Blaine was awake early the next day. He felt a strange urge to return to the infirmary to check on Kurt, but he withheld himself from doing so. This was crazy. Kurt was his prisoner! His thoughts should not be so consumed by one random, spoiled rich kid!
But he's not random, he thought to himself. He's Kurt.
Blaine tried to distract himself by walking through the camp again. He passed Wes as he walked, who lowered his head respectfully to him, though Blaine was sure that he caught a bit of anger in Wes' eyes.
He's just mad that I made him have to get lashing, Blaine sighed. But he'll get over it. He deserved it and he'll come to realize that. He needs to learn that he can't just do whatever he wants. There has to be consequences.
"Someone's lost in thought," a familiar voice commented with a light chuckle. Blaine looked up in surprise to find his friend Nick sitting on a log a couple of steps away. He had a playful, teasing smile on his lips as he looked up at Blaine, one that made Blaine smile as well.
"You know me," he chuckled. "I've always got something on my mind."
"It wouldn't have anything to do with a certain prisoner, would it?" Nick grinned, raising his eyebrows playfully.
"Can Jeff never keep his mouth shut?" Blaine exclaimed. "I told him not to tell anyone!"
"No, you told him not to tell anyone that you were at the infirmary," Nick countered as he stood up. "And anyways, I'm not just anyone. Me and Jeff tell each other everything. There are no secrets between us. That's how we make our relationship work so well."
"Yeah, well, some of us don't have that luxury," Blaine sighed. He paused a moment before continuing. "How are they?"
"Kurt's still out," Nick shrugged. "I guess it's because he's not used to roughing out here like we are, plus the fact that his body's trying to heal itself. But Jeff's doing pretty good. I'm actually about to go check on them again. Want to come with me?"
"No," Blaine quickly shook his head. "I don't want to be there if he's awake. I'm probably not his most favourite person right now, seeing as how I tricked him. But we should figure out what to do with him until Bas gets back with the Governor's answer. I guess that once he's strong enough to stand, he should be brought before the Council. I want to see what their opinion is on this. I fear that mine might be a bit too clouded at the moment... Perhaps by noon? If he's strong enough, that is."
"I will go consult with my better half," Nick grinned, giving Blaine a slight nod. "He'll know if our special prisoner will be ready for then."
"Alright, well, let me know either way," Blaine nodded, his thoughts drifting away again. Nick noticed the subtle dismissal and gave Blaine a slight bow before turning and heading off towards the infirmary.
Blaine remained where he was for a few minutes, lost in thought. He desperately hoped that Kurt was doing better today, hopefully even well enough to be able to stand and come before the Council. Though he had just seen the man the day before, Blaine was desperate to see him again.
But he could just not understand why.
Why can't I get him out of my mind? Blaine wondered. Jeff said that I cared about him... but why? He's no one to me, just another ransom. So then why did it upset me so much that Wes had him whipped? That his skin was marred? Why did his cry of pain break my heart? And why can't I stop thinking about him?
"Wow, when you get lost in thought, you really get lost in thought!" Nick's voice chuckled behind him. Blaine quickly spun around, snapping out of his thoughts once again.
"You've really been standing there the whole time I've been gone?" Nick asked, raising an eyebrow at him. Blaine blinked with surprise. How long had Nick been gone?
"You're back already?" he asked. Nick just chuckled.
"I've been gone for almost an hour!" Nick exclaimed. "And almost half of that time was spent looking around for you!" Blaine had to force himself not to blush.
"Well, what did Jeff say?" Blaine asked, trying to change the subject. Nick just rolled his eyes as he answered Blaine's question.
"Jeff says that Kurt will be good to go by noon," Nick replied. "He'll still be a bit stiff, but he's healing really well. Marie definitely knows her stuff!"
"Good," Blaine nodded. "I guess that I should inform the Council that he will be visiting us soon then."
"Yes, you probably should," Nick chuckled. "Since it's almost noon."
"Sheesh! Where does the time go?!" Blaine exclaimed, quickly turning to head towards the Council's tent.
"Maybe if you stopped getting so lost in thought about a certain someone..." Nick called out after him.
"Shut it, Nick," Blaine retorted, not turning around. "Unless you want a view of the inside of the pit!"
The remark came out harsher than Blaine intended for it to, but he knew that Nick wouldn't take it to heart.
