Hello, I'm CP Coulter and I'm your author for this fic.
I always begin with an apology, and now, more than ever, for the record-breaking delay that this next arc (for it has to be an arc, no longer an episode) has taken. I always keep meaning to put things in a single episode, but when I broke thirty one thousand words, I knew that the crazy had to be split down yet again. The story of Blaine and Logan from last year is two things at once-the boys telling Kurt the story as Kurt tries to find his way through their threads, and at the same time hold the present world together as things begin to get even more complicated for everyone.
In itself, this is not an excuse. I should have realized sooner or managed better, so I could post this episode up sooner. I apologize for the delay, and I understand that many of you got very angry and unhappy about the state of affairs. I am resolute in finishing this series, hell or high water, and I will strive to do everything I can to stop this kind of delay from happening again. Again, I apologize deeply and I continue to be truly truly grateful for everything that everyone has given me. It has come a long way from the first episode when Warblerland opened into a strange place with strange people and our "Alice" learning about each of them. So many things have changed and grown and I can barely recognize them myself.
It seems that the complexities are coming to a head, now in the latter part of the story. As it draws to a close, it seems it is always darkest before dawn. I am grateful for your continued patience with me, and for the words of support and kindness. I continue to thank the Dalton Academy Warblers for taking the time out to read and acknowledge my work, and I thank Aaron Page and Riker Lynch especially for their words of kindness in a recent video.
I would like to thank the kind folks of Tumblr for putting up with me and my...hysteria (Dalton!verse gets extended and further explored in cpcoulter. tumblr. com, so if I don't update here, there are more things to see over there). I'd also like to thank my Beta reader, who, like me, sleeps at strange hours. (I will not name her, because I don't want her getting a barrage of questions about the forthcoming episodes)
I want to thank my friends and readers, and those whose words have kept me going when I felt lost and frightened. I will be worthy of your kindnesses someday.
And I continue, as always, to hope that you will enjoy this first part of the Flashback.
Episode 24 - Unforgettable
My name is Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy.
Last year, a boy came to Dalton Academy seeking sanctuary, just like I did.
He was late, he held an old pocket-watch, and the Twins called him the "White Rabbit."
And for the first time, I get to hear exactly what happened.
"Come on, you guys!" Charlie snapped as he went into the common room and found it half in shreds once again. "Class just let out and it already looks like a bomb hit this place! Put all this stuff away." He nudged a playstation controller on the floor disapprovingly.
The Twins were methodically pelting everyone trying to study once again, while Wes and David were arguing over a walkthrough—pages scattered in all directions—for a Final Fantasy game that Han had provided for them, the game itself going forgotten. Dwight had already finished salting the sanity out of the room and was once again holed up in his own dorm room. Reed was staring out the window distantly.
"Are any of you listening?" Charlie demanded.
A muffled explosion rumbled through the house. No one looked up. Charlie kept glaring at the boys even as he, without looking up, picked up the nearby fire extinguisher and handed it to Drew who promptly arrived for it, and disappeared just as swiftly. "Seriously, it's already past the Fair, playtime is over. Don't any of you have stuff to take care of for Parents' Night?"
"My folks never come, my sisters do," Wes retorted before looking back to the sheets in his hand.
"Same," Evan added, without looking up from where he was hidden behind the couch and pelting an innocent Windsor.
"Except we have just one," Ethan nodded, at the other end of the room, aiming very carefully for the back of David's head.
"That doesn't matter!" Charlie burst out, kicking away some of the foam bullets on the floor. Upstairs, the sound of the fire extinguisher hissed. "You Warblers should be practicing, right?"
When Wes and David and the twins failed to respond, Charlie turned to the presumably sane one. "Reed. Practice?"
"None today…" Reed murmured, not looking up. When he sighed and leaned his head onto the glass, it was just in time to evade a flying Nerf bullet. "…Miss Medel isn't feeling well… Mr. Harvey is out…"
"And your exhibition paintings?"
"Shh!" this time the whole room chorused, staring up at him incredulously.
Charlie blinked. A closer look at Reed already revealed the little artist's clothing and hands bespattered with paint. He looked tired, wan and incredibly distant, and he stared on occasion into his phone.
The prefect sighed. "Is this also the…uh…Shane thing?" he whispered aside to one of the twins.
But before they could answer, Reed got up and left without another word. It was as though he was now scalded by the name even being mentioned. He fled the common room and his feet could be heard going up the stairs—a trip of the feet, hand hit the wooden steps, a hiss of pain and frustration—and he was upstairs and gone.
"He's tired, he's upset," Evan said carefully.
"He's just working things out," Ethan answered.
Suddenly, Wes did a double take when he looked up to the common room doors. He rose with a frown. "What's going on here?"
Charlie turned around. He saw Kurt standing there, with Blaine. And next to Blaine was Logan. Charlie frowned as he now faced the three of them. Only Blaine looked slightly apprehensive, and Logan wasn't even looking at Charlie. Kurt, however, leveled his gaze at the prefect. "If it's all right, we'd like to talk. Here. The three of us."
"Is there a problem?" Charlie asked, crossing his arms over his chest and eyeing the unusual trio.
"We just have some things to discuss. It's a private matter, and it can't be done in Stuart because Blaine and I are most likely unwelcome there."
He seemed to pointedly ignore the fact that in all likelihood, Logan wasn't welcome at Windsor either. But Kurt knew that the maneuver would place the ball in the Windsor Prefect's court. Logan was the one who agreed to come, which clearly means he's put himself in Windsor's power. They were only going to talk peaceably, and it would be bad form for Charlie to bring the hammer down.
Charlie glowered at Logan for a moment but looked at Kurt calmly. "Fine. In there." And he gestured to the common room.
"Yes, why don't we go to the viper pit where it's safer," Logan muttered just audibly at the sight of Windsor eyes all staring hard at him.
Kurt only gave him a sidelong glance as he went into the room, speaking with authority—because to back down now will get them nowhere. "We'd like some privacy please, if that's all right?"
The Windsors all gaped at him. Then all eyes flew to Blaine, who was the one more heavily involved. Blaine only gave Logan a glance as well before nodding to the others. "Come on, guys. We just want to talk this out."
David did not look thrilled. Neither did Wes. They would sooner trust Blaine and Kurt in a room with a tiger than to leave them alone with the time bomb that was Logan. But the Tweedles rose from where they were hiding and calmly brushed themselves off. "I'm bored," Evan declared.
"Let's go watch something in Blaine's room," Ethan nodded with a smile around the common room.
The Twins gave everyone a pointed look and strolled on out of the room. Kurt wondered if he was seeing things—but he was sure that one twin flashed Logan a very brief smile, and that the other twin clipped him slightly at the elbow in a gesture that looked mostly accidental, and in any other circumstance, almost encouraging.
With that one act, the Twins proved that there was still more under the surface of all this.
The other Windsors followed the two blond boys out. Wes paused as he passed Blaine, as though asking with a stare, "Are you going to be all right?"
Blaine just nodded once and waved them on. David followed after Wes, only giving Kurt a quick look before he left. Charlie was the last Windsor to go.
"We'll be fine," Kurt told him calmly.
Charlie looked at the three of them for a long moment, and then simply said, "…hope you three can work this out." And he too left the area.
Kurt then grabbed both boys by the sleeves of their blazers and pulled them into the common room. He sat Blaine down at one end of the sofa, and then Logan at the other end. With the same everlasting composure, he pulled a chair up and sat in front of them both. The two stared at him, baffled.
A delicate eyebrow was raised. "I'm waiting."
Blaine laughed hollowly at his boyfriend. "What did you want us to say?"
"You said you were going to tell me everything about last year," Kurt said. "So you're going to tell me everything."
"It's a long story, Kurt," Logan said patiently.
"Well I don't expect to hear it all in one night," Kurt replied easily. "I do expect, however, to be told everything. So if this is going to be a long story, you both better start talking."
And now, Blaine and Logan looked at each other, a little unsure. "Uh…"
"You can start, Blaine," said Kurt, leading them into the story. The tone was sweet, but the eyes promised Blaine problems if he kept his beloved waiting. Blaine stared at him, wide-eyed, for a moment, and then sighed deeply.
"All right. Fine."
Logan just nodded.
Blaine leaned forward. "Well. I met him…when I first came to Dalton."
The school looked more imposing from the inside. When looking from the outside, it looked distant, as though it was closed off from the rest of the world and was therefore unreal. Now, standing within the gates, it felt too alien. Boys wearing uniforms milled about, the shiny badges they were wearing flashing in the sunlight. They laughed easily, looking completely at home…
…whereas Blaine Anderson felt like a plant uprooted and replanted into the wrong garden patch.
Well. No good just standing here, he decided, running a hand through his unruly curls and feeling completely out of place. It sounded convincing, but his body didn't obey until a few seconds later, when he was prompted by some boys racing past him into the school. He had to follow their example. How else was he supposed to fit in?
And so, with his sneakers crunching into the gravel, Blaine hitched up his backpack and went in with all the purest intentions. He tried to feel normal, to get used to the atmosphere of pure elite academia, but when the tie felt like it was strangling him, the blazer felt it was stifling him, and he was being given odd looks, there was just no way to feel normal.
He looked down at his papers. Windsor House, the house assignment said. But the school was a lot bigger from the inside. Where in the world was that? And of course he'd choose this day to forget the pamphlets that he'd pored over for weeks before making the transition. The ones with the map of the school? Naturally.
