"Are you doing anything this weekend?" Sebastian asks. They're having lunch at the café that happens to be placed exactly in the middle between their workplaces.
"No," Kurt replies after he's chewed and swallowed. "Why?"
Sebastian looks down and picks at his food, seemingly trying to choose the right words.
"I— I know it's not really your scene, but my cousins' choir is having a Christmas concert at their church this Sunday, and I'm going, and I – they, actually – wondered if you wanted to come, too."
"They?" Kurt asks, trying to keep his tone neutral. Sebastian is right, church is not his scene.
"Yeah, my cousins and my aunt and uncle. And my uncle's brother and his kids. Not that they— they're not wondering, it's just, they're coming too, for dinner, and—"
"Dinner?" Kurt interrupts. Sebastian looks up.
"I- yes. Oh. Yeah. We're invited to dinner afterwards, too."
Sebastian is nervous, it's not hard to tell. He rarely gets nervous, but when he does, he rambles. And shoots insults at people, but Kurt is not really threatening right now. It dawns on Kurt what this is. This is Sebastian asking him to meet his family. Kurt knows he'll never be introduced to mr and mrs Smythe, Sebastian has made it pretty clear that they're completely ignoring their son's 'lifestyle choice'. Sebastian has always been pretty close to his aunts, though, Kurt has gathered that much.
"Will I have to endure a speech about how I'm going to hell just because I like boys, not girls?" Kurt asks, trailing his finger on the edge of his water glass.
"No," Sebastian replies, certain. "It's not- it's a good church. I wouldn't be going otherwise."
"I didn't know you went at all," Kurt says, because he didn't. He can't say he's surprised, really, it actually fits with the image he has of Sebastian. It's just not something he's put any thought into.
"I don't, not… really. Mostly just around Christmas. And when my cousins ask me to come."
There's a lot of affection there. Kurt doesn't comment on it, he doesn't dare, but he's curious how Sebastian will behave in the presence of the people who make his eyes soften just by talking about them.
"We— we could just do dinner," Sebastian says when Kurt has been silent for a while. "Or just the concert. Or you don't have to come, at all, it's… it doesn't matter."
Kurt also knows that when Sebastian says 'it doesn't matter', that actually means that it's a pretty big deal to him.
Kurt smiles. "I'll come," he says. "To both."
"Really?" Sebastian looks as if he's waiting for the catch.
Kurt shrugs. "We've been dating for five months, you met my dad at Thanksgiving. I want to meet your family, too."
Snow has fallen and melted away by the time Sunday arrives, and all that's left is wet ground, bare trees and soddy leaves.
Kurt is waiting by the kitchen window in his and Rachel's apartment. It's the only window facing the street, so it's the only window where he'll be able to see when Sebastian arrives. Kurt is nervous. If asked, he'd deny it to his dying day, but anyone could see it. He's glad that Rachel isn't home, because as great as she is, shesucks at making Kurt calm down when he's nervous.
But he isn't nervous. Why should he be nervous? He's only meeting Sebastian's family, and while that's a big step, Kurt knows it's even bigger for Sebastian. He's Sebastian's first serious boyfriend, and as far as he knows, the only one that's ever been introduced to Sebastian's family, extended or not. Kurt shouldn't be nervous. Sebastian's allowed to be, but Kurt doubts that he is.
Except that he's really, undeniably, shakingly nervous. He's clutching the window sill to prevent himself from fiddling with the hem of his shirt. If he so much as touches it again, it'll wrinkle, and then Kurt will spend the rest of the day worrying about not making a good impression.
He hadn't been nowhere near this nervous when he met Blaine's parents, nor when he met Cooper, and that kind of freaks him out. He hadn't cared this much about making a good impression, because he didn't feel like it mattered to Blaine as much as this matters to Sebastian. Not that Sebastian has said anything, but he doesn't need to. It was visible in the way he was so uncharacteristically nervous about asking Kurt, in the way his whole appearance changes when he talks about his family.
Kurt watches the skin around his fingernails whiten when he grips harder on the wooden plank, relaxes to see the blood flow back, then repeats. He has no idea what to expect today. The concert is a no-brainer, he just needs to sit quiet and listen and try to not let out a vicious comment on religion, but the dinner… If Sebastian likes his family, they're probably not horrible people, but Kurt still doesn't know what to expect.
