Hi, I'm CP Coulter and I'm your author for this fic.
I first apologize for the delay. And the changes which will take place from what was expected. When I first began Episode 21, I had a certain plan for it, and then I handed that plan to my original characters-who proceeded to...well...take it all over the place elsewhere. It expanded into ginormous ways, and I ended up one day with over 31,000 words and as of yet no end. As a result, the next three episodes will be a mini Valentines Day arc, similar to the New York Arc that I previously presented. This is why it took so long-I ended up creating three chapters for what was supposedly one. It simply wouldn't let go, and I had to see it through. So here it is, the first part of a three part arc which will be released in succession.
I continue to thank the support of the fandom, of the Kurtsies, of the Glee fans in general, as well as the actual Dalton Academy Warblers, especially Dominic Barnes, Aaron Page, Curt Mega, Luke Edgemon and Riker Lynch who continue to indulge their fans far more than is necessary (Dominic and Aaron in particular, with their encouragement of "Dalton").
Again, I apologize for the lateness, and hope that you enjoy this episode and the succeeding arc.
(I do not own Glee or the Warblers. But I do know that I love them endlessly.)
Episode 21: Mismatched
I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy.
I imagine that things should be smooth sailing towards Valentines' Day.
Who in their right minds would like to make Valentines' Day a worse occasion than it already was?
…pretend I didn't just ask that and jinx the whole thing.
Kurt was trudging back towards Windsor House after another faux study session with Logan. They barely did anything at all—it lasted only half an hour, the both of them talking about neutral things, such as the terminal level of stress that was falling down over all the Warblers as the Fair approached. About how the professors were getting into the spirit and openly inviting other schools to come visit. And, of course, how the House rivalries reached a fever pitch as each House struggled to hold the best booths for the fair.
The two of them talked as though representatives standing at the edge of a battle line, negotiating with each other on how much information they were willing to give. There wasn't a lot to share, but Kurt could tell that his staying was more for Logan's benefit than his. It had been a while since he'd begun his lessons with him and the whole time, he had seen Logan and remaining relatively calm.
This had to be the only reason he was there, after all. To make sure that he didn't go too far over the edge,
"Are you keeping up with it, though…?" Logan had asked casually that evening. "You have to put up with all of the preparations happening everywhere, and at the same time have the additional pressure of being chosen as one of the leads."
Harvey and Medel came through with their word. Not long after the duels, the results were posted online to the great excitement of everyone. There was a commotion that had rose when everyone found out that it featured an odd combination: Blaine, Kurt, Reed and Logan had all made it in, and while that was predictable, the defining factor was that no one knew who sings with whom.
This had positively terrified Reed—who knew he would end up getting partnered with Logan if the directors choose to pair Kurt and Blaine together for the duet.
Kurt had responded to Logan, "Having the lead position is never an added pressure for me—I've been after the position for a long time. If anything, it's a reward." To which Logan had only laughed and nodded.
He and Kurt had not sung together since that first day, and it had never been mentioned. Logan did not bring the matter of duets up, and when he did now, it was to say, "You know, Reed should start to come over to practice. Or is he too afraid of me?"
"I think he may well be for obvious reasons," Kurt raised an eyebrow. "If he'd meet you anywhere, it'll be somewhere public, like the Hall."
"I suppose so," Logan agreed. "You and he are getting along?"
"You can tell him that I mean him no harm, then," Logan laughed. "And that, even though Medel hasn't officially said who sings with who, we really do have to start to practice. How about you and Blaine…?"
"We rehearse whenever we have free time," Kurt answered smoothly. "We're testing Windsor's patience. They can listen to our set of prepared duets only so many times. I think Wes knows every word already."
Logan leaned back, arms crossed with a smirk. "And speaking of tested patience… Is Pavarotti still wreaking havoc?"
Kurt's glare only made him laugh even more.
The truth was that even if the prize Warbler was in Kurt's room, it technically hadn't been his fault that Windsor House's doors and windows have been locked up for over a week. Every single nook and cranny that the bird could conceivably hop through had been shut tight—as it would appear that even though the illustrious Pavarotti had fled his cage, the bird wasn't quite prepared to abandon Windsor.
More than one boy had spotted him flying into open doorways, alighting on banisters and beams, and peering curiously at the on goings in Windsor House, doing a far better job at overseeing everything than Charlie himself did. Incidentally, the prefect continued to remain unaware that the bird was at large at all—Wes and David were sure that there would be hell to pay if Charlie found out that the prize Warbler was loose in Windsor with no one having any idea on how to get him back into his cage.
They tried, of course. And were still trying to no avail. Kurt thought that he might as well tell Logan, because he was the one supposedly taking care of the bird (as far as the teachers knew) and he was still going to catch fire if anything happens to Pavarotti, especially when he had the chance to get him back and did not.
"It's an ongoing fiasco…but at least while it's still freezing, we still have an excuse to keep all the doors and windows closed."
Logan nodded. "Well then if Windsor has it under control…"
"Windsor is never in control."
A laugh from the taller boy. "True. But the ambiance must be more relaxed than in Stuart."
"Have you all considered cutting back on your terrifying amounts of coffee, then?" Kurt grimaced, remembering the kitchen.
Logan raised an eyebrow. "This from the one who gets flooded with coffee cups in the morning?"
Kurt stared. "How did you know that?"
"Those Tweedle twins you've got in there talk a lot." Logan smiled. "I know their antics must not make things easy for you back in Windsor. How are you holding up in classes?"
Kurt just sighed and gestured to the books. "I'm starting to think I only got the ninety average on the assessment because of maniacal studying and the combined help of Blaine and the others. I'm down to what is apparently "average" in Dalton standards again."
"At least you're not failing," Logan smiled. "And I'm still helping you with Murdoch."
"Yes, let's all worship the great Murdoch," Kurt rolled his eyes. He then got up and began putting books into his bag. "Since the conversation has gone full circle—I think it's time to call it a day."
Logan looked only very mildly disappointed. "You won't have to keep doing this for long. You'll be off the hook in a little while."
That was true. Kurt only had a few days left before the "tutoring" condition got lifted. He thought about that as he walked away from Stuart House, and found that he didn't find doing time in Stuart to be completely heinous. And the truth be told, it seemed to be more therapeutic for Logan than it actually was about his studies.
Even the Warblers had noticed the distinct change in the Stuart Prefect's composure, how he seemed to be amiable and—heaven forbid—friendly, and people had very little doubts as to why.
Kurt exhaled, the mist issuing from his lips as he trudged through the grounds and keeping onto the pathways in an effort not to get slush onto his shoes. It was failing beautifully, and he heard a voice calling. "Kurt! Hey—Hey Kurt, wait a second!"
He turned and saw Bailey jogging after him, grinning. He still had those headphones on, turned so loud that when he reached him, Kurt could hear the music beating out of them from where he stood. "Bailey. What is it?"
Puffing from the jog, Bailey held out a notebook. "You left this in Logan's room."
Kurt raised an eyebrow as he took it. "Does Logan always get his minions to do his work for him?"
"He was going after you, but I thought it wouldn't be a good idea to let him run after you when you're so close to Windsor House," Bailey grinned. "He agreed. Your dorm's pretty touchy, and they wouldn't have stolen Pavarotti if they weren't particularly unhappy."
Kurt stared. "And…you're fine with this?"
"Pavarotti is a hostage of war and we know we're not getting him back from you guys unless someone as barefaced as you guys steps up to plate to attempt to steal him back." Bailey put his hands into his pockets and looked awkward. "Actually, I meant to ask you something. We never did have that talk either so I guess now's as good a time as any."
Kurt raised his eyebrows in prompting, and Bailey shrugged. "Hoping this doesn't come out wrong or anything, but…you and Logan…officially nothing there, right?"
"I'm dating Blaine," Kurt said with finality.
"Oh good," Bailey looked relieved. He saw Kurt's questioning expression and got flustered, "Oh! No, nothing like that, god no, but I just…you know… I know you and Blaine are… And what with all the problems with Logan and Blaine last year… so I got worried that—"
"A lot of people spend a lot of time worrying about those two," Kurt finally remarked, narrowing his eyes.
"For good reasons, I assure you," Bailey replied. "Because it wasn't actually bullying, the worst of it, it was treated as "instigating conflict" and "physical assault" on campus grounds. Blaine had the self-defense card and that was the only reason he wasn't actually expelled. But as for Logan, Ramsey threw him out. Mr. Wright had to step in to keep him—he was back in Stuart pretty fast…"
"And their third person involved?"
Bailey seemed surprised that he knew that much. "He could've stayed too, he wasn't actually in as much hot water as Logan was…" Bailey looked awkward. "But he got scared…he left and he didn't come back."
Kurt now just looked intrigued. "So you know what happened? Everything?"
"I'm thinking just the Stuart side of things," Bailey shrugged, hands in his pockets. "But if you really want the story, you'll have to ask Logan and Blaine directly."
"Well they'll never talk." Kurt rolled his eyes. "They only ever talk about it, or to each other, for that matter, when I don't seem to be around. I've overheard them argue enough times to know."
"Hey that's a good thing," Bailey supplied, grinning a little. "At least you know that they're not bringing you into their fight. But I thought Blaine and Logan were getting along a little better now?"
Kurt had to agree somewhat. They certainly still exchanged words with some hostility in their atmosphere, but it wasn't at all like that time when he overheard them snarling at each other through their teeth. "I'd like to think that they're making some progress in…I don't know, getting over it?" He rolled his eyes, walking towards Windsor.
Bailey fell into step next to him, and said, "You're okay, though? This isn't stressing you out?"
"I'm plenty stressed out," Kurt answered. "Between holding them apart and the academics, and Warblers and that fair coming up—"
"What are you so worried about the fair for? You're not working." Bailey snorted.
"It's open to the public. Which, as lead, will be my adoring public, and I have to make sure that I'm adequately prepared to perform in front of them," Kurt smirked, making Bailey laugh.
"So it's true," he said almost ruefully. "You are a bit of a diva."
"I didn't make it obvious?" Kurt laughed.
"Well good, Logan needs someone with a lot of personality that'll dare to talk back to him, and Blaine needs someone who can keep up with his moods…" Bailey grinned. "Interesting performance, by the way. Really enjoyed it. Glad you liked it."
"That, I will still…have to get back at him for," Kurt replied, remembering that dancing in Warblers' Hall and turning scarlet. They stopped walking just outside of Windsor.
Bailey nodded and said, "Well this is as far as I go." He looked at Kurt seriously. "Listen… you just be careful, okay? I'm glad to see that Blaine's happy again with you, and I don't like the situation of you having to deal with Logan's obsession either. But I think it's great that you try to help him a bit."
"If he stays calm, we'll stay on good terms," Kurt answered simply. "If he goes too far, I will blast him."
