Warnings: Discussion of past violence and humiliation.

Author's Note: Well, this certainly got away from me a bit! This chapter wins for 'most heavily revised in the whole damn story' because I swear I wrote it like fifty times before I was satisfied with it. There is plenty of juicy plot to be had here—and I'm not just talking about finally learning what Sebastian's deal is. ;)

Here's hoping the next chapter doesn't take me three months to write. XD


CHAPTER 75 Exile Vilify, Part 1.

As the Hawks recover from their near-gross experience, Sebastian starts laughing. Full-body, face-reddening, breath-denying cackling.

Kurt is a bit freaked out.

"What exactly is so funny?" Blaine asks.

"Them!" Sebastian says, with a nod to the Hawks. "They're scared of me."

"We are not!" Trent protests.

"Are too, cowards," Sebastian says, smirking.

"Say that to my face!" Jeff challenges.

"Bring your face over here, and I will," Sebastian says.

Jeff starts towards him, but only makes it halfway through one step. "Oh, no you don't. I'm not falling for that again!"

Sebastian gives Blaine a grin. "See? Cowards."

"You smug little—!"

Jeff throws caution to the wind and charges. Then he throws himself to the wind to dodge Sebastian's second spitball. The Slobbering Sharp-spitter starts laughing again, only to replace cackles with coughs as his own loogie is shoved back down his throat.

Kurt lowers his bending hand and gives Sebastian a warning glare. "That's enough out of you," he says. "And I mean that literally; anything but words coming out of your mouth is going right back in. Try me. It'll be frozen next time."

Sebastian starts laugh-coughing, a mildly impressive feat.

"And as for you—" Kurt says, turning to the Dragon Hawks. "Get a hold of yourselves! Sebastian cannot infect you with a plague he doesn't have, so stop freaking out every time he looks at you."

The Hawks look suitably cowed. Sebastian, on the other hand, is still chuckling and sitting slightly crooked. Kurt squints at him. Something is… off.

"Sebastian, are you… feeling okay?" Kurt asks.

Sebastian wheezes his airway clear and sits back to stare at Kurt with wobbly eyes. "I'm dandy, Glitterbug," he says with a grin. "It doesn't matter now. I'm dead anyway."

"Then why are you laughing?" Kurt asks.

Sebastian shrugs. "If you can't laugh in the face of death, when can you?"

Artie gives him a strong side-eye. "Literally any other time?"

"No time left," Sebastian grins. "Death, remember? It doesn't matter… nothing matters. I'm done. I'm just… done."

Blaine gives him a cold glare. "Not yet, you aren't," he says. "You have a lot to answer for before we decide what to do with you, so you'd better stop laughing, and start talking."

"Talk?" Sebastian snorts so hard he sways. "Well, alright then. What do you want to talk about? Go on, ask me anything. I'm an open book… an open wound, bleeding all over your new tigerdillo rug…"

Kurt tilts his head at that image. What is going on in this boy's head?

Blaine, on the other hand, is unmoved. "Alright, how about you start by telling us who you really are?"

"Sebastian Smythe, professional Earth Kingdom rich kid." The boy boys as much as the chair will allow. "The pleasure is all yours."

"Hardly," Blaine mutters. "How did you wind up in the Fire Nation?"

Sebastian sits back with enough force to scrape the chair legs on the floor. "Parents were doing business with some Cinder Island hot shot when the plague hit."

"What business did they have on Cinder Island? I thought all international trade was suspended," Blaine says.

"Maybe, maybe not," Sebastian says. "Funny thing about laws—the richer you are, the less they matter."

"Why didn't you just leave?" Kurt asks.

"Couldn't," Sebastian shrugs. "Navy blew up our boat. Blew up all the boats, actually. Except their boats, 'cause that'd just be stupid…" He giggles. Giggles. "Just sailed up in the middle of the night, no warning or anything, and—"

What comes next can only be described as a performance piece titled 'The Coolest Fireworks Show Ever, as Rendered in Interpretive Dance by a Five-year-old in a Teenager's Body.' Sebastian starts whistling, whizz-banging, crackling, and popping, flailing and flinching with every imagined conflagration. He vividly reenacts the entire explosive affair, oblivious to the confused and frightened faces of the crowd.

Kurt's face is frozen in mortified awe as Finn leans in with a question. "Holy crap, how hard did you hit him?"

"Not that hard!" Kurt replies. "It was nothing that your healing hands couldn't fix."

Finn's mouth goes all 'o' and Kurt fights a groan.

"You did heal him, didn't you?" Kurt asks.

"Yeah, before!" Finn says. "I didn't have time to heal him when we got here."

"Oh, dear…" Kurt groans.

Sebastian's detonation derby runs out of fuel and the boy slouches breathless in his chair. "Ah, it was awesome. I guess you had to be there." He trails off. "Shame about our boat, though…" And suddenly, he is almost inaudible. "…I liked our boat."

Blaine's face is a balancing act of confusion and anger, tilting further towards confusion with every second. "How did you escape the Quarantine?"

Sebastian sits back. "Road on a boat," he says cheerily. "Shitty ride, way overpriced. Took like… like a dozen people to pay the toll…" And suddenly, he's pensive, almost sad. "They didn't… they didn't tell me. They said I'd know the signal, but I didn't… I didn't know. If I'd known… I wouldn't…"

Sebastian lapses into silence with the sentence unfinished, and now Kurt is certain. Something is definitely wrong here. He sidles up to Blaine for a pow-wow.

"I think we should stop," Kurt whispers.

"But we're getting such good information!" Blaine says.

Kurt gapes at him. "That made sense to you?"

"Well, no, not really, but…" Blaine says. "I don't know, I feel like he's telling the truth. He's so open and unguarded!"

"Because he's concussed!" Kurt says intently. "It doesn't matter if he tells the truth when the truth is gibberish!"

"Just one more question," Blaine whispers.

"Blaine, wait—"

But he's already approaching Sebastian, who is staring somewhere far outside the room.

"Why are you here?" Blaine asks.

And it's like the shattering of a lens Kurt never knew he was looking through. Something shifts in Sebastian, and suddenly Kurt is seeing a wholly different person. His formerly high-coiffed hair hangs limp with sweat. His sharp, cold eyes are unfocused and wide with fear. His once-confident posture has been replaced with an uncertain slouch, and on his mouth in place of a smirk sits a worried frown.

Suddenly, Sebastian looks young, and it's like the world has turned on its head. When Kurt first looked at Sebastian, he saw someone older, world-wise and dangerous and looking to exploit Blaine's naiveté. Now all he sees is a child, someone as young as or perhaps even younger than himself.

