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

Once again, my gratitude to the fandom knows no bounds. You have given me so much in the past month. There has been so many things happening and to this very moment, I cannot believe that I have reached this point. With over two thousand reviews and two hundred thousand hits, with the Warblers themselves aware and reading into the fic, I start to question if I am even awake, or if I'm being played some gargantuan practical joke on. I feel just like Alice, wandering too far into Wonderland, and wondering who I am now and not knowing.

Thank you, Kurtsies, all of you; and I say Kurtsies because even those who do not wholly ship Klaine have been nothing but amazing people. All of you are incredible people, and my thanks extend endlessly towards you, the people who continue to read in spite of my sporadic and strange ways. I wish you all nothing but the best. You have done so much for me and I only wish you knew how much.

A word: the winner of a small race I had instigated in tumblr will make a cameo appearance in this episode. Please look forward to her presence!

I really hope that you will enjoy this episode.

(I do not own Glee. Glee is just too amazing to be owned by me.)


Episode 19: Paint

The Windsors were gathered in the common room, all of them sitting or standing around the couch, all eyes trained onto the widescreen screen on the wall. The news of the accident had spread like wildfire, with mobiles going off in the halls, with messages that sent them all ducking back to their House where their acting prefect had run to the instant Han and Dwight gave him the news.

The Twins looked uncharacteristically serious, staring at the screen and waiting for the news to come on. They had all seen the bulletin whizz by that said a news segment would speak of the accident. Dwight was nowhere to be found, but Wes and David flanked Blaine from where the acting prefect was standing by the window, the phone at his ear and fingers pressed to the bridge of his nose, looking as though he were holding himself down again.

"Yes…tell them it's an emergency," Blaine muttered, with great patience in his voice. "…I know. Tell them it's Blaine. And that Shane's been…he's had an accident up in the mountains and—and it would really help if they knew about it. Yes, I know—thank you." He hung up.

"Don't tell me," Wes stared at him in disbelief.

"Still out at some business dinner, party, or something," Blaine answered as he crossed the room to the couch. Everyone immediately made room, Reed vacating the spot in the middle that he'd saved for him. Blaine's hand shook just slightly as he put his phone into his pocket.

"This is ridiculous, your parents can't be out of contact at a time like this!" David burst out.

"Would you like to give it a try?" Blaine whispered in a very restrained tone that implied danger if David continued to state the obvious. David just shook his head and turned away. Blaine only ever got testy when he was really stressed at any rate.

The program blatted on in the television, Blaine hardly paying attention as he sat lost in thought. At that instant, the doors to the common room flew open with Kurt running in, flushed with running. Blaine immediately rose and moved to him as Kurt hurried to him and held him tightly in his arms.

"I just heard—I'm so sorry I wasn't—" Kurt flustered, holding him tight.

"It's fine," Blaine murmured, hugging him tightly in return, clearly more tightly than he'd wanted to show. "It's—I don't have other news yet. TV hasn't… Han's working on it…" He just shook his head. He glanced up slightly, and gave a small start.

Logan was standing at the doorway to the common room. Wes saw him and rose. "What's he doing here?" he demanded.

"I'm right here, I can hear you," Logan muttered.

"He heard the news," Kurt answered, looking at Blaine. "We were talking to Medel in Warblers Hall. He—" he glanced at the other prefect. "He followed me."

Blaine felt a little confused at this, and Logan could only shake his head as though he wished he could explain as well. The Twins stood in front of Pavarotti's cage nonchalantly, shielding him from view, but Logan just rolled his eyes at this. "I know you took Pavarotti and he's right there. I can hear him chirping." He sighed. "Besides, you distracted Derek with a jawbreaker, the thing that you embedded into a snowball you threw at him during the storm."

The little warbler made a tiny chirp as though in answer, or maybe in approval—no one was ever sure, and the twins looked at each other sideways awkwardly. "…oh."

Kurt glared at the twins before he looked at Blaine and hugged him one more time. He led him back to the couch to have him sit down. "Have your parents said anything?" he asked.

"They're unreachable," said Blaine, looking intently at him and holding his hands. "But I left a couple of dozen messages that even they wouldn't ignore."

The common room received another outsider when Justin came running in, breathless. "I just heard from the Hanover Warblers! Blaine—I'm sorry to hear it; I came here as soon as I could…" He saw Logan and did a double take. "Oh. Hello, Logan. Didn't expect you here."

Logan rolled his eyes. It was at these moments that he really realized how unusual his being sympathetic for any reason was. It was a testament to his reputation.

The small speaker sitting on the table next to the couch crackled with static, making the people near it jump. Han's voice came out of the speaker, proving that the Caterpillar was again at work. Kurt had always wondered what it was for, and he realized that it was Han's means of communication to the outside world.

"Pipe down, guys. News is coming on…"

And at the cue, the news segment finally aired, with everyone in the room staring intently at the screen. Blaine kept holding onto Kurt's hands as they both watched. The segment itself wasn't very long, but it was all they had right now.

The newscaster reported that six teenagers from the Walcott School had set out on a mountain climbing trip some days after the New Year, with only one or two of them being actual members of a mountain climbing club. The rest had come along for the excursion, hoping to experience camping at high altitude. A rockslide had been reported not long after the boys had gone on their trip, and since then nothing has been heard from the group, who failed to return on their designated day.

This meant that the climbers had been missing for over twenty-four hours as they spoke, and search parties were being sent out to find the teens who must have been in a serious accident, as their severed climbing cords had been found near where the slide occurred. Searchers are combing the rockslide area for any signs of life or bodies.

The parents were currently being alerted, but for purposes of identification, the missing teenagers were all shown onscreen. Kurt felt it when Reed, pale and shaking, sank onto the couch next to him the moment Shane's photograph—smiling with his classmates—appeared on the screen. Blaine's hand shook so much that Kurt had to cover it with his other one.

All in all, this was almost too much for Blaine to look at and there was almost relief in the room when the segment ended with the newscaster claiming to make more updates as they come in.

As soon as the news segment ended, the speaker crackled again.

"Just so you know, I'm still tracking the news as they come in. I'll keep you guys updated. Hey Tweedles—come up here and get the walkies. So I can update you guys if anything important comes up. Blaine, I'm going to keep looking. I'm…I'm really sorry about this."

"What for, it's not your fault…" Blaine answered, but the tone was so monotonous and rehearsed that Kurt realized that he must've been saying this exact line so many times that it ceased to mean anything except an automatic response.

The prefect got up and walked out of the room, Kurt following after him and holding his hand, making to head upstairs. They passed the two prefects, Justin patting Blaine's shoulder as they went. Logan watched the two of them, their linked hands, as they left without even glancing at him. He lowered his gaze as they passed, and then glanced to the twins.

The twins only blinked back at him curiously, and Logan muttered, "Take care of Pavarotti, or Harvey'll have a fit." And he simply left. As he walked through the foyer, he took out his phone and punched in some numbers. He wasn't far enough for Justin not to hear him say, "I'd like to talk to him. Yes, this is Logan."

Justin looked puzzled, and then turned to them. "All right then. Better get cracking. We've got to do what we can, yeah?"

"Whoa, whoa!" boomed a sudden voice from the foyer, moving towards them. "What's Logan doing coming from—why is Justin—" and then the voice reached them, "What's with the air?"

Everyone turned, and even Kurt and Blaine from the upstairs landing turned to look at the sound. A tall boy was standing at the doorway, dressed in a varsity t-shirt for the Dalton Kings. His foot had a bandage but he didn't have a crutch, and he still had a neck brace. His brown hair was unruly but his cornflower-blue eyes looked kind enough. He looked at everyone, bewildered at their stunned expressions.

"…what? Your prefect comes back and I don't even get a hello?" he said in disbelief at the succeeding silence.

At the sight of the senior downstairs, Blaine suddenly looked deeply relieved. "Hey Charlie," he said with a great sigh. "Welcome back." He gestured to all the other boys as though passing back the responsibility in its entirety. "They're all yours."

