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In Repair

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Art by @seblaineaddict

***

Blaine stood in the aisle of Dunham Sports trying to decide whether to go with a classic pair of white Nike’s or spring for the much flashier hot pink kicks with the neon green sole. It had been months since he’d done anything even remotely physical, unless you counted all the times he’d gone down the stairs to the kitchen, and then back up again to his bedroom, arms laden with snacks for his Netflix binge du jour. His therapist had been gently urging him to reintroduce some of his former hobbies into his life, and if they required him to get moving and out of the house all the better. After breaking up with Kurt (or being broken up with, as the case may be) Blaine hadn’t felt like doing much of anything, and exercise had pretty quickly fallen to the bottom of the list.

“Just pick one,” he mumbled to himself.

Along with a steady decline in the desire to leave the comfort of his own bed, Blaine’s decision-making skills had also taken a bit of a hit – how could they not? He’d thought he’d had every detail of his future planned out from what pattern wallpaper he and Kurt would have in their master bathroom (an azure blue Franco Scalamandré zebra design) to whether they would send their kids to public or private school (private, obviously). But if he could be wrong about something that had seemed so certain at the time, if he no longer knew what his future happiness entailed, how could he trust himself to be right about anything? As such, he’d started doubting all of his decisions, big and small, leaving him frustrated and hesitant to commit, even to something as mundane as footwear. With a sigh (and in an effort to stave off some sort of existential crisis in the middle of a sporting goods store), Blaine determinedly picked up the brightly colored pair and made his way towards the cashier, excited to be able to tell his therapist about his win, small though it may be. As he rounded the corner, he bumped into the last person he ever expected to see back in Ohio.

“Jesus, watch where you’re – killer?”

It took Blaine a few seconds for his brain to register anything other than shock, yet there he stood: Sebastian Smythe, former friend and sometimes nemesis, looking handsome as ever (though more dressed down than Blaine had ever seen him) in a low-slung pair of faded denim and a plain white V-neck, hair casually mussed in a way that Blaine had never been able to achieve with his own locks. He felt a familiar fluttering in his belly that always seemed to accompany an interaction with Sebastian, though it was a sensation he’d almost forgotten existed. Almost. The stunned look on Sebastian’s face no doubt mirrored his own, but he took a deep breath and tried to re-group.

“What are you doing here?” Blaine winced a little at how accusatory the question sounded.

If Sebastian noticed, however, he didn’t let on. “I could ask you the same thing. Where’s your inferior half?” He took a quick look around, ostensibly searching for Kurt. “Can’t say I really pegged him as the outdoorsy type, but I guess he’s campy enough to require his own tent.” Sebastian grinned at his own witticism, but it slowly slipped from his face as he took in Blaine’s countenance. “Sorry, old habits.”

Blaine waved his hand dismissively and sighed. “Sebastian, it’s fine. He’s at school in New York I would imagine – we broke up. And before you ask, no, I don’t want to talk about it.”

Sebastian looked completely shell-shocked, mouth opening and closing like a fish removed from its tank, desperately gulping for air. Blaine wasn’t sure that he’d ever seen the other boy without a quick retort, but he supposed news of this magnitude would render even the silver-tongued Sebastian Smythe speechless. He’d been there at the over-the-top proposal, after all, complete with rose petals falling from the sky and no less than four serenading show choirs, and he’d heard enough stories from their mutual Warbler buddies to know that Blaine Anderson was in love with love and would do whatever it took to remain firmly within Cupid’s embrace. It was no wonder, then, that he was so taken aback. Hell, it still surprised Blaine on the daily that he and Kurt were no longer together, and unlike Sebastian, he was privy to the whole host of problems that their story-book romance belied.

Blaine cleared his throat. “Um, I’m trying to get back in shape.” He held up his chosen sneakers as evidence of such, in answer to Sebastian’s original question.

To his credit, Sebastian recovered quickly. “Everything looks in fine form from where I’m standing,” he smirked, giving Blaine a thorough once-over. Blaine chuckled, and tried unsuccessfully to will the blush from blooming on his face.

“And what about you?” he asked, in an attempt to change the subject. Sebastian’s flatteries, while nice, often left Blaine at somewhat of a loss. It’s not like he hadn’t received compliments from other men (and the occasional woman) before, and he knew that Kurt had found him attractive, but Sebastian’s forwardness, and the assuredness with which he spoke, had always been particularly heady.

“Just picking up some last-minute things for my trip – I’m heading to Thailand next week.”

It was Blaine’s turn to gape. “Thailand? But, what about Harvard?” In their friendlier days Sebastian had gone on at length about the Smythe family legacy: Harvard, law, and from what Blaine could surmise, a propensity for women, fine cars, and even finer whiskey. Clearly some of that was not in the cards for Sebastian, but Blaine thought that his schooling, at least, was pretty firmly set in place.

“Apparently being caught using performance-enhancing drugs, even if it is for show choir, is frowned upon by the ivy elites, so I’m taking a gap year to “expand my horizons”,” he emphasized with air quotes, “which is really just code for my dad is sick of me hanging around the house. He never did get used to having me in his space.”

They hadn’t ever spoken that much about Sebastian’s relationship with his parents, but from the bits and pieces he’d been willing to share, Blaine suspected that their fathers were not all that dissimilar, and he knew first-hand how hard it was to co-exist with someone who always wanted more from you than you knew how to give.  

Blaine wasn’t sure how to respond to Sebastian’s confession, but he knew that he wasn’t ready for them to part ways just yet. “We should get coffee,” he blurted out. “I mean, unless you have other plans. Or don’t want to,” he tacked on. Blaine was keenly aware that their friendship was not what it had once been. Too much had happened for it to be as easy and light as things had started out in the beginning of junior year, but beyond all of the drama and angst a lot of the reason for their distance had been due to his own reticence. Kurt hadn’t outright demanded that he stop speaking with Sebastian, but it had just seemed easier at the time. Blaine didn’t know how to fit Sebastian (or his feelings for him, if he was being honest with himself) into his future with Kurt, and so he’d eventually stopped trying. Texts and emails went unanswered until apparently Sebastian got the hint. He had every right not to want anything to do with Blaine, but Blaine was hoping for a reprieve.

Sebastian studied him for a moment, long enough that Blaine almost rescinded his offer, but then answered with a soft smile. “Sure Blaine, I’d like that.”

***

“Come with me.”

“What?” Blaine’s head snapped up from where he’d been intently studying the new names that had been carved into the table-top since he’d last sat in that spot; couples who thought their love would last at least as long as the etching in the wood.

“You, me, Thailand. Come on, it’ll be fun!”

They’d been at the Lima Bean for the better part of an hour, catching each other up on their lives. It was mostly superficial, but it was nice, in a way, to be around someone who didn’t know every facet of Blaine’s life and how it had completely fallen apart. And judging from the fact that Sebastian was also at a tiny café in the middle of Bumfuck, Ohio on a Wednesday afternoon (when he should have been in Boston studying the finer points of the law), he felt something of a kinship beginning to form. Sebastian had just finished laying out the highlights of his travel plans when he asked the absurd.

“I’m sorry, I must be experiencing temporary hearing loss, because I thought you said I should go with you to Thailand.”

“I did,” Sebastian replied, amusement clear on his face.

Blaine huffed. “Sebastian, you can’t be serious. I can’t just pack up my life and travel half-way around the world on a whim!”

“Why not?”

“Because I have stuff to do… and, y’know, things!” Okay, so maybe he didn’t exactly have anything going on in his life at the moment that would prevent him from taking an overseas trip, but with Sebastian? They were barely even friends anymore, let alone people who would travel the world together.

“Stuff and things, huh?” Sebastian leaned forward, intent on having Blaine hear him out. “Listen Blaine, you don’t have to decide right now – I don’t leave for another week. But just… think about it? I know that you like to have everything planned out and organized down to the tiniest detail but maybe now is your chance to let life guide you where it wants, rather than forcing it where you think it should go.”

It was a little scary how well Sebastian knew Blaine, and for all of the time that had passed it seemed he still remembered some of their late-night conversations that occasionally veered from innuendos and clever banter into something decidedly more serious. When it came right down to it, Blaine knew that Sebastian was a planner, too. You had to be at least somewhat organized to keep up with Dalton’s rigorous coursework and all of Sebastian’s many extra-curriculars. But Blaine suspected that, like him, it was more than just making sure he took advantage of all that his high school years could offer, and a lot to do with the expectations of perfection that a demanding father could bestow upon his son.

“Even if – and that’s a big if – I wanted to go with you, I can’t afford a trip right now. I spent all of my savings on the move back to Lima and my parents haven’t exactly been forthcoming with funds.” In truth, his parents had been surprisingly supportive, if not financially, then emotionally. His mother especially seemed to sense that Blaine needed someone in his corner, now more than ever, and she let him be while still always being available to him should he need. They were, however, pretty firm that Blaine was to provide for himself any extras that he wanted. And a trip to Thailand definitely counted as an “extra”.

“Blaine, you’ve been to my house, yes? And seen the shiny black Porsche I drive? Money isn’t a problem… and besides I have more airmiles than I will ever be able to use in one lifetime.” While Blaine’s family was relatively well-off, Sebastian’s was rich with a capital “R”. The Warblers had held numerous parties at ‘Chez Smythe’ over the past couple of years if the photos they’d posted on Facebook were any indication, but Blaine had only ever made it to one: post-slushy apology, but pre-steroid scandal. Many of the details from that night were fuzzy, but he certainly remembered the opulence of the place – the gargoyles out front and the maid’s quarters in the back were dead giveaways that Sebastian’s parents were in a different league of wealth altogether.

“Look, if you decide this is something you want, just email my father’s assistant Lily, and she’ll make all of the arrangements. If you come, you come. And if not, well. I’ll see you in another life, Blaine Anderson.” He took a receipt out from his wallet and wrote what Blaine expected was Lily’s contact information on the back, before sliding it over to Blaine. He levelled him with a look that was equal parts fond and challenging and stood up, buttoning his coat against the bluster of the late autumn day. And with that, he was gone.

Blaine sat for another half an hour, sipping on his latte until it became cold enough to be considered iced, before dumping it in the nearest trashcan and making his way home.

***

2:03pm. Sebastian checked his phone for what felt like the twentieth time in the last ten minutes. His plane departed in less than an hour and if he didn’t head to security soon he would never make it through in time. He’d promised himself that he wouldn’t pester Blaine about coming with him, and he’d kept that resolution, not even so much as sending a text since their afternoon spent at the Lima Bean. He wondered now, though, if he shouldn’t have tried at least a little bit harder to convince him, perhaps sent an online brochure or two of what Blaine would be missing out on. He knew Blaine agreeing to join him was a long shot, but running into him as he had seemed like something of a sign – not that he really believed in all that hocus-pocus but he was nothing if not an opportunist, and the chance to have Blaine accompany him was too hard to pass up. Additionally, it didn’t escape his notice that Blaine looked like he needed something to distract him from a life that was slowly coming apart at the seams. He saw something of himself in Blaine when he’d first had to come to terms with not getting into Harvard. It wasn’t fun or easy having to give up on the idea of what you thought your life was going to be. And even though he felt certain that Blaine would be better off in the long run, he wanted to help steer him towards a new path. But mostly? He just wanted Blaine’s company. Sebastian was independent to his core, and he’d always been able to find the party wherever he went (or create his own if need be), but still – the connection he felt with Blaine, weakened though it was through his own carelessness and youthful indiscretions, still existed, almost as if embedded in the very marrow of his bones. With each passing second, however, it seemed increasingly likely that he was going to have to learn, once again, how to live without the only boy that he’d ever truly cared about. With a resigned sigh, Sebastian started towards the ever-growing line. He felt a tug on his elbow and turned his head around quickly, his neck giving a sharp twang in protest.

“You’re here,” he stated, struck dumb twice in one week by the boy in front of him.

Blaine laughed. “Of course I am, silly, where else would I be?” He wheeled his suitcase around Sebastian and with a look over his shoulder, and a glint in his eye, called back, “Get a move on, Smythe, or we’ll miss our flight!”

***

After loading up on supplies from Hudson’s News (Gummi Bears, Fuji Water, and the latest “O” magazine were travel essentials in Blaine’s book) they boarded the flight and were relieved to find that they would have the row all to themselves to stretch out and make themselves more comfortable. Normally Sebastian wouldn’t have stepped foot into Economy, but it was the only way that he and Blaine could sit together, all of First-Class being completely booked. As they got settled into their seats, Sebastian noticed that Blaine was looking rather uneasy, and kept checking and re-checking that his seat-belt was securely fastened.

“You’re not scared of flying, are you?”

“What? No,” Blaine scoffed. “I just prefer modes of transportation that don’t involve travelling at hundreds of miles per hour thousands of feet above the ground, that’s all.” Sebastian was staring at him with a barely suppressed grin.

“What?”

“Nothing, it’s just kinda nice seeing this side of you… you’re usually so put together and composed. It’s cute.” Sebastian nudged his shoulder and gave him a little wink. Blaine felt a swooping sensation in his belly at that, but as soon as the plane began taxiing down the runway it was quickly replaced with the racing of his heart. He wasn’t totally lying to Sebastian; he wasn’t scared of flying per se, it was the whole plummeting down to earth and crashing into the ocean thing that had him on edge.

In the past, Kurt had been there to distract him with kisses and whispered confessions about what he would like to do to Blaine when they got to wherever they were going, and on one particularly memorable flight back from LA to visit Cooper, he’d surprised him with a covert hand job under the airplane-issued blanket. Somehow Blaine didn’t think he was ready for a distraction of that sort from Sebastian. Nevertheless, he was going to need something. “Distract me.”

“With what?”

Blaine tsked, “I don’t know, Bas. Something, anything!” The flight attendant was almost done with her spiel about all the ways to avoid death and dismemberment and Blaine needed something else to focus on, and fast.

“Blaine, look at me, okay?” Blaine turned in his seat to give Sebastian his full attention.

“Now, give me your hand.”

He did as he was told, releasing the iron grip he had on the armrest and holding out his hand. Sebastian cradled his palm in his own, and with the gentlest of touches began massaging his fingers one by one.

“What are you–?”

“My mother hired a Shiatsu hand masseuse for me when I was eleven, on the advice of the new-age piano teacher that she’d also hired, in the hopes of turning me into the next Chopin.” He shrugged. “The piano didn’t stick, but I still remember some of her techniques.”

“Wow, you’re like Super Rich, huh?”

Sebastian barked out a laugh. “Told you. Now, Apple Pie. Your turn.”

“What?”

“The alphabet game, Blaine, try to keep up. Desserts. Apple Pie. Your turn.”

Blaine gave him a soft smile in thanks and released the breath he had been holding as relief washed over him. “Bananas Foster.”

