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Pipe Dream

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“It’s just a pipe dream and you know it. The supposed ‘love of your life’ took Tony from you. How will you get into NYADA now?” Sebastian asked him. “What kind of ‘teenage dream’ ruins his boyfriend’s chances of getting into his ‘dream’ school?”

Kurt hadn’t known Sebastian even five minutes and he had hit the nail on the head. Kurt didn’t have what it took to get into a school like NYADA.

“I have to go.” He stood up quickly, grabbing his coffee cup. “I only stopped in to get a pick-me-up drink on the way to the shop. Tell Blaine I’ll talk to him later.”

Kurt left the Lima Bean and got into his Navigator. He put the coffee up in the drink holder, put his seat belt on quickly, put the Navigator in reverse, pulled out of the spot, changed to drive, and headed out of the parking lot. He got to the exit, put his turn signal on to head to the shop, then suddenly changed his mind and flipped the signal to the other direction. He drove straight to the Lima Library.

He headed inside and found the area where the books about applying to college were. He pulled all of them off the shelf and took them to a table away from everyone else. He looked through them and realized that he didn’t have nearly enough to put on his CV to make him look like a good candidate.

He stacked the books that looked the most useful together to check out later and carried them over to the public computer section. He sat down and logged in. He looked up NYADA. The acceptance rate was 7.5%. He looked through the information and did some calculations of his own. There were six departments, and the most sought after slots were in the musical theater department. Typically around 1600 people applied for the 120 available spots, but over 400 of those applicants were for the 20 musical theater department slots, which changed the acceptance rate to less than 5%.

He looked up other New York City schools with musical theater departments. He wrote down the names, the tuition cost, and the room/board price - if the school offered it. He was shocked to see the cost of the tuition alone at some of the schools was close to $60K a year. Even if his dad helped, he would have to take out huge loans.

He looked on a different website to find the cost of renting an apartment in New York City. He about choked when he saw the price of a two-bedroom apartment, which is what he would need to live with Rachel. He could not afford half the rent on a two-bedroom. He switched his search to efficiency apartments because they were the least expensive. Even those were out of what he considered to be a reasonable range. It definitely changed his opinion on the cost of room/board from what he had thought when he had written those down.

He switched again to looking up how much Broadway and off-Broadway performers made. He was shocked to find that off-Broadway performers didn’t make anymore than a qualified mechanic. Broadway actors made more. But what reason did he have to think that he could get a job on Broadway any time soon? He couldn’t even get the lead in a high school play when he was the only one who specifically auditioned for the role.

On $50K a year in a decent-sized town, he could live a comfortable life. Own a house, get a dog, work regular hours, and be set. In New York City, on the same off-Broadway income, he’d barely be able to afford a decent one-bedroom apartment.

What was his real goal? He sat and thought. His real goal was to get out of Ohio, more specifically out of Lima. He thought about whether his goal of getting out of Lima was worth $250K in debt. He also thought about whether he could tolerate four years of Rachel and others like her. His eyes began to fill with tears when he realized that Blaine was just like Rachel.

When she thought she might not get Maria, she automatically went and put herself in the race for class president. “Who cares about you, buddy?” flashed back into his mind from the year before. He thought they had worked past that, but they hadn’t. He just hadn’t tried to get anything she might want since then, so there had been no reason to push him down. But the instant she thought she wasn’t going to get what she wanted, he was as expendable as he had always been. It really would have been a match made in heaven if Blaine had been bi.

Blaine. What was he going to do about Blaine? Clearly Blaine was going on non-dates with Sebastian, just like he had done with Kurt before they were actually dating. Sebastian was being openly flirty. Was he after Blaine? For what reason?

Sebastian. “We met at Dalton.” He’d be the next person for Kurt to talk to. He’d make a trip out to see the Warblers just like Blaine had. Why didn’t Blaine take him with him in the first place? Oh. He went to brag.

Since they had just had a non-date, surely they didn’t have another one scheduled for the next day. Kurt went through his schedule in his head. He had West Side Story rehearsal, but he wasn’t really needed since he had no singing or dancing parts and that was what the rehearsal was specifically for. He’d tell Miss Pillsbury that he wouldn’t be able to stay and he’d head out to Dalton as soon as school let out.

He packed his notebook back into his satchel. He checked out the most useful of the books he had pulled off the shelf and headed home.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

He sat down at the table for dinner later that evening.

“Hey, kiddo, I thought you were going to stop by the shop this afternoon and put in a few hours.”

“I was, Dad. Then, I realized that I needed to go to the library to get some books about applying for college.”

“I thought you and Rachel were applying to NYADA,” Finn said.

Kurt realized his misstep and attempted to tell the truth without giving anything away. “Oh, I am. I’m just trying to find the best way to present myself in the applications so I have the best chance at getting in.”

“I get it. Maybe Rachel should read them too.”

“Maybe.”

“So, what about tomorrow then?” Burt asked.

“I can’t, Dad. I really need to work on this. Deadlines for applying are coming up and I haven’t started on my application yet. Maybe once I read those books, I won’t be so worried, but until then, I really need to focus. I’ll put in extra hours soon.”

“It’s okay, bud. I know you’ve gotta do what you gotta do for stuff like that.”

“Are you applying anywhere in New York, Finn?” Kurt asked.

“Nah, I no idea what I want to do.”

“So, you’re not going to go with Rachel to New York?”

“That’s not for like another almost year. I don’t know.”

“Finn, Kurt’s right,” Carole said. “You can’t just wait until the end of summer to decide. You have to apply now and get in places. Once you have acceptance letters, you can make your final choice between the places you get in.”

“I don’t even want to go to college. I hate school.”

“Alright.” Kurt said. “Are you just going to move to New York with Rachel and get a job?”

“I guess I could.”

“Whatever Finn. I’m not leaving things up to chance. I’m working on everything now so I actually have a chance of getting out of Lima.”

The rest of dinner was eaten in silence.

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Kurt went back to his room, turned his laptop on, and resumed his research from earlier that afternoon. What he found out actually surprised him. Two of the top 25 musical theater programs in the US were actually IN Ohio - one in Akron and one in Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati program being ranked significantly higher, in the top five, and the tuition was one-third the cost of the one in Akron and less than one-fifth the cost of the programs in New York.   He definitely needed to plan a trip to Cincinnati to check the school out.

He did his homework quickly. Afterwards, he switched to reading the books about applying to college. What he already knew came screaming off the pages. He was woefully underprepared to fill out the applications. He did not have enough extra-curricular activities. No one wanted him in any of the afterschool clubs, so he had avoided those.

He had Glee, but that wasn’t enough. He had never sung lead in a competition and they hadn’t done that well at Nationals. He had the two competitions with the Warblers. He could list the duet he had with Blaine. He had no acting roles besides Krupke, who didn’t even sing or dance - unless he could list the Rocky Horror Picture Show that was never actually performed for an audience.

He had worked, but it was for his dad, which didn’t make it look like had to put much effort into getting or keeping the job. He had his ASE certifications. He could list those and maybe get some more before it was time to turn the applications in.

What else was there? The only thing that came to mind was rejoining the Cheerios. Could he withstand an entire school year of Coach Sue’s weigh-ins and food policing? He had gotten taller since the last time he was on the squad and hadn’t gained any weight. Maybe he could slip in under the radar and stay there. It was a chance to shine, which he obviously was not going to get through Glee. He’d have to really consider it.

He saw a listing for a website about scholarships in one of the books. He bookmarked it so he could look at it more. He packed up his schoolbooks in his satchel and the library books and his laptop in another bag. He would leave the second bag in his car during school.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After school, Kurt headed straight to Dalton. He was immediately recognized by the secretary and given a pass to be in the building until curfew. He headed to the Warblers practice room hoping to find that Sebastian was still hanging around after rehearsal. If not, he hoped to find someone who remembered him and get Sebastian’s number.

He found Sebastian sitting on one of the couches reading a textbook. He sat down on the couch leaving enough space between them that someone else could sit down.

Sebastian looked up from his textbook. “Well, if it isn’t the runway wannabe. Why are you here?”

“I actually came to talk to you.” Kurt tried to keep from fidgeting with his hands.

“You drove all the way from Lima to talk to me when we’re going out in West Lima tonight? What was so important that you needed to spend three extra hours driving today?”

“What?”

“I guess Blaine didn’t tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Kurt looked totally lost.

“The three of us are going out tonight.” He lowered his voice to lower than a whisper. “I have your fake IDs.”

“What?” He was completely lost at that point.

“Being hard of hearing isn’t going to make it easy to succeed in theater.”

“I’m not hard of hearing. I just have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“We’ll talk about that later. What did you want to talk to me about?”

“First, I just want to ask you a question. How many times have you and Blaine gone out for coffee?”

“Um.” He thought about it. “Four, if you count the first time we had coffee here. I’ve driven to Lima once. He’s driven here twice since the day he brought the tickets.”

“I see. And when did you find out about me?”

“From him - when you walked up to the table yesterday. From the other Warblers, back at the beginning of the semester - so about 2 months ago.”

“I see.” Kurt still looked curious, but not as confused.

“As for knowing about NYADA and what not - if you don’t want people you don’t know to know things about you, I’d suggest getting Rachel Berry to stop openly posting on her Facebook page about your joint activities, like attending the NYADA mixer and her plans for you to be her best gay in New York.”

“She did NOT say that did she?” Kurt asked indignantly.

“She didn’t have to. She’s running against you for senior class president. She strings you along, but takes what you need. Just like Blaine.”

“You’re very full of yourself.”

“Nah. I’m just good at reading people. And you are a self-deprecating, self-defeating person who lets people walk all over you in the name of friendship and/or love.”

“Wow. So, what is it that we are doing this evening that I have yet to be informed of?”

Sebastian answered nearly silently again. “Going to Scandals.”

Kurt shrugged. “That means nothing to me.”

Still silently speaking, “It’s a gay bar in West Lima.”

“Oh. Why do we need to go there?”

“To dance, to relax, to have fun. Be ourselves somewhere.”

“I can do those things in my bedroom and not risk the things I’d be risking by going there.”

“Live a little.” Sebastian poked fun at him.

“Or die a lot, if we get caught,” he whispered.

“Suit yourself. I’m meeting Blaine there at 8:00.”

“On a school night?”

“I don’t have school tomorrow. I’m going to crash in Lima and pretend I went home for the night.”

“I see.”

“Why did you come all the way here?”

“Well, it seems that Blaine knows you quite well. I figured we should get to know each other.” This time, Kurt’s answer was more confident, or at least he hoped it seemed that way.

“Sizing me up. Well, the truth is Blaine’s cute. He’s got a nice ass. I haven’t gotten any action around here and he likes the attention, which makes me wonder why he’s looking since I met you. You are all kinds of hot. You’re a good tailor. Your knock-off replicas are good. I’m sure no one around here appreciates your eccentric tastes though.”

“Thank you? And how do you know they’re replicas?”

“My stepmother is a huge Vogue fan. The magazines lay in the library on the table next to where she reads.”

“I see.”

“And why I know they’re replicas is because I’ve seen the price tags on the real pieces and no one whose father is a mechanic could afford to wear $3000 shirts.”

“Point taken. We are far from poor, but no, I don’t have $3000 to spend on a shirt.”

“I will say you rock the tight jeans. Better ass than Blaine for sure.”

Kurt blushed. “Thanks?”

“Has no one ever complimented you?”

“Not really. Actually no. Not unless you count Tina and Mercedes.”

“Not really,” he scoffed. “Not unless they were hitting on you because they’re obviously too dumb to know that straight boys don’t dress fashionably unless their mothers or sisters pick out their clothes.”

“Well, Mercedes had a crush on me sophomore year.”

Sebastian laughed.

“I dated a cheerleader later that same year during my nearly weeklong attempt to be straight,” he said somewhere between snidely and teasingly.

“Now, that I would have paid to see. Flannel, ball cap, baggy jeans?”

“You got it. Oh, and I sang Mellencamp in Glee,” he said, eyes looking up to the side tilting his head, in a semi-condescending way, mocking himself.

“Nice.”

“So, tell me about you.”

“I’m 18. I grew up in France. If I can manage to pass all of the asinine classes I’m in, I’ll graduate in May, but I don’t know if I can keep up with the workload. I don’t have the cultural references and background I need. I’m taking American History and American Literature in addition to US Government and my other six classes, which is tough. I’m taking French though, so that’s an easy A.”

“When you say ‘in addition to’, you mean you’re taking nine classes?”

“Two of them are independent study – the American Lit and History courses. I have to do all of the reading, take the tests, and write the papers on my own time.”

“So, why are you driving to Lima 90 minutes each way wasting time getting coffee with Blaine?”

“It seemed like something with a good potential for some occasional fun.”

“Fun?”

“Yeah. You do know what the word means, right?” he slid the textbook off his lap and turned more towards Kurt.

“Well, you having the type of ‘fun’ I’m used to hearing about with my boyfriend doesn’t work for me.”

“Well, to be honest, he didn’t seem that into you given that he’d never mentioned you. And originally my main goal was actually to get him to come back to Dalton. The fanboys here drive me nuts with their ‘Blaine this’ and ‘Blaine that’ talk. And if he were here, I wouldn’t have to listen to that anymore.”

“I see. Well, I don’t know what to tell you about that. He’d be about 10 weeks behind on schoolwork, but it can be done. I showed up with only 4 weeks left in the semester last fall and got caught up.”

“That’s impressive.”

“Thanks?”

“There you go again with the questioning the compliments.”

“I’ll work on it.”

Sebastian laughed.

“So, you’re trying to lure him back here and have ‘fun’ with him, the type of fun remains yet undefined.”

“Well, he didn’t really seem all that committed since he talked about the musical and his potential for being the lead male in New Directions and going to Nationals every time we got together. And honestly, he really seemed to be into the attention.”

“I see. Well, whatever his level of commitment, he hasn’t broken it off with me, so he’s still off-limits.”

“I got that. Now that we’ve gotten together several times, I’m not sure how dedicated I am to pursue getting him back to Dalton where his fanboys think he belongs because of his propensity for stealing people’s roles. I’m not sure I want him back here challenging me since I’m lead Warbler now.”

Kurt’s phone buzzed with a text. “Excuse me.” Kurt stood up and moved away from the couch and read the message, which informed him of their evening with Sebastian in Lima.

“Well, there you go. My presence has been requested this evening at, well you know where. He says he’ll pick me up at 7:30.”

“I’ll just give you the things I have for you while you’re here.”

“Alright.” Kurt sat down on the arm of the couch and faced Sebastian.

“They’re in my room. I’ll go get them in a few minutes.”

“Why are you here for your junior or senior year or whatever? Where were you before?”

“In Paris.”

“For how long?”

“My whole life.”

“Why would you come here for your last year of school?”

“Wasn’t by choice. Trust me. If I can’t manage to do well in all 9 of my classes and I end up having to drop some, I’ll get the great pleasure of staying an extra year. My father does not know about the extra classes.”

“You want to go back.”

“As soon as possible. Living in central Ohio was not part of my plan.”

“How did you end up here?”

“Well, my father told my mother he would only pay for my schooling if I came to Dalton, meaning that I’d no longer be able to attend the private school I’ve been going to in Paris.”

“And your mother sent you here.”

“Yes.”

“Do you at least get along with your father?”

Sebastian snorted. “My father is a conservative Republican politician with an American wife and two more kids.”

“So, why are we going where we’re going? Are you trying to get sent home?”

“He lives on the south side of Columbus. The likelihood anyone he knows will be where we’re going is slim to none.”

“Well, as I learned in math, the distance between any two numbers is infinite. There is always a chance between slim and none, which is why I’ve decided that I will not be going tonight. I’ll change the plans. I’ll be his ride home, but that’s it. You pick him up and take him. I’ll pick him up in time to get home by curfew, which is 11:00pm on a weeknight for me.”

“Live a little.”

“Not happening. My dad is running for Congress. Me getting picked up…there…will not help him win. Why did you come at me so strong yesterday? You were really insulting for someone who has said halfway decent things to me today.”

“I see things you don’t. You’ve lived a small town life. Your so-called ‘bestie’ is using you. If New Directions is the only thing on your CV, you have zero chance of getting into NYADA. Don’t just apply there. At least apply other places. I’ve only heard you sing ‘Candles’, which was a terrible choice for a competition piece. You did okay, but it wasn’t a good fit for your voice or maybe it was arranged in the wrong key. Maybe you have potential. I don’t know. But your boyfriend is the lead in the play and you aren’t. He’s certain that he’s going to be the male lead of your Glee Club soon. What else do you have going for you? You were at Dalton last year where there was no musical to be part of. What role do you have in West Side Story?”

“Krupke.”

“He doesn’t even sing or dance.”

“I know.” Kurt looked at the time on his phone and sighed loudly. “Well, this has been an unusual afternoon and I’m not sure what to think. You keep what you were going to give me and find someone else who wants it. Just give Blaine his when you pick him up. Text him to get his address. I’ll find the address of the place and be there at 10:30 to pick him up. I have to go or I’ll be late to dinner.” Kurt stood up.

“Wait, before you go, give me your phone.” Sebastian reached out.

Kurt handed it to him.

He put his number in and handed it back.

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Kurt drove back to Lima with no more clarity than he had left with. The truth was that Blaine was dating Sebastian in the same way that he had dated Kurt. But Kurt knew that if he asked Blaine to stop, that he would argue that there was nothing going on, but that’s how Blaine felt about the months they had spent together. Sebastian didn’t seem to view the non-dates as completely platonic either since Blaine never mentioned Kurt to him.

Kurt went home and slid right into his spot for dinner. He ate quickly, thanked Carole, and went straight to his room to get his homework done.

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Before he left, he texted Carole and told her that he had to leave at 10:00, but that he’d be back at 11:00 – that Blaine needed a ride home. He told her he was taking her car so he could just leave without playing musical cars since she was parked behind him.

Kurt pulled up at 10:20, which was a little early, but he had left with extra time since he wasn’t familiar with the area. Blaine wasn’t standing inside the door ready to be picked up, which made sense since Kurt was early. But Kurt just wanted to get the task completed and go back home. He pulled into a spot near the entrance. He walked over to the door and opened it just enough to see the bouncer. He stepped inside.

“I’m someone’s ride. I need to pick him up.”

The guy just nodded.

Kurt stood against the door and texted Blaine, but he didn’t respond. He got the bouncer’s attention. “Any chance you could go get him? I’m not 21.”

“Yeah, sure, kid. What’s he look like?”

Kurt described Blaine. The bouncer got up and returned with Blaine a couple of minutes later.

“Thanks.”

Kurt got Blaine out the door, barely.

“This is the best night of my life.”

“Okay.”

“It’s the best night of my life.”

“I wanna live here. I wanna live here. And I just wanna make art and help people.”

Kurt laughed at his nonsense and struggled to get him to the car.

“You could certainly help people make fires with your breath.”

“Hey, come on. I only had one beer.”

“Sure, you did.”

“Hey, kiss me.”

Kurt opened the back door of the car. Rebuffing Blaine’s request he said, “Oh, no, no, no.”

“Kiss me. Come on.”

“You’re riding in the back. Come on. Lay down.”

Kurt struggled to get Blaine into the backseat, even though it shouldn’t have been that hard since he had taken Carole’s car and it wasn’t as if they had to climb up into it to get in.

“All right. All right.” Blaine said, acquiescing and getting in.

“Less likely to throw up that way.”

As soon as Blaine was completely in the backseat, he pulled Kurt down on top of him and started kissing his neck and wrapped his arms around Kurt preventing him from getting up easily. Kurt struggled.

“Okay, okay, oh. Alright!” Kurt did not want Blaine to touch him that way. “Blaine!”

Blaine had pulled his shirt loose and stuck his hand on Kurt’s back. He had let go with his other hand and had it on the side of Kurt’s face.

“Alright! Cold hands!” Kurt squawked. He pushed up and back from Blaine a bit.

“Hey, Kurt, let’s just do it. I… I want you.”

Kurt struggled to keep Blaine’s hands off of him. “No! No.”

“I want you so bad.” Blaine managed to get his hand behind Kurt’s neck and pull him forward again.

“No,” he repeated emphatically.

Blaine got his other hand behind his neck and pulled him down on to him again.

“No, Blaine. No! Stop it” Kurt broke free from one hand.

“I know you wanted to do it in a field of lilacs, with Sting playing in the background and all that. But who cares where we are? It’s all about us, right?”

Kurt had managed to get free from both of Blaine’s hands around his neck, but he was still struggling to keep Blaine’s hands off of him. “Right, it’s about us!” He finally managed to get free from Blaine completely and backed out of the car. “Which is why I don’t want to do it on a night that you spent half of dancing with another guy and that your sober enough to remember it the next day!” By this point, Kurt was yelling panickedly.

Blaine slid over to follow him out of the backseat. “Why are you yelling at me?”

“Because I’ve never felt less like being intimate with someone, and either you can’t tell or you just don’t care.”

Blaine got the rest of the way out of the backseat and started walking away from the car.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m sorry if I’m trying to be spontaneous and fun.” Sarcasm dripped from his words as he threw his arms up in the air melodramatically from about 10 feet from the back of the car.

Kurt was panting and didn’t know what to say.

Blaine put his arms down and put his hands on his hips. “I think I’m just gonna walk home.”

Kurt slammed the back door of the car and got in the driver’s seat, then got right back out and shut the car door. He took off after Blaine.

“Blaine, stop.”

“What?” Blaine turned around.

“Look, if you don’t want me to take you home, you need to go back inside and find Sebastian and let him take you home or go inside and sober up and call a cab. We’re 10 miles or more from where you live. Even in the daylight, sober, it would take you two to three hours to walk home.”

“Right, right. Too far to walk.”

Kurt managed to corral him and get him to walk back to the building without touching him. Kurt opened the door and Blaine went back inside. Kurt stopped inside the door again.

“He changed his mind and doesn’t want me to take him home. Any chance you could grab the tall guy in the green and blue striped shirt so I can tell him?”

“Yeah, sure. Hold on.”

Sebastian came over to the entrance.

Kurt spoke as quietly as possible. “Look. You got him drunk or let him get drunk. Either way, you sober him up and get him home. I’m barely going to make curfew and he’s not being cooperative with me. I don’t have time to argue with him anymore and get back home on time.”

“Yeah. Okay. Something’s going on that you’re not saying.”

“And I’m going to continue to not say it. I have to go.” Kurt turned and walked out. He got back in Carole’s car and drove back home.

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He managed to escape detection even though he was 10 minutes late. Once he was in his room, he showered and got in bed. He had too much on his mind to do anything else.

He lay there, unable to sleep. What was going on? “I just can’t stand to be apart from the person I love.” was what he had heard just 9 weeks prior when Blaine showed up at McKinley. “I just want you to be comfortable, so I can be comfortable.” was just last week. They’d never so much as touched each other below the belt, or above the belt without clothing, or made out lying on top of each other or anything. He wasn’t even sure that the kissing they had done could be considered making out.

They dated for a few days before he went back to McKinley, then for a couple of months long-distance dating with Blaine working at Six Flags near Chicago, staying in a small apartment with a group of students that also worked at the theme park. He came back the week before school started, and then a week after school started, he surprised Kurt by enrolling at McKinley.

What was going on? Why was he seeking Sebastian out to spend time with him?

He had too many unanswered questions, but he refocused. What was he going to do about what had happened in the parking lot? He knew some people got handsy when they were drunk, but that didn’t change how violating it had felt to say ‘no’ repeatedly and not be listened to.

How was having sex in the back of Carole’s car going to be ‘fun’? ‘Spontaneous’, yes, due to the lack of proper preparation, but definitely not ‘fun’ for one of them. Kurt could never bring himself to do something that would hurt Blaine and since there was no evidence that Blaine had anything with him, it sure looked like Blaine didn’t have the same compulsion when it came to doing something that would definitely hurt Kurt.

Taking Tony had hurt, really hurt. But what happened in the parking lot went beyond stealing a part in a play. It actually went beyond what Dave had done to him. Why did he feel like he was supposed to be okay with what Blaine had done considering how angry and hurt he had been over what Dave had done?

He thought Dave hated him. He thought Blaine loved him.

But did that matter? Did the fact that Blaine had said that he loved him change what had actually happened? He had actually fought harder to get away from Blaine than he had from Dave. He had only had to push Dave back once. He had repeatedly told Blaine no and had to struggle to get free.

If Tina came to him and told him the exact same story, but she had been the one in Kurt’s role, what would he tell her? What would his dad say if he knew?

Tears flowed down his cheeks. He grabbed his iPod and turned on his Madonna playlist and started to sing quietly to block out his thoughts for a while.

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Thursday seemed to drag on and on. He and Blaine didn’t have any classes together and Blaine never showed up at lunch. The dress rehearsal replaced Glee Club after school. Kurt watched Blaine perform and he was off. His focus just wasn’t where it needed to be. He knew that talking to Blaine before the show was a bad idea, so he left before Blaine had finished getting back into his regular clothes.

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Once the show was over that evening, Kurt changed and went to look for Blaine. He found him on the stage rehearsing part of a dance that he had messed up during the performance.

“That the beauty of the stage. You get to do it again tomorrow night,” Kurt said from the side of the stage. “Your friends were all here. The Warblers. Sebastian.”

Blaine stopped practicing and approached Kurt. “Sebastian doesn’t mean anything to me, Kurt.”

“I realize that may be what you think. But reality says that if you spend a lot of time with someone one-on-one, that the person probably means something to you. If you mean that you aren’t interested in him romantically, I can accept that as how you see things right now. And maybe he’s just a potential friend, but that still makes him mean something. He’s a real person. If his company means nothing to you, you wouldn’t keep seeking him out to spend time with him. I’m not one of those people who controls what their significant others do, but you need to think about your actions. I don’t think he viewed your non-dates any different than I viewed our non-dates a year ago. I thought you were interested in me romantically then. You went out of your way to spend time with me. You are leading him on, just like you led me on last year.”

“What?”

“Your obliviousness is getting old. You’ve been told before that you lead people on. I told you last year at Valentine’s Day that I thought you were going to sing to me, but you sang to Jeremiah. Are you sure that Sebastian sees your non-dates as just hanging out?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you ever talk to him about us? He sure looked surprised to meet me the Lima Bean the other day.”

“Oh, I guess not. I’ve been really excited about the play.”

“I know, but Blaine, people don’t generally drive 90 minutes each way to see someone just to hang out. He goes to an all-boys school. There are 600 other guys he could just ‘hang out’ with. Guys only put that much effort into something that has more of a payout.”

“Payout?” Seemingly confused, he asked, “So, you think he’s trying to get me to hook up with him?”

“I’m not sure exactly his level of interest. I don’t know him well enough to know the answer to that. But I do know that you are leading him on. If that’s not what you’re interested in, you need to make that more clear to him.”

“Okay. But obviously I’m not interested because I already have a boyfriend – you.” He reached to take Kurt’s hand, but didn’t succeed.

Kurt pulled his hand behind his back. “Well, that’s not going to be an issue for you anymore. I spent a lot of time thinking after what happened last night. I’m not a gay bar superstar. I’m a romantic. You know that. You’ve known that since, well basically since we met. You obviously enjoyed yourself immensely last night and that is never going to be my scene. And I am not comfortable around you when you’ve been drinking.”

“I’ll quit. I mean I won’t drink anymore.” He shifted his weight again.

“Blaine, there is more than just the drinking going on. Come sit down.” Kurt sat on the edge of the stage and Blaine sat next to him. “We’ve been dating 7 months.”

“Right,” he nodded.

“Last Friday, I asked you about your interest in moving our relationship forward to something beyond just kissing. And you said my layers were a problem and that you had your right hand to deal with any desires you might have. You said you wanted me to be comfortable so you could be comfortable. But I thought about it. I don’t think that’s the issue. I was sitting on your bed in your room in your house without any adults home. I straight up offered myself to you and you turned me down. You didn’t have to say ‘let’s have sex now’ to accept my offer. We could have tried French kissing, maybe even made out on your bed. But instead you hopped up on the bed, gave me a quick peck on the lips and went back to dancing.”

“I remember.”

“So, last night’s actions were such a 180 from last week that I had to ask myself what was the difference? When I was offering you something and we had all the privacy we needed, why were you uninterested? But then last night, you weren’t prepared. I was definitely not prepared. And you were so forceful that I was genuinely afraid. If you had gotten your way last night, I wouldn’t be able to walk today.”

“I was prepared, but I didn’t intend to scare you. I didn’t go about it the right way.” He tried to look at Kurt, but ended up looking away.

“Obviously. I mean if you had wanted to make out, like French kissing and maybe, let me feel you through your clothes while you did the same, and if we made out until we both came from that? Something that was along the road to what you were trying to do last night? I would have gone along with that. I’d have even been late for curfew to do that in the car with you.”

“I wasn’t thinking. I was drunk.” He kept pressing non-existent wrinkles in his pants.

“I know. I could smell the alcohol on your breath from two feet away.”

“Are you breaking up with me?”

“What happened in the car last night was unacceptable. Let’s say you had a teenage sister. If the exact same thing had happened to her last night, what would you say to her?”

“Oh.”

“Right. What you did was a form of sexual assault. No, you didn’t manage to get my clothes off, but not for lack of effort on your part. If I had been a smaller person, you could have succeeded. You only stopped because I defended myself and kept pushing your hands off of me until I could climb out of the car. If I had been under you, things might have turned out differently. Just because I managed to get away doesn’t change your intent. I didn’t just wake up today hating you instead of loving you like I have for ages. But I can’t stay with someone who would do what you did last night. I have some self-respect, Blaine.”

“I love you.” He reached for Kurt’s hand, yet again unsuccessfully.

Kurt put his hands in his lap and interlaced his fingers. “I know that you say that you do, but last night you showed that you don’t respect me. What you did changed how I feel. I don’t feel the same as I did yesterday. I still love you, but I’m afraid of you now. You broke the bond of trust we had. And that bond was already on really thin ice. You said you’d let me have the lead so I could hopefully get into a good college. What did sabotaging my college application gain you? I mean, you were already going to get leads in competitions that I will never get.” Kurt looked up and looked Blaine in the eyes. “I supported you. I’ve been kind and loving even though you took what I really needed. And last night, you broke what little trust I still had. I can’t just overlook the fact that you always put yourself and your needs and wants first.”

“I just wanted to play Tony well so badly.”

“And you got it, but you’ve lost me. I can’t be your boyfriend anymore. We don’t have to end this hating each other. You can go back to Dalton next week, if you want. Obviously the Warblers would take you back with open arms.”

Blaine didn’t say anything.

“Or you can stay here. We only have Glee together.” Kurt’s phone buzzed. He pulled it out of his pocket to read the text. “Rachel’s looking for you. She says you were supposed to be at Breadstix a half hour ago.”

“She’s right. Artie’s having a cast party. I wanted you to come with me.”

“No, thanks. Obviously, my presence wasn’t on anyone’s radar since, although I am in the play, I was not invited. But we can walk out together so that neither one of us is in the parking lot alone. Let’s go.” He stood back up and waited for Blaine to follow him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour after he had gotten home, Kurt’s phone rang. He mostly got texts, so a call was unusual. He swiped to answer and sat on the edge of his bed.

“Blaine?”

“It’s really over, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Blaine. Look, I was honest with you earlier. I have always been honest with you. I have loved you and been in love with you for a long time. But no matter how much I love you, I have to have some self-respect. I can’t just continue to allow you to hurt me. I deserve to be with someone who doesn’t hurt me.”

“You’re right. You do. I’m…I just want that someone to be me.”

“Well, right now, I don’t think you’re ready to be anyone’s boyfriend. I should have listened to you last year. When you told me that you didn’t want to mess up our friendship by dating me. You told me you weren’t good at romance. I think a more honest version of that statement is that you’re not good at putting someone else first. Until you get to the point where you can put someone else’s needs or wants at least at an equal level with your own, you’re not ready to be anyone’s boyfriend.”

“I thought I was losing you last year. I didn’t want to lose you. Now, I’m losing you.”

“Blaine, I don’t know what else to say to you right now. I can’t be your boyfriend. I can’t do this. If you ever get over your incessant need to be the center of attention and get your way all the time, maybe you’ll be ready to look for a boyfriend again. Though to be honest, I think you’ll need to look for a boyfriend that doesn’t have aspirations of being a performer, unless he’s an instrumentalist or someone who works on the sets. I have to go now.”

Kurt ended the call and set his phone to silent and fell back onto his bed, tears streaming down his cheeks.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Friday at lunch, Kurt called the university and made an appointment to visit and speak with someone about the musical theater program for the following Tuesday. He headed to Miss Pillsbury’s office to get an excused absence Tuesday for the out-of-town college visit. He went through the rest of his day as usual.

He worked at the shop for a few hours after school and was back at the school to give his best Krupke performance. He asked Lauren to get one of the AV guys to film just the parts of the show when he was on stage.  

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

He used the weekend to go through his room. He had gotten the “I’m going to college and moving on” motivation and sorted through everything in his room. He started with his bookshelves before he went to school for the matinee performance. He tossed their prom picture from the year before. He took the frame, the scepter and the crown and put them in a box along with some other things he found around his room that he didn’t need anymore.

He went home after the matinee performance and collected up everything he had that belonged to Blaine and put it in a small box. After that, he tackled his dresser because he knew he didn’t have a lot of time to start a huge project before dinner. After he ate, he went back to school for the evening performance.

Afterwards, he asked Blaine to follow him to the Navigator and gave him the box. Seeing Blaine’s face when he realized what was in the box made Kurt question his resolve to follow through with breaking up with him. He had to force himself to get in and shut the door and drive away because all he really wanted to do was hug Blaine.

Kurt grabbed some granola bars and fruit and stayed in his room all day Sunday. He cleaned out everything he owned. He packed up what he thought he could sell and everything else went into donation boxes.

He hung up the few costumes he thought he might be able to reuse, like the Victor/Victoria outfit, his Riff Raff costume, and a few others. He added “buy large garment bag” to his list of things he needed to do.

The rest of the costumes went into the donation box after he photographed them. Halloween was in a little more than a week. If he dropped the boxes off when he was in Cincinnati, someone would be more likely to want them than if he dropped them off in Lima.

After a while, he lost interest in the reorganization of his closet and decided that getting rid of what he didn’t need or didn’t fit was good enough for one day.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

He carried the boxes to the Navigator the next morning before anyone got up.

He went to school and did his best to not let on that anything was wrong. He was testing the limits of his acting, but he kept refocusing his mind on his trip the next day and it helped.

After school, he went to Sue’s office and asked to rejoin the Cheerios. He was summarily put on the scale, and much to Kurt’s pleasure, he was not overweight, even according to Sue’s standards. They negotiated the terms of his involvement.

She handed him two uniforms and a Cheerios backpack, which he had refused the last time, but agreed to as a concession to get what he wanted – a male letterman jacket, only wearing the uniform on varsity game days, and no weekly weigh in.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Tuesday he didn’t go to school. He headed to Cincinnati first thing in the morning. About 2.5 hours later, he was sitting in an office waiting for the person he was meeting.

A guy in his early 20s walked in the door and said, “Kurt Hummel?”

Kurt looked up. He stood up and walked over to the guy, who was about 6 feet tall, had medium brown hair, cut similarly to Finn and was dressed casually in fitted jeans, a button up shirt, and Sperry’s.

“I’m Matt. Matt Shiffley.”

“Nice to meet you.” Kurt offered his hand, which Matt shook.

“Let’s go this way. We’ll go down to my office. We’ll it’s a shared office, but it’s mine for the next two hours.”

They got inside this office and Matt indicated for Kurt to sit down, which he did.

“So, you’re interested in studying musical theater here?”

“I am. I’ve come in to see the school and find out more about it, but mostly because I’m really concerned that I don’t have the qualifications to even be considered for admission.”

“And why’s that?”

Kurt took a deep breath. “I’m a countertenor and my choir director doesn’t see me as leading man material. Actually no one at my school sees me as leading man material.”

“So, you audition but never get chosen?”

“Well, our director never really auditions for the lead, he just chooses.”

“I see. Do you have any experience in acting?”

“Last year, the director chose the Rocky Horror Picture Show as our fall musical.”

Matt’s face changed to bewilderment.

“Exactly. Once people in leadership found out, the show was cancelled. I was Riff Raff, but I’m not sure it counts for anything. This past weekend we performed West Side Story and I played Krupke,” he said less than enthusiastically.

“Unusual for someone who I’m assuming can sing and dance to be cast as Krupke.”

“I’ll confess that I eavesdropped on the decision-making process for Tony and the teacher, counselor, and student involved in co-directing the musical decided that I am too feminine to play Tony. That is the general consensus period. I am too feminine to be considered for a male lead.” He looked down at his lap, and then back up.

“You don’t strike me as overly feminine. I would have guessed gay because you look like you belong in a fashion magazine. Your speech pattern isn’t really all that feminine, even though your speaking voice is a bit high for a guy your age.”

“Well, you’re right. I am gay and I do love fashion.”

“Do you do design work?”

“Yes.” He smiled.

“We’ll talk about that too, but back to acting for now. Did you bring a video of you in West Side Story?”

“I did.” He pulled the video up on his phone and handed it to Matt.

He watched the different clips, laughing here and there.

“Well, your portrayal of Krupke was hilarious and not the least bit effeminate.”

“Thank you.” He sat up a bit straighter.

“What do you think sets you apart from the guy who got the lead?”

“People take him seriously as a man.”

“And why’s that?”

“I’m honestly not sure. He dresses far more outlandishly than I do as far as color schemes. Maybe it’s just the fact that he has a deeper speaking voice and more masculine traits? He’s shorter than me, but has larger hands, broader shoulders, more angular facial features.”

“That’s probably part of it. But I think part of it is probably the way he presents himself. If I were to guess, he’s very into himself and very self-confident, at least in his outward portrayal of himself.”

“Yes.”

“And you are very hesitant. You come across as expecting me to dislike you or not want to help you.”

“Years of life experience.” Kurt’s voice waivered slightly.

“You’ve been bullied.”

“Yes.” He nodded.

“And not just by people your own age.”

“Right.”

“Alright. Here’s what I think. I’d like to take you on as a private acting student. I will offer this arrangement. I will give you private lessons for free in exchange for being able to use whatever I learn from helping you in any paper that I write. Of course, I will give you a pseudonym. I teach a few other high school students, so my professors won’t know who you are by your real name.”

“Your professors?” Kurt tilted his head, a bit confused.

“I forgot to mention that part. I am in my first year as a Master’s student here. The AI’s, associate instructors, all share this office. I am not a voice teacher, so I cannot help you with anything that might need to be addressed about your singing voice. I can recommend someone though, if you’re interested.”

“Definitely. I’ve never had any training. I’ve gone to a couple of people. I was told to come back when my voice changed. I’m 18. I think that’s unlikely at this point.”

“What your range?”

“A2-A5.”

“That’s impressive. Do you have any videos of you singing?”

“I don’t have anything really recent, but I have one from last year.” Kurt pulled up the video of him singing “Le Jazz Hot” and handed his phone back to Matt.

He watched, clearly enjoying Kurt’s version. “That was spectacular. Did you make the outfit?”

“Yes.” A smile slipped through.

“Was that for a talent show or something?”

“No, we were assigned to do duets, but we had an odd number of students. I had asked a new guy to sing with me and he agreed, but then I was pressured into backing out because I didn’t want him to end up bullied for singing with me. So, I sang that as my duet.”

“Who did the choreography?”

“Me.”

“I think you are less underprepared than you think. If you have any more videos of that level of theatricality, those should be included on your CV.”

“I directed and played a role in a reimagining of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’. I directed and choreographed it and did the costuming.”

“See, now that shows ambition. That should be included on your CV as well. Have you been in anything besides choir?”

“I just rejoined the cheerleading squad yesterday. I was a cheerleader my sophomore year as well. I sang a 14-minute Celine Dion medley in French. We won the national title that year.”

“That’s impressive. I’m sure there’s a video of that somewhere too.”

“It was aired on ESPN.”

“I think what you lack most is confidence in your own person – in who you are. When I see you on stage, you are incredibly confident. Not just anyone can get up and belt out a Julie Andrews song like that.”

“Thank you.” Kurt blushed slightly.

“So, I know it takes you a little over two hours of driving to get here.”

Kurt nodded.

“And you obviously can’t skip school every week to come.”

“Right.”

“So, could you come on Mondays and leave directly when school ends? Could you be here by 5:30? We could work from 5:30-7:00. You could be back home by 9:30. Wait, I wanted you to see Trevor. So, would you be available Sunday mornings?”

“Sure.”

“Alright, can you email me those videos you showed me and the others – the cheerleading, the ‘Vogue’ video, and if you have any video footage of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, send that too so I can show it to Trevor.”

“Sure. Just write your email address on that sheet with Trevor’s name.”

Kurt put the paper in his satchel.

“So, I have an assignment for you.”

“Alright.”

“I want you to observe the least overly masculine guy you know for the next few days. Not a gay guy. A straight guy.”

“Alright.”

“So, think through the guys you know. Think of someone who no one would pick out and assume that he’s gay, but if he were in a room full of guys he would be the least masculine of the group.”

Kurt sat and thought. “Probably Mike. He’s the best dancer in our group. He’s a little taller than me, slender, but muscular.”

“So, he walks more gracefully than the rest of the guys because he’s a dancer?”

“Yes. And he dresses less ‘macho’ or ‘frat boy wannabe’ than the rest of the guys.”

“Describe how he dresses.”

“Fitted jeans, but not skinny jeans. Shoes that are good for breakdancing. Plaid or striped button ups over t-shirts, neither one tucked in. Button up shirt left unbuttoned, sleeves rolled to mid-forearm. Not flannel.”

“So, could you achieve this look from clothes that you already own?”

“The jeans, probably not, but the rest, yes.”

“Alright, then your job is to go to Goodwill, or anywhere, and buy a pair of jeans that fit, but fit on you the way Mike’s pants fit. Wear the whole outfit when you come. Would Saturday work for you this week? I have an idea.”

“Sure. I can make anything work.”

“Alright. Meet me at this place.” He handed Kurt another piece of paper with the name of a park on it. If it’s chilly out, wear whatever you think Mike would wear as a jacket.”

“Got it. Should I bring my regular clothes with me?”

“Yes. Bring an entire outfit that you would normally go out in, including the jacket.”

“Alright. I can’t thank you enough for being willing to work with me. Is there something you need me to sign about letting you use me as research?”

“I’ll bring it Saturday.”

“So, watch Mike this week. Don’t be creepy of course, but try to sit where you can observe him.”

“Got it.”

“Now, let’s go on that tour I promised you on the phone.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The congressional race was entering the final phase. Everyone was tense. Kurt decided to wait until after the election to tell his dad that he had rejoined the Cheerios.

Blaine had been hanging around with Rachel a lot since they had been doing the play. Blaine never wanted them to do couple-y things at school, so they didn’t – to the point where no one even noticed they had broken up. It made things easier. No drama.

Kurt spent as much time observing Mike as he could get away with. He had his whole outfit ready for his lesson.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Wednesday during Glee, everyone was pretty down in the dumps. They only had 9 people left in New Directions, which was not enough to compete. Some of the band members were willing to fill in and be placeholders, but they weren’t strong singers.

Somehow, the idea of going to and getting Sam to come back to Ohio was brought up. Kurt wished he could be the one to go with Finn to see if Sam wanted to come back, but he had already missed school on Tuesday to go to Cincinnati.

Thursday afternoon, Sam came bounding into the room with his guitar, only to be met with an insult-fest a la Snixx. Kurt was so aggravated with her, but she left afterwards. He was happy to see Sam and excited that he was going to be staying at the Hudson-Hummel residence.

After school, Kurt offered to take Sam home so that Finn could take Rachel home and spend the afternoon with her. Kurt helped Sam carry the boxes that he and Finn had dropped off in the garage up to the guest room and then gave Sam privacy to put his stuff away and went to his room to do his homework.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Glee didn’t go well Friday after school. Blaine laid into Sam about how they didn’t need to “sell themselves” to win when Sam was trying to teach them how to do body rolls. The whole confrontation turned into a blow out and Blaine left and went to the gym to box. Finn went after him.

Kurt took Sam with him after school. They stopped by the shop and got another key made for the Navigator. Kurt had asked Burt to add Sam to his policy the day before since he didn’t have his own vehicle anymore. After they got the key, Kurt let Sam take the Navigator home while he stayed to put in a few hours at the shop to work. He rode home with Burt after they closed up.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Saturday morning he headed to the park in Cincinnati to meet Matt. He got out of the Navigator. Matt motioned him over to his car. He got in.

“You look good. Did you watch Mike this week?”

“Yes.” He turned to face Matt as much as he could.

“If you had to list five differences in your behavior and his what would they be?”

“Hmm. He doesn’t sit with his legs crossed. His gesturing is larger and less frequent. He barely says anything. He slouches in chairs. And there’s this unwritten bro code thing they’ve all got going on, like fist bumps and shoulder bumps and slaps to the back and whatnot that I do not know the rules to that Mike does perfectly.”

“Good observations. So, we are going to get out and you are going to let me teach you how to skateboard down there with those other guys. You are going to do your 100% best to behave the way Mike would behave in this situation, assuming that he doesn’t know how to skateboard.”

“Got it.”

“So, no squealing. No acting like you’re going to break a nail.”

Kurt rolled his eyes.

“Just covering the bases,” he teased. “Do not go overboard and try to act like one of the brutes from your football team or one of the guys the skanks at your school hang out with. Just a straight, quiet teen guy. Get out and let’s try this.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour later, the two of them got back in Matt’s car.

“So what did you learn?”

“I guess first and foremost that I am broadcasting ‘gay guy’ from my hairstyle, my clothes, and some body language. And that there’s a chance that I could pass for straight, just not the jock, man’s man, kind of straight guy.”

“That could come in time. You’re too uncomfortable with that to be able to portray that right now.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think you despise those types of men – for a variety of reasons.”

“Well, that’s true.”

“I think that you can’t allow yourself to see yourself that way because the last thing on earth you would want to be is one of them.”

“Okay.”

“Think about this. You audition for the ‘Sound of Music’ and you get cast as Rolf.”

“Alright. That could work.”

“But he’s a Nazi. But the play itself is very flowery and sweet and doesn’t show the brutality of the reality of being a Nazi. Contrast that with taking a role in a movie as a Nazi who perpetrated multitudes of horrible crimes and you have to reinact some them.”

“I see. It would be a lot easier for me to play the first type of Nazi than the second.”

“So, it’s going to be easier for you to pretend to be the kind of guy that Mike is than it would be to pretend to be someone you dislike who is toxically male. The trick is though, to be a good actor, you need to be able to do both.”

“I get it. The last time I tried to pull of being more masculine, I took it too far and it wasn’t believable to the people around me. The people I have grown up around are probably never going to accept a version of me that is hyper-masculine.”

“Would you believe it if one of the brutes at your school came to school dressed in an outfit you would wear? Would you believe that he is gay or would you feel like you were being mocked?”

“Mocked for sure.” He pictured Azimio in skinny jeans and a sweater and had to keep himself from laughing.

“Okay. Next task. We’re going shopping. Don’t get too excited.”

Kurt laughed.

“Your task is to go in with me and get the sales person to offer you clothes they would offer Mike. And you absolutely cannot give off the vibe that you and I are a couple, but you can’t say anything like, ‘he’s my cousin’ or something.”

“Got it.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, that was a mixed bag. You managed to pull it off in GAP, but you lost it in Express.” They were sitting in Matt’s car talking after their mall trip.

“I know.” Kurt laughed at himself. “I got too excited. We don’t have an Express in Lima and I LOVE their clothes.”

“So, what did you learn?”

“If I’m going to portray a character, don’t let myself get caught up in my own personal preferences and I have to suppress my natural emotional responses to situations and remember that I’m someone else.”

“Good. Try this exercise again yourself a few times this next week. You will probably have to go to a different mall than you normally shop at. Also, try going to a gaming store and see if you can get the sales clerk to pay attention to you. I’m imagining that if you go in to those stores, you get ignored and whoever you’re with gets the sales clerk’s attention.”

“Definitely, even though I do actually play video games. I usually just buy them at Target or online.”

“Look interested when you go in. Work hard to make the sales clerk believe you’re there to buy something.”

“Got it.”

“The idea isn’t to change who you are because you are fine just the way you are. There’s nothing wrong with being gay and liking to dress well. But if you want to walk in to a cold audition and persuade the people you’re auditioning in front of that you can be a Nazi or a police officer or a CIA agent, you can’t walk in looking delicate and feminine, which is how you said the directors at school saw you. But at the same time, those brutes you know would have to tone it down a lot to get cast as the loving father or the swell uncle.”

“I get it. I’ll work on it more. What did you find out from Trevor?”

“How early is too early for you? Could you be here at 9:00 on Sunday mornings?”

“I suppose so.”

“Alright. So, I’ll get the address and send it to you. Wear these clothes and keep your gesturing down to a minimum and talk as little as possible when you come tomorrow. All I’ve told him is that you’re a countertenor wanting voice lessons. I decided to keep the videos until after you meet.”

“So, you want me to come back tomorrow morning?”

“I know. It’s a lot of driving in one weekend. Normally it will just be one day. I’ll meet with you at 10:00 and we’ll do real acting lessons for an hour from now on. The assignments will be up to you to do on your own or some we might do together after the hour is up.”

“Alright. I’ll come back tomorrow morning.” Kurt unbuckled his seat belt.

“Be prepared to sing for him. Pick two songs - one to show off your lower range and one to show off your higher range. They don’t need to be perfect. He’s going to work to improve your skill. He just needs an idea of your range and skill level.”

“Thanks.” Kurt reached for the door handle.

“Bring your regular clothes tomorrow too. I might have another idea, but we’ll see.”

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow at 10:00. And I’ll meet Trevor at this church at 9:00.”

Kurt got out of Matt’s car, got back into his Navigator, and headed back to Lima.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt needed to tell Burt about the acting and voice lessons since he had already missed work several days. He stopped by the shop instead of heading home. Even though it was closed, Burt was there working on some things that he had let slide due to the election.

“Dad, I’m sorry I was gone again today. I just had to get this set up. I won’t be going on weekdays or Saturdays anymore – just Sunday mornings.”

“Alright. This has to do with applying for college still doesn’t it?”

“Yes. I will tell you, but you can’t tell Finn. I’m applying to some other places besides New York. I know that New York is my dream, but my dream can’t kill my future. The cost of those schools is so high that I’d have to get offered scholarships to make it even remotely reasonable. I want to go to college to learn, not to become a slave to college debt for the first 10 years I get out of school.”

“You’re a smart kid. I won’t say anything to Finn. He’s not thinking about his future at all and needs to get with it.”

“So, I’m going back tomorrow morning and from now on the lessons will be on Sunday mornings. I’ll miss Sunday lunch every week, but it will at least be when I’m not already supposed to be doing something else.”

“Alright. Let’s head home for dinner.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sunday morning, Kurt arrived a few minutes early to meet Trevor. He was sitting in the only vehicle in the parking lot when Trevor got there. Trevor was about the same height as Kurt with wavy sandy blond, light brown hair that came down past his ears, just long enough to pull back into a pony tail. Kurt got out and grabbed his bag. Kurt followed him up to the building and Trevor let them in.

“My uncle is the associate pastor.”

“Ah.” Kurt followed Trevor to an upstairs room with a piano in it.

Trevor pulled a speaker out of his bag and sat it on the piano. “I’m assuming that you have a backing track for whatever you’re singing for me.”

“Yes.”

“Alright then. Let’s hear what you’ve got.”

Kurt sang “Defying Gravity” and “Something’s Coming”.

They talked through his strengths and some weaknesses and Trevor agreed to work with him.

“So, I need to get an idea of how much you charge before I can make a decision on how often I can afford lessons.”

“I just need you to sign a form like Matt did. I’m a graduate student too, but in the PhD program. I need people to participate in training that are willing to allow me to use recordings, anonymous of course, for my research. Finding a countertenor to work with is a rare find and good for my research.”

“I’ll definitely sign.” Kurt started to get bouncy, but remembered what Matt had said to him and kept his enthusiasm toned down. “So, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“I have a recording of someone else singing ‘Something’s Coming’. He’s actually the one that got the part. Can I play it for you and have you tell me what he did that I didn’t do?”

“Umm. Sure.”

Kurt pulled his phone out and pulled up the video of Blaine’s audition, which he had bribed Lauren to give him.

Trevor watched it. “Well, honestly I don’t see anything he did that was spectacular. He was flat in a few places. He doesn’t seem to have a vibrato. He was very confident, which was good. I wouldn’t have chosen him over you.”

“Thank you.” Kurt took his phone back and put it in his pocket. “I just wanted to be certain that I’m not being blind to something that I obviously need to change.”

“I think confidence is what you lack on the lower songs. I get the impression you haven’t sung much in your lower range.”

“That’s true. In Glee I sing second soprano mostly. We had four girls who could sing soprano and two girls who sang alto. I usually sang with the girls. Most of the guys in the group are tenors, so we don’t need any more guys unless they can sing low. We have a bass for the first time this year. We have a couple of guys that can sing baritone. The rest are tenors, including the guy in the video. One of them is chosen for lead for the guy’s part in a song, not me. But our group split recently and now we have eight guys and only three girls, two sopranos and one alto, so I’m definitely needed to sing second soprano.”

That makes sense based on the composition of your group, but as a singer you need to work on all parts of your range. I brought a book of vocal exercises. I’m assuming you know how to read music.”

“Yes. I play piano.”

“Alright. I’d like you to get this book and each week I’ll assign exercises for you from it.”

Kurt took his phone out and took a picture of the book. “I’ll get one this week.”

The rest of the hour, Trevor went through some of the exercises and had Kurt sight sing a few songs just to get a feel for his skill level.

“I’ll see you next week. I’ll email you with two pieces to work on. I needed to hear you before deciding on what to have you work on.”

“Alright. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt was waiting for Kurt in the parking lot. Kurt got into his car.

“We’re going to try something, but it’s kind of tricky and it might not work.”

“Alright.” Kurt put his seat belt on.

“So, we’re going to act out the same scene four times. I’ll describe it to you in a minute. The first two times, you’ll be wearing the clothes you have on. The next two times you’ll change into your other clothes.”

“Okay.”

Matt went over their scene and they headed to a coffee shop on campus that had a lot of people in it. Matt and Kurt ordered and went over to table on the far left side of the store. He found a couple of girls to participate in his scene sitting at the table next to them.

He and Kurt started on their experiment.

 

Chapter Text

“So, what did you think?” Matt asked Kurt as they sat in his car after leaving the coffee shop.

“It was interesting for sure. When you asked them if as a gay guy I had done enough to pass, they believed you that I was gay and gave pointers on things I could do like lower my voice if possible. When we sat down at a new table and you asked the second time through if as a straight guy I had done enough to seem gay, the girls believed you that I was straight and gave pointers like stick my pinky out more when I was drinking the coffee.”

“So, what I told them was your baseline worked both ways. When people have expectations, it affects how they view things.”

“When you said I was your French cousin and you asked if I came across as gay, they told you ‘no’ - even in my very gay clothes with my normal gay actions.”

“But you were speaking French and they assumed you were just dressed normally for a French guy and that your behavior was normal.”

“And the last one where I just played straight and spoke some French and some English and you asked them whether I was gay or straight, and you gave them no hints, they couldn’t decide.”

“All in expectations. The people you’ve been around your whole life have these expectations of you. If you went to school dressed this way and behaved exactly the way you did that made those girls think you were straight, your acquaintances at school would still view you as gay because that’s how they see you.”

“So, when I go to audition, I need to work on developing a neutral masculine persona. I go in acting like a quiet, polite, straight guy wearing middle-of-the-road clothing. And then blow them away by being whoever they need me to be for the part.”

“You got it.”

“It’s like a pre-audition audition.”

“Exactly. I don’t think you should change who you are. But the point of being an actor is to be the character, and if no one will give you a chance to prove you can be the character, then you lose out.”

He rolled his eyes. “Type casting.”

“Exactly. You don’t want to be pegged as only a certain type of character before you ever get on the stage to demonstrate your skills. I mean you were truly great in that clip from Rocky Horror. I would have never even guessed it was you. The make up, the wig, your posture, the way you walked, and your facial expressions. You totally became the character. People need to see that you can do that.”

Matt’s words brought a small smile to his face. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Now, you just need your own vote of confidence. Now that some college girls were convinced that you were straight, do you at least think that you can make people believe that you are straight?”

“I think so. I still need a lot more work to make it be more natural and less an activity that takes a lot of focus. Remembering to not cross my legs or do this or do that takes up a lot of my brain power at the time. But I think if I consider it as a way to further my career by giving me more potential roles, I can get to where I’m not having to constantly think about it.”

“It will be like going into a library. When you were a little kid someone always said, ‘Shh, we’re in the library.’ Eventually, you just changed your behavior to match your environment. I think you can get to where you know you’re headed into an audition and you’ll be able to put on your pre-audition persona as easily as you remember to be quiet in a library.”

“Maybe.”

“So next week, we’ll stay at the church and I’ll bring some scenes for us to work on. Cold readings are oftentimes the hardest part of auditioning. We’ll start with a few and I’ll bring some things for you to work on for the following week. Are you applying for early admission?”

“Do you think I should?”

“I do. Bring your CV and all of your stuff with you when you come next week.”

“I actually have everything with me. I’ve been working on it.”

“Do you have to head back right away?”

“Not if I tell my dad that I’m staying.”

“My apartment’s not that far from here if you’re okay with that.”

“Sure. It’s too noisy in there to focus.”

Kurt put his seat belt on and texted Burt on the way to Matt’s apartment.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Wow. That’s a heck of an essay.”

“Thanks? I know it’s really personal. Do you think it’s okay?”

Matt could see the concern on Kurt’s face. “I think it’s really moving.”

“What about the CV? Does it look good? I know some of the video files aren’t very high quality.”

He tried to quell Kurt’s worries. “I think they’re fine. The admissions department realizes that not everyone has access to professional level recording equipment. You’re working on something with Trevor, right?”

“Yes.”

“Get it recorded next Sunday morning. I’ll tell him.”

“Maybe I’ll have good news by then about the election and Sectionals. I feel weird applying so early before we even compete.” He rocked back and forth anxiously thinking about the election.

“Just getting a featured solo and listing it will be good enough. The admissions committee knows that competitions haven’t started yet.”

Trying to sound confident, he responded, “I’m going to do my best.”

“We’ll record your monologues Sunday morning too. That way everything will be ready to submit. Get your school counselor to send in your transcript this week.”

“Okay.”

“You wanna grab some lunch before you go?”

“Sure.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Later that afternoon, Kurt was in the kitchen pulling the first batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. Five minutes later, he had two teen boys watching him like hawks.

“Is there something I can help the two of you with?” Kurt asked in a sing-song voice.

“Um, dude. Fresh. Warm. Cookies. You can help me by letting me eat them,” Finn said.

“Hey, now. Kurt’s my friend too. I’m sure he’ll let me have at least a few of them. You can’t ask for all of them,” Sam countered.

“Well, there are 12 so far. You can each have six.”

“Awesome.” Finn grabbed a plate and put six cookies on it, grabbed a glass and poured milk into it, and vanished as quickly as he had shown up.

“Thanks, Kurt.” Sam took the plate of cookies that Kurt slid toward him.

“You’re welcome. Would you like some milk with yours too?”

“Sure.”

Kurt got out a glass, poured milk into it, and handed it to Sam. “You know you’re welcome to whatever we have. You don’t have to wait to be asked or to actually ask for it. You living with us is like us getting another brother. Whatever’s here is for you too.”

“Thanks.” He stuffed a cookie into his mouth.

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re here.”

“Me too,” he said after he swallowed. “I do wish that Finn hadn’t blabbed about what I had been doing in Kentucky. I mean, I would have told you, but not everyone.”

“Finn has no filter. He outed Santana earlier this fall, by saying something in the hall that was overheard by the wrong person. He just needs to think before he speaks.”

“I actually have a favor to ask you.”

“What?” Kurt turned and looked at him.

“You helped me with some of my schoolwork last year…” he said hesitantly.

“I remember.”

“Miss Pillsbury informed me yesterday that I have to pass those state tests this year or I won’t graduate. I’m certain that my parents wouldn’t have agreed for me to come here just for me to need to stay another school year. I already had to repeat 2nd grade, so I’m older than everyone else as it is. I was doing badly in school in Kentucky mostly because I skipped a lot to go work, but not so badly that I wouldn’t have graduated. Plus, Kentucky doesn’t require those state tests.”

“I’ll help you in any way that I can. When do you have to take them?”

“In two weeks.” He dropped his head dramatically and sighed.

“Well, we need to plan. I don’t have anything planned for after dinner at all. So, if you want to focus on getting your schoolwork done while I’m working at the shop, after dinner we can study for the tests. Maybe there’s some type of prep materials online or maybe Miss Pillsbury has some.”

“That’s a good idea.” He perked up with Kurt’s planning. “I won’t make any plans after dinner for the next two weeks. I can’t even tell you how much this means to me.”

“I understand, Sam. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in high school for another year. I know you can keep a secret, so I’ll tell you something.”

Sam nodded.

“I’m making my get-away plans. I’ve applied for early admission at one school and I have a list of a few others to apply to if I don’t get in to the first place.”

“I thought you were going to New York to wherever Rachel keeps talking about.”

“That’s why this is a secret. I’m not interested in being Rachel’s ‘best gay’, but I’m also not interested in her badgering me all school year.”

“I can understand that.”

“Whenever you want to go visit your family for a few hours, just let me know. I’m going to Cincinnati every Sunday morning from 9:00 to noon and sometimes later. I know they live just on the other side of the state line.”

“Really? I’d love that. I don’t want to live there, but I’m going to miss Stevie and Stacey, and my mom and dad too, but especially Stevie and Stacey. I’ve spent so much time taking care of them that it’s really weird not having them around.”

“Well, any time you want to go, just tell me.”

“What do you do in Cincinnati every week?”

“Another secret.”

“Got it.”

He stepped closer to where Sam was sitting and spoke more quietly, “I just started taking voice and acting lessons from two graduate students.”

“That’s cool.”

“It is. Both guys seem like they will be very helpful.”

Sam nodded. “I hope so. Glee is different without the other girls and with Blaine. Rory seems nice.”

“Rory is nice. He’s a bass, which should help us get a fuller sound than we’ve had before. Ignore Blaine. I can’t apologize for something I didn’t do, but you didn’t deserve him going at you like that in class. He’s never known what it’s like to struggle with money issues. Not that I’m saying that I know what you’ve been through either, but he shouldn’t have said that.”

“What happened with the two of you?” Sam gently.

“I broke up with him two weeks ago.” Kurt leaned on his elbows on the island.

“I figured out that you had broken up, but why?”

“I’ve not told anyone at school.” Kurt was reluctant to answer.

“Most people at school don’t seem to have noticed, but you know I can keep a secret.”

“I do, but I don’t know if you can keep from being angry and acting on it on my behalf.”

“There’s a reason for me to be angry and potentially act on that anger? That sounds bad.”

The oven beeped. Kurt turned around, put the oven mitt on, and pulled out another sheet of cookies. He turned back to Sam. “There’s just one more tray. Let me get them in the oven.” He put the dough balls on another cookie sheet, put it in the over and set the timer. He let the previous batch sit and cool.

“Once those come out, we’ll go outside and talk more.”

“Alright.” Sam changed the subject back to the previous one. “So, this school you applied for early admission to?”

“University of Cincinnati. You should apply. The tuition is really affordable and I bet you could get grants.”

“Kurt, I’m terrible at school. I hate being dyslexic. I’d totally bomb the SATs. I didn’t even pass these state tests last year. If I don’t pass, I think I’ll go back to Kentucky and finish out the spring semester there, even though I hate it there. I just can’t spend another year in high school. At least there, I’d get my diploma and I could start to look for a job.”

“You could look for one in Cincinnati. It’s a big place and you’d be close to your family.” Kurt tried to sound as encouraging as possible.

“I’ll look into it. I need to come up with some type of plan. That’s for sure. As soon as I take those tests, I’m going to look for a job. I’ve got to make some money. It’s super nice of your family to take me in, but I’m not a mooch. But I really have to pass those tests. So, study first, then get a job ASAP.”

“That’s how I felt about getting that application in. I guess it feels like this test of whether or not I’m good enough. Dyslexia is your hindrance to feeling like college would work. Mine is my voice and my appearance. Being a countertenor can be cool if you want to be able to do gender-bending classical work, like getting hired for a chamber choir that sings classical music with a professional orchestra. But it’s not the kind of thing that’s really helpful in musical theater. No one’s looking to make a gender-bent Wicked where Elphaba is a wizard or warlock instead of a witch and Fiyero is bisexual.”

“Who’s Fiyero?”

“Glinda and Elphaba’s love interest.”

“Ah. I get it.” Sam stuffed another cookie in his mouth.

“I couldn’t get Coach Beiste and Artie to see me as a potential Tony and he’s not even overly masculine in the play. I have to be able to pass as straight. There just aren’t many roles for guys like me. I have to be able to make a believable straight male to get the lead in most plays or musicals. That’s what the acting lessons are for. To create a believable masculine persona for myself without pushing the masculinity to a point where it’s completely unbelievable.”

“Is it helping?”

“Well, you could be my assistant for some of my assignments if you want.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I’m supposed to go out and practice my more masculine alter ego. Go shopping, stuff like that. We won’t do it here in Lima, so no one will see you out with me.”

“You know I don’t care about that.”

“I just don’t want you hassled for voluntarily spending time with the school fag.”

Sam looked him straight in the eye. “Don’t call yourself names like that.”

Kurt nodded. The oven beeped. He got the last batch of cookies out and left them to cool for a bit. He took the cooled batch and put them in a storage container and washed the cookie sheet while talking. “I’m supposed to go to a video game store and get a sales clerk to size me up as a potential customer and offer to help me.”

“That sounds easy. Just walk in.”

Kurt shook his head. “Nope. I walk in and I’m completely ignored. I’m invisible.”

“Why? They pester me.”

“Because you look like someone who plays video games – a potential customer. While I look like I’m waiting on someone else to make up their mind.”

“Because of the way you dress?”

“Bingo. My assignment is to look like a guy who plays video games that looks interested enough to get someone to offer to help me.”

“I’ll go with you sometime.”

“I’ll see what days I’m supposed to work at the shop.”

“Okay. You know, I’ll go places with you even around here. I really don’t care what those idiots at school think. What have any of them ever done for me? Did they help me watch Stevie and Stacey? Did they bring clothes for the three of us? Bring us food? Help me with my schoolwork? No. I would never have even told them. And even when Rachel and Finn accused you of cheating on Blaine with me, you never waivered. You kept my private life private. You’re my friend, not any of those guys.”

“Thanks, Sam. I mean that. You’re the only guy I’ve ever met that hasn’t made fun of me or worse, much worse.”

“I’m nothing special. You’ve just spent time around a lot of knuckleheads.”

“That’s not true. You’re different and in a good way. There are a lot more knuckleheads, as you call them, than there are guys like you.”

Kurt turned around and removed the last batch of cookies from the cookie sheet, put them in the storage container with the previous batch, and left the lid off for the time being. He washed and dried the second cookie sheet and the mixing bowl and put them away. He loaded the rest of the stuff in the dishwasher.

“So, why were you baking? Since it obviously wasn’t because you wanted cookies. You didn’t eat any of them.”

“I can’t eat any of them. I rejoined the Cheerios this past week.”

“You haven’t been in uniform at school.”

“I made a deal with Coach Sylvester. I only have to wear it on game days for varsity basketball and baseball. And I didn’t cheer last Friday at the last football game because I didn’t know the routines well enough yet. But everyone will know when I show up in my uniform on the day of the first basketball game of the season.”

“I see. Why’d you rejoin?” Sam put the last cookie in his mouth and washed it down with what was left of the milk in his glass.

“I need another extracurricular activity and none of the afterschool clubs want me as a member. Coach Sue likes me, as crazy as that is. She believed me last year and stood up for me.”

“But you can’t eat a cookie?”

“At my weigh in, I was within the safe zone for my height. She won’t make me drink her concoction or personally watch what I eat at all times if I stay this weight. So, unless I want to do the exercise required to burn all of the calories in the cookie, I won’t be eating any cookies.”

“I see. You still didn’t answer the question.”

“Stress baking. When I’m stressed, I bake or sew or make something. But I don’t have any projects going right now, so I made cookies.”

“Well, we need to find you a project or I’m going to need to drink Sue’s concoction.”

Kurt laughed. He picked up Sam’s plate and glass and put them in the dishwasher.

“So, first we’re going out back or wherever it is that you can tell me why you broke it off with Blaine less than two months after he changed schools to be with you, according to what I’ve heard. And then we’re going to start on your acting assignment and I’m going to teach you how to play a video game.”

Kurt sighed, obviously hoping that Sam would forget to ask about what had happened.

“You may be the king of deflection, but I have a good memory. Come on.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Press the triangle button.”

“I thought you said it was the square button.”

“That was to duck.”

“Oh, right.”

“Push the trigger with your index finger - no your other index finger.”

“Got it.”

They worked at getting Kurt to be able to do all of the moves without having to look at the controller in practice mode.

“I still feel like punching him.”

“No, Sam. Don’t.”

“I won’t. But he deserves it.”

Kurt tried to focus on not dying, but he kept talking. “I figure he’ll go back to Dalton at the end of the semester. It’s really hard to transfer mid-semester and Dalton might not even allow it unless it’s an emergency situation like mine last year.”

“Do you still love him?”

“Not in the way that I did. I don’t trust him anymore, but maybe I was leading him on. I mean I did ask him about moving things forward the week before.”

“No, Kurt. Stop.” Sam took Kurt’s controller. “Look at me.” He waited for Kurt to make eye contact before he continued at a barely audible level. “He was way out of line, like criminally out of line. Trusting your partner to stop when you say ‘no’ is absolutely reasonable and is a basic amount of trust. Even if you were in the backseat of that car in your birthday suit, ‘no’ means ‘no’. It doesn’t mean ‘hold me down and try harder to convince me’ or ‘force me.’”

Kurt nodded and looked away.

“This isn’t the first time someone’s violated you.”

Kurt said nothing.

“Look, I won’t push you to tell me what else has happened to you because that would make me just as much of a bully as other people have been to you. But if you ever want to talk about it, I’ll be here for you.”

Kurt nodded.

Sam tried to lighten the mood. He looked through the games on the shelf. “We’re switching games. Mario Kart.”

“I love Mario Kart.”

“What? You already know how to play?”

“Whose game do you think it is?” Kurt laughed.

“You’re on, then. You had your chance for me to go easy on you, but now it’s ON!”

Thirty minutes later, Burt came down into the family room to find Kurt and Sam smack talking each other.

“Dinner’s done, you two. And thanks for the cookies, Kurt.”

Kurt looked away from the screen and looked at Burt. “How many did you eat?”

“YES!” Sam yelled.

“DAD!”

Burt laughed. “I only ate one.”

“You made me lose!”

Burt was still laughing. “Come on and eat.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next week was like the same day on repeat, basically. Kurt went to school, went to work at the shop, helped Sam study for the OGTs, did schoolwork, went to bed, got up early, went to Cheerios practice, and then repeated the entire process.

The only unusual things to happen were that Santana created a flash pep rally for Brittany during lunch on Tuesday with a “Girls Run the World” theme. She drew in most of the girls from the school, not just the seniors. Kurt was the only male in attendance. Things were not looking good.

Then, in a complete turnabout, at the debate on Wednesday, Rachel bowed out of the race and encouraged everyone to vote for Kurt.

Saturday was the first time Kurt and Sam had available to work on Kurt’s acting assignment. They headed out of town to the closest mall and Kurt put forth his best Mike impersonation, and to his delight, he managed to get the sales clerk to take notice of him and start to attempt to sell him some new games.

They tried out a few clothing stores and had mixed results again. In less desirable stores, Kurt managed to do well, but when they went in someplace he loved, he never quite managed to keep it together. Sam kept showing him clothes that he actually would wear and wanted to buy. Kurt pushed him out of H&M.

“You’re not helping, Sam.”

“I’m not supposed to help, am I? I thought my role was the best friend sidekick. And as the best friend sidekick, my job is to cause havoc.”

“Nope, that’s the villain’s job. As my sidekick, you’re supposed to ensure my success in the mission at hand.”

“You know more about superhero movies than you let on.”

“I know more about a lot of things than I let on. I actually know the rules to all of the major sports. It’s just a lot more fun to rattle my dad’s chain and say ridiculous stuff than it is to sit there and watch quietly.”

“You’re chaotic good.”

“D&D.”

“What do you know about D&D?”

“Enough to beat you in a campaign,” he said haughtily.

“Doubt it.”

They kept their banter up and headed to the food court.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sunday, Kurt drove to Cincinnati and presented the songs that Trevor had assigned him. They were completely different from anything he had ever attempted before, but he did his best. Trevor was pleased with his progress. They worked on both songs during the rest of the hour, along with perfecting “Defying Gravity”.

The conversation moved to Sectionals about five minutes before the hour was up.

“Have you chosen songs for Sectionals yet?”

“No.”

“Be firm this time. Go to your director. Who else in your group is a senior and applying for a music-related major in college?”

“Just one girl.”

“Well, you need to point that out. How long have you been in the group?”

“I’m one of the founding four members. This is our third year, but I was gone a lot of last year to a different school.”

“But the girl, has she been featured?”

“Every competition.”

“So, do yourself a favor. Go in. Be bold. Be confident. Explain that this is important.”

“I’ll do my best.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt worked on the cold readings with him, taking the girl’s parts for himself. He also gave Kurt three monologues to memorize for the next week. They worked on them for a while. The two of them grabbed brunch before Kurt headed back out of town. They decided to wait another week for him to be better prepared to do the recordings for his application.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

When he got to school Monday morning, Kurt made an appointment to talk to Mr. Schue after school on Wednesday. He spent the day Monday passing out pins and talking to people trying to drum up votes for the Tuesday election.

Brittany’s “Girls Run the World” pep rally the week before and her handing out candy didn’t bode well for him, but he tried to keep his spirits up and talked to people about the real issues facing the students and his ideas to make positive changes in the school.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Tuesday morning, he arrived at school early and attempted to talk to anyone who would listen. The election was held during third period. During sixth period, Kurt was called down to the office. When he got there, Coach Beiste and Principal Figgins were there and his dad walked in behind him.

Figgins spoke to Burt, “First of all, Mr. Hummel, congratulations on your early exit poll numbers. Things are looking very good indeed for you.”

“Thank you, Figgins. Now, can you tell me why I’m here today?”

“There seems to have been some irregularities with the student council ballot boxes.”

Kurt asked, “What do you mean by irregularities?”

Coach Beiste answered, “Kurt won, but by 190 votes.”

“Well, that’s great, right?” Burt asked.

“Well, the problem is that there are more ballots than there are seniors and Kurt won by a suspiciously wide margin,” she responded.

Kurt spoke up. “No. I – I – I didn’t do it. I didn’t cheat. I thought about it but…”

Burt interrupted, “What do you mean you thought about it?”

“I thought about it because I wanted to win so badly and I was worried that I wouldn’t, but I didn’t cheat. I worked really hard on this. I didn’t cheat.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt went back to his locker after his meeting with Principal Figgins. Rachel and Finn were in the hallway nearby. He walked up to them. “Someone stuffed the ballot boxes. They think I did it. If they can prove it, I could be suspended.”

“Oh, my God, Kurt,” Rachel said.

“And I lost.” He took a breath. “I lost the election. I lost the lead in West Side Story. I can forget about getting into college. No one will take me now. And the worst part is that I really, for a second, thought I’d won.” By then Kurt, was crying.

Rachel stepped toward him. “Kurt, I’m so sorry.”

“I have to go,” Kurt said as he practically fled down the hallway.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Wednesday afternoon in Glee, Kurt got up and officially recognized his defeat in the election. He stood and spoke directly to Brittany. ‘The people have spoken. They want you, Britt. They want pixie stix. Rule wisely, rule fabulously.”

Brittany hugged him happily, not at all realizing what Kurt had lost in losing to her by way of the ballot box fiasco.

Santana sang a song next, and right as she finished, Rachel came in the room. She had been crying.

“Rachel?” Mr. Schue asked.

“I just, um, told Principal Figgins that I rigged the election so that Kurt would win.” She looked directly at Kurt. “Kurt, please don’t hate me. You’re totally in the clear.”

Finn asked, “What did he say?”

“He said he had no choice but to put it on my permanent record and that I’m suspended for a week. Also, he said that I was banned from competing at Sectionals.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Burt was there after Glee ended to celebrate with Mr. Schue since he had helped with the congressional election. Kurt hung around and attempted to celebrate, but was still frustrated, considering what had happened earlier. Once his dad left, he stayed to talk to Mr. Schue.

“I made this appointment to talk to you about Sectionals. I want to be considered for a solo. Not just a line in a song, but a solo or a split lead on a whole song with someone. I know we’ve been talking about doing Michael Jackson and I think that Tina and I would be perfect for the lead on “ABC”.

“Tina has already been in asking about splitting the lead on that song with Mike.”

“Mike?”

“He wants to be a dancer. Anyway, she had her reasons.”

“Mike has been a featured dancer already. He can be a featured dancer again without taking the lead on ‘ABC’. He can be part of ‘Man in the Mirror’. He can shake it and move it all over the stage during any of the songs without singing lead.”

“He’s a better male lead, Kurt.”

“I’m fed up with your effeminophobia. What is my singing range?”

“You sing second soprano mostly.”

“Not what I asked.”

“I’m not sure.”

“Isn’t that a pretty lame answer considering this is my third year in the club? Why don’t we go into the choir room and let me demonstrate?”

Kurt went in and sat at the piano. He started at C4 and started singing scales downward. C4-C3. B3-B2. A3-A2. He started again going upward instead. F4-F5. G4-G5. A4-A5.

“You have a three octave range?” he said disbelievingly.

“I do. I have had for most of the time I’ve been in Glee.”

“You blew ‘Defying Gravity’ on purpose.”

“I did. My dad got another one of ‘those’ calls to the shop the day before. I didn’t want to make his life harder by singing that song in a public competition. You didn’t even end up using it for a competition anyway. I want the lead with Tina in ‘ABC’. I’ve been in this group since the very beginning. Rachel and I are the only two attempting to pursue college degrees in a music field. I am the only senior who has yet to be featured.”

“Mike is a stronger lead,” he insisted.

“He is not. You view him as a man and me as I’m not sure what, but not a man. I am gay, not female. Mike being the featured singer will do nothing to further his applications to dance schools. His role in the musical and being a featured dancer will though. The part I got in the play will not improve my chances at getting into a music program. I am not asking for anything unreasonable.”

Mr. Schue just stood there with his arms crossed, obviously unconvinced.

“Coach Beiste and Artie’s effeminophobia kept me from getting Tony. Don’t be part of the problem at this school, Mr. Schue. If you don’t believe me ask them. I was eavesdropping, which may have been inadvisable, but what they said and did at the auditions for West Side Story was completely unacceptable. They all admitted that Mercedes was better, but Rachel threw a fit when she was told the role was being double cast. Mercedes dropped out rather than deal with Rachel. The other guys knew I needed Tony for college and they agreed to audition for other parts. I did a better job on my audition than Blaine did, but Artie and Coach Beiste saw him as leading man material, not me.”

“You supported Blaine.”

“Because I am a decent person who does not throw temper tantrums like a three year old. He went back on his word to me. That, and other things, is what caused me to split with him.”

“What?”

“I broke up with him a few weeks ago.”

“I didn’t know.”

“That should tell you something, shouldn’t it? You’re not really paying attention to what’s going on. Your inattention to the other great female singers in our group lost them to Ms. Corcoran. I’m going to ask one last time. Please feature me and Tina on ‘ABC’. I can be the male lead. You need to check your own misguided beliefs about gay men.”

“I will give you a chance.”

“Thank you. But you need to tell Tina that Mike will be a featured dancer before I start to work with her on ‘ABC’. If she thinks I’m taking the part that Mike needs, she won’t be all that willing to work with me.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Thursday afternoon’s Glee rehearsal started with Mr. Schue writing three songs on the board: “ABC”, “Control”, and “Man in the Mirror”.

Next to “ABC” he wrote: Tina & Kurt

Next to “Control” he wrote: Quinn, Blaine & Artie

Next to “Man in the Mirror” he wrote: Sam, Finn, Artie, Blaine, Puck. Mike dances.

They got busy on their arrangements and set out to start on the choreography the next day.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Friday after school, Kurt and Sam headed to the Lima Bean for a celebratory non-calorie drink for Kurt and a gourmet hot chocolate with real whipped cream for Sam. Kurt chose a table that couldn’t be seen from the door or the counter to help minimize the chance of anyone from school seeing them, even though they were already pretty low since most of the people who hassled Kurt weren’t the type to spend $4.00 on a coffee. They’d be a lot more apt to hit Taco Bell after school. They both took the lids off their cups to speed up the process of being able to actually drink them.

“So, you did it. You took the tests and did your best.”

“I’ll find out in early January whether my best was enough. If not, I think I really will head back to Kentucky after Regionals. I mean I’d love to go to Nationals if we win Regionals, but not enough to spend another whole year in high school.”

“I understand. If you wait until then, you’d only have to be in school in Kentucky for less than three months.”

“Two and a half months I’ll hate, but still better than another 10 months in high school next year. I have a question. How did you convince Mr. Schue to give you the lead on that song with Tina?”

“I was persistent, but I didn’t threaten to quit or anything,” Kurt sipped his coffee.

“Well, you and Tina sound great. I actually never realized what a good singer she is. Rachel overshadows everyone.”

“She does. Mercedes was better in the West Side Story auditions. No doubt. And they wanted to double cast Maria, but Rachel got so bent out of shape that Mercedes dropped out. That’s how we lost her to the Troubletones.”

“She told me. Ooh, I have news.”

“What?” he asked excitedly.

He puffed his chest out for effect. “You’re looking at the newest member of the varsity basketball team.”

“Wow. I didn’t know you played basketball.”

“I haven’t really, except for fun. But I thought about what you said. I’m going to take the SAT and do my best. And I needed something else for my CV. So, I went to Coach and talked to her. Fortunately for me, one of the guys on the team decided to only play hockey this year and quit the basketball team last week. I thought I was going to be stuck with synchronized swimming as my only sport option.”

“Well, then, I guess I’ll be cheering for you when the games start. So, you and Mercedes?”

“Nah. That was a bad idea on my part. She’s happy with Shane and I realized that it was just me wanting to be with someone, and she and I get along well. I’m not in love with her. I know you understand what it feels like to be the only one without someone. I just felt like it’s one of those things high school jocks have – a girlfriend. But I’m not going to pursue her. There’s someone else I like anyway.”

“Really? Do tell.” Kurt leaned over the table expectantly.

“Not a chance. I’m not going to jinx myself.”

“Fine, fine. Ruin my fun.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’ll live. Are you ready to go? I’ll drop you off at the shop.”

“Sure.”

They finished off their drinks, tossed the cups, and headed out.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt spent Saturday catching up on all of the reading he had put off in order to help Sam study for the OGTs. Kurt knew that none of the teachers ever actually did anything in class to make sure students read the material, but he knew that they all wrote their tests directly from the readings. So, he spent most of the day alternating between working on his monologues, his songs, and getting the readings done.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sunday morning, Kurt was back in Cincinnati in the room in the church. Trevor had brought a digital video recorder and a tripod to use to record his songs. They went through them a couple of times as a warm up and then they recorded him singing each song twice. Afterwards, they watched the videos and chose the better version of each song and burned it to a DVD for Kurt to keep.

After they finished, Kurt told him about the confrontation with Mr. Schuester and his ultimate victory in securing a lead in one of the songs for sectionals. Trevor high fived him and congratulated him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt came in next and he recorded Kurt reciting the three monologues twice as well. They went through the same process.

“You did great. I know it’s hard to change mindsets so quickly and you did a really good job. The clothing changes helped too, I think.”

“Thanks. I just hope it’s good enough.”

“Do you want to go over to my place and upload everything from your computer and get everything turned in?”

“Um, sure. I don’t want to take up too much of your time. You’ve already been really helpful.”

“It’s fine. I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t want to do it.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt called Sebastian about 30 minutes after he left Matt’s apartment.

“Are you busy?”

“Studying, but that’s normal. Why?”

“I’ll buy you lunch if you meet me in Bellefontaine.”

“I can eat free in the cafeteria. I need a better reason than a free lunch.”

“Curiosity?”

“Just a minute. I don’t even know where that even is.” He paused. “Fine. I can be there in an hour.”

“Me too. Meet me the diner on Main St.”

“It better be on my phone map app.”

“See ya.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour later, Kurt pulled into a parking space and saw Sebastian standing near the diner, wearing the same “Finn twin” outfit that he’d been wearing at Scandals that night.

“You’re late,” he said as Kurt walked up.

Instead of saying anything, he wrapped Sebastian in a big bear hug.

“What on earth are you hugging me for?”

“You don’t like hugs?” Kurt didn’t let him go and squeezed him again, and then finally let him go.

“Well, I don’t know honestly. I can’t say that I’d ever been bear hugged. I’ve heard the expression, but never seen it done in person, much less been on the receiving end.”

Kurt stepped back, giving him some space. “Thank you.”

“What for?”

“For telling me what you saw.”

Sebastian was thoroughly confused. “I’m pretty sure you’re not drunk because as far as I’ve heard, you don’t drink. But you are speaking nonsense.”

“Will it help if I say it in French? Thank you.” Kurt switched to French.

“I still don’t know what you’re thanking me for.”

“For telling me the truth - for helping me. I applied for early admissions to a college in Cincinnati. I’ll apply other places as well.”

“Your French is actually quite good, but I’m still lost, but congratulations on applying early, I think.”

“Come on. Let’s go inside and I’ll explain.”

They sat down across from each other in a booth and ordered quickly. They placed their menus behind the condiment rack and started to talk.

“Explain in French. You can use the practice and I have no one to speak French with.”

“Alright.” Kurt interlaced his fingers and put his hands up on the table. “You were confrontational. You said things that hurt. When I thought about them though, I realized that you were right. I broke up with Blaine the day after the two of you went to the bar.”

“I knew something had happened that night, but you wouldn’t say.”

“Something did happen. What little trust I had left was broken irrevocably.”

“Alright. That’s cryptic, but keep going.” Sebastian placed his thumb at the base of his completely dull table knife and his middle finger near the top and was running the side of his his index finger up and down the flat edge of the knife.

“I did research. I may not be able to get out of Ohio as quickly as I had hoped, but I found that the musical theater program in Cincinnati is ranked in the top five in the country and the cost is a fraction of going to New York.”

“I see.”

“I started vocal and acting lessons two weeks ago with two graduate students.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“I’ve learned a lot.” He sat up straighter and told him his good news. “I stood up for myself and I have the male lead on one of our songs for Sectionals. I know we’re not competing against the Warblers unless we both win our Sectionals. Ours are December 3rd.”

“Ours are next weekend.”

“Well, good luck. I hope you win.”

“Thank you.”

“So you’re singing with Rachel instead of Blaine or Finn?”

“Nope. I’m singing with Tina.”

“I don’t know who Tina is.”

“Asian girl in our group.”

“Oh. Okay.” He was trying to picture which one she was. He didn’t really remember an Asian girl.

“She’s actually quite good, but she doesn’t fight Rachel for solos.”

“So, how did she get a solo?”

“Rachel stuffed the ballot box causing me to lose the election for senior class president.”

“What?” He started flipping the knife over in between running his fingertip up and down it.

“Well, you knew she was running against me.”

Sebastian nodded.

The waitress put their drinks on the table. Sebastian slid his toward him and slipped the paper off the end of the straw and took a drink.

“Well, last week at the debate, she dropped out and endorsed me. Then, this week on election day, which was Tuesday, she stuffed the ballot box with ballots with my name checked.” Kurt moved his glass of water, but left it alone.

“Why didn’t they redo the election?” Sebastian looked really confused and moved his straw around in his glass in a circular motion.

“Because the insane microcosm of my school is nothing like the logical world of the school you attend. Rachel got a week suspension and got banned from competing at Sectionals. So, we have two girls, eight guys who can sing, and we’ve enlisted two band members to fill the missing slots so we have 12 people to compete.”

“Wow, that will be tough.”

“The Troubletones are good. We’ll just have to see. At least I was able to put my lead on my application. And the guys that I’ve been getting lessons from helped me realize that I had things to put on my CV that I hadn’t considered.”

“Like what?” He took another sip of his tea.

“I’ll show you if you want to see. I asked you to come meet me because I was excited and to be perfectly honest, you are the only person besides Sam that I thought might actually be even the tiniest bit excited for me, as lame as that may sound. I do appreciate you coming.”

“So, show me.”

The waitress put their food in front of them. Kurt thanked her.

When she had walked away, Kurt said, “Scoot over.” He pushed his food to the same side of the table as Sebastian’s. He took his laptop out and handed Sebastian some earbuds. He turned the laptop toward Sebastian and put in the DVD of his songs, monologues, “Vogue”, “Le Jazz Hot”, and “Bad Romance” along with the snippets from Rocky Horror and West Side Story. Once he had it set up, he sat down next to Sebastian and they both ate while Sebastian watched and listened.

They finished eating long before Sebastian finished watching everything. Kurt stacked their plates at the end of the table, put a $20 bill down, and the waitress took them away while Sebastian continued to watch.

“Well, those were all good. I really had no idea that you were so talented. The Warblers always moan about losing Blaine. Did they not know you could actually sing that well?”

Kurt moved back to the other side of the table and packed everything back up while he was talking.

“I don’t know. I’m not like the guys at that school. My dad’s a mechanic. I fix cars to make money. I pay my own way. My dad’s big on personal responsibility. The guys there rely on their family money for everything. ‘Oh, let’s go to Florida for the weekend.’ And they just take a cab to the airport, buy a ticket, and go. I couldn’t work at all when I first went there. I told you this. I had four weeks to learn an entire semester’s worth of information. Even the second semester, I couldn’t work that much. My dad wanted us to spend time together when I did go home. So, I could only work about 8 hours a weekend when I went home, and obviously no hours on the weekends I stayed in Westerville. I just never really managed to fit into the school. Some of the Warblers were nice and friendly to me though.”

“I see.” Sebastian went back to running his finger along the knife that he hadn’t used while eating.

“Nick, Jeff, Trent, Flint, David, and Thad were about the only ones to ever speak to me outside of rehearsal.”

“So, why did you even go to Dalton?”

“Did you not manage to get that information out of anyone?”

“I got that you were bullied, but having met you, I’m pretty sure that something worse than being bullied went on because you don’t really strike me as the run-off-to-a-different-school-that-costs-too-much-because-someone-insulted-you type.”

“I found out something about someone that he didn’t want anyone to know and he threatened to kill me.”

He stopped messing with the knife. “And you had to leave your school?”

“I mentioned the insanity, remember? He was expelled, but his parents appealed and he was back in school three days later. But recently one of the girls slapped Finn, no bruising, just a simple slap. She was threatened with a two-week suspension, until he lied and said that it was a stage slap. My bruises had bruises from the locker slams and someone threatened to kill me and he was back three days later. Rachel got suspended for a week for stuffing the ballot box, but there was no do-over. So, slapping the quarterback or rigging an election gets you a more severe punishment than assaulting and threatening to kill the school fag.”

“Wow. Absolute insanity.”

“How are things in your insane world of 9 classes, which I am selfishly keeping you from studying for?” Kurt started to play with his straw, but pushed the glass to his right hoping the waitress would take it away.

“It’s okay. After our talk and my evening out with Blaine, I went to Scandals one other weekend. Talked to a guy. Well, initially I was a jerk to him, but later I apologized and he and I talked for a while. He’s a senior and not out to anyone except a couple of people he used to go to school with. His mom is super religious and would send him to conversion camp if she found out.”

“Ooo. That’s bad.” A look of disgust flashed across Kurt’s face.

“I did some reflecting and I decided that 7 months of all study and no fun would be better than mixing potential fun in with 19 months of living here still stuck in high school. I haven’t been back. I’ve been texting with him occasionally though. I convinced him not to go back either. It’s just not worth the risk. Conversion camp? Nothing is worth that.”

“I see. So, you’ve stopped courting Blaine if you’ve been staying at school and studying all the time,” he teased.

Sebastian chortled. “Courting him? That was never on my mind. If I were looking for a long-term relationship it would be with someone like you, not him.”

“What?” Kurt was completely taken aback by that response and expected a smart aleck dig at him as the next thing Sebastian would say.

“What what? You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re good looking, you’re kind, and you’re fun to talk to. And surprisingly fluent in French, which is just an added bonus.”

Kurt looked at him liked he’d lost his mind.

“You called me up to show me how you had gotten your act together and done something to improve your future and now you’ve decided to go back to being a self-deprecating person who lacks self-confidence?”

“No. What you said just surprised me.” Kurt considered what Sebastian had just said and looked quite puzzled.

“Ah, yes, back to the lack of compliments leaving you with no practice at how to respond when people are actually nice to you without wanting something in return.”

“Something like that.” Kurt rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly.

“Well, all of those things I said are true. I may be a lot of things, but a liar isn’t one of them. Except when it comes to how old I am. I’ve been going out to bars for quite a while. The drinking age in France is 18. I got a fake ID when I was 16. I liked going out and dancing.”

“I see.” Kurt put his hands in his lap, trying not to fidget.

“It just seems dumb to have the age set at 21 here.”

Kurt looked off to the side, preventing eye contact. “Well, I can attest to the fact that allowing someone who’s underage to drink isn’t a good idea most of the time.”

“What happened that evening that you brought him back inside?”

“Don’t you have schoolwork you should be getting back to?” Kurt started to reach for his satchel.

“Deflection.” Sebastian was stirring his tea with is straw again, still sipping it occasionally.

Kurt took a deep breath. “He started to storm off and he threatened to walk home, which would have been about a 3-hour walk in the daylight while sober. I opted to let you try to get him home. I was about to miss curfew and you said you were ditching Dalton and your house and staying in Lima.”

“Why did he storm off?”

“We had a disagreement.”

“A vague and fairly useless answer. What did you disagree about?”

“What the word ‘no’ means.”

Sebastian sat stunned. Hoping that Kurt had mispoken, he asked in English, “What?”

“About what the word ‘no’ means.”

Sebastian’s eyes flashed as his teeth clenched and he took a deep breath then let it out slowly.

“That’s how he irrevocably broke your trust.”

“Correct.”

“That makes what happened make more sense.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, in his inebriated state, he talked about some weird things. Art, or something like that, told him that he and Rachel weren’t acting like a couple that was in love and had experienced a sexual awakening. He was asking me if I had ever had sex with someone I loved.”

Kurt about choked. “His name is Artie. He’s the one in the wheelchair. He was the student director. And that question crosses the line of personal boundaries.”

“And it’s one I don’t have the answer to.”

“Oh.” Kurt didn’t know what to make of that answer.

“He was pretty aggravated with my answer.”

“I wasn’t at a lot of the rehearsals because I wasn’t needed, so I have no idea what Artie actually said to either one of them. But I could totally see both of them trying to improve their acting by seeking to have the sexual awakening they were told they were lacking.”

“And you dated him why?” Sebastian tipped his head to the side slightly while raising one eyebrow in a questioning expression.

“He was the first out gay guy I had met. He’s good-looking and very flirty. We have a lot of common interests.”

“I see.” He scoffed a little, but couldn’t imagine not meeting any other gay guys until he was 17.

“But the veil clouding my vision of reality was torn when you laid into me the day we met. It was definitely the meanest nice thing someone has ever done or is it the nicest mean thing someone has ever done? Either way, that’s why I asked you here – I wanted to thank you. You made me think, and I realized a lot of things. And hopefully, I corrected enough of my mistakes to change the outcome to a positive one.”

He tried to change the tone of the conversation away from the downswing it had taken with what Kurt had just said had happened. He gave Kurt a genuine smile and said, “Well, the stuff you submitted was good. How long do you have to wait?”

“January 20th. The actual early admission application due date isn’t until December 1st, but my tutors suggested that I get my application in as soon as possible because the music program is really competitive.”

“That’s not too long.” He sipped his tea again. The waitress came over and offered him a refill that he declined.

“No, and it’s before all of the other applications are due. So, I won’t waste money applying to other schools if I get in there.”

“You’re sure it’s what you want? I thought you were hell-bent on New York.”

“I’ve toured the school. The guys that have been giving me lessons like it there and they’ve been super helpful. I can afford to attend the school. That has to be factored in. Over $250K in debt, or no debt? The school is highly ranked. We’ll see if I’m good enough to get in. Are you applying to colleges in hopes that you can keep up your crazy workload all year?”