"Don't doubt it for a minute."
He and Bailey parted ways, and Kurt mulled Bailey over—he was the only Stuart that actually went out of his way to talk to him, and warmly, at that. The other Stuart Warblers were all right when in the Hall, but outside of it and inside Stuart House, Kurt could feel the exactness of the politeness they gave him.
He knew Bailey's friendliness towards him cost the Stuart some love from his dorm mates. Kurt had twice overheard them remark to Bailey, only half seriously, that he should move to Windsor. Bailey didn't really mind them, but Kurt could tell that between the house rivalries, Bailey was skirting a thin line.
And like everyone else, he acted was as though he had knowledge of some things that Kurt was still oblivious to. Kurt glanced back and watched Bailey heading back to Stuart for a few moments. Maybe Blaine, Logan and the Windsors had no plans of talking to him about things, but maybe he could get Bailey to tell him the story.
Kurt opened the doors to Windsor House. The blast that met him was nuclear.
"SHUT THAT DOOR!"
He immediately slammed the doors shut and a stampede of boys raced out of the kitchen, chasing the little yellow troublemaker that had been plaguing the house. Pavarotti swooped gracefully over their heads and landed on the upstairs banister.
Some of them were armed in nets, but as Windsor house was running full steam into booth preparation for the Valentines' fair, the house was crammed with all sorts of material that they were using to build. Kurt saw some of them waving long wood planks.
"You're going to end up killing that bird!" Kurt shot at the boys as they rushed up the stairs, Wes and David running upwards with nets and the Twins taking two steps at a time on the staircase bounding ahead of them.
"I got him!" Dwight yelled from the upper landing and swatted wildly at the bird at the rail.
"Dwight—be careful! Don't crush him!" David gasped.
Pavarotti was not quite so alarmed—possibly now used to the Windsor commotion—but he flew off just as Dwight reached the banister rail. He landed on one of the roof beams, and peered down at the boys below him as though amused and curious.
Kurt laughed and shook his head. "He's a lot smarter than a lot of the people in this house." As he headed upstairs, he added, "Where's Blaine?"
"In his room, singing, like he always is," Wes grumbled, staring malevolently at the bird that had previously swooped around his room. Pavarotti was unruffled by the glowers of the rest of the House occupants.
Kurt walked up the stairs and said, "You guys are going to want to tone it down—Charlie will be back any minute from varsity, and he'll go asking about what you're up to this time."
"This bird's more trouble than he's worth," Wes grumbled.
Dwight, however noted that as Kurt vanished into the hallway of the second floor, Pavarotti observed him. And a few moments after Kurt disappeared, the bird winged off into the hallway as well to disappear.
Kurt went into his room and found Reed's art everywhere. Canvases, pastels, oil paints, easels—Reed's room looked like it got hit by a grenade of art. This signaled the red flag going up immediately—especially when Reed seemed to have broken the cardinal rule—do not let any of this go into Kurt's side of the room.
Unfortunately, Kurt saw two or three scrolls of heavy paper covered with watercolors on that end lying just by his desk. He pressed his fingers onto the bridge of his nose in an attempt to summon calm. He tried very very hard to remember that Reed was under pressure for the forthcoming Parents Night that was scheduled to happen not long after Valentines, and that Reed was apparently to present yet another exhibit.
Dalton was showing off its best talents for the parents, donors and board members, and Reed, unfortunately, was now stretched between Warblers and his painting. Kurt suggested that he just use things he's already finished, but Reed nearly had a heart attack. For one thing, most of his paintings still remained in the Upper West Side gallery where they were waiting for their buyers. Secondly, Reed couldn't not present new art as his mother had promised to come to the Parents' Night and she would be expecting him to produce better output than the last time.
"Better" in art may be subjective, but Reed's definition of "better" was something that will make his mother happy enough to not bring up his being in the Warblers again. Hence, new work.
Kurt lifted his eyes. "Reed."
The boy in the paint-splattered overalls was lying on his own white bed with absolutely no concern about whether he was getting his paint on it or not. It was amazing how Reed could stand having all that white in his room where half the time he paints in it and it would end up looking like someone threw up a Picasso onto the whole side.
"Reed?" Kurt repeated more firmly this time.
Still no response. Reed was lying on his stomach on the bed, eyes scarlet and puffy. He had a glossy "book" (which was to say, a lookbook) opened in front of him. They were new, so they probably came from wherever his mom was last—Milan. Reed was brutally flipping through the gorgeous pages of gleaming models and blinding clothing, and covering each page with stickers right at the clothes.
After watching him tear through about five more beautifully photographed pages, Kurt narrowed his eyes. "Reed…? What are you doing…?"
Another savage flip of the page. Another stab of a sticker. "…choosing my clothes from the runway shows."
"…Reed, there's five stickers on each page."
"Yes well I want everything." Another frustrated stab. "I'll wear everything at the same time. Who cares? It's not like I'm going with anyone to the stupid fair." Flip. Stab. "Stupid fair." Stab. And another stab.
Kurt sighed and carefully went over to him, exercising caution as he peeled him away from the books. Valentines' Day wasn't even here and it was already becoming troublesome. "Let's go…come on…"
Reed was a complete rag doll—he didn't even protest as Kurt dragged him off his bed. But Kurt tutted in impatience and his friend at least walked with him before flopping down onto the couch. Kurt sat primly next to him, tossing his satchel somewhere where it wouldn't crush any paintings. "You have got to get a grip," he said without preamble.
"I tried calling. I got his voicemail. Hi, this is Shane and I'm most likely doing something more important than talking to you, so leave a message—"
"Shane's voicemail doesn't sound like that—I know because Blaine calls him."
"Well fine! It's just that…well he said if I called when I needed him, he'll be right over! And he's not answering!" Reed hugged his pillow. "You can't blame me for being a little disappointed. Is it so wrong that I want to spend one—just one—Valentines' day with someone I marginally like more than friendship?" Reed complained. "Just to, I don't know—see if it was as big as deal as everyone made it out to be?"
Kurt groaned in exasperation. "It's a commercial holiday, Reed, I thought you of all people would know that. It's just a fabrication. If you want to spend time with someone you like, there shouldn't be one set day."
"But you're still prioritizing spending the whole day with Blaine," Reed raised an eyebrow.
Kurt sat up a little straighter, flushing a little. "That…while being true…is not the point." He glowered at Reed when he started to laugh at this. Kurt turned to him and said, "You'll be fine. Whether Shane starts picking up his phone or not, you'll be all right. Besides, you might be running in a little too fast into this."
"What do you mean?" Reed asked as he leaned back on the couch.
"Well, no offense, but you said you were still a little bit confused." Kurt gave him a withering expression of doubt. "And everyone of sane mind questions your selection of Shane. You and he are pretty much clashing colors."
"I don't feel confused when I look at him."
Kurt raised his eyebrows at his tone. Reed was staring at two paintings at one end of the room. One was a riot of colors, the other was a silhouette of a person, surrounded by smooth swirling tints that spiraled upward. "…I wish I knew why. It's like all the voices in my head shut up."
Reed stared at his hands. His phone was in it. No messages. "…but I guess you're right. …maybe it's a little…fast. And…I'm getting myself too worked up."
Kurt considered him and nudged him a little. "You really like that curly-haired screwball all that much?"
"If I said no, would it be convincing?" Reed gave him a pained smile. "Because I've tried telling myself that in the mirror a million times—it's not convincing me."
"Fine—but Blaine and I are chaperoning you two. You're accident prone, and he's an accident waiting to happen."
"I have to get a hold of him first," Reed glared at his phone. "He's not setting foot back to Dalton without a good reason, I might as well give him one."
"Why isn't Shane bugging you at all hours of the day…?" Kurt wondered out loud. "I would've figured your little stalker would ask if he knew about the fair, but even Blaine can't get a hold of him…"
"Finally!" Blaine glared at the window, phone to his ear. "What have you been doing? I was just about to go over there and see if you broke your arm for real this time."
The laughter on the other end was jovial and breathless. "Oh man, I'm sorry. I was—well, I was busy."
"Tell me you're not destroying anything in there again, Shane."
"I'm destroying my weakness, but that's about it." Blaine could almost hear him grin.
"What do you mean?"
"I'm…healing." Shane stifled a laugh. "I'm giving myself physical therapy. I want to be able to walk and maybe run by the time your fair thing came around."
"What?" Blaine asked incredulously. "Look, are you sure you should be doing that? You might just hurt yourself more, you need time to heal."
"Look, I'm a dancer, I'm in the best shape of my life prior to the accident—I can handle this. Blaine, I am so not taking Reed to the fair on crutches. There is no way. So I'm ignoring my phone, focusing on nothing but getting better and walking or something." Sound of something metal hitting something wooden. It might have been a crutch coming in contact with the antique Austrian couch. Blaine winced as a knock came in his door. He crossed the room to address it.
"And yes, maybe I haven't asked him out yet, but once I'm confident in my condition, I will bug the ever loving hell out of him until he agrees. I'm talking spamming his phone until it explodes or something. He'll have to say yes if only to get me to shut up."
"I don't put it past you," Blaine raised an eyebrow just as he opened the door, and found Kurt there as usual, smiling at him. Blaine smiled back and let him step in as he told Shane, "Look, can you at least promise me not to overdo it? Remember when that one time you wanted to make sure you were in perfect condition for a performance and you broke the dance hall mirrors?"
"I stand by my claim that it was an accident and the mirrors shouldn't even have been in that position."
"Yes, because blaming inanimate objects and fixtures is always the way to go. I have to go. Kurt's here."
"Well don't let me interrupt your passionate makeout session."
"You're going to get to the next base eventually, right? You're not going to stay glacial like that, right?"
Blaine rolled his eyes and hung up. Kurt was looking at him in surprise. "Was that Shane?"
"Yeah." Blaine pocketed his phone and sat next to him. He leaned forward and gave Kurt a kiss. As Kurt returned it, he said, "He finally answered his phone?"
"Yeah, but the situation is nearly the same as I imagined…" Blaine pulled him closer.
"Blood, destruction and broken bones?" Kurt leaned into the kiss a little bit more.
"At least he's breathing…"
Conversation trailed away in favor of warm kisses and touches that wandered past cloth—hot breath and lips that trailed over heated skin. Kurt shivered as his shirt rode up just enough to expose that sliver of skin at his waist that Blaine's questing fingers trailed over.
"Mm…so much for practice tonight, then…" Blaine breathed against Kurt's lips as Kurt leaned into Blaine's hand on the small of his back. They usually didn't let hormones get the better of them in light of all the other things they had to do, but Kurt wasn't one to turn this down.