*

Three hours into their 8-and-a-half-hour flight, and Blaine was fast asleep with his head on Sebastian’s shoulder. Sebastian was catching up on the latest episode of ‘The Americans’ and trying as hard as possible to remain still so as not to wake Blaine. He looked down at the boy beside him and couldn’t quite believe that he’d decided to come along after all. He was serious when he’d said that he thought it would be good for Blaine, but his motives weren’t totally altruistic (were they ever?). Sebastian had missed Blaine. It was not an emotion he was very familiar with. Sure, he missed his mother from time to time, particularly around the holidays, but this was different. Sebastian didn’t have many people in his life he could count as friends. He had acquaintances, people who he could party with or get off with (and sometimes, if he was lucky, both), but beyond that, he never really let many people get to know him. Moreover, he hadn’t met very many people that he wanted to know. Blaine was a different creature altogether, and before he’d messed everything up, they’d been building something real, or at least he’d thought so. It had taken a long time for Sebastian to accept the fact that they would never be anything more than friends, and then, to accept that they may not even get to be that. But now, there was a very real chance to rebuild their friendship, and Sebastian was going to do everything in his power to do things right this time around. And certainly, while he still found Blaine incredibly attractive, he was glad that he’d put any sort of romantic feelings he’d had for the boy to rest. Maybe in another life, but that ship had sailed (if it had ever even been to dock). He turned off the mini TV screen embedded in the back of the seat, and tentatively let his head rest on top of Blaine’s.

*

A few hours later they landed in Amsterdam for what would be the only layover of their journey. When making the flight arrangements, Sebastian had planned it so that they’d have almost a full day there; he’d always wanted to experience the city that promised fun and debauchery at every turn.

After making it off the jetway, Sebastian adjusted the straps on his backpack and turned to Blaine with a mischievous grin on his face and asked, “So, where to, Anderson?”

“What do you mean, where to?” Blaine looked up at him in slight alarm. “This is your trip – don’t you have anything planned?”

“I meant what I said, Blaine. Outside of some of the main details of, like, flights and a couple of hotels and stuff, everything else is pretty much up in the air. No need to panic–”

“I’m not panicking!!”

“Yes you are. Your already Bambi-like eyes have doubled in size, which, while making you look extra cute, also make you look extra panic-stricken. Don’t worry, we’ll figure things out as we go.”

“Famous last words,” Blaine grumbled to himself.

Sebastian shot him a sidelong glance. “Okay, on the count of three, name the first thing you think of when you think of Amsterdam. One, two…”

"Anne Frank's House."

“The Red-Light District.”

“Seriously, Blaine?”

“What? ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is not only one of my favorite books of all time, she’s also one of the most important people in history!”

“Okay, okay.” Sebastian held up his hands in placation. “We’ll do yours first, and then, to counter what is sure to be a depressing – but also highly educational,” he added when he saw the look Blaine was giving him, “tour, it’s on to my choice. Deal?”

“Deal.”

 

Their visit to the Frank house was indeed educational, and also inspirational, but as Sebastian predicted, more than a little sad. Blaine had caught Sebastian surreptitiously dabbing his eyes on more than one occasion. Afterwards, at Sebastian’s behest, they headed to Dampkring, one of Amsterdam’s most famous coffee houses.

“Sebastian! I thought you said we were going to get coffee!” Blaine hissed, as he took in his surroundings and noticed that the patrons were smoking what were definitely not cigarettes.

“…No, I said we were going to a coffeeshop. This is what they do in coffeeshops in Amsterdam, Blaine. Come on, you can still get a coffee, and I’ll even buy you one of those Stroopwafels you keep yammering on about.” Blaine clasped his hands together in delight. After he’d calmed down enough to surf the internet a bit on the flight over, he’d looked up desserts in Amsterdam, inspired (and a little bit hungry) from their earlier game. The Dutch specialty of two thin, crisp, buttery waffles, sandwiching a warm and gooey caramel syrup was at the very top of his list. Still, he was a bit hesitant and Sebastian sensed he hadn’t completely sold Blaine on the idea, so he added what he knew was sure to seal the deal.

“You know that scene in Ocean’s 12 where Brad Pitt and George Clooney take Matt Damon to a coffeeshop to set up the deal with that Matsui dude? Well… does anything look familiar?”

Blaine took a good look around, and it hit him. “Shut up! That was filmed here?! I love George Clooney!”

Sebastian threw his head back and laughed. “I know, Blaine. I remember when they added ‘ER’ to Netflix, you talked about him for a month straight.”

Blaine flushed. “He’s very handsome. And charming! I almost went into medicine because of him.”

“Dr. Anderson, now that has a nice ring to it. I’d definitely let you give me a physical.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“Oh my god, Bas.” Blaine gave him a little shove. “The jetlag is clearly starting to take hold. That was just sad.”

“Perhaps. But you’ll stay, right?”

“Yes, yes, fine. We’ll stay for one… marijuana… cigarette. Joint, whatever! Stop laughing at me!”

 

After placing their order (for something called Lemon Larry and Kandy Kush, which to Blaine sounded more like the names of children’s cartoon characters, than illicit drugs), Sebastian placed his hand on Blaine’s lower back and guided him towards the rear of the shop, where they would hopefully be a bit more inconspicuous. Blaine was a bit nervous, but it didn’t quite take hold because all he could focus on was the warmth of the hand resting just above the waistband of his shorts. It felt so familiar, and made him feel oddly safe, but excited as well – for what he was about to do, or from who he was with, he couldn’t be sure.

Once they settled in, Sebastian asked, “So you’ve seriously never done this before?”

“Of course not. Smoking is bad for your voice.”

“Relax, killer. One time’s not going to hurt anything. Besides it would take a lot more than smoking to hamper your inevitable singing career. I’m just surprised that that public school of yours didn’t teach you how to smoke weed, lord knows it would have served you better than anything else they taught.”

“Stoner Brett tried to get me to do it a couple of times, but I don’t… well, I guess I just like to be… um, in control? Of my mind. And my body.”

Sebastian stared at him for a long moment, ignoring (for now) the ridiculous moniker of who he could only assume was one of McKinley’s resident potheads. “You know you don’t have to do this, right? I mean, I enjoy it, and I think you will, too, but we can totally leave if you want. I promise I won’t be mad.”

And that’s one of the things Blaine appreciated the most about Sebastian; he pushed him out of his comfort zone but still respected his boundaries. “No, I want to. Just, go easy on me?” And with that, Sebastian taught Blaine the intricacies of smoking weed, and after only one serious coughing spell, Blaine thought he was getting the hang of it. What’s more, this was the best he had felt in a very long time. It was a strange mix of relaxed and ebullient, with a hint of the giggles.

“I want to try something.”

“Okay,” Blaine said, eyes wide and trusting. At this point he was willing to go along with just about any of Sebastian’s suggestions given that so far he was batting two for two.

“Close your eyes, and when I touch your knee, I want you to open your mouth and inhale.”

Sebastian took a drag of his joint and leaned closer. Blaine’s eyelashes fanned prettily on the apples of his cheeks, his lips plump and pink, and Sebastian was struck, not for the first time, with how truly beautiful Blaine was.

He placed his hand gingerly on Blaine’s knee, and as his lips ever so slightly brushed Blaine’s, Blaine inhaled and opened his eyes, shock and something akin to desire coloring the amber of his eyes. Their eyes stayed locked for a moment until Sebastian pulled away and rubbed the back of his neck. He hoped he hadn’t gone too far – Blaine was just too damn pretty, and he’d gotten a little carried away.

Blaine giggled. “Smooth smooch, Smythe.” And then he was off, laughing uproariously. Okay, so not mad then… definitely high, but not mad.

They sat for a little while longer, listening to ‘Mammagamma’ by The Alan Parsons Project, and enjoying the last of their treats. Blaine got to meet the coffeeshop’s resident cat on their way out, the Cat of Cannabis himself, Bowie, and was immediately smitten. (“His fur is so soft… it’s like a cloud! Sebastian, feel his fur!”)

They strolled down the cobblestone streets in the Red-Light District, taking in some of the sights, Sebastian amused that Blaine was so easily scandalized. They had a couple more hours to kill before their flight, but Blaine was clearly losing steam, and if the way he had his arms wrapped around his torso was any indication, he was also freezing. Sebastian pulled the old Dalton lacrosse hoodie he was wearing over his head and handed it to Blaine. “What? Sebastian, no, I’m fine.”

“Your teeth are chattering so loudly I’m afraid you’re going to chip something. Take the sweater, killer.”

Sebastian had to help him get it on, his damn elbows kept getting in the way (okay, so maybe he was still a bit stoned), but eventually they figured it out and Blaine was immediately enveloped in warmth and the smell of Sebastian’s spicy cologne.

“I think…” Blaine tapped his fingers against his lips as if he were really giving it some thought, “…yup. This is my very favorite day,” Blaine proclaimed.

Sebastian tucked Blaine into his side. “Me too, Blaine. Me too.”

***

This time it was Blaine who was being used as a human pillow, as Sebastian snored softly beside him. Take-off had gone much smoother than the first flight, much to Blaine’s relief. He had to admit, Sebastian was proving quite the pleasant surprise. In all fairness, he’d always known that Sebastian was capable of kindness and generosity, but it took seeing it laid out so bare, as it had been thus far, to be reminded of that.

Eventually sleep overtook Blaine as well, and when he awoke it was to find he and Sebastian cuddled together as much as the cramped airline seats would allow. Sebastian yawned and stretched his arms above his head causing his t-shirt to inch up and giving Blaine a glimpse of his toned stomach as it did. “God, I’m going to be sore for days. You’re lucky you’re so tiny, killer. These seats are not made for people like me.”

“Hey, I’m not tiny!”

“B. I have it on good authority that you wear sweater vests from the children’s department.”

Blaine’s mouth dropped open in surprise. “I cannot believe Nick told you that. I’ll kill him.”

“Relax, Blaine, tiny is a good look on you. Besides,” he whispered conspiratorially, “your former roommate also informed me that where it counts? You’re anything but tiny.”

It took Blaine a moment to catch his meaning, not having had any coffee yet, and running on minimal sleep. He groaned. “Oh my god, Sebastian. That’s it, we’re going back. I have a murder to commit.”

Sebastian chuckled as he got up to make his way to the washroom. “Okay, but I get to drive the getaway car.”

***

They stepped out of the airport, and into the oppressive Bangkok heat. The air felt thick, like you could almost reach out and grab hold of it. Blaine was glad that Sebastian had had the foresight to book them into an actual hotel replete with air-conditioning and a pool before they got into the real meat of their journey. After almost twenty hours in the sky, and a full day of walking around Amsterdam, Blaine was ready for a comfy bed and a nice long bath. What he was not expecting, however, was the veritable palace spread out before them as they exited the tuk-tuk that had taken them from the airport to their hotel. “Sebastian…” Blaine started, but didn’t know how to complete his thought. He was so overwhelmed with the scale and grandeur of the place.

“I know it’s a bit much, but we’re gonna be living out of our backpacks soon enough, and I thought a couple of days here would give us a fresh start.” Blaine couldn’t argue with that logic and let himself be guided into the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental.

He felt a little bit like Kevin McAllister, experiencing a fine hotel for the very first time. He’d stayed at some nice enough hotels here and there on family trips, but nothing like this. The Mandarin Oriental had hosted celebrities and royalty, from Michael Jackson to the Princess of Wales, and even though he and Sebastian must have looked a sight in their sweat-stained t-shirts and wrinkled shorts, the elevator staff greeted them by name and took them to their floor without them even having to say which one they were on.

As they walked into the Ambassador Suite, Blaine’s jaw practically unhinged from how far it had dropped open. Their suite was bigger than the entirety of the loft he and Kurt had shared in Bushwick.

“My dad always stays here when he comes out this way, now I see why. Not bad,” Sebastian mused, as he walked over to the large teak French doors that opened onto a beautiful balcony overlooking the Chao Phraya river.

“Not bad?! Sebastian, I’m never going to be able to stay at a Super 8 again – you’ve ruined me,” Blaine sighed playfully, flopping face first onto the king-sized bed.

“Happy to be of service, Anderson. I’ll even let you have first crack at the bath.” At that Blaine perked up and bolted from the bed to the largest bathroom he had ever seen.

“Bas! There’s champagne!” Blaine exclaimed, as he picked up a flute from the counter, and made his way over to the large marble soaking tub in the middle of the room. He started running a bath, adding various fragrant salts and luxurious oils to the water. Sebastian came in to retrieve a glass of bubbly, and leaned against the counter, watching Blaine. He didn’t think he’d ever seen him quite so happy, so care-free. “No free shows,” Blaine teased, catching Sebastian staring and breaking his reverie. Sebastian felt his cheeks grow uncharacteristically warm, and quickly turned to make his leave.

He took his champagne and headed out to the balcony where the heat of the day was finally starting to wane with evening approaching and a slight breeze blowing in off the water, and he let himself relax into one of the plush chaises provided. What was he doing? Staring at Blaine like some sort of lovesick fool. They were friends. I mean, sure, Blaine was quite possibly the most attractive guy he’d ever known in real life… he was smart, and funny, and kind, and generous, and so, so, pretty, and holy fucking shit. Sebastian bolted upright; he was still in love with Blaine. He wasn’t sure why he found the thought so surprising, except for the fact that denying his feelings for Blaine had become such second nature that he truly thought he was over it – over him. But who could ever be over a boy like Blaine Anderson?

 

Blaine found him still sitting there half an hour later, looking a little stunned. “Everything okay?”

Sebastian started. “Of course! I mean, yes, why wouldn’t it be? What could possibly be wrong – we’re in paradise!”

Blaine gave him a puzzled look. “Alright…” he said slowly, “well, the bathroom is all yours if you want it.”

“Oh! Right, sure. Thanks, Blaine.”

“Of course,” Blaine echoed, as he watched Sebastian hastily make his way inside. He frowned. What on earth was that all about? He hoped Sebastian wasn’t regretting bringing him along on his trip already. Was he being annoying by being so excited about everything? After all, Sebastian was used to hanging out with people more like himself, worldly and sophisticated types who probably didn’t think fancy soap and free drinks were things to make a fuss over. Blaine sighed heavily and sat down on the vacated lounger, trying to make sense of Sebastian’s odd behavior.

*

As Sebastian sat soaking in the tub, he pondered what he should do next. But was there even anything to do? Blaine had just broken up with his soulmate (a term that still caused Sebastian to shudder), and he didn’t even know why, or who had done the breaking up. There had been a couple of moments when he’d wanted to ask, but he didn’t want to pressure Blaine, and besides, they were having such a good time that he didn’t want to sully it with talk of Hummel. But beyond that, he’d just gotten Blaine back in his life. He wasn’t going to mess things up now with something as dumb as feelings, especially when it was those same feelings that had ruined things between them the first time around.

In high school, Sebastian experienced jealousy the likes of which he'd never before encountered; he was just so used to getting whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it, that not getting to have the one thing he wanted the most – Blaine – caught him truly off-guard. He’d also never cared about anything (or anyone) enough to be upset in the rare event that he didn’t get his way. If someone turned  him down at Scandals (a rarity indeed), so what? There were any number of other boys willing to find a back room with him for a quick fuck. But Blaine was different, special; he knew that from the very first time they’d met. None of that mattered, though, because while Blaine was special to him, he was pretty sure that the reverse wasn’t true. He’d thought he’d accepted that fact, and moved on, but getting to spend so much uninterrupted time with the other boy had brought all of those feelings back to the fore.

