There was a sickening crash and debris flew. The barricade fell apart. And in the tunnel of flames, Wes appeared at the other side with Dwight and Evan. “Let’s go, come on!” Wes screamed from the other side.
“Move!!” Charlie pushed the others on. “Go! Get out, now!!” He waited for Justin, who lifted up Ms. Blumenfeld again. “Come on!!”
Episode 27 - Blackout (Part 2)
“Han, is this going to work?!” Drew demanded as he, Satoru and Todd now dragged Han’s “idea” up the side of the Art Hall, the side according to Han had the lowest temperature level right now. It took a number of boys to do it, it was a wonder they managed to do so at all without anyone seeing them. Spencer, Merril, Jeff, and Nick were helping them, in spite of all better judgment that this was, in fact, a truly idiotic thing to do. “Because we’ve done really stupid things before and this what we’re doing is some pretty gold standard stupid and coming from me and Satoru—”
“Do you have any other ideas?!” Han snapped back.
“How do we know this thing isn’t going to blow up?” Todd asked mistrustfully as they began to set it up. “How do we know it’ll manage to catch them?!”
Han was running out of patience and the ability to stay calm under pressure. He could hear the attempts of the rest of the school trying to douse a way into the front door—which was where a lot of the fire was gathering. It was going to be if not inefficient, futile.
So he looked to his friends and said, “Look, that thing can be up fast enough, it’s going to be full of air, there’s no other way out and according to all our stupid if-panic-hasn’t-rattled-us calculations, anything from the second floor is within height limit, as well as the fact as this is the side of the building that has the lowest temperature and if we keep it a certain distance, it’s not going to catch fire because it’s upwind. But beyond all that, we have no idea. If you have any other plans short of causing a hurricane to rain here this precise moment, I want to hear it!!”
It was a plan that no one should be attempting at all, but if there was anything Windsor boys loathe it’s the fact that they were told that they cannot do what they wanted to do. And what they wanted to do right now was do was save the ones inside with no way out. As Todd stared at Windsor’s resident “hermit”, Satoru popped up from the other side of the set up.
“You guys going to keep arguing or are we gonna do something?” He leapt back as the object they had managed to drag over began to rapidly gain in size.
Less than six months ago, the twins Evan and Ethan displayed their ability to produce things that no normal human being tended to have around their living area. Todd and his crew had been trying to film a “movie” for a school project and they mentioned wishing they could do crazy stunts.
While Wes had the presence of mind to tell Todd and co. that a filming of Windsor’s daily shenanigans would produce enough crazy stunt footage and explosions to fuel a Michael Bay movie, the Twins had produced something that, to this day, they could not explain why they were in possession of.
But whatever their reasons were, it was Blaine’s memorable action sequence of paintball shooting while falling a storey or so (Kurt nearly getting heart failure when he witnessed it) into this double motor inflatable landing pad that caused Han to remember that they may have a rough chance. Maybe.
Han watched as the stunt air landing pad began to inflate rapidly. His heart was thudding in his chest and he looked up. He grabbed Drew by the arm. “Catch their attention now while it’s inflating. Sound the alarm.”
“You think they’ll hear it?” Drew asked he fumbled with the siren.
“They had just damn well better.”
The air-raid siren filled the air. All of the boys practically covered their ears as soon as Drew began sounding it. “They’re only going to be able to jump one at a time, you know that, right?” Satoru yelled, over the sound.
“That’s why they have to start as soon as it’s ready!!” Han screamed back. “And hope to whoever’s listening up there that they’re only on the second floor!!”
“What are you boys doing?!”
The group of them looked up to see Mr. Harvey and Ms. Medel running up to them, looking aghast and covering their ears at the sound of the siren. Drew and Satoru froze, horrified that they were caught, but Han waved them on to make sure they didn’t stop. Of course they would get caught, there was no way to do this without getting caught—
“What do you boys think you’re doing?!” Harvey roared at them over the sound.
“There’s no way anyone is getting into that building fast enough!” Han yelled back, hands still covering his ears. “They’re going to have to jump!! And we’re going to catch them!!”
“Oh my god…” Medel stared at the set-up as Harvey ran off to a different direction—heading back to the front entrance of the Art Hall. Medel stared and had a thousand concerns that the boys must’ve already realized for themselves and had simply chosen to overlook in favor of action. It couldn’t be safe, but as opposed to burning alive right this moment in the Art Hall, what choice did anyone actually have?
The window in the second floor smashed into a thousand pieces, glass tinkling down from above—a piece of wood was sailing over their heads and vanished into the trees. Everyone looked up as smoke began pouring out as though it too had been searching desperately for an escape.
Han’s heart jumped. They must have heard the siren by now.
“You heard that?!” Kurt gasped after his coughing fit stopped. The second floor was more maze than space by now, with the structure coming apart at the seams. It had gotten so bad, flames everywhere casting a glow as though they were in the heart of a sunset but a hundred times warmer, flanked by trenches of black smoke.
“Yes!” Blaine exclaimed. He pointed down the direction of an exhibit space—the siren noise was coming somewhere past that area. “Windsor’s siren!”
