Alright, first off, I am SO sorry this took so long to update. Crazy schedules are crazy schedules.

Anyways, this one was a bitch to write, but then around Wednesday I finally figured out how this was going to play out.

Enjoy, and please review as always! :D

Blaine woke up with a pounding headache and a furry feeling coating his tongue. He had never felt worse than he did now, after such a vulnerable night. He could remember vague details from the night, some stood out more than others, but he hoped that some things hadn't happened like he suspected it did. Just to be sure, he pulled out his phone after searching for it and finding it in his pants pocket, which lay in a heap on the bathroom floor.

I am SO sorry for anything I may have done last night. I kind of blacked out after I went back to the bottle…-B

He glanced over to Alex's bed, but it was empty despite the appearance of somebody sleeping in it. That was just the way some pillows were stuffed under the covers and it gave the illusion of a sleeping form beneath the blankets, instead of a pile of goose feather and cotton. His phone buzzed in his hand as Gemma sent her reply:

It's okay. You didn't do anything except throw up and I helped you to your room. –Gem

He thought it over for a moment before texting back. He chose his words carefully. They were simple and grateful words.

Thank you for being there. I tend to ramble when I'm drunk. Somehow I remember that. –B

Her reply was immediate.

Blaine, seriously. Don't worry about it. You needed to get that off your chest. I'm glad you told me, even though you were drunk. I'm here for you :)-Gem

I just wanted to make sure I didn't overwhelm you. –B

Let it go. I'm here for you, and that's all that matters. You can't take back what you did or said. –Gem

That caught him a bit off guard. Did she mean what he thought she meant? He shook his head at the screen in disbelief. There was no way that she would float around something like that. She could be shy, but blunt if need be, and he didn't think that he would be able to get by her with something like that. He typed out a vague response and sent it to her, wondering if she would clarify.

Okay. Thank you again, for everything. –B

He threw his phone back on his bed when he didn't get a further reply from her. He knew she left out a significant detail from the night. The way she ignored it confirmed the fact that she really was a friend. He hoped she wrote it off as a drunken moment and nothing more, and that he wouldn't remember it. That was the only acceptable way he could get away with that.

He knew what he did, of course. He had been fully aware of everything that went on. He traced his memory back to the night before, the pieces of the puzzle fitting together more and more the longer he was awake.

He had hurried from the party and gone off in search of something to take his mind off the pressing thoughts as he tried to dodge everyone he knew. Then the image of Alex's alcohol stash came to his mind, and he raced up to his room. When he got there, he wasn't going to be picky about the alcohol, mostly because he didn't drink any at all. He had no clue what was what, so he just grabbed the nearest open bottle, which had turned out to be whiskey. Then he stopped, and realized he hadn't quite thought everything through. He didn't know where he was going to drink it without getting caught. Surely the showcase wasn't going to last much longer and everyone would be returning to their dorms soon. Seeing their Head Boy drinking heavy amounts would do nothing to stave their hunger for parties, and it would make them think it was okay to drink the stuff all the time.

He suddenly thought of the perfect place and rushed back outside of Waldorf and through the halls of Westbrook to find Cardinal Hall. As soon as he arrived, he headed straight for the back corner of the vast room and closed the door on the practice space he had just entered. He slumped against the door for a moment, taking a deep breath before unscrewing the lid to the bottle of sprits and pouring it into the glass he grabbed from the place where Alex hid his stores.

He raised the glass hesitatingly to his lips, but then he quickly jerked the glass up and took a big swig from it. The liquid burned at his throat and he shuddered at the taste, but as the whiskey lingered in the crevices of his mouth and throat, a dull fog crept over him.

Sighing in relief at the gratifying mist creeping over him, he walked over to the bench at the piano and sat down. He took a few more drinks from the glass and refilled it when it was empty. The bottle had been just a little more than half-full, and now it was between halfway and one-third full. He took off his blazer and threw it on the floor, in a hurry to break free from the restrictive clothing. In his haste to loosen his tie, he tugged at his shirt and accidentally ripped out a few buttons, but that went unnoticed by him. He pushed up his sleeves, ready to just forget all of his past. He wanted the liquor to take him away to a place where he wasn't concerned by all of his petty problems.

He sat in a stupor for who knows how long until he heard his name being called in the distance. The pain was starting to come back as a dull ache in his head, and he was startled alert and he fell over, causing the crashing sound Gemma had heard from the hall. He sat there for a few more moments until she called his name again, louder this time and obviously closer. He fumbled to get up and knocked over a music stand. He huffed for a moment, then grabbed at a chair to help him up, and overturned it when he was on his feet again. That was when Gemma knocked on the door. He panicked for a second, he didn't want her to see him like this, but he had to let her in because she had obviously found him. He got up and wrenched open the door to see her worried face. Her cheeks were flushed, as if she had been running around the school. Which she probably had been, trying to find him. He hid from everyone, especially her, on purpose.