He sighed. At least it forced him to interact. He was going to have to ask someone.
He looked around for a moment to find someone who looked harmless enough to ask. As the new boy, the student body food chain placed him on the bottom link. Isn't that how it is everywhere? Better safe than sorry.
But as he walked on, past the massive building, he saw that a number of them were racing towards the courtyard area not too far off. They looked excited and eager.
"They've already started!" called one boy. "Come on!"
"Definitely going to make it to Nationals this year!" hooted another one.
"Come on, come on!"
It looks as though there was someplace more important to get to—the boys were evacuating out of the central building as though there was a fire. Blaine, confused, caught one boy as he ran past. "Hi! Um. Sorry. I'm new. What's going on? Is there an assembly?"
The boy was kindly-looking and brown-haired, and had bright eyes. "Oh, you're new too, huh? It's okay, don't look so scared."
"Haha…sorry. Uh, assembly?"
"What? Oh, no, the Warblers are performing out over there. In the courtyard."
"Warblers?" Blaine stared, surprised.
"Oh they're our acapella group. They're amazing, the whole school is nuts about them. I'm totally trying out. I don't think I'll get in but—oh, just come on and see for yourself." He gestured for Blaine to follow and sped off.
Blaine was a little startled as he followed the other boy. The school had a glee club? The school had a famous glee club? Seriously?
As he followed after all the other boys, he began to hear it—singing. A group of boys over at the large terrace that they all called the "courtyard" were already surrounded by an appreciative audience settled at the bottom of the short flight of steps. Blaine tried to get a better look at them. The boy he was following disappeared into the crowd.
Blaine looked around a moment, a little confused by the hubbub, but magnetized by the singing. He performed back in his old school, in Stanton High, but he didn't have an audience like this.
A flash of gold in the sun. His eyes landed on the lead singer. And he stared.
The blazer-clad boys were dancing to the beat of their own harmonies, voices soaring in the open air and their lead singer taking excellent command of them.
And it's a crime to admit,
That she is ten times legit,
My friend's she's hotter than shh...
The sun is shining on me!
The boys burst into movement behind the blond lead, their voices in perfect meld together.
Anybody got a something so fine,
And the time's she's on my lips, Ohh—
Anyone that knows the woman's a dime,
Come and sing it with the rich, Whooo—
Blaine stared at them. They were really good. They were really amazing. Their blond lead was different from the rest of them, however—he really stood out. Not just because he was tall and he was incredibly good looking, which Blaine was going to have to admit was completely unfair considering he already had those pipes on him, but because he just seemed to be the best voice among them.
A flash of green eyes caught him—blindsided him. Blaine choked.
Did he just…look at him? Right at him?
He looked around himself—everyone was grooving to the beat. It couldn't have been him.
I got it made in the sun baby,
Made in the sun sugar,
Made in the sun honey—
When he looked up again, he saw that the lead boy was still looking in his direction. And when he saw Blaine looking at him again, the smallest smirk seemed to appear at the corner of his lips.
What in the world…? He felt himself stare and grow a little hot in the face. This wasn't happening. This definitely was not happening.
The song was coming to a close and the lead boy did not look at him again for the rest of the song. It had to be entirely Blaine's imagination. That happened sometimes. He made up his own fantasies and sometimes got carried away. That was no good here in this school.
Of course…that didn't stop him from staring at the blond boy throughout the rest of the song either.
When they finally stopped, the crowd applauded and the Warblers grinned and congratulated each other. Blaine found himself applauding so hard that his hands were starting to hurt. But they were really amazing.
Warblers… Blaine tucked the name away for future reference. Once he got settled in this school, he really had to look into them. They were an excellent group and they were incredibly appreciated by the student body. The latter by far was more amazing. He stared into the distance, contemplating.
"Enjoy the show?"
Blaine jumped slightly and looked up.
Green eyes, piercing at him. He blinked. It was the lead singer. He was smiling a little at him and he just passed by as the other Warblers grinned at him and the whole crowd of boys was all starting to scatter back to their regular routines, elated by the performance.
"Uh…yeah." Blaine blinked. "You guys are great."
The singer just smiled and melted into the crowd. Blaine felt a bit of a surge of temporary insanity—it had to be those eyes, he'd never seen a pair so green before in his life—and ran after him a moment. "Hey! Wait a minute!" He caught himself, wondering if this was a good idea.
But the towering boy merely turned casually, not at all perturbed. "Hm?"
"I, uh…" Blaine collected his wits. The green eyes pierced into him like nothing else, studying him. He felt unsettled by them. "I'm…kind of new. I don't—do you know where Windsor House is?"
Now the boy looked amused. "Oh? So you're a new Windsor." And with the same cool, casual air, he simply gestured to the direction where some of the boys were going. "Those guys…with the blue shields on their jackets. Follow them."
Blaine looked to where he was pointing and blinked. He turned back to see the lead singer giving him a sidelong smile, turning away. As he did, Blaine saw the shield on his lapel—it was red crossed with white. So if the badges were the indicator…he wasn't from Windsor?
"Follow the Twins," the blond added, glancing at him a last time before walking off with other boys who had red shields. "Better hurry. You're late."
Twins…? Blaine was puzzled. He watched him walk off for a moment, a little mesmerized. He shook himself right out of it. This was ridiculous. What was the matter with him? So he had looks and a great voice—big deal Blaine, keep moving. Deal with that later.
He turned back to where the boy had pointed, and spotted what he meant. A pair of perfectly identical blond boys could be seen running towards a large dormitory some distance off. They were the same ones he'd seen among the performers.
Wait, what did that guy say? You're late.
He looked at the sheet he was holding again, and then checked the pocketwatch his grandfather had given him. Yes. He was late. About fifteen minutes late. "Damn," he muttered and bolted off towards the dormitory.
"So you first met Logan…right on your first day." Kurt blinked, surprised. But he did not move from where he sat, legs crossed. "So when you say right from the beginning, you meant the very beginning."
"I did say it was going to be a long story." Blaine smiled slightly.
At this, Kurt now turned to the boy on the other end of the sofa. Logan was studying Blaine, but when he saw Kurt looking, he turned his eyes to him and said, "In case you were wondering…yes, I had actually been looking at Blaine. I'd never seen him around before, and…he had this…" Logan was trying, and failing, not to smirk. "…fascinated expression."
He paused momentarily. Clearly his medication was taking effect. If there was any time to get him talking, it was now. "…I also may have been flirting a little. Just a little. You know how I like an appreciative audience."
Blaine dropped his head into his hand, elbow resting on the arm of the sofa. It was hard to tell if he was annoyed or embarrassed. But Kurt looked a little puzzled, and a little intrigued. Logan now smirked a little more and kept his eyes trained on Kurt.
"He also didn't look as…cleaned up. As he does now. Still raw, that guy."
"Logan—" Blaine now glared, but his ears turned red the way Shane's did sometimes, "Can I continue or do you want to tell it for me?"
Kurt bit his lip to not smile.
The two identical boys that he had seen were now resting by the doorway, grinning at each other about something and talking as they easily passed a soccer ball between them. They were an interesting pair—they could pass the ball to each other by kicking it lightly into the air towards the other, and carry on a conversation at the same time. They knew each other well enough to know where and when the other was tossing it.
Tentatively, Blaine pulled up his backpack again. The large plaque did state Windsor House, but it never hurt to be sure, and the two boys were in the way at the door. He shook off the nerves, plastered a big smile on his face and walked up to the pair.
"Excuse me. Hi. I'm, uh…supposed to go to Windsor House?"
The Twins looked at each other and down to the shorter boy with all the curls. Their ice blue eyes were startling and when they aimed them at Blaine, he had the feeling that they were both scrutinizing him intensely.
Their identical eyes landed on the pocketwatch still resting in Blaine's hand, and there was instant approval that lit up in their faces simultaneously. They both cracked grins. "Well you're at the right place." They looked up. "Hey Chaz? Fresh meat!"
Blaine felt a little apprehensive at the term. It was one he'd heard before in his old school s a freshman. And the memories weren't entirely pleasant.
A taller boy came in, built like an athlete. Blaine felt his stomach drop. He had enough experience with jocks to have this Pavlovian reaction around them. Charles Amos, came into the foyer, tie loose and shirt hanging out again. His face split into a big grin and he looked good-natured when he did, allowing Blaine to relax a little. "Ah! The newbie! Was expecting you! What was your name again? Blake? Blair?"
"Blaine," the boy responded. "Anderson."
"Blaine! Right. I'm Charlie." He shook hands with him—he had the strength of someone who must be a varsity player of some kind—"Prefect's not here, so I'm taking care of you for a bit. You're late."
The Twins were clearly restraining smiles—and failed. Charlie gave them an expression that seemed to just want to ask what they meant by that, but brushed it aside. He looked back to the newcomer. "But that's okay. Follow me. I'll give you orientation. And as much as possible…" he added as he led Blaine across the entrance hall, "…steer clear of the Twins now that you've caught their attention."
This puzzled Blaine, who had to resist looking back at where the identical blonds stood. "Why, what's wrong with them?"
"The easier question is what isn't."
Blaine nodded slowly, taking that in and avoiding the ice blue looks that followed him as he went with Charlie's long strides. "Hey can I ask you something?" he added hastily, not sure if he should really be asking this so soon.
