Hi, I'm C Coulter, your writer for this fic.

The previous episode had so many reviews and hits that I thought had a glitch. Once again, I cannot emphasize how grateful I am to the attentions you have given my fic, your kind words of support and encouragement. I will be thinking about all of your well wishes as I go to competition. I am grateful to the people in tumblr, livejournal and gleeforum for being so good to me and to my work.

In a few hours, I'll be taking my flight to Singapore and from there, updates for the weekend look foggy. I'll be back by Monday early, and I hope to be able to produce another episode by then... But if I'm fortunate, I will be able to put one up during the weekend. I'm afraid I can't give much notice for that-the alerts will let you know anyway. Again, I wish everyone the best and my thanks goes out to all of you.

I hope you like this episode. :)

(I do not own Glee. It wouldn't be as wonderful if I owned Glee.)


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, Mercedes—don'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 late—they 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 board—you 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."

"Ugh—don'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 room—I heard the other guys talking. I saw Karofsky at his locker, and he had that phone—I 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."

"Wait—wait, 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 yourselves—why would he take that phone?"

"Because he's a douchebag?" Puck suggested.

"Not that!" Rachel was digging through her bag frantically. "Mercedes—tell me you know that guy's number. You know—that 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 me—why?"

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? Wait—Kurt already left to see—"

"Kurt's not answering his phone!" Rachel blurted out. "Blaine, Mercedes said that she forgot her phone on the courtyard—and Mike just told me that he saw it—with 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 gone—Kurt's gone, he—" his voice was shaking,"—he thought he got a text from—I'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'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 alcove—like a dead end alley—between 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 grounds—no 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 gone—Kurt's gone, he—" he took a shaking breath. "—he thought he got a text from—I'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, wait—what'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 know—but 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. "Dwight—what happened?"

"Something about Kurt being in trouble—Blaine and the others just tore out of here!"

Logan turned back to the house. "Justin! Justin—come here!"

At this, a tall brown-haired boy in a red Dalton pullover looked up, confused. "What—?"

"You're the Hanover prefect, right—keep 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, panting—his 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.


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, Kurt—that'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 twins—they 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 answering—where 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, but…if 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. "Logan…if 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, Blaine—I 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, David—this just can't—"

"Hey!" Dwight started yelling. "You guys!"

Wes looked up as he came running. He was holding a printed Hérmes 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 other—I 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 it—and 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 you…I'm not going to tell."

Silence fell between them.

Kurt lowered his eyes, shifting his feet. "Why are you here, Karofsky? Can't you…can'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?"


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 are—you 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're…here." 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 Sectionals…just 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 was…easier…" He trailed off.

Because then…it 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, Kurt—I'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 cliché 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 true…you 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.


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 he—did 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 sprays—which did no good—and throwing rock salt—which 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 you—demon!" 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, no—not 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 minute—and 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 school—I 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 Dwight—who 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 uh…could 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 that—not that you're terrible!" he quickly added, flailing. "You're a great guy—person— But I don't like you. I mean, I like you, but not like you that way. Because I like girls. If…there were actually any girls interested, I mean—I mean there haven't been much, like, ever, but—"



"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 he…he 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 just—wanted 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, um…scare 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 here…I think I didn't need you there then. I think that he was just someone I had to face by myself. Like you said…I 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 across—annoyance. "Guys—let 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, "Logan…I know you were just trying to help me but…there 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 anything—it was Karofsky who swung at him," said Kurt quietly. "But Logan did go after him and…I 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 am—I'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 been…dealt 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 wield—because 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 choose—he'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, dude—he 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, though—that 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. Just…trying 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 of…protective 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 know…Mercedes 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… Wait—but you're changing the topic—I just want to make sure that Blaine's…you 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. "You…are 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.


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 him—just 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.

On the next episode: The night of the Winter Fest arrives, with the St. Patrick-Dalton soccer match taking precedence in the day. The team's morale is down the drain, but a little cheering up never hurt anybody.