Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not us.
Written as a collaboration between Kivrin and Keitorin Asthore.
The Clio Nav Corporation has no involvement in this documentation.
Blaine drummed his fingers on the table, glancing around the busy restaurant. He kept glancing towards the door, hoping each time that he would see the familiar face of his handsome boyfriend. It wasn't like Kurt to be late, but maybe something had happened. And Kurt never let things slide. He would walk in, full of apologies, his nose scrunched in sweet sheepish embarrassment, and Blaine would hug him without a second thought.
That is, he'd hug him if he ever showed up.
He scanned the restaurant again, hoping that he'd just…missed him or something. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. Maybe Kurt came in the back door or something, and got seated at his own table, and maybe right now, this very second, he was scanning the crowded restaurant looking for Blaine.
Or maybe he just stood you up, a tiny tortuous little voice said. Maybe he's just passive-aggressively breaking up with you.
Blaine shifted in his seat, glancing around quickly as if everyone in the restaurant could read his thoughts. He pulled his phone out again and sent out another message.
Hey, it's me. I'm not mad, but please call or something, okay? I'm worried.
And yes, he was worried, but he was also the faintest bit angry. Angry at Kurt for not bothering to show. Angry at Kurt for giving him the cold shoulder for a week. Angry at Kurt for picking a fight in the first place.
He fiddled with his fork, his mouth drawing down. His stomach twisted. All right, he was more than a little bit angry.
The waitress paused by his table and cleared her throat. "Honey, are you going to order anything, or are you just going to sit here all night and take up space?" she asked, clearly irritable.
He sat up, forcing himself to squelch the anger rising i his chest. "I'll go ahead and order an appetizer while I wait," he said sweetly. "Um…the mozzarella sticks, please? And a Sprite."
The waitress scribbled it down and walked away without another word. Blaine crumpled his straw wrapper and rolled it flat. It wouldn't hurt to get an appetizer. It would give him something to do besides think about Kurt.
Besides, Kurt hated mozzarella sticks, and the vindictive order choice made him feel just a little bit better.
But not really.
"So, what are we supposed to be doing?" Kurt asked, wriggling uncomfortably. The rough weave of the tunic irritated his skin, and he swore it still smelled like the sheep who had produced the wool. "What's the intervention? Are we supposed to cause a change, or prevent one?"
"No idea," Lisbet said, frowning. She removed her glasses, tucking them carefully into a fold of her tunic. Without them, she looked strangely vulnerable. Kurt's heart gave an uncomfortable thump, and he looked away. "We don't even know when we are with any precision. It would be premature to guess what they intend us to do."
Lucy glared at the rough fabric in her hands. "We could at least have taken some of the bright ones," she grumbled. "Bad enough that we have to cover ourselves in these smelly things. I could have gotten some of the nice ones easily." Her hands clenched tightly around the dusty tunic she held, and Kurt could see the slight tremble in her fingers that belied the calm image she tried to project.
"Nope," Lisbet said briskly. "We're so far from historically accurate already that it's not even amusing. Our hair, speech, demeanor, everything – we pretty clearly don't belong here. The last thing we need is bright colors and ornate designs which will draw attention." She gestured vaguely at the off-white tunics and headcoverings they had obtained. "These will help."
"I have been a stranger in a strange land," Theo murmured, draping a headcovering over his bright hair.
"You're strange, all right," Lisbet told him gently, twitching his tunic into place so that it covered his modern clothing more securely. "Lucy, Theo, you two absolutely have to keep your heads covered. Dark hair is pretty much universal here. Kurt, you and I are slightly better off, although the styles are all wrong. Don't make eye contact, don't speak to anyone."
"So," Kurt said thoughtfully, "I suppose we need to go back to basics. Establish spatial and temporal location on arrival, right?" He gave Lisbet a weak grin, remembering how she had drilled procedure into his head when he first became an Observer. "So we know we're in Babylon, and now we need to figure out when we are."
