And so our journey comes to an end... Thanks to all those who commented - feedback is by far the greatest gift you could ever give a writer. Thanks especially to the OP, without whom there would be no story and my sleep deprivation would be considerably less severe. I've definitely gotten the taste of writing Sebastian, and I'm glad he was appreciated by so many of you. I hope you enjoy this last installment, and that you forgive me for the complete and utter lack of smut in what ultimately should be a KINK fill, but I'm no smut writer and even apart from that it simply didn't feel right.
Some good-to-know things that I wasn't able to sneak in in the text: the viral load of an HIV patient is the number of virus particles present in the blood. Patients not on medication will have a high viral load, even if they don't display symptoms, while those on medication should be(come) 'undetectable', i.e. the number of viruses in the blood is too low to be detected (which doesn't mean that there aren't any, just that there aren't many).
Then - the remark Kurt makes about Sebastian's sexuality with regards to his agent is supposed to be taken in good nature. I truly believe humor goes a long way, even with complicated issues as sexuality and gender identity.
And that's it, I think... so thanks again, and enjoy!
Kram, groetjes, jocas, bises, hugs,
The room was too bright, as it always was for these kinds of things, and the constant buzz of people coming and going did nothing to dissipate the frantic atmosphere that surrounded him. The actual photo shoot was taking place at the back of the room, and as Kurt got closer he could see the backdrop of some tropical beach, the sand that was spread out in front of it and that seemed to have already taken over half of the studio if the crunching under Kurt's feet was any indication, the hair-and-make-up people and then...
He was dressed in a pair of khakis that hung low on his hips, their faint V-shape even more pronounced under the sharp artificial light. The simple white shirt he wore in combination with it was unbuttoned, leaving his chest bare, and Kurt found himself staring. He hadn't seen Sebastian in anything less than jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt since he'd dressed him for the show, and even though he had no trouble conjuring up the images of soft chest hair and toned muscle that had left him with, it was strangely comforting to see it hadn't changed - Sebastian's skin still stretched taut over his flat stomach, glistening, firm.
He saw Sebastian jump, catching a bright red ball, but his smile faltered when he saw who had thrown it - a young Mexican-looking guy, cute by even the highest of standards and hot by Kurt's own, dressed in nothing but a pair of tight blue jeans, who was now pretending to chase Sebastian over the set.
"Alright! Now Jorge, I want you in front... right here... Sebastian, you hold him- no, your arm lower, there. Good - now look over at me."
As the photographer gave instructions the two models walked up to each other. Sebastian wrapped his right arm around Jorge's waist as he lifted the left to point at something, and Jorge laughed when Sebastian whispered something in his ear. To his own surprise, Kurt felt a surge of jealousy, and he was just wondering if it was wholly necessary that Sebastian's thumb was slowly stroking over the other man's hip bone when Sebastian turned his head and caught sight of him.
Later Kurt realized they couldn't have been looking at each other for more than a couple of seconds, but it felt like an eternity for Kurt as he saw the emotions flicker over Sebastian face in quick succession: surprise and unbelief, insecurity and maybe just a hint of fear, but even through that range of conflicting emotions there was no denying the way Sebastian's face had lit up the moment he saw Kurt, there was no mistaking that smile that only widened as they kept staring and that Kurt knew was reflected on his own face.
He watched Sebastian untangle himself from his colleague and walk up to the photographer, exchanging a few words before the photographer nodded.
"All right, people, take five! We'll continue with the girls after that!"
There was a sudden burst of activity, of people changing places and lamps being moved, but Kurt paid it no attention, focused on Sebastian who made his way towards him, stopping about 3 feet away - close enough to be able to have a conversation, but not so close that he would be invading Kurt's personal space.
"Hello there, princess," Kurt broke the silence.
Sebastian gave him an amused smile at the reference to his earlier note, wrapping his arms around his chest, and he smiled down bashfully before he looked back up at Kurt.
Kurt didn't miss a beat.
They stood looking at each other for another moment, flushing cheeks and shy smiles, and it almost felt like they were high school sweethearts seeing each other for the first time after they had shared their first kiss, not two adults who had a long and heavy conversation ahead of them.
"How did you even know where to find me?" Sebastian asked, and Kurt shrugged casually, though he couldn't hold back the conspiratorial grin that crept up on his face.
"You know, I was wondering... ," he said airily, "if your ex-boyfriend is transgender, does that make you bisexual?"
"You called my agent?" Sebastian called out before he noticed people turning their heads, and he lowered his voice. "You actually called my agent?"