If need be, I'll apologize to him later, Blaine decided as he made his way to the large tent in the middle of the camp. Trent was stationed by the entrance today, and he eagerly pushed the flaps back for Blaine to pass through. Trent was one of those men who desperately wanted to raise his stature in the camp, doing whatever he could to please and impress those above him.
"Trent," he nodded to the man as he passed through the entrance. Trent lowered his head respectfully in return.
"Look who finally decided to join us!" a tall, dark skinned man exclaimed as he stepped into the tent.
"I had other matters to attend to, David," Blaine quipped. "Just as we do now." Blaine quickly strode over to the large table in the middle of the room. On it was a large map of the area.
"Bas should be returning any time now with Hummel's answer," Blaine said as his eyes rolled over the map. "If he agrees to our terms, then we will be meeting him here." He pointed to a spot on the map marked as canyons. "Obviously, we're going to take the higher ground so that they can't get an advantage over us. I think we all know that Hummel will try to ambush us if he can."
"Yes, we already discussed this while you were off doing who knows what," Wes' voice injected.
"Good," Blaine smiled at him sweetly. "It's good to see that you can function properly without me there to help you. Now," he turned back to David and Thad, the final member of the Council. "Hummel's son will be coming here shortly. We have to decide what to do with him in case something goes wrong with Bas."
"I say that if Hummel doesn't agree or if Bas is captured, that we blindfold the kid, strap him to a horse and send him off into the desert," Wes suggested. "We have no use for him otherwise."
"Wes, we are still human!" Blaine snapped. "You wouldn't even be giving him a fighting chance!"
"And since when did you care about what happens to the prisoners?" Wes remarked. "If I remember correctly, you never had a problem with what we did to that Crawford kid!"
"I didn't know about that until after it was done!" Blaine growled. "Something else which you did without my permission."
"Blaine, settle!" David tried to calm him. "We all agreed that he knew too much to be allowed to live, especially after he almost killed Cameron the last time he tried to escape! He was a danger to all of us! It had to be done!"
"It's still not right!" Blaine exclaimed. "This was not why we started the Warblers!"
"Things change," Thad said softly. "To survive, we've had to adapt."
"But must we lose ourselves in the process?" Blaine whispered softly. The whole tent fell silent at his comment. The Warblers were not what they once had been. But it was society that caused them to change. It was society that forced them to change.
"We won't lose who we are," David said softly after a moment. "Not as long as we have you. You've always been the one to help keep up clear headed when things get chaotic. Whatever you decide that we should do with the Hummel kid, should we need to do anything but return him, I will support you wholeheartedly."
"Thank you, David," Blaine nodded to his gratefully. Out of the three Council members, Blaine felt that he could trust David the most. Wes used to be the one he would go to, but things had changed between them since their little band was formed, things that couldn't be fixed.
"As will I," Thad, the quieter one of the three, spoke up after another moment. Blaine nodded his thanks to him as well, turning his attention now onto Wes. Wes frowned but reluctantly nodded.
"Your word will always be honoured," he said, his voice softening only slightly. Blaine gave him a thankful nod as well.
Turning away from the table, Blaine spotted a chair sitting back in the back of the room. His legs took that moment to start to ache, reminding him that he'd been on his feet all day.
"David, why don't you take the lead on the talk with Hummel's son?" Blaine suggested, turning back to them. "I'd like to see how you'd handle the situation."
"I would be honoured to, Sir," David smiled proudly. Usually Blaine would be the one to take the lead on dealing with the more important decisions, but Blaine was afraid to take charge on this one. Afraid, because he couldn't get those beautiful, glasz eyes out of this thoughts. Afraid, because his emotions might get the best of him if he had to look Kurt in the eyes again after he had betrayed him.
Because that's what I did, he thought with a sigh. I betrayed Kurt's trust by tricking him.
"Until he arrives though," Blaine said, shaking away his unpleasant thoughts. "Why don't we go over the plan for the trade off?"
As the other men turned back to the map on the table, Blaine retired himself to the chair that he had spotted a moment ago.
"I think that it would be best to position ourselves just outside of the canyons," David pointed out, motioning towards a spot on the map. "That way, in case anything goes wrong, we'll be able to get out quickly, rather than chance getting trapped in those stone caverns."
"But wouldn't it be wiser to be deeper in?" Wes argued. "That way, we'd know that are backs are protected from a sneak attack."
"It would take them too long to travel all the way through the canyons to get behind us," Thad disagreed. "Plus, if the did have a separate party try to sneak up behind us, they would have no way of communicating with the head party to know when they should attack."