He knew, objectively, that Blaine found him attractive – he’d caught him checking him out enough times over the years to be fairly certain about that. And he seemed to like hanging out with him well enough, but Sebastian was not boyfriend material; he knew it, and surely Blaine knew it. Truthfully, Sebastian couldn’t even imagine being someone’s boyfriend. For all of Hummel’s faults (which he would happily enumerate if given the chance), he at least knew how to be in a relationship. Sebastian would surely fuck it up somehow, and then where would they be? Blaine deserved better than that, especially after all he’d been through, and he refused to be the cause of more pain. No, the best he could hope for was to form a real and lasting friendship with Blaine. He resolved then and there to make sure that Blaine was having the best time possible, and to keep things light and easy between them. That, he could do.

*

When Sebastian emerged from the bathroom he found Blaine sitting in the middle of the bed still bundled up in his white terrycloth robe, hair starting to curl, from the humidity or the bath he wasn’t sure.

“You have curly hair,” he stated dumbly.

“What?” Blaine laughed.

“Your hair, it’s curly,” he repeated, as he moved to the side of the bed and twirled a rogue curl around his finger. Blaine swatted his hand away. “Yes, it is. And if you make fun of me, Smythe, it’s friends off.”

“Why would I make fun of you? I love it.”

“Oh. Well,” Blaine stammered, as a blush intensified his already rosy cheeks. The tension from their earlier conversation on the patio was starting to return, and Sebastian knew he had to do something to dispel it.

“Food!” he exclaimed. Taking in Blaine’s furrowed brow he continued, “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. I know we just got here, and there’s so much to see and do, but what do you say to room service, and a bit of pay-per-view?”

“You read my mind,” Blaine grinned. And just like that things were back to normal. They changed into their pjs and ordered copious amounts of food – burgers, and nachos, and make-your-own sundaes, with every topping imaginable – and watched ‘Anna and the King of Siam’ followed by ‘The Beach’ to get themselves in the Thai spirit.

 

“Ugh, I can’t move. I’m never eating again,” Blaine groaned, holding his stomach in pain. They were sprawled out side-by-side on the bed, the credits to the movie playing on the screen, but neither of them had enough energy to find the remote and turn it off, let alone get ready for bed.

“Here, let me?” Sebastian replied tentatively as he turned on his side and moved to settle his palm against Blaine’s lower abdomen, making slow wide circles across his belly and up his rib cage.

“Another trick you learned from your masseuse?” Blaine asked, though he could barely speak as he held his breath and tried to stay as still as humanly possible. Blaine was a tactile person but touches from Sebastian had been few and far between when they were friends the first time around. In fact, outside of the hug they shared when Sebastian agreed to help him with his proposal, and a couple of handshakes here and there, he’s not sure they had ever really touched. But since their pseudo-kiss in Amsterdam, it was like a dam had broken, and even though they were still hesitant, the touches had increased ten-fold. Blaine wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“Nah,” Sebastian mumbled sleepily. “My mother used to do this for me when I was little. I would sneak into the kitchen after my nanny put me to bed and steal whatever little bits of cookies, or cake, or any dessert really, that I could find, and of course I always ended up eating way too much and getting a stomach-ache. She never scolded me for it, though; I think she almost liked that I did it. Not because she wanted to see me in pain, or anything,” he added quickly, “but because, I don’t know, maybe she wanted to feel needed? In any case, it always helped.” Blaine reached his free hand up to the nape of Sebastian’s neck and began running his fingers through the short hair there in an attempt to offer some comfort of his own. “It’s one of my favorite memories of her.” Blaine stayed silent, not wanting to break whatever spell had been cast to cause Sebastian to be so open and continued his ministrations. They fell asleep like that, bodies close, hands stroking one another gently, but when Blaine awoke he found that he was alone, Sebastian’s side of the bed long gone cold.

***

Sebastian was such an idiot. So much for resolving to keep things light and easy. He woke up from one of the best sleeps of his life to find Blaine stretched out beside him, the early morning sunlight streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows and onto Blaine’s skin making it positively glow. Blaine had made his way on to his stomach at some point during the night and his shirt had rucked up in the process, exposing the Dimples of Venus on his lower back. Sebastian had never wanted anything more than to kiss those indentations, and keep on kissing, until he had covered every inch of Blaine’s skin. Fuck. He was so screwed. And since when did he share stories about his childhood? He didn’t think he’d ever been so open, perhaps even verging on vulnerable, with another human being in his life. Not a week into their trip, and he was already exposing all his secrets. With a heavy sigh, he eased himself off the bed, careful to not make too much noise, and headed to the bathroom for a cold shower. He had just returned from the café in the main lobby, coffee and croissants in hand (not the most traditional Thai breakfast, he knew, but there would be plenty of time for them to try all of the delicacies the country had to offer later), when he noticed that Blaine was already up and ready to go. He was wearing a pair of light pink linen shorts that showed off his quite frankly ridiculous thighs, and a white button up shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his forearms. Sebastian’s throat went dry at the sight.

“Great, you’re up!” he said, with what he hoped didn’t sound too much like false cheer. “I bought us some snacks, and then I thought we could visit the weekend market.”

“Sounds like a plan!” Blaine smiled. “Just let me grab my stuff.”

As he headed back into the bedroom, Sebastian exhaled, relieved that there didn’t seem to be any residual weirdness from the night before. Now he just had to remember that he and Blaine were friends. Maybe even on the way to becoming best friends. And best friends didn’t picture each other in various states of undress and imagine all of the many ways they could make each other come. At least, he didn’t think they did – he’d never really had a best friend before.

“Coming?” Blaine asked from the front door, bag in hand, putting an end to Sebastian’s musing.

“Not anytime soon,” he mumbled under his breath.

“What was that?” Blaine asked.

He shook his head and gave Blaine the biggest smile he could muster. “Nothing! Lead the way, killer.”

 

The Chatuchak Market was unlike anything Blaine had ever experienced. Everything you could possibly conceive of was sold there. They passed stalls selling vintage Levi’s, and Moroccan lamps; figurines sculpted by local artisans, and antique curio cabinets; and in one particularly interesting section of the market, they found someone selling pet squirrels on strings. Sebastian put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, and Blaine decided instead on a new bowtie made out of a beautiful crimson silk, and a pair of handmade blown glass earrings for his mother. By then they were ready for some lunch, and if Blaine thought the shopping booths were great, well, the food stalls put them all to shame. His declaration from the night before about never eating again flew out the window as they decided on what to try first. They started with a bowl of Tom Yum Goong soup, then a classic Pad Thai, and ended with a great big mound of coconut sticky rice, with the most perfectly ripened mango on top.

“Guhhh,” Blaine moaned around a mouthful of rice. “How is this so good?? There’s this Thai restaurant in New York that Kurt and I –” he stopped. “I mean…” he hesitated, giving Sebastian a sidelong glance.

“It’s okay, killer, you can say his name. I’ve heard you talk about him before you know.”

And Blaine did know. But he’d been doing so well at not thinking about his life with Kurt, or really his life back home at all. “You’re right. Ignore me, I’m just being silly.”

“So, tell me about this place you and Hummel used to go to.”

Blaine gave him an appraising look, and when he realized he was being sincere, he began his story again. “Well, it was only the one time, really. It’s this little place in NoLita called Uncle Boons, tucked away in the bottom of an old brick building that I stumbled upon one day, while I was out exploring the city… and I dunno, I guess it kind of reminds me of this market. It’s decorated with all these quirky, interesting flea market finds, and the food is amazing. Not as good as this of course, but pretty close to the real deal.” He paused, and Sebastian remained silent. He could sense that Blaine was working up to say more. “That’s one of the things I liked the best about New York… how every part of the city seems to have some little gem just waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s a restaurant, or a bookshop, or a little park nestled between the buildings. Even their corner stores – bodegas,” he corrected himself “– are interesting. They have cats, Sebastian, cats! Just hanging out on top of cases of La Croix, waiting for people to give them pets.”

Sebastian chuckled. “You know you can always go back, right?”

“You think?”

Sebastian looked over at Blaine and realized he was being serious.

“Blaine. Of course you can. If New York is where you want to be, then it’s yours for the taking. Look, I don’t really know what happened to make you leave, but it doesn’t mean it has to be forever, okay?”

“Okay.” Blaine ducked his head in sheepishness, and Sebastian could only hope that he had been well and truly heard.

“Now, I thought I saw some deep-fried crickets a couple of rows over. I’ll bet you 500 baht that you can’t get one down.”

 

An hour later, and 500 baht richer, Blaine returned to their suite to take a quick shower, and perhaps an even quicker nap while Sebastian was downstairs making arrangements with the concierge. He wouldn’t tell Blaine what he had planned for their evening, but Blaine was enjoying letting someone else take the reins for once.  

Eventually Sebastian made his way back to their room, two garment bags in hand. “What’s all this?” Blaine asked.

Sebastian handed him one of the bags and gently pushed him towards the bathroom. “Just get dressed, and all will be revealed.” He winked and shut the door, causing Blaine to roll his eyes fondly as he hung the bag on the back of the door before opening it to find the most beautiful tuxedo he had ever seen. The jacket was a brilliant red oriental brocade, with intricate patterns of cherry blossoms and dragons woven throughout, and pants that were made of black velvet, soft and plush to the touch. Blaine was struck dumb for a good solid minute. A week ago he’d been burrowed in his bed in a pair of sweatpants that still had a stain from where he’d spilled some of his Mac ‘n Cheese, and a t-shirt he’d gotten for free from the bowling alley, watching re-runs of Dawson’s Creek, and Facebook stalking his ex; and now he was about to put on a Louis Vuitton suit, presumably to go eat a meal at a fancy restaurant, with Sebastian of all people. He certainly wasn’t complaining, but not for the first time he wondered how he’d gotten there.

Blaine stepped out of the bathroom, still in a state of shock, but all thoughts flew out of his mind when he saw Sebastian standing in front of the mirror trying unsuccessfully to tie his bowtie. His tuxedo was far simpler than Blaine’s, but it suited him to a T. He wore a slim fitting pair of black dress pants with a satin stripe up the side that perfectly accentuated the length of his legs, and a navy-blue jacket that showed off the breadth of his shoulders. He was beautiful.

“See something you like, killer?”

Blaine’s eyes snapped up to meet Sebastian’s in the mirror. He blushed at having been caught staring and lowered his eyes. “Whatever, you know you look good,” he mumbled.

Sebastian chuckled, and turned around. “And you, Blaine Anderson, are stunning.” Blaine’s blush intensified – soon it would be the color of his suit if they kept up like this. Damn his traitorous cheeks.

He stepped forward into Sebastian’s space and reached up to take the two ends of the bowtie. “May I?”

Sebastian swallowed audibly, Blaine’s eyes tracking the movement. “Give it your best shot.”

Blaine looked up and into Sebastian’s eyes, while practiced hands glided the silk into place. “There. Perfect.”

They stared at each other for a few moments before Blaine dropped his hands to his sides, clearing his throat, and taking a step back as he tried to regain his composure. “Bas, this is too much. I mean, everything about this – the hotel, the suit, hell the entire trip. I don’t want you to think I’m taking advantage of you or something. I feel like Pretty Woman, except, y’know, minus the sexy times.”

Sebastian raised his eyes at that but sensed now was not the time for a patented Smythe innuendo. “Blaine, you should know me well enough by now to know that I don’t do anything I don’t want to. And that includes how I choose to spend my money. And tonight, I chose to buy a pretty suit for an even prettier boy. And in return, I have something nice to look at, so you see, it’s for my own benefit, really,” he joked.

Blaine opened his mouth to object once more, but Sebastian held up his hand and continued – “Please, Blaine. I want to do this so just… let me? No strings attached.”

“Okay,” he answered reluctantly. “But I’m paying you back for the suit… or, well, at the very least the socks. I’d have to sell a kidney to afford this suit.”

Sebastian laughed. “Well we certainly can’t have that.” He grabbed his coat and turned to leave. “Shall we?”

 

Sebastian’s plans for the evening were definitely befitting of the tuxes they’d donned. They didn’t have far to go, just a few floors up from their suite, but they could have been on another planet for how alien it all seemed to Blaine. The entire top floor of their hotel was dedicated to ‘Le Normandie’, an old-school French restaurant, bedecked in gold everything from the billowing curtains to the carpeting to the upholstered chair cushions. Blaine tried to maintain his composure, but he had a feeling the look on his face registered nothing but shock and awe.

For his part, Sebastian could have been back at Breadstix for how affected he seemed by it all. He ordered for them both in French (mais bien sûr), and by the time they had finished their amuse-bouche, Blaine was finally starting to relax and settle into things. 

“This is really special, Sebastian, thank-you,” Blaine said sincerely, as he smoothed the napkin resting on his lap, making sure not to get anything on his expensive suit. “I think the closest I’ve ever come to eating French food is my brother’s famous Banana Bread French Toast.” 

“Stick with me, killer, it’s a whole new world out there.” Sebastian winked, pleased with himself that he could be this for Blaine – a guide of sorts to a world that only existed in Blaine’s imagination. 

Blaine grinned. “Is it shining, shimmering, and also splendid?”

 “When did you get to be such a smart ass?” 

“You love my ass,” Blaine replied boldly, tongue loosened from the three glasses of champagne he’d already managed to down. The waiters kept refilling his glass, and really, who was he to stop them? 

“Cheeky, Anderson.”

 Blaine chuckled at the pun and smiled fondly at Sebastian. He was in a perpetual state of surprise at just how easy everything between them seemed to be. Obviously there was a reason they’d become such quick friends back in high school, but it was becoming more apparent to Blaine with each passing moment that Sebastian was someone he wanted in his life.

They had just started to dig into the restaurant’s most famous dish, an Oscietra caviar and sea urchin cream of potato soup, when Sebastian could no longer contain his curiosity. “Can I ask you something?”

Blaine paused with his spoon half-way to his mouth before lowering it to his bowl. “Um, sure?”

“I guess I was just wondering why you’re here.”

“Uhh, because you invited me?” Blaine wasn’t sure he liked where this was headed, and just when everything had been going so well.

Sebastian shook his head. “No, not here here, why aren’t you at NYADA? I mean, Thad wouldn’t shut up about how exceptional it was that you got in on your first try – which it is by the way,” he added. Sebastian didn’t really do Facebook but found he hadn’t really needed it with the gossip mill that was the Dalton Academy Warblers. Every relationship update and life event made its way to him eventually. “So clearly you got in. And I know you said Kurt was at school, but what about you? Why aren’t you there?”

Blaine squirmed a little in his seat. “You’re right, I did get in. I was there for about two months. I guess it just wasn’t for me.”

“What do you mean, wasn’t for you? Blaine, I’ve never met anyone more destined for the stage than you. Except maybe that Berry girl, but even that’s debateable.”

 “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“But–”

“Sebastian, please. Can you just drop it?” he pleaded with him.

Sebastian searched his face, could see worry and uncertainty etched into his features that hadn’t been present the entirety of their trip. “Of course, B,” he said softly.

“Thank-you.”

They were silent for the remainder of the meal, Blaine only perking up momentarily when the dessert trolley was brought out.