"Do you know that guy? That…the blond one outside?" He pointed outside the window, back to where the one with green eyes stood, laughing with the boys with the red shields. There were three of them there, but he was sure Charlie would have no problem identifying the one he meant—since the other two were brunets. One was stocky and tanned, built strongly—the other, Blaine had the unsettling feeling that he'd seen somewhere before. "He pointed me to this direction."
Charlie glanced out the window and snorted as he caught sight of the three boys making their way past and towards a different dormitory. "Him? Oh. That's Logan."
Logan… Blaine nodded slowly, still watching. "Is he in this dorm?"
"Nah. See the red shields? Those guys are from Stuart House. We've got the blue shields, Windsor. And now that you're in here, you'll be bleeding blue and gold." He grinned at the heraldry that dangled from the ceiling beams. "Why do you ask?"
"Nothing, he's…well, he's got a set of pipes on him." He said offhandedly, trying to be as casual as humanly possible. He was failing. He could tell. "I heard him sing with those other guys."
"Oh yeah. He does. He's a Warbler." Charlie eyed him and seemed to discern far more than he let on. "Well, whatever it is you've got for him, take care around him. He's a little intense."
Intense, huh… Blaine thought. He stared out at the sight for a moment before he came to his senses and realized the tone by which Charlie said it.
Whatever it is you've got for him—
He quickly turned to find the varsity player watching him intently. Blaine blanched.
Remember why you came here. Remember what happened back at your old school. Do you really want to be letting them in on the secret already? Zero-tolerance bullying policy or not…do you really want to expose yourself here? It's still all-boys. And you know none of them. You're alone.
If you're not careful—
There was an immediate flash of recollection.
Black coffin. Rain.
The sight of Erin crying. Furious. Grieving.
The feel of Shane's face buried in his shoulder—the tears hot, the rain cold.
Seeing Micah getting up slowly after settling one calla lily onto the coffin.
Jude was gone. Buried. Far from pain now.
And himself…clutching onto an old camera as he sank it into the darkness of a wooden box full of old memories. The same way they sank Jude into his grave.
The beginning of the end.
Slowly…one after another…
…they all disappeared.
Blaine coughed, tearing himself away from the memories that caused him to run. It was over now. It would be safe now. They couldn't hurt him here…
…at least, that was what he hoped.
With lowered eyes, he turned to Charlie. "So…uh…what should I do now?" he asked carefully. "I should…get settled in and out of the way."
Charlie considered the new boy a little, and the sudden change of his attitude. He seemed alright just moments ago, but he decided not to press it for the meantime. This much was clear: he suddenly looked tired. So the older boy turned to the other paths in the entrance hall.
"That way leads to the common room. Everyone can stay there, hang out, pretty much spend your free time. We have some games set up there sometimes. But when curfew comes, everybody goes upstairs. Okay?"
Blaine nodded. Charlie gestured to some wooden doors past that. "That's the kitchen. You can keep stuff in the cupboards and the fridge, keep them labeled so people know they're yours… though I'm telling you, there will be instances when they disappear…" Charlie grinned.
Blaine just smiled faintly and nodded again. The less he made himself obvious to this suspicious upperclassman, the better.
Charlie noted the distinct lack of conversation now and cleared his throat. "All right, so, come on." He headed towards the staircase. "Your room's upstairs, on the second floor. When are you settling into the dorm? I take it that's not all your stuff." Charlie nodded towards the backpack Blaine had over his shoulder.
"No, it's not," Blaine nodded. "It's…um, it's going to follow later this afternoon. I told the movers."
"Parents not taking them to you?"
Silence. Blaine immediately flashed back to a different memory.
"This is who I am, dad! It's not going to change now—it's not going to change! Ever! Why can't you just see that it doesn't change any—"
Body impacting gun cabinet.
Wood splintering, glass smashing. A mother's gasp.
"Please—he's bleeding, stop."
Half-laugh, half-sob. Smell of blood, dripping a little from the temple.
"…it's not going to change me, or anything…"
"We…um…my parents and I…have this thing where…I keep out of the way," Blaine answered, wondering how to even adequately answer the question.
Charlie did not pry. Instead, he nodded in the a way that was sympathetic. "Ah. I get you. Don't worry, enough people here have the same problem," he snorted.
Do they now…? Blaine wondered as he and the hulking upperclassman arrived on the second floor. The corridor was long and full of doors, broken by the occasional old-world pieces of décor that seemed to make Windsor House seem just that bit homier.
They passed a door just as an explosion rattled through the corridor. Blaine nearly jumped out of his skin and slammed himself onto a door across the hall, staring in alarm, heart thudding in his chest. "What the—?"
"Yeah, you'll get used to that," Charlie sighed deeply as he simply bent over to pick up a fire extinguisher nearby, utterly calm. He easily handed it to a boy in a scorched lab coat who emerged out of a doorway that was pouring smoke. "Hey, Drew."
"Hi, Chaz." The frazzled boy did a double take at Blaine, but simply turned around. His Asian friend from inside the room—goggles also scorched, was gesturing for him to hurry. The door slammed closed.
No fire alarm, no panic, no anything.
Blaine stared at Charlie in amazement. "Let's go!" the upperclassman said almost cheerfully as he resumed his walk. If Blaine didn't know any better, he'd swear that the guy found Blaine's panic amusing.
"Now usually, we get to do as we like in the rooms, as long as we can pay for damages and it doesn't actually harm anyone else in the dorm…" Charlie explained casually, as though this was supposed to answer for the complete disregard of sanity shown moments ago. "But you'll soon get used to the fact that aside from, Dalton's normal rules of conduct, Windsor has its own…survival manual."
Immediately, Charlie grabbed Blaine without even looking, pulling him away just as a maelstrom of nerf bullets flashed past them. And then the twins were running past, firing at each other and some other students in the dorm.
Blaine felt alarmed as the group raced past, bullets flying, but Charlie remained unfazed as he walked towards a particular door. "All right so, this is where you'll be staying. You have a roomie. His name is David. You'll get used to him." He rolled his eyes. "He usually has his friend Wes over—he's from Hanover. You'll get used to him."
Blaine did remember that there were three Houses. Windsor, Stuart, and Hanover. He felt surprised—didn't know that students from other dorms can go into others…
"Other guys can't really just bounce into other Houses," Charlie suddenly said, as though divining what he had in his mind. "But Wes is a different case."
"How?" Blaine blinked, a little startled that he was read so easily.
Charlie's smile was frozen. "We're not hostile to Hanovers." And he rapped on the door prior to using a key he took out of his pocket, and opening it.
Blaine was still trying to absorb that last piece of information—Not hostile to Hanovers? So Windsor is hostile to Stuart…?—when the door revealed a distinctly old-world-looking room, with four poster beds standing on dais, and a large central area where a couch and a table sat. He stared in surprise; he'd never seen a dormitory that looked like this before.
Everything was oppressively neat—the bed that a student occupied was neatly made, and all the books were alphabetized and arranged in neat stacks, along with what looked to be a mountain of paperwork (a terrible omen of the academic workload in Dalton, in Blaine's opinion) that was still in a neat pile.
The room was neat—but it seemed as though one of the people in the room was determined to make that different.
"Where is it?" demanded a boy of Asian origins, tearing the cushions off the couch and tossing them absently. Magazines on the table were picked up and dropped unceremoniously down. "Come on, David! Where did you hide them?"
"You're going to have to deal with the Newman exam on your own—I told you to pay attention in class!" the good-looking African-American boy picking up after his friend frowned. "I've told you a billion times, we can totally space out if he's just lecturing, but once he starts talking about the exam—" He got hit in the face with a couch pillow. "Wes!"
"David, I'm serious! If I don't pass that exam, dad will revoke my motocross privileges!"
"You need those privileges revoked! The way you drive on the road—you're not supposed to be traipsing around on your Desmosedici until you're sixteen—"
"What's the difference between now and four months?"
"Four months, of course!"
"Ladies!" Charlie glowered at them both when they continued to squabble like an old married couple. "You have a guest? A permanent one, hopefully? If Windsor doesn't drive him crazy…" he added under his breath, but Blaine heard.
Both boys looked up. They stared at Charlie. Then at Blaine. The one named David looked surprised. "Oh. Is this my new roomie?"
"You're getting a roomie?" the one named Wes immediately looked interested. They both advanced towards Blaine so suddenly that the new boy backed a step. They immediately stopped in their tracks.
"Okay…a little jumpy, isn't he?" grinned Wes. He looked at Charlie. "When Drew blew another one, did he—"
"Yeah, he jumped," Charlie tried not to grin. "So take it easy on him until he gets used to things?" He grabbed Blaine by the shoulder and pulled him towards the other two. "This is Blaine Anderson. He's in your year, I figure you'll be sharing some classes, so be nice?"
"Hi…" Blaine stared.
"I'm David Sullivan," said his new roommate with a bright smile. "I clean when I'm stressed."
"Which is often," his friend rolled his eyes, but he grinned at Blaine. "I'm Wes Hughes. I'm not from here."
Blaine, who had already been told, and had noted the white and gold badge on Wes' lapel, nodded. "Yeah, I heard…"
"Okay good! Introductions made…" Charlie looked around pointed to the empty bed on the other side of the room. "Blaine, you take that spot." He looked to David. "His stuff comes in this afternoon he says. You and Wes help him out, yeah?"