“You have a siren?! You named it?” Justin managed to demand in the state of panic he was in. And considering he’d been dealing with Windsors for four years now, he was mystified that he’d never heard it.
“Rulebook says,” Blaine coughed, “In an extreme moment when no other course of action can be taken—”
“—life or death situation, mainly—” Reed choked.
“—any able Windsor can sound the siren and any Windsor within hearing distance must drop absolutely everything to go to it,” Charlie finished, already half dragging the others to that direction.
“You have a rule book?! With that kind of rule?!” Justin was aghast.
“Oh please, we know Hanover and Stuart have their own books and that they’ve been around for twenty-five years same as ours—”
“You’re not supposed to know about that!” Logan burst out, possibly more because panic was getting the better of him. He kept looking back up to the direction of the staircase.
“Can everyone shut up, stop standing around, and just head for the siren?!” Kurt finally screamed, tugging Micah along—he was the one holding Reed protectively now.
The problem, Kurt decided, was that they were clearly losing their sense of sanity when the odds where overwhelmingly against their favor, and were grasping onto what few realities they could still accept. And they were not the kind of realities that Kurt believed constituted responsible thinking at this moment.
“Come on, hurry!” Evan panted as he urged the others to go on. His brother reached him and effectively stalled there, refusing to go anywhere without him. Evan hauled him along with him. The group headed en masse towards the direction of the siren, the labyrinth of mess all around them, with Wes and the two prefects leading the pack. They couldn’t crowd in the paths even if they wanted to—so much was falling from above that they had to choose when they ran forward or else be caught by something flaming that was falling.
Wes and the prefects moved ahead of the pack. Others straggled. But they all headed directly for the sound. It was definitely coming from the side of the walls that they were now facing, past the sealed windows.
“We have to get this open!” Wes looked around for something to smash the windows with. There had to be something—
A piece of smoking wood literally went flying just inches from him and it smashed through the window with all the force of the most desperate home run in a World Series championship. Except that piece of wood had been kicked.
Kurt Hummel stood panting as his stunned boyfriend stared at him. Of course his foot hurt and he had to have destroyed his patent leathers but that was beyond the point when the windows were open and redemption had to be imminent. There had been an effective piece of debris lying conveniently in front of him, and he had kicked it into the window with all the force of his days as a kicker gave him, and that was that.
Charlie kicked the rest of the now weakened glass to widen the awning that Kurt’s assault had impacted upon it. Below, he saw the set-up:
A small smattering of boys was staring up at him, and the incredible inflatable landing pad that the Twins had smuggled away onto campus was filling with air very quickly. Han was leaping up and down, screaming something unintelligible through the sound of the siren. But it was obvious what he wanted him to do. “Oh my god, this has got be the gold, silver, and bronze in the idiotic stunt Olympics,” Charlie muttered.
“Well?” Justin demanded from next to him. “What are you waiting for, Charlie? Choosing between jackknife or swan?! Here, take her—” he promptly moved Ms. Blumenfeld into Charlie’s arms, and he turned back to the blaze for the others.
“What the hell are you waiting for, Justin?!” Charlie demanded, clutching onto their teacher. “Come on!!”
“We still have time!!” Justin shouted back as he gestured to the others that it was safe for move forward, eyes still glancing upward, careful for any debris.
“Okay, go!” Dwight yelled, gesturing for the others to hurry. Wes looked out the window and saw the landing pad starting to fill to its optimum efficiency. “Oh damn, we can only go one at a time—!”
“Charlie, you first! You’ve got Ms. Blumenfeld!” Justin called down.
“What?!” Charlie looked down out the window. Could it even take two people at one go? Can it even do that?
“Charlie, what are you waiting for?!” Justin demanded. “No one else is jumping out until you manage to!!”
Charlie had to take point for the rest of them and that would’ve been so much easier if he didn’t have to care about a) the landing pad catching them, or b) the fact that first to jump meant first to get out while everyone else was still inside. Danger or not, Charlie was still the damned Windsor prefect and his priority was the younger ones’ safety.
The siren died. Below, Spencer howled, “Come on!!”
“The landing pad’s up!!” Han’s voice broke—he was no accustomed to raising his voice louder than what was needed to curse at a WoW guild-member. “Jump, Charlie, damn it!”
The Windsor Prefect took one more look at his best friend and then at the boys he was supposed to be protecting. He could feel Kurt’s overwhelming desire to kick something at him in order to make him jump.
Charlie looked down at the landing pad, clutched his teacher close—and leaped.
The boys scattered as with a loud slap, Charlie and Ms. Blumenfeld hit the landing pad. Han was in a state of panic. They didn’t know what would happen if two people jumped at one go, if the pad was damaged, then no one else would get down—
“Charlie!!” Ms. Medel desperately tried to grab the senior from the landing pad, fighting through the puffed waves of material. “Lily!!” she managed to reach her colleague first as Charlie struggled to get out of the pad.
