“Kurt’s back in town.”
Blaine looks up sharply from the coffee he had until this moment been thoroughly enjoying.
“He wants to see you,” Rachel continues. She’s fidgeting with her own cup, not quite looking at him, like she’s not sure what she should be doing. “He says he wants to fix things.”
Blaine picks up his coffee, puts it back down, clears his throat, mind racing. “Fix things?” he says finally. “What does that mean?”
“You should probably just talk to him.”
“Rachel,” he says, and she must hear that he’s freaking out because she finally looks up at him with a sigh.
“He wants you back,” she says simply and Blaine hates how his heart leaps at the words. “He’s going to be in Lima for the rest of the semester helping me run the glee club as part of his work study for NYADA.”
She’s guilty, Blaine realizes. It was less than a week ago that he and Rachel were sitting at this very table, promising you and me, together, but now Kurt’s back and it’s going to be the two of them planning to take on the world with Blaine on the outside, just like high school, just like New York.
He forces a smile. “That’s great, Rachel.”
She nods, shifting awkwardly in her seat as she brushes her hair back behind her ear. “So um, what should I tell Kurt?
“Do you think he’s serious?”
Rachel hesitates before answering, which is answer enough. He knows she’s on Kurt’s side, that she wants them to get back together, but he’s glad she still has enough loyalty to him not to lie. “He says he is,” she says finally. “I did ask if it was just because he’s lonely without all of us in New York and he said absolutely not.” But she’s not sure. She wouldn’t have asked if she was sure.
It’s such a bad idea. For months he had been caught between never wanting to see Kurt’s face again and wanting it more than anything and he was finally free of that. He was finally moving on. And now... “I guess it can’t hurt to hear what he has to say.”
Rachel nods, smiling in relief that she won’t have to be the bearer of bad news. “Okay. I’ll set it up.”
Kurt is already at Scandals when Blaine gets there, sitting straight backed at the bar. Why am I always the first one to arrive? he hears, sharp in his head. There was a time when he’d spend hours replaying the entire argument, lying in bed when he should have been in class, and that’s always how it starts. Arriving at the restaurant, giddy with excitement over the wedding, and then those words like a bucket of cold water.
It moves him forward, driving all apology out of his tone as he says, “Hi! I hope you weren’t waiting long.”
“No, no! Hi!” Kurt says, bright and flustered. There’s an awkward moment where neither of them is sure if or how they should hug each other, but they work it out and Blaine takes the seat next to him.
“I- I appreciate you coming to see me,” Kurt says. “I would understand if you had told me to screw off.” Kurt hasn’t been this nervous around him since Dalton, the new kid looking at Blaine with stars in his eyes.
Automatically he tries to reassure him. “No! No, no. I wanted to see you.”
“Well, I - I’m here to get you back,” Kurt says, stumbling over the words. “I don’t mean to blurt it out like that but for the sake of clarity you should know that first I’m going to get your forgiveness, and then I’m gonna get your heart back.” It’s clearly something he’s practiced, though the delivery is anything but smooth. Blaine can picture him trying out the words in the mirror, reciting them in his head as he waited for Blaine at the bar, determined to be clear, to show he took Blaine’s words about not being truthful to heart. It’s endearing, the picture of it. Sweet.
Blaine’s going to take him back. Maybe not tonight, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Someday soon. He won’t be able to help himself. The memory of the pain and heartbreak that gave him the strength to say “I will never forgive you for this,” is already fading under Kurt’s earnest hopefulness. Blaine is going to forgive him and just as inevitably he’s going to get his heart broken. And he can’t, not again, so he says the first thing he can think of to stop this in its tracks.
“I’m seeing someone.” Kurt’s smile freezes, hand withdrawing from where he’d moved it to cover Blaine’s resting on the bar. “Sorry, I just thought I should tell you in person.”
“Oh, um, wow.” He’s still holding on to his smile, eyes bright. “Anybody I’d know?” he asks, no doubt mentally flipping though the scant list of eligible gays in Lima.
Maybe it’s because the Warblers’ rendition of Want You Back has been stuck in his head since Rachel said the words, or because he can practically hear Kurt begging him not to say it, but there’s only one name he can think to give. “It’s Sebastian. Sebastian Smythe.”
Kurt is nodding. He looks like he’s going to be sick. “Really. How- how did that happen?”
“I ran into him here, actually,” Blaine says, looking around the bar. “He was home for the summer working for his dad. We got to talking, started hanging out and then...” he shrugs, trailing off.