It wasn't actually a request. But David shrugged and grinned. "Sounds good. Get to know the newbie a bit more."
"Yeah and…keep an eye out—the twins seem to like him," Charlie added.
Both boys groaned. "Man…you're doomed." Wes shook his head.
"Why?" Blaine stared.
"You'll see what the Twins do to people they like."
"Which, I assume, is that manner they have when they force nerf gun battles at you and fill your room with coffee?" Kurt asked as he leaned back on the chair with a small smile.
"Fortunately, they didn't have a particular thing pegged down on me at the time," Blaine said with a smile. "But the Twins did hound me for the rest of the day. I felt like I was under a microscope or something."
"And you were rooming with David." Kurt considered this. "So Wes didn't move from Hanover yet…"
"It's not usual for a student to transfer Houses mid-year…unless they're transferring out of Windsor," Logan said casually, leaning on his knuckles. "Stuart's had to catch a few driven nuts by this House."
"And you drive them even madder with pressure," Blaine commented. "I hear Marcus went ballistic in the library when all the calculus material got checked out."
"At least our kind of pressure is towards academics…not antics that slowly but surely break down a person's sanity."
"That's basically what we call your method."
"Guys!" Kurt snapped his fingers. He raised his eyebrows at them. "What happened after that, Blaine?"
Now Logan began to smirk slowly. Blaine shot him a look, but cleared his throat and continued.
The classes were not difficult.
They were brutal.
Blaine sat at his Art History staring at a catching-up list that spanned three pages of single-spaced lines, with each task getting no more than three lines each and realized exactly what he had gotten himself into.
It didn't help that most of it came from his Literature class, and he had no idea why that giant of a professor got it in so badly for him. After he failed to answer two of the questions—how was he supposed to know that they were currently tackling James Joyce at this point in time?—the professor named Murdoch had given him a "catching up" list that was longer than his other work so far put together.
Blaine looked up, startled. "Yes, ma'am?"
The art teacher had called him twice now. Ms. Blumenfeld blinked at him, holding her open book, and prompted, "Sunflowers?"
He didn't understand for a moment, taken off-guard. What was she asking about them again?
"Van Gogh," came a very soft whisper from next to him. "Repetitions 1889."
Blaine immediately sat up and repeated exactly what was just whispered to him. Ms. Blumenfeld smiled and continued the topic, "And of course some critics also say that if it were not for certain pigments that had been developed around that time, Van Gogh would not have…"
Blaine relaxed, relieved. He glanced next to him and saw a small boy with strawberry blond hair playing with a paintbrush, twirling it in his fingers. He paid absolutely no attention to the lesson and seemed lost in thought. On his desk lay a sketchbook—one page filled with amazing watercolor figures, the other page, in distinct contrast, was a jumble of pencil sketches of what looked to be lots of clothes.
"Thanks…" Blaine whispered.
The boy turned to him and smiled with kind brown eyes. "It's okay."
Flash of a badge in the afternoon sun. Blue and gold. The boy was a Windsor. Blaine remembered what Charlie mentioned before continuing orientation.
Windsors look out for each other. Everybody gets into trouble too often.
"Mr. Van Kamp?"
The boy turned his eyes to the teacher and in spite of being totally inattentive, made what was a nearly three-long answer about Van Gogh's Sunflowers series and Paul Gauguin. And sat back down, head lowered. The other boys just smiled as though they expected such a thing, and carried on listening.
While the mini-curator continued to look lost in thought and somehow distressed, Blaine wanted to ask him what was wrong when a balled-up piece of paper bounced onto his desk. Surprised, he picked it up and opened it.
White Rabbit—Join us for tea?
Instead of a signature, there as a drawing of a teacup.
Utterly confused, Blaine looked around. About three rows away, the blond twins from earlier grinned at him. But they relaxed and immediately pretended to be listening when Ms. Blumenfeld passed them.
White Rabbit…? Blaine wondered, confused. Was this even for him?
"They mean you."
Blaine turned behind him and met a pair of familiar bright eyes. A grin came with them. "The Twins. They've named you. Congratulations—your life is over."
"I…" Blaine recognized the boy he had met earlier in the day, the one who had led him towards the Warblers. "What do you mean?" he asked, a little alarmed.
At this instant, the melodious bell sounded over the halls, and everybody began to get up, preparing to leave. The blond twins scooted out of the room as quickly as they could, and the small curly-haired artisan seemed to sigh and scoop up his sketchbook before leaving the room with the tide.
The brunet boy, who stayed back, smiled at Blaine as they picked up their things. "Evan and Ethan Brightman have this thing where, if they particularly like you, they would give you a name." After a moment, he added, "Mainly…based off Alice in Wonderland."
"What do you mean, I'm doomed, though…?" Blaine asked, confused as he followed him out of the room.
The boy shrugged. "Well, when the Twins particularly like someone, they won't leave them alone. We have this theory that they were born into the world with the sole reason of driving people crazy."
"Have you had your room filled yet?"
And at this, the still unnamed Windsor grinned. "Whatever you do, don't let them figure out what you 'need'. They will unleash it on you until you're sick of it."
This was getting more cryptic by the moment. He stared at the other boy and noticed his badge. Also blue and gold. Another Windsor. The boy caught him looking at it, and grinned. "Oh. Yeah, I'm from Windsor. Don't worry, you'll get yours after the—" he seemed to catch himself in time. His eyes twinkled. "—the time limit."
He gave Blaine a last look, eyes landing on his sneakers. They were white and red, but the white parts had been covered with a massive jumble of felt tip messages that were now unintelligible, all written by the four most important people in Blaine's world.
Blaine was the only person in the hall wearing sneakers. Everyone else was in leather. Blaine turned red, but the boy's tone was sincere. He waved. "See you around, then?" and he immediately hurried off to his next class.
"Wait!" Blaine called. "Who are you again?"
And then, in the mass of students moving through the halls to go to wherever they had to, someone passed him, and then Blaine forgot the other boy instantly. A set of red-shields, boys from Stuart, were moving past—and Blaine instantly recognized the tall blond he'd earlier seen singing among them.
He was listening to a good-looking tanned boy, who looked a little manic as he blabbed on about football, with great patience.
"Can you believe that?" the tanned boy demanded to him. "But seriously, I don't like Sullivan, but he'd be the best goalie in the league if he just—"
"You should stop getting worked up before you get a heart attack, Derek," Logan answered with the patience of someone who was used to listening to his perfectionist friend rant.
That was when Logan caught Blaine's gaze again. It was only a moment—piercing green eyes—but Blaine was sure this time: he had smirked slightly at him. And Blaine was sure, because the boy named Derek turned to where his friend was looking and then raised an eyebrow at Blaine, as though asking, "what are you looking at?"
Blaine felt a surge of panic in his gut. Too obvious. Too obvious! He froze in his spot at the hall and tried to look elsewhere. His eyes landed on a pair of sepia-coloured eyes that looked at him with some interest. He realized it was the brunet that he was positive he recognized from somewhere before. A little startled by the gaze, he watched as the boy on Logan's other side fell back a little to stare back at him.
And finally, when a smirk crept to the boy's face, Blaine recognized him through his familiar smile. Julian Larson. The movie star.
They have people like that in this school? Blaine wondered in amazement as the celebrity seemed to appraise him for a quick moment before following after Logan and Derek. As Blaine's eyes followed him, he realized that Logan was still looking at him. He felt a little unsettled. Could he tell?
He nearly jumped a foot into the air when identical voices sounded at either side of him. And then powerful grips grabbed his arms and pulled him away down the hall.
"You're coming with us!" said one of the twins, the one to his left, sounding very happy.
"We're going to help you unpack!" said the others.
"Someone said your things arrived!"
"So let's get you settled in!"
Blaine stared, completely taken off-guard. "What about—"
"Class? That can wait!"
"Settling in is more important!"
"We'll grab David along the way!"
"And Wes if we can!"
Blaine had basically no choice. So he went.
Kurt now turned his eyes to Logan, who had been listening carefully without appearing to, staring into empty space. When he felt Kurt's gaze on him, he looked up and asked, "What?"
"It's your turn," Kurt prompted.
"How is it my turn?"
"Clearly you had Blaine on your radar. You wouldn't have been giving him those looks if he hadn't been." Kurt crossed his arms and gave him a direct look as Blaine shifted uncomfortably from where he sat. "So tell me your side of what it was with Blaine. Were you really trying to get his attention or…?"
Logan sighed deeply, looking at the ceiling. "I feel like I'm in therapy again."
"Were you?" Blaine finally asked.
Logan glanced at him, then at Kurt, and his eyes turned distant again as he looked away, a small smirk playing on his lips. "I guess I was."
"What's the deal with that guy?" Derek murmured as he followed Logan. "And what's the deal with you?"
Logan was smirking to himself as they all headed towards the coffee area. His green eyes looked greener than ever today, and usually that happened when he was particularly fascinated by something. "I just thought he was…interesting."
"Interesting?" echoed Julian from next to him, raising an eyebrow. He rolled his eyes and ran a hand through his perfectly cared-for oak brown hair. "That's got to be the first time you've ever used that word to describe anyone. We were under the impression that you loathed the human race in general."
Logan shot Julian a dagger look before retorting, "I've used that word before. I've applied it on you. And Derek."