“I will, but applications for colleges in France aren’t due until spring. Classes don’t get out there until the beginning of July, so the applications are due a lot later.”

“Will you be able to move back home?” Kurt adjusted his posture and propped his elbows on the table and crossed his arms in front of him.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “If I go home at the end of May, I will end up sleeping in my own living room until July or I can stay here until July and go home then. But I’d rather sleep on the couch for five weeks than stay with my father any longer than required.”

“You could stay with me in Lima if you wanted. I have an air mattress or my bed. It’s big enough for two people.”

“This is why your so-called friends have walked all over you. You are a truly decent person and none of them are. That’s a really nice offer and I’ll keep it in mind.”

“I’m serious. Sam is already living with us or you could have had the spare bedroom. I guess if he goes back to Kentucky when school gets out, you could have the spare room, or he can share with me, and you can have his room.”

“Sam? You mentioned him earlier, but I don’t know who he is.”

“Blond guy. You’ll see him if you come watch our Sectionals. You could stay at my house that Saturday and Sunday if you want a break from Dalton since you obviously don’t want to go to your father’s.”

“You are determined to be nice and friendly to me, aren’t you?”

“I’m nice and friendly and that’s a problem because…?” He pursed his lips slightly and just barely winked at Sebastian.

“I lack appropriate interpersonal skills?”

Kurt laughed. “Actually, you’re fun to be around too.”

“Hey now, no saying things like that. You’ll ruin my reputation.”

“Which reputation is that? That you’re a curmudgeonly manwhore?”

He nodded determinedly. “Exactly.”

“Why do you want people to think that of you?” Kurt rolled his eyes and shook his head and looked at him curiously.

“It keeps people away. I’ve been working on this for ages and you’ll blow my cover.”

Kurt laughed even harder. “Too late for me. I already like you and I know the truth. You made Blaine think you were interested in him to either: 1. To get him back to Dalton or 2: To spy on us. Either outcome would have been fine for your purposes.”

“I will not confirm or deny your accusations.” He said like he was being accused of a crime.

“I would like us to be friends. If you really don’t want that, just be honest with me.”

“Fine, I like you. I meant those things I said earlier.”

“Have you lied to me other than the initial wanting to have ‘fun’ with Blaine part of your rouse?”

“What I said about my family is true. I am taking 9 classes. I don’t want to be in high school again next year here in Ohio.”

“I can’t blame you on that last part.”

“I did want to have fun, though. That wasn’t a lie - just not that type of fun. Well, some day, but not with Blaine. He was taken and I knew that, even if he didn’t know that I knew. I used to go out dancing in clubs in Paris and it was so much fun. I miss it. I looked up gay bars and that one was on the list and it wasn’t that far from where he lives.”

“There have got to be better places than that dive. Let me look and see what I can find.” Kurt pulled his phone out and looked up LGBT friendly clubs in Columbus. “There. Look. There are a few. You only have to be 18 to get into them legally. So, your dad wouldn’t have to bail you out for any reason, like a bar being raided because someone ratted the bouncer out for letting high school kids in.”

“Send me that list, please. Maybe some of the guys at school would go. Would you go?”

“If I had somewhere to spend the night afterwards. It’s too far to drive back that late at night. I did it a few times from Westerville and it’s not a fun drive if you’re tired. Somewhere on the south or southeast side of Columbus would be best since my voice lesson is at 9:00 on Sunday mornings in Cincinnati.”

“I’ll see what I can figure out. I better get going. You too.” Sebastian scooted out of the booth.

Kurt picked his satchel up, put it over his shoulder, and followed him outside. He followed Sebastian to his car. “Thanks again for coming. It really means a lot to me.” He hugged him again.

“You’re going to infect me with your niceness if you keep hugging me,” he teased.

“Nah, the niceness is already there. It’s just buried a bit. The hugging will wear the outer gruff layer off.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes and walked around to the driver’s side and let himself in. “Bye.”

“Bye.” Kurt waved, walked back to his Navigator, and headed back to Lima.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt walked in the door and up the stairs to his room. Not a minute after he had shut it, he heard a knock. He had barely made it to his bed to sit down.

“Come in, Sam.”

“How did you know it was me?”

“The way you knock, and the fact that Finn just opens the door after he knocks. He doesn’t wait to be invited in.”

“I see.” Sam plopped down on his bed next to him, which surprised Kurt. “I have news.”

“Do tell.”

“You are looking at the newest, most amazing trainee you’ve ever had.”

“What?”

“Your dad is giving me a job at the shop and you are my boss. Mr. Kurt, sir.” Sam saluted him while lying on his back.

“You’re such a goof. What I am supposed to train you to do?”

“Whatever it is that you do because you’re getting promoted when your dad goes to Washington.”

“I see. Well, then tomorrow after school you get to learn the name of every tool on the tool cart.”

“That sounds as hard as memorizing all that Spanish vocabulary.”

“Ah, but the upside is that I don’t care if you can spell the words or not.”

“True. That will make it much easier - I think.” He laughed. “Either way, it’s cool because I’ll get to work with you and I won’t be ending every sentence with ‘Would you like fries with that?’”

Kurt laughed. “So, is your homework done? Can we do something fun?”

“Yes and yes.”

“Good. I have news to tell you first though.”

“What?”

“I sent everything in this morning. It’s done. Now, the wait begins.”

“That’s great. I’m going to try. Like I told you. It’s worth a shot. If I don’t try, the answer’s ‘no’. So, being rejected is no worse in the end. I might as well try.”

“So, fun? Suggestions?”

“Paintball?” Sam made a pretend gun with his thumb and index finger and pointed it at Kurt.

Kurt pushed his hand away. “Ouch! No thanks. I’ve had enough of the bruised looked. I sported that look most of last year.”

“Video games?”

“We did that last time.”

“Baking?”

“You said you had no willpower to refrain from eating whatever I make.”

“I can’t help it that you’re a really good cook.”

“Well, thank you. Other ideas?”

“Ooh. I know.”

“What?”

“The duet we never got to do. We’ll work on it and when we’re ready, we’ll do it in Glee.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Sure I’m sure. We’ll do ‘Under Pressure’. You’ll be Freddie Mercury and I’ll be David Bowie. We’ll work on the outfits to keep you from making me fat.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Even if we don’t perform it until after winter break, it will give us something fun to work on.”

“I’m in. You’ve convinced me. Everyone knows that song was sung by two guys and it’s not a love song to get anyone’s tail feathers out of sorts.”

“If Finn hassles either of us, let’s just say you’re helping me with school stuff.”

“Both true and vague,” Kurt laughed. “And since Finn mostly hates ‘school stuff’ he won’t ask you to explain what kind of school stuff for fear you’ll actually explain it to him.”

“Let’s watch the video.”

“Sit up then.” He got up and grabbed his laptop and sat back down next to Sam and searched YouTube for the video.

Sam scooted closer and they watched it a few times.

“Alright, you’ll need a fake mustache.”

“And you need a pastel suit and tie.” Kurt laughed. “We’ll have to visit Goodwill a few times to find that, then I’ll have to alter it to fit you right.”

“I can keep it and wear it to prom,” Sam teased.

“That, I would love to see.”

“I might just do it then.”

They horsed around for a while and sang with the video until they got called down for dinner.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Between Glee holding extra long rehearsals, basketball practice, and Cheerios practice, Kurt and Sam didn’t get as many hours in at the garage as they had hoped. They both offered to work 8:00-12:00 on Saturday to help get some things done. They also got Burt to agree to let them spend the night in Columbus after going to the Warbler Sectionals and then head to Cincinnati and Kentucky Sunday morning.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sam went home after they finished at the shop. They showered, redressed in clothes to wear to the competition, and they packed overnight bags. They left around 1:00 and made it to the high school in Columbus around 2:30. The competition was set to start at 3:00.

The Warblers totally rocked the three songs they performed. Sebastian was charismatic, but not showy. He did the dance moves with the group, but frequently added a few extra steps of his own that set him apart a bit without making him look out of step. Kurt knew they would win as soon as he had seen all four groups.

Afterwards, Sam and Kurt waited for Sebastian in the lobby on a bench.

When Sebastian got close, they stood up. Kurt said, “Sebastian, this is Sam. Sam, Sebastian.”

They both nodded at each other.

“Congratulations! You were fantastic. Really.” Kurt rocked up on his toes excitedly.

Sebastian smiled. “Thanks.”

“So, we’ll drive to your father’s place?”

“Yep. You can try to follow me, but we might get separated in traffic. I texted you the address.”

They drove for about 20 minutes. Sam and Kurt sang along to the radio.

“Wow. Schmancy,” Sam said as they pulled up. “Are you sure this is the place?”

“I followed the directions from my phone.”

Sebastian came out of the house and walked up to the Navigator. “Are you just going to sit there and gawk or are you parking and getting out?”

“Parking.” Kurt rolled his eyes and drove up to the garage area. “Remember what I said. Ignore his potential gruffness. He’s actually a nice guy.”

“I will. Unless he’s mean to you, then he’s fair game for a smackdown.”

“My hero,” he said and batted his eyelashes.

“You know it.” He puffed his chest out.

Kurt shoved him. “You goof. Get your bag and get out.”

Kurt and Sam followed Sebastian inside.

“What no butler?” Kurt asked.

“I gave him the night off,” Sebastian said very seriously.

“Oh.”

“Just joking. We don’t have a butler. There’s a housekeeper, but she’s only here in the daytime. Come on. My room’s upstairs.” Sebastian took the stairs two at a time, and then led them down the hall and into his room.

“I’ve got a king size bed that we can all sleep in or we can split up and you two can sleep in Thing 1 and Thing 2’s rooms. The housekeeper put clean sheets on before she left Friday.”

“Um. I say we try to stay in here and touch as little of the rest of the house as possible since you didn’t really ask if we could stay,” Kurt said.

“Suit yourself. The bathroom is through there,” pointing to the door in the middle of the wall.

Kurt and Sam changed their clothes.

“Let’s get going,” Kurt said. “We’ll stop and get something to eat and then meet everyone else at the club. My treat. How about Chinese?”

“Sounds good to me,” Sebastian said, trying to keep from being obvious as he checked Kurt out.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt sat down at the bar, just to observe a little before he joined in the dancing.

“Can I get another beer, please?”

Kurt turned toward the voice and laughed.

Dave smiled at him.

“So, how’s life at your new school?”

“Fine.” Dave shook his head in resignation. “You know, I just want to have a normal senior year and play football without my teammates hearing rumors about me.”

“Just so you know, I would have never told anyone. That’s not who I am.”

Dave nodded.

Kurt looked around a little more before he asked, “So, you come here all the time?”

“No, actually it’s my first time here. I was invited, but I haven’t seen the guy I’m meeting yet. I was going to another place before this. I liked it. I felt accepted, but it was a little too close to home. I thought someplace a little farther away might be better.”

“I get that.”

Sebastian walked up behind them.

“I see you already met Bear Cub.”

“What?” Kurt asked. He turned back to Dave. “Because you look like Yogi?”

Sebastian laughed and turned back toward the dance floor looking for the others.

“Because I’m burly or something.”

Kurt nodded, but didn’t understand.

They both sat there in an uncomfortable silence for a couple of minutes.

“Is this the part where you judge me?”

“No, as long as you aren’t beating people up, I’m all for you being whoever you have to be at your own speed.”

Dave nodded. “Right now, I’m just trying to get through high school.”

Kurt nodded, understanding that sentiment perfectly.

“Here’s to baby steps.” Dave raised his beer bottle in a toast.

Kurt clinked his soda glass against the bottle, “Baby steps.”

“Look, I have one thing I want to apologize to you for.”

Dave started to speak.

“Shh. Just listen. When Blaine came to the school to support me so I could get up the nerve to talk to you, he was very publicly confrontational and we nearly outed you on the stairs.”

“He could have completely ruined my life.” Dave twirled the beer bottle on the counter.

“I realize that now.” Kurt tried to maintain eye contact, but looked away from time to time as he spoke. “At the time, I was so terrified of you that my fear kept me from thinking clearly. When Finn accidentally outed Santana by saying something in the hall this fall and it was overheard by someone who used it in his congressional campaign, I realized that if someone had overheard what was said that day in the stairwell, the same thing could have happened to you. That was never, ever my intent. I would have NEVER told anyone at the school. The things you were doing to me were awful, but I wouldn’t have outed you. I still won’t. I’m sorry for what we did on the stairs. My goal really was to let you know that you weren’t alone. It wasn’t to terrify you that I would out you.”

Dave nodded, trying to listen to Kurt’s point of view. “I really am sorry for all the awful things I did. I’m sure you hated me, but you couldn’t possibly have hated me anymore than I hated myself. It’s still a constant struggle. My mom is like the leader of the anti-gay group at our church. I have to sit and listen to her and her friends bash parents of openly gay kids for not being better parents and correcting their children’s deviant behavior. And how gays are ruining the country. And on and on. My mother hates me. She doesn’t know that she hates me. But every act of kindness feels so hollow because I know that if she knew, she wouldn’t even speak to me, except to berate me and quote Bible verses and talk about how I can be cured. I turned 18 about a month ago, so she can’t force me into conversion therapy anymore. So, that is a weight off my mind.”

“I don’t even know what to say to that. I wish people weren’t like that. As long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with people who teach hatred instead of love when the main prophet or teacher of their religion taught that the most important thing was to love God and love your neighbor. I can’t reconcile the teachings and the followers’ actions. I quit trying.”

“I get that.”

Kurt put his empty glass on the bar. “I’m going to go dance for a while.”

Dave just nodded.

Kurt moved back out into the crowd where Sebastian and Sam were dancing and wiggled his way in between the two of them causing them both to laugh at him.

Kurt caught sight of Nick, Jeff, Flint, and Thad and waved them over. Jeff, Flint, and Thad joined them while Nick went up to the bar and sat where Kurt had been sitting. Sebastian made his way over to the bar and got Dave and Nick to follow him to a booth that had just been vacated. Nick and Dave slid in on opposite sides of the table. Sebastian went back and grabbed the other guys and brought them back.

Sam was a bit taken aback to see Dave, who was also surprised to see Sam. Kurt slid into the booth next to Dave, pulling Sam in next to him. Sebastian squeezed in on the end. Jeff, Thad, and Flint slid in on the other side.

“Okay, introductions. I know some of you know each other. But only Kurt knows everyone.”

They went around the table starting with Nick and said their names.

“So, if we want to keep our booth at least one of us will have to sit here throughout the evening. We’ll just take turns. Nick and Dave can go first since they’re on the ends.”

Everyone nodded and got up, except Nick and Dave.

Sebastian pulled Kurt to dance with him. “You already knew Bear Cub. Explain.”

“I’d rather not. At least not here. I’ll tell you later.”

“Alright.”

Sam cut in and took Kurt away from Sebastian, laughing at him. This went on all evening. Kurt got snatched from every dance partner. And everyone managed to keep any strangers from getting anywhere near him, other than letting a few girls that wanted to dance with him have a chance.

Kurt took a third turn at the table.   By then, they’d been there a couple of hours. He plopped into the booth and Sam joined him, sitting next to him.

“So, whose idea was it to keep me away from the big bad gay guys?”

“That was my idea. I didn’t figure you’d appreciate anyone that you didn’t know putting their hands on you.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. So, who invited Dave or was he just here and came over here because you did?”

“I guess Sebastian invited him. He planned the whole thing and he already had a nickname for him. They must have met somewhere else at some point in time.”

“I’m going to get someone to take my place while I go to the bathroom,” Sam said.

“Okay.”

Just a minute later, Dave came over and slid in next to Kurt.

“Look, Dave. I know I told you I won’t tell anyone, but Sam knows part of what went on last year because he was part of it. Sebastian knows that someone threatened to kill me last year because I learned something that the person didn’t want me to know. I never said WHAT it was. But Sebastian already knows that you’re gay. It’s not going to take long for Sam and Sebastian to piece this together since Sam and I are staying at Sebastian’s place tonight. We’re driving on to Kentucky tomorrow to see Sam’s family. They’re going to talk to each other.”

“Can Sam keep his mouth shut?”

“Absolutely. He knows secrets of mine that he’s not told anyone.”

“Fine. Then you tell Sam, but make sure he knows not to tell anyone.”

“He won’t.”

Dave slid back out because Sam was back and he headed toward the pool tables.

“That was quick.”

“No line, surprisingly.”

“I need to tell you something. Scoot closer.”

Sam slid so that he was right next to Kurt.

Kurt blocked his mouth from view with his hand and spoke directly into Sam’s ear. “You cannot tell anyone what I am going to tell you.”

Sam nodded.

“Dave’s gay.”

Sam turned and spoke directly into Kurt’s ear. “I figured that out last year.”

“You knew?”

Sam nodded.

Dave came back to the table, obviously waiting to find out Sam’s reaction. He slid into the other side.

“Dude, don’t worry about it. I’ve known since last year. I didn’t say anything then. I still won’t say anything.”

Dave nodded and got back up.

“How did you know?”

“I saw Santana watching him. I saw him looking at me out of the corner of my eye, but I caught her with an ‘aha!’ look on her face followed by a flip of the Cheerio skirt and her flouncing off. She caught him looking at my ass when I was leaned over getting a drink out of the water fountain. Two days later, Dave was reciting a scripted apology to the Glee Club and she dumped me for him without even breaking up with me.”

“Ouch. I heard about the apology, but I didn’t know she just announced they were a couple without calling it off with you first. That’s low.”

“I had already figured out I was her beard. She was over-the-top hanging on me and all possessive acting in public, but in private she was all hands off. She had given men up already, but just wasn’t ready for anyone to know. They became each other’s beards. It was fine with me. No love lost. She conscripted me. She’s too scary to cross - obviously. She had the ability to get him to wear that stupid beret and shiny red jacket. Only something equal to the fear of God could make him wear something like that. I knew for sure that she knew something big on him then because there wouldn’t be much that would be enough to make him dress like that.”

Kurt laughed. “What do you mean that she conscripted you?”

“She figured out that Quinn was lying about kissing Finn. She came to me all bold and in my face and told me so.   She basically said that I was going to be her next boyfriend, and then I was her boyfriend. And that was that. Kissing her beat whatever she might do to me if I refused. I just went along with it. Being single in Glee sucks. Last year was just insane period.”

“And yet, you wanted to come back and join the insanity. What does that say about you?” Kurt elbowed him.

“That I’m as crazy as you are.” He shoulder bumped Kurt. Kurt had an “aha!” moment of his own. Sam treated him like one of the guys. He actually always had. Kurt just had never thought about it that way. He had never minded Sam touching him because Sam had never hurt him. He couldn’t let himself be part of the bumping and shoving with the other guys because they had actually shoved him or bumped into him with the intent to hurt him. But Kurt shoved Sam. He’d done it in the Navigator before they got out at Sebastian’s. He’d done it plenty of times.

“What are you thinking about so intently?” Sam asked.

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yeah. You and the physicality of guys in general. Matt’s been teaching me stuff and part of what he’s had me do is observe. I’ve become an anthropologist studying the human male species.”

Sam gave Kurt a perplexed look.

“I’ll explain it later when it’s not so noisy.”

“Okay.”

They switched places with Flint and Thad. Eventually it got late enough that everyone had to head out. They said their goodbyes outside the building and everyone left.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The three of them got in the Navigator.

Kurt started to speak immediately. “Before you apologize, I know you didn’t know. It’s fine. He and I worked things out before I went back to McKinley.”

“I’m still sorry. I should have told you that I had invited someone else.”

“Really, I’m not upset. He’s not a threat to me anymore. We don’t even go to the same school anymore. After the prom fiasco, he started at a new school this year.”

“I knew he had changed schools, but I don’t know what the prom fiasco is.”

Sam spoke up. “Dave was crowned Prom King and Kurt was crowned Prom Queen.”

“Whichever adult allowed that to happen should have been fired,” Sebastian stated emphatically.

“That would be our principal,” Kurt said.

“Your principal?”

“Our principal,” Sam repeated.

“I swear I’ve been dropped down a rabbit hole.”

“Perhaps,” Kurt said.

“Could be,” Sam said. “Kurt’s the white rabbit though.”

“I agree. Dresses fancy. Always scurrying from here to there trying to keep so many things going at once.”

Kurt pushed Sebastian, but only slightly since he was driving. There – he noticed it again. He was openly touching Sebastian and always had. He refocused. “Then who is everyone else?”

“Sam’s the Mad Hatter of course.”

“Whatever you say, Alice,” Sam teased.

 

Chapter Text

When Sam was in the shower, Kurt brought the topic of Dave up. “Sam knows it was Dave who threatened me. He also figured out why last year. I didn’t know that part until tonight. He kept Dave’s secret to himself. He doesn’t know about Dave’s mom’s belief about gays needing to go to conversion camps.”

“Okay. I know you said not to apologize, but I am sorry for at least not telling you I had invited someone else.”

“You already apologized. Do you want me to hug you to prove that there’s nothing to forgive and that I’m not mad?” Kurt wrapped his arms around Sebastian and hugged him. “There. All resolved.”

“You’re crazy.”

“We’ve been over this. You agreed to be my friend, so what does that make you?”

“Well, you are pretty persistent. All that bear hugging and being nice to me.”

“Wait, what?” Sam said as he came back into the room. “You gave him bear hugs? I didn’t get any bear hugs and I’ve known you a lot longer.”

“You got cookies, remember?”

“Wait, he got cookies? Like homemade cookies?”

“You two are nuts.” Kurt turned to Sam and bear hugged him. “There. Now you’ve had your bear hug.” He turned to Sebastian. “You’ll have to wait until I’m back home to make you cookies, Sebastian. Once you get the cookies, no more complaints.”

Sebastian wiggles his eyebrows. “There’s a kitchen right downstairs.”

“You want me to make cookies at midnight?”

“Yes?” he answered, eyebrows up, and nodding quickly.

“Do you even have the ingredients to make cookies?”

“How would I know? I avoid coming here as much as possible.”

“How about you come to Lima and stay with us and I’ll make you cookies? I’m too nervous here. If I broke something, it could cause a lot of problems.”

“Fine. Raincheck on the cookies. You can make them when I come to watch your sectionals.”

Kurt nudged him. “You know the flack I’m going to take for being friends with you?” Kurt asked.

“Hey, you’re the one that kept being nice to me until you wore the gruffness off. You and Jeff. You’re relentless. Once he wore me down, he ratted me out to the others – Nick, Thad, Flint, David, and Trent.”

“You’re so crazy.”

“You are a crazy attracter,” Sam said.

“No, I’m just crazy attractive,” he said with his nose up in the air feigning haughtiness.

“Well, that too,” Sebastian agreed with him.

Kurt rolled his eyes. “We need to sleep. This is getting out of control. Who’s sleeping where?”

“You’re the smallest. You go in the middle,” Sebastian said as he pushed Kurt toward the bed.

“Fine.” Kurt got in the middle of the bed and lay down.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sam left at 7:00 the next morning to drive to Cincinnati. They stopped for breakfast on the way, but still arrived about 15 minutes early. Kurt told Sam it was fine to leave him and head on to Kentucky. They had agreed that Sam would pick him back up around 3:00 and he’d call to get the location around 2:30.

Kurt sat on the stoop and waited for Trevor, who arrived about 10 minutes later. Kurt stood up and walked toward the parking lot when Trevor pulled in.

“Where’s your SUV?”

“My friend came with me and drove over to Kentucky to see his parents and his little brother and sister.”

“Cool.” He unlocked the door and they went up and worked on strengthening Kurt’s low range and getting him more comfortable singing in that range. Trevor brought some duets that had been arranged as baritone/tenor duets for Kurt to work on sight singing. They sang together and worked on them. Kurt told him about his “Under Pressure” duet he was working on with Sam.

“That’s actually a really good idea. The song isn’t actually in your low range, but everyone knows it was sung by a guy, so the association with you only singing girl’s songs isn’t there. Get someone to record it so I can see it.”

“Sure.”

They worked on sight singing more for the rest of the hour. Trevor left a couple minutes before 10:00

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt came in at 10:05. “Oh, good. You’re here. I pulled up outside and your SUV isn’t in the parking lot. I called, but of course it went to voice mail because you were up here singing. I should have just come up and I would have been able to hear you singing. So, did you get a different car?”

Kurt explained where the Navigator was.

He placed a stack of stuff on top of the piano. “I brought some things to work on and a short two-person play for you to memorize for next week. That way we can work on things without you always looking at a paper, which distracts you from being able to actually act out a scene.”

He handed Kurt a copy of the play, which was only 5 pages long.

“Alright. I’ll have more time this week with it being Thanksgiving. Only two days of school.” He sat it down on top of his satchel.

“How are rehearsals for Sectionals going?”

“Really well. Everyone’s been supportive of me singing the lead. I think our choir director is more surprised than any of the students.”

“I’m just glad you’re getting a chance to be featured.”

“Me too.”

Matt handed him some other sheets of paper. “Let’s start with these.”

After an hour of working on everything, Matt asked, “So, what are you doing after we finish?”

“Honestly, I was hoping you could drop me off somewhere like a Starbucks or someplace Sam can find easily so he can pick me up about 3:00.”

“You’re planning to stay that long?”

“Well, he hasn’t seen his family in three and a half weeks, so I figured he’d want to stay for at least four or five hours. It’s a two and a half our drive each way.”

“Of course. It wouldn’t make sense to do that much driving and only see them for an hour or something.”

“He’s really close to his little brother and sister. He misses them a lot.”

“Well, do you want to come back to my place?” Matt stacked everything back up and put it in his bag.

“I don’t want to bother you.”

“Kurt, you’re not a bother.”

“Alright, if you’re sure.”

“Try that again, with more confidence. Kurt, you’re not a bother.”

“Thank you, I’d love to come,” he said confidently.

“Much better, even though I know you were pretending.”

Kurt laughed.

“Between you and Sam and Sebastian, my self-esteem is sure to rise at some point.”

“Who’s Sebastian?”

“He’s a recently-made friend. He’s the one that hit me with a dose of reality and made me realize that I needed to do something to improve my chances of getting the future I wanted for myself. I told him it was the meanest nice thing or the nicest mean thing anyone had ever done to me.”

“So, something he said made you call and set up the appointment with me?”

“Exactly.”

“I’ll have to send him a thank you card.”

Kurt looked perplexed.

“Come on. Let’s go to my apartment. People will be getting here soon to use this room for church.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, I figured out something this weekend,” Kurt said once they were sitting in Matt’s living room on the sofa.

“What’s that?”

“Remember when you asked me about five differences between my behavior and Mike’s and I said he knew some unspoken bro code that I didn’t know?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I figured out that I do actually know this bro code, I just didn’t have anyone to interact with that I felt comfortable with. Since Sam has been back and I’ve been spending time with Sebastian, I realized that I do those things instinctually, but only with the two of them. Neither one of them has ever hurt me. The guys at school, other than Mike himself who never participate, but didn’t intervene, have all been a part of the physical bullying. Locker slams, dumpster dives, swirlies, throwing slushies at me – and other stuff.”

“Wow, when you answered yes to having been bullied, I just thought of name-calling, but you’ve been assaulted.”

“I spent that time at a different school last year because one of the bullies threatened to kill me.”

“Oh, my God, Kurt.” Matt looked stricken. “That’s terrible.”

“Teachers saw these things happen to me and they did nothing. So, my faith in anyone actually wanting to do anything to help me is pretty slim.”

“And then teachers bully you themselves with their effeminophobia and condescending attitudes.”

“Right.” Kurt nodded.

“Well, I’m glad you have two people who aren’t like that.”

“Four people – you and Trevor don’t treat me that way either. And the guys in Glee stopped a couple of years ago.” Kurt changed the subject. “How are the rehearsals for the winter program going?”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt and Kurt went out to lunch around 1:00 and hung out at an easy-to-find mall on the north side of Cincinnati until Sam came. They walked through the mall talking.

“You don’t have to wait with me if you have other things to do.”

“I could go home and write more on the paper I’m working on, but doing something else for a while sometimes helps. Then when I sit back down and read through it, I can either keep going with the direction I was headed or realize that I need to change something. Sometimes when I work at it for too long, I get too detailed and forget the big picture and end up only having explained one of my three points and I’ve already exceeded the allowed length of the paper.”

“I do that,” Kurt laughed. “I get too many references and sources, and I try to stuff them all in.”

“Yep. Compare and contrast essays always get me because I notice so many things.”

“I have the same problem. A test will say, ‘Name the difference between the book and the movie.’ and I’m like there were like a hundred. There is not enough room on this back of this test to write them all out.”

Matt laughed. “That is SO me. My teachers would write, ‘Good eye for detail, Matthew. At least I know you read the book.’ Sometimes I wonder if they even read what I wrote or just saw my name on the page and said, ‘Dear God, not today.’ and just gave me full marks on the essay.”

“That’s funny. I have one teacher who gets a lot of his test questions from the footnotes in our textbook.”

“Ugh. Power trip much?”

“I know. Students ask and he says, ‘It was in the book - it’s fair game for the test.’”

“I’m not convinced the teachers at your school should be teaching.”

“You and me both.” Kurt shook his head in disbelief thinking of some of the ridiculous stuff that went on at McKinley.

They continued to walk around and talk until Sam texted that he was in the parking lot. They headed to the exit closest to where Sam was.

“See you next week. Thanks for keeping me company. I had a good time,” Kurt said as Sam pulled over. He got in and waved as he and Sam drove off.

Sam talked about his visit pretty much all the way back to Lima. They got back just in time for dinner.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, how was the club you two went to?” Burt asked as he started to eat.

Kurt answered first. “It was a little loud for my taste, but it was fun and clean and there weren’t people who were sloppy drunk behaving badly.” He started eating as well.

Sam added, “It had some colored lights, a disco ball, strobe lights, but not all at once. There were pool tables and dartboards in the back room. We danced, sat around talking, and then danced more. Four other Warblers came and met us there.”

“They gay too, like Sebastian?”

Kurt answered. “No idea. If they are, they’ve never said so publicly when I was there. But none of them are prejudiced. They all danced with me and with each other and with some of the girls. We all did. None of us danced with guys that weren’t in our group. We didn’t go to pick up future dates. We just went to dance and have fun. There’s no place in Lima where a group of guys could go out dancing together.”

“So, none of you were drinking?” Burt looked him square in the eyes.

“Nope.” Kurt assured him. “None of the Warblers or me or Sam were drinking.”

Sam noticed that Kurt intentionally left out mentioning Dave’s presence.

“Sounds like an interesting place. Too bad it’s so far away.”

“I know,” Kurt said.

Burt turned to Sam and asked, “So, what’s the verdict for Thanksgiving, Sam? Your family going to be able to drive up here and eat with all of us?”

“Yeah. They were excited about it, especially Stacey. Sam imitated Stacey’s voice. ‘Kurt will fix my hair like a princess, won’t he? Do you think he would like this dress or this one better?’”

Kurt laughed.

“She has the biggest crush on you. One day I’m going to have to explain to her that you are just too much older than her to marry her. I’m going to have to break my little sister’s heart.”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “She’s adorable and I hope you told her that she looks equally beautiful in all of her dresses.”

“I did, but she insisted on me telling her whether you liked green or red better. I know neither one is your favorite color, and I didn’t really know the answer, so I told her to wear the green one for Thanksgiving, and to save the red one for Christmas.”

“Good call,” Kurt laughed. “And I will most certainly fix her hair like a princess. We should go to Goodwill and see if we can find a crown or something we can turn into a crown.”

“She’d love that.”

“Where are Finn and Carole?” Sam asked.

“She left this stuff for dinner for us and she and Finn went to some family thing in Akron. They’ll be back later.”

The three of them finished eating. Sam and Kurt cleared the table and washed the dishes. Afterwards, Sam went up to his room to finish his schoolwork. Kurt stayed downstairs to talk to Burt.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt found Burt in the living room sitting on the couch reading the newspaper.

“Hey, Dad. Can we talk for a bit?”

“Yeah, sure.” He folded the paper up and put it on the table next to the couch.

“I want to invite Sebastian to come spend time here sometimes. He and his father don’t get along and I’d like him to have a place where he feels like he can relax.”

“Why don’t they get along?”

Kurt sat down on the other end of the couch and rotated part of the way so he could face Burt. “His father wants him to be straight and be a conservative Republican like he is.”

“What’s Sebastian’s last name?”

“Smythe.”

“He’s Robert’s son, isn’t he?”

“I don’t honestly know his father’s first name. He just calls him ‘my father.’”

“You said he’s a politician and lives in Columbus.”

“Yes.”

“I bet it’s him then. If so, we’ve met. Not a fan.” Burt had an unpleasant expression on his face.

“I would bet not.”

“By comfortable here, what do you mean?” Burt’s eyes narrowed a bit.

“I mean, he comes here, has free reign like Sam and Puck, and he stays in my room in my bed, like any friend that Finn has over.”

“Kurt…”

“Dad, just stop. You were out of line about Blaine. Or if you really believe what you implied, then I won’t be comfortable in my own home anymore.”

“What do you mean?” Burt was confused.

“If you actually believe that I have no morals whatsoever and that I would take advantage of a drunk person, then you don’t know me very well and I won’t feel comfortable living here with you thinking that I’m some sort of perverted predator.”

Burt’s eyes flashed in a panic. “Oh, God, Kurt, I never thought that.”

“Well, that’s how it came across. I chose not to take it that way, but I certainly could have. I’m still not sure what was so inappropriate about what I did, so I just opted to never ask anyone over again until now. I did actually appreciate the talk you gave me. I really did think about what you said, and it made a difference – a big difference.”

“I’m not sure that I like that it made a big difference. I mean, of course I’m glad you listened, but not glad that you needed to listen from the sense I’m getting from you.”

“That’s not the current issue. We were talking about what was inappropriate that time.”

“I was out of line with what I said. What was actually inappropriate was that he drank himself into a stupor, not the fact that you took care of him. What actually happened that night?”

“He drank way too much. He made out with Rachel during Spin the Bottle. And then they sang flirty duets. He went out with her on that date a few days later. He knew that I liked him, but he was more willing to give her a chance than me.”

“Why did you…?” Burt stalled for an ending to his question.

Kurt provided one. “Keep liking him? Keep holding out hope that he would like me?”

“Yeah.”

“I shouldn’t have. Honestly. He’s not boyfriend material. But, God, Dad I was lonely – really lonely. He and I met when I was at my lowest and the bullying was at its highest. He was the first gay guy my age that I had met. He was out and proud, and honestly he led me on. We went out on a ton of coffee dates that I thought were real dates and he thought were just friendly outings. The thing was that particular event wasn’t even the first soul-crushing thing that he had done.”

“What do you mean?”

“All along, I thought he liked me, but that he just didn’t have the nerve to make it official. There were all of the one-on-one coffee dates. He’d put his hands on my shoulders when he stood behind me and I was sitting in chair. He’d put his hand on my leg when he sat next to me. He asked me to sing flirty duets. He sat really close to me on the couches in the rehearsal room. He didn’t do these things with anyone else. I made sure that I wasn’t imagining things because I had never had anyone flirt with me. So all of that went on for months. I honestly thought we were dating, just the casual type dating. I didn’t even realize that he wasn’t into me, and that he didn’t like as more than a friend, until Valentine’s Day when he announced in front of all of the Warblers that he was ‘in love’ with the assistant manager of the nearby GAP, and he asked us to help him serenade the guy.”

“What?” Burt’s eyes narrowed and he tipped his head slightly, questioning what Kurt had said.

“Yeah. I knew that he was planning to serenade someone because he had asked me what I thought of the idea. I thought it was one of those not-really-hypothetical questions when someone is trying to figure out what someone else likes or doesn’t like. Since I thought that he was planning to serenade me and make it official, like boyfriend official instead of just casual dating like I thought we were doing, I told him that I thought it would be romantic. But then he did what I said – in front of all of the Warblers, which was really embarrassing because most of them had figured out that I had a huge crush on him.”

“Wow. I never liked him much, but tried to be decent for your sake. But if I had known those things, I’m not sure I could have managed to be so decent.”

“When he crashed and burned with the GAP guy, I still held out that he would realize that he did like me because I hadn’t gotten over my crush on him. I was lonely at Dalton too. I never managed to make myself fit in very well there either. The truth is that if I had spent less time pining over him that I probably could have made some closer friends, but he was the only ‘out and proud’ guy. You told me not to pursue guys who weren’t as brave as me.”

“When did I say that?” his eyes flickered upward and to the side trying to recall when he had said such a thing.

“When I wanted to sing with Sam. When you asked me if he played for my team and I told you that I didn’t know. You said that until I found someone as open and brave as me, I was going to have to get used to going it alone. And then a month later, I met Blaine.” He could no longer restrain himself from fidgeting and started rubbing his thumb up and down along the calf seam of his jeans. “It was like this billboard saying ‘you don’t have to go it alone anymore’.” He put his hands together, splayed them open, and spread them apart in front of his face as he said “billboard”. “He flirted, asked me out, and he liked a lot of the same things that I liked. It was unbelievably fantastic.”

“I see.” Burt’s voice changed to very sympathetic. “And I understand about Blaine. I sometimes really have to think harder. I mean if I had been 17 before I ever met a girl, it would have been really hard not to fall for her just because she was there. And that’s really what you dealt with. A lot of horrible stuff was happening to you and you met a gay guy who flirted with you. I realize that would have been hard to just ignore and keep your feelings in check. You needed a friend and he seemed to offer that and more. And what I said about leaving Sam alone was out of line too. He’s a good friend to you. If you had made friends with him in that month interim, you wouldn’t have been so desperate for a friend anymore and maybe you could have seen Blaine’s true nature more clearly.”

“Maybe, but back to what we were talking about. I was confused when you got so upset with me. I couldn’t figure out what was inappropriate about keeping a drunk teen off the road and keeping him where I could hear him if he puked. You acted like you didn’t want me having guys over or to actually even have any guy friends, so I didn’t bother trying again.”

“I didn’t know you hadn’t had anyone over because of what I said. I’m sorry I made you feel so bad that you quit trying to have friends.”

“What I want to know now is if I can actually make friends with guys and you’re going to let them hang out with me here the way you let Puck hang out with Finn.”

“It’s not the same.”

“Dad. Get. Over. It.” Kurt over enunciated each word.

“What?”

“Get over whatever it is. Stop treating me like I’m a girl. I’m a guy. A man, technically, since I’m 18. I deserve to have male friends just as much as Finn does.”

Burt just listened.

“Sam and I both slept in Sebastian’s bed last night and no one touched anyone other than potentially by accident while sleeping. The bed was to sleep in, not have a threesome in.”

“Kurt…” he took the “dad” tone of voice again.

“I’m an 18-year old virgin, who doesn’t even watch porn. So, can you lighten up a bit? It was a joke. None of us wanted to sleep on the floor. It’s a bed, Dad. People sleep in them. If he comes here, I don’t want you being all ‘Door open.’ and acting like I’m running a brothel in my room when you’re not looking.”

Burt took a deep breath. “You’re right. I can see your point, but that’s not what I’m afraid of.”

“Then what is the issue? You need to be really specific this time. Don’t just use words like ‘inappropriate’. What is your issue with guys staying with me?”

“What they might try to do to you.”

“Oh. You thought that Blaine might try to take advantage of me?” That thought had never really crossed Kurt’s mind because he was passed-out drunk.

“Or some other guy. You trust more easily than I do. I’ve been around longer and know more about people. I let you go to Sebastian’s because Sam was with you and I know Sam now and I trust Sam to protect you.”

“Dad, I’m a man. Why do I need someone to protect me?” He was sick of being treated like a girl.

“You’re so small.”

Kurt’s tone changed to aggravated and he slapped his hand on his thigh. “Dad, have you actually looked at me lately? Sam’s not even two inches taller than me and maybe weighs 20 pounds more.”

“But he lifts weights and he’s stronger than you.”

“Well, I’ll grant you that, but I can hold my own.” Kurt was adamant.

“You don’t know that.”

“I actually do,” he said quite assuredly.

“Combining that with what you said earlier leaves me with the impression there’s something you haven’t told me. Why did you break it off with Blaine and don’t beat around the bush this time. You and Blaine never…?”

“Nope.”

“And you broke up with him a month ago?”

“That’s right.”

“And you’re not getting back together?”

“Nope, never.” He shook his head and gave Burt the ‘never gonna happen’ look.

“And this has something to do with self-respect?”

“It does.”

“Well, I’m glad you made a decision that you can respect yourself about. It sounds like it was a year long struggle to regain your self-respect from being torn down by the bullies, and then you were torn apart by someone toying with your feelings.”

“That’s a pretty accurate description. So, my male friends are welcome here, like Finn’s?”

“Yes.”

Kurt jumped up and wrapped his arms around Burt’s neck. “Thank you!”

“Your friends are welcome, even your Warbler friends.”

Kurt sat back down, this time in the center of the couch facing Burt. “So, you’ll be nice to them, even if they are more like me and less like you?”

“You said they weren’t gay.”

“I said I don’t know if they’re gay. You’ve still got a ways to go, Dad. Your Lima background still shows through. Just keep reminding yourself that gay guys are NOT girls with...” He didn’t finish his sentence and started again. “Gay guys are just guys who are attracted to guys. There are gay football players, gay musicians, gay doctors, gay lawyers, gay teachers, and I’m sure there are gay mechanics because I’m one of them. Not all gay guys like musicals and fashion. Just like not all girls like wearing make up and dresses. You have too many stereotypes in your mind still. It’s time to let them go.”

“You’re right. You’re the only gay person I know well and I base what I know about being gay on you.”

“Which is sort of like me basing all straight men on Puck.”

Burt laughed and nodded in understanding.

“Just picking one person as a representative of a whole group rarely turns out to be very accurate.”

“I’ll work on it. I promise.”

“Some gay guys have families that disown them if they come out. Being rich doesn’t change that. I have my suspicions about a couple of the Warblers, but I would never ask. I don’t do that to people. So, all I can tell you about them is that if any of them are gay, they’re in the closet, where they’ll stay until they feel safe to come out, which would probably be after college for guys who are expected to go to Ivy League schools like their fathers did.”

“Alright. I get it. Do you like Sebastian?”

“What, like romantically? Not that I couldn’t, but he’s going back to France at the end of May. Getting romantically involved with someone who’s leaving the country in six months isn’t a good idea.”

“Well, he’s welcome and any of the other guys you want to have over. I’ve been unfair to you and I need to stop. It wasn’t my place to say that you can only have female friends and that’s how I made you feel. I’m sorry.”

“There’s one more thing I need to tell you,” he said with trepidation.

“What’s that?”

“I rejoined the Cheerios.”

Burt’s reaction was apoplectic. “With that insane woman in charge?”

“I needed another extra-curricular activity for my CV for college. It’s not like I have a lot of options. I’m pretty sure the God Squad isn’t recruiting atheists these days. And unlike Rachel, I can’t just make myself welcome in any group by showing up wearing short skirts and bearing plates of cookies.”

“What?” he asked, clearly not understanding what Kurt meant.

“The other after-school clubs don’t want the school fag to join them.”

“Oh.” He sighed heavily.

“So, it was the Cheerios or nothing. Coach Sue and I have negotiated the terms of my participation. She clearly wanted me to rejoin because she consented to all of my terms and I only had to give in to one of hers.”

“Which was?” he asked hesitantly.

“To carry the Cheerios backpack.”

“Weird.”

“It’s in a box in the garage. I’m searching every last centimeter of the thing before I’m using it. If I could find someone to x-ray it, I would. I think I’ll soak it overnight before I start to use it.”

“You think she bugged it?”

“Who knows? Why was the backpack the hill she was willing to die on? Just seemed weird. She could have done it just to drive me crazy by making me wonder what’s in the backpack. I wouldn’t put it past her. She thrives on fear and unease.”

He nodded in understanding after having dealt with her during the campaign.

“I’ve need to go double-check that I finished everything that’s due tomorrow. I’m going to invite Sebastian over too. Thanks, Dad.”

He hopped up, leaned over and hugged Burt again, and took off for his room.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After cleaning the kitchen after dinner Monday evening, Kurt went to Finn’s room to talk to him. He knocked on the door.

“Come in, Kurt.”

“Hey, Finn. I need to talk to you.” He stood in the doorway, not going into the room itself.

“Um, yeah. Sure. Just a sec.” Finn found something to stick in the textbook he was reading. “Not that I ever remember what I read in that book, but I do read it.”

“That’s good.”

“So, what did you want?”

“Right. So, I came to tell you that I’m going to start having my friends over to the house sometimes too.”

“Your friends are my friends too, so I don’t understand why you’re telling me this.”

“No, Finn. My own friends. Ones you don’t know.”

“You have other friends?”

“I do. I just never invited them here.”

“Oh. Alright. Why is this a problem for me?”

“They go to Dalton.”

“Oh. Rachel.”

“Exactly. Think about this, okay? You meet some guys playing basketball down at the park. You start actually setting up times to play with them. You make friends with them. You invite them over and then realize that they play basketball for whoever our rivals are.”

“Thurston.”

“Fine. They play for Thurston. Do you stop being friends with them and inviting them over just because they’re on the rival team?”

“Nah. We’re just going to play video games and watch movies or TV or something.”

“Exactly. My friends are Warblers. We’ll do things we like to do, but it won’t involve me giving away our set list or anything.”

“I think I get it. I’ll just avoid telling Rachel that they’re Warblers.”

“She’ll figure it out. Just remember that this is my home not hers. She can’t dictate who I am friends with or who I invite over.”

“Got it.”

“You don’t have to get to know them or anything. I just wanted you to know that there are going to be people around. I’m done being on my own all the time.”

“You have Glee Club.” Finn sounded thoroughly confused by Kurt’s statement.

Kurt crossed his arms. “How many of them intentionally spend time with me?”

“You used to hang out with the girls.”

“Well, that leaves Tina to hang out with since Quinn never spent time with me, and Tina’s busy with Mike a lot of the time. And Rachel’s not exactly at the top of my list of favorite people right now. I do want to ask her something the next time she’s over though.”

“Sure, whatever.”

“That’s it. I gotta do my reading too.”

Finn picked his book back up and Kurt went back to his room.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After dinner on Tuesday, Kurt had his chance to speak to Rachel since she stayed for dinner. It went about as badly as he had anticipated that it would. She confirmed what Sebastian had told him, but acted like their efforts to better their acting were perfectly legitimate. He did not tell her where he had gotten his information or what Blaine had done to him.  

He refocused his mind by spending the rest of the evening memorizing the script that Matt had given him to learn.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Wednesday morning, Kurt knocked on Sam’s door and got a groan for a response. He opened the door, assuming that the groan meant “come in.” He walked over to Sam’s bed and plopped on it and lay back.

“This is not you helping me bake.”

Sam opened his eyes. “Baking. Right. I’m awake. Mostly.”

“There’s coffee downstairs. I already made blueberry muffins.”

“What time is it?”

“8:00.”

“You ‘slept in’ and already made a batch of muffins by 8:00? I think we need to revisit what the phrase ‘sleep in’ means.”

“I slept until 7:00. That’s an hour later than normal.”

“I suppose… But I was thinking of sleeping in until like 10:00.”

“Oh.”

“It’s okay. I should have been more specific. I’ll come help. Do I have to get dressed to do it?”

“Nope. It’s just me and you here. Well, Finn’s asleep, but that doesn’t count because as soon as he gets up, he’s going to Puck’s. I’m sure he’ll try to take at least some of what we make before he leaves.”

“Alright. Get off my covers so I can get up.”

Kurt hopped up.

“Lead the way, oh cheerful one.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Three hours later, there was a pie in the oven, a cake on the counter, a cheesecake in the fridge, and 6 dozen cookies in containers.

“So, more desserts or move on to vegetable chopping?”

Kurt held up both hands and started naming people and counting. “I count 12 people, but Rachel won’t eat any of these desserts because they aren’t vegan.”

“Are we making anything for her?”

“Nope. She can bring her own dessert if she wants one.”

“You’re still mad at her.” He sat down on a stool at the island.

“I am.” He said adamantly.

“There’s a newer reason...”

“There is.” Kurt moved to the island and sat down as well.

“And it is…”

“Something that would make you want to punch more people.”

Sam crossed his arms. “I’m going to make you a shirt that says, ‘Protected by Sam Evans.’”

Kurt laughed. “Are you my bodyguard now?”

“No. I’m your friend. Do these other people lack the intelligence to understand what that means?”

“Well, I didn’t know what it really meant. Maybe you’re the one who’s weird. Maybe everyone treats their friends like the people at McKinley.”

“That’s a depressing statement. I hope not. Are you going to tell me what she did or shall I just shun her in deference to you being angry with her?”

“Grudge by proxy?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Something like that.” Sam nodded once, indicating it was a done deal.

“Well, then you’ll have to be mad at Artie too.”

“I can do that.”

Kurt laughed. He got up and hugged Sam. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Sam hugged back.

“Just being you.”

“Well, you’re welcome, I guess.”

“So, vegetables?” Kurt opened the fridge and started grabbing the vegetables.

“Yes. Vegetables.” Sam took them from him and piled them next to the sink to wash them.

By the time Carole came home from work, the raw veggie tray, the salad, and the vegetables that were going to be cooked, as well as the potatoes, were prepped.

She came in the kitchen after she hung up her coat. “Well, you two have been busy. It doesn’t look like there’s much left for me to do.”

The two of them were sitting at the island again, drinking ice tea, snacking on the bits and pieces of raw veggies they didn’t use for the tray, and talking.

“Well, you like to make the biscuits, so we left those for you. And I know you have a special way to make the dressing, so that needs done still,” Kurt said.

“And we didn’t cook any of the vegetables, just prepped them to be cooked tomorrow or whenever,” Sam pointed out.

“Well, you two were a big help. I had looked forward to doing it with you, but when Sherry called out, I had to go in.”

“It got done and that’s the important part,” Kurt said. “Oh, and as an act of intolerance and willful insolence on my part, I didn’t make any vegan desserts.”

“I think there’s the soy ice cream that she keeps here in the downstairs freezer, if she wants it.”

“Works for me,” Kurt said.

Carole looked at Sam with a questioning expression when Kurt had his back turned to her. Sam shrugged when Kurt turned the other direction to put his glass in the dishwasher.

She handed them a $20 bill. “You two can order in or go out for dinner tonight. And I’ll guard the desserts from any bottomless pit teenagers or sneaky middle-aged men that might show up attempting to gain early access.”

“Thanks,” Kurt said.

“Yeah, thanks!”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, in or out?” Kurt asked as they walked up the stairs.

“Let’s go out.”

“Where?”

“Someplace we’ve never been, like that Korean place out on the edge of town.”

“You pick, but you might want to wear clothes if we’re going out.” Kurt laughed as he walked past Sam’s door to his own room to put his shoes on.

“Right.” A couple of minutes later, Sam came down to Kurt’s room wearing clothes instead of his pajamas. He sat on Kurt’s chair and put his shoes on. “Let’s go.”

 

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Here try this.” Kurt stuck his fork out and Sam ate the bite of chicken.

“Ooh. That’s spicy, but it’s good. Try this one,” he said, offering Kurt a bite of the dish he was eating.

“Sweet, but still spicy, but not as spicy as this one.”

“I have no idea what’s in this one, but it’s good. Try it.” Sam pushed the container towards Kurt, who took a forkful.

“Oh, it’s really crunchy. I’m not sure what I expected, but I like it.”

Kurt had added $10 of his own money and they had ordered a bunch of different things, mostly just by pointing, not really knowing at all what they ordered. They took one of the to-go menus to the table with them and made notes on it.

“I’m marking this one with a star. I really like it. If we come back, I’ll definitely get it again,” Kurt said.

“We should find more places like this and come once in a while. Places where the lame loser lowlife students don’t go to eat. That way we can enjoy ourselves without interference.”

“Good plan because this is fun.”

They talked and ate until everything was gone.

“I’m going to be waddling out of here,” Kurt said rubbing his stomach.

“It was mostly vegetables though, so it’s not so bad.”

“I already decided that calories will not be counted this holiday.”

“Good because I think you’ve lost weight you didn’t need to lose.”

“Watching my figure for me, are you?” Kurt swaggled as they walked across the parking lot.

“I just want you to be healthy and Sue’s crazy. And I know I can go overboard on the watching what I eat too. We can watch each other’s figures,” Sam said.

“We should probably head home before Carole loses the battle of the wills with Dad and Finn and whoever else is there trying to wear her down to let them have ‘just a little dessert.’”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt asked Mary to bring the kids in old clothes that didn’t matter and to bring their nice clothes with them. When they arrived that morning, Kurt and Sam took Stevie and Stacey to the lake to go on an adventure. Kurt had made up a scavenger hunt with normal things found in the woods – a round rock, a stick, a leaf as big as a hand, and other stuff. They gave each of them a plastic grocery bag and set them loose to start searching. Kurt took a camera and photographed them.

A little before noon, they headed back to the house. They took the kids into Kurt’s room and Stacey showered first. Kurt blew her hair dry and then French braided it, while Stevie showered. They both put their nice clothes on.

“Now, both of you sit on the bed for a minute,” Sam told them. “And close your eyes after you sit down.”

Kurt opened the closet and handed Sam a crown and a sword. He grabbed the other set and closed the door back.

“Alright, open your eyes.”

Both of their eyes widened.

Sam spoke, “Steven William Evans, please arise and kneel.”

Kurt spoke, “Stacey Renee Evans, please arise and kneel.”

Both of them had huge smiles on their faces and did as they had been told. Sam and Kurt placed the crowns on their heads first, and then tapped them lightly on each shoulder with the foam swords.

Sam said, “I dub thee, ‘Squire Stevie the Sage’” and placed the sword into Stevie’s hands.

Kurt said, “I dub thee, “Princess Stacey the Astute’” and placed the sword into Stacey’s hands.

“Be gentle with your subjects and rule kindly.” Kurt said to them both.

“Yes, Kurt,” Stacey said quietly.

“I will,” Stevie said solemnly in his most regal voice.

“Arise, young squire and princess and be on your way,” Kurt said solemnly.

Sam whispered, “And don’t break anything with the swords.”

They both nodded and took of running out of the room. “Mommy, look…” was the last thing they heard as Stevie and Stacey ran down the stairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt managed to steer clear of Rachel the whole afternoon, with a little help from Sam now and then. Everyone enjoyed the meal. Burt, Stevie and the teens moved down to the family room to watch sporting events while the ladies and the Berrys stayed up in the living room talking. Kurt headed to his room.

About 20 minutes later, Kurt heard very faint knocking on his door.

“Come in.”

“Kurt, will you play with me? The grown ups are really boring.”

“Sure, sweetheart. Would you like to draw or what?”

She pulled a Barbie out from behind her back. “Can we make her a new dress?”

“Sure.” Kurt opened his closet and brought out a sewing box. Kurt opened it and took out about 10 pieces of scrap fabric and laid them out on the bed. “Do you like any of these?”

“I like…umm…this purple one and this red one,” she said as she pointed.

“Excellent choices.” Kurt put the other pieces back in the box. He took out needles and grabbed a spool of thread. “So, today, we can make one slightly fancier dress or two more simple dresses. So, what would Barbie prefer?”

Stacey stood there for a couple of minutes. “How about two simple dresses today and maybe next time I come we can make her a fancier dress.”

“That’s a good plan. So, does she have a sweater?”

Stacey nodded.

“Perfect. Then we can make her two sleeveless dresses and she can wear them all year round.”

Stacey smiled. “Alright. What do we need to do?”

“Well, first we need to take off the dress she’s wearing and trace it on to a piece of paper.”

Stacey started undressing the doll, while Kurt got a pencil and a piece of paper. Stacey sat at his desk with the dress. He laid the paper down and showed her how to do it carefully.

“Now is when we decide if we want the dress to be any different than the one she’s wearing.”

“It will already be different ‘cause it’s a different color.”

“Well, that’s true, but do you want it to have a fuller skirt or a more narrow skirt or the same style?”

“A twirly skirt like my dress.” She got up and spun in a circle. “So she can twirl her dress too.”

“Good choice.”

She climbed back into the chair. “So how do we make it twirly?”

“Like this.” Kurt changed the shape of the skirt on the paper.

“That will make it twirly?”

“It will.”

“Cool.”

They worked on cutting the fabric out and Kurt told her the reasons behind all of the steps. She watched very carefully as he sewed the tiny hems and added a ribbon to the neck and waist since he didn’t have any tiny snaps.

Once he had finished, he handed it to her.   “Try it on her and see what she thinks.”

Stacey put it on, but needed a little help with the neck.

“I’ll be sure and get some small snaps or Velcro for when you come the next time. You can bring it with you and I’ll update it with something to make the neck easier to fasten.”

“Okay,” she said cheerfully. “There. It’s on.”

“Does she like it?”

Stacey carried the doll and stood it on Kurt’s vanity in front of the mirror and she made it spin in a circle. “She loves it. It’s her first twirly dress.”

“Well, I’m glad she approves. Does she want a second twirly dress or some other type of dress?”

“Definitely another twirly dress.”

Kurt thought she would lose interest the second time around, but she watched just as carefully as she had the first time. He finished it and handed it to her. “Does she want to try this one on too?”

“Of course,” she said with a tone the implied she couldn’t believe Kurt could think anything else. She took the red dress off and put the purple one on. Kurt helped her with the neck again. She stood the doll back in front of the mirror. “She loves this one too. She says, ‘You make the best dresses, even better than the store.’”

“Well, that’s high praise indeed. Thank you, Barbie.”

“She says, ‘You’re welcome.’”

Kurt put the needles and thread back in the box and put it back in his closet.

“Maybe you could get a Barbie before I come the next time, and my Barbie could play with yours.”

“That sounds like a good idea. Sam and I will go shopping for one.”

“Sammy doesn’t like Barbies.”

“Well, I think I can persuade him to come with me anyway.”

She said, “Okay…” obviously wondering how Kurt could get her big brother to go shopping for a Barbie.

“Would you like to go downstairs and get a ziplock bag to put the dress Barbie was wearing when she came and her new dress in so they stay clean and don’t get lost?”

“That’s a good idea,” she said. “But first, I’m going to show Mommy.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They got to the bottom of the stairs and nearly collided with Sam.

“Mom came downstairs looking for Stacey thinking that she was with me, but she wasn’t. I came up thinking that you had gotten to talking with my Carole or something, but you weren’t upstairs.”

“Well, you found us. We’ve been busy.”

“Look, Sammy. Barbie has two new twirly dresses.”

“Oh, wow. Did Kurt make those?”

“He did and he let me pick the fabric and then showed me how to do it. I’m going to go show Mommy.” Stacey flounced off to the living room.

Sam stayed standing close to Kurt. “I’m going to have to break her heart one of these days and every time you wow her, it’s going to make it just that much harder.”

“You goof. She’ll grow up soon enough and find some boy her own age to have a crush on.”

“None of them will be as cool as you though.”

“Come on.” Kurt turned Sam and pushed him toward the kitchen. “I told her I would get the Barbie version of a garment bag for her clothing, otherwise known as a ziplock bag.”

Stacey came scurrying back to the kitchen. “Mommy loves her dresses too and she reminded me to say ‘thank you.’” Stacey wrapped her arms around Kurt.

He leaned over and scooped her up. “You are quite welcome.”

“Did you tell Sammy yet?”

“No, I didn’t, but I will.”

“Tell me what?” Sam stepped closer and tapped her on the nose causing her to laugh.

“That you and I are going to go shopping so that I can have my very own Barbie the next time that Stacey comes so that her Barbie has someone to play with.”

“We can do that.”

Stacey looked shocked. “But you don’t like Barbies.”

“But I like you and I like Kurt and I like you two to have fun together, so I will go with him to get a friend for your Barbie to play with when she comes.”

“Yay.” She fell into Sam and wrapped her arms around his neck.

Sam grabbed her from Kurt and carried her. “You’re a monkey.”

“No, I’m a princess. Kurt said so.”

“You’re right. You’re a princess because Kurt says so. I’m going to put you down and you can be the one who gets to tell everyone they can come have dessert in 10 minutes, okay?”

“Okay,” she said cheerfully. She skipped off announcing the news to everyone in the living room before heading down to the family room.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt sliced the pumpkin pie, the cheesecake, and the chocolate cake. He got out a rectangular storage container and a piece of parchment paper and cut it into three sections. He carefully wrapped a piece of each dessert in the parchment paper and placed them into the container and put the container in the refrigerator. He grabbed four cookies from the container and put them in a small storage bowl and put it in the cabinet with the canned food.

Sam gave him a puzzled look.

Kurt spoke quietly. “It’s for Sebastian. I promised him dessert when he comes tomorrow.”

“Ah. Grabbing some before the hordes of locusts decimate everything?”

“Exactly.”

“Speaking of locusts…” Kurt said quietly as Finn made sure he was first in line by showing up before the 10 minutes were up.

“It’s only been 8 minutes, Finn,” Sam said.

“You’ve been hanging around with Kurt too much.”

“Nope, not possible.”

“So, Finn, what will it be for you this fine evening?” Kurt asked, standing behind the island that they had set up as the dessert station.

“It? What do you mean ‘it’? I want one of everything.”

“There are 12 people, Finn. Everyone gets one of something before anyone gets seconds.”

“Fine. I’ll have pumpkin pie.”

Kurt served him a slice and handed it to him. “The whipped cream is right here, if you want some. Save some for everyone else, please.”

Everyone else got in line. Sam and Kurt served everyone and they all went back into the dining room and sat around the table enjoying their desserts. Finn was at the back of the line right behind the last person in line.

“Alright, Finn. What would you like next?”

“Cheesecake.”

By the time everyone who wanted seconds had been through the line, Finn was back to get a piece of chocolate cake.

After Finn had walked away, Kurt said, “I’ll split something with you. You’re choice.”

Sam put the last slice of cheesecake on a plate and got two forks. They stood in the kitchen and ate it.

“That was good. Really good,” Sam said.

“I agree.” Kurt picked the glass plate up and put it in the sink carefully. “Can you grab the pie dish?”

“Sure.” Sam grabbed it and got a spoon out of the drawer and scooped up the remnants in the dish just to taste it.   “That was good too. I’ve had your chocolate cake before, so I know that’s good, and the chocolate chip cookies are always amazing.”

“Thanks. From the looks of things, everyone else agrees. There’s not much left.” Kurt washed what he had in the sink, and then handed each item to Sam to dry and put away.

He got out a storage container and moved the three remaining slices of cake to the container, but left it sit on the island with the lid underneath. He washed the cake stand, and handed it to Sam as well.

The dishwasher had already been run and Kurt noticed it was finished. He opened it and he and Sam put all of the dishes away to make room for all of the small plates that people had used for their desserts. He and Sam went into the dining room and collected everyone’s plates and reloaded the dishwasher. While they were in the kitchen cleaning, LeRoy, Hiram, and Rachel had left, which was a relief to Kurt.

Once the dishwasher was reloaded, Kurt went back into the dining room. “Who wants to watch The Incredibles with me?” He intentionally chose something that he could catch Stevie’s attention with.

“Me, me, me!” Stacey put her hand up.

“Me too!” Stevie said.

“Me three,” Kurt heard Sam say from behind him.

“Well, whoever is watching it with me needs to get their pajamas on and be in Sam’s room really soon.” Kurt turned and headed for his room quickly.

Stevie and Stacey jumped up and ran to Sam’s room to get changed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“You are sneaky, Kurt Hummel.”

“Hey, they’re asleep on the air mattress where they’re supposed to be. No fussing. No ‘I’m not tired.’ Or ‘Read me another story.’”

Sam was lying in Kurt’s bed and started to imitate a younger child, “But Kurt, I’m not tired. Read me another story.”

Kurt smacked him with a pillow. “Hush. I thought we were going to watch whatever it is that you brought in here.”

“We are.” He picked up a DVD case off the side shelf. “Here.” He handed Kurt the DVD and put the case back on the shelf.

They had already turned the lights off, so Kurt couldn’t see what the movie was. He slid the DVD into his laptop and waited for it to load.

“Ooh. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. Awesome. I didn’t know you had gotten to the top of the list at the library.”

“I picked it up Tuesday and kept it hidden.”

“See, you’re just as sneaky as I am.”

“Scoot closer and put your leg next to mine. Then you won’t have to hold it at all.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure, I’m sure. I’m 100% sure that you don’t have cooties - now scoot closer.”

They got everything situated and Kurt started the movie.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Kurt and Sam woke up to the smell of bacon and sausage.

“Mmm. Smells good, but I wanna sleep. Hold still. If you get up, all the heat will leak out,” Sam said.

“Fine. I’ll lie here until one of the moms comes and gets us or yells for us to come down or your mini-mes come in here and jump on us.”

The door flew open and two thwumps could be heard and Stevie jumped on the bed.

“Get up, Sammy. Get up,” Stacey insisted, as she stood next to the bed shaking Sam.

Sam fake snored.

“Mommy and Aunt Carole are making bacon.”

Sam pretended to snore louder.

“Please get up. She says we can’t eat any until you come down and eat with us.”

Sam snapped up and grabbed her. She screamed and laughed as he tickled her.

“You’re a big faker. Get up or I’m going to steal your bacon off your plate when you aren’t looking.” She wriggled loose and ran off, with Stevie trailing behind her.

Sam didn’t move.

“You’re willing to risk your bacon to lie here in bed?” Kurt asked Sam. “Not me. She’s a girl of her word. Your bacon is at serious risk.” Kurt got up and went around to the other side of the bed. He grabbed Sam’s hands and pulled him up to sitting.

Sam took advantage of the situation and reversed the hold and yanked Kurt down onto the bed and started to tickle him the way he had tickled Stacey. After a minute or so, he let him up.

Kurt grabbed the pillow Sam had been sleeping on and whacked him with it. “Get up. People are waiting.”

Sam was laughing hysterically by this point. “Go on then, if you’re so hungry. I’ll be right there.” Sam got up and headed into Kurt’s bathroom.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam let Stacey steal two slices of his bacon. He knew they didn’t often get expensive things like bacon, so he didn’t mind at all. He just pretended so she’d have the fun of being sneaky and swiping it from him.

Burt said, “I can’t believe you slept in, Kurt. You’ve always been a huge fan of Black Friday sales and you’re out of the house at 4:00 in the morning headed off to some great sale.”

“I don’t need any new clothes.”

“Sam, put your hand on his forehead. Is he sick?” Burt teased.

“I’m fine, Dad. I really don’t have to have anything, but I might go later and get another pair of jeans.”

“Don’t you own like 50?” Finn asked.

“Actually no. I sorted through all of my stuff a few weeks back and I sold the stuff that didn’t fit or I don’t wear anymore.”

“That’s a good idea, Kurt,” Carole said.

“There are some places in Columbus and Cincinnati, probably all of the bigger cities where you can sell teen clothes that are in good condition. Now, that I think about it, I might get some Vans, if I find a good deal.”

“What are Vans?” Burt asked.

“Skateboarding shoes,” Sam answered.

“Why do you need skateboarding shoes?”

“Matt’s been teaching me as part of my acting lessons. It helps with balance and stuff.”

“Interesting,” Burt said, slightly shaking his head in confusion.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The Evans clan had packed up to leave by 11:00 because Dwight had to work the afternoon shift.

Kurt buckled Stacey into her booster seat. “I’m glad you came to visit us,” he said to her.

“Me too. Maybe you can come see us with Sammy some time.”

“Maybe.”

Sam came around and gave her a kiss on the top of the head.

They waved as the car pulled out of the driveway.

“I know you miss them,” Kurt said to Sam.

“I do, but I like it here. As crazy as it is here, school there was just awful. I hope my parents can find someplace else to live soon, at least a better school district before Stevie is old enough for middle school. Let’s go back inside. Do you really want to go out and get the jeans and shoes?”

“I do and I don’t, but I keep wearing the same pair of jeans to Cincinnati every time. I’d like to get a second pair. So, yes, but let’s go do a quick search and see who has the best prices for the shoes before we go anywhere. Plus, Sebastian will be here at 2:00. So, we’ll need to be back by then.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

At 2:00, Sebastian pulled into the driveway. Kurt was already downstairs waiting, so he opened the door instantaneously as Sebastian stepped almost close enough to ring the doorbell.

Sebastian jumped a little when Kurt opened the door. “Where you just standing there?”

“Basically. I’m excited you’re here. Come in.”

Sebastian laughed. “Why are you so excited?”

“You’re here. Isn’t that enough reason?”

“Whatever. You’re crazy.”

“I don’t see the problem.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. He stopped and looked around as he took his coat off. It was a nicer house than he had actually expected. The door opened into an entryway, which had a dining room off of it to the right and a living room to the left.

Kurt reached out, offering to take Sebastian’s coat. “I’ll hang it up for you, but from now on feel free to just put it in the closet yourself.” He turned around and opened a large coat closet. He put Sebastian’s coat on a hanger, hung it in the closet, and shut the closet door. “This way.”

Sebastian followed him, carrying a leather duffle and a satchel.

“So, the living room and dining room both lead to the kitchen, sort of.” Kurt turned to the left and led them through the living room into the hallway at the back of the living room. “That opening leads into the kitchen, as you can see.” He pointed right. “That doorway leads down to the family room.” He pointed to a door on the left side of the hallway and said, “That’s a bathroom. This way is the way to the bedrooms.” He turned left. “Up these stairs is my room, Finn’s room, and Sam’s room. On this floor over there,” pointing to the left, “is the master bedroom and the office my dad and Carole share.” Kurt led Sebastian up the stairs. When they got to the top, he stopped. “That door leads into Finn’s room,” indicating the door they were nearly facing. He turned left and walked a few feet. Pointing to the door on their right, “That’s Sam’s room.”   They walked to the end of the hall. “And this is my room.” Kurt walked through the door, which was on the left. “Go on and put your stuff in here and I’ll finish your tour.”

Sebastian sat his duffle and satchel on the chair by Kurt’s window.

Sebastian looked around. “Nice room.”

“Thanks. Were you expecting something different?”

“I really didn’t know what to expect. Most of the times we’ve talked, it’s mostly been via text or on the phone. You’re not really very predictable. The day we met, you looked like a runway model, but that day we met at the café, you looked much more casual – your hair wasn’t even styled much. Then at the club, you had eyeliner and leather pants and well, you were looking all kinds of hot.”

Kurt blushed. “Thank you?”

“So the rest of the tour?” he asked to ease Kurt’s embarrassment.

“Right, right. Back downstairs.”

As they walked past Sam and Finn’s doors again, Kurt said, “Those two bedrooms share a bathroom. It’s in the space between their two bedroom doors. You can only get into the bathroom by going into one of the rooms. My room has it’s own bathroom, which you’ll be sharing with me.”

Sebastian nodded.

They headed down the stairs.

Kurt stopped at the bottom of the stairs and pointed to the right. “The door on the left leads out to the garage. The door on the right leads to the master suite. The other door leads to the office.” He turned to the left and walked toward the kitchen. “Like I said, that’s the bathroom and this way leads down to the family room.”

Kurt opened the door and went down the stairs. Sebastian followed him.

“So, down here there’s a TV with a couple of gaming systems.” When they got to the bottom, Kurt stepped to the side and started talking again. “That room over there is just a storage room. There’s a big deep freezer in there where we keep more food. Otherwise, we’d have to go the store like every other day. Finn and everyone else he brings over eat a lot of food.”

“Got it.”

“So, feel free to do whatever you’d like. If Finn and his friends are here, you’ll never get to use the TV. I’ll give you the wifi password and the Netflix password and you can watch whatever you want on your laptop.”

“So, you have one TV?” Sebastian asked after he looked around the room.

“Yeah, well no. There’s one in my parent’s room. Why?”

“Oh, my father’s house has 6 I think - no 7.”

“Only four people live there. Why would there be 7 TVs?”

“Thing 1 and Thing 2 have one in each of their rooms, there’s one in my room, one in my father’s bedroom, one in the living room, the family room, and a small one in the kitchen.”

“Wow. Well, here, we have just the one TV for all of the teens.”

“It’s fine. I couldn’t figure out why they had so many either. We have just one in the main room. I thought maybe it was an American thing for there to be TVs in the bedrooms.”

“We had just the one before Dad and Carole got married. Carole got rid of their TV when they moved in with us. It was one of those old bulky ones with a pretty small screen. After Finn started having people over so often to play video games, my dad eventually got tired of not being able to watch his shows. He bought a bigger TV and put it in here and kept our smaller TV for their bedroom.”

“Makes sense.”

“So, let’s go back up.”

They went back up and went into the kitchen.

“So, the door over there leads to the laundry room. The pantry shelves are in the laundry room. Obviously you can see the appliances. The snacks are in this cabinet.” Kurt opened it showing the selection. “The only thing off limits is the beer in the fridge. The dining room is obviously through there.”

“So, your friends just walk in and help themselves to snacks and drinks.” He sat down on one of the bar stools.

“Well, Finn’s friends do. I’ve not really had anyone over to this house.”

“Oh, did you move recently?”

“Almost a year ago. They got the house about a month after they got married. I was at Dalton when they bought it.”

Sebastian didn’t know what to say, so he changed the subject. “So, when are you baking me cookies?”

Sam walked in the kitchen. “Hey, Sebastian. I didn’t hear the doorbell.”

“That’s because Kurt opened the door before I got a chance to ring it.”

Sam laughed. “He has a lot more than just cookies for you.”

“Oh, really?” Sebastian smirked.

“He saved one piece of every dessert he made for Thanksgiving for you.”

Kurt pulled the container out of the refrigerator and grabbed the cookies out of the cabinet where he had hidden them.

“These are all for me?” he asked, almost shyly, as Kurt put the bowl of cookes and the container with the desserts in front of him on the island.

“Yep.” Kurt turned and got a fork out and handed it to Sebastian and stood next to the island.

Sebastian took the fork from Kurt. He took a bite of the cheesecake, then the chocolate cake, and then the pumpkin pie. He quickly sat the fork down and got down on one knee and took Kurt’s hand.

“Marry me.”

Kurt knocked him back on his butt and laughed. “Get up you goof. I guess that means you like them?” He offered his hand and pulled Sebastian to standing.

“They’re fabulous. You should start a business.” He took one cookie out of the bowl, sealed it back, and started eating it. “This is fantastic. Seriously, the best cookie, ever.” He put the lid back on the container with the three desserts in it and put it back in the fridge.

“I thought you liked them.”

“Oh, I do. But I’m not going to eat them all at once. I’m going to savor the experience.”

“You are a goof.” Kurt grabbed the fork and opened the dishwasher and stuck it in the utensils basket. “So, we’re all even now, right? No one’s feeling shorted anymore? Sam got his bear hug. Sebastian got his cookies.”

Sam was leaning against the counter near the sink. “Now, wait,” Sam said.

“Wait what?” Kurt turned to look at him.

“This isn’t the end right? I mean you’re not just going to leave us hanging from now on?” Sam asked, blinking and looking quite dejected.

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“That wasn’t like the last bear hug or the last desserts?” Sebastian asked pathetically, following Sam’s lead.

Kurt looked back toward Sebastian. “You’re as much as a goof as he is. You’re both crazy.”

“Pot calling the kettle and hmmm … skillet. Yeah, pot calling the kettle and the skillet black,” Sam said.

Kurt rolled his eyes. “I have some laundry to do. You two can either participate or do whatever you want while I get it started.” Kurt walked back toward the stairs and went up to his room.

Sebastian and Sam followed him.

“So, we’re playing follow the leader, are we?”

“Well, my stuff is in YOUR room. I’m not sure what HIS excuse is.” Sebastian laughed, pushing Sam towards his own bedroom door.

They both followed Kurt into his room.

Kurt took the pair of jeans he had bought out of the bag and took the tags off. He grabbed some other darks and the other pair of jeans he had been wearing every weekend and carried them back down to the laundry room and started the washer. He went back upstairs to find Sebastian and Sam lying on his bed.

“So, you two are just going to hang out on my bed while I’m being domestic? This isn’t some strange ménage-a-trois, where I’m the 50s housewife.”

“Hmm. Interesting idea, but I’m pretty sure that I’m a one guy kind of guy,” Sebastian said.

Sam added, “And as much as you might like gender-bending, runway-style clothes, I’m pretty sure you would hate doing housework in a fitted skirt and heels.”

Kurt laughed. “Those TV shows were nuts. Even if those women didn’t leave their houses without putting on hose, heels, and the proper dress, there is no way they wore those clothes to do household chores in. And sleeping in separate twin beds once they were married? Boring.”

Sam and Sebastian both laughed.

Kurt stood and sorted the rest of his laundry. “Do you two really not have any schoolwork to do?”

“I actually do,” Sam said. “I should probably go get that done.”

“Please?” Kurt asked. “I’d like to do something fun this evening and if you still have schoolwork to do then, we can’t all do something together.”

“Alright. I’ll go be studious.” Sam got up and went to his room.

“So, what about you? Surely the prestigious Dalton Academy didn’t give you a week off from schoolwork?” Kurt sat down on the end of the bed, near Sebastian’s feet, making sure his laundry was inside out and putting it back in the basket.

“No, but I already did it. It made a great excuse to sit in the library at my father’s family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.”

“I see. Duty before relaxation.”

“You know the family motto.”

“It’s the family motto around here too, well at least the Hummel part of the family. Finn horses around all the time. So, how did you end up having free time to come here? I thought you had other family obligations, and then you texted asking if you could come, even though you had originally said you couldn’t.”

“Well, my father, in his generosity, said that I didn’t have to go to my stepmother’s family event today. So, I was set free.”

“Well, I’m glad you came.”

“Me too. Are you as good a cook as you are baker?” Sebastian slid up and sat up in the bed and looked around Kurt’s room, paying more attention this time.

Kurt didn’t answer.

“It’s not being conceited if you tell the truth.”

“Yes.”

“That’s really cool. I like to cook, but I think you’re probably better than me.”

“Really? You like to cook too? Sam cooks with me, but the rest of the guys I know just like to show up and eat everything.” Kurt paused and looked around. “If you like to read, feel free to read any of the books. Or like I said I’ll tell you the wifi password and give you the Netflix password.”

“I’m not bored. Talking to you isn’t boring.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Where are the other three people who live here?”

“Oh, they went to Carole’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon in Dayton.”

“You skipped to let me come over?”

“Um, no. I wasn’t invited.” Kurt continued to work on getting his clothes ready to wash.

“Oh. Their loss.”

“Nice way to look at it, but I don’t think so. They don’t want to know me, so what they don’t know won’t be a loss or missed. Carole herself is very accepting and loving, so it’s okay. At least I’m not living with it.”

“My stepmother despises me. That’s why I call my half brother and sister Thing 1 and Thing 2 because they’re my dad’s ‘real’ children. I obviously don’t call them that to their faces. They’re just little kids. It’s not their fault that our father is a jerk.”

“You were born before they were.”

“Ah, but their mother is married to my father and my mother was just a fling that didn’t mean anything.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t do anything. Well, other than being extraordinarily nice to someone who didn’t deserve it.”

Kurt looked up from his task and looked Sebastian directly in the eye. “Hey, stop. You deserve for people to be nice to you. Don’t talk like that.”

“I’ll try,” Sebastian looked away.

“If she dislikes you so much, why did your father bring you here?”

“He wants to make me a respectable person.” Sebastian focused on looking towards the books Kurt had said he could read.

“You already are. You work hard in school. You’re the lead singer for the Warblers.”

“But I’m still gay,” he said quietly.

“Oh.” Kurt stopped messing with the clothes and went around to the other side and sat down on the bed next to Sebastian and took his hand. “It’s alright. You have 6 months left. You’ve got me, Sam, the other Warblers that you’re friendly with. Call me if you’re ever feeling really down. Don’t let them get to you.”

“Thanks.”

Kurt’s alarm went off on his phone. “I’ll be right back.” He grabbed his basket of clothes and headed down. He moved the wet clothes to the dryer and put a new load in the washer. He reset his timer and went right back upstairs. He found Sebastian had fallen asleep in the short period of time that he had been gone. He covered him with a throw, and then grabbed the book he was reading for English, moved Sebastian’s bags to the top of his dresser quietly, and sat in his chair and read.

He changed his phone to vibrate only and went back down when the timer went off. He hung up the clothes that couldn’t be dried, put the clothes that could be dried in the dryer, and folded what had been in the dryer. He went back up to check on Sebastian and he was still asleep.

An hour later, Kurt quietly put away all of his clean clothes and was sitting in the chair reading again when Sebastian woke up.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” He smiled when he noticed that Kurt had covered him with the throw.

“It’s okay. I finished the laundry while you took a nap.”

Kurt lay back down on the bed. “Tell me about Paris.”

Sebastian sat up and folded the throw and laid it on the end of the bed. He got his laptop out, sat back down on the bed, and opened his photos. He handed it to Kurt, who had sat up ready to listen. “I went out before I had to leave and took pictures of my favorite places.”

Chapter Text

The three of them used the Thanksgiving leftovers to make dinner. None of them ate exactly the same things, except for turkey.

“This is really good – all of it. Your stepmother is a MUCH better cook than the catering company my father’s mother hired to prepare our very elegant, yet not nearly as good as this, feast yesterday.”

“Well, if you’re ever in central Ohio for Thanksgiving, consider yourself invited,” Kurt said.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. You could always come for any part of winter break that your father will let you escape here for.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I think that skiing is on the agenda.”

“Ooh. Shmancy,” Sam said.

“Scary,” Sebastian said. “I don’t really want to go. I play lacrosse and I hope to make it on the Dalton team, but that won’t happen if my arm or leg is in a cast.”

“When is lacrosse season?”

“Practices start indoors in February.”

“Yeah, breaking a body part at Christmas won’t give you time to heal by February,” Sam teased.

“I don’t want to break any body parts at all ever, if I can manage it.”

“Me either. I’m not sure how well basketball is going to go. I’ve never played on a team.”

“What position are you?” Sebastian asked.

“Left forward. I’m going to give my best, and we’ll just have to see.”

“I’ll be there EVERY game to cheer you on,” Kurt said, imitating Eeyore’s voice.

“Don’t sound so excited to spend time with me.” Sam stuck his tongue out.

“Ride with me on the Cheerios bus. That would make it more fun.”

“I bet Coach Sue won’t let me within 10 feet of that bus,” Sam scoffed.

“Probably not. But it would be fun at least. I get to ride to the games with 7 girls, some of whom don’t really like that I got the 8th travel team position.”

Sebastian looked confused. “Wait, I’m lost. What’s a Cheerio?”

“Our cheer squad’s name is the Cheerios.”

“You’re a cheerleader?”

“Guilty as charged.”

“Now, this I have to see. When’s the first game?”

“The night before our Sectionals.”

“I’m spending the night here that night. I was going to come to Sectionals anyway and spend Saturday here. I’ll just come early. I’ll wear a red shirt.”

“Lovely,” Kurt said sarcastically.

“I bet you do look lovely in the outfit,” Sebastian said, wiggling his eyebrows.

“It definitely shows off his ASSets,” Sam teased.

“Aaaaah. Enough. You can make fun of me afterward. Be here at 6:30. I’ll swing by and get you during our dinner break.”

“I’ll bring food.”

“No food. We’re not allowed to eat.”

“You get a dinner break that you can’t use to eat dinner?” Sebastian asked.

“Exactly.”

“We’re back to the rabbit hole thing,” Sebastian said.

“Coach Sue is the Red Queen.”

“Off with their heads!” Sam said, sounding as much like Sue as he could. “She would totally do that if she could get away with it.”

“You could bring me a grilled chicken salad with no dressing. I can eat it without touching it, chew gum afterwards, and maybe get away with it.”

“She sounds insane, for real.”

“She is,” Sam said.

“I am never going to understand.”

“Probably not,” Kurt said. “No one does. We just learn to stop asking questions.”

They cleaned everything up and went downstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Four hours later, Kurt and Sebastian were in their pajamas, lying in his bed in the dark, covered up and talking. Sam slept in his own room.

“Now, I’m going to have to join Amazon Prime to watch the rest. How did I let myself get drawn into a Sci Fi series?” Sebastian asked rhetorically.

Kurt just laughed at him. “I’ll give you the Amazon password so you can watch more of it. Sam’s so funny and persuasive that he’s hard to say no to.”

“I found that out tonight. This is all your fault.”

“I know. You’ve told me plenty of times that it’s all my fault that you have friends. Of all the things I’ve ever been blamed for, I actually don’t mind this one at all. I needed a friend too.”

“What about Sam?”

“Well, he’s the first real male friend I’ve ever had and I was at Dalton most of the year and he moved to Kentucky about a month after I went back to McKinley. So, I was really glad when he came back.”

“I see. I know I tease you, but I am glad we’re friends.”

“I know. I mean who wouldn’t be glad to be friends with me? I’m fabulous.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes.

“I can hear you rolling your eyes.”

“Whatever. Sleep.”

“Yes, Mister Bossy Pants.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The three of them spent Saturday out scrounging around Goodwill stores and secondhand stores outside the Lima area looking for costume pieces for Sam and Kurt’s “Under Pressure” duet. Musically they were close to being ready to perform, but they hadn’t worked on the costuming at all.

They carried the bags into the house and were heading up to Kurt’s room.

“I see you opted for shopping after all?” Burt teased.

“It’s for Glee,” Kurt said. “It’s stuff to make costumes for Sam and me.”

Sebastian sat his bag down and walked over to where Burt was sitting and extended his hand. “I’m Sebastian Smythe. It’s nice to meet you, sir.”

“Robert your father?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t call me ‘sir’. Call me ‘Burt’.”

“I’ll try.”

“You’re welcome around here any time, kid.”

“Thanks.”

“Now, get on with your project or Kurt there will turn into quite the taskmaster if helping him make costumes is anything like cooking with him.” Burt laughed.

Sebastian wasn’t used to be teased by adults. “I’ll do my best,” he responded seriously.

“You do that,” Burt laughed. “I can’t even thread a needle, so you can’t possibly be any worse at it than I was when I used to try to help him.”

“I guess we’ll see.”

Burt laughed as the three of them headed toward the stairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Your dad isn’t what I expected,” Sebastian said.

“He wasn’t what I expected the first time I met him either.”

“He’s a softie, most of the time.”

“That’s true, but he’s a papa bear when it comes to Kurt. Dave ended up pinned against a bulletin board with Burt’s arm across his throat when Burt saw him make fun of Kurt.”

“You weren’t even there.” Kurt started taking the stuff out of the bags.

Sam sat down on the bed. “Finn told me. And the night Finn insulted you in Burt’s presence, he got thrown out of the house… for months.”

“That was before he and Carole were married. He didn’t throw Finn out on the street. He just didn’t let him come over for a while. It wasn’t months, but I think it set back the wedding. Anyway, it was just the two of us for a long time and the people of Lima have never been accepting. He just wants to protect me.”

Sebastian was standing next to Kurt facing Sam. “I’ll mind my manners.”

“The stuff you tease me about wouldn’t upset him.”

“Finn referred to Kurt’s room redec as ‘faggy’.”

“Ah, I see. Finn isn’t a fan of interior design?”

“Finn isn’t a fan of anything that isn’t hyper masculine, including me. We’re getting better. He used to be one of the guys who bullied me, along with Puck. The two of them stopped after they joined Glee.”

“If you talk about lacrosse and sports when you first meet him, you’ll have better luck at him liking you. And an even better chance if you never tell him that you’re gay.”

“Meh. Either he likes me or he doesn’t. I already have way more friends than I intended to have.” He elbowed Kurt.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Do you want me to put the suit back on?”

“Nah, I’m going to go wash all of this stuff first. Come on. I’ll introduce Sebastian to Carole and you two can start to help her make dinner.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

A couple of hours later, they were back up in Kurt’s room.

“This suit is made of the wrong fabric completely, but no one else will know that. But it’s definitely the wrong style. You can put it on now, so I can mark it to alter it.” Kurt held the suit out for Sam to take.

Sam grabbed the suit and went in Kurt’s bathroom and put it on. “I’m not convinced that baby blue is my color.”

“But it’s as close as I could find to what David Bowie was wearing in the video. I’m certain that singing with no shirt like Freddie Mercury was in that one video is definitely not me. The yellow jacket isn’t really me either, but at least I won’t be half naked.”

“Their loss.” Sebastian quipped, as he sat down in the chair in the corner.

“Would you knock it off? No one in Glee wants to see me half naked.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Sebastian said.

“From what I’ve heard, Brittany would be all over that idea,” Sam said.

“Yeah, well I’ve done the Brittany all over me idea before. No thanks.”

“The almost week of being straight?” Sebastian asked.

“Exactly. She is a good kisser and at least keeps her hands to herself with a gentle redirect. But she’s totally not my type.”

“So, Mr. Magic, how are you going to turn this 70s suit into an 80s suit?” Sam asked.

“Turn slowly.”

Sebastian wolf whistled.

Sam waggled.

“You two,” Kurt huffed in frustration. “Stand still or you might make me poke you.”

“I’m not worried. Blood would be really hard to get out of baby blue suit. I’m safe.”

Kurt sighed.

Sebastian laughed.

Kurt marked where to start tapering the pants legs. “I’m going to have to work on the jacket lapel to make it narrower. The jacket needs shortened and those pocket flaps need to be removed.” Kurt marked the jacket length. “Okay, you can take it off.”

Sam started to slide the jacket down his back provocatively.

Sebastian wolf whistled again.

“You can take it off in the BATHROOM.”

“You ruin all the fun of this, Kurt,” Sebastian teased.

“Hush.”

Sam came back out in his sweats and handed Kurt the suit.

“Alright. You two can watch a movie or something while I work on this.” Kurt sat down at his desk, where he had set his sewing machine up.

“Have you seen Avatar?”

“No.”

“Then, that’s what we’re watching.” He scurried off to his room to get the DVD and came right back.

Sebastian pulled his laptop out. He and Sam propped Kurt’s pillows up and sat in his bed watching the movie while Kurt fixed the suit up. They paused when Kurt needed Sam to try the pants on again, and then went right back to watching it.

By the time the movie was done, Kurt had fixed up everything except for shortening the jacket. Sam saw that he wasn’t done and took advantage of that and put the special features disc in. Kurt laughed and finished up the jacket.

“Alright. Time to put it back on.” Kurt held out the pieces for Sam to try on again.

“Aw, I like the ‘take it off’ time better,” Sebastian said.

Sam swayed his hips on his way to the closet. He came back out a few minutes later.

“Much better. Much, much better. Once I steam and iron the pieces, the new seams will lay flat and it will look great.”

“You know that’s really amazing, right? The fact that you can just look at it and change it up and make it fit right and look right?”

“It’s fun.”

“It’s a real skill and talent. You’re good.”

“Thank you?”

“He’s right, Kurt.” Sam insisted, when he came back out of the closet. “You are good.”

Kurt just nodded and started picking up the scraps and tossing them in the trash. He laid the suit jacket and slacks on the chair so he could iron them at some point. He put the yellow trench coat on and took a look at himself in the mirror. He started marking it with pins. He cut about 24 inches off the bottom and started cutting the piece into strips about 3 inches wide to make the straps that Freddie Mercury’s jacket had on it.

“I can’t finish the jacket tonight. I forgot about the buckles on the straps. I’ll have to go to a craft or fabric store to get those. I need 8. And I need shiny silver binding for the straps too. It’s too late to finish it tonight anyway. I have to get up and go to Cincinnati in the morning. Do you want to swap places? You can sleep with Sam if you want. That way I won’t wake you up when I get up and get ready.”

“If that’s what you want, I will.”

“It’s up to you. I don’t know when you are planning to head back to Dalton.”

“The doors open at 8:00, so I could leave when you’re leaving.”

“That’s fine too, if you want to head back that early. You’re welcome to stay here with Sam. He lives here just as much as I do. You two can decide while I go shower.” Kurt grabbed pajamas and headed into his bathroom.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian was still in his room when he came back out.

“My turn?”

“Yep. Oh, I forgot to lay anything out for you. There are clean towels and washcloths under the sink.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.” Kurt picked up the strips of yellow fabric and stacked them neatly. He put the jacket on and put pins in it to mark where to put the straps. He was still fiddling with it when Sebastian came back.

“I can see the beginning of what you’re doing. You should start to photograph the steps. You could start a vlog or a YouTube channel or something.”

“Nah. I don’t need the hate. I do this for fun and because I like it. Opening myself up for more attacks would ruin it.” He took it off and turned the lights off after Sebastian got in the bed.

“Wow. The wounds are deep.”

“People have been poking at me since I was 7 or 8. Years of being stabbed leave big wounds. You want to know one thing I like about the new house?”

“What?”

“My dad didn’t keep our landline. Since we all have cell phones, it’s our responsibility to keep them charged and nearby.”

“I don’t get it.”

“The ‘Make the world a better place by killing yourself.’ phone calls are a thing of the past.”

“Oh, my God. You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Completely.”

“I hate this place sometimes.”

“You and me both.”

“Six months.”

“In six months, I’ll still be here. Maybe in 9 months, I’ll be in Cincinnati. Hopefully, the university is more like Dalton. Maybe no fewer homophobes, but they keep their opinions to themselves.”

“I hope so.”

“Sleep. We have to get up early and drive.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Trevor wasn’t back in town from Thanksgiving break, but Kurt enjoyed his acting lesson with Matt at his apartment. After they had finished working on his actual acting skills with the play he had memorized, they went back out and worked on his skateboarding skills at an indoor place that Matt liked to go to.

When he got back to the house, his dad was in the kitchen poking through the fridge looking to see what was still left.

“You three did a good job of wiping out the leftovers.”

“Carole told us to eat them, but don’t worry. I made you a whole meal and stuck it in the freezer where Finn wouldn’t find it. You can take it to work with you tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Sit and I’ll make you a sandwich.” Kurt opened the fridge and pulled stuff out. “I wanted to thank you for not freaking out about Sebastian. He had a good time.”

“I wouldn’t wish for anyone I know to have to live with his father. He’s not abusive, is he?”

“Not in the way you’re thinking. He’s manipulative though. I won’t go into details because it’s not my story to tell.”

“Well, make sure he knows if things ever go south, that he’s welcome here. We’re running out of extra room for the strays, but he can share with you, if it comes to that.”

“Thanks.” Kurt worked on assembly a wrap for Burt.

“I did a lot of thinking. I realized that I was being ridiculous. We live where it’s absolutely not safe for you to be romantic with anyone. And while I’m not thrilled with the idea of you growing up and doing adult things, thinking that you never will would be dumb on my part. I want you to be safe. You’ve already shown that you’re willing to keep your self-respect in tact and not just jump into bed with the first available person. If and when you find someone suitable, the two of you will be welcome here. As long as you’re both adults, I’d even be willing to make sure you have some time to be alone here. I’d rather you be here and safe, than to try to be together somewhere in Lima in a motel or a car.”

Kurt was stunned. He stopped what he was doing and looked at Burt. “That’s really…”

“Shocking.”

“Pretty much.” Kurt laughed and went back to preparing the food.

“You can thank Carole. She helped knock some sense into me. She can be very persuasive.”

Kurt laughed. “I’ll be sure to thank her.”

“But I expect you to be honest with me. Don’t lie to me that some person you start having come over is just a friend if he is more than a friend.”

“The only time that would be an issue would be if I started seeing someone that’s still in the closet.”

“Well, in that case, I’d still like to know. Carole and I will absolutely not tell Finn.”

“Alright. I mean, I’d have to talk to the guy first, but I appreciate the offer. Really.”

Burt nodded.

Kurt put the plate on the island in front of Burt and sat down at the island with him. “But just so you know, nothing is going on between me and Sebastian. I already told you that he’s going back to Paris in 6 months. No matter how much I might end up liking him at some point, I’m not going to let anything happen between us. That’s just a set up for massive heartbreak.”

“I get it.” Burt looked suspiciously at his “sandwich”.

“But you should know something. He’s a huge flirt. Not just with me, but Sam too. So, if you ever overhear him, just keep in mind that he likes to tease. I was working on Sam’s Glee costume and Sebastian was wolf whistling at him when Sam was turning for me to check out what I needed to fix. So, if you’re ever upstairs and overhear something you think is him hitting on me, just know that he’s like that.”

“Got it. He knows Sam’s not gay, right?” He went a head and took a bite.

“As far as I know. That’s why I said it’s all a joke. Sam started wiggling his tush, just to egg him on. They both just enjoy flustering me, but like in a normal friendship way. It’s nice. I’ve never had friends that were comfortable enough with me to actually tease me.”

“I get it. I’ll keep that in mind when he’s around.”

“If he sees you, he’ll behave very straight-laced. It’s his survival MO. Be straight. Act straight.”

“Poor kid.”

“So, just let his silly side show when he’s here, okay?”

“Sure, kiddo.” You know this isn’t really a sandwich. There’s no bread. But it’s edible.”

