A/N: This was for a fill over at the glee angst meme. Thanks for reading:) And thanks ahead of time for all reviews and favorites:).
The afternoon sunlight created a bright glare upon the fresh snow. White powder stretched for miles and required sunglasses. Unfortunately, Dalton Academy maintained a very strict dress code. The official school rule book banned sunglasses until April first. Sometimes Wesley Kim wished Dalton could be a little more lax, because he had excellent vision and squinting while he hurried between classes strained his eyes.
Every time he went inside a building, his eyes had to adjust to Dalton's soft florescent light. Yellow and green spots danced across his vision as Wes walked down the wide hallway. Swimming practice had already started. Mr. Riggs hated tardiness, but he had to attend an emergency winter formal meeting. The committee had finally agreed on an Enchantment Under the Stars theme, but Westerville High had decided on the very same thing and bought every astronomy related decoration in town.
The dance committee was at a loss and their impromptu meeting had ended in complete chaos. No one could decide on a theme and the dance was in two weeks. Only a miracle could save them now. Wes clutched the excuse note in his hands and glared at his friends.
"We could do an Emerald City theme," Blaine Anderson suggested, "then I could go as Prince Fiyero."
"I don't care how many times you've seen Wicked, Blaine." David said and rolled his eyes. "We're not decorating the commons area like the Wizard of Oz so you can have an excuse to wear pants that tight."
"Or so you can see what Kurt looks like in black and a witch's hat," Wes agreed as Blaine blushed, "No. Other ideas?"
"Oscar Night," David offered, "or maybe Trapped in a Snowglobe."
"Candy Land." Blaine paused. "For the record-I'm not suggesting it because I sang a Katy Perry number a few months ago. I think she's a no-talent hack."
"I'm aware of your distaste for top forty music," Wes sighed, "but as you know, the council has done nothing but top selling music since Billboard got created."
Steam drifted out of the tiled showers even though gym had ended forty minutes ago. A basket of toiletries sat on one of the wooden benches close to the lockers and a uniform hung neatly on a hanger above it. The three boys paused when they heard a familiar countertenor belting out a song.
Oh, is there not one maiden here
Whose homely face and bad complexion
Have caused all hope to disappear
Of ever winning man's affection?
To such a one, if such there be,
I swear by Heaven's arch above you,
If you will cast your eyes on me,
However plain you be, I'll love you;
However plain you be...
If you will cast your eyes on me,
However plain you be, I'll love you,
I'll love you, I'll love -
I'll love you.
"Dude," David whispered and gripped Wes' arm, "Kurt just hit a B Flat!"
"And made it his bitch," Blaine said in awe, "you have got to give him a solo for Regonials."
Wes had enjoyed listening to the humorous song and Kurt's unique voice, but he didn't think the younger boy was ready to lead the Warblers in competition yet. The kid had a great range and a remarkable stage presence. The combination created a conundrum in an Acapella group like the Warblers. If Kurt sang like that for a competition, he'd blow the other singers out of the water, including solid ones like Blaine and Nick.
"Why is he here so late, anyway?" David asked. "Didn't Fencing practice end a while ago?"
"Kurt's taking fencing?" Wes couldn't keep up with all of the Warbler's extracurricular activities.
Dalton required every student to participate in some type of sport and the faculty considered it a privilege to do so. Students had to maintain decent grades and stay out of trouble in order to be on any given sports team. Kurt appeared just as Blaine opened his mouth to answer David.
The three teenagers tensed when they saw his bare chest. Bruises marred Kurt's porcelain skin. Deep purple, yellow, and blue discoloration stood out in the white, amplified light. A few scars augmented the contusions. Kurt froze once he spotted the interlopers.
"Jesus, Kurt," David grimaced and stepped closer to him, "you're black and blue."
Tears streamed down Blaine's face as he placed his hands on Kurt's shoulders.
"Why didn't you tell me about this?"
"Does Dean Winters know about your condition?" Wes asked awkwardly. "I can't believe he would let you be on the fencing team if he knew you were injured."
The statement turned into an accusation. Wes thought about the possibilities. No one could actively beat a sixteen year old boy and get away with it. Christ, it was probably the kid's father. Wes remembered Blaine telling him about Kurt's recent endeavor to plan an elaborate wedding for his father.
"It's your father, isn't it?" Wes shook his head in disgust. "Did he send you here because he thought you were an embarrassment to him now that he got remarried?"
Blaine shot him a harsh, guarded glare. Wes met his gaze. That's what your dad did to you. Suddenly he understood his friend's intense interest in Kurt Hummel.
"My Dad would never hit me!" Kurt glared. "He loves me."
"You don't have to protect him," Wes began diplomatically; "We can help you, Kurt."
"It's not his father," Blaine said and grabbed Kurt's hand, "I'm guessing they're from Karofsky, right?"
Kurt pulled away from his friend and reached for his shirt with tears in his eyes.
"Some of them," He admitted softly, "but not all of them. He's not the only bully at McKinley."
"It's been two months since you left McKinley," David said, "Why haven't they healed yet."
