Hi, I'm C Coulter, your writer for this fic.

Again, I am moved and so grateful for the kind comments I have been receiving. Thank you for your well wishes about my health, and for continuing to enjoy my little piece about Dalton life. I hope that you all would still continue to do so.

As I said before, Dalton will have some extra tidbits and drabbles that may be found at cpcoulter in livejournal. Currently, there is a running poll on favorite OC, and the twins and Reed are leading by a good margin. Which is why I've chosen to look a little further towards their backgrounds and give them a moment to shine in today's episode.

The episode is a tad shorter today than I would have wanted, but I will make up for it in the following one-as after that, I will be taking a one-day hiatus before returning.

I hope you all enjoy this episode. :)

(I do not own Glee).


Episode 9: Questions

I'm Kurt. And this is Dalton Academy.

Things went almost back to normal after Sectionals and the storm.

With Sectionals over, it's time to focus on the Winter Fest.

...or at least, that had been my plan.

Kurt came storming out of Murdoch's classroom looking so livid that all the boys in the hall immediately cleared his path as he came past. Kurt was gripping his term paper like he was going to hurl it on the next human being he comes across with. After two days of being locked in by snow, Dalton finally had some semblance of life again, but this was apparently what was to greet Kurt when he returned to class.

"Under researched"? "Uneducated discussion"? "Shallow observations"? he thought furiously, striding down the halls looking for blood. I spent nearly an entire week diving back and forth into the library stacks and analyzing his three-inch-thick required reading—for one paper! What the hell is wrong with that man? And why in this green earth is the football coach also teaching Literature?

It was the longest, most heavily detailed term paper he'd ever written for anyone and even the Windsor boys were appalled at the size of it. "We'd never had that before," David had said, stunned when he saw the printout earlier. "He gave you all that so you could "catch up"?"

Kurt had experienced a demanding teacher before, but Sue Sylvester was psychotic and she demanded perfect formations and dance moves. And she, to some degree, exhibited levels of fairness. But when he received that paper back and saw his plunging marks, he confronted the hulk behind the teacher's table after class.

"I don't understand," he had said, frowning. "I thoroughly read the studies, Professor Murdoch, and all of my credible sources have been cited—"

"I think I'll be the judge of that, Mr. Hummel," the professor glowered down at him. The Stuart House Head looked gigantic—a man wreathed with a strong bulk that reminded Kurt strongly of the muscle-bound jocks at McKinley, except a fully-developed version. "You clearly didn't make use of any of the studies that have been specifically outlined in the curriculum for the semester—"

"Because I knew they would be what all the others will be using," Kurt shot back. "It would make no sense for me to parrot what all the others did for class so I took another angle using another theory—"

"Which as I said clearly," and Murdoch pointed to the great scarlet streak of ink on Kurt's paper, "was completely inappropriate for the topic under discussion."

"What?" Kurt could believe what he was hearing. "Professor Murdoch, I found over a dozen references in the Dalton Library that applies that theory to—"

"This conversation is going in circles, Hummel," Murdoch boomed down at him. Kurt didn't flinch. "As I stated, your main sources should have been only the ones in the studies as they are the most apt for the discussion."

"With all due respect, sir," Kurt snarled through gritted teeth, "I think you're biased. Because all those sources come from texts that you wrote."

Murdoch's expression turned dark—so dark that the boys passing outside had to stop and stare as the giant advanced on Kurt's slim form. "You are getting out of line with that mouth of yours, Mr. Hummel. You are no longer in some backwater Ohio public school. You're in Dalton Academy now, and you are going to act in the manner befitting an educated young man—or do they not teach you that where you come from?"

Kurt flushed with rage, hardly able to speak. "So this is all about where I'm from?"

"The only thing we discriminate about here in Dalton is excellence in all aspects," Murdoch snapped. "Your paper, behavior and wardrobe—if your attire last week during the meet was any indication—has none. Now leave this room immediately before I mete out detention, or call your parents."