Suddenly, despite knowing how ridiculous it is, Kurt feels like a bully.

"Sebastian?" Blaine asks. "Answer the question."

The boy says nothing.

Kurt frowns. "Sebastian, can you hear us?"

Eyes downcast, he finally speaks. "I should've died, you know?" he says quietly. "I came close… came close all the time, like like… when that old man caught me and I couldn't… I couldn't breathe…"

As if waiting for its cue, Sebastian's breath begins to escape him, growing faster and sharper.

"I didn't… I didn't even mean to…" he continues, his gasps disrupting his speech. "He just… he wouldn't let go… I couldn't breathe, and I just… I didn't even see where it hit him, I just swung, and then… there was blood everywhere, and I couldn't…" His torso shudders as he sucks in a deep breath. "I just wanted him to let go…"

Blaine looks at Sebastian like he's just stabbed him, gaping and silent.

"This is not good," Finn says.

"What's wrong with him?" Rachel asks.

"He's having a flashback," Artie says, almost fascinated.

"Kurt, we have to stop this!" Mercedes says.

Kurt can only stare at Sebastian in transfixed awe.

"And there were others…" Sebastian continues. "Like when I ate… I didn't know, I was just so hungry… and I got sick… I couldn't stop throwing up and Bug… took me to Madge… Madge and Joey… gave me food, Craig, Angie… Craig's on fire, and I'm… why am I here?" he cries, his voice at fever-pitch and so honestly confused that Kurt almost tears up. "I'm supposed to save them! But I don't… I don't know how! I should've died, but they wouldn't let me and now they're going to die and I can't… I can't even…"

"That's enough. We're stopping this now," Kurt says. "Rachel, clean off that table. Finn, get your water out. Mercedes, I'll untie him, help me carry him over."

Avatar and friends spring into action, while Sebastian remains lost in his own world. "I can't… I can't… no, no, I can't fail, I can't die. I can't die yet…" Kurt water-slices Sebastian's rope. Mercedes grabs his feet, and Kurt takes his shoulders.

"Careful with his head!" Finn says.

Sebastian continues babbling as they carry him over. "I'm it, I'm all there is… if I die… they all… no, no, I can't, I have to save them… I will save them…"

A mortified Blaine enters his field of vision, and suddenly, Sebastian's eyes are very, very focused.

"…from you!"

With the the strength and speed of a leopard-cheetah, Sebastian wrenches free of Kurtcedes and launches at Blaine. The Prince topples to the ground and before he can recover, Sebastian is on top of him with his hands around his neck.

Kurt watches in silent horror as it all unfolds. The Hawks scream at Sebastian, stop, no, get off, but he doesn't (or can't) hear them. Half a dozen hands move to strike, and half a dozen flames flare to life.

It will kill him. Kurt is certain of this. If he lets the flames hit, Sebastian will die.

For some reason, he really doesn't want that to happen.

With one hand, he whips out his own water; with the other, he steals Finn's. With all the speed he can muster, he whips the water into a bubble that surrounds both boys, shielding them from harm as the Hawks' flames fizzle against it.

"STOP!" Kurt shouts, pulling the water back. "You don't need to hurt him!"

"You're telling the wrong people!" Nick shouts, pointing at Sebastian.

"It's… you," Sebastian seethes as he squeezes. "This is all because of you!"

"Sebastian, listen to me!" Kurt says. "You're here to save the survivors, right?"

Sebastian ignores him in favor of Blaine's windpipe, which he seems to have mistaken for a stress ball.

"Well, you did it!" Kurt says. "They're safe! Good job!"

Sebastian's grip slackens, allowing Blaine a few desperate gasps. "I… I did?"

"Yes!" Kurt says. "Sue's fleet is wrecked! She can't hurt them now."

Sebastian shakes his head. "No… no… that's not enough… I have to get them off… get them away…"

"We'll do that!" Kurt says. "We will get them off the island."

"You… you will?" Sebastian asks.

"Yes, we will, I promise!" Kurt says. "See? You did it! You saved your friends, huzzah! No need to strangle or murder anyone!"

"No… no need to…" Sebastian tumbles off of Blaine and rises weakly to his feet, while Kurt sprints to offer a shoulder to his deflated beau.

"I'm okay," Blaine breathes, answering Kurt's unspoken question. "I'm okay."

"Oh, thank La," Kurt sighs, helping him rise and looking at the Dragon Hawks. "There, you see? No need for further violence! Blaine's fine, everyone's fine, conflict resolved and no one got—"

Sebastian chooses this moment to puke all over the floor and collapse face-first into the edge of the table, knocking himself out.

"—hurt."


Sebastian's in bad shape.

Blaine dismisses the Dragon Hawks so the room is less crowded, leaving only Team Avatar to watch as Finn works on him. Sebastian is stripped to his underwear and strapped to the table, making it very, very clear just how physically fucked up he was and is. Burns, bruises, and abrasions cover him from head to toe. Kurt isn't sure how he found the strength to stand, let alone attempt a coup d'état.

"He looks so… fragile," Rachel says quietly.

"He looks half-dead," Mercedes says, turning to Kurt. "Baby, I know you don't like the boy, but this is a little much, don't you think?"

"That wasn't me!" Kurt says. "Well, okay, it wasn't all me."

"Kurt's right," Finn says, continuing his healing. "Most of these are injuries he already had. I didn't really get to finish healing him before he tried to uslurp us."

"Usurp," Rachel corrects gently.

"I don't get it," Blaine says. "He didn't seem hurt at all. It looks like a chunk of him is missing, but he wasn't even favoring one side. How…?"

"Desperation and adrenaline are powerful anesthetics," Artie says quietly.

Kurt stares at the battered boy in silence, his thoughts churning. In the span of a few minutes, Sebastian went from a snide bastard to a quivering child to a crazy murderer and back again. The tiny glimpses into his mind afforded by his breakdown were utterly terrifying and, to be honest, confusing. Kurt was once completely certain that Sebastian was a liar, a con-artist, and a no-good bag of douche.

Now that he has concrete proof of all that and more, he is somehow less certain than ever.

Something catches his eye, and he shoulders up next to Finn. "What is that?" he asks, pointing to a thin line of discoloration running across three of Sebastian's ribs.

"It looks like a burn scar," Blaine says, sticking his head in.

"Let me see," Mercedes says, leaning over him.

"Look, there's another one!" Rachel says, poking at Sebastian's hip.

"Guys, I'm trying to work here!" Finn says, flatly unamused. "Could you maybe stop crowding the patient, please?"

