Hi, I'm CP Coulter and I'm your author for this fic.
I think it's fitting that with such a big plot event happening this episode, quite a great deal of people show up. Like in a Marvel wedding, when a superhero gets married, everybody comes to give support appearing briefly, before it returns focus on the main people. And I think Dalton needs its sons in its darkest hour (like Sparta). Those who may have followed its creation progress might note changes in plan here and there, as it had to develop into something I can be happy to give. This include those who have seen the first part as previewed in my tumblog.
This episode may not be the grand magnificent thing that people might expect, the great episode that should rightly be here after it took so very long, but it warms me to say that I am happy with how it is, at long last. I have to thank the people who have been my support in all this, which includes my family and friends, and everyone who has ever even so much as glanced at this fic during its journey, and in the time spent preparing this episode.
I wanted to take this time to say that Siege goes out to:
Those who stayed, those who left,
Those who came back, those who moved on,
Those who have loved it, have hated it,
Those who gave it so much as a glance,
To everyone, wonderful, beautiful, who gave it even the smallest moment.
Thank you. :) You have no idea what that all that means to me. Our lives are the most precious thing we have and to choose to spend even a moment on it (a moment of loving or hating it, of neutral whattheheckisthis) is already huge, which says nothing about how gargantuan my love is for those who have kept on it. As long as I live, I won't forget, I honestly believe that. :)
I hope, as I always do, that you will enjoy this episode.
(Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. Just this odd little fic.)
Episode 28: Siege
Kurt looked up when he saw two familiar figures walking up to him. The funeral attendees were starting to drift away, some in small packs, while others lingered, talking to one another. And now, coming up to him, was someone else who he'd seen as his teacher. Mr. Schuester smiled as he came up to him, and to his surprise, Rachel was also present, clothed in a very proper black dress that Kurt dearly wished to shorn the hemline of for an instant.
"Mr. Schue?" surprised, Kurt moved away from where he was with his father, stepmother, Blaine, as well as Mrs. Anderson to go speak to his former choirmaster. "Rachel?" he blinked at her. "What are you two doing here…? I didn't see you in the church…"
"Well, Greg was a fellow choirmaster and I thought it was only right of me to come here to pay respects…especially after he looked after you in the Warblers," Mr. Schuester replied with a smile, patting Kurt's shoulder. "And, well, Rachel insisted on coming with me."
"That," she interjected immediately, giving Kurt a direct look, "is because during that Valentines' Day carnival of yours, Mr. Harvey had been very courteous to all of us and even complimented me, and he can clearly acknowledge the strength of their future competition. I mean normally we'd be accused of being spies, but he was…kind. Very kind." Rachel nodded after a thoughtful pause. "He seemed like a very good man. We hadn't known him for long, but he seemed kind."
"He was," Kurt smiled a little, glancing down for a moment before lifting his gaze back at them. "I appreciate you guys being here. Really. I—it means a lot to all of us."
"He'd been a great teacher, Kurt," Mr. Schuester replied with a nod. "That boy who gave the eulogy… It really showed what a great job he did as a teacher to all of you, not just the Warblers."
"We actually came here to see how you were doing after getting out of the hospital, too…" Rachel said, looking at Kurt with genuine concern in her brown eyes, "…and to see how you're handling all this."
"I'm…handling it." Kurt replied, sighing as he sat down on one of the carved stone benches. "There's a lot of things to think about…and we don't even know where to begin. It looks like our problems aren't over just yet."
There was a pause as Rachel glanced at Mr. Schuester and moved to where Kurt sat. She settled carefully on the bench next to him and gave him a small smile. "Yeah, we…we heard some of your schoolmates talking and the parents talking…" she gave him a questioning expression. "…Are they really going to close down your school?"
Kurt glanced at her and nodded slightly. "That's what Mr. Brightman told us…. They want us to clear our things out. We told him that considering all the stuff in there, we're not sure if it could be done, so they're talking to the parents about letting us stay one more night in the school to finish taking everything down. We wanted to be responsible taking down our dorms. They might close the school by the afternoon of tomorrow. And…and we go someplace else. Separate. All of us."
For a moment, Kurt sank his face into his hand. "All of us, we're going away. My new friends, people I lived with through all…this…" Kurt gestured absently into the cold air. "We don't even get a shot to fix it. It's just…over. They decided for us. And we're stuck with that decision. And considering the situation with Blaine and his family, I…"
Rachel reached over with a sigh and slipped an arm around his shoulders in an attempt to comfort him. "…you'll still see him, right?"
"Shane said that their mother and father want to take them both to live in California and start over. That's on the other side of the country, Rachel." Kurt pursed his lips. "And his father isn't really my biggest fan."
"And it's not just that." Kurt glanced at Rachel and shook his head. "…I'm going to have to start over again…just when I managed to get comfortable with them. All of them. …like they waited until I decided I liked them all, even the really snooty ones who you want to wish root canals to sometimes."
"You're talking about those guys from the red house, right?" Rachel grinned.
"Stuart, yes, them too." Kurt sighed, shaking his head. "They…grew on me." He rolled his eyes and he picked at a piece of lint on his deep black jacket. His eyes wandered to where the Windsors were still talking, looking distressed. In the face of separation, they stuck together, trying to find a way. "…I just feel like I'm leaving family again."
Mr. Schuester sat down with them and sighed, looking warmly at Kurt. "You've been through a really rough couple of weeks, Kurt… These things are a little beyond our control. Bad things happened and it always seems like it's the worst but you move forward. It's not like you'll lose contact with them forever; they're your friends, they'll still be there."
"It wouldn't be the same." Kurt gazed absently into the distance. "Just like it wasn't the same when I moved away from you guys and into Dalton. It's a…different atmosphere there. …Not bad, just…different."
Rachel rubbed his back a little, also looking absently at the grass. It wasn't after a long pause when she decided to say what had been on her mind. "You know…if your school is closing down, you can always…" Rachel smiled a little at him; the kind of smile that people used when they were obviously trying to help but wasn't sure if what they were going to say was really going to help, "…you can always come back to McKinley. Back with us."
And the thing was…that wasn't the first time during all this that Kurt had that thought crossing his mind. He looked at Rachel for a moment, and then looked back at Mr. Schuester, who just smiled faintly. "She makes a fair point, Kurt. You could come back to us and we could make sure that your well-being is looked out for."
"I don't think you have to worry about Karofsky," Kurt remarked with a small smile. "We…I think we've come to some kind of understanding."
"Then the offer stands," Rachel's smile broadened.
Kurt glanced at her and then looked back to the Windsors. It wasn't as though he expected to lose contact with them entirely—he knew that no one there would actually allow it, if they hadn't even let him go to Lima for break without getting invaded by their hyperactivity. But he realized that maybe he feared it. Losing contact with them. More people to detach away from. Bad things happened, and now he had to make another move. But this time, it wasn't by choice.
And then for a moment, he wondered, Is this really it…? After tonight, when we've all packed, is that it? We say our goodbyes, we separate to various places…? I'll…lose Blaine because he'll be all the way in the West Coast…? So much for our dreams of being together until we set off for Broadway and New York… I wouldn't see Wes and David—haven't even seen where they live… I'll probably actually miss those crazy Twins, but they'll probably be taken overseas…. I won't see Reed anymore, if his mother will have anything to say about it…. Dwight could adapt anywhere, there's no changing someone like that…. And then the Warblers…the people I know from here…. It's just…goodbye.
"…And after everything too." Kurt murmured.
"Excuse me?" Rachel blinked.
"Nothing." Kurt carefully began to stand. Mr. Schuester stood with him, handing him the crutch. Kurt could walk without it, but he did promise his dad that he wouldn't put all that much stress. He looked up at his former teacher with an intent blue stare. "I'll think about it, Mr. Schue. But…it's nice to know that I'll always have you guys to look out for me. That's…more than I expected out of high school."
Rachel smiled and hugged him again. Kurt allowed her, patting her back and wincing when she hugged tighter for an instant and he could feel creases on his jacket. Rachel's smile was bright and sunny as she looked up at him. "It'll be okay, right?"
Kurt just nodded. It has to be.
I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy.
Mr. Harvey is gone. It takes some accepting, still.
But I think if he was here…he'd know what to do about our problem now.
The school is closing.
And we're all not ready to let go.
"Hey Kurt!" The Windsor boys were flailing to him now, looking anxious to speak to him. "Come on!"
The "Alice" rolled his eyes. "Duty calls."
"We'll see you soon, okay Kurt?" Mr. Schuester nodded and smiled. "If you need us, you can call, okay?" and he let Kurt move back to the Windsors.
Blaine met him halfway, looking concerned, and in response Kurt shot him an I'm-fine-relax expression before turning his attention to the other boys. "What is it?"
"We have all decided to head back to the school in the Brightmans' car," Blaine replied, as if "car" was anybody's normal term for "stretch limousine." "Are you coming with us? You and Reed have a lot of stuff in there, mainly clothes. You should start early."
Kurt nodded a little. "I suppose we'll have to. Pick up a lot of clothing bags along the way."
"Mom said she'll send me a lot; I'll give you some," Reed replied with a small smile.
"Hey Alice," The Twins suddenly broke in, looking to the place where Kurt had come from. Behind him, Mr. Schuester and Rachel were standing with Ms. Medel and they all seemed to be talking. Two pairs of blue eyes grew big at Kurt. "That talking flower you were talking to earlier—what were you talking about?"
Kurt hesitated. He glanced at Blaine, who was also looking expectant. "My old teacher Mr. Schue…he and Rachel said that if Dalton was closing down, I could always go back. To…New Directions. I mean, I think it would make sense. If I did."
There was an awkward pause where they didn't look at him much, as though they weren't sure of what to say. Of course Kurt had McKinley. But of course…they wondered what this meant for the rest of them. Kurt had arrived just this year, but he was just as much—if not more—a Dalton boy as the rest of them. Especially after everything that had happened, and all they've been through together. Losing Kurt was as terrible to them as losing any of their friends, to distance, to change.
Wes and David, the first people to bring Kurt into Windsor along with Blaine, tried to find something to say and failed. Reed looked as though he wanted to say something but didn't think it was appropriate. The Twins seemed to know what they wanted to say however, because they looked at Kurt with the same unfaltering stare they gave him that same first day in Dalton Academy. The twins looked a little pleased. "Then, we're glad."
"You are?" Kurt gave them an incredulous look. For the past several months, he'd been their "Alice". He had thought that the Twins would be the second most unhappy—after Blaine—to see him go.
The Twins only smiled warmly at him. "…Because then we don't have to worry about someone taking care of you."
"We'd been wondering ever since dad said we were all going to separate…" Evan murmured.
"…About whether or not you'll be all right," Ethan continued. "You're our friend, Kurt. We don't want anything untoward to happen to you now that we can't watch over you the way we want to."
It was strange for Kurt to hear these things, and stranger still to see the small smiles on the other boys' faces that proved that they agreed. They cared about him, and they had come to really like the boy who had become their headstrong, determined Alice. He gave them a slightly confused and rather pleased look. "…Really."
Dwight shrugged a little. He still looked pale, and his eyes were red and his nose was red, but he looked composed and a bit more like his old self. "You're one of us, aren't you…? Of course we'll care."
Kurt turned when he felt Blaine staring at him. "We'll…miss you horribly," Blaine replied with a faint smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. There was something about the way he said it that made it seem as though there was even more to it than he made it seem. "…I know I'll miss you more than I could possibly…" he waved his hand like he was waving away the rest of the sentence into the wind, "…but all I care about is that you'd be somewhere safe and happy. I want good things for you and I want you happy and loved."
"You're not allowed to say goodbye to me yet," Kurt replied quietly, giving him an intent look and letting Blaine tug him a little closer. Blaine's smile grew a little as Kurt added, "It's not time for goodbyes yet."
"No matter what you choose to do…no matter where you go…in the end…you're not chasing the Rabbit. I'll always be with you. Remember, that, okay?" Blaine smiled and reached over to hug him as their friends smirked at each other and restrained themselves from their usual reaction. Blaine shot them a "don't say it" look anyway as he held Kurt, close. Kurt smiled as he kept his arms around Blaine, trying to swallow back the cold realization that not long from now, he might not be able to hold him like this again for a long time.
The Twins merely confined themselves to grinning again in Rachel's direction, saying, "We like that little flower. She's pretty and she seems sweet."
Kurt choked, releasing Blaine. "Rachel?"
"What…?" the Twins blinked back innocently. Evan added, "She's pretty and small, like a doll…" as Ethan nodded, "And she can sing…"
"And she's taken, by my stepbrother, now shush." Kurt raised his palm to them for silence, looking as though he wasn't in the mood to really hear this right now. "Should we go?" he asked instead to everyone else, while the Twins stood looking amused. "If we're going to make sure everyone is okay…and besides, I'm not sure if the so-called "Knave" has been told that we have to pack up by tonight."
Blaine nodded. "We should get going; I'll go with you."
"Rabbit, you have to come with us, though," the Twins reminded him.
"Back to the old digs. You've got a huge room to take down so you better get cracking," Han reminded him. "The theater alone's going to be a pain. Your single's got a lot of other people's stuff in it too; you want them to go rummaging through your things?"
Blaine paled at the thought of the Twins, Wes, and David ransacking his room. "No! You all stay out of my room if I'm not in it. Wait, what about Logan?" Blaine looked at Kurt with a small frown.
"I think I can handle him by myself," Kurt replied easily. "He needs to get some sense into him." He gave Blaine a reassuring expression. "I'll be fine, trust me. And apparently, nowadays you can trust him."
Blaine smiled faintly. "That wasn't what I was thinking of. …Whatever you tell him…it'll come from the both of us. I think he needs to know people care."
As Kurt nodded with a smile, Shane asked the others, "How come you don't threaten to go into Kurt's room?"
"That's different," the Twins answered calmly. "We just barely escaped death; we're not willing to look it in the face again."
Kurt gave them a withering grimace. "Ha ha. I'll see you guys back at Windsor." He let Blaine give him a kiss on the cheek, flushing only slightly. "Be good to Blaine and Charlie while I'm gone."
"One last batch of cookies, please Alice? For old time's sake? We'll help you clean out your room." The Twins looked hopeful, and the others perked up.
Kurt couldn't help but smile. "I'll think about it."
Kurt and his father had a lot to talk about as the latter drove him to the hospital at his request. It seemed clear, from what they discussed, that Burt wanted Kurt in a safer environment, and was leaning towards returning Kurt to McKinley. "If those people can't even look after the bigwigs' kids then how can I think they can look after my son?" Burt had said, still upset. "You're the most important thing in the world to me, Kurt, and I could've lost you then. I don't know what I would do if I had. I don't know if I trust these people anymore."
"I trust them," Kurt had replied carefully. "Mr. Harvey was one of them. If what he was willing to do was any indication…"
There had been an awkward pause after that.
Burt told his son that he would wait outside for him, to tell him if he was ready to go back to Dalton. Before Kurt had walked in, however, Burt looked at him through the window. "Hey, Kurt."
"Yes?" Kurt leaned back to the car, his hand on the glass of the window.
Burt gave his son a long look. Kurt remembered that this was the way his father looked at him all those years back at another funeral, during the funeral of someone so precious to them both. It was the look you gave someone when you're trying to tell them how you were the most important thing to them right now, and that because you were all that's left of that joy, you're even more precious. And people can be protective over important things, even more towards important people. "I just want you to be happy. You know that, right?"
"I know, dad," Kurt smiled back.
Burt nodded to him and Kurt stepped back watching him as he headed to the hospital parking lot. And then Kurt headed into the blast of cold air inside the hospital. For a moment, he wasn't sure where to go. If he went and asked a nurse, she might tell Mrs. Larson that he was here, but he didn't know where Julian's room even was—
"Hey. Hey, kid!"
Kurt looked up at the hissing tone. A tall woman in a crisp suit was flailing to him as surreptitiously as possible and crossing the lobby to him. Before Kurt could speak, she gestured to his uniform. "I assume you're here to see him?" she said immediately as she led him off.
"Julian, he's the only one left here," she retorted.
She wasn't particularly impolite but she seemed to be in a perpetual hurry, and wasn't very interested in him. She also did not make much of an effort to slow down so he could keep up. Annoyed, Kurt yanked off his crutch so he could walk a little more properly. She barely looked at him—more down to her Blackberry—as she added, "You shouldn't come in through the front; we're trying to avoid cameras trying to catch his visitors. Why are you in uniform? It's like a beacon."
Kurt raised an eyebrow at her and leveled a devastating blue gaze. "Our teacher got buried today."
"Oh. I'm sorry." Again. Not impolite, but not particularly like she meant it with all the sincerity it deserved. They both stepped into an elevator at least and Kurt caught his breath at last. She added, "You can join the other one who's already in there."
"I thought Ms. Larson said no visitors?" Kurt stared in surprise.
"Yes, no visitors, but you can come only while Dolce isn't here. She's out talking to doctors in LA; she doesn't like the ones here. That one that came before you had been coming all week, I let him in because it was getting a little sad to watch." She let out a small snort that almost sounded like a laugh. "Other visitors are coming anyway."
Okay, maybe not completely unlikeable, if she was willing to bend rules a little, Kurt decided as he followed her into the second floor. "Is the other visitor tall, blond, and…Abercrombie?" Kurt rolled his eyes as he remembered Mercedes' description.
The woman smirked a little as they moved through an entryway. "Logan? Yes, him."
"You know him?"
"He's always sending Julian texts along with Derek, and I've met him more than once. Of course I know him." She stopped at a long, empty hallway. She gestured Kurt on. "It's 216, but you'll know which one."
"What do you mean?"
She didn't answer because she was already tapping a message into her phone, but Kurt realized what she meant when he walked down the hall and came to 216 at the end. He thought that it was because unlike the other rooms, the shades were drawn completely.
But then he noticed that as soon as he came close enough, he could hear music. In the silence of this ward of great glass and white wall, he could hear a sound coming from the crack of the door.
And it was like ripple of déjà vu as he heard it being played in a way that he'd heard before—several months ago…. The familiar melody…a song he knew….
"I was thinking about you…thinking about me…. It was only just a dream…"
Kurt couldn't help but gently smile as he silently pushed the door open a little more and found what he sought.
Lying on the bed of the room was a still form that he hadn't seen since the fire. Lack of consciousness aside, Julian's appearance was better than what anyone had expected. There were still some bandages on him, and he had intravenous tubes going into his veins and wires going into machines that made a steady beep of a heart that was still beating.
Sitting on a couch nearby, with a keyboard set up—one he had remembered seeing in a Stuart House room—was Logan, picking lightly at the keys, looking listless and singing absently. For a moment, the music was allowed to fade as Logan stared at the black and white keys, and then he resumed playing, as though he decided to start over.
Music in the air, the deep breath before he sang sounded like an effort. "I was thinking about you, thinking about me…thinking about us, what we're gonna be, I opened my eyes…"
"It was only just a dream…" Kurt sang softly as he joined him in harmony, stepping inside. Logan lifted his eyes to him, not really surprised, and his eyes lit up just that little bit more as Kurt sat next to him. He continued to play, the two of them looking to the boy on the bed as they sang.
"I travel back down that road,
When you'll come back—no one knows;
I realized…it was only just a dream…"
Logan let the music fade again. Finally, he slipped his fingers away from the keyboard and sighed. The room became still, with nothing but the heart monitor making the steady beeping. Logan sighed softly and Kurt felt him lean against him. It made him wonder if Logan was absorbing strength from him.
"We have to stop meeting like this," Kurt murmured lightly after a moment. "I keep finding you like this."
Logan managed to crack a small smile as he gazed at the keyboard. "If my music was a cry for help, then you must be emergency services…." But his expression was sincere as he leveled a gaze to Kurt. "…I'm glad you're here."
"Blaine and I may have been more worried about you than we let on…" Kurt simply smiled again, and glanced around the room. The only sign of someone else having been in there was a very expensive jacket lying on one of the chairs. He immediately knew that it was Julian's mother's—seeing as how that jacket was inaccessible to anyone who didn't have immediate access to the latest Paris catwalks had to offer. Kurt spotted a little critter in a cage, snoozing in its little box nest inside, away from the hospital lights. "…Is…that supposed to be in a—"
"He's Julian's pet," Logan shook his head slightly.
Kurt shrugged a little and sighed, remembering the school celeb's rather prickly attitude. "Makes sense I guess." He made one more once over in the room before looking back to Logan and nudging him slightly. "…how is he?" Kurt finally asked.
Logan nodded slowly, staring, drinking the sight in, as though this was the only answer he could give. He did ask all week to look at this, and he wished Derek was here to help him process it. But he saw Derek with Casey, and he didn't want to tear him from some happiness after all his friend had been through. He did send a text telling him that he had been allowed to see Julian.
At least he had Kurt, and Kurt's presence had this way of calming him; it always had. He was just never sure if he was allowed to feel that way. "He's…he's doing a lot better. I asked the doctor who came in to peek a little earlier. They said his body is still in some shock. They think the only reason he's still asleep is because his body is trying to repair and gather strength. And…"
He paused. He looked at his hands, and he closed them into fists for a moment to stop the trembling. "…They said it was up to his mind. It was up to whatever he was thinking. If he was going to wake up or not. Ball's in his court now."
Kurt nodded slowly. Of course. It was always the mind that was important—the human will is a powerful thing. You had to will yourself back over the brink. You had to keep fighting; you had to want to keep fighting, or no medical aid in the world can help you. "He's got to want to be here. I mean, you're here. He should know that people want him here."
"I had to be here, because…I didn't want him to be alone…" Logan's voice broke at the last word, making Kurt look at him. Logan was clutching onto the last shreds of composure—Kurt saw his shoulders shaking with repressed sobs, and Logan's eyes couldn't seem to stay on the prone form across them. His eyes flicked from it, to other things in the room—any other thing in the room. "I didn't want him to think no one wanted him back. I wanted to make sure he could come back. I don't…I don't really care about what he thinks, I don't care if he doesn't want to come back—I want him to come back—because he always…" a choke—Kurt reached out to him— "…I didn't want him to be alone because the last time I left him alone—"
And then the wall dissolved. Logan broke down entirely, sinking his face into his hands and crying the way he had when he'd held Julian after the fire, begging him to wake up. "This can't be happening—this isn't happening—why is this happening?!" He didn't even sound as though he was talking to anyone but himself anymore. Kurt stared at him and tried to rub his shoulders but Logan sat up suddenly. "I can't—I can't do this here, I can't cry in front of him—"
Logan flew out the door before another word could be said. Kurt followed him, worried he would get into some kind of trouble during this hysterics; when people who've held it all in the way he had, when they suddenly break, it has to flood out—it had to drain itself out.
The two of them fled down halls, one after another, making nurses and other visitors stare. Logan didn't stop running until he found an empty side-hall—the sun shining obnoxiously bright through the windows, as though it couldn't be bothered to understand the gravity of the situation—and he threw himself against the wall and punched it before sliding down onto the ground, sobbing. Kurt immediately moved to him, holding onto his shoulders and trying to calm him down. "Logan! Logan, come on, you have to calm down—"
"I can't!" Logan practically screamed back at him before shoving his face into his hands again, completely flushed with rage and the crying. His knuckles were scarlet and Kurt inspected them, fearing he had popped open his skin again. "I can't, okay?! It's all happening all at once!"
"I know, I know, okay? I know," Kurt struggled to calm him but he was getting scared. Clearly Logan had little control over his emotions now that they all decided to happen at one go, it was too much. "Logan. Logan, please, take a breath or something, okay? Come on." He grabbed onto him trying to hold him and Logan shook with the force of his sobs as he hung onto Kurt. Kurt winced as Logan clutched tightly onto him, weeping openly.
A nurse who had seen them running had come after them and she rounded the bend and saw them. "What's going on? Are you two all right?"
"We're fine," Kurt replied shortly as he held Logan, who was practically in hysterics. "He's just worked up, we've been through a lot this past week—"
"I think maybe I should get him a sedative—"
"No!" both he and Logan practically shouted at the same time, staring at her. Logan coughed and blinked at the nurse. "No, please. Really. I'm just…uh…" he glanced at Kurt and then looked back at the nurse and just shook his head. "I just need a minute, please? Please? Leave us alone?"
"Okay…" the nurse nodded slowly, still staring at them. She looked at Kurt. "Honey, if he gets any worse—"
"Please go away, or I will make myself get worse!" Logan shot back almost desperately before Kurt could say something. "I need to be alone—"
"All right, all right, just please, you have to keep it down; there are patients here who really need rest." She gave Logan a long look and said, "Whatever it is, sweetie…it's going to be all right. Okay?"
Logan couldn't even fake looking reassured by her words; he just stared at her until she left. Kurt was sure that she was still hovering at the other hall listening when Logan sank against him and starting sobbing. "Sorry…I'm sorry, I…. What the hell was I even doing…?"
"Let it out," Kurt replied, patting his back heavily, sighing. "Come on. That's what I do when something truly crappy happens—I cry, allow some self-pity for five minutes and then pull it back together. So just…just cry, go on."
And he did. It didn't really last more than ten minutes—Logan felt as though crying about anything was beneath him, and he hated showing weakness. He hated showing weakness in front of people. But at this point, everything simply flooded out. This was something he couldn't stop anymore. He had asked to feel. And now that he felt it all…he felt as though he was going to explode. Kurt couldn't do more than keep the tide from dragging him away.
After a while, the sobs began to abate. He started to quiet down. Kurt let out his breath. Logan sank against him, and his hold on Kurt tightened. "…I'm so glad you're here…" he whispered, painfully sincere. "…I don't know what I would've done if you were…if you were like that too."
"I don't know how much help I am—you've already got a lot on your mind, from the looks of it." Kurt was certain that his presence complicated matters, considering Logan's current frame of thinking.
"Do you think he…he…" Logan whispered, struggling to make himself clear and making Kurt look at him. Logan raised bloodshot green eyes at him and Kurt stared, murmuring, "Sorry?"
"…do you think he'll forgive me?"
Kurt sat back on his heels. There it was. "Forgive you?" he asked.
Logan shook his head and leaned back against the wall, letting out his breath, calmer now than before, his breath starting to go back to normal. He closed his eyes and his lashes were matted wet. "I feel…like an idiot. And I don't know what to do."
"Welcome to puberty." Kurt leaned against the wall with a sigh next to him. "When you figure it out, tell the rest of us what to do."
"I'm the wrong person for that job." Logan shook his head, looking guilty and disgusted. He plucked out his Stuart badge with hands anxious to do something. He flung it to the opposite wall. "…I can't believe I cried in front of you. I can't believe I cried in front of him."
Kurt watched the badge clatter. "Do you seriously think he's going to take that against you?" Kurt shot him a sideways glance.
"He might." Logan stared out the window. Sunshine peeked cheerily through the trees. He thought it was appallingly inappropriate. "He'd tell me to get up and deal with it."
"Shouldn't you take his advice, then?" Kurt replied simply. "If that's what you think he'd want. You know him better than I do."
"But you knew his secret before I did," Logan looked at him intently now, questioning. "…you knew, didn't you? It's why you didn't want him to say it up at the Hall."
He knew he was going to hate the third floor of the Art Hall for the rest of his life. Kurt swallowed a little and nodded slowly, not meeting his gaze. "I did. But he didn't want me to tell you, it wasn't my secret to tell, and I don't blow other people's covers. He had the choice to tell you himself."
"He didn't have a choice when he told me," Logan replied softly. "He never had a choice."
"Sure he did." Kurt looked up and met Logan's eyes now. "…he had the choice to run and leave you…but he didn't. He chose you. If he really truly wanted to…he could've run…and he could have done it way before any of this happened. It's not his fault either…he didn't know what would happen next. But we all made our own choices." He looked to the windows as well. "Like everyone else in the world. I chose to not talk either. I chose to help him. I may not have chosen to be up in that place, but I didn't want to leave any of you up there either. …And now we have to take what we've got with our choices and make the best of it."
There was a pause, where it became so quiet that Kurt could hear the PA system of the hospital call for some doctor far away. Logan closed his hand over Kurt's, and his voice sounded so still. "…I'm sorry we got you into this. I have a feeling this wasn't exactly what you signed up for when you walked into Dalton Academy."
"Oh, I was warned," Kurt smiled faintly. Their hands together felt a little awkward, and though he squeezed it back slightly, he curled up, hugging his knees. "I was warned plenty that I was headed into something crazy." He paused and then let out his breath. "But I don't think I'd look back and say I'd do anything differently."
Logan stared at Kurt, the boy he had loved for quite a while, and wondered why he felt so tormented to remember that fact. He had told himself he would let go, and for a while, that worked less effectively than he'd wanted. It was hard not to love him, and yet to think about the fact right now was just as difficult; it made him feel guilty. Kurt couldn't be his, and it looked as though these were the same things that had gone through someone else's mind for three years.
The thought of that was the most jarring.
He sighed and looked back outside. "I don't know if I could say the same. …not right now."
Kurt got up carefully, minding his leg. Logan noted the injury and got up to help him but Kurt stood by himself, brushing his pants and sleeves off carefully. He raised his eyebrows at Logan as he handed him a handkerchief. "Here," Kurt told him, shaking the handkerchief. "Clean up a little. You didn't want to cry in front of him, so I'm assuming you want to be presentable for him too. Go on."
He said it so primly that Logan managed a small smile and took it. And when Kurt was satisfied that Logan had regained composure, the two of them headed back to Julian's room. The nurse who'd followed them was at the station they passed, and she followed them with her gaze until they had gone.
The walk back to the ward was quiet, until they ran into the same busy woman that Kurt had met. She looked up when she saw them. "I thought you'd left. Where did you two go?"
"There was a phone call—"
"I needed some coffee—"
They both spoke at the same time and looked at each other. The woman raised an eyebrow. Logan rolled his eyes. "Just—whatever, Carmen. We're headed back to the room."
"No no, wait, you can't go in there right now," she said, following them quickly, especially when Logan ignored her. Kurt felt a more normal attitude from Logan at this point and wondered if it was safe for him to be opposed. When anguish drained out, Logan had room for his temper again. Hardly promising.
"Why, is Mrs. Larson here?" Kurt asked, not wanting a showdown with the diva's mother.
"No—there're other people in there right now. His friends."
"More of us?" Kurt stared. "You mean from Stuart House?"
"Julian doesn't really have "friends" among his classmates," Logan pointed out.
"He does," Carmen replied tartly. "And…uh…not those classmates."
Logan stopped at the door and realized what she was getting at before Kurt did. He glanced at her. "Who's already in there?"
"All of them."
All of them…? Kurt wondered.
When Carmen said "all of them," she really meant it. When Logan, without heeding Carmen's entreaties, opened the door, it was hard to mistake any of them since the entertainment industry had made so much of them, and Julian, from their famous TV show.
When he walked into that door, he was met with a bleary, travel-tired expression from Alicia Thornton, a blank look from Marcie Lillian, a blazing expression of annoyance from Patrick Wilson, the grave countenance of Nathan Miller, the caught-in-the-act-of-nail-biting wide eyes of Isabel Montero, an eyeroll from Natasha Saunders, the incredulous expression from Cameron Pike, and the truly exhausted look from Clark Sawyer.
All of them. The main cast of that TV show, Something Damaged.
In Julian's room.
Kurt had the most inappropriate desire to laugh. It was like walking straight into a scene from the show. He was half-torn with the desire to laugh in amazement or the need to choke it down, indignant—because if everybody was trying to keep attention at a minimum, this had to be the single worst way of doing it.
He didn't think they'd be here. It was the strangest thing he'd ever seen, juxtaposed with the gravity of the whole event. And there it was, a room packed with celebrities likely to have Julian's own disposition, and now he and Logan added to the mix. It was sure to create disturbance in the force.
"Who are you?" Patrick asked, eyes narrowing slightly.
"I told you," Clark leapt to his feet. He knew them, of course, and moved to them. He smiled at Kurt, nodding to him. "They're his friends and classmates."
"You're the one who sent the hedgehog?" Marcie asked, gesturing to the critter in the cage by the bed.