"That's why we have to go out into the city," Lucy said with a clear flash of understanding, nodding. "We'll never figure it out just by staying here safely." She draped her headcovering carefully over her bright hair.
Lisbet stopped them all at the mouth of the alley, looking them over carefully. Kurt admitted to himself that they were a rather ragged looking lot, and he had little hope that they would be able to pass for native Babylonians if they were carefully inspected, let alone if someone tried to speak to them. He gave a little shudder at the thought.
"We'll have to do," Lisbet muttered, her hand going up to shove at her missing glasses. "Thank heavens it's nearly dark now." She led the way out, adopting a tired, slumped posture which served to knock a few inches off her height. Kurt and the others copied the pose, realizing it was the best way to avoid attention for their unusual height.
They kept to the shadows where they could, making their way carefully down toward the closest edge of what Lisbet said was the city wall. Kurt shadowed Lisbet, with Lucy creeping along at his elbow; Theo brought up the rear, watching their surroundings with shadowed eyes. Stifling a dry cough, Kurt spared a moment to hope that they would find water soon, as the dust and heat of the day had left him uncomfortably thirsty.
"They've been fighting," Theo murmured, loudly enough for their party to hear. He gestured at a small pile of debris they had just passed. "Shattered spears, broken slings, bloody armor."
Lucy veered away from Kurt long enough to look more closely at the debris, and shuddered as she took in the bloody evidence of death. "That's horrible," she said softly. "I never thought. Everyone who died in the past – they were just dead, you know? But there were people here, and they died awfully."
"There are few die well that die in a battle," Theo said somberly. He put a gentle hand on her elbow and moved her along. Kurt took her arm again, feeling improbably comforted by her proximity.
"A war, then," Lisbet mused. "And they're clearly using iron. That narrows it down a bit."
They reached an open courtyard, and kept close to the wall, looking in quiet curiosity at the knot of locals clustered around the well. They were speaking quietly, but Kurt realized with a sharp shock that he could understand every word they said.
"Why does he wait?" one woman whispered, face pinched with worry. "The gates stand open and the king has fled. Will his army leave us in peace forever?"
"We have offered tribute to the king of the world," an old man said wearily. "The watchmen say that he has ordered his men not to enter our homes."
"They're speaking English!" Lucy hissed, looking delighted.
"No," Kurt said slowly. "They're not. Listen You can hear their words – they aren't English. We're just understanding them, somehow." His hand drifted up to the back of his head, where the lingering pain reminded him of the implant the Controllers had placed there. "It must be related to the implants."
Theo was frowning at the little group of people. "The king of the world," he repeated thoughtfully. "I know I've read that before. It's an honorific, but I can't remember whose."
"Cyrus the Great, maybe," Lisbet mused, squinting at their surroundings. "Although the technology looks a little advanced for that time."
They crept around the knot of people, hugging the wall, and continued through the streets. It was nearly dark, and the shadows were deep, lit here and there by smoky fires. They followed the line of the wide street, making their way toward the large gate at the edge of the city. It stood high above them, bulky and imposing, lit by fires along the top which were kept by the watchmen. The light of the full moon shone on the gate, on shining blue stone and golden figures of dragons and aurochs. The doors themselves were wood, and stood open, facing onto the plain to the north of the city.
"The Ishtar Gate," Lisbet told them quietly. "It's complete, and not recently. So not Cyrus, then."
Kurt wracked his brain for any memories of history courses on Babylon, but nothing was coming up. He had a vague impression that they might have talked about it briefly before getting to Roman history, but that had been that week when he could not get his acne under control, and his mind had been elsewhere. Now he was standing in the middle of history, faced with what he was pretty sure was one of the Wonders of the World, and he couldn't help but think that he should have paid a little more attention in class.
"If not Cyrus, then-" Theo began, and then stopped cold as heavy hands landed on his shoulders. Kurt jumped as he was grabbed as well, and Lucy gave a little shriek of surprise. Two men stood directly behind them, clothed in what looked like linen-based armor. They were both armed with swords, and wore bronze helmets which gleamed dully in the moonlight. The soldiers had come up on them silently, thick leather sandals hushed by the dust of the streets.