"Please stop talking…" Kurt admonished softly as Blaine brushed his lips over Kurt's jaw and down over to the pulse. "You're ruining the mood…"
"I'm just saying…" Blaine murmured over the beat of Kurt's pulse. "You're the one who's worried about the pairs… and Harvey and Medel did say to prepare for anything…"
"Mm…we're prepared, I think…" Kurt leaned so far back that he fell against the couch pillows, Blaine following him down and moving over him as their lips met again. Blaine pressed down on Kurt, one hand cradling the other boy's head as they kissed deeply. Just as thought began to eke away, overpowered by touch and heat—
—a soft chirp echoed above their heads.
Both boys froze.
The chirp repeated itself.
Kurt raised his wide eyes over Blaine's shoulder to see that on the back of the sofa, at the highest point of its shallow arch, stood a little yellow bird.
"…oh my god."
"Tell me that's not…" Blaine closed his eyes without moving or turning.
"He's close enough to hop onto your shoulder," Kurt whispered, not taking his eyes off the curious little warbler.
"Damn it, Pavarotti…" Blaine made to move but Kurt grabbed his arm. "Shh!" he hissed. "You'll scare him off."
"We can't catch him with our bare hands anyway…!" Blaine hissed back. "How did he get in here?"
"Probably flew in when you let me in," Kurt responded, hands itching to grab the little bird from where it was currently preening as though without a care in the world. His eyes wandered around, looking for something they could probably use to catch him with, unlikely as it was, and saw that Blaine's window was open.
Blaine glanced to it. "I forgot to close it before letting you in."
"He'll fly out."
"On the count of three—I'll close the window, you run to the door and call the others, just make sure he doesn't get out. At least we've got him trapped in my room."
The bird just chirped.
The two boys locked eyes—and bolted in opposite directions off the couch. Pavarotti fluttered quickly upward, thus beginning what would be the biggest fruitless chase of the night, culminating in the near complete obliteration of Blaine's dorm room.
"All right, we heard that all of you have been getting concerned about how little we've focused on the fair," said Harvey as he walked before them the now empty Hall. The others had been dismissed. The only people who now remained were the four leads for the Fair performance, and the understudy pair, the twins.
"But I want you all to know that this is because this performance is basically routine for all of you. There isn't a whole lot of pressure on this the way Regionals and Parents' Night performances are and we wanted most of your focus on that. Aside from that, we are wholly confident in the abilities of the four leads…" Harvey nodded to Blaine, Logan, Kurt and Reed, all of whom sat together. "And their seconds." He nodded to the Twins, who grinned brightly. They had placed just after the other four in the vote.
Medel spoke from where she sat the piano, smiling at the four. "We've selected the pairs as well as a list of songs you all may choose from."
Kurt glanced at Blaine proudly. Kurt had done nothing short of borderline haunting the female director and pelting her with hints about the songs that he and Blaine had already been practicing. He had very little doubt that he and Blaine would end up with the plum duet among the list. There was no way he was giving up that particular song—it worked too well with him and Blaine and they'd practiced tirelessly.
Harvey nodded to the four boys and glanced at the sheet music. "Well then, as the first pair will be our two standard-bearing leads, the second pair will be our newcomers—"
"Wait." Kurt stood rigid before he could stop himself. "What do you mean, the first pair are the two standard leads and the second are the newcomers?"
The Twins' mouths hung open in shock. Harvey pulled off his reading glasses and glanced at Kurt, not sure how to take his reaction. "I don't think I can be clearer than I already was. The first two will be Logan and Blaine. You and Reed will be the other pair."
Kurt looked at Blaine with wide eyes and Logan sat looking startled. Reed immediately looked distressed, wringing his hands as both Blaine and Logan now looked at each other with piercing sidelong glances.
"It was the obvious choice," Harvey continued, wondering why he even had to explain this. "Logan and Blaine have more experience so they should be able to work together better. Kurt and Reed have shown that they are excellent together as well in their performance during Winter Fest and that incredibly unorthodox cheer performance that apparently happened over the football game…"
Kurt sank back into his chair looking a little shaken. Reed looked at him, whispering, "Don't get me wrong—I'm thrilled to death that I'm not partnered with Logan, but this…" he glanced to where Blaine and Logan looked rigid in their seats, clearly deep in serious thought. "…this is kind of bad."
"Bad?" Kurt stared hard at his friend, the word hissing through clenched teeth. "Bad is that fall Beyoncé took down the steps during her concert. We are talking what the hell like Lady Gaga being ineligible for the Best New Artist award in the Grammys here." He turned to the two sitting next to him.
Blaine was hardly ever one to protest Harvey and Medel's judgment but he didn't move when Medel held out the list of song selections that he and Logan were to choose from for their duet. Logan was the one who leaned forward and took it with a smile at Medel, who gave them a look of confusion. Kurt carefully took the sheet from Medel, holding it between his fingertips as though he wasn't prepared to do so without safety gloves.
Medel gave them a look over, and then glanced at Harvey. Harvey knew distress when he saw it, and he knew that this reaction should've been rather expected.
"I understand that you all might have been expecting something else," Harvey remarked, looking at them. "But we believe our selection of the pairs are sound." He turned a hard gaze at Logan and Blaine. "And I understand that everyone in this room is perfectly aware of the problems you and Logan may have had in the past—" the room was virtually icy at this point, "—but part of being in the same team means pushing past that. If you and Blaine can't work together in this, then you're not going to be able to work well together in the Warblers as you should be. Avoiding each other during performances might work for you, but you've got to meet head on in this one. Find a way to deal with it."
"And Logan, Kurt," Medel smiled apologetically. "I know you both can work together well, but since the Fair will be open to the public and we haven't finalized anything for Regionals, we want to keep you and Kurt on reserve."
"Wait—" Blaine looked up as Kurt felt the color drain from his face. "What do you mean, Logan and Kurt?"
"They've…never sung together before," Reed said with a short, nervous laugh.
The Twins looked immediately to Logan who, for once, looked a little taken off guard. Medel smiled a little, not sure about what was going on, but said, "I've heard Logan and Kurt sing before. I was trying to get Logan to do a little better—he didn't seem to be taking it so well after the holidays. I asked Kurt to step in and help him with a duet and…" She threw up her hands a little with a short laugh. "They were quite a pair. They're not like when you sing with him, Blaine, and they're not like when he sings with Reed. It's…interesting."
"How interesting?" the Twins asked with frozen smiles.
"I told them that they had a likelihood of performing together for Regionals," Medel answered.
Reed sank his face into his hand. Blaine looked at Kurt, who was staring at the floor with intensity to set it on fire, rigid. Logan eyed him, then Blaine's startled expression, and then turned to Medel. "Be that as it may, they are not singing together this time. Blaine and I are." He smiled that same composed smile that won parents and professors over left and right. "There shouldn't be a problem then, since Blaine and I have sung together in the past."
Harvey knew Logan far too well to fall for that grin. He had seen it once before, used in an occasion with him and Blaine involved, but the third person wasn't Kurt. And Harvey knew that he was being faced down by another powder keg. The question was whether or not they could even diffuse this enough to perform well at all, no matter who the pairs were.
He narrowed his eyes at the group. "…I'd like all pairs to prepare a demonstration by tomorrow."
All of them stared. "T-tomorrow?" Reed stared.
"Yes, tomorrow," Harvey gave them all a hard stare. "You have the songs, you all have time on your hands, and you know who you're singing with. Most of the songs on your list are ones already in our repertoire, so you can get any other members you would like as your backup. Tomorrow is more than enough time for a short demonstration. Just to see what you boys can do."
Windsor was a disaster zone—debris of booths and banners and Fair necessities were scattered all over the dormitory. Boys were running back and forth through the halls, carrying materials for booths and the sound of construction and work was everywhere.
Charlie worked tirelessly, overseeing everything. He looked down at his clipboard where all the boys had listed their approved booths for the fair and looked over the progress.
"Look, Drew—are you sure this is right?" he asked the boy in the lab coat. "You can't actually be selling love potion."
"Technically it's a love serum," corrected the chemist, pulling up his goggles. "Pheromones and other substances that can produce mild euphoria combined in a single serum! It'll be effective, trust me. It'll be the hit of the fair."
"As long as it doesn't explode before you actually get this stuff out…" Charlie eyed the chemistry setup in the kitchen. "And keep them far far away from the food for the fair." He strode out of the kitchen just as there was a powerful whistling sound from within and he calmly ducked as the kitchen was rattled with an awe-inspiring boom.
"Okay…" Charlie scratched off that project on his list. "Let's see now…" He looked up at the entrance hall and groaned. "Guys, come on! Don't leave this stuff here!" He kicked some plywood boards on the floor, half painted. "Whose—" He saw that the letters spelled out, "Jail booth" and sighed. "Wes! David!"
"It would be a whole lot easier to keep track of everything if David wasn't on the phone all the time!" Wes yelled from the common room where he was building the jail bars. He gave his best friend a glare but David turned to him, pointed to his phone and mouthed, "Katherine."
Wes sighed deeply and just nodded. "Yeah, all right…" and continued to hammer.
Charlie did a double take at Wes' dejected expression. "…single for Valentines, Wes?"
"First time in a couple of years, yeah."
"Better than having that harpy on your shoulder." Charlie grinned. "Or was it Banshee?"
"You're single for this year too, Chaz, please—we heard about you finally giving Leslie the axe after she screamed at your cousin," Wes snorted and Charlie colored scarlet. "That girl's got some serious jealousy issues."
"A guy's got to put his foot down when a guy's got to put his foot down," Charlie sighed.
At this instant, the doors to Windsor banged open and something far colder than the wind entered. Charlie looked up along with the others, and Dwight frowned from where he was sitting on the stairs. Blaine looked upset, Kurt looked frustrated, Reed looked scared and the Twins were disapproving, arms over their chest. At this point, everyone could see that Kurt had just wordlessly skipped his mandatory tutoring session at Stuart, and that wasn't a good sign.
"You're back," Dwight said in surprise as Blaine passed him without a word or a greeting to anyone else in the house. Dwight turned to Reed when Kurt did the same. "How'd it go?"
"Awkward," Reed replied softly.
Dwight blinked and glanced back to where Kurt and Blaine disappeared upstairs, both followed by the little yellow bird that had been observing from the rafters. "What did Logan do now?" Wes demanded from downstairs, looking up.
"Shockingly, it wasn't just him…" Reed shrugged a little, worried. "Harvey and Medel want Blaine and Logan to sing together for Valentines."
It was a bad time to be doing anything whatsoever in that entrance hall. The boys sprayed their drinks and dropped their tools and things. And all flashbacking to the events of yesteryear, the boys exploded:
When Kurt slammed the door, it almost made Blaine jump. He hadn't expected him to follow. Kurt was frowning. "You've been quiet all the way back, you wouldn't look at anyone. What is your problem?" He tore off his coat and dropped it and the satchel unceremoniously onto the floor.