"I thought he'd want him." Logan replied coldly. "It's his pet."
"We know," Nathan smiled faintly. "We were the ones who got it for him."
So they were Julian's friends from Tinsel Town. They all looked older than him. Kurt raised an eyebrow. From the looks they all gave him and Logan, it would appear that Julian's two sets of friends had never actually clashed until today.
"I thought this room was to be closed off for a bit?" Natasha remarked, looking the two Dalton boys over, her air that of someone who felt as though she owned the place. "We'd like some time alone with him."
Logan closed the door carefully but firmly behind Kurt without otherwise moving, and he moved in front of Kurt in a protective stance while standing before the group of celebrities. All the danger signs were showing. "No. We're not leaving."
Cameron now lifted his head to meet Logan's eyes. When he stood, Kurt stepped forward to stand next to Logan, in case Logan needed stopping—he doubted Logan would hesitate to lunge at people he considered "intruders", movie star or not.
But the leading man only stated, "And you're the one who brought the keyboard." He gestured to the keyboard at the side of the room, where they had pushed it back.
Green eyes flashed as a temper rose. "Yes, I decided I'd try to get through to him with music. Something he actually likes. It must be better than inane Hollywood chatter that you're surrounding him with."
Everyone moved the next instant; most of the male hands grabbed onto Patrick, who had immediately stepped forward, as though sure he was going to fly.
"Wait—wait!" Nathan hissed at him. Patrick glanced back at him and shrugged both him and Cameron off before he stalked to the corner of the room. Everyone exhaled. Nathan looked up to the boys at the door, and managed a small, tight smile.
"It's fine if we're all here," he told him, ignoring the dark, wordless look Cameron shot him.
So there was no love lost between either of the families, either. Kurt wasn't surprised. But he did say, "We didn't expect to find you all here either. I think the room's at critical mass."
"We're J's friends…" Isabel said absently. She was extremely pretty and without all the makeup, she looked younger. "He's like our baby brother. Not that he needs a lot of it, but we look after him."
The snort from Logan made Kurt want to kick him—he was obviously spoiling for a reason to throw the divas out and he wasn't shy about it. "Really," Logan's sneer made Kurt despair for peace. "Somehow I doubt you even knew what was going on for him back here in school."
"J doesn't even like that school," Patrick snapped, his temper also rising. He wasn't shy either; while the others simmered in their distress for their co-star, Patrick was looking for an outlet. "He never talks about it and never answers our questions about it. He looks pale and worried when he gets texts from you!"
Alicia leaned back and ate a potato chip, enjoying the proceedings in silence. She offered the bag to Kurt, who shook his head.
"He doesn't seem to enjoy your company either, since we've barely heard of you back here," Logan retorted. "How are any of you good for him? Every time he comes back, he looks tired and wasted."
Patrick jumped up. "Yeah? Then why is his mother sending him back to California with us the moment she found out that there's a chance he could be transferred out?"
That stalled the party.
"What?" Kurt stood.
Nathan closed his eyes, clearly willing some kind of self-control into the room. He opened them to look at Logan. "J's no longer considered critical and he's out of ICU. Dolce's getting her doctors in California to look after him. He's being taken out of here."
Clark looked unbelievably guilty when he added, "She understands it's risky even so, especially while he's unconscious…but she doesn't…want him here. Not anymore. And since J doesn't have a say in it…"
Kurt paled at the news. That ruined everything. Completely. Logan wasn't going to get the chance to fix anything and they would all simply lose the "Cheshire Cat"…. And if that happened, there's no telling how Logan would deal with the aftermath. He knew that even the Windsors, especially the ones who had been in the mess of it all, didn't want to see that happen, regardless of what they thought about Logan or Julian.
"You can't do that!" Logan's voice rose.
"Why not?" Cameron looked at him. His tone was even and did not accuse. He looked as though he genuinely wanted to know. "He'd get excellent care there. We can make sure he's protected. So this kind of thing doesn't happen again."
Logan opened his mouth but no sound came out. He looked at Kurt, and then back at the others. "You can't just take him!"
"And if it is dangerous if he's unconscious, you can't take that chance!" Kurt protested. He remembered when his father had been unconscious and how fragile the situation was. He wouldn't even have moved him to another room.
The group of Hollywood royals looked at each other. They all had this air around them very reminiscent of Julian's own. Cameron shook his head. "It wasn't our decision. It was his mother's. But if he's safer there…we want him there. What happened here—"
"Was an unfortunate incident," Kurt snapped, frowning. "Something none of us had any control over."
"Exactly," Natasha replied as she rose, looking tall, blonde and perfect. Out of all of them, she was the diva second to Julian. "You had absolutely no control. You can't protect J from these situations because you've never had them. But where we stay, we deal with this kind of thing every day. We've protected both Pat and Izzy before. And now we'll take care of J. In the way you…apparently can't."
Cameron and Clark shot her a disapproving look nevertheless. An angry sound was rising from Logan when Carmen peeked into the room abruptly. "Dolce's on her way back."
"Tell her we'd like to speak to her about moving him," Cameron replied immediately. He looked at Logan and Kurt, "We'll stall her. Give you more time." He then looked at the others. "Let's go. Let's give these two time with J. …it might be the last."
The group sighed and got up. One by one, they patted Julian's hand and left. Nathan picked up the hedgehog cage when he left with them. When they passed, they did not look at Kurt or Logan, carefully avoiding them, as though they had something they didn't want to catch. Irritated, Kurt reached out and gingerly took the hedgehog cage from Nathan, who smirked a little and let it go. Kurt couldn't think of a single reason why he just did that, but he placed the hedgehog back next onto the table.
It was kind Clark, who knew them through Reed, who really stopped, looking apologetic. "I'm sorry. I really am. I want him all right too, and I know he'll be sad to be away from you all. If…if I could help it, I'd let him stay. Honestly. But…maybe it's safer this way for everyone."
And he too left.
Logan stood until the door closed. And then he let out his breath and sat heavily onto the chair, burying his face into his hands. For a moment, Kurt thought he was going to cry again, but he didn't. He was simply trying to control himself against the tide of the frustration that wracked him.
Kurt sat next to him and shook his head. External forces were deciding for them now. They were like little castles under siege. Everything else was going to break in and break them apart, because they had a chink in their armors that weakened their defenses. And before they even had the chance to regroup, everything was being swallowed up by the tide.
"So it looks like…" Logan laughed hollowly, suddenly into the silence, "…he does have friends who care. It must've been easier for him to be there."
"Logan." Kurt glared at him in warning.
"Friends who would fly in from across the country to check up on him in spite of crazy schedules and media risks…"
"And apparently they can tell when something upsets him!" Logan looked at Kurt now. "Something I apparently had been blind to for three years. Do you know, Kurt, that I've sat up at night this past week actually wondering what that must've felt like? Because I can inflict some serious pain, but I can't imagine what kind of hurt that must've been like."
Kurt lowered his head for a minute, taking a deep breath to get his thoughts together. And then he met Logan's eyes again. "No, you're right. I can't tell you what that must be like. No one knows what that's like except him."
Logan blinked at him. Kurt stared at him and said, "…but I think you getting hurt like this was the last thing he wanted all this time." He made Logan look directly at him so he could understand the brunt of his words. "When he told you everything, he wanted you to run. To turn around and run and forget. It was an impossible thing to ask, but he wanted it because he didn't want to cause you this kind of pain. …it means he doesn't blame you for any of it. He never did. …So don't inflict it on yourself."
Kurt glanced away for a moment. "People think…that many times other people hurt us. And that's…true. People really know how to hit a weak spot. …but we have to look out against hurting ourselves too. You can't live like this, Logan. You did to yourself for what—a week? And now that he's going, do you really want to leave him with the thought that all he's given you after all this was hurt? Really? Really?"
He sat back again and stared hard at the figure on the bed, willing him to wake up. If he could just wake up…maybe something different would happen.
"Three years…" Logan whispered, "…of not noticing…." The tall boy heaved out a sigh. "He told me loved me, Kurt. One of my best friends of three years…and I never even knew…" He looked at the ceiling as though furiously trying to keep the tears from falling.
"How do you…" He stifled a bitter sob. "…How do you even begin to process something like that…? Did he…did he just feel this way the all the time?"
This brought a new thought. Kurt hesitated before he decided to just ask. "I wanted to ask you something, you know. You said that you realize now that he'd been helping you all this time. Helping you to get to the people you wanted to love. And that you just noticed now that he maybe had tried to give you signs of how he felt. But…" he gave him an intent look, "…did you really not notice him…? Are you sure you had absolutely no idea?"
The expression Logan gave him surprised Kurt. He looked almost afraid, as though that question was the one he hadn't wanted to be asked—it opened the door to someplace he cannot go. Kurt gave him a questioning expression, hoping very very hard that he had an explanation for that fear.
"It…it wasn't that." Logan stammered, staring at him. "No, it's not like that. I really didn't know. It'd just…I never…let myself go there."
"…To think of him like that." Logan swallowed. "Like…he and I…would be anything. He and I…at all."
"Why?" Kurt asked, a little disbelieving. "You really just wanted to be platonic?" He certainly didn't expect Logan to jump every good-looking male boy he saw—it was just that this one was clearly someone who was very dear to him, for a steady three years and counting, someone who he was willing to face down psychos for, and to be stuck in a burning building with. And Kurt thought, without vanity, considering Logan fell for him when he knew nothing about him, in a single song, it was surprising that he'd never even considered the slightest possibility of being with Julian in any way other than platonic.
"I…" Logan tried to explain, but it sounded as though he was telling himself more than anything. As though he had just realized it himself. "…Julian was…you know, he doesn't play for our team. That's what everyone knew, that was what I knew. So I put him aside for a while at first and…and when we started to get close…him, Derek and I…when we started to become really close friends… I didn't want to lose that. Kurt, you know what my life at home is like. …I was only really happy when I was with D and Jules. Everyone came and went but they didn't. …But if I'd tried anything…anything…that'd break that thing we had…like thinking of one of them like that," he shook his head. "I just never let myself go there. It…must've been a long time ago since I decided that then but…I just never. I couldn't. It meant too much to."
Kurt found himself smiling faintly. As he eased back into the couch, he asked, "…and now?"
"I don't know." Logan shook his head. He braced his arms onto his knees as he leaned forward, staring at the keyboard in front of the couch. "…I don't know. I really wish I did."
There was an instant of silence.
He said that…in music, we could take out everything we felt…
Mr. Harvey's words that Blaine had told him filtered through Kurt's thoughts. Maybe it wasn't the answer…but it makes you think. Kurt turned to Logan and said, "…so you came here to sing to him."
Kurt tugged the keyboard closer to them. "Then we'll sing. I'll sing with you a little and play… you stand over there and sing to him." Logan gaped him as he adjusted the keyboard settings, and Kurt glanced at him, giving him a raised eyebrow. "I will only do this kind of thing for Blaine, and you, so do not waste the effort. Go on. Stand there. That is what you're here for?"
There wasn't much Logan could do. "Wait…what did you want me to sing?"
"That's yours to answer…" Kurt replied in an unimpressed tone as he continued setting. "You're the one serenading him back to life, Prince Charming. I'm just singing with you."
"Very funny." The blond paused for a moment, cogitating uncomfortably as he looked torn between the boy he loved and the boy who loved him. "…well…there was something I thought I might…" He hesitated. "I mean…I don't know if it's something appropriate but I just felt…"
This was all very amusing to Kurt who had not quite seen Logan looking so defensive before. "Go on."
Logan named it. Kurt resisted a smile and so he kept his gaze onto the keyboard. He'd heard a piano arrangement of that song before, and began to play the melody. Logan nodded. Kurt resumed playing and gave him a prompting look.
And now Logan turned to the boy on the bed. He let out his breath.
Please… he begged in the silence. Listen to me for a minute…. And he began to sing.
I don't know where I'm at;
I'm standing at the back and I'm tired of waiting…
Kurt smiled as Logan walked a little closer to the bed, eyes never leaving his friend on it. He moved until he was right up to the bed.
Waiting here in line, hoping that I'll find what I've been chasing…
Kurt continued to carefully play as he lifted his own voice to join Logan's in the song, creating a harmony that brought the attention of certain people standing outside the room, who moved up to the door to listen.
I shot for the sky; I'm stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I'm gonna to fall down…
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Never know why it's coming down, down, down…
As they sang, there was a rustle at the doorway. Kurt's eyes locked onto two Dalton blazers and two red pins. Derek stood at the doorway, observing the temperament of the room. His eyes fell on Julian, and his face fell slightly. And then he lifted his gaze to Logan, and the briefest flicker of a smile appeared. He walked in without a word. Bailey was the other Stuart present, but he stood at the door. Kurt nodded to him, a little puzzled by his presence.
Logan barely noticed reached out to put his hand over the pale one on the bed. His voice rose in the way Kurt knew so well—when he meant what he sang, when he felt through the song.
Not ready to let go, 'cause then I'd never know what I could be missing…
But I'm missing way too much;
So when do I give up what I've been wishing for…
Bailey stayed by the door, listening to the song. Behind him, some of Julian's friends from LA peeked in, listening and watching. Clark, the most musically inclined of them, stepped in, looking amazed. Kurt and Logan's voices joined in harmony as the song reached its peak.
I shot for the sky; I'm stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I'm gonna to fall down…
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Never know why it's coming down, down, down…
Derek sat next to Kurt and watched Logan sing, looking as though he were trying to figure out what was going on in his friend's mind. Kurt imagined that there might not have been many instances when this happened for Derek. From his vantage point at the door, Bailey began to smile almost sadly. Logan kept a hold on the hand on the bed and he closed his eyes and Kurt supported his voice with his own.
Oh I am going down, down, down
Can't find another way around
And I don't want to hear the sound, of losing what I never found…
Logan's voice was the only one that remained, as the last strains of the song hung in the air.
Logan leaned over the boy on the bed, his hand still over his, various expressions warring on his face. And in the silence, Kurt heard him whisper, "Wake up. Wake up, Julian. …please wake up."
Kurt sighed and lowered his eyes. When Burt had been unconscious in the hospital following his heart attack…he didn't know what to do. With every fiber of his being, he wished his father would wake and look at him and tell him he was all right. Just to hear him speak again, or move, or just to squeeze his hand. Even the smallest gesture mattered at this point. When you're all each other has, every infinitesimal instant was worth waiting for with everything you had.
Even before Logan moved his gaze away, Bailey lowered his eyes sadly and shook his head when, inevitably, there was simply no response from the school celebrity. Cameron and Marcie, standing in view at the door, gave each other thoughtful expressions. For a moment, Cameron smiled as he turned away. "He seems like in good hands here for the time being. Even Dolce would realize that…"
"Mm…." Nathan murmured from nearby, checking his phone and smiling at a text from his girlfriend. He returned his gaze to Cameron and replied, "…He doesn't talk about them but…I see why he keeps coming back."
Clark turned his attention to Kurt, his stepbrother's best friend, and grinned, whispering, "I knew you guys had Warblers who could really sing…but I missed the memo on how great you guys sing even impromptu, just like this."
Kurt only shrugged demurely, but the praise clearly pleased him. Clark whispered with a smile before he rose to leave, "Thanks for looking after my brother, Kurt—and my friend."
"They're a handful…" Kurt replied softly with a small smile in return. His eyes drifted to his schoolmate on the bed and wondered if it would get through to him.
As the actors left them to their silence, it was Derek who finally got up and pulled his friend back a little. Logan relaxed slightly at his friend's gesture and allowed himself to get tugged down to sit in the couch with the rest of them. And then Derek hugged him, bewildering Kurt and Bailey.
Logan somehow managed to smile slightly, but he rolled his eyes. "…Derek, you're not allowed to hug me."
"Shut up, idiot, I'm trying to make you and me feel better," Derek grumbled.
"It feels awkward, stop." Logan grimaced, squirming away from his friend's grip, which made the athlete huffy, and punched him in the arm with just nearly enough force to bruise.
"Fine, see if I ever try to cheer you up again."
"This from you who was holding onto me and sobbing to the point that nurses wanted to give sedatives?" Kurt raised an eyebrow at Logan. "Let him hug you, I think you need it."
"Like I have a choice?" Logan grumbled in answer as Derek gave him a few pats that felt more like whacks on his back.
"…Logan?" Bailey finally looked up, fidgeting uncomfortably, not quite leaving the doorway.
The Stuart prefect raised his eyes to him. Bailey was very carefully holding out a CD. He seemed to truly be torn about what he was about to do, hesitating, but he still felt as though it was the best course of action. "…It's not mine to give…. But I…I thought…you might…want to listen to it."
For the longest time, Logan just stared. Kurt glanced at him and then got up. He walked to Bailey and took the CD from him. In Bailey's neat handwriting, it said, "Valentines Fair: Julian – Beautiful."
For a long moment, Logan stared at the CD, not really sure of what he was looking at. He looked up at Kurt, who was raising an eyebrow at him. He waved the CD. "Go on and take it."
"…It's not mine," Logan murmured, eyeing the name on it.
"Bailey wouldn't be giving this to you for no reason."
"Can you…" Bailey added hesitantly, "…listen to that when you're by yourself? I just… When that was recorded, I… it felt a little private."
"I don't understand," Logan frowned as he glanced to Bailey, who just shook his head again. "You'll know when you listen to it. I just…I've never heard him sing like that before."
"Is this…" Kurt turned elegantly on his heel to look at the Stuart at the doorway, repressing a questioning smile that was starting to rise from his lips, "Is this one of the things you recorded during the Valentines Fair? In your booth?"
"Yes." Bailey smiled a little uncomfortably.
"But it wasn't broadcast, he just…sang?" Derek asked, looking surprised.
"It was after most of the fair was being taken down…. It sounded like a secret."
"Did he know you recorded it?" Logan suddenly asked, expression darkening.
Bailey looked unsettled and guilty. "No." He hastily glanced towards the boy on the bed, and then to Logan, who looked very tense at the purported intrusion. "He…" a tentative expression on his face, "…He didn't really seem to care what I did…he just had to let it out."
There was a pause as Kurt looked down at the generic little CD with the sharpie marker label, but an instant later, it was gone from his hand and it was in Logan's. He put it away so quickly that it looked as though it were burning him. "Fine, I'll…I'll just keep it. Thanks." He trained his eyes to Kurt now, and he rose to go to him. "Will you be—I mean…are you staying…? Until they kick us all out, I mean?"
Kurt gauged the look on Logan's face at the moment. It wasn't a desperate attempt to get him to stay, but he looked as though he would really prefer him to do so. Derek sat behind Logan, and clearly he wasn't going to be unappreciated while their third friend was not conscious. It was just that Kurt felt strange being in the room while the idea of Logan and Julian had yet to resolve itself. And as much as he wanted to also make sure that the actor who was with them on the third floor would be all right, he figured time might be better spent on Logan if he was left to sort things out first.
The whole time they had been together today, Logan didn't seem to know which way to look, and he had fallen apart. If Kurt stayed, he would just get more confused. Two things would clash: The fact that it was he that Logan loved and chased for nearly as long as Kurt had been in Dalton, and perhaps Logan still did feel something for him….
…And the other fact would be that that clearly, Julian had changed the game with his forced confession, and Logan didn't know how to feel about it. And that every time he even thought about it, he still didn't know what he was doing.
That was a lot to digest, with a best friend still unconscious.
Kurt began to reply, but he heard his phone go off. No rest for the weary. He sighed and pulled it out, and saw that it was from his father:
"You all right in there?"
He let out his breath and tucked the phone back into his uniform. His eyes met Logan's, which looked expectant, and Kurt put a hand on his arm. "I have to go."
Logan released the breath he was holding and nodded. His hands dropped to his sides. "Yeah, I guess…I guess that Blaine must be looking for you by now."
Kurt shook his head. "No…. It's my dad. He has to take me back to Dalton and pack up."
Confused, Logan looked up. "Pack up?"
Perplexed, Kurt wondered if none of the Stuarts had talked about this at all. And then he realized that both Derek and Logan had been away from the school all this time—they might not be fully aware of what was going on. Inwardly, he wondered if Senator Wright had even mentioned it to him.
"Mr. Brightman told us that we were to begin packing tonight," Kurt replied. "They're…closing the school so…all our stuff has to be out by tomorrow morning. And then they're closing it down. Everyone's already headed there."
"What, like right now?" Derek sat up. "They're kicking us all out right now?"
"Board meeting's this evening," Kurt replied. "We don't have any time but now."
"They can't close our school!" Logan exploded, making Kurt check him with a disapproving stare. His voice dropped only a few decibels. "Who said—"
"The board and the alumni are talking about this tonight, or that's what Mr. Brightman told us," Kurt snapped. "Be quiet!"
"My father never—" Logan caught his breath, wide-eyed at him and he whirled around to look at Derek. "Did you—?!"
"My father didn't say anything either," Derek got to his feet, frowning. "And he wouldn't close the school! He said he liked this school back when he went!"
Legacies, Kurt remembered. Both Logan and Derek were. But then, so were the Brightmans, and it was their father who seemed to be spearheading this whole matter. Even David's father had the same inclination, although Kurt also heard that Drew's father wasn't quite as thrilled either.
"How can they do this?" Logan murmured, aghast. "What will happen to all of us?! I'm not going back to New York to be with him full time!" He gestured to some vague direction of where the Senator was presumably at.
"I guess we all…end up scattering…" Bailey murmured. Unlike them, he seemed well-informed. "It's all over." He sighed deeply, staring at the ceiling. He almost looked as though he was expecting this kind of catastrophe and was resigned to it.
There was a pause amongst the boys, and, Kurt glanced to the boy on the bed, who never stirred. And he whispered, "…I guess even if we wanted him to stay…there's nowhere to be."
The thought was entirely unwelcome for everyone in the room. A flash of color soared into Logan's face as he glanced towards Julian, and then back at Kurt with a frown. He put a hand on his shoulder. "No. There'll be a place. For all of us." He looked at Bailey and Derek. "Come on, we're going back to Dalton."
"What are we—"
"We can do what they want for now, but I'm calling my father or Michelle to see what the hell is actually going on here." Logan replied as he began taking down the keyboard. "They can't just close down the school."
Kurt smiled as he watched him for a moment, before he himself rose to his feet and headed for the door. If there was one thing John Logan Wright III was known for, it was his incredible stubbornness. And Kurt had no doubt that he was going to do exactly as he claimed. For now, he had to see to his own responsibilities back in the dorm full of despondent schoolmates packing their school life away.
Kurt was at the door when he happened to glance back, and he saw something he wondered if he ought not to have seen:
Logan's tall form was bending over the hospital bed, blond hair falling onto the face of the still form lying amidst all the apparatus. No one in the room moved, though they stared. Logan remained that way, his eyes fluttered shut as he leaned his forehead on the boy's—the boy that no one in Dalton had laid eyes upon since the night of the fire.
"…wake up, Julian…" Logan whispered without opening his eyes. "…please wake up."
Kurt watched him for a half moment long before he tore his gaze away and he fled the room, his heart pounding. He wasn't sure if he wanted to wait and see if Julian would open his eyes to respond to that quiet pleading—that strange intimate tone that Kurt was certain he had never heard from Logan before.
He had heard Logan plead to him, had heard him ask him to stay, ask to be loved by him, ask to be a friend. But that tone, the one he strangely felt more than heard, was different.
He wondered if the emotion in that voice was what melted Blaine and compelled Joshua. And Kurt wondered vaguely—in certain areas of thought within his mind that he didn't want to stray too far into—what he would do if it had been directed at him.
He assumed, as he rushed past the caucus of celebrities in the hallways who wondered where he was off to in such a hurry, that Julian would wake up.
Five Days Later…
The room looked old. It was full of carved paneling and antique bookcases containing files and the secretary seemed extremely busy, handling the madness that had gone on. Kurt tore his gaze away from the horrifying amount of paperwork she was doing—realizing at the same time that while everything had seemed alright following that ridiculous stunt of theirs, other people had to catch the rest of the work—
Kurt had never been in there before, but he was fairly certain that so many of the other boys have done so. It was likely that the scuff on the floor past the double doors were made by the doors swinging open to receive one student after another; most likely Windsors who needed some extra-strength haranguing from the man whose office had double doors that had the intimidating plaque reading "Headmaster Winters".
The doors opened. Reed stepped out, looking flushed. He kept his head ducked down, fingers anxiously running through the curls in his hair, but he smiled at them. He nodded to Kurt, before he left the office altogether, the others' gazes following him.
While Kurt was generally considered to be a "behaved" student, he had been to Dean Ramsey's enough times to make him wonder if Windsors had shared the rent in that place. However, he had never really met Headmaster Winters. In fact, he'd only seen the Headmaster in official occasions, and heard his voice over the PA system for formal announcements. He recalled glimpsing the headmaster's silver head bobbing in the crowd of the older people during the funeral of their late choirmaster, too. Other than that, it seemed like he was happy enough to remain in a vague authority figure, and in the school, he seemed to just let Ramsey run the show.
So he wasn't entirely sure what to expect, now that he was sitting there. After everything that had happened after he came back from the hospital, and that truly insane thing that he and his friends had done—
He quickly looked up, and he saw the secretary smile. The other boys sitting next to him, also waiting, looked at Kurt with wide eyes, wondering how he would fare. "Yes?"
"You can go inside now."
Kurt rose and crossed the opulent flooring towards the oak doors. He hesitated as he put his hand on the antique handle, wondering if this was really going to be alright. He tried to glance back at the other boys.
Blaine nodded, and his voice was steady, the way it had been when he spoke to Kurt five days ago at that fiasco that the boys had managed to conjure up. "It'll be alright. You always know what to say."
The smile was the same one that first welcomed him into the halls of this school. Kurt nodded, comforted by it, and he felt that familiar virtue—courage—return to him as he pushed the door open.
With the headmaster being a dark silhouette behind a wooden desk that looked like it was older than he himself was, Kurt used the time it took for his eyes to adjust to look around a moment. The shelves were full of books, and there were paintings of old men who were familiar to him by now, having seen them once before. Piled in a stack, next to the headmaster's still-moving pen as he wrote, were bound records books, that Kurt was, by now, also familiar with.
"Please sit down right there, Mr. Hummel," the headmaster spoke, his hand gesturing to the single chair before the desk. A little handycam on a stand was facing the chair.
As though he knew without even having to look up, that Kurt was staring at the camera, he said, "Don't mind the camera. It's merely for documentation." The sound of the fountain pen stopped with a flourish. The Headmaster closed the book he was writing in, and rose. When he walked closer and away from the harsh outside light, Kurt was able to see him better.
As he sat down at the lone chair, he saw that Headmaster Winters was a stately man with silvery hair, who looked as though he was well into his forties. For someone in such an opulent office, his suit merely looked neat, and comfortable, and Kurt was amused to find that its colors seemed to slightly echo the overall banner-colors of red and blue that the Dalton boys' uniforms had. As the headmaster faced Kurt, he noticed that he was tall enough to sit on his desk with shoes still touching the ground.
"Alright, Mr. Hummel." When the Headmaster smiled, his face crinkled in a comforting way. His whole demeanor made it clear—he had been a Dalton boy too. "We'll take as much time as you might need but I want you to tell me whatever comes to mind. There's no need to be formal about it. Just give me your answer to the question."
"The question?" Kurt sat as still as he could on the chair.
"Yes, of course, the reason we're all still here." Headmaster Winters smiled. "So…"
"Why do you want to be in this school?"
Kurt's image on the camera looked as though he was carefully considering that answer. But when he looked up, his eyes were clear of doubt.
"To be honest…"
Five days ago.
"You guys didn't get anything done," Kurt protested in frustration.
The group of boys that littered the area looked up as though deer caught in headlights and shot him slightly embarrassed looks, but they altogether carried on with their enjoyment.
When Kurt walked into Windsor for the first time since the fateful Parents' Night, he had fully expected that, by the hour Burt finally managed to drop him off at Dalton, the boys would've made some actual headway towards dismantling their frankly ostentatious rooms. Or perhaps at least packed their easily movable things.
The Twins' room alone housed an appalling collection of unnecessary things that included a nerf and paintball armory capable of shaming major hobby store outlets. They've proved, nevertheless, that the variety of things that they dragged into campus with them had some use at least, as Kurt recalled the landing pad that had saved their lives.
But when Kurt entered Windsor, what he found was absolute pandemonium.
It was evident from the foyer alone. One step inside and Kurt found himself in a battlefield of possessions that evidently no one owned, judging by the way everyone seemed to take no notice, walking over and around things like they weren't there. Suitcases lay popped open on the floor, sports equipment bounced down from the staircase, and there was snack food in trails heading to all directions. Textbooks covered in highlighter marks and doodles on the margins were all over the place, and notebooks were flopped facedown. The major pieces of furniture were not in their proper places—as though each nook and cranny was being ransacked for hidden treasures.
Not to mention the fact that Drew and Satoru's TARDIS was sitting in the hall surrounded by several stacks of computer paraphernalia that could only be Han's, along with several electric cars of the variety toddlers liked driving around in. A pile of paintball guns rested at the bottom of the staircase along with tubes of ammo, while the superhero costumes littered the steps themselves. And what looked like a huge, two-storey bounce castle was deflating painfully slowly from the outside, judging from what Kurt could see through the kitchen windows. The kitchen itself was bedlam, as though someone had tried to be helpful and got out cookie ingredients but simply ended up making a mess of the whole place.
And this was only the first floor.
The boys had certainly been in the contemplative stages of packing, and may have even actually applied this contemplation, but as usual, they stopped halfway due to utter distraction.
"Oh! Oh!" Reed cried from the common room where most of the culprits were piled into. He was dragging something out of a trunk. "Look, remember this?" And when he unrolled it, Kurt was certain that at some point in time, Windsor House had taken a dog of the fluffy mop-like type, rolled it in every color of paint in the world and allowed it to run amok on canvas.
Wes melted. "Oooh, I remember that! Last year, for the Pet Day!"
The Windsors in the common room degenerated into nostalgic reminiscing about various pets brought in—and Wes went off into a truly distressing story about someone bringing half a dozen piglets onto the campus grounds and subsequently setting them loose in the halls during class, "…and that was after Dwight's snake got away!"
Kurt bristled at the complete lack of attention he was receiving; it was already getting dark, and there was little to no progress in Windsor's work whatsoever.
"Hello?!" he demanded.
At his tone, Blaine looked up from his laptop—he had commandeered the sofa and was surrounded by CDs and thumb drives—and grinned. "Kurt! Kurt, come here, look at this!" He flailed wildly to his boyfriend and gestured for him to come over.
The Windsor diva raised an eyebrow at the evidently thrilled expression in Blaine's face and went over to his side to take a look. David did the same, took one look at Blaine's screen, and burst out laughing.
"Look! It's last year's Parade!" he crowed through peals of laughter. The Windsors scrambled up next to them and Kurt looked at the screen to see the Windsors flailing around a massive reproduction of the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean. They were all dressed as pirates—there had to be at least three Jack Sparrows in that group—and they looked immensely proud.
The next photo reduced most of the boys behind Kurt into hysterical giggles—what looked to be a float made out into the shape of a big griffin was now a black lump of smoldering paper maché, and some very unhappy Stuarts were surrounding it.
"We were so proud!" Wes managed a teary sniffle.
"Of that?" Kurt raised an eyebrow.
"Of the fact that we managed it by using hay, a magnifying glass, and some very obliging sunbeams."
"I had nothing to do with that!" Dwight yelled. "I'm innocent!"
Kurt shook his head as he watched Blaine scroll through the pictures. There was one particularly brilliant one of a Science Fair experiment erupting into fireworks as Windsors ran from the blast zone.
There was another photo of what looked like a play cast entirely of Windsors, with Blaine, David, Wes, and a very unwilling-looking Han dressed as Musketeers, only the first three of them were giving Han a strange look as the other boy was holding a blue lightsaber.
And then there was one particularly noteworthy photo that seemed to have a huge flock of ducks—hundreds of them—coming down one of the school lanes and it was captioned, 'Second week, Junior Year: Charlie's first rage-fit of Prefecthood.'