"Hey, you're the one who gave me her number," Kurt said innocently, holding his hands up to show he was most definitely not to blame for this. "Six times, no less, too. But she was really helpful once she realized I was the boyfriend with the... ah, what was it again..."
He tapped his finger against his chin as he looked at the ceiling, pretending to think.
"Oh yes, now I remember: 'with eyes the color of the ocean on a stormy day'."
It was more than worth it having come all the way over here just to see Sebastian blush, Kurt decided, and his grin only widened.
"The boyfriend, ha?" Sebastian said, stuffing his hands in his pockets and shuffling his feet. His eyes were darting everywhere, a careful smile slowly spreading over his face that was nothing short of hopeful even though he refused to look at Kurt for longer than a few seconds, and despite his airy tone Kurt could hear the undercurrent of uncertainty, the need for confirmation.
"The boyfriend," he repeated. "Unless you remember a break-up that I missed, somehow?"
He raised an eyebrow questioningly when Sebastian looked back at him, tilting his head just a little, and Sebastian let out a shaky huff, dragging his hands over his face before his gaze settled on Kurt.
"No," he said smoothly, the twinkle in his eyes not even barely contained and the smile on his face now so bright Kurt was sure they would have to turn off some of the lamps for the shoot. "No break-ups as far as I recall."
He seemed to take a moment to recompose himself a little, shifting his weight and wrapping his arms around himself again as he looked at Kurt - really, actually looked at him.
"You look amazing."
"You don't look too bad yourself," Kurt smiled as he took the compliment with a nod, but Sebastian merely shrugged, eyes darting down and then back at Kurt.
"I'm contractually obliged," he said mischievously. "What's your excuse?"
It was Kurt's turn to blush this time and he ducked his head, unable to keep away the bashful smile when he looked back up at Sebastian.
"Can we talk somewhere?"
They found a couch in one of the changing rooms, and they sat down cross-legged, facing each other, knees just barely touching.
"So..." Sebastian started, but Kurt interrupted him.
"Can I-... can I start?"
Sebastian nodded, gesturing with his hand to give him the word, and Kurt shifted just a little bit closer. They weren't quite ready to fall into each other's arms yet, but he still needed to feel Sebastian now, needed the reassurance of him being close.
He took a deep breath, trying to remember the mental list he had made of things he wanted to say and ask. He'd done his research, spent hours on thebody-dot-com and the CDC website, and he felt calmer now, safer even, his brain armed with facts and figures to keep his emotions under control.
"I... oh god, I can't even remember what I was gonna say," he huffed, laughing softly to himself. "I guess I just... there's some things I would like to ask first, if that's all right?"
"Of course that's all right!" Sebastian shot him an incredulous look. "Jesus, Kurt, I dropped a huge bomb on you yesterday and not only are you still talking to me, you went out of your way just to come see me - you could demand I do all the household work and clean your bathroom with a toothbrush and sleep on the couch for the rest of eternity and I would probably just nod and grin and comply, basking in the fact that you're not breaking up with me. Of course you can ask me, idiot - ask me anything!"
"Anything?" Kurt asked as he tilted his head, suddenly amused.
"Anything," Sebastian told him solemnly. "I don't care - anything, Kurt, I mean it, ask me anything and I'll try the best that I can."
Kurt's grin had only become wider the longer Sebastian spoke, and he bit his lip, swaying a little.
"Well, I guess that answers my first question," he said, smiling as he caught Sebastian's questioning look and asked it anyway.
"Do you love me?"
Sebastian didn't hesitate - he simply laid his hands on his calfs, palms facing up, and Kurt immediately complied, placing his own hands on top of them.
"Yes," Sebastian said, his voice steady, watching Kurt intently as his thumbs stroked along the back of Kurt's hands. "Yes, I do."
Kurt closed his eyes for a second, willing his heart to stop pounding and his breathing to stabilize. As much as he'd wished they could've built up to this, could have said those words not because it was asked but because the feeling was so overwhelming they would burst if they didn't - they were still there. They still had been said, no less true, and Kurt squeezed Sebastian's hands softly when he replied.
"I love you, too."
"Any other confessions you want to drag out of me?" Sebastian asked playfully after a short silence, and Kurt smiled, shaking his head slowly.
"My next question is a little more serious," he said, taking his time to try and think how best to formulate his question. "You said... yesterday you said you weren't on any drugs."
He could see Sebastian squint his eyes a little, clearly not understanding where Kurt would be taking this.
"No," Sebastian said. "No, I'm not."
The question had plagued Kurt ever since Sebastian had said it, and even though he'd found it wasn't all that unusual, it still didn't sit right with him.