"Well, as much as we're deeply, truly honored that His Majesty has deigned us lowly ones interesting…" Derek raised an eyebrow, sarcasm dripping like venom from every word, "What makes the Windsor newbie any different?"
"Newbie?" Julian asked.
"Yeah, he must be. Did you see his shoes?"
"You sound like a girl sharing gossip," Logan snorted as he got his place in line to pick up the coffee order. Given the chance, everyone in Stuart would prefer to have coffee piped into their veins intravenously—that was how dependent some of them got. And more than one student from the other houses wondered if the school should be made aware about this level of caffeine addiction.
"No, seriously. They were sneakers. Not a lot of people bounce the uniform code like that."
"Sneakers, leather, wool stockings—who gives a crap?" Julian hadn't had his coffee today, but no one called his moments of snappishness as caffeine withdrawal. The behavior was more or less permanent. "You haven't answered the question, Logan."
"I don't have to," Logan answered calmly. "I find him interesting, that's all. …and he seemed to like the performance a lot."
The look on that new guy's face…was interesting.
Derek glanced at Julian, who looked back at him, a little surprised and apprehensive. But the actor said nothing. The coffee arrived and was handed out to each of them. Logan took a couple of sips before saying, "…pity he's a Windsor."
"Why?" Derek asked.
"It would be easier to keep an eye on him if he was a Stuart."
Julian rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me you're crushing on that guy."
Derek looked up from his coffee cup, looking a little stunned. "…you're…you're not, are you? I mean you don't even know him. He might be a freak or something. You know how insane Windsors can be."
"I am a freak, if you haven't noticed," Logan remarked, almost amused.
"We've noticed," Julian said coldly, with carefully gauged sarcasm in his voice.
Logan quickened his pace, clutching on his coffee cup. "I'm going on ahead."
"We have class—don't go wandering off again!" Derek said disapprovingly. Logan merely waved to him absently as he left, leaving Julian and Derek to wonder what happened.
"Where did you go?" asked Kurt as he walked with Logan to the door of Windsor House. Curfew was approaching, and Logan had to go back to Stuart House for a House meeting. Rumor had it that the Stuarts were considering stripping him of Prefect title after all, and that it would pass on to one of the seniors (unlikely, all the seniors were buried under too much work), or to Derek (who was also buried under a lot of work, but would never turn down such a title).
Logan glanced at Kurt with a faint smile. "I may have gone to find out a little more about the new Windsor. It wasn't difficult. I talked to George Wong, the prefect at the time. He couldn't tell me much. I would have to actually ask a Windsor. Seeing as how I was a Warbler—it didn't turn out to be too hard. The Twins talk a lot, and so do Wes and David. But they didn't know him well enough to tell me more either. They just said he seemed a little…jumpy."
"You…really liked him after one look? Enough to do all that snooping?" Kurt asked, a little disbelieving as he stopped at the door.
Logan stepped out into the moonlight and glanced back at Kurt with a small smile. "Why is that strange? Didn't he like you the moment he saw you…?"
Kurt smiled a little at that, but quelled it with the next statement. "The story's far from over. I want the rest of it."
"And like I said…I'll tell you. I really don't see a point in keeping anything from you anymore…" He glanced at the sky with those clouded eyes and sighed. "Besides…I know you want me and Blaine to try and…work this all out. Maybe this'll help. Just…get it out of the way, or so to speak."
Logan went down the steps of Windsor, and Kurt watched him go for a moment, considering him. Logan really wasn't all that terrible altogether. People simply had the assumption that he was self-centered (and he was) full time. But it looked more like Logan was simply picking his own way through his haze, and if he didn't do things for his own interests…no one else would.
Kurt remembered Julian, and the talk they had down the hall. As he had predicted, the actor had not left. Or at least, that was what he heard from the Stuarts, who were discussing the actor's strange behavior.
Julian had not attended class after the Fair. And apparently, he had been holed up in his room, claiming illness. Derek was the only one who was admitted in. Even Logan—or, as it seemed especially Logan—was not admitted into his room. Until Julian sprung out of his room again day or so later, (looking pale, shaken, and interminably quiet, as though he really had been ill). Logan had been particularly vindictive for being kept out the loop. There had been collateral damage as he took it out on everyone and the Stuarts feared for their lives for a while.
Kurt was sure that if the "illness" was dramatics over the problem Julian was having over Logan, this was a major exaggeration even by the primadonna's usual standards, and Kurt had heard quite a great deal about those.
This had to have been a first. The situation must somehow be worse than before. And so maybe it was that thought that compelled Kurt to ask. "Hey, Logan?"
The boy at the foot of the steps stopped. "What?"
Kurt crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorway. He wasn't one to out someone else. But he did have to ask: "…was Blaine the really the first one?"
"What do you mean?"
"The first person you were ever attracted to in this school? You made it seem like Derek and Julian were surprised to hear that you actually found someone interesting."
"As they should be," Logan shrugged slightly. "It would be the first time I've voiced such a thing out."
That was an odd way of saying it. Kurt considered this for a moment, eyes narrowed slightly, but he nodded. "Good night."
"Good night, then."
As Logan disappeared, Kurt reentered Windsor and found Blaine smiling at him a little from the entrance hall. He looked a little awkward, and Kurt smiled at him. "What?"
Blaine shrugged a little. "This story…it starts out okay… And then by the end…"
"I'll find that out for myself," Kurt answered him, allowing Blaine's hand to take his.
The two of them headed on upstairs and found the Tweedles still standing awake and standing in front of Kurt's dorm room, both looking a little worried. They paced before it restlessly, nerf guns slung at their sides.
"What are you guys doing wearing a groove in front of my door?" Kurt asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Dormouse," Ethan supplied.
"He said he doesn't want to sing for Parents' Night," Evan added.
"He said he's not going to audition," Ethan continued.
"Why not?" Kurt demanded. If this was going to be about Shane, he was going to lose it with his little friend. He wasn't blind—he could see how completely and utterly in vain Reed's show of congeniality during the introductions of Blaine's old friends had been.
He hadn't seen that kind of feigned stability since…
…well, since himself.
"Kurt—" he felt Blaine's hand on the small of his back, leading him forward. Blaine looked pale and a little startled. "This is…" He looked up to the tall, brown-haired boy, who smiled hesitantly—as though he felt he wasn't supposed to be smiling at all. "This is Micah Randall."
The one who disappeared… Kurt remembered as he looked up at the boy. Micah smiled and shook hands with him, quiet and unassuming. And his eyes kept flicking back to Shane, who stood staring, completely immobile. And Kurt's eyes landed on his roommate, who looked in apprehension at the silent exchange between Micah and Shane. And it was clear that though he may not know everything—every glance told volumes. His hand shook just slightly from where it was holding onto Shane's.
Blaine looked almost guilty as he saw them. It was Kurt who moved—he stepped forward and took Reed's hand carefully, pulling him away from Shane for a moment.
This stirred the younger Anderson back to life somewhat. "Wait…" Shane murmured as he felt Reed getting pulled away from him, but he glanced back from Reed to Micah and then only seemed hopelessly confused, not sure of what to do or even say. Micah was different. He stared unwaveringly at Shane and remained quiet, patient, as though he felt he was privileged to even be present.
Shane seemed to move forward a little to Micah but abruptly stopped himself. To the surprise of the onlookers, Micah lifted his hands somewhat, as though to meet him if Shane really had moved forward, but they both stopped themselves at the same time.
With guilt evident for the first time on his placid face, Micah's eyes turned to the cold ground. "…Shane…I think…I think we have to talk."
"Yeah," Shane managed to choke out, pulling himself back to reality. "We do."
It was when Reed was then standing next to Kurt that those brown eyes lifted and asked the taller boy unspoken questions. What is going on? those eyes seemed to ask. Kurt wished there was an easy answer.
The introductions finally properly began when Blaine realized that the Twins were glaring at him in a prompting manner. Everyone was introduced to Blaine and Shane's old friends. While Erin and Rebecca remained perfectly cheerful and talked to the others as though they have been friends for a long time, Micah politely shook hands with the other boys and volunteered no information about himself.
When Micah came to Reed, it was he who introduced himself first with a small smile. Reed stared up at him for a moment then seemed to shake himself and beamed in a manner that Kurt had seen once before: when he was smiling in agreement at whatever his mother said.
This show lasted until the walk back to the dorm, when everyone chattered everyone up about the fair, until Blaine had to go and see off his friends, who apparently were staying in a motel in Westerville (protests rose from some of the boys, offering to place them somewhere better, and at length, were accepted).
It fizzled to nothing when Shane turned to Reed and said a hasty goodbye, promising to explain soon.
"Shane…" Reed hastily glanced back to Micah, who stood speaking quietly to Blaine. "Who is he…?"
"Someone I…I thought I lost a long time ago." Shane squeezed Reed's hands, still looking confused. "I'll be back, okay? I promise. I'll, uh—I'll explain everything." And he gave Reed an odd look—one that couldn't be properly read, before he released the smaller boy and hurried back to where Blaine and the rest of their group stood.
Reed stood staring after him, the previous countenance he had going into nothing.
He'd been quiet following that occasion, and Shane had not yet returned so far—Blaine said that his friends were changing places of stay, and as Blaine had class, it was Shane who took care of them for the moment.
While the thought of having the old friends together again after a year was pleasant—Kurt hadn't seen Blaine that happy since he agreed to be his boyfriend—having to watch Reed like that gave him a bit of a twinge.