The group obediently backs off.

"Thank you," Finn says, getting back to work. "And yes, those are scars. He has more on his back. I saw them when I was healing him before."

"Why is he walking around with old burn scars if he's not from the Fire Nation?" Artie asks.

"Well, it's not like the Fire Nation has a patent on fire," Kurt says. "Other countries have been known to use it from time to time."

"Besides, they're not that old," Blaine says. "Believe me, I know my burn scars… he can't have gotten these more than a year ago."

Kurt's eyes widen as he looks at Blaine. "The Quarantine started a little over a year ago, did it not?"

Blaine's eyes widen. "You're right…"

Kurt turns again to the wrecked boy on the table, his thoughts in a whirlwind. "What happened to you?" he asks.

To his surprise, he gets an answer.

"That's what I'd like to kn—"

SPLOOSH.

"Oh, shit!" Finn says.

Sebastian gives Finn a mighty one-eyed glare (as one is swollen shut), and spits out a mouthful of water. "Getting real tired of waking up to that."

"Sorry! You kind of scared me," Finn says, bending the water away and getting back to work.

Kurt approaches him carefully. "Sebastian, are you okay?" he asks. "How do you feel?"

"Like I just got skullfucked," Sebastian groans, "and now I'm skull-pregnant with a skull-baby and six hours into labor. What happened?"

"You don't remember?" Kurt asks.

"I remember you blowing my cover like a dog whistle," Sebastian says. "And then… something really, really funny. After that, things get a little fuzzy."

The gang shares a look, as if wondering 'How do we put this?'

Blaine promptly dismisses with diplomacy. "You tried to strangle me."

"After you puked your childhood trauma all over everybody in the room," Mercedes adds.

Rachel chimes in. "But before you literally vomited—"

"—and knocked yourself out against the table like a drunk-ass ho," Artie finishes.

Sebastian gapes at them. "You're joking," he deadpans.

"Not even a little," Kurt says, with a sympathetic wince. "It was… pretty intense."

Sebastian groans and covers his face with an arm. "Well, that's… that's really fucking embarrassing, is what that is. Can you just go ahead and kill me, please? I keep thinking this can't get anymore shameful and I'm really tired of being wrong."

"We're not going to kill you," Kurt says. "We're going to help you."

Sebastian's eye opens again, and it is very, very wide. "What?"

"I feel I spoke pretty clearly," Kurt say.

Sebastian just stares at them for a moment. "You're serious."

"As a case of purplepox," Kurt says.

Sebastian just gapes. "How hard did I hit my head?"

"Oh, come on!" Kurt says. "Is it really that unbelievable? I'm the Avatar. It's my job to help people."

"You hate me!" Sebastian points out. "You've been looking for a reason to get rid of me from the minute we met!"

"Because I thought you were after Blaine! Which you were," Kurt points out.

"And I'm not faulting you for being right!" Sebastian says, palms out. "I'm just saying… all you've ever talked about is beating it out of the country with your boytoy in tow. You never cared about the survivors before. Why now?"

"I've always cared about the survivors," Kurt says. "I just didn't know they needed help. I though the military was taking care of you."

"Oh, they took care of us, alright," Sebastian scoffs.

Blaine bristles at this. "Wait, what's that supposed to mean?"

"It means they treated us like crap. They left us to starve, smacked us around, herded us like cattle and gave us these—" Sebastian points to a scar. "—if we fought back."

Blaine's eyes widen. "That's… no, that's not true…"

Sebastian just shakes his head. "How did I know you wouldn't believe me?"

"If all that's true, why didn't you just tell us?" Kurt asks.

"Because that," Sebastian says, jutting his chin at Blaine. "This country fucking worships the military. The Fire Nation Motto: love your soldiers, hate and fear everything else. You saw how the chicken hawks practically molted when they found out who I am. You really think the rest of this country is any different?"

"But we're not from this country," Mercedes says. "You could've told us!"

Sebastian shakes his head. "I couldn't risk it. If the guards even got so much as a hint of the truth, I would've been flash-fried before I could open my mouth. I'm the only one they could send here—I can't afford to die."

"So that makes it okay for you to start killing people?" Blaine says, incredulous.

"No, it makes it necessary," Sebastian counters.

"That's garbage!" Blaine replies. "You could have asked—"

"I TRIED!" Sebastian barks, so loud that Finn nearly drops his water again. He takes a second to calm down before continuing. "When I first got here, I tried being nice. Making friends, asking for help… they told me it wouldn't work, but I tried it anyway. Turns out, they were right."

"So, you asked people, and they said 'no?'" Artie asks.

"No, they said 'get away from me!'" Sebastian says. "Then they ran for the guards, and I shot them in the back."

Rachel gasps.

Blaine looks aghast. "You killed them?"

"What was I supposed to do?" Sebastian says. "If I let them get to the guards, I'm the center of a public panic and a nationwide manhunt. They'd have burned me alive, Blaine. Have you ever seen someone burned alive? Do you know what that looks like? What it sounds like? What it fucking smells like? Because I do, and it's not pleasant!"

Blaine clenches his jaw. "That doesn't—"

"That's enough, Blaine," Kurt says, placing a gentle hand on his arm. "Sebastian had his reasons, and whether or not you agree with them, what's done is done. It doesn't help to harp on him now."

Blaine breathes out through his nose and falls silent, petulantly crossing his arms and looking an inch away from blowing a raspberry.

Kurt sighs, massaging his forehead. "Let's talk about something else. You said a lot of interesting things when your brains were dribbling out of your ears…"

"Oh, great," Sebastian groans.

"What, you don't feel like talking about it?" Kurt asks.

"Do I really have a choice?" Sebastian asks.

"I'm going to go with 'sort-of,'" Kurt says. "If you don't feel well, we can do this later. But we're doing it eventually."

"Let's just get it over with," Sebastian says. "Not like I've got much left to hide anyway…"

"Alrighty then!" Kurt says, clapping his hands. "So, you mentioned that you came here with your family. Are they still on the island?"

Sebastian shakes his head. "Plague," he says flatly.

Kurt winces. "I'm sorry."

Blaine's stand-offish stance softens just so. "Me too," he says. "I know what it's like to lose loved ones."

"It's fine," Sebastian says flatly. "We weren't that close."

"Why did it take them, but not you?" Rachel asks.

"Fucked if I know," Sebastian says. "I was the only one taking care of them at the end… got all kinds of nasty shit on some pretty nice clothes. I thought for sure I'd be right behind them, but… nothing. I didn't even catch a cold."