"So this was all that I missed before I got here…"
"To be honest, after you got here, we were actually a little more 'tame'," Blaine winked at him.
"That, I'll believe," Charlie snorted as he came in. Kurt looked up, relieved, wondering if their prefect was about to get them all moving, but to his surprise, even Charlie was not carrying luggage. He even went and booted some of the boys off the couch so he could sit with them. He was holding a thick sheaf of ring-bound paper, but said nothing about it; he merely looked at the photos. "You through all that stuff yet, Blaine?"
"Not yet," Blaine replied with a smile, and he looked at Kurt with a grin. "I'm helping Han do a data check on all these CDs and thumb drives we found lying around the house. Didn't want to throw them all out without figuring out if there was anything in them worth saving. And looks like there are."
Wes suddenly started cackling. "Hey, Chaz, here's that photo of you and Saint Justin the other upperclassmen dressed up like the Spice Gi—"
"GIVE ME THAT!" the memory stick was all but torn out of Blaine's laptop and the boys howled, trying to tackle Charlie to submission and recover that priceless piece of blackmail.
Over the din, Kurt narrowed his eyes and asked his boyfriend, "And Han couldn't have done all this…why?"
"Han's busy trying to take down and pack up his room," Blaine replied absently, clicking through some pictures of Dwight's latest birthday party. Kurt tried to not smile when he caught sight of a blurry photo of his stepbrother tossing Derek off. "I figured I could help do this, I mean you've seen what his insane room looks like…"
"I guess we all just got a little distracted," Reed piped up, looking a little embarrassed. Shane was curled up close to him on the floor, evidently making a valiant attempt to help—and failing spectacularly. He was watching, amused, as Charlie roared and stomped around the common room, with three or four boys hanging off him, still trying to fight him down. "When we started trying to pack, we came across all this stuff that we had lying around and we started remembering."
Kurt smiled faintly. He supposed that it was inevitable. The Windsor boys did live in this house, generations and generations of them, and they packed it with memories from the ground up. Now that they had to take it all down, they were bound to run into some old moments in the nooks and crannies.
Then the Twins burst into the common room, dragging out a Rock Band set that looked as though it had endured nuclear war. The conspirators crowed and leaped out of their seats, running to it and all talking at the same time.
Kurt shook his head and looked to Dwight, who, apart from his last outburst, was keeping quiet at the bay window again, and digging through a suitcase and laying out books of the type that looked like they'd be props for a Harry Potter movie. "I thought we were supposed to be packing up, not taking them out?"
"I don't know what these are," Dwight replied as he kept dusting off covers. "But I found them in the attic."
Kurt raised eyebrow at him. "And what, pray tell, were you doing in the attic?"
To which Dwight colored slightly and retorted, "I can't keep all my important instruments in my room, I need some kind of panic room!"
"You used the attic as a Hunter's panic room?"
He was ignored by the self-proclaimed spiritualist by now. Blaine sat next to Kurt again with a smile. "How did the hospital trip go? Any news?"
"His manager let us see him." Kurt sighed and shook his head. "But I think Logan and Derek didn't know about us being told to pack our stuff."
Blaine nodded and glanced out the windows, to the direction of the other houses. In the far distance was Stuart House, and there was very little movement to be seen. Blaine was a little surprised at that—Stuarts took pride in being efficient, but he supposed that not even they were willing to detach from their House as much as any of the other boys in school. There was no sign of Logan or Derek. And far off in Hanover House, Blaine was sure they were also being quiet.
Distantly, towards South and Main, a small trickle of Day students were already appearing, carrying bags stuffed with books. It must be even worse for them, who had always tried to keep out of trouble compared to the Boarding boys who looked for it openly—they were collateral damage. Unlike the boarders, they had far less to pack and bring home. But there were so few of them really moving anything. They sat around the benches with their bags and were talking, most of them.
Almost as if no one really wanted to leave the school if they could help it. Or as if they didn't know where else to go, or stay, but here.
It brought a thought to Blaine.
"…Did you tell your dad about what New Directions said?"
"I mentioned it to my dad before we left." Kurt sighed, setting down a photo of the Warblers at Sectionals. "He seemed to think that no matter what happens to the school, it was a good idea. I guess he's still pretty worked up about the incident."
"I don't really blame him…" Wes muttered from where he sat back down on the carpet, looking through what looked like old term papers. "My dad insisted on having some of his people patrol the school while we're gathering our stuff."
"That's a little overkill, I think…" Reed blinked, packing up art projects and pricking himself with a thumbtack. "Agh!" he glowered at it, mumbling to himself, before he added aloud, "Even my mom said it was okay if it's just to pack up everything. I mean the movers won't be arriving until tomorrow to help us all cart away the heavy things…"
"My dad is not the best person to define what 'overkill' is and isn't when it comes to his kids. He has two settings: off and full-auto." Wes rolled his eyes. "Well, I managed to talk him off it. But I think maybe one or two bully boys are out there incognito."
"You're a mob-lord-to-be," David reminded him pointedly, and patiently. "Isn't this normal for you?"
"We are not mobsters. …Technically. …Or full-time. Aaaargh—" Wes flopped over in surrender, even though he seemed relatively pleased that his friends have not decided to start clearing away from him thanks to his family's…business. "I just want to finish high school and college and run the restaurant chain."
"How's your mom, Dwight?" Shane asked, peering at the boy his age, who was now reclined at the end of his seat and staring out the window. The pale boy, who had seemed to steadily regain his composure following the conversation with Mr. Brightman at the funeral, was staring out the windows.
After a pause, Dwight shook his head. "I think for the most part, my mom was just glad that I was alright. She didn't even say anything about taking my salt or…my stuff." He picked at the upholstery of the seat, looking a little distant. His eyes were still red, but he did look more like his usual self than they have seen him in the past few days. "That was always a good sign…"
David patted him heavily in the back and tugged him down to sit on the floor, sending the younger boy sprawling against him and Wes, rumpling the dark hair. "Well that's good news at least…" The hunter, irritated, struggled to untangle himself from the grip of the two upperclassmen, but his weak flailing was suppressed easily.
Kurt smiled faintly and his gaze fell to Blaine again. His boyfriend reached out and cupped his hand into his, and he could tell that Blaine had something on his mind, seeing as how his eyes looked at him so intently. "What is it?"
Blaine's smile looked strained. "…nothing."
"…it's not nothing when you look at me like that." Kurt raised an eyebrow, lips almost quirking into a smile. "The last time you looked at me like that…you thought I was going to choose Logan during New Year's."
"I was just…" Blaine forced a laugh, staring at him still. That laugh didn't reach his eyes, and Kurt knew that laugh: it was another one of Blaine's armor parts falling into place. "…I was just thinking that…I'm really tired of feeling like I'm about to be without you."
Kurt stared. After a beat, he turned fully to face Blaine and frowned slightly, squeezing his hands. "You're not going to lose me."
"I know…I know that, I just…have trouble with it because of…this." Blaine gestured absently in the air, looking at the world, weary of it.
He meant having trouble with everything that had ever happened. Kurt knew that for nearly the whole time that he and Blaine had been together, every external force of nature possible had been trying to drive a wedge between them for one reason or another. Even after they themselves overcame their own miscommunication, trouble just kept coming back. And after the fire, and with the school getting closed down…it looked like the world was about to succeed in pulling them apart.
"We were safe here…" Blaine murmured, glancing around the house. "Supposed to be safe here. I was…looking forward to moving past the Parents' Night event and maybe just enjoying the fact that I was in a school and singing with the boy I love and now…" Blaine closed his eyes.
The two lead singers leaned against each other. Kurt glanced at Blaine briefly and felt the thread of anxiety and distress through him.
Blaine let out his breath in a sigh. "…we were always safe when we were in here."
"Well…in a manner of speaking," Kurt replied with a small smile.
"What do you mean?"
Kurt ignored the sound of something toppling from upstairs and the eruption of laughter from boys on the second floor. "As far as safe goes, we're about as safe as the next baseball bat into a chemistry set." He smiled a bit more.
The entire floor shook, the sound of electric crackling was just an aftershock. Smoke came pouring out of the kitchen. No one batted an eye, some even laughed.
"We ought to thank Drew and Satoru," Kurt rolled his eyes as he reached up beside the couch and handed a fire extinguisher to Drew—"Thanks, Kurt!"—who ran off. "With all the stuff they've been blowing up all year, we weren't all that fazed anymore when we heard the explosions in the Art Hall."
Blaine laughed softly in agreement, sitting a little closer to Kurt. "Just in case, though, they said they'll dial it down during the move."
He looked around at the room again, to the boys who were still squabbling over the little items scattered around. He smiled as he watched Wes and David argue with the Twins over ownership of a bust that looked remarkably like Stan Lee, and added, "It's hard to believe that in a while, we'll actually live somewhere where things don't explode at random and we don't get raided by food and coffee cups."
Kurt laughed, shaking his head. "And whatever else, too. Who knows what kind of madness has been going on in this house before we even got here."
"Considering the way we are now…?" Blaine snorted a little, nodding towards the pile of boys howling on the carpet of the common room, pelting each other with nerf bullets. "How much worse could it have been?"
"It's less a boarding house and more like a daycare," Kurt remarked bluntly.
There was a pause, as the boys continued to talk and squabble around them. They sounded worlds away. When most of them ran out of the hall for a moment to get "the rest of the gear", and heaven knew what all that was, they sounded even further away.
Kurt felt Blaine's hand close over his. It felt warm, almost feverish. And he thought, as he leaned against him, he could feel Blaine's heart beating fast. He remembered how warm his hand had been in the hall, gripping his own to keep them from being separated, and how his heart beat this way. Blaine was scared.
"I don't know how to do this," he admitted.
"Change is always difficult," Kurt agreed.
"I know but…did it have to be this kind of change…?" Blaine sighed. "…I mean, this is family."
And Kurt knew exactly what that felt like. "…it gets easier."
Blaine closed his eyes, as though he didn't want to look at people pulling bright memories out of the walls and the furniture and the mayhem. "…When?"
Kurt let out his breath. He had asked that before—had been asking that for a long time…since the very beginning. "…When indeed."
After a moment, Blaine looked at Kurt properly, as though he was working through his own thoughts. "This really strange thought came to my head when we were up there, you know. It came at the…the weirdest time, I had you wrapped with the fire blanket and we were running down the halls and I was trying to find the best way through and I thought…did I tell you that I love you?"
Kurt stared at him. Blaine laughed, a little embarrassed, looking down at their hands. "It was the strangest thing. It just popped into my head. Had I told you I love you that day? Because…because I was right there dodging fiery debris and at any minute the ceiling could cave in or the floor could fall out—"
"—and all that time!" Blaine managed a laugh that almost sounded like a sob. He shook his head, embarrassed with himself now. "All that time, I just thought…if it were to happen in the very next second…would I have told you that I love you? Would I have been able to tell…my parents, my brother…? …were any of you going through all that knowing that I've loved to you all to the last moment?"
"Well I knew."
Blaine stared. Kurt's mouth quirked into a small smile. "I knew. Of course I knew. You ran up a burning building and kicked a door in and got stabbed by that…that lunatic. Because you knew I was up there. And you didn't even want that fire blanket, you kept it around me. I mean…" he rolled his eyes, trying to sound offhand, "…as a rational human being, you had no reason to want to be anywhere in that hell."
"I'm not rational; I live in Windsor." A small smile threatened to quirk up Blaine's mouth as well.
"I knew that much, but speaking as a 'rational Windsor' myself…" Kurt smiled a little more, sighing as he closed his eyes. "…when I heard you call out my name in that fire, I thought it would've been fair to say that you came running in there for me. And that, well…is more than enough evidence of how you felt."
Kurt opened his eyes to see Blaine looking down at their linked hands, with an expression of quiet acceptance that, although not exactly one hundred percent, was enough to alleviate whatever shadows encroached in his mind that kept him from the smile Kurt knew so well. Kurt nudged him a little. "…and if you don't mind my saying, all things considered, you looked pretty hot crashing in through the doors to the rescue with Logan."
That got Blaine to burst out laughing. Kurt rolled his eyes at him, smirking a little. "That's all it takes, huh? For me to admit that you looked hot in a Die Hard kind of way? Wow, Blaine-"
"Alright, alright!" Blaine was trying to hold back the laughter, hugging him. "I didn't even know you watched Die Hard!"
"My dad did, not me. Technically. And Finn. It was bonding time and I watched it since I made them sit through a Project Runway marathon."
"Again. But seriously, afterwards dad actually subconsciously started to coordinate his outfit colors and Finn used the term 'empire waist' to describe Rachel's dress one time, so I consider that a huge success."
"God, I love you." Blaine grinned.
Wes materialized and shoved a Tupperware practically onto Blaine's nose. "Does this smell edible to you?"
Blaine withdrew immediately and choked, gasping for breath. "No?! It smells like David's football socks!"
"I heard that!"
"What is that?" Kurt coughed, waving fumes away.
"I dunno, I was hungry, and I saw it in the fridge, had a biohazard sticker."
"And you thought this was safe for consumption how?" Kurt narrowed his eyes.
Wes shrugged as David poked a spoon into it. "It tasted alright and the spoon didn't melt."
Satoru skidded to a stop at the entrance to the common. "Is that my germ culture?!"
"Why do you want to stay in this school?"
Kurt Hummel blinked calmly. "When I first came here, I wasn't sure what to expect. I think, whatever I did expect, well...it certainly wasn't what I found. I was coming here for the same reasons as some of the others did... to be safe. I heard this place was safe and it felt like the best decision at the time. It had been the best decision at the time." He seemed to consider, and then laughed softly, eyes distant. "I found it strange that I fled one home and then found another one. I didn't...well, I didn't expect that."
Reed Van Kamp blinked at the camera, puzzled. "W-well..." he cleared his throat, shifting awkwardly in his seat. "Why wouldn't I want to be here is the question, right? I've been here since I was a freshman. I wanted to be someplace away from home, because I wanted to figure myself out. Isn't that...isn't that what going here did for a lot of the boys? We all came here for different reasons but in the end, this is really where we're finding ourselves. I don't know how this school does it. Maybe it's the people in it..."
The boys came into the common room dragging even more of their things in it. Kurt resisted the urge to drag his hand down his face. This was all very counterproductive, as they were supposed to be moving things out, not in. But all the same, he admitted to himself with a sigh as he caught the portfolio of summer looks Reed tossed him, he couldn't really blame them for finding every excuse to not do their real errand.
"Hey Reed!" Blaine suddenly spoke, taking the little artist aside. "I wanted to give you something, you know. Before we all left."
"Really? Oh, Blaine, you don't have to, honestly…" Reed pinked and fidgeted awkwardly, but was nevertheless curious about the black box bag that Blaine was holding.
"There will be no wooing!" Shane materialized out of thin air, leaning into his brother's space, eyes narrowed. "Any and all wooing will be done by this Anderson right here, not you!"
Blaine splayed his hand over his brother's face and pushed it away from him. "There is no wooing, I'm just giving a goodbye present! Go away, geez!"
Reed giggled as Shane shot his brother the 'I'm watching you' hand gesture and stepped away. Blaine just laughed and shook his head. He pushed the case into Reed's hands. "Well, I thought…maybe it was just something that could help you once you're out of here. Your mom mentioned it and, well, anything that will get your mom off your back, right?"
"What do you—? Oh Blaine, no, I can't take this!" Reed had opened the case and had found a camera. Even Kurt gave a start from where he had been watching. Reed immediately flustered, knowing that anything this old came with a history. And if he remembered the photographs on Blaine's desk correctly— "Blaine, I can't take this thing, it's not…it's not mine to take!"
"The person who last owned that was one of the best artists I knew in my life," Blaine replied quietly, trying to keep Reed's flailing hands from dropping the camera, and urging him to hold onto it. "His name was Jude and he had amazing photographs. And if you ask me…I think he would've been more than happy for that camera to go to another artist, especially one trying to get into photography. I want you to keep it, Reed. It's time I let go, and for that thing to make good memories…and not stand around being a reminder of bad ones. Okay?"
Reed was flustered, hands clutching the precious camera tight. He looked frightened and unsure, and his expression was still confused as he gazed at it. "I…"
"From one of my close friends to another of my close friends," Blaine nodded. From a few steps away, Shane just smiled almost sadly and he nodded as though agreeing with his brother. "Say you'll take it, Reed. Take some amazing photos."
Staring down at the camera—and pointedly ignoring some distant mutinous grumbling from certain people talking about the likelihood of inheriting a ghost's wrath for taking their property—and glancing up at Blaine, Reed smiled a little and nodded. "…okay. Thank you, Blaine. I know how much this means to you. I'll take good care of it."
"Good luck, Reed," Blaine responded with a smile. "I know you'll do something amazing with it. Be careful with it, okay? Jude said something about the flash being on the fritz and the battery getting too hot or something."
"You didn't even check?" Reed gaped, holding the camera like it was bomb. "Is this thing functional?! What if I open the battery pack and it explodes?! Blaine!"
"Trust me, you'll be fine, Reed…" Blaine grinned and jerked his thumb to Shane, who happily ran off to go help Reed. He took Shane's spot where he was sitting next to Kurt, and smiled.
Kurt took his hand and nodded, proud of him.
"Charlie, I think this is yours," Dwight spoke up, and he held out a large blue book he had picked up, glowering at its dust-covered pages.
"I seriously doubt that I own anything that ancient," Charlie frowned back.
"It says Windsor Rulebook – Prefect's Copy! It's yours."
"Oh." Charlie reached for it as there was a nasty crack—everyone looked up to see Wes and David smashed up against the fireplace, groaning and laughing at the same time, half a huge "WARBLEROCK" banner from last year in their hands and the Twins expiring in hysterical laughter with the other half in their hands.
Reed was pouting. "We worked really hard on that, you guys!" He carefully nudged Shane's arms away from him—the younger boy had gotten all overexcited with the others and was overheating him.
The Twins were laughing too hard to speak, especially when Wes and David tried to get up and only managed to get entangled in each other, the two of them gasping for breath between laughter.
"Back to the hospital again?" Blaine smirked as Wes rubbed his head as though checking for injury from banging it too hard on the grate. The mafia heir only grinned up at him.
"Windsors are resilient!" he replied.
"With the way this house lives, I'm not surprised you all didn't just evolve into your own species. Like dinosaurs." Kurt smirked and got up, sweeping up some of the scattered music sheets in a vain attempt to find order in the chaos.
"Be careful!" Dwight protested, hustling the two older boys away from the fireplace. "I haven't gotten my stuff out of my place there yet!" He started moving his hands over the bricks.
"Your stuff?" Reed blinked, perplexed, as Charlie sat down next to Blaine, looking into the old prefect manual that Dwight just handed him.
Kurt frowned as Dwight began pulling at the bricks with his fingers, the way one usually tests for loose ones. "When they said to take the stuff at the House down, I don't think they meant the walls, Dwight."
"There's a spot here—ah!" There was the sound of scraping against mortar and a group of bricks stuck together moved a place back, leaving a neat black square of space. The Windsors watched as Dwight started taking out a little jar of salt and a bottle of holy water as well as some medallions from the space.
"Do you just have this kind of stuff all over the house?!" Wes demanded as Dwight took out a lump of white chalk.
"I am the one force standing between humans and the undead!"
"Let it go, man," David sagely patted his best friend's shoulder as Dwight dug further into his little stash and brought out what looked like pieces of crystal. "That way lies madness."
"In this house lies madness," Kurt retorted.
They looked up as Dwight, frowning, up to his elbows in the hole in the wall, said indignantly, "Have you guys been messing with my stuff again?!" He glowered pointedly at the Twins, who were trying to discreetly place a plastic teacup—with its own plastic saucer—on Charlie's fluffy head without his notice, since he was looking at the handbook so intently. The Twins smiled angelically in answer.
"What did you put here?!" Dwight demanded, tugging at something.
"We didn't put anything," the Twins replied, looking puzzled.
"Did too!" Dwight was tugging with all his might now. "What is this thing?"
Blaine sighed, "Guys, why do you do this to Dwight…?"
"Let me see." Kurt picked up a flashlight among the many scattered things in the common room. He checked to see if it was on and he moved over to where Dwight was, shining it into the gap in the wall. The two of them peeked in. "Looks like a box…" Kurt muttered. "Knowing the twins, it's probably booby-trapped. Leave it."
"We haven't done anything!" the identical boys chorused, having managed to balance a plastic teacup and a lump of sugar onto Charlie's still-oblivious head.
"I'm getting that thing out of there," Dwight snapped. "It looks old and for all I know, they've desecrated an artifact." He started tugging at it.
"Is that such a good idea?" Reed murmured, looking worried, coming closer, and Shane got up with him, grinning as he peeked in. "Oh cool!" the younger Anderson looked elated. "Like a treasure chest!"
"Maybe the Twins stuffed it in there for one of the treasure hunts and forgot about it," Blaine remarked, also peering in. The Twins threw up their hands, exasperated, but not at all looking offended—in fact, the idea that any hijinks were attributed to them instantly seemed to be somewhat of a compliment.
"Oh alright, let me help." Kurt grabbed onto Dwight. Shane carefully swatted Reed away before he could try—and possibly dislocate something in the process—and held on as well. Blaine reached out and held on from Kurt's side. "On the count of three. One…two…three!"
There was the sound of metal scraping stone and whatever Dwight had found was finally dislodged from the fireplace, throwing the group backwards. At first, Kurt feared that it was part of the building and, knowing Windsor's luck, it was going to result in the complete collapse of the House, but when Dwight dusted the debris off it, it appeared to be a metal box.
The Windsors crowded, puzzled. "What is it…?" Reed whispered, curious, as Dwight brushed the bits of stone and dust away from it.
"Looks like something for a ritual," Dwight frowned, brow furrowed in concern, as his fingers traced over the etchings all over the box.
Kurt opened his mouth to make an argument against it, but looking at the box, he realized that Dwight may be closer to the truth than he thought. It was a very old-looking box, the size of a hatbox, and it had tiny engravings all over it.
But why did it have a Windsor crest?
Charlie finally came to from where he was reading. When he looked up, the two teacups and the little saucers and the sugar lumps tumbled off his head and the Twins made a sound of dismay. Charlie, already well-drilled in the madness hanging around him at all times in this House, rose from his place and walked up to the crowding boys. "What is that?" he asked.
Blaine shook his head. "I don't know. It was in the compartment inside the fireplace."
"…we have that?" Even Charlie looked perplexed now.
The Twins nodded cheerfully. "Yeah. Like the funny little storeroom with all the baseballs behind the second floor bookcase."
The Windsors stared at the two of them. "…we have that?!"
"What, you don't know these things?!" the speaker crackled from the table as Han snorted in derision. "If you've seen this House's blueprints, it's pretty nuts; it's got all kinds of rooms and passages like it was being prepared as a war shelter—"
"Well, I'm sorry we're not spending our days unlocking the deep dark secrets of this academy—" Wes bristled at the speaker.
"Will you guys shush and help me open this thing?!" Dwight finally retorted.
David knelt next to Kurt, fascinated. "Woah…look at the initials on it."
Kurt ran his fingers over the etchings. A closer look did show that the etchings, neatly scratched in block letters, were initials. They covered the box in neat rows, with a year after each set.
"It looks pretty old…"Blaine murmured, looking over Kurt's shoulder. "And it has a Windsor crest."
There was a pause, then Charlie looked up with realization in his eyes, feeling startled. "Oh my god."
The Windsors stared at their stunned Prefect, who suddenly ran out of the common room and into the entrance hall. When he returned from rummaging amidst the chaos of the hall, he was holding a heavy book. He picked up the older book that Dwight had given him and he opened both to a marked page.
"…That better not be what I think it is," Kurt remarked.
"The Windsor Rulebook?" Reed grinned. "Yeah it is."
"What kind of a Rulebook has a siren rule anyway?" Kurt demanded.
"One that has rules on New Year's parties, paintball warfare, pastry-sharing protocol, kidnap initiations, and how Windsor deals with the universal omerta of all three Houses," Wes grinned.
Kurt sank his face into his hand, feeling a headache coming on—it was the same kind he usually got when Windsor was doing things that made no sense outside of the school.
Charlie murmured, "The old book has some different rules from the new one, but both books say the same thing in the last part of the 'Prefects Only' section. Frankly the old book's rules are kind of…nuts. Even by our standards."
"I find that hard to believe," Kurt replied.
"Well, it's more like protocol in times of battle. It calls for barricading the entire House perimeter with furniture at the event of a midnight takeover from other Houses and catapulting flaming baseballs that come from the second floor storeroom."
"…Okay, I believe it." Kurt massaged his temples, feeling ill. He tried to make his face as neutral as possible as he did it, but he was certain it wasn't working. What kind of a school is this…? He asked himself this on a nearly-daily basis, so it was rhetorical. How did it remain standing to this day…? This is not the Crusades, people—
Charlie turned both books to the same page. "For the Prefect," he read out loud to the Windsors. "Until it is time, you are not to read the end of this book. As the end of the year approaches, turn to the last page of the book and follow the instructions strictly. As prefect, it will be your honor and duty to lead the last tradition."
"And let me guess," Blaine gave their prefect a smile. "You did exactly as a Windsor does when told not to do something."
Charlie's smile was almost embarrassed as he turned to the end of the book and read, "'Since we are sure you are reading this because you didn't listen to the rule that says don't read it—'" an explosion of laughter from the Windsors, "'—keep this a secret until the time comes. As the year ends, take a select group of your seniors as your honor guard, and begin the tradition. In a loose brick in the fireplace hides our Legacy. Open it, treasure it, and find your way back to where we wait for you.'"
"It's like a scavenger hunt!" The Twins looked absolutely delighted, jumping up and down.
"Looks like this school is playing one last game with us before we all leave," Blaine smiled.
"We're galloping off to find the Holy Grail, are we?" Dwight raised an eyebrow.
"Well first thing's first, Arthur—we got to get that box open," Charlie gestured to the box.
Blaine got up, dusting his hands off his pants. "Well…that's going to take a little effort. The box is old, but the lock is new. Which means we can blame last year's boys for sealing it like this. Did they give you a key, Chaz?"
Charlie just shook his head. "We need a crowbar or something. Remind me to thank Ryan and the guys." He rolled his eyes before leveling a gaze at the Twins. "You guys are the ones good at messing with locks. Can you do something about this?"
Both twins produced a set of bolt cutters. Why they were even carrying a pair around was lost to everyone. "Let's just break the stupid thing," they declared.
"Why is your first reaction to break something—?!" Blaine demanded.
He was ignored by Windsor's terrible two—and they poised the cutters over the padlock. They shooed away danger-prone Reed—"Go stay over there before something flies at you and blinds you or something…"—who sat next to Shane, watching curiously as the twins prepared to break the lock.
Both twins placed their hands onto the handles. "Okay…in one…two…"
A metallic clang broke through the air as the lock snapped under the cutters and the Windsors winced only slightly. "There we go," Ethan grinned as Evan reached over and undid the lock pieces. Then he ceremoniously dropped the box into Charlie's hands. "S'all yours, chief."
Charlie blinked at the box in his hands. The Windsors all collectively backed away from him as though they were holding a time bomb. Whatever it is that was in that box, if Windsors had something to do with it, they had every right to question whether or not it was booby trapped.
"Charlie, you should be wearing a welding mask of some kind," Kurt warned.
"No, I've got this," Charlie winced as he very carefully began to lift the lid. "I'm prefect, I have to take…point…" He trailed away, blinking at the contents.
Silence fell in the room.
"What is it?" Reed finally whispered.
"…Paper." Charlie pulled out a thick sheaf of paper in varying degrees of age. The Windsors crept up to him as he shuffled carefully through the pages, each one with the seal of the house at the top. Below were years, followed by many, many names.
"More names," Kurt muttered, taking a couple of the papers. "Are these…?"
"…Old Windsors," Blaine murmured, looking over his shoulder. "They have to be. It's full of names of the Legacies." Somberly, he passed the papers out to the other boys, who stared as with each sheet, the list of names became older and older, with each year. The paper got yellower the further they went back, more delicate—stained with time with the ink of the pens bleeding and fading. Some were so old that the Windsors didn't want to pick them up. Blaine held on to one particular piece of gilded paper that seemed to be more like an honor roll than a record of names.
"Prefects list," Blaine muttered.
Kurt looked up and stared at the paper in Blaine's hands. Across each year were names. "Looks like they have to sign it—to say that they've put the names in every year."
Kurt ran his perfectly cared for fingernail down the list of names, and blinked in surprise when he came across one name. He laughed. "Dwight, there's someone with your name on here."
The hunter's head snapped up from where he was inspecting the papers for marks of evil sacrificial rituals. "'Scuse me?" he asked, dark eyes big.
"Well, it says Dwight Houston. The middle name is different."
Dwight crawled up to Blaine and Kurt and looked at the paper. Kurt drew a line with his nail under the name Dwight Harrisford Houston. Dwight's eyes grew as large as saucers when he saw the name and year, and a quick mental calculation later: "That's Uncle Ford! It's my uncle!"
"Wait, your uncle went here to this school—to this House—and you didn't know?" Blaine blinked. "You don't know that you're a Legacy?"
"I knew he was here at some point!" Dwight flustered. "I mean, he said he was sent here! That's how I even knew this place existed because he—but I didn't…that he was a Windsor—and prefect—but he…."
The boys stared at him in surprise. Not only was his uncle a bona fide Dalton boy, but he was a Windsor, and a Prefect. Dwight, dumbfounded, could be gibbering like that for the next half hour or so, and so Kurt continued to look down the list of names.
He grabbed Blaine's arm. "Blaine—look!"
Blaine looked down. "What?" His eyes followed to where Kurt was pointing. It was one of the more recent numbers, and Kurt was carefully pointing to one name that jumped out in neat handwriting.
Wes looked up when he felt Blaine tugging at his sleeve. He and David leaned forward as the Twins squatted down and took a peek as well.
"Whoa…." David began to grin a little.
"Gregory Harvey…." Blaine murmured with a small smile.
"He was a prefect…." Kurt felt a little surprised. "I mean, I knew he was a Windsor because of that banner during the service but he was a prefect too? Why didn't anyone say anything?"
It might not seem like much, considering how much attention the boys gave Charlie sometimes, but the fact remained that in Windsor, being a prefect still counted for something big. Although it may seem like more of a punishment than an honor, being prefect in Windsor meant you had the respect of every eccentric, hardheaded, rambunctious boy within its halls. It was still a position of power.
Charlie murmured, "Because it shouldn't matter all that much in the end. Windsors are Windsors…and we all look out for each other." He looked at the boys. "Don't we?"
The Twins just smiled knowingly to themselves as some of the Windsor boys laughed softly. If the last incident was any indication, then clearly that was true. Blaine nudged Kurt a little, beaming at him. Kurt returned the smile, remembering how even long before the fiasco that was hell night, these same boys were the ones surrounding him when he had come to this school, the same ones who stood by him when they thought he was in some kind of danger.
They were the strangest boys he knew, but they were also his friends, and they proved that time and again.
"What do you mean why?" Wes Hughes laughed hollowly, looking as though he had been prepared for the interrogation from the way he sat for the camera. But he checked himself, and sat up a little straighter when the headmaster gestured him to sit up a little. "I came here because it was safe. It was someplace I could be...I could be just me. It was good for my family, good for me…. And I felt...amazingly normal here. Because back home, sometimes…." He made that hollow laugh again and made a little strangling gesture. "Argh... you know what I mean...?"
"It's the place I always knew I'd go to," David Sullivan replied evenly, looking cool and composed, ignoring the camera and seemingly staring directly at the Headmaster. "My dad talked about this place in two moods—the times when he sounded like he was so happy to have gone, and the times when he seemed to wonder what he ever did to be sent here. I found that interesting too. I always knew I'd go here, just like Dad did. Not just for Legacy, but because...because aren't those two moods the way you talk about home sometimes...?"
The paper wasn't the only thing in the box. There was a rattle that broke them from their reverie, and Charlie withdrew a ring of keys, old and jingling as he lifted them out. "What are those for?" Wes asked, puzzled..
