This is an ACITW inspired ficlet that I wrote, written for the Hummel Holidays prompts 'Christmas' and 'New Years Eve'. Based off the head canon I had, and mentioned in the one-shot 'Under the Fireworks' that I wrote, that during the course of their relationship, they suffered several small break ups, and one big one. This happens during the big one. But it has a happy ending. :)
Warning for angst, sexual content (in later chapters), mention of Burt Hummel being in the hospital.
"So?" Kurt asks, watching Sebastian jump swiftly from one phone call to the next, trying to find somewhere, anywhere, for Kurt to get a decent bite to eat before Sebastian has to leave for Westerville.
"Not yet, babe," he says, Googling another location and dialing the number. "Give me a sec. I'm calling a different spot."
Kurt waits till Sebastian turns bodily away before he rolls his eyes, quietly mocking Sebastian's insistence on calling him babe. They've been broken up for a couple of months now, and this time, this time, Kurt knows it's probably for good.
Just like he knew the last three times.
But that isn't the point. They're no longer together, so intimate, familiar things like pet names should be relegated to the past. They just make things too…comfortable, and confusing.
So should sharing clothes, Kurt realizes as he sticks his hands into the pockets of the sweatshirt he's currently wearing, but to be fair, Kurt has borrowed and re-borrowed Sebastian's Dalton hoodie so many times that technically it belongs to him now, so there's no reason for him to give it up.
It's not that they stopped loving each. Even now, all Kurt wants to do is climb into Sebastian's lap, let Sebastian wrap him in his arms, and get lost there. Just curl up and disappear. No matter what happens between them, no matter where he goes, Sebastian will always be his safe place, his shelter from the storm – like Kurt's father's house in Lima, Manhattan in the winter, or the Smythe's North Carolina beach house over the summer. But there's a distance between them, a cavern that Kurt's finding difficult to cross, even if for only the sake of them being friends. Good friends. Maybe friends with benefits, when that low humming undercurrent of romantic attachment finally bleeds completely away, because the physical attraction, the fire that ignites whenever they touch – that will always be there.
It would be a shame of epic proportions to let that go to waste.
Kurt thinks about doing it, standing up from the sofa, crossing the living room four or five short steps, and folding himself into Sebastian's embrace. But Kurt doesn't want to further complicate the already convoluted emotions between them that he's having a hard time sorting through, categorizing, sticking into individual holes so that he knows exactly what to do and feel in any given situation. His feelings towards Sebastian have always been a mixed bag, a mad jumble. Looking back on their relationship from high school till now, he realizes that, for all of Sebastian's kvetching that he didn't do boyfriends, they didn't actually do friendship. They went from mortal enemies to fake boyfriends to pretty much insanely in love without friendship entering into the equation as an autonomous entity. And not that they weren't friends while they were lovers, but that in between lull period where the two of them could just appreciate being there for one another on a platonic level…that lull never existed for them. It's been trying to grow and develop itself since, but too many things tend to get in the way.
But, to their benefit, neither of them lied, and neither of them cheated. They even stayed faithful to the relationship they had while they were apart, neither one immediately running into anyone else's arms for the duration of the break. Maybe it's because they're older, more mature about things like that since they've shed the shells of their Dalton and McKinley selves. Kurt, who always assumed the first thing Sebastian would do is throw himself into another guy's bed every time they had a break up, actually came the closest to hooking up with an anonymous someone else. Kurt met him at Callbacks. His name was Simon…or something. He was drinking a whiskey sour and reading a Playbill for Hamilton. Kurt asked him about the musical (since he'd been trying to get tickets, which had become a nearly impossible feat) and they seemed to hit it off. But when Kurt looked into the man's face, listened to him talk, forced himself to laugh at jokes that weren't remotely funny (some of them even a touch sexist), all Kurt could think of was how much this man wasn't Sebastian, wasn't even a distant, fading shadow of his roguishly handsome, intelligent, witty ex. The man putting his hand on Kurt's immediately destroyed the deal, and Kurt didn't even bother to make an excuse when he stood from his chair and bolted for the door.
Some days, Kurt just couldn't understand how they ever saw eye to eye. They had phenomenal arguments over the stupidest, pettiest things, which they used to simply blow off the morning after since those arguments acted as fuel for equally phenomenal sex. But Sebastian was under tremendous stress at school and so was Kurt – juggling a full course load plus working two jobs. They didn't see one another as often as they wanted, and Sebastian started to blame Kurt, claiming that Kurt was working two jobs as a means to avoid seeing him (since Kurt was adamantly opposed to Sebastian's heinous solution, in Kurt's eyes, of lending Kurt the money he needed when he needed it, with no distinct want of Kurt paying it back). Of course, the situation would have probably been made better had Kurt moved in with Sebastian. He was over at Sebastian's most nights anyway, and they had been dating long enough for moving in to be a feasible next step. Sebastian had never mentioned them moving in together, so Kurt assumed that Sebastian didn't want to.
