looked at them calmly. "So you want to break into Stuart House?" "I'm sorryhow did you know that, you weren't even there?" Kurt stared. "I have sensors that pick up pretty awesome things from time to time," Han smiled a little. "Come on, I'll show you." He walked to what may be the "throne"it was a huge cushioned chair that sat behind no less than six massive flatscreens that were connected together. Han's glasses reflected the light from the screens as he sat. He cleared his throat and pulled on a headset, and then began typing. From one of the screens, he clicked away a window that was playing Misfits and pulled up a grainy view of the Windsor common room. Reed stared with wide eyes, nearly tripping over a cable. "Hey!" Han protested. "Watch it you'll interrupt my download!" "You have this whole House bugged?" Kurt demanded, scandalized. "And some parts of the school, but don't tell anyone," Han muttered as he typed rapidly, posting something onto a website. "I mean, I did bug the place, but I don't actually look through the footage unless I really hear something interesting come on." He tapped his headset. "And even then, I hardly listen. I have a hundred thousand mp3s, flacs and podcastsI don't need to hear ordinary conversation about how Derek is killing a varsity team again or how you and Blaine made out on the roof deck in New York. Whatever you guys do down thereit's not really my thing." His last sentence curbed the look of murder Kurt was giving the twins, who looked angelic. "But you heard that we wanted to break into Stuart?" Evan raised an eyebrow. "Certainly," Han responded smoothly, saving photos as he spoke. "Because that,

Tweedle, is interesting." He suddenly pulled up a screen that had a good view of Stuart House. From the height of the angle, Kurt suspected it came from a lamppost. "We need to get into their locks," Ethan said plainly. "But they've changed into keycards after we broke in the last time." "Ooh" Han was smirking, typing rapidly and clicking away with his mouse at a speed that made Reed wonder why the mousepad was not on fire. "Bad move, Stuart. Keycards, huh? Hey Hummel, pass me that box on the shelf next to you." Kurt saw the box easilyit was in blinding video game colorsblowing some dust off it and gingerly handing it to him. Han took it from him and popped the lid open, pulling out a gadget that no one recognized, until he also took out a handful of plastic cards of various decors. Reed realized what the machine was for. "You'regoing to give us copies of their cards?" "Uh huh" Han was typing very quickly and then he connected the machine onto his computer. He worked with a strange program for a few moments. "So we need codes Let me just see if I can find a backdoor into the system on Murdoch'swow, that was easy. Come on, Stuart, this is not security; this is an invitation. So!" he made a few clicks. "You need to get into the anteroom where Pavarotti is kept." "Who's Pavarotti?" Kurt asked, puzzled. "A very special soon-to-be House Guest," Ethan said happily. The machine on the desk blinked green. Han smoothly picked up two cards and swiped them through the machine twice. Then he swiveled to the Twins, pushing up his glasses. To Ethan he handed a green Mario mushroom card. "This mushroom will get you in the maintenance door at the side of the House." To Evan, he handed the red Mario mushroom card. "And this will get you into the anteroom." "Bear in mind, that while I may or may not have put Logan Wright's room code in those cards, I'm not responsible for what you choose to do to him," he added with a smile. "Thank you, Han," the Twins grinned, holding their mushroom cards. "Heya deal is a deal." He shrugged. "You keep my headquarters here under wraps, I get you things." He now looked at Kurt. "You know, I can download the exam for you, so you know what's coming." Kurt gave him an incredulous look. Han blinked, disconcerted. "What? I can." "Pass," Kurt responded airily. "I can handle this on my own, thank you very much. And you bear in mind, that if you have bugged our rooms and you look into our room, I'll know about it and come up here, and we'll have a repeat performance of what I did to Tabitha." "Hey, I don't look into other dudes rooms," Han replied, hands up to him, blinking a little anxiously. "They leave me alone, I leave them alone. Unless I hear bloodcurdling screaming which means someone's being murdered, I won't look. And trust me, I've saved the House a couple of times from some serious fire damage. Chaz owes me big time."

"All right, we will get along, then," Kurt smiled. "Awesome. Now all of you leave so I can get back to my fielding some fanwars on my thread." The Caterpillar, as it turned out, really was a recluse. He was never otherwise seen in Windsor. No one actually talked about him, and Kurt began to assume that maybe only the Twins ever did actually see or talk to him. Everyone seemed to know his existence "Han? Yeah, he really likes his internet."but they didn't think that his reclusive behavior was anything to worry about. Kurt didn't have so much time to dwell on this, as the next day was the day of the exams. If Murdoch's side comments during classes were any indication, he ought to gird up his loins and tackle whatever hellish assessment exam was to be given to him. In the end, however, when Blaine saw the light beyond his half open door well past midnight, he knocked gently and entered to find Kurt sound asleep on the couch, face pressed to a notebook. Reed was sprawled on the plush carpet nearby, with a half finished artwork, fingers stained by pastels. Blaine smiled. He went in and turned out the overhead lights, lighting the golden lamp next to the couch instead. He very gently lifted up Kurt, making sure not to wake him as he lifted his cheek from the notebook. The spirals of the spine left marks on his cheek and he had to stop himself from a letting out a laugh. He moved the notebook away and replaced it with a cushion. As he did, he glanced at the pastel art that Reed had made. He stopped a moment, and gave it a closer look. It wasn't a complete drawing, but he knew those curls, and the intensity of the eyes that Reed had captured perfectly onto the paper. The eyes that looked up in wonder that very first time that Reed had ever met him. Blaine studied the sleeping boy on the carpet and wondered if Reed did hold something for his brother beyond the confusion. He had wept when Shane left without knowing why, and didn't that say anything? Reed's fingertips rested just at the edge of the half-drawn lips, sleeping innocuously. Maybe Reed was trying to figure things out still. Blaine turned back to Kurt gently putting a hand to his cheek. "Kurt?" he whispered carefully, seeing if he could still be awoken. He put his hand on his shoulder. "Kurt?" The other boy stirred. A flutter of nymph lashes. "Blaine?" "You shouldn't sleep here" Blaine murmured carefully. "You'll catch a cold" "Mm" the discussion was a lost cause. Kurt was falling asleep again, and Blaine no longer had the heart to wake him. As he moved through the room to pick up the two boys' comforters, Blaine was completely unaware that just outside, in the hall, four figures slipped stealthily past. They moved soundlessly down the hall, towards the window in the alcove at the end of it, lifting the latch silently.