"That sounds about right," Kurt says. "No one really survives the plague. The only people it leaves behind are the people who never had it."

"I thought you and your parents weren't close," Blaine says, skeptical. "Why were you taking care of them?"

"I said we weren't close," Sebastian says testily. "I didn't say I was a bad son."

Kurt gives Blaine a warning glare and attempts to move the discussion forward. "You mentioned some names," he says. "I can't remember them off the top of my head…"

Artie rolls forward, counting off his fingers as he lists them. "Joey, Angie, Greg, umm… Marge, maybe? And something about a bug?"

"Thank you," Kurt says. "So… who are they? Friends of yours?"

Sebastian sighs and turns his head aside. "Just… people I knew on the island. They helped me survive when the going got rough."

"How rough did it get?" Mercedes asks.

"Fifty-year-old-rhinodillo-hide rough," Sebastian says. "The Navy cut us off from everything. No food, no supplies, nothing from outside the island. The Quarantine started in the middle of tourist season, so there were way more people stranded on the island than it could feed. Food got scarce, plague spread like crazy, people turned on each other, society collapsed, jungle law was instated… you know how it goes."

"Believe it or not, we do," Mercedes says.

"But that's not true!" Blaine insists.

"Blaine…" Kurt sighs.

"Oh, were you there?" Sebastian snits. "Did I miss you on the island? I didn't get the chance to meet everybody; too busy fighting for my life, I guess."

"I spied on the council meeting when the Quarantine started," Blaine says. "My father insisted that the survivors be provided for. He would never let his own people starve. The military was supposed to give you supplies!"

"And eventually, they did," Sebastian says. "But for the first few months, they just sat there and watched the island eat itself inside-out. Oh, and firebomb anybody who tried to escape."

"But that's not what my father ordered!" Blaine says. "So either the military disobeyed a direct order from the Fire Lord, or you're lying—again. Now tell me, which one seems more likely?"

Sebastian rolls his eye. "Do you want to fight, Sparknuts? Is that what this is? Got an honor-boner that needs a good, hard hate-scratching?"

Blaine turns bright red and sputters. "That's… gross! How dare you…?"

"I was there, okay?" Sebastian says. "I wasn't at your precious meeting, but I was on Cinder Island so I'm pretty fucking sure I know what happened!"

"And I'm sure that my father would never leave his people to die!" Blaine says.

"But Admiral Keros would!" Kurt counters, sucking the wind right out of his sails. "He was in charge of the Navy and running the day-to-day Quarantine, was he not?"

"…that's right," Blaine says, blushing slightly. "I remember now… Keros argued with my father. I didn't hear everything they said, but he wanted some kind of protection for his soldiers…"

"Well that explains the suits," Sebastian mumbles.

"What suits?" Kurt asks.

"When the boys-in-burgundy finally came ashore, they were covered from head-to-toe in airtight armor suits," Sebastian says. "They even came with gasmasks so they didn't have to breathe the same air as us."

"That must be why they held back for so long," Rachel says. "They had to create those suits to protect against contamination!"

"I guess that makes sense…" says a somewhat humbled Blaine.

"Yeah, you guess," Sebastian huffs.

Kurt sighs. He once would've moved heaven and earth to keep himself between Blaine and Sebastian at all times. Now, there's nowhere he wants to be less. "So, did you get those burn scars before or after the military started helping?

"After," Sebastian says. "The soldiers were scared to touch us even with their fancy suits, so whenever they were around, they used fire to keep us in line. Luckily, they only came ashore to do the Census."

"What's a census?" Finn asks.

"It's how they kept track of us and figured out how much food to send," Sebastian says. "Every two weeks, we all lined up on the beach and stood there for hours while they wrote down who was and wasn't dead."

"So the soldiers gave you those scars?" Kurt asks. "For what?"

"Anything," Sebastian says. "If we talked, moved, stepped out of line, gave them a mean look or even breathed funny, out came the fire whips. Anything that made them nervous was a punishable offense."

"That's awful!" Rachel says. "That is almost certainly some form of human rights violation."

"So they just whipped because they felt like it?" Blaine asks, still skeptical.

"They said it was for breaking the rules," Sebastian says. "Sadly, they never really got around to telling us what the rules were, and they seemed to change a lot."

"Oh, and I'm sure you would've followed them otherwise," Blaine says coldly. "I mean, it's not like you think you're above the law or anything. I'm sure you never would've done anything to deserve actually being punished."

Sebastian goes very, very still. When he speaks again his voice is terrifyingly soft. "I've seen kids get whipped," he says, and Kurt's blood freezes. "Ten, maybe eleven years old. You want to tell me what a ten-year-old could do to deservesomething like that?"

Blaine's eyes widen in horror. "I…"

"Or how about when they rounded us up for Etna," Sebastian seethes, "by telling us the Quarantine was over and we were all going home? When they lured us onto boats, trapped us in nets and threw us in cages? When they burned off everything from our clothes to our hair, and made us stand there naked while they inspected us like fucking horses for signs of disease? You want to tell me what a kid could do to deserve that? Or how about a lady old enough to be your grandma? What did she do to deserve that shit?"

Rachel cups her hand over her mouth and squeaks. Finn looks ill even as he continues working. Artie doesn't move, but Kurt can hear stone grinding as he clenches his fist. Mercedes has her eyes closed, one hand to her heart.

Blaine's mouth hangs open, his eyes wide and shining.

"I thought we were going to die," Sebastian continues. "They gave us sacks to wear and forced us all into this big metal box, and I… I thought it was an oven. I thought they were going to burn us alive…" He stops. Shakes his head. Swallows. "But I was wrong. It was just an empty supply crate. They dumped us on Etna and left us there, like garbage. That's all we were to them. Young, old, boy, girl—it didn't matter. We weren't people. We were biohazards. Disease vectors. And that's how they treated us."

Blaine swallows. "You're lying…" he says, his voice thick. "You have to be lying…"

"I'm not," Sebastian says darkly. "And you know it, don't you?"

Blaine can't even look at him anymore. He just turns away in silence.

Kurt takes a second to catch his breath. "How—" His voice hitches, and he clears his throat. "How did you escape?"

Sebastian doesn't answer for a moment. "I don't… want to talk about it," he says. "It's not something that can be repeated, if that's what you're thinking. It only worked once and that in itself was a fucking miracle."

Kurt nods. "Fair enough. You kept saying they 'sent' you. 'They' meaning the other survivors, right? This was a cooperative effort?"