"Because," Wes answered matter-of-factly as he looked at Kurt, "it's pretty obvious from the discoloration that you have some serious Intramuscular bruising. The tissue underneath his skin is so traumatized that it takes months to heal."
"Oh," David looked worried as he joined Kurt and Blaine on the wooden bench. "What did the doctor say? Did they give the okay to fence? Should you even be practicing with the Warblers? We have to stand for a long period of time."
"No doctor worth their salt would clear you for sports," Wes yanked on his tie, "How did you get into Dalton? They require a full physical, vaccinations, and good health to start classes."
Blaine and David nodded and stared at their friend. Kurt pulled on a white undershirt and nervously brushed strands of wet hair out of his eyes.
"I'm on the Cheerios."
"What?" Wes stared. "What the hell is a Cheerio?"
"McKinley's cheerleading team," David explained, "they're the hot cheerleaders that beat Cristina and Michele's team every year at nationals. Kurt clenched the Cheerio's eleventh title by singing a Celine Dion medley in French. For fifteen minutes."
"You never told me that, Kurt," Blaine complained, "wait, how do you know about all of this, David?"
"My girlfriends made me watch the video," David shrugged, "that's how I knew you were from McKinley when you came to spy on us."
"I thought it was the bondage shorts that tipped you off," Blaine smiled, "though I guess Kurt could have been a student from Carmel."
"You're getting distracted," Wes reminded them, "why does being a former Cheerio let you off the hook for a physical?"
"I have a contract," Kurt sighed, "the only doctor that's allowed to touch me has to be pre-approved by Coach Sylvester. She flies in a sports doctor, a chiropractor, and a specialist from New York City to examine us every semester. I'm a reserve Cheerio this year, but I still had an exam in September."
"And they accepted it?" Wes couldn't believe it.
"Coach Sylvester worked it out," he stared at the floor, "I didn't fight her."
"Why not?" Blaine grabbed his hand again. "They look so painful."
"They are painful," Wes asserted, "that kind of bruising is so deep, and it damages the muscle tissue. I'm surprised you haven't had any serious complications from those."
"I see an acupuncturist behind Coach Sylvester's back." Kurt replied. "I started seeing her freshman year, after my first dumpster toss."
"Dumpster toss?" David asked with a perplexed look on his face. "I hope that's not what I think it is."
"It's exactly what you think it is," Kurt shrugged, "and it was one of the jock's favorite torture activities. I used to get tossed in it at least twice a week-and I got a lot of my bruises from that. The others are from slamming into lockers."
"Jesus," Wes stared at him for a long, hard moment. "You should get your things, Kurt. I'm taking you to Columbus this evening."
"What?" Kurt started. "I have a test tomorrow-and we have Warbler's practice at five."
"We'll miss it," Wes informed him, "and don't worry about your test. My mom will excuse you from it."
"She's a doctor," Blaine explained, "She has her own clinic in Columbus."
Kurt immediately tensed and shook his head.
"I can't go to a doctor, Wes," he said with worry, "my dad will find out about it-he's sick. It will add to his stress."
"I'm not taking no for an answer, Kurt," Wes replied, "I'm Valedictorian, a senior, head of the Warblers, and student council president. It will be fine if I miss one swim practice and skip out on the Warblers for an afternoon. You really need to have those looked at-there might be complications even you don't know about."
"I think you should go with him, Kurt," Blaine agreed after a moment, "Dr. Kim is cool—I'm sure she'll understand about your dad."
"I think you should tell an adult you trust," David said, "what about your old coach?"
"Okay," Kurt finally acquiesced, "I'll go—but only if my dad doesn't find out about it."
"Deal," Wes promised, "Why don't you get your things? I'll call my mom and let her know we're coming."
Voices echoed off the tiled walls as Wes stepped out of the locker room and into the hallway. Guilt chipped away at his soul: he had just made the younger boy a promise he wasn't sure he could keep.
The moonless night draped Dalton Academy in somber darkness. Clouds obscured the bright stars overhead. The lamp posts scattered around the campus grounds lead the way to the dormitories. Wes yawned as he parked the Mercedes Benz in the designated space reserved for Valedictorian. The radio clicked off and the sedan cooled for a moment, but he remained in the driver's seat. His fingers tightened around the steering wheel and his stomach lurched.
Anger and disgust flooded through his veins as he took a long, deep breath. If anyone had asked Wes what he thought of Kurt Hummel this morning, he would have said that the sophomore was an over dramatic diva in need of a serious reality check. Now all he could see were the hideous bruises covering the younger teen's back and the pained noises he had made during the exam.
In the end, his mother had refused to send her patient back to Westerville and demanded to talk to a parent while threatening to call Child Protective Services. Horrified that anyone would even consider his father was capable of such a thing; Kurt had caved and called his stepmother. Carole Hummel showed up precisely two hours later and had instantly burst into tears when she saw the bruises all over her stepson.