Kurt just smiled and got up to get him a napkin. “You get to enjoy the insides of a sandwich – close enough,” he teased.

Burt rolled his eyes and took another bite. “If he were staying, you’d ask him out, wouldn’t you?”

“In a month or so, probably yeah. I’d want to get to know him a little more first, but yeah.”

“That’s tough.”

Kurt shrugged and sighed. “Yeah. I got over it with Sam and we’re good friends now. I’ll survive.” Kurt changed the topic to how Burt was preparing himself to be a congressman.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next week was the same every day.

Kurt got up early and went to Cheerios practice and Sam headed to basketball practice.

Every day after school, there was an hour of Glee rehearsal. They booked it out every afternoon to make it to the shop to be able to put in a few hours each afternoon.

They made it home just in time to slide into their places at the dinner table and then hurry off to get their schoolwork done.

Monday night, Kurt soaked his Cheerio backpack in his bathtub, making sure it stayed submerged overnight. He figured if she bugged it somehow that 8 hours of submersion would destroy it. He just couldn’t put anything past her after she hand-delivered that heart attack on a plate to his dad at Breadstix on top of the rest of her insane campaign. He was less concerned about what she’d find out about him than he was that she would somehow use anything she could against his dad.

Friday was the first day that Kurt had to wear the uniform all day. He got plenty of looks throughout the day, most of them from girls who seemed to be giving him the vibe that they thought he looked good, which was unusual.

They practiced for sectionals on the stage after school. He and Tina killed it. He knew they were in a good position to win the next day, but winning against Santana and Mercedes wouldn’t be easy. They were powerhouses, and the Cheerios that joined the Troubletones had turned the group into a real threat.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian arrived at the designated time with the appropriate food, including some cinnamon Altoids and cinnamon gum.

“Get in. I’ll drive, you eat.” Kurt hit the lock on his remote and got in Sebastian’s car instead.

Kurt looked puzzled at the Altoids box that Sebastian handed him.

“Those things are so strong that there is no way anyone can smell anything on your breath besides cinnamon. After you eat the salad, put one of those in your mouth, and then chew the cinnamon gum. She’ll never know.”

Sebastian pulled out of the driveway and headed in the direction that Kurt indicated.

“I hope not. I have no interest in running laps after the game.”

“She’s insane. How many of these games do you have to cheer for?”

“A number that is far too high. To be honest, if I had realized that there were twice as many basketball games as football games in a season, I might not have joined.”

“More than 20 then.”

“22.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. It would have been only half that many if I had been able to pull off not doing my best without her knowing it. The travel squad only has 8 members, but I got chosen.”

“Lucky you.”

“Yeah. Lucky me. You ready? Nice hoodie. Did you go shopping for that?”

“I actually did. I stopped on the way here and bought it. You’re not being sarcastic are you? It does look okay, right?”

“It’s perfect. Really.”

“Oh, good.”

Sebastian followed Kurt’s directions to get to McKinley. He parked in the visitor’s parking lot and followed Kurt into the gymnasium. He found a seat on the Titans side of the court. He ended up sitting down near Tina.

The game finally got underway and Sebastian did his best to watch the game when the Titans had the ball, paying attention to Sam and cheering for him. But he spent the rest of the time trying to not be too obvious about watching Kurt. Sam was right about the outfit showing off his assets.

After the Cheerios halftime show, Tina scooted down the bench a little. “Why are you so interested in Kurt? And Sam? I’ve never seen you at school before.”

“Kurt and Sam are my friends.”

“I’ve never heard him talk about you. I’m Tina, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Sebastian. And I just moved here this fall.”

“Moved here from where?”

“Paris.”

Tina didn’t say anything for a while. Once the rest of the halftime show ended, she started talking again. “Paris?”

“I lived there with my mother. Now, I live with my father in Columbus.”

“I see. Sorry to interrogate you. Kurt’s just had a lot of people…well…”

“Be complete jackasses to him? Yeah, I know. It’s nice of you to watch out for him. But I’m not stalking him. I drove him here. I’m spending the weekend at his house.”

“Alright. You must be on the up and up because Burt doesn’t let guys stay over with Kurt.”

She scooted down a little bit, giving him a little more space again.

As soon as the game ended, Sebastian moved to the area right outside the girls’ locker room where Kurt had told him to wait. Kurt came out a few minutes later with the Cheerios backpack, ready to leave. They waited for Sam to come out of the boys’ locker room. The three of them headed to Sebastian’s car. Kurt put the backpack in the trunk.

As soon as they were all in, Sebastian spoke. “You need to know that I talked to Tina. She saw me watching you and cheering for Sam and she confronted me. I told her that I had been living with my mother in Paris, but that now I live in Columbus with my father.”

“Okay.”

“I told her that I was staying at your house this weekend. That seemed to convince her. She said something about your dad never letting guys stay over so I must be the real deal.”

“Well, she’ll be at the house for breakfast.” Kurt laughed.

“Oh, God.” Sam laughed. “Let the inquisition begin.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian finished relating the story to Burt, who wound up laughing at him just as hard as Kurt said he would.

“You realize that she won’t last until 10:00 before she’s here seeing if you’re here? She’s protective of Kurt. All 5 foot nothing of her. This will be great.” Burt was still laughing.

“Well, I’m glad to be a source of humor.” Sebastian rolled his eyes.

“Carole has dinner ready for the three of you. Go eat.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Carole was in the kitchen. “Good evening, boys. You seemed to have some funny stories to tell Burt in there. I haven’t heard him laughing so much in ages.”

Sebastian retold the story.

Carole laughed at him too. “Of all of the people to talk to, you talked to one of the few people who will actually check up on you. It will be fine, sweetie. She’ll be over tomorrow morning to see if you’re really here and Kurt will get it all straightened out.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian plopped down in the bed after he came out of the bathroom after his shower. Kurt had already turned the lights off and was under the covers.

Kurt just laughed at him. “Look. I’ll fix it. It will be fine. She’s going to see you at Regionals, if we win tomorrow. She’s going to know you go to Dalton. Blaine won’t keep quiet about what he knows about you once he sees you with me. It’s better that I get to tell her about you first anyway.”

“I forgot about Blaine.”

“Lucky you,” Kurt said sarcastically.

“That’s gotta suck to see him every day.”

“It does. It’s really hard. I’m actually really hoping that he’s going back to Dalton for next semester.”

“Thanks. Pawn him off on me.” He got up and pulled the covers back and got in the bed the right way.

“Your early behavior with him will taint the way he talks about you. Just ignore him. I’ll tell everyone you love to yank people’s chains. Everyone will believe me over him, once Tina tells everyone that my dad lets you stay here with me.”

“Why is that such a big deal? I didn’t ask the first time I came and you said that you hadn’t had anyone here since you moved, but with the emphasis on the fact that your dad is letting me stay here with you, I’m curious.”

“Well, there was a blowout with me bringing Blaine here smashed last February. He was so drunk that Finn and I had to carry him up the stairs, and I let him sleep in my room without permission. Finding a boy in my bed that he didn’t know, combined with the fact that boy was obviously incredibly hung over, didn’t go over well.”

“I’d imagine not.”

“Anyway, he overreacted. It was the first time I had ever gone to a party where there was drinking and it was the first time I had brought a guy home. I decided not to try either thing again. I went to him after I had spent that Saturday at your house and we talked. He realized the error of his ways and recanted his ‘No boys overnight rule’. And so you are the first guy that’s been here with my dad’s approval. This will 100% convince Tina that you are a good guy. Trust me.”

“Okay. And I do trust you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”

“So, sleep. Otherwise, I’m going to think you’re trying to sabotage me for the competition tomorrow by keeping me from sleeping.” Kurt turned over on his side so he could sleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, the doorbell rang at 9:00. Kurt and Sebastian went to the door to answer it, still in their pajamas.

“Good morning, Tina. I see you’ve brought Quinn with you. Please come in. What can I do for you lovely ladies this fine December morning?”

The two girls walked into the living room and sat down. At the same time, Burt came in the living room from the hallway.

“Oh, good. You got the door already.”

“Yep, we got it, Dad.”

“If you two are hungry, I’ll go tell Carole to make some more waffles.”

“Um, sure, Burt. That would be great,” Tina said.

He walked off toward the kitchen.

Kurt said, “So, come on into the dining room, if you’re joining us for breakfast.”

They walked back through the entryway into the dining room to avoid traipsing through the kitchen while Carole was cooking. They walked in to find Sam, Finn, and Puck already sitting the table. The four new arrivals sat down across from them at the table. Kurt got right back up, and Sam followed him to the kitchen. They started carrying plates and food out to the table.

“Thanks, guys,” Carole said.

“You’re welcome,” Sam said.

Kurt walked over and hugged her. “Sorry for the extra people to feed.” She and Burt were sitting at the island eating together.

“Meh. I knew they’d show up. Once Tina knows something, it was bound to bring out the nosiness. I’m actually surprised Rachel isn’t here.”

“I’m glad she’s not. I’m going to go deal with this.” Kurt took the platter of waffles with him to the dining room.

“Alright, everyone, this is my friend Sebastian.”

They nodded or waved. The platters and plates started being passed around the table and each person took what they wanted.

“That’s Puck. And you met the lovely Tina at the game last night, and this is the beautiful Quinn.”

“Nice to meet all of you.”

“So, before anyone asks any questions. Sebastian is fond of yanking people’s chains just for the fun of it. He met Blaine when he went to Dalton to give the Warblers tickets to West Side Story and convinced him that he’s some sort of Casanova. What’s true is that he goes to Dalton and he is a Warbler, the lead Warbler this year. He is a transfer student from Paris, France, where he lived with his mother, who still lives there. His father and stepmother live in Columbus.”

“I knew you looked familiar, but without the uniform, I couldn’t place it,” Puck said. You came to the play.”

“I did.”

“So, Burt really lets you stay here with Kurt?” Tina asked.

“I’m here wearing pajamas aren’t I? Burt was just in the same room with me five minutes ago. Did he look surprised to see me?”

“No,” Quinn said.

“You were cheering for Sam last night,” Tina said.

“Yeah. Sam and I are friends too.”

Puck, Tina, and Quinn looked at Sam.

“It’s true. I’ve spent the weekend at his house in Columbus with Kurt and he’s spent the weekend here with us before.”

“Alright. You pass. Don’t lie to us though. Too many people have hurt Kurt for us to just let new people get close to him without vetting them,” Puck said.

“And when Rachel finds out, she’s going to go ballistic,” Quinn added. “Just so you’re prepared. That’s why we came here without her. We’re the sane ones.”

“We’ll vouch for you since we’ve seen you here with Burt and Carole home,” Tina said. “But she’s going to be 100% certain that you’re a spy or that you’re trying to steal Kurt back from us or find out our set list or sabotage us somehow.”

“Well, Kurt would be welcomed back to the Warblers. Trent, Nick, Jeff, Flint, Thad, and David miss him. And with Wes gone, Kurt’s ideas wouldn’t be summarily dismissed without consideration. But I’m not here to steal him back. I like being lead. If he came back, he might challenge me for the spot.”

Puck laughed. “I like him.”

“Well, Blaine and Rachel will be problems,” Kurt said. “Blaine didn’t actually get to know Sebastian very well and he’s not going to say nice things about him. Just so you’re prepared that he will likely be as mean about this as Rachel.”

“Great,” Puck said. “I hear enough from him as it is.”

“Were you ever planning to tell us that you broke up with him?” Quinn asked.

“Not really. I figured the observant people would figure it out, and everyone else who didn’t care enough to notice, didn’t need to know.”

“Will you tell us why?” Tina asked.

Kurt didn’t answer at first, and then shook his head. “It’s personal.”

“Alright,” Quinn said. “We won’t ask again.”

“Do I need to rearrange his body parts?” Puck asked.

Sam stuffed a huge bite of waffle in his mouth.

Sebastian did his best not to give away the fact that he knew by going to the kitchen and opening the fridge. He came back emptied handed and sat down.

Kurt looked at him and tilted his head questioningly.

“No strawberries.”

“Oh. We’ll get some next time.”

“Pass the waffles back this way,” Finn said. “The syrup too.”

The conversation shifted away from Sebastian and Blaine while the 7 teens finished eating breakfast together.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

A couple of hours later, Kurt, Sam, and Finn were headed to the school to compete at Sectionals. Sebastian went with them. He grabbed a book from Kurt’s shelf and sat in the auditorium reading for an hour before the competition started.

Burt and Carole headed out in time to watch the show. Sebastian moved to the hallway so he could catch them on their way in and sit with them.

Before the competition, the Troubletones came to visit the New Directions in the choir room.

Shelby entered saying, “Hello, Will.”

“Looking good, ladies!”

“We just came to say, ‘May the best Glee Club win.’”

Santana nearly interrupted her, “And just in case that Glee Club is us, I have convinced Ms. Corcoran to consider a contingency plan.”

“Yes, in the event of a New Directions loss, the Troubletones have voted to allow any of you to join us at Regionals.”

Sugar added, “You’re welcome.”

Mr. Schue said, “Excuse me?”

Finn spoke up, “That is incredibly rude.”

“We’re being nice,” Santana countered. She smarted back some more to Finn, but Mr. Schue interrupted her.

“Thank you for the offer, Ms. Corcoran, but right now, we’re gonna concentrate on winning this thing.”

Ms. Corcoran nodded and said, “Good luck everybody.” The group left.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

First up were the Unitards. Rachel was sitting in front of Kurt. As soon as they came out on stage, the two of them saw their lead singer – Harmony.

“Oh, my God. It’s the Gerber baby. Oh, my God. She’s good.”

“This is torture,” Rachel said. “I should be singing that song.”

She and Kurt mouthed the words along with Harmony.

The Unitards received thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Kurt leaned towards Sam. “Harmony was fantastic, but she did all of the singing. The rest of the people were just props and dancers. They barely sang at all. I think we can beat them.”

Sam nodded.

Next up were the Troubletones. Mercedes and Santana sang a mash up of “I Will Survive” and “Survivor”. The singing was fantastic, but their arm movements weren’t in sync and they were far too numerous, making them very distracting. But the audience loved it.

The New Directions were last to take the stage. Tina started “ABC” loud and clear. Kurt came in just as strong. The two of them were center stage and killing it. The group danced all around the stage and got into several formations, mimicking Michael Jackson poses, and regrouped several times throughout the song. Tina and Mike saw his dad come in and sit down near the front. Kurt and Tina continued with their back and forth. Halfway through the song, the audience was already on their feet.

Kurt caught Sebastian’s eye and did his leapfrog jump over Mike perfectly and pushed the girls out of the way “sit down girls” and did his sexy hip isolations. Mike countered with “Get up girl, show me what you can do.” Sam took center stage to “shake it” doing body rolls.

Quinn did a great job at the beginning of “Control” and the song went smoothly. Artie and Blaine did a good job.

“Man in the Mirror” was a huge hit. Mike created choreography that was reminiscent of his broom dance for the Night of Neglect. He danced in a moving spotlight acting out the story in the song moving around the five spotlighted guys that were splitting the lead on the song.

Once they finished, they went backstage to await the results. It wasn’t long before all three groups were called back. The New Directions were the winners.

Kurt slipped down into the audience before heading back to get changed. He found Matt and Trevor standing with his dad, Carole, and Sebastian.

“That was awesome, Kurt,” Matt said.

Kurt’s face showed his shock. “I didn’t know you two were coming.”

“We decided to surprise you in case knowing that we were here would make you nervous. We found your dad because Trevor knew what he looked like from a TV ad.”

“So, you’ve all met then?”

“Yep, kiddo. You all did great. Congratulations! Go get changed and head home. I’ll have Sebastian ride with Matt and Trevor so they’ll know how to get there. We’re going to order some pizzas now so they’ll get to the house sooner.”

“Thanks, Dad. I’ll see you all in a little bit then.” Kurt waved and headed off to change.

Finn went with Rachel instead of riding home with Kurt and Sam.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Everyone was in the dining room when Kurt and Sam arrived. Kurt walked into the room to find Jeff, Nick, Trent, David, and Thad at the table.

“Hey guys! I’m glad you came,” Kurt said.

“Did everyone get introduced?” When he didn’t get a response, Kurt went down the row and had them say their names.

Burt sat next to Matt and Trevor and continued to ask them about the university and the program. They did their best to answer all of his questions. Kurt couldn’t really hear exactly what they were talking about because there were a lot of people talking.

“We shouldn’t have let Wes squelch your ideas last year,” Jeff said. “You were right. We were just too stuck in tradition and Wes had been on the council for two years.”

“We already knew we wasted your talent last year,” David added, “but after seeing you today, we realized just how much. We’re really sorry. We should have listened. We should have realized that once we shot you down, you weren’t going to be likely to speak up again since you had been bullied before. We just did it by ignoring your ideas.”

“Once Wes and Blaine were gone and Sebastian got voted our new lead, things changed quickly,” Nick said. “You’ll find us to be much more of a threat come Regionals this year,” Thad added, smiling and wiggling his eyebrows.

“Bring it!” Kurt said laughing. “Once we get the girls back, with their twirly skirts, you and your boring gray pants and blue blazers will not catch the judges’ eyes.”

“How many of the guys in your group can do back flips?” Jeff asked.

“That would be just Kurt,” Sam said. “A few girls can too.”

“Hmm. You’ll just have to wait and see what Sebastian’s taught the guys to do,” Jeff teased.

“Where are the rest of the Warblers?” Sam asked.

“Not everyone could come, but the rest that did went out with Blaine,” Nick answered.

“Okay,” Kurt said.

Nick continued, “Back when we heard that the two of you broke up, we knew he had to have done something really awful. You put up with so much crap last year and stayed loyal to him that we knew which side to take. The rest of the less observant Warblers went off with him when he invited them.”

“It’s fine. He’s allowed to have friends.”

“You always were too nice,” Trent said.

After about an hour, Matt and Trevor said their goodbyes and headed back to Cincinnati. Kurt and Carole walked them to the door.

On the way back to the dining room, she said, “They’re both really nice, honey.”

“They are. They’ve both been really helpful and supportive.”

When Kurt sat back down, Jeff asked, “Who were they? I must have missed them introducing themselves.”

“Oh, I’ve been taking voice and acting lessons and my instructors showed up to surprise me today.”

“That’s cool. They’re really young,” Jeff said.

“They’re graduate students. Matt’s 21 and Trevor is 25.”

The front door opened and Finn came into the dining room to see what was going on. “Ooh. Pizza. Awesome. There’s some left, right?”

“Yeah, there’s plenty,” Kurt answered.

“So, why are like half the Warblers here?”

“They came to watch.” Kurt lowered his voice. “Remember what I said?”

“Right…” He thought for a second and their talk came to mind. He smiled. “Right! So, did you guys win your Sectionals?”

“We did,” Flint answered.

“Oh, I forgot. Everyone, this is Finn.”

They waved and Kurt had them say their names.

“So, we’ll face each other at Regionals,” Finn continued.

“Yep,” Jeff answered.

“Sebastian has managed to get them to learn to dance. So, we’re going to have to be in top form to beat them,” Kurt said.

“Aw, man. I can’t dance worth a darn. It takes me forever to learn the dances. Maybe I should stick the drums up in the performance part of the stage and wear a face mic, so I don’t have to dance.”

“We’ll figure it out, Finn,” Sam said.

“You guys like video games?” Finn asked. “We could go downstairs and play?”

“Sure,” Jeff said. He, Nick, and David headed downstairs with Finn and the box of pizza he snatched on the way to the basement door.

The rest of the group moved to the living room and sat around talking for a while. Eventually the Warblers needed to head out.

Kurt saw them to the door and thank them for coming, suggesting that they come again sometime soon.

“You know where we are too. Don’t be such a stranger,” Jeff said as he got in the car.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt, Sam, and Sebastian headed up to Kurt’s room. He steamed and ironed Sam’s suit and his yellow jacket.

“Here, put the whole outfit on this time and let’s see how it looks.”

Sam took the outfit and headed into his room to change.

Kurt stepped into his closet and put the white pants, white low v-neck shirt, and the yellow jacket with all the straps on it and came back out.

Sam walked back into the room just a couple of minutes later. “So? Is it right?” He turned in a circle showing Kurt.

“You two look great. Kurt still needs a mustache, but other than that, you guys look fantastic. So, let me hear the song. I get to be Simon Cowell.”

“How about you get to be one of the nicer judges?” Sam suggested.

“Nope. I’m hard to please and think I know everything. I’m Simon.”

“Fine, fine.” Kurt pulled up the backing track they’d been practicing with. “I don’t have our props to use in here, so you’ll just have to imagine the mics and mic stands.”

“Got it.” He leaned back in the chair with his index finger over his lips, imitating Simon Cowell’s stance during an audition.

Kurt started the music and became Freddie Mercury. Sebastian watched the transformation, but could barely believe his eyes. Sam did a good job on his part, but he was still Sam singing. Sebastian watched the whole piece very carefully. When they finished, he pretended to press the golden buzzer enthusiastically.

“That was amazing. Really. When are you two going to perform?”

“Well, I’ll put our outfits in a garment bag and take them with us to school. We’ll do it as soon as Mr. Schue says we can.”

“Get someone to video it so I can hear it with the live music and the microphones.”

“Alright,” Sam said. “I’m sure we can convince someone to do it.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Kurt left Sebastian sleeping in his bed and left the house at 6:30 like he normally did on Sunday mornings. He arrived in time to look through his music before Trevor got there. He got out when he saw Trevor pull up.

“Your group rocked Sectionals yesterday,” Trevor said as he unlocked the door.

“Thanks. And thanks for driving all the way to Lima to see me.   I was completely surprised.”

“You’re welcome. I wanted to see you perform live. It’s easy enough to project in a room this size and make you feel like you’re reaching the whole room, but it’s different in an auditorium. You did great. The girl you sang with was really good too. She had a really great positive vibe about her.” He put his stuff down on top of the piano.

Kurt sat his stuff on a nearby table. “Tina. That was her first competition lead too. I like singing with her a lot. It’s interactive. She plays off of who she sings with. The girl who normally sings lead really expects her partners to follow her lead.”

“Well, you two are a good pair. The two girls that sang lead in the all-girls group were really good and girl lead in the other group was fantastic.”

“She was. I met Harmony before - at the NYADA mixer earlier this fall. I’m sure she’ll get in anywhere she applies in a couple of years. She has credits since before she was born and she has an abundance of confidence and talent. And the other two girls are Santana and Mercedes and they really are quite good. They broke apart from us and joined Ms. Corcoran’s group because they were rarely featured.”

“Your director sounds like a one trick pony. Hopefully, he noticed that he has several ponies that can do tricks now.” Trevor laughed. He sat down on the piano bench, hands in place, ready to play. “Let’s get to work on these more classical pieces that you’ve been working on.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt came in when he and Trevor were done.   Trevor packed up his music and left.

“So, I have a question for you.”

“Alright.”

“So, a friend of mine had tickets for a play this afternoon a 1:00 and she decided that she had too much studying to do and so she gave them to me. Do you want to go with me?”

“Sure.”

“Alright. Let’s head over to the indoor skate park and stay for like an hour. We can go back to my place and work on the play and you can change into your normal clothes and be yourself the rest of the day. We’ll grab some lunch and go see the play.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Kurt grabbed the papers he had gotten out and put them back in his satchel and headed down the stairs with Matt.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So that was a student-written play?” Kurt asked as he got into Matt’s car.

“It was. What did you think?”

“I liked it. I thought it was pretty funny.”

“Me too. I’m glad you liked it after you stuck around to watch it.”

“I’m not opposed to doing things while I’m here. I just don’t really like driving in the dark on the winding roads too much. Too many deer at dusk. But other than that, if you know of things to do, just let me know. I’m driving over four hours each time I come. I might as well get the most out of my gas money. I just don’t want to take up too much of your time since you’re already working with me with no monetary compensation.”

Matt put on the air of an aristocrat, “But sir, I get the great pleasure of your company.”

Kurt laughed and shoved him and rolled his eyes. “Whatever. You and Sebastian and Sam are crazy sometimes.”

Matt smiled. He pulled up alongside the Navigator, where they had left it in the church parking lot. “I’ll see you next week.”

“Thanks for everything.” Kurt waved as he got in the Navigator and drove off.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next afternoon in Glee, Kurt got everyone to agree to reconvene in the auditorium in 20 minutes. He asked Puck to make sure that all of the doors were locked once they were inside. He had asked Lauren to record them. He and Sam changed in the backstage area avoiding being seen in the hallway in their costumes. The band set up while they were changing.

Bum bum bum be de be dum.

The iconic drums, snapping, guitar, and piano started. Kurt and Sam came out singing. Sam mostly stayed in place like David Bowie and Kurt strutted around the stage a la Freddie Mercury. Eventually, Sam pulled his mic out of the stand and moved toward the front of the stage the way Bowie did in the video.

Four minutes later, the whole production was over and everyone was applauding. Kurt and Sam took a bow and exited to change. Kurt put their costumes back in the garment bag. Once they were redressed, they went out to the audience.

“That was amazing, guys.” Mr. Schue said.

“Wow, that rocked,” Finn said.

“Thanks,” Kurt said.

They accepted the compliments they were given and the group dismissed since no one else had anything prepared.

Lauren handed Kurt his flash drive with the video she had taken on it.

“Thanks!”

She just nodded and left.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The following Sunday, Kurt showed the video to Trevor. He sat on the piano bench and watched it.

“Well, as far as a vocal performance goes, I think you did a good job singing the song. No one is ever going to sound exactly like Freddie Mercury. But the performance aspect of it was really good. You had a lot of energy and you did a great job mimicking his style and movements.”

“Thanks. The song was mostly just sort of a vindication from last year when I had to sing alone and my almost stepbrother told me I’d get Sam killed for singing with me because he obviously thought there were no non-romantic duets.” Kurt put the phone back in his satchel.

“The Victor/Victoria number you did alone?”

“Yes. This was just sort of an in your face, ‘I am male and I can sing songs that men made famous and I can do it with another guy if I want to.’”

“Well, I think you pulled that off.”

“Thanks.”

They moved on to working on what had been assigned.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“That totally rocked. I love it,” Matt said. “Tell me you kept that jacket. Wait. You made that jacket, didn’t you?” He handed Kurt his phone back.

“Sort of. I altered a yellow cotton ladies trench coat. I tailored Sam’s suit too. It was a 70s suit with the longer suit jacket length, bigger lapels, pocket flaps, and huge bell bottom trousers.”

“Well, they both look amazing.”

“Thanks. And I did keep the jacket.”

“I may ask to borrow that sometime.”

“Sure,” Kurt laughed.

They moved on to the monologues Kurt had been working on.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

By the Tuesday before Christmas, Kurt had cheered for and Sam had played in 7 basketball games. Kurt was ready for the season to be over and he wasn’t even 1/3 of the way there.

Sue came into Glee rehearsal and asked for them to help out at the local homeless shelter by singing Christmas songs during the annual Christmas dinner. They all agreed to help out.

Mr. Schue came in a few minutes later and told them about a chance to do a live Christmas TV show since the local PBS station had lost the rights to what they had planned to air. Artie was put in charge and everyone started brainstorming. They all headed to the auditorium.

Rachel sang a melancholy wintry song and Artie nixed her song for a spot in the special. Sam got aggravated and got up to leave after Artie said he was rebooting Frosty to be a happy song. Kurt didn’t have any interest in fighting Rachel for a lead role that would pair him with Blaine since Finn and Puck were doing some kind of Star Wars thing, which he totally did not understand. He got up and followed Sam.

“Sam, wait up.”

Sam slowed down and let Kurt catch up.

“I’m not going to do the Christmas Spectacular or whatever they’re calling it. Let’s go find Coach Sue and tell her that we’ll still help her. I’ll get Sebastian and maybe a couple of the Cheerios that can sing to come with us to sing for the Christmas dinner at the homeless shelter.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

There was another basketball game Friday night, which was the day before Christmas Eve. Sebastian came to the game and cheered Sam on and watched Kurt cheer. Tina sat with him.

“Why do you even come to these games, Tina?”

“Oh, it’s for my journalism class. ‘Sports writing skills.’ It’s this or hockey. And the Puckheads hate the Gleeks. Plus, the ice rink is on the other side of town.”

“I see.”

“Why do you come? Doesn’t Dalton have a basketball team you could be rooting for?”

“I think so?”

“So you don’t care about basketball anymore than I do.”

“Not really.”

“You like him.”

“Wouldn’t matter if I did. I’m leaving in a little over five months. I wouldn’t do that to someone.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that you like him.”

Sebastian didn’t say anything else. He just sat there watching the game. Afterwards, he waited with Kurt by the girls’ locker room. Three girls stopped to talk to Kurt.

“This is Kendra, Aileen, and Megan.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Sebastian.” He reached out and shook hands with each of them.

Sam walked over to them after he had grabbed his stuff.

“Okay, so tomorrow come to my house at 4:00. We’ll rehearse these songs.”

Sebastian handed them each a stack of music that had been stapled together.

“If any of you can sing harmony that’s great, if not don’t worry about it. It’s supposed to be cheerful and provide entertainment, not be an opera concert. After we practice, we’ll eat dinner at my house. I’ll have something Coach Sue will let you eat.”

They nodded.

“Wear something simple. We’re going to a homeless shelter, not a Christmas party or a fashion show. Try to stick to red, green, or cream. We’ll go to the shelter at 5:30. We’ll entertain from 6:00-7:30.”

“Got it,” Megan said. “We’ll see you three tomorrow.”

The three Cheerios walked off.

“How did you convince them?” Sam asked.

“The three of them are Troubletones. I told them that they could put it on their college applications to make them look more well-rounded and caring.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian showered and changed and then waited in Kurt’s room while Kurt and Sam showered and changed into their pajamas.

The two of them were surprised to hear flute music when they got out of the shower. Sam went to Kurt’s room looking for the source. He found Kurt sitting in his chair listening to Sebastian play.

He quit and put the flute next to him on the bed. “I’m not fabulous, but I’m okay and I thought it might be nice to play a few instrumental pieces, if the two you are interested. I brought a book. It has the piano music with guitar chords marked. “We could try it if you want.”

“Sounds like fun. I’ll go get my guitar.”

“I’ll set up the keyboard I have.”

Kurt pulled a keyboard, a keyboard stand, a folding music stand, and a folding stool out a storage box under his bed. He took the cover off the keyboard and set it up on the stand facing his window. He popped the bench up and stood the stand up behind the keyboard.

He took the book from Sebastian and looked at it. He chose a song and put the book on the music stand and started to play. Sebastian got up and stood behind him to the left and started to play the melody. Sam came in and stood to Kurt’s right and managed to be able to see the book and started to play along. They played through the song once.

“We don’t sound half bad,” Sam said.

“I think it’s pretty decent sounding too,” Sebastian said.

“I think we should pick some songs and play through them all and see which ones will work the best,” Kurt said. “We’ll be able to provide more entertainment without repeating songs we sing this way.”

It wasn’t too long before Carole had made her way up the stairs following the music she could hear from the master bedroom. She came in and sat in Kurt’s chair next to the window.

“Oh, Carole, I’m sorry. Are we disturbing you?” Kurt asked.

“Oh, no, honey. It’s really pretty. I came to see where it was coming from. I didn’t know Sebastian played the flute.”

“Neither did we until tonight,” Sam said. “We’re going to play Christmas songs as a trio and we’ve got three girls to sing with us tomorrow evening at the homeless shelter Christmas dinner.”

“Well, they will enjoy that. It’s lovely. Don’t stop on my account.”   She leaned back and closed her eyes and relaxed.

About 10 minutes later, Burt showed up looking for Carole. He stood in the doorway watching the three boys play and saw Carole in the chair. They had their backs to him, so they didn’t notice him until he clapped at the end of the song they were playing.

“That sounded really nice.”

“We’re playing at the homeless shelter tomorrow night. We’re singing too. The three girls will be here tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 to practice.”

“That’s fine. Why isn’t Finn going with you?”

“Oh, the rest of the Glee Club is filming a special for the local PBS station, but we had originally agreed to do the homeless shelter event. They backed out when they had the chance to do the TV special. I didn’t like what they were doing and I left. Kurt followed me and then he recruited Sebastian and the three Cheerios.”

“I see. We’ll I’m sure they’ll like listening to you.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

Burt went back downstairs, but Carole stayed.

“When will you be back home tomorrow evening? We don’t want to start without you.”

“Before 8:00.”

“Alright. We’ll start at 8:00 then. You’re welcome to stay Sebastian, if you don’t already have plans.”

“Oh. I don’t want to impose. I was just going to go back to my father’s afterwards.”

“Oh, okay. You need to be there for Christmas morning?”

He didn’t answer.

Carole spoke gently to him. “Sebastian, sweetie, is anyone at your father’s house?”

“No. They left for Colorado a couple of days ago to spend the school break skiing with my stepmother’s family.”

“And you didn’t want to go?”

“Well, no, I didn’t want to go, but I actually wasn’t invited.”

“What is wrong with your father?”

“I can’t answer that question politely.”

“I imagine not. Sweetie, please stay with us. I don’t know how many clothes you brought, but you can just wash them frequently or you can wear some of Kurt and Sams’ things.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m absolutely certain.”

“Thank you.”

Carole got up and pulled him into a hug. “Sweetie, you’re always welcome here.”

Sebastian fought back tears, but not all that successfully. “Thank you.”

She squeezed him again. “Any time. You remember that.”

“I will.”

She let him go. “I’m going to go get some things ready for the weekend.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The three guys practiced for a little longer, and then Sebastian cleaned the flute and put it away. Sam left his guitar in Kurt’s room and headed off to bed.

Right before he got in bed, Kurt got a text from Carole.

“I’ll be right back up. You can turn some music on if you want.”

“Alright.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt went all the way down to the family room to find his dad and Carole waiting for him.

“What’s up?”

“Please tell us something that Sebastian would like as a gift.”

“He likes French cheese. I’ve heard him talk about missing it. If you could find some place that sells specialty cheese, I’m sure he’d like that.”

“I can do that.”

Burt spoke. “I’d like to meet with his father when they get back. I’m going to persuade him to let Sebastian live with us until he goes back to France. Don’t tell Sebastian yet. I’m going to talk to Hiram as an attorney, not as a family friend. That way he’ll be legally obligated to keep quiet.”

“Alright, Dad. He can share my room and I’m fine with that, just so you know.”

Burt nodded. “That’s it for tonight.”

“Okay.” Kurt went back upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian had fallen asleep already. Kurt got into bed as gently as possible, trying to keep from waking Sebastian up.

“Thank you.”

Kurt startled.

“I didn’t mean to make you jump.”

“I thought you were asleep.”

“Just lying here thinking.”

“What were you thanking me for?”

“This. Everything. Being here. I’m not alone because of you. Just thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Alright. Let’s get started.”

Sam and Sebastian were barely awake. Both were sitting on the stools at the island.

“I thought we were sleeping in?” Sebastian said, more as a question than a statement.

“This is sleeping in. I found that out at Thanksgiving. He usually gets up at 6:00. He let us sleep until 7:30.”

“Oh,” he said, still not quite awake.

Kurt laughed. “So, we are making a casserole, prepping lasagna, baking cookies, making a chocolate pie, an angelfood cake, and chopping lots of raw vegetables.”

“I vote we leave the chopping until my eyes aren’t bleary,” Sam said. “I want to end our cooking adventure with all of my fingers still attached.”

“Good call.” Kurt said. “You can be the batter mixer.”

“Isn’t that what appliances are for?” Sebastian asked.

“Not for cookies. Hand mixing. You can make the filling for the chocolate pie, Bas.”

“Bas?” He scrunched his forehead and raised an eyebrow.

“You need a one syllable nickname. Kurt, Sam and …? Seb didn’t seem to fit you, so I went with Bas. I’ve been thinking about this, but if you hate it, I won’t use it.”

“No, actually it’s fine. No one has ever given me a nickname before.”

“Oh. Well, now you have one.”

“You come to America and you get your first bear hug and a nickname,” Sam teased.

“Lucky me.” He rolled his eyes up and put his hands on his heart.

“Well, that’s true.” Kurt said. “I mean you did get the two nicest teen guys in Ohio as friends too.”

“And they’re not the least bit conceited,” he rolled his eyes.

“Not at all. You’re the one who said I needed to think more highly of myself.”

“That’s true. I should watch what I suggest.” Sebastian deadpanned.

Kurt hip checked him. “Hey, now.”

“Alright. Where’s the recipe for this so I can get started?” Sebastian asked, trying not to yawn.

“I need mine too,” Sam said.

“I already measured everything for the cookies, Sam.” The stuff is all in little bowls behind the mixing bowl and the recipe is on the card right next to the bowl. Maybe you two should go back to bed.”

“No, we’re fine. Except that this is written in cursive and I can’t read it.”

“Okay. You two work together on the cookies and I’ll do the pie filling.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Once they finally got their brains in gear, Sam and Sebastian were actually useful and they helped get everything prepped. The three of them made themselves lunch and cleaned everything back up.

Once the kitchen was clean and the food was all stored, they went upstairs and got ready.

“Hey Kurt?”

“Yeah, Bas.” Kurt answered from the bathroom.

“I don’t have anything red, green, or cream colored other than the hoodie I wore last night.”

“Oh, just look in my closet and pick something that fits. If you don’t find anything, go ask Sam. Although his stuff will probably be a little too big, unless it’s a sweater that you can get away with wearing kind of baggy.”

Kurt came out and found Sebastian standing in his closet just staring.

“Hey, Bas. Are you okay?” Kurt looked concerned.

He nodded. “Yeah. I’m fine.” He refocused.

“If the sleeves are all too short, you could cuff them a couple of times and no one will notice they’re too short. Try this one.” He handed Sebastian a red button up with cream pinstripes.

“Thanks.”

Kurt turned and walked out of the closet and pushed the door closed to give Sebastian privacy to change his shirt.

He came out a couple of minutes later.

“That looks good. Do you feel okay wearing it? Mostly I see you in your uniform, your pajamas, or that red hoodie you bought to wear to the basketball games.”

He went over to Kurt’s vanity and looked in the mirror. “Sure. It looks fine, I think.”

“Well, tuck it in and let’s get downstairs. The girls will be here soon. Do you have any other shoes?”

“No. Is there something wrong with these?”

“I didn’t mean to sound condescending. I just thought you might be warmer if you wore something like boots.”

“Oh, I don’t own any boots.”

“We’ll go out the day after Christmas and get you some.”

“Why?”

“It’s going to start snowing at some point and your feet will get cold and wet.”

“It doesn’t really snow in Paris.”

“Well, it does here. Quite a bit.”

He finished tucking his shirt in. “Downstairs?”

“Yep.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The doorbell rang at 4:00 and Kurt let the three girls in. Kurt had carried the keyboard down to the dining room and set it up earlier.

Kurt showed them to the dining room and they put their coats on the backs of chairs.

“You all look nice.”

“Thanks,” they said in unison.

“So, let’s just run through the first two verses of all of the songs, and then we’ll eat and head over to the shelter.” He sat down at the keyboard. “I’ve not heard the three of you sing by yourselves. So, the first time, I just want the three of you to sing, so I get a feel for your range.”

The three girls all sang the melody and could sing high enough to sing the songs in the keys they were written in.

“Great. That sounded really good. So, this time all of us will sing. Sebastian will sing tenor, Sam will sing the baritone part and I will sing alto.”

He started the song again and they all sang.

“Wow,” Aileen said. “That sounded way better than I expected.”

“I think we’ll be fine. Let’s move on to the next song.”

They worked through all of them and at 5:00 the timer went off.

“The three of us made dinner earlier. Go ahead and sit wherever you want and we’ll bring it out.”

Kurt, Sam, and Sebastian carried out a huge bowl of chopped salad and a platter of additional toppings, and a large pitcher of lemonade. Kurt went back for the salad dressings.

“So, there’s white meat chicken and turkey, low fat cheese - cheddar and swiss, low calorie dressings, extra sliced veggies, and lemonade made with stevia – the only calories are from the lemon juice, so like 10 per glass.”

“Oh, my God. It’s like a feast that we can actually eat,” Kendra said. “Be my boyfriend, Kurt. I don’t care that you’re gay.”

The girls started piling salad and toppings onto their plates. After they finished, they guys served themselves.

“I already had a marriage proposal over some baked goods. I’ll have to pass, Kendra.” Kurt smiled and laughed.

“I’ll offer you whatever you were offered, plus anything else you want,” she teased. “At least I know you won’t be just being nice all evening just to get in my pants.”

“Guys just don’t get it. Girls are not that hard to please.” Megan said. “Just be nice for real. This is nice. You three are nice. How about your Sam? Will you be my boyfriend? You’re not seeing Quinn or Santana anymore.”

“They kind of burned me on dating a Cheerio girl.”

“Oh, well. I tried.”

“No offer for me?” Sebastian asked.

“You don’t go to McKinley. I can’t show you off,” Aileen said.

“You mean he lives too far away to make dinners like this for you during the week,” Kurt said.

“Well, yeah. Mostly that. You’re cute though.” Aileen laughed.

“Thanks.”

After they finished eating, Kurt packed up the leftovers. Sam ran up to grab his guitar and Sebastian grabbed his flute. Kurt picked up the music book and they all headed to the shelter.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They alternated between singing and playing instrumental pieces. They managed to only repeat a few of the instrumental songs. A lot of the kids ended up sitting on the floor listening to them after they finished eating.

Santa showed up at 7:30 and moved into the area where the teens had been singing.

They all got their coats on and headed toward the door. Sue intercepted them. She nodded and let the three Cheerio girls leave.

“Kurt will be out in a minute.” She stopped Kurt.

Sam and Sebastian headed out to the Navigator.

“Is there something else, Coach Sue?”

“No, Porcelain. I just wanted to thank you. You pulled through and everyone enjoyed your entertainment.”

“Oh. You’re welcome. I’m glad they enjoyed it.”

She nodded, indicating that he could leave.

Chapter Text

The three guys walked in the door and were greeted by the smell of melting chocolate and marshmallows. They hung their coats up and found the source in the living room. Finn was sitting in front of the fireplace with a campfire skewer with marshmallows on it stuck in the fire.

“Mmm. Hey, guys. You want one?”

“One what?” Sebastian asked.

“S’more.”

“What’s a s’more?” Sebastian walked toward where Finn was sitting.

“It’s a roasted marshmallow and melted chocolate sandwich with graham crackers for the bread,” Finn answered with his mouth full of gooey, chocolatey marshmallow.

“Sure. I’ll try one.”

“You mean they don’t have s’mores in France?” Finn asked still chewing.

“Not that I’ve ever seen.” He took the one that Finn handed him and took a bite. “That’s good. Thanks for sharing.”

“You’re welcome, dude. Mom says you’re staying for a while.”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. There’s food in the kitchen if you’re hungry. We’re going to do our Christmas stuff as soon as Mom realizes that you’re back.”

“Christmas stuff?” Sebastian asked.

“Yeah. Gifts. Parents give out gifts on Christmas Eve and Santa’s gifts get opened on Christmas morning.”

“I see.”

Kurt said, “I’ll go tell her that we’re here.” He left and came back a couple of minutes later.

Carole came in the room. “Before you go upstairs, Sebastian. I want to apologize. I found a few things of Kurt’s hanging in the laundry room and I took them up to put in his closet and I knocked your satchel over and it fell off the dresser. I just picked everything up and laid it on the bed.”

“It’s fine. I’ll go put everything back. My computer wasn’t in there, so it’s not a big deal. I’ll find a better place to put it.”

Sebastian went upstairs. Kurt followed him.

“We’ll make room for all of your stuff tomorrow, okay? It can be my first winter break project.”

“Did I hear ‘winter break project’?” Sam asked as he came in.

“Yep. He’s going to clean his closet out.” Sebastian was stacking up his stuff to get it off of the bed. He moved it to the top of the dresser.

“Ooh, that should be fun. Do Bas and I get to watch?” Sam sat down on the bed.

“Why would we want to watch?” Sebastian sat next to him.

“There has got to be a fashion show involved. How else will he decide what to keep and what to get rid of?”

“So, this is like What Not to Wear or something?”

“Or something. I’ve heard about some of the stuff he used to wear. Do you still have the corset and the skirts?”

Kurt didn’t answer.

“He must still have them,” Sam said excitedly.

“Well, then this will be a lot more fun than I had anticipated. What about the 10-inch heels and the Lady Gaga dress?” Sebastian asked, waggling his eyebrows.

“I heard about that. Is there a video?”

“There is, I’ve seen it.”

“I need to see it.” Sam said plaintively.

“Why?” Kurt asked looking back and forth between the two of them.

“Because I bet it’s amazing. And you let Sebastian see it,” he said sounding like a pouting 6-year old whose sibling got to do something he didn’t.

“Fine. I’ll show you, but then we have to go downstairs.” Kurt turned his phone on, pulled up the video, and handed the phone to Sam.

He sat and watched it and Sebastian leaned over trying to rewatch it.

“That was awesomely impressive.” Sam said, “I would break my neck in one step.”

“You totally rocked that, you know,” Sebastian said.

“Thanks?”

“We still need to work on him saying ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ without that upswing at the end,” Sebastian said to Sam, as if Kurt couldn’t hear him.

Kurt rolled his eyes. He took his phone and put it back in his pocket.

Sam nodded and smiled. “Let’s go before Carole gets frustrated with us.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Okay, boys. All of you sit in front of the tree.”

They moved and sat like she wanted them to, and she took their picture.

“Kurt, show me how to do that timer thing again. Burt, go stand in front of the tree. Everyone else, stand up and rearrange. And leave room for me and Kurt.” Kurt set the timer up and he and Carole got into place before the flash went off. “Don’t move.” She went and looked at the photo. “One more.” They looked at the camera and smiled. She checked it again. “That’s one’s good. You all can sit wherever.”

Carole distributed the gift bags. Each bag had gifts wrapped individually inside it.

“So, alphabetical or youngest to oldest?” she asked.

“You choose, Mom.”

“Alright, oldest to youngest.”

“That means, I go first,” Sam said. He ripped the paper off the first one. “An Avatar t-shirt. Awesome!” He opened the next one carefully because it felt like it might be glass. “Oh, wow. Thank you!” Carole had framed the picture she had taken of the Evans family at Thanksgiving. The last thing he opened was a stack of index cards. He had a puzzled look on his face at first, then a huge smile. “Thank you. These are amazing.”

“What are they?” Sebastian asked.

“She printed the recipes for my favorite foods that she makes.”

“That’s nice,” Sebastian said.

“I’m next.” Kurt started to open his first gift. “It’s the brooch from the antique store that I liked. Thank you.” He opened the next item. “You found it?” he squealed as he unfolded a piece of fabric. “I’m so excited!” He opened the last thing in his bag, which was an old iPod. “Oh, my God. You found one of the 160GB ones.” You are the best gift giver in the whole universe.” He jumped up and hugged Carole. “Thank you! I love all of it.”

“You’re welcome.”

“You’re next Sebastian,” Kurt said as he went back to his spot. He was the only one who knew that Sebastian’s birthday was in July.

Sebastian opened his bag and took out the smallest package first. He opened it. “This is really nice. Thank you. You didn’t have to get me anything, really.”

“I wanted to. When I knocked your bag over on the way into the closet, all of your pens and pencils fell out and your earbuds too.”

“The case is perfect. Now I won’t be fishing for something to write with or get my cord all tangled because they have their own little section.” He put the pencil case back in his bag and took out the next item. He unwrapped it and laughed. “It’s perfect. I’m eating some of this tonight.” He opened the last package. “It’s just what I needed. Thank you.”

“Well, that came about from the accident as well. All of your papers went everywhere. I figured you could use a binder with some dividers and pockets.”

“The gifts are perfect. Thank you. I’m sorry I don’t have anything to give you two.”

“Oh, the grown ups give each other gifts,” Finn said. “We have to do something nice for them as our gifts. You can think of something and write it out tonight. They get them at breakfast.”

“Oh, okay. Thank you for the gifts.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie.”

“Finally, it’s my turn.” Finn opened his gifts. “Yes! I know what I’m doing tomorrow.” He held up the video game he had asked for so the other guys could see it. He opened his other gift. “Awesome!” It was some kind of guidebook for the video game. “Thanks!”

Carole said, “Let’s go down and watch a Christmas movie. I have snacks for Finn and there are the left over veggies from dinner for Kurt and Sam. Sebastian, you’re welcome to eat whatever you’d like.”

“I’m going to snack on this cheese. I’ll go slice it up first, if that’s okay.”

“Sure, sweetie. Just put whatever you want on a plate and bring it down. I already took the rest of the food downstairs.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

When Kurt came out of the bathroom after showering, he found Sebastian sitting at his desk with piece of lined paper in front of him, just sitting there staring into space while tapping the eraser against the paper.

“I don’t know what to offer. Give me an idea of what this is about.”

“Oh, well Finn is the one who had this tradition. Since he had never had a job, he never had his own money. So, rather than Carole give Finn money to buy her a present, she always had him do something for her as her gift. They’ve been doing it since he was a little kid. I guess originally it was just something like ‘I’ll make your bed for a week’.”

“Okay. And now?”

“Well, last year, I gave her a spa day and makeover, plus lunch.”

“What did Finn give her?”

“I think it was cleaning her car out, like detailing it and vacuuming it.”

“I see.”

“She dislikes vacuuming and dusting. You could offer that. Or you could offer to reorganize the downstairs freezer. She hates that because her hands get so cold.”

“What are you giving her?”

“I’m going to tailor some clothes for her that she bought, but never wears because they don’t fit quite right.”

“What about your dad?”

“Usually I just cook him something he wants.”

“What could I offer him?”

“We could add something to mine and say it’s from both of us.”

“Like what?”

“Well, there’s this bush that died out front, but I can’t get it out by myself, but if you helped me, we could do it together.”

“Sure. I can do that.”

“Okay.” Kurt grabbed an envelope off his shelf and opened it. “Can I sit there for a minute?”

Sebastian stood up.

Kurt pulled out some markers. He added the new “gift” to what he had already written on the card. “Now, you just need to sign the card too.”

Kurt got up and let Sebastian sit down again. He signed the card and handed it back to Kurt. He pulled the sheet of paper back over so he could start to write on it.

“You don’t have to use a sheet of paper. I have plenty of Christmas cards you can choose from. I bought a box of 20 last year after Christmas for 80% off.” Kurt grabbed the box off the shelf and put it on the desk for Sebastian.

Sebastian looked through them. He chose one and handed the box back to Kurt.

“You can use the markers if you want.”

“Thanks.” Sebastian wrote on the card and put it in the envelope and wrote “Carole” on the outside and left it on the desk. “So, to sleep now?”

“Yep.”

Kurt turned the lights out and they both lay down.

“So, Santa brings presents during the night. Isn’t Finn a little old to believe in Santa?”

“Well, truth be told, Santa generally just brings clothes. But since I didn’t ask for any clothes, and my dad knows I’ve not been shopping anymore, I have no idea what to expect.”

“I guess we’ll find out in the morning.”

“Yeah.”

“I want to tell you something.”

“Okay.”

“You don’t need to rearrange your closet for me.”

“Why?”

“I just need to not leave my satchel on your dresser. All of my clothes are already in your closet and in the drawer you let me have in your dresser. I don’t need any more space.”

“I figured we’d go to your father’s house they day after Christmas after we go boot shopping and bring the rest of your clothes here.”

“There’s nothing that’s personally mine at his house, except a suit, shirt and tie, and dress shoes that he keeps there.”

“Okay. Then we don’t need to go there.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Sam, Kurt, and Sebastian helped Carole make breakfast. Finn and Burt just sat up to the small island and kept them company, knowing that any help they offered would not be accepted. Finn did set the table when the food was nearly done.

Once everything was done, the food was carried into the dining room. They all sat down and the platters got passed around and everyone took what they wanted.

They all ate until they were full, which wasn’t until after several plates of food for Finn. Kurt and Sam cleared the food once Finn had taken his last plateful.

Once he finished, he got up and helped the other three clear the table.

Their cards were distributed and opened. Burt and Carole thanked all four of them for the gifts.

They moved to the living room to continue with their celebration.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam opened Santa’s presents to him first. “Santa’s awesome. He got me the three of the CDs I had been wanting.”

Finn opened his next. “Santa obviously opened a music store this year because he got me the CDs I wanted as well. These are great.”

Sebastian opened an envelope. Inside it there was a $50 bill and a note. “I’m sorry I don’t know what type of CDs you’d like, but you can buy three you want with this money. Merry Christmas! Love, Santa.” Sebastian smiled and nodded after he read it.

“I got CDs too.” Kurt said. “Santa did a good job.”

“Well, the rest of the day is to do whatever you want. Relax, watch movies, listen to the CDs, or whatever. We’ll eat what was prepped yesterday and I’ll bake the lasagna later.”

She stood up and hugged each one of the boys as they walked past her. She gave Sebastian an extra long hug. “Merry Christmas, sweetie,” she said in his ear. She could hear him sniffle.

“Thanks,” he whispered.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian went right up to Kurt’s room and sat down on his bed, holding the envelope in his hand. Kurt came up a couple of minutes later.

“Bas, is there something wrong?”

“Everything and nothing.” He put the envelope next to him on the bed.

Kurt waited for him to continue.

Sebastian propped his elbows on his lap and put his head down, and started crying silently.

“It’s okay.” Kurt wrapped his arm around Sebastian’s shoulders and pulled him toward him.

“Do you think she would mind if I use the money to buy boots instead?”

“No, not at all.”

“Okay. Good. Do you think I can get some for $50 that will work?”

“I’m not sure, Bas. But I’ll give you the rest of what you need.”

“You’ve already done so much for me. I can’t ask you for money.”

“You’re not asking. I’m offering. I have a present for you too.” Kurt walked over to the closet, went inside, and grabbed a box. He walked back over to the bed and handed it to Sebastian.

“I don’t have anything to give you.” He sat up straight and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

“That’s okay. Open it.”

Sebastian unwrapped the box and lifted the lid. Inside there was a beautiful black and green scarf with a pair of black leather Thinsulate-lined gloves.

“The scarf matches your eyes and your pea coat. I’ve never seen you wear any gloves, so I thought maybe you hadn’t gotten any yet.”

“You’re right. I don’t have a scarf or gloves.” He took the gloves out and tried them on. “They’re really nice. They fit perfectly. Thank you.” He took them off and laid them next to him and pulled the scarf out. “It’s really soft.”

Kurt took it from him and looped it and put it over his head and tightened it a little.
“It looks good on you.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry I don’t have a gift for you.” He ran his fingers over the soft scarf.

“It’s fine, really. I’m not upset. I just wanted you to be warm.”

He slipped the scarf off and folded it neatly and sat it next to him as well. “I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told anyone.”

“I won’t tell anyone else unless you say I can.”

“The clothes and the two pairs of shoes I brought with me is all I have.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t have anything else at Dalton. You’ve seen everything I own. The duffle, the satchel, the laptop, my phone, my coat, my clothes and shoes that are here – that’s all that I have. Oh, and my camera.”

“That’s just two pairs of jeans, the rugby shirt, a blue button up shirt, and the red hoodie.”

“Yep, well and the socks and underwear and the two pairs of pajamas that I brought.”

“I’m confused. Your father owns a mansion and you only have enough clothes for two days besides the hoodie you bought?”

“Yeah. And I had to do something I didn’t want to do to get the money to buy the hoodie.”

“Oh, God. What did you do?”

“Don’t panic. I just wrote a paper for someone. He offered me $50 to do it. I won’t do it again. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t show up to the basketball game in the same rugby shirt again. I figured if I got the red hoodie I could wear it every game and it would seem like school spirit rather than lack of clothes.”

“You wear $150 shoes to school. The belt you have is like $90. And that satchel is like $500.”

“All for show. I wear those things where people who might know my father could be. So, he bought me nice school shoes, nice athletic shoes because I needed a pair to wear in the gym, the expensive belt and satchel everyone sees every day. The duffle is so I can pack stuff to go home on the weekends that he requires my presence.”

“How do you get gas money then?”

“You don’t want to know.” Sebastian looked away from Kurt and stared at the floor.

Kurt wrapped both arms around Sebastian. “Please tell me you’re not selling yourself.”

“No, oh, God, no. It’s illegal, but it’s not that. I got a cut on the fake IDs, but I quit. I promise. I’m sorry.” He was sobbing.

“It’s okay, Bas. Can you tell me why?”

“My father won’t give me any money unless I agree to voluntarily go to conversion therapy or date a girl that he sets me up with.”

“And what do you get if you agree?”

“$1000 a month spending limit on a credit card, $500 cash per month, and a gas card.”

“Wow.”

“I can’t lead a girl on and I’m not going to conversion therapy. So, I’m penniless.”

“The night you went to Scandals, I thought you were crashing at a motel.”

“I was just careful with what I said, which was that I was crashing in Lima. I slept in my car and drove back to Dalton when I woke up. The building opens back up at 7:00 on weekdays.”

“I remember.”

“So, you push people away with your bristly fake persona to keep people from finding out that you can’t do anything with them because you have no money.”

“Exactly.”

“Will you please let me tell my dad?”

“Why?”

“How about we go together and I’ll let him tell you.”

“Um, let me go wash my face.”

“Okay.”

Kurt didn’t manage to hold his own tears back. When Sebastian came back out of the bathroom, Kurt was standing and waiting for him. He pulled him into a hug and held him tight. Sebastian hesitated, but eventually wrapped his arms around Kurt and held on tight for a bit. Kurt let loose and Sebastian stepped back.

“Do you not like it when I hug you? My dad was always big on hugs when I was upset. He’d wrap me in his arms and I’d feel like everything would be okay, even if it was just for a few minutes.”

“I do like it. It’s just unusual.”

“Oh. Because I’m a guy?”

“No, just because I’ve never really been hugged.”

“Not even your mom?”

“My mother isn’t exactly maternal.”

“Let’s go talk to my dad.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt knocked on his parents’ bedroom door.

Burt opened the door.

“Can we talk to you in your office?”

“Sure. What about Carole?”

Sebastian nodded.

“Carole, sweetheart, come here.”

Carole came to the door. They both came out and opened the door to the office and they all went in. Burt locked the door behind him so there wouldn’t be the possibility of someone walking in.

Kurt sat down on the leather loveseat and patted the space next to him to get Sebastian to sit there. “Sebastian told me some things today that are really messed up.”

Burt walked around and sat in his desk chair. Carole stood behind him, leaning on her elbows on the back of the chair.

“Alright.” Burt said. “Do you want to tell us?”

“Not really, but, yes - sort of.” He looked at his clasped hands in his lap.

“Sweetie, why don’t you start wherever you want and tell us whatever you want to. We’ll just listen,” Carole said sweetly.

“Okay. Well, yesterday Kurt asked me if I had any boots since I was wearing my school shoes. I told him ‘no’ and he suggested we go out tomorrow and get some. I know he thought I didn’t have any because I didn’t realize that I would actually need any. Then, when we went back upstairs this morning, I asked him if he thought it would upset you if I used the $50 to buy boots instead of CDs.”

He took a deep breath and sighed. “I don’t have any money. I have enough left to put gas in my car one more time. That’s it.” He looked up to see their reactions.

Carole looked confused.

“I didn’t blow it gambling or something. My father won’t give me any money. He bought me nice school shoes, nice trainers for the gym, a nice belt, the satchel, the duffle, the laptop, and the expensive pea coat. Kurt noticed that I hadn’t been wearing gloves. He gave me a scarf and gloves when we were upstairs. I wasn’t wearing any because I didn’t have any.”

“I don’t understand, sweetie. Your dad has plenty of money.”

“But I don’t deserve any of it yet. I’ve been here over four months and I’m still gay.”

“Sweetie, you don’t get over being gay. It’s not like having the flu.”

“I know. But he thinks it’s because of the way my mother raised me. I use that term loosely. I came out to her last summer and she was fine with it, but she told him and within a month, I was on a plane to central Ohio being put on the straight and narrow path to not being gay.”

“I’m lost, sweetie.”

Sebastian closed his eyes for a moment and steeled himself to tell his story. “My father was on a vacation in France after he graduated from law school – a graduation gift from his parents. He met my mother. They had a fling. He made the unfortunate mistake of telling her his real name and where he was from. When she realized that she was pregnant a few months later, it was too late to get an abortion. She put his name on the birth certificate and found a way to contact him. She blackmailed him into paying support for me. He bought the flat I grew up in for her from his own trust fund. He paid child support, which she used to cover our expenses. Daycare in France is free and she put me in the day I turned two. She left me there the maximum number of hours a day she could. She put me in before- and after-school care once I turned 6. The school year I turned 11, she enrolled me in boarding school and I was only home 8 weeks each summer. Once I went to boarding school, she rented my room out to a college student so that she wouldn’t have to start to work since he didn’t give her money for me because he paid the boarding school fees. I never went to the best schools, but I went to a private what you would call middle school and high school with good teachers. Every summer, her boarder would leave since school was out and I’d work to cover my own expenses and hers too since I couldn’t just let her starve. After she told him I was gay, he asked for me to be sent here to finish high school. She wasn’t going to get another penny from him. The gig was up. She kept the flat and she still has a boarder that keeps her from having to work. When I go back at the end of May, I’ll have to sleep on the couch or find somewhere else to stay until July when school gets out. I’ll have to work in order for my room to be mine again, but college is virtually free in France, so I’ll be okay.”

Carole had been crying since Sebastian said that his mom left him in childcare as much as possible at age two. Kurt didn’t last much longer.

Burt looked incredulous. “I’m still a little lost back at the part where you said you’ve been here for over four months and your dad wants you to be straight or he won’t give you any money?”

“If I agree to date a girl of his choosing or I voluntarily agree to go to conversion therapy, I will get $1000 a month on a credit card, $500 in cash, and a gas card. Until I agree to one of those things, I get nothing. Well, I get to stay at Dalton and live there and eat.”

“We’ve seen everything he owns - the two outfits, his pajamas, the two pairs of shoes, the coat, the duffel, the satchel, his belt, his laptop and phone. He doesn’t have anything else at Dalton or his father’s house. His papers and pens were loose in his bag because he doesn’t have any folders or binders.”

“I’ve done things I’m ashamed of to get the cash I had to have to buy a few things like soap and shampoo, the paper, pens, and pencils, and put gas in my car. And I did buy the red hoodie.”

“Why can’t you just get a job and work after school or on the weekends?” Burt asked.

“My father has all of my legal documents locked in a safe in his office. Without them, I can’t apply for a job. I tried back in September.”

“I see.”

“And Kurt just wouldn’t let me be. He kept being nice. I managed to push everyone away, but him and Jeff. Jeff just kept trying to get me to sit with him and a few other guys. I gave in so that he’d stop pestering me. But once I gave in, then he started inviting me to do stuff with them. But every time I do anything with any of those guys, I have to do something I wouldn’t normally do to get the money to do it.”

“I’m going to ask you something and then Carole and I will leave for a few minutes to give you time to think.”

Sebastian nodded and wiped his face with his hands.

“Do you want to live with us? I don’t generally give allowances, but I will make an exception until we can figure out something you can do to earn money legally. You can think about it while Carole and I go talk for a few minutes.”

Burt and Carole got up and left, closing the door behind them.

“I can’t say ‘yes’ and be a burden to your family. They’re already so nice to me.”

“Bas, my dad doesn’t make willy-nilly decisions. He meant it. Do you want to live with us? You’ll have to share my room with me unless Sam moves in with me. You’d have to share a bathroom with Finn then. Finn won’t share a room with me. That’s why we had to buy this house. If you don’t want to share a bed, we can work on getting two twin beds and arranging the room differently.”

Sebastian slouched over and propped his head on his hands. “Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you care so much?”

“I’m not sure I have an answer for that. We’re just decent people.”

“I guess I’ve just not met that many decent people then.”

“Maybe.”

“Are you sure?” He turned and looked at Kurt. “You’d be giving up your privacy and your personal space.”

“I’m sure. I had already told my dad that I was willing to share my room with you.”

Sebastian looked puzzled.

“He told me that he wanted you to live with us night before last after you said you would be going home to an empty house.”

“Oh.”

“I didn’t spring this on him. He didn’t offer because of what you just told him. He was already going to talk to your father whenever he gets back and offer to let you live here. But I think it’s really just a matter of what you want.”

“If Burt goes to my father, he’s likely to disown me.”

“Is that a problem?”

“He’ll probably refuse to pay my tuition next semester and take away my car and phone.”

“I see.”

“Let’s go do something else for a while. I need to let my choices bounce around in my head for a while.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt rounded up Sam and Finn for some Mario Kart races. Sebastian didn’t know how to play, so Kurt gave him a quick lesson. They played as teams – Kurt and Sebastian against Sam and Finn. They raced and smack talked and raced more.

Eventually they all got hungry and went up to the kitchen to eat. They found that Carole had put the casserole in the oven to warm it up when they went down to play, so it was ready to eat. They helped themselves and carried their plates into the dining room to eat. They loaded the dishwasher and Kurt turned it on. He let Carole know that they had eaten before he went back upstairs.

Kurt went down the hallway to his room and found Sebastian lying on his side in the bed, looking at his phone and crying. He walked toward the bed and Sebastian pulled his knees up tighter making room for Kurt to sit. Kurt put his hand on Sebastian’s knee.

“I want to stay.”

“I’m glad. Why are you crying?”

“It’s 9:00 at night in Paris and I didn’t even get a Merry Christmas text or email. I mean she’s never bought me gifts or anything, but I thought maybe she’d…” He was crying too much to continue for a few minutes. He took a few deep breaths and calmed himself down. “Nothing from my father either.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re here with me.”

“You’re not just saying that because you feel sorry for me, are you?”

“I bought the gloves two weeks ago. I invited you here having no idea that you had not been invited to go skiing. I didn’t know most of that stuff about your mother until earlier today. I invited you because I wanted to.”

“Alright. I never told you because I knew you’d feel sorry for me and I didn’t want you to befriend me out of pity.”

“I didn’t befriend you out of pity. I actually like you as a human being, as crazy as that is.” He grabbed Sebastian’s phone. “Enough moping. You have stupid parents. You didn’t pick them. It’s not your fault they are the way they are.”

“You’re right. I’ve always tried to be a good son. I wanted them to like me. I did well in school. I stayed out of trouble. Doing the illegal things only started when I got here and got desperate. I’ll stop. I promise. I already stopped with the IDs. I stopped after that day in the café.”

“Oh.”

“I felt like what happened to you was my fault. If I hadn’t gotten him an ID and let him drink, he wouldn’t have done that to you.”

“Well, honestly, I’m glad I found out his true nature sooner than later. I let myself be drawn in by what I wanted to see rather than what was actually there. I’m not glad that he did what he did because that was scary. But I’m glad I learned that I can defend myself and I can have enough self-respect to walk away from someone who doesn’t respect me.”

“So, you don’t blame me?” Sebastian sat up and scooted up in the bed until he was leaning against the headboard, and he pulled his legs up and wrapped his arms around his legs.

“Of course not. You didn’t try to force me to do something I didn’t want to do. He had shown his inability to make proper decisions when drinking before. He knew better than to drink. He made a choice to drink to the point of getting drunk. And he made a choice to attempt to coerce me to do something I wasn’t prepared or ready to do, which had absolutely nothing to do with you. And even though someone else suggested it to him, he made a choice to act on that suggestion in an inappropriate way. Let’s please never talk about this again, okay? It’s over. I never once even considered blaming you for what happened.”

“Alright. I believe you and I won’t bring it up again.”

“Thank you.” Kurt got up and moved to sit next to Sebastian at the head of the bed.

“I want to stay, but I don’t want to confront my father. Does that make me a coward?”

“No. It makes you human. I don’t think most people feel comfortable confronting people they perceive to have a position of power over them. I guess the question comes down to how much do you want his money?”

“Well, when I came, I was under the impression that the trust fund would be mine when I graduated from Dalton, but the longer I’ve been here and the longer he’s held out on giving me even a tiny allowance to even buy things like a school supplies, the more I think that he’s got something written into the fine print that’s going to prevent me from claiming the trust fund.”

“Like what?”

“I’m thinking that it probably says that I have to get married before I get it. I’m not going to marry a girl just to get the money. If that’s part of the fine print, it probably says that she has to sign a pre-nup preventing her from getting any of the money if we divorce.”

“My dad is going to bring a lawyer with him, so that should be able to be determined pretty quickly. We can brainstorm on ways for you to get money legally. I’m sure Hiram can figure out a way to force your father to give you your documents back. At the end of the school year, you can just go your own way. You can go back to France or stay in the States, or whatever you want to do.”

“I don’t even know anymore. I’ve lived so many years trying to be what I thought I needed to be and just trying to survive that I don’t even know what I want. Other than I like being here with you, with your family. I’ve never been welcomed like this. I like being here.”

“Well, then stay. Make that the first priority.”

“Okay. I’ll keep thinking.”

“Do you want me to let you think alone?”

“Stay.”

Kurt grabbed the book he had been reading off the shelf and propped his pillow up and sat next to Sebastian while he spent time thinking.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Carole called all of them down for dinner at 7:00. They guys set the table and carried the lasagna and salad to the table.

Carole dished out everyone servings since the dish was hot from the oven. The salad got passed around and everyone helped themselves.

“Finn, no salad, no dessert.”

“Right. Pass the salad back this way, please.”

Kurt laughed. “I see you must want some pie.”

“There’s pie too? Awesome! All I saw was the angelfood cake.”

“There’s pie too. I made it yesterday while Sam and Sebastian made cookies”

“Wait, there’s cookies too? How much salad do I have to eat to have all three, Mom?” Finn was holding the salad bowl still.

“A little more.”

Finn put more on his plate and looked at her.

“Fine. That’s good.”

Finn smiled and chomped down the salad to get it over with.

There was no lasagna left by the time they had finished. The salad had been demolished as well. Sebastian got up to help Kurt clear the table.

“Will you take the desserts in and put them on the table?”

“Sure.”

Kurt stayed in the kitchen and washed up the pan the lasagna had been baked in, wiped out the oven, cleaned the top of the stove, and washed the salad bowl. He was drying it when Sebastian came back in.

“Aren’t you going to come have dessert with us?”

“Nah. I’m too full, but I’m almost done and I’ll come sit with everyone.”

He put the salad bowl away and dried the lasagna dish and put it away too. He went in and sat down next to Sebastian.

“How did the pie come out?”

“It’s fantastic. Are you sure you don’t want some?”

“I’m sure. Maybe later.”

“Okay.”

“Hey, Kurt,” Finn said.

“Yeah?”

“All of the desserts are great.”

“I’m glad you like them.”

When everyone had finished, Kurt got up again to clear the table.

“Honey, you’ve done plenty. Finn, you clear the table and load the dishwasher and turn it on.”

“Yes, Mom.” Finn grabbed some plates and carried them into the kitchen.

Kurt said, “I’m going to go ahead and get ready for bed. I’m going to listen to the CDs and go to sleep early. I’m thinking of going out and braving the after Christmas shopping madness after my voice and acting lesson tomorrow morning.”

“Goodnight, kiddo. Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas to you too, Dad.”

Carole followed him through the kitchen and then went to the master bedroom. A few minutes later, Kurt heard a knock on his door.

“Come in.”

“Hey, honey. I want you to take Sebastian with you and get him some new clothes - even if you can only convince him to shop at Goodwill. He needs more than two pairs of jeans and three shirts. Get him at least two more pairs of jeans, a pair of slacks, and four or five more shirts.” She handed him $200. “If you spend more than that, just pay for it yourself and I’ll reimburse you. That’s all the cash I’ve got right now.”

“I’ll try.” Kurt put the money in his wallet.

Sebastian came in the room. “Am I interrupting something?”

“No, sweetie. I just needed to tell Kurt something. I hope you had a nice Christmas. We enjoy having you here.” She walked over to him and hugged him briefly and walked out of the room and back downstairs.

“She’s very sweet.”

“She really is. She’s been really good for my dad. He was really lonely. Having me for a son didn’t make him popular around town. I mean as a business owner, he’s respected because he’s fair and honest. But people will hand over their cars to be repaired a lot easier than they will invite you to do things with them. His buddies are mostly the guys that work in the shop or guys he’s known forever.”

Sebastian shut the door.

“Can we talk?”

“Sure. Do you want to shower first and get our pajamas on or talk now?”

“We can get ready for bed first. Go ahead and shower.”

Kurt finished and they traded places.

Sebastian came out of the bathroom, but just barely - where Kurt couldn’t see him from where he was sitting.

“Kurt?”

“Yeah?”

“I forgot to ask before I came in here. Can I wear some of your pajamas? I didn’t think about doing laundry, but I should have done it today. I’ve worn everything I have.”

“Sure.” He got up and got some out and went over to the bathroom door. “Stick your hand out.”   Kurt stuck the pajamas in Sebastian’s hand.

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

A couple of minutes later, Sebastian came out.

“You can run your stuff down to the washer now, if you want. We can talk while they wash.”

“Um. Sure.” Sebastian grabbed all of his clothes. “Will you come with me? I don’t want to mess anything up.”

“Sure. I’ll show you how they work.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Kurt sat on the end of his bed cross-legged facing the head of the bed.

“I’ve decided that I want to stay.” Sebastian sat down and scooted back against the head of the bed.

“Stay?”

“I mean stay here with you and your family.”

“Good.” Kurt smiled.

Sebastian smiled back.

“When are your father and stepmother coming back?”

“Not until Friday of this coming week, the 30th.”

“Alright. We can tell my dad later and he can get things set up. Will you come with me and Sam in the morning? I have my voice and acting lesson. We’ll take Sam on to Kentucky and then go back in Cincinnati. After my lessons, we’ll go shopping.”

“Alright, if you want me to.”

“I do. Or if you want, I can just let Sam take the Navigator to Kentucky and we can go to Cincinnati in your car. He’s going to be gone this week to visit his family. He’d probably enjoy having a vehicle to drive when he’s there. It would give him more options of things to do with his brother and sister.”

“That’s fine too.” He was hesitant though.

“I’ll pay for the gas. They’re my lessons.”

“Alright.”

“Let me go tell Sam. He won’t have to leave quite so early.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt knocked on Sam’s door. He had grabbed the gifts he had in his room on his way out.

Sam said, “Come in.”

“Oh, hey Kurt. What are those?”

“Well, this one is for you. And those two are for Stevie and Stacey.” He sat the two boxes on the bed and handed Sam the smaller box.

Sam opened the box. “Those are totally cool. Avatar blue guitar picks with words in Na’vi on them. You totally rock.” Sam hugged him.

“So, I came to tell you that you can take the Navigator to Kentucky and keep it all week.”

“What?” He looked up quickly from checking out the guitar picks.

“Sebastian is staying until school starts again. So, you can take the Navigator.   That way you can try to find some free or inexpensive fun things to do with Stevie and Stacey while your mom and dad are working.”

“Thanks. Are you sure? I mean, I know you let me drive it around town, but…”

“No ‘buts’, Sam. I trust you. You’re a good driver. It’s insured. It’s just an SUV. It’s just a possession.”

“I know you love that Nav. You call it your ‘baby.’”

“But you’re my friend. Friends are a lot more important than vehicles. I’m sorry I didn’t spend as much time with you today as I had planned to.”

“It’s okay. I know something’s going on with Bas, but he’s keeping it close to the vest. I’m good. My family loves me. They didn’t ditch me for the holidays. I came here with their blessing and I know that, for whatever reason, Bas stayed. It’s okay. I’m not depressed or jealous. Sometimes people need people they can trust to get through something really rough. He’ll tell me if and when he wants to.”

“You’re awesome. You know that, right?”

“Of course, I do. And so are you. Stay there.” Sam got up and grabbed a large envelope and handed it to Kurt.

He opened it. “Oh, Sam. It’s beautiful. Thank you!” He slipped it back into the envelope. He stood up and hugged Sam. “I love it.”

“Merry Christmas, Kurt.”

“Merry Christmas. Enjoy your week with your family. You can sleep in a bit in the morning since you won’t have to leave with me at 6:30.”

“Nope. Still gotta go early. Mom’s going in an hour late waiting for me to get there to watch the rugrats.”

“Alright. Then I’ll let you get to sleep too. Good night.”

“’Night.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt went back down the hallway to his room and laid the envelope on his dresser.

“Come on. I’ll show you the dryer settings.”

Sebastian followed him downstairs.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”

“Why the rugby shirt? It’s not really you.”

“Oh. Well, I didn’t know what to pick. There were lots of them at the store we went to. I just assumed they were really popular here and would make me look ‘normal’, so I grabbed one and I got the pale blue button up because I thought it was a good compromise between dressy and casual and since I was only allowed to pick two outfits, that’s what I went with. I thought it was like a first shopping trip – not an only shopping trip.”

Kurt let it drop and explained the dryer settings.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Come in here with me.” Kurt motioned Sebastian to the closet. “The red shirt with the pinstripes looks really good on you. It’s yours if you want it.”

“Do you not like it?”

“I like it better on you.” He smiled. He looked a the sleeve length on the shirts hanging in his closet and pulled out the ones with the longest sleeves, putting back the ones that he thought were too him and not at all Sebastian. He had three left.   “Do you like any of these?”

“I’ll wear anything obviously evidenced by the rugby shirt.”

“This isn’t about what you’ll tolerate. I want you to wear things you actually like from now on. We don’t have to go to a store and spend $40 a shirt, but Goodwill has nice ones if you go to bigger towns. I’ve gotten a lot of my high-end shirts for $3.99 each. So, just because one of these is a Tommy Hilfiger shirt doesn’t mean I paid retail for it. I paid $3.99 for it. You can like it or not. My feelings won’t be hurt. I just have like 25 shirts in here and you currently have 2. It makes no sense. It’s only long-sleeve weather like 200 days out of the year. If I wore each of these shirts once before rewearing any and kept doing that, I’d only wear each one 8 times a year.”

“You are very persuasive and kind. I like all three of them. They’re very nice. I’ll try them on and give you a fashion show.”

Kurt turned to step out of the closet.

“You don’t have to leave for me to try on a shirt.”

“Okay.” He stayed with his back turned, but stayed in the closet.

Sebastian just shook his head and smiled. He buttoned the first one up. “What do you think?”

Kurt turned around and checked the sleeve length, the fit through the shoulders, and the body length. “It looks good. Go see if you like it.”

Sebastian humored him and went and looked in the vanity mirror. “I look mah-va-lous, dah-ling.”

Kurt laughed. “Try the other two on Zsa Zsa.”

Sebastian repeated the process twice and gave all of them a thumbs up.

“Alright. Pick one of them to wear tomorrow. Your stuff will be done by the time we get downstairs.”

They went down and came back up.

“So, we’re leaving at 6:30.” Sebastian stepped in the closet to hang his shirts up and put the jeans on the shelf.

“What was in the envelope? Or is it personal?”

“It’s my awesome Christmas gift from Sam.” Kurt opened the envelope and pulled out a watercolor of the three of them at the homeless shelter.

“Oh, wow. It’s fantastic. He’s really good.” Sebastian started folding his clothes.

“He is. We’ll get a frame for it tomorrow. And a couple more pairs of jeans and button ups for you and some undershirts. It gets really cold here in the winter. And of course, some good boots.”

“That sounds like a lot of money.”

“We’ll stop at a couple of Goodwill stores first. What we don’t find there, we’ll look for in a store in the outlet mall in Cincinnati. There are big sales tomorrow. At Goodwill jeans are like $6, and the button ups are $4 like I said, and the undershirts are $1. So, we could potentially get all of that stuff for under $40, plus the cost of the boots.”

“Alright.” Sebastian put his clothes in the dresser.

“And I’m taking you some place fun too.”

“Intriguing.”

“Sleep?” Kurt pushed Sebastian into the bed.

“Sleep.” Sebastian managed to grab Kurt and pull him down with him.

“Let me up or we have to sleep with the light on.”

“Fine, fine.”

Kurt got up, turned the light off and got back in bed.

“Merry Christmas, Bas.”

“It definitely was. Best Christmas ever.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam knocked really lightly.

“Come in, Sam.”

“I just wanted to say bye to you two. I’m heading out.”

Kurt walked over and hugged him. “Have fun. See you Friday.”

“Have a good time, Sam.”

Sam waved and walked out.

“Can I bring this with us?” He was holding a book he pulled off Kurt’s shelf.

“Sure.”

“I started it and it’s pretty interesting and I need something to do for two hours while you have your lessons.”

“I figured you’d come in with me. It’s too cold to sit in your car for two hours.”

“Well, sure, I’ll come inside the building, but I’ll just wait somewhere out of the way and read this.”

“Okay. Let’s get going.”

They headed downstairs quietly to the kitchen. Sebastian made them some scrambled eggs while Kurt fixed them coffee in travel mugs. He made tea to drink with his breakfast and poured Sebastian a glass of orange juice.

“You don’t like orange juice?”

“I do, but tea sounded nice.”

Sebastian plated their eggs. He got out a couple of slices of the cheese that Carole had given him and put one on Kurt’s plate. He saw Kurt pause, but he went ahead and tried it.

“It’s good. Thank you for letting me try some.”

“You’re welcome.” He smiled at Kurt, pleased that he had something to share this time.

They finished eating quickly. Sebastian put the plates in the dishwasher while Kurt washed the skillet. He handed it to Sebastian to dry and put away. Kurt picked up the travel mugs and handed one to Sebastian. Kurt grabbed the two disposable storage containers with cookies in them and headed to the front door through the dining room. He sat everything down on the table at the end of the room and went around the corner to grab his coat, scarf, and gloves.

“Oh, I’ll be right back.” Sebastian sat his mug down and went back upstairs and came right back down. “I hadn’t worn them yet so they were still upstairs. Now, they can just stay with my coat.” He slipped the scarf on and put his coat on, and then put the gloves on.

“Perfect. The scarf looks great on you and now your hands will be warm while you drive.” Kurt opened the door and let Sebastian go through. He locked it behind them. “That’s the other thing we need to do today – get another set of keys made so you can get in the house and lock it up when you leave.”

Sebastian smiled. He unlocked the car, got in, and started the car up. He reached back and laid the book in the backseat.

Kurt put the cookies and his satchel in the backseat and then got in the front. Once he was in and his seatbelt was on, Sebastian backed out of the driveway and they were on their way to Cincinnati.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They spent the whole drive talking. Once Kurt knew some of Sebastian’s story and hadn’t dropped him like a hot coal or treated him like an injured puppy, Sebastian’s outlook had changed and he relaxed. They talked about everything it seemed. Kurt opened up to him about what living in Lima had been like for him. Sebastian talked about raising himself.

During their long talk, Sebastian let go of the fact that he didn’t have the money to pay for anything that day. Kurt had been open and honest with him about so many things that he took him at his word and decided that if their positions were reversed that he wouldn’t want to walk around all day with someone who felt guilty for being helped.

Sebastian did read some during Kurt’s lessons, but he spent most of the time figuring out where they’d go shopping and mapping out their itinerary. And by the time Kurt was done, Sebastian had a plan.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, that pair and the other pair both look good on you. Which pair do you like better?”

“I think this one. They’re more comfortable to sit down in.”

“How about the shirts? I mean you could just get both.”

“Sure.”

“We’ll look someplace else for jeans. Take those slacks off and I’ll go get in line while you get redressed.”

Kurt took both shirts and stepped back so that Sebastian could shut the door. He handed the slacks over the top of the door. Kurt took them and got in line.

Sebastian went out pulled his car around and picked Kurt up when he came out the door. Kurt tossed the bag in the back seat and got back in the front seat.

“Onward.”

“Yes, sir!”

“We’ll get lunch after the next place.”

“Alright.”

Kurt took Sebastian’s phone and pulled up the map and gave him directions to the next place.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Please try it on.”

“Turn the puppy eyes off and hand it here.”

Kurt smiled and handed Sebastian the super soft black cardigan that he had found. He waited bouncing up onto his toes while Sebastian slipped it on over what he was wearing and buttoned it up.

“I knew it!” Kurt exclaimed.

“Knew what?”

“That it would look great on you. Go look in the mirror.”

Sebastian went and looked in the mirror by the dressing rooms. “It’s nice, but ‘sweater’ was not on the shopping list.”

“Try putting your coat on over the top. Can you still move or it is too tight?”

Sebastian did as requested. “It still fits fine.”

“Good. We’re getting it. You’ll thank me later,” he teased. “It will look good with every shirt you own and when it’s really cold you can wear it over anything inside and still look nice. And it’s so soft…”

“Turn off the puppy eyes. You win. I’ll get it. It’s not expensive is it?”

“It’s $10.”

“Well, what else do I need, oh sage wardrobe planner?”

Kurt went through the list in his head. “I think we’re down to the boots.”

“Alright, then let’s get these things and move on.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“I like them both equally.”

“Put one of each on.”

“Why?”

“Then you can compare them at the same time. I’ll wait here with our stuff. Walk around to middle over there and look in the full-length mirror.”

Sebastian came back a few minutes later. “I think these. I’ll put the other one on and walk around just to be sure.”

“I’ll be right here.” Kurt sat on a stool with their bags at his feet.

Sebastian put the mate on and adjusted the laces. He got up and walked around he store for a few minutes and came back. “Definitely these.”

“Alright, then. We’re done. Let’s go get these. Slip them off and put them back in the box. You can put them back on as soon as we pay. Then your feet can stay warm. Those shoes you’re wearing might cost $150, but they do nothing to keep your feet warm.”

Sebastian just laughed and unlaced the boots.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“What is this place?” Sebastian asked as he pulled into a parking space.

“I came here with Matt once. I know you’ll love it. Come on.”

They got out and headed across the parking lot.

“You definitely look warmer now. Scarf, gloves, and boots.”

“I am warmer.” He withheld the urge to thank Kurt again and he suppressed the guilty feeling of needing someone else to get him things when he was so used to taking care of himself.

They walked through the entrance and Sebastian looked around. “Oh, wow. Is this Ohio’s biggest grocery store or something?”

“I don’t know.   It’s definitely the biggest grocery store I’ve ever been in. You’re going to love it here. We can get a few things today and you can come back with me any time you want. Let’s get a cart. I’m not going to buy that much, but I get tired of carrying the baskets.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian popped another piece of French cheese in his mouth, enjoying every bite. Kurt snacked on some dried apricots. They just sat in the car for a few minutes before Sebastian started the car up. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to ground his thoughts and feelings.

He started the car and began backing out of the parking spot when he asked Kurt, “I’m not having some massive delusional dream, right? Your family is really letting me live with you and I don’t have to go back to my father’s anymore, right?”

“As far as I know, I think we’re all going to his house on Saturday to settle this. My dad, Carole, Hiram – the lawyer, me and you.”

“Well, that sounds unpleasant, but I’m sure it’s necessary. I don’t want him to file a police report that I ran away or something. I think he’ll try to get out of paying my tuition at Dalton for the spring in retaliation.”

“Well, let’s just wait until Saturday to see. There’s no point in ruining the rest of winter break this week fretting about what will happen. I know that’s easier said than done.”

“It is. I’ll try. Let’s make a plan while we drive back. You’ve got alterations to do and I’ve got a freezer to organize, plus we have to dig the bush out.”

“And I’ve got to work at the shop and I’ve lost my trainee for the week, so you’ve been conscripted to take his place.”

Sebastian laughed. “Is that so? I don’t even know the name of more than 10 tools in French and I probably knew fewer than that in English.”

“Well, Sam learned. You can too. As soon as Dad figures out how you can legally work in the US, I’m sure you’ll be his next hire any way. We all have to earn our keep.”

“I see.” He laughed. “Your dad is collecting teenage boys to work at his shop.”

“Very funny.”

“Does being a mechanic pay well?”

“Well, pay is based on skill. So, the quicker you learn, the more you’ll make. I’m a certified mechanic and I make $18 an hour.”

“What about Sam?”

“He makes minimum wage along with Finn - when Finn works.”

“Oh.”

“They don’t have any certifications and can only work under someone else or do regular stuff like sweep floors, clean stuff, work the cash register and things like that.”

“I see. So, when I can work legally, then I’ll be doing that basic type stuff for minimum wage? What even is minimum wage?”

“Seven something an hour.”

“So, if I work 8 hours on a weekend, I’d make around $50?”

“Something like that.”

“If I can work legally, I could tutor at Dalton. They get $15 an hour. I need to look into that once your dad and the lawyer make my father give my documents back. I’ll probably need to pay that lawyer, won’t I?”

“Well, we can work that out. Hiram is Rachel’s dad.”

“Oh.”

“I’m imagining he’ll do it pro bono.”

“Why?”

“Because your father is being a jerk and Hiram won’t take kindly to you being discriminated against.”

“I don’t get it. You make it sound like it’s personal to him.”

“Rachel has two dads. Hiram’s gay.”

“Oh.”

“LeRoy is her other dad. He’s an accountant.”

“I see.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

With Finn running off to Puck’s and Rachel’s a lot and spending most of his time down in the family room when he was home, Kurt and Sebastian spent most of the week together getting to know each other better and working on projects around the house. Kurt introduced Sebastian to the shop. Sebastian was a fast learner and he was able to do oil changes after watching a couple of times. Kurt oversaw him do a couple and they moved on to some other things since he couldn’t let him do them unattended yet.

By the end of the week, the house and garage were pretty much spotless. Carole calculated that Sebastian could consider the debt he felt like he owed her paid in full since he had done so much work. She even wrote up a slip with the cost of hiring someone to do what he had done so he would believe her, which brought a big smile to his face.

Friday afternoon, Sam came back. They headed out to the basketball game not long after he got back.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Saturday morning was gray and overcast and mirrored the heaviness Sebastian felt on the drive to the Smythe mansion. Hiram rode with Burt. Sebastian drove Kurt. Carole ended up having to work and couldn’t go. They had decided to show up unannounced. They arrived at 9:00. The four of them walked up to the door together. Sebastian rang the doorbell and stepped back.

A few minutes later, Lorraine Smythe answered the door. “Sebastian, who are these people with you?” She looked like she could have been a model – nearly as tall as Kurt, thin, with pale skin, long dark brown wavy hair and piercing blue eyes.

He stepped forward and she stepped back. The other three followed Sebastian inside.

“I want to speak to my father. Please tell him I’m here. We’ll be in the library waiting.”

She walked away to go find Robert.

Sebastian led the other three to the library. The four of them sat down on the couches in the library and waited.

“Lorraine says you’ve brought guests this morning. Some forewarning would have been appreciated, Sebastian,” Robert said as he came into the room and then came to a complete stop. Robert was a middle-aged version of Sebastian – tall, lean and muscular, with short brown hair and green eyes. “Burt Hummel. It’s a surprise to see you here.”

“Robert. This is my son Kurt and our lawyer Hiram Berry.”

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

“I’ve come to ask you for the legal details of my ability to obtain my trust fund. Mr. Berry will look over the details while we speak.”

Robert didn’t move.

“Any time, Father. We aren’t leaving until I know the details.”

“Yes. Right. I’ll be back.”

The four of them sat in silence waiting for him to return.

“Here’s the paperwork.”

Hiram stood and took it. “Thank you, Mr. Smythe.”

“Where are your manners, Father? You haven’t offered our guests anything to drink or eat.”

“Well, I’m sure we could make some coffee, if you gentlemen would like some.”

“No food?”

“The housekeeper hasn’t come back from the grocery store yet. I’m not sure what there is to offer. As I mentioned, some forewarning would have prevented that, Sebastian.”

“If you had left any food for me to eat while you went to Colorado, we could have offered that to our guests. But you didn’t leave me any food.”

“You have a car. You could have gone shopping.”

“With what money, Father? The money you refuse to give me? Grocery stores don’t look kindly on shoplifters.”

“You know how you could get money.”

“That’s actually why we’re here, Robert. You are not being a proper parent to Sebastian.”

“I pay for him to attend a prestigious private school that provides room and board. He has clothing, a place to live, and food.”

“What about soap? Shampoo? School supplies?” Sebastian asked.

“As I mentioned, you are not fulfilling your duties as a son, so you have not been receiving your allowance. It’s a willful choice you have made.”

“Burt,” Hiram said, “I’ve looked it over. It’s as Sebastian suspected.”

“So, I have to get married to get my trust fund?”

“Yes, Sebastian,” Hiram answered.

“I want all of my legal documents given to me now. Everything I brought with me from France that you put in your safe. I want all of it returned to me.”

“For what purpose?”

Hiram spoke up. “If you don’t return his legal documents from the verbal request he is making right now, I will fill a suit demanding their return to him. He is 18. The documents belong to him. Refusing to give them to him will not be in your best interest.”

“Fine. Wait here.”

They waited in silence yet again - this time for longer. Sebastian left the room and Burt followed him. They got to Robert’s office to find him photocopying the documents.

“No. You will not keep copies or attempt to give Sebastian the copies. Give us everything you’ve copied and the originals. Do not move from where you are standing,” Burt said resolutely blocking the doorway.

Sebastian went over to the photocopier and lifted the lid to remove the document. He took all of the copies from the tray. He turned around and took whatever Robert was holding.

“Where is whatever else is mine?”

“On the desk in that file.”

“If I find a single thing missing or tampered with, I will file a lawsuit against you, and I will hold a press conference about it. Be sure you are telling me the whole truth right now.”

“That’s everything you gave me besides what you just took out of my hands.”

“It better be. Rest assured that I have records of what I gave you. I photographed the front and back of each and every document you made me give you.”

Sebastian took the photocopies and the documents Robert was holding and put them in the file folder with whatever was in it and closed it. He carried it out of the room and back to the library. Burt followed him, with Robert close behind.

Sebastian took the folder and sat at the table in the library and started to organize the documents, first separating out the originals from the copies. While he was doing that, Burt started to speak to Robert.

“You are a disgrace of a parent, Robert Smythe. You ripped your son from the only life he had known, brought him to a country he had never been to, stuck him in a school system he was unfamiliar with, and left him to figure it all out on his own. You provided him with two days of clothing and then bought him nice things for show – a leather duffle and satchel, an expensive laptop, shoes, a belt, and coat. But nothing he needed for school or personal hygiene. No school folders, no paper, no pens or pencils. Nothing. You’re pathetic.”

“He needs discipline. His mother let him run wild and become a fag.”

“I’d watch your language if I were you,” Hiram said firmly.

“I’ll say what I please in my own house.”

Burt spoke again. “We are going to reach an agreement today, Robert. You clearly have no interest in being a parent to the wonderful young man sitting at the table over there. Our family has grown quite fond of him and we have asked him to move in with us. He’s already been living with us for the past week.”

“What kind of agreement?”

“First off, let’s have a seat at the table, shall we?” Hiram said.

Everyone moved to the table, but there were only four chairs. Robert left the room and came back with a fifth and sat down.

Hiram handed Robert a piece of paper. “This is what Sebastian has requested.”

Robert read through it. “I won’t sign this.”

“Which part is unacceptable?”

“If he leaves, the car stays here. I paid for it. It’s legally mine. I also want the phone returned. If he’s not in my care, I will not pay for his phone.”

“And the other requests?”

“He can stay at Dalton. They aren’t listed here, but he can keep the other items I purchased for him.”

“And you will not contest a name change?”

“No.”

“Sebastian?” Hiram inquired.

“Fine. As long as he signs the paper and it’s legally binding that he will pay for all of the tuition, fees, room and board, and books required for attending Dalton, I will sign it as well. I’ll need a few minutes to wipe my phone, and after he signs everything, I will give him the phone, the car key and the car remote. But I want him to sign a form listing everything that I give him has been received by him. I don’t want him to be able to say that I didn’t return what he asked for.”

“I’ll amend the agreement while you finish looking through your papers and clear your phone, Sebastian,” Hiram said. “And I’ll write up an invoice for the items you return to him whenever you’re ready to do that.”

“Kurt, can you go get my satchel and duffle?” Sebastian handed Kurt his keys.

“Sure.” Kurt left and came back a few minutes later. He placed them next to Sebastian.

“Alright. I’ve determined that all of my papers that I brought with me are here. I’ll be taking the photocopies with me and I’ll destroy them myself. If you’ll give me a sheet of paper, Hiram, I will make a list of the items that I am returning to him for him to sign. I’ll also display the items on this table and you can photograph him with the items, signing that he received them. What I did not see in the folder is my US Passport, my social security card, and my US birth certificate. I won’t be leaving without those. So, while I am making my list, you can take Burt with you to retrieve those from your office.”

Robert got up and Burt followed him.

Sebastian took a while to finish writing, which surprised Kurt. He wasn’t sure what was going on. Once he finished the list, he stood and picked up his satchel first. He opened it and removed the laptop, the binder, and the pencil case. He removed the earbuds from the pencil case.