Thereupon, Kurt grabbed his paper furiously and stormed out, wanting desperately to harm something, and he had to leave or it would have been that hypocrite in the classroom. He had never been so angry in his life—he had never even gotten lower than a B+ in his studies. Even if he had trouble in his first week, with the help of the Windsor boys, he managed to keep up a good grade—until now.

Blaine entered from an adjoining corridor and saw the other boys fleeing Kurt's expression. He walked to him and quickly moved to stop him. "Whoa, Kurt—what's wrong? What happened?"

Kurt held up his crumpled term paper and pointed to the great red streaks with conviction. Blaine nodded slowly, understanding the situation, "Oh…Murdoch."

"And what are you doing up?" Kurt demanded suddenly. "You had a high fever just the day before yesterday!"

"I can't stay in that bed another day," Blaine almost complained, tugging on his collar. He still looked a bit pale. "And I can't miss any more Warblers' meetings for the Winter Fest."

"If you get a relapse, you're not going to Winter Fest!" Kurt retorted. "Is that so hard to understand?"

"All right! All right—just—just calm down," Blaine said firmly. "I'm on your side, remember?"

Kurt groaned and fell back down onto one of the seats in the hall. "I know, I'm sorry—it's just that it's so—" he completed the sentence with a frustrated sound with his hands suggesting strangling something.

Blaine smiled, sitting next to him. "I know the feeling. Happens a lot more often than you'd think. Did you know he once wouldn't accept a term paper from David saying that it was apparently "too advanced" for someone of his year level?"

"He what?" David had the one of the highest GPAs in Windsor—and took pains to keep it that way in spite of the madness indoors.

"Yeah, he accused him to taking it from the paper of one of the graduates. David went ballistic. You know how tense he can get sometimes."

"What did you do?"

"Well after David couldn't talk to him, he told Howard. There was apparently a heated debate, and Howard got Murdoch to raise the grade, but it only landed as a B—David's first in three semesters."

"Did he ever do anything to you?"

"There's a reason I left the football team," Blaine smiled wanly in response. Kurt shook his head in disgust, "So much for no bullying."

"You think?" Blaine sighed. "Only with Murdoch, it's apparently not bullying when he's "setting a standard of excellence". Or that's what he says." He saw Kurt's frown at his term paper again and nudged him. "I can talk to Howard for you."

"No, I'll talk to Howard," said Kurt, shaking his head. "You need to get back to bed."

"I'm fine—!"

"You are not. And besides, I'm the one with the bone to pick with him." He paused and frowned again. "And besides, he insulted mine and Reed's taste in clothing."

Blaine burst out laughing. "Yeah, I don't think he likes the flamboyant." He patted Kurt's knee, resisting every urge to pull him close, and smiled. "I'll see you back in the dorm, okay?"

"Okay." Kurt nodded, watching him go. He sighed as Blaine disappeared and got up, looking down at his paper. He placed it into his satchel and went off to the direction of the professors' lounge. As he crossed the halls, he passed by the Warblers' home base, the door of which had been left wide open.

"Kurt—get in here!" said an imperious voice from the room, making him jump. Kurt blinked and went in. "Mr. Harvey?"

Greg was looking at a sheaf of sheet music, which he hadn't looked up from even when he called him. Kurt walked up to him, confused. "Is there anything wrong?" Is there any more bad news for the morning?

"I heard about Blaine, Ms. Summers told me. How is he?"

"He can clearly walk around now—I just saw him in the halls. But I told him to go back to the dorm."

"He's not well yet?"

"I don't think he's fully recovered."

"Will he recover in time for the Fest?"

Kurt hesitated. Blaine had been practicing hard and had been all but completely set for the (now) Winter Music Fest, until he had gotten ill. He knew why Greg was asking—it was because if Blaine wasn't fit enough to perform, he would have to get the second soloist. And the second soloist last time had been Logan.

"I…" Kurt considered, "I think he might be able to pull it off but…I'm not sure if he'll be fully recovered when he does. But of course, I think he'd rather choke and die than just give it up without a fight."

"Well, I don't want him to get worse either," Greg commented, glancing at him. He smiled a little at Kurt's hesitation. "Don't worry, Kurt. I'm not putting Blaine out of the running until I see that he really can't, or shouldn't, be doing it."