"Why?" Sebastian repeated, surprised, sitting back in silence for a moment. "Eh... a number of reasons. I guess maybe I kinda like the idea that I'm battling this on my own for now. I know I'm going to lose in the long run, but right now... right now I'm the stronger one."
He looked a bit hesitantly at Kurt, as if he was afraid he would think it was silly, but Kurt nodded in understanding. He knew the feeling of wanting to be in control of things, and he could see there was a certain pride to be found in successfully battling an illness without any help.
"And... once I start treatment, I can't stop. I can't go back. Once I start, it will be for the rest of my life. Which could easily be another fifty or sixty years, or so they tell me. That's fifty years of putting my body under the stress of chemicals. Fifty years of taking multiple pills, every day, at the same time, without fail. And I just... if I can shorten that period for as much as I can, another five, ten years maybe... that's ten years that I don't have to worry about any of that."
Kurt nodded again. It made sense, he thought, a lot of sense, even, and it only made him feel more selfish for even considering asking Sebastian what he wanted to ask him. But Sebastian didn't give him a chance to back out.
"Why did you want to know?" he asked, sounding genuinely curious, and Kurt took another breath.
"Because... because if you're not on drugs then... your viral load..."
He let his voice trail when he saw Sebastian caught on.
"My viral load is not exactly low, no. Certainly not undetectable as it would be if I were on treatment."
"And a higher viral load..."
"... means a higher chance of transmittance," Sebastian supplied helpfully.
From the way he was looking at Kurt, Kurt could see he already knew what the question was, but he didn't say anything more, made no attempt to formulate an answer, and Kurt understood he would have to speak up if he wanted to know.
"Would you... would you consider- starting up? Therapy?" he asked meekly, afraid to meet Sebastian's eyes, painfully aware of the enormity of what he was asking from him. "To make it... safer?"
He let out a small yelp when he felt something brush against his lips unexpectedly, and his eyes flew up to see Sebastian's face mere inches from his.
"Yes," Sebastian said, kissing Kurt again, "I would consider that. I would even want to go further and say I have considered it." Another kiss. "And I'll do it."
"I only asked you two seconds ago," Kurt protested, even though he couldn't ignore the way his stomach had jolted at the words. But he couldn't just let Sebastian make a decision like that on such a short notice.
"Only took me a second to decide," Sebastian replied simply, pressing another kiss against Kurt's lips.
"I just did."
Sebastian held a finger against Kurt's lips and pulled away, but only as much as he had to to be able to look Kurt in the eyes.
"Let me do this for you," he said- asked. "Please?"
Kurt nodded mutely, taken aback by the ease with which Sebastian had handled his request, and he wondered if it meant that what they had felt as big for Sebastian as it did for him.
But when he looked back up Sebastian's expression had changed.
"There's something," he said, looking at Kurt inquisitively. "There's something else you wanted to ask."
"No!" Kurt tried to deny the accusation, but it came out too fast, and if his refusal to meet Sebastian's eyes didn't betray him, the blush on his cheeks certainly did. "No, it's ok, it's fine."
"Sebastian, I was kinda having a moment here with you," Kurt said, a little firmer now. "You're ruining it."
But Sebastian was not in the least impressed.
"Look, Kurt, if you meant what you said we're going to have shitloads of moments to come - I think we can afford to ruin one if there's something bothering you."
He sighed when Kurt didn't reply, gently lifting Kurt's chin with his index finger until Kurt couldn't but look him in the eye.
"Kurt, we need to talk. More than any other couple, if we want to make this work, if we want to even try, we need to talk. And if you have a question or a worry now, then we need to talk about it now. I know it's scary - trust me, I know. But it's the only way it's gonna work. I won't be mad, I'm not gonna think it's silly or stupid... but I can't hold up my end of the deal and be here for you if I don't know what you're struggling with."
Kurt bit the inside of his cheek.
"I just don't know if... I don't wanna-," he started before Sebastian cut him off with a single look, and he took a deep breath.
"H-how does it- how does it work with... the sex part?"
Sebastian's face fell, and he bit his lip, looking suddenly serious as he looked around the room, thinking so hard Kurt could almost hear it.
"Look, Kurt, I-" Sebastian paused, taking a deep breath as he scratched behind his ear. "I know this is gonna sound crazy, and just... please -please- don't take this the wrong way but I... I don't want to have sex with you. Not now, not yet, I mean," he added when he saw Kurt frown.
"And how exactly am I supposed to not take that the wrong way?" Kurt asked, alternating between feeling insulted and wanting to laugh hysterically, because Sebastian Smythe -Sebastian Innuendo Smythe- just told him he didn't want to have sex.
