This is my small contribution to the DaltonVerse, I hope you all enjoy. I do not own Glee. The Characters of Blaine and Kurt belong to Glee and the illustrious Ryan Murphy. This story is based on CP Coulter's Dalton and all other characters are hers.

A Dalton Disaster

"Two essays, six chapters of reading, four problem sets, and an art history report." Kurt seethed tossing his near bursting book bag onto a chair.

The dark haired boy on the sofa looked up from his guitar, "Sounds like someone has a good week ahead of them."

Kurt rolled his eyes and plopped down next to Blaine, "As if Mondays weren't bad enough already, but every instructor in this school seems to deem it appropriate to drown us in gratuitous amounts of work the first day of the week." Kurt rubbed his forehead in frustration.

"Well," Blaine smiled, putting his arm around Kurt's shoulders, "I guess free time is one of those things you have to sacrifice to go to the same school as me."

Kurt smiled, it was impossible not to when Blaine was being so charming. Their eyes met and they leaned their foreheads together. If any one could talk him down and make him feel like, by some miracle, the world had become perfect, it was Blaine.

"Alice!" Blaine and Kurt jerked their heads up in surprise. The Twins had emerged from the kitchen. "We are most deeply offended"

"We thought you were here because you liked all of us."

"Apparently he's only at Dalton because of Mr. White Rabbit here."

"I guess he doesn't care for the rest of us at all." The two turned up their noses in mock distain and flounced to the front door.

Kurt laughed, "Evan! Ethan! You know I care about you! After all where would I be without my Tweedles?"

The twins released identical whoops of triumph and high fived before racing merrily out the door.

Of course they all knew Kurt wasn't at Dalton solely because he wanted to be with Blaine, or any of the other Windsor boys for that matter, but it made them all feel better to forget about the more serious issues of harassment and death threats and pretend that their dear little Alice had made the choice to transfer to Dalton based on the draw of friendship alone.

Blaine removed his arm from around Kurt's shoulders and rested it again on his guitar. "So do you want to hear my new song?" The younger boy's sapphire eyes lit up and Blaine was glad to see that any recollection of miserable Mondays had fled.

Kurt nodded vigorously. "I'd love to."

The song writer smirked at his audience's enthusiasm as he began to strum a relaxed, enchanting melody.

Say, wasn't that a funny day?
Gee, you had a funny way—a way about you.
A kind of glow of something new.

The full power of his hypnotic gaze was turned on Kurt who felt his heart palpitate.

Sure—I'll admit that I'm the same.
Another sucker for a game kids like to play,
And the rules they like to use.

Don't you want the way I feel?
Don't you want the way I feel?
Don't you want the way I feel for you?

There was a loud but distant bang, Kurt jumped but Blaine continued to play unperturbed, he was too accustomed to explosions going off haphazardly in Windsor to be startled.

The sun: telling me the night is done.
Well I refuse to let it stop our fun.
Close your eyes—we'll make it dark again
And kiss; there's a thought, so how 'bout this?
Let's pretend that both our lips are made of candy.
After all, we need sweets every now and then.

Blaine looked up again, giving Kurt a playful wink. Kurt felt a warm flush spread across his cheeks. He was certain that those eyes would forever have the power to make him blush. Drawn by the sound of music, small groups of boys had wandered into the doorways and some lingered on the stairs, wrapped up in the magic of the simple yet beautiful melody.

Don't you want the way I feel?
Don't you want the way I feel?
Don't you want the way I feel for you?

Before Blaine could continue onto the next verse Chaz rushed down the stairs, eliciting many complaints from the boys he pushed out of the way in his hurry. When Kurt caught site of his face he knew something was wrong. It was pinched and stark white, Chaz might get upset easily, but Kurt had never seen him like this.

"Mark, lock the door." The prefect ordered, his voice shaking with strong emotion, as he himself ran to pull curtains across all the windows. Barely able to control the trembling of his arms, he slowly turned back to the boys.

Blaine set down his guitar, "Chaz, what's wrong?"

The prefect took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. "There has been a shooting." The room became dead silent. "I got a call from Dean Ramsey. All of Dalton is on lockdown."

The paralyzed silence lasted for a moment longer before the room erupted.

"Who's been shot?"

"Who did it?"

"Where? Here?"

"Is someone dead?"

"What the hell!"

Charlie fruitlessly tried to bring order to the panicking boys. Not a syllable of what he was attempting to say could be heard over the din.

"Shut up!" This yell had the effect of a sobering slap to the face. Blaine stood on the coffee table. "Your shouting isn't going to help. We need to listen to Charlie." He motioned for the older boy to join him on the coffee table.

"I'm sorry I don't have more information." The prefect's voice quavered as Blaine helped him onto the platform. "The Dean says that no one is to leave the building and we aren't to let anyone in." At this another outbreak of questions arose which were again silenced by a look from Blaine. "We need to see who is in Windsor and who is missing and see if we can locate them. Wes, David, get everyone out of their rooms. We need to do a head count." Charlie gained composure as he gave the orders. "Blaine," he turned to the dark haired boy next to him, "can you get the house roster from my room?" The second in command nodded and exited the room quickly.

As Kurt watched his boyfriend disappear he felt overwhelming panic bubble up from the pit of his stomach. Fighting to hide his distress from the other boys, who he was sure felt the same sense of terror, he sat stiffly down on the sofa. The same sofa on which mere minutes ago Blaine had been singing to him with that beautiful, melodic voice of his. That moment seemed from a different world, a gunshot had changed everything. Someone had been shot; Kurt didn't know who had wielded the gun or who had taken the bullet, but that didn't matter. The fact was that someone had been shot in the place that was quickly becoming his second home. Kurt was wracked with sorrow for the victim or victims and fear that the mysterious shooter would hurt someone else, or that he may even make his way to Windsor…

The whole room seemed to be holding their breath as they heard Wes and David running up and down the hallways above shouting for people to come out of their rooms. Slowly, the late comers began to trickle in confused and worried. Kurt watched as their faces turned from befuddlement to horror as Chaz told them of the event that had just occurred. Two older boys had to restrain Dwight from running out the front door, sprayer in hand, adamant about exorcising the obviously possessed shooter. After everyone had been informed of the situation, Blaine handed the house roster and a pen to the prefect. He sat on the sofa taking Kurt's soft hand in his own.

"You okay?" He whispered in Kurt's ear.

"As of now, yes. You?"

Blaine nodded and looked back up at Charlie who had begun talking again.

"I am going to do a brief head count. After I check your name off return to your room, shut your windows, and close your blinds. Please make sure to keep your cell phones on in case we need to reach you. No one is to leave the building! I will let you know as soon as we hear anything else." Charlie looked down at the roster checking the top name, his own, off the list. "Anderson." He said as he checked off the next name without looking up, he knew Blaine was in the room. However, the next two names presented a problem, "Brightman." The prefect called looking around.

There were no twin shouts of "present" or any other exclamation the twins might find appropriate to use. Everyone looked around apprehensively, but the identical blonde heads were nowhere to be seen.

Kurt gasped, "They're outside." Shocked cries were heard from the surrounding boys, "Remember Blaine before you sang to me they left…" He felt his breath get short, his lungs seemed to seize up as he turned to his boyfriend, but the other boy already had his phone out and was dialing Evan's number.

The patter of quick light footsteps was heard on the stairs and the crowd of Windsor boys looked up to see the very boys they thought had been missing come dashing towards them.

"How did you get it?" Charlie asked in shock.

"Well that isn't a very nice greeting is it?" First they lock us out and then they aren't even glad to see us when we climb through a second story window," said Ethan to his brother.

"Yes they best work on their manners."

"There's been a shooting." The twin's faces fell in unison.



"We don't know any details yet. We are checking to make sure everyone is accounted for then waiting in lockdown for more information."

The twins looked pale, they nodded solemnly and trudged up the stairs in the direction of their room, no spring left in their step.

The roll call continued without a hitch until the prefect reached the H's.


Dwight erupted in exclamations, pushing away any boy who tried to hold him back, and pulling out a pendulum and other amulets as he tried to lunge for the door. "Someone find me a wooden stake! And a silver bullet! You never know when these things are more than just you average demon... arg!" Wes had pinned him to the ground.

"We can't let you do that Dwight, it's too dangerous, even if you did have a silver stake or wooden bullet or whatever." Dwight opened his mouth to correct Wes and protest further but was cut off again. "Hey Chaz, I'm gonna go take our little Van Helsing up to his room, just check my name off now." With that he yanked Dwight to his feet and escorted him up the stairs.

Kurt's name was called next, but he chose to stay with Blaine in case there was anything he could do to help, and because the panic was so much greater when they were separated.

As they got further and further down the list they were relieved to see that every name called corresponded to a living breathing body in the room. Luckily, all the boys had come straight to Windsor after class and had not yet left for afterschool extracurriculars.

The relief didn't last long. With only four names left to go they heard a sound that made all their hearts stop and their stomachs fall past their toes; the unmistakable sound of a gunshot ringing across the grounds.

"Shit." Charlie whispered. Blaine grasped Kurt's hand and squeezed tightly as they heard screams and frightened exclamations from the rooms up stairs.

They stood there shaking, straining their ears for any type of sound. The sound of sirens could be heard at first distant and far off but coming closer. Kurt knew that sirens meant help but for some reason this undulation of noise was too much for him. Blaine felt the tremor of fear that wracked the slender boy next to him and he pulled him in close. Kurt closed his eyes, resting his head against the older boy's shoulder. He could hear Blaine's heart beat racing just as fast as his own.

Eyes still closed Kurt heard Chaz resume the roll call. "Van Kamp? Van Kamp?" Kurt froze. "Has anyone seen Reed?"

Kurt opened his eyes, banishing the protective darkness and peering around. The room was empty aside from him, Blaine, the prefect, and two boys whose names were are the very end of the alphabet.

