It's unusually hot for Paris in the spring and the sun is beating down onto Kurt's back, but he barely notices as all his attention is fixed on the man beside him. The past five years and six months have led up to this moment and yet he can still hear the busy traffic that's only metres away and he can smell the gasoline from the auto shop next door. The rest of the world continues outside of the little bubble that he and Sebastian have cocooned themselves in, but somehow it seems clearer than what stands directly in front of them. He can hear Sebastian's quiet breathing and it's so much more even paced than it should be.
They had arrived in Paris at seven in evening, when the sun was fading behind the clouds and the streets were bathed in yellow lamplight. They had been so tired, both of them, but as soon as they stepped out of the airport Sebastian was hailing a cab and asking Kurt to tell the chauffeur to drive to an address that Kurt immediately recognised. He wanted to say no, that the search could wait until morning, but he couldn't, not when Sebastian was gripping his arm tightly while they drove and whispering incoherently in broken French. They'd arrived at the block of apartments too slowly, by the time they pulled up, Sebastian was as tense as Kurt had ever seen him and he'd practically launched himself out of the taxi, leaving Kurt to pay the driver. Kurt had raced out after him, climbing the stairs two at a time until he reached the door that he'd heard so much about. And nothing about it was like he'd hoped.
A woman was standing in the doorframe, gazing in confusion at Sebastian who was kneeling a few feet away from the door, his head bent while his whole body shook. Disappointment did not begin to describe the emotion etched on Sebastian's face as he knelt in front of the apartment that was all but empty in his eyes. Kurt had gently helped him up and practically carried him down the stairs and into the cab, distractedly telling the driver the address to the hotel while Sebastian hid his face in Kurt's shirt. Sebastian hadn't asked why Kurt had thought to book a hotel and Kurt hadn't brought it up either, didn't want to have to voice his own trepidations about the trip.
What if they didn't find her?
They had woken up around noon the next day, wrapped around each other with Sebastian's face tucked into Kurt's neck and their legs entangled together. For the first hour it had almost been as if they really were on holiday, as if they were just tourists looking around the city for no other reason than to explore. They had eaten brunch on the balcony, Sebastian teasing Kurt about the amount of jam he spread on his toast and Kurt slapping Sebastian's hand away when it had begun to gently creep up his thigh under the table.
But then they'd gotten dressed and each item of clothing had caused the light in Sebastian's eyes to dim and by the time they were standing outside their hotel his face was completely devoid of emotion. Kurt knew that face, had seen Sebastian close in on himself so many times, both while in prison and during the past six months when he'd stayed at Kurt's apartment planning for the trip. Kurt was the only person Sebastian was ever open with and yet, whenever Sebastian's burdens became too large, instead of sharing he would lock them up. Kurt wasn't stupid, he saw the flashes of guilt that would pass over Sebastian's face whenever Kurt refused to take aspirin when he was sick, he heard Sebastian throwing up in their bathroom whenever Kurt woke up from his nightmares, screaming, and he felt the tremble of Sebastian's fingers whenever they held hands. But he hadn't let Sebastian close in on himself; his burden was too great to bear alone.
And so they had walked along the streets of Sebastian's old neighbourhood, knocking at every door, every shopfront, and asking the same question.
"Do you know Victoria Cantrel? Have you heard of her?"
Most of them shook their heads and the few that recognised the name all said the same thing.
"She moved out of that old apartment years ago."
Until finally, just before lunchtime, they'd stopped at a small bakery with the intent of buying some bread for lunch and when Kurt has asked in French if he knew of Sebastian's mother with no expectations at all, the man's eyes had lit up in recognition.
"Ah oui, Victoria!" He had smiled widely at them and then frowned almost immediately. "I haven't seen her in almost decades though, she tried to leave France as I recall."
"She left?" Sebastian had been gripping Kurt's hand tighter than Kurt could ever remember him doing.
"Non, her passport was invalid, never saw her again after that."
They had walked back to the hotel in silence and it wasn't until they were shut safely away in their room that Sebastian had finally broken down. He yelled and he screamed, ranting about his father's cruelty, calling him every bad name under the sun, but finally he'd crumpled, his mask of anger slipping and revealing a lost little boy who just wanted to find his mother. And Kurt had sensed that Sebastian's hurt was too great for even him to keep to it himself because when Kurt had wrapped his arms around the taller man, Sebastian had pressed his face into Kurt's neck and let his hot tears fall.
They resumed their search the next day.