"It's not about you," Sebastian tried to clarify clumsily. "Or, I mean, it is about you, that's just- that's just the whole point of it. But I..."
He let out a slow breath, running his hands through his hair as he looked up at the ceiling.
"I know this must be hard for you, I really -really- do. I keep wanting to pinch myself because I can't believe you're here - I can't believe you're here and you want to be with me and you're talking about having sex with me like it's an actual, real, possibility and I just... I can't wrap my head around the reality of that right now, I really can't. Because I- I told you that I do date - I mean, not dating dating, but, well... going out, I guess. But never, never with negative people. Partly because I was reluctant about the whole disclosing thing, but mainly because..."
He paused again, biting his lip, eyes darting around as he considered his words, but when he looked back at Kurt it was with determination, and he took Kurt's hands in his own again, holding them tight.
"I don't want anything to happen to you," he said, voice firm and steady. "I would never -could never- forgive myself if anything ever happened to you. As scary as it is for you, it's just as scary for me. I could ruin your life, Kurt. One moment of inattentiveness, just one little mistake and it could all be over, and I would never be able to live with myself again. And I- I can't handle that. I can't take that responsibility, I just... I can't. Not yet, at least. I think it's awesome you're willing to do this, Kurt, I really do, and I had never in a thousand years expected you would even consider this. Hoped, maybe, yes, but not... I never really believed we could end up here. And you'll have to give me time to... to process this, I guess. If you want to, I mean, of course I'd understand if yo-"
Kurt rushed forward, crashing his lips against Sebastian's, bringing up Sebastian's hands still clasping his and placing them against his jaws, mirroring the position so they were cupping each other's face as they kissed, pulling each other close. He needed this, now, and he put in that kiss everything he wanted to say but didn't know how.
He'd done his research. He'd visited every HIV/AIDS related website in existence, dug through every forum, read everything there was to be read about safe sex, had even chatted with a guy who also was in a relationship with an HIV positive person - a 'magnetic' relationship, the guy had called it. Positive and negative. Opposites attracting.
And if anything, it had been clear to him that it was possible. It wasn't a crazy romantic idea, it wasn't unsurmountable - there were other people in their situation, and they were making it work. And as long as they stuck to the rules he would be okay - they would both be okay.
He knew that.
But that didn't mean he was fully comfortable with it all. Not yet, at least, and listening to Sebastian he'd felt a weight lift from his shoulders he hadn't even realized was there. He didn't know why he had assumed that he would be the only with reservations, but knowing they would be able to just be, for now, that sex and everything that would entail for them was something they could figure out later, together, made him breathe lighter.
When they pulled away, their foreheads still pressed together, they were almost giggling, the relief that flooded them both almost too much to bear.
"You know, I would've told you I didn't want to have sex with you earlier if I had known that would be my reward," Sebastian said coyly, and Kurt lashed out, swatting Sebastian's upper arm.
"Are you accusing me of being promiscuous?" he asked haughtily.
"I'm accusing you of being a great kisser," Sebastian smiled, reaching out to cup Kurt's jaw. He tenderly stroked his thumb over the soft skin of Kurt's cheek, tilting his head sideways as he looked at him, his green eyes so unabashedly full of love that it almost hurt Kurt to return the gaze.
"You're really sure about this, aren't you?" Sebastian asked quietly, and Kurt's stomach clenched at the wonder in his tone.
"Yes," he said with all the confidence he could muster, "yes, I am."
They would have to talk more about it later, he decided, distracted by the multitude of kisses Sebastian had started attacking him with, and he laughed, trying half-heartedly to push him away.
"You're a dork," he giggled, and immediately Sebastian backed away.
"I was born a dork," he said seriously. "I can't help it. You, on the other hand, are voluntarily dating one, so which of us is the bigger idiot here?"
Kurt gave him a playful push.
"I'm not an idiot, I'm in love," he said, grinning, "and as such I cannot be held responsible for my actions. Besides, last I checked I was the one asking the questions here."
Sebastian sucked in a breath, pressing his lips together as he looked down, looking like a schoolboy caught stealing cookies from the teacher's jar.
"I'm sorry," he said, although the amusement in his voice made it clear he was most certainly not sorry. "Please, do you have any more questions for me?"
He cocked his head sideways, looking at Kurt through his eyelashes, and Kurt couldn't help but laugh again.
"I do, actually," he said, resisting the urge to kiss Sebastian.
"How do you feel about celebrating Thanksgiving with Warbler legend Blaine Anderson?"
ETA: There is now a sequel to this story entitled "Dancing in Moonlight", you can find it on my profile! I have also changed my Tumblr url, you can now find me at letmegiveyoumynumbah. See you around!