His mind started to race, when had he last seen Reed? It had been after class, the little cherub like boy had gone to speak to a professor all the way on the other side of campus.

"I'll call him," said Blaine, "he's probably locked in a class room, or maybe the teacher's lounge. Kurt could barely sense the underlying alarm in Blaine's calm voice.

They watched with bated breath as Blaine dialed Reed's number and pressed the phone to his ear. After a few long seconds he put the phone back down. "He didn't answer." There was a sharp intake of breath from around the room. "But I'm sure he's fine…" Blaine's voice sounded hollow and he was paler than Kurt had ever seen him.

At that moment both Kurt and Blaine's cell phones buzzed. "Come to my room. It's urgent. –The Caterpillar" They read the message and looked at each other identical looks of confusion and anxiety in their eyes.

"Charlie, I have to go do something upstairs. Will you be fine checking in the last few by yourself?"

"Sure Blaine." The shaking had returned to the prefect's voice.

Without a second's hesitation Blaine grasped Kurt's hand and pulled him up the stairs. On the second flight Kurt stumbled over a damask patterned rug, but Blaine gracefully caught him and continued to tow him up to the fourth floor. "The White Rabbit" he panted quickly as they approached the door and motioned for Kurt to follow his lead.

"Alice." With this the door slid to the side, the usual blanket of dry ice billowing out from the bottom slat.

Blaine forced his way into the room before the door was properly. "Han what is it? What's happened?"

Kurt glanced around the dimly lit room. Wes and David sat on Han's futon with a disgruntled and frightened looking Dwight squeezed between them. All three were panting as if they had also just arrived from running up the stairs. The Twins stood facing the new comers, one on either side of Han. Their faces were blank. Kurt knew that look well, and it was the absence of expression that occurs when someone is trying to suppress very powerful emotion.

"Yeah Han, can you tell us now that we're all here?" David asked urgently, standing up. Wes and Dwight rose too and came closer. Dwight was no longer trying to escape. He rocked back and forth looking frightened and whispering incantations to himself.

"As you know I have cameras all around the school." Han said, slowly turning to face them in his swivel chair. "When I heard Chaz say there had been a shooting I checked all my feeds. It didn't take me long to find the scene I was searching for." His voice was low and measured, heavy with sorrow.

"Who was it? Who got shot?" Kurt asked voice shaking.

"Professor Dodson." By the time I figured out where she was there already people attending her…" His voice trailed off.

"Is she ok." Wes asked.

The Caterpillar shook his head. "She was shot in the head, there was never much chance." The group was silent, absorbing the shock.

"What about the shooter?" Blaine queried rubbing his forehead.

"I've been following him on camera, and I've been in contact with the police relaying them his location. Mind you that it has been less than twelve minutes since the shooting so they did not arrive until about four minutes ago. However, thanks to my information he has already been caught. I think they are under the impression I'm a security guard or something because they didn't seem to question the fact I had the whole school under surveillance…"

"Who did it?"

"Do you all know Alan Langford?"

"Yeah, he's in Dwight's grade isn't he." David turned to Dwight who just nodded numbly.

"Alan Langford!" Wes almost shouted. "What? How? That quiet little Stuart? How the- he seemed so harmless."

"Apparently there are more heavily medicated Stuarts than we thought." Han replied with a glance towards Blaine and Kurt. "His private medical record says that he's schizophrenic."

The room was silent; Wes, David, and Dwight seemed to be a bit more relaxed now that all the facts had been brought to light. Now that they knew what had happened there was no need for fear, only melancholy. Blaine seemed to be wrapped in somber contemplation. Kurt tried to banish his anxiety, however the blank faces of the twins were still disturbing him. Suddenly a memory that had been forgotten in the confusion resurfaced.

"Han," Kurt breathed, "what about the second gun shot?" The change in the room was instantaneous. David, Wes, and Dwight snapped back into fearful attention. Identical shivers shook the twins and they move towards each other. Blaine's grip on Kurt's hand became like steel.

Han let out a sigh so full of feeling that Kurt instantly became more anxious. "That's why I called you here…" He stopped looking almost unable to go on. Kurt looked at the Twins and noticed tears rolling down their faces.

"Han…" Blaine encouraged his voice raspy as if choking down the terror trying to emerge.

"Like I said I followed the shooter with my cameras and gave his location to the police." Han's voice was no more than a whisper. "He was hiding in the hallway by the senior commons and someone can around the corner, they didn't even have time to realize what was going on…" He buried his face in his hands and seemed unable to go on.

"Han… Han! Who was it? Who got shot?" For once the true panic that Blaine felt was exposed in his voice.

"Evan? Ethan?" Kurt asked desperately looking at the Tweedle's teary faces.

"He should never have left the tea party."

"He should never have woken up."

"He should have just let us keep him in the tea pot."

"Oh our poor little Dormouse."

Kurt's world went black and he felt numb. A second latter when he became aware again he could have sworn he had fainted but he was still standing staring at the twins who had now completely lost control and were sobbing into each other's shoulders."

"Caterpillar is it true?" He heard the boy next to him ask.

Han nodded emerging from behind his hands, "He's been shot but I think he'll be ok. Alan freaked out and shot out of instinct, he didn't take the time to aim. Reed was hit in the abdomen, on the right side, just below the rib cage. The paramedics have just put him in the ambulance." He pointed to the blue tooth in his ear from which he had obviously gotten this information. "I have faith in modern medicine. I think they'll be able to fix him."

Kurt snorted darkly, "You talk about him like he's a toy, like he's just been broken and all we need is a bit of glue to 'fix' him." He wasn't quite sure where this anger was coming from. "Maybe you haven't noticed Han, but Reed is a real live human being, not just some video game character on your screen. It's going to take a hell of a lot more than a heath pack to make him better."

"Kurt," Blaine said sharply resting both hands on the slightly taller boy's shoulders and pulling him back a little, "I think you're in shock, don't yell at Han."

Kurt wanted to pull away and scream at the boy in the chair, he didn't know why he had this suddenly burst of anger but it was better than feeling the other emotion that was slowly taking over his brain. Kurt opened his mouth again but then he caught sight of Han's pained expression and all the heat left him. His legs wobbled and he probably would have fallen over had Blaine not caught him. "I'm sorry…" tears began to fall from his cerulean eyes and he hid his face in Blaine's shoulder. Muffled phrases were heard by the other boys, "I'm sorry… Saved him… if you hadn't been watching… too late… paramedics… thanks to you." Then the room was quiet apart from labored breathing and sniffling.

Eventually Kurt felt Blaine lead him from the room. In the hallway he looked at the other boys face red and splotch and wet with the remnants of tears. "Sorry about that, in there…" Kurt wasn't exactly sure how to apologize for his behavior.

"It's alright." Blaine squeezed his hand as he led him down the stairs, "everyone reacts differently in these kinds of situations."

"True but I'm not usually like that. I don't know why I lost control. The anger was like an escape…"

Blaine nodded as he opened his door. "Just forget about it. We have better things to worry about for the moment."

They perched themselves on Blaine's bed each wrapped in the same thoughts. Both knew what it was like to lose a dear one, and although the sweet little Dormouse was not lost they couldn't help but feel similar pangs of grief. Kurt sighed, his tears were spent. He rested his head on Blaine's shoulder.

"The volatile nature of man is a scary thing… to think that someone like Alan Langford would just pick up a gun and try to kill someone." Blaine shook his head, "Sometimes I just don't understand…"

"He was sick Blaine… schizophrenic… he probably hadn't been taking any medication."

"And does that make it better? 'Oh he shot my friend but it's totally ok because he was mentally ill.'" A sarcastic tone had slipped into his voice. "I don't think that's an excuse… " The resentment drained from him, "Sorry, I just think they are just as responsible to their fellow man as any of the rest of us are… And it makes me scared of what other people could do it they don't take their medication – "

Kurt picked up on his insinuation, "Blaine, Logan's not schizophrenic, sure he gets angry but I don't think he would ever be capable of killing someone."

"He did throw me through a set of oak doors."

Kurt didn't have a response to this so he just hugged the other boy tightly and whispered, "Don't worry I'll be safe."

Blaine returned the hug then straightened up wiping away the last of his tears. "Alright are you ready to go to the hospital?"

The Caterpillar sat alone in his room, ghostly white in the glow of the computer screens. He removed the blue tooth, they had transported Reed, his help we no longer needed. He swiveled around to face a screen to his right. The screensaver switched off, displaying the paused video that Han had been watching before he called the other boys to his room. A figure stood on the side of the screen, Han couldn't take his eyes of him. The strawberry blond boy's eyes were wide his jaw gaping open. Tiny scraps of paper were flying from the book he clutched to his side where just one frame before a tiny silver blur could be seen. Forcing himself to wrench his eyes away, the Caterpillar closed the window.

They we're allowed to see Reed yet. The bullet had to be removed along with part of his intestine that it had torn apart. A nurse had come out to inform them that Reed would be ok, granted everything went as planned. The bullet had missed any major organs and blood vessels.

The Windsor boys sat lounged around the waiting room, half empty bags of chips from the vending machine scattered about them. At first they had sat in silence. After an hour or so went by they tried to talk about light happy subjects, but the conversation always came back to Reed. Kurt hated to think of his roommate stretched out on an operating table, a bullet lodged inside him. Yet at the same time it was comforting that they were at a hospital, it was the lesser of two evils.

"Did anyone see Chaz before we left?" asked Blaine, he was reclining on a couch in the corner, one arm around Kurt. To the rest of the world he may have looked relaxed but the Windsor boys could read the anxiety he was still emitting.

"I did," David responded from the chair across from Blaine and Kurt's couch. He shifted uncomfortably; he didn't like being in this all too familiar hospital. "He caught me while I was running out the door, tried to tell me what had happened. I told him we already knew. He looked a bit confused and mumbled something about getting the rest of the boys together to tell them."

"Has someone called his mother?" asked Kurt.