He placed the laptop, the earbuds, and the satchel on the table. He placed the binder and pencil case in front of the chair he had been sitting in. He picked up the duffle next and opened it. He removed 6 pairs of underwear, 6 pairs of socks, his school shoes, his trainers, 2 pairs of pajamas, 2 pairs of jeans, the rugby shirt, the blue button up shirt, and the black leather belt. He placed the duffle on the table as well.

He walked over to where he had been sitting and picked up the coat he had been wearing. He removed the gloves from the pockets and placed them and the scarf on top of the folder with his documents on the table. Then, he added the coat to the items in the middle of the table.

He restacked everything so that it could all be clearly seen in a photo. He removed the key to the Hummel’s house and his dorm room key from the keychain and put those two keys in the small pocket of his jeans. He placed the keychain where it could be clearly seen. Lastly, he double-checked his phone, put in his Apple ID and tapped the reset to factory settings button.

Burt and Robert came back into the room about the same time as Sebastian had finished restacking everything. Burt handed Sebastian the documents. He put them with the others.

“This is everything my father has given me since I arrived. I don’t want any of it. I will accept the payment for my schooling only because I do not want to change schools again with only one semester until I graduate and you originally agreed to pay for my schooling in an agreement with my mother.”

“Why are you returning the clothing and the other items I bought you? What am I going to do with them?”

“I don’t want them. I’ve not taken anything from you except payment for my schooling since right after I turned 11, the year my mother put me in a boarding school. I’ve worked for everything I’ve owned since then. You had my documents preventing me from working here legally since I arrived, but I have those now and I will get a job and pay my own way like I have for the last 7 years.”

“I don’t understand,” Robert said. “What do you mean you worked when you were 11?”

“How else was I going to eat when I wasn’t at school in July and August? What was I going to wear when I couldn’t wear my school clothes at home? It doesn’t matter now. I just want to be free from both of you. Pay my for last semester’s schooling and you’ll never have to hear from me again.”

Burt spoke up. “Hiram, check his list and make sure everything on the table is listed. Robert, please move to the other side of the table to be photographed receiving the items being returned to you.”

“Photograph me first signing the paper, and then him signing that he received the items,” Sebastian said.

“Actually,” Kurt said. “Hiram stand to the left of Sebastian. Dad to the right. Now, sign the paper, Sebastian.” Kurt took several photos. “Now, Mr. Smythe, trade positions with Sebastian and sign that you received them.” Kurt took more pictures. “Now, Dad, sign the paper as a witness. You next, Hiram.” Kurt photographed them as well.

Sebastian moved back and put all of the items back in the duffle and put the laptop in the satchel and moved them off the table.

Hiram put the new agreement down in front of Sebastian, who signed it while Kurt photographed him. Next was Mr. Smythe, then Burt, then Hiram. Hiram pulled out his notary stamp and notarized both papers.

“You and Mr. Smythe can go copy these.” Hiram explained how many of each to make.

Burt nodded and the two of them left the room. Hiram logged the notarizations into his official logbook while they were gone. Sebastian moved the documents from the file folder into a section of his binder that was secure. He moved the empty file folder to the middle of the table.

When they came back, Hiram took the photocopies. He kept what he needed and distributed the other photocopies to Robert and to Sebastian, who put all of the papers in his binder with the other legal documents.

Hiram spoke, “There is one last form for you to sign, Mr. Smythe.”

“What’s that?”

“The form that says you won’t contest Sebastian’s request to change his last name, in case he decides to do that at some point. It may not be needed, but while we’re here, I’m going to cover all of the bases. Just sign this form. Feel free to read it first.”

Robert took the form, read it through, and signed and dated it. “There.” Burt took it and signed as the witness. Hiram signed it and then stamped it. He entered the third notarization into his logbook. He kept the paper.

“Is there anything else you need to do in this house, Sebastian?” Burt asked.

“I’d like to say goodbye to Madeleine and Liam.”

“Why?” Robert asked.

“Because they are children. They do not understand any of this. You told them they had an older brother. I will not just vanish. Have Lorraine bring them to the front room. You can be there. Just don’t say anything mean about me to them ever.”

“Fine. I’ll go get the three of them. You know the way. We’ll meet you there.”

Burt and Hiram went out to Burt’s car to wait. They put Sebastian’s stuff in the back seat. Kurt waited with Sebastian. Robert brought Lorraine and the two children into the front room.

“Madeleine and Liam, this is my friend Kurt.”

“Hi Kurt,” Madeleine said. She looked like a mini-me of her mother.

He smiled at both of them.

“I hope the two of you had fun on your vacation,” Sebastian said.

“We did,” Liam said. Liam looked much like what Kurt thought Sebastian probably looked like at his age.

“It was lots of fun,” Madeleine said. “Daddy told us you didn’t want to come.”

“Oh. Well, I spent Christmas with friends. I’m going to be staying with them, and then I’ll head back to my school, so I won’t be back to stay here anymore. I just wanted to tell the two of you goodbye.”

“Alright. Bye, Sebastian,” Madeleine said. She reached to hug him and he knelt to pull her close and hug her back.

Liam didn’t move, but said a sad, quiet “goodbye”. Sebastian put his hand on Liam’s shoulder and nodded.

Sebastian and Kurt turned and walked out the front door. Sebastian made it to the car before he started to cry.

Chapter Text

Kurt took Sebastian’s hand in the car and just held it loosely. He didn’t want Sebastian to feel completely alone.

Hiram drove back toward Lima, but he stopped at Kohl’s and had Kurt and Sebastian come in with him. “Go look in the men’s department. I’ll be back there in a minute. Take a cart.”

Kurt and Sebastian did as they were told.

A few minutes later, Hiram approached them. He spoke Sebastian. “This is not an act of charity. This is something I agreed to a long time ago and I now get a chance to be a man of my word. One day, if presented the opportunity, you will do the same. Please select the underwear, socks, jeans, shirts, shoes, belt and coat you need. You won’t tell anyone that I did this, neither will I. One day when it’s your turn, you will do it in secret as well.”

“Only if you tell me the story, or at least a little bit of it,” Sebastian said.

“Come this way.” Hiram led them to the shoe department, which was the only place with seats. He sat in between the two of them, he leaned over, and spoke very quietly. “When I was a senior in high school, I was outed to my family, who kicked me out of my house. I spent my days at school, and my afternoons and evenings in the library. When it closed, I left and slept in a shed I had found. I borrowed enough money from a friend to buy one change of clothes so that I could wash a set while wearing the other, which I did in the locker room at school after school. I hung them to dry in my gym locker. The custodian caught me one day about two weeks into my doing this. He told me to meet him after he got off. I was afraid he was going to tell the school I was homeless and I’d get kicked out. Instead, he took me shopping and took me home with him and let me sleep on his couch. He didn’t have a spare room for me, but he didn’t want me out on the streets. I got a part-time job and finished school. I moved out and I worked for a few years after that and saved up money to go to college. Eventually, I became a lawyer. He told me the only repayment he wanted was for me to do the same thing for someone else if I ever got the chance. He was a black man in the late 60s willing to take in a gay Jewish teenager. I can’t do something as brave as he did because things have at least improved in some ways. But I can do this for you. I’d love for you to live your whole life and never be able to do this for someone else because no one needs it done for them. But should the opportunity arise, I’d like you to help someone out.”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, I have this great coupon that Kohl’s was so kind to give me for opening a Kohl’s account today. But don’t worry. I’m not going into debt. I just figured the young lady at the front of the store needed a boost for her job today. They usually get a bonus if they can get someone to agree to open an account. I’ll just pay it off before we leave.” Hiram sat up straight and spoke in his normal voice again. “Shall we start with the shoes, since we’re already here?”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After Sebastian picked out some comfortable black leather lace-up oxfords and a pair of Vans similar to Kurt’s, Kurt turned on his well-honed bargain hunting skills and scoured the 60-80% off clearance racks and found a pea coat similar to the one Sebastian had been wearing. He found some pairs of Levi’s that fit well too, along with a couple of patterned button-ups that Sebastian liked.

Sebastian chose socks and underwear. He convinced Hiram that anything else that he needed that he could get for himself once started working. He told him about his and Kurt’s Goodwill adventures and how he had a pair of slacks and a few shirts at the Hummel’s. They were on their way out in less than an hour. They stopped at the benches in the entryway and Sebastian took the tags off the coat and put it on.

He put the two pairs of shoes into the bag with the clothes, and put the shoeboxes into the trashcan. Hiram wanted to keep what he had done low key, so Sebastian condensed everything to fit into the one bag. When he got into the backseat, he put his pencil case in the bag too, and tied the bag closed. He put his scarf and gloves back on. He looked like he had when they had left that morning.

While the three of them had been shopping, Burt had walked across the parking lot and put their names in at Cracker Barrel. Kurt moved the car to the restaurant lot. The three of them went inside and found Burt looking around the store.

“We should be up soon. I’ll go check,” Burt said.

“Hummel, party of four” was called out before he even got there. The other three made their way to the hostess stand. They were seated and given menus.

“I’ve never been to a place like this. It’s like a theme restaurant,” Sebastian said quietly to Kurt, as he looked around at all of the memorabilia on the walls.

“They serve breakfast all day and it’s southern style food. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, pot roast, chicken pot pies, pork chops, collard greens, grits, stuff like that.”

“I’ve never really eaten at American restaurants other than that time I went with you to that café. I just eat whatever looks best in the cafeteria. What’s good?”

“This restaurant chain is popular, like really popular. Think about it. My dad put our name on the list after he got here like 45 minutes ago. Pretty much everything is good.”

“Alright. I’ll try a chicken pot pie. That sounds interesting and the picture makes it look good.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

When they got back to the house, Sebastian went straight up to Kurt’s room. As he entered, he realized that it was their room now. He was home. He didn’t ever have to go back to his father’s house again.

Kurt wasn’t far behind him and found him just staring into space sitting on the bed. When Kurt came closer, he looked up.

“I’m sorry.”

Kurt looked confused. “About what?”

“Borrowing some of you clothing without asking. I realized last night that I just didn’t want anything that he had bought me since I came. But I should have asked.”

Kurt sat down next to him. “Bas, it’s fine. You can just toss them in my laundry. They’ll be fine. I’m glad you were able to do what you wanted. Do you feel better now?”

“Yes and no. I’m free, which feels amazing. But knowing that neither one of them ever wanted me is really hard.”

“Well, they’re both stupid. Since Hiram doesn’t want anyone to know what he did, let’s get the new clothes into the washer and dryer before Carole gets home. That way they’ll all be up here and put away already. We didn’t give her the final closet reveal yet.”

Sebastian opened the bag and they took the tags off the items and Kurt ran them all down to the washer and came right back.

“You don’t have any pajamas now, though. And you’ll need a belt and book bag of some sort. You can wear my pajamas when you’re home, but we need to go out at some point and find you some to take back to school with you.”

“I have a single. No one would see me sleep in my underwear.”

“Fire alarms, room checks?”

“I was just teasing. We’ll go to Goodwill and get some.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Is there anything left I haven’t already told you? I think I’ve spilled my guts this week.”

“Why do you have an American accent? I would have expected your teachers to have a British accent.”

“Well, my father obviously believed that my mother actually held a job and he paid for me to have an au pair. I had several.   An au pair lived with us until I was old enough to send off to boarding school. I’m assuming that he never knew that my mother sent me to daycare and before- and after-school care. So, my father sent money, my mother kept the money and got an au pair to watch me all evening and night in exchange for a free room. It worked well because I was an easy kid and rent in Paris is extraordinarily high. So, getting to live somewhere free and keep me from dying was an easy task. She got American college students to do it.”

“So, you grew up bilingual?

“Yes.”

“You’re amazing, you know.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes.

Kurt shoulder bumped him. “How did you not end up a drug dealer?”

“I had seen that lifestyle and didn’t want anything to do with it. My mother’s male ‘friends’ offered me other ways of making money too that I never took them up on. This life you’ve led where you have a parent that cares, is completely foreign to me - like the way your dad stood up to my father today. He called me a ‘wonderful young man’. I had to focus really hard not to cry. No adult has ever said anything like that about me. And your stepmother is the sweetest person I have ever met.”

“They both really like you.”

Kurt’s phone alarm went off. “I’ll be right back.” Kurt ran down and right back up. “Help me. You fold, I’ll hang.” Kurt grabbed two hangers from the closet and put the new shirts on them and hung them in the closet with Sebastian’s other clothes. He shook the jeans out and folded them and put both pairs on the shelf above his shirts, with the other jeans. He had hung Sebastian’s slacks on a wood hanger to keep them wrinkle free.

Sebastian put the socks and underwear in the drawer Kurt had given him in the dresser, and then he went in the closet.

“It’s completely neat and organized in here now. We did good,” Kurt said.

Sebastian looked around.   He tried to hold back the tears, but didn’t succeed. “Thank you.”

“You’ve thank me enough for 10 lifetimes already, Bas.”

“I could never thank you enough, but I’ll stop saying it if you want me to. I have a home where people actually want me to be there and they care about me. There’s never going to be enough thanking you for that.”

“Bas, come here.” Kurt stepped closer and pulled Sebastian closer and hugged him. “It’s going to be okay.”

“I think you’re right.”

Kurt heard the garage door go up. “Let’s go get Carole and show her that we finished everything in here.”

Sebastian was completely unused to the idea of an adult caring at all, but he went with Kurt.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Okay, you can open your eyes now,” Kurt said.

“Oh, it looks nice in here. Give me the grand tour, sirs.”

“Well, we’ll start with the bathroom.” He let Carole go first. “We found some lovely gray towels and wash cloths and added them to my navy ones. Sebastian’s chosen products have been added to the cabinet and tub.”

“Nice. The gray looks good.”

“I put a little shelf on the wall next to the vanity to hold my products and I made a mirror cover, so that it can double as a desk when Sebastian’s here. He can use the desk when he’s home.”

“We found a fold up moon chair that Sebastian likes. It’s behind the chair in the corner. He can pull it out whenever he wants. It just gives us more room to walk if it’s folded when no one is sitting in it.”

“We repositioned the shelves so that speakers are in the middle now and the left bookshelf has my stuff and the right one has Sebastian’s. We printed some of his photos and put them in frames we got for $1 each at Goodwill and we painted ourselves. We need a couple from Christmas for those empty ones.”

“I like the photos. I’ll print some of the Christmas ones for you.”

“Thanks,” Sebastian said.

“He has space for his stuff in the dresser and the final part is the closet. I finally finished it. It’s not just weeded through. We actually organized it so that it looks good.”

She stepped inside. “It looks great.” She came back out. “I hope you like it here with us. We’re all a bit crazy, but…”

“Yeah, I know about the crazy, but it’s a good crazy.”

She stepped towards him and held her arms out. “Come here, sweetie.”

He walked into her arms. “We’re glad you’re here. It’s all official now. This is your home.”

He didn’t let go. “Thank you,” he said very quietly. “No one ever wanted me.”

“Well some people are too dumb to know a good thing when they see it. I’m going to go get changed so I can go watch the basketball game with you tonight. We can cheer Sam together. I haven’t been yet. Unless you don’t want to be seen with an old fogey like me at the game.”

“What? You’re not an old fogey, although I don’t know what a ‘fogey’ is. You’re beautiful. And I would definitely not be embarrassed to sit with you. I’ll put my red hoodie on before we go. I know Kurt has to change too.”

“We’ll be downstairs as soon as we’re ready,” Kurt said.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sam left for the game early. Sebastian stayed home with Carole and helped her prep sandwiches for when everyone got back later.   They left in time to make it to the game.

They cheered for Sam. Tina sat with them.

“Tina?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you want to come over afterwards and have sandwiches with us and watch a movie? Carole and I already made a bunch before we came.”

“Um, sure. Thanks.” Tina texted her mom that she was going to Kurt’s and that he would bring her home later.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Thanks for inviting me, Sebastian. The movie was fun. I had a good time,” Tina said as she got out of the Navigator. I’ll see you at school on Monday, Kurt. No, wait. We don’t have school until Wednesday. I’ll see you then.”

“Thanks for coming. Happy New Year!” Kurt said.

She waved as she walked up her driveway.

Kurt pulled out and headed back home. “It was a good idea to invite her, Bas. I’ve tried not to take up her time she she’s been dating Mike, but obviously she still has free time, so we should invite her more often.”

“She seemed down.”

“Mike went out of town for Christmas to visit relatives. She’s probably lonely. She’s not really friends with Rachel, and Mercedes spent all semester in the Troubletones and not with us.”

“You go back on Wednesday?”

“Yeah. You don’t?”

“No. We don’t go back until a week from Monday. So, you’ll be at school three days while I’m home alone.”

“Well, they never assign much at the beginning. I’ll fake sick and stay home. I don’t think Carole will care.”

“You can ask.”

It didn’t take much longer and they were back in the Hummel driveway.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They lounged around all day on New Year’s Day. The played board games, with Kurt and Sebastian teaming up, Carole and Burt teaming up, and Sam and Finn playing individually so they could play the 4-player games.

They watched a movie. They played Mario Kart for a while. Sam and Finn stayed downstairs to play other video games. Kurt and Sebastian went upstairs to read for a while.

Kurt put his book down. “That’s what we’ll go do tomorrow. We’ll open a bank account in your name and we’ll get you a new phone.”

“I don’t have any money. Why do I need a bank account?” Sebastian stuck his finger in the book to keep his place, but closed it and held it one hand.

“Because we need the bank to mail a statement to you here. You can also call the school and give them your new address and request something from the school to be mailed here as well.”

“Why?” He turned and sat with his legs criss-crossed and his elbows on his knees with his hands in his lap, looking at Kurt.

“We need to get you a new driver’s license.”

“I’ve just been driving with my French license.”

“Well, we’ll get you an Ohio license as well.”

“Sure. I don’t see why though.”

“My dad said you need it for him to put you on our car insurance policy, but also because once you get an Ohio license with a local Lima address, you can check out books and stuff from the local library.”

“Ah, that makes sense now. And free books. I like that.”

“Me too. Interlibrary loan is great. We have a small library here, but with interlibrary loan we can borrow books from Columbus and other places with bigger collections.”

“Cool.”

“It is. That’s how I get the French books I read. We need to get you a book bag of some sort as well. You can take my laptop if you need one at school. I don’t take mine to school.”

“I’ll think about it. I did use it to take notes sometimes since I type pretty fast and prevented the need for as much paper. I mostly used it so I could do my work in my room rather than using the computer lab. I just went there to print stuff if I had to, which wasn’t that often.”

“If the administrative offices are open this week, we could go over and get you signed up to tutor. That way you can be available to start as soon as classes start again. $15 an hour is pretty good. I know you have a ton of schoolwork of your own, but even if you could squeeze in three people a week, and then you come home and work a couple of hours on Friday night and four hours with me on Saturday morning, you could make like $70-75 a week or so, after taxes.”

“That would be amazing.” He paused, and then asked hesitantly, “You really want me to come here every weekend?”

“Well sure, but you don’t have to. But you can if you want.”

“Of course, I’d want to. I sit in my dorm room alone most of the time.”

“Well, now you can come here any time you want.”

“Except that I have no car.” He turned again and lay down on his side and propped his head on his hand.

“My dad’s working on that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, he’s leaving for DC tomorrow. So, he won’t be using his truck. I think you’re going to take Carole’s car next week and she’ll use his truck until he gets his planned ironed out.”

“And the plan is?”

“A secret.”

“Meaning you can’t tell me?”

“Meaning, I don’t know,” Kurt shrugged.

“Oh. Okay. I have good news.”

“What’s that?” Kurt asked excitedly.

“I forgot to tell you that I will only be taking 8 classes this semester, and it’s going to be French as my independent study course.”

“Well, that should make things easier.”

“A LOT easier. It’s still a weird schedule, but it’s an improvement. I have…US History, American Literature, Creative Writing, Calculus, Physics, Psychology, Orchestra, and French. I sat down with the guidance counselor and we went through my transcript again class by class trying to make at least one more of them count for something. High schools here have more classes in a broader range. In France people pick a technology/science/math track or a philosophy/arts/language/history track before high school. I was in the technology track not because I liked it better, but because I thought I get a better paying job in the long run.”

“I get that. With your background, you wanted something that was more of a secure job track.”

“And your dad has given you that. He’s trained you up to have a financially stable job that you can support yourself doing while you pursue something you love.”

“Yeah. And now you get that chance too. You can start to study for the certification tests any time you want. Once you get a few, you can start working on your own and making more money. The more qualified you are, the more you’ll get paid.”

“We’ll see if I have any free time at all. Maybe I can to study between now and when lacrosse starts.”

“Do you really love lacrosse or is it something you just did?”

“I guess I need to consider that too. You ask hard questions.”

“I know. I ask myself hard questions all the time.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Later that night when they were lying in bed, an idea came to Kurt. “You mentioned that you are taking calculus. Have you taken any applied math courses like accounting?”

“Back in France I did.”

“I have a solution then. I do Dad’s books, but he needs me to step up into a position of overseeing the work bays more. You have your documentation now. He could hire you in to do the books, if you can prove that you can do it.”

“If you show me, I’m sure I can. Does it pay better?”

“Don’t hold me to it, but I bet he’d pay at least $10 or more an hour and you could do it like 12 hours a week. Maybe 2 on Fridays when you come home and then like four on Saturday and six on Sunday. The books don’t have to be done when the shop is open. So, you could go in with me on Saturday mornings from 8:00-noon and then I could drop you off and you could work from 6:30-12:30 on Sundays.”

“It’s an idea. We can talk to him about it tomorrow still, right?”

“Not really. He’s leaving tomorrow afternoon and going to DC. I’m going to go down and talk to him. I’ll be right back.”

Sebastian waited and waited. He picked the book up that he had been reading and tried to focus on the words. It seemed like Kurt was gone forever, but he knew it had only been about 15 minutes when he came back.

Kurt climbed back into bed. “Here’s what my dad said. ‘Don’t stress out so much.’ He’s going to have Carole get you a laptop. It won’t have ‘bells and whistles’ – his words. But it will work for school. He said to go with me to the shop this week. Watch me do the books. Watch me do other stuff. He’s going to give you an allowance for the first month, which will give him time to go to DC and get settled in and come back without you or him worrying about you not having any money. He says it’s not charity because if he were home, he could get it all worked out this week and you could start working, but since he has to be gone, he’s dealing with it in his way.”

“I can hear him giving you this speech.”

Kurt laughed. “He knows how much you feel like you have to earn your keep, but he wants you to relax. Get comfortable living with us. Get used to the fact that we want you here.”

“Got it. Well, I mean I understand what he’s saying. It will be different. I’m not used to interacting much. Like I said, I’ve been the type to keep my head down and stay just bristly enough to keep people at bay, but not enough to give any adults a reason to check up on my home life. I never wanted to end up in state care. The private schools I went to weren’t the best, but they were good.”

“You’ll be fine here.”

“I already am. I did think of something else I need to get tomorrow - a key ring.”

“We can do that. I have your allowance. Well, I brought it up here with me. It’s on the dresser.”

“Okay. I’m on overload with accepting the kindness of others. Anymore and I will be unable to believe that I’m not having some extended hallucination.”

Kurt rolled over and sat up and started to tickle him.

“What’s that for?” he asked between bouts of laughing.

“I figured it was nicer than pinching you to prove that his is real.”

“You’re crazy.”

“A well-established fact.” Kurt plopped back on his own side of the bed and got comfortable to fall asleep. “Happy New Year, Bas.”

“Happy New Year, Kurt.” He reached up and turned the bedside light off. And to himself mostly, he quietly said, “I think it might be my first happy year ever.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Sebastian was met with a smiling Kurt holding a tray.

“Slide up.”

Sebastian slid up in the bed and leaned against the headboard. “What’s that?”

“Well, it’s a year of firsts for you. I figured that no one has ever made you breakfast in bed and I’d be the first.”

“You brought me breakfast? That you personally made just for me?”

“Yes and yes.” Kurt put the tray down over Sebastian’s legs.

“Wow. Waffles with strawberries? And whipped cream?”

“I thought you’d like it.”

“Like it? I love it. Thank you. You are already the nicest person I know. If you keep this kind of thing up, I’ll have to nominate you for sainthood or something.”

“I don’t think they’ll let an atheist be a saint, so I think I’m safe from that happening.”

“This is really good. Some time I’ll make you crèpes.”

“Mmm. Sounds good.”

“Aren’t you eating?”

“I ate earlier before I started yours.”

Sebastian looked across the bed at the clock on Kurt’s bedside shelf. “You let me sleep in. It’s 9:00 already.”

“You looked too peaceful to wake up. So, I did laundry and made breakfast.”

“You have a magic bed or something. I’ve never slept like I do when I sleep here.”

“Good. I’m glad you’re comfortable here. I’ll be right back.”

Sebastian finished eating while Kurt was gone. He came back in carrying a basket of laundry. He dumped it out on the bed and started folding. He folded everything quickly and put it away.

“You don’t have to do my stuff.”

“I know. But I was already doing it, so why not?”

“Well, thanks. I’m going to get dressed so we can go out.” Sebastian went in the closet and grabbed a pair of jeans and a green button up and put them on in the closet, putting the pajamas in the laundry basket. He grabbed his boots.   “How cold is it outside? I can’t check the weather without a phone.”

“Oh, um. It’s 24.”

“In Celsius, please?”

“Oh, right. Negative 4.”

“Ooh. Very cold.” He grabbed the cardigan too and came back into the room. He opened the dresser and pulled out a pair of socks and put his boots on, leaving the cardigan on the bed briefly while he went in the bathroom to finish getting ready. He came out to find Kurt holding his cardigan with a grin on his face. “I know. You told me I’d thank you later. I remember.”

Kurt held it out for him to put his arms in.

“Breakfast in bed and now you’re helping me get dressed. Do you have aspirations of being a butler?”

“Nope, not at all.” Kurt walked over to the dresser and handed Sebastian five $20 bills.

“$100?”

“Your allowance for now.”

“Oh.” Sebastian put the money in his wallet.

“You can use most of it to open your checking account today.”

“Okay. Lead the way oh, guru of all things American.”

“You goof. Grab the tray and let’s go.” Kurt picked up his satchel and followed Sebastian down the stairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They had gotten everything done in Lima that needed done. Sebastian had a new key ring with a key to Carole’s car, house keys to the Hummel’s, and his dorm key on it. They found a nice leather satchel, a belt, and pajamas at Goodwill. The strap on the satchel needed repaired and it needed polished and conditioned, but Kurt assured him that he could have it looking good with a little work. Sebastian believed him. Kurt seemed to possess magical transformation skills. Sebastian opened his first bank account.

Sebastian called the school to verify that the administrative staff was working before they took off and headed off to Westerville.

“Good afternoon, Kurt, Sebastian,” Ms. Walters said as they entered the office.

“Good afternoon,” they both replied.

“What can I do for you today?”

“Well, I’d like to sign up for the tutoring program – to be a tutor. I have all of my documents now.”

“Excellent.” She gave him a list of what she needed. He gave them to her and she photocopied them. “Fill this out. Be sure to mark the areas you want to tutor. Don’t just mark everything because you have to take an exam for each one.”

“I see. How long is each exam and when can I take them?”

“They’re one hour long each and you can take a couple today still. You’ll have to come back another day to take more because it’s already 1:30 and we close at 4:00 today since there aren’t any students in the building.”

“Alright. Also, I need to fill out a change of address form.”

She opened a file cabinet behind her and handed him another form to fill out.

“While you’re here, you could go ahead and move your stuff if you’d like.”

“Move my stuff?”

“To your new room.”

“Why am I moving to a new room?”

“Your room assignment was changed to a double in a suite with a shared bathroom.”

“When?”

“Earlier this morning.”

“Who am I rooming with?”

“You work on filling those out and I will check.”

They both took a seat and Sebastian filled the papers out. He handed her the clipboard after he had finished.

“Thanks. You’ll be rooming with Blaine Anderson, who has re-enrolled for the coming semester.”

“No.”

“Excuse me?” Ms. Walters was startled by Sebastian’s curt answer.

“I’m sorry for being rude. I won’t room with Blaine. There has to be another vacancy in a double room.”

“Let me check. While I’m doing that, you can go ahead and take one of the tests if you’d like.”

“Yes, please. The French one.”

“Just have a seat over there in that office and I’ll log you in.”

Sebastian did as he was told. She logged him in and he got started answering questions. She closed the door when she came out.

“What’s the price difference between keeping the room he has and the double?”

“I’ll get that exact cost for you, Kurt.” She looked through the computer system at the room availabilities and costs.”

“There are no other empty spaces in a double suite. We have quite a few openings in a double with a private bathroom. And the room that Sebastian will be vacating will be open, as well as five other singles.”

“And the price differences?”

“The double with a private bath is $750 more for the semester. Staying in the room he’s in would be $1750 more.”

“Is Headmaster Collins in today?”

“He is.”

“Does he have time to talk to Sebastian in an hour when he finishes that test?”

“I don’t think he has any appointments scheduled today. Let me go check.” She left and came back. “He can talk to Sebastian then.”

“Alright. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Kurt.”

Kurt took out the book he had brought with him and read for the next 45 minutes while Sebastian finished the exam. He came out of the room when he completed the test. He sat next to Kurt.

“I’ll be right back with your score.” She left and went back into the room.

“Bas, the headmaster has time to see you. Please consider telling him what’s happened. The school has five other empty singles. There are rarely mid-year transfers. The school would not lose money by letting you stay in your room. Let’s give it a shot, please?”

“Okay. If you come with me.”

Ms. Walters came back out with a print out. “Good job, Sebastian. You got them all correct. You’re cleared to tutor any level of French. Kurt said you’d like to see Headmaster Collins before taking a second test.”

“Yes, please.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Mr. Hummel, it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. I hope things are going better for you this school year.”

“They are remarkably better than last year, although I very much enjoyed the education I received here.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Ms. Walters said that you wished to speak with me, Sebastian?”

“Yes, Headmaster Collins.” Sebastian took a deep breath and opened up his binder and pulled out the sheet showing the receipt of goods and the sheet agreeing to pay Sebastian’s schooling costs and handed them to the headmaster.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand, Sebastian.”

“The list of goods on that sheet is everything that my father had provided me with upon my arrival in Ohio. He refused to pay my tuition at my boarding school in France for this year and demanded that I come to Ohio and attend school here, which I did. It caused me a lot of stress because I wasn’t prepared to attend a high school in America. I had to take 9 classes last semester and I am set to take 8 this semester so that I can graduate on time.”

“Sebastian, there is hardly anything on this list.” He handed the papers back to Sebastian.

Sebastian put the papers back in his binder. “Be that as it may, that is everything he had provided me and it has all be returned to him. I have the wallet and the camera that I came here with and my legal documents. Those are the only items in possession that I brought with me from France. I have no phone, no computer, no vehicle. He had held my documents so that I had no ability to work while I was here and I was unwilling to do what he asked of me to get my allowance. So, I have had no access to any cash this past semester. I bartered and traded services for things like paper, pencils, pens, and personal grooming items.”

“I’m not even going to pursue that line of questioning. We’ll just drop that subject for now. You are obviously wearing clothing now.”

“I have a new family. Kurt’s family has taken me in and I live with them now. Kurt and his family and a family friend have provided me with a week’s worth of clothing, the coat and my shoes. I have these boots, black shoes for school, and the trainers I need for using the gymnasium. Kurt’s family also gifted me this binder for my papers and a pencil holder for Christmas. They added me to their family phone plan and I got a phone this afternoon. His stepmother is getting me a laptop sometime this week so I will have a computer to use.”

“So, you have been disinherited?”

“Yes. His final agreement was to pay my school-related expenses this semester, as you saw on that second sheet. What I didn’t think to write on there was that he would allow me to keep the room I already had. He has obviously called the school and had my room assignment changed to the least expensive option.”

Kurt spoke. “I was hoping that somewhere somehow there is a fund or a scholarship or ANYTHING that you can come up with to not force Sebastian into another room.”

“I understand that this is a difficult time, Sebastian, but…”

“But you have a heart, right? You admitted me last year with four weeks left in the year. I shouldn’t have been admitted that late, but sometimes rules are bent for human reasons.”

The headmaster pulled information up on his computer. “There are five other open singles.”

“Which means that 6 people would have to enroll midyear, specifically requesting a single before the school would actually need the room Sebastian is currently in, and we all know how unlikely that is.”

“It says you’re currently assigned to room with Blaine, who is returning from McKinley to study with us again.”

“I won’t room with Blaine. I’ll stay in Lima and live with Kurt full time and attend McKinley myself before I’ll room with him.”

“There is something going on here that the two of you aren’t telling me.”

They both sat motionless.

Sebastian spoke again, “I also need this to not become public information. I only told you because it seemed like you needed to know, but I expect my personal information to be kept between the two of us,” Sebastian said. “No one here needs to know that I’ve been disowned. That will make my life harder. I don’t want to attend a third high school, but if I can’t stay here in a single and have some relative peace so that I can do well in all 8 of my classes while singing lead for the Warblers, tutoring French and maybe math, and working part time at Hummel Tires & Lube on the weekends, then I will opt to go to McKinley.”

The headmaster nodded.

“I may end up there anyway. Blaine will challenge me for lead singer and I don’t have time for that type of drama. I have college and my future to think about.”

“Why don’t you go take the second tutoring test you were going to take and I’ll consider what you’ve said.”

“Yes, sir.”

Kurt and Sebastian left the headmaster’s office.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour later, Sebastian had finished the math test. He came back and sat next to Kurt while Ms. Walters went in the room and printed out his results.

“You’ve passed the math tutoring exam as well. I’ll add your name to both lists for this semester. Once you’ve had a day or two to figure out your schedule, you’ll need to send in your availability for me to post with your name. Here’s the email address to send your availability. If your availability needs to be modified at some point, send the changes in via email.”

“Thank you.” He put the slip of paper into his binder. “I was wondering if perhaps you have a bag or sack, like from a grocery store that I could have. I’d like to go up to my room and remove my personal items.”

“I’m sure I can find one. Just give me a few minutes.” She got up from her desk and returned with a plastic grocery store bag.

“Thank you. I’ll be right back.”

Kurt continued to read while he was gone.

Sebastian came back with a stack of papers in the bag and he was carrying a single complete Dalton uniform on a hanger – the slacks were under the white button up, the sweater vest over the top, the next layer was the cardigan, with the tie around the hanger, and on top was his blazer.

Kurt picked up Sebastian’s binder and followed him to the headmaster’s office. He knocked and waited before entering.

“Sir, I’ve cleaned out my room. I’ll leave my key with Ms. Walters. If you decide that I can stay in the single, please call me. I filled out the change of address form earlier, but my cell number is the same.”

“That’s everything from your room?”

“Yes, sir. I told you I didn’t have anything. My father paid for a single uniform. I returned the other items you saw on that list to him. So, I have the notes I took last semester in this bag and my uniform.”

“Surely you came from France with other possessions?”

“Well, I still have my wallet in my pocket, my camera which is at home, and I got my father to return my legal documents.”

“You didn’t arrive naked. Where are those clothes?”

“I did arrive wearing clothing – that’s true. He told me not to bring luggage or any of my personal items from home because I wouldn’t need them – that he would provide what I needed after I got here. But after my father bought the two new outfits, he had the housekeeper remove the clothes I had worn here when she did the laundry. They weren’t name brand clothing, so I figured they weren’t high class enough to suit my father.”

“So, you came with nothing but a wallet, a camera, and the clothes on your back, which he got rid of, and all that’s left in your door room right now are textbooks?”

“Yes, sir.”

“May I ask why you have been disowned?”

“I’m gay.”

“And?”

“And nothing. You can see my grades. I’ve done well here despite how different schooling is here and the fact that I took extra classes on my own. I’ve not gotten in trouble here at school or anywhere else.”

“I see.”

“I’ll leave my key with Ms. Walters. If you decide there’s some solution to this that will allow me to stay in my single, let me know. If I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’ll withdraw. Thank you for your time, Headmaster Collins.”

Sebastian turned and walked out the door. Kurt followed him. Sebastian handed Kurt the uniform and sat his binder and the bag of papers on a chair. He pulled his key ring out of his pocket and removed the key to his dorm room and gave it to Ms. Walters.

“Before I leave, may I please have an official copy of my transcript from last semester and can you please return my transcript from France to me that you have on file?”

“Sure, Sebastian. Just have a seat, it will take me a few minutes to get it printed out and ready.”

Kurt laid the uniform neatly over the back of one of the chairs and sat down. Sebastian picked up his binder and papers and sat down as well.

“I’ll need the one from France back, if you’re going to stay enrolled here next semester.”

“I’ll bring it back, if I return. Thank you for all of your help today, Ms. Walters.”

“You’re welcome.”

Sebastian put both transcripts into his binder. Kurt grabbed his uniform and they headed out to the parking lot.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt opened the back of the Navigator and laid the uniform in the back neatly. Sebastian tied the bag shut so nothing would fall out, and put it in the back as well. Kurt shut the back. Sebastian just stood there for a minute staring off into space.

Kurt stepped toward him and hugged him briefly. “Let’s get in.”

They got in and put their seatbelts on. Kurt pulled his phone out and pulled a song up, played it and handed it to Sebastian so he could hear it better.

Sebastian listened carefully. Parts of it really stood out.

Don’t give up
You’re gonna see tomorrow
That you’ll be on your feet again
Sometimes the world’s gonna knock you over
But you will see who are your friends…

Just put one foot in front of the other
The battles are inside your mind
You have the power to face your demons
No mater how big or what kind…
Pick up your will and put on your face
If you need to, just take my hand.
It’s time to demonstrate, don’t hesitate.
Just get up and say, “Yes, I can.”

Stand, you’re gonna run again.

“Thank you.”

“Any time. I’m not a fair weather friend, Bas. I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me.”

Sebastian laughed. “You’re something else.”

“Something fabulous, right?” he teased.

“Obviously.”

“So, shall we continue with our original plan even though were are about two and half hours behind or do you want to alter the plan?”

“Let’s go ahead. I still need a duffle or small suitcase and a school bag of some sort.”

“Since we’re so much later than we had planned, we’ll just stop at the places on the way back to Lima and see if we have any luck, rather than heading into Columbus like we were going to.”

“That will work. Can I play the song again?”

“Sure.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They got back just in time to slide into the dining room for dinner. They left their purchases in the entryway after hanging their coats up. They had almost made it to the bathroom to wash their hands before they heard “Wash up, you two.” They both laughed and did as they were told. They cut through the kitchen and sat down at the table. Puck was joining them for dinner.

“So, did you get all of your errands run?” Carole asked.

“Mostly. We spent more time at Dalton than we had anticipated, so we shortened the shopping afterwards, but we found what we needed.”

“That’s good.”

“So, Finn said you’re living here now?” Puck asked.

“Yeah.” Sebastian didn’t know what else to say.

Puck didn’t push. Everyone passed the bowls of food around and focused on eating. Once they had finished, Kurt and Sebastian cleared the table and did the dishes since they hadn’t helped earlier. Once they were done, they grabbed the stuff from the entryway and headed upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Is Puck a problem? I mean will he do something to make this harder on you? You said he used to bully you.”

“I don’t think so. And this isn’t hard on me. Stop thinking that way. Let’s clean the suitcase and the satchel and the other stuff up. Once the satchel dries, we can polish it and then tomorrow we can spray it with this waterproofing stuff I have. It’s the same stuff I used on your boots when we got home the day we got them. That way the leather will stay in good condition, even if you get caught in the rain. I’ll be right back with some rags.”

Sebastian took the stuff out of the suitcase in the bathroom. He put the binders in the bathtub. Kurt came back with the rags, handed one to Sebastian who then started washing the binders.

“Those are the really expensive binders. Obviously someone dumped coffee on them and then just let it dry. In 10 minutes, they’ll be as good as new for 1/10th the price.”

“This is how everyone thinks you have so much money. You go out and rescue stuff and make it usable.”

“Pretty much. I mean have scrimped and bought high-end things that I really wanted, but mostly I fix things up and make them fabulous again.” Kurt finished cleaning the suitcase. “This will just need to dry. We can slide it under the bed with it unzipped and just leave it there. It’s clean under there. How are the binders looking?”

“Wet.”

“Such a comedian.”

“Wet and clean?”

“That’s better. Hand me one and I’ll dry it.”

Once they had finished with the binders, they moved on to the satchel, which was dry since Kurt had only used a damp rag on it.

“Do you know how to polish leather?”

“Not really.”

Kurt showed him how to do it and left him to it. “I’m going to fix the strap while you finish the polishing. Kurt pulled out his sewing stuff and got out a leather needle and button thread. He removed the broken threads, leaving enough to use to keep it from unraveling again. He had unclipped the fastener from the D-ring earlier and put it back on the end of the strap and sewed the strap back the way it originally was. It took him longer to fix the strap than it did for Sebastian to finish polishing the bag. Sebastian sat so that he could watch Kurt.

“There. Good as new.”

“Probably better. You could make money doing this.”

“I have. I did odds and ends stuff when I was at Dalton. I’d sew buttons back on, fix hems, and stuff like that. I’d charge less than the dry cleaners and they didn’t have to leave campus to get it done.”

“Industrious. That’s the word for you.”

“Thank you. My parents were big on self-reliance. I’m sure you can do this stuff.”

“Well, I’m sure I could, if I had ever had the right tools to do it.”

“That’s true. You have to have the needles and thread. I still have my uniforms. If you end up staying at Dalton, I can alter them so they’ll fit you and then you won’t have to struggle with the clothing as much.”

“How can you make the pants grow longer? I’m taller than you.”

“Well, I had grown four inches between sophomore and junior year, so when I got the pants, I hemmed them in a way that allowed me to keep the extra length. I didn’t want to have to have the expense of buying new pants if I continued to grow. I think I can let the blazer sleeves out by using hem facing. And I’m pretty sure our vests and cardigans are the same size. If you end up not going back, maybe we can sell your pieces and mine to someone at the school.”

“Good plan.”

“Let’s go use a blow dryer on the binders to make sure there’s no water left anywhere. Then you can put your notes in them and put them on the shelf.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Kurt and Sebastian headed into the garage. “The leather spray can’t be used outside when it’s this cold, but it smells awful, so we’ll do it in here before we leave.”

Kurt sprayed both sides of the bag and the strap.

“I’ll go put it in the downstairs storage room for it to dry. You can go ahead outside and warm the Navigator up.”

Sebastian nodded and went out the door on the side of the garage and got in the Navigator and turned it over. Kurt came out a few minutes later and got in, dragging Sam with him.

“Oh, good, the defroster took care of the windows. Let’s get going. You have a full day of numbers to crunch and I’m sure there’s plenty of things for me to fix when we get there.”

“I should not have stayed up late watching movies with Finn and Puck,” Sam said as he propped his head on the window trying to sleep more on the drive to the shop.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian caught on quickly and Kurt left him on his own to work after an hour. He dealt with the issues going on in the work bays and got everything going smoothly with the holiday rush of people bringing their cars in before their vacations ended.

They both stopped and ate lunch together at 1:00 after the other guys were back to work.

“So, what do you think?”

“Well, it’s not hard.”

“Do you hate it?”

“No?”

“So, you’d keep doing it?”

“Kurt, I’ve been broke for five months. Of course, I would keep doing this to avoid being in the situation I’ve been in.”

“I know that. I just mean, would you rather keep doing it or look for another job somewhere else?”

“I like this job just fine. Really. If your dad will let me do the books, I would be more than glad to take over doing them.”

“Excellent. I’ll tell him tonight,” Kurt said enthusiastically.

“Why are you so excited?”

“Because. Why not? I mean you can do something you don’t hate and not be dependent on anyone, which I know you do hate. I’m just happy for you. I want you to like being here and working here. I don’t want you to feel obligated. You can get a job somewhere else. My dad isn’t really collecting teen boys to work at his shop.”

“That was a joke.”

“I know, but I don’t want you to feel obligated to work here.”

“Listen carefully this time.” He looked Kurt straight in the eye. “I like this job just fine. I would rather do this than anything that involves retail or customer service.”

“But you’re such a charming guy,” Kurt teased. “You’d make a great waiter.”

“Funny, very funny. People who freak out because their food isn’t perfect would be very hard for me to deal with.”

“I’m teasing you. I can see why those types of people would drive you nuts.”

“Honestly, when we first met, I thought YOU were that type of person. You held yourself in this stiff, controlled way. Your clothes were perfect. Your hair was perfect. You had the ‘I’m not to be trifled with’ attitude turned up to the max.”

“Mask.”

“I figured that out when you came to the café that day.”

Sebastian’s phone rang, which made him jump since hardly anyone ever called him except Kurt.

“Hello?” He listened to the other person speaking for a few minutes.

“Yes.”

“Thank you. Really, thank you.”

Tears were running down Sebastian’s cheeks. He wiped them way and regained his composure. “I can have my single and stay at Dalton.”

“That’s great!”

“The headmaster contacted someone who created a personal scholarship just for me for this semester to cover the difference.”

“Perfect.”

Sebastian refrained from thanking Kurt again because had asked him to stop. “I need to be there Sunday by 4:00 to get my key back so I can get in my room.”

“That’s doable.”

Sebastian laughed. “That should be on your business card some day. You are the king of making things work.”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “Let’s get back to work. We’ve got two hours left before we can go home. I gotta go check on Sam and see how he’s doing.”

“At least you’re a nice taskmaster.” He imitated the sound of a whip cracking and laughed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“I wanna be ‘sick’ tomorrow too,” Sam said. “You’re a lucky duck. Why did you pick him to stay home with? I’m just as much fun,” Sam teased.

“Well, Kurt’s working tomorrow instead of going to school. I’m going with him to work too.”

“I’d rather move tires and clean tools than listen to Mrs. Gorosky go on and on about whatever it is that she’s talking about.”

“But you need to go so you can bring my assignments home.”

“Fine, fine. I’ll go to school.”

Kurt pulled up into the driveway. “Let’s get inside and make dinner. Carole’s working and we all know that all Puck and Finn did was eat everything that was already cooked.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam taught Sebastian how to make chili, while Kurt made homemade breadsticks.

“Be sure to make a bowl for me before you add the pasta, Sam.”

“Why are you putting pasta in it? When I’ve seen it at school, I never saw pasta in it.”

“The pasta is to make it more filling for the bottomless pits known as Finn and Puck. My mom put it in our chili to make it go farther. Kurt never did it, but I told him about it and we started doing it and it helps. Making the breadsticks helps too. Those two would eat a whole cow if we’d cook it for them.”

“I see. Well, I don’t need pasta in mine, so make me a bowl with no pasta too please.”

“Got it. I’ll just cook enough pasta for Finn and Puck. I’d rather have a breadstick or two than eat the pasta and skip the breadsticks. Kurt’s breadsticks are awesome.”

Once they had everything ready, they called for the other two to come eat. Puck and Finn came running up the stairs.

“Chili!” Finn announced excitedly.

“Yes, chili. Come eat,” Sam said.

“You like it when we make chili because there are no vegetables for dinner,” Kurt said.

“You got it,” Finn said as he was practically inhaling the chili. “How many of these breadsticks are mine?”

“You and Puck can duke it out for whatever’s there. We already have ours,” Sebastian said.

“Dude, you rock,” Puck said.

“I didn’t make the breadsticks. Kurt did.”

“Oh, well, you rock, Kurt. Great breadsticks. You should go down to Breadstix and show them how to do it right,” Puck said, stuffing half a breadstick in his mouth at once.

Kurt and Sam laughed. Sebastian looked confused.

“It’s a restaurant that serves mostly stale, somewhat breadstick-shaped but more like fat pencil-sized objects that are supposed to be breadsticks,” Sam explained.

“Weird, but okay.”

“It’s the ‘go to’ place for dating in Lima. Although, I’m not really sure why. We have other decent restaurants,” Kurt said.

“I can answer that one for you,” Puck said.

“Do tell.”

“The lame breadsticks are filling AND they are all you can eat. So, the dude leaves the restaurant not hungry without spending a fortune or looking like a total pig. You can eat like 20 of them and no one really pays attention.”

“I see.”

“Plus, we don’t have to really dress up,” Finn added. “They don’t really serve fancy food like things we can’t pronounce or that are made of vegetables.”

“I see the appeal now,” Kurt said laughing. “You’ve explained the mystery to me. Well, you two feel free to eat whatever you want. You’re doing the dishes though since the three of us cooked. So, if there are any leftovers, pack them up. I have some sewing to do, and I need Sebastian to do it with me because they’re his clothes that need tailored. Sam, you’re free to join as a spectator or do whatever you want on this last homework free evening for the next very long time.”

“I’m playing video games. Sorry you two. I won’t get to play much until summer. Have to have my last hurrah.”

“It’s fine. We’ll be upstairs if anyone needs us.” Kurt got up and Sebastian followed him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt took the hem out of his Dalton trousers and steamed the bottoms and then pressed them to get the fold out.

“Slip them on so I can see if they need taken up around the waist. Put your dress shoes on so I can mark where to hem them.”

Sebastian came out of the closet and then turned back. “Forgot the belt.” He slipped it on and stood in the open space.

“Is the waist okay?”

“It’s fine.”

Kurt was on his knees marking the bottom of the pants. “Alright. You can slip this pair off and put the other pairs on. I’ll mark all three separately.”

Once the pants were marked, Kurt had him put the blazer on. “I think I don’t really need a second blazer. I thought about it. I’ve gotten used to wearing the vest or cardigan more because I could wash those carefully. I usually only wear the blazer when I have to.”

“Alright. Try my shirts on and see if they’re okay.”

Sebastian slipped one on. “They fit better than my shirt does. What did you do to them?” he asked as he came out of the closet.

“Oh, yeah. I forgot. I put darts in the back so they wouldn’t be so balloon-y around the middle. I can do that to your shirt if you want.”

“Would you? This is a lot more comfortable.”

“Sure. Just grab it and put it out here with one of mine so I can do it the same way. Why don’t you run down to the storage room and grab your satchel?”

“Good idea.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Knock, knock.”

“The door isn’t even closed, Carole. Just come in.” Kurt laughed.

“You’re sewing?”

“I’m almost done. Sebastian only had one uniform. I let the hem out on my pants from last year. I never knew what to do with them, so they were still in the closet.”

“That’s a good idea. I came up to bring you this, Sebastian.” She handed him a laptop. “It’s not the newest, fastest, whatever-est model, but it works.”

“Thank you. That laptop I had was the first computer I had ever had. Having any computer will be fine. I don’t play games or anything. I mostly used it so that I could do my papers and research in my room rather than having to spend time in the computer lab.”

“Well this should work just fine for that. And you won’t need to feel indebted to anyone for it. A friend of mine at work gave it to me. I mentioned going out to get one and she said not to bother because she had her son’s old one sitting at home collecting dust while he was off to college. So, she brought it today and gave it to me.”

“Wow. That was really nice.”

“It was. She said she was glad it was going to get some use.”

“I will definitely use it.”

“Kurt, I’ll call you out of school tomorrow and Thursday, but I think you’ll have to go on Friday. There’s a basketball game Friday and I think the cheer rules are probably the same as the player rules. If you aren’t at school the day of the game or on the Friday before, you can’t play.”

“Ugh. Fine. I’ll go Friday. I wonder if I could get away with a half-day.”

“Probably not.”

“Alright. I’ll go.”

“Thanks for making dinner.”

“No problem,” Sebastian said. “I learned how to make chili. Sam taught me.”

“Excellent. Now you know how to feed the bottomless pit duo quickly and cheaply,” she laughed.

“How do they eat so much?” he asked.

“I have no earthly idea, but I think it costs the same to feed you, Kurt, and Sam as it does just to feed Finn.”

Kurt laughed. “I wouldn’t doubt it.”

“I’ll let you get back to work. I’ve got some stuff to do still before I can go to bed.”

“Good night,” Kurt said.

“Thanks again for the computer,” Sebastian said.

“You’re welcome. Hopefully, it will do what you need. At least until you can save up and get something newer if you need an upgraded model.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Don’t worry. I have another flash drive. Just copy the files from the CD to the flash drive using my computer. Then, you can transfer them from the flash drive to the new laptop. It will be fine. I’ll take any files of mine off of the flash drive, then you can just keep it.”

“I’ve never seen a laptop without a CD drive in it.”

“It’s a netbook. They’re inexpensive, mostly for school like you’ll be using it for. You can’t watch DVDs or listen to CDs on them or anything. They’re like work computers only. As long as it works, you’ll be fine. You weren’t using the fancy one you had to watch DVDs or listen to CDs or game on anyway.” He finished hemming the last pair of slacks and moved to the ironing board to iron the hems flat while Sebastian transferred the files twice. “Once you finish, or while it’s doing its thing, slip the shirt back on so I can make sure it’s okay before I iron it.”

Sebastian got up from the desk and went in the bathroom and tried the shirt and came back out and handed it to Kurt. “It’s perfect.” He changed back and sat back down at the desk waiting for the file transfer to finish. “Thank you for fixing everything for me. I’d like you to teach me at some point in time. I may never be great at it like you, but I would like to know how.”

“Sure. I’ll teach you.” Looking at the shirt, he said, “I think that’s it.” He put the shirt on a hanger and put it in the closet. “Slip the pants back on with your shoes so I can double-check that they all look right.”

Sebastian did as asked.

Once he had put all of them on, Kurt said, “They’re all good. Excellent. Now, you can just do your laundry once a week.”

“That will save me time. Ooh, I know what I want to buy.”

“What’s that?”

“Nail clippers. I saw the ones I wanted in Target one time, but they were like $10 and I couldn’t afford them. So, I bought the 69 cent ones, but they’re terrible.”

“I have several pairs. You can have one of mine if they’re the kind you want. If not, we can get some the next time we’re out.”

“Okay. I’m going to shower. It’s getting late.”

“That’s fine. I’ll put all of this stuff away while you’re in there.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They’d been lying in bed for a while when Sebastian spoke quietly. “Do you think I should let people know? I’m not ashamed that I live here now. I just don’t know how to figure this out. I don’t want my father to retaliate somehow, but I don’t want to hide anymore. I’m going to have enough money to split the cost of a pizza sometimes or to go out with the Warblers occasionally. I can have people in my room and not be concerned that they will see that my room is completely empty. I had the one uniform and two shirts in my closet and one drawer that all my other clothes were in. It was something I hid. I didn’t want to answer why I had nothing.”

“But now, you don’t have to hide. I’m glad, but you’re right that it’s a tough decision because word may spread and make things weird. I’m not sure what the right answer is. The Warblers that came here after Sectionals might be the place to start. They clearly took my side in the split. Maybe start with Jeff. He’s been the most persistent. We could invite just him here this weekend. He already knows how to get here.”

“I’ll think about it, but you’re probably right. There may be a few people I could tell that wouldn’t blab everything. I’m not out to turn into a social butterfly, but I’d like to participate more.”

“Maybe you can just start by saying ‘yes’ when Jeff asks you. Then, the more often you say ‘yes’, the more potential there will be that someone else will ask you to do something.”

“Also, an option.”

“You can think more tomorrow. Let’s try to sleep.”

“Yeah, like you ever stop thinking.”

Kurt snorted. “I’ll try, if you try.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Finn and Sam headed off to school, and a little later, Kurt and Sebastian headed off to the shop. Sebastian worked to finish up the office work and alternated between working on it and watching Kurt. Whenever he watched him, Kurt explained what he was doing and used the proper tool names and engine part names.

Once he finished up the office work completely, Kurt decided to test Sebastian’s observation and mimicking skills.

“Okay. I’m going to show you the exact steps to change the tires on this car. I want you to watch and then I want you to do the next tire. I will watch you the whole time, but say nothing until you’re done. If you do it right, we’ll move on, but if you make a mistake, I’ll take it off and show you the whole process again.”

“Alright. I’ll pay attention.”

Kurt went through the whole process. Then he gave Sebastian his turn. Kurt wasn’t surprised to see that Sebastian had done it perfectly.

“Perfect. Do the next one.”

Sebastian repeated the process with the other two tires.

“Excellent. You are really good at mimicking and remembering what to do. I think that if you wanted, you could be certified in several areas over the next few months and you could work in the shop and in the office.”

“Really? I thought it would take a long time to get certified.”

“No, you just have to know what you’re doing and take the tests. I’ve already seen that you’re good at taking tests. That’s what will slow Sam’s progress down. He’s dyslexic so the test taking will be a struggle for him.”

“That’s why he was excited about the recipe cards.” He was piecing information together.

“Yes. The day I had you help him with the cookies – he said he couldn’t read it. All of Carole’s recipe cards are written in cursive and Sam can’t figure out what they say. She took his favorite ones and printed them so he could read them more easily.”

“I get it now. I was still overwhelmed that morning that your family just welcomed me and I didn’t really think about why he needed help with the recipe.”

“I help him with his schoolwork a lot. He’s really smart and he has really good recall if I read the books to him. So, a lot of time, I just read our assigned reading out loud and he just listens.”

“And we’re back to you being nice. At least Sam doesn’t take advantage of you.”

“I’m done with that. You helped me see that being nice and being a doormat aren’t the same. I always felt guilty when I didn’t do what other people wanted. But I’ve got my head on straighter now. I’m always probably going to struggle with saying ‘no’ when someone wants me to do something. But at least now, I think about it and I ask myself whether what I am being asked is reasonable.”

“So, where is the information I need to study to take these tests that could help me get a job that pays well?”

“You can use my stuff at home.”

“So, what will you teach me next?”

“Ah, this is a review and a test.”

“Alright.”

“Oil change. We’ll drop the lift down and you’ll change the oil in this car while I watch. This time though, if you start to do something wrong I’ll stop you because obviously letting you mess this up is not like putting the tire on wrong.”

“Got it.” He stepped back and Kurt lowered the car. He opened the hood and Sebastian got started.

Kurt wasn’t surprised to see that Sebastian remembered every step and did the whole process exactly the way he had been shown. “Excellent.”

Sebastian smiled, a genuine smile all the way to his eyes that lit up. “So, what else is there to do on this car?”

“Check the spark plugs, the other fluids, the air filter, and the lights.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

In the Navigator on the way home, Kurt said, “Alright, so spill.”

“Spill what?” Sebastian looked around.

“It means tell me your secret.”

“I know what it means, I just can’t think I have any secrets you don’t already know.”

“How are you so good at mimicking and remembering what to do?”

“Oh, that. Life skill. Survival skill. I needed money. I had to get it somehow. I was 11 when I first needed a job. It’s not like there are a lot of job opportunities for 11-15 year olds when you’re supposed to be 16 to work. So, people would say, ‘If you can do this the way I want it done, I’ll pay you this much to do it.’ I paid very close attention. So, someone wanted flowers repotted an exact way, I made sure to do it exactly the way the person showed me. I would babysit. I was told to heat the bottle a certain way, make the food a certain way, put the baby to sleep a certain way at a certain time. I did exactly what I was told. Exactness was the key to getting hired by word of mouth. If I did something right, that person would tell a friend that needed a babysitter that I did a good job. The person with the plants would tell their friends that wanted nice looking balconies that I would do the plants just the right way.”

“I get it.”

“I learned to cook by watching basic cooking shows on TV. I never experimented. I didn’t have extra money to mess a recipe up. So, I would watch and buy exactly what I needed and then follow the steps exactly. I would go to the library and copy down recipes and the directions out of old cookbooks. I couldn’t afford ready-made food, but I was 11 and needed to eat.”

“That’s how I started out. I followed recipes exactly because there was no one around to show me how to do it. But I did eventually venture out and try to change things up and came up with my own improvements.”

“Which is why when we first talked about cooking, I said I could cook, but that you were probably better at it. I had to stick to basics because I could never afford to try new spices or expensive ingredients. I splurged and bought good cheese sometimes.”

“You’re amazing.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “I’m a survivor.”

“You’re an amazing survivor,” Kurt smiled at him. He stopped right in front of the mailbox.

Sebastian sighed in resignation, knowing how many times he had hassled Kurt for not knowing how to take a compliment. “Thank you.”

“Grab the mail, please.”

“Sure.” Sebastian got out and Kurt pulled forward and into the driveway. Sebastian was unlocking the front door when Kurt caught up.

They stepped inside.  

“Ooh, two things for me.”

Kurt closed the door. “Be careful with the envelopes. Just leave them unopened. We’ll go to the license branch first thing in the morning.”

They hung their coats up.

“Okay. I’ll put these with my other documents. I need to find a better place to keep those.”

“I should have offered already. There’s a small safe in my room. You can put them in there when we get back tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

Chapter Text

Sam knocked on Kurt’s open door after dinner.

“Hey Sam. Come on in.”

“I have your homework.”

“Ugh. I had hoped you’d come home without any.” Kurt got up and met Sam and took what he had in his hands.

“No such luck. I brought home the books you’d need too.”

“Thanks. I’ll get started on this.”

“You’re welcome. You’re coming Friday, right?”

“Yeah, Carole figured I had to since there’s a game Friday night.”

“Everything should be there, but if anything else gets assigned, I’ll tell you tomorrow. Have fun fixing cars all day.” Sam went back to his room to work on his homework.

“Well, I guess I know what my plans for the evening are. I know what you could do though.”

“What?”

“You could look through the CDs I have stored on my computer and put whatever you want on your phone. I have some of everything, except screamo. It makes me tense.”

“I’m sure that I’ll like a lot of it. I liked the song you played for me the other day.”

“Do you know how to sync your phone to iTunes?”

“No. I didn’t have any money to buy songs or CDs, so I’ve never used iTunes.”

Kurt showed him how to do it.

“Got it.”

“Of course you do.” Kurt smiled at him.   “I’ll be over here slogging through whatever this is.”

“This is our last semester of high school. You can do it.”

“I’m sorry you’re going to have to deal with Blaine.”

“Me too. It will be a struggle, but hopefully I’ll come out victorious. Regionals is in 8 weeks. We’ll just have to see what happens. I’m pretty sure that even the Warblers who worship the ground he walks on wouldn’t continue to if they knew what he did. It’s not my place to tell them, but it burns me that he’s going to waltz in and try to charm his way into taking my spot.”

“At least you don’t have to room with him.”

“That was NOT going to happen. He’s going to hit on me every day and it’s all my fault. Paying attention to him was a bad choice.”

“I can make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Seriously? How?”

“I’ll take care of it Sunday. I promise.”

“Okay?”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sebastian went to work again on Thursday, while Sam and Finn went to school. Friday, Sebastian stayed home while the other three went to school. Carole was off though, so she took Sebastian out with her to do the weekly shopping for part of the day. When they got back, he unloaded her car and helped her put the groceries away.

He cleaned the house, constantly keeping himself busy.

“Sweetie, relax. You don’t have to do everyone’s chores.”

“I’m not good at relaxing.”

“I imagine not. But you’re never too old to learn.”

Sebastian laughed. “I suppose not. I need something to do while I relax. At least to start with. I can’t just do nothing.”

“Fine. Let’s see. Sudoku. We’ll start with that.” She got out one of her sudoku magazines and showed him how to do it. She left him sitting at the dining table working on one. She came back 15 minutes later.

He showed her that he had completed three.

“Alright, well, clearly that isn’t going to work.” She laughed.

“Did I do something wrong?”

“Oh, no, sweetie. You just completed three in less time than most people can finish one. Too much brain power.”

“Oh, but it is relaxing because if I focus on the puzzle hard enough to complete it quickly, then I don’t have time to think about anything else. And that IS the point of relaxing, right?”

“I suppose so. You could take up knitting or crocheting. Kurt knows how. He could teach you.”

He just realized. “He made my scarf, didn’t he?”

“Of course, sweetie. I thought you knew.”

“He said he noticed I didn’t have a scarf or gloves. I just thought he bought both of them.”

“He started making the scarf a couple of week before Christmas. The gloves he bought. He makes mittens, but those are more for fun. ”

“I see.”

“You can take the magazine upstairs if you want. I have several of them stashed around the house.”

“Thanks.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian startled a bit when Kurt came into the room and plopped into his chair.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you jump.”

“It’s fine.” Sebastian pulled his earbuds out and turned the music off on his phone. “I was just listening to music.”

Kurt noticed the sudoku book on the bed. “It looks like Carole is trying to get you to find a hobby?”

Sebastian laughed. “Yeah. She obviously doesn’t approve of my vacuuming and dusting hobby. Too productive. I was told to relax.”

“I see.”

“Too bad your handwriting doesn’t look like mine. You could do my pre-calculus for me.”

“Do you need help?”

“No, I just don’t want to do it.”

“Oh. Did you get in trouble for skipping the past two days?”

“No. I turned in everything, so I’m not behind. Today was the first day Glee met, so I didn’t miss out on anything. Everyone was surprised to see that Blaine wasn’t there. Mr. Schue told everyone that he had transferred back to Dalton. At that point, people who never did realize that we had broken up must have figured it out and I got questioned.”

“You’re not still in love with him are you?”

“No. I learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I don’t have to settle. I can find someone who genuinely cares about me more than getting ahead. If we had stayed together, it would have only gotten worse. He’s too focused on himself. I know he will challenge you to get the lead singer position back. All I can say is that you’re a better dancer. Be sure to include that in whatever way you can when he challenges you. The Warblers clearly found your leadership acceptable. He’s going to have to prove why he’s better. Perhaps that should be added to the challenge process. It can’t just be a popularity vote. Maybe each vote should be cast by ballot and two or three reasons why the person casting the vote made the choice they did, with the council having the final say. And if the people who vote for him can’t give two or three reasons why he’s actually better, then maybe they could not weigh that vote as heavily. I’m not sure. I just wish he had gone somewhere else. Somewhere where I didn’t have to see him, but somewhere where you didn’t have to deal with him either.”

“At least with the single I can make sure that he has zero access to my personal space. That’s why I wouldn’t accept placement in one of the doubles at all. I figured if I got placed in a room with one of his fanboys, that I’d be subjected to having him in my personal space all the time.”

“Speaking of personal space, we are going shopping tomorrow.”

“I don’t need anything else. I already have everything, don’t I?”

“Nope, not yet, but it’s a surprise.”

“Okay.”

“I have to do at least some of this homework before I get ready for the game. You know you don’t have to come if you don’t want to. I know you’re not a big basketball fan.”

“You and Sam are my friends. So, of course, I’m going.”

“Okay. Don’t worry about Blaine bothering you other than challenging you for lead singer. I really will take care of that.”

“Alright. I already believed you. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I believe you.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Saturday morning, Kurt got up really early and was super quiet and finished all of his homework before Sebastian woke up.

“Kurt?” Sebastian said when he realized that Kurt wasn’t in the bed with him.

“I’m over here sitting at the vanity.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Get ready, we’re going out.”

“Out this early?”

“Yes, to have fun. I have a surprise for you, but I need a few things to finish it. We’re going shopping.”

“Okay. I’ll be quick.” Sebastian got dressed and ready to go.

Kurt put his schoolbooks away and put his boots on. They grabbed their coats, got in the Navigator and headed toward Sam’s Club.

“What are we shopping for?”

“First we have to pick something up.”

“You’re not going to tell me are you?”

“That’s pretty much the way surprises work, Bas.”

They pulled into the Sam’s parking lot. Kurt grabbed a cardboard tube out of the backseat before he locked the Navigator. When they got to the entrance, Kurt showed his pass and they went inside.

“So, I may have borrowed something of yours without your permission, but I think you’ll like it.”

Kurt walked directly to the photo processing area. He gave his name to the clerk who brought two poster-sized prints to the register. They were rolled neatly so they wouldn’t get creases in them.

“Let’s see how they turned out. Help me unroll them.”

Kurt and Sebastian carefully unrolled the first one.

“Oh, my God, Kurt. They’re my photos from France.” Sebastian rolled his end back up quickly.

“Do you not like it?”

“Quite the opposite. I love it. I was afraid I’d get tears on the poster.”

“Do you want to see the other one or do you want to wait?”

“Just give me a minute.” He wiped his eyes and then wiped his hands on his jeans. “Okay.” He helped Kurt unroll the other one. “It’s perfect.” He helped roll it back up.

Kurt paid for them and put them in the cardboard tube he had brought inside.

They headed over to the snack bar and grabbed a breakfast burrito for Sebastian since he had left the house without eating. After he finished eating, they went back to the Navigator.

“So, now we’re headed to Goodwill to find two poster frames. I already have the wire and stuff at home to use on them so that you can hang them in your dorm room tomorrow. The long one can go on the screw in the wall at the head of the bed. And the wide one can hang over your desk.”

“Am I allowed to say ‘thank you’?”

“Of course, you silly. And you’re welcome. I didn’t mean to limit what you can say. You can say or tell me anything you want. I just didn’t want you to continue to feel like you had to keep saying it for normal stuff, like feeding you and you living with us.”

“Those things don’t feel ‘normal’ to me. For me those things are extraordinary.”

“I’m sorry I made you feel like you couldn’t say how you felt. I won’t do that anymore.”

“Well, I love the posters.”

They pulled into the Goodwill lot and Kurt parked.

“Good. Let’s go inside and look for frames. They don’t have to be the same color or even necessarily the same style. I have black paint at home we’re going to paint them with when we get back.”

“Okay.”

They looked through the selection and found two frames that looked serviceable for $4 each. They looked around some more just for fun.

“Ooh. Do you like those?” Kurt pointed to some red pillows up on the top shelf.

Sebastian laughed.

“They’d go with the décor. Let’s see if they’re washable.” Kurt pulled them down and looked at them. “What do you think? They’re soft.”

“Sure, if they’re not too expensive.”

“$3 each.”

“That’s good. Let’s see if they have any of those chairs like we got for our room. I could use it and fold it up to get it out of the way when I’m not using it.”

They looked around through the furniture, but didn’t find one.

“We can stop at another store and see if we can find one. We could even go back out later this afternoon, but I want to get the frames painted this morning, so they’ll be dry before we go to bed so we can put the posters in.”

“Good plan.”

“Have you decided what you want to do about telling people about moving?”

“I figure that I’ll just deal with whatever happens. I thought I could get away with just telling a few people over time, ones that I end up spending time with, but since Blaine is going to be back, I’m sure that a lot of people will already know. He doesn’t strike me as the ‘keep juicy gossip to himself’ type. I already know that I can make it through a whole semester with very little interaction. If that’s what happens, then it happens. I’m not going to hide it or flaunt it. Whatever he knows would have originally come from Puck or Finn. And neither of them knows that I was disowned. They just know that I’m not living with my father anymore.”

“That’s true. My dad and Carole have never talked about why you moved in. And unless you told Sam, he doesn’t know the specifics either. He knows you and your father don’t get along, but that’s it as far as I know. He was gone when we went out shopping with Hiram and all that stuff. He doesn’t know that you left what you had behind and got new stuff. He’s not big into fashion, so he won’t think about how your jeans are different or notice that you’re wearing a different brand of pea coat than you had before.”

“I didn’t tell him anything. He thinks I’m working for pay at the shop, just like him as far as I know.”

“Well, he and Blaine don’t speak, and he doesn’t spread rumors or tell people’s secrets anyway.”

“Why does he not speak to Blaine?”

“He knows.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“I told him when he came back. He figured out in one afternoon of Glee Club that I had broken up with Blaine.”

“Enough talk about Blaine. I have to face him every day starting tomorrow. Maybe I’ll talk to Sam about his self-restraint techniques. Sam is very protective of you. How did he go to school every day and see Blaine and refrain from punching his lights out for what he did to you?”

“I asked him not to. Please don’t retaliate on my behalf, Bas.”

“I’ll do my best.” He let out a heavy sigh.

“Thank you.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Good morning, boys. You went out early this morning.”

“I had some things I wanted to get. We’re doing a project.”

“I figured as much. You have Goodwill bags and two large frames.” She laughed.

“We’ll be upstairs, if you need us.”

They walked through the living room toward the stairs.

“I’ll be right up. I’m going to get some newspaper first. Oh, wait. Toss those pillows into the washer before you go up.”

“Okay.”

Kurt came back from the garage at the same time as Sebastian came out of the laundry room. They headed up the stairs.

“Help me spread the newspaper out so we don’t get paint on the floor. I’ll put the eye screws on the backs while you do that.” Kurt put the frames face down on the newspaper. “The paint and paintbrushes are on the vanity, but we need to change first.” Kurt opened the dresser and took out two old t-shirts and some old sweats. He handed a set of clothes to Sebastian and then headed into the bathroom. Sebastian changed in the closet.

“Alright. We’ll paint the backs first since we’ll just put one coat in the back.” Kurt put the paint in between the two frames and they both got to work. Once they were done, Kurt said, “Let’s go eat lunch.”

“Sounds good.”

“This paint dries really quickly. We can probably flip them over in an hour. Let’s move the pillows to the dryer and make something to eat.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They went into the kitchen to find that Carole had cooked for them while they were upstairs painting.

“You didn’t have to cook for us,” Kurt said.

“I know, but I wanted to.”

“Thank you,” Sebastian said.

“You’re welcome, sweetie. So, what’s the project?”

They sat down at the dining room table and ate together.

“We’re decorating my dorm room,” Sebastian said. “Kurt was sneaky and took some of the photos I had taken in France and had them printed poster sized. One has 16 vertical shots and the other has 16 horizontal shots. He had them printed on a black background with white borders, so it sort of has this windowpane effect. They’re really cool. I love them. You can come see when we get them framed. We’re working on painting the frames.”

“That sounds really lovely. I’d love to see them. I’ve never been very far from Ohio.”

“I’ve not been many places either. I’ve always wanted to travel around France some day. I love Paris, but there are so many really cool places like castles that I’ve only ever seen pictures of.”

“I’ve seen some photos of castles and I always thought it would be so cool to go to one for real.”

“Maybe some day,” Sebastian said.

She nodded.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sebastian put a coat of paint on the fronts of the frames when they got back upstairs.

“So, I say we go back out later and look for a chair. Maybe we can go out for dinner. We’ll take Sam too, if he wants to go - a last fun night out before you have to go back to school.”

“Sounds good.”

Kurt texted Sam. Almost instantly his phone buzzed. “Sam’s in.”

“Alright.”

“I’m going to cut the wire. That way I can put all of the tools away while we wait for them to dry.”

“I’ll go ahead and start to pack. I’ll do laundry once we come back tonight. Maybe we can find another couple pairs of pajama pants while we’re out.”

Kurt went to put the tools away. He had the pillows in his hand when he came back upstairs. “They got left in the dryer.”

“Thanks. They really are soft. My room is going to look so cool. I’ve never had anything in my room before.”

“Well, now you will.”

“I won’t feel like I have to hide anymore.”

“Good.”

Sebastian pulled all of his clothes out and folded them and put them in his suitcase.

“I think we can go ahead and do the touch up coat. The first coat seems to be dry and actually looks pretty good.”

Sebastian moved so he could see the frames better. “They look fine to me the way they are, but we can touch up whatever you think needs done.”

They worked to finish the project. Kurt was in the bathroom cleaning the brushes when Sam came in.

“Knock, knock.”

“Sam, you can see me standing here. Just come in,” Sebastian said.

“Ooh, nice frames.”

Kurt came out of the bathroom. “They’re for Bas’ dorm room. I got some of his photos printed. You can see when we come back.”

“I have a question,” Sebastian said. “Can I photocopy the painting you did of us at Christmas? I’d like to put that in my room too.”

“Sure,” Sam said.

“Thanks.” He turned and took the painting off the wall and laid it on the bed. He took a few of his other photos down and put them on the bed and took the photos out and laid them with the painting. “I’d like to go back to Sam’s and copy these so I can put them in my room too.”

“Okay. Let’s change.” Kurt and Sebastian went opposite directions and changed back into the clothes they had been wearing earlier.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Four hours later they were back. Sebastian returned the original photos to their frames and put them back on the shelf. He hung Sam’s painting back on the wall.

“Can you get that cover off the chair, Sam?”

“Sure. At least I think so.”

“I’m going to go get the glass cleaner, some paper towels, and more newspaper,” Kurt said.

Sebastian slipped back into the closet to put the work clothes on that he had been wearing and then he took his laundry down and put it in to wash. He took the seat cover with him.

When he got back upstairs, Kurt had gotten the plexiglass on the poster frames clean.

“Alright. Are we ready for assembly? Three people will be even better than two.”

“Sure,” Sam said. “Just tell me what to do.”

“Sebastian and I will unroll the poster and hold it in the frame in position. Then you take the backing and lay it on top. We’ll fasten it in after that and I’ll put the wire on that I cut earlier.”

“Good plan,” Sam said.

They all did their jobs and 10 minutes later both posters were framed.

“Are you ready for the reveal?”

Sam laughed. “Of course.”

Kurt and Sebastian each picked up one of the frames and held it up.

“Oooh. Those are nice. I love the windowpane effect. Very cool.”

“Let’s wrap them in newspaper. We can put the bulletin board we got in between them once they’re wrapped.”

“We can’t do that yet,” Kurt said. “We told Carole we’d let her see.”

“That’s right,” Sebastian replied. “I’ll go find her.”

“We still have to get the painting print into its frame. I’ll do that.” Kurt took the glass out of the frame and cleaned it.

Sam got the copy out of the sack and put it in and closed the back. “It needs wire like the poster frames.”

“I’ll go get it,” Kurt said.

Sebastian moved his clothes to the dryer before went to find Carole. When he got back upstairs, Kurt had finished.

“Alright, boys. Let me see,” Carole said as she followed Sebastian into the room.

They did their reveal again. Carole walked over to the posters and looked at each photo.

“These are really lovely. I like the whole design too. Nice job.”

“Thanks,” Kurt and Sebastian said in unison.

Carole went back downstairs.

“Now, we can wrap them in newspaper,” Kurt said.

“Let’s wrap the painting print up too. It can just go in my satchel. Just wrap the photos I printed inside the newspaper with the frame. I’m going to put them on the bulletin board.”

Sam wrapped it while Kurt and Sebastian wrapped the poster frames.

“Well, dudes this has been fun, but I promised Finn I’d play COD at 9:00.”

“Have fun shooting things,” Kurt said.

“I will.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian looked at his phone and panicked. “Kurt,” he tried to wake him gently. “Kurt you’re going to miss your lessons.”

“I cancelled them earlier this week. I wanted to stay home this morning.”

“Why?”

“I just did.”

“Alright. I’ll let you sleep.”

“I was going to get up at 6:30 anyway.”

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“I’m going back to sleep.”

“Okay.” Kurt got up and went downstairs. He made French toast and bacon for Sebastian, turkey sausage for himself, eggs, orange juice and coffee. Once it was ready, he went upstairs and got Sebastian. “Hey, sleepyhead. I made us breakfast. Come on.”

“Mmm. Okay.” He sat up, stretched, and got out of the bed.

He followed Kurt back down to the kitchen. Kurt had covered their plates with a second plate turned upside down to keep the food warm. Sebastian picked up the second plate and slipped it underneath.

“This look fabulous. Thank you. You didn’t need to go to so much trouble.”

“Bas, look at me.” He waited for Sebastian to look. “I cook for the people I care about. You aren’t any trouble. And you’re welcome.”

Sebastian put syrup on his French toast and ate every bite of food on his plate. “Fantastic, as always.” He got up and took all of the plates and put them in the dishwasher. “This is a great invention. I love dishwashers.”

Kurt laughed. “They’ve been around since like decades ago.”

“Yeah, but I never had one. I think Americans totally overestimate the size of flats in Paris. Those Ikea catalogs with all of the storage that can fit along a wall and the photos of bathrooms half the size of yours - that’s all normal. The flat I lived in was maybe 33 sq m.”

“I don’t know how big that is.” Kurt took out his phone and used a converter. “Oh, wow. That’s only around 350 sq ft. That’s tiny.”

“So, my room is smaller than my single dorm room. My mother’s room is about the same size as my dorm room, so is the living room. Then the kitchen and bathroom take up the rest of the space. We did not have a full size refrigerator like this or a full size stove. No room for a dishwasher or washing machine.”

“I see. This house is a lot bigger than the last house my dad and I lived in. It had one bedroom on the main level and a kitchen and a living room. My dad had a garage and basement put on as an addition when I was three or four, whenever I got big enough to not sleep in the crib in their room anymore. Then my bedroom was in the basement. It was concrete block walls, but he did have a bathroom put in down there. I had a lot of space to move around. My room here is smaller, but there’s a lot more room overall.”

When Sebastian finished the dishes, he asked, “You want to go back upstairs and read?”

“Sure.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They headed to Dalton at 2:00, since Sebastian had been told to arrive before 4:00 to retrieve his room key.

They brought everything up from the Navigator. They hung up the posters and added the rest of the decorative items.

“So, what do you think?” Kurt asked as he plopped down in Sebastian’s desk chair looking around his dorm room.

“I think it looks fantastic. I love the posters. The chair looks great. So do the pillows. The bulletin board is cool. I like it. A lot.”

“Good. I’m glad.”

“I’ll be back in a little bit. You can unpack or whatever you want.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt called Blaine. “Blaine?”

“Kurt?” Blaine asked, confused. “I didn’t expect to hear from you.”

“I suppose not, but I’m here at Dalton. I need to speak with you in private. Please meet me in the study room on the 3rd floor. I doubt there’s anyone in there.”

“Alright.” Blaine went to the study room.

Kurt checked around and the room was empty. He waited for Blaine to arrive. After he did, Kurt closed the door behind them and put a chair in front of it, and sat down in the chair, making it impossible to open the door from the hallway.

Blaine gave him a weird look.

“I don’t want interrupted.” Kurt pointed to another chair. “Sit, please.”

Blaine sat down.

“First of all, I want to thank you for leaving me alone at McKinley after we broke up. I was pleasantly surprised that you didn’t try to badmouth Sebastian, at least not to my face. I really appreciate you not causing more division in the group than already existed. I know that you made friends with Rachel and Artie and some other people.”

“She was upset with me because I didn’t tell her that I was transferring back here for spring semester. But eventually she got over it and we’re still friends.”

“You tried to transfer back right after the musical, didn’t you?”

He nodded.

“You weren’t allowed to because there were no compelling reasons to transfer mid-semester.”

“Correct.”

“So, you already knew you were coming back here and you didn’t want to end up on the receiving end of a punch from Finn if he found out what you had done. He may not be my biggest fan, but my dad let him have it the last time he didn’t defend me from someone who was hurting me. If you had gotten suspended for fighting, you could have jeopardized your ability to come back here for this semester.”

“I just wanted the semester to end as quickly as possible. I had to wait until the beginning of the spring semester to re-enroll. I just tried to keep my head down and mind my own business.”

“Well, as self-centered as your reasons were, I do appreciate the lack of drama.”

“I just want to go back being a Warbler and my life here.”

“You need to remember that Sebastian is the chosen lead singer of the Warblers right now. He rightfully won that position through audition, just like I’m assuming you did last year.”

“Yeah, I know. He’s a charmer. He’s smooth and a good dancer, but I still want my position back.”

“And if you want to regain that position, you’ll have to challenge him and play by the rules. Do not use your fanboys to boost your voting. You need to stay honest. I was at their Sectionals performance. They are better than we were last year. With Wes gone, the group has been able to step outside the box more and perform more. Sebastian has them dancing much better than we ever did last year.”

“I’ve seen the video.”

“You have a huge need to be the center of attention. Something I think you might actually want to seek some counseling about. You’re good. There’s no denying that. But you alienate people who don’t put you on the pedestal you think you deserve. Or you charm your way up to the top.”

“That’s harsh.”

“But honest, from my perspective. Last year, when I accused you of treating the Warblers like it was ‘Blaine and the Pips’, you convinced the council to let me sing with you. I was so head over heels for you and I wanted to sing lead so badly that I let myself get pulled back into your fanboy group. I was getting fed up with your showboating, so you offered to share the spotlight. When you thought I might leave you and stop being your number one fan, you offered me something.”

Blaine didn’t say anything.

“Think about your reaction to Sam’s suggestions when he came back. You got all bent out of shape because he was suggesting that we be sexy. Last year, you had us learn ‘Animal’ and perform for the girls at Crawford County Day so we could see if we were ‘sexified’, I believe was the term you used. So, when it was Sam’s idea it was horrible and making us act like we were ‘for sale’, but when it was your idea, it was a good one.”

“He was doing moves he had learned as a stripper. That’s different.”

“Tom-a-to, to-mah-to. Using sexy moves to win. Same difference. Plus, he wasn’t exactly a stripper. He just danced in the equivalent of very short swim trunks or boxer briefs. He wasn’t naked. Plus, he wasn’t doing anything illegal. He was already 18. You acted like he was being a pervert. Exotic dancers are not perverts. It was awfully judgmental of you considering your interest in porn, which is people being paid to have sex and video record it. Being paid to dance in your underwear is a lot less risqué than being a porn star.”

“Let’s not talk about porn, since I know how much you dislike talking about sex.”

“Well, mostly I didn’t want to talk about how unsexy I was. It was just another lesson in how unattractive I was. It wasn’t like I needed you to tell me that. I was already aware of my lack of physical attractiveness. It was humiliating. I’m not sexy. I already know that. I mean you had to get drunk to even consider doing more than chastely kiss me. Back when you offered to tell me what you knew, I already knew the whole insert tab A into slot B part of it. I’m not stupid. It’s not like I had never looked the information up. I just didn’t want to talk about it with someone who found me so unattractive. If you’ll remember that was right after you agreed to go on a date with Rachel and had friend-zoned me.”

“Right,” Blaine answered nonchalantly.

Kurt was getting frustrated with Blaine seeming refusal to take responsibility for any of his actions. “When I left to go back to McKinley, you got the Warblers to back you up and you serenaded me. When you came to enroll at McKinley, somehow the Cheerios ended up being your back up. Both times, though, the spotlight was on you. You knew how badly I needed Tony. You knew that I couldn’t spend my summer working at a theme park part time making minimum wage and gaining experience because I needed the money I could make working at my dad’s shop full time. I have to work afterschool, making it hard to be in many clubs, even if I was welcome. I work too late to even try to be in a local production, something you could easily have done.”

“I wanted to be part of what was going on at school.”

“Which you could have done just as easily by joining another club like the drama club or anything. You didn’t have to take the role I needed, especially after you told me that you wouldn’t.”

“I know.”

“There. That’s the issue. That’s why I think you need to go to counseling. You seem to be incapable of actually apologizing. Never once when we talked that night on the stage did you ever actually say you were sorry. You see yourself as the one person who should be in the spotlight, and when you hurt people, you don’t even apologize. What you did to me borders on criminal. If I hadn’t gotten away, it would have been for sure. And still, nearly three months later, you just act like you didn’t do anything to apologize for.”

“I don’t know what to say, Kurt. I already told you I wouldn’t drink anymore.”

“Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to stay away from Sebastian. I know you’ll both be in the Warblers, but you are going to stay away from him otherwise. Do not attempt to pair up with him for class projects. Do not hit on him. Do not interact with him.”

“Why does he matter to you?”

“He matters because he’s a human being and he matters to me because he’s my friend.”

“Puck said he was living with you, but I thought he was just making stuff up to rattle my chain since we weren’t together anymore.”

“You need to consider counseling. I know the school has a counselor. A real one, who’s licensed.”

“Fine. Are we done?”

“Are you going to stay away from Sebastian and play fair when it comes to challenging him for lead Warbler?”

“There’s a vote. That makes it fair.”

“Don’t bother Sebastian. Leave him alone.”

“I already said that I would.”

“Your word doesn’t mean much to me these days, but I’m serious.” Kurt got up and moved the chair and headed back to Sebastian’s room.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt knocked on Sebastian’s door. He opened it and let Kurt in.

“I’ve dealt with Blaine. Who all is on the council this year?”

“David, Thad, and Trent.”

“We’re eating with them tonight. Let’s go find them.”

“Okay. I was going to give you the tour.”

Kurt’s expression changed from determined to excited. “Well, by all means, show me.”

Sebastian showed Kurt that he had hung his clothes in the closet, put his other items in the drawers, put his binders on the shelves, his computer on his desk, and all of his hygiene products in the bathroom.

“It’s perfect,” Kurt said.

“I agree. Let’s go eat.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Hey, Kurt!” Trent said as Kurt found him in the cafeteria.

“Hey, Trent. I’d like to eat with you and Thad and David, if you can find them.”

“Sure. I’ll go look for them and we’ll sit over by the window.”

Kurt and Sebastian went through the line and found Trent. David and Thad joined them. They had mostly finished eating already, but brought their trays and sat down.

“Hey, guys! Thanks for sitting with us.”

“No problem. If Jeff and Nick see you in here, I’m sure they’ll be over too,” Thad said.

“So, Blaine is back,” Kurt said.

“What?” David asked.

“Blaine re-enrolled. He is going to challenge Sebastian for lead Warbler. I would like to make a suggestion to the council as a former insider and current outsider. Nepotism in prep schools is huge. The whole ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ is why half of the parents send their kids to these types of schools. To keep the money centralized. To keep the power that the money brings centralized. And the other issue at hand is just a straight-up popularity contest, which is common in all high schools. We’ve had supposed duet competitions in the New Directions where each person had to participate and in the secret ballot afterwards, the winning couple won by two votes. One couple voted for someone besides themselves swaying and deciding the whole election.”

The others laughed. “You shouldn’t be able to vote for yourself,” Trent said.

“Exactly. I’m suggesting that when it comes to Sebastian versus Blaine that you assign a song to sing that is in a range they can both comfortably sing. After they each perform, that’s when people vote. But rather than having the two of them leave the room and voting by a show of hands, I suggest that you hand out ballots and you require each voter to indicate two reasons why the person they chose should be selected. Then collect up the votes and give the results the next day.”

“Why the next day?” David asked.

“Because then the three of you can actually read each of the slips. Slips from people who cannot justify their choice, should go in a third pile. See how many votes each person gets that have legitimate reasons. ‘He did a better job.’ is not a legitimate reason, whereas ‘He stayed on pitch.’ would be.”

“I get it,” Thad said.

“Blaine has a lot of fanboys here. But the honest truth is that you are better as a group now than we were last year. Your dance moves are vastly improved and to be honest, Sebastian is a better lead. He is charming and fun to watch, but he stays back close enough to the group and he dances along with the group, which shows that he feels like the leader of the group rather than a soloist with a vocal band for backup.”

“This won’t help the New Directions,” Trent pointed out.

“I realize that. But it’s the truth. If you three let Blaine come in and plow his way back to the forefront and shove the rest of the Warblers back into the ‘Blaine and the Pips’ era, it will not help you win. Obviously, I have no power or say-so here, but I’m saying what I’m saying because it’s true. You sat at my house not that long ago and bemoaned the fact that the council didn’t listen to me when I had ideas when I was here before. Just think about what I’ve said. Watch the video from Sectionals this year and last year. Compare the two. You’ll see that I’m right.”

“We know you’re right,” David said. “The issue is more a matter of procedure.”

“Well, then someone needs to dig deep into the rules and regulations and perhaps you can find something that will be useful to make this a fair situation.”

“What happened between the two of you?” Trent asked quietly. “You were the de facto president of the Blaine fanboy club last year.”

Kurt took a deep breath. “I learned that his aspirations for the limelight supersede his ability to keep his word. I also learned that he is incapable of admitting he was wrong and apologizing.”

“Wow,” Trent said. “I’m shocked at the honor issue. I mean that’s one thing that’s drilled into our heads around here. A lot of people are terrible at apologizing. It’s humiliating, so that’s less shocking, I guess.”

“You’re probably right about the apologizing. People in positions of power tend to apologize by saying things like ‘I’m sorry you got hurt.’ As opposed to saying ‘I’m sorry I hurt you.’ Taking responsibility for our actions proves that we’ve grown past being children though. Children blame shift. ‘My sister told me to do it.’ type of thing. Adults are supposed to be able to say ‘I made the wrong choice.’ And then learn from their mistakes. As long as someone keeps blaming other people, that person never has to face the consequences of their own actions.”

“I never really thought about it,” David said. “But what you’re saying makes sense. People in positions of power do like to pass the buck and blame someone lower than them to save face. But it is pretty childish when you think about it.”

Jeff and Nick walked up. “Hey, now. How come the four of you are hogging my favorite Warbler?” Jeff asked and scooted in next to Kurt.

“I thought I was your favorite Warbler,” Nick said. “He’s not even a current Warbler.”

“That’s because we were dumb and didn’t just pay his tuition for the second half of the spring semester last year,” Jeff said. “Between the 15 of us, we could have come up with it, easily.” Jeff put his arm around Kurt’s shoulders. “It’s our own fault that he left.”

The five of them that had been sitting there laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Jeff asked.

“Oh, we were just talking about personal responsibility and passing the buck and you came over sat down and straight up said that we had the ability to keep Kurt here and we blew it,” Trent said.

“Ah. Well, it’s true,” Jeff responded. “We let Wes and his gavel run the show when we could have outvoted him and listened to Kurt.” Jeff looked at David and Thad. “And there’s no one to blame but Wes and the two of you for that travesty of a duet that he and Blaine did at Regionals. A break up song about being alright about being alone sung as a duet by two boys in Ohio in a key that strained Blaine’s voice? And on top of that, we practically just stood there while they sang. There was not a chance we were going to beat the New Directions with that.”

“Blaine’s back,” Trent said.

“Oh,” Jeff said. “So, he’s going to try to take over again.”

“That’s what I’m figuring,” Kurt said.

“Just when we were finally doing well,” Nick said.

“Well, I won’t go down without a fight,” Sebastian said. “But I won’t be antagonistic if he wins. I may choose not to participate any longer though. It just depends. I sing and dance because I love it. And if it becomes a stressor in my life, then it will have to go because I want to at least attempt to get on the lacrosse team and I have to continue to do well in my classes.”

“I get it. I think most of us are in the Warblers because it’s something we can do that’s actually fun, and since it’s a prestigious club to be in here at Dalton, our parents don’t mind us being a part of it,” Thad said.

“Well, it was nice to see you again, Kurt. I’m going to go back upstairs and unpack,” David said.

“Me too. Don’t be a stranger, but no spying,” Thad said, laughing.

“I don’t need to spy to know that if Sebastian stays lead Warbler that we have our work cut out for us,” Kurt said.

The remaining five of them ate and talked for a while.

Trent was the first to get up. “It was good to see you, Kurt. Come back and see us more often.”

“I’ll do that,” Kurt said.

“So, do you two want to come up to my room with me and Kurt for a while before he has to head back to Lima?”

“Sure,” Jeff said.

Nick nodded.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt sat in Sebastian’s desk chair. Sebastian was in the moon chair. Nick and Jeff were sitting on Sebastian’s bed.

“What made you invite us in?” Jeff asked. “Last semester, I tried and tried and you kept me at bay, only occasionally agreeing to do anything with us.”

“There was a reason for that. I’m still debating whether to tell you.”

“Oh.”

“First, I want to ask you a few questions.”

“Um, okay,” Nick said.

“Do either of you know who my father is?”

“Mr. Smythe?” Jeff guessed.

“That would be my guess too since that’s your last name.”

“What do your dads do?”

Jeff answered first. “My dad is an orthopedic surgeon in Cleveland.”

“My dad is in practice with his dad. He’s a hand surgeon,” Nick said.

“So you two aren’t even from the Columbus area?”

“Nope,” Jeff said. “We went to a private middle school in Cleveland before we came here for high school. Why?”

“Well, sort of that nepotism thing that Kurt was talking about. I didn’t want to put the two of you in a position of knowing something that could cause issues between families. But I’m pretty certain that’s not the case with the two of you since your fathers aren’t politicians or lawyers.”

“I’m lost,” Nick said.

“I wouldn’t let anyone in here last semester or let anyone get close to me because my father was blackmailing me to do what he wanted, only I refused. So, last semester I had nothing in here that wasn’t Dalton issued other than 2 day’s worth of clothes and pajamas. I had one uniform. Nothing else.”

“What?” Jeff asked. “Wait. So, you wouldn’t hang out with us because you didn’t want us to find out that you didn’t have anything?”

“Exactly. I had to barter with people to even get some basic school supplies.”

“But you had an expensive satchel and a brand new, top of the line MacBook,” Nick said.

“Yes, for show. Anything that could be seen had to fit his image. The fact that I had nothing else was supposed to bring me to my senses and do what he wanted. He didn’t want to be publicly humiliated, but he wanted me to have no recourse other than to do what he wanted.”

“And so you gave in?” Nick asked.

“No, he told him to shove it,” Jeff said. “Kurt’s here with him. He was at Kurt’s after their Sectionals in regular clothes. He didn’t show up representing the Warblers openly spying on the New Directions. He was there as Kurt’s friend.”

“Jeff’s right. I cut my ties. I’ve been disowned. He’s paying for this semester because it was part of his agreement with my mother.”

“So, you gave up your what? Everything?” Nick asked.

“Yes. What he wanted is never going to happen. Not now or in the future. So, I cut my ties. Kurt’s family took me in. I live with them in Lima now.”