In retrospect, Kurt should have just owned up and asked him.
But regardless of whether Sebastian's hanging on tooth and nail to the pet name part of their relationship bugs Kurt or not (which Kurt hates to admit, it really doesn't) Kurt's not going to make an issue over it, especially when Sebastian sort of ran to Kurt's rescue. Of all the people in the world, all the friends he has who have forever told him, "Call me anytime, whenever you need, and I'll be there," Sebastian's the only one who made good on that promise. He not only showed up, he flew in from New York a day early. He wasn't planning to arrive in Ohio to visit his folks until the day after Christmas. The head of his department at NYU had invited Sebastian and four other deserving, hardworking students (of exceptional breeding) to a gala party in the city on Christmas Day. It was apparently a huge deal. Everyone one from the Mayor of New York to George Clooney was expected to make an appearance, plus, it was being televised – the cliché performance of the elite rubbing their unattainable splendor in the faces of masses.
Regardless, it was touted as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Kurt's father's sudden and unexpected second heart attack put a damper on those plans. But Kurt didn't find out that Sebastian had canceled on something as humongous as that till he showed up on Kurt's doorstep, and half an hour later, the department head called Sebastian's cell phone to find out where he was.
"Thanks anyway." Sebastian sighs. Another hang up. Another call.
"Any luck?" Kurt asks, but he already knows Sebastian's striking out. It's not too difficult to tell the outcome of the conversations Sebastian's been having from his end of the call.
"Nope," Sebastian says. "But I'm not giving up yet."
"Dammit," Kurt curses, kicking the sofa with the heel of his boot. The loud, dull clud draws Sebastian's eyes to an empty seat, and Kurt expects Sebastian to sit beside him. They lock eyes for a second, and Sebastian takes a step, but he turns it into a smooth quarter turn and starts pacing the living room.
"Yeah, I think the only places open today are the Waffle House, and that McDonald's off the Interstate," Sebastian says, hanging up from another endless ring.
"What? Do we not have any Jewish people in this town? Maybe some atheists? Or just some lazy ass jerks who don't do the Christmas thing? There isn't a single restaurant open on Christmas?" Kurt complains, determined to not let a silence fall between them. Unexpected things happen to them within tension-filled silences. That's how they got back together from their last breakup. It was almost too predictable.
"Well, people usually eat at home on Christmas," Sebastian says with unnecessary emphasis, seeing as, for all intents and purposes, they're at Kurt's home. The place he called home throughout all of high school. A place that hasn't really felt like home for a while. It's just a place that he visits – a safe place where he keeps his dreams, his memories, but most importantly, his father. "Plus, we're usually snowed in in Ohio. I think a lot of places learned long ago that it isn't fiscally practical to keep their doors open from December 15th to around Easter."
"Ah, yes," Kurt says, adopting a wide-eyed look of nostalgia and gazing off towards the ceiling. "I do have fond memories of freezing my ass off in the snow, hunting down eggs that had been frozen solid to the grass." Kurt sighs dramatically and bats his eyelashes. "Oh, joy."
"You know, you could come with me to my folk's," Sebastian offers, changing direction to look at the photographs on the walls. The pictures have changed since the last time he was there. There are still plenty of pictures of him, Sebastian notices, and that makes him smile. He didn't just fall in love with Kurt. He fell in love with Kurt's family. If he had suddenly disappeared from this wall of photographs, he would have been devastated. He talks to Kurt through the reflection of the glass frames, younger versions of themselves watching this solemn conversation take place, since it's easier to make this suggestion in a roundabout way than directly. It maintains an air of blasé between them, as if the offer's there simply because it wouldn't put Sebastian out much. "I know Westerville's a drive and you want to be close…just in case. But they miss you. I know they'd love to see you. You're all Liv talks about, and Julian…well, I have to warn you - Julian's going to try to talk you into a three-way with him and Cooper."
"Really?" Kurt chuckles. Sebastian shoots him a frown. "Last time, wasn't it a foursome? How did you get demoted?"
"Yeah, well he said that if I'm going to keep making you break up with me, then I can hold the camera," Sebastian grumbles.
"Well, then he's obviously never seen any of our sex tapes," Kurt kids. "The cinematography on those is terrible."
"Don't blame me," Sebastian says, eyes darting uncomfortably away from this particular conversation. "Blame the tripod and your pale, camera-hogging ass."
"Nice," Kurt says, that one word wrapping up the discussion succinctly.
"But, really," Sebastian says, turning to face him. "You should."