The Windsor boys stared as their rightful Prefect gave them a puzzled expression. And with that off his mind, Blaine pulled Kurt back upstairs, heading into the hall.

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy.

No one was prepared for the news—least of all Blaine.

Everyone seemed to take it hard, proving that Windsors look out for their own.

Windsor knows better than any other place when it comes to handling a crisis.

mostly because it was often their fault.

And now Charlie, the real prefect, is back.

Which means that Blaine has nothing else to focus on but this.

"What do you mean, you stole the prize Warbler?" Charlie exploded, and everyone in the common room winced. After Blaine and Kurt departed, Charlie herded the rest into the common room for explanations and to be briefed on the ongoings.

"We told you…" Wes winced. "It was because Logan told Kurt's parents—"

"Who the hell is Kurt?" Charlie demanded, now looking more confused than ever.

"Alice!" the twins answered.

"Who the hell is Alice?"

This was not the best way to start off catching their prefect up. Like the prefects Logan and Justin, Charlie Amos had the thrilling job of looking after all the Windsor House boarders on a closer level, unlike the Howard who was more of a class adviser than anything and wasn't around as often. Windsor being the way it was, Charlie often had more problems to resolve—and cover up—than the other two House Prefects did. And he had been doing all right as well, until the Twins gave him his accident.

David groaned and buried his head in his hands as the Twins cheerfully added, "Alice is the newbie! He followed our White Rabbit and—"

Charlie waved them away irritably. "I wasn't talking to you two, I meant people who make sense." As the Twins bristled at the accusation, he looked at Wes and David almost pleadingly. "How long a backstory is this going to be?"

"For starters, "Alice" is Kurt Hummel, the new boarder. Second, you were in traction for a while, Chaz, it's a hell of a long story," Wes muttered.

"Well I have time now," said the prefect, frowning. "What's with all this air? Blaine's the Acting—did you guys take it easy on him like I asked you to?"

The derisive snort that came from the speaker in the common room made everyone glare at it. There was a cough, "Oh…damn, the speaker was on? Sorry. Not even here." The click punctuated this.

"Blaine's brother Shane is missing," Reed said softly from one of the chairs. He was staring at his hands. "He went mountain climbing and there was a rock slide…" his hands were shaking—the way the coffee cup in his hands was shaking was the indication. He settled for putting it down. "I'm—going upstairs to…check on Blaine and Kurt and…finish my paintings…" He hastily left the room.

The Tweedles watched him go with raised eyebrows and look at each other. Charlie watched him go, astounded, and then flailed again to the others for explanation. "Again, something I'm missing here?"

"He…well, not exactly him—Shane was…" Wes struggled with the words. "Well Shane showed up during Winter Fest and he looked…very taken by Reed. We don't think Reed reciprocates this but…I don't know, he just started crying after Shane left after the New Year party."

"…Okay… and on that awkward note—" Charlie wheeled onto the Twins. "It was your turn this year. What happened? Please tell me that you didn't destroy—" the deep sigh and guilty mutters all around made him made him stop midsentence. He sighed. He should have known better than to ask the Twins. "All right, screw this." He began to take off his neck brace.

"Whoa! Whoa!" David leapt to his feet. "Should you be doing that? Chaz!"

"You think I'm going to want all this plastic on me when you guys clearly don't know the definition of holding back…?" he dropped the brace to the couch. "And I'm going upstairs to talk to Blaine. After all the torment of the past few weeks, he might need someone other than the new guy to—"

"No!" everyone chorused, dragging him back down.

Charlie, looking at all the hands on him, stared at them as though they'd lost their minds. "What's the matter with all of you?"

"Don't—don't interrupt them," Wes flustered, gesturing with his hands. "Let them have their moment. Ah…we've kind of waited forever for them to finally…be official."

"Officially what?"

David said it in his ear. Charlie gaped at him, and then sank his head into his hands. "Oh man, I am so lost. There are just no words to explain my confusion right now. It's just not possible that none of you updated me all this time. I'm looking at you, Han!" Charlie yelled to the ceiling.

"Hey, I don't keep tabs on everyone's love lives!" the speaker protested. "I've got way too many episode marathons lined up for that!" The speaker clicked off again.

"What has Dwight been doing all this time?" Charlie muttered without looking up from his pained expression.

"Generally still being him…" Wes said thoughtfully. "Actually..maybe a little bit worse. He's convinced that Kurt is cursed because of all the things that happen to him—"

"Then he better exorcise all of Windsor if the basis is "things that happen"," Charlie said sarcastically. He cleared his throat and looked around at the other boys, taking command by his air alone. "All right. We're going to sort out this mess. Wes, David, give me the shortest, least convoluted rundown of everything that's happened. Boys, I want you to do whatever you can to help Blaine's situation. Surely some of you are connected enough to do something. And I want you to downright spoil Blaine for the next few days. After everything you put him through, you better give back a little."

He turned to the twins. "And Pavarotti. Give him back to Stuart House or heads will roll!"

"But Logan broke a rule!" Evan protested.

"He told parents what we do here at Windsor!" Ethan supplied.

Being deeply rooted in Windsor ways himself, Charlie paused, considered, and nodded, "Okay, fine, the Warbler stays for a bit. But keep it alive and don't keep him in the common room. Put him somewhere that Howard wouldn't see so easily." He clapped his hands. "Move! Everyone! And get this room cleaned up! Now!"

The boys immediately scattered, ducking the elder boy's wrath, like cards flying from a deck. As Wes and David talked to Charlie, the Twins approached Pavarotti's cage and gave the little Warbler a good long look, considering where to best hide him.

Then they both looked at each other and smiled.

A while later, Dwight sighed and leaned back, grumbling. "No, actually…I'm still getting nothing from the pendulum."

"Maybe because that isn't a pendulum's intended use…?" The lightly freckled brunette on the other end was climbing shelves and pulling down dusty books, the "ancient library" interior contrasting with the Muse music blasting from the speakers. "I mean, are you sure you've want to do it this way?" She didn't often humor him like this, but it was a tender situation.

"Yes!" Dwight shot back into the phone. "You know, I've done this before!"

"Dwight, when you tried doing that before with your brother, it also didn't actually work well." It was the very blunt accusation, one that hit all the right nerves. "It didn't work the way you planned."

Dwight steeled himself and glared at the phone. "Are you going to help me or not, Aimee?"

Aimee McKleenan sighed and pulled two more books down from the collection. She was Dwight's go-to in Ohio for these things. As far as anyone knew, Dwight maintained several connections all over the country. If they didn't know any better, they would swear up and down that the spiritualist was running a Supernatural-esque hunting operation.

"Hey, I have siblings too," she muttered into the phone as she flipped through the pages. "I know how it feels… So yeah, this is me helping you…"

"Thank you," Dwight answered with a sigh. He had spent the last few hours sitting with a large map of the Colorado mountains, surrounded by candles, assorted rock crystals, ingredients, and one crystal pendulum hanging over the map. To the ordinary onlooker, he might have simply looked ballistic, but he knew what he was doing.

Or so he supposed. But when the pendulum failed to find Shane over the map, he decided to call for an expert. And he only knew one person in Ohio, and it would have to be Aimee and her everlasting patience.

This whole process was why Dwight was not present downstairs. He knew what it was like to lose a brother, and he out of everyone downstairs knew that far better than he liked. The moment he heard of Shane's disappearance, he had run with Han to tell Blaine the news—the way it should have been done to him years ago—and ran back to the house to use everything he had to find Shane.

He couldn't find Alan…not in time. But damn it if he didn't find Shane somehow.

There was a heavy thump as Aimee opened a book, rousing his thoughts from places they shouldn't be straying to. After a few moments of mumbling, she said, "Okay…it says when you're looking for someone, it would very much help if you had something that can be directly connected to the person you're looking for. I don't know if it'll work with that crazy method of yours, but—"

"But I don't know the guy!" Dwight protested, glancing at the ticking clock, knowing that time was crucial. "I don't have anything of his!"

With extreme patience, Aimee carefully spelled it out for him. "You mentioned being in a dorm with his brother...?"