“Wow. That takes guts,” Nick said.

“Yes and no. Kurt’s family has been more of a family to me in the two weeks that I’ve lived with them than either of my parents have been my entire life. Choosing to go where I’m wanted and walking away from a life of lies to get cash isn’t really that hard of a choice. I can work and make my own money. I don’t have to live a life of lies to get money. I couldn’t work last semester because he had my social security card and the documents I needed to get a job.”

“So, he wouldn’t give you any money and then also prevented you from working?” Nick asked.

“Yes.”

“So, you avoided us so that we couldn’t possibly make it worse by your dad finding out that you had somehow gotten some money?” Nick asked.

“Not so much that, but I just didn’t want people to know. I was so out place here. Yes, I speak English well, but that’s because I had American au pairs as a young child and I learned to speak English at the same time I learned French. But that didn’t mean that I have any real understanding of American culture or anything. I was dropped off into a school where I was an absolute outsider. I didn’t know who I could trust. I didn’t know much of anything. I was taking 9 classes and just trying to survive.”

“And now?” Jeff asked.

“And now I work for Kurt’s dad and now I can tutor this semester because I got my documents back from my father.”

“And you’ve been shopping with the king of shopping it seems,” Jeff said.

“I have. And he surprised me with the posters.”

“They’re really cool. I’ve not seen anyone else with any like them,” Jeff said.

“That’s because he used photos I took to make them.”

“That’s even more cool,” Nick said. He looked over at Kurt. “You’re awfully quiet.”

“Just thinking,” Kurt said.

“About what?” Jeff asked.

“A lot of ‘What ifs’.”

“What really happened between you and Blaine?” Jeff asked.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I told Trent, Thad, and David. I learned that his aspirations for the limelight supersede his ability to keep his word. And that he is incapable of admitting he was wrong and apologizing.”

“That’s very vague,” Jeff said.

“Well, you know me well enough to know that I don’t air my laundry publicly, especially not my dirty laundry.”

“How about this then. When did you break up and who broke it off?”

“I broke up with him not quite three months ago. After the opening night of West Side Story.”

“I didn’t realize that it was that long ago,” Nick said.

“Yeah.”

Jeff got up off the bed. “I’ve got unpacking left to do, so I better get going. “It’s been nice seeing you tonight, Kurt. Don’t be a stranger,” ”

Nick followed him and added, “Come visit more often. I’ve got to get unpacked as well.”

They approached the door.

Sebastian stood up. “Before you leave, I’m going to ask you to keep what I told you to yourselves. I’d like to start by spending more time with the two of you since we were already sort of friendly last semester. I figured I might be able to work myself into being social slowly without anyone else finding out why I was so standoffish last semester.”

“We wouldn’t have told anyone anyway. We’re not like that,” Nick said. “We’re part of the ‘nouveaux riche’ here. We’re both first generation students. We aren’t part of the group of ‘old money’ here. Our parents don’t have trust funds for us. They have the money to send us to whatever good college we get into, but they aren’t holding our college money or trust funds over our heads to force us into anything. But we’ve met enough people in your situation to know what you were dealing with. You’re just the first one I’ve met that didn’t kowtow to their father’s demands.”

“That’s like unheard of here,” Jeff said. “And amazingly brave. Like Nick said, we won’t tell anyone. And I’m glad you’re happier and have a real home to go home to now.”

They opened the door and headed off to unpack. Sebastian shut the door after they left.

Kurt stood after Sebastian closed the door. He stepped toward him and hugged him. He stepped back again. “That was really brave of you.”

“I hope it works. And they keep their word and don’t say anything to anyone.”

“Me too. That was part of my ‘what if?’ thinking. What would my life be like now if I had been able to stay here last year and then through this year? I would have definitely learned more academically. Going back to McKinley has been nothing but boring. But I would probably still be with Blaine and that would have been bad for me in the long run. Every fork in the road leads to so many others, small and big. A few choices and you’re a long way from where the choices could have led.”

“All very true. One choice I’m glad you made was that you came here that day to talk to me. You made me think about things.”

“You did the same for me. I really do wish I could stay, but I need to go before I get too tired to drive an hour and a half in the dark.”

This time Sebastian hugged Kurt. “I’ll walk you down to the visitor’s lot.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian went back up to his room, showered, and got ready for bed. He came out of the bathroom into his room, which felt like a new room, even though he’d already spent 5 months in it alone, with barely more in it than a prison cell – a very nice prison cell, but still very solitary.

Now, he looked around and photos of his favorite places were hanging on the walls, the painting of him and Kurt and Sam was there. The photos from Christmas and a few others were on his bulletin board. Kurt’s touches could be seen everywhere. It was too early to go to bed, so he got his laptop out and logged into Amazon and pulled up the sci fi series that Sam had gotten him hooked on.

Before he pressed play, he just lay there for a few minutes. As happy as he was, he already missed Kurt. He hadn’t slept alone in two weeks. He had gotten used to Kurt’s excited responses and the hugs. He wiped his eyes and pressed play.

He watched a full episode and figured that he couldn’t text Kurt for another 45 minutes. He would get back in about 15, but 45 would give him time to get ready for bed too. He clicked the “Watch next episode” button.

When it was over, he got up and charged the laptop on his desk. He put his binder on his desk and slipped the pencil case into his satchel. He had a completely new schedule and he put it in the binder at the very front. He turned his desk lamp off and took his phone with him to bed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt got home an hour and a half after he left. He hung his coat up and went upstairs. He got ready for bed and lay down. He looked at the empty side of his bed. He decided he’d text Sebastian and let him know that he was back safe. He picked his phone up and before he could type anything, it chimed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

To Kurt: I miss you.

Sebastian didn’t have to wait long before his phone chimed.

From Kurt: My bed is empty.

To Kurt: This is going to be harder than I thought.

From Kurt: Yeah.

To Kurt: I love how my room looks now, but I like our room better.

From Kurt: You can come home on Friday. Just five days.

To Kurt: That seems like a long time from now. Good night.

From Kurt: Good night.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Monday arrived and Sebastian’s new semester began. He found it strange to sit in the classroom for American Literature and American History. He was so used to studying them on his own that he was sort of frustrated to sit through listening to someone talk about any of it. He hoped it would get more interesting once they actually started the readings.

He made it through all of his classes without much trouble. The laptop worked for what he needed. He took written notes in Physics and Calculus. By last period, he was starting to dread going to Warblers practice. Finally the last bell rang. He packed his stuff up and headed down to the practice room.

He entered the room and there was Blaine being his larger than life self, sitting in his group of fanboys.   Sebastian took a seat on one of the couches. David called the meeting to order.

“Welcome back Warblers. We have 8 weeks to prepare for Regionals. We will take song suggestions today. You can write your suggestions on the sheet of paper on the table.” David held it up for everyone to see and then laid it on the table.

Thad spoke next. “Blaine has returned to Dalton and has already put in a request to challenge Sebastian for his spot as lead Warbler. We read through the Warblers by-laws and there were no specific guidelines for such a situation. It is unusual for a Warbler to leave the school and return mid-year. It seems that in the history of the group, it has never happened that the lead singer has left and then returned and wanted to resume his position.”

“We spoke with the headmaster before coming to this decision, which will be put into the by-laws as an amendment in the rare case that this ever happens again.” Trent said. “The decision that we came to is that we will assign both singers the same song to perform. Neither may be present while the other sings. They will sing in the same key with the same backing track. After each one has performed, there will be a vote by secret ballot.”

David spoke again. “We realize that this breaks with the traditional vote by raised hand, but in this group, both Sebastian and Blaine have friends. Both have been the leader of the group. We do not want to cause a divide in the group because that will not help us to win at Regionals. Many of us went to watch the New Directions at their Sectionals. They were very good. We need to be united in order to have any hope of beating them.”

“In addition to choosing between Blaine and Sebastian, everyone will be required to write two specific reasons why they chose the person they voted for,” Thad continued. “A popularity contest is not the desired outcome. What we want is to choose the person we think has the best chance of leading us to victory.”

“So, we have chosen a song – Andy Grammer’s ‘Keep Your Head Up’. Blaine and Sebastian will be given until Wednesday to be ready to perform. We will announce the results at the beginning of rehearsal on Thursday. We will also choose our songs for Regionals by Thursday. We will not meet tomorrow. For today, we are going to sing through the songs we sang at Sectionals once just for vocal practice. Afterwards, anyone who wants to suggest songs can come up here and do it. Oh, and I almost forgot. This year’s Regionals competition has a theme – overcoming.”

The group stood around the room and sang through the three songs they had sung for Sectionals. Blaine just sat and watched for a few minutes, and then he got up and horsed around, trying to join in here and there, putting on his most charismatic front that he could.

Once they finished, Sebastian went to the table and wrote down two songs on the paper. He also took the CD that David handed him with the backing track on it. He hurried out of the room in an attempt to find Jeff. He caught sight of his blond hair and hurried to catch up with him.

“Hey, Jeff. Can you do me a favor really quick?”

“Probably.”

“Can you put the file on this CD on this flash drive?”

“Sure.”

“The computer I have now doesn’t have a CD drive. It’s just a netbook.”

“Follow me.”

They went into the café area and sat at a table. In less than five minutes, Jeff had transferred the file to the flash drive.

“Thank you so much. I’m going to go learn this song. I’ve got two days to wow everyone and keep my spot.”

“You’re welcome and good luck.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian watched the original video of the song several times and pulled up the lyrics from the internet. He started memorizing the words and dancing around his room. He had a flash of inspiration. The one thing that Kurt kept pointing out was the he had gotten the Warblers to dance. He needed to choreograph this song for his performance. Not just the jumping around and goofing off kind of dancing that Blaine did while they were singing that afternoon. He needed real, repeatable choreography that he could do if he were actually singing lead on the song with the group.

He did as much of his schoolwork as he could do before he headed down to dinner right before the cafeteria closed. He ate quickly and went right back to his room. He turned the video on again and worked on the chorus first. He worked through the verses next. He tried to combine the story of the song into the dance itself. After working on it for an hour, he went back to his schoolwork and finished it. He got ready for bed and lay down.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt’s second day of school went as most school days did. Most of the teachers hadn’t really gotten into the swing of things yet and gave the students time to read in class.

Glee Club was a total surprise. They all walked into class and on the top of the white board, Mr. Schue had written “OVERCOMING” and underneath he had written “What Doesn’t Kill You” (Stronger) – Troubletones. Underneath that was “I Can Fly”. At the bottom was a question mark with ballad solo.

Kurt was shocked. Eight weeks until Regionals and they were already going to start preparing?

Rachel started to speak.

Kurt raised his hand, “Mr. Schue?”

“Yes, Kurt.”

“I’d like to make a suggestion for the solo. I think anyone who wants to sing the solo should audition by singing a song that fits the theme. And then we should vote by secret ballot, but no one who auditions can vote in the first round. After the first votes are tallied we vote again between the top two and that time everyone can vote.”

“That’s an interesting option.”

Rachel was clearly unhappy with Kurt’s idea. She had obviously expected the solo to be handed to her again.

“If I may – every time we’ve had the ability to vote, each person votes for themselves or their own duet and then whoever wins is just because one person didn’t vote for themselves. So, this time if five of us want the solo, then the other 9 would vote. The top two from that vote would be voted on by all 14 of us.”

“That seems reasonable to me. What does everyone else think?”

There was a lot of head nodding.

“Is anyone opposed to the idea?”

No one said anything. Although Rachel’s face clearly indicated that she was displeased.

“Then please raise your hand if you’d like to be considered for the ballad.”

Kurt interrupted, “Mr. Schue can we talk about “I Can Fly” for a minute first? Is it going to be a solo with the whole choir singing back up or is it going to be broken down into featured singers throughout the whole song?”

“It will have featured sections. But there may be one person who sings more than the others.”

“So, you already have it planned out?”

“Mostly, yes. But the featured people could possibly be changed around.”

“Alright. I’d like to add my name to the solo audition. I’d like to sing ‘You are Loved’.”

“Alright. Anyone else?”

“Me.” Rachel said. “I’d like to sing ‘Here’s to us’.”

Mercedes and Santana looked at each other, but neither said anything.

Tina raised her hand. “I’d like to sing ‘Skyscraper’.”

Mr. Schue added it to the list.

The last person to raise her hand was Sugar. “Mr. Schue, I’d like to sing ‘Eye of the Tiger’.”

He added her name to the list. “Anyone else?”

No hands went up.

“Alright, then. We have four candidates who should be ready to sing on Thursday. We’re going to sing through ‘I Can Fly’ with the piano and band with everyone singing the melody. I just want everyone to get a feel for the song.”

They sang through it a couple of times.

“That’s it for today. I’ll see all of you on Thursday. We won’t meet tomorrow or Wednesday since I want the potential soloists to work hard on their pieces. After the soloist is chosen we’ll work on breaking down ‘I Can Fly’.”

Kurt took Sam to the shop to work until closing. They headed home for dinner afterwards. Kurt ate quickly and asked to be excused. He cleared his own place and went upstairs. He pulled up “You are Loved” and started working on it. He emailed Trevor and asked him if he had time to listen to an audio file and give pointers the next evening.

After working on it for a while, he switched to his homework and finished it quickly since so many of the teachers had given study time in class during the day. He showered and got ready for bed. He worked on the song more before lying down to go to sleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

To Kurt: The challenge was issued today. I have until Wednesday to prepare the song I was given.

From Kurt: I have until Thursday to prepare to sing the solo I’m hoping to get for Regionals.

Sebastian’s phone rang and he answered it. “The council is doing the voting just the way you suggested on Sunday.”

“Really?”

“Really. I guess there’s no precedent for a previous lead singer coming back to the school.”

“Well, two shocking things then. Mr. Schue accepted my suggestion on how to choose the soloist for Regionals.”

“That is shocking.”

“I know.”

They talked for a while. Both of them felt better than they had the night before with just the texts.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Tuesday Sebastian did the minimum on his homework and spent the rest of his evening working on his song and choreography.

Kurt did the same thing, but he still had to work. When he came in the door, Sam greeted him with a huge smile on his face. He had stayed after school for an extra basketball practice instead of going to the shop.

“What’s with the smile?”

Sam pulled an envelope out from behind his back and handed it to Kurt. He opened it and read it carefully.

“You did it!” Kurt bear hugged him, but he was prepared for it, so he didn’t fall back.

“I did it! I’m staying.”

“I’m so glad for you.”

“Me too.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Sam passed those state tests. He’s going to stay and graduate with me at McKinley!”

“That’s great. I know how much he hated the idea of going back to Kentucky to finish out the school year.”

“Are you ready for tomorrow?”

“As ready as I’m going to get.”

“I wish I could watch you.”

“I can see if I can get Jeff to record it surreptitiously.”

“See if he can manage it. Get him to record Blaine too. That way you can see his take on the song. And it would give the council some recourse if Blaine complains that it was unfair.”

“Good idea. What song are you singing?”

“Can’t tell you. If I win, I’m going to sing it for Regionals.”

“From what you’ve said before, it’s shocking that you all are already starting to work on songs for Regionals. You said in the past, your director has waited until the week before.”

“He’s waited until the day before. Last year at Nationals, we left for New York and didn’t have a song list and we WROTE those songs and learned everything after we got there. We placed 12th, which isn’t horrible or anything, and if Finn and Rachel hadn’t made out on stage, we might have done a lot better. But maybe he’s finally learned that teaching us to be procrastinators isn’t good? I don’t know. It’s definitely weird.”

They continued to talk for quite a while.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Wednesday seemed to last forever for Sebastian. He was nervous. He wanted to continue to be lead Warbler, but he didn’t know if he could win. In some ways, he didn’t know if he actually wanted to win. The whole thing was stressful. He got an encouraging text from Kurt right after the last period bell rang, which made him smile. He headed into the Warblers room and waited to for the meeting to start.

David called the meeting to order and asked Sebastian to step out of the room. He had already talked to Jeff who had agreed to record both of their performances. He waited in the hall for a little less than five minutes and then Blaine came out with his satchel and headed down the hall. Sebastian stepped inside the room.

“Just tell us when you’re ready and we’ll press the start button.”

“Can we slide the table over out of the way so I have a little more room?”

“Sure,” David said.

David, Thad, and Trent got up and moved the table behind the couch closest to the door. They sat back down at their spots.

Sebastian moved to the center of the space and nodded. David pressed play on the CD player.

Sebastian told the story in the verses through his hand and body movements mixed with some dance steps. Each chorus he did he same dance moves. He didn’t forget any of the words and stayed on pitch and kept in time with the backing track. When he finished everyone clapped.

“Thank you, Sebastian,” Trent said. “You’re free to leave. We’ll take the vote and tomorrow in rehearsal we’ll announce the winner and start to work on our first piece for Regionals.

Sebastian nodded, picked up his satchel and headed off to his room to do his homework.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sam headed to the shop right after school and worked for two hours and headed home. Kurt wanted time to work more on his song after dinner, so he wanted get his homework done before they ate.

He spent the evening working on it and coming up with he right outfit to wear to sing it. After he was certain about his outfit, he showered and got in bed early. He listened to music for a while. Eventually, he texted Sebastian. Sebastian emailed him the video files of the two performances.

From Kurt: Did you watch them?

To Kurt: No, I don’t really like watching myself perform. It just feels weird. It’s not so bad when it’s the whole group because I can focus on the other people, but this was just me. I did watch Blaine’s.

From Kurt: Well, I’ll watch both and text you when I finish.

Kurt got his laptop out and opened the files and watched them. Blaine did lot of his typical emoting - large, mostly overdone expressions. He danced around a bit, but nothing really planned. He did try to get a little too close to people in an attempt to engage the group members. He sang on pitch. His timing and diction were good. It was a typical Blaine presentation of a song.

Sebastian’s movements were planned, that was obvious, but they weren’t robotic nor did they appear to be something that Sebastian was focusing on instead of the song he was singing. Each chorus had the same steps. Steps that could be done by the whole group and look good. Sebastian stayed in the open area and didn’t go out into the seating area and schmooze. He genuinely portrayed the upbeat nature of the song. He found Sebastian’s presentation to be better than Blaine’s.

He texted Sebastian.

From Kurt: I think you did a fabulous job and you were definitely better than Blaine.

To Kurt: Thank you.

Kurt called. “This could still go either way. Blaine was very much himself in his version of the song – charming, charismatic, and attention grabbing.”

“But you think I did a better job?”

“Definitely. I like the choreography. It shows that you put a lot of effort into your presentation and performance. You didn’t just wing it and hope for the best. You thought about how you could sing the lead on this song and turn it into a Warblers performance piece.”

“Thank you. How’s your song coming?”

“I’ve been working on it. I sent Trevor an audio file Tuesday evening. He sent me his suggestions today. I incorporated them the best I could this evening when I practiced. This piece is very different for me. Trevor’s been having me work on strengthening my lower range and helping me feel more confident singing in that range. So, I guess we’ll see tomorrow. I think people will be surprised. I guess we’ll see whether it’s a surprise they enjoy or not. I guess we’ll both know before 4:00 tomorrow.”

“Yeah.”

“You sound down.”

“It’s harder to be here than it was before. I’m trying.”

“Why is it harder?”

Sebastian was quiet for a few seconds. “Because I’m alone again. I will do things with Jeff and Nick like I said. But being challenged on the first day of classes made me spend the last two evenings working on my performance and tonight I had to work my tail off to get caught up on reading assignments that I let slide to work on the music. So, it’s just been classes and me in my room for three days.”

“I can understand that. I’ve spent the last three nights doing the same thing. Plus, I just straight up miss you being here. I’m looking forward to Friday. Then you’ll be home.”

“I’ll leave as soon as I can after school. I’m looking forward to it too.”

 

Chapter Text

Classes finally ended and Kurt headed to the choir room. He walked in and sat against the wall in the back row. Sam came in and sat down next to him. It didn’t take long for everyone else to get there.

Mr. Schue came in with a shoebox in his hand. “Would the four people auditioning today please come take a number.” Kurt drew a 4. “Alright, whoever drew the number 1, come up and sing for us. I’d like each person to sing and for the rest of you to refrain from clapping, singing along or doing anything to distract our performers. So, please sit up and focus.”

Sugar stood up and moved to the front. She was wearing a tiger print jacket with faux fur trim and wearing a headband with furry ears that matched her jacket. She wasn’t great, but she wasn’t awful. Miss Corcoran had obviously eventually had some success in teaching her how to sing. When she finished, she bowed, and sat back down.

Next, Tina got up. She did a really good job. She was very emotional in her presentation, but not over the top at all. She wasn’t dressed any differently than she normally did for school. She walked a little as she sang and made eye contact with pretty much everyone in the room. Her performance was very moving .

Third in line was Rachel. She got up in her best smile and black sleeveless dress with a full skirt on it and danced around the whole front of the room, while she belted the song out loud and clear. Her performance of the song was very good technically, but it lacked the emotional connection that Tina’s song had.

Finally it was Kurt’s turn. He didn’t transpose the song from its original key and he could see the surprise on the faces of quite a few members of the group, including Mr. Schue when he sang out strong and not the least bit girly sounding. He had chosen an outfit that he thought was quite masculine, but within the range of things he had worn on occasion. He wore black trousers, looser through the calves than his normal cut, with a black shirt with gray pinstripes, and a gray vest with no tie. He did his best to portray the feeling in the song without being over the top and coming off sappy.

“Well, we have quite the choice to make.” Mr. Schue handed out slips of paper to the people that hadn’t auditioned. “So, please write the name of the person you’re voting for on the slip and put it in the box.”

A few minutes later, everyone had voted. Mr. Schue took the box into his office to tally the votes. He came back a couple of minutes later. “Okay, in the second round of voting, everyone can vote and you’re choosing between Tina and Kurt.” He passed out more slips of paper.

Rachel was livid. She tried to keep it under wraps, but Kurt could tell that she was about to lose it. He figured that she’d vote for Tina just to spite him.

They all got up and put their ballots into the box. Mr. Schue took the box back to his office to tally them. He came back out. “The soloist for Regionals will be Kurt.”

Kurt was shocked. Stunned. He didn’t move.

“Kurt?” Mr. Schue said to get his attention.

“Yes. Yes.” He came back to his senses. “Thank you to everyone who voted for me. I have an idea for the piece, if I can share it.”

“Sure.”

“I’d like it to be an all-guys piece. We have the Troubletones doing an all-girls number and perhaps Tina, Rachel, and Quinn could join them – I mean if they want to. This way we’d have one group piece, a guys piece, and a girls piece.”

“That’s an interesting idea. The guys did do a great job at Sectionals. But I’m not sure how it would still be a solo. We can talk about your idea in more detail later. For now, let’s move on to talking about ‘I Can Fly’.” He handed out the sheet music and went through the division of the featured parts, which he had divided up a little more fairly than Kurt had anticipated.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

David called the Warblers meeting to order. “We tallied the votes from yesterday. There will be no murmuring or complaining about the outcome. We are a group that needs to be united to perform well. Please accept the outcome as the gentlemen that we are aspiring to be, not as whiny children who didn’t get their way. And the same goes to the group of people who voted for the victor. There will be no snide remarks or childish behavior reminiscent of the ‘na na na na booing’ that takes place on elementary school playgrounds. Am I understood?”

Most of them nodded.

“Good,” Thad said. “This is an unusual situation and we appreciate you ability to respond in an respectful manner. Sebastian will retain his position as lead Warbler. Congratulations, Sebastian.”

Trent spoke next. “One song that has been chosen for Regionals is ‘Stand’, which we’re going to listen to now. We have worked on the arrangement, and we’ll sing through what we have a few times before we dismiss for the day. We’re still considering some of the other songs that were suggested.” Trent connected his phone to the speakers and started “Stand”.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian booked it back to his room as soon as rehearsal ended. He texted Kurt asking if he could call. Instead of responding to the text, Kurt called him immediately.

“How did it go?”

“I’m still lead Warbler.”

“Congratulations! That’s great.”

“And one of the songs I put in to be considered for Regionals got chosen. They haven’t chosen the other songs yet.”

“Well, then double congratulations!” Kurt laughed.

“What about you?”

“I won. I got the solo.”

“That’s amazing. Not because your not good enough, but amazing because you’d been ignored for so long.”

“It is amazing. I really thought I would lose to Tina. She sang ‘Skyscraper’ and nailed it. She did such a great job. I have to go. Call me later. I have to get to the shop and I can’t talk on the phone and drive.”

“Okay.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

On Friday in Warbler’s rehearsal, Sebastian stood and asked to speak after the meeting had been called to order.

“Sebastian has the floor,” David said.

“The Warblers currently rehearse for 45 minutes, 5 days a week for a total of 225 minutes. I would like to propose that we change our rehearsal schedule to 60 minutes, 4 days a week with a 5-minute break in the middle to get a drink and stretch. That schedule would have us rehearse for a total of 220 minutes per week. The upside to this schedule is that those of us who travel out of town to visit our families on the weekend would be able to leave after last period on Fridays. Last period ends at 2:55. The sports teams don’t start practice until 4:15, so anyone in the group that plays a sport would still have time to arrive without being late.” He sat back down after speaking.

“That’s an interesting proposal. Does anyone second his idea?”

Several hands went up.

“Well, it looks like there is some interest in this idea.”

“Does anyone want to speak against the idea?”

No hands were raised.

“Alright,” David said. “There is a motion to change our rehearsal schedule from Monday through Friday from 3:00-3:45 to Monday through Thursday from 3:00-4:00. All those in favor raise your hand.” David counted. “All those opposed.” No one put their hand up. “I’m assuming those of you who didn’t vote don’t really care one way or the other. There were 10 ‘yes’ votes, which is more than half the membership of the group. The motion carries. Since we don’t have the arrangements finished for our pieces, we will start the change this week. With the exception of those of you who are helping with the arrangements, everyone else is free to leave today.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian hurried to his room, changed his clothes as fast as he could, dumped the books he needed into his suitcase with the clothes had already packed, and grabbed his satchel. He locked his room and headed for the parking lot. He was on his way to Lima to surprise Kurt and show up early.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt met with Mr. Schue during lunch and discussed his idea of the guys singing back up for his solo. They worked through when the guys would sing, when they would echo, and they would just hum in harmony. Mr. Schue worked on getting the parts arranged.

By the time everyone was in the choir room after school, Mr. Schue had the basic arrangement done.

“Today we need to discuss whether or not Rachel, Tina, and Quinn would be welcome to sing with the girls in the Troubletones number. Many of the girls from the Cheerios are continuing to participate for that piece. But the question is whether those members of the group are going to be open to the three girls that were not a member of the Troubletones participating.”

Mercedes spoke first. “I think as long as the Rachel realizes that she will not sing lead on the song and she can keep up with the choreography, that the other girls will not be bothered by her singing with us. Tina and Quinn won’t be an issue, in my opinion.”

Santana spoke next. “Berry cannot attempt a coup of any sort. If she’s willing to come in and be part of the chorus with the other girls, I agree with Mercedes. I think the girls will be okay with it.”

“Alright, then I think you three need to decide on a personal level whether you want to participate with the Troubletones in their number. After class you can let me know your decision. They will be meeting separately to work on their number.”

“When do they rehearse?” Rachel asked.

“More than likely on Monday mornings before school since Coach Sue is helping us now that Miss Corcoran has gone back to New York and that’s the only morning she’s willing to let us work on it. The Cheerios that need work on their tumbling practice on Monday mornings. She can have one of the other senior Cheerios berate them for what a lousy job they’re doing.”

“Hey!” Kurt said.

“What? It’s not my fault you grew like 5 or 6 inches since you last cheered with us. Those extra inches mean you have to work harder to do flips than we do. You’re getting better. She wants you to be able to flip like you could before. That’s a tall order for someone who only practices tumbling one day a week.”

“Whatever,” he rolled his eyes.

“So, back to the topic at hand. Tina, Quinn, and Rachel need to have Monday mornings before school available if they wish to join the Troubletones piece. Let me know after class so I can talk to Coach Sue about it.”

The three of them nodded.

“For today, I want the girls to head down to the dance studio and begin to brainstorm and start thinking of choreography idea for ‘I Can Fly’. Use one of your phones to play the music while you’re down there.”

The girls got up, grabbed their stuff and left.

“Now guys, Kurt came to me with the plan that he had for the song he chose. I have the sheet music and we’re going to sing through it and see how it goes.” He passed the music out.

They worked on it for about 15 minutes. “So, what do you guys think?” Kurt asked.

“I like that you’re not just hogging all of the spotlight. This feels like a group song with you singing the melody rather than a ‘look at me’ solo,” Puck said. “It’s cool. This song isn’t really my kind of music, but it does fit the theme and it’s a nice contrast to the other two songs.”

Kurt nodded. “Anyone else have an opinion?”

No response.

“Alright then, let’s move down by the piano and hammer out the parts so we make sure everyone is actually singing the right notes.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian pulled into the Hummel driveway about 30 minutes earlier than he had expected to. Kurt’s Navigator wasn’t in the driveway, but Finn’s truck was. Burt’s truck wasn’t there either. So, just Finn was home. Sebastian got his suitcase out and headed in and made a stop in the laundry room and put his clothes in the washer. He took everything else upstairs and put it away. Afterwards, he slid the suitcase under the bed. He set a timer to move the clothes to the dryer and sat down at the desk to get as much of his written work done as he possibly could.

He worked diligently, switched the clothes when necessary, did more schoolwork, grabbed the clothes and folded and hung them up. He went right back to studying. He had only been home an hour and 15 minutes when Kurt and Sam came bounding up the stairs.

“You’re here!”

“I am.”

“So, there’s a basketball game tonight. You can stay home if you want. I know you have more schoolwork than I do. I won’t be offended.”

“Let me think about it. I’ve been looking forward to going, but how much homework do you have to do?”

“Maybe two hours’ worth. I’ll be quiet and let you work now. I’ll go help Carole make dinner.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian stayed home and worked on his schoolwork, but left in time to get to the game before halftime. He slid into the bench near Tina.

“I thought maybe you stayed at Dalton for the weekend.”

“Nope. I was trying to get through as much of my schoolwork as possible. I don’t want to spend my whole weekend holed up doing schoolwork.”

“I can’t blame you for that.”

“Kurt said you did a fantastic job on ‘Skyscraper’. He said he was surprised that he won. He figured that you would.”

“That’s sweet of him. I voted for him. He’s got a gorgeous voice and he’s graduating. Rachel always manages to grab the spotlight and Blaine took Tony from him. I thought he deserved it more. I’ll have more chances next year.”

“You’re as sweet as he says you are. That was really kind of you.”

“Are you ever going to tell him that you like him?”

“He’s out of my league.”

“How do you figure that?”

“He just is.”

“Well, I think you’re wrong, but it’s your life. Not a single other person in this gymnasium is here because he’s here. Just you. And that includes me, and you just said complimentary things about my kindness. He and I have been friends for ages. We’re not as close as we used to be, but I would have never considered coming just to watch him and support him. You don’t like basketball anymore than I do, but you come here every time you can and you support him. It’s not what you can give him monetarily or social status-wise. You already support him more by coming here than any of the rest of his friends. You came to our sectionals in regular clothes as his friend. You’re in his league, for sure.”

“Thanks for the pep talk.”

“You’re welcome. He deserves someone who actually cares about him.”

“Well, we can agree on that.”

After the game, the three guys met outside the locker room and headed out to the parking lot.

“Can you take Carole’s car, Sam? Meet us at the shop. Dad wants us to come there before we go home. It’s dark out and I’m not certain that Sebastian knows the way there from here.”

“Sure. See ya in a few minutes.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Why does your dad want us to go to the shop?”

“I actually have no idea whatsoever.”

They listened to the radio as they drove to the shop. Once they were there, they parked and walked up to the customer entrance. Sam was standing there already. Kurt texted his dad telling him that they were there, so they wouldn’t startle him by just walking in. Burt came to the door and let them in.

“Alright boys. Follow me.” Burt led them toward the work bay. The blue Honda Accord that Kurt had been working on all week was down off of the lift and sitting in the open area of the shop. “This is why I had you all come here. This little beauty is Sam and Sebastian’s new car.”

“What?” they both said.

“Sebastian can drive it to Dalton and use it there whenever he needs to during the week and when he comes back on Fridays, it becomes yours, Sam. That way, you can go visit your family on the weekends whenever you want. Kurt did a fantastic job of fixing what was wrong with it all week long. I just gave it a final inspection myself. Technically the car belongs to me, but you’re both insured to drive it. You’ll have to work together to figure out the issue of keeping it gassed up. I’d suggest that Sebastian fill it up when he gets to the station not far from the house and that Sam do the same thing when he comes back from Kentucky. But you two can work out whatever method you want.”

“Wow,” Sam said. “I don’t know what to say, other than thank you.”

“Me either. Thank you.”

“Well, you’re both welcome. So, I guess since it’s the weekend, it’s technically Sam’s car right now, but I have keys for all three of you.” He handed a key to each one of them, which they slipped on to their key rings. “I’ll open the bay door and you can drive it out and head home, Sam. If you want, you can leave for Kentucky in the morning. It’s a little late now to head out considering that you’re probably pretty tired from playing basketball.”

“I’ll think about going tomorrow. Thank you again.” Sam headed for the car while Burt walked over to the door control and raised the bay door. He closed it again after Sam pulled out.

“You two can head home too.”

Kurt and Sebastian went out the door and Burt locked it behind them. He left through the employee entrance and reset the alarms.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sebastian pulled up to the driveway and there was only room for one of them to park. A few seconds later, Kurt saw Finn come out of the house and the garage door go up. He pulled his truck into the garage and closed the door from the inside. Next he saw his dad come out and pull his truck up one car length. Sebastian pulled in behind Burt’s truck.

Kurt was out of the Navigator by then. “We’re going to have to play ‘move the vehicles’ a lot with this many cars.”

“It’ll be fine.” Burt said. “I’ll make a copy of Finn’s truck key for the three of you. We’ll all just carry the keys to all of the vehicles. It will be fine.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Carole had a snack ready for everyone. Kurt and Sebastian headed up to their room afterwards.

“Mind if I shower first?” Kurt asked.

“Nope. Go right ahead.”

Sebastian did as many calculus problems as he could while Kurt was in the shower. When he came out, Sebastian took his shower. When he came out, Kurt was waiting for him.

“I’m glad you’re here.” He hugged him.

“Me too.”

“Ready to sleep?”

“Maybe. Ready to rest at least.”

Sebastian tossed his clothes into the laundry and turned the lights off and got in bed.

“Much better.”

Sebastian laughed.

“What’s better?”

“My bed’s not half empty now.”

“I see. Well, I think this is the best bed ever because I always sleep so well when I sleep in it.”

“Music?”

“Sure. Are we working tomorrow morning?”

“Let me text my dad and ask. He’s not home that often anymore, so I don’t want to make any assumptions. I mean the car was a total surprise. I worked on it all week and I had no idea it was for you and Sam.”

Kurt texted Burt. Not even a minute later, he got a response. “The answer is we can go in after breakfast, but our schoolwork needs to be the priority. And breakfast will be at 8:00.”

“Got it. I still have schoolwork to do and you said you had two hours worth. I guess we can find out more in the morning.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They were dressed for the day and sitting at the table at 8:00 as Burt had requested. Finn and Sam were there too, although Finn was still in his pajamas. He usually didn’t get out of bed until close to noon on Saturdays.

“I’ve called a family breakfast for this morning because it’s obviously not going to work for us to have Friday family dinners anymore since there are basketball games pretty much every Friday for the foreseeable future.   Also, sometimes my flights won’t get me here by dinnertime. So, for right now, on the weekends I’m home, we’re going to attempt to have a Saturday morning family breakfast. If Puck’s here, he can just stay asleep and eat when he gets up, Finn.”

“Got it.”

“So, this week’s news got shared last night. I got a car for Sam and Sebastian to share. This way Sebastian has a way back and forth to Dalton and Sam has a way to go see his family on the weekends. In shop news, Sebastian is my new bookkeeper. He will go on the payroll this week. I just need your bank account information to set up your direct deposit.”

“I’ll get that for you,” Sebastian said. “And thank you.”

“No need to be overly grateful. It was a position I was going to have to hire for. I gave you a chance to show whether you could do it or not and you did a fine job. So, you’ve saved me the trouble of trying to hold interviews on the weekend to fill the position.”

Sebastian nodded.

“House rules still stand when I’m not here. You need to ask Carole before having any guests overnight. She’ll need to plan for additional food or authorize ordering pizzas or Chinese. You four will still need to help with either the cooking or the clean up. Leaving Carole to clean up after four 18 year olds is unacceptable. Do your laundry, keep up with it. Do your schoolwork. If anyone needs help, ask Carole. If no one in the house can answer the schoolwork problems, she can find a tutor for whoever needs one. No excuses for doing poorly in school just because it’s your last semester.”

Carole spoke next. “College applications are due soon. Please ask for help if you need it, but not the day before the application is due. There are some things that cannot be rushed. Burt and I will continue to attend Sam’s games as we can. I work some evenings and obviously Burt is out of town some of the time. But we’ll come when we can. The same thing will hold true if you get on the lacrosse team, Sebastian. It may be easier for us to attend your away games if they’re closer to Lima, but we will come when we can. If there are any other school related events, the sooner you mark them on the kitchen calendar, the more likely we’ll be able to attend.”

Burt said, “I think that’s it. Do any of you have any questions or anything to add?”

“Kurt got the solo for Regionals,” Finn said.

“Oh, honey. That’s great!”

“Thank you.”

“Sebastian was challenged for lead Warbler and came out victorious,” Kurt said.

“Congratulations, dude,” Finn said.

“Thanks.”

“I’m glad for you,” Carole said with a big smile on her face.

Sebastian just nodded and smiled.

“The basketball team is 9 and 3, which is better than last season and the good news is that I don’t get yelled at the way the Cheerios do. I feel bad for them every time I hear Coach Sue yell at them. Sorry Kurt. I know you don’t like to talk about it, but she’s awful to you and the others.”

“There are definitely days when I wish I had not joined. The cheering part itself is fun, but the practices are not. Hopefully, being on the squad helps me get into college.”

“Coach Beiste is tough,” Finn said. “But she’s fair. She only gets mad when people don’t listen or don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. Coach Sue just says mean things to the Cheerios all the time.”

“I don’t agree with her methodologies, but Kurt joined of his own free will knowing exactly what he was getting into. Now, having said that. If she starts nagging you about your weight or the whole situation gets to be too much, you can leave the squad. I will back you up, Son. People can only put up with so much crap and you already have more than your fair share. If and when you’ve decided that enough is enough, Carole and I will see to it that you are off the squad.”

“Thank you, Dad.”

“You betcha, kiddo.”

“I hate to eat and run,” Sam said. “But is it okay if I head out. I’m going to go to Kentucky and come back tomorrow evening. We have three basketball games next weekend, so I won’t be able to go then. Plus, there’s no snow predicted for this weekend.”

“Sure, Sam. Have fun,” Carole said.

Sam got up and put his stuff in the dishwasher, grabbed his coat and backpack and headed out.

“Well, everyone else is free to go back to bed or whatever. I figured Kurt and Sebastian are heading to the shop until noon and then coming back home to work on their schoolwork.”

“That’s fine, Dad. We’ll see you later.”

Kurt grabbed Sebastian’s place setting and his own and put them in the dishwasher. Sebastian had his own coat on and was holding Kurt’s and handed it to him. They headed to the shop.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

It wasn’t long before Burt showed up at the shop to check in on how everything was going when the employees were there. He just stood back and watched for a while and was pleased to see that they were all working. No one was slacking off and no one seemed to be disgruntled that Kurt had been promoted. Everyone seemed to like Sebastian. Once Cassius noticed him standing in the corner, he approached and told Burt about the week.

Kurt and Sebastian worked for three hours and headed back to the house to finish their schoolwork. When they arrived, Carole was in the kitchen. She was cleaning up from prepping the pot of soup she had started on the stove.

“Hello, boys. Lunch will be in about a half hour. The soup needs time to simmer.”

“Thanks!” Sebastian said.

“And just a forewarning. The Glee guys will all be here around 6:00 and they’re staying the night – down in the family room.”

“Thanks for letting us know,” Kurt said.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“I don’t get it.”

“Get what?”

“Why are the Glee guys coming here and you’re being informed as if you’re an outsider?”

“Oh, I don’t get invited. Finn always had the Glee guys over to his house before Carole and my dad got married. He’s just kept it up since the wedding.”

“You’re missing the point of my question. Why are you not invited?”

“I didn’t bother to ask why. I appreciated the lack of dumpster tosses too much to care about not being invited to guys’ night. If they don’t want me there, why would I want to be there? Calling them out on their discrimination wouldn’t make them want me there. So, I just let it be.”

Sebastian just shook his head. He changed the subject. “Can I come with you tomorrow morning to Cincinnati?”

“Sure.”

“I was thinking I could work on my homework more while you’re having your lessons and then we could go back to that grocery store. We went almost three weeks ago, but this time I have some money. I got paid for the tutoring I did this past week.”

“That sounds like fun. I’m glad you’re able to work now. I know that’s a load off your shoulders.”

“It really is.”

“So, another hour homework after lunch and I’ll be done. Then we’ll do something fun up here, just the two of us. We can grab some of the board games before any of them get here. And we can watch movies on my laptop or read.”

“Sounds good to me.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Carole was sweet to sneak us up pizza from the guys.”

“She was, but it also saves her from having to make dinner because she and Dad are going out for a date.”

“That’s sweet.”

“He tries. It will be harder now that he’s going to be gone so much. I know once they get things figured out that Carole will start going with him to DC some of the time. But she has to get her work schedule shifted first. But most of that lecture this morning was for Finn. When Carole goes with Dad, he needs to be sure that she won’t be coming back to a mess to clean up because she will have used her days off to go with him and she’ll have like a 10 days of work in a row with no days off.”

“Finn needs to get his act together.”

“I know, but she freely admits that’s partially her fault for indulging him. She felt bad because he didn’t have a dad around. She worked and on her days off she spent all day while he was at school doing all of the chores, and then she did whatever he wanted to do when he was home. She’d buy him what he wanted and stuff. She gave him an allowance, and then even more money if he asked. She was just doing her best, but she realizes that she let it go on too long. He’s also just naturally disorganized and laid back. So, it was a bad combo.”

“Whereas you are super organized and not laid back.”

“He and I are mostly opposites. He’s always been one of the most popular kids in school. And his boyish charm has always worked to get him granted leeway other people wouldn’t get. It is how it is. Fighting against it makes no difference. You heard me say how Santana was threatened with a 2-week suspension for a simple slap when she smacked him. And Dave got a mere 3-day suspension for threatening to kill me after weeks of locker shoves causing me massive bruises. Fair isn’t part of my world. It never has been. It hasn’t been for you either. But we survived. We know we’re tough and we can make it.”

“You’re right.”

“Let’s start with a card game.”

“You realize that I don’t know how to play most of these games, right?”

“I know. I’ll teach you.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They were up and gone before anyone else was even awake Sunday morning. They followed through on the plans they had made. They had a lot of fun and they came back with some interesting snacks. They got back around 5:00. Sebastian packed most of what he had bought in his suitcase with his clean clothes and books. They made an early dinner together and Sebastian headed back to Dalton around 7:00. They were both sad the weekend was over.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They texted and talked on the phone every evening and texted during the daytime when they could get away with it. They both worked to get as much of their homework done before the weekend as possible. Both schools had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, giving them a three-day weekend to look forward to.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt was really excited that Sebastian was on his way home. He was glad that Sebastian had stopped holding Warbler rehearsals on Fridays so he got to the shop an hour earlier.

When he got there, he went straight to the lounge and grabbed his coveralls and put them on. He came out of the changing area to find Kurt waiting for him. He handed him a container with some cookies in it. Sebastian took the container, opened it, and stuffed a cookie in his mouth. He put the lid back on and used his hand to keep from losing the other half of the cookie.

After he swallowed he said, “Delicious as always. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Come on. I’m going to show you more car-fixing magic today for an hour and then you can get working on the books.”

“You cannot seriously be this excited about whatever we are going to do to a car.”

“Nope, but I’m glad you’re here.”

Sebastian smiled. He followed Kurt and paid attention. He went to the office when the hour was up and he spent the next hour doing the receipts for the week.

When it was time to close up, they both left their coveralls in the laundry bin and headed out. When they pulled up in the driveway, Kurt opened the back door and got Sebastian’s suitcase out. He pulled it up to the door, which Sebastian unlocked.

When they got inside, they were greeted by Carole. “There’s food on the island in the kitchen. Eat something before you have to go to the game, Kurt. Sebastian, help yourself.”

Kurt wheeled Sebastian’s suitcase into the laundry room. And then went into the bathroom to wash his hands. He sat down at the island and put food on the plate Carole had put out for him.

“Before I forget, there was an envelope for each of you in the mail. They’re on your bookshelves upstairs.”

Kurt left the room and went to the bedroom. He sat down and grabbed a pair of scissors from the desk. He cut the end off the envelope very neatly and took a deep breath and let it out. He pulled the contents out of the envelope. He closed his eyes again and opened them. He unfolded the sheets of paper and started to read. He took off for the laundry room.

“I got in! I got in!”

“You did it!” Sebastian exclaimed.

“I did.”

“What’s going on?” Carole asked.

“Is Finn home?”

“No.”

“Okay. I was working on my college application so diligently in the fall because I applied for early admission to the musical theater program in Cincinnati.”

“Honey, I thought you wanted to go to New York to study.”

“I did. But I did a lot of research. The school in Cincinnati is actually ranked higher than most of those New York schools I was looking at and the tuition is about 1/5 the cost. If I had to, I could work full time all summer and part time during the school year and cover all of my costs.”

“I see. But is that what you really want?”

“I want to study and learn. I don’t want to end up owing over $250K in school loans. I’m not even sure I can borrow that much. I do know that it would set me back like $30K a year for 10 years to pay it back. I just don’t see how whatever I would learn could be worth that.”

“Well, if it’s what you want, then I’m happy for you. But from your question earlier, I take it that you don’t want Finn to know.”

“I don’t. He is incapable of keeping secrets. He’s not a gossip, but he literally seems to be incapable of remembering who knows what and who he can tell things to. I’m not interested in Rachel having a cow. She’s mad enough that Blaine went back to Dalton. She loved singing with him.”

“Finn is struggling with a lot of things right now. I’m not going to tell him about your college choice. I wish I had an answer about him knowing when to not say things, but you’re right - he’s just like that.”

“I will tell Dad when he comes back tonight. I’ll tell Sam too. He knows that I had applied. I’m not sharing it with anyone else until the other seniors start to get their acceptance letters.”

“Alright, honey. It’s your life and your choice who to share the information with.”

Kurt sat back down at the island to eat. He saw Sebastian head up the stairs with his suitcase and satchel. He kept expecting him to come back downstairs and eat with him, but he didn’t. When he finished, he put his plate in the dishwasher and headed upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Bas?” Kurt called his name when he didn’t see him in the room anywhere.

“I’m in the closet hanging my shirts up.”

“Oh, okay. You didn’t come back down to eat. I just came to check on you.”

Sebastian came out of the closet. He zipped the suitcase and put it under the bed. He sat down on the bed and patted the spot next to him.

Kurt sat down next to him. “Is something wrong?”

“Nope, not at all. Actually everything is really good and it feels surreal. But I have to believe that it is real because even in my wildest imagination, I wouldn’t have come up with this scenario.”

“You’re not making a lot of sense.”

He got up and grabbed the envelope off the desk and took the papers out. He brought them over and handed them to Kurt. Kurt took them and unfolded them and started to read.

“What? When did you even apply?”

“I looked into the school after we met at the diner that day. You were so excited about it and talked about how affordable it was. I thought maybe I’d just apply and see what happened.”

“You’ve been offered a $5000 scholarship, Bas. That’s like nearly half the tuition for the year.”

“I know. We could get a small apartment and share the expenses. It would cost you half as much that way. And I could afford to pay half, if I keep working. I was going to have to work in France anyway.”

“I thought you wanted to go back to Paris.”

“What I wanted was to NOT be with my father. I don’t want to be with my mother either, but I know Paris. I felt like I could make it there because I had made I there for the last 7 years.”

“And now?”

“And now, I don’t hate it here anymore.”

“I see.”

“I actually did the calculations. If we got a place together, it would be less expensive for me to go to school here.”

“How much were you going to have to pay to get your room back?”

“About $800 a month.”

“Oh, wow. I had no idea.”

“I told you housing in Paris is very expensive. My mother charging $800 a month is easy for her to get. And I would still have to pay for my own food and expenses.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“Think about it a little more.”

“Seems reasonable.” Kurt reached over and hugged him. “Congratulations! You’re amazing.” He let go of him and stood up. “I’m going to shower before I get my uniform on. I have to be at the school in a half hour.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt was surprised to see his dad in the stands sitting with Carole, Finn, and Sebastian. After the game, he and Sam met up with the other four.

“Dad!” Kurt wrapped his arms around Burt. “I didn’t know you were coming.”

“That’s because I wasn’t sure if I could make it and I wanted it to be a surprise if I did.”

“Well, it worked.”

“So, boys, I’ve ordered pizzas to be delivered to the house in 20 minutes so let’s head out.”

When they got out to the parking lot, Sebastian followed Carole to her car and Burt followed him to the Navigator. Kurt gave Burt a confused look.

“I just wanted to talk to you on the way home.”

“Climb in.”

“Carole said you had something to tell me.”

“Yes! I got in to the university. I got my acceptance letter today.”

“That’s great! I’m really proud of you. So, you’re certain that this is what you want to do? I know it’s been New York for as long as I can remember.”

“I do want to go to New York sometime. But this school is ranked really high and I’d rather not be in debt. I mean if I don’t make it as a performer, I don’t want to have so many bills that I can’t even consider studying something different. Or have to work two jobs just to pay my school loans and my bills.”

“Well, whatever you want. As long as you’re happy with your choice, I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks. I have something else to tell you.”

“That sounds more serious.”

“I really like Sebastian.”

“I knew that was coming. I saw it back around Thanksgiving. I asked you.”

“I know. I hadn’t really quite gotten over the hurt yet. But I am now and I have been since back before Christmas.”

“I appreciate you telling me this. Does this mean you’re going to ask him out?”

“Yes, I’m pretty sure I will. I do have to ask him one last thing before I decide. You wanted me to be honest with you, so there’s the honesty. I like him a lot, to the point of loving him. I won’t pressure him. Being with him is so different.”

“I’ve seen it, kiddo. You’re not tense around him. You don’t put on a show for him. You’re just yourself. It’s actually really nice to see. You’re like that with Sam too.”

“So, you’re not going to make him move out of my room and share with Sam or something?”

“No, Kurt. I told you. Carole talked some sense into me about the whole thing. I’m not sure the two of you could even get an apartment together in this town. Things aren’t easy for you like they would be for a straight couple. If you decide to ask him out, I will not make him switch rooms or anything. But if you end up breaking up, keep in mind that he’s still part of our family. You may end up having to share with Sam and he would get Sam’s room.”

“I understand. You said he can live here and that’s permanent regardless of whether he and I are dating or not.”

“Just let me know what you decide.”

“I will.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After finishing the pizzas, Sam, Finn, Burt, and Carole went down to watch a movie. Kurt opted to go upstairs and take another shower since he hadn’t gotten to take one after the game since they ate as soon as they came home. Plus, he was just tired and wanted some peace and quiet.

He got to his room and surprisingly Sebastian had beaten him to the shower. He came out a few minutes later.

“I thought I’d grab a quick shower, then you can take however long you’d like since I’m sure you’re going to need to keep from getting stiff muscles with games to cheer for three days in a row.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Kurt went in the bathroom and took a nice hot, but not too hot shower. He came back out and Sebastian was sitting on his side of the bed, leaned back against the headboard reading a book.

“Business or pleasure?” Kurt asked teasingly.

“Pleasure.”

Kurt smiled.

“Sit in the desk chair and I’ll rub your shoulders or try to. I’ve never given anyone a massage, but I’ll give it my best shot.” Sebastian put the book on his side shelf and walked over to Kurt’s desk.

Kurt sat down. Sebastian started rubbing his shoulders. Just his touch sent electrical tingles through Kurt’s body. He let Sebastian do whatever because it didn’t even matter because just being touched by him felt so good.

“Is this okay?”

“It’s great.”

He rubbed his shoulders for a few more minutes. “I don’t want to irritate your skin by rubbing anymore. That will just make you sore tomorrow.”

“Thank you.” He got up, turned the lights off in the bathroom and on the desk. He left the small salt lamp on the shelf by his bed on.

“Are you ready to go to sleep?”

“I’m ready to get in bed.”

They got in the bed. Kurt tried to steel himself up to tell Sebastian how he felt. He lay flat on his back for a few minutes and gathered his courage. He rolled onto his side facing Sebastian, who was lying on his back.

“Bas?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you make a decision about the offer from the university?”

“I did. I’m going to accept.”

“Really?” He tried to keep his excitement down, but didn’t really manage to.

“Yes.”

Kurt’s voice became much more serious. “There’s something I want to tell you.”

“Is there something wrong?”

Kurt laughed. “Nothing is wrong. Remember when you said it was hard to believe that things were so right?”

“Yes.”

“Well, they’re going right for me too. But I do want to tell you something.”

“Okay.”

“Can you turn over?”

He rolled over to face Kurt. Kurt reached out and gently stroked the side of Sebastian’s face. “Bas, I love you.”

Sebastian froze.

“Bas?”

He blinked.

He could feel tears streaming down Sebastian’s cheek. He wiped away the ones he could reach with his thumb.

“Do you mean it?”

“Yes, Bas. I love you. I’d really like you to be my boyfriend.”

“Why tell me now?”

“Because all along, I thought you were going back to Paris. I’ve liked you for a while, a long while. And I’ve known I was in love with you since before Christmas. But I didn’t want to pressure you. You were going through so much already. I’ll be sad if you don’t feel the same way, but it’s okay if you don’t. I won’t quit being your friend.”

“No one has ever loved me.”

“Well, I do. And I’d like you to be my boyfriend. Would it be okay if I held you?”

Sebastian propped up on his elbow. “How?”

“I’ll just lie on my back and you can put your head here,” Kurt rolled onto his back so that Sebastian could lay his head on his chest.

“Okay.”

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. It’s okay if you’d rather not.”

“I do want to.”

Kurt extended his arm above his head so that Sebastian could put his head on his chest. Once Sebastian had gotten closer, Kurt put his arm around Sebastian.

“I don’t know where to put my arm.”

“Just put it here.” Kurt arranged Sebastian’s arm so it was across his chest. He took Sebastian’s hand and intertwined their fingers. They just lay there in silence for a while. Kurt felt Sebastian relax. Not long afterward, he was sound asleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt opened his eyes to hear Sebastian humming quietly serenading him awake. He saw that he was holding a tray, so he slid up in the bed. He checked his phone and saw that it was only 5:45.

“Good morning. I made you the crepes I’ve been wanting to make for you.”

Sebastian carried the tray over to the bed and put it in the middle of the bed. And sat down across from Kurt.

“They look fantastic.” He took a bite. “Oh, God. That’s good. We’re sharing right?” Kurt put a bite on the fork and offered it to Sebastian.

He leaned forward and took the offered bite.

Kurt continued to eat and feed Sebastian until the food was gone. “That was really good. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Sebastian took the tray and put it on the dresser. He shut and locked the bedroom door quietly. He walked back across the room and got back in bed with Kurt. “Last night…”

“Last night?”

“Was I dreaming?”

Kurt scooted closer so they were sitting side by side. He offered his hand to Sebastian, who took it.

“If you’re asking me if I told you that I love you, you weren’t dreaming.”

“I woke up really early this morning and I was sleeping on your chest and your arm was around me. I thought maybe I had somehow imagined the whole thing and I had snuggled you without your permission.”

“It was my idea.” Kurt slid back down in the bed. “You can snuggle back up if you want. We don’t have anywhere to be this early in the morning.”

Sebastian slid down in the bed and hesitantly moved toward Kurt.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to.”

“That’s not it at all. I want to. I really do. It’s just…”

“It’s new and scary.”

“A little.”

“It’s new for me too.”

“I do want to be your boyfriend, like I said last night.”

“Yes?”

Sebastian nodded.

Kurt kissed the top of his head. “I’m glad. If you’re concerned about my dad, don’t be. He already knows. I told him that I was going to ask you.”

“So, he’s okay with it?”

“Yes.”

“And I can still live here with you?”

Kurt tipped Sebastian’s chin up and moved so he could look him in the eyes.   “This is your home. If you don’t want to be my boyfriend now or at some time in the future, this will still be your home. If you no longer want to share a room with me, Sam can move in here with me, and you can have his room. We won’t ever make you leave. I mean some day, you may want to live somewhere else, like when you graduate from college and get a job somewhere, but this will still be the place to come home for holidays.”

“This is all so strange.”

“I know. But it’s real, Bas. I’ll ask you one more time, just so you can answer completely freely knowing that this is your home no matter what you say. Will you be my boyfriend?”

“Yes. 100% yes. I’ve liked you for a long, long time. Back before Thanksgiving.”

Kurt smiled. He interlaced his fingers with Sebastian’s and pulled his hand to his mouth and kissed Sebastian’s knuckles.

“Mmm. And you’re sure this is okay with your dad?”

“I’m positive. He and I have had more than one talk about my potential future dating. He came to his senses and realized that gay teens are not safe expressing their love for each other in this town. He somewhat bemoaned my no longer being a child, but he supports me and wants me to be safe. He’d rather me bring my boyfriend home and be safe than to get hurt somewhere because of homophobic people.”

“Alright.”

They two of them lay in that position for close to a half hour.

Kurt held Sebastian close. “Would it be okay if I kissed you? You can say no, if you’re not ready. I’ll wait.”

“Can we sit up?”

“Sure.”

They sat back up. Kurt sat right next to Sebastian and offered his hand again. Sebastian took it.

“I know I play at being flirty and teasing, but I’ve never, well, you know.”

“I know, Bas. Neither have I.”

“But you’ve kissed people.”

“I’ve been kissed by people, yes. But this is different. I won’t pressure you. We can wait. I really do love you.” He pulled Sebastian’s hand up to his mouth and kissed his knuckles.

“What if I’m terrible at it?”

“At kissing?”

He nodded.

“Well, they say practice make perfect, right? Bas, it’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect at it. We’ll learn what we like and what the other person likes over time.”

Sebastian rotated a bit and Kurt followed his lead. He leaned toward Kurt and Kurt matched his movement. He wanted Sebastian to feel like this was his choice. Sebastian closed the distance and lightly pressed his lips to Kurt’s. He pulled back a little and smiled. “Okay?”

“Definitely.” Kurt smiled back at him.

Sebastian leaned forward again and this time Kurt met him and they kissed. He pulled back again and had a huge smile on his face. “No wonder people like kissing so much.”

“Well, it’s much more enjoyable if you actually like the person you’re kissing. Kissing you is amazing.”

“Can I kiss you again?” Sebastian asked.

“You can kiss me as much as you want, whenever you want.”

Sebastian leaned forward and Kurt met him. Their lips met less tentatively and Kurt pushed in a little more. Sebastian’s hesitancy faded away. He reached out for Kurt and put his hand on Kurt’s shoulder and let it slide down Kurt’s arm. Kurt reached up and put his hand on the side of Sebastian’s face and gently stroked down his cheek with his thumb.

“That could be a offer you might regret,” Sebastian teased. “I really like kissing you.”

“Mmm. Well, the feeling’s mutual. It’d easier if we face each other, though. Can I sit in your lap? Or we could lay down.”

“I don’t know. Um. You can sit in my lap if you want.”

“Only if you to want me.”

“Oh, I do. I’m just nervous.”

“Me too. I’ve never sat in anyone’s lap. It’s new for both of us.”

Kurt got up and moved. Sebastian propped the pillows against the headboard and sat against them. Kurt straddled his lap, kneeling.

“Okay?”

“Yes. Scoot forward some though or it will still be hard to kiss you.”

Kurt scooted closer. He wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s neck. Sebastian responded by wrapping his arms around Kurt’s waist.

“Still okay?”

“Definitely. And what you said is true for me as well. You can kiss me. I want you to. You don’t have to ask each time.”

Kurt leaned forward slightly and kissed him again. This was so completely different from his other kissing experiences. He pulled back gently, leaned his head to the side, nuzzled into Sebastian’s neck, and just sat like that, holding him. “Holding you and being held by you is amazing.” He kissed Sebastian gently on the neck.

Sebastian shivered.

“Still okay?”

“Yes. That just feels really good.”

Kurt kissed up his neck toward his ear. Sebastian let his head tip to the side giving Kurt more access to his neck. Kurt smiled and kissed his neck again. He slipped his hand back to the side of Sebastian’s face and ran his thumbs down his cheeks and one thumb across his lips. Sebastian kissed his thumb as it slid across. Kurt leaned in and resumed the kissing. Sebastian was as into it as Kurt was by this point. His hesitancy about it being real had subsided at least to the point of allowing himself to fully enjoy the experience. Kurt scooted closer, even though there wasn’t much closer to scoot.

Kurt gently slipped his hands back and ran his fingers through Sebastian’s hair. They kissed for at least ten minutes, just gentle back and forth kissing they both enjoyed. Kurt got up the nerve to try something. He just barely pushed his tongue between his lips and gently licked Sebastian’s lower lip, which caused Sebastian to moan. They continued kissing and occasionally Kurt would just barely lick Sebastian’s lip again and every time, Sebastian moaned. Kurt quickly realized that Sebastian moaning was a huge turn on.

It didn’t take a whole lot longer for Sebastian to get up the nerve to try what Kurt was doing. And another ten minutes in, they were tentatively exploring each other’s mouths. Kurt pulled back a little and gently kissed Sebastian, and then rested his head on his shoulder again.

“No wonder the couples at school are always trying to find places to sneak off and kiss,” Kurt said, continuing the kissing by kissing the side of Sebastian’s neck again.

Sebastian hands slipped down Kurt’s back from where they had been when Kurt leaned in more letting Sebastian pull him closer. Sebastian’s hand accidentally grazed against Kurt’s skin where his t-shirt had ridden up a bit. This time it was Kurt who moaned. Sebastian moved his hand quickly.

“It’s fine. Really. I’ll take my shirt off if you want me to,” Kurt whispered in his ear.

That flustered Sebastian because he didn’t know whether to say yes or no.

“You’re not pressuring me. I offered.” He whispered between continuing to place gentle kisses on Sebastian’s neck.

“Are you sure?”

Kurt stopped the neck kisses and pulled back a bit so he could look Sebastian in the eyes. “I want to ask you something or a few things.”

“Okay.”

“Do you find me attractive?”

“Yes.”

“Have you enjoyed kissing me?”

“Yes.” He pressed up and kissed Kurt and smiled.

“Do you want to take my shirt off?”

“Yeah,” he said hesitantly.

“Are you so hesitant because you’re not sure of your own answer? Or are you hesitant because you think I’m only doing it because you want me to and I’m not sure if I want to?”

“Oh, I want you to. I just don’t want you to feel like I’m asking you and you have to just because I said yes.”

“Okay. Our first relationship communication issue – if one of us offers, that means the person offering is 100% okay with the offer. So, just a silly example. If I offer to do your laundry, then I am 100% willing to do it for you. Not so you’ll do mine for me later and not so you’ll owe me something. An offer is a freely given action.”

“So, you offered to take your shirt off.”

“Exactly. So, you can either accept the offer, delay accepting the offer, or reject the offer. All of which are 100% valid choices and I will not be angry or upset with your choice. I will not manipulate you. Look up, please.” Sebastian looked into his eyes. “I know that you don’t know how to be loved. I know that no one has ever freely given you love. I’m not going to be one of those people who manipulates you. I’m not perfect. I know that. I’m sure I will do things that frustrate you, but I won’t intentionally hurt you or manipulate you.” He leaned forward and kissed Sebastian. “Real love doesn’t do that. I know that you don’t trust easily, but I will do my best to be worthy of your trust.” He kissed him again. “So, don’t offer what you aren’t ready to give freely. And if I offer you something, know that it is absolutely freely given with nothing expected in return. Back to the shirt – I offered to take mine off. If you accept the offer, I will take it off. But I won’t expect you to do the same unless you want to. I’m not making an indirect request implying that since I’m willing to take mine off that you need to take yours off too. If I want something from you, I will ask you. And you are free to say ‘yes’, ‘not yet’, or ‘no’. And I will accept your answer and I won’t leave you or abandon you.”

Sebastian was crying by that point.

“Oh, Bas.” He wiped the tears away and kissed him again. “I know this is a lot for you to take in. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. Do you want some time to think?”

“No. Stay.”

“Always.”

Kurt wiped the remaining tears from his face and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s neck again and leaned against him and resumed their gentle kissing. Sebastian wrapped his arms around Kurt and held him close. This time it was Sebastian who paused their kissing. He moved and whispered in Kurt’s ear.

“Yes.”

Kurt unwrapped his arms, sat back so he was sitting on Sebastian’s lap again and pulled his t-shirt off over his head and put it next to him on the bed.

“God, you’re gorgeous.”

“I’m glad you think so,” Kurt said.

Sebastian’s eyes wandered. “You hide those beautiful arms in all those clothes you wear and the baggy t-shirts you sleep in fall to your elbows. Even your cheer outfit covers them.”

Kurt blushed.

“No one’s ever told you how attractive you are.”

Kurt shook his head.

“Well, you are gorgeous. Inside and out.”

“You can touch me. I didn’t offer to take me shirt off so you could only stare at me.”

“Well, the view is certainly lovely.”

Kurt refrained from rolling his eyes, doing his best to accept the fact that Sebastian did find him attractive.

“I’m going to have to stretch out for a minute. My feet are falling asleep,” Kurt said sliding off Sebastian’s lap. He lay down on his side and flexed his feet to get some feeling back.

Sebastian offered him his pillow back. He stuck it under his head. Sebastian put his pillow back down to lie on it. He faced Kurt. He scooted closer and kissed him. He felt like asking again, but he held back his doubt and reached out and put his hand on Kurt’s upper arm. He made a decision and sat up just long enough to pull his shirt off. He lay right back down and kissed Kurt again.

“You have freckles.”

“I do.”

“I like them.”

Sebastian laughed. “I’m glad. I think they’re pretty permanently attached.”

“Can I?”

“Sure.”

Kurt reached out and ran his fingers over a few of them. He moved his hand back to the side of Sebastian’s face and brushed his lips against Sebastian’s, and he responded by scooting forward and kissing Kurt passionately.

“You’re a really good kisser,” he said between kisses.

“Thank you?”

Sebastian pulled back a bit and asked “Why the question at the end?”

“Oh, well you’re the only person I’ve ever kissed like this.”

Sebastian looked confused.

“Turn over and be the little spoon.”

“The what?”

“Just turn and lie on your other side.”

Sebastian flipped over. Kurt scooted up behind him. “I’m going to answer your questions. I want to get whatever questions you have about my past answered so we can leave them in the past.”

“What do you mean?”

“You seemed surprised that I said that you’re the only person that I’ve kissed like this.”

“Well, yeah because you said you had dated a girl for a week and you dated Blaine for 6 or 7 months.”

“I’ve been kissed by 3 people besides you. The first one was Brittany. I was completely out of my comfort zone and she broke the ice by kissing me. We kissed for maybe 5-10 minutes. Just kisses, no tongues. No passion. Just mostly her kissing me and me not being into it.”

“Okay.”

“The second person. I’m not sure what to say about that, other than it wasn’t expected or wanted.”

“Okay.”

“And the third person was Blaine. He also kissed me unexpectedly sitting in one of the study rooms at Dalton. I sang ‘Blackbird’ in Warblers rehearsal. He said it ‘moved him’. He put his hand on mine, leaned over the table, and just kissed me out of the blue. Looking back on it, it was very theatrical. He asked me to date him. I came back to McKinley not long after that. He kissed me a few times when he’d drop me off after a date - just a brief kiss. The week before he went to Scandals with you, we were alone in his house in his room. I asked him about whether he ever had any urges to do anything else. He told me that masturbation was his solution to that. He said he wanted me to be ‘comfortable’ and jumped up on the bed and gave me a peck on the lips and went right back to dancing around his room.”

“What?”

“I was as confused as you are. And then not even a week later, it was ‘let’s do it’ in the back of Carole’s car.”

“That’s insane.”

“Exactly my take on the whole thing as well. So, now is the time for you to ask questions if you want. I’m all for full disclosure, but the closure part is what I really want.”

“So, you mentioned the couples at your school sneaking off to kiss and stuff.”

“Yes.”

“You never did any of that?”

“Blaine never touched me at school, other than a hug the day he enrolled. Sometimes he sat next to me in Glee or lunch, but not really anything more than that.” Kurt snuggled up tight behind Sebastian. “Any other questions?”

“But you loved him?”

“I did. But not the way I love you. I think I loved the idea of him. The idea that someone could accept me and not belittle everything I enjoyed. I was at my lowest low when I met him. I was being physically assaulted on a daily basis at school. I had never met another gay teen boy. He had similar interests. Our conversations were always about something, about fashion or about musicals or about movies. He never actually let me get close to him. I never met his parents. He never really talked about them. In the end after it was all over, I spent a lot of time thinking. My dad made a remark about it when I told him how I felt about you. He said that I’m myself with you – that I’m not trying to keep up this image. I never really felt relaxed around Blaine. It was, I guess, sort of what you think of when someone you feel the need to impress walks in a room – like you’re sitting and studying and doing the right thing, but one of the teachers walks in and you feel the need to sit up straighter, to look like you’re taking notes on what you’re reading or something.”

“Like what you’re already doing isn’t enough.”

“Exactly. He was always in dapper Blaine mode. And I felt like I had to match that level of togetherness for lack of a better word coming to mind right now. I would have never answered the door in my pajamas if I knew he was the one ringing the doorbell.”

“And with me?”

“You know the real me. We’ve talked about everything - our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our nightmares. And you stayed. I’m not afraid to be myself with you. I trust you.”

“I trust you too. It’s really scary for me. I’ve not trusted anyone since… I’m not even sure how long it’s been.”

Kurt kissed the back of his neck. “I already told you that I will do everything I can to be worthy of that trust and not hurt you.”

“I believe you.”

“So, we can close that book? No more wondering about what happened with other people? I’m not banning you from asking me something later. I just want to answer anything else that would put your mind at ease.”

Sebastian wiggled and Kurt let go. He turned over and faced Kurt and immediately began kissing him. He spoke between kisses, “How will I ever get anything else done when this is so amazing? You’re amazing.”

“Well, I suggest we do as much of our schoolwork during the week and then spend our weekends doing things together that we enjoy.”

“Like kissing.”

“Yeah.”

“And snuggling?”

“That too. And also going places that aren’t Lima. I know you like museums. There have to be some decent ones in Ohio. And once it warms up, we can do things like go to the lake and have picnics.”

Sebastian kissed him. “Sounds fun. I think I’m going to change my schedule though. I’m going to leave on Monday mornings. I’d rather stay here as much as I possibly can. I can make it to school on time if I leave around 6:00. I’ll just pack everything in the car the night before. I’ll make some kind of breakfast I can eat while driving. And I’ll just get up when you do, put my uniform on, drive there, park, and walk into class.”

“You are so sweet.” Kurt kissed him. “We have an extra day this weekend because there’s no school Monday.”

“Mmm. Another day to kiss you.”

Kurt kissed him again.

“I do have some other questions. You said you told your dad, but besides not making me switch rooms, what happens?”

“What do you mean?”

“Can we openly be a couple or only in this room?”

“Oh. Openly as far as I know. I’ll make sure that’s the case. He seemed to be sincere about me wanting to feel comfortable in my own home. This is your home too. He and Carole cuddle up. Rachel hangs all over Finn. Sam hasn’t dated anyone since he moved in with us, but I would assume that he would be openly affectionate with someone if he were dating.”

“What constitutes ‘openly affectionate’?”

“Hugging, handholding, snuggling, cuddling, kissing-no tongues – those all seem reasonable to me. They’re all things that Finn does.”

“Okay. Did you tell Finn?”

“No. I only told my dad because he had asked me to tell him if I started dating someone.”

“You said Finn isn’t really comfortable with you being gay.”

“His lack of comfort isn’t my problem or yours. We were making progress and then things have slipped backwards. Things were going well at Christmas, but since school started back up, he’s been more aloof. I would guess that Rachel has more to do with that than his latent homophobia, but please don’t pay attention to him if he says anything negative. Do tell me or Carole or my dad because they won’t put up with it. Like Sam said, he banned him from the house once before. He won’t throw Finn out, but I’m certain he will face some sort of consequences. Being grounded to his room is the most likely one.”

“I don’t want to cause trouble.” He broke eye contact.

“Bas, look at me, please.”

He did.

“Being ourselves is not causing trouble. Finn being even a small bit homophobic is problematic. He needs to come to terms with whatever he still has going on and get over it. He’s part of this family and so are we. He wouldn’t think it was okay for us to act like he was in the wrong to like girls. He needs to behave the same way he wants to be treated. And you aren’t any trouble.” He kissed him on the nose.

Sebastian laughed. “That’s what you think.” He wrapped his arm around Kurt and pulled him close. He kissed him on the shoulder. Then up his neck.

“Oh, God, you’re right. That feels really good.”

“Mmm hmm. It’s fun to do too. Your neck is very kissable.”

“No hickeys.”

“Alright.”

“Well, none that can be seen with my clothes on.”

Sebastian laughed. “I can handle that.”

“Knock, knock,” Carole said as she knocked on the door.

Chapter Text

“Just a minute,” Kurt said. He grabbed his t-shirt and put it on and so did Sebastian. Kurt opened the door.

“Good morning, Carole.”

“Morning, honey.” She noticed the breakfast tray on the dresser. “Well, that answers my question. Let me take that.” She stepped in and grabbed the tray. “I just wanted to see if you wanted anything for breakfast.”

“Thanks for the offer,” Sebastian said. “I had been wanting to make crèpes for Kurt, so I surprised him this morning.”

“That was sweet. Are you guys sticking around? Going out?”

“We hadn’t made any plans yet. We’ve both got some schoolwork left and work to do at the shop at some point this weekend. We’ll let you know if we decide to go somewhere.”

“Alright. Sam and Finn said something about a gaming marathon weekend at Puck’s. So, that should free up the family room if a movie was on your list of potential activities.”

“Well, it might be now. Usually we just steer clear of the family room. I’ve thought about seeing how Dad would feel about a TV for our room. Bas and I always end up watching movies on my laptop because we can never use the family room.”

“I’ll talk to him about it. He knows you wouldn’t watch it instead of doing your homework, so I bet he’d be fine with it. Enjoy relaxing or study hard, whatever you decide.” She took the tray and went back downstairs.

Kurt shut the door and relocked it.

“Does she know?” Sebastian asked. He wrapped his arms around Kurt.

Kurt responded by wrapping his arms around Sebastian. “I assume so, but I’ll tell her myself at some point too.” He tipped his head slightly and kissed Sebastian. “So we have three days together.”

“Mmm.” He kissed Kurt again. “Well, let’s be responsible students and finish the last of our homework, and then find someplace cool to go tomorrow. A lot of stuff is closed on Monday probably.”

“Good plan. Can you focus if we snuggle while we do our homework?”

“Let’s forget my first idea and just go back to snuggling and kissing. We can do our homework Monday early. We’ll get up like it’s a regular school day and do it then.”

“You just want to get back in the bed and cuddle.”

“I do.” He kissed Kurt and started walking backwards. “I absolutely want to kiss and cuddle.”

“For a few minutes. We really do need to be responsible and get our work done.”

By then Sebastian had reached the edge of the bed and he quickly rotated them and plopped Kurt onto the bed.

Kurt took his shirt off and climbed under the covers. Sebastian was only a few seconds behind. He lay down on his back right next to Kurt, but he didn’t say anything.

“Remember the communication agreement. You can offer anything, so long as you’re willing to accept ‘yes’, ‘not yet’, or ‘no’ as an answer and you can ask anything with the same answers as options. I don’t want us to be the kind of couple that stews and frets because we’re too afraid to ask or offer.”

“So, if I ask for something and you say ‘no’, am I allowed to ask why?”

“Sure. That’s part of communicating. More than likely I would just tell you why when I answered. I’ll tell you up front that I will more than likely always say ‘no’ to being restrained in anyway. So, tying me up to the bed or handcuffing me is pretty much an automatic ‘no’. I’ve been left in lockers for hours before and there is just no way I can voluntarily allow myself to be unable to move like that.”

“People have been awful to you.”

“That’s true, but none of that is your fault, but some of it may push some things you might want to do into the ‘no’ category for me.”

“Just to ease your mind, that kind of thing doesn’t interest me. Even if you’d willingly let me do it, the fact that you couldn’t participate would ruin the enjoyment for me. If and when we ever get to the point of being that intimate, I absolutely want us both to be into whatever we’re doing.”

“Well, then, it’s likely you’ll either get a ‘yes’ or a ‘not yet’ from me if you ask for something.” He turned on his side. “So more kissing or more cuddling or did you have something else in mind?”

“Yes. Last night, I rubbed your shoulders.”

“Which felt great.”

“I just wondered if I could do it again? But with you lying on your stomach and I sit on you and rub your shoulders.”

“Sure. But use some lotion. Here, let me grab it.” Kurt hopped out of bed and grabbed a bottle and put it on the bed between the pillows and got back in the bed.”

“Lotion?”

“Otherwise it will pinch. Personal experience from trying to massage the cramps out of my calf muscles before.”

“Okay. Turn over.” He stacked Kurt’s pillow on his and turned them to get them out of the way.

“You don’t have to use a lot. If it starts to pinch, I’ll tell you.”

Sebastian straddled Kurt and then put a little bit of the lotion on his hands. He started rubbing Kurt’s back and the moaning started.

“Ow!”

Sebastian immediately stopped rubbing. “Did I pinch you?”

“No, you found a muscle I didn’t realize that I had pulled. Rub that area again. Just go slow and work the knot out.”

Sebastian did as he was asked. Touching Kurt set him on fire. After he had worked the knot out, he leaned over and started kissing Kurt’s neck and shoulders.

“Can I do you?”

“I’ve not been flipping and cheering.”

“I know. That doesn’t change my question. Can I do you?”

“Yes.”

“Trade me places.”

Sebastian let Kurt up and lay down in the middle of the bed. Kurt straddled him.

“There’s freckles on this side too.” Kurt ran his fingers gently across Sebastian’s back. “I like them.”

Sebastian laughed.

Kurt put some lotion on his hands and started to massage Sebastian’s back. After he finished, he started kissing the freckles. Sebastian squirmed a bit.

“Should I stop?”

“No. It feels amazing, just a tiny bit tickly.”

“Will you turn back over?” Kurt raised up just enough that Sebastian could flip over onto his back. Kurt leaned down and propped himself up on his forearms. “Kissing like this okay?”

“Kissing you any way is fantastic.” Sebastian lifted up and kissed Kurt and put his head back down. He put his hands on the sides of Kurt’s face, slightly around the sides and pulled him down gently so he could kiss him more easily. “You’re going to get a crick in your back and need another back rub.”

Kurt put the back of his right hand to his forehead. “Oh, whatever will I do,” he feigned the horror of needing another back rub.

Sebastian laughed and pushed the backs of Kurt’s arms so they slid up and he fell onto Sebastian’s chest. “That’s a little better.” He used his hands and pushed Kurt’s knees back making him fall the rest of the way on top of him. “There.” He wrapped his arms around Kurt. “Okay?”

“As long as you can still breathe. Aren’t I squishing you?” Kurt laughed.

“Mmm. Yes, and I’ve decided that I like being squished by you.” He laughed and kissed him.

“Well, I think I like squishing you, as long as it doesn’t hurt.”

Sebastian wiggled around a little. “Oh, my God, Kurt.”

“Bas. You can’t wiggle like that.”

Sebastian laughed. “So, that’s a ‘not yet’?”

“I don’t know. Part of me says go for it.”

“Yeah. But I don’t want us to regret anything. You can move and lie next to me if you want. I wasn’t trying to pressure you or start something we hadn’t discussed. I was just trying to get more comfortable.”

“Bas, look at me. I know. We were kissing and we were horsing around and it just happened. It’s fine.” Kurt pulled himself back up onto his knees and started kissing him again. “Now, we know. We’ll learn as we go.” More kisses. “I love you and some silliness in the bed isn’t a problem at all.”

“Okay.”

Kurt moved to the side. He lifted Sebastian’s arm and laid his head on Sebastian’s chest reversing their position from how they had slept. Kurt took a deep breath and closed his eyes and relaxed. He put his arm across Sebastian’s chest and his hand up along his neck and ran his fingers through his hair.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

When Carole texted to let them know that lunch was ready, they went downstairs still wearing their pajamas. Burt was at the table when they walked into the dining room. Kurt and Sebastian sat down to eat.

“Thanks for making us lunch. You didn’t have to,” Kurt said.

“Well, we wanted to eat with you. You boys are all so busy that it’s hard to find a time when everyone can be together, especially with a basketball game nearly every Friday night. And there’s one tonight and tomorrow night as well.”

“That’s true. I get a 3-day weekend with three basketball games to cheer for. At least both of the away games are close by.”

“Carole and I are planning to go to tonight’s game. I’ll make sure that Sue lets you come home with us tonight and with Sebastian tomorrow night.”

“Thank you.”

“So, it is slouch-around-the-house day? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you come to lunch in your pajamas unless you were sick.”

“I’m not sick and we were just relaxing. We each have a little bit of homework left, which we’ll do after lunch. Tomorrow we’re going to go somewhere like a museum or something. It’s too cold to do much of anything outside.”

“I thought you had your lessons on Sunday morning.”

“I normally do, but I didn’t want to drive to Cincinnati that early after a late game.”

“Makes sense.”

They finished eating fairly quickly. Kurt told Sebastian that he’d do the clean up.

“I’m sure you have more work than I do. Go ahead and get started. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

Sebastian went upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After he finished the dishes, Kurt went in the living room, which is where his dad and Carole had gone. He sat down in the chair across from them.

“So, I asked him last night like I told you I was going to. And he said ‘yes’. So, now, we’re dating.”

“Oh, honey. That’s wonderful. He’s a sweetie.”

“I just need to double-check that you are serious about being adult about this. I won’t have him caught in the crossfire. He’s just getting used to the fact that there are two adults who actually like him. I don’t want this to go up in flames because you start giving him laser eyes if he sits too close or talking about where you keep your shotgun if he kisses me.”

Carole laughed.

“I mean it, Dad. I really do love him and I won’t have you ruin it for me by making him afraid to be himself.”

“I get it. I told you Carole knocked some sense into me. I’d appreciate it if you keep it like PG-13 in the public areas of the house. But I’m not going to give him evil looks or anything. The two of you are both 18. What you do is your own business.”

“So, for real, if you walk in this room and he and I are sitting on the couch kissing, you’re not going to clear your throat and act like we’re being publicly indecent?”

“Define kissing.”

“Oh, dear God… Carole - your turn. I’m going to go do my homework. And you can explain to Dad what kissing is. I was pretty sure he had gotten the hang of it by now, but obviously he’s suffering from memory loss, and he must need some lessons. I’ll leave you to that.” Kurt got up and flounced toward the stairs.

Carole was cackling so hard that she could barely catch her breath. She leaned towards Burt and kissed him. “You heard him. I’m supposed to give you kissing lessons.”

Burt rolled his eyes and kissed her back.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt walked into the bedroom and found Sebastian sitting at his desk working on some type of written assignment that he was typing up on his laptop.

Kurt grabbed his agenda and looked to see what he had left to do. He grabbed the book he was reading for English and stopped behind Sebastian as he was walking toward the chair. He leaned over and wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s neck and kissed him right below his ear.

“Mmm.” Sebastian turned his head and looked up.

Kurt kissed him on the lips gently and stood back up. He sat in the chair and read the assigned pages. He got up, walked behind Sebastian, pulled out his laptop and answered the required questions sitting at the vanity. He moved on to other assignments. Each time he walked behind Sebastian, he did something physically affectionate. A little less than two hours later, Kurt had finished. As Kurt attempted to walk back past the desk to put his book away, Sebastian put his arm out and blocked him from walking past. He wrapped his arm around Kurt and drew him closer. He pulled him down into his lap.

“I’m almost done. Why don’t you start looking for some place fun to go tomorrow?”

Kurt leaned down a bit and kissed him. “Sure.” He put his last book away and took his laptop and sat on the bed and started searching.

About 10 minutes later, Sebastian joined him. He scooted up right next to Kurt. “Did you find anything?”

“Some museums. The zoo in Columbus is open, but it’s pretty cold outside.”

“Let’s just bookmark the places you found. We’ll look through them later, okay?”

“What do you want to do instead?”

“Snuggle? Can you be the little spoon this time?”

“Sure.” Kurt bookmarked the tabs he had opened and shut the computer down. He put it on the desk and got back in bed.

“Shirts on or off?”

“Off, please?” Sebastian slipped his off and lay down.

“Sure.” Kurt took his off as well and got back in bed. He lay on his side.

Sebastian scooted up behind him. He slipped his arm under Kurt’s pillow and pulled the comforter up over their shoulders. He slid his other arm under Kurt’s and wrapped it around Kurt’s chest.

Kurt interlaced their fingers and pushed back just a little to close the remaining tiny gap. He pulled Sebastian’s hand up to his mouth and kissed his palm. “So what do you think? You like being the big spoon?”

He kissed Kurt’s neck. “I do. I liked being the little spoon too.”

“We can take turns. Are you tired? Do you actually want to nap?”

“No. I want to snuggle and talk. We always talk. Now, we can snuggle while talk, right?”

“Definitely.” Kurt let go of Sebastian’s hand for a second and reached for his phone. He set an alarm and put it back on the shelf. “Just in case we do fall asleep. Coach Sue will have my head on a platter if I’m not on that bus on time.”

“I hate the way she treats you.” Sebastian slid his thumb across the part of Kurt’s chest that his hand was up against. “You don’t deserve it.” He kissed the back of his neck.

“I really don’t mind the home games too much. But I wish I weren’t on the travel squad. But you’re coming tonight and that will make it better.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Since it was a late game, Carole decided to serve dinner before the game. Kurt and Sebastian had spent the afternoon cuddled up talking in bed. They came down to eat dressed and ready to go. It was just the four of them for dinner like it had been for lunch. Finn and all of the Glee guys were planning to take a break from their gaming to attend the basketball game, which was just across town at Thurston.

Kurt and Sebastian cleared the table while Carole packed up the leftovers.

The four of them headed out in Carole’s car to drop Kurt off. After Kurt got on the Cheerios’ bus, Sebastian was in the backseat alone on the drive to Thurston.

“Kurt told us this morning that the two of you are dating now,” Burt said.

“Yes. That’s true. He’s my first boyfriend. I’ve liked him since way back. He’s amazing.”

“Look, we both know that you’ve never had a reason to trust any adults, but we’re here for you, if you ever want to talk to us. I may be a bit codgery, but I’ll do my best. Carole’s a great listener and has straightened my thinking out more than a few times.” Burt laughed. “By the way, you’ve done a good job on the books.”

“Thank you. I haven’t told either of you yet, but I applied to the same college that Kurt did for early admission. I didn’t tell him when I did it. He didn’t know. He talked about the school and the cost and I did a lot of calculations and realized that going to school there wouldn’t cost me anymore than it would to go back to Paris to go to school. I just wanted to see if I might have another option.”

“Is that what the envelope you got was about?” Carole asked.

“It was. I got in and I was offered a $5000 scholarship. I’m going to accept the offer.”

“Now things make more sense,” Burt said.

“What do you mean?” Sebastian asked.

“I asked Kurt if he liked you a while back, maybe at Thanksgiving, maybe before. I’m not sure. He told me that he wouldn’t ask you out when you wanted to go back to Paris so badly.”

“Mostly at that point, I wanted out from under my father’s thumb desperately. My only positive thoughts then were that once school ended, I could at least go back to Paris and get a job and not be so broke that I had to wonder if I could buy soap. I’ve never had much, but I always found a way to work for what I needed. But my father had my documents. I hated my life so much back then. So, I can see why he thought I wanted to go back to Paris. Life there was hard, very hard. But it was a life I was familiar with.”

“I could have sworn you said that you could go to college for free or practically free.”

“That’s true, but I’d have to pay for my room and my food. I’d have to buy my books and school supplies before school started.”

“I thought you’d move back home,” Burt said.

“‘Home’ is a nice word. It means a place where you’re wanted and your house is the only place that has ever come close to being ‘home’. I told you that my mother owns a flat with two bedrooms. She rents one bedroom out to a student all year, which means from the beginning of September to the beginning of July in France. Whenever I was home from boarding school, I had to pay for my own food, any clothes I wore, and I saved what I could so I could buy things for school like paper and pencils and shampoo. But in order to live with her all school year, I’d have to take the place of her student tenant and pay the $800 a month rent that she charges per month. That’s why I said I did the calculations. It’s just about the same. I can stay here and go to school and live with Kurt, or with someone else if he doesn’t want to room with me, and it will cost me the same as it would in Paris. But here, I at least have the chance of having a decent roommate.”

“Oh sweetie, your mother sounds like she needs help.”

“I’m sure she does, but she’s fine with her life, so her seeking out help is not going to happen. She doesn’t have to work and she can do her own thing and she’s good with that. She didn’t want me. She still doesn’t want me. She won’t care one way or the other whether I ever go back. The only reason she didn’t put me up for adoption was because she got my father to buy her that flat and pay for my care. She used the money he sent to buy me food and a few clothes until I went to boarding school, but she kept the vast majority of it for herself. I’m not sure how much money, but he thought he was paying for the au pair and she was letting the au pair live in my room in exchange for watching me, no actual cash was ever given to the au pair. So he sent her money and she kept most, if not all, for herself.”

“So, Robert paid for the flat, but to live there you’d have to pay $800?”

“That’s right. She bought herself a lifetime of easy living by keeping me. That’s literally the only reason she didn’t put me up for adoption. And before you think that I’m making assumptions and that she actually has any maternal instincts, I know this because she told me so, repeatedly.”

“That’s awful.”

“It is what it is. It was just life. But now things are really different. And you guys are the reason it’s different. I know you two and Kurt say things like ‘It’s no big deal.’ But you just don’t understand that it’s a HUGE deal to me.”

Burt pulled into the Thurston parking lot and found a parking spot. “You’re not dating him out of some sense of guilt or misplaced loyalty are you?” Burt asked.

“No, not at all. I feel differently about him than I’ve ever felt about anyone else. I’ve never loved anyone, but I’m pretty sure that’s how I feel about him. He’s amazing and crazy and a lot of fun. And Sam is all of those things and he and I get along great. So, it’s not just that Kurt’s the only person whose company I enjoy. I get along with Jeff too. He’s the blond Warbler.”

“Right,” Carole said.

“Jeff and Sam are my friends. I’m closer to Sam in some ways and Jeff in others. But Kurt is different. How I feel about him is different. I’ve spent most of my life just trying to stay afloat and not attract attention. Education was what I saw as my key to escaping the life I had. I never focused on interpersonal relationships, other than how to be charming or prickly, depending on the situation, both serving to deflect any unwanted interest in my personal life. Maybe you and I can talk a little during the game, Carole.”

“Sure. We can sit away from the crowd and talk. Let’s head inside. The game starts in about 10 minutes.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The New Directions guys showed up and Burt sat with them. Carole and Sebastian went higher up in the bleachers and sat by themselves. They spent most of the game talking. Sebastian opened up about a lot of things to Carole.

“I think the thing I’m really struggling with is that he wants to be with me. I struggled with that initially when he kept trying to be my friend. And just being friends with him has been really great. He’s never been judgmental about my past. He didn’t even criticize my bad choices last semester. He doesn’t play mind games with people. I’m just not used to that.”

“Sweetie, he really cares about you. You know that, right?”

“I do. He told me.”

“So, you said you’re pretty sure that you love him. So, let me ask you a few things. You seen other guys you found physically attractive, I’m assuming?”

Sebastian nodded shyly.

“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. But that feeling when you see someone attractive that makes you think you might like to see them wearing less than they’re wearing, that type of attraction is more along the lines of sexual attraction or lust. You like what you see. It’s attractive and attention grabbing.”

He nodded.

“Then you mentioned Sam and Jeff. When Sam or Jeff walk into a room you’re in, how does that make you feel?”

“A little more relaxed. Since I’ve not gotten close with many people, having one of them around gives me this ‘at least there’s one person to talk to’ kind of feeling. Like I’m not alone. I like talking to both of them.”

“So, let’s just play pretend for a minute. Pretend that Jeff and Sam are both confirmed gay. Would that change how you see either one of them?”

“In this pretend game do I know Kurt?”

“No.”

“Well, if I was 100% certain that Sam was gay or bi, I might be willing to date him. He’s really nice and we get along. He’s attractive and kind. He’s not conceited and wouldn’t be concerned that I wasn’t rich.”

“But if in this pretend scenario you did know Kurt?”

“I’d want Kurt.”

“Why?”

“He’s just this ray of light. He’s kind of… he’s just breathtaking. He’s snarky and funny and smart and totally sexy without even trying. Sorry. I’m trying to be honest, but it feels weird to say that to someone’s parent.”

“I asked,” she laughed. “So if he walked into a room?”

“I’d break off talking to whoever I was talking to and go talk to him instead.”

“What does your body do when you see him?”

“My heart speeds up, I get sort of flushed sometimes. Even from up here, if I look down where he’s cheering and he makes eye contact, it makes me smile.”

“Sweetie, I’m just going to tell you what I see, okay?”

He nodded.

“When he walks in the room, your eyes light up. My bet is that it happens even if you hear someone say his name and he’s not around.”

“Tina has asked me several times, so I’m guessing that you’re not the only one who’s seen this happen.”

“You do things for him expecting nothing in return. You seem to thoroughly enjoy his company. I mean you spend hours together in your room just talking to each other. I’m certain that you love him as a person. That can be seen from your actions. The question is whether you are in love with him. When you think of you’re future, can you see him in it? Can you see the two of you being able to get along and live together? Does the idea of that make you feel excited or full of dread?”

“Excited.”

“What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up?”

“How many days until Friday?”

“And that’s because?”

“I get to come home and see Kurt on Friday.”

She smiled at him.

“And what’s the last thing you think about before you go to bed?”

“We talk every night before we go to sleep, but I miss being in the same room with him.”

“And when you’re at home with him?”

“How glad I am to get to spend time with him.”

“Sweetie, I’m not a psychiatrist or some expert on relationships, but I’m pretty sure that you’ve covered just about all of the bases for loving and being in love with someone. You put him first by doing things for him without expecting something in return. Your eyes light up every time you see him. You think about him when you wake up and before you go to bed. If you got to choose anyone to spend time with, it would be him. He’s your person, meaning that if you were upset, he’d be the first person you’d go to, and if something amazing happened, he’d still be the first person you’d go to.”

Sebastian nodded. “He would be.”

“I think you have your answer.” She patted him on the leg.

“Thanks for talking with me.”

“Any time, Sebastian. Kurt is an extremely loyal person and he loves you. You’re already family. And you’ll eventually feel like you belong. It’s taken Finn some time and he’s still struggling with accepting a new father figure. He grew up with is just being the two of us. And I overindulged him. He’s having to grow up and learn that things he considered to be true just aren’t. The stupid belief that people choose to be gay is the biggest hurdle for him in our family. I can tell him repeatedly that people are born gay, but when so many other people tell him that their parents say that it’s a choice, a sinful, one-way-trip-to-hell choice - he struggles. The lie you hear loud enough and long enough feels true. You understand that in a way. You heard your mother tell you that you weren’t wanted, your father was never part of your life, and now that people are telling you that you are wanted, you struggle to believe it’s true. My hope is that Finn will eventually figure it out and stop acting like Kurt can just flip a switch and be what Finn considers to be ‘normal’.”

“Kurt told me to tell you or Burt if Finn said anything homophobic to me.”

“Yes. He is absolutely right. We will not put up with that at all. The house belongs to the two of you as much as is does to him. If he’s determined to hold onto his negativity about being gay, he can stay in his room when he’s at home.”

“That’s exactly what Kurt said would happen. That you would ground him to his room.”

“You and Kurt are free to be yourselves.”

“Thank you – really. Thanks for talking to me. I’ve never had an adult sit and talk to me before. It’s nice.”

Carole wrapped her arm around Sebastian’s waist and side hugged him. “You’re welcome, sweetie. I’m always here if you need me or you just want to talk.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian waited inside the car while Burt argued with Sue about how Kurt would be going home in the car right then and again the next night. Eventually, Sue relented and Kurt came over to the car. Sam was long gone with the New Directions guys.