“Are you okay?!” Drew gasped as he tried to help him. Charlie was a horrendous mess—soot, glass cuts, blood and he looked positively furious. That twist in his expression was either pain or panic, but what was important was that he was alive. He looked up overhead at the window. There was no sign of anyone else.
“Where are the others?” Spencer, who helped Medel with Ms. Blumenfeld, asked in alarm.
“Still up there—”Charlie fell into the ground in a disgraceful flop and the boys scrambled to help him. He shrugged them all off except Merril, who refused to be deterred, and he managed to get to his feet.
“Charlie, we have to get you out of here—!”
“I’m not going anywhere until the boys are out of there—!”
Shane came racing in from the darkness, David hard at his heels. “Where are they?! Where’s my brother?!” Shane was talking a mile a minute and David tried to stop him from panicking.
There was a crash from overhead. People from below gasped as blast of ash and smoke blew out of the window. Something big must have fallen.
Charlie, still weak, raised his eyes up above. “Han…is that pad going to hold?”
“I hope to God it does,” Han breathed.
A figure appeared in the window. It was Justin, clutching onto the edge of the pane.
That crash had been the result of the ceiling massively caving in. There was almost no time left. What was previously a clear path was now littered once again by flames. The boys had been scattered as they tried to protect themselves and each other from the flames. In all honesty, by the way everything was falling, Kurt was half-horrified that at some point, Julian was going to come falling from above.
Justin was the one to make it to the window. “He made it!” he panted to the others. “And the landing mat is still holding!”
The Twins exhaled from where they were still climbing over fallen beams, helping others through. There was barely any time to talk now, so much was falling from above and they were afraid that the entire structure would just ultimately come down to rubble.
“Hurry!” Wes panted as he helped Blaine get past one of the piles. “Come on!” he added when Blaine refused to move until Wes helped him pull Kurt over the same obstacle course of soot and flame and debris.
Blaine ignored him completely, holding securely onto Kurt’s hands as he helped him over. The Twins now helped haul Reed with him. Coughing as he looked up, Kurt realized that he could hear a sound in the distance that wasn’t the same siren he’d heard before. It definitely had to be the siren of the firefighters on the approach. They were almost there—almost out.
Kurt dropped down and saw Blaine and the Twins heading momentarily over to where Dwight was sprawled on the ground. “Dwight? Dwight!” he hurried to them—Blaine tried to push him to the direction of the window as though to tell him that he would deal with this and that Kurt should get to safety, but Kurt pushed his arm away.
“Dwight? Dwight, can you hear us?”
“Dwight, you have to get up, please—” Blaine looked at the Twins. “He hasn’t moved?”
Kurt put a hand on Dwight’s back, half afraid he was injured somewhere. “Dwight?”
Dwight could hear them well enough, through the fog and the smoke in his mind. It was just that he was incapable of getting up. His body hurt everywhere—too much to somehow manage get up. And after everything he’d done today, he wondered if he even should. He couldn’t bring himself to care.
“Dwight…?” he vaguely heard Kurt say.
He just wanted to sleep…
“Dwight…?” said someone else. That small one—that small voice again. Inwardly, Dwight smiled at the sound, wondering how it even got here.
…where was here?
Without warning, he felt it—many hands grabbing onto him, as though pulling him up from very thick liquid, like tar. Dwight took a deep breath and coughed. He felt a hand on his cheek—it smelled like ash and moisturizer. “…Kurt?”
“You’re okay, come on…” Kurt said, helping him lift himself up. “Come on, we’re almost there, I swear—”
“Sorry—“ Dwight gasped for breath as his surroundings returned to full clarity. His momentary lapse had cost him and his friends vital moments. Unacceptable. He urged Kurt back to Blaine, feeling adrenaline start pumping through his veins again. This place was hell on earth. “Go—go now, quick—!”
“Come on, let’s go!” Wes was bellowing, urging them on. “Hurry before it all goes down!”
“What are you waiting for?!” they could hear people screaming from outside, desperation rising to the peak.
“Okay let’s go, come on!” Blaine began to pull Kurt along once more as Ethan began to grab for his brother, Micah reaching for Reed.
That was when the ceiling crashed almost entirely over their heads. Hands grabbed as feet lost foothold in an instinctive jump—Logan grabbed Blaine and the two of them hit the floor just as they heard Ethan scream, having been shoved back by Evan. Weakened by the first crash, the second fall left nearly nothing of this side of the second floor ceiling. The boys vanished in the dust and smoke clouds, but it was screaming that filled the air—
“Kurt!” Blaine was screaming. “Kurt, where are you?!”
“Over here!!” Kurt immediately tried to scramble to his feet, hands feeling scorched as Dwight pulled him and Reed up with Micah’s help. “Blaine—are you—?!”
“Stay back!” Dwight called out over the noise, pulling Kurt backward from the massive tangle that now separated him from Blaine, with more debris adding to the pile overhead. The trickle of falling fragments was almost steady now. Kurt, Dwight, Reed, Micah and one twin were at one side, all the others, Blaine, Logan, Wes, the other twin and Justin, were almost to the window.
Kurt coughed through the dust. “Blaine—you can make it, jump out of that window now!”