He turned away from her so she couldn't see the extent of the pain visible on his face. It was back again, so he reached for the glass on the piano to wash it away again. But it wasn't enough to forget, so he turned for the bottle sitting next to him. He shot daggers at Gemma when she took that away from him, but then for a moment he wondered what it would be like to actually tell someone what was going on. Before he changed his mind, he launched into that whole reprisal of his family history.

If he thought that telling would make it any better, he was severely mistaken. Being half-drunk and retelling all of those memories only made the hurt worse. He couldn't bear it any longer, and he took back the bottle from Gemma and downed it before she could rip it from his grasp again. He knew his mind was getting foggier and foggier by the second, so in his last semi-coherent thought, he remembers grabbing her face and kissing her. He remembers her reation, but then the he felt something deep in his guts that threatened to resurface if he wasn't quick. The world basically blanked after that, until he woke up that morning.

He would probably say that that was the biggest mistake ever, getting drunk like that and then pouring out his problems to her, and then acting on impulse. He never acted on impulse before, and he could see why. It was extremely embarrassing, and it could have potentially ruined his amazing friendship with Gemma.

He sighed, and got up from his bed. He really wished everything from the night before hadn't happened, but it was too late to take anything back. He got some clean clothes from his dresser, and went to the shower to get ready for the day, and then to head home for the weekend. For the first time, he was glad to be home for the weekend, just so he didn't have to deal with any awkwardness that might come up. Sure, Gemma was brushing off the drunkness and trying to reassure him, but still, it would be awkward for him.

The following Monday, at the next Cardinal rehearsal, Richardson announced how he wanted to distribute the winners of the showcase from Friday night. Everyone already knew that he had chosen Gemma and Blaine to solo (that much was obvious from both of their performances), but the surprise pick of the night for the third soloist was Lucy. Her performance turned out to be very good, and a lot of people voted for her, besides voting for Blaine and Gemma.

The twist was the way Richardson wanted to have the songs done for Nationals. He assigned Lucy the first solo, Gemma with the ballad, and the shocker ended up being a duet between Gemma and Blaine for the third and final number. Everyone had just assumed that each would be given their own solo, and Gemma even protested a little with him, saying that she didn't need to be featured in two songs. He brushed off her attempts to downplay herself, and told her he really believed in their chances of winning if he did the songs like that.

He wasn't going to announce the songs they were going to sing just yet, because he wanted a sample performance from each of them, especially one for the duet to see how they would perform together. The nice part was that the soloists would get to choose their songs.

Blaine hadn't known the outcome of the showcase because he didn't ask anybody over the weekend, and he found out on Monday at that rehearsal. Gemma didn't tell him because it gave her a knot in her stomach because of what he told her in his drunken state. She didn't want to add to his problems with his parents, so she wanted to let him ask when he was ready to know. She was right in the fact that he wasn't pleased at the outcome, but he didn't question Richardson. He never did. It was just the way he was. He accepted outcomes as they were, and his philosophy was to improve oneself for the next time, so as to avoid an unpopular outcome.

Even if Blaine had asked Richardson to let him give the part to someone else, Richardson would have refused, simply because nobody would have wanted to do it. They were all rather intimidated from his performance and completely agreed with the decision to make him soloist yet again. They wanted to display his talent for the whole country to see, and they would not let him back out if he tried to.

This was going to get interesting.

Gemma knocked on Blaine's door a day later, asking about the duet they were to sing for Richardson. She had a list of ideas, and wanted his opinion before she chose one for sure. He had told her to pick the song out, but she wanted him to hear the options because she really did value his opinion (and she didn't want to do a duet that would seem like a love song, she wasn't ready for that yet). He opened the door and looked a little surprised.

"Oh, hey Gemma. What are you doing here?"

She rolled her eyes. "Blaine, I told you that I wanted your opinion on these songs. Let me in so you can listen to them."

He stepped aside and she walked into his room and went directly to his stereo and plugged her iPod in. "Okay, so I made a playlist, take a look at it and tell me what you think."

He went over to stand beside her and took the iPod from her to scroll through the playlist. Sometimes, he tapped on a song to listen to it, but then he would scrunch his face, shake his head a little, and choose a different song. He had almost gotten to the end of the playlist when he saw a song he didn't recognize. He chose it, and the music filled the speakers and the room with the opening riffs of a guitar.

"Hmm I don't think I know this one," he told Gemma. She knew it immediately, and answered him, "It was released not too long ago. Do you like it?" she asked.

He listened to it through the chorus and bobbed his head a little to the beat of the song. "Yeah, actually. I really like this. Why don't we do this one?"

Gemma was relieved. "That's great, because this is the one I was silently rooting for," she said.