Kurt slid into the backseat and slid over to the center spot and put his seatbelt on. He put his bag in the empty space next to him. He offered his hand to Sebastian who quickly took it, immediately interlacing his fingers with Kurt’s. Kurt leaned over and put his head on Sebastian’s shoulder.

“Tired?”

“Very.”

Burt got in and they headed back to the house.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian showered quickly, leaving Kurt to take his time. While Kurt was in the shower, Sebastian went downstairs and made two cups of hot chocolate, making Kurt’s with skim milk and stevia like he preferred. He put non-fat whipped cream on top and took the mugs back up to their room. He sat them on the dresser on an old work t-shirt he grabbed quickly so the mugs couldn’t mess up the top of the dresser.

Kurt came out a few minutes later, wearing only his pajama bottoms. “Okay?”

“Definitely. I want to give you another massage. I made you hot chocolate.”

“You’re a sweetheart.” Kurt walked over to the dresser and took his. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Sebastian put the t-shirt back in the dresser and took his mug over to the bed and sat down on the edge. He patted the spot next to him.

Kurt sat down next to him. “It’s perfect.”

Sebastian wrapped his arm around Kurt’s waist and they sat and finished the cocoa. He took Kurt’s mug into the bathroom and rinsed them both out and left them sit on the side of the counter. He went back out and found that Kurt hadn’t moved. He walked around and kneeled in front of him and took his hands. “Is something wrong?”

“No. I’m just tired. We never did pick someplace to go tomorrow.”

“We don’t have to go anywhere. We can stay here. Sam and Finn will still be gone. We could play the Wii and watch a movie or two. And cook together without everything we make looking like prey to the vulture that is Finn.”

Kurt laughed. “That could be fun. It will be more fun to go out places when it’s not quite so cold. The hot chocolate was perfect. Let’s get turn the lights off and get under the covers. We can decide in the morning.”

Kurt left the salt lamp on, but turned everything else off and got in bed with Sebastian, who was lying on his side facing Kurt’s side of the bed. Kurt lay down facing the same way so he’d be the little spoon.

“Can you face me instead?”

Kurt plopped over. “Of course.”

“Closer.”

Kurt scooted closer.

Sebastian ran his fingers down the side of Kurt’s face gently and then leaned in just enough to gently kiss Kurt. “I want to tell you something.”

“Okay.”

Sebastian did his best to relax. He closed his eyes and felt Kurt’s lips on his. He opened his eyes.

“You looked tense. Like you needed another kiss,” Kurt smiled.

Sebastian smiled. He reached for Kurt’s hand under the covers and pulled it up and interlaced their fingers. “I love you, Kurt.” He leaned forward and kissed Kurt gently again.

Kurt did his best to wrap his arms around Sebastian. “I love you too.”

“I talked to Carole during the game.”

“I saw you two sitting together. She’s a good listener.”

“She is. She helped me sort myself out.”

“That’s good.”

“I told your parents about the scholarship and attending university here in Ohio instead of going back to Paris. And I told them a little more about my life in Paris.”

Kurt just listened, giving Sebastian the opportunity to say everything had to say. He gently rubbed his thumb across Sebastian’s index finger.

“She’s the first adult I’ve ever really sat and talked with. It was nice.”

Kurt kissed him gently.

“Turn over and I’ll give you a massage before you end up falling asleep before I get a chance to do it.”

“We can just sleep if you want.”

“No, I really want to give you a massage, unless you don’t want one.”

“I love when you touch me, so of course I want one, but you don’t have to feel obligated.”

“I don’t feel obligated. I feel privileged. You trust me to touch you.” He leaned forward and started kissing Kurt. This kiss wasn’t the reassuring kisses that Kurt had been giving him since they had gotten in the bed. This one was full of passion. Eventually, they pulled back to catch their breath. “I love you, Kurt. So much.” He wrapped Kurt up in his arms and held him close.

Kurt snuggled in and let Sebastian hold him. “Mmm. I love you, Bas.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt was snuggled into Sebastian’s side and they were looking through websites on Kurt’s phone. “So, what do you think? The Toledo Museum of Art today or the Toledo Zoo tomorrow?”

“It is pretty cold out. I don’t know how many of the animals we can see if they aren’t outside.”

“Let’s go to the art museum. We can stop by the zoo and ask whether there are many animals outside this time of year, and if they are actually out where we can see them, we can go back tomorrow. It’s not even an hour and a half each way.”

“Good idea. The museum doesn’t open until noon. The zoo opens at 10:00. We can stop by there first. We can leave at 10:00.” Sebastian grabbed Kurt’s phone and put it on his side of the bed. Then he lay down in the bed and pulled Kurt down in the bed too. “So, more snuggles.” Sebastian pulled Kurt closer.

“You’re a snuggle bear.”

Sebastian let loose and scooted back.

“Bas?” Kurt turned over. “What’s wrong?”

“Am I being too… I don’t know. Am I doing something you don’t like?”

“Letting go of me was the only problem. I like being snuggled. ‘Snuggle bear’ was a positive statement.”

“Oh.”

Kurt kissed him. “Remember what I said about not manipulating you? I’m not going to be passive/aggressive. If something’s bothering me, I will tell you kindly. I won’t be confusing about it and then punish you when you don’t guess what’s wrong with me. I don’t understand why people do that to each other.” Kurt kissed him again. “The snuggling is as new for me as it is for you. I never knew I’d like being snuggled so much. If at any point, I reach a snuggle overload, I’ll tell you gently and ask for a little space for a few minutes.”

“Okay. I never knew how much I would enjoy it either. I love having you close.”

Kurt scooted closer and ran his hand through Sebastian’s hair. “So back to snuggling like we were or kissing and snuggling with me facing this way?”

Sebastian scooted closer again and kissed him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian handed the coat check clerk his coat. He kept his scarf with him, not willing to risk potentially losing something Kurt had made for him. He slipped his camera into his empty back pocket and his phone into his empty front pocket. Kurt handed his coat over next. They set off to explore the Toledo Museum of Art.

They spent the entire afternoon looking through the museum walking hand in hand. Kurt thought Sebastian might be hesitant, but any time they had to let go of each other for some reason, Sebastian would reach right back for his hand as soon as possible. They got a few looks from people, but it was hard to know whether it was because they were a gay couple or if it was because it was unusual to see two male teenagers who were so interested in the artwork.

They absolutely loved the museum. On their way back to the Navigator, they continued talking.

Kurt said, “This is a historic day. For the first time in my life, I may not actually hate Ohio. I’m willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, living in Ohio might not have to be as bad as it has been. I’ve never been to any of the places like this in Ohio. I was always so leery of going places by myself because of they way I’ve been treated in Lima. I was afraid I’d drive an hour somewhere and end up in a dumpster or any number of bad endings.”

“I can see why you’d think that.”

“But this was amazing.” He swung their intertwined hands. “This, with you, is amazing.” The joy of the freedom and fun time they had together was evident on Kurt’s face.

Sebastian was aglow as well. He never considered that being with someone would bring the other person so much joy – that he could be a source of joy to someone.

When they got back to the Navigator, Kurt walked Sebastian up to the passenger door and gently pushed him back against the side of the SUV and kissed Sebastian and then wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s neck. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Loving me. Being with me. Coming here with me. Lots of things.”

“Well, you’re welcome. And since I don’t want to see your head on a platter, go get in the other side and let’s get back before you’re late for a very important date with the Red Queen.”

Kurt kissed him one more time. “You’re right.” He squeezed Sebastian and let go. He walked around and got in. He started the Navigator up and headed back toward Lima.

“I’m going to attempt to renegotiate my contract with her. I don’t want to cheer for baseball. I’m done after basketball. I’ll stay on the squad to practice the routines for Regionals, if she wants me to, but I really want to be done.”

“I don’t blame you. Sam has told me what she says to all of you when you practice and it makes me want to deck her. I won’t, but she’s awful.”

“Let’s talk about something else.”

“Alright. How about we talk about me and you getting an apartment in Cincinnati?”

“Now, that’s a fun topic. Come with me next Sunday?”

“Sure.”

“We can go drive around the area around the campus and get a feel for the area and figure out where we’d like to live. We’ll drive the bus routes that go near campus too. Maybe there’s some affordable places near the bus route.”

Once they were back out on he highway, Kurt reached over and took Sebastian’s hand. They talked all the way back to Lima.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Carole had dinner waiting for them when they got home. Kurt ate and changed and headed to the school with Sam.

“So, I have something to tell you,” Kurt said.

“What’s that?”

“Sebastian and I are dating.”

“Since when?”

“Well I asked him Friday night. You were gone all day yesterday and weren’t back when we left this morning. I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret.”

“And your dad’s okay with you sharing a room still?”

“Surprisingly, yes. He said we’re both 18 and that he’s not going to interfere.”

“It still seems weird that he’s okay with it.”

“I know. But he’s trying to be treat me like an adult and not like a child anymore.”

“Okay.” Sam said not sounding convinced.

“What about you? You said there was someone you liked a while back when I asked you about Mercedes.”

“Taken. Waited too long.”

“Oh. Sorry to hear that.”

“No one’s fault but my own for being a scaredy cat. I thought Sebastian was going back to France for college. What made you decide to ask someone out who’s leaving in four or five months?”

“Oh, he’s not leaving. He applied to college here in Ohio. He’ll get in-state tuition, so it’s actually going to cost him about the same or less than going to back to Paris to go to school.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“Yeah. You don’t seem like you’re pleased.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m just really tired. I’m glad you’re happy, really. I should have come home last night to sleep. A third basketball game in three days when I didn’t really sleep last night isn’t a good idea. Maybe I should have had coffee with dinner.”

“Hopefully, once you get moving, your adrenaline will kick in or something.”

“Yeah. I hope so.”

They pulled into the school lot and into a parking spot.

“Are you coming home after the game or going back to Puck’s or Artie’s or wherever?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, Carole and Sebastian are coming to the game, so I’ll go home with them. Just don’t leave the car here, Mr. Sleepyhead.”

“I won’t forget the car.”

“I’ll cheer for you to stay awake.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“That’s 15 down, 7 to go. I’m really ready for this to be over with,” Kurt said as he slid into the backseat with Sebastian. He scooted to the middle, so he could sit right next to Sebastian. As soon as his seatbelt was on, he leaned on Sebastian. “I don’t want to do this anymore – the away games. I’m going to have to get up the nerve to tell Coach Sue.”

“Why do you hate the away games so much, honey?”

“Because I’m the only guy that cheers at the away games. At the home games, the lifters cheer with us. At the away games, I get called a lot of names from the home teams and I’m just tired of being harassed. It’s not like there aren’t at least five girls chomping at the bit to take my travel team spot.”

Sebastian put his arm around Kurt and pulled him into his chest. “You never said you were being harassed.”

“I was trying to stay strong and ignore it, but there’s no point. Me ignoring them is not teaching them to be decent. It’s not like me being put down is somehow making me a better person or teaching them to be better people. It’s just hurting me and I’m done. I put up with Coach Sue berating me every practice. I just can’t with the taunts from the crowd anymore.”

“Honey, I’ll be at the school Tuesday at lunch and by the end of lunch, you won’t be on the travel squad anymore.”

“Thanks, Carole.”

“You’re welcome, honey. Enough’s enough.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian showered quickly. While Kurt was in the shower, Sebastian went down to the kitchen and looked for something he thought Kurt might actually eat. He had noticed how loose Kurt’s pants were compared to how they had fit before. He went to find Carole quickly.

“What will Kurt eat no matter whether he’s hungry or not?”

“I honestly don’t know of anything. I’m sorry. He’s not a snacker that I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t eat ice cream or cookies or even chips. Your very best bet is to make something yourself and the fact that you made it might get him to eat it.”

“Thanks.”

He went back into the kitchen and looked in the fridge. He found some broccoli. An idea came to mind. He started a kettle of water. He chopped the broccoli into tiny pieces and diced some onions up and sautéed them in some butter. He whipped up 3 eggs and a little milk and poured the mixture into the skillet. He grabbed a slice of cheese and broke it into pieces and put it in the pan. He put a tea bag into a cup and poured the hot water in.

Once he could flip the eggs, he did, and then he folded it over and slid it onto a plate. He pulled the tea bag out and added a few drop of liquid stevia. He poured himself a glass of water, grabbed a fork, and put everything on a tray and took it upstairs.

He managed to get back upstairs before Kurt came out of the bathroom. He sat the tray down, shut and locked the door, and went over to the bathroom door and knocked gently.

“Are you almost done?”

“I’ll be right out.”

“Okay.”

Kurt came out and his eyes were red.

Sebastian walked up and pulled him into a hug and held him tight. “You’ve been crying.”

“I know. It’s dumb. I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry for?”

“Being such a baby.”

“You’re not being a baby. You’re being human. Come sit down.”

Kurt sat on the bed.

Sebastian went to the dresser and grabbed the tray and brought it over.

“You made me a veggie omelette? And tea?”

“I did. Eat up before it gets cold.”

“I can’t eat all of it.”

“Well, you eat whatever you can and I’ll eat what’s left.”

“Alright. Thank you. You’re very sweet.”

“Shh. That’s our secret.”

Kurt laughed.

Sebastian kissed him. He picked up the fork and cut a bite off and offered it to Kurt.

“You’re going to feed me too?”

“If you want.”

Kurt took the fork and ate about 2/3 of the omelette and gave the fork back to Sebastian who polished off the rest, while Kurt drank his tea.

“It was delicious. Thank you.”

“You already thanked me, but you’re welcome. Get under the covers. I’ll be right back.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian put the stuff in the dishwasher and put the tray away and knocked on Carole’s door super lightly. She opened the door.

“I can’t stay. He’s lost a lot of weight. Insist that he weigh himself when he’s in that office with you tomorrow. I think he’s bordering on anorexia. And you’re right, he ate it because I made it especially for him, well, he ate 2/3 of it, which was only 2 eggs. Not more than 300 calories after all that exercise. She’s killing him. And those girls. She needs to be stopped. I have to get back upstairs.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian shut and locked the door behind him, turned all of the lights off, except the nightlight lamp on Kurt’s side shelf, and got in bed with Kurt. He thought he might be asleep with how still he was, but once Sebastian got in the bed, Kurt flipped over and moved Sebastian’s arm and cuddled up with his head on Sebastian’s chest.

Sebastian wrapped his arm around Kurt. “Comfy?”

“Very.” And Kurt wiggled closer. “Can I put my leg on yours?”

“Sure.”

That helped Kurt get even closer and snuggle in with no remaining gaps. By this point, he was nearly half lying on Sebastian. He tipped his head back a little. “Kiss me?”

“Of course.” Sebastian turned his head and tipped it down a bit and kissed Kurt.

Kurt seemed to melt into him, letting the tension flow out.

Sebastian ran his hand along Kurt’s arms stroking gently. “You know Frenchmen give their lovers nicknames.”

“I’ve read about this. Some of them are pretty funny when translated like mon chou – my cabbage.”

“I’ve come up with yours.”

“What?” he asked with piqued interest.

Mon étoile.”

“Why did you choose that?”

“Do you not like it?”

“I do actually. I just wondered what made you choose it.”

“Well, people use the north star to find their way home. And you helped me find my way home. To a real home with you.”

Kurt pushed up onto his elbow and scooted up in the bed a little. He leaned forward and kissed Sebastian. He was speechless at the moment, but couldn’t leave Sebastian hanging. He ran his hand along the side of Sebastian face. He lowered himself back down and wrapped himself back around Sebastian. “I… that…Bas…” Kurt kissed him again. “That was beautiful. That’s the most beautiful reason for a pet name ever. I never thought I would like one, but I love it. I love you.”

Kurt pushed up again and got on his hands and knees straddling Sebastian. He started kissing down Sebastian’s neck. He sat up a bit and put his hands on each side of Sebastian’s face and kissed him with all the passion he felt. When he pulled away to catch his breath, he gently ran his hands down Sebastian’s arms and back up and then down his chest.

When Kurt started using his hands to explore, Sebastian started to as well. He ran his hands along Kurt’s sides and chest and Kurt leaned forward slightly. He lightly ran his hands down Kurt’s arms.

Kurt leaned down and kissed Sebastian again. “Okay?”

“Yeah, very okay. A lot turned on, but that’s because you’re so sexy.” Sebastian pulled Kurt down for more kissing.

When they broke apart for air again, Kurt moved to Sebastian’s side and lay down snuggled up against him.

Kurt ran his hand along Sebastian’s chest tracing patterns with his fingers. “I just want to make sure you’re not feeling like you have to do this. I don’t want you to feel like since you agreed to be my boyfriend that you have to go along with something if you don’t want to.”

“Hey,” Sebastian turned on his side. “Where’s this coming from? This feeling that you’re being pushy when you aren’t?”

“It’s hard to explain because it probably doesn’t even make sense. I think it’s just a combination of the fact that I want you to always have the choice to continue or stop. And combine that with two nights in a row of being called things I won’t repeat that make me feel like the only thing I’m good for is a good time. Someone else’s good time, not mine. I don’t want you to feel like I asked you to be my boyfriend just so I could have someone to make out with because I was horny and alone.” Kurt struggled to hold his tears back. “I want to make sure you want to be with me. I’m 99% certain that you’re not just playing me so that you can have fun with me and then toss me when you find someone better looking and…”

Sebastian put his index finger on Kurt’s lips. “Stop, please. God, what have these people been saying to you?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“I’m not sure it could be worse than what I’m imagining right now.”

“Trust me. It probably could be.”

“Okay. Take a deep breath.” He could hear Kurt inhale and then exhale. “First off, we’ve slept together in this bed for the equivalent of 3-4 weeks. Never once did you behave unbecomingly. Secondly, whatever that was about me thinking you’re a plaything and me using you until I find someone better is just insane. I wish you had told Carole what these people were saying to you. I understand that we were still getting to know each other when the basketball games first started 8 weeks ago or whatever and you might not have felt comfortable telling me because you still haven’t actually told me. But listen very closely. This isn’t a game to me. You are not a plaything for me. I am not looking for my next conquest or whatever while I am biding my time with you.” Sebastian pulled Kurt close and wrapped him in his arms. “If I have to, I’ll skip school Tuesday and I’ll go with you and Carole to support you in your resignation, so that the coach can’t bully you into staying. I will not have this go on any longer. I meant it when I said that I love you. I will not allow you to be mistreated like that if I can do something to prevent it or stop it.”

“Thank you.”

“Caring is part of the boyfriend package right?”

Kurt didn’t answer.

“I get it. It wasn’t the last time.” He placed gentle kisses on Kurt’s hair. “It is this time. Whatever lies you’ve been hearing are just that. They’re lies. Here’s the truth, so listen carefully, okay?”

Kurt barely nodded.

“You’ve liked me for quite a while. You said you’ve loved me since around Christmas, which was about a month ago. You’ve been an amazing friend to me. You pushed your romantic feelings aside and continued to be my friend because you care about me. You didn’t let me in on your feelings beyond friendship until you knew I was going to stay in Ohio. That shows me how much you care. That you’re not in this for what you can get out of me. If you were if you were just horny and alone or whatever, you could have tried to get me to agree to a physical relationship with you like ‘friends with benefits’ or whatever. If you were just out for a ‘good time’, you could have hooked up with at least 10 different guys at the club that night. ”

Kurt nodded.

“Those same things are true about me. I was just looking for a ‘good time’ to relieve my own sexual desires, I could have just hooked up with some of the guys at Dalton or could have been hanging out at that club in Columbus during the week to pick guys up. So, whatever these homophobic jerks have been saying to you that has gotten you in such a state needs to be banished from your mind.”

Kurt nodded.

Sebastian gently moved Kurt away from him just enough that he could guide his face up towards his. “Here’s what’s true. You love me and I love you. You care about me and I care about you. I didn’t ask you out for the same reason you didn’t ask me out. I wasn’t going to start something with you if I wasn’t staying. I don’t use people and neither do you.”

He gently pecked Kurt on the lips.

“Now, I think that you are gorgeous. I’ve mentioned this since we first met. This is not a secret. You never said anything about whether you found me attractive, which is fine because we were just friends, so I’ll just verify that now. You do find me attractive?”

“Definitely.”

“Okay, so there’s that. We love each other. We care about each other, we each find the other attractive, and neither of us is the type to use someone sexually. We both know that we can say ‘yes’, ‘not yet’, or ‘no’ without angering the other. So, no one is being pressured. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and I thought you were too.”

“I was.”

“We’re both 18. And until yesterday neither of us had French kissed anyone. I’m pretty sure that eliminates either one of us from being slutty or whatever derogatory words were being used about you.”

“You’re right.”

“So, we aren’t sluts. Our love isn’t wrong. We aren’t using each other sexually or emotionally. We care about each other. We respect each other. We love each other.”

“Mmm hmm.”

“If you want to set limits on what we do, we can talk about that now or some other time. But it’s really no one’s business how fast or slow we go. We’ve both waited until we’re adults and as consenting adults we can consent to however little or much physical contact as we like.”

“I’m sorry I ruined the mood with my freak out.”

“Oh, the mood is not ruined. You are still in the bed with me with your shirt off.”

Kurt laughed.

“Oh, you without a shirt is definitely not a laughing matter.” He kissed Kurt, first gently, giving Kurt the chance to stop there if he wanted. He let Kurt shift the mood of the kissing to more passionate. Kurt rolled onto his back, leading Sebastian to straddle him to continue making out.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Monday morning, they had breakfast with Carole, who took off for work as soon as she finished eating. Sam and Finn hadn’t returned from Artie’s house the night before, leaving the two of them alone in the house.

“It might be unusual, but how about an after-breakfast movie?” Kurt asked. “We have the family room to ourselves.”

“We could do that.”

“Or?”

“We could go back upstairs and snuggle more and then go to the shop and put in several hours of work.”

“Oh, back to being hardworking, I see,” Kurt teased.

“I left time in my hardworking schedule for fun. Snuggling is very fun and relaxing.”

“You’re right, we need to head over there at some point and keep things going smoothly. Plus, we need money to do other fun things.”

“We do. So, movie and then work? Or snuggles and then work?”

“Snuggles.”

Sebastian wrapped his arms around Kurt from behind and kissed him on the back of the neck while Kurt was finishing up the dishes. He took the clean skillet from Kurt, dried it, and put it away.

“Done.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They snuggled and talked. They left in time to be at the shop when it opened. Sebastian worked on the books. Kurt worked on the cars that were waiting to be repaired. They stayed for four hours and then headed out.

When they got back to the house, Kurt headed down to the freezer. Sebastian followed him.

“How does vegetable soup sound?”

“Sounds good to me.”

Kurt grabbed a couple of bags of frozen vegetables and headed back upstairs. “There’s some ground beef in the fridge. Can you start browning it?”

“Sure.” Sebastian found the package and got a skillet out and started cooking the meat. “What seasonings should I add?”

“Salt, pepper, a little basil and oregano, garlic, and onions.”

Sebastian used a garlic press on a couple of cloves of garlic and found a small onion and minced it. He added both to the meat and continued to brown it.

Kurt assembled the rest of the soup in a stockpot. Once the meat was done, Kurt had Sebastian add it to the stockpot and put the lid on. Kurt took the skillet to the sink and started to wash it. He felt Sebastian’s arms wrap around him from behind and then a gentle kiss on his neck. Kurt put the skillet in the dish drain to air dry, wiped his hands on a towel, and turned to face Sebastian. He wrapped his arms around Sebastian and held him close.

He let go with one hand and pulled his hand out of his pocket, chose a playlist and started it, and then put his phone back in his pocket. He changed the position of his other hand and started moving to the music. They slow danced around the kitchen while they waited for the soup to start to boil. Kurt kissed him and let go long enough to turn the heat down to a low simmer and went right back into Sebastian’s arms. They danced around, mostly just swaying and exchanging gentle kisses.

He danced them toward the laundry room door and then through it. He let go of Sebastian long enough to shut the door and then back Sebastian up against it. He wrapped his arms back around Sebastian’s neck and kissed him, this time full of passion.

Sebastian slipped his hands up under Kurt’s shirt, causing Kurt to moan.

Kurt pulled back and laid his head on Sebastian’s shoulder, catching his breath. “I really like kissing you.”

“Well, I really like kissing you.”

“Let’s check on the soup and hopefully eat it. We can go upstairs and kiss more afterwards.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They both felt grimy after working in the garage, and decided to shower after lunch. After they finished eating and were nearly to the bedroom, Kurt said, “Go shower. Then I will.”

After they stepped inside the room and Sebastian closed and locked the door, he said, “We could save water…”

Kurt was surprised by the forward nature of Sebastian’s statement, but he wasn’t opposed to the idea entirely – just potentially embarrassed and scared more than anything. “Really?”

“I’m offering. And then I’m asking. So, you can say ‘yes’ or ‘not yet’. And either way, I’m going to go get in the shower. So, you can decide and either come in or not.” Sebastian gave him a peck on the lips as he walked past him to the bathroom.

Kurt grabbed pajama pants for both of them, waited until Sebastian was in the shower and opened the bathroom door and closed it behind him, locking it even though the bedroom door was locked. He put the pajama pants on the sink. “I want to, but I’m scared.”

“Scared of what?”

Kurt bit his lower lip, and then answered. “That you won’t like what you see.”

“Why would that be the case? You can say ‘not yet’ and it’s okay.”

Kurt took a deep breath and undressed. He moved closer to the tub and reached out toward the door. “Point the sprayer away from the doors. I’m going to step in.” Kurt heard the water change to spraying on the tile and he slid the door to the side and steeled himself for potential humiliation.

Sebastian turned around and he saw the absolute fear in Kurt’s eyes. He took a step toward him and closed his eyes and leaned forward and kissed him. “Can I wash your hair?”

“I’m okay?”

“Okay? Kurt, mon étoile, you are as gorgeous as ever.”

“You’re sure?”

“Of course, I’m sure. Open your eyes. Why are you so afraid?”

“The one and only time another boy saw me with my pants down, he said there was something wrong with me and I was like 8 or 9. It was in a school bathroom.”

“Well, I don’t see anything wrong with you. You look like a naked teenager to me – a gorgeous naked teenager who is my amazing boyfriend. Can I wash your hair?”

“Okay.”

“Which one of these is for your hair?”

Kurt pointed.

Sebastian put some in his hand and started massaging it into Kurt’s hair. He took the sprayer down and rinsed his hair. He made sure there was no shampoo on Kurt’s face. Kurt still looked really nervous. “Is this too much? Do you want to get out? You can. I won’t be upset.”

“No, I like it. A lot. It’s just really scary. Everyone has said terrible things about my body most of my life. And after spending months with someone who turned me down and then only became interested when drunk and in need of an acting boost and I was convenient, I felt like even gay guys wouldn’t find me attractive. The amount of crap I went through…anyway… I guess I just want to know this time. I want to know that you want me, even if we don’t… you know… for a long time.”

“Oh, I want you. No issue there. I just don’t want you to be uncomfortable around me, like I’m pushing you. What I really want to do is soap my hands up and run them all over you and touch you everywhere. Does that help you figure out the answers your questions.”

Kurt nodded. For the first time since he got in, he let himself look at Sebastian. “You look like me.”

“A naked teenager? Yeah.”

“I mean…”

“Oh. You never seen anyone else that’s… I get it. I couldn’t figure out what you thought was so unusual about how you look. I’ve only seen a few Jewish guys in locker rooms who don’t look like us.”

“Can I wash your hair too?”

“Sure.” He took his bottle of shampoo and opened it and poured the right amount into Kurt’s hand.

Kurt reached up and gently worked it through his hair and then rinsed it out. “I was terrified I’d get in here and you’d hate how I look. But you don’t.”

“I like how you look. You’re gorgeous.” Sebastian kissed him.

“Can you hand me the body wash?”

“Sure.” Kurt soaped up the washcloth he had brought with him and started to wash himself while Sebastian did the same thing.

Sebastian sprayed him down when he was ready. “Turn.” He got the first view of Kurt’s backside and wolf whistled.

Kurt was flushing.

“You are gorgeous, Kurt Hummel. All of the morons who have said things about your body clearly are too stupid to know what a gorgeous man looks like, which would make sense since they’re most likely straight.”

Kurt laughed.

“And given the slight preview I just got, perhaps jealous as well. You are quite well-endowed it seems.”

Kurt flushed again.

Sebastian rinsed himself off and hung the sprayer back up.

“Let’s get out and get in the bed and snuggle.” Sebastian turned the water off.

Kurt turned and slid the door open and grabbed Sebastian’s towel and handed it to him, then grabbed his own.

Sebastian dried quickly and hung his towel back up and slipped a pair of the pajama pants on. “You can do your face stuff tonight. Come on.”

Kurt hung his towel up, slipped the other pair of pajama pants on and followed Sebastian to the bed.

“Come on.” Sebastian was holding the covers up for him to get under.

Kurt slipped in.

“You be the little spoon, okay?”

Kurt turned on his side and Sebastian scooted up behind him. He wrapped his arm around him and slid the other arm under Kurt’s pillow. He traced patterns on Kurt’s chest gently. “Is everything okay? You didn’t make a choice you’re regretting now did you?”

“No. Did you?”

“Definitely not. We’re a pair, aren’t we? You’ve been terrified that no one would ever find you attractive and I’ve been terrified no one would ever love me. I’ve been propositioned too many times to count. I’ve never been concerned that there wouldn’t be guys who would want to get me in bed. I just wanted to find someone who actually loved me, not just wanted my body. And you’ve been afraid no one would ever find you attractive enough to want you.”

“You were stunned silent when I told you. You really never expected to hear those words did you?”

“I didn’t.”

“Well, I will be sure and tell you every day, so you’ll never wonder. I love you, Bas.”

“And you’re stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. And I love you too.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

A couple of hours later, after lying in bed snuggling and talking, nothing more, Kurt asked, “Are you starting the early morning return to Dalton this week?”

“Most definitely. I’ll have to leave just a little bit earlier tomorrow because I don’t have a uniform with me and I’ll have to run up to my room to change before I go to class. But I’m sleeping right here with you in my arms or me in yours as often as I possibly can.”

“Carole will be home in about an hour. I have no idea if Sam and Finn came back yet.”

“I didn’t hear any tale tell signs of Finn’s clomping up the stairs.”

“Me either, but they could just be in the family room still playing video games.”

“I will need to do a load of clothes and pack this evening. I’ll drop them in the washer when we get called down to eat. I’ve been seriously considering having Carole call me out of school tomorrow so I can go with her to confront the horrible coach at your school. Do you want to keep cheering or have you had enough?”

“I don’t want to be a quitter.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“I know. I enjoy the activity itself. I don’t enjoy the training because she is so awful. I like learning to do the flips. But I hate being yelled at.”

“I’m going to talk to Carole about going with her.”

“You should go to school.”

“Are you asking me not to go? Because unless she refuses my request to go with her, or you actually ask me not to, I plan to go. This coach cannot continue to think that she can abuse someone I love. I won’t just let people hurt you.”

Kurt turned over and managed to get his arms around Sebastian’s neck and kissed him. “Don’t ever doubt that you’re good at the boyfriend thing. You’re fabulous at it.”

“I thought you were the fabulous one.”

“We’re fabulous together,” he teased.

Sebastian laughed. “You’re crazy.”

“A well-established fact, but you love me.”

“I do. We better get dressed. I’m sure we’ll be called down to dinner any time.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After cleaning up after dinner, Kurt and Sebastian found Carole sitting in the living room with one of her sudoku magazines.

“Can we talk to you?” Sebastian asked.

“Sure. What’s up?” She laid the magazine and pencil down on the end table.

“I want to go with you to McKinley tomorrow when you talk to the cheerleading coach.”

“Why?”

“I want her to know that people aren’t going to stand by and let her get away with this. The things that have been said to Kurt are just unacceptable. She was in charge while this verbal abuse from other students was taking place. She did nothing to stop it. She also abuses Kurt and the other Cheerios on a daily basis. I’m not okay with that. I didn’t realize how bad what she says was. Kurt has been abused by people so much of his life that he doesn’t even bother sharing it with the people who love him. He has just gotten so used to it that he doesn’t even think to tell people. And even once he told me, I still didn’t get any details. This has to stop.”

“Kurt, honey, I thought things were better at school this year.”

“They are. Azimio left after West Side Story. His dad got transferred or something. And with him gone, there’s just the hockey players that are mouthy. Coach Beiste doesn’t put up with the football players being bullies. The physical bullying has stopped, even the slushie facials. So, things are definitely better.”

“Then why is Sebastian so upset?”

“He wants people to actually be decent? Something that’s not likely to happen. Some people just aren’t decent people and expecting them to be is pointless.”

“I know all about people not being decent. You know that. But unlike parents, teachers actually have to study for years and get licenses to teach. We trust teachers to be good role models for students. Her behavior is unacceptable and she should lose her job if she doesn’t change. I don’t care how many national titles she’s won. I live in this district now and I’m old enough to have a say so. And I’m not going to sit back while she hurts people.”

“Well, sweetie, I’ll take you with me, but rest assured that she won’t take kindly to you being there.”

“She’s likely to lay into you and call you names as well. She has no compulsion to behave appropriately. She insults Mr. Schue in the hallways. The fact that you’re 18 or live in this district will make no difference to her as far as I know.”

“She was decent the day we went to the homeless shelter and that was her idea. There has to be a decent shred of a human being left in her somewhere. I want to talk to her.”

“Alright. I’ll call in the morning and arrange for a meeting with her. I’ll keep Kurt home until it’s time to go meet her. And I’ll call you out in the morning as well.”

“Thank you.”

Kurt and Sebastian headed upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian packed his schoolbooks in the suitcase with his clean clothes. He decided to just rewear the outfit he had on the next day since he’d only had it on for a couple of hours. He wasn’t sure when he’d actually be heading back to Dalton, but he figured he could get things back out if he needed to. He sat at the desk and started stacking up his completed work and putting it into his binder. He put the binder and his laptop in his satchel.

Kurt had already finished packing his school stuff up and walked up and put one leg over Sebastian’s lap and sat down facing him. He kissed him. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Kurt unbuttoned the top two buttons on Sebastian’s shirt and started kissing down his neck.

He wrapped his arms around Kurt.

Kurt sat back up and kissed him on the lips and ran his hands through his hair. “I just want you to know that I appreciate how much you care.” He wrapped his arms around Sebastian and nuzzled in and just let Sebastian hold him.

Chapter Text

Carole, Kurt, and Sebastian left for McKinley at 10:30. Sue had agreed to meet with them at 11:00. Kurt led the way to Sue’s office. Sebastian hadn’t been in the classroom portion of the building and he looked around as they walked.

“This school definitely looks more like what I had seen in American movies than Dalton does.”

Kurt laughed. “Dalton is the only school I’ve ever seen that looks like it does. All of the other schools look pretty much like this on the inside.”

“In need of some paint and deep cleaning?”

Kurt chuckled.

It didn’t take long to get to Sue’s office. Kurt knocked and waited for a response. Sue had arranged three seats facing her desk instead of the typical two that were normally there.

“Mrs. Hummel, Kurt, and …”

“My name is Sebastian.”

“And Sebastian. What is the reason you have come here today?”

“I no longer wish to be on the travel squad.”

“Your reason?”

“The ‘home’ team’s behavior at the away games.”

“Be specific.”

“Homophobic slurs and insults.”

“Ignore them.”

“Look, I’m not interested in ignoring them anymore. I am not interested in subjecting myself to anymore bullying that can be easily avoided. There are half a dozen girls who would love to have my spot on the travel team. Give it to one of them.”

“I want to ask you a question,” Sebastian said.

“So, ask.”

“Why did you serve meals at the homeless shelter on Christmas Eve?”

“That’s personal.”

“Fine. Why do you treat the Cheerios so disrespectfully?”

“Overcoming adversity teaches independence, and hard work builds character.”

“Being insulted and screamed at is different than adversity. Adversity is something that happens in life, not something that someone does to you on purpose. That’s bullying and belittling and it teaches people to hate themselves. They may work harder, but it’s not to better themselves for their own self-improvement – it’s to avoid being torn down publicly.”

“You’re full of yourself, aren’t you?”

“No, I’ve just known adversity my whole life. And yes, it fosters ingenuity and creativity to survive, but it rips people apart on the inside. I’m a survivor. I may be strong, but at what price? How is you tearing your team apart helping them as people? Haven’t you ever loved or cared about anyone?”

“My sister.”

“Then think of your sister in the position of each and every Cheerio you berate every day. What would she think of you if she saw you during practice? What if I set up a camera and sent her the video? Do you think she’d feel proud to be your sister?”

“Shut up.”

“No. You have no control over me. I don’t attend this school. I’m an adult. I think your sister would have been proud of you at Christmas. But the way you treat the Cheerios is a disgrace.”

“Kurt, honey. Get up on the scale over there,” Carole said.

Kurt untied his shoes and took them off. He stood and walked over to the scale and stepped on and adjusted it so it showed his weight.

“Honey, how much weight have you lost?”

Kurt stepped down and went back to his chair and put his shoes back on.

“Kurt?” Sebastian said.

“I’ve lost 15 pounds.”

“Unacceptable,” Carole stated emphatically. “That’s nearly 10% of his body weight in two months and he wasn’t overweight to start with.”

“He could lose another 20 before he’s underweight,” Sue quickly pointed out.

Sebastian retorted, “That’s NOT the point. He didn’t enjoy a single dessert that he made for the holidays. I watched,” Sebastian said. “He baked and cooked for everyone and then stayed in the kitchen and washed dishes to keep anyone from noticing that he hardly ate anything. He’s taken to drinking tea with no sweetener and not even drinking orange juice for breakfast. Your methods of berating him and criticizing him are going to kill him and maybe some of the girls. Anorexia kills people.”

“I’m not anorexic,” Kurt insisted.

“Maybe not yet,” Carole said. “But you watch every bite of food that goes into your mouth, and I am as concerned as Sebastian is.”

“Kurt is not going to travel with the squad anymore and that’s final,” Carole said. “We will not allow him to be subjected to more bullying than he gets for just existing in this town. He has a little over four more months before he is through with high school.”

“Last year when Dave threatened me, you were on my side. At least I thought you were. You said you could be another pair of eyes and ears in the hallways preventing the bullying. But you bully me and the other girls. I don’t want to quit or to be a quitter, but I won’t allow this anymore. You may think that what you are doing is ‘character building’, but it’s actually soul killing. We all work really hard and your response is to scream at us. It’s taken me about 7 weeks too long to come to my senses, but enough is enough. I will not let you dictate whether or not I am worthy of love or respect or food. My own self-respect is worth more than your approval.”

“Kurt will be here for practice tomorrow morning before school. I will be with him to observe. If there is anything besides respectful speech and constructive instruction on how to improve, it will be his last practice,” Carole said adamantly. “And I don’t just mean respectful toward him – for all of the Cheerios. I know that Sebastian knows nothing about your sister, but I know that he is right. Jean would NOT be proud of the way you belittle the students you are in charge of training.”

“You don’t know anything about Jean.”

“You’re wrong. But I won’t argue my point. Tomorrow morning’s practice will be instructional and respectful or Kurt will no longer participate.” Carole stood.

Sebastian stood and offered Kurt his hand as he stood. Once Kurt had taken it, Sebastian intertwined their fingers and followed Carole out the door and into the hallway. She walked back out the building the way they had come in with Sebastian and Kurt continuing to walk behind her. They got to the car before anyone said anything.

“Do you want to go back home or grab your bag and go to class?” Carole asked Kurt.

“How about we go have lunch and I’ll come back for the last couple of periods and then Glee. That way Sebastian can get back before Warblers rehearsal as well. I know how hard it is for them to practice without a lead singer and I know exactly who is there just chomping at the bit to prove that he can be a better leader than Sebastian.”

“Alright, honey. Let’s grab something on the way home.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt followed Sebastian up to their room after they got home. He shut the door behind him.

Kurt wrapped his arms around Sebastian. “I don’t want you to go.”

He hugged Kurt. “I don’t want to go, but you know I have to.”

“I know.”

“One more kiss before I go?”

“Of course.”

They kissed, deeply and passionately and full of emotion.

“I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too. I’ll call you when Warblers rehearsal is over. Walk with me downstairs?”

“Of course.” Kurt picked up Sebastian’s satchel and carried it for him out to the car.

Sebastian put his suitcase in and then took the satchel from Kurt and put it in as well. He wrapped his arms around Kurt and hugged him tight. “I love you. I’ll be back Friday.”

Kurt held on. “I love you too.” He let go and let Sebastian get in the car. He waved as he drove off, and then walked back up to the house. He opened the door and Carole was waiting for him inside in the living room.

“He’s a keeper, honey.”

Kurt plopped down next to her on the couch.   “I know. I wish McKinley wasn’t awful or Dalton didn’t cost a fortune. I wish he didn’t have to leave.”

“I know. Sometimes I miss your dad so much it hurts.”

“I didn’t even consider how much Dad would be gone when he ran in the election in the fall.”

“The whole thing was really unplanned. He ran to stop Sue from tearing arts programs apart, which wasn’t really within her realm to do if she won, but she would be a terrible representative. And Reggie was willing to out a high school student just to make Sue look bad. To make her look bad, all he had to do was to pay Jacob to secretly video one of her practices berating the Cheerios. Burt ran because the other options were scary bad.”

“Congress needs more regular people like Dad. People who’ve built businesses or kept family businesses alive. People who know what it’s like to choose whatever meat is on sale that week and whichever brand of vegetables is the cheapest. People who’ve struggled to make ends meet in the aftermath of massive medical bills. But that means that those people leave the people they love behind to do it. And that’s hard.”

“I know.”

“I better grab my coat and my bag and get going. Thanks for going with me today.”

“You’re welcome, honey. I’ll see you later.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt went to his last two classes and then to Glee. He walked in and took a seat in the back next to Sam. Mr. Schue arrived a couple of minutes after the bell.

“So, this afternoon we will work on ‘I Can Fly’, which we will do again on Thursday. Wednesday and Friday we will work on ‘You Are Loved’, which means that the girls will not need to stay. The girls are still working with Sue on Mondays before school. I’ve reserved the auditorium for us to work on our choreography in there. Let’s head that way.”

Everyone picked up their bags and headed to the auditorium. They spent the hour going through some options for choreography and worked through them with a recording of the song.

“We’ll keep working on this on Thursday. Hopefully by next week, we’ll add in the vocals. I want us to be a well-oiled machine in 6 weeks. Good job today.”

Sam followed Kurt out. “We’re heading to the shop, right?”

“Yep, unless you have a big project or something you need to go home and work on.”

“Nope. I’m good to go.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt texted Sebastian before he had a chance to call and told him that he’d call at 7:30. He and Sam did what needed done at the shop and headed home at 7:00. They sat down to dinner as soon as they walked in the door.

Kurt and Sam cleared the table and did the dishes. Sam was unusually quiet.

“Is something wrong?”

“Oh, no. I’m fine. Just thinking about a lot of stuff. I’m going to work on my homework and get to bed early. I stayed up too much this past weekend and I’m going to go to Kentucky this coming weekend. I’m going to leave right after the game, so I want to get enough sleep all week so I won’t be too tired to drive Friday evening.”

“Okay. Maybe we can watch a movie some time this week if you’re not busy every evening. I miss spending time with you. The Glee guys were here all weekend before last and then you were gone this whole past weekend.”

“You had Sebastian here.”

“I know. But I still miss doing things with you.”

“I’ll let you know about the movie.” Sam hung up the towel he’d been drying dishes with and went upstairs.

Kurt put the soap in and started the dishwasher and finished wiping down the dining table and the countertops and headed upstairs as well.

He called Sebastian at 7:30 like he said he would. They talked for a half hour. Kurt did his homework for a couple of hours, showered, talked to Sebastian again, and went to bed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian was disappointed to get a text delaying their phone call, but he made the most of his time by working on his schoolwork. He went to dinner at 6:30 and did calculus problems until Kurt called. He scurried to the tutoring session he had at 8:00 and made it just in time. He went back to his room, showered, got in bed to do more reading and waited until 10:00 to call Kurt and talk before they went to bed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Carole followed Kurt to school. She parked in the visitor’s lot and they walked to the gymnasium door and went inside. She went up about 10 rows in the bleachers and sat down. Kurt dropped his bag on the first row of bleachers and headed out to the floor to start his stretching.

Sue never showed up. Santana ran practice and was every bit as acerbic as Coach Sue usually was. Carole left after they finished practicing.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Thursday was basically the same as Wednesday for Kurt. Sue didn’t show up. He went to class, went to Glee rehearsal, worked at the shop with Sam, did his homework, and talked to Sebastian. Sam never did have time to watch a movie.

Friday afternoon, Kurt waited for Sebastian at the shop. He got there about 4:45. He moved his suitcase and satchel to the Navigator when he arrived.

Kurt saw him come in the door and followed him to the lounge and into the changing area. He made sure no one else was in the room, stepped close without touching him, and kissed him.

“Mmm. Not an extended dream or hallucination on my part,” Sebastian said.

“Definitely not. I’m glad you’re here. Go crunch numbers. I have to go home at 6:00 and get ready for the game. I’ll bring you a sandwich when I pick you up at 7:00.” He gave him another quick kiss and headed back out to the bays and went back to work.

Sam took the car and left at 6:00 when Kurt did. Kurt saw Sam carry his duffle down to the car before he came into the kitchen to eat. Kurt put a plate of food on the island for him and sat down to eat a little before he left to go to Sebastian. He had packed food for Sebastian already.

Sam plopped down on the stool and started eating. “Thanks,” he said between bites.

“You’re welcome. I quit the travel team, but I’ll still come to the games to cheer you on – just from the stands in regular clothes.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to. I told you I’d cheer for you. I’m not going back on my word.”

“I’m heading out as soon as the game is over. I should get to my parents’ place by 11:30 or so.”

“Well, I hope you have a good time. Tell everyone hello from me. Once it turns a little warmer, we could go down and camp out in the yard. We still have our tent from when Dad and I used to go camping.”

“Stevie and Stacey would like that.”

Kurt got up and put his plate in the dishwasher and grabbed the food he’d packed for Sebastian. “I’ll see you at the game.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt and Sebastian stopped and got a pizza on the way home. Kurt grabbed some drinks and headed up to their room with them.   He was excited to see Kurt eat two slices of pizza, but kept his excitement to himself not wanting to make Kurt feel like he was being scrutinized. Kurt took the leftover pizza and put it in the fridge and tossed the box while Sebastian unpacked his stuff.

He went back upstairs to find that Sebastian had started some music and had turned all of the lights off except the nightlight by the bed. He shut and locked the door.

“I didn’t want to assume, but I waited in case you would say ‘yes’. Will you shower with me? Then I thought maybe we could dance for a bit of your not too tired. Or we can dance first, shower, and then get in bed. And if the answer is ‘no’ we can still dance and then shower separately.”

“Yes. Definitely yes. Let’s dance first, then shower, then get in bed.” Kurt stepped into Sebastian’s arms and they swayed around the room for a few songs.

“Did you have any plans?”

“Lots of snuggling and kissing.”

“Well, I do like snuggling and kissing.” He started kissing Kurt’s neck.

“Oh, that feels good,” Kurt said as Sebastian continued to kiss his neck. “Mostly I just really missed you being here. Just little things like eating with you and talking. I wish McKinley wasn’t so awful. You could have just transferred there and not had so much driving to do, but that’s not how things are. But you’re here now and we can enjoy being together.”

They danced around a little while longer and then headed off to the shower.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Saturday morning they got up early and worked on their homework for a bit. After eating a quick breakfast, they headed to the shop at 8:00 to work for four hours. They headed back to the house to shower and change. Kurt packed an overnight bag while Sebastian made them quick sandwiches, and they headed out of town.

“This will be fun. It’s our first mini-vacation. We got a good deal on the room and we can look around this afternoon and enjoy ourselves. I’m actually thinking of just doing the lessons twice a month. I’ve learned a lot, but it’s a lot of driving.”

“I’ve never been on any type of vacation with anyone. We went to the museum Sunday and that was fun, so I’m sure we’ll have a great time.” Sebastian pulled his phone out and started mapping their tour of the Cincinnati area. They talked all the way there.

They drove around the university area and stopped at a few apartment complexes and looked around. They picked up an apartment guide and a newspaper. They even stopped by the student center and checked out the places that advertised at the university.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt opened the hotel room door and let Sebastian walk in.

He put their overnight bag on the dresser and looked around. “So, what do you want to do now?”

“We’re going out.”

“We’ve been out all day.”

“Out on a date. I just wanted to check in before it got too late. I didn’t want to lose our reservation.” Kurt walked over to where Sebastian was standing. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, much better than okay. Just one of those mini dazed out moments where I have to double-check that this is real.”

Kurt wrapped his arms around Sebastian. “It’s real. My incredibly handsome boyfriend and I are on are first overnight trip together and we’re going to go out to dinner.” He kissed Sebastian, who responded eagerly and wrapped his arms around Kurt.

“Alright, then. Let’s go out to dinner.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“I have no idea what any of this is. I’ve never eaten Vietnamese food before.”

“Me either,” Kurt said. “That’s the fun of it. We’ll explore together.” Kurt ran his thumb along Sebastian’s index finger as they stood in line to order. The two had been holding hands most of the day.

When they got to the front of the line, they each ordered something that looked good from the picture board menu they had been studying. They took the number they were given and found a table. They took their coats off and put them over their chairs and sat down. Kurt put his hand out on the table and Sebastian took it.

They talked about some of the apartments they’d seen and in less than 10 minutes their food was brought to their table. They thanked the server. They tried their own dishes and they both like what they had ordered.

Kurt took a forkful of his and offered it to Sebastian, who took the fork and ate the bite.

“Yours is spicier than mine. Here try mine.” Sebastian used Kurt’s fork and handed him a bite.

“Yours is more savory, but I like both of them. What about you?”

“Me too.”

They started talking about renting an apartment again.

“I think our biggest expense besides the deposit is going to be a bed. We can always work and save up for a couch, but we have to have somewhere to sleep.”

“We could go to Ikea and look. There’s one not that far from Jungle Jim’s. Ooh. I hadn’t thought about that. When we move here, we can shop there for our groceries.”

Kurt smiled. “You just want to buy all of that French cheese.”

“Maybe…”

“We’ll go look at Ikea and stop by Jungle Jim’s.”

They finished their meals. Sebastian was thrilled to see Kurt eat a reasonable amount of food and enjoying it instead of picking at it like he had been. Maybe it was more stress about what was going on than it was an actual intent to starve himself, at least Sebastian hoped so.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“This is so cool. I didn’t realize that it would be like a showroom maze. I think I want one of everything,” Kurt laughed. He sat down on the couch and patted the seat next to him.

“Well, I think we will have to narrow it down a bit.” Sebastian laughed. “Let’s keep going or we’ll be halfway through the store when it closes. This is just a browsing trip. I’m sure they have print catalogs we can take with us.”

“Maybe Dad will let us bring our bed from home.”

“I like that idea. That’s my favorite bed ever.”

Sebastian reached out for Kurt pulled him to standing. Kurt hadn’t seen anyone near the area they were in and pulled him close enough to give him a quick kiss. “Let’s keep looking, like you said.” He kept hold of Sebastian’s hand and they wandered through the rest of the “rooms”. They didn’t stop and do a lot of looking through the areas where the products were shelved and made their way toward the exit. Kurt grabbed a catalog on the way out.

“So, on to Jungle Jim’s?” Kurt asked.

“We can do whatever else you had planned for our date. I don’t want to ruin anything. I’ve never dated anyone before, but I didn’t think grocery shopping was on the Top Ten Date Destinations list.”

Kurt laughed. “Maybe not, but my idea of dating is doing things together and having fun. We don’t have to do what anyone else would do on a date. I just want to spend time with you. I don’t need you to plan expensive complicated dates. Just the fact that you want to spend time with me means a lot to me.”

“I know nothing about American dating, and virtually nothing about dating in general.”

“Well, to me, it’s just doing things together we both already know we like to do, or exploring things we’ve never done and finding out whether we like them. Like dinner tonight – it wasn’t anymore expensive than getting a pizza or something, but it was totally different and new and fun. I’ve always wanted a friend that would be open to going to unusual places and trying new things. Even if I had not liked the food, I would have still liked going with you.”

“That makes me less nervous. I guess I’ve just seen movies where there so much pressure on planning the perfect dates. I shouldn’t base reality on a movie, of course, but I’m in the dark.”

“Well, I think maybe it’s because most of those movies are based on girls. And on top of that, girls that play mind games. Like they don’t tell their boyfriends what they want, but when they don’t get it, they get upset. I’m not sure if that’s a girl thing or a movie thing or what. But I’m not like that. If I want something specific, I’d say so. You can even verify that with my dad. If I wanted something specific for my birthday, I would supply him with the exact details he needed to get it for me. I always gave him a lot more options that I expected to get, so he could choose between them.”

“So, if I planned something, you’d just do it?”

“Sure, why not? I can’t know if I’d like it, if I don’t try. I mean, there might be some limits to that. I’m pretty positive that I won’t like skydiving, so don’t plan a skydiving date.”

Sebastian laughed.

“I’m not a girl and you’re not a girl. So, I don’t think a lot of those dating movies apply – unless you’re secretly wanting me to buy you jewelry, stuffed animals, and boxes of chocolates.”

“I’m not expecting anything. I guess that’s not true. I’m expecting us to only see each other.”

Kurt pulled into a parking spot and turned the Navigator off. He took his seat belt off and leaned over the console in the center. “Come closer.”

Sebastian took his seat belt off and moved so Kurt could reach him.

“I’m a monogamous person. I love you and only you. I’m not going to run around on you.” He kissed Sebastian.

“I love you too.”

Kurt ran his thumb down Sebastian’s cheek. “Let’s go buy some French cheese. It’s cold enough outside that we can leave it in the back overnight and it will be fine.” He opened his door and got out. Once he heard Sebastian’s door shut, he pressed the lock on his remote. He waited at the end of the Navigator for Sebastian and reached out for Sebastian’s hand, which he quickly took.

They didn’t tour the whole store again since it was getting late. Sebastian picked out some cheese and they bought a couple of drinks to have later and a few snacks for Sebastian to take back to school with him. They headed back to the hotel after they finished shopping.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt hung his coat up on the rack behind the door as soon as he flipped the additional door lock on the back of the door. Sebastian was standing there waiting for him to finish and wrapped his arms around Kurt.

Kurt was surprised at his ease about physical contact with Sebastian. There was just such a difference. Even though he hated it when the comparisons popped up in his mind, they did anyway. At this point in his previous relationship, he was barely comfortable holding hands, but with Sebastian he had been willing to get in the shower naked the same weekend they started dating. And that’s exactly where he wanted to head right that minute. And he wanted Sebastian to touch him. He wanted to touch Sebastian, not just wash each other’s hair.

“What’s going on in that mind of yours?” Sebastian asked.

“What makes you think something’s going on in my mind?”

“Because you’re you.”

“You know me so well already. That’s sort of what I was thinking about.”

“What do you mean? Wait, before you answer that, is there a way to turn the heat up in here? We didn’t bring warm pajamas. It’s chilly in here.”

Kurt stepped out of his embrace and walked over the heat/ac unit under the window and turned the heat up. “There. It should warm up in here now.”

Sebastian had followed him across the room and wrapped him back in his arms. “Now you can explain your answer, something about you thinking about how well I know you…”

“That, and how much I trust you – and it’s kind of scary.”

“Why is it scary for you?”

“I’ve never opened up to anyone like this and I know you haven’t either. I know you said that it’s up to us how fast or slow we take things. We’re adults and can decide for ourselves. It’s hard to gauge the difference between making a rational choice and what I really want to do. Maybe what I want to do is rational, but it’s not something I’ve ever really had that much of a desire to do.”

“You’re being a little too vague for me to follow. I’m lost.”

“I want to do things with you that I’ve never wanted to do with anyone before and it’s throwing me off balance for lack of a better way to describe it.”

“Things such as? Obviously not skydiving,” he teased and kissed Kurt on the neck.

“No, not skydiving. More along the lines of,” he whispered in Sebastian’s ear.

“Oh. Really?”

“But is it too soon? It feels so unusual to let myself think about something like that and even more unusual to actually consider doing it.”

“Well, if that’s your round about way of asking me, my answer would be ‘yes.’”

“Yes, it’s too soon?”

“Yes, I want to - if you’re offering. But I will also wait until you’re ready.”

“I think it’s back to the struggle of hearing that what I want is wrong and disgusting and evil and sinful… Hearing that doesn’t change what I want, but it makes me feel like I shouldn’t.”

“Well, I didn’t grow up having those types of things said to me, but just a few months of being shamed by my Father gave me just enough of a taste of it to know the slightest bit about how it feels and from what you’ve implied about what’s been said to you, it’s far worse than the things that were said to me. But that’s over now for me, and I know that your torment hasn’t stopped. But I want you to listen to me again. You get to choose who you love and how. Not other people.”

“I know. And I love you. Please don’t ever think these freak-outs I have are about whether I love you.”

“Would it help you to know that I’ve been thinking about what you whispered in my ear for the last few days?”

“Really?”

“Absolutely.” He kissed Kurt. “To be completely honest, I’ve thought about it for more than just the past few days, but I’ve only allowed myself to indulge my thoughts the past few days.” He pursed his lips and took a deep breath, not knowing how Kurt would react to his confession.

A flash of realization could be seen in Kurt’s eyes. Sebastian wasn’t just saying he thought Kurt was attractive because it was something he thought Kurt wanted to hear. “You actually find me attractive.”

“Yeah? I thought I had made that pretty clear by now.”

“I guess it’s just now dawning on me that you actually mean it. It’s so out of my realm of real life experiences that I think I chalked up your early flirty behavior as part of your public persona – the prickly one or the charming/flirty one. You know the one that wolf-whistled Sam and teased about the ‘taking it off part’ being more fun.”

“I see. Well, that was all in fun. I may have hidden how I felt behind a teasing exterior because I felt like you were a million miles out of my league, but I thought you were gorgeous the day we met. My opinion hasn’t changed.”

Kurt flushed. The different times that Sebastian had said flirty things that he could remember started popping up in his mind. Sebastian had found him attractive all that time?

“Now what’s going on in that mind of yours?”

“Just processing things.” He released the hold he had on Sebastian and moved his hands in between them and started unbuttoning Sebastian’s cardigan, then his shirt. Once he finished the placket, he unbuttoned the sleeves and eased them both off of his shoulders. He shut out the voices in his head that told him that what he wanted was wrong and focused on how he felt and what his own heart told him. He laid the sweater and shirt on the chair behind him. He ran his hands across Sebastian’s shoulders and down his arms causing Sebastian to shiver a bit. His eyes were closed obviously enjoying the attention that Kurt was lavishing on him. Kurt moved his hands to Sebastian’s chest and splayed his fingers and gently ran his hands all over his chest.

Sebastian reached forward and slipped Kurt’s jacket off his shoulders and hung it on the back of the chair and moved back in front of Kurt and started to unbutton his vest and his shirt. He walked behind him and took the vest and laid it neatly in the chair, and then reached around him and unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off his shoulders placing gentle kisses on the back of his neck. He put the shirt in the chair and turned back to face Kurt again. He lifted Kurt’s undershirt and Kurt raised his arms so that Sebastian could pull it off.

“All the layers don’t bother you?”

Sebastian ran his hands down Kurt’s arms and kissed his shoulders. “You’re like one of those really expensive gifts from a fancy store, all wrapped up with a fancy bow. You take off the bow, then the wrapping paper, and open the box. And the gift is wrapped in beautiful paper on the inside.”

Kurt melted at the comparison. He turned and faced Sebastian and held his face in his hands. “And you are a romantic sweetheart who makes me feel really special. You are that hidden gem at a flea market. So many people walk by and don’t bother to look, but you’re every bit as valuable and beautiful as the shiny pieces in the fancy stores. You just needed polished a bit so your beauty wasn’t hidden under years of gunk. You said you thought I was out of your league, but that’s not true at all. You are amazing and strong and beautiful. I love you.” Kurt stepped forward and pressed into Sebastian and tipped his head and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around him. The kiss was intense and full of love and understanding, like the culmination of them both doing their best to let go of those insecurities and the realization that they were choosing to move forward together.

Sebastian wrapped his arms around Kurt and let the rest of his walls down. Kurt didn’t love him out of some sense of pity. He thought he was beautiful and his equal. He had finally gotten what he had longed for. He had no intention of ever letting go. When they pulled a part to catch their breath, Sebastian kissed along Kurt’s jaw toward his ear. “I love you.”

“Can I?” Kurt asked, putting his hand on Sebastian’s belt.

Sebastian nodded, still placing gentle kisses on Kurt’s jaw and neck. He stopped long enough to move over to the bed to unlace his boots and take them off. Kurt sat down next to him and did the same. Kurt started to undress himself the rest of the way and Sebastian followed his lead. Kurt folded the covers back on the bed and lay down.

Sebastian crawled over and straddled Kurt and put his weight on his forearms and started kissing him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They lay in each other’s arms kissing gently and enjoying the comfort of the other.

Kurt broke the silence. “I’ve come up with my pet name for you.”

Sebastian waited.

He ran his thumb down Sebastian’s cheek. “Mon précieux joyau caché.” Kurt kissed him. “Je t’aime, mon joyau.”

Sebastian kissed Kurt. “Je t’aime, mon étoile.”

“We are in need of a shower. We are a sticky mess.” Kurt smiled. “Sated, sticky messes, but still,” he laughed.

They got up and headed to the shower. Sebastian started the water to warm it up, while Kurt grabbed their stuff from the toiletries bag. Sebastian grabbed a couple of washcloths and climbed into the shower with Kurt following right behind him.

“This time I wash you and you wash me?” Kurt asked.

They took their time and enjoyed the increased intimacy of touching each other.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Back in the bed, they lay limbs all intertwined.

“I like this.” Kurt ran his hand down Sebastian’s side, down his hip and onto his thigh.

“Mmm. You think we can get away with it at home?”

“Sure. We already sleep with the bedroom door locked. We can just put two pairs of pajama pants on the edge of the dresser by the door and if we have to open the door before we were planning to, the pants will be ready to be slipped on.”

“Good plan.”

“And since we do our own laundry, no one will ever notice that we hardly wear our pajamas.”

“Mmm.” Sebastian caressed the side of Kurt’s face and gently kissed him. “I am about to fall asleep. I love you, mon étoile.”

“I love you.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt awoke at his usual time and tried to keep still and let Sebastian sleep longer, but he woke up.

“It’s still dark out. What time is it?”

“Around 6:00 I’m sure. I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“It’s alright.” Sebastian pulled Kurt closer. “We’ll just snuggle for a little while before we get up.” He had a relaxed smile on his face.

“You’re happy this morning.”

“Why wouldn’t I be? We’re here together. There’s no place I’d rather be.”

“Me either.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They got ready, repacked their bag, put their coats on, and headed down to the free breakfast at the hotel. Kurt took eggs, turkey sausage, and orange juice. Sebastian opted for a waffle that he could make the big cast iron waffle maker. He slathered it with butter and syrup and had sausage to go with it. He offered Kurt a bite and he took it.

“That’s pretty good.”

“Do you still want to go to New York?”

“I do. Is that a problem?”

“No. I just wondered. That was where you wanted to go to school. I just wondered if that’s where you want to live.”

“I can’t honestly say that it’s where I want to stay forever. It’s just that I’ve always dreamed of performing and Broadway always seemed like the pinnacle of success for a stage performer. I’ve only ever been there once and that was just for a few days last May when we went to Nationals. But Rachel and I snuck into the Gershwin Theater and sang ‘For Good’ on the stage with one of the Wicked backdrops and even thought the audience was empty, it was just a magical feeling being there. It could be the same performing somewhere else. I guess I’ll just have to see how things go.”

“I never allowed myself to dream like that. I kept my aspirations very basic. It’s only been recently that I’ve been thinking more about what I’d consider to be possibilities or dreams.”

“Well, you have time. We both do. And we have each other now.” Kurt squeezed his hand.

They finished up and cleared their places off. Kurt checked them out of the hotel and they headed out to the parking lot, hand in hand.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After his lessons were over, they drove around Cincinnati again, checking areas out and just looking around. Kurt pulled into a Wendy’s and they went in for lunch before they headed back to Lima.

“What’s a Frosty?” Sebastian asked.

“Oh, it’s like halfway between chocolate ice cream and a chocolate shake, served in a drink cup with a spoon. Sort of like soft-serve chocolate ice cream.”

“Sounds good.”

Kurt ordered a taco salad and Sebastian went for a burger with fries and a Frosty. They didn’t have to wait too long before their food was on trays ready to be taken to a table. They grabbed napkins and sat down and started to eat.

“The food here isn’t horrible.”

“Most fast food places aren’t horrible. If they were, no one would eat there. I forget that you haven’t eaten at any of these places. We’ll make it our mission for you to try the most popular places at least once.”

“You don’t usually eat at places like this.”

“I don’t, but I can order salads at most of them nowadays. It will be a fun thing to do with you. Going to these places in Lima is never fun. The jock crowd tends to hang out in the fast food places and I get harassed. But we can try one each time we go out of town to do something fun together. Plus, we can try things like the Vietnamese place we went last night.”

Sebastian put a spoonful of the Frosty in his mouth.

“So, what do you think?”

“I like it.” He offered Kurt a bite and he took it.

They finished eating and headed back to Lima. Unfortunately, they both still homework to do, so they couldn’t stay in Cincinnati all afternoon.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian did as he had said he would and stayed with Kurt Sunday night and left when Kurt got up at 6:00. They hugged and kissed and Sebastian set off for Dalton. He made it to school on time. He thought about their trip to Cincinnati and the plans they were making together and kept having to refocus himself during class.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam rode to school with Kurt.

“Did you have a good time visiting your family this weekend?”

“Yeah, yeah. We just mostly hung around the house and I played with Stevie and Stacey. I took them to the library and checked out some books Saturday morning. Stacey likes to show off how well she can read by reading princess books to me.”

“She’s a cutie.”

“Honestly, I just glad neither one of them have dyslexia like me.”

“You haven’t been doing your schoolwork with me anymore. Did I do something to upset you? We had been spending quite a bit of time together and then the last couple of weeks, you’ve been avoiding me.”

“I’ve been avoiding a lot of things. I just feel pretty lost. I didn’t want to spend another year in high school and I got my wish, but I honestly don’t have a clue what I want to do next.”

“We’ll, if you don’t want to go to college, you could work on the ASE certifications and get a raise and be able to do more work on your own at the shop. And if being a mechanic doesn’t interest you, maybe there are other things that you could just train to do rather than going to college for four years.”

“I need to figure some things out. That’s for sure.”

“Well, while you’re figuring it out, don’t forget about me, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Sebastian’s not all ‘stay away from other guys’. He’s not going to be bothered by us doing things together. We were doing things all three of us, and then you started hanging out with Finn more, which is okay if that’s what you want. But I do miss spending time with you.”

Kurt pulled into a spot in the parking lot. Sam jumped out. “I’ll see you later.”

Kurt opened the back and got his satchel out and made is his way into the school.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Glee was strange that afternoon because Mr. Schue announced that was going to ask Miss Pillsbury to marry him and he wanted the members of the group to make love song suggestions for him to use for the proposal. A lot of the members got really excited about the project, but Kurt didn’t make any suggestions, despite the fact that it would have given him the opportunity to get up and sing in front of everyone. A few people sang potential songs that day, but they were going to continue with the topic.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

By Tuesday, Mr. Schue had been presented with numerous options. He decided to go with singing “We Found Love” as a synchronized swimming routine in the school pool. And before he even had time to put up his hand to ask, Mr. Schue stated that participation was mandatory.

Kurt waited for everyone to leave the room after rehearsal.

“Is there something you need, Kurt?”

“I don’t see how you can make spending 6-9 hours in the school pool mandatory for a non-school related event. I understand that you want to wow Miss Pillsbury, but I am personally opposed to this type of proposal, and on top of that I have a job after Glee and I can’t skip work since I’m the afternoon manager now that my dad is in DC. I’m sorry. This class isn’t for credit. It’s a club. One I enjoy being in, but I won’t be at swimming practice. I’ll be at the shop.”

“Kurt…”

“There is nothing else to discuss. You can kick me out if you want. But you cannot require me to spend extra hours afterschool with no advance warning. I have to go or I’m going to be late.” Kurt turned and walked toward the door.

“You’d risk performing your solo and not being in the club over this?”

“That’s not really a question is it? Are you actually asking me if loyalty to my father and my job is more important than a school club?” He walked out the door.

Sam was waiting in the Navigator. They headed for the shop.

“I wasn’t thinking. Sorry.”

“What?”

“The pool idea was mine. Back before that guy dropped out of basketball, I had considered joining the synchronized swimming team because it was the only varsity sport that still had openings. I went to watch a couple of practices and it was really cool to watch. I thought it would impress Miss P.”

“It’s fine. I just can’t miss work three days in a row to practice swimming. If he kicks me out over this, then so be it. I want to perform, yes. But honestly, the constant drama of his love life is annoying and mostly inappropriate. But, be assured that if he kicks me out, I won’t blame you.”

“Alright. Is there any way I can get off the next three afternoons?”

“Sure. But you won’t get paid.”

“I know.”

“You’ll need someone else to take you home after rehearsals because I’ll be here.” Kurt pulled into the employee parking section and got out.

He put his coveralls on quickly and got to work on the first car on his list.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian’s Tuesday review of his weekly agenda had him flipping to the next month to take a look forward and he realized that it was exactly two weeks until Valentine’s Day. He had seen enough American movies to realize that it was a big deal. He spent the day trying to stay focused, but his mind wandered.

In Warbler’s rehearsal, he asked to be allowed to speak.

“I’d like to propose that we don’t hold rehearsal on Valentine’s Day in two weeks. I know that many of the guys in this group are dating, which means that they need time to prepare for the evening.”

“All in favor of Sebastian’s idea to not have rehearsal on Valentine’s Day…” David counted. “Motion passed.”

They moved on to working on “Stand” for the rest of rehearsal.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Wednesday marked the fifth practice in a row that Coach Sue did not show up to run. Kurt got dressed after practice and went to class as usual. At lunchtime, he headed to her office. He knocked and he heard a noise he assumed was his cue to enter. He opened the door and stepped inside.

“What do you want?”

“I wanted to see if you were okay. You haven’t come to practice in five days.”

“I’m fine. Get out.”

“Alright. I’ll bring the uniforms back tomorrow.” He pulled the door shut behind him and walked away.  

After school, headed straight to the shop and put in an extra hour.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Thursday morning, Kurt didn’t attend Cheerios practice and spent the extra hour he had that morning getting schoolwork done. He put both of his uniforms into the Cheerios backpack and took them to school with him. At lunchtime, he went to Coach Sue’s office again. He knocked and waited to be acknowledged. He opened the door and went inside. He placed the backpack on one of the chairs facing Coach Sue’s desk and turned to walk out.

“Kurt, have a seat.”

“Yes, Coach.” He turned back and sat in the empty chair.

“I don’t want you to quit the team.”

“I have no interest in the Jekyll and Hyde thing you’ve got going on, Coach Sue. Obviously you are a deeply committed to winning, yet you haven’t shown up to run practice in a week. I honestly thought you had changed to some extent. But this two-faced behavior is too much for me to deal with. I’m not sure why the girls put up with it, other than they see getting a recommendation from you as their only way out of this cow town. I already got into college. I’m leaving because I am not wanted in this town. I don’t need whatever scraps of approval I might get from you because I have a family that loves me. But some of those girls don’t. They come here every morning. They do exactly what you say, but because they quiver a bit or they don’t execute a move perfectly, you scream at them. No more. I’m not going to be a part of something that makes girls think they’re worthless if they aren’t perfect. Perfection is a myth.”

“He’s been to every home game and some of the away games.”

“Who?”

“Sebastian.”

“Yes. He comes to watch and cheer for Sam. We’ll still attend the rest of the games, as will my parents if they aren’t working.”

“We’ve already been practicing our Regionals piece.”

“I’m aware.”

“I have no one to take your place.”

“Rechoreograph my part out. If I broke my leg, you’d have to.”

“What would make you stay?”

“I told you already. Lead the Cheerios to victory. Be a leader, not a soul-crushing tyrant that terrifies people into performing under duress.”

“Not mincing words, I see.”

“Waste of time.”

“You stood up to Schuester as well.”

“I did. He may kick me out too. I haven’t heard yet. I don’t have to invite difficulty into my life. It’s there every day when I try to live a normal life.” Kurt stood. “I’m going to go eat before lunch ends.”

Kurt got to the cafeteria and found that none of the New Directions were there. He walked back out and went to his SUV. He texted Sebastian a single line – “I miss you.”

Kurt attended his afternoon classes and headed straight to the shop again. He worked until closing and headed home. When he got there, no one was home. He grabbed up his laundry and got it all done, while making and eating dinner since he didn’t know where anyone else was.   He finished up the rest of his homework for the week, barring a new assignment being given out the next day. He read for a while and eventually called Sebastian and they talked for a while before he went to bed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Friday morning, Kurt spent the time he would have normally used for last minute schoolwork or attending some sort of before-school rehearsal to bake cookies for Sebastian. He cut the recipe in half and packed up the whole batch and took them to his room and hid them in his dresser drawer. By the time Finn and Sam came downstairs claiming they could smell cookies, all they found was Kurt cooking eggs.

“Good morning,” he said as he plated his eggs and washed the skillet quickly and left it in the drain to dry while he ate at the island.

“Where are the cookies?” Finn said.

“No cookies. There’s cereal or you can cook for yourself. Where’s Carole?”

“Oh, Mom left yesterday to go to DC.”

“I didn’t know she was leaving. When is she coming back?”

“Um, Monday I think. Or maybe it was Tuesday. I don’t remember. She left money to order pizza once and Chinese once and said to make Chili. So, I guess that means Monday she’ll be back,” Finn said.

“And your plans?” Kurt asked.

“Video gaming marathon starting tonight after the game.”

“And lasting until?”

“Sunday night.”

“Good to know.” Kurt put his plate and fork in the dishwasher and headed back upstairs. He grabbed what he needed for school and headed out, even though it was still a little early.

He got to school, put what he didn’t need for the morning in his locker, and went to peek in the gym. Coach Sue was there, yelling as usual. Kurt headed to his first period classroom and sat in his seat reading ahead until class started.

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Sebastian packed for the weekend and put everything, including his coat, in the car before he headed to class Friday morning. Since he was going to stay until Monday mornings, he decided he would just drive in his uniform and wash it while he was home and rewear it Monday on the way back, allowing him to leave 15 minutes earlier than he had when he went back to change before he left.

As soon as the last bell rang, he left the building, jogged to his car, and headed to the shop. He found that leaving even those few minutes earlier really cut down on the traffic he got on the interstate near Columbus and he made good time and arrived at the shop at 4:30. He quickly moved his stuff from the car to the Navigator and headed inside.

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Kurt was leaning over the engine of a minivan when Sebastian walked into the work bays. Sebastian walked over to him, calling out to him as he got closer. He didn’t want to startle him and make him drop or damage anything.

“You’re early!”

“I planned more efficiently this time.”

“Well, Mr. Efficient, I’m glad to see you. Are you going to change or do the books in your uniform?”

“I’ll just work on the books until I get everything done. If I get it all done, I’ll change and come out and learn more about fixing cars.”

“I’m going to take a 5-minute break and get a drink,” Kurt said and winked at Sebastian. He walked to the lounge and Sebastian followed him. “I missed you a lot.” Kurt didn’t touch him, but he leaned up and kissed him.

“I missed you too.” He put his hands on the sides of Kurt’s face and kissed him again. “Let’s get our work done and go home.”

Kurt nodded and went back out to finish the car he had been working on.

Sebastian looked up when Kurt came into the office at 6:30. “I’ve got about 10 more minutes before I’m done.”

“I’ll go clean up and change. The game is at 7:00. If you change here, we won’t be quite as late.”

“Alright. I finish up and go grab my clothes and change.”

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They were just a few minutes late, but the game hadn’t started yet. They found Tina and sat with her. She was surprised to see Kurt.

“Did you get hurt or something? Why aren’t you cheering?”

“I quit.”

“Oh. Did you quit Glee too?”

“No. But I’m not sure I’m still a member. Mr. Schue never said one way or the other. I guess I’ll find out Tuesday when I try to go to rehearsal.”

“I guess.”

“Are the girls have a spa weekend?”

“Not the whole weekend. Just tomorrow evening and Sunday morning.”

“Ah, the guys are having an entire weekend starting tonight until Sunday night.”

Sam scored and all three of them stood up and cheered.

They started paying more attention to the game and quit talking. The hardest part for Kurt was watching the half-time show where he was supposed to be featured and Santana was singing his song. One of the other Cheerios had replaced her and was dancing and singing back up with Brittany.

The game finally ended, after a second half that seemed to be three times as long as the first half. They waited for Sam to come out of the locker room.

“Good game!” Kurt said when he came out.

“Thanks.”

“Do you want us to take you to the shop to pick up the car?”

“Nah, I’ll just have Mike drop me off to get it on the way to the house. You two can head on out to do whatever you’ve got planned.”

“Alright.”

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Even though they stopped and picked up a 10-pack of tacos, they managed to get home before anyone else. Kurt parked the Navigator in the grass alongside the driveway since there would be so many cars arriving soon and he wanted to be able to leave without getting a bunch of people to move their cars. He grabbed his satchel and Sebastian’s as well. Sebastian grabbed his suitcase and his uniform that he had laid on top of it.

They hung up their coats and took everything upstairs. Kurt grabbed two drinks from the kitchen first. Sebastian unpacked and put the suitcase under the bed.

Kurt sat the bag of tacos and the drinks on the desk and pushed his vanity chair up to the desk. “We’re going to eat up here and hibernate.”

“Sounds fun. I hardly have any schoolwork this weekend because I was very diligent all week. I only have the extra reading assignment that was given out today in government, some online Library of Congress document I have to look up and read and answer questions about.”

“Good because I did all of my homework already and I didn’t get any extra assignments today. Let’s eat.”

Kurt ate four tacos and claimed he couldn’t eat the fifth one, but Sebastian persuaded him to split it with him.

“So, we’re hiding up here all weekend because the Glee Guys are hanging out here all weekend again?”

“Yep. And Carole’s gone. I’m not going to get blamed for their shenanigans and all of the missing food. They’ll probably spend all of the money she left on pizzas tonight and then raid the house for food all day tomorrow.”

“How many people come here when they come? I’ve never gone down to see.”

Kurt counted. “Maybe 7, if everyone comes.”

“That’s a lot of food.”

“It is. But I paid for this and kept the receipt. Not that I want reimbursed, but I’m just proving a point. I mean this way I can prove that we ate, even though they didn’t order us anything.”

“When did you get the TV?”

“TV?”

“It’s in front of your dresser on the floor in a box.”

“Oh, I didn’t even see it yet. I had our bags, the food, and the drinks in my hand and I walked straight over here.”

“There’s a note on top that says, ‘Finn - put this in Kurt’s room.’”

“Maybe he was supposed to do it yesterday and didn’t.”

“I’m texting Carole.” Kurt got his phone out and sent her a text. He got a phone call a few minutes later. He talked to her for a few minutes and then hung up.

“She says it’s for us because she talked to Dad and he agreed that Finn and all of his ‘guy weekends’ aren’t fair to us never letting us use the TV downstairs. And that it was here on Thursday in the dining room when she left. She told Finn to bring it up, but obviously he didn’t until this afternoon.”

“Alright then, let’s make room for it and get it unpacked and set up.”

They moved everything around on the shelves and repositioned several to make room for it. They unboxed it and ran the cord down the small hole in the lowest shelf to plug it underneath in the area that had the doors. The whole process was delayed by the numerous kisses that were exchanged during the set up.

“Oh, good. It has batteries with it to put in the remote.” Kurt put them in and started setting it up. “This is really cool. None of our other TVs are ‘smart’. We can watch Amazon and Netflix without the TV hooked up to anything.”

“That’s cool.”

Kurt put in the password for the internet and then logged into Amazon first, then Netflix. “Done.”

“I’ll put the box in the hallway.” Sebastian put all of the packing material back into the box and put it out. He locked the door behind him when he came back in. “What would you think of us getting a keyed lock for the door at some point?”

“Why?”

“I guess I’m not all that keen on Finn looking around in here.”

“Okay. I’ll get one this week and install it.”

“So, how about I read whatever this assignment is and you read a book and then we’ll shower and we’ll have the whole weekend free?”

“Sounds like a good plan.” Kurt picked up the trash and tossed it in the trashcan.

Sebastian had already pulled his laptop out to read the text of his government assignment and sat down at the desk. Kurt pulled a book down off the shelf and sat in the chair and read.

Thirty minutes later, Kurt heard Sebastian typing. Fifteen more minutes and he was shutting the laptop down and putting it in his satchel.

Kurt put his book back on the shelf and stood up. He turned the salt lamp on, the other lights off, and walked toward the bathroom and Sebastian followed him.

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“Give me a one minute head start.”

Sebastian laughed. “Okay.”

Kurt sprinted over to the dresser, pulled out the cookies, put them on Sebastian’s pillow, and got in the bed. By then Sebastian came out of the bathroom.

“Time’s up.”

“Come on.”

He walked around to his side of the bed and found the cookies. “You made me cookies?”

“I did. This morning before I went to school.”

Sebastian opened the container took one out and popped it into his mouth. He put the lid on and put the container on his side shelf. He chewed and swallowed. “Delicious.” He got into bed.

“The other surprise is that I put an extra blanket on the bed this morning, so we wouldn’t need pajamas.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Kurt scooted closer and gently moved Sebastian’s arm so he could lay his head on Sebastian’s shoulder and turn him into a human body pillow.

“Comfy?”

“Yes. Are you?”

“Mmm hmm. I like being your pillow.”

“Let’s sleep. We’ll get up early and make ourselves breakfast while they’re all still passed out from staying up all night.”

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Kurt worked on packing sandwiches with ice packs in a lunchbox while Sebastian cooked them breakfast. He served it on paper plates so they could eat without banging plates around and making noise. Kurt carried the lunchbox up and Sebastian carried their breakfast up on a tray. They made it back upstairs without being spotted.

Kurt sat the lunchbox down on the dresser, shut the door quietly, and locked it. “We made it. You have no idea how many times I’ve been roped into cooking for all of them.”

“They don’t invite you, and then expect you to cook for them?”

“Pretty much. That’s why I try to not be around.”

“So we eat and we get dressed…”

“And then we go back to work.”

They both started eating.

“You packed a lunch.”

“I did. Not a big one – just a couple of sandwiches. We can either come back here after we finish, or we can go out somewhere for a while before we come back.”

“Like where?”

“Well, I don’t know. We can talk about it while we work. We can go in as soon as we get dressed. We can get a few hours in before anyone else shows up and we can figure out something fun to do.”

They both got dressed.

“Okay. You carry the cooler, put the tray back in the kitchen, quietly grab our coats, and meet me in the garage.”

Kurt carried the TV box down and left it in the garage. He was waiting by the door that led out the side of the garage. Sebastian handed him his coat and he put it on. Kurt pressed the alarm code and went out the door and locked it behind them. They got in the Navigator and left.

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Sebastian spent the morning changing tires and doing oil changes once the shop opened. Kurt continued to work on the car that he started on when they had gotten there. By 11:00, they were backed up. Kurt switched from the car to helping change tires. Obviously the snow flurries had made quite a few people decide it was time for new tires. They stayed to help with the tire changes and headed out at 1:00.

They went in the changing room together and switched into their clothes and tossed the coveralls in the hamper.

“Okay, so I thought about it. How about roller skating or bowling?”

“Well, I’ve never done either.”

They laced their boots up and put their coats on.

“Well, we’ll do one today and one another weekend. You pick. No one who considers themselves cool goes roller skating, so the likelihood of running into anyone who hates me is pretty slim. And I know a bowling alley that one of my dad’s buddies runs, so no one will hassle us there either.”

“Let’s try the skating.”

They ate the sandwiches on the way to the skating rink.

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Twenty minutes later, they pulled up outside the skating rink. They went inside and rented skates and went out into the rink. Kurt patiently taught Sebastian how to skate and he caught on quickly. Fifteen minutes later, he was skating around the rink on his own.

“This is fun.”

“Dad used to bring me here because I liked it and it was a decent place to have some fun. I haven’t come often since maybe sixth grade. Junior high kids hang out here because their parents are willing to drop them off and leave them, so I avoided the place for several years.”

The music changed and the lights dimmed. Over the PA, the announcer said, “Couples only.”

Kurt looked at Sebastian and they skated to the edge of the area only to nearly run right into Quinn and Tina.

“Alright, boys,” Quinn said. “One of you needs to skate with me.” Quinn took Sebastian’s hand and led him back out into the rink. She turned and skated backwards.

Tina took Kurt’s hand and he turned and skated backward. “Are you two dating yet?”

“Yes.”

“Finally.” Tina laughed.

“What do you mean?”

“That poor boy has been pining for you for ages. I kept telling him to tell you, but he insisted that you were too good for him. I told him that he was wrong, but he seemed pretty convinced.”

“Well, I asked him two weeks ago.”

“Congratulations. He seems really nice. And he’s totally hot.”

Kurt laughed. “Thanks. I didn’t realize that you and Quinn had gotten friendly enough to be out doing things together.”

“Well, she’s finally feeling like herself again, but a new nicer version of herself. She says it’s who she was before she decided that being HBIC was her high school goal. Now, she’s focusing on her future, which she doesn’t want to be in Lima.”

“I completely agree with her on that.”

The lights came back up and the music went back to an upbeat dance song. Kurt turned forward and kept skating with Tina.

“We’re going to the movies next. Wanna come with us? The two of you can sit next to each other and with us with you, no one will hassle you.”

“What are you going to see?”

One For the Money.”

“Let’s catch up to them and you get Quinn alone and make sure it’s okay with her. Then I’ll ask Sebastian.”

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An hour later, they were in line at the movie theater.

Kurt said, “Carole says the books are really funny. I’ve never read any of them.”

“Oh, we’ve both read them and they are funny. We’ll see if the movie adaptation is any good,” Quinn said.

They each paid for tickets and went through the turnstile. Tina sat next to Kurt and Quinn sat next to Sebastian. When the lights went down, Kurt pushed the armrest between them up and took Sebastian’s hand.

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“Do you guys want to go with us to this cool Greek restaurant we found?” Tina asked.

Kurt looked at Sebastian, who nodded. “Sure. Is it close by? Otherwise, we’ll need the name so we can pull up a map.”

“Just follow us. It’s not far from here.”

“Alright.”

Kurt and Sebastian got into the Navigator. Kurt leaned toward Sebastian who leaned in and they kissed. “You’re okay with this, right? You’re enjoying yourself?”

“Sure. I’ve been sitting with Tina for every home basketball game all season. Quinn seems nice enough.”

“I wouldn’t tell her any secrets. But she’s coming around. She’s been through a lot and it’s taken a toll on her. She finally seems to be finding a balance in her life – like she’s going to be able to move forward and let her past stay in the past.”

“Your Glee Club seems to be comprised of a lot of gossips.”

“Mostly gossips, I think. Except Sam. I’m not sure that there is anyone else trustworthy in the whole group.”

“You.”

“Thank you. It looks like we’re here. If it’s super pricey, we can always say we ate before we went skating and share something. I wasn’t actually planning on spending too much on dinner. We can’t save if we eat out at pricey places every weekend.”

They went inside and waited for a table with the girls. Once they were seated they opened the menu to look at the choices.

“You should definitely try the gyros since you’ve never been here before,” Quinn said. “But don’t order two dinners. Unless Sebastian eats like Finn, the two of you should split one. They’re huge.”

“Thanks for the information. We’ll do that. Do you two come here a lot?”

The waitress came quickly and took their order.

“We’ve been here four or five times. The food is really good and we always split a meal,” Tina responded. “Why are you out and about when the Glee Guys are all at your house?”

“I’m not a Glee Guy,” Sebastian said.

“Obviously, but Kurt is.”

“Nope. Actually, I’m not.” His statement was spoken with such finality that neither of the girls asked anything else about it.

“So, how are Regionals rehearsals going for the Warblers?” Tina asked.

“Diligently,” Sebastian smirked and winked.

“That’s more than I can say for us. I’ll be glad when Monday is over,” Quinn said. “I’m sick of being in the pool. It’s a disaster for my hair. I keep having to condition it. Tina said you quit the Cheerios.”

“I did. I’m done being berated and harassed. We’ll find out Tuesday whether I’m even still welcome in Glee.”

The waitress was back with their food really quickly.

“I’m going to push for a vote from the members,” Tina said. “Mr. Schue can’t just throw you out because you had a job you had to do.”

“I think he can. Whether he will or not remains to be seen. He could just strip me of my solo and give it to someone more ‘loyal’ and take my featured lines away in the other song, leaving me to sing back up as usual.”

“That would be so wrong,” Tina said.

Kurt and Sebastian tried their food.

“This really is good,” Kurt said. “Being wrong hasn’t stopped him before. If he kicks me out, he does. It’s not the end of the world. If I work an hour extra each day after work, I’ll have a lot more money saved up for when I move at the end of the school year. Even after taxes, being in Glee is costing me about $80 a week.”

“That’s like over $1000 by the end of the school year,” Tina said.

“Yep. And $1000 could go a long way to paying rent during next school year so that I don’t have to work so many hours during my first year of college since I am sure it will be a lot more like going to Dalton than it is like going to McKinley. Harder classes and more work. So, if he says I’m out, then I’ll just work more.”

“Where did you apply? I know Rachel’s still all NYADA or bust,” Tina said.

“I’m not saying until later in the year. I just don’t want to hear why people think I’ve made the wrong choice. I don’t need their approval to do what’s right for me.”

They continued talking while they ate. Once they were done, they went their separate ways.

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“We’ll go back in through the garage and see if we can manage to get back upstairs with no one seeing us.”

“Why are we sneaking into our own house?”

“Because I’m sure they blew all the money that Carole left for the whole weekend last night and I don’t want to be pressured into cooking for everyone. Finn will claim that we’re having the Chinese food tomorrow, since Carole said ‘pizza, Chinese, and chili’ and that I need to make the chili for tonight.”

“I see. So, stealth mode. Got it.”

Kurt unlocked the garage door and put the security code in quickly and shut the door back. He used the light from his phone to guide them across the garage. They got to the door leading into the house and Sebastian was so close behind him that he started kissing the back of Kurt’s neck. Kurt turned in place and kissed him gently. He turned back around and opened the door slowly to peek out and listen. He opened the door and they stepped into the hallway and he closed the door quietly and they headed upstairs.

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“We made it.”

“We did.” Kurt locked the door behind him. He walked across the room and put his coat on the back of his vanity chair. Sebastian put his on the desk chair.

“Shower, and then snuggling while we watch a movie? Or shower, and then making out while we listen to music?”

“All of it sounds perfect.”

Chapter Text

Sebastian pulled Kurt closer and placed soft kisses on his shoulder. “Are we going back into work today?”

“I hadn’t planned on it. I had planned on a nice long snuggle with you. Maybe a full-body massage for the sore muscles I’m sure that we both have after skating yesterday.”

“Mmm. I like your plans.”

“I thought you might.” Kurt brought Sebastian’s hand up to his lips and kissed his palm. Then he licked him.

Sebastian moaned. “Oh, God.”

Sebastian’s response surprised Kurt and emboldened him. He licked the palm of his hand again and this time he licked up Sebastian’s index finger and guided it into his mouth.

Sebastian nearly swore in French.

Kurt kept up with the licking and mouthing of Sebastian’s finger until Sebastian did start saying something in French that Kurt didn’t quite catch as Sebastian scooted back and rolled Kurt over to face him.

“That is far more sexy than I would have ever imagined.” And he pulled Kurt into a passionate kiss.

Kurt pushed Sebastian onto his back and decided to try out this new tool on other places. He figured out quickly that there were a lot of French swear words that he didn’t know. He teased Sebastian between kisses. “I’m going to need tutored in French swearing.”

Just assume it meansI love the way that feels - don’t stop.’”

“Sure,” Kurt laughed and licked and kissed his way down Sebastian’s neck.

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Kurt and Sebastian got dressed in pajamas after they got out of the shower.

“We’re going to have to contribute to your parents’ increased water bill if we keep ending up in the shower twice a day.”

Kurt laughed. He wrapped his hands around Sebastian’s neck and kissed him. “I love you.”

Sebastian wrapped his arms around Kurt. “I love you too.”

“Let’s get downstairs and get some food before anyone else wakes up.”

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Sebastian pressed the button on the remote continuing to scroll through the options. He finally stopped on one.

“Sure.”

“Are we even going to watch?”

Kurt laughed. “I don’t know. I think we’ll have to put our pajamas or clothes on and lay on top of the covers and even then I make no promises. I have to get a whole week’s worth of cuddles and snuggles and kisses in two days.”

“Let’s try this.” Sebastian propped the pillows up and leaned back. He made room for Kurt to sit between his legs and Kurt leaned back on him. Sebastian pulled the covers up in a U shape and covered them both up. He wrapped his arms around Kurt.

Kurt ran his hands along Sebastian’s thighs gently. Sebastian ran his fingers along Kurt’s chest. They made it through about 15 minutes of the movie before Kurt turned over, straddled Sebastian’s lap, and started kissing him again.

“We clearly don’t care about the movie,” Sebastian said and laughed as he slid down in the bed and pulled Kurt on top of him.

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“Is this normal?” Kurt asked.

Sebastian was curled up in his arms, lying on him like a body pillow. “What?”

“The constant desire to touch you and hold you?”

“I don’t know. I like it though. Maybe we’re just both really tactile people who never had any outlet for it and now we have each other.”

“I can accept that as a reasonable possibility. As long as you’re not feeling like this is all I want from you - because it’s not. I never really considered this possibility. I was so absolutely controlled with all the layers and practically never even wore short-sleeved shirts. I never expected to feel so at ease in my body with someone.”

“Well, I think you are beautiful inside and out. I think it’s all new, and nothing is wrong or abnormal or needs to change. As long as we are both wanting this much physical contact, then I think it’s fine.”

“And you do?”

“Want this much physical contact? I love touching you, so yes.”

Kurt ran his hand through Sebastian’s hair causing him to nuzzle in tighter.

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“I think we can do it. If we both work full time this summer, we can have enough money saved up only work 10-15 hours a week during the school year and not have to take out any loans.”

“So, we need to look into getting a place in August so we can move before school starts,” Sebastian said. He looked through their calculations again. “We can go in before the shop opens and work from 7-4 and still have time to enjoy the day since you get up so early every morning anyway.”

“Yep. And if we want a few days off in a row, we can just work longer hours the week before or after based on who wants time off. I want to save up the money we need, but I also want to go on some trips.”

“We can start making a list of places that sound fun and then pick a few.” Sebastian sat the notebook to his side and wrapped his arm around Kurt’s shoulders and pulled him closer. He kissed him on the top of the head. “I’m the luckiest guy in the whole world.”

“I think it’s a tie. Are we going to brave the downstairs to try to get some lunch?”

“When is Carole coming back?”

“Tomorrow, from what Finn said.”

“Alright, then. Brave face on. Let’s head down and forage for our share of whatever food is left.”

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Kurt found a package of boneless chicken thighs and put them on to boil while he continued to search. He started a second pot of water to boil as well. “Well, we’re either going to have to have the chicken by itself or we’re going to have to brave the family room to get to the big freezer to find some vegetables.”

“Alright. Into the fray we go.” Sebastian was laughing and took Kurt by the hand and headed toward the stairs and led them down to the family room. He ignored everyone in the room and headed straight for the storage room. He opened the freezer and they picked through the bags of vegetables.

“I got it.” Kurt grabbed a couple of bags of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. “We’ll have soup. I’ll make a little rice. It will be good. Let’s go back up.”

They didn’t make it 10 feet from the storage room door.

“Whatcha’ cookin’ for us?” Puck asked.

“I’m making vegetable soup, but only for the two of us and Sam can have some if he wants.”

“No fair. You always play favorites and feed Sam.”

“I’m not playing favorites. Sam IS my favorite. And I will always let him eat with us.”

Sam smiled. “Sounds good.”

“I’ll make enough for you too then. It will be done in about 15 minutes.”

“What about us?”

“What about you? What about us? The money Carole left for pizza and Chinese was supposed to include me and Sebastian getting to eat too. Did you order us any food either of those times?”

“Dude, we didn’t even know you were here,” Finn said.

“Because my Navigator sitting outside next to all of the other cars is invisible?”

Sam laughed.