"I'll handle this," Kurt declared. He turned to his boyfriend. "I suggest you get your little brother on the phone, or I might have to end up talking to him myself—"
"No—I—I got it," Blaine blinked, a little startled. He couldn't read all of Kurt's moods yet and if he was going to blow up like he did with Tabitha, Blaine would rather handle his own crazy brother. "I'll handle the thing on Shane's end. I'm going to see them soon anyway." He pulled out his phone and stepped away as Kurt opened the door to his own room.
If Shane wasn't planning on explaining then Kurt was going to. He strode into the room.
…and stopped dead.
Art apocalypse again. Never a good sign.
As he surveyed the pandemonium of art that currently was taking over the room, the Twins leapt forward and grabbed his arms, looking scared, because the last time Kurt stood stiffly quiet like that, he blew up on Tabitha. Kurt shot them a pointed look and the twins let go, hands up in surrender. "Okay…okay…"
Kurt took two steps forward and Reed popped up from behind his bed, clothes, face and hair streaked with paint, arms full of canvases. "It's okay! I'm fine. I'm okay. I'm cleaning it up. Please don't hurt me, Kurt." He stared with big brown eyes.
Kurt sighed deeply. "Reed—"
"I'm cleaning it up—I'm cleaning it up—I'm moving into the Dalton Museum and Art Hall. I'll do all my work there," Reed said quickly, still looking a little scared and hugging his work. He quickly moved towards the stuff in Kurt's side of the room and promptly tripped over the carpet. Kurt gasped, but Reed fell on his back.
"Did I ruin them? Did I break them?" He frantically sat up and looked at his art and found them reasonably unharmed. He looked relieved. "Thank goodness. I'm cleaning it all up, Kurt. I'm fine, I'm okay, calm and everything."
"You're the very picture of serenity," Kurt remarked, raising an eyebrow as he helped his friend to his feet. He swept up some of the paint tubes on his desk and deposited them into Reed's smock pockets.
"If you're here to ask about the audition—" Reed said as he picked up some rolled up work, "—it's because of this, okay? This." He nodded towards the mess.
"Because of all the artwork?"
"You've met my mother, haven't you?" Reed breathed, reasonably distraught as he went to the other side of the room where a crate was waiting. He dropped all the paintings into it. "Well, Parents' Night, I'm one of the highlight presenters, she's going to be there—"
"You once prepped for a gala presentation and rehearsed at the same time."
"Kurt, I seriously don't need any more pressure than I already have now!" Reed begged, flailing his arms.
"So this isn't about Shane?"
It had the desired effect. Reed jumped and tripped over a fallen bedsheet. "Oof!"
Kurt patiently waited until the shorter boy popped back up again, bright scarlet and brushing himself off. "I'm okay! I'm fine." He cleared his throat and swept up the paintbrushes lying on his obscenely expensive blanket. "No. This is not about him. It's just…pressure."
Kurt kept watching patiently.
Reed's shoulders drooped. "All right slightly about him—" Kurt sighed and threw up his hands, "—but in my defense—I'm just saying—that he is one of the many, many pressures and I decided to just unload one in favor of another."
"Singing lead in front of all those important people?" Kurt spoke as though Reed was contemplating actual murder.
"Kurt, honestly, I love you, you're my friend, but I think you've got to really calm down. Singing lead isn't as big of a deal with me as it is with you, and if Harvey gave me the chance, I'd pass it to you in a heartbeat. And you know my mom doesn't approve of my singing."
"Dormouse, what did your mom say after Winter Fest?" the Twins asked from the door.
"'Adequate'," Reed responded absently as he tossed some more tubed-up artwork into the crate.
Kurt rolled his eyes. The performance had failed to move Hilde van Kamp. He would've thought that his own contribution to it would've worked even partially. Then again, if Hilde had been that easy to bend, no one in Windsor would consider her a worthy opponent.
"Adequate," Kurt echoed with a snort. "Your mother may have the eye for fashion but clearly doesn't have the ear for music. And she was married to your dad! How can she not pay attention to you and music?" He was, of course, referring to Winston Davis, Reed's father, who was a well-known music producer.
"Maybe the Dormouse got all of the genes on that end," Ethan grinned.
"Maybe that's why she's so opposed." Reed rolled his eyes. "Dad's producing my stepbrother Clark and his band now…"
"Your stepbrother is Clark Sawyer?" Kurt stared. "The guy from Haven?"
"I thought Clark was still acting with Julian in Something Damaged?" Evan asked, confused.
"He is, but he's not quitting his boy band. The fans will kill him. Can we not talk about my complicated family life and talk about something else?" Reed went up to Kurt's bed where his friend now sat. "I heard you and Blaine brought Logan in the common room. What was that about?"
Kurt raised an eyebrow. "I wanted them to tell me what happened last year."
"That's a very long story, Alice," grinned Ethan.
"Then maybe you would be so kind as to continue where we'd left off?" Kurt looked at them with a smirk. "You two know practically everything that goes on around here." He looked at Reed. "And I'm sure you know some things. I know Blaine mentioned meeting you early on."
"Our little Dormouse wasn't as talky or involved then as he is now…" Evan happily plopped down onto Kurt's bed. "He was always so worried."
"I suppose I have Blaine to thank for helping Reed be a little more…sociable," Ethan nodded with a smile. "But you know, when no one knew he was gay yet, he was a little quiet too."
Reed agreed. "He told us that during those first weeks, he was surprised that everyone—well, in general—was…pretty nice."
"Blaine!" David waved from the table as soon as the shorter boy arrived into the dining hall. "Hey, over here!"
The newcomer looked up and realized he really was the one being spoken to. Tentatively, he waved back at his new roommate before going to take his place in the lunch line and get his food. He had another close shave earlier when he spotted Logan in one of his classes that day, and found himself staring. Incidentally, Wes had been in the same class, and he'd seen him boring a hole in the back of Logan's head. Blaine had quickly ducked down to his book.
The Warblers. The whole school was totally nuts about them, apparently. And if Logan was their lead singer, then he pretty much stood in a position that was way way out of Blaine's league. If…leagues were being considered. Which they were not, but for purposes of a completely hypothetical situation: if anyone at all got wind that Blaine was gay and was going for the lead singer like that—
"Blaine!" the cry echoed from the doorway of the gym just as the supply closet door slammed—broom handle jamming the handles. Blaine's hands were pounding on the door, yelling to be let out.
"Hey! We got another one for the room!"
He could hear another person—please don't be Shane, please don't be Shane—struggling amidst the laughing jocks outside the door as Blaine was trapped in.
A slam as a body hit the doors, making Blaine jump. He knew that groan of pain against the door.
"Jude!" he slammed his fist on the door. "Jude!"
A muffled curse at the other side. A camera lens smashing to the ground. Insults and curses hurled back and forth and he was sure he heard his friend sob.
After a few moments, a blaze of sunlight pierced into the black—Jude was hurled into the supply closet amidst laughter.
The sneaker steps faded. The laughter became faint. A distant set of doors slammed.
"Are you okay…?" Blaine asked quickly, helping his friend get up in the darkness. Both of them bruised. "Jude, are you okay?"
"Blaine? Are you okay?"
He jumped and nearly knocked someone's tray of pasta over. "Whoa!" Wes quickly grabbed the tray before it fell. He breathed out in relief. "Geez, dude, what's with you? Are you another clumsy one?" He grinned, though not unkindly.
"No—no, sorry—" Blaine answered, startled. "I just spaced out. What were you saying…?"
"I said David says you should hang out with us over there once you get your food," Wes repeated, looking at the new boy curiously. He nodded over to the table where David was sitting. As Blaine looked that way, Wes added, "You too, Reed."
Blaine realized that he was talking to another boy in the line, one who just arrived, standing behind Blaine, and looked startled when Wes mentioned him. It was the curly-haired boy from the Art class. "Y-yeah," he nodded quietly, hastily, tucking his hands away—they were covered in paint.
"Are—are you sure that's okay?" Blaine asked apprehensively. He'd never been asked to sit down with anyone past his small group of friends before, and he still wasn't sure on how to treat here in this school. Do Wes and David have suspicions yet, and just wanted to see if they could be confirmed? "Well…" he glanced again at the table and back at Wes and Reed, knowing that since Reed had been around longer, he had priority. "There's no room."
"There's plenty of room," Wes grinned. "Meet you there." And Wes went back to the sit with David. Blaine watched him go and felt nervous as he picked up a tray. I have to try to not be obvious. I mean…those twins must know…and Wes saw me staring at Logan…
"It's okay, you know…"
Blaine broke out of his reveries to see Reed looking at him. The shorter boy smiled faintly. "They're nice, don't worry."
Surprised, Blaine smiled a little. "Uh…yeah, I know, they helped me unpack a couple of days ago." Making friends is good. "I'm Blaine."
"I know. I'm Reed. I live in the second floor too…a couple of doors down."
Blaine remembered that. He saw Reed come out of an oppressively white, completely padded room. Like an asylum room. It had been a little unsettling. All right, a lot unsettling. But as a human being, Reed seemed perfectly all right…
"Sorry about scaring you during the initiation," Reed smiled a little bit. "It's just this thing we do with all Windsors."
"Ah…you reminded me to apologize to David for hitting him with a lacrosse stick."
