"All souls are hostages to their human envelopes, but
souls must decay and suffer at such indignity - don't you

~Gregory Maguire, Wicked


In the farthest corner of the Lima Bean coffee shop, sitting at a table with only one chair and a medium drip going cold on the table, Blaine was leaning back in his chair and absorbed in his phone. He'd made sure ever since the funeral to avoid the usual table where he and Kurt sat like the plague, instead claiming the corner territory as his own. He didn't even really like coming back to the Lima Bean at all, but it seemed oddly enough to make him feel better at the same time as making him feel worse. Plus, it was the only place where he could go and actually feel somewhat relaxed.

Before the accident, Blaine and Kurt had usually spent about an hour in the Lima Bean every weekday, maximum. Now, Blaine never stayed for less than three hours, and was there on the weekends too. At home, his father continuously tried to convince him that it wasn't such a big loss, because, after all, it was God sending Blaine a very specific and direct message that sodomizing was a sin. Blaine had responded the first time by attempting (very unsuccessfully, since his father was six-foot-five) to punch him in the face, but every time the subject was brought up, he'd made a habit of silently leaving the room, sometimes leaving the house altogether.

Blaine wished that he'd heard about the accident from an actual person rather than seeing it on TV at Dalton during study hall, but at least the knowledge that Kurt was gone came fairly quickly. The crash had happened several hours earlier before it finally reached the Ohio news network, and by that point, the names had already been released. He'd been focusing hard on his physics homework with his iPod plugged in to block out the droning of the TV, which some of the other boys insisted helped their concentration even though they weren't watching it, when Wes urgently jabbed Blaine's shoulder, shaking him out of his Katy Perry cloud. Blaine pulled out his earbuds, looking around the room to see that every single student in the room had stopped working and was watching the television, completely silent. Several of the Warbler members had their hands over their mouths, and Trent's eyes were wide as dinner plates.

"What's going on?" Blaine asked, frowning at the TV.

Wes didn't need to reply.

Now, Blaine was sitting in the Lima Bean, alone, flipping through the few photos of himself and Kurt on his phone. He'd forgotten about his coffee four hours ago, and hadn't paid any attention to any of the other patrons, nor had he moved at all since he'd sat down. It was closing in on five in the evening when a voice brought his focus away from his phone's tiny screen. He raised his head with an absent-minded "Huh?" before noticing that it was Dave Karofsky standing in front of him, wearing a Lima Bean hat and polyester green apron.

"Um," was Blaine's eloquent response.

Dave looked nervous, and he shuffled his feet a little. "Are… are you okay? My boss said you've been here since lunchtime."

Blaine forgot his confusion at seeing Kurt's former tormentor employed at his favorite hangout, and snapped back, "Whether I'm okay or not is none of your business."

"I know," said Dave. "But… I was just wondering."

Blaine felt bile rise in his throat. "You spent years torturing Kurt, and you traumatized and assaulted him. He was miserable because of you. Then you decide to crash his funeral, and now you have the gall to ask me if I'm okay?" Blaine was surprised at the deadened tone in his voice.

Dave swallowed. "I wanted to pay my respects."

"You had your chance when he was alive."

Blaine was expecting Dave to argue, or at least mildly protest, but instead he only nodded. "I'll leave you alone, then."

"Don't bother," Blaine said, shoving his phone into his pocket and slinging his bag over his shoulder as he stood up. He reached for his coffee, not-so-subtly letting his hand slip and tip the mug over, letting the contents splash across the table. "Whoops," he said, brushing past and leaving Dave to clean up.

Santana was lying back on her bed, staring at her ceiling as Tina sat idly on the chair in front of the vanity table with one leg drawn up to rest on the seat. Lord Tubbington, who Brittany's parents had given to Santana after the funeral, had somehow pancaked himself on the floor, letting his stomach spread out underneath him like a furry puddle. Santana's legs were hanging off her mattress and she was wondering why the hell she'd chosen to leave her ceiling white when her walls were painted black. The ceiling wasn't even white any more – it was more like the color of a baby's spit-up, the thought of which made her grimace and sit up so that she didn't have to look at it any more.

"Why did you never talk about your family before?" Tina asked abruptly, looking at the photo on the bureau of the extensive Lopez clan.

"I was the Head Bitch In Charge for a reason," Santana said dryly, scratching behind Lord Tubbington's ears. "I don't do personal talking. It's just not my thing."

Tina frowned, though it wasn't for the reason that Santana expected. "…Aren't you still the Head Bitch?"

Santana sighed, leaning against the wall behind her bed and crossing her arms over her chest. "I don't know," she said quietly. "Honestly, the whole idea of it seems boring to me now." There was a long minute of silence before Santana spoke again. "I quit the Cheerios."

Tina didn't look surprised or confused, which in turn surprised and confused Santana. Rather than inquire as to why, Tina only asked how Coach Sylvester had taken it.

Santana shrugged. "She's got Little Miss Downs to be team captain. Plus, she said she's sure I'll be back once I get rid of both my emotional and silicon baggage."

"Do you plan to go back?"

Santana merely shook her head, studying her hands in her lap.

"I miss the old us."

Tina had said it so quietly that Santana wasn't sure she'd said anything. "Old?" she echoed. "Jesus, Chang, it wasn't even three weeks ago!"

"My name is Tina."

Santana's jaw clamped shut. She wasn't used to that sort of tone (or the vaguely threatening glare) coming from the shy Asian girl. It was confusing. Tina was even starting to dress more like she had in freshman year, and the number of safety pins in her sleeves had increased. Santana wondered if Tina knew it was obvious.