"Right," Kurt smiled, nodding in relief. "You, um, want me to tell him?"

"No, actually—I wanted to tell you something. For the Fall—ah, that is, Winter performance," he grimaced at the snow, no doubt remembering the terribly eternal day he had to spend indoors trying to civil to his irritable colleagues, "For that performance, we need two leads." He gave Kurt a steady look. "Now, I'm not offering you the part…but I was hoping to see you duel for it."

Kurt stared in amazement. "I—of course! Of course, I'd love to audition for it! The second lead, I mean."

"Well, who knows," Greg looked tired. "If Blaine doesn't make it and you beat Logan, you just might squeak by and get the first lead."

"Like Blaine wouldn't have a complete meltdown before he left it to Logan…" Kurt muttered, then stopped and looked up. "Wait. You mean Logan's dueling him again?"

"He said he wanted to," said Greg, nodding as he sat at the piano. "He looks like he wants to retake his old spot. I don't know what it is, but something's lit a fire under him."

Kurt fidgeted. Then Greg said, "Now, I'll need to confirm you for the application. You better get ready, because I'll close applications by the meeting later—and then I'll announce if you will have to go through preliminary assessment with me and Ms. Medel, or if you'll duel immediately."

"Right…right," Kurt was already distracted. He was mentally running through his entire, highly extensive repertoire. What should he sing that will win the Warblers over for a duel? Or for that matter, what couldn't he sing…?

At that moment, a thought came to him. He stopped and looked up. "Wait…um…is there anyone I am dueling with yet?"

"For second soloist?" Greg checked the sheets. "Well, if no one else comes forward… you're dueling Reed Van Kamp."

"I'm so dead, oh my freaking last season Givenchy, I'm so dead."

"Reed!" Kurt scolded as his friend continued to pace his white carpeted floor later that day. "Calm down."

"There's no calming down!" Reed shot back as he flailed, the exaggerated sleeve of his Alexander McQueen top flipping. "I'm dueling you! I don't have anything that'll beat you!"

"Why are you telling me this, I'm your competition…?" Kurt raised an eyebrow as he watched him pace.

"You're also my friend? Quite frankly I'd rather be honest than have a meltdown on my own when I realize that oh Prada I'm so dead!" he sank into his bed, head in his hands. He choked out, "Besides, you told me you're dueling me, might as well be honest right back, right? I mean you could've let me flounder right there instead of giving me a heads up."

"I didn't even know I was dueling you until I accepted," Kurt said, getting up and climbing onto the bed next to him. "I don't get what you're so freaked out about."

"Well I do!" Reed snapped, hugging his pillow and tearing threads off it. "Have you heard yourself sing?"

"Yes, many many times and I'm aware of the magnitude of my talent."

"That's my point…" Reed groaned, flopping down onto the bed facedown. "…I've never even tried to duel for second soloist before. I figured I'd just put my name down because I just thought that there was just going to be only one main—and that's what Blaine and Logan'll be fighting for—and that I wouldn't even ever actually have to duel. How was I supposed to know that there were two leads and that I signed myself for the second one?"

"Reed," said Kurt disapprovingly, glowering down at him. "You're a Warbler for heavenssakes. You can't be all that bad. Stop being so dramatic!" He tore away the pillow from Reed's clutches. "Get up! Right now! Sing me something."

"Over my dead well-dressed body, Kurt! I'm not going to sing for you now!"

"Oh yes you will…" Kurt grabbed his wrists—he was taller and stronger—and pulled the other boy up to his feet. "Up! Get up, stand over there and sing me something. Now, Reed, I'm telling you, we don't have all day—Project Runway is coming on in half an hour."

Bright scarlet, Reed fidgeted from where he stood in front of him. Kurt gave him a raised eyebrow in response. "Well?"

"Just so you know, I've never sung solo before," Reed warned.


"All right!" he sighed. "Teddy Geiger fine with you…?"

Kurt just blinked slowly, deadpan, in response. Reed sighed and slowly began to sing. At first, he was singing so softly that Kurt could barely hear it. He gestured for him to be louder.

