title: Keep It Between Friends
pairing/characters: Sebastian+Blaine (mentioned Kurt/Blaine)
warnings: Non-explicit discussions of suicide and events of 3x14.
summary: There is something inherently wrong with the sight of Blaine Anderson sitting at a table near the window by himself, just an hour after it was announced that his team would be going to Nationals.
notes: This was basically my way of coping with the obnoxious amount of feelings that 3x14 gave me.
Sebastian's been trying to drown it out all week.
It's when it all goes quiet that it gets to him, that constant whisper of guilt that's been lurking in the back of his mind all week, ever since he found out. When the roar of the crowd has long since faded from his ears, after the rest of the Warblers have departed and the press of Blaine's palm against his has faded to something that itches beneath his skin, when there's nothing at all except an empty auditorium and a second place finish left to distract him from his own thoughts and he's forced to accept just how terribly fucked up this all is.
He thinks that all he really needs is coffee to bolster him through this temporary disappointment, to replace the high of the stage with something equally as artificial, but the Lima Bean is all but deserted when he walks in and the quiet closes in around him. The sound system dialled to barely a whisper in the background of the hiss of the espresso machine and the clink of cups and plates out the back somewhere.
His order is made without fuss if he doesn't count the barista's raised eyebrows (as if asking for a double shot of espresso to be added to his order was really worth that amount of attitude) or the way she scowls when he leans against the counter to wait for his drink. He focuses instead on the competition and where they could possibly have gone wrong, remembering the frankly surreal experience that was Blaine Anderson tackling Nicki Minaj (which he's pretty sure ranks very high on the list of things he never expected to see and, if he's being honest, the New Directions probably deserved points for style for the concept alone.)
He's reconsidering the aesthetics of the absurdly form fitting costumes the male members of The New Directions had been squeezed into compared to the bulk and constricting nature of the Dalton uniform when he realizes he's been staring at the same person, sitting alone at a table near the window, for the past few minutes.
The same, all too familiar person, now that he thinks about it.
To say he didn't expect to see him here is an understatement. By all rights, Blaine should be off celebrating the New Directions' victory, all but surgically attached to Hummel's side and babbling out plans for Nationals or obsessively reviewing what he could have done better (much, Sebastian thinks, like he's been doing since he waved goodbye to the last of the other Warblers.) Blaine should be surrounded by a crowd of triumphant faces. He should, at the very least, be smiling.
There is something inherently wrong with the sight of Blaine Anderson sitting at a table near the window by himself, staring blankly down into some nightmare concoction that appears to be at least 70% whipped cream and syrup, just an hour after it was announced that his team would be going to Nationals.
Sebastian hesitates, reaching to take his coffee as the barista hands it over, his eyes fixed on Blaine's profile, where it's half-turned towards the window.
It's been a long day already, the high of the competition having long since sunk into something disappointed and a little bitter inside of him. Sebastian doubts Blaine would even notice if he walked straight past, but there's something in the borderline pathetic, mostly just sad look on Blaine's face as he swirls a straw slowly back and forth through his drink, that stops him.
He's starting to think he should be worried about the effect that Blaine Anderson has on him.
He closes the gap between them with quick decisive steps before he can think the better of it, raising an eyebrow as he asks, "Shouldn't you be out celebrating?"
The chair scrapes, startlingly loud, across the wooden floor and Blaine's head jerks up, his eyes widening with surprise as he registers just who is standing there. Sebastian dips his head questioningly towards the seat, watching the hesitation that plays out across Blaine's face and waiting through the chewed lip and the eventual nod of Blaine's head before he sits, setting his coffee down carefully in front of him.
Blaine shrugs, stirring slow figure of eights through his drink with his straw. "I had some time to kill before the wedding."
He winces immediately after the words leave his mouth and his straw plummets back into his drink, his hand landing with a heavy thump onto the table followed by a loud sigh.