The window opened. Wind whistled lightly through the branches of the trees that they leapt ontoonly two looked truly graceful, like cats, even as they bounded over the branches. The other two were less agile, but followed steadily with sure footing. These four shadows took a last glance at Windsor before turning around and heading for Stuart House, windows all darkened, in the distance. When Blaine left Kurt's room, after making sure that both boys would stay warm, he saw the open window. He felt a little puzzled, but assumed it must have been forgotten. He closed the window, unaware that in the House just within view, a card decorated with a green Mario mushroom slid through the lock of the maintenance door, admitting the four figures in. As soon as the four slipped in and the door closed silently, the Twins' figures crossed the short hall and peered into the largeness of the Stuart entrance hall. They never needed to speak to one another, and both moved immediately. As they passed the entryway to the kitchen, David took one look in and shook his head. "Stuart House has a serious obsession with coffee." "I heard that if you wound a Stuart, they bleed espresso," Wes remarked with a grin. "Shh!" Evan hissed, eyes glinting as they reflected the faint light. "This way." It was risky enoughStuart House was awake past when most normal people would be, mainly because more than half of them were still studying with great effort. The trouble with Stuart House was that a vast majority of its occupants were incredibly willful, driven, and absolutely talented, more so than in other houses. As a result, they could be quite competitive with one another, and always strove to return with excellent grades. This was something that happy-go-lucky Windsor wasn't quite prepared to adapt. The second floor began to make things complicated. It had been dark, but just as the group arrived at the landing, a Stuart student emerged from a door and was in the hall, carrying a stack of photocopies. The student looked up when he heard the noise that resulted from the Twins, Wes and David crushing themselves into a pile on the other end of the mezzanine. Puzzled, the student walked towards their direction. It was dark enough everywhere, but they couldn't risk being seen at all. "Oh crap!" David hissed as the student approached. Evan quickly started to fumble with his fanny pack, and Ethan grabbed the item from him. It was a massive jawbreaker. The Tweedle twin then made a dramatic throw, much like a pro baseball player, which sent the jawbreaker flying through air, into the darkness, and onto the stairs, pounding noisily as it bounced down. This caught the student's attention, and he went to investigate in that direction. Exhaling in relief, the troop immediately fled soundlessly down the hall. They could see their quarry alreadythe door at the end of the hall. Ethan took out his red mushroom card and swiped it into the lock, but nothing happened.

"What the?" he hissed. "Maybe it was too fasttry again!" Wes hissed. The second swipe still failed. The student was coming back upstairs. Ethan hissed what might have been a curse or an incantation over his card, before swiping it again. The lock turned green. The boys disappeared into the room, the door closing just as the student came up. The quarry was at the windowed side of the anteroom. Pavarotti's pretty cage was covered with a cloth, to prevent the bird from getting disturbed as it slept. The Twins approached it very gingerly. They were aware that if they moved the cage too much, the bird might wake, chirp or sing, and the game would be over. With great care, they began to lift the cage away from the hook. A small, rather unafraid twitter sounded inside, and the four boys froze. Derek's door opened, and the varsity captain glanced around, certain that he'd heard a bit of a commotion. He had always been a light sleeperhe had been ever since he woke up to being completely covered by what must have been glue and feathers thanks to one time the Twins decided to break in. He saw that the anteroom was empty. With no reason to look at the bird, believing it to be perfectly safe, he walked out of the anteroom and into the hallway, just as the Windsor boys, Pavarotti in tow, disappeared down the stairs. But just to make sure, Ethan threw a distraction. Derek looked up as a jawbreaker bounced up to his feet. He bent down and picked it up, feeling more apprehensive by the moment. But before he could head downstairs, the maintenance door had opened, and the conspirators were flying back to Windsor. The day of the exam rose, along with a general exclamation of surprise in the common room. The first few students who woke spoke hearing a little bit of song and peered in to find the noteworthy warbler in the common room, with a pair of very happy Brightmans downright spoiling him by loading its feeding tray. While Kurt was mildly fascinated by the sight of the golden cage that had been so dramatically revealed in the Windsor common room, Blaine looked furious. "What the hell?" he demanded, gesturing to the bird. "You stole Pavarotti from Stuart House?" The bird twittered a response at him that sounded more amused than anything. Kurt peered into the cage with a frown. The bird responded by giving him a chirp that acknowledged the blue-eyed boy. Kurt glanced back to the way Blaine was glowering at the Twins. "I want to know exactly what went through your heads," Blaine said, glaring. "Because

pranks like water balloons and glue and feathers are one thing, but stealing the prize warbler is something else. If Harvey and Medel hear about this" "They won't find out!" shrugged Evan. Blaine's fingers were pressed to his temples in frustration. "All right that bird? Everyone knows Pavarotti. And everyone knows that Pavarotti was given with a whole lot of pomp and circumstance to Logan. And as far as can tell, Stuart's pretty damn proud of that. And they're not going to take the fact that you broke into their dorm againhow did you do that, by the way? They've got key cards, and please tell me that you didn't get Han to hack into their security" "Well Han was more than happy to" Ethan said thoughtfully. "Stuart is not going to take this lying down," Blaine snapped. "Oh no," Wes shook his head, arms crossed over his chest. "They wouldn't dare. Like you saidstealing Pavarotti is insane. And Windsor doesn't pull out insane unless it's particularly deserved." "The Stuarts will start to wonder why we pulled this one," David explained. "Stealing Pavarotti is like calling for World War IIIand when they ask, Logan can't tell them why." "Wait." Kurt turned away from the little warbler and looked at them. "Why can't he?" "Dalton House rules," Reed said, rocking on a bean bag chair, feet tucked under him. His face was still streaked with some pastel. "No one tells. Anything. Ever. Logan broke that rule when he told your parents things. And not even Stuart will appreciate that." "Derek'll get pissed off for sure," snorted Wes. "Because Logan will have to tell him that Windsor retaliated because he broke a rulejust to get you back from Blaine." "Get me back?" Kurt echoed, the note of righteous fury starting to fill his voice. Dwight backed up immediately, clutching his talismans. Kurt stepped forward to Wes almost menacingly, "When was I ever his?" "Whoaeasy!" Wes backed to the piano in the common room, staring at him. "I didn't say that!" "I'm not a trophy!" Kurt snapped, turning to look at Blaine. "What will it take to get him to understand that? He's got to stop doing this because I'm really starting to get sick of it!" he headed for the doors and flounced out, striding into the open. "Kurt!" Blaine ran after him. As he reached the door he turned back, pointing at the Twins. "Pavarotti had better be alive when we get backif Windsor kills that bird, heads will roll!" And he ran after Kurt. He reached the other boy just as he got halfway to the Main. "Kurt! Kurtwait." "Why?" Kurt asked indignantly. "He doesn't seem to be waiting, Blaine! He's playing us like we're chess pieces and he has to be stopped! He's acting spoiled, petulant, and let me tell you somethingI will not stand here and let him get in the way of my own life!"

"I won't let you confront him like this when you're angry," Blaine snapped back. "Because Logan is running around unmedicated. If you blow up in his face, I guarantee you he'll push back." "Then I will tell him to take his freaking medication!" Kurt retorted, pushing past him. Blaine caught his arm in a powerful grip, pulled him back, and pulled him close tightly against him in such a way that Kurt could barely move. "Blaine!" he cried, trying to get free. "Stop, okay, just stop." Blaine's tone was quiet, firm, and final. He wasn't letting go. Kurt stood, fuming, glaring at him, but Blaine never batted an eye. "Stop thinking about him, Kurt." "Why not? He's helping himself with interfering with my life as we know it." "And right now, you're playing right into his hands." Kurt stared. "What?" Blaine pulled away slightly. "Think about it. You're angry. You're going to go out there and confront him. You'll ruin your composure, your focus, and most importantly, the exam. And then you'll land into Stuart's hands. And he gets what he wantedyou. In close proximity." Blaine raised his eyebrows. "Don't underestimate that guy. He likes getting what he wants." Kurt leaned his temple onto his fingertips, looking frustrated. "I told him myself. You heard me tell him. Why can't he just get it in his head that you're the one I" He shook his head. Blaine embraced him, kissing his cheek gently. "I know. And don't worryhe knows. and that's why he's doing this. He justcan't stand to not get what he wants." He gave him a nudge and smirked. "You know what'll really sting? If his plan doesn't work out. If you pass, you stay with us." Kurt glanced at him and sighed. He clenched his fists but did not throw them. "Fine. I'm still going to throttle him for this right after." "You are more than welcome to afterand I'm going with you," Blaine said with a smile. "Logan should realize that we're not going anywhere." "Yeah" Kurt nodded, holding his hand. He shook his head. "He justhe just has to be made to understand." The rest of the day passed in a blur of tests, papers, questions and answers. By the time Kurt staggered out of his last exam, he realized that it had been a good idea to listen to Blaine. If he had gone ahead and confronted Logan before all this, it would have been physically and emotionally impossible to complete all this hoop-jumping he had to go through. The other two new students who took the exams looked even worse than he did.