After a long discussion about the severe bullying problem at West McKinley High and a detailed story about a death threat, Wes finally understood why Kurt Hummel transferred so suddenly during the middle of the semester. Blaine had mentioned the transfer had something to do with bullying, but he had never said anything about the severe bruising or a death threat. Wes wondered how much the junior knew and winced as he let go of the steering wheel. Kurt had squeezed Wes' left hand so tightly during his exam that he'd left a shallow bruise there.
Cold air greeted Wes as he climbed out of the car and grabbed his backpack. Curfew had ended forty minutes ago. Fortunately, his mother had called the school and informed the faculty he would be running late tonight. He had a lot of privileges as a floor manager and upper classman, but curfew was strictly enforced. Only a parent could excuse a student from curfew and they had to call both the main office and the residence hall to announce a late arrival.
A beat up pickup truck parked in the sea of newer sedans and expensive, flashy SUVs caught his attention. Wes stared at the vehicle for a minute and frowned when he saw a lone figure sitting in the cab. The truck's lights were off. Not every student at Dalton came from wealthy families. Quite a few attended on scholarships. While the majority of cars in the parking lot were nicer ones, the older cars were always polished and well cared for. Dalton had an image to maintain and most of the students cared about that image; or at least their parents did. No one in school would be caught dead with tacky bumper stickers and dirt all over their vehicles.
The hockey equipment tossed carelessly into the truck bed was the final clue that the driver did not attend Dalton Academy. No hockey team had existed at the school since the nine fifties. Wes fished a cellphone out of his pocket and called security before he headed over to the truck. The security guard promised to be there momentarily. Wes doubted the trespasser would cause much trouble once he realized they were onto him.
A startled teenager in a red and white letterman jacket physically jumped when Wes tapped his knuckles against the driver's side window. The wedding figurine sitting on the dashboard seemed a little odd, but he didn't comment as the window rolled down.
"I know you're not a student here," Wes said firmly, "I called campus security. I think you should leave before they get here."
"Screw you, Chink," the rotund brunette sneered, "I'm not bothering anyone."
"Did you just call me a Chink?" Wes squawked. "I'm not even Chinese, you idiot."
The bigger teen glared at him and reached for something on the passenger seat. At first, Wes thought he had a gun, but all he saw was a huge Big Gulp cup from 7-11. Without warning the guy hurled the cup at him and started the engine. A freezing cold liquid stung his eyes and seeped into his hair. What the hell had just happened?
After a long moment, Wes focused on the red liquid staining his uniform. It was the remainder of a cherry slushy. Who threw a slushy, of all things; and who knew it could hurt so much?
Mr. Carter took one look at Wes and immediately sent him to the dorms. The ice-cold liquid had soaked through his uniform. He trudged up the stairs without interruption and ignored the buzzing cell phone in his pocket. Blaine had texted exactly fifty-seven times and left ten impatient voice mails over the last few hours. Wes couldn't handle him right now. Single rooms at Dalton were hard to come by, but he'd earned one this year as Valedictorian and a resident assistant. He had to patrol the floor and make sure all of the underclassmen were in their rooms by curfew, but it was an easy price to pay for some private space.
No one bothered him as he barreled into the tidy room and made a beeline for the bathroom. Scraping red slushy out of stinging eyes and freezing hair turned out to be more difficult than he imagined. Once the artificial flavor melted to room temperature, it dried and stained. Wes swore intermittently as he spent the better part of an hour rinsing cherry flavor out of his hair and off various parts of his body.
"Did someone throw paint at you again for wearing faux fur?" Blaine asked as he leaned on the doorway.
"No," Wes snapped, "What are you doing in here? Lights out is in ten minutes."
Wes rolled his eyes and rubbed the sticky, dried substance off his cheek.
"Did you need something, Blaine?"
Blaine bounced on the heels of his feet and restlessly tugged on the strings attached to his green hoodie.
"How's Kurt?" The curly haired boy asked as he picked up a baseball and tossed it into the air. "I tried calling him, but he's not answering. I even called Finn, but he didn't know anything relevant."
"Kurt's fine," Wes reassured him, "but my mom thinks there may be some complications."
The younger teen considered his answer for a moment and sighed. Blaine squeezed the baseball in his hands and kicked the bed in frustration. Wes raised an eyebrow, but kept quiet.
"What kind of complications?" Blaine ventured. "I've never noticed anything off about him."
Of course you wouldn't notice anything, Captain Oblivious. Anyone could see how much Kurt liked Blaine, but the older teen tended to overlook things. Wes remembered Thad's crush on Blaine that had lasted for two years until he started dating some kid from Westerville High. The kid had done absolutely everything to get Blaine's attention and had failed miserably. He doubted Kurt would have better luck at wooing Blaine and that kid was much more subtle than Thad.
"Haven't you noticed the way Kurt sometimes stumbles during practice?" Wes prodded. "Or how straight he sits? I never realized it before, but now that I've been thinking about it, it's pretty obvious the kid has been in pain for a while. He has some damaged tissue and probably some serious muscle trauma-but they won't know for sure until he has some X-Rays."
"Oh," Blaine muttered, "Is that all?"