"Why do you stand so near the gate?" The soldier's voice was deep and rough, and under the translation his brain supplied, Kurt could hear that his words weren't the same as the local Babylonians had been speaking. This must be one of the soldiers of the conquering army, whoever they might be.
"We are loyal subjects of the king," Lisbet said firmly, though she kept her head down, not meeting the soldier's eyes. "We have information for him." Kurt swallowed, hoping that his mind wasn't playing tricks on him – because it sounded like she was speaking Greek, or whatever language the soldier had addressed them in. If she was really speaking English, he knew they were in trouble.
"Silence, woman," the other soldier said severely. "We will speak to your sons." Kurt heard Lucy suck in an indignant breath at that, and elbowed her as gently as he could. The soldiers leaned in to look at them more closely. "You are not of this city," the second soldier accused. "Are you spies? Servants of Darius?"
"We answer only to Alexander," Theo said calmly. Kurt gaped at him. His friend rarely sounded so confident, and he was surprised by the answer. Alexander? How did Theo know to use that name?
"The king has no time to speak to peasants," the first soldier spat. "It is punishable by death to spy on the defenses of the army." His hand went to his short sword, and Kurt gulped, pulling Lucy closer.
Theo reached up and pulled the rough covering from his head, revealing his blond hair. "We are not peasants," he said firmly. "We are not of Babylon. We are not to be harmed." The soldiers blinked at one another, and Kurt looked back and forth between his friends, amazed that the tactic seemed to be working. Apparently the note of confidence and command in Theo's voice was enough to convince the soldiers that they should not kill them outright. The first nodded sharply to the second, and they were shoved forward, toward the gate.
"We shall see what the king thinks," the soldier threatened. "He will want to know of strangers in the city, particularly ones so bold. Pray that he finds himself in a merciful mind."
They were marched through the gate, out onto the plain beyond, and the moonlight lit the scene eerily. Kurt looked out on an army of thousands encamped around the city, small fires dotting the landscape of dark shapes. He tried to keep his hand steady on Lucy's arm, but his heart was pounding so hard he was sure she could feel it.
"Yeah, we'll see what the king thinks, alright," she muttered angrily. "Treating us like spies, threatening us, and acting like only you boys are worth talking to." Kurt could feel her trembling, too, although whether from fear of anger he couldn't say. "I think I'll have a thing or two to say to this Alexander, myself."
The soldier behind Kurt drew his sword at that, and his heart leapt into his throat. In an instant, Lisbet was between Lucy and the soldier, head still down, hands extended pleadingly.
"Forgive my daughter," she entreated. "She is young, and overwrought. She speaks when she should be silent."
The soldier grunted and sheathed his sword, shoving them forward again. "You would do well to teach your daughter to know her place."
Lisbet wrapped an arm around Lucy's shoulders, bending her head in close, looking for all the world like a comforting mother. But Kurt could hear her whispering in Lucy's ear, harsh and fearful.
"Lucy Trevelyan, keep your mouth shut! These are soldiers. We are in the middle of awar. Now is not the time to be a good twenty-first century girl, not unless you want to die bloody."
"You can't just be OK with this!" Lucy hissed back, burying her face against Lisbet's shoulder. "To be treated like – like cattle!"
"Look, kid," Lisbet murmured, "you have to give up every idea you have about how things should be. None of it applies here. You can't try to judge this culture by our ideals – it's pointless and stupid. This is where we are, and fighting it will do nothing but get you killed."
They kept silent as they were marched through the camp. The weight in the pit of his stomach grew heavier as they were increasingly surrounded by heavily armed and hostile soldiers. The soldiers shoved them forward toward the center of the camp, where Kurt could see a large, ornate tent commanding the highest point in the camp. One of their accompanying soldiers stepped away, speaking to the guards in front of the entrance in a hushed voice, and the guard ducked into the tent. He returned a moment later and looked at them sternly.