"The school probably has. I expect that she's on her way now."

They were momentarily distracted by Dwight who sat cross legged on the linoleum floor a thin circle of salt surrounding him. "You guys I think—"

"Dwight what are you doing we're in public!"

The spiritualist glared at Wes, "Well excuse me for trying to protect myself! There are thousands of spirits roaming this building and not all of them benign! If you were wise you would let me make you a salt circle too!"

"Not likely to –"

"Wes knock it off," scolded Kurt. "What were you going to say Dwight?"

"I was just going to remind you," Dwight glared at Wes for a second longer before turning a more kindly look on Blaine, "that there is someone else we still need to call."

"Wha— "


"Alright," sighed Blaine, "I know I need to…"

The Windsor boys froze, comprehension dawning on them all. Blaine rose and headed towards the door way. Kurt rose to follow him. "It's okay Kurt. You stay here, I can handle this."

No one made a sound as they strained to hear their friend's voice from outside the room.

"Hey Shane… yeah it's Blaine."

The Tweedles scooted their chairs towards the door, trying not to make a sound.

"I have something I have to tell you… have you been watching the news? Okay, well there's been a shooting at Dalton." A pregnant pause, "Yes I'm fine, or else I probably wouldn't have been the one calling you." There was a moment in which Blaine tried fruitlessly to get a word in. Shane's voice was almost loud enough to be heard by the eavesdroppers. "Shane stop! Let me talk to you! Yes it's Reed. No its okay, he's okay… I mean he's alive. He was shot but now he's in the hospital and he should be fine. Shane calm down. We haven't been able to see him yet, he's having the bullet removed. We should be able to see him soon. Yeah, you should probably come down here… I'll send someone to pick you up. Don't worry it won't take too long. Bye Shane." Blaine exhaled loudly and reentered the room.

"You probably should have called him earlier you know." said Kurt as Blaine reclaimed the seat next to him.

"I know but I don't know if that would have been the wisest choice. You see Shane doesn't do well with suspense or composure for that matter. I think it is better for us and for him that we waited."

"I'll go pick him up," offered Wes.

"I'll come with. You're going to need someone to keep him calm."

"Thanks guys, but I can go if…"

"No it's no problem. We'll be back soon."

"Bye Hatter! Bye Hare!" chimed the Twins as the two best friends left the room. Now that they were left with the three most somber members of the group, the Twins took it upon themselves to lighten the mood in the room. They strapped empty chip bags to their feet and attempted to slide across the floor. However, they only succeeded in obliterating Dwight's salt circle and getting him to chase them around the room. Kurt and Blaine were thankful for the mindless distraction and viewed the mayhem in a slightly less morose state of mind than before.

Evan had just snatched Dwight's holy-water-sprayer from him and was standing on a chair holding it far from the other boy's reach, when the nurse came in. She looked quizzically at the jumble of boys in the corner before turning to the calmer ones on the sofa.

"Are you here for Reed Van Kamp?" Blaine and Kurt sat up straighter and the Twins gave Dwight one last squirt in the face before tossing him the sprayer and coming closer.

"Yes!" Kurt was eager for good news.

"We've removed the bullet and stitched him up. He's going to be fine." The Twins cheered in celebration. "You can come see him now. But careful not to over whelm him or excite him, he's been through quite an ordeal." She glanced significantly at the Twins who smiled back at her like little blond angels.

Reed's room was stark white like the rest of the hospital. The baby blue curtains that were used to divide the room had been pushed back because the bed closest to the door was unoccupied. In this room of washed out shades Reed laid, his head propped on a fluffy pillow. His strawberry blond curls framed his pale face. Kurt wasn't sure that angels existed but if they did he was certain they would look like the beautiful boy on the hospital bed. The room was already full of flowers, which must have been delivered while he was having the bullet removed. A large bouquet of white roses was from the Dalton administration, a smaller cluster of lavender and white lilies had a tag that read "Get well soon Reed!" in Chaz's writing with the blue Windsor shield emblazoned below, an elegant potted orchid bore a tag saying "I love you darling, Mother will be there soon". Kurt was surprised by how short a time it had taken for so many flowers to be delivered, but he was most surprised by the vase of smiling yellow daffodils whose accompanying card was signed "love the Tweedles".

Reed's long delicate lashes fluttered and he opened his big brown eyes to see the room around him.

"Kurt!" This was clearly meant to be an exclamation although his voice was quiet and raspy.

"Hey Reed." Kurt took the boys small hand and squeezed it gently. Somehow he found himself smiling. Having tangible proof that his friend was alive brought a rush of euphoric relief.

"Why are you smiling?" Reed looked puzzled.

Kurt squeezed his friend's hand, "Let's just say I'm really happy to see you."

"Kurt, I don't think you understand the horror of what I've been through… they're making me wear a hospital gown!" a smile broke across the invalid's face.

All the boys laughed. They hadn't expected to find Reed tearless much less making jokes.

"Hi Blaine, hi Ethan and Evan, hey Dwight."

The other four boys approached the bed, the Twins much more calmly than they usually would.

"Dormouse! We were worried about you. You shouldn't have left your teapot."

Reed giggled and then groaned.

"Are you alright? What's wrong?"

"I'm fine, it's just when I breath to quickly, or laugh I guess, it hurts."

"We'll make a note of that," the Tweedles chirped in unison.

"Are you on any pain medication?" Asked Blaine taking a seat on the side of the bed.

"Yeah, and it works mostly, except when I laugh or sneeze. They didn't want to put me on anything too strong."

"Is there anything you need? Food or water?"

Reed nodded towards a glass of water on his bedside table, "Could you get that for me?" Blaine picked up the glass and held it gently to Reed's lips. "Thanks." His voice sounded notably less raspy.

"Reed do you—" Kurt was cut off by a loud clattering in the hallway.

"I don't need help walking, my leg is fine! Where is he! Oh sorry mam'. Excuse me." The door banged open and a tall skinny boy with a mess of black curls can hurrying in, limping slightly as he did. Shane froze for a second when he saw Reed in the bed then flew at him so quickly and gracefully that it was hard to tell he had an injured leg.

"Shane calm down. I'm fine!" The boy coughed and winced slightly. This tiny show of pain was magnified in the tall boys face. Kurt moved away from the bed and Shane took his spot gently holding Reed's had and brushing the golden curls away from his face with the other. Reed smiled up at the new comer's worried expression. "Shane," he said again, "really I'm fine."

Shane's eyes traveled around the angelic face and finally he allowed himself a small smile. "You look like an angel." Reed blushed, which caused Shane's smile to broaden.

Wes and David entered the room, greeted Reed briefly, then moved with the other boys towards the door way, attempting to give the two near the bed some privacy.

"They're almost as bad as you two." Wes said nudging Blaine in the ribs.

"Between the two of them one is going to be in the hospital every other week."

Shane had pulled a chair up as close to the bed as he could and held Reed's right hand in both of his. "Well looks like we're back to old times again with me taking care of you."

Reed made a face at him then laughed, grimacing again as he did so.

Suddenly Shane was reminded why he had rushed into the room, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I should have been there! I should have protected you!"

"Shane! You're being ridiculous! There's nothing you could have done!"

"But maybe I could have—I don't know stopped it! I could have stopped that guy from—"

"I don't want to talk about it!" Reed voice was harsh. There was a light in his eye that Shane had never seen before.

The excitement had fled from Shane as he tried to comfort Reed, "I'm sorry I just wish there was something I could have done that would have prevented this all from happening."

"I said I don't want to talk about it."

"Oh okay." Shane started to pull away, dejected and certain that he had done something to loose Reed's favor.

"No wait! Where are you going!" The injured boy grasped feebly at his companion's hands. He floundered for a second, searching for the right words to take that heart wrenching look of pain out of Shane's eyes. "You can help me now! I need you to stay!" The dancer's eyes brightened. Reed tried to calm his breath, he had never been so forward when talking to Shane before and felt slightly light headed.

The boys simply sat there for a moment fingers intertwined, gazing at each other …

"Mrs. Van Kamp!" The combined voices of the twins made Reed jump. His mother stood in the doorway, her stately figure silhouetted by the florescent lights. Her Prada heels making tapping out a staccato beat as she strode across the room.

"Reed Honey!"

Hilde Van Kamp maintained the same professional composure as last time Kurt had seen her, her hair was in a fashionable up do and no article of clothing was out of place. However, there was a slight glint in her eye and urgency in her voice that betrayed her real concern.

"Oh my darling!" The fashion editor stroked her son's forehead with maternal concern that Kurt had not seen her exhibit in his previous brief encounters with her. "Are you ok? How are you feeling?"

Reed reassured his mother with the same subdued smile and light hearted manner that had first surprised his friends. Not until Hilde Van Kamp was completely certain that her son was as comfortable as the situation allowed did she notice the boy positioned across the bed from her holding her son's hand. Reed followed her gaze to their clasped hands and tried to suppress his blush. "Um mom this is my friend Shane." Shane could feel Hilde's eyes appraising him. Suddenly he wished he had put a little more thought into picking clothes that matched. He also wished he had listened to all of Blaine's advice about manners and what to say to "people that deserve respect." He decided that in his case it was best to say as little as possible, so he smiled politely with a terse "Nice to meet you," and shook her hand. On the other side of the room Blaine, the only one able to perceive his brother's discomfort chuckled.

"Very nice to make your acquaintance." The editor flashed one of her charming yet not necessarily reassuring smiles. "It's so good to know that Reed has so many very good friends to be here for him." She released Shane's hand who just nodded awkwardly sticking with his resolution to say as little as possible.

"Come on," Blaine came to his brother's rescue, "let's give Reed some time alone with his mother." The look of relief and gratitude on Shane's face was priceless.

"Bye boys."

"Bye guys! Come back later!" Reed lifted a hand in parting.

As soon as they were out of ear shot of the room Shane left out a laugh. "Ha! Was that ever awkward!"