Wes debated whether or not he should mention that Kurt was ten pounds underweight and possibly Anemic. In the end he decided not to say anything about it. Blaine knew Kurt better than anyone at school, but medical privacy mattered. Kurt may have worn his heart on his sleeve when it came to showing his affections for Blaine, but he kept everything else hidden behind a solid mask.
"I don't know," he lied, "I think you should ask Kurt."
Blaine pestered him with more questions until he couldn't handle it any longer and promptly kicked him out. Mr. Walker excused Wes from floor check due to the slushy incident, so he crawled into bed and texted Kirsten. Wish you were here-had a rough night. Kirsten didn't answer, but the time difference ensured she'd be fast asleep in a high rise condo in London. A dull quiet filled the room as Wes drifted to sleep, but all he heard was an incessant recital of Chink.
The next two days passed without incident. No one else reported any wayward trespassers or suffered more assaults from high fructose corn syrup. Life went on at Dalton Academy. Wes almost forgot the slushy completely between studying for tests and an ungodly amount of homework. Seniors had more class projects and work than any other students at the school. Wes got bogged down by a research project on United States' foreign policy and spent half the week holed up in the library.
Nothing seemed amiss until Wednesday night's floor check. When Wes reached room twenty seven, only one boy occupied it. The attendance roster had Kurt Hummel listed as present. Jeff Drake's shaggy blond hair shook with the upbeat dance music blaring from his headphones. The bathroom door was open and clearly unoccupied at the moment. Wes frowned at the other side of the room. Kurt was not inside.
"Jeff," Wes called as he tapped the clipboard, "where's Kurt?"
"I think he said something about a report due this week," Jeff shrugged once he had removed the headphones, "I haven't really seen him today."
Wes sighed and finished the rest of the floor check before he started a search for Kurt Hummel. Mr. Walker would be upset if he knew one of his residents was actively breaking the rules. He didn't want the younger boy to get in trouble, so he quietly checked out a few rooms by himself. Lights out wasn't for another hour and seniors didn't have a designated bed time. Mr. Walker wouldn't bat an eye at him if he saw him wandering around the second floor.
The search didn't last long. Kurt had carved out a study space in the small lounge at the end of the hall. None of the students on the second floor really liked that room since it had no windows, dim lighting, and felt more like a closet than a comfortable study space. They tended to stick to the library or one of the friendlier study rooms on the lower levels.
Wes opened the door without knocking and sighed in relief when he found Kurt sound asleep at the desk. It explained the absence. Mindful of the sophomore's bruises, Wes lightly tapped him on the shoulders. Kurt practically bolted out of his seat and winced as his back connected with the chair's hard, wooden back.
"I'm sorry for startling you," Wes apologized, "but curfew ended ten minutes ago. It's time to go back to your room."
Kurt paled, but nodded and started to gather all of the supplies scattered across the desk. Wes began to help him and abruptly stopped when he saw the younger boy's hands shaking like a leaf.
"What's wrong?" He asked with concern. "Are you sure you're all right to be back in school already? I know you got banned from fencing until further notice, but I thought you were okay to be back here."
"It's not the bruises," Kurt admitted as he shoved the rest of his papers into a backpack, "that's not why I'm upset."
"Then what is it?" Wes huffed. "You're shaking."
"It's just," Kurt's eyes filled with tears, "I don't think I can sleep in my room tonight."
Of all things he'd been expecting to hear, that certainly wasn't one of them. Wes stared at Kurt for a long moment and found he was at a loss for words. Jeff couldn't be the problem; the blond practically raved about his fantastic roommate. Kurt wiped at his eyes with trembling fingers.
"Here," Kurt said and thrust a postcard at the older boy, "Look."
Wes quirked an eyebrow at the unusual request, but he glanced down and took a good look. The postcard had a cheesy cartoon map of Westerville on it and a lame I love Ohio! catchphrase underneath it. Thick permanent marker blotched out a section of the map. An arrow with a line pointing to the map had been messily scribbled down next to it and said You are here. He turned the card over to the back. Kurt's address appeared there and nothing else.
"This feels creepy," Wes paused, "and I can understand why this makes you weary about sleeping in your bedroom. When you first transferred here, the council thought you had come to spy on us, but Blaine told us that some guy on the football team harassed you pretty badly, and that's why you came here so suddenly."
"You were the one that thought I was trying to sabotage you, right?" Kurt looked at the floor. "I know you don't like me."
Admittedly, Wes hadn't cared for the younger boy very much. Kurt had a lot of attitude and an acerbic wit that clashed with the collaborative spirit in an experienced Acapella group. The nature of their choir depended on team work and understanding. They didn't expect everyone to lose their personalities or agree with everything the council decided, but they did count on their singers to blend together and harmonize for the group regardless of their differences.
While David had wanted to give Kurt that solo for sectionals, Wes had profoundly objected. Thad had taken his side in the end and agreed that the sophomore needed to understand their group dynamic better before they let him sing lead. Solos were a big deal in their group, because the singer had to carry everyone else and strive not to overtake the background singers. A remarkable countertenor like Kurt Hummel would drown out the other singers and blow them out of the water. Wes had made his case against the kid because he just knew they would have lost to New Directions if they had let him sing.