"You will enter," he told them coldly. "Do not speak until bidden. Do not look upon him unless told to do so."
"Wait," Kurt asked frantically, turning to Lisbet in confusion. His mind refused to work, reeling after one too many surprises. "Who?"
"Alexander of Macedon," she said calmly, as if she routinely met leaders of the ancient world.
Theo grinned, wild and bright with excitement and fear, and gestured around them at their surroundings – the army, the tents, Babylon in defeat. "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair." And they entered the tent of Alexander the GreatFour hours, nine minutes, and fifty-seven seconds.
That's how long he had waited at the restaurant, only for Kurt not to show.
Blaine leaned back in his chair, fuming inwardly. He had emptied the basket of free Italian bread. He had eaten the mozzarella sticks. He had ordered his favorite crab pasta. He had sat around drinking Sprite until he finally ordered Kurt's favorite chocolate lava cake out of spite (and took an even more spiteful picture of the half-eaten cake to post to Facebook). And now, his belt was digging into his navel, his wallet had taken a decently-sized hit, and he had never felt this upset at Kurt in his life.
He didn't know whether to be angry or concerned. Angry, because Kurt had planned this date and then completely ditched him. Concerned, because Kurt hadn't responded to a single text message. Neither had Theo. And when he called the house, Finn told him Kurt had left with Lucy a few hours ago and was probably still out with her.
And Lucy wasn't answering either.
"We've closed," the waitress said, a little less irritable than earlier. "You ready for me to take your bill?"
He nodded, handing over the receipt and his credit card without a word. "Date stood you up, huh?" she said.
He nodded again, staring down at the table. The waitress patted his shoulder in a small gesture of sympathy and headed over to ring up his card. Blaine dropped his head in his hands.
He didn't know what to do. He didn't know what to think. It just didn't make sense. Why would Kurt just…just vanish on him like this? Why would Kurt allow a silly argument to blow out of proportion?
He had just reached the pinnacle of moping, already planning to change into his comfiest pajamas and hide under the covers until things were okay again, when the waitress came back with a strange look on her face.
"You're Blaine Anderson?" she said, holding up his card and receipt.
"That's me," he said.
She handed him the card, then placed a flat rectangular package on the table. "This is yours, then," she said.
Blaine stared at it. "But who-"
A man in a suit walked past. "Young man, we're closed," he said briskly. "We'll open tomorrow at twelve."
The waitress disappeared. Blaine gathered up his things, stuffing the receipt and card in his back pocket, and tucked the mysterious package under his arm.
He dashed through the light summer rain to his car, slamming the door behind him. With a quick jab he flicked the overhead light on and examined it thoroughly. It was plain and nondescript, creased brown paper held together with rumpled clear packing tape.
He picked at the tape carefully, prying it away. The paper slid away, revealing a slim glass panel with beveled black edges. His thumb brushed against the surface and it crackled lightly, as if it was trying to turn on but couldn't quite manage it.
"What on earth is this?" he murmured. He turned it over in his hands, looking for a sign or a clue or something, but he didn't see anything. Not a charging port, not a headphone jack, not a USB drive- nothing. Not even a power button.
He turned it over and over, not even sure what he was looking for, but his stomach twisted in panic. This wasn't good. This couldn't be good at all.
The brown paper slid off his knees and a small scrap of white paper fluttered out. He twisted around in the driver's seat to pick it up and squinted to read the spiky writing.
I'm on my way. Use this.
OH MY LORD, THINGS ARE HAPPENING. STUFF'S GOING DOWN. WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.
Okay, not really, but ClioNav really tried to stop us from putting this out. But we shall not be silenced! We shall tell you the full story!
And yeah. Stuff's about to happen. Kurt's getting dragged before Alexander the Great...Blaine has to tell Burt Hummel that his baby managed to get kidnapped by time-traveling maniacs. Again.
Stay tuned! Wear your silver!
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