"Yeah…" it clicked. Dwight blinked. "Oh! …you think I should get Blaine's blood?"

"Why does there have to be blood?" Aimee demanded incredulously. "Get a photo, a shirt of his, something!"

"Right! Right, you're right. One second, I'll call you back!" Dwight hung up and tore out of the room in a flurry of cloth. He rushed out of the oak door and went scrabbling to Blaine's door, slamming into it and knocking in a rapid, steady, unceasing flurry until it opened.

"Yes?" hissed Kurt as he leaned from the door, clearly restraining himself from a comment so sharp, it could've eviscerated that insistent door-pounder. He saw Dwight and frowned. "Dwight—if it's more food—"

"Food?" Dwight blinked.

Kurt rolled his eyes and opened the door a little more.

The Windsors cope with stress in their own ways and they like to think that they are aware of how the person they're helping "cope" does it. This would explain Kurt and the hundred-coffee-cup-plan that day they first heard him scream at Tabitha. Unfortunately, someone brought up the fact that back when Blaine was struggling with Dalton academics, he kept snacks around his room so he could eat some while studying (and mainly, this was because when he studied too hard, he forgot to get food).

So somehow, it had gotten into all the Windsors' heads—and there was little shadow of a doubt which identical pair of people put that idea there, because surely Wes and David knew better—that the way to help Blaine was with food. Kurt had left Blaine's room for approximately thirty minutes, couldn't be more, but when he returned, Blaine was absolutely surrounded with food—which ranged from fast food, to pastry, to full blown gourmet meals. The now ex-Acting Prefect didn't even have the strength to tell his well-meaning dorm-mates off and just let it all happen.

Kurt sighed and rolled his eyes at the mess, and at Blaine, who was sitting on his couch while talking silently on the phone with someone who sounded important enough for him to be quiet about it. Kurt looked at Dwight and motioned to the food. "Take one, I'm begging you."

"No, I'm here to see Blaine!" said Dwight immediately stepping in. "I need something of Shane's or relates directly to Shane."

"I beg your pardon?" Kurt narrowed his eyes at him. "What for?"

"I'm searching," Dwight said immediately. "I'm trying to find him over the map. It's not working. I need something of his."

"What kind of searching?" Kurt asked, arms crossed and frowning at Dwight. Really, at a time like this? Seriously?

"In this case, it's when you take a pendulum and hold it over a map and find someone—"

Kurt wanted to strangle him and could only repeat the words that should have been Windsor's house motto: "Are you crazy?"

"No…" Blaine hung up with whoever he was talking to and got up. He gestured absently to Dwight. "Give him what he wants."

Kurt stared at his new boyfriend incredulously. "What?"

"Here." Blaine tore a photo off the corkboard over his desk and tossed it to Dwight, who caught it easily. Dwight looked down at it and saw that it was one of Shane—just Shane, captured during a laugh that you could just hear coming out of the photograph—and he nodded. "Great! Thanks!"

And with that, Dwight fled the room. Kurt saw the door slam and he turned back to Blaine, walking to him with a frown. "All right this is too much. If you're humoring Dwight now, you have to sit down and calm yourself."

"No, if it's Dwight it's fine." Blaine sat down with a sigh. "You can…yell at everyone else for all this food, but you should let Dwight do what he wants."


"Dwight's probably the only one in Windsor who'll understand." Blaine leaned against Kurt's shoulder without much hesitance. "His little brother Alan also went missing. Dwight didn't know Alan was even gone—no one wanted to tell him—until he'd been gone for almost three days. Dwight was in a relative's house when it happened. He was thirteen and Alan was seven, but they were very close. Alan was found dead—in the exact spot Dwight predicted they'd find him in." Blaine sighed. "…didn't do well for his psyche. So if he wants to do this for Shane then I say give it to him."

Kurt got up and knelt in front of him, holding his hands. "Blaine…that isn't what's going to happen to Shane, you know. Don't give up like this. You're the last person he needs to give up on him."

"I'm not giving up on Shane," Blaine answered.

"Yes, you are. Look at you!" Kurt gestured to him, and around the room. "And all this! You haven't given up yet, completely, but I can see you're starting to. You're…breaking down."

"I just—I can't…" Blaine struggled to contain himself and failed. "I'm going out of my head here, I can't…lose Shane. I can't. I've lost everyone else from back then, and I thought I fought for my little brother—and in the end I ditched him. And now he's somewhere—"

"You did not ditch him," Kurt reprimanded, glaring at him. "There was no ditching involved. You coming to Dalton was a matter of you finally breaking down. It was the last straw. The fact that you held on for that long—it says something when you feel you finally have to run. It happens to people! There's only so much a body can take before…" He stopped here, letting out his breath. "…you'd think after you got me out of my old school, you'd understand." He turned away, wondering how to best alleviate his worries.

Blaine glanced at him and saw the frustration on his face. He smiled faintly and touched Kurt's cheek, making him look at him. "…I'm glad you're here."

Kurt gave him a tight smile, but his eyes never left his face. "…where else would I be?" Kurt leaned forward and put his hands on his shoulders. "You're the one who wanted to go out with me. So now you're stuck with me."

Blaine smiled and leaned his forehead on his. "…I'll take it."

Kurt leaned forward and kissed him briefly. Then he leaned back and said, "What did they say…the people you called?"

Blaine shook his head. "My parents finally answered. Mom sounded worried…dad sounded angry… But they're on their way to area as we speak. I…wanted to go, but they wouldn't let me. Told me to stay here. And wait."

Kurt moved a hand through Blaine's hair. "Then…we'll wait with you. All of us."

"I don't see why I shouldn't go and search with them."

"Because the last thing you should be doing is throwing yourself up those rocks." Kurt frowned. "I'm pretty sure that it's still dangerous after that rock slide. And then we'd have two brothers in trouble."

Sighing, Blaine leaned back on the couch, hand still dangling onto Kurt's. "I guess you're right, but… I can't help it. I feel like I should…be doing something more than this."

"There's not much more anyone can do…even if your parents are there, they'll also just be waiting." Kurt sat next to him again. "So let's wait. And…hope your crazy brother comes out of this in one piece."

Blaine nodded. He twined his fingers through Kurt's as he said, "Would you mind so much if you…stay here for the night?"

In spite of himself, Kurt turned scarlet. "Oh… I…don't mind. If you really need me to be."

"Yes, I do." Blaine wasn't looking at him, and clearly wasn't even reading too deeply about what he was saying, so maybe that was why he hadn't noticed Kurt's expression. He glanced back to him and said, "Only if you want to."

"Oh…I do." Kurt shrugged nonchalantly. Why was it this awkward now? And the situation—This reaction was completely uncalled for. It was for purely supportive purposes. He leapt to his feet, brushing himself off. "Well—I'll go…get my stuff. Bring it over. You just stay here and…" he looked around and saw nothing but food. He rolled his eyes. "…and eat, or something." And he hastily fled the room.

Blaine, who had been leaning on Kurt and had fallen into the couch when he'd gotten up, now watched him leave, a little puzzled by his alacrity. It was only then that he realized the implications of actually having his boyfriend stay in the same room as he is for a night. His face turned red and he groaned. "This is not the time for this!" he grumbled to himself.

He settled for turning on the television in the hopes of getting more news.

When Kurt walked into his room, it was a welcome relief to find the neatness as opposed to the food-fiesta at Blaine's. It was quiet and seemingly unaffected, but in the middle of it all, Reed sat in the central area, staring at one half finished acrylic painting.

And when he turned in surprise to look at Kurt, his roommate stared at the sight of his paint-stained hands and the tear streaks mingled with paint.

"Oh Reed." He took a step forward and his foot moved a piece of rumpled art on the ground. He looked down and stared with a frown, picking it up. It was the half-finished pastel of Shane, and it was ruined. "What the—"

"I couldn't finish." Reed muttered almost dejectedly from where he sat, turning back to his work. "…when it's him…I never finish."

"What are you talking about? You gave him a painting in the airport."