The thing is, he’s not even lying. He did run into Sebastian, they did hang out, but the ‘and then...’ consisted only of a promise to keep in touch that Blaine hasn’t had the courage to follow up on. And of course Kurt believes it. All Blaine is doing is confirming his worst fears.
“But he’s not here now, right,” Kurt says, still trying to smile. “He’s back at.. wherever it is he goes to school.”
Blaine nods. “NYU.”
“And how’s that going?” he asks, head tilted, voice too sharp to be friendly. “I know you have trouble with long distance.”
He regrets it as soon as he says it, Blaine can see that. But he did say it, and he meant it to hurt. It’s all Blaine needs to wipe away whatever guilt he had over lying.
“It’s going great,” he says. “And I’m actually applying to transfer to NYU for spring semester so if all goes well we won’t be long distance for long.” That’s true too - he’d been half heartedly working on the application, just as something to point to whenever his parents asked with gentle concern about his future plans, but he’s definitely going to finish it now.
“You’ll get in,” Kurt says, almost managing not to sound bitter.
“I know this isn’t what you wanted,” Blaine says carefully. “But I hope we can be adults about it.”
“Of course.” He’s barely holding it together; all the cool aloofness from their break up, from the majority of their relationship, is gone and now Blaine’s the one with the upper hand. It’s more a relief than a victory. “Excuse me, I have to go use the restroom.”
Kurt slips off his stool and walks away as quickly as possible through the crowd. He’s gone a long time.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were dating Sebastian?” Rachel demands on the phone the next morning.
“Because I knew you’d tell Kurt and I thought it should come from me,” Blaine says, having already settled on the most plausible lie.
“You should have let me warn him,” she reproaches. “He was devastated.”
So was I. “I didn’t mean to hurt him,” he says. “But he’s had months to reach out to me. I won’t apologize for moving on.”
“You were just so good together,” she says wistfully. Were we? “And Sebastian’s so-”
He doesn’t hear from Kurt at all over the next week. He doesn’t hear from anyone, though Facebook tells him most of his former classmates are flooding back into town for homecoming. At least he doesn’t have to explain himself.
Instead he buries himself in work at good old dependable Dalton. Admittedly, he doesn’t react as well as he could have to the news that the school has made the unprecedented move of enrolling a girl, a girl who is now his problem as she wants to join the Warblers, but he sucks it up and reaches out to Rachel to help her with the audition.
Which was a mistake. The girl, Jane, is good, really good, and apparently Rachel can’t be trusted with that information. They had explicitly said no poaching, back when it had been just the two of them, but of course now that Kurt’s back all bets are off. After fighting for Jane with the Warbler Council, then with the Board of Directors, after threatening to quit his job if they didn’t accept her, she tells him it doesn’t matter because she’s transferring to McKinley to join their glee club.
For the first time in a long time he had felt like he was actually doing something, like he had a chance to make a real difference, and Rachel and Kurt had snatched it away.
He storms over to McKinley to yell at them but of course Rachel claims it’s not poaching because Jane came to her. “What did you expect me to do, say no?” she asks as if it’s unreasonable to expect her to keep her promises, which, yeah, apparently it is.
“Blaine, you have a full team,” Kurt says in his calm down you’re being ridiculous voice, “and god knows how many other students at Dalton that would kill to join.”
“Don’t act all cool and loving about this, Kurt,” Blaine says, forcing his voice to be level and composed. “I’m sure you’re very happy about this. I wouldn’t be surprised if you made it all happen after hearing about Sebastian.”
Kurt looks at Rachel like he can’t believe what he’s hearing and they exchange infuriating little eye rolls.
“This whole friendly competition thing?” Blaine says, backing away as dramatically as possible, “It’s over.”
He’s still fuming when he gets back to Dalton, students scattering as he blows past.
“Well aren’t you working the hot teacher look.”
Blaine’s brought up short by the familiar voice, looking up to see its owner descending Dalton’s sweeping staircase.
“The one and only.” Sebastian joins him at the foot of the stairs, hands in the pockets of his peacoat. He’s smiling and with a start Blaine realizes he is too.
“What are you doing here?”
Sebastian gives an exaggerated shrug, clearly enjoying whatever he’s about to say. “I didn’t have anything going on this weekend, so I figured I’d fly out and visit my boyfriend.”
