"... and with that, ladies and gentlemen, dear members of the jury, I would like to end this presentation. I thank you for your attention, and will now take your questions."

The applause is deafening, but there's nobody clapping harder than Kurt, beaming with pride as he watches how Sebastian makes a small, almost shy bow, and then takes a sip of his little bottle of water, grinning when he catches Kurt's encouraging wink. They're not quite done yet, though, but it surprises no one when Sebastian easily breezes through the question round, and soon enough the president of the jury finally declares that from now on Sebastian Eric Smythe can rightfully call himself a Doctor of Science.

It's taken six years for Sebastian to get where he is now - first to get back into college and finish his degree, then to find a scholarship, and then to do the actual PhD. It's taken almost as long for Kurt and Sebastian to where they are now - happy, and together.

They even have a cat.

It wasn't an easy road. In fact, finding a way to harmonize their opposing views on relationships was probably one of the hardest things either of them ever accomplished - PhD included. And even if Jolene denies it every time he hints at it, Kurt is sure that she is responsible for them even trying, by manipulating Sebastian's schedule so as to maximize the number of times they 'accidentally' ran into each other on the work floor.

It's really hard to stay away from the person you love when they're constantly around, and when you end up either in bed or curled up on a couch together watching a movie nearly every time you see each other, there comes a time when you need to reevaluate your 'friendship'. Getting back together had been the easy part, though. Staying together, on the other hand...

"Hello, darling of mine," Sebastian's voice whispers in Kurt's ear as his arms close around him from behind, and Kurt closes his eyes as he lets himself melt back in the embrace, forgetting for a moment that they're in the middle of a reception in Sebastian's honor.

"Hello, doctor of mine," he murmurs back, smiling. "How are you on this fine day?"

"I am excellent, thank you. Yourself?"

"Unbearable chest pains, I'm afraid to say," Kurt admits, "I fear my heart might pop out any minute now. Too much pride, I believe."

"Now that does sound like a serious condition," Sebastian says gravely, always quick to jump on the roleplaying bandwagon, as he lets his hands wander over Kurt's chest. "Do you think you might survive for a little longer as I politely hang out with the venerable albeit boring members of my jury? I promise I'll take a... thorough... look at it later..."

He teasingly bites down at the basis of Kurt's neck, and Kurt jumps, pushing Sebastian off him.

"Stop that!" he admonishes, though he can't help laughing. "And just go already, I'll be right here waiting for you."

Sebastian gives him a kiss instead, but then he is gone, leaving Kurt surrounded by friends and colleagues of Sebastian that he's never met before... and him.

"Hello, Kurt."

His French accent is only barely noticeable anymore, but apart from that he hasn't changed much: his black hair is still too long and too messy, there is a stain of pink paint peaking out from under his sleeve, and Kurt is prepared to bet the clothes he's wearing are the exact same ones he had on when Kurt last saw him all those years ago.


It was easier when he didn't have to see Pierre, when he stayed on his own side of the ocean and he was just something Kurt had to deal with once or twice a year, whenever Sebastian would get restless and needed to both get rid off some energy and stock up on it.

Pierre drives me crazy, but you're the one who keeps me sane, is how Sebastian usually describes the arrangement they'd finally settled on, and even if Kurt still considers himself the crazy one when he thinks about it rationally - it just... works. A round trip to Paris has the same effect on Sebastian as a full body massage on a normal person, both relaxing and energizing him in a way Kurt just doesn't know how to, but if he ever gets nervous this time around Sebastian might not come back to him, all he has to do is ask how Pierre is doing.

He burnt the spaghetti, Kurt, Sebastian would e-mail him then, the only thing he has to do is to put it in a big pot of boiling water and wait, and he burns it. This is why he's vegan - condemned to a life of eating raw vegetables because he can't cook to save his life. Literally. Or he'd text: He's trying to kill me. It's minus four out, it's snowing and he's taking me out on a drawing trip. If you haven't heard from me by six your time, send help. I love you.

And when he comes back, full of new stories, each one crazier than the next, Kurt picks him up at the airport, takes him home, and nurses him back to sanity. Until the normalcy and routine of day-to-day life in turn make Sebastian restless again and he jumps on the next plane to Paris to stock up on crazy, and the cycle can start all over.

"I just... I guess I just want to come and say thank you," Pierre says a little off-handedly, taking Kurt by surprise, and it takes him a moment before he understands what Pierre means.

"I didn't agree to it for your sake," he finally says, probably a little surlier than strictly necessary, but Pierre doesn't seem to take any offense.

"I know," he says. "I know. But you still do it, and you do not have to. Sébastien is... very important to me, and I want that you know I really, really appreciate it."

Kurt doesn't even know what to say to that - what is the right protocol when your boyfriend's lover personally thanks you for... being allowed second place? Pierre seems to take his silence as a sign, though, and he awkwardly points behind him.

"But-uhm... yeah. I will-uh... I will go now."