"You didn't embarrass yourself. That's more than I expected."

"Oh thanks that's really encouraging coming from my older brother."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah I guess you could say tact and social propriety aren't my strong suits. But it's not like it really matters—I mean Reed is just a friend—and I've met plenty of friend's parents before, and embarrassed myself in front of most of them, and…

"Shane, you know why this one is different."

"I wish it was."

"Just give it time."

"Yeah I'm trying. But you know me, I'm not very good at waiting. I'm a rusher, I rush into things. I –"

"But you'll wait if that's what he wants?"

"Of course! I just wish that he didn't want me to."

Up until this point Kurt had remained silent letting the brothers have their own little heart to heart, but he now found it appropriate to add his own opinion. "I think you are underestimating Reed's feelings for you. Sure he's confused, but if I can tell one thing it's that despite what else or who else he may like, he likes you. Of course you have to move slowly and carefully but I don't think testing the waters a little further would go astray."

This won an appreciative smile from the younger boy. "You really think so?"

"Of course. To say he appreciates your charms would be an understatement."

The ever present skip in Shane's step became more prominent despite his limp. He put an arm around his older yet shorter brother's shoulders, "I like this one. I think you should keep him around." Shane winced in mock pain as Blaine pushed him away playfully.

"Let's get you home."

"Hold on there! You don't expect me to go home do you? After all that's happened! I'm staying with you guys. I'm going to Dalton so that when you come back later you have to bring me. You aren't going to be free of me for the next few days big brother."

Blaine looked contemplative for a second, "Alright. Just don't forget your own health in all of this. It wasn't too long ago that we were worrying about you. And on that note what happened to your sling?"

"What sling? Oh I don't need it anymore."

"You don't need a sling for your broken arm anymore?"


That night the boys came back to visit. Kurt had brought Reed's favorite pajamas to spare him the torment of having to wear a hospital gown any longer.

They sat around Reed's bed chatting and making jokes. Blaine had brought his guitar and they sang a few songs creating new harmonies and laughing when the twins would change the lyrics. Nothing was said about the horrific event that had brought them to that room. Anytime someone hinted towards the shooting Reed abruptly changed the subject and eventually they learned to avoid the topic all together. Reed was by far the happiest person in the room. His constant smiles and good humor made the other boys momentarily forget that morning.

The Tweedles had just finished a retelling of how they had once put a bucket of blue paint over the main entrance to Stuart and drenched two unsuspecting rivals when the nurse came in.

"Well it looks like you've got quite the group of visitors Reed." She beamed at them maternally. "I hate to break up the party but I think it's time for you to get some sleep. However, if you would like one friend to stay the night with you they could use the unoccupied bed." She gestured to the other side of the room.

Blaine looked expectantly at Kurt, however, Kurt shook his head and nodded towards Reed who was peering at Shane from the corner of his eye as if gauging his response to the nurse's invitation. Shane in turn was looking at Kurt. Reed's best friend smiled encouragingly. "I'll stay." Shane looked down at the boy in the bed, "If that's okay with you…"

"Sure." Reed answered trying to appear casual. He may have had fooled Shane, but Kurt knew his roommate too well to miss the satisfied smirk.

The Twins jumped up, both reached out a hand and tousled Reed's curls, "Sleep well little Dormouse!"

"Don't lose the amulet I gave you!" Dwight reminded Reed as he waved good-bye.

Wes and David also bid their adieus leaving only Blaine and Kurt with the two boys that were to remain there for the night.

"Good-night Reed, I hope you feel better. Take care of Reed okay Shane? No getting him too excited. He does need to sleep."

"Don't worry big brother. I've got his best interests at heart." He laughed.

Kurt kissed Reed on the forehead. "Good night, try to get some sleep. Call me if you need anything. I'll see you in the morning. Bye Shane." Kurt gave his boyfriend's brother a knowing wink.

"Wait, Blaine!" Shane dashed out of the room after the couple and returned seconds later with his brother's guitar. "I thought we might want this… you know if we wanna sing or something…" The boy trailed off toeing the floor awkwardly.

"Alright." Reed smiled at him unreservedly.

Shane settled himself on the hospital bed. Reed was so petite that they could both fit quite comfortably. The top of the bed was currently at an angle so that the two boys were in a reclined sitting position.

Shane drummed his fingers on the top of the guitar apprehensively, screwing up the nerve to say what he wanted to, "Reed… Ever since what happened this morning – don't worry, I'm not going to talk about it," The injured boy had opened his mouth to protest. "It's just that all day I've been thinking. What if something – what if you – what if things hadn't worked out the way they did? And there are so many things I want to tell you. Life can just end so quickly—" He took a deep breath, and reigned in his rambling thoughts. "I guess what I'm trying to say is there is something I want to tell you and I don't want to wait any longer, because life is unpredictable."

Reed had his head cocked to the side listening intently, a warm flush brightened his cheeks as he realized where Shane's confession was headed.

"I know that you Warblers like to sing things to each other, and that you seemed to like it when I sang with you last time – despite how terrible I must have sounded – so I thought I'd sing you a song." Shane was now blushing too, more so than Reed had ever seen. He hurried on worried that if he left a moment of silence the other boy might object to this personal performance. Shane's long skinny fingers gently strummed out a rhythmic progression of chords. His voice started out quiet, barely more than a whisper, but clear and heavy with emotion nonetheless.

I'll never be
A knight in armor
With a sword in hand,
Or a kamikaze fighter;
Don't count on me
To storm the barricades
And take a stand,
Or hold my ground;

Reed sat enthralled but Shane's voice and the sincerity he put into the lyrics. When he heard what the dark haired boy intended to do he expected a song full of flirtation or seduction, not this heartfelt confession.

You'll never see
Any scars or wounds -
I don't walk on coals,
I won't walk on water:
I am no prince,
I am no saint,
I am not anyone's wildest dream,
But I can stand behind
And be someone to fall back on.

Shane looked up at Reed for the first time since he had begun singing. As always his eyes revealed everything he felt and Reed could sense longing and genuine compassion flooding out of them. Shane's eyes roved over the boy next to him as he continued—

Some comedy -
You're bruised and beaten down
And I'm the one
Who's looking for a favor.
Still, honestly,
You don't believe me
But the things I have
Are the things you need.
You look at me
Like I don't make sense,
Like a waste of time,
Like it serves no purpose -
I am no prince,
I am no saint,
And if that's what you believe you need,
You're wrong - you don't need much,
You need someone to fall back on...

Shane's voice grew stronger and louder. It rang through the empty room until Reed felt that it was all around him. He couldn't take his eyes off the boy who was singing with such fervor that he had forgotten anything existed outside that moment.

And I'll be that:
I'll take your side.
If I'm the only one,
I'm used to that.
I've been alone,
I'd rather be
The half of us,
The least of you,
The best of me.
And I will be
Your prince,
I'll be your saint,
I will go crashing through fences
In your name. I will, I swear -
I'll be someone to fall back on!

Shane stared directly into Reed's eyes, willing the boy whom he believed embodied perfection to understand and to feel everything he did –

I'll be the one who waits,
And for as long as you'll let me,
I will be the one you need.
I'll be someone to fall back on:
Your prince,
Your saint,
The one you believe you need
I'll be - I'll be
Someone to fall back on.

Reed sat in awe as the last few notes echoed around the room. "That was beautiful…"

"Thanks…" The musician set the guitar gently on the floor. They sat awkwardly for a moment, only the distant tones of one of the night nurse's voice breaking the silence.

"Do you really mean it?"

"Which part?"

"That-" the cherubic boy paused, knowing that to continue was to set into motion something he had not yet been brave enough to allow. "That you want to become an 'us'."

"Yes." Shane smiled at the other boy's hesitant manner. "But I'm willing to wait. I just didn't see the point of beating around the bush any longer. I wanted the offer out there for you to accept whenever you feel ready."

Reed stared at his hands, contemplative. Shane watched the boy's expression. Finally presenting his feelings out right rather than using concealed hints left him feeling euphoric, and he knew that even if Reed did not except him today, he would be around whenever the boy was ready.

"Can I ask you something?" Reed still wasn't looking at the boy in the bed next to him.

"Of course, anything." Shane studied Reed's body language, every movement seemed to foretell a refusal, well at least this time Shane qualified in his head.

"Will you kiss me?" The smaller boy looked up unleashing the full power of his big brown eyes.

Shane was speechless, this was something he had not expected. His mind was thrown into a flurry of chaos. A million questions about the reality of the moment erupted in his brain but were upstaged by what seemed to be thousands of fireworks. This confusion lasted a quarter of a millisecond then Shane was back in the sterile, white room staring into two beautiful caramel eyes. He doubted for a second whether he had heard correctly but those eyes told him it was no fantasy.

Gently, he reached out and cupped one side of the delicate face in his hand. He leaned in close and touched his lips to Reed's. Although he yearned to make the kiss last forever, he pulled away after only the briefest moment.

Reed's bright eyes met his again and both boys smiled. Then without a word Reed rested his head on Shane's chest. They sat there in silence for a time, Shane running his fingers through Reed's silken curls.

"Thank you." Reed finally whispered.

Shane laughed quietly, "No thank you." He thought quietly for a moment, "Hey Reed?"

There was no reply, the golden haired boy had drifted to sleep.

Shane smiled to himself and used the remote to quietly change the bed into a lying position.

"Good-night my angel." Shane murmured as he too fell asleep.

Shane was awoken by a gentle shaking of his shoulder. And he looked up to see his bother gazing down at him. "Morning bro, what's up?" His voice was rough and his mind groggy with sleep. Reed's head was still on his chest.

"Kurt and I had trouble sleeping last night and so we thought we would come early to check on Reed. It seems you two didn't share our problem." Shane could hear a laugh beneath his brother's calm voice.

"Looks like they slept better last night than all of Dalton put together." Amusement was also apparent in Kurt's voice.