Blaine has a moment of unwarranted disappointment that Sebastian has a boyfriend before he notices the way Sebastian’s looking at him, like he’s seconds away from laughing. Oh god. He knows. Merely invoking his name to Kurt has summoned him like a demon.
He swallows. “Boyfriend, huh?”
“That’s what Hummel tells me.”
“Kurt called you?” Blaine says, horrified.
“Wanted to make sure I knew I’m not good enough for you.”
Blaine is going to die of embarrassment. “What did you say?”
“Say? I laughed, hung up on him, and flew out here to rub it in his face.” He falters at Blaine’s expression, which must be ghastly. “That’s what you wanted, right?”
He honestly hadn’t intended anything of the sort, but seeing Sebastian right in front of him, “Yeah, that’s perfect.”
Sebastian grins. “So what’s the plan? Where are we showing off this evening?”
“Your timing’s pretty perfect actually,” Blaine says, starting down the hall towards his office so they aren’t blocking the staircase. “McKinley’s homecoming is tonight.”
“And what exactly does that entail?” Sebastian asks, falling into step beside him. It feels good, walking these halls together. Students wave as they go by, falling into excited whispers once they’ve passed.
“It’s a big football game. A lot of alums come back for it.”
“Ah, I was wondering what Hummel was doing in town.”
“Everyone’s in town. They’ve been here all week.”
“They’re not even out of college and they’re already that desperate to relive their high school glory days?” Sebastian scoffs.
Walking the familiar halls doesn’t feel so fun all of a sudden. That’s what he’s doing right? Going back to the place everyone adores him to relive his glory days. Pathetic.
“Oh come on, you know I don’t mean you,” Sebastian says when Blaine doesn’t respond.
“Why not? It’s true.”
“Your glory days have yet to come.” He sounds so sure. Blaine can’t imagine what he did to inspire such confidence.
“I’m a college dropout living with his parents,” he points out.
“You’re taking a gap year working a paid position at a prestigious private school,” Sebastian counters. “A position you got without a degree or any teaching experience. You’ll be fine.”
“Well, when you put it like that,” Blaine says with a faint smile.
“You’re not actually worried you’re going to get stuck here, are you?” Sebastian asks, brow furrowed.
“No. Sometimes. It’d be so easy.” After all, that’s why Dalton is so comforting - nothing ever changes. Not even for the better he realizes with a rueful thought of Jane.
Sebastian shakes his head. “Not when you’ve got a hot boyfriend waiting for you in New York.”
Blaine rolls his eyes to hide his embarrassment. “Right. My very real boyfriend who I definitely did not make up.”
“In the flesh.” He’s enjoying this way too much. He always had delighted in pulling Kurt’s proverbial pigtails.
They reach Blaine’s office and he pauses outside the door. “I actually do have some work to do this afternoon.”
“I don’t mind hanging out. See how the Warblers are getting on without me.”
The thought of the Warblers welcoming Sebastian back with open arms after everything he’d done to tarnish their name, mere days after refusing Jane simply because she was a girl, turns his stomach. The prospect of spending the whole afternoon with him, laughing and flirting like it’s real, like this is his actual life, is even worse. “I’m just figuring out some song arrangements,” he says hurriedly. “It’ll be boring.”
“Oh. Okay. I’ll uh, go grab some coffee. Meet up with you later?”
“Pick me up at seven?” Blaine offers.
Sebastian nods and gives him a smile that makes Blaine want to beg him to stay. “See you then.”
“So what’s our story?”
“Huh?” Blaine says, looking up from buckling his seat belt.
Sebastian pulls away from Blaine’s house, setting down the familiar route to the high school. “You know, how we got together. What did you tell Kurt?”
Since the afternoon, Blaine’s managed to gather himself enough to be grateful that Sebastian’s taken to the whole thing rather than mortified. It’s good he wants to be prepared. “Pretty much the truth. You were here over the summer, we hung out, and... yeah.”
“We need more details than that,” Sebastian says, glancing at him with a conspiratorial smile. “Come on, how long did it take? Where did it happen? Who made the first move?”
Blaine pretends to be contemplating while he suffers through another minor freak out. Anything he can think of sounds too honest. Sebastian is waiting so he starts with the easiest part. “We should stay it started early, so we had a decent amount of time together before we had to go long distance.”
“How about that day we went to Chicago?”
That was exactly what Blaine had been thinking. Everything had felt possible that day. There had even been a moment, at the very end when Sebastian was dropping him off, where he’d thought...
He nods. “Chicago. You made the first move.”