“Have you lost your mind?! I’m not just leaving—”
“Get out, Ethan, go!!” the twin on the other side commanded with anguish. “Just go!!”
Blaine felt the tug of Justin’s hand on his elbow and it drove him mad. He jerked away as though it burned him. “I’m not leaving here without Kurt!!” He ran forward to the mess with Logan—“Blaine!! You can’t do this—!” Wes screamed, “Blaine!! Come back!!”—the two of them trying to tear the debris out of the way with their bare hands—to no avail. This had too much weight, and not even they could get through it. It was very quickly getting engulfed in flames.
“We have to get through—” Dwight panted, eyes scanning every inch of the pile. “We have to get through—!” He leapt forward.
“What are you doing?!” Kurt demanded as he clutched onto Reed.
Dwight took a large beam into his hands and with all the last of his newfound strength through adrenaline—he felt nothing anymore, it didn’t weigh like anything and he could barely feel the heat—began to hoist it up. “The rest of you, jump!” he screamed. “Jump out the window now!!”
“Blaine, if you don’t jump out that window, I’m going to throw you out there!” Justin threatened.
“Not without Kurt!!” Blaine shot back. He could see the pile crumbling—someone was moving things from the other side. “What’s going on?!”
Justin turned his attention to Logan, “Logan, get out of here now!”
“But—” his eyes flickered to the ceiling first, to the third floor—Save Kurt and the others!—and then back at Justin, “—but what about—!”
“Logan—just go!” Justin screamed. “Tell the firefighters where everyone else is, go on!! Go!!”
“Logan, I’m going to shove you out that window—!” Wes was dragging the Stuart prefect off to the direction of the window.
“Wait—!” Logan’s hand caught onto Blaine’s and he pulled him with him in spite of the shorter boy’s furious protests, still calling out to Kurt.
“Come on, what’s the matter?! Jump, for godssakes!” Han screamed from down below. The pad had already recovered and was waiting for the next jumpers.
Blaine came flying from the window—he had to have been forced to jump, he would never have left Kurt on his own—and he crashed into the mat with a powerful flop. The boys scrambled immediately to get him off it. “Blaine!! Blaine, oh my god—” Han pulled his friend off it. Blaine was covered in soot and had a cut on his temple, battered and bruised.
“Blaine!!” Shane ran to him the moment the boys pulled the older Anderson off the landing mat—he grabbed his brother into a hug and burst into tears. “Oh god, oh god—I thought you were—!”
Blaine held onto his brother, shaking. “Shane…” he exhaled, holding his brother as thought trying to remember this was real, and that he made it out—and then he looked up to the window again. “The others—!”
A blond boy flew off the window next and landed with a slightly less awkward thump into the mat. “Logan!” came the chorus of the other boys who started pulling him off it just as more and more students and teachers began to run towards their direction.
“Logan—!” Spencer and Merril hauled the prefect off the mat, as quickly and as carefully as they could. Logan managed to get his feet onto the ground, but he nearly fell over the next instant. He clutched onto Spencer, “Where are—”
“Logan!” from the ranks of the boys, everyone looked up to see Derek tearing past them. A lot of the other Stuarts looked worried—he still had a bandage around his head—but he stumbled to his friend desperately. “Logan! Are you all right?! Where’s Julian?!”
Logan clutched onto his friends shoulder, eyes wild with fear, “He’s still—I tried—I—”
Another blond boy came flying out the window screaming and landed onto the pad with a heavy thump. Audrey Brightman broke through the boys and tried to help her brother up. Unlike many of the other parents and guardians who thought that the siren was one of the ways the emergency was being broadcast, Audrey (who could not hear this siren) then saw that a lot of the boys running away were Windsors, just like her brothers.
She had followed them. She now grabbed onto the battered twin that had just gotten away from the mat and stared at him in the eyes.
“Audee!” Ethan was crying so hard that he could barely see and he clutched at her as though he were a man drowning. “Audee—Evan—Evan’s still—Audee we have to help him, please!” He was shaking so violently that he could barely sign the words right to her. Audrey grabbed his hands to stop him and tugged him close to her, not knowing what to do as Ethan continued to scream into her chest.
There was another outcry as another body slammed into the mat. David immediately tore forward as Wes coughed into the mat, struggling to free himself. “Wes!” David put both arms around him and pulled him out of the pad, already nearly to tears. “You idiot—you stupid—you—I can’t believe—are you out of your mind?” he finally exploded in a fit of relief as he looked from him to Blaine, and then back up at the window.
“Where’s Justin?” Charlie demanded. “And the others?”
“Still—” Wes coughed, gesturing up to the window.
When Kurt heard Wes all but nearly push Blaine out the window, he thought he’d cry in relief and fright and everything that came with the knowledge that the boy he loved was safe while he himself was still in this bonfire. He wondered if that had been what it was like for Julian, who watched Logan go, and Evan, who could not repress a sob when Ethan was forced to jump. The flames encroached on them, and Micah clutched onto Reed, the two of them terrified as they looked around.