Blaine gave him a glance. "Nothing is wrong."
"Yes, obviously, since your brows have been so knitted together they might as well be a Gap scarf," Kurt snapped. "Tell me what's wrong. You're not hiding anything from me—I know you well enough by now."
"Interesting considering that apparently there are still things about you I don't know…" Blaine muttered under his breath.
Kurt straightened up. "What did you say?" he demanded, eyes narrowing.
Blaine exhaled as he took off his coat. "So now you're singing with him…?"
"Medel asked me to," Kurt said, frowning as he sat on Blaine's bed. "I was there, Julian was there, we heard him sing and she asked me to sing with him. I don't really see the big deal here, can you clarify?"
Blaine just shook his head, fixing the music sheets on his desk. He glanced to the corkboard just once—very fleeting. "No. Nothing to clarify," he answered stiffly.
This was really starting to get to Kurt's nerves. He licked his lips and tried to calm himself. "Look. No one else would've done it. He was all drugged up again. None of you like him—"
"For really good reasons, though?" Blaine answered almost sarcastically.
"—and I just wanted to show him that someone was willing to tolerate him."
"You kind spend a lot of time with him as it is, seeing as how he's practically stalking you."
Kurt looked scandalized and he felt heat rise in his chest. "I'm being tutored by him thanks to Murdoch and we don't even talk about that much else." He gestured towards Stuart House in frustration. "We talk about school, about the Warblers, about how deeply stressed out everyone in Stuart his and how hyper everyone in Windsor is." He held himself cold for a minute. "…I…I sung with him in his room once." He quickly continued when Blain seemed to exhale and throw up his hands. "But just once! To practice for the duel, and it's never even come up again. I sang to you then—I didn't sing with him, even. Julian did."
"So what else haven't you told me?" Blaine said silently, not looking at him where his palms were pressed hard onto his study desk.
Kurt stared at him, hardly able to believe that he was getting worked up about this. He sighed in frustration and said, "What is the problem here? I sang a practice duet with him. Did you think I spend my time in Stuart flirting with him?"
"Well you don't deter him!" Blaine suddenly snapped.
Kurt flushed furiously, rising to his feet. White hot rage was funneling quickly through him. "What do you mean, I don't stop him?" he demanded, voice rising. "I tell him each time that I'm with you and that the situation is unlikely to change! He's the one who keeps pushing!"
"Singing duets with him encourages that pushing," Blaine answered, turning to him. He looked agitated. "He thinks he has a chance and all this is just making it worse—!"
"You're saying I'm making it worse?" Kurt exploded, striding up to him. "You're the one making a mountain out of this! I don't see him that way—all I want to do is keep him in his place, which is at arm's length from you and me!"
"How is this arm's length?" Blaine asked, incredulous and matching his intense glare. "Tell me, Kurt, because it looks like you and he are starting get a little too close for comfort! You want me to just sit here and watch that happen?"
Kurt narrowed his eyes. As far as troubled waters went, he and Blaine were about to have a storm. "So you think, that I'm running around behind your back, is that it?"
"No!" Blaine answered, even though his face flushed as his own voice rose. "I'm saying, you should take it from someone with a lot more experience with handling that lunatic—he's trying to get into your head! He's luring you to him!"
Kurt snarled. "Yes, Blaine, because I'm a complete idiot and I would definitely fall for that one—I'm sorry, have you seen him? I may not know what he had been like when you were with him, but from my viewpoint, he's miserable, he's drugged, everyone in campus nearly hates him, and if trying to tell him that he's not alone is wrong—"
"It doesn't work that way when he's in love with you," Blaine burst out, almost spelling it out for him. "You're not helping him, Kurt—you're not! You're leading him on! You're letting him think that you may have some smidgen of feeling for him and he's out there just fanning the flame! The safe bet is to just stay away from him and let him work it out by himself! If you want to help him, he's got to be weaned away from you!"
"And by himself, he's falling apart!" Kurt yelled back. He groaned, exasperated, throwing up his hands. "This isn't even about him, is it? It's you! You don't trust me! You're practically telling me that I am cheating on you! All this being 'too close for comfort'? It looks like your comfort levels are a little sensitive!"
"And they have a right to be!" Blaine shot back. "I've seen this all happen once, I don't want it to happen again! And especially not with him! You could've at least told me this was all going on—I didn't want to listen and to stand there and find out through Medel that my ex and my boyfriend are serenading each other when I'm not looking! And I would've thought you'd take some of my feelings into consideration before running off with him!"
"I am not running off with him!" Kurt screamed. "Why can't you just understand that it's you that I'm in love with?"
Kurt didn't know when the tears happened. But they were hot and angry and they ran down his cheeks once and never flowed again. There was too much rage and frustration to cry. He didn't want to even look at Blaine anymore. He was going to throw something at him in the next instant and he was going to end up making sure that it would be something that would leave a bruise. Or maybe a concussion that would wake him up to the fact that Kurt was fighting to keep Logan away from Blaine and their relationship. That in everything Kurt had done, he had let Logan know with repeated confirmation that Kurt and Blaine were together and nothing Logan said would change that. And that the only way Logan would ever accept it is if he stopped being so angry—if he had someone who didn't look at him like he was a total monster.
Blaine didn't know what to say when he saw the tears. Everything inside him felt cold, angry and betrayed. He told Kurt what happened with Logan himself. He couldn't understand why Kurt couldn't just stay away from him or why he had to keep treading that line between them—why he had to hide it; why would he hide it if he wasn't guilty? He couldn't understand why Kurt wouldn't listen—why he couldn't just be with him and ignore Logan and his advances. It was all too much, it reminded him too much of before—as though each bruise was still there—and he wasn't prepared to lose him and not to Logan. Not after everything.
But Kurt was crying. And Blaine was angry.
And both their words had hit home.
Kurt shook his head, biting his lip so hard he tasted the coppery tang of blood. He turned from Blaine and snatched up his scarf and satchel with a breathless choke.
"Kurt—" the name was out of Blaine's lips before he could stop himself.
It didn't matter—it went unheard. The screaming in Kurt's head was pushing out the rest of the audible world. With a breath broken with a sob, he strode to the door.
"Kurt!" the second time was intentional, but Blaine didn't—couldn't—move.
Kurt gave him one last look—it lasted barely half a second. That blue-eyed disbelief and disappointment that Blaine never wanted to see. And then he slammed the door shut and was gone.
When Kurt turned around in the hall, he had a hand pressed to his mouth, furiously trying to hold back the next sob. But when he raised his eyes, he saw several pairs staring back at him.
The hall was full of staring eyes. The Twins stood right outside the door, with Dwight, Wes and David. Charlie was at one side, and the rest of the Windsor boys in the hall were staring out of their doors, with Reed at the door of the room they shared. When the boys saw him look up at them, most of them fled. But the conspirators remained.
"Please tell me you didn't hear that…" Kurt whispered hoarsely.
"Hard not to," Wes said somberly.
David nodded slowly. "…you two were pretty loud in there."
"Worst domestic fight we've seen since Tabitha's visits," Dwight said without batting an eye and without a real tone.
Kurt just shook his head, furiously scrubbed the tear tracks on his face, pushed past the worried Tweedles and to his room across the hall. Reed sprang to life and followed after him, giving the others a look that assured them he would cover this end.
As soon as the door closed, Wes and David burst into Blaine's room with hard expressions and slammed it shut before Dwight and the Tweedles could follow.
"What the hell was that?" David demanded as soon as he was inside.
"I think you heard…" Blaine mumbled in a remarkably soft voice from where he sat at the edge of his bed, with his face in his hands.
"Yeah, we did, but I think we needed someone to translate it from idiot to English for us," Wes snapped. "What were you yelling at each other for like that?"
"We just…got worked up." Blaine said emptily, staring at the floor.
"Worked up doesn't mean opera-level decibels." David crossed his arms. "Now you mind telling us what the deal here is? Because this isn't like…you." He gestured over him. "You don't let it get to you, or not like this at least."
"It got me good this time…" Blaine sighed. He glanced to the door where Kurt had fled his room. "Really good."
What did it take to get Kurt to understand that Logan isn't just a complication—he's an entire condition on his own? They were barely weeks into the relationship and he's already winning if he's got them fighting this way. And he would've thought that after everything he heard, everything he was told, and after having to deal with the violence back at McKinley, he would save himself and Blaine the grief of having to deal with Logan that way.
"Do you have a particular reason here, Blaine?"
He looked up at David, startled. "What?"
"No, I just want to know," David said emphatically as he frowned. "If you have a reason to suspect that Kurt might actually have a thing for Logan and is encouraging him behind your back—"
"And that's aside from practice duets, because seriously, David and I do that half the time and you don't see Katherine screaming at me," Wes glowered.
"You're not interested in David that way, Wes," Blaine muttered with great patience.
"How do you know?" David cracked a grin as he put an arm around his friend. "If I swung in your direction, Wes would be my first choice—as it is, we'd probably grow old together."
"See?" Wes grinned, matching the gesture.
Blaine wasn't laughing. He couldn't. He just sighed deeply and shook his head as he got up and went back to his desk and pushed away his schoolwork, trying to clean up. The fight got into his clothes, his skin, and nothing felt right.
He pushed the papers around a bit before suddenly turning to them and saying, "I was right, wasn't I?"
The two looked at each other. Blaine continued. "This is leading Logan on, isn't it? Singing love songs with him, hanging around with him… And Kurt didn't even tell me and that—why would he feel the need to do that if there wasn't anything to feel guilty about?"
"Maybe because this would be your reaction?" Wes supplied, raising an eyebrow.
When Blaine sighed and leaned back on his desk, David walked up to him. "Look… we're not saying it wasn't a bad idea for Kurt to be humoring Logan this way. Logan Wright is the last person you want to show a hint of weakness to."
"What we're just saying is…that maybe Kurt did do it with pure intentions." Wes shrugged a little, flopping down onto Blaine's bed. "I mean yeah…really stupid idea, but… Kurt just doesn't strike me as the type to lead a guy on just so he could feel good about having two on a leash."
"Does he strike you as that?" David asked Blaine with a quiet expression.
Blaine didn't respond. He stared at the floor. At this expression, Wes finally nodded. "Ah… I get it." He got up. "This is about him, isn't it? This is about—"
"Yes, that." Blaine glared at him. "He didn't strike me as one either."
"You have to stop comparing him to Kurt, Blaine," David finally said, sounding a little impatient. "You have to stop, man, because he isn't Kurt and Kurt isn't him. Are you still holding a torch here?"
