A/N: A million trillion bajillion thanks to bleviee for saving the day and providing a super last-minute beta. Any and all mistakes are mine. I am planning to have two more chapters of this story.
The next day Mom has another lengthy planning meeting for the charity auction. I wander around the house aimlessly for a few hours, texting with Kurt between his repairs at the shop. Mike calls and we chat for a while, catching up on the past few days. I admit to him that I visited Sebastian in the hospital, and he doesn't judge me, which I appreciate. After we hang up, I try without success to get some sleep. Finally, boredom takes over and I dial the number for the cab company again.
The hospital is all decked out for Christmas, with festive ribbon wreaths on the doors and a big artificial tree in the lobby. I stop to admire the colored glass baubles, taking a few photos with my cell phone before taking the elevator to the fourth floor. There's another tree up here, this one decorated with pretty icicle ornaments. I snap a couple more photos before I see a large blond boy approaching me.
"Can't use your cell on this floor," Lawrence reminds me, and I turn my phone off. "Didn't think I'd see you back here again so soon."
"Nothing to do at home. Are you leaving?"
"Just for a little while, I've got a family thing my mom wouldn't let me miss. I'll come back later. But, uh, before I go..." He reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small envelope. "The EMTs put Sebastian's clothes and personal effects in a stack in his room. I pulled this out, figured I should give it back to you."
I open the envelope, tilting it and sliding my promise ring and chain into my palm. Just holding the ring again makes me feel steadier. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it," he says, then heads for the elevators.
I walk down to Sebastian's room, and peer in to find he's fast asleep. I sit outside the room for a couple of hours, fiddling with broken link on the chain necklace and listening to the rhythmic beeps of Sebastian's heart monitor. Eventually I'm able to repair the chain and slip it over my head again, the ring resting securely against my heart.
I head down to the cafeteria around two o'clock to buy a cup of strong coffee. The nightmares are still keeping me from sleeping, and caffeine helps with the fatigue. I buy a sandwich too, eating it slowly and watching as a group of high schoolers sings Christmas carols to the room.
High school feels like another lifetime ago. I'm only a year older than these kids, and I feel like an adult compared to them. After a while, I give up on the sandwich and head back to the ICU.
There's an older man sitting in the chair outside of Sebastian's room. He looks exhausted, and I'm pretty sure he's been crying. A knot of tension starts to relax in my back — I'd been hoping Sebastian's parents would change their minds and come back from Rome early after all.
"Hi," I say softly, not wanting to startle him. "I'm Blaine."
He looks up at me, takes in my sling and bruised face, and his expression crumples. "Oh god. Look at you."
"You're his dad?"
The man nods, taking out a handkerchief and pressing it against his eyes.
I wait until he's composed himself before I turn and look into Sebastian's room. "Has he woken up at all?"
"Twice. Just for a few minutes the first time, a little longer the second. But he knew where he was, who he was. All good signs. Not like last..." He trails off, looking mortified at himself.
"It's okay. I don't even remember waking up from my coma."
"From what I hear, there's a lot you don't remember."
I shrug, then gesture to the chair beside him. He nods quickly, and I sit down, careful not to jostle my sling. "Lost about sixteen months' worth of memories, and then spent several more months after that in a coma. I'm glad Sebastian won't have to go through all that."
He shakes his head, folding and refolding the handkerchief with trembling hands. "Blaine, I hope you know how sorry I am about all this."
"You? Why? It's not your fault."
"My son's behavior—"
"Your son isn't a bad guy," I tell him firmly, and he swallows a muffled sob. "I mean, he has some impulse control problems, don't get me wrong. But maybe now that you're back from Rome, he can really get some—"
"Rome? I wasn't in Rome." He blinks at me.
"But Lawrence said you were."
"No, that's..." His face falls. "You think I'm Sebastian's dad."
I can feel my heartbeat quicken. "You're not?"
"No," he says quietly. "No, my name's Henry Adams."
"You're Morgan's father." My breaths are coming faster now. "Your son did this to us."
"And you let me talk about impulse control problems?"
My voice echoes loudly down the hallway, making him look around uncomfortably. "I'm sorry. I did try reaching out to you. And to your boyfriend."
"You stay away from him," I say, standing up too fast, making my head hurt. "Stay away from both of us."
He raises both hands placatingly. "I didn't mean to upset you."
"You can't buy our silence. The evidence is all there, and we're not going to lie on the stand about it. Your son almost killed me — twice —"
"I don't expect either of you to lie about it in court. That's not what this is about."