Sebastian nods. "It's why I… umm… tried so hard, I guess." He swallows again. "With the way we were treated, everyone was convinced it was just a matter of time before the Fire Lord wiped us out. So they sent me to find help, and before I left, they drilled it into my head… I'm it, I'm all there is. There is no one else. If I fail, if I die, everyone out there dies with me."

"Why did they choose you?" Kurt asks, forgetting to watch his tone and coming off a teensy bit incredulous.

If Sebastian notices, he doesn't show it. "I don't know," he says. "I've asked myself that same question a hundred fucking times, and I cannot figure it out. Simon said it was because they saw something in me that no one else had. Something 'dark and dangerous' whatever that means."

"Who's Simon?" Blaine asks, seeming slightly calmer.

"Our leader, more or less," Sebastian says. "He trained me before I left… taught me how to survive at all costs."

"Taught you how to kill people, you mean," Blaine says.

"Blaine," Kurt warns.

"You know you're awful hung-up on that for a failed assassin," Sebastian challenges.

Blaine grits his teeth. "I might not have failed if it wasn't for you!"

"Oh, so that's what this is," Sebastian says. "You blame me for your colossal fuck-up!"

"I don't… it's not about…" Blaine clenches his fist. "Sebastian, I'm sorry for what happened to you, but that doesn't make anything you've done here excusable in the slightest!"

"I'm not trying to excuse it," Sebastian hisses. "I know what I did!"

"You killed innocent people!" Blaine continues. "People who did nothing to you! What if they had families? Husbands, wives, children? How many orphans, widows and widowers do you think you've made since you got here?"

"Blaine, stop it!" Kurt says.

"No!" Blaine says, near tears. "He needs to hear this! He needs to understand how wrong all of this is—none of this had to happen. None of those people had to die. If he had just asked for help… if he'd just been brave enough to trust the people around him instead of going out on his own—"

And suddenly, it all makes sense. Kurt grabs Blaine by the shoulders to get his attention. "Blaine, are you sure you're saying that to Sebastian?" he asks.

"Who else would I be talking to?" Blaine asks.

Kurt just looks at him. He can almost see the pieces falling into place in Blaine's mind as his face shifts, until suddenly, it all clicks together.

"…me," he says quietly. "I could be talking to myself… couldn't I?"

"…now I get it," Sebastian says. "You're projecting. I could hold my fingers in front of you and make shadow puppets."

"You're right," Blaine says, monotone. "I'm no different than you, am I? No better at all—"

"Oh, spare me," Sebastian groans. "If you seriously think killing one person in self-defense makes you like me, you're a moron. Get over yourself and stop being an asshole. It's weird. It doesn't suit you."

"That's… not how I would have phrased it, but Sebastian is right," Kurt says. "Killing someone in self-defense doesn't make you a murderer."

"I don't see how," Blaine says. "They're just as dead either way."

Sebastian sighs and sits up slightly, just so he can actually look at Blaine. "Look, dandy-boy, let's be honest here… I'm a dick. I wasn't picked for this job because of how nice or kind or charming I am—I was picked because I am ruthless and selfish and willing to do anything to survive, and I've only gotten worse." He pauses, swallows, and shrugs. "I'm evil," he says simply. "There's no other word for me. The things I've done, the person I've become, there's… there's no going back from it. Just because I'm working to stop something worse, that doesn't change what I am."

"Sebastian, that's—" Blaine starts.

"Don't even try to argue with me, okay?" Sebastian says. "I know what I am. I know me. But… while I might not know you well enough to know what you are, I know what you're not. And you're not me. You're nothing like me, and you never will be. Do you understand?"

Blaine just crosses his arms and looks down. He doesn't say anything, but he doesn't argue, either.

Kurt suddenly feels immensely drained. "Thank you, Sebastian. I think that's enough for now."

Sebastian lies back down. "You're still going to help them, right?"

"I'll do the best I can," Kurt says. "If nothing else, I can talk to the Air Nomads about flying to Etna and bison-busing them all to the Temples. I'm pretty sure they have some kind of cultural hospitality quota, so they'd probably be glad to do it."

"Good," Sebastian says. "For what it's worth… I'm on your side, now. For real this time," he adds with a slight smile. "As long as you're on their side, I'm on yours."

Kurt gives him an uneasy smile, not quite sure how to respond to that.

"Hey, if you don't want me, you can just say so," Sebastian says casually. "As long as the survivors get help, I could care less what happens to me. Just say the word, and I'll beat it. I'll go outside in nothing but a sundress and a smile and sing a confession to every crime I've ever committed, if it really bothers you that much."

That mental image prompts a few grimaces and at least one piqued eyebrow of curiosity.

"That… won't be necessary," Kurt says with a slight shudder. "Just stay here for now, Sebastian. We have a lot to… discuss."

Finn finishes with his healing, freezing his water and wrapping it in cloth. "Keep this against your eye," he says, handing the ice pack to Sebastian. "It'll help with the swelling."

"Aye, aye, Captain," Sebastian says, holding the ice pack to his face. "I'll be here."

One by one, the group files out of the room, leaving Sebastian to rest.

Before he steps out, Blaine stops in the doorway and looks back at Sebastian. After a moment, he speaks. "I really amsorry," he says. "For… what happened to you. I mean it."

Sebastian is silent for a moment. "It's okay," he says without looking at him. "It wasn't your fault…"

Blaine quietly closes the door behind him as he leaves.

"What are we gonna do with him?" Finn asks.

"He did say he was on our side," Rachel says.

"I'm not sure I want him on our side," Mercedes says. "Boy is ten pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag."

"Hey, don't be slaggin' on crazy people," Artie says. "For is always better than Against. If nothing else, we can dress him in bright colors and use him as a decoy."

"I think we should be careful," Blaine says. "Even if he's telling the truth, he's not the most stable individual. He changes sides quickly—he could change again."

Kurt thinks it over for a moment. "Right now, he's in no condition to hurt or help us. Let's just keep an eye on him and see what he does before we decide whether or not to keep him."

All present find various ways to nod their assent.

"Alright, so we've got 99 problems now that 'Bas ain't one," Artie says. "What about, you know, everything else?"

Blaine breathes out through his nose. "Get the Dragon Hawks. It's time for a meeting."

"Good idea," Kurt says. "You guys go ahead, we'll catch up."

The others fly off to go Hawk-wrangling, leaving Kurt and Blaine alone. "Are you alright?" Kurt asks. "You were a little all-over-the-place in there."

Blaine sighs. "I don't know. I don't know what to think. What happened to Sebastian was awful, but what he's done is awful, too, I just… and I still can't believe that Fire Nation soldiers could be so… so…"

"Awful?" Kurt asks.