He had the opportunity to think when, at one point, he got absolutely stuck at one fearsomely complicated calculus problem. He had the chance to think about what he wanted to do or say. As time passed, he became calmer, and he remembered why Logan didn't take his medication. He got worked up earlier, and it made him forget that Logan didn't like his medication because he was looking for a reason to feel. Everything else was simply collateral damage. "When I'm numb I just don't feel happy or sad, even when you're there. This me, Kurt this is who I really am. And I'm sorry that I'm a terrible person when I'm not medicated, but the truth isbut the truth is this is the me that's horribly, ridiculously in love with you and I just can't do anything about it!" Kurt shook his head as he leaned against one of the shelves in the hall. Logan knew what he would become. It's just that he started to stop caring. He just wanted to feelthe way everyone else did. Even if his rage became dangerous. It was something he could feel. And he hated, most of allthe fact that he couldn't feel anything even when Kurt was near.

I can't be the reason for you to change, Kurt thought to himself as he pulled his bag up. It's not right for me to be. because I just don't think I can help you the way you want me to.
"Hello." Kurt nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw Julian in the hall, smiling. Hair slicked back and uniform perfectly unkempt, the celebrity said, "I'm Julian. And I know you from Logan's pining."

Does everyone in Stuart know? Kurt turned red, frowning at him. Julian saw his expression and just smiled in the signature way he had perfected over countless photo shoots. "Come with me."
"What for?" Kurt asked, wary. "You're looking for Logan, aren't you?" Julian answered with a smile. "I heard you and Blaine in the grounds. I'll take you to him." Kurt remembered the warning given to himabout whose side Julian was on. But at this point, the only way to stop all this is if he went to enemy territory. Julian was already walking. Kurt managed to send a surreptitious text to Blaine, telling him where he was. To his surprise, he saw Julian leading him to Warblers Hall. "You're a Warbler?" "No," Julian said coolly. "I already have single out. I don't need it." He motioned for him to come closer. "Look." Still suspicious, Kurt nevertheless approached and peered into the door. There wasn't much to see, but he could see two figures sitting on the piano bench. Kurt recognized Medel in a beautiful flowy dress, sitting on the left, but her hands were not on the piano.

Logan's hands were. He sat next to her, blazer already shed, and playing a song, which he was singing to.

Something always brings me back to you. It never takes too long. No matter what I say or do I'll still feel you here 'til the moment I'm gone.
At the first lines to "Gravity", Kurt felt a little startled. He had never heard it sung quite that way beforein a manner that seemed so unlike Logan's usual colorful voice. He kept playing anyway.

Set me free, leave me be. I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity. Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I'm supposed to be. But you're on to me and all over me
And suddenly, Medel made him stop. She turned to look at him, a little concerned. "Logan what's wrong?" "what do you mean?" That soft tone. Kurt had heard it once before. It was in Central Park. When he had looked and felt so numb. Julian noticed his recognition and said, "He's really trying, Hummel. He knows he has to take the medication from time to time He doesn't like itbut he does anyway." Medel said to Logan, "I just don'twell You know how your songs are just filled with emotion sometimes? It's not here now, Logan. You're singing it for the sake of singing it. You don'tfeel it." Kurt turned away. He didn't want to hear this. "What color does Windsor paint of him, Hummel?" Julian asked coolly with a smile. "Pretty bad, huh? It's not a wonder you look bewildered to find he's human" "Why is he in there with Medel?" Kurt asked by way of diverting the topic. "Trouble back at Stuart. Somehow we lost something importanta real live warbler. And for some reason, Derek is furious. Because the blame all points to Logan, and something he did that "wasn't worth destroying himself for". I don't know, maybe he took it too hard. Logan took his medication soon after that. He told me he wanted to go here. Andtry. Or something. Try to sing? Try to remember? Try to forget?" Julian eyed him as he said softly, "Do you thinkhe's trying to forget you, Kurt?" Kurt swallowed and said nothing, starting intently at Logan at the piano. Julian continued, "AnywayMedel heard him and got worriedso she came in. Medel still looked concerned. "Can you sing the bridge for me? And this time, please try,

Logan. You can do better than this, I know you can." When the music resumed, Kurt found himself inside the room, walking to the boy on the piano. Logan's emotion, and the color of his voice with it, vanished with the medication. He lost himself entirely. And this was what he was trying to say all along. Logan raised his eyes and saw him as he played. At first, he looked a little startled, and Kurt recognized that haze in his eyes. Kurt shook his head, gripping his bag, with an expression that urged him to singto sing the way he used to that first time he crossed the room and met him at the same piano. He missed his cue. Medel glanced up to see Kurt, but she just smiled a little and turned to Logan. "Try again," she said amiably. Logan looked from her, then to Kurt. Kurt stared back, and for a moment, as Logan began to play, he thought he saw a spark of life return.

I live here on my knees as I try to make you see that you're everything I think I need here on the ground. But you're neither friend nor foe though I can't seem to let you go. The one thing that I still know is that you're keeping me down
That song. This was why Logan wanted to go Warblers Hall. He was trying to feel through song. It made Kurt wonder if that was what he was doing the first time he met him. And now, with that small spark of life he gained, Kurt finally heard Logan sing again. It was a weak comparison to his real talent, but he was trying. He was really trying. Medel still didn't look pleased. She knew fully well what Logan was capable of, and this was not it. He needed something else. Something more. She dug through her folder, and carefully pulled out a song. "Logancan you try this one?" She then rose and looked to Kurt, handing him sheets. "If it's all rightcan you sing with him for this one? BecauseI'm just a little worried. He didn't sound like himself." Kurt, already holding the sheet music, couldn't say no. But Logan himself said, "Kurt might not feel comfortable with this." The look he gave him made Kurt realize that Logan knew what he had done to him. That he had struck the low blow. That he had acted out of desperation. And for the love of all that is good, please leave and never come back. Kurt sat next to him on the piano, surprising him. He hated being put in the middle like this, that was true enough. He wanted to hate him, he wanted to scream at him. He wanted everything for his being such an interference and for being so manipulative. For hurting Blaine. Hurting himself. Hurting him. And everyone else. But when you're that lostyou needed someone to pull you to a safe place. Logan had

wandered too far in, and now no one else seemed to want to come pull him back even a little bit. Logan would always be alone, fighting his own battles, looking for a lifeline that always seemed to snap at the worst time. And Kurt, who knew how that felt, couldn't bring himself to hate him for that at the very least. He couldn't give him love. But he could be there. Just for a while. So he dove in. "I'll sing it. With you." Logan looked at him with a strange expression. Kurt looked back at him without fear, without concern. "I promised you I'd help." The green eyes began to grow a bit clearer somewhat. Without a word, he stared to him in gratitude? Respect? Downright shame? Whatever it was, it made Kurt turn away and back to the keys. Under Medel's eye, Logan now began to play. He sat just a hair's breadth away from Kurt's skin, the two of them not looking at each other as he began to sing.