"We will also be on the higher ledges, so they wouldn't be able to sneak up on us in the first place," David added.
"But what if they get there first and set up an ambush in preparation?" Wes pushed. "It'd be easy for them to sneak up behind us then."
"We'll just have to go earlier to clear out any possible chance of an ambush," David decided.
Blaine couldn't help but smile as he watched the men argue. This was why they were his Council. Each of their unique thought processes helped to pinpoint all possible outcomes in situations, thus making sure that they would always come out on top. They were one of the main reasons why the Warblers had never been captured by the Law.
"He's been waiting," Blaine suddenly heard Trent say from his post by the door. Blaine turned just in time to see Jeff and Nick enter the tent with Kurt in between them. He subconsciously leaned back in the chair, as if to keep his presence from being discovered by the tall, thin boy. He watched as they came to a stop before the men positioned around the table, the only one noticing them being Wes, who just seemed to glare at Kurt, for reasons that Blaine couldn't fathom.
Oddly enough, Wes did not say anything or announce their arrival to David or Thad. He just stayed silent, continuing to glare at Kurt. It was Thad who noticed next, who instantly greeted them.
"Oh, good, you're here," he said, stepping away from the table. Blaine watched as David turned around as well and looked at Kurt.
"Governor Hummel's son," he grinned. "So nice to formally meet you."
"How can we be formally introduced if you know my name but I don't know yours?" Blaine was taken aback by the defiant tone to Kurt's voice. It surprised him, but also intrigued him. The Kurt he had seen in the pit was nothing like the defiant figure that now stood before him. This Kurt felt stronger, more sure of himself. Brave.
"You've got spunk, kid," David just chuckled. "I'll give you that. Alright, well, then to properly introduce myself, I am David. And this is Thad," he motioned to the dark haired man beside him. "And I believe that you already know Wes."
"Yes, I do," Kurt retorted. "I wish could say that it's a pleasure to meet you all, but then I'd be lying." Blaine struggled to hold back his chuckle. He liked this Kurt!
"I'd watch your tongue if I were you," Thad snapped sharply. Blaine could see sparks of anger flashing in his eyes "And show a bit of respect."
"Respect?" Kurt scoffed. "Why should I respect any of you? You kidnapped me and forced to me come who knows where, all so that you could fill your filthy, rotten pockets with gold! I am not some negotiating piece that you can use to get whatever you want! I am a human being and I deserve to be treated with respect! Not some low life criminals!"
A heavy weight dropped in Blaine's stomach. Was that really how he saw them? Sure, the Warblers were outlaws, but to be see as low lives… filth… scum of the earth… That wasn't what Blaine had wanted for them.
"Are you saying that we are not human then?" David growled, anger snapping through his voice as well. "That we do not deserve equal respect because we are forced to do what we must to survive? And you say that you are not treated with respect? Ungrateful brat! We could have left you in that pit, let your wounds become infected, but we didn't! Now how about you show some respect for that!"
David's sharp words caused Kurt to fall silent. Blaine wished that he could see his face, get some sort of gage on what Kurt was thinking, but from the angle he was sitting at, he couldn't. He was about to stand up to join the situation when the tent flap moved back and Trent stepped in.
"Sir, Sebastian has returned," he announced. It didn't escape Blaine's attention how Kurt stiffened at the mentioned of Bas' name. What had happened between them?
"Good," David smiled. "Send him in."
Trent nodded and moved back out side. And then there he was. Sebastian. He moved forward, passing by Kurt on his way to stand before the Council, and as he passed by him, Sebastian's eyes seemed to slide up and down Kurt's body, sparking an aggressive, protective feeling in Blaine. Kurt's uncomfortable body language seemed to fuel that feeling until Sebastian took his eyes off of Kurt to stop and tilt his head respectively to each of the three men of the Council.
"What news have you, Bas?" David asked, seemingly oblivious to Kurt's discomfort.
"Hummel has agreed to our terms," Sebastian announced. Blaine could literally feel some of the tension leave the room at this statement.
"But," Sebastian continued. "There was a slight... complication."
"Oh?" David tilted his head questioningly. "What do you mean?"
"Hummel broke his word," Sebastian replied with a slight smirk. It almost seemed like he was enjoying this. "He sent someone to follow me, thought I wouldn't notice."
"And?" David said, gesturing for him to continue. Blaine didn't fail to notice the fact that David was struggling to control the anger in his voice.