“Why me?” He sounds surprised, as if he hasn’t been the pursuer in their relationship thus far.
“I was too nervous. Would have been,” he corrects, which definitely makes the slip worse.
Thankfully Sebastian doesn’t call him on it, just nodding. “Alright then."
“Oh, and I told Kurt I’m applying to NYU.”
“Aw, for me?”
“Obviously,” he says, matching his teasing tone and hoping Sebastian can’t see him flush. “You like it there, right?”
“Yeah, it’s great.”
“Well you’ll have to show me around.”
“Wait, you’re actually coming?”
“Sent in the application a few days ago.”
“Holy shit.” He sounds delighted.
“I’ll be starting in the spring. If I get in,” he amends.
Sebastian shakes his head, laughing. “We are going to have so much fun.”
It doesn’t seem real to Blaine, not something that might actually happen, but tonight is a night of pretending, so he laughs along and lets himself believe it.
They stand together at the edge of the field, surveying the madness.
“Are those books?” Sebastian asks, staring at the enormous bonfire with mild horror.
“Oh, yeah, everyone was supposed to bring two to throw on the pile.” He’d brought some of his old McKinley textbooks, written in the 70s and wildly outdated. “I’m sure it’ll be fine if you use one of mine.”
“So this is what public school is like.”
“I don’t think so. From what I can tell, McKinley is special.”
“Not the word I would use, but sure.”
They begin moving through the crowd and Blaine spots several of his old classmates laughing and singing, enjoying the festivities. Tina and Artie catch his eye and wave, faltering when they see who he’s with.
“Am I about to get burned at the stake for not wearing red?”
Blaine glances around and notices that there are in fact several people completely unaffiliated with the New Directions staring at Sebastian. “Here,” he says, undoing his red bow tie and looping it around Sebastian’s neck. “Now you’re safe.” It had been overkill paired with his red waistcoat anyway.
“My hero,” Sebastian says with a grin that makes Blaine very aware of how close they are. Something to the side catches Sebastian’s eye and his smile becomes a little wider, a little less genuine. “Nice one.”
Blaine follows his gaze and sees Rachel and Kurt watching them from the edge of a group of their dancing classmates. She puts a comforting hand on his arm and Blaine looks away.
“Thank you for being here. I don’t think I said that earlier.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Sebastian says. They’re still standing so close. Without even thinking about it Blaine reaches out to fiddle with the end of the bow tie, contemplating whether he should actually tie it.
“Seriously though. I probably wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for you.”
“Yeah, it would have been a real shame to miss this.”
“Oh come on, it’s a cultural experience.”
Sebastian snorts. “Sure. Let’s go burn some books.”
Principal Sylvester yells nonsense through a megaphone as they make their way to the bonfire and rid themselves of Blaine’s textbooks. Sam dashes up with a hug for Blaine and a confused “Oh, hey man,” for Sebastian, before returning to his nebulous football duties. Blaine has been dreading this all week, but it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of things now he’s here. Having Sebastian’s growing incredulity to entertain him helps too.
Sebastian departs on a quest to find alcohol while Blaine scopes out a good place for them to watch the fireworks. He ends up back towards the edge of the field and after texting Sebastian where to find him, settles in to wait, watching flaming pages float up from the bonfire and dissolve into ash.
He doesn’t notice Kurt until he’s right next to him and doesn’t have to exaggerate his dramatic step back of surprise.
“Hi, sorry to startle you.” When Blaine doesn’t say anything he continues, “I just wanted to tell you I wasn’t involved in the whole Jane thing. I swear, I had no idea she even existed until you came by this afternoon.”
“Okay,” Blaine says. He’s not mad about it anymore, not really, but it’s not like this information changes anything. “It’s fine. We’ll beat you fair and square at Sectionals either way.”
Kurt’s eyebrows raise in mock surprise. “Fair and square, huh? I wasn’t sure if the Warblers still understood the concept after your boyfriend had his way with them.”
It’s not not fair, but Kurt doesn’t have the right to say it. He never really cared about the Warblers, never understood why they were so important to Blaine.
“You want to talk about Sebastian? Fine. Calling him behind my back was totally out of line.”
“I was just trying to look out for you!” Kurt says, his impatience familiar from so many past fights, all of them ending with Blaine feeling like it was his fault for being upset in the first place. “It's not like I’m some psycho ex. I wouldn’t have done it if it was anybody else.”