"You're lucky we got here so early, Hilde Van Kamp may not have been quite as happy to see her injured son cuddled up with you."

Shane looked tenderly at the sleeping boy, bushing his fingertips lightly against Reed's check. After the excitement of last night and Reed's good mood, he had almost forgotten about the shooting. "She'll be here soon won't she?" The regret in Shane's voice was tangible. Blaine nodded in the affirmative so the younger brother sighed and extricated himself from the bed trying not to disturb the slumbering boy next to him.

Reed's previously peaceful expression became progressively more troubled. The other boys watched, unsure what to do, as Reed's breathing became labored. Small whimpers escaped his lips, Shane looked around frantically uncertain whether to wake him. Suddenly, Reed's arm shot out, grasping at the sheets. "Shane!" he cried, waking himself up with the force of his exclamation.

"Shh shh I'm here. It's alright. You're safe." Shane murmured in a soothing tone. He held Reed's hand, rubbing the back of it with his thumb in a slow circular motion.

The fragile boy in the bed peered around bewildered with glossy eyes.

"Are you alright Reed?" The boy left his roommate's question unanswered closing his eyes and breathing deeply. "Reed?" Anxiety crept into Kurt's voice. Reed opened his eyes and turned to Shane. He stared at the dark haired boy's concerned face for a moment, mustering all the energy and liveliness he could, before looking at Kurt.

"Morning, I wasn't expecting you this early." He said cheerfully.

Kurt had been shocked when Reed had seemed good spirited the day before, but hearing his casually content tone after such a display of distress was downright unsettling. "Are you alright Reed?"

"Yeah, I was just surprised to see you."

The other boys looked at their friend skeptically, but they were denied the opportunity of questioning him further by the entrance of Ms. Van Kamp.

"Good morning darling. Oh, hello boys." Her heels clicked delicately as she approached the bed. 'How are doing this morning Reed?"

"Great!" he smiled up at his mother.

"Wonderful! I can talk to your doctor and see how soon he will release you. You could stay with me in the hotel."

"Actually, I would like to go back to Dalton, I don't want to fall behind in my studies."

Kurt and Blaine exchanged concerned glances, was their friend ready to return to the scene of his near death experience so soon?

Ms. Van Kamp looked taken aback. "Alright darling if that's what you want. I'll talk to the doctor."

Reed returned to Dalton the next evening. Because of visiting Van Kamp relatives, Kurt had not been able to see him since the morning they found Shane in the hospital bed with him. His mother accompanied him to his room where they found the Windsor conspirators. The boys jumped up in glee when they saw the small boy the door. In the bustle and confusion of the welcome Kurt felt a hand on his shoulder. He did not have to look up to know that the hand, displaying a tasteful ring and matching bracelet belonged to Ms. Van Kamp. She motioned for him to follow her into the hallway.

If current circumstances had been different Kurt would have been excited into speechlessness at the mere prospect of a tete-a-tete with the fashion editor.

"Kurt there is something I need to ask you."

"Yes Ms. Van Kamp?"

"Call me Hilde."

"How can I help Ms. Hilde?"

"I need you to keep an eye on Reed. He was adamant about returning here but I'm not sure if he's ready yet. There can be no persuading him though. He threw a fit when I suggested he take a few weeks off from school. He hasn't spoken a word about what happened, he seems happy enough but I'm afraid it's all a façade. I'm worried about him. He needs looking after, and since he insists on staying here rather than being with me…"

"Don't worry Ms. Hilde I'll keep an eye on him. We all will."

"Thank you Kurt. Oh, and what about this new friend of his… Shane?" she pursed her cherry lacquered lips.

Kurt thought about how best to answer this question without saying too much, "He and Reed get along very well. They're quite the duo." He could sense that the woman wanted him to continue. "Listen Ms. Hilde, if there is one thing you need to worry about its not Shane, he cares about Reed just as much as the rest of us. He'll take good care of him."

Reed's mother looked satisfied with this answer although the glint in her eyes suggested that she had understood more than Kurt had intended.

Ms. Van Kamp said her good-byes and departed, reminding her son that she was only a phone call away and that she would see him the next day before she boarded her plane for New York.

Reed had many visitors that night. Kurt adopted the roll of bouncer, ushering people in and out, never allowing more than a few people to see the invalid at a time. Most of the conversation revolved around Reed's time in the hospital, how long his recovery would take, and reassurances that he would still be able to paint and sing since the only injury was to his abdomen. No one mentioned the shooting. Kurt assumed Chaz had advised them not to.

Around nine Kurt got rid of the last the visitors. He could tell that Reed was fading. He helped the boy into his pajamas, saving him from tripping over a loose pant leg and toppling over.

"So does it feel good to be back?"

"I wasn't gone that long Kurt." Reed mumbled tugging on the velvety, midnight blue fabric of his pajama shirt.

"True… I think you are very brave for coming back." Kurt said encouragingly as he helped Reed with a particularly stubborn button. The other boy remained quiet, so Kurt took the opportunity to continue, "You know that if you need anyone to talk to about all of this you can come to me, any time, any day, I'll be here for you."

"Thanks Kurt," The boy pulled away from his roommate and started toward the bed on the padded side of the room, "but there's really nothing to talk about." Just before he reached the bed his toe caught on an out of place pair of jeans and he would have face planted into the floor had Kurt not caught him by the shoulders.

"Whoa there. Reed I really do think you need to talk about this, it's not healthy to pretend it didn't happen."

"I said there's nothing to talk about," the boy repeated coldly. He crawled under his blankets and faced the wall. "Were you going to go visit Blaine?"

"Would you prefer I stay here?"

"No, go, and tell Shane to come in here, I want to say good-night to him."

Kurt hesitated for a minute then decided it was best to grant his friend's wishes. He found the two brothers in Blaine's room, the The Order of the Phoenix was playing on the gigantic TV but neither was watching it. Both jumped up when they saw the worried look on Kurt's face.

"Is something wrong?"

"Is it Reed?"

"He's fine, aside from the whole bullet wound thing. He wants to say good night to you." He said to the taller brother. Shane nearly sprinted from the room in his haste. When he was gone Kurt turned to Blaine. "Reed's acting funny. I tried to get him to talk about it… he says there's nothing to talk about. Nothing to talk about? That's the biggest understatement I've heard since someone told me that Princess Di's death was 'kinda sad'. I'm worried what this is going to do to him if he keeps repressing it."

"Well maybe he'll talk to Shane. My brother's a good listener even if he does get a bit too excited, and I think Reed might be inclined to tell him things he would hide from us." He motioned for Kurt to sit next to him on the sofa.

"Let's hope so." Kurt sighed as Blaine rubbed his shoulders.

"He'll be fine."

Kurt's blue eyes met Blaine's brown ones. Embracing a sudden impulse he leaned forward and kissed Blaine.

As they parted Blaine smiled slightly, "What was that for?"

"With all this talk of mortality and whatnot, it just makes me think… carpe diem."

"Oh really?" Blaine raised an eyebrow, "Well then…" he smirked and once again closed the space between Kurt's lips and his own.

"Reed?" the boy in the bed perked up when he heard Shane call his name. "Kurt said you wanted to see me. How are you feeling?" He crossed the room in a few long strides and perched himself on the edge of Reed's bed.

"Sleepy, the medicine puts me in a bit of a fog."

Shane suddenly felt a little awkward, "Oh well if you wanna sleep, I should probably go…" He made to stand up.

"No! I want you to stay… at least until I fall asleep… if you don't mind…"

A smile spread across Shane's face, "Reed Van Kamp, are you asking me to stay the night? Because you should know that I am a lady." He said this last part with mock arrogance.

Reed blushed profusely, " If you weren't so far away I'd punch you! You know that's not what I meant."

"Here I shall oblige you." Shane crawled up the bed until he was sitting next to Kurt. "Punch me."

"What?" Looked confused and appalled, "I didn't really mean it – It was just an expression – I –"

"Oh don't go back on your word now, I was expecting a punch."

Reed hit his fist lightly against the other boy's arm.

"Oh come on you can do better than that!" Reed just started back at him bemused. "Well maybe another time then."

Reed shook his head, "I will never understand you."

"But you seem to like me nonetheless."

Reed blushed d again, "I guess I do…" there was no use in denying it any more.

"You know we never really finished our conversation last night – not that I regret the tangent we took, but what do you say?"

"What do I say about what?" Reed was feigning ignorance.

"Us. You and me, together. Wanna try it out? 'Cause I sure do. Whattaya say? Be my boyfriend?"

"I don't know." Reed whispered quietly.

"I know you're still figuring things out. And I'll still be here when you do. No pressure but if you're ready… I'll stop talking now and let you decide. But honestly no rush, I'll still be here either way."

Reed took a deep breath, "Shane, I really really like you. But I don't know if I'm ready for a relationship."

"Yeah, I figured its – "

"Let me finish." The other boy fell silent a bit surprised but eager to hear what Reed had to say. "Can't we just be together and do what we want? Granted I don't know what I want but I'm willing to find out. I don't think we should be defined by some blanket term."

Shane was momentarily confused. "So that's a yes and a no?"

"I guess you could say that."

Shane smiled a mischievous glint in his eye, "I only have one question."


"Does that mean I get to do this?" Shane put a finger under Reed's chin tilting his face up and kissed him softly. He pulled away and looked into the warm brown eyes to gauge Reed's reaction. The smaller boy colored again and looked down trying to hide the delight and excitement that he knew Shane had seen in his eyes. "I'll take that as a yes," Shane chuckled.

Reed tried to slap Shane's arm playfully but the more agile boy caught his hand before it hit its target. He twined his fingers between Reed's petite, soft ones. The two started at their interwoven fingers for a moment then Shane leaned over and kissed Reed again, more deeply than before.