"What, then? What do you want?"
He pauses. "Can we go somewhere else to talk about this?"
"No," I say, moving to sit down in a chair across the hall from him. "I've been alone in a room with your son, and we can both see how that worked out for me."
"I..." He looks around again, then leans forward, still speaking softly. "I have a lawyer on retainer, and he called me after looking at the police report. He told me he could get Morgan off on all charges."
"Bullshit," I spit out.
"He's a good lawyer. A very good lawyer, but... not a very good man, as it turns out." He shakes his head. "He started talking about Lima, and how the average citizen there is pretty conservative, and how they probably would think someone who beat up a couple of gay kids was a hero."
I swallow hard, trying to keep the rising nausea at bay. "What's your point?"
"My point is that I fired him." His eyes look at me pleadingly. "I fired him, but he's right."
"That your kid's a hero?"
"That you won't get restitution for what happened to you. Not in a court in this neck of the woods. One juror might be swayed, but put twelve conservative folks from Lima together, and the pack mentality will come out."
"So Morgan's going to walk, is what you're saying."
"Morgan's going to plead guilty." He waits a moment while I struggle to get my breathing under control. "We all talked about it as a family. He understands that what he did was wrong, and he's going to take responsibility for it."
It's more than I could have hoped for — our attacker behind bars, without Kurt or I ever having to take the witness stand. "So what do you want from me, then?"
"When I was talking with my lawyer — back when he was my lawyer — he said something about a civil trial. About how if you and Kurt were to sue my family, you'd be laughed out of the courtroom. And I think he's right about that too."
"You know he came out to us when he was already at Dalton," he says suddenly. "Morgan, I mean. His sophomore year. He'd already known he was gay for a while, I guess, but he'd never said anything, and my wife and I had never suspected. He was... he was such a boy, you know? A star athlete in lacrosse, loved watching Buckeyes games with me... it just never occurred to us. So when he told us, we were stunned. We didn't know what to say. I'm not homophobic, I'm not, I just didn't know how to respond. Finally my wife asked him if he was dating anyone at Dalton. He told us he was seeing Sebastian. And I said, 'Oh, well, as long as it's Sebastian.'" He stops, shaking his head. "I meant that I was glad it was someone we knew, someone we could trust not to hurt him. I didn't mean..."
"That he could only date a boy if it was Sebastian. Which is how he took it. He said he thought Sebastian was the only person that we would approve of."
I remember, suddenly, Morgan's shout to Lawrence in Rob's apartment — Sebastian was my only option. "I still don't see what that has to do with me."
"My son is responsible for what he did to you, and he will accept that responsibility. But I'm not without fault in this, Blaine." He clear his throat. "I'm prepared to offer you a sizable sum of money, in lieu of a civil trial, if you agree in writing that you won't sue my family or speak about this to anyone in the media."
I let out a slow breath. "The media. So that's what this is really about."
"You'd agree to keep this quiet—"
"I really believed you for a minute there. That whole thing about feeling responsible—"
"I do feel responsible—"
"As long as it stays behind closed doors," I finish for him. "As long as no one else finds out."
He clears his throat. "I won't deny that the timing is particularly bad. I'm in the midst of negotiating a new contract at CNN, and the bad publicity could really do a number on my career." He opens his palms. "I have to think about my family."
"You're a billionaire."
"Close enough. Your deal at CNN wouldn't make a dent in your fortune."
"Man is more than his fortune, Blaine. I have my own reputation to worry about."
"Did Morgan even want to plead guilty?" I demand. "Or did you manipulate him into it?"
"Morgan understands the impact of his actions. On you, and on his family." He watches me closely. "I'd cover all of your medical bills, therapy, everything. Plus an additional cash settlement for your trouble."
"You've got to be kidding."
"I'm very serious."
"Perhaps that wasn't the best—"
"So tell me, then, how do you come up with a number? What's the going rate these days? Is it a certain amount for every week I was in a coma, or is there a flat rate?"
He rubs his forehead slowly, not saying anything for a long time. Finally he says quietly, "The standard award is $1,000 per day for coma victims."
"There's a standard award?" I ask, flabbergasted.
"That works out to roughly $120,000 for coma restitution—"
"You think you can put a dollar value on what I went through? On what my family went through?" I'm starting to yell, now. "How much, then? All together?"
He shifts, looking uncomfortable. "I'm prepared to offer you half a million dollars."
"Shove it up your ass," I spit out.