She kept her mouth shut and bent down to scratch Lord Tubbington's ears.

Wes enjoyed his weekly escapades in the Dalton fight club. Dalton was a school that demanded excellence, and with excellence came stress. He'd heard about the fight club soon after he'd started at Dalton, just through hushed conversations between the other students, and had eventually noticed that every single kid who had a nervous breakdown and left the school was not a member. So, he'd figured it was in his best interests to join.

He'd gotten a couple scars over the last couple years, but nothing really serious (after all, they were teenagers, not Olympic boxers), and his stress levels generally remained well below what they'd normally been before his signup. He'd built up some muscle, learned most of the other boys' strategies, and eventually started helping with the club's organization even though David officially ran it. Since Wes was a natural leader with a genuine caring streak, all the other students he believed he was somewhat responsible for remained on his radar twenty-four-seven until graduation.

Blaine was one of those people, and right now, Blaine was also the biggest blip on Wes's radar screen.

So, naturally, Wes was a little concerned when he saw Blaine quietly enter the old abandoned gym building where the fight club meetings were held on Friday nights. He'd barely noticed Blaine come in, since the lead Warbler was short to begin with but had also recently developed a habit of hunching down when he walked. Blaine hung towards the back of the large group of boys watching Trent and Jeff punch each other in the middle of the floor, his face lacking in expression. Circling around the group, Wes approached Blaine, who was just unbuttoning his shirt in preparation for a fight.

"What are you doing here, Blaine?"

Blaine looked up, his large eyebrows pulling together. He pulled his shirt off so that his upper half was clad in only a wife beater. "So the founder of the club isn't allowed in any more?" he asked, sloppily folding his shirt and tossing it on the ground in the corner.

"You know that you're always welcome, Blaine," Wes started, ignoring a grunt from Jeff as Trent drove his knuckles into the blond boy's side. "But I'm a little worried that you're not in the right place right now to be a part of this."

"Isn't that the point?" Blaine replied evenly, meeting Wes's eyes with an unnerving levelness. "To get rid of stress?"

"Stress, yes. Grief, no."

"Grief is stress," Blaine countered, pulling off his undershirt and tossing it onto his other discarded shirt. "I'll be fine." He gave Wes a tight smile and turned towards where Jeff was currently sending his fist into Trent's jaw with a loud thwack, breaking eye contact signaling that the conversation was over.

Wes sighed and backed off, crossing his arms over his chest as he waited for the ongoing fight to finish.

Eventually, Jeff signaled for Trent to stop, and they chuckled and high-fived as a few others clapped or whooped.

"Okay, who's up next?" called Thad.

Blaine stepped into the middle of the floor, and Thad's grin faltered for a moment, but rather than comment he asked who would be Blaine's opponent.

Wes took a deep breath and stepped forward. He was bigger than Blaine, and older by a couple of years, and if Blaine was going to lose it, Wes figured that it was better Blaine do minimal damage to him rather than maximum damage to one of the younger Daltoners who were anxious to fight.

The two boys circled each other for a few moments as Wes waited for Blaine to make the first move so that he could try to make out just how messed up in the head Blaine was at the moment.

Blaine thrust his fist out towards Wes's abdomen, but the taller boy quickly deflected, stepping to the right. Blaine tried to strike again, but Wes managed to dodge a second time. This repeated for about a minute, and Wes could see that Blaine was quickly getting annoyed.

"Come on, hit me," Blaine hissed, glaring at Wes with a (slightly frightening) glint in his eye. "Quit playing games."

Wes said nothing, easily stepping away from another careless punch. He had a feeling that Blaine was either going to snap or just storm out, and Wes figured that one or the other needed to happen or Blaine would lose his mind.

"Come on, Montgomery," Blaine growled lowly. "Let's go already."

None of the spectators were cheering or even smiling. The entire group could see exactly what Wes was trying to do and why, and the tension was enough to make several of them hold their breath.

Finally, Blaine lunged before Wes had a chance to move out of the way, and the smaller boy's fist was driven with an alarming amount of force into Wes's lower stomach just above his groin. Wes groaned and doubled over, feeling dizzy from the blow, and was suddenly struck again, this time in the side of his face. The crack to his jawbone was enough to make Wes lose his balance and fall over backwards, his arms reflexively jerking up to protect himself as Blaine dove at him with both fists in full swing.

Several of the boys were shouting now, yelling that this wasn't a civil fight and that there had to be some rule against this, but Wes was pretty sure that Blaine couldn't hear them. Blaine was gritting his teeth and letting out a grunt of frustration every time he drove his fist into Wes's stomach.

Finally, Wes threw his hands up, somehow managing to grab Blaine's wrists and hold them at a length so that his body was almost suspended over Wes. David stepped forward and grabbed Blaine from behind, pulling him away from Wes and setting him on his feet.

Blaine gave David an angry shove. "What the hell are you doing?" he panted. "This fight doesn't end until one of us says it does."

"No, this fight ends now," David replied sternly. His arm was against Blaine's chest, keeping him away from Wes, who was pulling himself stiffly to his feet, wiping blood away from his cheek and split lip.

Blaine's eyes narrowed, and just as he drew his fist back to hit David, David beat him to it. There was a solid, wet-sounding crack, and Blaine let out a yell, his hand over his face as blood seeped through his fingers. David grabbed his shoulders so that Blaine wouldn't fall.

"Come on," David said gently. "I've got a first aid kit in my car."

A/N: Please leave feedback - this particular story is very important to me and I want to know what you think and what I can improve on.