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

I once again want to thank each and every one of you for your continued support and encouragement towards this fic. It's really all still so surreal to me and I can't even believe it's barely been a month. It feels as though I have undergone months of happiness in the time I've spent with the people who read my little piece, and I want you to know that I read all of your messages. I wish you all knew how happy I am right now, I wish you all could feel this gratitude I have towards each and every one of you.

It's time to head back to reality, but all's not well in Warbler Land. The Knave does not do well scorned. He's rallying the troops, and preparing a different sort of counterattack. Windsor's best asset-its ability to be incredibly unusual-may be its biggest flaw in this battle.

I really hope you enjoy this next episode...I will take a short break after this... as I mentioned in my cpcoulter tumblr, I would like to just regroup and get myself collected. All this talk of Ouran is getting me really down and...well...those who have read the LJ post will understand.

Thank you, everyone... I love you all very much. I promise the hiatus won't take long, I just need to breathe. But I love all of you, thank you.

I hope you enjoy this ep.

(I do not own Glee)


Dalton

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 early—or late, depending on what you thought of the time—last 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 in—it'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. "Uh…should 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 wait—what?"

"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 get—shh!—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. "Go—go 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. "Besides…all 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 me—I need to stay collected.


If Dalton's multitude of statues and ornaments had enjoyed their time in peace—then they were well aware that time is over.

POW!

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 productive—you'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 revoked—but 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 this—Howard 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 in—roommate 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?"

"Ah…Twins 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 wait—I 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.

"Hey—Hey 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 look…normal."

"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 teams—like 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. Well—not different, more like…old 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, Derek—I 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 stalked—he never could simply walk, that boy with the gleaming oak-brown hair in waves—as 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 wrapped—I 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."

"Fine—but 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 long-distance study assignments returned with gleaming marks that would make a valedictorian weep. And please, Ramsey would never let me leave—having an honest-to-gosh 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 people—I'm just lordly! Vast difference! It's really up to them how to take my personality!"

"Yes, well—you're a jerk. And when even I call you that, that's saying something." Logan slammed the door shut.


"…and then we just…sat 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 kiss—and 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 was…appropriate," 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 present—a gigantic teddy bear that required her to not actually be sitting in the booth but on a chair at the end of the table—and 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 décor, 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. "But…Quinn's right—no, 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 all-boys 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

"Kurt—Pardon 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 only—the 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 songs—they 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 were…good."

"Rachel—hello?" 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 Kurt—and 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 league—that'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 that—I'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, Mercedes—our combined forces will engorge your closet."

"Please—I 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 white…when 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. "Honestly—it'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 sec—which 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 she—I mean he—just simply is disliked by the rest of her—his—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?"

"Oh—Logan, 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 in—it'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's…actually a little embarrassing. But the truth is, Kurt's really…well he's really good at just being himself. And…I've had some personal issues, recently…and he's helped me through them a lot."

Burt looked a little surprised. "Oh. So you're…also…" 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 that…I'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. "Well…thank you, Logan, I think he's…he'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 formality—but 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 practice…and 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. "Well…nothing against them, of course… but Windsor is known for being a rather…rambunctious 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's…the 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."

"Well…we 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? Odd…I 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, uh…heard 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 a…mutual 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, Logan—I 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, "Well…I 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 cars—Wes and David in David's Porsche and the twins and Reed in the Twins' Rolls Royce (their "other" car), and Dwight in his Impala—and 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."

"Wait—what 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 car—a Jaguar—got 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.


On the next episode: Logan has completed his set of merry men with Derek and Julian. Now it's time for the Windsors to rally for the sake of their own leader-with Blaine and Kurt getting into some hot water, everyone will have to pull their weight in the plan, as if Kurt does not pass his academic assessment, he'll have to kiss Merry Windsor goodbye and fall to Stuart hands.