"What—no!" Blaine stared at him as though insulted by the mere mention, genuinely scandalized. "I'm in love with Kurt, all right—I wouldn't be this worked up if I wasn't." He flung himself into his bed, facedown. "Could the two of you just…go, for a minute? I have to…think."
David and Wes looked at each other at this and Wes shook his head. "Fine, well… Then you have to stop seeing everything as a replay of last year."
"It would help if Logan made it stop being that way," Blaine retorted, staring at the wall.
"Hm…well…true," David shrugged. He sighed and headed for the door. "We'll let you work this out with Kurt."
"Yes, because the last person in question wasn't really the fighting type," Wes said thoughtfully. "Kurt, on the other hand, seems to have claws. It'll be good for you both!" He smirked a little and closed the door.
Blaine groaned and pulled the pillow over his head, ruining the hold of the gel and curls pulling free. It was going to be a long night.
"Kurt…?" Reed sat carefully at the edge of the bed. It was half an hour after the initial blast from Blaine's room and Reed had patiently waited for the incoherent and frankly ominous grumbles of wrath from Kurt's side of the room to die down. Now there was just silence, and underneath what had to be three comforters lay Kurt. Reed patted the lump gently, but it cringed away. "Kurt?"
Reed sighed deeply. Here we go. "Kurt…please talk to me? I mean if there's anyone in here in Windsor you can talk to—"
"You'll take his side. Everyone takes his side. Everyone will take his side."
To which Reed said patiently, "While that's not true…does that mean you are the one who did something wrong…?"
"No!" Kurt immediately sat up and Reed's expression fell at the sight of him. His face was flushed, his eyes were red—it was the image of someone who had cried, but he looked furious. The angriest cry Reed had ever seen. "Oh Kurt…"
"I didn't do anything wrong, Reed," he declared, sounding mildly stuffed up. "How could he accuse me of that? I bat away every advance, I start sounding like a broken record telling Logan that I'm dating Blaine—I even avoid touching Logan like he's got the bubonic plague! And that's impressive considering that Medel once made us sit in the same piano stool when we first sang that stupid duet!"
And he flung himself under the covers again. Reed considered him for a moment and leaned against him, not really caring if he was leaning on Kurt's back or elbows. "Was it really that stupid? At the time, I mean?"
A fidget. Reed had to strain to make out the words. "…not really. I mean… he wanted me to leave, you know. It was on his face, he wanted me to go away."
The mass under the covers sighed in true dramatic form. "…I wish you could've heard him sing then. He was gone. That wasn't singing. He sounded like he didn't care anymore. Like there was no point. Then maybe you'd get why I had to try and bring him back a little."
"So…you did it to help him."
Kurt poked out his head from the covers. "Yes."
"Does it work? You helping him?"
"Have you seen him at practice? Even the Stuarts are surprised that he's acting almost happy these days."
There was a momentary pause, and Reed laughed suddenly, as though he couldn't help himself. Kurt sat up and frowned at him. "And what is so funny?"
"Nothing!" Reed said with innocent brown eyes.
Kurt's expression darkened. "I swear, if I hear someone tell me that when there's actually something one more time—"
"Kurt…" Reed laughed, smiling at him pushing his shoulder. "Come on. You don't see it? You seriously don't?"
"Kurt—Logan must've told you a million times that he's head over heels for you," Reed said, rolling his eyes. "He's happier now because come on—who wouldn't be happy if you had the person you like spending so much time with you, singing songs with you? Remember last week when I started dancing like a moron around this room because of Shane…?" Reed sighed with a silly grin.
"Yes, I chucked a pillow at your head," Kurt narrowed his eyes. "You were that bad."
"Maybe Logan's a little more restrained, but he's probably that bad too," Reed grinned and laughed. "You can't tell me you don't see that. That is an insult to your intelligence and your supposedly incredible sixth sense." He made himself comfortable where he leaned against Kurt. "I find it both unsettling and cute that he could get so mushy."
Kurt said nothing. He was clenching his knuckles on the bed. Of course Logan was happy because he was with him. Sure, anyone could talk to him. Derek had been trying that for years, and with Julian around, that was two people. But what really must've made Logan happy was the fact that Kurt tolerated his presence. That he was with him.
You're not helping him, Kurt—you're not! You're leading him on!
There was a cold grip over his chest, swept over by hot anger. Maybe he had been. Maybe he had given Logan a false hope. Or did he? Did it count when you make it a point to not even touch him or bring up your boyfriend at nearly every occasion? What was so wrong in helping someone? For once he was thinking about someone else—someone who could potentially break himself to bits, and Saint Blaine rescuer of the gay and tormented doesn't think it's a good idea? Some double standard he's got!
…all right, I didn't mean that. And yes, maybe that said "someone else" was Logan Wright, his ex boyfriend and…currently his rival for my…attention. But he has all of my attention and why can't he just trust that?
The nagging thought that persisted at him was why he didn't feel like he could just tell Blaine this himself. Maybe because there was nothing to say? Or did Blaine really deserve to know what was going on?
…was Kurt leading Logan on? Really? And that look on Blaine's face. Kurt had seen it before—that hurt expression Finn has when he got betrayed. Only he had never ever imagined he would be the one cause that on Blaine.
He swallowed hard and threw himself back under the covers.
"Kurt?" Reed asked, concerned. "Kurt—"
"Please go away, Reed." His voice was soft. "I want to be alone."
Reed stared at him for a few moments, and it was clear that he was being dismissed. He patted the covers and then sighed. "…all right." He got up and headed for his own bed. "Do you, um…want any dinner?"
Reed let it go. But only verbally. He took out his phone and sent out and SOS that flew to Lima, to the Jones' home. Mercedes had her headphones on as she sang along to some Destiny's Child, but the phone next to her did not go unnoticed. She grooved to the music and scooped up her phone.
"Ooh!" she smiled as she saw Reed's name. Kurt's little fashionable friend at Dalton. Maybe he was calling to have another shopping—
Mercedes stopped as she read the message. She stared. Then she ripped her headphones off, lips pressed into a grim line. "Oh hell to the no."
Blaine stood outside his dorm room the next morning, not quite sure what he was doing there. He had been dressed and ready for what felt like ages, with his coat on and his scarf, but he hadn't moved. He stood in the hall, staring at the floor, wondering why he was even there.
The door across the hall made a sound and he looked up. Reed was closing the door, wearing his thick mink, and the smaller boy did a double take when he saw Blaine. "Oh. Hi, Blaine."
"Hey…" Blaine shifted a little. He paused for a moment, not really knowing what to say.
Fortunately, he didn't have to. Reed looked apologetic. "Sorry, but Kurt left early this morning. He went ahead." He laughed a little. "I asked him if there was a fire, or something, he totally ran off."
"No, that's…" Blaine coughed and cleared his throat as he picked up his bag. "That's…understandable. I wasn't…actually waiting." He immediately fled the hall, leaving Reed standing perplexed.
Wes and David looked up when Blaine practically came running down the stairs, a set expression of fortitude on his face. "Let's go!" Blaine said as he passed by him with the worst show of cheer they had ever seen. He all but jogged past them and out the doors.
"This is ridiculous," Wes grumbled as he followed.
"On the upside, there's clear effort to overcome," David responded.
"I'd like them to overcome right now!" Wes protested. "Before we get dragged into another mess!"
"Patience is a virtue…" David responded as he pulled him out the door. "Chaz, we're going!"
"I'm not your mother—just get out of here!" Charlie yelled back from the kitchen.
"Such a warm hospitable environment…" Dwight said with a grimace as he sat down at the kitchen. It was hard to find utensils now that Drew's lab equipment was there. Dwight must've picked up four different lab tools before he found an actual spoon. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to make sense out of all the things for the fair," Charlie answered. His hair was a mess, he was staring down at papers. "Justin and I are up to ears in the prep. Setup's already starting on the grounds and I would like you to not sprinkle salt and holy water all around before construction—as far as you're concerned, Dalton grounds are officially purified and there is nothing more you can contribute to it."
"Uh huh…" Dwight rolled his eyes. "Right, I've seen more than enough incidents in this school to know that isn't true."
Reed came in presently looking tired. "Hey," Charlie nodded to him. "Seen the Tweedles around? I'm worried they're setting things on fire. Since Dwight's here, they must be wreaking havoc elsewhere."
"Maybe they went after Kurt," Reed answered, standing on his toes to reach a high shelf. Dwight got up and took it down for him, being taller.
"Yes, because that'll help tide things over," Dwight snorted. "You did hear the two of them, didn't you?"
"Loud and clear," Charlie grumbled into his own cornflakes. "It's going to take every ounce of self control not to throttle Logan later at the Prefects' meeting."
"It's not entirely his fault," Reed murmured, looking worried.
"It's always his fault," Charlie glared.
"I'm going," Dwight remarked as he headed out the kitchen. "I've got to go carry out a hunting plan of a different kind. If I run into Blaine, Kurt or Logan, I'll do my best to get this straightened out. I've dealt with demons, after all." He grinned as he 'holstered' his Holy Water sprayer and ran out.
"Well good, because Hell's empty, all of them are in this school!" Charlie yelled back.
"You can't avoid us," Ethan said cheerfully, haunting Kurt's right shoulder as the Twins chased him down the hall. It was incredible, the distance he'd managed to keep away from most of the other Windsors in the duration of the school day. Thankfully, the entire school would have the afternoon off. The Fair was approaching, and they were given time to begin construction. The school grounds were already littered with festivity prep.
There was so much Valentines in the air that Kurt wanted to hurl. Especially when he remembered that he was most likely going to end up spending it alone.
"You're going to have to listen to us!" Evan happily said, grinning from Kurt's left shoulder.
Kurt raised his eyes from his History book with great patience. "And what exactly do you think I can do for you?"
"We need you to make cookies for the fair!" Ethan said happily.
"Cookies…?" Kurt stared at them incredulously.
"They'll be really popular!" Ethan assured him.
"I'm excused from any and all fair work," Kurt said emphatically. "And all things considered, I think I need the time?"
"Please, Alice?" Evan begged. "Make the cookies! They'll be a hit! And lots and lots of talking flowers will come from all over the place to try them!"
"My cookies are normal, thank you very much—only you crazies ever seem to think they're not," Kurt rolled his eyes as he hitched up his bag strap.
"Excellent!" Evan grinned.
"Settled!" Ethan answered happily.
"See you at Warblers in a bit!" the Twins happily departed, content. Kurt watched them go and rolled his eyes, until he realized what they said.
He may have dodged everyone else that morning, but before they all let out for Fair preparations, he would have to go to Warblers' practice. And there would be no escaping anyone then—and then he would still have to watch Blaine and Logan perform what will have to be the most painful duet in Warbler history.