Blaine nods. "It's all awful. Everything is awful," he sighs. "Why would they do that? Their own people, Kurt. Everyone out there except Sebastian is Fire Nation. Why would they treat them like that?"

"Because they were afraid," Kurt says simply. "Fear makes people into monsters."

"Fear is the enemy of Unity," Blaine says softly. "My father used to say that…"

Kurt gives him a smile. "He sounds like a very wise man. I'm sure he did the very best he could. It's not his fault things went wrong, and it's not yours, either."

"But he appointed Admiral Keros," Blaine says. "He put him in charge of everything, he trusted him."

Kurt puts a comforting hand on Blaine's shoulder. "At some time or another, everybody trusts someone they shouldn't." A meaningful nod towards Sebastian's room punctuates the statement, and Blaine smiles just so.

"I guess you're right," he says. "Now we just have to figure out what to do next."

"Don't we always?" Kurt asks.

They smile as they head to the meeting, just happy to be in each other's company.

If only they knew…


The whole gang winds up in a room full of rusty pipes on the second floor, dimly lit by patches of sunlight leaking through holes in the ceiling. Kurt and company stand against a side wall, watching the action go down.

Jeff bangs on a pipe. "Okay, everybody shut up! I hereby call this meeting of the Dragon Hawks to order."

"Wes and David are… indisposed at the moment," Trent says. "So Nick, Jeff, and I are filling in."

"Okay, let's get started," Nick says. "What's first on the schedule?"

"Well," Trent says. "Generally we would start by reading the minutes of the last meeting—"

"We don't have the minutes," Jeff says. "Also, no one cares."

"—which is why I was going to suggest, before I was so rudely interrupted," Trent grumbles, "that we move on to new business."

"Great, so, new business—" Nick says.

"Wait, no, you can't just move the meeting forward!" Trent says. "This is a democratic institution, we have rules! Someone makes a motion, someone seconds it, and then we vote—"

"Motion for Trent to shut the fuck up," Jeff deadpans.

"Second," Nick says.

"Now wait just a minute!"

"All in favor?" Jeff asks.

Every hand but Trent's shoots up.

"Opposed?" Nick asks.

Trent sourly holds his hand aloft.

"Motion carried," Nick says. "Sorry, dude."

Trent crosses his arms and mutters 'something something anarchy.'

"So, new business?" Nick says.

Jeff snatches a piece of paper from in front of Trent and scans it briefly. "Alright, so… item 1, Wes and David are fucked up. Item 2, Thad and Sam are jailbirds. Item 3, the Fire Lord wants us dead and she has an army searching for us. Item 4, we have no weapons or armor, and we're flat broke." He lowers the list. "Basically, we're fucked upside-down and spinning."

"Must you put it so crassly?" Trent asks. "That is not what I wrote!"

"Hey, we voted you into silence," Jeff says. "Stop disrespecting democracy!"

Nick rests his head in his hands with a weary groan. "So… ummm… any ideas on how to deal with these?"

A hand shoots up, and Nick calls on him. "Luke!"

"Motion to run away really fast!" Luke says.

Nick blinks at him. "Ummm… that's not…"

"Fucking seconded!" James says.

"Aw, come on, guys…" Jeff says, mildly disgusted.

"Third!" Ethan says.

"All in favor?" Luke asks.

"We are not voting on this!" Nick says.

Several hands go up anyway.

"Put your hands down, you bunch of babies!" Jeff says.

"You can't tell us what to do!" Ethan says.

"Yeah, who died and made you Fire Lord?" James asks, before realizing with no small amount of horror—"Oh, shit, sorry Blaine!"

Blaine rolls his eyes. "It's fine."

"Gentlemen, calm yourselves!" Trent says. "Luke, please explain the reasoning behind your motion."

"Okay, where do I start?" Luke asks. "Oh, how about 'we just tried to overthrow the government?' You know what that's called? Treason! If they catch us, we'll all be executed! We're schoolchildren!"

"I don't want to die a virgin!" James cries.

"I don't want to die at all!" Ethan moans.

"This is pathetic," Jeff says with a scowl. "I thought Dalton dudes were made of sterner stuff than this!"

Flint stands up to speak. "Dalton men are made of tender flesh and brittle bone, just like everyone else!" he says. "We could have died today. Many of us nearly did! This is completely and utterly insane—we are in so far over our heads that we can't even see the surface!"

Nick gapes at him. "Dude, what's gotten into you?"

"Yeah, I thought you were supposed to be all calm and wise and shit!" Jeff says.

"Oh, that's just an act!" Flint shamefully admits. "All I do is parrot lines from books I've read. Most of the time I don't even know what I'm saying! I'm just as scared as anyone. My mom will kill me if she finds out I'm a fugitive!"

"This is too much!"

"We're too young to die!"

"Agni save us all!"

And thus the room descends into chaos. Arguments and epithets fly back and forth like cows fired from catapults. Nick futilely tries to calm everyone down, while Jeff calls them all whiner babies and tries to provoke them into a courageous patriotic fervor, and over all the din, Trent melodramatically wails "Order has fallen! Anarchy reigns! The Dark Ages are upon us once more!"

"Well, uhhh… this is new," Finn says, watching the insanity with slightly bugged-out eyes.

"They're falling apart!" Rachel laments. "At this rate, it's only a matter of time before it comes to blows."

"My money's on blondie," Artie says. "He's a firecracker."

"This is serious!" Mercedes says, smacking him on the shoulder. "Besdes, blondie is all skin and bones. Tubby would mop the floor with that mop-top!"

Kurt glances over to where Blaine is watching, looking utterly wretched.

"Are you okay?" Kurt asks.

He jumps at Kurt's question, snapping to attention like he's been caught doing something naughty. "I'm fine," he says.

"Should we… do something about this?" Kurt asks, nodding towards the brewing brawl.

Blaine's eyes are a storm of conflict as he watches his friends shout at each other. With a heavy sigh, he divests himself from the wall and adopts his most regal posture. "I've got it," he says, stepping forth to take command. "And Kurt…" he says, stopping only briefly. "I'm sorry."

He's off before Kurt can even ask him what for.

Blaine dashes to the front of the room and leaps onto the table, shooting a plume of fire into the air. "ENOUGH!" he calls.

The Hawks immediately quiet down, staring up at their Prince. Blaine stares down at them, his eyes scanning the crowd for someone in particular. He finds him huddled a short distance away from the rest, looking very small indeed.

"Cole," he says gently. "We haven't heard from you yet. How do you feel about all this?"