“And you’ve deleted my number from your phone so you couldn’t text me and ask what we wanted?” Kurt took Sebastian’s hand and led the way back up the stairs. He heard Artie talking.

“When did that start?”

“Um, a few weeks ago,” Sam answered.

“And Burt knows?” Puck asked.

Kurt stopped and went back down the stairs. Sebastian followed him. He stood on the step next to him and wrapped his arm around Kurt’s waist.

“I’m right here, despite the fact that you seem to think otherwise. Sebastian and I are dating. He is my boyfriend. My parents know. Any other questions?” Kurt raised his eyebrows and tilted his head, almost daring them to say something else. He turned and went back up the stairs.

Kurt grabbed the instant brown rice from the cabinet and a measuring cup. “Can you grab the cutting board and a knife? Oh, and the tongs.”

“Sure.”

“Pull the chicken pieces out and chop them up.” Kurt poured the right amount of rice into the pot, stirred and put the lid on.

Sebastian chopped the chicken.

Kurt parboiled the vegetables to soften them enough to sautée them. He checked the rice, added the sautéed vegetables and chicken back, added some herbs and salt and stirred it up. He ladled it out into three bowls and moved them to the island.

Sebastian grabbed the pots and skillet and washed them quickly and left them in the drain to dry.

A couple of minutes later, Sam came in the room and sat down at the island with them.

“I’m sorry, Kurt.”

“I forgive you. Something’s been bothering you and you’ve been avoiding me and I miss you. I told you that. I know I’m not one of the guys and I can live with that, but losing your friendship is hard. Did I do something to upset you?”

“Or did I? Because you’ve been avoiding me too.”

Sam took a deep breath. “I’m working on it. I wanted something to work out, but it didn’t and I’m re-evaluating a lot of things and I’m just really stressed. Hanging out with the guys is mind-numbing and keeps me busy and my mind off things. Hanging out with you two makes me think.”

Kurt laughed. “It’s okay. Just don’t forget about us, okay? We’re your friends too.”

“I know. This is good. Thanks for letting me eat with the two of you, even though I didn’t stand up for you to Finn.”

“He was the one that had the money. It was his job to make sure that everyone got fed. If Carole had left the money with you, then that would be different. He needs to learn to be responsible. And leaving out half of the family members who actually LIVE here, who the money was actually FOR, is not being responsible. Plus, this food that we just cooked is for us, the family members that live here. The Glee Guys really need to stop showing up and acting like this is a free restaurant.”

“I saw the snack cabinet is empty and the pantry has probably been hit as well,” Sebastian said.

Kurt got up and looked in the pantry. “Yep. Did you see how much money Finn had?”

“He had 2 fifties, so $100.”

“So this weekend, the Glee guys have cost our parents what looks like a couple hundred dollars given that there’s no lunch meat, sliced cheese, chips, or any snacks left. There’s no milk, so I’m assuming the cereal got raided as well.”

Sam nodded. “Yesterday and today. I think it’s all gone.”

“Dad bought me and Sebastian a TV to put in my room because we can never watch the one downstairs. You can watch the sci fi series with us in our room whenever you have time or want to.”

“Okay.” Sam finished up his soup. He got up, rinsed his bowl, and put the bowl and spoon in the dishwasher. “Thanks again. I’ll help with the chili later.”

Kurt and Sebastian put their stuff in the dishwasher too and headed back upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“This week, I’m going to go to a pawn shop and get a DVD player so we can watch DVDs on the new TV,” Kurt said after he shut and locked their door.

“We didn’t WATCH the movie we watched earlier.” Sebastian laughed and pulled Kurt into a hug.

“Well, I think I might not be able to watch movies unless we’re dressed. Too much skin prevents my mind from focusing on the TV screen.”

Sebastian laughed even harder. “I have the same problem.”

“Want to play a game?”

“Strip poker?”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “If you want me to get undressed, you just have to ask.” He kissed him and flounced over the cabinet and opened it. “We have the games we had the last time because I never took them back downstairs and swapped them out.”

Sebastian chose and they set the game up. They played several different games as the afternoon went on. A couple of hours later, there was a knock at the door. Sebastian got up and opened it.

“You’re playing board games? I thought for sure you were up here fucking.”

“Not at the moment, Puck. What can I do for you?” Kurt asked.

“We need batteries.”

“And you lost the ‘who has to go ask Kurt’ contest?”

“Basically.”

“There in the garage on the shelf closest to… never mind. Come on. I’ll show you.” Kurt got up and went to the garage. Puck followed along behind.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“What’s with you and dating Warblers?”

“Name other options.”

“What happened with you and gelmet?”

“That’s personal.”

Kurt showed Puck the box that had the batteries in it. “This is all we’ve got. If you need something different, one of you will have to go out and buy some. If you take this box with you downstairs, bring it back up later.”

“Got it. You can go back to your exciting board games.”

“I will. Thanks. We were having fun.”

“Whatever you say.”

Kurt went upstairs and Puck walked down the hall a bit farther and went back downstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Crisis averted?” Sebastian asked sarcastically.

“Maybe. He took the whole box. Surely what they need is in there.”

“Is he always so crude?”

“Pretty much.”

“You didn’t correct him. You actually made it sound like we have been…”

“He said that just rile me up. We were doing exactly what he figured we’d be doing, something completely non-sexual – reading, watching TV, playing games. I’m too undesirable to actually find someone who would want to do what he suggested we were doing.”

“What?”

“He only said it in an attempt to get me to blush and deny it so that he could tease me even more later.”

“Well, he is really wrong, you know?” Sebastian got up and wrapped his arms around Kurt and put his hands on Kurt’s back pulling him flush, so they were chest to chest. “He’s absolutely wrong.”

“They all see me as a girl in a boy’s body. Not Sam - but the others. So, from their perspective I’m hesitant about sexual stuff and I want to be treated all delicate like a girl. I’ve worn women’s clothes and they equate that with me being feminine and girly and not a horny teenage guy like them.”

“I see. Pretty dumb.”

“It is, but it’s not like school is a great place for me to publicly announce that I am not a prudish girl, that I would be happy to trade hand jobs and blow jobs and sex positions with a guy.”

Sebastian burst out laughing. “I suppose not.”

“Plus, I wasn’t and I’m not interested in doing those things with some random guy ‘just for fun,’ as they would call it. I am a romantic. I want the person that I do those things with to care about me. I’m not a prudish girl, but I am a private person and those things are very private to me. So, I’m not interested in randoms and I’m not interested in detailing what I do in private to other people.”

“I know. If you had wanted hook-ups you could have found them. It’s not like there aren’t other gay guys or horny guys willing to experiment at Dalton.”

“Are you being propositioned?”

“No, but I’m observant. And even if I were propositioned, I’m not interested in hooking up either.”

“I know. You said you had plenty of opportunity for that in Paris.”

“I did. And I’m definitely not interested now.” He started kissing up Kurt’s neck. “I have you and you’re a million times better than some random hook-up.”

“You don’t know. I may turn out to be awful at blow jobs or sex.”

“Meh. Techniques can be improved with practice. I’m sure we’ll both need practice to get good at it. But we can work on it together.”

“Are you propositioning me?” Kurt kissed him.

“Possibly. Is it working?”

“Possibly.” He kissed him again.

Sebastian laughed. “Well, unless you’re opposed to the idea, I’m not going to keep my hands to myself while we make them all chili for dinner. Your dad said we can be ourselves here and myself is in love with yourself and I plan on making that fact well known.”

“Oh really?”

“Really. I’m going to hang all over you like I normally do when we cook. Dancing in the kitchen, kissing you – the normal stuff.”

“Well, the rumor mill will be well-oiled in Glee by Tuesday.”

“Do you care?”

“Not really. Not unless they start talking outside of Glee and I start to get bullied for acting on my gayness. But most of those guys are gone. It’s actually flattering that you want them to know.”

“Nah, flattery is fake. I’m good at flattery within the ‘charm them’ persona I’ve portrayed. This is real.” Sebastian tipped Kurt’s chin up and looked him in the eyes. “My only aim is to show you that I love you and their ridiculousness isn’t going to stop me from showing you. I didn’t wait 18 years to hide now that I have what I’ve always wanted.”

Kurt nodded.

“I understand about skating with the girls yesterday instead of each other and sitting so that one of them was next to each of us. I have no intention of getting the crap kicked out of us because this town isn’t accepting. But I also have no intention of hiding inside this house when your dad made it clear that we should feel at home here. This is my first home and I love you and…”

Kurt kissed him and he melted into the passionate kiss. They were both out of breath when they pulled apart.

“No complaints because I love kissing you, but what was that for?”

“Just because.”

“Just because?”

“Yep.” He leaned back in and resumed the kissing.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“I’ll put these back downstairs sometime this week and grab some of the other ones for next weekend,” Kurt said as they put the games back in the cabinet.

Sebastian propped the pillow up, sat down, and leaned back. He grabbed the book next to him on his shelf. “Read with me?”

“Sure.” Kurt grabbed a book and got in bed with Sebastian. Kurt set a timer on his phone in case they fell asleep or got too caught up in their reading.

When it went off, he laid his book on his side shelf and went to the closet to put some clothes on. He put on a pair of jeans and a Henley. He offered one to Sebastian, who took it and put it on with a pair of jeans. They headed down to the kitchen to get started on dinner.

Kurt made breadsticks like he had the last time they made chili. Sebastian remembered everything to do for the chili itself and got started. They flirted and kissed and cooked.

Once half of the breadsticks were in the oven, Sebastian slipped Kurt’s phone out of his pocket and turned some music on and stuck it back in his pocket. He offered his hand and Kurt took it and they slow danced around in the kitchen while they waited for the timer on the oven to go off.

When it did, Kurt pulled out the breadsticks and put them in a basket and covered them with a towel. He put the other half of the breadsticks on the baking sheets and put them in the oven.

He stepped back into Sebastian’s arms and they resumed their dancing, mixed with some kissing while they waited. Only this time, they had an audience because the guys had heard the timer go off and started coming up the stairs. Puck was carrying Artie and Finn had his wheelchair. Puck sat Artie in the chair and he rolled forward a bit. Mike, Sam, and Rory came up and stopped behind him.

Puck was the one to clear his throat to get Kurt’s attention.

“Yes, Puck?”

“Um, dinner?”

“Will be served in the dining room in a few minutes. The other half of the breadsticks will be done in just a few minutes.”

Kurt stepped back from Sebastian and walked toward the stove. He grabbed the pot of elbow macaroni and carried it over to the sink and poured it into the awaiting strainer. Sebastian had taken three bowls to the stove and put chili in them. Kurt put the drained pasta into the pot and stirred it up. Sebastian walked up behind him and wrapped his arms around him and started kissing the back of his neck while they waited the last couple of minutes on the breadsticks.

Some of the guys could see them from where they were sitting in the dining room. Kurt did his best to ignore their presence. The oven finally beeped and Kurt pulled the rest of the breadsticks out and put one over the top of his bowl, and two on Sebastian’s and Sam’s. He put the rest in the basket with the others.

Sebastian carried a stack of bowls into the dining room. Sam hopped up to get silverware and napkins to finish setting the table. Kurt grabbed the ladle and put it in the stockpot and Sebastian grabbed two potholders and put them on the table, so Kurt could sit the pot on the table. Obviously Kurt had decided not to play waiter and serve all of them.

Sam came back in the kitchen looking for one more bowl.

“You don’t need another bowl. Your chili is in a bowl already.” Kurt pointed to the island where the three bowls with chili in them already were sitting.

“Thanks!” Sam took it and went back into the dining room.

“You’re welcome.”

Kurt sat down at the island. Sebastian put ice in two glasses and poured them each some tea that he had steeped while they were cooking and sat down with him.

Puck came in the kitchen a couple of minutes later.

“Drinks?”

“You know where the glasses are, and if you guys have already gone through the cans of sodas that were in the pantry, you’re welcome to all the water you can drink.”

Puck went and looked in the pantry and came out empty handed. “Water it is.” He took a glass and filled it up and took it back into the dining room.

Kurt and Sebastian finished their food, loaded their stuff in the dishwasher, and headed upstairs.

“We’re not washing the pots and pans?” Sebastian asked.

“They didn’t help cook. They can clean.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, what did you think?” Kurt turned to the side, but was still leaning against the headboard.

“I liked it.”

Kurt pressed the power button on the remote and turned the TV off. “We can watch another one next weekend.”

“Sure.” Sebastian leaned forward and kissed him gently.

“You don’t have any homework to do?”

“Nope.”

“Snuggles?”

“Definitely snuggles, but shower first.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Well, your natural lag of a gag reflex is awesome.” Sebastian teased as they lay in bed snuggled up.

Kurt blushed. “Bas,” he responded embarrassed. Nuzzling his head down into Sebastian’s neck more.

“Hey, I had to work for ages to train myself out of it,” he laughed.

“Wait what? Why?”

“I was planning ahead and what else is there to do in boarding school when you’re bored?” He laughed.

Kurt laughed too. “I don’t know. Read a book. Learn something.”

“I did learn something. How not to gag on things.”

Kurt rolled his eyes and kissed Sebastian’s neck. “Good skill. A+ for execution.”

“Mmm. Thank you. We can learn together. It was awesome, though.”

“I agree.” Kurt ran his hands along Sebastian’s side and chest.

“Aren’t you tired after two rounds in the shower?”

“I am, but you’re here without any clothes and I can touch you.”

“Good point.” He laughed and pulled Kurt into a steamy kiss.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, they kissed in their room and hugged at the door. Kurt shut the door and went back upstairs to get ready.

He came home right after his last class since he wasn’t performing the proposal piece with the Glee Club after school. He hoped to catch Carole at home and talk to her for a little while before he headed to the shop.

He pulled into the driveway and her car was there. He grabbed his satchel and went inside. “Carole?” He didn’t get a response right away. “Carole?” he called out again as he walked toward the hall.

“In the laundry room, honey.”

He turned and walked into the kitchen and then into the laundry room.

“It seems we were invaded by locusts this weekend,” she said as he walked in.

“That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. Finn is going to consider me to be a snitch, but it’s getting out of hand. The guys showed up right after the basketball game Friday night and I’m not sure how late they all stayed last night, but it was well after dinner.”

“I see.”

“And they ate EVERYTHING. The snack cabinet is empty. As you can see the pantry shelves were hit as well. There’s no cereal, no milk, no lunchmeat, no bread, no cheese. And he didn’t include me or Sebastian when he ordered dinner Friday and Saturday. We had to fend for ourselves.”

“I left him $100, which should have been plenty even with him eating so much more than the rest of you.”

“He spent it all, just not on me or Sebastian. And they got aggravated when I refused to cook for any of them except Sam on Sunday at lunch. When you’re here, you cook for them. But when you’re gone, they expect me to cook for them, even though they don’t even acknowledge my existence otherwise. When I asked Finn why Sebastian and I didn’t get any of the pizza or Chinese, he said he didn’t know we were home. My Navigator was sitting in plain view, plus where else would be for the whole weekend? We live here.”

“I’m sorry, Kurt.”

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about. You don’t act like I’m invisible. Thanks again for the TV, by the way.”

“Oh, you’re welcome.”

“I don’t want you to think that I am opposed to Finn having people over, but between the $100 you left him and all the missing food, it looks to me like this weekend of theirs cost you and Dad about the same as our new TV. You’ve already taken in two teens in need of a home. Finn doesn’t need to add to your expenses by acting like this is a free restaurant for 5 more teens that don’t live here.”

“I’ll have a talk with him. Why aren’t you at Glee rehearsal?”

“Ah, well, I didn’t participate in Mr. Schue’s musical proposal to Miss Pillsbury this afternoon because I would have required me to miss three days of work last week. So, they are singing, ‘We Found Love in a Hopeless Place’ as a synchronized swimming choir this afternoon. I just came home hoping to find you here to talk for a few minutes. I’m still working my shift this afternoon.”

“That’s an odd thing to have a high school choir do.”

“I’m against big showy proposals like that unless the person being proposed to has already basically said yes in private and the public proposal is in front of friends and family.”

“Which high school students are neither friends nor family.”

“My thoughts as well. Anyway, it remains to be seen whether I will still be in Glee. I’ll find out tomorrow.”

“What do you mean?”

“Participation was mandatory and I refused.”

“I see.”

“I’ll be back after work. I figure you’ll be out shopping for a while. I’ll go with you if you want to wait until I get back from the shop.”

“Thanks, honey. I’ll figure out a plan after I get this laundry going.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt walked in the door from the shop and Carole was waiting for him in the living room.

“Are you still willing to go with me?”

“Sure.”

They headed back out.

“Do you want to take the Navigator? We can fit the bags in it more easily than we can your car.”

“That would be great, honey.” She grabbed the shopping bags from her trunk.

Kurt clicked the remote and unlocked the doors. Carole put the bags in the backseat. They both climbed in.

“I thought about what you said. We’re going to use two carts. I’m going to put everything that was eaten while I was gone in one cart so the receipt will show just the cost of those items. The other cart I’ll use to put the food for this week’s meals in.”

“Cool idea.”

“Thanks.”

Kurt drove to Sam’s Club. They went inside and each grabbed a cart.

“You know what? Put that back for now. Let’s go have a slice of pizza. I haven’t eaten since lunch on the plane.”

Kurt followed her over to the café area and they got in line. They each ordered a slice of pizza and Carole ordered a drink. They sat down to eat.

“I think what Mr. Schue did was wrong. Requiring high school students to participate in a personal event isn’t reasonable.”

“Going to school at McKinley isn’t reasonable. I figured that out ages ago.”

“I know, honey. Do you wish you had stayed at Dalton?”

“A lot of days, yes. But I missed Dad and I thought the people in Glee really actually wanted me to come back. I still haven’t actually figured out why it was so important to get me back. Most of them don’t even talk to me. Sebastian and I did run into Tina and Quinn at the skating rink Saturday afternoon.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“It was. We ended up going to a Greek place to eat with them and to see One For the Money.”

“Oh, I want to see that. Was it good?”

“We liked it, but I haven’t read the book, so I can’t compare the two.”

“So, were you even home when Finn ordered food Saturday night?”

“Yeah, we were back long before they ordered.”

“Okay. Just checking. I didn’t want to come down on him for it, if you weren’t actually home.”

“We ate at a Greek place with Tina and Quinn because they invited us. It was good. I think you’d like it.”

“I’ll have to go try it sometime.”

Kurt took their plates and tossed them in the trash. They walked back over to the carts, took two, and headed into the store to get the things on Carole’s list. They talked as the walked through the aisles and grabbed what they needed.

“Sebastian and I ate a dozen eggs between us. I used the chicken thighs and two packages of frozen vegetables and some of the instant brown rice to make soup on Sunday for the two of us and Sam. Oh, and Bas and I had one sandwich each on Saturday. I packed them at breakfast and we took them to the shop with us.”

“So, you and Sebastian ate less than $10 worth of food in two days, plus whatever you spent on your dinners on Friday and Saturday?”

“Right, and that was about $25, since the Greek place was a sit down place and we left a tip. We shared a dinner.”

“Well, Finn had $40 that should have been for you and Sebastian, so he’s going to come up with that and repay me. Next time I leave, I’ll give you the money for you and Sebastian and I’ll give Sam his money. I won’t be leaving Finn in charge of everyone’s money the next time.”

“Thank you. I’m not a big snitch, but it just really made me aggravated that the house was just swept clean of food with no thought to the cost to you and Dad.”

“It’s fine. I’ll broach the subject without mentioning that you told me.”

An hour later, they had two carts full of food and were loading them in the back of the Navigator.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“How’s Sebastian doing?”

“He’s fine. He’s still lead Warbler and they’re practicing to beat us at Regionals. They have a decent chance. He’s a better lead than Blaine was. He and I had a good weekend. We worked Friday until we had to leave for the game. We worked Saturday morning too until 1:00. A bunch of people came in wanting new tires, so he and I changed tires mostly.”

“Burt seems pleased with his work on the books.”

“That’s good. Be prepared for some backlash from Finn. I don’t think he knew that Sebastian and I were dating until Sunday when I called him out for not feeding us.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll get an earful of ‘How come he’s allowed to share a room with his boyfriend and I can’t have Rachel spend the night?’”

“Ah. Yes, the ever popular ‘You’re not fair.’ Well, Rachel’s not 18. End of discussion.”

“If you say so, but I’m pretty sure he won’t consider it over.”

“Too bad for him.”

Kurt laughed. “She just turned 17 last month. He’s got a long wait before she’s 18.”

It didn’t take them much longer to get back to the house. Kurt pulled inside the garage to make it take less time to unload the groceries. He started carrying everything in. Carole texted Finn and Sam to come help. A few minutes later, they both came down the stairs and helped Kurt unload everything. Carole, Sam, and Kurt started putting everything away.

“Finn, have a seat.”

He sat at the island. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Can you explain to me why I came back to a house that had practically no food left in it?”

“You knew the Glee guys were coming.”

“Yeah, but here…” She pulled the receipt out of her wallet for replacing the food the guys had eaten and handed it to Finn.

“$118.43. What’s this?”

“It’s the receipt for how much food you and your friends ate. And that’s not quite complete since I didn’t go to the regular grocery store to get that stuff yet. Plus, I gave you $100 to feed the four of you dinner Friday and Saturday night. Is there any change from that?”

“Umm. No?”

Sam spoke up. “Tell her the truth.”

“I spent all of it on pizza and Chinese like you said.”

“I fail to see how 2 large pizzas and 3 pints and 1 quart of Chinese food came to $100. That’s barely $80, even with really good tips for the drivers.”

Sam gave him a look. “Finn. Tell her or I will.”

“Fine. I paid for everyone’s food, except Mike, Artie and Rory chipped in $10 each for the Chinese food because I didn’t have enough left to cover all of it.”

“And?” Sam said.

“And what? That’s the truth.”

“And the rest of the truth…” Sam stared at him.

“Fine! I didn’t order anything for Kurt or Sebastian.”

“Well, you’ll repay me $40 of your own money to pay me back for spending Kurt and Sebastian’s dinner money on your friends. If you want to cover your friends’ food, that will need to come out of your own pocket. I’m not running a free restaurant. And next you have Glee Guys’ Weekend here, the rest of the guys need to bring food and drinks to chip in. I’m not springing for another $150 in food plus money for delivery to feed them all weekend.”

“Yes, Mom.”

By then, Kurt and Sam had finished putting the groceries away.

Kurt asked, “What do you want me to start for dinner?”

“Oh, I bought those pizzas for dinner for tonight. I’m too tired to make anything. You should consider buying these the next time, Finn. These are a lot bigger than the delivery pizzas and they cost like half as much.”

Kurt turned the oven on. “Is it okay if I just go upstairs? I’m not really hungry.”

“Sure, honey. Thanks for helping with the shopping.”

“You’re welcome.”

Kurt went up to his room, got his books out and tried to get as much done as he could before he got too tired to stay awake. He showered and called Sebastian before he went to sleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt finished up his remaining homework the next morning before heading to school. Sam came out to ride with him instead of Finn, which made Kurt smile.

“Long time, no see.”

“Finn’s not speaking to me after last night’s confrontation.”

“I see. Well, if I’m not welcome in Glee this afternoon, you’ll need to find someone to drop you off at the shop afterward.”

“Alright. Do you really think he’ll kick you out?”

“My assumption is that I’m already kicked out. I didn’t go to the mandatory practices and I didn’t show up yesterday to perform.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been ignoring you.”

“I already said I forgave you. Things happen. Sometimes people just need time to regroup and figure things out.”

“Thanks.”

“So Finn’s not speaking to you?”

“Yeah, he says I broke some ‘bro code’ by ratting him out last night. Whatever. I have fun playing video games, but none of them are ever there for me like you have been, even when I’m being a moody teenager.”

Kurt laughed. “I’m not the fair weather friend type. Unless you specifically say, ‘Kurt, I don’t want to be your friend anymore.’ I’m going to assume that we are friends. And I’ll be here for you.”

“Well, if I ever say that, make sure and take me to the hospital for a brain scan or something.”

“Sure thing. You’d have to be touched in the head to not want to be friends with me anymore,” Kurt in his “I’m fabulous” voice.

Sam laughed at him.

Kurt pulled into the school lot and parked. They both got out and headed their separate ways.

“See ya later,” Sam said as he turned down the hall the opposite direction from Kurt.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After school, Kurt walked into the Glee room and took a seat in the back row on the right and waited for class to start. From the frigid response he got when the guys walked in, it seems that Finn told them what happened. Sam came in and sat next to Kurt.

Mr. Schue walked in right after the bell rang. He noticed Kurt’s presence, but said nothing. “So, today we’re going to work on ‘I Can Fly’. Everyone head to the auditorium.”

Kurt picked up his bag and put it on his shoulder to head to the auditorium.

“You’re welcome to watch, Kurt, but you made your choice last week.”

“That’s fine. I’ll just go to the shop and work. I’m not sure what you expected would happen if my dad got elected. You helped work on his campaign and wanted him to win. And don’t get me wrong - I’m proud of him for going and trying to make a difference. You supported him because he was in favor of keeping the arts in school. Well, he’s gone 75% of the time now and my part in all of this was to take up some of the slack with him gone so he wouldn’t have to try to train someone new on the weekends that he IS actually home. I worked 25 hours last week, plus went to school all day and turned in every assignment and did all of my reading, but you think I lack commitment.” Kurt just shook his head. “I’ll see you around.” He walked off and went to work.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

That evening, Kurt attended the away basketball game with Carole. He told Sam he’d go to all of his games and he couldn’t bring himself to attend an away game by himself, so he picked her up as soon as he got off. As soon as the game ended, he and Carole headed back to the house.

“There’s a plate of food for you in the refrigerator.”

“Thanks. I’ll just take it upstairs and get started on my homework when we get home. Is Dad coming home this weekend?”

“Unfortunately not as far as I know. That’s why I traded and went to DC over the weekend.”

“Alright.”

“Is everything okay?”

“It’s how I expect it to be.”

“That’s not much of an answer.”

“I don’t have a better one.”

They rode in silence the rest of the way home.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt grabbed his plate of food and a fork and took it upstairs to eat it without even bothering to warm it up. He just didn’t care. The only reason he even ate was because Carole had specifically made him a plate of food. He rinsed the plate when he finished and left it in his bathroom. He worked on his homework for a little while, then showered and called Sebastian. He went to sleep as soon as they hung up.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt drove to school alone the next morning. He had worked on his schoolwork for an hour and just wanted to get out of the house. He drove to the Lima Bean, but then didn’t get out. He just sat there thinking until he had to leave or be late to school.

He opened his locker to put some of his books in and found a card that had his name on it. He opened it and it was signed, “Your Secret Admirer.” He slipped the card into a textbook and then pulled the book out of his locker. He went to all of his classes and left for the shop after his last period, or at least he tried to. Rachel stopped him right as he closed his locker.

“Did you get your letter? Are you a NYADA finalist?”

He could tell by her response that she had obviously gotten hers. “Congratulations, Rachel.”

“Thank you. You didn’t answer me.”

“I did not get a letter from NYADA.”

“Oh, well, it must be on its way then.”

Kurt just nodded. “I have to go to the shop, Rachel.” He stepped around her and headed out the building.

“Kurt!” she yelled.

He stopped. She caught up. “Why are you leaving the building?”

“I told you. I’m headed to the shop – to work.”

“What about Glee?”

“I’m not in Glee anymore. I have to go Rachel.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt waited until Warbler rehearsal had ended to call Sebastian.

“You didn’t get Sam to put a card my locker did you?”

“Well, good afternoon to you too, Kurt. No, I did not have Sam put a card in your locker. Why?”

“Oh, well, I found one in there this morning. I didn’t think it was from you and I was going to toss it, but then I thought there was a tiny chance that it was and if so, then I wasn’t going to toss it.”

“Well, it wasn’t me.”

“Alright. Please don’t think I want you to. Don’t have Sam do it now that I’ve mentioned it. If you want to do something for me, don’t waste money on expensive greeting cards, just save your money to go out to try a new place together or to stay in and eat at home. I’d rather spend time with you than for you to spend money on cards or something.”

“I know. We’ve spent a lot of time talking and I’ve been paying attention. I’m on my way to dinner right now. I’ll call you later. I miss you.”

“I miss you too. I love you.”

“I love you too. I’ll be home Friday.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Oohh. Who’s the loverboy?” Jeff came up behind Sebastian.

“Kurt.”

“Really? Congratulations.”

“Thanks?”

“He’s a sweetie. Too nice for his own good most of the time.”

“He can be.”

“How long have you been seeing each other?”

“Two and a half weeks.”

“Cool. I’ll keep it to myself. I’m not a gossip.”

“Thanks, Jeff.”

“Sit with me and Nick, okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll come find you.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt put his phone away and got back to work on the car he had been repairing. When he got home that evening, he skipped dinner and headed to his room. He put his metal trashcan in the bathtub and took a lighter and burned the secret admirer’s card.

He did his homework, took a shower, lay down on his bed to do some more reading, and fell asleep. He woke up around 2:00 and realized what he had done. He picked his phone up and found a missed call and 10 text messages from Sebastian.

He texted him back and told him what had happened and apologized. He was kicking himself mentally when his phone vibrated.

He answered it quietly.

“I’m so sorry. I must have forgotten to turn my ringer back on after school. I wasn’t ignoring you, I promise. I told you I wouldn’t do that passive-aggressive thing. I really mean that. I’m so sorry.”

“Kurt, slow down. I’m not angry with you. I was just worried. I said I’d call back, but you didn’t answer, and that’s not like you.”

He took a selfie him lying in the bed with his books. “Attack of the boring homework” was his caption.

Sebastian heard the incoming text ping and looked. “I see you’ve been sleeping on your books. I’m fairly certain knowledge cannot be obtained by osmosis.”

“It’s a shame. It would be much more efficient, although not terribly comfortable.”

“I’m glad you’re okay. I’m going to go back to sleep. You too, okay?”

“I will. I love you and I didn’t mean to worry you.”

“I know. I love you too.”

Kurt turned the ringer back on and put the phone on his shelf. He moved the books to the desk and got back in bed, under the covers this time, and went back to sleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt found another card in his locker Thursday morning and Friday morning. He didn’t bother to open either of them. He just put them in his satchel to deal with later.

During third period on Friday, a pass with his name on it was delivered. He opened it and he was supposed to go to Miss Pillsbury’s office. He quietly packed his stuff up and left.

She ushered him in and closed the door behind him.

“Good morning, Kurt. Please have a seat.”

“Alright.” Kurt said down and placed his satchel in the empty chair next to him.

“It has come to my attention that you may be in need of someone to talk to.”

“You mean Rachel’s been here to tell you personal information about me.”

“Well, when you -”

“When I put it that way,” Kurt interrupted her. “it sounds like you’re part of the gossip chain at this school.”

“Well, yes.”

“Pray tell, what has she told you.”

“That you quit the Glee Club and that you quit the Cheerios and you didn’t apply to college after all.”

“Well, she’s one-third right.”

“Which third?”

“The Cheerios part. I decided that I am no longer interested in being berated for an hour before school every morning. I did not quit Glee. I was given a choice and the choice I made resulted in Mr. Schue removing me from the group. And I already told you that I applied to college, so I have no idea why you believed that part.”

“You didn’t ask me what I believed about what I had been told. You ask me what she had told me.”

“Right. My mistake. So, now that you have had your gossip corrected, am I free to leave?”

“Do you want to talk about anything?”

“No.”

“Well, I would like to ask you a question.”

“Alright.”

“You didn’t participate in the proposal.”

“That’s not a question, but it is an accurate statement. I had obligations to my father to show up to work my assigned shifts and I did not have the ability to rearrange the work schedule to accommodate for me missing three days of work in a row last week to rehearse the number in the pool.”

“I see.”

“You are wearing an engagement ring, so congratulations seem in order.”

“Thank you.”

“Is there anything else? Or can I go back to class?”

She took out a pass and wrote Kurt’s name on it for him to go back to class.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

That afternoon Sebastian showed up at the shop and got to work on oil changes and tire rotations. It was his weekend to go back to the shop on Sunday morning and work while Kurt was in Cincinnati. They had figured it out a few weeks back. Kurt was getting tired of driving there every weekend, so he moved his lessons to every other week. And on those weekends, Sebastian would work extra hours doing the books since he could do them without supervision.

Sam came in to work for a couple of hours after Glee and took the car when he left.

When the shop closed, Kurt and Sebastian changed and headed to the game. Kurt pulled into the school lot and reached over and took Sebastian’s hand and squeezed.

“Just two more next weekend and then the basketball games will be over and we can do something else on Friday nights.”

“It was fun when you were cheering. It’s less fun when you’re not, although I do like sitting with you.”

“I have a surprise for you at home.”

“Mmm. I can’t wait.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They stood as close to the exit doors of the gymnasium as they could toward the end of the fourth quarter. As soon as the buzzer sounded, they left and went straight home.

Kurt pulled in the driveway to find it empty, except his dad’s truck. “How about we make a super fast breakfast-for-dinner omelette? I don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. It’s already late and I didn’t eat lunch.”

“That’s fine. You chop some vegetables or cheese or whatever and I’ll put this upstairs and come right back down and help you.”

Sebastian gave him a quick kiss and hug and hung his coat up and headed upstairs. Kurt hung his coat up and headed into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and found a glass bowl with a lid and a note on it - “Kurt and Sebastian’s”.

He took it out and poured the contents into a pot and heated it up. Sebastian came in the room and saw a pot on the stove and looked confused. He walked over to Kurt and wrapped him in his arms and kissed him.

“Carole left us soup. I’m just warming it up.”

Sebastian just nuzzled into Kurt’s neck, took a deep breath, and held him close.

Once the soup was warm, Kurt ladled it into two bowls and they sat at the island and ate. They cleaned up the dishes and headed upstairs after they finished.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian was holding the two cards Kurt had found in his locker on Thursday and Friday.

“I burned the first one. I figured it was a practical joke and I wasn’t in the mood. When a second and third one showed up, I didn’t open them. But who would waste that much money on a practical joke? I mean most of the guys who would like to make me feel special just to torment me later would rather spend $4 buying junk food than waste it buying me cards.”

“I don’t know. But I guess as long as you just ignore them, the person will get the hint that you aren’t interested.”

“I guess. Let’s just forget about that. Do you want your surprise now or later?”

“Now, of course.”

“Alright. Close your eyes.” Kurt pulled the container of brownies out of his dresser drawer and closed it. He walked over to the desk and sat it down. “Open your eyes.”

He looked at Kurt first, who looked at the desk. Sebastian turned a little and saw the container. “You made me brownies?”

“I did. This morning. So, they’re fresh.”

Sebastian opened the container and took one out and took a big bite. “So good. Thank you.”

Kurt straddled his legs and sat down on his lap. “You’re welcome.”

Sebastian stuffed the rest in his mouth and wrapped his arms around Kurt. Once he swallowed, he looked up and offered Kurt a kiss, which he gladly accepted.

“Chocolate kisses,” Kurt laughed. “How much homework do you have?”

“Only an hour or so. Something that was assigned this afternoon. Next week, I think I’m going to ask this teacher on Thursday what the extra assignment on Friday will be and explain that I go home and work on Friday afternoons. And it would help to not be given any additional surprise assignments on Fridays.”

“You can try.” He leaned down and kissed him again. “Why don’t you try getting it done now and I’ll go do our laundry and pack us a lunch for tomorrow.”

“Alright, but a few more kisses first.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

A little over an hour later, Kurt returned with a basketful of clean clothes. He put them away and put the basket back in the closet and came out in just his underwear.

“Well, that got my attention.”

“I thought it might.”

Sebastian smiled. “I have three pages left.”

“I’ll go start the shower.”

Kurt turned the shower on and got in and Sebastian was right behind him.

“I can read the other three pages on Monday during lunch.”

Kurt laughed and pulled Sebastian into a kiss. “I bet you can.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Kurt grabbed their lunches after they ate and they headed in to start working at 7:00. By noon, they were both ready to head out.

“Where are we going?”

“Electronics store to get some cables and a DVD player.”

“I thought you were going to a pawn shop.”

“Didn’t have time. This will be better anyway. I can get a warranty.”

They drove across town and went inside. The minute he entered the store, they were greeted by a young woman in her twenties offering them 20% off their total purchase if they’d sign up for a store credit card.

“Can I pay it off today?”

“Sure. You make payments at the service desk.”

“Alright.” Kurt took the clipboard and filled in his information.

She took it to a desk an input his info.

They walked over to her. “We’ll check back in a few minutes. We’re going to look at the DVD players.”

“That’s fine.”

Kurt grabbed the cords he needed first, and then they went to look at the DVD players. Kurt opened the store website and looked at the reviews as they stood there. He held the phone so that Sebastian could see as well. He picked up the least expensive one with the best reviews. They walked back over to the desk.

“You were approved. Give this number to the clerk and here’s your coupon,” she said as she handed Kurt two sheets of paper.

“Thank you.”

They got in line to pay. Kurt bought the warranty and got back in the service desk line to pay the balance. Sebastian stood in line with him and waited. Once the balance was paid they left the store.

“Well, that took longer than I had anticipated, but we saved about $20. So, not too bad.”

“So where to next?”

“To the hardware store briefly and then home to hook all of this up. I’m removing my Wii and games from the family room. I never get to play them and we’re hooking the TV to the stereo speakers so we get better sound. So, I have an HDMI splitter and some audio out cables and we’re going to go hook everything up to make our own home entertainment system in our room.”

“You packed us a lunch.”

“I did, but we can eat it in our room. I brought it in case we got hungry and had to stay late at work again. I didn’t want to spend $12 on lunch when I wanted to buy the electronic stuff.”

“Makes sense. Plus, my brownies are at home.”

Kurt smiled. He reached out for Sebastian’s hand and held it as he drove to the hardware store.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Alright. That’s it. Everything’s all plugged up and ready to go.”

“You’re the one who set everything up downstairs, aren’t you?”

“Yep. I’m sure Puck would have helped Finn do it, but my dad bought the TV last Christmas when I was home and did it myself. Finn probably thinks Dad did it because he wasn’t home when I did it.”

“What’s he going to say when he finds the Wii missing?”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s mine. He can buy his own if he wants one.”

There was a knock at the door.

Kurt went to open the door.

“What’s with the keyed doorknob?” Carole asked.

“Come in.” Kurt shut the door behind her.

“I bought a DVD player and reclaimed my Wii and games from downstairs. I hooked everything up in here and I’d like it to stay here. When we aren’t home, I don’t want any of my stuff taken back down to the family room since it’s really Finn’s room. If I do ever get around to inviting people over, they’ll stay up here with us.”

“I see.”

“I’ll give you a copy of the key to the room as soon as I get one made. It only came with two.”

“That’s fine.”

“I also don’t trust Puck to not come nosing through here now that he knows that Sebastian is my boyfriend.”

“I get it.”

“Oh, they raided the battery box while you were gone. Puck came up here asking for some. I showed him where the box was and told him to put it back, but I don’t know what they took.”

“I’ll check.”

“You came up for a reason?”

“Yes. I came up to tell you that I’m leaving now and picking Burt up. There will be a family dinner as soon as we get back. I’m sorry if I’m ruining your evening plans.”

“I thought Dad wasn’t coming home this weekend.”

“He wasn’t.”

“We weren’t going out. So, just let us know when to come down.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

When they finished eating the lunch Kurt had packed, he said, “Close your eyes.” He went in the closet and pulled out a bolster he had ordered and put it on the bed. He sat down on the bed and leaned back against it. “Open them.”

Sebastian was sitting at the desk and turned toward his voice. “Ooh, that’s cool.” He got up and climbed in the bed and leaned up against it next to Kurt. “We’ll be able to watch movies and read in bed a lot easier.”

“That’s why I got it. I thought it would be a good investment.” He wrapped his arm around Sebastian’s shoulders and he scooted in closer. Kurt grabbed the remote and started a movie.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt’s phone pinged at 7:00.

“Dinnertime.”

He and Sebastian headed down to the dining room. When they got there, everyone was already seated and there were pizzas in the middle of the table.

“Help yourselves,” Carole said.

Everyone grabbed a paper plate and some pizza.

“So, I’ve come back this weekend because of a couple of reasons. First and foremost is because of Finn’s engagement.”

“His what?” Kurt asked.

“He asked Rachel to marry him last week and she said ‘yes’. They’ve set the date for March 3rd in the afternoon after Regionals.”

“Rachel is 17.”

Burt responded. “We are aware of that, but Hiram and LeRoy are willing to sign the papers.”

Kurt felt like had taken drugs or gotten drunk. “Are you serious? Is this some kind of weird early April Fool’s joke?”

“It’s not a joke. I love Rachel and she loves me and we’re getting married.”

“Okay,” Kurt said. “Where are you going to live?”

“At the Berry’s,” Carole answered.

“Despite their engagement, I will not lift the ban on overnight stays for significant others unless both parties are 18 years old. The Berrys do not have the same rule and Finn will be allowed to spend the night wherever he wants since he is 18.”

“Where is the wedding going to be?” Kurt asked.

“At the courthouse more than likely,” Finn answered.

Kurt was certain that this was some kind of weird hallucination, but opted to say nothing this time. He just nodded. “You said there were a couple of reasons.”

“Yes. The second one we will discuss in about 15 minutes when our guests arrive, so finish up eating.”

Kurt ate a second slice of pizza and got up to toss out his paper plate and put his glass in the dishwasher. Finn put several slices of pizza on his plate and headed downstairs.

The others continued to eat.

“Should I stay or go?” Sam asked when he had finished.

Before Burt had a chance to answer, Finn was on his way back into the dining room. “Where’s the Wii and the games?”

“In my room.”

“I wanted to play one of the games.”

“Play your xBox or your Playstation.”

“They don’t have the Mario games.”

“Well, the Wii is mine and it’s staying in my room. If you want one, buy one.”

Finn stomped off back downstairs.

“What’s that about?” Burt asked.

“I’ll tell you later, sweetheart.”

“Fine.”

“Sam, you can stay or leave. It’s Kurt that can’t leave.”

Sam didn’t leave.

The doorbell rang.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Everyone moved to the living room and Burt answered the door. He took Mr. Schuester’s coat and Carole took Miss Pillsbury’s and they hung them in the closet.

“Please, come in and sit down,” Carole said.

“I asked the two of you to come over because I can’t believe the story that Carole told me and I came all the way back from DC for two days that I hadn’t planned to so I could hear it directly from you.”

“I’m not sure what you mean, Mr. Hummel,” Miss Pillsbury said very politely.

“Will, I want you to explain to me why Kurt isn’t in Glee anymore.”

“He refused to show up to mandatory rehearsals.”

“When was he given notice that these rehearsals would take place?”

“The Tuesday before they started.”

“So, the day before?”

“Yes.”

“And you consider that adequate notice for someone to get a replacement for their shifts for three days?”

“He just works for you.”

“As the shift manager for the afternoon shift. He’s in charge of the garage.”

“In charge?”

“Yes, as in he’s the most qualified mechanic in the shop in the afternoons. What did you think he was doing? Sweeping the floors? Cleaning tools?”

“Well, he’s just a kid.”

“A highly qualified ‘kid’ who is 18 and legally old enough and has enough certifications to run the place for the afternoon.”

“I didn’t know.”

“I tried to tell you, but you didn’t want to hear what I had to say,” Kurt said.

“My other question is this. Were the rehearsals for a school-sponsored official New Directions event?”

Mr. Schue pursed his lips, and then shook his head. “No.”

“Then, how the hell do you think you can get away with making an unofficial event mandatory?”

“I thought he was just being obstinate.”

“So, you thought you’d bully him into submission?”

“I should have listened to what he said.”

“Ya’ think?” Burt turned to Kurt. “How many hours did you work last week?”

“25.”

“And this week?”

“The same.”

“So, he goes to school for nearly 40 hours a week, works for 25 hours a week, does 10 or more hours of homework a week and because he didn’t have time to show up for 6 additional hours of rehearsals, you kick him out of the only afterschool activity he is in?”

Mr. Schue just looked sheepish, but said nothing.

“You make this right or I will. And that’s a promise. And I don’t just mean you let him show up Monday. I mean you explain to the rest of the group why what you did was wrong.”

Mr. Schue nodded.

“And that solo he had and the part he had in that other song – I better hear him singing those in three weeks at Regionals. He won that solo fair and square. You keep acting like he has less talent than Rachel and it’s a bunch of hooey. He already got early acceptance into one of the top five musical theater programs in the country. It’s his place to share the details of that when he feels ready to. And that information isn’t to be public knowledge. Whether he accepts that offer is up to him. It’s not the only school he applied to. But you need to get your prejudices checked. If he’s good enough for a top-five school, he’s been good enough for solos all along.”

“Congratulations, Kurt. That’s really good news for you,” Miss Pillsbury said.

“Thanks.”

“May I ask why the lead singer from the Warblers is here?” Mr. Schue asked.

“Sebastian is my boyfriend. He lives here.”

“And Sam is here too?”

“I live here too, Mr. Schue. You knew that I came back from Kentucky. I’ve been living here since like the end of October.”

“I see.”

“So, you’re going to straighten this out and Kurt will be in Glee on Monday?”

Mr. Schue nodded.

“Well, then, I have a couple of other issues to deal with while everyone is home, so I’ll walk you two out. I appreciate you coming over.”

Burt handed them their coats and they were on their way.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, next up is the four of you boys. Sam, go get Finn.”

“Yes, sir.”

Finn and Sam came back a couple of minutes later.

“Have a seat.” He waited for them to sit down. “I’ve heard that there have been lines drawn in the house and I’m not pleased. I was unaware of the fact that the Glee guys actually do not invite Kurt to participate in the guys’ weekends. I was under the impression that the girls got together on the same weekends and that Kurt chose to spend his weekends with them, not that he was intentionally excluded from the guys’ weekends. Now, obviously, he knew and chose not to tell me, which tells me a lot. He knew he wasn’t welcome and didn’t want to force himself into the group.”

Kurt nodded.

“Now, my biggest issue is that you have had the guys over at least once a month since the beginning of the year, right after we moved in. Apart from the 3 of you, there are 5 other guys in Glee from my understanding, not that all of them come each time, but that means that we are hosting half of these weekends or possibly more than half since I’ve only heard Puck and Artie’s names mentioned a couple of times as hosts. This last weekend cost me nearly $250. Take 12 months times $250 and that’s $3000. I paid less than that for the car that Sebastian and Sam are sharing.”

Finn looked shocked at the cost.

“So, you’re moving out in three weeks. I expect that you’re going to want to throw another one of these parties as a sort of bachelor party for yourself. I will allow the guys to come over, but I am not footing a $250 weekend. The guys need to chip in for the food delivery and they need to bring food to contribute to the snacking. I will allot $40 for you to spend on whatever you order in. The rest of the food you contribute needs to come from your own funds.”

“I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Yet, you see no reason why you shouldn’t get married in three weeks. Make up your mind. Either you are an adult or you aren’t. Adults do not expect their parents to foot the bill for $250 parties once a month. And I know that the Berrys are not going to foot the bill for you to host the parties at their place. They may allow it to happen there, but they aren’t going to pay for it.”

Carole spoke up. “Did you give Kurt and Sebastian the $40 yet?”

“No. I don’t have it.”

“Then you’ll go to the bank and withdraw it,” Carole said.

“Another thing. If any more of these guys’ weekends take place here, you’re cooking for yourselves. No more expecting Carole or Kurt or Sebastian to cook for you. I can’t believe you and the other guys had the nerve to ask Kurt to cook for you to start with. You exclude him and then treat him like your personal chef?”

“He’s the best cook,” Finn retorted.

“Well, maybe if he were part of the group, then cooking for the group might be something he would do. But don’t ask any of the three of them again.”

“Fine.”

“I spoke with Hiram and LeRoy. They are willing for you to live with them, but you will need to cover the cost of your own food. They don’t buy any junk food and they don’t intend to start. So, you’ll need to start looking for an afterschool job or you need to start working at the shop again, but you’ll still need to find a weekend job because I don’t have enough available non-mechanic work hours to cover the amount of food you eat, plus other expenses.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you eat about $500 a month worth of food. You need to pay for the insurance on your truck, your phone, and your food. That’s going to run you about $700 a month. I don’t have that many floor-sweeping, tool-cleaning, cash-register-running hours available since I don’t need anyone to do that on Saturdays and we aren’t open on Sundays. The most I can offer you is 15 hours a week, if you work from 4-7 every day like Kurt and Sam.”

“Sebastian works on the weekends.”

“He’s doing the books, which you do not know how to do. Your mom and I have agreed to pay for your car insurance and your phone until you graduate. Then those things will become your responsibility. So, if you eat less junk food, you might be able to get away with eating on the amount of money you make working 15 hours a week, but you won’t have any money for other things, like gas in your truck or going out to eat or the movies or anything.”

“This sucks. You’re just punishing me because I want to do something you don’t want me to do.”

Carole spoke gently, “Finn, if you are old enough to get married, you are old enough to pay for your own expenses. That’s how it works. You’re only living with the Berrys until you finish high school. You and Rachel will need to find your own place in New York since that’s where she’s determined to go to school.”

“You’ll have to work full time there, Finn. I’ve looked at the cost of living there. It’s like $1000 a month for an efficiency apartment.”

“What’s an efficiency?”

“It’s basically like a hotel room with a tiny kitchen in one area. The only part walled off is the bathroom.”

“$1000 a month for a single room with a bathroom?”

“Yep. And that’s not in Manhattan where the colleges are. Apartments there are about twice as much.”

“That’s insane.”

“That’s New York. You’ll have to work full time just to pay for your half of the bills, even if the Berrys agree to cover Rachel’s half until she gets out of college.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“Because of all of the research I did in the fall. Remember me talking about going to the library and getting books and doing research about going to college?”

“Sort of.”

“Well, that’s what I found out. I researched how much it would cost to go to school in New York City.”

“This is a very adult decision to make, Finn,” Carole said. “If you go to New York with Rachel, your name will be on the lease. You’ll have to continue to pay your half of the rent, even if you bail on her and come back to Lima. If you marry her, you are making a commitment to stay with her. I know people get divorced, but it would be a lot better to be certain of something before you make a commitment. You can’t just go and then decide you don’t like it there and expect her to come back with you. If she gets into college there, she’ll stay there for four years.”

“And New York is where she wants to work after she graduates. She has no plans to come back to Lima,” Kurt added. “Can Sebastian, Sam, and I be excused? It seems that you have a lot more to discuss with Finn that doesn’t have anything to do with us.”

“Not so quick. We’ll return to this, Finn. As for the last topic - when Carole is gone, it is not Kurt’s job to run this household. She will mark the family calendar to show the days she will be gone. On those days, you can either work together and cook together and eat together or whoever doesn’t want to participate can order their own food and have it delivered or go out and get it and pay for it themselves. Carole will post a menu on the fridge before she leaves the next time. Follow the menu and cook together, or pay for your own. Also, someone left the front door unarmed several times during the week. Every time that happens, the security company calls me and they send people out to check that the house is secure. Stop letting that happen. Put the code in when you go out or come in. I get charged after 3 security checks per month.”

“Anything else?” Finn asked.

“Effective immediately, Finn and Sam are responsible for cleaning their bathroom and the family room bathroom. Carole will do the hallway bathroom and our bathroom. Kurt and Sebastian will clean theirs. You’ll each vacuum your own rooms. Sam will do the upstairs hall and the stairway. Finn will do the living room. Kurt will do the dining room. Carole will sweep and mop the kitchen, laundry room, hallway bathroom and the downstairs hallway, and our room. Dusting will be decided later.”

“Alright,” Kurt said.

Sam and Sebastian nodded.

“Finn stays. The rest of you can go.”

Carole said, “Oh, Kurt, before you go, there were a couple letters for you in the mail today. They’re over on the table near the door.”

Chapter Text

Kurt put one of the envelopes down on his vanity, and then he tossed what seemed to be another greeting card into the pile with the other two that he hadn’t opened. “I think whoever is sending them is serious. The person went to the trouble of buying a stamp and mailing the card. That’s a lot more hassle than stuffing a card through the slots in my locker.”

“I think ignoring them is probably the best. Or I can open them and make sure they don’t say anything creepy and then we can burn them like you did the first one.”

“That works for me.”

Sebastian opened each one and put it back in the envelope afterwards. “Nothing creepy. Same handwriting. Each one just says, ‘Your Secret Admirer’ like the first one said.” Sebastian put them on the dresser. “But this time we burn them in the fireplace, not the bathtub.”

Kurt laughed. “Good idea.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, they headed downstairs at 6:15. Kurt went in the kitchen to make them a quick breakfast. Sebastian took the cards into the living room and burned them in the fireplace.

Kurt handed him an egg sandwich on a paper plate and a travel mug with coffee in it. They headed out the garage side door. Kurt dropped Sebastian off at the shop and drove to Cincinnati. After his lessons, he drove back to Lima. He got back to the shop at 1:30. He texted Sebastian and he came out five minutes later.

“I finished about 10 minutes ago,” he said as he climbed in the car and surprised Kurt by leaning over the console and kissing him. “I missed you. It’s lonely in there on Sundays.”

“It is. The shop always seems bigger when you’re by yourself.”

“How were your lessons?”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After they had eaten, they were lying in the bed talking.

“I feel bad after listening to your dad talk to Finn about his expenses. I know I don’t eat $500 worth of food a month because I’m only here 8-10 days a month, but your dad got the car and the phone and I feel like I should be paying for those things rather than him.”

“We will pay for those things. Dad can afford it right now. He has us on family policies as dependents – me, you, Sam, and Finn. But I’m guessing that getting married pushes Finn out of the dependent category for the car insurance. The phone, I don’t think it makes a difference other that he thinks Finn should pay for it himself.”

“Are you sure? I’d rather pay for the car insurance and phone myself. I mean, I’m working I should pay for my share. I always have.”

“We can talk to Dad about it.”

“Okay. I just don’t ever want him to think I’m not pulling my own weight.”

“We aren’t throwing $250 parties once a month. You’re doing well in school. You got into college with a scholarship. You help out around the house. You do your job well at the shop. He’s not disappointed in you. My dad isn’t a ‘beat around the bush’ kind of guy. You saw him with Mr. Schue last night. If he’s disappointed in you, you’ll know.”

“I suppose so.”

There was a knock at the door. Kurt got up to answer it.

“Come in, Dad.”

Burt entered and walked toward the window and sat down in Kurt’s chair.

“I came up to see how the two of you are doing. I don’t want you two or Sam to feel like I only pay attention when people screw up.”

“I know you don’t, Dad.”

“But Sebastian doesn’t know that yet. How’s school going Sebastian? Do you need help with anything?”

“No. School’s fine. I’m making all A’s. I’m tutoring 3 people each week, to make money. I’d tutor more, but I need the rest of the time to do my schoolwork most of the time. I’ve been working to get it done in four days so I have time to work and relax when I’m here on the weekends.”

“I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well. Are the Warblers treating you right?”

“Things are fine. After his initial bluster of challenging me, Blaine has given up trying to take the lead from me. I think he knows he’ll get it back for next year and he’s just biding his time as a ‘team player’ to win the spot back again.”

“At least he’s not causing a ruckus. I just wanted to let you know, that you two will more than likely be alone here for spring break week. I’m going to have Carole come to DC and Sam is going back to Kentucky. And if Finn follows through on his plan to marry Rachel, he will be living at the Berrys by then.”

“Okay. We’ll be fine, Dad.”

“I know you will. I just wanted you to know that the house won’t be overrun by people being here 24/7.”

“Thanks.”

“How about you? How are you doing?” Burt asked Kurt.

“It’s been a long couple of weeks at school.”

“Yeah. Carole said you quit the Cheerios, and then she told me about this Glee fiasco.”

“I’m still making all A’s and I’ve been putting more hours in at the shop than I did before.”

“And I appreciate that, but make sure you’re still saving time for some fun.”

“I am.”

“I’m glad to see the two of you happy together. And just in case you were wondering, I will not make Sebastian move to Finn’s room if he moves out to live with Rachel.”

“Thanks. I hadn’t actually thought about that yet mostly because I just can’t imagine them actually getting married.”

“I know, bud. I could see you and Sebastian married LONG before I could ever see Finn and Rachel married. I’m not sure he knows how to cook anything except grilled cheese sandwiches. And the two of them – I’m not even sure they get along. Whenever Finn opens his mouth, she talks over him. She corrects him all he time. And he’s never been interested in living in a big city as far as I know. We’re not really sure what’s making him feel the need to marry her before they even graduate or before she turns 18.”

“Are you asking my opinion?”

“Sure, if you have some insight.”

“He has no plan, no goal. The only thing he sees that he has is her. She’s desperate to keep him. She’s wanted him since sophomore year, maybe before that, but I didn’t meet her until sophomore year. Her desire to have him and how sure she is of herself makes him feel like he has some worth. He’s always relied on his popularity and position as the quarterback. When he didn’t get scouted he was devastated. He thought the key to his future was football. Then, it was gone. Now, she is all he has left. And he’s holding on as tight as he can.”

“So, you don’t think he actually loves her? He loves the fact that she loves him.”

“Something like that. Sit down with him and ask him what attracts him to Rachel. What qualities does she have that he finds attractive? What do they like to do together? What things do they have in common? What do they talk about – besides New York and Broadway and Rachel’s dream of being a star? I’m pretty sure all of those lists will be really short.”

“I’m going to go talk to Carole some more and then to Hiram and LeRoy too.”

“Thanks for the TV. If you lean forward, you can see that we got it all set up. I connected it to my stereo and hooked up my Wii. Oh, and I bought a DVD player so we can watch movies.”

“Looks good. I like that big pillow thing you got for your bed. Tell Carole where you got that so she can get one for our bed. It looks a lot more comfortable than just using pillows.”

“I’ll tell her. Thanks for defending me to Mr. Schue. I guess he just thought I was working in the shop for free helping out like I did when I was a kid. I tried to explain it to him. He is effeminophobic and slightly misogynistic. He needs to get over his issues.”

“I know, kiddo, but when Carole told me that you weren’t in Glee anymore I saw red. How does he get off thinking that using a high school choir to propose to his girlfriend can be considered a mandatory event? Anyway, you let me know if there’s even a shred of him acting like this is your fault.”

“Alright. But it’s not going to be pleasant in there anyway. I can tell from the way the other guys are behaving that Finn said something to them about getting in trouble over the food last weekend because they’re all being even more aloof than normal. They’ve had a year of coming here at least once a month and totally running the show for the weekend. And they’ve lost their choice gaming and free food location and they obviously think it’s my fault.”

Burt nodded. “I’m not sure there’s much that can be done about that. I should have stepped in sooner, but I wasn’t operating with all the needed information.”   He looked toward the door. “I saw the keyed lock. Be sure to get that copy to Carole as soon as you can.”

“I will.”

“I thought you were going to start having some of the Warblers over. You asked and made a big deal out it and then you haven’t done it.”

“Maybe soon.”

“Alright. Check the schedule before you choose a date. If you invite younger guys over, you need to do it on a weekend when Carole or I will be home. If they’re 18 already, you can have them over whenever.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“I’ll see you two at dinner. I’m gonna go talk to Sam now.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Why haven’t you invited any of the Warblers?” Sebastian asked, as he and Kurt leaned back against the bolster again.

Kurt took Sebastian’s hand and intertwined their fingers. “I didn’t want to make things harder for you at Dalton. Girls don’t have the market on gossip. I didn’t want you to get hassled. I didn’t know if you ever even told anyone else besides Nick and Jeff that you live here. I didn’t want to create a situation for you where a bunch of people of unknown trustworthiness would know something private about you.”

“This is one of the many reasons that you are the sweetest person I’ve ever met.” He scooted even closer to Kurt and put his arm around Kurt’s shoulders and rolled Kurt onto his side and into his chest and wrapped both arms around him.

Kurt wrapped his free arm around Sebastian’s torso and slipped his other arm behind him and hugged him. “I love you and I will always try to do whatever will protect you.”

“Jeff knows about us dating. I’m figuring he may have told Nick since they’re so close.”

“Obviously all of the Glee guys know now, and Quinn and Tina found out last weekend, so I’m sure the girls all know too. But since I didn’t attend rehearsal last week, it remains to be seen how much of a fuss anyone puts up about it, mostly Rachel.”

“Well, your dad and Carole approve and it’s their house, so if other people don’t like it, too bad for them.”

Kurt kissed Sebastian’s neck. “You definitely got the papa bear seal of approval this afternoon.”

“Would you get married young if it were legal here?”

“You know, I might. My parents were young. Sam’s parents were young. And then Dad and Carole got married later in life. I think age has a little to do with it, but I think the general lack of knowledge on how being an adult works I think probably destroys more young marriages than anything, especially if you throw a baby or two in the mix. But I think some people are fine getting married young. Other people need more time to be adults and find their way on their own before they try to do it with a partner.”

“I think what you just said – partner – is a big key. From what you’ve said, Rachel doesn’t seem to see Finn as her equal partner.”

“You’ve hit the nail on the head. When you came at me about Rachel wanting to take her ‘best gay’ to New York with her, that made me think about Blaine and Rachel both. And then the whole West Side Story pact made me more introspective. Rachel and Blaine see the people around them as accessories in a way. People are there to prop them up, hold their hands, build them up, and always be there for them. And unless Finn is interested in being her good-looking bag holder and human accessory, it’s not going to work out. She will always see her goal as the important one. And maybe on some level that’s what attracts her to Finn. He’s good looking and easy going. He’ll do whatever she needs done to achieve her goals because keeping her means helping her achieve those goals, and since he has none of his own, there’s nothing to keep him from being there for her 24/7.”

“I can see how you compare the two. From things you’ve said, Blaine didn’t ‘see’ you until you started to pull away. You were tired of his ‘Blaine and the Pips’ routine and he offered you a morsel to keep you from starving. He fed you just enough attention to keep you from leaving him. When he got Tony, you supported him, even though he took it from you when he had said he wouldn’t audition for it. He saw that you’d stick by him even when he stabbed you in the back. I’m sure he didn’t expect you to break up with him.”

“My newfound self-respect doesn’t make the people who’ve walked all over me happy – Blaine, Rachel, Coach Sue, Mr. Schue, Finn, some of the other Glee guys…”

“But it isn’t your job to make any of those people happy. You’re a decent person who treats people respectfully. Beyond that, people have to make themselves happy.”

“Which is kind of where we started. Finn isn’t happy. He has no goals. No list of things to accomplish to give him a sense of purpose. Right now I think knowing that Rachel’s wants him gives him that feeling of purpose – being needed.”

“So you’re happy with your choice of going to Cincinnati?”

“I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not disappointed that I’m not going to New York City. That’s always been in the back of my mind. But in a lot of ways, I romanticized New York as this place where I could be free to be myself and people wouldn’t hate me just because I’m me. It would be a place where I could earn roles based on my talent and hard work, not on some arbitrary level of masculinity that I do or don’t possess. It became this too-good-to-be-true, only acceptable destination because I just had to believe that my life wasn’t going to revolve around how to get red dye out my favorite outfit and how to get the dumpster stench out of my clothes. I had to believe in this magical place where gay boys and men were equal members of society and were respected for their abilities. But hatred and prejudice are everywhere. New York City isn’t this magical place where nepotism and couch casting don’t exist. People get gay bashed, even in New York City. I’m going to face prejudice my whole life. Matt has helped me learn to ‘tone it down’ as my dad used to ask me to do. With his help, I think I’ve mastered the art of appearing to be a not very masculine man, but several steps up the ladder from where I was before.”

“You shouldn’t change who you are. You’re you. I mean, I love you the way you are.”

Kurt kissed him. “Thank you. Matt isn’t trying to change me. He always tells me I don’t need to change who I am, but I need to be able to present myself as a believable masculine character with ease. There just aren’t that many lead roles for gay men. There’s the quirky best gay, there’s the outgoing flaming gay who’s the butt of a lot of the jokes, and there’s the gay hairdresser, fashion designer, interior designer – all small roles. My dad told me if there weren’t roles for guys like me that I should create them. But that’s a long way off. In order to get someone to take a play or musical I write seriously, I need more training because I’m not currently skilled enough to do a good job. But in order to get more training and get more experience, I have to be able to get roles.”

“I get that. But don’t let the roles you want to get define who you actually are, okay? Because you’re amazing the way you are.” Sebastian turned towards Kurt and kissed him, slowly and gently, but with the heat building.

They paused to take a breath and Sebastian lifted his arm for Kurt to scoot into his side and they just held each other.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.”

“Is the reason you don’t want to tell people about living here because you’re afraid of what they’ll think of your father or what they’ll think of you?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Well, you’ve only told Nick and Jeff and you asked them to keep it quiet. I guess I’m just wondering why that is now. You have plenty of money to do things with people now. You’re making around $400-500 a month now. Going out to eat or to the movies with people wouldn’t be a problem. So, they wouldn’t ever have to know that you didn’t have any money last semester. They could just be left to assume whatever about why you didn’t do anything with anyone last semester.”

“I think it’s a lot less thought out than you seem to think it is. Keeping to myself and not involving anyone in my life is my default setting at this point. I told you it’s how I kept people just close enough to be friendly and just far enough away that they never found out anything personal.”

“So, it’s not because you’re embarrassed to be my boyfriend?”

“Oh, God, no.” He turned so he could look Kurt in the eyes. “No, not at all. I didn’t even consider that. Really, there’s very little thought I’ve put into the way I act at school. It’s such a well-used mask that it slips on and fits perfectly without me even having to adjust it. It’s like ‘school me’. ‘School me’ does his work, turns it in on time, makes good grades, works hard, keeps people close enough to have people willing to work with me on projects or be my partner in something, but who only talks about non-personal topics during any preparation on these projects. The private schools I went to were my safe haven. I got to eat three times a day, I had clothes to wear, and I had activities to participate in, like singing and dancing. I got to be a kid at school - a well-guarded kid, but a kid. During the two months I went home every summer, I had to keep my guard up tight. I could never seem desperate for the money I needed. I couldn’t look too scroungy because desperate and scroungy meant low-class and not good enough to do the work I needed so desperately. I had to pull off acting like I wanted to learn to do the jobs and that I was a bored middle-class kid with too much time on my hands, not a kid who hadn’t had dinner the night before or breakfast that morning because his mother or her ‘friends’ ate the food that he had bought. So, I’ve worn the ‘school’ mask and the ‘public persona’ mask for so long that it’s just there in those situations. I have to actively take it off. I have to actively try to incorporate the real me into those situations. If you pretend something long enough, it becomes hard to remember who you are. When I’m with you, you see the real me. I’m working to let others close, but it doesn’t come naturally.”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Being yourself with me.” Kurt kissed him. “How about we leave it at this? I’m proud to be your boyfriend. I love you. If and when you want to invite anyone from Dalton to come here and spend the evening, the day, or the weekend with us, I’m okay with that. We can use the inflatable mattress and whoever comes can sleep on it if they stay overnight. From my perspective you can tell anyone you want to. If there’s ever an event at Dalton for family members, please know that I will do whatever I can to be there and Carole and Dad would too.”

“Alright.” Sebastian had known, but hearing the words made him feel good.

“Have you seen Lilo and Stitch?”

“No.”

Kurt kissed him untangled himself and got up. He loaded the DVD in the player, turned the TV on and went back to the bed. He snuggled back up with Sebastian and hit play.

Not long after it ended, they were called down to dinner.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Finn was absent from dinner. Carole said that had gone to Rachel’s to eat.

“Those are nice flowers Dad got for you.”

“Oh, those aren’t mine, they were delivered this morning when you were gone. I thought you’d see them and the card when you ate lunch, but you must have eaten in the kitchen.”

“We did.”

“I thought Sebastian was being sneaky and had them delivered so he could surprise you when you two got back from work,” she said.

“Nope. They aren’t from Sebastian.”

Burt asked, “What do you mean they aren’t from Sebastian? Why would you see someone else? Wait why aren’t you trying to hide that they’re from someone else?”

“I don’t know who they’re from. Sebastian already knows about it. The cards started arriving on Wednesday. They were stuffed into my locker through the slots. One came in the mail yesterday too. They don’t say anything except ‘From your Secret Admirer’ where the signature on a card would be.”

“So this is the… fifth day in a row you’ve gotten a card? And flowers this time?” Burt asked.

“Yep. The first day I thought it was a practical joke. You know put a lovey-dovey Valentine’s card in the single gay kid’s locker.”

“But you’re not single,” Burt pointed out.

“But Sebastian doesn’t go to McKinley, so not that many people know about him. I just thought it was a dumb joke, and ignored it. But I don’t really know what to think now. Maybe someone lost a bet or it’s a dare. You know, I dare you to send a card to the gay kid for a week before Valentine’s Day. I don’t know. But they don’t say anything creepy or threatening. They don’t say anything at all, so I’m just ignoring it. You can put the flowers in your room if you want. I don’t want them. Or you can give them to Finn to give to Rachel.”

“We’re going to have dinner at the Berry’s on Valentine’s Day, just so the three of you know we won’t be home,” Carole said.

“I’ll be at the ‘Sugar Shack’, which is what Sugar is calling Breadstix for her Valentine’s Day party,” Sam said.

Kurt felt bad for him. Sam was such a nice guy and he’d had the worst luck with girls.

“I’m surprised you’re still here, Sebastian,” Burt said.

“Oh, I started staying Sundays and heading to school after I get up on Monday mornings. Kurt gets up a 6:00 everyday, so I just put my uniform on and drive back on Monday mornings now.”

Burt smiled and nodded.

Once they finished eating, the three guys cleared the table and did the dishes, which took longer than it should have due to the fact that the three of them were horsing around and getting soap foam all over each other and singing made up lyrics about doing household tasks instead of focusing on getting the job doing efficiently.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian packed up his suitcase and left his uniform in the closet.

“I’m going to go put this in the car.” He leaned over and kissed Kurt, who was reading a book. He smiled in response.

Sebastian texted Sam to meet him downstairs. He was in the living room when Sebastian came back inside.

“What’s up?”

“Please keep an eye on Kurt tomorrow and Tuesday. I don’t like the whole secret admirer thing with the history of how he’s been treated at that school.”

“Me neither. I’ll watch out for him.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

They headed back upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Share one with me?”

Kurt took the bite he was offered. “You can take the rest back with you.”

Sebastian put the lid back on the container and sat it on the dresser near the door. “Shower?”

“Sure.”

Afterwards, Kurt turned some instrumental music on and climbed into bed. “Big spoon or little spoon?”

“Mmm. Neither. I want to be your body pillow.” He lifted his arm and let Kurt get comfortable and they talked and talked, cuddled up, limbs all intertwined.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After enough kisses to nearly make Sebastian late to first period, he finally left. Kurt shut the door behind him and headed to the kitchen to eat breakfast. He sat and thought about Valentine’s Day since Sebastian was going to be in Westerville. He hoped that Sebastian would like what he had hidden in his suitcase. He didn’t bring it up over the weekend because he didn’t want Sebastian to feel pressured since he didn’t think that Valentine’s Day was such a big deal in France.

He felt better after talking about why Sebastian still wasn’t interacting much at school. Maybe he’d be okay with inviting Nick and Jeff over sometime.

He headed upstairs and got ready for school. He read a bit in the book he’d been reading before he left for school. He locked their door, knocked on Sam’s door to let him know he was leaving, Sam came out, and they headed for school.

He opened his locker to find no card. He hoped that meant the whole thing was over. He took the books he needed and headed to class. In third period, he received a pass summoning him to Coach Sue’s office during fourth period, which was after lunch.

At lunch, Sam had sat with him and the rest of the Glee guys sat down because Sam was already there. Artie and Rory were debating over who was going to get Sugar to be their date to Sugar’s party that he didn’t know much about other than that Sam was going. Sugar’s dad had reserved the whole restaurant so that Sugar could throw a party. And no one single could go, which made him wonder about why Sam said he was going.

While everyone was talking, a Gorillagram showed up for Kurt. He took the stuffed gorilla holding balloons and the card, assuming this was just continuation of the secret admirer.

“Will you tell me who my secret admirer is?” Kurt asked the gorilla making the delivery.

All he got was the gorilla shaking its head as a response. The gorilla turned to leave the cafeteria. Sam stood up immediately. Kurt looked at him.

“I’m going to grab some more milk,” he said, trying to think of something to say quickly.

Kurt turned back to the conversation and listened to Puck brag about how he was bringing all of the girls from the sorority where he worked cleaning the pool.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

To Sebastian: Its Krofsky.

From Sebastian: Oh, great. Thanks for telling me. At least we know and can do something about this. I’ll text you after Warblers rehearsal.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam came back a few minutes later with a carton of white milk and chocolate milk.

Kurt gave him a funny look.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’m going to grow more. It just sounded good.” Sam smiled and downed both milks in quick succession.

Kurt laughed at him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt had dropped off the balloons and stuffed animal in Miss Pillsbury’s office before lunch ended when she wasn’t there. He put the card in his locker in a book, like he had before. He closed his locker and headed toward Coach Sue’s office. He stood outside her office and took a deep breath before knocking.

“Come in.”

Kurt stepped inside, shut the door behind him, and sat in the chair that she was pointing to.

“I thought about what you said and what Sebastian said. I also found out that he’s the lead singer for the Warblers and that he lives with your family.”

“Your information is correct. He’s lived with us since before Christmas, so close to 8 weeks now.”

“I also wondered why he was living with you, so I did more digging. He’s not poor like Sam. On the contrary, his father is mega rich and is a politician.”

“Also true. Your point?”

“Why would the son of a prominent rich politician need to move in with your family? I looked into his father and he is a major homophobe. It all made sense.”

“What did?”

“Him standing up to me to defend you. He has nothing to lose. He’s already lost everything. I had to consider what it would mean to be so young and have the guts to stand up to someone and lose everything for it. But he didn’t lose everything did he? He got you.”

“He had already lost everything before he had me or a place to go, other than school. So, he didn’t do it in some weird scheme to woo me.”

“Not what I meant. Anyway. He had a point. Jean would not be proud of the way that I treat the Cheerios. She would have dressed me down and put me in my place gently. I don’t know how to lead any other way. I stepped back that first week when you still came to practice. I let Santana take over practices.”

“She leads the way you do, through intimidation and belittling people.”

“I’m aware. I’m going to give you a chance. I want you to take over practices for this week. I want to see someone lead the group through inspiration rather than intimidation. You and Sebastian say it can be done. I want to see it in person. If you can get the girls to work just as hard without yelling at them or insulting them, I will change my tactics.” She slid his uniforms, still in his backpack across the desk.

“And if I say ‘no’?”

“Then I will continue the way I always have and I will consider this to be my proof that you’re wrong – that you’re all talk and no proof.”

“What about Santana? She will not take kindly to me being put in charge.”

“She’ll cooperate.”

“Fine. I still will only wear the uniform on varsity game days and I don’t want to cheer for baseball. And I won’t travel with the travel team unless you stay close enough to keep the harassment at bay. I will not subject myself to their vicious words any more.”

“There are only two away basketball games left this coming weekend.”

“I’m aware. I’ve attended the away games to support Sam. I’ve just been in the crowd, blending in.”

“If you’re successful, you’ll stay and cheer with us for Regionals, and Nationals if we win Regionals.”

“Is that a question or a statement?”

“A question, I suppose.”

“If you treat the squad respectfully, I will stay and cheer. I don’t have time to cheer for baseball though. The games are in the afternoons, which I did not know since I’m not a baseball fan. I work every day from 4-7. I need the money for college for next year.”

“So, if at the end of this week, you have managed to get the squad to work just as hard with your gentle methods, I can expect you to cheer Friday and Saturday night at the last two away games?”

“If you keep the taunting at bay and I can ride to and from the games on my own if I choose to. Friday night will be a test. If I’m taunted, I won’t cheer Saturday.”

“Deal.”

He picked the backpack up and left the office.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

He dropped the backpack off in his locker, went to class, showed the pass to his fourth period teacher, and took a seat.

At the end of the day, he headed into the choir room and sat at the back of the room on the right where he had the previous week. Everyone filed in and most of them looked happy to see him. Sam came in and sat down on one side. Tina sat on his other side.

Mr. Schue slipped in right after the bell. “I want to welcome Kurt back to the club. I made the wrong decision in forcing him to choose between his job and the club. As a teacher, it is my job to help teach teens to be responsible and I was remiss in asking Kurt to shirk his responsibilities to attend rehearsals that had not be planned with enough advanced warning. I expect everyone to be respectful of Kurt because it was not his fault that I made the wrong choice.”

“So, who’s singing the solo then?” Rachel asked. “You said there would be new auditions today.”

“Kurt will be singing ‘You Are Loved’ just as we had been rehearsing before.”

“But Mr. Schue, I’m ready to perform,” Rachel insisted.

“Berry, we chose Kurt the first time. If you challenge him, he’ll just get up and sing the same song he beat you with the last time and we’ll just vote for him again. So, why don’t we just save time and work on ‘I Believe I Can Fly’? Kurt needs to learn the choreography.”

Kurt was surprised that Santana was speaking up on his behalf considering that Sue had just handed the Cheerios over to him for the week. He was grateful nonetheless.

They moved to the auditorium and Kurt paid close attention to catch up from missing a few days of rehearsal.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After rehearsal, Puck followed him out to his locker and then to the Navigator.

“Is there something I can do for you, Puck?”

“Just let me ride with you to the shop.” He handed his keys to Sam. “Meet us there with my truck.”

“Fine. Get in.”

Sam shrugged and walked to Puck’s truck and got in and headed out of the parking lot.

“Okay, so listen. What Mr. Schue did was a punkass move. Making you pick between Glee and making money for college or whatever. Also, this is from all of the guys, okay?”

“You draw the short stick again? Being forced to talk to me?”

“That was a joke, albeit a bad one. Anyway, the guys all want you to know that we didn’t know you hadn’t been invited. We all left it up to Finn to invite you and he told us you didn’t want to come. That you’d rather go to the girls’ sleepovers. Sam straightened us out when he bitched us out for eating all of the food at your house. Finn made it out like your dad was all cool with us hanging out and that since he had plenty of money, that the whole thing was fine. He told us to help ourselves and nothing was off limits. We were just dumb enough to believe him. At first people brought some stuff and pitched in some, but over time, that stopped. He told us you liked to cook and you didn’t mind cooking for us whenever you were home. So, we just went with what he said. Sam set us straight on that too. When you came down and bitched me out for asking you to cook for us and then laid into Finn about not buying you and Sebastian dinner, we all began to realize that Finn’s story didn’t add up and we asked Sam a few days later when Finn wasn’t around.”

“So, all this time, you thought I didn’t want to come, better phrased, you thought I had been invited and had said ‘no’? And Finn told you that all of the food in the house was a free-for-all? And he told you that I was more than glad to cook for everyone, even though I didn’t participate in the weekend’s events?”

“Pretty much. I mean the first several Glee Guys’ weekends we had at your new place you were at Dalton, so no one thought anything about you not being there because you didn’t go to school with us anymore, but then after you came back, he said you didn’t still didn’t want to come, even though we were having them at your house.”

“Okay.”

“None of us actually looked outside to see if your SUV was there, but we knew you were home. What we didn’t know was that Finn was supposed to order for the two of you and that you and Sebastian are dating.”

“I see. So, why are you telling me this?”

“Because I’m tired of being a jackass. Seriously.”

“Fine. Even if I believe you, what does this change?”

“The fact that you’ve thought all this time that we didn’t like you or want you around. Finn always made it sound like you didn’t want to be around us. That you were too girly to like any of the things we do. I mean your behavior reinforced that. When we’d divide up boys against the girls, you’d always try to sing with them.”

“I already felt unwanted and excluded by then. I just went along with what I saw. You all didn’t want me with you. And you’re saying that you all acted that way because Finn told you that I didn’t want to do things with the guys.”

“Well, you seemed to like him the best out of all of us, so when he was supposed to invite you and he told us you didn’t want to come, we just believed him.”

“I see. A circular problem.”

“When all of us got together, minus Finn, Sam pointed out that the Wii and all of the games for it are yours and that you’re good at them. He said he found out this fall when he moved in with you guys and you kicked his butt at MarioKart.”

Kurt laughed.

“He also said that he taught you how to play several of the Xbox games and that you were good at it. He said that you were the one training him at the shop.”

“That’s true.”

“He pretty much just kicked our asses up one side and down the other about the way we’ve treated you. Stuff about how the clothes you like have nothing to do with how masculine you are or how strong you are and that we should be glad that you’re a pacifist because he’s seen your biceps and you could hold your own in a fight any time you chose to defend yourself.”

Kurt laughed again.

“So, anyway, that’s about as close to an apology as I’ve got. We’ll work on getting our heads out of our asses and not treating you like a girl.”

“Maybe you should stop treating girls like you do.”

“Another thought, but we’ll work on you first.”

Kurt laughed. “Fine. I don’t think there will be any more Glee Guys’ weekends at our place since Finn is getting married. But if there are, I might consider kicking your butts at MarioKart.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

“And for the record, this is not a blanket apology. You can only apologize for your own actions. If any of the rest of the guys feel this way, then they need to tell me themselves. I have to get inside.” Kurt pulled into the employee area of the lot.

“Got it. One last question. How long have you two been dating?”

“A little over three weeks.”

“So, he moved in before you were dating.”

“He did. I thought he was going back to Paris at the end of the school year, so I didn’t ask him out. Once he decided to stay, I asked him out. I really have to go.”

They both got out and Kurt locked the doors and headed into the building.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam was already changed when Kurt got into the lounge.

“I’ll be quick.”

“It’s fine.”

Kurt came back out. “According to Puck, you ‘kicked the Glee guys’ asses up one side and down the other.’”

“That’s true. I got fed up with the way they were treating you. I had figured out that Finn was making up stuff, but I finally pieced it all together.”

“Well, thanks for defending me.”

“Any time. So, what are you teaching me today?”

“Spark plugs.”

“Sounds thrilling.”

“Actually they sound awful when they go bad.”

Sam laughed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian was getting frustrated. He had sent Sam numerous texts, but he hadn’t responded.

He called Kurt.

“Good afternoon, mon étoile. How did your day go?”’

“It’s one of my weirder days.”

“How so?”

“I had a Gorillagram delivered to me at lunch. I met with Sue, who wants me to prove to her that the girls can be trained gently by running practices the rest of the week, Mr. Schue actually admitted to doing the wrong thing, and Puck apologized for several things.”

“That is a very odd day indeed. What is a Gorillagram?”

“Oh, it’s when a person dressed in a gorilla costume delivers something to someone like balloons or flowers.”

“I see.”

“I was given a small plush gorilla holding balloons and a card. The card is in my bag, and I left the other items in Miss Pillsbury’s office when she wasn’t in there. So, who knows their fate. I knew they weren’t from you, so I didn’t want them. And as I mentioned, I’m not asking for you to do that type of thing. I’d rather spend our money on another trip like when we went to the museum in Toledo or when we went to Cincinnati.”

“I remember. Why don’t you give the card to Sam and let him look it over in case it says something mean. I don’t want you to have to see that. And then he can just burn it like the others.”

“That’s fine with me. I’m already taken and not interested in whoever is sending the stuff. I just hope that it stops after Valentine’s Day.”

“Me too. So, you’re back in Glee. What happened with the solo?”

“It’s mine.”

“Excellent.”

“I will call you later tonight, okay? I love you so much and I miss you. I have to help Sam with this last step of changing the spark plugs on this car.”

“Okay. I love you too. Call me later.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

On their way back home, Kurt told Sam where the card was so he could get it out. Sam pulled Kurt’s satchel to the front seat and got the card out. He put the bag back in the backseat. He opened the card and looked at it.

“So?”

“So, nothing identifiable. I’ll burn it when we get home.”

“Thanks.”

Kurt turned the radio on and they listened to music the rest of the way home.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam sent a text to Sebastian: It said 4 Kurt 2 meet him at B-stix at 5:30 tmrw.

Sebastian called Sam. “Well, that’s not happening.”

“I think that you and I need to meet with him and let him know that you and Kurt are dating and get him to drop this.”

“I was already planning to be in Lima tomorrow afternoon to surprise Kurt. I’ll go home to start on my plan, then meet you at Breadstix at 5:20, but somehow you have to ditch work for tomorrow afternoon.”

“No problem. I’ll get someone to take me to Breadstix. I’m supposed to be there at 6:00 anyway.”

“See you then.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt helped Carole make dinner while Sam went upstairs to get started on his homework.

Kurt started peeling potatoes. “Coach Sue wants me to train the Cheerios the rest of the week”

“Why?”

“To prove that it can be done without insulting them.”

“Unusual, but it’s Sue.”

“So, I’ll be going to practice every morning this week starting tomorrow.”

“Alright. Can you slice those up thinly now, please?”

“Sure.” Kurt got a knife and cutting board out. “And she wants me to cheer the final away games this weekend. I told her that if she kept people from trash-talking me, that I would go, but if she is unsuccessful at stopping it Friday night, that I won’t go on Saturday. I also told her that I won’t cheer for baseball because the games are in the afternoons and I have to work.”

“And she still wants you to do this?”

“I know. It’s super weird, but I’ve long given up on anything she does actually making sense. Where do you want me to put the slices?”

“Oh, in that casserole dish, please. That’s actually for tomorrow. I just won’t have time to get anything made to take with us to the Berry’s by the time we’re supposed to be there.”

Kurt nodded and started putting the slices in the dish.

“I don’t know whether Rachel is vegan or vegetarian right now, but I know Finn loves the casserole, so I’m taking it. It’s vegetarian at least.” She continued to work on the sauce while he finished slicing all of the potatoes. After he had gotten them all sliced, she poured the mixture she had been heating on the stove into the casserole dish with the sliced potatoes, and then stuck the dish in the oven. “Tonight, we’re having spaghetti and broccoli. It’s almost done. Why don’t you text Finn and Sam and tell them to come set the table? And I’ll go get Burt.”

Kurt pulled out his phone and texted Finn and Sam.

A few minutes later, they were both downstairs. Sam helped Finn set the table. Kurt got the pasta out and mixed everything together and put it in a large serving bowl. He put the broccoli in another bowl and carried the bowls to the table.

Finn took glasses of water to the table for everyone. By the time the table was ready, Burt had come in as well. The rest of them sat down together and served themselves.

“Do I have to eat broccoli?”

“Yes, Finn. Please stop asking. You need to eat whatever is served.”

“Fine.”

Burt started to ask Kurt something, but then stopped himself. “I’ll be taking a late flight to DC tomorrow evening. I won’t be here next weekend.”

Everyone nodded. Dinner proceeded quietly. Once they had finished eating, Carole indicated that Sam and Finn needed to do the cleanup. Kurt went upstairs.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Burt went up to Kurt’s room just a few minutes after Kurt did. He knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

“Hey, kiddo.” He shut the door behind him. “Did you get anything else today from the secret admirer?”

“Yeah, a Gorillagram - a tiny gorilla holding balloons and a card. I left the gorilla and balloons at school. Sam took the card to make sure it didn’t say anything nefarious and then he’s going to burn it in the fireplace.”

“Good deal. It’s just weird that someone would go to so much trouble, especially if it’s just a joke.”

“I’m more worried that it’s not a joke at this point. I don’t want someone to like me enough to do all of this when I don’t know who it is. It’s unnerving, not romantic.”

“I get that. I’ll still be here tomorrow, well, at the shop. If anything goes down at school, just call me and I’ll be there to deal with it.”

“Alright. Coach Sue asked me back today – to run practices this week. I’ll let you know how that goes.”

“That woman is crazy.”

“I know, Dad. But for whatever reason, she wants me to compete with the team at Regionals and at Nationals, if we make it that far.”

“Well, don’t let her bully you. You did good standing up to her. Don’t let her lure you back in if she hasn’t changed.”

“I won’t. I’ve stopped looking for validation from outside sources. I’m learning to be stronger. I know I’ve put up a front of being strong and not letting stuff get to me, but that was all just bravado. I’m working on it being real.”

“Good for you. You’ve grown up and you’re becoming your own man.”

“Thanks.”

“And I think you’ve found a good guy for yourself this time.”

“Me too.”

“Well, I’m sure you have homework to do. You call me if there’s any problems tomorrow.”

“Will do, Dad.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt did his homework, showered, and got ready for bed. He called Sebastian after he had gotten in bed, but he got his voicemail. He hung up and sent a text.

To Sebastian: Sorry I missed you if you already went to sleep. Check the interior pocket in the top of your suitcase tomorrow morning. There’s something in there for you. Good night, mon joyau. I love you.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Sebastian’s alarm went off at 6:00 and he panicked. He picked up his phone and realized that he had somehow missed Kurt’s phone call and text. He thought about it. He had been down in the computer lab printing something. He came back and worked on his history paper, took a shower, and went to bed still expecting Kurt to call. But he didn’t even think to check if he had called while he was gone.

He pulled his suitcase out and unzipped the interior pocket and pulled out an envelope. Inside it there was a handwritten poem and a flash drive. He turned his laptop on and read the poem while he waited for it to start up.

~-~-~-~-~

À Sebastian, mon précieux joyau caché ,

I love everything about you:

Your beautiful green eyes that saw no love -
now sparkle as your love shines through them.

Your diligent hands that worked hard and stayed strong -
when circumstances could have pushed you to give up.

Your strong legs that helped you climb uphill your whole life -
now help you walk and dance through a new chapter in your story.

Your strong arms that wrap me up and hold me tight -
and keep me close all through the night.

Your chest that holds your beating heart that keeps the man I love alive -
where I can rest my head on days when I am weary.

Your voice that brings joy to those who hear you sing -
and shares with me the secrets of your heart.

Your shoulders that once bore the weight of the world -
now invite me to wrap my arms around them and keep you close.

Your keen mind that focuses and memorizes and is sharp and witty -
has finally found a place where it can rest and recharge.

Your heart that once feared it would forever remain unloved -
overflows with joy that you deserve so very much.

Happy Valentines Day!
Love, Kurt

~-~-~-~-~

He put the flash drive into the USB port and clicked on the only file. It was Kurt singing “Never Gonna Let You Down”. The second verse really stuck out.

Close
I will hold you close
You won’t be alone anymore
If you need someone to believe in
If you’re reaching for a hand to guide you home
Just take my hand and I won’t let you go
I hope you know

I’m never gonna let you down
I’m always gonna build you up
And when you’re feeling lost
I will always find you, love
I’m never gonna walk away
I’m always gonna have your back
And if nothing else you can always count on that

When you need me
I promise I will never let you down

When the music stopped, Kurt said, “I love you, Bas.”

By then, Sebastian was crying – happy tears. He picked up his phone and texted Kurt.

From Sebastian: I found the card. Thank you. I loved the poem and the song. It was beautiful. Look in my dresser drawer. I left something for you. I love you, mon étoile.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt heard his phone ping right as he was opening the door to his room to go downstairs. He stopped and pulled it out of his satchel. He read the text from Sebastian and reached over to open the dresser drawer. Inside, he found an unlined index card with small red hearts around it as a border. He smiled because Sebastian had used the index cards and markers he found in the desk, not spending a lot of money on an expensive card like Kurt had asked, but he still wanted to do something cute. He looked at what it said.

~-~-~-~-~

À ma chère étoile du nord,
Je t’aime beaucoup, mon amour.
Tu es l’ homme le plus fou pour m’avoir choisi.
Mais j’aime ta folie.
Chaque fois que tu me regardes, mon coeur bat plus vite.
Ton sourire me rend heureux.
Ton rire illumine mon monde.
Où que tu sois est chez moi.
Joyeuse saint valentine mon amoureux.

Bas
~-~-~-~-~

After he finished reading the poem, he had a huge smile on his face. He texted Sebastian back.

To Sebastian: Merci, mon joyau. Je t’aime boucoup.

From Sebastian: Moi aussi.

Kurt took a photo of the index card so he could look at it throughout the day without it getting damaged. He put his phone back in his satchel, stepped out into the hall, locked the door, and went downstairs.

Carole was already up and in the kitchen when he got downstairs.

“I’m surprised to see you up so early.”

“I traded shifts so I could go to the Berry’s tonight.”

“I remembered the dinner. I just didn’t think about the time.” Kurt still had a huge smile on his face.

“You’re awfully smiley.”

“Sebastian left me a poem in our room. He’s a sweetie.” Kurt grabbed a couple of packs of trail mix. “I have to get to school to see what on earth Coach Sue expects me to do. I’ll see you whenever you get home from the Berry’s.”

“Probably around 11:00. Burt and I are going to go out by ourselves for a while after the dinner. Dinner with the four of them will not exactly be romantic.”

Kurt laughed. “Definitely not.” He headed for the door, grabbing is coat on the way out.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt opened his locker to find it devoid of a card. He didn’t know whether to feel relieved or tense since the day before the card appeared later in a much more public way. He left his coat in his locker and headed to the gym, where he found Coach Sue waiting for him. He went over to the bleachers and sat next to her.

“I’m here, but I have no idea what it is that you want me to do. I haven’t been at practice in nearly two weeks. I have no idea what’s been practiced while I’ve been gone.”

“Well, I’m going to have them perform the routine with the just the background music so that you can see what they’re doing. Anything you notice out of sync needs to be corrected. We’ll start with that.”

“Alright. Why are they practicing with no words. Why isn’t Santana singing?”

“You’ll see.” She picked up the bullhorn, stood, and yelled, “Places!” A couple of minutes later, she turned the music on, and the squad began to perform. Kurt watched as carefully as he could. When they finished, they stayed in place awaiting further direction.

Sue sat next to him again. “So?”

“There’s too much going on for me to know what to tell them to do since I’m not familiar with what anyone is supposed to be doing.”

“Well, that’s one thing you’ve learned already. Being the coach means I have to know each person’s part exactly.”

“I knew that. That’s why I asked how I was supposed to be of help since I don’t know what everyone else is supposed to be doing.”

Coach Sue turned the bullhorn on. “Again!” she said loudly, but not rudely. They reset and she started the music again.

After the second run-through, Kurt had something to say. “Okay, from what I can see, the girls in the second and third rows are off by a quarter to a half beat because they are watching the girls in the front row to know what to do rather than knowing the routine perfectly themselves.

“So, fix that.”

Kurt stood up and took the bullhorn. “Would all of the girls in the front row, please come sit on the first row of the bleachers. Everyone else, reset and do it again, please.”

Coach Sue started the music again. This time the performance was practically a disaster. Sue had to sit on her hands not to grab the bullhorn from Kurt.

He stood up again. “That run-through was so I could figure out what was making the group look out of sync. We have our answer. The second and third rows are watching the girls in front of them and following them rather than knowing exactly what to do on their own. That throws the piece of out sync. Everyone has to move at the same time for it to look right. So, we’re going to run through the choreography twice with each of the girls in the front taking two of the other girls and spreading out and working until the second and third rows know the moves without watching someone else.”

The girls didn’t move at first because no one had screamed or anything. But eventually one of the girls got up and took two girls with her and the other front row girls followed suit. He gave them 10 minutes to work on it.

“Alright, front row, back on the bench. Everyone else reset and run it again, please.”

Coach Sue restarted the music. The run-through went much better than it did the first time they had done it without the first row to watch.

“Much better. Starting immediately, we will rotate who is in the front row during practices for the sections where we stand in lines and perform identical moves. This will prevent anyone from getting too used to being able to watch someone else and follow instead of knowing it themselves. Run it again. This time first row girls, move to the back row. When the music starts the second time, shift so that the second row moves to the front and the front moves to the back. Go.”

Coach Sue restarted the music again, and then a second time.

“What do you think?” He asked her.

“Well, they’ve improved quite a bit in 20 minutes with no yelling. It’s a start.”

“Where are Santana and Brittany?”

“Working on the choreography for the three of you in the dance studio.”

“Three of us?”

“You three will be singing this song while performing in front of these girls. There’s more to the song, obviously. This was just the part they kept screwing up so badly I wanted to pull my hair out.”

“So, what else do you want them to do?”

“Keep running it while you go to the dance studio.”

“You can’t yell at them while I’m gone.”

“Fine. Tell them what to do before you leave.”

He picked the bullhorn back up and turned it on.

“I’m going to meet Santana and Brittany. Keep working on this section rotating the rows until you all get it right. I’ll come check on you in 20 minutes.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

It didn’t take Kurt long to figure out why Santana wasn’t upset about the arrangement. She had Madonna’s role in the trio. Kurt and Brittany were her back up dancers and singers. Santana showed Kurt the original 1983 video of the song.

“So, in an homage to this music video, you and Britt will wear half of your normal outfits. Kurt we’re having one of the sleeveless shirts made to fit you. You’ll need to go to the shop to be fitted. Brittany will wear the tracksuit pants. I’ll be in my regular skirt.”

“Alright,” Kurt said. “I hope the shop is open on Saturdays.”