"Maybe there's something else," Charlie replied. "There may be more to this than just the list of Legacies. Look." He tapped a silver plate in the velvet inlay of the box.
Engraved on the plate were the words, From Dalton boys, to Dalton boys, and to the boys yet to come.
When examined closely, the silver writing on the plate matched the ones on the silver tab on the keychain. There were no words on the ornament, only a code, which said, "HDB 117".
"Well that one makes sense at least," remarked Evan, straightening up to full height with marked confidence, as his twin nodded, pointing to the silver tab.
"It does?" Kurt stared.
"HDB is the building code for the Herman Dalton Building," Ethan explained. "It's in the South and Main compound of buildings, though it's not connected to it like all the rest are."
"Yeah. South and Main's got classrooms and laboratories and offices, but there's nothing that links it up to the Herman Dalton Building. That's where you find a some of the separate staff offices, but it's also mostly used as a records annex," Evan added.
"They've memorized the school map," Han supplied helpfully from the speaker, as though he could sense Kurt's narrow-eyed expression of disbelief at the twins' remarkable knowledge of the school grounds. "It helps when you break into places and have to run away. You see, Alice, school can be a labyrinth if you don't know the way."
"I'm sure." Kurt raised an eyebrow, and then looked at the boys. Blaine stared back at him and shrugged, and turned his eyes to their prefect. Presently, all the boys now stared at the senior who was meant to be leading them all.
Charlie was looking at the prefects' list in his hand, moving down the list. He stopped near the bottom, where he knew his own name would have been if he could graduate from this school. When he looked up, he saw all eyes of the Windsors on him. "What?"
They stared expectantly back, waiting. Charlie's eyes landed on who he may have deemed the only living relatively rational being in Windsor.
Kurt only kept his eyebrow raised incredulously, completely unhelpful, and clearly not on the side of prudence. "What have we got to lose?"
Charlie sighed. He slammed the box shut. Oh what the hell. He's been good long enough. He looked at the boys. "Bring the bolt cutters."
"It's just that we've had so much progress here, you know?" Derek Seigerson tried to make himself clear, sprawled on the chair. "We keep talking about all the successful alums, the amazing SAT scores, the championships, the charities, everything this school has ever done. And yet all of that pales in comparison to what's been done to, well...the students. Some of them...actually a lot of them built themselves up again in here."
John Logan Wright III was sitting very still. His eyes never left the Headmaster. When he spoke, he was almost unnaturally calm. "...This is home. At least, for me it is. A lot of the time...it feels like Manhattan is the boarding school. I'm there but it doesn't feel...like anything. It's bad, isn't it, to say that kind of thing?" The corners of his lips quirked a little. He added, "...this place feels like home to me. I don't even know what it meant until I started to lose it."
"What the hell are all of you doing here?!" Wes demanded in a pitched tone that gave away true shock not more than fifteen minutes later.
That was the amount of time it took for the Windsors to completely drop their supposed "packing" schedule, and prepare to mount a sneak invasion to the Herman Dalton Building. (By then, Kurt and Blaine—and it seemed, their long-suffering prefect—had given up any hope of getting the Windsors to do anything).
After recruiting some Windsors to run interference against Todd Howard, the main pack of conspirators fled the building. It was still daylight, and getting to the South and Main was done in stealth mostly to not arouse any suspicion—they weren't supposed to even have any business in there whatsoever. Kurt kept his eyes to the building that was their target, and pretended he could not see very well in the distance, the closed-off fence of tarpaulins that blocked the way to the ruined Art Hall.
Upon arriving at the structure—old, brick, and strangely resolute in spite of the grave circumstances—the indefatigable Brightman Twins displayed exactly how good they are at breaking into places: it took them a grand total of thirty seconds to open the door for the others, most of which was taken up by one of the twins unlatching a window from the outside, and going from window to door.
Locating the room was a bit of a challenge. They had to break their way into a couple more dividing doors into other hallways before they finally saw the old wood of the double doors with the little brass plate engraved 117. Considering their history of breaking and entering into places they are not allowed into, the way they slip into impromptu plans of such things with the ease of practice, they had expected to get this far without much problems.
What they didn't expect was that they wouldn't be alone in their quest.
The fact was, Blaine decided as he stared at the assembled boys in the dead silent hall, was that no one was even supposed to be here. As far as the school was concerned, the boys were only supposed to be in their houses, or the South and Main for the Day students packing things up from their lockers.
In fact, he had expected that only his fleet of friends would be brazen enough to go traipsing around their still mainly off-limits school grounds, break into an administration building—the school does need better security, then, or at least Tweedle-proof ones, he thought unhappily—and prepare to unlock some student-related secret pact of Legacy.
Which meant that the presence of his ex-boyfriend leading a small detachment of Stuarts showing up in the same place was completely and entirely unexpected, bordering on the universe downright messing with Blaine at this point. This also went for the fact that Charlie's best friend—Saint Justin Bancroft of all people, honestly—had also led a small group of Hanovers into the hall. Majority of those assembled were Warblers.
Kurt, standing next to Blaine's shell-shocked expression, didn't have to look at him when he reached over with one hand and carefully closed Blaine's mouth for him.
Logan Wright crossed his arms and glared in a way that was only at twenty-percent menace. "I should be asking all of you the same thing."
"We're rather impressed, Logan," Evan grinned at the Stuart prefect, his expression suggesting that this was true. "We didn't think you or any of your boys had the guts to break into an administration building."
"Or that any of you even knew how," Ethan added with a sweet smile, leaning on his double.
"It helps when you have the keys," Derek told them with a pained smile, holding up a ring of keys. "Seriously, why go through the whole cat-burglar thing?"
"The point that Wes was trying to say," Charlie said loudly now, making them all look at him, "is what are you all doing here?"
It was Blaine who finally gestured at the box—yes, the size of a hatbox—under Logan's arm and smiled. "It looks like for the same reason we are." He walked up to the other prefect, with Kurt watching curiously. "Where did you find the Stuarts' box?"
"The rulebook said we can't tell," Logan replied with a sigh that suggested that this should've been obvious.
"Well of course you'll have a rulebook…" Kurt sighed deeply before he looked over to the familiar boys with the white and gold shields. "And so does Hanover?"
In response, Justin simply smiled and held up his own silver box. By comparison, the Hanover box seemed the best kept. It still shone. "I felt that as this may be the very last time this would be done, so I went ahead and went as planned…"
Logan snorted, mildly impressed. "You read the back of the rulebook too?"
"Doesn't everyone?" For someone supposedly a respectable Hanover, Justin looked honestly stunned that people were just not compelled to go ahead and not do what they are told, especially by crusty old rulebooks. To their credit, the other Hanovers stared at their prefect like he'd grown a second head.
Kurt finally decided that they've all tortured themselves with suspense long enough. "Evan, Ethan, could you just—open the door?"
In a swift move, Evan happily flicked the keys off Charlie—"Hey!"—and tossed the keys to Ethan's waiting hand. The twin caught them easily and he faced the double doors as the group of boys anxiously surged forward to look. Kurt walked to the door with Blaine as there was the click of the heavy bolt lock releasing.
The Twins stepped back a little to push the doors open for everyone. As the old oak moved away, the smell of ink, paper, and dust swept at the group. Kurt blinked into the darkness of what looked like a very large room with no windows.
"…Huh?" he heard Blaine murmur as he moved next to him. The two of them joined the other mystified boys as they stepped forward into the darkness. Footfalls clicked on floor, and echoed like they were in a cave. "Reed, stick by the others, I don't want you hitting—"
There was the sound of a foot catching onto something and a body hit the ground moments later. "...um...ow."
"—Anything." Blaine finished lamely. He sighed into the blackness. "Where are you, Reed?"
"I've got him!" chirruped Shane's voice.
"Of course you have, why did I ask...?"
"Ow! Spencer, that was my foot!" Justin snapped.
"I'm over here, how could I possibly—" there was the sound of a slap. "Oh god, I'm sorry—"
"Well, there goes my eye!" Thad grumbled, in pain.
"This is it," Dwight murmured despondently in the dark. "This is where I actually die. In an old cursed room in the dark with everyone tripping over every single spell in the—"
"Dwight, please—" Charlie ground out.
Only Logan could sound as truly exasperated as he did when he spoke up. "Damn it, hang on. I found the light."
Before anyone else could speak—or injure themselves—there was the loud click of a heavy switch, and the room was almost instantly flooded with light from old yellow lamps curling from the pillars. The entire room burst into illumination—Kurt had just caught his breath, the boys swarming up behind him in shock, as a stunned and almost dazzled Logan hit the next switch, and a large chandelier of the same golden color burst to life overhead.
The boys stood, in complete wonder, when they saw walls covered in images and old portraits, in glinting frames. Dozens of them, all around, some of them actual painted portraits, while others were photographs, large and small. Some of the portraits had a single person, distinguished with his own plaque, but many, many of them entire classes of boys. Tiny indicator ribbons decked each frame-in the colors of the Houses of the boys in the photos, or in Dalton's own colors.
And standing all around the entire hall, in neat varnished rows, were what looked like cubby shelves. Endless rows of shelves, separated only by a middle aisle, cordoned off in velvet rope.
Blaine stayed at Kurt's side as the two of them walked down the hall in wonder, gazing at the hall, marveling at the tarnish of age on the oldest of the shelves while the newest ones still gleamed as though recently procured. "What is this place…?" he murmured.
"Good question…" Wes remarked, looking around.
"Some kind of…archive, I think," Kurt blinked, looking at all the photographs and the shelves. "Are these all the graduates? There's no way these are all the graduates…is it?"
"Well…" Blaine moved close to one of the photographs. "There's a class photo for each House. And then a year. So I'm guessing, yeah. This is everybody."
"Haven't any of you people heard of yearbooks...?" Kurt murmured, although it lacked conviction, as he stared at the illustrious place.
The Twins suddenly crowed out in delight, making the others look up. They were near the end of the hall, at a velvet rope, and were jumping up and down in excitement, pointing to a portrait. "Look! Look! Look! Look!"
"God, they're like muppets," Charlie muttered, stalking towards them. "What is it?"
"It's great great grandpa Alfalfa!"
"Your grandfather's name is Alfalfa?" Kurt stared.
"No, that's just what they called him because he liked to eat alfalfa," Evan replied cheerfully, pointing happily at a blond man whose portrait hung heavily against the far wall.
"His full name is Oscar Thebold Brightman," Ethan added importantly, brimming with pride. "He's one of the founders of Dalton Academy."
"Excuse me?" Logan demanded.
"Wait, I thought Herman Dalton founded Dalton Academy." Derek frowned, getting up from where he had been inspecting some of the shelves near the ground.
"He did!" Evan struggled a little, climbing one of the pedestals to get a better look, even with his twin giving him a boost. Kurt rolled his eyes and yanked the blond twin back down before something very old got destroyed, and he received a pout from Ethan for his efforts. Evan continued, "But Herman Dalton didn't raise the whole place on his own. Our we-don't-know-how-many-times-great granddad Alfalfa was one of the guys who helped him put it up."
"Dad said there's been a Brightman in Dalton since the beginning!" Ethan added cheerfully. "Just like it was meant to have been!"
This is the first time Blaine was hearing of all this, and he stared at them, stunned. "Wait—what are you saying? You guys…your family owns this school?"
The twins looked at each other, puzzled, and then back at the others, looking contemplative. "…Sort…of…? We wouldn't exactly call it that..."
Kurt sighed, shaking his head. Things began to fall to place, as to why nothing ever stuck to the Brightmans and why they did everything and anything without fear. "How else would they be able to get away with half the things they do?"
He paused and looked at Blaine. "And didn't Mr. Brightman say that he of all people should've been able to better protect the school?" At Blaine's baffled expression, Kurt returned his attention to the twins. "Is it because Brightmans are responsible for this place? Mr. Brightman thinks he should've kept a better eye on the school."
"It would make sense…." Wes remarked, looking around before smirking at the Twins. "And the two of you do whatever the hell you guys want without seeming to care about getting expelled… This place must be your own personal playground."
"It's not that easy," Ethan protested, a little flustered. "Well...yes, it gives us a lot of clout, but that means next to nothing..."
"...If we do it carelessly," Evan finished. He looked at everyone. "But what dad always said was, it also means we've got to take care of this place…and the people inside it."
Which was really a very strange responsibility to put on two teenage boys, Kurt decided. But then again, on his list of Strange Things In Dalton Academy, this wouldn't make anywhere near the top ten.
Suddenly Charlie spoke up, his tone belying equal parts apprehension and amazement, "…Is that why you two ran into the Art Hall just like that? When we found it burning, you two ran in without hesitation! Did you do that because..." He let that trail away.
The twins seemed to be expecting Kurt's gaze when their "Alice" looked at them again. "It wasn't just that," Evan began.
"It's because we're all friends, right?" Ethan said, smiling a little. "...How could we have just stood there...?"
In spite of himself, Kurt smiled at them.
After a pause, Logan spoke, almost hesitantly. "…all of us?"
Blaine smiled to himself as he stepped up next to Kurt and glanced back at his ex-boyfriend who stood with a strange look on his face. He looked to the Twins, who shrugged a little.
"We'd yank out Kurt, Blaine, and Reed out of a nuclear power plant set to blow if we had to," Evan declared.
"But we go way back with you…and Julian's not completely heinous…" the grin on Ethan's face showed deep amusement, "...we guess maybe you guys grew on us too."
Logan rolled his eyes and instead occupied himself with the shelves. "What is all this...stuff anyway? Students' records?"
"I thought those would go into the archives office…" Danny spoke up, puzzled, having been helping out at the school offices and quite aware of where things went. But he had never heard of this place before.
"Easy way to find out." Charlie looked into one of the shelves and pulled a handful of paper out.
"Chaz!" Reed gasped, horrified that they were desecrating the place.
"I'm Windsor Prefect, I can do anything I want," Charlie retorted indignantly and grumbled as he sifted through the papers. "If I there's a time to abuse my power, it ought to be—" he stopped, flipping over an old photo of a young man with dark hair and horn-rimmed glasses. "Oh."
"What?" Kurt hurried up to him, curious, as the others swarmed around him.
"It's an old photo and it looks like a letter. Some old exam results…." Charlie carefully opened the folded letter.
"To the Dalton boy holding this, I want you to know… I spent most of my high school years trying to get everything perfect in everything I did. I had to do everything perfectly. I had to, because the people around me expected my focus and my outstanding grades. I lived for that alone. One day in senior year, I got an exam result that wasn't perfect—I was so concentrated on everything, I neglected to turn the paper over. I failed that exam. I want you to know—the world didn't end. Nobody laughed at me, nobody thought less of me. I spent my years thinking if I wasn't perfect, I was nothing. But I'm not nothing. I was still the same. A single failed exam didn't define me. I feel sad that I let my life revolve around this, and I missed all the things I should've been doing. All because of a few points on a piece of paper…."
With realization dawning on him, Charlie looked up, stunned. "…These are for us."
"To the Dalton boy holding this letter," Wes suddenly began from one of the other pieces of shelving, making everyone look at him. He was holding the photograph of a boy with sandy hair. "This school has been my home for the past few years, and I think that I've found my best friends here. I don't believe that I will ever have a Legacy—at the time of this writing, having gay people adopt children isn't really acceptable, but I have hope for the future—so I leave this to you. They say high school is awful for a lot of people…and it would've been for me too. But I came here, and I realized that it didn't have to be horrible. That I had friends here. That I was safe."
"Letters…." Kurt stared as boys began running around the shelves, looking at plaques of years and photographs. They dug into the shelves, pulling out treasures. "Letters left for the future." He stared in amazement as paper started flying. He realized, This place...it's like one big time capsule. But left for others to find.
There was a laugh of delight from Reed when he pulled out a letter and hundreds of paper stars fell on him. "Look at this!" he cried, delighted. He was reading in the letter in moments.
The Twins were laughing, running around tossing an old autographed baseball they found in the shelves, and they vanished into the other aisles, looking for more.
"It's memories…?" Blaine whispered as he picked up one of the letters in the shelves. "Lots and lots of memories. From everyone."
"This is what they meant..." Charlie looked amazed, looking around at everything. "The books say...every year, the Prefect and the Seniors make these letters, leave these treasures, and read some of the letters. And then, once that was done, they will take their own memories and the ones they saw in here, and give advice to the incoming freshmen. They do it every year."
"It's like..." Justin let out his breath. "It's passing on memories and knowledge. In stories or advice. From the seniors to the freshmen and on and on, until they have to leave their memories here too..." He stopped and did a double take at one shelf, and made a beeline for it as Spencer and Danny went after him.
"All this, this was done by…Dalton boys…" Kurt looked around, surprised. "From the very beginning."
"Ours are supposed to end up here too…" Blaine replied, looking at a photo of a boy with a group of friends, smiling happily at a lacrosse game. "Supposed to be. But…" his smile faltered. "I think after all this…this will all disappear. There...isn't a new generation to pass this on to."
"They can't not remember this…" Kurt frowned, almost scandalized, as he walked to one of the relatively "newer" shelves. "They have to know all of this is still in here, right…?" He put his hand into one of the shelves and pulled a photograph out. A very familiar blond boy looked back at him from the photo.
"Logan…?" Kurt whispered, stunned.
Surprised, Blaine laughed a little as he looked at the photograph in Kurt's hands. "It's him!" he looked up at the Stuart prefect, who thought he was being called.
Kurt felt confused, staring at the photograph in his hand. "But...I don't understand. No one's been in here, how would Logan..."
"What?" the Stuart prefect moved to them, sensing he was the topic of their conversation. Kurt turned to him immediately, holding out the photograph. "Logan, look. How did your picture get here?"
"That's ridiculous." Logan gave him a confused expression for a moment as he took the photo from his hand. Holding it with both hands, he stared at it, and was silent for so long that Derek looked up, sensing something amiss.
"...What?" Kurt asked, blinking at him.
There was a strange expression on Logan's face, as though he wasn't sure of how to react. There was a fight of emotions on his face, none of which he was permitting to show. When he got his voice back, he murmured, "...This...this isn't me." He loosened his hold on the picture a little, closing his eyes as though trying to believe it.
"It's not?" Blaine carefully took the photo from him and stared. But it looked absolutely like Logan: the hair, the eyes, even the same cool expression. He handed it back to Logan, who took it carefully.
"No..." Logan murmured, gazing at the photograph, swallowing. He looked at those green eyes that were just like his own, clear with youth, and it felt as though he was looking into someplace he had never thought he'd see. "...this is my father."
All the boys stopped momentarily to stare.
"That's Senator Wright?" Kurt asked, looking from Logan and back to the photograph, remembering only now that the hard man that he had seen before in the Winter Festival. The same volatile man who had been furious in the hospital, had gone to the same school as they did. And there he was. It was—and couldn't be anyone other—than Logan's father.
"Legacies…." Reed whispered his realization, looking around.
As if the word turned on a switch, boys began to run. Behind him, the Twins ran off, diving into the shelves. David had a strange expression on his face as he went to the shelves as well, looking for the right house from the same ranks that Kurt had been looking into. Derek took another glance at his best friend and surreptitiously looked at the shelves, looking as well.
"Did this…" Kurt looked up when Logan spoke again, and the taller boy's breath seemed to catch. He hesitated before continuing, "…was there anything with this…? Or was it just a photo?"
Kurt looked at him, and then carefully pulled out the rest of the papers from the shelf he looked into. "These?"
Logan gave him a long look before he tentatively took the papers from his hands. "Thank you."
Seeing the expression on Logan's face, Blaine was about to ask him if he was alright when he heard David speak, strong and clear.
"To the Dalton boy reading this…." David began, Wes looking over his shoulder with a smile. David held the photograph of a young man who he looked strikingly like, a wide smile on the boy's face. "I may not know who you are, but I'm leaving this for you. One day, you'll be my son, though. You see, if I ever have a kid, I want to send him to this school too. Not to punish him…" puzzled, he looked at Wes, who just shook his head, confused, and shrugged, "…but because I think I found friends who may be my friends for life. I want him to have those same things. I hope you have those same things too. I was alone once. It was alright for a long while and I thought it was the only way I could get through…but once I wasn't so alone, I realized that maybe letting people in wasn't such a bad idea."
David exhaled, looking at the photo, questions written all over his face and strangely touched by it. "Harry Sullivan. Dad. My dad..."
"To the Dalton boy reading this…." Dwight murmured after him, making the people around him jump. He was looking into a photograph of a young man with dark hair, who he found he looked rather alike. His voice wavered, different from his tone at the pulpit. "…I don't know if you will be my Legacy. I can hope you are, but all the same, I'm glad you found this. This is what I leave for you. They say that Hell is High School, full of monsters. That can be so true, and sometimes, not. But I think there are other monsters out there much worse than we think. Some of them are inside us. I didn't think much of this place when I first came here, but let me tell you what I do know. I've seen my share of demons, both in me and out. Guess that's why I was sent here. But what I know for a fact is…in this place, you get to find people who'll fight your demons with you." Dwight folded the letter closed, closing his eyes. "Ford Houston."
"Either of two things," Derek read from the letter in his hands, which shook in spite of his best efforts to hold it back. He kept blinking into mists. "You don't take it seriously enough, or you take it too seriously. Either extreme is bad. And I learned that the hard way. Somewhere along the middle is just about right. And I learned that here. Here's hoping I don't forget it along the way, but even if I do, I hope you don't. It's just not worth it. You just have to do what you can. To do your best. And however it turns out, you know you did right in the end. P.S. Just in case you're my Legacy, then whoever you are, I hope you know I'm proud of you. My dad hasn't told it to me enough. So I'm telling it to you. I'm proud of you." Derek closed the letter and looked down at the photo of a boy with a handsome grin, and he fought back a watery smile and had to look away. "Ernie Siegerson. Damn it, dad…"
"I am very difficult," Justin read out loud, letting out all his breath while holding the photograph of a boy wearing a family emblem on his tie-one that looked like the one he himself had not worn in a long time. "I know that very well. I've fought at every turn, got me into quite a bit of a mess back home. I didn't like choices, decisions-the hard ones. People had to do it for me, and I hated that too. The funny thing is, when I set foot in this school, I started to learn that there were some decisions too important to delegate to someone else, and some choices that I must fight for. There are just some things too important to not stand for, some things you have to do yourself, and for the right reasons. And I think you will make those right choices too. Don't let them take it from you." He smiled to himself, and ran his fingers over the writing that said 'Richard Bancroft'.
As boys around them started reading the letters, generation after generation of Legacy left behind by boys who had lived in these halls, found friends and etched memories into the walls, Blaine almost felt envious for the boys who could claim Legacy, who had fathers, uncles, brothers who had come before them.
He looked at himself, at the blazer and the tie that he had worn with no small degree of pride since that first day he came to Dalton, and smiled a little. He was a Dalton boy too. And the messages in the shelves were addressed to him as well as any of them.
"What does yours say?" Blaine asked, looking at Logan, who was staring at the letter in his hands. Compared to some of the letters, it's a novel.
"It's not mine," Logan murmured hesitantly.
"It's your dad's, isn't it?" Kurt blinked at him. "Then how could it be anyone else's?"
Logan couldn't answer.
To the Dalton boy reading this letter. They told us to write this for our Legacy. Future generations. Other Dalton boys, who could possibly be our sons too. Are you my son? If you are, maybe I should start apologizing right now. It mustn't have been easy. My dad and I don't have the easiest kind of relationship either. He's the reason I got sent here—because he doesn't like how I do things.
See, I have this terrible habit. Whenever I sense that I'm failing something, that I've done something wrong with something, especially when it's important, I'll drop it and never look back. I don't bother with things I can't do or can't fix. Or should I say, won't do and won't fix. I can only look at the things I could do that I've got no problems with. He hates that. He hates that I won't get up and fix anything I've broken in his eyes. He hates that I only do what I want to do—what I think I can do.
I guess I just don't like thinking about the fact that I've failed at something. Anything. It makes me feel ashamed? I don't know. I can't look at it. I get so angry, it won't let me do anything about it. My relationship with him is like that too. I already know I've messed it up with him. I don't want to look at it any more. It's something that can't be fixed. I tried it, and I can't. I tried really hard.
I keep telling myself right now, I don't want to be like that to my kid, if I ever have one. If you are my kid, damn, I feel sorry for you, having me as a dad. I could swear to myself right now to do my best, but I'm honest-to-God worried. I'm worried that I've given up all over again. Only you'll know the answer to that. Me standing here, I don't know. A lot of things can happen between now and when you read this.
I want you to know, though: it's not you. There's something wrong with me, and I'm fighting it like I'm fighting to breathe, and a lot of the time, I don't win, I can admit that. Anger wins. Shame wins. So it's not you.
But—and this is the important bit—whatever you do, don't give up. Giving up isn't an option for you anymore; we've robbed you of that chance. Whatever you do, God help us both, don't you dare give up. Because where I failed, I'm pretty sure you can succeed. Dad gave up on me. I gave up on him. That right there's two generations of Wrights giving up. Don't be the third one. You have to beat us both. Beat us to the ground. Third time's the charm.
See you around.
P.S. I've probably given you my name. Sorry about that. Hey, I didn't ask to get an old name like my dad's either, you know.
Kurt had watched Logan read the letter with that strange expression on his face like he's trying to breathe. But Kurt turned around when he heard a rustle from behind him. He turned around just in time to see a piece of paper falling from a shelf where it had been hastily returned, and he looked up just in time to see Blaine vanishing out the door of the huge archive room.
"Blaine…?" Stunned, he looked at the shelf that Blaine had just been standing by, reading the papers. He looked at the paper that fluttered down. It was a photograph of a young man with a kind smile, wearing a Windsor crest on his lapel, and Kurt knew immediately who he was looking at.
The young man's boyish looks had never quite faded, even when he had grown to become the music teacher that had welcomed him here in Dalton Academy.
The Twins, Evan and Ethan Brightman were smiling at the Headmaster, identical, mirroring each other, and extremely comfortable in their surroundings. Their smiles were almost abashed. "Things got boring a lot for us, you know. We didn't grow up with a whole lot of friends. We were a little strange, weren't we? The house was quiet a lot. So we made our own adventures to fill it up. In school, we found out that all the money in the world didn't buy people who would tolerate us. That they could be nice to you because of who you knew and what you had…but they can turn around and say other things, because they don't really like you.
We were the only ones we could trust. And there were so few who let us be their friends in spite of the way we were. When we were sent here, we thought dad was looking for another way to maybe keep us out of his hair. But it seemed he knew a little better…. People still found us strange, but they didn't call us freaks or unnatural. They didn't try to separate us…in fact some of them decided to let us come and play.
...How could we possibly want to leave?"
Blaine stood in the darkness of Warblers hall trying to collect his thoughts and trying to breathe. He had to, he felt like he was stifling in that room, full of the voices of boys who had passed the halls and felt hope-while right now it felt like he was drowning, floundering in the search for a direction that everyone else seems to have found.
Whenever he was looking to collect his thoughts and try to get them together, he ran to music. That was how he found himself making a beeline to the Warblers' music hall, where he always seemed to end up when he was looking for music.
He stood, looking around at the darkness that enveloped the place. All the days that had gone when the school had been untouched by a living soul left everything in the hall exactly the way they had left it.
Some music sheets rustled on a table, forgotten. A pen sat abandoned at one of the couches. Blaine swallowed and realized that this place which brought boys from all the Houses together, where they all created music, where he found friends and where they had worked so hard would be just as abandoned, closed, for good.
"To the Dalton boy reading this."
At that clear voice, Blaine looked up and saw Kurt at the door, following him in the way Alice had followed the Rabbit, smiling briefly at him before he looked back to the letter in his hand. "I think that if there is anything I want to impart on you, it's that music has been my life here at school."
Biting his lip, Blaine lowered his eyes, knowing those words; he had read them himself. Kurt continued as he read, walking to him. "Whenever something off happened to me at home—and that happened a lot—I turned up the music. I sang or I just listened and listened. Sometimes it felt like the music just sucked up all of those feelings and turned it into something else. Turned it into something beautiful, like art. It made me feel better. It helped."
Behind Kurt, drawn by the sudden disappearance of their two friends and having followed them, some boys peered in. Reed's silhouette, familiar with its curls, in the hallway light, and the Twins looking tall and alien, very curious.
As Wes poked his head in as well, David in tow, Kurt spoke again. "During my time here in Dalton, I was a member of the Warblers, and it was like I was with this family. A group of other boys who felt the same way about music. We made music, shared it, let our feelings out in it. It's good medicine, you know, for anyone. Even the ones who think choir singing is lame. The Warblers helped me, and I want to give back the favor."
More boys appeared at the door. Many of them, not even Warblers, started to come into the hall. Kurt watched them come in, wondering if they found their ways in through the same ones they did, looking for friends who had gone exploring and made the hall their hideaway.
Kurt kept walking, until he stood in front of Blaine, still reading. "Don't forget to try music if you need it. That's the only thing I can tell you that I think really works. A bunch of things can come and go…but with me, music stays. I want to be a music teacher, help other kids through music. Try to show them how much it could help. I want to them in any way I could, too, with it. That's how much I believe in it. For me…music is home. And anyone who shares music with me is family."
The hall was reaching its capacity. Out the corner of his eye, he saw Danny take the spot against the wall near Wes, and remembered that Danny would be Wes' oldest friend in school, since Hanover was his first family. The prefects wandered in as well, clearly consenting to all this, and making sure they were not seen by patrolling teachers.
"You, reading this, if you love music this way, then you're family too. I hope you find a song that will move you to tears, or a song you would want to sing to express everything you didn't know how to really say. I hope you find music that brings you closer to people, binding you together. I hope you find music that leads you to family, friends who will stand at your side. I hope you find music that blows the world away. And I hope, like me, you can share it for others to find."
He raised his eyes and smiled at Blaine. "Greg Harvey, Windsor House."
The boys who had come in smiled faintly at the words of their late choirmaster.
The room was so very still—everything had gone still. Kurt sighed and looked around the room much in the same way Blaine had done. "You know…I've never really met anyone who ever became what they wanted to be when they were younger. Like you know how kids wanted to be astronauts, or firemen or ballerinas or…fashion editor of Vogue."
He rolled his eyes and Blaine laughed softly. Kurt smiled. "Looks like at least Mr. Harvey got to be what he wanted in high school."
"Yeah…" Blaine gazed at the piano contemplatively. He walked to it quietly, putting his hands on the familiar instrument. He sighed heavily when he sat down and stared ahead as if he was in a daze.
Kurt sat with him, waiting for him to continue. He felt that Blaine had to let this out of system. With his father being the way he was, he must've seen Mr. Harvey as his father here in school. He had looked so much towards music, like Mr. Harvey did. The way the teacher had cared for the boys, it was no wonder that when Kurt had seen the way all the Warblers reacted to their teachers' passing; among those hit the hardest was Blaine.
Blaine shook his head. "…He wanted to show people music. And find family through it." The smile on his face was soft, almost bitter. "Isn't it so terrible? He was just like us. He wanted what any of us wanted. He worked hard to get it. To help."
He gestured absently to the abandoned room. "He did something about it...but now he's gone and…all of this." He closed his eyes like he didn't want to see it all disappear. "All of this will be gone with him. All the hopes he's ever had for the Warblers were as much as any of ours." He looked at the boys. "Like any one of the boys' letters in that place."
"They were all like us, you know?" David remarked as he sat down on one of the couches. "All those letters…" he sighed and let his hands drop. "The stuff they said? Those kinds of things are what a lot of us went through."
"Yeah…." Wes nodded, sitting on the arm of the couch where David sat. "Looking at all that, I remember being a Freshman here and hearing all the Seniors talk. Didn't realize that what they were saying weren't just their own experiences. They were..." he shrugged, "...they were passing it down."
Logan stepped into the darkened hall quietly, hands in his pockets. He was among the last of the boys to filter in. He didn't say anything, but he took a spot in the seats as though today was any other ordinary Warbler meeting. He sat lost in thought, and didn't acknowledge the presence of the other Warblers. As though he was the only one there.