"And I caught her," Sebastian continued. "It was easy. Once I hit one of the checkpoints, I signalled the guards there that I was being followed and we ambushed her. Simple as that."
"Her?" David raised a questioning eyebrow. "Hummel sent a woman to follow you?" Blaine was just as surprised at this discovery. Why would Hummel send a woman?
"I don't know why," Sebastian shrugged. "Maybe he thought I wouldn't suspect a woman of following me. But it's kind of hard not to notice when you're traveling through an area that no one goes through."
"So what did you do with her?" David asked.
"I brought her back with me," Sebastian answered. "I thought that it was best if the Council dealt with her."
For once, Sebastian, you've actually made a smart decision, Blaine smiled. Sebastian had a bad habit of wanting to take matters into his own hands, much like Wes did, but he had made the smarter decision in choosing to bring the girl to the Council.
"Good," David smiled. "Send for someone to bring her here."
"Already done," Sebastian said, nodding to one of the guards at the entrance. They pulled back the flaps and two of his men entered, dragging someone between them. Sebastian stepped towards them and grabbed a fistful of her long, dark hair, pulling her head back sharply. A muffled gasp slipped out from the girl, making Blaine cringe. What was he doing? Blaine wanted so badly to step out and tell Sebastian off, but something held him back, told him to wait. So he did.
"I warned Hummel about what would happen if he were to have me followed, but I guess that he doesn't care about his son that much if he's willing to risk his safety like that," Sebastian grinned, casting a glance over at Kurt. "But since he broke his word, maybe instead of killing him, maybe you would be so kind as to let me take him." Blaine did not like how Sebastian was looking at Kurt. He did not like it at all.
"After all," Sebastian continued with a smirk. "Hummel broke his word, so why should we keep ours? Or, if you still want to trade him back, perhaps it would be okay now if he's a little more roughed up than he was before. I would be-"
"That's enough, Sebastian!" Blaine didn't realize he had spoken until everyone was suddenly staring at him. All he remembered was being overwhelmed with a sudden desire to protect the pale skinned boy.
Well, now that I've got everyone's attention… Blaine stepped out from where he had been "hiding" and approached Sebastian.
"You are never to touch him," he said sharply. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Sir," Sebastian replied, a bitter tone to his voice as he hung his head.
"Good," Blaine smiled, moving over to stand before Kurt. "Now though I agree that Hummel should learn not to cross us, I have a better idea of how to go about doing so." He turned to look up at David and gave him an apologetic smile.
Next time, Blaine silently promised him. You can take charge next time. This one is all mine. He wanted to look at Kurt so badly, but his mind was occupied with other things at the moment. Like trying to figure out what his "better idea" was. Luckily, Blaine was gifted with being able to think quickly on the spot.
"We will still meet Hummel at the trade off site, but we will have an extra surprise waiting there for him," Blaine announced, casting a glance over at Sebastian's prisoner. "Take her to the pit for now. Tomorrow, we will start our trek to the meeting spot. We wouldn't want to be late to meet the Governor, now would we?" He couldn't help the grin that flashed across his lips as a plan finally started to form in his mind, a plan that would involve them getting more than just gold.
"Now as for Hummel's son," he said, turning back to look at Kurt. "I believe that his wounds are still healing, so he will be returned to the infirmary until tomorrow. I want him to be rested up and ready to ride in the morning." He saw something flicker in Kurt's eyes, those beautiful eyes…
Focus, Blaine! he scolded himself sharply.
"Early curfew tonight, boys," Blaine continued, forcing himself to turn away from Kurt and move up to the table, on the opposite side of David. "We've got an early morning tomorrow and I want you all to be rested up. Understood?"
"Yes, Sir," all of the men in the room chorused together. Blaine smiled. It was moments like this that reminded him why he loved being the Boss.
"Dismissed," he nodded, waving them all away. He watched as Sebastian and his posse moved out of the tent before chancing a glance at Kurt. He was looking at Blaine with a wide-eyed, shocked expression, one that stayed on his face as Jeff and Nick slowly led him out of the tent, most certainly to take him back to the infirmary as he had ordered. Even after Kurt was gone from sight, he couldn't get that stare out of his mind. Why had Kurt looked so surprised?
A mystery for another day, I suppose, he shrugged to himself as he turned back to face his Council.
"So, care to include us in on this plan of yours?" David inquired, raising an eyebrow at him.
"Well," Blaine smiled. "I have an idea, but there are a few things that we'll need to get on our way…"