Dwight absolutely refused to give in. Kurt saw Evan move to help him now, the two of them pouring their strength onto the beam Dwight was forcing upward. Kurt tore away from Micah and Reed and grabbed onto the beam, helping them pull it up.
“There has to be a way to get to you—!” Justin coughed from the other side.
“I’ve got this!” Dwight yelled. “Get out, Justin!”
“What are you doing?!”
“If I—if we get this beam up—the others can crawl through the space and you can grab them!” Dwight yelled.
Kurt looked down at where Dwight meant. He was right. If they could lift it, there was a small space that they could get through. It was brilliant. He pushed the beam up higher with this knowledge. He could feel Micah and Reed getting up to try and do the same, but Dwight kicked Kurt in the shins suddenly.
“Quit it!” Dwight panted. “Let go! You go in first!”
“What?” Kurt gaped at him.
There was a cry of effort from the boys as the beam gave way. “Get it up to that wood sticking out like a ledge—!” Evan panted.
There was a noise of assent as they moved to do so, pulling it up to that ledge. As soon as the beam rested and they tried to let go, it threatened to topple everything over—“Whoa—!” Justin called out. “Stop! Stop, or it’ll all fall on you!”
“We can tell!” Evan yelled back. The wood took some of the weight, but it still needed to be held up. Everything was crumbling haphazardly. “That’s it—go on! Alice, get the Dormouse and go!”
Kurt nodded shakily and also pulled onto Micah. “Wait—!” Reed cried.
“There is no time left!” Dwight screamed, knowing it was truer than anyone knew. He gave the beam everything he had to hold it up. Embers rained down, clothes were going to catch fire. “Evan! Go with them, I can hold this myself!”
“Yes I can!” Dwight yelled with the effort. “For heavenssakes go!”
“Dwight!” Reed screamed even as Micah and Kurt pulled him through the crawl space. “No! Dwight!”
““Just go—go now—go!!” Dwight cried in alarm as everything began to collapse and fall, with him still holding the beam up. Even if he tried, he’d never make it now as the last to go. “Evan, you can make it!!”
Evan forcibly shot himself through the crawl space as the entire pile collapsed with a roar that sent fire roaring everywhere and everything on the other side of the hall was now gone from vision.
“Dwight!!” Kurt screamed in horror. He was gone! He heard him scream when it fell—
“Jump!!” Justin yelled as he just barely managed to get Reed and Micah out. Evan stared in terror at the flames where they had last seen their friend and Justin had to pull him back. Kurt felt hot tears stinging his eyes and he wanted to fight back when Justin grabbed the back of his shirt but he was too weak to even fight that.
Bodies landed one after another outside, everyone watching as boys began jumping from the window. There was uproar as Windsor extracted Reed from the mat, all of them carefully handing him out when they saw that he was injured.
The mat barely had time to recover when Micah slammed in next, scrambling off it after. Shane tore towards them both, grabbing onto Reed first and holding him tight, crying too hard to speak and he tugged Micah down with him, clutching onto his sleeve.
Blaine looked at them and stared up at the window desperately. Logan stood next to him, staring at that gaping hole in the glass. Who knew what went through his mind then, but Blaine only had one thought: Please, God, please…Please, come on, I’m begging you, don’t take him from me, please, please—
A lithe body jumped and his heart leapt the same height. Blaine was racing at the mat almost before the jumper even hit it.
Kurt felt him—he heard Blaine and he felt his hands on him—and the first thing he did was clutch onto his strong arms and let him pull him off the pad. They hit the grassy ground and they clutched to each other tightly, weeping beyond their control. Logan reached them and stopped, staring. And then he looked up to the glass again.
“You’re…oh God…” Blaine closed his eyes, tears running down his face as he held Kurt tightly. “I thought—I—”
Kurt just shook his head, rendered speechless by the entire ordeal which wasn’t even finished yet. He clutched tightly onto him, sobbing in silence and just holding him. He was safe. It was safe, he was outside and he was safe and there was no fire here—just Blaine holding tightly onto him with no intention of letting go.
He swallowed and barely had the strength to turn around and look up to see a blond boy hit the mat. Ethan tore away from his sister and scrambled to his twin, pulling him out the landing pad. “Evan—Evan!” he was holding him tightly, sobbing.
The older-by-two-minutes twin only clasped at his brother who was already practically hysterical. And just as Audrey Brightman ran up to them, the landing bad barely recovering from Evan’s last landing—Justin hit the pad.
Charlie pulled the Hanover prefect out of the pad quickly—Justin looked shaken. He was trembling slightly even as he held Charlie’s arms. “Send people in—hurry! Houston—he’s in there and he—”
“Julian!” Kurt heard Logan cry out from next to him and Blaine. It didn’t even sound as though he really expect an answer. It was the yell of someone who just tried because there was nothing else he could do.
“Please, please someone—you have to help Dwight, he’s still in there!” Reed wept from where was with Shane.
“Come on, Dwight,” Charlie hissed as he looked desperately up at the glass.
Kurt pulled Blaine to his feet and the two of them clutched each other close as they too stared at the glass window begging for a figure to appear there. Already Kurt was sure that the paramedics and firefighters were there. They would be trying to put out the front. In minutes, they would go around the building and they’d find them all like this, in this crazy attempt to escape.