"I like you well enough now," Wes tried, "and I never really disliked you to begin with. I just thought you needed to learn how our group worked-I mean, you just came on a little strongly and I didn't think you knew how to handle team work."
"The only thing I knew about team work I learned from Coach Sylvester," Kurt smiled thinly, "and even that team was cut-throat. Everyone wanted to be head Cheerio and everyone competed for it all the time. You're right, though-I wasn't ready. New Directions idea of team work is fighting it out until crunch time, and then they throw something together at the last minute and perform it. The Warblers are different. It's an entirely different energy, but there's not as much drama and nobody sends their rival soloists to crack houses because they feel threatened. They actually congratulate each other when someone else wins a solo they auditioned for. Not to mention the way the council handles auditions and gives out solos is a lot fairer than the way my old instructor used to do it. Everyone in New Directions used to complain about their lack of solos, except Rachel and Finn, because they always got the solos. No one complains about Blaine getting solos because he has to audition for them every time, and he really does carry an Acapella group well."
"I'm glad to hear that you're satisfied with the student council's methods," Wes smiled, "but we still have to figure out something about your sleeping arrangements."
"Karofsky knows where I sleep," Kurt sighed and wrung his hands, "what if he's out there in the parking lot right now in his truck, watching me?"
The rhetorical question hung between them. Wes' stomach lurched once he realized that the guy had been here two nights ago. The colors of the letterman jacket should have been a dead giveaway, because Kurt's brother wore one every time he came to visit. Wes thought about the vicious bruises marring the sophomore's body and the frightening postcard he had received. Kurt couldn't know that his main tormentor had been here on Monday night; he already had too much to deal with.
"Do you think you could handle sleeping in your room for one more night?" Wes fought the urge to ball his hands into fists. "I'll talk to some of the other students and see if someone's willing to switch. The administration shouldn't have a problem with it, especially if you show them that postcard."
"I—I don't want to cause any more trouble," Kurt informed him, "if I show them this, they'll tell my dad—and his blood pressure was already too high yesterday afternoon when he went for a checkup. He didn't handle my impromptu checkup well. Finn told me that one of Rachel's dads came by yesterday. Apparently they're going to file a lawsuit against the county school board."
"Okay," Wes hesitantly agreed, "I'll keep it under wraps for now. This is serious, Kurt. I'm not going to let you handle this alone. We'll get you a new room and if anything at all happens-something else beside the postcard, you tell me. Got it?"
"Yes," Kurt whispered, "thank you."
"Good," Wes squeezed his shoulder, "let's go back to your room."
They walked down the hall in silence. A cold, dark rage simmered in Wes' gut. Ava's slim, round face filled his mind as he flashed back to his older sister's funeral. The casket hid her shattered skull and battered face. Wes could still see the mourners dressed in traditional Hemp clothing and bowing to show his sister respect. No one had known her ex-boyfriend had been stalking her for the last year. His parents were very traditional and expected their children to date other Koreans. Ava had dated a nice, friendly Korean graduate student at Princeton for two years before she finally broke it off, though she had never given any reasons. Nobody had been able to help her because she had been too scared of causing trouble for both of their families, so she decided to deal with everything on her own. Her silence had cost her life.
Jeff answered the door after the first knock. The blond smiled warmly at his roommate and ushered him into the room.
"Dude," Jeff panted, "where were you? You didn't get caught by Mr. Walker, did you?"
"No," Kurt said shortly, "I fell asleep in the study lounge. Wes found me."
"It's nothing to fret about," Wes shrugged, "I'm calling it a night. I'll see you tomorrow."
Kurt threw him a grateful look and wished him goodnight. Wes finally relented to his bad habit and balled his hands into tight fists as he trudged down the hall. A heavy silence filled the small dorm room. He flopped down onto his bed and opened the nightstand's single drawer and pulled out an old photograph. Ava smiled at him as she clutched a guitar between her fingers.
Wes hadn't been able to help his sister, but he had a chance to help Kurt. Even if the other boy was reluctant to tell the proper authorities, he could still use every resource he had to help him. Wes had plenty of people he could ask for help: The Warblers, New Directions, Kurt's brother, and Dalton's faculty. The only thing he had to figure out was how to get them to help without telling everyone the whole sordid story.
Finding a reliable and trust worthy friend to assist with Operation: Save Kurt Hummel proved difficult. Kurt's closest friend at Dalton Academy was Blaine Anderson. Wes knew the junior had a lot of the details regarding Karofsky, but he certainly didn't know anything about any recent developments. Blaine was too close to the situation to be enough help, and he always had terrible ideas anyways.
David couldn't handle something like this and keep quiet about it. The skinny black teen was the biggest blabbermouth in school. He knew everything about everyone and kept a little black book full of secrets. Wes constantly teased him and insisted he was the resident Gossip Girl. Jeff couldn't eat meat and got high every day. Nick was more anal than Martha Stewart; no way could he be helpful. Thad looked promising; if Wes could actually pull him away from his boyfriend's lips long enough to get a word in edgewise.