"That wasn't finished either. He couldn't tell the difference, how could he?" He stabbed a brush into the canvas. "…I never finish." He made one black streak that outlined a curl, and his hand shook—and he stopped. He threw the brush onto the ground, pushed the canvas away—it fell with a clatter and he couldn't even bring himself to pick it up—and buried his face into his hands. He looked angry, frustrated, and more confused than ever.

"All right, you have to stop," Kurt said, more severely than he intended as he crossed the room and to his friend. But in this case truly necessary. He shook Reed hard. "Look at me, Reed! Stop crying and look at me!"

"I...can't even breathe right now—!" the other boy choked, paint and tears running down his face. Kurt muttered under his breath, pulling out a few of the tissues from a nearby box and wiping the paint away.

Reed swatted him away weakly. "The last thing I ever did to him—was reject him! He's—" he coughed, laughed bitterly and hissed at the same time, that confused jumble of sound being the reflection of everything he felt about himself at that moment. "—I might not have returned those feelings when he said them—but he fell in love with me and that's never even happened before! Do you have any idea how damned guilty I feel right now? It's not fair! Why is this happening?"

Kurt ground his teeth. He put the tissues down and slapped Reed. It wasn't as forceful as when he did it with Logan, but it rattled the other.


The other boy seemed to come to, staring at him, one cheek scarlet. The tears stopped instantly. Kurt looked down at him, eyes blazing. "I'm sorry, but I had to do that. You were being hysterical. Shane. Is. Alive. Understand?"

This got a rise out of Reed. He had probably only needed to hear someone say it. "…I…" He blinked. "Oh, gosh, yes. What was I doing…?"

Kurt reduced the harshness now that he had his attention. "Until Blaine and I hear anything about a dead body, unless you hear anything from us directly, you're going to stop this crying—" he resumed rubbing away the paint from his friend's face and fingertips, "—you're going to stop scaring yourself senseless, and you're going to stop destroying your art!"

He grumbled as he picked up the canvas on the ground and put it Reed's lap. "Hysterics, that's all it is." He swept the paintbrushes from the table and into Reed's kit. "We have to focus, all right? I know you're upset—frankly everyone in Windsor is—but crying about it like this isn't going to help."

"Yeah…" Reed murmured, looking as though he just woke up. He fell silent for quite a long time, until he lifted his head, looking confused, "I'm sorry—when did you come in and why are you here again?"

Kurt rolled his eyes and shook his head as he wiped his own hands, getting up from the carpet. "I wish I had your expression on tape right now."

The door to their room flung open, and David and Wes were panting in the doorway.

"Hey!" Wes gasped, clinging onto the doorframe as David ran across the hall to Blaine's room to alert him. Wes was holding up a walkie talkie—and Han's voice was coming out of it. "Got something here!"

"Hey," said Han from where he was ensconced upstairs. He was working rapidly on his computer. "Following the search party's progress real time through satellite—"

"How are you doing this, exactly?" Blaine asked the moment he came up to them Kurt immediately moved to take his arm as soon as he did.

Han hesitated a moment before saying, "I…may have done a bit of creative hacking and 'borrowed' a spy satellite…"

At the succeeding silence, Han immediately added, "It wasn't like it's one of those aimed at another country right now, you know! And it was really quick, I promise. Like maybe a couple of minutes…half an hour at most…."

"I'm not sure whether to thank you or to hate you because now we're accessory to federal crime…" Blaine muttered, pressing his fingers to his temple.

"Just tell us, Han," David said.

"Search party ran across some sign of the climbers. They found something at the bottom of a gorge. It was all ruined now, but definitely something one of the climbers might have dropped. They don't know what it is, exactly…"

The others waited impatiently.

"…but they said it was a small painting in a tube."

Midnight came and went with no news from the search parties other than the one Han delivered. It wasn't promising. No Windsor wanted Blaine to go alone that night, especially after the news, but Blaine insisted that only Kurt would stay. Since Blaine was the boyfriend, he had precedence, but Kurt had misgivings about leaving Reed alone. Reed, on the other hand, all but threw him out the room.

"For heavenssakes, Kurt, leave," his friend had insisted, tossing him his things. "You think I want you to see me like this? Go—support Blaine or something. It's your job to help him, not me."

So Kurt went, but not without asking the conspirators to keep an eye on their befuddled friend. The Twins haunted the room for a while, until Reed booted them out for swordfighting with his paintbrushes. Wes and David were also in Blaine's room, helping him with all the food, until Charlie finally decided to get some order in the madness by telling everyone where to get off.

It had to be two in the morning when Dwight heard the soft knock at his door. He never lifted his eyes from the pendulum that flickered in the candlelight, the only source of light in the room. "…s'open."

The door creaked open. "My roommate's asleep," Dwight muttered.

"I know…"

Dwight looked up and saw Reed hugging himself in the cold, wearing those odd pajamas that were too long in the arms for him. His eyes were swollen. "…Can I stay here for a bit?"

Dwight studied him a long while. He noted that Reed had crossed the salt line at the door with no problems, and it wasn't three am yet, so it was likely that it was actually Reed and not some other kind of being. He shrugged and gestured for him to sit next to him on the pillows on the ground.

Reed closed the door, sat next to Dwight and put his arms on the table, peering at the map with glassy brown eyes, eyelashes still wet. "…what are you doing?"

Dwight was still carefully moving the crystal pendulum over the map. His eyes bore evidence of someone who had not stopped doing this for at least six hours. "…looking for Shane…"

"With…a necklace?" Reed asked.

"Pendulum," Dwight retorted, concentrating harder.

Reed watched the rather pretty crystal swing over the map. "…Pretty sure I saw this in a rerun of Charmed. You know they say this isn't how it actually works?"

"Shh!" Dwight mumbled. "I found Alan this way, I'll find Shane this way. And I'm not going to stop until I do."

"Who's Alan?" Reed asked.

"…my kid brother."

"Oh…" Reed was too numbed by the hour to have a real reaction. He buried his head in his arms with a sigh. He didn't know what happened after that, but he must have fallen asleep on the table. When he woke up, Dwight was still doing what he was doing, but there was a blanket around his shoulders.

"Did I fall asleep…?"

"Half an hour."

Reed studied the pendulum. "How long have you been doing this?"

"…since I heard the news…?"


"I told you. I'm not going to stop until I find Shane." He gestured without looking away to a photograph on the table. Reed carefully picked it up and saw Shane laughing in the photo. He smiled very faintly at the sight of him. "…when you're done…can I keep this?"

"No," said Dwight sensibly, with all that incorrigible stubbornness that he was so known for. "When I'm done, we'll find Shane and you don't need the photo anymore."

He sounded so sure of the matter that Reed almost smiled. It was that manic sureness that he needed to hear, and though Dwight's reasoning might be completely suspect, he decided to stay for a while longer.

Contrary to what Kurt may have expected, staying in Blaine's room for the night wasn't awkward. Everything was completely harmless. But they did share the same bed, and for a while, as they both lay there, leaning against the headboard with hands twined, both trying to sleep and finding themselves too worried to, there wasn't much either of them could do.

They waited.

Kurt was sure he fell asleep first, listening to Blaine breathe, because the blanket that covered them both when he stirred again later wasn't his doing. But he was awakened by music.

It was played low and softly, clearly in the manner of someone who didn't intend to be heard. But Blaine was sitting on the other dais, hands playing his keyboard. His dark-rimmed eyes showed that he hadn't slept yet. And he was trying to somehow, in some way, occupy himself during that wait.

His music sounded as though it came from somewhere far away, just like the expression in his eyes.

Woke up this morning

And I heard the news…

I know the pain of a heartbreak

I don't have answers

And neither do you

I know the pain of a heartbreak…

Kurt sat up a little, listening and watching Blaine. He didn't notice Kurt. It was hard to believe he'd notice anything right now.

Then confusion and the doubts you had

Up and walk away

They walk away

When a heart breaks…

Kurt walked to him silently in the darkness. This made Blaine look up for the first time. He realized that Kurt was awake and looked as though he was going to stop, but Kurt held out his hand and shook his head, gesturing him to keep going.