He's so wrapped up in thoughts and the fascination of blood flowing through the veins in his fingertips that he misses Sebastian on the street and startles when there's a knock on the door. Kurt straightens his shirt even though he doesn't need to, wipes his clammy palms on his jeans and goes to open the door. It's just Sebastian, it's nothing to worry about.
"Hi," Sebastian says when Kurt opens the door. He's smiling, but it's a bit tentative. He's nervous. Kurt grabs him by the wrist and pulls him inside, then leans up to kiss him. He needs something to anchor him in this, in them.
"Hi," Kurt says when they break away. Sebastian is looking at him, a confused smile playing at his lips.
"You ready?" he asks, and lets his eyes roam over Kurt's body. He doesn't huff or arch a disapproving eyebrow, so Kurt counts his outfit as church approved. He's wearing black jeans, a grey cashmere sweater with a V-neck that shows off the light blue dress shirt underneath, and his low winter boots are standing by the door.
Kurt nods. "Yeah." He steps into his boots while Sebastian grabs his coat from the hanger, holds it out and lets Kurt put his arms into the sleeves. Kurt grabs a striped scarf from the weaved basket, takes his phone and his keys from the dresser and puts them in his pockets. He catches one of Sebastian's hands before he can put them into his pockets and tangles their fingers together while he shuts the door behind them.
"Are they any good?" Kurt asks as they descend the stairs.
"Who?" Sebastian asks.
"Your cousins. The choir."
They make their way outside and Kurt winces at the cold. The wind didn't show through the window. Sebastian pulls him closer, lets go of his hand and wraps his arm around Kurt's waist instead.
"Not as good as the Warblers, of course," he says, smirking. "But yes, they're good. The church is usually full when they're performing."
"As if anything could ever be better than the Warblers in your eyes," Kurt snorts.
"Nor in my ears," Sebastian agrees. Kurt rolls his eyes.
They stay silent during the rest of the way to the subway station, and all of the subway ride. Kurt sits on his hands to keep himself from picking on threads in his coat or on Sebastian's coat. He can see the tension in Sebastian's legs where he's trying to keep himself from jumping them up and down. It's almost laughable, how nervous they both are about this. Neither of them were nowhere near like this at Thanksgiving, and Kurt values his relationship with his dad a lot, so he doesn't know why this differs.
Suddenly Sebastian stands up and reaches out his hand. "Come on, this is our stop."
Kurt stands and grabs his hand, follows him out onto the platform and up between houses and bare trees in a new neighborhood. It's still New York, but it's calmer. There are lights in every window, and with the cloudy sky it's just getting dark enough for the lights to brighten up the street and give it a warm, welcoming feeling.
"My aunt lives there," Sebastian says and points to a narrow three-story house with stars in the windows. "The church is just around the corner."
The church is packed. Kurt moves to settle against the wall just beside the entrance doors, but Sebastian clasps their hands together and pulls Kurt along through the crowd, shooting apologetic smiles around him as they make their way to one of the benches.
"Sebastian!" a woman on the bench exclaims as Sebastian opens the wooden gate to the bench row. Kurt vaguely recognizes her from a photo on Sebastian's facebook, and even though he's standing behind Sebastian, he can see how his boyfriend relaxes and how his whole posture changes. He tries to loosen his grip on Sebastian's hand, but Sebastian squeezes harder, so he keeps holding on. There are too many people, too much sound for Kurt to be able to introduce himself here and now, but he smiles and gives an awkward wave before he and Sebastian presses themselves into the narrow space between Sebastian's aunt and the edge of the bench.
They were right on time, apparently, because as soon as they've settled, thighs pressed together in a manner that's way more comforting right now than Kurt ever will admit, the service starts. Kurt tunes out the talk pretty much right away, instead twisting his head to take in the interior of the church. He may not like the concept of 'God's house', but that doesn't mean he can't appreciate nice things. It's a big church, there are people everywhere, and what must be hundreds of lit candles all along the high walls. It's warm, and Kurt is glad they're sitting, because he imagines it must be even warmer in the crowd in the back. Darkness is falling quickly outside and the candle light is reflecting beautifully in the colored glass.
He's so deeply submerged in wonder that he almost jumps when Sebastian pokes him in the side and points up to where the choir is now standing in front of the altar.
