A/N: For World Diabetes Day.
This follows Control and The Unseen Made Visible. I'd recommend reading them for full context, but if you don't want to, Sebastian is diabetic and struggles not only with the disease but how to present it to other people.
He looks around the park full of people in t-shirts and back at the crowd of boys behind him. Nick is slowly working through a package of sugar-free sandwich cookies. Trent is drawing a big blue circle on Jeff's cheek. Jeff is watching nervously as Jon disentangles a green balloon. Blaine, looking thinner and more tired than usual leans against Luc. The balloons aren't supposed to be for anyone over ten, but it's hard to disagree that the Warblers are children.
David is there with a plastic container of cinnamon rolls and mutter about how this had better be over before the game starts at six. If he was a fan before he left for South Bend, he is now a full-fledged inductee into the cult of Manti Te'o.
As they line up behind the ribbon, wearing jeans and t-shirts and converse sneakers, he wonders how the hell anyone got the Warblers out of bed before noon on a Saturday, let alone convinced them to wear such casual clothes. Of course, Nick has a hat perched jauntily on his head and Trent has paired the royal blue t-shirt with a vest. Thad looks good in oversized plastic wayfarers (blue sides, of course). He's gotten a little scruffy around the edges, but he can pull it off.
Across the crowd, he sees Lesha's mom and sister wave. He thinks about fighting his way over to say hi, but he doesn't want to get lost in the crowd. He and Thad can go over later, when Thad isn't quite so hyped up on energy drinks and won't say anything stupid to his girlfriend's mother.
Another pair catches his eye. An impeccably groomed Asian boy and a beautiful mostly-blonde are picking their way through the crowd. They wear t-shirts like the rest of the Warblers that read, "KEEP CALM AND BOLUS ON" under an insulin pump.
He wants to run over to his friends, to pick up Quinn and twirl her around. He settles for walking over sedately and giving her a strong hug. He shakes hands with Wes.
"I didn't know you were coming," He says. He can't suppress the genuine smile on his face.
"You didn't know you were coming, mate." Jeff says, joining the trio and embracing the newcomers. He laughs and agrees. He didn't know his friends were planning this. He didn't know they cared so much.
It was Jeff's idea.
He and Nick had been at the Kroger, picking up marshmallows, popcorn, pop rocks, mentos and diet coke, pudding and balloons for a harmless night of fun with the new freshman. They weren't going to hurt the boys, just welcome them to the family.
As they were checking out, Jeff noticed the sale of paper shoes. It hadn't taken him long to find the light blue tri-fold brochure featuring a picture of Nick Jonas and the pledge form. Back at Dalton, it had taken Trent less time to find the correct website and register the Dalton Academy Warblers as a family team than it had for him to break the rector's old toaster, and that had been a record three minutes.
They'd done it all in secret.
When Sebastian was at his doctor's appointment, Jeff told the other Warblers about his plan. It hadn't been hard to convince them. The Warblers were mostly philanthropic by nature, and those who weren't were relatively competitive. Besides, any excuse to get out of Dalton was an excuse to escape the faculty and staff's attempts to enforce a school-wide ban on the misuse of furniture. Apparently, this included jumping, back-springing off of, and dancing with anything owned by the school.
The boys at Dalton were good fundraisers. They wrote letters to parents and friends asking for donations. They bribed roommates with chores. They gave a special (Sebastian-less) concert at the mall looking for donations. (They gave The GAP wide berth). They talked about selling cupcakes, but there was some disagreement about whether or not it was appropriate to sell sweets to raise money for diabetes. Nick rolled his eyes and pointed out the more obvious problem: without David, he wasn't sure any of the Warblers could bake.
The day is sunny and bright. The Warblers hit the path like puppies: full of boundless energy. Jeff tries to organize the Warblers into singing as they walk, but somehow no one can agree on a song or a soloist. That doesn't last long, and a mile in, Jeff and Nick are flitting around each other as they sing A Whole New World, backed up with four-part harmony.
He walks with Quinn and Wes for a while. They joke about the rivalry between their schools, about classes, about the hurricane, about the drive down, and about him. They argue about whether or not lamb and rice is dog food. (Wes says yes, Quinn says no. But, Wes is eating.) It's a comfortable banter, and an argument that's be going on since Wes picked up Quinn in New Haven, maybe longer. He's comfortable with the two of them.
He listens to Blaine tell Nick and David about his break up with Kurt. The former lead is a shadow of the person he was last year. All the fire is gone. He wonders how Blaine makes it through the day. He wants to punch Kurt for hurting Blaine. Because Blaine is his friend? He's not sure if showing up for something like this makes them friends, not after everything that's happened. But, it's sure as hell a step in the right direction.
The group returns to park where the event began. The group streams back under the balloon arch. The Warbler join the milling group. Quinn drags Wes to get his face painted. Thad and most of the boys join a line waiting for food.
He goes over to a small tent of vendors. There was a time not long ago when he would have been shy about looking over their supplies. Somehow, though, he's comfortable enough with most of the Warblers not to hide this.
He's talking with a vendor about pumps when the PA system crackles to life. An older woman with black hair takes the stage and starts announcing preliminary results, congratulating corporate teams on their contributions.
He thanks the rep and slides out of the tent, towards his classmates. Jeff and Trent are eating chicken sandwiches. Thad passes him a Gatorade. Wes is covered in blue and white face paint. Quinn has an uncharacteristic amount of maroon on her cheeks.
None of it matters, though, when the lady on stage congratulates the Dalton Academy Warblers on being the third highest grossing family team. He doesn't know how it happened. He doesn't know how the Warblers did it. He doesn't know why they would raise so much money for a cause that was important to him, but probably not the rest of them.
He lets Jeff hug him, because Jeff can't help but hug everyone. Nick, too. Then Trent and Thad and David. Blaine comes over, and somehow, they hug as well. And suddenly, it's a pile of Warblers embracing each other. He doesn't understand it, but he goes along with it. He guesses that's what brothers do.