Blaine smiled faintly as Kurt now sat next to him, putting his hands on the keyboard and playing the music with him, their hands almost over each other's.

I heard the doctor

But what did he say

I knew I was fine about this time yesterday

I don't need answers

I just need some peace

I just need someone who could help me get some sleep…

Who could help me get some sleep…

Kurt smiled a little as they continued to play the music together, Blaine still singing. But he smiled at Kurt when he looked up at him. He looked a little better now, and that smile got just that bit brighter as their hands touched over the music.

This isn't easy

This isn't clear

And you don't need Jesus

Til you're here…

Then confusion and the doubts you had

Up and walk away

They walk away

When a heart breaks…

The music trailed away slowly, and Blaine leaned against Kurt as he put his hands over his on the keyboard. "…Sorry for waking you."

"It's a good thing to wake up to." Kurt let him lean against him for a moment. "Feel a little better now?"

"A little bit," Blaine nodded.

"No news?"

"Nothing yet…"

"Then come back to bed." Kurt smiled, standing up and pulling him up with him. "If you're going to handle this, you need to think rationally. And rationality doesn't come without actual sleep."

It took a little prodding and convincing, but Blaine finally gave in. When he fell asleep, he was staring at his corkboard of photographs, and it was impossible to tell if he was thinking about Shane or just everything in particular. He whispered to Kurt in the dark, "When all this is over…I'm never going to think about it again."

"About what?" Kurt asked.

He didn't receive an answer. Blaine fell asleep soon after, with Kurt following suit on the other side of the bed.

The sun was coming in through the windows the next day—detestably cheery. Blaine was still asleep when Kurt awoke and saw Wes and David in the room, the Twins leaning by the doorway.

David waved slightly and made it clear to not wake Blaine. Kurt carefully moved away from Blaine's sleeping form and walked up to the two. "What is it?" he whispered.

"Just checking." David glanced at Blaine. "How's he holding up?"

"He didn't sleep until four am," Kurt sighed. "I know because I didn't."

"Caterpillar says the searchers are going through the deep areas, hoping that the mountaineers just ended up somewhere out the way. They're hoping to find more traces of them." Wes looked a little distressed. "Reed isn't in his room."

"He's in mine." Dwight murmured, appearing at the doorway. He looked disturbingly heavy-lidded, his dark circles pronounced. It was the sign of someone who had not slept. "He fell asleep there."

"Howard told us to tell the Rabbit that he's not to go to classes today," said Evan.

"He can stay and wait for news. As far as we're concerned, we'd fly him to Colorado if we can," Ethan added. "But you said that his parents didn't want him there?"

Kurt nodded. "They want him to stay and wait. I suppose they have it under control…"

The walkie on the table crackled, making everyone jump. Blaine's sleep was apparently set on trigger for that specific event, because he suddenly stirred as though startled.

"You guys," said Han. "Development. Blaine, are you there?"

"I'm listening." Blaine was rubbing his eyes.

"Number of search parties expanded, to cover more ground. Someone with some serious pull had sent in extra troops, it's almost like a small army. They've just arrived now."

Blaine was surprised. "I…haven't heard of this." He was sure his parents didn't have that kind of particular leverage. He looked at the others. The other Windsor boys only looked at each other. None of them had sent the extra people.

Han didn't volunteer any more information. He only said, "Well…because of their number, you can expect news within the day. We're actually really lucky, that the mountaineers were missed early. We wouldn't have as much time as we do now. There's still a big chance they're somewhere alive. Hang tight, Blaine." The connection crackled again as Han resumed his radio silence.

Blaine looked at the boys. "You guys should get to class."

"We can cut and stay with you," Wes volunteered, but Blaine shook his head. "No. Go to class. I'll…I'll be fine here."

"I can stay," Kurt said, looking at him.

Blaine looked at him a long moment, as though deliberating with himself. He must have clearly wanted him to stay. But in the end, he shook his head. "…I…think I need to be alone for a while. You guys should go."

Kurt glanced away, nodding slowly. "…Fine. I understand." But he went up to Blaine and kissed him. Blaine kissed back, restraining himself from keeping Kurt with him as the other boy released him.

"I'll be here in five minutes at the instant something happens," Kurt said.

"All right."

"I'm not going to class," Dwight declared. "I have searching to do." And he swirled off again, returning to his room. He did say he wasn't giving up, and the Windsors, who could do no more than wait and prevail upon their parents to put more pressure on the search, almost envied his conviction.

No one could concentrate in class; that was evident. The professors who had the main conspirators as students noticed that they barely paid attention, and their phones were almost always out, waiting for news. After the second reprimand that should have merited confiscation, they just stopped telling them off altogether.

Reed didn't even come to class either—an inquiry to Han was answered with Reed in Blaine's room, painting, and keeping the elder brother company (in spite of elder brother's insistence that the painter should go to class). They decided to leave him to it. Artists were odd, often sensitive people, and they dealt with things their own way—not all people would understand.

When the entire school talking about the accident and how their lead Warbler's brother was missing in action, possibly dead, there was very low morale as the boys whispered in the halls.

Justin looked very distressed as he spoke with Charlie, walking down the hall amidst the gossip later that afternoon of no news. "It's gotten Hanover worried—so I can hardly imagine what it's like in your House."

"Well, it's not the bright atmosphere I was expecting—but they're rallying for Blaine," Charlie nodded, still limping on his one injured foot. "They're trying to bury him in food, but I've put a stop to it."

"Never thought of Blaine as the type who eats when stressed," Justin blinked.

"Oh no, he's the type who forgets to eat when stressed," Charlie shrugged. "Anyway, have you heard of anyone pulling some strings about this? Han Westwood told some of the boys that a large contingent of searchers got sent up. I know Blaine's family has pull, but not that kind. None of the other Windsors would account for it."

"Well no one in Hanover has done anything either," Justin replied, puzzled. "Spencer Willis might have the influence—he's the one with connections to the Marines—but he hasn't told me anything about sending people. Do you think I should ask him to?"

"Maybe, if still nothing turns up," Charlie murmured. "This must be eating Blaine up—I know he's got a hell of a history."

Justin nodded and saw Kurt pass them in the hall on his way to Warbler rehearsal. He was met by Wes and David, who seemed to immediately ask him questions, and Kurt only responded with a shake of the head, looking pale and worried, glancing out the window to the direction of Windsor House. Justin sighed. "The Alice is not taking it well either, I see. But seeing as how he's the boyfriend—"

"All right, why does everyone know the back story?" Charlie stared.

"We're an extremely chatty lot, I take it. But I haven't heard anything new all night. News?"

"None. But Han says we should expect some."

"That boy is a little odd," said Justin thoughtfully. "He's always in his room and barely attends class."

"Apparently his constitution is very weak," Charlie made a face. "Or that is, that's what his parents like to tell faculty so they let him stay in his room and pass digital homework. But he'll show up on exams."

"Well for now…he's very useful to the cause," Justin admitted. But mentally he questioned the rationality of everyone in the campus. Who else would be crazy enough to do these kinds of things anyway?

From Windsor House, Dwight was still hanging the pendulum over the map. He had not slept more than ten minutes. He probably knew every inch of the Colorado mountainside to the point that if he were given a sheet of paper, he could draw the whole thing out of memory. But he kept his vigil in silence.

On speaker on his phone, Aimee sounded tired. "Dwight…give it up already. You can't be doing this for twenty-four hours, it's just not human anymore. It doesn't work like that. Pendulums don't—"

"Not yet!" Dwight hissed.



Another ten minutes passed. And suddenly, Dwight made a sharp intake of breath. To anyone else, it would've seemed as though he had merely started to nod off, and the pendulum struck the map on a specific spot, but to Dwight—it meant a breakthrough.

"Aimee—Aimee!" He scrambled to his feet, knocking candles over. Hastily he stomped them out, but he was jubilant. "I've got it! I got the spot! I found him—I found Shane!"