Wes considered asking Thad first to help with the Kurt situation, but he didn't answer his phone. Instead he settled on the one person in Dalton that owed Wes his life: Lance Connor. The large, curly haired bass singer invited him up to his room and offered an objective ear. Wes figured he would have been invited even if he'd asked at three in the morning. Lance had a friendly disposition and a laid back attitude.
"Good to see you, Wes," Lance began and ushered Wes into the room, "I see you've finally come to collect that favor. What will it be? Sabotaging a rival show choir? Eliminating someone from the Warblers? What?"
"Funny," Wes rolled his eyes, "I actually came here to ask you a favor. I need your help to save someone—but you absolutely cannot repeat this to anyone. It involves sabotaging someone's car and making his life hell so he's too busy to stalk someone else. Are you in?"
"Who are you and what have you done with Wesley Kim?" Lance deadpanned. "And he knows I'm in, because I once made some terrible choices and he had to come rescue me in Chicago because I got gay-bashed when I left a bar."
"We're friends; I would have come anyway," Wes joked, "but I needed to know you would keep quiet about it."
"I'm in," Lance sighed, "I'm all ears."
The large teen listened patiently as Wes told him everything that had happened during the last few days. Cold tears streaked down his cheeks by the time he finished. Lance patted him encouragingly on the back and handed him a Popular Mechanics magazine. Wes stared at the unexpected gift, completely surprised and puzzled.
"Is this some kind of metaphor involving cars?" He asked quietly. "Hold on—since when do you find cars even remotely interesting?"
"I'm trying to expand my reading material," Lance muttered, "and my reading choices aren't the issue here. Turn to page thirty-one."
Wes raised an eyebrow at him, but acquiesced to his request. An article discussing desert climates and a place called Yuma appeared in the glossy magazine. He skimmed over the small sprint quickly and glanced at Lance.
"I don't understand," Wes frowned, "how exactly are sand dunes going to help us save Kurt?"
"No," Lance sighed, "not the dunes-the sand. We could take a drive down to Lima tomorrow night and put sand in this guy's gas tank. Then we'll dump some more in his engine. That ought to rain on his parade for a while."
"You're brilliant." Wes grinned.
At first, the sand idea seemed like a good plan. Wes had figured picking out one beat up pick truck couldn't be too hard. Reality didn't sink in until they stood in West McKinley High's parking lot. He counted fifteen dilapidated trucks with a similar look to the one he had seen at Dalton. None of them had any sports equipment in the back.
"I thought you said you knew which one it is," Lance complained as they crouched next to a cute bug, "you said you got a good look at it."
"I did," Wes bit back, "but it was dark, and the guy threw frozen corn syrup all over me."
They had dressed down for the trip and sported casual denim jeans, jackets, shoes, and beanies. Wes slid down the side of the Bug and landed on the asphalt with a dull thud. Gray clouds hovered overhead, promising twelve inches of snow and freezing temperatures by tomorrow night. Lance plopped down beside him and fiddled with his coat zipper.
"We could just put sand in every truck's gas tank," Lance suggested, "I think we have enough. Then we'll be sure to get this guy."
"I don't know," Wes sighed, "I'd hate to do that to an innocent guy-it'll cost him extra money—and it's not like these kids have a lot going for them."
Lima, Ohio existed as a standard blue collar town. The families all fell somewhere within the middle class or right on the poverty line. Wes felt sorry for the kids that lived in those run-down apartment buildings they had passed earlier. Sometimes he wondered what it was like being poor, but all he had to do was take one look at Mike Chang and he'd be over it. Mike went to McKinley and wore old hand me down clothes.
When they were younger, the lanky dancer used to always show up at the Kim estate hungry and coatless. The help had always overloaded him with Tupperware behind his mother's back. They all knew she'd just offer a cold smile and send a hungry boy away; she had little sympathy for the poor. Cho Hee Kim had been born wealthy and married well. She didn't believe in charity. Wes had never told on any of his nannies and kept Mike's secret close. The skinny Asian boy always made him grateful that his family had money.
"I have a confession to make," Lance suddenly blurted, "I'm not here strictly for you."
"What?" Wes had lost his train of thought and noted the guilty look on his friends' face. "What do you mean?"
"I came here for you," Lance flushed, "and to help Kurt out-do you think he'd go out with me if I asked?"
"Kurt likes Blaine," Wes spluttered automatically, "I'm sure you've noticed all of those adoring looks-and I don't think this is the right time or place to be asking about this!"
"I know he likes Blaine," Lance rolled his eyes; "I'm not blind. I meant once this guy backs off and Kurt finally realizes that I'm better boyfriend material than Blaine-'cause I'm not a douchebag or insecure."
"Blaine's not a douchebag," Wes huffed, "and you're one to talk about insecurity, Lance-I'm the only person that even knows you're gay. You honestly think you could date someone as proud and out there as Kurt Hummel without your family finding out about it?"
"You know why I haven't come out yet," Lance hissed angrily, "and I like to think that Kurt would understand."
Irritation clenched Wes' stomach and he almost shot off a quick barb, but a perky blond haired girl prevented it.