Cole looks up, eyes wide and guileless. "Ummmm… I'm…" He gets hung up on a sniffle, trying to calm him quivering voice. "I'm scared," he quietly admits. "I don't… I don't know what to do about all this. I've never… done anything like this before, and… I just… I want to go home."

The admission hits Blaine like the ground after a fall, and Kurt can almost feel the impact. Cole is clearly the youngest of the Hawks, and Blaine seems to have a soft spot for him.

"It's okay, Cole," Blaine says gently. "You don't have to be scared… I'll take you home."

Cole sniffs. "You will?"

Blaine nods, and gives him a sad smile. "I promise I'll get you home… in fact, I'll get all of you home."

The Hawks let out a collective gasp, and something tightens in Kurt's chest.

"Wait, you mean…" Jeff stammers.

"This was a mistake," Blaine says. "I'm incredibly grateful for everything you guys have done for me, but you're right. You're just schoolboys. You have no place in a war…"

"You're not much older than us," Nick says quietly.

"…and I have no business starting one," Blaine continues, ignoring him. "I'm not strong enough to beat Sue yet. I know that now, but the price for this knowledge was high. Two people I love were nearly killed today, and as it stands now, they have injuries that will haunt them for life. I won't let that happen to you. I won't let you pay for my mistakes. That's why I'm personally escorting each and every one of you back to your families where you'll be safe."

"What about you?" Trent asks.

"Don't worry about me," Blaine says. "I'll be fine. I'll go into hiding, maybe do some training…"

"What about Sue?" Jeff asks.

"Sue's not a threat to the world right now," Blaine says. "As much as I hate to say this… she can wait."

"Prince Blaine, we live all over the country," Nick says, something oddly knowing in his eyes. "It'll take months to get us all home."

"I know," Blaine says. "That's why I have one thing I would ask of you before we go…"

He looks right at Kurt, and it's like the bottom has fallen out of the world. He's in free fall.

"Avatar Kurt must continue his journey to master the elements and stop the plague," Blaine says. "So before we leave, I would like you to help me find a way to get him and his friends safely out of the country. Will you do that?"

Now everyone is looking at Kurt, their faces in varying states of ruin.

"Umm… motion to help the Avatar," Jeff stammers.

"Second," Trent says softly.

"All in favor?" Nick asks.

One by one, every hand rises. Even timid little Cole's.

"Motion carried by unanimous vote," Nick says, and Kurt would be touched if he wasn't so miserable.

"Thank you," Kurt manages to say.

Blaine gives him a wobbly smile. "It's the least we can do, after all you've done for us," he sniffs. "Maybe… maybe one day, after you've saved the world, you can come back and visit?"

The note of hope in Blaine's voice shatters Kurt's heart like a vase. "Of course," he says, keeping his voice steady. "Of course I will."

Blaine beams at him with tears in his eyes. "Good. I'm glad," he says to Kurt, turning to the room at large. "Thank you… thank you all for believing in me and standing by me. I'm… I'm sorry I let you down. But I'm going to make it right."

Blaine steps off the table, leaving the devastated Dragon Hawks to conclude their meeting.

"We should… ummm…" Jeff says thickly. "We should go ahead and get started…"

"Yeah," Nick says. "Okay, umm… split up into pairs and fan out in the city, see what you can learn."

"Remember, we're hobos now, so stick to alleyways and try to look downtrodden," Trent adds with a slight sniffle.

"Don't think we'll have a problem there," Jeff mutters, before saying louder. "Meeting adjourned."

The Hawks drag themselves miserably from the room, leaving the Prince and his not-so-merry multicultural band of brethren. Those left regard him in varying states of sadness and shock, from Artie's slightly-cracked stoicism to Rachel's barely-contained blubbering. Kurt doesn't even want to know what his own face looks like right now.

Blaine pleads with them. "Guys, I'm so sorry," he says. "I wanted to talk about this, but… everything just happened so fast, and… I can't leave my friends when they need me. Wes and David are far too weak to travel alone right now, and the Hawks need someone to look up to. I can't. I can't come with you. I'm sorry."

"It's okay," says an unsteady voice that sound suspiciously like Kurt's, but can't be, because it's not okay. "It's your choice, and you know we respect that."

Finn nods. "We'll miss you, though," he says thickly.

"For real," Mercedes adds.

Artie holds out a fist. "Stay strong, B-Money."

"I just…" Rachel sniffs. "I wish…"

"Hey," Blaine says gently. "We don't… we don't have to do this now. No one's leaving yet. This isn't goodbye."

He tries to smile, but it falls flat, and the unspoken sentiment rules the silence. 'If this isn't goodbye, why does it feel like one?'

Finn wipes his eyes. "I've got a… I should probably… umm… Wes," he stammers. "I haven't checked on Wes in a while. I'll go… do that."

"I'll… the animals, someone should feed them, and… that someone is me," Rachel says, wiping her nose as she turns away.

"Intelligence work needs intelligence behind it. I'll go help with recon," Artie says, keeping his head low as he rolls out.

"I'm gonna see about rustling up some grub," Mercedes says, her face perfectly still until the split second she turns and walks away.

They leave quickly, none of them looking back, and then it's just Blaine and Kurt, and Blaine is so sad and so guilty and Kurt hates him and loves him and understands him even if wishes he didn't. It's all he can do to remind himself, over and over again, you knew this was coming, Avatar Gaga practically told you it was coming.

You have to let him go.

"Kurt, I'm so sorry," Blaine says, head hung low. "I've ruined everything."

"No, you haven't," Kurt says. "This isn't ruin, it's not the end, it's not even an end, not really…"

Blaine tries so hard to brighten up. "No goodbyes, right?"

"Never," Kurt says.

Blaine moves towards him, and the next thing he knows, they're hugging, so tight and desperate that it feels like they're trying to honest-to-goodness fuse, just so they won't have to part.

"I'm going to miss you so much," Kurt sniffs.

"Me too," Blaine says.

They hold each other for a long time.

It's not enough.


Kurt takes to a small room on the first floor to sink into the stormy depths of his own thoughts. He's only just gotten a decent brood going when suddenly, a rather loud and obnoxious ray of sunshine breaks through the clouds and blinds him.

"Kurt, there you are!" Rachel says cheerily, popping up like an unwanted zit. "I was just looking for you."

"Not now, Rachel," Kurt groans. "I'm brooding."

"Well, surely you would like some company—"

"Brooding is a very solitary activity," Kurt says. "There is no such thing as 'a brood of brooders.'"

"I'm not here to brood," Rachel says. "I'm here to help! I have just the thing to take your mind off of Blaine-related angst—Blangst, if you will."