Kurt considered him for a moment before he returned his gaze to Blaine, who covered his hands with his. "You know when I first came here, I didn't think I'd get this attached to this place. I mean…"
As he was quiet, Kurt's face was pensive, hand resting on his chin lightly. He stared at the light from the windows, and his eyes took in the color of the sky outside. Headmaster Winters waited patiently.
Finally, he murmured, "As far as I was concerned, high school was always just this stepping stone to Broadway and New York and all the rest of it. I went through enough stuff in McKinley to make secondary education lose its appeal, you know? Being thrown into lockers…getting slushies thrown at my face over and over…being picked on because I was gay, because I liked to sing, because I wore the clothes I did…."
He swallowed a little. "…And the death threat…having to live in fear just because I was different. It was just something I had to endure. I had to endure secondary education and it felt like enduring a really really long tunnel that you can't wait to see the light out of. You can't wait for things to change and just be…not here."
Another pause. From off camera, Headmaster Winters said, "And now...?"
Kurt's turned his eyes towards him. "But…being here…changed my idea of it a little."
Kurt smiled faintly. "I thought it was something I'd have to endure. And survive. Like I did in McKinley during the worst days."
"And now?" Blaine asked, smiling a little.
"Oh it's still being endured," Kurt's lips quirked into the smallest smirk, and he nodded pointedly to the Twins. "Some people would still have us endure everything."
Evan and Ethan only laughed softly from where they sat on one of the tables. They smiled as though this really was their goal. "Well…maybe we tried to make it more interesting."
Logan snorted a little in derision from his seat at that. Reed, sitting on the carpet, looked at him at the sound.
"It's not that...daunting anymore," Kurt murmured, leaning against Blaine. He looked around the room and sighed, before he closed his eyes. "...it's leaving here that's daunting now."
The Warblers looked at the room they spent so much time in. It's like if they listened hard enough, the echoes of music that fell onto these walls for generations could still sound back. Nick and Jeff began to take some of the books off the shelves—pages filled with the faces and adventures of old Warblers. The two of them smiled faintly at each other, thinking they would leave a memory like this here one day.
Blaine stared at the music sheets on the stand at the piano. In a very familiar script, someone had written, Let the boys try this one. It made Blaine smile. He thought of the days when he'd see his two choir teachers go through page after page of music sheets, taking music they thought the boys would like, and occasionally suggesting it to them. Often, they let the boys choose.
They had been working on this one. It was supposed to be part of the lineup of songs they were picking through for competition. They'd never quite gotten it as perfect as they all wanted. It felt like they never would get that chance.
"Man, we can't leave this place..." Wes whispered, making everyone look at him. He was staring at the room like he was trying to memorize it. "And I don't just mean Warblers' Hall. I mean...this school. This...stupid school."
Charlie shook his head. He sighed. "Here I thought I was gonna graduate here." He picked up a piece of paper that said, Competition soon! like it was a reminder. "Just like all those boys in that room did."
"That's what pisses me off the most, you know?" David almost sounded angry. "They were all from here. All of them! And what are they doing...? They just left."
"They graduated, David, that tends to happen," Derek remarked from the doorway.
"No!" David stood up, pacing. He passed some Hanovers on the floor, pacing. "I mean our parents! The Alumni! Nearly every guy running this school used to come from here, their faces are all over that hall, you all saw it. Their letters were in those shelves, their pictures, their...memories!"
Blaine sighed and shook his head. "And now they're all out there...agreeing to close the school down, or just about to."
"They went through everything that we did..." Reed said plaintively, putting his face in his hands. "Those letters... They sounded they were coming from a place that understood us so well..."
"What this school did for us, it did for them too, didn't it...?" Spencer muttered from where he was sitting next to Justin. The look on his face was a mixture of so many things. "It's either they forgot or...they don't care. Isn't that the worst?"
Blaine murmured softly, "This is our place. ...Sanctuary. When it felt like no one..." he glanced at Logan in spite of himself, remembering those times when they had clashed, from rage that came from well beyond whatever had happened between them, "...no one wanted us."
Kurt lifted his eyes to the blond Warbler who had been silent on the couch. As if sensing that he was being stared at, Logan met his gaze. After a moment of confusion, the taller boy frowned. When Blaine also glanced to him, Logan muttered, "Sorry, I don't feel like throwing out there every emotional turmoil I've got going. Especially when you've all been already party to my extremely colorful history."
"Logan, we're kind of not here to judge you," Kurt replied, rolling his eyes a little in spite of his own resistance. "If you haven't noticed."
"Then what are we here for? What is the point?!" Logan threw the papers in his hands onto the ground. "What is the point of all this?"
Charlie rose to try and stop him, but Justin, who knew all too well when anger was true rage, and when it was the safety valve, grabbed his wrist and held him back. The two stared at their fellow Prefect, who continued to fume.
Logan gestured around to the boys that filled the room, many of whom staring at him, aghast. "We all ran here like scared rodents because we can't take the fact that everything is falling apart!" Logan snarled. "That because in spite of everything we just saw in that creepy stupid archive hall—that in spite of whatever the stuff they wrote in those letters and left behind for us to find—they're still the ones who ended up deciding to end it all. End it for the rest of us!"
The tall boy got to his feet and threw the music sheets to the ground just because he had nothing else inanimate to take his rage out on. The Warblers stared at him, in varying degrees of confusion and curiosity. "I thought maybe, just an off-chance, really, they weren't stupid enough to think that this was all something they could sweep under the rug like it didn't mean anything. Just because they seem to have chosen to overlook that fact, doesn't mean they have to take it out on the rest of us like they always do and—"
He stopped. He had to stop to catch his breath and by then, Blaine had sighed and gotten up, standing behind him. Although every Stuart Warbler informed Blaine with their unsettled gazes that they didn't think it was a very good idea, Blaine nevertheless carefully put a hand between Logan's shoulder blades.
Kurt watched as that one action seemed to cause Logan to drain immediately, the tension flooding out of his shoulders. The taller boy exhaled harshly and pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose, looking frustrated. "...God, I don't even know why the hell I'm so angry right now," he muttered under his breath, sounding almost plaintive under the tension.
The sudden diffusion seemed to almost make some of the Warblers smile sadly.
"I didn't even use to like this place," Logan added, falling back down into his seat next to Derek and rubbing his face with his hands; Blaine patted his shoulder a little before he walked on back towards where Kurt sat.
Kurt glanced back up at him with a small smile. "Well, I think we've all gone to depend on this place more than we'd all like to care to admit."
"Because it was safe here." The sudden remark from Dwight made them stare. He was looking at the wall like it was the most interesting thing in the world, and when he had spoken, it sounded like he was talking to himself. "We were all...supposed to be safe here. It's why some of the guys came...for sanctuary. It wasn't just the zero-tolerance policy. Something else. I don't know what it is."
His dark eyes met Kurt's, and the older boy looked away as though Dwight had pointed him out in particular. He knew precisely what Dwight meant. He did come here for the policy. A lot of them did—not just him and Blaine, and their histories that nearly everyone knew about at that point. There were many who came here, for one reason or another, seeking sanctuary. But they stayed for something else. Something that all the other boys understood.
Something that bridged all the boys together from House to House, making up a small world that they had come to depend on. Kurt closed his hand over Blaine's on the piano bench, unseen. Blaine squeezed it back, and Kurt couldn't tell if he was taking warmth or imparting it to him. When he saw Reed close his eyes and fold over to lean on his own knees, Kurt thought he could feel that bridge starting to crumble around them.
There was a sudden sob that made them all look up.
Danny was pressed against the wall near the window, almost invisible in the dark, and his hands were covering his mouth, as though he had tried with all his might to have not let out that sound. Nick and Jeff were near him, clearly having noticed him first and had been trying to help him. Before any of the others could ask, Danny tried to speak but all that came out was another strangled sob—his eyes were scarlet, tears streaming down his face.
Wes leaped to his feet—he was rushing over just as Danny finally managed to speak.
"I…." Danny's first word came out as a cough, his face crumpled in misery. "...This place is…." He took a broken breath and Wes had his arm around him, trying to calm him. None of the Warblers in that room except for the Wes had ever seen Danny look like that.
Kurt made to rise from his chair, but Wes shot him a look and shook his head, whispering, "No," and a little more firmly, "no."
Danny tried to cover his flushed face with his hands and his voice cracked. "...They'll send me back home… I don't want to go back there…I don't, please, I—there's nothing left there…. My parents don't even—they don't even want me, they don't even ever think about—" he took a gasp. "This the only place I ever—"
"Danny, stop," Wes begged, trying to get his old roommate to start breathing properly again. His hands trembled, finely, less obviously than Danny's. "Danny, come on man, you have to breathe."
Dissolving into sobs, Danny shook his head. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do this, I wasn't supposed to cry, I just—" He raised his bloodshot, streaming green eyes, haunted in the dim light, desperate, to all the boys in the room who stared at him.
"...I'm not anyone's important son."
Logan blinked and Spencer raised his eyes as Justin shook his head.
"I'm not going to be valedictorian or even close."
David tried to say something, but lost his words at the last minute.
"I'm not captain of a team."
Derek lowered his eyes.
"I'm not even a lead singer…or a person who came here to start somewhere new and better, or both."
Blaine and Kurt glanced at each other.
"...And I am not Legacy. I'm in this school because...because it was convenient to be near and far enough to keep me out of the way—"
"Danny," Wes grasped his arms, staring.
Danny locked eyes with each of the boys as he swallowed. "But this is the only place I can...I feel home…" He squeezed his eyes shut, leaning against Wes. "Please...please tell me this isn't the end. Because...there is literally nowhere else. I want to believe there is. But right now...there's just nowhere else safe."
Silence fell again, heavier than before.
"Oh fuck it." Justin tore away from where he was and went over to him. When he looked to the others, he looked more to the Warblers, the paragons, the ones everyone looked up to and believed in more often than they did even prefects. "Is this it, boys?" he asked as he squeezed Danny's shoulder. "Is he right? Because...because this isn't how I ever thought we'd…"
The Warblers, the Dalton boys, they looked disgusted. As though unable to believe this was even happening, and how helpless they all were at last. That in the face of everything, in spite of all their posturing, everything they have done...it would be all over at the signing of a paper happening somewhere out there tonight.
And after that, the safe haven was gone.
"...This place was supposed to be safe." Kurt breathed, feeling cold, arms wrapped around himself and clearly seeing so much in the hall beyond what the first gaze would present. It was supposed to be safe. The first day he set foot in this very room...was one of the first times he had felt safe for quite awhile.
The way Blaine gazed at the keys of the piano suggested that he might have wanted to press a few of them, but couldn't bring himself to. "Makes you think, doesn't it? ...About how many boys actually found a safe place here." He glanced to the others, who studied him as though waiting. "We were lucky enough to have found it. ...I know not very many people manage to. Find a place I mean, where they felt..." and he rested his hands on the ivory. "…safe."
He lifted his eyes, saw Kurt watching him, as though in silent approval.
In times so grave, they still had music. The one thing Mr. Harvey had always told them to look to, to soothe them, to guide them. To help them survive the siege that raged around them.
Kurt reached out and touched his hand. Blaine met his eyes and nodded to the sheets on the stand. Logan watched them shift, as Blaine made space, and allowed Kurt to play.
When Kurt pressed the first key, all the Warblers looked up, called by the sound that rippled through the room. All eyes remained on the two boys who had, for so long, been two of their most driven members, lead singers, and most of all, closest friends.
Kurt played a some notes, so reminiscent of the way Ms. Medel does it, to let them know, and as recollection dawned on each boy, Blaine began to sing.
I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand...
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete...
At the second line, the Warblers began to join him. Some got up and moved closer, drawn to the sound. Others remained where they sat, but all eyes remained on the two boys at the piano.
The song began to rise, and all the Dalton boys, who had been in the hallways, those who weren't Warblers—they crept a little further into the room, drawn to the sound of the boys whose music seemed to always shut down the whole school.
Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on...
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin...
"Hurry…" came Satoru's soft whisper, barely even a sound, into a small microphone. He pulled the wire closer to his friend Drew, who was singing. Drew nodded with a small smile, keeping it closer to the Warblers.
And from where he was sitting, back in Windsor, Han's hands flew over his keyboard, and he swiped at the touchscreen of his monitors, light glinting off his glasses.
There was the almost audible hum of a connection being made. Power came on through the PA system, all throughout the school. One sound reigned through the somber murmuring in Dalton Academy: The Warblers.
I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?
Heads looked up from everywhere they were. Windsors stopped their errands in the house and gathered at the front hall, looking up at the sound from the PA system, where they could hear Blaine, Kurt and their Warblers friends so clearly.
Stuart House fell quiet and they set down their books, staring up at the speakers above them, and gathering around it. Hanover House, which had been notably subdued, now raised their eyes to the speakers as well. Small smiles graced their faces.
Even the Day Students stopped, smiling, as they heard the voices over the PA system, and they rose from where they were waiting in the courtyard, moving towards South and Main.
It sounded like hope, in its faintest thread.
Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
The Warblers looked to each other as they moved closer to the piano and to the music, their voices gaining more strength, as more and more boys crowded into the room transfixed.
Blaine's eyes met Kurt's and he smiled and found that smile returned. He reached out and open palm to him, looking for strength in him. As Kurt, drawing courage from him, closed his own palm over Blaine's, Logan quietly slipped into where he had been sitting, seamlessly continuing the melody. He stared at the piano keys like they were the only thing that made sense anymore. Maybe to him, it was true.
Blaine pulled Kurt up, bringing him to the rest of the Warblers surrounding the piano, all of them singing.
And if you have a minute, why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go somewhere only we know?
Somewhere only we know
Kurt smiled as he looked around at the boys around him, singing with them, their voices rising and filling the room, spilling out into the hallway and echoing. It was filling up the sad silence that had reigned over the empty schoolrooms, the portraits, and even of the boys who, in their disappointment, could not find the words to express it.
The Warblers sang their words for them.
Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
And if you have a minute, why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go? So why don't we go?
The boys of Dalton Academy, now filling every corner, other looking up at the speakers over the grassy grounds, now looked at each other as the Warblers continued to sing. There were sad smiles on their faces; some of them were joining hands with friends. They had come from all over the country, some even from different nations, and this school had brought them together. They had thought they still had so much time.
They looked to the Warblers, knowing that this could be the last time they would hear them sing together this way.
One last performance to bring the whole school together.
Oh, this could be the end of everything
So why don't we go somewhere only we know?
Somewhere only we know…
Somewhere only we know…
As the music faded away, Logan's hands going still on the keys, a soft murmur of appreciation replaced it. Kurt looked to Blaine with a small smile, one that Blaine seemed unable to return. The dark-haired boy only squeezed his hand in his.
Kurt turned his eyes to the other Warblers, who seemed to appear lost. As though now that this one song had ended, they no longer knew what to do with themselves. It was all over.
It amazed Kurt to see that even the Twins—the ones who could be stopped by nothing—had fallen silent, hands linked, staring at the same spot. When they noticed him looking, they nodded to him in silent gratitude.
He gave them a puzzled expression in return, not sure what they were thanking him for.
"For the goodbye," one replied as the other nodded.
But Kurt only shook his head. This wasn't the goodbye he wanted; it wasn't one any of them wanted. It was so strange to see them all so silent. Jeff put an arm around Nick and tried to comfort him. Wes and David nudged Danny and gestured for him to step off the formation with them in silence. The prefects who were seated could not look up from the floor.
The Warblers broke off, carefully, from their formation, scattering into the music room. He and Blaine remained standing where they had been from the beginning.
And it was the sight of all that resignation all around him, in all of these boys' faces—the boys that he'd come to think of as his family away from home—that made Kurt realize….
From where he had been writing a note, Headmaster Winters looked up and found Kurt sitting before the video camera, lost in thought, a small smile ghosting on his face. The headmaster set his pen down. "It made you realize what, Mr. Hummel?" he asked gently.
The boy's eyes looked bright when they glanced to him for the briefest instant. "I'm sorry?"
"You said that it was at that moment when you realized…?"
A small laugh escaped Kurt's lips, and his eyes glanced briefly to the camera, knowing that it captured every word and movement he made. Winters kept watching him, waiting to hear what it was that brought everything to a head.
So Kurt crossed his legs and leaned to the headmaster, with every air of someone sharing a secret. "It was a very important moment for me, Mr. Winters. Because you see, when I make my mind up to do something—and this my father will agree to be true—I do it the whole way."
"I see…" Winters leaned back with a small smile. "And…what did you make your mind up about then, Mr. Hummel?"
Kurt's glance flicked towards the oak doors, where he knew the others waited, waiting to see if he would tell the Headmaster absolutely everything.
That made Kurt realize…
…he wasn't going down like this.
"…Is this really it?"
The other boys looked at the sudden clarity of his voice. Kurt stared at each and every boy he knew until they had to meet his gaze. "This. All this. This is it. This is what mighty Windsor House is reduced to."
He flicked a hand out and nearly smacked Thad on the nose. "And Stuart." He waved towards Justin and Spencer, who dropped their chins immediately. "And Hanover. This is actually it. It's over? Everything in that hall that we just came from—all of it's for nothing?"
Wes stared at Kurt like he grew green skin. "It's not like that, you know after everything that happened—"
"Oh believe me, I know." Kurt raised a delicately groomed eyebrow. "I was in the third floor. I know what happened."
Instant silence. Blaine considered saying something, went through what he was going to say again, and wisely reconsidered.
Charlie was next to attempt, but he only dropped his hand with a sigh. David looked at Kurt as though trying to plead with him. "We don't want this either, you know? I mean, it sucks. It's really a weapons-grade suckfest here and we know where you're coming from, but…"
"Oh I want to hear this," Kurt replied patiently, waiting to hear it.
David visibly deflated. He looked ashamed. And as a Legacy, Kurt figured he absolutely was.
Grumbling, Derek rolled his eyes, arms crossed. He was another Legacy, and he was obviously not thrilled with the situation, but had lived too long in the whims of those who controlled tradition to really do anything apart from it. "It's not like you can do anything either, Hummel."
"I won't know until I try," Kurt replied coolly. "I figured the rest of you might be interested considering no one actually wants to leave."
"You talk big but you don't even know how you're going to fix this!" Derek shot back. "We are hopelessly overpowered by our parents!"
"Would you shut up, Derek, at least Kurt's trying!" Spencer shot back. "You're the one who wants to just give up already!"
"That's big talk coming from you too, Spencer, since all you ever do is roll over and take what your old man throws at you!" Derek snarled, jabbing a hand to his chest. "You don't even have the guts to tell him you want to go to some art school!"
"And you? You're the one who practically faints when you don't have grades high enough to please your parents!"
An argument began to bubble up between a lot of people in the vicinity. It was rising in volume, and a lot of the other boys uninvolved were getting unsettled.
"Guys," Charlie said loudly. "Listen!"
It went unheard. Everyone was talking now, looking at each other and voices rising.
"Guys!" Charlie repeated impatiently.
The uproar rose. People were getting on their feet, some downright squabbling between a few Windsors and Stuarts who couldn't agree. Even the Hanovers and day students were getting in on it, everyone trying to get a word in. Kurt winced at the caucus, barely able to understand what anyone was even saying.
There was a powerful crash of metal onto the marble flooring and everyone silenced, looking up. Justin stood, glaring, having picked up a spear from one of the decorative suits of armor and slamming it to the ground. "Listen, we said!" he snarled, and Hanovers winced.
"God, this is kangaroo court..." Bailey muttered under his breath as he sank into his seat, dragging a hand down his face.
Charlie glared. "Everyone shut up! This isn't the time to be arguing. Our problem isn't each other—it's the people who've forced their decisions on us!"
"Kurt's right," Justin added, frowning. "We won't know a damn thing until we try. And sure, it's probably a long shot, but…it's better than rolling over."
"I just don't want all of us to end up like this," Kurt said, gesturing to the previous squabble. "This is exactly the problem. We can't fall apart now. We need each other to get through it."
"He…" Blaine smiled a little shaking his head. In his hand, he had Harvey's letter. "…He has a point, guys." And now he looked to the Twins. "What about you two? Your faces look just like the ones on the walls. Your family and this place? It's been tied together since it began."
"And you said," Kurt added, looking at the twins, "that above all else, you were told to look after it and everyone in it."
All eyes turned to the Brightmans now, standing before Kurt and Blaine. The identical boys looked at each other, and then at the other two, and looked uncomfortable. "It's just..." one of them breathed out, no one was sure which. "No. Who we're up against this time…."
The other twin shook his head. "Even our dad agreed to do this. You can't…we can't…prank our way out of that or sneak around it or whatever."
"And after what happened…" penetrating blue eyes pierced into Kurt and Blaine. "It just… It just can't be done, not after that kind of negligence. The two of you could've died up there, you know? And Reed. And Logan. And we still don't know if Julian will—"
They stopped when Bailey made a swift cutting motion across his neck to shut them up, because Logan's hands were clenched and shaking over the piano keys. Derek leaned into his own fist so hard, he looked like he was punching himself.
The Twins sighed. "Yeah. It's just...this is something even we can't fix. And considering the kind of stuff we could do…that's saying something. It can't be done." Their expressions were crushed. "Just…not possible. Horrible as it is…it…just isn't."
Not one of the other Dalton boys could look at Kurt now, even as he swept his gaze over them—so many of them in this hall right at this moment. And this, Kurt decided, was why he had to do it.
"…Six impossible things."
Windsors looked up. "…What?"
Kurt let out his breath, and kept his head held up, determined. "...before breakfast, you're supposed to believe...as many as six impossible things. Right?" He looked at his watch. "The school doesn't officially go down until all the board and the parents get here tomorrow morning." He looked out at all of them again.
Blaine began to smile a little. "…That's a long headstart to get believing in impossible things."
Kurt smiled at him before looking to the others. "Sure, I'm technically the new guy here. But you guys made me a part of this group and of this school. And I for one, am not leaving Wonderland without a fight. I don't give up unless I have a really good reason to let something go. …And this school, I think, for all of you? Is the thing we can't let go."
A soft murmuring started to rise. The Twins, who had begun to smile, gave each other a glance before saying, "…that's a very clever idea, Alice."
To which Kurt only shrugged a little demurely. Of course it was. "We've already gotten this far. Everyone that had come and gone from this school left something in it that made it what it is now. We can't turn back now, we've built too much. I've made history here too, and I'm not backing out of all of that. I'll fall all the way down." He let out his breath. "But I know I can't do it alone. I need to know you guys want this too. Do you? All of you?"
The last question addressed the entire room, and the halls filled with the murmuring of boys. Blaine reached out and clasped Kurt's hand in his. "I'm with you," he nodded, taking and imparting strength. "All the way. Whatever it is we have to do." And Kurt smiled.
"Oh hell…" Charlie sighed, a small smile on his face as he leaned back on the couch. "It's not the craziest thing we've ever done, really, is it?" Justin laughed and shook his head.
"Well…we broke into South and Main, we're in trouble enough as it is…" Wes added, smiling a bit.
"But guys…" Reed asked meekly, eyes wide as boys started to crowd into the music hall again, wanting to hear more, "How are we even going to do this? I mean…what can we actually do right now? We have just one night to change the minds of people who've planned this for a week. Maybe more. And they're tough to negotiate with."
"Yeah…" Bailey looked unsure. "That's why they sent us all here tonight to get everything, so we'd all be gone by tomorrow like they want."
"Well…" and with the look in their eyes, Kurt knew that the Twins were formulating a plan, "…if they want us that much…."
Blaine grinned. "…They'll just have to come in and get us, won't they?"
"And…that was when you came up with the idea?" Winters' mouth twitched, like he was trying to hide a smile.
Blaine smiled serenely at the camera. "I certainly can't say it was my idea, Headmaster. It seemed like it was everyone's idea."
"Everyone's? The Warblers?"
"Oh, not just the Warblers. It was definitely everyone's…"
Headmaster Winters now leaned on his chair and studied Blaine—his eyes were almost affectionate. "Mr. Anderson, when we arrived to see what you and the other boys had done…. You mean to say that you all had done it within in a single night of planning and execution?"
"We're very resourceful, Headmaster. Dalton's educational system is wonderful, even if the security sucks."
Kurt casually wrote the words Phase One onto a nearby whiteboard that subsequently got dragged away by some very enthusiastic Dalton boys.
"Oh man, oh man, oh man…" Dwight was fussing and fidgeting on the grass outside Windsor and he was ripping up a wilted flower in his hands. "If I could count the ways how this is such a freaking bad idea…"
"Dwight! Stop bouncing on your heels and come help!" Charlie barked as he and the Twins were hauling what looked like a massive dresser out of Windsor's doors. It was so big and still so full of stuff that they nearly dropped it with its weight. "Ow! Geez!"
"That is an antique!" Dwight practically yelled. "It's probably cursed! And while we're at it, that is mahogany!"
"Whatever, Trinket, just stop fussing and hold these." Todd shoved a mantel clock into Dwight's arms and piled books after it. He grabbed the leather strap attached to huge trunk and leashed Dwight to it like he was a sled dog. "Come on, move this stuff out, hurry!"
Grumbling, the other boy towed the trunk away as Drew and Satoru flew past carrying all sorts of heavy equipment.
"That dresser is going to make an amazing foundation bit," Reed grinned as he watched it go.
"Oh man…" David looked around at all the boys of Windsor running to and fro, hauling luggage and furniture out of their houses at great speed, the complete opposite to a couple or so hours ago when nobody wanted to get their things out. "I think I gotta go with Dwight on this one, this is serious."
"Playing it safe never won anyone a Tony," Kurt bristled.
Blaine jogged up to him, flushed and breathless and with the reckless courage of the damned. "Hey. Stuart House is already hauling their stuff out. Got word from Hanover that they're doing the same. But I don't know if it's going to be enough."
"How'd it go?" Reed asked, curious, as Wes skidded to a stop next to the small pack standing just outside of Windsor.
"We did it!" Wes grinned, grinning like a maniac at the conspirators around him. "It's all set. It was a lot of talking but we did it. Message has been passed."
"Well, the parents all think they're being very kind to us," Reed told them, looking only a little bit ashamed that he had lied so convincingly. "That we all were sentimental and emotional and wanted to just have one last sleepover on campus in a big bonding experience before it all closed down and we all go our separate ways."
"There's no way Senator Wright would've bought that," Kurt raised an eyebrow.
To which Logan—who had been passing by—only replied, "I told him I was staying over and he can do nothing about it. That ends the matter."
Blaine grinned. "Well, a lot of misinformation had to be spread. They think we're safe." He lifted an obnoxiously blue-colored walkie talkie. "Hey Caterpillar. Was it all done?"
The walkie crackled. "Well, it took some serious effort on my part, you're all welcome, by the way, but I did it. I'd like to thank my team for their stupendous acting. All I had to do was tweak the voices a little bit."
David grinned. "So all the guards think the other shift is taking this shift. No one is actually around campus. All the teachers have gone to the meeting already, we've told Howard that he had to talk on our behalf as the Windsor Head, same with the Stuarts for Murdoch and Newman for Hanover."
"Yep. Still keeping an eye on the area, though. Gonna try to draw away anyone who tries to come 'check in' on us, keep watch on the incoming calls. I'm a little worried, Ramsey can smell BS from miles away."
"But they're all still at the big meeting, right?" Blaine asked worriedly. "No one's going to come surprise us?"
"Didn't we already learn that it's a bad idea when there's no security in this school?" Reed pointed out.
Wes shrugged. "Sort of. Everyone's got cops on speed dial, they're so jumpy. But just to make sure, I asked my family's, uh…personal security have to take position around the streets. It serves as double protection for our side."
"And they went with it?" Kurt stared in surprise. "They listened to you?"
"I can't believe it either. But y'know…those guys love me. They all raised me, joint effort and all."
"Your dad is gonna get so mad when he hears." David shook his head.
"I'm hoping his blind paternal love for me will keep him from strangling me after he finds out what we're all actually doing here, because it sure isn't a sleepover."
"And your plan, from what I understand…" Winters smiled, "…was to just…stay in the school."
"It wasn't closed yet!" David replied almost defensively. "We thought everyone was fine with letting us stay over one last night and have a sleepover."
"We both know that you all went in there with no intentions of a sleepover, Mr. Sullivan." His amused smile made David wonder exactly how much the Headmaster really knew. "This was…the idea that all of you boys came up with?"
"We had to do something. Windsor boys break the boundaries."
"Or in this case…" the headmaster chuckled, "…you created one."
Kurt studied the steadily growing pile with satisfaction. What amazed him most was how successful they were being. It was solid. "We're making good time."
"It's still not enough," Blaine remarked, standing next to him and staring at the mountain they were creating, "but I think we've become too good at Jenga. That's an amazing height."
"Parkour!" someone yelled, leaping through a tangle of tables, chairs, and over a resin model of a blue whale from the Science Department. There was a crash and the sound of things falling. Laughter sounded.
Windsor's Alice tore away from staring at the growing pile of furniture and luggage, being expertly stacked by people who had obviously watched the movie 300 way too many times, and asked, "What do you mean not enough?"
"Well, if we drag out everything in Windsor, everything in Hanover, and everything in Stuart, we might be able to fix two of the entrances." There was the sound of soldering from somewhere which was subsequently ignored. "There are four gates. We need more things. And…" he glanced at Kurt. "We need more people."
"Oh." Kurt frowned. Behind him, someone standing on the pile yelled for another chair. It got thrown upwards and Kurt ignored the sound of wood and metal and clanging as smothered laughter erupted. "But…all the Houses are already in. All the faculty and staff have moved out already and are at the meeting, and even I'm not sure we can convince them."
Something that sounded like a vial cracked against something and there was a rapid hissing noise.
"Holy crap dude, what the hell was in that thing?!" Bailey yelled.
"Um..." Drew stared.
"Is that corrosive acid or something?!"
"No...Blair's 16 Million Reserve sauce...?"
"Are you insane?!"
"You guys, I said nothing lethal!"
"Not all the Houses are here," Charlie remarked from nearby. How he had produced the nail gun was beyond comprehension, but it did help with their plans. He leveled the boys with a stare, clearly trying to ignore the surrounding madness. "We haven't asked the Day Students."
"Do you seriously think they'll help us?" Wes asked doubtfully. "We're the ones who started this mess in the first place, and the ones who are here are looking at us like we're out of our minds."
Very patiently, Charlie replied as he gestured to unmistakable pile of objects still growing, "Wesley. We. Are. Making. A. Barricade. We are literally barricading ourselves within Dalton Academy. Like it says in the rulebook. Defending against an attack."
"It's…it's not our regular brand of crazy?" Reed tried, and knew it was a lost cause.
"Do you guys realize what we are?! We are the freaking barricade boys, okay?!" Charlie gestured to that ever-growing wall just yards from them. It was hard to tell if he was excited or getting hysterical. Kurt found his prefect's descent to total madness fascinating. "We're actually staging a revolution within Dalton grounds!"
"You can't use Les Mis as a comparison!" Dwight protested.
"Why not?" Kurt stared, scandalized.
"Because they nearly all died and we just narrowly missed that!"
"Look." Blaine dragged a hand down his face. "We have four major entrances in this school, one in every cardinal direction, the biggest one being the main gate, which is probably where all the action's going to be. We're going to need every single piece of furniture in this school, every piece of luggage we've got, to make the barricade, and we need a lot of people to line the whole area, including people to watch at that ridiculous rail fence we've got. We need more people. We need help."
There was a beat, and Kurt suddenly murmured, "…Exactly how many more people would you say we need?"
"Well, as many as we can. More people is good, right? People who would…want to support our cause…." David looked around hopefully. "I mean, people would've heard what's happened to us? Maybe we're not the only ones who wouldn't want this place to close."
Kurt started to grin, and he nodded over to the side of the barricade that was starting to grow parallel to the rail fences.
Boys with blue, red, and white badges were hurrying around, dragging even more furniture and their bulky luggage to add to the growing barricade. Not far from this busy movement, a few boys stood, curious and seemingly at a loss on what to do. They wore badges too—the gold-plated "D" of Dalton Academy. They had no luggage in their hands, and carried only expressions of wonder at what the other boys were doing.