"He did say you were pretty strong—are you trying out for a sports team?" Reed smiled.
Maybe I could. It would help my social standing. "I might. Maybe fencing or…football."
"We and David are in the football team. Maybe you can ask them if you can try out. Our football team's pretty good."
Blaine stared. I stay in a room with a jock. I concussed a jock. All right…there's that quicksand… "I should—yeah, I should go apologize or something."
Reed smiled a little more, and the worry in the brown eyes Blaine had previously seen seemed to fade away a little bit. "It's fine, really. Stuff like that happens. At least you put up a fight. Charlie and the others were impressed. Apparently I just squeaked and let them…" Reed turned crimson.
And then he spectacularly tripped over his own feet, food flying. His food slammed into Blaine's uniform and all over Blaine's shoes. The entire lunchroom winced and for a moment Blaine was shell-shocked, but when he came to his senses, he helped Reed get up.
"I'm so, so sorry—" Reed stammered, looking even more crimson. "I'm a big klutz, that's all."
If it had been anywhere else, maybe at his old school, Blaine might have partially considered if it was done on purpose—he'd been on the receiving end of enough traps. But Reed looked so embarrassed and crestfallen that it couldn't have been anything but a complete and total accident from the flustered boy. "It's okay, it's an accident, that's all."
"You two okay?" David asked as he arrived, looking concerned. He put away Reed's tray and even helped brush off Blaine's uniform as Wes went to get another tray for Reed. This looked like standard procedure to them by now, and then both boys walked with them back to their table, where the Twins seemed to have magically appeared at.
The Twins made themselves useful by helping clean Blaine up a little bit more and the pouring food into Reed's plate, all done as though they did this sort of thing all the time, every day, that it was just second nature to them. And whatever clincher Blaine was waiting for during that lunch hour, being called out for staring at the blond lead Warbler, it never came. In the entire duration of the conversation, Blaine was careful about his answers as it would seem the boys were trying to coax him to talk more about himself, but they only seemed to be interested in everything other than what he was afraid they would ask.
He found out that all of the people on the table, including timid Reed (who they also seemed to be trying to chat up a little), were members of the Warblers. Blaine felt a little embarrassed that he didn't recognize a single one of them, and maybe that had something to do with his focus entirely on only one person during the performance.
For the next fortnight, as Blaine continued to keep an eye out for everyone cautiously, and it would appear that David (and invariably Wes, who seemed to always be with him) really was just trying to be friendly when he invited Blaine to join them for lunch or asked if he would like to play a few games on the PS3 and maybe even demolish a few people from another House in Halo.
Blaine was not party to this information, but most people in the House were very well aware that they lost a number of new transfers owing to the madness that went on in Windsor. Blaine had fought back—powerfully so—during initiation, and they wanted to make sure that they weren't going to lose this one.
At least, the Twins didn't want to.
"Is he scared of us?" the Twins asked, while wearing what appeared to be full body armor, each holding two gargantuan full-auto nerf guns, primed to shoot. It took all of Wes and David's patience not to answer that question.
"He does seem a little secretive," Charlie told David, who had spent another unsuccessful morning trying to get Blaine to talk to them a little more. The only thing he managed to extract from him were a repetition of what Reed already knew (wanting to join sports), and if Reed, the clumsy artist who was often solitary and worried about his mother's pressures, could extract more than David could, that was saying something.
"Why is he so scared of us?" David asked. "We're insane, but we're not that insane."
A long pause followed that. "All right, maybe we're that insane."
"Anything, Caterpillar?" the Twins asked curiously at the speaker by the common room. And a response issued from it.
"All right, I still think it's really creepy that you're making me do a background check—"
"We were just curious…"
"Yes you are. You're very curious. By that I mean strange. Mentally."
"You made Han do a background check on Blaine? Isn't that invasion of privacy?" Kurt, scandalized, glared at the Twins as they, carrying boxes and canvases, trooped towards the Dalton Academy Art Hall the next day.
"It's called Google, anyone can do it," Evan rolled his eyes, box under his arm.
"And besides, we didn't actually find out all that much," Ethan said.
Kurt grabbed the back of Reed's blazer just as his friend—carrying a framed piece of artwork that was so large he couldn't even see over it—predictably tripped over a crack in the pavement that he didn't see. "Did you do that to me when I first came here?" Kurt demanded as Reed squirmed out of his grip.
"We wouldn't do that." The Twins gave him a completely innocent expression that no one within hearing distance actually trusted. They were approaching the Art Hall.
The Hall was officially the Theodore Marshall Building, and it was named after a famous curator who had studied once in Dalton twenty-five years ago. It was a beautifully designed building of mid-century modern-style elegance, with large coloured panels of glass and wood as windows.
It was three stories high: the first floor had the office of the Art Hall supervisor and a large working area. The large area in this floor was where the art club and visitors could gather, sketch and do their work. There were far more supplies in this building than there are in the art room in the South and Main, and had storerooms on each floor. This building was practically the home base of the Dalton Art club, where half the club hero-worshipped Reed (to his complete and utter chagrin), and the other half possessed barely-concealed envy (which Reed found equally unsettling). This was mainly why he painted in his room and not there, with them.
The staircase to the second floor was ornately carved wood, and the second floor was mainly for exhibitions, and was separated into three different halls. The school's art collection rested in this second floor, and the school held some formal functions for visitors and parents here. Sculptures and paintings of great value rested here amidst warm light.
One then had to pass old wooden doors which revealed a glass staircase, heralding a more modern outlook, for the third floor was another exhibition space—but for the work of the students, for their exhibitions. They held their own presentations here, and the art teachers also held presentations here for the various year levels' final art projects. The third floor had a large main exhibition hall, and two smaller "focus" halls.
One of them was where Reed would be displaying his work. While all the other talented art clubbers would be exhibiting their work in the main hall, only Reed commandeered an inner hall to himself. As Kurt climbed past the first two floors, he started to partially understand why Reed chose to focus on the exhibition over singing lead. The pressure must already be substantial.
"They didn't find out much," Blaine said, from where he was also carrying Reed's art materials into the third floor, and into the double doors of the inner division. The Twins were already running around with decorations, helping Reed set things up. Reed seemed to find them more hindrance than help, but tolerated the company. Blaine added, "Mainly they just found some info about me being in theatre in my last club, and singing…"
"And when we found out he could sing," Wes added, "We thought it would help to bring that up. Since we were Warblers and all."
"But before that," David said, "…Han saw his name mentioned in a minor newspaper article. Over the death of one of his friends, Jude Whittaker. Amateur photographer."
Kurt turned to Blaine, who smiled faintly, a sadness deep past his eyes. "I was really grateful for that article. It didn't do much to help…but it was one of the few things that tried to get people's attention about what happened. That Jude was…well…it suggested that it might have to do with Jude being gay."
"So we figured," Wes said with a smile, "that he might have been worried about us figuring out that he might be inclined the same way. We were really scared about jumping to conclusions, but I did see him staring at Logan—"
"—and you'd have to be blind not to notice that his IQ takes a steep drop whenever Logan was in the vicinity—" David added and evaded the swat Blaine tried to give him. "It's true! We saw you! You looked like you were memorizing him or something! How else did you think we guessed how crazy you were about Kurt when it happened a second time?"
"When you're into someone, you're really into someone, Blaine, I mean, wow, after Kurt agreed to be your boyfriend, you walked into a door the first day back from school," Wes leapt out of Blaine's reach as even Kurt dropped his face into his hand, turning deep scarlet.
"Anyway, the point is, we don't blame him for freaking out about us finding out he was gay," Evan chirruped "Yeah, I mean after all, you get fenced in with a whole bunch of boys, it's got to be difficult."
"—so our first thought was to make sure that he knows it's all okay," Ethan nodded.
"So you just…told him you knew?" Kurt stared. "How were you so sure?"
"Like they said," Blaine sighed deeply, as though the very memory of being the way he had been gave him pain, "…I made it kind of obvious."
He had been walking down one of the halls, heading into lunch period when he heard the voice looked up quickly and locked onto a pair of piercing green eyes. And his chest tightened considerably at the sight of them. "Oh…hey. Yeah, I'm Blaine."
Logan smiled, standing tall over him, and looking amused and curious. He extended a hand, and in all likelihood, he was sure that Blaine already knew, but said it anyway, "I'm Logan."
"I know," Blaine found himself smiling as he shook his hand.
"You do?" Logan smirked, and Blaine coughed as his ears turned red slightly. The blond boy pretended not to notice and added, "Well anyway…I heard you were new. And that the twins like you. Piece of advice—keep a nerf gun under your bed. They're notorious for ambushes."
"Yeah, I'm also told," Blaine laughed a little.
Logan only looked more amused now. After a moment, he glanced down before turning those green eyes back at Blaine. "You can let go of my hand now."
Rapidly, Blaine let go as though he was burned. "Right."
Logan looked terribly, terribly entertained by all this. The taller boy didn't say anything out loud, but Blaine was absolutely positive that there were enough signals in the air for Logan to realize that Blaine was inclined. Very inclined. The shorter boy coughed stoically and turned away, in a dire attempt to look composed, "So, uh, can I help you?"
"Just felt like introducing myself," Logan replied casually with a smile. "I got interested."