"Blaine, be reasonable, that's—"
"What's the breakdown on that? How much for every month he wiped from my memory?"
"Do you have any idea how insulting this is?"
He rubs his palms on his knees. "Look, I'll... I'll go to $700,000."
"I'll tell you what you can do with your—"
The sudden outburst makes us both turn in surprise to see Kurt sprinting down the hallway toward us. I've barely stood up from my chair when he reaches me, throwing his arms around me and clutching me tightly. "Kurt? What's wrong? Are you all right?"
"I couldn't reach you," he gasps, pulling me closer. "Your cell was turned off, and you weren't at home, and your mom and dad didn't know where you were, and your car was still in your driveway and I thought he must have found a way to come after you, to finish what he started—"
"Oh sweetheart." I rub his back with one arm, ignoring how the tight embrace makes my shoulder ache. "I'm so sorry I made you worry. I should have told you I had to turn off my cell. I wasn't thinking." He's still trembling, and I press a kiss to his temple. "How did you even know to look here?"
"Mike," he murmurs. "Mike had a hunch."
We stand holding each other, rocking back and forth until he grows calmer. Then he pulls away suddenly. "Oh god, I've got to call my dad. He was so worried too, he's been calling all the local police departments to see if they knew anything. He turned away two customers because he wouldn't get off the phone to talk to them."
Guilt wraps around my spine, creeping and hot. Burt can't afford to be turning away business, and it's all because of me and my thoughtlessness. "Kurt, I'm so sorry—"
"It's okay. You're okay, it's okay." He gives me another fierce hug. "I'll be right back, I can't call him on this floor. You'll be here?"
"I'll be here."
I watch as he hurries back down the hall. It's only when he disappears through the double doors that I remember that Morgan's dad is here, too. I turn to look at him, and find that he was watching Kurt too. He has the strangest look on his face. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was shame.
"A million apiece," he says. "All of the bills both of your families incurred, plus a million for each of you." He must see something shift in my expression, because he adds, "A million for each family, too."
I drop back into the chair, my mind racing. A million dollars. A million for Kurt, a million for his parents. All of the Hummels' financial problems would be solved. Burt could afford to hire more employees again and cut back on his own hours. Carole could quit her second job. They could move back into a nicer neighborhood. Finn could get his college fund back, and Kurt...
I take a shaky breath. This money could change everything for Kurt. He could go to college, pursue his dreams. Leave Ohio, if that's what he wants, and know that his family would be fine in his absence.
"I'll talk to him," I say finally. Mr. Adams nods, and I set off down the hallway after Kurt.
"So let me get this straight," Burt says slowly. "This guy's son beat the crap out of you two, and he wants to pay us off to keep it quiet?"
We're all sitting in the Hummels' living room, my family and Kurt's, and there's no small amount of tension in the room.
My dad sighs. "I'm not surprised, to be honest. When I heard whose son it was, I wondered if he'd try this."
"We don't have to take it, do we?" Mom asks. "Can't we sue them anyway?"
Burt looks over at Carole, then clears his throat. "I, ah. I'm not in the financial position to pay for a lawyer right now, Cecelia."
"Money's not a problem, we can pay for the lawyer," Dad says. "But he may be right in saying that we wouldn't get a fair trial for the boys here."
"What would the point of a trial be, anyway?" Finn speaks up, and we look at him quizzically. "I mean, Blaine said Mr. Adams offered him some money already. So is the trial to get more money out of him? Or to make everything public?"
I look over at Kurt, who's sitting on the floor, staring at his lap. He hasn't said a word.
"Because the thing is," Finn continues, "the trial wouldn't be about a homophobic attack. It would be about a bunch of gay guys in a love triangle. And that's how it would look in the news. They'd spin it so that everyone involved looked like the bad guy. You know?"
There's a long silence.
"I guess we should know how much he's offering," Dad says.
"He says he'll pay off all of our medical and psychiatric bills. Plus a million dollars each to me, Kurt, and our families."
Carole lets out a squeak and clutches Burt's arm as Finn swears under his breath. My parents are more subdued in their reactions; they just raise their eyebrows slightly. But it's Kurt who I watch closely, anxious to see his reaction.
"Do you even want that guy's money, though?" Finn asks me. "You were the one who lost the most from all this, Blaine. What do you want to do?"
Kurt finally looks up at me, his eyes wide and pained, and he doesn't have to say a word.
"I want to take the deal," I say, and his shoulders slump with relief.