Blaine followed his gaze, and realized what Kurt was implying. Then, grinning in a way that was so reminiscent of Shane's own impish manner, he looked to the others. "Alright. Call 'Phase Two' our recruitment."
To which the Brightman twins also looked quite delighted. "Plans?"
Charlie spoke up with a nod, "Alright—Blaine, you take the day boys. They're nice to you; you don't make as much ruckus as the rest of us."
Kurt raised an eyebrow and Wes coughed violently before saying, "I'm sorry, Chaz, what was that you said? Sorry man, I couldn't hear you, there's so much bullshit flying around, could you run that by me again?"
Charlie smacked Wes in the face with a foam mop. "Quiet! I like to live in denial. Anyway, Justin and I will go out of the territory and see what our…neighboring kingdom thinks."
Justin only smiled in return, and added, "We'll take Spencer. He's got some leverage there."
Charlie now turned his eyes to Kurt. "And I think, Kurt, you might ask some old friends to come join us. If they wanted."
With a delicate shrug, Kurt flashed the prefect a smirk. "Well, then—I'll round up the Momeraths."
A group of boys sat in front of Winters, fidgeting only slightly, abashed but entirely too pleased with themselves.
"And it was your influence that drew more troops into the barricade?" Winters spoke calmly, eyeing Kurt, Blaine, Charlie, Justin, and Logan.
To which Charlie, with the perfect composure of someone who had been in the hot seat so often that it has ceased to make an impression, "We were only trying to see if our cause was worthy enough for others to want to take part of."
"It would've made no more difference than if we had a petition up online," Justin added, shrugging.
The headmaster looked at Blaine. "I was told by Riley Paige that it was you he spoke to, Mr. Anderson."
"I was, sir."
"And what did you tell him?"
"Riley? Blaine Anderson is here to talk to you."
The boy who sat at one of the stone tables just by the terrace of the South and Main was one who Blaine had met more than once. It is in this area that the day students congregated, as they did now, surrounded by packages of books and things. Upon seeing Riley Paige, Blaine had the impression that it was as though he was the highest official in a war room, as all the other day boys surrounded him, asking questions, worried, looking to him for answers.
He had seen Riley whenever there was collateral damage towards the day students during the Windsor-Stuart clashes. He was Blaine's age but seemed older from the way he had such a commanding air over his fellow students without trying. He was protective over the day students, keeping them under his wing and occasionally shooting the culprits a sharp disapproving expression.
His attention settled onto Blaine with surprise. "Hello, Blaine." Riley rose and extended a hand, which Blaine shook. "I assumed you and the other boarders were busy with…well, apparently trapping us all here."
The White Rabbit knew better than to kid around with a dragon—this was why Charlie sent him, after all. "Hello, Riley. It's not all barricaded yet. We can make sure the day students have a way out before we close it all down. Of course…" and here Blaine smiled a little more, "…that is if you want to leave. We were hoping that you and the day students would stay."
"Who might 'we' be?" the stocky teen Blaine recognized as Isaac, from the football team, asked while allowing only a slightly raised eyebrow. "Windsors?"
"Windsors, Stuarts, and Hanovers. Anyone who wants to stay within school grounds."
"Stay…here? It's closing down." Terry, the school drama club scriptwriter, stared as though Blaine just proposed skydiving with the Brightmans. "We don't even know what the hell you guys think you're doing. I mean…barricading the school?"
"So this is a siege," a very tall boy with sandy hair looked oddly fascinated, basketball in his hands.
"We can't let them close our school down," Blaine told them fervently, looking around. He wondered if this was how Kurt had felt, facing down the others who didn't even have the will anymore. "Look, I know that we boarding boys haven't exactly given you guys an easy time, but you guys are Dalton boys as much as we are."
"Are we?" the boy with the basketball looked doubtful. "You know, Hummel and the others weren't the only ones that Clavell terrorized. Spooked some of the day boys too when they got too close to Larson. But no one listened to us."
"Colby," Riley spoke in warning, and the other boy just shrugged. Then Riley spoke to Blaine. "You're right, Blaine. We are Dalton boys. And we don't want this place to close down any more than you do."
He considered him for a moment before continuing. "But if we're going to do this with you…I'd like your personal assurance that you boarders will start considering the day students a little more. We're not your 'reserve' forces. We're not your 'extras'. I want to know for a fact that if we all do this, you'll take this up with the House Heads and prefects with me."
"Whoa," Blaine did a double take, startled. "I…I get it, I mean, you guys aren't our anything, and definitely not any less than we are, but what makes you think that I—"
"You're a Warbler." Riley's unsettling green and yellow gaze was intent. "And there's no other group in this school, maybe not even the group of prefects, who have as much sway as the Warblers. And you're their lead singer. One of them anyway." He crossed his arms. "The day students will help save the school, whatever it takes. But I want to know that we'll stand on equal ground once we're done."
He talked like the plan wasn't absolutely insane. He talked like he was a hundred percent sure that they were going to manage it. And Blaine decided that yes, they needed the day students if they all had a conviction like that. Blaine extended a hand that Riley readily shook.
"It's a deal," Blaine nodded. Riley nodded somberly, and it was worthy of an allegiance between nations.
Colby laughed, flashing pearly whites. "Alright. Let's help brick up this place."
"And it was only the day students," Winters asked, with a completely inappropriate amount of amusement at the entire thing—for a headmaster, at least. "They were the only people you'd directly asked to help you?"
"Yes," Blaine replied guilelessly.
Then the headmaster turned to the prefects. "And you…? Were you responsible for the other groups involved?"
Charlie and Justin glanced at each other out of the corner of their eyes. Kurt resisted the urge to smile and failed.
"What did Lima say?" Charlie muttered as the group hurried over a stretch of immaculately maintained school ground. "You sounded loud on the phone."
"I was trying to be heard over the outrage." Kurt pushed a branch away from his face. "But I believe the reply is positive. I'll hear from them by the time we finished here. …Whatever it is we're doing here."
"Well, this place is not a sister school for nothing…." Justin told him, sounding almost embarrassed to be infiltrating the place in this way. "For some people more than others."
Kurt frowned. "I thought Laura goes to school in London."
"He means me," Spencer told him in a long-suffering, resigned tone that Kurt recognized hearing among those who are prepared to go into their doom. "I have one in here. A sister, I mean."
"And we're going to ask her to get the other Dobry girls to help us?"
"If anyone can, she can," Justin shrugged. "And Charlie's girlfriend."
Kurt turned to his prefect with a suspicious expression. "…Your girlfriend isn't that girl who—"
"—Was screaming and took a golf club to my car before setting it on fire? Yeah no." Charlie shook his head.
"Good, because I've had enough of that kind of hysterics from Tabitha."
Kurt had never set foot into Dobry Hall, and he really had no reason to. He had only ever seen Dalton's "sisters" coming into Dalton Academy for events. While obviously smaller than the boys' school, Dobry looked newer, infinitely better-maintained, and had a sense of constant aesthetic rather than the mishmash of styles that one sees among the buildings in Dalton.
He was surprised to pass only two dormitories on their way to the main building of the school. He had expected a triad like their Dalton brothers, but apparently, Dobry only had Prima House and Royal House, both of which were larger edifices than their Dalton counterparts.
Kurt supposed, as they snuck into the main school building, that if the boys were looking for more recruits into their crazy plan, they would find a considerable number to draw from in here.
They passed a large board in the front hall that was covered in paper stars—it was some kind of 'scoring' system like Harry Potter house points between Prima and Royal—when Kurt began to hear the singing. Surprised, he listened a little more carefully and realized that it was a group of girls, using only their voices.
Very much like the Warblers.
He had it comin'! He had it comin'!
He only had himself to blame!
If you'd have been there—
If you'd have seen it—
I betcha you would have done the same!
(Pop! Six! Squish! Uh-uh! Cicero! Lipschitz!)
The girls were clothed in deep black, all of them, moving in perfect sync with one another, each heeled step echoing on the hardwood floor of the huge practice studio. Two of the girls stood apart from the rest, apparently overseeing how everything went. They were so completely focused on their work that they didn't notice the Dalton boys had stepped in about several yards away.
Kurt marveled at the size of the room; if the Warblers had a space this big to call home, David's backflips would reach all-star cheerleading levels.
The dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!
The dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!
"This is very dangerous to interrupt, I'd say; the Terpsichores are singing about murdering menfolk," Justin remarked, and received a sharp elbow from Spencer.
"Is your sister in there?" Kurt whispered.
"Yep." Sighing as though it was such a huge burden, Spencer nodded towards the group again, while Charlie watched on with immense pride.
They had it comin'! They had it comin'!
They had it comin' all along!
'Cause if they used us and they abused us—
How could they tell us that we were wrong?
"Why do you sound so miserable?" Kurt hissed to Spencer. "They're good! You're not happy your sister's in here?"
"Thrilled. Proud." Spencer just kept watching with a little smile. "She's brilliant. Can do everything, really. That's the problem."
"He just has some self-esteem issues to work through, Kurt," Justin informed him.
Spencer? The hardworking saint of a boyfriend that Merril Portman is so madly in love with? Kurt was incredulous. "Your sister must be quite a piece of work. What's she like? How do you see her, really?"
Spencer considered. "Well…I wouldn't really call her 'girly' in the disney princess sense and I wouldn't really call her a single-minded goal-driven 'balrog'…"
"What would you call her?"
"I'd call her 'ma'am'," Justin answered.
The group—Terpsichores, Justin called them—kept on practicing until Kurt saw the smallest of the girls, a bright-eyed little redhead, catch sight of them from the mirrors, and she immediately stopped, delighted.
"Westwood!" the brunette one from the two who were standing apart suddenly barked, putting a stop to Cell Block Tango. "Pay attention, you missed a step again!"
"Sorry!" Kurt was surprised to hear Han's last name attached to the short girl. She pointed to the boys. "We have visitors!"
The pack of girls spotted them from the mirror before they turned around to look at them with no small amount of delight. The blonde girl overseeing the practice immediately dimpled as she moved over to the boys, trying not to appear as though she was actually running.
"Charles!" she bloomed under the Windsor prefect's scrutiny and Kurt had to bite back a smirk as his prefect was reduced to the teenage boy that he actually was. "We weren't expecting you!"
"Hello, Hope." It was a pleasant surprise to watch Charlie's IQ plummet at that pretty Southern belle's attentions. He only allowed himself to hold onto her elbows when he lightly kissed her cheek. "Kurt, this is Hope Clayton. Prefect for Prima House and Terpsichore co-captain."
"I know him, Charlie, he's that brilliant singer of yours."
There was a smacking sound of someone punching someone else's arm and Spencer howled, rubbing his shoulder as he glowered mutinously at the tall brunette. "Ow?! Uncalled for?"
"You should've come to us sooner," she shot back, but gave him a big bear hug.
"This is your sister?" Kurt raised an eyebrow.
"This is his twin sister, Sydney Willis, prefect for Royal House and Terpsichore co-captain," Justin replied, smiling, since Spencer was too busy being winded under the crushing hug of his twin sister. The other boy managed a squeak not unlike a rubber duck and his sister released him, clearing her throat. "Sorry. We were wondering why it took you boys so long to come to us, actually." She looked at Justin and extended a hand, but rolled her eyes when Justin took it and bowed instead of shaking it.
"Come to you for…what?" Spencer blinked. "You already know?" He was standing at parade rest, just like she was. They both seemed completely unaware they were doing it.
"Oh now don't be like that," Hope smiled sweetly. "Moment we heard that the men up top were trying to close the school down, we were sure that you boys weren't going down without a fight."
Kurt gave her a strained smile. "Trust me, they still needed some motivation."
"You guys disappoint me," Sydney huffed. "If that were our school, we'd be up in arms the moment they told us to pack."
"Well, hopefully you'd put that same motivation into helping us," Charlie smirked. "Dalton's closing down—but we're going to stay until the end."
Kurt lifted his chin and looked at the two girls with the same determination he'd given the boys. "We need more people to stand with us. We're hoping you girls would consider rounding up a few more troops."
"This is brilliant," the redhead Westwood, ridiculously excited, looking up from what must be a phablet. "My brother says I can help with surveillance and monitoring and intercepting chatter headed our way."
We might actually stand a chance… Kurt realized, amazed.
"Well, if we're going to make it so official…" Hope smiled and nodded. "I'll have Lucy and Casey call up all the Primas and tell them to spread word."
"And you, Syd?" Spencer looked at his twin.
"I'll round up the Royals to do the same. I'll make sure Katherine gets sent to David; he'll worry about her if I don't." Sydney nodded.
"We're very grateful," Justin told them, nodding.
"But the question is," Charlie suddenly said, thoughtful, "Is this absolutely enough to make an impression? We have to make a really really big impression if we want to make an impact. That was your plan, wasn't it, Kurt?"
Kurt, who had been looking at his phone to find a text from Blaine, replied, "Blaine's gotten the day students on board. And if my connections in Lima pull through…" he grinned when another message cropped up. "…We'll have more coming in from that way. Wait, hang on." He frowned.
A new message from Han had appeared.
Han, who was looking very tidy and extremely uncomfortable with such a clean-pressed uniform, coughed as he read from the tablet.
"The message I sent to the others at that hour was: 'Message to all: The meeting has officially begun. The school board, with the support of a number of parents—many of whom are Legacies of Dalton Academy—are giving their statements. They are proposing to shut down Dalton Academy in the wake of the terrible events that had happened involving a number of Dalton students being grievously injured by the student Adam Clavell, who had also instigated the fire that resulted in the death of a faculty member, Gregory Harvey. Statements will be heard from those supporting and protesting the closing of Dalton Academy. Decision will be sent to everyone as soon as it arrives.'"
"It must have been a dire moment for all of you." The headmaster watched him. "I understand none of you would've been allowed to the meeting. You could not have made your voices heard."
"I kept track," Han murmured in reply, pushing his glasses. "I had to. I wanted to stay here, as much as any of them. I…I know I'm not going to college; that's not in my future. So this…all of this? Is all I have left of the time I'll ever be in a school, with friends. I don't want it to end that early."
"And you decided that this was how you would all make yourselves heard."
"Everyone decided. And the moment we decided it, it felt like…" Han tried to find the words, a little stunned. "…it felt like it was coming together. I had no idea the kind of response we would get."
Blaine immediately came running up to Kurt the moment the prefects' group returned from the side gate. "Kurt! Come with me, hurry." His smile was blinding. "There's a bus that just pulled up. I think it's your guests."
Kurt didn't wait. He bolted off with Blaine towards the main gate where a flock of Dalton boys were gathering, trying to get a look. Already, the barricade was high—tall enough that if you were to climb on it, you could vault the high rail that surrounded the school. Boys had clambered up onto it like it was a jungle gym, looking over to the bus that had pulled up just outside the gate. Down below, at the base of the barricade, a small gap was being cleared.
When Kurt saw a familiar red jacket, he couldn't control the smile that split his face. "Finn!"
"Hey!" Finn lit up at the sight of his stepbrother, and he made to move toward him. Unfortunately, the rest of New Directions had the same idea. Rachel charged to Kurt with the same impassioned enthusiasm she had when the girls had to cover for the boys during some football game back in McKinley.
"We're here!" she exclaimed, smile broad and taking a quick sweep of everything around her. "We've spread the word and we're reporting for duty. I'm sure we can help you guys with this…um…." she gestured to the wall. "Well…that."
The Twins were happily helping Brittany climb up the barricade. They looked at Rachel now. "Hey, pretty singing flower! Yes, you, lovely small one! Come join us!"
"Go, please, go," Kurt hurried her off to the barricade, "the more occupied they are, the better control there'll be to their madness until we need their evil—and they think you're pretty."
"Excuse me." Finn gaped.
"Ladies!" Wes materialized and grinned at Mercedes. "This way, please, let's make sure you've got a fine selection of nonlethal weaponry to choose from." She laughed.
"Down, tiger." Kurt rolled his eyes before he grinned up at Finn now. "Thank you, for getting everyone to come."
"Hey, we know how much this school means to you," Finn smiled. "Not that we wouldn't love to have you back, because—you know we do, right? We'd be so happy to have you back, be a team again. But…"
Finn shoved his hands into his pockets and looked around at the ongoing mayhem: boys running to and fro with supplies, some of them still constructing the wall, others just whooping with joy in the excitement of the big adventure. "Looks like you grew into this place. And we'd want you happy wherever you want to be. Oh! And if it means anything, I heard Burt and mom were there at the meeting. They said they'd protest the school closing."
Kurt stared at him, aghast. "Wait—what? Dad…he really said that?"
"Yeah, sure, why?" Finn's brow furrowed.
It was Kurt's turn to give him a confused expression. "He said he… Well, when he took me to the hospital to visit…he said he agreed with the school closing. He said that he sent me here to be safe, and the school couldn't do it. He sounded upset." He wrapped his arms around himself, staring at the grass in disbelief. "…That of all things, I thought that was the reason I'd be leaving here."
"Well…." Finn allowed himself a glance at the barricades, a little bit bewildered at the magnitude of it all, but when he returned his attention to Kurt, his eyes were almost fond. "Whatever you said to him must've worked." He made a twitchy kind of double take when he saw Rachel waving at him to get his attention from one of the highest points of the barricade, and she's singing to One Day More, urging those around her to join in. "That, and he could probably tell you really like these guys if you were willing to go through all this. Like…everyday."
"You get used to it. Now go tell her pipe down a little, we're trying to be inconspicuous here." He glowered at Finn.
"You guys gave her a stage!" he protested, but was already walking to her.
"Like gasoline to a fire, I know…" Kurt grimaced at himself. "Sorry. That was too soon."
"Well, we're nothing if we can't bounce back…" Blaine remarked, smiling at him. "You look better than you have in days."
"I like it when a plan comes together. Especially if it's my plan." He smiled at his boyfriend. "You know I actually feel a lot like a Windsor now? Hatching plans and having them work beautifully?"
"We don't know how beautifully it'll work until tomorrow," Blaine shook his head. Behind him, someone was setting up that landing pad again. "Or at least until Han gives us what the board has decided. If we're lucky—and I mean really really lucky…we might not have to stage it at all."
Kurt stood with him, and looked to the other boys who were talking and helping one another. He grimaced when he saw Dwight flailing at them to unhand the antique chest. "…I want to say I hope we don't have to, but I have the feeling that the parents we're up against will make it so we'll have to fight. After all…" he glanced at Blaine, "…A lot of them were Dalton boys themselves. You know as well as I do how hardheaded they are."
Blaine grinned. Something not far from them made a flash bang and there was laughter as the prefects told them to cut it out. "It's tradition to be horribly mulish."
That was when Danny came running up to them, breathless and desperate. "Guys! Guys!" He plowed right into Reed, who had been walking by, sending the two of them into a heap at Kurt's feet. "Ow! Oh god, I'm so sorry, Reed!"
"Are you kidding, that's the first time in days I've taken a tumble that I didn't do to myself, that's awesome…" the artist grunted.
"You okay?" Shane quickly helped Reed up as the shorter boy dusted his pants.
"Danny, you shouldn't be running like that, you'll rip something open!" Merril told him as the other boys approached, seeing the commotion.
"Guys!" Danny got back to his feet, panting, as the Windsors started to approach. "The West exit."
"You've got company," Han continued from the walkies. "They didn't come in sending texts or whatever, I didn't see them until the street cams did. A flock of them. Coming your way."
"Who?" Blaine asked, perplexed and alarmed.
"See for yourself," Danny replied, and he looked almost amazed.
After one of those long pauses they had to endure in that waiting room, with only the sound of the secretary's typing in the distance, Wes finally looked at the others.
"Did you have any idea that they would—"
"Nope," David shook his head.
"…I mean, can you believe they actually—"
"Nope," Blaine also shook his head, looking stunned.
Wes paused. "…do you think they'll ever—"
"We are never going to see that happening again," the Twins replied firmly.
It was already dark. A fog had settled beyond the school grounds, turning the landscape past the West gate into a horror movie scene. It was cold, dimly lit, with the beams of the flashlights and lamps shooting rays.
The Dalton boys crept out of the West gate in a file, one at a time, going into the brush that led to the woods that were not far from the school. It was a path that led to virtually nowhere, until you emerge past the woods and back into where it will inevitably lead you back to civilization, but there really had been no need for anyone to use this route—especially not at night, in the cold.
Which was another reason this was all the more amazing.
The Dalton boys stared as a huge group of students, well over a hundred of them, were gathered fifty feet away from the West gate. Majority of them were unfamiliar, shifting uncomfortably in the chill and awkwardly not meeting many of the boys' gazes—as though it physically pained them to actually be there. In front of their group was a flock of girls, jackets of the green and white over the flimsy material of their cheerleading uniforms.
Kurt's jaw dropped when he realized: the girls were the Banshees. And as for Blaine, he was stunned to realize that the fleet of boys with them, in similar green and white-trimmed lettermans, were the St. Patrick Lions.
"What the hell…." Wes managed to say once he'd overcome the initial shock of seeing the group there.
A bark of stunned laughter escaped David when he stared at their sporting archrivals. "What are you guys doing here?"
Margot Weller rolled her eyes as though the Dalton boys were simply too stupid to live, and shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket. "Oh dear god, I'm starting to change my mind."
"Well you were the one who brought it up," a boy in a letterman jacket shot back. He looked as though he couldn't believe he was doing this, but he began to walk ahead towards the Dalton boys. "Hey! Kings! We want to talk to you."
"Oh god," grumbled Derek. "It's the mating call of the 'Great Woolly Douchebag'. Quick, kick it in the balls and run."
"Oh you mean as opposed to your species, the 'Common Cheating Dirtbag'?" Casey leveled a stare at him, and Derek fell quiet.
Immediately, the Dalton Kings and the Warblers moved up to the front of the ranks to meet them. The battle line drawn between the two schools was there, but the gap shrank considerably. Blaine, Wes, and David pushed their way to the front, so they were now facing Hal Malachowski, the team captain of the Lions.
"Hal," Wes nodded to him.
"Wesley." The other boy coughed.
The Kings nodded to the Lions, all familiar to them after repeated clashing on sporting arenas. Blaine noticed that the day boys, particularly Riley, also nodded to a boy over the other line, the one with 'Gallagher' on his jacket. The atmosphere was a familiar one to everyone, then.
Hal coughed again to get their attention. "Well. A couple of the cheerleaders and a bunch of other guys said they heard something about your school."
"That it nearly blew up? Who hasn't heard?" Wes eyed them suspiciously. His eyes landed on Tabitha, and she cringed, turning her gaze away, staying close to her Banshee sisters. She also must've heard, from Derek.
Derek who was standing next to Casey, who had arrived with the Terpsichores. Wes looked at Blaine with an expression that asked him to explain the complexities of teenage dating. Blaine ignored him.
"Yeah, we heard about it," Hal nodded, and he looked annoyed. "Then they said that your school was closing down. What the hell?! Couldn't they just arrest the guy?"
"Isn't this good news for you guys?" Blaine asked, confused. "You guys hate us. And we always butt heads during tournaments. And your cheerleaders confess to distracting our guys on the field on purpose!"
"It's not our fault you boys don't think using the head that's on your shoulders," Margot replied coolly. "We just use it to our strategic advantage."
"Whoa—" Wes made sure none of the other boys would retort to that, before moving forward. "What do you want, Malachowski?"
"I was getting to that." Hal shot Margot a look—she made a face at him in answer—before facing Blaine again. "…well, some guys back in St. Patrick have friends from other schools, they said that you guys were rounding up people to help you stay in here. That you were going to stay in the school, try to convince them not to close it or something. And…well…we thought…."
He trailed off, furiously glowering at the grass like it mortally offended his entire family and his dog. Kurt stared in amazement. "You guys…decided to come help us? You? Really?"
"Hey." Hal jabbed a finger towards Wes. "We're only doing this because of the tournament. Without your team to mess with, the entire tourney's gonna be a wash out. We'd get accused of steroids, we'd kick ass too hard."
"We beat you guys pretty soundly this year," David raised an eyebrow, smirking.
"Yeah well, that was like one time!" Hal protested, crimson with humiliation. But behind him, the Lions looked pleased, and so did the Banshees. "You may have the championship now, but we want it back, and we're getting it back! You guys don't get to waltz off into the sunset undefeated! We're going to crush you guys, you hear me? Even in fencing, Anderson, wipe that smirk off your face!"
"I like this," Shane grinned as Reed elbowed him.
Blaine shook his head with a laugh, the Dalton boys starting to smile in spite of themselves. "So you're only doing this—you're only helping us—just for the trophy for next year. Right?"
"Right!" Hal yelled.
The cheerleader next to Tabitha snorted. "Speak for yourself, Malachowski. My boyfriend's in that school, I want to keep him."
All the Banshees turned and stared at her, agape. "What."
The cheerleader raised an eyebrow at them and simply shrugged in response. She turned towards the Dalton boys and waggled her fingers at them with a cheeky smirk. And to everyone's surprise, Thad waved back, flushed a little, and grinned.
"What the hell." Derek gaped at him along with the Stuarts.
Thad only gave them a shrug that asked, "What?" in return.
And then one of the football players—'Gallagher'—cleared his throat and piped up, "Same, my boyfriend's here too, so…" He waved.
The Dalton boys gaped at him. All except Nicky of Hanover—not to be confused with Nick of Stuart, Jeff's friend, as Kurt had to remind himself—who turned crimson but nevertheless waved with a shy smile. The Hanovers stared at him as Kurt tried to choke back a completely inappropriate burst of laughter.
"What…?" Nicky hissed, flushed.
Riley Paige dropped his face into his hand.
Hal turned to his player with a flailing "what the hell" expression, completely astonished. "What—you're—?! And with the enemy—?!"
To which Gallagher only rolled his eyes. "You didn't know? Everyone knows."
"Everyone does not!" Hal shot back, flustered.
That was when the whole team and the Banshees just rolled their eyes at him with an impatient chorus of, "Yes, of course we know"s and "do you live under a rock"s.
Blaine had to hide his face into Kurt's shoulder for a moment, shaking with suppressed laughter.
"Oh my go—" Hal whirled around and dragged a hand down his face in a manner that all the Dalton prefects sympathized all too strongly with. "Alright, alright! Fine! Whatever!" He looked to the Dalton boys with the reckless expression of the damned. "Are we gonna do this or what?!"
"Yes!" the Twins grinned, enjoying every moment.
"Welcome aboard." Blaine extended a hand to them, and Hal shook it somberly. The team captain nodded to the contingent of St. Patrick students, and everyone headed back through the West gate.
They were waiting for Blaine to emerge from the Headmasters' office when the Twins looked to Kurt. "We—we really should apologize."
"For what?" Kurt responded, perplexed.
"The um…the night before the siege." They watched him carefully. "We should've been more mindful of how you would feel. Everybody wanted some kind of bonfire party, but—"
Kurt cut them off immediately, waving the concern away. "No. No, that's…. Sure, it'll take awhile for Reed and I to ever really want to get close to bonfire parties or anything…and I'm positive I'll stay away from Fourth of July fireworks madness, but that's just common sense given Windsor's propensity for…flammables." He gave them a wan smile.
"We didn't mean to be insensitive."
"You weren't," Kurt assured them. "I'm not delicate. I won't flinch at every flame—we live in the twenty-first century, there's going to be one at every corner. Besides I've seen what an out-of-control inferno looks like, and trust me, lighting stoves and matches aren't going to make me freak out after seeing what we did. Anyway…"
He stared out the window. "I'm glad Reed and I took that walk."
"What's Phase Three?" Reed asked, following Kurt, as they followed the barricade. Like Kurt, Reed was restless that night. The moon was rising high, it was getting late, and after spending twenty minutes near the bonfire party that comprised of four different school populations, Kurt wanted to go take a walk so he didn't have to listen to the crackling.
Of course, the boys still had that habit of treating any of them who had been in the fire as the number one priority. The moment Kurt stood to walk, they swooped down and asked him if there was anything the matter, and if Kurt wanted the bonfire put out.
It took five minutes of convincing and half a minute after opening a container of cookies before Kurt managed to get away from them, Blaine, Reed, and Shane following. The last they saw of them, Laura Bancroft was dangling in the air, trying to get one away from her older brother who hardly seemed to notice her hanging onto his arm. The rest of the Windsors were trying to hoard them away from the non-Dalton students, and New Directions sat eating, baffled and remarkably immune.
The bonfire didn't bother Kurt, not really. He wasn't afraid of it, not when everyone made sure every precaution was taken—they did learn from the Art Hall—but it was still a reminder. The sound and the smell of it; it made him think of Mr. Harvey, who didn't make it out.
It made him think of the beams falling, and Julian trapped behind them.
"Phase Three?" Kurt asked, slowing to stay in step with Reed, who was wringing his hands. The little artist had been jittery with excitement, and for some reason the bonfire had only gave him more adrenaline.
"Phase One was the barricade, Phase Two was getting all the people…" Reed blinked. "What's Phase Three?"
"Well, I would've thought Phase Three was us doing the thing itself," Blaine replied, confused.
"Phase Three is wondering what the heck we are going to do when all these parents realize that all their kids are in this school having a crazy party," Kurt rolled his eyes. "We should've told them to come back in the morning!"
"We did!" Blaine laughed.
"We should kick them all out now!"
"We're in high school. We've got parties. It's the most plausible explanation on the planet." Blaine rubbed his arm. "They don't have to go until later…if you can convince them to." Blaine grinned. "You can convince anyone to do anything."
"You guys just needed a little push, that's all it was." Kurt shrugged.
"Whatever you say, Alice."
Kurt stopped walking when he saw a shadow flutter somewhere he knew they shouldn't go. It walked off to the direction of the one spot in school Kurt had stayed away from all this time. "Did you see that?"
"What?" Blaine looked around. Reed turned so fast that he tripped, and Shane had to catch him.
Kurt's breath caught. "I think I just saw someone."
In the long walk for the four of them, following the shadow, Kurt wondered if he was seeing things for a moment. They circled past the fountains and the bonfires, behind the buildings at south and main. He could hear the footsteps now, a good distance from him.
And when he rounded the bend, he saw exactly what he expected.
The huge ruin was cordoned off now. It was blackened and it still smelled like smoke and ashes. It was surrounded by a tin barrier—a temporary band-aid in blocking the sight away from students. But it wasn't tall enough to hide the ruin of the Hall completely. The first floor was completely ruined, black and gone. The second floor did a little better.
The third floor's windows had all been blasted out. Kurt couldn't recognize which one Adam and Julian had jumped from. But he recognized very well the window that he and everyone else had jumped through for their lives.
In front of where the steps should have been stood Dwight, with his dark hair in heavy locks around his pale face. He was wearing a black coat, and while this wouldn't be the first time, Kurt saw the wildflowers in his hand and knew what the other boy was here for.
Blaine, who had been watching, felt his heart clench at the sight of the other boy standing so still. He moved forward, but Kurt placed a hand on his arm to stop him. "Let me."
This wasn't the first time Kurt had to be the one to try and break Dwight away. He had done it once before, one dark anniversary that Kurt had empathized with. And now, as it would appear, there was something else to share with the strange little hunter.
Kurt made sure his footsteps were heard before coming to a stop behind Dwight, who made no movement. Dwight wasn't startled and did not react when Kurt laid his hand on his shoulder. "Come on," Kurt told him quietly. "You shouldn't be here."
The younger boy didn't respond immediately as he blinked up at the cordoned-off ruin and the blackness of the scorched building. He thought it would smolder still, but maybe it was just his imagination.
"Come on," Kurt prompted softly again, but more firmly this time. When Dwight looked at him, he smiled a little now that he had his attention. "Now we're both a little haunted, aren't we?"
"I always have been, I think." Dwight made one more glance back, before he began walking with Kurt back.
"I think everyone is, a little." Kurt nodded.
If Kurt noticed that Dwight held onto the cuff of Kurt's sleeve with two fingers, like a little boy letting an older brother guide him, he made no comment on it. Blaine was smiling when they reached him, and Reedwas looking hopeful and encouraging. Dwight glanced up at the older boys and nodded once. "I was just a little…." Dwight shrugged, turning his gaze to the distance, releasing the sleeve.