“Come on, Dwight, please…” Kurt whispered under his breath.
Dwight stumbled backwards when the entire thing collapsed. He stumbled backwards and tripped and fell to the ground. He could feel rubble raining on his face, and dust all around. The smoke thickened. His strength gave out.
In this dizzy fog, he heard his friends still—they were jumping out the window now, successfully escaped. He couldn’t open his eyes fully to see, and even then, he was sure he wasn’t going to see anything.
What was it that movie said?
Keep knocking on the devil’s door long enough, and sooner or later, someone’s going to answer you. Dwight closed his eyes. All the things he had been doing, feigning being some kind of hero…they were paltry things compared to what he saw before him the moment he saw his friends were in actual danger.
Being a hero in this mess was tiring, exhausting, overall a test of suffering to protect someone else while you put yourself in harm’s way. But he’d thrown everything he had into it, because no one was dying on his watch again. Not now, not ever. And now, his friends were safe. It was over. It was all over.
Everything hurt. He was so tired. The place past consciousness seemed to comfortingly cool against the blaze he was in.
Thank God. It was all over.
Dwight…? He knew that voice. Inwardly, he smiled again.
“…Alan…” he whispered.
It was all over.
A strong hand clamped like a vise onto his arm. A fire blanket was thrown over him, and the pinpricks of the embers stopped. He was hoisted up. “Look at me, Dwight! Open your eyes!”
Startled, Dwight opened his eyes. His vision cleared and the sound returned to his ears. “What…who…”
“You’ll be all right, just follow me!” Mr. Harvey said, keeping Dwight with him under the blanket, the blanket now mostly on the student.
After he had left Sylvia with the boys of Windsor, he knew that the situation was even more dire than he had initially thought. He didn’t doubt that the landing pad would work. It looked like it would definitely work. But what mattered was that the boys made it through the floors and out that specific area for the whole plan to work. There was a chance that some of them would not make it out, simply because they didn’t or could not take that route. With everything falling apart, it was possible.
It took him less than a second of standing in the front of the hall with the parents and the students for him to realize that those boys—his boys—were in there. And that there shouldn’t be any reason to even hesitate.
A fire extinguisher, a fire blanket…
He took those things, broke through the ranks, and furiously fought his way in. He couldn’t even remember how he managed it—he had felt the skin on his arms burn, and the heat could kill a man lesser armed. But for him, there was just no other option.
Kurt, the boy who changed everything. Blaine, the one who had held them together. Logan, the one who he himself had tried to pull from the brink. And the others, even the ones who were not Warblers. They were his students, all taken under his wing at some point. They all were bright, and full of life. They had everything left before them. They were his students, sons, and brothers.
He had been a Windsor once, Mr. Harvey. He was Greg of Windsor House once. He knew what it was like to hold on to a group of boys to call family. He didn’t doubt the motivation that compelled all those boys who had run into the building. They were in there to protect their own.
And he went in to protect the same thing.
He was right. One was left behind. He found Dwight.
There was no way out left—the boys had been very lucky to have made it out at all. Greg looked around and tried to find another path, however small the chance could be. The last of the fire extinguisher he’d sparingly used was already being used now as he tried to find a way for him and Dwight to get out. Dwight was in a terrible state—he was weak and he could barely keep standing. He helped him move through the labyrinth. They had to get to the window.
Finally, Greg found a gap in the pile of rubble that Dwight could possibly clamber through. It was on fire. But he blasted it with the last of the fire extinguisher and tucked the blanket around the boy.
Dwight knew. He looked at his teacher in the eyes and hot tears fell. “But…”
“Go,” he said in his commanding tone. His skin bled, his hair singed. He gestured to the clear path—narrow, only someone of Dwight’s size and build could squeeze through that. “It won’t be there long. Go, Dwight. Right now. Run, don’t look back!”
“Mr. Harvey…” Dwight choked back a sob.
“I know you can do it—Hurry!”
Weeping furiously, Dwight crawled through the gap right before the rubble took it back. He landed heavily onto the messy floor, pushed himself up, and flew across the way, crying too hard to see and refusing to look back—if he saw his teacher again, he’d never make it out, it’d be too hard—
He hurled himself out the window.
Harvey stepped back.
All of Windsor grabbed the boy, pouring tears of relief when he landed on the mat. Kurt grabbed him along with the others and pulled him out of the pad. He was so weak, he could barely stand, but he didn’t have to—they all practically carried him.
“Dwight—oh thank god! Dwight, can you hear us? Dwight, say something, please! Please! Dwight!”
He had never felt so many hands on him, so many voices speaking to him, coaxing life out of him. He could hear them weeping in relief, begging for him to speak—and he couldn’t even recognize some of the voices. Who were these people…? Why did they care?
And in this moment, he felt his entire body go slack. All these hands on him, lifting him practically off the ground; it felt as though his body was shutting down. Blackness raced to him at full speed, and all the energy he had fled him. Lost and powerless, Dwight closed his eyes as he fell against his friends—his family—and went limp in grateful surrender.