 

Blaine sat on the bench at the foot of the bed and toed off his shoes while Sebastian paced the length of the room, before stopping before him, clearly with something he wanted to say. “Blaine, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

“No, it’s fine.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “You shouldn’t be afraid to ask me questions about my life. I don’t want that. I’m just… not ready to talk about it yet.” He looked up at Sebastian, eyes wide, and a little wet. “It’s been a really long day, but I promise I’m not mad. Let’s just try to get some sleep.”

“Do you want me to take the couch?”

Blane levelled him with a look. “Don’t be ridiculous. You make a surprisingly comfy pillow for a guy that’s so boney.”

He smirked, and opened his mouth, “Well–”

“Don’t say it!”

Sebastian laughed. “Too easy anyway.” He walked over to his side of the bed (and how had he already come to think of them as having sides?) and slipped under the covers. For the first few minutes they both lay still on their respective sides, until finally Sebastian broke the silence with an over-exaggerated sigh. “Get over here, killer. I know you can’t sleep without something to cuddle.”

Blaine smiled in the dark. “Don’t pretend you don’t like it, too,” he said, as he scooted over and tucked himself into Sebastian’s side, slotting in like he was made to fit there.

“I’m nothing if not accommodating.”

“Uh-huh.”

Blaine was almost asleep when Sebastian whispered, “Let me know if I poke you with any bones in my sleep,” which he punctuated with a soft roll of his hips.

“Oh my god, I hate you,” Blaine groaned, as he tried to roll over on his side.

Sebastian kept him close and hummed. “No you don’t,” the smile evident in his voice.

“No, no, I don’t,” Blaine mumbled sleepily, before drifting off for good.

***

The next day was earmarked for sleeping in (the jet lag had finally caught up to them) and lounging by the pool. Sebastian had gone down ahead of Blaine to claim a prime spot for them, and when Blaine arrived he was greeted with quite the sight. If he thought Sebastian looked good last night in his suit, he looked even better out of it. He was laid out on a towel on one of the two chairs he’d managed to snag, in a pair of board shorts that showed off his toned abdomen, and a whole constellation of beauty marks that snaked their way up his torso and onto his neck. Blaine knew he was staring (again, his brain supplied), but thankfully Sebastian hadn’t yet registered his presence, so he was safe.

He cleared his throat. “What’s all this?” he asked, taking in the mountain of books piled up on the ground beside Sebastian’s chair. In his hand he held a copy of a John Le Carré novel which he seemed rather engrossed with.

He looked up at Blaine over the bridge of his sunglasses. “I knew that things at McKinley were bad, but I didn’t realize they’d gotten rid of books.”

 “Ha, ha. I meant, where did they all come from?”

“There’s an Author’s Lounge inside that has a library with all of the books from every author who’s ever stayed here. It’s pretty impressive actually. Feel free to help yourself.” He indicated to the huge stack beside him. Blaine took a look at some of the titles and their authors: Somerset Maugham, George Orwell, Noel Coward, Dostoyevsky, pretty much every big name one could think of. Sadly for Blaine, there was nothing from his favorite author, R.L. Stine, but he’d make do. He picked up a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ and settled in.

“I didn’t realize you were such a bookworm,” Blaine said after a few minutes, his attention waning.

“I’m more than just a pretty face, Blaine, I read.”

“I know,” Blaine faltered, thinking he may have insulted Sebastian somehow. But when he looked over he could see the corners of Sebastian’s mouth twitching in amusement and figured it would probably take a lot more than that to offend him.

Blaine read a few more pages, but with the sun bearing down on them the water was looking more inviting by the minute. He laid his book down, ready to take the plunge. “I think I need to cool off. I’m going for a dip.”

It was Sebastian’s turn to stare as Blaine pulled his t-shirt over his head, revealing a taught stomach, and the tiniest waist Sebastian had ever seen. He wasn’t even sure why Blaine bothered with swim trunks when they were so short they just barely covered the swell of his perfect, perfect ass. Sebastian groaned internally. Why did Blaine have to make this so hard on him by being so fucking hot? It wasn’t fair. He turned back to his book with a grumble and attempted to focus on the world of espionage contained within its pages.

They spent the rest of their day alternating between laying out and jumping in the pool when it got too hot to stand it anymore. Stewards were ever at the ready, replenishing their water as soon as the ice melted so that they’d never be without a nice cool drink, and providing them with fresh fruit, snacks, and ice cream throughout the day. Blaine was in heaven.

***

As day turned to dusk, they finally decided to head inside, and after freshening up and rinsing off the layers of sunscreen and chlorine that had accumulated over the course of the day, they headed to a local bar where they indulged in a selection of local beers and Kap Klaem, “drinking food”.

“I wish we didn’t have to leave,” Blaine sighed, as he looked out on to the street, perched as they were on stools at a table facing a big open window.

Sebastian shrugged. “We can always come again. Maybe on the way back.”

Blaine was quiet for a moment. “Can I ask you a question?”

“I suppose it is my turn. Ask away.”

“Well, I know you said that you were taking a gap year, but what happens after that? Are you going to re-apply to Harvard?”

“Honestly? I have no fucking clue. I’ve been trying to figure out what I actually want, versus what my dad wants me to want, and I’m not so sure they’re the same thing anymore. I figure since he already hates me, I might as well go full tilt and do what makes me happy.”

Blaine tsked. “I’m sure he doesn’t hate you.”

“Maybe not. But he’s definitely disappointed. And for some reason that always feels worse.”

Blaine chuckled morosely. “I know the feeling.”

“Were your parents upset that you decided to go into the performing arts?”

“Upset? No. Concerned, maybe. My older brother Cooper left just after high school for LA to try and make it as an actor, and he’s had varying levels of success. In some ways that’s kind of made it easier, because at least they know it’s possible to make a living at it, even if it’s far more modest than what they’re used to.”

“So why the concern then?”

Blaine scratched the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had taken. “They, um…” he paused and took a fortifying breath, gearing up for what he was about to say. “I guess they thought that I only wanted to go to NYADA for Kurt… and they weren’t entirely wrong. I mean, I love New York, and of course I want a job in the arts, but honestly? I don’t know if I would have applied there had it not been for Kurt.”

Sebastian just stared at him, and Blaine felt embarrassed that he had let his life and dreams be dictated by his relationship with Kurt.

“You think I’m pathetic.”

“What? No.” Sebastian shook his head adamantly. “I just think it’s shitty that you don’t realize how special you are.” He ran his hands through his still damp hair, frustration clear on his face. “Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents and teachers, and pretty much every adult ever, would give the same exact speech about how we can do anything we want, can be anything we want, if we just try hard enough?” Blaine nodded, remembering several such speeches from Mr. Schue. “Well, I always hated that, because it’s not really true, is it? Not everyone has the talent or the drive to be anything they want, let alone the money and the privilege. And that’s fine. I know I can be a bit of a snob,” – he paused when he saw the look Blaine was giving him –“okay, a huge snob, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working at the DMV, or whatever other mundane job the world is mostly made up of… but you? You, Blaine Anderson, are who they were talking about. The world is at your feet, and I don’t know why you prioritized being Kurt’s boyfriend over everything else.”

“Geez, Bas, tell me how you really feel,” Blaine said jokingly, trying to diffuse the tension created by Sebastian’s rant.

“Don’t do that, Blaine. This isn’t a joke – it’s your life.”

“Do you think I don’t know that?” Blaine snapped back. Sebastian raised an eyebrow in silent challenge. “I loved him, okay? And I don’t know how to do things half-way. If I’m in, I’m in. And somewhere along the way I thought being in love meant acquiescing to whatever the other person wanted. I wanted him to be happy, and in turn I thought that would make me happy.”

Sebastian sighed. “You might not believe me, but I do understand that – to a point. But you can’t just live to make others happy.”

“I know. I am trying.”

“I know you are.” He took a long swig of beer. “And I’m sorry if that was too harsh. I just want good things for you, Blaine.”

“I want that for you, too,” Blaine replied softly, and raised his beer to Sebastian’s, clinking their bottles together in a silent toast to their future happiness.

***

“I’m thinking maybe linguistics,” Sebastian said later that evening as they climbed into bed for their last night’s sleep before leaving for Chiang Mai in the morning.

“To study?” Blaine prompted, turning towards Sebastian and pulling the comforter up to his chin, listening intently.

“Yeah. I mean, I already know a bunch of languages: French, obviously. Spanish, Italian,” he ticked off on his fingers. “Oh, and Latin, of course.” Latin was required learning at Dalton, much to Blaine’s chagrin. He never could quite get the hang of it. It was one of the only things he was truly happy to have left behind at Dalton.

“My little polyglot,” Blaine teased, poking Sebastian in the ribs playfully.

“Fuck off,” Sebastian replied jokingly, pushing Blaine’s hand away before he found his ticklish spot.

“I think you mean ‘va te faire foutre’.” Sebastian looked over in surprise, eyebrows raised.

“What? I know some other languages, too, you know… well, the swear words anyway. Cooper taught me a bunch of them when I was, like, seven. He thought it was hilarious to have me repeat them to my parents and their friends without knowing what on earth I was saying. Luckily for me, they didn’t have much of a clue, either. Until one night, my dad had a client and his Spanish wife over for dinner, and I walked up to them and proudly said, Me cago en todo lo que se menea’, thinking I was telling her that her dress was pretty.”

It took Sebastian a second to translate, but then they said in unison, “I shit on everything that moves.”

“Needless to say, Cooper was grounded for a month.”

Sebastian laughed for a solid minute, and when his laughter finally died down, he turned back towards Blaine, and gave him a small smile, happy in a way that Blaine didn’t often see. Sebastian was always smirking, and teasing, or cajoling, but it wasn’t often that he was just smiling.

“Well, I think it’s a great idea,” Blaine finally said.

“Yeah?” Sebastian asked, and Blaine was touched that he seemed to really care what he thought.

“Definitely.”

***

“How come you haven’t been taking any pictures of our trip?”

“Hmm?” Blaine looked up from the travel guide he’d purchased on their way out of Bangkok. They were taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai, and Blaine was especially excited about their current mode of transportation, which Sebastian suspected had more to do with his Harry Potter obsession, and not a love of locomotives. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, you just seem like the type to take a lot of pictures, that’s all.” In truth, Sebastian knew for a fact that Blaine was trigger-happy when it came to documenting all of life’s little adventures. He’d “borrowed” Thad’s laptop on more than one occasion to scope out Blaine’s social media, and he’d seen an endless array of shared moments between him and Hummel: concerts they’d attended, and sporting events they’d cheered on, and pics with who Sebastian could only assume was Kurt’s family, if Big Foot’s presence was any indication, at just about every holiday imaginable. But the worst were the ones of the two of them doing everyday ordinary things together with inane couple-y hashtags for things like making dinner (#kissthecook), or getting coffee (#wholelattelove), or taking a nap on the couch together (#sleepingbeauties). 

And yet, he didn’t think he’d seen Blaine take out his camera once since they’d left Ohio. (Okay, so he had taken several dozen pictures of Bowie – that boy had some sort of serious obsession with shop cats, but outside of that, nada.) And certainly, none had been taken of him and Sebastian. Maybe they just weren’t doing anything that Blaine felt was worth remembering. Or maybe he was embarrassed to be doing them with Sebastian. He wasn’t sure which thought stung more.

“I guess I want this to be just for me.”

“What do you mean?”

Blaine shrugged, a little embarrassed. “I dunno, it’s just, you’re right, I usually do take a lot of photos. And sometimes, of course, it’s nice to look back and reminisce, but for the most part they’re not really for me, so much as they’re to post on Instagram or whatever. It’s like, you want people to see that you’re having fun, so much so that sometimes you miss out on actually having the fun. I like that the memories are just mine, you know?”

Sebastian did know. It was part of why he was so loath to get any accounts of his own. Well, that and he didn’t particularly like the idea of people knowing so much about his life. But he was surprised to hear it articulated in such a way by Blaine of all people, who seemed like such an open book.

“Why, do you want me to take pictures?”

“Well, that depends on the type of pictures. If you’d like to send me some of the nude variety, I won’t object, killer,” Sebastian leered.

“In your dreams, Smythe.”

“That you are, Blaine, that you are,” Sebastian winked, relieved that it seemed like perhaps Blaine was having an okay time after all.

 

While their cabin on the train was nowhere near as luxurious as the suite they’d enjoyed in Bangkok, they’d still opted for First Class which allowed them a private room with a toilet, and a shower with hot water (shared though it was), for which Blaine was immensely grateful; he couldn’t quite stand the thought of not showering every day.

“I didn’t think you were so high maintenance,” Sebastian teased, when Blaine expressed his delight at seeing that he wouldn’t have to forego bathing after all.

Blaine huffed. “I am not, I just like to be clean!”

Sebastian was quiet for a moment then, studying Blaine. He could feel Sebastian’s eyes trailing over his face: taking in the day’s growth on his jawline, lingering on his mouth which was turned down in a slight moue, zeroing in on his clavicle revealed by the low cut of the t-shirt that he was wearing. It was amazing to Blaine how Sebastian could make him feel so exposed, naked even, with just a look. “I can’t wait to get you messy one of these days, Anderson,” he finally said. And if Blaine felt exposed before, well. He knew, though, that flirty was Sebastian’s default. It came as natural to him as a meteorologist talking about the weather, and Blaine had to keep reminding himself that it didn’t mean much, if anything, at all.

“Uh-huh, we’ll see about that,” Blaine teased back, before resuming the task of getting his bunk organized and trying to ignore the thoughts creeping into his brain of the possibility of him and Sebastian becoming something more.

***

“He dumped me.”

Sebastian paused just as he was about to jump Blaine’s king and claim victory for the fourth time in a row (they were having a Checkers Champion Competition and were currently playing their third best of seven in a series of best of sevens, with Blaine trailing significantly but still determined to win at least one series). He looked at Blaine with his eyebrows raised, waiting patiently for him to continue.

“I don’t think I was what he wanted anymore.”

“Blaine–”

“No, its fine,” Blaine raised his hand to stop whatever platitude Sebastian was about to give. “I, um, cheated on him… back in the beginning of senior year.” Blaine rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassment coloring his cheeks.

Sebastian hummed. “Now it all makes a bit more sense.”

It was Blaine’s turn to raise his eyebrows in silent question.

“It’s just, the day you visited Dalton, when Hunter and I were trying to persuade you to re-join the Warblers… you seemed more than just sad. You seemed, well, dejected in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on.”

Sometimes Blaine felt like he was the author of his own pain, and perhaps because it was self-inflicted, it seemed to have left indelible marks that were impossible to hide. “I still can’t quite believe it’s a thing that I did. I used to think that if anyone I was dating ever cheated on me I would break-up with them immediately, because why would you ever stay with someone who could treat you so terribly? It had never occurred to me that I would be the one to cheat. It was just such a shock, and kind of scary to realize that maybe I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did. It made me question what other things I might be capable of.”

“So why’d you do it?” Sebastian asked gently.