"Good choice, then." He smiled at her. "Why don't we start practicing this tomorrow so we can perform it on Friday?"

Gemma agreed with him. "Okay, that sounds good. Right now, though, I need to do some homework, and it's calling for me," she said with a frown. "Let me know what time you want to work on it."

"Will do," he called after her as she left his room. He was glad that that hadn't come off as awkward as he was thinking it would. He had sort of avoided Gemma on Monday during classes, and only talked to her a little bit earlier that day. Then he gave in because he knew that he would have to talk to her if they were going to do that solo. He figured that he was the one making things awkward, but then again, maybe the awkwardness was in his head. He had a tendency to make things up a lot and that usually didn't land him in favorable situations.

He settled on just trying to focus for the week on school and to just try to be as normal as possible for Gemma, so she wouldn't see how much he still struggled on the inside.

Gemma wasn't a fool, however, and knew that his problems were still bugging him. She didn't want a repeat of the night of the showcase with him thinking he needed to drown his sorrows in alcohol, so she wasn't going to approach him directly about it. The rehearsing was a little tense because she knew he was holding back on his potential and it killed her to see him do that. He shouldn't have to go through it, and she wanted to let him know somehow that he could talk to her, without feeling like she was worrying too much about him.

She tried to put those anxious thoughts about his situation and tried to settle them more on focusing for the performance as well. She was excited to do the duet, mainly because it was a favorite song of hers and it was fun to sing with someone, regardless of who it was. Then it came to her about what she would do to get through to Blaine. She didn't know why she didn't think of it sooner, but nonetheless, she set about planning that out for Friday as well.

The day came for the preview performances, and the duet that they prepared was to be the last performed, after Lucy's solo, and then after a ballad from Gemma, much like the way Richardson had envisioned it would be at nationals. He was getting really passionate and creative about the way they were going to perform there, and it was getting close to out of hand. His ideas were starting to get really crazy, and it usually took the entire group to convince him otherwise. They were all sort of afraid to see what he had up his sleeve next, but they waited in anticipation to see these preview performances of the Cardinals selected to solo at Nationals.

Lucy had just performed a lovely solo, it was clear now why they all chose her to do the opening solo. Her fiery spirit showed through in her singing and Richardson was now very happily planning a killer opener based on her performance from just then.

"Alright, thank you Lucy. That was really great. I'll get back to you soon with the number for Nationals so you we can start practicing that. Okay, next is Gemma with her ballad. Are you ready?" He looked over at her, sitting on one of the couches next to Blaine.

She stood up and answered him, "Yes, sir," and walked over to retrieve one of the guitars that stood in the stand next to the piano. Some people looked a little perplexed when she took the guitar, because they didn't know she played it at all. She explained a little for them. "I just started playing this not too long ago, but there's a message I want a friend of mine to know, and this song needs a guitar." She slung it around her neck and stood at the front of the room and shrugged her shoulders and said, "Anyways, here it goes."

Since you've been gone
Gone to the dogs
In a roundabout way
You're still sing
Singing along
I can see it in your face

Everywhere you go
I'm there with you
Still part of you
Never let you go at it alone
If you do
I'll make sure you are standing on your feet
Cause life could be sweet

She had no need to search out the object of the song; he already knew it was for him. The pressure he had felt in his stomach since before Regionals began to lessen and he started to breathe easier. The words of the song were starting to soothe him.

But now you're gone
Gone to the dogs
I don't know you like I did

So why don't you say
Say it out loud
All these things you hold inside of yourself
Holding on tight
As if you're frightened of the ride

Blaine felt more of his pain receding as he listened to the song. These were the exact words he needed to hear, because it woke him up to what he was doing to himself.

Everywhere you go
It goes with you
Takes part of you
And never lets you go at it alone
If it would I know you could be so much more than this
And life could be bliss

I never hold you up
And no I'll never let you down
You know I do my best
If I ever held you up
No, you never let me down
You let yourself down, let me down

But now you're gone
Gone to the dogs
I don't know you like I did

The song ended with a melancholy note, but the way Blaine reacted to it, it could have been anything but a melancholy song. He was beginning to be eternally grateful for Gemma, with the way she had handled last Friday night, and now how she was still in support of him. That was the push he needed to let go of some of the issues holing him back, because now he know that she wasn't taking a pity on him. She was so genuine, and that's what it took for him to realize that.

He was pretty sure that he clapped the loudest, but he really wanted to show his appreciation for her. Richardson was very pleased with her as well, and praised her loudly. "Wow thank you Gemma! Again, I'll let you know what song you'll be singing so we can get to rehearsing that." He smiled, and began to introduce the duet. "And now, I think that we're all anxious to hear from our new duet here. Blaine, if you would kindly join Gemma up here at the front?"