Reed raised his voice, tentative at first, then picking up some confidence slowly.

Wandering the streets, in a world underneath it all

Nothing seems to be, nothing tastes as sweet

As what I can't have…

Like you and the way that you're twisting your hair 'round your finger…

Tonight I'm not afraid to tell you…what I feel about you…

Kurt's eyebrows went up again, blinking. Reed wasn't in his pitch range, that was certain…but he wasn't bad. He wasn't bad at all. There was a color to his voice and an emotion that went out. And when Reed finally started getting comfortable, just getting into the song…

I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have

and cannon ball into the water…

I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have

For you I will…

For you I will…

Kurt stared, blinking. Reed may or may not have forgotten he was in the room by now. He was just really getting into it, and now that he was—he could really really sing. Like Logan and Blaine, Reed turned the song into something wholly his own.

If I could dim the lights in the mall and create a mood I would

Shout out your name so it echos in every room, I would

That's what I'd do, that's what I'd do

that's what I'd do to get through to you

You always want what you can't have

But I've got to try

I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have

For you I will

For you I will…

When he finally stopped, he looked a little out of breath and flushed, disoriented. He seemed to come to after a bit and looked at Kurt. "Oh… right, so…"

"What do you mean 'oh right'?" Kurt demanded, sitting up. "Why have you never sung like this before?"

"Oh…was it—was it that bad?"

"Are you crazy—no! You were great! You were more than great—you could become a soloist if you wanted!" Kurt got up and went to him. "Why haven't you ever tried before?"

Reed shrugged dejectedly, sitting down. "I don't know. Never really had anyone listen to me before."

"What do you mean?"

Reed shrugged again, picking at his coverlet. "…I don't know. I mean… You know my mom, right?"

"Who in their right mind doesn't…?"

"Exactly, well she…she doesn't really think I'd be any good at it." He fidgeted. "I mean she's heard me, of course, but she thought it wasn't that big of a deal. And coming from her, well…that's kind of a high standard. She doesn't know I'm a Warbler either."

Kurt had heard of celebrities throwing their children into showbiz, regardless of whether they had talent or not, but he had never heard of one that actually didn't want a talented child to perform. He sat next to Reed, concern written on his face. "…your mother doesn't want you to sing…?"

"Yeah… she wants me to take over her empire or be a designer or a photographer or…something related to what she does. That's fine by me but…I like singing. And painting. But right now singing is more relevant."

"You sing, you paint, you have the most amazing taste in clothes—is there anything you can't do?" Kurt smiled.

"Apparently, I can't walk down a newly mopped hallway without breaking limbs," Reed grinned.

"There's that," Kurt conceded. He put an arm around Reed. "Well, I thought you were great. And coming from me, of course, you can be pretty damn sure that it's a compliment."

Reed laughed, leaning against him. "Thanks, Kurt. But don't you dare start pitying me now—you better duel me up there. If you're going to kill me, you better kill me well. Or I am never going to give you anything from the Marc Jacobs winter collection."

"Please, Reed," Kurt smirked in an endearingly bitchy way. "Now that I know how good you are, I'm going to unleash every ounce of talent I've got to completely destroy you."

"Fantastic. Now come help me pick a nice outfit for my burial."

"Glad to."

Logan stepped out of the school building, loosening his tie as he did, looking forward to returning to Stuart for a few peaceful moments before he had to go prepare for Warbler practice.

"Hey, there!"

"How you doing, buddy?"

Two dangerously bright and happy voices came from next to him. And the next thing he knew, the twins were on either side of him, grinning. They immediately grabbed onto his shoulders started leading him to the direction of the library. "You're coming with us!"

"What?" he struggled against him, but they simply pushed him onwards, hands resting on his back.

"We're just going to talk!" said the other twin with that same bright, friendly tone that at times never boded well for anyone receiving it that wasn't a Windsor boarder. "Don't worry."

Logan glowered at them, shrugging off their hands to no avail, but he let them lead him. He rolled his eyes as they arrived at the Library which was empty at this time in the day.