But after days of asking, of looking and of trying desperately not to assume the worst, their searching had begun to turn slowly into sightseeing, into sitting in little cafés watching the people pass by and into long drives exploring the countryside. They still asked, still went to places that Sebastian remembered from his fuzzy childhood, but after every day when no new information was found it had begun to feel more like a holiday and on most days it had seemed to Kurt that Sebastian had been inclined to keep it that way.
Until finally, on their 15th day in Paris they were given an address.
It's how they ended up here in the graveyard on the outskirts of Paris.
Victoria Cantrel 1970-2008
Sebastian has not made a sound since they entered, and watching him, Kurt feels as if he's holding his breath, waiting for Sebastian to fall apart at the seams. And yet his breathing is even and he's simply staring at the tombstone with blank eyes. Kurt himself is holding back tears because despite the fact that he had suspected all along that she was dead, it had taken so much to get Sebastian to France and Sebastian had pinned all his hopes on this, finding her had meant everything. Kurt had lost count of the times Sebastian had called out for her in his sleep and now he did not even have the smallest chance of a reunion with his mother.
"I-I think," Sebastian says, finally looking away for the tombstone to stare at Kurt, eyes bright with unshed tears. "I think I knew she was dead."
"I'm so sorry, 'Bastian," Kurt says, taking Sebastian's hand and squeezing it gently.
"Me too," Sebastian says quietly and Kurt has to blink back tears at the way Sebastian's voice breaks.
There's silence for another minute and Kurt doesn't try and break it, he knows Sebastian, knows he doesn't need words. Instead he simply rubs circles into Sebastian's palm.
"She was already gone," Sebastian mutters and Kurt can feel that he's beginning to tense up. "She was already dead by the time I was 15 and he never told me. I spent years- years thinking that if I ran away she would be killed and it was all for nothing. And now I don't even have her."
By the time he finishes speaking Sebastian is shaking, voice clouded with restrained anger, and for a second Kurt fears that Sebastian will lose himself right there and then. But then Sebastian lets out a long breath and slumps at Kurt's side.
"Where do I go from here?" he asks and Kurt can't stop the tears from escaping at the way he sounds so completely lost.
"I don't know," Kurt finally answers, opting for honesty. "But you know I'll always be here or at least for as long as you want me."
His words hang in the empty air for a brief moment but then Sebastian is turning to face Kurt and wrapping his arms around him. Their bodies are pressed flush against each other and Kurt really has to bite his lip to keep from sobbing because Sebastian's arms are firm around him and he smells like expensive aftershave and home.
"I'll always want you," Sebastian says and Kurt does let out a little sob then.
"I'll always want you too," he promises.
No matter what happens or what people say, I will always want you.
It's always been Sebastian for Kurt. It's not what happened in Westerville, not the kindness Sebastian had shown when Kurt was locked up. It's the hours they spent talking while Sebastian was in prison about everything under the sun, it's the way Sebastian had held onto him when he'd been released and it's the way they fell together, clinging onto each other while they tried to work out this thing. It's the way Sebastian's eyes crinkle when Kurt wakes him up with coffee or the way Sebastian always knows what to say when Kurt gets back from talking to his father. It's the way small spaces don't seem so small when Sebastian is sitting next to him and the way Sebastian makes everything funnier with his sarcastic humour.
And standing there, in a deserted graveyard in a country he barely knows with Sebastian clutching at him while they both cry, he realises that he is taking care of Sebastian just as much as Sebastian is taking care of him.
They walk back to the hotel, hand in hand, with the intention of going back the next day. Sebastian will buy flowers and Kurt is already planning the letter he will write Victoria, thanking her for everything she did for Sebastian and promising that he will look after her son.
They are both lying on the bed, Sebastian's head resting on Kurt's chest. Kurt's fingers are tracing patterns on Sebastian's back when Sebastian presses a kiss to the underside of Kurt's chin.
"I will always be there for you," he whispers.
And with a certainty that surprises him, Kurt believes it.
A/N I'd just like to say a big thank you to everyone who read this, I had so much fun writing it and it was completely unlike anything I'd written before so all the encouragement I got was so appreciated. While this is the last installment of the story, I have TONS of headcanon so please feel free to drop by my ask if you have any questions about Kurt and Sebastian's future and anything you might want to know about the story. I'll also be writing some more in the 'verse at some stage in particular for my awesome beta notimportantprs who has been so helpful and amazing.
I've also compiled a soundtrack for the fic that includes some songs that I listened to while writing and also some that I felt fit the story so if you go to my tumblr, you can check that out! If you want that is, no pressure