Everyone's around, no words are coming out And I can't find my breath, can we just say the rest with no sound? And I know this isn't enough, I still don't measure up I'm not prepared; sorry is never there when you need it And I do want you to know I'll hold you up above everyone
Medel's expression spoke words of amazement without a sound. Even Julian came in from where he was lurking by the door. Logan was singing again. Just like that time beforewhen he could sing because he found someone or something to sing to. Kurt's smile threatened to tug at his lips, but he pushed it down, tucked it away, in a place far from this, where he began to sing with Logan. And I do want you to know

I think you'd be good to me And I'd be so good to you

Kurt took the words now, turning to the black and white keyboard. He closed his eyes.

I thought I saw a sign somewhere between the lines But maybe it's me, maybe I only see what I want

and I still have your letter, just got caught between Someone I just invented, who I really am and who I've become
The two of them glanced at each other just once as they continued to sing:

And I do want you to know I'll hold you up above everyone And I do want you to know I think you'd be good to me And I'd be so good to you I'd be good to you, I'd be good to you, I'd be good to you, I'd be so good to you I'd be good to you, I'd be good to you I'd be good to you, I'd be so good to you
The song trailed away. Medel stood staring at them both in amazement, the two who sat at the piano, hands on the keys, fingers so close yet not touching. She had heard Kurt sing alone, and sing with Blaine. He had been wonderful both times, but there was something different when he sang with Logan, something new. It was awkward, hopeful and something terribly sad. As though they had disappointed each other in some distant way, as they sang together in a time that they could never come back to. She looked down at her setlist, and back to them. Carefully, taking the sheet music from the stand (the two paid little attention), she murmured, "Thisthis isn't anything final we're still having long deliberations butwould you consider singing thisfor Regionals?" Blaine came out of class and found Wes and David by the couches, waiting for him. He smiled at them, and glanced around the way he always did, hoping to sight Kurt and ask how his classes went. Kurt wasn't around yet, but his exam should have finished already. He was about to pull out his phone and call him, when he heard someone yell. "Blaine!" He looked up. To his surprise, he saw Han and Dwight. Han looked white in the face, and Dwight equally horrified. They were running desperately to him. Han was holding a printout and a phone. Dwight's hands were shaking when they reached out and touched his arms. And when Han spoke, Blaine understood little beyond a terrible cold coming over his

entire body. That dread that filled him with immeasurable horror.

Blaine Han was speaking to him, BlaineI saw thison the web
Where was this breathlessness coming from?

It hasn't reached us yetandand it just got reported in

Dwight was shaking Blaine, trying to get a rise out of him. Say something, Blaine! that a mountain climbing party had vanishedafter a rock slide That flash of color as Reed walked in at entirely the wrong moment Blaineyour brotherhe was one of them...on the list Blaine closed his eyes and sank to his knees.

Episode 19: Paint The Windsors were gathered in the common room, all of them sitting or standing around the couch, all eyes trained onto the widescreen screen on the wall. The news of the accident had spread like wildfire, with mobiles going off in the halls, with messages that sent them all ducking back to their House where their acting prefect had run to the instant Han and Dwight gave him the news. The Twins looked uncharacteristically serious, staring at the screen and waiting for the news to come on. They had all seen the bulletin whizz by that said a news segment would speak of the accident. Dwight was nowhere to be found, but Wes and David flanked Blaine from where the acting prefect was standing by the window, the phone at his ear and fingers pressed to the bridge of his nose, looking as though he were holding himself down again. "Yestell them it's an emergency," Blaine muttered, with great patience in his voice. "I know. Tell them it's Blaine. And that Shane's beenhe's had an accident up in the mountains andand it would really help if they knew about it. Yes, I knowthank you." He hung up. "Don't tell me," Wes stared at him in disbelief. "Still out at some business dinner, party, or something," Blaine answered as he crossed the room to the couch. Everyone immediately made room, Reed vacating the spot in the middle that he'd saved for him. Blaine's hand shook just slightly as he put his phone into his pocket. "This is ridiculous, your parents can't be out of contact at a time like this!" David burst out. "Would you like to give it a try?" Blaine whispered in a very restrained tone that implied danger if David continued to state the obvious. David just shook his head and turned away. Blaine only ever got testy when he was really stressed at any rate. The program blatted on in the television, Blaine hardly paying attention as he sat lost in thought. At that instant, the doors to the common room flew open with Kurt running in, flushed with running. Blaine immediately rose and moved to him as Kurt hurried to him and held him tightly in his arms. "I just heardI'm so sorry I wasn't" Kurt flustered, holding him tight. "It's fine," Blaine murmured, hugging him tightly in return, clearly more tightly than he'd wanted to show. "It'sI don't have other news yet. TV hasn't Han's working on it" He just shook his head. He glanced up slightly, and gave a small start. Logan was standing at the doorway to the common room. Wes saw him and rose. "What's he doing here?" he demanded. "I'm right here, I can hear you," Logan muttered. "He heard the news," Kurt answered, looking at Blaine. "We were talking to Medel in

Warblers Hall. He" he glanced at the other prefect. "He followed me." Blaine felt a little confused at this, and Logan could only shake his head as though he wished he could explain as well. The Twins stood in front of Pavarotti's cage nonchalantly, shielding him from view, but Logan just rolled his eyes at this. "I know you took Pavarotti and he's right there. I can hear him chirping." He sighed. "Besides, you distracted Derek with a jawbreaker, the thing that you embedded into a snowball you threw at him during the storm." The little warbler made a tiny chirp as though in answer, or maybe in approvalno one was ever sure, and the twins looked at each other sideways awkwardly. "oh." Kurt glared at the twins before he looked at Blaine and hugged him one more time. He led him back to the couch to have him sit down. "Have your parents said anything?" he asked. "They're unreachable," said Blaine, looking intently at him and holding his hands. "But I left a couple of dozen messages that even they wouldn't ignore." The common room received another outsider when Justin came running in, breathless. "I just heard from the Hanover Warblers! BlaineI'm sorry to hear it; I came here as soon as I could" He saw Logan and did a double take. "Oh. Hello, Logan. Didn't expect you here." Logan rolled his eyes. It was at these moments that he really realized how unusual his being sympathetic for any reason was. It was a testament to his reputation. The small speaker sitting on the table next to the couch crackled with static, making the people near it jump. Han's voice came out of the speaker, proving that the Caterpillar was again at work. Kurt had always wondered what it was for, and he realized that it was Han's means of communication to the outside world. "Pipe down, guys. News is coming on" And at the cue, the news segment finally aired, with everyone in the room staring intently at the screen. Blaine kept holding onto Kurt's hands as they both watched. The segment itself wasn't very long, but it was all they had right now. The newscaster reported that six teenagers from the Walcott School had set out on a mountain climbing trip some days after the New Year, with only one or two of them being actual members of a mountain climbing club. The rest had come along for the excursion, hoping to experience camping at high altitude. A rockslide had been reported not long after the boys had gone on their trip, and since then nothing has been heard from the group, who failed to return on their designated day. This meant that the climbers had been missing for over twenty-four hours as they spoke, and search parties were being sent out to find the teens who must have been in a serious accident, as their severed climbing cords had been found near where the slide occurred. Searchers are combing the rockslide area for any signs of life or bodies. The parents were currently being alerted, but for purposes of identification, the missing teenagers were all shown onscreen. Kurt felt it when Reed, pale and shaking, sank onto