"Judge Warbler!" She screeched and bounced towards them. "I'm glad you're here."
"You are?" Wes asked incredulously, "Aren't you in New Directions?"
"You're the girl that did the flip," Lance affirmed, "at sectionals—with that tall Asian guy. Why are you wearing leg warmers on your arms while you're in a tank top? In February?"
"I thought it was summer," she shrugged, "and Rachel paid me to. In fact, since you're here, Judge Warbler, I could use your legal advice. I want to change my name to Brittney South Dakota. Then I'd be just like Hannah Montana. Mercedes says that a designer's name has to be catchy, and I've lived in Brittney's shadow for too long."
"I'll help you with your legal troubles," Wes ventured, "if you can tell me which truck out here belongs to Dave Karofsky."
"The blue one," Brittney beamed, "I once made out with him in there—but only because I was trying to keep up my perfect kissing record!"
"Thank you," Wes returned, "I hope you won't tell anyone that you saw us here."
"I totally won't," the blonde promised, "I know judges have that whole confident thing—they have to follow the Hippocratic Oath. Thanks for helping me with my legal troubles, Judge!"
Wes watched her flounce away with an exuberate bounce.
"What just happened here?" Lance pinched the bridge of his nose. "I feel like I just had a one sided conversation with Courtney Love."
"I have no idea," Wes confessed, "but we have made the truck. Let's finish the job before anyone else sees us!"
The sand prank was a success. Dave Karofsky had lost his car for weeks. Wes and Lance returned to Dalton and resumed their routines at school. Kurt seemed happier once he switched rooms, though Jeff hated losing his roommate. The blond always got attached to people too quickly. Wes knew Jeff didn't have very attentive parents, so he tended to latch onto his friends and girlfriends for moral support. The tall dancer still hung out in Kurt's new room all the time and swore that he had no problems with gay guys. Wes had been forced to pull Jeff aside and tell him some of the truth: that one of Kurt's former tormentors had discovered he transferred to Dalton and had sent the sophomore some threatening letters.
After their brief chat in the first floor lounge, Jeff had promptly deemed himself a bodyguard and followed Kurt around the school. Wes didn't know if the younger boy suspected anything, but he didn't seem to mind Jeff's constant presence. Blaine and David helped Kurt recover from his bruises by carrying small pillows in their book bags and shoved them onto chairs before the sophomore entered a room. Eventually, the other Warblers caught onto the fact that Kurt had back problems. Thad always arrived to practice early to set up their meetings and saved him a spot on one of the leather sofas. David and Nick practically threw pillows at Kurt. Cornelius had picked up on Kurt's weight loss and had managed to convince his mother (a famous Parisian chef) to make extra frosted cookies and on one occasion, an exquisite Tiramisu cake. Despite all of Kurt's healthy eating habits, it seemed he had no will power when it came to authentic, handmade desert. Wes had no idea how Cornelius knew that particular tidbit about Kurt, but he suspected Blaine had something to do with it.
The Winter Formal committee had finally settled on an Oscar theme thanks to Kurt's suggestion and quickly enlisted his help with decorations once they discovered he'd planned his parent's wedding entirely on his own. Wes had tried pushing Blaine towards the younger boy, but the junior had confessed that he liked some boy at the Gap one afternoon when they had gone out for coffee. The idiot had even managed to talk the Warblers into singing an impromptu performance at the mall. Wes had banged his gavel in an attempt to save his friend from an unmitigated public humiliation.
Kurt had completely missed the subtle diversion and jumped in to defend Blaine. Wes had just winced when everyone had eagerly climbed on that bandwagon. Lance had left the meeting with a grin, because he'd seen the devastated look on Kurt's face after Blaine had mentioned the Gap employee. He knew it was only a matter of time before the tall junior started to woo Kurt.
For a few days, Wes debated telling Blaine that Kurt had a secret admirer. In the end he decided against saying anything. The younger boys had gone to a party someone in New Directions held and didn't speak to one another for days once they returned to Dalton. Wes never asked them what had happened, but Jeff said it had something to do with Blaine kissing a girl and questioning his sexuality. Blaine stewed for days and Kurt simply ignored him. Wes glared at Lance when Kurt started eating lunch with him and Jeff, but the black teen had just shrugged nonchalantly.
The escalating drama continued until Winter Formal. Their sister school attended the dance and gushed at the tasteful red and gold decorations adorning the gym and actually squealed at the red carpet leading the way inside. They all wanted to know who they had hired to decorate this year, because apparently their former choices in themes and cheap party streamers sucked big time. When someone on the dance committee pointed to Kurt, the girls quickly descended on him and didn't leave his side; much to the envy of every guy at Dalton.
Blaine drank eight cups of sugary punch and obsessively shoved sugar cookies into his mouth. The junior sported red rims under his eyes and puffy hair; clear evidence he'd been taking the fight pretty hard. Wes finally cornered him by the gigantic punch bowl and stole a cookie out his hands.
"I don't know what happened between you two," Wes began diplomatically, "but I think you should apologize already."