"Sealing the place up properly with some iron and salt?" Blaine asked.
But Dwight shook his head. "…Maybe I'm actually…hoping for a ghost this time."
"Not him," Shane replied, elbowing him a little, making the other boy grumble. "I'm pretty sure he gets the express train to a better place. No waiting around. Right?"
Dwight glanced at him and nodded almost begrudgingly. "…I guess so." After a pause, he added, "Well…I figured he'd stay for Ms. Medel."
"Yeah, he might want to look after the baby," Reed beamed.
Kurt shot daggers at a paling Reed before the statement sank in and Dwight did a double take. "Wait, Ms. Medel is pregnant? How did you—and why would Mr. Harvey stay for—" Realization hit Dwight like a brick. "HOLY CAS—"
"Shhh!" Kurt and Reed struggled to clap their hands over his mouth.
"Wait—what?!" the Andersons stared.
"Can we all just go back to the barricade?" Kurt hissed and Reed groaned, wilting as Kurt led them all away from the Art Hall. "We do not talk about this. We will not talk about this, okay?"
"Ms. Medel is carrying Mr. Harvey's baby?!" Dwight squeaked in soft horror.
"You will not tell anyone, understand?" Kurt shot back.
"Oh that poor lady…." Shane looked crestfallen as the group hastily beat a path back towards the barricade. "She loses the baby's father and now she's going to lose her job in this school…. How will she manage?"
"How did you even find out? Can't we tell the others?" Blaine asked, looking worried. "We can pool money or something, try to help! It's the least we can do for Ms. Medel—"
"We will tell no one," Kurt said firmly. "It's Medel's secret. No one knows she's pregnant or who the father is except us."
"I don't like it," Dwight huffed. "That baby deserves to know who his father is. I'd want to if I was in that position."
"I agree," Reed mumbled, still furious with himself for that slip, "But…it's not really our secret to tell, is it?"
"If you're trying to keep secrets, this school isn't the place to do it, everyone finds out." All of them jumped when Han crackled into the glowered at it.
"Ix-nay on the eavesdropping-ay." Blaine muttered, noting the look on Kurt's face.
"Kurt, come to the front barricade."
"More people?" Kurt sighed and grabbed onto the com. "Caterpillar?"
"I think it's more kids coming to support. It's safe, I'm still watching out. But I think you should take a look, Kurt. Someone you know is out there. I decided not to alert all the others about him."
"Him? Him, who…?"
The visitor was David Karofsky.
He was walking down the railing down the entrance lane of the school, staring at the barricade beyond it, with no small astonishment. He seemed more interested in the barricade than where the other scattering of kids who were looking for a way in.
"Why is he here?" Blaine whispered after a few moments watching him.
"My guess? He heard from the other students about what's going on. News is moving fast. I can't believe how much support we're getting, really. Getting a little worried—someone's parents will hear soon."
Kurt watched as Karofsky stared incredulously at the giant prow of a viking boat—prop from the drama club—that was in the barricade along with everything else. "I'm going to go talk to him."
"What?! Wait, Kurt!" Blaine and Reed scrambled after him. Kurt was striding towards the main gate, where a small detachment of Hanovers and Day students were standing guard. "You can't just go out there!"
"It's fine," Kurt assured them. "I told you, he and I have talked about it. There's nothing to worry about." He paused before adding, "I think I trust him."
"This is the guy that…the things he did to you, Kurt, I'm—" Blaine shook his head. "I don't want you going out there to meet him alone. Not after last time."
"It's alright," Kurt replied, slipping a hand over Blaine's that was now resting on his arm. "If it helps, Han's still watching. But I told you. He and I have come to an…understanding. It's going to be alright, I just want to see why he's here."
Blaine didn't look happy. He stood at the gate, almost reluctant to release Kurt who slipped away into the cold night air beyond the safety of their barricade.
It was still misty. The lights on the ground shone and made the road look almost slick. Karofsky looked as though he had no idea why he was there either, glowering at the barricade.
He jumped when Kurt's voice sounded. "Jeez. What's wrong with the water here? Why is your school all boarded up?"
"You know, I think." Kurt walked up to him.
"I heard you guys were planning a sit-in of some kind, not…this." Karofsky gestured to the wall. "This is a whole new level of crazy even for you people."
"Why are you here?" Kurt cut to the chase, staring at him.
He didn't answer. He fidgeted a little, and Kurt recognized that expression on his face. It was the same kind that Hal had earlier. "Here to help?" Kurt asked with a bit of a grimace, pulling him out of the water before it got too deep.
"How've you…how've you been, anyway?" He forced it out. "The school caught fire and you were one of the guys in it. Hudson was pissy for days."
"Clearly, I got out of that one okay," Kurt replied. Something nagged at him, and he added, "Is this a social visit? You really came all this way to ask how I was?"
"God, I knew this was a bad idea." He was walking away.
"Hey! Excuse me, we are not done talking!" Kurt hurried up to him a little closer. "You haven't learned by now that you do not walk away from me? That's not how you have a polite conversation with people! Now that you've asked how I was, it's my turn. Hello, David, how have you been?" He looked expectantly, willing a human conversation devoid of locker shoves to happen.
Karofsky looked frustrated, dragging a hand down his face. "I'm…fine. Trying to get my grades up."
"Yeah, the last time your dad mentioned something about that…"
"Hired a tutor. He's nice, he's our age."
"Great! Good! Now." And with endless patience, Kurt stared up at him. "Why exactly are you here at nine pm?"
The other boy rolled his eyes and sighed. "I guess…I came to wish you idiots luck. I don't think any of this is really going to help but…well, I didn't think I'd get sprayed by some loony with holy water last time I got here either. So…yeah. I hope it works out for you guys, Hummel."
Kurt was inwardly pleased at the statement. If someone had told him that this was ever going to happen, he would've laughed in derision. But this, by far, was really not the craziest thing he'd seen all week. It was strange, but it was good…that Karofsky was here, wishing him well just because he could. He smiled indulgently. "Thank you. I'll be sure to pass the word."
"I'm getting out of here now. My record's got enough problems as it is without this…thing you guys have going."
"Thank you, Karofsky. Really."
"…Thank you, Hummel."
It sounded like he was thanking him for something else. Kurt wasn't sure he could identify what it was.
Kurt watched his red jacket vanish into the mist before he headed back to the gate. He was surprised how much things had changed. It felt like a very long time since the last time Karofsky came to visit. Kurt wondered when he stopped being afraid. It felt different, facing him down and not feeling fear.
It wasn't that Blaine and the other boys were standing guard this time. It wasn't the surprising civility. Somehow, in the span of time he had spent at Dalton Academy, he had started to grow into himself, and earned his courage. After everything he and his friends have been through, he felt courage come so easily now. It had been there when he had fought through the hall. It was there when he urged the boys to stand up for their school with him.
Courage felt like a fire blanket around his shoulders, embers bouncing off it.
On the way there, he saw Logan standing outside of the gate. Blaine stood next to him. "You alright?" Logan asked.
Kurt stared at him, then narrowed his eyes at Blaine. "Oh no. You two are not doing this tag-team thing, okay, go away, I have somewhere to be, stop fussing over me like a pair of father hens!" He shooed them out of his way and strode back into campus.
Blaine started after him. "We were not! I swear, he just walked right out! Hey!" He swatted at Logan with a grumble before going after Kurt.
Logan stared at them in disbelief, not even sure what just happened. "What?" These two are insane, no wonder they're so into each other.
Of course there was the part of him that casually reminded him of the fact that he himself didn't just decide to fall for one of them, but both of them.
Traitor, he grumbled to himself.
He almost jumped and turned around. A boy who looked like he would be a freshman was standing out in the road. Like the kids from the other schools who were milling around, trying to see if they could get into the campus, he was looking from the wall and to Logan and back again.
"Do you go to school here?" the boy asked.
"I do." Logan faced him fully. He studied this blond freshman, who was now looking at him intently. "Why do you ask? Are you here to…join the others, I guess?"
"No," the boy replied with a piercing blue stare. "Actually…I came here to see the school. I was supposed to come here for the incoming year, as a freshman. But when I got here, I heard they were closing the school down. So…"
Logan gave the kid a once over. "What did you say your name was?"
"I didn't say it." He paused, and then added, "Austin. …Is it closing down? Really?"
"Maybe not. Not if we can do anything about it." Logan looked at the school with a frown. "Do you know what house you're to be in? Did you ask for one?"
"I heard new people and freshmen are given houses more or less random, but…you're allowed to choose one?"
"Sometimes. And choose wisely, because your sanity depends on it."
"I was hoping for Stuart House."
Surprised, Logan saw the young boy studiously looking at the road. Logan's lips curled to a smirk and he almost laughed. "I said choose wisely. You're another masochist who's into punishing workloads and unhealthy amounts of coffee?"
The boy stared. "What?"
Logan shook his head. "You'll get it at some point."
Simultaneously, all devices from the Dalton boys went off with a message from the Caterpillar with the heading: "Decision has been reached."
Logan pulled out his own phone and stared at the full contents message for a long moment. When he pushed his phone back into his pocket, he told the boy, "I'll tell you something, though. Go tell your parents to get you into Stuart House if you want it." He started storming straight back into the gates. "Because this school isn't closing down if we have anything to say about it."
Bewildered, the freshman watched him go. "O-okay…."
Han coughed again and read from the tablet. "The second message I sent to them was: Decision has been reached. Dalton Academy is to formally close down tomorrow morning. The presence of the board, Legacy, parents, and staff will be expected. Dalton Academy boys have been allowed one last night at campus, where, in the morning, they will take part in the closing.'"
Han looked to the camera. "I added something else."
"And what would that be?"
"I told them…."
Kurt, surrounded by the boys of Windsor, the firelight from the bonfire illuminating his face, now lowered his phone. He stared into the fire that he had already faced down once before.
"'The siege begins now.'"
And the Dalton boys scattered into all directions, leaving Kurt sitting very still, back straight. Blaine squeezed his shoulder before he moved away.
Kurt stared at the fire and frowned at it.
"Six impossible things."
Count them, Alice. Six impossible things.
There are such things as magic cookies….
The morning dawned grey. The handful of sentry boys who were standing at the barricades looked around, and fidgeted, waiting. All over Dalton Academy, everything was perfectly still.
There was a crackle at the com, and the caterpillar spoke from his vantage point on top of his mushroom-shaped pile of school electronics rigged together into a massive command center.
"First convoy on its way. Please be warned, they just realized that we sent all the guards away. Lead car may be pissed off. Big time."
To which Charlie, King of Windsor, replied, "Yeah, copy that. Hanover, you guys good?"
And the good King of Hanover, Justin, replied over his own com, "We're all ready here. Logan, how are you boys at Stuart?"
Standing tall, the boy everyone called the Knave looked over his troops. "Are you people nuts, we live on coffee, did you think we slept?"
"Fair enough," Charlie shrugged with a smirk. "Paige! You and your boys are…?"
"We're waiting, we've been waiting…." Riley replied calmly, surrounded by the day students. "Shall we proceed?"
"Hello?!" Hal grumbled, clearly nursing a hangover from the bonfire. The St. Patrick students were in varying states of consciousness. "Didn't the dork on the com just say that they're on their way? What are we waiting for?"
"This dork is going to lock you people out of communication if you don't shut up."
"Alright so…should we go?" Finn asked, confused, with New Directions, who were also waiting around the walkie.
Kurt reached over and grabbed the com from Charlie. "Yes. Time to go."
"It's all you now, guys. Convoy's coming closer. They'll be within sniping distance shortly. News crews are also on their way, in case you're interested."
Blaine groaned. "Han, tell me you didn't call them."
"Look, are we trying to hit the right pressure points or aren't we?!"
"He has a point…." Wes gestured. "I mean, I know my parents will flip out and kill me, but you know, it'll be like…out of…love…." He dropped his head into his hand. "I'm going to die."
"You're going to die?" Dwight's hiss was just this side of hysterical. "You do not get to complain. You do not know my mother."
"Have you met mine?" Reed remarked.
"Hear that? That's the sound of my patience going this low." Charlie held up a smidge of space between his fingers. "Dwight. According to plan, now."
"That's all I'm good for around here, being the cavalry…." Dwight muttered. Kurt's eyes widened when Dwight raised what looked like a rather ornate silver crossbow, with a sight attached to it.
Balanced precariously on the barricade, Dwight took a position, carefully aiming for his target. Down the road, they could see limousines approaching. They were moving quickly.
"Are you sure about this?" Kurt whispered, watching the payload of Dwight's quarrel.
"I've got it," Dwight whispered.
"Steady…" Charlie removed his hand from the younger boys' shoulder to let him go on. Dwight breathed slowly, eyes looking into the scope of his crossbow as he leveled it. He had to shoot just right. He had never shot a mark this far before. "I can do this…."
The target was getting closer. Wes watched in apprehension, the rest of the Windsors tense. "You're going to miss it—"
"No, I'm not." Dwight muttered without moving.
"Dwight…" Blaine murmured, staring at the target, which was still moving.
"I can do it…" he replied, arrow aimed. His hand was perfectly still, with all the air of a master marksman. And yet... Kurt looked worriedly from the crossbow to the target. Moving towards them.
"Come on, little Knight!" the Twins whispered.
Dwight exhaled, dark eyes gazing intensely through the scope and at the target. Right at the windshield, moving, coming closer. It was now or never.
He pulled the trigger.
The projectile flew into the air. Forty yards away, it landed with a neat little thud! onto the hood of the first limousine, making everyone in it jump. On the tail of the quarrel fluttered a little sign.
The limo braked into a screeching halt, bringing up dust and smoke and the smell of rubber. The rest of the cars, moving behind, started to slow down and stop when they saw the first's abrupt halt.
"Lead limousine has been stopped," Han reported.
"Yes!" The Windsors were jubilant.
And from the hissing limousine, a door opened. Out stepped Colin Brightman, looking confused. Behind him stepped out a couple of the board members, who looked equally puzzled, especially as he walked towards the hood of the limo, reaching out for the quarrel.
"Everyone, to your posts, now!" Blaine hissed into the com. Everyone scattered.
"Colin, what the heck is going on?" Mr. Sullivan demanded as he emerged from another car. "Why did you stop?"
In response, Mr. Brightman turned and waved the quarrel to him. There was the slamming of another door, and Ford Houston, eyes locking onto the quarrel, let out a deep sigh. "Oh god. Here we go."
Burt Hummel stepped out of his car, glanced to Carole Hudson-Hummel and then towards the school. When the smoke and dust cleared, he whistled. "…That is effort."
"What is?" Mr. Anderson asked, turning around.
When the smoke cleared away, they saw it: the massive barricade that the boys of Dalton Academy had erected and completed beyond the rail fence. It was stacked so high that it rose nearly two feet over the height of the rail itself. The main gate was completely blocked off by a high mound of school tables and chairs and heavy luggage.
There was no way through the barricade.
"This is…" Senator Wright choked as he looked at it. "What the hell did those boys do?"
Mr. and Mrs. Westwood stared in wonder at it. "They've turned it into a fortress."
It was Ms. Medel who braved the line first. She looked up at the wall and tried to move forward to the gate. She got as close as ten feet and abruptly stopped when a spray of water pumped from a powerful water pistol splashed into the ground not far from her toes.
"Well!" she stared. "Alright then."
"Reed!" Mrs. Van Kamp cried shrilly as she also tried to move towards the school. "Reed, if you are in there, you had better come out right now! I mean it, young man!"
No response but the blowing wind.
The coms crackled. "Most have stepped out of the vehicles. News crews are still en route, but parents and staff are here. If we're going to do this, the time is now."
"What is going on here?!" Dean Ramsey demanded.
Breathless, Blaine clicked on the com. "Now."
And there are Houses with Kings…
And Blaine grabbed the nearby baseball bat. He handed it to Charlie, but the prefect only gestured for him to do the honors. Nodding in return, Blaine took the bat, walked to the nearest bit of furniture, and knocked it hard, three times, onto the posts.
It was a beat that echoed through the air of the morning. It was like a battle drum. Hundreds of other hands and feet followed, some of them beating instruments to the walls, to the floor, some clapping, some stamping their feet, all an answering echo to Blaine.
And the voices rose.
This is a call to arms…
Time to go to war…
This is a battle song…
Brothers and sisters;
Time to go to war…
Their voices echoed through the grounds. Groups started pouring out from all of the buildings, all of them carrying "armor" and "weapons". None of their armaments, from the nerf bats to the super soakers, were lethal.
Everyone was running. They came rushing out into the grounds from Windsor, Stuart, Hanover, South and Main—virtually every corner of the school; they were cheering and yelling, banners waving. It was inhuman. It was adrenaline.
Over the rush, running alongside Kurt, Blaine grinned.
Did you ever believe?
Were you ever a dreamer?
Ever imagine heart open and free?
The parents took a step back in shock as the roar of hundreds of young voices rose from inside school grounds. Dalton boys swarmed over the grounds, feet pounding into the earth and the pavements. It was a stampede, a rush of screaming, crying bodies, hurtling towards them in single-minded determination.
Logan took the song as he stormed forward with them.
Did you ever deny?
Were you ever a traitor?
Ever in love with your blood-lust and need?
The bodies hit the barricade and made it groan. People outside cried out in alarm as the bodies slammed in, hands reaching up, climbing, many tearing upwards, throwing their bodies over. Those outside stepped back and saw the students starting to appear from virtually everywhere—so many, all roaring in support of Dalton's boys.
Running to the barricade, waving Windsor's flag, the Twins led the voices of the Warblers, New Directions, the Terpsichores, the Cheerios, the Banshees, and every single person who had decided to lend their strength.
This is a call to arms…
Time to go to war…
This is a battle song…
Brothers and sisters;
Time to go to war…
The roaring resumed anew. The crowd of faculty members, staff, and all the parents stared in shock as the hundreds of students appeared over and around the barricades, pressed to the fences, waving their flags, banners, and foam weapons. All of them crying out the roar of hundreds of voices, the words of the song leading them.
Over the fences, Colin Brightman saw banners with their messages clear:
KEEP DALTON ALIVE.
"I don't believe it…." Senator Wright stared.
Kurt scanned the crowd below, taking in how more and more of the crowd were starting to come close. Cameras and phones pointed to them, taking photographs of the spectacle, recording the sound of their voices and their shouts.
General Willis, standing with Richard Bancroft stared, was aghast. Dean Ramsey moved forward, with an expression bordering on amazement.
Parents were yelling for their children to come down and to stop. They were drowned out by the roar. They seemed almost muted, so distant, so small compared to the power of their combined voices.
Knowing fully well their families were in this throng, Reed and Shane took up the song.
Ever want to be free?
Do you even remember?
Want to beguile the devil like me?
To a spray of explosive confetti adding to the din and the noise, Wes moved up the barricade with David, in full view.
Ever want to just stop?
Do you want to surrender?
Or fight for victory?
The roar almost died away, falling into softness, as there was the sound of climbing, and Kurt stood tall at the highest point of the main gate barricade. His eyes took the color of the sky overhead, and his voice was clear.
Here we are at the start…
I can feel the beating of our hearts…
Here we are at the start…
He looked around him, to all the students on their side of the battle line, and nodded. Blaine readily reached up and linked a free hand to him. The Windsors began to grab onto each other, followed by the Stuarts and Hanovers. Hands and arms rapidly began to link to one another, making an even more solid wall.
"Hurry, let's get them down from there, this is ridiculous!"
Overhead, the sun was blotted out by the clouds.
More and more groups comprised of staff and parents began to charge forward. A hose, dragged in by the boys from behind the barricade switched on. The parabola of water rose from behind the barricade and started to rain in pelting drops onto everyone on the barricade and the gates. It was enough to drive back the group trying to get in; it was as though a storm had come over everything, its drops drumming into the earth.
Watching, hands gripped tight to their schoolmates, Charlie and Justin stood firm, solid foundations for the rest of their classmates on the wall structure. They would not let anyone's hands slip as the water fell over them all.
Darkness falls here comes the rain…
To wash away the past and the names…
Climbing up to the highest points, Derek and Spencer nearly hurled themselves upward. The world around them was drenched, the water pelting into the ground.
Darkness fall here comes the rain…
To end it all; the blood and the games…
Bailey, Danny, and the rest of the Warblers had their arms linked together to keep each other steady and unfailing. Their voices rose strong over the rain; the crowd was beginning to roar again.
Far, far away in a land that time can't change…
Long, long ago in a place of hearts and ghosts…
Breathless, Dwight still stood where he had been from the beginning, holding onto his friends tightly, and taking strength from them, he sang with everything he had.
Far, far away in a land that time can't change…
Long, long ago in a place of hearts and ghosts…!
The entire crowd erupted into cheers and roars, drowning out the shouts below them. The cacophony was tremendous.
The sun broke from the clouds and the water was finally shut down from behind the barricade. Everything was soaked and dripping. The cheering continued as the crowd of onlookers grew in size. All the cameras aimed at them, this was making the morning news—that hundreds of students came to Dalton Academy to protest its closing.
That was when the head of the school board, followed by a great number of Legacies and many of the boys' parents, materialized in front of the gate, and stared resolutely at the students.
The last note hung in the air, thrumming, as though it was waiting.
The White Rabbit, The March Hare, the Hatter, Dormouse, the Twins, are all as real as they could be….
The change happened softly at first, then got stronger as they realized it—the thrumming combination of voices, so familiar to all now, as the Warblers moved towards each other. Down below, the parents and staff looked on in amazement as the Warblers continued to sing, their voices getting louder, stronger.
Finally, they erupted into a melody that the crowd of protesters recognized instantly and a cheer overtook the entire barricade, and even beyond it as the crowd watching from below began to smile in spite of themselves.
The Warblers looked proudly at each other, helping each other climb to the highest points of the barricade, staying around each other and their voices sounding over everything.
As all eyes flew to him, Kurt raised his voice first.
Into the night…
Desperate and broken…
The sound of a fight…
Father has spoken…
The Warblers brought their voices together once more as the students lifted their banners and weapons into the air, cheering wildly, many trying to sing along with them, intensifying the song that echoed through the entire place, and into the live feeds, as thousands of onlookers stared.
Blaine led the others.
We were the kings and queens of promise…
We were the victims of ourselves…
Maybe the children of a lesser God,
Between Heaven and Hell,
Heaven and Hell…
The parents looked to each other now, as their children and their friends continued to hold onto each other on top of that precarious, wild barricade, their voices overpowering the cries of those below them. They were making their voices heard, and they were not going to stop. Even those who weren't Warblers—they sang with everything they had.
Wes kept close to David and Danny from their position on top of a spiral made of luggage and chairs.
Into your eyes…
Hopeless and taken…
We stole our new lives…
Through blood and name…
Reed's voice rose next, the boy not realizing that his mother gazed up at him with something like amazement. To his delighted surprise, Shane joined him, hands making sure he was stood steady in the wind.
In defense of our dreams;
In defense of our dreams…
Blaine caught sight of Ms. Medel. She stood in front of the gates, watching them. But she was smiling at them, the way she always did when she was in practice with them. She did not seem too surprised, nor did she seem as though she was going to do anything like stopping them.
As the group continued to sing the chorus, the students doing the same, powered on by them, Medel watched with great admiration. She smiled, as though she were watching a fireworks display, and not merely a group of teenagers standing on a makeshift wall created of anything they found.
And Medel, looking at her students, decided that if Greg could see them, he'd be proud.
Or he'd be up there with them, knowing him.
The Legacies were starting to gather together. Many of them hissed and whispered and tried to be heard, but there was no doubt that many of them kept looking back at their sons and the other boys on the barricade.
The Senator happened to glance once, and did a double take when he saw Logan take a step forward. He was standing close to the very edge, as he was wont to do, the wind rippled at him, but he wasn't afraid.
He had stood in places higher, after all, and had jumped off them to live.
The age of man is over…
A darkness comes at dawn…
Senator Wright made an odd sound in his throat, and stepped towards the wall, to his son. But he was stopped immediately by Ford Houston, who shot him a look that told him to stay right where he was.
Ford raised his eyes to the legacy that he sent into Dalton: Dwight. He had been the one standing closest to Logan at the barricade, and he with the others helped draw him back to a safer perch.
Ford wasn't sure if he'd ever heard his reticent nephew raise his voice this way, looking absolutely without fear at the horde below. He had the same impassioned determination he had when facing anything in the world—from his demons within, to those beyond it.
These lessons that we've learned here…
Have only just begun…
The Warblers surged forward to the conspirators who stood out in the front lines, lending their support as their voices came together again. The Twins kept close to Alice and the Rabbit, the Dormouse with his face alight, the Hare and the Hatter almost laughing together, and the Knave looking warm.
And Kurt thought, We have this.
We were the kings and queens of promise,
We were the victims of ourselves.
Maybe the children of a lesser God,
Between Heaven and Hell.
That song held in the air as everyone burst into cheers and roars, fluttering their banners in the wind and the Dalton boys almost jumping up and down, screaming, holding onto each other. No matter what happened, they had this.
In this pandemonium, Kurt watched as the school board president and some of his staff, joined by many of the legacy parents, began to form a clump in front of the main throng of the Warblers and students.
That one can survive the heart of an inferno….
The most conspicuous of the Dalton boys now began to descend from the front of the barricade. They were going to penetrate the gate, and face their opponents head on. The boys took their spots in the entryway like the defenders on a chessboard, and scattering like dealt cards to face the opponents that they knew best.
"Boys," the school board president said in clear finality, the banners still waving overhead, "You have to stop this immediately. The decision had already been made yesterday. Your parents have been present to witness it. The decision is final."
"We're sorry, sir, we don't believe anything is final," Charlie Amos told them. In his hand was a baseball glove. Windsors were flinging streamers into the air behind him.
"Because you're out there, and we're in here," Logan Wright added. He had papers crumpling in his shaking fist, though his voice was calm. The Stuarts were joining in the noise, slamming athletic gear against the shelves.
"And I'm afraid to say that the boys of Dalton Academy refuse to leave until you have changed your minds." Justin Bancroft smiled. His hands were behind his back, but he held an envelope with a golden seal. The Hanovers were chanting the battle cry, "Keep Dalton Alive."
Mr. Brightman watched all this, and then looked at his twin boys, who stood opposite him, identical and smiling calmly. Ford Houston nodded to himself as he saw Dwight step a little closer, as though ready to defend against anything.
Finally, Mr. Anderson snapped, "And what makes you think that we can't have you boys taken out of there?"
The cacophony started to die away as all attention turned to the boys who stood before the barricade now, waiting for their response.
Blaine stood before his father without fear now, Shane to his left, Kurt to his right. In Blaine's hands was the letter signed by Gregory Harvey, who had been as much as a Dalton boys as any of them.
"You can," Blaine told him. "But you won't. None of you will."
"And why is that?" Senator Wright asked him.
"Because you came from this place too." Kurt stepped forward now. "You know as well as anyone, and as well as we do, that there's something that's in this school that does things to you. It changes you to something better. You need time to figure it out, as I did when I first came here. But once you realize it's happening, you pass it on. You don't stop it—you pass it to the next generation. It was yours. But now it's ours. Too many Dalton boys have done what they could to protect this place and the students in it, and we won't let them down as much as we won't let ourselves down."
He carefully took Harvey's letter from Blaine. Kurt continued, raising his voice a little, as he held the letter up. "Mr. Harvey was one of them. You remember him, don't you?" A murmuring streamed through the crowd. Kurt blinked away the brief mist.
"He was the teacher who stayed behind, so every single person inside that hall could make it out. He was one of you, and one of us. He was a prefect of Windsor, and he was a Dalton student: one that knew well enough what this place could do. That's why he came back to teach here. He passed it on to us, and he protected us. And he didn't do all that…he didn't give it all up…just to have you guys shut it down."
"I'm afraid one teacher doesn't define the whole school." The board president said primly.
"And one student's mistake shouldn't define every student in it either!" Blaine snapped.
Then everyone around him mumbled among themselves at this. The Dalton boys looked apprehensive. Blaine swallowed, eyed all the watching cameras, and kept going, "What that guy did…he has serious problems and he's being treated for them. But he isn't all of us. What he did doesn't represent the rest of us, this school, how we feel...and he doesn't represent the rest of you."
Surprised, House Head Howard asked, "What are you talking about?"
"I think I found friends who may be my friends for life,"David suddenly spoke. He was holding a letter, but he kept his eyes on his father, willing him to remember. The expression on Mr. Sullivan's face changed entirely, and he stared in wonder at his son. "When I have a son, I want him to have those same things."
"We just have to do what we can," Derek told his father, staring intently. His hands shook, and for a moment, Mr. Siegerson looked as though he wanted to go up to them and hold them steady. "We do our best. And however this turns out, we know we did right in the end."
"Some decisions are too important to delegate to someone else," Justin murmured, and his father looked up at him. Lord Bancroft began to slowly nod, as though holding back a smile. "There are some choices we must fight for. We think you'll make those right choices too. Because we won't let you take this one from us."
Dwight kept his eyes down on the ground, even though it was Ford who wanted him to look up. But he too closed his eyes when Dwight choked out, "I've seen my share of demons. Both in me and out. But what I know for a fact is, in this place, you get to find people who'll fight your demons with you."
Kurt was starting to smile, hands carefully holding the sheet of handwritten text. Like every single Dalton boy in the barricade, he was holding a letter that came from days long past. He glanced to his schoolmates still on the barricade, and smiled. Reed and the others waved back, holding their own letters.
They held these letters with pride. This was the idea that the Dalton boys had prepared. This was their ammunition for the siege, their counterargument. They would not resort to the pranks and tricks they were so good at. This time, they would use courage they had gleaned from their days here, and from the courage lent by these letters from all the boys who had gone into the school.
They would have to bring back everything the school stood for, and remind everyone who had forgotten. To use voices from then and from now.
Senator Wright looked up when Logan planted his feet in front of him. "So we hope you know that we won't give up." His gaze held his father's, and never wavered. "Giving up isn't an option for us anymore. You've robbed us of that."
"What?" the board president stared.
"You forgot what this school is for and what it did for you," Logan replied. And he looked to his father again and continued, "And all these things that were left for us that you wanted us to find. Where you failed in that, we will succeed. We won't give up. We won't forget home. We're fighting for it now."
Blaine smiled and nodded, before he faced the school board president. "Sir, I might not be a legacy like the other guys, but a lot of us actually aren't. The thing is, even without those words…your words, actually," he gestured to the legacies, who then looked startled, "even without the words from you…a lot of us already knew what this place was for us."
He looked around. "Yes, something terrible happened. It was huge and awful, and it frightened all of us. I know it as well as anybody. But no one could've predicted this to happen or wanted this to happen. What's important is how we deal with it. Dalton can't just crumple into itself and fall because of this. Not when someone died to make sure that we'd make it past this. Not when all of us are here, and we're willing to fight for it."
"We were taught to be strong by this school, by you, and by each other," Logan declared, Derek at his side, coming to stand with Blaine and Kurt. "You've made us strong. And now we're at least strong enough to tell you that we're not going to allow you to take it all back now."
The Twins, who had been watching their quiet father, now smiled and raised their weapons, looking to the barricade. "What do you guys say?! Are we staying in this school?!"
Kurt cringed with a laugh at the answering roar of cheering and applause rocked the entire barricade.
There is a place called Warblerland…
St. Patrick's students were joining in, cheering loudly. "Let them keep their school!" the players were howling.
Like a troop of Amazons, the Dobry girls roared and pounded onto the shelves and furniture along with the others. "You're going to have to take us down with them!" Katherine was yelling, her voice breaking mid-sentence and making David smile.
Laughing, David saluted her and the girls before giving Blaine a light punch on the shoulder and a nod. "Good speech, man."
"Shut up…." Blaine laughed and shook his head. He kept Kurt close by—Kurt was staring up at his friends on the barricade.