Aimee sounded worried. "Dwight—wait a minute, calm—"

"Thanks, I owe you big time—I can take it from here!" Dwight immediately hung up. He circled the spot with a big red sharpie and tore the map from the table. He bolted from the room to find Blaine and the walkie talkie that communicated with Han.

That walkie talkie was currently in Blaine's room, where Reed was slowly putting down his paintbrushes. His face and clothes were streaked in color and his fingers were cold and numb, shaking as he lowered his arsenal. Before him, on an easel, was a finished painting.

He smiled tremulously. "…I did it. I finished…" I actually finished…

Blaine, standing behind him, saw the painting and smiled faintly. Reed had finished a painting of Shane. And it was the only finished artwork of Shane that Reed had ever done. And painted entirely out of memory, it was quite an incredible likeness. "Yeah. It's great, Reed." The painter only looked tired in answer.

Dwight came crashing into the room. "Blaine!"

Reed jumped and turned, stunned. "Dwight?"

Blaine looked stunned. "What's the matter?"

"I found Shane!" Dwight gasped. "I did it—I found him!" He grabbed the walkie-talkie from the table, nearly tripping over a beanbag chair as he did. "Han! Han, come in! Can you hear me?"

The whine of feedback from upstairs made the recluse wince tear off his earpiece, and glare daggers at the impertinent voice coming from it. "Yes," he said in an ingratiatingly polite voice. "I can hear you extremely well."

"I found Shane! See? I did it! Can you see me, you crazy omniscient net-addict?" Dwight was jumping up and down on the couch, flailing the map around to where presumably Han had a camera. Reed was panicking, warning Dwight to stop or he'll fall.

"You have a camera in here?" Blaine demanded.

Han just shook his head with sigh and put his hand to his head with a seething groan. "Dwight, hold still!" In two rapid clicks, he'd gotten a freeze frame of the flailing map. "I got it, you can stop now."

Dwight slipped off the couch and fell on top of Reed, sending them both crashing next to the coffee table. Blaine pulled them both up as, from his room, Han now studied the coordinates that Dwight had encircled.

"Dwight, how did you find this?" he demanded. "This is already being combed by the searchers—Seriously, did you just throw a dart and—"

He stopped when his computer gave him an alert of a new message sent in from the searchers. He looked up at where the origin of the message was. He stared. It was coming from the square that Dwight had encircled.

"…no way." He grabbed the headset and said, "Wait a minute, guys." He dropped the set and clicked on the message, and read it. His heart started to pound. He slowly leaned back.

Someone had been found.


He licked his dry lips and opened the second message. It was difficult deciphering this all—he only had access to one side of the messages that went back and forth. But he knew one thing as his hand shook on his mouse.

Someone had been found. A boy.

And he was dead.

Han lifted the headset again, hands shaking. "Blaine…I have to…ask you a question."

In unison, the Windsors' cell phones went off. Everyone, no matter where they currently were, pulled them out to see what it was.

Blaine's not in the House. Have any of you seen him? Can't find him. –H

The conspirators looked at each other. Immediately, Wes, David and the Twins bolted off to search. Kurt turned down the hall and hit "call" on his phone as he strode down, face white.

"Han!" he said the moment the Caterpillar picked up. "What do you mean you can't find him?"

"He's not in any of my screens. I'm trying to look at what I've got on the school, but I told you, it's not like I've managed to put bugs everywhere. Didn't even cover the grounds. I don't know where he is."

Kurt put a hand to the side of his head, looking worried. "Why would he leave…?"

Han seemed to hesitate for a long moment. "It…may have something to do with what…I mentioned to him earlier."

Kurt's expression immediately darkened. "…what did you tell him?"

Han looked deeply uncomfortable. "…from the exchange I was getting, some people were confused… From what I can get, someone had brought in a body of a dark-haired boy wearing this jacket from another high school… I…had to ask which high school Blaine and Shane came from just to…make sure."


"Stanton. …the jacket was from the Stanton High School Dance Club."

Kurt covered his mouth with his hand and sank into a chair, white in the face as he remembered the photographs on the corkboard—all the initials on the school was SHS. "Oh god…" He took deep breaths. "And Blaine…?"

"He didn't answer me. He just…stopped talking. And then he ran out and—"

Kurt hung up without so much as a goodbye, and he went running out of the school and into the grounds.

Partway between Windsor and Stuart, past an unfrequented garden path, there was a small memorial garden. There was a trellis crammed with flowering vines, and beneath it, a stone bench. It could hardly be called a memorial garden at all—at best it was just a place to sit that no one ever really went to. It had been out of the way, and rather forgotten, as it was in an awkward place, nearly jammed up against the wall of the school.

Blaine sat on that bench now, leaning forward, elbows braced on his knees and folded hands pressed to his lips the way someone would kiss their hands in prayer—if he was even praying. He stared blankly into the ground, trying to breathe.

Everything was still cold. He could still feel his breath leaving him too easily—too calmly for his taste—for someone who should be out with the search parties no matter what the Windsors said in protest.

His brother was out there, somewhere. It didn't matter that they found Reed's painting at the bottom of a gorge—it didn't matter that they found those torn cords and how they were now scraping the darkness in the rocks for any sign of the lost ones.

…it didn't matter that they found a body with the jacket.

He could believe he lost all his old friends—he could believe that Jude died, that Erin ran away, that Micah disappeared—but he refused to believe that he'd also lost Shane. Shane had been the only one who was really there from the very beginning. Shane, at this point, was really all he had left.

The sound of footsteps stopped in front of him. When he looked up, he wasn't sure what he was seeing was real.

"You shouldn't be out here," Logan said. He had no real expression. He was only stating a fact.

Blaine put his head in his hands. "Yeah." But he didn't move.

There was a moment of silence, and then a soft rustle, and Logan was sitting next to him on the bench.

Blaine almost turned to look at him. "...what are you doing here, then?"

Logan just stared at the dimming sky above them. "...you always came here when you were upset. When the Windsors couldn't find you, I assumed you'd be here."

"I'm surprised you remember."

Another unsettling pause. Blaine chanced to glance at him, and saw that odd haze in Logan's eyes as he stared at the sky. He wondered if this was what Kurt meant when he said Logan didn't look like himself—that medicated haze.

He hadn't even known all that time that Logan needed treatment back then. Or the reasons his father exiled him to Westerville.

He just knew he got angry, and he took it out on people. And all he knew now was that he was sitting next to him without persuasion, and he was simply being there.

"...I'm sorry to hear about your brother, Blaine," Logan murmured, still not looking at him.

After a while, Blaine murmured, "Why is it...that every time I'm sitting here, you'll show up...and there'd always be an apology happening?"

"Some things stay the same."

Blaine nodded absently, sighing to himself. "...I really hate this bench."

Logan glanced at him slightly, and nodded, hands to his knees. "...so do I."

There was a less awkward silence that followed as Logan leaned back and sighed, a cloud emitting from his lips. It was too cold to be out there.

"…Han said they found a body with Shane's old school jacket."

Logan nodded slowly.

Blaine sat staring emptily in front of him, his fist pressed to his lips. "…it's still sinking in."

"It takes a while," Logan agreed amiably.

"Why are you sitting there?" Blaine finally asked with no conviction.

Logan almost laughed, looking at his own hands. "…wish I knew." He sighed deeply and admired the view of the sky with his hazy eyes—who knew what he saw through them? "Maybe it's the drugs."

Blaine nodded slightly. Logan paused and added, "…or maybe just force of habit." He smiled faintly at Blaine. "I always find you here."

"Usually…it's your fault that I'm sitting here."

"True," Logan agreed, absently looking around what little of the garden they could see. "Ah…I did a lot of that, didn't I…?"

Blaine raised an eyebrow. "If medication makes you this agreeable, then I'll pay for the prescription myself."

Logan laughed softly. "My father has that covered."

"Your dad is still on your case, huh?"

"I would throw the biggest party in Dalton history if he ever "got off my case"," Logan said emphatically. And then in a complete non sequitur, "Amazing how little I hate you when I'm like this. Maybe that's one upside."