Ethan sidled in first while Evan kept Logan outside. Ethan slipped up to the librarian's desk and beamed adorably, looking perfectly angelic. "Hey, Mrs. A!"

"Oh hello…Ethan? Or Evan?"

The twin laughed. "It's Ethan, Mrs. A. So anyway, Dean Ramsey told me to tell you to go to her office? Something about the list of books you requested? She said that no, we're not allowed to get the Book of the Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Darkness."

"But I didn't put in—" she stopped and glowered. "If it's Dwight again…" She quickly picked up a clipboard and walked out of the counter. "I better go look at what else might have slipped in there. Ethan, would you keep an eye on the place? I won't be very long."

"No problem, Mrs. A!" Ethan grinned, leaning on the counter. She gave him a smile and exited the door, the oaken wood swinging. When it swung back, Evan appeared in the doorway with Logan. The twins then hauled Logan across the room and deposited him onto a seat at a table facing them. They each the grabbed a chair, twirled it to place across Logan and planted a foot on it.

In a swift movement, Evan turned the reading lamp upward, beaming it directly into Logan's face. They weren't smiling now. "All right, Wright. Talk."

"About what?" Logan asked, rolling his eyes.

Ethan didn't bat an eye. "Snow day. Storm? Kurt? You? Together?"

"Wow, you guys are insane," Logan snorted. He brushed his blazer off without hurry. "If you must know, while the both of you were breaking into the cafeteria, Kurt decided to go to the clinic wing. Which, as you know, is near Hanover. Which is the dorm furthest to yours. If I'd let him go on out to there, you both basically would be in his funeral right now."

"As much as we are so deeply grateful to your attempting to help our poor sick Acting House Prefect," Evan made a saccharine smile, "we can't help but wonder if, by doing so, you were trying to help yourself more?"

"I just helped both Blaine and Kurt and this is the thanks I get…" Logan sighed, giving them a look that clearly showed he thought they were morons. "If I'd've known, I wouldn't have bothered."

"Just tell us why you're messing with Kurt so much, Logan?" Evan smiled kindly. "Because really, we all know that deep in your black ice heart that you're not really the first person we'd go to for any semblance of random compassion."

"Not after you ran your first Windsor boy off campus anyway," Ethan added with the same expression.

Logan just shook his head, looking bored and annoyed. "So Blaine hasn't told you… I don't blame him, it really must be bad news when you can't really do anything about it."

"And tell us what, exactly?"

"That I'm in love with Kurt."

That got the twins' attention. They both stared at him, mixed expressions rushing over their faces—which ranged from shock, amazement, and then precursor to fury.

"Logan…" said Ethan slowly, as though treading through dangerous water, "…I swear…if you are screwing with us…"

"I'm not joking," Logan said, looking at them directly. "I already told Blaine, and even he knew I was telling the truth. I'm telling you now. And at some point, I'm going to tell Kurt."

"You cannot do that to Kurt," said Evan firmly, planting a hand on the table. "You have no idea what he's just been through and if you confuse him now—"

"I know what Kurt's been through," Logan looked annoyed. "Why do you think I still have this?" And he point s to the fading bruise around his eye. "That dumb jock who scared the ever loving hell out of him during Sectionals? Yeah, I saw him. I caught up to him. And I rather politely asked him to stay away from Kurt."

"You beat him up?"

"I didn't beat anyone up," Logan shot back.

"Tsk. Pity." Ethan sighed.

Evan agreed. "He could've used a hit—just one."

"He was the one who nearly choked me back there. If people hadn't passed by, I think I'd have more than just a black eye, but then he would be in crutches.But no. I don't stoop to punching people who already have too little brain cells to lose."

Evan leaned back and looked at his brother. "Starting to think he's telling the truth a little bit."

Logan glared at them. Ethan glanced absently at him and said, "No, Logan, the I-can-ruin-your-lives glare doesn't work on us, remember? We're all standing on the same platform here." He looked to Evan. "Me too, starting to think he is."

The twins looked at him. "You can go."