He wanted to smile when that cheerful voice called in his mind before everything disappeared.
“Dwight!” the other boys caught him just as he fell, and he was borne amongst them carefully, mindful of the wounds that littered him. They surrounded him, staring down, not knowing what to do…helpless.
As the boys panicked, a pair of green eyes scanned the windows in the same sentiment. His eyes flickered up to the third floor. The other boys had made it out…all…except one. Even as Derek tried to pull him away, he felt his friend grow weak when the smoke and flame engulfed the window.
He remembered the staircase. He remembered being told to go. He remembered Julian running up to the third floor, without so much as a goodbye.
When Julian had run up to the third floor, he knew he was trapped. It was worse than ever, and the floor was giving way beneath him. He’d picked his way through safer ground. He thought that he could get the fire escape to open again. But he found himself finding the only remaining steady ground in the third floor—where the night had begun.
Julian fell onto the floor, on his hands and knees, coughing violently. The smoke stung his eyes. And this room…this terrible room…was the only area that didn’t have a floor that threatened to collapse yet.
The roof was caving in. Fire was growing. The smoke was thickening. And when Julian looked up, he saw Adam, still lying in a prone form, on the floor. In spite of himself, Julian crawled over to him. A moment of hesitation, and he grabbed his wrist. A pulse. Adam was alive, but barely.
And then Julian suddenly had the most inappropriate desire to laugh at himself. It was a bitter, futile laugh that died too quickly in his hoarse throat.
He slumped back for a moment against the wall, trying to breathe as much as he can while he could. And revel in the fact that Logan could have been rescued by now. Would he be rescued? Would anyone even make it up here, with the staircase gone?
Julian looked back to the direction of that place, where he had screamed for Logan to go. Logan had been his first and only priority and in hindsight maybe he should have thought it a little more through. But mindless idea that the blond best friend he’d had for three years was same gave him the only reason to smile even a little right now.
Logan was safe. He was going to be safe.
And he wouldn’t have even had to go all these things too, if it hadn’t been for him. He made this mess—it was only right that he fixed it.
All the things I’ve done…all the things I’ve tried…
He remembered one night after he received that message from Derek—the one that told him that their friend was “forgetting” to take his medication. That night he knew—he knew that there was very little time. He’d seen what happens when Logan flew past the haze and into the fury of his rage. Self-destruction would follow and he couldn’t let that happen—
"I really think you should go to Winter Fest, sir."
"And why do you think that?"
"…there’s just something you have to know. Something you have to see."
He had tried. He thought that the only way to shake his friend back to reality was if the monster came banging at his door and reminded him. If he could compel the father to come—sure there would definitely be trouble but…maybe Logan would at least be pushed back from the brink and be bought more time. It would make him try to save himself. Enough of a scene and the others would hear. And they’d save him. And maybe…maybe his father would hear him sing and understand.
"Logan doesn’t sing," the senator looked bewildered.
Kurt almost smiled. “Are you sure about that?”
And then he had sung that song. Julian had stood at the entrance doors, beyond the stage lights so no one near the stage could see him. Alone, listening, watching. When Logan looked at his father and sang, Julian knew that if he ever found out that he was the one—that he had been the one to tell…
He would hate him.
The senator walked past him down the hall, his wife Michelle in tow. Julian didn’t move from where he stood.
"…he sings very well, doesn’t he, Senator? He’s looks different."
The senator gave him a long hard look, but kept walking. But Michelle looked at him and gave him a smile—one that made Julian wonder sometimes how much she really knew of the situation past what she was letting on. She gave Julian a hug—”Thank you.”—and left with the father.
Julian had blinked back the mists in his eyes, and waited until the song was over. And then he left.
She thanked me because she didn’t know. If she knew what would happen after they let Logan stay one more year…
I did this, didn’t I?
Yes he had.
Everything he had tried to do for him ended up going wrong. He tried to fix things with Blaine when it had been him—that went to hell. He had tried with Joshua, but that didn’t work either. And now Kurt. Beautiful, brilliant, blunt Kurt—he would have been perfect for Logan, of that Julian was sure.
And he ended that too. With this.
Maybe when this was all over, Logan would realize the implications of the confession that he was forced to say when Adam held that knife to him. Maybe he would grow to hate him for not saying a word. That’s good…it should be easier for him to deal with this…fiasco.
He didn’t even want to know what his mother and father would say. Maybe for the first time in a while, they’d talk about something that had nothing to do with a script. Maybe Hollywood would declare it a freak accident. Maybe they’ll write Grant’s character off.
Lots of maybes.
It was fine to imagine.
Julian opened his eyes. He saw the hall. Reed’s paintings were all ruined now. Petals were still everywhere. Everything a mess. His blood, everyone else’s, was on the wood floor. It was horrible and nightmarish and he refused to die in this hell. If he was going to die—it would be by his own terms.
I can’t give up. I’m not going to die in here. Or at least…not in this room.