"When did we start hating each other?" Blaine asked with rather genuine confusion, trying to remember with a furrowed brow. "Because it seems to me like it was as far back as I can remember. That we didn't actually like each other all that much."

"Not entirely," Logan corrected. "There was point in time that we were pretty all right. Temporary, yes, but it was…all right."

The talk they were having now was one that had been long overdue ever since Logan had pulled the last straw—and that was throwing Blaine against the grand piano at Warblers Hall after the cataclysmic fight of last year, one that shook down the Warblers and made them enemies without doubt.

They had separated and never looked back, even when Logan had been seeing the soloist that was their mutual friend. They never looked back at what they had done to each other, until now.

"You were never really that serious about me, were you?" Blaine remarked with little doubt that it was true. "He was really the more interesting one to you."

"He just happened to be my rebound," Logan answered, with a trace of his old arrogance through the mellow tone he used. "And while I was willing to give him all of my attentions—he was more fascinated by you."

"He was never interested in me," Blaine glared. "He looked at you all the time."

Logan looked at him and smiled. "Kind of like how Kurt looks at you now?"

Blaine sat up. "Don't bring Kurt into—"

"I can't not bring Kurt into this, Blaine…" Logan answered calmly. "Because he's the culmination of everything I tried to change ever since I returned to Dalton. He's why I'm doing most of this..." he gestured to his state, "...to myself."

Blaine narrowed his eyes at him. Logan patiently explained, "I'm shallow, spoiled and petty—you're the one who tries to be mature, collected and supportive. Maybe that was why it didn't work. You were somewhere I couldn't actually get to." He smiled faintly. "That quality of yours, at least… I can honestly say…I admired from the very beginning."

Logan rose from the bench. "So don't lose your cool now… I find it really irritating and for someone who can't totally feel right now, that's saying something. Shane would disapprove."

He checked his watch. "My advice—fly to Colorado and see it with your own eyes. With the Twins' help, it'll be at most seven hours back and forth."

Blaine watched him walk a way off, then stood up as a thought came to him. "Logan."

The taller boy turned slightly on his heel in askance. Blaine stared at him. "…were you the one who called for the extra people to search?"

And to his surprise, the Stuart prefect smiled. "…having a US Senator for a father, even one who's a total asshat, does have advantages. I'm sure he'll find some way to use his 'charitable' efforts to his advantage in the political race."

Blaine stared, stunned. "…why are you doing this?"

"Firstly? I can't stand watching your dramatics. It's really, genuinely annoying. Secondly, it makes Kurt even more glued to you than usual, and that would be to my disadvantage. And since Kurt hasn't entirely shown that he despises my company, I'll keep fighting for that, medication or not. And thirdly…"

And here Logan turned away from him as he walked, "…you seem to have forgotten that a very very long time ago in some parallel dimension that vanished into a crack in the planet…that I had loved you, once. It's a terrible, horrendous thing of the past…but it had been there."

This was almost too much and Blaine could only stare after him, aghast. Logan stopped at the corner and smiled faintly.

"I'll tell the Twins to prepare your plane, and hint to Kurt where you are. I don't like seeing him worried, over you of all people. It's a waste." And he left.

A couple of hours later, Kurt in front of a car door, hugging Blaine tightly. The Windsors stood behind him, giving them room. Reed and Dwight stood with them, Dwight looking crushed, and Reed's paint-stained self clutching onto him, tears pouring from his eyes. Han was not present.

The Twins had told their parents the situation, and told them that they needed a private plane to get Blaine to Colorado immediately and back. Surprised at the selflessness of the request, the parents complied.

Blaine released Kurt from the embrace. He held his hands, looking a little doubtful. "…are you sure you don't want to…?"

Kurt shook his head. "This isn't something I should be involved in. It's…between you and your family. If it had been me… I wouldn't have wanted you around to see me have to identify my dead brother." Just the mere thought, Kurt realized, getting a cold weight in his stomach. If he had to identify Finn or something…

He shook his head. But he put his hands on Blaine's shoulders. "But I better be your first call out, you understand?"

"Couldn't think of anyone else to call anyway…" Blaine murmured. He hugged Kurt again and kissed him, holding him tightly for a moment. He whispered, "I love you" when he let him go. He had never meant it more, especially at this time, when it appeared that he could lose anyone—anyone at all.

Kurt nodded, replying with a smile, "I love you too."

Blaine pulled away and nodded at his friends. Wes and David gave him a quick tight hug each, patting his back heavily in support, before stepping back, looking awkward and unsure of what to do next. Blaine only turned to the others, gave them a small smile, and got in the car.

And just like that, Blaine left for the airport.

Charlie herded the unhappy troop of Windsors back to the House, sobered down himself by the events of late. Dwight was downright inconsolable, he was clearly holding back his snuffling even as he strode into the House. He went upstairs without looking at anyone and slammed his door shut.

Wes turned to Reed, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You all right, man?"

Reed just shook his head and walked upstairs. Kurt looked at Wes. "I'll take care of this. You and David just…wait with the Twins."

Kurt headed upstairs, but the Twins chased him at the landing. "Hey Alice."


"…Pavarotti's in your room. Make sure you feed him."

Kurt gaped at them. "You put him in my room? Why?"

"We took him to every room in the House," Evan said. "We tried to see where he'd like to stay!"

"He stopped chirping and settled in his cage when we put him in your room!" Ethan threw up his hands, staring. "Maybe he sensed there was the least danger in there?"

"In a room with Reed…mm-hmm…" Kurt rolled his eyes and just continued upstairs. He hurried after his roommate and found him in their room flopped facedown on the bed, getting paint all over his white comforter. And just like the Twins said, the prize Warbler was in the cage, seeming to watch the on-goings with some interest. Kurt sighed and shut the door. For his purpose of being ballast alone, these were the longest days in Dalton yet.

Kurt saw the painting facedown on the couch, and knew what it was before he picked it up. He blinked at the canvas. "Well…you finished it."

There was an unintelligible grumble from the bedspread. Kurt put the painting down and lay on the bed next to Reed. "I know you're easily moved, and I'm pretty upset by all this too, but is there a specific reason that you just have not stopped getting tears and paint everywhere you go…?"

The mumble was still gibberish. Kurt prodded his shoulder with a camel-hair brush. Reed rolled over, eyes wet and swollen.

"I didn't even get to say goodbye," he repeated to the ceiling of his canopied bed. He flailed with one paint-stained hand. "He just left. And I thought, hey, maybe I'll see him again. That would be nice. By then maybe I'd understand what the hell is wrong with me…" He rolled over again and continued the monologue into more unintelligible muttering.

Kurt nodded slowly, trying to analyze him. "…you finished the painting, Reed. You told me you couldn't. Does it mean that you've…figured out what to say?"

The "mmph" on the bedsheet meant "I think." Reed rolled over again, and was now lying next to Kurt, curls spread. "…but it doesn't matter anymore." He ripped out some tissues from the box by the bedside table and blew his nose. "There's no point."

"Blaine went to identify a body." Kurt pointed out. "We still…we can't be sure if it's…" He looked around the ceiling and sighed. "You really do like him, do you?"

"…is that bad…? When I haven't figured things out yet…?" Reed looked at him questioningly. "…is it bad that I like him when I haven't cleared with myself what…I am?"

"You're talking to someone who single-mindedly chased after straight guys," Kurt muttered. "I'm not going to be much help if you're trying to find sense in how you feel about someone."

"So…it's okay?"

"Only if you're okay with it," Kurt turned to him, raising an eyebrow slightly.

Reed smiled sadly. "…yeah. I am. But…" He leaned against Kurt's shoulder. "…I lost my chance. I just…kept thinking about the time we spent with him in New York… He's nothing like me, you know. He's out there, he's loud, he's crazy, he so sure of himself… He moves fast—I mean, he keeps managing to get me upright before I even properly fall over. He was just…someone completely different. He sounded sure the moment he saw me… and up until now I still don't see what he sees."