"Do you mean to tell me that you're encouraging me to have a threesome with your brother and his boyfriend?"
"No," Sebastian scowls, recalling how far Julian got last time in convincing Kurt (he always did say that spite is a powerful motivator), "I'm encouraging you to come to my parent's house, where people love you and want to see you." He shrugs. "Who knows? Maybe it'll take your mind off things for a while."
Kurt's teasing smile fades, falling from his face with a long, shuddering sigh. "I know I should go with you, Bas," Kurt admits. "I know that it's the best thing, to be around people who care about me - really I do. And I want to go. It's just" – Kurt glances up, then around, avoiding Sebastian's soft green eyes, trying his best not to cry again, the way he had for the past five hours – "if I'm not here, right here, and something happens to my dad…if he…and I don't get to say goodbye, I…" His mouth moves around air, words there on his lips that refuse to be spoken. He can't say them out loud. He can't jinx the precious tiny bit of luck he'd been afforded – that Carole had been sitting right next to his father on the sofa, watching a rerun of the Macy's Christmas Day Parade, when he suffered his heart attack, instead of across town volunteering at the soup kitchen, where she had originally planned on being, the way she does every year. She hated seeming like a Scrooge, especially because this year they were significantly short-handed, but she was just too tired. Her being a selfish hag as she put it, laughing through tears of relief when her stepson arrived, had saved Burt Hummel's life. "But you know, you should go," Kurt decides, adding a nod for emphasis, to prove that he's fine with this decision because there's nothing more Sebastian can do for him here. "I know you miss your folks, and they miss you. You don't have to stay here with me. I've taken up enough of your holiday already."
"Kurt…" Sebastian prepares to argue, but an exhausted Kurt shakes his heavy head.
"Your parents have already texted you six times wondering when your flight's coming in," Kurt counters. "You're already lying to them for me."
"Meh," Sebastian says, waving Kurt's concern away, "it's not like we haven't lied to them about bigger things."
Kurt catches the reference and chuckles once. "Yeah, but I promised myself I'd never lie to them again."
"Yeah, well, I made no such promise."
Kurt rolls his eyes. "Still, you shouldn't put them off any longer."
Sebastian pinches his lips into a tense line, stifling his immediate instinct to argue further. Kurt's being stubborn, the way he's always so damned stubborn, but even if Sebastian's right about this, and he knows he is, this is not the time.
Not when Kurt's father can't be here to back his son up.
It's a testament to how long Sebastian's known Kurt that he knows when to quit, something he's never been able (or willing, frankly) to do with any other human being in his life. Kurt can be so thick-headed when he has himself convinced that he's working in someone else's best interests. Sebastian's not going to win this argument, not this way.
"Are you sure you're going to be okay?"
"Yeah," Kurt says, wishing that, despite what he's saying, this would end like in the old days, when Sebastian would come in uninvited, plant his ass on the sofa, and stay, even when everyone in the room made it more than clear that they would rather he leave. "I'll just watch some TV, wait for Carole to call, try to get some z's. It'll be good. I'll be good. I promise."
Sebastian leans down, his steps and his body stuttering along the way, unsure what the protocol is for exes who are still completely in love consoling one another in the face of family tragedy, subsection: national holiday. But, in the end, he kneels at Kurt's feet and takes him in his arms, holding him tight, determined to hold him for his own good whether Kurt wants him to or not.
And Kurt wants him to.
Kurt only lets go first because he knows if he doesn't, he won't.
"Okay," Sebastian says, rising to his feet and walking backward toward the door, "I'm gonna go" – he motions behind him in case it isn't obvious – "but I have my phone on me, so if you need anything…anything at all, I'll be here."
"I know," Kurt says with a simple smile.
Sebastian takes a step. "Remember, my folks aren't expecting me till tomorrow."
"I know, Bas."
Sebastian takes another step. "I can totally stay here with you."
"I know that, too."
Another step. "Kurt, I…"
"Go, Sebastian," Kurt laughs. "I'm a big boy. I'll be alright."
"Alright," Sebastian says quietly, the word hanging between them while Sebastian waits for answers to unasked questions. "Alright." He backs out the door, steps into the cold and dark with a bowed head "Goodbye," and he's gone.
Kurt sits on the sofa and waits, listening to Sebastian's Mustang pull away from the curb and speed into the distance, trying to make up for lost time. In Kurt's heart, he prays for Sebastian's safety, even though he's sure no one's going to hear. If someone was fucking up there, then his dad wouldn't be in the ICU on Christmas. But maybe Sebastian will just know. He'll let up on the gas, remembering that somebody loves him, several somebodies actually, and that they all want to see him come home safely.
Like Kurt hopes Sebastian will come back to him safely – even if they're destined to only be friends.