the couch next to him the moment Shane's photographsmiling with his classmates appeared on the screen. Blaine's hand shook so much that Kurt had to cover it with his other one. All in all, this was almost too much for Blaine to look at and there was almost relief in the room when the segment ended with the newscaster claiming to make more updates as they come in. As soon as the news segment ended, the speaker crackled again. "Just so you know, I'm still tracking the news as they come in. I'll keep you guys updated. Hey Tweedlescome up here and get the walkies. So I can update you guys if anything important comes up. Blaine, I'm going to keep looking. I'mI'm really sorry about this." "What for, it's not your fault" Blaine answered, but the tone was so monotonous and rehearsed that Kurt realized that he must've been saying this exact line so many times that it ceased to mean anything except an automatic response. The prefect got up and walked out of the room, Kurt following after him and holding his hand, making to head upstairs. They passed the two prefects, Justin patting Blaine's shoulder as they went. Logan watched the two of them, their linked hands, as they left without even glancing at him. He lowered his gaze as they passed, and then glanced to the twins. The twins only blinked back at him curiously, and Logan muttered, "Take care of Pavarotti, or Harvey'll have a fit." And he simply left. As he walked through the foyer, he took out his phone and punched in some numbers. He wasn't far enough for Justin not to hear him say, "I'd like to talk to him. Yes, this is Logan." Justin looked puzzled, and then turned to them. "All right then. Better get cracking. We've got to do what we can, yeah?" "Whoa, whoa!" boomed a sudden voice from the foyer, moving towards them. "What's Logan doing coming fromwhy is Justin" and then the voice reached them, "What's with the air?" Everyone turned, and even Kurt and Blaine from the upstairs landing turned to look at the sound. A tall boy was standing at the doorway, dressed in a varsity t-shirt for the Dalton Kings. His foot had a bandage but he didn't have a crutch, and he still had a neck brace. His brown hair was unruly but his cornflower-blue eyes looked kind enough. He looked at everyone, bewildered at their stunned expressions. "what? Your prefect comes back and I don't even get a hello?" he said in disbelief at the succeeding silence. At the sight of the senior downstairs, Blaine suddenly looked deeply relieved. "Hey Charlie," he said with a great sigh. "Welcome back." He gestured to all the other boys as though passing back the responsibility in its entirety. "They're all yours." The Windsor boys stared as their rightful Prefect gave them a puzzled expression. And with that off his mind, Blaine pulled Kurt back upstairs, heading into the hall.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy. No one was prepared for the newsleast of all Blaine. Everyone seemed to take it hard, proving that Windsors look out for their own. Windsor knows better than any other place when it comes to handling a crisis.
mostly because it was often their fault.

And now Charlie, the real prefect, is back. Which means that Blaine has nothing else to focus on but this.
"What do you mean, you stole the prize Warbler?" Charlie exploded, and everyone in the common room winced. After Blaine and Kurt departed, Charlie herded the rest into the common room for explanations and to be briefed on the ongoings. "We told you" Wes winced. "It was because Logan told Kurt's parents" "Who the hell is Kurt?" Charlie demanded, now looking more confused than ever. "Alice!" the twins answered. "Who the hell is Alice?" This was not the best way to start off catching their prefect up. Like the prefects Logan and Justin, Charlie Amos had the thrilling job of looking after all the Windsor House boarders on a closer level, unlike the Howard who was more of a class adviser than anything and wasn't around as often. Windsor being the way it was, Charlie often had more problems to resolveand cover upthan the other two House Prefects did. And he had been doing all right as well, until the Twins gave him his accident. David groaned and buried his head in his hands as the Twins cheerfully added, "Alice is the newbie! He followed our White Rabbit and" Charlie waved them away irritably. "I wasn't talking to you two, I meant people who make sense." As the Twins bristled at the accusation, he looked at Wes and David almost pleadingly. "How long a backstory is this going to be?" "For starters, "Alice" is Kurt Hummel, the new boarder. Second, you were in traction for a while, Chaz, it's a hell of a long story," Wes muttered. "Well I have time now," said the prefect, frowning. "What's with all this air? Blaine's the Actingdid you guys take it easy on him like I asked you to?" The derisive snort that came from the speaker in the common room made everyone glare at it. There was a cough, "Ohdamn, the speaker was on? Sorry. Not even here." The click punctuated this. "Blaine's brother Shane is missing," Reed said softly from one of the chairs. He was staring at his hands. "He went mountain climbing and there was a rock slide" his hands

were shakingthe way the coffee cup in his hands was shaking was the indication. He settled for putting it down. "I'mgoing upstairs tocheck on Blaine and Kurt andfinish my paintings" He hastily left the room. The Tweedles watched him go with raised eyebrows and look at each other. Charlie watched him go, astounded, and then flailed again to the others for explanation. "Again, something I'm missing here?" "Hewell, not exactly himShane was" Wes struggled with the words. "Well Shane showed up during Winter Fest and he lookedvery taken by Reed. We don't think Reed reciprocates this butI don't know, he just started crying after Shane left after the New Year party." "Okay and on that awkward note" Charlie wheeled onto the Twins. "It was your turn this year. What happened? Please tell me that you didn't destroy" the deep sigh and guilty mutters all around made him made him stop midsentence. He sighed. He should have known better than to ask the Twins. "All right, screw this." He began to take off his neck brace. "Whoa! Whoa!" David leapt to his feet. "Should you be doing that? Chaz!" "You think I'm going to want all this plastic on me when you guys clearly don't know the definition of holding back?" he dropped the brace to the couch. "And I'm going upstairs to talk to Blaine. After all the torment of the past few weeks, he might need someone other than the new guy to" "No!" everyone chorused, dragging him back down. Charlie, looking at all the hands on him, stared at them as though they'd lost their minds. "What's the matter with all of you?" "Don'tdon't interrupt them," Wes flustered, gesturing with his hands. "Let them have their moment. Ahwe've kind of waited forever for them to finallybe official." "Officially what?" David said it in his ear. Charlie gaped at him, and then sank his head into his hands. "Oh man, I am so lost. There are just no words to explain my confusion right now. It's just not possible that none of you updated me all this time. I'm looking at you, Han!" Charlie yelled to the ceiling. "Hey, I don't keep tabs on everyone's love lives!" the speaker protested. "I've got way too many episode marathons lined up for that!" The speaker clicked off again. "What has Dwight been doing all this time?" Charlie muttered without looking up from his pained expression. "Generally still being him" Wes said thoughtfully. "Actually..maybe a little bit worse. He's convinced that Kurt is cursed because of all the things that happen to him" "Then he better exorcise all of Windsor if the basis is "things that happen"," Charlie said sarcastically. He cleared his throat and looked around at the other boys, taking