He nearly jumped a foot into the air. Julian was leaning by the lockers set for the day students, smiling at him. Kurt wondered why Julian's smile in school looked so out of context. Sure, on TV and the posters, his smile was signature and he was Grant, the dazzlingly handsome musician who seduces the eldest daughter (and…all the rest of the daughters in succession) of the show's central family, but to see him smile like that in school was unsettling.
"Why are you following me?" Kurt asked, narrowing his eyes at him. "Shouldn't you be sniping at Logan with Derek?"
"Derek's with Logan right now, but I wanted to get you alone and ask you a couple of things." Julian walked up to him. "I heard there was quite the fight in Windsor House yesterday after you skipped your tutoring session."
Kurt groaned, exasperated. "Have any of you been told that you gossip like girls?"
"Rumors travel fast, no matter what kind of a school you're in," Julian said with another catty smile. "Murdoch's not going to be pleased to hear that you cut on your sentence to battle with your boyfriend—who he can't stand, by the way."
"Yeah, I noticed."
"Mainly it's because he can't stand that the two of you are being so lovey-dovey all out and about ever since you set foot into Dalton."
Kurt stopped walking. He turned. "What?"
"You heard me." Julian straightened up and put his hands in his pockets. He walked up to him. "Murdoch's fine with gay people—as long as they don't parade. Logan is an example of the kind of gay person he does like. The one who you wouldn't realize is until you heard about it from someone else."
"Logan is probably the most notorious gay person in this whole campus." Kurt stated bluntly. "And the way he looks at people—"
"—is completely fake unless he's interested." Julian finished with a smile. "I've known him three years more than you do, Hummel, I know what he's like."
"So what are you going to do…tell on me?" Kurt rolled his eyes.
"Not really…" Julian sighed, walking with him. Kurt noticed that Julian wasn't wearing his blazer, and his shirt sleeves were rolled up. He was the picture of the casual air. He didn't care about how he looked—or anyone or anything, from his appearance and saunter. "He'll blow up on you, Murdoch I mean. And he'll punish you. And he'll tear you away from your little crazy land and plop you into Stuart."
Julian stepped in front of him and smiled. "And I don't want that to happen."
Kurt narrowed his eyes at him, and then nodded. "Ah. You don't like me."
"I don't loathe you." Julian smiled. "You're all right. You seem to make Stuart relatively hazard-free by diffusing our tempestuous prefect. But I don't want you in our House."
"I'm not even going to ask—because I have no intention of being in your house…" Kurt brushed by. "You can tell your prefect I'm not coming in for tutoring. I'm done."
"He won't be happy…" Julian answered casually, turning on his heel.
"Neither am I right now." Kurt walked off, leaving Julian. It occurred to him that this encounter with Julian was completely unprompted, and he turned around to say as much only to find that the smiling Stuart student had vanished into thin air. The hall was empty. Only a little spooked, Kurt turned around—
—and Dwight materialized, nearly giving him a heart-attack. "Hey Kurt!" he said, looking breathless and as rumpled as usual.
Kurt, clutching his chest, glared at him. "What is it, Ambush-Kurt-Day?"
"I need one of your scarves," Dwight said immediately, seemingly unperturbed.
"Scarf. Now. Please?"
Kurt gave him an incredulous stare even as he took his Hermes scarf from inside his satchel. "All right, I don't even think I want to know…"
"Thank you, I assure you, this is meant for the betterment of Windsor."
Dwight sounded so disturbingly sure that Kurt narrowed his eyes as he handed it over. "You better not be up to anything too crazy or Charlie's not going to be pleased. I expect to get this back in perfect condition."
"What? Why? You have like five—I know, I gave them to you for Christmas."
"All right…fine…" Dwight gingerly took the scarf with two fingers and slipped it into a plastic bag that he carefully put away in his bag.
Kurt looked at him doubtfully. "What are you this time, a CSI?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Please. I'm a hunter, Kurt. This is just what I needed. See you back at Windsor and hopefully my experiment bears fruit."
"And as long as I get that scarf back, Dwight Houston, you won't need forensics to identify your body." Kurt gave him a forced smile.
The sophomore gave him a calculating look, as though trying to find out if he was serious or not. Kurt sighed and shook his head. "Go—go on, get out of here, I have to go to Warblers…" he pushed the younger boy off down the hall and Dwight hurried off.
Kurt headed to Warblers' hall and wasn't very far from his destination when he heard a strange sound. It was someone retching and coughing. Puzzled, he went to the direction of the arches that looked out to the grounds—where he had first been singing to New Directions during his audition day. Why was someone there?
He peered out of the arches and listened. The sound was coming a tall bush near the wall. He went around to it and was startled. "Ms. Medel?"
Sylvia Medel looked up at him, wiping her mouth and looking startled for a moment, turning white. "Oh Kurt…" she breathed, wringing her handkerchief. "You…you gave me a fright there."
"Are you okay?" he asked, a little worried. "Do you need to go to the clinic or something?"
"Oh, no…" Medel shook her head, smiling at him. She still looked nauseated. "It must be the food from the fair I sampled… some boys were asking if it was okay to sell them for the fair…had some of them and…"
"They weren't from Drew Mapleton and Satoru Kogo, were they?" Kurt asked suspiciously. He did hear about them threatening to put their "serum" in food, and all of a sudden he had a bad feeling about the Twins suddenly asking him to make cookies for the fair.
Medel laughed. "I don't think so…" But she was still wobbly and Kurt held her elbow. "Are you sure you don't want to go to the nurse?" he asked.
"Don't be silly, Kurt…" the Warblers' "mother" smiled. She stood steady on her own and headed for the hall. "I'm fine. Besides, practice is in a few minutes and Blaine and Logan will be singing together. And you don't want to miss that, do you?" she beamed and went ahead as Kurt stopped short at her words.
Yeah… he grimaced as he followed her. Who would want to miss that…?
The tension in the room was palpable and Warblers' hall felt like a powder keg. Harvey and Medel couldn't have possibly predicted this level of tension. Everyone in the Hall stared so hard at the performers that it was almost laughable. How Logan and Blaine even managed to set the matter up was incomprehensible. News went around that they had met early that morning, but they had not done any practice. The other members suspected they didn't need to—they had worked together long enough.
But as Logan and Blaine stood across each other in front of the ones not chosen to sing with them, it had to be confessed that no one could possibly imagine what they planned to do. They were looking at each other not angrily, compared to what people expected. In fact they almost seemed to find the situation bitterly amusing. They had an intense glare at each other that had yet to be broken since they were called out front.
They looked like they did preparatory to fencing. With intention to draw blood.
All in good humor, of course.
Medel laughed nervously. "Everyone, relax."
Reed gave her an incredulous look. Both directors were perfectly aware of what was going on and thus the "relax" was ineffective. Harvey remained rigid, standing by his reasons, glowering at the two.
"Don't keep us waiting," he prompted.
"I can't watch," Reed hissed, ducking nearly into Kurt's arm. Kurt sat, hands clutching on music sheets, white knuckled, unable to tear his eyes away.
"It's going to be a train wreck," Wes stared.
"Of epic proportions," David hissed.
The Tweedles, who were among those supposed to back the pair up, looked at them and just looked at each other at the corner of their eyes. They knew what was going to happen, but they probably weren't sure how to take it.
"Don't make me say it again, boys," Harvey remarked, raising an eyebrow.
Blaine, who had not broken the glare that he and Logan had been sharing all this time, glanced at Harvey and then turned to Logan with a smirk. "Fine."
"Good." Logan nodded, matching his gaze.
"What song did they pick?" Kurt whispered to Reed.
"I have no idea…" Reed stared.
"Boys." Harvey prompted.
The music started as the other boys began to sing backup. Kurt, who knew both song lists by heart, heard the first movement of music and immediately indentified the song's beat. He stared agape at the pair in front of him and sank back in horror. Reed took longer on the uptake and didn't realize until Blaine began to sing, smirking at Logan:
Well you're a real tough cookie with a long history
Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me…
That's okay—let's see how you do it—
Put up your dukes—let's get down to it—
"Oh my god…" Kurt couldn't tear his eyes away. It was like an accident in the middle of the road. It was watching someone leap off a high dive. It was…
Horrified didn't cover the expression on Wes' face and David looked like he got hit with a lacrosse stick across the face. Sure they were performing well, but the sight of the two of them moving to this music and singing it to each other…
Blaine pointed at Logan, walking almost right up to him.
Hit me with your best shot!
Why don't you hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
As Blaine swept away from him, Logan took up the thread looking pissed off but not backing down. He walked to him and circled him like a hawk.
You come on with your come-ons, you don't fight fair
That's O.K., see if I care!
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I'll get right back on my feet again!
Hit me with your best shot!
The two of them were all but bearing down at each other, their smiles painfully forced and it looked as though they were just looking for which bone to start breaking. Medel stared at them in pure shock and inability to react while Harvey continued to stare stonily.
Kurt sank into his seat, peering at the performance through his fingers. Reed wasn't even looking, he couldn't bear to while Wes and David sat, open mouthed and transfixed, the rest of the Warblers looking completely dumbstruck.
The Twins, at least, watching Blaine and Logan circling each other and singing to each other with so much thinly-veiled contempt, were enjoying themselves immensely.
Hit me with your best shot!
Why don't you hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
Kurt was convinced this wasn't happening and he was hallucinating. This couldn't seriously be happening. It was like a dream sequence that you were desperately trying to wake up from and you find yourself just completely lost into it. Yes, they both sounded amazing and they both were very good…but there was something about it—perhaps the expressions and the way that they looked at each other with that challenging glint that said nothing but danger. He had not felt so bad about a single performance since Finn and Rachel's disastrous duet.
When the song ended, there was dead silence in Warblers' hall. No applause, no reaction—save for wide-eyed shock—and no noise, save for the breathless pair in front.
Kurt and Reed glanced at each other as Wes and David leaned back, looking as though they were bracing themselves for impact. Logan narrowed his eyes at Blaine, who returned it.
Harvey looked furious. He was going to explode and everyone could tell that it spelled the death knell for the two performers in front. He rose to his feet with a malevolent air that Kurt was sure that somewhere, Dwight must be going ballistic.
"And what was that?" demanded the male director.
Blaine and Logan looked at him and then dropped their eyes a moment before glaring at each other again. Harvey snapped his fingers loudly—it sounded like an executioner's signal. "I asked a question!"
"I kind of think we did all right," Logan said in a show of defiance as he glanced to the director with green eyes blazing. "We put our own spin on it."
Blaine said nothing, but Harvey's expression darkened. "You think this is a joke? I said we weren't putting pressure on you for this performance, but that doesn't mean you use this hall as your personal battleground! Now I don't know what's with the both of you now, but I think it's about time you fixed this as it's been a year since the two of you last had serious altercations and—"
"A year?" snorted one boy from Stuart. "Try a few weeks, Mr. Harvey!"