“Just call and find out. So, we’ve based the choreography off this video. You and Britt will actually sing unlike her backup dancers. It will be three-part harmony. We’ll work on that later. So, Britt and I will make a video of me dancing your part while Britt does her own part. That way you can work on it at home. Just so you know, my part is pretty similar. Try to learn your part by Thursday morning. I’ll give you the recording in Glee this afternoon.”

“Okay. I want to watch the two of you do it once now, if possible so I can have some idea of what’s going on while the girls in the gym are doing what I saw them practicing.”

Santana started the music and she and Brittany did the dance while singing along quietly.

“Thanks. I have to go back to the gym.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt went back into the gym and sat next to Coach Sue. “An 80s Madonna song?”

“There were rules implemented on our song selection for Regionals. If the song performed has vocals, recorded or live, the song cannot be overtly sexual or contain foul language.”

“Oh, wow, that eliminates pretty much everything with a good dance beat that has been popular in the last five years.”

“Yeah, I know. I had to dig through greatest hits to find something even remotely suitable for the theme, which is ‘Celebrating Life’.”

“Well, I think there won’t be many groups with songs with vocals this year. And the few that try it will end up singing ‘Celebration’.”

“I think that was their goal – to prevent us from singing and kicking everyone’s butts. But it won’t work. We’re going to do this song and it’s going to rock and you three are going to kill the vocals.”

“Have they gotten any better while I was gone?”

“Yes.”

He picked up the bullhorn. “Alright, ladies, let me see you wow me. Reset.”

Coach Sue started the music once more.

“Well, that was significantly better than it was 45 minutes ago. Don’t you think?” Kurt asked.

“It is. One point for the Hummel Happy method of coaching. Send them to class.”

“Good job ladies. Much better than the first time. We’ll work on it more. Practice is over.” He handed the bullhorn back to Coach Sue. “Well, I’ve got to go to class and I have a hugely long piece to learn by Thursday morning, so says Santana.” Kurt picked up his backpack and headed off to first period.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt stopped by his locker after first period and found another card. Obviously he arrived earlier than the card deliverer since he had gone to Cheerios practice. He stuffed the card in a book and left for class.

They worked on “You are Loved” during Glee and it went well considering that they hadn’t practiced it in nearly two weeks. As soon as practice finished, he made a beeline for the Navigator. Sam didn’t follow him, but he got a text about two minutes later.

From Sam: Gotta stay 2 practice 4 Sugar’s party. See ya later.

Kurt pulled out and headed to the shop.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian left Dalton as soon as he grabbed the only homework he actually HAD to turn in the next day and a clean uniform to wear the next day. He hurried out to the parking lot and headed to Lima.

He pulled into the Hummel driveway at 4:50, giving him just 20 minutes to work on his plan at home before he had to leave to go meet Sam and Bear Cub at Breadstix. He took his stuff up to their room, changed quickly, and looked to make sure that what he had asked for was in the refrigerator, and it was. He set the island with a tablecloth and the place settings. He brewed some tea and cleaned the vegetables before he left.

He pulled in the lot at 5:15 and saw Sam inside sitting in a booth already. He went in and sat down with him. They waited and at 5:20, Dave came in wearing the Gorillagram costume. He looked around and saw Sebastian and Sam and went to sit down with them. He put the head down in the seat next to him along with the heart-shaped box of chocolates that he brought with him.

The waitress walked up to them. “We’re not serving meals right now. We’re closing in 30 minutes for a private party.”

“We know,” Sam said. “We’re supposed to be here for the party, we’re just a little early. How about some drinks while we wait?”

“Sure. What do you want?”

They gave their drink orders and she walked away.

“You texted me to meet you here at 5:20. Why?”

“To meet you and keep you from making HIM have to let you down easy. He doesn’t deserve to be put in that position, Dave,” Sam said.

“It would never be a healthy situation for him to get involved with someone who bullied him as badly as you did. It sucks that you like him and he can’t reciprocate that, but put the shoe on the other foot, Bear Cub. If someone had threatened to do to you what you threatened to do to him would you ever want them to even speak to you?”

Sam spoke again, “He’s already been more than forgiving by not holding it against you and by being civil to you. Don’t make him have to let you down too. That’s just too far to push his kindness.”

“How did you know?”

“I followed you out of school on Monday.” Sam answered. “I saw you get into YOUR truck that I recognized even though you didn’t take the costume head off before you got to the edge of the parking lot. I told Sebastian. He texted you to meet since I don’t have your number.”

“So he’s not coming.”

“No, he doesn’t know about this meeting at all. I was the one that read yesterday’s card and saw the note in it to meet here at 5:30.”

Sebastian said, “Don’t look that way, but there’s a guy that keeps looking over here. Very interested in you in particular. If you’re wanting to stay on the DL, I’d suggest you let me do the talking. After we get our drinks and drink them, we’re leaving and I’m doing all of the talking on the way out.”

“Got it,” Dave said.

Their drinks came and they drank them. They each put a few dollars on the table and got up.

“Karofsky?”

“Nick.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Ah, we need him to deliver some stuff this evening, but some of it is not on the list of things we could OFFICIALLY choose from.” Sebastian winked. “So, he’s going to deliver them with the officially sanctioned box of chocolates in his hand during the private party here that starts in about 30 minutes.”

“Right. You and your girlfriends have fun with that,” Nick said and nodded.

Sebastian laughed and herded Dave and Sam out the door.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Follow us to our car. We’re going to pretend to move something to your truck,” Sam said.

Sam opened the back of the car and took his jacket off and put it in the seat and then put his hands underneath it like it was covering a gift box. He walked with it like that to Dave’s truck. Dave opened the passenger side and Sam reversed the process, pulling his coat back out afterward and putting it back on.

“Get in your truck,” he said with is back to the window. “He’s probably watching. Sit in there with the head on until he leaves and then wait 10 more minutes and go home. And think of a good reason why you resorted to delivering Gorillagrams for money in case the dude hassles you or spreads rumors.” Sam walked back to the car and got in.

“Drive down a few blocks and I’ll get out and walk back. I’m supposed to be here at 6:00 anyway. I’ll get a ride home after the party.”

“Alright. Do you think he’s going to be okay? I mean the guy sitting there looked like the troublemaking gossip type.”

“Hopefully. I told him to think of a good reason he needed money badly enough to stoop to delivering Gorillagrams, just to cover his butt.”

Sebastian pulled over and Sam got out.

Sebastian texted Dave before he drove off.

From Sebastian: If Nick asks why you needed money badly enough to stoop to delivering Gorillagrams, tell him you broke the remote for your truck again and you needed to replace it without your dad finding out. Those things cost around $80.

To Sebastian: Good idea. I didn’t know they were so expensive, but it’s a good reason. Sneaky enough to be believable. I’m deleting these texts. I’ll call you sometime.

From Sebastian: That’s fine. Stay safe. Jackasses like him like to make trouble. He had it written all over his body posture that he was trying to get something on you.

To Sebastian: He’s on the football team at my new school and he’s a jackass extraordinaire.

From Sebastian: Keep your story straight.

Sebastian texted Kurt next.

From Sebastian: Please go straight home from work, there’s a surprise for you.

To Sebastian: I told you that you didn’t need to do anything like that, but I’ll go right home at 7:00. I love you.

From Sebastian: I love you too.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian hung his coat up and got to work quickly on their dinner. He cooked the chicken, the asparagus, and the baby peas so they’d all be done at 7:15. He found some candles and put them on the island and lit them at 7:10. He plated the food and covered the plates with another plate and quickly washed the pans he had used. He heard the front door open and sat down at the island, knowing that the smell would lead Kurt to the kitchen.

He came around the corner and his eyes lit up. “Bas! You’re here. You made me dinner?”

“I did.” He pressed the playlist he had chosen on his phone.

Kurt wrapped his arms around Sebastian and hugged him. “Thank you.” He walked over the sink and washed his hands.

Sebastian removed the inverted plates and put them in the sink. “Let’s eat.” He kissed Kurt gently and took his hand and led him back to the island.

“It looks delicious.” He cut a piece of the chicken off and ate it. “It’s really good. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

They ate in silence, but kept looking at each other and smiling. Once they finished Kurt grabbed their plates and put them, along with the two in the sink, into the dishwasher. Sebastian grabbed their utensils and glasses and put them in.

He pulled Kurt in close and started dancing with him around the room. After a couple of songs, he grabbed his phone, turned the music off, and led them upstairs.

When Kurt opened their bedroom door, he was greeted with a soft red glow and instrumental music playing. Sebastian pushed their door shut and locked it. Kurt wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s neck and resumed the slow dancing from downstairs.

“It’s lovely. You’re a sneaky, wonderful boyfriend. It’s perfect.”

Sebastian held him close and swayed with the music. “I’m glad you think so. I wanted us to be together for our first Valentine’s Day.”

“I did too. I just didn’t want to ask you to drive all the way home on a school night. You have homework don’t you?”

“Some, but we can dance a little longer, then we can be good students for an hour or so, and then shower and snuggle?”

“Sounds like an excellent plan.”

“I loved the song you recorded for me.”

“I meant it.”

“I know. I want to put it on my phone while I’m home.”

“Okay.” Kurt kissed him. “Shall we get the homework part over with?”

“Sure.” Sebastian kissed him back gently. He let Kurt go and turned the overhead light on so they could see to do their work.

“First, come sit in the chair and I’m going to sit in your lap for our first Valentine’s picture together.”

Sebastian looked truly happy as he thought about how he hoped it was their first of many. Kurt leaned back and they wrapped their arms around each other and Kurt took the selfie shots.

“Kiss me?” Kurt pressed the button as they faced each other and kissed.

They looked at the result and smiled. “That one is just for us.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

By the time Sam, Burt, and Carole got home, Kurt and Sebastian were wrapped up in bed, snuggling, limbs entwined, sound asleep.

Chapter Text

Kurt mostly stood with Coach Sue during the practice Wednesday morning, serving as an interpreter of sorts. He told the girls what to do, being kind rather than mean. And he observed, carefully. Once he knew what it was they were supposed to be doing on the section they were practicing, he moved away from Sue and interacted with them personally demonstrating what it was they either should or should not be doing. They ran the section one last time after his final group of corrections.

“Better?” He asked Sue.

“Yes. Hummel Happy Method - 2. Be sure to know your dance tomorrow morning. Santana wants to run it just the three of you and then come in and do it in here.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“You see that you do.” Sue walked off.

Kurt headed to class.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

When he got to Glee that afternoon, he learned that the girls knew their number well enough to practice it without Sue watching them and that they guys didn’t have to stay. He leaned over to Sam and said, “Either come with me now, or you’ll need to find another ride to the shop. Since we don’t have to stay, I’m going to run to the shop where I have to get fitted for a different Cheerios top for Regionals.”

“Alright. Let’s go.”

When they got in the Navigator, Sam asked, “Why did you go back? I thought you were done with Sue and her nonsense.”

“I like to cheer. I just don’t like to be yelled at. So, she’s not yelling and I’m cheering. Santana, Brittany, and I are the featured singers for Regionals. I have to get a sleeveless top like the girls wear. Britt and I will be wearing the track pants and just Santana will be wearing the skirt. I have an entire routine to learn tonight when I get home.”

“That’s a lot of pressure. An entire routine in one evening?”

“Well, I had last evening to work on it too, but Sebastian came home for the evening. He made me dinner. It was nice. How was Sugar’s party?”

“It was fine. We sang, we danced around, and it was nice enough. No alcohol, so there weren’t any unfortunate make-outs during Spin the Bottle or anything. Puck really did bring a whole group of girls with him. I ended up dancing with a few of them. The gorilla showed up delivering a couple of Gorillagrams.”

“Well, I hope whoever sent them to me stops.”

“I’m going to tell you something. The card that came with the Gorillagram actually said something on the inside besides ‘Your Secret Admirer’.”

“What?”

“It had a time and location to meet the secret admirer, but I didn’t tell you. I hope you’re not mad at me.”

“I’m not mad, but why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because I didn’t want your curiosity to get the best of you and you end up in a bad situation.”

“I’m assuming this time and date have passed?”

“Yes. Sebastian and I went to the location and told him you weren’t interested.”

“You were nice, right? I mean like you didn’t threaten whoever it was.”

“We were nice.”

“Alright.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sam texted Sebastian while Kurt was in the shop getting measured.

To Sebastian: I told Kurt abt meeting sec adm. Not who tho.

From Sebastian: That’s fine. Thanks for letting me know.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian called Dave.

“Bear Cub.”

“Sebastian.”

“I just wanted to make sure that you’re okay.”

“I’m okay. Nick was spreading it around school that I was working as a Gorillagram deliverer, so you were right about that. I went back to Breadstix last night during the party and delivered that box of chocolates and a couple of other things to some random girls. I just left after I handed them to anyone. I figure their boyfriends would be dumb to say it wasn’t from them when the girls got excited.”

“So, you think Nick was spying on you afterwards.”

“Just to make sure. It was stupid of me to try to get Kurt to meet in a public place like Breadstix. I thought I was ready to come out big, but I’m not. I’ve been on pins and needles all day just about being called out for delivering candy in a gorilla suit. If Kurt had met me there, he would have set off Nick’s gaydar and he would have started rumors about me. I’d have probably gotten the crap kicked out of me today instead of just being made fun of.”

“Well, Lima’s not really the place to come out.”

“Now’s not the time to come out. I told Kurt I just wanted to make it through my senior year and I almost blew that myself. I’ve got three and a half months. Then I can move out. Even if I get into college, I can’t pay for it on my own. I have a lot of thinking to do.   I need to get away from here. What were you doing in Lima on Valentine’s Day anyway?”

“You won’t like my answer.”

“I don’t like a lot of things about my life. What’s one more?”

“I was in Lima because Kurt’s my boyfriend now and I went to make him a surprise dinner for Valentine’s Day.”

“You’re right. I don’t like your answer. How long have you been dating?”

“Close to four weeks.”

“I see.”

“I would have told you the exact same thing last night, even if we weren’t dating. You can’t expect someone you bullied badly enough to make him change schools to want to date you. You’ve got to move on and find someone else. Like you said, you’ve got three and a half months. Start planning your getaway. Strategize. Find where you can live affordably that’s not so homophobic. Meet new people that know nothing about your past and make a fresh start. I know you’re sorry about what you did to him, but the best thing for you to do is to let him go and move on. You can’t hurt someone that badly and then be in an intimate relationship with them.”

“I’ll leave him alone. I won’t try to interact with him intentionally. If I see him, I’ll be nice. I won’t tell him the cards were from me.”

“Thank you. I won’t lie to him though. If he ever flat out asks me who sent them, I will tell him. I’m not going to ruin my relationship with him by lying to him about this.”

“I get it. It sucks that you get to be with him.”

“Actions have consequences. Don’t be a jackass to people in the future. It will make a difference for you personally.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Look, if you need help with Nick or anything, let me know. I’ve got a lot of schoolwork to catch up on since I drove to Lima yesterday evening and put some of it off.”

“Thanks.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

That evening Kurt called Sebastian after he was in bed.

“Hey, Bas.”

“Hey. You sound really tired.”

“I am. I worked on that routine for pretty much two hours straight. Now, I’m really behind on my reading. I’m going to have to read a lot tomorrow. Sam told me about you going to meet the secret admirer. That was very gallant of you. Thank you.”

“Of course. Even if we weren’t dating I would have driven to Lima to go with Sam. I had already planned the evening though. That’s how the food I wanted to make was there. I asked Carole to get it when she went shopping.”

“You are sneaky and sweet. I wish you could be here every night. I sleep better when you’re here.”

“Me too. I’ll be there Friday afternoon.”

“Good.” Kurt was dozing off.

Sebastian started to sing to him in French. By the time he had finished, he could hear Kurt’s rhythmic breathing and he ended the call.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Kurt did his best to do the entire routine. The three of them practiced for a half hour before they went to the gym to practice with the rest of the squad.

Sue called for them to get in position. She started the music and watched them. At the end, she called Kurt over. “It was a mess. Everyone was watching the three of you instead of paying attention and doing what they were supposed to.”

Kurt took the bullhorn. “Everyone reset, please.” Once they did, he said, “Have a seat.” He motioned for Brittany and Santana to get up. “Coach Sue, music please.”

The three of them did their routine while everyone else watched.

Kurt took the bullhorn back. “Now, you’ve seen what we’re doing. Don’t watch us perform. Do your own choreography. We can’t win if you’re staring at our backsides instead of dancing and tumbling. Reset, please. Music.”

They ran the whole piece again. Kurt looked up and Sue nodded. Kurt motioned for the music to start again. After three times through, it looked a lot better. Kurt motioned for them to all come up and sit near him.

“We have a week and a half to be ready. Do you want to win?”

Everyone nodded.

“Then we need clean practices. By this point, everyone should know what they are doing. We are going to run this one more time and I am going to have Coach Sue film us and send out the recording to everyone. DO NOT under any circumstances let anyone who is not a Cheerio see the video. But you need to watch it at least five times. Pay attention to your own mistakes. Figure out what you are doing wrong and then correct it by tomorrow morning. Reset, please.”

Kurt walked to where Sue sat and asked her to record the performance. Once he got back down to his spot, she restarted the music. She recorded them. He called them back up to him. He got them to move in very close and he spoke quietly.

“Please pay close attention and correct your mistakes to the best of your abilities. Coach Sue gave me four days to prove that I could get you to perform better by being kind than she could by yelling at you. If we don’t look good tomorrow morning, Monday morning things go back to her yelling at everyone. If you share the video, you’ll be cut from the squad.”

They nodded. He sent them off to class.

“Send a copy of the video to all of the Cheerios. They’ve been told not to let anyone else see.”

“If this backfires, it falls on you.”

“I know.” He got up and went to class.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Glee rehearsal consisted of running through all three songs to get a feel for where they were in the process of being prepared to perform.

“I think we need to run through ‘I Can Fly’ a few more times today,” Mr. Schue said. “Move to your places.”

Once they finished, Kurt headed out. Sam met him and rode with him to the shop. They worked on Sam’s training more and headed home as soon as the shop closed.

Kurt was exhausted and just turned the radio on for the drive home. He went straight up to his room and read as much as he could before his eyes got blurry. He went down and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and headed back up to work on the choreography for an hour before he showered and went to bed. He watched the video a couple of times before he called Sebastian and went to sleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian stayed up late Wednesday night getting caught up from skipping his schoolwork on Tuesday and having to do two tutoring sessions in one evening since he had rescheduled Tuesday’s appointment for Wednesday. He used every spare moment he had on Thursday to get more schoolwork done. He grabbed two sandwiches for lunch and moved to the Warbler’s room to work rather than sit in the noisy cafeteria. As soon as Warbler’s rehearsal ended, he went back to his room and got busy. He still had one tutoring session that evening, but by an hour after he would have normally gone to bed, he had managed to catch up.

After talking to Kurt, he lay in bed and wondered how he was going to be able to keep up when lacrosse started. And would the Warbler’s still meet if they didn’t make it past Regionals? He tried to stop thinking and relax. He played the recording Kurt had made for him a few times and fell asleep.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Friday morning, Kurt showed up in his Cheerios uniform. He huddled the group together before they did their first run-through.

“Remember, do your best. Don’t focus on the three of us. Perform for the audience. Big smiles, lots of energy, no staring at us. Let’s get in position.”

Sue started the music once they were in place. When they finished, he motioned for her to start it again. When they reset for the third run-through, he indicated for her to record them. She sent the file out and they all went to their bags to get their phones.

“Alright. Everyone watch today’s video while you get a drink and stretch. We’ll talk in five minutes.” Kurt went up to sit with Sue. “So, what do you think?”

“It’s significantly better than it was at the beginning of the week.”

“That’s a start I suppose. Can I ask you something?”

“I guess.”

“Why did you wait so long to start a routine with Regionals being next week?”

“They had already learned another routine when I got the notification about the new rules and the theme. I had to start over.”

“I see. Couldn’t they just have performed the routine to an instrumental version of the song?”

“I promised Santana the lead vocals position for the competition.”

“I see. So, you started from scratch to keep your word. That’s an interesting change of heart.”

“I told you I thought about what Sebastian said. Jean meant everything to me.”

“Well, their five minutes is up. What do you want me to tell them?”

“I won’t yell anymore. You win. I’ll play nice.”

“We’ll run it three more times. Record the last one. I think the video self-feedback is working.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

That afternoon, Sebastian showed up to the shop as usual. They could only stay until 6:00 since the game was an away game. Sebastian drove him to the game. When they went inside the gymnasium, they walked to the area where the girls were warming up. Kurt went and stretched with them. He started doing some cartwheels and back handsprings to warm up. A group of the away team’s fans moved to sit in the area near where the McKinley cheerleaders would perform.

Sue intervened. “None of you go to McKinley – kindly go sit on the other side of the gymnasium.”

“We can sit here if we want. It’s our school.”

“You’ll move and sit in your own team’s section or I’ll get security in here to move you. Now GO!”

They didn’t budge.

Sue sent one of the girls to grab a referee, who followed her back.

“I want these students moved to their own side of the gymnasium.”

He nodded and called for a security officer who showed up a few minutes later.

“What’s the problem?” the burly officer asked.

“These students are sitting in the wrong section. This is for the away team’s fans. The home team fans sit on the other side of the gym.”

“Get up, kids. The lady’s right. Unless you go to McKinley get up and move to the other side of the gym.”

“Fuck off. We can sit here if we want. It’s our school, our gym, our bleachers.”

“I’ll have you forcibly removed by the police if you resist my last request to move to the other side of the gym,” the security officer stated.

The students all stayed. A few flipped him off. Several others swore and called him names. Ten minutes later, the police arrived.

“You can move to the other side of the gymnasium or you can leave the building,” one of the officers stated.

“This is bullshit. I can sit here if I want.”

The officer moved closer. “Final warning. Move to the other side or I will arrest you for refusing to move when asked. Your parents will have to come bail you out of jail.”

“Tommy – just get up. Let’s go. It’s not worth going to jail to hassle the fag. It’s all fun and games, but I’m not going to jail over it.” One of them got up and started down the stairs and move to the other side of the gym.

“And the rest of you?”

All of them, except Tommy stood up and followed the first guy to the other side.

“So, you’d rather go to the station than watch the game from the other side of the gym?”

“Fine, you fuckers. I’ll sit on the other side.” He got up in a huff and practically stomped across the gymnasium floor.

Sue said, “Thank you, gentlemen.”

They nodded and left.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt approached Sue. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I should have paid more attention.”

“They’ll try to sneak back over here during the game. They just won’t sit together in a block.”

“I’ll keep my eye out. Get Sebastian to come sit down here and I’ll sit with him and as soon as I see any kids I know, I’ll try to get them to fill in at least the first three or four rows so there won’t be any room for those…” she paused “…students to return to this area.”

Kurt laughed at her self-imposed avoidance of a swear word to refer to the hecklers. Kurt didn’t want to single Sebastian out for harassment, so he sent Brittany up to get Sebastian to come down lower. He followed her back down and sat in the second row. The Glee guys minus Finn showed up and when Sebastian motioned for them to come over, they sat in the first and second rows.

Puck asked, “Why are we sitting down here?”

“To prevent the jackasses that have been harassing Kurt when he cheers from being able to come back and sit here. The police forced them to the other side of the gym, but Kurt thinks they’ll try to sneak back over.”

“Got it,” Puck said. “But these seats suck. Let’s at least move up to the third row so we can see the game. We’ll keep anyone from sitting between us and the cheerleaders.”

A little before halftime, a few of the hecklers were back attempting to sit in the empty rows behind the cheerleaders.

Puck got up and stepped down the bleachers. “No fucking way. Go back to the other side of the gym.”

“The fag your boyfriend?”

“So what if he is? It’s none of your concern. Turn around and walk back or we’ll call the cops again.”

When they didn’t immediately walk away, Mike stood up and stepped down next to Puck. Rory joined them.

“We’re not afraid of you Titan losers.”

“That’s fine,” Puck said. “We won’t be the ones escorting you to a cell.” He pulled his phone out. “Go back to the other side.”

By this time, the security officers had noticed the group of spectators standing and approached the area.

“You were warned. Back to the other side.”

“You’re all a bunch of fags,” Tommy said.

“Move!” one of the security officers said resolutely.

The group finally left and went back to the other side.

The halftime show went well. The rest of the game was uneventful. The Titans won.

“Let’s get Kurt out of here,” Sebastian said. He went down to the floor and said, “Come on. We’re leaving.”

The other guys formed a ring around him and walked to the Navigator. Kurt got in the driver’s side and Sebastian got in right after he did.

“Thanks guys,” Sebastian said.

Kurt pulled out of the space and out of the lot as quickly as he could.

“Well, they were persistent.”

“I know. That’s why I quit in the first place. We’ve played this team before. They’re awful. I don’t want to cheer tomorrow. Those jerks are just going to show up at tomorrow’s game claiming to be Titans fans.”

“Well, if they do, we’ll just leave.”

“Okay.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian convinced Kurt to go up and do some reading while he made them omelettes for dinner. He took their food up on a tray and they sat together and ate. Once they finished eating, they showered, and Sebastian gave Kurt a massage.

“Are you sure you want to stay on the squad?”

“Honestly, right this minute, I don’t know. But I’ve already learned my part of the routine, well the dancing part. I have the vocals to work on this coming week. The competition is a week from tomorrow. I’ll decide for certain after that. You’ll come with me, right?”

“Where to? I mean of course I’ll go, but where it is?”

“In Indianapolis.”

“How far away is Indianapolis?”

“About two and a half hours. We can drive ourselves. Maybe we could spend the night? I don’t know. It might be too expensive, but we could at least look.”

“We’ll look into it tomorrow.” Sebastian continued to work the knots in Kurt’s shoulders out.

“That feels so good. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I like making you feel good.”

“Mmm… well, you’re doing a fantastic job.”

Kurt fell asleep while Sebastian was massaging him. Sebastian managed to turn Kurt on his side gently and get his pillow under his head without waking him up completely. He slid in behind him as the big spoon and snuggled up tight.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning they headed to the shop as usual. They were both still a little tired and Kurt played the radio while they rode in silence for a while.

“I think you’ll need to work this Sunday morning to make up for not working next Sunday morning, right?”

“Not necessarily. I could head in and do the books now. And then next Friday I can do the other half. I just won’t learn anything about fixing cars this week. I’d rather do that than potentially leave any of the things I am supposed to do incomplete.”

“That’s fine. I really would like to stay the night and do something fun together on Sunday. I will have already spent the money on the gas whether we stay overnight or not. We can pack some food to take and just find one cool place to try.”

“We’ll look into hotel prices when we get back home.”

Kurt unlocked the door and they headed inside. Kurt headed for the lounge to change. Sebastian grabbed his hand and stopped him. He pulled him toward him and kissed him, and then let him go get changed.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Once they were back home and had eaten lunch, Kurt went back to doing his homework and Sebastian searched for a hotel in Indianapolis.

“What time will the competition end?”

“I think around 6:00 or 7:00. We perform at 4:00, so if we leave early, we could go to one place before I have to be there.”

“Alright. Keep reading. I’ll keep looking.”

An hour later, Kurt put his textbook on the desk and draped his arms around Sebastian’s neck and let them hang on his chest. He pressed small kisses into he side of Sebastian’s neck.

“Find any possibilities?”

Sebastian picked up the laptop and moved to the bed. “Well, there’s a Native American museum and not far from there is the Indiana State Museum, which actually looks really cool too. The largest children’s museum in the US is in Indianapolis too, but it’s a little bit north of where the competition is, so that would have to be a potential destination for Sunday. There’s also a zoo and a large mall in the downtown area that’s made up of connected buildings with crosswalks over streets and a glass arts garden that sits over the top of a four-way intersection. It’s definitely interesting looking.”

Kurt followed him and sat down close to him so they could both look at the screen. “Well, as much as I love shopping, I’ve pretty much given that hobby up since I’ve decided that I’d really rather pay as much of my own way as possible. Shopping and planning outfits was a good distraction from my life. But I don’t dislike my life like I used to.”

Sebastian smiled and leaned over and offered Kurt a kiss, which he gladly accepted. “So, maybe the museums, then.” Sebastian switched to the tabs he had opened with the museum websites.

Kurt looked through the websites. Kurt switched from the museum websites to the hotel pages that Sebastian had pulled up in the area. “You know, we could also just go to one place close to the competition venue and save the money for a hotel for spring break. We still have time to get decent rates for that. Trying to get a hotel room at the last minute in the downtown area looks like it’s going to be at least $150.”

“What did you have in mind for spring break?”

“I hadn’t started planning. The cheering situation just took over my week this past week.”

Sebastian saved the tabs and shut the laptop down and put it on the shelf next to his side of the bed. He moved his arm and wrapped it around Kurt’s shoulders and scooted closer to Kurt. He gently tipped Kurt’s face towards his and gently kissed Kurt. “I want to tell you something.”

“What?”

“You can tell me I’m wrong, and I could be, but I want to tell you what I see from what you’ve told me.”

“Okay.”

“Coach Sue promised the most vicious member of the squad the lead vocal position, but then had to scrap her original plans. She was struggling with her squad to get them ready for Regionals after she had chosen a new song. For whatever reason, the routine wasn’t coming together. You won Nationals for her two years ago. She likes to win more than anything. From what I see, she came up with anything she could to persuade you to come back, knowing that all the girls on the team like you. She used your influence to get them to do a better job when she couldn’t get them to the point they needed to be. Santana gets what she wants. Sue gets what she wants. And you’ve gotten a lot of stress and you still have more to face since you don’t even have the vocals learned yet. I feel like you are taking a step backwards in your newfound self-respect. It feels like she is using you. I don’t like it.”

Kurt wrapped himself around Sebastian more tightly and thought about what he had said. “I can see what you are pointing out. I probably should have just said ‘no’ when she asked. I’m sure she is manipulating me, but I kind of wanted to prove myself right. I wanted to prove that the girls can be treated respectfully and still work hard and win. So, I think you’re right, but I’m still going to follow through with it to prove my point. It’s whether I’ll continue past next weekend that I have to figure out. Even if it’s only two weeks of the girls not being berated daily, maybe it will be enough for them to realize that they don’t have to live with it in order to be a successful squad.”

“I know you’re not looking forward to tonight’s game, but whether it interferes with Coach Sue’s plans or not, if those guys are there sitting in the McKinley section behind the cheer area, we are leaving.”

“Alright.”

“There is no shame in shielding yourself from attack.”

“There’s a kid’s rhyme that says ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. We’re taught from a young age to ignore the taunts because they don’t hurt. But the truth is that the words do hurt and while they may not break bones, they’re soul crushing. I’ve never retaliated physically, but I have been quite vocal in my retorts. But it seems that the retorts never actually hurt my tormentors the way their words hurt me.”

“Probably because society, at least Lima society, was on their side. The people around them believe what they say, whereas you never or rarely had anyone who took your side or who believed you were fine to be who you were. If you had had as many people telling you that it was okay to be yourself, their taunts would not have hurt you like they did. But they were just the ones who had the nerve to say out loud what a lot of people said behind closed doors and behind your back.”

“It goes along with what you said, doesn’t it? You had to pretend to be bored middle-class, only child looking for something to do while you were home from school in order to get hired. You heard what people said about poor kids. You couldn’t allow yourself to be seen as one of ‘those kids’ because society had all sorts of prejudices against them.”

“I hid all the time. I had to. I was just fortunate enough that I could hide in plain sight.”

“I’m sure I could have done a better job. I mean I’ve learned a lot from Matt. There’s so many what ifs. What if I had learned to do a better job of pretending to be a ‘normal’ boy after my mom died? If my dad had remarried quickly, there would have been someone else to take care of him and the house. I wouldn’t have been encouraged to learn to cook and sew and whatnot because there would have been someone here to do that for my dad. I wouldn’t have been straight and my interests might not have been any different, but in a different situation, those interests could have been suppressed really young. I guess none of that has any bearing on tonight’s game. But I don’t have to live with being called names for the sake of cheering for a basketball team. That isn’t anything life-altering for anyone except me, IF I wanted to be scouted for college cheer squads, which I don’t. Hopefully, I’ll get chances to perform in the program I’ll be in next fall.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about lacrosse. I loved playing in France, but here, I’m not sure. I already have a lot of schoolwork and the Warblers and the tutoring. If we don’t make it past Regionals, I could take on a few more people to tutor and save up more money during the time I would be practicing for lacrosse.”

“You heard my dad too, though. He wants us to have time to have some fun. He wants us to grow up to work hard, but not work ourselves into not enjoying our lives at all.”

“That’s why I’m thinking about it. I looked at the schedule and they play three games a week, alternating with two games a week. There’s practice two other days a week. I’ll end up spending 8-10 hours a week practicing or playing. And I’ll miss working on Friday nights and Saturday mornings several times because of the Saturday games. I’m still debating about it.”

“I understand. The Saturday afternoon games make it a tougher decision since you’d miss 7 hours of work those weeks.”

“I’ve been thinking about the Warblers a lot too. If we don’t make it past Regionals, I will probably step down as lead singer and probably resign from the group. I won’t be back next fall to part of whatever they work on. I’m not sure yet. But I’m 100% certain that Blaine will attempt to resume lead singer next year and he might as well start sooner than later.”

“Is he causing you any problems? I know you said he wasn’t to my dad, but is he?”

“No. He really is playing his ‘team player’ role perfectly.”

“Good. Whether he is actually learning to be a team player or just pretending to be a team player – in the end, it will make him a better performer in general. Maybe it will make him a better lead next year.”

“Why do you care?”

“Because next year’s group deserves a decent lead singer and not a return of ‘Blaine and the Pips’.”

“You’re right. If I had come at the beginning of last year, you and I could have rocked the lead together.”

Kurt looked up and kissed him. “Maybe. But you might not have given me a second look.”

“You’re hard to miss.” Sebastian squeezed him.

“Blaine was already lead. We would have had to dethrone him, which would have been really hard to do with Wes in charge. He was very committed to the shuffle step and Blaine being the lead singer.”

Sebastian laughed. “I’ve heard about his commitment to his gavel as well.”

“That too.”

Sebastian changed the subject. “Do you have more schoolwork to catch up on still?”

“A little.”

“Do you want to finish it now?”

“I guess. That way, I won’t have to think about it anymore.” Kurt got up and grabbed the last textbook he needed.

“Can you concentrate if you lie back on me as your chair?”

“I can try.”

Sebastian grabbed a pillow and put it on top of the bolster and grabbed his phone and earPods. He sat back and made room for Kurt to sit between his legs and lean back on him. He propped another pillow in Kurt’s lap and they both bent their knees so Kurt could prop the book up and read it. Sebastian laid his head back, started some music, closed his eyes, and wrapped his arms around Kurt.

Kurt used one of his hands to turn the pages as he read, and caressed Sebastian’s hands that were interlaced on his chest with the other. He never knew how much he would enjoy someone holding him. About 45 minutes later, Kurt had finally finished all of the pages that he had been assigned throughout the week that he hadn’t gotten read. He closed the book and placed it to his left. He moved the pillow as well. He gently pushed Sebastian’s legs down and turned on his side and wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s torso and snuggled him.

Sebastian adjusted himself so he slid down in the bed a bit to get them more comfortable. He pulled his earPods out and turned the music off. “Do you want to take a nap before we leave? You could sleep for about an hour.”

“Set your phone for an hour, but I don’t want to sleep. I just want to hold you.”

Sebastian set the alarm and put his phone on the shelf.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour later, they got up. Kurt got his uniform on and they headed to Thurston for the final basketball game of the season. The team had done better than they had in some years, but they weren’t headed into the playoffs. With the game being nearby and the last of the season, they had a decent turnout of McKinley students show up to watch the game.

They were surprised to see Dave in line, but neither of them said anything as they entered through the players’ entrance. Kurt headed off to warm up with the girls and Sebastian took a seat in the fourth row behind the cheerleaders. He hoped they’d have no need to leave early, but he sat where he could make a quick exit if need be.

Sebastian’s phone pinged a few minutes later.

To Sebastian: Get Kurt out of here as soon as the game actually starts, like during the national anthem. Nick and some of the Thurston jackasses were talking to some guys from South Allen and Smear the Queer is on the agenda for tonight’s game. Word spread around from last night. Don’t respond. Delete this.

Sebastian got up, moved down a few rows and walked directly up to Coach Sue. He showed her his phone. She nodded.

“Take Kurt’s letter jacket, go out, and pull his SUV up to the entrance you came in.”

Sebastian nodded. He left his coat on the chair where Kurt’s had been hanging. He folded Kurt’s inside out and took it out to the parking lot and got directly into the Navigator and pulled it up. He kept it running.

Sue pulled Kurt back from the line up like she was giving him some sort of pep talk.

“As soon as the national anthem plays, put Sebastian’s coat on to cover your uniform as much as possible. It’s on the chair behind me. He’s pulling your SUV as close to the players’ entrance as he can right now. Walk out quickly, get in, and drive home. Go back to the line for now and look as normal as possible.”

He nodded.

A couple of minutes later, Thurstan’s band assembled on the end of the basketball court opposite the doors that led outside. The announcer said, “All rise for the national anthem.”

Kurt stepped back out of line, put Sebastian’s coat on, and headed directly to the door. He opened the door and saw Sebastian waiting for him. He jogged to the SUV and opened the passenger door and shut it and heard Sebastian hit the lock and drove out of the parking lot as Kurt fastened his seat belt.

“What’s going on?”

“Bear Cub warned me of ‘Smear the Queer.’ I don’t have any details. He just said he overheard some of the Thurstan jocks talking to some of those guys from South Allen from last night. He said to delete the text, but I showed it to Coach Sue first and then deleted it. She had me swap coats and wait outside the door for you.”

Kurt pulled his phone out of the glove box and placed an order at his favorite Chinese place. “I don’t feel like going home and cooking.”

“That’s fine. Just tell me how to get there, or we can pull over and trade places.”

Kurt reached out and put his hand on Sebastian’s leg. He gave him directions to the restaurant. He pulled into the parking lot, went inside, picked up the order and came right back out. Kurt had switched positions while he was gone. They headed straight home.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt pulled out two plates, some silverware, and grabbed some napkins. Sebastian grabbed a couple of drinks from the fridge. They headed upstairs.

“I think the food will still be hot if we shower quickly. I’d rather not change twice and I can’t eat in this uniform,” Kurt said from inside the closet, as he tossed the uniform into the laundry. He came out of the closet in his underwear. “Or I guess I can eat in my underwear and then we can shower.”

Sebastian’s eyes brightened as he came out like that. “Sure. Let’s just eat and then shower. I’d rather have a nice, long shower.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

Kurt laughed. “I should have figured as much. Let’s eat, then, while the food is hot and before I freeze.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt got a text from Carole about an hour later. He responded quickly letting her know that he was at home and that he’d explain later. He snuggled back up with Sebastian and continued to watch the movie they had chosen. She knocked on their door about 30 minutes later. They scrambled to put pajamas on and Kurt opened the door to let her in. Sebastian hit pause on the DVD.

She came in and sat down in the chair by the window. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt your movie.”

“It’s fine,” Sebastian said. “That’s what pause buttons are for.”

She laughed. “I’m not used to that answer.”

“We already ate, if that’s what you came up to see. We stopped by the Siam House and brought dinner home with us,” Kurt offered.

“Well, that was one question. My second was why you weren’t there. Sam was looking for you after the game. He knew you were there and then you weren’t.”

Kurt and Sebastian explained why they had left.

“The people around here are just stupid,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous. I’m glad you left and didn’t end up getting hurt or whatever they had planned.”

“Well, I won’t be wearing the uniform anywhere except to the competition next weekend, so hopefully that will help cut down on any retaliation for their lack of success tonight.”

“I will drive you to practice every morning this week and drop you off right at the door. Sam can take the Navigator when he leaves and you’ll still have it when you get out of school.”

“Alright.”

“Are you going to Cincinnati in the morning?”

“No. I’m actually not going for quite a while. Between Cheerios Regionals and Glee Regionals, the university’s spring break and our spring break, I won’t be going back until the first weekend in April.”

“Alright, then. I’ll probably sleep in tomorrow morning if I can. I’ll be working as many shifts as I can get in since I want to take those 10 days off the middle of March. I took off the Saturday of Glee Regionals so I can watch everyone perform, but I couldn’t get off this Saturday. I’m sorry about that. Maybe Sebastian can record it and I can watch it after you get back.”

“I understand. It’s a long ways from here. I didn’t expect you to go anyway.”

“We haven’t talked much, but I also thought I’d let you know, that as of right now, the wedding is still on for the afternoon after Regionals. I understand that you are not currently all that friendly with Rachel, but I would still like both of you to be there.”

“Of course,” Kurt said.

Sebastian just nodded.

“I’ll get you more details once I know them. Honestly, I am still hoping that they decide to wait until school is over for the year, but we’ll see. I’ll let you two finish your movie.”

“Good night,” Kurt said as he closed the door after she left. He locked it and undressed again and got back in bed.

Sebastian did the same. “I don’t have anything to wear to a wedding.”

“I’m not even sure how fancy they are planning on it being. Since it’s mostly just a group of high school students that will attend and the four parents, I’m not sure what to expect. I have plenty of vests and ties. I think we’ll be fine.”

“Alright.” He unpaused the movie and scooted up closer to Kurt.

The movie ended about 10 minutes later and Sebastian asked Kurt, “Do you want to watch something else or should I turn it off and put the bolster in the closet so we can lie down?”

“Let’s just snuggle and talk.” Kurt sat up so that Sebastian could grab the bolster and put it in the closet. He put their pillows back down in sleeping position.

Sebastian used the remote to turn everything off and got back into bed. “Snuggle position choice?”

“I’m your body pillow.”

Sebastian let Kurt get comfortable on his back and then lay halfway down on top of Kurt, who quickly wrapped his arms around Sebastian. They lay that way for a while, making small adjustments in their positions until they were both comfortable.

“Do you think I’m like Finn?”

“No. What makes you think that I would?”

“Because I don’t have any great plans for my life. I don’t have some giant ‘save the world’ or ‘become the best’ at something dream for my life.”

“You have a goal. You want to be a functioning adult member of society. You want to work, make your own money, do things you enjoy, spend time with people you love – those are all perfectly fine. You don’t have to want to ‘save the world’ or whatever.”

“You don’t think I just love the fact that you love me, do you?”

“No. You show me that you love me all the time.” Kurt kissed the top of his head. “You’ve only heard a little bit about the two of them. We are nothing at all like they are. And I actually am not judging Finn for not having a 5-year plan or whatever. I’m just pretty sure he doesn’t know what he’s choosing. He has no idea that he will have to work 40-60 hours a week at minimum wage to pay for half of the cost of a tiny shoebox apartment in New York City. And that it means that he’ll have to work 2-3 jobs to get that many hours. And he’ll probably only be home when Rachel’s sleeping. She could live on campus for cheaper than in an apartment, so I don’t see how her dads will be willing to pay extra just so Finn can live there too. But back to what you asked. You had clearly done the calculations. You made an informed choice about staying and going to college in Cincinnati. You chose a major. You applied. You waited until you got your acceptance letter to tell me you had done it. You clearly weren’t trying to manipulate me. We get along. I mean unless you’ve just been acting this whole time and pretending to enjoy spending time with me.”

“No, God no.” Sebastian moved his hand and ran his thumb along Kurt’s clavicle. “I really do enjoy spending time with you.”

“Until you just brought it up, I had never compared the two of us to the two of them.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“Being insecure I guess. Being needy.”

“It’s okay. I know all of this is new. I feel like I’m the needy one too sometimes, you know. You rescued me who knows what tonight. We both have our demons that haunt us.” Kurt let go of his hold on Sebastian to run his fingers through Sebastian’s hair. “I want to be here for you when you need someone in your corner. You’ve been there for me too. We’ll stick together. We’ll make plans together, like we have been. You’re not my pet project. I’m not with you because I feel sorry for you. I think you’re amazing. I feel sorry for Dave, but I would never consider dating him. Feeling sorry for someone is not a good basis for a loving relationship. You’ve been through a lot and you’ve survived. We’ll keep doing our best to survive whatever we face, together.”

“I love being with you and I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, Kurt woke up first. Despite the fact that making breakfast in bed for Sebastian had been on his agenda, he was still being used as a body pillow by his very adorable sleeping boyfriend. He lay still, allowing Sebastian to continue to sleep. He knew that Sebastian had sacrificed several hours of sleep during the week to manage to come on Tuesday to spend the evening and night with him and still have all of his schoolwork done when he got home on Friday. When Sebastian had doubts about whether Kurt knew that he loved him, little things like that made all the difference. Sebastian wanted to be with him enough to make sure he had free time to spend with Kurt every weekend.

After a while, Sebastian began to stir. He cuddled up tighter and Kurt couldn’t help but laugh a little. “You’re adorable.”

“Good morning, beautiful.” Sebastian kissed him on the neck.

Kurt squeezed him. “This means more than any gift you could ever buy me.”

“What?”

“That you work so hard to have time for me every weekend. You could hang around Dalton and do any number of things with anyone you want to, but you choose me. When you wonder if I know that you love me, this is the answer to that. I know. You show me.” Kurt kissed the top of his head. “I know you’re concerned that you don’t know how to be a good boyfriend, but you don’t need to be concerned. You’re an amazing boyfriend. That’s what I’ve been lying here thinking about.”

“I’m glad you think so.” Sebastian kissed his neck again. He moved a little and lay down on top of Kurt, slipped his hands and forearms up underneath Kurt’s shoulders, and propped himself up on his elbows and continued to kiss Kurt’s neck until he was moaning, bucking up, and chasing after the kisses.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After they got out of the shower, they put pajama pants on and lay back down in the bed. This time Sebastian was the big spoon. Kurt was cuddled into him so tight, there was no space between them at all. Sebastian pressed gentle kisses to the back of his neck. Kurt turned over and faced him. He wrapped himself up in Sebastian’s arms and wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s neck. He was too tired from their second round in the shower to push for more than lazy, comforting kisses.

“What about inviting Nick and Jeff to go with us to Indianapolis? We could split the cost of a hotel room with them and we could see how well the four of us get along without the potential awkwardness of them seeing that we share a room and sleep together. If it works out and we have fun, we could invite them here sometime in the future.”

“That’s a good idea. I’ll text Jeff in a little bit and see if they’re interested. It’s still pretty early. It’s not even 7:30 yet. How about another hour of snuggling and kissing and then I’ll text them?”

Kurt answered with kisses.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt ladled soup into two bowls and put them on the island. Sebastian grabbed silverware and drinks while Kurt washed the pot. They sat down together to eat, but the soup was still a little too hot.

“So, we’ll go to the Indiana State Museum Saturday morning, then to Regionals? We’ll stay overnight and go to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Sunday? And they’re fine with leaving Dalton so early on Saturday morning?”

“Jeff said they were. So, they’ll be here at 7:30. They’ll move their bags to the Navigator and we’ll head to Indianapolis. The Children’s Museum closes at 5:00, so we can head back and they can be back at Dalton long before 10:00.”

“Sounds like a plan. Do you know where they’re going to college?”

“Unless they applied for early admission somewhere, they won’t know yet, right?”

“You’re right.”

They started eating and continued talking. “Is there anyone from McKinley you’d like to do things with? I don’t want you to feel like I’m isolating you. We had a good time with Tina and Quinn that time.”

“We could invite them to go skating again sometime. I don’t really hang out with anyone at school - except Sam. This semester, he’s been hanging out with the guys a lot more than with me.”

“So, no one except Sam?”

“Not really. At one point I would have said Mercedes, but she left New Directions for most of first semester and she eats with Shane and rarely talks to me anymore.”

Sebastian leaned over and offered Kurt a kiss. He responded by leaning forward and kissing Sebastian.

“Let’s go shopping.”

“Shopping for what?”

“Summer clothes for you.”

“It’s below zero outside, whatever that is in Fahrenheit.”

“It’s about 25 degrees outside. I know, but you don’t have any summer clothes and we can start shopping now. Each time we go out maybe we’ll find two or three things you like and by the time it turns warm, you’ll have everything you need and won’t have to buy anything retail, well except some summer athletic socks.” Kurt had a huge smile on his face and looked like he was planning something really exciting.

Sebastian loved to see Kurt all smiling and happy. “Sure. We’ll be the only ones shopping for summer stuff and get the best selection. I could just wear your clothes though.” He smiled.

“I don’t actually own very many summer clothes. Since I didn’t have anyone to do anything with in the summers, I mostly hung out at the shop and here at home. But that it is a good point. I should look through what I have and get rid of anything I don’t want and see what it is that I could use. I know we’ll still work a lot this summer, but I want to go out and do things with you too. We don’t have to stay in Lima. We could go camping some time. It’s cheaper than hotel rooms.”

“I’ve never been camping.”

“It’s fun. We’ll go this summer, maybe up near the lake.”

“Alright.” Sebastian was nearly laughing because Kurt seemed so excited.

“Why are you laughing?”

“Because you seem so excited and it sounds like an adventure. And I get to go with you, so how could it not be fun?”

“Oh, okay.”

“I’m not making fun of you if that’s what you thought.”

“I’m sorry. Old habit.”

“Hey, look at me.”

Kurt looked at him.

He leaned over and kissed Kurt. “None of that. If you say you like camping, there’s no reason for me not to believe you. Maybe I’ll love it. Maybe I’ll hate it. Or maybe somewhere in between. I won’t know until we go.”

“We could go during spring break if we head somewhere south. We can look at places later.” He got up and picked up their bowls and put them in the dishwasher.

Sebastian grabbed everything else and put it in.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They went inside Goodwill and started looking through the racks together. They gathered up a stack of clothes and got up the nerve to go in the handicapped dressing room together since no one was using it.

They tried everything on. It turned into mostly Kurt watching Sebastian try clothes on because Kurt was only looking for a few things.

“Oooh, I like that on you.”

Sebastian put the shirt in the keep pile and smiled.

“You know you can pick for yourself, right?” Kurt teased.

“I know, but I don’t have to look at myself while I wear the clothes. If you think they look good, then I’ll get them. To me, it’s a piece of clothing. I like looking good, but I don’t have any loyalty to any brand or any particular way of dressing. We’re going to work, go out together and have fun, and eventually go to college wearing these clothes. I want to look good, be comfortable, and not stand out like a sore thumb. So, I won’t be choosing any neon-colored plaid shirts or shorts. I just want to blend in like I have my whole life, but look good doing it.”

Kurt stood up and wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s torso and whispered in his ear. “You’re gorgeous so the ‘looking good’ part is pretty much a given.” He licked his ear and kissed down his neck.

Sebastian wrapped his arms around Kurt’s waist and held him close. He whispered in Kurt’s ear. “If you keep that up, I’m going to want to do something besides try on clothes in here.”

Kurt laughed and responded, “I’ve been struggling to keep my hands to myself for about 10 shirts.”

“Oh, really?”

Kurt nodded and blushed.

“Well, then I better hurry up.” He tried on the last couple of shirts. “Done. Five shirts and three pairs of shorts is a good start. Let’s go.” Sebastian redressed. They left what they didn’t choose on the rack outside the door, got in line, paid, and went back out the Navigator.

As they were putting their bags in the back, Sebastian said, “Drive us somewhere where there won’t be any people around.”

They got in and Kurt drove to a wooded area not that far away that had no playground and just a few hiking trails that no one used in the winter. “What do you want to do?”

“Put the back seats down and do what we wanted to do in the dressing room.”

Kurt got out, showed Sebastian how to put the backseats down and they both climbed in. Kurt hit the lock on the remote.

“No one’s here and your back windows are tinted.” Sebastian gently laid Kurt back and started kissing him. “Are you okay with this?”

“Mm hmm,” he answered as they kissed.

“Can I blow you?”

“Yes, please. I don’t want to get undressed though. It’s too cold.”

Sebastian laughed. “I think I can handle that.”

Afterwards, they switched positions. They lay cuddled up in each other’s arms for a while, until Sebastian felt Kurt shiver.

“Let’s go get some coffee.”

Kurt drove them the 20 minutes back into town.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“Oooh. That looks good. Let’s split one of those caramel praline cheesecake slices.”

“Okay. Why don’t you go find us a table?”

Kurt walked to the other side of the Lima Bean. Sebastian stood in line and a couple of minutes later, he heard a familiar voice speaking in a low voice. “He won’t put out, you know.”

“Good afternoon to you, too, Blaine.”

“How long have you two been dating?”

“Four weeks, a month tomorrow.”

“Well, since you were all ‘it doesn’t bother me, if it doesn’t bother you’ I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“That was a bad joke. And I am perfectly fine, but thanks for your concern.”

Sebastian ordered and moved to the side to wait for the order.

“I can’t believe you’d give up your adventurous spirit to be tied down to a prudish bore.”

“I can’t believe you’re speaking that way about someone you supposedly loved. And not that I’d expect you to remember, but I already told you that I’m not that guy – when you came back in Scandals smashed, wanting me to tell you what it’s like – I told you I didn’t know.”

“He’s the one that dumped me. I thought you were lying just to be a jerk. Doesn’t matter. I found someone new who doesn’t need any coddling.”

Sebastian’s name was called. He grabbed the tray and said, “Well, enjoy your afternoon, Blaine.” He took the tray and sat down on the same side of the table as Kurt.

Kurt grabbed his coffee and the slice of cheesecake. Sebastian sat down next to Kurt, grabbed his coffee, and pushed the tray to the other side of the table.

“I saw Blaine behind you in line .”

“Yeah, I did my best to not engage with him. He did figure out that we’re dating though.”

“Well, I was holding your hand in line for a while. He must have noticed. I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“I should keep my hands to myself.”

“Look, I’m not interested in getting dumpster tossed or whatever, but the majority of people who come here are not homophobic jocks. I don’t care what adults might say to us. I highly doubt there are any adults who are willing to go to jail for assaulting high school students for holding hands while standing in line to buy coffee.”

“That’s probably true.”

Sebastian slipped his hand into Kurt’s lap and took his hand. “I’m not embarrassed to be with you.”

Kurt nodded. He picked up his coffee cup and took a small sip.

“So, camping.” Sebastian let go of Kurt’s hand so he could use his phone. He took a drink of his coffee and a bite of the cheesecake. “It’s good. Take a bite.” He offered Kurt the fork. “Don’t worry about him. If he tells everyone at school, it’s fine with me.”

“I thought you didn’t want anyone to know.”

“I’m sorry. That makes it sound like I’m embarrassed. It’s not that at all. I just don’t tell anyone anything. But I’m working on that. It will probably take a long time for me to just be open with people as my first response. But us, I’m not ashamed of us, mon étoile. Look at me.”

Kurt looked up. “I love you and I’m not ashamed.” Sebastian leaned over and quickly pecked Kurt on the lips.

Kurt blushed. “Bas.”

“Not ashamed. You are amazing and I’m a lucky guy.” He picked up the fork and took another bite. “This one is good, but yours is so much better.”

“Thank you.”

Sebastian picked up another forkful and fed it to Kurt, who blushed again.

“People are going to see you.”

“Do you see any jocks in here that are a danger to us?”

Kurt looked around. “Mostly people are looking at their phones or books or newspapers.”

“Most people mind their own business, at least most adults do. Those homophobic jocks need jobs. They have too much time on their hands.” He took another bite, and then fed another bite to Kurt, who still blushed, but not quite as much. “So, how long are we willing to drive to go camping?”

“Let’s look at the forecasts for a few places. I’ve never really been anywhere south of Cincinnati except to Tennessee once, so I don’t know how far south we’d have to go to get someplace warm enough to camp in the middle of March. We may just have to wait and go after school gets out.”

“Let’s see… Let’s look at the middle of Tennessee.” He fiddled with his phone for a while.

“That would be about a 6-hour drive.”

“It looks like its would be in the mid-70s. That’s nice, right?”

“It is. It’s like pants all day, jacket in the morning kind of weather.”

Sebastian kept reading. “There are bears in Tennessee. I’m not sure I want to sleep in a tent with bears nearby.”

Kurt lowered his voice to barely more than a whisper. “I guess we could just sleep in the back of the Navigator. We know we can both fit back there lying down.”

“That’s true.”

“I’ve never been to the ocean either. We could drive another 6 or 7 hours and go to the beach in northern Florida.”

“We could. Let’s go home and work on ideas and see what we can afford.”

Sebastian grabbed the plate and fork and put them on the tray. Kurt grabbed both cups and followed Sebastian to the trash can/dish drop-off. Sebastian took Kurt’s hand and they walked out to the Navigator. He let go when they got there and they got in.

As soon as they were both inside, Sebastian reached for Kurt’s hand again and Kurt took it. Sebastian leaned over the console and offered him a kiss, which he accepted.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Back at home in bed after eating dinner and showering, Sebastian was leaning back against the bolster and a pillow with Kurt sitting between his legs leaning back on him. They were both in pajama pants and had a blanket over their shoulders. Sebastian was using his phone and Kurt was using a notebook and pencil to work on their spring break plan.

“So, if we went all the way to northern Florida and back, we’d spend $250-300 in gas, depending on gas prices and our mileage,” Kurt said.

“That’s a lot. The campsites I’m looking at are about $30 a night. If we leave Friday and come back Sunday, that would be 8 days, so about $250.”

Kurt wrote that down.

“Then there’s the issue of food. I think we’d need to eat out once a day, maybe at lunch when restaurants charge less. We could pack yogurt, granola bars, and sandwiches.”

“One meal out a day would still be at least $15, maybe $20. So, $175.”

Kurt added that to the page. “$300+$250+$175=$625. So, we’d need to have $700 in case we needed extra for something. Plus, whatever we spend on the food we pack to take with us.”

“That’s a lot,” Sebastian said.

“It is. And if we want to do anything besides look around, we’ll need money to get into places, like that cool aquarium in Gatlinburg or any museums we might want to visit.”

“So, more like, $800-$850, depending on how much it costs to get into places. At $20-30 per place, we could go to 2-3 places.”

“Or…”

“Or?” Sebastian asked.

“Or we could stay here, have the house to ourselves and work everyday the whole day like we normally go to school and save all of the money from our paychecks that week to go on a trip right after graduation. We could go in at 7:00, leave at 4:30 and still have a lot of the afternoon and the whole evening to ourselves and by the end of the week, we’d have about $1200 we could use. Then we could alternate between camping and staying in hotels.”

“Interesting idea.”

“You could try to study for a couple of the certification tests during the week and we could go over anything that you need help with during spring break and then you could sit for the exams. I know that being a mechanic was never on your radar of things to do, but you’re a really quick study at it and it pays well.”

Sebastian took the notebook and pencil Kurt had in his hand and put it on the shelf next to the bed with his phone. He nudged Kurt to move and he moved the bolster out of the way and scooted down in the bed. He opened his arm, making room for Kurt to lay his head on his chest, which Kurt did quickly, as if it was where he belonged. Sebastian wrapped his arms around him.

“It was never on my radar because I had no way of learning to do it. I told you I don’t have any grand plans for my future. I already have more than I had ever allowed myself to dream of.” He kissed Kurt. “Being a mechanic would just be a added benefit to my life. Being able to fix cars is a huge thing. I’ll do what I can to learn what I need to know for the tests. You can show me which ones are the most useful to have first and I’ll start with those.”

“Alright. I’ll do that…later.”

“Later?”

Kurt pushed up on his arm and got up on his hands and knees and straddled Sebastian and kissed him. “Okay?”

“Later’s great.” He smiled and pulled Kurt down on top of him.

Kurt slipped his forearms under Sebastian’s shoulders and deepened the kiss. “I love you, Bas. So much.” Kurt kissed down his neck and his chest. He looked up, asking with his eyes.

Sebastian nodded.

Kurt continued to kiss down farther and pulled his arms out from under Sebastian to keep his balance. He sat on Sebastian’s thighs and ran his hands down Sebastian’s arms and chest, alternating between light massages and caressing him. He leaned down and kissed him again. He kissed his way down again and worked his way toward his goal.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

A half hour later, they were both out of breath and lying all intertwined under the covers, both blissed out.

“I’d have to say that we are both getting quite good at that,” Sebastian laughed.

“Mmm hmm. Definitely. I don’t know what you know about going farther, but I kept the pamphlets my dad gave me if you ever want to read them. We can talk about it.”

“Pamphlets?”

“Yeah. My dad and I got into an argument when I brought Blaine back here to sleep after he got drunk at Rachel’s party.”

“I remember you telling me.”

“So, during that argument, my dad made the comment that he didn’t know what ‘went down in the tent’ in Brokeback Mountain. I smarted back about maybe he should know more so I could go to him like a straight son could and ask questions.”

“Okay…”

“I was mad. He acted like I was going to have sex with someone who was drunk when I had never even kissed anyone I liked. He had pushed me too far and I stomped off. I was already 17. I knew what ‘went down in the tent’, I was just ticked that he didn’t.”

“Alright.”

“So, a couple of weeks later, Blaine decided that we should ‘sexify’ our Regionals set list and we learned and performed ‘Animal’ for the Crawford County Day Glee Club after school one day. He and I sang lead. I unfortunately did not put forth my best effort. He came to me afterwards and told me that my sexy faces looked like gas pains and came over to help me learn to look more sexy by looking in the mirror and working on it, which was even more awkward and uncomfortable than performing the song was.”

“I’ve seen you perform and pull off sexy quite well.” He kissed Kurt.

“Thank you. We talked a bit and I told him that I liked romance and old movies because they weren’t like pornography, which I don’t like at all. Needless to say, I ended up asking him to leave. But he came away from the whole conversation thinking that I didn’t know anything about sex. He went to my dad and told him that I needed to be taught.”

“No…”

“Oh, definitely yes. So, my dad went to a reproductive health clinic somewhere and got brochures about boys who love boys and how to practice safe sex. The best part about the whole thing was that my dad actually read the brochures before he gave them to me. I never did go to him asking him any questions. They were quite self-explanatory. I did learn some things from reading them that I hadn’t been able to find out online without ending up on porn sites. You and I haven’t talked about it much, but I still don’t like porn. I know a lot of guys love it.”

“I never had access to much since I was at a boarding school and they used filters to block those sites from the internet at the school. Of course, some of the guys bought DVDs and watched them on their laptops, but it was straight porn. I mean some of the guys were well-endowed and not bad looking, but it definitely didn’t do much for me. I’ve not pursued watching it here where I have more access. I’d rather snuggle with you and kiss than watch two guys pound each other.”

“Well, if you ever want to read the brochures, they’re in the blue folder over on my lower shelf.”

“Okay. And just in case you have any lingering doubts, I think you are super sexy.” Sebastian flipped them so Kurt was on his back and he started kissing up his neck. “You are absolutely gorgeous. Every part of you.” He kissed down his arms, and ran his hands all over Kurt. “You’re beautiful on the inside too.” He kissed him and licked his way into Kurt’s mouth, deepening the kiss, showing him how attractive he was and preventing him from saying anything contradictory at the same time.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The next morning, after Sebastian set off for Dalton, Kurt headed back upstairs to get dressed. He used the time when Sebastian was getting dressed to make them an omelette to split before Sebastian had to leave. Now, he was left in their room alone to get ready for the day, which made no sense to even bother with since he was going to be run ragged for an hour before class started. He put on some sweats, put his clothes in a bag and headed downstairs.

Carole was waiting for him. He had let the fact that she would be taking him to school slip his mind during his enjoyable Sunday with Sebastian – bullies, full of hate and homophobia made her feel the need to drive him to school for the week.

“Good morning, honey. Do you want something to eat?”

“I already ate with Sebastian, but thank you for the offer.”

“How’s he doing?”

“Good. He’s a sweetie. He’s a really good boyfriend.”

“I’m glad, honey. I like seeing you happy.”

“Nick and Jeff are going to go with us to Indianapolis this weekend. We’re all going to stay in a hotel Saturday night and go to a couple of fun things there.”

“I’m glad to see you doing things with other people too. I oftentimes wish we had continued to send you to Dalton. It was much more your speed academically and there are definitely more guys there for you to be friends with.”

“It’s alright. I don’t love it at McKinley. I didn’t love it at Dalton. A mix of the two would be great. The level of academics, the lack of bullying, with a mix of promoting individualism and less snobbery would be a great mix.”

Carole laughed. “I suppose it would be. I’m sure it was hard for you and for Sebastian to be there without access to the money that most of those boys have.”

“It’s just weird to listen to people talk about going to France or Italy the way people around here talk about going to Taco Bell.”

She about choked she laughed so hard. “But Nick and Jeff aren’t like that?”

“No, they’re not. They’re first generation wealth. They don’t run off to Europe for the weekend. Their dads just want them to get first-rate educations rather than attend public school. There’s some other guys like that, but for the most part the school is made up of old money.”

“Let’s get going. We can keep talking while I drive.”

They went out, got in Carole’s car, buckled up and headed to the school.

“I think that Sebastian and I are going to stay here for spring break and work full time and use the money to go on a trip after we graduate.”

“Where to?”

“Well, we talked about going to the Smoky Mountains and to see the ocean in northern Florida. We’re thinking of a combination of camping and staying in hotels.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“We think so. He’s, I don’t know how to explain it. He’s just comfortable. He’s easy to talk to. He’s just easy to be around.”

“I’ve noticed that. You’re very calm around him. Not in a he’s-controlling-you way and not in a you-act-like-someone-different way. He lets you be you. He likes you for who you already are, not what he can turn you into.”

“That’s a good description. I’ve always felt like people want to turn me into something other than what I was. I hate to say it, but even Dad. He loves me, but he doesn’t get me. He lets me be me, which I appreciate more than I can say. He always just seemed to wish that I was something I’m not. He’s getting better though. I think a lot of Dad’s issues were because of the way people treated me. I think he wished I could easily fit in without people being mean. I don’t think he every actually wanted to change me. I think he just wanted the whole situation changed.”

“Probably. I know he loves you. He’s proud of you. He says very positive things about you to everyone who will listen to him.”

Kurt laughed. “Thanks for telling me.”

“You’re welcome.” She pulled into the lot and drove around to the side where the gym doors opened and watched for Kurt to make it safely inside.

He waved as he walked through the door.

Chapter Text

Each day that week went the same for Kurt. Carole took him to school. He rehearsed with the Cheerios every morning. He practiced with Brittany and Santana every day at lunch. The New Directions practiced after school. He worked with Sam every afternoon until closing and they had started doing their schoolwork together again.

Tuesday, Kurt, Brittany, and Santana agreed to skip Glee to practice an extra hour after school. Thursday he met with them after dinner, which they ate with the residents of the Hummel home. The three of them worked on the music until they were sure they could sing the song in their sleep. Once the girls left Thursday evening, Kurt did his best to get all of the schoolwork done that he possibly could, but he didn’t manage to get it all done. He did what had to be turned in and left the reading to do the next day.

Out of the blue, Friday afternoon his French teacher assigned an additional long reading assignment and essay for Monday. That meant even with all of his work to stay caught up all week, he wasn’t going to be able to enjoy what he had planned for the weekend. He was torn between shirking his responsibilities at the shop and having to spend his Saturday evening doing schoolwork instead of having a good time in Indianapolis.

He drove to the shop after Glee. He looked through the list of work orders. He saw the list was too long to ignore, so he talked to Cassius, who had stayed late to cover for someone who called out sick.

“Is there anyone we can call in to help out this afternoon and tomorrow morning? I have a ton of homework that I really need to do before I leave town tomorrow morning for the cheerleading Regionals. I’m really sorry, Cassius.”

“Hey, Kurt. Lighten up. These cars need work, but your dad would have me skinned if he knew I let you work instead of getting your schoolwork done.”

“You know that’s not true,” Kurt teased.

“Well, he’d let me have it for sure. You go get that homework done and I’ll call Marty and get him in here to get the easy stuff done. I’ll start on what you were supposed to do.”

“Thanks, Cassius. I’ll be in the lounge doing my homework until close.”

A half hour later, Sebastian showed up and he came into the lounge and found Kurt reading his US Government book wearing his regular clothes instead of coveralls. He walked behind the chair Kurt was sitting in and draped himself over Kurt’s shoulders and kissed Kurt on the side of his neck. Kurt turned his head and offered Sebastian a kiss, which he quickly accepted.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Kurt said.

“Me too.” He kissed Kurt again. “Too much homework?”

“Yeah. I’m going to work on this while you do the books. You can even stay past closing if you need to since there’s no game to go to and we’re not coming in tomorrow morning or Sunday morning. I’ve got enough to keep me busy for most of the evening, unfortunately. You know I worked with the girls all evening yesterday. I only did things that had to turned in today and the rest I put off and managed to not get found out. And this afternoon Madame Charles assigned a 40-page reading assignment and a 3-page essay.”

“Alright. I’ll let you get as much done as you can. I’ll come back when I’m done.” He gave him one last kiss and left the room.

Three hours later, he was back. Kurt had made a big dent in his assignments, but still had some work left to do.

“Let’s get home. At least there, you can change into comfortable clothes and sit in your own chair.”

Kurt put the book he had been reading on the stack with the others. He held his hands out and Sebastian pulled him up from the chair and straight into a bear hug.

“I’ve decided I like these quite a bit. I have you to thank for introducing me to them.” He laughed and kissed Kurt on the side of the neck, while holding him close and squeezing him just right.

Kurt laughed. “I suppose I did. Good job, me.” He wrapped his arms around Sebastian’s back and leaned in and held on tight. “I love you. I missed you.”

“I missed you too.” He loosened his grip enough to kiss Kurt. “I love you too. Come on.” Sebastian picked up the stack of books. Kurt put his coat on and grabbed his satchel. They checked the doors and left through the employee entrance, setting the alarm on their way out.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian sent Kurt straight up to get started again on what he had left to do. He found Carole in the kitchen putting two plates in the fridge.

“Oh, here. These are for you and Kurt. I figured something happened at the shop to keep you two.”

“I worked until I got all of the bookkeeping done since we won’t be going in tomorrow or Sunday. Kurt worked on schoolwork all afternoon and that’s where he is still. He worked on the Regionals stuff and fell behind. Then, we’re going to be gone all weekend and he doesn’t want to have to work on it instead of going to the places we planned.”

“Makes sense. Burt wants him to do well, but he needs to have a little fun sometimes too. And he can’t do much that’s fun around here. I’m glad to see him having fun with you and – is it Nick and Jeff?”

“Yes.” Sebastian pulled his phone out and texted Kurt to come downstairs.

About a minute later, Kurt came in the room. “You rang?”

“Carole had plates of food ready for us.”

“Thanks,” Kurt said to her.

“You’re welcome.”

“I should have called. I’m sorry. I can’t keep track of when you’re home and when you’re not.”

“It’s fine, honey. It’s going to be too confusing to try to keep track of. I told you I’m picking up extra shifts, which means I’ll be working weird hours until spring break. I don’t expect you to call. But if I’m here and I make dinner, I’ll put food for the two of you in the fridge.”

The two of them sat down at the island to eat, which didn’t take them long since they were both really hungry. They put their dishes in the dishwasher and thanked Carole again.

“We’ll be leaving at 7:30 tomorrow morning. I’m going to try to finish everything and get to bed at a reasonable time.”

“Good night,” Carole said as they walked out of the room.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt was talking while pulling out his agenda and marking off what he had done already and stacking up the books he still needed to use to get the rest of the assignments done.

“I hate to ask you this, but would you consider doing the laundry while I keep working on this stuff? I wish I could just put it off, but next week is midterms and we’ll end up rehearsing for Regionals before and after school. And as far as I know, there is still a wedding to attend right after Regionals.”

Sebastian walked up behind him. “Of course. I need to do my stuff and I’ll do yours too. I didn’t end up doing mine at school this week because I was trying to not have any work this weekend just like you. So, I’ll just grab everything and go get it washing, except let’s shower first because I want us to get in our pajamas.”

“You drive a hard bargain,” he teased. “But I accept your terms.” Kurt started to undress.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sebastian kept quiet, did the laundry, put it away, packed their stuff for the weekend in his suitcase, and read a book while listening to music until Kurt got done at nearly 11:00.

“Finally,” Kurt said. “Let’s sleep as soon as I check the suitcase. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but if I have any part of my uniform wrong, Coach Sue will string me up.” He opened it up and looked through everything. “New shirt, track pants, correct socks, dance belt, shoes which I polished last night and should be okay.” He put everything back. “It’s perfect. Thank you.”

Sebastian smiled.

Kurt put the suitcase in his chair and pulled his letterman jacket out of the closet. He was glad that Sue had agreed to order him the male version of the jackets that the girls had. The lifters wore the same letterman jackets as the jocks. He knew the jocks wouldn’t take it well if he wore one like they wore, but he also didn’t want to wear a girl’s jacket.

His jacket had the Cheerios logo embroidered across the shoulder blade area on the back, in the same style as the hoods on the girls’ jackets with an additional layer of white edging to set it off. His had a regular collar like the jackets the jocks wore. The sleeves were red wool like the girls’ jackets, not white pleather like the jocks. It was also a slightly longer cut than the girls’ jackets.  

He put the jacket on top of the suitcase. He walked back toward the door and double-checked that it was locked. He took his pajamas off and laid them on the corner of the dresser and got in bed with Sebastian. “Can I lie on you?”

“Always.”

Kurt wrapped himself around Sebastian and they got comfortable. “Thank you for doing everything.”

“You’re welcome. I’m just glad you got all your schoolwork done so we can enjoy ourselves this weekend.”

“Me too. You did put pajamas in the suitcase somewhere, right?”

“Yes, as much as I prefer sleeping without them, I did pack a set for each of us.”

“Good.” Kurt yawned.

Sebastian pulled him closer even though he couldn’t get any closer.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They were outside putting the suitcase and Kurt’s letter jacket in the back of the Navigator when Nick and Jeff pulled up. They tossed a single small weekender into the back. Kurt closed the back and everyone climbed into the Navigator and put their seatbelts on. Kurt pulled out and they headed out of town.

Jeff was the first to speak. “Thanks for inviting us. We’ve never been to Indianapolis before. This will be a lot of fun.”

“I hope you’re not too bored at the cheerleading competition.”

“It can’t be boring with that much activity, I don’t think,” Nick said.

Sebastian looked back and waggled his eyebrows at the two of them. “And there’s always all the girls in short skirts to watch, right?”

Nick responded, “Right. Jeff and I want to tell you something. Remember when you asked us about our families and stuff.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, we didn’t lie to you. We just didn’t tell you the whole story about starting school at Dalton.”

“Alright.”

“Jeff and I are from Cleveland and our dads are in practice together. We’ve been friends our whole lives. We did go to a private middle school. The part we left out was that we also started at a private high school. He and I had been popular in middle school and had quite a few friends. We started high school with the same group of people we had been friends with, some for three years.”

Jeff continued, “We were young and had had the same group of friends for a long time, like Nick just said. Well, he and I didn’t think about how something small could change all of that in an instant. The first week of school, he and I were in one of the bathrooms together, in a stall together – kissing.”

Nick added, “We had been best friends for a long time. We started dating that summer between middle school and high school. Our parents knew and they were fine with it.”

“So, someone came in the bathroom as we came out of the stall together and saw us and spread it around the school. It took just one school day for pretty much everyone to find out. A lot of our friends were perfectly fine with it. Some of them had suspected, but since we hadn’t actually started dating in the 8th grade, no one had known for certain.”

“The next morning, we got passes summoning us to the office and when we got there, we saw that our parents had been called to the school. And for surgeons to show up when they were supposed to be operating on people or seeing patients, we knew something serious had happened,” Nick said.

“We went in and sat down and the principal read part of the school’s charter or code of behavior, or whatever it was, out loud to all of us. It turned out that since it was a Catholic private school, we were expelled for our lack of moral standards. Rather than our dads attempting to force them to change their policy, they opted to look for a new placement for us.”

“We all sat down together and talked. We knew the public school in the area wouldn’t be a good fit because we were already ahead academically from having attended the private middle school, where we took high school classes in 8th grade so that we could take AP classes by the time we were seniors. And along with not offering AP classes, our local public school wasn’t likely to be open-minded about us being together.”

“So in their search, our dads found Dalton and the No Bullying policy and enrolled both of us. They let us room together, which surprised both of us, but they felt bad for sending us away and wanted us to have each other and be happy.”

Kurt spoke up, “So you two have been dating for three and a half years?”

“And your families are okay with it?” Sebastian asked before anyone had had a chance to answer Kurt’s question.

Nick laughed and answered them both. “Yes to Kurt, and yes to Sebastian.”

“So, why tell us? Since you’ve obviously kept it on the DL for all these years,” Kurt asked.

“Well, because we’re tired of pretending and we honestly figured you two would be happy for us and we could be ourselves around you.”

“Well, that’s true of course. Since Dalton has a No Bullying policy, why do you keep it a secret?”

“I guess when we first arrived, we were both still sort of shell-shocked that some of our friends were very negative and unaccepting and had dropped us like hot coals,” Nick answered.

“We were new and didn’t know anyone. We were afraid that, even though no one could bully us, we’d be ostracized. We grew up pretty middle class, other than attending the private school. Neither of us lives in a mansion or anything like that. There were people with so much money and such high social standing, we decided to lay low. And I guess after a while, we just got used to being ‘Nick and Jeff who are best friends’ as our public presentations of ourselves.”

Kurt said, “I can understand that. Dalton is really not the place for non-conformists. They don’t allow bullying other than their own institutional control over the students dress and behavior, but I can totally understand the fear aspect. When I came to spy and then later enroll, it was pretty overwhelming.”

“For me too. I told you guys that I didn’t open up to anyone because I had nothing in my room. I’d hear people talking about flying to Florida for the weekend just because they wanted to get away for a couple of days. Or how they’d been at their grandparents’ cottage in Italy over the summer before going on a 3-week cruise. I felt like I was in some alternate universe. I’m still curious as to why you’re telling us now.”

“Well, part of it is that you trusted us with something and we think you’re trustworthy. The other part is that we we’re working on our ‘coming out’ plan. We’ve both decided that we are not going to go to college pretending to only be best friends. We’ve realized that high school and college are both transitional times. We moved from where we grew up to stay in the dorms all year. We’ll do the same for college. We’ll move to another town and live together, one way or another. But this time, the people we make friends with are more likely to be people we’ll keep in touch with. Not everyone, of course. But it’s more likely. We want to make friends with people who want to be friends with us as a couple.”

Kurt said, “That makes a lot of sense. How long have you known you were gay?”

“I’m not,” Nick said.

“I’ve known since I was young,” Jeff responded. “The fact that Nick liked girls kept me from telling him for a long time, even though we were best friends.”

“That’s part of why we didn’t say anything to you last year. Blaine told us what you said about bisexuality.”

“Oh, God. Not that again. He was being an ass to me. I say one thing I didn’t mean except as a way to poke at him and he tells everyone that I don’t think bisexuality exists. The first, and only, girl I dated is bisexual. Of course, I know bisexuality exists. I was just really pissed at Blaine. He had told me he was gay, and then he accepted a date with a girl who loves nothing more than to beat me at everything. She KNEW I liked him. I had told her just a few days before that I thought that Blaine and I had been dating for ages. He asked me what I thought about serenading someone on for Valentine’s Day and I thought he meant ME. I told him I thought it was romantic. Then he sprung the GAP Attack on us – one thing I am utterly ashamed for participating in. We all outed someone that day. Jeremiah got fired because of what we did.”

“No. What? You’re kidding right?” Jeff asked.

“Nope, not kidding at all. Blaine and I were outside when he came out. He told us that no one knew he was gay and that he had been fired. Nothing we could ever do could make up for doing that to him. We should have been expelled or at least suspended for participating in that travesty.”

“So, back to what you were saying,” Nick said. “Blaine knew that you liked him. This girl knew that you liked Blaine. And she asked him out on a date and he accepted? And you were a first hand witness to this?”

“Exactly. I asked him why he was leading her on. I mean, God, that is all he had done with me, wasn’t it? He took me out for coffee and paid most of the time. He sat with me, he put his hands on my shoulders, his arm around my shoulders, took me by the hand, and all that physical stuff that I completely thought meant that he liked me and that the coffee dates that we went on and watching movies in our rooms together and stuff were real dates. I thought he was going to make it officially official by singing to me on Valentine’s. But no, he sang to Jeremiah. Anyway, after that, I still was friends with him because I thought that once he got over Jeremiah, he might realize that we could be more than friends and to be honest, he was really my only friend at Dalton. Everyone kept their distance most of the time.”

“If it’s any consolation, we thought the two of you were dating as well,” Jeff said.

“We thought you had broken up when he presented the GAP Attack idea. Anyway, go on with your story. The GAP Attack happened and then the singing at Breadstix on Valentine’s Day. And then what?”

“I invited him to go with me to a New Directions party. We went. He got smashed. We played Spin the Bottle. His spin landed on a girl, who he kissed. And I mean really kissed, making out kissing.”

“Oh, wow,” Jeff said laughing.

“So, a couple of days later, we were at the Lima Bean getting coffee and she called and asked him out on a date. I got aggravated and told him it wasn’t nice to lead people on. He obviously still didn’t get that my jab was at how he had been treating me, which was leading me on for all that time. His retort was that he wasn’t leading her on and that maybe he was bi since he had enjoyed the kiss with her at the party. I got even more upset and told him that bi was just what gay high school boys who wanted to feel normal called themselves when they dated girls.”

“Ooh… not nice,” Nick said.

“I know. I shouldn’t have said it. But, God I was mad. This girl set herself up as my total rival at McKinley and she took everything from me every time. My first guy crush, which was never going to go anywhere because he was straight, but she intentionally went after him. She was either given or demanded every solo that I was suited for. And she knew, 100% knew, that I liked Blaine. And she invited him out on a date after he had friend-zoned me. When we met up at the Lima Bean the day after their date, I told her that I didn’t think it was going to end well. She actually said she didn’t care if I got hurt because she could end up with someone who could keep up with her vocally and give her slightly Eurasian looking children.”

“Wow,” Jeff said. “Burn.”

“So, anyway, I regret what I said about bisexuals. I don’t actually believe that they don’t exist. I think that some gay guys pretend to be bisexual to fit into high school because I tried dating girls. Me, who is absolutely 1000% gay – I dated a girl to try to fit in. Gay guys do it all the time. That didn’t give me the right to slander bisexuals as a group and say that their orientation is invalid in any way. It was a mean thing to say and I am sorry, for what it’s worth. My penance is that my stepbrother is marrying this harridan next weekend and she’s going to be my sister-in-law.”

“Oh, God that’s awful,” Nick said. “Look, I accept your apology. Being bisexual is hard because of the very thing you said. Society accepts straight people. Society sort of accepts gay people, at least more people are beginning to realize that being gay isn’t a choice. And when something isn’t a choice, other people are somewhat more accepting. This is a stupid example, but if someone is vegetarian or vegan, we consider that to be a choice. Those people get teased – ‘just try a hamburger, you’ll like it’ and what not. But if someone says, ‘I’m allergic to beef’ – no one bothers them much because they can’t eat it, but it’s not a choice they’re making. When a bisexual person chooses a same-sex partner, we’re looked at like we’re nuts. Why would we intentionally make our lives harder by choosing a same-sex partner? Gay guys think we’re shady because we could just drop them for a girl and fit in. Girls think they can’t offer us what we ‘really’ want. It would honestly be a lot easier to not be bisexual.”

“And I didn’t make that any easier. I’m really sorry.”

“I already said that I accept your apology. I understand that you were angry and for a good reason. Blaine was being a jerk. And he was even more of a jerk to repeat what you said with no context, making it seem like that was your absolute stance on the issue.”

“I hope there weren’t a lot of people around.”

“Honestly, I don’t remember. Just hearing that you believed that… Honestly, I should have gone to you and asked. So, that’s on me.”

“Well, me too, since I didn’t ask you either,” Jeff said. “But what you said hit home because that was my original reason for not telling Nick sooner. I knew he liked girls and I didn’t. I just didn’t know that he liked guys too. We both kept that from each other for a long time. Eventually he got up the nerve to tell me.”

“And then we both felt stupid for not sharing the information sooner. Our parents were fine with it when we started dating. Mine were a little more surprised since I had shown interest in girls for a long time.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on the gay partner of a bisexual. They get teased a lot and get told that they better be a really good bottom and good at blow jobs or their partners will leave them and go find a gorgeous girl to replace them. The whole ‘Why would he want you when he’s good looking and could find a gorgeous girl to date?’ – is hard to deal with. This isn’t from that much personal experience, but it is from some. We are more open on the internet where we can use fake names and hide behind the anonymity. I’ve talked to other gay partners of bisexual guys online and I know what I’ll be facing once we come out as a couple.”

“Trust me, it would be easier to just say that I’m gay since I’m with Jeff, but that would be lying and contributing to the ongoing myth that bisexuality isn’t real.”

“I get it. And I do understand. I still feel bad about what I said.”

“As long as that’s not what you really believe, it’s fine. We’ve all said stupid things when we were mad before. Trust me,” Nick said.

“Alright. Thanks.”

“So, tell us about the two of you. How did this start?” Jeff asked.

Sebastian started, “Well, he’s gorgeous of course and I’m not blind. He was with Blaine the day we met at the Lima Bean. But he broke up with Blaine just a couple of days later. He kept being nice to me and inviting me to his house and stuff. He was just being his regular, kind self. He kept teasing me that he knew that deep down I was a nice guy and he was going to wear me down and get the gruff exterior to fall off.”

Jeff laughed.

“I fell hard, but there were so many reasons why it was a bad idea. Plus, like I said, he had just broken up with Blaine. So, I just kept my feelings to myself and let him get closer to me, which was hard, but worth it.”

“So, who eventually asked who out?” Nick asked.

“Well, I did. I thought he was going back to Paris, so like him, I kept my feelings to myself and we were just friends for a long time. We got to know each other and like he said, he came to my house and spent time together as friends.”

“Eventually I told him about my father. I moved in with them right before Christmas. His dad and their attorney confronted my father soon afterwards. We were still just friends at that point, even though I really liked him.” Sebastian smiled. “I had a real home for the first time and it was all pretty overwhelming.”

“Then about five weeks ago, I found out that he was going to stay in Ohio and not go back to Paris at the end of May and I asked him if he’d be my boyfriend.”

“And I said yes, of course.”

“That’s really sweet,” Jeff said.

“What made you decide to stay?” Nick asked.

“Long before Kurt’s family took me in, I had applied for early admission at an Ohio college to see if I could get in and give myself more options. Going back to Paris was my default option. It wasn’t really an active choice I had made. I was just trying to make it through the school year and go back to the life I was familiar with that didn’t include my father in it. I got into the university and was offered a scholarship, which I accepted. I showed Kurt the letter. Later that night, I told him that I had decided to stay – then he asked me.”

“So, your coming out plan includes telling us. Then what?” Kurt asked.

“We’ve decided we’ll do the normal couple-y things at school. Just little things, like holding hands and sitting closer than we’ve allowed ourselves to sit. We’ll see how things go. There’s less than three months left of school.”

Sebastian changed the subject and asked, “What happens if we lose Regionals?”

Nick answered, “We’ll drop to meeting just once a week. We’ll sing at the end of the year concert and at graduation, but that will just be one new song to learn. We’ll sing the other six songs we’ve performed this year at the concert, intermixed with the orchestra and solo pieces from the orchestra members.”

Kurt spoke up. “If we lose, that’s it for the year. We used to perform at assemblies, but that hasn’t happened in a long time, mostly because of poor song choices by Mr. Schuester and by the group itself. We don’t have a concert at the end of the year and we’ve never sung at graduation, but I guess that’s a possibility since this is the first year that anyone in the group has graduated. There are…” Kurt paused to count. “Ten out of our core group of 15 are graduating. And one of the ones not graduating is an exchange student.”

“Wow. So, New Directions will have to build from scratch pretty much.”

“Yep. That’s what we did three years ago when we started. There were five of us to start with. Two freshman and three sophomores – it was me, Rachel, Artie, Mercedes, and Tina. But that’s a good point that you’ve brought up. I think I’ll point out the fact that Artie and Tina need to be featured at Nationals, if we make it. Rachel will demand the solo since she’s graduating, but with the group rebuilding, it’s unlikely that Tina or Artie will get a chance to go to Nationals next year. We’ll need a group number that features each person somehow.”

“That seems unusual.”

“That’s just because you all are used to being the vocal instruments. When all of your singers are singers, instead of trumpets or violins or drums, it makes sense to feature each person, at least briefly if they’ve been a part of the group for a long time.”

“I suppose so. You know the two of us tried all last year to get a lead, but it always went to Blaine.”

“Well, I’ve never heard the two of you sing together or individually since the auditions were always private. I think they were also a farce. No one ever got a solo except Blaine and I never saw him audition, but I guess he could have.”

“You sang with him,” Nick said.

“That was his idea. We’d have been better off singing ‘Animal’ than ‘Candles’. That was just a stupid choice.”

Jeff laughed. “It really was, but we were all to blame. We should have mutinied.”

“You didn’t seem to enjoy singing ‘Animal’,” Nick said.

“Yeah, but I would have gotten my act together and done a good job in competition. I just wasn’t in the mood. He took up study time to go show off for the Crawford County Day girls and then took pleasure in turning down the two of them that hung around to give him their numbers.”

Nick laughed. “So, he had flipped back to ‘I’m 100% gay’ after one date with a girl?”

“Yep. And then in a few days’ time, he told the council he wanted his solo changed to a duet and he chose me to sing with him and then kissed me and we started dating. It seems like it’s ‘share my bad life choices’ as our topic for today. My crush on a straight boy, inviting Blaine to a party where he got smashed and made out with a girl right in front of me, saying stupid things about bisexual people, me agreeing to date him after he had done all of those things. I should write a book about stupid things lonely gay boys do in rural America. Not that anyone would buy it, but I’ve got quite a bit of content for it.”

“Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself. Half the Warblers have had hard-ons for him and most of them aren’t even gay or bi,” Jeff laughed.

Nick agreed, “He’s right, Kurt. We all did absolutely stupid stuff when he was the lead singer. You’re right that we should have all been expelled or at least suspended for what we did to Jeremiah. We all stood and practiced that song. One of us should have come to our senses and realized that singing that song was completely inappropriate. If he wanted to serenade someone, he should have chosen an appropriate song and it should have been anonymous. The person being serenaded would know, but could remain in the crowd, just listening. Blaine followed him around the store.”

“What did you guys sing?” Sebastian asked.

“‘When I Get You Alone’,” Kurt answered.

“Oh, God. That song is not exactly PG.”

“Nope, and Blaine didn’t change the lyrics to make it PG either,” Jeff said.

“Obviously, no one at the school ever found out what we sang. We met there after school on our own. It wasn’t an official event,” Nick said.

“But we all showed up in our full uniforms. It’s not like someone couldn’t have identified us,” Kurt said.

“At least we don’t have to worry about him trying to get us to help him serenade anyone now,” Nick said.

“That’s true,” Jeff said.

“At least if what Aaron says is true,” Nick said.

“Who’s Aaron?” Sebastian asked.

“The person you were pretending to be last semester?” Jeff offered.

“What?”

“When you were acting like a player, like you were this super-experienced Parisian slut.”

“Oh, that.”

“Well, Aaron is the real thing. He said that Blaine has given up on his attempt to be anyone’s boyfriend and he’s gone back to just hooking up.”

“WHAT?” Kurt practically shouted.

“It’s what I heard Aaron saying,” Jeff said. “From what he said, he and Blaine have been friends with benefits for ages. I didn’t ask what that meant, but he certainly made it sound like it started long before last October when the two of you broke up. I don’t know, though.”

“New topic. I can’t deal with this one and drive safely.”

“Got it. So, we’re going to the Indiana State Museum today,” Nick changed the topic completely. “I saw on the website that they have a Foucault’s pendulum. I’ve never seen one and it sounds cool.”

Everyone talked about their upcoming museum visits for the rest of the drive.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“I like the underground parking with green space above it. Very nice,” Nick said when they drove down into the parking lot.

Kurt took the ticket from the machine and the arm went up. They found a spot close to the entrance and went inside. They got in line and got their tickets.

“Top down or bottom up?” Kurt asked.

“I don’t know. Let’s go look at a map,” Sebastian said. He took Kurt’s hand and walked to a bench to look at the map he was holding.

Nick saw Sebastian holding Kurt’s hand and reached over for Jeff’s. He startled a first, but then interlaced their fingers and sat down on the bench next to Sebastian.

“The longer we sit here, the less we see. Let’s just start at the top and look around,” Jeff said.

“Good plan,” Sebastian agreed.

The four of them stood up and looked around. Kurt spotted the sign that indicated the location of the elevator. He took off walking toward it, still holding Sebastian’s hand. Nick and Jeff followed along behind them.

Once they got out of the elevator, they just started looking around. Once they had finished looking at everything on the top floor, they walked down the stairs one level and started looking around again.

“The taxidermied animals are kind of creepy. It looks like what I’ve always imagined the forest would look like in Sleeping Beauty,” Kurt said.

“It kind of does, doesn’t it?” Nick said.

They kept looking around. “This room is cool,” Kurt said. “We see stuff like this on old TV shows and movies, but seeing it all in color in a room together in person is interesting.”

They made their way through the whole floor and went down to the next level. “Ooh, the dinosaurs and stuff are on this floor,” Jeff said.

The four of them made their way through the darkened ice age area and had fun playing with the seismograph by jumping up and down to cause mini earthquakes and watching them be recorded.

They wandered all through the rocks, minerals, and geodes area and finally made it to where they could see the pendulum knocking over the dominoes as it moved by an invisible force. Kurt bought a postcard in the museum store before they headed back upstairs to eat.

When they came out of the restaurant, Jeff point out an area they had missed. “There’s more stuff down there. Let’s go look before we leave.”

They visited the last section of the museum and then headed back to the main floor.

“Let’s go out the back door and see what’s out there,” Jeff pointed. “It’s like a regular entrance – there must be a reason.”

They went out the back and found a canal with wide sidewalks along each side.

“Ooh, that’s cool,” Kurt said. “It looks like you can walk along it and it connects to the other places we saw in the area. I bet you can walk to the zoo and stuff.”

“I bet there’s lots of cool stuff that goes on when it’s not so cold outside,” Jeff said.

“Yeah, when I was looking at the Native American museum next door, it mentioned that they have markets when it’s warm, with food and artwork and stuff,” Sebastian said.

“That would be cool,” Kurt said. “Let’s go back inside. I’m cold.”

They went back in, walked through the lobby, and out to the parking lot.

“I really need to change. There was a bathroom not too far inside. Come inside and let me get dressed in there instead of trying to do it in the Navigator.” Kurt grabbed his uniform and switched his coat.

They followed him inside and waited for him to change. He handed Sebastian his jacket on the way into the handicapped stall. He came out of the stall and Sebastian wolf whistled.

“I like the new shirt. It shows off your arms,” he smirked and winked at Kurt.

“Hush you.” He blushed. “The shirt wasn’t my idea.”

“I still like it. Excuse us for a minute.” He handed Kurt’s jacket to Jeff and he pushed Kurt back into the stall and kissed him. He opened the door up, led them out, and Jeff offered Kurt his coat.

Nick and Jeff were laughing. “Now I see why they make us all wear long sleeves. They don’t want those of us who like guys drooling during class,” Jeff said.

Kurt mock punched him in the upper arm. “Knock it off.”

“What?” Jeff asked.

“Don’t make fun of me.”

“Who’s making fun of anyone? I’m completely serious. If you went around school like that, you’d figure out who the guys that like guys are really quick.” Jeff laughed again.

“Whatever, you dork. Let’s go so I’m not late. My coach is not appreciative of tardiness.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

They made it to their seats and Kurt gave Sebastian a quick kiss and headed down to find the rest of the Cheerios.

“You two are cute together,” Jeff said.

“Thanks?”

“We’ve never seen him relaxed. He was always so proper.”

“He was trying to fit in. That’s what Blaine told him to do. He made it abundantly clear to Kurt that fitting in and being like everyone else was his key to being accepted at Dalton.”

“I see,” Jeff said.

“Not exactly the truth,” Nick added. “But I could see why Kurt would believe it. He was so far behind and the classes were so above where he was academically that he spent most of his time studying. I honestly don’t know how he did it. He came in the week before Sectionals and learned the music and the dances and he managed to learn a semester’s worth of material in like four or five weeks.”

“He’s smart,” Sebastian said. “Going back to McKinley was a step down for him academically. He’s not challenged. They just give him a bunch of stuff that takes time to do.”

“Yeah, I meant what I said at the table that night. If we had banded together, we could have kept him at Dalton. He would have been great to have on the council since he actually knows what it takes to win the competitions.”

“Well, I don’t know that he would have let you do it. He might have for the end of the spring term because transferring back just gave him a lot of work to do a second time since the material covered in the two schools isn’t the same. But I don’t think he would