Which is part of the reason why he waits so long, sitting on the sofa, holding a breath, then another, hoping to hear the sound of Sebastian's engine turn the corner and come back down the street.
But he can't pin his hopes on a prayer that has no chance of being answered, by Sebastian, or God, or anyone. Just like everything else he's left in the past, he has to learn when it's time to keep them there.
He has to learn how to let go.
Kurt stands, cursing stiff limbs - caused by his inability to remember to switch the house heater on amid the chaos of calling his friends and family to tell them the news, and the hospital to check in on his dad's condition - to the lock the door, but as he gets to it, puts his hand on the deadbolt, the knob turns and the door flies open. Kurt stumbles back a foot, leaping a final step to keep from getting smacked in the face like Wile E. Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon.
"Hey!" Kurt screeches. "Watch it!"
"Uh…sorry about that." Sebastian pokes his head over the threshold, his body following awkwardly, as if acknowledging that he should wait for Kurt's permission. But he knows in his heart that he'll always be welcome in the Hummel household. This cozy little single family house, which looks so much smaller now than he once remembered it, and much less steeped in the saga of KurtandBlaine but drenched in the story that was Sebastian's assimilation into the Hummel family, will always be home, one way or another, as long as Kurt belongs to it.
"You know, uh…I was at the stop sign just now and I happened to look on Yelp," Sebastian says before Kurt even utters a hello. "And it says here" – he holds up his phone with the Yelp screen visible – "that the food in the cafeteria at Lima Memorial Hospital is really…edible."
Kurt's lips quirk at the right corner, seemingly on their own since the humor hasn't returned at all to his tired and anxious expression.
"Really?" Kurt says, brushing himself off and straightening himself up, going along with his ex-boyfriend's fumbling attempt at chivalry.
"Yeah," Sebastian says, knowing that Kurt's only humoring him. "So I was thinking, maybe, you know, we go down there and grab something hot and remotely ingestible. My treat."
"And what about your family?" Kurt asks. "Aren't they going to be missing you?"
Kurt appreciates Sebastian coming back, probably more than he'll ever find words to explain. He wants Sebastian to stay with him, sit beside him at his father's bedside and hold his hand, help keep him strong, keep his sanity contained in one place, hold him through the night while he attempts to catch a few hours' sleep. But he shouldn't want those things if it means depriving the Smythes of their son…even though Charlotte and Gregory would definitely understand.
In fact, Kurt knows that if Sebastian calls his parents now and tells them that Burt Hummel has been admitted to the ICU, they would drive down to Lima as fast as Gregory's Aston Martin can carry them. Kurt's half-tempted to ask. It would be a tremendous comfort to see them at a time like this, even at the risk of Julian and Cooper hitching a ride on the invitation. But Kurt sees no reason to ruin Christmas for all of the Smythes at once. They'll find out about his father soon enough.
Sebastian glances away when he answers, using grabbing Kurt's coat off the tree by the door as a way to cover up his hurried mumble of a reply. Kurt hears a thing or two about family…he thinks, but not the sentence as a whole, so what he does hear has no meaning.
"I'm sorry," Kurt says, letting Sebastian help him put on his coat and button it, hoping to catch the rest of the words when they stumble over Sebastian's lips a second time around. "What was that?"
They step out onto the porch, and Sebastian shoves his hands in his pockets so hard that Kurt expects to see them break through his jeans. Dropping his head back on his shoulders, he heaves a heavy sigh, and an oddly perfect white cloud of heat floats from his lips, into the sky.
"I said you're my family, too, alright?" Sebastian groans, glaring at the stars as they start down the walkway so he doesn't have to see whatever smug expression Kurt has come up with. "I mean, I know we're not together, but I want to be here for you. So" – Sebastian shrugs – "here I am. For you. And as insufferable as you are, as annoying as you can be every single second of every day" – Sebastian brings his gaze back down to the level of Kurt's eyes – "it's pretty much the only place I want to be."
Kurt can't help his lips parting, his jaw dropping an inch before he realizes and catches it. But the mad, sick, sentimental thrumming of his heart? That he can't stop.
He doesn't want it to.
"Thank you…I think," Kurt says in place of a socially expected (considering the circumstances), heartfelt sentiment of thanks, because they wouldn't be KurtandSebastian, together or apart, if he did.
"You know what?" Kurt says, taking Sebastian's arm the moment he offers it. "I'm suddenly really in the mood for a dry, three-day-old turkey sandwich wrapped in cellophane."
"Well, I heard they have white bread soaked in bacon grease," Sebastian remarks, walking a pace slower toward his Mustang than usual, a hand cradling Kurt's where it rests on his bicep.
"Yum," Kurt says, gagging alongside a laugh. "The pinnacle of Ohio cuisine."