"Blangst?" Kurt repeats skeptically.

Rachel trucks right on, oblivious as ever. "I would like for you to teach me airbending!"

Well, that's new. Kurt scrunches his nose like someone puffed air on it. "Really?"

"I am not prone to sarcasm," Rachel says archly.

"No, but you are prone to unrelenting pride and self-love that borders on masturbatory," Kurt says. "You've always turned down my help before. Why the sudden change of heart?"

Rachel plops down beside him. "I did it," she says.

Kurt blinks. "You airbent?"

She nods. "It saved Finn's life."

Kurt beams at her. "Rachel, that's incredible!"

"No, it isn't!" Rachel cries. "It's terrible!"

Kurt's smile fades and he cocks his head back. "Okay, you've lost me. Why is saving Finn's life a bad thing?"

"Oh, that's not the bad part. The bad part is that it happened when it shouldn't have!" Rachel moans.

Kurt just shakes his head. "I'm… sorry?"

"Let me explain," Rachel sighs. "When you were raining icy judgment down upon the Fire Nation, Finn tried to stop you. It was amazing, he was amazing, so brave and selfless, and he was bending so well—Kurt, you would have been so proud of him…"

"There's a 'but' coming, isn't there?" Kurt says.

Rachel grimaces. "But… when he tried to reach you, he fell. And you were… very, very high—"

"I nearly killed Finn?" Kurt says, horrified.

"Yes, but we're not talking about you right now!" Rachel continues. "He was falling from so high up, and all I could do was watch. I just knew if he hit the ground he would die, so I ran over, and… I stopped him. I airbent with all of my heart and soul and it was the most incredible thing I've ever felt."

"And that shouldn't have happened… why?" Kurt asks.

"Because I suck at airbending!" Rachel says. "Don't you see? Before that, I had never successfully airbent even once. Finn's life depended on my skill, which was essentially nonexistent! It's pure luck that he didn't splatter all over the ground—"

Not picturing that, not picturing that, so not picturing that—

"—and I cannot rely on luck!" Rachel says. "That is not how a professional operates. A true performer rehearses. She goes over every line and every note until the script is written into her bones, because so many others depend on her to do her part. Directors, stage managers, other actors, they are all there to help each other, because the most important thing isn't the performer—it's the performance. The play itself."

Kurt cocks a brow at her. "So, you're saying…"

"I'm saying I've been selfish and prideful," Rachel says. "I've put the actress before the play, my own needs over the needs of the whole. And Finn could easily have died because of it. This is serious—people's lives are on the line, and there is no place here for my pride. Therefore, I cast off the mantle of diva!" she cries, throwing an imaginary crown. "And I humble myself as your student. I intend to be the best I can possibly be, and if that means accepting help from others… then that's what I'll do." She smiles at him. "You are my friends. I refuse to let you fall."

Kurt smiles back. "That's very mature of you, Rachel."

Rachel preens. "I know!" she says brightly. "So… Master Kurt, will you please help me with my airbending?"

Kurt stands and offers her a hand. "I would be delighted, Pupil Rachel."

She takes it, and together, they walk to the factory proper, a wide room with plenty of air to practice with. The work is wonderful. Kurt expects to tire quickly due to the day's earlier events, but something about airbending just invigorates him. Rachel proves to be a quick study when she finally gets over herself, and by the end of the lesson, she has clearly made progress.

After an hour or so, Kurt suddenly understands why the Air Nomads tend to save their heads. His hair is as high and poofy as it's ever been. Rachel's hair is no better, sticking out strands in every direction like an octopus orgy. The lesson never officially ends—Kurt and Rachel just reach a point where they can't stop laughing at each other's hair, and progress stops being made.

By the end of it, they're both on the ground, and Kurt's giggle fits are slowly starting to subside. Without even meaning to, he sighs, and suddenly it's like everything comes flooding back to him.

Rachel, oddly enough, actually notices his sudden turn for the maudlin.

"He's not doing this because he doesn't love you, you know," Rachel says, poking him in the shoulder.

"I know," Kurt says. "I know he loves me. He just… loves his friends more."

"No, that's not it at all," Rachel says. "He believes in you. He thinks his friends won't survive without him, but you, he has complete faith in. He thinks you don't need him."

Kurt rolls over to look at her. "And what if I do?" he asks.

Rachel meets his eyes and gives him a dazzling smile. "Then you'll find your way back to him," she says simply. "That's what I believe. And you should believe it, too."

Kurt wants to tell her that it isn't that simple, but he can't think of any reasons it wouldn't be.

Maybe it is that simple.

Maybe he should just believe in them.

Maybe…

"EMERGENCY!" calls a voice from below. "EMERGENCY MEETING, EVERYBODY GET DOWN HERE NOW!"

Kurt's heart leaps to his throat. Rachel leaps to her feet and helps him up and both of them run full-tilt down to the meeting room in the basement. They are the last group members to arrive, save for the injured.

"What?" Kurt asks. "What is it?"

"We found this outside," Nick says, holding up a poster for Kurt to read. "They're all over town!"

Kurt starts reading and his heart starts sinking, getting lower and lower with every word.

The Office of the Fire Lord is pleased to announce the PUBLIC EXECUTION of two FIRE-HATING, BABYSKIN-HAT-WEARING TRAITOR-TERRORISTS (or TRAITORISTS) will be held TOMORROW MORNING in the TOWN SQUARE.

The first ONE HUNDRED VISITORS will be entered into a RAFFLE for a chance to win a COMMEMORATIVE URN of traitorist ashes, which make great FERTILIZER for your HOME GARDEN!

The EXECUTION will be presided over by the honorable FIRE LORD SUE SYLVESTER.
Anyone asking for autographs will be fined and imprisoned.

By the time he reaches the end, Kurt's heart is flattened out against the soles of his feet, and vivid images of Sam's execution are playing over and over in his mind.

He can tell just by looking that Finn is having the same problem. He looks like he's about to vomit. That makes two of them.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Kurt announces. "Our priorities have just shifted big-time…"

He takes the poster and slams it on the table.

"We have to save them."

TO BE CONTINUED…


A/N: Coming Up – We check on Sam and Thad in prison. Sam meets with some old frenemies, while Thad faces the wrath of the Fire Lord and Quinn tries to abate the carnage. Meanwhile, Kurt and friends attempt to hammer out a rescue plan that won't get anyone killed, while Blaine has a heart-to-heart with Sebastian and learns more than he bargained for.

CHAPTER 76 Exile Vilify, Part 2