Hi I'm CP Coulter your author for this fic.

I would like to once again thank each and every single one of you for your outpour of words and support that just continue onward. I'm so sorry that the hiatus took so long, but with the holidays afoot, there just wasn't that much time to write even though I wanted to quite badly. But your support has been above and beyond the call of duty. I can honestly tell you that the amount of amazing things that happened lately was due to everyone's good intentions, support and well wishes.

This fic has come so far...eighteenth episode. With fan art, fan-fics, soundtracks, fanmixes, videos... All of it, from the wonderful support given by the best fandom in the world. People even showed me that the actual Dalton Academy Warblers from Glee have taken notice and have read or seen this fic. I continue to thank Telly Leung, Luke Edgemon, Dominic Barnes, Aaron Page, Riley Martin, Riker Lynch, and the indefatigable Pavarotti for showing interest in this piece that I've made, which the warm and wonderful fandom has nurtured and caused to bloom. Thank you, Warblers. You have simply made us love you so much more.

The Klaine fandom-no, the Kurtsies, all of them, no matter what ship-have been wonderful, amazing beings who need to know how wonderful they are. And my gratitude is exponential. There is no way to quantify it.

A word: A person wrote to infraredphaeton, about comparing SPAH to Dalton, and it has hurt her and me. Please, everyone, as a person who gets so accused to ripping things off, this is hurtful to me, and I feel bad that one of my favorite fellow ficcers had to be accused of it. Let's all maintain this wonderful community that we have-I have never seen a fandom so warm and welcoming as the Kurtsies. And I will be forever grateful for their changing me "for good".

This is me, hoping that we continue on. My gratitude to you knows no bounds. I could not ask for more. This is already too much already.

I very much hope you enjoy this episode.

(I do not own Glee.)


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 life…I was loved back.

But it's still so far from over. Dancing together onstage…holding each other through fireworks…kisses 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 was…one 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 trouble—do 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 name—one 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 permission…I 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 he—and the chair—fell 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, Kurt—wait 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, Kurt—I didn't actually have to ask. You…made 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 again—the difference was obvious."

"And you looked wonderful at the Festival, Kurt—you looked so…happy," 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 trying—and failing very badly—to 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, Blaine—if 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 do—that'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 on—there'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.

"Wait—so…we'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 before—when 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. So…that covers it. Kurt, you stay right there, we have something else to, uh…to cover. Blaine—you 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 alive—says 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 parents…sort 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 guessed—it'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, Blaine—Logan 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, just—just 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 now—I'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 room—I 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 lyrics—it 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?"

"Kurt—okay…take 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 virtue—you and I both know that when Logan got my parents into this, he's crossed a line."

"He has, and believe me, when—not if, when—I 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 room…and 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. "It…looks 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 go…come 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.


"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 part—in 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 matters—he 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 parties—Kurt 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 playlist—I'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 virtue—which we are working on dismantling, by the way—will 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. "What…kind 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 real…feather in our hat, should I say." Evan grinned.

"It'll be breaking a rule right back between houses, but…if 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.

"We…are 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."

"Please—I'd rather keel over and give up a Tony award before I let that ogre of a Literature professor get the better of me—it'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 mine—I'm pretty worried about your father's shotgun skills."

"Thanks for leaving me by myself there, by the way—The 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 is…it 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 face…you 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 now…official… I think I have the leverage to ask this right out. …what made you come to Dalton? What…what 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 you…but we got bullied all the same. Some days were worse than others…and 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 it…but…there was someone else I had to protect."

Kurt eyed him. "Your…boyfriend?"

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 middle…that 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… but…the 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 five…only me and Shane are left," Blaine muttered. He shook his head. "…the bullies…they 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 was…he was beaten, like a whipped dog, and left in some alley. He was half dead when they found him—and 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't…we couldn't help Jude! He just…he 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 Shane…he 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 administration—no one…really…cared. 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 but…it'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. "Shane…you 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. Mom…I think she knew. She just…she 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 times—don'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 out…because 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 felt…out. 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 tell—he 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 yelling—the whole block must've heard. He threw Micah out onto the bricks, and me into his gun cabinet, did you know? Like he could…pound 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 she…well 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. "But…I don't think mom could've helped anyway. And Micah? He disappeared. Never saw him again—maybe 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, so…I 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 favorite—I had been."

He waved it away, "And so…after 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 out…it wasn't good anywhere. Something just…had to give. And that something was me."

He let out his breath in a long sigh—a breath that carried the weight of the world and an immeasurably heavy heart. "…so I ran. I just snapped and I ran like crazy. I…went 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 hard…I just up and left Shane alone…because 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 knight—it 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 together—for your friends, Shane, and me—so 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 once—just for this—you. And I can't let Logan have his way—you'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 that—it's never going to happen again. Do you understand? I won't let it happen again. I'm not…I'm not your damsel-in-distress, 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, "Well…don'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 recognition—to 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 anteroom—which became almost a small common room—was 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 toe—his 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 House—which 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 him—he'll be such a wet blanket about it all—"

"I'm not going to tell Blaine—let 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 knocker—it 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 this…thing 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 good-naturedly. "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 silence—and 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 cool—I mean they'll totally overheat if I don't—the 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."

"We…can 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 sorry—how 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 podcasts—I 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 there—it'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 easily—it was in blinding video game colors—blowing 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're…going 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's—wow, 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.

"Hey—a 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 onto—only 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 enough—Stuart 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 already—the 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 fast—try 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 sleeper—he 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 again—how 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 said—stealing 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 III—and 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 rule—just 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?"

"Whoa—easy!" 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 back—if 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! Kurt—wait."

"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 something—I 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 wanted—you. 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 worry…he knows. …and that's why he's doing this. He just…can'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 after—and 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 just…he 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 is—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!"

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 feel—the way everyone else did. Even if his rage became dangerous. It was something he could feel.

And he hated, most of all…the 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.


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 him—about 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 before—in 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 it…but he does anyway."

Medel said to Logan, "I just don't…well… 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't…feel 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 important—a 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. And…try. Or something. Try to sing? Try to remember? Try to forget?" Julian eyed him as he said softly, "Do you think…he's trying to forget you, Kurt?"

Kurt swallowed and said nothing, starting intently at Logan at the piano. Julian continued, "Anyway…Medel heard him and got worried…so 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 sing—to 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.

"Logan…can you try this one?" She then rose and looked to Kurt, handing him sheets. "If it's all right…can you sing with him for this one? Because…I'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 lost…you 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 before—when 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, "This…this isn't anything final—we're still having long deliberations but…would you consider singing this…for 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.


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, Blaine—I saw this…on the web…

Where was this breathlessness coming from…?

It hasn't reached us yet—and—and 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 vanished…after a rock slide…

That flash of color as Reed walked in at entirely the wrong moment…

Blaine…your brother…he was one of them...on the list…

Blaine closed his eyes and sank to his knees.

On the next episode: The rabbit hole goes too far down...and continues to do so. As the search for Shane begins, tension rises within campus grounds. And yet, through the fog, Kurt finds that even in this dark time, a hand will clasp another, without regard of who it is, pulling his fellow upward, into the light.