"So you decided to get coffee, or well, whatever that is, by yourself," Sebastian replies, raising both eyebrows at the thing that, on closer inspection, seems closer to 90% whipped cream and syrup.
"I wanted to try something new," Blaine replies defensively, his eyes dipping back towards his drink before his nose wrinkles (in a way that is not at all cute) and he adds, in a much lower voice, "It tastes awful. I really wish I'd just gotten a coffee now."
Sebastian can't hold back the snort of laughter, the impulsive quirk of his lips as he retorts, "Pity. What a waste of all that whipped cream."
Blaine narrows his eyes, like he expects all fifteen of the ideas that immediately spring to mind about how all that syrup and cream (and yeah, Blaine too) could be put to better use to just come tumbling out of Sebastian's mouth, but instead he flashes a smile and nudges his own coffee across the table towards Blaine.
The corner of Blaine's lips twitches, like he wants to smile, but he draws his hands back and sinks back into his chair, his voice determinedly even as he asks, "What's this about, Sebastian?''
The suspicion feels forced but it still stings, in some abstract way, that Blaine is so wary of his intentions now. "You look like you need it more than I do, which, in case you've forgotten, you guys actually won today, Killer."
Blaine frowns, his fingers drumming against the edge of the table as he mutters, "That's not what I meant."
Sebastian shifts in his seat, wondering why he doesn't just get up and leave. It would undoubtedly be easier in the long run if he just cut his losses and never looked back. Blaine, had at least, seemed happy with his lot; with the obnoxious boyfriend and his band of public school misfits. Had, because Sebastian doesn't really know what this is, but it certainly doesn't seem happy.
He settles for, "You looked like you could use the company."
Still Blaine eyes him carefully, like he isn't entirely convinced, but after a moment of scrutiny he relaxes in his seat. "Just so you know, I'm still kind of pissed at you."
Sebastian just barely resists the urge to laugh and nudges his cup a little further across the table. "I never would have guessed."
Blaine rolls his eyes in response but he reaches for the cup anyway, pointedly ignoring the smirk that crosses Sebastian's lips when he takes the first sip and actually sighs with appreciation.
He's amused enough that he almost doesn't catch the curious, mocking tilt of Blaine's head as he curls both hands around the cup and asks, "No Courvoisier today?"
Sebastian resists the urge to roll his eyes in return, "You aren't going to let that go, are you?"
Blaine shrugs, "I could have gone with salt."
"Ouch," he replies, and he's only half-kidding but he smiles anyway. "So Blaine Anderson does have a mean side after all. I shouldn't be surprised after seeing you channel Nicki Minaj with those dope rhymes you were spitting this afternoon but…"
Blaine ducks his head, laughing into his hands as he says, "Oh, like you can talk, I don't think I'll ever recover from the amount of hip thrusting that went down on that stage."
"Don't pretend you didn't enjoy it," Sebastian retorts, smirking as he leans forward to try and catch Blaine's eye. "I saw you cheering us on."
"It was for a good cause," Blaine replies, the easy backslide into something like their old rhythm tapering off into something weighted and awkward when Blaine finally looks up, frowning as he says, "It was a really nice thing you did, taking donations and everything."
Sebastian can't help the way those words seem to crawl up his spine until his shoulders want to curl in. He hates the way the guilt returns without warning, sinking the strange feeling of elation that he can't bring himself to attribute to something as startlingly simple as just talking to Blaine.
He can't bring himself to let anyone, let Blaine of all people, congratulate him for that. So he looks away, eyeing the empty tables around them before asking, "So, why are you here? I thought Hummel would have you folding origami swans out of napkins or something, or did all of the pre-wedding jitters get too much for you?"
Blaine stays quiet, shifting restlessly in his seat and taking another long sip of coffee. Avoiding Sebastian's eyes until he can't help but ask, "Okay, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say it isn't the origami swans."
"Kurt's at the hospital," Blaine finally admits, his eyes fixed on the table, a finger sketching absently across the surface of the table and that look is back on his face. The one that had stopped Sebastian in his tracks with the absurd need to get rid of it, to make him smile again.