Blaine obliged and went over to stand next to his partner. He took the guitar from her, and put the strap around his own neck. He looked at Gemma and nodded at her. She nodded back at him, and he started playing the song. Gemma did a little dancing jig and then started with her verse.

Every night I walk the streets never dreaming what could happen

Sad and so lonely I saw in the mirror my reflection staring back at me

Thought I would never find what I need

But I'll wear that dress if you wear that tie, and baby we'll dance through the night,

'Cause no one's got what we've got going

Happiness never held onto me until you helped me see that together we're just better off.

Gemma skipped around the room. This was obviously going to be a cheesy and flirty duet, but despite the satire, the Cardinals were loving it. Most of them didn't recognize the son, but they swayed back and forth in their seats along to Gemma's voice. Blaine played the next few bars, then it was his turn.

Oh my heart's been tried time and again

I always thought that it was me but

I seen just how wrong I was, no I haven't known you for a lifetime

But somehow I've never been more sure that you're for me,

Baby please don't, don't leave

Just come and dance with me tonight

Gemma's voice joined him on the 'tonight' and they entered the chorus. He was now dancing a little around the room, his formality fading away as he let himself into the duet. They were having a lot of fun already. They were having a lot of fun already while singing it. Inwardly, Gemma was relieved that she had sang that song for him because she could see the subtle change in him. He was being more himself, the guy that she had started to get to know before his anxiety kicked in.

I'll wear that dress if you wear that tie, and baby we'll dance through the night,

'Cause no one's got what we've got going

Happiness never held onto me until you helped me see that together we're just better off.

Blaine sang the next line, then Gemma took the one after that, and their voices joined together for the one following.

Don't be cruel to me oh I've wanted more but I've been wrong before

So much learning to lose, but you're not a day too soon

So say you feel the same and we'll never be lonely anymore

Blaine motioned Jeff up to the front of the room and Jeff took a guitar and started playing the song instead of Blaine. It seemed to be planned out, because then Blaine took his own guitar off and danced around the room with Gemma. They skirted between the sofas in the room, just fixed on each other happily and singing the song. This was the most carefree Blaine had felt in nearly a month, and he missed the feeling.

I'll wear that dress if you wear that tie, and baby we'll dance through the night,

'Cause no one's got what we've got going

Happiness never held onto me until you helped me see that together we're just better off.

I'll wear that dress if you wear that tie, and baby we'll dance through the night,

'Cause no one's got what we've got going

Happiness never held onto me until you helped me see that together we're just better off.

Blaine sang the next part lazily, in the way that he didn't want the song to end so he could stay in that wonderful world forever.

We're just better off

Gemma chimed in.

I'll wear that dress

And Blaine did as well, after she delivered her line.

And I'll wear that tie

They sang the last part in harmony, letting their voices mix together very nicely. They had made their way back to the front of the room and were leaning towards each other from opposite sides of the large desk that headed the area.

And we'll just dance through the night

Tonight, tonight


The room was silent for a moment; the students just reveling in the lovely atmosphere that the song had created, until Richardson started clapping. The rest of the students followed suit, and interjected with their comments. The teacher stood up and let the applause continue politely, and then he spoke up.

"Okay thank you, Blaine and Gemma. That was rather, er, cute? Anyways, I'm glad I chose to pair you two. There's quite a lot of potential there between you guys. I'm excited to pick your song." He turned to the rest of the Cardinals and addressed them all this time.

"Thank you for listening to these today, and be prepared to rehearse a lot more starting sometime within the next two weeks." He then proceeded to dismiss the group, and they all filed out of the room with some renewed energy. Based on this preview, most of them were having a really good feeling about Nationals, Blaine especially. He had forgotten what he was so down about in the span of about four minutes, and he was reminded why he did music in the first place.

It was for that feeling; the one you get when you are so absorbed in your favorite thing, the entire world seems to be irrelevant to what's going on during that short time of music. It was a lot better than being high, and it was a lot easier that getting high, because all you need is a voice, and something to sing for. Blaine held on to those four minutes for a lot longer after the performance, because it was the first performance high he had in a very long time. At Regionals, even, he was so upset and paranoid he couldn't allow himself to be caught up in the moment there.

It was then that he decided that he wouldn't trade anything in the world for that feeling, and that he would not let whatever come his way get him down, because there were a lot more important things to worry about. He felt free.

So this was going go a different way until the studio version of Dress and Tie (by Charlene Kaye) came out. I just LOVE that song and had to put it in here, because Blaine needed some of that levity, and it's getting this thing back on track anyways. Gemma's song is Gone To The Dogs by KT Tunstall. Love KT, too.

Again, sorry for how long this took...I'll try to get the next one done, but don't expect anything before March 8th...I've got a big project I really need to work on.

Please review! :D

And I don't own anything :/