Blaine sighed, before leaning back in his seat, and turning slightly to look out the window, avoiding looking at Sebastian while he spoke. “When Kurt and I met, he was super into me. I liked him, too, of course, but just as a friend, and I had no idea how he felt… I’m told I can be a bit oblivious,” Blaine chuckled in self-deprecation. “Eventually, I realized my feelings ran deeper than those of friendship, and I became the lovesick one. I kind of feel like ever since then I’ve been the one in pursuit of him, and he, well… I don’t want to say he gave up or anything, but I think for him, our love was kind of settled, y’know? He was in love with me, and me with him, and what more was needed than that?”

“But you did need more,” Sebastian surmised.

“I’ve come to realize that Kurt and I are just very different in how we both give and receive love.” He paused to chance a look at Sebastian, to see if he was still even listening, and was surprised to see that he was giving Blaine his full attention. “My therapist told me that there are five love languages: mine is ‘Words of Affirmation’, and I’m pretty sure Kurt’s would be ‘Acts of Service’… he loved being serenaded, or having breakfast in bed made for him, and don’t get me wrong, I liked being able to do those things for him; they made me happy, too. But, god, I don’t know, I just wanted to hear it from him sometimes – that I was important to him, that I added value to his life. But I don’t think he knew how to do that, or at least, not in the way that I needed. And once he moved to New York, those feelings amplified ten-fold… it was just so hard, and I was so alone…” Blaine trailed off. “Shit, I’m sorry Sebastian. You don’t want to hear all of this, I’m sure.”

“Blaine, stop. If I didn’t want to listen, you’d know. I may not have experience in everything you’re talking about, but I do know that you deserved to have someone be there for you.” Sebastian couldn’t stand the thought of Blaine not having had anyone in his life he could turn to for support, and he wished more than anything that he could go back in time and be that person for Blaine –  the one to make him realize that he had value outside of being Kurt’s boyfriend and that he was important, not just to him, but to so many people.

“Thanks, Bas.” Blaine smiled softly.

“I do have a question, though. I get why you broke up the first time, but he obviously forgave you, even agreed to marry you… so, did you – I mean, you didn’t cheat again did you?”

 “God, no!” Blaine’s expression would be comical if it wasn’t such a serious conversation. “I would never do that again, not to him, or to anyone. But things were never quite the same after that. It felt like every time we had a fight I was already down a point. After all, I was ‘The Cheater’. And I felt like I was constantly having to make up for that.”

“That’s not fair,” Sebastian interjected. “He shouldn’t have taken you back if he didn’t forgive you.”

“I really do think he wanted to… but it’s hard to make yourself feel something you don’t. Anyway, there were a lot of little things leading up to this break-up, but I think what it really boils down to is that I was not the person he thought I was when we first met, and he could never quite forgive me for tarnishing the image he had built up in his head. Turns out I’m more frog than Prince.”

“Well, you do love to jump on things, and green is definitely your color…” Sebastian said with the straightest face he could muster, tugging on the collar of the Kelly-green t-shirt Blaine was wearing in emphasis.

“I’m teasing, Blaine,” he said, when he saw the pout beginning to form on Blaine’s face, playfully bumping their shoulders. “Did you ever stop to think, though,” he began more seriously, “that maybe you just haven’t met your Prince Charming yet? Someone who loves you unconditionally, warts and all?” Blaine looked over at him in surprise. In truth, he had been starting to consider that maybe Kurt wasn’t his soulmate… how could he be, when he couldn’t truly accept all of him, the good, the bad, and everything in-between? He just hadn’t expected that type of clarity from Sebastian Smythe of all people. He stared at him for a good minute, eyes traversing the planes of his face, jumping from beauty mark to beauty mark, and landing on his lips. God, what he wouldn’t give to feel them pressed against his own, down his neck, over his abdomen… Blaine cleared his throat and startled himself out of his daydream.

“Well, anyway, thanks for listening. You’re the only person I’ve really told all of this to… well, aside from my therapist, but she’s paid to listen to me. Your friendship means a lot to me.”

“Anytime, B. I’m sure we can figure out some form of payment later,” Sebastian joked, trying to compensate for the sadness that he felt threatening to overtake his face. He knew he should be thrilled that he and Blaine had managed to revive their friendship, no small feat, given their history. But it still stung to know that a friend is all that Blaine would ever see him as, but if that’s what Blaine needed right now, that’s what he would be.

***

Their first stop in Chiang Mai came at the recommendation of one of the hostel’s hosts, Sandy, an American expat who had sold all of his worldly possessions, packed up shop, and moved to Thailand ten years prior. Sebastian and Blaine made their way to Doi Inthanon Elephant Rescue National Park, after Blaine was assured that the elephants were treated with great care. There they met up with a couple of other travellers and the group headed towards the elephant habitat, but not before they each donned a traditional pink poncho to distinguish themselves as friendly to the elephants and were supplied with a satchel of cantaloupe and bananas to feed them. Blaine’s arm was getting sore from the amount of times he’d pinched himself in the last ten minutes, not quite believing where he was. “You know, I was Babar several years in a row for Halloween. It was one of my best costumes.”

Sebastian looked over at Blaine with a grin. “Leave it to you to have a penchant for pachyderms, Anderson.”

Blaine chuckled. “He has a bow-tie, how could I resist?” As he turned to ask Sebastian about his own costuming history (a very important question, in Blaine’s opinion), he spotted two adult elephants in the distance, walking with a baby elephant in tow. “Oh my god, Sebastian – look!”

All conversation stopped as the group observed the elephants in their natural environment, some taking photos, others just basking in their presence, before following the mammoth beauties into a mud pit located down hill from where they stood.

“Now,” Benji, their guide for the afternoon prompted, “in order to help these guys protect themselves from insects we’re gonna rub some of this mud onto their backs. Think of it as a primitive spa service.”

Blaine started when he felt Sebastian’s lips graze his ear as he whispered, “Told you I would get you messy.” Blaine rolled his eyes in an attempt to seem unfazed, but he couldn’t ignore the thrill that ran down his spine at the words.

Once the elephants (and their human masseuses) were completely encased in mud, it was time to go to the small lagoon adjacent the mud pit for a cool down session, which proved to be the highlight of the whole experience. Splashing around with the elephants who would spray them every once in awhile with water from their trunks, Blaine was struck by how carefree and happy Sebastian looked; Sebastian had been right when he’d called Blaine out for being a little bit high maintenance but, in truth, Blaine had always thought the same to be true of Sebastian. Here though, covered in mud, and splashing about with the widest of grins on his face – this was where he looked the most like himself. Blaine was shocked out of his dazed state by a huge splash of water to the face. He sputtered for a minute, not sure of the culprit, until he saw Sebastian nearly doubled over in laughter. Grabbing the closest bucket and filling it to the brim, he made his way over to retaliate.

“Oh, this is war, Smythe.”

The others around them joined in, and soon they were engaged in a full-on splash battle. Once Sebastian and his unofficial “team” had claimed victory (though Blaine maintained that he had an unfair advantage due to his “freakishly long legs”), they returned to the base camp and hiked the short way back to the lodge, stopping briefly for a roadside lemonade.

“I can’t believe we just did that.” Blaine was still a bit gobsmacked and hadn’t stopped smiling for hours.

“Told you to stick with me, killer,” Sebastian replied, smug smirk firmly in place as he took a sip of his drink.

Blaine shook his head and chuckled (and tried not to focus too obviously on the way Sebastian’s lips curled around his straw), but he had to admit that so far Sebastian had planned a pretty perfect trip. He couldn’t wait for what was next.

***

“Look, Sebastian! Karaoke!” They had just stepped out of their hostel after having showered and freshened up from their day spent visiting with the elephants (“No Sebastian, the lagoon doesn’t count as my daily shower.”) when Blaine spotted a placard promising Karaoke and Kung Pao; he couldn’t have come up with a better pairing if he’d tried.

For his part, Sebastian was not about to deny himself the pleasure of listening to Blaine perform, and couldn’t help but be charmed by Blaine’s enthusiasm. “Lead the way, killer.”

They were several drinks in, and Blaine had sung what seemed like the entire catalogue of P!NK songs, much to the delight of the crowd who couldn’t quite seem to get enough of him. Sebastian had taken a turn every now and then, too, but was more than content to just watch Blaine and poke fun at the musical failings of the other patrons.

“So, how long have you two been together?” One of the Australians (Alice?) who they’d been sitting next to and chatting with for most of the night asked, leaning against the bar next to Sebastian.

“Oh, we’re not together,” Sebastian said, taking a swig of his beer.

“Really? Huh.”

Sebastian tore his eyes away from the stage, where Blaine was performing a stripped-down version of ‘Ho Hey’ by the Lumineers and glanced over at the girl (Amber?). “Does that surprise you?”

“Sorry, I just got a vibe from you two. And this song…” She mimicked a swoon.

“A vibe, huh?” Sebastian chuckled. “Well, sometimes a song is just a song.”

“Sure, of course…” she trailed off. “But sometimes,” she continued, “a song can reveal things that you can’t quite put into words.”

Sebastian paused, allowing the words Blaine was singing to wash over him:

‘And I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart.’

He huffed; he was starting to get annoyed, and worse he’d missed the end of Blaine’s performance. “Look, Abby (Abby!), you don’t know anything about–” he started, but was distracted by Blaine making his way over to them. He looked positively radiant – how could he ever question his place on the stage?

Blaine stopped just in front of Sebastian and looked up at him through his eyelashes. “Well, what’d you think?” If he didn’t know any better he’d say that Blaine was nervous.

“Never better, killer.”

“Thanks,” Blaine responded shyly, and moved to settle on the stool beside Sebastian, moving it closer so that they were snug up against one another, each point of contact sparking a supernova in Sebastian’s gut. He cleared his throat, and stood up quickly, and with his back to Blaine mumbled, “Gotta hit the head.” One thing was clear, Sebastian needed to do a better job of keeping his feelings under wrap. If even random Australians could pick up on some sort of “vibe” then it was only a matter of time before Blaine noticed as well, and that would ruin everything. He left so quickly for the bathroom that he failed to see the look of disappointment on Blaine’s face.

When he got back, he saw Blaine turned towards the bar, shoulders hunched, nursing his whiskey and soda. Sebastian sighed, but headed back to his seat, determined to keep things normal between them. Blaine immediately perked up when he registered Sebastian’s presence. “Do you maybe want me to sign us up for a duet next? I bet we’d kill a little ‘Under Pressure’.” He looked up at Sebastian hopefully, eyes wide and earnest. “But I get to be Freddy,” he teased.

“Of course we’d kill it,” he scoffed, “that goes without saying.” There was nothing that Sebastian would rather do more than sing a duet with Blaine, something he’d never gotten the chance to do back at Dalton, but he needed to reign things back in, and singing with Blaine was not going to help matters. “But I’m not really feeling it tonight. You go ahead, though, if you want.”

Blaine instantly sagged, as though he were Pinocchio and all of his strings had been cut. “Oh,” he said softly. “No, that’s okay, it’s getting late… maybe another time?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Sebastian replied noncommittally with a shrug, as he tore his eyes away from the dejection on Blaine’s face and turned back to the stage to see a group of girls butchering a Destiny’s Child song.

***

Blaine woke up the next morning feeling more than a little blue. He wasn’t sure where he’d gone wrong; if there was one thing that he was good at it was communicating his feelings through song. With Kurt, it had been so easy – music was like its own language, and they’d both known all the words. But for all of the languages that Sebastian spoke, it seemed this was one he lacked fluency in. Blaine knew he had a tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve, but that was who he was and there was no changing it even if he wanted to. He had hoped that his song last night would serve as a catalyst… but for what? A relationship? He knew after his experience with Eli, brief though it was, that he was not interested in a casual hook-up, but maybe that was all Sebastian would ever think of him as – if he even still wanted that from him. Blaine had thought, at the very least, that the song would spark a conversation, but it seemed to have had the opposite effect, with Sebastian more closed off than he had been since their falling out in high school.

He hadn’t come on this trip with any ulterior motives, or any hopes really, as far as he and Sebastian were concerned. But almost from the moment he’d stepped foot on the plane back in Columbus, Blaine had felt that same pull that he’d felt back in high school. Then it had been more about the thrill of the unknown; Sebastian represented mystery, and maybe even a little bit of danger, and Blaine couldn’t deny that it had felt nice to be so desired by someone who could have anyone he wanted. But now… now he actually liked who Sebastian was – thoughtful, funny, and so god damn smart. He’d never felt as seen as he was when he was with Sebastian, and the ability to just be himself, with no pretenses, was freeing in a way that Blaine had never imagined.

There had been more than one moment in which he was sure that Sebastian felt the same way. Blaine would sometimes catch Sebastian staring at him with an expression that reminded him of how Kurt had looked at him back when they were first falling in love; fondness, joy, and a little bit of awe like he couldn’t quite believe his dumb fucking luck that he’d managed to snag the boy of his dreams. But maybe he’d misread Sebastian’s flirty nature for something else. He just didn’t know what to make of his hot and cold tendencies that seemed to be getting steadily icier the further into their trip they got.

He’d woken up to Sebastian tugging on his sneakers, wanting to get a run in before the next leg of their journey which would involve hours of sitting in a cramped bus. Blaine had offered to go with him, but Sebastian had been so reluctant that Blaine had feigned the sudden onset of a headache to give him an out. It was nearing lunch, and Sebastian still wasn’t back. Blaine was trying not to worry, but he wasn’t having much success. He’d always been the anxious type, never able to sleep as a child when his parents went out at night until everyone was back home safe and sound.

Eventually Sebastian returned to their room, looking sweaty and dishevelled, and he immediately began searching his bag for a clean set of clothes without so much as a glance in Blaine’s direction.

“Where have you been?” Blaine questioned softly.

Sebastian stopped his rummaging and looked over his shoulder at him with barely disguised annoyance. “Uh, running? Hence the running shoes. And the running shorts.”

Blaine wrapped his arms round his torso and furrowed his brow in confusion. Why was Sebastian being so mean? “That was hours ago. I was worried about you.”

Sebastian sighed deeply, and snapped, “I didn’t realize I’d invited my mother along with me on this trip.” He took his clothes in hand and grabbed the towel from the end of his bunk and made his way to the communal showers, brushing shoulders with Blaine as he soldiered his way past.

*           

“God, what am I doing?” Sebastian mumbled to himself as he walked the short distance from their room to the bathroom. He wanted to put some distance between himself and Blaine, sure, but he’d taken it too far in the opposite direction and was being an outright dick. It was like he was watching himself from outside his body as he turned into the boy he was back in high school who had a chip on his shoulder the size of a brick, and whose default was to be the biggest asshole of the bunch, lest anyone think he was anyone worth knowing.

*

Blaine stood in the middle of the room in a state of shock. What the hell was that? As the minutes ticked by, his confusion slowly turned into anger. Sebastian had no right to speak to him that way, and Blaine was determined to let him know just that as soon as he got back to their room.

As it turned out he didn’t need to say anything; Sebastian walked into the room, head down, looking abashed. He cleared his throat, his eyes not meeting Blaine but instead focusing on a spot on the wall just over his shoulder.

“Um, listen, about before…” he rubbed the back of his neck, his uncomfortableness registering with Blaine immediately. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

“So why did you?”

Sebastian shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just not used to having someone around all of the time, someone who cares about what I’m doing or where I go.”