"Welcome to the mating life of the teenage boy," Kurt snorted. "When you figure out exactly how to determine exactly what goes on in the head of the person you like, let me know so we can patent it and become incredibly, crazy rich." He paused, then rolled his eyes. "Well, more than you are now."

Reed sighed and took Kurt's hand. "…does being heartbroken always feel this bad…?"

Kurt stared at the ceiling, squeezing his hand. There were a lot of memories to draw from. "…yeah. But even though it really hurts like crazy right now…it goes away. It takes a while, but it does." He glanced at him. "On the upside…singing about it can help."

"Seriously…?" Reed looked at him incredulously.

"Yeah it does, paint-face," Kurt smiled. "In my old glee club we just broke out into song when we found we had to sing about it. I know I did. You guys sing whenever you feel like it too, right?" He sat up. "Why? Was there something you wanted to sing to him all this time?"

Reed sat up and turned away, and stared at the painting.

It was nearing midnight. The Orion Ballroom was empty, but the stage was still there. It was almost boring for the Twins to open it for them. But the Windsor conspirators all went in, as Reed mounted the stage. Kurt stood on the floor across him, smiling up at him. He liked having his own solos, but he thought that right now, he wanted to hear Reed sing a solo.

David fired up the lights, which shone just at Reed, illuminating his eyes and the mist that had gathered in them. Reed looked out at this brightness and smiled faintly. The boys below him urged him on.

Reed smiled a bit more and took a breath, remembering who he was singing to—both himself, and to Shane, who must have been stumbling in the dark himself with no one to turn to. In the same way Shane had protected him for that one, short precious instant during the New Year, he had wanted to reach out so badly to return the favor.

He lifted his head and began to sing.

Don't give up

It's just the weight of the world

When your heart's heavy

I...I will lift it for you…

In Colorado, far off, Blaine walked into the large outpost being used as the headquarters for the search and rescue operation. He looked around and saw his parents. He tensed at the sight of his father, but when he saw his mother's wet eyes, he lowered his head and then managed to give her a small smile of comfort.

He walked to them and as he did, he saw the expression in his father's eyes. For the first time, they did not look at Blaine with coldness. They looked as though they really saw him, for once.

Don't give up

Because you want to be heard

If silence keeps you

I...I will break it for you…

Logan leaned on the window of his room, staring at the moon. Photographs were scattered across his feet. They had the faces from last year. They had once been precious to him, but they meant nothing now, in his blurred, numbed state.

But in his clenched hand, he held the music sheets of the song Medel had him and Kurt sing. And though them he could feel, for once. He looked down at the message from his father.

"I don't know what had gotten into you… But the search party—it was a good call."

Logan smiled to himself.

Everybody wants to be understood

Well I can hear you

Everybody wants to be loved

Don't give up

Because you are loved

You are loved…

Kurt smiled and watched Reed sing. He was singing with so much emotion that it was taking most of his breath out, but he kept singing. He sang his heart out.

Don't give up

It's just the hurt that you hide

When you're lost inside

I...I will be there to find you

Blaine approached his parents with a questioning expression, and his mother hugged him tightly. To his surprise, she was smiling at him. Smiling, hands on his face as though grateful. Blaine felt confused for a moment at their reaction to him.

She was telling him that it was all going to be taken care of. He wanted to see the body with the jacket, but his parents just shook their heads, saying that he didn't have to see anything. He almost protested—he wanted to see it for himself.

Don't give up

Because you want to burn bright

If darkness blinds you

I...I will shine to guide you

Dwight lay on his bed, hugging a picture frame to his chest. It was one of himself, when he was thirteen, flushed with life and happiness, hugging a small boy of seven, carrying him—a boy who looked like him, but infinitely happier, with bright eyes that laughed. The both of them were wearing wizard cloaks and waving wands. There were identical crystal pendulums around their necks.

The silver writing on the photo said, me and Alan, Halloween.

Dwight closed his eyes and let the tears run down the side of his head, clutching the frame tightly, and the pendulum that wasn't even his.

"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry… I should have tried harder, Alan... I'm so sorry… I'm making it up to you, I promise…"

Everybody wants to be understood

Well I can hear you

Everybody wants to be loved

Don't give up

Because you are loved...

Reed closed his eyes and sang with all he had, flooded by light.

Blaine's mother touched his shoulder quickly and turned him towards the door.

And at the door, being helped in by the medics, with a vast smattering of scratches and wounds all over, a bandaged arm, leg and head, but still utterly, completely whole, was Shane, looking at his brother in amazement.

Blaine's mouth fell open, a hundred emotions flooding him in the span of a second—all the time it took to meet his brother's eyes—before it all broke through and he ran to him.

You are loved

Don't give up

It's just the weight of the world…

The one they had found—the other mountaineer—was one of Shane's classmates, the person he'd saved when their climbing cords snapped in the rockslide. Shane had given everything he had to keep his friend from falling—and snapped a tendon in his arm in the process. Both had fallen down the rocks of the mountainside, and when the slide ended, they struggled to get back to a trail. They didn't even know what happened to the others.

Shane had left his jacket with his classmate to protect him from the cold. But when Shane, the one best able to move between them, went stumbling through the woods to find help, his friend died of internal bleeding. Shane was found hours later by one of the searchers. The rest of the mountaineers were being found, one at a time, at Shane's indication of where he had come from.

As Shane fell onto his brother, the first thing he said was, "Hey Blaine… I thought I lost you for a bit there."

Unable to stop himself, Blaine just hugged him, tears running down his face.

He hadn't lost his brother.

Don't give up

Everyone needs to be heard

You are loved…

"…and I learned that life is pretty damn short…so if it's okay by you…after they stitch me up…can you take me to see Reed? Because damn it—I'm just not ready to die a rejected man."

That was the second thing Shane said, and he was adamant about it. And that was the reason why in the clear Ohio morning that followed—in spite of every medical precaution against it, in spite of their parents protesting very vociferously against it, and after all testimonies were taken—Blaine stepped out of the car in front of Windsor house, and helped Shane out, in crutches, an arm sling, and endless bandages.

Kurt ran out noiselessly, still in pajamas, to meet them. He was smiling when he hugged Blaine tightly, kissing him, endlessly relieved at the sight of them both and gave Shane a gentler hug as well. Wes and David, leaning at the foyer, welcomed them all in, grinning. Shane grinned back, still scratched in one cheek.

Don't give up…

As Shane entered the hall and headed for the stairs, Dwight emerged from the kitchen with a cup of coffee and saw him. Shane caught his eye and he grinned at him with a nod before continuing up the steps. Dwight dropped the mug with a crash, eyes wide and mouth open. He fell back onto the wall, clutching the pendulum to his chest and he slid down onto the floor.

As Wes and David stared at him, perplexed at his incredible reaction, Dwight pulled his knees to his chest and burst into tears.

The Twins smiled down at him from the mezzanine.

You are loved…

Kurt let Shane into their sunlit room. From the window, Pavarotti chirped a small, questioning greeting at the newcomer. Reed was on his bed, having slept in—so emotionally drained that nothing woke him. He had cleaned the paint from his hands, and looked silent and serene, sunbeams resting just right on his strawberry curls. The tear streaks had dried. He was the most peaceful, awkward boy in the world, or so it seemed at that moment.

Blaine helped Shane to the side of the bed. There, Shane knelt down, took Reed's hand in his and laid his chin on the bed, just watching with his green-gray eyes and letting Reed sleep as he stared.

He stared as though he would never see enough.

And then, a stir, a flutter of eyelashes in the sun.

Shane smiled softly. "…hi."

On the next episode: When Harvey and Medel decree coveted duets for the approaching St. Valentines, there was definitely going to be some problems as the duels return with a vengeance: Kurt is determined not to leave without a lead, and certainly at least two people will be fighting to sing with him. Stuart still isn't happy about the missing Pavarotti, and the Windsor was not quite willing to give him up just yet. If this kept up, someone was going to have to call for "war" just before Valentines, and that was never a good sign.