"Oh, no - please, you don't have to-" Kurt catches himself only just in time to keep from grabbing Pierre by the arm -because that would be weird- and after a deep breath he tries again. "We can talk. If you want. I mean, it's not like I know any of these other science weirdos here, and I think I've already taken all the proud parent talk I can handle for one evening."

He nods towards the other side of the room, where Sebastian's mother and father are enthusiastically chatting to a bored-looking jury member who seems desperate to get out of the conversation.

"His dad looks like a hotdog eating champion or something," is Pierre's dry remark as he follows Kurt's line of sight, and Kurt realizes this is probably the first time he sees Sebastian's parents. "But good thing baldness runs along the female line at least, was not looking forward to that."

Kurt raises an eyebrow.

"I didn't know you had such an interest in science?" he asks and Pierre rolls his eyes.

"Please," he says, "I could not care less. But there is a guy I know who visit me once in a while and he constantly spews random scientific facts and-"

"Oh my god he does that with you too?" Kurt gasps. "It's-"

"-so annoying!"

They both say it at the same time, and then promptly burst out laughing together. They're still recovering their breaths and chuckling a little when Kurt catches Sebastian watching them, a surprised look on his face. But as soon as he notices Kurt and Pierre looking back at him the look is gone, replaced by a cocky smirk, and he puts up three fingers, raising his eyebrows questioningly as he makes a circular movement with his hand.

"Still obsessed with threesomes, I see," Pierre sighs, plastering a big innocent smile on his face as he shakes his head at Sebastian, and then turns towards Kurt. "Do not, under any circumstance, let him trick you into one. He will find a way to be the center of attention and it will be all work no play for you."

"Oh I know," Kurt tells him even as he gives Sebastian a little wave of his finger and a smile identical to Pierre's, "trust me, I know."

He's never been able to really tell anyone about the little experiment he so foolishly had proposed all those years ago -even talking to Jolene about it had felt weird-, but he tells it to Pierre now, making him laugh as he talks about Sebastian's excitement and his own indignation, and they're still talking when Sebastian joins them when the jury members have finally gone home, and the reception starts dwindling down.

"Having fun?" he asks, and Kurt and Pierre exchange a look.

"Collecting blackmailing material," Kurt says matter-of-factly. "It appears you don't stomach Belgian beer too well?"

"Pépé..." Sebastian starts, and Kurt's pleasantly surprised to discover a hint of uncertainty behind the playfulness Sebastian is simulating. Pierre, however, just raises his hands innocently.

"You say do not tell anyone," he says. "I do not tell anyone. I just show pictures."

"I... think it's time we're going home," Sebastian says as he claps in his hands and plasters on a smile. "Kurt?"

"Right behind you," Kurt says, dropping his empty glass on a table nearby and searching his pockets for the cloakroom ticket.

Pierre does the same, following them as they get their jackets and shrug them on.

"Pépé - I'll see you tomorrow," Sebastian says, giving the other man a tight hug. "I'll pick you up at your hotel at, what, nine?"

"Ten," Pierre immediately amends, and Sebastian rolls his eyes.

"The Met opens at nine thirty," he says sternly. "I'll pick you up at nine. Take care... je t'aime."

"Je t'aime," Pierre responds, closing his eyes as Sebastian presses a kiss against his forehead, and with one final squeeze in Sebastian's hand he waves them goodbye, starting down the street to flag down a taxi.

"I can call him back, you know," Sebastian says behind Kurt as he watches him go. "You seemed to get along better than last time, I'm sure we could-"

"Not a chance, Sebastian," Kurt says, snaking his arms around Sebastian's neck. "Not. a. chance."

Sebastian doesn't even bother to pretend he's disappointed, kissing Kurt instead, and holding him tight.

"Well then, where to?" he asks, and Kurt doesn't hesitate.

"Home," he says. "I want to go home."

There's a smile curling around Sebastian's lips, but he nods anyway, offering Kurt his arm as they go search for a taxi. They can still see Pierre's silhouette, his untamed hair waving in the wind of the cars that rush him by, and Kurt's not surprised to find that, unlike six years ago, he doesn't secretly hope Pierre will actually get run over. Because, sure, Pierre might be taking Sebastian away from him from time to time.

But Sebastian's heart?

That belonged to Kurt, and to Kurt alone.

I... first of all, if any of you make it this far - I would like to thank you; and I sincerely hope you liked it, despite its unorthodox ending (or maybe because of it?). The fic was the result of six months of brooding and writing, and then three weeks of frantically rewriting everything, and I really hope I was able to entertain you in some way, and maybe get you to think about a few things. A lot of work went into it all, so if you could spare me a moment to share your thoughts, that would be awesome.

Once again though, thank you for reading this all the way through; I sincerely hope you enjoyed it and you were maybe able to take something away from it, and I wish you a good day!
-aworldoflis (letmegiveyoumynumbah on Tumblr)