"I'm not the one that has problems with people questioning their sexuality," Blaine muttered, "I'm not the one that's emulating Karofsky and unaccepting of bisexuals."
"Tell me you didn't just compare Kurt to the guy that put a lot of those bruises on him," Wes seethed quietly, "no wonder the kid's upset with you!"
"He doesn't believe in bisexuality," Blaine defended, "and he said I only kissed Rachel because I was drunk. I might know now that I am gay, but he should have accepted me! What if I was bisexual? He wouldn't accept me—and he's the last person that should be bigoted when it comes to sexuality!"
"Blaine," Wes frowned, "did you ever stop to think that Kurt said those things because you hurt his feelings when you macked on one of his friends? I'm not saying that it's okay—but maybe he didn't really mean it—just like I'm sure you didn't mean to compare him to someone like Karofsky."
Guilt washed over Blaine's handsome features. An uncomfortable silence fell between them. Classy salsa music filled the gym and fake celebrity couples twirled around the gym. A few dance songs played and Wes missed his girlfriend terribly. Blaine downed more cookies and moved onto the brownies. Lance had disappeared sometime during the salsa number. Wes searched the crowd for him and wondered if the junior had managed to corner Kurt and confess his undying love for him yet. The big teen had insisted that the dance was the perfect place to come out and declare his feelings for the sophomore.
Wes anticipated ugly fallout from the big coming out plan and had tried to talk Lance out of it, but the teen had simply said that he was sick and tired of living in fear. He knew Lance's father would likely try to pull him out of Dalton once he discovered his son was gay; but he hoped things worked out for his friend. Jeff appeared after a Sublime song and tapped him frantically on the shoulder.
"I can't find Kurt," the blond worried, "he's absolutely vanished."
"I'm sure he's fine," Wes reassured him, "I think he'll be around shortly."
"I haven't seen him either," Blaine interjected, "maybe we should go look for him."
"Sounds like a plan," Jeff thinly smiled, "It's not like him to take off like this. I texted him three times and he didn't answer."
They left the gym with little fanfare. Blaine texted Kurt during their search and demanded to know where he was. The first floor had classrooms and offices that were all locked. Couples weren't allowed in the lounges. Some of the dorm rooms proved to be occupied and a few irritated couples shooed them away, but they couldn't find the countertenor anywhere. Lance wasn't answering any texts either, which made Wes think they were making out somewhere and oblivious to the search party.
Their worry increased when they searched the courtyard and found nothing except a few students passing around a joint. Blaine's sugar high made him extremely hyper and he suggested they check the parking lot. Wes agreed out of sheer panic.
"I think you ought to get the fuck out of my face, man!"
An angry voice rose above the howling, frigid wind. A heavy set teen in a letterman jacket hovered over Kurt Hummel. The younger boy huddled against a Ford Explorer and clutched his left wrist tightly to his chest. A gash on his forehead oozed blood. Kurt's right eye was red and rapidly turning blue. Lance stood a few feet away with a terrified look on his face and his hands in the air.
"Jesus Christ!" Wes swore. "Jeff, call the police!"
"Shit," Jeff cried and reached for his phone, "I'm not going back inside!"
"Oh god," Blaine gasped, "Kurt. Karofsky."
Blaine's loud cry startled the injured teen and his blue eyes wildly searched for his friend. Tears stained his reddened cheeks. Wes felt sick. Karofsky turned towards them and pointed a gun in their direction.
"Move over there, hero," Karofsky sneered at Lance, "I don't want you coming any closer. As I already demonstrated, I'm an excellent shot."
"Don't hurt him," Blaine pleaded, "please. God—he needs medical attention."
"Shut up," the brunette hissed, "SHUT UP!"
Lance kept his concerned eyes on Kurt as he backed away from them. Kurt whimpered and called for Blaine. Wes didn't know what came over him, but his legs refused to cooperate. Hot rage boiled his veins. He barely registered running towards Karofsky.
"Leave him alone!" He screamed as he launched himself at the large teen.
The move caught Karofsky by surprise and he tumbled onto the ground as Wes barreled into his stomach. Kurt let out another cry, but remained sitting on the pavement. Wes pummeled Karofsky with his fists and barely felt the bones in his hand snap as he hit him again and again.
Strong hands pulled him away from the big teenager. Wes struggled for breaths and sobbed as Lance wrapped his arms around his torso. Blaine held Kurt in a comforting embrace and whispered something into his friend's ears. Sirens wailed in the distance.
At some point during the fight the other students and several faculty members had come outside. Several of the biggest and strongest Warblers held down a struggling Karofsky. Wes caught a brief glimpse of his battered face and relief washed over him.
"Is Kurt all right?" He asked once the authorities arrived with paramedics.
"He'll be going to the hospital," a red headed EMT informed him, "but he should be fine. From what I gather, he suffered a minor concussion and a fractured wrist. You boys should be proud of yourselves. You helped save your friend's life."
Lance and David smile genuinely at him and wacked him on the back. Wes let them guide him back into a waiting ambulance without fuss. Kurt would be all right. He hadn't been able to save his sister, but he had saved his friend.