command by his air alone. "All right. We're going to sort out this mess. Wes, David, give me the shortest, least convoluted rundown of everything that's happened. Boys, I want you to do whatever you can to help Blaine's situation. Surely some of you are connected enough to do something. And I want you to downright spoil Blaine for the next few days. After everything you put him through, you better give back a little." He turned to the twins. "And Pavarotti. Give him back to Stuart House or heads will roll!" "But Logan broke a rule!" Evan protested. "He told parents what we do here at Windsor!" Ethan supplied. Being deeply rooted in Windsor ways himself, Charlie paused, considered, and nodded, "Okay, fine, the Warbler stays for a bit. But keep it alive and don't keep him in the common room. Put him somewhere that Howard wouldn't see so easily." He clapped his hands. "Move! Everyone! And get this room cleaned up! Now!" The boys immediately scattered, ducking the elder boy's wrath, like cards flying from a deck. As Wes and David talked to Charlie, the Twins approached Pavarotti's cage and gave the little Warbler a good long look, considering where to best hide him. Then they both looked at each other and smiled. A while later, Dwight sighed and leaned back, grumbling. "No, actuallyI'm still getting nothing from the pendulum." "Maybe because that isn't a pendulum's intended use?" The lightly freckled brunette on the other end was climbing shelves and pulling down dusty books, the "ancient library" interior contrasting with the Muse music blasting from the speakers. "I mean, are you sure you've want to do it this way?" She didn't often humor him like this, but it was a tender situation. "Yes!" Dwight shot back into the phone. "You know, I've done this before!" "Dwight, when you tried doing that before with your brother, it also didn't actually work well." It was the very blunt accusation, one that hit all the right nerves. "It didn't work the way you planned." Dwight steeled himself and glared at the phone. "Are you going to help me or not, Aimee?" Aimee McKleenan sighed and pulled two more books down from the collection. She was Dwight's go-to in Ohio for these things. As far as anyone knew, Dwight maintained several connections all over the country. If they didn't know any better, they would swear up and down that the spiritualist was running a Supernatural-esque hunting operation. "Hey, I have siblings too," she muttered into the phone as she flipped through the pages. "I know how it feels So yeah, this is me helping you" "Thank you," Dwight answered with a sigh. He had spent the last few hours sitting with a large map of the Colorado mountains, surrounded by candles, assorted rock crystals,

ingredients, and one crystal pendulum hanging over the map. To the ordinary onlooker, he might have simply looked ballistic, but he knew what he was doing. Or so he supposed. But when the pendulum failed to find Shane over the map, he decided to call for an expert. And he only knew one person in Ohio, and it would have to be Aimee and her everlasting patience. This whole process was why Dwight was not present downstairs. He knew what it was like to lose a brother, and he out of everyone downstairs knew that far better than he liked. The moment he heard of Shane's disappearance, he had run with Han to tell Blaine the newsthe way it should have been done to him years agoand ran back to the house to use everything he had to find Shane. He couldn't find Alannot in time. But damn it if he didn't find Shane somehow. There was a heavy thump as Aimee opened a book, rousing his thoughts from places they shouldn't be straying to. After a few moments of mumbling, she said, "Okayit says when you're looking for someone, it would very much help if you had something that can be directly connected to the person you're looking for. I don't know if it'll work with that crazy method of yours, but" "But I don't know the guy!" Dwight protested, glancing at the ticking clock, knowing that time was crucial. "I don't have anything of his!" With extreme patience, Aimee carefully spelled it out for him. "You mentioned being in a dorm with his brother...?" "Yeah" it clicked. Dwight blinked. "Oh! you think I should get Blaine's blood?" "Why does there have to be blood?" Aimee demanded incredulously. "Get a photo, a shirt of his, something!" "Right! Right, you're right. One second, I'll call you back!" Dwight hung up and tore out of the room in a flurry of cloth. He rushed out of the oak door and went scrabbling to Blaine's door, slamming into it and knocking in a rapid, steady, unceasing flurry until it opened. "Yes?" hissed Kurt as he leaned from the door, clearly restraining himself from a comment so sharp, it could've eviscerated that insistent door-pounder. He saw Dwight and frowned. "Dwightif it's more food" "Food?" Dwight blinked. Kurt rolled his eyes and opened the door a little more. The Windsors cope with stress in their own ways and they like to think that they are aware of how the person they're helping "cope" does it. This would explain Kurt and the hundred-coffee-cup-plan that day they first heard him scream at Tabitha. Unfortunately, someone brought up the fact that back when Blaine was struggling with Dalton academics, he kept snacks around his room so he could eat some while studying (and mainly, this was because when he studied too hard, he forgot to get food).

So somehow, it had gotten into all the Windsors' headsand there was little shadow of a doubt which identical pair of people put that idea there, because surely Wes and David knew betterthat the way to help Blaine was with food. Kurt had left Blaine's room for approximately thirty minutes, couldn't be more, but when he returned, Blaine was absolutely surrounded with foodwhich ranged from fast food, to pastry, to full blown gourmet meals. The now ex-Acting Prefect didn't even have the strength to tell his wellmeaning dorm-mates off and just let it all happen. Kurt sighed and rolled his eyes at the mess, and at Blaine, who was sitting on his couch while talking silently on the phone with someone who sounded important enough for him to be quiet about it. Kurt looked at Dwight and motioned to the food. "Take one, I'm begging you." "No, I'm here to see Blaine!" said Dwight immediately stepping in. "I need something of Shane's or relates directly to Shane." "I beg your pardon?" Kurt narrowed his eyes at him. "What for?" "I'm searching," Dwight said immediately. "I'm trying to find him over the map. It's not working. I need something of his." "What kind of searching?" Kurt asked, arms crossed and frowning at Dwight. Really, at a time like this? Seriously? "In this case, it's when you take a pendulum and hold it over a map and find someone" Kurt wanted to strangle him and could only repeat the words that should have been Windsor's house motto: "Are you crazy?" "No" Blaine hung up with whoever he was talking to and got up. He gestured absently to Dwight. "Give him what he wants." Kurt stared at his new boyfriend incredulously. "What?" "Here." Blaine tore a photo off the corkboard over his desk and tossed it to Dwight, who caught it easily. Dwight looked down at it and saw that it was one of Shanejust Shane, captured during a laugh that you could just hear coming out of the photographand he nodded. "Great! Thanks!" And with that, Dwight fled the room. Kurt saw the door slam and he turned back to Blaine, walking to him with a frown. "All right this is too much. If you're humoring Dwight now, you have to sit down and calm yourself." "No, if it's Dwight it's fine." Blaine sat down with a sigh. "You canyell at everyone else for all this food, but you should let Dwight do what he wants." "Why?" "Dwight's probably the only one in Windsor who'll understand." Blaine leaned against Kurt's shoulder without much hesitance. "His little brother Alan also went missing. Dwight didn't know Alan was even goneno one wanted to tell himuntil he'd been gone for almost three days. Dwight was in a relative's house when it happened. He was thirteen

and Alan was seven, but they were very close. Alan was found deadin the exact spot Dwight predicted they'd find him in." Blaine sighed. "didn't do well for his psyche. So if he wants to do this for Shane then I say give it to him." Kurt got up and knelt in front of him, holding his hands. "Blainethat isn't what's going to happen to Shane, you know. Don't give up like this. You're the last person he needs to give up on him." "I'm not giving up on Shane," Blaine answered. "Yes, you are. Look at you!" Kurt gestured to him, and around the room. "And all this! You haven't given up yet, completely, but I can see you're starting to. You'rebreaking down." "I justI can't" Blaine struggled to contain himself and failed. "I'm going out of my head here, I can'tlose Shane. I can't. I've lost everyone else from back then, and I thought I fought for my little brotherand in the end I ditched him. And now he's somewhere" "You did not ditch him," Kurt reprimanded, glaring at him. "There was no ditching involved. You coming to Dalton was a matter of you finally breaking down. It was the last straw. The fact that you held on for that longit says something when you feel you finally have to run. It happens to people! There's only so much a body can take before" He stopped here, letting out his breath. "you'd think after you got me out of my old school, you'd understand." He turned away, wondering how to best alleviate his worries. Blaine glanced at him and saw the frustration on his face. He smiled faintly and touched Kurt's cheek, making him look at him. "I'm glad you're here." Kurt gave him a tight smile, but his eyes never left his face. "where else would I be?" Kurt leaned forward and put his hands on his shoulders. "You're the one who wanted to go out with me. So now you're stuck with me." Blaine smiled and leaned his forehead on his. "I'll take it." Kurt leaned forward and kissed him briefly. Then he leaned back and said, "What did they saythe people you called?" Blaine shook his head. "My parents finally answered. Mom sounded worrieddad sounded angry But they're on their way to area as we speak. Iwanted to go, but they wouldn't let me. Told me to stay here. And wait." Kurt moved a hand through Blaine's hair. "Thenwe'll wait with you. All of us." "I don't see why I shouldn't go and search with them." "Because the last thing you should be doing is throwing yourself up those rocks." Kurt frowned. "I'm pretty sure that it's still dangerous after that rock slide. And then we'd have two brothers in trouble." Sighing, Blaine leaned back on the couch, hand still dangling onto Kurt's. "I guess you're right, but I can't help it. I feel like I shouldbe doing something more than this."