Logan just snorted and picked up his bag, heading for the door. Before he could open it, however, Evan said, "Hey Logan."

The prefect stopped. Ethan gazed silently at him. "Given your previous colorful history of damage in Windsor affairs, if at any point Blaine and Kurt get really hurt by your antics… we may not be able to remain as civil."

"We were ever civil…?" Logan raised an eyebrow, gave them a nod, and left.

What do they have to worry about? Logan thought inwardly as he walked off to Stuart. Kurt won't even look at me. All he sees is Blaine. And it's really starting to tick me off.

"For first lead…" Sylvia looked down at her sheet of paper. "Logan and Blaine will duel again."

Murmuring in the Warblers' hall. Logan had dueled twice now—did it mean he was getting back on his feet? Blaine remained the rational choice, however.

"And for second lead…"

This made them look up. They seldom had second leads and not even they knew so much about it. Sylvia smiled, "It'll be Kurt…" sound of approving murmurs, Kurt beaming, "…and Reed."

This was followed by surprise and confusion. Reed wilted back onto his seat, but Kurt threw him a reassuring glance. Sylvia said, "The four of them have until tomorrow. Then they will perform, and you all will vote."

"Whoa, Reed," Wes said, looking at his friend with a grin. "You're going to duel?"

"Yeah, man, we've never heard you before," David agreed.

"Speaking as someone who heard and with a very discerning ear…" Kurt said importantly before giving Reed a smile, "I think he's a worthy opponent."

"Ooh, I definitely have to see that," said Wes, nodding with a grin.

"Now let's just hope Blaine's well enough by tomorrow to do anything," David remarked.

"I'll go see him later," said Kurt. "I'll make sure he eats and drinks his medication."

"How about you give him a nice warm snuggle?" Wes suggested, and David's snorts were checked by Kurt's glares.

"So it's kind of like a date?" Reed said with a grin. "You bring dinner to him, don't you? And you eat there too?"

Kurt colored to his scalp. "It is not a date—he's ill, you all need therapy."

"I think the Florence Nightingale gig looks cute on you, Kurt," said David with a laugh.

"Shh!" Kurt elbowed him when Sylvia looked their way. Sylvia gave them all a look before saying, "Everyone, I expect all of you to practice tirelessly. Distinguished guests and alumni are coming to the Winter Fest, and I'd like them all to see you at your very best. You'll want to really shine here—these people can really help you."

The boys nodded.

"That said: this is an open event. We have made the necessary arrangements and have sent your parents their invitations."

Kurt's eyes went big. Burt and Carole…coming to campus? On Winter Fest? "Our parents? Here?"

"Isn't this great?" said the twins, draping their arms over Kurt's shoulders. "We get to see the wonderful people who raised us…" Snort. "This should be good."

Reed bit his nails anxiously and Kurt fidgeted. "Now everyone, please rise." Greg said, coming in. "Positions please."

As he did, Sylvia went up to Kurt and touched his arm and Reed's. "If you boys would like a hint… it would be nice if you sang a duet with someone, just so we could see how effective you would be as a partner."

A duet with someone…? Kurt wondered. And then he wondered, heat rising to his face, Maybe…I can ask Blaine to sing with me?

"Oh and Kurt," said Sylvia, whispering to him with a smile. "Try and add a little…glitz. Like New Directions does. It might be nice to have something different."

"All right…" Kurt nodded, thinking. So it's a duet…with some pizzazz… then he realized that Burt and Carole would be watching. Would he be able to duet with Blaine at all?

"Kurt," Reed tugged on his sleeve anxiously. "Don't look now, but Logan's looked at you."

Kurt sighed deeply.

When he said he wanted someone to notice, he didn't think it would be this much.

On the next episode: Kurt's musical duel is coming up, and it looks like Reed is getting ready as well. Blaine has started to recover, but he and Logan seem to be in terser situation than before. Is it a solo or a duet for Kurt? Who will earn the front spot to sing in front of all the dignitaries? While Kurt, Blaine, Reed and Logan are so occupied, Wes, David and the twins, are up to something else-what with Dwight's birthday coming up so soon.