Reed's heartbeat reached a crescendo as Shane's lips moved against his own. The kiss lasted no more than a few seconds but to Reed it seemed that all time froze and there was nothing but the feeling of soft lips and the pounding of his heart. When the coda was reached and they reentered reality, Reed couldn't help wish that it had lasted a bit longer. He laid there letting his heart return to its usual andante, and then for a reason unbeknownst even to him, he began to laugh.

Shane was at first taken off guard by this sudden profusion of mirth, but he could only withstand the enchanting contagiousness of Reed's laugh for so long before he too succumbed. They laid side by side laughing until their ribs ached.

Finally, Shane was able to catch his breath, "What was that all about?"

"I was just happy," giggled Reed. "And what do you mean by that, you were laughing too."

"I was laughing because you were laughing!" Shane exclaimed trying to prove his innocence, "How was I supposed to resist when your laugh is just so freaking adorable?"

Reed winced slightly, the laughing had aggravated his wound. The grimace didn't escape Shane's notice, he was at once a flurry of worried animation. "What's wrong? Are you hurt? Shit! I'm sorry I shouldn't have made you laugh. What can I do? Should I—"

"Shane stop! I'm fine. It just hurts a bit." He pinched the bridge of his delicate nose. "Could you hand me the gauze and medical tape on the table?"


Reed wanted to laugh at his puppyish excitement at the opportunity to be useful, but the pain in his side reminded him not to. Shane brought the supplies over to the bed as Reed pushed down his blankets. He nodded in permission and Shane unbuttoned the bottom of his pajama shirt exposing the mass of white bandage wrapped around the boy's torso.

"The doctor said the extra bandage wasn't really necessary, by my mother told them I tend to be rather clumsy and so they decided that a little extra padding might be a wise choice."

Shane unwrapped the bandage, reaching his arms under Reed many times to do so, and was left staring at a rectangular piece of gauze tapped below the right side of the delicate boy's ribcage. His hands began to shake, it had been easy to pretend that everything was fine when Reed was in high spirits and the wound was hidden from sight but when it was exposed everything that had happened seemed devastatingly real.

With agile fingers Shane gently pulled away the gauze exposing a small red line held together by stitches. He found it odd that such a seemingly small injury could have been so life threatening. He felt like something was stuck in his throat, "Did – did it hit anything?" It was a poorly phrased question but Reed understood the meaning, and to Shane's surprise answered.

"No, I was really lucky, a bit of my intestine got messed up but they said that they fixed that pretty easily. I have a set diet for the next week and the nurses at the school infirmary have been ordered to make sure I stick to it, but it won't be anything permanent. The doctors told me my biggest risk had been from blood loss but I made it to the hospital in time. And there is always a risk of infection so I'm on antibiotics and have to let the school nurses check on me every day."

After new gauze was applied and bandages replaced, Shane redid the buttons on Reed's pajama shirt. He wanted to say something optimistic about the fact that Reed had been so lucky but for once he could think of nothing to say. After a time he realized that Reed had been talking to him.

"…because she has appointments that she has to keep, actually she said she would cancel them but I said I'd rather be here, so she'll be flying back to visit sometime next week, which I think in unnecessary but –"

"Sorry who are we talking about? I zoned out for a moment." Shane apologized .

"My mother, she's flying back to New York tomorrow."

"Oh right, right." Something suddenly occurred to him, "Speaking of your mom, does she know?" He trailed off.

Reed's brow furrowed, "Shane, I told you that even I don't really know for sure –"

"I know, I know," Shane responded hurriedly, "I just meant does she know that you're questioning? Or that you like me? I mean it's okay if you didn't tell her I was just wondering…"

Reed looked thoughtful and proceeded slowly, "I don't know what she knows, or what she assumes, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't mind if I was gay. After all she wants me to carry on her legacy in the fashion industry. If anything she would see me being gay as an added bonus."

"Are you going to tell her about me? I won't be offended if you don't. I can't tell my dad, obviously, so I was just wondering." Shane forced himself to bite his tongue and prevent any further word vomit.

"I might." Reed smiled slightly, "I guess we're just going to have to see." He smiled sweetly in a way that made the other boy's heart melt.

Shane reached over and began to play with Reed's hair, his new favorite past time. "That works for me. Now I think it's time for you to go to bed. I don't care what you say, it's my job to take care of you and you need sleep." He leaned over and kissed Reed gently on the forehead.

"Good-night Shane."

"Good-night Reed."

Shane stayed until the other boy fell asleep then silently made his way across the oak paneled floor and back into his brother's room. He found Kurt and Blaine on the sofa, Kurt sitting up and Blaine lying with his head in the taller boy's lap. The Harry Potter credits were rolling down the TV screen.

"He's asleep."

"Was he acting… odd at all?" Kurt asked.

"No he actually seemed pretty happy."

Kurt sighed, "I'm worried about him Shane, it's not normal to be happy after you've just been shot. I think he's hiding and I think that if he doesn't come to terms with what has happened that there could be disastrous psychological effects."

"So what if he wants to be happy? So what if he wants to pretend it didn't happen? Would you rather him cry himself to sleep every night? Would you rather him be too depressed to function." Shane blurted defensively.

"Of course not!"

"Shane you know that's not what he's saying." Blaine sat up. "It's not healthy to bottle things up or to lie to yourself. Running away whether it's from a person or from your past isn't generally the best choice."

"Oh and you should be one to speak!" Shane felt an unwarranted vindictiveness bubbling in his chest.

"Shane!" Kurt exclaimed, exasperated by the boy's lack of tact.

"And you think I haven't paid for that?" Blaine hissed through a clenched jaw.

Kurt could sense the quaver in Blaine's voice, he put a comforting hand on his boyfriend's shoulder. "Shane I think you should leave me and your brother alone for a minute."

"No I'm sorry! I didn't mean it. I wasn't thinking. You always tell me I say things without thinking, you were right! I'm so sorry Blaine." He was now on the couch with his arms wrapped around his brother in a tight embrace.

"It's alright Shane." Blaine tried to pat his brother's hand but found his arms too constricted to move them.

The younger brother released Blaine wiping his eyes on the back of his wrist. "So what do you want me to do? What do I say to him?"

"Just try to get him to talk about it. If he's going to open up to anyone it's going to be you. Coming to terms with what happened might be the first step to his recovery." Kurt was glad that the younger boy's momentary rage was gone and that he had seen the sagacity of their opinion.

"But keep it simple Shane, no over whelming him with questions, let him do the talking, he just needs some encouragement."

"Alright. Now move off the couch you guys, I wanna get some sleep."

Blaine found Kurt in the kitchen the next morning, a coffee mug bearing the Windsor crest clenched tightly in his hand and purple shadows under his eyes.


"Whoa you ok?"

"Do I really look that bad?" Kurt asked trying to see his reflection in the oven door.

"No, no." Blaine reassured him, "just a bit tired. But hey, some people like the shadows-under-the-eyes look."

"Yeah if you're a fourteen year old girl, but quite frankly the Edward Cullen aesthetic doesn't do it for me."

Blaine shrugged, unsure how to reply. "So why are you so tired, did something happen last night?"

"Reed woke up at four a.m. crying. He tried to convince me that he had just had a dream about losing sectionals… even the most dedicated Warbler wouldn't wake up in tears because of that." Kurt shook his head, "He wouldn't let me do anything so I had to lie in my bed pretending to sleep while he cried for a good two hours."

Blaine wrapped his arms tightly around Kurt. "Be strong, we'll get him through this."

"Thanks Blaine. Well I better go see if the Dormouse has arisen yet."

When he reached his room Reed was perched on the end of his bed. "Good morning" the boy mumbled running a hand through his mess of curls. "Where have you been? You look like a mess."

"Oh thanks Reed. You aren't exactly ready to win Miss America right now yourself." This was true, the bags beneath Reed's eyes rivaled Kurt's and his skin was a rather sickly palor.

"I just meant you looked a bit sleepy." Reed squeaked keen to keep peace with his roommate, "Umm so where were you?"

"In the kitchen." Kurt went to his dresser, searched in the top drawer, and pulled out a tube of concealer that he kept for desperate occasions such as this. He began to dab it liberally under his eyes.

"Was Shane there?" Reed attempted to sound nonchalant.

Kurt rolled his eyes slightly exasperated, "You need to stop being so coy and kiss him already! The tension is making even me feel awkward." Kurt paused, waiting for Reed's embarrassed denial or excuse. It never came. Kurt swiveled around. Reed's bright red face answered his unspoken question. "Oh my god, you finally kissed him." In a heartbeat, he dropped the concealer and raced across the room onto Reed's bed. "Why didn't you tell me? Where? When? I want details!" he demanded excitedly as he restrained the urge to hug his roommate, remembering it might cause physical pain.

Reed flushed with pleasure, he was enjoying the chance to finally tell his best friend, "A few nights ago in the hospital… I asked him to kiss me, and well he did."

Kurt squealed, "That is too precious. I'm so happy for you."

"Thanks," Reed beamed, "but we aren't really official, well, we're not putting a label on us for now."

"Reed Van Kamp, sometimes you are just so adorable that it makes me doubt the possibility of your existence."

They spent a good half hour in an excited twitter, giggling about Shane until Kurt looked at his watch. He got up and walked towards their gigantic joint closet. "Not to put a downer on this moment, but you need to figure out what you are wearing to the funeral today, it's in about two hours."

Reed's smile faltered, "Well actually, I wasn't planning on going. My mom is leaving today and so I wanted to see her for a while…"

"I think it would be good for you to go Reed." Kurt tried to sound as encouraging as possible.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to make it," Reed retorted shortly.

Kurt just nodded. Scared he had somehow upset his roommate, Reed offered up his version of a peace pipe, "Do you want me to help you pick out what you are going to wear to the funeral?"

Thirty minutes later Kurt emerged from the room looking ready for a photo shoot. Reed had found him a fitted ash gray button down, a tailored vest and black skinny jeans that Blaine later observed clung to him in all the right places. However, his favorite part of the outfit was a dark crimson bow tie.