“You’re not… you’re not sorry I came are you?” Blaine looked up at him sadly, eyes shining with the threat of tears.

“What? No. Blaine, of course not.” Sebastian scrubbed his face in frustration. “You being here has been…” he shook his head, not willing or able to express how much Blaine’s presence meant to him. “You’ve made this trip a thousand times better, I promise.”

“Okay,” Blaine sniffled.

“So we’re okay?” Sebastian asked apprehensively.

Blaine rolled his eyes and gave him a small smile. “Yes, we’re okay. But I get the window seat from now on, AND you have to let me watch as many episodes of Real Housewives as I want.”

Sebastian groaned. “Even Atlanta? You know how much I hate that one.” Blaine raised his eyebrow in challenge. “Okay, okay,” Sebastian raised his hands in defeat.

“Come here, you,” he said softly, opening his arms to Blaine who fell happily into them. Sebastian realized he was going to have to work a lot harder at tamping down his ever-growing feelings for Blaine, while remembering to still be his friend.

***

That night was to be their last in Chiang Mai, and they’d saved the best for it. Sebastian had timed the trip so that they would be there for Yee Peng, the Festival of Lanterns. As he was researching stuff to do he came across the festival, an ancient Buddhist ritual that focused on releasing Khom Loy (large white rice paper lanterns) during the full moon, which was meant to dispel any bad energy accumulated during the past year, and to generate good fortune for the coming one. At the time he hadn’t known if Blaine would be accompanying him or not, but he had been hopeful, and he couldn’t think of a better way to wipe the slate clean and start the year anew.

They made their way to Mae Jo University where some of the festivities were to take place and were surprised to see it almost completely full. Sebastian scoped the grounds, using his height advantage to try and find a spot, and when he finally saw one he grabbed Blaine by the elbow, dragging him bodily over picnic blankets, and side-stepping children playing on the grass, narrowly beating out another group of travellers who were also eyeing up the space.  Luckily for them, they turned out to be Canadians, who backed off at the last, all while apologizing profusely.

Sebastian smirked, and puffed out his chest in what Blaine assumed was triumph.

“Jesus, I haven’t seen anyone with such single-minded determination since Kurt spotted a pair of vintage McQueen boots in a consignment shop during the Black Friday sales.”

Sebastian’s smirk slipped from his face and his eyes narrowed. “Did you just compare me to Hummel?”

“Well, if the boot fits. Now stop pouting and help me lay this out.”

“Not pouting,” Sebastian mumbled sulkily under his breath, grabbing a corner of their blanket.

“Uh-huh,” Blaine sing-songed, and sat down to start arranging the various snacks they’d procured from one of the shops outside the gates of the university for an impromptu picnic.

Sebastian rolled his eyes at himself and sat down next to Blaine. “Well, I got us a good spot in the end, didn’t I?”

Blaine patted his thigh. “That you did, Bas. Your spot-nabbing skills are very impressive.”

“Lot of things about me are impressive,” he volleyed back, earning a laugh from Blaine. He was glad that things had returned to normal after his failed attempt that morning at trying to put some distance between them, and that they could still joke and tease like always.

They set out their spread of salads, fresh fruit, and woon kroob, a crispy jelly candy (or Thai Gummi Bears as Blaine referred to them) that Blaine had become obsessed with and had already made plans to smuggle back to the States with him.

As daylight waned, the processional started with dozens of Buddhist monks carrying candles throughout the crowd while chanting in prayer. In the center of the park was a golden buddha statue raised on a platform, and once the monks reached it the ceremony officially began. Sebastian and Blaine didn’t understand much, if anything, that was being said, but the energy around them was enough to give them a sense of the importance of the event.

After being led in a round of silent meditation it was time to light up the sky, and the monks, who also served as guides, instructed the gathering to fill their lanterns with feelings of love and hope for themselves, their loved ones, and for the world around them. Blaine looked up at Sebastian with a small smile and his heart swelled, just like his lantern, with affection for the boy beside him. Even if nothing ever happened between them, Sebastian was one of Blaine’s people now; someone he would always think of with a smile and for whom he would always wish good things.

Once lit, Blaine and Sebastian released the hold on their lanterns and sent them soaring heavenwards. All around them families and friends, old and new, were gazing at the night sky in hushed awe.

“They say that if your lantern stays lit until you can no longer see it, your wish will come true,” Sebastian spoke quietly, so as not to disturb the tranquil vibe.

Blaine tracked his lantern for as long as possible, hoping that Sebastian was right – he could sure use a bit of good fortune, and his wish coming true would be just that.

“What did you wish for?” he asked Sebastian, curiosity piqued, still trying to keep track of which lantern was his.

“Nothing.”

Blaine turned his head sharply in surprise. “What?”

Sebastian gave up looking for his lantern and faced Blaine. “I don’t need to wish for anything, I have everything I need.”

Blaine stared at him for a long moment, not sure how to respond to that. Did he just mean that since he was rich he didn’t want for anything, or was he talking about something more? Blaine certainly wasn’t about to ask.

“And what about you?”

Blaine tutted. “I can’t tell you that – wishes don’t come true if you say them out loud.”

“I didn’t know you were so superstitious, Anderson.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not taking any chances.”

Sebastian nodded in apparent satisfaction, and Blaine was glad he didn’t press him for an answer because he wasn’t sure he could reveal that his wish was for this trip to never end. He’d always known that at some point during his life he’d want to travel, but this trip had come about so suddenly that he hadn’t really had much time to reflect on how special the things were that he was getting to experience, and more importantly, how happy he was that he was sharing it all with Sebastian. With so much uncertainty surrounding how Sebastian felt about him, Blaine wasn’t quite ready to give voice to any of that.

Blaine shrugged those thoughts off and looked skyward once more. When he was satisfied that he could no longer see his lantern, they started packing up their stuff and making their way back to the main road.

Despite the little twinge of sadness Blaine felt from their earlier conversation, as they left the festival he was filled with adrenaline and tried to form words to describe the experience.

Sebastian beat him to the punch and provided his own take on the night: “It’s like coming down from a high,” he concluded.

Now that Blaine had a point of reference for what that felt like, he couldn’t help but nod in agreement. “They were like giant pulsating jellyfish.”

Sebastian chuckled. “Are you sure you’re not actually high, killer?”

“Shut up. You know what I mean.”

“I do,” he conceded.

“Do you ever feel sometimes like there’s just too much beauty in the world?” Blaine said, checking his phone to make sure they were heading in the right direction, before turning his attention back to Sebastian.

“There’s no such thing as “too much”. Whoever came up with that less is more crap was on crack. More is more.”

“Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst…” Blaine paused for effect. “And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.”

Sebastian stopped in his tracks and stared at him for a long minute. “American Beauty?”

Blaine groaned. “Damn it! I thought I had you with that one.”

“I’m telling you, B, this is not a game you can win. I’ve seen all the movies, and my memory is impeccable.”

“Yes, yes, the great all-knowing Smythe.”

 

They had almost reached their hostel when Blaine had what he would later come to think of as one of the best decisions of their trip. “We should get tattoos!”

“Okay, now I know for sure that you’re on something. Were those gummies actually edibles? Didn’t you learn in kindergarten that it’s rude not to share with the class?”

“I’m serious! What better way to commemorate our trip! Plus, tattoos are super hot.”

“Is that so? I didn’t think bad boy was your type.”

“I don’t have a type. But, Tom Hardy? Hot. Adam Levine? Hot. Those are just facts.”

“Well, okay, killer, if getting a tattoo will put me in the hot category, let’s go,” he laughed, rolling up the sleeve of his shirt.

“Oh please, you already know you’re hot.” Blaine stumbled a bit, realizing what he’d just said. He coughed, trying to regain his composure, and sneaked a look at Sebastian, who was wearing the biggest shit-eating grin he’d ever seen.

Blaine rolled his eyes before taking a hold of Sebastian’s hand and dragging him into the shop he’d spied from the road that had sparked the idea in the first place.

“So, what should we get?” He asked happily, clasping his hands together in excitement as he took in the artwork on the wall.

“Well, you should definitely get a tramp stamp,” Sebastian replied, eying him over. “An ass as great as yours deserves to be adorned.”

Blaine scoffed. “Please. Somehow I don’t think that fifty years from now you’ll still think that a wise choice.”

“I don’t know, Tramp Stamp Gramps has a nice ring to it.”

Blaine snorted. “Not happening.”

They began looking through binders of ideas, until they finally landed on two drawings they liked. Blaine decided on a little elephant, and Sebastian opted for the phases of the moon. Then it was only a matter of deciding where to put them. Sebastian seemed unsure, but eventually decided on his inner forearm, but Blaine wouldn’t tell Sebastian where he wanted his.

It wasn’t until Blaine hopped up in the chair and began unbuttoning his shorts, that Sebastian realized what was about to happen. “I thought you decided against a tramp stamp,” he teased, eyes not straying from Blaine’s lower half, loathe to miss even a moment of potential nudity.

“I did,” Blaine replied simply, and continued to pull his shorts down, until the jut of his hip bones was revealed. “There,” he told the tattoo artist, pointing to an area of skin just below his v-line.

Sebastian stared dumbly, mouth gone dry at the sight. He was only torn from his stupor by Blaine requesting his hand for holding.

He smirked. “Scared, Anderson?”

“Not scared, no,” Blaine said, squeezing Sebastian’s hand as tightly as he could. “I may, however, be a tad bit squeamish.” He opened one eye and chanced a look at Sebastian, trying hard not to look at what the artist was up to. “I once passed out while watching ‘Extreme Makeover’… the original one with all the face lifts, not the home renovating one,” he clarified. “Though, come to think of it, some of their design choices were enough to make a person nauseous.” He scrunched his eyes closed again when he caught a glance at what he thought might be blood.

Sebastian’s inking went much smoother, as he was neither averse to blood, or needles, but he still took the opportunity to have Blaine hold his hand and regale him with stories of his early Warbler days, before Sebastian had joined.

When they were finished, they made their way back to their hostel, arms linked, holding each other up, exhaustion setting in (and having experienced significant blood loss, if you were to ask Blaine).

“I was wrong.”

“Hm?” Sebastian responded sleepily.

“Back in Amsterdam, when I said that was the best day ever? I was wrong. This is.”

Sebastian wrapped his arm around Blaine’s shoulders, pulling him closer. As far as he was concerned, they were all the best days, as long as he was with Blaine. He almost said as much, but chickened out at the last, instead simply humming in agreement, and continuing to hold Blaine as close as he dared.

***

The next day dawned bright and early and they packed up their things once more, this time destined for what was to be the main event of their trip: the infamous Full Moon Party. But first they had to endure hours on a bus, packed in tight like sardines. Sebastian had offered to just fly them where they needed to go, but Blaine seemed to want the “authentic experience” so Sebastian had relented. After their argument in Chiang Mai, Blaine had hoped things would return to normal, and for the most part they had – he wasn’t exaggerating when he said he was having the time of his life, and the previous night was a testament to that – but for every inch forward, they seemed to take two steps back. There was a stand-offish quality to Sebastian that hadn’t been there before. Blaine kept trying to coax him out of his shell but at some point it become evident that he wanted to be left to his own devices, and so Blaine took the time to write out some postcards to his friends and family back home, and also to get some sleep, as he was certain that once they reached their final destination it would be in short supply. As much as Blaine had been looking forward to this part of the journey and the opportunity it would grant for hours of uninterrupted conversation with Sebastian – which ranged from the inane (“Who would win in a bar fight between the Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?”) to the sublime (“If there is a God, why does she allow people to suffer?”) – he was starting to regret suggesting they take the scenic route. Sebastian ran so hot and cold lately that Blaine had a hard time knowing which Sebastian he would be dealing with at any given time. It was tiring, and worse, it made him sad. Blaine decided he had to let go of any hopes he had of he and Sebastian building a relationship beyond that of friendship. Maybe back in high school Sebastian had liked him, but perhaps he was only a catch in Ohio where openly gay boys were few and far between. In the real-world Blaine knew that Sebastian could have any boy he wanted, and so why would it be him? This was probably a conversation he ought to be having with Sebastian, but he couldn’t quite figure out how to bring it up; instead, he did what he always did – bury any unpleasant feelings and try to make sure things were okay on the surface. He was keenly aware that that had been one of the ways in which he’d contributed to the downfall of his relationship with Kurt, but he supposed it would take more than a few sessions with his therapist to correct that particular impulse.

“Penny for your thoughts, Anderson?”

Blaine started as Sebastian removed one of the earbuds from Blaine’s ears; he’d been so lost in reflecting on his relationship issues that he hadn’t noticed that Sebastian had woken up from his nap, looking all sleep-rumpled and cozy in his jogging pants and soft heather-grey t-shirt. It had been a couple of weeks now, but Blaine still hadn’t gotten over seeing Sebastian so dressed down. It was disarming, and more than a little endearing, to be given access to a side of Sebastian that he suspected few people were privy to.

He realized that he hadn’t answered the question and shrugged a little sheepishly when he noticed the look of amusement on Sebastian’s face. “Just, you know, thinking about school stuff,” he lied. “Making a mental list of where I might like to go next year.”

“Oh yeah?” Sebastian asked, brightening up at the topic. “Any front-runners?”

“Well, New York, obviously – Tisch has a program on art and public policy that I wouldn’t mind taking as a minor…”

“You still want to perform, though, don’t you?”

“Yeah, of course. You were right – I don’t think I could give it up if I tried. It’s just… I want more than that, you know?” Blaine was reminded of another evening spent in the company of Sebastian that had left him with the desire to lead a life of art and altruism – which probably had more than a little to do with the half dozen or so beers Sebastian had plied him with that night, but the idea of “making art and helping people” had permeated his alcohol-sodden brain nonetheless.  

“And then I thought maybe I’d apply to some schools in California… when we went to LA for Nationals, I have to admit, there’s a certain buzz in the air, like it’s the place to be if you want big stuff to happen. God, now I’m starting to sound like Cooper.”

“Perhaps you and he could start your own reality show, ‘Keeping Up With The Andersons’, give Kim and co. a real run for their money,” Sebastian teased. “But seriously, I’m glad that you’re giving yourself some options. There’s nothing better than finding that one place that truly feels like home. I remember when I spent my first summer in Paris with my mother after she and my dad divorced, and finally feeling like I belonged somewhere.”

Blaine gave him a small smile, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He was starting to think that maybe, for him, home was not a place but a person, and that thought scared him especially since the same didn’t seem to be true for Sebastian. Blaine would gladly travel the world with him, not because he needed him, certainly not in the way he’d needed Kurt, but because he wanted him. Maybe now was the time to try and finally talk things through with Sebastian, really get everything out into the open. But before he could find the words, the moment passed.

“Anyway, I think that’s enough sentimentality for one evening. You up for losing another game of checkers, killer?”

“Sure,” Blaine replied softly, chastising himself for not being more forthright. Any conversation about their relationship, or lack thereof, would have to wait until another time – Blaine just hoped that when he finally gathered enough courage, it wouldn’t be too late.