“I get to choose who I date, not you. You had no right to try and sabotage my relationship.”
“As your friend who cares about you, I do have a right to be worried that you’re dating someone who almost blinded you!”
“Did you think I forgot? Obviously I’ve forgiven him for that!” Kurt opens his mouth to object but Blaine cuts him off. “I’ve moved on and I’m happy. Can’t you just let me be?” As he says it, it surprises him how true it sounds. He wants it to be true. He wants all of it to be true.
Kurt looks uncomfortably close to tears and only manages to nod before speed walking away.
Distantly, Blaine feels bad for him but he's now much more focused on his own feelings. He sends a text asking Sebastian where he is, getting jittery with nerves and the cold.
After a few minutes with no response he begins to get concerned, abandoning his spot to search for Sebastian in the crowd, needing to find him, needing to tell him - tell him what? Sure, Sebastian was happy to come home for a weekend of pissing off Kurt and teasing Blaine, but he’s got a whole life back in New York. He doesn’t actually want to date him - if he did he would have called, would have kissed him that night after Chicago. It’s not like he’s ever been shy.
Blaine spots a familiar silhouette headed towards the parking lot and sets off after him, walk increasing to a run when Sebastian doesn’t hear him call out. By the time he catches up to him he’s slightly breathless and most of the way to Sebastian’s car. “Hey, what are you doing out here? I was waiting.”
It’s so dark and quiet compared to the football field. He can barely see Sebastian’s expression he says, “I’m heading out. This isn’t really my scene.”
“But you’re my ride,” Blaine says, scrambling to figure out what happened, what he did wrong. He hadn’t expected Sebastian to get bored this quickly.
“I figured you could get a ride home with Hummel,” he says with a shrug.
Blaine frowns. “Did he say something to you?”
“No, he’s stuck with glaring at me from a distance.”
“Then what happened?”
“Who says anything happened?”
Blaine exhales in frustrated disbelief. “Okay, so you’re just ditching me for no reason.”
Sebastian shakes his head. “It’s nothing. I ran into one of the glee kids and they mentioned Kurt’s one of their coaches.”
“And, I thought he was just here for the weekend, not to stay.”
Sebastian doesn’t elaborate and Blaine is even more confused than before. “So what? Who cares?”
“I just misunderstood,” Sebastian spits out, like this is the last thing he wants to be doing. “I thought this was a show off how well you’re doing thing, not a make Kurt jealous so you can get him back thing.”
Something important is happening but in the midst of processing all Blaine can think to say is, “Kurt already wants me back.”
“No, I mean, when he got back to town he told me he wanted me back and that’s when I told him I was dating you.” He’s jealous, Blaine thinks with a thrill.
Sebastian is quiet for a long moment. “Why?”
“Because I knew he wouldn’t let it go and I don’t exactly have the best self control, so it seemed safest to just say I was taken.” It seems so pathetic now that he’s said it.
“But why me? Why not some made up person he couldn’t call to check up on?”
“You were the first person I thought of.” It’s a statement that’s easy to read into, but that’s okay. Blaine wants him to read into it.
Sebastian’s next huff of breath almost sounds like a laugh. “You know, you could have just called.” He’s being flippant but still, it’s a question more than a statement.
“I thought you’d be too busy.” Kurt had always been busy. Every time Blaine picked up the phone he was reminded of his senior year, all those unanswered texts and calls that went straight to voicemail. “You’ve got school and a life and I’m just some loser drop out you hung out with over the summer.”
Sebastian frowns. “That’s not how I see you.”
“Well you could have called me too you know,” Blaine says, scuffing his feet.
“Given our history, I thought I should let you make the first move.”
He gets it then, and wow has it taken him an embarrassingly long time. Sebastian’s just been standing there, waiting, for months now. Years maybe. And finally, Blaine steps forward.
He pauses mere inches away. At this distance he hear the hitch in Sebastian’s breath and his heart rate spikes at the sound. He leans in, rising a little on his toes, lips just ghosting over Sebastian’s, then suddenly-
They startle apart as the crack of a firework explodes above their heads. There’s a moment of stunned silence as it fizzles out, then the fireworks show starts in earnest and they both start laughing.
“You almost timed that perfectly,” Sebastian says face lit green, then pink by the fireworks.
“I think I got it right.”
Sebastian’s still smiling when Blaine kisses him, hands settling on his hips as Blaine loops his arms around his neck. It feels like a scene from a movie, but one nobody’s watching. One that's just for them.