Blaine found that it took effort to swallow down his heart after that. He maintained the feigned coolness with a smile. "Did you now?" This isn't flirting, right? Man, I hope it's not. This better not be. Calm down…calm down…
"In being your friend, I mean," Logan said simply, smiling in a way that could've been a smirk at the right angle.
Blaine only trusted himself to nod once. Logan considered him for a minute and said, "Warblers are doing another performance today for the students. Thought you might want to come and watch." He began to step casually away.
"Are you—are you singing lead again?" Blaine asked—it was out of his mouth before he realized it.
"Yeah," Logan replied, giving him a light wave and walking away. "So come watch, all right?"
Blaine stared after him, a little stunned and not quite sure exactly what happened here. He stared for so long, waiting for him to vanish around the corner, that he didn't realize that he'd been caught—and probably completely seen the whole time—by the Twins, who he finally saw were waiting at the chairs in the hall where they said they would be.
Blaine's hands immediately went cold at the intrigued expression in the Twins' ice blue eyes. "Oh. You were…"
"Yeah," Evan nodded.
"Been here awhile," Ethan added.
"So, to lunch?"
"Take him," Evan said, in a way that almost made Blaine think it was a death knell. "I'll get Wes and David."
Ethan frowned a little, as though he wasn't comfortable, but nodded. "Hurry back." He took Blaine's shoulders and grinned down at him, pushing him off to the direction of the lunch room.
Blaine's mind was racing. Evan was going to tell the two Warblers and Ethan stood on guard. He thought of running, but running would make him seem guilty.
No blow of any kind came. Ethan merely took him to the doors of the lunchroom, let go of him and smiled, waiting patiently for the others, who arrived not long after. They were all talking now, and they looked completely ordinary, as though nothing was wrong.
Maybe they didn't notice after all…?
Blaine was accustomed to sitting with the boys now, and the boys were talking about their girlfriends—the Twins with their lack thereof, David about his wonderful girlfriend Katherine, and Wes recently getting together with a cheerleader from another school, named Tabitha, who David already wasn't fond of.
"I'm telling you, man, she's bad news." David looked displeased as he sat down. "She's hot, I'll give you that but…something about her just screams 'overkill'."
"Or just screams, period," Evan muttered, as he and his twin looked rattled.
"The way she lashed out at that salesgirl at the mall—" Ethan commented, shuddering.
"Look, not everyone can find a veritable saint like you did, David," Wes rolled his eyes. He sat down with them, looking irritated. "Besides, it's just a couple of dates!"
"She seems so clingy," David looked annoyed. "And she was bragging about her football team the entire time, knowing you and I are both in our school's team."
"I have a type and while Tabitha isn't precisely that type to a T, she has most of it—
"The cheerleader part of it—" David bristled.
"—and I want to give it a shot! Tired of being the third wheel around you and Katherine." Wes looked glum.
Blaine smiled to himself at the boys and their familiar distresses—he'd heard his previous schoolmates talk all around him about similar problems and Blaine really couldn't be part of this sort of conversation as he wasn't inclined. And they've never actually asked.
That changed when he sat down.
"So Blaine…" Wes began, with complete friendliness in his tone, but if one observed well enough, it was very carefully gauged, "you like anyone from this school yet?"
"Wes," David elbowed him. "Don't say that—what if he's got a boyfriend already?"
"I was just asking!"
As Blaine stared, paralyzed in shock, the Twins laughed. "He doesn't know anyone from this school yet," Ethan said. "Besides us, anyway. And you two are straight! Completely unhelpful to the poor guy, especially with mushy David as his roomie."
"Ah, we've got to get you socialized, little Rabbit," Evan shook his head at Blaine. "Or…do you have a boyfriend already?" He looked a little worried. "Because you can tell us—we'll tell other guys to back off in case they were planning on hitting on you or anything…"
They all looked curiously at him, expectant, without a single trace of malice. Blaine continued to gape at them, wide-eyed. "Are…you okay…?" David asked, concerned, inwardly wondering if they'd offended him and did jump the gun, no matter what the Twins had seen between Blaine and Logan that practically spelled it all out.
Blaine sat, stunned. This was, by far, the most alien thing he had experienced in his days at this school so far. Far stranger than the explosions, nerf guns, the stressed "Hatter", the hyperactive "Hare", the clutzy "Dormouse" and the eccentric "Tweedles", or the boy with the incredible green eyes and the glower of his own coterie of friends.
This was the strangest, the most detached from all the things he had known.
…and somehow, the most warming, welcoming thing he'd experienced since he came.
His eyes turned hot at the mists rushed up and his hands shook.
"Um…" Wes looked worried now. "Blaine?" One of the twins (Ethan? Or Evan? Did it matter?) rose and positioned himself to Blaine's opposite side, so the new boy now sat between the pair. They looked worried.
"Hey, it's okay," said one, smiling a little. "You didn't just break up with someone or anything, did you?"
"If it was his fault, we can gladly torment him some," the other said with a grin.
"The both of you," David glowered at them, but Blaine choked out a response.
"No, I'm—" he blinked away the mists and for the first time, smiled tremulously up at them all. "I'm…unattached. Haven't ever been."
"You're kidding," David said, looking genuinely surprised.
"Yeah, we've got to get you socialized," Wes grinned at him.
Blaine smiled a little more at them, and managed to laugh, shaking his head and lowering his eyes, embarrassed at tearing up over such a thing. But the Twins just laughed and both clapped him on the shoulders, shaking him a little with identical grins. "Come on!" they cheered. "Lighten up a little! Relax!"
Blaine laughed a little more and the Twins looked happier. Wes and David relaxed, relieved that it had worked and now the pressure was off the newcomer even a little bit. Blaine couldn't remember the last time he felt so grateful.
"Oh god…" he buried his face in his hands, taking a deep breath, laughing in pure relief. "I'd been scared half to death all this time, I'm surrounded by football players and school rock stars, and I wasn't sure if you guys—"
"Had it bad in your old school, huh?" David nodded sympathetically. "Don't worry about it, man. You're not the first kid to have ended up here for…sanctuary purposes."
"And even though we also have the zero-tolerance no-bullying policy, we'll be here to back you up, okay?" Wes agreed with a smile. "We're crazy, but you don't have to be scared of us."
The rest of the table agreed. Blaine just laughed again, shaking his head in disbelief. "Yeah…" He looked up at them now, and smiled, feeling as though a great weight was lifted off his chest. He dropped his head onto the table and everyone around it laughed.
"Hey, we're just glad we guessed right," David said, looking relieved. "We…we don't mean to out you, okay? We just wanted you to know that it's okay and we've got your back. We won't tell anyone else."
"It's—it's just…new to me," Blaine responded as he sat back, his heartbeat slowing to a normal rate.
"Get used to it," grinned Wes.
"How exactly, did you find out…?" Blaine asked, wondering what exactly had given him away. And he winced when the Twins began to smile.
"Logan was flirting with you, and you didn't seem all that fazed—rather pleased, actually," Evan said casually.
Ethan shrugged. "And since Logan is openly gay—"
It was a bad idea to be drinking anything at that time as Blaine choked ungracefully.
Logan? He was gay? So that was flirting, right? He's gay—he was gay! And out! Everyone knew and he was still standing among the top of the school food chain! With that one discovery, everything completely and utterly changed. So many thoughts raced to Blaine's head that he didn't notice another boy run over to their table and quickly sit down.
"Hey boys," said a familiar brunet boy breathlessly. "Sorry I'm late."
"We've barely seen you all week," frowned Wes as he looked at him, and Blaine recognized the same boy who had been so kind to him in his first day. "Even at the dorm! What have you been doing? Working on experiments with Drew and Satoru?"
"No," laughed the boy. "Told you, my esteemed parental units are in town and they want me around every eight seconds to make sure everything is copacetic. I'm not a son, I'm a personal assistant."
"Aren't we all…" David grinned.
"Oh hey!" the boy now looked happily at Blaine. "Getting used to school yet? Careful—everyone's got claws somewhere."
"Damn it, Joshua," Wes glowered at him. "We made progress with him not being so scared of us all the time!"
"Sorry…" the boy grinned.
Blaine stared at the kindly one and realized this was actually the first time he'd heard that name. "Joshua."
The boy looked at him and laughed. "Oh yeah! All this time, I haven't properly introduced myself!" With kind eyes, he smiled, extending a hand.
"Blaine Anderson," Blaine smiled, shaking it.
"Joshua Tipton," the other boy nodded.
Kurt stood staring, eyes wide and gaping at the boys.
"Tipton?" he demanded. "Tipton?"
The others looked at each other not sure if this reaction was good or bad. Blaine stared at him. "What?"
And Kurt turned heel and ran out of the hall. Blaine was startled for a moment and the others stared at him, wondering what that was all about. Blaine rushed out of the hall after him after a moment, and the others looked absolutely baffled.
"He…he didn't know?" Reed asked, a little startled. "I thought you guys told him that!"
"Of course we told him that!" Wes hissed. Then he looked confused and looked at the Twins. "…did we?"
The Twins just blinked. "Um…"
To be continued...
Next episode: As Kurt continues to unravel the story, bit by bit, Parents' Night continues to approach, inorexably. But as it is, "Alice" seems to be uncovering more than just ghosts of the past. He is finding more things in present day that seem to be red flags (calling to his attention, warning him of something) and a dread that gets echoed in the unraveling story of last year, as though reminding him that while the story starts well, it will not end as favorably.