***

When they finally got to Koh Phangan it was so much more – louder, bigger, brighter – than either boy had expected. They’d arrived two days before the actual full moon party so that they could gather their bearings, but the party looked to already be in full swing. Thousands of backpackers, English teachers, and trustafarians (of which Sebastian learned he was one) were packed on to the beach, decked out in what seemed to be the unofficial uniform of the island: tank tops, shorts, black Havaianas, and head-to-toe neon paint to better glow under the UV lights at night.

Sebastian turned to Blaine with a blinding smile and held out his hand to help Blaine down from the small dinghy that had taken them from the mainland to the island. “You ready, killer?”

“As I’ll ever be!” Blaine smiled, taking the proffered hand, and vowing to let all of his worries and insecurities about Sebastian and their relationship go; this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and he wasn’t going to get so caught up in his head that he forgot to have fun.

 

They checked into their hostel, and after dropping off their bags and getting settled in they headed to a nearby cantina for supper and a few pre-party drinks. There they met another group of travellers all hailing from the States – three guys, and two girls – with whom they immediately clicked.

While Blaine was chatting with one of the girls, Katy, on where to get a good deal on an outfit for the following night’s festivities, Sebastian had taken up a game of pool with the guys.

When it was Sebastian’s turn, he noticed that one of the boys, Nate, was giving him a thorough once over, eyes zeroing in on the way the cut of his jeans accentuated his ass. Interesting, Sebastian thought. Maybe this is what he needed to get over Blaine once and for all. Nothing serious, just another boy to enjoy, to remind him of who he really was – not a brooding lovesick teenager, but a guy who knew how to have fun, how to live in the moment and take things in stride. He would never be what Blaine wanted (or deserved, his mind unhelpfully supplied) so why even try?

Nate was the perfect candidate. He looked as though he had just stepped out of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue: tall, blonde, and handsome in a way that you could tell he was keenly aware of. Most importantly, he was nothing like Blaine. When he’d finished making his shot, Sebastian walked over to where Nate was perched at the bar.

“Buy me a drink?”

Nate laughed. “Shouldn’t you be offering to buy me one?”

“Nah.” Sebastian smirked. “This is just payment for all the ogling you’ve been doing. First ten minutes are free, then you gotta buy me a drink.”

Nate chuckled softly in response and flagged the bartender over.

Sebastian knew exactly how this tune went and no matter how much time had passed he would always be able to play it and play it well.

He noticed Blaine out of the corner of his eye, still talking with his new friend, but looking over at him every few seconds, and it was a credit to how much time they had spent together and how well he was able to read Blaine that he knew the look he was giving him was one of confusion tinged with hurt. Sebastian swivelled around on his stool to accept his drink, ignoring the pit forming in his stomach.

“Here’s to doing and drinking, not sitting and thinking,” he toasted, to no one in particular, before downing his drink and calling for another. What he needed was action, not to sit there moping, worried about Blaine. To that end, he dragged Nate to the dance floor for a couple of songs and let himself get lost in the beat. They weren’t dancing particularly close, but Sebastian still felt a bit guilty, for reasons he didn’t quite understand. He was single, Blaine and he weren’t a thing, and were never going to be a thing. As the night wore on their friends joined them on the dance floor, Blaine included, though Sebastian noticed he seemed to be avoiding getting too close to him.

*

Objectively, Blaine knew he had no right to be upset. He and Sebastian were friends, and he should want for him to have fun and enjoy himself. He just wanted that fun to be with him. He decided to give Sebastian a wide berth and let him dance his cares away with another boy – a boy who, like Sebastian, was far too attractive for his own good. Blaine knew he was no slouch in the looks department; he was confident enough to know that he looked good, and there was certainly no shortage of people in the bar who he could chat up if he wanted to. But boys like Sebastian and Nate were a different sort, and it made Blaine feel a little left out if he was being honest.

He reasoned that they would likely never see these people again, so what did it matter if Sebastian was having fun with someone else? Nate would be out of their orbit by tomorrow, and Blaine and Sebastian would still be there, together, having a good time like they always did.

*

The two groups parted ways at the end of the night, but not before Nate slipped Sebastian his number as he made to leave. Sebastian pocketed it quickly, not sure if he planned on using it or not.

The walk back to their hostel was decidedly quieter and more subdued than at any other point of their trip.  

“Everything okay?” Sebastian asked, somewhat hesitantly.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I don’t know, you tell me.”

“I just said nothing was wrong.” It sounded a little petulant, even to Blaine’s ears. Thankfully, Sebastian dropped it, and they made it back to their hostel without having to engage in any serious conversation, both boys not sure what the other was thinking, or what to say to make things right.

Blaine changed out of his clothes and into a robe, and decided that since a bath was out of the question (and oh, how he missed the Mandarin Oriental, both for its amenities, and for how it had so thoroughly ensconced them in a little bubble of joy), he opted for a long, hot shower. As he let the water soothe away the day’s aches, he also tried to wash away the unpleasantness that the evening had wrought. So perhaps things had gotten off to a rough start, but Blaine was sure that come tomorrow everything would be back to normal, and by the time he had stepped out of the stall he was in much better spirits and was looking forward to having some fun with his best friend.

***

Blaine made his way back down to the beach, drinks in hand, weaving through the throngs of partygoers, trying to make Sebastian out in the crowd. They’d spent all day at the beach before heading out for the night, and as predicted, things between them had mostly returned to normal. There’d been a bit of residual awkwardness, but overall they’d had a great time, and Blaine was hopeful for the night ahead of them. He could hardly move for how packed the beach was, but eventually he spotted Sebastian sitting on a piece of driftwood with… wait, was that Nate? Their heads were bent close together in conversation and he could just make out Sebastian’s face in the light from the fire; what he saw made his stomach lurch uncomfortably. He was giving Nate the same look that he often gave Blaine: fondness mixed with unmistakeable desire, that Blaine had, up until now, thought was reserved only for him. Nate had his hand on Sebastian’s lower back, and they looked cozier than he and Sebastian had been in days. He hesitated… should he approach them? Or maybe he should turn back, pretend like he hadn’t seen them?

The decision was made for him when Sebastian looked up and met his eyes. He looked like a kid caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar as he gave Blaine a wan smile. Blaine shuffled over with their buckets of booze and stood awkwardly in front of the pair.

“Hey Blaine!” Nate gave him a small wave, oblivious to the tension crackling in the air. “I can’t believe we managed to run into you guys again!”

“Yeah, small world,” Blaine said shortly, before setting one of the buckets in the sand by Sebastian’s feet. “Sorry, I only bought two…” he trailed off. “Actually, you know what? You can have mine.” He handed his drink to Nate, as Sebastian looked on in confusion.

“Oh, sweet!” Nate smiled. “Thanks, Blaine!”

“Yeah, um, actually I think I’m gonna call it a night and head back to the cabin. I got a bit too much sun earlier.”

“Blaine, wait!” Sebastian called out, but Blaine kept on walking, calling over his shoulder, “It’s fine, really, you guys have fun. I’ll catch you in the morning.”

 

An hour passed, and then two, and Blaine was starting to think that Sebastian might not come back at all. He got up to use the bathroom just as Sebastian opened the door, stumbling a bit as he tried with some difficulty to get his key out of the lock.

“Oh, you’re awake,” Sebastian said, slurring his words slightly.

Blaine scoffed. “Sorry to disappoint.”

“That’s not what I–”

“Whatever,” Blaine said as he moved quickly into the bathroom and turned on the light. He leaned back against the door, taking a couple of breaths to try and regroup. He would give himself exactly one minute to be sad. At 59 seconds he stood up straight, determination coursing through his veins. Screw Sebastian. If he didn’t want Blaine, then Blaine didn’t want him. He wasn’t going to let some boy make him feel like shit again.

He opened the door, and tried to head back towards the bed, but Sebastian was standing in his way. “So, are you going to tell me what’s wrong, or are we just going to pretend that you didn’t storm off earlier?” Apparently, Blaine wasn’t going to get away with acting like everything was fine.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. What’s going on, Blaine?”

Blaine glared at him, his resolve to ignore Sebastian already crumbling. “I don’t know, why don’t you tell me? Where’s Nate, or did you guys finish already? That’s quick, even for you.”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“Oh please, Sebastian, I saw how you were looking at him, how you’ve BEEN looking at him ever since we got here.”

“And how is that?” Sebastian at least had the decency to look somewhat chagrined, knowing there was no point trying to deny his obvious interest in the other boy.

“Like he’s a particularly tasty snack, and you haven’t eaten in weeks.”

“Well, maybe that’s because I haven’t,” Sebastian snapped.

Blaine gaped at him and willed the tears he could feel building not to fall.

“Blaine, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.”

“Yes you did. I get it, I haven’t put out, so you had to find someone else who would.”

“Don’t be stupid, nothing happened. I don’t give a shit about Nate–”

“Oh, so now I’m stupid?”

“Jesus, Blaine. Why are you making this so difficult? We were just talking. And why do you even care, anyway? We’re not together, and you’ve made it perfectly clear that you don’t see me as anything more than a friend.”

“Right,” Blaine snorted in annoyance. “Because I sing love songs to all my friends.”

“Love songs? What?” Now Sebastian was really confused.

“You know what, never mind. It doesn’t matter. At the start of this trip, I thought…” he paused.

“You thought what?”

Blaine huffed in frustration, “I don’t know, Sebastian. Maybe that you still thought of me the way you did back in high school, maybe that you still wanted me. Maybe that we could actually be something. But ever since Chiang Mai you’ve been distant. Are you that bored of me already? Or was it just that all you ever saw me as was a quick fuck, and since that doesn’t seem likely I’ve become interchangeable with any random dude who’s willing to suck your dick?”

Sebastian was rendered speechless at that.

Blaine seemed more than a bit shocked by what he’d just said as well. He shook his head. “I can’t do this right now,” he said, grabbing his backpack. “I’m going to go see if they have another room available.”

“Great, Blaine. Real mature!” he yelled at Blaine’s retreating back. “Fuck!” He slammed his fist down on the dresser. What the hell had just happened? Did Blaine really think so little of him that he could replace his affections so easily? Or had he just been so intent on making sure that Blaine didn’t realize that he was in love with him that he had pushed him away in the process? More importantly, did this mean that Blaine wanted him in return?

***

8:01am Sebastian: You ok?

8:45am Sebastian: Just tell me that you found somewhere safe to spend the night.

9:37am Sebastian: Blaine, please.

Sebastian sighed, and threw his phone down on the nightstand in frustration. He’d woken up resolved to make things right, but that was kind of hard to do when Blaine wasn’t responding to any of his texts and he didn’t even know where he’d ended up last night after their fight. It didn’t escape him that he’d done pretty much the same thing to Blaine at their hostel in Chiang Mai, but at least he’d had the decency to come back eventually. Sebastian spent the rest of the morning looking for Blaine, but to no avail; just when he was about to contact the front desk and ask for some help in finding the other boy, he saw him gently swaying in one of the provided hammocks behind their room, engrossed in a book, seemingly without a care in the world. Sebastian paused momentarily, uncertain if he should interrupt now that he at least knew that Blaine was okay, but eventually his anger won out. He stalked over to where Blaine was seated, and only halted when Blaine looked up, realizing that he wasn’t alone.

“What the fuck, Blaine? I know you’re mad at me, but the least you could have done was let me know you were alright.”

Blaine pursed his lips, and looked as though he wanted to say something, but instead he snapped his book shut and got up to leave. “Seriously? Are we really not even going to talk about this?” Sebastian asked plaintively.

Blaine sighed and turned around, arms wrapping around his sides as though he were physically trying to hold himself together. Sebastian had never seen him look so small, and he longed to replace Blaine’s arms with his own.

“What do you want me to say, Sebastian?” He sounded so tired. “I’m sorry that I didn’t answer your texts, okay? I’m just…” He paused, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. “I just need some more time.”

“How much time?” Sebastian asked, his voice soft.

“I don’t know,” Blaine sighed. “But I promise that when I’m ready to talk you’ll be the first to know, alright?”

Sebastian could do nothing but nod his head, even though his insides were experiencing tumult the likes of which they’d never before seen. He wanted to scream, and beg, and plead for Blaine to listen to him, to understand that all he wanted was to be with him, not some stupid boy he could barely even remember the name of. But it wasn’t up to him. He had to wait until Blaine was ready, and just hope it wasn’t too late.

***

They’d been avoiding each other all night, sharing glances now and then from across the beach, but neither one of them seemed able to make the first move to shorten the distance between them. It appeared that Sebastian was honoring his agreement to give Blaine some space, and while he appreciated the time to think things over, he still wasn’t sure what he wanted to say. Eventually Blaine gave up and lost himself to the crowd.

He was enthralled with the sensation of being surrounded by bodies, pressing in upon him from all sides. Normally he might’ve felt claustrophobic in a situation such as this, but the feeling of being completely enveloped in the writhing mass was oddly comforting. It made him feel a part of something, an energy larger than himself. The music switched to a thumping bass driven song and Blaine closed his eyes and lost himself to the beat.

*

Sebastian couldn’t keep his eyes off Blaine – he looked otherworldly, covered in body paint and glitter, and a sheen of sweat that glistened under the moonlight as he twirled and spun his way across the beach. Sebastian had promised Blaine that he would give him space, and he wanted to respect that, he did, but the whole situation was just one big misunderstanding, and the longer he went without explaining how he felt the more he began to worry that their relationship would be irreparably damaged. “Fuck it,” he muttered to himself, as he pushed his way through the crowd, and came up behind Blaine.

*

Blaine jolted momentarily when he felt the press of a warm body behind him, but soon relaxed into the touch when he recognized the familiar scent of Sebastian enveloping him. Long arms wrapped around his torso, a hand coming to rest over his heart. Sebastian leaned down and placed a featherlight kiss to his neck, so soft that Blaine wasn’t sure he hadn’t imagined it. “Blaine, please,” Sebastian whispered into his ear, making him shiver. “I’m sorry for being such a jerk. I don’t want to fight, I want you.” He gently guided Blaine’s hips to turn him around so that they were facing one another.

Blaine looked up at him, brow furrowed and eyes swimming with a mix of emotions that Sebastian couldn’t quite decipher. “What about Nate?”

Sebastian clucked his tongue in frustration. “I don’t care about Nate, or any other guy for that matter. I just didn’t know how you felt. I thought I had missed my chance, and that all we would ever be is friends. I didn’t know, Blaine,” he reiterated, hands squeezing Blaine’s hips for emphasis.

They stared at each other for a long minute, as Blaine weighed the sincerity of Sebastian’s words. He wanted so badly to believe that this was as real to Sebastian as it was to him. But he had to be sure.

“Do you really mean that? Because I’m in this Sebastian… all in, if you are…”

“I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but I do know that everything I’ve ever wanted is right here standing in front of me.”