"Did you hear me address you, Jason?" Harvey glared and the boy silenced. Bailey elbowed him and frowned.
Harvey turned to Blaine and Logan. "Be that as it may, the purpose of this pair was to make what could otherwise be an 'easy' performance into a way to make the both of you grow, but it appears that you both have actually regressed!"
Medel, seeing danger signs, leapt to her feet quickly and clapped her hands. "All right then, everyone!" she said, voice shaky. "That's quite enough excitement for one morning."
"Sylvia—" Harvey began, but she put her hand up and gave him a meaningful stare. He didn't look happy, but he conceded, gesturing to her.
She looked at Blaine and Logan with an anxious smile then at the rest of the Warblers. "How about we, um…we stop for lunch and we'll…have Kurt and Reed's practice later on? So…let's go! Up, everyone up, have your lunch…!"
The Warblers murmured as they got up, looking rather unsettled. The Tweedles came up to Blaine and pulled him away from Logan. He shrugged them off lightly and went to join Wes and David. Logan glared at him and shook his head as he strode to the other Stuarts.
"I don't know what is the matter with those two, they used to be able to tell between performances and personal matters…" Kurt heard Harvey mutter to Medel as the Warblers filed out. Immediately, Kurt felt the need to tell them what was going on—to change the pairs and save everyone grief.
Before he could go to them, however, cell phones of the Windsors went off.
The moment you can, get to Windsor. Emergency meeting. - Charlie
"I will never…ever…be able to hear that song the same way ever again," Kurt muttered, still in shock, in the common room later on, staring down at his phone where he just received a message from Mercedes.
When is that fair you said you guys were having? –M
He frowned, answering her with the date, as Reed sitting next to him said, "I don't know what they were trying to do, but I thought Mr. Harvey was ready to throttle them both."
Bunch of us are going. Meet us there. No questions. –M
Kurt frowned, confused at this sudden interest. Mercedes, he could imagine going, but weren't the pairs of Glee club spending Valentines in McKinley?
"If Medel hadn't stopped the session when she did, it looked like either Harvey was going to kill them or they would've jumped each other," Evan remarked, blinking.
"It'd been a while since Harvey chewed anyone out, that might've been fun to see…" Ethan blinked as well, nodding. Reed frowned at them both.
Kurt elbowed him. "Heard from Shane yet?"
"No…" Reed sighed. "I sent him a message, but he didn't answer. Maybe he lost his phone?"
Kurt frowned. "What? But Blaine was talking to him just the day befo—" He stopped when he saw the wide-eyed expression on Reed's face. "Nothing. Forget I said anything."
"Wait—he talked to you guys?" Reed turned to him, grabbing his sleeve. "He was on the phone?"
Kurt glanced at him, not quite sure what to say. "Blaine was talking to him before we had that fight, and he seemed his usual self…so I figured he would've called you by now."
Reed let go of his sleeve and sat back, staring at his hands. Why is he avoiding me…? Did he…change his mind or something? Was it because it was too weird? Reed swallowed. Did he…decide to go for someone less…complicated?
"I can sense distress in your head and whatever you're thinking, it's wrong," Kurt warned, but Reed just brushed him off. Kurt sighed. Valentines was his least favorite occasion for a reason and it was setting in adamantine firmness.
"Why is this meeting being called…?" asked the speaker in the common room where the Windsors were slowly gathering. Han did not sound pleased. "Charlie, get on with it—I'm missing the Speed Gamers' Castlevania marathon."
"We're not going to start until all of you crackpots get in here," Charlie retorted from where he stood by the fireplace, arms crossed. "We're having a House meeting and it includes you. Don't make me cut off the internet."
"Like that stops me…"
"I will take an axe to your servers, Han, and you know I'll do it too."
A pause. "…yes, sir, then."
Dwight had just finished lining the doorways and windowpanes with salt—much to Charlie's chagrin, but if it kept the "hunter" in the room for the meeting, he was willing to take it—when the triad of Blaine, Wes and David finally arrived. Wes looked rumpled from all the work in the fair, David less so, and Blaine remained immaculate as usual.
Kurt saw them come in and immediately averted his eyes, sitting a little closer to Reed on the couch and pretending not to notice. The Twins immediately leapt onto the couch as well, possibly hoping to avoid any more friction. There was more than enough friction in Warblers' hall.
Charlie marked all this but said nothing as Blaine sat on the other end of the couch, Wes sitting on the arm of that end and David leaning on the back. Blaine glanced briefly to Kurt, who didn't turn his eyes to him the way he hadn't all day. Blaine said nothing and turned to Charlie as the last few stragglers came into the Windsor common room right after them. "What's this meeting about?"
"I wanted to talk to all of you about the fair," Charlie said, looking over the assembled boys in various stages of mess considering the classes and the fair preparations. "As you remember, every year, for the fair, we open Dalton's gates and it becomes open to the public so they can enjoy themselves. Along with normal people, we'll have alums and other people coming over so as much as possible, can we try to hold down the crazy? I know that this is technically a contest—"
"Contest?" Kurt asked.
"Windsor, Hanover and Stuart will present how much money they made for the fair with their booths," Charlie answered. "Whichever house makes the most money will receive extra credit in grades and extra curfew hours two weeks following."
"How's the standing?" Kurt raised an eyebrow.
"Surprisingly, Hanover's booths tend to be the most popular," Ethan commented with a smile. "But we'll be challenging that with our Hall of Mirrors."
"We have a booth every year," Evan grinned. "And this time we're pulling out all the stops."
"I don't know, I heard Justin and Spencer were calling in some heavy parental contributions and setting up a small rollercoaster in the football field," grinned Wes.
"Damn it, Hanover!"
"Well anyway…" Charlie raised his voice and looked at them. "I want everyone to work together, all right? So far, the year's been a little quiet and we haven't exactly have had the chance to show the rest of the Houses up. I mean come on, a Stuart won Winter Fest."
"But Blaine won the fencing meet," Dwight shot back.
"And that's awesome, but it didn't win us anything except apparently house arrest for the people who started the big party." Charlie glowered as the people involved looked mildly embarrassed. "Anyway. So we'll be in front of a lot of people so while we can pretty much go crazy, let's not go too crazy. For some reason, Ramsey said she was keeping a close eye on us."
He leaned back on the fireplace, arms crossed, a hulk of over six feet suspicious prefect-ness that pulled rank over the rest of Windsor that now leveled his gaze at them. "Something about Mr. Tamerlane seeing people waving a whole lot of nets and breaking things in here for the past week. And I noticed that the windows have been shut too. I know it's cold, guys, but people go running to close a window when it's open and this is getting ridiculous. Anything I should know about?"
And then everyone started talking at the same time, all in various explanations.
Wes glanced at him, wondering if it would be a good idea to tell him. And he might have too—but it seemed like the involved party, the notorious little bird, himself, decided to tell Charlie himself. Wes, with wide eyes, watched as the Warbler fluttered down from the ceiling beams and landed on the mantelpiece—right over Charlie's head.
David thought his circulation was getting cut off by the way Wes was suddenly gripping his wrist. "Dude, what the hell…?" Wes said nothing, shaking his head a little and nodding very slightly over Charlie's head. David looked at him incredulously before turning to where he motioned, and froze.
Apart from the incident in Blaine's room, Pavarotti had never alighted so low before, except when he was purposely nearly swooping at people's faces as he flew out of rooms. Pavarotti looked interested at the goings on, especially at Charlie. Maybe he recognized his position of power in Windsor house—or he just thought he was a really tall perch.
Whatever it was, whenever Charlie moved or made a gesture, he would flutter his wings as though making to fly away, but never quite getting totally spooked by the towering prefect. Blaine swallowed as he saw the prize Warbler making his way closer to the prefect.
"Oh my gosh…" Reed whispered under his breath, staring.
"What…?" Kurt asked as his friend tugged on his sleeve and pointed shakily. Kurt looked up. "…oh."
Dwight rose slowly from behind the sofa like a predator, holding a net and eyes trained intently upon the bird even as Charlie had now already begun to talk again and everyone was supposed to be paying attention to whatever it was he was saying.
"…so I want all of you to try—to attempt—to restrain yourselves for the fair, all right?" Charlie crossed his arms, glowering at the group in the common room, who frankly were occupied by a more pressing matter. "Because quite frankly—"
By now no one was looking at him. Wes and David were staring over at the mantelpiece above his head with wide eyes and mouths open. The Tweedles were tensed, gaping, hands suggesting that they were about to pounce like cats. Reed's hands were frantically shaking as he stared, and Dwight very, very carefully raised his net.
"Chaz…" said Wes slowly as he slipped off the arm of the sofa, "…whatever you do…do not…move."
"What?" Charlie stared at them incredulously.
"Do not…move…" David repeated as he very carefully stood, eyes still on the little yellow bird that was literally within inches of Charlie's head.
The prefect frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"Okay, Charlie, on the count of three…" Blaine breathed as he rose, "…if you don't want to be concussed, you will duck. Wes, grab a broom, guard the doors. Everyone else, we grab that bird."
"What?" Charlie stared at them as though they were crazy. "Tell me what's going on right now!"
"Shut up, Your Majesty, shut up or he'll fly away," Evan snapped.
"Who will?" Charlie asked as the bird fluttered its feathers.
"Pavarotti!" Reed gasped.
Blaine carefully stepped forward, "One…two…"
"Three!" Dwight yelled, leaping over the couch and flying at the bird. Charlie yelled and dodged before Dwight slammed into him. The net connected with the mantelpiece but Pavarotti was flying away. The bird fluttered and swooped right at Reed's head, sending the small boy ducking and throwing himself onto the carpet.
The common room exploded. Boys went running back and forth all trying to grab for the little bird that was now swooping over their heads and keeping well out of reach. The furniture overturned as everyone ran to grab something to catch it with. Kurt couldn't see how any of this could manage to catch Pavarotti without maiming him. Other started grabbing material for fair booths from the room, evacuating them out the doors before they got trampled by the mob.
"Where is he?" David demanded, picking up one of the nets that the Windsors now kept nearly everywhere post-Pavarotti's escape.
"He got free?" Charlie yelled at them in shock as the yellow bird fluttered around their heads. "Why did you let him out?"
"We don't know how he got out!" Blaine exclaimed, ducking swinging nets and lacrosse sticks.
"And that's why everything's on lockdown?" Charlie demanded as he struggled to steady a falling lamp.
"We've been trying to keep him in Windsor for almost two weeks now!" Blaine answered.
"There! Over there!" Reed yelled, pointing to one of the shelves. Just as two Windsors went for him, Pavarotti flew off.