He said good-bye to Reed warning him to be safe and not walk around too much until his mom got there. They couldn't risk him attaining further injuries.

The funeral was held in the Orion Ballroom. The room was draped in black with flower arrangements of varying colors lining the walls. The Windsor conspirators sat in the same row, dressed in spectrum of shades from black to gray. The service was pretty basic as far as funerals go. Some students and family members gave speeches and a group of warblers sang a beautiful rendition of "In the Arms of the Angels".

Kurt saw Logan, wearing a tailored black suit with his hair slicked back, a few rows away. Their eyes met for a moment and Logan inclined his head in acknowledgment. Even from that distance Kurt could sense the drug induced stoniness, but he had more important things to worry about than Logan so he returned the gesture and looked away.

When they returned to Windsor everyone sat in the common room. No one talked much, each boy was consumed with his own thoughts. Dwight pulled out an archaic tome, paced about the room muttering unintelligible phrases under his breath, and made a series of odd hand motions. Even the Tweedles didn't seem capable of good cheer. They sat in a corner, just sitting; something Kurt had never seen them do for an extended period of time. Gradually, people began to disperse until the common room was occupied only by the Windsor conspirators, with the addition of Shane and Charlie. The latter of which stood to talk, "Well professor Dodson wouldn't have wanted us to sit around here all day, we should do something. What have we learned for all this? Life is unpredictable and often too short, so we should do something with our lives while we still have them."

The Twins stood up. "Chaz is right. We should listen to her majesty."

"Yeah I agree," Wes nodded, "So what are we going to do?"

The Twins looked thoughtful for a moment then in unison turned to run up the stairs.

"Well, looks like they've got that covered," David sighed.

They were back after only a minute, a box clutched under Evan's arm.

"Oh my god, Twister? I haven't played that in ages!" Kurt said recognizing the primary colored box.

"Who wants to play?" beamed Evan as Ethan plugged an iPod into the speakers. The cheerful sounds of Vampire Weekend began to filter through the room.

"Might as well." Wes stood up.

"I'll play too." David joined him.

"I would kick all your butts, but my leg still isn't quite healed." Shane sounded a bit regretful.

"Dwight, do you want to play?"

The boy laughed darkly, "I'm sorry guys I have much more important things to do, and besides twister isn't exactly my game." He eyed the mat the Tweedles were spreading on the ground as if it had done him great personal wrong.

"I guess I'll try."

"Oh your majesty we are honored." The Twins bowed as Chaz stepped forward.

"Oh come off it."

"We need only one more competitor for the first match!"

"I'll play." Kurt was surprised to see Blaine leave the seat next to him and approach the mat, removing his suit jacket as he went.

Blaine, Wes, David, and Chaz stood on the four sides of the mat. Each took off his shoes of and rolled up his sleeves.

The Twins sat cross legged on the floor, the spinner between them, "White Rabbit! Right hand red!" and the game began.

David was first out followed closely by Chaz. They joined Kurt and Shane in the cheering section. The Tweedles had taken up the role of commentators. "It is down to the March Hare and the White Rabbit. Hare against Rabbit, who will prevail? Wes, left foot green. A tricky move for him, will he make the transition without falling? And he does! I haven't seen such flexibility since the Red Queen had to bend all the way down to tie his shoe." This comment caused said shoe to be thrown across the room at them. The Twins easily dodged the missile and continued. "Now the White Rabbit's turn. Right foot blue! Ooo that one's going to be quite a reach. He's groping for it – speaking of groping Alice is in the stands biting her nails, will her white Rabbit prevail?" Blaine shot the Twins a dirty look.

Eventually Blaine fell and Wes was the victor. The moment he was down the Twins jumped up, "We're playing next!"

As the reigning champion Wes agreed to play again as did Chaz.

Watching the Twins play Twister was a bit eerie. Although each was assigned different circles of color they seemed to move in sync, lending each other support and making sure the most well placed circles were left open for each other.

The song faded out and a familiar percussion beat started.

"I love this song!" Kurt gushed, watching the others play had lifted his somber mood.

Wes and Chaz toppled over at the same time, laughing. The Twins still contorted on the mat began to sing along with the song in unison.

He's got looks that books take pages to tell
He's got a face to make you fall on your knees
He's got money in the bank to thank and I guess
You could think he's livin' at ease

Accepting the fact that there was no way one of them was going to fall before the other the Twins stood up and began dancing. They skipped around the room shimmying and spinning in circles.

Like lovers on the open shore - what's the matter
When you're sitting there with so much more - what's the matter
While you're wondering what the hell to be
Are you wishing you were ugly like me?

Ethan grabbed Charlie's hands spinning him around and forcing him to dance. Charlie laughed and went with it. He had learned it was easier to oblige the Twin's less destructive antics than fight them. Evan grabbed Dwight, holding him in an exaggerated tango position and trying to get him to dance across the room. The spiritualist wriggled out of Evan's grasp and ran to the stairs where he could watch at a safe distance, a crucifix grasped in his hand. Evan laughed and grabbed David who was more willing to comply.

Blame it on the girls who know what to do
Blame it on the boys who keep hitting on you
Blame it on your mother for the things she said
Blame it on your father but you know he's dead

Everyone joined in singing, picking out harmonies and creating their own with their well-trained ears.

Blame it on the girls
Blame it on the boys
Blame it on the girls
Blame it on the boys

Wes took over the melody as the other Warblers sang back up and Shane climbed up onto the shiny oak coffee table, careful not to further injure his leg, and began to dance.

Life could be simple but you never fail
To complicate it every single time

You could have children and a wife, a perfect little life
But you blow it on a bottle of wine

Like a baby you're a stubborn child - what's the matter
Always looking for an axe to grind - what's the matter
While you're wondering what the hell to do
We were wishing we were lucky like you

Kurt found himself being pulled around the room by the Tweedles. He yanked his hands out of their grasp and began to dance, raising his arms above his head and swinging his hips to the beat.

Blame it on the girls who know what to do
Blame it on the boys who keep hitting on you
Blame it on your mother for the things she said
Blame it on your father but you know he's dead

The boys broke up into two groups Wes, David, and the Twins singing the first line and Kurt, Blaine and Shane singing the second in a sort of call and answer.

Blame it on the girls
Blame it on the boys
Blame it on the girls
Blame it on the boys

Two identical sets of hands grabbed Kurt under the arms and lifted him onto the coffee table. He turned around to find himself face to face with Blaine. The older boy put one hand around Kurt's waist and held Kurt's hand up with the other. With Blaine leading they did a basic salsa step during the musical interlude. Staring into each other's eyes their feet beat out a syncopated rhythm on the table top. The other boys whistled and cat called but quieted when Blaine began to sing the next verse.

He's got looks that books take pages to tell
He's got a face to make you fall on your knees
He's got money in the bank to thank and I guess
You could think he's livin' at ease

He spun Kurt around quickly and pulled him close, holding onto his waist as they moved their hips in unison.

Blame it on the girls who know what to do
Blame it on the boys who keep hitting on you
Blame it on your mother for the things she said
Blame it on your father but you know he's dead

All the boys danced around the room of their own accord. Even Chaz seemed to be swept away in the moment and the music.

Blame it on the girls
Blame it on the boys
Blame it on the girls
Blame it on the boys

The song ended and they all laughed. If anything could cheer them up and get ecstasy pumping through their veins, it was singing together. This was the first time since the shooting that they had all been able to relax and genuinely have fun.

"Who's playing again? I need to reclaim my title!" Wes shouted racing to the Twister mat.

"I will!" shouted David following the example of his best friend.

"Me too!" Blaine claimed the third side.

"Alice hasn't played yet!" Proclaimed the Twins. "Alice needs to play."

"No I don't really think that's a good idea…"

"No is not an option!" The Twins pushed him forward, Kurt had no choice but to comply.

He stood on the mat directly across from Blaine who was smirking at him, "Scared Hummel?"

"You wish."

"Hatter, right foot red!"

A few moves in Kurt found himself utterly twisted around the other boys. One leg was wedged under Wes, one arm under Blaine, and the other two limbs directly below him supporting his weight. His thighs burned but he had good balance it would take a lot more than a little muscle burn to knock him over.

"Alice, left foot blue." Kurt extracted his leg from below Wes to find out he had to reach it under Blaine.

"Hatter right hand red." David let out a cry as he lost his balance.

Now it was just the three of them. Wes had a firm station in one corner and Blaine and Kurt were rather wrapped about each other in the center of the blue and yellow dots.

With each turn Kurt moved a bit further from Blaine until he had his back facing him.

The Twins had taken up their commentating again, "It looks like Alice is staking out a corner in the green line, while the March Hare has his own area diagonally across. The White Rabbit and Alice are practically back to back, each holding their own. Alice, right leg green." Kurt was forced to move his leg out even farther, he shifted his weight deciding that the easiest position was to straighten his legs and bend from the waist. "Damn Alice, look at that butt." One of the Tweedles whistled.

Kurt blushed he hadn't considered how the new position might make him vulnerable to comments from the twins. He heard a loud exhale and felt movement behind him. The Twins and other onlookers burst out in peals of laughter. Kurt saw Blaine walk by him his face slightly red but smiling to himself. He winked at Kurt, who blushed deeper.

"You just had to look didn't you?" Shane greeted his brother as he sat down next to him. "Well there's a better view from here anyways – ouch! You can't punch me! I'm an invalid, you're obligated to be nice to me!"

Kurt and Wes moved around the mat. Wes was a worthy opponent. His slight but muscular build made him naturally suited for the game. However, Kurt had flexibility that would put any of the boys, aside from Shane, to shame.

The game continued for three minutes after Blaine's fall. The onlookers sat on edge, no one could tell who was going to be victorious. Then finally Wes was thwarted by a position he just couldn't seem to maintain and he toppled over leaving Kurt alone on the mat.

"Alice! That was great!"