"The blonde girl to the left on the second row is Jacquie, and the shortest boy in the front row is Eric," he whispers. "They're my cousins."
Kurt barely manages to hold his never would've guessed, because why would Sebastian point them out otherwise, but then they start singing, and Kurt has to force himself not to let his mouth fall open.
The kids are amazing. Kurt loves Christmas music, and the choir sounds really, really good. The oldest of them can't be more than fifteen years old, and Kurt really wishes he would've had the chance to sound this good when he was in high school. When they start up a four-part rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful goosebumps break out on Kurt's skin and he squeezes Sebastian's hand almost involuntarily. Sebastian squeezes back and smirks at him.
"I told you they were good," he leans in to whisper in Kurt's ear, his breath ghosting over Kurt's skin and doing nothing to make the goosebumps go away.
Kurt gets introduced to the family outside of the church. He's clutching Sebastian's hand almost painfully to prevent himself from getting lost in the sea of people wallowing out of the church, and Sebastian drags him over to the side where his aunt and uncle are waiting.
"Gaby, John. This is Kurt," Sebastian says and pushes Kurt gently in the back to make him step forward. "Kurt, this is my aunt, Gaby, and her husband, John."
Kurt shakes their hands, takes comfort in their gentle smiles and smiles back as much as he can without making it look fake. Before they have time to make further conversation, another couple approaches them, two young kids in tow. They greet Sebastian, Gaby and John with hugs and endearments, the kids clinging to Sebastian's legs and demanding that he picks them up. Sebastian laughs at them and reaches out to grab Kurt's wrist when he tries to back away from the small crowd, dragging him into the middle again and presenting him to the two new adults.
"This is Kurt, my boyfriend," he says, and Kurt's heart skips a beat at the proud note he hears in that. John's brother and his wife introduces themselves, and then Jacquie and Eric comes running, still dressed in performance clothes under their coats.
"Sebastian!" they exclaim in unison, hugging him. "You came!" Jacquie says, smiling. When she sees Kurt behind him, she smiles even wider. "You're Kurt, right?" she says, almost bouncing on the spot with excitement. Kurt nods and catches Sebastian's amused smile. "I'm Jacqueline," she continues, reaching out a hand. "But everyone calls me Jacquie." She can't be more than thirteen, and Kurt tries to keep his expression solemn as he shakes her hand.
"Nice to meet you, Jacquie," he says, and she beams back at him.
Dinner is uneventful. It's not calm, because dinner is never calm when there are four kids under the age of thirteen present, but it's comfortable. Kurt feels at ease in the company, the food is delicious, and he's enthralled by the changes in Sebastian. He's so much more open, laughing and smiling – genuine smiles, not smirks – than he is any other time. Kurt can't even bring himself to feel hurt by not being able to bring out this side in Sebastian because he's so fascinated. He likes it too much, he wants Sebastian to have this.
Kurt insists on helping with the dishes between the main course and dessert, leaving him alone in the kitchen with John.
"So, you've been dating for a while?" John asks as he sets the plates in the dishwasher, and Kurt suddenly realizes that this must be exactly how Sebastian felt when Kurt left him alone with his dad for a few minutes at Thanksgiving.
"Yes," he croaks, then clears his throat and repeats himself. "Five months."
John grabs the plates Kurt hands him and smiles gently. "Relax, kid. I'm happy for him. For you." He sets the plates down in the rack, closes the dishwasher and turns it on, then leans back against it. "Just… He's got an attitude, as I'm sure you've noticed. And it's not—" John breaks off and grabs the dish towel to wipe his hands. He takes a breath. "Just take care of him, will you? He thinks he does a great job of taking care of himself, but he's really not." John's eyes flicker to the doorway to the dining room where the conversation is still running high. "We've always been close. He's always been close to us, and this is the first time he's introduced us to someone, in twenty-three years. I don't know if you know, Kurt, but you're special to him."
Kurt's breath hitches. He thinks of Sebastian in high school, thinks of Sebastian now. Thinks of late night movie dates, thinks of wine on wednesday evenings. Thinks of gentle hands on his back, across his thighs, nimble fingers on his waist and ribs. Thinks of Sebastian bringing him coffee when his eyes are burning from revising, thinks of Sebastian calmly explaining to a hysterical Rachel that he's not interested in hurting Kurt. Thinks of Kurt Hummel is in a relationship with Sebastian Smythe, and he knows.