"Don't give up on Dalton Academy!" New Directions was going to shout themselves hoarse if they kept at it. Mr. Schuester, who had arrived with the families the minute he had received Artie's text about their whereabouts, shook his head slowly with a small laugh as he clapped along with the others. He walked towards the barricade and Kurt ran forward to him.
"Mr. Schue!" he grinned. "You're here!"
"Where else would I be?" he smiled. The Dalton boys grinned as they made space. Mr. Schuester stood to face the rest of the crowd and reached out a hand to Ms. Medel who readily stepped forward to join him.
"Sylvia, what are you doing?" Mr. Murdoch demanded as the cheers rose even higher.
"Helping the boys, of course," she told him, as though it should have been obvious. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Bradley, really; you're the alumni here." And she proudly grabbed the Twins' hands and stood with them, leaving Mr. Murdoch to stare, aghast.
To their surprise, even the people in the crowd—the onlookers, the alumni, the parents—began to applaud with them. Many of those present started to clap along with them, albeit a little hesitantly.
"Oh to hell with it. It's either they win or we lose our jobs anyway." Todd Howard pushed past the crowd and walked up to the students.
"Whoa!" Charlie jumped back for a moment, preparing for the worst, but he visibly relaxed when the House Head linked his arm to theirs and stood facing the school board with them.
"Alright there, Charlie?" he asked. "No fire alarms today?"
"Not today, sir," the prefect grinned.
The Hanovers cheered as Mr. Newman walked up to them, chuckling, proudly shaking their hands as he joined them. And as Madame Saint-Clair and Mrs. Abernathy hurried over to them, Dean Ramsey moved forward to consider the growing support.
"Awful lonely out there, Liz!" Medel smiled. "Are you not going to join us?"
"Yeah, come on, Dean Ramsey!" Reed called out, grinning.
"Come on, Dean Ramsey, you know you love us!" Wes called brightly. "We're your regulars!"
"Admit it, you're going to miss us if they close the place down!" David yelled, laughing.
"Life won't be as exciting!" the Twins exclaimed, waving wildly, as Ramsey dropped her face into a hand.
"Uh, guys, are we trying to get her to join us, or get her to against keeping this place open?" Kurt asked them with a strained smile as the Windsors cheered and whistled. His disapproval didn't last long—especially when he saw Burt and Carole moving towards them. "Dad!"
"Make room, huh? Come on, scoot." Reed happily skipped aside and Burt smiled, taking his son's other hand. He didn't say anything else as he joined the human barricade, but his eyes told Kurt volumes of his pride.
As Mr. and Mrs. Westwood, encouraged, hurried over along with other parents who have decided to take the boys' side. Dean Ramsey sighed and waved them off.
"I will only be a moment…" and she walked towards the school board and the alumni. The boys started cheering even louder, firing nerf bullets into the air to add to the noise. The human barricade grew.
As the chorusing continued, Ramsey walked to the group of men. "I know these boys well, sir," she sighed at last, addressing no particular person. "They're as hardheaded as they come. Well nigh incorrigible. There isn't a week that goes by that I don't have one of them in my office, or that something absolutely mad happens, but…" she glanced back a moment, as more staff and a few alums began to join the boys, "…they seem to be doing better with each year they spend in school. Some of them in leaps and bounds."
She leveled her gaze at one particular person standing next to the school board president. "Headmaster Winters, wouldn't you agree?"
The Headmaster only stared back at her, contemplative. "I suppose so…"
Mr. Brightman, the other parents, and the rest of the most important of the alumni watched their sons. The father of the twins looked to the school board president, and said, "Well…we made them the way they are. Us, and this school. It's not as though we're the ones who live in it now. It's come a long way from what it used to be."
"A reformatory for delinquent boys, you mean?" Mr. Sullivan laughed softly.
"How are they any different, then?" frowned Senator Wright. "Challenging authority, setting this all up, drawing the security away and causing all that…damage. What makes them different from delinquents, then?"
"Soldiers fight for a cause," Paxton Willis finally replied. He was watching them with something akin to pride. "They're fighting for one."
"It's on us now, isn't it?" Ford Houston told them, looking around. "What'll it be, gentlemen?"
Kurt felt his hands shaking from where they were held firmly by Blaine's and his father's, when the men in the small huddle broke apart. He watched as Headmaster stepped away, pushing past the reporters and encroaching cameras, and began to walk to them.
He stopped a few feet from them, and gestured for the prefects of each student group to step forward. And when they moved forward, he also gestured to Blaine, Kurt, and Logan, the people he knew who led the Warblers.
Kurt walked forward with his jaw set.
And we can save the school.
The headmaster looked up to see Kurt pausing at the door of the office, about to leave. "Yes, Mr. Hummel?"
"What did…um…." Kurt fully faced him again, confused. It had been days since, but this question had nagged at him. "…What did they say? The other alumni and the board, all of you had already decided to close the school, but…what did they say to you before you walked up to us? What happened to all their arguments?"
Winters considered this svelte boy who, as he already known after all the stories, was likely the catalyst that the school had probably needed. This was the one they all called "Alice", who stumbled into their land and changed everything.
"Well…I'll try to explain, Mr. Hummel," the headmaster replied. He set down the memory card that had Kurt's statement in it, and put it down onto his desk with some paperwork. "You see, as late as twenty five years ago, Dalton Academy was a school where boys of a…well, slightly troubled nature were sent to. It was known for teaching boys how to express themselves better, to grow into themselves without having to act out on their more violent impulses."
"What." Kurt stared. Did that mean that the legacies—like Mr. Houston, Mr. Sullivan, Lord Bancroft, Senator Wright for goodness' sakes; were they sent here to be reformed from the renegades they used to be. Which had to be…impossible, right?
"It's not as bad as it sounds," the headmaster laughed softly. "But I suppose you can see where Dalton's tradition of rambunctiousness comes from. It was only in the last two decades when we really managed to establish this school into a preparatory for fine young men. The boys who graduated here had believed in this school so much, had been changed by it so much that…well…they wanted their sons to have the same chance to experience what they did."
He straightened up a photograph of this year's students on his wall before he faced Kurt again. "Two things, really. First, that in spite of that incredible display of regulation breaking with the barricade and protest, you boys are doing far, far better than we were back in our day." He smiled. "Dean Ramsey had many things to say about you all."
Now that was honestly a surprise. Kurt smiled faintly. "And the second thing?"
"The second thing…" the headmaster nodded, "…is that the last time anyone tried to shut down this school, it failed, and things changed for the better. I'm happy to say that the same boys who had saved it once were standing outside the school when you all staged your own protest to save it."
Kurt couldn't remember when his mouth came open, but he reminded himself dimly to close it. "They…what?"
"You boys have no idea about the magnitude of what you did," Headmaster Winters smiled. "You didn't just show us what you could do when you work together, all of you. But you also reminded us that you all could be even greater, overcome even bigger things. And we couldn't deprive you all of the chance to do that in these hallowed halls." He gestured around the room and beamed at Kurt.
"And…" Kurt's heart leapt, eyes wide. "And that means…."
"Yes, Mr. Hummel. It's official now." The headmaster walked to the great windows and considered the grounds of Dalton Academy.
The boys had descended from the barricade and gathered into a crowd in front of the gate, anxiously waiting as the prefects and the Warblers came up to them. During the time they had been talking, the cries from the barricade had gone quiet, as though everyone was trying to hear the answer.
The discussion was almost too lengthy, and just a shade too nerve-wracking. But now the boys looked somber, walking away from Headmaster Winters. Nervous, the rest of the students approached their leaders.
"Well?" Wes asked, worried, David next to him. The Twins glanced to their impassive father, and back to their Alice and Rabbit.
"Do we…" Reed was biting his nails and Shane gently batted the fingers away from his mouth. The boys were silent. "…Do we get to stay?"
"What did they say?" Derek clutched onto Logan's sleeve, with just the smallest fraction of desperation in his voice. "Lo, what did they say?"
Danny raised his eyes to his prefect. "Justin?"
Charlie nudged Blaine and nodded to him, as though finally giving him permission to speak. It seems the Windsor prefect would rather look up at the sky and blink away what looked like tears.
"Oh…" the Windsors, watching, felt something leaden drop.
"They, uh…" Blaine finally began, staring at the distance. He seemed to lose his nerve and dropped his gaze to the hands fisted to his sides. "That said they're still going to talk more amongst themselves, and to all of us, individually and as a group about it and all, to discuss everything so it's all clear, but…."
The boys let out their breaths, crushed at what this all meant. The decision was a decision. Drew and Satoru shook their heads, crestfallen, as Han pushed his head into his hands. Shane gathered up Reed, who wanted to cry. Dwight had to turn around and breathe.
And then Blaine raised his head at last. His eyes were shining.
"Dalton stays open."
The look on the boys' faces was something Kurt was eternally grateful to be holding Reed's camera for. Eyes wide, mouths open in shock, it was the flash that woke them and suddenly, everyone was jumping and screaming, their joy like a shockwave.
The kids at the barricade went entirely ballistic, their euphoria almost bringing the whole structure into a crash as hundreds poured down from the structure. Countless confetti poppers imploded overhead. It was snowing rainbow colors and the students were screaming at the top of their lungs and hurling themselves onto the Warblers and the boys down below.
"We did it!" The Windsors were screaming, grabbing onto anyone they could hold, not even caring if it wasn't even a Dalton student. "We did it! We saved the school!"
Joining in the cheering, Kurt opened his arms to embrace his boyfriend but instead found himself enveloped in a bone-crushing hug from the Twins—he was lifted completely off the ground, his toes barely touching the earth. "Ow! Still tender! Tender!" he squirmed in their grip.
"Thank you, Alice!" The Twins cried, still hugging him, very nearly snuggling, in spite of Blaine's best efforts to peel them away from Kurt.
"Please don't kiss me," Kurt begged, cringing. "Let go of me right now please!"
He was dropped straight into Blaine's arms. "Hey," Kurt blinked, a little stunned, and the Twins skipped away to jump onto Logan, who howled.
"Hey," Blaine breathed, a little flushed, and he set him back down on his feet. Stammering, he managed to laugh. "We…I can't believe it, we did it!"
"I knew we would," Kurt grinned. He laughed when a particularly large burst of confetti landed over them both. "Okay, maybe not entirely believed it, but I wasn't taking no for an answer this time."
"Thank you." When Blaine surged forward to embrace him, it was sudden, enveloping, and Kurt could only return it, holding tight. Blaine held him like he was holding on for dear life, and Kurt's hands fisted onto the back of Blaine's jacket. He felt Blaine's face pressed into his shoulder, and Kurt closed his eyes.
I'm not going to say goodbye to you.
"Thank you," Blaine repeated, muffled. "For this."
"It was for me too…." Kurt reminded him.
"Then…we have time." Blaine murmured. "Lots of time?"
"Until senior year anyway…." Kurt smiled.
They weren't sure how long they stood there, the confetti falling, people screaming around them, being jostled about by their friends who were bouncing off of each other in joy. He didn't mind not being able to really take part—he would consider it once he and Blaine have managed to get their bearings back.
The echoing cries of delight that day at the barricade was almost identical to the cheering that took place when they all emerged out of the Headmasters' Office.
Dalton boys and Dobry girls were crammed in the hall, waiting anxiously for the final confirmation of Dalton Academy's fate. Kurt stepped out with the others, and watched as Charlie informed the student body that the school would stay open.
Blaine had no idea where all this confetti was coming from, but he was certain that the Brightmans had something to do with it. The balloons, the silly string, the madness—echoing off the old walls, the delight seemed louder than when it had been at the barricade.
Some of the boys were literally bouncing off the walls as Kurt and Blaine walked amongst them. Everyone in the school had officially lost their minds and Kurt just laughed, shaking his head, holding onto Blaine's hand as they ran down that ridiculous hallway. Just as they did on the very first day they met—albeit without the confetti and papers and madness that they now had falling around them.
The joy, the adrenaline, was contagious, and they were all infected. Song and laughter and cheering filled the air, and Reed, guided by Todd, happily took out the camera to take some memories. It was not very difficult—apart from the victory, there was apparently more news.
"Yes!" Bailey was laughing hysterically into a phone. "We did it, we actually did it and everything's going to be okay!" He was beaming at his schoolmates. "Yeah. I know. But I'm glad you called. I didn't know you cared!" he teased, and dissolved to laughter, nodding. "Don't worry. I'll keep taking care of things here. I'll see you soon."
"Friend?" Thad asked, tossing him a can of silly string.
"Better." Bailey sprayed him in the face.
As everyone celebrated, Sydney Willis walked up to Merril Portman and said, "It's a time of good news! So I guess it's fitting I give you this now. It's too bad, Merril. Looks like your school stays open. But just in case you're still interested anyway…"
With the blue and white envelope in her hand, Merril's brow furrowed. "What's this?" she tore it open, pulled the paper out, and the envelope fluttered to the floor.
"Merril?" Spencer asked, worried.
"Sydney…." Merril looked up, eyes wide, and filling with tears. "This…."
"Congratulations," Sydney's smile was bright. "You have been accepted into Dobry School for Girls. The first one to ever transfer from Dalton. We hope that even though Dalton stays open…you'll consider spending senior year with us."
Spencer's cry exploded out of him—he and Merril grabbed each other at the same time. He held her tight as she burst into tears, hand covering her eyes as she sobbed.
Justin and Danny arrived at their side and saw her crying. Spencer could only look back at them and smile through his own tears.
"Did she…?" Justin asked, "…Dobry Hall?"
Spencer nodded. Danny let out a breath of pure happiness and joined in hugging Merril. All of the Hanovers were piling on.
Justin walked up to Sydney, grinning, and hugged his fellow prefect. "Thank you. I think you've just made her year."
"She deserves it," Sydney said firmly, returning the embrace. "She deserves everything she hopes for."
"Does that include your brother?" Justin teased.
"Shut up, Bancroft." She laughed and pushed him away, shaking her head.
Reed happily snapped a photo of the Hanovers and the Dobry girls with them, grinning, knowing very well that this photos was going to go into Merril's shelf in the archives, since she was leaving their ranks soon.
At that moment, David flew past them, searching through the crowd of Dobry girls, looking around frantically before he spotted her. He a beeline for Katherine, sweeping her up and twirling her in the air. "We get to stay! Katherine, we get to stay forever!"
"Yes, yes, I know!" she was laughing hysterically, hugging him. "Well, hopefully not forever, because college, David, but I knew you guys would, I knew you would!" She kissed him and held his arms when her feet touched the ground again.
"Katherine!" David breathed, eyes bright and holding her hands. Energy was coursing through his body and he was reckless with courage. "Katherine—marry me."
"What?" she froze, staring at him in shock. A clump of confetti fell with a smack onto her head.
"Marry me." David breathed, holding her hands tight. He fell onto his knees.
Wes, watching nearby, lost his mind and grabbed onto Dwight, shaking him violently in excitement; so much that Dwight's pendants jingled like a wind chime. Dwight merely stood there without so much as a change in his deadpan expression and allowed the shaking to continue, inured by now.
"Katherine Rivers," David breathed—and she had made him swear ages ago that if he were ever to attempt it, that he would not mount any spectacle involving candlelight and overly romantic gestures, or so help her, she would shove the ring down his throat; and so he felt somehow safe and a million times more anxious—and he produced a box he'd been carrying for so long. "Katherine Rivers, will you marry me?"
The Windsors went ballistic. Katherine burst into tears and she reached out to kiss David through the rainfall on her face. "Why do you ask the silliest questions at the silliest times?!" she demanded, sobbing. "Of course I will, you crazy thing, of course I will!"
Dozens of bodies slammed into the happy couple, going crazy as they cheered. David held Katherine tight in his arms, nose buried into his hair, and wondered how many people were lucky enough to have met the love of their lives so soon.
Katherine sobbed out to him, "Oh...ohh...I want a Harry Potter wedding...!"
"You want a what?" David stared.
"You heard me! A Harry Potter wedding!"
Flustered, and still on a high from her accepting that she could have asked for a wedding ring encrusted in moon rock and he would've agreed, David only burst into a laugh and nodded. "Okay—okay sure, whatever you want, we can do that!"
Wes nodded at Reed, who happily took a snapshot of the two. A Dalton wedding—the first of its kind in recent memory—was definitely one for the history books.
"Oh my god," Katherine's friend, Casey, burst into laughter, clapping wildly. "You're getting married! Katherine, you're getting married! David gets to stay and Katherine gets to get married, oh my go—"
"They're going to what?" Derek appeared next to her, confused, having missed the whole thing.
Casey screamed and leapt into his arms in joy. "A wedding! David and Katherine! They're having a wedding!"
Derek didn't respond. He was too busy realizing that he had her in his arms and she was embracing him. When he tightened his embrace, Casey seemed to realize as well, and she flushed deeply. "I…"
"I'm an idiot," Derek told her immediately, staring with something like hopeless desperation. It spilled out of him unbidden, and he had the nasty feeling that he was going to go to bed tonight with humiliation still fresh. "I'm the biggest idiot in the world. Monumental. Everything you've said about me, you've thought about me, you're right. You're absolutely right, and I'm a terrible person."
"Shut up." Casey was flustered, getting back onto her feet and smacking his arm. "This—this isn't the time! What is wrong with you, this is a happy time! Happy! So be happy, damn it!"
Derek didn't answer that one. He was too busy marveling at the fact that she wrapped her slender fingers around his and dragged him off to celebrate with the others.
"Hey!" Reed cried, laughing, as the Twins snatched the camera and took a photo of Derek's face as Casey pulled him away.
"Blackmail!" They whispered, before pressing the camera back into Reed's hands, and fleeing the scene immediately. Reed only burst out laughing.
The twins passed Logan, who had been watching Derek. They grinned at him, smacking their hands onto his shoulders a touch too hard before taking a flying leap onto Charlie, who howled.
Logan only shrugged in return and rose to his feet, pushing his hands into his pockets. It was a victory, for all of them. The biggest thing they had managed to do in all their years at Dalton so far. It was a huge victory. And he knew he should be happy to win, especially when he did anything that won over his father, but….
The silence that he heard in his head blocked off the cacophony in the halls. It was like the air had fled the room, as Logan watched as Kurt and Blaine stood apart from the others. He watched as something quiet, something detached from the celebrations, took place. He had seen them tuck themselves away from the loudness, finding a quiet place, with just each other.
They were ensconced by one of the great curtained windows. They stood very close, and they whispered to each other. And Logan watched them lean their foreheads together. In Blaine's hands was a flash of color—it looked like a ring made entirely of bubblegum wrappers.
He was whispering something, something only for Kurt, something he wanted to say, after the many times he had nearly lost him in this month alone.
And Logan, standing there, realized that with this victory for their school, with an endless unknown facing them, everything around him was about to change.
"What are you promising?" Kurt whispered.
"To always love you," Blaine replied. He stared into Kurt's eyes and didn't waver. "To defend you even if I know you're wrong. To surprise you. To always pick up your call no matter what I'm doing. To bake you cookies at least twice a year and to kiss you whenever and wherever you want. Mostly to make sure you remember how perfectly imperfect you are."
Kurt pressed his fingers to Blaine's lips, gently, to quiet him. "I love you."
Blaine looked at Kurt as though he were his whole world. He took the hand that was on his lips. "I love you too."
Closing his eyes, Logan shut out the sight. He had never heard any vow with that kind of gravity before. He wished that he hadn't listened. The words were not his to hear, and though not very long ago, he would've willingly intruded—he felt shame for listening at all.
He realized something true along with his words: that Blaine would keep to his word come hell or high water, and that Logan, no matter how strongly he felt for Kurt, would never be able to match the conviction with which Blaine said those words. He could never do anything that would compel anyone to say those words to him, and he wasn't a good enough person to ever promise such a thing to anyone.
He knew that without a doubt.
…Which was why he didn't understand why it still broke his heart.
He didn't notice when Derek had appeared behind him. "Before all this, you said...you said you were going to let go of Kurt."
"…I did." Logan shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts away.
"…So where does that put you now?" Derek frowned, stepping forward.
Confused, Logan turned around. "What?"
"Where does that put you now...after what..." Derek stopped and seemed to brace himself before continuing, "...after what happened with Julian?"
"Him, I'm…not letting go of." Logan replied, glaring at him. "But the things he said…I can't think about that right now." After a pause, he added, "...I can't remember."
"…It's going to sound horrible but…I can't remember what the last nice thing I've said to him was. …Can you believe that? I can't…I can't remember what I last thing I said to his face that was…good.""
Derek wasn't sure how to respond to that. Logan stared at him and then just shook his head when he realized he wasn't going to get an answer from Derek. He stopped when he felt his phone vibrate. Hissing in annoyance, he yanked it out of his pocket, and did a double take when he realized who was calling.
"Logan?" Derek walked up to him when he saw the look on his face.
Now all the air in the room was gone for Logan, so much that he couldn't breathe any in. "Excuse me." He pulled the phone to his ear and fled.
"Logan!" Derek chased after him.
Reed, who was trying to get a sneaky shot of Kurt and Blaine, who looked ultimately too picturesque by that window, gasped and squeaked as he got knocked back by the two fleeing Stuarts. Trying to save the all-important camera, he stumbled backwards and cringed, bracing himself for the hit, but he only felt warm hands.
"Hey." Shane grinned, upside down over Reed. "Now, aren't you glad I'm transferring here? Now I can catch you all the time."
"If that's your way of saying I'm falling for you a lot…" Reed squirmed, straightening up. "And that is no way to speak to your upperclassman, Shane Anderson."
"Oh really." Shane grinned, towering over Reed rather easily. "I apologize. I'll make sure to behave more respectfully next time. Can I do anything for you? Can I carry your books for you? Or maybe that camera?"
"Shh, I'm trying to protect it, okay?" Reed laughed. "I know it's important to you both. Now dial it down while I see if I got a picture of Blaine and Kurt to add to their fond memories."
"I'm going to go mess with them," Shane declared, far too happy. "The only people allowed to be sappy around here are you and me." He winked, forcing a blushing Reed to swat at him. The artist missed his mark—and the dancer was then leaping towards his brother and the boyfriend.
Over the annoyed banter between the two Andersons and one very happy Kurt, Reed looked through the photographs in the camera. He was still getting the hang of it. He smiled when he saw all the memories from the barricade, all the way to today.
Things were going to change.
And then, when he fiddled with a few buttons, he came to a stop. The screen was showing something else. Something Reed was absolutely sure he did not photograph. The timestamp on the image was from years ago. His hands started to go cold, holding tight onto the camera.
"Reed, you okay?" Shane asked, frowning, noting the look on Reed's face, seeing how pale he went suddenly. Blaine and Kurt were staring at him. "Reed?"
"Oh…my god…" white as a sheet, Reed looked up, hands shaking, chest tight. "Blaine?"
"What is it?" frowning, Blaine made to go to Reed, but Logan and Derek returned into the hallway. To say that Logan looked completely distressed was a vast understatement. He was white as a sheet. "Whoa! Logan, what's going on?"
He was ignored. Logan was staring at his phone like he was waiting for it to explode. Derek had a hand on his arm. "Logan, you need to calm down!"
Kurt had his attention now torn between Logan and Reed. He kept Reed close instead, holding onto his shoulders and trying to get him to breathe even as the other boy tried to speak but was stammering to badly to be understood. "Reed, just calm down, you have to tell me why you're—"
The phone in Logan's hand suddenly rang shrilly, making everyone jump. Logan punched a finger at the screen so hard it could've cracked. "Yeah, this is Logan, I'm sorry, you got cut off earlier and—"
There was a pause as Logan listened. His entire body suddenly tensed, frozen and rooted to the spot. Derek looked up immediately, sensing the complete change. "Lo? Logan, what—"
Blaine watched as the blonde boy seemed to have stopped breathing completely, no sound coming from his mouth as he unsteadily sat down, his face contorted in what looked like pain. Frowning, he stepped past the Windsors and went to him. "Logan...?"
"Shh—" Derek kept him back, staring at Logan intently.
"I—yes, I…I understand…" Logan choked out. His hands began to shake. Derek moved to him at once. "…Thank you for…telling me. I—" He closed his eyes and hung up, practically throwing the phone away from him before he sank his face into his hands, curling into himself.
"Logan!" Derek clutched his shoulders. "Hey, what happened? Who was that? Say something!"
"What's going on?" Kurt's voice sounded in Blaine's ear and the latter looked up to see him standing next to him. "What happened?"
"I don't know…." Blaine replied, feeling a painful twist in his gut as he looked back to the boy he once loved. Logan wasn't answering Derek, but he was shaking as though he had a fever. "He just…there was a phone call and…."
"Logan!" Derek was almost yelling, white as a sheet and looking pale. "Come on, tell me, who was that?!"
"…Carmen…" Logan managed to say, his voice broken. "…at the hospital…." At that, Derek jerked back from Logan as though his hands were burning. Logan raised his eyes to him. "…and she…she said…"
"Do you…" Dolce Larson, standing outside the hospital room's door, cleared her throat carefully. She was very good at hiding her emotions; she was very good at controlling all emotion. This was her job. She got awards for it. "…So you think there…there might be any damage?"
"His outlook is still better than what we normally expect in cases like his, Ms. Larson," the doctor tried to reassure her.
"But he…his heart stopped, yesterday, I—" she had to stop again. Behind her, Carmen was very quiet, her phone in hand. "…hasn't he had enough damage?"
"I'm…I'm very sorry, but we really can't know until your son wakes up." The doctor pushed up his glasses. "I have to tell you that I still urge very strongly against moving your son in his condition. Moving a patient in this state might…well, it can make things much worse."
"I want my son home," she told him with conviction, and a large warm hand covered hers. Travis Armstrong, Dolce's divorced husband, carefully drew her away.
"I can't agree with this, Dolce," he told her. "We can move Julian back to Los Angeles once he wakes up."
Dolce glared at him with some hatred. Travis wouldn't know. He had been missing a lot since she and he divorced. He wasn't the one who had to watch Julian lie there and seriously consider that her son may never wake up. To be told that her son might not wake up at all. Her son was out of the world for mere seconds, but it could've been forever.
As the talk outside continued, Julian's room stayed quiet. The only sounds that permeated it was the sound of the beats being counted by the heart monitor, the sound of the snuffling from a little hedgehog cage, and the soft blooming noises on Julian's phone, which was left on the pile of the school things that had been brought in. It rattled with each vibration, as it sat on top of a new CD that had been left along with it.
There were many messages, and majority of them were from people who were not expecting him to answer. They were simply well wishes, popping in every now and again, for a boy that wouldn't read them.
Come back soon. (from everyone in Windsor) – E&E.
Whatever happens, don't forget: you did good. (from the Drama Club) – T.C.
See you soon back in Cali. – C.S.
We'll be waiting for you. – D.S.
The newest one was: I'm expecting you when I get there. – S.S.
They came in, more or less regularly, in a number that would have surprised the boy on the bed. Messages from his business number were plentiful. On his personal one, not so much.
As one after another, the alerts came in, the little hedgehog in the cage came out to explore, hoping to find some morsel of food he might have overlooked.
Please wake up. Please. - L.W.
It was because the hedgehog was so diligent, and so naturally wary, that he witnessed what the adults outside the door did not. The little snout twitched, when he thought he saw a few fingers flutter movement. The animal froze.
And slowly, a pair of sepia eyes opened.
The sun was lancing through the leaves as Sylvia Medel walked down a cleared path through the freshly-cut grass, the wind blowing at her hair under the wide-brimmed black hat.
She was alone, when she walked through the shade of the trees, and towards the open ground where a headstone rested, seemingly no different from the others.
She had gone every day since the funeral. It was becoming difficult to explain where she was going, and it was difficult to make sure to visit when no one else was around.
As she stopped before the headstone, she smiled faintly, as she always did, at the little warblers carved into the headstone's corners. She reached over, swept away what little dirt and leaves had gathered—how could they gather, really, when she did the same thing every day?—and knelt down, ignoring the grass stains on her stockings.
"Hello, Greg," she murmured, eyes misty. "I hope I'm not disturbing you. It's troublesome to have me come over so often, isn't it?"
She carefully set down the white rose in her hand, the silence almost companionable. "I went to see the doctor today. He said I was…well, I'm healthy. And so is the baby."
She paused for a moment and added, "I suppose you're very angry with me."
A couple of birds twittered from the trees. "…you shouldn't worry about the boys," she told the air. "They'll be alright. I'm sure I'll have a lot of comforting to do, because they won't be able to go to Regionals anymore, and you and I had gotten them so excited, and they had worked so hard. But we all have to just…keep going anyway."
She stared into the distance and sighed. She had sat once before with her legs tucked under her, just like this, next to Greg Harvey, when they were out on a small picnic with the Warblers. They sat in the shade and ate together while the boys went crazy, playing a game of croquet and doing a delightfully horrible job at it.
It was strange. When she sat here, she didn't feel very much as though Greg was gone. Maybe the boys were right…and he wasn't really gone. He was never going to be gone.
She looked to the headstone again, and smiled more when she noticed little things that hadn't been there yesterday. She recognized a pen Kurt had borrowed once from the teacher, and a photograph of the warblers that had been on Blaine's desk. A model car from the Christmas box that had been given to Wes was near it, with a tin soldier paperweight that David used to help pin down music sheets. A pair of identical carved wooden yellow warblers kept watch like the Twins, and they were sitting on a beautifully sculpted little flower vase of student clay that could've only been made by Reed's hands held the other flowers from other visitors.
A few music sheets, with Logan's handwriting at the top, rested nearby.
We're singing for you now, Mr. Harvey.
Sylvia smiled at all these things, and found that she suddenly missed those boys. And she was sure Greg did as well. She realized that perhaps it was time to return to her duties, and care for them, for both her and Greg's sake.
She was going to stop coming every day. Greg would want her to be elsewhere, not here.
Fare thee well my own true love…
Farewell for a while…I'm going away…
But I'll be back…though I go ten thousand miles…
Sylvia Medel knew where she had to go when she got up. She walked into Dalton Academy's South and Main, and into the hall where she knew the students were still running amok. She passed the board in the hall that had the faces of all the teachers.
The other staff made way, and allowed her to be the one to take Greg Harvey's photograph from the board.
Ten thousand miles, my own true love…
Ten thousand miles or more…
The rocks may melt…and the seas may burn…
If I should not return…
She stood alone in her department, the only music teacher left now, with the other faculty members. But she held in a satchel the papers that had Greg's plans for the group of adopted sons that the two of them had cared for in this home away from their parents.
Oh don't you see that lonesome dove…
Sitting on an ivy tree…
She's weeping for her own true love…
As I shall weep for mine…
She smiled as she entered the silent Warbler's hall. She still had Greg's photograph and name in her hands. As she set the satchel full of the future onto the piano, she moved to the back of the room, where the memories of Warblers long past were.
She smiled, when she opened this year's book. Scribbles greeted her, from restless Warbler hands. All of them greeting their teacher.
She carefully pressed the name and the photo into the empty space that had been clearly set aside.
She closed the book.
Oh come ye back, my own true love…
And stay a while with me…
If I had a friend all on this earth…
You've been a friend to me…
The voices sounded distant, echoing, but they roused her from her thoughts and she looked up. She saw the Warblers, standing at the doorway, crashing into each other in their haste. Thad was running in with Danny and Jeff. They looked worried and scared, like birds flying to safety to her.
"Come quick, Ms. Medel!"
"Kurt's trying to help but Blaine needs someone, something about his old friend—"
"It's Logan, he got some news, we think he's not okay—!"
"We need you to help—!"
They were pulling her along now, and she hurried with them, her footsteps echoing in the empty hall. She knew it was time to be strong now.
She had sons to look after.
In the next episode: You are all cordially invited to the wedding (sort-of) of the future Mr. and Mrs. David and Katherine Rivers-Sullivan. Of course, there's still quite a bit of stuff to work on before the day of, and there's still so much to deal with in the aftermath. So while some of the boys may be dodging color themes and flower arrangements, the Dalton boys have to consider the Warblers' future in the glee club competitions, help Blaine deal with the discovery of a secret inside the camera, keep Logan in one piece, and come to the realization that yes: your next big problem is Prom Night.