"There's not much more anyone can doeven if your parents are there, they'll also just be waiting." Kurt sat next to him again. "So let's wait. Andhope your crazy brother comes out of this in one piece." Blaine nodded. He twined his fingers through Kurt's as he said, "Would you mind so much if youstay here for the night?" In spite of himself, Kurt turned scarlet. "Oh Idon't mind. If you really need me to be." "Yes, I do." Blaine wasn't looking at him, and clearly wasn't even reading too deeply about what he was saying, so maybe that was why he hadn't noticed Kurt's expression. He glanced back to him and said, "Only if you want to." "OhI do." Kurt shrugged nonchalantly. Why was it this awkward now? And the situation This reaction was completely uncalled for. It was for purely supportive purposes. He leapt to his feet, brushing himself off. "WellI'll goget my stuff. Bring it over. You just stay here and" he looked around and saw nothing but food. He rolled his eyes. "and eat, or something." And he hastily fled the room. Blaine, who had been leaning on Kurt and had fallen into the couch when he'd gotten up, now watched him leave, a little puzzled by his alacrity. It was only then that he realized the implications of actually having his boyfriend stay in the same room as he is for a night. His face turned red and he groaned. "This is not the time for this!" he grumbled to himself. He settled for turning on the television in the hopes of getting more news. When Kurt walked into his room, it was a welcome relief to find the neatness as opposed to the food-fiesta at Blaine's. It was quiet and seemingly unaffected, but in the middle of it all, Reed sat in the central area, staring at one half finished acrylic painting. And when he turned in surprise to look at Kurt, his roommate stared at the sight of his paint-stained hands and the tear streaks mingled with paint. "Oh Reed." He took a step forward and his foot moved a piece of rumpled art on the ground. He looked down and stared with a frown, picking it up. It was the half-finished pastel of Shane, and it was ruined. "What the" "I couldn't finish." Reed muttered almost dejectedly from where he sat, turning back to his work. "when it's himI never finish." "What are you talking about? You gave him a painting in the airport." "That wasn't finished either. He couldn't tell the difference, how could he?" He stabbed a brush into the canvas. "I never finish." He made one black streak that outlined a curl, and his hand shookand he stopped. He threw the brush onto the ground, pushed the canvas awayit fell with a clatter and he couldn't even bring himself to pick it upand buried his face into his hands. He looked angry, frustrated, and more confused than ever. "All right, you have to stop," Kurt said, more severely than he intended as he crossed the

room and to his friend. But in this case truly necessary. He shook Reed hard. "Look at me, Reed! Stop crying and look at me!" "I...can't even breathe right now!" the other boy choked, paint and tears running down his face. Kurt muttered under his breath, pulling out a few of the tissues from a nearby box and wiping the paint away. Reed swatted him away weakly. "The last thing I ever did to himwas reject him! He's" he coughed, laughed bitterly and hissed at the same time, that confused jumble of sound being the reflection of everything he felt about himself at that moment. "I might not have returned those feelings when he said thembut he fell in love with me and that's never even happened before! Do you have any idea how damned guilty I feel right now? It's not fair! Why is this happening?" Kurt ground his teeth. He put the tissues down and slapped Reed. It wasn't as forceful as when he did it with Logan, but it rattled the other. Silence. The other boy seemed to come to, staring at him, one cheek scarlet. The tears stopped instantly. Kurt looked down at him, eyes blazing. "I'm sorry, but I had to do that. You were being hysterical. Shane. Is. Alive. Understand?" This got a rise out of Reed. He had probably only needed to hear someone say it. "I" He blinked. "Oh, gosh, yes. What was I doing?" Kurt reduced the harshness now that he had his attention. "Until Blaine and I hear anything about a dead body, unless you hear anything from us directly, you're going to stop this crying" he resumed rubbing away the paint from his friend's face and fingertips, "you're going to stop scaring yourself senseless, and you're going to stop destroying your art!" He grumbled as he picked up the canvas on the ground and put it Reed's lap. "Hysterics, that's all it is." He swept the paintbrushes from the table and into Reed's kit. "We have to focus, all right? I know you're upsetfrankly everyone in Windsor isbut crying about it like this isn't going to help." "Yeah" Reed murmured, looking as though he just woke up. He fell silent for quite a long time, until he lifted his head, looking confused, "I'm sorrywhen did you come in and why are you here again?" Kurt rolled his eyes and shook his head as he wiped his own hands, getting up from the carpet. "I wish I had your expression on tape right now." The door to their room flung open, and David and Wes were panting in the doorway. "Hey!" Wes gasped, clinging onto the doorframe as David ran across the hall to Blaine's room to alert him. Wes was holding up a walkie talkieand Han's voice was coming out of it. "Got something here!" "Hey," said Han from where he was ensconced upstairs. He was working rapidly on his computer. "Following the search party's progress real time through satellite"

"How are you doing this, exactly?" Blaine asked the moment he came up to them Kurt immediately moved to take his arm as soon as he did. Han hesitated a moment before saying, "Imay have done a bit of creative hacking and 'borrowed' a spy satellite" At the succeeding silence, Han immediately added, "It wasn't like it's one of those aimed at another country right now, you know! And it was really quick, I promise. Like maybe a couple of minuteshalf an hour at most." "I'm not sure whether to thank you or to hate you because now we're accessory to federal crime" Blaine muttered, pressing his fingers to his temple. "Just tell us, Han," David said. "Search party ran across some sign of the climbers. They found something at the bottom of a gorge. It was all ruined now, but definitely something one of the climbers might have dropped. They don't know what it is, exactly" The others waited impatiently. "but they said it was a small painting in a tube." Midnight came and went with no news from the search parties other than the one Han delivered. It wasn't promising. No Windsor wanted Blaine to go alone that night, especially after the news, but Blaine insisted that only Kurt would stay. Since Blaine was the boyfriend, he had precedence, but Kurt had misgivings about leaving Reed alone. Reed, on the other hand, all but threw him out the room. "For heavenssakes, Kurt, leave," his friend had insisted, tossing him his things. "You think I want you to see me like this? Gosupport Blaine or something. It's your job to help him, not me." So Kurt went, but not without asking the conspirators to keep an eye on their befuddled friend. The Twins haunted the room for a while, until Reed booted them out for swordfighting with his paintbrushes. Wes and David were also in Blaine's room, helping him with all the food, until Charlie finally decided to get some order in the madness by telling everyone where to get off. It had to be two in the morning when Dwight heard the soft knock at his door. He never lifted his eyes from the pendulum that flickered in the candlelight, the only source of light in the room. "s'open." The door creaked open. "My roommate's asleep," Dwight muttered. "I know" Dwight looked up and saw Reed hugging himself in the cold, wearing those odd pajamas that were too long in the arms for him. His eyes were swollen. "Can I stay here for a bit?"