Kurt looked up and saw Pavarotti flying overhead, heading for a window that had been left a smidgen open, possibly by Charlie who wanted the fresh air. It was a small opening, but there was just enough room for the bird to fly through.
"The window!" he shouted.
Blaine ran for it. Kurt grabbed one of the couch cushions and swung it halfheartedly overhead in an attempt to deter Pavarotti from heading to the direction of the window before Blaine could close it. It only partially worked—Pavarotti flew into one of the bookshelves. Kurt's cushion hit one of the side tables and it fell over with a crash.
David dived for the shelves and Pavarotti flew away without even looking alarmed from his preening. He flew right over Dwight's head, the boy yelling as he ducked.
"Damn it, Dwight! Use your net!" Wes howled as he swung his broomstick at Pavarotti, trying to deter him from going out the door. They were going to keep him in the common room if their lives depended on it.
"Watch out!" Charlie gasped.
The broom connected with a vase—it smashed to pieces on the floor, and the pieces eventually got run over by the Twins as Evan leapt up to try and net the little bird as well. He tripped over the chair leg and Ethan followed suit after tripping over him.
Blaine slammed the window shut just as Pavarotti nearly went for it. He swung his net at him but Pavarotti just flew away and alighted on the chandelier.
"Oh no!" Reed cried—they couldn't reach him from up there.
Wes jumped forward and poked at the crystal with the broomstick—but it didn't seem to the bother the bird looking down at them—he merely rustled his wings and stood still.
"We've got to scare him off there," David panted.
Dwight picked up a couch pillow and flung it up. It smacked into the chandelier. Pavarotti flew away—and the chandelier made an ominous creak.
The Windsors scattered as it fell with a crunch onto the coffee table.
"Pavarotti's getting away!" Kurt cried, pointing at the doors, which Wes did not shut when he abandoned his post.
"And we're all so dead!" Charlie said, shock white, staring at the mayhem in the common room. There was debris and broken furniture everywhere—the only furnishings left standing were the ones welded to place or permanent fixtures on the wall. And Pavarotti was still circling overhead, chirping wildly.
"Get him—go, go!" Blaine pushed Dwight forward. Dwight was off running, chasing the bird before it could get towards the doorway, swinging his bat like a baseball player.
Wes got up from where he had tripped, grabbing his broom and swatting upward. He and Dwight collided, both sent sprawling. Pavarotti swooped out of the common room, chirping as he rose upwards to the foyer.
"That's it!" Dwight gasped. He scrambled to get up and grabbed Wes' broom. "Give me that!" And he ran out of the room.
"Dwight, don't crush him!" Reed cried, chasing after him.
"You left your net, idiot!" David yelled as Dwight raced up the staircase, nearly tripping all over himself.
"I don't need a net!" Dwight screamed back. He waved the broom every time Pavarotti tried to fly into the hall, forcing the bird to fly upwards to the ceiling beams.
"Dwight, what are you doing?" Charlie demanded, running into the foyer. Dwight punched the air with the broom a few times, seeming to make sure that the bird was now settled in the ceiling beams overhead and was not going anywhere.
"Just making sure." Dwight smirked with devastating smugness. There was a chirp overhead. Pavarotti sounded rather settled up there. "All right, we can all calm down now."
"Calm down?" Charlie demanded, gesturing around the foyer and the now destroyed common room, the chandelier pieces on the tables and furniture. Debris of fair materials was still all over the place, some of which were ruined and the kitchen, for whatever reason, was smoking. It was like an H-bomb had imploded in Windsor. "You want me to calm down? You want me to look at all this pandemonium and you want me to calm down?"
"Chaz, you're going to give yourself a heart attack," Reed warned.
"You guys up for more good news?" Wes asked from the windows downstairs.
"Because we can't get enough of good news, right?" Charlie said sarcastically.
"What is it?" Blaine asked, standing next to Kurt.
Wes kept his eyes on the windows. "Howard's headed this way. He'll be here in…maybe three minutes."
Windsor froze in shock. Charlie held himself tall and closed his eyes, taking a deep, calming breath as all the Windsors stared at him for instruction. The Tweedles looked at each other, worried, then back at the immobile senior in the middle of the foyer.
Finally, Charlie opened his eyes with a grim expression. He held out his hand without looking behind him. "Baseball bat."
The Tweedles blinked, picked up one lying on the floor and gave it to him. "Charlie…?" Kurt asked, not liking this already.
Charlie strode into the kitchen. His imperious presence sent Drew and Satoru, who were trying to put out their smoldering experiment, running out, frightened by the giant with the baseball bat. "Charlie?" David repeated in concern, staring at their prefect from outside the kitchen entrance.
"Blaine!" Charlie yelled, raising the bat.
"Fire alarm!" And with absolutely no hesitation, Charlie slammed the bat into the mass of equipment and chemicals in the kitchen countertop. Glass smashed to pieces and chemicals slopped onto each other, Bunsen and alcohol burners toppling—and the sizzling sound was all the warning everyone needed.
The explosion that rocked Windsor must have been felt to South and Main and the Windsors went running like mad away from the blast zone, pouring out of the dormitory in a single, howling mass. Blaine threw himself onto the fire alarm and pulled it. And that ringing was what Howard heard when he watched the students of his dormitory running out.
Charlie, who had taken cover just outside the kitchen entrance, now calmly picked up the fire extinguisher by the side of the entryway and the one in the foyer, and tossed them to the shell-shocked Tweedles before walking out of Windsor.
"What the hell is going on here? And what is that godawful smell?" Howard demanded as the students ran out into the grounds in front of Windsor. Charlie Amos strolled out of the dormitory empty handed, brushing his uniform off as though he was merely heading to class, walking straight up to Howard—the very image of self-possession.
"An experiment by Drew and Satoru exploded in the kitchen, sir," he told him, face utterly devoid of expression. "Overexcitement for the Fair, I think. I've evacuated the boys, but some of us have stayed in to put out the fire. I'd stay out here, sir, if I were you, until we put it out, and we're fortunate it was contained in the kitchen. It's not safe to go in there. There's hazardous material. I'm just about to call some professional help to make sure the area is free of toxic stuff."
Howard stared at him. Charlie blinked calmly back at him. "I have it under control. This happens all the time with Drew and Satoru, as you know. Windsor house is completely prepared in these matters."
The astonished Windsors positively gapedat their prefect from behind Howard. Howard wasn't sure if he wanted to blow up or just stare at everything Charlie had just said. The senior just looked at him, utterly unruffled. Howard narrowed his eyes at him after a few moments. "And you're sure this is contained in the kitchen? The whole house isn't burning down?"
In a blast of chemical spray, the Tweedles jogged out of Windsor, grinning as they held up their fire extinguishers. "We put it out! It's all still smoky, but we've put everything out! It didn't even reach the gas!"
Charlie turned back to Howard, smiling. "See? I'll be turning off the fire alarm momentarily, we only hit it to make sure everyone was safely evacuated. Can't have anyone getting hurt now."
Howard narrowed his eyes at Charlie, looking suspicious. But Charlie was just smiling, and so were the Tweedles behind him. All the rest of Windsor stared.
Howard considered the prefect, and looked to the boys of Windsor House, all of them accounted for and looking utterly unharmed for the most part, and it included Reed, which was always a good sign. He began to nod slowly. "…all right, then. Well—turn off the alarm before people from the South and Main start sending people out." He looked at Drew and Satoru. "How many times do I have to tell you two, if you want to experiment, do it in controlled areas in the laboratories!"
The two scientists gaped. Charlie bestowed them a withering glare from behind Howard. The two boys began nodding enthusiastically. "Yes, sir!" Drew gasped.
"We totally understand!" Satoru replied, gulping.
"It was just pheromones, for the fair!" Drew immediately explained.
"We just poured too much of some stuff—" Satoru added.
"We had no idea it was going to combust and—
"—didn't think it was even chemically possible, but—"
"There wasn't even a lot of substances in there," Charlie added.
At this point, all of Windsor stared talking at the same time, explaining the 'situation' and how no one really thought it was a big deal, utterly confounding their House head.
"All right, quiet!" Howard frowned. "Now you're all lucky that no one was hurt this time. I don't want to hear any more of you setting fire to anything while indoors, even if it is in the kitchen! We banned flambé years ago!"
"How about outdoors, though?" Dwight asked after consideration.
"Dwight!" Howard scolded, and the sophomore cringed, muttering, "Just asking…"
"You should go, sir," Charlie said helpfully, smiling. "I have Windsor under control, I can take it from here—I'm sure you have far better things to do than our regular spate of crazy accidents."
Howard sighed, shaking his head. "Well, I'm supposed to be meeting the other teachers running the Fair committee in a few minutes…" He turned to Charlie. "I'll call for the cleanup. In the meantime, make a list of everything in there that's been destroyed or damaged and give the list to me. And the rest of you are not to go back into the dorm until Charlie and the guys say it's safe, all right?"
There were murmurs of agreement. Howard glowered at them. "The regular list of scoldings, warnings and threats apply…now go get back to work on the Fair grounds—you can't go into your dorm anyway. Charlie—"
"I've got it, sir," smiled the prefect. Howard cast one last withering glower at the boys and departed.
They all waited until he was out of sight and earshot before they let out their breaths. Charlie sank to the ground—all the way to the ground—until he was lying flat on his back. All the Windsors crowded around him, looking down in amazement.
"Way to go, Chaz!" the Tweedles grinned, looking down at him.
"Baseball bat to lab set—that's going down in Windsor history," David grinned.
"I can't believe you just did that, man!" Wes exclaimed.
Charlie just groaned. "I can't either…I feel ill. I haven't felt that scared since the Tweedles dragged Herman Dalton's hammer out of the school vault and tossed it into the fountain last week. That was close!"
"Close?" Blaine snorted. "Close was when we got that hammer out of the fountain and back to the vault before daylight! This was—this was nuts."
"Only way to cover up one explosion was with bigger one." Charlie sighed, draping his arm over his head.
Kurt smirked down at him. "You have my respect, fearless prefect."
"Well good, because once I get my bearings back enough to get up, I'm going to take the baseball bat, and hit each and every single one of you—"
He didn't finish—the Windsors were racing away from him already, scattering all over the place. In spite of warnings, they were headed back to the house, but that was Reed suddenly stopped and said, "Hey!"
"What?" asked Kurt.
Reed whirled around to look at the Tweedles. "…did you guys just leave the door open?"
The twins' eyes widened. All of the conspirators looked at each other, wide-eyed, and then bolted inside to find the prize warbler.
Continued in the next episode, Fallout: Things reach a boiling point. After one explosion, a couple more seem to be underway. Relationships start getting stretched to breaking point as more secrets get revealed. And it was the day before the fair. And everyone learns that there are consequences to certain actions.