It was a last ditch attempt. The only way he knew. Anything was better than this hell. He crawled to the axe left on the ground. He reached down and picked it up, using both hands because he was so tired. He panted down at Adam, “You’re not going to die here, you bastard. No. You’re not getting away that easily. You don’t get to die and get away from everything you’ve done. You’re going to live through this and face some fucking justice.” And he turned to the glass windows—and hurled the axe through it.
It smashed to pieces. Julian picked up the baseball bat that still had blood on it and walloped the window open a bit wider until he couldn’t be assed to do it anymore. The fire was eating away quick.
Three stories up. Fire at his back. The empty air in front of him. Julian couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic setting. He reached down and pulled Adam’s limp form over to him, draping his arm over his shoulders.
I choose this.
The roof collapsed. Julian felt himself impact glass, slicing through his clothes, and skin. And in those moments, when he felt the impact, and he felt no ground beneath him, just the endless falling and the knowledge that an even greater impact was waiting…
…he wondered not of green eyes that had fascinated him for three years, but if Alice, who seemed to enjoy her fall amidst the books and furniture, feared not the falling, but the sudden stop that came after.
All the boys on the ground burst into roars of exclamation when they heard the smashing sound. Something flew through the air and vanished into the darkness. And then it happened:
An honest-to-goodness miracle from God, as everyone would say later.
A third floor window smashed as something mortal broke through it—not quite right over where the pad was, but close.
There was uproar as the two bodies that flew out hit the trees first—a branch broke. And it knocked them off course. They kept hitting branches and getting steered off course and then with nearly half a tree’s crown following them in twigs and branches, two bodies slammed painfully into the pad.
There was a cry of horror from the onlookers. The second floor might have been just enough height, but nobody knew if the third floor was even an option for that landing pad. But everyone fought through the leaves and branches to find two bodies on the pad, having very nearly missed it altogether:
Adam Clavell, in a bruised heap, lay on top of Julian Larson, who had taken a lot of the impact into the branches first and then the pad.
There was a moment of pure terror when neither of them even so much as moved.
“Julian!” Kurt’s cry broke the spell and he was moving to the mat. Suddenly boys were everywhere, pulling branches and twigs off. Justin was the one to pull Adam out of the mat first, and he was startled to hear him cough.
Adam was alive. Justin pulled him to the ground and lay him out. Another cough—Adam was definitely alive, and regaining consciousness. The other Hanover boys immediately moved forward to stand around him, all of them cautiously watching him.
“Oh god…” Kurt tore his eyes away from that sight and looked to the actor who lay on the pad. He hadn’t moved. And he was very white. “Julian…?!” he and Blaine ran to the mat just as Logan and Derek did.
“Julian!” Logan took his friend up, carrying him off the pad, but the weight made his knees buckle and they both ended up on the ground. It didn’t matter. He sat up, eyes wild, clutching his friend close in his arm and pushing the bloody locks from the face that had graced so many posters and magazine pages, and the smiling photographs in his room.
“Julian…? Julian, please, open your eyes…” he clasped the cold form, begging it to show life, as though the mere touch of someone alive could revive him. “Julian, please, I’m begging, you, come on…” Logan’s voice broke when his best friend simply lay there. He felt helpless, lost, and he looked around as though looking for something, anything that could possibly help, and found nothing.
He looked at Kurt with a gaze that had no meaning. Kurt stared back at him, not knowing what to do or say. He simply dropped his eyes back down to the person who they could’ve called their mutual friend.
“Come on, Julian…” Kurt whispered, staring at him, holding his hand tight. “Julian, please.”
Derek stepped back, hit a tree and slid down, unable to hold back tears as he looked up at the sky trying to wonder what they did to deserve this.
Logan choked back a sob, keeping the body close to him. After all they’d been through tonight—after all they fought for—didn’t they deserve a reward? After Julian did everything he could, after he bared his heart and soul out to him, this wasn’t allowed, this wasn’t fair. Logan refused to be left with no choice but to take that revelation and not be able to say something, anything back, no matter what it was.
This was Julian, for the love of God, this thing didn’t happen to them or him! He wasn’t allowed to simply say “I love you”, change everything he’d known for three years, and then evaporate. That wasn’t how it worked! “This isn’t fair—this isn’t fair, you can’t do this—you can’t! Please… Open your eyes…”
Kurt watched as Logan bent down and pressed his lips to Julian’s singed hair.
Julian didn’t move.
Kurt had to let go. He stumbled back, feeling sick, the world spinning around him. He crashed into someone and knew who it was without having to look—he simply buried himself against Blaine, trying to breathe, the whole ordeal breaking him down. Blaine’s arms tightened around his body as he sobbed against him, mostly in fright, and exhaustion, and surrender.
He could hear Logan crying, begging his friend to wake, and Kurt couldn’t bring himself to keep listening to it. Not when he had been so close—not when he knew everything—not when he had the chance to change things—not when he had seen him not even all that long before, still alive, and yet now…
Kurt’s world spun. His knees went weak. Blaine’s voice echoed in his ears—but just that, an echo. And then another sound—
He thought he heard his father call his name before his body gave in to shock and everything went black.
To be continued…