Dwight studied him a long while. He noted that Reed had crossed the salt line at the door with no problems, and it wasn't three am yet, so it was likely that it was actually Reed and not some other kind of being. He shrugged and gestured for him to sit next to him on the pillows on the ground. Reed closed the door, sat next to Dwight and put his arms on the table, peering at the map with glassy brown eyes, eyelashes still wet. "what are you doing?" Dwight was still carefully moving the crystal pendulum over the map. His eyes bore evidence of someone who had not stopped doing this for at least six hours. "looking for Shane" "Witha necklace?" Reed asked. "Pendulum," Dwight retorted, concentrating harder. Reed watched the rather pretty crystal swing over the map. "Pretty sure I saw this in a rerun of Charmed. You know they say this isn't how it actually works?" "Shh!" Dwight mumbled. "I found Alan this way, I'll find Shane this way. And I'm not going to stop until I do." "Who's Alan?" Reed asked. "my kid brother." "Oh" Reed was too numbed by the hour to have a real reaction. He buried his head in his arms with a sigh. He didn't know what happened after that, but he must have fallen asleep on the table. When he woke up, Dwight was still doing what he was doing, but there was a blanket around his shoulders. "Did I fall asleep?" "Half an hour." Reed studied the pendulum. "How long have you been doing this?" "since I heard the news?" "Why?" "I told you. I'm not going to stop until I find Shane." He gestured without looking away to a photograph on the table. Reed carefully picked it up and saw Shane laughing in the photo. He smiled very faintly at the sight of him. "when you're donecan I keep this?" "No," said Dwight sensibly, with all that incorrigible stubbornness that he was so known for. "When I'm done, we'll find Shane and you don't need the photo anymore." He sounded so sure of the matter that Reed almost smiled. It was that manic sureness that he needed to hear, and though Dwight's reasoning might be completely suspect, he decided to stay for a while longer.

Contrary to what Kurt may have expected, staying in Blaine's room for the night wasn't awkward. Everything was completely harmless. But they did share the same bed, and for a while, as they both lay there, leaning against the headboard with hands twined, both trying to sleep and finding themselves too worried to, there wasn't much either of them could do. They waited. Kurt was sure he fell asleep first, listening to Blaine breathe, because the blanket that covered them both when he stirred again later wasn't his doing. But he was awakened by music. It was played low and softly, clearly in the manner of someone who didn't intend to be heard. But Blaine was sitting on the other dais, hands playing his keyboard. His darkrimmed eyes showed that he hadn't slept yet. And he was trying to somehow, in some way, occupy himself during that wait. His music sounded as though it came from somewhere far away, just like the expression in his eyes.

Woke up this morning And I heard the news I know the pain of a heartbreak I don't have answers And neither do you I know the pain of a heartbreak
Kurt sat up a little, listening and watching Blaine. He didn't notice Kurt. It was hard to believe he'd notice anything right now.

Then confusion and the doubts you had Up and walk away They walk away When a heart breaks
Kurt walked to him silently in the darkness. This made Blaine look up for the first time. He realized that Kurt was awake and looked as though he was going to stop, but Kurt held out his hand and shook his head, gesturing him to keep going. Blaine smiled faintly as Kurt now sat next to him, putting his hands on the keyboard and playing the music with him, their hands almost over each other's.

I heard the doctor But what did he say I knew I was fine about this time yesterday I don't need answers I just need some peace I just need someone who could help me get some sleep Who could help me get some sleep
Kurt smiled a little as they continued to play the music together, Blaine still singing. But he smiled at Kurt when he looked up at him. He looked a little better now, and that smile got just that bit brighter as their hands touched over the music.

This isn't easy This isn't clear And you don't need Jesus Til you're here Then confusion and the doubts you had Up and walk away They walk away When a heart breaks
The music trailed away slowly, and Blaine leaned against Kurt as he put his hands over his on the keyboard. "Sorry for waking you." "It's a good thing to wake up to." Kurt let him lean against him for a moment. "Feel a little better now?" "A little bit," Blaine nodded. "No news?" "Nothing yet" "Then come back to bed." Kurt smiled, standing up and pulling him up with him. "If you're going to handle this, you need to think rationally. And rationality doesn't come without actual sleep." It took a little prodding and convincing, but Blaine finally gave in. When he fell asleep, he was staring at his corkboard of photographs, and it was impossible to tell if he was

thinking about Shane or just everything in particular. He whispered to Kurt in the dark, "When all this is overI'm never going to think about it again." "About what?" Kurt asked. He didn't receive an answer. Blaine fell asleep soon after, with Kurt following suit on the other side of the bed. The sun was coming in through the windows the next daydetestably cheery. Blaine was still asleep when Kurt awoke and saw Wes and David in the room, the Twins leaning by the doorway. David waved slightly and made it clear to not wake Blaine. Kurt carefully moved away from Blaine's sleeping form and walked up to the two. "What is it?" he whispered. "Just checking." David glanced at Blaine. "How's he holding up?" "He didn't sleep until four am," Kurt sighed. "I know because I didn't." "Caterpillar says the searchers are going through the deep areas, hoping that the mountaineers just ended up somewhere out the way. They're hoping to find more traces of them." Wes looked a little distressed. "Reed isn't in his room." "He's in mine." Dwight murmured, appearing at the doorway. He looked disturbingly heavy-lidded, his dark circles pronounced. It was the sign of someone who had not slept. "He fell asleep there." "Howard told us to tell the Rabbit that he's not to go to classes today," said Evan. "He can stay and wait for news. As far as we're concerned, we'd fly him to Colorado if we can," Ethan added. "But you said that his parents didn't want him there?" Kurt nodded. "They want him to stay and wait. I suppose they have it under control" The walkie on the table crackled, making everyone jump. Blaine's sleep was apparently set on trigger for that specific event, because he suddenly stirred as though startled. "You guys," said Han. "Development. Blaine, are you there?" "I'm listening." Blaine was rubbing his eyes. "Number of search parties expanded, to cover more ground. Someone with some serious pull had sent in extra troops, it's almost like a small army. They've just arrived now." Blaine was surprised. "Ihaven't heard of this." He was sure his parents didn't have that kind of particular leverage. He looked at the others. The other Windsor boys only looked at each other. None of them had sent the extra people. Han didn't volunteer any more information. He only said, "Wellbecause of their number, you can expect news within the day. We're actually really lucky, that the mountaineers

were missed early. We wouldn't have as much time as we do now. There's still a big chance they're somewhere alive. Hang tight, Blaine." The connection crackled again as Han resumed his radio silence.
Blaine looked at the boys. "You guys should get to class." "We can cut and stay with you," Wes volunteered, but Blaine shook his head. "No. Go to class. I'llI'll be fine here." "I can stay," Kurt said, looking at him. Blaine looked at him a long moment, as though deliberating with himself. He must have clearly wanted him to stay. But in the end, he shook his head. "Ithink I need to be alone for a while. You guys should go." Kurt glanced away, nodding slowly. "Fine. I understand." But he went up to Blaine and kissed him. Blaine kissed back, restraining himself from keeping Kurt with him as the other boy released him. "I'll be here in five minutes at the instant something happens," Kurt said. "All right." "I'm not going to class," Dwight declared. "I have searching to do." And he swirled off again, returning to his room. He did say he wasn't giving u