"Visiting Karofsky," Sebastian finishes for him, finally, unsure what Blaine's getting at here. "And you're here."
"Kurt - he feels responsible. They have history," Blaine replies quietly. "And I'm-"
"Just the boyfriend?" Sebastian supplies, watching the way Blaine shifts again and takes another long sip of coffee.
"It's not like that," he says once he's set the cup carefully back on the table in front of him, once he's composed himself, "I'm not - I don't like hospitals, anyway, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be welcome there."
Sebastian watches him stare at his hands and when Blaine finally looks up, looks Sebastian in the eye, he's struck by how much Blaine seems to be holding back. "I thought it would help, you know. Dedicating the performance to him, I don't-"
His hands twist together, his lips twisting and Sebastian wishes he would just say it, whatever it is. "You met him, right?"
Something ugly slithers through him, a weight that settles heavily in the pit of his stomach and he looks away. "I saw him around at Scandals, a few times."
It feels like a lie.
"Kurt won't talk about it," Blaine mutters, leaning into the table. "No, he won't talk about it with me. It feels like he's talking to everyone but me - it's like he thinks-"
He snaps his mouth shut and Sebastian watches him carefully, watches him pull back into the shell like all of that emotion can just be tucked away. Pushed aside for another time.
"I can't talk to him," Blaine admits. "And I can't talk to the others or Mr. Schue or Ms Pillsbury or my own family, because they're all just watching me like I've got 'High Risk: Gay Teenager' stamped across my forehead and if I admit I'm not okay it's like it means I'm going to -"
He trails off, shaking his head and inspecting the lid of his coffee cup like it's something fascinating.
The strangest part is that Sebastian actually gets it. He's all too aware of how it suddenly seems like everyone wants to talk, how every move he makes feels like it's being measured. There had been announcements made in that first assembly, offers of counselling sessions for anyone who might need it accompanied by not so subtle looks and teachers who suddenly want to know how he is doing, if he's fitting in okay.
Sometimes Sebastian wonders where all of that concern was for the person who could actually have benefited from it.
"You too, huh?"
And the surprise on Blaine's face as his head snaps up to look at Sebastian, like he'd forgotten who he was talking to and is somehow, inexplicably, relieved to realize that it's him catches Sebastian by surprise. It's strange to realizehow much he's missed talking to Blaine but he's starting to think that maybe Blaine has missed talking to him as well.
"I don't get it," Blaine blurts out, looking away hurriedly like he's been caught doing something he shouldn't. "I feel - I want him to get better, to be okay, but I can't forget who he was. I can't forgive what he did, to Kurt and to everyone else, because he's just like every single guy who made my life hell except he was doing it to protect himself, his own reputation. What does that make me?"
And the part of Sebastian that's been twisted up tight and uncomfortable inside of himself, gone ignored and pushed aside over and over again every time he sees that damn tape that he can't bring himself to destroy at the bottom of his sock-drawer. Right up until the day the news broke and he recognized the name, the day he was forced to facethat he can't just keep pretending that his actions don't have consequences.
He doesn't know how this works, what level of fucked up this is on the scale that he can't bring himself to ask some guy he hardly knows for his forgiveness, but that he thinks he might actually forgo his pride to beg for Blaine's.
And the thing is, he thinks that maybe Blaine needs this just as much as he does.
His voice sounds strange even to his own ears, more like a challenge than he'd intended it to as he asks, "But you can forgive me?"
Blaine's face colours prettily under the intensity of Sebastian's stare and he looks down again, his fingers clenched tight around the coffee cup as he says, "You're different."
It's too much, probably. Demanding this of Blaine now, when their tentative truce is still so new and untested. He almost wants to take it back but Sebastian has never gotten anywhere, playing it safe. He isn't about to start now.