"We didn't know you could bend like that!"

"You seem to forget that I was a cheer leader." Kurt smiled as he sat down next to Blaine who gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

The Twins were organizing another game when the front doors swung open and Reed entered with his mother.


"Hey guys. What's up?" He stepped over the threshold, setting down a rather large shopping bag.

"Were just playing Twister."

"Reed honey, I need to go." The woman gave him a swift kiss on each cheek. "Be safe, I'll see you next week. Bye boys!" She turned on her heel and left.

Reed turned back to the other Windsor boys, "Well I think I'm going to go up to my room, see you later.

Kurt and Shane's eyes met. Kurt jerked his head towards Reed and the younger boy ran obediently after the golden haired boy climbing the stairs.

The dancer arrived behind Reed just in time to catch him as his foot caught on a step. Reed looked up startled but relieved that someone had caught him.

"Mind if I join you?" Shane asked setting Reed back on his feet and relieving him of his bag.

Reed smiled back "Of course not."

The two walked up the stairs, past Dwight who had not yet deemed it safe to join the group in the common room, and into the room Reed shared with Kurt.

"So you guys were playing Twister?" Reed raised a delicate eyebrow.

"Yeah, well I wasn't because of my leg, but the other guys were." Shane hurried on before Reed could continue with any more small talk. "Reed we need to talk." He sank onto the sofa.

Reed sat next to him trying to mask his concern, "What about?"

Shane took a deep breath remembering Blaine's advice and trying to be as straight forward as possible. "I think we need to talk about what happened to you."

Reed's face fell. "What's there to talk about, I was in the hospital. I've been there loads of times. It's nothing new."

"Reed you know that's not what I mean…" he reached for the smaller boy's hand but it was yanked away from him.

Reed bristled, "You'll come to realize Shane, that I get hurt all the time. It's not something that needs to be talked about, it's just a fact." He had adopted a rather condescending tone.

Shane bit his lip, trying to suppress the urge to say something that might upset Reed. He spoke slowly, "Reed… tell me how you got hurt."

Reed focused on the cover of a fashion magazine on the coffee table, refusing to look at Shane, "You know how I got hurt, everyone told you…"

"I want you to tell me." His voice was low and tender.

The smaller boy's breathing started to become faster, there was no longer a trace of a smile on his face, "I – I was walking through that hallway outside of the senior commons…"

Shane nodded encouragingly, it seemed like Reed was finally getting somewhere, "yes?"

"And well there was no one else around…"

This wasn't going to be as hard as they had guessed it would, Shane thought, getting a bit ahead of himself. "And then?"

"Well I turned the corner," the smaller boy took a deep breath then spoke so fast that his words ran together, "and I fell and hurt myself."

"You what!" Shane couldn't suppress the incredulous exclamation.

Reed's voice was emotionless, "I fell. You know how clumsy I am."

This was too much for Shane, he forgot Blaine's advice as his own nature over took him and he jumped up nearly shouting, "Fell! Reed you didn't fall. You know you didn't so don't lie to me! People don't fall and end up with a bullet in their stomach! Why are you lying to yourself and pretending it didn't happen?" Reed cringed on the couch, tears welling up in his eyes, as Shane towered over him. "Why won't you admit to yourself that you were shot?"

At the last word the look in Reed's eyes changed. The vulnerable wretchedness was replaced by a fiery animosity, "Maybe I have good reason to pretend nothing happened! Maybe denying that it happened is the best thing I could possibly do! And why do you care? It's none of your business anyway!" He was now standing on the sofa so he was eye level with the taller boy.

"Oh it's none of my business eh? Why should I care that the person I care so much about is hurting himself by running away from the truth? Why should any of us care that the person we all love is causing himself more pain!"

"What pain! If I run from it I don't have to feel any of it!" Reed spread his arms out to the side as if challenging pain to so much as try to hurt him.

Shane could no longer restrain his emotions his voice shook and tears stung the corners of his eyes, "Oh you'll feel it alright. Because no matter how long you run or how hard you try to deny it there will be a piece of you missing. This is who you are now! You can't run from yourself!" Shane glared at the boy willing his words to make sense to him.

Reed balled his hands into fists he wanted to punch something, to scream. "But I can't accept it! I can't let it be real!" he shouted, "because if it is how can I ever trust anyone again? I can't live with the fear that around every corner there's a maniac waiting to kill me! How can I have any faith in the human race when I know that any one of my try to kill me at any time?" Hot tears were streaming down his face. He wanted to rip something, to tear it to pieces. He jumped off the couch, ignoring the wave of pain that the impact caused. He ran to his dresser and grabbed things, hurling them across the room. Marc Jacobs and Dolce colognes crashed into the floor, some exploding with showers of glass and liquid. Reed was no longer conscious of what he was doing, everything was noise and light and anger.

He felt a pair of firm hands on his wrists and snapped back into consciousness. He looked up at the blue eyes peering down at him. Suddenly all the fire left him, he felt his body collapse as heaving sobs wracked his frame.

Shane picked up the shaking boy. Reed was so light that even with his injured leg Shane had no problem carrying the boy. He set Reed down on his bed where he curled up in the fetal position and continued shaking.

"Reed?" he crawled onto the bed and gently rolled the boy over so that their eyes met. "Hey, it's okay." Reed's arms reached up around his neck and the injured boy buried his head into Shane's chest.

"No it's not, it's never going to be okay."

"Shhh shhh you can't think like that, it will be okay." He whispered soothingly stroking the back of Reed's head. "I know it's going to be hard to trust people, but hey that's why you have friends and people who love you. We're here for you to trust us. You can lean on us and we will make sure to do everything within our power to protect you." The shaking was lessening and giving way to long rattling breaths, "And maybe we can't protect you from everything." Shane's voice caught for a second, "I would give anything to go back to that moment, anything to spare you from this." Tears were trickling down his face and into Reed's hair, "but the world doesn't work that way. There are some things we can't stop, some things we can't change. We're only human. Death is always just around the corner for all of us. Ultimately we can't escape it, but we can live in spite of it. We get a chance to burn brightly for such a short amount of time, but in this handful for years we feel and learn and love so many things. The time we have is so beautiful because is limited. If there was no risk, no death, there would be no point in living. We have to live with this knowledge of death in order to live at all… You are still alive Reed and maybe you'll die tomorrow, or maybe you will die in a hundred years, but I would hate for you to be unable to live the life you are given to the fullest because you are incomplete, because you forced a piece of yourself to go missing."

The boys held each other in the silence, both allowing tears to flow freely down their faces. They remained in that position for a long time before Reed disentangled himself from Shane's arms.

He gazed at the teary blue eyes "Thank you… thank you."

Shane leaned his forehead against Reed's and enfolded the smaller boy's hands in his own. He closed his eyes feeling Reed's pulse through his finger tips and basking in the fact that despite two potentially fatal incidents they were both miraculously alive. "You know I love you don't you?" he whispered.

"Yeah I figured something like that." Reed's lips found Shane's. How long they held the kiss neither of them knew. It was a celebration of the fact that at that moment they were together, and that's all that mattered.

They made their way down stairs some time later, hand in hand. The Windsor conspirators were still in the common room. Every eye watched as the two boys descended. Reed was certain he must look like a mess but no one said anything.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs Kurt was there to greet them, "Come sit down, we have something for you." He glanced up at Shane who inclined his head and Kurt understood that Reed had finally broken his silence.

The new comers sat on the couch while the rest of the Warblers in the room gathered around Blaine holding an electric guitar.

Dwight stood in front of the group, "Reed, we all know that sometimes the past hurts, but you just have to accept it and move on, and know that we will try to protect you no matter what."

Kurt stepped forward, "We just wanted you to know that no matter what happens we are there for you. You can always come to us."

"Remember you're not alone!" Added Blaine.

"You're friendship means so much to us." David smiled reassuringly.

Wes smiled too, "I don't know what we would do without you."

"And we would do anything for you, because you are our Dormouse and we love you!" the Twins chimed.

Blaine strummed one chord on the guitar which hung enchantingly in the air.

Kurt began a familiar melody,

There is no future
There is no past

Blaine took over beginning to strum the guitar in a steady rhythm,

Thank God this
Moment's not the last

The whole group began to sing, their voices melding together in perfect harmony,

There's only us
There's only this
Forget, regret or
Life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today

Each boy was rocking and swaying to his own internal rhythm. Each moved differently but at the same time in perfect harmony with the others around him. Reed looked at each face gazing back at him adoringly. They sang with such genuine compassion that goose bumps began to creep up the back of his spine.

I can't control
(Will I lose my dignity)
My destiny
(Will someone care)
I trust my soul
(Will I wake tomorrow)
My only goal is just to be
(From this nightmare)

Their voices crescendo-ed, instilling in Reed feelings he could not describe. Compelled by the music, he stood up, unsure of what he was doing, and began to walk towards his friends.

Without you
(There's only now)

The hand gropes
(There's only here)

The ear hears

Kurt spread his arms wide and Reed ran to him, almost tripping along the way. Reed hugged his best friend, tears of joy running down his cheeks. He felt a hand on his back and turned from Kurt to be pulled into a hug by David.

The pulse beats

(Give in to love)

Life goes on
(Or live in fear)

But I'm gone
(No other path, no other way)
'Cause I die without you

One by one the Windsor boys passed Reed around embracing him before giving him to the next friend.

I die without you
(No day but today)
I die without you
(No day but today)
I die without you
(No day but today)

Reed found himself singing along to the familiar words, his body starting to rock along with the others. His cherubic cheeks flushed with pleasure and Shane noticed the jovial sparkle in the warm brown eyes that he had first fallen in love with.

I die without you
(No day but today)
I die without you
(No day but today)

Reed smiled through blissful tears. Looking at the boys around him he wanted to laugh. This was why everything was going to be okay. He could accept any past when this was his present. This was worth whatever he had to go through, just to be alive with the people he loved.

No day but today