"Yeah, I've… kind of guessed," he says hoarsely, blinking to get rid of the burning in his eyes. John smiles and nods, pleased with himself.
After dessert, Eric brings out his violin and insists in performing the same piece he's going to perform on his school's Christmas show. Kurt is once again blown away at how good it sounds, even more this time because this is a ten-year old who's playing Silent Night flawlessly on violin. He glances at Sebastian, who's looking so proud that Kurt's heart swells at the sight of him.
Eric barely finishes the last note before one of the other kids looks out the window, points, and yells "It's snowing!"
Fifteen minutes later, Kurt is outside, watching Sebastian build a snowman with three kids, while he himself is standing huddled against the wall with Jacquie. Kurt can see that she's itching to go and play with her brother and cousins, but for some reason she has taken a liking to Kurt and insists on standing next to him, talking about fashion, boys and school. He tries to keep up when she switches between subjects, and tries to talk to her like an equal, not a kid, and he's so focused on talking about her that he almost misses it when she asks him "Are you in love with Sebastian?"
Kurt glances at her, then shifts his gaze to look at Sebastian instead. His boyfriend is currently chasing a seven-year old around the dim, snow covered backyard, both laughing when he catches her and swings her around. Kurt can't help but cringe at the mud catching on Sebastian's pants from her shoes. He feels Jacquie's questioning eyes on him, and he thinks about before, in the church, and then in the kitchen. They haven't breached the subject of love yet, him and Sebastian. Just being in a relationship is big enough for both of them, but especially to Sebastian, and Kurt doesn't need to hear those three words this time around. Not yet.
But he feels them. He looks at Sebastian and he just knows that yes, he's in love with him.
"Yes," he says to Jacquie, never taking his eyes off of Sebastian. "I am."
He knows that she doesn't really understand the implication of the word, that she doesn't realize just how big of a deal it is when you're older, but she still smiles happily and slides her hand into Kurt's.
"Good," she says. "I think he's in love with you too."
Sebastian declines the offer of hot chocolate and dry clothes, insisting that they need to get home, but promising that they'll come back, soon. John and Gaby make Kurt promise too, which he happily does.
Sebastian grabs Kurt's hand as they walk down to the gate and then out onto the street. It's completely dark now and the lights in the windows are more visible than they were a couple of hours earlier.
"Do you mind if we walk to the next station?" Sebastian asks, his breath clouding around him. Kurt shrugs. He's not wet, just a bit cold, but a walk will warm him up.
Sebastian leads him along the streets. It's a quiet Sunday night and the snow is still falling. They pass a couple of houses with lights on the roofs and in the trees, but overall the decorations are pretty subdued in this neighborhood, focusing mostly on the lights in the windows.
They don't talk, they walk in silence, but it's not awkward or uncomfortable. Suddenly Sebastian stops, almost making Kurt trip on his own feet, but he pulls Kurt close and kisses him before he even has time to catch his breath. It's slow and sensual and it's so full of emotion that Kurt almost chokes up. They've never kissed like this before.
"What was that for?" he whispers when they break apart. He's still close enough to make out the snowflakes in Sebastian's eyelashes, their breaths mingling in the cold air. Sebastian shrugs.
"Just… thank you. For today."
Kurt kisses him again. "No problem," he says, winding his arms around Sebastian's waist and nosing up his jaw before settling his head against the curve of Sebastian's neck.
It's too cold to be standing on a street in the middle of December, but they're both warm and they're pressed close together.
"I love you," Kurt mumbles into Sebastian's knitted scarf. He feels Sebastian tense against him and he starts to pull away, but Sebastian's grip around his shoulders tightens and makes him stay close. There's a press of lips against his hair and deep breaths against his scalp and Kurt really doesn't expect to hear anything back, doesn't need to hear anything back, he's happy just letting Sebastian know that this is how he feels. But then there's a low I love you too against his cheek, and there's no use in denying the surge of happiness that flows through Kurt at that, the warmth that fills him enough to make him wonder why the snow around them doesn't melt away. He bends his head up to kiss Sebastian again and it's a little more desperate this time, a little more intense, but it's perfect.