"I was angry, you know," Blaine replies, and it's like he's changing the subject but when he glances up the look in his eyes seems to say, bear with me, so Sebastian waits. "Everything with my eye, it reminded me of how things were before Dalton. All I could think was how, yet again, I was stuck in a hospital bed and I couldn't do anything. It was just like before except you and the Warblers - you guys were supposed to be my friends."
There's another story there, Sebastian figures, one he doesn't know but doesn't take much to piece together. Blaine's been hurt before and Sebastian doesn't really know what to do with the realization that he is responsible for taking Blaine back to that place.
"It was just a reminder that nothings really changed. I mean, I have Kurt and I have friends now, but the rest of the world is still the same. Nobody really cares," Blaine laughs at himself, shaking his head at how bitter it sounds.
And this must be the price of Blaine's forgiveness, having to understand just whathe's actually done.
"I was so angry at you," he continues steadily, like he's forcing himself to get the words out. Sebastian can't help but wonder just how much this costs Blaine, to not pretend that everything is fine. "Because I trusted you, because I thought you were better than that. Because I had to settle for feeling like trying to beat you in a singing competition would somehow make up for what you did."
Blaine trails off and the unease that's been crawling through Sebastian's stomach continues to rise, his mind fixed on that stupid tape lurking in the bottom of his sock-drawer and the growing realization that Blaine doesn't even seem to know that it exists. Because if he'd known, if he'd willingly let his teammates hand that tape over, he wouldn't be so angry about it all.
Sebastian has no idea how he's supposed to feel, realizing that choice had been made for Blaine. It had worked to his advantage, in the end, but all he knows is that Blaine is sitting across from him, telling him how powerless he felt, with no idea that it was his teammates who took that choice away from him.
Worse still, he thinks, is the realization that he can't even tell Blaine that.
Instead he fixes his eyes low, trying to catch Blaine's averted eyes and says, "I never wanted you to get hurt."
"I know," Blaine replies slowly, determinedly. His lips twitch, just a little, like the beginning of a smile as he says, "That's why I can forgive you."
And it doesn't really change anything. But there's some kind of promise there, in the way Blaine meets his eyes as he says it. Like the fact that Blaine is willing to move past this, to forgive him, has changed them somehow.
"Thank you," he says instead, unable to resist the urge to grin when Blaine's nose wrinkles (again) in confusion and clarifies, "For giving me a chance."
Blaine ducks his head to hide the smile that curls slow and wide across his lips, a hand rising to rub at the back of his neck as he huffs out a laugh. "Kurt's going to think I'm crazy."
The reply of, you deserve better, sits heavily on Sebastian's tongue but he forces himself to swallow it, instead watching as Blaine turns his wrist to check his watch and pulls a face.
"I should probably go," Blaine apologizes, taking another long sip of coffee and blinking rapidly against the strength of it. "I'd never hear the end of it if I was late for Rachel's wedding."
Blaine stands and Sebastian is preoccupied by the shift in the muscles of his throat as he swallows the last of his coffee before placing the empty cup back onto the table and hesitating behind his chair. He seems to be debating with himself over something, chewing his lower lip before he finally says, "Thank you for this - for listening. It was - good to talk to someone who gets it."
"You too," Sebastian replies, watching the way Blaine continues to hesitate behind his chair, like he wants to say something else. "Though I'm pretty sure you owe me a coffee now."
Blaine does his best to hide his smile, the hesitance disappearing as he scoffs, "Maybe we should make it a slushie."
"Cold, Anderson," Sebastian retorts, eyebrows rising.
"I'll call you," Blaine offers and Sebastian can't help the surge of something in his chest at the way Blaine doesn't quite meet his eyes, cheeks flushed with colour as he busies himself with pushing his chair neatly back into place. "We could give this friend thing another try."
Blaine's smile is small as he raises his fingers in a half-hearted sort of wave and turns to make his leave, Sebastian watching as he winds through the tables towards the doors, his eyes dipping automatically to the rather spectacular sight of Blaine's ass in those jeans before his lips curve, amused.
Yeah, he's pretty sure that the friend thing could work. For now, at least.