At that Blaine raised his hands and looped them around Sebastian’s neck, bringing their bodies closer together, the vibrations of the music reverberating through them both. “You’re such a sap, Smythe,” Blaine teased, but his blinding smile betrayed the happiness that Sebastian’s words had wrought. Blaine stood up on his toes, feet sinking a bit into the sand, still warm from the heat of the day, and tilted his head back as Sebastian leaned down until they were mere centimeters apart. Sebastian gave him one last look to make sure that this was really what he wanted, and after receiving a slight nod in response, closed the gap, pressing his mouth to Blaine’s. It was tentative at first, but slowly they built a rhythm; Sebastian’s tongue licked a path to part Blaine’s lips and slipped inside, his hand cradling Blaine’s face to guide him ever closer. It had been months since Blaine had been kissed, and even longer since someone had made him feel so cherished, so wanted. After a minute, or an hour, Blaine couldn’t be sure, he pulled pack, softly nipping at Sebastian’s lower lip before running over it with his tongue, eliciting a soft groan of pleasure from the other boy that travelled straight to his dick. Sebastian rested his forehead against Blaine’s and smiled. “I knew you’d be worth the wait.”

The next song started, and Sebastian turned Blaine back around and pulled him flush to his body once more, moving their hips together in time with the beat. Sebastian’s hands were everywhere, across his chest, over his hips and eventually snaking under his shirt and coming to rest on his stomach just above the waistband of his shorts. Through it all Sebastian was mouthing and nipping at Blaine’s neck, leaving little pinpricks of pleasure mixed with pain. Blaine reached his hand back and up, running his fingers through Sebastian’s hair and holding his head in place so that he would continue worshipping his neck. He let out a long moan as Sebastian licked the shell of his ear, but it was eaten up by the music around them.

“Do you have any idea how much I want you?”

Blaine could feel Sebastian’s length pressing against him and ground his ass back in response. “I think I may have some idea.”

Sebastian groaned, his head dropping to rest on Blaine’s shoulder. “You’re gonna be the death of me, killer.”

“Well I’ve gotta earn my nickname somehow,” he joked. He turned his head around to make eye contact with Sebastian, and added earnestly, “Do you want to go back to our room?” His eyes were wide and shone so brightly in the moonlight that it was almost hard for Sebastian to look directly at him; he’d never seen anything or anyone quite so beautiful. There was something else there, a trust that Sebastian wasn’t sure he’d earned, but he knew he’d do whatever it took to be worthy of that look. He leaned down and placed a quick kiss to Blaine’s mouth, chuckling when he pulled back and Blaine tried to chase his lips.

“Race ya?”

 

“Mmph, wait, wait–” Sebastian removed his hands from Blaine comically fast, backing up from where he had him pressed against the door of their room.

“You can still keep touching me, dummy,” Blaine chided fondly, taking his hands and placing them back where they’d been, resting over the swell of his ass. “Just, before we go any further, I wanted to say that I’m sorry, too.”

“Blaine, you don’t–”

“No, Bas, I do. You’ve been so good to me this entire trip and I shouldn’t have questioned your motives. I’ve known for a long time that you aren’t just looking for more notches on your bedpost; you told me all the way back in senior year that you’d turned over a new leaf, and you have. I see it in everything you do – in the way that you make sure that I’m always comfortable and happy and having fun. You respect my boundaries, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me, especially after all that we’ve been through. So, I’m sorry. For what I said last night, and for not giving you – us, a chance back then. I wasn’t ready.”

“But you are now?” Sebastian asked hopefully, eyes locked with Blaine’s.

“I am.”

 

After the initial push and pull of clothes and bodies, hands fumbling, and feet stumbling, they made it to the bed. Sebastian gently urged Blaine to lie down, and spent a minute just taking Blaine in. Nothing Sebastian had ever imagined could quite compare to seeing Blaine laid out as he was now, all tanned skin, and taut muscle, with a v-line that seemed to direct a path straight to Blaine’s cock, thick and perfect and enough to make Sebastian’s mouth water. “Sebastian,” Blaine said, blush creeping up his neck, “you’re gonna give me a complex. Come up here?”

“Can you blame me, killer? I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Sebastian said as he positioned himself carefully on top of Blaine, groaning when their naked bodies made contact for the first time.

“So have I,” Blaine said, biting his lip.

“Yeah?” Sebastian lifted one hand from the bed where he was holding himself up, and ran his thumb underneath Blaine’s mouth, tugging his lip from its hold between his teeth.

“Yeah,” Blaine whispered, brushing their noses together.

“God, Blaine.” Sebastian dove in for a kiss, putting every ounce of desire and need that he’d felt for this boy for the better half of three years into it.

When they parted Sebastian began his descent, down Blaine’s neck and across his chest, mapping his nipples with his mouth, and then slowly back up again, leaving love bites in his wake.  He took another moment just to look at Blaine, the honey-hue of his eyes, pupils blown black, hair just starting to curl around his temples, and god if he wasn’t a sight. He started rocking their hips together, slowly at first, and then with Blaine’s hand on his ass guiding them, faster still. “What do you want, Blaine?” he grunted out between thrusts.

“This,” Blaine breathed, lips parted, eyes rolling back in his head, “this, please.”

Sebastian did as he was asked and kept thrusting, eking little moans out of Blaine, and making his body and the old metal bed beneath them shake.

“M’close,” Blaine said, pleading with Sebastian for more. “Touch me.”

Sebastian snaked his hand in between their bodies and made to grab both of their cocks in hand, when Blaine’s fingers circled his wrist, and guided his hand lower, and back, between his cheeks.

“Here.”

Sebastian stared at him with a mix of surprise and desire. He’d give Blaine everything and anything he wanted, tonight, and for as long as Blaine would have him, but this was a lot to process. Taking in Sebastian’s momentary stunned state, Blaine rolled his eyes in fond exasperation, and grabbed Sebastian’s hand once more, dragging it back up to his mouth, and pushed Sebastian’s first two fingers into his mouth, laving over them and getting them wet. He pulled them out with a lewd pop, and grinned playfully, before bringing them back down to his hole. Sebastian, for his part, seemed to have broken out of the trance he was in, and kissed Blaine roughly, while circling his finger over and over again in maddeningly slow circles, until Blaine could barely stand it any longer. “Inside,” he whimpered, “please.” Sebastian complied and eased a long finger inside, stretching him open.

“A finger in his ass, and still so polite,” Sebastian teased.

Blaine gave his shoulder a small shove. “Shut-uppp-Ohhh, god, just like that… another,” he pleaded. Sebastian eased a second finger in alongside the first, twisting his wrist, and crooking his fingers ever so slightly, causing Blaine to whimper and scrunch his eyes shut in pleasure.

“Jesus, look at you,” Sebastian murmured, glancing down at where his fingers were disappearing into Blaine over and over again.

Sebastian leaned back a bit and trailed his other hand down Blaine’s body, tweaking his nipples as he went, and began stroking him slowly, twisting and tugging, as Blaine’s breath punched out of him. He arched up into Sebastian’s fist on one particularly good stroke, body torn between the fingers around his cock, and the ones in his ass.

“Come on Blaine, I’ve got you,” Sebastian said, and Blaine opened his eyes at that, watching Sebastian watch him, and it was the look on his face that finally sent Blaine over the edge: awe, and patience, and maybe even the beginnings of love, and it was all that it took for him to start coming over Sebastian’s hand, mouth open wide in a silent cry.

It took a minute for Blaine to catch his breath, Sebastian lying patiently on his side, hand resting on the swell of Blaine’s belly. He turned towards Sebastian and met his mouth in the middle, not quite kissing, mouths just pressed together sharing breath. “Please, Blaine, it won’t take long,” he said against his lips, and it was his turn to plead as Blaine looked down to see Sebastian’s cock visibly throbbing against his leg. Blaine took it in hand and rubbed his thumb over the slit, collecting the precum that had gathered there. His strokes were hard and fast from the start, and he could tell that Sebastian was indeed close. He shuddered and grabbed hold of Blaine’s arm letting out the most guttural moan Blaine had ever heard. Their mouths were so close together that Blaine could feel it reverberate through his body. Bearing witness to Sebastian on the brink of ecstasy was nothing short of stunning, and Blaine let him know just that.

“You’re beautiful,” Blaine whispered, placing small kisses on his cheeks, across the bridge of his nose, and settling on his forehead as Sebastian climaxed. They fell back against the bed, exhausted and spent, though their bodies thrummed with the excitement of finally being together. Sebastian reluctantly got up to go to the bathroom for a soft cloth to clean them up, and when he returned Blaine was fighting to stay awake.

“It’s okay, B, you can go to sleep,” he said softly, lowering himself to the bed, and pulling the covers around them both. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Sebastian had just about fallen asleep, when he felt Blaine reach out for him and whack him softly in the chest. “Bas?”

“Hm?”

“Best. Day. Ever.” Blaine responded sleepily.

Sebastian laughed, pulling Blaine towards his chest. “Damn straight, killer.”

 

Sebastian woke up the next morning with an armful of boy, and a smile spread slowly across his face as he eased into consciousness. So it hadn’t just been a spectacularly good dream, then. He kissed the peanut-shaped birthmark on the back of Blaine’s neck, and then lower, laving over the broad planes of his back and delighting in the goosebumps that were left in his tongue’s wake. Blaine snuffled in his sleep, and Sebastian took that as his cue to move faster so that when Blaine awoke it would be to the feel of his cock in Sebastian’s mouth. He paused only when he reached the small tattoo on Blaine’s hip, not being able to resist giving it a kiss. He hadn’t known that seeing that little black mark would elicit such a thrill, but perhaps it was just that it was on Blaine that delighted him so. He ducked his head under the covers and settled himself in between Blaine’s legs, before wrapping his hand around the base of Blaine’s cock and licking a stripe up the shaft. He moaned softly as he felt it start to grow and expand in his mouth. Blaine groaned above him, “Whazzappen-??”

Blaine’s hips bucked up as he realized what was going on and he started to lose control. He thought he heard Sebastian gag slightly, but it was quickly replaced with a moan. He lifted the sheet up and looked down at Sebastian’s cherry red lips wrapped around his dick, and that image alone was almost enough to make him come right then and there. He took a deep breath to try and draw it out a little bit longer, hands tugging uselessly through Sebastian’s thick chestnut hair, but the pressure was too perfect, the suction too tight, and before he knew it he was coming in Sebastian’s mouth, choking on a silent scream.

 “Fuck, Blaine,” Sebastian moaned, nuzzling once more at the ink on his hip, and it was then that Blaine noticed Sebastian frantically rutting against the sheets, trying to get enough friction to get off.

“Come up here, I want to see you,” he panted out, voice hoarse from disuse. He guided Sebastian up by his hair and crashed their mouths together in some semblance of a kiss, snaking his hand between them and closing his fist around Sebastian’s cock, which sat thick and heavy against his belly. Sebastian fucked into Blaine’s hand, fast and furious, chasing his own release as little desperate moans spilled from his mouth and into Blaine’s. Finally, with one particularly good thrust, Sebastian tipped over the edge and came all over Blaine’s chest and hips. He slumped down on Blaine’s lower half, but not before licking a stripe through the come that had pooled in the area around Blaine’s tattoo. He gave it a little bite for good measure, “tattooing” his own mark onto Blaine’s skin in the process.

They stayed in bed for a little while longer, gliding in and out of sleep until Blaine noticed Sebastian staring up at him.

He smiled. “Whatcha thinking about?”

Sebastian hummed. “I feel greedy because all I can think about is calling you mine,” he said, thumbing gently over the small bruise blooming on Blaine’s hip.

“I am yours,” Blaine replied softly in response, as he resumed carding his hand through Sebastian’s hair. “And you’re mine.”

***

“You know, you never did tell me what changed your mind.”

“About what?”

“About coming on this trip.” Sebastian and Blaine laid tangled together in the hammock on the beach behind their cabin, trying (and failing) to name all of the constellations they could see.

Blaine was silent for a moment, thinking of how to explain what had made him decide to take such a leap of faith.

“A couple of nights after we met for coffee, I was in the middle of my yearly Harry Potter re-read, as you do–”

“As you do,” Sebastian echoed with a grin.

“And I got to the part in Deathly Hallows where Harry has to decide whether to return to the battle in the Forbidden Forest where his body lay broken and battered, or to leave this earthly plane and move on to the unknown.” Sebastian quirked an eyebrow at him, clearly a little confused as to where Blaine was going with this. “I mean, obviously, deciding whether or not to go to Thailand is not quite as dire,” Blaine hastened to add.

“I would hope not,” Sebastian deadpanned.  

“But the point is, he’s given the choice. Dumbledore tells him that if he decides not to go back he can board a train at King’s Cross, and simply go “on”. And it occurred to me that I could do that – I could choose to move forward and leave all the bad stuff behind.” Blaine paused, not sure how much of himself he wanted to lay bare but decided that if there was one person he trusted with the inner workings of his mind it was Sebastian. “I’ve always been so careful to try and do the “right” thing and make the “right” choices; to make my parents happy, to make the world happy, and because I didn’t want to chance being wrong.” He paused again, remembering how much some of his past choices had cost him, even if sometimes they were wrong only by other people’s standards: taking a boy he liked to a dance, “poking” a random stranger on Facebook, buying a ring… “But in that moment I realized that life will carry on either way, and I’m honestly just so damn tired of always being worried about doing the wrong thing. Because I have done the wrong thing, and I’m still here, aren’t I?” Isn’t that what he’d learned from Sadie Hawkins, from his break-up with Kurt, from all of life’s challenges, both big and small? They’d left him a little battered and bruised, perhaps, but he was here.

“Well I, for one, am glad you are. Here that is,” Sebastian interjected.

“Yeah?” Blaine asked, looking up to meet his eyes.

Instead of answering, Sebastian leaned down and captured his lips in a kiss.  He pulled back, only to reach out and run his thumb softly over Blaine’s cheek. “I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

Blaine brow’s furrowed in thought. “Umm… Mr. Holland’s Opus?”

Sebastian shook his head, disappointment clear on his face. “Blaine, please. This isn’t amateur hour.”

“You’re not going to tell me are you.”

“Nope,” Sebastian replied, popping the p.

“Jerk.”

Sebastian chuckled. “Perhaps, but I’m your jerk.”

Blaine rolled his eyes in amusement and snuggled back down into Sebastian’s arms and for the next few minutes they continued their star gazing.

“So, where to next?” Sebastian asked, breaking the silence.

Blaine turned in his arms, surprise written clearly on his face. He’d been trying not to think about what would happen when their trip came to an end, but he knew Sebastian would probably continue on travelling, and he, well… he would most likely return to Lima and try to get his life back on track. But surely Sebastian wasn’t suggesting that he go with him…?

“Cat got your tongue, Anderson?”

“You want me to come with you?”

“Of course I do. You can be a royal pain in the ass sometimes,” he teased, earning a half-hearted glare and a pinch to his side from Blaine in response, “but you have a fairly good sense of direction, you like to try new foods, and you do some pretty spectacular things with that mouth of yours.”

Blaine’s cheeks immediately flushed pink, and Sebastian would never tire of being the cause.

More seriously he added, “If you think I’m going to let you go back home without me, when I finally get to call you mine, you’re crazy.”

“Well, when you put it that way…” Blaine grinned toothily, happy in a way that he didn’t think would be possible again after his break-up with Kurt. He could feel the torn edges of his heart slowly being stitched back together in repair by the skilled hands of the boy next to him. “I hear Paris is beautiful this time of year.”

“You’re in luck, killer – I just so happen to know the perfect guide.”